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In This Edition

Norman Solomon finds, "Progressives Need A United Front For Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren."

Ralph Nader reports, "Democrats Cave In Secret Budget Deal With Trump."

Randall Amster returns and gives, "The Gift Of Perspective."

Jim Hightower asks, "Can 'Powerless Nobodies' Fight The Corporate Powers?"

Amy Goodman returns with, "Let 2020 Be The Year Of A Truly Free Press."

John Nichols says, "Elizabeth Warren Took On Corruption In Both Parties."

James Donahue wonders, "Did Jesus Really Exist?"

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Impeaching Trump Is Worth It, Even With the Senate Poised To Acquit."

David Suzuki finds, "Fossil Fuel Promoters Turn Logic On Its Head."

Charles P. Pierce says, "I'm A Lucky Motherf*cker. We All Are."

David Swanson gives, "Six Reasons Elizabeth Warren Should Volunteer To Be Bernie Sanders' Running Mate."

Bloomberg's editor-in-chief John Micklethwait wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich returns with, "America's Next President: Warren Sanders."

Jane Stillwater watches, "Michael Bloomberg At The AGU."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Trump Claims He Knows John Dingell Is In Hell Because He Sees Window Into Terrifying Inferno Every Time He Closes His Eyes," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Lying Donald Loses Again."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Signe Wilkinson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Saul Loeb, Chris Carlson, Kris Krug, Time Life Pictures, William Anders, Abdulhamid Hosbas, Anadolu Agency, NASA, Jane Stillwater, Jim Hightower, AFP, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Vidkun Quisling Award-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

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Lying Donald Loses Again
By Ernest Stewart

"I am going to fight him for as long as it takes - to hell if I have to - and spend as much as it takes to block this useless and grotesque blot on our heritage." ~~~ Lying Donald ~ Lost his bid to block the wind farm off of his Scottish golf course

"When the well is dry, we know the worth of water." ~~~ Benjamin Franklin

"We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries," ~~~ John Micklethwait ~ Bloomberg's editor-in-chief

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

Occasionally I have this vision of Lying Donald dressed as Don Quixote with Pence trailing behind and looking like his loyal servant Sancho Panza. It makes me laugh every time I think of it!

Lying Donalds latest enemy is wind power and wind mills in particual. In a speech to the fascist student group Turning Point USA, Trump told the students that he "never understood" the allure of wind power plants. Of course, Lying Donald doesn't understand the allure of many things.

"I never understood wind, I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. (Of course, as usual Lying Donald knows more about every subject than anybody else) I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany, mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous -if you are into this- tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right?" As if Lying Donald gave a rat's ass about the world!

"So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, it's going into the air." He certainly sounds like a geius with his 4th grade speaking ability, huh?

Lying Donald's misdirected hatred of wind power plants isn't supported by reality. While he is blaming wind power plants for tremendous (one of his favorite words) amounts of carbon pollution, the American Wind Energy Association found that wind farms around the world generated last year enough energy to counteract 200 million tons of carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels.

"They are noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? Go under a mill someday. You'll see more birds than you've ever see in your life. You know, in California, they were killing the bald eagle. If you shoot a bald eagle, they want to put you in jail for 10 years. A windmill will kill many bald eagles. It's true." No Donald, that's a lie.

So you do know what is behind Lying Donalds's antagonism to wind power? Could it be his golf course in Scotland? He soon found out that an offshore wind farm was being planned nearby. Concerned that this would hurt the views from his golf course, he launched a vitriolic campaign to block the installation of the wind farm.

A prominent local opponent of the golf course was chosen as Scotsman of the Year by Glenfiddich Scotch. As revenge (we must remember that Lying Donald is really big on revenge) Lying Donald subsequently banned Glenfiddich Scotch from his properties Tweeting, "Glenfiddich is a joke -should have chosen Andy Murray - U.S. Open & Olympic gold winner - as Top Scot instead of a total loser!" The total loser of this battle, however, was Lying Donald, since he lost a legal battle against the Scottish government and was ordered to pay $290,000 in legal fees. Good luck collecting that Scotland, you'll need it! However, they could take the golf course away from Lying Donald for not paying his legal fees. After being reminded of that, the Trump Organization has agreed to pay $290,000 to the Scottish government! Lying Donald loses again! Ha ha!

In Other News

I see where, according to climate experts, in the next decade what we can look forward to is painfully slow hurricanes, deadly heat, and cities without water.

We only have a decade to avoid the worst consequences of global warming! That's the warning the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out last year. But so far, nations are not slashing emissions enough to keep Earth's temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - the threshold established in the Paris climate agreement.

"What we know is that unabated climate change will really transform our world into something that is unrecognizable," said Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute's climate program.

That transformation has already begun. The last few years saw record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic and bizarre storms, and unprecedented ice melt. That's all likely to get worse by 2030.

"As long as we burn fossil fuels and load the atmosphere with carbon pollution, it all gets worse," said climate scientist Michael Mann.

Last year, the IPCC warned that we only have until 2030 to act in order to avoid the worst consequences of severe global warming.

So the next 10 years are crucial for any efforts to slow this trend.

"The choices that we make today are going to have profound impacts," Levin said.

Trouble is, it's probably already too late. As I've said before, if we immediately stopped polluting the air and water the world will keep getting warmer. 2030 could just be our point of no return!

And Finally

I see where Bloomberg News on Monday was accused of violating its month-old vow not to investigate billionaire owner Michael Bloomberg or his 2020 Democratic presidential rivals after the outlet published an article criticizing Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for buying office supplies from Amazon-the retail behemoth both have criticized for low wages and poor working conditions.

The story, headlined "Sanders, Warren Campaigns Spend the Most on Amazon While Trashing It," was denounced as an absurd attack on two of the most vocal opponents of Bloomberg's candidacy. So much for editor-in-chief John Micklethwait's pledge. You may recall John said back on November 24th:

"We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike's Democratic competitors differently from him."
Oh really, funny I don't remember seeing any numbers of how much Mike spent anywhere at Amazon in that column. I'm also assuming that the hack that wrote that hit piece Spencer Soper published this trash with John Micklethwait blessing. I know anything that goes into this magazine comes across my desk for my approval or it doesn't get published.

So John Micklethwait is either a hypocrite or a liar, or, methinks both! Nor have I heard a single word from Michael Bloomberg about it, funny thing that, huh? Ergo John Micklethwait wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


06-09-1924 ~ 12-22-2019
Thanks for the film!

04-06-1931 ~ 12-22-2019
Thanks for the trips!


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


So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

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

Progressives Need A United Front For Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren
By Norman Solomon

We're now seven weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, the first voting in the Democratic presidential race. After that, frontloaded primaries might decide the nominee by late spring. For progressives torn between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- or fervently committed to one of them -- choices on how to approach the next few months could change the course of history.

As a kindred activist put it to me when we crossed paths last weekend, "Bernie speaks our language" -- a shorthand way of saying that the Bernie 2020 campaign is a fight for a truly transformative and humanistic future. "Not me. Us."

