The Washington Spectator

The Washington Spectator Since 1974, 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.

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.

Sign up for The Washington Spectator's free monthly e-newsletter and we'll send you the complete unabridged version of M...
07/10/2019
Sign up for The Spectator's free monthly e-newsletter

Sign up for The Washington Spectator's free monthly e-newsletter and we'll send you the complete unabridged version of Matt Taibbi's scathing essay on the media with our compliments.

As a special thanks, we'll send you exclusive pre-publication access to the unabridged second chapter from Hate Inc., Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another, by acclaimed Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi.

Catch Matt Taibbi's blistering essay on how the media has failed us—exclusively in the July issue of The Washington Sp...
07/10/2019
The Media’s 10 Rules of Hate

Catch Matt Taibbi's blistering essay on how the media has failed us—exclusively in the July issue of The Washington Spectator.

Pick up any major newspaper, or turn on any network television news broadcast. The political orientation won’t matter. It could be Fox or MSNBC, The Washington Post or The Washington Times. You’ll find virtually every story checks certain boxes. Call them the 10 rules of hate. After generations ...

Matt Taibbi on how the media has failed us—exclusively in the July edition of The Washington Spectator.
07/09/2019
The Media’s 10 Rules of Hate

Matt Taibbi on how the media has failed us—exclusively in the July edition of The Washington Spectator.

Pick up any major newspaper, or turn on any network television news broadcast. The political orientation won’t matter. It could be Fox or MSNBC, The Washington Post or The Washington Times. You’ll find virtually every story checks certain boxes. Call them the 10 rules of hate. After generations ...

Trump's judges on the 6th Circuit don't want to hear your concerns about the water supply in Flint.
06/24/2019
Four Trump Judges Try to Immunize Flint Officials from Liability for Flint Water Crisis

Trump's judges on the 6th Circuit don't want to hear your concerns about the water supply in Flint.

In our May issue we published Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears by Elliot Mincberg, a senior fellow at the indispensable People for the American Way (PFAW), on the alarming impact Trump appointees are already having on the federal courts. Analysts at PFAW have continued to monitor the decisions of t...

Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are gunning for Roe, here is a breakdown of their legal strategy.
06/20/2019
Kavanaugh and Gorsuch Cast Deciding Votes to Overrule Precedent and Further Endanger Roe v. Wade

Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are gunning for Roe, here is a breakdown of their legal strategy.

In our May issue we published Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears by Elliot Mincberg, a senior fellow at the indispensable People for the American Way (PFAW), on the alarming impact Trump appointees are already having on the federal courts. Analysts at PFAW have continued to monitor the decisions of t...

In this groundbreaking story, investigative reporter Barbara Koeppel pulls back the curtain on California's Coalinga Sta...
06/14/2019
Modern-Day Gulag In the Golden State

In this groundbreaking story, investigative reporter Barbara Koeppel pulls back the curtain on California's Coalinga State Hospital, where sex-offenders who have already completed their sentences are warehoused, many until they die. Hundreds of millions in public funds vanish each year into a system that is ravaged by fraud and corruption, and devoid of meaningful administrative accountability or legislative oversight.

Back in 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the practice known as civil commitment was legal. This meant that 20 states—which had passed laws permitting the ongoing incarceration of sex offenders—could continue to keep the men confined even after they completed their prison terms. (See “Sex Cri...

Months before Attorney General Barr willfully misled Congress and the public over Trump's efforts to obstruct the Muelle...
06/09/2019
Bill Barr's CIA Resume: Cover-Ups, Covert Operations, and Pardons > The Deep State Blog

Months before Attorney General Barr willfully misled Congress and the public over Trump's efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation, the respected journalist Jefferson Morley catalogued the numerous occasions that Barr over the course of his career has intervened on behalf of the powerful to help them escape justice. That is his pattern and his talent. We are left with the alarming conclusion that senior members of the Cabinet and Republican leaders in Congress have subverted the Constitution with impunity to protect a lawless and corrupt president.

“I started off in Washington at the Central Intelligence Agency and went to law school at night while I was working at CIA,” recalled William Barr in a 2001 oral history for the University of Virginia. The new Attorney General, approved by the Senate on Thursday, has what Trump might call “dee...

