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In This Edition

Norman Solomon proofreads, "From The Desk Of Pete Buttigieg (corrected)."

Ralph Nader says, "Comparing Republican With Democratic Party Energy Levels: No Contest."

Jesse Jackson gives, "The True Meaning Of Christmas In The Age Of Pandemic And Austerity."

Jim Hightower remembers his, "Daddy's Philosophy."

William Rivers Pitt asks, "What Will Trump Attempt In His Last Days? We Must Prepare For Anything."

John Nichols says, "Good Riddance To Robert E. Lee."

James Donahue tells, "The Jesus Story. . . A Cruel Hoax On Humanity."

Dan Rather returns with, "And Here We Are."

David Suzuki concludes, "We Have The Power To Create A Brighter Future."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "This Is The Most Criminal Dereliction Of Duty In the History Of The American Presidency."

Juan Cole reports, "Everyday War Crimes: Israeli PM Netanyahu Gets Covid Vaccine, Squatters Get Vaccine, But Not Occupied Palestinians."

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich says, "Trickle-Down Economics Doesn't Work But Build-Up Does - Is Biden Listening?"

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "The Dangerous Fantasy Of Hope Rooted In Self-Delusion."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "No Social Distancing, No Sick Pay: Elves Criticise Working Conditions At North Pole," but first Uncle Ernie exclaims, "One Way, Or The Other, January 20th Will Certainly Be An Interesting Day!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Manny Francisco, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Scott Olson, Zach Gibson, Narayan Maharjan, Apollo 8, Jabin Botsford , Brendan Smialowski, Doug Mills, Cheriss May, Kobe Michaels, YouTube Screengrab, Justin Sullivan, The Washington Post, 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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One Way, Or The Other, January 20th Will Certainly Be An Interesting Day!
By Ernest Stewart

"So when they hear that the president is open to this idea of martial law, we may see certain groups mobilizing to commit acts that, in their minds, a justification for the use of the Insurrection Act." ~~~ Elizabeth Neumann ~ former assistant secretary of Homeland Security.

"The variability of the La Nina / El Nino cycle is the second most important factor in determining the Earth's temperature but it is simply dwarfed by the forcing effect of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." ~~~ Dr. Nick Dunstone

"I support Donald Trump because he stands for security, prosperity and liberty." ~~~ US con-gressman Mo Brooks

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

Lying Donald is beginning to really lose it, reality that is, as January 20th rapidly approaches. That's the day that Lying Donald will be open to various lawsuits and prosecutions for his many crimes that may lead him to a prison cell! He's been grasping at straws. One of those straws is one provided by Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama to challenge President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory when Congress meets to formally ratify it on January 6. Trump met with Brooks and a number of other fascist House lawmakers at the White House on Monday for a discussion focused on the President's baseless claims and conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him, participants said.

The lawmakers emerged confident that there was a contingent of House and Senate Republicans who would join the effort and prompt a marathon debate on the floor on January 6 that would spill into the next day.

"I believe we have multiple senators and the question is not if but how many," Brooks said, something that would defy the wishes of Senate Republican leaders, who are eager to move on and are urging senators not to participate since doing so could force them to cast a politically toxic vote against Trump.

In his moments of deepest denial, Trump has told some advisers that he will refuse to leave the White House on Inauguration Day. If so I look forward to his "perp Walk," don't you?

Lying Donald's also looking into the Insurrection Act to declare martial law. You may recall that the Insurrection Act of 1807 is a United States federal law that empowers the President of the United States to deploy U.S. military and federalised National Guard troops within the United States in particular circumstances, such as to suppress civil disorder, insurrection, and rebellion. However, Lying Donald will not use it to suppress but to encourage his minions a.k.a. The Proud Boys, and the like, to cause murder and mayhem throughout America!

One way, or the other, January 20th will certainly be an interesting day!

In Other News

I see where according to the New York Times there some laws in bills that can help with global warming. "Congressional negotiators inserted a bipartisan measure to curtail planet-warming chemicals used in air-conditioners and refrigerators in the huge government spending and coronavirus relief package that is expected to head to President Trump's desk on Monday.

The legislation would be the first significant climate change law to pass Congress since at least 2009.

Also riding on the larger package is a separate bill to promote renewable energy by directing about $35 billion in existing government spending toward the development of wind, solar and other clean energy sources over the next five years.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called the bill to reduce planet-warming chemicals "the single biggest victory in the fight against climate change to pass this body in a decade."

Sure it's not much, but it is a step in the right direction for a change! That Lying Donald will actually sign these bills is a small miracle in itself!

We may get another break in 2021 as the La Nina weather phenomenon will see temperatures edge down but greenhouse gases will remain the biggest influence.

Researchers say the world will likely be around 1C warmer than the pre-industrial era.

Still it will be the seventh year in a row close to or above this mark.

The Earth's temperature for 2021 will likely be between 0.91C and 1.15C above what they were in the years from 1850-1900 with a central estimate of 1.03C

The 2021 forecast is slightly lower than in recent years, due to the onset of the La Nina event in the tropical Pacific.

A La Nina or "the little girl" develops when strong winds blow the warm surface waters of the Pacific away from South America and towards the Philippines.

This causes colder waters from deep in the ocean to come up to the surface.

It is expected to reduce sea-surface temperatures by 1-2C and will likely do enough to prevent 2021 from setting a new high mark, or not, because we no longer have normal El Ninas

"The global temperature for 2021 is unlikely to be a record year due to the influence of the current La Nina, but it will be far warmer than other past La Nina years such as 2011 and 2000 due to global warming," said Prof Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Meteorological Office.

And Finally

Former Vidkun Quisling Award winner Mo Brooks an Alabama Rethuglican is worthy of this award yet again! For most once was enough but Mo who many feel is crazier than Lying Donald wants to over turn The Electoral College come January 6th. Joining Mo in this madness is Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.)

Tuberville indicated that he thinks the Senate should support a challenge to the results of the Electoral College, which certified President-elect Joe Biden's victory this week.

Tuberville suggested he would back a challenge Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) has vowed to bring against the vote. If a senator joins Brooks, it would require the House and Senate to debate and then vote on the issue. Trouble with this theory is that Tuberville won't be seated until January 20th.

"You see what's coming. You've been reading about it in the House. We're going to have to do it in the Senate," Tuberville said in the video taken by liberal activist Lauren Windsor at a rally for Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) in Georgia.

This will never happen because the House is controlled by the Democrats and both the House and the Senate would have to agree and that's not going to happen, so Mo is just waisting our time but does manage to win this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

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12-03-1933 ~ 12-19-2020
Thanks for the film!

12-10-1941 ~ 12-20-2020
Thanks for the music!

10-22-1945 ~ 12-23-2020
Thanks for the music!

07-12-1925 ~ 12-23-2020
Thanks for the read!


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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.

Pete gives the corporate salute!

From The Desk Of Pete Buttigieg (corrected)
By Norman Solomon

Being a careful proofreader, I provided some volunteer assistance to Mayor Pete:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Pete Buttigieg
Date: Wed, Dec 16, 2020
Subject: Thank you

From the desk of PETE BUTTIGIEG

Hi there,

Earlier today I stood on stage with President-elect Biden, where I was humbled to be paid off by being nominated to serve our nation as Secretary of Transportation.

Of course, as I look forward to taking on this new challenge and serving some of my most devoted paymasters on Wall Street, I can't help but reflect for a moment on the road we've traveled together to block the big, bad socialist, Bernie Sanders - and to feel a deep sense of gratitude for this community of supporters and especially for the corporate elites who made my presidential campaign so strong.

Whether you joined back when we were four people working out of a tiny office in downtown South Bend or signed up last week - to everyone who has been a part of this effort, talking to your family and friends, posting on social media, or chipping in when you could - I want to say thank you for ignoring my corkscrew double talk about health care and my overall misuse of my prodigious intellect to pander in highly circuitous ways.

Through it all, we've stuck to our Rules of the Road, well aware that the path to Pennsylvania Avenue power requires sucking up to corporate power - and Chasten and I are so grateful for the kindness you've shown to us at each step. You've proven that a politics built around who we can call to our side, where everyone can find belonging, isn't just possible - it's here. My solidarity with Amy and Beto to support Joe at the crucial moment is paying huge dividends.

Below are my remarks from today's event. And I wanted you to know I'm looking forward to when our paths will cross again when I try once again to bamboozle the public into believing I'm highly principled as I seek higher office and to seeing all the ways I know you will stay involved to help win the era to come - and to generate ever more creative propaganda from the "center" that has gotten us into calamitous situations that now afflict so many people in our nation.



(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."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference with Senate Minority
Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the U.S. Capitol January 25, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Comparing Republican With Democratic Party Energy Levels: No Contest
Just under 400,000 votes, in the six battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, gave Biden his Electoral College victory! Democrats wake up!
By Ralph Nader

The Republican and Democratic Parties have been evaluated in many ways but not often by the standard of sheer energy levels. Compare the ferocious drive by Trump, Republican Senators and Representatives, Attorneys General, and Governors in promoting, with baseless allegations and buckets of lies, overturning the presidential election. Of the more than 50 election lawsuits filed by Trump's Republican allies, almost all of them have been promptly thrown out of court.

