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📝 Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles

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#321

Excellent, brief video from the WaPo explaining how the QAnon conspiracy took hold. IMHO, these folks are totally bonkers – sadly, their delusions, plus the milder (yet nonetheless divorced from reality) delusions of many supporters within Trump’s base are at the root of our current political crisis. It’s a small step from believing the front page of the National Enquirer to believing the QAnon conspiracy theory.


#322

Thanks…excellent explanation of it.

“We’re strangers in a strange land” dept. here.


#323

For details on today’s federal ruling referenced in this editorial, see Day 763.

… As the Miami Herald first reported in an exhaustive investigation, Epstein owes his freedom in part to the efforts of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who, in his previous role as a U.S. attorney in Miami, declined to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws. A conviction under these laws could have put him in prison for the rest of his life. Instead, Acosta and his fellow prosecutors worked closely with Epstein’s legal team, which included Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, to negotiate a non-prosecution agreement that allowed him to plead guilty to two charges of prostitution. He served 13 months in a private wing of the county jail in 2007. Prosecutors then agreed to seal the deal, without informing Epstein’s victims that any agreement had been reached at all.

The shamefully lenient deal that Acosta offered Epstein did not actually violate the law, but in hiding that deal from Epstein’s victims, Acosta knowingly committed a crime – that is what Judge Kenneth Marra just confirmed with his ruling.

Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility,” Marra wrote. “When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.’’

It’s not yet clear if Marra’s ruling will necessarily force Acosta from office. According to the Herald , Marra gave attorneys for victims and the government 15 days to reach some kind of resolution, though the verdict didn’t spell out what that resolution could look like. The Justice Department says on its website that employees who “willfully or wantonly” fail to comply with the law could face suspension or termination, but Acosta no longer works for the department. And until he was implicated in the Epstein deal, Acosta enjoyed a relatively uncontroversial public profile by the standards of the Trump administration. That quietude is at an end, as he no longer faces a scandal but a legal crisis. Even so, his resignation doesn’t quite seem assured. In perhaps any other presidential administration, Marra’s verdict would lead swiftly to an Acosta resignation. Trump’s cabinet is notably corrupt, however, and while several of its members have indeed resigned when waters became too hot for them to tolerate, there’s no clear, consistent red line that a Trump secretary has to cross before they remove themselves from office. Acosta also doesn’t serve a president renowned for his deep commitment to protecting women and girls from abuse. The same culture of impunity that insulates elite predators like Epstein from justice could keep Acosta in power.

Unless, of course, the secretary chooses a different path. Marra’s verdict can’t rectify old damages, but Acosta could help mend things further by voluntarily removing himself from power. His resignation is now long overdue.


#324

Jon Stewart: What 9/11 heroes need from Congress. Make the Victim Compensation Fund permanent, and fund it

By Jon Stewart

Feb 25, 2019 | 5:00 AM

For the heroes and victims. Again.

Today I am in our nation’s capital. I don’t particularly enjoy coming down here. It is a town that has four 8th Sts., and none of them intersect.

I am walking the halls of Congress with injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors, looking to see if “Remembering 9/11” is more than a cheap obligatory slogan senators and representatives tweet out.

The fact that we continue to need to do this is beyond my comprehension.

First responders, firefighters, police, construction workers, Red Cross volunteers, transit workers, FBI agents and school teachers are going door to door, down marble-lined hallways, because 17 years after the attacks on 9/11, injured and ill responders, survivors and their families are still dealing with the impact of the toxins at Ground Zero.

They are in every state and 434 out of 435 Congressional Districts.

Last week, the Justice Department announced that because of a lack of funding, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) will need to make severe cuts of between 50% and 70% on pending compensation awards for injuries caused by the toxins. This will impact thousands of 9/11 responders, survivors and their families who have been waiting years for help.

This is madness.

The Justice Department, which has supervised the VCF over three administrations, has done a good job in fulfilling its obligations under the current law and current funding level.

The only ones who can fix this are in Congress.

I fully recognize that the words “fix this” and “Congress” may appear mutually exclusive. But Congress must fund the VCF so it can deal with the increase in claims and stop the fund from closing its doors next year when its authorization expires.

Congress must pass the bipartisan bill that’s titled Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. This legislation, being introduced today by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer and Cory Gardner, and Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Pete King, with support from members across the nation, fully funds the VCF so that these heroes never have to drag themselves down these hallways again.

It reverses the cuts in awards and keeps the fund open to deal with those that have yet to be impacted by the toxins at Ground Zero.

The numbers of those coming forward with illnesses and cancers related to the toxins at Ground Zero grows every single day.

