Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sun, 22 Apr 2018 22:03:08 -0700 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 857b4e97b54b1c0f9f9d32286624ad0e A Few Hard Questions for Comey for 04/18/2018 Wed, 18 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>For months, the White House has insistently whined that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is persecuting the president. Echoed by right-wing propaganda media, that theme is now amplified in Donald Trump's tweeted blasts at former FBI director James Comey, whom he vilifies as a "liar and leaker."</p> <p>To anyone who remembers the final days of the presidential election, Trump's paranoid claims have always seemed ludicrous. If the bureau appeared to be tilted, it was firmly in his direction, especially in its handling of the criminal investigations of him and Hillary Clinton.</p> <p>Now Comey's media tour promoting his new book, "A Higher Loyalty," offers an opportunity to debunk such mythologizing &#8212; and to ask a few unanswered questions about the bureau's perverse role in that election.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 18, 2018</p> b801cbae21375a11fcd34e2ddfd32801 Don't Let Trump Betray Veterans for 04/02/2018 Mon, 02 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Whenever Donald Trump fires a member of his administration, the least likely reason is incompetence, corruption, abuse of authority or wasteful extravagance. If those were causes for dismissal in the Trump administration, nearly his entire cabinet would have been replaced by now. That tweet signaling the removal of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin &#8212; an Obama administration holdover widely regarded as one of the few able appointees in the cabinet &#8212; wasn't provoked by any such offense.</p> <p>The real trouble with Shulkin, as he informed the country on his way out, was his determination to stand up against a scheme fronted by the billionaire Koch brothers to "privatize" the VA health system, a $200 billion public enterprise that currently serves the needs of nine million veterans. Even worse, Shulkin achieved enough success in providing and improving care to win the approval of 70 percent of the nation's former service members.</p> <p>If you ask veterans whether the VA should be privatized, the answer is overwhelmingly no. And if you survey the nation's many veterans' organizations, the response is unanimously negative as well, with the single exception of an outfit called "Concerned Veterans of America" &#8212; which is financed by the Koch brothers' political network. <p>Updated: Mon Apr 02, 2018</p> 7cb846280bd487e795a19c7d7b23bb53 On Russia, GOP Probers Looked the Other Way for 03/19/2018 Mon, 19 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Like crooked cops protecting a mafia don, the House Intelligence Committee looked the other way last week when drafting its closing report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Denying the obvious &#8212; and the shared assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies &#8212; the committee's Republican majority insisted that the Russians weren't truly seeking to elect Donald Trump, and actually may have meant to promote his opponent, Hillary Clinton. The committee also ignored the mounting indications of connivance between the Trump campaign and various Kremlin-connected entities, echoing the president's "NO COLLUSION" denials.</p> <p>It wasn't the best moment to sell such pablum to the public. Within the past several days, we have learned that Trump campaign consultants at Cambridge Analytica illegally obtained data from 50 million Facebook accounts that were used for "psychographic" voter manipulation. Overseen by former Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon, Cambridge Analytica is the same outfit that reached out to WikiLeaks to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails </p> <p>Even before the committee's minority Democrats could issue a full response, the laughter that greeted the official whitewash left its authors embarrassed enough to try walking back their most ridiculous claims. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), the deputy chair, insisted that they hadn't meant to exonerate the Trump campaign of collusion, but had merely failed to find any evidence beyond signs of "bad judgment." <p>Updated: Mon Mar 19, 2018</p> ece51125827f3b3aad28f532246d4bab The Dangers Of Diplomacy, Trump-Style for 03/13/2018 Tue, 13 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>This planet just became a more perilous place to live.</p> <p>It may not have seemed so last week, when Donald Trump agreed to meet Kim Jong Un for negotiations over North Korea's nuclear arsenal. Trump's abrupt diplomatic offer was certainly an improvement on his jeering, boasting and threatening on Twitter &#8212; even if he doesn't understand that he gave away exactly what the dictator wanted most, without getting anything in return. The prospect of talks is almost always preferable to the possibility of war, which is why previous presidents consistently sought ways to engage the hereditary despots in Pyongyang.<p>Updated: Tue Mar 13, 2018</p> 921d18ad91ddbfb2d07a5cf319001880 In Cuba, Trump's Hostility Serves Kremlin for 02/23/2018 Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>HAVANA &#8212; The presidency of Donald Trump is teaching millions of Cubans &#8212; along with people around the world &#8212; to see the United States as a symbol of disappointment rather than hope. Within a few months, his abusive attitude toward Cuba has nearly reversed the diplomatic, cultural and humanitarian opening initiated by his predecessor.</p> <p>Trump's angry and unthinking policy represents in microcosm his generally malignant impact on American interests abroad. And it is yet another occasion when his actions have clearly advanced the fortunes of a hostile foreign power. <p>Updated: Fri Feb 23, 2018</p> 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>