The Washington Spectator

The Washington Spectator Since 1971, a progressive newsletter focusing on politics and national affairs. Sign up for our monthly email newsletter at www.washingtonspectator.org.
The Washington Spectator has been a leading source of independent, progressive news and commentary since 1974.
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Since 1974, a progressive newsletter focusing on politics and national affairs.

Mission: The Washington Spectator is a monthly, independent political periodical with a circulation of 35,000. In the tradition of I.F. Stone’s Weekly, it gives independent-minded readers behind-the-scenes insight into significant news ignored by the corporate media. Founded by Tristram Coffin in 1974, it is currently edited by Hamilton Fish.

Trump dreams of militarizing outer space and revives an old and discredited fantasy. The Space Force, the new, sixth bra...
01/30/2020
Trump Signs Measure Enabling Establishment of U.S. Space Force

Trump dreams of militarizing outer space and revives an old and discredited fantasy. The Space Force, the new, sixth branch of the US armed services, is launched.

President Trump has signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 that establishes a United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces—in defiance of the multilateral Outer Space Treaty that, since 1967, has designated space as a global commons to be used for peaceful...

01/23/2020

From this morning's NYT obituary marking the passing of Tom Railsback, the first Republican to vote in favor of an Article of Impeachment against Richard Nixon:

But Mr. Railsback said he was also committed to the Constitution, which, he explained later, the president appeared to have violated by withholding evidence from Congress and, even more, by implicating himself in a cover-up in conversations recorded on White House tapes, which the courts had ordered the administration to release.

“If the Congress doesn’t get the material we think we need and then votes to exonerate,” he said, “we’ll be regarded as a paper tiger.”

Tom Railsback was a principled Republican, from an era when the two words could be linked. He admired Nixon, and touted ...
01/23/2020
Tom Railsback, Who Reconciled G.O.P. to Oust Nixon, Dies at 87

Tom Railsback was a principled Republican, from an era when the two words could be linked. He admired Nixon, and touted the achievements of his presidency. He also believed Nixon had trampled the constitution when he obstructed Congress and participated in a cover up, and he reluctantly voted to impeach.

A moderate Republican congressman from Illinois, he forged a compromise on two articles of impeachment that passed the House Judiciary Committee in 1974.

If the rodeo they are calling a Senate trial has you demoralized, take heart in the release today of this poll taken in ...
01/22/2020
Poll: Donald Trump has ground to make up in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

If the rodeo they are calling a Senate trial has you demoralized, take heart in the release today of this poll taken in several of the battleground states where the presidential race will be decided.

Poll: President Trump lags behind in four key Great Lakes states he won in 2016, indicating the extent to which he will have to entice wavering voters - especially women- to swing his way before November,

01/20/2020

[From The Spectator's monthly e-newsletter, published this morning]

It appears Mitch McConnell will continue to resist the pressure – some of it coming from his own party – to allow witnesses and documents in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump. The same partisan resolve equipped him to refuse even to meet with Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, and later earned him the nickname Moscow Mitch when he stared down demands that the Senate vote to curb Russian interference in US elections.

McConnell and South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have both scoffed at the need for an impartial process, announcing loudly to the right wing in their respective states (they are both up for re-election) that they had reviewed the testimony generated during the House impeachment hearings and found it unconvincing. No matter that several witnesses from his own administration placed the President at the center of the extortion scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in return for potentially damaging evidence against a political rival, Joe Biden.

New documents and public statements have surfaced that double down on damning testimony already in the record.
The source of the most incriminating material is Lev Parnas, principal aide to Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal attorney and the architect of the Ukraine caper. Giuliani, it bears reminding, was once the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, though his resume now seems better suited for a role in The Irishman than the conduct of America foreign policy.

Parnas, in media interviews this week and in the documents he has turned over, implicates Trump and a swath of senior Trump administration personnel, all of whom he says were in close contact with Giuliani throughout. He cites Attorney General Barr and Vice-President Pence, both of whom have been named by previous witnesses as active participants.

