Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 22 Nov 2019 09:26:53 -0800 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 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> 20fe49b366d9f02c5ccfb1366eb16106 No, Mr. President, Not Both Sides for 08/08/2019 Thu, 08 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>After the massacres in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, we watched Donald Trump, the president who spends most of his time on social media to divide and polarize America, speak up for national unity and an end to "destructive partisanship." From the White House he issued a statement condemning white supremacy and bigotry as "evil." And even if his voice droned as he read the teleprompter, people wanted to believe he meant what he said.</p> <p>He could hardly wait to tear off that mask. Within two days, he showed us again how unsuited he is in character and temperament to be president.</p> <p>Nobody should have expected Trump to take responsibility for his own role in encouraging the reactionary terror that is sweeping across the country, leaving behind bullet-riddled bodies and mourning cities. Taking responsibility isn't what Trump does. Instead, he followed his predictable pattern of defense by distraction. He wants us to focus on anything except the climate of fear and rancor he has conjured for the past four years, first as candidate and now as president.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 08, 2019</p> d6ed7f8165d266078e9fe6bc5ea84896 Democrats, Get Out of Your Own Way for 07/25/2019 Thu, 25 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Robert Mueller's testimony disappointed anyone seeking drama, but his performance isn't the problem. What keeps congressional Democrats from fulfilling their constitutional duty to confront a lawless president is their own political inertia.</p> <p>In his own careful and stolid way, Mueller laid out the facts and arguments provided in his 448-page report (although he evidently hasn't yet memorized each page, to the satisfaction of his detractors). Within the opening minutes of the hearing, Mueller's answers to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler established that his report did not "exculpate" President Trump in any way; that in at least 10 instances, Trump attempted to stop the investigation by ordering Mueller's dismissal and discouraging witnesses from testifying; and that Trump refused to sit for an interview with Mueller or even answer questions about those many instances of alleged obstruction. </p> <p>Those complaining that Mueller didn't make any "news" on Wednesday might look again at this exchange between him and Nadler, when he verbally rebutted Trump for the first time in public:<p>Updated: Thu Jul 25, 2019</p> a75671adb1e1ac6cc4408425fbb9a7fb Who Hates America? for 07/18/2019 Thu, 18 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Nobody expects Donald Trump to speak the truth about himself or his opponents anymore. To support him requires a suspension of disbelief that is impressive in a misbegotten way.</p> <p>So when the president of the United States tells four duly elected members of Congress to go back to where they came from, an old trope of bigotry that everybody understands, the politicians who support him pretend that he was saying something else. Even his rank-and-file backers know how to play dumb &#8212; like the gentleman who told NPR that Trump was merely telling Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley to "go back to their home states." Sorry, but nobody is really that stupid, although Trump and his minions treat us all as if we are.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 18, 2019</p> 75bd1e822bf475fd75663a04f30a9ca2 How Did Jeffrey Epstein Escape Justice? for 07/11/2019 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The case of super-rich sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is so disturbing, not only because dozens of women say he victimized them as young girls, and not only because he went almost unpunished, but because his wealth appears to have enabled his criminality for years. While the sources of Epstein's enormous fortune remain mysterious and may never be fully revealed, it is vital that we learn how he eluded justice until now.</p> <p>The answer may not lie among the prominent politicians, businessmen, scientists and entertainment figures once cultivated by Epstein. Names like Donald Trump and Bill Clinton always make titillating copy, especially in this sordid tale, and it isn't surprising that coverage has focused on the two presidents. Perhaps seeking to deflect attention from Trump, Trump's henchmen, such as political consultant Roger Stone (now under indictment) and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker (who narrowly escaped indictment), have long tried to use Epstein to smear Clinton. And they have succeeded in spreading urban legends about Clinton and Epstein that bear little resemblance to the known facts.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 11, 2019</p> 2f33ef3195b8e26776bbc39f8f08c553 The Opposite of Patriotism for 07/03/2019 Wed, 03 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Vindication is not always a happy feeling, not when the nation is at such grave risk.</p> <p>In years past, I've often devoted my Fourth of July column to observing that the right has no monopoly on patriotism. The Tories of the Revolutionary era, who demanded loyalty to the British throne, were the right-wing reactionaries of their time, as were the Confederates who sought to destroy the Union in defense of chattel slavery, as were the America First-ers who advanced the interests of Nazi Germany against the security of the United States. I wrote those columns in memory of my father: a son of immigrants, a World War II military veteran, a small-business owner and a passionate liberal.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 03, 2019</p> 9d7f827515973176fee6933c6949ef07 Crimes Against Humanity on the Border for 06/27/2019 Thu, 27 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There may come a time when top officials of the Trump administration, including the president himself, will no longer be able to travel abroad without fear of arrest by international authorities. Every day now, evidence accumulates that Trump and his appointees are perpetrating crimes against humanity on the southern border.</p> <p>Even Trump's conscience seems to have been shocked, momentarily, by the wrenching news video of a father and his little daughter drowned in the Rio Grande last Sunday. Or so he wants us to believe. The images of Oscar Alberto Martinez holding his 23-month-old Angie Valeria, their bodies face down in the river, forced the nation's attention to the terrible effects of his administration's crackdown. Driven away from safer ports of entry, those innocents perished as the father tried to save his child at a dangerous crossing point. <p>Updated: Thu Jun 27, 2019</p> 38a69e0bf4241972cf613a43cf3a35aa We've Seen This Bad Movie for 06/19/2019 Wed, 19 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Of all the bad days and weeks in Donald Trump's presidency, the present moment may be the most dangerous. His provocative decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose new sanctions on the country is predictably heading toward military conflict in the Persian Gulf &#8212; which may well be disastrous for the world. Even Trump seems to be hesitating as his belligerent advisers press forward.</p> <p>It is a dangerous time for reasons that we all know too well by now. This president is easily manipulated and uninterested in facts. He is emotionally volatile and possibly unbalanced. Despite his blustery claims, he must know that polls show him losing the next election. And as that election looms, the economy is slowing &#8212; and if it slows enough, he will forfeit the only argument for re-electing him.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 20, 2019</p>