Author Archives: Ted Rall

About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at ANewDomain.net, editor-in-chief of SkewedNews.net, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

A Grim New Definition of Generation X

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            People born in the 1960s may be the last human beings who will get to live out their full actuarial life expectancies.

            “Climate change now represents a near- to mid-term existential threat” to humanity, warns a recent policy paper by an Australian think tank. Civilization, scientists say, could collapse by 2050. Some people may survive. Not many.

            Some dismiss such purveyors of apocalyptic prognoses as hysterics. To the contrary, they’re Pollyannas. Every previous “worst-case scenario” prediction for the climate has turned out to have understated the gravity of the situation. “Paleoclimatologists have shown that past warming episodes show that there are mechanisms which magnify its effects, not represented in current climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the Paris Accords,” reports The Independent. It’s probably too optimistic to assume that we’ll make it to 2050.

            Gives new meaning to Generation X.

            Millennials and the children we call Generation Z face the horrifying prospect that they will get stuck with the tab for humanity’s centuries-long rape of planet earth, the mass desecration of which radically accelerated after 1950. There is an intolerably high chance that today’s young people will starve to death, die of thirst, be killed by a superstorm, succumb to a new disease, boil to death, asphyxiate from air pollution, be murdered in a riot or shot or blown up in a war sparked by environmentally-related political instability long before they survive to old age.

            Long threatened, never taken seriously, not even now that it’s staring us right in the face, human extinction is coming for the children and grandchildren we claim to love but won’t lift a finger to save.

            Shelves sag under the weight of books that have been written arguing that we still have a chance to save ourselves. I wish I could believe that. Human population has tripled since the 1950s. More than a million species have gone extinct. Ninety percent of the fish in the ocean have vanished, replaced by one billion tons of plastic. Two-thirds of the trees have been cut down. The polar ice cap is gone; it’s never coming back.

            We can’t stop global warming. An increase of four degrees Celsius over the baseline set at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution means game over. We’re well on our way there. It doesn’t make sense to think that we can avoid extinction.

            What if we woke up and demanded action from our political leaders? Radical problems require radical solutions; only the most radical of solutions could resolve the most radical problem of ruining our planet’s ability to sustain us: revolution. We would have to rise up and abolish—immediately—consumer capitalism in all the major greenhouse gas-producing nations, prioritize cleaning the environment as the human race’s top concern, and pivot to an economic mindset in which we extract the bare minimum from the ecosystem that we need in order to survive and nothing more.

            Voting might achieve some incremental reforms but reform falls far short of what we require. Saving our young people (and their children, should they be foolish enough to have any) would require global revolution, the violent overthrow of the ruling elites and replacing them with people who understand what must be done. It would need to happen today. Fifty years ago would be better. Got a time machine?

            None of this is going to happen. We are going to sleepwalk to our doom in a haze of social media and corporate entertainment distraction.

            So it’s time for people who are younger than I am to start thinking about how they want to spend the rest of their likely-to-be-truncated lives, and how they plan to face mass premature death.

            Pending human extinction destroys the answers provided by religion and philosophy. Knowing that there won’t be anyone to know that we were ever here raises the question: why bother to do anything? This column, this year’s “important” presidential election, love, hate, everything will lose its meaning when the last member of our species draws her last breath. Earth is unlikely to be visited by an alien archaeologist, much less uncover everything we’ve made and created (assuming any of it survives), much less figure out what any of it meant, before the sun expands into a red giant and ends it all.

            Much is to be said for hedonism: eat, drink, have sex, and don’t bother to sort your recycling, for tomorrow we die. Stoicism has its advantages too; go out with dignity rather than weeping and gnashing your teeth and making your fellow survivors miserable.

            Nihilism is about to become the best worst possible life strategy. Life is meaningless. That will soon become obvious. Moral principles, relics of a time with a future, will blow away like the irradiated dust we leave behind.

            None of this will have mattered.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

The Articles of Impeachment Should Have Been These Instead

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            Donald Trump deserved to be impeached. He deserves to be convicted in the Senate.

            Every president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors that could justify impeachment.

