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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.
Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. He was featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary, "Outfoxed," and in the documentaries Joan Sekler's "Unprecedented," Matt Kohn's "Call It Democracy" and Robert Pappas' "Orwell Rolls in his Grave." The keynote speaker at the 2004 Congress of the International Federation of Journalists in Athens, Nichols has been a featured presenter at conventions, conferences and public forums on media issues sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Consumers International, the Future of Music Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Newspaper Guild [CWA] and dozens of other organizations.
Nichols is the author of the upcoming book The Genius of Impeachment (The New Press), as well as a critically-acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (The New Press) and a best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (The New Press), which has recently been published in French and Arabic. He edited Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books), of which historian Howard Zinn said: "At exactly the time when we need it most, John Nichols gives us a special gift--a collection of writings, speeches, poems, and songs from throughout American history--that reminds us that our revulsion to war and empire has a long and noble tradition in this country."
With Robert W. McChesney, Nichols has co-authored the books, It's the Media, Stupid! (Seven Stories), Our Media, Not Theirs (Seven Stories) and Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy (The New Press). McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation's media-reform network, which organized the 2003 and 2005 National Conferences on Media Reform.
Of Nichols, author Gore Vidal says: "Of all the giant slayers now afoot in the great American desert, John Nichols's sword is the sharpest."
What James Comey Gets Wrong About Donald Trump
To assure that presidents did not become elected despots, and to guarantee that unfit leaders could be removed when necessary, George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that "No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued."
Monday, April 16, 2018(3 comments)
Congress Needs to Cancel Trump's Blank Check for War
In one of his darkest moments as speaker, Ryan blocked consideration in 2017 of a bipartisan amendment to renew the role of Congress as a check and balance on presidential war making. As he did on so many issues, Ryan chose to hand a blank check to Donald Trump.
Monday, April 9, 2018
Donald Trump Actually Thinks He's Popular
Trump may experience temporary fluctuations in his approval ratings, but they are never great -- or even all that good. In fact, when it comes to approval ratings, it certainly looks like Trump's best days were back in November of 2016, when he was on the losing end of a 54-46 measure of popular sentiment.
The Real Problem With Sinclair
With their consolidation of ownership, and the dumbing down of newscasts, Sinclair's very conservative and very bottom-line-oriented owners are undermining local television stations in communities nationwide, providing less content and more doublespeak from the corporate headquarters in Maryland. It constantly puts profiteering ahead of the public interest.
Sunday, March 18, 2018(6 comments)
Bernie Sanders Wants to Tell the Story That Corporate Media Fails To Tell
For decades, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has objected to the failure of major media outlets to cover the growth of economic inequality in America. As a presidential contender in 2016, he used every opportunity that was afforded him in the media to address poverty, plutocracy and the consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of "the billionaire class."
Friday, March 16, 2018
The One Thing Democrats Should Learn From Conor Lamb
At precisely the point when strong unions are needed to address mounting inequality and injustice, Republicans such as Ryan and Walker have positioned their party on the side of virulently anti-labor extremism of the Kochs. Unfortunately, too many Democrats have continued to mount only lukewarm defenses of unions. That's a mistake that has cost the party politically.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018(5 comments)
The Koch Brothers Get Their Very Own Secretary of State
In the Republican wave election of 2010, when Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largesse was a political newcomer named Mike Pompeo. After his election to the House eight years ago, Pompeo was referred to as the "Koch Brothers' Congressman" and "the congressman from Koch."
Texas Progressive Laura Moser Is Beating Democratic Insiders
Moser now has the support not just of Our Revolution but also of other progressive groups, such as Justice Democrats and Democracy for America. DFA chair Jim Dean is already framing the fight as a contest between the failures of the past and a future where Democrats stand clearly on the side of economic and social justice.
Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes Are Betraying the Constitution in the Service of Donald Trump
Ryan's abandonment of the Constitution began long ago. But it culminated with the speaker's decision to support Friday's release of a partisan memo produced by disgraced House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) to discredit law-enforcement agencies that have organized and supported inquiries into Trump-campaign and Trump-administration wrongdoing.
Thursday, February 1, 2018(2 comments)
After a Dismal State of the Union, "We're Going to Shake Off Trump's Dark Shadow"
The president's address was a long and listless repetition of the right-wing themes that have defined his presidency: saber-rattling militarism, rejection of environmental sanity, neglect of domestic needs, and cruel stereotyping of immigrants. Trump's "nativist lies about immigrants" were reprehensible, and anyone who suggests this speech was "presidential" is lying to themselves. It was heartless and harmful.
