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In This Edition

Norman Solomon finds, "Buttigieg And Biden Are Masters Of Evasion."

Ralph Nader writes a, "Letter To Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell And Speaker Of The House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi."

Glen Ford returns with, "Trump Is A Criminal, But The Democrats Belong To The Same Mafia."

Jim Hightower asks, "Is Healthcare More Important Than Healthcare Profits?"

William Rivers Pitt returns with, "Trump Celebrates New Decade By Trying To Start World War III."

John Nichols reports, "Pocan Seeks To Avert Another 'Endless War.'"

James Donahue explains, "Why It's Illegal To Feed The Homeless."

David Swanson reports, "Charlottesville City Council Passes Resolution Against War On Iran."

Michael Winship warns, "Drum Major Trump Marches Us Into The Folly Of War."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "Trump's Order To Assassinate Qasem Soleimani Has Kicked Over The Hornet's Nest."

Juan Cole reports, "Iraqi Parliament Resolves To Kick Out US Troops, And Trump Threatens Mother Of All Sanctions."

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explores, "The Sham Of Corporate Social Responsibility."

Jane Stillwater studies, "Climate Deterioration."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz finds, "Ayatollah Mystified That He Is The Only Dictator Trump Dislikes," but first Uncle Ernie is, "Wagging The Dog Trump Style."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Lalo Alcaraz, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian Mcfadden, Tom Tomorrow, Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl, Stringer/Anadolu Agency, Vahid Salemi, Nicolas Kamm, Aamir Quresh, Creative Commons, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, 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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Wagging The Dog Trump Style
By Ernest Stewart

"As Abdulmahdi told the story, Saudi Arabia had contacted him, seeking his mediation to cool down Riyadh's conflict with Iran. Abdulmahdi said he sent the Saudi message to Tehran, and then invited Soleimani to come give the reply. (Soleimani came openly to Iraq on a commercial airliner and went through passport control with his diplomatic passport. There was nothing covert about the visit). Soleimani was on his way to consultations with his host, Abdulmahdi, when Trump rubbed him out." ~~~ Juan Cole

"As fires rage, the tragedy playing out underwater is much worse, but invisible to most." ~~~ Darryl Fears

"To to the dimwitted Congressman who just sent this tweet, no one told anyone that the Germans were going to attack Pearl Harbor. By the way, how's your family. Do they still hate you and think you are dumb?" ~~~ Joe Lockhart

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

The term "wag the dog" is defined as "The political phrase wag the dog is used to indicate that attention is purposely being diverted from something of greater importance to something of lesser importance." With a slight misdirection Lying Donald's impeachment is pushed aside in the headlines, by Lying Donalds murdering of General Soleimani.

I'm not saying that Soleimani was innocent, no general in any country, including the United Sankes are innocent. You don't get to be a general by being innocent. You get to be a general by being up to neck in other peoples blood.

However, no matter the lies that Lying Donald and his cabal are spreading about Soleimani, he wasn't skulking into Iraq to murder Americans, he flew in on his passport on a commercial flight as an envoy of peace for the Iraqi president in behest of the Saudi's. The Saudi's wanted to cool down the the situations with Iran and Soleimani was there to calm things down. Which methinks explains the question of "why now?" The one thing that the cabal hawks didn't want to see is a deescalation of hostilities. So Lying Donald kills two birds with one stone.

Trouble is, the Iraqis have had enough with our murdering bullsh*t! They want us gone and who can blame them? And there is nothing that we can legally do about it. Of course, Lying Donald could just hold his breath until Baghdad sees the light, but I wouldn't count on it!

Lying Donald announced Sunday that he would be making wartime declarations to Capitol Hill through Twitter, which is of course illegal and an impeachable offence by itself! Lying Donald tweeted:

"These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!" Oh my!

In Other News

I see where Australia is caught in a climate spiral of their own making. For the past few decades, the arid and affluent country of 25 million has padded out its economy-otherwise dominated by sandy beaches and a bustling service sector, by selling coal to the world. As the East Asian economies have grown, Australia has been all too happy to keep their lights on. Exporting food, fiber, and minerals to Asia has helped Australia achieve three decades of nearly relentless growth: Australia hasn't had a technical recession, defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction, since July 1991.

But now Australia is buckling under the conditions that its fossil fuels have helped bring about. Perhaps the two biggest kinds of climate calamity happening today have begun to afflict the continent.

The first kind of disaster is, of course, the wildfire crisis. In the past three months, bushfires in Australia's southeast have burned millions of acres, poisoned the air in Sydney and Melbourne, and forced 4,000 tourists and residents in a small beach town, Mallacoota, to congregate on the beach and get evacuated by the navy. A salvo of fires seems to have caught the world's attention in recent years. But the current Australian season has outdone them all: Over the past six months, Australian fires have burned more than twice the area than was consumed, combined, by California's 2018 fires and the Amazon's 2019 fires. An area twice the size of New Jersey has already burned to the ground!

The second is the irreversible scouring of the Earth's most distinctive ecosystems. In Australia, this phenomenon has come for the country's natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef. From 2016 to 2018, half of all coral in the reef died, killed by oceanic heat waves that bleached and then essentially starved the symbiotic animals. Because tropical coral reefs take about a decade to recover from such a die-off, and because the relentless pace of climate change means that more heat waves are virtually guaranteed in the 2020s, the reef's only hope of long-term survival is for humans to virtually halt global warming in the next several decades and then begin to reverse it and we all know that is never going to happen. Because to meet such a goal will require a revolution in the global energy system-and, above all, a rapid abandonment of coal burning. But there's the rub. Australia is the world's second-largest exporter of coal power, and it has avoided recession for the past 27 years in part by selling coal.

Instead of fighting global warming, Australia like, American, elected a climate denier as prime minister, Scott Morrison. Morrison as you may remember actually brought a lump of coal to the floor of Parliament several years ago while defending the industry. He won an election last year by depicting climate change as the exclusive concern of educated city-dwellers, and climate policy as a threat to Australians' cars and trucks. He has so far attempted to portray the wildfires as a crisis, sure, but one that is inline with previous natural disasters. At least, he so far hasn't opened up any closed coal mines like someone we know!

Perhaps, more than any other wealthy nation on Earth, Australia is at risk from the dangers of climate change. It has spent most of the 21st century in a historic drought. Its tropical oceans are more endangered than any other biome by climate change. Its people are clustered along the temperate and tropical coasts, where rising seas threaten major cities. Those same bands of livable land are the places either now burning or at heightened risk of bushfire in the future. Faced with such climate challenges, Australia's people might rally to reverse these dangers. Instead, they have elected leaders who deny the global warming problems. Sound familiar, America?

And Finally

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a photoshopped image of Barack Obama with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and got mad when people pointed out to him that it was fake.