I actively support Bernie because his voice is ours for genuine democracy and social justice. Hearing just a few minutes from a recent Bernie speech is a reminder of just how profoundly that is true.

At the same time, many thoughtful and well-informed progressives are supporting Warren. While I'm wary of the conventional foreign-policy outlook that she laid out early this year and reaffirmed days ago, there's much to applaud in Warren's record and proposals on economic and social issues. Notwithstanding her declaration of being "a capitalist to my bones," Warren has earned corporate America's hostility.

Overall, Wall Street despises Elizabeth Warren. With some exceptions, the titans of "the Street" are highly averse to her regulatory agenda, fear her plans such as a wealth tax, and definitely don't want her to become president.

What's more, the power structure of top corporate Democrats is out to crush the Warren campaign as well as the Sanders campaign. Not coincidentally, corporate media attacks rose along with Warren's poll numbers. The corporate system's antipathy toward her isn't as high as it is toward Sanders, but it's pretty damn high.

Meanwhile, powerful status-quo interests are eager to see acrimony develop between Sanders and Warren forces.

"The year began with a weak-looking Sen. Elizabeth Warren posing no threat to Sanders; by summer, Warren had jumped past Sanders and the rest of the field," the Washington Post's David Weigel noted days ago. "Now, with Warren's momentum fading, the two Democrats most broadly acceptable to the left have been splitting endorsements and capturing separate swaths of the electorate."

Let's face it. Supporters of Sanders and Warren will probably need each other if one of them is going to win the nomination.

Scenarios for Sanders or Warren to ultimately go it alone at the mid-July national convention in Milwaukee are unlikely. Much more probable is a necessity of teaming up to combine the leverage of their delegates.

In the shorter term, given the structure and rules of the Iowa caucuses coming up on February 3, tacit teamwork between Sanders and Warren supporters would benefit both while undermining the corporate Democrats in contention.

The approach taken so far by Sanders and Warren on the campaign trail suggests how their supporters ought to proceed in relation to each other -- illuminating real and important differences without rancor, while teaming up to fend off policy attacks from corporate-backed opponents.

What continues to be in effect between Sanders and Warren -- and what is needed among their supporters on the ground -- is the equivalent of a nonaggression pact. At the same time, we should be willing to draw clear distinctions between the policy positions of those two candidates.

The need is for supporters to openly explain reasons for preferring Warren or Sanders while avoiding the start of a mutual demolition derby. In the process of strengthening progressive forces, it's vital to defeat corporate Democrats, before proceeding to defeat Donald Trump.

"Electability" can be debated endlessly, but anyone claiming total certainty as to which candidate would be more likely to beat Trump is overreaching. At the same time, the need for a Sanders-Warren united front should be clear -- as clear as the imperative of rolling back the monstrous right-wing power that has controlled the presidency during the last three years.

(c) 2019 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speak about
the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the USMCA, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on December 10, 2019.

Democrats Cave In Secret Budget Deal With Trump
What a grotesque way to spend taxpayer money!
By Ralph Nader

While attention was focused on the House of Representatives' impeachment of Donald J. Trump, legislators from both parties were secretly huddling with White House aides to seal a $1.4 trillion budget deal to fund the government until next September. They were rushing to do this to avoid a partial government shutdown starting December 21, 2019.

Had the budget been deliberated in open Congressional hearings, the media would have reported on this backroom deal and the people of this country would have had a chance to weigh in during the proceedings. Instead, a degraded Congress pulled a fast one on the citizens. This obfuscation is especially unacceptable considering that these lawmakers work only three days a week at best- when they are not in recess altogether.

Astoundingly the Democrats also caved in on Trump's wall! After blocking Trump's funding demand for the wall for three years, the Democrats approved $1.4 billion for the wall and even allowed Trump to divert funds from the Pentagon to that porous, wasteful barrier. In so doing, the Democrats legitimized one of the egregious, impeachable offenses Trump committed earlier this year when he seized $3.6 billion from the Pentagon's budget in money not approved for the wall. The Washington Post reported that former secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus tweeted "As hurricane heads for Camp Lejeune Trump takes $3.6b from military for needless wall. Same amt Marines say needed to fix Lejeune after last storm."

Trump usurped the Congressional "power of the purse," to use James Madison's phrase, under our Constitution. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi declined to charge Trump with this and other similarly impeachable spending violations. Now we know one reason why-the ongoing secret budget deal.

Just as astonishing was that the Democrats caved on the funding for Obamacare. Year after year, Democratic leaders defended Obamacare, rather than support more efficient full Medicare for All (with free choice of doctor and hospital). See H.R. 1384 for the most recent version of Medicare for All.

With the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just deciding against the individual mandate in Obamacare, what does the House Democratic leadership do? They go along with the Republicans' demand to repeal the medical device and health insurance taxes that were helping to fund Obamacare's expansion of health insurance coverage for twenty million people.

It gets worse. The House Democrats approved a huge increase of $22 billion to the already bloated, wasteful military budget in return for Trump approving paid family leave for federal government employees. The Democrats made this deal instead of just pushing for paid maternity leave, a right provided in all other Western democracies and numerous dictatorships in the world!

"No problem," say the feeble Democrats. It is just more of the terrible practice by the Democrats of giving equal increases for the military budget, demanded by the Republican illegal war hawks, as the price for social service funds for low income families and children. What a grotesque way to spend taxpayer money!

To what level has this Congress lowered itself? Allowing the Trump dump to contaminate Congress even extends to cruel bigotry. They allowed Trump to extend his racist discrimination against the American citizens of Puerto Rico by reducing the Medicaid funds from $12 billion over four years to up to $5.7 billion over two years. The higher sum and longer term already were endorsed by Republican and Democratic leaders on two Congressional Committees.

Robert Greenstein, director of the highly respected Center on Budget and policy priorities, declared that "with another funding cliff looming in two years under the new agreement, Puerto Rico may continue to lack the certainty it needs to commit to long-term increases of its very low payment rates to health care providers [vendors] to stem their alarming exodus to the mainland, to provide coverage for such key health treatments as drugs to treat Hepatitis C, and to cover more poor, uninsured residents."

Over the years, Congress has weakened its exclusive constitutional "power of the purse" by giving presidents waivers. As with the war powers, Congress has delegated more of its constitutional authority to the Executive Branch.

Just days ago, the racist President Trump bragged before a large campaign rally that he has cut off "six hundred million dollars" in aid for Palestinian relief, including aid for suffering children. This was a long term assistance program, under past Republican and Democratic administrations, to help provide the barest necessities to displaced and impoverished Palestinians whose territories are blockaded or militarily occupied by the Israeli government.

Washington justified such expenditures for both humanitarian and security purposes. No more, says the imperial Trump, exercising his Congressionally-granted waiver.