A Governor Renews Net Neutrality Protections With the Stroke of a Pen
In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock picked up a pen. On January 22, the Democratic governor signed an executive order requiring Internet service providers that operate in the state to embrace net neutrality principles in order to obtain lucrative state government contracts. Bullock, whose order goes into effect July 1, is urging other governors to join him in pushing back against the FCC.
Monday, January 8, 2018
A President Who Attempts to Ban Books That Expose Him Should Be Impeached
With his attempt to cause an author and a publisher to "immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination" of a book that does not meet with his approval, Donald Trump has shown a callous disregard for the First Amendment to the Constitution. This is what tyrants do, not American presidents.
Thursday, January 4, 2018(1 comments)
Donald Trump Lies About Everything, Including Steve Bannon
For the better part of three years, Steve Bannon framed Donald Trump's politics, prodding the political newcomer to embrace the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stances of the Breitbart's alt-right community, serving as a very hands-on leader of the Republican nominee's fall campaign and then taking a place at the center of the new administration.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Wisconsin-born Marcus Raskin shaped progressive politics of two centuries
Raskin drew leading intellectuals into the process of establishing a "rational program" for postwar liberalism that might "serve as a basis for writing a suggested Democratic Party platform for 1960 and as a campaign text for liberal candidates." They produced "The Liberal Papers," an ambitious agenda that Commentary magazine described as an "indication of a resurgent citizenry in America."
Sunday, December 31, 2017(3 comments)
The 2017 Progressive Honor Roll
What began as a frightening and frustrating year ended with Alabama voters rejecting one of Trump's most vile allies in favor of a decent Democrat, Doug Jones, who claimed his victory in that state's senatorial contest by citing one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite quotations: "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Tuesday, December 26, 2017(2 comments)
A Scrooge Walks Among Us
Dickens imagined that spirited prodding from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future would change Scrooge -- just as there are those today who imagine that a bit more enlightenment might cause even a Paul Ryan to reconsider his disregard for the unemployed, the underemployed, and the never employed.
Sunday, December 24, 2017(6 comments)
Democrats Need to Make Clear that Firing Mueller Triggers Impeachment
When a president creates a constitutional crisis, the difficulty of responding does not change the fact that the right response is the application of the constitutional remedy that the founders outlined. If Trump commits the most extensive injustice, Democrats (and responsible Republicans) should make it clear that his abuses of power will be met with the power of impeachment.
Donald Trump's Most Vile Tweets Yet Deserve Global Condemnation
It actually takes some serious provocation to get the British government to call out the president of the United States. But Donald Trump brought the wrath of No. 10 Downing Street upon himself Wednesday by retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a leading figure in one of the most notorious far-right groups in the world.
Friday, November 24, 2017
Trump Greets Thanksgiving With an Unhealthy Serving of Xenophobia
It is surely true that presidents and citizens do not always rise to the challenges of our times. But the 45th president really is the worst of the lot. His inability to recognize the cruel irony of attacking refugees at Thanksgiving time illustrates just how disconnected Trumpism is from the arc of American history that bends toward justice.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017(9 comments)
Donald Trump's FCC is a Clear and Present Danger to Democracy
The FCC was charged in 1934 with the clear mission of protecting the "public interest" from profiteers and propagandists. That mission was enhanced and extended over time. It was threatened, as well -- but never so aggressively, nor so dramatically, as it is now threatened. It is dangerous. It threatens the discourse that sustains democracy at the local, state and national levels.
"I'm Everything Trump Hates," Says the New Mayor of Hoboken
If there is an American elected official who is the opposite of Donald Trump, it could well be Ravinder Bhalla. A Sikh-American lawyer with a record of fighting discrimination, Bhalla says, "I'm everything that Trump hates. A brown man wearing a turban, and a proud American with the know-how to stop his assaults on our country's values."
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Donald Trump's Best Day Was a Year Ago -- Sad!
Trump proved in 2016 that it is not enough to run against him. Instead, it is necessary to run on policies that are diametrically opposed to Trumpism: for taxing the rich and busting up monopolies, for higher wages and Medicare for All, for averting wars and addressing climate change -- and for reforming a political system so corrupt that it produced a President Donald Trump.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Trump's FCC Chair Moves to Undermine Journalism and Democracy
Pai announced that the FCC would vote as soon as November on a proposal to eliminate the cross-ownership rules and usher in a new era of media monopoly. The assault on cross-ownership rules is the ultimate government intervention, as it will clear the way for large corporations to gobble up media outlets, consolidate newsrooms and diminish competition.
