The Final Countdown – 2/8/23 – Landmark Case: U.S. Supreme Court to Decide on Trump’s Ballot Fate

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss top news from around the globe. 
Gerald Celente – Founder of the Trends Research Institute, Trends Journal Publisher
Mitch Roschelle – Media Commentator
Dan Lazare – Independent journalist and author 
Jeremy Kuzmarov – Managing Editor, Covert Action Magazine 

 
The show begins with the Founder of the Trends Research Institute Gerald Celente, who shares his perspective on Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Putin. 
 
Then, Mitch Roschelle, a media commentator, weighs in on the U.S. Department of Justice not filing charges against President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents.  
 
The second hour begins with Dan Lazare, an independent journalist, sharing his insights on the 14th Amendment case against Trump. 
 
The show closes with Managing Editor for Covert Action Magazine Jeremy Kuzmarov, to discuss Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to negotiate a ceasefire. 
 

DMZ America Podcast #135: 14th Amendment at SCOTUS, Putin Speaks, Predicting 2024

Editorial cartoonists Ted Rall (from the political Left) and Scott Stantis (from the political Right) discuss the week’s biggest stories without the boring yell fests but with force and passion.

First up this week: The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the groundbreaking attempt by Colorado voters to remove Donald Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Scott and Ted dissect the arguments pro and con and explain how they would resolve the impossible choice faced by SCOTUS: put the law first, or the country.

Second: Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin will prove especially notable for Americans’ unfiltered chance to hear firsthand about Russia’s views on the war in Ukraine. Scott and Ted explain where we are now and lay out possible scenarios for the inevitable peace negotiations now that it is clear that Ukraine has decidedly lost.

Third: Alan Lichtman’s 1981 13-point theory on predicting presidential elections based on historical metrics gives Scott and Ted a chance to geek out over the current 2024 campaign.

 

Watch the Video Version of the DMZ America Podcast: here.

The Final Countdown – 2/7/24 – Nikki Haley Fails in Primary Despite Running Unopposed

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss current events from around the world. 

 
Andrew Langer – President of the Institute for Liberty, Director of CPAC Foundation’s Center for Regulatory Freedom 

Scott Stantis – Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune 
Ajay Pallegar – Criminal and civil attorney 
Nebojsa Malic – RT Journalist 
 
The show starts with President of the Institute for Liberty, Andrew Langer, who shares his perspective on the Nevada primaries, and presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s loss. 
 
Then, Scott Stantis joins the show to discuss Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Putin. 
 
The second hour begins with Ajay Pallegar, a criminal and civil attorney, sharing his legal expertise on the ruling that strips Trump of presidential immunity. 
 
The show closes with journalist Nebojsa Malic who weighs in on the possibility of a ceasefire deal in Gaza.
 
 

The Final Countdown – 2/5/24 – Migrant Deal and Budget in Limbo as Congress Remains Deadlocked

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss breaking news domestically and abroad, including the Congressional Budget and the U.S. migrant deal. 

 
Dan Lazare – Independent journalist and author 

Armen Kurdian –  Retired Navy Captain 
Jeremy Kuzmarov – Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine 
 
The show starts with independent journalist and author Dan Lazare, who weighs in on the Congressional Budget debacle, including House GOP’s robust Israel aid bill.  
 
Then, Retired Navy Captain Armen Kurdian shares his perspective on Biden’s win in the South Carolina primary, and the rising discontent over the president among the Left. 
 
The second hour begins with Jeremy Kuzmarov, the managing editor of CovertAction Magazine discussing the U.S. airstrikes on Iraq and Syria. 
 
 

What’s Left 2: We’re a Rich Country. Let’s Act Like It.

            Lyndon Johnson, cautioned that his support of the Civil Rights Act was too bold and politically risky, famously responded: “What else is the presidency for?”

            The United States of America is one of the richest, if not the richest, nation-state in the history of the world. It also is the most unequal. So its people live in misery and squalor. What else is a country’s spectacular wealth for, other than to provide a high standard of living for its citizens?