Paul who is the black sheep of his family, as his family has pointed out many times that he has all but ruined the family name by his lies and stupid gestures, got upset when hundreds of people pointed out his lies. The photoshopped photo was actually Obama and former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singhphoto that was taken in 2011. When his lie was pointed out to him by hundreds of people Gosar tweeted:
Here's the actual photo:

But two can play at this game as I have photoshop too...

The point being that Lying Donald isn't the only Rethuglican that can't tell the truth, in fact, none of them can. When was the last time you heard 'turtle boy' tell the truth? However, this week's Vidkun Quisling Award winner is Paul Gosar! I'd add that I bet this makes his mother proud, but she hates him too!

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!


09-15-1949 ~ 01-06-2020
Thanks for the music!

07-31-1967 ~ 01-07-2029
Thanks for the read!

12-09-1930 ~ 01-08-2029
Thanks for everything


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) 2020 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Buttigieg And Biden Are Masters Of Evasion
By Norman Solomon

In a recent New Yorker profile of Pete Buttigieg, one sentence stands out: "Watch Buttigieg long enough and you notice that he uses abstraction as an escape hatch." Evasive platitudes are also routine for Joe Biden, the other major Democratic presidential candidate running in what mainstream journalists call "the center lane."

Jim Hightower has observed that "there's nothing in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos." Or, we might say, party lines and deadening politics.

Like other so-called "moderate" politicians, Buttigieg and Biden dodge key questions by plunging into foggy rhetoric. They're incapable of giving a coherent and truthful account of power in the United States because they're beholden to corporate-aligned donors. Those donors want to hear doubletalk that protects their interests, not clear talk that could threaten them.

"Forty billionaires and their spouses have donated to Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign, according to an analysis of federal election filings, making the South Bend, Indiana mayor a favorite among America's richest people," Forbes reported last month.

The magazine added: "More than one third of Buttigieg's wealthy benefactors got rich in finance and investments. That group includes seven who built their fortunes from hedge funds, including Bill Ackman, Philippe Laffont and Seth Klarman."

Mega-money manipulators are bullish on Buttigieg. "The financial sector, blamed by progressives for spawning the 2008 economic collapse, is lining up behind Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign," the Associated Press explained in late December. He "has collected more campaign cash from donors and political action committees tied to the financial, insurance and real estate sector than any other White House hopeful, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics."

AP added: "One top Wall Street law firm could pose particular challenges for Buttigieg with progressives. He's the top recipient of cash this cycle from Sullivan & Cromwell, which has worked on some of the biggest corporate mergers in recent history, including Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, AT&T's purchase of Time Warner and Bayer's merger with Monsanto. The firm also represented some of the largest financial institutions that received federal bailout money."

Buttigieg is a very new darling of corporate America compared to his main centrist rival. Biden -- who has a decades-long record of scarcely legal corruption while serving corporate interests in Washington -- is also heavily reliant on wealthy donors and foggy abstractions.

But the basic contradiction -- between serving enemies of working people and claiming to be a champion of working people -- is an increasingly difficult circle to square. And a barrier to credibility with many voters.

"The mainstream Democratic storyline of victims without victimizers lacks both plausibility and passion," said the report Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis, released in October 2017. "The idea that the Democrats can somehow convince Wall Street to work on behalf of Main Street through mild chiding, rather than acting as Main Street's champion against the wealthy, no longer resonates."

That report (written by a task force I was part of) anticipated that a continuing upsurge in populism "will be filled by some political force or other -- either the cruel and demagogic forces of the far right and its billionaire backers, or a racially diverse and morally robust progressive vision that offers people a clear alternative to the ideological rot of Trumpism."

Most of the Democrats running for president don't want to acknowledge the actual power wielded by economic elites. Biden is the most experienced at blowing smoke to obscure those elite forces, as if no fundamental conflicts of interest exist between billionaires and the huge numbers of people badly harmed by extreme income inequality.

That was a subtext when Biden declared in May 2018: "I love Bernie, but I'm not Bernie Sanders. I don't think 500 billionaires are the reason why we're in trouble. . . The folks at the top aren't bad guys." (At last count, 44 billionaires and their spouses have donated to Biden's campaign.)

Abstractions and evasions of the sort practiced daily by Buttigieg and Biden amount to papering over class conflicts. In sharp contrast, Elizabeth Warren and even more so Bernie Sanders (whom I actively support) are willing to name the names of corporations and billionaires growing even wealthier in ways that undermine the lives of most Americans.

It's understandable that corporate-backed candidates don't want to be cornered by questions that touch on realities of political and economic power. They'd much rather take evasive action than be candid. It's not enticing to name victimizers when they're funding your campaign.

(c) 2020 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."

Letter To Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell And Speaker Of The House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi
By Ralph Nader

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi I, together with Constitutional Law scholars Louis Fisher and Bruce Fein, proposed that the Senate allow Chief Justice John Roberts to prescribe impeachment trial procedures-subject to veto by a Senate majority. In doing so, the Senate would avoid some degree of political infighting and blatant partisan bias. While this approach is not perfect, it would create a more impartial and legitimate impeachment process.

Date: December 27, 2019

TO: Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader United States Senate
317 Russell Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

TO: Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Speaker of the House of Representatives
United State Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

FROM: Ralph Nader, Louis Fisher, Bruce Fein

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Madame Speaker Pelosi:

We, the undersigned, encourage a bipartisan resolution of the current impasse over procedures for the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. The trial is too important to the Republic to be left to partisan political ambitions.

We propose that the Senate endow the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, who will preside, with authority to prescribe trial procedures, subject to veto by a Senate majority.

Among other things, the procedures would govern the admissibility of evidence, claims of privilege, subpoenas to compel testimony, the burden of proof, direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and, jury instructions as to the elements of an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.

We are convinced that only the Chief Justice can rescue the impeachment trial from the taint of partisanship that would destroy the legitimacy of the outcome. Justice requires the appearance of justice. But both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress have openly proclaimed biases in favor or against President Trump. And citizens generally do not trust Members to be fair. Public confidence in Congress hovers around 10 percent, as opposed to 42 percent for the United States Supreme Court. Many Members of Congress place party loyalty above loyalty to the Constitution and their oaths of office. They crave power, not justice.

Article I, section 3 of the Constitution provides that when sitting as jurors in impeachment trial Senators "shall be on oath or affirmation." And according to the standing rules of Senate impeachment trials, Senators must swear as follows: "I solemnly swear that in all things pertaining to the trial of the impeachment of ( Donald J. Trump], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God."

But both Republican and Democratic Senators have made statements inconsistent with impartial justice. In an ordinary courtroom, these Senator-jurors would be disqualified for cause.