The wildly frivolous efforts by Trump and his cronies have provoked a rare public letter, signed by over 1,500 lawyers, including past presidents of bar associations, urging disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers representing craven Republican operatives in their attempted electoral coup. (See:

Even after the Electoral College voted on December 14, 2020, to declare Joe Biden the winner, the Trumpsters are continuing their reckless fanaticism. Extreme Trumpster Congressman Mo Brooks (D-AL) plans to lead a move on January 6, 2020, to demand that the House and the Senate refuse to certify the Electoral College decision.

Now let's go back to the George Bush/Al Gore presidential election in 2000, where there were real shenanigans. It all came down to Florida's electoral votes, notwithstanding Al Gore winning the national popular vote by about 500,000. Thousands of people were prevented from voting because they had names similar to the names of ex-felons who were purged from the voting rolls.

Ari Berman's Nation magazine article, "How the 2000 Election in Florida Led to a New Wave of Voter Disenfranchisement" reports: "If 12,000 voters were wrongly purged from the rolls, and 44 percent of them were African-American, and 90 percent of African-Americans voted for Gore, that meant 4,752 black Gore voters-almost nine times Bush's margin of victory-could have been prevented from voting." According to Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper, "The felon lists were compiled by Database Technologies Inc., now part of ChoicePoint Inc., an Atlanta-based company. In 1998, DBT won a $4 million contract from the Florida secretary of state's office to cross-check the 8.6 million names registered to vote in the state with law enforcement and other records." Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's brother Jeb Bush was Florida's governor during this horrendous disenfranchisement.

There were also deceptively confusing ballot designs in three Florida counties that tricked voters into voting for the wrong candidates.

And there was the judicial coup d'etat stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, led by Republican Justice Antonin Scalia that blocked the ongoing statewide recount ordered by Supreme Court of Florida which would have awarded the state and the election to Al Gore.

Democrats meekly accepted this whole sordid episode, apart from their lawsuit. Vice-president Al Gore, presiding over the U.S. Senate rejected pleas from House Democrats to challenge the Electoral College certification. Al Gore had already accepted arguably the most blatantly, politically partisan Supreme Court decision "selecting" George W. Bush on December 12, 2000.

The 2004 presidential contest, between George Bush and John Kerry, came down to the swing state of Ohio. By 118,601 thousand votes, the Republican Secretary of State awarded the state to Bush/Cheney. There were, in the days before the election, claims of Republican skullduggery, including voting place irregularities, obstructions of voters, and flaws in proprietary software used in the vote-counting process. Kerry's vice-presidential running mate, Senator John Edwards begged Kerry not to immediately concede and to wait for more revelations. But Kerry threw in the towel the day after the election.

Civic leaders in Ohio took their concerns about electoral wrongdoings to the veteran lawmaker, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who held public, unofficial House hearings on the subject. It was too late to change anything, but the hearings did cast a shadow over the GOP which the establishment Democrats quickly forgot about.

In 2009, the Fox Television-driven launch of the Tea Party movement, having more than 350,000 engaged volunteers, roiled the back-home town meetings of Republican members of Congress and secured a clenched-teeth grip on the House of Representatives with some three dozen true believers. This small cohort, self-named the Freedom Caucus, had an outsized veto over Rep. Speaker John Boehner and eventually drove him to resign.

The seventy or eighty Progressive Caucus members in the House have scarcely generated a ripple with their demands on the House Democratic Leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Energetic, demanding Democratic resisters in the House hardly exist, whether on overdue anti-corporate crime legislation, labor law reform to remove barriers to organizing trade unions, fundamental corporate tax reform, corporate-managed "free trade," or runaway militarism.

The Progressive Caucus could not even broaden the Impeachment proceedings last November/December to include the well-documented daily violations of the Constitution by Trump (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197). There was little significant energy in the Democratic ranks when Obama won the White House and the large congressional majorities in the House and Senate in 2009-2010. The weak Democrats didn't rollback many Bush actions and continued Bush's foreign and military policies.

What accounts for the difference between the two parties? Well, the Republicans are really into their trilogy - get more tax cuts and subsidies, get even less regulatory law enforcement and keep the war machine humming. The rank-and-file Republicans also slam the Democrats on abortion, judicial nominations, immigration, and being soft on crime.

The Democrats have to themselves the bread-and-butter family economic issues, worker and environmental injustices, and addressing the meager public services, and our crumbling infrastructure. These issues should really fire up the Democrat Party base. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is controlled by smug, entrenched people living in the exclusive top one percent. Why should they exert themselves? Especially since lassitude invites more campaign money than ever before.

The national civic groups have many progressive agendas but can't find congressional sponsors that make up a determined force on Capitol Hill. When they can find somebody like Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce a bill, it is largely ignored and becomes a one-day news story release.

A junior Representative from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, through sheer willpower built a powerful political base. He toppled two Democratic House Speakers Jim Wright and Tom Foley, took over the House of Representatives in 1994, and became the House Speaker in 1995.

Senate tyrant Mitch McConnell defies red and blue state governors, mayors, federal and state lawmakers, social service groups, and overwhelming public opinion by blocking the stimulus-relief legislation for months.

What Democratic Senators or Representatives have this energy level?

It was Kevin Phillips, the big business-aware, Republican strategist and writer who years ago provided the apt metaphor: "Republicans go for the jugular, and the Democrats go for the capillaries." It is beyond troubling that the Democrats haven't increased their level of energy to confront the worst, cruelest, most corrupt, GOP in history. The delusional Trumpist Party didn't lose control of any state legislatures, held the Senate, nearly retook the House, and didn't lose one House Republican incumbent.

Just under 400,000 votes, in the six battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, gave Biden his Electoral College victory! Democrats wake up!

(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).

In this secular age, let us remember the message of Christmas. Jesus demonstrated
the astonishing power of faith, hope and charity, the importance of love.

The True Meaning Of Christmas In The Age Of Pandemic And Austerity
With the pandemic raging and millions unemployed, this Christmas will witness tears among the smiles.
By Jesse Jackson

On Friday, millions of people across the world will celebrate Christmas. Here and abroad, safety - staying home, social distancing, wearing masks, being sensible - requires limits on the gatherings and parties. Yet the bells still ring, music is in the air, lights on homes and lampposts shine, blessings are shared.

For so many, this holiday is a difficult time: the cold and hungry, those separated from families, those alone or imprisoned or sick. With the pandemic raging and millions unemployed and on the verge of eviction, this Christmas will witness tears among the smiles. Each year at this time, I use this column to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is literally the mass for Christ, marking the birth of Jesus. He was born under occupation. Joseph and Mary were ordered to go far from home to register with authorities. The innkeeper told Joseph there was no room at the inn. Jesus was born on a cold night in a stable, lying in a manger, an "at risk baby." His earthly father was a carpenter, not a prince or a banker.

Jesus was born at a time of great misery and turmoil, with his country under Roman occupation. Prophets predicted that a new Messiah was coming - a King of Kings - who would rout the occupiers and free the people.

Many expected a mighty warrior, like the superheroes of today's movies, who would mobilize an army to defeat Rome's legions. Fearing the prophecy, the Roman King Herod ordered the "massacre of the innocents," the slaughter of all boys two and under in Bethlehem and the nearby region.

Jesus confounded both Herod's fears and the peoples' fantasies. He was a man of peace, not of war. He gathered disciples, not soldiers. He began his ministry by quoting Isaiah 62:1: "The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." We will be judged, he taught us, by how we treat "the least of these," by how we treat the stranger on the Jericho Road. He called us on to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the sick, to offer aid to the refugee.

Jesus was the great liberator, but by his words and example, not by his sword. He converted rather than conquered. He accumulated no worldly wealth. He threw the moneylenders from the temple. He owned no home, no land, and had no regular paycheck. His time with us was too brief, and he was crucified for his ministry.

And yet, Jesus succeeded beyond all expectation to transform the world. The Prince of Peace, he taught us that peace is not the absence of violence; it is the presence of justice and righteousness.

These days, Christmas too often becomes a stressful holiday rather than a prayerful holy day. It is a time of sales, shopping and Santa. Yet Jesus taught us to focus on the most vulnerable among us.

This is even more vital today. Poverty is rising, not falling. Food kitchens are overwhelmed. Millions of hard-working people have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Millions more are deemed "essential workers," risking their lives for us, yet many receive the lowest pay and the fewest benefits.

And at the same time, the economy is rigged so that the very richest - the billionaires in America - have added over a trillion dollars to their fortunes in the midst of the pandemic.

