Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:51:25 -0700 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 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> 0718d9d510f2253c5f7e2c27e5a5e4d8 A Devastating Message for Democrats for 08/16/2018 Thu, 16 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>While commentators chastise congressional Democrats for lacking a cogent message for midterm voters, does the opposition really need to say much more than "to hell with Trump"? If so, they can start hammering a theme that will unite the party base, attract wavering supporters and blister the hide off this president for a monumental broken promise. </p> <p>The killer issue is perfectly obvious: infrastructure.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 16, 2018</p> b680b908b29fcfb20edad283f28be8c0 Is 'Q' the Greatest Hoax of All Time? for 08/08/2018 Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The political movement swirling around President Donald Trump &#8212; formerly known as the Republican Party &#8212; displays certain unique features but is really just the latest noxious excrescence of the American right. Like so many of its predecessors, the Trump movement is built on fear. And like every movement motivated by paranoia, its followers are mentally vulnerable to the most idiotic conspiracy theories.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, since everything about Trump is always the "biggest" and the "best," his fans are flocking to a truly enormous and enormously deluded conspiracy known as QAnon, or simply, "Q."<p>Updated: Wed Aug 08, 2018</p> ff15dbd25670c5292a90df76e1e68619 Is It Treason Yet? for 08/02/2018 Thu, 02 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Would anyone still be shocked to learn that most Republicans are untroubled by the Kremlin's efforts to manipulate our politics? The appalling truth is that millions of Republicans &#8212; more than 10 percent, according to a new survey by Yahoo Finance/Survey Monkey &#8212; would actually approve of Russian interference in the midterm elections. And nearly 30 percent say they wouldn't really object to such an intervention, presumably so long as the Russians remain supportive of Trump and the Republican Party.</p> <p>Given the decades of continuing enmity between the Russian Federation and the United States, not to mention the illegal nature of foreign meddling in our elections, these sentiments are tantamount to treason. That label would certainly be applied to Democrats instantly if they were to ever express such tolerant attitudes toward an attempted political coup by a hostile power. But Republicans, both in the Party leadership and the Trump-inflected "base," seem increasingly receptive to a Kremlin takeover.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 02, 2018</p> dc1f0f8ca86384d373a462052016ea95 Tough Questions for Trump's Newest Hire for 07/25/2018 Wed, 25 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When Bill Shine took over as White House communications director during the July 4 holiday, the former Fox News co-president seemed to have dodged the obvious questions that loomed over his appointment.</p> <p>How could a United States president credibly accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by dozens of women elevate a man who was forced to resign from Fox because of his own highly dubious role in enabling and covering up the cable network's "toxic culture" of harassment? Why would a president already mocked as a credulous and habitual viewer of Fox's nonsense broadcasts choose an executive responsible for creating that daily stream of "fake news"?<p>Updated: Wed Jul 25, 2018</p> 879e6c54ce4719b69ceb9bfd297d11df They Swore an Oath to Defend This Country for 07/18/2018 Wed, 18 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump's performance in Helsinki was certainly historic. On no other occasion since the founding of this country has an American president publicly demonstrated that he is a witting agent of a hostile foreign power &#8212; even as that country's authoritarian ruler smirked beside him.</p> <p>Standing at the podium with Vladimir Putin, Trump brazenly endorsed the Russian president's denial of Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election. Only three days after his own appointees in the Justice Department announced charges against a dozen Russian agents, ratifying the long-held conclusions of U.S. agencies, he told the assembled world media that he considered Putin's word as good as the counsel of his own intelligence chiefs.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 18, 2018</p> f4eb83e434c4c3d0c0d19c44489fc5e1 Will Kavanaugh Make Trump a Monarch? for 07/11/2018 Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>To Donald Trump, the qualifications of any individual for a seat on the nation's highest court are meaningless. He knows nothing of judicial decisions except Roe v. Wade, the reproductive rights precedent that his supporters want overturned. He has no idea how to assess any judge, beyond his own superficial impressions. He could scarcely care less what any potential nominee may think about the law &#8212; with one important exception.</p> <p>That exception brought us Brett Kavanaugh, winner of Trump's Supreme Court sweepstakes, and an advocate of executive immunity from precisely the kind of investigations and lawsuits that now threaten this president.