DMZ America Podcast #149: Trump Is Now a Felon. What Happens Next?

Political cartoonists Ted Rall (on the Left) and Scott Stantis (on the Right) analyze the conviction of Donald Trump. How did it happen? Will he go to jail and/or be put on probation? Will he drop out of the race? How will it affect the campaign? Might we soon have a sitting president forced to govern from prison?

Watch the Video Version: here.

(Video will be live at 4:45 EDT 5-31-24)

The Final Countdown – 5/31/24 – How Trump’s Guilty Verdict Could Shape the 2024 Election Landscape

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Ted Rall and Angie Wong discuss the latest developments worldwide. 

Armen Kurdian – Political commentator 
Tyler Nixon – Counselor-at-law 
Jamie Finch – Former Transportation Safety Official 
Mindia Gavasheli – Bureau Chief of Sputnik U.S. 
The show begins with political commentator Armen Kurdian weighing in on Trump’s unprecedented guilty verdict. 
Then, counselor-at-law Tyler Nixon continues the conversation on Trump’s guilty verdict. 
The second hour starts with former National Transportation Safety Board director Jamie Finch discussing a whistleblower calling for a criminal investigation into Boeing. 
The show closes with Mindia Gavasheli reporting from Mexico City on the latest out of  Mexico’s general elections. 

The Final Countdown – 5/30/24 – Trump Hush Money Trial, U.S. Elex, Biden Moves Closer to Ukrainian Attacks Inside Russia

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Ted Rall and Angie Wong discuss the latest current events from around the globe, including the Trump hush money trial. 

Ajay Pallegar – Criminal & Civil Attorney
Tyler Nixon – Counselor-at-law 
Mohamed Gomaa – RT journalist 
Jeremy Kuzmarov – Managing Editor of Covert Action Magazine 
The show begins with Ajay Pallegar and Tyler Nixon discussing the ongoing Trump hush money trial. 
Tyler Nixon continues the segment to weigh in on actors Robert De Niro and Dennis Quaid and their opinions on the U.S. elections. 
The second hour starts with RT journalist Mohamed Gomaa weighing in on the latest out of Israel’s onslaught of Rafah. 
Later, Managing Editor of Covert Action magazine Jeremy Kuzmarov shares his perspective on Biden moving closer to allowing Ukraine to attack Russian soil. 

If Trump Leaned Left, Democrats Would Love Him Too

            If you don’t understand your enemy and their motivations, Sun Tzu counseled, victory will elude you. Part of the reason Biden’s polls are so awful is that Democrats and their supporters don’t have a clue about what is driving Trump and his MAGA movement.

            The answer would shock many of them. Republican voters want the same thing as Democrats: a warrior. Republicans don’t much care whether their president or senator or congressman is a decent or law-abiding individual. They just want him to vote for the bills they agree with, and to push like hell to turn them into law.

            Evangelical Christians, the bedrock of the GOP base, embodies this seeming paradox. “It is odd,” The New Statesman muses, “to see a man who embodies so many sins—including all seven deadly ones; is there anyone who better exemplifies a noxious combination of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth?—be so widely embraced by the religious Right. This is a politician who has no home church and can’t name his favorite Bible verse.” White evangelicals went 84% for Trump in 2020, up from 77% in 2016 according to the Pew poll.

            And from their perspective, it paid off. Trump’s Supreme Court appointees, a trio of hard-core right-wingers, are why Roe v. Wade and the federal right to an abortion are no more.

            If they thought about it, Democrats would realize it’s not odd at all.

            Recently I noticed a photo I have of myself with the late Ted Kennedy, liberal lion of the U.S. Senate and perennial candidate for president. Kennedy’s personal life, particularly vis-à-vis women, was deplorable. I knew, everyone knew, about that when I went to work for his primary campaign against Jimmy Carter in 1980 and then when he tried again in 1984, and yet again when I met him at the ceremony where I received the RFK Journalism Award.

I didn’t care.

            I wouldn’t let my daughter catch a ride in Kennedy’s black Oldsmobile. So what? What mattered to me was not what he did as a private individual but how he voted and championed liberal values.

            Many women felt like that. “If you are sympathetic to Kennedy and his politics, Newsweek observed when Kennedy died in 2009, you were “willing to measure the benefits that Kennedy brought to countless people through his politics, and give them proper weight on the scales of the man’s record.”

