Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sun, 20 Jan 2019 05:46:17 -0800 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate ad5990c4e09453f00bab11d9b7e0fd75 What the Shutdown Really Means for 01/16/2019 Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>The unprecedented government shutdown is approaching the end of its first month with no foreseeable relief. The costs and the risks are quickly becoming intolerable. The notion of any upside to this fiasco is absurd.</p> <p>Yet we can at least hope that the American people, often afflicted with historical amnesia, will learn a lesson from this shutdown and remember it: Government services are essential to a decent, livable, secure society &#8212; and the people who provide those services are our fellow citizens, not anonymous "bureaucrats."</p> <p>Does that seem too obvious? After decades of anti-government propaganda &#8212; financed by all the usual right-wing billionaire suspects &#8212; many Americans came to believe the simple-minded mantra so famously attributed to former President Ronald Reagan: "(G)overnment is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." (In the same spirit, Reagan also once told us that the creation of Medicare would put the United States on an inexorable path to Marxist perdition.)<p>Updated: Wed Jan 16, 2019</p> d36ffbb10013e6b82f6912cc040e72d3 Will Partisan Politics Trump Justice? for 01/10/2019 Thu, 10 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Certain figures in Washington develop a gold-plated image over the years, praised so often in reputable media outlets as men (almost always men) of integrity that their reputations become unassailable. Nobody criticizes them, because they are defined above criticism. Often enough, these figures prove less perfect than advertised &#8212; think Clark Clifford or Kenneth Starr.</p> <p>Such a fellow is William Barr, whose nomination by President Trump for United States attorney general will come before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. His name is almost invariably adorned with adjectives like "prominent" and "respected." These days, it is also usually noted that he is one of the youngest lawyers who ever served in the office to which he again aspires, named by the late former President George H.W. Bush, of blessed memory, et cetera.</p> <p>Given this uplifting consensus, it may seem churlish to mention some basic facts about Barr. Contrary to the sugar coating routinely applied by pundits to the Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush era, the Justice Department that Barr once headed was rife with political intrigue. (An attorney general predecessor of his &#8212; one Edwin Meese, still at large &#8212; barely escaped prison.)<p>Updated: Thu Jan 10, 2019</p> 3cd469e6faa71d2707e5bb0a24dcba14 The New Sheriff Talks Impeachment for 01/02/2019 Wed, 02 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>On the afternoon of Jan. 3, life will change irrevocably and in many ways for President Donald J. Trump when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. One of the most important changes is personified by the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a very able politician who has known Trump &#8212; and sometimes thwarted his development schemes &#8212; for decades.</p> <p>The stakes are much higher now than any gaudy edifice Trump ever wanted to build in Nadler's home district on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (he now represents most of the island's western neighborhoods and parts of Brooklyn as well). Nadler will be the new chair of the committee where impeachment proceedings must begin &#8212; and where the liberal Democrat has served since the impeachment of Bill Clinton.</p> <p>Interviewed on the local NPR station in New York on Wednesday, Nadler left no doubt that he will approach this rogue presidency far more aggressively than his predecessor Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., whose flaccid attitude mocked any thought of accountability. His innate seriousness is itself a grave threat to Trump. As he has made clear on more than one occasion, he will proceed without fanfare, but also without fear, to follow wherever the evidence leads. And if that means impeachment, he will get there in due course.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 02, 2019</p> dd5069279e54427380175523930f18da The Grim Truth About Impeachment for 12/28/2018 Fri, 28 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Sometime during the coming year, Americans are almost certain to confront the question of whether to impeach Donald Trump. The facts that have emerged over the year just past raise grave suspicions about him, his actions and his fitness for office. And still more information will be set before us in the months ahead.</p> <p>For anyone who respects the Constitution and the democratic process, this is a troubling prospect. Those who can recall the Clinton impeachment will remember how many of us felt that the House majority, led by Newt Gingrich, was a gang of hypocrites railroading a Democratic president for strictly partisan reasons. While they delivered lofty speeches proclaiming "the rule of law," their conduct and motives provoked widespread doubt.