</p> <p>Naturally, Kavanaugh displays all the right (and far-right) credentials, including a Yale law degree, a career dedication to the Federalist Society, and a lifetime of activism in the Republican Party, as well as a current position on the prestigious Second Circuit Court of Appeals. As Democratic senators warn, he can be expected to vote consistently to please his party's major donors on everything from health care to voting rights. He probably hasn't changed his mind on any public issue since college.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 11, 2018</p> 0595519bdbc43aba7193946eccccfe0b On July 4, a Message for Patriots for 07/04/2018 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Americans will mark this Independence Day with family, food and fireworks as we always do &#8212; and yet for many of us, these celebrations now occur under a shadow of doubt. Not doubt about the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but the officials sworn to uphold them in Washington, starting with Donald J. Trump.</p> <p>The most recent Gallup poll reveals a record decline in the number of fellow citizens who say they feel proud of our country, a dispiriting statistic that can only be attributed to the inimical performance of Trump as he dismantles our traditions, violates our laws, disdains our customs, divides us from each other and our allies, and shames us before the world.</p> <p>Trump's ignorance of constitutional principles is so glaring that former judge Andrew Napolitano, the very conservative senior legal analyst on Fox News, has denounced his authoritarian thrust. His government of kleptocrats and nepotistic appointments more closely resembles a corrupt 18th-century court than a modern democratic government. His foreign policy, destructive of American principles, alliances and prestige, often appears to serve the interests of a hostile foreign power rather than our own.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 05, 2018</p> ad0a9799518aeffb94c4d57169846f25 The Racism Isn't Surprising Anymore for 06/26/2018 Tue, 26 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Can we stop pretending to be shocked when a member of the Trump administration &#8212; or one of its prominent supporters &#8212; emits a squib of stinking racism?</p> <p>In the latest episode, which should have surprised exactly nobody, former Donald Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie shouted at an African-American guest on a Fox News show: "You're out of your cotton-pickin' mind." The guest naturally took exception, noting that his family members had picked cotton as slaves. Fox News officially scolded Bossie, an employee of the network, and he tweeted a dutiful apology.<p>Updated: Tue Jun 26, 2018</p> a1eb43e7b67e6d8af38f844f0288dc60 Trump's Big Lies About the FBI for 05/22/2018 Tue, 22 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Arguing with Donald Trump and the president's most fervent supporters is usually a wasted effort. If they truly believe his paranoid whining about "the deep state conspiracy" to oust him, they're not much interested in facts or logic.</p> <p>Trump's increasing efforts to promote confusion over the origins and conduct of the Russia investigation nevertheless deserve to be refuted. So do his repeated complaints that he is the victim of a political scandal even worse than Watergate.<p>Updated: Tue May 22, 2018</p> 5aa258b8d2971cf4b80f7f2aff20b3d7 Once Again, Trump Diplomacy Serves Kremlin Interests for 05/09/2018 Wed, 09 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The likelihood that Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal for principled or pragmatic reasons seems vanishingly small, since he probably knows very little about the agreement. His own defense secretary, who understands the deal very well, advised him that it continues to serve our national security interests. Most observers suspect Trump was merely acting out his neurotic anger against its American author and his predecessor, Barack Obama.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">However petty Trump's motivation may be, the grave consequences of his action are clear. </span>By breaking an agreement so recently signed by the United States, he will further diminish American credibility on the international stage. By rejecting the entreaties of our European allies &#8212; and threatening sanctions against European companies &#8212; he will further strain those vital relationships. And by violating the terms of a disarmament plan negotiated with a rogue state, he will weaken any nuclear deal he may eventually reach with the North Korean regime.<p>Updated: Wed May 09, 2018</p> 1f2404697114557abe7c1bed1e3ecc9f No, Mr. President, the Roast Must Go On for 04/30/2018 Mon, 30 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Only Donald Trump could manage to justify the continued existence of the White House Correspondents Association dinner, a springtime ritual of journalistic self-indulgence that might just as well have ended years ago. By declaring the dinner "DEAD" &#8212; after yet another humiliating comic takedown of him and his enablers &#8212; the president is testing his authoritarian impulse against American traditions of unfettered and even offensive speech.</p> <p>For Trump to achieve such a victory over those who dare to mock him would inflict real and permanent damage on cultural freedom in this country.</p> <p>With typical subtlety, his tweets revealed the enraged ego driving his demand to abolish the WHCA dinner. On Saturday night, as the event was ending, he jotted a telltale reference to a moment that left him stewing for seven years:<p>Updated: Mon Apr 30, 2018</p> 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>