Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 12 Dec 2018 11:01:20 -0800 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 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> 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>