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In This Edition

Norman Solomon concludes, "In 2021, the Best Way To Fight Neofascist Republicans Is To Fight Neoliberal Democrats."

Jake Johnson returns with, "'Unacceptable!': Probe Demanded After Footage Shows Capitol Police Standing Aside for Pro-Trump Mob."

Glen Ford returns with a must read, "The Squad Won't Fight Pelosi And Corporate Power."

Jim Hightower wants, "A Wealth Tax For American Progress."

Chris Walker returns with, "Democrats Gain Control Of Senate With Warnock And Ossoff Victories In Georgia."

John Nichols says to, "Expand The Postal Service In 2021."

James Donahue explores, "Our Changing Reality."

David Swanson has, "Top 10 Questions For Antony Blinken."

Bill McKibben returns with, "Our Best Chance To Slow Global Warming Comes In The Next Nine Years."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Dick F*cking Cheney Signed This Thing."

Juan Cole wonders, "Trump And Iran In Last 17 Days: Will They Or Won't They?"

The director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vought wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich gives, "7 Ways 2020 Exposed America."

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "The Empire Is Not Done With Julian Assange."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "What Trump Hopes To Accomplish Before Leaving The White House," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Treason Is As Treason Does."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Pat Bagley, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Alex Wong, Lev Radin, Lane Turner, Mark Wilson, Jessica McGowan, Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Britta Pedersen, Hollie Adams, Pacific Press, The Boston Globe, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, 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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Treason Is As Treason Does
By Ernest Stewart

"Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent. And if we're wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we're right, and lot of them will go to jail. So - let's have trial by combat." ~~~ Rudy Giuliani at a pro-Trump rally in Washington, DC January 6th, 2021

"2020 may beat 2016 without the extra push from El Nino." ~~~ Stefan Rahmstorf, with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

"Russ Vought was a critical impeachment witness who defied a Congressional subpoena to protect Donald Trump. Nobody who places loyalty to party over loyalty to country deserves the honor of serving the American taxpayers."~~~ Ron Wyden

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

In answer to my question from last week's column, "Makes you wonder if the people in Georgia are as incredibly dumb as the people in Kentucky?" The answer is no they are not, in fact, they so much smarter than those Bozos down in Kentucky who reelected Moscow Mitch! Mitch the bitch who has lost his majority standing and will no longer control the Senate so things will no doubt get a lot better!

As it stands now the former appointed Senator, and billionaire Kelly Loeffler, lost to the Rev Raphael Warnock who has been declared the winner in their Senate race while Jon Ossoff beat David Purdue and has been declared the winner too. With those wins the Senate turns blue! Thank you Georgia!

Outside at the big fascist protests Lying Donald is lying, what a surprise, huh? He vowed to his supporters at the "Save America March" on Wednesday that he will "never concede" his loss in the 2020 election and threatened Republicans who have refused to support his bid to challenge Congress' Electoral College certification. Then he called for the mob to march down to Congress and raise hell there and they did as I'm sure you know, while Rudy Giuliana called for "trial by combat" to settle the election. I kid you not!

Meanwhile, inside of Congress, the electoral college votes were about to be approved when the traitors struck and entered the building. Congress adjourned for a few hours while the buildings were cleared and then returned to count the votes. The mob may have put the acknowledgement of the electoral college back 11 or 12 hours, but the results were the same. Lying Donald will be gone in a week from next Wednesday. Still, you have to wonder what further acts of treason he will commit by then? All his supporters that breached the walls of Congress and had their pictures taken can soon expect a call from the FBI, and a federal sentence of 5 to 10 years for their crimes. Here is a list of the House traitors who voted not to allow the Electoral College votes to stand. The votes stood and Joe Biden is now officially the new president. The Rethuglican House traitors are:

Aderholt Allen Arrington Babin Baird Banks Bergman Bice (OK) Biggs Bishop (NC) Boebert Bost Brooks Budd Burchett Burgess Calvert Cammack Carl Carter (GA) Carter (TX) Cawthorn Cline Cloud Clyde Cole Crawford Davidson DesJarlais Diaz-Balart Donalds Duncan Dunn Estes Fallon Fischbach Fitzgerald Fleischmann Franklin, C. Scott Fulcher Gaetz Garcia (CA) Gibbs Gimenez Gohmert Good (VA) Gooden (TX) Gosar Graves (MO) Green (TN) Greene (GA) Griffith Guest Hagedorn Harris Harshbarger Hartzler Hern Herrell Hice (GA) Higgins (LA) Hudson Issa Jackson Jacobs (NY) Johnson (LA) Johnson (OH) Jordan Joyce (PA) Kelly (MS) Kelly (PA) LaMalfa Lamborn LaTurner Lesko Long Loudermilk Lucas Luetkemeyer Malliotakis Mann Mast McCarthy McClain Miller (IL) Miller (WV) Moore (AL) Mullin Nehls Norman Nunes Obernolte Palazzo Palmer Perry Pfluger Posey Reschenthaler Rice (SC) Rogers (AL) Rogers (KY) Rose Rosendale Rouzer Rutherford Scalise Sessions Smith (MO) Smith (NE) Steube Tiffany Timmons Van Drew Walberg Walorski Weber (TX) Webster (FL) Williams (TX) Wilson (SC) Wright Zeldin.

In Other News

Parts of the world economy may have been on pause during 2020, dampening greenhouse gas emissions for a while. But that didn't slow the overall buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reached its highest level in millions of years!

If anything, research during the year showed global warming is accelerating. Symptoms of the fever include off-the-charts heat waves on land and in the oceans, and a hyperactive and destructive Atlantic hurricane season.

And through November, the last year was on pace to end up as either the hottest, or second-hottest on record for the planet, almost 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial times, inching closer to the 1.5 degree limit set by the Paris climate agreement.

Some scientists noted that the persistent heating came even with the tropical Pacific Ocean tilting toward a cyclical cooling phase that suppresses the global average temperature slightly. November's warmth across the planet was "stunning, especially considering the ongoing La Nina," Zack Labe posted on Twitter.

As I've noted before during La Nina, cooler than average sea surface temperatures spread across a large part of the tropical Pacific. During the warm El Nino phase every few years, it's the opposite, and that's usually when global temperatures spike to new records, most recently in 2016.

"This year's warming is another sign that heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is overwhelming the planet's natural variability. I hate to think what the global temperature would have been this year if we'd been in an El Nino rather than La Nina," said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist with the Woodwell Climate Research Center.

Meanwhile, across the pond, France's largest glacier once looked so mighty sliding down the granite slopes of the Mont Blanc, western Europe's tallest peak, that early explorers struggled to find the words to capture it.

"You must imagine your lake put in agitation by a strong wind, all frozen at once," wrote British adventurer William Windham, one of the first tourists to explore the glacier in 1741. "Perhaps even that would not produce the same appearance." That description gave the place its current name: Mer de Glace or Sea of Ice. At that time and until the late 1980s, thousands of years of ice covered the steep valley. Visitors walked from the nearby town of Chamonix to Montenvers, where the glacier was so close they only had to hike down a few meters to touch it.

Today, the Mer de Glace remains the biggest glacier in France, and the second largest in the Alps. But it's also become a symbol of the rapid pace of global warming. Mont Blanc is heating up more than twice as fast as the rest of the world. The Mer de Glace has been shrinking since the beginning of the 20th century, but the loss has accelerated over the past two decades. Since 1900, it's shrunk by about a third of its volume. In total it's lost around 1.5cu km of ice. That's equivalent to more than half a million Olympic swimming pools of ice.

"Glaciers are symbols of climate change because they're the elements in nature that react fastest to it," says French glaciologist Luc Moreau. "Solar radiation, temperature, and greenhouse gases are all invisible things, but measuring glaciers gives us information of all of them."

Glaciers go through melting and freezing cycles, losing mass in warm weather and gaining it back once the temperature drops. When Moreau arrived in Chamonix in 1987, the Mer de Glace was able to recover much, if not more of its volume over the winter. Now it just shrinks!

And Finally

I see where Lying Donalds's budget office is blocking Joe Biden's transition team from meeting with key staff to help prepare the president-elect's first annual spending plan, a move that could delay major proposals.

According to people familiar with the matter the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vought, has argued internally that the agency needs to focus on finishing new regulations the Trump administration plans to publish before Lying Donald leaves office.

"We have provided all information requested from OMB about ongoing programs", Vought lied.

"OMB has fully participated in appropriate transition efforts, to discuss specific issues, operational questions and more.

"What we have not done and will not do is use current OMB staff to write the BTT's legislative policy proposals to dismantle this administration's work. OMB staff are working on this administration's policies and will do so until this administration's final day in office. Redirecting staff and resources to draft your team's budget proposals is not an OMB transition responsibility." Which is, of course, another lie, as no other OMB group as done the same but all have extended the curtesy of helping the incoming team!

