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In This Edition

Dahr Jamail reports, "Studies Warn Of Increasing Sea Level Rise."

Norman Solomon examines, "With Beto O'Rourke As Lightning Rod, Corporate Democrats Aim To Stifle Criticism."

Margaret Kimberley studies, "UK and US PSYOP Collusion."

Jim Hightower wonders, "What Would A Real President Do?"

David Swanson concludes, "Russiagate Smashes Human Survival Attempts."

John Nichols says, "Paul Ryan Sends A Chill Down Scrooge's Spine."

James Donahue asks, "Can An Iceberg Assume a Perfect Rectangular Shape?"

William Rivers Pitt remembers, "Before There Was Christmas, There Was The Solstice, And Hope."

Heather Digby Parton foresees, "A Year Of Living Dangerously, Straight Ahead."

Matthew Rozsa warns, "Patrick Shanahan is the defense contractor Trump picked to take over the Pentagon."

Charles P. Pierce says, "Merry Christmas To The Shebeen."

Ralph Nader tells, "25 Ways The Canadian Health Care System Is Better Than Obamacare."

Jane Stillwater compares, "Donald Trump."

Sen. James Lankford R/OK, wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich gives the, "10 Steps To Save American Democracy."

Chris Hedges observes, "Banishing Truth."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Named Man Of The Year By ISIS" but first Uncle Ernie is, "Listening For The New Told Lies."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Korterba, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Andrew Matthews, Gage Skidmore, Win McNamee, Joe Raedle, Shunli Zhad, NASA, 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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Listening For The New Told Lies
By Ernest Stewart

We starve, look at one another, short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions of lonely tunes.
Let The Sunshine In ~~~ Hair

"Looking back at the data, years with moderate to strong El Nino's continue to trend warmer. If this upcoming El Nino reaches at least moderate strength and persists at least 9 months, then I think that 2019 can end up in the top two warmest on record globally." ~~~ Brett Anderson ~ AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist

"Well if you say 'who gets fired,' it always has to be the top. I mean, problems start from the top and have to get solved from the top. And the president's the leader and he has to get everyone in a room and lead and he doesn't do that. He doesn't like doing that - that is not his strength. And that's why you have this horrible situation going on in Washington too. It's a very, very bad thing and it's also embarrassing worldwide." ~~~ Donald tRump ~ on government shutdowns September 2013.

"Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others." ~~~ Booker T. Washington ~ Up from Slavery

Back in 2001 when we first started the magazine we started counting the lies that Smirky told and by years end we were well over 300. At that point we gave up as they were coming at us by the dozens on a weekly basis and we felt that we had made our point.

Compared to Bush, the tRumpster makes Bush look like a saint! In a few more weeks of his government shut down the poor, the elderly and the sick will start paying for tRumps lies with their lifes.

Trump said the other day the folks he laid off or forced to work without pay were behind his shut down. The folks he laid off began saying just the opposite. when those tweets began piling up by the thousands, tRump shrugged those tweets off saying they were all Democrats, of course, many were, but many of them came from his former supporters.

Trumps pulling us out of Syria because, he says, ISIS has been destroyed. Wrong! He's pulling us out of Syria because Putin told him too. His pee tapes must be something to behold!

His midnight flight to Iraq gave us more lies and really pissed off the Iraqi government who spent the better part of two days cursing his name and calling him on his lies. Of course, tRump violated several US laws by politicalizing his trip to the troops. If tRump isn't lying he's violating the law, or, he's usually doing both.

How many lies has tRump told? We gave up counting after 500 in his first 90 days so your guess is as good as mine! But we'll keep listening for them, and pointing them out to you!

In Other News

I see where climate scientists are warning that 2019 may be the warmest year on record largely as the result of a possible El Nino event exacerbated by man-made global warming.

According to NOAA there is a 90 percent chance that El Nino will form and continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2018-19 and a 60 percent chance that it will continue into the spring of 2019, says the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

El Nino is a part of a routine climate pattern that occurs "when sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean rise to above-normal levels for an extended period of time. It can last anywhere from 4 to 16 months and it typically has a warming influence on the global temperature."

The opposite of El Nino, La Nina, is when sea-surface temperatures in the central Pacific drop to lower-than-normal levels.

Again, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), these warm and cool phases are part of a recurring climate pattern that occurs across this section of the Pacific, known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation or (ENSO).

The strong El Nino of late 2015 to early 2016 helped boost global temperatures to their warmest on record in 2016, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, who said:

"However, if there was no El Nino during that period, I still suspect that 2016 would have still ranked as the second warmest year on record globally due to the steady increase in greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which trap heat closer to the surface."

So far, 2018 is on pace to likely be the third warmest year on record, behind 2016 and 2017.

"What's interesting is that 2018 started out under La Nina conditions, which usually has a cooling influence on global temperatures, but it was not nearly enough to cancel out the warming from the release of man-made greenhouse gases," Anderson said.

So, fasten your seatbelts, America! It's going to be a bumpy new year!

And Finally

I guess it's just a case of "Don't do as I do, do as I say?" I know, my bad! I predicted the tRump wouldn't shut down the government just before Christmas, especially after making that quote above. After blaming Obama for the Rethuglican shut down in 2013. He of course blamed Obama but when it came to his own shutdown of the government he blames the Democrats. Anyone surprised by that?

tRump has flip-flopped several times in the course of just a week on the shutdown he's caused. First, Trump said "I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. ... I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it," after he said many times that Mexico would pay for the wall. Then on Friday, when a shutdown looked inevitable with no budget deal reached, Trump tweeted, "The Democrats now own the shutdown!" So much for his "mantle and pride," eh.

As the Democrats offer has gone down his demand has gone up! About the shut down tRump has said, "If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time."

tRump said Tuesday the government won't reopen until funding is secured for his border barrier, and he plans to go to the border in January to visit a new stretch of wall.

"I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it," tRump said in the Oval Office after a Christmas call denying Santa Claus is real to a seven year old girl. tRump boggles the mind!

Keepin' On

Nothing's changed folks, the time has come and gone, and so some of our arthors and artists won't be available to us. We turned up $1160 short of paying our bills for this year. That's the first time in the magazines history since our beginning in 2000 that we failed to raise the "rent."

For once I'm at a loss for words, imagine that! That's the trouble with being a sooth sayer. When people ask me what is it that I do, I have been known to say, "I piss people off." You'd be amazed how mad you can make some people by just telling the truth, saying the sooth! The Matrix, I hear, is very warm and comfortable, and over the years while we did unplug this, or that person, we found ourselves, mainly, just preaching to the choir! C'est la guerre!"

We'll keep fighting the good fight until the rest of the money runs out. 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 saying the sooth!


07-13-1957 ~ 12-26-2018
Thanks for the film!

06-20-1935 ~ 12-26-2018
Thanks for the film!


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

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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) 2018 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.

People look out at the rough seas near to Durdle Door in Dorset, on December 15, 2018.

Studies Warn Of Increasing Sea Level Rise
By Dahr Jamail

The most recent gathering of scientists at the American Geophysical Union in Washington, DC, brought deeply troubling news about the Antarctic.

Jeremy Shakun, a paleoclimatologist at Boston College, told Science that the large increase in the loss of ice mass in Antarctica in the last decade or two could already be the beginning stage of the process of collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Ice loss in the Antarctic has tripled in just the last decade alone, and is currently losing 219 billion metric tons of ice annually. That number is up from 73 billion metric tons per year as of a decade ago.

