In Defense of Defamation Lawsuits

            “He that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed,” Iago tells Othello in Shakespeare’s play. The belief that defamation is serious, and that the perpetrator of libel or slander deserves to be punished, is a standard trope in popular culture. The Hollywood screenwriter falsely accused of communist sympathies struggles to clear his name in the 1950s. The journalist breaks a big story only to be smeared by the rich and powerful men whose crimes he exposed. The narrative of the innocent person sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit relies on dual tragedies, the injustice of undeserved suffering as well as a conviction that results in society wrongly believing that the condemned is an evildoer. In the real world, however, there is little sympathy for a person whose reputation has been damaged by a falsehood spread by a malicious enemy. One example is actor Johnny…
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When It Cares, the U.S. Government Is Extremely Efficient

           As the COVID-19 pandemic has made painfully clear, our healthcare system is a disaster. 12% of Americans are uninsured and 21% are underinsured. Many counties have zero or just one healthcare plan on offer through their local ACA marketplace, so there is no price competition whatsoever. Due to the lack of competition, and price gouging, by for-profit insurers, the average family of four who buys insurance through Obamacare pays a whopping $25,000 a year in premiums and deductibles—more than a third of their income after taxes.             More than 18,000 Americans die annually due to lack of medical insurance.             This is very sad, especially for them and their families. But nothing can be done about it. Lame as it is, the Affordable Care Act is as good as it gets. Until the Republicans get back in charge, when they will try to get rid of it again. Political dysfunction, amirite?             When they care about something, however, the…
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After Ukraine, Other Stupid Ideas for Virtue Signaling

            Team Politics has gone international! Who cares if you can’t find Ukraine on a map? Festoon your home with Ukrainian flags! Change your Twitter avatar to a heart-shaped Ukrainian flag! Tattoo your entire body blue and yellow! It’s all about Ukraine — until the next war or the Azov Battalion gets caught doing something awful, whichever comes first.             But why limit yourself to the yellow-and-blue bicolor you never heard of before two months ago? The United States is directly involved in such a wide range of foreign conflicts, regime-change operations and proxy wars that there’s a shallow virtue signal for every wardrobe choice—including yours.             You probably haven’t given much thought to the six years-and-counting civil war in Yemen. The American media hasn’t either. But your ignorance doesn’t stop you from pontificating about Ukraine—nor should it mean you shouldn’t rush to pick sides in this colorful blood-soaked extravaganza that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Wearing a…
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Biden Is Making Fools Out Of Progressive Democrats

            Like a lepidopteran Charlie Brown drawn to Lucy van Pelt’s flaming football, Congressional progressives keep falling for corporate Democrats’ pathetically predictable, and transparently self-serving, pleas for unity. Support our priorities, the centrists keep urging, and we’ll get around to your stuff later. How much later? We’ll tell you later.             “Progressives have grown increasingly accustomed to disappointment with the Biden administration,” the Daily Beast reports with the breaking-news tone of “sun rises in east,” “and now a proposed increase in Department of Defense and law enforcement spending are causing them to air their grievances anew with just months left before the 2022 election.” Insanely—remember, we just left Afghanistan so war spending should drop precipitously—President Biden’s latest budget proposes a record high of $813 billion in military spending, an increase of $30 billion from last year. He just sent $13 billion to Ukraine. Plus he wants $32 billion for cops.             Refund the police.             Whether working inside a system…
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The Left Must Continue to Avoid the Ukraine Trap

            “Find a way to be against the war in Ukraine, please.” That was the subject line of one of my recent hate emails. “If you look through Mr. Rall’s cartoons for the past month, there isn’t a single one condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” an anonymous online commentor chided. “There’s plenty of ones based around whataboutism condemning us for condemning them but not a single one that just comes right out and says what Russia is doing now is wrong.”             The Right—in the U.S. that includes Republicans, Democrats and corporate media—has set a clever trap for the antiwar Left. The rhetoric in this essay’s first paragraph is an example. If the Left were to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Right would portray us as Russia-loving hypocrites who only oppose wars when the United States starts them. If the Left backed Ukraine, they’d be joining an unholy alliance with a government installed in a CIA-backed coup, that pointlessly…
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DMZ America #41: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Ukraine and Kinky Sex

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appears almost certain to be headed towards Senate confirmation as soon as the next US Supreme Court justice. What does it say about America that she is taking heat for representing Guantánamo detainees? Ted is dismayed by Jackson stated acceptance of late Justice Antonin Scalia’s radical-right originalist theory of constitutional interpretation. Scott and Ted debate major talking points surrounding America’s involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Finally, Scott comes out as the most sexually repugnant thing you can be in the age of libertinism: a prude. Christine Emba’s new book “Rethinking Sex: A Provocation” is the starting point of the discussion about how younger women feel pressured to do things in bed that they really don’t want to do.      
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Ukraine War Lies Debunked

            Even the wars that historians judge to have been noble and beneficial rely on popular support marketed and sustained by lies. Contrary to what the English government told its people during World War I, German soldiers didn’t bayonet Belgian babies in their cribs. The “cocaine” U.S. troops claimed to have found in Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s home was nothing of the sort. The Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden – it was George W. Bush who refused to take him, because to accept would have denied him his excuse to invade Afghanistan. As General and Director of British Military Intelligence John Charteris observed after World War I, “to make armies go on killing one another it is necessary to invent lies about the enemy.”             America’s incipient proxy war against Russia over Ukraine is no exception to the rule. BS has been flying fast and furious as media outlets dutifully align behind the U.S. government war machine…
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Why I Work for Sputnik

           I have won two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, been a Pulitzer Prize finalist, published more than 20 books and have seen my political cartoons and columns appear in hundreds of newspapers and magazines. So why do I have Russian state media as one of my clients?             I’m on Sputnik News’ website—as a freelancer, not on staff—and a frequent guest on its radio feed for the same reason that former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges and former MSNBC talk host Ed Schultz appeared on the now-shuttered RT America television network: I’m a leftist.             It’s an article of faith that the United States is a conservative country. But 38% of American voters prefer socialism to capitalism. That’s a remarkable figure considering this country’s history of suppressing the Left from the Palmer raids to McCarthyism to the methodical legislative destruction of trade unionism. The American Left is bigger than you may think, and it’s growing. Yet leftist…
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Afghanistan, Not Ukraine, Is the Biggest Humanitarian Crisis

            Maybe it’s time to change the flag on your social-media avatar.             To the extent that objective guideposts exist in international relations, the United States has no legal obligation to defend Ukraine. Ukraine, a U.S. strategic partner, is neither an ally nor a member of NATO. Nor is it in our neighborhood. Much as the Monroe Doctrine declares the entire Western hemisphere under American sway, Russia has long declared all the former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, to belong to its “sphere of privileged interest.”             Despite our newfound obsession with a nation two out of three Americans couldn’t find on a map last month, American journalists and ordinary citizens have been so moved by scenes of death and destruction that members of both major parties have quickly come together to declare that they #StandWithUkraine, want to welcome Ukrainian war refugees, favor sending advanced weapons to aid Ukraine in its defense and support an array of harsh sanctions against Russia…
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How We Got Here: A Brief History of the Ukraine Conflict

           American media outlets characterize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as, variously and concurrently, the bloodthirsty act of a Hitlerian madman, part of an attempt to reconstitute the former Soviet Union and, predictably continuing the silently-debunked Russiagate narrative of the last six years, an assault on the concept of democracy motivated by President Vladimir Putin’s supposed fear that his own people might get jealous of the freedom next door. Senator Marco Rubio even implied that U.S. intelligence officials believe two years of COVID lockdown drove Putin nuts.             Any, some or none of these explanations born of pure speculation may be accurate. None of them is as likely as something simpler. The fall of the Soviet Union was followed by three decades of nearly constant provocation and encirclement by the United States and its Western allies. Putin decided enough is enough; here’s where we draw a line on the steppe.             Frenemies fighting the common threat of Nazi Germany, World War…
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