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The Republicans are on a sinking ship — and they're tearing each other apart

Even if November's electoral tsunami is still just a rumor on the horizon, that big blue wave already is rocking Republican boats. We can sense something different in the distance, not only because the polls say so but because political journalism has departed from its banal narrative.

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The GOP's grotesque plan to cope with COVID-19

Harking back to the embarrassing days of Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry, my state of Texas is once again saddled with a Republican gubernatorial goober. Greg Abbott is this guy's name, and he's another incompetent right-wing ideologue whose botched handling of our state's COVID-19 crisis makes President Donald Trump look like a master administrator of public health.

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America's snappy new extraterrestrial warfaring department boasts 2 achievements — and they both serve Trump's political needs

Bring on Captain Kirk, Spock and the whole intrepid "Star Trek" cast. And while you're at it, toss in some "Dr. Strangelove," for President Donald Trump is on a mission to turn science fiction into official military policy. Or is it the reverse? Either way, he's casting himself as a cosmic warrior with a heroic vision to turn the spectacular majesty of space into, as he put it, "the world's new war-fighting domain." How fantastic is that?

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Trump flees Afghanistan — but the US is still there

It's over. Donald the Dealmaker says that he has ended America's long nightmare in Afghanistan, finally terminating 18-plus years of grinding war (the longest in U.S. history). After more than 2,400 Americans killed (another 20,000 wounded), more than 100,000 Afghan citizens killed (countless more maimed) and roughly $2 trillion wasted, Trump is crowing that he's negotiated an end to the ridiculously expensive and pointless military adventure.

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Health care for corporate profits — not people

When grassroots groups rise up against the corporate establishment trying to win some specific progressive change for the common good, the odds against them can seem daunting. As an old saying puts it: Where there's a will ... there are 1,000 won'ts.

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The dark underbelly of philanthropy reveals the reality of criminal exploitation in our society

Our society has coined expressions like "philanthropist" and "season of giving" to encourage and hail people's charitable spirit.

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What if you were to own your own power company?

About 40 years ago, a right-wing codger named Eddie Chiles became a momentary political celebrity in my state by buying airtime on hundreds of radio stations to broadcast his daily political rants. Having made a fortune in the Texas oil fields, he pitched himself as a rags-to-riches, self-made success story. "I'm Mad Eddie," as he was known, repeatedly proclaimed that he was "mad" about big government -- particularly federal programs that taxed him to help poor people, who should help themselves by becoming oil entrepreneurs like him. It's simple, he instructed in the tagline to his tirades: "If you don't own an oil well, get one."

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Politics in the spirit

The spirit of goodwill can take us by surprise this season, without respect to religion (or even politics). And while such a moment may not quite become an epiphany, it can still make us think again about our lives and times. Which is what happened to me over the weekend before Christmas.

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Jim Hightower explains how Trump's poverty subsidy enriches the rich

Years ago, a Texas legislator who was occasionally known to take lobbyists' cash in exchange for a vote, explained his ethical framework as opportunistic: "I seen my chances, and I took 'em."

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Is he their president or ours?

Instead of watching Fox News, which manufactures heroic propaganda about President Donald Trump, Republican voters could learn much more from seeing a few hours of Russian television. It is on shows broadcast from Moscow and St. Petersburg where the truth about the Trump administration can be heard.

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Superrichinoids: The weirdest species of all

I love nature shows on TV. They take you into the jungles, the ocean depths, the deserts, the frozen poles and our own backyards to probe the behavior and intellects of our fellow creatures and the cosmic forces that shape them.

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Rep. Trey Gowdy: Trump's new mouthpiece

On the same day the White House plunged the nation into a constitutional crisis by refusing to provide witnesses or documents to House Democrats conducting an impeachment inquiry, word leaked of a new member on the Trump legal defense team. Engaged to serve as "outside counsel" is former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, best known for his endless pursuit of the Benghazi investigation when he chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

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The problem with health care is 'the system'

The British people have been widely admired for their steady demeanor in times of adversity -- stiff upper lip and all that. Until Donald Trump, that is.

