Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:16:12 -0800 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 978d7097ff2a699194ad4282bd27b1dc Why That Russian Dossier Can't Be Ignored for 02/17/2017 Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>To see Michael Flynn depart his White House post in a miasma of misconduct &#8212; amid memories of his "lock her up" speech about Hillary Clinton at the Republican convention last summer &#8212; was satisfying. To hear that he might be replaced as national security adviser by someone saner is reassuring. </p> <p>But Flynn's ouster is only the first chapter in a potentially historic scandal that has begun to unfold. The contradictory accounts and explanations offered by presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, press secretary Sean Spicer and others around Donald Trump left crucial questions unanswered.</p> <p>According to the most plausible version, Sally Q. Yates, then the acting attorney general, informed the White House counsel's office in late January about NSA intercepts of conversations between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Transcripts showed that contrary to public assertions by Flynn &#8212; bolstered by Vice President Mike Pence &#8212; the retired general and Trump campaign adviser had discussed with the ambassador the possibility of lifting sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama. Accompanied by a Justice Department national security official, Yates told White House counsel Don McGahn that they feared Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 17, 2017</p> 5185090f5b52e08469c6d578546659e2 'Populist' Trump Punks His Fans for 02/03/2017 Fri, 03 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There was never any reason to think that Donald Trump's stump-speech assaults on Wall Street banks and hedge funds were even momentarily sincere &#8212; but millions of working- and middle-class voters loved his populist rhetoric. </p> <p>Emerging from his gold-plated jet, Trump would roar about cracking down on the financial vultures who had fattened while everyone else suffered, as his fans cheered.<p>Updated: Fri Feb 03, 2017</p> ffd21e416c8974e59ac6c2f14d766b36 The Hostile Transition of Power for 01/20/2017 Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Everyone who wondered what Steve Bannon has been doing in Trump Tower now knows the answer: He has been drafting the new president's vengeful and cliche-laden inaugural address, which is certainly the least impressive speech of its kind in memory and likely one of the worst in history. </p> <p>With its repeated harping on "America First" and the thieving perfidy of Washington, condemning both parties in government, this speech plainly reiterated the same messages formulated by the former Breitbart chairman during last year's campaign. It sounded as if Trump were still on the stump, stirring up his fans, rather than seeking to unify the country and take on the profound responsibilities of the nation's highest office.<p>Updated: Fri Jan 20, 2017</p> 9156e71eb1a459e1648ee3d14a156aa8 This 'Fake News' May Be Real for 01/13/2017 Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>When Donald Trump denounced the latest hints of his collusion with the Kremlin as "FAKE NEWS!" on Twitter, it was hard not to wonder what he meant exactly. Having barraged us all for years with fake news about a wide variety of important matters such as Barack Obama's true birthplace, the charitable work of the Clinton Foundation, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the dangers of childhood vaccination, does Trump mean we should believe the Russians conspired to help him win the 2016 election? Or does he mean that, unlike all of his favorite fake news stories, we shouldn't believe this one?</p> <p>Whatever Trump may mean when he complains about fake news, the story of Russian interference on his behalf in the 2016 election is undeniably real. So the president-elect himself finally admitted when, at his press conference, he acknowledged the accuracy of U.S. intelligence assessments of the Kremlin's culpability in hacking the Democrats. Following a private conversation with James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, he finally stopped trying to deny and cover up those nefarious thefts of information by his Russian supporters. <p>Updated: Fri Jan 13, 2017</p> a28af12ee48a562c150c8a552fbf932c Investigate the Hackers -- and Ignore Trump's Chaff for 01/06/2017 Fri, 06 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In the loud debate over the alleged Russian intelligence attack on our democratic system, Americans have heard all kinds of specious assertions from Donald Trump, his minions and others who, for their own reasons, reject the findings of the U.S. intelligence agencies. Trump clearly fears that a full investigation of those allegations will permanently discredit his narrow electoral victory, already tainted by Hillary Clinton's popular-vote majority. It is telling that he described the hacking probes as a partisan "political witch hunt" before the nation's spy chiefs even presented him with their evidence.