"The big uptick in mass loss observed there in the past decade or two is perhaps the start of" the larger-scale collapse of the glaciers, Shakun told Science.

If that is the case, the world must begin preparations immediately for sea levels that will rise far more abruptly than previously expected, with ocean waters rising as fast as 2.5 meters every one hundred years.

The aforementioned discovery presented at the annual meeting of scientists also revealed that during the last brief warm period between Earth's ice ages, which took place 125,000 years ago and when global temperatures were barely higher than they are today in our greenhouse-warmed planet, sea levels were six to nine meters (20 to 30 feet) higher than they are right now.

That amount of sea level rise means that New York, Boston, Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Jakarta, Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo, Mumbai, Kolkata, Dhaka and Ho Chi Minh City are among the many cities that will, sooner or later, have to be moved or abandoned entirely to the sea.

East Antarctica Is Melting From Below

Eastern Antarctica has always been seen as a place virtually impervious to melting, and has often been referred to as the "last bastion" of stable ice on the planet.

However, recent data has shown that a group of glaciers covering 13 percent of the coastline of that side of the frozen continent are melting from below due to warming oceans.

And disturbingly, 2017 was the hottest year on record for the oceans, and the fifth year in a row that oceans set a record for how warm they had become due to human-caused climate change.

It is already known that the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is experiencing serious retreat with a three-fold increase in acceleration having been reported in recent years. But NASA scientist Catherine Walker used measurements of ocean temperatures and computer modeling to show that the heat being delivered to certain glaciers in the Eastern Antarctic was coming from warming oceans.

"The finding has very serious repercussions for climate change and particularly sea-level rise," Chris Fogwill, a professor at Keele University in England told The Guardian. "It has the potential to mean that our sea-level projections could be [in] an order of magnitude higher than we're anticipating."

Given the remoteness of the Eastern part of Antarctica, it hasn't been studied nearly as much as the rest of the Antarctic.

Hence, since there is little data on it thus far, we should expect more bad news of melting as more studies are published on the region.

The NASA data, coupled with the study mentioned at the American Geophysical Union, show that the speed of sea level rise from melting Antarctic glaciers is consistently increasing each year.

At the current trajectory, 17.7 trillion metric tons of ice will be shed in the Antarctic by 2100. This assumes the current rate of loss will remain linear - an unrealistic assumption given that the rate is increasing annually.

(c) 2018 Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

With Beto O'Rourke As Lightning Rod, Corporate Democrats Aim To Stifle Criticism
By Norman Solomon

Well-informed public discussion is a major hazard for Democratic Party elites now eager to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the 2020 presidential nomination. A clear focus on key issues can bring to light the big political differences between Sanders and the party's corporate-friendly candidates. One way to muddy the waters is to condemn people for pointing out facts that make those candidates look bad.

National polling shows that the U.S. public strongly favors bold policy proposals that Sanders has been championing for a long time. On issues ranging from climate change to Medicare for All to tuition-free public college to Wall Street power, the party's base has been moving leftward, largely propelled by an upsurge of engagement from progressive young people. This momentum is a threat to the forces accustomed to dominating the Democratic Party.

In recent weeks, Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke has become a lightning rod in a gathering political storm -- largely because of the vast hype about him from mass media and Democratic power brokers. At such times, when spin goes into overdrive, we need incisive factual information. Investigative journalist David Sirota provided it in a deeply researched Dec. 20 article, which The Guardian published under the headline "Beto O'Rourke Frequently Voted for Republican Legislation, Analysis Reveals."

Originating from the nonprofit Capital & Main news organization, the piece reported that "even as O'Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities."

Progressives have good reasons to like some of O'Rourke's positions. But Sirota's reporting drilled down into his voting record, reviewing "the 167 votes O'Rourke has cast in the House in opposition to the majority of his own party during his six-year tenure in Congress. Many of those votes were not progressive dissents alongside other left-leaning lawmakers, but instead votes to help pass Republican-sponsored legislation."

But it's better to learn revealing political facts sooner rather than later. Thanks to Sirota's coverage, for instance, we now know "O'Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans' anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump's immigration policy."

The backlash to Sirota's news article was in keeping with a tweet two weeks earlier from Neera Tanden, the president of the influential and lavishly funded Center for American Progress, who has long been a major ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton. On Dec. 6, Tanden went over-the-top in response to a tweet from Sirota simply mentioning the fact that O'Rourke "is the #2 recipient of oil/gas industry campaign cash in the entire Congress."

Tanden lashed out via Twitter, writing: "Oh look. A supporter of Bernie Sanders attacking a Democrat. This is seriously dangerous. We know Trump is in the White House and attacking Dems is doing Trump's bidding. I hope Senator Sanders repudiates these attacks in 2019."

Such calculated nonsense indicates just how panicky some powerful corporate Democrats are about Bernie's likely presidential campaign -- and just how anxious they are to protect corporate-oriented candidates from public scrutiny. The quest is to smother meaningful discussions of vital issues that should be center stage during the presidential campaign.

Corporate Democrats are gearing up to equate principled, fact-based critiques of their favored candidates with -- in Tanden's words -- "seriously dangerous" attacks that are "doing Trump's bidding." Such demagogic rhetoric should be thrown in the political trash cans where they belong.

This is not only about Beto O'Rourke -- it's about the parade of Democratic contenders lined up to run for president. Should the candidates that mass media and party elites put forward as "progressive" be quickly embraced or carefully scrutinized? The question must be asked and answered.

(c) 2018 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."

UK and US PSYOP Collusion
By Margaret Kimberley

Russiagate hysteria is an international conspiracy, with British spooks spreading lies on three continents. Now Black Americans are slandered as "dupes" of Moscow.

For more than two years the corporate media, elite think tanks, NATO leaders, and most Democratic Party politicians have insisted that Russia interferes in American and European elections. The charge doesn't withstand scrutiny but the lies are repeated. There is proof that surveillance state meddling in the affairs of democratic nations is real, but Russia isn't the culprit. It is the United Kingdom and the United States who lead in skullduggery and meddling with the rights they claim to uphold.

Thanks to the Anonymous hacker community the work of the Integrity Initiative has been exposed to the public. The Integrity Initiative is a British "charity" founded in 2015. Its mission is to "bring to the attention of politicians, policy-makers, opinion leaders and other interested parties the threat posed by Russia to democratic institutions in the United Kingdom, across Europe and North America." That mission is suspect in and of itself, a phony trope meant to cover up its own imperialist wrong doing. The Integrity Initiative is an arm of the British government and has received more than $2 million in funding from the British Foreign Office and Defense department. It has also raised money from NATO, Facebook and rightwing foundations.

The Integrity Initiative is a means of undermining the sovereignty of the British people by manipulating them with lies. It engaged in numerous efforts to libel Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and prevent him from ever being elected prime minister. Corbyn has been accused of Soviet era espionage, anti-Semitism and anything else his enemies choose to use against him. Academics and writers who spoke out against UK involvement in attacks on Syria were likewise targeted by The Times and other influential British media. The reporters involved were part of this Integrity Initiative campaign. The attacks are consistent and are obviously coordinated at a very high level.

Integrity Initiative director Christopher Donnelly is a former member of the British Army Intelligence Corps. He also helped to create the U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, and served as an advisor to several Secretaries General at NATO. After the NATO instigated coup against the elected Ukrainian government Donnelly recommended placing mines in the Sevastopol harbor, an obvious provocation.