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How Jeffrey Epstein escaped justice

The case of super-rich sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is so disturbing, not only because dozens of women say he victimized them as young girls, and not only because he went almost unpunished, but because his wealth appears to have enabled his criminality for years. While the sources of Epstein's enormous fortune remain mysterious and may never be fully revealed, it is vital that we learn how he eluded justice until now.

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How the raw greed of corporate monopolists has squeezed the farming industry

Farm Aid, the top-notch group of researchers and advocates who've tracked family farm issues for nearly 34 years, reports that just two giants now control 60% of all raw milk processed nationwide -- a concentration that works to suppress the farm price of milk. But the processor monopoly is more severe than that number suggests. Because of rigged marketing rules and the perishable nature of milk, farmers sell regionally, and these markets are even more locked down by the Big Two. The largest -- Dean Foods, an $8 billion behemoth -- controls 90% of dairy markets in Wisconsin and Michigan, 70% in New England and 70-90% in several other states.

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The evidence of Trump's crimes against humanity is piling up

There may come a time when top officials of the Trump administration, including the president himself, will no longer be able to travel abroad without fear of arrest by international authorities. Every day now, evidence accumulates that Trump and his appointees are perpetrating crimes against humanity on the southern border.

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Republicans were all in for the Benghazi witch hunt — but now they'd tear up the Constitution to protect Trump

Donald Trump will never build the Great Wall he envisioned on this country's southern border, but his lawyers and minions are erecting the largest stonewall against congressional oversight since Nixon's presidency. In a scolding letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House attorneys have said that the administration will simply reject some 81 subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee that he chairs.

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There's something crucial missing from Trump's overhaul of NAFTA — revealing the president as a shameful political fraud

"MAGA," blusters Donald Trump. "Make America Great Again!" America's ranching families, however, would like Trump to come off his high horse and get serious about a more modest goal, namely Make America COOL Again.

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Here's what made Robert Mueller so angry

The Republican message from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller report, featuring Attorney General Bill Barr, was perfectly blunt: Forget that any of this ever happened -- unless and until we can figure out how to blame Hillary Clinton.

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Trump's tax cut plan promised working class job creation and pay raises. Where did all the money go?

Famed bank robber Willie Sutton once explained that he busted into banks because "that's where the money is." What a small-timer! Corporate thieves - including the biggest banks - know that the big scores are in the tax code and federal budget. America's superrich establishment decided to woo Trump and his fanatical constituency to back their agenda of plutocratic plunder.

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Trump's nonstop 3-ring circus is the perfect distraction as corporations get away with highway robbery

As America rapidly urbanized in the 1920s and '30s, nearly every burgeoning city gave rise to a jumbled, boisterous side of town that lay somewhere between exciting and dangerous. One such place in my state, known as "Deep Ellum," was a stretch of Elm Street in East Dallas. A predominantly African American community, it also hosted a freewheeling mix of immigrant laborers, rural migrants, musicians, saloonkeepers, preachers, fortune-tellers and assorted hustlers. It was both bedazzling and dicey -- the sort of place where the blues lay in wait for innocents. As a popular song of the day warned:

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Trump has sold out the farmers that voted for him — and now they're racing toward calamity

As a farmer told me, "You can still make a small fortune in agriculture, but the problem is you have to start with a large fortune."

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It's not socialism — it's what the people want

"Socialism," snarled Donald Trump at a recent pep rally of far-right Republicans. And the obedient crowd of faithful Trumpistas snarled back in unison: "So-shull-izz-ummm!"

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Filthy rich: How Amazon and Jeff Bezos duped cities with their devil's bargain — and how to stop it from happening again

The richest man in the world, who heads one of the world's largest and richest corporations, is also filthy rich in arrogance and pomposity.

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Unlike Trump, Howard Schultz deserves credit for creating Starbucks. Like Trump, he's still not qualified to be president

The biography of Howard Schultz is the stuff of American capitalist folklore: a man who grew up in a Brooklyn housing project and amassed a fortune worth billions. Now he proposes to repay America by imposing the ruinous rule of Donald Trump for another four years.

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How billionaires weaponize their huge fortunes to get more for themselves — at the expense of the rest of us

The rich aren't merely different from you and me. ... They're ridiculous!

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The key lesson Democrats should learn before diving into the 2020 race

What lessons can we progressives take from our ballot box wins last year (and for that matter, from our losses)? What can we do to build on these victories and produce more in this year's elections — and in 2020?

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Trump's AG nominee helped perpetrate Steve Bannon's Uranium One hoax

Certain figures in Washington develop a gold-plated image over the years, praised so often in reputable media outlets as men (almost always men) of integrity that their reputations become unassailable. Nobody criticizes them, because they are defined above criticism. Often enough, these figures prove less perfect than advertised -- think Clark Clifford or Kenneth Starr.
Such a fellow is William Barr, whose nomination by President Trump for United States attorney general will come before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. His name is almost invariably adorned with adjectives like "prominent" and "respected." These days, it is also usually noted that he is one of the youngest lawyers who ever served in the office to which he again aspires, named by the late former President George H.W. Bush, of blessed memory, et cetera.
Given this uplifting consensus, it may seem churlish to mention some basic facts about Barr. Contrary to the sugar coating routinely applied by pundits to the Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush era, the Justice Department that Barr once headed was rife with political intrigue. (An attorney general predecessor of his -- one Edwin Meese, still at large -- barely escaped prison.)
The most blatant episode occurred one month before the 1992 presidential election, when Barr suddenly seized control of a minor matter in Little Rock, Arkansas. He ordered FBI agents in the Little Rock office to open an investigation of tiny Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan -- no later than Oct. 16! -- a move that was clearly designed to set up Bill and Hillary Clinton for embarrassment. Barr issued this order despite the fact that Charles Banks, the U.S. Attorney in eastern Arkansas, had determined there was no plausible evidence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons.
Barr's partisan directive plainly violated Justice Department strictures against any legal action that might influence a federal election. His intrusion enraged Banks -- a Republican appointee -- who dictated a sharply worded letter that left no doubt about his suspicions.
Banks declared that he would not participate in this "intentional or unintentional attempt to intervene into the political process of the upcoming presidential election" and warned that this "amounts to prosecutorial misconduct and violates the most basic fundamental rule of Justice Department policy." He closed by promising to direct "any press inquiry from any source whatsoever" to Barr.
Almost a quarter century later, Barr is the same partisan hack indulging in the same political mischief. And he is still targeting the Clintons.
Before he was nominated by Trump, he auditioned for the job by suggesting publicly that special counsel Robert Mueller has no legal basis to investigate the president for obstruction of justice. This worrisome opinion will no doubt be explored by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who fear that Barr will interfere with the Russia investigation.
They should also ask Barr why he believes that the Uranium One conspiracy theory -- which claims that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved a Russian takeover of U.S. uranium reserves in exchange for donations to The Clinton Foundation -- merits investigation by the Justice Department. "To the extent it is not pursuing these matters," he said last year, "the department is abdicating its responsibility."
Uranium One is a political hoax, albeit a hoax that Steve Bannon once contrived to place on the front page of The New York Times. It is false in every aspect, from the motives of the Clintons, to the process for approving the uranium asset sale by federal officials -- which Hillary Clinton could not have controlled as secretary of state, and which continued after she left office. So for Barr to promote this fraud means either that he is very stupid or that he is willing to misuse the Justice Department's investigative authority. And nobody thinks Barr is stupid.
So senators on the judiciary committee should ask why he uttered that remark. What evidence does he possess about Uranium One? What sources have informed his strange opinion? And will he pursue investigations to vindicate a political agenda?
It wouldn't be the first time.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

How industry devoured American agriculture - and corrupted our food system from the inside

Thanksgiving -- let's eat! America's most food-focused holiday traces its roots back to the abundant feast that Pilgrims and Native Americans enjoyed together in the fall of 1621. 

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