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📝 Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles

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#401

Yes…Gerrymandering is a big problem. Good article @Windthin


(David Bythewood) #402

#403

Elaina Plott’s latest in The Atlantic

Only for women, though, do Trump and his supporters deploy their most sinister lines of attack. In 2016, it was not enough to call Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” or criticize her vision for the country. Rather, it was necessary to call for her physical removal from public life, and her sentencing to a place where she wouldn’t be heard from again. “Lock her up!” is as identifiable with Trumpism as “Build the wall!,” and the chant continues at rallies to this day, even as Clinton, true to Trump’s wishes, has faded into the background.

There was a troubling sense of déjà vu, then, when the crowd at Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday trained their eyes on Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, chanting “Send her back!” in a play on Trump’s own words from a few days before. It was an evolution, an even darker version of the invective against Clinton—where the president’s supporters once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another to be literally banished from the country. The episode prompts urgent questions not only about what Omar can expect as Trump’s 2020 campaign ramps up, but also about what Trump’s eventual challenger, if it’s a woman, can anticipate as well.

“Lock her up”
“Build that wall”
“Drain the swamp”
“Send her back”

These words matter, they are all indicative of current White House policy. I’ve heard of policy by committee but this is policy by mob.


#404

Must listen to…Benjamin Wittes of LAWFARE- our “boom” alert :boom: and legal scholar, journalist as well as Susan Hennessy, who is a lawyer, and formerly with NSA who have put together a PODCAST about The Mueller Report

Discussed on Maddow tonight…

For the past several weeks, a group of us has been working on a project to tell the story of the Mueller Report in an accessible form. The Mueller Report tells a heck of a story, a bunch of incredible stories, actually. But it does so in a form that’s hard for a lot of people to take in. It’s very long. It’s legally dense in spots. It’s marred with redactions. It’s also, shall we say, not optimized for your reading pleasure.

Various folks have made efforts to make the document easier to consume: the report is now an audiobook; it’s been staged as a play; there have been live readings. We took a different approach: a serialized narrative podcast.

The extended network of writers, experts, lawyers, and journalists around Lawfare represents a unique body of expertise in the public conversation of the issues discussed in the report. So we teamed up with Goat Rodeo, a podcast production group in Washington, to use that group of people as a lens through which to tell the story contained in the report. The first episode, entitled “Active Measures,” is now out and covers the Russian social media campaign and the activities of the Internet Research Agency.

It features Alina Polyakova, Clint Watts, John Sipher, and Thomas Rid:

We hope to release these episodes weekly, but as listeners to this one will gather, they are extremely labor intensive to put together, so we’re not going to be bound to any particularly tight time frame. We are going to go through the whole report, however long it takes to do so.


#405

@dragonfly9

I started listening this morning, it’s really well presented. Definitely a must listen!


#406

Yes!

First one is 38 mins.


#407

As the Grand Old Party becomes more corrupt, entrenched and all out of good ideas, this Nicholas Kristoff Op-Ed zeros in on what’s been lost. No words beyond the rascist commentary and stubbornly aligned this party has become - in order to maintain their power structure.

Absolute WTFery

The tragedy of today’s Republican Party lies partly in how far it has tumbled from its heights.

This is the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. It is the party that built interstate highways, championed family planning, founded the Environmental Protection Agency, opened relations with China, confronted the Soviet Union and managed the collapse of Communism.

It is the party that under Ronald Reagan welcomed refugees. It is the party of men who exemplified decency like George H.W. Bush and adherence to a moral compass like John McCain.

At a rally in 2008, McCain corrected a questioner who called Barack Obama untrustworthy and an “Arab.” “No, ma’am,” McCain told the crowd. “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

Today that Grand Old Party has devolved into a personality cult surrounding a racist demagogue who incites a mob to chant about a Somali-American member of Congress: “Send her back!”


#408

T’s agenda, now very much a Republican one is to bring back an era where stark racism is exposed. Good article which takes a long view of what the Conservatives are adhering to now. Quote: The only thing new Trump brings to the American nationalism of recent decades is a restoration of its old ethnic-chauvinist tradition.