            A Leftist economic programme should begin with the government’s budget. How should revenues be collected, and from whom? How should the money be spent? The Left must articulate a holistic approach to the federal budget.

            According to the U.S. Treasury’s website: “The federal government collects revenue from a variety of sources, including individual income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, and excise taxes. It also collects revenue from services like admission to national parks and customs duties.” This came to $4.44 trillion in 2023. The biggest source of this cash bonanza was income taxes.

            In addition, states and cities took in about $2 trillion.

            $6 trillion is, to state the most obviously obvious thing in the world, a staggering enormous amount of money. Yet we rarely take a beat to take in that fact.

            Part of the reason is that it doesn’t feel like we live in a rich country with a huge amount of taxes coming into its coffers. It sure doesn’t look like one. People sleep on the streets. Factories are abandoned. Schools are worn. Hospitals are chaotic, understaffed and depressing. Storefronts are boarded up. Litter abounds. Bridges collapse, subways derail, doors fall off airplanes, high-speed rail and free college and affordable healthcare are for other countries.

            Why can’t we have nice things? One can blame cycles and systems: late-stage capitalism, the duopoly, the corrupt revolving door between business and the government officials who are supposed to regulate them. Fundamentally, the answer boils down to bad priorities. The people in charge would rather spend our money on the things that they care about than what we want and need: sending weapons to other countries instead of feeding the poor, tax breaks for corporations rather than treating young men addicted to opioids, building more prisons in lieu of hiring social workers.

            Reordering a society’s social and economic priorities is a complex task. To keep things relatively simple let’s set aside the comparatively lesser and infinitely more diffuse state and local budgets in order to focus upon the federal budget—round it up to $5 trillion—as the principal engine in the Left’s proposed shift of the U.S. to a country that puts people first. Further to the goal of simplification let’s assume that overall revenues remain flat in real terms adjusted for inflation—no tax cuts or hikes, no significant changes in tariffs like a trade war.

            The most recent U.S. military budget, for 2024, comes in at $886 billion—by far the biggest expense, and greater than all other federal spending combined. And that’s radically understating the real cost of militarism. As the socialist journal Monthly Review calculates, when you include costs associated with medical and other expenses related to veterans, debt service on deficit spending for old wars and military aid to foreign countries, the real number doubles. So the actual 2024 total is closer to $1.6 trillion.

            Recognizing that nothing makes us less safe than a forward, aggressive military posture in which U.S. forces and proxies are stationed around the globe. They are sitting ducks and provocateurs. A Left worthy of its name favors a military apparatus capable of defending the U.S.—nothing more, nothing less. We need missile defenses, border protections, a naval force to protect our coasts, the kind of domestically-focused armed forces that could have effectively responded to the 9/11 attacks. Given our exceptionally secure geographical situation, surrounded by two vast oceans and directly bordered only by two nations, both close allies, we can get defense—the real thing, not what the hegemony we buy with the Department of Defense—on the cheap.

            Chalmers Johnson, the academic and great critic of the American empire, called the Pentagon to ask for a list of its overseas bases; not only could they not produce such a list, they could only estimate the number. (It’s 800, more or less.) Not knowing how many bases you are is a major sign of overextension. So is the reaction, when learning that one of your country’s soldiers has been killed in combat, of surprise that we were in that nation in the first place. We should close every last one and bring every last soldier and sailor home.

            Brazil, a regional superpower that is bigger than the contiguous 48 states, has a military budget of $20 billion. That’s a rounding error, 2.5% of ours. Of course, Brazil doesn’t wage wars or plant bases on the opposite side of the planet—and neither should we. We can spend that 97.5% of that $1.6 trillion on stuff that helps rather than kills.

            Next week, a look at other federal budget expenses the Left should slash so we can redirect those precious funds to addressing our wants and needs.

(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 #133: Biden’s Bad Good Economy & Death Cab for Print Media

Political Cartoonists Ted Rall (from the Left) and Scott Stantis (from the Right) discuss the week in politics, current events and culture. This time, the guys start out wondering about the state of the economy and the 2024 presidential campaign. Though Biden has pulled ahead of Trump in national polls, key swing states Biden needs to win continue to support Trump. One of the big reasons give is that they’re unhappy with the state of the economy. But unemployment is low, wages are high and inflation is easing. Why are Americans pissed? We have answers.

The month of January saw major layoffs at legacy media companies like the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated and Pitchfork. Is there a future for journalism, and if so what does it look like?

Watch the Video Version: here.

The Final Countdown – 1/31/24 – The Squad Faces Backlash Over Loyalty and Expenses

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss various current events domestically and abroad, including a U.S. congresswoman facing backlash over her expenses. 

Ajay Pallegar – Criminal and civil attorney and political analyst 

Steve Gill –  Attorney and CEO of Gill Media 
Michael Maloof – Former Pentagon official 
Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston – Pastor, Civil rights leader  
 
The show starts with Ajay Pallegar, a criminal and civil attorney, talking about the Fulton County prosecutor, Nathan Wade settling his divorce and dodging his testimony on District Attorney Fani Willis. 
 
Then, attorney Steve Gill discusses the investigation of U.S. Congresswoman Cori Bush on her use of funds. 
 
The second hour begins with former Pentagon official Michael Maloof, who shares his perspective on the ongoing escalation in the Middle East, and if Biden will attack Iran. 
 
The show closes with Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, a civil rights leader in New York City, who discusses Trump’s civil fraud trial.

The Final Countdown – 1/30/24 – United Airlines Navigates Boeing Woes: Explores Possible Airbus Deal

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss current events worldwide, including United Airlines and its Boeing woes. 

Jamie Finch –  Former Director, National Transportation Safety Board 
Tyler Nixon – Counselor-at-law 
Dr. George Szamuely – Senior Research Fellow, Global Policy Institute
Dan Kovalik – Human Rights Lawyer 
 
The show kicks off with Jamie Finch, the former director of the National Transportation Safety Board, who discusses United Airlines potentially entering a deal with Airbus following Boeing’s Max 9 blunders. 
 
Later, Tyler Nixon, counselor-at-law, weighs in on the IRS contractor getting sentenced to five years in prison following his leak of Trump’s tax documents. 
 
The second hour begins with the hosts talking to Dr. George Szamuely about Hungary accusing the EU of blackmail.  
 
The show closes with human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik, who shares his perspective on the strikes near the Jordanian border and the pressure on Biden to plan a military response. 
 
 

What’s Left

           We Americans are repeatedly told that the United States is a conservative country in which the 50-yard line of ideology is situated significantly to the right of the Western European representative democracies from which our political culture derives and to which we are most often compared. But there is a gaping chasm between the policy orientation of the two major parties that receive mainstream-media coverage and the leanings of the American people they purport to represent.

            Gallup’s decade-plus poll of basic opinions consistently finds that four of ten Americans have a positive view of socialism. (Half of these are also favorably predisposed toward capitalism.) When given a chance to demonstrate that, they do. Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” received 43% of the Democratic primary popular vote in 2016 and 26% in 2020. Four members of the Democratic Socialists of America are currently serving in Congress. Despite a century of Cold War reactionary Cold War suppression and McCarthyite propaganda, U.S. voters have moved more left since the heyday of the old Socialist Party, whose four-time presidential standardbearer Eugene Debs peaked at 6% in 1912.

            History is punctuated by periodic spasms of protest that reveal Americans’ yearning for a world with greater economic equality, a merciful justice system, increased individual rights and the prioritization of human needs over corporate profits: the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and riots of 2020, Occupy Wall Street in 2011, marches against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the 1999 Battle of Seattle, etc., etc., all the way back to the women’s suffrage and abolitionist movements at the dawn of the republic. These leftist movements were ruthlessly crushed by state violence and marginalization by the media before, in some instances, ultimately achieving their goals. Like streetcar tracks that keep having to be repaved over as asphalt erodes, however, fundamental human cravings for fairness and equality always reemerge despite the U.S. political system’s suppression.

