DMZ America Podcast #101: Trump Returns, Biden’s Brewing Scandals, Behind the Pulitzers

As the 2024 presidential campaign begins in earnest, political cartoonist Ted Rall, (from the Left) and Scott Stantis (from the Right) dig into what looks like an 1892-style political rematch, between former and possibly future President Donald Trump, and current President Joe Biden.

Trump appeared on CNN for the first time since 2016, at a raucous town hall meeting that received widespread criticism from liberals and their mainstream media allies. He advised congressional Republicans to be willing to risk default in the debt-limit crisis, signaled that he would reduce or eliminate military aid to Ukraine, and made fun of Jean Carroll, the columnist who won $5 million from a jury that found him liable for sexual battery and defamation. Trump is just Trump being Trump as usual, but what else did we expect? The question now is, will old Trump 2016 win, or will old Trump 2020 lose?

The Republican-controlled House oversight committee has its sights set firmly on the current president, Joe Biden, the First Lady and other members of his family. The first family acquired $13 million from unknown sources a few years ago, and Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop seems to indicate that the money may have originated from covert and corrupt sources in places like Romania, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and China. If the president really accepted bribes and kickbacks from foreign countries, this could be the biggest scandal in American presidential history.

Columbia University announced the winners of the Pulitzer Prizes earlier this week, and with all such pomposity, there’s a lot less than meets the eye to the proceedings. Scott and Ted dish on everything you need to know about how this particular sausage is made, as well as the self-dealing and conflicts of interest on a staggering scale.

Watch the Video Version of the DMZ America Podcast:

DMZ America Podcast Ep 101 Sec 1: Trump Returns

DMZ America Podcast Ep 101 Sec 2: Biden’s Brewing Scandals

DMZ America Podcast Ep 101 Sec 3: Behind the Pulitzers

Final Countdown – 5/11/23 – Migrants Gather on the U.S.-Mexico Border as Title 42 Expires

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Manila Chan and Ted Rall discuss top news, such as the expiration of Title 42 and the migration crisis in the U.S. 
Susan Pai, Immigration Attorney
Mark Sleboda: International Relations and Security Analyst
Armen Kurdian: Retired Navy Captain, Former Political Candidate in CA, Conservative Commentator
Melik Abdul: Cohost of Fault Lines
Scott Stantis: Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune

In the first half hour, the hosts were joined by Immigration Attorney Susan Pai, who discussed the lifting of Title 42 and migration in the U.S. 
In the second half of the hour, International Relations and Security Analyst Mark Sleboda joined to talk about Russia’s withdrawal from the Conventional Armed Forces Treaty. 
In the last hour, The Final Countdown talked to Armen Kurdian, Retired Navy Captain, Former Political Candidate in CA, and Conservative Commentator about allegations against the Biden family of foreign influence. 
Later in the hour, The Final Countdown was joined by a cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune Scott Stantis along with Melik Abdul, the Cohost of Fault Lines about Trump’s CNN town hall. 

The Final Countdown – 3/9/23 – Immigration Crisis Worsens as Title 42 Nears Expiration

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Manila Chan and Ted Rall discuss hot topics, such as the immigration crisis in the U.S. Nebojsa Malic, Serbian-American journalist, blogger, and translator

Sabrina Salvati: Boston-based activist, podcaster, Member of Revolutionary Blackout Network 

Mitch Roschelle: Media Commentator, Podcaster, Public Speaker  

John Kirakou: Former CIA Officer, Co-Host of Political Misfits 

Lee Stranahan: Sputnik News Analyst and Host of The Back Story 

In the first half hour, the hosts were joined by Nebojsa Malic, a Serbian-American journalist, who discussed Victory Day in Russia. 

Later in the first half, Boston-based activist Sabrina Salvati who is a member of the Revolutionary Blackout Network joined to talk about the migration crisis in the U.S. 

In the second half of the hour, Mitch Roschelle, Thought Leader, Podcaster, and Public Speaker, joins to talk about the debt ceiling. 

In the last hour, The Final Countdown talked to John Kirakou, former CIA officer and co-host of Political Misfits about Julian Assange and Freedom of Press Day.  

Later in the hour, The Final Countdown was joined by Lee Stranahan, Sputnik News analyst and Host of The Back Story to talk about RFK Jr.’s claims about CIA involvement in the JFK assassination.

The Final Countdown – 5/8/23 – Biden’s Approval Rating Plummets: Can He Beat Trump?

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Manila Chan and Ted Rall discuss breaking news, such as the plummeting of Biden’s approval ratings. Scott Stantis, Cartoonist for Chicago Tribune

Jamarl Thomas: Co-host of Fault Lines 

Afshin Rattansi: Host of Going Underground 

Mark Sleboda: International Relations and Security Analyst 

In the first half hour, the hosts were joined by Scott Stantist, a Cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, who discussed Biden’s approval ratings, and if he can beat Trump. 

In the second half of the hour, Jamarl Thomas, Co-host of Fault Lines, joins to talk about the new Ministry of Truth. 

In the last hour, The Final Countdown talked to Afshin Rattansi, Host of Going Underground, about Syria re-joining The Arab League. 

Later in the hour, The Final Countdown was joined by International Relations and Security Analyst Mark Sleboda about the Wagner Group staying in Bakhmut.

Joe Biden and the Democrats: A Slow-Motion Train Wreck of Their Own Making

           A new Washington Post-ABC News poll places the President’s approval rating at a record low, 36%. In the modern era, no president has been reelected with numbers like these.

            58% of Democrats want their party to nominate someone other than Joe Biden in 2024. Of Democrats.

            If the election were held today, Donald Trump would beat Joe Biden by four points.

            Only 32% of voters think Biden has sufficient mental sharpness to do a president’s job.

            This, as grim is it all is, is the good news. Enjoy, Democrats! Because it’s downhill from here. The economy is, as usual stupid, the biggest issue; just as the campaign begins this fall, so will a recession, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. Then there’s Hunter Biden’s pesky laptop, the gift that keeps on giving to the Republicans. Whether Joe proves to be “the big guy” who gets slices of kickbacks or the $13 million that mysteriously wound up in his bank account in 2017 and 2018 turns out to be a bribe paid by an Uzbekistani telecom or some other scandal related to the crack-addict deadbeat-dad son who refuses to shut up, it’s beginning to smell a lot like whoop-ass.

            Biden reminds me of the classic “Tales from the Darkside” episode in which a grandfather is too stubborn to admit that he’s dead even as chunks of flesh slip off his face. The American people have a clear, loud message for the president, which he refuses to hear: we hired you for one term. Which is kind of what he promised.

            It isn’t, of course, too late to reverse course. Nothing prevents the president from announcing: “Well, on second thought, actually I’d like to spend more time with my great-great-grandchildren.” Who knows? With Joe an officially lame duck, Kamala Harris might step up and impress us with her border czarina gig—or her new AI thingie.

            Could be he’s up to some 17-dimensional chess, as suggested by my fellow Centerclip contributor Rina Shah. Shah recently mused, and I think she’s on to something, that Biden officially announced in order to clear the field of Democratic competitors and set the stage for him to anoint his chosen successor whether they be Harris or someone less impressively unpopular. Such political bait-and-switch would be a new low—but don’t forget, we are talking about a guy who got 51 former intelligence officers to manipulate a presidential election for him, while risking World War III.

            Short of these two options, what can an incumbent president who is disliked, disrespected and deemed to be dim, do to dodge defeat?

            We know what Democrats plan to do: what worked in 2020.

            Biden will point out that he’s not Trump. “Compare him to the alternative,” Biden surrogate Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) says. He won’t campaign. “Frankly, the best way to run for re-election as president is to be president,” Coons argues. He’ll avoid debating his Democratic primary challengers. He’ll hope Trump goes to prison (as if the legal system could act quickly).

            But 2024 isn’t 2020. The pandemic is over. America is outside again. Americans expect their president to be out there with them.

            “Watch me. It’s all I can say.” That’s what Biden says whenever a reporter asks whether he’s too old for his job. Trouble for him is, we have been watching—for three years—and the results are in that Washington Post-ABC News poll. Fair or not, we don’t like what we see.

            Biden and the Democrats can’t talk their way out of the widespread perception that the president is past his due date. Cries of “ageism” are falling on deaf ears, including among the 62% of voters over age 65 who think Biden is too old. There’s one possible solution: stop hidin’ Biden.

            Put the President out in front of the White House press corps every single day of the week, fielding unscripted questions, no cheatsheets allowed. Have him do weekly town halls, including in hostile Republican territory. Grant presidential interviews to vicious right-wingers like Sean Hannity—and don’t forget left-wing progressives. If Biden does all that for months on end and manages to hold his own, he might turn some of us into believers.

            Biden’s staffers and advisers, many of whom worked for Obama, are not stupid people. They know what must be done to save this doomed reelection campaign. Unfortunately, they know they can’t do it. Biden isn’t up to a tough race.

            So here the Democrats go, eyes wide-open, standing like idiots on the tracks as the train appears in the distance and slowly draws nearer. Disaster is as avoidable as can be. They can amble off those tracks any time. All they have to do to save themselves is make a move.

            Right now, they’re paralyzed.

(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 and co-hosts “The Final Countdown” radio show Mon-Fri 10 am – 12 noon ET. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

“Final Countdown” Radio Show for 5/5/23: What is the Future of the Ukrainian-Russian Grain Deal?

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Manila Chan and Ted Rall discuss top news, such as the future of the Ukraine-Russia Grain Deal. 

Steve Gill, Attorney and CEO of Gill Media
David Tawil: Co-founder of ProChain Capital 
Susan Pai: Immigration Attorney 
Mark Sleboda: International Relations and Security Analyst 
In the first half hour, the hosts were joined by Steve Gill, Attorney and CEO of Gill Media, who talked about the allegations of Biden’s bribery. 
In the second half of the hour, David Tawil, Co-founder of ProChain Capital, joins to talk about PacWest Bank and Western Alliance Bank shares plummeting.  
In the last hour, The Final Countdown talked to immigration attorney Susan Pai about Florida’s new anti-immigration bill. 
Later in the hour, The Final Countdown was joined by International Relations and Security Analyst Mark Sleboda about the Wagner Group withdrawal of Bakhmut and Russia’s grain deal with Ukraine.

DMZ America Podcast #100 | May 4, 2023: Making the Case for Third Party Candidates, Criminal Trials Are Endangered, on This, Our 100th Episode Scott and Ted Explain Why They Podcast

Gail Collins, columnist for the New York Times, writes that if you don’t like the choice of Biden or Trump TOUGH! Don’t you dare vote for a third party! American Editorial Cartoonists Ted Rall (from the Left) and Scott Stantis (from the Right) strongly disagree with her and make the case for voting and supporting third party candidates. Next, NPR and other news organizations are reporting that trial by jury is becoming less and less common. This is bad for you and bad for a justice system that gets worse and worse every year. Lastly, Ted and Scott celebrate their 100th episode of the DMZ America Podcast by discussing why they do it, and announce plans for future podcasts they know will interest you. You really should listen.

Watch the Video Version of the DMZ America Podcast:

DMZ America Podcast Ep 100 Sec 1: Making the Case for Third Party Candidates

DMZ America Podcast Ep 100 Sec 2: Criminal Trials Are Endangered

DMZ America Podcast Ep 100 Sec 3: Scott and Ted Explain Why They Podcast

America’s Bizarro Take on Guantánamo: Punish the Victims, Reward the Criminals

           A country that loudly and repeatedly expresses what it purports to be its principles, yet cavalierly ignores them on a whim, rightly earns the contempt of its own citizens and those of other nations, especially when the hypocritical government of that nation criticizes others for failing to adhere to their pompously proclaimed rules-based international order.

            Guantánamo Bay concentration camp epitomizes this phenomenon.

            Now in its third decade of operation under four presidents, Gitmo still houses 30 men. None of them has ever been charged in a court of law. Indeed, none of them ever will. It is a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence that we are all, citizens and non-citizens alike, presumed innocent until proven guilty. Which makes all 30 prisoners, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as innocent as a newborn child as far as the law is concerned.

            For whatever it’s worth, the Pentagon itself says it has no evidence that half of these people committed a crime. They are all cleared for release, but the U.S. refuses to admit them and no other country has issued an invitation.

            These 30 innocent men and the 750 others who have cycled through and subsequently been released were kidnapped (after having been sold for a bounty in many cases), deprived of their constitutional right to a speedy trial and their right to legal counsel, tortured in order to deprive them of their right not to incriminate themselves, prohibited from receiving visits from family members and blocked from using a telephone. Unsurprisingly, the Red Cross has determined that these innocent men are “experiencing the symptoms of accelerated aging worsened by the cumulative effect of their experiences and years spent in detention.”

            According to The New York Times: “Lawyers for some of the prisoners, particularly those who spent years in harsh, secret CIA custody before Guantánamo, have said detainees have brain damage and disorders from blows and sleep deprivation, damaged gastrointestinal systems from rectal abuse and issues possibly linked to prolonged shackling and other confinement.”

            Linger on that: damaged gastrointestinal systems from rectal abuse. Nice rules-based international order you got there, Uncle Sam.

            Though he hasn’t made it a priority, President Biden would like to close Guantánamo. Toward that end, the military has talked to lawyers for some detainees. “Settlement talks are underway at the U.S. military court in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would allow alleged 9/11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants to plead guilty, avoid the death penalty, and serve life in prison—although some of them may try to negotiate lesser sentences,” NPR reported a year ago. There’s been no word since.

            This is an obscenity. A law-abiding society doesn’t negotiate a reduced sentence for innocent men. Innocent men are released. Innocent men released after having been mistreated are compensated financially and otherwise for having been abused and deprived of their rights.

            The Gitmo 30 should be released and brought to the United States if their home countries don’t want them or it’s dangerous for them to go back. They and the 750 former detainees should be housed, given healthcare and treatment for mental trauma, jobs if they want them, as well as generous financial compensation. The federal standard for compensating the wrongfully imprisoned is $50,000 per year of incarceration plus an additional amount for time spent on death row. Conditions at Guantánamo demand more.

            We do, however, need to punish those at Guantánamo—not the prisoners, who are innocent victims, but the guards and commanding officers. Anyone who has served at Guantánamo concentration camp is guilty of kidnapping, punishable by up to 20 years in prison under federal law. If two or more people conspire to commit kidnapping, which is plainly the case here, they face life imprisonment.

Everyone involved in keeping innocent people confined at Guantánamo should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This includes the last four presidents of the United States, generals, and others in the chain of command down to the guards, as well as lawyers like John Yoo, who authored convoluted legal opinions justifying kidnapping and torture. Let’s not forget the CIA agent-torturers who gleefully carried out “enhanced interrogation techniques” as well as their superior officers. Hey Democrats! Really want to get rid of Donald Trump? Here’s your chance.

Writing an essay like this annoys me. Calling for justice for the wronged and accountability for the evildoers, and pointing out that people are innocent until proven guilty, is kindergarten editorial commentary that takes away time and energy I ought to be devoting to complex policy issues. These concepts are so simple and self-evident that there should be no more need to express them than to announce in a newspaper that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning.

Yet I have to do it. No one else is talking about Gitmo. The American people don’t think, much less care, about what’s being done in their name and at their expense. Reality has been turned inside-out so thoroughly that seemingly otherwise sane journalists don’t see anything strange about America having its very own concentration camp, where 30 innocent people are trying to negotiate life imprisonment instead of execution, while those who actually committed crimes have suffered no punishment whatsoever. One torturer was subsequently appointed to run the CIA and is now a big-deal lawyer, while another is a top contender for the U.S. presidency!

The U.S. keeps talking about human rights—in other countries. People might start to pay attention if it closed Guantánamo, released its victims and prosecuted its employees.

(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 and co-hosts “The Final Countdown” radio show Mon-Fri 10 am – 12 noon ET. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Biden’s Reelection Campaign Begins Unimpressively

           Coupled with leaks from inside his campaign, President Joe Biden’s announcement video indicates the general tenor and strategy of his upcoming reelection bid.

            Biden’s messaging is especially notable for what it’s missing.

            Absent from the voiceovers and images is a reference to the COVID-19 crisis. Biden was arguably elected in the first place in large part, if not primarily, in reaction to Donald Trump’s inexplicable attacks on science and common sense in the face of the coronavirus. Biden took office after hundreds of thousands of Americans had died, presided over distribution of vaccines and billions of dollars in federal aid to employers and workers who might otherwise have been financially obliterated, and declared an end to the emergency. You’d think he’d take a wholly-justified victory lap. Perhaps his team believes a mention of the American Rescue Plan would trigger accusations that the stimulus package triggered inflation.

            There’s still time. Anyway, like it or not, Republicans will make the economy their top issue. If I were Biden, I’d have a simple response to the inflation question: which would you choose? Losing your job and therefore 100% of your earning power? Or dealing with inflation and losing 10%? Republicans wouldn’t have done anything to help you. Thanks to me, there are “help wanted” ads all over the place instead of bread lines. You’re welcome.

            Trump, of course, was also silent about the best part of his record in 2020. A President Hillary Clinton would have been far more cautious and slower, dotting every I and crossing every T with the FDA and so would have fallen short of the remarkable achievement of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. Trump’s decision to play exclusively to his right-wing base, running away from his big win, cost him votes even among people whose lives were saved by his gamble.