Veteran journalist Barbara Koeppel has spent the last two years reporting for The Washington Spectator on civil commitme...
06/05/2019
Modern-Day Gulag In the Golden State

Veteran journalist Barbara Koeppel has spent the last two years reporting for The Washington Spectator on civil commitment, the third rail of incarceration. In this ground-breaking investigation of a California state hospital, she exposes a culture of pervasive corruption, highlighted by brutality and financial fraud, and spawned by judicial and political indifference.

Back in 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the practice known as civil commitment was legal. This meant that 20 states—which had passed laws permitting the ongoing incarceration of sex offenders—could continue to keep the men confined even after they completed their prison terms. (See “Sex Cri...

Not all of Trump’s atrocities make the headlines. Here economist Steven Pressman exposes the administration’s sneak ...
06/02/2019
Trump Tinkers With Formula That Sets Poverty Threshold

Not all of Trump’s atrocities make the headlines. Here economist Steven Pressman exposes the administration’s sneak attack on anti-poverty programs.

If President Trump has his way, things are about to go from bad to worse for America’s poor. On May 7, the Office of Management and Budget proposed changing the way that poverty gets measured in the U.S. The public has 45 days to respond to this proposal (June 21); then the government will decide ...

05/29/2019

“If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said
so.”

Statement of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, referring to attempts on the part of the White House to obstruct his investigation.

Washington, DC. May 29, 2019.

Who couldn't use a little more independent, progressive reporting these days? Sign up to receive our free email newslett...
05/25/2019
From the Editor's Desk

Who couldn't use a little more independent, progressive reporting these days? Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, delivered to your inbox every month.

A rhetoric scholar exposes the calculations and contradictions in the language of "Pro-Life" politics.
05/25/2019
Anti-Abortion Rhetoric Mislabeled “Pro-Life”

A rhetoric scholar exposes the calculations and contradictions in the language of "Pro-Life" politics.

Scholars of communication for decades have studied how rhetoric matters—how language choices are strategic and can substantially affect the outcome of debates and policy on important public issues. Recent intense and emotionally-charged abortion arguments in several states offer powerful illustrat...

Somehow 'Beale Street' came and went, and even left in its wake a hint of disappointment. Ignore the middling rap, the f...
05/21/2019
Rapture and Outcry: On Barry Jenkins’s Stirring If Beale Street Could Talk

Somehow 'Beale Street' came and went, and even left in its wake a hint of disappointment. Ignore the middling rap, the film is pure cinematic poetry, and underscores why the writings of James Baldwin are surfacing again to such acclaim.

As rapturously stylized and romantic as an urban Romeo and Juliet, streaked with social clashes and yearning, Barry Jenkins’s soulful adaptation of James Baldwin’s poignant 1970s novel If Beale Street Could Talk accomplishes so much with stirring music, color, and city-that-never-sleeps atmosphe...

For this month's edition of Poets and Ambassadors for Conscience, we're reading "Living Room," by Patricia Spears Jones.
05/21/2019
Living Room

For this month's edition of Poets and Ambassadors for Conscience, we're reading "Living Room," by Patricia Spears Jones.

Patricia Spears Jones is a Brooklyn-based African-American poet. Her most recent collection, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems, was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s 2016 William Carlos Williams Prize, as well as for the Paterson Poetry Prize. Her earlier books include Painkiller ...

Who couldn't use a little more independent, uncompromising reporting these days? Sign up to receive our free email newsl...
05/18/2019
From the Editor

Who couldn't use a little more independent, uncompromising reporting these days? Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, delivered to your inbox every month.

Ever predictable, always wrong and never dignified, Trump gives a boost to the Israeli Right and exploits fears and prej...
05/17/2019
About Those Benjamins

Ever predictable, always wrong and never dignified, Trump gives a boost to the Israeli Right and exploits fears and prejudice at home.

Donald Trump’s daft assertion—“Democrats hate Jews”—reflects an Israel policy that not only fans smoldering anti-Semitism across the world but also threatens the very survival of a hard-won Jewish homeland in a region armed for Armageddon. “Democrats have become an anti-Israel party,” ...

