Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 23 Feb 2018 13:31:48 -0800 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 11a37af8b16912dd7259ab8d0ff8d930 Yes, the President Must Testify for 01/31/2018 Wed, 31 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Donald Trump tells reporters that he is eager to chat with Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating his campaign's suspected collusion with the Kremlin and his attempts to obstruct that investigation, but his sincerity is in doubt. When he proclaims his willingness to let Mueller question him, "under oath," it sounds like typical Trump bluster.</p> <p>Still, as one of the most successful liars in modern history &#8212; with a talent for prevarication that has seen him through many civil lawsuits and a presidential campaign &#8212; the former casino mogul may believe he can verbally slither past Mueller, too. His lawyers feel no such confidence, however; they reliably show up to cancel his reckless offers to testify, as they did recently under some feeble pretext.</p> <p>Should Mueller insist that Trump must testify, he is certain to complain that the special counsel is treating him unfairly. He will cry "witch hunt." He will whine that no president has ever been subjected to such diabolical persecution. He will claim again that Hillary Clinton escaped from the FBI investigation of her emails without giving testimony under oath. None of which is true.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 31, 2018</p> 2d76dc439943cfacf5fa590fa8e01aef Useful Idiots vs. the FBI for 01/22/2018 Mon, 22 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Nothing is more fashionable these days on the Republican right than to trash America's law enforcement and intelligence services. Legislators like Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Francis Rooney, R-Fla., broadcast accusations about "major corruption" within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and demand a "purge." Tom Fitton, who runs the right-wing legal outfit known as Judicial Watch, has even called for the FBI to be "shut down."</p> <p>And of course Donald Trump himself has led an unrelenting assault on the bureau, with his trademark screeching tweets and verbal outbursts, repeatedly suggesting that the nation's premier law enforcement agency is "tainted," its reputation "in tatters."<p>Updated: Mon Jan 22, 2018</p> d7c8365aab20ed84c5a746a2e2ca9378 No, 'Both Sides' Don't Smear Prosecutors for 12/19/2017 Tue, 19 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In American political journalism, the most comforting bit of conventional wisdom, the phrase that signals fairness and objectivity regardless of pesky facts, is "both sides."</p> <p>So while the Trump administration and its chorus in right-wing media defame special counsel Robert Mueller as a partisan plotter, the Washington press corps endlessly reminds us that Democrats once objected to abuses by Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who spent seven years and $50 million in pursuit of President Bill Clinton. See! Both sides have criticized prosecutors, which makes them equally guilty, or innocent, or something.<p>Updated: Tue Dec 19, 2017</p> d51bc2fecdc3d3680089bcefac4ad32b No 'Privilege' for Trump Jr. for 12/12/2017 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Long before Donald Trump Jr. claimed "attorney-client privilege" last week to avoid answering Congressional inquiries, that same claim was tested and wisely rejected by Congress. Junior isn't even the first real estate executive asked to testify about suspected connections to a foreign dictator who tried that gambit to avoid questions in a Capitol Hill hot seat.</p> <p>Appearing on Dec. 6 before the House Intelligence Committee, the president's eldest son specifically declined to answer questions about a crucial conversation with his father. That chat occurred last July, when the two Dons discussed how they might cope with the release of a series of emails that showed Junior had met with Russians offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.<p>Updated: Tue Dec 12, 2017</p> ca810669aa7d2641c1fd7b182e203e3a Why Trump Must Think Twice Before He Pardons Flynn for 12/02/2017 Sat, 02 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Ever since Michael Flynn departed the Trump White House under a cloud of disgrace last February, speculation has mounted that the president might pardon his former national security adviser. With Flynn's guilty plea in federal court and disclosure of his cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller, conjecture about such a pardon is rampant. And for Donald Trump, who clearly assumes that he can get away with anything, the appeal of silencing a potential witness with the pardon power must be almost irresistible.</p> <p>But he should hesitate before pardoning anyone who might testify about him or members of his family.<p>Updated: Sat Dec 02, 2017</p> 284668833d81b43e32d653a78136dd65 Why Franken Should Not Resign for 11/27/2017 Mon, 27 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The chorus of loud demands for Senator Al Franken's resignation began from the moment that Leeann Tweeden accused him of sexual harassment. Those calls intensified after three more women &#8212; two of them anonymous &#8212; said the Minnesota Democrat had touched them inappropriately. They haven't subsided yet.