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In This Edition

Norman Solomon wonders, "Will The Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?"

Ralph Nader warns, "Boeing's Perilous Bungling Requires New Leadership."

Glen Ford studies, "The Impending Ruling Class Mental Breakdown And Riot."

Jim Hightower explains, "How Trump's Poverty Subsidy Enriches The Rich."

Greg Palast says, "We have Mortally Wounded Jim Crow Program."

John Nichols concludes, "Wisconsin Workers Need A Fair Trade Deal."

James Donahue warns we're, "Running Out Of Good Air To Breathe."

William Rivers Pitt asks, "Are These Two Articles Of Impeachment The Best The Democrats Can Do?"

David Suzuki explores, "Navigating Difficult Climate Conversations."

Charles P. Pierce says, "I Just Can't Believe We Went Down This Road Again."

David Swanson gives the, "Key Step To Clean Up Vieques Survives In Catastrophically Awful Military."

Senator Mike Crap-o R/ID wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Ted Rall with a must read, "The Media Is Down In The Gutter With Trump."

Jane Stillwater reports from, "The American Geophysical Union Convention: 27,000 Nerds -- And Me."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Named Person Of The Year By Popular Sociopath Magazine," but first Uncle Ernie reads, "Lying Donald's Six-Page 'Ode' To Self-Pity."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Dan Wasserman, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Stephen Brashear, Joe Raedl, Hoshang Hashimi, Brendan Smialowski, 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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Lying Donald's Six-Page 'Ode' To Self-Pity
By Ernest Stewart

"I've seen the essence of it, though, and it's really sick." ~~~ Nancy Pelosi

"War contributes greatly to global warming, which shouldn't surprise us. All those bombs going off, all those rockets, all those planes and helicopters. All that fuel of various kinds being used. It pollutes the air and water of this very fragile and interconnected planet." ~~~ Alice Walker

"The mechanisms in this bill have been designed more to attack the Trump administration and Republicans than to attack the Russians and those who would attack our country and our elections." ~~~ Sinator Mike Crapo

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

I think that Lying Donald has been having a nightmare about his prison door slamming shut. As I'm sure you have heard about Lying Donalds six page rant to Nancy Pelosi? Here are a few of the highlights, or lowlights, if you prefer:

"You are the ones interfering in America's election. You are the ones subverting America's Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain."

"More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials."

"You [Nancy Pelosi] are offending Americans of faith by continually saying: 'I pray for the president,' when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!"

"There are not many people who could have taken the punishment inflicted during this period of time, and yet done so much for the success of America and its citizens."

"You are the ones interfering in America's election. You are the ones subverting America's Democracy. You are the ones obstructing justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain."

"You view democracy as your enemy. Immediately cease this impeachment fantasy."

"I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record. 100 years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another president again."

Yes, Lying Donald is going off the deep end, in the last stages of his dementia and, what's more, America knows it!

In Other News

I see where global warming deniers always seem to have a favorite target: climate models. They claim that computer simulations conducted decades ago didn't accurately predict current warming, so the public should be wary of the predictive power of newer models. Now, the most sweeping evaluation of these older models-some half a century old, shows most of them were indeed accurate!

"How much warming we are having today is pretty much right on where models have predicted," says the study's lead author, Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Climate scientists first began to use computers to predict future global temperatures in the early 1970s. That's when newfound computing power coincided with a growing realization that rising carbon dioxide levels could boost global temperatures. As the issue gained public attention, critics questioned the reliability of rudimentary model predictions. Even a 1989 news article in Science radiated skepticism, stating that "climatologists may have a gut feeling that the greenhouse effect is heating up the Earth, but they have not been close to proving it."

Today, the models are much more sophisticated. Mainframe computers driven by paper punch cards have given way to supercomputers running trillions of calculations in 1 second. Modern models account for myriad interactions, including ice and snow, changes in forest coverage, and cloud formation-things that early modelers could only dream of doing. But Hausfather and his colleagues still wanted to see how accurate those bygone models really were.

The researchers compared annual average surface temperatures across the globe to the surface temperatures predicted in 17 forecasts. Those predictions were drawn from 14 separate computer models released between 1970 and 2001. In some cases, the studies and their computer codes were so old that the team had to extract data published in papers, using special software to gauge the exact numbers represented by points on a printed graph.

Most of the models accurately predicted recent global surface temperatures, which have risen approximately 0.9 C since 1970. For 10 forecasts, there was no statistically significant difference between their output and historic observations, the team reports today in Geophysical Research Letters.

I'm not surprised as the oil barons knew from studies done in the early 50s what business as usual would do to the climate and they did it anyway. America is all about the all mighty dollar and damn the collateral damage as long as the bottom line shows a profit! We're all about to pay for their greed!

And Finally

I see where last Tuesday Sen. Mike Crap-o (R-Idaho) blocked an attempt by the Senate to pass legislation meant to prevent Russia and other countries from interfering in elections. Which seems to me to be an act of treason!

Crap-o's move came after Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked for consent to pass the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, or DETER Act. Van Hollen argued the bill would underscore that there would be a "very tough price to pay" if Moscow meddles in U.S. elections.

"It's designed to send a very clear and simple message to Russia or any other country that is thinking about interfering in our elections and undermining our democracy that if we catch you, you will suffer a severe penalty," Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) re-introduced the bill earlier this year. It requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine whether there was any foreign interference in federal elections and impose sanctions on any nations found to interfere.

Specifically, if the DNI determines that Moscow meddled in U.S. elections, sanctions on Russia would have to be implemented within 30 days of the determination.

Senators first introduced the legislation in early 2018, but that the bill has stalled amid pushback from GOP senators and members of leadership. Like Mike most Rethuglicans and Lying Donald are Russian stooges!

Crap-o - who is chairman of the Banking Committee, which is one of two Senate panels with jurisdiction over sanctions - noted that the upper chamber had already passed sanctions legislation targeting Moscow in 2017.

"I think that President Trump has probably put more sanctions on the Russians than any president in our history," Crap-o said. Still you have to admit that Mike's a funny guy!

He added that he was open to considering further legislation but warned that sanctions are a "two-edge sword."

So guess who wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award," no let's not always see the same hands! If you said Crap-o you may stay after class and clean the erasers! There'll be chocolate Almond milk and Graham crackers to follow!

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!


04-26-1941 ~ 12-18-2019
Thanks for the film!

03-18-1938 ~ 12-18-2019
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) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Will The Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
By Norman Solomon

From three different vectors, the oligarchy is on the march to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. Pete Buttigieg has made big gains. A timeworn ally of corporate power, Joe Biden, is on a campaign for his last hurrah. And Michael Bloomberg is swooping down from plutocratic heights.

Those three men are a team of rivals -- each fiercely competitive for an individual triumph, yet arrayed against common ideological foes named Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The obvious differences between Buttigieg, Biden and Bloomberg are apt to distract from their underlying political similarities. Fundamentally, they're all aligned with the nation's economic power structure -- two as corporate servants, one as a corporate master.

For Buttigieg, the gaps between current rhetoric and career realities are now gaping. On Tuesday, hours after the collapse of the "nondisclosure agreement" that had concealed key information about his work for McKinsey & Company, the New York Times concluded that "the most politically troubling element of his client list" might be what he did a dozen years ago for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan -- "a health care firm that at the time was in the process of reducing its work force."

The newspaper reported that "his work appeared to come at about the same time the insurer announced that it would cut up to 1,000 jobs -- or nearly 10 percent of its work force -- and request rate increases."