<p>Updated: Fri Dec 28, 2018</p> 8bd01ecb8cdc553c3498ca3cb6dbcf82 A Tale of Two Foundations for 12/19/2018 Wed, 19 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Nobody ought to be surprised to hear of the belated demise of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a racketeering enterprise under investigation by the state authorities in New York for the past two years. Barbara Underwood, the state attorney general, announced that the foundation will dissolve and its assets distributed to bona fide charitable groups. She seeks to prohibit its overseers, President Trump and his adult children, from serving on the board of any nonprofit in New York for the foreseeable future.</p> <p>Raking through the foundation's records since 2016, Underwood found what she described as "a shocking pattern of illegality," which included not only various self-serving schemes to bolster Trump businesses and stroke Trump's ego but also multiple (and unlawful) expenditures to advance his presidential campaign. The largest donation went to restore a fountain outside the Plaza Hotel in New York when Trump owned it. The smallest went to the Boy Scouts and appeared to be Donald Trump Jr.'s enrollment fee.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 19, 2018</p> e6c22db8fe3e82b9c40c4bda59aafae2 The Rule of Law Or the Shadow of Tyranny for 12/12/2018 Wed, 12 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Those old enough to recall the presidential politics of the 1990s may still hear a certain righteous sentence ringing in their ears: "We must uphold the rule of law."</p> <p>With irrefutable simplicity, those words were uttered in numbing repetition by the Republicans who pursued Bill and Hillary Clinton for years, at a cost of millions, over "scandals" too baroque and too minor to explain.</p> <p>To honor the American rule of law, they simply had to investigate Whitewater, an obscure land deal that had lost the Clintons $45,000 in the remotest Ozarks, several years before he entered the White House. To honor the rule of law, they had no choice but to impeach Clinton, a sinner the same as many of them, for lying about his trysts with Monica Lewinsky. <p>Updated: Wed Dec 12, 2018</p> bed0a0accf68914b5c303adbf2b23809 With Mueller, Patience Is Patriotic for 12/06/2018 Thu, 06 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Everyone clamoring for Robert Mueller to finish his investigation of the Trump campaign's connections with the Kremlin should do us all a favor and relax. The special counsel isn't done probing that complex matter &#8212; or the attempt to conceal the facts &#8212; and he will need more time. </p> <p>Nobody knows when the investigation and any further criminal trials will be completed. The desire for speed is understandable on both sides of the political divide. Many Republicans believe that curtailing the probe will save the president. Many Democrats believe that Mueller already has uncovered enough to ruin Trump &#8212; and that the special counsel's final report will signal the end of his presidency. </p> <p>Both wishful assumptions are probably wrong. Only Mueller, his staff and the judges handling the special counsel cases have any idea how much he knows and what he is preparing to reveal, but the totality promises to be far worse than the edges that we have seen so far. Bad as that totality surely is, however, the prospects of a pusillanimous Senate impeaching Trump or forcing him to resign seem very dim. <p>Updated: Thu Dec 06, 2018</p> 8bfd28d47c85812cf0f0cea861281148 Pardon Manafort -- and Go to Jail for 11/28/2018 Wed, 28 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>For more than a year, Donald Trump has dangled presidential pardons before former associates who might provide evidence against him. He teased such miscreants as Mike Flynn, his crooked national security adviser, and Michael Cohen, his bullying ex-lawyer. And today we know how blatantly he has been using that same enticement to lure his former campaign manager Paul Manafort to abandon a plea agreement with the special counsel.</p> <p>While supposedly cooperating with Robert Mueller's prosecution team, Manafort and his attorney were revealing to President Trump and his lawyers what questions the prosecutors were asking and how he had answered. In short, he acted as a spy for the White House.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 29, 2018</p> f2d8f38ae3bdc9c54bd8f24831eac333 Why Pelosi Opponents Are So Wrong for 11/21/2018 Wed, 21 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The tiny faction of Democrats who aim to block Rep. Nancy Pelosi's election as House speaker are only missing two things: a candidate of their own and a rationale that makes sense.