Moreover, most if not all Senator-jurors confront conflicts of political interest that would ordinarily justify disqualification. Republicans incline towards acquittal of Mr. Trump to retain control of the White House in 2020, whereas Democrats incline towards conviction to boost their 2020 presidential prospects.

Impeachment procedures ordained by the Republican majority in the Senate or pressured by the Democratic majority in the House will be perceived by an alarming portion of citizens as illegitimate, i.e., calculated to make justice subservient to party ambitions. In contrast, Chief Justice Roberts has earned respect with judicial temperament and robust defense of the impartiality of federal judiciary: "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges or Bush judges or Clinton judges."

The Chief Justice, of course, has critics. Many Republicans assail his decisions sustaining President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Many Democrats assail his opinion upholding President Trump's travel ban and invalidating the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. A plurality of voters, however, belong to neither party. Chief Justice Roberts, in contrast to the Senate Republican majority or House Democratic majority, is the optimal choice to establish independent and credible procedures for the impeachment trial of President Trump to strengthen public confidence in the outcome.

In the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton, the Senate unanimously determined trial procedures. Such unanimity cannot be expected today with the appalling spike in partisanship. It seems politically plausible with your support, however, that Senate Republicans and Democrats might agree to hand off responsibility for procedures governing Mr. Trump's impeachment trial to Chief Justice Roberts.

The delegation to the Chief Justice passes constitutional muster. His procedures could be vetoed by a simple Senate majority. Ultimate authority is thus retained by the upper chamber. And the Constitution itself makes the Chief Justice the presiding officer, which contemplates power to prescribe procedures. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for instance, are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court under the Rules Enabling Act subject to overruling by Congress.

Making the Chief Justice the impresario of the impeachment trial is innovative and imperfect, but markedly less imperfect than every other imaginable option.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist in drafting the proposed rulemaking delegation.

Ralph Nader, Louis Fisher, Bruce Fein

Please call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to support this modest, but important proposal.

Louis Fisher is a Constitutional Law Scholar who worked for four decades at the Library of Congress as Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers (Congressional Research Service, from 1970 to 2006) and Specialist in Constitutional Law (the Law Library, from 2006 to 2010).

Bruce Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan. He served on the American Bar Association's Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements from 2005-2006 and has advised numerous countries on constitutional reform.

(c) 2020 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Trump Is A Criminal, But The Democrats Belong To The Same Mafia
By Glen Ford

The Republicans and Democrats are united under the American imperial banner, and only differ on details of strategy to maintain Washington's global domination.

The grievously wronged Iranians have apparently fired a purposely harmless salvo of missiles into several U.S.-occupied bases in Iraq to avenge last Friday's U.S. drone assassination of Revolutionary Guards commander Qassi Suleimani. Although the Fars news agency claimed, for Iranian popular consumption, that "at least 80 US armed personnel have been killed and around 200 others wounded," American and other NATO forces in Iraq report no casualties, giving Trump an opportunity to claim victory and back off from further aggressions. Trump followed the Iranian lead, holding a press conference to dance away from continued armed hostilities, on Wednesday.

Since there is no "peace party" with any influence on governance in the United States, a U.S. retreat from Armageddon is the most that the world can hope for, in the near term. Trump's mafia-style hit on the revered Iranian general - yet another Nuremburg-level U.S. crime against peace and humanity, for which death by hanging is the historical punishment - seemed designed to set the stage for a reprise of George Bush's 2003 "Shock and Awe" demonstration of U.S. imperial firepower, this time with an orange tinge.

Iranian national pride required a pantomimed military response, but the U.S. has provoked a far worse punishment by the Iraqis, on whose territory Suleimani was ambushed. The Iraqi parliament swiftly voted 170-0 to kick the 5,000 US troops out of their country, an exodus that would render Washington's foothold in neighboring Syria untenable, thus sealing the fate of the remaining U.S.-backed al-Qaida "rebels" holed up in Idlib province and hastening the demise of ISIS forces currently shielded from Russian air attack by U.S. firepower. Donald Trump, who (correctly, but incoherently) charged Barack Obama with "founding" ISIS, may well have fast-forwarded the definitive end of the U.S.-Islamic jihadist presence in Syria and Iraq.

Not that this was Trump's intention. The Republicans and Democrats are united under the American imperial banner, and only differ on details of strategy to maintain Washington's global domination. As BAR contributing editor Danny Haiphong writes, "There may be two political parties in the United States, but there is only one ruling class agenda."

Yet there is a profound split in the U.S. ruling class - not about the necessity to preserve the empire, on which there is no debate among the rulers, but over how Washington should manage relations with its junior imperial partners in Europe and elsewhere, and over the modalities of One Percent governance within the United States. On foreign policy, the Democrats have since 2016 positioned themselves as the more aggressive War Party, constantly goading Trump to attack Russia and its Syrian ally and to "stand up" to North Korea, to prove he is not a "dupe" of Vladimir Putin. As the party of Barack Obama, the previous Super-Sanctioner of rebellious nations, the Democrats are vicious in maligning Venezuela. And as the party of Hillary Clinton ("We came, We saw, He died - Ha Ha Ha."), the Democrats have killed hundreds of thousands in U.S.-directed and financed jihadist wars in Libya and Syria. They are the puppeteers and paymasters of terror on a scale that Donald Trump has yet to match, an orgy of sectarian beheadings, torture, rape and mass murder that Trump's assassination of General Suleimani may inadvertently bring to a close, with U.S. ouster from the region.

At home, the Democrats have spent the last three years constructing a New Cold War censorship of the Left, starting with Black Agenda Report and other radical web sites targeted only weeks after the 2016 election. As Black Alliance for Peace national organizer (and BAR editor) Ajamu Baraka writes, the Democratic "opposition," including the Democrat-leaning corporate media, is not anti-war - it's anti-Trump. The Democrats, like their corporate and banking masters, are determined to preserve the neoliberal economic order - the global Race to the Bottom in which U.S. workers compete with super-exploited workers in the developing world. The only difference is that the Democrats would "integrate" the management of this dwindling wage economy through a policy of racial and ethnic "diversity." Same downward destination, but with multi-colored overseers. Same police occupation of Black communities, and same racialized gaps in earnings and wealth for the masses of Blacks and browns - but rewards aplenty for the misleadership classes of the oppressed, whose job is to keep the social peace while oligarchs swallow society whole, as senior columnist Margaret Kimberley explains in this issue of BAR. Most of the Congressional Black Caucus joined other Democrats in awarding Trump yet another record-breaking military budget. Seventy-five percent of the Black Caucus voted to make police a protected class and assault on cops a federal crime, in 2018. Eighty-percent of the Black Caucus voted to keep the Pentagon's 1033 program funneling military weapons and gear to local police departments, five years ago - and the Caucus has become even more reactionary and treacherous, since then.