When Integrity Initiative isn't planning to start wars it plots to interfere in the affairs of other countries through orchestrated "clusters" of journalists and academics. The Spanish cluster quashed the appointment of a new defense secretary through the use of a coordinated social media campaign. They were also involved in subverting the Catalan independence vote.

Clusters are operating not just in the UK and Spain but in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway and Lithuania. After Julian Assange revealed the extent of interference in Spain the cluster targeted the Ecuadorean government to end his asylum.

There is evidence that the Integrity Initiative sent an operative into the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. An Englishman named Simon Bracey-Lane got much media attention for volunteering in the Sanders Iowa caucus campaign. Bracey-Lane is now a research fellow at the Institute for Statecraft, the Integrity Initiative's parent company. There was foreign meddling in the 2016 election but it came from British spooks like Christopher Steele and undercover operatives, not Russian agents.

The only Americans aware of the Integrity Initiative are those who use social media to gather information outside of the corporate media bubble. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC haven't covered this story. They repeat what Robert Mueller says about crooked and amateurish Trump allies who cheat on taxes or pay off porn stars. They repeat flimsy evidence of Russian collusion while America's allies in the UK cheat their own citizens of their rights. It is miraculous when the people are able to find out anything they need to know.

These miracles occur when Wikileaks or Anonymous steal secrets the powerful want to keep hidden. Americans wouldn't know about the existence of the FBI Counter Intelligence Program if a group of activists hadn't stolen the documentary evidence. That is why the leakers and the hackers deserve support from anyone who wants to live in a truly democratic society.

While British spies operate covertly, their American counterparts work in the open as they make a profit off of their disinformation campaigns. The story of a Russian troll farm swaying Americans to vote for Donald Trump was relegated to old news but it was resurrected by a Silicon Valley surveillance state operation.

New Knowledge is a tech firm created with venture capital cash and founders who are former operatives from the National Security Agency, U.S. military, and State Department. New Knowledge was hired by the Senate Intelligence Committee and tasked with finding out the extent of supposed Russian influence on social media.

As expected, they produced a report claiming not only that the Russians meddled in the election but that African Americans were the most targeted group . This is a rehash of the discredited story that click bait ad selling schemes amounted to espionage. It also confuses with claims of millions of online interactions that are a drop in the bucket in comparison with American political sites.

Of course phony concern for black people is the last refuge of many scoundrels. Now that there has been no evidence presented of Russian government collusion with Donald Trump, the rehashing will be more frequent. The Democratic Party and the corporate media cannot let this story die. They depend upon it and they must keep covering up their own lies. Russiagate is the gift that keeps on giving.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and their establishment supporters are responsible for the Donald Trump presidency. They were more concerned with covering up her scandals, attracting Republican voters and raising corporate money than they were about getting out the black vote that they always rely upon for victory. Despite raising more than $1 billion they presided over one of the worst debacles in American political history. Any outrage about the Trump presidency must be pointed in their direction.

No one should fear terms like conspiracy theory when there are proven conspiracies operating at the highest levels of government and media. There are no coincidences when certain people suddenly come under attack. There is every reason to be paranoid because collusion is quite real. But the stories we're told about it are the most fake news of all.

(c) 2018 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

What Would A Real President Do?
By Jim Hightower

Instead of the rule of law, the Trumpistas prefer to rule by fear.

Take immigration. "An invasion," screeches The Donald, "a national emergency!" "The caravan is coming" he clucks excitedly, including "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners." "Build that wall!" Whew - Chicken Little could take fearmongering lessons from this guy.

So, in the name of protecting us from an apocalypse that exists only in his own scheming head, Trump has misused our nation's Army, autocratically suspended America's asylum laws, allowed border agents to tear gas migrant mothers and children, separated thousands of the children from their parents, cruelly incarcerated toddlers in locked down tent camps, created chaos in our immigration court system, and vaingloriously proclaimed that we taxpayers fork over $5 billion to start building a ludicrous Great Wall of Trump in his honor.

Aside from the fact that there is no "crisis" of asylum seekers overrunning our border, is there anything that a real president might do about the increased flow of families desperately fleeing Central America? Yes!

For example: Instead of mindlessly sending troops to the border, the real need is to move in a battalion of extra immigration judges and customs officers to quickly adjudicate the swelling backlog of asylum cases. Also, greatly expand US support for international refugee programs in Central America and Mexico, so asylum claims can be processed without mass migrations to the US. And stop condoning the vicious forces pushing people to flee Central America, from police repression to the predatory practices of our own corporations.

But that would require a competent leader in the White House - not a peevish president who stamps his tiny feet and throws a Trump tantrum in a pathetic attempt to get his way.

(c) 2018 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

Jill Stein speaking at the Green Party Presidential Candidate Town Hall
hosted by the Green Party of Arizona at the Mesa Public Library in Mesa, Arizona

Russiagate Smashes Human Survival Attempts
By David Swanson

"There's millions of commies in the freedom fight
"Yelling for Lenin and civil rights
"How do I know? I read it in the *Daily News*"
-Tom Paxton

Humanity faces climate and nuclear threats to its existence, spearheaded by the U.S. government. Survival proposals, or what your television calls fringe leftist schemes backed by Vladimir Putin (who, for the most part, does not back them), face many hurdles just to be heard. Unless you're a 15-year-old girl from Sweden or the Pope or have found some other magic loophole, there are many things that you just cannot say in U.S. corporate media: the earth's dying; the U.S. government is an oligarchy; meat and dairy are deadly; nuclear apocalypse is highly likely; war is illegal; weapons dealing is evil; military spending has made the U.S. a third-world nation; single-payer healthcare more than pays for itself; a peaceful sustainable society would be easy to create and cost less and make us safer and not slaughter so many people; a position shared by two major political parties can nonetheless be catastrophically awful, unpopular, corrupt, illegal, and sadistic.

In recent decades there has been one way an ordinary decent person could say such things and have at least a little fraction of them distorted and mocked in the corporate media. Such a person could tap into the ridiculous, anti-democratic, immobilizing pretense that the only things people can do are gripe and moan or vote. Such a person could run for office. But the returns on such efforts have been diminishing. The corporate media has largely whited out unwanted candidates. Lesser-evil voting is more firmly established than ever. And, just to seal the deal, any candidate not operating under the banner of one of the two corporate parties is now reported to be a product of a demonized foreign government, as indeed are various candidates belonging to one of the mega-parties also reported to be.

According to NBC News, Jill Stein in 2016 was a "fringe" candidate backed by Russia. The evidence for this - or, rather, the excuse to claim this - is the typical alleged puny amount of bizarre social media posts that nobody even suggests could have possibly impacted anything, allegedly posted by people with some sort of connection to the Russian government. To make this particular twist on Russiagate especially laughable, it relies in part on a company that has openly admitted to manufacturing phony "Russian" support for a U.S. Senate candidate in order to falsely claim exactly what it is claiming about Stein, and that has openly admitted to posting weird inconsequential stuff on social media in that race in exactly the style depicted in Russiagate lore, but apparently without any of the unacceptability, much less the comparisons to Pearl Harbor, by virtue of the fact that, I guess, no Russians were employed in the efforts.