The conservative intelligentsia flocked to the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., this week for the National Conservatism Conference, an opportunity for people who may never have punched a time clock to declare their eternal enmity toward elites and to attempt to offer contemporary conservative nationalism the intellectual framework that has so far proved elusive.

Yoram Hazony, the Israeli scholar who organized the conference, explicitly rejected white nationalism, barring several well-known adherents from attending, my colleague Emma Green reported. But despite Hazony’s efforts, the insistence that “nationalism” is, at its core, about defending borders, eschewing military interventions, and promoting a shared American identity did not prevent attendees from explicitly declaring that American laws should favor white immigrants.

Some other attendees, such as National Review ’s Rich Lowry, took pains to distance themselves from the president’s brand of nationalism. “We have to push back against Donald Trump when he does things to increase that breach between the right and African Americans,” Lowry said. But in the fall of 2017, when Trump attempted to silence black athletes protesting police brutality, Lowry praised his “gut-level political savvy,” writing, “This kind of thing is why he’s president.”

The conference stood solidly within the conservative intellectual tradition, as a retroactive attempt by the right-wing intelligentsia to provide cover for what the great mass of Republican voters actually want. Barry Goldwater did not break the Solid South in 1964 because the once Democratic voters of the Jim Crow states had suddenly become principled small-government libertarians; voters who backed Donald Trump in 2016 did not do so because they believed a nonracial civic nationalism had been eroded by liberal cosmopolitanism.

The consensus that American civic nationalism recognizes all citizens regardless of race, creed, color, or religion was already fragile before Trump took office. That principle has been lauded, with varying degrees of sincerity, by presidents from both parties, and in particular by the first black president, who reveled in reminding audiences that “in no other country in the world is my story even possible.” The nationalism that conservatives say they wish to build in fact already existed, but it was championed by a president whose persona was so deformed by right-wing caricature that they could not perceive it. Instead, they embraced the nationalism that emerged as a backlash to his very existence and all it represented.

Trump’s nationalist innovation is not taking pride in his country, supporting a principled non-interventionism, or even advocating strict enforcement of immigration laws. The only thing new Trump brings to the American nationalism of recent decades is a restoration of its old ethnic-chauvinist tradition. Conservative intellectuals cannot rescue nationalism from Trump, any more than they could rescue Goldwater from Jim Crow, because Trump’s explicit appeals to racial and religious traditionalism, and his authoritarian approach to enforcing those hierarchies, are the things that have bound conservative voters so closely to him. The failure of the conservative intelligentsia to recognize this is why it was caught so off-guard by Trump’s rise to begin with.

At a rally last night in North Carolina, Trump was reminding the country of this truth. Last week, the president told four Democratic congresswomen—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar—to “go back” to their countries, even though all of them are American citizens. This is literally textbook racism. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers “Go back to where you came from” as its example of potentially unlawful harassment on the basis of national origin.

Trump’s demand is less a factual assertion than a moral one, an affirmation of the president’s belief that American citizenship is conditional for people of color, who should be grateful we are even allowed to be here. Some elected Republicans offered gentle rebukes; others defended the president’s remarks. But at his rally in North Carolina, Trump showed them all that the base is with him. The crowd erupted into chants of “Send her back” when the president mentioned Omar, the Minnesota representative who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia.

Faced with the president’s baldly expressed bigotry toward four women of color in Congress, Republicans turned to reporters to argue that his attacks are part of a clever political strategy, elevating four left-wing women of color into the faces of his opposition. I suspect these Republicans, and some political reporters, believe that this somehow exonerates Trump from the charge of bigotry, as though prejudice ceases to be prejudice if it becomes instrumental. In fact, the admission that fomenting racism and division is central to Trump’s strategy is a stunning rebuke to those political reporters and pundits who, for four years, have insisted that the rise of Trump is about anything else. Trump and his most ardent liberal critics are in full agreement about the nature of his appeal, even as they differ on its morality. Only the Trumpists, and those who wish to earn their respect, fail to see it.