Although many of the issues have changed since Malcolm X's day, Blacks remain locked into much the same power relationships as half a century ago. Malcolm's "foxes" and "wolves" are still on the prowl:

"The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the 'smiling' fox. One is a wolf, the other is a fox. No matter what, they'll both eat you." -- Malcolm X, 1963
There is one big difference in the political landscape, 57 years after Malcolm spoke those words. The "Black Misleadership Class" - a term coined at BAR and its predecessor, The Black Commentator - now plays a pivotal role in the electoral workings of the Democratic half of the corporate duopoly system of governance. As I explained, two years ago, the Black misleaders are:

"...those Black political forces that emerged at the end of the Sixties, eager to join the corporate and duopoly political (mostly Democrat) ranks, and to sell out the interests of the overwhelmingly working class Black masses in the process. It is both an actual and aspirational class, which ultimately sees its interests as tied to those of U.S. imperialism and its ruling circles. It seeks representation in the halls of corporate power, and dreads social transformation, which would upset the class's carefully cultivated relationships with Power."
Blacks are still at the bottom, and racing deeper into the abyss. But an opportunistic sliver of the Black population has aligned with banksters and oligarchs in Democratic boardrooms. They join with corporate Democrats in screaming that Trump is the existential threat - not U.S. imperial wars, in which most Democrats are complicit; not the Race to the Bottom, which is as much a Democrat as Republican crime; not the Mass Black Incarceration State, which is mainly enforced by urban Democratic regimes of all colors; and not capitalism, a system that was born, like the white settler United States, itself, in Native genocide and Black chattel slavery.

The Black Misleadership Class has no solidarity with anyone. They are hustlers, who have hijacked the aspirations of a proud, brave and independent-minded people - a people that have historically sought social justice and peace for not only themselves, but all mankind. That people needs a new party, with themselves in the leadership, a party that will Fight the Power. There is a world of allies out there, sharing the same aspirations. But none can be free of the scourge of war - the ultimate crime against humanity, from which all others flow - while the warmakers are in power in the Citadel of Capital.

The key to unlock all of our chains is right here, in the belly of the beast.

Power to the People!

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Is Healthcare More Important Than Healthcare Profits?
By Jim Hightower

Last year, Donald Trump said something stupid.

Okay, nothing astonishing about that - but this stupid thing did astonish an entire nation, specifically Britain. Apparently, Trump had seen a Fox News report showing people over there protesting about their government-supported National Health Service. See, Trump tweeted excitedly, even the Brits are fed up with the idea of healthcare for all, rejecting a socialized system that, he sneered, "is going broke and not working."

But - oops - the protestors were actually demonstrating in favor of their health service, demanding that the Tory government put "more staff, more beds, more funds" into the public program. Contrary to Trump's ignorance and class hatred of social programs, the British people love their tax-paid system, specifically because it does work. Everyone there is covered, getting quality care regardless of their income levels. And they don't have to fear that they'll be denied service or bankrupted by a ripoff medical system run by and for private insurance giants, hospital monopolies, Big Pharma, and other profiteers.

To see a system that's really "going broke and not working," the president could look at the 44 million Americans (including four million children) who have no health coverage, or at millions of others who're being gouged by ruthless drug makers, denied treatment by insurance bureaucrats, and drowned in debt by surprise medical bills.

The problem with America's healthcare system is - Hello - The System! During the past 30-40 years, its structure has been wholly corporatized perverting healthcare from a human right to just another commodity for sale. It's fundamental flaw is that the corporate purpose is not to maximize health for the many, but to maximize profits for the few.

(c) 2020 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

Donald Trump speaks at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm
Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, on December 21, 2019

Trump Celebrates New Decade By Trying To Start World War III
By William Rivers Pitt

I have maintained a straightforward core operating principle for the last 20 years: If John Bolton is happy, we are all in deep trouble. The assassination on Sunday of Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani on the orders of Donald Trump has made Bolton - a bloodthirsty neocon war-hawk whose lust for war in Iran is bottomless - a very happy man.

"Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani," Bolton tweeted first thing Monday morning. "Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran's malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran."

That core operating principle of mine is now three days into its third decade. We are all in deep trouble.

Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani has been a hero in Iran since he organized his own hometown company of soldiers to fight in the Iran-Iraq War that raged from 1980 to 1988. He was made a division commander before he was 30, moving through the ranks until he became one of the most powerful men in the country. Suleimani commanded the Quds Force of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps, a highly-trained cadre who specialize in covert actions and intelligence-gathering outside Iran.

Reports have described Suleimani as the George S. Patton of Iran, a warrior celebrity who was pushed on several occasions to run for president of that nation. From a purely military perspective, Suleimani was Iran's indispensable man, responsible for bolstering Hezbollah in Lebanon, throwing back ISIS forces in Syria, and training Shi'ite militias in Iraq. U.S. military commanders came to know him as a fearsome, highly intelligent enemy during the Iraq War.

Because of all this, Suleimani also made a number of lethal enemies in the region and around the world, which begs the question: If he was so bad, why didn't someone kill him before now? The answer, I fear, is that his enemies judged his absence to be more perilous than his presence - Suleimani was a subtle operator not given to rash decisions - and because killing him could provoke a reaction from Iran that would plunge the region into all-out war.

I guess we're all going to find out for ourselves, because Iran's Shi'ite majority has taken to the streets in sorrowful wrath, and the government of Iran is promising swift vengeance. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has instructed all U.S. citizens in Iraq to flee "immediately." Major U.S. cities have heightened security.

Trying to ascertain Trump's motivations for this attack is like trying to peer into the bottom of a bowl of mud ... or blood. The recent assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad by Iran-backed protesters may have spooked him into this rash action; the image of Jimmy Carter wrestling with a hostage crisis during an election year probably loomed large in his - or somebody's - mind.

This attack also serves as a nifty distraction from his looming impeachment trial in the Senate. I am waiting for the moment when Sen. Floopdoodle from Red State America storms the chamber and demands all impeachment proceedings be suspended so the commander-in-chief can focus on our glorious new war in Iran. Frankly, I'm astonished this hasn't happened yet.

Thanks to Donald Trump, this assassination has placed the United States into a de facto state of war with Iran. Airports, sporting events, large public gathering places of any kind in every city in the country, and even the benign skies above Nebraska became fearful places after Sunday night. Well ... more fearful, anyway; the ever-present threat of an angry white man running amok with an AR-15 has already made most ground-bound spaces frightening enough as it is. Now we have this.

If this is the world you want, you've got it with spangles and bunting. If fear, assassinations of major world figures without congressional approval and wars compounded by wars are not what you were hoping for in the new year, now is the time to act. John Bolton got what he has always wanted on Sunday night. When will it be your turn? Let's find out together.