            I write this at one of those times between uprisings, when the presence of the Left in Americans’ lives feels irrelevant. (We’re talking here about the actual, socialist/communist-influenced Left of the sort we find in Europe, not the corporate “liberal” Democratic Party.) The Green Party, the nation’s biggest Left party, received 0.2% of the vote in the last presidential election; it will probably not appear on the ballot in many states, including New York, this year. There are no sustained street protests about any issue, including the Supreme Court’s radical repeal of abortion rights. Israel’s war against Gaza inspired one major (over 100,000 attendees) antiwar demonstration, in Washington, and it was matched in size by an opposing march in favor of Israel. Sanders and his fellow socialists have been absorbed into the Democratic Borg.

            What’s Left?

            There is no organized Left in the U.S. We are pre-organized. We are bereft of leaders. We have no presence in the media. We have no realistic prospect of having our positions aired, much less seriously considered and debates or enacted into law.

            The Left may not exist as a political force. Yet we exist. Polls show that there are tens of millions of individual Leftists here in the United States. Sanders’ massive campaign rallies, with tens of thousands of attendees in numerous cities, proved that we’re able and willing to mobilize when we feel hope. Our record of taking to the streets to fight racist cops and warmongers and strikebreakers and gaybashers, despite formidable risks, point to our revolutionary spirit.

            Four out of ten Americans few socialism favorably. How many more would feel the same way if they were exposed to leftist ideas? What if there was a socialist party that might possibly win?

            Some readers criticized my 2011 book “The Anti-American Manifesto” because it called for revolution, or more accurately for opening rhetorical space for revolution as a viable political option, without laying out a step-by-step path for organizing a revolutionary organization. My omission was intentional. Allowing ourselves psychological access to the R-word must precede organization, revolution must be led by the masses rather than an individual, and in any case I am not blessed with the gifts of an organizer and wouldn’t know where to begin to build a grassroots movement. Still, no doubt about it, we have a lot to do. We must agitate and confront and organize and work inside electoral politics and out in the streets.

            But for what?

            What do we want?

            What should we fight for?

            Karl Marx and his socialist contemporaries would call this a programme—a list of demands and desires, like a political party platform in the not-so-distant past, which confronts the biggest problems facing us and lay out specific ways to solve them if and when we win power at the ballot box or seize power at the point of a gun as the culmination of a revolutionary movement.

We need a coherent vision for the country. We must build credibility by demonstrating that we know what has people worried, terrified and merely annoyed; successfully identifying people’s concerns shows that we get it, that we get them. We need solutions to their problems. We need to walk people through our ideas, listen to their thoughts and adjust our programme in response to their feedback.

What is the Left?

The Left is the idea that everyone is entitled to the good things in life by virtue of existing, that we should all have equal rights and opportunities and that the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, healthcare, education and transportation should be guaranteed by the government.

In this richest nation that has ever existed anywhere, albeit the one with the biggest wealth gap, we can get there. But we will never accomplish anything within the constructs of the electoral politics trap. Never has the dysfunction and uselessness of the duopoly been clearer than in this election cycle, when most voters say they wish neither of the two major-party candidates were running.

Let’s figure out how.

Next week, I’ll take a look at the tax code, federal government revenues and spending priorities.

(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 – 1/29/23 – Nancy Pelosi Urges FBI Probe into Russia’s Role in Gaza Protests

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss the current events around the globe, including Nancy Pelosi accusing the Pro-Palestine movement of “Russian interference.” 

Dan Lazare – Independent Journalist 
Mitch Roschelle – Media Commentator 
Jeremy Kuzmarov – Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine 
 
The show kicks off with independent journalist Dan Lazare who shares his perspective on the border crisis as a major election issue and the GOP unveiling a possible impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Anthony Mayorkas. 
 
Later, Media Commentator Mitch Roschelle weighs in on Trump owing $83 million for defamation against columnist E. Jean Carrol. 
 
The second hour begins with the hosts discussing Nancy Pelosi’s calls for an FBI investigation into the Pro-Palestine movement.  
 
The show closes with Jeremy Kuzmarov who shares his insights on the drone strike in Jordan and the escalation in the Middle East. 
 
 
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