Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:52:00 -0800 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 16d0a20191d12c2bc079b1773db9ba6b A Fair and Balanced Impeachment for 01/16/2020 Thu, 16 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>When Mitch McConnell declares that the impeachment of President Donald Trump should follow the same rules and procedures as the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, that must sound reasonable to many Americans. As the Senate majority leader puts it in his folksiest voice, "Fair is fair."</p> <p>Leave aside the fact that McConnell &#8212; who swore an oath on Thursday before Chief Justice John Roberts to do "impartial justice" in that trial &#8212; has already told us that he isn't an impartial juror. Let's also try to forget for the moment that he regularly bends his own supposed principles and practices for partisan advantage.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 16, 2020</p> 0746d0395591705501f75f8532498fd9 The Danger of a Chaos Presidency for 01/09/2020 Thu, 09 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>What President Donald Trump said to the nation about the prospect of war with Iran impressed many listeners far less than the way he said it &#8212; or slurred it. Unlike the manipulated video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made her appear drunk, Trump delivered a live speech that made him sound impaired.</p> <p>The president's sputtering crystallized the danger of this perilous confrontation. Over the tense days that followed the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the nation's commander in chief showed that he knows almost nothing, reacts impulsively to events and cannot decide whether he is an isolationist or an imperialist. Such enormous power in the hands of this incompetent, incontinent figure is frightening. And even the Republican politicians who routinely tolerate and even praise his worst offenses seemed to feel the fear.</p> <p>Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who complained loudly about the "insane" White House briefing on Iran attended by him and his Senate colleagues, is one of the most right-wing members of that deliberative body. Angry and shaken, Lee clearly believes that this president is in need of congressional restraint. For him and the Democrats who passed a war powers resolution seeking to restrain Trump, the daily chaos of his presidency now seems to be a prelude to catastrophe.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 09, 2020</p> e3659ba3960ca7103624c82942ba477f Politics in the Spirit for 12/26/2019 Thu, 26 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The spirit of goodwill can take us by surprise this season, without respect to religion (or even politics). And while such a moment may not quite become an epiphany, it can still make us think again about our lives and times. Which is what happened to me over the weekend before Christmas.</p> <p>Visiting the nation's capital, as we do every year at this time, I was invited by friends to attend a holiday party hosted by an eminent conservative writer &#8212; someone I knew only as a political opponent of long standing. Our last encounter, on a radio show before the 2016 election, had not concluded on friendly terms, at least in my recollection. I held a caricature of him in my mind and assumed he would feel similarly toward me &#8212; notwithstanding the fact that during the intervening years, he had turned against the Donald Trump-dominated Republican Party and its reprehensible leader.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 26, 2019</p> 7e041932fc2dce8cf27940aba13e8d71 Will Republicans Risk a Rigged Trial? for 12/19/2019 Thu, 19 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>When President Donald Trump's defenders aren't simply lying about the House impeachment inquiry &#8212; it all happened in a Capitol Hill basement with no Republicans present, as one of his lawyers told National Public Radio &#8212; they complain about the lack of firsthand witnesses to presidential abuse. They assume nobody will notice that Trump himself forbid any testimony by those with the most direct knowledge of his attempts to extort Ukraine.</p> <p>For some reason, his defenders don't regard his silencing of potential witnesses as an admission of presidential guilt. Instead, they eagerly join him in presenting the nation with an insoluble dilemma: Impeachment can't be considered serious or fair without direct fact witnesses &#8212; and there can be no direct fact witnesses because the president has every right to squelch them. <p>Updated: Thu Dec 19, 2019</p> 3bf8ad576f52e7bc1871b10e7ba50c93 The Inspector General Brings the Truth for 12/12/2019 Thu, 12 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Whenever President Donald Trump is caught doing wrong, he answers with categorical denial and a fervent claim that he was wronged. Almost since the day he won election in November 2016, that is how Trump and his minions in politics and media have sought to obscure the glaring and indecent fact that he was sponsored by a Russian dictator who remains deeply hostile to our country.