</p> <p>Although not all the facts are clear, Franken apologized immediately. Since then, he has admitted that his conduct on some occasions had fallen short of the respect for women he has always professed.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 27, 2017</p> 83c40df7e662a55bec6f6d58657194f8 When 'Reckoning' With Bill, Try Facts Not Myths for 11/17/2017 Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Suddenly it has become fashionable again in liberal circles to flay Bill Clinton for his sexual misconduct, whether real, alleged or imagined. Amid the national frenzy swirling around the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore, prominent journalists and politicians are competing to display their dudgeon over the former president and things he is said to have done long ago.</p> <p>On The New York Times op-ed page, new columnist Michelle Goldberg writes that the former president ought to be expelled from "decent society" because of Juanita Broaddrick's allegation that he raped her in 1978, under the headline "I Believe Juanita." In Politico, former ABC correspondent Jeff Greenfield pillories Democrats who supported Clinton for supposedly "brushing aside the serious questions ... of predatory sexual behavior" toward Broaddrick, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey.<p>Updated: Fri Nov 17, 2017</p> c4597d11ed86a6f3cb0d3bfaf7c66db8 An Acid Test for the Self-Righteous Right for 11/13/2017 Mon, 13 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Whenever a politician insists too much on his own pious morality &#8212; and his duty to impose that particular brand of morality on everyone else &#8212; the safest prediction is that sooner or later, a scandal will emerge. For Roy Moore, the former judge now running to fill Jeff Session's Senate seat, the revelations about his past remained hidden for decades, while he constantly proclaimed his righteousness from a perch atop the Ten Commandments.</p> <p>Now we have heard from four Alabama women who say Moore dated them when they were teenagers &#8212; in one case, a 14-year-old girl with whom he allegedly initiated sexual contact &#8212; and he was an Etowah County assistant district attorney in his thirties. The Republican Senate nominee says it's all just a pack of lies, concocted by the "Democrat Party and The Washington Post," which first reported the women's allegations in a lengthy front-page investigation on Wednesday.</p> <p>But the highly detailed accounts, by four women who don't know each and whose recollections other sources endorsed on the record, appear more credible than Moore's denial. Wholly apart from his extremist politics, the Post's portrait of Moore is disturbingly creepy, a lawman prowling the local mall in his spare time to meet underage girls. Before he ascended to the Alabama bench &#8212; and before a federal court order ousted him for refusing to remove a massive Ten Commandments sculpture from Alabama's Supreme Court building &#8212; he may have committed a felony sex offense.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 13, 2017</p> b4fb8f31038c44c4e57f9ccec3ac6082 Now We Know John Kelly for 10/24/2017 Tue, 24 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>After all the sound and fury and infantile tweeting, what have we learned from the controversy over the president's call to Sgt. La David Johnson's widow? We still don't know much about why he and his three fellow Green Berets died or what the U.S. mission may be in Niger. But we again discovered something about Donald Trump that should have been obvious for a long time: Getting too close to him will eventually ruin anybody's good reputation.</p> <p>In this instance, the permanent damage was done to John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general who serves as White House chief of staff. Brought in to rescue this debacle of an incompetent and ill-intentioned administration, Kelly was well-respected despite his role in implementing Trump's heartless, bigoted immigration policies at the Department of Homeland Security.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 24, 2017</p> d579381522717c9f7a131aa3b95dd16a Let's Not Neglect the Alpha Creep for 10/13/2017 Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The accumulating allegations of sexual assault and harassment raised against Harvey Weinstein in recent days are deeply disturbing, and may well result in criminal prosecution of the Hollywood producer. Beyond Weinstein's own fate, this latest episode in the very old history of women's mistreatment by unscrupulous men seems likely to expose still more perpetrators, in occupations and industries far beyond the movie business. Sexist thugs prey on the defenseless in corporate suites and military bases, from factories and farms to restaurants and retailers.