In the World Trade Center Health Program, 45,000 people are suffering from at least one 9/11-related chronic health condition. More than 10,000 have been certified with a 9/11-related cancer, with more being diagnosed every day, and almost every other day another 9/11 responder or survivor dies from a 9/11-associated cancer.

And yet here we are….again.

Despite the way Washington generally operates, I believe that this legislation may be one of the few bipartisan bills that can pass Congress this session, or at least should.

I urge anyone reading this to contact their members of Congress, and make sure they are supporting this bill. The U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.

This May, with the support of Mike Bloomberg, Gov. Cuomo and the board members of the 9/11 museum, a new space will be dedicated on the memorial glade in downtown Manhattan to honor those who have become ill and those that have died from 9/11 related illnesses. The space will never bring closure to those who have lost so much and continue to suffer so deeply, but it will recognize the great courage and strength they gave so willingly and the price they continue to pay.

We ask so much of our Nation’s first responders and volunteers. Let us not repay their selflessness with apathy.

Stewart is former host of “The Daily Show.”


#325

Twenty-five years ago, Congress hauled before it the top executives of the nation’s seven largest tobacco companies and forced them to make a number of long-overdue admissions about cigarettes — including that they might cause cancer and heart disease and that the executives had suppressed evidence of their addictive potential. In one dramatic exchange, when pressed by Representatives Henry Waxman and Ron Wyden, the executives denied that their products were addictive but admitted that they would not want their own children to use them.

The hearing ushered in a public health victory for the ages. In its wake, lawmakers and health officials enacted measures that would ultimately bring smoking rates in the United States to an all-time low.

With seven pharmaceutical executives set to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, one can only hope for a similarly pivotal moment for prescription drug prices. Like their predecessors in the tobacco industry, the drug makers will testify at a time of near-universal anger over industry antics.

Drug prices are soaring in a way that defies reason. A vial of insulin that cost less than $200 a decade ago now sells for closer to $1,500. Actimmune, a drug that treats malignant osteoporosis and sells for less than $350 for a one-month supply in Britain, costs $26,000 for a one-month supply in the United States. And the prices of many drugs — that treat cancers, high blood pressure, allergies and more — have risen so much that average consumers are rationing them, at grave peril. Not even experts seem to know how those prices are set or why they keep rising.


(M A Croft) #326

In 2015 - 16 many people in NZ were hugely opposed to the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (the TPPA) and they were opposed for a number of reasons but one of the principle reasons was this - the threat by American pharmaceutical companies to impose escalating costs on drugs. Actually we were actually “relieved” when Trump said that he would not have a bar of it, and it didn’t pass through Congress because it didn’t “protect” American drug company interests and famers among other things. The cost of my medication for 3 months is $NZ5 - that’s about $US3.50. Why America doesn’t have a universal Health Plan and centrally funded pharmaceutical agency beats me. You pay the most per person for health care than any other western nation and have one of the poorest outcomes - if life expectancy is to be take as a viable measure.



#327

Why don’t we have a centrally funded pharmacy program? Money, primarily, and a medical lobby (including pharmacy companies ) that maintain the status quo.


#328

Peggy Noonan was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan. While she is still very much a conservative, and is writing for the WSJ, also a conservative paper she is known to be fair-minded as well. She describes Cohen’s testimony in the context of history, and notes that Cohen was credible and impactful. No doubt about that.

Michael Cohen Makes History

There’s no precedent for such an attack on the essential nature of an American president.

By

Peggy Noonan

Michael Cohen is, famously, a lowlife and screwball who’s made his living as an enforcer, liar and thug. He is going to prison essentially for these things. He has taken to implying his turning on Donald Trump is linked to an inner moral conversion, which may be true but is conveniently timed: He has nothing to lose and some form of leniency to gain.

But I found his testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee credible overall, and I suspect most everyone in America did, because no one, friend of the president or foe, love him or hate him, thinks Mr. Trump has a high personal character or an especially admirable back story. And that was Mr. Cohen’s subject.

Democrats say the purpose of the hearing was to get at the truth, Republicans say it was to disrupt the Trump presidency, and both are correct. But history, which is a real and actual thing, was also at the table, and this is what history was told by a man who was for 10 years the president’s personal lawyer and confidante, an intimate who was present at the creation:

Mr. Cohen implied the president’s Russian policies are not and never have been on the up-and-up: “Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump-Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign, and lied about it. He lied because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real-estate project.” Mr. Cohen said he came to see the president’s true character: “Since taking office he has become the worst version of himself. . . . Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, the campaign is going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history.’ He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign—for him—was always a marketing opportunity.”