Ergo, Russ Vought wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

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 telling you the truth!


05-23-1945 ~ 01-01-2020
Thanks for the music!

02-14-1928 ~ 01-01-2020
Thanks for the film!

10-15-1955 ~ 01-03-2020
Thanks for the film!

09-24-1942 ~ 01-03-2020
Thanks for the music!

02-13-1932 ~ 01-04-2020
Thanks for the film!

05-19-1931 ~ 01-05-2020
Thanks for the film!

08-03-1985 ~ 01-06-2020
Burn Baby Burn!!


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


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) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, 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 button features President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris'
inauguration is on display by a street vendor during a canvass launch event at New
Life Outreach Christian Center January 2, 2021 in Eatonton, Georgia.

In 2021, the Best Way To Fight Neofascist Republicans Is To Fight Neoliberal Democrats
As its policies gradually degrade the standard of living and quality of life for most people, neoliberalism provides a poisonous fuel for right-wing propaganda and demagoguery.
By Norman Solomon

The threat of fascism will hardly disappear when Donald Trump moves out of the White House in two weeks. On Capitol Hill, the Republicans who've made clear their utter contempt for democracy will retain powerful leverage over the U.S. government. And they're securely entrenched because Trumpism continues to thrive in much of the country.

Yet, in 2021, progressives should mostly concentrate on challenging the neoliberalism of Democratic Party leaders. Why? Because the neoliberal governing model runs directly counter to the overarching responsibilities of the left-to defeat right-wing forces and to effectively fight for a decent, life-affirming society.

Neoliberalism can be defined as a political approach that "seeks to transfer the control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector"-and strives to "place limits on government spending, government regulation, and public ownership." Neoliberalism can be described more candidly as vast, systemic, nonstop plunder.

The plunder is enmeshed in politics. In the real world, economic power is political power. And privatizing political power amounts to undermining democracy.

After four decades of neoliberal momentum, we can see the wreckage all around us: the cumulative effects, destroying uncounted human lives deprived of adequate healthcare, education, housing, economic security and existence free of predatory monetizing. While Republican politicians usually led the wrecking crews, their Democratic counterparts often served as enablers or initiated their own razing projects.

As its policies gradually degrade the standard of living and quality of life for most people, neoliberalism provides a poisonous fuel for right-wing propaganda and demagoguery. Although corporate media outlets routinely assert that "moderate" Democrats are best positioned to block the right's advances, the corporate-oriented policies of those Democrats-including trade deals, deregulation, and privatization-have aided rather than impeded far-right faux populism.

In the long run, the realities of rampant income inequalities cannot be papered over-and neither can the despair and rage they engender. Phony and unhinged as it is, Trumpist extremism offers such rage a populist avenue, paved with a range of vile bigotries and cruelties. When Democrats fail to offer a competing populist avenue, their party is seen as aligned with the status quo. And in this era, the status quo is a political loser.

A myth of U.S. mainstream politics and corporate media is that the most effective way to counteract the political right is to compromise by ideologically moving rightward. When progressives internalize this myth, they defer to the kind of Democratic Party leadership that frequently ends up assisting instead of undermining the Republican Party.

That's what happened when, as incoming presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama filled their administrations' top-tier positions with Wall Street movers and shakers, elite big-business consultants and the like. Those appointments foreshadowed major pro-corporate policies-such as Clinton's NAFTA trade pact, and Obama's lavish bailout for huge banks while millions of homeowners saw their houses sink under foreclosure water-policies that were economically unjust. And politically disastrous. Two years after Clinton and Obama entered the White House, Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 and 2010 midterm elections.

Now, there's scant evidence Joe Biden is looking toward significant structural changes that would disrupt the ongoing trends of soaring wealth for the very few and deepening financial distress or outright desperation for the many. Without massive pressure from progressives, it's foreseeable that Biden-like Clinton and Obama-will run his presidency as a corporate-friendly enterprise without seriously challenging the extreme disparities of economic injustice.

"The stock market is ending 2020 at record highs, even as the virus surges and millions go hungry," the Washington Post reported. Wall Street succeeded at "enriching the wealthy . . . despite a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 340,000 Americans."

The reporting came from a newspaper owned by the richest person on earth, Jeff Bezos (who currently has an estimated wealth of $190 billion that he can't take with him). In a world of so much suffering, the accumulation of such wealth is beyond pathology.

What's imperative for progressives is not to "speak truth to power" but to speak truth about power-and to drastically change an economic system that provides humongous wealth to a very few and worsening misery to the countless many.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death"and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Police seen around Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters riot and breached the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

'Unacceptable!': Probe Demanded After Footage Shows Capitol Police Standing Aside for Pro-Trump Mob
The images of police officers calmly allowing barricades open, letting the crowd enter, and taking selfies inside the building with those who have stormed it cannot go without investigation and penalty.
By Jake Johnson

Images and videos of U.S. Capitol Police officers taking selfies with members of the pro-Trump mob that invaded the halls of Congress Wednesday fueled growing calls for an investigation into law enforcement's conduct during the assault, with members of Congress and advocacy groups accusing the cops of actively assisting the coup effort.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a free speech and civil rights organization, called for a "fully public investigation into the federal and local police planning and response to today's events, and termination and prosecution of all officers and officials found to have condoned or colluded with the violent mob that attacked the Capitol today."

"What happened at the nation's Capitol today could only have occurred because law enforcement allowed it to happen. Far-right mobs smashed windows and doors, stormed the Capitol behind a traitorous, terrorist Confederate flag, and broke into the Senate chamber," the group said. "The images of police officers calmly allowing barricades open, letting the crowd enter, and taking selfies inside the building with those who have stormed it cannot go without investigation and penalty."

As mayhem engulfed Washington, D.C. Wednesday, footage circulated showing officers removing barricades that were keeping the crowd of frenzied Trump supporters away from the Capitol Building.

Shortly thereafter, the mob swarmed the building, smashed windows, and entered the halls of Congress as law enforcement did little to prevent the invasion. Footage showed law enforcement officials taking selfies with Trump supporters:

"If the federal police did not want far-right protesters to be inside the Capitol, they would not be inside the Capitol," Peter Gowan, a member of the steering committee of Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, wrote for Jacobin on Wednesday. "Last summer, the police and National Guard attacked peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators who dared get too close to federal buildings. Countless people, including me, were injured."

"Authorities offered minimal resistance to the mob sent by the president to prevent the counting of electoral votes," Gowan added. "With few exceptions, the response has simply been to let the far-right mob pass, to wait and see rather than to prevent the violence and seizure of federal property that is occurring."

When asked why they were not forcibly removing those who stormed the Capitol, one officer said, "We've just got to let them do their thing now." According to the Associated Press, four people died as Trump supporters rampaged through the halls of Congress and vandalized the building.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) was among the Democratic lawmakers demanding a probe into the law enforcement response, telling the Washington Post that if those who swarmed the Capitol Building "had been Black, they would have been gunned down before they got inside."

"My feelings about this are bolstered by the footage of law enforcement agents taking selfies with these domestic terrorists who had breached security, and of security removing metal barricades in order to allow the mob to get closer to the capitol," said Jones.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) echoed Jones' call:

In a statement late Wednesday, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) noted that "since May of last year, D.C. police have brutally punished protesters for demonstrating against the state, police violence, and white supremacy."

"This is in sharp contrast to the police response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, VA in 2017, where right-wing operatives and loyalists rioted in attempt to reverse a city council decision to remove racist monuments," the group said. "Today, police stood down yet again-as is expected of such an inherently white supremacist institution."

"These right-wing operatives are their friends, family, and political brethren," NLG continued. "The difference between the police response to protesters of color just a few months ago and all throughout American history, and the current response to white Trump supporters instigating a coup, lays bare the priorities of U.S. law enforcement."

(c) 2021 Jake Johnson is an author and staff writer for Common Dreams

The Squad Won't Fight Pelosi And Corporate Power
By Glen Ford

For the first time in this century, significant numbers of young people of all races are expressing raw hatred for the Democrats and denouncing "The Squad" for collaborating with the oligarchy.

The most volatile elements of "left" Democrats have finally understood that you can't oppose corporate duopoly rule while living in the oligarchs' (out)house. The former Sandernistas brought in the New Year loudly demanding that "The Squad" -- the handful of Democratic Representatives that style themselves as the "progressive" cutting edge of the Congress - refuse to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House unless the 80-year old millionairess and corporate bag woman agreed to submit Medicare for All to a full House vote. "A vote on Medicare for All will prompt a national conversation on guaranteeing health care in the middle of a pandemic," wrote former Bernie Sanders press aide Briahna Joy Gray. A roll call tally "will show the country who really supports it, not just rhetorically, but in practice. Then we can hold our representatives accountable."