I asked Jill Stein to comment, and she said:

"The NBC attack article is a pathetic example of the political intimidation and warmongering that go hand in hand with resurgent McCarthyism. This puts us all at risk, and gives more reason than ever to mobilize for peace and a Green New Deal to transform our economy, turn the tide on climate change and make wars for oil and empire obsolete. The attack by NBC, mirrored by the operatives at Center for American Progress, suggests the Democratic establishment is revving up its attack on progressive voices as the illusion of Democratic progressivism unravels - with the return of their opposition to Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, peace in the Middle East etc., now that election day has passed. This underscores again why we need independent, non-corporate politics capable of representing everyday people, not the economic elites pulling the strings on the establishment political parties. Putting the Democratic Party back in the driver seat will continue the bipartisan policies of austerity, inequality and war that are generating right-wing extremism all over the world. It's time for a politics for people, planet and peace over profit, and voting reforms - like Ranked Choice Voting - that will liberate the political will to make it happen."
True believers in all things Russiagate will have to conclude that any left-leaning initiative in the United States is a Russian plot. There's no upcoming major the-WMD-are-nowhere-to-be-found moment of something happening or failing to happen that will erase that nonsense from people's minds. But they may not have to go on believing that Trump and Putin got together and rigged the election that defeated the Democratic nominee who had rigged a primary against a stronger candidate with zero help from Russia, ISIS, or the tooth fairy. That's because there may come a moment when the corporate media admit that Russiagate uncovered all the sorts of crimes one would expect of powerful political figures in the United States but nothing to support the original fantasy of a Trump-Putin swindle. When Russiagate ends without its central case, its fans ought to take serious consolation from the fact that numerous other allegations against Donald Trump are indisputably established, and articles of impeachment drafted and ready to go, even if none of the other charges that can be brought against Trump boosts the risk of nuclear apocalypse so well as the Russiagate scandal that is simultaneously serving to discourage survival thinking.

(c) 2018 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.

As Yemeni children starve to death every day, House Speaker Paul Ryan used his power
last week to block a House vote on ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen.

Paul Ryan Sends A Chill Down Scrooge's Spine
By John Nichols

Charles Dickens introduced us to Ebenezer Scrooge in his counting house on the eve of the Christmastide. Two gentlemen were soliciting alms for the poor. Scrooge refused them, arguing that those who had fallen on hard times could be sent to workhouses or hard labor on a prison treadmill. "Many would rather die than go," suggested one of the charity workers. Scrooge's reply set the chilling tone of the opening pages of "A Christmas Carol."

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Dickens penned those words 175 years ago. Were he around today, and seeking a crueler character, the author would surely settle on House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Last week, when the whole world was demanding urgent action to end the Saudi-led bombardment and starvation of Yemen, the Janesville Republican used all of his considerable authority to block an urgent response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Ryan was not acting in the interest of partisanship or ideology. As the speaker was preventing action in the House, seven Senate Republicans - including some of the chamber's most conservative members - joined Democrats in a 56-41 vote for S.J.Res. 54: "A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress."

The sponsor of the Senate resolution, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, announced, "Today we tell the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia that we will not be a part of their military adventurism." This, said Sanders, was the necessary response to Saudi abuses that have fostered a "humanitarian and strategic disaster" in Yemen - a crisis so severe that United Nations officials say it could lead to the worst famine in a century.

No such announcement came from the House, where Ryan did the bidding of the Trump administration and the Saudi regime this president serves. Ryan refused to concern himself with reports on what the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund described as "a war on children."

"Yemen has become a hell on earth for millions of children. Today every single boy, every single girl in Yemen is facing extremely dire need," said UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere, who reported that, on average, a child is dying every 10 minutes in Yemen - a country where more than 400,000 children are starving and an additional 1.5 million are acutely malnourished.

Ryan went to extraordinary ends to prevent discussion of a change in U.S. policy that might cause the Saudis to relent. The speaker and his allies attached a clause to a measure related to the farm bill, which effectively blocked action on a Yemen bill that Congressmen Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Mark Pocan, D-town of Vermont, have been advancing in tandem with the Sanders initiative in the Senate.

The measure was approved by a 206-203 vote, with overwhelming support from Ryan's caucus.

"For the second time in less than a month, Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders in the House have opted to undermine our democracy by slipping a rule to block a vote on ending U.S. support for the war in Yemen into an entirely unrelated bill," explained Paul Kawika Martin of the group Peace Action. "They have once again taken the position that ending or even debating the U.S. role in the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet is not worth serious consideration, even as the United Nations warns the war-induced famine in Yemen could soon become the worst famine in 100 years."

Khanna was outraged. "This is why people hate Congress," the congressman declared. "Speaker Ryan is not allowing a vote on my resolution to stop the war in Yemen because many Republicans will vote with us and he will lose the vote. He is disgracing Article 1 of the Constitution, and as a result, more Yemeni children will die."

The urgency of the circumstance in Yemen - the poorest country in the region - has inspired activists to launch a #YemenCantWait campaign. As Khanna explained, "Fourteen million people are on the brink of famine in Yemen. Eighty-five thousand children have already died from cholera and starvation. Our Yemen War Powers Resolution can't wait until 2019."

But the resolution will have to wait until Ryan steps down and Democrats take charge of the chamber in January. No speaker of the House has ever ended his tenure on so shameful a note.

Warning that Ryan and his caucus were "condemning more Yemeni civilians to die horrible deaths, and condemning our nation as a democracy in name only," Peace Action's Martin observed that "history will not look kindly on those who abdicated their constitutional duty to debate and vote on our nation's wars in the name of petty politics and shoring up future campaign contributions from the arms industry and pro-Saudi lobbyists."

But history did anticipate Ryan.

In the opening stave of "A Christmas Carol," Dickens described Scrooge as a man who walked the paths of human life "warning all human sympathy to keep its distance."

Dickens imagined a change of heart that finally redeemed the "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner." Let us pray, in this Christmastide, that Paul Ryan is similarly inspired - as his actions of late would send a chill down the spine of Ebenezer Scrooge.

(c) 2018 John Nichols John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Can An Iceberg Assume a Perfect Rectangular Shape?
By James Donahue

Ever since NASA made the photo of the rectangular iceberg public I have felt a need to write something about it. The problem, however, is what can be said other than "Wow!" Apparently the photos taken during a fly-over the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic in October produced images of this particular berg. After seeing the images I waited patiently for scientific explanations . . . how could such a thing happen without some kind of human interference?

My first thought is that this interesting mile-long and perfectly flat-topped rectangular chunk of floating ice had to have been cut from space by some kind of laser. Was it the work of some bored astronauts looking down from the International Space Station? Certainly we have the technical know-how to slice out a piece of ice that would look like that. As it is, the wheels of an international governmental space program like the ISS might grind with a rusty grating noise if the men and women assigned for duty there ever are suspected of playing with the power tools at their fingertips. Notice that NASA was quick to attempt an explanation . . . other than a laser cut from space.

Consequently a NASA report just published in Forbes noted that rectangular cuts of ice like the one photographed are not uncommon. The story said they can occur naturally as pieces of ice "calve off" from massive shelves of the flat surfaced ice jutting off from the land. The writer noted that a second similar cut of ice is visible just behind the second jet engine, and careful examination of the main rectangular berg shows imperfections along its sides.

But these so-called imperfections are minor compared to the overall shape of the iceberg. Glaciologist Timothy Bartholomaus at the University of Idaho explained: "Icebergs detaching from the edges of these ice shelves are like corners of a sheet of office paper getting cut with a pair of ocean-scissors. Right after the cut, when the iceberg detaches, the edges will often be perfectly square."