(c) 2020 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard
Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation"
for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the
architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

Pocan Seeks To Avert Another 'Endless War'
By John Nichols

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan cast some lonely votes in 2019 against the National Defense Authorization Act, because the Town of Vermont Democrat could not accept massive increases in Pentagon spending and because he worried that Congress was not taking the proper steps to check and balance President Donald Trump's reckless approach to foreign affairs.

The final version of the NDAA was approved last month, without sufficient checks and balances on the president and without Pocan's support. Now, Trump has ordered an airstrike that has killed a top Iranian military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, and other key Iranian and Iraqi figures.

That move has heightened tensions across the Middle East and provoked talk of war. French deputy minister for foreign affairs Amelie de Montchalin echoed global concerns Friday morning when she said, "We are waking up in a more dangerous world. Military escalation is always dangerous. When such actions, such operations, take place, we see that escalation is underway."

At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, complained that Trump ordered another military action "without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran" and "without the consultation of the Congress."

This is the circumstance Pocan feared when he emerged as a leading critic of the NDAA - voting with just seven other Democrats against the House version of the measure in July and then voting with 41 Democrats, six Republicans and one former Republican-turned-independent (Michigan Rep. Justin Amash) to disapprove the final version in December.

"One of the biggest problems with the NDAA was the spending increases, which fund these endless wars. But we also wanted to make sure that the United States didn't get involved in new conflicts in the Middle East without congressional authorization," Pocan explained Friday morning. "We had particular concerns that wrong actions could happen without consultation. What we've just seen reaffirmed the fears that we had."

Now, says the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congress must deal with the fact that Trump's "unilateral decision to escalate tensions in the region" has the potential to "destabilize the region and further endanger the lives of innocent Americans, Iranians and Iraqis."

In a sobering assessment of the crisis that Trump has created, Pocan explained, "The president has repeatedly shirked diplomatic priorities in pursuit of military action across the Middle East, and he is on the brink of starting a wholly avoidable and unnecessary war with Iran."

In order to avert a new war "and the potential senseless loss of millions of lives," Pocan says Congress must engage in aggressive oversight and open a serious discussion about diplomatic alternatives to military escalation.

"We have to make sure that this doesn't turn into another endless war," he argued. "You have to expect that this (airstrike) is going to escalate tensions. Congress needs to hear why the president thinks this was a necessary step and what we are going to do next in regard to whether this escalates to another war-like situation. We have to be concerned about the prospect that the president hasn't thought through his actions."

(c) 2020 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.

Why It's Illegal To Feed The Homeless
By James Donahue

Some years ago my wife and I had a hobby of vending collectable dishes and miscellaneous items at a Saturday morning flea market in downtown Port Huron, Michigan.

As anybody who has sold at flea markets will tell you, the experience can provide a fun-filled day with family and friends. Nobody makes much money but we all have fun socializing with the other venders, sometimes buying and trading our wares, and dealing with customers who want to barter over the price.

Most flea markets feature the sale of coffee, doughnuts and other food products that the venders rely on for meals and snacks throughout the day. This little market in Port Huron had one vender who came each noon with delicious meals that we all enjoyed so much we didn't bother bringing a lunch.

Then one day the meals stopped coming. We learned that the city health department shut them down because they were in violation of city health codes. While the food was prepared in a home kitchen, that kitchen did not meet city and state regulations that called for stainless steel sinks, cookware and stoves plus a license for operating that involved regular inspections by state officials.

Laws like that were on the books for good reason. Even some well-run restaurants sometimes get into trouble when toxins accidentally get into the food served. Michigan was well known as a state that made sure people who served food to the public were working in a clean environment and we could enjoy a fine restaurant meal without worrying about getting poisoned by salmonella, listeria, E coli, campylobacter or some other food borne bacteria. If you have ever had "food poisoning" you know the symptoms can be severe enough to sometimes put victims in the hospital.

While it makes sense to have tough food laws on the books, the fact that they are being strictly enforced is making it very hard for people of good will to reach out with food for the many cold and hungry homeless people now living on the streets and in tent communities in most of the nation's cities.

Arnold Abbott, the elderly Fort Lauderdale, Florida man who kept getting arrested because he refused to stop feeding the homeless in his community is a case in point. The case made national headlines and forced a change in local food laws. Abbott meant well, and perhaps it would have been best if his good efforts were ignored by city authorities from the start. But technically he was in violation of the law.

The best way to help these people is to provide public food banks and shelters that give comfort. Many church groups like the Salvation Army are already doing this. But with so many people out on the streets now, the demand is great. It is time during this new year to think about ways of resolving this terrible crisis . . . not just at Christmas but all year long.

(c) 2020 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.

Charlottesville City Council Passes Resolution Against War On Iran
By David Swanson

Charlottesville Virginia's City Council voted Monday evening to adopt a resolution opposing war on Iran and urging passage by Congress of Senator Tim Kaine's privileged resolution.

The City Council re-affirmed the position it had taken in 2012 in passing a resolution against war on Iran.

The latest threat of war on Iran is particularly Trumpian, but it has also been in the works for decades. Many in the U.S. government have wanted to attack Iran since 1979, and the Shah's son has been waiting that long for the United States to put him in power.

Iran was on the Pentagon's target list in 2001. There was a huge push for war on Iran in 2007 that was stopped in large part by public pressure. There was another huge push in 2015, blocked by the nuclear agreement that is usually misunderstood as having restrained Iran rather than the United States.

Now Congress has refused to impeach for wars and threats of nuclear war, has stripped out of the National Defense Authorization Act the ban on war on Iran that was contained in the House version, has given Trump more military funding even than he asked for - and numerous Congress Members of both parties accused Trump of weakness toward Iran last week.

Trump's latest act of war is murderous, reckless - possibly puting the race to war beyond Washington's control - and predictable. It is also criminal, violating Iraqi laws against murder and war, violating the United Nations Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the U.S. Constitution.

The normalization of murder bestowed on us by the Obama years will not end well and must urgently be reversed. Congress must not only specifically and redundantly ban this particular war, but it must also impeach for this and similar more significant offenses than Russiagate and Ukraine.

It must also end the sanctions and hostility toward Iran, withdraw troops from and make reparations to the region for the past 17 years of destruction, end weapons sales to the Middle East, and commit to abiding by the rule of law. Without this sort of reversal, we risk a catastrophe that will make the endless wars that have led up to it look insignificant.

(c) 2020 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.

President Donald Trump delivers remarks during the 'Evangelicals for Trump' Coalition event in Miami, Florida on January 3, 2019.

Drum Major Trump Marches Us Into The Folly Of War
Pay no attention to that fool on the bandstand.
By Michael Winship

I know nothing of war. Unfortunately, neither does Donald Trump and he's the crazy man in charge.