Parnas also includes Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has indicated he would be willing to testify. Bolton famously remarked, in reference to the emerging scandal, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Giuliani are cooking up.” Sondland is the Portland, OR hotel operator, Trump campaign mega donor and Ambassador to the EU, who told House committees last fall that “everyone was in the loop.”

And Parnas outed Trump acolyte Devin Nunes, the dairy farmer and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who earlier denied ever having spoken to Parnas, but who this week revised his story on Fox News and admitted having had at least one telephone conversation with him. It turns out that before Nunes took his seat in the House committee hearings into impeachment last fall, he had multiple interactions with Parnas, and Parnas had set up meetings with ex-Ukrainian officials for Nunes aide Derek Harvey, a dirt digger who was looking into supposed corruption by former Vice-President Joe Biden as well as the discredited story of a plot against Trump by Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election.

Trump predictably responded “I don’t know him, I don’t know Parnas,” and “I know nothing about him” and “I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken with him.” A flood of photograhs, videos and emails contradict the obvious lie.

It’s hard to know if Parnas, who is under indictment for campaign finance violations, will ultimately be deemed credible. His revelations are consistent with earlier testimony garnered in the House inquiry, and the documents released this week – which include hand-written notes – appear to support his statements.

The President continues to rail against the impeachment process, calling it a “hoax.” We live in a time when senior White House aides defend Presidential lies as “alternative facts,” and lawyers for the President assert “truth isn’t truth.” A weary public is conditioned to regard inconvenient truths as Fake News, goaded by a Fake President (the title of an excellent new book by Ralph Nader and Mark Green) who devotes more of his time to his twitter feed than the burdens of office.

Some parts of the dam may finally be breaking. Susan Collins, the self-contradictory pro-choice Senator from Maine who voted to install arch-conservative jurist Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court after inexplicably asserting she was confident he would protect Roe, insisted in December she needed to hear all the evidence in the case against Trump before deciding whether he should be removed from office. This week, after the explosive Parnas story broke, she reversed course and announced she didn’t think any new evidence should be admitted to the trial. Collins disingenuously questioned why the House hadn’t included the Parnas material in its original inquiry (ignoring the widely-known fact that the documents were only recently made available by court order). There is speculation however she is still considering voting for the inclusion of witnesses, along with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, among others.

Also this week, the independent, non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), which works for the Congress, declared the President violated federal law last summer when he withheld funds from Ukraine. “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the accountability office declared, in language that in almost any other era would be considered superfluous.

It’s clear that McConnell feels he can use the power of the majority to block corroborating testimony and compromising evidence and still hold his caucus together. What is less clear in the election year ahead is whether there will be a political cost to Republicans for continuing to make a mockery of the constitutional process.

Sign up for our monthly email newsletter at washingtonspectator.org.

Memo to the impeachment process—the bribery statute prohibits "solicitation" of a bribe, whether or not the actual excha...
11/25/2019
Impeachment’s Legal Battle Beneath

Memo to the impeachment process—the bribery statute prohibits "solicitation" of a bribe, whether or not the actual exchange took place.

The next step in the impeachment process will be to frame the legal argument based on the compelling testimony heard over the past two weeks.

Ohio voters could determine the outcome of the next election. Find out what they are thinking.
11/25/2019
Ohio Voters Gave Trump an Eight-Point Margin in the Last Election. What Will They Do in 2020?

Ohio voters could determine the outcome of the next election. Find out what they are thinking.

The scarcely 22,000 voters of Ohio’s Ottawa County, nestled on the south shore of Lake Erie, have picked the winning presidential candidate for more than half a century, rarely straying more than a few points off dead center. The county’s largely working-class voters twice favored George W. Bush...

Some Ohio voters feel Trump is trying to do what he said he would do. Others think he's a blowhard. The Spectator takes ...
11/17/2019
Ohio Voters Gave Trump an Eight-Point Margin in the Last Election. What Will They Do in 2020?

Some Ohio voters feel Trump is trying to do what he said he would do. Others think he's a blowhard. The Spectator takes the pulse of a battleground state.

The scarcely 22,000 voters of Ohio’s Ottawa County, nestled on the south shore of Lake Erie, have picked the winning presidential candidate for more than half a century, rarely straying more than a few points off dead center. The county’s largely working-class voters twice favored George W. Bush...

Seeing ourselves as others see us—travel essays at their anti-imperial best, from Belén Fernández.
11/05/2019
Italy and Beyond

Seeing ourselves as others see us—travel essays at their anti-imperial best, from Belén Fernández.

Once upon a time in Italy, a prominent citizen declared: “It is unacceptable that sometimes in certain parts of Milan there is such a presence of non-Italians that instead of thinking you are in an Italian or European city, you think you are in an African city.” In case the message was not cryst...

NPR raves about "Shadow Network,"  the first big book of the campaign season and the basis for the October cover story a...
10/29/2019
'Shadow Network' Offers A Lesson On The American Right's Mastery Of Politics

NPR raves about "Shadow Network," the first big book of the campaign season and the basis for the October cover story at The Washington Spectator.

Anne Nelson links "the manpower and media of the Christian right," "finances of Western plutocrats," and "strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives" via the Council for National Policy.

An economist argues a transactions tax would a) Be easy to administer, b) Tax mainly the wealthy, and c) Yield enough re...
10/21/2019
It’s Time to Tax Financial Transactions

An economist argues a transactions tax would a) Be easy to administer, b) Tax mainly the wealthy, and c) Yield enough revenue to accomplish many of the goals of the candidates for the Democratic nomination.

Over the years, many prominent economists have advocated taxing financial transactions. During the Great Depression that followed the 1929 stock market crash, John Maynard Keynes advocated such a tax to curb financial speculation and help ensure that investments went to productive endeavors rather t...

Find out how a secretive alignment of big money conservatives and Christian broadcasters have come to dominate the airwa...
10/18/2019
A Handful of Conservative Billionaires, Christian Leaders, and Media Barons Are Holding Democracy in the U.S. Hostage

Find out how a secretive alignment of big money conservatives and Christian broadcasters have come to dominate the airwaves in battleground states in this edited excerpt of Anne Nelson's new book, "Shadow Network."

One day in August 2004, as I drove down the street in my hometown of Stillwater, Okla., I tuned the radio dial to a new station. I settled on a random call-in show and sat back to listen. The host was denouncing the candidacy of John Kerry in terms that went something like this. “He legalized gay ...

In this chilling piece for The Spectator, journalist Anne Nelson summarizes the findings in her explosive new book 'Shad...
10/14/2019
A Handful of Conservative Billionaires, Christian Leaders, and Media Barons Are Holding Democracy in the U.S. Hostage

In this chilling piece for The Spectator, journalist Anne Nelson summarizes the findings in her explosive new book 'Shadow Network,' the story of how a secretive alignment of big money conservatives and Christian broadcasters have come to dominate the airwaves in battleground states.

One day in August 2004, as I drove down the street in my hometown of Stillwater, Okla., I tuned the radio dial to a new station. I settled on a random call-in show and sat back to listen. The host was denouncing the candidacy of John Kerry in terms that went something like this. “He legalized gay ...

The latest installment of Poets and Ambassadors for Conscience is from "Night Journey," for Mahmoud Darwish by acclaimed...
09/30/2019
Night Journey

The latest installment of Poets and Ambassadors for Conscience is from "Night Journey," for Mahmoud Darwish by acclaimed poet Suzanne Gardinier.

Suzanne Gardinier is a global activist and author of several wide-ranging, dynamic poetry collections, including Iridium & Selected Poems 1986–2009 (2011), Today: 101 Ghazals (2008), and the long poem The New World (1993), which Lucille Clifton chose for the Associated Writing Program’s Award Se...

"If you’re only opposed to a one-party state when it’s not your party, then you don’t really want a democracy, and the F...
09/30/2019
Why “I don’t like his rhetoric, but I like what he’s doing with the economy” is not a good reason to support any leader

"If you’re only opposed to a one-party state when it’s not your party, then you don’t really want a democracy, and the Founding Fathers would like a word with you."

There are a lot of sayings that amount to a kind of folk pragmatism: “Might makes right.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “The ends justify the means.” “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” These are all ways of saying if you’re getting the outcome you want, then don’t...

What the Emmy-winning series Chernobyl tells us about exposure to low-level radiation and government secrecy.#Chernobylh...
09/23/2019
Why Government Secrecy Is More Damaging to Public Health Than Nuclear Fallout

What the Emmy-winning series Chernobyl tells us about exposure to low-level radiation and government secrecy.
#Chernobylhbo #emmys2019

Much has been written about the strengths and flaws of Chernobyl—the HBO miniseries nominated for 19 Emmys that chronicles the catastrophe at the eponymous Russian nuclear power plant in 1986. In the mind of this reviewer, it’s a riveting if sobering television gem, and highly recommended. And t...

In a state with a progressive streak, Montanans are open to Democrats with big ideas but want to know how we are going t...
09/13/2019
Montana Voters Offer Useful Intelligence

In a state with a progressive streak, Montanans are open to Democrats with big ideas but want to know how we are going to pay for them.

For New Yorkers, summer travel to Montana has intrinsic worth: scenery, family, climate, and a break from the routine we create for ourselves. It is also an opportunity to see the world through a different set of eyes. Those eyes in Montana are cast firmly on the 2020 presidential election to precis...

New scholarship shows the Russians covered up the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown and the Americans helped them...
09/11/2019
Why Government Secrecy Is More Damaging to Public Health Than Nuclear Fallout

New scholarship shows the Russians covered up the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown and the Americans helped them. Scientists in nearby Belarus recorded a big jump in thyroid cancers among adults and children, and childhood heart disease correlated to the presence of radioactive cesium.

Much has been written about the strengths and flaws of Chernobyl—the HBO miniseries nominated for 19 Emmys that chronicles the catastrophe at the eponymous Russian nuclear power plant in 1986. In the mind of this reviewer, it’s a riveting if sobering television gem, and highly recommended. And t...

The tragic shooting at the Walmart in El Paso has focused public attention on the communities on both sides of the US/Me...
08/16/2019
From El Paso to Matamoros, Stories of Conflict and Identity

The tragic shooting at the Walmart in El Paso has focused public attention on the communities on both sides of the US/Mexico line. This feature article breaks down some of the myths about the border region and the people who live there.

Four exceptional journalists who have spent their careers working on subjects pertaining to the United States and Mexico—Dudley Althaus, Cecilia Balli, Alfredo Corchado, and Angela Kocherga—convened recently in Marfa, Texas, to discuss the lost history and incendiary politics of the U.S.-Mexico ...

The horrific shooting at the Walmart in El Paso has thrust the lives of ordinary people living along the US-Mexico borde...
08/13/2019
From El Paso to Matamoros, Stories of Conflict and Identity

The horrific shooting at the Walmart in El Paso has thrust the lives of ordinary people living along the US-Mexico border into the spotlight. Here four prominent journalists from the region convey the texture and reality of life in the Borderlands.

Four exceptional journalists who have spent their careers working on subjects pertaining to the United States and Mexico—Dudley Althaus, Cecilia Balli, Alfredo Corchado, and Angela Kocherga—convened recently in Marfa, Texas, to discuss the lost history and incendiary politics of the U.S.-Mexico ...

Today is the two-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, when members of the alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fas...
08/12/2019
“Use Your White Voice:” On Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman

Today is the two-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, when members of the alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and various right-wing militias marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying semi-automatic weapons and chanting racist and antisemitic slogans. Civil rights activist Heather Heyer was killed and dozens injured when a car driven by a white supremacist slammed into a crowd of protesters.

#BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s fierce and brilliant satire on American racism, is reviewed here by the award-winning poet and critic Cyrus Cassells.

On this date in 2017, members of the alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and various right-wing militias marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying semi-automatic weapons and chanting racist and antisemitic slogans. Civil rights activist Heather He...

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