White nationalism was a formal or informal governing doctrine of the United States until 1965, or for most of its existence as a country. Racist demagogues, from Andrew Johnson to Woodrow Wilson, have occupied the White House. Trump has predecessors, such as Calvin Coolidge, who imposed racist immigration restrictions designed to preserve a white demographic majority. Prior presidents, such as Richard Nixon, have exploited racial division for political gain. But we have never seen an American president make a U.S. representative, a refugee, an American citizen, a woman of color, and a religious minority an object of hate for the political masses, in a deliberate attempt to turn the country against his fellow Americans who share any of those traits. Trump is assailing the moral foundations of the multiracial democracy Americans have struggled to bring into existence since 1965, and unless Trumpism is defeated, that fragile project will fail.

To defend the remarks as politically shrewd is to confess that the president is deliberately campaigning on the claim that only white people can truly, irrevocably be American.


(David Bythewood) #409

As a former member of an American cult, I know why so many white Christian women fervently support Trump

For traditional Christian housewives, the fear might be basic: contradict your husband’s opinion and you’ll be out of food and shelter. But for much of Trump’s base, the fear is all gross ego

The bold new plan to stop wars: A peace advocate makes her case

"War and military occupation haven’t made us more secure. They’ve made us more hated in many parts of the world.”


#410

My sentiments exactly. Sometimes I’ve had trouble articulating my extreme frustration with Mueller and Congress. Reading this editorial by Elie Honig, I couldn’t help but jump up and exclaim, “Yes! You’ve nailed it!”

It’s time for Robert Mueller to lose the mystery, drop the double-speak and stop the riddling. He needs to tell the American public where he stands – straight, clear and in plain English.

I understand what Mueller has tried to do. He has been careful. He understands the stakes of his investigation, and he has erred on the side of caution – the far, far, side of caution, it turns out, to the point of obscuring his own factual findings and legal conclusions. He has tried so hard to color inside the lines that he hasn’t completed the picture.

Because Justice Department policy counsels against indicting a sitting president, Mueller “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.” Mueller took it a step further: not only did he not indict (consistent with the policy), but he declined even to say whether he found sufficient evidence to indict.

Instead, Mueller gave us an ambiguous, Yoda-like pronouncement: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.” Ultimately, Mueller declared to head-scratching effect that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Mueller’s reticent approach contrasts with the one taken by Independent Counsel Ken Starr in his 1998 report on President Bill Clinton. Starr found “substantial and credible information” that Clinton “lied under oath” and “endeavored to obstruct justice” – and he referred the case to Congress to consider “eleven possible grounds for impeachment.” Starr can be fairly criticized for going into gratuitous, prurient detail about the relationship between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but he was clear about his legal conclusions.

Mueller’s approach has proven problematic on two levels. First, while it seems clear Mueller intended to hand the ball off to Congress, they’ve fumbled it. Mueller stated in his report: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

Translation: Congress, your turn. Yet we are three months out from public release of the report, and Congress has not opened a formal impeachment inquiry, heard substantive public testimony from a single fact witness or even gone to court to enforce the subpoenas that the White House has repeatedly defied.

Second, Mueller’s reticence has left a yawning gap in the understanding of the American public, which Trump and Barr have eagerly filled with distortion. Trump has claimed repeatedly and incorrectly that Mueller found “no obstruction” and granted “total exoneration.” Mueller’s report concludes otherwise, but not clearly or forcefully enough to foreclose Trump’s persistent spin. And both Trump and Barr misleadingly have repeated the “No Collusion” mantra. Yet Mueller makes clear in the report that he found insufficient evidence to charge a criminal conspiracy, but did not evaluate anything under the non-legal rubric of “collusion” – and, indeed, found dozens of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, some of which Trump officials members lied about.

Mueller has served his country honorably and heroically in the military and law enforcement for decades. We know that he does not want to testify beyond the four corners of his report – “the report is my testimony,” he stated in May. But sometimes what a person wants and what he must do are two different things. Now, as perhaps his final act in public life, Mueller owes it to Congress, the American public and his own legacy to do away with niceties and give it to us straight.


#411

Let’s hope he does…but most of his workmates and others have suggested Mueller will be ‘by the books.’ Mueller may have served his country by discovering over a dozen examples of obstruction of justice, and his opinion about what Barr did to distort that would be very important. Mueller may be ‘by the books,’ but he has had significant skin in the game and I agree he must do more explaining.