            But not on these charges. Not for threatening to withhold $400 million in aid that we shouldn’t have been sending to Ukraine in the first place, not as long as 38 million Americans are poor. Not for trying to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden; American voters have the right to know that the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president and his son are on the take.

            Certainly not on the nonsensical count of contempt of Congress, which punished the president for the crime of using the legal system to defend himself.

            Impeachment is a political process that only has legitimacy when it’s bipartisan. In 1974 Democrats drafted wide-ranging articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. They appealed to constituencies across a wide spectrum of interests: corruption, financial fraud, bribing witnesses not to testify, privacy violations, opposition to the Vietnam War.

            The Nixon articles were crafted in order to attract support from Republicans. The media claims that the GOP has never been in thrall to a president as slavishly as it is to Trump but people who remember Nixon know better. Still, Nixon’s hold on Capitol Hill Republicans eroded as the latter realized they could no longer defend conduct like his wiretapping of and siccing the IRS on political opponents.

            Nancy Pelosi’s microaggression-based articles of impeachment against Trump couldn’t peel away a single House Republican.

 

            Here are the articles of impeachment I would have drafted instead.

 

  1. Racist foreign policy. President Donald J. Trump’s comportment as head of state and top official in charge of foreign policy has brought shame, contempt and opprobrium upon the United States of America. He has used his Twitter feed and spoken comments in order to insult foreign heads of state and call them names. A brazen racist, he has referred to sovereign nations in Africa, and Haiti, as “shithole countries.” If the U.S. should set the highest standard of conduct, Trump’s sets the lowest, recklessly destroying our relationship with the world. Threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, a nuclear power, is the kind of behavior that sparks conflicts. Few Republicans want another pointless war.
  2. The President may be psychotic. The president’s temperament and demeanor not only fail to rise to the bar expected of the office of President but bring disrepute upon the citizens of the United States he is tasked with representing. Anticipating the possibility that we might someday face a situation similar to that in England under King George III, the Founding Fathers conceived impeachment in large part as a way to remove a head of state who might be mentally ill, addicted to alcohol or other drugs or, in the flowery language of the time, indulge in “frequent and notorious excesses and debaucheries, and…profane and atheistical discourses.” A president not in full command of his mental faculties is an albatross; his tenure represents a threat to national security. Under the War Powers Act, the president has the right to deploy troops. He may decide whether a condemned prisoner is pardoned or executed. He can unilaterally order a nuclear attack without provocation. Although it is impossible to determine whether President Trump is mentally ill or under the influence of narcotics, his behavior is so unsteady that it is only prudent to plan for the worst and remove him before he causes a catastrophe. Republicans know he is dangerous.
  3. He endorses murder. After the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, President Trump repeatedly sided with the murderers. “We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. The president’s statements makes it impossible for other countries to take us seriously when we pontificate about human rights. Republicans cannot and do not find what happened to Khashoggi acceptable.
  4. He endorses fascism. After white nationalists and other bigots gathered at a violent right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting in the murder of a peaceful progressive activist, President Trump pretended there was equivalence between neo-Nazis and anti-fascist protesters. There “were very fine people, on both sides,” he said. No there weren’t. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers died fighting fascism during World War II. President Trump dishonors them and increases the chances that fascism will rise again. Republicans do not agree with neo-Nazis.
  5. He is lining his own pockets at the public trough. Call it “emoluments” if you want to make voters’ eyes glaze over, call it what it is if you want to speak plainly: bribery. Trump has visited his own properties 400 times, filling rooms at full price with his retinue at taxpayer expense. Saudi Arabia has bailed out his failing hotels. He even suggested his own resort as the site of a G-8 summit. When foreign officials pay our president, they are buying influence. Republicans wouldn’t tolerate this behavior from their employees. The president is our employee.
  6. He kidnaps children—and loses them. The Trump Administration forcibly separated 5,400 kids from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Many were locked in cages. After federal courts ordered them returned to their parents, the White House admitted that they couldn’t locate them. They were lost. Thousands may be never be reunited with their families due to neglect and bureaucratic incompetence. Trump has asked for two years to find them. Even anti-immigration Republicans do not agree with stealing people’s kids.