This year, Buttigieg's vaguely progressive rhetoric has become more and more unreliable, most notably with his U-turn away from supporting Medicare for All. Meanwhile, wealthy donors have flocked to him. Forbes reports that 39 billionaires have donated to the Buttigieg campaign, thus providing ultra-elite seals of approval. (Meanwhile, Biden has 44 billionaire donors and Warren has six. Forbes couldn't find any billionaires who've donated to Sanders; he did receive one contribution from a billionaire's spouse.)

Not surprisingly, the political orientations of the leading candidates match up with the spread of average donations. The latest figures reflect candidates' proximity to the class interests of donors, with wealthier ones naturally tending to give more sizable amounts. Nearly two-thirds (64.9 percent) of Biden's donations were upwards of $200 each, while such donations accounted for a bit more than half (52.5 percent) of the contributions to Buttigieg. Compare those numbers to 29.6 percent for Elizabeth Warren and 24.9 percent for Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg's affinity for corporate Democrats -- and how it tracks with his donor base -- should get a lot more critical scrutiny. For example, Washington Post reporter David Weigel tweeted in early November: "Asked Buttigieg if he agreed w Pelosi that PAYGO should stay in place if a Dem wins. 'We might want to look at a modification to the rules, but the philosophical premise, I think, does need to be there... we've got to be able to balance the revenue of what we're proposing.'"

But the entire "philosophical premise" of PAYGO amounts to a straightjacket for constraining progressive options. To support it is to endorse the ongoing grip of corporate power on the Democratic Party. As Buttigieg surely knows, PAYGO -- requiring budget cuts to offset any spending increases -- is a beloved cause for the farthest-right congressional Democrats. The 26 House members of the corporatist Blue Dog Coalition continue to be enthralled with PAYGO.

As for Joe Biden, since the launch of his campaign almost eight months ago, progressives have increasingly learned that his five-decade political record is filled with one repugnant aspect after another after another after another. Any support for him from progressives in the primaries and caucuses next year will likely come from low-information voters.

In sharp contrast to Sanders and Warren, who refuse to do high-dollar fundraising events, Biden routinely speaks at private gatherings where wealthy admirers donate large sums. His campaign outreach consists largely of making beelines to audiences of extraordinarily rich people around the country-- as if to underscore his declaration in May 2018 that "I don't think 500 billionaires are the reason why we're in trouble... The folks at the top aren't bad guys."

One of those folks who presumably isn't a "bad guy" is Bloomberg, who -- with an estimated net worth of $54 billion -- has chosen to pursue a presidential quest by spending an astronomical amount of money on advertisements. Writing for The Nation magazine this week, Jeet Heer aptly noted that Bloomberg "is utterly devoid of charisma, has no real organic base in the Democratic Party, and is a viable candidate only because he's filthy rich and is willing to inundate the race by opening up his nearly limitless money pit."

More powerfully than any words, Bloomberg's brandishing of vast amounts of ad dollars is conveying his belief that enormous wealth is an entitlement to rule. The former New York mayor's campaign is now an extreme effort to buy the presidency. Yet what he's doing tracks with more standard assumptions about the legitimacy of allowing very rich people to dominate the political process.

Earlier this week, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir summed up the BBB approach this way: "Today, Joe Biden's super PAC went on the air with a massive television ad buy. Mike Bloomberg is blanketing the airwaves almost everywhere with the largest ad buy in primary history. And Pete Buttigieg is taking time off the trail for a trio of private, high-dollar fundraisers in New York City."

Thanks to grassroots low-dollar donations, Warren and Sanders (whom I support) have been able to shatter the corrupt paradigm that gave presidential campaign dominance to candidates bankrolled by the rich. That's why Bloomberg has stepped in to save oligarchy from democracy.

As Frederick Douglass said with timeless truth, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Continual denunciations of anti-democratic power are necessary and insufficient. It's far from enough to assert endlessly that the system is rigged and always will be.

Power concedes nothing. Fatalism is a poison that gets us nowhere. Constant organizing -- outside and inside the electoral arena -- is the antidote to powerlessness.

With the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination up for grabs, this chance will not come again.

(c) 2019 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."

These reckless marketeers are able to get away with this because Congress and the White House have disabled
the FAA and turned it from a safety watchdog into an industry lapdog, leaving Boeing free to self-certify its planes.

Boeing's Perilous Bungling Requires New Leadership
Boeing has displayed an egregious pattern of mismanagement.
By Ralph Nader

The Boeing executives and marketeers responsible for over-ruling Boeing engineers on the 737 MAX are still in charge of this very troubled aerospace company. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and the rubber-stamp Board of Directors, with two trophy ambassadors, are still running Boeing - thirteen months after the deadly 737 MAX crash in Indonesia and nine months after the deadly 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that together took 346 lives. Boeing said in October that it would appoint a board member with deep air safety experience, but it has not happened yet. (Muilenburg is the only board member with an aeronautical engineering background)

Boeing has displayed an egregious pattern of mismanagement. The company is in trouble from contractors, the Department of Defense, and NASA. California Representative John Garamendi said Boeing had "serious quality issues" with the KC-46 aerial tanker used by the military and accused the company of "pushing profits over quality and safety." According to NASA's Inspector General Paul Martin, NASA "essentially paid Boeing higher prices to address a schedule slippage caused by Boeing's 13-month delay."

First-rate former Boeing engineers, including John Barnett and Ed Pierson, are exposing the reckless conditions at the Boeing 737 and 787 Dreamliner plants in Washington state and South Carolina.

Boeing managers and directors are still on the job and paying themselves handsomely. These reckless marketeers are able to get away with this because Congress and the White House have disabled the FAA and turned it from a safety watchdog into an industry lapdog, leaving Boeing free to self-certify its planes.

With intensifying investigation by the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, under the chairmanship of Congressman Peter DeFazio, a stunning internal FAA risk assessment turned up. After the October 29, 2018 Lion Air Flight 610 was hijacked by powerful MCAS software which took control of the aircraft from its pilots. A December 2018 FAA memo concluded that there would be 15 catastrophic crashes globally over the life of the 737 MAX fleet - ranging 30 to 45 years. That would mean the deaths of at least 2900 human beings.

Dr. Alan Diehl, an aerospace engineer with extensive experience at the FAA, at the Department of Defense, and in private business, told the Wall Street Journal that this prediction "would be an unacceptable number in the modern aviation-safety world." The FAA analysis, surfacing very late in the wake of the two planes going down due to Boeing's criminal negligence, was conditioned on the 737 MAX not flying until there are design and software corrections.

Chairman DeFazio noted other design problems with the Boeing 737 MAX, including rudder vulnerabilities. Boeing leadership has displayed all sorts of derelictions, including refusing to adequately inform pilots about the problems with the 737 MAX, producing faulty training manuals, and refusing to insist on full simulator training. Not only that, but the 787 Dreamliner has been found to have inadequate protection in case of lightning strikes (another Boeing bosses over-ruling of their own engineer's warnings). Boeing also laid off hundreds of quality control inspectors in its factories, preferring to rely on machines.

The FAA's new chief, Stephen Dickson, recently warned Boeing to stop announcing ungrounding times for the approximately 400 737 MAX already in the hands of the airlines. He indicated that the FAA is stiffening its backbone a little by saying that the ungrounding schedule will be decided by the FAA. Boeing has just announced it was suspending production of the 737 MAX for the time being.

The next step for Dickson would be to ask FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate Administrator for Safety Ali Bahrami to resign. Elwell and Bahrami turned their backs on airline passenger safety, let Boeing dictate its own safety decisions, and kept the public and Congress in the dark. There is no way the FAA can recover its responsibilities so long as Elwell and Ali Bahrami are still in positions of any responsibility.

Bahrami admitted he wasn't even aware of his own agency's risk assessment of the Boeing 737 MAX, noted above.