Thursday, October 19, 2017(2 comments)
Jeff Sessions Keeps Lying to the Senate
Jeff Sessions has proven himself to be unfit for office. He has, with deceptive responses to questions from senators, and with his involvement in the Comey firing, committed what the founders understood as "high crimes and misdemeanors." He should now be held to account, using the tool that the Constitution affords members of Congress to impose accountability on officials who lie in official settings: impeachment.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017(4 comments)
Actually, No, Bob Corker and John McCain Are Doing Nothing to Hold Trump Accountable
Corker is correct in his concern. But being correct is not enough. The senator needs to do more than simply issue warnings about a president who is in need of "adult day care." He has a duty to join the members of Congress who are seeking to place limits on Trump's ability to steer the world toward a planet-obliterating World War III.
Why Do Republicans (and Some Democrats) Vilify Single Payer?
Single payer is a bad idea for senators whose political survival is based on their ability to bank checks from health-care profiteers and billionaire speculators. But it is a very good idea for America. The money power, and its feudal serfs in the Senate, will keep fighting against the common good.
The Most Serious Challenge to Gerrymandering in Modern Times Reaches the Supreme Court
The democratic disconnect has strengthened the argument that the gerrymandering of district lines denies voters their right to participate in fair and competitive elections. And jurists have begun to accept that something must be done to make elections more reflective of the popular will. Change this monumental will not come without a fight.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Trump's First Speech Before the UN Was an Absurd, Bombastic Disaster
After Trump's recent Twitter storms and his stormy speech to the United Nations, the need for Congress to intervene grows more urgent. The Constitution rests the power to declare war with Congress. Congress must make it clear to the president that he cannot act alone, based on his whims, furies, and fantasies. This should not be a partisan issue. There should be no ideological divide on this one.
Monday, September 18, 2017(1 comments)
Honor the Constitution by Impeaching Jeff Sessions
Jeff Sessions is a crudely intolerant political careerist whose enthusiastic talk about scrapping DACA provided a reminder of how he uses his ill-gotten position to divide Americans against one another. Jeff Sessions has no business heading a department named "Justice." He should be impeached and removed.
Friday, September 15, 2017(2 comments)
The CIA Director Just Bullied Harvard Into Throwing Chelsea Manning to the Curb
Manning blew the whistle on what would come to be understood as military and diplomatic scandals because she felt Americans had a right to know what was being done in their name but without their informed consent. Mike Pompeo, a secretive and conflicted politician, has no such instinct; he serves wealth and power without questioning whether the dictates of the privileged are right or honorable.
Paul Ryan Debated a Nun and the Nun Won
Paul Ryan, with his proposals to gut the Affordable Care Act, and with his long history of looking for ways to undermine Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and nutrition programs, has got the calculus exactly wrong. Despite the evidence that federal, state, and local action to address poverty works, he wants to weaken those programs.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
What "The Village Voice" Taught Us About Speaking Truth to Power
For decades, The Village Voice was a Manhattan-based weekly newspaper with national reach and an outsized influence on American journalism. Tuesday's announcement that it would cease print publication inspired "End of an Era" headlines across the country.
Friday, August 11, 2017(2 comments)
Congress Is Pushing Back Against Trump's Dangerously Ignorant Nuclear Threats
Donald Trump swore a parallel oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Congress should remind him of that by outlining clear limits on the use of force -- especially with regard to to preemptive and unilateral nuclear strikes. If, in the end, Trump chooses to disregard his oath, then he should be impeached and removed from office.
Monday, August 7, 2017(12 comments)
America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition. DSA Is Reviving It.
DSA got a big boost from the surge of interest in democratic socialism that grew from the Sanders campaign. Bernie upended decades of right-wing histrionics, Democratic Party caution, and media neglect that bordered on malpractice when he showed America that a national contender could embrace the "S" word and survive.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Scott Walker's Crony Capitalism
Walker is running for re-election and, as a career politician, he is perfectly happy to sacrifice fiscal responsibility on the altar of his own ambition. Never mind that, in doing so, he embraces precisely the sort of crony capitalism that sincere conservatives have long decried.