Of course we find Bartholomaus's explanation somewhat questionable. To make our point we offer a third image of a natural "calving" of two chunks of ice in the same region. It shows the edge of ice that breaks off from its mother. And it is jagged.

So how does nature produce a perfect rectangular chunk of ice like the one in question. We are thinking it just doesn't happen without the help of an artist. Or a bored astronaut with his hand on a laser gun.

(c) 2018 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.

It is difficult to imagine a more important time than right now to
refocus our spiritual energy toward the vast clockwork of the natural world.

Before There Was Christmas, There Was The Solstice, And Hope
By William Rivers Pitt

The kindergarten teachers I know each tell the same story: Roundabout the middle of December, all the kids who celebrate Christmas transform into voracious little three-foot monsters bereft of morality or self-control. All the behaviors parents worked so diligently to instill in them collapse under the long duress of waiting for Santa.

Alas, my own daughter fell victim to the phenomenon this year. It was a jarring revelation to watch my sweet, caring, sharing, loving little girl decompensate into this ruthless feral capitalist, a frothing cauldron of I want who sees herself as the only being in all of existence. Matters did not improve at school; as it turned out, putting 15 feral capitalists in a room where they could spend all day rubbing their I want woes together exacerbated the situation dramatically.

My wife and I eventually got her past this crisis of materialism, but it was remarkable nonetheless. It was as if a virus got passed from kid to kid to kid until they were all infected with an insatiable lust for more stuff.

Neither of us blamed our daughter for her behavior. In retrospect, it was thoroughly unsurprising: Here is this wee child, possessed of a moral code still in formation, gripping the live wire of Maximum Capitalism that was engineered specifically for people in her age group. It was an extension of the Consumerist Boot Camp that begins the day after Thanksgiving, her first real lesson in what is expected of her in the hollow, soulless economy she was born into.

Many of her adult contemporaries did not seem to be faring much better as the season ground to a conclusion. My wife works retail and came home every night with tales of wrath and fury spewed by customers ostensibly seeking to purchase items intended to make someone happy. Instead, their exposure to Maximum Capitalism, with its attendant insipid music score played on an endless loop, brought out the werewolf in almost all of them.

It would require a crackerjack team of sociologists, historians and economists to properly explain how the dominant methods for celebrating this holiday came to be the pluperfect mess it is today, so here's the short version:

The Roman Emperor Constantine co-opted a wide variety of ancient pagan holidays in the name of Christianity in order to cement his rule, and the winter solstice celebration was foremost among them. Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations - his treatise on free-trade capitalism - in 1776, the same year a bunch of wealthy businessmen decided they wanted to plunder the North American continent free from British interference (read: taxes). By then, Constantine's solstice-inspired Christmas was the biggest day on the Christian calendar, and once it was stapled to US-style free-trade capitalism, door-busters and Walmart riots were all but inevitable in the fullness of time.
Like I said, it's the short version.

The wanton garishness at the heart of the modern consumerist Christmas season serves to vividly underscore the emptiness of soul and spirit felt by so many today. Like the holiday itself, mere life has become an exhausting, overwhelming grind bereft of meaning beyond immediate, inert gratification. Trust in longstanding institutions is collapsing, the climate itself is collapsing, the specter of actual doom hangs low over us all, and the proffered solution - Buy more stuff! - is a lie as vast as the problems themselves. "Buy more stuff" is, in point of fact, a massive part of what has gone so starkly wrong in the first place.

For many, myself included, there is refuge and profound meaning found in a celebration of the winter solstice that Constantine absconded with 17 centuries ago. Celebration of the solstice is as old as the stones; Stonehenge and Newgrange, the Bronze Age monuments in England and Ireland, are both aligned with the winter solstice sunrise. Stone arrangements left by the Anasazi people in New Mexico around 200 BC are likewise attuned to the movement of the sun.

Celebration of the longest night of the year is everywhere. The Hopi descendants of the Anasazi celebrate Soyal at the setting of the solstice sun with a ceremony of fires and dancing that lasts all night. In Iran, the winter solstice is celebrated as Shab-e Yalda, which means "Night of Birth," in which families and friends gather to read poems and feast. It is called Dong Zhi in China and Inti Raymi in Peru, and these celebrations are striking in their similarities.

Wiccans and other practitioners of ancient witchcraft (a word they proudly own) celebrate the winter solstice as an affirmation of life itself as being sacred and interconnected. People celebrate solstice individually and collectively by dancing, feeding animals to help them through the winter, or by communing with nature in an act of deliberate release, spending negative energy into the darkness of the longest night on the promise of the sunrise to come.

The bill for generations of pollution and greed has finally come due, in the guise of rising seas, murderous storms, permanent droughts and towering fires, and this is merely the beginning.

"In this age of ecological collapse," counsels Truthout journalist Dahr Jamail, "I believe an Earth-based spirituality with roots as strong as the deepest keel is as necessary as water and food, if not even more so. Nothing less than a practice based on remaining attuned to the wisdom of the Earth herself will provide the daily grounding each of us needs to stay balanced and centered as portions of the biosphere collapse around us."

Life, renewal, rejuvenation: These lay at the beating heart of every winter solstice celebration. Though they differ in root and practice, they all respond to the same reality: The winter solstice is the longest night of the year. Its passing means the days will grow longer, and the Earth will soon give birth to itself once again in a spectacle of warmth, splendor and bounty. The winter solstice is the first step toward the healing light.

In the beginning and at the end, it is about hope.

Today is Christmas and the solstice has passed, but amid the consumerist Christmas that corporations are pushing upon us, we can still step back and reach for the spiritual renewal at the center of the ancient solstice holiday. The wonder of the turning Earth and the life-giving sun is still with us today. Christmas consumerism may have paved it over and smothered it in advertisements, but it is still there, bright green and gold, waiting to be bathed in the coming dawn.

"The solstice is an astronomical fact we can all agree upon," my friend Alexandra is wont to say. "We are all subject to the seasons and dependent on the Earth and the other living things. This is a better basis for a belief system, and worthy of reverence. There can be no arguing about it. Peace on Earth could be the result."

"I say this," she declares, "every year."

(c) 2018 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.

A Year Of Living Dangerously, Straight Ahead
By Heather Digby Parton

I know it's hard to believe that things are going to get worse. But there's every chance it will. All you have to do is look at what's happened since the election. I knew it was going to be a turbulent lame duck session but I didn't think it would go quite this way.

First, the good news is that he hasn't fired Mueller. But he did fire Jeff Sessions and replaced him temporarily with a henchman whom he has already reportedly pressured about the Cohen investigation (and who likely has told him what he knows about the Mueller investigtion as well.) Now he's nominated yet another to replace him who auditioned for the job by sending around memos railing against the Mueller investigation. So stay tuned on that one. With his erratic performance on everything else I don't think we can't be sure that he's not going to wake up in the morning and fire Mueller with a tweet and take his chances. He seems to be in a "shoot the moon" kind of mood. (Or maybe it's just "fuck all you people, I'm doing it.")

Obviously this shutdown is a trainwreck. We've dealt with them before, of course. In fact this is the third one of Trump's presidency. But because of this one is specifically the result of Trump's base demanding that he hold his breath until he turns blue over that stupid wall, it's a bit more dicey than usual. At this point he seems to have decided to keep it closed until the Democrats take over the House so he can pretend it's all their fault. He'll be able to call on some primal misogyny that has worked so well for him the past, with pelosi as his foil, so I expect he's looking forward to it. It's not going to be pretty.