</p> <p>Telling, but not surprising: <span class="column--highlighted-text">As usual, Trump is sending up chaff designed to distract from his own dubious conduct and connections.</span><p>Updated: Fri Jan 06, 2017</p> 4bcbc480560216888da393f1f6c83df0 The Message From the Manger for 12/23/2016 Fri, 23 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is a custom familiar to everyone raised in Western cultures, whether or not they happen to share the Christian faith. So important is Christmas to Americans that even the traditional holiday greeting is misused as a partisan weapon &#8212; seized by a political figure no less profane, irreligious and insincere than Donald Trump, who proclaims he will restore its meaning.</p> <p>Complaining peevishly of a mythical "war on Christmas," the president-elect evidently believes the holiday's most compelling aspect is the right to impose its observance on others who may not share his professed piety. In a country founded on freedom from religious coercion of any kind, Trump repeatedly promised to "assault" the domestic enemies of Christendom, which in the minds of Trump's followers include Barack Obama and his family. Never mind that on Dec. 1, the president lit the National Christmas Tree in a ceremony aimed at unifying the country, regardless of faith or ethnicity, with musical stars singing carols and the first lady reading "The Night Before Christmas."<p>Updated: Fri Dec 23, 2016</p> 5ba56bcc7389802d3bb85387750149f5 Donald Trump's Death Panel for 12/19/2016 Mon, 19 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Not long ago, Americans learned that the average life expectancy for white people in this country &#8212; those most likely to have voted for Donald Trump &#8212; actually declined for the first time in many years. The pathologies and frustrations believed to have driven that decline may have motivated the tiny handful of votes that gave Trump his Electoral College victory. </p> <p>But not long after their euphoria over his inauguration fades, they are going to learn why his administration is so likely to drive those statistics in the wrong direction. Despite his promises to protect Social Security and Medicare &#8212; and his vow to replace the Affordable Care Act with "something much better" &#8212; Trump's cabinet appointees and his allies in Congress plan ruinous changes to those programs. And that will mean ruin, and in thousands of cases death, for the mostly white and working-class people who depend so heavily on them.<p>Updated: Mon Dec 19, 2016</p> 4558aa73cc00b1515a5213fc4c35d6ab The Man Who Gets Away With Everything for 12/09/2016 Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Only Donald Trump would continue sponsoring campaign-style rallies, a full month after Election Day. And only Trump's most fervent followers, the zealots who still show up to hear him gloat at those events, would continue to chant "Drain the swamp!" at his command &#8212; when he is so obviously emptying that swamp into the White House swimming pool.</p> <p>The bad joke of 2016 is that Trump actually perpetrates every one of the offenses charged against Hillary Clinton, whether invented or plausible, while he escapes all the blaming and shaming that fell so heavily upon her. The starkest example is the contrast between the Clinton Foundation, an enormous force for good that was falsely accused of wrongdoing in countless stories, columns and broadcasts, and the Trump Foundation, a vainglorious vehicle for tax evasion that has now confessed to unlawful self-dealing and remains barred from doing business by authorities in its home state.</p> <p>But it is the Clintons' reputation that suffered, even as Trump and his family remain unscathed.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 09, 2016</p> dc0412c3d21d31c157d133b4261234c7 Why Trump Won't Bring Jobs for 12/05/2016 Mon, 05 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Within a day after Donald Trump's triumphal visit to Indiana, where he claimed credit for "saving" 800 jobs at a Carrier factory, the Department of Labor released its first monthly unemployment report since his election victory &#8212; and one of the last that will come out during the presidency of Barack Obama. </p> <p>Together those events illustrated the contrast between a real strategy for economic growth and the dubious gambit of a Twitter addict.<p>Updated: Mon Dec 05, 2016</p> 5d17b23d2045e78360dac8eaad7f4e8a A Real Email Scandal -- and Trump's Hypocrisy for 11/28/2016 Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p>For well over a year, Donald Trump ranted constantly about the woman he smeared as "Crooked Hillary," insisting that her alleged disclosures of classified information &#8212; although unintentional, harmless and ultimately deemed innocent by the FBI director &#8212; were serious felonies for which she ought to be sent to prison. "Hillary Clinton's corruption is on a scale we have never seen before," he sputtered. "We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office." </p> <p>That Trump no longer threatens to abuse his office to prosecute her doesn't change what he or his supporters said about her supposed crimes. The ugly screams of "Lock her up!" at the Republican convention still echo.