Jesus praised the Good Samaritan who cared for the stranger on the Jericho Road. Yet today, racial inequities - too often structured into our institutions - continue to cost lives and waste futures. Demagogues fuel fears and hatreds of the other; harsh immigration policies - separating children from their mothers in the extreme - violate our own values. We continue to lock up more people than any nation in the world.

Ignoring the climate crisis that increasingly threatens all of God's creation now costs us daily in lives, in the destructions of extreme weather, in economic disruptions that already generate millions of refugees.

In this secular age, let us remember the message of Christmas. Jesus demonstrated the astonishing power of faith, hope and charity, the importance of love. He showed that people of conscience can make a difference, even against the most powerful oppressor. He demonstrated the strength of summoning our better angels, rather than rousing our fears or feeding our divisions. This Christmas, this surely is a message to remember.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

(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.

Daddy's Philosophy
By Jim Hightower

This holiday season got me to thinking about America's spirit of giving, and I don't mean this overdone business of Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday gifts. I mean our true spirit of giving - giving of ourselves.

Yes, we are a country of rugged individualists, yet there's also a deep, community-minded streak in each of us. We're a people who believe in the notion that we're all in this together, that we can make our individual lives better by contributing to the common good.

The establishment media pay little attention to grassroots generosity, focusing instead on the occasional showy donation by what it calls "philanthropists" - big tycoons who give a little piece of their billions to some university or museum in exchange for getting a building named after them. But in my mind, the real philanthropists are the millions of you ordinary folks who have precious little money to give, but consistently give of themselves, and do it without demanding that their name be engraved on a granite wall.

My own Daddy, rest his soul, was a fine example of this. With half a dozen other guys in Denison, Texas, he started the Little League baseball program volunteering to build the park, sponsor and coach the teams, run the squawking P.A. system, etc. etc. Even after I graduated from Little League, Daddy stayed working at it, because his involvement was not merely for his kids . . . but for all. He felt the same way about being taxed to build a public library in town. I don't recall him ever going in that building, much less checking-out a book, but he wanted it to be there for the community and he was happy to pay his part. Not that he was a do-good liberal, for God's sake - indeed, he called himself a conservative.

My Daddy didn't even know he had a political philosophy, but he did, and it's the best I've ever heard. He would often say to me, "Everybody does better when everybody does better." If only our leaders in Washington and on Wall Street would begin practicing this true American Philosophy.

(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

President Donald Trump in front of White House

What Will Trump Attempt In His Last Days? We Must Prepare For Anything.
What Trump may do in his waning days is only unthinkable if you have not been paying attention.
By William Rivers Pitt

The endgame being played out by Donald Trump, already ludicrous, has begun to verge on the damned dangerous.

The president of the United States, recently defeated in a clear-cut national election, has spent his guttering days attempting to overthrow the very government he has run so spectacularly into the ground. Specifically, and among other things, he has inquired about invoking martial law by way of the Insurrection Act.

To wit: Based upon the vapor of debunked conspiracy and the gas emanating from disgraced former General Michael Flynn, Trump should unleash the military and "rerun" the election in the battleground states he lost. According to reports, he was keenly interested in the idea.

To call this disquieting is a triumph of understatement. Trump has spent his waning days in office plowing through his toy box of legal options for upending the people's decision. His myriad lawsuits have gone nowhere - though he doggedly persists - and his attempts to muscle lower-ranking Republicans in various states have come to naught.

One could find solace in the notion that Trump is apparently running out of viable moves in this little passion play. Further comfort is obtained in the belief that this whole thing is an elaborate charade, a final grift to pad his bank account with gullible dollars until the inevitable descends on January 20.

For all we know, this is exactly the case ... but for the knowledge that Trump's biggest, meanest toys are at the bottom of that toy box, and the bottom of the box is exactly where he finds himself with less than a month to go. His niece, Mary Trump, has stated publicly that her uncle is a grand master when it comes to gaslighting himself, i.e., talking himself into believing in the preposterous if it suits his internal narrative of the heroic victim. What was once a grift, in his mind, may well have become holy writ.

Attempting to disrupt the January 6 Electoral College certification is one of the last toys in Trump's box. The Insurrection Act, martial law, is the one below that ... down at the very bottom, the last available trick after his 1/6 follies fail in Congress, which they almost surely will under direct orders from Mitch McConnell, who is by all indications so totally over this president you guys.

Trump's wrath at being thwarted by His Man In The Senate may be just enough to compel him to reach for that final toy, and if he does, there will be hell to pay.

Is it plausible, though, that Trump would dare to undertake this doomsday martial law scenario? To answer that, ask yourself how many times you've said, "He wouldn't do that, he can't!" only to see him do just that with extra "that" on the side.

Big-name national journalists certainly picked up on a deeply spooked vibe coming from a number of erstwhile Trump loyalists who were in the room when this incendiary option hit the table.

"Sources who have gotten used to Trump's eruptions over four years sound scared by what's transpired in the past week when I've talked to them," Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted on Saturday. "I've been covering Donald Trump for a while," tweeted Jonathan Swan of Axios on the same day. "I can't recall hearing more intense concern from senior officials who are actually Trump people. The Sidney Powell / Michael Flynn ideas are finding an enthusiastic audience at the top."

They aren't the only ones apparently getting nervous as the pretender-king rages on his crumbling throne. So far as history can report, no outgoing president has ever openly discussed mutiny as a means of staying in office. "On Friday," reports The Washington Post, "Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Gen. James C. McConville, the Army's top officer, released a joint statement that said: 'There is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election.'" The fact that the Army's top brass felt compelled to release such an astonishing statement is chilling to the bone.

In the face of this, soothing voices preach the gospel of calm. The military is not with him, rank and file government officials will never let it happen, he will fail if he tries.

Well and good, let us take those statements as fact. What Trump has already done to this point has radicalized the well-armed fringe of his party to the brink of violent explosion, and motivated Republican officials in various states to redouble their voter suppression efforts. He inspired 126 House Republicans to try and overthrow their own government. What he may do in the last of his waning days is only unthinkable if you have not been paying attention.

That, right there, is all by itself a deep injury to the long-term survival of the republic, and perhaps a fatal one at that. At this juncture, only time can tell the tale.

(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.

Removal of the statue in the Capitol building of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Good Riddance To Robert E. Lee
...and to "very fine people on both sides" apologias for Confederate infamy.
By John Nichols

At 4 am on Monday, in the crypt of the United States Capitol, a team of workers removed the statue of Robert E. Lee that since 1909 has represented the Commonwealth of Virginia in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Three years after neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and their white nationalist allies rioted in Charlottesville, Va., over proposals to remove a statue in that city that honored the general who commanded the Civil War forces that defended slavery, one of the most recognizable monuments to the Confederacy and its treasonous generals was removed from the citadel of American governance in Washington, D.C.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Virginia Representative Jennifer Wexton, an aide to Virginia Representative Donald McEachin, and a representative of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office stood by as the monumental image was removed. It was a "historic and long-overdue moment for our Commonwealth," said Wexton and McEachin, both Democrats, who on Monday announced, "The Robert E. Lee statue honors a legacy of division, oppression, and racism-a dark period in the history of our Commonwealth and our country. There is no reason his statue should be one of the two representing Virginia in the U.S. Capitol." Kaine posted a video of the transfer of the effigy from its place in the crypt, where statues commemorate the 13 states that were original colonies of the United States.

The removal of the Lee statue took place quietly and in the dead of night. Yet, it represented a huge victory in the struggle over historical memory.

Since the end of the Civil War, a cruel lie has been perpetuated by Southern partisans who suggested that the Confederacy was a noble "lost cause" and that Lee was an honorable man drawn into a complex struggle. That was never the case. More than 90 years ago, W.E.B. Du Bois warned against "renewed effort to canonize Robert E. Lee," writing in The Crisis:

One thing-one terrible fact-militates against this and that is the inescapable truth that Robert E. Lee led a bloody war to perpetuate slavery. Copperheads like the New York Times may magisterially declare: "of course, he never fought for slavery." Well, for what did he fight? State rights? Nonsense. The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.
Du Bois's assessment was the true one. But it was resisted in his time, and for decades afterward. To this day, President Trump perpetuates the mendacious suggestion that reasonable people can disagree about Lee's service as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until its surrender in 1865. Even after Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old advocate for racial justice, was killed in 2017 by a white supremacist who had come to Charlottesville to defend the Lee statue, President Trump was peddling nonsense about "very fine people on both sides" of the debate about honoring the Confederate general.

Trump has in recent years made himself the most prominent defender of the lie. After Joe Biden said that Trump's response to Charlottesville made him decide to bid for the presidency in 2020, Trump responded by talking up Lee as a "great general." This year, the president has defended the Confederate flag as a source of pride for Southerners, and gone so far as to propose to veto the National Defense Authorization Act to block plans to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases.

