Dear TomDispatch Readers,

These days, when I write one of these rare letters to all of you, I always seem to begin “What a year!” and I’m not wrong, am I? I don’t know about you, but it’s December and I’m exhausted by You-Know-Who and the nonstop coverage of him. It’s a mad world and welcome to it.

As you’re all aware, TomDispatch does its best in non-Fake-News fashion to focus on what really matters on this planet (and yes, that includes Donald Trump, but not exclusively him). I mean, only recently I wrote two pieces about our strange president, “Donald in Blunderland” (because I felt like I had gone down the rabbit hole myself) and a piece on the unprecedented coverage of him and why that coverage never seems to make the news.

Still, I don’t think it would be an unfair description to say that I’m one of the un-Trumps. Not only don’t I tweet (I’m just too old!), but this website has tried to focus America’s attention these last years on what are now America’s “forever wars.” And do note, by the way, that since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office spouting end-the-wars rhetoric, the number of U.S. military personnel in the Middle East has actually risen! In addition, this website has paid increasing attention to the crisis that grows ever worse as so many of us prefer to look elsewhere: the heating of our planet to the boiling point.

More on all of this below. But first, of course, I have to bring up the topic that’s always the heart and soul (or soullessness) of any letter of this sort. Like you, I hate getting endless e-notes from god knows whom asking for you know what. So, believe me, it’s no pleasure writing a letter like this, which is why I only bother you twice a year — and here I am again as 2019 ends.

Unfortunately, modest as TomDispatch is, it still needs money. Managing Editor Nick Turse and I do a lot of the work, but we’re not alone here. TD has a small but dedicated staff and there are salaries to be paid. Three well-written, well-edited, well-thought-out pieces a week from a variety of writers (who are themselves paid a modest but real $300 per piece) involves time, effort, and money. After all, multiply the perhaps 120 pieces a year I post by other writers and you have $35,000 to be raised right there. And though I’ve been promising it for a while, sometime in the first half of this year, we’re actually launching an updated version of the site (which also involves $$$)… sigh.

TomDispatch has no advertising and no one has to pay a cent to read it, which means that your contributions really do keep us going (and going and going). One of my regrets is that I just don’t have the time to thank each of you the way I wish I could. I see all your contributions as they come in and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am.

So here I am again, asking for money, while reminding you that Nick and I post our three weekly pieces from a line-up of authors many magazines would envy. Those pieces are then republished across the Internet (and often the globe). No TD reader would have been shocked recently by the Washington Post series on the lies America’s political and military leaders told us about the Afghan War for 18 years, since we’ve been writing about that forever and a day.

This year, for instance, you could have followed America’s wars through a set of striking posts by retired colonel and historian Andrew Bacevich, retired U.S. Army major Danny Sjursen, and retired lieutenant colonel and historian William Astore (as well as Nick and me). You could explore the costs of war, thanks to the Costs of War Project’s Stephanie Savell and do so up close and personal with that same project’s Andrea Mazzarino, or consider the price children are paying for this planet’s many upheavals with the Center on National Security’s Karen Greenberg. You could look into our potential global warring future with Michael Klare or check out American military bases globally thanks to Nick Turse’s latest work on a subject that the mainstream media invariably ignores.

We’ve had some deeply personal pieces this year that I’m particularly proud of. Two of them, one by drone-war expert Allegra Harpootlian and the other by environmental journalist Dahr Jamail, have quite literally focused on a world that makes them weep. Just the other day, Pentagon expert William Hartung considered what 40 years of fighting the Pentagon’s rising budgets have meant to him. You could, of course, have spent time with activist Frida Berrigan as she tries to make sense of the Trump era for her young children or consider how the devastating opioid crisis hits home in one town (and one prison) thanks to Mattea Kramer. And that’s just to begin down a long list of striking authors making sense of a disturbing year in a unique way at TomDispatch.

Don’t let me forget our publishing program with Haymarket Books either. Within the next year and a half, we have three new volumes coming out from three splendid TomDispatch authors. There’s the last volume of John Feffer’s superb (and superbly gripping) dystopian trilogy, the Splinterlands series. In addition, historian Alfred McCoy, whose previous TomDispatch book, In the Shadows of the American Century, was a big hit, is writing a follow-up on the history of empire, while TD regular Rebecca Gordon is working on her new book for us on the role of torture in American history. (I would never claim that we do “feel good” books!)

Keep in mind that you remain our major source of funds, which is why I’m once again bothering you as this grim year ends. In the era of a president who so often seems to block our view of the rest of the world, should you find yourself with a few extra bucks and an urge to help us peer behind or beyond him at a planet in crisis, please visit our donation page and think about what you might give. As always, we have a range of signed, personalized books on offer, including books by Nick and me, in return for a donation of $100 or more ($125 if you live outside the United States).

Again, for all of you who already contributed this year, no way I can thank you enough. You really do make the difference!

Tom (Engelhardt)


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