We know Mueller has been practicing for the questions, and likely how to handle and counter Rep Jim Jordan’s aggressive, endless conspiratorial points-of-view. Wouldn’t it be great if Mueller can go out on his last Act as a fighter for justice and rule of law
and not someone who equivocates and gives a balanced, yet opinionated answer?

Half the country wants him to spill please.


(David Bythewood) #412

Vet everything you see. Disinformation is ratcheting up, and more and more nations (and perhaps even corporations) are getting involved!

It’s not just the Russians anymore as Iranians and others turn up disinformation efforts ahead of 2020 vote

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/25/its-not-just-russians-anymore-iranians-others-turn-up-disinformation-efforts-ahead-vote/?utm_term=.116d9604398f


#413

Maureen Dowd is no doubt a provocative voice for the NYT, dismissing Clinton’s run for better or worse…but she does come down on the left’s attempt at being exceptionally single-minded about use of Impeachment because it is the (Constitutionally) right thing to do…

At this juncture, whether Pelosi is actually waiting out the clock and/or giving Dems as much room to investigate the crimes/misdeeds of T even if it is an untenable win to do so (IMHO) because it will give T more wiggle room to blame the Dems.

We are up against the worst kind of despotic leader, ill-informed, impulsive, racist liar in the history of this country. We’ve never seen his ilk in modern times, although it has been said that Andrew Jackson was equally vile, and Nixon was almost impeached before he resigned, he committed terrible crimes.

What is the winning strategy for the Dems…what is it that out of 24+ contestants can they present as an alternative to T’s grip. They must work with integrity, and smartly build their case.

Worth a read…

The attempt to impeach Trump is one of the rare cases in which something obviously justified is obviously stupid.

Unbelievably, Pelosi — long a G.O.P. target for her unalloyed liberalism — is derided by the far left for her pragmatism. But she has been through enough Washington wars to know that idealism, untempered by realism, is dangerous.


An impeachment could return Trump to power. The highchair king from Fifth Avenue would exult in his victimhood and energize his always-ready-to-be aggrieved followers.

It could also lead to Democrats losing the House as their moderates fall and help Republicans hold the Senate. No Republicans would vote for impeaching Trump and some Democrats might refuse as well. Even if the House acted, Mitch McConnell would smother it in the Senate, just like he did Merrick Garland.

The progressive Puritans think we must honor the Constitution and go for it because it’s the right thing to do.

You can argue that impeachment, morally and constitutionally, is the right thing to do. But you also have to recognize that, historically and politically, it is not the right thing to do because it will lead to disaster.

It’s better to pull out Trump by the roots in the election and firmly repudiate him. The Democrats should focus on the future, not the benighted past that we have been relegated to under Trump.


#414

#415

That is a must read editorial. I wish there was some way to persuade every American to read it. It expresses everything I am feeling. I’m weary of the outrage that Trump renews within me every day.


#416

Maureen Dowd is probably one of my least favorite writers at the NYTimes, just below Bret Stephens.

She won a Pulitzer once for slut shamming Monica Lewinsky in the 90’s so I guess that earns you a column for life? She’s not offering a much of an argument here. The Democrats are just formalizing an investigative into impeachment, which better serves their constitutional oversight responsibility.

Dowd only offers slippery slope fallacies in the loss of “chocolate, high heels, parties and fun” to an unknown “straw-woman” who I’m sure Dowd imagines wears pumps daily and has a lovely home in Martha’s Vineyard.

Only a woman insecure about her own place in the history of would lash out with such a ridiculous opinion piece attacking “new intersectional feminism” as a puritanical movement. We all want to get rid of Trump and it’s going to take all of us. Dowd is not helping and in fact I would say she’s aiding the opposition. To quote Donald Rumsfeld — ‘You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.’

And last time I checked, “chocolate, high heels, parties and fun” are widely available everywhere and mainstays of American life. :roll_eyes:


#417

I knew to post her writing would set-off critiques of her snarky and perhaps supercilious (arrogant) argumentive style. I agree with you @Pet_Proletariat that she’s talking to a demographic that the NYT features and it has less to do with what strategies are being rendered. I agree that Impeachment inquiry is a must…and leverages the Dem’s power.