 

            I can think of other impeachable offenses—continuing and expanding Obama’s drone assassination program, backing Saudi Arabia’s genocidal proxy war in neighboring Yemen, airstrikes against Syria. But this column isn’t about what I care about. It’s a list of articles of impeachment that might have had a chance of attracting bipartisan support and thus resulting in Trump’s conviction in the Senate.

            Instead, Democrats have indulged in a pro forma charade that will set an awful precedent, tempting the House of Representatives to impeach every president of the opposite party over every little thing. They’ve trivialized an only-in-case-of-emergency process into a rushed lark, ignored what really matters and squandered the opportunity to hold the president to account for his many crimes and sins.

            Enjoy your “win,” liberals. Like your decision to abolish the judicial filibuster for nominations to the bench—in 2013 some Democrats actually thought there would never be another Republican president—you will soon rue it.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

 

 

A Nasty Christmas Gift from the LA Court of Appeal

The California Court of Appeal on Los Angeles has decided that I deserved a lump of coal this holiday season.

You may recall that the California state Supreme Court remanded my case against the LA Times to the Court of Appeal earlier this year. That decision resulted in part from the state Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the plaintiff in another defamation and wrongful termination case, Wilson v. CNN. Neither Wilson nor I have seen our day in court. We were still trying to get past California’s anti-SLAPP statute so we can pursue our claims. Wilson prevailed. I am still fighting.

Getting heard by the California Supreme Court is extremely unusual. So we were lucky there. Once heard, the remand procedure is standard.

The Court of Appeal was supposed to reconsider my case from scratch, in light of Wilson. California courts have been rolling back corporate and media defendants abuses of the anti-SLAPP statute. Wilson continued this trend.

Unsurprisingly, and pretty much as expected, the Court of Appeal doubled down on its previous decision against me, ordering me to pay the LA Times hundreds of thousands of dollars for their legal fees. The LA Times is owned by multibillionaire biotechnology entrepreneur Dr. Pat Soon-Shiong. Another defendant in my case is Austin Beutner, a multibillionaire hedge fund manager, fired former LA Times publisher and currently the superintendent of LA schools.

The LA Times paid me $300 a week. Then, in 2015, they fired me as a favor to disgraced former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

Seven leading First Amendment and free speech organizations have filed amicus letters supporting me against the LA Times:

  1. Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
  2. Cartoonists Rights Network International
  3. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  4. Index on Censorship UK
  5. National Coalition Against Censorship
  6. National Writers Union
  7. Project Censored

As anticipated, we will now repetition the California Supreme Court.

If the court agrees to hear my case and rules in my favor, we will finally begin discovery.

If not, my case will be dismissed and I will face a judgment of roughly $1 million for having had the temerity to defend myself against the willful defamation published by the LA Times as a favor to the police, which owned them at the time.

Reading the latest decision, it’s hard not to conclude that these decisions so far are the result of corruption within the city of Los Angeles at the highest levels of city government, the media and the police rather than careful legal analysis. The court is ignoring the law and does not appear to have read my briefs.

The California Supreme Court is my last hope.

It’s also the last hope for press freedom in California. If the Court of Appeal ruling stands, it will be next to impossible for any employee of a media organization to hold media organizations accountable for any kind of wrongdoing, including race and sex discrimination.

You can fight the LA Times’ censorship by supporting me on Patreon or GoFundMe.

The Media Is down in the Gutter with Trump

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            How you respond to an attack defines you. Keep your cool, remain civil and others will respect the way you handle yourself, even if they disagree with you. Lower yourself to your assailant’s level and—at best—spectators will dismiss your dispute as a he-said-she-said between two jerks.

            So much has been written about Donald Trump’s debasement of rhetorical norms and his gleeful contempt for truth that there is no need to cite examples or quote studies that count the prolificacy of his lies. Trump’s attacks on journalists—“fake news,” mocking a disabled reporter’s body movements—are contemptible. They undermine citizens’ trust in news media, a serious menace to democracy and civil society.

            Less noticed is how major news organizations, incensed by the president’s trolling, have debased themselves to Trump’s moral level.