It's possible they'll find a way to resolve this before then if they can convince him somehow that it's in his best interest, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Then we have the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis (who Trump has now told to get out immediately), on top of the exile of Chief of Staff John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster and a whole list of others who left either because their corruption scandals got the best of them or they failed to properly lick Trump's boots. It's been a non-stop administration bloodbath with the instability actually getting worse rather than better as time goes by. And the stable genius is the head of the rotting fish of his administration.

And now Trump is about to be hit by a freight train called "The Oversight Express" and he doesn't have a clue about what's coming. The Democrats already have dozens of leads on corruption, collusion, and crimes that have been developed in the press over the last two years. But they are going to have to hit the ground running in order to develop the case in a coherent form for the American people in time for the next election. The Mueller probe will likely put a lot of meat on that bone as well. (As I argued earlier, impeachment may be the best way to wrap everything up in a neat narrative, whether the Senate does its duty and convicts him or not.)

The president is losing what few moorings he ever had, living in a delusion wrought by the sycophants around him, Fox News and the foolish empty suits in the Freedom Caucus. He thinks his gut is leading him to a great victory in 2020 to validate his genius once and for all. It's actually been destroying him --- slowly at first and eventually all at once.

Unfortunately, he may take us all down with him.

We'll be keeping a close on all these coming attractions here at Hullabaloo. It's like one of those 20 car pile-ups on the freeway. You can't avert your eyes even if you want to. Hopefully our analysis and synthesis will be of some use to you as you go about your lives trying not to feel like you're going crazy.

If you find what we write here every day to be valuable, I hope you'll consider putting some change in the Hullabaloo holiday stocking. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to help support this blog for another year, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby

(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Patrick Shanahan is the defense contractor Trump picked to take over the Pentagon
Is the fox guarding the henhouse?
By Matthew Rozsa

Patrick Shanahan, the man who will become acting Secretary of Defense on Jan. 1, is best known in Washington circles for the decades he spent employed with one of America's most powerful defense contractors - Boeing.

Shanahan began working for Boeing in 1986 and continued to be employed with them for more than three decades prior to his tenure at the Department of Defense. His most recent position there was as Boeing's senior vice president of supply chain and operations, and he had also served on previous occasions as vice president and general manager of two of the company's defense divisions, Boeing Missile Defense Systems and Rotorcraft Systems. During his time at Boeing, Shanahan earned the nickname "Mr. Fix-It" due to his history of turning around faltering programs like the 787 Dreamliner.

When Shanahan was being confirmed for his current position as Deputy Secretary of Defense, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed concern about Shanahan's background.

"I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse," McCain told Shanahan.

In response to this and other criticisms, Shanahan recused himself from all issues involving Boeing and signed an ethics agreement saying he would divest himself from all financial interests related to Boeing.

One edge that Shanahan will bring to his job, at least in terms of possibly getting it permanently, is that he has been supportive of Trump's proposed Space Force, according to The New York Times. The newspaper went into detail about how Shanahan wound up supporting a policy that many critics ridiculed as patently ridiculous.

When it was first announced last spring, President Trump's proposal for a new Space Force was resisted by the Pentagon and ridiculed by late-night comics who envisioned Luke Skywalker in the military. But it found a champion in Patrick M. Shanahan, the deputy secretary of defense who will soon become the Pentagon's acting chief.

"We are not the Department of No," Mr. Shanahan told Pentagon officials after Space Force was announced, arguing that it was a presidential priority and could help develop new military capabilities more quickly. "There is a vision, and it makes sense."

The departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis has raised questions about whether there will be anyone to rein in Trump's worst instincts. Last year, when speaking to Salon about concerns that the president's erratic nature could cause global conflict, former presidential adviser David Gergen - who worked for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton - illustrated Mattis' value through a story about Nixon's presidency during the nadir of Watergate.

"Nixon was the commander in chief, and [former Secretary of Defense Jim] Schlesinger in effect was saying, 'We're going to override the commander in chief if in fact we think it's coming from some sort of aggressive personality or he's just pissed off. Whatever it may be,'" Gergen told Salon. "And I've asked people in the Defense Department, 'Do you think there's a similar arrangement today between [Secretary of Defense Jim] Mattis and the four-star generals?' And the answer they've given me back -- I don't think there's any reason to believe he's giving such an order ... [is] that if they're given an order that they think comes from an erratic personality, they will double-check it with the secretary before they carry it out."

(c) 2018 Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

Merry Christmas To The Shebeen
We have it in us to be lights in the darkness. If we remember that, we may come through whatever comes.
By Charles P. Pierce

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

-A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, 1843.

Later in the story, the Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge, that covetous, grasping old sinner, on a tour of the world. They stop by a miner's hut, a lonely lifehouse, and a storm-tossed ship at sea. In each, there is light and there is music and there is joy, at least for a night and a day. We all have it in us to be lights in the darkness, to be the song rising against the gale, to be the happy toasts that defy the waves. If we but remember that-and, of course, if we stay at all times above the snake-line-I think we may come through whatever comes. And we just might rediscover the resolve and the great joy to be found in acting with justice toward all our fellow-passengers.

So, a Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Nollaig shona duit, to all friends and customers of this shebeen. And God bless us all, every one.

