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In This Edition

Norman Solomon reports, "The Collapse Of Michele Flournoy's Hopes Shows What Can Happen When Progressives Put Up A Fight."

Ralph Nader says, "The Road To A More Just Society Runs Through Congress."

Jesse Jackson returns with, "Biden Should Revive The U.S. Commission On Civil Rights."

Jim Hightower asks, "The US Department Of Agriculture - What Is It And Why Does It Matter?"

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Trump Remains Indignant Because He Cheated So Hard - And Still Lost."

John Nichols reveals, "Mitch McConnell's Ghoulish Plan To Exploit Covid Desperation To Shield Corporate Crime."

James Donahue warns, "Factory Farming Creating Questionable Food."

David Swanson says, "I Agree With The Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff On Foreign Bases."

David Suzuki announces, "Jane Fonda And Guests Ignite A Fire In David Suzuki Podcast, Episode 1."

Charles P. Pierce says, "The Supreme Court Was Handed A Reeking Dead Fish And Refused Delivery."

Juan Cole wonders, "Iran Sends Oil, Gas Flotilla To Venezuela. Will Trump Attack It To Sabotage Biden?"

Supreme Court Justices, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich reports, "Biden Says He'll Take On Inequality. Good! You Need To Hold Him To It."

Chris Hedges returns with, "In The End We Will All Pay For The Cowardice Of The Liberal Class."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Fauci A Little Weirded Out By People Suddenly Listening To Him," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire We Go!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Monte Wolverton, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Paul Morigi, Win McNamee, Brendan Smialowski, Mandel Ngan, Samuel Corum, Graeme Jennings, Phil Clarke, Olivier Douliery, Nachoman-au, Wikipedia, 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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Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire We Go!
I'm having a deja vu again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Raytheon is deeply involved in controversial programs from unworkable missile defense projects to nuclear weapons - the new nuclear-armed cruise missile - to precision-guided bombs that have killed untold numbers of civilians in Saudi Arabia's brutal war in Yemen. If General Austin were to recuse himself from decisions on programs and policies involving Raytheon, he could not carry out large parts of his job as defense secretary." ~~~ William Hartung ~ director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

"It's always something,
there's always something going wrong!
That's the only guarantee,
that's what this is all about!"
Life Is A Lemon ~~~ Meatloaf

It was 20 years ago today! ~~~ The Beatles

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

You may recall that it wasn't that long ago when super hawk Michele Flournoy was well on her way to become Wall Street Joe's nominee for Secretary of Defense. Then the "liberals" went wild and convinced Joe that war lover Michele was all set to lead us into war with Iran to such an extent that even Joe changed his mind.

On Tuesday, Wall Street Joe announced that he will nominate retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin III, who once was the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and who is now a member of the board of directors at Raytheon. You may recall that Raytheon has been in the spotlight during the Lying Donald's administration in part because it supplies air-to-ground munitions for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, and Austin's role with Raytheon could be central to his confirmation. If you thought that Moscow Mitch loved Michele, and he did, and even though Austin is black he adores him and that should tell you everything you need to know about Austin!

I'm having a deja vu because Lying Donalds's Defense Secretary Mark Esper was a former lobbyist for Raytheon, imagine that, one the country's largest defense contractors, and shouldn't Joe find a nominee with no prior employment history with a defense contractor, in fact, the same contractor as Esper's? Well, you would have thought so, wouldn't you?

Methinks Joe is turning out to be Lying Donald light and not all that different. Of course, I'm not surprised, after Joe declared, "I come from a corporate capital of the world, Delaware, and I'm not anticorporate," are you surprised, America?

In Other News

Here's something to look forward to, scientist say that global warming triggered the evolution of giant dinosaurs! An international team of paleontologists, including Ludwig-Maximilians-University or LMU Professor Oliver Rauhut, finds evidence of rapid climate change 180 million years ago as the cause of the spread of the well-known long-necked dinosaurs.

For the first 50 million years or so the dinosaurs were much smaller and mostly plant eaters it was only after global warming began that you see the rise of the the sauropods. Sauropods were truly amazing animals, and included the largest land-living animals known, with body lengths of up to 140 feet and weights of 70 tons or more.

So whats to worry about now as there are no dinosaurs. True, except for the 4 or 5 billion dinosaurs that currently roam the earth, you may know them as birds! Sure Ostriches and Emus given 10 million years or so may become the equivalent of Allosaurus or Tyrannosaurus of course we won't have to worry about that as we'll be dead for 10 million years, also thanks to global warming!

That's the thing about global warming it effects us and the planet in ways that no one has considered! So rapid change in climate about 180 million years ago, from a temperate warm and humid climate, in which a diverse, lush vegetation flourished, to a strongly seasonal, very hot and dry climate, characterized by a less diverse flora, dominated by forms showing adaptations for hot climates, such as certain conifers. Are you having a deja vu yet western US?

Meatloaf could have been singing about global warming when he sang, "It's always something, there's always something going wrong! That's the only guarantee, that's what this is all about!"

And Finally

This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of Issues & Alibis magazine's beginning on 12-12-2000 the day that the Extreme Court staged a judicial coup d'etat and made George W. Bush the loser of the election, the new dictator. Had the votes been allowed to be counted then Al Gore would have been president but the Crime Family Bush pulled their puppet strings and made the justice's dance to their tune and America as we knew it ceased to exist and it been all down hill ever since. That is, with the possible exception of W the Movie that started production in July of 2005 and and was realsed in October of 2008.

I had dropped out of school 30 years before where I was studying Political Science and American History and became a DJ and vowed to keep my nose out of politics and concentrated on making people happy by playing them music unlike teaching poli-sci that makes people sad. I can think of no worse thing to do with my time than to teach poli-sci but after the 12-12-2000 coup I've had my nose buried in it ever since! Issues and Alibis first published on February 1, 2001.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy all voted in favour of the coup and their names will go down in history as traitors to the United States and are responsible for all the crimes of sedition, treason and genocide that the Crime Family Bush committed with the courts blessings. Ergo Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O'Connor and Kennedy win this week's Vidkun Quisling Award for treason and sedition!

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!


06-22-1947 ~ 12-04-2020
Thanks for the laughs!

02-13-1967 ~ 12-07-2020
Thanks for the film!

07-12-1923 ~ 12-07-2020
Thanks for the adventure!

03-108-1971 ~ 12-09-2020
Thanks for the music!


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, 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.

Michele Flournoy, co-founder of the military consultancy firm WestExec, speaks onstage during Fortune's
Most Powerful Women Summit - Day 2 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The Collapse Of Michele Flournoy's Hopes Shows What Can Happen When Progressives Put Up A Fight
Flournoy has a long record of arguing for military intervention and escalation, from Syria and Libya to Afghanistan and beyond. That she didn't get the top job at the Pentagon is a good thing.
By Norman Solomon

Just a few weeks ago, super hawk Michele Flournoy was being touted as a virtual shoo-in to become Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Defense. But some progressives insisted on organizing to raise key questions, such as: Should we accept the revolving door that keeps spinning between the Pentagon and the weapons industry? Does an aggressive U.S. military really enhance "national security" and lead to peace?

By challenging Flournoy while posing those questions-and answering them in the negative-activism succeeded in changing "Defense Secretary Flournoy" from a fait accompli to a lost fantasy of the military-industrial complex.

She is "a favorite among many in the Democratic foreign-policy establishment," Foreign Policy magazine reported on Monday night, hours after news broke that Biden's nomination will go to Gen. Lloyd Austin instead of Flournoy. But "in recent weeks the Biden transition team has faced pushback from the left wing of the party. Progressive groups signaled opposition to Flournoy over her role in U.S. military interventions in Libya and the Middle East in prior government positions, as well as her ties to the defense industry once she left government."

Of course, Gen. Austin is a high-ranking part of the war machine. Yet, as Foreign Policy noted: "When Biden pushed to draw down troops from Iraq while vice president, Flournoy, then Pentagon policy chief, and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen opposed the idea. Austin did not."