But Trump's argument is losing, as are the dead-ender defenses of the Confederacy by other Republicans. Confederate symbols are being discarded, flags are being redesigned (most recently in Mississippi), and statues are being removed. This is happening because movements have made demands, and members of city councils, legislatures, and Congress have responded. In 2017, Representative Barbara Lee of California announced, "In the wake of Charlottesville, it's abundantly clear that much work remains to root out racism from our society. Across the country, Confederate statues and monuments pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces. These hateful symbols should have no place in our society and they certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol." In 2020, she introduced the Confederate Monument Removal Act, legislation to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol, with Senator Cory Booker, who said, "There is nothing to gain from sanitizing our history-the stain of slavery and segregation will always be a part of our country's checkered past. However, it's a disservice to all Americans to venerate in the sacred space of the U.S. Capitol those who took up arms in order to tear this country apart. Confederate statues belong in a museum, not in the U.S. Capitol."

The fight to remove statues of Lee and other Confederate generals has faced hurdles. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this year, "I'm a descendant of a Confederate veteran myself. What I do think is clearly a bridge too far is this nonsense that we need to airbrush the Capitol, and scrub out anybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery." But Lee and Booker have kept reintroducing their bill, and it could get traction with the seating of a new Congress and a new administration. An original cosponsor of the bill, California Senator Kamala Harris, is now the vice president-elect of the United States. In November, Virginia voted for Harris and Biden-after a 2020 campaign in which Biden declared, "I think all those Confederate monuments to Confederate soldiers and generals, etc., who strongly supported secession and the maintenance of slavery and going to war to do it, I think those statues belong in museums. They don't belong in public places."

Even before Biden and Harris take office, Virginia has acted to set the record straight. The state's Commission for Historical Statues in the United States Capitol voted unanimously in July to recommend the removal of the Lee statue, which will now be stored at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond. The commission has recommended that Virginia's new statue in the Capitol honor civil rights icon Barbara Rose Johns, who as a 16-year-old in 1951 led a student walkout to protest segregation and overcrowding at an all-Black high school in Farmville, Va. As state Senator Louise Lucas, the chair of the commission, explained, Johns was identified as "a historical figure who represents the values of today's Virginians."

The battle for history rages on. But the arc is bending toward justice. As Virginia House of Delegates member Jeion Ward announced Monday, "As of this morning, Virginia will no longer honor the Confederacy in the halls of the United States Capitol."

(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.

The Jesus Story. . . A Cruel Hoax On Humanity
By James Donahue

There is political power in religion. And because the vast majority of the people in this world are caught up in one religious belief system or another, colossal fences have been erected.

These fences between religious groups have often been a force behind spiritual and physical warfare that frequently erupts. For example, the Jews and Muslims battle in the Middle East; not because of racial differences, which don't exist; but because of territory, water, and always due to the difference in the way they perceive their Creator.

The same can be said for the Catholic Irish and Protestant Irish.

Or the Catholic, Protestant and Muslim people who conduct civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And in Iraq civil wars that continue to rage among the Arab Muslim people who are Shi'ite, Sunni or Kurds, all representing different "schools" of religious thought.

The "believers" of all faiths tend to attack anyone who dares to claim that the god they bow down to is wrong, or that the way they have chosen for worship is in error. It is even worse when this personal social god is challenged by agnostics, Gnostics and people who choose other spiritual pathways.

Fortunately, there has always been a subtle thread of true spiritual teaching in existence even though this ancient spiritually enlightened brotherhood has long been driven into the shadows by bloody organized religious zealots.

The record of Gnosticism is clearly marked in blood. The great witch hunts that swept New England and Europe were an attack on a gentle people who may well have understood the reality of world beyond the veil. There also was the mass execution, enslavement and forced reformation of the American Indian. Remember the ravaging and murder of the Aztecs in Mexico. It was all done in the name of the church, which declared all people who failed to accept Jesus to be "heathen" and therefore "of the Devil."

Christianity, like the Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faith, involves fabrications of so-called gods who were said to have taken the form of man and visited Earth to enlighten the masses. The great religions that sprang from the roots of these movements have succeeded in enslaving the human race for thousands of years.

Christianity, the most recent of the cults that developed 2000 years ago, is the latest and ugliest example of a fabricated religious system to have emerged. The irony of the story is that a man named Jesus seems to have really existed. He appears to have been an enlightened teacher who came in an attempt to turn the Hebrew people away from radical and ancient forms of cult practice. He taught followers to simply love one another. He made waves within the Jewish and Roman politics of the day so he was murdered. His story was generated from a cult created by Paul that grew into perhaps that most destructive religion that world has ever known.

We can be assured that Jesus was not born of a virgin, that he never walked on water, raised the dead, or arose from his own grave once he was personally dead.

Christianity did not start with Christ. It had its origins with Paul, a man who was busy teaching an anti-Christ theology that was known in his day as Paulinism. Paul claimed to have had an encounter with the spirit of Jesus after Jesus allegedly rose from the dead. That was a lie.

Paulinism was renamed Christianity by Constantine, a Roman emperor who accepted Paul's teachings some 200 years after Jesus was gone. All of the miracles that allegedly occurred during the brief ministry of Jesus were invented by the Roman church and stolen from ancient religions that had already been in existence.

For proof of this assertion, consider the fabrication that went on in writing the Jesus story. There is, for example, strong evidence that the four Gospels were not written by the so-called apostles who studied under Jesus. All four books were written an estimated 100 to 175 years after Jesus was supposed to have been killed.

Paul wrote his letters before the Gospels were penned. Notice when you study them that he fails to mention the wonderful sermons, the magic, the virgin birth, or any of the other things that argue the deity of Jesus. Yet if Paul was a contemporary of Jesus, and really met the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, these stories should have been an important part of his ministry.

One might argue that religious zealots devoted hours working out the Jesus story, carefully building from the first book, which was the short version called the Gospel of Mark. Each gospel writer after this appears to have expanded on the Mark account until we get to the Gospel of John, which openly declares the deity of Jesus.

The Jesus story, however, was not original. It was all plagiarized in bits and pieces, and sometimes blatantly intact, from ancient god/man mythology passed down by Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Persian cultures.

For example the story of the Persian sun-god Mithra, dating back to about 1400 BC, talks about a hero born of a virgin in a stable on the winter solstice. He was attended by shepherds who brought gifts. He was said to have taken a last supper with his followers before returning to his father, the god of all. Mithra was believed not to have died, but ascended directly to heaven. Followers believed he would return at the end of time to raise the dead in a physical resurrection for a final judgment. At that time, the world will be destroyed by fire. And yes, followers of Mithra were granted immortal life following baptism.

A book titled The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ by an author who identifies herself only as Acharya S, notes many other amazing similarities between Christianity and pre-Christian mythology.

Acharya states that the Buddha also was born of a virgin, he had 12 disciples, he performed miracles, healed the sick, walked on water and fed 500 men from a small basket of cakes. The Buddha was transfigured on a mount, was crucified in a sin-atonement, suffered three days in hell and was resurrected. After this he ascended to heaven, or Nirvana. Writings refer to Buddha as the "Good Shepherd," the "carpenter" and "Savior of the World."

The Egyptian god figure Horus was said to have been born of the virgin Isis on December 25. He was born in a cave, his birth was announced by a star in the East, and he was attended by three wise men. He was a child teacher in the temple. He was baptized by Anup the Baptizer (John the Baptist?), he had 12 disciples, he performed miracles, walked on water, and raised a man named El-Azar-us from the dead. Horus also was transfigured on a mount, was crucified, buried in a tomb and resurrected. He was called a "fisher," and was associated with the Lamb, Lion and Fish.

In India, the god/man Krishna was born of a virgin, his father was a carpenter, his birth was attended by angels, wise men and shepherds, and they brought presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh. There was a ruler who attempted to destroy the infant by ordering the slaughter of thousands of babies. Krishna worked miracles and wonders, raised the dead, healed lepers, the deaf and the blind. He used parables to teach people about charity and love. He was transfigured in front of his disciples. Some stories say Krishna died on a tree or was crucified between two thieves. He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.

It is said that Constantine, who advanced the cause of Christianity by making it the official religion throughout Europe, originally followed the Mithraic cult before his conversion. The Vatican is filled with relics linking not only these two figures, but others as well.

In her book Acharya states that stored in the catacombs of the Vatican are pictures of the baby Horus being held by the virgin mother Isis - the original "Madonna and Child." She writes: "the Vatican itself is built upon the papacy of Mithra who shares many qualities with Jesus and who existed as a deity long before the Jesus character was formalized.

The Christian hierarchy is nearly identical to the Mithraic version it replaced. Virtually all of the elements of the Catholic ritual, from miter to wafer to water to altar to doxology, are directly taken from earlier pagan mystery religions.

Paganism goes even deeper than this in the Roman Catholic Church.

If you carefully examine photographs of the garb worn by the Pope, and the many decorations (mostly of gold) adorning the rooms and hallways of the Vatican, you will see many symbols of sun worship. This is because the sun god has always been a deeply ingrained part of the Christian religion.

