The Final Countdown – 4/23/24 – Flames of Dissent: Campus Unrest Amid Gaza War

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss a wide array of hot topics around the globe and nationally, including the campus-wide pro-Palestine protests around the country as the Gaza War rages on. 

Steve Gill – Attorney

George Szamuely – Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute
Peter Coffin – Journalist and YouTuber

Jamie Finch – Former Director at the National Transportation Safety Board
Attorney Steve Gill starts the show to discuss the Trump hush money trial and provides insights on the gag order contempt hearing that took place this morning.
Later, Senior Research Fellow George Szamuely analyzes the Congressional aid package, which proposes $95 billion in assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and analyzes what weaponry the packages could include.
The second hour begins with journalist and YouTuber Peter Coffin weighing in on the widespread campus protests related to Palestine, including faculty walkouts at Columbia, and the arrest of students at Columbia and Yale amid explosive debates happening in the media.
The show closes with former National Transportation Safety Board official Jamie Finch talking about the FAA’s decision to open an investigation into a near miss at JFK airport.

The Final Countdown – 4/18/24 – Critical Vote for Ukraine, Israel Funding Approaches as Congress Remains at Odds

On this episode of The Final Countdown hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss a variety of topics around the globe, including Congress divided over aid funding to Israel and Ukraine. 

Nebojsa Malic – RT Journalist 

Mitch Roschelle – Media Commentator

Scott Stantis – Political Cartoonist 

Aviv Bushinsky – Former Chief of Staff for Israeli PM Netanyahu

RT journalist Nebojsa Malic joins The Final Countdown in the first hour to discuss Congress remaining at odds over a critical vote for Israel and Ukraine funding.

Then, media commentator Mitch Roschelle joins the show to discuss the latest out of the Trump hush money trial. 

Political cartoonist Scott Stantis weighs in on the NYPD arresting over 100 pro-Palestine protesters at Columbia University.

The show wraps up with Aviv Bushinsky, who shares his perspective on reports of Israeli strikes inside Iran. 

What’s Left 10: Police Who Help People

FRIENDLY TIP If you... - Carrollton Texas Police Department | Facebook           It may come as a surprise, especially to conservatives, that the Left believes in law and order. Of course we do. Without it, you can’t have much else.

            In November 2001, I went to Afghanistan as a reporter. It felt like the 14th century if the late middle ages took place in an Islamist dystopia and everyone carried an AK-47. To call it a failed state would have been too kind; there were no governmental functions of any sort. There were no paved roads, no operational schools, no reliable form of currency in circulation, not even names for the streets, which was just as well since there weren’t any signs either. When I returned to the United States, interviewers asked me what the people of Afghanistan needed and wanted most. Westerners offered suggestions: elections, a free press, democracy. Afghans actually wanted roads and electricity; they could do the rest. I suggested: law and order. There’s no point building a road if bandits rob travelers. You can’t hold elections if candidates can easily be assassinated.

            Leftists object to bourgeois and capitalist systems of policing because they use violence to prop up a system we seek to tear down. Under a leftist government, however, counterrevolutionary, reactionary and corporatist forces will try to undermine our efforts to create a more just and equal world every way they can, including call trying to terrorize citizens and new institutions by creating an atmosphere of lawlessness. Socialists don’t want their banks robbed or their stores fleeced by shoplifters. The leftist approach to law and order must, however, not merely recreate capitalism’s inherent brutality but must reflect the values of dignity and respect that characterize our struggle. Similarly and even more importantly, the criminal and civil justice systems must serve as both a counterexample to the Right and a reinforcement of our belief that all humans can be redeemed and that society has a moral obligation to do everything that he can to help them do so.

            It almost seems ridiculous to put it into words, but it must be said because it’s rarely followed: the purpose of policing is to keep people as safe as possible. Reactive policing is the apex of this mission. When you call 911, a man or woman in uniform should come quickly, thoughtfully assess the situation and act with the bare minimum of physical force necessary, if any, to resolve it.  In other words, the opposite of what happened on July 15, 2017, when a 31-year-old Australian-American woman, Justine Damond, called Minneapolis police to report her fear that a woman was being assaulted behind her home. When the cops arrived, she went to talk to them. They were startled, so they shot her.

            This kind of thing doesn’t happen in the United Kingdom because the police are trained to guard citizens, not hunt lawbreakers, and also they don’t carry guns, and also they’re not jumpy and scared. Police should not carry guns. In a situation where firearms might be required, such as a hostage situation involving armed gunmen, a specially trained tactical team can be dispatched to the scene.

            Then there’s the matter of deterrent law enforcement, in which police officers are placed in visible locations to deter criminals and to serve as a point of contact for law-abiding people who need directions or other forms of assistance.

            What cops should never be doing is what they mainly do now, roaming neighborhoods with lots of poverty and ethnic minorities while stopping on occasion to harass the locals or worse, and writing tickets for parking and moving violations. The police need to be trained to understand that disadvantaged populations need their help more than anyone else and that, no matter how sketchy an area looks, 99% of the people who live there are just like them, trying to survive without hurting anyone else.

            If government is interested in public safety, it will abolish regressive monetary fines for parking in the wrong place at the wrong time, driving too fast, making an illegal turn, forgetting to renew an automobile registration, even for driving drunk. Society has a vested interest in maintaining orderly parking patterns, encouraging motorists to drive below the speed limit, obey regulations, make sure their car is in working order and obviously for ensuring that no one gets behind the wheel of a car under the influence of alcohol. But enforcement measures based on revenue enhancement inevitably are abused; the police write tickets to people who are innocent, they exaggerate the gravity of offenses, and they can easily escalate into violent confrontations because poor people can’t afford exorbitant fines. A broken headlight isn’t cause to shake someone down for money; the driver probably doesn’t even know it’s broken. Pull the driver over and let them know they need to get it fixed. If you are trying to get people to stop speeding, issue them tickets with a point system; if they get too many, they lose their driving privileges. There’s really no reason whatsoever to renew automobile registration other than to sit down  tax drivers, so just stop requiring it.

            In major cities, take cops out of their squad cars and turn them into pedestrians so that they interact organically with members of the community. Stop recruiting from the ranks of traumatized former military veterans trained to adopt a “warrior” mentality rather than the “guardian” viewpoint—a good cop is far more worried about whether you get home safe at night than whether he gets home safe at night.

            Bourgeois police officers are deeply imbued in a “gotcha” approach. They receive praise and promotions for catching people doing bad things and nailing them for it. Instead, we must train the police to prevent bad things from happening. Coming out of a bar late at night in a small Ohio town not long ago, I was immediately pulled over by a cop who obviously had been lurking outside the tavern and hoped to catch patrons driving home drunk. I had only had one beer and everything about my driver’s license and my car was kosher, so he let me go with a distinct air of disappointment. Wouldn’t it have been better for that town, and my opinion of the police, if instead he hung out in front of the bar and offered to drive someone who had had one too many drinks back to their house?

            Next time, what the Left should do about crime and punishment.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

The Final Countdown – 4/17/24 – Massie Backs Ousting House Speaker Mike Johnson as Congress Clashes Over Ukraine and Israel Funding

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss the latest political developments domestically and abroad, including U.S. Congress clashing over aid funding.

Robert Hornack – Political Consultant
Laith Marouf – Award-winning Journalist
Jamie Finch – Former Director at the National Transportation Safety Board 
The show begins with Robert Hornack weighing in on the upcoming SCOTUS decision on Trump and the January 6 defendants. 
Then, award-winning journalist Laith Marouf delves into the escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, discussing statements from Foreign Minister David Cameron about an imminent Israeli response inside Iran, Iran’s stark warnings against such actions, and the anticipated widespread protests that could ensue.
The show wraps up with Former NTSB Director Jamie Finch addressing the recent surge in safety concerns reported by the American Airlines union, analyzing potential causes, implications for passenger safety, and necessary actions to mitigate these risks in the aviation industry.

DMZ America Podcast #143 (together in person!): #MeToo Drives Cartoonist Ed Piskor to Suicide, Abortion Drives Republicans Insane, Might Gaza Drive Israel Out of Statehood?

Cartoonists Ted Rall (from the Left) and Scott Stantis (from the Right) present a Very Special Podcast. For the first time, Ted and Scott do the pod from Hotel Clovis, a.k.a. Ted’s place in New York. As always, Ted and Scott put friendship first in their spirited but civilized debates and discussions about the issues at hand.

First up: The world of comics and cartooning was upended by the tragic suicide of Eisner-winning cartoonist Ed Piskor, who shot himself to death after being hounded by an online mob and stripped of his professional associations after a younger female cartoonist accused him of “grooming” her four years ago, when he was 17. What lessons can we learn from this episode? Has the #MeToo movement finally gone too far? What of the online posters who gleefully celebrated Piskor’s death? Can comics address systemic sexism without descending into Lord of the Flies-style vengeance?

Second: The Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed an 1864 state statute that bans abortion in all cases excepting danger to the life of the mother (which Texas still refuses to do). In Arizona, if you are raped or subjected to incest, the state refuses to grant you an abortion. Ted and Scott discuss the political implications for a Republican Party that now finds itself out of step with 85% of American voters on an issue with massive symbolic resonance.

Finally: Scott, a long-time supporter of Israel, has reluctantly concluded that Israel’s war against Hamas has claimed too many innocent Palestinian lives and destroyed too much infrastructure in Gaza. Ted suggests that the window for a two-state solution may have passed and that it’s time to consider merging the Occupied Territories and Israel into a democratic Republic of Palestine where all votes and voices are treated equally.

Watch the Video Version: here.

The Final Countdown – 4/11/24 – GOP Donors Eye 3rd Party Candidates to Stifle Biden’s Presidential Hopes

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss the latest developments from around the world, including the GOP donors eyeing third-party presidential candidates. 

Tyler Nixon – Counselor-at-law
Scottie Nell Hughes – RT Host
Scott Stantis – Political cartoonist
Dr. Wilmer Leon – Political Scientist, Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Host of The Critical Hour
Andrew Arthur – Resident Fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies
The show starts with counselor-at-law Tyler Nixon providing an analysis of the FISA bill, which crashed in the House amid former president Donald Trump’s push to kill the surveillance law.
Then, RT Host Scottie Nell Hughes discusses Uri Berliner’s critique of NPR’s coverage of several topics including Hunter Biden and Russiagate.
Political cartoonist and commentator Scott Stantis continues the conversation and also touches on a tragedy out of Chicago. 
The second hour begins with political scientist Dr. Wilmer Leon, who discusses Cornel West’s announcement of Dr. Milena Abdullah as his running mate. 
The show closes with Immigration expert Andrew Arthur analyzing the Biden administration’s shift toward policies reminiscent of those implemented by former President Trump at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Biden’s Secret Border Agenda: Migrants Fill Our Baby Gap

           I didn’t question the incoming Biden Administration when they rolled back the Trump era’s stricter border control policies in 2021. There’s nothing unusual about reversing a previous president’s approach, especially when he belongs to the other party and the policy in question is roundly criticized.

You didn’t have to be a proponent of open borders to feel discomfort about Trump’s zero-tolerance stance toward both economic migrants and political asylum applicants, which led to kids in cages, his draconian family separation policy, which caused nearly a thousand children to get disappeared into the system and were never reunited with their parents, or his Remain in Mexico scheme, which subjected immigration applicants to gang and cartel violence. By the time he left office, Trump’s handling of undocumented people who attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border was viewed as inhumane and highly unpopular.

As we see so often in American politics, we have gone from one extreme to the other. President Biden has swung past the status quo ante toward immigration policies more liberal than anyone alive today can remember. Slightly fewer than two million people illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border during Trump’s four years in office; there have been well over six million under Biden, who still has nine months left to serve. Biden has deported more than half of these.

Where the two administrations’ policies really differ is their handling of applicants who present themselves to border patrol agents and followed the federal government’s legal application process for asylum. Fewer than 200,000 asylum seekers were paroled, i.e. admitted into the U.S. pending the resolution of their claim, under Trump. Biden has paroled nearly 500,000, and he still has a year to go, with big spikes over the past two years. Between those people and others allowed into the U.S. under Biden’s special refugee programs for people fleeing conflict zones like Ukraine, Afghanistan and Venezuela, more than 1,000,000 are now in country.

Now it’s Biden’s turn to feel the heat of popular discontent in an election year. More than two-thirds of voters disapprove of the president on immigration (68%) and border security (69%), according to the AP-NORC poll conducted on March 29th. After the economy, healthcare, crime and guns, immigration is tied for fifth with abortion among the issues voters care about most right now.

Like other leftists, I long assumed that Biden’s “open border” approach was driven by a pair of common well-intentioned albeit shortsighted liberal impulses: opposing all things Trump just because and opening America’s doors to the poor and oppressed masses desperate for the chance to make new lives here, à la Emma Lazarus in homage to our history as a Nation of Immigrants.

Now I think something else is going on.

Biden and the Democrats read polls; they know their border policies aren’t playing well with the swing voters they need to win this fall. Trump’s fearmongering seems to be landing punches. So why is the Administration staying the course? Why are they just standing by and watching as cities like New York and Chicago reel under the financial stress of hundreds of thousands of new arrivals they can’t handle?

As James Carville famously observed in 1992, it’s the economy, stupid. It’s always the economy, especially in an election year. And you can’t hit the ideal GDP growth rate of two or three percent a year if your population—your consumer base and your labor pool—shrinks.

But Team Biden is looking far beyond November.

The developed world is facing a fertility crisis. For the population to remain stable, the average woman needs to have 2.1 children. (The fraction over two accounts for disease, accidents and mortality in general.) A study published in The Lancet finds that the fertility rate for Western Europe, 1.53 rate in 2021, is expected to drop further to 1.37 by 2100. A major population drop-off could cause a crisis as a smaller workforce is unable to support an older, larger cohort of retirees. Demand for homes and other trans-generational products could collapse, dragging down consumer goods and leading to a deflationary doom loop.

Fortunately, report co-author Natalia V. Bhattacharjee says, there’s a solution: liberalizing immigration from places like the Global South, where birthrates remain high. “Once nearly every country’s population is shrinking, reliance on open immigration will become necessary to sustain economic growth.” She told Al Jazeera that “sub-Saharan African countries have a vital resource that ageing societies are losing—a youthful population.”

            Here in the U.S., our fertility rate has dropped from 3.65 in 1960 to 2.08 in 1990 to 1.66 in 2021. At the same time, population has risen from 181 million in 1960 to 250 million to 333 million in 2021. Immigration, legal and illegal, has filled the void created by our failure to make enough babies.

            Under Trump, not so much.

            I am increasingly convinced that, behind securely locked soundproof doors in the White House and other corridors of power, top Biden officials are staring at demographic charts that show the rate of population increase leveling off toward even, and dripping sweat over the fact that the current economic model, which is predicated on consistent expansion, is imperiled by a fertility crisis neither they nor the media ever talk about. Where Republicans see an uncontrolled flow of people from Central America and elsewhere pouring across the border with Mexico as threats to American jobholders, possible criminals and perhaps cultural harbingers of a Great Replacement theory, Democratic economists view them, like Bhattacharjee, as a convenient solution to the intractable demographic issues of Americans getting married later and in fewer numbers and thus having fewer children than required to keep growing the economy.

            There are ways to encourage American citizens who already live here to have more kids. One city in Japan, whose economy has struggled against a fertility crisis since the 1990s, has succeeded in growing family sizes by investing free medical care for children, free diapers and, most effectively, free daycare. Other places have achieved similar results. There is a direct correlation between low birth rates and expensive child daycare. But there’s no sign that Washington cares about the issue, much less is about to act.

That leaves immigration. Given the stakes and the undeniable capitalistic logic that necessitates throwing open the floodgates, President Biden might want to take a shot at something he seems both to hate and is not good at: explaining the facts to the public.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


The Final Countdown – 4/10/24 – Congress Grills Top Military Brass Over Ukraine, Israel Funding

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss a wide range of topics from around the globe, including top U.S. military officers facing Congress over funding to Ukraine and Israel. 

Scott Stantis– Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune
Jamie Finch – Former Director at the National Transportation Safety Board 
Jeremy Kuzmarov – Managing Editor of Covert Action Magazine 
Mark Sleboda – International Relations and Security Analyst 
The show opens with cartoonist Scott Stantis to weigh in on U.S. military aid to Israel and Ukraine, the political drama involving Marjorie Taylor Greene’s threats against Speaker Johnson.
Then, Former Director at the National Transportation Safety Board Jamie Finch delves into the transportation sector’s recent challenges, including Norfolk Southern’s significant settlement, Boeing’s halved deliveries amidst heightened quality checks, and a whistleblower’s alarming revelations about the 777 and 787 models.
The second hour begins with Managing Editor of Covert Action Magazine Jeremy Kuzmarov analyzing the escalating tensions in Gaza, including Elizabeth Warren’s predictions about the ICJ’s potential genocide declaration, Netanyahu’s announcement of an invasion date, Turkey’s sanctions against Israel, and accusations against Iran.
The show closes with international relations analyst Mark Sleboda examining the allegations against Ukraine’s Burisma, accused of funding terrorist attacks.

The Final Countdown – 4/9/24 – Brazil and Elon Musk at Odds over Free Speech

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss a plethora of topics from around the world, including a renewed Russiagate hysteria campaign from the Democrats. 

Rachel Blevins – Host of The Back Story
Ajay Pallegar – Criminal and civil attorney
Armen Kurdian – Foreign and Domestic Policy Expert
Peter Coffin – Journalist, Youtuber
The show begins with the Host of The Back Story Rachel Belvins, who discusses the renewed frenzy over Russiagate 2.0, as the Democrats peddle the narrative that Americans are being influenced by Russian disinformation.
Then, criminal and civil attorney Ajay Pallegar explores the latest developments in the legal battles surrounding former President Trump, including his plans to sue the judge presiding over his hush-money case. He also touches on the latest out of Fani Willis’s saga. 
The second hour opens with Armen Kurdian, who discusses a Biden-appointed judge reprimanding the Department of Justice for disregarding congressional subpoenas related to the Hunter Biden investigation.
The show wraps up with journalist and Youtuber Peter Coffin examining the situation in Brazil where Elon Musk is under investigation for his decision to reactivate several right-wing social media accounts.

The Final Countdown – 4/8/24 – Mike Johnson Battles His Own Party to Push Through Divisive Ukraine Aid

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall break down current events including House Speaker Mike Johnson pushing the Ukraine aid bill. 

Andrii Telizhenko – Ukrainian whistleblower
Tyler Nixon – Counselor-at-law
Robert Hornack – Political consultant
Mitch Roschelle – Media Commentator
The show begins with Ukrainian whistleblower Andrii Telizhenko discussing the ongoing efforts of House Speaker Mike Johnson to secure aid for Ukraine despite internal divisions within the GOP. He also discusses the recent drone attack on the Zaporozhye nuclear plant.
Then, counselor-at-law Tyler Nixon sheds light on the escalating tensions between Special Counsel Jack Smith and Judge Aileen Canon in the high-profile case concerning classified documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
The second hour starts with political consultant Robert Hornack delving into the fundraising campaigns of both President Biden and former President Trump, analyzing their strategies.
The show closes with media commentator Mitch Roschelle discussing House Speaker Mike Johnson’s efforts to rally legislative support for the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).