The fact that Iran's Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was a menace to Middle East stability and America's presence there is without doubt. But to assassinate him in this manner - with neither authorization, real consultation nor serious consideration of the consequences - is madness, the unthinking reflex of an adolescent who fears being perceived as weak.

Lindsey Graham, who increasingly seems to see himself as Talleyrand to Trump's Napoleon, claims that the president told him about the planned attack on Monday, December 30. If true - always debatable when it comes to either man - Trump had several days in which to think this attack through and to talk not only with his generals, but also with our allies, diplomats and congressional leadership.

(In fact, the New York Times reports that on December 28, Trump rejected the idea of killing Soleimani but in the wake of the assault by pro-Iranian demonstrators on the American embassy in Baghdad, changed his mind. "By late Thursday," according to the Times, "the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned... flabbergasted... immediately alarmed about the prospect of Iranian retaliatory strikes on American troops in the region.")

So far, there's not a lot of evidence that he talked about his decision much beyond getting the bobble-headed yesses of Graham, Vice President Pence Secretary of State Pompeo, various sycophantic underlings, guests at Mar-a-Lago (!) and whoever at the Pentagon and in the national security establishment followed his order. Congressional leadership was not informed until after the fact nor were other nations, including Iraq where the drone attack took place. Any by the way, did any of those rich pals at Trump's Florida resort take advantage of their advance insider knowledge and accordingly pump up their portfolios?

As Connecticut US Senator Chris Murphy and others have said, Soleimani's death was a tactic without a strategy, and as such likely aimed more at the domestic front than Iran. Trump, the man who repeatedly tweeted in 2011 and 2012 that Obama was planning to attack Iran to boost his re-election chances, is now doing that exact same thing with the added incentive of distracting attention from his impeachment.

The death doubtless gives Trump some traction with his base and even some of those hawks who have criticized him for inaction. Yet as many noted in the last couple of days, not only has he further violated his campaign pledge of no more Mideast entanglements, he has opened a Pandora's Box filled with potential trouble far beyond his meager imagination. I may not know a lot about war but I worked on the 24/7 news coverage of all 477 days of the Iranian hostage crisis when students took over the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans. I witnessed an endless series of unforeseen consequences, blowback that continues to this day.

"We took action last night to stop a war," Trump said Friday afternoon. "We did not take action to start a war." By now we all know that the opposite of anything Trump says is the actual truth, so yeah, we're pretty much in a war now. Global markets and oil prices went nuts, American civilians have been told to leave Iraq and already, 3500 additional American troops are being sent to the region - same number as the first US combat forces to arrive in Vietnam in 1965. A coincidence, yes, but watch this space...

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, "Gen. Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," and General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, insisted there was "clear and unambiguous" intelligence about a "campaign of violence" being planned by Soleimani that justified killing him.

Nevertheless, as Martin Longman notes at, "If anything, Soleimani's Quds Force is more dangerous without his savvy and often restrained leadership. They are just as lethal as they were with Soleimani alive, but more likely to be used in reckless ways that will escalate things to an inevitable final showdown between America and the Iranian regime."

Indications are that our special forces and others have long contemplated the elimination of Soleimani but despite an ongoing series of provocations chose to keep their powder dry for fear of the consequences. No more. Under the ready-fire-aim philosophy of the Trump White House, "Shoot first and ask questions later" may replace "E pluribus Unum" as the motto on our coinage.

And speaking of which, at a time of staggering deficit, what about the financial cost of all this - one beyond the unspeakable human price of carnage and bloodshed? David Atkins at The Washington Monthly writes:

"The mere prospect of the wealthiest country in the history of the human race squandering its money in this way is a moral outrage dwarfed only by the horrors of war itself. We know that just $300 billion would go a long way toward mitigating the climate crisis. Eliminating all student loan debt would cost around $1.6 trillion (though that overstates the case due to the enormous economic stimulus that doing so would provide). We could end world hunger for just $30 billion a year by some estimates. Universal Pre-K? $140 billion a year-and again, that would have gigantic economic stimulus benefits."
We need a congressional inquiry and fast. Why were the House and Senate not consulted? Was it simply Trump thumbing his nose at Pelosi and Schumer? We know that Trump has lied about Russia interference in our elections, North Korea, China trade and even the path of hurricanes. Why should we trust him and his minions now, why should we believe the scenarios they spin? Have we learned nothing from the decades of our mishaps and murders in the Middle East?

Put nothing past Trump. As he struts like a toy soldier - bragging now that if the Iranians retaliate for Soleimani's death he has 52 more targets in sight, the same as the number of embassy hostages seized by Iran in 1979 - he is capable of cataclysmic folly. Among those sites, he says, are many "important to Iran & the Iranian culture;" if true, yet another gross violation of international law. The hubris of the president and his hangers on, their defiant ignorance and lack of historic knowledge, lead us into war crimes.

Claims to the contrary, they are not friends of democracy in Iraq or Iran - and especially not friends of democracy here at home. Don't be fooled.

(c) 2020 Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on twitter:@MichaelWinship

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Trump's Order To Assassinate Qasem Soleimani Has Kicked Over The Hornet's Nest
We are hearing the echoes of 2002 and 2003 rising again after the president ordered the assassination of Iran's second most powerful man.
By Charles P. Pierce

El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago, like 99.99 percent of his fellow citizens, did not have the faintest idea what the Quds Force was, and he wouldn't have known who the hell Qasem Soleimani was if the man sat in his lap. In the aftermath of his astonishingly reckless decision to take Soleimani out on Thursday, a number of the president*'s previous public statements have been unearthed. Many of them were ancient warnings that Barack Obama intended to start a war with Iran in order to be re-elected in 2012. These are further proof enough of his bone-deep mendacity, but more compelling was a radio interview he did with Hugh Hewitt while running for president himself four years later.

Are you familiar with General Soleimani?

Yes, go ahead, give me a little, go ahead, tell me.

He runs the Quds Forces.

Yes, okay, right. The Kurds, by the way, have been horribly mistreated by...

No, not the Kurds, the Quds Forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces.

Later in the interview, the president* found time to whine. At Hugh Hewitt. For being too tough on him.

You know, those are like history questions. Do you know this one, do you know that one. I will tell you, I thought you used the word Kurd before. I will tell you that I think the Kurds are the most underutilized and are being totally mistreated by us. And nobody understands why.
So here, as 2020 begins, the president* launches a unilateral military action to kill the second-most important figure in the Iranian government, the man who commanded the forces that the president* previously confused with our allies, the Kurds, whom he previously sold out on the battlefield. So no, I have absolutely no confidence that the American government as it is currently run has the vaguest idea what to do next.

Surely this guy did his due diligence.