Video of war-crazed Sen. John McCain grilling Austin several years ago shows the general willing to stand firm against zeal to escalate killing in Syria, a clear contrast to positions that Flournoy had staked out.

Flournoy has a long record of arguing for military intervention and escalation, from Syria and Libya to Afghanistan and beyond. She has opposed a ban on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. In recent years, her advocacy has included pushing military envelopes in potentially explosive hotspots like the South China Sea. Flournoy is vehemently in favor of long-term U.S. military encroachment on China.

Historian Andrew Bacevich, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and former Army colonel, warns that "Flournoy's proposed military buildup will prove unaffordable, unless, of course, federal deficits in the multitrillion-dollar range become routine. But the real problem lies not with the fact that Flournoy's buildup will cost a lot, but that it is strategically defective." Bacevich adds: "Strip away the references to deterrence and Flournoy is proposing that the United States goad the People's Republic into a protracted high-tech arms race."

With a record like that, you might think that Flournoy would receive very little support from the leaders of organizations like the Ploughshares Fund, the Arms Control Association, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the Council for a Livable World. But, as I wrote more than a week ago, movers and shakers at those well-heeled groups eagerly praised Flournoy to the skies-publicly urging Biden to give her the Defense Secretary job.

Many said they knew Flournoy well and liked her. Some lauded her interest in restarting nuclear-arms negotiations with Russia (a standard foreign-policy position). Many praised her work in high-ranking Pentagon posts under Presidents Clinton and Obama. Privately, some could be heard saying how great it would be to have "access" to the person running the Pentagon.

More traditional allies of militaristic policymakers chimed in, often vilifying the left as it became clear in late November that progressive pushback was slowing Flournoy's momentum for the Defense Department's top job. Notorious war enthusiast Max Boot was a case in point.

Boot was evidently provoked by a Washington Post news story that appeared on Nov. 30 under the headline "Liberal Groups Urge Biden Not to Name Flournoy as Secretary of Defense." The article quoted from a statement issued that day by five progressive organizations -- (where I'm national director), CodePink, Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America, and World Beyond War. We conveyed that a Flournoy nomination would lead to a fierce grassroots battle over Senate confirmation. (The newspaper quoted me saying: " has a 1.2 million active list of supporters in the U.S., and we're geared up for an all-out push for a 'no' vote, if it comes to that.")

Reporting on the joint statement, Common Dreams aptly summarized it in a headline: "Rejecting Michele Flournoy, Progressives Demand Biden Pick Pentagon Chief 'Untethered' From Military-Industrial Complex."

Such talk and such organizing are anathema to the likes of Boot, who fired back with a Post column within hours. While advocating for Flournoy, he invoked an "old Roman adage"-"Si vis pacem, para bellum"-"If you want peace, prepare for war." He neglected to mention that Latin is a dead language and the Roman Empire collapsed.

War preparations that increase the likelihood of war may excite laptop warriors. But the militarism they promote is madness nonetheless.

(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."

Congress has the power to brighten the horizon, says Ralph Nader, but only if people push their representatives to act in the public interest.

The Road To A More Just Society Runs Through Congress
Think about all the dreams for a better world that could come to be realized if our elected officials worked for the big majority of Americans instead of for Big Business interests.
By Ralph Nader

We know their names! We've given immense power to Five Hundred and Thirty-Five People to do good or bad. One Hundred Senators and Four Hundred and Thirty-Five Representatives. Unfortunately, some 1,500 corporations control most Members of Congress. Think about all the dreams for a better world that could come to be realized if our elected officials worked for the big majority of Americans instead of for Big Business interests.

Let's go through a short list of Big Deals:

1. Do you want a living wage for all Americans? The superhighway is through Congress.
2. Do you want universal, more efficient, free-choice health care with an emphasis on the prevention of disease and injury? The superhighway goes through Congress.
3. Do you want a fair tax system that makes the big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share for a change? Take it through Congress.
4. Do you want to stop your tax dollars from being spent on corporate welfare, corporate-powered wasteful budgets in Washington? Congress can do that.
5. Do you want to eliminate corporate defrauding of government programs like Medicare and Medicaid? Take it to Capitol Hill.
6. Do you want your tax dollars to be used to create good-paying, non-exportable jobs, workers to repair and upgrade the public facilities or infrastructure in every one of your communities?
7. Do you want to cut the presently unaudited, bloated military budget, stop the boomeranging Empire overseas, and redirect your tax dollars back home to pay for the necessities of life? That means getting it through Congress.
8. Do you want to end all the financial rip-offs such as overcharges and penalties, sky-high credit cards, and payday loan interest rates?
9. Do you want to end the near-zero interest rates on your savings, where you are lucky to get 1/4 of one percent interest, while the government charges many times that for student loans?
10. Do you want to protect your families and your children's children from climate catastrophes-worsening by the year?
11. Do you want to quickly move away from fossil fuels to self-reliant, local, cleaner, renewable solar, wind, and hydro-powered energy, plus huge energy conservation?
12. Do you want to stop big companies from directly exploiting and tempting your children with junk food and sugary junk drinks that lead to spiraling obesity and related diseases?
13. Do you want Congress to stop the digital age child molesters that undermine parental authority and promote violent and addictive entertainment programs?
14. Do you want Members of Congress to give you what they have given themselves in the way of retirement security that is part of workers' compensation?
15. Do you want a pathway to universal basic income long backed by leading conservative and liberal economists?
16. Do you want a modern, convenient mass-transit system (that will diminish traffic congestion) like what Japan and western Europe have had for years?
17. Do you want across-the-board paid vacations, paid family sick leave, daycare, free or low-cost college tuition? (Many years ago, people like you got these social services through their Parliaments).
18. Do you want to take back your control from corporations of what you already own-the public lands, public airwaves, massive public research, and development? (Remember you already own these great public assets and pay for them in direct and indirect ways).
19. Do you want clean and fair elections and electoral districts, that stop the buying and renting of politicians? (This is the first step in breaking the Big Money chains on Congress by the corporations).
There are so many more congressional actions that could brighten the horizon. Congress could lead the way on affordable, available housing, repealing anti-union laws, pushing the White House to wage peace (diplomacy) rather than repeatedly threaten or use military force, ratifying arms control, advancing consumer, labor, and environmental protection treaties, pushing the Executive Branch to enforce the civil rights laws and to develop stronger corporate crime laws. The list of what should be done is long and overdue.

The road to a more just society runs through Congress with the Members of Congress working for you, the people.

You may say, what about obstructions of Congress by the Executive Branch and the Judiciary? Congress controls the purse, confirms the judges, has the tax-paying and the war-making authorities-as designed by our founding fathers, who never envisioned Congress abdicating those powers.

In my little paperback book, Breaking Through Power: Its Easier Than We Think, I wrote about the past battles for justice writ large that have been waged in Congress. None of these efforts took more than one percent of the people, actively engaged, connected, and knowledgeable, reflecting majority opinion. How did they win? They had a laser focus on Congress and state legislatures-lawmaker by lawmaker.

Why don't tens of millions of Americans, who are hurting, deprived, under-insured, underpaid, disrespected, stressed out and obstructed from a better life, form Congress Watchdog Lobbies? Imagine summoning your Senators and Representatives to your organized town-meetings to receive your majority-supported instructions on how to use the power you've given them.

Americans care for 70 million pet dogs every day. Spend a fraction of that time taking care of your two Senators and Representative. Maybe people can start using their cell phones to call their Members of Congress while safely walking their dogs. For ideas on how to form your own congressional watchdog group see: Become a Congressional Ratwatcher.

(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).

Biden inherits truly fearsome troubles-among them the spiking pandemic, the collapsing economy,
corrosive inequality, catastrophic climate change and entrenched structural racism.

Biden Should Revive The U.S. Commission On Civil Rights
An active commission could help spearhead the investigations and reforms vital to addressing civil and human rights in this country.
By Jesse Jackson

A new president takes office with the sense of possibility that comes with a new dawn. This is particularly true for Joe Biden, taking office after the divisive turmoil of Donald Trump's years in office.