Meanwhile, the families of the deceased continue to advocate that the Boeing 737 MAX be required to undergo full certification with full pilot simulator training. In their grief, these wonderful family members are fighting daily for the future safety of tens of millions of airline passengers.

Please see for updates and your participation. You can find their comprehensive report at the following link:

And see a Democracy Now! Interview on Boeing's misdeeds:

(c) 2019 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).

The Impending Ruling Class Mental Breakdown And Riot
By Glen Ford

The outcome of the early primaries may erase Joe Biden's "electability" luster and plunge the Lords of Capital into a panic in which all bets are off on what's left of democratic liberties.

The catastrophic defeat of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in last week's elections does, indeed, foreshadow what's in store for Bernie Sanders if the U.S. ruling class believes the self-styled socialist has a real chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination. Although the Brexit dispute added deep and unique layers of complexity to the British electoral contest, the sheer magnitude of Labour's loss to a discredited Conservative Party headed by the Trump-class clown Boris Johnson, is the result of a full-court, every-dirty-trick-and-lie-in-the-book campaign by British corporate media, working hand-in-glove with intelligence circles, the trans-Atlantic military industrial complex, and the pro-corporate wing of the Labour Party ("Blairites"), itself. Sanders faces the same demonic alignment of corporate/media-national security forces in 2020, against an identical "Russiagate" backdrop that has, over the past three years, revealed the fascist face of late stage capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic.

If anything, Sanders is even more vulnerable than Corbyn, whose grassroots supporters controlled the Labour Party machinery. The Democratic Party is firmly in the hands of corporate servants who are dishonor-bound to bring down the self-styled socialist by any means necessary, to blunt the momentum of the super-majority issues he champions: Medicare for All, Green New Deal, living wage, free higher education, and a steep wealth tax. Together, these measures would spell the death of the austerity "Race to the Bottom" regime that has been imposed over the course of two generations with the collaboration of both corporate parties. The corporate Democrats are, therefore, fully invested in Sanders' demise, since it is their base that presents the greatest threat to the austerity regime -- not Donald Trump's race-obsessed deplorables, who threaten only Black, brown and Arab-looking Americans.

The popular anti-corporate groundswell must be strangled in its cradle, the Democratic Party base. Corporate Democrats are, therefore, the first line of the oligarch's defense - along with Democrat-friendly media, who play defense for corporate and imperial interests 24/7, and the intelligence/national security services, which have been embraced by Russiagate-era Democrats. The Fading Corporate Hope, Joe Biden, stumbled onto a stage, warning: "Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left."

Yes, look at the spectacle - in Britain and its most successful white settler colony. When the ruling class believes it is faced with existential threats, they throw bourgeois democracy out the window. The corporate media abandon all pretense of "objectivity" and non-partisanship (UK-US) and jump feet-and-mouth into the New Cold War to create a general hysteria (UK-US). Generals threaten mutiny if the left is elected (UK) and corporate-promulgated blacklists slander leftists as dupes of foreign powers (US-UK). Super-secret security agency operatives burst into glaring public view to spread alarm at foreign influence within the sacred imperial polity (UK-US) and are hailed as great defenders of "democracy," even as their colleagues plot coups and proxy jihads around the globe. Anti-semitism becomes an all-purpose, silver bullet silencer of dissent (UK-US).

Up to now, the Democrat-friendly corporate media have been content to ignore Bernie Sanders, as if the man who only two years ago was the most popular politician in the country, doesn't exist. But all hell will break loose among the ruling class and its servants if Sanders wins or places very well in the New Hampshire primary (February 11) and Iowa caucuses (February 3) - especially if Joe Biden does poorly, as expected, and leaves defense of the oligarchy in the untested, Black-unfriendly hands of Pete Buttigieg. Biden's strength among Black voters - his ace in the South Carolina hole - will quickly dissipate if the Old Incarcerator loses his "electability" luster in the early contests. Most Black Biden supporters are not "centrists" in the white sense of the word, and favor Sanders or Warren as their second choice - and Sanders and Warren are winning big among Black voters under 40. Blacks make up a quarter of Democratic voters, and virtually none want Buttigieg as the nominee.

That's why billionaire Michael Bloomberg has saturated the airwaves with his noxious face and voice, money-muscling into what has been shaping up as a four-person race (Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg) that could very well end with Sanders and Warren amassing enough combined delegates to put together a presidential ticket, thus frustrating a super-delegate dictation of the lineup. Bloomberg's money is unlikely to alter this dynamic, as should be evident from polling early in the new year. The data will plunge the ruling class, its media and the whole servile entourage into a panic not experienced in the United States since at least the Great Depression. All "democratic" bets will be off, and the ensuing corporate cyclone of propaganda, mayhem and dirty tricks will make the preceding years of Russiagate look as wholesome and pristine as a grade school civics class. Bernie Sanders could wind up more vilified than Jeremy Corbyn. Or it could be much worse. A ruling class mental breakdown - an oligarchs' riot, in which real institutions and people get broken -- under threat of a Sanders/Warren nomination is a much more dangerous prospect than four more years of Trump, an outcome that is also much preferred by the Lords of Capital and their corporate Democrat servants.

It is impossible to predict what the ruling class will do to keep the Race to the Bottom on track, since austerity is their only strategy for capitalism in decline. But it is absolutely clear - both here in the belly of the global superpower beast, and in the old empire on the Thames - that every bourgeois liberty is "on the table" for elimination when the oligarchs feel existentially threatened. If you think they went crazy over the election of Trump, an impulsive and undependable member of their own class, imagine what they will countenance when an austerity buster threatens to take leadership of the other half of the electoral duopoly, and then contest for the presidency.

For the record, and as every conscientious reader of BAR should know, none of the editors at Black Agenda Report are Sandernistas. Our job is political analysis, and our fight is for socialism and Black self-determination. If you read any pro-Democratic or other corporate party bias in our work, then you are reading wrong. The Democratic Party is a hopeless trap from which Black America must escape if it is to cast off its own misleadership class and exercise any real political agency. But fear of the GOP White Man's Party's brand of Dixie-born fascism locks African Americans in an alliance with the modern corporate fascist Democrats and their national security and mass incarceration, oligarch-serving state. The same goes for millions of progressive white folks and other Americans.

It is clear that such a separation will not occur, except in extreme crisis. The crisis may soon be upon us.

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

How Trump's Poverty Subsidy Enriches The Rich
By Jim Hightower

Breaking news: Donald Trump has inadvertently said something true!

He recently exulted that his special tax incentives to spur investment in poverty projects have gone "beyond anything that anybody... even thought." So true! His "Opportunity Zone" tax breaks are financing such "anti-poverty" projects as a Superyacht Marina on the toney waterfront of West Palm Beach, Florida. Who would've thought?

Named Rybovich, this project is a "luxurious resort-style" marina that will accommodate the $100-million, football-field-sized yachts of the super-rich. Not your typical poverty zone. It's being developed by Wayne Huizenga Jr. - the politically-connected billionaire who inherited a fortune last year from his father, a corporate baron who had owned Blockbuster Video and was a major donor and plutocratic pal of Donald Trump. Father and son were also big money backers of Rick Scott, the notoriously sleazy Republican governor of Florida, who had authority under Trump's Opportunity Zone program to designate which poverty areas were eligible for the multimillion-dollar tax subsidies. Obviously, an opulent superyacht marina does not qualify.

But... money talks. Huizenga Jr. simply asked his buddy the governor to give the tax break to him, and - shazam! - Scott waved his magic gubernatorial wand and transformed the posh marina into a poverty zone - an area in which Huizenga himself had just bought a $5 million house. The tax subsidy he's been given could cover the cost of that house - but we won't know, since Trump's law requires no disclosure of who gets how much of a tax handout.