            American journalism used to adhere to strict standards. Though impossible to achieve, objectivity was paramount. At bare minimum, reporters were expected to project an appearance of political neutrality.

            Truth only derived from facts—verifiable facts. Not conjecture and never wishful thinking. Sources who wanted to be quoted had to go on the record. Anonymous sources could flesh out background but could not be the entire basis for a story.

            From the start of Trump’s run for president—before the start—Democratic-leaning media outlets abandoned their own long-cherished standards to declare war on him. Every day during the 2016 campaign The New York Times led its coverage with its forecast of Hillary Clinton’s supposed odds of defeating Trump. Setting aside the fact of the Times’ embarrassing wrongness—the day before Election Day they gave Clinton an 85% chance of winning—it cited odds rather than polls. Maximizing a sense of Clintonian inevitability was intended to demoralize Republicans so they wouldn’t turn out to vote. The two figures might suggest the same thing. But 85-15 odds look worse than a 51-49 poll.

            It’s downright truthy. And when truthiness goes sideways it makes you look really, really dumb. 51-49 could go either way. 85-15, not so much.

            The impeachment battle marks a new low in partisanship among media outlets.

            After Trump’s surprise-to-those-who’d-never-been-to-the-Rust-Belt win, outlets like the Times declared themselves members of a so-called “Resistance.” Opinion columnists like Charles M. Blow pledged never to “normalize” Trumpism; what this has meant, ironically, is that Blow’s essays amount to rote recitations on the same topic: normally, about the argument that Trump sucks. Which he does. There are, however, other issues to write about, such as the fact that we are all doomed. It would be nice to hear Blow’s opinions about taxes, militarism and abortion.

            Next came years—years!—of Robert Muellerpalooza. Russia, corporate media outlets said repeatedly, had “meddled” in the 2016 election. Vladimir Putin installed Trump; Hillary Clinton’s snubbing of her party’s 72%-progressive base had nothing to do with the loss of the most qualified person blah blah blah to an inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame.

            Whatever happened to the journalistic chestnut: if your mother says she loves you, check it out? Russiagate wasn’t a news report. It was religious faith. Russia fixed the election because we, the media, say so, we say so because we were told to say so by politicians, who were told to say so by CIA people, whose job is to lie and keep secrets. No one checked out anything.

            What we knew and still know is that a Russia-based troll farm spent either $100,000 or $200,000 on Facebook ads to generate clickbait. Most of those ads were apolitical. Many were pro-Clinton. The company has no ties to the Russian government. It was a $6.8 billion election; $200,000 couldn’t have and didn’t move the needle.

            Anonymous Congressional sources told reporters that anonymous intelligence agents told them that there was more. The Mueller Report implies as much. But no one went on the record. No original or verifiable copies of documentary evidence has been leaked. The report’s numerous citations are devoid of supporting material. By pre-Trump journalistic standards Russiagate wasn’t a story any experienced editor would print.

            It was barely an idea for a story.

            Russiagate fell apart so decisively that Democratic impeachers now act like the Mueller Report—a media obsession for three years—never even happened.

            Speaking of impeachment, mainstream media gatekeepers are so eager to see Trump removed from office that they’re violating another cardinal rule of journalism: if it’s news, print it. The identity of the CIA “whistleblower” (scare quotes because actual whistleblowers reveal truths that hurt their bosses) who triggered impeachment over Trump’s menacing phone call to the president of Ukraine has been known in Washington, and elsewhere if you know where to look, for months.

            Federal law prohibits the government from revealing his identity, and rightly so. But it has leaked. It’s out. It’s news. Nothing in the law or journalistic custom prevents a media organization from publishing it. News outlets felt no compulsion to similarly protect the identity of Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden. So why aren’t newspapers and broadcast networks talking about it?

            “I’m not convinced his identity is important at this point, or at least important enough to put him at any risk, or to unmask someone who doesn’t want to be identified,” New York Times editor Dean Baquet said. So much for the people’s right to know. Why should subscribers buy a newspaper that doesn’t print the news?

            There is a because-Trump change in media ethics that I welcome. What’s suspect is the timing.