</p> <p>The easier problem is the absence of a candidate, even though the members who have been mentioned so far seem small when measured against Pelosi, who is often described with superlatives such as "formidable" and even "legendary." And most of her declared opponents within the Democratic caucus are white men, so they may have trouble persuading colleagues that ousting history's first female speaker to install one of them would be an uplifting change.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 21, 2018</p> 9e902253d58c05c51cb2fadccbd862d7 Trump Insults Our Troops, Again for 11/14/2018 Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Among Donald Trump's favorite stump-speech cliches is insisting on his fervent veneration of our military veterans. He often posts flowery tweets about them too, referring to them as "amazing people" and promising to "take care of the vets" because "we love the vets." It is a sentiment that almost every politician &#8212; or citizen &#8212; should be able to utter with perfect sincerity.</p> <p>Given the insults he has heaped on veterans lately, those words now sound as hollow as any other Trump lie.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 14, 2018</p> 0c5caa1243365ac995cffd5a9f0ac0d5 Same Old Poison, Brassy New Salesman for 11/07/2018 Wed, 07 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Whatever the outcome of the midterm elections, the Republican Party under Donald Trump has awakened bad memories of the racially divisive campaign that helped elect George H.W. Bush to the presidency exactly three decades ago.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Politics in America was never quite the same after the "Willie Horton" ad aired during the final weeks of the 1988 campaign. </span>Its appeal to white fears and its insinuation that every black man might be a criminal were too blatant even for Lee Atwater, the bare-knuckle consultant then running the Bush campaign.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 07, 2018</p> d95c0a192f25f41ea3242442c84463a1 The Far Right Is Far More Dangerous for 10/31/2018 Wed, 31 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Confronting acts of domestic political violence, the conditioned response of major media outlets is to blame "both sides," signaling their own supposed neutrality amid intense national polarization. Some voices even attempt to equate loud speech or angry words in restaurants to the murderous spray of an assault rifle.</span><br></p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">But to pretend that left and right inflict equivalent levels of deadly violence in American society is both inaccurate and irresponsible.</span> Examining the data on domestic terrorism and hate crimes leaves no doubt: The majority of politically motivated killings in our country over the past two decades have been perpetrated by individuals identified with the far right, not by any faction of the left and not even by radical Islamists. <p>Updated: Mon Nov 05, 2018</p> 5cc67d383a6be4dde6619ef5b0943e08 Khashoggi's Demise Reveals Unpleasant Truths for 10/17/2018 Wed, 17 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The apparent murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist and U.S. resident, should force Americans to confront unpleasant truths about the Saudi regime &#8212; and its enablers in the White House.</p> <p>Let's understand first that there is nothing truly unusual about the Khashoggi crime, except for its location in a consulate on foreign soil. Putting dissidents to death is what they do in Saudi Arabia, where the favored means of execution is beheading by sword (in much the same style as ISIS, not coincidentally).</p> <p>The regime has executed dozens in a single day, such as the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and more than 40 peaceful protesters on a January afternoon in 2016. At this moment, several activists are in prison, awaiting trial on capital charges for seeking to advance women's or minority Shiite rights.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 17, 2018</p> 4dd07f99a49d39f3af157829cba43d5a The Taint on Kavanaugh Keeps Growing for 10/04/2018 Thu, 04 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>By delaying a vote on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, pending a "supplemental FBI investigation" of his background, Senate leaders hoped a quick show of bipartisan cooperation would soothe growing public concern about both process and nominee. But that hurried investigation is unlikely to inspire confidence.</p> <p>Instead it will guarantee lingering questions, whether Kavanaugh is ultimately confirmed or not.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 04, 2018</p> 8578a1eeecac14afd7b86cf330d8fe4c Plot to Deceive Senate Must Be Probed for 09/26/2018 Wed, 26 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>While the Senate Judiciary Committee ponders disputed allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, its members must also contend with the indisputable fact that Kavanaugh's advocates attempted to perpetrate a massive deception on his behalf. Of all the bizarre aspects of this process, that may be the most sinister.