            In 2004, when antiwar leftists and progressives disgusted by the then-popular Cult of George W. Bush and his lie-based invasion of Iraq were at their most desperate for a champion to walk tall, consequences be damned, Kennedy stood head and shoulders above his fellow Democrats. We thrilled as he dared to unleash his outrage against a GOP that hadn’t faced serious criticism since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

            “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam,” Kennedy said in one of his many famous speeches. “Truth is the first casualty of policy” when it came to Bush, he thundered. “This is the pattern and the record of the Bush administration [on] Iraq, jobs, Medicare, schools, issue after issue—mislead, deceive, make up the needed facts, smear the character of any critics. Again and again, we see this cynical, despicable strategy playing out.”

            Mitch McConnell (R-KY), then the Senate Majority Whip, blasted Kennedy as “vicious” and “outrageous.”

It is, however, no coincidence that Kennedy’s favorability polls peaked in 2004.

Liberals could sure use a warrior like Kennedy now.

If you can, try to imagine a Joe Biden with many of the same qualities and flaws of men like Ted Kennedy and Donald Trump. Let’s say that we knew for a fact that he repeatedly crept out on Jill with, among other people, a porn star. That he cheated people who worked for him. That he issued truly disgusting utterances, some of it racist. But that he was also indefatigably determined to push forward a far-left agenda whether or not the establishment was ready for it—socialized healthcare, free college, much higher minimum wage, legalized abortion at the federal level.

If you are tired of a Democratic Party that constantly seems to sell itself cheap to the Republicans, you might vote for that kind of Joe Biden.

Alternatively, what if Trump were the same exact person, but a warrior for the Left? Admit it—progressives would love him.

Of course, the real Joe Biden is not that different than the theoretical Joe “Mr. Hyde” Biden I just described—the bad part, anyway. A former Capitol Hill staffer accused Biden of sexual assault. So did other women. Like Trump, Biden credibly stands accused of corrupt business dealings. He launched his political career by defending segregated schools, engineered a racist crime bill that sent two generations of young Black men to prison for minor crimes and made numerous racist remarks.

Sadly, Biden isn’t enough of a warrior to justify turning a blind eye to his negatives. If he were, the extreme-right government of Israel would have to look somewhere else for the tens of billions of taxdollars Biden is sending them to help slaughter the Palestinians.

Even so, tens of millions of Democratic voters will do just that this November. Like the Trumpies, the Bidenites are overlooking their candidate’s flaws, not least of which is his alarming mental decline. Surely liberals should be able to see that, in this respect, they are exactly the same as the Republicans. But of course there is a difference. Unlike the Republicans who ignore Trump’s failings, Democrats who put their consciences on silent mode in order to vote for Biden are doing so without any indication that they will ever get anything back in return.

(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. His latest book, brand-new right now, is the graphic novel 2024: Revisited.)

The Final Countdown – 5/29/24 – Trump’s Hush Money Trial Enters Final Stage

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Ted Rall and Angie Wong discuss the latest from around the globe, including Trump’s hush money trial. 

Mitch Roschelle – Media commentator, podcaster 
Scott Stantis – Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune 
Sourabh Gupta – Senior Asia Pacific Int’l Relations Policy Expert 
Mark Sleboda – International relations and security analyst 
The show begins with media commentator Mitch Roschelle joining the show to discuss Trump’s trial as it comes to a close. 
Then, cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune Scott Stantis weighs in on RFK Jr.’s ongoing campaign as the candidate has his sights set on the CNN debate. 
The second hour starts with Sourabh Gupta, Senior Asia Pacific Int’l Relations Policy Expert, analyzing the rising tensions between Taiwan and China. 
The show closes with international relations and security analyst Mark Sleboda sharing his perspective on Ukraine’s upcoming ‘peace summit.’

The Final Countdown – 5/28/24 – Trump Trial Wraps Up, Libertarians Launch Nominee, Dems Worried About Biden

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss topics from around the globe, including the Trump trial wrapping up and the Libertarian National Convention. 

Craig “Pasta” Jardula – Political analyst, Podcast host 
Steve Hayes – Tax attorney 
Nebojsa Malic – RT journalist 
Robert Fantina – Author, journalist and activist 
The show begins with Craig “Pasta” Jardula, political analyst and podcast host, joining the show to discuss this past weekend’s Libertarian National Convention and their nomination of Chase Oliver for president. 
Then, tax attorney Steve Hayes analyzes the Trump trial in NYC as it comes to a close. 
The second hour starts with RT journalist Nebojsa Malic weighing in on the U.S. considering lifting a ban on Ukraine using American-supplied weapons on Russian soil. 