Congress has also long abandoned its constitutional authority over tariffs to the imperial presidency. Constitutional litigator Alan Morrison has challenged the White House's unilateral imposition of tariffs-now involving tens of billions of dollars-on imports from foreign countries. In January Morrison will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that the authority to impose tariffs belongs to Congress.

What is Trump doing with these tens of billions of dollars deposited in the U.S. Treasury? Congress has not approved spending them for any programs or objectives. When I asked a staffer with the House Budget Committee what is being done with loads of money, she replied that "we have it under study."

Secret government has its direct consequences for the American people, and abdication of congressional checks on the Executive Branch is harmful and cowardly.

(c) 2019 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

This Dec. 24, 1968, file photo made available by NASA shows the Earth behind the surface of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission.

The Gift Of Perspective
Our existence at any scale is indeed a cosmic gift, even more so when we consider its full range of operation.
By Randall Amster

Among the many wonders of the digital age is the ability to zoom in or zoom out with the push of a button. Whether used on a camera, video screen, or a magnifying app, this quality of jumping scale is critical for a multitude of purposes, but probably underappreciated when compared to functions with more bells and whistles. In this holiday season, however, it might be useful to consider it a rare gift.

Just half a century ago (51 years, to be precise), the astronauts of Apollo 8 sent a message back to Earth on Christmas Eve en route to the moon, addressing a quarter of the world's population through a live video feed. They quoted scripture, reflected on the distant gaze, and (after a successful rocket burn pointed them home) appropriately shared the good news: "Please be informed: there is a Santa Claus."

All of this, however, was merely the preamble to what may be the most enduring feat of this mission: the first pictures of Earth from space, shared back with all of the planet's inhabitants. Much was written about this last year on the 50th anniversary of the mission, with commentators advancing sentiments noting that it "changed how we see ourselves." The profundity inspired bards and conservationists alike.

In addition to providing fodder for lyricists and helping to launch the modern-day environmental movement (the first Earth Day was held 16 months later), this momentous "Earthrise" event set the template for what later became known as the "overview effect"-a cognitive moment of mental clarity sparked by seeing the "big picture" and recognizing both the beauty and frailty of our earthly existence.

Indeed, on the Apollo 8 mission itself, pilot Jim Lovell casually observed: "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." The astronauts who brought us this awesomeness went into space as pilots and came back as poets, believing that the cosmic gift of novel perspective might be humankind's saving grace from the ravages of conflict and degradation.

From the vantage point of space, it is difficult to see the Earth as anything but a shared home and a single interconnected system. Zooming out, even just into near space, blurs lines of human and geographical division, and for a moment at least has the potential to unite humanity in common purpose. As cliched as it sounds in a jaded world, such a view may be our last best hope for the future.

Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and even lofty images and aspirations eventually have to get back down to ground-level. Zooming out may soften the edges for a moment, but with crises ranging from climate change to weapons of devastation, it is incumbent upon us to zoom in and engage the issues where we find them; this means less poetry and more politics, less ecotopia and more economics.

As it turns out, though, the micro and macro scales possess a curious convergence in which the stark and sometimes crude "reality" that is packaged and promoted to us through nearly every portal is merely an arbitrary position on a spectrum from which both endpoints convey a sense of wonder. Our existence at any scale is indeed a cosmic gift, even more so when we consider its full range of operation.

A landmark short film from 1977 called "Powers of Ten" played with this concept and inspired a generation of schoolchildren in the process, conveying from the limits of knowledge how the emptiness of space is normal while "the richness of our own neighborhood is the exception." A recent digital homage titled "Cosmic Eye" likewise plays on these concepts, with the addition of cutting-edge effects.

Befitting the era, Cosmic Eye also has a corollary app that allows users to "zoom in and out of a preset image, by enormous zoom factors, reaching down the smallest known subatomic particles and up to the entire observable universe." In all of these treatments, there is an intriguing similarity between the micro and macro scales, comprised of vast empty spaces and sporadic clusters of mind-bending lights.

This capacity to think at scale-to do a "deep dive" and dig into the key details when one is so inclined, or to surf the waves and take a bird's-eye view-is a hallmark of our times. In this season where many are inclined for a moment to see the good, perhaps this capacity can reclaim its spirit of awe and be deployed toward the immense challenges before us. If so, it may well be the greatest gift ever delivered.

(c) 2019 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University. Among his most recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and the co-edited volume Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013).

Can "Powerless Nobodies" Fight The Corporate Powers?
By Jim Hightower

Generations of working class shrimpers, oysterers, and other fishing families on the sparkling bays along the Texas coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, have long shared the waterways with alligators and snakes that also call this place home.

But in the 1980s, a strange and invasive new critter entered Lavaca Bay, and it's been devouring whole species of seafood, along with the livelihoods of local Gulf communities. This was not some monster from the deep, but a massive, 45,000-acre factory owned by Formosa Plastics Corporation, founded by the richest man in Taiwan.

Formosa is not here for seafood. It's the world's second largest fabricator of polyvinyl chloride, the tiny, highly-toxic pebbles and powders used to make gabillions of plastic bags, pipes, bottles, etc. For decades, Formosa has cavalierly been dumping trillions of these poisonous pebbles and tons of the polyvinyl powders into its wastewater - which end up in Lavaca Bay.

That poisonous content then spreads to other bays and into the shrimp, oysters, fish, and other creatures living there. The result has been species vanishing from these waters, creating economic and social devastation for families and communities that rely on nature's bounty.

Wait, isn't this against the law? Of course - but petrochemical behemoths like Formosa have corrupted the law, turning Texas lawmakers and environmental regulators into their puppets. But, when leaders won't lead, The People must, and that's exactly what's happening in this case. A defiant, determined shrimper and a scrappy environmental coalition have combined to win the largest citizen environmental lawsuit in US history, forcing Formosa to stop its gross contamination.

For information on the details and impact of this remarkable people's victory, go to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.

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

Members of Reporters Without Borders attend a protest demanding justice for murdered journalist
Jamal Khashoggi outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Berlin, Germany on October 1, 2019.

Let 2020 Be The Year Of A Truly Free Press
We all have a responsibility to ensure that journalists are free to do their work, without threats of injury, imprisonment, or death.
By Amy Goodman

The grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Arabian operatives inside their consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, reportedly on direct orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was compounded Monday when the Saudi Arabian public prosecutor announced that five people had been sentenced to death for the crime. Two senior members of the Saudi government, including a close adviser to the crown prince, were released for "lack of evidence." The case of Jamal Khashoggi highlights just how dangerous the practice of journalism can be, especially when elected leaders like President Donald Trump ignore, condone or even inflame hostility and violence against reporters.

Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) responded, saying the announcement "shows that the Saudi government under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is committed to an ongoing mockery of justice."

CPJ defends the right of journalists to report the news safely, without fear of reprisal. Their recent report on journalists killed in 2019 named 25 journalists, the lowest number since 2002. Of those, 10 were murdered directly because of their work as journalists, which is the lowest number since CPJ started keeping records in 1992. Five of the 10 murdered were in Mexico, which is on par with Syria as the most dangerous place to work as a journalist. CPJ still has an additional 25 deaths of journalists under investigation, so the total will likely change.