Biden inherits truly fearsome troubles-among them the spiking pandemic, the collapsing economy, corrosive inequality, catastrophic climate change and entrenched structural racism. He stood up for Black Lives Matter and has promised a new day for civil rights, with particular emphasis on police reform.

America's institutionalized racism goes far beyond the police, of course. We've witnessed the spread of brazen voter suppression schemes since the Supreme Court disemboweled the Voting Rights Act. Our public schools grow ever more separate and unequal. Blacks and Latinos have suffered disproportionately in the economic collapse surrounding the pandemic, and from the pandemic itself. The racial gap in housing, health care, wealth and more grow worse. And now as America grows more diverse, discrimination against other minorities from Latinos to Native Americans demands redress.

Biden will no doubt appoint an attorney general sensitive to these concerns. Across the government, civil rights divisions will be revived and recharged. Action on voting rights, on reducing mass incarceration, on police reform will follow. As part of this renewed commitment, Biden should consider steps to revive and empower the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, preferably with new leadership, new authority and adequate staffing, to undertake the crucial mission of monitoring civil rights progress, investigating abuses and recommending remedies.

The U.S. Commission was created under President Dwight D Eisenhower, a Republican, in the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Its mission was "the continuous appraisal of the status of civil rights and the efficiency of the machinery with which we hope to improve that status." It was charged with collecting data, holding hearings, providing a clearing house and coordination of state and private agencies working in civil rights. It would issue regular reports and make recommendations in regard to remedying civil rights abuses.

In its early years, the commission played a vital role. Its prestigious members helped develop the case and formulate the reforms that informed the early civil rights acts, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 among others.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan sought to weaken the commission, reducing its staff and resources. After illegally attempting to fire three of the commissioners, Reagan forced a compromise in which eight commissioners would serve staggered six-year terms, with half appointed by the president and two by the speaker of the House and two by the president pro tempore of the Senate. Since that time, the commission has declined in stature and effectiveness.

Biden should seek to revive the commission. He should appoint a new director of national stature, and commit the resources needed to rebuild the staff and the functions of the commission. He should seek new legislation to give the president power to nominate the commissioners, investing them with greater authority.

An active commission could help spearhead the investigations and reforms vital to addressing civil and human rights in this country. It could review how civil rights legislation should be updated to address the challenges of a much more diverse country. It could hold hearings on voter suppression and gerrymandering-and on reviving the Voting Rights Act-to bring public attention to what is a growing problem. It could investigate the challenge of reforming police forces into effective agencies of public safety.

What's clear is that no department or bureau of government can undertake this effort. Each has its own sphere of authority and concern. Inter-agency efforts are cumbersome and seldom effective. An independent commission could in fact serve the function Eisenhower envisioned-providing a central monitoring agency across the broad range of civil rights concerns and helping to define the next generation of reforms.

As the new president selects the officials that will work to fulfill his pledges of civil rights and criminal justice reform, and as he formulates his initial package of administrative and legislative actions, he would be wise to include revival of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as a central element in that agenda.

(c) 2020 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

The US Department Of Agriculture - What Is It And Why Does It Matter?
By Jim Hightower

Created in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln to be what he called the "people's department," today this little-known agency has enormous tools and resources to restore fairness and opportunity across America's countryside. It has major anti-monopoly authority; controls huge rural development and housing programs; runs food stamp, school lunch, and other nutrition programs; has responsibility for pesticide regulations; directs the Forest Service and numerous other environmental programs; has sweeping civil and labor rights responsibilities; wields a $151 billion annual budget, has 100,000 employees and an office in every county in America; and - most powerfully - the secretary has broad authority to be a national advocate for the people against the corporate plutocracy now controlling policy.

Ag secretary is a BIG office. But tools only work if you use them. President-elect Biden rightly promised to restore trust that our national government will serve the public interest rather than continuing policies that abet oligarchic power and increase inequality. Here is a clear test of that promise. Instead of recycling another old-line agribusiness acolyte into USDA, Biden must be pushed to make a progressive choice for Secretary of Agriculture, someone unencumbered by financial or political ties to the status quo, willing to practice what Rep. John Lewis called "getting into good trouble. Necessary trouble."

At minimum, the next Secretary of Agriculture should pledge to rally family farmers, food industry workers, consumers, rural communities, small business, urban neighborhoods, and environmentalists in a common effort to break the corporate stranglehold and turn USDA into "The People's Department" again.

This is a minimalist demand, but it could produce a profound, far-reaching shift in the governing culture of this impactful agency, freeing it to become an agent of fundamental change for the people it was meant to serve.

(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 before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired football
coach Lou Holtz on December 3, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Trump Remains Indignant Because He Cheated So Hard - And Still Lost
By William Rivers Pitt

If any conversation could be said to be simultaneously terrifying and boring, it is the ongoing one regarding the motives behind Donald Trump's elaborate electoral tantrum. The question on millions of lips: Why is he doing this?

Multiple reports have suggested he knows he lost to Joe Biden, though as his niece Mary Trump has observed, the man has a singular talent for gaslighting himself. Perhaps he has genuinely convinced himself that he actually won, and that's why we're in this mess. Trump is also raking in cash from the willing dupes in his base, so the financial motive is clear.

Of course, the legal peril Trump faces in New York State and elsewhere would motivate him to hang on to the office past his expiration date. Likewise, it is demonstrably clear that the man has all the makings of an authoritarian tyrant, arguably save for talent and motivation, and crap like this is what authoritarian tyrants pull when Birnam Wood finally comes to Dunsinane, so there's that, too.

Yet all those, alone or in some sort of twisted combination, fail to account for Trump's vivid astonishment in defeat. Ever since the deal went down, Trump has been walking around with a look on his face like he just watched Biden pull a live ocelot out of his nose and taught it to deal cards. The "He's a superbrat" theory doesn't account for Trump's sustained astonishment; even the most epic of assholes get the message eventually, but not him, not yet.

John W. Dean, formerly of the Nixon White House and presently a political commentator for Findlaw's Writ, proposed a theory last weekend that rang all the bells, in my opinion.

"Trump may be unable to believe he lost because, in fact, he rigged the election," tweeted Dean. "But maybe he miscalculated with only 10 million extra votes. So he now thinks he was out-cheated. In fact, Dems outvoted him and he wasn't ready for it."

That sounds just about exactly right, the explanatory period at the end of this weird sentence.

It is a rule of thumb that virtually all of Trump's accusations are, in fact, confessions of his own shabby behavior. His bellowed claims of rigged elections and vast conspiracies are actually his helpless testimonial to the serial election misdeeds of his administration and his party.

Trump, along with his Republican colleagues on the state and federal levels, have labored mightily for far longer than this election to rig the very notion of voting. The effort predates Trump by years. Look no further than the decimation of the Voting Rights Act by the Roberts court, which opened the floodgates for dozens of brazenly racist voting restrictions across multiple states. Meanwhile the rewrite of that vital legislation, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, gathers dust on Mitch McConnell's desk.

Every single election since then, it has been made deliberately more difficult for people of color to vote. Voter suppression efforts throughout this period have included deliberate acts of sabotage, such as when Georgia's then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, wiped hundreds of thousands of people off the voting rolls, even as he was running for governor against Stacey Abrams.

Let us also not forget Florida's decision to levy what is essentially a poll tax on 1.4 million people with felony convictions, who only recently regained the right to vote in the first place. Let it be noted that the Roberts court made sure that rule sticks.

This was a huge year for mail-in voting because of the pandemic. In Milwaukee and Houston, Republicans attempted to deprive millions of voters the ability to cast their ballots by mail by depriving them of ballot boxes; only one was allowed in each voting district until hell was raised and the attempt were stopped. False ballot boxes started popping up in multiple places.

The disinformation campaign waged against Black voters on social media during the 2016 campaign is well-documented. "Four years after Russian operatives used social media in a bid to exacerbate racial divisions in the United States and suppress Black voter turnout," reported The Washington Post in August, "such tactics have spread across a wide range of deceptive online campaigns operated from numerous nations - including from within the United States itself."