The show closes with author, journalist, and activist Robert Fantina sharing his perspective on Israel’s massacre of 45 Palestinians in Rafah as the government faces worldwide condemnation.


DMZ America Podcast #148: Israel the Pariah, Alito’s False Flags, Artificial Journalism

It’s the DMZ America podcast, where political cartoonists bring their smart takes on the news to spirited, intelligent, civilized dialogue from both sides of the political aisle. Ted Rall (WhoWhatWhy, Creators Syndicate) comes from the Left, Scott Stantis (Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News) comes from the Right and sparks fly.

First up: the guys react to the increasing diplomatic isolation of Israel, marked by the decision of the International Court of Justice to order Israel to stand down in the Gaza Strip, following on the heels of the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue a warrant for the arrest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Scott, a supporter of Israel, debates Israel’s intentions and war aims with Ted, a supporter of Palestinian emancipation.

Second: Scott’s expertise as a vexologist comes into play in light of Supreme Court Samuel Alito’s decision to fly flags associated with the extreme Right at his homes. How much should we make of Alito’s flag choices? Scott argues: a lot. Should he recuse himself from Trump’s Jan. 6th case?

Third: The Washington Post tries to solve its budgetary difficulties by putting A.I. “everywhere in the newsroom,” whatever that means. Considering that Google AI is a total disaster, this might need to be rethunk. Too bad a rich guy like Jeff Bezos can’t afford to save the paper.

Watch the Video Version: here.

(Video will be live approximately 6:30 Eastern Daylight time May 24th)

The Final Countdown – 5/24/24 – UN Court Orders Israel to Cease Rafah Offensive

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss a range of topics from around the globe, including ICJ ordering Israel to halt the offense of Rafah. 

Armen Kurdian – Political Commentator 
Jamie Finch – Former Director at the National Transportation Safety Board 
Gerald Celente – Trends journal publisher and founder of the Trends Journal Institute 
Mark Sleboda – International relations and security analyst 
The show begins with political commentator Armen Kurdian weighing in on Hunter Biden’s legal woes, including his upcoming trials. 
Then, former National Transportation Safety Jamie Finch shares his perspective on the Norfolk Southern settlement, agreeing to pay $310 million over the Ohio train derailment in East Palestine. 
The second hour starts with Trends Journal publisher Gerald Celente on Senator Schumer vying to invite Netanyahu to Congress and ICJ ordering Israel to stop its offensive on Rafah. 
The show closes with international relations and security analyst Mark Sleboda sharing his perspective on the arrest of Russia’s deputy defense minister and the latest out of Ukraine. 

My Stolen Rent Check Shows Why America Is Broken

           When my landlord’s management company informed me that they hadn’t received my rent check, I was surprised. As for most Americans, housing is by far my biggest expense. So of course I noticed when the money vanished from my account. The mystery deepened when I conjured up an image of the canceled check on my bank’s website. There was my check, canceled and endorsed. I sent a screenshot to my management company.

            Look closer, they responded. We didn’t cash it. That’s the signature of some random person—not us.

            So it was. How could my bank clear a check for thousands of dollars made out to a company like “XYZ Management Corp.” but endorsed by a completely unrelated individual—one who doesn’t work there, natch—like “John Smith”? What were my rights in this situation? The answers to those two questions provide insight into state of a country that has lost its way.

            There is a prequel to the first question: how did the thief access my check?

I mailed the check from the mailbox right in front of my local post office. (This, banks say, is a best practice. Clearly not.) When I inserted the envelope, the slot felt weird. I shoved it in as much as I could but I wasn’t sure it went all the way in. Turns out there is a “mail fishing” scam where miscreants put something sticky at the opening of the mailbox and scoop out items like my rent check. It’s one thing to try something like that on a box in the middle of nowhere but here we’re talking about a box a few feet from the door to a Manhattan post office. When thieves are this brazen, law and order is breaking down.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the USPS made mail fishing easier when they replaced the old-fashioned swivel openings up their drop boxes with those with skinny slots, which only take letters, in response to the fear that terrorists like the one who blew up TWA Flight 800 in 1996 would use them to mail package bombs. Actually, neither mail nor terrorists had anything to do with the crash of Flight 800. The impetus for this change was the post-disaster diktat that Postal Service customers could no longer mail items heavier than 16 ounces from letterboxes. The government solved a nonexistent problem and created a new, real one.

Half a lifetime ago, I was a banker. Back in the 1980s, there was no way any bank would clear a check that wasn’t endorsed by the payee. Forgers had to work for their/your money.

