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Commentary by Joe Conason

Most Recent Releases

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March 9, 2019

What Was Good For Clinton Is Good for Trump By Joe Conason

When the Office of Special Counsel completes its assigned tasks and sends its findings to Attorney General William Barr, Americans will expect to learn what is in that document. Despite recurrent warnings that Barr can legally withhold some or even all of the Mueller report, those expectations of transparency must be fulfilled.

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April 6, 2015

Iran Deal: Do the Critics Want War? By Joe Conason

Before too much credibility is lavished upon Republican critics of the Iran nuclear agreement draft, including all of the assorted would-be presidential candidates, someone ought to urge them to explain what they would do instead. And when those critics start blathering, someone should interrupt to ask whether they are actually talking about a simple three-letter word: war.

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March 30, 2015

Country Music, Tea Party 'Populism,' and Ted Cruz By Joe Conason

Nobody who knows Ted Cruz -- the Texas freshman Senator who became the first official contestant for the Republican Party's presidential nomination this week -- doubts that he is very, very smart. That includes Cruz himself, whose emphatic confidence in his own superior intelligence has not always endeared him to colleagues and acquaintances (whose opinions of his personality are often profanely negative).   

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March 23, 2015

Measuring the Moral Posture of Rand Paul By Joe Conason

Expecting morally serious debate from any would-be Republican presidential contender is like waiting for a check from a deadbeat. It could arrive someday, but don't count on it.

Yet listening to someone like Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., feign outrage over a real moral question can still be amusing, if you know enough about him to laugh. The Kentucky Republican has seized on stories about millions of dollars donated by Saudi Arabian agencies and interests to the Clinton Foundation, demanding that the Clintons return those funds because of gender inequality under the Saudi version of Islam.

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March 16, 2015

Media's Email Hysteria: Why Are Republicans Exempt? By Joe Conason

It is almost eerie how closely Hillary Clinton's current email scandal parallels the beginnings of the Whitewater fiasco that ensnared her and her husband almost 20 years ago. Both began with tendentious, inaccurate stories published by The New York Times; both relied upon highly exaggerated suspicions of wrongdoing; both were seized upon by Republican partisans whose own records were altogether worse; and both resulted in shrill explosions of outrage among reporters who couldn't be bothered to learn actual facts.

Fortunately for Secretary Clinton, she won't be subjected to investigation by less-than-independent counsel like Kenneth Starr -- and the likelihood that the email flap will damage her nascent presidential campaign seems very small, according to the latest polling data.

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March 6, 2015

Is This a Scandal -- Or a 'Scandal'? By Joe Conason

To someone who has watched many "scandals" surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton evaporate into the Washington mist -- even when Pulitzer Prize-winning pundits predicted that she would end up in prison! -- the current furor over her emails hardly seems earthshaking.  

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February 13, 2015

Big Lies, Little Lies and the Punishment of Brian Williams by Joe Conason

The harshest penalties usually tend to be brutal, vengeful and excessive -- even when the offender is a celebrity journalist like Brian Williams. Suspended without pay from his post as the "NBC Nightly News" anchor for six months, Williams may be facing the end of his career in television news, which would be roughly equivalent to capital punishment.

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January 16, 2015

Why the Violent Extremists Welcome Attacks on Islam by Joe Conason

Whenever an act of horrific terror enrages the West, a predictable second act ensues. Furious commentators and activists on the right erupt with blanket denunciations of Islam, Muslims and their supposed plots to enslave us all under Shariah, urging that we ban the religion, stigmatize its faithful and restore the Judeo-Christian exclusivity of America. Sometimes a few even seek retribution in attacks on mosques, individual Muslims and anyone unfortunate enough to "look Muslim."

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January 9, 2015

What 'Je Suis Charlie' Should Mean to Us By Joe Conason

Not long after 9/11, the leading figures in France's Champagne industry decided that they would hold their 2002 annual awards gala in New York rather than Paris. At no small expense, they displayed solidarity with New Yorkers -- and America -- at a time of sorrow and fury, like so many of their compatriots. It was one more instance when the French renewed the bond that has existed since this country's founding.

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January 1, 2015

GOP, Stop Making Excuses for Scalise by Joe Conason

The unsavory story of Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican and House majority whip, should serve as a clear warning to the leaders of the Republican Party. They need to ask why their message attracts some of the most despicable elements in American society -- and why they can't effectively reject those extremists.