On the eve of the 2020 election, Trump sent out an unambiguous call for "poll-watchers" to go to voting stations in cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta, home to huge Black voter populations. The unvarnished purpose was intimidation. After he lost, Trump's lawsuits aimed at overturning the election focused on these and other cities with large Black populations. The unvarnished motive was racism.

And there was the mother of all 2020 attempted rig jobs: Trump's frontal and inside attack on the United States Postal Service (USPS). Full in the knowledge that millions of Democrats would use the mail service to vote against him, Trump tried to burn the postal service down in broad daylight. The USPS proved to be far more resilient than Trump anticipated, and the ballots were carried to their proper destination with nearly seamless efficiency.

Trump's accusations regarding fraud in the 2020 election are indeed a confession: His party tried, and failed, to rig the vote. That such massive labors came to nothing has left him, as Abraham Lincoln said of defeated Gen. William Rosencrans, "confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head."

It makes perfect sense. If I cheated that hard and still lost, I'd have trouble believing it, too.

(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.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell's Ghoulish Plan To Exploit Covid Desperation To Shield Corporate Crime
Republicans want to protect corporations from Covid-related lawsuits. Senator Bernie Sanders says it's wrong morally and economically.
By John Nichols

What the United States desperately needs is a multitrillion-dollar stimulus package to provide the resources to fight the current coronavirus surge, to provide for the unemployed and underemployed, to keep small businesses and small farms afloat, to fund state and local governments and schools, and to organize and implement the distribution of the vaccines that are vital to ending the current crisis.

What the United States does not need is a massive corporate bailout that allows the wealthiest and most powerful businesses in this country to avoid liability for actions they take that sicken and kill Americans.

Unfortunately, that is what Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and his minions have been battling to include in a new Covid-19 "relief" package. And key Democrats could end up going along with the grim reaper's ghoulish scheme as he again uses federal legislation to insulate irresponsible CEOs from accountability-and, conveniently, to reward the business interests that fund Republican campaigns.

Exploiting the sense of urgency over the peaking pandemic and the prospect of what President-elect Joe Biden refers to as a "long dark winter" for working families, McConnell and his colleagues have for months held relief proposals hostage over the issue of a so-called "liability shield." Such a shield-even if it is limited, even if it is only temporary-would give corporations immunity from lawsuits related to Covid-19.

Considering the stark evidence of irresponsibility on the part of US corporations since the pandemic hit, the proposal is absurd. Yet the "COVID Emergency Relief Framework" scheme that was initially proposed by corporate-aligned centrists in Congress but has now attracted backing from leading congressional Republicans and Democrats proposes just such a liability shield. The one-page outline of the plan released last week includes among its proposals: "Provide short term federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits with the purpose of giving states time to develop their own response."

That's precisely the sort of vague language that has been used in the past to take advantage of crisis moments to benefit the bottom lines of multinational corporations. If McConnell and his allies get what they want-in this measure or some future one-big business will be off the hook and working people will be further endangered. As Public Citizen warned earlier this year, the proposal by Senate Republicans "to immunize businesses from liability includes provisions shielding employers from a range of workplace laws-including laws addressing discrimination, fair wages and occupational health and safety."

In a new variation on the scenario described in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, corporations and their congressional benefactors would have us believe that a liability shield is needed to battle the pandemic. But why? "How would exempting employers from complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act help to end the pandemic?" asks the Public Citizen analysis. "What does any of this have to do with restoring the economy? Nothing at all."

The awful truth of why corporations want the shield was summed up by the Rev. William J. Barber II when he explained Monday: "This new proposal, if you go to the bottom, is pushing for a liability shield for businesses to protect themselves from lawsuits from poor/low-wealth workers if they get Covid because the business did not protect them. That's criminal."

Yet, while Democrats have long objected to the liability shield, things have gotten so desperate in the United States that there's mounting concern that a "compromise" plan-which could come before Congress in days-might include a liability shield. The only way to prevent this from happening is to make it clear that compromises that endanger the health and safety of Americans in the midst of a pandemic are unacceptable.

That's what Bernie Sanders has done. In announcing that he cannot support the relief package as it has been proposed by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mitt Romney of Utah, the senator has said:

Unfortunately, despite long-time Democratic opposition, this proposal provides 100 percent legal immunity to corporations whose irresponsibility has led to the deaths of hundreds of workers. It would continue to provide a get-out-of-jail free card to companies that put the lives of their workers and customers at risk. In fact, the Manchin-Romney proposal will, through this liability provision, encourage corporations to avoid implementing the common sense safety standards needed to protect workers and consumers-and make a bad situation worse.
Sanders has other objections to the plan as it is currently configured, noting on Friday that "at a time when the COVID crisis is the worst that it has ever been in the U.S. with record-breaking levels of hospitalization and death, the Manchin-Romney proposal not only provides no direct payments to working families, it does nothing to address the healthcare crisis and has totally inadequate financial assistance for the most vulnerable."

This country has suffered enough from Shock Doctrine schemes. Sanders is right when he says that a Covid "relief" package that includes a liability shield for multinational corporations "is wrong morally and it is wrong economically if we hope to rebuild the economy."

(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.

Factory Farming Creating Questionable Food
By James Donahue

I grew up in a farming area of Michigan during a time, not that long ago, when family owned and operated farms were doing a great job of providing all of the food needed in the United States and shipping the excess to other world countries.

Food then was cheap and plentiful. The farmers worked hard and went through years when they made good money and survived the years when they lost money. To cover the potential losses of crops they diversified what they grew, and maintained small dairy herds. The milk they sold usually carried them over in the years when crops failed or grain prices dipped.

I lived among the German and Polish farm families who made their living on farms no larger than 160-acres. One of our neighbors made his living farming a 40-acre piece of land. He made extra money playing in a local band that performed at wedding receptions and dances in the area on weekends.

The tractors we used were small with only enough power to pull a two-bottom plow. I remember spending most of a day working a 40-acre field and coming into the house at night with my face and clothes blacked with dust. I had to go straight to the shower before I ate my supper.

That old way of life changed after I returned to the area a few years later as a newspaper reporter. Farming by then was shifting to a more sophisticated system, with the young farmers using computers and calculating ways of improving crop and milk production by using certain chemicals and feeds. Many had college degrees in agriculture or were attending special classes offered by Michigan State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Those "modern" farmers operated from offices on the farm. Everything was changing. The farmers also were in tough competition with one another, many of them going out of business and going off to the city to find jobs. Those still actively farming were buying or leasing all of the additional farmland they could get their hands on, and buying giant super-sized tractors, combines and other machinery. The objective was to increase the quantity of crops all that land demanded of them.

The farmers got greedy in those days. It became common to see them working up large fields and planting crops the same day with equipment that was so large it could hardly be squeezed through the width of a normal sized country road. The tractor cabs were enclosed, air conditioned and equipped with radios and music systems so the operators felt as if they were at home in their offices as they worked the fields.

Farmers began to specialize then too. Some of them went strictly into crop farming while others built giant barns and started building big beef or dairy herds of a hundred or more cows. Forgotten was the quest for milk quality such as was produced by the Jersey breed of cow. Everybody wanted the Holstein, a lean type of cow known for being a heavy milk producer. The milk from a Holstein, however, was never tasted as rich and creamy as it did from the other varieties.

Sadly, it was rare to find a Jersey cow pasturing in a field. In fact, it became rare to find any cows at pasture. They were all being kept at stanchion, in the barns, and fed commercially produced mesh. The dairy farmers also were having veterinarians oversee their herds, filling the animals with vaccinations of antibiotics and feed mixed with chemicals designed to make them produce more milk.

The same thing was happening on the beef cattle farms, and pig farms. The animals were being raised inside of larger and larger buildings. Farmers discovered that certain chemicals could be used to make them grow faster and fatten more quickly, thus reducing the amount of cost of housing and feeding them before slaughter.