CPJ also tracks reporters imprisoned around the world, and counts at least 250 currently behind bars. The greatest jailers of journalists in 2019 are China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Beneath that grim statistic that 10 reporters were murdered in 2019 lies an important shift toward a public rejection of impunity for violence against journalists. CPJ's Elana Beiser noted in their report three recent cases that define the trend: the October 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Malta; the 2018 killing of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in their home in Slovakia; and the Khashoggi case. Both Galizia and Kuciak were reporting on corruption at the highest levels of government in their respective countries when they were murdered.

Recently, as thousands marched in the streets of Malta demanding accountability for the assassination of Galizia, the Mediterranean island nation's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he will be resigning in mid-January. Public pressure on Muscat increased in part due to a consortium of journalists who continued Galizia's work. The group calls itself "Forbidden Voices." They coordinated the Daphne Project, with 45 journalists pursuing Galizia's unfinished stories and investigating her assassination. Malta's richest man, gambling tycoon Yorgen Fenech, has been charged with complicity in the journalist's murder, and has been arrested in a separate money laundering case. Fenech is also linked to Muscat's former chief of staff.

Similarly, in the wake of the murder of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned, and the Slovak businessman who is accused of ordering the murder, Marian Kocner, is finally set to stand trial almost two years later.

Justice for Jamal Khashoggi remains elusive. Agnes Callamard, the United Nations' special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, tweeted after the announcement of the Saudi convictions: "Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery."

The Washington Post reported over a year ago that the CIA had concluded, on evidence that included intercepted phone calls, that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the killing. His close friendship with Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner has certainly contributed to the impunity he has so far enjoyed. One way to punish Saudi Arabia is through sanctions and denial of military aid -- options that were open until just last week, when Congress passed, and sent to the White House for Trump's signature, the $738 billion 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna issued a joint statement calling the NDAA "a bill of astonishing moral cowardice," in part for failing to deny aid to Saudi Arabia.

The role of a free press is to inform the public and to hold those in power accountable. We all have a responsibility to ensure that journalists are free to do their work, without threats of injury, imprisonment or death.

(c) 2019 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks with the media after the sixth Democratic primary debate on December 19, 2019.

Elizabeth Warren Took On Corruption In Both Parties
From impeachment to "wine caves," the senator refused to let President Trump, or her fellow Democrats, off the hook during the debate.
By John Nichols

Elizabeth Warren won Thursday night's PBS/Politico debate by taking on the corruption of Donald Trump and the corruption of the Democratic Party she hopes to represent as its 2020 presidential nominee.

The Massachusetts senator delivered her message relentlessly throughout the debate. Minutes after the forum opened, she seized on a question about impeachment, recalling President Trump's 2016 campaign promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington. "And yet he came to Washington, broke that promise, and has done everything he can for the wealthy and the well-connected, from tax breaks to ambassadorships," she declared. "We have to prosecute the case against him. And that means we need a candidate for president who can draw the sharpest distinction between the corruption of the Trump administration and a Democrat who is willing to get out and fight not for the wealthy and well-connected, but to fight for everyone else. That's why I'm in this race." Warren's debate statement picked up on a theme she has developed in recent days, as she has sought to distinguish her progressive populist candidacy from those of more moderate Democratic rivals such as Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden.

"Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I'm not counting on Republican politicians having an epiphany and suddenly supporting the kinds of tax increases on the rich or big-business accountability they have opposed under Democratic presidents for a generation," Warren argued in a December 12 speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. "Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I'm not betting my agenda on the naive hope that if Democrats adopt Republican critiques of progressive policies or make vague calls for unity that somehow the wealthy and well-connected will stand down."

On the debate stage Thursday night, Warren extended that theme by distinguishing her own policies from those of her more centrist rivals. Asked about critics who say her proposed tax hikes would "stifle growth and investment," Warren declared, "Oh, they're just wrong!" That pronouncement drew a roar of approval from the crowd, and the cheers continued as the senator explained her proposal for a 2 percent "wealth tax" on net worth between $50 million and $1 billion-as well as a 6 percent tax on billionaires.

With those new tax revenues, she said, "we can invest in the rest of America." And she went on to describe the ambitious social programs the money would fund.

That was too much for Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who with Warren, Biden, and Bernie Sanders has emerged as a front-running contender in the early caucus and primary states that will set the standard for next year's Democratic competition.

Buttigieg referred to Warren's approach as "extreme," and he argued that "we're being offered a false choice: You either go all the way to the extreme, or it's business as usual."

"Yes, taxes on individuals and on corporations are going to have to go up," he said. "We can also be smart about the promises we're making, make sure they're promises we can keep without the kind of taxation economists tell us would hurt the economy."

The sparring between Buttigieg and Warren was the sharpest of the debate, especially when they clashed over the financing of their campaigns. "Most of the people on this stage run a traditional campaign, and that means going back-and-forth, coast-to-coast to rich people," said Warren, who noted recent reports that Buttigieg had held a private fundraising event in a California "wine cave," where he was surrounded by wealthy donors.

"We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States," continued Warren. She then got off the best line of the night: "Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States."

Buttigieg reprised the old argument that big money is a necessary evil of contemporary politics. "We need to defeat Donald Trump," he said. "We shouldn't try to do it with one hand tied behind our back." The former mayor then took shots at his rival for her personal wealth, and for transferring money between campaign accounts, before griping that Warren was "issuing purity tests."

That response invited a takedown from the Warren campaign. Before the debate was done, it came.

"A president was impeached last night because of corruption," said Warren aide Kristen Orthman. "A Democratic nominee running on a defense of billionaires and lavish fundraisers in crystal wine caves, and in defense of the corrupt system that wealthy donors fuel, is a terrible risk for Democrats and very likely going to lose."

That was rough. But no rougher than the takedown Warren delivered during the exchange with Buttigieg. In it, she did not mention the mayor by name. She simply said, "Here's the problem: If you can't stand the wealthy and well-connected when it's relatively easy when you're a candidate, then how can the American people believe you're going to stand up to the wealthy and well-connected when you're president and it's really hard?"

That is the problem. And on Thursday night, Elizabeth Warren addressed it more effectively than any of the other candidates.

(c) 2019 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Did Jesus Really Exist?
By James Donahue

At an age when so many Bible thumpers are counting heavily on a mythological Jesus to come down out of the clouds and save them from a diseased, polluted and dying planet, a growing number of historical researchers are questioning whether this dynamic "savior" even existed.

Seattle psychologist and author Valerie Tarico has written a fascinating review of the New Testament conflicts in the Jesus story. In her article, which appeared in Alternet, Tarico looks deeply into the historical record, the timeline in which the New Testament books were written and chosen by biased theologians to make them fit the "story," and the way the Christian story plagiarizes so many earlier mythical accounts of god-like figures said to have walked among us.