Despite many fervent vows of "outreach" and "inclusion" by top Republicans, they keep making the wrong choices. Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have expressed their confidence in Scalise despite his "mistake." And the excuses they now offer on behalf of the man chosen for the third-highest position in their congressional caucus are rapidly eroding.


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December 19, 2014

Ending a Policy That's Failed for 50 Years by Joe Conason

Listen carefully to the Republican leaders and presidential hopefuls roaring with outrage over President Barack Obama's courageous decision to normalize relations with Cuba; listen very carefully, because no matter how long or how closely you listen to them, there is one thing you will surely never hear.

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December 11, 2014

Crimes Without Punishment by Joe Conason

With the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the use of torture by the CIA after 9/11, the final defense of the indefensible by its perpetrators, advocates and publicists is falling apart before our eyes.

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November 20, 2014

Fix Decaying Pipelines First for Jobs, Health and Safety by Joe Conason

With the Keystone XL pipeline stalled again, now perhaps we can look ahead and consider more promising ways to rebuild our energy system, creating many more jobs than that controversial project ever would. No matter where we look, the far larger issue that still confronts Americans is decaying infrastructure -- which emphatically includes the enormous web of oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the continental United States in every direction.


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November 7, 2014

Beneath the Republican Wave, Voters Still Reject Right-Wing Ideology By Joe Conason

In the wake of the 2014 midterm "wave election," Americans will soon find out whether they actually want what they have wrought. The polls tell us that too many voters are weary of President Barack Obama, including a significant number who actually voted for him two years ago. Polls likewise suggest that most voters today repose more trust in Republicans on such fundamental issues as economic growth, national security and budget discipline. But do they want what Republicans in control will do now?

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October 24, 2014

Debunking Christie's Minimum Wage Mythology By Joe Conason

If there is any upside to the constant blabber from a politician such as Chris Christie, it is that he blurts out what others like him would never say in public -- for instance, his recent remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage," said the boorish New Jersey governor, a sentiment no doubt shared by the assembled big-business lobbyists and by most of Christie's fellow Republican governors. "I really am. I don't think there's a mother or a father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, 'You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized.'"

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October 17, 2014

Let Obama and Frieden Do Their Jobs By Joe Conason

If the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind, then even the possibility of infection with Ebola should do the same -- for all of us. Instead, we seem easily distracted by attempts to blame President Barack Obama and to scapegoat the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Republican politicians and media loudmouths have even demanded the resignation of Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC's director, because he's refused to endorse a West African travel ban.

They're all dead wrong.

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October 9, 2014

What Ebola Can Teach Us By Joe Conason

Even if Africa's Ebola emergency never mutates into a global catastrophe, those of us who live in the world's most fortunate country ought to consider what this fearsome virus can teach us. The lessons are quite obvious at this point -- and contain implications that are political in the most urgent sense.   

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September 24, 2014

What the Republicans Chasing Hillary Should Learn From Wile E. Coyote by Joe Conason

As the Republican right's fear swells in advance of Hillary Clinton's anticipated presidential campaign, conservatives' feverish smears increasingly resemble the desperate gambits of a certain Wile E. Coyote. The latest episode in their cartoonish crusade appeared in The Washington Free Beacon, which headlined "The Hillary Letters" the other day with an ominous subhead: "Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky correspondence revealed."

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September 19, 2014

American Amnesia: Why the GOP Leads on National Security by Joe Conason

If the latest polls are accurate, most voters believe that Republican politicians deserve greater trust on matters of national security. At a moment when Americans feel threatened by rising terrorist movements and authoritarian regimes, that finding is politically salient -- and proves that amnesia is the most durable affliction of our democracy.

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September 15, 2014

Republican Reaction to Obama Speech Reveals Much -- About Them by Joe Conason

Minutes after President Barack Obama concluded his strong and sensible address explaining how he intends to destroy the terrorist organization the Islamic State, Republicans popped up on television like political snipers. He should have kept a "residual force" in Iraq, complained Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and he is to blame for the Islamic State's advances. He sounds just like George W. Bush, gloated former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and he is reluctantly enacting the advice of Dick Cheney.