DMZ America Podcast #85: Pence’s Classified Documents, Ukraine Slog, Parents Rights & Trans Kids, the Fight to Save Downtowns

Editorial cartoonists Ted Rall (from the Left) and Scott Stantis (from the Right) break down another interesting week in news and current events. Former Vice President Mike Pence, it turns out, also had classified documents left over from his time in office. Is it time to admit that (a) everyone has classified documents and (b) way too much stuff is overclassified and we should just stop caring about this? Now Ukraine wants tanks. But it turns out many of President Zelensky’s top officials were corrupt, so he fired them. Should the U.S. establish a war aim to define what victory looks like? If so, what should it be? Angry parents, including some liberal Democrats, say schools should tell them if their kids are identifying as a different gender in the classroom. Do parents have a right to know that their boy is really a girl? Finally, downtowns are dying as a result of workers no longer going into the office.…
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Hire Back Workers Fired for Refusing Vaccine Mandates

            Once every generation or two, a crisis prompts the hysterical demands for quick solutions that lead to unsound decisions. Post-Pearl Harbor, worries about fifth columnists were followed by the deportation of Japanese Americans to internment camps. 9/11 led to two wars, excessive airport security and the privacy-destroying USA-Patriot Act.             The Covid pandemic sparked panic; panic fuels overreaction. Enter vaccine mandates. Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York in October 2021, declared a city-wide vaccine mandate for municipal workers. “This mandate is a bold step that protects our families, friends, and communities, including those that are not yet eligible for the vaccine such as our city’s youngest residents,” he said weeks before expanding the requirement to private-sector workers employed by 184,000 businesses. Similar strictures quickly spread across the nation.             Setting aside the debate between personal autonomy and the public good, it has since become clear that the rationale for the mandates—that unvaccinated people were spreaders—was flawed. Thousands of…
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Burn After Reading: Why Classified Documents Don’t Matter

            The strange story at the top of the headlines—the current president and the most recent former president are both the subject of special-counsel investigations for taking home classified documents when they left the White House—rests upon two premises. One is patently false. The other is brazenly silly.             Americans believe their nation exists in a terrifying state of endless peril. Propagandized by popular culture and the media, we imagine that we’re constantly teetering at the precipice of collapse or subjugation, surrounded by clever and ruthless fiendish enemies hellbent on undermining, attacking and ultimately destroying the United States and turning us into their slaves. The era of great invading armies and empire-building is over. In our world, borders are largely settled so empires are built via economic influence rather than territorial gains. Bigger countries bump up against each other at the edges in search of incremental advantage. Fewer nations in history have ever been less at risk than the U.S.…
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May the Second-Best Person Win

            Only God and Kevin McCarthy know how long George Santos, the disgraced Republican freshman congressman from Long Island whose antipathy for the truth stands out even by politician standards, will be able to remain in office. If and when he is forced to step down, say, after an explanation for his mysteriously improving financial status finally surfaces, I do know how his seat will be filled. And it’s totally unfair.             There’ll be a special election. But Robert Zimmerman, the Democrat defeated by Santos in November, won’t even be guaranteed a second shot. Party bosses will pick the two candidates—of whom Zimmerman may or may not be one—like it’s 1880.             Zimmerman was cheated. The “George Santos” who beat Zimmerman wasn’t a real person or a real candidate. The voters didn’t have the information they needed to choose their congressman. They were bedazzled by a fraud, seduced by a chimera. At bare minimum, Zimmerman ought to be guaranteed the…
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Say Another Go Ain’t So, Joe

            Well, Mr. and Mrs. Biden, the holidays are over. You know, the holidays during which you were going to decide whether or not to run for reelection. So, what did you decide?             This being a democracy, we hope that you came down on the side of the 70% of voters who don’t want you to run in 2024. Even if that figure reflects the feelings of every single Republican (and it probably doesn’t), it includes a lot of Democrats too.             At your age, Mr. President, decision-making can take a little extra time. Let me help you weigh the pros and cons.             Pros: You get to try to beat Donald Trump again. You have some legislative achievements to brag about. You’ll make history as the oldest person to ever run and perhaps win.             Cons: You have low poll numbers—and we may be heading into a recession. You might lose, which would suck, especially if it were…
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How about Equal Time for the Truth?