To offset soaring deficits and to pay for tax cuts for corporations and the rich, Trump’s domestic budget proposes to ...
05/13/2019
Trump Budget Cuts Funding for Assistance Programs and Pushes for Strict Work Requirements

To offset soaring deficits and to pay for tax cuts for corporations and the rich, Trump’s domestic budget proposes to gut crucial programs for the poor and disfranchised segments of the population.

The result? Rampaging and unsustainable inequality.

The president’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal is yet another attack on poor families. The administration has proposed slashing funding for critical programs that help low- and moderate-income individuals access healthy and nutritious food, receive critical health care services, and live in safe and ...

The author favors impeachment and argues the President's transgressions leave us no choice.
05/10/2019
Containment and Deterrence Should Be Applied to Trump

The author favors impeachment and argues the President's transgressions leave us no choice.

Everything old is new again so let’s talk a little about Russia, American history, and how best to respond to the damage Donald Trump is doing to the presidency, the government, and the nation’s constitutional principles. It’s time for congressional Democrats to implement the familiar policies...

A primer on the issues swirling around the dominant social platform(s).
05/09/2019
Opinion | It’s Time to Break Up Facebook

A primer on the issues swirling around the dominant social platform(s).

Mark Zuckerberg is a good guy. But his company is a threat to our economy and democracy.

Trump is changing the face (white) and the bias (hard Right) of the federal courts, and the impact is already being felt...
05/03/2019
Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears

Trump is changing the face (white) and the bias (hard Right) of the federal courts, and the impact is already being felt.

Both critics and supporters of President Trump agree that, to date, the most important consequence of his presidency and sustained Republican control of the Senate has been the significant change in the federal judiciary. As of April 1, a record 39 judges have been appointed to lifetime posts on the...

04/25/2019

Mueller and the Peacock Pharaoh

Though Mueller concluded that the dizzying array of relations between Trump, his campaign, his business associates and the Russians failed to rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy, and while he punted to Congress to decide whether Trump’s voluminous transgressions were enough to charge him with obstruction, the Mueller Report has nonetheless revived several dormant story lines.

Early on, Speaker Pelosi went on record saying that while Trump was “unfit for office,” impeaching him was ‘’just not worth it.” This was essentially the same response the Speaker gave to those who called for the impeachment of George W. Bush, after he lied to Congress about conditions on the ground in Iraq.

The number two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, later suggested impeachment was “not worthwhile,” though after the release of the redacted version of Mueller’s findings he appeared to walk back that assessment, tweeting “Congress must have the full report and all underlying evidence in order to determine what actions may be necessary… and all options ought to remain on the table to achieve that objective.”

Elizabeth Warren, who has spent the last several months issuing bold and innovative policy ideas and schooling her competitors on what it means to be a Democrat, was the first of the 2020 candidates to urge impeachment. Warren argued, “We cannot be an America that says it is OK for a president of the United States to try to block investigations into a foreign attack on our country.”

And Jerrold Nadler of New York, who as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee will likely have the most say on whether to go forward and who has subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full, un-redacted version of Mueller’s Report, told NBC’s Meet the Press over the weekend that indeed, “obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.”

Early fallout has already tarnished senior staff at the White House, where reporters are calling for Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to be fired over revelations in the report that she lied to the media. Over at the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr has performed more like Trump’s personal attorney than the people’s lawyer. Barr is facing rising criticism for his partisan and deceptive roll-out of the heavily redacted edition. Nadler asserted that Barr “deliberately misled the American people,” and Bloomberg reporter Chris Strohm wrote that Barr was under fire for “jumping ahead of the long-awaited findings, using selective language and omitting key details to shape a narrative much friendlier toward Trump and his conservative supporters than the appraisal that Mueller offered in painstaking detail over 448 pages.”