None of these charges were new, precisely. They have been made in books, investigations and interviews both on and off the record. What is amazing though is that such a rebuke—such an attack on the essential nature of a president, and by an intimate—has no equal in our history. I don’t think, as we talk about Mr. Cohen’s testimony, we fully appreciate this. John Dean said there was a cancer growing in the presidency. He didn’t say Richard Nixon was the cancer. He didn’t say the president was wicked and a fraud.

This is bigger than we think, and history won’t miss the import of this testimony.

Were the hearings step one in an ultimate impeachment attempt? We’ll see. The 7½ hours came across like the artillery bombardment before the charge. Older Democrats will counsel that the way forward is to spend the next year weakening the president—2020 is coming, a move to impeach will cause grave national trouble. Will they prevail?

Everyone focuses on the always-upcoming Mueller report, but the action seems to be in Manhattan. When Mr. Cohen was asked if there were any illegal acts regarding Donald Trump that hadn’t come up in the hearings, he said yes. “Those are a part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York,” meaning the U.S. attorney there. What did the president or one of his agents communicate to Mr. Cohen the last time they had contact? “This topic is actually something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York.”

The Southern District of New York sure sounds busy. They’ve granted immunity to the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, and they’re not limited by a specific mandate. They can look into any crime that took place within their jurisdiction. They took down the Mafia using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Performance by the new committee members was uneven. When the professionally fiery Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) made a speech implying that Republican member Mark Meadows was racist, Chairman Elijah Cummings defused the situation and Ms. Tlaib retreated, suggesting she was sorry she was misunderstood, by which she seemed to mean she was sorry she’d been comprehended. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, under criticism back home for her role in dooming the Amazon jobs deal, shrewdly played against type, eschewing a showy speech and instead asking carefully targeted questions.

Mr. Cohen didn’t always seem to be telling the whole truth. At least in one instance he appears to have misremembered or been untruthful. That is when he claimed he hadn’t wanted a job in the White House. Reporters who were there remember it differently. Dana Bash: “All of us, by people in and around the process, real time [were told] he very much wanted a job in the White House.”

Mr. Cohen insisted he had been offered a job, in White House counsel Don McGahn’s office, and rejected it. But that was the tell: Such jobs traditionally go to bright young people with impeccable credentials and good social skills. The president’s 50-year-old personal lawyer and fixer would have wanted a bigger role and title. If he felt dissed by such an offer it’s because he was.

I want to return to the subject of the president’s character. I texted this week with a great Trump supporter in Georgia, with whom I’d talked often during the 2016 campaign. “We do not care what Trump did before he became our president,” she said. “He has kept his promises to us.”

She was saying essentially that he has a high political character.

She does not trust those who’ve been around the president, calling them “liars, leakers and backstabbers.” I asked why he would have appointed bad men and women as aides. “He hired bad people in error,” she said. “They were bad actors, disloyal people. He was betrayed by them.”

She feels Mr. Trump has come through, from the courts to the economy. And when he got to Washington he didn’t go native—he still hates all the right people. She has also become protective of him. She sees him clobbered every day in every way throughout media. It has made him not only a sympathetic figure but an endearing one.

We close with Mr. Cummings, in his 23rd year in the House. He put a fair-minded face on the hearing. His closing remarks were powerful and humane, and seemed targeted not only at Mr. Cohen but perhaps at the newer members of Congress.

We are here to improve our democracy, he said.

To Mr. Cohen: “If I hear you correctly, it sounds like you’re crying out for a new normal—for us getting back to normal. Sounds to me like you want to make sure our democracy stays intact.”

Then, more broadly: “The one meeting I had with the president, I said, ‘The greatest gift we can give to our children is making sure we give them a democracy that is better than the one we came upon.’ ” He hoped all of us can get “the democracy we want,” and pass it on to our children, “so they can do better than we did.”

Amen.


#329

NYTimes: John Dean: I Testified Against Nixon. Here’s My Advice for Michael Cohen.

Indeed, what is most similar about my and Mr. Cohen’s testimony is that we both challenged authoritarian presidents of the United States by revealing their lies and abuses of power. Mr. Trump is the first authoritarian president since Mr. Nixon, and neither he nor his supporters will play fair. Mr. Cohen will be dealing with these people the rest of his life.

In fact, all Americans are affected by the growing authoritarianism that made Mr. Trump president. These people who facilitated his rise will remain long after Mr. Trump is gone. We need to pay more attention.


#330

Another Maureen Dowd take down of the sad state of affairs between T and Cohen.

“Mr. Trump is an enigma,” Cohen said. “He is complicated, as am I.”

Actually, Trump is simple, grasping for money, attention and fame. The enigma about Trump is why he cut off his lap dog so brutally that Cohen fell into the embrace of Robert Mueller and New York federal prosecutors. Trump is often compared to a mob boss, but Michael Corleone would never turn on a loyal capo, only on one who had crossed him.