</p> <p>Confirm him or not, Congress needs to investigate the origins of that scheme. They will have to consider the likelihood that Kavanaugh himself may have been implicated in that fraud, which attempted to frame a man who attended his old high school, Georgetown Prep, for an alleged assault on Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford circa 1983, and asserted that the nominee is a victim of "mistaken identity."<p>Updated: Wed Sep 26, 2018</p> ee1b0d8f046d80343567912ac936f172 Kavanaugh Charade Is Coming Apart for 09/19/2018 Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Facing a public relations debacle, Senate Republicans have come up with a surefire compromise to win confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: Instead of simply dismissing the sexual assault accusation lodged against their nominee, they will pretend to investigate &#8212; and only then rubber-stamp him.</p> <p>Won't both sides be served by taking sworn testimony from the nominee and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, about his alleged attack on her in high school? The public hearings announced by the Senate Judiciary Committee for next Monday will feature "he said" and "she said" and nothing more. What could be fairer?<p>Updated: Wed Sep 19, 2018</p> 5ec5727291a37ba880e965ddb62009df You're No Bob Mueller, Judge Starr for 09/12/2018 Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In hawking his new memoir, Kenneth Starr displays all the dignity, fairness and proportion that characterized his pursuit of Bill Clinton's impeachment two decades ago.</p> <p>Which is to say not much.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 12, 2018</p> a312de21eb3a14de7487aa9fb11bab16 How Trump Will Rig His Own Case for 09/05/2018 Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Nothing that Brett Kavanaugh said on his first day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings relieves the most profound suspicion: that President Donald Trump nominated him to front a legalistic coup against the rule of law.</p> <p>Of course, he uttered all the expected platitudes. "I am a pro-law judge," he promised, nonpartisan and neutral, "committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States." But the circumstances of his selection as well as his own previous history and statements offer no reassurance. Neither does the Republican Senate leadership's effort to ram through this confirmation with haste and secrecy.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 05, 2018</p> 1543d00c2f7c87d5640be0a8de9e2a95 A Nation Without Real News for 08/29/2018 Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Whenever the president complains about "Fake News," always capitalized and often punctuated with exclamation points, rest assured that he doesn't mean the actual sources of fraudulent information that infest the internet and haunt American politics. No, Donald Trump's definition of "fake" has nothing to do with factuality or responsibility in media. It merely means news he doesn't like, usually truthful reporting about him, his family, his administration or his cronies produced by credible newspapers and broadcasters.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">It's easy to dismiss these outbursts as simply more of the daily spew of falsehoods on his Twitter feed. And it's comforting to pretend that they don't matter. But Trump's conscious campaign to discredit honest journalism is dangerous to our democratic culture. </span>Does that sound lofty and academic? It isn't. The denigration of real reporting and the elevation of fraudulent conspiracies have real consequences in the everyday life of Americans.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 29, 2018</p> b4599c884c3c3556b4b303023a7d5d44 The End Is Coming, Mob Style for 08/22/2018 Wed, 22 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"Lock her up!"</p> <p>Roared at the Republican National Convention and every Donald Trump rally up to the present day, that ferocious chant now has a distinctly ironic ring. Several presidential henchmen who encouraged that ugly smear of Hillary Clinton &#8212; still innocent and still free &#8212; are on their way to prison. And there is reason to believe that they will not be the last of the president's associates, possibly including his kin, to end up behind bars.</p> <p>According to a jury of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's peers, Manafort is guilty on eight felony counts. Former Trump deputy campaign manager Rick Gates copped a plea and testified against Manafort, but he's going to jail, too. Michael Flynn, who advised the Trump campaign and then served very briefly as national security adviser in the White House, likewise pled guilty and will do time. (He led that nasty chant at the convention, a moment that will be replayed forever as his most memorable act.) And now Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and consigliere, has entered a plea agreement on eight violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 22, 2018</p>