Democratic Party leaders are worried that an impeachment inquiry could galvanize Trump’s followers. The consensus at the moment probably tilts toward multiple and extended Congressional investigations, a kind of death by a thousand cuts. Democrats remember the interminable Benghazi hearings, which despite their transparent partisan design (and reed-thin claims) took a demonstrable toll on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Trump has decided to defy Congress, refusing to comply with the demand for his tax returns and suggesting that the White House will not cooperate with future requests for documents and testimony. Looming over this confrontational strategy is the knowledge that Trump appointees Kavanaugh and Gorsuch strongly favor executive privilege and would be inclined to deliver a Supreme Court majority in support of the president’s position. As a result, Congress may conclude that impeachment is the only course, despite knowing that the Party of Lemmings in the Senate is unlikely to break ranks to ratify the judgment of a Democratic House.

Not all Republicans are goose-stepping around DC these days, however. Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor who has stubbornly remained Republican even as the GOP abandoned its moderate wing, announced he would challenge the Peacock Pharaoh in the primaries. Fiscally conservative and socially liberal, Weld’s arrival in the race begs an intriguing question – just how rock-solid is that Trump base?

A biographer of Lincoln remembers Norman Birnbaum, a scholar and public intellectual whose life story was entwined with ...
04/24/2019
Norman Birnbaum, 92, Bronx-Born Adviser to Heads of State and Champion of Secular Jewish Values

A biographer of Lincoln remembers Norman Birnbaum, a scholar and public intellectual whose life story was entwined with the modern era.

The American sociologist and journalist Norman Birnbaum died in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 4, 2019. A prolific author and revered scholar, Norman was an adviser to leading politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. His life and work were shaped by the seminal events of the 20th century, from the rise...

04/23/2019

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This is a harrowing account from the writer Clara Bingham of the obstacles young women faced only 50 years ago when they...
04/20/2019
Code Names and Secret Lives: How a Radical Underground Network Helped Women Get Abortions Before They Were Legal

This is a harrowing account from the writer Clara Bingham of the obstacles young women faced only 50 years ago when they sought abortions. Even in cosmopolitan areas, the process was shrouded in secrecy, and both patients and providers were constantly at risk of exposure and prosecution.

As restrictions on abortion sweep the country, and Roe v. Wade is under attack, a look back at the covert service called “Jane.”

04/16/2019
A Concise Biography of Tyranny

This month’s selection in our ‘Poets and Ambassadors for Conscience’ series is “A Concise Biography of Tyranny,” by Ellen Hinsey, a Paris-based poet and translator.

Ellen Hinsey is a Paris-based poet, translator, and political thinker in the tradition of Hannah Arendt. Her four books of poetry are Cities of Memory, a winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, The White Fire of Time, Update on the Descent, and The Illegal Age (2018), which explores themes of fascis...

Trump has wildly overestimated—and overstated—economic growth. The Republican tax bill was tied to these exaggerated...
04/09/2019
#GOPGROWTHSCAM

Trump has wildly overestimated—and overstated—economic growth.

The Republican tax bill was tied to these exaggerated forecasts and now, predictably, real growth is stagnant, deficits are soaring and the wealthy got what they paid for.

President Trump regularly brags about the phenomenal economic growth achieved during his presidency. Many economic commentators and political pundits have fallen for his assertion and have repeated it. In fact, economic growth in 2018 was 2.9 percent, only a little more than the 2.2 percent average....

04/08/2019

Trump is not a Pharaoh, this is not a monarchy, and two world wars were fought to get out from under the boot of fascism.

Accountability and transparency are cornerstones of democracy. The Justice Department is a public agency, not the private preserve of some failed real estate hack and the blow-dried poseurs at Fox News. The Mueller Report is a public document, it was authorized and underwritten by the United States Congress and prepared by an Independent Prosecutor, and if that title has any meaning this report should be disclosed to the public in its entirety immediately.

That a servile political appointee like William Barr would be allowed to distort the findings, block the release and edit the content of a consequential public document with impunity is a failure of our system of checks and balances and further evidence - as if it were needed - of the contempt this minority President and the captive Republican party have for the rule of law.

The legitimacy and moral authority of the presidency derives from the consent of the governed, the underlying premise of which is trust. The American people should demand to see that report and review those tax returns before the whole enterprise sinks to the level of some tinpot dictatorship that no one fundamentally believes in.

-Hamilton Fish

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