The story of Jesus is shocking similar to the mythology surrounding Horus, Buddha, Mohammad, Mithra, Dionysus, Glycan, Romulus, Odysseus and Krishna. This raises the question: are all of the great world religions based on ancient mythology?

To question the very existence of Jesus is obviously thrusting against the grain of a vast contemporary religious belief and Tarico was fully aware of this fact. But she wrote: "For centuries all serious scholars of Christianity were Christians themselves, and modern secular scholars lean heavily on the groundwork that they laid in collecting, preserving and analyzing ancient texts." She said that because of their bias, they carefully chose the text that got into the contemporary Bible, going out of their way to "excavate the man behind the myth."

Tarico and numerous other contemporary critics of the Jesus story are pointing to some obvious flaws in the New Testament story.

Even though numerous books and documents written at the time Jesus and his disciples were supposed to have been wandering the hills and towns in the "Holy Land" exist, not one of them makes mention of Jesus. Not a single eye witness account can be found. Even Paul, who wrote most of the letters in the New Testament following the four gospels, only claims to have bumped into the spirit of Jesus while on the Road to Damascus long after the death and resurrection was supposed to have occurred. Yet events as dynamic as the ones created by the very presence of Jesus, and the story of his resurrection from the dead, surely would have been enough to have been recorded in some document of that period. They were not.

Paul, who wrote the earliest material to appear in the New Testament, fails to mention the miracles surrounding the virgin birth, the walking on water, raising the dead and healing the sick, and his references to Jesus' basic teachings are not only vague but in many cases they contradict the gospels. For example, Paul dismisses Peter and James, two leaders in the early Christian movement and supposedly disciples, as nobodies and repeatedly marks them as not being true Christians.

Tarico said theologian Marcus Borg has suggested that placing the New Testament books in chronological order, in the proper time line in which they were written, brings us to the shocking realization that the four Gospels, which appeared long after Paul, strongly suggests that the recorded story of Jesus' birth, life and death was "not the source of early Christianity, but its product."

The four gospels, which are believed to have been written years after Jesus supposedly lived, were not penned by apostles. They were assigned the names of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There is no record of the true authors of these writings, or when they were written.

Records at the Vatican show that the New Testament was mostly created in the Fourth Century. The Catholic Church's version of the New Testament was not recognized as important Christian text until the Fifteenth Century.

Careful study of the stories that appear in the four Gospels reveals that their accounts of the "historical Jesus" actually contradict each other. Students of the subject suggest that Mark was the original "life of Jesus" but it lacks detail. Tarico wrote that "linguistic analysis suggests that Luke and Matthew both reworked Mark and added their own corrections and new material. But they contradict each other and, to an even greater degree contradict the much later gospel of John, because they were written with different objectives for different audiences."

It is interesting to note that the Gospel of John, the last of the gospels written, is the only one that proclaims the deity of Jesus.

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

After the sun sets and all the House members have spoken their piece, Donald Trump will
almost certainly join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton in the presidential impeachment club.

Impeaching Trump Is Worth It, Even With the Senate Poised To Acquit
By William Rivers Pitt

A watershed moment in history is upon us. Later today - probably after the sun sets and all the House members have spoken their piece - Donald Trump will almost certainly join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton in the presidential impeachment club. Richard Nixon is an honorary member, though he slithered out of town like a septic snake before his impeachment ticket was officially punched.

Johnson, a vile racist, was impeached for having obstructed Reconstruction at every turn. Clinton was impeached for being a damn fool who cheated on his wife and then lied about it on television when he knew better than any living man that the Republican-controlled House was out to get him. Both survived their Senate trials. Nixon would have been impeached for breaking the law had he tried to gut it out, but his chances in the Senate were grim, which is why he put on his boogie shoes and fled back to San Clemente.

Donald Trump has also wantonly broken this country's laws, and today, he faces impeachment for it. That is to say, he will almost certainly be impeached for some of it, anyway. The crimes of bribery, conspiracy, coercion, obstruction of justice and the kidnapping of children at the southern U.S. border do not appear on the articles drafted by the House Judiciary Committee and approved by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They should be there, but they are not. Instead, Trump stands accused only of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and unless the Potomac thwarts its banks and subsumes the District of Columbia, Pelosi has the votes to get it done.

According to Trump and his vulgar minions on television and in Congress, progressives like me are very happy about all this. Speaking personally, nothing could be further from the truth. The idea of finding joy, not just in this moment but the path taken to arrive here, is nearly as sickening as Trump's presidency itself has been.

Is Trump a genuine menace to constitutional order and the rule of law? Demonstrably. Does he deserve to be removed from office? Unquestionably. Yet there is no pleasure to be found in the fact of his impeachment because of the flagrantly ruinous route we have journeyed to arrive here, and because the poisonous power of hate in politics all but guarantees his acquittal in the Senate.

Here is the truth of Trump: He has delivered everything that Republicans have historically expected from their presidents, deftly serving to distract the public with his deliberately inflicted mayhem while congressional Republicans rewrite the tax code and defenestrate environmental and financial regulations at the behest of their wealthy friends in the private sector. That is the point of Trump, the whole point, and the only point. Meanwhile, Republicans have used Trump's frenzied debasement of the office to stack the courts with far-right anti-choice judges who will squat on the bench for a generation.

The white power structure in the United States, flush with money and the will to use it, was bound to produce a president like Donald Trump sooner or later. If you look at Trump through Republican eyes, you begin to see why they continue to stand with him: Under his churlish gaze, they have gotten more than they could have ever dreamed of.

After two terms of a Black president, the "whitelash" (as Van Jones put it) came in a single ugly election that saw half the country shun the ballot box. The frankly racist members of Trump's base serve as foot soldiers in a culture war aimed at maintaining white power while looting the Treasury and despoiling the planet, again.

Conservative "Never-Trumpers" like former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum can shed ersatz tears over what Trump has done, but they are deeply complicit in this ongoing calamity. Men like Frum do not detest Trump because of the policies enacted under his administration, but because he is bad for the brand.

The United States is growing more racially and culturally diverse by the day, and the GOP has spent the last 55 years demagoguing on race and abortion to get their base to the polls. Thanks to Trump (and a Democratic Party power structure which has been in a fetal crouch since Ronald Reagan), that reactionary base is now in the political driver's seat. This is precisely as surprising as Jack jumping out of the box on a coiled spring after you prime the handle.

Sooner or later, demographics will be the windshield to the GOP's bug, and they know this, so they have chosen to ride the tiger of Trump-style racism and hate for as long as they can, plundering as they go while planting the seeds of far-right fascism within the federal courts. Republicans primed the handle for all those long years, Jack jumped out of the box, and the GOP intends to make hay while the sun still shines.

All signs forecast that Trump will be impeached today, but the Senate will almost certainly acquit him before the spring flowers nose their way through the peat, because this is what white power and money have wrought. A president as demonstrably crooked as Trump has no business continuing in office, and Article II of the Constitution was set out as a remedy for such a happenstance, but the Constitution is proving to be a gossamer safety web in the face of well-funded, well-trained, well-organized hate.