The goal of the exercise was to expose and embarrass those lawmakers that pretend to back legislation favored by nearly 90 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of all Americans, but who always buckle to Pelosi's corporate discipline. Gray, Dr. Cornel West, Movement for a People's Party national coordinator Nick Brana, NFL player Justin Jackson and podcasters Katie Halper, Krystal Ball, Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore held a #ForceTheVote Town Hall to compel The Squad to act as the people's operatives in the legislative bowels of the beast. As it turned out, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and her leftish congressional cohorts chose to serve as the first corporate line of defense against the #ForceTheVote strategy -- originally conceived by Jimmy Dore. AOC threw up flak like a veteran corporate dissembler, tweeting that she and her allies had won a great concession from Pelosi to exempt Medicare for All from the PAYGO ("pay-as-you-go") House rule requiring big-money bills to identify enabling revenues before consideration for passage. PAYGO was put in place by Pelosi in 2019 to demonstrate that Democrats were "fiscally responsible," continuing Barack Obama's second term quest for a Grand Bargain with the GOP. "Progressives in the House have won a rules change that would allow Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or other big ticket agenda items to be exempted from paygo," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "This was a necessary step in opening the way for it."

But of course, the gesture was merely a reshuffling of marked cards. Jimmy Dore responded to an AOC defender at The Intercept: "Unwittingly, what he's doing here is making the case for #ForceTheVote, because now we've got rid of the hurdles that would stop it, so we can just go do it." AOC was "pretending to be part of a movement," but was in reality still "running cover for Nancy Pelosi."

Justin Jackson, the Los Angeles Chargers running back whose mother died from breast cancer when he was a child, unable to afford adequate treatment, refused to accept the corporate logic. "You have politicians that are saying they are supporting us for a fight, but when we actually come up with a strategy to do it, now it's 'I can't do that particular thing'... it doesn't make any sense. What other time than now? There's a pandemic raging right now."

Ocasio-Cortez retreated into a weird combination of corporate rationalization and feigned victimhood. "To be 100% honest," she tweeted, "it was hard during this to be targeted+marred as some sellout-enemy of the people over a late tactical disagreement over 1 floor vote. Also a bummer to see figures excuse comments like ‘f- her and f- anyone who protects her.' That's not tone, that's violence."

But, that's what is supposed to happen when faux insurgents act as corporate defenders. As #ForceTheVote advocates pointed out, the death of 40 to 60 thousand Americans a year due to lack of healthcare, and 300,000-plus Covid-19 fatalities to date, is corporate-inflicted violence on a horrific scale. AOC has endured only slights to her celebrity as payback for defending the indefensible.

In the end AOC, newly-elected St. Louis Congresswoman Cori Bush, and Barbara Lee voted to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House for the fourth time, after initially abstaining on a procedural ballot. In collapse, The Squad had shrunken to three fingers of one submissive hand.

It must be noted that back in 2005-06, when Pelosi was gearing up for her first her successful run for Speaker, she prevented Democrats from holding hearings on the Katrina catastrophe in fear of identifying the Party too closely with Black issues, and then forbade the Congressional Black Caucus and all other Democrats from attending Republican hearings on Katrina. All of the Black Caucus meekly complied with her diktat - except for Atlanta Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was shunned by her fellow Black congresspersons as a result. As Peter Gamble and I reported in The Black Commentator, Pelosi "was able to convince the Congressional Black Caucus, as a body, to stand down in the face of a horrific crisis: the displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents of New Orleans." The Black Caucus's political irrelevance and impotence can be dated to that debacle. AOC and her Squad are on the same path - and the slope is much steeper in this era of accelerating national and imperial decay.

In her self-pitying funk, the Bronx fashion-plate and champion tweeter -- a rival of Trump, in that regard - sounded no different than the standard "because...Trump" Democrat, blaming the outgoing Orange Menace for her own political cowardice: "[I]n a time when the Republican Party is attempting an electoral coup and trying to overturn the results of our election, this is not just about being united as a party. It's about being united as people who have basic respect for the rule of law." Having nothing to offer their "base," Democrats make Trump the excuse for their refusal to buck the corporate masters. What will they do when the Orange Ogre is finally gone?

Doubtless, they will blame the Russians and a "handful of outspoken left-wing activists," as MSN dubbed the #ForceTheVote advocates, for undermining the smooth workings of "American democracy." However, the exodus of the leftmost ranks of the Democratic Party has finally begun, and will accelerate in the excruciatingly unending Covid-19 crisis, and as the post-Covid corporate economic order emerges with the full collaboration of the Democratic Party. The biggest benefactor of the New Year's revolt is the Movement for a People's Party, coordinated by Nick Branna, which vows to run a slate of congressional candidates in 2022 and mount a presidential bid in 2024. For the first time in this century, significant numbers of young people of all races - most of them unabashed Democrats only yesterday, it seems - are expressing raw hatred for the Democrats, who are richly deserving of the utmost contempt.

Having witnessed and participated in the largest demonstrations in the history of the United States in the past year, these young activists correctly see elections as only one aspect of "politics." Indeed, the corporate monopoly has rendered electoral projects the narrowest, most circumscribed arena of U.S. political expression. Left political parties' electoral activity must be an extension of grassroots and "street" advocacy.

Covid-19 ensured the demise of Trump and has laid bare the anti-people nature of racial capitalism and the corporate duopoly that serves the oligarchs. Pelosi and her Democrats have shown themselves to be one with the Republicans in enforcing the Race to the Bottom that capitalists have imposed, worldwide, and whose noose has been tightening in the United States for two generations. Medicare for All is anathema to both corporate parties because it would go far towards deprivatizing one-sixth of the U.S. economy but, just as importantly, it would greatly diminish the precarity and desperation of workers who fear they must take and hold any job that provides health insurance. The oligarchy understands perfectly that its super-profits are derived from super-exploitation of the precarity-stricken workers of the planet, and on the deepening desperation of its own workforce.

It is with these forces that The Squad is collaborating, through their subservience to Pelosi and the duopoly.

(c) 2020 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

A Wealth Tax For American Progress
By Jim Hightower

The rich are different from you and me. For one thing, they're rich. Among the super-rich, though, there tends to be a peculiar sense that their net worth is a testament to their true worthiness. Thus, they seem to cling desperately to the very idea of being extremely wealthy. This leads to one specific difference between them and us: Most of us favor a wealth tax to help bridge the gaping chasm of inequality in our society; the rich do not.

Indeed, we hear shrieks of abject horror and cries of doom coming from corporate board rooms and other defenders of the plutocratic order. It would be comical if they weren't so pathetic. They exclaim that such a tax will "destroy" entrepreneurial motivation, "sap" innovation, "punish' success, and - get this - "spur" a wave of divorces! The psyches of the rich are so fragile, goes this line of bull, that a tiny tax on people with more than $50 million in wealth would keep them from getting out of bed in the morning.

Jamie Dimon, a billionaire Wall Street banker, disingenuously asserts that super-wealthy people like him would "be happy to pay more in taxes." But he fears the government would just squander it on giveaways "to interest groups and stuff like that." I have to admit that Jamie does know his "stuff" - after all, he weaseled billions of dollars from us taxpayers to bail out his bank during the 2007 Wall Street crash. Far from squandering revenues on such welfare cases as Dimon, those supporting the wealth tax specifically call for the money to fund universal access to higher education, free healthcare for All, restoration and expansion of our national infrastructure, and other direct efforts to restore the common good.

To help advance passage of the wealth tax - and our nation's democratic ideals - go to Citizens for Tax Justice:

(c) 2021 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

Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock (left) and Jon Ossoff of Georgia
wave to supporters during a rally on November 15, 2020, in Marietta, Georgia.

Democrats Gain Control Of Senate With Warnock And Ossoff Victories In Georgia
What Trump may do in his waning days is only unthinkable if you have not been paying attention.
By Chris Walker

Two Democratic candidates in Senate runoff races in the state of Georgia declared victory in their respective campaigns on Wednesday, after vote totals in the state showed them narrowly leading two Republican incumbents.

Raphael Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler by a margin of around 64,000 votes as of Wednesday afternoon, a difference of about 1.7 percent out of 4.4 million ballots cast in the state. He was declared the winner of the race by most media outlets late on Tuesday evening.

Jon Ossoff defeated David Perdue by a margin of around 25,000 votes or just over half a percent with 98 percent of the votes counted as of 4:40 Eastern Time, according to The New York Times.