Friday, July 21, 2017(6 comments)
Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump a Blank Check for Endless War
House Speaker Paul Ryan had an opportunity not merely to reassert the authority of the chamber he is supposed to lead but also to steer the United States away from the dangerous course of endless war and steady subservience to an ever-more-powerful military-industrial complex. Ryan squandered that opportunity.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017(6 comments)
ALEC Is Talking About Changing the Way Senators Are Elected and Taking Away Your Vote
The idea of reversing 104 years of representative democracy and returning to the bad old days when senators were chosen via backroom deals between wealthy campaign donors, corporate lobbyists, and crooked legislators, is not new. The John Birch Society peddled the proposal decades ago. But with the rise of the "Tea Party" movement, the notion moved into the conservative mainstream.
Net Neutrality Is About Much More Than the Internet
Because our lives are now so digital, and because they are becoming so automated, the fight over net neutrality is really the fight over the whole of the future. It comes down to a simple question: Will that future be defined by civic and democratic values? Or will it defined by commercial and entertainment values?
Monday, July 10, 2017(3 comments)
Donald Trump's Proposal to Partner With Putin on Cybersecurity Is a Joke
A response to cyber threats -- both external and internal -- is necessary. So, too, is a response to broader threats to the integrity of elections across the United States. Those threats go far beyond concerns that have arisen following allegations of Russian hacking. Trump's tweets are, at best, distractions from all of these issues.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Democrats Must Become America's Anti-Gerrymandering Party
The Republicans, with tremendous support from billionaire campaign donors such as the Koch brothers, have mastered the art of making elections noncompetitive. Americans hate the current system. They tell pollsters it is too owned by special interests, too mangled by money, too deferential towards political careerists, and too disrespectful toward voters.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017(1 comments)
The Supreme Court Takes Up the Question of Whether Gerrymandering Is Unconstitutional
Because the Electoral College can upset the results of the popular vote for president of the United States, it is possible for a Donald Trump to lose by almost 3 million votes and still end up in the Oval Office. That's unfair and dysfunctional. And that is not the only example of unfairness and dysfunction in American electoral politics.
Friday, June 16, 2017(1 comments)
A Progressive Electoral Wave Is Sweeping the Country
A new resistance-and-renewal politics is sending a signal to conservative Republicans and cautious Democrats alike about the ability of bold progressive populists to win in every part of the country. That's why it is so worrisome that these electoral shock waves have been crashing against the wall of ignorance and indifference that surrounds a Trump-obsessed Washington media.
Only One House Republican is Taking a Stand Against Devin Nunes' Tainted Investigation
If Ryan took his duties as speaker seriously, he would remove the compromised chair from the Intelligence Committee. But Ryan, the Republican political careerist from Wisconsin who bid for the vice presidency in 2012, has made it clear that party loyalty in general, and loyalty to Trump in particular, takes priority over his constitutional responsibilities.
Monday, March 27, 2017(1 comments)
Neil Gorsuch's Own Testimony Clearly Disqualifies Him
Even those who might be inclined to approve Gorsuch under different circumstances cannot accept the illicit manner in which his nomination has been advanced. The politics of obstruction and lying that Republicans -- including Donald Trump -- employed to block Merrick Garland's nomination corrupted the process.
Sunday, March 19, 2017(4 comments)
Trump's Plan to Eliminate Public Broadcasting Would Hurt Listeners in Trump Country
The president's first federal budget proposal seeks to eliminate all federal funding for public broadcasting -- zeroing out the $445 million annual allocation to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the not-for-profit entity created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 to keep local public radio and television stations on the air.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
This House Republican Just Endorsed a White Nationalist
King has surely discredited himself, and as a sitting congressman he has discredited -- and diminished -- the US House of Representatives. He merits, at the very least, the response from his colleagues that Democratic and Republican US senators directed toward Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy when they finally held the disreputable hatemonger to account in 1954.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Federal Court Rules Texas Gerrymandering Unconstitutional
Paul Ryan, who holds his seat thanks to gerrymandering in Wisconsin, won't approve of the court decision. But Americans who want sound policy on issues such as health care will. That's because there is a dawning recognition that gerrymandering is the enemy of responsive and responsible governance.
Thursday, March 9, 2017(4 comments)
Sean Spicer Is Lying About Trump's Health-Care Debacle
Apart from the fact that the plan proposed by Trump and Ryan makes things worse (as opposed to saving the system), and that Trump ran on roughly a dozen different health-care platforms (flirting with everything from single-payer to survival-of-the-fittest, but always promising to make things "great"), there is no truth to the statement that "this is the Obamacare replacement plan that everyone has been asking for."