The portrait Cohen drew of Trump was not surprising. It has been apparent for some time that the president is a con man, racist, cheat and liar. (See: Jared Kushner security clearance.)

What was most compelling about the congressional hearing was the portrait of the sadistic relationship between the sycophant and the sociopath.

The problem in a nutshell, as Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien once told The Times, was that Michael Cohen wasn’t Roy Cohn. The latter Trump lawyer was the one who helped shape Trump’s character or lack thereof, drumming in the win-at-all-costs mentality Donald had learned at his father’s knee.

Trump, who once bleated “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” in his anger about Jeff Sessions recusing himself, wanted a lawyer who was whip-smart, amoral, ruthless and predatory. Cohen was merely Renfield to Trump’s Dracula, gratefully eating insects and doing the fiend’s bidding.

If Trump was more sophisticated and had the ability to think long term, he would have anticipated that Cohen might have become a problem if he didn’t hold him close,” O’Brien told me. But Trump isn’t a long-term thinker.

“He’s never had to deal with the people he has face-planted coming back to haunt him — ever. He’s been doing this to people for decades,” O’Brien said. The difference now? “He never had law enforcement turning people on him and essentially weaponizing them against him.”

D’Antonio agreed that “the president made the mistake of disrespecting Cohen because he believed he had purchased Michael and that he would stay bought. When the underdog turns and bites hard, the overdog is always surprised.”


#331

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/opinion/rudy-giuliani-trump.html&ved=2ahUKEwj_1PLP2-vgAhUQ7J4KHYqMB6gQxfQBMAF6BAgBEAQ&usg=AOvVaw2yNymxViJ_rfAb4n0pNJ6X

Hmmm… trying to add an OP-ed from the NYT. How do you get the nice little boxes? Second question, how do you get the quotes from the article?

Thanks…


#332

@GracieC

Hope this might help… Copy the address, with the web address that looks closest to the source. It looks like you have Google as your primary source, but the article comes from the NYT. The Link I chose looks like …https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/opinion/rudy-giuliani-trump.html

THe boxes will create themselves, if you have the most direct link…and leave space before and after.

Quotation marks or indented areas
Once you have selected the portions of the article you want, put your cursor over the area, and highlight it. Then go to " sign on the top bar. It should indent your section…

Quote info
And if you want to Quote someone else’s section. Highlight the part you want to quote, and then put the cursor on the word QUOTE, it will bring that section down to a new box.

Just helping where I think I know what you are asking!

Hope it makes sense.:smile:


#333

@GracieC Thanks for that interesting op-ed. I remember when Giuliani was a well respected U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 80’s, but I’d forgotten how instrumental he was in developing RICO prosecution strategies. It’s certainly ironic to think that those very strategies might now be used to bring down his best buddy. :thinking:


#334

It makes sense now. We’ll see what happens when I try it, lol!

Ok, I need to back up a step. How do I determine the address? NYT isn’t showing the web address when I’m reading the article…which is why I went to Google.


#335

I was fascinated by the mob family take on the trump organization. It really fits.


#336

Not really sure, except maybe your browser (I use Firefox and Chrome) is not showing the address. Perhaps you can look under View perhaps (I have MAC) and open up your computer screen a bit more to make sure you can see it. Just guessing though.

Perhaps some others can help. :grin:


#337

Here’s a video on how to copy and paste a web address from a browser into an email on a PC (see 0:50). The process for pasting a web address into a forum post is similar.

If you’re not seeing a web address that starts with something like https://www.nytimes.com in the address bar at the top of your browser (as shown in the video), then I’m not sure what’s up. If that’s the case, maybe you can explain a little more about what you see when you’re on the web page and, if you can, send a screen shot.

To take this offline (so it’s not in this thread), feel free to send me a message – click on your personal icon (the big G) in the upper right corner of your screen and then click on the envelope icon. Hope this helps.


#338

This goes to the anticipation for the Mueller Report. There is such an overwhelming (for many) expectation about hearing about what really has happened.

For some at the end of life, it may not come in time.

It is a very pognant reminder that we are living in a tumultuous time and we are hanging on every word, indictment and court filing of Mueller’s to understand what’s what.

I read Ben Wittes’ earlier reference to this and felt the same…(see below)

Elderly Trump Critics Await Mueller’s Report — Sometimes Until Death : NPR


#339

Just another reminder that we are living through a historical moment.


#340

Must Listen

Terry Gross does a fantastic job interviewing Jane Mayer about her new eposé on the relationship between Fox News and the Trump Administration from the New Yorker magazine. Have a listen :headphones: