Opinion | How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won the Cohen Hearing – By Caroline Fredrickson – The New York Times

By Caroline Fredrickson
Ms. Fredrickson is the president of the American Constitution Society.

Feb. 28, 2019, 472
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez acted like a good prosecutor while questioning Michael Cohen, establishing the factual basis for further committee investigation. Credit Joshua Roberts/Reuters

“On Wednesday, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s one-time personal lawyer and “fixer,” testified in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee about what he says are a variety of shady practices he participated in when working for the president. People around the country awaited riveting testimony, some going so far as to join “watch parties” in bars.

But like so many congressional hearings, the fireworks were quick to flame out. Even with the tantalizing opportunity to grill Mr. Cohen on the myriad ways his former boss most likely sought to evade the law and avoid his creditors, many members of the committee, from both parties, could not resist their usual grandstanding.

Consider the line of questioning from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. She asked Mr. Cohen a series of specific questions about how Mr. Trump had handled insurance claims and whether he had provided accurate information to various companies. “To your knowledge,” she asked, “did Donald Trump ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?” He had.

She asked whether Mr. Trump had tried to reduce his local taxes by undervaluing his assets. Mr. Cohen confirmed that the president had also done that. “You deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction,” Mr. Cohen said, explaining the practice. These were the sort of questions, and answers, the committee was supposed to elicit. Somehow, only the newer members got the memo.”

Opinion | ‘He Is a Racist- He Is a Con Man- and He Is a Cheat’ – By Nicholas Kristof  – New York Times

I agree with Nicholas Kristof and Michael Beschloss (on NBC? news last night), this is probably the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s power, if not his presidency.

By Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 27, 2019

435
Michael Cohen testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Credit
Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

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Michael Cohen testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times
More than 45 years ago, as a 14-year-old farm kid in Oregon, I watched on a flickering black-and-white television as Richard Nixon’s former White House counsel, John Dean, testified about presidential misconduct in the Watergate scandal — and the second-most-corrupt administration in American history began to crumble.

Now, watching Michael Cohen testify before Congress, I sense a similar historic temblor, only this time it may be the No. 1-most-corrupt administration that is beginning to teeter.

Cohen’s testimony was staggering because of the cumulative sum of alleged misconduct, because of the overall portrait it provided of Donald Trump as a “mobster.”

“I know what Mr. Trump is,” Cohen said, summing up what he learned working at Trump’s side for a decade. “He is a racist, he is a con man, and he is a cheat.”

Opinion | Republicans Sink Further Into Trump’s Cesspool – By Peter Wehner – The New York Times

I watched several hours of the Michael Cohen hearing yesterday, and the behavior of the Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform turned my stomach into knots. Here is Peter Wehner, a magnificent and articulate conservative Republican, carefully explaining what was so disgusting about the behavior of thesed Republican congress people.

By Peter Wehner
Contributing Opinion Writer
Feb. 27, 2019, 626 c
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A check from President Trump to Michael Cohen on display at the House committee hearing at which Mr. Cohen was testifying on Wednesday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday revealed as much about the Republican Party as it did about President Trump and his former lawyer. In the aftermath of Mr. Cohen’s damning testimony, several things stand out.

The first is that unlike John Dean, the former White House counsel who delivered searing testimony against President Richard Nixon in 1973, Mr. Cohen produced documents of Mr. Trump’s ethical and criminal wrongdoing. (Mr. Dean had to wait for the Watergate tapes to prove that what he was saying was true.)

Mr. Cohen’s most explosive evidence included a copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account, while he was president, to reimburse Mr. Cohen for hush money payments. The purpose of that hush money, of course, was to cover up Mr. Trump’s affair with a pornographic film star in order to prevent damage to his campaign.

Other evidence produced by Mr. Cohen included financial statements, examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his wealth to serve his interests, examples of charity fraud, efforts to intimidate Mr. Cohen and his family and even letters sent by Mr. Cohen to academic institutions threatening legal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades and SAT scores were released. (Mr. Trump hammered President Barack Obama on this front, referring to him as a “terrible student, terrible,” and mocking him for not releasing his grades.)

Yet Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in their frantic effort to discredit Mr. Cohen, went after him while steadfastly ignoring the actual evidence he produced. They tried to impugn his character, but were unable to impugn the documents he provided. Nor did a single Republican offer a character defense of Mr. Trump. It turns out that was too much, even for them.

In that sense, what Republicans didn’t say reveals the truth about what happened at the hearing on Wednesday as much as what they did say. Republicans showed no interest, for example, in pursuing fresh allegations made by Mr. Cohen that Mr. Trump knew that WikiLeaks planned to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016.

In a sane world, the fact that the president’s former lawyer produced evidence that the president knowingly and deceptively committed a federal crime — hush money payments that violated campaign finance laws — is something that even members of the president’s own party would find disquieting. But not today’s Republican Party.”

Opinion | After the Trump-Kim Failure – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

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President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday.CreditCreditEvan Vucci/Associated Press

“President Trump was right to walk away from his summit with Kim Jong-un rather than accept a bad nuclear agreement, but the outcome underscores that he was bamboozled last year at his first summit with Kim. Whatever genius Trump sees in the mirror, “the art of the deal” is not his thing.

At this meeting, Kim apparently sought a full end to sanctions on North Korea in exchange for closing only some nuclear sites. That was not a good deal, and Trump was right to walk rather than accept it.

“Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that,” Trump said, adding: “Sometimes you have to walk.”

President Reagan famously marched out of a 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, rather than accept an arms control agreement with Russia that he regarded as flawed. A year later the Russians returned with better terms and a deal was made — and we can all hope that something similar will happen this time.”