Even more disgusting is that, since the law limits the number of Opportunity Zone projects, slipping in the Huizenga's luxury Marina meant that an actual poverty-stricken area in Florida got rejected by the governor. Plutocracy in Action.

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

We have Mortally Wounded Jim Crow Program
By Greg Palast

Go ahead, pop the champagne!

It took us six years of investigating and reporting on the nationwide Jim Crow Interstate Crosscheck purge operation that cost more than 1.1 million voters of color their registrations and elected Donald Trump. But, finally, Kansas, which generates the Crosscheck secret scrub lists for other states, has agreed to kill the program. This effectively ends the entire national purge operation.

Now put down the champagne glass. Put back the cork. We've won one battle, but the war still rages for the right to vote.

While our six years of exposes in Rolling Stone, on Al Jazeera and Democracy Now! were crucial in getting 15 states to pull out of the Crosscheck program, a dozen states are still using the old purge lists to remove young voters and voters of color by the hundreds of thousands.

And a new trick, "Purge by Postcard," the Jim Crow operation that cost Stacey Abrams the governorship of Georgia, is now sweeping the nation. It's Crosscheck on steroids.

While our experts are working for Abrams' non-profit Fair Fight Georgia, the Georgia trickery has now spread to Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, key battleground states for 2020.

We have the facts, we have the data, we have the inside documents gathered over years of work to stop this theft of 2020.

I want thank you for all the support you've given us that made these victories possible. But now, we need to take this fight into two dozen other states and win more of these battles.

And we have a wonderful opportunity: The Guardianis partnering with the Palast team to give our 2020 exposés a massive and prestigious national and international platform for print and video reports.

Six years ago, US media, not just Fox, was gushing over a program that would hunt down ne'er-do-wells voting twice in the same election in two different states. Through the magic of computers, the secretary of state of Kansas, Kris Kobach, "cross checked" registration rolls.

NBC and CBS applauded, I smelled a rat. Not one of my US colleagues had asked for the lists of these criminal double voters.

But the Palast team did. And Kobach and his GOP purge partners stonewalled us, refusing to give us the lists of 7.2 million "suspects."

Through our unique investigative techniques (nothing illegal, no hacking) we got the hit lists for Georgia and Virginia from insiders.

James Hunter is not James Cody, Mr. Kobach

Take a look at this unedited screenshot of so-called double voters:

James Randolph Johnson of Virginia is supposed to be the same voter as James Bidie Johnson of Kansas.

James Hunter Johnson of Virginia is supposed to be the same voter as James Cody Johnson of Kansas.

Note that in this example, not a single middle name matches.

But don't laugh, these so-called "matches" were critical to Trump's supposed victory.

Altogether, we calculated that 1.1 million voters, overwhelmingly voters of color, lost their vote in key states.

Even a Dead Rattlesnake bites

But dangers lurk. First, at least a dozen states are still using the old Crosscheck scrub lists. Astonishingly, this includes Virginia, which the Democrats just won. We are working with Gary Flowers in Richmond, formerly Rev. Jesse Jackson's Southern States organizer, to kill the voter scrub list in that state.

Second, the settlement signed by Kris Kobach's successor in Kansas with the ACLU only stops Crosscheck temporarily. The agreement permits Crosscheckto return if the state installs cyber security protections. It's kind of like putting Al Capone in prison for not paying his taxes, but hey, we take the victories as we get them.

In 2016, Micah Kubic, head of the ACLU Kansas, joined me for the launch of our film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, in which I confront Kobach with the secret lists he never thought I would see. Flustered, he lied to me on camera, then lied again and again, though he called me later to try to walk back his fabrications.

I wasn't fooled, Micah wasn't fooled, nor was the Women's League for Kansas which sponsored showings of our film all over the state.

Trump tried to make Kobach, his "Purge'n General," head of a commission to hunt fraudulent voters. Kobach declared he would expand Interstate Crosscheck to all 50 states.

That failed, But here's the third problem: Crosscheck is just one of 11 Jim Crow tricks we've uncovered.

Defeat one, and Jim Crow returns with two.

But let's savor the victories as they come or we'll lose our minds.

In 1965, Hank Sanders joined Martin Luther King on the march from Selma to Montgomery, when voting rights for Black people was considered impossible. By the time the marchers reached Montgomery, many beaten and four dead, the Voting Rights Act was introduced, then became law.

Hank Sanders was elected Senator, representing Selma, a giant step forward. But then Sen. Sanders called me down to Alabama. He himself had been purged from the voter rolls by Crosscheck.

He asked me to join him to walk across the bridge from Selma again.

Reporter Palast with Marcia Edwards, youngest Selma marcher
and Sen. Hank Sanders crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge

"We have to march across the bridge again. Because if we don't march forward we go backward."

So I'm asking you now, "Will you march with us?"

(c) 2019 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

As a senator from Wisconsin from 1981 to 1993, Bob Kasten could always be
counted on to take the side of multinational corporations rather than workers

Wisconsin Workers Need A Fair Trade Deal
By John Nichols

It is not exactly news that Bob Kasten cannot be trusted. The voters of Wisconsin figured that out in 1992, when he was seeking a third term as the state's U.S. senator. They examined his record of unswerving allegiance to Wall Street interests - at the expense of Wisconsin workers and farmers - and they booted him out of office.

Unfortunately, Kasten didn't get the hint. He keeps turning up to peddle political spin, partisan talking points and outright lies. That's what the former senator did Nov. 26, when he wrote an intellectually and practically dishonest column claiming: "Congressional Democrats are letting the chance to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) slip from their grasp. If they bypass this unique opportunity to score a bipartisan victory on behalf of the American people, they'll prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're not the 'moderates' they claimed to be on the campaign trail."

Kasten, who has never stopped peddling the agenda of the multinational corporations he served as a senator, claimed, "The delay is starting to look like a deliberate effort on the part of Democratic leadership to stop President Trump from scoring a significant victory."

Kasten wants us to believe that "Democrats have done nothing but harass the Trump administration and propose increasingly radical policies designed to troll Republicans rather than cultivate compromise." In fact, it's Kasten who is doing the trolling. His column misstated the key reason why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats such as Congressman Mark Pocan have delayed action on the USMCA deal. Why? Kasten is trying to create the false impression that the Democratic approach has been "inherently polarizing, reflecting the priorities of far-left coastal Democrats but not those of pragmatic Midwestern moderates."

That is a fundamentally dishonest and irresponsible claim.

The reason for the delay at the time when Kasten was writing was because the USMCA agreement was unacceptable to those who want to end the race-to-the-bottom trade policies that have done so much damage to workers, farmers and communities in states such as Wisconsin.

How do we know that? Because negotiators have continued to wrestle with a host of vital concerns about labor protections that had been raised by Democrats such as Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, and by the unions that represent workers in Wisconsin and other industrial states.

Around the same time that Kasten was trying to rush approval of a bad deal, the 12 unions that make up the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Council signaled that the USMCA was - in the form promoted by Kasten and his cronies - unacceptable to the 4.5 million workers they represent.

"The House should not bring NAFTA 2.0 to the floor before it is significantly improved and reflects our core recommendations," the letter from the leaders of the International Association of Machinists, United Steelworkers, United Automobile Workers, United Mine Workers of America and other key unions explained.

Those recommendations include a call for an end to the race-to-the-bottom compromises of the past. Specifically, the unions argued in November that the new trade deal needed to require the Mexican government to agree to labor inspections that "will free Mexican workers to challenge protection contracts."

"The situation of (Mexican) workers can only be improved when they have the right to join together freely for collective action," argued the labor leaders from the U.S., who highlighted the need for workplace inspections to ensure that the rights of Mexican workers are respected.