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Yet while media outlets ferret out more alleged villains, as they surely should, let's not forget the alpha creep, who has so far escaped real accountability. </span><p>Updated: Fri Oct 13, 2017</p> 377a4868720324bcd614a6cbf7f7e3f7 We Need More Than 'Thoughts and Prayers' for 10/02/2017 Mon, 02 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Whenever someone commits a heinous gun crime like the massacre in Las Vegas, politicians swiftly assure us that the victims and their families are "in our thoughts and prayers." What these mush-mouthed messages mean, in plain English, is that government, as embodied in those politicians, will do nothing to make the country safer from gun violence. Thoughts and prayers are all we're going to get. </p> <p>In fact, those same elected officials are almost always poised to rubber-stamp statutes that will make us less safe, such as Congressional Republicans' upcoming proposals to deregulate silencers and expand concealed-carry rights. The Vegas shooter got nearly two dozen weapons into his hotel room at Mandalay Bay, but our brilliant legislators believe it's still too difficult to transport weapons of mass murder.<p>Updated: Mon Oct 02, 2017</p> 14bf532c8ff7d3d2859d9165a863cb37 Why Trump Is So Wrong On Iran for 09/22/2017 Fri, 22 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The dangers of arrogance and ignorance are nowhere more starkly illustrated than in Donald Trump's Oval Office, where anguished advisers seek constantly to steer a rogue president away from international disaster. And now the stakes of his stubborn stupidity have gone nuclear.</p> <p>Having disparaged the Iran nuclear deal for years &#8212; without actually understanding its provisions or even the process that produced it &#8212; Trump now sounds determined to abrogate that agreement. In his dismal address to the United Nations last Tuesday, he repeated his usual sneering refrain: "The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."<p>Updated: Fri Sep 22, 2017</p> be75b8a254f597a60a01eda4a505795b Why the Media Want Hillary to Shut Up for 09/11/2017 Mon, 11 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There is something slightly strange about the reproachful media response to "What Happened," Hillary Clinton's new book on the 2016 campaign. </p> <p>Now everyone knows that the Washington press corps dislikes and distrusts the former Democratic nominee. After all, several of its most eminent members have admitted their herd's prejudice against her. But the nearly unanimous demand for her to be silent &#8212; often presented in the form of blind quotes from her alleged "friends"&#8212; cuts against normal journalistic curiosity, let alone the usual lust for fresh gossip. <p>Updated: Mon Sep 11, 2017</p> 12118129e224817ebbca0b794e6d6efe Trump's Deadly Ego Trip for 08/11/2017 Fri, 11 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Even before the embarrassing demise of his health care legislation, Donald Trump could no longer claim that he would "take care of everybody" with a "beautiful" new system that insures all Americans, regardless of their ability to pay. Such election-year vows were abandoned months ago, when the Trump White House allowed Republican Congressional leaders to shape the "repeal and replace" bill he had also promised. </p> <p>The result, as everyone knows, was a series of proposals so "mean" &#8212; according to Trump himself &#8212; as to end coverage for tens of millions of Americans.</p> <p>Trump's broken promises of cheaper and better medical care for all, which were surely never sincere, crystallized the intellectual and moral laziness of his presidency. But with this president, bad inexorably becomes worse. And now, following the defeat of his terrible Trumpcare initiative, he is plotting revenge that would gravely harm still more people, many of them in families that supported him.<p>Updated: Fri Aug 11, 2017</p> 778871fc31293f16cf864b53275b0921 Why Bob Mueller Is No Ken Starr for 07/24/2017 Mon, 24 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As Robert Mueller pursues a wide-ranging investigation aimed at Donald Trump, members of Trump's family, his appointees and his political associates, the president's legal advisers have answered by attacking the legitimacy and fairness of the special counsel &#8212; which may be the prelude to executive action.</p> <p>The White House complains that Mueller and his staff are "partisan" and biased against Trump. And it is all fair play, according to Trump's friends in right-wing media, because the Clinton White House and its allies criticized independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations. <p>Updated: Mon Jul 24, 2017</p> 283641c0c0e97aa53252e1daf2942e24 Why Trump Jr. Should Release More Emails for 07/17/2017 Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>For many months, Donald J. Trump and his closest associates have assured Americans that their presidential campaign had "absolutely no contact" with any Russians seeking to influence the course of the 2016 presidential election. Among those who issued the most vehement denials were Paul Manafort, the Washington influence peddler who served as campaign manager, and eldest son Donald J. Trump Jr., who called any such suggestions "disgusting."</p> <p>Truly disgusting are the brazen lies uttered by these individuals. Everyone now knows about the June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower where Trump Jr., Manafort, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner hosted Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin.</p> <p>Considering the history of falsehoods and evasions by Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort &#8212; plus the strong incentive to conceal wrongdoing &#8212; their accounts must be treated with profound skepticism. But both Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin (an immigrant who once served in Russian military intelligence) say that they came to offer "evidence" of alleged offenses by Democratic donors to Clinton.