            Trump is the first president to get called out for his lies right in the news section. Great! Imagine how many lives could have been saved by a headline like “Bush Repeats Debunked Falsehood That Iraq Has WMDs.” A headline like “Slurring Sanders’ Numerous Female Supporters as ‘Bros,’ Hillary Clinton Lies About Medicare-for-All” could have nominated and elected Bernie and saved many Americans from medical bankruptcy.

            But all presidents lie. Why pick on Trump? His lies are (perhaps) more numerous. But they’re no bigger than his predecessors (see Iraq WMDs, above). Yet discussion of former presidents remains respectful and slavish as ever.

            I say, give coverage of Obama and other ex-presidents the same tone and treatment as the current occupant of the White House gets from the news media:

            “Wallowing in Corrupt Wall Street Cash, Obama Drops $11.75 Million on Gaudy Martha’s Vineyard Mansion Estate”

            “Ellen DeGeneres Sucks Up to Mass Murderer George W. Bush”

            “Jimmy Carter, First Democratic President to Not Even Bother to Propose an Anti-Poverty Program, Dead at TK”

            (Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

I Am Serializing My Roman-à-Clef Political Murder Thriller

Here’s a little gift for the holidays: my first-ever prose novel. It’s a roman-à-clef political murder thriller about a serial killer with a big agenda. I’m serializing it at Rall.com/chain-of-command. A new chapter goes up every Thursday or so.

Thanks for reading me in a different format. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as the story unfolds…

Chapter 1.

OTTMAR MERGENTHALER MIDDLE SCHOOL (DECOMMISSIONED)
THE UPTON SECTION OF BALTIMORE

“What the fuck is that?”

“What the fuck is what,” Denny Romero mumbled as he cut-and-pasted “I love you” from a text to his wife into the thread with his girlfriend. Tony was always bugging out about everything. Which usually turned out to be nothing. When they were kids growing up together in what passed for the bad part of Annapolis the “awesome stash of print porn” Tony unearthed from the basement turned out to be a bundle of their mom’s old Cosmos. As business partners Tony’s blockbuster can of Mercury dimes in the abandoned bungalow morphed in the light of day into a bunch of worthless bottle caps.

“That what the fuck!” Tony shouted as though he were on the opposite side of the site. He slapped at Denny’s phone.

Tony pointed toward one of the mountains of bricks and plaster and pipes and rotten planks that a better city in a better time had arranged into the shape of a school.

In 1924 people did things right.

Despite the shadow cast by the office tower next door and clouds of swirling mystery powder you could tell Mergenthaler Middle School had been a gorgeous building. What a difference a century makes. Now companies like Romero Building Salvage bid for the privilege to breathe through face masks and sift through the rubble of public works to scavenge bits of molding and copper fixtures. Some would be sold on consignment to hipster couples hoping to de-generify their cookie-cutter converted lofts.

Tony and Denny merged the faint beams of their iPhone ARs toward the spot where Tony gestured. Insufficient. The brothers reached in tandem for their Mag lights. Protruding from beneath a hillock of battered bricks and plaster fragments directly beneath a splintered wooden door whose window bore the words “Vice Principal” in frosted drop-shadow lettering was a pair of legs.

In the same way you can tell from her giant hands that the beautiful woman with big eyes and a button nose at the bar was physically born male, there was no mistaking that these body parts belonged to a woman. The skinny probably-dead legs wore knee-high socks with wide black-and-white stripes. Red slippers trimmed with sequins adorned her probably-dead feet.

“We’re not in Kansas any more, Denny!”

Men less experienced than the Romero brothers sometimes mistook corpses for mannequins. But bodies were more common than mannequins. Demolition and salvage workers found them all the time.

Police chased the homeless off the streets. Some walked into banks, announced a robbery and waited to be arrested so they could secure two hots and a cot. Others took shelter in one of the city’s abandoned structures. City building inspectors were assigned to ferret these societal rejects out before the old places came down. But they were workfare recipients who could barely be bothered to show up for work, much less feign dedication to their jobs.