The same thing was happening on farms specializing in producing poultry and eggs. Chicken farms became places where the birds were contained in confined cages throughout their horror filled lives. They were constantly being supplied food and water in troughs that could be reached by sticking their heads out of the cage and that was about all the movement the birds were, and still are allowed. They become so weak that if they are freed, they cannot stand on their legs or flap their wings. But they produce eggs and they get fat for slaughter in a hurry.

That is how most of the food in America is now being produced.

But the story is growing even worse. These so-called factory farms are still increasing in size. Before I retired from newspapering I worked a few years for a publication near the area where I grew up. The guys who were expanding in those earlier years had nearly all gone bankrupt and their farms had been grabbed up by even larger farming operations. Some of these new operators were from other countries, coming to the United States and buying up thousands of acres of land for one purpose - the creation of super factory farms.

The first one that came into our area was a dairy operation that sported over a thousand head of cows. The farm required large amounts of land to grow corn and grains to produce the feed. The water pumped from the reservoirs under the ground to operate that farm was affecting the water wells in rural neighborhoods and towns for miles around. The handling of the massive amounts of manure from all those cows required an open pit sewage treatment system that compared to anything used by a modern city. And the heavy trucks used to transport the milk, supplies, harvest the crops and service that farm demanded the construction of first class roads leading to and from the farm.

It was such a massive undertaking that the local residents, the neighboring towns and townships and the county board of commissioners rose up to try to stop it. But it was too late. The farm was in the works. The permits were issued by the state regulatory agencies, and it came into existence. After that it was impossible to stop it from happening again and again.

The smells from those farms is unbearable. One beef farm operation located a mile and a half north of the town where I lived and worked had about a thousand animals in the barn. When we had a north wind, the smell penetrated everything in town. The pig farms were the very worst. We had those as well as chicken farms. They were cropping up almost everywhere.

My wife and I were looking for rural property for our retirement and were considering a lovely home near Caseville, about a mile from Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron. But when I talked to the township supervisor he warned me about two proposed factory farms that were planned on property nearby. One was going to be no more than a half mile from the home we were considering. We backed off and moved to an area where we do not expect factory farms to ever want to be.

So far I have written only about the bad side of living near factory farms, and touched on the horrors experienced by the animals packed in those barns. Also consider the impact this kind of food production has been having on the produce we buy in our grocery stores.

Not only is this food filled with the antibiotics and chemicals used to make the animals grow faster and produce more milk, but this food is making us sick. It sometimes arrives on the market packed with deadly salmonella or e-coli bacteria. The recent egg recall after thousands became sick from salmonella and the hamburger recalls involving tons of meat have been the direct result of dirty, poorly regulated factory farms. The animals are living in and consuming their own waste. The massive volume of waste is contaminating the nearby water and soil where other produce is grown. A lettuce recall a few years ago was traced to contaminated water from a factory farm runoff originating from miles away.

This form of insanity on the American farms needs to stop. This is not the way to produce wholesome, healthy food. Americans are out of work and hurting financially now, so they are likely forced to buy the least expensive food they can find, but we all deserve better than what we have been getting.

(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.


I Agree With The Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff On Foreign Bases
By David Swanson

You may have heard that the U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to spend $741 billion renaming military bases that have been heretofore named for Confederates. You may think that's a grand idea but still wonder at the price tag.

Of course, the secret is that - even though most of the media coverage is about the renaming of bases - the bill itself is almost entirely about funding (part of) the world's most expensive military machine: more nukes, more "conventional" weapons, more space weapons, more F-35s than the Pentagon even wanted, etc.

Annually, the military appropriations and authorization bills are the only bills to go through Congress where the bulk of the media coverage is always devoted to some marginal issue and never to what the bill essentially does.

Almost never does media coverage of these bills mention, for example, foreign bases, or their huge financial cost, or the lack of public support for them. This time, however, there has been mention of the fact that this bill blocks the removal of U.S. troops and mercenaries from Germany and Afghanistan.

Trump wants to pull a fraction of U.S. troops out of Germany to punish Germany - or rather, the German government, or some imaginary Germany, since the German public is largely in favor of it. Trump's comments on Afghanistan are no more sensible or compassionate than on Germany. But the notion that one could support troop withdrawals for very different reasons than Trump's is virtually if not entirely absent from U.S. corporate media, because not represented by a major political party.

However, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley this week expressed the view that foreign U.S. bases, or at least some of them, should be closed. Milley wants a bigger Navy, greater hostility toward China, and considers the war on Afghanistan a success. So, I don't always agree with him on everything, to put it mildly. His reasons for wanting to close bases are not mine, but they're also in no way Trump's. So, one can't avoid considering Milley's proposal simply by declaring it Trumpian.

At least 90% of foreign military bases in the world are U.S. bases. The United States has more than 150,000 military troops deployed outside the United States on more than 800 bases (some estimates are more than 1000) in 175 countries, and all 7 continents. The bases are often environmental disasters, just as they are within the United States. And they are very often political disasters. The bases have proven to make wars more likely, not less likely. They serve in many cases to prop up oppressive governments, to facilitate the sale or gift of weaponry and the provision of training to oppressive governments, and to impede efforts for peace or disarmament.

According to an AP article published almost nowhere, Milley mentioned Bahrain and South Korea in particular. Bahrain is a viciously brutal dictatorship that has become more so during the Trump years, in direct response to support from Trump.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has been the King of Bahrain since 2002, when he made himself King, prior to which he was called Emir. He had become Emir in 1999 due to his accomplishments in, first, existing, and second, his father dying. The King has four wives, only one of whom is his cousin.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has dealt with nonviolent protesters by shooting, kidnapping, torturing, and imprisoning them. He has punished people for speaking up for human rights, and even for "insulting" the king or his flag - offenses that carry a sentence of 7 years in prison and a hefty fine.

According to the U.S. State Department, "Bahrain is a constitutional, hereditary monarchy. . . . Human rights issues [include] allegations of torture; arbitrary detention; political prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; restrictions on freedom of expression, the press, and the internet, including censorship, site blocking, and criminal libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including restrictions on independent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from freely operating in the country."

According to the nonprofit Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, the kingdom is in "near-total violation" of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and its police force has established patterns of arbitrary detention, torture, rape, and extrajudicial killing. Bahrain is also "among the most heavily policed countries in the world, with approximately 46 MOI [Ministry of Interior] personnel for every 1,000 citizens. That is more than double the comparable rate at the height of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in Iraq, which dwarfed similar regimes in Iran and Brazil." War propagandists who love to pretend that a country about to be bombed consists of a single evil individual would pay big money to have the opportunity to use Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as a stand in for the suffering people of Bahrain. But Al Khalifa is not a target of U.S. media or the U.S. military.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was taught by the U.S. military. He is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He is considered a good ally of the U.S., British, and other Western governments. The U.S. Navy bases its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. The U.S. government provides military training and funding to Bahrain, and facilitates the sale of U.S.-made weapons to Bahrain.

The King's eldest son and heir apparent was educated at American University in Washington, D.C., and at Queen's College, University of Cambridge, England.

In 2011, Bahrain hired a U.S. police chief named John Timoney, with a reputation for brutality earned in Miami and Philadelphia, to help the Bahraini government intimidate and brutalize its population, which he did. As of 2019, "police continue to receive training for their largely US-made arsenal. From 2007 to 2017, the American taxpayer provided nearly $7 million in security assistance to the MOI and specifically the riot police - a notorious national police force responsible for dozens of extrajudicial killings, countless protest raids, and reprisal attacks on prisoners. President Donald Trump is now extending MOI training programs after units failed Leahy Law vetting under the Obama Administration, proposing an extensive 10-course program for 2019 that includes advice on 'attack methodologies.'"

Milley did not mention Bahrain because of any of my concerns, nor because he does not want massive naval fleets stationed around the globe; he wants more of them. But Milley thinks that it's costly and dangerous to station large numbers of U.S. troops and their families on distant bases.