The majority of votes that have yet to be counted are from Democratic-leaning areas in the state, and are widely expected to add to both Democratic candidates' leads.

Most media did not initially declare Ossoff to be the winner of the race, due to how close it was as of Wednesday morning. However, later in the day and as more votes came in, The Associated Press, The New York Times, TV networks, and other media outlets declared Ossoff the winner of the race.

Hours before most media outlets called the race for Ossoff, one Georgia election official had already signaled during a press conference on Wednesday that Ossoff would prevail over Perdue when the vote count was finished.

"Senator to be, probably, Ossoff," Gabriel Sterling, a Republican, said while speaking before reporters.

Sterling added that he had seen no evidence of irregularities in the elections in the two races.

With both Ossoff and Warnock now being declared the winners of their respective elections, there is now a 50-50 tie in the Senate between Democrats and Republicans. Control of the "upper chamber" of Congress, however, will go to Democrats, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will provide the tie-breaker vote in her constitutional role as president of the Senate.

With a supportive Senate and a House of Representatives also controlled by Democrats, President-elect Joe Biden will likely have a much easier time pushing his legislative agenda. Biden will also have less pushback against his political appointees and judicial nominations with the Senate under Democratic control.

The election is historic, as Warnock will become the first Black person elected to the Senate from the state of Georgia. Ossoff, at age 33, will also become the chamber's youngest member.

Warnock gave a victory speech in which he addressed some of the issues on voters' minds. "We can beat this pandemic with science and common sense ... we can move closer to justice with empathy and understanding, passion and purpose," he promised.

"I am so honored by the faith that you have shown in me," Warnock said in his speech, adding, "and I promise you this: I am going to the Senate to work for Georgia, all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election."

Ossoff also delivered a victory speech on Wednesday morning expressing appreciation to those who made his victory possible.

"It is with humility that I thank the people of Georgia for electing me to serve you in the United States Senate. Thank you for the trust that you have placed in me," Ossoff said.

President Donald Trump predictably blasted the results of the election, baselessly questioning their legitimacy in a number of tweets on Wednesday morning.

"They just happened to find 50,000 ballots late last night," Trump said. "The USA is embarrassed by fools. Our Election Process is worse than that of third world countries!"

There is no evidence whatsoever to support Trump's baseless claim that the tallying of votes that took place in Georgia on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning involved anything but legitimate ballots being counted by elections officials.

Many analysts have emphasized the importance of the elections' results, juxtaposing them with Republican lawmakers' various attempts to suppress the vote in Georgia in recent years, particularly among Black communities and other communities of color in the state. Investigative reporter Greg Palast, for instance, speaking to Truthout about the runoff races, noted that the elections probably shouldn't have been as close as they ended up being.

"The Ossoff race shouldn't be close," Palast said. "As MLK III told me, Georgia's a blue state, if only they'd let everyone vote. It's only close because of the purge of 198,000 voters by the state's new Jim Crow political hacks, the mail-in ballots disqualified, the closing of polling stations in Black neighborhoods, the piles of provisional ballots junked... and that's just a small part of the list."

"No matter the outcome, the war for the right to vote ain't over," Palast added.

Others gave recognition to the grassroots effort in the state that helped produce the wins for Warnock and Ossoff, noting that those efforts made it possible to overcome obstacles in voting.

"Despite the unfounded claims of fraud leveraged at diverse voters across the state, deep investments in long-term grassroots organizing overwhelmed a system of voter suppression in this election," movement journalist Anoa Changa said to Truthout. "It is no coincidence that Senator-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff expanded on Biden's lead in the state," Changa added, noting that "rural Black voters and voters of color made extraordinary gains" in the state.

"The innovative outreach by organizations like Mijente, the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and 9to5 Georgia relied on culturally relevant engagement that worked with communities instead of talking at people," Changa added.

Many gave specific commendations to former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who lost in a narrow and contested election in 2018, for her leadership in the state and grassroots organization efforts.

"Democrats must profusely thank activist Stacey Abrams, who has mobilized more Democratic voters in Georgia than either party thought possible," opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote on Twitter.

"All praise and appreciation belongs to organizers and volunteers that won these two U.S. Senate seats," Georgia state representative Brenda Lopez Romero told Truthout, particularly "those that have worked well over a decade engaging, educating, and advocating for voter access. Georgia's elections results in 2020 are the fruit of their labor."

(c) 2021 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analyzing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

Letter carrier Steve Guerra loads his truck with the day's deliverables
at the Roxbury Post Office in Nubian Square in Boston on December 1, 2020.

Expand The Postal Service In 2021
Postal workers got us through 2020 by delivering life-saving medicine and democracy-saving ballots. It's vital that Biden build up the USPS.
By John Nichols

Postal workers saw us through 2020 at enormous cost to their own health and safety. "The USPS carried out its mission despite more than 23,000 postal employees testing positive for COVID-19 and tens of thousands additional workers, up to 19,000 on some days, being under quarantine and away from work due to exposure," reported the American Postal Workers Union at the close of a pandemic year that saw more than 100 postal workers lose their lives to COVID-related symptoms.

Despite all the challenges and all the demands posed by the pandemic, and despite the relentless efforts of the Trump administration and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, to disable and dismantle this essential service, postal workers delivered the medicines that saved lives and the ballots that saved democracy to more than 160 million American addresses in 2020.

Yet the Postal Service enters 2021 as a vulnerable institution. "As this pandemic stretches on and we get beyond the challenge of timely processing and delivery of tens of millions of mail ballots, it's easy to forget about postal workers and to think that they will always be there, every day, steadily delivering billions of items of mail, medicine, ballots and packages," says APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "But, the fact is, we can only continue our mission with the public's support."

In 2021, President-elect Biden and the Congress must not just save the postal service-by embracing Representative Mark Pocan's push for new USPS leadership and by providing funding to sustain the service in this pandemic moment-but move to dramatically expand it.

To put the USPS on solid financial footing, Congress should ease the crushing burden created by a requirement that it prepay billions of dollars in retiree health care costs decades into the future. "This," the APWU recalls, "is an expense not required of any other employer-public or private-and accounts for nearly 90 percent of the USPS' structural deficit."

Then Biden and the Congress should work to implement bold proposals from stalwart defenders of the USPS-such as Pocan and Senator Bernie Sanders-to let the Postal Service provide more service.

They can start with "postal banking"reforms that would allow the Postal Service to provide basic financial services-something the USPS did until 1967, and that postal services in other countries do to this day. A robust postal banking program would benefit underserved communities and the 14.1 million American adults who are "unbanked"because of poverty, isolation, and the systemic injustices that define this country's private banking system.

Biden and the Democrats should also permit the USPS to develop new services. It is absurd, as Sanders notes, that "currently, it is against the law for workers in the post offices to make copies of documents, deliver wine or beer and wrap Christmas presents." Sanders and Pocan would also reinstate overnight delivery and improve service standards as part of a smart and necessary modernization program.

Arguing that "the beauty of the Postal Service is that it provides universal service six days a week to every corner of America, no matter how small or how remote," Sanders says Congress should "save and strengthen the Postal Service, not dismantle it."

The need to strengthen the USPS is not new. But after we all saw just how essential postal workers are to the health and safety, to the economy and the democracy, of the United States, there should be no debate about the vital importance of supercharging the Postal Service in 2021.

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Our Changing Reality
By James Donahue

A brilliant essay by researcher Winston Wu, rebutting skeptical arguments against the paranormal, reflects a growing awareness among members of the scientific community that there is something more occurring with the human experience than was once thought.

Columnist and radio personality Whitley Stieber once noted that Wu's work "deserves extensive study" because it "carefully moves through the entire skeptical lexicon of arguments, rebutting each in turn."

The Wu essay, Strieber wrote, expresses "a growing concern that the present skeptical leadership is drifting into the fallacy of rejecting all evidence that is not explained by current scientific models." He said this is "particularly worrisome now that a radical new model of reality appears to be emerging." This is the stuff the old science fiction writers may have once dreamed.

Rather than being objective in their analysis of the data surrounding paranormal events, the skeptics seem to have formed "a superstition that has the effect of filtering out data if it cannot be explained by accepted scientific theory," Strieber said.

He suggests that the skeptical paradigm has gone so far as to assume the appearance of a religion, and fails to conform to the ideals of scientific objectivity.

How refreshing it is to find writers by Winston Wu receiving this kind of recognition and praise for their work.

I am enough of a realist to know that it is only a matter of time before this free exchange of ideas and information will be blocked, we are fortunate to be living in this last brief moment of awakening. It is a time when human consciousness has a last-ditch chance to emerge from the yoke of a tunnel reality established at least a century ago, when people bought the premise that science would solve all of the problems of the world.