</p> <p>So we have a president who gaslights his benighted followers with every variety of fable, myth and slander designed to distract from the ugly truth.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 12, 2019</p> e94fff31b96b6a80cfd3f58d4da10de1 Conspiracies, Imaginary and Real for 12/05/2019 Thu, 05 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Nobody on Capitol Hill rants more fervently about imaginary conspiracies than Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and devoted congressional promoter of Trumpian nonsense. For years, Nunes has regaled America with ideological tall tales, from former President Barack Obama's mythical "spying" on Donald Trump to Ukraine's fictitious hacking of the Democratic Party.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">It's all "fake news," designed to distract voters from the real impeachable offenses of this president and his minions.</span> And much of it emanates from the same Kremlin entities that actually intervene in our domestic politics.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 05, 2019</p> 1440a4ce971bf94b89ac9e6d67513e4b Why We're Still Thankful for 11/28/2019 Thu, 28 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Americans can be excused for feeling something less than thankful for the ongoing depredations of Washington's ruling regime. Every day for more than three years, we have awakened to the nightmare of a president and his entourage gnawing away at constitutional government like demented termites, seemingly determined to advance the objectives of foreign adversaries and keen to divide us from one another. Every day we see how the rot that this president represents has ruined not just the White House and his administration but the Republican Party, whose leading figures have fully capitulated to his fantastic lies, his corrupt betrayals and his criminal misconduct. And every day, he damages our prestige and our prospects.</p> <p>We will be profoundly thankful when all that finally ends, with the same sense of relief that led three of our greatest presidents &#8212; George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt &#8212; to proclaim and renew Thanksgiving as a national holiday.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 28, 2019</p> 987182ae7ce673006fa8a433c1f887ff The Witnesses We Still Need to Hear for 11/21/2019 Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Accumulating evidence of impeachable offenses by President Donald J. Trump, based on available documents and witness testimony, is overwhelming. It began with the July 25 "transcript" he urged us all to read in which he responds to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's entreaty for more military assistance by asking for those two "favors." Officials described under oath how, under orders from Trump, they were required to pressure the Ukraine government into announcing "investigations" of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, and the Democratic National Committee, which did not have to be genuine. And it may yet extend beyond the damning revelations delivered during the past several days before the House Intelligence Committee.</p> <p>That many Republicans &#8212; in and out of Congress &#8212; continue to insist that Trump did nothing wrong, or at least that nothing wrong has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, or that some of the testimony about Trump's actions is "hearsay" should surprise nobody. While they accuse Democrats of pursuing a predetermined objective to impeach this president, the reality is precisely the opposite. Quite typically, their accusation would more accurately be directed at them, since it has been clear all along that they will ignore, discount or simply lie about anything that indicates Trump's guilty malfeasance. That much has been obvious ever since Republican congressional leaders looked at the July 25 transcript and declared they saw no quid pro quo.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 21, 2019</p> ffdad6d483855847855e766a18f31610 No, Everybody Doesn't Abuse the Presidency for 11/15/2019 Fri, 15 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The testimonies of State Department official George Kent and acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor confirmed the elements of the Ukraine scandal that have led to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, specifically that the president and his associates, especially Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, sought to instigate and publicize a phony "investigation" of Joe Biden by withholding military aid from Ukraine. </p> <p>None of the chaff thrown up by the Republicans during those hearings effectively contradicted the narrative outlining this abuse of power. Sooner or later, as the hearings continue, the majority of Americans will understand fully what Trump did and why his misconduct was so dangerous.<p>Updated: Fri Nov 15, 2019</p> 653e65d5e07fc9f249cc9e1c948e881f Is He Their President or Ours? for 11/07/2019 Thu, 07 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Instead of watching Fox News, which manufactures heroic propaganda about President Donald Trump, Republican voters could learn much more from seeing a few hours of Russian television. It is on shows broadcast from Moscow and St. Petersburg where the truth about the Trump administration can be heard.