Even if some miracle of politics coalesces in the Senate and Trump is actually removed from office, the poison is already loose within the national bloodstream. It was David Frum himself who just this month wondered, "What if Trump-style politics were executed a little more deftly, by someone with a stronger work ethic?" Answer your own question, Mr. Frum, and find a mirror when you do it. Some will say a seemingly inevitable Senate acquittal makes this whole endeavor a waste of time, even a dangerous one, as the process has invigorated an already hyped GOP base in an election year. Stuff and nonsense: The left is on fire, too, as protests in favor of impeachment are taking place today in all 50 states. More than that, the Constitution demands this impeachment, win or lose.

It is bad enough that this despicable, cruel and law-breaking president will almost certainly retain his office when all is said and done. Had impeachment not been undertaken, even in the face of possible political setbacks, the only thing left would be to turn out the lights on this thought experiment of a nation. It is dark enough already as it is.

This is an important day, a momentous day, a historic day, but not a happy day, even for those of us who have been calling for impeachment since Trump first began flouting the laws he swore to uphold. This is what we have become as a nation, and it will be a long, perilous road to recovery, if in fact we even recover at all.

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

An aerial view of Alberta oil sandsThere's a concerted effort to silence or punish those who speak up about the impact
fossil fuel development and use, including oilsands bitumen, are having on air, water, land, animals, plants and climate.

Fossil Fuel Promoters Turn Logic On Its Head
By David Suzuki

We live in strange times. All evidence shows we're driving ourselves to a climate breakdown that threatens our survival, and what do governments do? Do they employ the many available solutions and work to educate the public and resolve the crisis? A few are trying, while some outright deny the evidence, some attack citizens who speak out about the emergency and others claim to care while planning ways to sell enough fossil fuels to cook the planet.

I just witnessed the poor outcome of the Madrid climate conference, where some countries - those most responsible for the climate emergency among them - continued to elevate the fossil fuel industry's interests above humanity's. When governments fail to lead, it's up to the people, which is why climate strikes, lawsuits, constructive conversations and pressuring governments are crucial.

Canada played a positive role in Madrid, but we need to accept an important reality: We can't burn all the bitumen in Alberta without putting our health, well-being, economy and likely survival at risk. Alberta and Canada needed a sensible plan to reduce fossil fuel reliance decades ago, including helping displaced workers. Now we've stalled for so long that the province and country need to lead on a global, all-out mobilization to avert catastrophe.

Instead, some Albertans - including in government - complain when schools use critical thinking exercises that illustrate varying perspectives on the oilsands. Alberta's government launched a "war room," ostensibly to provide a "fact-based narrative about Canadian energy" that "will reject what is false and promote what is true." Its website offers this upside down "truth": "expanding access to Canada's vast fossil fuel resources will significantly lower global greenhouse gas emissions." To add to the absurdity, the war room is partly funded by the province's carbon tax revenue and structured so it's not subject to freedom of information regulations!

There's a concerted effort to silence or punish those who speak up about the impact fossil fuel development and use, including oilsands bitumen, are having on air, water, land, animals, plants and climate.

Those who promote coal, oil and gas fear criticism of the industry. They know science is not on their side. They know a necessary change is coming, quickly. Banks are dumping Alberta bonds because of Alberta and Canada's poor climate record and high per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Investors are divesting from fossil fuels. Financial services company Moody's has downgraded Alberta's credit rating in part because of the province's dependence on fossil fuels. Tech companies are choosing to locate in provinces that don't prioritize fossil fuels over all else. And people in most of Canada voted for federal parties with real climate plans.

Maybe industry leaders believe they can stall for a while to facilitate more of the massive profits they've enjoyed while the planet was heating - and with help from media and politicians, they could be right. But that would be to all our detriment.

The federal government's decision on whether or not to green-light Teck's proposed Frontier Mine will be a good indicator of how seriously it takes the global climate emergency. Industry and government justify the project - a 292-square-kilometre open-pit bitumen mine that will produce 260,000 barrels a day until 2066 (with full shutdown and reclamation in 2081) - by claiming the sector could remain below the 100-megatonne cap on greenhouse gas emissions imposed by the previous provincial government. But they don't account for emissions from burning the product in countries where it will end up.

The mine will also destroy 3,000 hectares of old growth forest and 14,000 hectares of wetlands (both important carbon sinks), threaten wildlife including bison, lynx and caribou, and comes with uncertainty around cleanup. It's also based on an unrealistic sale-price estimate of US$95 a barrel.

The federal government has until the end of February to decide whether it will proceed.

With global heating and its impacts accelerating faster than scientists predicted - including the Greenland ice sheet melting at a rate seven times faster than in the 1990s and Arctic warming releasing carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost - we absolutely must shift rapidly to a less-wasteful society that uses renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.

With every year that passes, scientists' warnings get more urgent. We must resolve to act decisively in the coming year.

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

I'm A Lucky Motherf*cker. We All Are.
A few words about the sudden intervention of an automobile into my affairs-and into my lower back.
By Charles P. Pierce

As you may have noticed, the shebeen has been disarranged for the past couple of weeks. The sudden intervention of an automobile into my affairs-and, it must be said, into my lower back-has kept me watching the considerable landfill of recent news from the sidelines-often, I must admit, severely hopped up on goofballs, as Joe Friday would have said. (I got a small glimpse of the opioid crisis from the inside and, let me tell you, the other day, the oxy was whispering to me the way Richard Pryor's crack pipe used to talk to him. Motherfcker is strong, Jack.)

I am one lucky motherfcker, I'll tell you that. If I had bounced another foot, I would have bounced into oncoming traffic, which would have complicated matters considerably. My head landed hard, but it landed in a snowbank, which not only cushioned the blow but slowed the bleeding. I was one lucky motherfcker because of the people who surrounded me while I was on the road. The first-aid worker who was first on the scene and called my wife. The nurse who had just come off an overnight shift and who apparently left all the fcks she had to give back in her work locker. Some idiot started honking his horn to get around the scene, and she took a bit of time out to yell, in a wicked pissah Boston accent, "Will you shut the fuck up, you arsehole!" at him. Nurses, man. They could take over the world in an hour.

I am one lucky motherfcker because of the people at The Brigham who worked on me. The ER doctors and nurses, many of whom I will never recognize again because I only saw them upside down. They kept me calm and comfortable while they inspected, detected, neglected, and rejected every part of me. Of course, my family, who went to DefCon 1 immediately. My wife and daughter beat me to the Brigham and, when I began to get agitated, as is my wont in any medical situation including reruns of MASH, my daughter booted up the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack on her phone and put it next to my ear. Worked as well as the Toradol did. (Hi again, Toradol!) I am one lucky motherfcker.