But even Einstein did not foresee the complexities of quantum physics, which brings forth contemporary probabilities of time travel, parallel universes, energy from antimatter and human teleportation from one point to another.

But the brave new world we face is already promising to be even stranger than most people dared to dream. We can foresee an evolved human, perhaps a human soul attached to a cyborg body and computerized brain. We receive our energy from the Sun and Earth, communicate through mental telepathy, and move mountains by mere thought. It could be a world of magic and wonder. Such a world is not only possible, it may be necessary if we expect to survive the planet changes that loom. Our wanton destruction of Eden, that perfect world with a balanced ecology that provided warmth, food, water and a perfect environment for propagation of the species, is already causing alarm. Many of us may live to see a time when billions perish and survivors are forced to live underground just to escape the destructive rays of an angry sun.

Those who emerge to live on the surface of our planet must be changed if they expect to stay alive. This means either a natural form of evolution or the creation of a new and stronger type of body that will stand up under a constant assault from the sun, radical weather and a radiated soil that will not produce food.

That people are currently waking to natural psychic abilities is frightening organized religion, which is quickly being exposed as the enslaving scam it has always been. Thus the wars are not going to be just between people of various belief systems, but against the psychics who expose graft and fraud, communicate with aliens, speak with the dead, and grieve over the agony of our dying planet.

Yet science, using the natural rules established for proper scientific evaluation, cannot explain the woman who speaks to the dead on an ouija board, the magician who uses his mind and natural Earth energies to move objects, alter events and change the weather, or the remote viewer who draws pictures of secret things with perfect accuracy.

That it might be possible to travel into the past and alter specific events, thus changing the tragic course of history, is not impossible to imagine.

Thus the predictions of a dying world, the destruction of billions of humans, and the great apocalyptic wars, may not happen at all. It is possible that our future is much different than anyone now imagines.

I believe the secret is in shedding what the late contemporary author Robert Anton Wilson so aptly called our "tunnel realities," and then learning to open our magical third eye so that we might see the whole picture.

The magic is possible. But alas, the probability that enough of us will awaken in time, however, is almost non-existent. We march in lock step behind blind leaders, not realizing that they are lemmings.

(c) 2021 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.


Top 10 Questions For Antony Blinken
By David Swanson

Before Antony Blinken can become Secretary of State, Senators must approve. And before that, they must ask questions. Here are some suggestions for what they should ask.

1. Second to the war on Iraq, which of the disasters you've helped facilitate do you most regret, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, or something else? And what have you learned that would improve your record going forward?

2. You once supported dividing Iraq into three nations. I've asked an Iraqi friend to draw up a plan to divide the United States up into three nations. Without yet seeing the plan, what is your initial reaction, and which state do you most hope to not end up with?

3. The trend from the Bush years to the Obama years to the Trump years is now one of moving away from ground wars in favor of air wars. This often means more killing, more injuring, more making people homeless, but an even higher percentage of that suffering on the non-U.S. side. How would you defend this trend if you were teaching children about morality?

4. Much of the U.S. public has been clamoring for an end to endless wars. President-Elect Biden has promised an end to endless wars. You've suggested that the endless wars shouldn't really be actually ended. We've seen both President Obama and President Trump take credit for ending wars without ending them, but surely that legerdemain cannot succeed forever. Which of these wars do you support immediately and actually in the ordinary sense of the word ending: Yemen? Afghanistan? Syria? Iraq? Somalia?

5. You cofounded WestExec Advisors, a company that helps war profiteers get contracts, and serves as a revolving door for unscrupulous individuals who get rich from private money for what they do and whom they get to know in their public jobs. Is war profiteering acceptable? How would you perform your job differently in government if you anticipated being hired by a peace organization afterward?

6. The U.S. government arms 96% of the world's most oppressive governments by its own definition. Is there any government on earth other than North Korea or Cuba that should not be sold or given deadly weapons? Do you support Congresswoman Omar's bill to stop arming human rights abusers?

7. Should the State Department function as a marketing firm for U.S. weapons companies? What percentage of the State Department's work should be devoted to selling weapons? Can you name a recent war that has not had U.S. weapons on both sides?

8. The U.S. and Russian governments are loaded up with nuclear weapons. The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than ever before. What will you do to scale back the new Cold War, re-join disarmament agreements, and move us away from nuclear apocalypse?

9. Some of my colleagues will not be satisfied until you're as hostile toward China as toward Russia. What will you do to help them relax and think more wisely about playing around with the future of life on earth?

10. What would be one example of a situation in which you would choose to become a whistleblower?

(c) 2021 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.

The 2015 Paris agreement's commitment to try and hold temperature increases to
1.5 degrees Celsius brought a new level of seriousness to the climate fight

Our Best Chance To Slow Global Warming Comes In The Next Nine Years
By Bill McKibben

The events of the past few days are shocking in their novelty-the glory of seeing the first Black Democrat ever elected to the Senate from the South, the shame of seeing a President incite a mob to storm the Capitol. Who knows what drama will come next, except for one constant: the unrelenting rise in the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and with them the disruption of the earth's physical systems. This happens more slowly than the sad spectacles of our debased political life, but not that much more slowly. As this new year dawns, we're precisely halfway through the six-decade cycle that could delineate the crucial years of the climate crisis.

Global warming has been a public problem since only about 1990. Scientists had worked on it for decades prior, and we now know that the oil companies also had been studying the impact of their products on the climate. But it was James Hansen's congressional testimony, in 1988, that brought the issue into the open, and it was the Rio Earth Summit, in 1992, that marked the first halting attempts at something like international negotiations to address it. 2050 has now emerged as the consensus target for many countries to go carbon-neutral. That date won't mark the end of the climate crisis, but it's useful as a final deadline for the transition to a new economic and energy regime that respects the physical limits of the planet. So, three decades down and three to go.

Of those decades, the two most important are the one we've just come through and the one we're now entering. The nineteen-nineties and the two-thousands were essentially wasted: oil-company propaganda and accompanying political muscle made sweeping action impossible. The epic failure of the Copenhagen climate conference, in 2009, and of the cap-and-trade climate legislation on Capitol Hill, in 2010, closed that era.

But, right around that time, three trends started to gather force. First, by then we could see the effects of rising temperatures on the world around us: fires, floods, and storms were so much more frequent and intense that denying them became exponentially harder. Second, engineers took us swiftly down the learning curve of renewable energy, dropping the price of solar and wind power by an order of magnitude. Third, global environmental movements arose, which meant that politicians had someone to fear besides oil tycoons; they couldn't come back empty-handed from Paris, as they had from Copenhagen, and they didn't. The 2015 Paris agreement, and especially its commitment to try and hold temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, brought a new level of seriousness to the climate fight. Donald Trump was a big pothole in the road forward-he was able to slow the momentum, but not to stop it.

Yet the past decade only matters if this decade plays out perfectly. The elements are now in place for truly rapid action, but success will require going far faster than economics alone can push us, and far faster than politicians will find comfortable. Never forget that climate change is a timed test; our best chance to take the actions that will end the trajectory of rising emissions comes this decade. That's why climate scientists talk so much about the change that must happen between now and 2030: emissions must fall by at least half. If civilization is to have a chance, we should be thinking of the years from 2030 to 2050 as the mopping-up phase: the big, hard breaks with the status quo have to come in the next nine years. What does that look like in practice? An immediate end to new fossil-fuel infrastructure, be it giant pipelines from the tar sands of Canada or natural-gas hookups to new homes and businesses. A retrofitting of buildings around the world to make them both efficient and fully electrified, so that they can take advantage of what needs to be a breathtaking rollout of renewable energy. An epic change in the way that we move ourselves and our stuff around the world-electricity and muscles need to replace hydrocarbons. An end to deforestation, and rapid research into and development of ways to grow foods that soak up, instead of spew, carbon. A halt to the flow of money to the epically irresponsible fossil-fuel industry.

These things have to happen everywhere; doing them in scattered countries doesn't get the job done. And they have to happen against the backdrop-really, now, against the foreground-of a climate-stressed world, where all the effects we've seen so far will only get worse. It's clearly physically and financially possible to do what needs to be done. (Much of the cost of the transition can be covered simply because each year we will be spending less to buy fuel.) But beating both inertia and vested interests will be, as usual, the trick. It should get easier as time goes on: ExxonMobil is no longer the giant it was a decade ago, and each new electric car cuts its power a little more. The world's governments are increasingly saying the right things, and none more so than the incoming Biden team. But they will need the forces of the past decade-the engineering triumphs and the movement-building-to keep accelerating in order to provide the required push. Most people alive today will see how this story comes out. A decade is a hundred and twenty months. That's about five hundred weeks. It's all the time we've got.