According to Military Times, Milley "is joining a growing chorus of senior defense officials who have questioned the need for permanently stationing troops around the world." Milley's concern is that this endangers family members. "I don't have a problem with us, those of us in uniform, being in harm's way - this is what we get paid for. This is what our job is, right?" he said. Should that be anyone's job? If bases create hostility, should anyone who couldn't afford college have to go occupy them for the benefit of weapons dealers? I know my opinion on that. But even the Chairman of the Joint frickin Chiefs of the institution that pretty well rid North America of chiefs doesn't want to station people's families at foreign bases anymore.

The problem may be that spouses' and family members' reluctance to live in apartheid gated armed communities is hurting recruitment and retention. If so, three cheers for the families! But if the bases aren't needed, and we know the harm they do, and U.S. public dollars don't have to fund the creation of all these mini-disneyland-Little-Americas behind Trumpish walls, why not stop doing it?

Milley also mentioned South Korea, another spot where Congress has in recent years excitedly blocked the never-even-proposed removal of any U.S. troops. But South Korea now has a government willing to stand up to the U.S. government, and a public that knows the U.S. troops and weapons are the primary impediment to peace and reunification. Trump's nastiness in this case takes the form of demanding that South Korea pay more for its U.S. occupation (admittedly not as crazy as Neera Tanden's desire that Libya pay for being bombed), but Milley's motivation is, again, different. Milley, according to AP, is worried that if the United States finally manages to get into a new war, the family members of U.S. troops will be at risk. There's no mention of the families who actually inhabit the countries of Asia. There's open willingness to risk the lives of U.S. troops. But U.S. troops' families - those are the people who matter.

When even that sort of limited morality favors closing bases, perhaps opening and maintaining bases should be seen in a harsher light than U.S. media allows.

Milley recognizes the inertia, and presumably the profits and politics behind it. He proposes that shorter stays for troops without families might be a solution. But it's not much of one. It doesn't address the fundamental problem of putting armed camps in everybody else's countries. It doesn't consider the views of the U.S. public at large. If I had to watch a sports event on TV and be told that armed U.S. troops were watching it from 174 countries instead of 175, I would not be traumatized, and I'd wager almost nobody would even notice. I think the same would be so for 173 or 172. Hell, I'd be willing to simply poll the U.S. public on how many nations the U.S. military now has troops in and then reduce the reality to whatever people think it is.

(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.

Actor, activist and author Jane Fonda.

Jane Fonda And Guests Ignite A Fire In David Suzuki Podcast, Episode 1
By David Suzuki

Summer was marked by fire in the streets and the sky. The wave of protests following the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and too many other Black and Indigenous people mirrored the intensity and scale of the historic climate protests last fall.

I've been involved in the climate and anti-racism movements for over half a century. I haven't seen protests of this size in a generation. Across Canada and around the world, moms, dads, grandparents and young people filled the streets - people like you and me, who know that a better future is within our grasp.

Now, as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and how we might recover from it, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create that better future.

That's really what Season 1 of The David Suzuki Podcast is about: how the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, this historical moment, has given us a chance to find a healthier, happier, equitable and sustainable way forward.

"We are all in this together" has become a mantra during the pandemic. But as a scientist, I recognize it's more than that. As biological beings we are connected to one another, and to the complex web of life here on Earth. We are the elements - fire, air, earth, water - and spirit. My great hope is that by coming back to this fundamental understanding of who we are, we can find a better path as we navigate the pandemic. The elements are the most fundamental requirements for life to flourish. They are a gift from nature that we should accept with gratitude and care.

The first episode of the season "COVID-19 and the Basic Elements of Life" looks at fire. Some of our earliest vestiges of human activity are ashes of deliberately set fires. Taming fire was an enormous step for our species, providing warmth, light, protection against animals, cooking and companionship. In fact, we even have fire in us, in every cell in our body, through the transfer of energy from the sun through the photons of sunlight captured in the chloroplasts of plants we eat.

We often refer to highly motivated people who call for change as having "fire in the belly." That's why I invited my friend Jane Fonda to speak with me. She has had fire in her belly for decades. You may know her from her Oscar- and Emmy Award-winning acting career, or her famous workout videos, but since the late '60s, Jane has been a dedicated activist. She's fought for women's rights and Indigenous rights and in recent years, she's been championing the fight against climate change. Her protests in Washington, D.C., Fire Drill Fridays, answer the alarm sounded by young people like Greta Thunberg, who, in her speech to the World Economic Forum, famously said "Our house is on fire." "People should join movements," Jane tells me. "Individualism is the tool of the ruling class. We have to work together in concert with like-minded citizens, in movements that are experienced and strategic. It was when I became an activist that I knew I wanted to live, what my purpose was and that my time wasn't being wasted on Earth. Activism saved me; career was secondary." I also speak with the David Suzuki Foundation's Sherry Yano, who is leading our work on clean energy. An engineer by trade and climate policy expert, Sherry is helping advance Canada's renewable energy future.

When I ask for her thoughts on our theme, Sherry calls to mind the wildfires in California, Australia and before that in Alberta and Saskatchewan. "I think all our hearts jump right into our throats when we see people caught in those tragic events," she says. "Scientists have long predicted that extreme weather events would increase in frequency and severity, and now those impacts are very hard to ignore." Sherry is working to raise awareness of why the future needs to be not just sustainable but equitable too, and what the Canadian government can do to help create a green and just recovery from COVID-19. She notes the government is making investments to help us get back on track economically and says, "these will likely be some of the biggest investments that we see in a lifetime. And so we need to use these investments to deal with the multiple challenges we face." Whether it's the climate crisis or COVID-19, Sherry underscores the importance of looking at who is being most affected. "We need to right our relationships with Indigenous nations and Black communities and people of colour because everyone needs to share in the benefits more fully."

Lastly, I speak with Ian Mauro, executive director of the Prairie Climate Centre and associate professor at the University of Winnipeg. He's a scientist and filmmaker I've had the great fortune of producing a number of films with, and he specializes in climate change communications. I ask him how we can tell the right stories to get our messages out. He stresses we need stories that people see themselves in.

"If you don't see yourself in the story, then it's somebody else's issue," Ian says. "It gets into 'not in my backyard' and climate change is this existential threat that no one can solve. I think that's a critical piece in this, because we need cohesion. We need people to come together on this issue. So that story needs to be one of inclusiveness."

With the world slowing during the pandemic, we've had time to reflect on where we are, how we got here and where we are going. That's why these stories matter. During lockdown, I tried to make the most of every moment to rediscover the wonders of nature, damaged though it is, and that renewed my desire to protect it, including by making this podcast. A return to the fundamentals, those basic elements of life, will help us seize this unique opportunity to rediscover our place on this beautiful living planet.

(c) 2020 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020

The Supreme Court Was Handed A Reeking Dead Fish And Refused Delivery
Trump and his allies lose again in court, this time the Supreme one.
By Charles P. Pierce

Nobody could meet the Somali pirates' asking price, I guess. From NPR:

The lawsuit was brought by Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who argued a 2019 state law authorizing universal mail-in voting is unconstitutional and that all ballots cast by mail in the general election in Pennsylvania should be thrown out. "The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied," read the court's order, which did not comment further or suggest any dissent among the court's nine justices.

In other words, of which there are many, since the Supreme Court needed only 18 to hurl this nonsense into the Tidal Basin, Rep. Mike Kelly handed the Supreme Court of the United States a reeking dead fish and the Court refused delivery. And the Kelly suit looked like it was drafted by Clarence Darrow compared to that idiocy that emerged from Texas Tuesday morning, and Kelly's suit was something at which even Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito turned up their noses. The administration* is done like dinner. SCOTUS has precious engagements.

(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-

"Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent - a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice - that struggle continues."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Will the militant Trump administration attempt to board these vessels and steal their oil, to
provoke Iran again and interfere with the Biden team's plan to restore the 2015 nuclear deal?

Iran Sends Oil, Gas Flotilla To Venezuela. Will Trump Attack It To Sabotage Biden?
The odious Elliott Abrams, warmonger-in-chief and old-time supporter of nun-killing right wing death squads in Central America, is now in charge of Iran and Venezuela for Trump and is warning propagandistically against Iran sending missiles to Venezuela (for which there is no evidence at all).
By Juan Cole

Bloomberg reports that a flotilla of ten Iranian vessels is heading for Venezuela. They have turned off their shipboard Automatic Identification System, or AIS, so that US signals intelligence cannot find them easily. The ships typically go around the Cape of Good Hope and then head northwest to Caracas.

