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In This Edition

Bernie Sanders gives, "A Bold, Progressive Agenda For A Happier And Healthier New Year."

Eugene Robinson asks, "Who Isn't Running For The Democratic Presidential Nomination?"

Margaret Kimberley considers, "Elizabeth Warren And The Trap For Black Voters."

Jim Hightower gives, "Special Gifts For Special People."

David Swanson concludes, "Corrupt Spineless Iraqi Legislators Are Right."

John Nichols says, "Impeachment Will Be On The Table In 2019."

James Donahue examines, "Great Civilizations From Before Recorded Time."

William Rivers Pitt wonders, "What Fresh Hell In 2019? Your Guess Is As Good As Mine."

Heather Digby Parton gives the, "Worst Of Donald Trump In 2018."

Medea Benjamin states, "10 Good Things About 2018."

Charles P. Pierce warns, "The Republican Party As Presently Constituted Must Be Torn Down To Its Foundations. The Planet Depends On It."

Jimmy Carter explains, "How To Repair The U.S.-China Relationship-And Prevent A Modern Cold War."

Jane Stillwater spends, "Christmas In Paradise."

Con-gressman Frank Pallone D/NJ wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich makes, "America's New Year's Resolution: Remove Trump."

Chris Hedges concludes, "Resistance Is The Supreme Act Of Faith."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "White House Ficus To Leave For Virginia Arboretum After Declining Trump's Offer To Be Chief Of Staff," but first Uncle Ernie is having a deja vu, "Mexico Is Paying For The Wall."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Lalo Alcaraz, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Jane Stillwater, Natalie Behring, Stuart Carlson, Win McNamee, Mario Tama, Chip Somodevilla, Michael Brochstein, Pete Marovich, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Vidkun Quisling Award-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

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Mexico Is Paying For The Wall
I'm having a deju vu all over again
By Ernest Stewart

"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall. ~~~ Donald J. tRump

"Inevitably, this has caused massive changes, with most of the Arctic ice having already disappeared. And so now, ironically, we can deliver fossil fuels more quickly. It's like a heavy smoker using his tracheotomy to smoke two cigarettes at once." ~~~ Sarah North ~ senior oil strategist for Greenpeace International

"I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son. I would prefer my son to die in an accident than show up with a moustachioed man. ~~~ Jair Bolsonaro ~ Brazilian President

Help I need somebody
Help not just anybody
Help you know I need someone
Help ~~~ The Beatles

Did tRump just mean what he said? Of course not!
Is Trump as stupid as he seems to be? Why, yes he is, and then some!
I'm hoping that Nancy Pelosi hits the ground running and files articles of impeachment by the end of January. There is no reason not to, and dozens of reasons to do so, but knowing Nancy, I won't be holding my breath until she does!

In Other News

I see where the melting of the ice cap in the arctic may lead to some new problems of national sovereignty for all the nations bordering the arctic ocean!

With shipping times from China and Russia to Europe could be reduced by one third if vessels travel through the Arctic rather than the traditional routes in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.

Trade via the northernmost part of the world may be some way off - a test voyage carried out by Maersk proved costly as the ship still required a nuclear icebreaker to clear its path - but interested parties are already preparing to defend their right to use the route.

You may recall that an ocean liner the size of the Battleship Bismark has made a fall cruise from Alaska to New York City for the last three years without any problems! The bulk carrier the Nordic Orion is planning to make 10 voyages next year proves that it can be done on an economic basis; otherwise why do so many trips?

Military activity in the Arctic has stepped up in recent years, approaching Cold War levels, according to Brigadier General Jeff R Mac Mootry, director of operations in the Royal Netherlands Navy and Commandant General Royal Marines in the Netherlands Marine Corps.

"It's Cold War 3.0, it's far more complex than it was before," he says.

During the Cold War's first incarnation, the Dutch navy worked with the British military in the north Atlantic. Russian boats had to pass through the region to get from Murmansk - the country's only guaranteed ice-free naval base - to the south.

General Mac Mootry said allied forces are back in the same spots they were during the Cold War, and Russian presence in the region is increasing.

"Since the ice caps are melting we foresee shipping routes from Russia and China will go around the Arctic in future - which makes our position in the Arctic even more important," he said.

"It will cut distance from Asia to Europe by about one third."

In fact, this year a ship passed through the Arctic in winter without an icebreaker for the first time. The vessel contained liquefied natural gas.

The Canadians, like the Russians see an economic boom coming their way and are improving their northern port facilities to take advantage of the traffic and exploiting their new uncovering minerals and such. Global warming is a two edged sword, like I said gloabal warming has winners and losers and some times they're both!

And Finally

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday attended the inauguration of Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro aka "tRump of the tropics!"" Pompeo joined other fascist leaders, including Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungary's Viktor Orban, proving that the United States is running in the same circles as some of the world's most hardline, anti-democratic countries. Let's not forget, Russia, China and North Korea, quite a group eh? I'm curious why tRump didn't go himself.

Three days before his departure, the State Department provided the press with an official preview of the trip and took a few questions from reporters. The Washington Post asked a double-barrel question on Brazil.

"As you know, in Brazil, many members of civil society have expressed concern about incoming President Bolsonaro. Does the Secretary plan to talk with him about U.S. expectations for the need for democracy, human rights, protection of minorities and the rule of law when he takes power?"

"I'm certain that the Secretary and the president-elect will discuss human rights, and I would point you to -I realize there's been some concern about older statements that were made many years ago. Bolsonaro is taking a very strident and very forceful approach to human rights."

This is baffling, given that Bolsonaro, who is a big fan of President Donald Trump, favors torture and military dictatorship. As Bolsonaro put it:

"I am in favour of torture, you know that. And the people are in favour as well."

On elections he said:

"Elections won't change anything in this country. It will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn't do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that's fine. In every war, innocent people die."

On the ladies he said:

"I wouldn't rape you because you don't deserve it."

From an exchange with congresswoman Maria do Rosario in Brazil's lower house. Rosario later argued his comments had encouraged sexual assault. In a subsequent newspaper interview, Bolsonaro said Rosario was "not worth raping; she is very ugly."

tRump of the tropics indeed!

Keepin' On

Nothing's changed folks, the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."

For once I'm at a loss for words, imagine that! That's the trouble with being a sooth sayer. When people ask me what is it that I do, I have been known to say, "I piss people off." You'd be amazed how mad you can make some people by just telling the truth, saying the sooth! The Matrix, I hear, is very warm and comfortable, and over the years while we did unplug this, or that person, we found ourselves, mainly, just preaching to the choir! C'est la guerre!"

We'll keep fighting the good fight until the rest of the money runs out. If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep saying the sooth!


07-02-1950 ~ 12-29-2018
Thanks for the film!

10-26-1913 ~ 12-30-2018
Thanks for the film!

02-01-1937 ~ 12-31-2018
Thanks for the music!

12-01-1952 ~ 01-01-2019
Thanks for the music!

11-20-1942 ~ 01-02-2019
Thanks for the laughs!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can-?

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

A bird lands on then Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders podium as he spoke on March 25, 2016 in Portland, Oregon.
Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than eleven thousand about a wide range of issues, including getting big money out of politics, his plan
to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, combating climate change and ensuring universal health care.

A Bold, Progressive Agenda For A Happier And Healthier New Year
In the New Year, let us resolve to fight like we have never fought before for a government, a society and an economy that works for all of us, not just those on top.
By Bernie Sanders

The following is a New Year's Day email message sent to supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on January 1, 2019.

Dear friends,

Jane and I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very healthy and happy new year.

It goes without saying that 2019 will be a pivotal and momentous time for our country and the entire planet. As you know, there is a monumental clash now taking place between two very different political visions. Not to get you too nervous, but the future of our country and the world is dependent upon which side wins that struggle.

The bad news is that in the United States and other parts of the world, the foundations of democracy are under severe attack as demagogues, supported by billionaire oligarchs, work to establish authoritarian type regimes. That is true in Russia. That is true in Saudi Arabia. That is true in the United States. While the very rich get much richer these demagogues seek to move us toward tribalism and set one group against another, deflecting attention from the real crises we face.

The good news is that, all across this country, people are getting politically involved and are fighting back. They are standing up for economic, political, social and racial justice.

In the last year we saw courageous teachers, in some of the most conservative states in the country, win strikes as they fought for adequate funding for education.

We saw low paid workers at Amazon, Disney and elsewhere undertake successful struggles to raise their wages to a living wage - at least $15 an hour.

We saw incredibly courageous young people, who experienced a mass shooting in their school, lead successful efforts for commonsense gun safety legislation.

We saw diverse communities stand together in the fight against mass incarceration and for real criminal justice reform.

We saw tens of thousands of Americans, from every walk of life, take to the streets and demand that politicians respond to the global crisis of climate change.

As we enter 2019, it seems to me that we must mount a two-pronged offensive. First, we must vigorously take on the lies, bigotry and kleptocratic behavior of the most irresponsible president in the modern history of our country. In every way possible, we must stand up to the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and religious intolerance of the Trump administration.

But fighting Trump is not enough.

The truth is that despite relatively low unemployment, tens of millions of Americans struggle daily to keep their heads above water economically as the middle class continues to shrink.

While the rich get richer, 40 million live in poverty, millions of workers are forced to work two or three jobs to pay the bills, 30 million have no health insurance, one in five cannot afford their prescription drugs, almost half of older workers have nothing saved for retirement, young people cannot afford college or leave school deeply in debt, affordable housing is increasingly scarce, and many seniors cut back on basic needs as they live on inadequate Social Security checks.