(c) 2018 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-

"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
~~~ Robert Frost

In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

25 Ways The Canadian Health Care System Is Better Than Obamacare
In the United States, tens of thousands of Americans will continue to die every year due to lack of health insurance and much higher prices for drugs, medical devices, and health care itself.
By Ralph Nader

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare. No health insurance system is without problems but Canadian-style single-payer- full Medicare for all- is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.

In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 25 ways the Canadian health care system is better than the chaotic U.S. system.

Replace it with the much more efficient Medicare-for-all: everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital. It will produce far less anxiety, dread, and fear.

Love, Canada

Number 25:

In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth - everybody in, nobody out.

In the United States, under Obamacare, 28 million Americans (9 percent) are still uninsured and 85 million Americans (26 percent) are underinsured.

Number 24:

In Canada, the health system is designed to put people, not profits, first.

In the United States, Obamacare has done little to curb insurance industry profits and in fact has increased the concentrated insurance industry's massive profits.

Number 23:

In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income - rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 22:

In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you for as long as you can afford your insurance.

Number 21:

In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them. There are no lists of "in-network" vendors and no extra hidden charges for going "out of network."

In the United States, under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking - thus restricting freedom of choice - and if you want to go out of network, you pay dearly for it.

Number 20:

In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in insurance premiums directly and indirectly per employer.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it's pay or die - if you can't pay, you die. That's why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

Number 19:

In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don't even see a bill.

In the United States, under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills are terribly complex, making it very difficult to discover the many costly overcharges or massive billing fraud.

Number 18:

In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 17.9 percent of its GDP and still doesn't cover tens of millions of people.

Number 17:

In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, health-care-driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 16:

In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, under Obamacare, often staggering complexity leads to ratcheting up huge administrative costs and overhead.

Number 15:

In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: "What's wrong?"

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: "What kind of insurance do you have?"

Number 14:

In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases, so they remain unaffordable and skyrocketing.

Number 13:

In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2017, the CEO of Aetna alone made a whopping $59 million.

Number 12:

In Canada, there are no required co-pays or deductibles in inscrutable contracts.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans.

Number 11:

In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 10:

In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured will continue to delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 9:

In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, tens of thousands of Americans will continue to die every year due to lack of health insurance and much higher prices for drugs, medical devices, and health care itself.

Number 8:

In Canada, health care on average costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a majority support Medicare-for-all.

Number 7:

In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are modestly progressive - the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 6:

In Canada, people use GoFundMe to start new businesses.

In the United States, fully one in three GoFundMe fundraisers are now to raise money to pay medical bills. Recently, one American was rejected for a heart transplant because she couldn't afford the follow-up care. Her insurance company suggested she raise the money through GoFundMe.

Number 5:

In Canada, people avoid prison at all costs.

In the United States, some Americans commit minor crimes so that they can get to prison and get free health care.

Number 4:

In Canada, people look forward to the benefits of early retirement.

In the United States, people delay retirement to 65 to avoid being uninsured.

Number 3:

In Canada, Nobel Prize winners hold on to their medal and pass it down to their children and grandchildren.

In the United States, Nobel Prize winners sell their medals to pay for their medical bills.

Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize in 1988 for his pioneering physics research. But in 2015, the physicist, who passed away in November 2018, sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills. According to a report in Vox, the University of Chicago professor began to suffer from memory loss in 2011, and died in an Idaho nursing home.

Number 2:

In Canada, the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare's 2,500 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."

Number 1:

In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, a growing majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses prefer the Canadian type system - Medicare-for-all, free choice of doctor and hospital, everybody in, nobody out and far less expensive.

(c) 2018 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).

Donald Trump
We've got an 8-year-old brat in the White House
By Jane Stillwater

When you were a kid, did you ever dream about being able to fly? Or that you were The Hulk or The Avenger -- or even PacMan?

Power Ranger? Flash Gordon? Wonder Woman? Crusader Rabbit?

When you were a kid, did you ever dream that you were all-powerful, possessed a death-ray, was unstoppable and could do any freaking thing that you want? Well, guess what? Once he became president, Donald Trump started acting like even his wildest childhood dreams had come true. Now every single day is Christmas Day at the White House for him -- all year long. Now he gets to be the center of attention, just like some little kid. Fantasy time!

What would I myself do if I had super-powers like that? I'd do what Supergirl or Red Sonja did and bring Truth and Justice to the world -- not just act like The Joker or Poison Ivy. But "Holy Nightmare!" Trump is acting more like a super-villain than like Super Mario these days. Plus didn't we just sort of hope to elect an adult to the White House?

Somebody needs to give Trump a time-out for acting like such a cruel and hateful brat. His mother shoulda raised him better.

But on the other hand, what about the real adults who truly do run our world? The ones who actually do pull the strings and make Trump's weird Howdy Doody/Muppet show actually happen? The 30-odd guys who always seem to show up on the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum at Davos, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, BlackRock, the World Bank, various federal reserves, the Atlantic Council and the IMF?

These guys are the world's truly evil mean villains who we should be on guard against -- not just some stupid mean cosplay kid named Trump who avidly copies their disguises. These guys don't just pull wings off butterflies or murder helpless children from Honduras. The real adults who truly run our world? They will do anything for money. Anything. And that's even more scary than having a mean 8-year-old playing dress-up in the White House.

(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

James returns the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer Lankford

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 simple solution to pay for tRumps folly, by taking the billions from social security to pay for the wall, 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 01-05-2019. We salute you herr Enzi, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

10 Steps To Save American Democracy
By Robert Reich

Trump isn't the only problem. As Big Money floods our political system, and some in power are intent on making it harder for certain people to vote, we need a movement to save our democracy.

Here are 10 steps:

Number 1: Make voter registration automatic for all eligible voters, using information they've already provided the Department of Motor Vehicles or another government agency. This has already been implemented in several states, including Oregon, and it works. In 2014, over 1 in 5 Americans were eligible to vote but did not register. Automatic registration would automatically change this.

Number 2: Pass a new Voting Rights Act, setting uniform national voting standards and preventing states from engaging in any form of voter suppression, such as voter ID laws, the purging of voter rolls, and inaccessible and inadequate polling places.

Number 3: Implement public financing of elections, in which public funds match small donations - thereby eliminating the advantage of big money.

Number 4: Require public disclosure of the sources of all political donations. Much of that is now secret, so no one is held accountable.

Number 5: End the revolving door between serving in government and lobbying. Too often, members of Congress, their staffs, cabinet members and top White House personnel take lucrative lobbying jobs after leaving government. In turn, lobbyists take important positions in government. This revolving door must stop. It creates conflicts between the public interest and private greed.

Number 6: Ban members of Congress from owning specific shares of stock while they're in office. Require that they hold their investments in index funds, so they won't favor particular companies while carrying out their public duties.

Number 7: Require that all candidates running for Congress and the presidency release their tax returns so the American people know of any potential financial conflicts of interests before they're elected.

Number 8: Eliminate gerrymandered districts by creating independent redistricting commissions. Some states - Arizona, California, Michigan, and Colorado, for example - have established non-partisan commissions to ensure that congressional maps are drawn fairly, without racial or partisan bias. Other states should follow their lead.

Number 9: Make the Electoral College irrelevant. The presidency should be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes. Period. States should agree to award all their Electoral College votes to the winner of the popular vote by joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

10 and finally: Fight for a Supreme Court that will reverse its Citizens United decision, which interpreted the First Amendment to prevent Congress or state governments from limiting political spending.

Follow these 10 steps and begin to make our democracy work again.

(c) 2018 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

Banishing Truth
By Chris Hedges

The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir "Reporter," describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.

"The editor urged me to do nothing," he writes. "It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did." He describes himself as "full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship."

Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military's chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure the impact of biological agents including tularemia, yellow fever, Rift Valley fever and the plague. He broke the story of the My Lai massacre. He exposed Henry Kissinger's wiretapping of his closest aides at the National Security Council (NSC) and journalists, the CIA's funding of violent extremist groups to overthrow the Chilean President Salvador Allende, the CIA's spying on domestic dissidents within the United States, the sadistic torture practices at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by American soldiers and contractors and the lies told by the Obama administration about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet he begins his memoir by the candid admission, familiar to any reporter, that there are crimes and events committed by the powerful you never write about, at least if you want to keep your job. One of his laments in the book is his decision not to follow up on a report he received that disgraced President Richard Nixon had hit his wife, Pat, and she had ended up in an emergency room in California.

Reporters embedded with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely witness atrocities and often war crimes committed by the U.S. military, yet they know that access is dependent on keeping quiet. This collusion between the press and the powerful is a fundamental feature of journalism, one that even someone as courageous as Hersh, at least a few times, was forced to accept. And yet, there comes a time when reporters, at least the good ones, decide to sacrifice their careers to tell the truth. Hersh, relentlessly chronicling the crimes of the late empire, including the widespread use of torture, indiscriminate military strikes on civilian targets and targeted assassinations, has for this reason been virtually blacklisted in the American media. And the loss of his voice-he used to work for The New York Times and later The New Yorker-is evidence that the press, always flawed, has now been neutered by corporate power. Hersh's memoir is as much about his remarkable career as it is about the death of investigative journalism and the transformation of news into a national reality television show that subsists on gossip, invective, officially approved narratives and leaks and entertainment.

Investigative journalism depends not only on reporters such as Hersh, but as importantly on men and women inside the systems of power who have the moral courage to expose lies and make public crimes. Writing off any institution, no matter how nefarious the activity, as filled with the irredeemable is a mistake. "There are many officers, including generals and admirals, who understood that the oath of office they took was a commitment to uphold and defend the Constitution and not the President, or an immediate superior," he writes. "They deserve my respect and got it. Want to be a good military reporter? Find those officers." One of the heroes in Hersh's book is Ron Ridenhour, who served in a combat unit in Vietnam and who initiated the army's investigation into the My Lai massacre and generously helped Hersh track down eyewitnesses and participants.

The government's wholesale surveillance, however, has crippled the ability of those with a conscience, such as Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, to expose the crimes of state and remain undetected. The Obama administration charged eight people under the Espionage Act of leaking to the media-Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden-effectively ending the vital connection between investigative reporters and sources inside the government.

This government persecution has, by default, left the exposure of government lies, fraud and crimes to hackers. And this is the reason hackers, and those who publish their material such as Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, are relentlessly persecuted. The goal of the corporate state is to hermetically seal their activities, especially those that violate the law, from outside oversight or observation. And this goal is very far advanced.

Hersh notes throughout his memoir that, like all good reporters, he constantly battled his editors and fellow reporters as much as he did the government or corporations. There is a species of reporter you can see on most cable news programs and on the floor of the newsrooms at papers such as The New York Times who make their living as courtiers to the powerful. They will, at times, critique the excesses of power but never the virtues of the systems of power, including corporate capitalism or the motivations of the ruling elites. They detest reporters, like Hersh, whose reporting exposes their collusion.

The Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal was held in 1967 in Europe during the Vietnam War. It included the testimony of three American soldiers who spoke of watching soldiers and Marines routinely pump indiscriminate rounds of ammunition into villages with no regard for civilian casualties. Most of the American press dismissed the findings of the tribunal. The Times foreign affairs columnist, C.L. Sulzberger, launched a venomous attack against the Noble Prize-winning philosopher and mathematician, who was then 94 years old. Sulzberger, a member of the family that owned the paper, wrote that Russell had "outlived his own conscious idea and become clay in unscrupulous hands." The tribunal, Sulzberger went on, "cannot fairly be laid at the door of the wasted peer whose bodily endurance outpaced his brain."

Hersh, however, tipped off by the testimony at the tribunal, eventually uncovered the My Lai massacre. But no publication would touch it. Magazines such as Life and Look turned down the story. "I was devastated, and frightened by the extent of self-censorship I was encountering in my profession," Hersh writes. He finally published the story with the obscure, anti-war Dispatch News Service. Major publications, including The New York Times, along with Newsweek and Time, ignored the report. Hersh kept digging. More lurid facts about the massacre came to light. It became too big to dismiss, as hard as the mainstream media initially tried, and Hersh was awarded the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. The only officer convicted of the war crime, which left 106 men, women and children dead, was Lt. William Calley, who spent three months and 13 days in prison.

Papers like the New York Times pride themselves on their special access to the powerful, even if that access turns them into a public relations arm of the elites. This desire for access-which news organizations feel gives them prestige and an inside seat, although the information they are fed is usually lies or half-truths-pits conscientious reporters like Hersh against most editors and reporters in the newsroom. Hersh, who at the time was working for the Times, describes sitting across from another reporter, Bernard Gwertzman, who was covering Henry Kissinger and the NSC.

"There was a near-daily ritual involving Bernie that stunned me," Hersh writes. "On far too many afternoons around 5:00, Max Frankel's secretary would approach Bernie and tell him that Max [the Times' bureau chief in Washington] was at that moment on the phone with 'Henry' and the call would soon he switched to him. Sure enough, in a few moments Bernie would avidly begin scratching notes as he listened to Kissinger-he listened far more than he talked-and the result was a foreign policy story that invariably led the paper the next morning, with quotes from an unnamed senior government official. After a week or two of observing the process, I asked the always affable and straightforward Bernie if he ever checked what Henry was telling him with Bill Rogers, the secretary of state, or Mel Laird at the Pentagon. "Oh no,' he said. 'If I did that, Henry wouldn't speak to us.'"

The Washington Post broke the Watergate story, in which operatives for the Nixon White House in June 1972 broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in Washington while Hersh was at the Times. Kissinger's assurances-Hersh writes that Kissinger "lied the way most people breathed"-that it was not an event of consequence saw the top editors at The New York Times initially ignore it. The paper, however, finally embarrassed by the revelations in The Washington Post, threw Hersh onto the story, although the paper's executive editor, Abe Rosenthal, called Hersh with a mixture of affection and wariness "my little commie."

Hersh left the paper after a massive expose he and Jeff Gerth wrote about the corporation Gulf and Western, which carried out fraud, abuse, tax avoidance and had connections with the mob, was rewritten by cautious and timid editors. Charles Bluhdorn, the CEO of Gulf and Western, socialized with the publisher Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger. Bluhdorn used his connections at the paper to discredit Hersh and Gerth, as well as bombard the paper with accusatory letters and menacing phone calls. When Hersh filed his 15,000-word expose, the business editor, John Lee, and "his ass-kissing coterie of moronic editors," perhaps fearful of being sued, neutered it. It was one thing, Hersh found, to go up against a public institution. It was something else to take on a private institution. He would never again work regularly for a newspaper.

"The experience was frustrating and enervating," he writes. "Writing about corporate America had sapped my energy, disappointed the editors, and unnerved me. There would be no check on corporate America, I feared: Greed had won out. The ugly fight with Gulf and Western had rattled the publisher and the editors to the point that the editors who ran the business pages had been allowed to vitiate and undercut the good work Jeff and I had done. ... The courage the Times had shown in confronting the wrath of a president and an attorney general in the crisis over the Pentagon Papers in 1971 was nowhere to be seen when confronted by a gaggle of corporate con men. ..."

His reporting, however, continued to relentlessly expose the falsifications in official narratives. The Navy intelligence official, Jonathan Pollard, for example, had been caught spying for Israel in 1985 and given a life sentence. Hersh found that Pollard primarily stole documents on how the United States spied on the Soviet Union. The Israeli government, Hersh suspected, "was trading Pollard's information to Moscow in exchange for the emigration of Soviet Jews with skills and expertise needed by Israel." Pollard was released, after heavy Israeli pressure, in 2015 and now lives in Israel.

The later part of Hersh's career is the most distressing. He was writing for The New Yorker when Barack Obama was elected president. David Remnick, the magazine's editor, socialized with Obama and was apparently wary of offending the president. When Hersh exposed the fictitious narrative spun out by the Obama administration about the killing of Bin Laden, the magazine killed the story, running instead a report about the raid, provided by the administration, from the point of view of one of the SEALs who was on the mission. Hersh resigned. He published the account of the raid in the London Review of Books, the beginning of his current exile to foreign publications. When we most urgently need Hersh and good investigative reporters like him, they have largely disappeared. A democracy, at best, tolerates them. A failed democracy, like ours, banishes them, and when it does, it kills its press.

(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Korterba ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Trump Named Man Of The Year By ISIS
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-Capping an extraordinary 2018, Donald J. Trump announced on Thursday that he had been named Man of the Year by the terrorist organization known as isis.

Trump made the announcement after receiving the news from the leader of isis, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whom Trump called "a terrific, fabulous guy."

"I got along great with him, and he said a lot of nice things about me," Trump said. "He said isis didn't even consider anyone else."

Trump, who is expecting to receive an official Man of the Year plaque from isis in the next few weeks, said that the award "came as a total surprise to me."

"It's a particularly impressive honor when you consider isis was co-founded by Hillary and Obama," he said.

(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 51 (c) 12/28/2018

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