I confess that all I know about Soleimani I learned from this long 2013 profile by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker. As nearly as I can tell from Friday morning's reactions, that's the source material for a great deal of them. Soleimani is reckoned to have been a combination of Machiavelli, General Giap, Suleiman the Magnificent, and Lex Luthor. Which raises the question, so far unanswered, as to why a man with so many enemies other than the United States, operating with impunity in a volatile part of the world, survived as long as he did. The only logical answer is that these people carefully took the risk-reward calculations to heart and decided that killing Soleimani wasn't worth what would ensue in the aftermath. If these calculations were made by the current U.S. administration*, they are not yet obvious.

Instead, the president* tweeted out the image of an American flag. An official Pentagon briefing pointedly said that the action had been taken at the order of the president*. The State Department warned Americans to get the hell out of Iraq, but not to come to the massive American embassy. Americans are urged to leave by airplane if possible but, if necessary, to escape by land, although where the hell they're supposed to go-Syria?-was left unexplained. But the Americans should get out of Iraq, a place that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Friday morning is safer now that Soleimani is dead.

(Pompeo also told CNN that the strike was undertaken to preempt an "imminent threat" to U.S. assets, a threat that Pompeo declined to identify, and, yes, we've all seen this movie before.)

If these calculations were made by the current U.S. administration*, they are not yet obvious.

So no, I have no confidence that anyone there can play this game. The president* is an ignoramus with little or no credibility on any issue, let alone war and peace. His Secretary of State doesn't seem to have any plan beyond sycophancy. We are hearing the echoes of 2002 and 2003 rising again, except this time on the part of an inferior breed of con artist.

(I suspect that the action taken by the administration* may well finally be the thing that splits the more militaristic of the Never Trumpers from their newfound Democratic allies.)

The stated policy of this administration* is the utter disruption of the Iranian government as a prelude to regime change. We tried this in the 1950s and Iran got 20 years of a police state. Does anyone seriously believe that an Iranian regime that rises from American policy will have the faintest credibility with most Iranians? We tried that in Iraq, which is why Qasem Soleiman found such a target-rich environment there. And any split in the current Iranian regime over the now-abandoned nuclear deal likely has been smoothed over. And god only knows what will happen in Iraq as a result of this. This policy is kick-over-the-hornet's-nest at its worst. Maybe it's all just to keep John Bolton from testifying to the Senate. That's as good an explanation as any.