Our job, therefore, is not only to oppose Trump but to bring forth a progressive and popular agenda that speaks to the real needs of working people. We must tell Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex, the National Rifle Association and the other powerful special interests that we will not continue to allow their greed to destroy this country and our planet.

Politics in a democracy should not be complicated. Government must work for all of the people, not just the wealthy and the powerful. As a new House and Senate convene next week, it is imperative that the American people stand up and demand real solutions to the major economic, social, racial and environmental crises that we face. In the richest country in the history of the world, here are some (far from all) of the issues that I will be focusing on this year. What do you think? How can we best work together?

Protect American democracy: Repeal Citizens United, move to public funding of elections and end voter suppression and gerrymandering. Our goal must be to establish a political system that has the highest voter turnout in the world and is governed by the democratic principle of one person - one vote.

Take on the billionaire class: End oligarchy and the growth of massive income and wealth inequality by demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes. We must rescind Trump's tax breaks for billionaires and close corporate tax loopholes.

Increase Wages: Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, establish pay equity for women and revitalize the trade union movement. In the United States, if you work 40 hours a week, you should not live in poverty.

Make health care a right: Guarantee health care for everyone through a Medicare-for-all program. We cannot continue a dysfunctional healthcare system which costs us about twice as much per capita as any other major country and leaves 30 million uninsured.

Transform our energy system: Combat the global crisis of climate change which is already causing massive damage to our planet. In the process, we can create millions of good paying jobs as we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Rebuild America: Pass a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. In the United States we must not continue to have roads, bridges, water systems, rail transport, and airports in disrepair.

Jobs for All: There is an enormous amount of work to be done throughout our country - from building affordable housing and schools to caring for our children and the elderly. 75 years ago, FDR talked about the need to guarantee every able-bodied person in this country a good job as a fundamental right. That was true in 1944. It is true today.

Quality Education: Make public colleges and universities tuition free, lower student debt, adequately fund public education and move to universal childcare. Not so many years ago, the United States had the best education system in the world. We must regain that status again.

Retirement Security: Expand Social Security so that every American can retire with dignity and everyone with a disability can live with security. Too many of our elderly, disabled and veterans are living on inadequate incomes. We must do better for those who built this country.

Women's rights: It is a woman, not the government, who should control her own body. We must oppose all efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, protect Planned Parenthood and oppose restrictive state laws on abortion.

Justice for All: End mass incarceration and pass serious criminal justice reform. We must no longer spend $80 billion a year locking up more people than any other country. We must invest in education and jobs, not jails and incarceration.

Comprehensive immigration reform: It is absurd and inhumane that millions of hardworking people, many of whom have lived in this country for decades, are fearful of deportation. We must provide legal status to those who are in the DACA program, and a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

Social Justice: End discrimination based on race, gender, religion, place of birth or sexual orientation. Trump cannot be allowed to succeed by dividing us up. We must stand together as one people.

A new foreign policy: Let us create a foreign policy based on peace, democracy and human rights. At a time when we spend more on the military than the next ten countries combined, we need to take a serious look at reforming the bloated and wasteful $716 billion annual Pentagon budget.

In the New Year, let us resolve to fight like we have never fought before for a government, a society and an economy that works for all of us, not just those on top.

Wishing you a wonderful new year,

Bernie Sanders

(c) 2019 Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont's at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his web site. Follow him on Twitter: @SenSanders or @BernieSanders

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at the National Press Club in Washington in August.

Who Isn't Running For The Democratic Presidential Nomination?
If you thought the 2016 GOP debates were crowded, just wait. This year, Democrats may have to debate in shifts, or perhaps stand on risers like a choir
By Eugene Robinson

It has begun.

The field of candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is starting to form, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) announcing Monday that she has launched a campaign "exploratory committee" - the same step that former housing and urban development secretary Julian Castro took earlier in December. Spoiler alert: Exploratory committees always come to the same conclusion. They're both running.

Actually, who isn't running? At this point, by some counts, as many as 30 potential Democratic candidates either have expressed interest in taking the plunge or have significant constituencies urging them to do so. If you thought the 2016 GOP debates were crowded, just wait. This year, Democrats may have to debate in shifts, or perhaps stand on risers like a choir.

And, no, they won't all be singing the same tune. That's a good thing. Even more than it needs new blood, the party needs new ideas. In the wake of President Trump's nihilistic vandalism, the next president will have much to do - not just healing the nation, but moving it forward.

Democratic hopefuls should have a vigorous argument about Medicare-for-all. They should have fact-based debates about comprehensive immigration reform, renewing our infrastructure, worker-friendly trade policy, the Middle East wars and the best ways to confront climate change.

And they should spend zero time worrying about whether the party is being pulled too far to the left or the right. One thing Trump's election has shown is that the left-right axis on which we traditionally situate politicians is irrelevant to many voters. I'm old enough to remember when the Republican Party supported a muscular foreign policy, believed in fiscal discipline and wanted to rein in entitlements. Post-Trump, Republicans are ready to pull out of Syria, exchange fist bumps for sky-high deficits and paint themselves as staunch defenders of socialized medicine, though they do not call it that.

So should retiring Democratic Rep. John Delaney of Maryland - an announced candidate who skipped the "exploratory" nonsense - be seen as a "centrist" because he supports letting companies repatriate money at a lower tax rate, with the revenue to be spent on infrastructure? Or is he a "progressive," as he claims, because of his support for bold steps against climate change, including a carbon tax?

Labels are not going to sort this field out. Let's see whose ideas catch fire.

To those who bemoan coverage of the "horse race" aspect of the contest: Sorry. That's what a campaign is, and it is ridiculous to try to assess any race without noting who's ahead and who's behind.

It is also ridiculous to give too much weight to polls taken months before the first debate, and more than a year before anyone actually casts a vote. With those caveats, a mid-December poll of Democrats in Iowa, whose caucus is the first primary contest, showed former vice president Joe Biden leading all potential contenders with 32 percent support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 19 percent, rising star Beto O'Rourke, a congressman from Texas, with 11 percent, Warren with 8 percent, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) with 5 percent, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) with 4 percent, former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg with 3 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) with 3 percent.

That's good news for all of the above. Biden and Sanders have run national campaigns, and their support is surely boosted by superior name recognition. Still, if they choose to run, they have a head start. O'Rourke should be especially happy, since he had no national profile at all before his electrifying - but unsuccessful - 2016 campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who should have waltzed to reelection but, instead, almost got sent home to Houston.

Warren should be pleased, too. She has systematically laid the groundwork for her candidacy, traveling widely around the country, establishing connections, displaying her prowess as a fundraiser. Her appeal as a champion of the beleaguered middle class could resonate at a time when the phrase "economic populism" defines an increasingly powerful, if still fuzzy, strain of thought.

Bloomberg can spend billions of his own dollars campaigning, if he chooses, but might encounter a public wary of sending another wealthy Manhattanite to the White House. Harris, Booker and Klobuchar should be delighted to be on the map. And at least two other senators - Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York - seem likely to be major players before this is over.

And keep this in mind: On New Year's Day 2015, no rational person thought Donald Trump would become president. Candidate X may be offstage, waiting to pounce. Buckle up.

(c) 2019 Eugene Robinson writes a regular column for The Washington Post.

Elizabeth Warren And The Trap For Black Voters
By Margaret Kimberley

Whether Democrats are openly obstructionist corporatists like Pelosi, or liberal sounding like Warren, they will not consider any meaningful systemic reforms.

The next presidential election in the United States is now just one year away. In January 2020 the process begins with the Iowa caucuses followed quickly by the New Hampshire primary and contests across the country. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the first to officially announce the formation of a campaign exploratory committee.

The role of black voters in this process must be discussed before any more candidacy announcements are made. If not, black people will be no better off than when Donald Trump was elected. As the race begins let us remember that there is still a rock solid attachment to the Democratic Party and to all of its failures. The black misleaders have not been dislodged. The Democratic Party's corrupt alliance with corporate interests led to their defeat and to the election of the openly racist Donald Trump. Unfortunately there has been little examination of the 2016 debacle and in fact Democrats have doubled down on all of their strategies which led to a Trump administration.

Elizabeth Warren talks a good progressive game but her description of herself as "capitalist to my bones" is an indication that she will only go so far. She signed on to Medicare For All legislation but also sponsored her own bill which undercuts that effort. That stance isn't surprising. Adherence to private sector control of the health care system is what capitalists do.

But Warren herself is not the only issue. She will be followed by others throwing their hats into the ring. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are all expected to follow suit. Texas congressman Robert "Beto" O'Rourke is the latest flavor of the month and favorite of corporate Democrats. O'Rourke has been called Obama 2.0, a pretty face with center right politics who is sold to voters as a progressive savior.

Black voters will again be the losers if there is no discussion or debate about how to make political demands. If there is no serious reflection about 2016 that will be the case even if a Democrat wins. We already see the meager benefits of Democratic control of Congress. Nancy Pelosi speaks of forcing Donald Trump to release his tax records but doesn't discuss anything that will motivate new voters to come out or bring any benefits to the masses of people.

Their choice is quite deliberate. Whether Democrats are openly obstructionist corporatists like Pelosi, or liberal sounding like Warren, they will not consider any meaningful systemic reforms. The Warrens of the world may in fact be equally dangerous. Instead of Medicare For All she proposes The Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act. This mouthful of a name is a plan to provide subsidies to pay for a system that is unnecessarily costly. Like Obamacare, it enshrines private sector control, which is the cause of all our health care problems.