(c) 2021 Bill McKibben is founder and senior adviser emeritus of

Dick F*cking Cheney Signed This Thing
You couldn't get all 10 living Secretaries of Defense together to sign off on a
breakfast order. But they've published an op-ed that is just as scary for what it doesn't say.

By Charles P. Pierce

I admit, this unnerved me quite a bit, more for what it doesn't say than for what it says, and what it says is bad enough. From the Washington Post:

The former Pentagon chiefs issued their warning Sunday evening in an opinion piece that they co-wrote and published in The Washington Post. Its authors include Trump's two former defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper, as well as each surviving, Senate-confirmed Pentagon chief dating back to Donald H. Rumsfeld in the 1970s...

"Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted," the former defense secretaries wrote. "The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived."

As senior Defense Department leaders have noted, "there's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election." Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.
I don't think you could get these guys together to sign off on a breakfast order, let alone an op-ed in which they tell the incumbent president* to get stuffed. Unless, of course, one or several of them know something that scares the daylights out of them. And if you start putting the context together-the decapitation of the civilian leadership at the Pentagon in favor of unqualified cronies, the current blustering centered on Iran, the simple fact that El Caudillo Del Mar-a-Lago is capable of anything-it's easy to concoct scenarios that are halfway between Seven Days In May and Duck Soup. I feel very sure that this group did not get together in order to defend some vague love for the constitutional order. I think something made them go cold down to their toes.

Update (1:08 p.m.): A couple of people have noted this David Ignatius column in the Washington Post that I missed over the weekend, and that may have prompted the remarkable letter from the former Secretaries of Defense.

Government officials fear that if violence spreads, Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military. Then Trump might use "military capabilities" to rerun the Nov. 3 election in swing states, as suggested by Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser. Trump "could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election," Flynn told Newsmax in a Dec. 17 interview.

The Pentagon would be the locus of any such action, and some unusual recent moves suggest pro-Trump officials might be mobilizing to secure levers of power. Kash Patel, chief of staff to acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller, returned home "abruptly" from an Asia trip in early December, according to Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin. Patel didn't explain, but in mid-December Trump discussed with colleagues the possibility that Patel might replace Christopher A. Wray as FBI director, one official said. Wray remains in his job.

I feel so much better.

(c) 2021 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 importance of the election is not only electing Ossoff and Warnock, but it is, if Democrats win those two seats, turns out that the Democrats will control the United States Senate-and this is a very very very big deal because the party that controls the Senate is the party that controls every chairmanship, every committee and determines the agenda.

"So right now in the last number of years, the reason that the U.S. Senate does very little in terms of minimum wage or equal rights for women, or criminal justice or climate change, we have a leader in Mitch McConnell, a Republican, who doesn't put anything on the floor." ~~~ Bernie Sanders

Progressive group Win Without War tweeted Monday that "the Trump administration's maximum pressure against Iran has been a maximum failure."

Trump And Iran In Last 17 Days: Will They Or Won't They?
"Trump's economic and financial blockade on Iran is such that things could always spiral out of control."
By Juan Cole

There is a lot of buzz inside the Beltway, most of it generated inside the Beltway, about possible hostilities between Iran and the Trump administration in the Mad President's last 17 days in office.

Some of this buzz is around today's January 3rd, 2020, anniversary of Trump's assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Gen. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, by rocket at Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani was the head of the Jerusalem Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, maybe analogous to the US Joint Special Operations Command. Al-Muhandis in Iraq was perhaps the equivalent of a state national guard commander, since the Iraqi parliament recognized the militias as part of the armed forces.

Some Iranian hardliners have been rattling sabers about revenge, threatening Trump personally. There is the possibility of poorly disciplined Shiite militias firing rockets at the US Embassy, and Trump as usual has issued his hyperbolic Twitter Threats.

News was made when the Pentagon announced that some B-52 bombers were being sent to the Gulf.

Although Trump the Mad and SecState Mike Pompeo, he of the Rapture, announced that Soleimani had been coming to Iraq to kill Americans, this was a bald faced lie that the Pentagon report refused to back up. The then Iraqi prime minister said, in contrast, that Soleimani was on a mission to reduce tensions with Saudi Arabia, and came to Baghdad on a diplomatic passport on a civilian airliner.

There is an old saying in the military that everyone wants to do strategy, but the best minds in uniform want to do logistics. War strategy is glamorous. But logistics, the science of moving around men and materiel and making sure troops have ammunition, weapons, boots and, in desert environments, water to drink and do laundry with, is a sine qua non for winning the battle, as well.

Because logistics is so key, watching such movements is one way to tell if a military attack is being planned. In modern warfare it isn't easy to hide. All through spring, 2003, the Bush administration was moving war materiel and men into Kuwait and Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.

Aside from a few B-52s being flown to the area, the US is not in a strike posture. It has military bases in Kuwait and Qatar, and an outpost in the United Arab Emirates, but none of these host countries would want to be seen as a launching pad for a Trump attack on Iran. Trump will be out of office in a little over 400 hours, but those countries have to live with Iran for the coming centuries.

The big "tell" was that the USS Nimitz Air Craft Carrier battle group is being ordered home by acting secretary of defense Christopher Miller.. Its last mission was in any case far from Iran, in Somalia. Air strikes were launched from it against the Al Shabab terrorist group in that country, as a parting gift to the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, a US alley. The Nimitz helped the last of the US troops in Somalia leave.

Miller specifically said that sending the Nimitz back to the US was meant as a "deescalatory" measure with Iran.

Since the US is highly unlikely to attack Iran from one of that country's Gulf neighbors, and since it no longer has an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, it just isn't very likely that it will initiate a first strike at all.

As for the Iranians, they would be crazy to do something overt to Americans at this point.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiyee said the world will be much safer with Trump out of office.

Iran has had a year to retaliate, and mostly what they did was one set of missile strikes on an Iraqi base that had US soldiers last spring. The strike gave about 100 of them bad concussions, which is a serious injury that Trump made light of. But that was the last time we heard about any kinetic Iranian action against the US military. Why wait until Trump is almost gone, and spoil things with the incoming, and much more reasonable, Biden administration?

Trump's economic and financial blockade on Iran is such that things could always spiral out of control. I hope they don't and that tensions can soon begin being ratcheted down. Obama solved Iran, and maybe Biden can do it again.

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

The Dead Letter Office-

Russ gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Verwaltungsburo und Haushaltsdirektor Vought,

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 Samuel (Sammy the con) Alito.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your blocking of your department from helping incoming OMB team get up to speed, 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 "Rethuglican 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 01-19-2021. We salute you herr Vought, seig heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

7 Ways 2020 Exposed America
By Robert Reich

If America learns nothing else from these dark times, here are 7 lessons it should take away from 2020:

1. Workers keep America going, not billionaires.

American workers have been forced to put their lives on the line to provide essential services even as their employers failed to provide them with adequate protective gear, hazard pay, or notice of when COVID had infected their workplaces. Meanwhile, America's 651 billionaires - whose net worth has grown by over $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic - retreated to their mansions, yachts and estates.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sheltered in his 165,000-acre West Texas ranch while Amazon's warehouse workers toiled in close proximity to each other, often without adequate masks, gloves, or sanitizers. The company offered but then soon scrapped a $2 an hour hazard pay increase for warehouse workers, even as Bezos' wealth jumped by a staggering $70 billion since March, putting his estimated net worth at roughly $186 billion as the year came to an end.

2. Systemic racism is literally killing Black and Latino Americans.

Black and Latino Americans account for almost 40 percent, of coronavirus deaths so far, despite comprising less than a quarter of the population. As they've borne the brunt of this pandemic, they've been forced to fight for their humanity in another regard - taking to the streets across the country to protest decades of unjust police killings of their community members, only to be met with more police violence.

Among Native American communities, the coronavirus figures are even more horrifying. The Navajo Nation has had a higher per-capita infection rate than any state but can't adequately care for the sick, thanks to years of federal underfunding and neglect of its healthcare system.

Decades of segregated housing, pollution, lack of access to medical care, and poverty have left communities of color vulnerable to the worst of this virus, and the worst of America.

3. If we can afford to bail out corporations and Wall Street, we sure as hell can afford to help people.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to insist we can't "afford" $2,000 COVID survival checks for Americans. But the latest coronavirus relief legislation doled out over $220 billion to powerful business interests that could instead have been used to help struggling working families.

Another way of looking at it: The total cost of providing those $2,000 checks ($465 billion) is less than half the amount America's 651 billionaires added to their wealth during the pandemic ($1 trillion).