Anyway, vagabonds were expert sneaks. They secreted themselves in nasty asbestos-laden nooks, ignoring amplified warnings to leave due to impending demolition. Explosives were set, connected and detonated. Bye bye bum, hello a downward nudge of the unemployment rate.

Some of them must have gone out that way on purpose. Suicide by gentrification.

“Help me move this shit,” Tony beckoned his brother.

Denny didn’t argue. This was their site. They were salvagers.

“What do you think? Fake or real? A prank?” Denny asked.

“Dig,” Tony ordered.

If it was a dead woman and she was carrying cash or jewelry they had dibs. If they called 911, Baltimore’s Finest would loot their corpse.

“Maybe the munchkins got her,” Denny joked, chucking a cinderblock. “Or the same tornado that took out K.C. got the Wicked Witch of the West!”

Denny stared at the legs. “East.”

“I know, dumbshit,” Tony huffed. “Auntie Em’s house fell on the Wicked Witch of the East. It’s her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, who runs down Dorothy for corpse-robbing her dead sisters’ shoes.”

Denny dug.

They worked fast and gingerly, like emergency workers trying to rescue earthquake victims inside a ruined house minus. Finally the tableau was revealed.

The woman was definitely dead. She was still, dusty, white and in her mid-fifties. Or maybe sixty? Her face wore that perpetually-surprised Botoxed look, her hair frosted like the talking heads on the old Fox News channel. She wore a crushed-velvet purple jacket with broad shoulder pads.

And a tall black witch hat.

Her skin wasn’t discolored. No odor, unless you counted perfume overpowering enough to make itself known above the dust. She couldn’t have been dead long.

She was bound, hands tied firmly behind her back, her legs to its legs, to an wooden school desk scarred with ancient graffiti. There was a hole on the upper right corner for the student’s inkwell.

“Looks like some kinky schoolboy shit,” Tony said as if he were answering a question. “They gagged her with a fucking apple and duct tape.”

“What the fuck is in her nose?” Denny asked. He answered his own question: “Paper.”

Denny tugged on the sheet sticking out a few inches out of the dead woman’s face. He pulled it open and read: “Common Core Mathematics Level 8 Answer Sheet.”

Practiced hands searched pockets, violated lace-covered intimacies. No cash. A choker made of big metal balls. Probably costume but you never knew. Denny yanked, severed and pocketed the jewelry while Tony called 911.

(C) 2019 Ted Rall, All Rights Reserved.

The U.S. Government Lied about the Afghanistan War. They Couldn’t Have Done It without Lapdogs like the Washington Post.

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            “In ten years or so, we’ll leak the truth,” the Dead Kennedys sang. “But by then it’s only so much paper.”

            But it might just score you a Pulitzer Prize.

            Award bait and bragging rights are no doubt the principal goals of The Washington Post’s self-congratulatory data dump, “The Afghanistan Papers.” As the headline implies, the 2000 pages that a court ordered the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to release to Jeff Bezos’ newspaper paints a Robert McNamara-esque portrait of not-so-best-or-bright Bush and Obama Administration bozos privately admitting what they knew all along—that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was always an unwinnable, counterproductive mistake—at the same time they were telling the American people that victory in the post-9/11 “good war” was right around the corner. All we had to win was win Afghan hearts and minds.

            “The [I.G.] documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting,” the Post reported. “Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul—and at the White House—to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.”

            “The Afghanistan Papers” is a bright, shining lie by omission. Yes, our military and civilian leaders lied to us about Afghanistan. But they could never have spread their murderous BS—thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghans killed, trillions of dollars wasted—without media organizations like the Washington Post, which served as unquestioning government stenographers.

            Press outlets like the Post and New York Times weren’t merely idiots used to disseminate pro-war propaganda. They actively censored people who knew we never should have gone into Afghanistan and tried to tell American voters the truth.

            People like me.

            I was among the tiny minority of journalists and commentators who opposed the Afghanistan war from the very beginning. Nine days after 9/11, I published the first of my cartoons pointing out that Al Qaeda was in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, so there was no moral or legal justification for invading. As the war dragged on I pointed out that the men and women in charge of the war didn’t have a clue about Afghanistan or the Afghan people. According to “The Afghanistan Papers,” those men and women knew they were screwing up, wouldn’t admit their ignorance and refused to bring in experts.