Likewise, her Accountable Capitalism Act is a sleight of hand. Capitalism is inherently unaccountable to the people. It sounds good to include workers on corporate boards but Warren's proposal would apply only to those valued at $1 billion or more. That loophole leaves out millions of people. Managing capitalism never works very well in any case. Warren and her ilkought to be known for accepting the status quo and not for turning back the clock to regain what right wing Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama gave us: endless austerity and war.

Black people must take the lead before it is too late. Our reluctance to deviate even slightly from Democratic Party dogma has done us no favor. While the fear of Republican control silenced us, Democrats lost over 900 legislative seats across the country. Silence is not golden in the political arena.

The early primaries located in southern states will play a huge role in determining the eventual nominee. In the South, Democrat means black and those voters have every right to ask hard questions and make clear demands.Going along gave us nothing but NAFTA, the loss of the right to public assistance, bank bailouts, a right wing health care scheme and finally a Republican in the White House who embodied all of our worst fears.

Our plight will worsen if the people who failed so miserably are given undeserved trust yet again. The moment is ripe to oppose them, to assert our own political will, and to speak for true self-determination. That effort may lead to a split in the Democratic Party but that outcome should not be feared either. Up until now our political power has been wasted on fear, fear of the Republicans who have ended up in office anyway.

On election night in 2016 this columnist wrote, "The destruction of the Democratic Party and creation of a truly progressive political movement is the only hope for black America." That movement is stymied whenever a particular Democrat is examined for his or her worthiness. By now we know that is a loser's game. The 2016 campaign must be the last one in which black voters played the role of loyal chumps.

(c) 2019 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Special Gifts For Special People
By Jim Hightower

Ho-Ho-Ho, wait till you hear about the gifts I gave to some of America's power elites for Christmas.

To each of our Congress critters, I sent my fondest wish that from now on they receive the exact same income, health care, and pensions that we average citizens get. If they receive only the American average, it might make them a bit more humble - and less cavalier about ignoring the needs of regular folks.

To the stockings of GOP leaders who've so eagerly debased themselves to serve the madness of Donald Trump, I added individual spritzer bottles of fragrances like "Essence of Integrity" and "Eau de Self-respect" to help cover up their stench. And in the stockings of Democratic congressional leaders, I put "Spice of Viagra" and "Bouquet du Grassroots" to stiffen their spines and remind them of who they represent.

For America's CEO's, my gift is a beautifully boxed, brand new set of corporate ethics. It's called the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Going to pollute someone's neighborhood? Then you have to live there, too. Going to slash wages and benefits? Then slash yours as well. Going to move your manufacturing to sweatshops in China? Then put your office right inside the worst sweatshop. Executive life won't be as luxurious, but CEO's would glow with a new purity of spirit.

To the Wall Street hedge-fund hucksters who've conglomerated, plundered, and degraded hundreds of America's newspapers, I've sent copies of "Journalism for Dummies" and offered jobs for each of them in their stripped-down, Dickensian newsrooms. Good luck.

And what better gift to the Trump family - Donald, Ivanka and Jared, Eric, Donnie Jr., and the whole nest of them - than to wish that they live with each other constantly and permanently. No, really, each of you deserve it.

(c) 2019 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Corrupt Spineless Iraqi Legislators Are Right
By David Swanson

You've got 5,000 armed foreign troops stationed in your country. You don't say a word until the idiot foreign emperor stages a surprise visit. Then you're outraged principally because he didn't notify you or meet with you or put up any pretense that your country belonged to you in any way. At that point you demand that the U.S. occupation of Iraq finally be brought to a bitter better-late-than-never end. And you're damn right.

The U.S. has been helping Iraq into ever-worsening catastrophe for longer than almost anyone can remember, supporting European imperialists, backing both sides in a war with Iran, propping up a horrendous dictator, bombing Baghdad in the First Gulf War, slaughtering civilians and retreating troops, imposing starvation sanctions, bombing routinely, shock-and-aweing a horrific sociocide, killing millions, throwing millions out of their homes, creating disease epidemics, demolishing infrastructure, training death squads, stirring up terrorism, flooding the region with weapons, fueling regional rivalries, attacking neighboring countries. If, after all that, a photo-op by an orange-haired buffoon becomes grounds for finally ending it, that's more than fine with me.

Just the latest installment of the assault on the birthplace of doomed Western civilization began 16 years ago this coming March. The annual protests of the war in the U.S. and other NATO countries have long since (disgracefully and inexcusably) ended. People now legally driving cars were not even born when the U.S. government came up with the clever name "Shock and Awe" for the criminal and terrorist strategy of so devastating a city with death and destruction as to thrill the most sadistic warmongers while allowing them to pretend to believe the result would be surrender or - somehow - friendly, grateful welcoming and thanks. People not yet alive for that are now being recruited by the U.S. military, taught that they can either gripe or vote(!!!), and hitting 30,000 hours of television viewed - don't even ask about video games.

At around $1 trillion per year in military spending by the U.S. government, justified principally by the need to destroy Iraq, we're now looking at $16 trillion or so, an amount which almost certainly could have saved the earth's environment for human life had it been spent on that instead of on an operation that, at its height, put the U.S. military higher than almost all entire nations on earth in a ranking of petroleum consumption per year.

Through the course of this barbaric crime - no mistake, no error, no misjudgment, no strategically flawed noble operation, but crime in the ranks of the greatest crimes ever - U.S. politicians have proven as principle-free and opportunistic as any of their Iraqi counterparts. We've been told to support the war, to oppose it, to pretend that escalating it would end it, to pretend that deescalating it was ending it, to blame Obama for the agreement Bush signed to end it, to credit Trump for not ending it, to blame Iraqis for not appreciating it, to honor Americans for participating in it, and generally to load up our skulls with so much bullshit you could plant us upside down in a desert and grow a rainforest.

Basta! End it! Remove every troop, every mercenary, every contractor, every base, every weapon, every flag. Load up the planes, lift them off the ground, and get the Fallujah out. If you want to do good rather than harm, send actual aid, send reparations, send apologies, promise never to do it again, join the International Criminal Court and send top guilty parties over for indictment and trial. Democratize the United Nations and commit to obeying the law. Stop raising the planetary thermostat to the point that will make Iraq uninhabitable. That, along with ending the wars on Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria, seems like the least we could do. Let's resolve to take that positive step in the coming year if not the coming week.

(c) 2019 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Impeachment Will Be On The Table In 2019
By John Nichols

Congresswoman Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, has for more than a year argued that President Trump needs to be impeached. Initially, Moore's was something of a voice in the wilderness, as most top Democrats persisted in arguing that the constitutional response to a lawless presidency was "off the table." But the president's many year-end meltdowns, as well as revelations regarding his past wrongdoing, have turned the conversation toward precisely the accountability issues that Moore has been raising.

Indeed, if Americans take seriously the impeachment process that led to the end of Richard Nixon's presidency in 1974, then we can no longer neglect the arguments for Trump's impeachment.

The first article of impeachment against Nixon stemmed from illegal activity during the 1972 presidential campaign and specifically indicted the sitting president for: "Making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct."

As 2018 closed, Trump stood accused of engaging in illegal activity during the 2016 presidential campaign and of making false and misleading statements about those activities. That was the essential takeaway from statements by Michael Cohen, the president's longtime lawyer and associate who revealed that candidate Trump directed him to make illegal payments in order to prevent revelations of Trump's personal wrongdoing before the 2016 election.

A clear-eyed consideration of what we now know with regard to the president's actions reopens and extends the impeachment discussion that Moore and others began more than a year ago. To deny this fact is to deny the reality and the intent of the Constitution to which members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will swear their fealty when the 116th Congress is constituted in January.

The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, effectively acknowledged this truth following the release of a sentencing memo in which prosecutors with the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office explained: "In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1."

"Individual-1" is the sitting president of the United States.

The coordination of illegal activities is no small matter. As Nadler says, "Certainly, they're impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office."

Nadler's observation of this fact does not mean that an impeachment inquiry will come quickly, or proceed easily. There are no guarantees as to where the ongoing inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller will lead. Nor are there guarantees regarding the path that will be taken by the Judiciary Committee or the Congress. But the days of dismissing discussions about impeachment as a possible and practical response to this president's wrongdoing have ended.

Impeachment is going to be "on the table" in 2019.

(c) 2019 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A find in Guatemala

Great Civilizations From Before Recorded Time
By James Donahue

Regular readers know that I have been fascinated by the amazing number of anomalies being uncovered from deep in the earth and under the world's oceans, many of them defying the historical record long cherished by contemporary historians and Bible scholars.

The latest discoveries include satellite images that appear to define an ancient city, complete with massive buildings and 200-foot-tall pyramids, on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. A group of French undersea archaeologists claim the ruins may prove to be older than the pyramids of Egypt.

And in northern Brazil, in the Amazon jungle near the Bolivian border, aerial observers are finding emerging ruins of once great cities, complete with giant avenues, ditches and buildings all suggesting that an advanced civilization once existed in areas unexplored by modern man.

What is surprising is that because of deforestation, examinations of images from aircraft or from Google Earth are revealing more and more structures in a vast area of jungle within the great Amazon Basin.

"Every week we find new structures," said Denise Schaan of Federal University in Belem, Brazil. The ruins are found in a variety of geometric shapes including squares, rectangles, concentric circles and complex hexagons and octagons.

Among the latest discoveries have been massive geometric designed carved in the earth. The designs, called geoglyphs, are almost impossible to see from the ground, but as the trees from the rainforests have been cut away, satellite views from space are spotting them.

So are nearly 300 geoflyphs, including circles, squats and lines measuring more than a mile in length and width, have been revealed and more are believed to still be hidden from view. The images remind us of similar earthen designs found by early settlers in North America known as "garden beds." The reason for such earthen art remaines a mystery.

All of this points to the realization that great civilizations once flourished in parts of the planet that we would never have expected to find human footprints. The findings also suggest that humans have been on this planet much longer than Bible scholars and Christian influenced historians would have us believe.

There has been a revival of an ancient spiritual belief, largely influenced by the Hindu faith, that many humans living today are very ancient souls that have lived many lives on this planet, and that they will continue to do so as long as Earth will support life.

The evidence grows, as more and more anomalies are discovered, that humans have been on this planet off-and-on for millions if not hundreds of millions of years. Many of these appearances of mankind were significant, with the development of great civilizations and the erection of great stone monuments that survived whatever events occurred that drove these people into near extinction.

It has been said that each person carries the history of all life, evolution and human history within the DNA of every cell. The information is all stored there, as if held in a fantastically miniature computerized library, just waiting for us to figure out how to read it.

Indeed, contemporary genetic research and micro-biology is unlocking this amazingly complex puzzle. We are getting closer to opening that amazing library door with each passing day. We thus find irony in the failure of existing civilizations to choose to do something to stop the excessive populating, poisoning and destruction of our home in this star system. If it has been ordained that we return after death to exist again and again, the realization of a looming end of life should be frightening us all.

(c) 2019 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

President Donald Trump delivers remarks before signing the Agriculture Improvement Act during a ceremony in the
South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on December 20, 2018, in Washington, DC.

What Fresh Hell In 2019? Your Guess Is As Good As Mine.
By William Rivers Pitt

"Buy the ticket, take the ride." - Hunter S. Thompson

I spent the day after Christmas being wrong. In the morning, before the opening bell on the stock market in New York, I announced to my friends there would be a 1,000-point drop by the closing bell. Hell, the TV network people were practically predicting an attack by Godzilla after a long holiday weekend of Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin lobbing hand grenades into the pool. I felt like I was on pretty safe ground.

Not so much. When the bell rang at the end of the largest Dow gain in history, my friends all had some sport with me. There was nothing for it; I had to self-own. I wasn't simply, merely wrong. I was binary wrong. Wet and dry wrong. Cat and dog wrong. The Dow finished the day 1,086 points up; I was 86 points from pitching a perfect game of wrongness. It was a quantum singularity of nope. A Death Star of fail. That much wrong should have its own congressman.

This is all by way of saying that writing the New Year's article is a pain in the ass because the prediction business is for the birds. If you had pulled me aside at this time last year and given me 10,000 chances to guess what would happen between then and now, I would not have known where to begin.

"Articles like this are supposed to end in ringing fashion," I wrote in last year's version of this article, "but I'm fresh out of rings as we stumble into this brave new year. I've talked about the need for endurance and the promise of peace in recent days, but in all honesty, I have no idea which horizon the sun will peek over tomorrow. I am so uncertain about the future that even the absolutes are turning to water."

A year later and the song remains the same. It is just too weird out there for predictions. All the variables have very sharp teeth, and some even have subpoena power.

I can, however, hazard a few guesses.

First of all, things will get worse in all the places the US has already torn to shreds. In Iraq and Syria, in Afghanistan and Yemen, and in other places we haven't even thought of yet, there will be war, agony, famine, displacement and plenty of profiteering for those who like to get in on the ground floor of a bloodbath with a bagful of bullets and keys to the armory. Cruel seeds, planted in the Middle East by two presidents named Bush and watered by two presidents named Clinton and Obama, have come to full thorny bloom after 27 years of lucrative strife, creating a situation so perfectly awful that every decision made going forward, even seemingly good ones, will lead to massive body counts.

The ocean will come, the fires will rise, and I believe this may be the year the United States loses an entire city to the consequences of climate change. We nearly lost New Orleans to Katrina in 2005, New York and New Jersey got walloped by Sandy in 2012, Houston took a hard punch from Harvey in 2017, Maria nearly scourged Puerto Rico off the map that same year, and the town of Paradise, California, is ashes after the drought-fueled Camp Fire this past November. It will be worse this year, and worse again next year, because science. Sooner or later, a major metropolitan area will be claimed by the sea or incinerated to the stumps.

As for politics, gadzooks, you may as well take one of those 8-ball prediction doodads up to the roof of the tallest building in town and chuck it over the ledge. "ANSWER UNCLEAR, ASK AGAIN L-A-A-A-A-A-A ..." I'd sooner bet the Preakness ponies if they ran 'em backwards than try to conjure some sort of sensible road map from here to 2020.

The Democrats have a historic chance to not only put a rogue president in check from their new majority in the House, but to set the stage for what by all rights should be a rout in the next presidential election, so of course, I have to worry about them finding a way to screw it up. The back and fill work is already happening; progressive newcomers have been taking withering fire from Democrats and other establishment liberals because they might actually try to get something done, like the Green New Deal being touted by Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for one example. That kind of thing will keep happening because the old bulls only like change if it comes in coins after buying a muffin.

As for the Republicans, I have high confidence that this will be the year when their marriage of convenience with Trump finally hits the reef and sinks like a bathtub full of lead. The far-right House Freedom Caucus will carry Trump's water to the limited degree they can from the minority, and in doing so will further estrange themselves and the president from Republicans in the Senate and the population at large. One of these days, and sooner probably than later, calls from the White House to Mitch McConnell's office will go directly to voicemail or will simply be put on hold, with "The Girl From Ipanema" playing on an endless loop.

And Trump? I'm pretty sure he's in for a bad year, bigly. The Mueller report will land with a meaty thud, crack open, and all manner of pit vipers will come slithering out looking to sink their fangs into presidential flesh. Everything from obstruction of justice to overt election collusion with Russia to international money laundering is potentially in play, and he has only so many moves to deploy before the walls come down.

Trump's new attorney general can quash Mueller's investigation and he can personally pardon everyone and everything including the sink in the men's room, but Trump will still be in serious legal peril from about a half-dozen investigations coming out of the State of New York. They have the president's paperwork, his former personal attorney and his accountant in hand. For a lifelong grifter like Trump, that's a bad day waiting to happen.

It is just too weird out there for predictions. All the variables have very sharp teeth. Trump's base always votes in the primaries and will therefore be enough of an ongoing threat to keep rank-and-file Republicans in line, lest they risk facing a primary challenge from candidates who want to build a wall around the moon so the terrorists won't steal our cheese ... but they cannot keep Trump safe from himself, and he is, as ever, his own worst enemy.

My Hail Mary Long Shot Prediction for 2019? Donald Trump will resign before the end of the year and spend the rest of his days watching his brand crumble while fighting subpoenas from various agencies in the Empire State. He will just get fed up and go, leaving us with a politically immobilized President Pence and a 2020 election that will be peerless in the annals of havoc.

You know, or not.

In the end, all I know for certain is this: You and I have work to do. We are the ones we've been waiting for, and we've been here all along. The only good thing that can be said of an age where so much has gone so badly wrong is the fact that so much good can be done to try and make it better. From racial justice to the decarceration struggle, from salvaging the climate to the #MeToo movement, from gun reform to police reform, from voting rights to immigration rights to LGBTQ+ rights and beyond, we have within reach of our arm the power to tilt this sad, strange world ever so slightly on its axis. All we have is each other, and that is enough. It has to be.

Happy New Year.

(c) 2019 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Worst Of Donald Trump In 2018
It's so hard to choose: Kim Jong-un in Singapore? Putin in Helsinki? "Horseface"? But there's a clear winner
By Heather Digby Parton

I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure I aged at least a decade in 2018. This accelerated political news cycle in the Trump era has the effect of making every day feel like a week and every month feel like a year. With all the chaos and perpetual motion, it would be easy to simply dismiss the whole thing as one big mess. But it isn't. It's all bad, but some things are much worse than others. And yes, the president of the United States is responsible for all of them. Nobody else even comes close.

Trump hurled some personal insults this year that were truly obnoxious, even for him. He called adult film actress Stormy Daniels "Horseface." He said dozens of times in his rallies and his twitter feed that Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, is "low IQ" (while at the same time declaring himself a "very stable genius"). He called his former staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman "that dog" and cruelly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her testimony during Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination hearing. He tweeted, "Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn't easy to do. I like Mike!"

Members of his own administration weren't spared, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who Trump tweeted was "dumb as a rock" and didn't have the "mental capacity" for the job. We can assume that 2019 will bring similar tweets about soon-to-be-former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation letter angered Trump greatly once the pundits on TV explained to him what it meant. His insults toward former members of the intelligence community are too many to list, but one of the big low points of the year was his impulsive decision to pull the security clearances of former CIA director John Brennan in a fit of pique.

It goes without saying that Trump has spent most of the year decrying Robert Mueller's investigation and making wild accusations against anyone and everyone he believes threatens him. (He often simply tweets "Witch Hunt!" as a sort of primal scream into the void.) Nothing threatens him more than the media, which he calls the "enemy of the people." This is an ongoing low point for the presidency -- no single comment or tweet stands out. His Twitter freak flag flies on a daily basis, every day bringing a fresh outrage.

But there have been some specific low points in 2018 that merit acknowledgment for their seriousness. Trump's infantile rhetoric is one thing. Perhaps the republic will be able to restore some semblance of maturity and decency to the office once he's gone. But his policy decisions and behavior on the world stage are something else.

Trump hit the ground running in January with a series of belligerent tweets taunting the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. The most memorable would be the one in which he wrote, "please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" The president later cast aside all normal protocol and met with Kim in an elaborately staged but substance-free meeting in Singapore which Trump later described as the moment he and the murderous dictator "fell in love."

This qualifies as a low point for a number of reasons. Despite the fact that Trump's bizarre approach to diplomacy, more or less by accident, temporarily ratcheted down the tensions he had ratcheted up, he showed the world that he's a sap. If that only embarrassed the U.S., that would be one thing. Americans can take it. But the consequences could be a lot more severe if other ambitious leaders with a little more savvy decide to push the envelope.

That brings us to another low point: Trump's "summit" with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Remember: That came on the heels of him making an utter ass of himself, first at the G8 meeting in Canada and then the NATO meeting in Europe, where he went out of his way to insult every one of America's allies and even showed up late to meet the Queen of England. It was a performance that made the Singapore pageant looks downright stately by comparison.

It was clear Trump was champing at the bit to get to his big meeting with Putin. The two leaders met in private in an unrecorded session for two hours and then emerged for a press conference in which Trump behaved as if he were the Russian president's majordomo. In one of the most memorable moments of his presidency thus far, he made it clear that he did not believe his own intelligence community was more credible than the Russian leader, even saying at one point he didn't see any reason why the Russians would have tried to sabotage his rival in the 2016 election. (He later fatuously asserted that he'd really meant to say that he didn't see why they wouldn't, which made no sense at all.)

That press conference was a turning point for a lot of people, I think. Trump's performance was so outrageously weak and sycophantic it became hard to deny that something was extremely awry in that relationship. Putin seemed very pleased, however.

All those things and many others too numerous to list are low points of 2018. In fact the whole year is a low point. But to my mind nothing is lower than the fact that Donald Trump believes that separating children, even infants, from their parents at the U.S. border -- putting the kids in cages and then losing track of hundreds of them as their parents were deported -- was a justifiable "deterrent." Trump reportedly calls their nations "shithole countries" and threatens their leaders with a cutoff of aid if they don't somehow keep their citizens from seeking refuge in the U.S. (Does he want them to build a wall to keep their people in?)

Trump has created a crisis where none existed -- illegal immigration and asylum claims are quite low by historical standards -- out of bigotry and rank political opportunism. His administration has changed the rules and procedures, forcing people to take more and more dangerous risks. And now children are dying. Two kids under age 10 have died in government custody under dubious conditions in the past month.

This is what the president of the United States had to say about that:

It is the very end of 2018. The government is shut down over Trump's demand for a wall at the border, while refugee children die in our government's custody. Our president does not show even a scintilla of empathy or take any responsibility. That's low, even for him. I hesitate to think what 2019 is going to bring.

(c) 2019 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Protesters from the Sunrise Movement, an environmental advocacy group, staged a protest inside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office.

10 Good Things About 2018
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and here are some rousing points of light from 2018, both domestic and international
By Medea Benjamin

Yes, you could say I'm trying to put lipstick on a pig. 2018 was a year of whiplash, a never-ending series of assaults on our environment, immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, the poor, international law. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and here are some rousing points of light from 2018, both domestic and international.

1. The election of the progressive new members of Congress, particularly women of color such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Ayanna Pressley and Sharice Davids. Before even taking office they are shaking up the D.C. establishment: Calling out lobbyists for briefing new members of Congress? Refusing to take the "mandatory" AIPAC trip to Israel? Paying congressional interns? Calling for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All? It's head-spinning for the establishment and thrilling for the rest of us. With these new progressive allies, with Democrats now controlling the House, and with an expanded and invigorated Progressive Caucus, we have a chance to drag centrist Democrats into supporting policies that might not be popular with their big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

2. 2018 was a year of awe-inspiring youth activism. The Parkland school shooting two days after Valentine's Day led to a massive student-led movement for tougher gun laws. Students mobilized in Washington, D.C., at March for Our Lives and in schools across the country. This same kind of energy and creativity exploded with the Sunrise Movement, a youth movement determined to make climate change an urgent priority for U.S. elected officials with a Green New Deal. And just as the year was coming to an end, a sensational 15-year-old student from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, captured world attention at the UN climate summit with her call for youth to hold adults accountable for the mess they've created. In a fabulous example of synergy between young activists, Greta's school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) was itself inspired by the walkouts initiated by the Parkland students.

3. An historical turning point was reached this year to start breaking up the 75-year U.S.-Saudi alliance. With three years of relentless Saudi bombing of Yemen leading to the world's greatest human catastrophe and the barbaric murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Congress and business leaders finally began to question their relationship with this retrograde kingdom and its brutal de facto leader Mohammad bin Salman. In an unprecedented vote, the Senate approved a measure to halt U.S. support to the Saudis in Yemen, which is helping promote a negotiated settlement. The effort to curb Trump's support for the Saudi war in Yemen comes at the same time that Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and a halving of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Maybe, just maybe, 2019 will mark the winding down of the disastrous wars that have marked U.S. policy since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

4. Labor organizing has been on the rise, from teachers to high-tech workers. The audacious 13-day strike by teachers in West Virginia won a 5 percent pay increase and launched a wave of similar actions from Oklahoma to Arizona. West Virginia teachers stood with bus drivers, janitors, school kitchen staff before calling an end to the strike, refusing to take a pay increase until everyone's demands were met. In the tech industry, Google employees pushed the company to end its contract to help with Pentagon with artificial intelligence that could be used in drone strikes. They also demanded that Google not cooperate with Chinese censorship. Microsoft employees are pushing the company to break its contract with ICE; Amazon workers want Jeff Bezos to stop supplying facial recognition technology to the police.

5. Florida's restoration of voting rights through Amendment 4, the ballot measure lifting the state's permanent ban on voting by anyone with a felony conviction, received overwhelming support from nearly 65 percent of voters. It restores voting rights for some 1.4 million people, potentially changing the Florida-and national-electoral landscape, since most formerly incarcerated people vote Democratic and the 2000 president election was determined in Florida by a mere 537 votes. Iowa and Kentucky are now the only states that must change this retrograde lifetime ban. But with the myriad examples of voter suppression in the 2018 election, voter rights must be a key focus before 2020!

6. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the coalition of environmental and Indigenous groups that have been opposing the pipeline for years. Among the opponents is the Cheyenne River tribe. Like Standing Rock in the case of the Dakota pipeline, the Cheyenne River tribe fears a tar sands oil spill from the pipeline would contaminate its waters. President Obama, under tremendous pressure from the grassroots, halted further work in 2015 but Trump started it up again in 2017. Thanks to legal challenges, in November a federal court blocked any further work until the Trump administration undertakes a serious review of its climate impact. This reprieve gives organizers more organize!

7. Medicare for All has the highest level of public support ever recorded. An August poll found that a whopping 70 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans, back the single-payer plan. When Senator Bernie Sanders promoted this idea during his presidential campaign, he was pilloried by liberal commentators. Well, guess what? Medicare for All now has support from 124 House members and 16 senators, including most of the high-profile likely 2020 presidential contenders. Even Barack Obama, who eschewed single-payer in favor of the Affordable Care Act during his presidency, has now endorsed Medicare for All. In 2018, the Congressional "Medicare For All Caucus" was launched with 76 members. Since health care was the top concern for voters in the 2018 midterms, Medicare for All should be a no-brainer for politicians who care more about their constituents than Big Pharma.

8. The election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico is a bright spot. In a dismal landscape in Latin America, where right-wing governments are on the rise. Crushing the two old dynastic political parties, the PAN the PRI, AMLO's Movement for National Regeneration, or Morena, was just founded in 2014. Ruling a nation mired in drugs, violence and poverty will be tough, but check out the incredible policies he has already put in place! Also, Mexico City elected its first woman mayor, who is also Sephardic Jewish, a leftist, a climate scientist, and a Nobel Peace prize winner. Her first act was to disband the riot police, who have been responsible for much of the political violence in Mexico City.

9. Ethiopia's new prime minister, 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed, took office in April and immediately went to work ending the 20-year war with Eritrea, releasing thousands of prisoners, allowing dissidents to return home and lifting censorship. Then he appointed a cabinet with 50 percent women and the nation's first female president! His astounding reforms have won him adoration among millions, but he has been challenged with an assassination attempt by the old guard and ethnic clashes. His message to the nation's 90 ethnic groups remains one that Donald Trump should hear: "Take down the wall, build the bridge."

10. Armenia experienced a dramatic, people power uprising against corrupt, autocratic rulers, in which one out of every three Armenians participated. The campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience was led by a young member of parliament, Nikol Pashinyan. After initially attacking the protesters, the police later joined them. In April, the massive street protests were so powerful they pushed the prime minister to resign and coerced the ruling party to elect the opposition street leader, Pashinyan, as prime minister. In December, the new political bloc went on to trounce the former ruling party 70 percent to 5 percent in parliamentary elections. This "velvet revolution," which represented the climax of a decade of peaceful protest focused on human rights, women's rights, workers' rights and environmentalism, succeeded in taking power without shedding a drop of blood!

So there you have it. Despite Trump in the White House and the rise of right-wing movements around the globe, 2018 was chock full of good things-most of which went underreported because of all the attention on Donald Trump. And oh, speaking of Trump, I left out probably the most important development of all: the wagons encircling Trump, making his presidency seems less and less tenable. So...put on your seatbelts and hold tight-or better yet, prepare to take to the streets. If you thought 2018 was frenetic, 2019 promises to be one helluva ride.

(c) 2019 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

The Republican Party As Presently Constituted Must Be Torn Down To Its Foundations. The Planet Depends On It.
Our new environmental reality was not inevitable. It is, in many cases, the result of public policy.
By Charles P. Pierce

So, over the weekend, another child died in the custody of the United States because of the president*'s brainless immigration policy. The president* flew halfway around the world for a 30-minute photo-op with some soldiers because he was shamed into doing so, and this was shortly after he was shamed into submarining a deal on the southern border by Rush Limbaugh and a chorus of lower primates. At this point, I think he could be shamed into jumping off the Truman Balcony dressed as Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

Nonetheless, out in the country, his administration is doing damage that will take years to reverse, even assuming we can, and likely will cost the lives of people he sees only as members of his most recent constituency of suckers.

On Thursday, The New York Times took a vast and comprehensive look at the consequences of this administration's assault on decades of environmental regulation and protection. It is an incredible compendium of neglect and deliberate vandalism. It is a calendar of destruction and disease. And it's only a snapshot. None of these horrors are going to stop until the political power of this administration is broken and scattered to the four winds.

With this running start, Mr. Trump is already on track to leave an indelible mark on the American landscape, even with a decline in some major pollutants from the ever-shrinking coal industry. While Washington has been consumed by scandals surrounding the president's top officials on environmental policy - both the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior secretary have been driven from his cabinet - Mr. Trump's vision is taking root in places as diverse as rural California, urban Texas, West Virginian coal country and North Dakota's energy corridor.
While the Obama administration sought to tackle pollution problems in all four states and nationally, Mr. Trump's regulatory ambitions extend beyond Republican distaste for what they considered unilateral overreach by his Democratic predecessor; pursuing them in full force, Mr. Trump would shift the debate about the environment sharply in the direction of industry interests, further unraveling what had been, before the Obama administration, a loose bipartisan consensus dating in part to the Nixon administration.
The feature is broken up into several parts, each of them concentrating on a specific environmental debacle affecting specific people. There are California farmworkers sickened by the use of a once-banned pesticide. There are neighborhoods in Houston running out of breathable air because the administration* has gone long on reviving the doomed coal industry. There's a river in West Virginia that was becoming less of a chemistry set until the country went crazy in November of 2016.

And there is a particularly grim tale of how a Native American community in North Dakota got caught in the nutcracker between short-term money and long-term illness over natural gas drilling on its land.

A 75 percent surge in oil production in the past two years has left Fort Berthold lighted by towering shafts of flame. Hundreds of controlled flares burn so bright in the cold night air that the sky turns a weird orange yellow, even as snow falls onto the frozen ground. An estimated three billion cubic feet of gas is burned or released each month here - a volume that could heat about 600,000 homes. Energy companies have figured out a way to capture the oil, but their pipelines are not big enough to handle all the less valuable gas that comes out of the ground. Much of the excess is torched.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump leave Marine One on Wednesday.

As oil and gas operations have intensified in this isolated stretch of North Dakota, so have residents' concerns. The venting of unburned methane fouls the air with chemicals that are not only in some cases carcinogenic but over the next 100 years will be 30 times as potent a cause of global warming as carbon dioxide. At the same time, the improper burning of methane can create pollutants that cause a variety of respiratory problems... The Obama administration, concerned about the effects on health and global warming as well as the wasteful practice of simply burning off energy, moved to curtail leaks and flaring on federal lands and Indian reservations. But in September, under pressure from the energy industry, President Trump's Interior Department eliminated the rule's most important provisions.

The leaks and flaring are an increasing source of tension at Fort Berthold. Many are focused on the cash from the energy industry that is pouring into community and tribal government coffers. The tribes and some families are paid royalties for each barrel of oil pulled from the ground, revenue that has changed many lives for the better.

Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017.
"Sovereignty by the barrel," is the slogan used by the M.H.A. Nation's Energy Division, which both regulates and promotes oil and gas drilling here. Yet others are backing a lawsuit challenging Mr. Trump's rollback of the federal rule, while also pressing tribal leaders to move aggressively on their own to confront the consequences of the burning and leaking of gas.
It used to be something of a consensus that the country at least could try to straddle economic progress and environmental protections. Those people hand-waving away the idea of a Green New Deal simply because it involves massive systemic changes are ignoring the fact that at the moment, in the middle of a global environmental calamity edging up very quickly on an existential crisis, massive systemic changes are going on in a hundred different places, and many of them are being exacerbated and encouraged by deliberate public policy.

Even a stunning defeat in the 2020 election will not be enough. The philosophy behind these acts of destruction has to be wrung out of our politics, and the vehicle that is the Republican Party as it is presently constituted has to be torn down to its foundations and rebuilt before that philosophy and that vehicle destroy the viability of the planet.

In the words of Walter DeVille, who lives on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, "This is our reality now."
It didn't have to be.