"If an agreement that falls short in these critical areas is considered," the letter from the union leaders announced that "the unions of the IUC will unfortunately have no choice except to oppose its adoption."

The unions were highlighting a critical issue for workers on both sides of the border. If Mexican workers cannot organize strong unions, bargain collectively and, where necessary, strike, then multinational corporations will continue to move plants to regions where wages are low, benefits are few, and workplace protections are nonexistent.

This is a basic truth of trade negotiations, which Kasten glossed over in his attack on Democrats for demanding a better deal. If Pelosi and Pocan and the Democrats had folded their hand and done Trump's bidding when Kasten wanted them to, the USMCA deal would have repeated the mistakes of the past.

So negotiations have continued. A week after Kasten wrote his dishonest column, The Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 3 that Mexico's leaders and negotiators were still resisting the necessary protections and guarantees. Indeed , the Journal noted, "Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador said Mexico opposes workplace inspections," and explained, "Opposition in Mexico puts the new North American trade accord at risk of not passing before the 2020 U.S. election."

That was the reality of the negotiations at the time Kasten was writing. By Tuesday of this week, the Trump administration and House Democrats were talking up a tentative agreement that includes many of the protections that were missing when Kasten wrote his column.

If we have learned anything from decades of trade negotiations, and from decades of bad deals, it is to demand that guarantees for labor rights in the U.S., Mexico and other countries be spelled out in trade pacts. And if we have learned anything else, it is not to trust the likes of Bob Kasten.

(c) 2019 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.

Running Out Of Good Air To Breathe
By James Donahue

If you have any sense of the world around you, there must be an awareness that something isn't quite right about the air we are breathing. More and more people are suffering with lung diseases like asthma and emphysema, and even those of us who think we are healthy, are beginning to have trouble getting enough air when we are outside working hard or exercising.

We presently live in an area in North America where we believe the air is about as pure as any you can find in the world. And yet we are shocked to notice that there is a faint grey film on everything around us. It can be found on the leaves, on park benches, and on the surface of the car we washed only the day before.

A jog along a wooded trail in our area quickly leaves us huffing and puffing to get our breath. It is as if there isn't enough oxygen in the air, or we are inhaling something foreign that is preventing our lungs from properly extracting the oxygen our bodies need from the air.

We believe the latter is true. Something sinister is in the air.

There has been a lot of talk these days about toxic gasses from cars and the world industries that are causing global warming. But it is more than just the carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gasses spewing from the industrial smoke stacks of our coal burning factories and electric generating plants.

There also is the soot. It hangs in the air in particles so tiny it cannot be seen by the naked eye. And it is so light it can remain suspended in the air for months, if not years, before it reaches the ground.

These particles consist of residue from burning coal, oil and wood, plus industrial emissions including mercury, dust, haze and ozone from not only the factories but forest fires, volcanic eruptions and the millions of engines operating cars, trucks, trains, buses, ships and aircraft.

As other nations of the world, especially China, India, and Brazil, rush into the industrialized age, they are burning fossil fuels and the smokestacks of these factories are spewing toxic material unabated. Unlike the United States, these countries do not have clean air laws that force industries to install scrubbers on those smoke stacks. Thus the poison that they are putting into the air is getting blown in the winds around the globe.

It is confirmed that the polluted dust clouds from China and India drift over the United States, and the poison from our plants drift over Europe. The problem is global in scale. There is nowhere, even in the barren desert or the arctic, where the air is really pure.

Even our oceans are losing oxygen because of farm nutrient run-off and global warming. As more carbon dioxde is released enhancing the greenhouse effect, more head is absorbed by the oceans. The warmer the water gets the less oxygen it holds. And this is seriously affecting sea life. a general absortion of heat from global warming.

Not only this, but it is commonly known that our military is "seeding" the skies with clouds filled with minute particles of light reflecting metals including barium, aluminum and titanium. Just why the stuff is being spewed into our skies is not known, but we suspect it has military applications, or may involve experiments in weather modification. It also may be linked to the HAARP project. There are a lot of theories.

What we do know, is that all of these metallic particles are mixing with all of the other junk that is now mixed in the air we breathe. And it is getting in our lungs.

What are the consequences of all this stuff getting in our lungs?

It is known that fine particles in our lungs cause a variety of serious health problems. Fire fighters, police officers and volunteers that labored at the site of the World Trade Center ruins following the 9-11 attack are beginning to die now from severe lung problems caused by breathing in the toxic dust left in the air for months after the buildings collapsed. That is an exaggerated and speeded-up example of what is happening to the rest of us, but at a slower pace.

But we know that hospitals and doctors are seeing more and more cases of lung and heart disease, and much of it is linked directly to the inhalation of toxins in our air.

Particles can aggravate heart disease. They can bring on chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue. Particles also have been associated with cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks. They can bring on asthma, bronchitis, induce coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, wheezing and shortness of breath. They increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.

Some particles, such as asbestos as found in the air around the World Trade Center ruins, and the barium dumped by the military into the skies over our head, are known carcinogens. When they get in the lungs, cancer can result.

So what can we do about this problem?

Until the government, military and industrial leaders of the world wake up and stop polluting our air, citizens are relatively defenseless. It is not recommended that we do strenuous exercising or labor out in the open air now without wearing some kind of protective mask.

The best place to work out is now indoors, where we can be surrounded by some very good air purification equipment. Fortunately, and perhaps because some intelligent people saw this coming and did a good job of producing it, we have technology available that pulls those dangerous particles out of the air and gives us safe air to breath.

But we have to stay indoors and keep this equipment operating to stay healthy.

Ironically, unless we are privately hooked up to alternative energy sources we must use the electricity from that coal burning and polluting power plant a few miles down the road to run this equipment.

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

Nancy Pelosi stands alongside other house democrats behind a podium Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi conducts a news conference on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.

Are These Two Articles Of Impeachment The Best The Democrats Can Do?
By William Rivers Pitt

When the House Democratic leadership announced on Tuesday morning that only two articles of impeachment will be charged against Donald Trump - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - I was ready to start flipping tables and punching holes in the drywall.

After everything that has transpired in the three years since that wad of pub cheese first darkened the White House doorstep, after all the investigations, after entire mountain ranges of evidence have been gathered against him, these two articles are the best the Democrats can manage?

"Bribery." Say it with me, Democrats: Bry. Buh. Ree. Easy word, easy concept, and hey look, it's listed right there in the founding documents as a pointedly impeachable offense. Article II, Section IV, big as life: "The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

That is precisely what Trump did when he withheld military aid and a state visit from Ukraine. He dangled items of value in front of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for dirt on a political rival. Trump did this for one reason: to help win the 2020 presidential election, period, end of file. He should be impeached for it, specifically.

The framers of the Constitution did not include the crime of "Bribery" in Article II because they tripped over it on their way to the spittoon. They included it because bribery of an elected official is a menace to the country. In this case, bribery by an elected official to affect the outcome of an election is a menace to democracy itself.

Democrats spent the first several weeks of the impeachment investigation repeatedly describing a "quid pro quo" between Trump and Ukraine. Eventually, and wisely, they switched gears and began using more specific and accurate words like "bribery" and "extortion." On Tuesday, when the rubber met the road, "bribery" was gone, replaced by an "abuse of power" charge that is almost laughable when you consider how much power the legislative branch has willfully ceded to the executive branch over the last five decades.

"The Democrats' worry appears to be that it would then put them in the position of satisfying the statutory requirements of bribery," reports Aaron Blake for The Washington Post, "which is a valid concern. But satisfying the more nebulous 'high crimes and misdemeanors' and 'abuse of power' won't be easy, either, especially given that people are welcome to define them how they like. At least with bribery, we would know exactly what Democrats are accusing Trump of, and you could explain it in one word."