Again, thanks to the detailed research by writer Acharya S, we can see that everything about the Jesus/Buddha/Horus/Mithra/Krishna story(s) is linked to the Gnostic practice of solar deity worship.

"The reason why all these narratives are so similar, with a god-man who is crucified and resurrected, who does miracles and has 12 disciples, is that these stories were based on the movements of the sun through the heavens, an astro-theological development that can be found throughout the planet because the sun and the 12 zodiac signs can be observed around the globe. In other words, Jesus Christ and all the others upon whom this character is predicated are personifications of the sun, and the Gospel fable is merely a rehash of a mythological formula (the "Mythos," as mentioned above) revolving around the movements of the sun through the heavens," Acharya writes.

For example, the births of the man/gods all occur at the time of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. After stopping there for three days, the ancients believe the sun then starts to move northward again. It was like a death and resurrection.

Here are some other thoughts from Acharya's book for you to ponder.

"The sun's "followers," "helpers" or "disciples" are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun must pass. The sun at 12 noon is in the house or temple of the "Most High"; thus, "he" begins "his Father's work" at "age" 12. The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30°; hence, the "Sun of God" begins his ministry at "age" 30. The sun is hung on a cross or "crucified," which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected."

If the lives of all of these god figures were so similar, why you might ask, haven't people figured out that they have been hoodwinked?

The spiritual forces that control these religious systems are not stupid. Why do you think all of the world religious groups have hated, and been at war with one another for thousands of years? The false hatreds, distrust and wars were generated so we were too busy and too tired to ever figure it out.

When you get to the truth, we discover that we have all been involved in following the same false god. It just went by different names. And in the end, we find that we are all one. We are all the same. The true god has always been with us and in us. Love and light has always been the sacred message. Once we achieve this, there is no longer a place for hatred and warfare against ourselves.

(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.


And Here We Are
By Dan Rather

The march of time has proceeded, as it always does, unabated. The days of our human-devised calendars have flipped ever onwards. Once again we have landed on that yearly marking of Christmas. It is a cold reminder that the universe doesn't care about our pain and suffering. The laws that govern our Earth and its dance through the cosmos are unchanged by pandemics. We can only move in one direction, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

We are fractured, as people, as a society, as a global community, scattered like shards of glass into a state of disunity. The proximate cause is the deadly disease which has swept through our country with merciless horror, abetted by feckless leadership. It has leveraged our divisions into death and one of its ultimate cruelties is it requires us to stay away from each other when all of our human instincts yearn for connection. As we dig deeper, however, we see many different forces driving us apart, longstanding societal and personal failings of suspicion, hatred, racism, and selfishness, among others. We see chasms everywhere, and we wonder if we can ever regain a sense of cohesion.

We must start by recognizing that we have always had far too many people who haven't been allowed to fit in.The sense of togetherness was always partly a mirage constructed by those who had the privilege of seeing it so. But still there were moments like Christmas when the hope of our better angels and the tidings of the season often strengthened the bonds between us. This year, those bonds will have to be largely virtual, and for hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens they are permanently broken by seats at family and friends tables that will hereafter always be empty.

And yet, the human spirit still pulls forward. Many of us look to faith to fortify that spirit and guide us on a path to goodness. But faith is not a requirement to be agents of progress. My long life has overlapped with many other times of terror and seeming hopelessness. I am thinking back to wars, economic depressions, and social unrest. But I am remembering how those ultimately ended. I find myself thinking of the leaders of the past who, buoyed by the strength of those marching alongside them, were able to wrest our country and world onto paths of greater empathy and justice. I see leaders arising today eager to tackle those same challenges. I reflect in awe of the power of science, which has created a vaccine in record time. And I am hopeful we can use the powers of the human mind to find solutions to problems that now seem without answer.

On this day, Christmas Eve 1968, three human beings were improbably circling our distant moon. It was a triumph of technology and the yearnings of our species to cross horizons. It was also a moment of wonder at the end of a year filled with heartbreak, death, and despair. Those astronauts took a photograph of our planet which became iconic. It even has a name, Earthrise, and I share it here. I have written and spoken about this moment many times, including in my book What Unites Us, because I think it is the very definition of unity and hope. What better recognition that, no matter our jealousies, pettiness, biases, egos, and resentments, we have no choice but to be in this together. The universe after all doesn't care. That is up to us.

I pray that those of you who celebrate Christmas can find some peace this year. I give a special prayer to those who have suffered losses, fear for their livelihoods, and are struggling with pain of any sort. I pray for a new year of hope. And with that, I cling to optimism that we can build a better, more equitable, and more empathetic future. It is an optimism that is tempered by reality. This will require hard work and determination. Success is far from guaranteed. But ultimately I believe in a well of goodwill large and resilient enough to sustain progress in the fraught moments that lie ahead.

The power of the human will may not be able to change the orbits of planets but it can nonetheless accomplish feats that seem just as miraculous. So let us embrace the best traditions of the season and resolve to strive to be ever better. I am deeply grateful for all of your love and support. And I return it in equal measure.

Merry Christmas.

(c) 2020 Dan Rather

It's time for a paradigm shift. Let's take this time to reflect on what really matters

We Have The Power To Create A Brighter Future
By David Suzuki

This is our last column for 2020. What a year it's been! As if things weren't bad enough on the environmental front - record-breaking global temperature increases, the U.S. backtracking on ecological protections and policies and pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, a worsening biodiversity crisis and more - the world was hit with a devastating pandemic. We've been brought to a tipping point.

A common thread through it all is the dangerous politicization, and often outright dismissal, of science.

Those who reject and protest the simple steps needed to stem the spread of COVD-19 have contributed to ensuring those measures must be strengthened and kept in place longer than they might have - just as those who have cast doubt on climate science have ensured that resolving that crisis will be costlier and more painful than it could have been had we acted quickly and decisively.

Although the forces of ignorance, fear and greed enjoy support in powerful places, from governments to wealthy corporate interests, our hope lies in the fact that they are a minority - a noisy one, but a minority nonetheless. Most people want to do what's right for their families, neighbours, communities and themselves. Most in government and business want to do their best to ensure we get through the multiple crises.

Our COVID-19 response proves we're capable of making rapid, decisive progress. Although the pandemic is still spreading in some places, jurisdictions that acted quickly have slowed it or brought it under control. Our understanding of the disease is advancing rapidly and we've created vaccines in record time.

But we must start thinking longer-term. We still face worsening climate and biodiversity crises, and new pandemics could emerge if we don't address their mainly environmental causes.

It bears repeating that getting back to "normal" isn't good enough. "Normal" means a global economy fuelled by overconsumption. A "healthy" economy in this context is one in which people continue to purchase and drive more cars and SUVs, fly more, buy more, waste more. It's one in which people work long hours producing stuff we don't need to earn enough to survive or to buy more stuff they've been convinced will bring meaning or happiness to their lives.

It's an economy where the world's richest one per cent own almost half of global wealth and account for more than twice the global emissions of the poorest 50 per cent. Where, in the U.S., government policy has helped some 600 billionaires grow their wealth by US $931 billion during the pandemic. Those few hundred people now hold US$ 4 trillion in wealth, more than double that of the 165 million people in the bottom half of the population. It's not much different elsewhere.

The United Nations Environmental Program just released its Emissions Gap Report 2020. It shows that if the world doesn't step up efforts to bring emissions under control, we will overheat by 3 C by century's end. We're already experiencing major effects of climate disruption, from increased extreme weather events to sea level rise to growing refugee crises. An increase over 2 C, or even 1.5 C, would be catastrophic.

It's not sustainable.

But according to the UN, "A green pandemic recovery could cut up to 25 per cent off predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions and bring the world closer to meeting the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change." Stronger action would get us near the 1.5 C goal.

Governments are supposed to serve us, the people, not just corporate interests. We must demand they do, just as young people and Indigenous Peoples have been demanding over the past few years. Many of our problems - from inequity to the pandemic to the climate and biodiversity crises - are related, stemming from a lack of understanding about humanity's place in the world, and the interconnectedness of existence.

It's time for a paradigm shift. Let's take this time to reflect on what really matters - time with friends and family, our connection with nature, and the need to hold to account those we elect to represent our interests.

As we in the Northern hemisphere head into the darkest time of year, we know light will return. Let's all keep ours shining today for a brighter tomorrow.

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

This Is The Most Criminal Dereliction Of Duty In the History Of The American Presidency
The Washington Post offers a staggering vista of lies and blundering-and blundering lies-that is the sad history of the Trump administration response to the pandemic.
By Charles P. Pierce

"Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more.

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

-A Christmas Carol, Stave III

The Ghost of Grifters Not Yet Past was everywhere over the weekend. In the New York Times, we read about how the Ghost had arranged for a meeting of the political Chronic Ward in the White House. In the Washington Post, we read about how the Ghost had visited his feral children, Ignorance and Want, upon the land by giving them national political leaders who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel, and, worse, had no desire to learn how, even in the midst of the greatest public health crisis in a century.

While the Times's account of the Mad Hatter's seditious tea party is the flashier story, it is the Post's deep spelunking into the administration*'s brutal (and quite deliberate) mishandling of the pandemic that is more likely to resound in historical memory as the most criminal dereliction of duty in the history of the American presidency. By comparison, Herbert Hoover at the onset of the Great Depression and James Buchanan as the nation slid toward the Civil War were positive pikers in their disregard for the office they held and the country they were chosen to lead.

The catastrophe began with Trump's initial refusal to take seriously the threat of a once-in-a-century pandemic. But, as officials detailed, it has been compounded over time by a host of damaging presidential traits - his skepticism of science, impatience with health restrictions, prioritization of personal politics over public safety, undisciplined communications, chaotic management style, indulgence of conspiracies, proclivity toward magical thinking, allowance of turf wars and flagrant disregard for the well-being of those around him...
And then there's the Dauphin Prince, who apparently had some power and almost no respect, possibly because he was marginally less of a fck-up than everyone else was.
"It was entirely tactical troubleshooting and, to be fair, it was pretty successful, with the ventilators and this and that, but it was whack-a-mole," said an outside Republican in frequent touch with the White House. Part of Kushner's coronavirus management approach was an ambitious effort to bring in a cadre of young consultants from the private sector as volunteers. The group was dismissively referred to as the "Slim Suit" crowd.

But problems quickly emerged with Kushner's team of volunteers. The group was not issued government laptops or emails, forcing them to use their personal Gmail addresses - a practice that often hindered their efforts to procure personal protective equipment from companies that were understandably skeptical of inquiries coming from nongovernment email accounts. The volunteers in charge of PPE procurement also did not know the Food and Drug Administration requirements for importing the protective equipment, and found themselves spending unnecessary time Googling basic questions and calling the FDA for guidance.

Remember: I said, "marginally."
"The knock against Jared has always been that he's a dilettante who will dabble in this and dabble in that without doing the homework or really engaging in a long-term, sustained, committed way, but will be there to claim credit if things go well and disappear if things go poorly," a former senior administration official said. "And this is another example of that."
Things got so bad under Kushner's command that the president* actually got mad at him, which apparently happens once every Great Conjunction. But, by my lights, the worst episode in the piece comes when the CDC recommends face-covering generally for the country, and the assembled He-Men of the administration* decide to make wearing a mask a losing proposition in the White House dick-measuring contest.
Skepticism of masks became a hallmark of the Trump administration's pandemic response. On April 3, when the CDC recommended that all Americans wear masks, Trump announced that he would not do so because he could not envision himself sitting behind the Resolute Desk with his face covered as he greeted visiting dignitaries. The president stressed that mask-wearing was "voluntary," effectively permitting his legions of followers to disregard the CDC's recommendation. In the months that followed, Trump was only seen wearing a mask on rare occasions, instead following the advice of Stephen Miller, Johnny McEntee, Derek Lyons and other trusted aides to think of masks as a cultural wedge issue.
Here we have the Universal String Theory of the Administration*'s dereliction of duty. There is the dereliction of duty in the response to the pandemic, and then there is the original dereliction of duty in placing a dime-store gauleiter like Stephen Miller anywhere close to a center of power. You really do have to read the whole thing to get an idea of the staggering vista of lies and blundering-and blundering lies-that is the sad history of this particular national crisis.

Just leave it with Jared.

As for the council of crazy that the NYT revealed, I choose for the moment to look at it as simply yet another Camp Runamuck freak show. Michael Flynn is, at this point, an out-and-out fascist. Sydney Powell has left this earthly plane, never to return. (In fact, if it weren't for Lin Wood, the bughouse lawyer down in Georgia, Powell might be reckoned as the leading whackadoo in the American bar.) Nevertheless, the meeting was a marriage of two of Fletcher Knebel's old political potboilers: Night of Camp David, about a president who cracks up, and the more famous Seven Days In May. And that is not something with which I am comfortable.
During an appearance on the conservative Newsmax channel this week, Mr. Flynn pushed for Mr. Trump to impose martial law and deploy the military to "rerun" the election. At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea...Part of the White House meeting on Friday night was a discussion about an executive order to take control of voting machines to examine them, according to one of the people briefed on the discussion. Mr. Giuliani has separately pressed the Department of Homeland Security to seize possession of voting machines as part of a push to overturn the results of the election, three people familiar with the discussion said. Mr. Giuliani was told the department does not have the authority to do such a thing.
If you're keeping score at home, and that must be hard to do under the bed, Rudy Giuliani helped turn off the idea of making Sydney Powell a special counsel, but he was fine with confiscating voting machines, and had to be turned off himself by...wait for it...Ken Cuccinelli. There's another month of this. As Tiny Tim observed, God help us all, every one.

(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-

"We have millions and millions of people who cannot afford to pay their rent. We have people who cannot afford to go to a doctor in the midst of a pandemic. And we have millions of families who are finding it increasingly difficult to feed their kids. They need help. And Congress must provide help. And I do not believe that it is appropriate for members of Congress to go back to their families for the Christmas holidays while so many millions of families in this country are struggling just to stay alive."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

There are roughly 3 million Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank, so their 25
deaths are the equivalent of 2,750 American deaths daily, one of the worst rates in the world

Everyday War Crimes: Israeli PM Netanyahu Gets Covid Vaccine, Squatters Get Vaccine, But Not Occupied Palestinians
Vaccines will be supplied to the hundreds of thousands of government-backed illegal Israeli squatters on Palestinian land in the West Bank, but not to the indigenous Palestinian population.
By Juan Cole

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a coronavirus shot on Saturday. He has pledged that the 9 million Israelis will be vaccinated in a matter of months.

Inside Israel, Netanyahu was widely thought to have mishandled the pandemic, and it hurt his popularity as the country goes yet again to the ballot box. He is no doubt hoping that the vaccine will save him. If he loses the next election, he could well go to prison on current corruption charges for which he is being tried.

Vaccines will be supplied to the hundreds of thousands of government-backed illegal Israeli squatters on Palestinian land in the West Bank, but not to the indigenous Palestinian population.

Netanyahu's government militarily occupies 5 million stateless Palestinians. He has worked with the Mad President Trump to kneecap all international aid to the Palestinians.

Under the Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute, the Occupying power is responsible for the health and well-being of the Occupied peoples, and failing to look after it is a war crime.

Middle East Eye reports:

Israel's Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch told Kan Radio that Israel was working to attain a surplus of vaccines for Israelis and that "should we see that Israel's demands have been met and we have additional capability, we will certainly consider helping the Palestinian Authority.
Just consider that it is 1941 and Mussolini is occupying the city of Nice in France. And there is a big pneumonia outbreak. (Pneumonia used to be the third leading cause of death). And Mussolini says, after we take care of all the Aryan Italians, we might think about giving sulfapyridine to the occupied population in Nice, way down the road. In the meantime, the French will just have to die.

What would that sound like to you? That's the equivalent of what Kisch just said.

The policy enunciated by Kisch is a war crime. The 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of occupied populations, which was intended to stop people from acting as the Axis leaders did, has this to say (Article 56):

To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for Palestine's health ministry, Kamal Shakhri, is warning of a health care "catastrophe" this winter as coronavirus cases skyrocket toward 2,000 or possibly even 3,000 a day (the US equivalent of 220,000 to 330,000 a day- one of the worst rates in the world).

On Saturday, in the West Bank, the health department in Ramallah reported 1,750 new cases of the coronavirus and 25 deaths.

The office added, "The rate of recovery from the Corona virus in Palestine reached 80.07%, while the rate of active infections reached 18.7%, and the death rate was 0.9% of all infections."

128 patients are in intensive care units. The bad news is that under Israeli military occupation, the West Bank has been unable to develop economically, suffering billions losses in opportunity costs. There are not that many intensive care units in Palestinian hospitals. I wrote earlier this year:

AFP reports that the two million Palestinians in Gaza only have 60 ICU or intensive care beds, and not all of them are functional. The israeli blockade, which disallows importation of many key goods, has devastated the health care system in the Strip. In Palestine over all, there are only 1.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Compare to Germany with 8.3 beds per thousand people.

I suspect a lot of old people are just dying undiagnosed at home.

UNICEF rushed last spring to equip 25 ICUs in the West Bank and Gaza. It isn't enough.

There are roughly 3 million Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank, so their 25 deaths are the equivalent of 2,750 American deaths daily, one of the worst rates in the world. If 0.9% of all infections die, and they have over half a million active cases in the territory, we can expect 5,490 to die out of the current situation. But, the situation will get worse, and apparently Israel isn't planning to bother to get the vaccine into the West Bank for many months.

Israel continues to keep the little Gaza Strip, with a population of 2 million - half of them children - under blockade during the pandemic. California let a lot of its inmates go to avoid a penitentiary mass outbreak, but Palestinians are treated worse than California inmates. Occasionally the Israeli government has even blocked diesel for electricity. Who knows when its people will get the vaccine, or will be permitted to by its Israeli prison guards?

(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-

Mo gives the corporate salute!

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Brooks,

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 frivolous attempt to challenge the Electoral College to overturn their decision, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 01-19-2021. We salute you herr Brooks seig heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Trickle-Down Economics Doesn't Work But Build-Up Does - Is Biden Listening?
By Robert Reich

How should the huge financial costs of the pandemic be paid for, as well as the other deferred needs of society after this annus horribilis?

Politicians rarely want to raise taxes on the rich. Joe Biden promised to do so but a closely divided Congress is already balking.

That's because they've bought into one of the most dangerous of all economic ideas: that economic growth requires the rich to become even richer. Rubbish.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once dubbed it the "horse and sparrow" theory: "If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows."

We know it as trickle-down economics.

In a new study, David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King's College London lay waste to the theory. They reviewed data over the last half-century in advanced economies and found that tax cuts for the rich widened inequality without having any significant effect on jobs or growth. Nothing trickled down.

Meanwhile, the rich have become far richer. Since the start of the pandemic, just 651 American billionaires have gained $1 trillion of wealth. With this windfall they could send a $3,000 check to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. Don't hold your breath.

Stock markets have been hitting record highs. More initial public stock offerings have been launched this year than in over two decades. A wave of hi-tech IPOs has delivered gushers of money to Silicon Valley investors, founders and employees.

Oh, and tax rates are historically low.

Yet at the same time, more than 20 million Americans are jobless, 8 million have fallen into poverty, 19 million are at risk of eviction and 26 million are going hungry. Mainstream economists are already talking about a "K-shaped" recovery - the better-off reaping most gains while the bottom half continue to slide.

You don't need a doctorate in ethical philosophy to think that now might be a good time to tax and redistribute some of the top's riches to the hard-hit below. The UK is already considering an emergency tax on wealth.

Biden has rejected a wealth tax, but maybe he should be even more ambitious and seek to change economic thinking altogether.

The practical alternative to trickle-down economics might be called build-up economics. Not only should the rich pay for today's devastating crisis but they should also invest in the public's long-term well-being. The rich themselves would benefit from doing so, as would everyone else.

At one time, America's major political parties were on the way to embodying these two theories. Speaking to the Democratic National Convention in 1896, populist William Jennings Bryan noted: "There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them." Build-up economics reached its zenith in the decades after the second world war, when the richest Americans paid a marginal income tax rate of between 70% and 90%. That revenue helped fund massive investment in infrastructure, education, health and basic research - creating the largest and most productive middle class the world had ever seen.

But starting in the 1980s, America retreated from public investment. The result is crumbling infrastructure, inadequate schools, wildly dysfunctional healthcare and public health systems and a shrinking core of basic research. Productivity has plummeted.

Yet we know public investment pays off. Studies show an average return on infrastructure investment of $1.92 for every public dollar invested, and a return on early childhood education of between 10% and 16% - with 80% of the benefits going to the general public.

The COVID vaccine reveals the importance of investments in public health, and the pandemic shows how everyone's health affects everyone else's. Yet 37 million Americans still have no health insurance. A study in the Lancet estimates Medicare for All would prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths each year, while saving money.

If we don't launch something as bold as a Green New Deal, we'll spend trillions coping with ever more damaging hurricanes, wildfires, floods and rising sea levels.

The returns from these and other public investments are huge. The costs of not making them are astronomical.

Trickle-down economics is a cruel hoax. The benefits of build-up economics are real. At this juncture, between a global pandemic and the promise of a post-pandemic world, and between the administrations of Trump and Biden, we would be well-served by changing the economic paradigm from trickle down to build up.

(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

More of the same means more disaster. If we want to reclaim our open society and save the
ecosystem, we must abolish the corporate stranglehold on global economic and political power.

The Dangerous Fantasy Of Hope Rooted In Self-Delusion
The real lesson we should learn from the rise of a demagogue such as Trump and a pandemic that our for-profit health care industry proved unable to contain is that we are losing control as a nation and as a species.
by Chris Hedges

Joe Biden and the systems managers of the deep state and empire are returning to power. Trump and his coterie of buffoons, racists, con artists and Christian fascists are sullenly preparing to leave office. U.S. pharmaceutical corporations are starting to disseminate vaccines to mitigate the globe's worst outbreak of COVID-19 that has resulted in more than 2,600 deaths per day. America, as Biden says, is back, ready to take its place at the head of the table. In the battle for the soul of America, he assures us, democracy has prevailed. Progress, prosperity, civility and a reassertion of American prestige and power are, we are promised, weeks away.

But the real lesson we should learn from the rise of a demagogue such as Trump, who received 74 million votes, and a pandemic that our for-profit health care industry proved unable to contain, is that we are losing control as a nation and as a species. Far more dangerous demagogues will arise from the imperial and neoliberal policies the Biden administration will embrace. Far worse pandemics will sweep the globe with higher rates of infections and mortality, an inevitable result of our continued consumption of animals and animal products, and the wanton destruction of the ecosystem on which we and other species depend for life.

"One of the most pathetic aspects of human history," Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, "is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun."

Biden's appointments are drawn almost exclusively from the circles of the Democratic Party and corporate elite, those responsible for the massive social inequality, trade deals, de-industrialization, militarized police, world's largest prison system, austerity programs that abolished social programs such as welfare, the revived Cold War with Russia, wholesale government surveillance, endless wars in the Middle East and the disenfranchisement and impoverishment of the working class. The Washington Post writes that "about 80 percent of the White House and agency officials he's announced have the word 'Obama' on their resume from previous White House or Obama campaign jobs." Bernie Sanders, apparently rebuffed in his efforts to become secretary of labor in the Biden administration, has expressed frustration with the Biden nominations. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was denied a seat by House Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee because of her support for the Green New Deal. The message of the Biden administration to progressives and left-wing populists is very clear - "Drop dead."

The list of new administration officials includes retired General Lloyd J. Austin III who is being nominated to be secretary of defense. Austin is on the board of Raytheon Technologies and a partner at Pine Island Capital, a firm that invests in defense industries and also includes Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee to be secretary of state. Blinken, who was deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state, is a strong supporter of the apartheid state of Israel. He was one of the architects of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and a proponent of the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, resulting in yet another failed state in the Middle East.

Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve chair under Barack Obama, is slated to be Treasury Secretary. Yellen as the chair of Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and later as a member of the board of the Federal Reserve, backed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which led to the banking crisis of 2008. She supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She also lobbied for a new statistical metric intended to lower payments to senior citizens on Social Security. Yellen backed "quantitative easing" that provided trillions in virtually no-interest loans to Wall Street, loans used to bail out banks and corporations and engage in massive stock buy-backs while the victims of financial fraud were abandoned.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry is to become a special envoy for climate. Kerry championed the massive expansion of domestic oil and gas production, largely through fracking, and, according to 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."

Avril Haines, a former Obama deputy CIA chief, is to become Biden's director of national intelligence. Haines oversaw Obama's expanded and murderous drone program overseas and backed Gina Haspel's nomination to be the head of the CIA, despite Haspels' direct involvement in the CIA torture program carried out in black sites around the globe. Haines called Haspel "intelligent, compassionate, and fair." 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, has been chosen to run the White House's economic policy.

Neera Tanden, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, has been picked to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden, as the head of the Democratic Party's thinktank, the Center for American Progress, raised millions in dark money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Her donors include Bain Capital, Blackstone, Evercore, Walmart and the defense contractor Northrup Grumman. The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, also gave the thinktank between $1.5 million and $3 million. She relentlessly ridicules Sanders and his supporters on cable news and social media. She also proposed a plank in the Democratic platform calling for the bombing Iran.

The perpetuation of the deeply unpopular wars and onerous neoliberal policies by the Biden administration will be accompanied by a fevered demonization of Russia, most recently blamed for cyber-attacks. A new Cold War with Russia will be used by the corporate Democrats to discredit domestic and foreign critics and deflect attention from the political stagnation and the corporate pillaging of the country. It will allow MSNBC and The New York Times, which spent two years slogging empty Russiagate conspiracies, to disseminate a daily stream of emotionally charged rumors and shady accusations about Russia. Cable celebrities such as Rachel Maddow will hyperventilate night after night about Russia while ignoring the corruption of the Biden administration. The only reason Russia is not blamed for rigging the election in 2020, as opposed to 2016, by the Democratic Party is because Trump was defeated.

Biden, after his defeat in the Democratic Party Caucus in Nevada by Bernie Sanders, where Sanders got more than twice his vote, immediately played the Russian card, telling CBS News that the "Russians don't want me to be the nominee, they like Bernie." Hillary Clinton started this dirty game when she attacked 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as a "Russian asset" and in 2020 leveled the same charge against Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. The Democrats need an enemy, real or fictious, and Silicon Valley and major manufacturers will not allow them to target China.