</p> <p>But now Trump evidently believes that David Petraeus &#8212; who pled guilty to charges that he intentionally revealed classified information to his mistress &#8212; could be trusted to serve in the same exceptionally sensitive post that Clinton once held. The retired general, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan before serving as CIA director under President Obama, reportedly came very close to a felony conviction that would have sent him to prison for leaking top secrets. He also lied to FBI agents during their investigation of his misconduct, a crime that FBI director James Comey specifically said that Clinton did not commit.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 28, 2016</p> da4f4d749397e87aa1401088a799ea10 As Neo-Nazis Hail Him, Trump Shrugs for 11/22/2016 Tue, 22 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In recent days, events have reignited the most disturbing speculation about the nature of the incoming Trump regime, its ideological orientation, and the political character of the president-elect himself.</p> <p>Over the weekend, an organization that calls itself the National Policy Institute convened a couple hundred white nationalists and other disreputable elements of the self-styled alt-right in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the election of Donald Trump.<p>Updated: Tue Nov 22, 2016</p> 6fc6b9ebb7b93fbb08475cdcf45503ce Rogue FBI Agents Deface Democracy for 11/04/2016 Fri, 04 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Whatever the outcome next Tuesday, our political system crossed a disturbing Rubicon during the days leading up to that climax: For the first time in recent memory, officials of the nation's premier law enforcement agency sought to influence a national election with illicit leaks. </p> <p>Murky information about investigations of Hillary Clinton's emails and the Clinton Foundation, even fraudulent rumors of "indictments" have flooded the media, all somehow traced back to the FBI &#8212; with Rudolph Giuliani of the Donald Trump campaign boasting on Fox News that he had advance knowledge of these manipulations.</p> <p>Owing to his longstanding connections with the bureau, Giuliani had predicted "a couple of surprises" to come in late October, just days before FBI director James Comey sent his fateful letter to Congress about reviewing new emails in the Clinton case he closed last July. <p>Updated: Mon Nov 07, 2016</p> 914f00d339b76822d1af2648bbc967f4 Donald Trump's Clinton Blame Game for 10/14/2016 Fri, 14 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For reasons best known to Donald Trump and his campaign, they seem to believe that the best way to deflect the ongoing deluge of sexual assault accusations against him is to keep repeating old stories about Bill Clinton. If the former president did something wrong once upon a time, according to this theory, then Hillary Clinton is also guilty by association. And Trump is somehow exculpated.</p> <p>Both the candidate and his surrogates insist that Clinton "enabled" her husband's philandering, although they never quite explain what that means. And sometimes, without offering any proof, they claim that she "intimidated" or "attacked" the women who complained about her husband's alleged unwanted advances. To bolster this argument, they usually roll out three alleged victims &#8212; Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones &#8212;usually on Fox News. <p>Updated: Fri Oct 14, 2016</p> 9d8939085756b71dae195c71a17f63c6 Former Whitewater Counsel Faces the Truth for 10/10/2016 Mon, 10 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Most Americans may no longer remember Michael Chertoff, the New Jersey Republican who once headed the Department of Homeland Security &#8212; and who earned that position in part to reward his work on the Senate Whitewater Committee, where he served under New York's Alfonse D'Amato as chief counsel. But anyone who closely observed the antics of that committee &#8212; as I did while covering its ridiculous partisan witch hunt against the Clintons &#8212; will remember Chertoff all too well.</p> <p>Unlike the committee's Republican Senators, along with their ardent followers among scandal-addled reporters and right-wing rubes, its top lawyer always seemed far too smart to believe any of the far-fetched accusations. But he was cynical enough to promote them with feigned indignation.<p>Updated: Mon Oct 10, 2016</p> 1bbd0f2b931ea8a6fca19e8cb29f3936 The Brazen Hypocrisy of Trump, Giuliani -- and Their Enablers for 09/30/2016 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Only in this mad election could a male presidential nominee &#8212; a misogynist boor who has been married three times, who has boasted of adultery with his friends' wives, and who has even publicly leered at his own daughter &#8212; seek to blame a female candidate for her husband's sexual indiscretions. And only in this election would that nominee outsource the attacks to a surrogate whose marital history is even more embarrassing, because it involved gross misconduct in elected office.