And then there were the ward nurses and the nurses aides and the various types of orderlies and technician. At one point or another, I was shuffled around the hospital hallways by a man from Ethiopia, two people from Haiti, and a woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Americans all, dammit. Let me tell you about Myosha. Her parents brought her from Haiti when she was very small and now she's in high school. She works six days a week hauling the likes of me around on gurneys, and she was taking me down to get yet another X-ray when I asked her what she wanted to do when she graduated. She wants to be a physician's assistant, Myosha told me, and she wants to work in the ER Trauma unit. That's tough work, I told her. I was just there. Yes, she told me, and that's where people need help the most. She was disappointed because she'd learned that morning that she wouldn't have to work on Christmas Day. "I wanted to work that day," she told me. "with the old people in the hospital, because they have nobody with them and it is Christmas." Honest to god, if she'd sprouted wings and flown me down the hall, I wouldn't have been shocked at all.

I have heard from so many people, even some of them who have felt the kick of the shebeen's poitin straight, no chaser. Joe Scarborough shouted me out on TV; that one had me wondering whether or not it was the goofballs, I admit. My direct-messages on the electric Twitter machine included old sportswriting pals and people I'd worked with at all my various stops. (One former colleague assured me that we could commit a federal narcotics crime and get away with it.) I heard from the longform brigade, one and all, and from athletes and coaches, pols and pundits and TV stars, and even from one presidential candidate, who shall remain anonymous. I heard from all corners of the blogosphere.

And, best of all, of course, I heard from the longtime denizens of the shebeen, many of whom are now paying a cover charge for the two-drink minimum, and I thank you all for that again. What I'm saying is that, along with a look into the opioid crisis, I got a deep vision of the simple fact that there is still a lot of good in this erratic, carbon-based lifeform that we are. Generally, at this time of year, I quote from A Christmas Carol the rebuttal that Scrooge's nephew, Fred, throws back at the wretched, covetous old sinner in reply to the very first "Bah, Humbug" that the old man utters. (By the way, ACC was first published in London on this week in 1831. I learned this on the intertoobz because what in the hell else did I have to do.) But we're going a little deeper into the text this year, I think, to our first visit to the home of the Cratchits. Scrooge and the Spirit of Christmas Present are invisible in the corner of the little hovel when Bob and Tim come back from church.

"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content. "As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see." These are the some of the things I thought while I was lying alone, in the street and in the hospital. We are all lucky motherfckers, the lot of us, even if sometimes, we can't quite see it. I hear the mail thump. Christmas cards!

Nope. Another inescapable milestone on the road to recovery.

Letters from personal-injury attorneys.