Will the militant Trump administration attempt to board these vessels and steal their oil, to provoke Iran again and interfere with the Biden team's plan to restore the 2015 nuclear deal?Nachoman-au/Wikipedia

The Trump administration seized four Iranian oil tankers in the Caribbean in August and sold off the oil, despite these actions being illegal in the international law of the sea. Bill Barr's Department of Justice got $40 million for their act of piracy. The tankers' owners, based in Oman, the UK and the UAE, have sued over the seizure. Barr responded by sanctioning two of them.

Although the Bloomberg reporters blame Venezuela's need for these imports solely on the administration of Nicolas Maduro, this is somewhat unfair. No doubt Maduro is authoritarian and a poor administrator of affairs, and bears some of the blame.

The fact is, however, that crude petroleum is fairly useless. It has to be refined into gasoline or diesel in order to be useful in burning for fuel in vehicles (the most common way it is consumed). Moreover, heavy or "sour" crude with high amounts of sulfur needs special refineries and requires the use of natural gas concentrates as diluents. Venezuela used to ship sour crude to the US for refining, but can no longer do so because of Trump sanctions. The South American oil giant has its own refineries, as well, but Venezuela does not have its own natural gas, and it used to import the natgas concentrates from - guess who? - the United States. No more.

Guess who has massive fields of natural gas and who can thus easily make natural gas concentrates for the Venezuelan refineries? You guessed it: Iran. Plus Iran can just export gasoline that it has already refined to Venezuela, given that the country will need time to build more local refineries before it can ramp back up its gasoline production in light of the US embargo.

Iran is also apparently offering to transport Venezuelan crude in its ships to be refined abroad (possibly China).

Since August Iranian ships have managed to make it to Venezuela without being pirated by the Trump administration, by keeping their transponders off. But each of these export journeys is now an adventure, since Trump seems to have seen that Tom Hanks movie about the Somali pirates and decided he wants the US to play Somali pirate in the Caribbean.

The odious Elliott Abrams, warmonger-in-chief and old-time supporter of nun-killing right wing death squads in Central America, is now in charge of Iran and Venezuela for Trump and is warning propagandistically against Iran sending missiles to Venezuela (for which there is no evidence at all). Abrams is a known liar who was convicted of lying to Congress. Having these people in power for another month and a half is like walking on grenades.

(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-

Brad refuses to step down!

Heil Trump,

Dear Richter am Obersten Gerichtshof,

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 judicial coup d'etat in Gore vs Bush, 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 the surviving members 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 Supreme Court memebers, seig heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Biden Says He'll Take On Inequality. Good! You Need To Hold Him To It
By Robert Reich

"It's time we address the structural inequalities in our economy that the pandemic has laid bare," President-elect Joe Biden said last week, as he introduced his economic team.

It's a good team. They're competent and they care, in sharp contrast to Trump's goon squad. Many of them were in the trenches with Biden and Barack Obama in 2009 when the economy last needed rescuing.

But reversing "structural inequalities" is a fundamentally different challenge from reversing economic downturns. They may overlap - last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high at the same time Americans experienced the highest rate of hunger in 22 years. Yet the problem of widening inequality is distinct from the problem of recession.

Recessions are caused by sudden drops in demand for goods and services, as occurred in February and March when the pandemic began. Pulling out of a recession requires low interest rates and enough government spending to jump-start private spending. This one will also necessitate the successful inoculation of millions against Covid-19.

By contrast, structural inequalities are caused by a lopsided allocation of power. Wealth and power are inseparable - wealth flows from power and power from wealth. That means reversing structural inequalities requires altering the distribution of power.

Franklin D Roosevelt did this in the 1930s, when he enacted legislation requiring employers to bargain with unionized employees. Lyndon Johnson did it in the 1960s with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, which increased the political power of Black people.

Since then, though, not even Democratic presidents have tried to alter the distribution of power in America. They and their economic teams have focused instead on jobs and growth. In consequence, inequality has continued to widen - during both recessions and expansions.

For the last 40 years, hourly wages have stagnated and almost all economic gains have gone to the top. The stock market's meteoric rise has benefited the wealthy at the expense of wage earners. The richest 1 percent of US households now own 50 percent of the value of stocks held by Americans. The richest 10 percent, 92 percent.

Why have recent Democratic presidents been reluctant to take on structural inequality?

First, because they have taken office during deep recessions, which posed a more immediate challenge. The initial task facing Biden will be to restore jobs, requiring that his administration contain Covid-19 and get a major stimulus bill through Congress. Biden has said any stimulus bill passed in the lame duck session will be "just the start."

Second, it 's because politicians' time horizons rarely extend beyond the next election. Reallocating power can take years. Union membership didn't expand significantly until more than a decade after FDR's Wagner Act. Black voters didn't emerge as a major force in American politics until a half-century after LBJ's landmark legislation.

Third, reallocating power is hugely difficult. Economic expansions can be a positive-sum game because growth enables those at the bottom to do somewhat better even if those at the top do far better.

But power is a zero-sum game. The more of it held by those at the top, the less held by others. And those at the top won't relinquish it without a fight. Both FDR and LBJ won at significant political cost.

Today's corporate leaders are happy to support stimulus bills, not because they give a fig about unemployment but because more jobs mean higher profits.

"Is it $2.2tn, $1.5tn?" JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon said recently in support of congressional action. "Just split the baby and move on."

But Dimon and his ilk will doubtless continue to fight any encroachments on their power and wealth. They will battle antitrust enforcement against their giant corporations, including Dimon's "too big to fail" bank. They're dead set against stronger unions and will resist attempts to put workers on their boards.

They will surely oppose substantial tax hikes to finance trillions of dollars of spending on education, infrastructure and a Green New Deal. And they don't want campaign finance reforms or any other measures that would dampen the influence of big money in politics.

Even if the Senate flips to the Democrats on 5 January, therefore, these three impediments may discourage Biden from tackling structural inequality.

This doesn't make the objective any less important or even less feasible. It means only that, as a practical matter, the responsibility for summoning the political will to reverse inequality will fall to lower-income Americans of whatever race, progressives and their political allies. They will need to organize, mobilize and put sufficient pressure on Biden and other elected leaders to act. As it was in the time of FDR and LBJ, power is redistributed only when those without it demand it.

(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

The blame lies not only with the goons and racists on the right, the corporatists
who pillage the country and the corrupt ruling elite that does their bidding, but
a feckless liberal class that found standing up for its beliefs too costly.

In The End We Will All Pay For The Cowardice Of The Liberal Class
No one should take them seriously. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing.
By Chris Hedges

Liberals who express dismay, or more bizarrely a fevered hope, about the corporatists and imperialists selected to fill the positions in the Biden administration are the court jesters of our political burlesque. They long ago sold their soul and abandoned their most basic principles to line up behind a bankrupt Democratic Party. They chant, with every election cycle, the mantra of the least worst and sit placidly on the sidelines as a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership betray every issue they claim to support.

The only thing that mattered to liberals in the presidential race, once again, was removing a Republican, this time Donald Trump, from office. This, the liberals achieved. But their Faustian bargain, in election after election, has shredded their credibility. They are ridiculed, not only among right-wing Trump supporters but by the hierarchy of the Democratic Party that has been captured by corporate power. No one can, or should, take liberals seriously. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing. The cost is too onerous. And so, the liberals do what they always do, chatter endlessly about political and moral positions they refuse to make any sacrifices to achieve.

Liberals, largely comprised of the professional managerial-class that dutifully recycles and shops for organic produce and is concentrated on the two coasts, have profited from the ravages of neoliberalism. They seek to endow it with a patina of civility. But their routine and public humiliation has ominous consequences. It not only exposes the liberal class as hollow and empty, it discredits the liberal democratic values they claim to uphold. Liberals should have abandoned the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton and political hacks such as Biden transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and launched a war on traditional liberal values and left-wing populism. They should have defected by the millions to support Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates.