(c) 2020 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-

"When Secretary of State Pompeo's out there saying 'maximum pressure' [and] 'our goal is to get them back to the negotiating table,' no naive child would believe that. You'd have to be brain-dead to believe that we tear up the agreement, we put an embargo on you and we kill your major general, and they're just going to crawl back to the table and say, 'What do you want, America?'"
~~~ Rand Paul

Abdulmahdi's account makes nonsense of everything Trump and Pompeo
and Esper are saying about the circumstances of the murder of Soleimani.

Iraqi Parliament Resolves To Kick Out US Troops, And Trump Threatens Mother Of All Sanctions
The US invaded Iraq illegally in 2003 and essentially stole its oil income for years to pay for its military occupation of the country.
By Juan Cole

By a simple majority, the Iraqi parliament in an extraordinary session on Sunday passed a resolution requiring the executive to take steps to preserve Iraqi sovereignty by expelling US troops from the country. The Sunni and Kurdish parties made themselves scarce, and there was only just barely a quorum. All the major Shiite parties voted for the resolution. Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq's population and they now dominate the upper echelons of the government and military.

Some members of parliament chanted "Death to America" during the session, an unprecedented event. That chant is associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iraq's parliament is relatively weak, and implementation of the resolution is up to the prime minister and his cabinet. The signs are however, that Abdulmahdi and his successor (a new prime minister is in the course of being installed) will in fact press for the US military to leave the country.

Axios reports that US State Department initially attempted to stop the parliamentary vote from taking place (presumably by pressuring its Iraqi political allies). That press failed miserably, given the angry mood of the country after the US attack on an Iraqi military officer. After the resolution passed, State pleaded with the Iraqi parliament to rethink its decision, but somehow I don't think that is going to happen.

Trump went ballistic on hearing the news and threatened to impose "sanctions like you've never seen" on Iraq if it does kick out US troops. He also demanded repayment for the costs of constructing the al-Balad Air Force Base. The US invaded Iraq illegally in 2003 and essentially stole its oil income for years to pay for its military occupation of the country.

It is highly unlikely that the world would cooperate with Trump sanctions on Iraq over this issue, and unlikely that the 4.6 million barrels a day produced by Iraq could or would be made up, so that any Trump sanctions would send petroleum prices skyrocketing. This development would be good for the health of the planet, since people would likely buy electric cars in that case.

Some Iraqi militia leaders suggested that US military training could be replaced with Russian or Chinese such help.

The Abdulmahdi government submitted a formal complaint to the UN Security Council over the US action. While the US will deploy its veto in the face of any condemnation, it will be an embarrassment to be condemned by the other members, if they take that step.

The US and other coalition forces in Iraq have announced the end of their training activities and of any active fighting of ISIL (ISIS), in favor of just protecting themselves. That is, the 5,200 US troops in Iraq are now not so much troops as hostages.

Caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdulmahdi addressed the Parliament before the vote. He lashed the Trump administration for its assassination by hellfire missile last Friday morning of Iranian Qods Brigade commander Qasem Soleimani, along with the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (who reported to Abdulmahdi and was a part of the Iraqi armed forces), and several others.

As Abdulmahdi told the story, Saudi Arabia had contacted him, seeking his mediation to cool down Riyadh's conflict with Iran. Abdulmahdi said he sent the Saudi message to Tehran, and then invited Soleimani to come give the reply. (Soleimani came openly to Iraq on a commercial airliner and went through passport control with his diplomatic passport. There was nothing covert about the visit). Soleimani was on his way to consultations with his host, Abdulmahdi, when Trump rubbed him out.

Abdulmahdi's account makes nonsense of everything Trump and Pompeo and Esper are saying about the circumstances of the murder of Soleimani. He wasn't coming to kill Americans. That entire meme never made any sense. There were hardly any Americans in Iraq save for the 5,200 military personnel, and it is not clear how Soleimani could have killed any of them without starting a war.

Abdulmahdi said that the United States had been authorized by Parliament to send its troops to Iraq for only two purposes, to help in the fight against the terrorist organization ISIL (ISIS), and to help train the Iraqi military. No other activity on Iraqi soil, he said, was authorized, and the United States had violated the terms of this authorization with the assassination.

Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on parliament to rescind its authorization for the presence of US troops and to close the US embassy. Al-Sadr's Sairun Party has 54 seats in parliament. He said merely passing a resolution in parliament is far too weak a response to what Washington had done, and urged the formation of an international militia to defend Iraqi sovereignty.

(c) 2020 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-

Here's a photo of Paul that you can photoshop too!

Heil Trump,

Dear Arizona Unterfuhrer Gosar,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your photoshopping of Obama with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, 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 01-25-2020. We salute you Herr Gosar, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Sham Of Corporate Social Responsibility
From Boeing to Whole Foods, companies are touting social responsibility as profits soar. Don't believe a word of it.
By Robert Reich

Boeing recently fired CEO Dennis Muilenburg in order "to restore confidence in the Company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders."

Restore confidence? Muilenburg's successor will be David Calhoun who, as a long-standing member of Boeing's board of directors, allowed Muilenburg to remain CEO for more than a year after the first 737 Max crash and after internal studies found that the jetliner posed an unacceptable risk of accident. It caused the deaths of 346 people.

Muilenburg raked in $30 million in 2018. He could walk away from Boeing with another $60 million.

Last August, the Business Roundtable - an association of CEOs of America's biggest corporations, of which Muilenburg is a director - announced with great fanfare a "fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders" (emphasis in the original) and not just their shareholders.

Rubbish. Corporate social responsibility is a sham.

Another Business Roundtable director is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Just weeks after making the Roundtable commitment, and despite GM's hefty profits and large tax breaks, Barra rejected workers' demands that GM raise their wages and stop outsourcing their jobs. Earlier in the year GM shut its giant assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Some 50,000 GM workers then staged the longest auto strike in 50 years. They won a few wage gains but didn't save any jobs. Meanwhile, GM's stock has performed so well that Barra earned $22 million last year.

Another prominent Business Roundtable CEO who made the commitment to all his stakeholders is AT&T's Randall Stephenson, who promised to invest in the company's broadband network and create at least 7,000 new jobs with the billions the company received from the Trump tax cut.

Instead, AT&T has cut more than 30,000 jobs since the tax cut went into effect.

Let's not forget Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and its Whole Foods subsidiary. Just weeks after Bezos made the Business Roundtable commitment to all his stakeholders, Whole Foods announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.

The annual saving to Amazon from this cost-cutting move is roughly what Bezos - whose net worth is $110 billion - makes in two hours. (Bezos's nearly-completed D.C. mansion will have 2 elevators, 25 bathrooms, 11 bedrooms, and a movie theater.)

GE's CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. Culp raked in $15 million last year.

The list goes on. Just in time for the holidays, US Steel announced 1,545 layoffs at two plants in Michigan. Last year, five US Steel executives received an average compensation package of $4.8 million, a 53 percent increase over 2017.

Instead of a holiday bonus this year, Walmart offered its employees a 15 percent store discount. Oh, and did I say? Walmart saved $2.2 billion this year from the Trump tax cut.

The giant tax cut itself was a product of the Business Roundtable's extensive lobbying, lubricated by its generous campaign donations. Several of its member corporations, including Amazon and General Motors, wound up paying no federal income taxes at all last year.

Not incidentally, the tax cut will result in less federal money for services on which Americans and their communities rely.

The truth is, American corporations are sacrificing workers and communities as never before, in order to further boost record profits and unprecedented CEO pay.

Americans know this. In the most recent Pew survey, a record 73 percent of U.S. adults (including 62 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Republicans earning less than $30,000 a year) believe major corporations have too much power. And 65 percent believe they make too much profit.

The only way to make corporations socially responsible is through laws requiring them to be - for example, giving workers a bigger voice in corporate decision making, making corporations pay severance to communities they abandon, raising corporate taxes, busting up monopolies, and preventing dangerous products (including faulty airplanes) from ever reaching the light of day.

If the Business Roundtable and other corporations were truly socially responsible, they'd support such laws. Don't hold your breath.

The only way to get such laws enacted is by reducing corporate power and getting big money out of politics.

The first step is to see corporate social responsibility for the con it is.

(c) 2020 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

Climate Deterioration
Snowdrifts in Charleston, SC
By Jane Stillwater

One huge fatal flaw in the human psyche is that all too many of us seem to be incapable of grasping the Big Picture. In Charleston, South Carolina, however, the Big Picture is currently being shoved down our throats -- like it or not. "We had seven inches of snowfall here the other day," a long-time resident just told me. "Unheard of!" What caused it? Climate deterioration. Weather pollution.

For crying out loud, how much more further proof do we need before we can actually start seeing the Big Picture here? That Santa Claus has just moved his North Pole workshop down to sunny Carolina? That the winter Olympics are now being held right here on Meeting Street?

Over a hundred years ago, Charleston built a gigantic seawall to keep the Atlantic Ocean out of the front yards of its charming antebellum mansions. Well, in the next 20 years Charleston is going to have to quadruple the height of these "lowcountry" seawalls -- unless it wants to equip its visiting tourists with scuba equipment in order to view Rainbow Row.

Climate deterioration. Weather pollution. Big Picture. Got it yet? Apparently not.

You just gotta love Charleston. It's clearly the most beautiful and charming city in America. And I will miss it when it is gone -- just like I will miss New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Sydney, Miami, Puerto Vallarta, Vancouver, Seattle, Boston and Buenos Aires.

Climate deterioration/weather pollution. This is the most vital Big Picture that our limited human psyches are clearly missing right now (aside from the fact that "war" will kill our environment too).

PS: Who profits most from denying that climate deterioration is even a thing? Surprisingly, it is American weapons manufacturers -- the largest source of weather pollution there is.

For instance, that phony "war" on Syria alone has already subtracted years and years from the life expectancy of the entire human race. Not to mention all the things that go "Boom" in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, etc. Each of these senseless and barbaric attacks on vulnerable countries have been incredible bonanzas for American weapons manufacturers -- but could be extinction events for the rest of us.

(c) 2020 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

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

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Ayatollah Mystified That He Is The Only Dictator Trump Dislikes
By Andy Borowitz

(The Borowitz Report)-Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is "completely baffled" as to why he appears to be the only dictator whom Donald J. Trump does not like, the autocrat said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, the long-reigning tyrant expressed puzzlement and dismay that Trump had not given him the adulation that he has showered on seemingly every other totalitarian in the world.

"Trump loves Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman, and he's even given Kim Jong Un a cute nickname, but, for some mysterious reason, I leave him cold," the visibly saddened Ayatollah said. "I just don't get it."

Khamenei initially tried not to take Trump's distaste for him personally, he said, "but when it became clear that he liked even second-tier strongmen like Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of Turkey, and Rodrigo Duterte, of the Philippines, I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt."

One possible reason Trump might dislike him, the Ayatollah theorized, is that "he just doesn't realize how repressive I am."

"If he did his homework, he'd see that I trample press freedoms, shred basic human rights, and persecute political opponents," he said. "In terms of the things that are important to him, I really check all the boxes."

(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 02 (c) 01/10/2020

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