</p> <p>But that perfectly describes Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, and their bizarrely inappropriate attack on Hillary Clinton's marriage. Perhaps we can expect Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich &#8212; who notified his second wife that he planned to divorce her while she was hospitalized with cancer &#8212; to chime in next. <p>Updated: Fri Sep 30, 2016</p> c8124894ce0759d14a59de5c3af4fa6a A Moral Victory for Bill Clinton -- And His Foundation for 09/23/2016 Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Late on the afternoon of Sept. 21 &#8212; almost exactly eleven years after Bill Clinton inaugurated the annual Clinton Global Initiative conferences in New York City &#8212; the former president offered closing remarks there for the very last time. Having watched this innovative organization grow from a casual idea into a formidable entity credited for delivering quality health care, clean water, modern education, disaster relief and other essential benefits to millions of people around the world, he told its members and supporters gathered in a midtown hotel ballroom that "CGI has worked out better than I ever dreamed."</p> <p>It was understandable and probably wise for Clinton to declare victory, having profoundly changed the mindset and practice of modern philanthropy. But as the sound of John Lennon's "Imagine" filled the room, it was impossible to ignore another aspect of CGI's conclusion &#8212;- the angry, exaggerated and almost always inaccurate attacks on the initiative from political adversaries of Bill and Hillary Clinton, bristling with accusations of "corruption" and "favoritism."<p>Updated: Fri Sep 23, 2016</p> 596a67915f55a65145d72850b4046db6 Pay For Play? The Scandal Is Judicial Watch Misleading Gullible Media for 08/30/2016 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Listening to the national media over the past few weeks, many Americans may now believe that the Clinton Foundation was set up as a "pay to play" scheme for Hillary Clinton to squeeze millions of dollars from wealthy foreigners and rich Americans. According to this theory, popularized by a lavishly funded right-wing organization called Judicial Watch, the former secretary of state would only deal with people and governments that had donated big money to her husband's foundation.</p> <p>But that story is itself a fraudulent scam, perpetrated by Judicial Watch with misleading information fed to gullible, lazy Washington journalists.<p>Updated: Tue Aug 30, 2016</p> 235a124e33206fd9c07446e3bfa30272 Why Is Assange Pushing Trump's Conspiracies? for 08/15/2016 Mon, 15 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Among the most distasteful features of this election cycle is the adoption of right-wing propaganda themes &#8212; including moldy material from decades ago &#8212; by ostensibly progressive activists and publications. In their zeal to bring down Hillary Clinton, elements of the left have mimicked the right to promote "scandals" that were decisively disproved when Bill Clinton was president.</p> <p>Despite the strenuous efforts of Nixon dirty trickster Roger J. Stone and his ilk, however, the attempted recycling of old garbage on behalf of Donald Trump has resulted only in a big dumpster fire (and a surge in book sales to the same rubes who bought all those similar volumes of bilge during the '90s).</p> <p>Undiscouraged, these fanatical fabulists have come up with a new and wild accusation, blatantly echoing the discredited "Clinton death list" and the old Vince Foster mania. And to promote their latest canard they have acquired an unexpected ally.<p>Updated: Mon Aug 15, 2016</p> d30526fb9b48235b3ca0f8786f22127a Country First: Why John McCain Must Dump Trump for 08/08/2016 Mon, 08 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"Country first."</p> <p>That was the patriotic slogan of John McCain's presidential campaign eight years ago, uttered by the Arizona Republican to express a higher purpose than partisan, ideological or career motivations. Behind that brief phrase was the primacy of the nation &#8212; not necessarily above family or religion, perhaps, but certainly above party.</p> <p>It is not an easy ideal to uphold, especially in our polarized national politics. For years the former prisoner of war could claim, more plausibly than most American politicians, that he has tried to live by those words. <p>Updated: Mon Aug 08, 2016</p> 11c499966745623317002b1119ce4a54 Why America Recoils From Trump for 07/22/2016 Fri, 22 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>The revulsion evoked by Donald Trump as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland goes far beyond his speech, which was memorable only for its angry mood, not its vapid content. What repelled so many Americans in that moment was the realization &#8212; or simply the intuition &#8212; that the candidate of the Grand Old Party in 2016 is a living repudiation of every hope, every principle and nearly every word that made this country great.<p>Updated: Fri Jul 22, 2016</p>