This defection, as Nader understood, was the only tactic that could force the Democrats to adopt parts of a liberal and left-wing agenda and save us from the slow-motion corporate coup d'état. Fear is the real force behind political change, not oily promises of mutual goodwill. Short of this pressure, this fear, especially with labor unions destroyed, there is no hope. Now we will reap the consequences of the liberal class's moral and political cowardice.

The Democratic Party elites revel in taunting liberals as well as the left-wing populists who preach class warfare and supported Bernie Sanders. How are we supposed to interpret the appointment of Antony Blinken, one of the architects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporter of the apartheid state of Israel, as Secretary of State? Or John Kerry, who championed the massive expansion of domestic oil and gas production, largely through fracking, and, according to Barack Obama's memoir, worked doggedly to convince those concerned about the climate crisis to "offer up concessions on subsidies for the nuclear power industry and the opening of additional U.S. coastlines to offshore oil drilling" as the new climate policy czar? Or Brian Deese, the executive who was in charge of the "climate portfolio" at BlackRock, which invests heavily in fossil fuels, including coal, and who served as a former Obama economic adviser who advocated austerity measures, to run the White House's economic policy? Or Neera Tanden, for director of the Office of Management and Budget, who as president of the Center for American Progress raised millions in dark money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street while relentlessly ridiculing Bernie Sanders and his supporters on cable news and social media and who proposed a plank in the Democratic platform calling for bombing Iran?

The Biden administration resembles the ineffectual German government formed by Franz von Papen in 1932 that sought to recreate the ancien regime, a utopian conservatism that ensured Germany's drift into fascism. Biden, bereft like von Papen of new ideas and programs, will eventually be forced to employ the brutal tools Biden as a senator was so prominent in creating to maintain social control – wholesale surveillance, a corrupt judicial system, the world's largest prison system and police that have been transformed into lethal paramilitary units of internal occupation. Those that resist as social unrest mounts will be attacked as agents of a foreign power and censored, as many already are being censored, including through algorithms and deplatforming on social media. The most ardent and successful dissidents, such as Julian Assange, will be criminalized.

The shock troops of the state, already ideologically bonded with the neofascists on the right, will hunt down and wipe out an enfeebled and often phantom left, as we saw in the chilling state assassination by U.S. Marshals of the antifa activist Michael Reinoehl, who was unarmed and standing outside an apartment complex in Lacey, Washington, in September when he was shot multiple times. I witnessed this kind of routine state terror during the war in El Salvador. Reinoehl allegedly killed Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer during a pro-Trump rally in Portland, Oregon in August.

Compare the gunning down of Reinoehl by federal agents to the coddling of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters and injuring a third on August 25 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Police officers, moments before the shooting, are seen on video thanking Rittenhouse and other armed right-wing militia members for coming to the city and handing them bottles of water. Rittenhouse is also seen in a video walking toward police with his hands up after his shooting spree as protesters yell that he had shot several people. Police, nevertheless, allow him to leave. Rittenhouse's killings have been defended by the right, including Trump. Rittenhouse, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for his legal fees, has been released on $2 million bail.

We stand on the cusp of a frightening authoritarianism. Social unrest, given a continuation of neoliberalism, the climate crisis, the siphoning off of diminishing resources to the bloated war machine, political stagnation and the failure to contain the pandemic and its economic fallout, is almost certain. Absent a left-wing populism, a disenfranchised working class will line up, as it did with Trump, behind its counterfeit, a right-wing populism. The liberal elites will, if history is any guide, justify state repression as a response to social chaos in the name of law and order. That they, too, are on the Christian Right and the corporate state's long list of groups to be neutralized will become evident to them when it is too late.

It was Friedrich Ebert and the Social Democratic Party of Germany, siding with the conservatives and nationalists, that created the Freikorps, private paramilitary groups composed of demobilized soldiers and malcontents. The Freikorps ruthlessly crushed left-wing uprisings in Berlin, Bremen, Brunswick, Hamburg, Halle, Leipzig, Silesia, Thuringia and the Ruhr. When the Freikorps was not gunning down left-wing populists in the streets and carrying out hundreds of political assassinations, including the murder of Walther Rathenau, the foreign minister, it was terrorizing civilians, looting and pillaging. The Freikorps became the antecedent of the Nazi Brownshirts, led by Ernst Rohm, a former Freikorps commander.

All the pieces are in place for our own descent into what I suspect will be a militarized Christianized fascism. Political dysfunction, a bankrupt and discredited liberal class, massive and growing social inequality, a grotesquely rich and tone-deaf oligarchic elite, the fragmentation of the public into warring tribes, widespread food insecurity and hunger, chronic underemployment and unemployment and misery, all exacerbated by the failure of the state to cope with the crisis of the pandemic, combine with the rot of civil and political life to create a familiar cocktail leading to authoritarianism and fascism.

Trump and the Republican Party, along with the shrill incendiary voices on right-wing media, play the role the antisemitic parties played in Europe during the late 19th and early 20th century. The infusion of anti-Semitism into the political debate in Europe destroyed the political decorum and civility that is vital to maintaining a democracy. Racist tropes and hate speech, as in Weimar Germany, now poison our political discourse. Ridicule and cruel taunts are hurled back and forth. Lies are interchangeable with fact. Those who oppose us are demonized as human embodiments of evil.

This poisonous discourse is only going to get worse, especially with millions of Trump supporters convinced the election was rigged and stolen. The German Social Democrat Kurt Schumacher in the 1930s said that fascism "is a constant appeal to the inner swine in human beings" and succeeds by "mobilizing human stupidity." This mobilized stupidity, accompanied by what Rainer Maria Rilke called "the evil effluvium from the human swamp," is being amplified and intensified in the siloed media chambers of the right. This hate-filled rhetoric eschews reality to cater to the desperate desire for emotional catharsis, for renewed glory and prosperity and for acts of savage vengeance against the phantom enemies blamed for our national debacle. The constant barrage of vitriol and fabulist conspiracy theories will, I fear, embolden extremists to carry out political murder, not only of mainstream Democrats, Republicans Trump has accused of betrayal such as Georgia governor Brian Kemp and those targeted as part of the deep state, but also those at media outlets such as CNN or The New York Times that serve as propaganda arms of the Democratic Party. Once the Pandora's box of violence is opened it is almost impossible to close. Martyrs on one side of the divide demand martyrs on the other side. Violence becomes the primary form of communication. And, as Sabastian Haffner wrote, "once the violence and readiness to kill that lies beneath the surface of human nature has been awakened and turned against other humans, and even made into a duty, it is a simple matter to change the target."

This, I suspect, is what is coming. The blame lies not only with the goons and racists on the right, the corporatists who pillage the country and the corrupt ruling elite that does their bidding, but a feckless liberal class that found standing up for its beliefs too costly. The liberals will pay for their timidity and cowardice, but so will we.

(c) 2020 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
~~~ Monte Wolverton ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Anthony Fauci speaking in to a mic with an exasperated look on his face

Fauci A Little Weirded Out By People Suddenly Listening To Him
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Dr. Anthony Fauci is "a little weirded out" by people suddenly listening to him, the virologist has confirmed.

After months of being virtually ignored, Fauci said that the phenomenon of people paying attention when he says something is "kind of freaky."

"I guess I got used to being in meetings where I'd start talking and people would take that as an opportunity to look at their phones," he said. "This whole thing of me saying things and other people listening to me has kind of thrown me for a loop."

Fauci added that the novel experience of people acknowledging his existence has created "a ton of pressure."

"It's bizarre, frankly, to all of a sudden be saying things and have people ask follow-up questions, like they were listening to what I just said," he said. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. But when people are actually listening to what you say it can be kind of stressful. You really have to bring your A game and can't just phone it in. Be careful what you wish for, I guess."

(c) 2020 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 49 (c) 12/11/2020

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