            I went to Afghanistan to check things out for myself. It was obvious the U.S. didn’t stand a chance there. “The principal goal of this adventure in imperialistic vengeance, it seems obvious, should be to install a friendly government in Kabul. But we’re winning neither hearts nor minds among either the commoners or the leadership of the current regime apparent,” I wrote from Afghanistan on December 11, 2001. “And so we’ve lost this war, not because they’re good or we’re not, but because of who we are. The American Empire can’t spend the bodies or the time or the cash to fix this crazyass place, because in the final analysis, election-year W. was right—we’re not nation builders…we ought to tally our dead, write up our losses, and count ourselves lucky to still be called a superpower.” My piece, for The Village Voice, was titled “How We Lost Afghanistan.”

            It was published eighteen years ago. But not in the Post. They didn’t want to hear what lefties like me had to say.

            They still don’t.

            Afghanistan was not a passing fancy for me. I wrote hundreds of essays and drew hundreds of cartoons urging an end to the madness. It was lonely. Even Democrats liked the Afghan war; they called it the right war while Iraq was the dumb one.

            I went back to the country, traveling independently as an unembedded reporter, several times. I wrote the first book about the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the only book about oil pipeline politics in that country, a book placing Afghanistan in the context of Central Asia, and yet another book comparing the state of Afghanistan when Obama said we were pulling out—another lie—with how it was at the start of the war.

            What was my reward for being right while everyone else was wrong? Hundreds of death threats. Getting fired by my client newspapers and magazines. It’s hard to believe now but back in 2004 George W. Bush was popular and being compared to Winston Churchill; that was the year that the “liberal” New York Times and Washington Post stopped running my work.

            Major news outlets and book reviewers ignored my books. Editors refused to hire me. Producers wouldn’t book me. Anyone opposed to the Afghanistan war was censored from U.S. corporate media.

            Not that Afghanistan was ignored. It was the subject of countless analysis pieces and opinion articles in American newspapers—all of it pro-war propaganda. There were thousands of television and radio stories about the Afghan war on radio and television. Corporate media repeatedly trotted out the same retired generals, former CIA officers, and random right-wing warmongers for quotes and analysis. Never, ever did they invite critics or opponents of U.S. interventionism in Afghanistan to share their thoughts with readers, listeners and viewers.

            Nothing has changed. Whenever there is a foreign policy “crisis,” you will never read or hear or see someone completely opposed to U.S. involvement given a voice in the media. Certainly not in the Post.

            So, 18 years and tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars too late, it’s nice to see the media finally shame these scumbags and their government handlers. But they ought to save a big portion of the blame for themselves.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

Democrats Aren’t Doing Impeachment Right

Democrats aren’t doing impeachment right.

Impeachment is a political process. It requires a broad base of support to succeed; there’s no way to get to 67 votes in the Senate without overwhelming support from voters of both parties.

The only way you get to the high threshold of popular support necessary to impeach in the House and convict in the Senate is by impeaching based on counts that are clearly proven and undeniable, and that a lot of Americans, not just members of the impeaching party, care about.

The impeachment of Donald Trump should have been based on issues that nobody could deny and that everybody, regardless of which party they belonged to, could see was a major problem.

Most Republicans do not care about Ukraine. Neither do many Democrats! Besides, the issue of intent is far from proven. It’s not a unifying issue for Americans.

I would have gone after him for his bad temperament. Everyone agrees a president should be calm and deliberate. Andrew Johnson was impeached partly because of his nasty disposition, and came one vote from conviction in the Senate. No one would argue that Trump’s personality is presidential.

Child separation would have been powerful. Not even Republicans approve of stealing kids and then losing them.

Emoluments would have worked too. Lining your pockets as president is frowned upon by everyone.

I would have started this process in 2017 so as not to have this current rush job prior to an election campaign. I would have used the courts to compel recalcitrant administration officials to testify; starting in 2017 would have allowed that process to occur.

This impeachment is too little too late. Democrats will regret it.