            Also missing from Biden’s rap is Ukraine, where he is fully vested in that proxy war to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. No doubt, falling support among voters for arming and funding Ukraine is responsible for that omission. Americans like a winner and hate a loser; results of this summer’s fighting will impact the race.

            The most glaring absence, of course, is any indication of what Biden will do to improve the lives of voters and the people they care about should he win reelection. In the old days, we called these statements “campaign promises.” Are Democrats worried that Biden wouldn’t be able to fulfill his pledges because Republicans might control one or both houses of Congress after 2024? Do they want voters to forget the promises he flaked out on last time—a $15-an-hour minimum wage, a legislative push for student loan forgiveness (as opposed to the half-hearted, clearly doomed-from-the-start executive order), a legal path to citizenship for undocumented workers? Whatever the reason, substituting vague pabulum like “I’d like to finish the job” in place of an actual platform violates Electoral Politics 101. Why should people vote for you if you aren’t promising anything new and improved?

            Biden has one thing right: abortion will be a good issue for Democrats. 85% of Americans, a record high, now support, abortion rights with or without exceptions. Republican actions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, reek of right-wing overreach, making even evangelical Christian conservatives uncomfortable. Pregnant women—including those who spent tens of thousands of dollars undergoing in vitro fertilization—have nearly died since the Dobbs decision prompted doctors to wait to abort their fetuses until they were coding. Each case like this makes for a potentially devastating Democratic attack ad—just wait until the first death.

            Perhaps the biggest misfire in the 2024 cycle thus far has been Biden’s hammering away against “extreme MAGA Republicans,” often in conjunction with footage from the January 6th Capitol riot. American elections are always about the future, never the past, and in a country as ahistorical as this one three years had might as well be an eternity. January 6th was a shameful and embarrassing chapter in history, but it’s no more worth wallowing in than were the September 11th terrorist attacks, which we have finally managed to put behind us. It wasn’t a coup d’état, it wasn’t an insurrection, we weren’t close to dictatorship and Biden looks silly when he says otherwise.

            To the extent that January 6th offers red meat to the Democratic voting base, its negative potency is stronger still. The tiny subset of protesters who invaded the Capitol building cannot reasonably tarnish the thousands more attendees who attended and did not go inside, much less Republican voters or Trump supporters as a whole, yet it’s impossible to interpret the implication any other way. The problem for Biden is not that a base strategy turns off swing voters—there are so few of them, it’s high time for Democrats to start ignoring them anyway—but rather that refusing to shut up about January 6th energizes the GOP by feeding their narrative that they are beleaguered by evil coastal elites and demoralizes progressive voters, who yearn for a party that fights for significant policy change rather than bickering over symbolism.

(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.)

DMZ America Podcast #99: Biden Runs Again, Tucker & Lemon Out, Minnesota Throws Granny Under the Train

Award-winning political cartoonists Ted Rall (from the Left) and Scott Stantis (from the Right) analyze an eventful week’s breaking news and current events on the DMZ America podcast.

President Joe Biden released a video on Tuesday announcing his bid to run for reelection next year. Scott and Ted discuss what’s missing from the video—promises, bragging about low unemployment, Ukraine—and what it portends for the Democrats’ campaign strategy. An 1892-style rematch, between the President and former President Donald Trump, both very old men, now looks all but certain.  Is this what democracy looks like?

On Monday cable news networks gave the axe to two bold-face names in opinion journalism, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and CNN’s Don Lemon. Did Dominion Voting Systems negotiate Tucker’s head on a plate as part of its $787 million settlement with Fox? Did CNN use Tucker’s demise to bury its decision to part ways with its gay Black morning anchor? What does it say about corporate media and what happens to both men now?

A Minnesota grandmother, 94, is poised to receive justice from a sympathetic Supreme Court after county tax officials seized her condo over $2300 in unpaid property taxes and pocketed that along with $40,000 in equity just because they could, Constitution and property rights be damned. Scott and Ted go over the state’s increasing tendency to steal individual property via the government’s wide-scale abuse of eminent domain and civil asset forfeiture laws. How long will Americans put up with official thievery?



Watch the DMZ America Podcast – Video Version:

DMZ America Podcast Ep 99 Sec 1: Biden Is Running Again

DMZ America Podcast Ep 99 Sec 2: Tucker and Lemon Get the Axe

DMZ America Podcast Ep 99 Sec 3: Government Is Stealing Our Property