Source: Opinion | After the Trump-Kim Failure – The New York Times

Russia Picked Donald Trump and Ran Him for President- Former Israeli Intelligence Officer Says – BY CRISTINA MAZA – Newsweek

“Russia chose Donald Trump as the U.S. presidential candidate who would be most advantageous to Moscow, and used online tactics to win him the presidency, according to a former agent of the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad.

“Officials in Moscow looked at the 2016 U.S. presidential race and asked, ‘Which candidate would we like to have sitting in the White House? Who will help us achieve our goals?’ And they chose him. From that moment, they deployed a system [of bots] for the length of the elections, and ran him for president,” former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo told the audience at the Marker’s digital conference in Israel on Monday, where experts gathered to discuss online disinformation campaigns and bots.

“What we’ve seen so far with respect to bots and the distortion of information is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the greatest threat of recent years, and it threatens the basic values that we share—democracy and the world order created since World War Two,” Pardo noted, according to Haaretz.”

Source: Russia Picked Donald Trump and Ran Him for President, Former Israeli Intelligence Officer Says

Trump Undermines Top Trade Adviser as He Pushes for China Deal – By Ana Swanson – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump has signaled that he is moving toward peace with China in a trade standoff that has rattled markets and businesses globally. But as he backs off his threat to impose higher tariffs, the president’s relationship with his own trade negotiator is now showing signs of strain.

The situation has left Mr. Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who is both an ardent supporter of the president and a longtime China critic, in an uncomfortable bind. While broad tariffs on Chinese imports brought Beijing to the negotiating table, Mr. Trump has grown impatient with the talks, and a consensus is growing in Washington that Mr. Trump will ultimately accept a weak deal.

And despite the lack of a transformative arrangement he once promised, the president has begun dangling the idea of a “signing summit” with President Xi Jinping of China at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida resort. As a result, the president is undermining Mr. Lighthizer as he tries to pressure China to make big concessions.

“Trump is certainly doing his negotiating team no favors by undercutting them in public,” said Eswar Prasad, a trade expert and the former head of the China division of the International Monetary Fund. The president’s actions, he said, “weakens rather than fortifies Lighthizer’s leverage.””

Source: Trump Undermines Top Trade Adviser as He Pushes for China Deal – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval

J.D. Scholten launches nonprofit amid speculation of Steve King rematch


“Democrat J.D. Scholten is launching a new nonprofit to fight poverty, amid speculation that he’ll run for Iowa’s 4th District again after narrowly losing to controversial Republican Rep. Steve King last year.

Scholten announced Wednesday that he is launching “Working Hero Iowa,” a group aimed at educating and assisting Iowans who are eligible for the earned income tax credit.

“It’s the one time a year that they can actually pay their bills,” Scholten said of people who receive the credit. “Iowans are leaving millions of dollars on the table.” ”

Source: J.D. Scholten launches nonprofit amid speculation of Steve King rematch

Opinion | China Isn’t Having Enough Babies – The New York Times

By Wang Feng and Yong Cai

Mr. Wang and Mr. Cai are sociologists.

Image.  CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

“Fewer babies were born in China last year than in 2017, and already fewer had been born in 2017 than in 2016. There were 15.23 million new births in 2018, down by more than 11 percent from the year before. The authorities had predicted that easing and then abolishing the one-child policy in the mid-2010s would trigger a baby boom; it’s been more like a baby bust.

No, these figures don’t mean that China’s population itself has started to decline. But they do mean that the population overall is aging, and fast. And they mean that the Chinese government can no longer manipulate fertility with blunt pro-natal policies; the reasons for the drop run too deep. Instead of futile, retrograde statist intervention in people’s reproductive choices, the authorities should undertake broad economic and social reforms to address the deep causes of the decline while mitigating the burdens of its worst effects.”

Source: Opinion | China Isn’t Having Enough Babies – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  The writers do well, but they do not connect to climate change and the sixth extinction, which makes their work very anthropocentric.

Opinion | An Agenda for Moderates – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 25, 2019, 379 c

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CreditCreditBilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“Ideas drive history. But not just any ideas, magnetic ideas. Ideas so charismatic that people devote their lives to them.

In his 1999 book, “The Real American Dream,” Andrew Delbanco described the different ideas that, at different stages, drove American history. The first stage in our history was driven by a belief in God. The Pilgrims came because God called them to do so. God’s plans for humanity were to be completed on this continent.

The second phase, through the 19th century, was organized around Nation. The pioneers were settling the West. It was the age of American exceptionalism. America was to be a universal nation, a home and model for all humankind, the last best hope of earth.

The third phase, from 1960 to today, was organized around Self. Each individual should throw off constraints. The best life was the life of maximum self-expression, self-actualization and maximum personal freedom, economic as well as lifestyle.”

Opinion | Democrats for Family Values – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

by Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

Feb. 21, 2019, 957 c
Elizabeth Warren’s child care plan would be a life-changer for many parents trying to return to the work force.
Credit
Damon Winter/The New York Times

“For millions of Americans with children, life is a constant, desperate balancing act. They must work during the day, either because they’re single parents or because decades of wage stagnation mean that both parents must take jobs to make ends meet. Yet quality child care is unavailable or unaffordable.

And the thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Other wealthy countries either have national child care systems or subsidize care to put it in everyone’s reach. It doesn’t even cost all that much. While other advanced countries spend, on average, about three times as much as we do helping families — so much for our vaunted “family values” — it’s still a relatively small part of their budgets. In particular, taking care of children is much cheaper than providing health care and retirement income to seniors, which even America does.

Furthermore, caring for children doesn’t just help them grow up to be productive adults. It also has immediate economic benefits, making it easier for parents to stay in the work force.

Over the past 20 years, women’s prime-age employment in the U.S. has lagged ever further behind the rest of the advanced world — at this point we’re well below even Japan. And lack of child care is probably one main reason.”

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