Perhaps I thought it worth posting because of the all-or-nothing approach that the impeachment gamit might ultimately send us over a cliff should all avenues to getting taxes, emoluments-related paperwork and subpoenas get shoved back in the Dems faces. Yes, we need to ‘fight with the army we have…’ and a great quote.

Because T has upended the game, it is not going to be politics as usual. We can not effectively speak truth-to-power, nor impeach with every right we have Constitutionally. Yes, we can do so…but ultimately we need to outmaneuver T, Barr and his power base.

I still believe half the nation sees that he’s not the man who should run this country.
I pray there is a democratic (little d) through line to carry us into the next presidency.

Yes, Maureen Dowd is just trying to be very clever…and I take all your points as being true. :grinning:


#418

I don’t understand where this argument keeps coming from. The congressional legislative powers are vast and broad giving them the ability to investigate anything, it’s Article I of our constitution. :woman_shrugging:t2: It’s not all or nothing and it never has been. Congress can open hearings and subpoena and investigate anything and everything.

An impeachment investigation is where we should have been three months ago when the Mueller report first came out. Even though Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t want to run out the clock, it may happen anyways but at least she can now say to voters at least I opened an investigation into the crimes of the President. Better than doing nothing and letting the Executive branch accumulate more power through inaction. Our government simply does not work without checks and balances.

So sorry if I don’t find it cute or cheeky when someone weakly argues against exercising the constitutional duties of Congress. The impeachment of President Clinton started with one hearing on the Star Report and that’s not what’s happening here. What the House Democrats are doing is more a kin to the slow collection of criminal evidence like they did with Watergate.

What a lot of commentators leave out of this argument is the impact on future elections and the national security threat actually President Trump poses. If our president can and/or is being blackmailed or coerced in some way by a foreign power, isn’t it the constitutional duty for Congress to protect us from that threat?


#419

I agree. Congress does have power, they want to use it.

But…

Congress is getting stopped (illegally) at every subpoena and the WH wants those requests get ‘tested’ and fought in in the courts, and therefore run out the clock.

Yes, impeachment inquiries should have been started a while back, but Nadler wanted to build a public case for it with hearings on live tv. WH has stopped all of those possibilities, and they want to run out the clock. T is winning by blocking inquiries.

And as previous impeachments have shown that Clinton won stronger support afterwards, so conversely with a full impeachment, it could make T stronger and R’s stronger. Getting the public support on it such as in the case of Nixon, vis-a-vis what the revelations of taped conversations from Nixon and the public not having it, changed the game.

Rule of law and Constitutional norms are suffering now…big time. Now, or yesterday would have been great to start up the impeachment inquiries. And not using their Constitutional powers would be a nod to T to continue to defy the election laws, and block Congress forever more.

The calculated risks are many - Pelosi says if you can not win, do not try impeachment. Nadler/Pelosi agree on using Article 1’s powers to get all you can NOW in terms of evidence against T. The Dems are trying to maintain their power base, yet not alienate any undecided, or R’s perhaps, or non-voters since the election is 16 months away.

For the broader public who do not watch news or adhere to the righteous cause of getting T out, the bread-and-butter issues are most important. There is very little appetite from them to get a full impeachment hearing going. This is going to play out when we hear the Dem candidates debate. It is not a favorable stance to impeach him (despite the absolute power they have, and however righteous the cause)

I am not sure if we are arguing the same point…the Dowd article was cheeky, and provocative. It was meant to stir up the Dems to get their 2020 election strategies on and find common ground for defeating T.

I agree that it is very serious if T is beholden to Russians/Saudi’s and he’s selling out the store. That of course is hugely important and should the Dems uncover it, we’d all be super grateful and would need to act on it ASAP.


#420

Clinton won support because the Republicans rammed it through with scorched earth tactics. The public took notice. Even if Dems run out the clock, it’ll still be damaging and embarrassing for the President before the next election. I think we’re right where we need to be and I don’t understand the overreactions coming from columnists.