(c) 2019 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state. ...The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard."
~~~ Henry David Thoreau

President Jimmy Carter and Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping meet outside of the Oval Office on Jan. 30, 1979

How To Repair The U.S.-China Relationship-And Prevent A Modern Cold War
While today's leaders face a different world, the cause of peace remains just as important
By Jimmy Carter

Forty years ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and I normalized diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States, putting an end to three decades of hostility. This led to an era distinguished by peace in East Asia and the Pacific region. China's spectacular economic growth, in conjunction with its continuing integration with the much larger U.S. economy, has enabled the two countries to become engines of global prosperity. Scientific and cultural exchanges have blossomed, and the United States has since become the top foreign destination for Chinese scholars and tourists. The 40th anniversary of this relationship is a testament to the ability of countries with different histories, cultures and political systems to work together for the greater good. Yet, today, this critical relationship is in jeopardy.

I hear Chinese elites claiming that Americans are conducting an "evil conspiracy" to destabilize China. I hear prominent Americans, disappointed that China has not become a democracy, claiming that China poses a threat to the American way of life. U.S. government reports declare that China is dedicated to challenging U.S. supremacy, and that it is planning to drive the United States out of Asia and reduce its influence in other countries around the world.

If top government officials embrace these dangerous notions, a modern Cold War between our two nations is not inconceivable. At this sensitive moment, misperceptions, miscalculations and failure to follow carefully defined rules of engagement in areas such as the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea could escalate into military conflict, creating a worldwide catastrophe.

The U.S. imposition of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China's retaliatory tariffs, contribute to the deteriorating relationship, hurting both countries. The 90-day pause in further escalation of tariffs, agreed to at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, offers the possibility of reaching a permanent agreement on U.S.-China trade. What can we do to build on this progress, and to repair the U.S.-China relationship?

First, the United States' long-standing complaints - about trade imbalances, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, and unfair barriers to U.S. investments and business operations in China - must be addressed quickly and effectively. Neither country should use "national security" as an excuse to obstruct the other's legitimate commercial activities. China needs competition for its economy to innovate and grow; pursuing a fair and reciprocal relationship is the only way for both countries to remain economically strong.

Second, Americans must acknowledge that, just as China has no right to interfere in U.S. affairs, we have no inherent right to dictate to China how to govern its people or choose its leaders. Though even countries with the closest of relationships may critique each other at times, such engagements should never become directives or edicts; they should rather serve as a two-way street of open dialogue. China's achievements in sustaining economic growth, alleviating abject poverty and providing developmental assistance to other countries need to be celebrated. At the same time, we cannot ignore its deficiencies in Internet censorship, policies toward minorities and religious restrictions - which should be recorded and criticized.

This balanced approach is key to ensuring that the United States and China continue to work together toward solving some of the most intractable global problems. Despite current tensions on other issues, Chinese support has been essential in our ongoing efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Beijing also could offer crucial help in post-conflict reconstruction in the Middle East and Africa, countering terrorism and extremism, and mediating other international disputes.

The United States should return to the Paris climate accord and work with China on environmental and climate-change issues, as the epic struggle against global warming requires active participation from both nations. But I believe the easiest route to bilateral cooperation lies in Africa. Both countries are already heavily involved there in fighting disease, building infrastructure and keeping peace - sometimes cooperatively. Yet each nation has accused the other of economic exploitation or political manipulation. Africans - like billions of other people around the world - do not want to be forced to choose a side. Instead, they welcome the synergy that comes from pooling resources, sharing expertise and designing complementary aid programs. By working together with Africans, the United States and China would also be helping themselves overcome distrust and rebuild this vital relationship.

In 1979, Deng Xiaoping and I knew we were advancing the cause of peace. While today's leaders face a different world, the cause of peace remains just as important. Leaders must bring new vision, courage and ingenuity to new challenges and opportunities, but I believe they also must accept our conviction that the United States and China need to build their futures together, for themselves and for humanity at large.

(c) 2019 Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Christmas In Paradise
Visiting the Camp Fire six weeks later
By Jane Stillwater

"But why are they calling this the Camp fire?" I asked an old-timer selling souvenir T-shirts in Chico yesterday.

"Because it started on Camp Creek..." Oh. Of course. "Plus that will be $20 for the T-shirt." I plan to take it home and tack it to the door of my disorganized and overstuffed closet -- to remind me that material possessions don't really mean all that much if your whole freaking life is about to be snuffed out.

Here in Paradise, it's kind of bizarre. All along the main street, for over two miles, the same pattern is repeated block after block. Two or three buildings will be standing untouched and yet two or three buildings next to them will be totally destroyed. The Walgreens and the CVS came through with hardly a scratch -- while the McDonalds, the Big-O Tires and the Jack in the Box are totally wiped out.

I talked to one woman who had lived in Paradise all of her life and had just returned to the sad ruins of her home. She told me about her own personal experience with the fire. "We were driving through a wall of flames and the car directly behind us simply exploded. We watched in horror." But then it got even worse -- she and her husband had to get out of their car and try to outrun the flames. "We stopped to help a group of older men and women standing in front of their burning convalescent home. We flagged down a school bus to help get them to safety -- but it was already too late and once again we watched in horror as even the bus caught fire. We ran for our lives." Geez Louise.

"As you can see, we finally made it out alive -- but just barely. A truck came by and picked us up." She showed me a video on her phone but all I could see was fire, a solid wall of fire. "We were the lucky ones. We lost everything. But we are still alive." I cried. She cried. I will never again worry about having too much stuff ever again. At least I too am alive.

What was I doing up in Paradise? I went up there to volunteer to help out with the extensive and excellent refugee-relocation program. But that's a whole other story, one which I am now still absorbing and am still in shock about too. Maybe I'll write about it after Christmas. But, hey, at least I still had a Christmas tree, a roast turkey and some eggnog to come home to.

PS: I am a witness to the recent horror that has befallen the little town of Paradise. I myself was horrified. And all of America was horrified too. And it's even worse when you actually see it up close with your own eyes.

However. I have also witnessed this very same type of horror -- of a city mercilessly destroyed -- in other places as well. Places in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and Lebanon -- and even in Guatemala, Vietnam, Juarez, North Korea, Honduras, South Dakota and Ukraine. And yet most Americans don't seem to mind about that.

When these horrors are caused by wildfires or other natural stuff here at home, Americans react in horror, right? But when similar horrors are caused by American cluster bombs, American armies and/or America's proxy death squads, mercenaries and al Qaeda "rebels"? Nobody in America seems to mind.

And yet, just like the American victims of the Paradise fire never asked for these horrors, the tragic victims of America's "wars" never asked the United States and its allies to come clean out their closets either.

(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Pallone

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your stopping the Green New deal in it's tracks, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Democratic Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker,"formally the "White House,"on 02-16-2019. We salute you herr Pallone, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

America's New Year's Resolution: Remove Trump
By Robert Reich

After his first bizarre year, his apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he'd be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions.

Wrong. He's been worse.

Exhibit one: the "Wall." After torpedoing Mitch McConnell's temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he's holding hostage over 800,000 government employees ("mostly Democrats," he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.

On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice Department cases are in limbo.

Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service.

Having run the Department of Labor during the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, I'm confident most of these public servants will continue to report for duty because they care about the missions they're upholding. But going without pay will strain their family budgets to the point that some will not be able to.

Shame on him for jeopardizing America this way in order to fund his wall - which is nothing but a trumped-up solution to a trumped-up problem designed only to fuel his base.

In his second year he's also done even more damage to the nation's judicial-criminal system than he did before.

At least twice in the past month he's reportedly raged against his acting attorney general for allowing federal prosecutors to reference him in the crimes his former bagman Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to committing.

This is potentially the most direct obstruction of justice yet. He's now pressuring an official whom he hand-picked and whose entire future depends on him, to take actions that would impair the independence of federal prosecutors.

Last month he blasted Judge Jon Tigar as an "Obama judge" after Tigar blocked the Administration's limits on asylum eligibility to ports of entry, a decision summarily upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and sustained by the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Roberts issued a rare rebuke. "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges," he wrote, adding that an "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

Which prompted his rejoinder: "Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have 'Obama judges,'" followed by his baseless and incendiary claim that "they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country," and their "rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!"

In his second year he's displayed even less commitment to keeping the military nonpartisan than he did initially.

During last month's teleconference with U.S. troops and coast guard members he continued his rampage against the judiciary, calling the ninth circuit "a big thorn in our side" and "a disgrace."

Then he turned last week's surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany into a political rally - praising troops wearing red "Make America Great Again" caps, signing a "Trump 2020" patch, and accusing Representative Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

Some Americans are becoming so accustomed to these antics that they no longer see them for what they are - escalating attacks on America's core democratic institutions.

Where would we be if a president could simply shut down the government when he doesn't get his way? If he could stop federal prosecutions he doesn't like and order those he wants? If he could whip up public anger against court decisions he disapproves of? If he could mobilize the military to support him, against Congress and the judiciary?

We would no longer live in a democracy. Like his increasing attacks on critics in the press, these are all aspects of his growing authoritarianism. We normalize them at our peril.

Our institutions remain strong, but I'm not sure they can endure two more years of this. He must be removed from office through impeachment, or his own decision to resign in the face of impeachment, as did Richard Nixon.

Republican members of Congress must join with Democrats to get this task done as quickly as possible. Nothing is more urgent. It must be, in effect, America's New Year's resolution.

(c) 2019 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Resistance Is The Supreme Act Of Faith
By Chris Hedges

Becket: It is not for me to win you round. I have only to say no to you.
But you must be logical, Becket!
No. That isn't necessary, my liege. We must only do-absurdly-what we have been given to do-fight to the end.
-From the play "Becket," by Jean Anouilh

The struggle against the monstrous radical evil that dominates our lives-an evil that is swiftly despoiling the earth and driving the human species toward extinction, stripping us of our most basic civil liberties and freedoms, waging endless war and solidifying the obscene wealth of an oligarchic elite at our expense-will be fought only with the belief that resistance, however futile, insignificant and even self-defeating it may appear, can set in motion moral and spiritual forces that radiate outward to inspire others, including those who come after us. It is, in essence, an act of faith. Nothing less than this faith will sustain us. We resist not because we will succeed, but because it is right. Resistance is the supreme act of faith.

During the Vietnam War, on the afternoon of May 17, 1968, nine Catholics, including two brothers, the radical priests Phil and Dan Berrigan, entered the draft board in Catonsville, Md., and seized Selective Service records. They carted them outside to the parking lot in metal trash cans and set them on fire with homemade napalm-the recipe was from the Special Forces Handbook of the U.S. Army. The men and women, many of whom were or had been members of Catholic religious orders, stood and prayed around the bonfire until they were arrested. They were protesting not only the war but, as Dan Berrigan wrote, "every major presumption underlying American life." They acted, and eventually went to prison, Berrigan went on, "to set in motion spiritual rhythms whose outward influences are, in the nature of things, simply immeasurable."