But wait, there's more! Volume II of the Mueller Report went to excruciatingly detailed lengths to describe all the ways Trump vividly obstructed justice during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Mueller himself did not believe it was his place to recommend any specific action against Trump, and the world remembers the summary-smokescreen deployed by Attorney General William Barr in an attempt to distort the facts contained in the report.

Volume II of the Mueller Report still exists despite having come to nothing in Congress, though a stunning number of Trump cronies were tried and convicted in the process of the investigation. The report was printed in clear black ink on clean paper, and remains thoroughly readable today. Mueller believed it was Congress's duty to act on the information his investigation gathered. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only three months into her new/old position, chose not to act. She could have acted on Tuesday, but again refused.

Speaker Pelosi's decision to leave Trump's brazen obstruction of justice during Mueller's investigation out of the articles of impeachment, while Mueller's starkly revelatory report has spent the last eight months gathering dust on her desk, is an astonishing act of political and legal malpractice.

Pelosi had performed admirably to this point in the process, especially given her decades-spanning reluctance to impeach demonstrably criminal Republican presidents. Once she decided it was happening, and her face was going to be the hood ornament on the impeachment bus, she has been all in to great effect. The White House obstruction she and the committee chairs have endured has been comprehensive in scope, yet despite this, the Democrats still managed to make the case for impeachment clearly and unequivocally.

And now, this. This tepid thing, this half a loaf, this overweening desire not to make anyone angry or uncomfortable, especially conservative Democrats - some of whom are already plotting to undermine the impeachment vote anyway. This is par for the course: Speaker Pelosi has been in a defensive crouch for almost 40 years now, ever since Ronald Reagan became president and the 60s-era Democratic coalition flew apart at the seams. In approving only these two soft articles, Pelosi reverted to form: When in doubt, move to the right.

Pelosi has shown flashes of steel - her government shutdown showdown with Trump, her impeachment stewardship until Tuesday morning - but funny clap-clap memes don't amount to much when you cede ground in crunch time. Tuesday was crunch time, and once again, the Democrats have chosen timidity when stouter hearts were required.

That being sadly said, the two proffered impeachment articles are not wholly without merit. During Monday's ridiculous Judiciary Committee hearing on the articles, the Democrats cut through an auditory wall of shouting Republicans with a clear and unequivocal explanation of why "abuse of power" is an impeachable offense.

"We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit," said Democratic committee attorney Daniel Goldman at the outset of the hearing. "As part of this scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts."

The "obstruction of Congress" charge is also interesting. Obstruction of Congress is a different animal than obstruction of justice; no president has ever been charged with such an offense. With this charge, Democrats appear to be trying to wrestle back some of the power that has tilted toward the executive branch over the years. At a minimum, they are laying down a marker that congressional oversight is a vital element of a functioning federal government.

It is easy enough to say that none of this matters because even though the president will almost certainly be impeached by the House, he is highly unlikely to be convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate. What's the point of getting all kerfuffled over the contents of the impeachment articles if they are all but guaranteed to come to nothing? They may as well draft an article accusing Trump of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby for all the good it will do, right?

To this, I say: It matters because the definition of "integrity" is doing the right thing even in the face of certain failure.

The political makeup of the Senate is no excuse for House Democrats to go floppy at the finish line. Donald Trump forced this impeachment upon us all when he attempted to bribe an ally. His serial criminality and self-dealing, going back to the Mueller investigation and well before, made impeachment an inescapable constitutional necessity. Finishing strong, with a proper slate of impeachment articles, would have planted a flag that history would never forget, regardless of the outcome in the Senate.

The House could have done these articles of impeachment right. Instead, they did the minimum when the moment called for more. Those who don't perceive the difference just might be part of the problem.

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

David Suzuki Foundation's new CliMate conversation coach is designed to help people
through difficult but important conversations about climate disruption and its solutions.

Navigating Difficult Climate Conversations
By David Suzuki

The facts of the climate crisis aren't in dispute. We know the planet is heating at an unnaturally rapid rate, mostly because humans are wastefully burning fossil fuels and destroying natural areas like forests and wetlands that store carbon, putting human health and survival at risk.

Yet, as many of us prepare to break bread with family and friends during the holiday season, some dread the polarizing conversations that can arise. Many of us have listened to someone confidently assert that climate change is a hoax or that it's no big deal. How do we talk to them? Should we bother?

Although most people know the climate emergency is serious and needs addressing immediately, we're all in denial to some extent. For those in the know, it's partly what allows us to go about our days. The difficult, frightening reality is that humanity continues to rapidly develop and burn fossil fuels, pushing atmospheric greenhouse gases to their highest concentrations in three to five million years - when global temperatures were 2 to 3 C warmer, sea levels were 10 to 20 metres higher and our species didn't yet exist!

Confronting these facts isn't easy, but not paying them enough heed over the past few decades has stalled action that could have prevented upheaval. We're now at a point where further delays could spell disaster.

"Talking is the most important thing we can do and it does make a difference!" climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe argues. But how do we do that? It's a difficult subject even for those who study it. And many people feel they don't know enough to discuss it. Others have been misled by massive industry-funded campaigns, supported by politicians and media, to downplay or deny the evidence.

Hayhoe says we shouldn't argue about science with those who dismiss it, but rather, we should be "connecting the dots to why it matters to us and what we and other people are already doing to fix it."

Technology is increasingly helping people cut though polarization on subjects ranging from U.S. politics to climate. The David Suzuki Foundation's new CliMate conversation coach is designed to help people through difficult but important conversations about climate disruption and its solutions.

CliMate, on Facebook Messenger, allows users - regardless of their position on climate change - to move through a conversation with possible questions and responses, offering feedback to help people find common ground and shared values. It's not about winning a debate but about reducing polarization and cultivating empathy - based on a growing body of evidence about the best ways to make progress on contentious subjects.

People aren't always swayed by facts, evidence and reason, as important as they are. Some even argue we're in a post-truth era! Research shows emotional language can be more compelling. And many people trust peers, family and loved ones more than they trust scientists, experts and environmental organizations, so anyone who cares about resolving the climate crisis can make a difference.

"The key to persuasive political dialogue is creating a safe, and welcoming space for diverse views with a compassionate spirit, active listening and personal storytelling," Karen Tamerius and David Campt write in the New York Times, describing their Angry Uncle Bot, designed to help people discuss U.S. politics. Sharing stories is especially important.

People relate more easily to others' experiences of pollution-related health issues, or dealing with wildfires or flooding, than statistics and evidence. You don't have to be an expert to have good conversations. Talk about what you know and have experienced, and ask others about their experiences. Above all, avoid trying to score points or make others look stupid.

It can be difficult. Some people refuse to accept climate science, despite massive evidence showing climate disruption poses an existential crisis that we could overcome by acting quickly and decisively. Without significant public pressure, politicians and industry have failed to take the kinds of action needed to resolve the crisis. But as more people come together around this crisis and talk about it, we can convince our elected representatives to prioritize the health of the planet and its people, including those yet to be born, over short-term, often harmful economic interests.

Here's to good conversations this holiday season!

(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

U.S. Marines Continue Suppression Of Insurgents

I Just Can't Believe We Went Down This Road Again
The Afghanistan Papers have exposed that we truly learned nothing from Vietnam.
By Charles P. Pierce

Everything is so screwed up at this point that it's hard to find anything about our politics or our government that doesn't look like it was designed by an unholy hybrid of Edsel Ford and Mr. Natural. Ever since we opened the shebeen, we have had one simple question about the continuing United States military involvement in Afghanistan, in which it has been involved longer than it ever has been involved anywhere else-namely, what exactly are we still doing there?