<p>Updated: Mon Jul 17, 2017</p> c4088282d12fc5aa3b209b622a6f03c5 On July Fourth, a Message for Patriots for 07/03/2017 Mon, 03 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On this Fourth of July, Americans live restlessly under a presidential administration hostile to the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Most Americans despise the president &#8212; a blustering, feckless lout who ignores those documents as he undermines freedom of the press and the free exercise of religion. He has appointed a government of plutocrats, mostly mirroring his own unfitness for office, who appear determined to dismantle the institutions that have made this country humane, strong, prosperous, and respected. Along with his political associates and members of his family, he has encouraged and emboldened the very worst elements in American politics, including so-called white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and neo-Confederates, all echoing his promise to "Make America Great Again."</p> <p>They cannot make America great again. Anyone who has studied the past should know that those right-wing extremists, always insisting on their supreme patriotism, are traditional enemies of the nation they claim to love. <span class="column--highlighted-text">When a demagogue like Donald Trump wraps himself in the Stars and Stripes, he is defiling the flag and denying our history.</span><p>Updated: Mon Jul 03, 2017</p> faa71afb40704919877418aca0082328 Why Trump (and Gingrich) Should Stop Whining About Robert Mueller for 06/19/2017 Mon, 19 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>When Newt Gingrich humiliates himself by smearing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it is all too easy to dismiss the former speaker. As a disgraced politician who left office under an ethical cloud, following a decade spent debasing American discourse, Gingrich has no standing to criticize Mueller, a decorated Vietnam veteran who enjoys broad bipartisan esteem after a lifetime devoted to public service.</p> <p>But others have seized on the Gingrich theme, complaining of Mueller's supposed bias against Trump, for which the sole evidence appears to be a few donations to Democratic campaigns by lawyers on the special counsel staff. Apparently, the only way to guarantee "fairness" is to appoint a hardcore Republican to every position.</p> <p>Such deep concern over the partisan affiliation of a special counsel or an independent counsel is something new for the Republicans. None of them voiced any qualms when, under the old Independent Counsel Act, a panel of three Republican judges consistently appointed Republican prosecutors to investigate a Democratic administration, as they did several times when Bill Clinton was president.<p>Updated: Mon Jun 19, 2017</p> a6c8e61d481694000d5e171ac7d6fb30 Why Trump Must Make Putin Smile for 06/06/2017 Tue, 06 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Whenever Donald Trump gratuitously insults an American ally or casually degrades our country's reputation, it is hard not to wonder what he thinks he is doing. Could the president of the United States perpetrate these damaging stunts, over and over again, merely to massage his own ego? Of all the explanations for Trump's astonishingly destructive behavior, immaturity and narcissism are actually among the more innocent possibilities.</p> <p>With each episode, the suspicion increasingly arises that Trump's constant undermining of American alliances, credibility and prestige is not simply stupid or petulant but purposeful. And then the question is whose purpose that pattern might serve.</p> <p>Until the next news cycle, the freshest example is his Twitter assault on London Mayor Sadiq Khan. For no reason at all, Trump falsely claimed &#8212; in the wake of last weekend's terror attack in the British capital &#8212; that Khan didn't take the horror seriously enough. Even as heads of state from around the world sent messages of support to the great city on the Thames, the president engaged in a petty provocation that predictably infuriated the citizens of America's closest ally. (Imagine the outrage here if the prime minister of a NATO country had chosen Sept. 12, 2001, to insult Rudy Giuliani as a posturing fraud.)<p>Updated: Tue Jun 06, 2017</p> fff30984856f9be58eeb8f5973669c07 Trump's Epic Budget Swindle for 05/27/2017 Sat, 27 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Elect a fraudster to the presidency &#8212; remember Trump University and the Trump Foundation? &#8212; and he will soon deliver a fraudulent budget. What makes this presidential fraudster's first budget so special is the simultaneous perpetration of multiple levels of fraud.</p> <p>Aside from defense spending, the Trump budget violates nearly every programmatic promise he made to voters last year. And he pretends to fulfill his promise of balancing the budget with fake numbers.</p> <p>Not only are the numbers phony but also they represent the most audacious mathematical con game in a federal budget in recent memory. It is phonier than the phony budgets cooked up during the Reagan era, when the president's own budget director eventually confessed, "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers."<p>Updated: Sat May 27, 2017</p>