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.
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The Washington Spectator has been a leading source of independent, progressive news and commentary since 1974.

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.

Operating as usual

In the heat of the pandemic, as tens of thousands were dying and millions were infected, the Trump re-election campaign ...
09/08/2020
Anatomy of Deceit: Team Trump Deploys Doctors with Dubious Qualifications to Push Fake Cure for Covid-19

In the heat of the pandemic, as tens of thousands were dying and millions were infected, the Trump re-election campaign enlisted doctors with dubious credentials to discredit personal safety practices, downplay the severity of the virus, and promote fake cures.
#coronavirus #hydroxychloroquine #americasfrontlinedoctors

On July 27, a dozen physicians posed in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., dressed in white lab coats with “America’s Frontline Doctors” stitched over the pocket. The group’s chief spokesperson was Dr. Simone Gold, an emergency physician from Los Angeles. They were introduced by...

Social Security turns 85 this month, and by attacking the government's most successful program, the Trump administration...
08/27/2020
Under Cover of Covid, Republicans Will Come After Social Security as They Have Done Repeatedly Before

Social Security turns 85 this month, and by attacking the government's most successful program, the Trump administration is putting seniors and the disabled further at risk. Steven Pressman argues a Democratic pledge to shore up Social Security makes good policy and good politics.

With Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter foremost on everyone’s mind, it is unlikely that Social Security will play a prominent role in the 2020 election. Joe Biden and the Democrats should try to ensure it does. Focusing on Social Security works to their advantage. One reason Donald Trump won the 201...

A brilliant scholar and student of the Holocaust reaches closure with an epic film that has obsessed her for a decade.
08/26/2020
Inheriting The Memory of Justice

A brilliant scholar and student of the Holocaust reaches closure with an epic film that has obsessed her for a decade.

Judgment. Responsibility. Guilt. Crimes. Justice. Throughout The Memory of Justice, Marcel Ophuls’s sprawling 1976 jeremiad on the Nuremberg trials, these are the terms that spring into action in nearly every scene. I have watched this film dozens of times; I have devoted countless hours to taking...

A turning point for Big Tech? A House Sub-committee, led by Rep. Cicilline (D) from Rhode Island, holds the CEOs behind ...
08/13/2020
The Tech Giants Come to Congress, and Democracy Wins a Round

A turning point for Big Tech? A House Sub-committee, led by Rep. Cicilline (D) from Rhode Island, holds the CEOs behind tech giants accountable.

It was a defining moment, and it was also long overdue. In the summer of 2020, with the country gripped by a global pandemic that also sharpened the wealth divide of the digital economy, a congressional committee brought the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to account. They asked why the....

With Corbyn gone and the current PM Boris Johnson under fire for mishandling the virus, Keir Starmer is positioning Brit...
08/05/2020
New Labour Party Chief Keir Starmer Playing Long Game

With Corbyn gone and the current PM Boris Johnson under fire for mishandling the virus, Keir Starmer is positioning Britain's Labour Party for a return to No. 10 Downing Street.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Britain’s Labour Party ended with a whimper in April. The country was in coronavirus lockdown; dependent on the National Health Service, which Corbyn had repeatedly warned was underfunded and understaffed; and at the mercy of the decisions of Prime Minister Boris Jo...

Mark your calendars!Join us on Tuesday, June 30 for the ClassACT Social Justice and Racism Forum. A distinguished panel ...
06/26/2020

Mark your calendars!

Join us on Tuesday, June 30 for the ClassACT Social Justice and Racism Forum. A distinguished panel including Rep. Karen Bass, current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; award-winning broadcast journalist and author Soledad O'Brien; JusticeAid founder Stephen Milliken '73; and veteran black journalist Sylvester Monroe '73 discuss how the nation can reform its police departments and whether what's broken with race and social justice in America can ever be fixed.

Register by visiting https://bit.ly/3dCo9GD.

A review of court decisions reveals that Trump appointees have repeatedly shielded the police from accountability for vi...
06/24/2020
Trump-Appointed Judges Hold Police Immune and Refuse to Curb Violence

A review of court decisions reveals that Trump appointees have repeatedly shielded the police from accountability for violence against African Americans.

As protests continue around the country, sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers, one important question concerns the accountability our justice system provides for police violence against African Americans. The answer is: clearly not enough. As we recommit....

"White America, This One's On You"—Why it’s about time to decry the lack of diversity in the American workplace.
06/15/2020
White America, This One’s On You

"White America, This One's On You"—Why it’s about time to decry the lack of diversity in the American workplace.

When I wrote Diversity, Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business, I decided that it would be my final treatise on the subject. I had already spent a quarter-century of my life writing and lecturing about the need for diversity in journalism and how the lack of it had resulted in the sti...

Trump's negligence helped spur the spread of the virus, and contributed to more than 100,000 deaths. His daily dosage of...
06/02/2020
Dr. Trump Meets the Press

Trump's negligence helped spur the spread of the virus, and contributed to more than 100,000 deaths. His daily dosage of crackpot remedies and medical quackery from the White House press room were almost as lethal.

The president’s early indifference and his administration’s slow-motion response to the emerging threat of Covid-19 are well-documented, as are his now-famous remarks at the World Economic Forum that it was “just one person coming in from China” and how he had the virus “totally under cont...

Republicans are hoping religious conservatives will help them survive the November elections. The Spectator explains why...
06/02/2020
At Trump’s D.C. Hotel Apostolic Set Rallies For “God’s Candidate”

Republicans are hoping religious conservatives will help them survive the November elections. The Spectator explains why values voters and the Christian Right are still aligned with Donald Trump.

As we head into the fall elections, there is increasing recognition of the critical role played by religious conservatives in the Republican Party and a corresponding curiosity over the seeming contradiction between the supposed values of this constituency and their rock-ribbed support of Donald Tru...

Trump's call to open the churches is a cynical play for the evangelical vote. Here's why right-wing Christians will foll...
05/24/2020
At Trump’s D.C. Hotel Apostolic Set Rallies For “God’s Candidate”

Trump's call to open the churches is a cynical play for the evangelical vote. Here's why right-wing Christians will follow him to the emergency room.

As we head into the fall elections, there is increasing recognition of the critical role played by religious conservatives in the Republican Party and a corresponding curiosity over the seeming contradiction between the supposed values of this constituency and their rock-ribbed support of Donald Tru...

Trump's call to open the churches is a cynical play for the evangelical vote. Here's why right-wing Christians will foll...
05/24/2020
At Trump’s D.C. Hotel Apostolic Set Rallies For “God’s Candidate”

Trump's call to open the churches is a cynical play for the evangelical vote. Here's why right-wing Christians will follow him to the emergency room.

As we head into the fall elections, there is increasing recognition of the critical role played by religious conservatives in the Republican Party and a corresponding curiosity over the seeming contradiction between the supposed values of this constituency and their rock-ribbed support of Donald Tru...

Dear Friend of The Washington Spectator,Today is #GivingTuesday, and we're hugely grateful for the support we've receive...
05/05/2020
I just donated to The Public Concern Foundation, publisher of the Washington Spectator. Do the same!

Dear Friend of The Washington Spectator,

Today is #GivingTuesday, and we're hugely grateful for the support we've received in the last 24 hours. If you haven’t yet contributed, please consider making a donation now by clicking the link below.

This is a critical election year, and at the Spectator we are working to broaden the political conversation in the battleground states through our Bellwether Project. We’re asking you on #GivingTuesday to support this important undertaking with a tax-deductible contribution.

And as an additional incentive, a generous donor has pledged to match dollar for dollar what we raise, up to $25,000.

If you didn’t catch our letter from yesterday, here’s how it works. We use the funds we raise for the Bellwether Project to send our journalists to report from battleground states, and we distribute their findings on social media to engage bellwether voters in a wider discussion around ideas and values than they are accustomed to hearing on Fox News and Christian radio.

Coming up, Katherine Stewart dissects the politics of the Christian Right and explains their unlikely alignment with the Trump re-election effort. Next, we’ll report from Arizona and Wisconsin on the impact of Covid-19 and how voters in those states are thinking about their future.

You can catch up on the roster of Bellwether Project articles we’ve already published by visiting our website at washingtonspectator.org:

· Dudley Althaus went to Ohio and, contrary to conventional wisdom, found a concerned public with serious doubts about how they will vote this year.

· Karen Houppert expertly analyzed the changes afoot in Florida.

· In his “A Letter to Trump Voters,” Ralph Nader offered an indispensable primer on the critical role that government plays in our lives.

We know that now may be a hard time to contribute. We’re immensely grateful for whatever support you can provide, and we hope that you remain safe during this unimaginable time.

With appreciation,

Hamilton Fish Editor, The Washington Spectator

This is a great cause! Join me in my efforts to support them. Donate Now!

High anxiety and mixed feelings are felt across Texas as Republicans relax protections against the virus.
05/01/2020
Texas Relaxes Restrictions as Virus Marches Across the State

High anxiety and mixed feelings are felt across Texas as Republicans relax protections against the virus.

SAN ANTONIO—Under a waning sun this week, a neighbor and I were quaffing takeout craft beers from an otherwise shuttered brew pub on the banks of the San Antonio River, contemplating the looming end of our city’s five weeks of plague-enforced hibernation. Jim Wyatt, 73, is an asthmatic retired e...

Relentless Republican attacks on the right of citizens to vote have imperiled our democracy. Bill Moyers interviews voti...
04/24/2020
Moyers and Daley on the Republican Attack on Voting and the Threat to the Constitution

Relentless Republican attacks on the right of citizens to vote have imperiled our democracy. Bill Moyers interviews voting rights expert David Daley in this essential conversation.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed concern that Donald Trump would try to delay the 2020 election. The conservative majority in the Supreme Court recently refused to extend the deadline for absentee ballots in the Wisconsin primary, forcing those wishing to vote to risk their....

Trump's racist rants against the so-called "Chinese Virus" and his fueling of anti-immigrant sentiment during the pandem...
04/21/2020
The Dark Side of Sunny California

Trump's racist rants against the so-called "Chinese Virus" and his fueling of anti-immigrant sentiment during the pandemic are only the most recent manifestations of the rich history of anti-Asian and non-white bias embedded in the laws and structure of American society.

California Governor Gavin Newsome made two groundbreaking public apologies in recent years: one in 2019 to the Native American community for the state’s policy of exterminating its people around the time of statehood in 1851, and the other in February of this year to Japanese Americans for the sta...

Why have there been so few infections and zero reported deaths in a densely populated country of 96 million people that ...
04/13/2020
A Letter from Vietnam

Why have there been so few infections and zero reported deaths in a densely populated country of 96 million people that shares a border with China?

The view from my condo overlooking the Saigon River includes much of Ho Chi Minh City’s glittery downtown, with its many newly built high rises and the famous Thu Thiem bridge. On a weekday it is crowded with cars and motorcycles. Today, however, that torrent of humanity has, but for a few straggl...

The Spectator is honored to publish this excerpt from Carolyn Forché's long awaited new collection of poems, "In The Lat...
04/08/2020
LETTER TO A CITY UNDER SIEGE

The Spectator is honored to publish this excerpt from Carolyn Forché's long awaited new collection of poems, "In The Lateness of The World."

Universally acclaimed poet Carolyn Forché is famous for “poetry of witness,” a term she first coined in her groundbreaking anthology, Against Forgetting. Her honors include a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for crafting her poetry as a “mea...

The president claims his administration has taken the most aggressive actions of any country against the virus. His reco...
03/27/2020
The Trump Virus

The president claims his administration has taken the most aggressive actions of any country against the virus. His record paints an alarmingly different picture.

It’s too soon to know whether Trump’s slow-motion and deadly response to the coronavirus outbreak will contribute to his political undoing. But even that enticing prospect offers little consolation, measured against the reality that this rudderless nation has been left flatfooted in the face of ...

The leading consumer advocate of our time reminds us of the dreams and aspirations that unite us, and implores Trump vot...
02/14/2020
A Letter to Trump Voters

The leading consumer advocate of our time reminds us of the dreams and aspirations that unite us, and implores Trump voters to inspect the reality behind the facade.

I want to address this note to Trump supporters and others who may be considering voting for him. You are the ones stereotyped by critics as being all alike in your hatreds, resentments, closed minds, prejudices, and fears. While you may hoot and holler at his mass rallies, people like you defy thes...

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.

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