More of the same means more disaster. If we want to reclaim our open society and save the ecosystem, we must abolish the corporate stranglehold on global economic and political power. If we want to avert zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, swine flu, avian flu, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow disease), Ebola, and SARS we must stop consuming animals and their bodily secretions. We must abolish factory farming and adopt a vegan diet. And we must keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Razing the rainforest for cattle grazing and vast tracts of farmland devoted to growing monocrops to feed animals destined for human consumption are responsible for up to 91 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction since 1970. The loss of forests is one of the single biggest contributors to climate change. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead zones. Oceans could be devoid of fish by 2048. Each minute, 7 million pounds of feces are produced by the animals raised for human food in the US alone. The continued destruction of natural habitat, coupled with the vast factory farms which use 80 percent of the antibiotics in the U.S. and incubate drug-resistant pathogens that spread to human populations, presage new forms of the Black Death.

The belief that we can maintain current levels of consumption, especially of animal products, capitalist expansion, imperial wars, a reliance on fossil fuels and abject subservience to unfettered corporate power, which has solidified the worst income inequality in human history, is not a form of hope but suicidal self-delusion. We are not headed under the policies of the Biden administration and the global ruling elite for the broad sunlit uplands of a new and glorious future, but economic misery, vast climate migrations, waves of new and more virulent pandemics, of which COVID-19 is a mild precursor, along with irreversible ecological systems collapse and frightening forms of societal breakdown, authoritarianism and neofascism.

Global warming is inevitable. It cannot be stopped. At best, it can be slowed. Over the next 50 years the earth will most likely heat up to levels that will make whole parts of the planet uninhabitable. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of people will be displaced. Millions of species will go extinct. Cities on or near a coast, including New York and London, will be submerged.

Oceans absorb much of the excess CO2 and heat from the atmosphere. This absorption is rapidly warming and acidifying ocean waters, resulting in the deoxygenation of the oceans. Each of the earth's five known mass extinctions was preceded by at least one part of what climate scientists call the "deadly trio" - warming, acidification and deoxygenation of the oceans. The next mass extinction of sea life is already under way, the first in some 55 million years.

This is not defeatism. It is realism. We appear to have bought four years with Biden's election, but if we do not use it wisely - and there is nothing in the Biden nominations that offer any encouragement - we are merely reconstructing a shabby Potemkin village that will soon be flattened by the gale-force political and environmental hurricanes that are gathering around us.

One of the lessons I learned from covering wars and revolutions as a foreign correspondent is that the political, economic and cultural systems that are erected by any society are very fragile. The façade of power remains in place, as I saw in Eastern Europe during the 1989 revolutions and later in Yugoslavia, long after terminal rot has consumed the foundations. This facade fools a society into thinking the structures of authority remain solid, impervious to collapse. So, when collapse comes, which should have been long predicted, it appears sudden and incomprehensible. The ensuing chaos is disorienting and frightening. The cognitive dissonance between the perception of power and its rapid dissolution feeds self-delusion. It creates, as I witnessed in the former Yugoslavia, what anthropologists call crisis cults, as well as bizarre conspiracy theories, fascism and the embrace of inchoate violence to purge society of the demons blamed for the national debacle. Hatred becomes the highest form of patriotism. The vulnerable are scapegoated. Intellectuals, journalists and scientists rooted in a fact-based world are despised. Ruling elites and ruling structures lose all credibility. This collapse is often a portal to a world of nihilism and blood-drenched fantasy.

After four years of lies, the stoking of racist violence, stunning ineptitude, rampant corruption and an abject failure to cope with a national health crisis, Trump expanded his base by 11 million votes. This should be a huge, flashing red light. Worse, 70 percent of Trump voters, 51 million Americans, believe that "radical Left Democrats" and the deep state rigged the elections through "voter fraud," including the importation of Venezuelan voting software, illegitimate mail-in ballots and the wholesale destruction of Trump ballots by election officials. One hundred and twenty-six Republican House members joined a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general asking the Supreme Court to overturn Biden's victory. The vast majority of Republican senators refused to acknowledge the election results following the November vote. Electors from the Electoral College were forced in several states to deliver their votes to state legislatures under armed guard. Some two dozen armed protesters carrying American flags and chanting "Stop the Steal" descended on the home of Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Seven hundred members of the white nationalist group the Proud Boys took over streets in Washington last weekend to protest the alleged theft of the election, leading to more than three dozen arrests, four stabbings, the vandalizing of four Black churches, and Black Lives Matter banners and signs ripped down and burned.

Trump may be gone soon, but he leaves behind a party that is openly authoritarian, dismissive of democratic norms, an enemy to science and fact-based discourse and which attempted a coup d'etat. The next time around they won't be so disorganized and inept. This hostility to democracy by one of the two ruling parties, supported by millions of Americans, many of whom were betrayed by Biden and the leaders of the Democratic Party, will not dissipate but grow, especially as the hammer of economic dislocation, including the looming evictions of millions of Americans, pummels the country.

The decades-long corporate assault on culture, journalism, education, the arts, universities and critical thinking has left those who speak this truth marginalized and ignored. These Cassandras, locked out of the national debate, are dismissed as unhinged and depressingly apocalyptic. The country is consumed by a mania for hope, which our corporate masters lavishly provide, at the expense of truth. It is this delusional hope that will doom us.

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who with a handful of other writers and artists desperately tried to warn of the suicidal folly of World War I, wrote of what he called "the mental superiority of the defeated." His anti-war play Jeremiah, based on the Biblical prophet Jeremiah who issued warnings in vain, illustrated that those who face reality, however bitter, are able to endure and rise above it.

"Awaken, doomed city, that thou mayest save thyself," the prophet cries out in Zweig's play. "Awaken from your heavy slumbers, heedless ones, lest you be slain in sleep; awaken, for the walls are crumbling, and will crush you; awaken."

But the warnings from Jeremiah, called "the weeping prophet," were ignored and ridiculed. He was attacked for demoralizing the people. There were plots against his life. When the Babylonian army captured Jerusalem, Jeremiah, like Julian Assange, was in prison.

"I was always attracted to showing how any form of power can harden a human being's heart, how victory can bring mental rigidity to whole nations, and to contrasting that with the emotional force of defeat painfully and terribly ploughing through the soul," Zweig wrote in his memoir, "The World of Yesterday". "In the middle of war, while others, celebrating triumph too soon, were proving to one another that victory was inevitable, I was plumbing the depths of the catastrophe and looking for a way to emerge from them."

We cannot use the word hope if we refuse to face the truth. All hope rooted in self-delusion is fantasy. We must lift the filter from our eyes to see the danger before us. We must heed the warnings of our own prophets. We must destroy the centers of power that lure us and our children, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, to certain doom. The walls, daily, are closing in around us. The radical evil we face is as real under Trump as it will be under Biden. And if this radical evil is not smashed, then the world ahead will be one of torment and mass death.

(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
~~~ Manny Francisco ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

No Social Distancing, No Sick Pay: Elves Criticise Working Conditions At North Pole
By The Waterford Whispers News

ELF and safety experts have reported that possible industrial action is brewing in the North Pole at the world's largest toy manufacturing plant as its owner faces accusations of a litany of Covid-19 safety failures.

No social distancing, no sick pay and a shortage of PPE are among the shocking disclosures made by staff who are appealing for authorities to step in and intervene before it's too late.

"All we want to be able to do is work without the risk of contracting Covid-19," explained Santa's workshop steward Candy Kane, who alleges poor pay, long hours and constant corner cutting is taking its toll on staff.

Elves initially brought glaring gaps in Covid safety protocols to their line manager but it is believed the manager is the wife of the factory owner.

"And I don't know why Mrs Claus stands up for him either, when he tells her he's 'working late' he's just seeing ho after ho after ho," offered one elf on his one mandated 5-minute break in an 18-hour shift.

With billions of orders to process during the busiest time of year for the workshop, working around the clock in cramped and overcrowded factory floors was only ever going to be a recipe for disaster.

"He ordered PPE from China off of Amazon but it never arrived, I told him if he just let us make it ourselves it'd be easier but he wouldn't listen, he wants everything done on the cheap" explained one elf, on a zero hours contract.

"It's alright for the boss man, he's never down on the shop floor so all requests for improvements here are ignored. He's a hypocrite too, what did he do when North Pole health authorities said reindeer can carry transmit Covid-19? He shot everyone last one of them right between the eyes, culled them all but when it's us at risk he does nothing to help." Mr Claus, the owner of the factory refused to comment when we contacted him but it is believed while he made a number of elves redundant earlier in the year his own personal wealth has skyrocketed as stocks in his company soar in value.

(c) 2020 The Waterford Whispers News

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 20 # 51 (c) 12/25/2020

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