4. Health care must be made a right in America.

Even before the pandemic, an estimated 28 million Americans lacked health insurance. After it struck, an additional 15 million lost employer-provided coverage because they lost their jobs. Without insurance, a hospital stay to treat COVID-19 cost as much as $73,000. Remember this the next time you hear pundits saying Medicare for All is too radical.

5. Our social safety nets are woefully broken.

No other advanced nation was as unprepared for the pandemic as was the United States. Our unemployment insurance system is over 80 years old, designed for a different America. We're one of the few countries in the world that doesn't provide all workers some form of paid sick leave.

Other industrialized nations kept their unemployment rates low by guaranteeing paychecks during the pandemic. But Americans who filed for unemployment benefits often got nothing or received them weeks or months late. Under new legislation they get just $300 a week of extra benefits to tide them over.

6. The Electoral College must be abolished Biden won 7 million more popular votes than Trump. But Biden's margin in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin totaled just 45,000. Had Trump won these three states instead, he would have gained 37 more electoral votes, tying Biden in the electoral college. Under the Constitution, this would have pushed the election to the House of Representatives, with each state delegation getting just one vote. Even though Democrats have a majority in the House, more state delegations have Republican majorities. Trump would have been reelected.

The gap between the popular and electoral college vote continues to widen. The Electoral College is an increasingly dangerous anachronism.

7. Government matters. For decades, conservatives have told us that government is the problem and that we should let the free market run its course. Rubbish. If nothing else, 2020 has shown that the unfettered free market won't save us. After 40 years of Reaganism, it's never been clearer: Government is in fact necessary to protect the public.

It's tragic that it took a pandemic, near-record unemployment, millions of people taking to the streets, and a near-calamitous election for many to grasp how broken, racist, and backwards our system really is. Biggest lesson of all: It must be fixed.

(c) 2021 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

Assange earned the eternal enmity of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000
hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials.

The Empire Is Not Done With Julian Assange
As is clear from the memoir of one of his attorneys, Michael Ratner, the ends have always justified the means for those demanding his global persecution.
by Chris Hedges

Shortly after WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes - including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the Collateral Murder video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians that had approached too closely to US checkpoints - the towering civil rights attorneys Michael Ratner and Len Weinglass, who had defended Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case, met Julian Assange in a studio apartment in Central London, according to Ratner's newly released memoir "Moving the Bar."

Assange had just returned to London from Sweden where he had attempted to create the legal framework to protect WikiLeaks' servers in Sweden. Shortly after his arrival in Stockholm, his personal bank cards were blocked. He had no access to funds and was dependent on supporters. Two of these supporters were women with whom he had consensual sex. As he was preparing to leave, the Swedish media announced that he was wanted for questioning about allegations of rape. The women, who never accused Assange of rape, wanted him to take an STD test. They had approached the police about compelling him to comply. "I did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange," texted one of them on August 20 while she was still at the police station, but "the police were keen on getting their hands on him." She said she felt "railroaded by the police." Within 24 hours the chief prosecutor of Stockholm took over the preliminary investigation. He dropped the rape accusation, stating "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape." Assange, although not charged with a crime, cancelled his departure and remained in Sweden for another five weeks to cooperate with the investigation. A special prosecutor, Marianne Ny, was appointed to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange was granted permission to leave the country. He flew to Berlin. When Assange arrived in Berlin three encrypted laptops with documents detailing US war crimes had disappeared from his luggage.

"We consider the Swedish allegations a distraction," Ratner told Assange, according to his memoir. "We've read the police reports, and we believe the authorities don't have a case. We're here because in our view you are in much more jeopardy in the US Len [Weinglass] can explain why."

Assange, Ratner recalled, remained silent.

"WikiLeaks and you personally are facing a battle that is both legal and political," Weinglass told Assange. "As we learned in the Pentagon Papers case, the US government doesn't like the truth coming out. And it doesn't like to be humiliated. No matter if it's Nixon or Bush or Obama, Republican or Democrat in the White House. The US government will try to stop you from publishing its ugly secrets. And if they have to destroy you and the First Amendment and the rights of publishers with you, they are willing to do it. We believe they are going to come after WikiLeaks and you, Julian, as the publisher."

"Come after me for what?" asked Julian.

"Espionage," Weinglass continued, according to the memoir. "They're going to charge Bradley Manning with treason under the Espionage Act of 1917. We don't think it applies to him because he's a whistleblower, not a spy. And we don't think it applies to you either because you are a publisher. But they are going to try to force Manning into implicating you as his collaborator. That's why it's crucial that WikiLeaks and you personally have an American criminal lawyer to represent you."

Ratner and Weinglass laid out potential scenarios.

"The way it could happen," Ratner said, "is that the Justice Department could convene a secret grand jury to investigate possible charges against you. It would probably be in northern Virginia, where everyone on the jury would be a current or retired CIA employee or have worked for some other part of the military-industrial complex. They would be hostile to anyone like you who'd published US government secrets. The grand jury could come up with a sealed indictment, issue a warrant for your arrest, and request extradition."

"What happens if they extradite me?" asked Julian.

"They fly you to where the indictment is issued," Weinglass told Assange. "Then they put you into some hellhole in solitary, and you get treated like Bradley Manning. They put you under what they call special administrative measures, which means you probably would not be allowed communication with anyone. Maybe your lawyer could go in and talk to you, but the lawyer couldn't say anything to the press."

"And it's very, very unlikely that they would give you bail," Ratner added.

"Is it easier to extradite from the UK or from Sweden?" asked Sarah Harrison, who was at the meeting.

"We don't know the answer to that," Ratner replied. "My guess is that you would probably have the most support and the best legal team in a bigger country like the UK In a smaller country like Sweden, the US can use its power to pressure the government, so it would be easier to extradite you from there. But we need to consult with a lawyer who specializes in extradition."

Assange's British lawyer, also at the meeting, proposed that Assange return to Sweden for further questioning.

"I don't think that's wise," Weinglass said, "unless the Swedish government guarantees that Julian will not be extradited to another country because of his publishing work."

"The problem is that Sweden doesn't have bail," Ratner explained. "If they put you in jail in Stockholm and the US pressures the government to extradite you, Sweden might send you immediately to the US and you'd never see the light of day again. It's far less risky to ask the Swedish prosecutor to question you in London."

The US government's determination to extradite Assange and imprison him for life, despite the fact that Assange is not a US citizen and WikiLeaks is not a US based publication, Ratner understood from the start, will be unwavering and relentless.

In the 132-page ruling (pdf) issued today in London by Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the Westminster Magistrates' Court the court refused to grant an extradition request only because of the barbarity of the conditions under which Assange would be held while imprisoned in the US.

"Faced with the conditions of near total isolation without the protective factors which limited his risk at [Her Majesty's Prison] Belmarsh, I am satisfied the procedures described by the US will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide," said Baraitser, "and for this reason I have decided extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm and I order his discharge."

Assange is charged with violating 17 counts of the Espionage Act, along with an attempt to hack into a government computer. Each of the 17 counts carries a potential sentence of 10 years. The additional charge that Assange conspired to hack into a government computer has a maximum sentence of five years. The judge ominously accepted all of the charges leveled by US prosecutors against Assange - that he violated the Espionage Act by releasing classified information and was complicit in assisting his source, Chelsea Manning, in the hacking of a government computer. It is a very, very dangerous ruling for the media. And if, on appeal, and the US has already said it would appeal, the higher court is assured that Assange will be held in humane conditions, it paves the way for his extradition.

The publication of classified documents is not yet a crime in the United States. If Assange is extradited and convicted, it will become one. The extradition of Assange would mean the end of journalistic investigations into the inner workings of power. It would cement into place a terrifying global, corporate tyranny under which borders, nationality and law mean nothing. Once such a legal precedent is set, any publication that publishes classified material, from The New York Times to an alternative website, will be prosecuted and silenced.

Assange has done more than any contemporary journalist or publisher to expose the inner workings of empire and the lies and crimes of the US ruling elite. The deep animus towards Assange, as fierce within the Democratic Party as the Republican Party, and the cowardice of the media and watchdog groups such as PEN to defend him, mean that all he has left are courageous attorneys, such as Ratner, activists, who protested outside the court, and those few voices of conscience willing to become pariahs in his defense.

Ratner's memoir, which is a profile in courage of the many dissidents, including Assange, he valiantly defended, is also a profile of courage of one of the greatest civil rights attorneys of our era. There are few people I respect more than Michael Ratner, who I accompanied to visit Assange when he was trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His memoir is not only about his lifelong fight against racial injustice, a rising corporate totalitarianism, and the crimes of empire, but is a sterling example of what it means to live the moral life.