</p> <p>The message is emphatically not "Make America Great Again."<p>Updated: Thu Nov 07, 2019</p> 281bf4e703ae1420c55a14b6a5d6733b Now Republicans Hate the Rules They Made for 10/24/2019 Thu, 24 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Congressional Republicans don't want to debate President Donald Trump's attempt to extort political prosecutions of Americans from Ukraine &#8212; and given the damning facts emerging every day, their reluctance is understandable, if not honorable. But whining about the process of the impeachment inquiry is only bringing them and their party into deeper disrepute.</p> <p>Consider the ill-advised and possibly illegal invasion of a secure room in the Capitol on Oct. 23, when a gang of House Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., delayed the closed testimony of Pentagon official Laura Cooper. Brandishing cellphones and carrying on like the drunken frat boys they once were, Gaetz and his cronies then held a pizza party &#8212; and, after a few hours, departed. The hearing went on without them.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 24, 2019</p> 57451dec9fe75d536ef6ab417b150152 Trump's New Mouthpiece for 10/10/2019 Thu, 10 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On the same day the White House plunged the nation into a constitutional crisis by refusing to provide witnesses or documents to House Democrats conducting an impeachment inquiry, word leaked of a new member on the Trump legal defense team. Engaged to serve as "outside counsel" is former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, best known for his endless pursuit of the Benghazi investigation when he chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">What could be the purpose of an "outside counsel" for this president who defies the law at every step?</span> Another description might be "TV lawyer." Fox News has employed Gowdy ever since he decided to retire from Congress &#8212; and Trump, who spends most of his time watching the regime channel, must have watched him rehearse the White House talking points there. (That Gowdy may be the only person in America with odder-looking hair than Trump could also be a factor.)<p>Updated: Thu Oct 10, 2019</p> c63c33702f70aa0c0ec49fb3da4356af Smearing Joe Biden, 2016 Style for 10/03/2019 Thu, 03 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Not only is Joe Biden innocent of any wrongdoing in Ukraine &#8212; as almost every legitimate news organization now acknowledges &#8212; but his actions concerning his son's business interests there were precisely the opposite of the smears launched against him by the Trump campaign. That truth won't change, no matter how many times President Trump and Rudy Giuliani repeat falsehoods about the former vice president.</p> <p>Although the Ukraine scandal blew up quite suddenly, the effort to taint Biden's character with a barrage of lies wasn't hatched overnight. It closely resembles the publicity blitz that soiled Hillary Clinton's reputation before the 2016 election &#8212; a costly and carefully planned enterprise overseen by Steve Bannon during the year before he officially joined the Trump campaign. The question is what, if anything, the nation's editors and producers learned from their 2016 misadventure.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 03, 2019</p> 054fbbc2a874b3ac0f2fd039260b2246 The Voice of a Gangster for 09/26/2019 Thu, 26 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>To anyone familiar with the life and times of Donald Trump, there was nothing surprising in the tone of his July 25 conversation with the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump spoke in the oblique yet perfectly clear language of a Mafia don who knows what he wants and how to enforce his will. </p> <p>The dialogue between the two presidents, as seen in a transcript released this week, sounds like a scene from 'The Godfather" or a wiretap of the office of Trump's late attorney Roy M. Cohn, who represented the infamous mob bosses Carmine Galante, Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and John Gotti. (For details, see the excellent new film "Where's My Roy Cohn?" whose title is a Trump quote.)<p>Updated: Thu Sep 26, 2019</p> b76b637bb14b77ecdd167280e871ab94 How to Run an Impeachment Inquiry for 09/18/2019 Wed, 18 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Americans have good reason to suspect Donald Trump of committing various and serious crimes, but they have no immediate means to hold him accountable. Rising frustration over this malefactor's impunity was only exacerbated by the latest House Judiciary Committee hearings, which featured two empty chairs and an insolent, prevaricating witness named Corey Lewandowski.</p> <p>When those hearings ended after six tendentious hours, the public judgment on Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee chairman, and his members was harsh. Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, simply refused to answer questions even though he had no legal right to do so, and he ought to have immediately been held in contempt. Republicans on the committee mocked and interrupted the hearing, acting openly as stooges for the White House.