           Mark Twain said: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” Ironically, he didn’t. The quotation should correctly be attributed to Jonathan Swift. The lie remains in high orbit.             Even when the truth comes to light, it gets nothing close to the wide distribution of the original disinformation. Liberal and conservative historians agree that the Tonkin Gulf incident, as described to Congress by an LBJ out to lie the country into invading Vietnam, never happened; how many Americans know that? Despite the absence of evidence, 40% of Americans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Corporate media promoted the outlandish theory that Russia bombed its own natural gas pipeline and now admit there’s no way that’s true; even well-read and well-informed news consumers can be forgiven for having missed the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it retractions.             Can we fight the “psyopcracy,” a media environment saturated by sophisticated psychological operations that create an…
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Big Collusion between Big Media and Big Government

            An FBI agent contacts Twitter’s head of trust and safety and asks him to censor every mention of a major news story from the social media network on the grounds that the story is false, a result of illegal hacking, or both. Twitter complies, even going so far as to suspend the account of the newspaper that published it. Later, the story—which hacking had nothing to do with—turns out to be accurate.             Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, creates a special direct login platform so that the Department of Homeland Security can directly flag content on the networks in order to request that it be censored. But when political hate groups use Facebook to doxx their ideological enemies—who get murdered as a result—the company is impossible to get hold of.             The FBI routinely hands lists of users the bureau would like to see banned or shadowbanned to Twitter. The government pays Twitter to carry out these…
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Elon Musk, Gender and the War over Pronouns

            When you’re trying to get people to change forms of address, you have two options. You can bully them. Or you can convince them.             Coercion can do the job, provided you possess that power. Less than 10 years after the Bolshevik revolution, Soviet citizens were mimicking the practice of pre-revolutionary communists, who called one another “comrade.” That anti-honorific honorific, meant to reinforce the regime’s message that all citizens were equal, vanished along with the collapse of the USSR and its replacement by a capitalist system that claimed nothing of the sort. Conversely, convincing can be easy—when the proposed modification simplifies language. Introduced in the late 1960s and popularized by the 1972 launch of Gloria Steinem’s magazine of the same name, “Ms.” eliminated the guesswork inherent in the Miss/Mrs. binary, which required knowledge of a woman’s marital status and reinforced patriarchy by defining females by their relationship with men. Here, political progress hitched a ride on practicality. Solving the…
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What To Do About Kanye West

            How to respond to Kanye West? His business partners severed ties. Liberal media outlets resorted to cancel culture. Elon Musk gave the artist now known as Ye a second chance on Twitter, only to regret his magnanimity after Ye posted a graphic of a swastika intertwined with a star of David, and kicked him back off the platform.             The freak show that kicked off with Ye’s 2018 Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump—a moment whose strangeness was reminiscent of Nixon Meets Elvis—culminated over the last two months with, among other acts, Ye’s bizarre donning of a White Lives Matter shirt,  anti-Semitic threats on Twitter, hanging out with a white nationalist and praising Hitler and the Nazis during a video appearance with Alex Jones.             I’m not a psychologist but you don’t have to be a mental health expert to see that Ye is suffering from some sort of personality disorder or illness that is causing or contributing…
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Why Are Women Falling Behind?

            Why do women keep getting pushed to the back of the line?             The sociological history of the United States has been defined by struggles for equality with the landed white males, presenting as straight, who founded the republic. Though it’s still a continuing effort, the abolitionist movement and the fight for racial civil rights scored the first major triumph, emancipation in the mid-19th century.             Gender equality and feminism achieved the second big win with the ratification of women’s suffrage in 1920. Since then, however, equal rights for women have frequently taken a back seat to other liberation struggles that got off the ground later. The Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified, putting the United States among the tiny minority of nations that do not specifically guarantee equality between men and women in their constitutions. The Dobbs decision made the U.S. one of just three countries in the world to have rolled back the federally-guaranteed right to an…
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