Assange earned the eternal enmity of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and identified both nations as major funders of Islamic State [ISIL/ISIS]. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. They exposed Clinton's repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted "open trade and open borders" and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign's efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee. They exposed Clinton's advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. They exposed Clinton as the principal architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate.

The Democratic Party, which routinely blames Russia for its election loss to Trump, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers. Hillary Clinton has called WikiLeaks a Russian front. James Comey, the former FBI director, however, conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary, and Assange has said the emails were not provided by "state actors."

Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs, should have remained hidden, but they can't then call themselves journalists.

A few weeks after Ratner's first meeting with Assange, WikiLeaks published 220 documents from Cablegate, the US State Department classified cables that Chelsea Manning had provided to WikiLeaks. The cables had been sent to the State Department from US diplomatic missions, consulates, and embassies around the globe. The 251,287 cables dated from December 1966 to February 2010. The release dominated the news and filled the pages of The New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais.

"The extent and importance of the Cablegate revelations took my breath away," Ratner, who died in 2016, wrote in his memoir. "They pulled back the curtain and revealed how American foreign policy functions behind-the-scenes, manipulating events all over the globe. They also provided access to US diplomats' raw, frank, and often embarrassing assessments of foreign leaders."" Some of the most stunning revelations:

In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered US diplomats to spy on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other UN representatives from China, France, Russia, and the UK. The information she asked for included DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, and personal passwords. US and British diplomats also eavesdropped on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The US has been secretly launching missile, bomb, and drone attacks on terrorist targets in Yemen, killing civilians. But to protect the US, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Gen. David Petraeus, "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours."

Saudi King Abdullah repeatedly urged the US to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities to "cut off the head of the snake." Other leaders from Israel, Jordan, and Bahrain also urged the US to attack Iran.

The White House and Secretary of State Clinton refused to condemn the June 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya, ignoring a cable from the US embassy there that described the coup as "illegal and unconstitutional." Instead of calling for the restoration of Zelaya, the US supported elections orchestrated by the coup's leader, Roberto Micheletti. Opposition leaders and international observers boycotted those elections.

Employees of a US government contractor in Afghanistan, DynCorp, hired "dancing boys" - a euphemism for child prostitutes - to be used as sex slaves.

In various cables, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is called "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him." Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and her husband Nestor Kirchner, the former president, are described as "paranoid." President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is described as "thin-skinned" and "authoritarian." Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is called "feckless, vain, and ineffective."

Perhaps most important, the cables said that Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had "lost touch with the Tunisian people" and described "high-level corruption, a sclerotic regime, and deep hatred of . . . Ben Ali's wife and her family." These revelations led to the eventual overthrow of the regime in Tunisia. The Tunisian protests spread like wildfire to other countries of the Middle East, resulting in the widespread revolts of the Arab Spring of 2011.

Secretary of State Clinton said after the release of the cables, "Disclosures like these tear at the fabric of the proper functioning of responsible government." Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department was conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation into WikiLeaks." Then US Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) called WikiLeaks "a terrorist organization." Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called for WikiLeaks to be shut down and Assange treated as "an enemy combatant who's engaged in information warfare against the United States."

"For those who ran the American empire, the truth hurt," Ratner writes. "For the rest of us, it was liberating. With the 2010 release of the Collateral Murder video, the Afghan War Logs, the Iraq War Logs, and Cablegate, WikiLeaks went far beyond traditional investigative reporting. It proved that in the new digital world, full transparency was not only possible, but necessary in order to hold governments accountable for their actions."

"On November 30, 2010, two days after the initial release of Cablegate, Sweden issued an Interpol 'Red Alert Notice' normally used to warn about terrorists," Ratner goes on. "It also issued a European Arrest Warrant seeking Assange's extradition to Sweden. Since he was wanted only for questioning about the sexual misconduct allegations, it seemed clear from the timing and severity of the warrant that the US had successfully pressured the Swedes."

The efforts to extradite Assange intensified. He was held for ten days in solitary confinement at Wandsworth Prison before being released on bail of 340,000 pounds. He spent 551 days under house arrest, forced to wear an electronic anklet and check in with police twice a day. Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, and Western Union refused to process donations to WikiLeaks.

"It became virtually impossible for anyone to donate to WikiLeaks, and its income immediately plummeted by 95 percent," Ratner writes. "But none of the financial institutions could point to any illegal activity by WikiLeaks, and none had imposed any restrictions on WikiLeaks' mainstream co-publishers. The financial blockade applied only to WikiLeaks."

Ratner was soon spending several days a month in England conferring with Assange and his legal team. Ratner also attended the trial at Fort Meade in Maryland for Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning), certain that it would illuminate how the US government intended to go after Assange.

"Prosecutors in the Bradley Manning case revealed internet chat logs between Manning and an unnamed person at WikiLeaks who they said colluded with Manning by helping the accused traitor engineer a reverse password," he writes. "Without supporting evidence, prosecutors claimed the unnamed person was Assange. Both Manning and Assange denied it. Nonetheless, it was clear that what Len [Weinglass] and I had predicted was happening. The case against Bradley Manning was also a case against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The two were inextricably linked."

Manning was charged with 22 violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Espionage Act, including aiding the enemy - which carries a possible death sentence - wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet, and theft of public property.

"I couldn't get over the irony of it all," Ratner writes. "On trial was the whistle-blower who leaked documents showing the number of civilians killed in Iraq, the Collateral Murder video, Reuters journalists being killed, children being shot. To me, the people who should be the defendants were the ones who started the Afghan and Iraq wars, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the officials who carried out torture, the people who committed the very crimes that Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks exposed. And those who should be observing were the ghosts of the dead Reuters journalists and the ghosts of the children and others killed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"A week after Manning's arraignment, WikiLeaks published an internal e-mail dated January 26, 2011 from the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor)," Ratner goes on. "Part of a trove of five million e-mails that the hacker group Anonymous obtained from Stratfor's servers, it was written by Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton, a former State Department counter-terrorism expert. It stated clearly: 'We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.' Another of Burton's e-mails was more vivid: 'Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He'll be eating cat food forever.'"

"The e-mails revealed how far the US government would go to protect its dirty secrets, and how it would use its own secrecy as a weapon," Ratner writes. "Somehow Stratfor, which has been called a shadow CIA, had information about this sealed indictment that neither WikiLeaks, Assange, nor his lawyers had."

Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to the maximum ten years in federal prison for the Stratfor hack and leak. He remains imprisoned.

On June 14, 2012, the UK Supreme Court issued its verdict affirming the extradition order to Sweden. Assange, cornered, was granted political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he would remain for seven years until British police in April 2019 raided the embassy, sovereign territory of Ecuador, and placed him in solitary confinement in the notorious high-security HM Prison Belmarsh.

The arrest eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and US governments, in the seizure of Assange were ominous. They presaged a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes - especially war crimes - carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presaged a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presaged an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange's rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy - diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory - to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a US citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

"As a journalist and publisher of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange had every right to asylum," Ratner writes. "The law is clear. The exercise of political free speech - including revealing government crimes, misconduct, or corruption - is internationally protected and is grounds for asylum. The US government has recognized this right, having granted asylum to several journalists and whistleblowers, most notably from China."

"My view is that mass surveillance is not really about preventing terrorism, but is much more about social control," Ratner writes. "It's about stopping an uprising like the ones we had here in the US in the '60s and '70s. It shocks me that Americans are passively allowing this and that all three branches of government have done nothing about it. Despite mass surveillance, my message for people is the same one that Mother Jones delivered a century ago: organize, organize, organize. Yes, the surveillance state will try to scare you. They will be watching and listening. You won't even know whether your best friend is an informant. Take whatever security precautions you can. But do not be intimidated. Whether you call it the sweep of history or the sweep of revolution, in the end, the surveillance state cannot stop people from moving toward the kind of change that will make their lives better."

(c) 2021 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Pat Bagley ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

What Trump Hopes To Accomplish Before Leaving The White House
By The Onion

On January 20, 2021, Donald Trump will leave office at the end of his presidential term, coup permitting. Here's what President Trump hopes to accomplish over his final two weeks in office.

An unfathomably high amount of document shredding.

Sunrise yoga on the National Mall.

Finally follow through on campaign pledge to stand in middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody.

Hold yard sale to raise money for legal battles and recounts.

Award Twitter user @920274749_000 the Presidential Medal of Valor for unwavering support over past four years.

Humor the hapless boys and girls in intelligence by listening to even one morning briefing.

Honor the teachings of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Install ultrasonic alarms to torment Joe Biden's dogs 24 hours a day.

Get his father's ghost to say one kind thing.

As presidential tradition goes, leave the country in a worse place than he found it.

(c) 2021 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 02 (c) 01/08/2021

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