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 18, 2019</p> dfc63682bc735ce4c310d0b5a6cd433d Giuliani Unmasked for 09/11/2019 Wed, 11 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Eighteen years ago, on a terrible day every American then living remembers too well, Rudolph Giuliani earned respect for his calm, inspiring and unifying leadership of a wounded New York City. Too much has happened since then to feel anything but disappointment in him, but on this year's 9/11 anniversary, the man once known as "America's Mayor" descended to a new and ominous low.</p> <p>Mimicking the crude style of his client Donald Trump, Giuliani tweeted an angry video that purports to show a noble police officer arming for battle against a crowd of screaming, flag-burning protesters. Originally filmed as an advertisement for a right-wing T-shirt company, this clip was designed to incite fury against "leftists," a term of abuse that evidently defines anyone who is not a Trump Republican. <p>Updated: Wed Sep 11, 2019</p> 8227a03f3d7ddb22a6dd71c26defe512 Is Trump Playing With a Full Deck? for 09/04/2019 Wed, 04 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Over the past few weeks, Donald Trump has previewed his campaign against Joe Biden, still apparently the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020. "Joe isn't playing with a full deck of cards," barked Trump with his usual grace and originality, after the former vice president said something awkward about "poor kids" and "white kids."</span><br></p> <p>The good-humored Biden has never hesitated to admit that he can be a "gaffe machine." But whatever you think of him, there is nobody in America with less standing than Trump to question Biden's cognitive capacity. It's just too easy to find the incoherent speeches, scraps of word salad and outbursts of embarrassing gibberish that have emanated continuously from Trump's mouth since his presidency began. Throw a dart at the calendar and look up what he said that day. You will be astonished and appalled.<p>Updated: Fri Sep 06, 2019</p> 402777d9d96fdc58d1bfd03f7d6372f2 Bring Brazil's Bolsonaro To Heel for 08/28/2019 Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The most predictable thing about authoritarian government is that it will eventually exceed our worst expectations. With Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right president of Brazil, we didn't have to wait long. Not only has the Brazilian president failed to protect the Amazon rainforest but he also seems madly determined to destroy that most vital planetary resource.</p> <p>The only pertinent question now is what the rest of us will do about his ongoing depredations &#8212; and about him.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 28, 2019</p> a6df6c6b34f44b37b2c9f7890926e4b1 A Clear and Present Danger for 08/21/2019 Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Whenever Donald Trump says or tweets a remark that embarrasses our country before the world, conventional analysis suggests that it is yet another consequence of his infantile narcissism. So we were told again when the president of the United States insulted Denmark, one of the founding nations of NATO and a dedicated American ally, by canceling his scheduled trip to meet with the Danish prime minister &#8212; supposedly because she had deemed his scheme to buy Greenland "absurd," which, of course, it is.</p> <p>He originally requested to visit Denmark, which made his abrupt, petulant cancelation all the more insulting to the Danes. The usual anonymous sources explained that he had other reasons to break the date, such as his aversion to flying overseas and his aversion to Barack Obama, who is also scheduled to visit Denmark next month.</p> <p>When Trump appears to lose control &#8212; and follows up by suggesting that he is "the chosen one" or "the King of Israel" &#8212; it seems natural to worry that he is mentally ill. That is one way to interpret his behavior.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 21, 2019</p> 4ce3cb2363844f1887e6187dc1c84fd0 Why Trump Tweeted a Conspiracy Smear for 08/14/2019 Wed, 14 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When Donald Trump retweeted a malicious fantasy about the apparent suicide of imprisoned pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, he wasn't merely entertaining his deluded fans. Trump's conspiratorial canard &#8212; with attendant promotion by Russian bots, American alt-rightists and far-right media &#8212; was plainly designed to deflect attention from his own embarrassing associations with Epstein.</p> <p>For him to insinuate the Clintons are responsible for Epstein's demise was brazenly absurd. Were Bill and Hillary supposed to have sent a team of ninjas to lower Manhattan? In reality, the dead financier was an inmate of the Metropolitan Corrections Center, a facility overseen by Trump's Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr. And while an outraged Barr shifts responsibility down the chain, he is the nation's top law enforcement official, with the means to prevent the suicide of the most notorious prisoner in federal custody.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 14, 2019</p>