God bless us all, everyone.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
~~~ John F. Kennedy ~ Profiles in Courage

Six Reasons Elizabeth Warren Should Volunteer To Be Bernie Sanders' Running Mate
By David Swanson

Why in the world should Elizabeth Warren choose to run for vice president?

The obvious answer that can save you the time of reading further or, you know, thinking, is my blatant sexism. Clearly, every time I've supported female candidates in the past for City Council, House of Delegates, Congress, and the White House has been part of an elaborate plot - no doubt hatched in Moscow - to create a cover for my secret but very real sexism, which I was saving for just this crucial moment. Also, my considering a dozen male candidates to all be dramatically worse than Elizabeth Warren is an obvious pretense and scam, as also therefore must be the positions I've taken on public policies for decades.

Or, there could be some other reasons worth considering. Here are six.

1. A Bernie Sanders - Elizabeth Warren ticket would take the nomination, and take it early, allowing the pair of them to focus on defeating Trump-Pence.

Here are the four most recent polls:

Emerson: Biden 32%, Sanders 25%, Warren 12%, Buttigieg 8%.
Economist / Yougov: Biden 29%, Sanders 19%, Warren 17%, Buttigieg 7%.
USA Today / Suffolk: Biden 23%, Sanders 14%, Warren 13%, Buttigieg 8%.
Morning Consult: Biden 31%, Sanders 22%, Warren 15%, Buttigieg 8%.

Here are those results with Sanders and Warren combined:

Sanders-Warren 37%, Biden 32%, Buttigieg 8%.
Sanders-Warren 36%, Biden 29%, Buttigieg 7%.
Sanders-Warren 27%, Biden 23%, Buttigieg 8%.
Sanders-Warren 37%, Biden 31%, Buttigieg 8%.

Obviously one cannot simply do the math or predict how every potential voter would react to the combining of two campaigns, but this gives us a rough idea. The momentum and excitement and instant front-runner status might actually result in a larger lead than these numbers suggest. 2. Bernie Sanders is leading Elizabeth Warren in the polls.

3. Bernie Sanders is older than Elizabeth Warren. A successful run by these two could mean eight years for Warren as Vice President plus eight years as President.

4. Bernie Sanders has a stronger platform than Elizabeth Warren, including on foreign policy, budget choices, Green New Deal, free college, and Medicare for All.

5. Elizabeth Warren is the strongest running mate Sanders is likely to find. Her platform has more overlap with his than does that of any other presidential candidate. This is true completely regardless of Warren's sex, race, age, ethnicity, home state, or anything else, but in an age in which tokenism has been elevated to complete respectability, the electoral importance of nominating a woman is significant.

6. Joe Biden is an amazing disaster as a candidate and as an elected official.

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

The Dead Letter Office-

John gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Chefredakteur Micklethwait,

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

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your lies about keeping Bloomberg News out of the Democratic race, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2019. We salute you Herr Micklethwait, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

America's Next President: Warren Sanders
By Robert Reich

There aren't twenty Senate Republicans with enough integrity to remove the most corrupt president in American history, so we're going to have to get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way - by electing a Democrat next November 3.

That Democrat will be Warren Sanders.

Although there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I'm putting them together for the purpose of making a simple point.

These two have most of the grass-roots energy in the 2020 campaign, most of the enthusiasm, and most of the ideas critical for America's future.

Together, they lead Biden and every other so-called moderate Democrat by a wide margin in all polls.

That's because the real political divide in America today is establishment versus anti-establishment - the comparatively few at the top who have siphoned off much of the wealth of the nation versus everyone else whose wages and prospects have gone nowhere.

Warren and Sanders know the system is rigged and that economic and political power must be reallocated from a corporate-Wall Street elite to the vast majority.

This is why both Warren and Sanders are hated by the Democratic Party establishment.

It's also why much of the corporate press is ignoring the enthusiasm they're generating. And why it's picking apart their proposals, like a wealth tax and Medicare for All, as if they were specific pieces of legislation.

And why corporate and Wall Street Democrats are mounting a campaign to make Americans believe Warren and Sanders are "too far to the left" to beat Trump, and therefore "unelectable."

This is total rubbish. Either of them has a better chance of beating Trump than does any other Democratic candidate.

Presidential elections are determined by turnout. Over a third of eligible voters in America don't vote. They go to the polls only if they're motivated. And what motivates people most is a candidate who stands for average people and against power and privilege.

Average Americans know they're getting the scraps while corporate profits are at record highs and CEOs and Wall Street executives are pocketing unprecedented pay and bonuses.

They know big money has been flooding Washington and state capitals to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy; roll back health, safety, environment, and labor protections; and allow big business to monopolize the economy, using its market power to keep prices high and wages low.

Most Americans want to elect someone who's on their side.

In 2016 some voted for Trump because he conned them into believing he was that person.

But since elected he's given big corporations and Wall Street everything they've wanted - rollbacks of health, safety, and environmental protections, plus a giant $2 trillion tax cut that's boosted stock prices and executive pay while nothing trickled down.

Trump is still fooling millions into thinking he's on their side, and that their problems are due to immigrants, minorities, cultural elites, and "deep state" bureaucrats rather than a system that's rigged for the benefit of those at the top.

But some of these Trump supporters would join with other Americans and vote for a candidate in 2020 who actually took on power and privilege.

This is where Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders come in.

Their core proposals would make the system work for everyone and alter the power structure in America:Medicare for All based on a single payer rather than private for-profit corporate insurance; a Green New Deal to create millions of good jobs fighting climate change; free public higher education; universal childcare.

All financed mainly by a tax on the super-rich.

They'd also get big money out of politics and rescue democracy from the corporate and Wall Street elites who now control it.

They're the only candidates relying on small donations rather than trolling for big handouts from corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy - or rich enough to self-finance their own campaigns.

Only two things stand in their way.

The first is the power structure itself, which is trying to persuade Democrats that they should put up a milquetoast moderate instead.

The second is the possibility that, as the primary season heats up, supporters of Warren and Sanders will wage war on each other - taking both of them down.

It's true that only one of them can be the Democratic nominee. But if the backers of both Sanders and Warren eventually come together behind one of them, they'll have the votes to take the White House, and even flip the Senate.

President Warren Sanders can then start clearing the wreckage left by Trump, and make America decent again.

(c) 2019 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

Michael Bloomberg At The AGU
Was gonna write a hit piece on him but...
By Jane Stillwater

Front and center at a recent Michael Bloomberg event in San Francisco? Seated within mere feet from an actual billionaire? Hey, that's me! Somehow I managed to score the absolutely best seat in a room that held 3,000 people. Is karma my bitch or what! Maybe I should play the lottery too, I'm feeling that lucky. We were all waiting to hear Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg talk about the current climate crisis.

Then a science guy from the Midwest in the seat next to me started man-splaining about how climate-crisis-denying politicians in the pay of huge corporations are constantly battling to prevent any sort of effort to stave off extinction of the human race. "At first they denied it was even happening at all but now they just tell us that solar power will give us cancer." Uh, no. It won't. "All you need is to use one-tenth of one percent of Michigan's farmland to solar-power the entire state." Our fossil-fuel warlords don't want us to know that. <0P> Then Brown and Bloomberg walked onstage. Damn it, I forgot my camera. They were only 12 feet away. But there's still the old-school option of pen and ink, right? So I'm sitting here in the front row, totally ready to write a hit-piece on Bloomberg, the billionaire who has suddenly switched from being a neo-con Repub to being a climate-protecting Man of the People. Humph.

"No one in the Midwest has even heard of Michael Bloomberg," said the man seated to my right. And does Bloomberg have a facelift? I wish I look that good at his age.

But then Bloomberg speaks. Oh, crap. He's really actually into this climate crisis stuff, has been since the 1990s, puts his money where his mouth is. There goes my dream of an actual hit piece.

"This is the most important time to be working in science," he tells the 3,000 science nerds who are avidly listening. "And we desperately need politicians who are not purveyors of 'alternative facts' at this crucial time." Yeah, we do need them. Desperately. Sometimes we Americans get so thoroughly involved in our own current soap operas that we forget the very real dangers of the Big Picture when we pull the levers of our (highly tampered with) voting machines.

"Ending the climate crisis is not a scientific problem. We can do this. It is a political problem." Oh. That's probably why he is running for prez -- not for fame and glory? Hmmm. "Climate-change deniers have gone from saying 'It doesn't exist' to 'It's a commie plot' to 'It may exist -- but it wasn't caused by me!' Climate capture is our only viable solution. And we need educated people to save the world."

Tell that to the current administration. America is currently # 22 in science education. There are currently twenty-one other countries who are both smarter than us and have more science nerds in the pipeline. That's just scary.

"But this is a world-wide problem and it needs a world-wide solution. We need China and India onboard with this too." This is no time to go picking a trade-war with China. "We need China to join us in this fight. The trade war isn't helping here."

Altogether Bloomberg gave a very impressive speech. However, like the guy next to me just commented, "If he really wanted to get his message across, he should just spend all this money on simply buying Fox News."

But still and all, I was impressed with the new "Mike" Bloomberg. Why? Because the climate crisis is really a big deal for me. I gots grandchildren. I would like to see them survive the next twenty years. And Bloomberg is still far better than what we are stuck with in Washington now.

PS: Neither Bloomberg nor Brown mentioned the greatest polluter of all -- war-mongering. Imperialism. "Humanitarian intervention". Afghanistan. Libya. Iraq. Yemen. Korea. Palestine. Bolivia. Chile. Bosnia. Vietnam. Honduras. Guatemala. Ukraine. Syria. Bombs that go bump in the night -- and calculated slaughter of women and children by the millions. Imperial "wars" that are murdering our climate too. And us as well.

Let's face it, guys. We Americans aren't never gonna give up our cars. We're like those lung-cancer patients who smoke til it kills us. But.... I think that Americans may finally be willing to give up on "war".

Bloody imperialism since 9-11 has been a really bad seven-trillion-dollar consumer decision. We coulda bought solar-powered cars instead. And perhaps in the future we Americans may finally wake up and chose American values and Jesus' teachings (and sustainable energy) here at home -- instead of the wholesale murder of babies abroad.

Hey, it could happen.

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

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Signe Wilkinson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

President Donald Trump

Trump Claims He Knows John Dingell Is In Hell Because He Sees Window Into Terrifying Inferno Every Time He Closes His Eyes
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Clarifying controversial remarks he made about the deceased Michigan lawmaker last night, Donald Trump told reporters Thursday he can confirm the late congressman John Dingell is in hell because of the window into a terrifying inferno the president sees every time he closes his eyes.

"Each night, when I lie down in bed, I feel the heat of eternal flames and hear the screams of the damned," said Trump, explaining that he has gazed into the hideous abyss and seen Satan himself feasting upon the maggot-infested corpse of the long-serving former representative.

"John's definitely down there along with all the other poor souls crying out to be released from ceaseless torment. He's always whispering that the fate awaiting me will be far, far worse than his, beyond anything I could possibly comprehend. Why do you think I barely sleep?"

Members of the White House press pool were then seen running from the briefing room as the blood drained from the president's face, his eyes rolled back in his head, and, using an inhumanly deep, guttural voice, he began to mutter strange incantations in Latin.

(c) 2019 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 52 (c) 12/27/2019

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