So, last week, the Washington Post published the equivalent of The Pentagon Papers in which we learn that all or most of our leaders for the past decade and a half don't know either, but that they were not any more inclined to share that with us than were McNamara, and Abrams, and the rest of those guys back in the 1960s.

"We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan - we didn't know what we were doing," Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House's Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: "What are we trying to do here? We didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking." "If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction ... 2,400 lives lost," Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. "Who will say this was in vain?"
Or, as was said by a certain former Democratic candidate for president, how do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake?

An Afghan National Army soldier fires an artillery shell during an anti-Taliban operation at Farah province in 2018.

This has been a bipartisan cock-up right from jump. None of the three administrations involved in it comes out of this report looking like people you'd trust to wash your car. One trillion bucks and climbing, and what have we learned? Basically, that we haven't learned anything. It took the Post three years to pry these documents loose (and there's nothing that Post editor Marty Baron likes better than prying documents loose-just ask the Archdiocese of Boston), and we find that the old Vietnam Syndrome wasn't kicked very far during our walkover wars in the 1980s and 1990s.
The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting. Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul - and at the White House - to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.

"Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible," Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. "Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone." John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to The Post that the documents show "the American people have constantly been lied to."

Frankly, and maybe it's because I persist in believing that the activism of the 1960s actually accomplished something lasting, I can't believe that we've gone down this road again. Hell, we've made hit movies about the Pentagon Papers. That was a watershed. Everybody learned a lesson from those documents, right?

And, of course, the most damning thing about these revelations is that they vanished from the media almost immediately, lost in the din of the barely organized crazy that this administration has brought to Washington. This was a monumental scoop, the result of dogged work by the entire news operation of the Washington Post, and most people know far more about Giuliani's insane overseas ramblings than know anything about the archived failure and waste present here.