The group's statement read:

Our apologies good friends,
for the fracture of good order the burning of paper
instead of children the angering of the orderlies
in the front parlor of the charnel house
We could not so help us God do otherwise
For we are sick at heart
Our hearts give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children. ...

We say: Killing is disorder
life and gentleness and community and unselfishness
is the only order we recognize. ...
How long must the world's resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder?
When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here
the death stops here
the suppression of the truth stops here
this war stops here. ...

The Catonsville protest sparked a wave of break-ins at draft boards in which files were burned, mutilated, stolen or destroyed. The Selective Service, in the first eight months of 1970 alone, recorded 271 "antidraft occurrences" at draft boards across the country.

The nature, power and cost of civil disobedience, along with the understanding that confronting evil is the highest form of spirituality, is the subject of the play "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine," written by Dan Berrigan. Transport Group will present a production of the play at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City from Jan. 16 to Feb. 23. It will be performed with three actors, one of whom is my wife, Eunice Wong. Our daughter was baptized by Dan Berrigan (1921-2016).

The men and women who became known as the Catonsville Nine pleaded guilty to the charges leveled against them-theft and destruction of property of the U.S. government and "disrupting the official activities" of the Selective Service. The Catonsville Nine used the court to indict the now-omnipotent war machine, which as Berrigan wrote "has come to include the court process that serves it." The courts, the presidency and the Congress, he noted, have calcified and turned to stone. "The 'separation of powers' is proving a fiction; ball and joint, the functions of power are fusing, like the bones of an aged body," he wrote.

"For you cannot set up a court in the Kingdom of the Blind, to condemn those who see; a court presided over by those who would pluck out the eyes of men and call it rehabilitation," Berrigan continued.

The defendants in the Catonsville Nine trial declined to question or challenge any potential jurors during the selection process. Later they would use their testimony not to attempt to prove their innocence-they freely admitted they were guilty of the prosecution's narrow charges-but to put the nation on trial. They argued that to abide by a higher law they must confront the law. Breaking the law was a function of conscience.

"The law, as presently revered and taught and enforced, is becoming an enticement to lawlessness," Dan Berrigan wrote in his book of essays, "No Bars to Manhood." "Lawyers and laws and courts and penal systems are nearly immobile before a shaken society, which is making civil disobedience a civil (I dare say a religious) duty. The law is aligning itself more and more with forms of power whose existence is placed more and more in question. ... So if they would obey the law, [people] are being forced, in the present crucial instance, either to disobey God or to disobey the law of humanity."

"The courts, up to the U.S. Supreme Court itself, are unwilling, especially in wartime, to consider seriously the moral and legal questions of war itself," Berrigan wrote. "So we felt that civilized [people] must seek to use the courtroom in order to achieve some public audibility about who we were and what we were about. The issues raised by the war-issues of constitutionality and morality of the war, of free speech and freedom of protest-might thereby be separated from our personal or corporate fates."

The law, Berrigan saw, is used to strengthen "a corporate system bent in the direction of more and more American hegemony abroad, more and more firmly imbedded poverty and racism at home." This capitalist machine, he said, had to be "taken apart, built over again." The Nine understood that it was "spiritually absurd and suicidal to be pretending to help the poor at home while we bombed the poor abroad." Mass incarceration and widespread poverty were the inevitable results of endless war and unchecked militarism. If this militarism was not curbed-and it has not been curbed-the Nine predicted it would exacerbate racism among dispossessed whites, expand lethal, militarized police forces and transform the Congress, the judiciary, the presidency and the press into handmaidens of the corporate state. The trajectory, Dan Berrigan wrote, would lead to "an interlocking dance of death, a celebration of horror."

The Catonsville Nine were indifferent to their fate. "We were obliged in fact to attain some kind of personal liberation before acting at all," Berrigan wrote, "a certain spiritual detachment from the fact of prison." They did not expect miracles. They were not deceived by the roller coaster of emotional highs and lows that characterize a consumer culture. Patience, as the Vietnamese in Hanoi told Dan Berrigan, "is a revolutionary virtue." It was the truth that was on trial. The point of civil disobedience, Berrigan said, is not that people will agree or even follow. It is that such actions foster among the wider population "a deepened consciousness."

"Still," Berrigan wrote in his autobiography, "this or that court, no matter what its crimes against justice, its stacked cards, its vindictive blindness, would never succeed in closing the dossier on conscience. And this was exactly our hope. Time would work in its imperceptible way, mysterious, invisible; other lives would be touched as the stories of the courageous and nonviolent were heard, often by word of mouth only. Time taking its own sweet time, so to speak, the motion and motive of a larger soul."

The Berrigans, who identified as religious radicals, had little use for liberals. Liberals, they said, addressed only small, moral fragments and used their pet causes, in most cases, not to bring about systemic change, but for self-adulation. Liberals often saw wars or social injustices as isolated evils whose end would restore harmony.

"But the consciousness of the radical man is integrated," Dan Berrigan wrote in "No Bars to Manhood." "He knows that everything leads to everything else. So while he works for the end of the war, for the end of poverty, or for the end of American racism, he knows that every war is symptomatic of every other war. Vietnam to Laos and on to Thailand, and across the world to Guatemala, and across all wars to his own heart."

"Our act was aimed, as our statement tried to make clear, at every major presumption underlying American life today," he wrote. "Our act was in the strictest sense a conspiracy; that is to say, we had agreed together to attack the working assumptions of American life. Our act was a denial that American institutions were presently functioning in a way that good men [and women] could approve or sanction. We were denying that the law, medicine, education, and systems of social welfare (and, above all, the military-paramilitary styles and objectives that rule and overrule and control these others) were serving the people, were including the needy, or might be expected to change in accord with changing needs, that these could enlist or embody the sources of good men [and women]-imagination, moral suppleness, pragmatism, or compassion."

Phil Berrigan (1923-2002), a highly decorated infantry officer who fought in Europe in World War II, was the driving force behind the Catonsville Nine. He had already broken into a draft board office in the Baltimore Customs House in October 1967 with three other protesters-they would become known as the Baltimore Four-and poured blood over draft files. The event was well publicized. He and the artist Thomas P. Lewis, one of the Baltimore Four, were awaiting sentencing for their Baltimore action when they participated in the act at Catonsville. Phil Berrigan and Lewis knew that their participation in Catonsville meant their sentences for the Baltimore protest would be harsher. But they understood that resistance cannot be reactive. It must be proactive. Phil Berrigan convinced his brother Dan to join the protest at Catonsville at a time when Dan believed that his work was "standing by the students [protesters] in their travail; nothing more." "In comparison with him," Dan wrote of Phil, "I was a coddled egg indeed." But Dan Berrigan knew that "if I delayed too long, I would never find the courage to say no" to the war.

It was clear, Dan Berrigan wrote, that the government "would allow men like myself to do what we were doing almost indefinitely; to sign statements, to picket, to support resisters in court. Even if they did pick us up, it was the government who were choosing the victim and the time and place of prosecution. The initiative was entirely in their hands. But in the plan under discussion, the situation was entirely reversed. A few men [and women] were declaring that the initiative of actions and passion belonged to the peaceable and the resisting."

The Berrigans excoriated the church hierarchy for sacralizing the nation, the government, capitalism, the military and the war. They argued that the fusion of secular and religious authority would kill the church as a religious institution. The archbishop of New York at the time, Cardinal Francis J. Spellman, in one example, sprinkled holy water on B-52 bombers and blessed the warplanes before their missions in Vietnam. He described the conflict as a "war for civilization" and "Christ's war against the Vietcong and the people of North Vietnam."

Phil Berrigan, the first priest to go to jail for protesting the war, celebrated Mass for his fellow prisoners. The services were, for the first time, well attended. The cardinal of Baltimore, in response, stripped Phil Berrigan of his priestly functions. The Masses celebrated later by an assigned outsider were boycotted by the prisoners. "There seemed to be some connection, too subtle for those in power to grasp, quite lucid to the imprisoned, between the Eucharist and a priest who was a fellow prisoner," Dan Berrigan wrote.

"In sum, in a time of crisis, the Church had waited on the culture," Dan Berrigan wrote in "No Bars to Manhood." "When the war-making society had completed its case against a nonviolent, protesting priest, the Church moved against him too, sacred overkill added to secular. Indeed, Christ made common cause with Caesar; religion preached a new crusade, a dubious and savage war. The Church all but disappeared into the legions." Those of faith, Berrigan wrote, should be content to "live and die 'outside the walls'; they are men [and women] without a country and a church. They can flee the nation or languish in jail; the curse of the inquisitor will penetrate the jails to strike them there."

It has been 50 years since Catonsville. And yet, often unheard and unheralded, the steadfast drumbeat of nonviolent religious protest against the war machine continues. Elizabeth McAlister, of Jonah House in Baltimore and the widow of Phil Berrigan, along with the Jesuit priest Steve Kelly and Catholic Worker Movement members Carmen Trotta, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy (the granddaughter of Catholic Worker Movement co-founder Dorothy Day), Mark Colville and Patrick O'Neill, will be put on trial next spring for trespassing onto the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Ga., to protest our nuclear weapons arsenal.

The activists entered the base on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who thundered against the "triple evils of militarism, racism and materialism." They carried hammers and baby bottles of their own blood to defile the nuclear weapons storage bunkers. The Kings Bay naval facility is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. Five of the group were released on bond and are forced to wear ankle monitors. McAlister, who turned 79 last month in jail, and Kelly remain incarcerated in the Glynn County Detention Center.

Dan Berrigan reflected on the burning of the Catonsville draft records in "To Dwell in Peace: An Autobiography":

The act was pitiful, a tiny flare amid the consuming fires of war. But Catonsville was like a firebreak, a small fire lit, to contain and conquer a greater. ...

For the remainder of our lives, the fires would burn and burn, in hearts and minds, in draft boards, in prisons and courts. A new fire, new as a Pentecost, flared up in eyes deadened and hopeless. ...

"Nothing can be done!" How often we had heard that gasp: the last of the human, of soul, of freedom. Indeed, something could be done; and was. And would be.

We had removed an abomination from the Earth. It was as though, across the land, a series of signal fires had been lighted. The first was no larger than a gleam of an eye. But hill to hill, slowly at first, then like a wildfire, leaping interstices and valleys, the fires flared. ...

In the following years, some seventy draft boards were entered across the land. Their contents variously shredded, sacked, hidden out of sight, burned, scattered to the winds. In one case, the files were mailed back to their owners, with a note urging that the inductee refuse to serve.

That morning! We stood in the breach of birth. We could know nothing. Would something follow, would our act speak to others, awaken their resolve? We knew only the bare bones of consequence. ...

The act was done. We sat in custody in the back room of the Catonsville Post Office, weak with relief, grinning like virtuous gargoyles. Three or four FBI honchos entered portentously. Their leader, a jut-jawed paradigm, surveyed us from the doorway. His eagle eye lit on Philip. He roared out: "Him again! Good God, I'm changing my religion!"

I could think of no greater tribute to my brother.

(c) 2019 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Lalo Alcaraz ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

White House Ficus To Leave For Virginia Arboretum After Declining Trump's Offer To Be Chief Of Staff
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-As the Trump administration scrambles to find a replacement for outgoing advisor John Kelly, officials announced Monday that a high-level White House ficus would leave for the State Arboretum of Virginia after declining the president's offer to be chief of staff.

"The ficus has been honored to serve President Trump and the American people these last several months and plans to continue advancing the MAGA cause as a member of the private sector," read a statement drafted by an aide for the ficus, noting that the potted shrub was one of the longest-tenured and most-trusted members of the Trump administration, spending countless hours working alongside the president from a sunny spot inside the Oval Office.

"Rumors that the ficus was forced out following a heated argument with Jared Kushner are simply untrue. The ficus will spend the next few weeks helping with the transition of its replacement, a large fern, before departing to work in the tropical plant section of the arboretum."

At press time, the White House was reportedly thrown into chaos after the large fern confirmed it would not accept the new job.

(c) 2019 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 01 (c) 01/04/2019

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(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."