Some scoundrels still display good old American ingenuity. They wash your check and change the amount from, say $9 to $9,000, and alter the payee to themselves. But that wasn’t the case with my check. The payee remained the same. The rent was substantial to begin with; besides, when I saw the correct amount of my check go out of my account it didn’t arouse suspicion for weeks, allowing plenty of time for the thief to move my money elsewhere.

The person who stole my check deposited it via a mobile app. Check fraud through mobile banking is costing the banking system over $1 billion a year. And, like mine, many of these bad checks are so poorly executed that any moron who looked at it would flag it. The problem is, no one is looking—only a computer.

You really have to wonder whether this technology is ready for prime time. A 2021 story from Indianapolis is typical: “The type font used to alter the information on the [fraudulent] checks is clearly different than the type used on the rest of each document. And one of the photocopied checks shows the name and address of the original payee were sloppily covered by strips of paper that the perpetrator cut and pasted onto the altered document. As far as con-jobs go, this wasn’t even a good one.” The other culprit is bank executives. Technology that automatically scans for tells like this is available—but it’s more expensive. Those ridiculous bonuses aren’t going to pay for themselves.

A friend in college had a night job clearing checks for a small bank in New Jersey. All the checks went through a scanning machine but the larger sums were personally handled by a human being: Jim. Jim was handsomely paid so, naturally, all the Jims have been replaced by machines. But, like Google AI, the machines don’t do a very good job.

If banks are so allergic to hiring actual people that they’re willing to absorb the resulting cash shrinkage, so be it. But they’re not. They’d rather pass on the cost of the grift to us.

I would name my bank here­—but that would only expose me to more bank fraud.

As soon as I became aware that my rent check had been stolen, I got on the phone with customer service. Not only was there no option in the phone tree to report fraud, there was no option to talk to a human being. I hit “0” several times, cursing loudly, and eventually was put through to someone in, I’m guessing South Asia, who had a lovely lilting accent I could hardly understand. She made me understand the bank would mail me an affidavit to sign and return. Which they did, though it contained several major errors. After an investigation, a process that takes months, I may or may not get back my money—which, remember, the bank gave away to some idiot without exercising the slightest iota of due diligence to make sure it was a legitimate transaction. But this should be their problem, not mine. Given that this was 100% their mistake, shouldn’t they have credited my account and gone after the rapscallion themselves? (For the record, I would be happy to testify against this creep in court.)

When the form arrived, I made my way to my local branch where an officer informed me about their hilariously Kafkaesque policy. Closing your account is a major pain, requiring you to notify all your direct depositors and automatic withdrawals of your new account information. But if you refuse, the bank will not consider refunding the lost money unless you sign a form indemnifying them for any and all fraud of any kind in perpetuity. As a worker in the dying field of journalism, I don’t think indemnifying a large transnational bank is smart. Obviously, closing the account is the right move. But if you close your account, the bank said, they have no way to return the stolen money. I asked them to close it anyway—but they can’t due to “pending transactions.” Which won’t clear because the account is blocked.

It’s really quite beautiful, an enigma wrapped in a paradox smeared with poo.
            Just another indignity suffered by just a typical consumer in the naked city. And it explains everything that’s wrong with this country: humans replaced by robotic morons, American jobs outsourced to foreign incompetents, systems designed for abuse, security measures that make things less secure, corporations that never accept blame for their mistakes, all the weight of the screw-ups placed on the shoulders of individuals who can’t afford it.

To my landlord: Hopefully I’ll get your/my money back in three months.

            (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 – 5/22/24 – Fani Willis Wins Democratic Primary, Trump Legal Saga Continues

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss a variety of current events, including Trump’s legal saga and Fani Wilis winning the Democratic primary. 

Scottie Nell Hughes – Veteran political commentator 
Jamie Finch – Former Director at the National Transportation Safety Board
Esteban Carrillo – Editor of The Cradle, Beirut-based journalist 
George Szamuely – Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute 
The show kicks off with political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes sharing her perspective on President Biden’s plummeting approval ratings. 
Then, Jamie Finch weighs in on the flight turbulence that tragically resulted in the death of a Singapore Airlines passenger and injured 20 others. 
The second hour begins with Beirut-based journalist Esteban Carrillo discussing the latest out of Gaza amid the latest ICC arrest warrants against Netanyahu and other top Israeli and Hamas officials. 
The show closes with Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute George Szamuely discussing the WEF executive stepping down.