"We don't invade poor countries to make them rich," James Dobbins, a former senior U.S. diplomat who served as a special envoy to Afghanistan under Bush and Obama, told government interviewers. "We don't invade authoritarian countries to make them democratic. We invade violent countries to make them peaceful and we clearly failed in Afghanistan."
Everything is awful.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"If you're a Republican, just imagine what you would have done if Obama slept with a porn star months after Michelle gave birth to Malia, paid hush money to the porn star, and lied to America about doing so."
~~~ Ed Krassenstein


Key Step To Clean Up Vieques Survives In Catastrophically Awful Military Bill
By David Swanson

First the good news.

If one of the worst pieces of legislation ever drafted becomes law, there is one small measure in it that we can be pleased with. and World BEYOND War and many other organizations and activists from Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States and beyond urged Congress through a petition and a variety of lobbying approaches to provide $10 million for the purchase of closed detonation chambers in the clean-up of military contamination in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

This was one of dozens of positive measures passed by the House of Representatives but not by the Senate. Unlike most such measures, this one survived the "compromise" between the two versions of the bill.

The bombing practices in Vieques ended in 2003. But this other "bombing," open-air detonation under the guise of "cleanup," has continued. We asked Congress to put an end to OB/OD (open burning/open detonation) of munitions, which releases toxins into the environment and sickens the local population. Led by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, members of Congress managed to make this one item stick.

For once Puerto Rico gets possibly the only thing good in a stinker of a potential law.

You won't find the bit about this in the final text of the bill if you search for "Vieques," but will if you search for "detonation" or any of the words in this section:

"SEC. 378. DETONATION CHAMBERS FOR EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL. (a) IN GENERAL. - The Secretary of the Navy shall purchase and operate a portable closed detonation chamber and water jet cutting system to be deployed at a former naval bombardment area located outside the continental United States that is part of an active remediation program using amounts made available for environmental restoration, Navy. Upon a determination by the Secretary of the Navy that the chamber has completed the mission of destroying appropriately sized munitions at such former naval bombardment area, the Secretary may deploy the chamber to another location. (b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.-There is authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2020 $10,000,000 to carry out subsection (a)."
Now for the bad news.

While $10 million sounds like a lot to you or me, it's just a bit more than 0.001 percent of the $783 billion being thrown into wars and war preparations in this bill.

The budget President Trump proposed to Congress for 2020 included $718 billion for the U.S. military, not counting "Homeland Security," nuclear weapons in the "Energy" Department, or the military expenses of other departments and agencies, totaling well over 60% of federal discretionary spending for wars and preparations for more wars.

Congress is about to vote on a bill to give the Pentagon even more than Trump proposed: $738 billion. And, while corporate media outlets are conspicuously not shouting "But how are you going to pay for it?" the trade-offs couldn't be more stark. Tiny fractions of this funding could end starvation or the lack of clean water globally. A bit larger fraction could begin to address the real danger of climate collapse - a danger significantly exacerbated by militarism.

Not only is this bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a disaster, but virtually all of the positive measures that were in the version passed by the House have now been stripped out by a Conference Committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions.

The House version of the bill, passed earlier this year, contained the following measures now entirely removed (this is a very partial list):

repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. prohibition of military force in or against Iran. prohibition of giving support to or participating in the war on Yemen. prohibition of funding for missiles noncompliant with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. support for extending the New START Treaty. requirement that the U.S. military provide Congress with the national security benefits of every foreign military base or foreign military operation. requirement for the EPA to designate all PFAS (chemicals with which military bases poison ground water) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
The House seems to have compromised with the Senate by surrendering virtually across the board.

This bill is unacceptable. It makes the chances of more wars and of nuclear war greater.

Click here to say No right now. It's urgent!

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

The Dead Letter Office-

In his spare time, Mike likes to get drunk, and go driving.

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Crapo,

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 opposition to a bi-partison bill that gives sanctions to Russia if they interfere in our elections, 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 12-31-2019. We salute you Herr Crapo, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

The Media Is Down In The Gutter With Trump
By Ted Rall

How you respond to an attack defines you. Keep your cool, remain civil and others will respect the way you handle yourself, even if they disagree with you. Lower yourself to your assailant's level and-at best-spectators will dismiss your dispute as a he-said-she-said between two jerks.

So much has been written about Donald Trump's debasement of rhetorical norms and his gleeful contempt for truth that there is no need to cite examples or quote studies that count the prolificacy of his lies. Trump's attacks on journalists-"fake news," mocking a disabled reporter's body movements-are contemptible. They undermine citizens' trust in news media, a serious menace to democracy and civil society.

Less noticed is how major news organizations, incensed by the president's trolling, have debased themselves to Trump's moral level.

American journalism used to adhere to strict standards. Though impossible to achieve, objectivity was paramount. At bare minimum, reporters were expected to project an appearance of political neutrality.

Truth only derived from facts-verifiable facts. Not conjecture and never wishful thinking. Sources who wanted to be quoted had to go on the record. Anonymous sources could flesh out background but could not be the entire basis for a story.

From the start of Trump's run for president-before the start-Democratic-leaning media outlets abandoned their own long-cherished standards to declare war on him. Every day during the 2016 campaign The New York Times led its coverage with its forecast of Hillary Clinton's supposed odds of defeating Trump. Setting aside the fact of the Times' embarrassing wrongness-the day before Election Day they gave Clinton an 85% chance of winning-it cited odds rather than polls. Maximizing a sense of Clintonian inevitability was intended to demoralize Republicans so they wouldn't turn out to vote. The two figures might suggest the same thing. But 85-15 odds look worse than a 51-49 poll.

It's downright truthy. And when truthiness goes sideways it makes you look really, really dumb. 51-49 could go either way. 85-15, not so much.

The impeachment battle marks a new low in partisanship among media outlets.

After Trump's surprise-to-those-who'd-never-been-to-the-Rust-Belt win, outlets like the Times declared themselves members of a so-called "Resistance." Opinion columnists like Charles M. Blow pledged never to "normalize" Trumpism; what this has meant, ironically, is that Blow's essays amount to rote recitations on the same topic: normally, about the argument that Trump sucks. Which he does. There are, however, other issues to write about, such as the fact that we are all doomed. It would be nice to hear Blow's opinions about taxes, militarism and abortion.

Next came years-years!-of Robert Muellerpalooza. Russia, corporate media outlets said repeatedly, had "meddled" in the 2016 election. Vladimir Putin installed Trump; Hillary Clinton's snubbing of her party's 72%-progressive base had nothing to do with the loss of the most qualified person blah blah blah to an inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Whatever happened to the journalistic chestnut: if your mother says she loves you, check it out? Russiagate wasn't a news report. It was religious faith. Russia fixed the election because we, the media, say so, we say so because we were told to say so by politicians, who were told to say so by CIA people, whose job is to lie and keep secrets. No one checked out anything. What we knew and still know is that a Russia-based troll farm spent either $100,000 or $200,000 on Facebook ads to generate clickbait. Most of those ads were apolitical. Many were pro-Clinton. The company has no ties to the Russian government. It was a $6.8 billion election; $200,000 couldn't have and didn't move the needle.

Anonymous Congressional sources told reporters that anonymous intelligence agents told them that there was more. The Mueller Report implies as much. But no one went on the record. No original or verifiable copies of documentary evidence has been leaked. The report's numerous citations are devoid of supporting material. By pre-Trump journalistic standards Russiagate wasn't a story any experienced editor would print.

It was barely an idea for a story.

Russiagate fell apart so decisively that Democratic impeachers now act like the Mueller Report-a media obsession for three years-never even happened.

Speaking of impeachment, mainstream media gatekeepers are so eager to see Trump removed from office that they're violating another cardinal rule of journalism: if it's news, print it. The identity of the CIA "whistleblower" (scare quotes because actual whistleblowers reveal truths that hurt their bosses) who triggered impeachment over Trump's menacing phone call to the president of Ukraine has been known in Washington, and elsewhere if you know where to look, for months.

Federal law prohibits the government from revealing his identity, and rightly so. But it has leaked. It's out. It's news. Nothing in the law or journalistic custom prevents a media organization from publishing it. News outlets felt no compulsion to similarly protect the identity of Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden. So why aren't newspapers and broadcast networks talking about it?

"I'm not convinced his identity is important at this point, or at least important enough to put him at any risk, or to unmask someone who doesn't want to be identified," New York Times editor Dean Baquet said. So much for the people's right to know. Why should subscribers buy a newspaper that doesn't print the news?

There is a because-Trump change in media ethics that I welcome. What's suspect is the timing.

Trump is the first president to get called out for his lies right in the news section. Great! Imagine how many lives could have been saved by a headline like "Bush Repeats Debunked Falsehood That Iraq Has WMDs." A headline like "Slurring Sanders' Numerous Female Supporters as 'Bros,' Hillary Clinton Lies About Medicare-for-All" could have nominated and elected Bernie and saved many Americans from medical bankruptcy.

But all presidents lie. Why pick on Trump? His lies are (perhaps) more numerous. But they're no bigger than his predecessors (see Iraq WMDs, above). Yet discussion of former presidents remains respectful and slavish as ever.

I say, give coverage of Obama and other ex-presidents the same tone and treatment as the current occupant of the White House gets from the news media:

"Wallowing in Corrupt Wall Street Cash, Obama Drops $11.75 Million on Gaudy Martha's Vineyard Mansion Estate"

"Ellen DeGeneres Sucks Up to Mass Murderer George W. Bush"

"Jimmy Carter, First Democratic President to Not Even Bother to Propose an Anti-Poverty Program, Dead at TK"
(c) 2019 Ted Rall, is the author of the new books "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," and "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is

The American Geophysical Union Convention: 27,000 Nerds -- And Me
By Jane Stillwater

How far am I actually willing to go in order to score free chocolate chip cookies? Good question. Exactly how much torture am I willing to endure? Math has always been torture for me. STEM is my worst nightmare. And yet here I am, in San Francisco, actually surrounded by whole regiments of science freaks! And yet, here's me -- actually having a good time.

Even though the event is mostly sponsored by Google, Lockheed-Martin, Amazon and Chevron.

But still and all, I'm learning some really interesting stuff. And they feed us here for free too. Clam chowder, Vietnamese salad and beer. "Gots any wine?" I asked. Uh, no. Most of these 27,000 nerds are basically grad students and twenty-something STEMers, apparently hoping to land their first (or next) job. Tired of working for Uber. Definitely not a wine-drinking crowd. But they are so cute -- with their pocket protectors, electronic gadgets and nerdware. Gotta love them.

However, a lot of these 27,000 nerds are going to invent things someday -- really important things, things that will hopefully save our lives and our planet within the next ten years.

The first seminar I went to here talked about how Jules Verne had influenced the space race. Who knew.

The next seminar was given by panel members who talked about the various ways that the federal government has tried to discourage and intimidate any discussion by them regarding our current climate crisis -- but how, heroes that they all are, they risked their jobs and their future to try to make Congress aware that corporate America is playing with fire. "The fire next time." Literally.

Did you know that 97% of our climate crisis is caused by human activity? That climate change in our national parks has doubled the temperatures there as compared to the rest of the country? That wildfires have also doubled? That carbon dioxide is now at the highest level it has ever been since the dinosaurs went extinct? That American Natives are ten times more likely than the rest of us to have an oil pipeline forced onto their land? Hell, even I can do that kind of math.

Afterward I talked with one American Native presenter who had a PhD. "How did that happen?" I asked him.

"For over a hundred and fifty years, our tribe has valued education above all," he replied, "as a way to get out of our rut of defenselessness and poverty." Ah. Like how Palestinians also value education -- and why their universities are constantly under attack, sometimes literally. And, as another presenter mentioned, why America has now become a diseased combination of First and Third worlds.

"Americans are either wealthy conspicuous consumers who think nothing of dropping half-a-million dollars in order to fly out into space with Elon Musk, Jeff Besos or Richard Branson -- or else they are just America's existential field hands."

Up next at the convention? After lunch, Michael Bloomberg is gonna try to explain to us how and why he suddenly became a Democrat and Man of the People. Good luck with that one, Mike.

PS: Getting a press pass to the AGU convention was extremely hard. The press liaison kept asking me, "But do you work for a major publication?" Who me? Definitely not. If you are a reporter for the New York Times, say, then you gotta tow the corporate line, right? Sorry, guys, but they don't want me -- and I don't want them either. However. Will still work for chocolate chip cookies!

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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Dan Wasserman ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

President Donald Trump

Trump Named Person Of The Year By Popular Sociopath Magazine
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-For the third year in a row, Donald J. Trump has been named Person of the Year by the magazine Popular Sociopath, the publication announced on Thursday.

"Once a year, we at Popular Sociopath recognize the person who best epitomizes sociopathic-personality disorder, which manifests in antisocial behavior and a total absence of conscience and concern for others," Harland Dorrinson, the magazine's editor, said. "We are delighted to bestow this honor, once again, on Donald J. Trump."

Dorrinson said that Trump bested a daunting roster of competitors for the title, including the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell; the Fox News host Tucker Carlson; and Trump's own son Donald J. Trump, Jr.

"Honestly, though, it wasn't close," the editor said.

When asked if he had reached out to his son since surpassing him for the magazine's honor, Trump told reporters, "Why would I do that? I don't care what he thinks or feels. This is all about me. What a stupid question. You're worthless."

(c) 2019 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 51 (c) 12/20/2019

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