Opinion | Why I Changed My Mind About Impeachment – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt


Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Impeachment is an inherently political process. The framers designed it that way. It is the ultimate way that one branch of the federal government can hold another branch accountable.

Impeachment is not like a criminal trial, in which a jury or judge is supposed to base a verdict only on what happens inside the courtroom. The Constitution’s standard for impeachment — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is deliberately vague. The decisions about whether the House should impeach and whether the Senate should convict have always involved a mixture of law, politics and public opinion.

For this reason, I have long thought Democrats would be making a mistake by starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump, even though I also believed Trump was manifestly unfit for office.”

The World’s Oceans Are in Danger, Major Climate Change Report Warns – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Earth’s oceans are under severe strain from climate change, a major new United Nations report warns, threatening everything from the ability to harvest seafood to the well-being of hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts.

Rising temperatures are contributing to a drop in fish populations in many regions, and oxygen levels in the ocean are declining while acidity levels are on the rise, posing risks to important marine ecosystems, according to the report issued Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking.

In addition, warmer ocean waters, when combined with rising sea levels, threaten to fuel ever more powerful tropical cyclones and floods, the report said, further imperiling coastal regions and worsening a phenomenon that is already contributing to storms like Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston two years ago.

“The oceans are sending us so many warning signals that we need to get emissions under control,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and a lead author of the report. “Ecosystems are changing, food webs are changing, fish stocks are changing, and this turmoil is affecting humans.”


Great Barrier Reef – Wikipedia

from Wikipedia:

“The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system[1][2] composed of over 2,900 individual reefs[3] and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi).[4][5] The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of QueenslandAustralia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.[6] This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.[7] It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.[1][2] CNN labelled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world.[8] The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.[9]

A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoffclimate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, dumping of dredging sludge and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish.[10] According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.[11]”

Source: Great Barrier Reef – Wikipedia

Opinion | Republicans Only Pretend to Be Patriots – By Paul Krugman – New York Times

Paul Krugman


Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

“Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners.

And Barack Obama faced constant, scurrilous accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers. Remember the “apology tour,” or the assertions that he had bowed to overseas leaders?

But now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance — we don’t know, for example, how much his policies have been shaped by the money foreign governments have been lavishing on his businesses. But even what we do know — his admitted solicitation of foreign help in digging up dirt on political rivals, his praise for brutal autocrats — would have had Republicans howling about treason if a Democrat had done it.

Yet almost all G.O.P. politicians seem perfectly fine with Trump’s behavior. Which means that it’s time to call Republican superpatriotism what it was long before Trump appeared on the scene: a fraud.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Beware Democrats. Read Ross Douthat today. Trump does want impeachment, to change the discussion every night from the terrible job he is doing, the failure of his tax cuts, and the wonderful ideas of the challenging Democrats, to Witchhunt, and sore losers and fake news.
There is one commenter I admire, who said today there might be a way to thread the needle. They recommended that Nanct Pelosi wait till after January to start the impeachment process, and make sure it does not complete until after the election in November. Trump will not be able to say he won. But the Democrats would have to be very careful not to overreach, or shout, or appear partisan.
There is a terrible danger that the Republicans on the impeachment committess would turn the process into another Trumpian circus. Do the Democrats, do the independents, know how to conrol for that?
My gut says don’t impeach. Or, don’t let the impeachment process stop us from broacasting our political arguments for a blue wave for the enviroment and progressive values.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | How Impeachment Shifted – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt


Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditNicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“One week ago, it was already clear that President Trump, among his many unconstitutional misdeeds, had pressured Ukraine to smear Joe Biden. And yet the chances that the House Democratic Caucus was going to impeach Trump looked minuscule.

Today, the chances look significantly better. So what changed?

For the first time in a long time, Trump committed an act of lawlessness so extreme that it created a news story that managed to feel both fresh and surprising: A whistle-blower came forward to file a complaint about Trump lobbying the president of Ukraine during a phone call. The inspector general for the nation’s spy agencies found the complaint credible enough that he tried to refer it to Congress. It now seems Trump was using American foreign aid to threaten the Ukrainian President.

Appearances matter in politics.

Yes, Robert Mueller’s report contained extensive evidence of impeachable wrongdoing by Trump. Yet it didn’t contain as much evidence as many people expected. And Mueller was sufficiently feckless in his presentation of the report that Trump’s attorney general was able to misrepresent it.

As a result, Mueller’s evidence ended up resembling a lot of dry kindling that lacked a spark. The phone call to Ukraine, along with Trump’s potential refusal to let Congress investigate it, could well provide the spark.

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Some observers believe impeachment is now more likely than not. As Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post write, “many [House] leadership aides who once thought Trump’s impeachment was unlikely now say they think it’s almost inevitable.” In part, that’s because a growing list of people who have been somewhere between skeptical of impeachment and opposed to it — including Representative Adam Schiff and several House members from swing districts (as well as, much less significantly, me) — seem to be reassessing their views.”

Opinion | The Growing Threat to Journalism Around the World – by A G Sulzberger – The New York Times

“Since assuming office, President Trump has tweeted about “fake news” nearly 600 times. His most frequent targets are independent news organizations with a deep commitment to reporting fairly and accurately. To be absolutely clear, The Times and other news organizations are fair game for criticism. Journalism is a human enterprise, and we sometimes make mistakes. But we also try to own our mistakes, to correct them and to rededicate ourselves every day to the highest standards of journalism.

But when the president decries “fake news,” he’s not interested in actual mistakes. He’s trying to delegitimize real news, dismissing factual and fair reporting as politically motivated fabrications.

So when The Times reveals his family’s fraudulent financial practices, when The Wall Street Journal reveals hush money paid to a porn star, when The Washington Post reveals his personal foundation’s self-dealing, he can sidestep accountability by simply dismissing the reports as “fake news.”

Even though all those stories — and countless more that he’s labeled fake — have been confirmed as accurate, there is evidence that his attacks are achieving their intended effect: One recent poll found that 82 percent of Republicans now trust President Trump more than they trust the media. One of the president’s supporters was recently convicted of sending explosives to CNN, one of the most frequent targets of the “fake news” charge.

But in attacking American media, President Trump has done more than undermine his own citizens’ faith in the news organizations attempting to hold him accountable. He has effectively given foreign leaders permission to do the same with their countries’ journalists, and even given them the vocabulary with which to do it.

They’ve eagerly embraced the approach. My colleagues and I recently researched the spread of the phrase “fake news,” and what we found is deeply alarming: In the past few years, more than 50 prime ministers, presidents and other government leaders across five continents have used the term “fake news” to justify varying levels of anti-press activity.

The phrase has been used by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, who have levied massive fines to force independent news organizations to sell to government loyalists. It’s been used by President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who have attacked the press as they’ve led bloody crackdowns.”

Opinion | Does Donald Trump Want to Be Impeached? – By Ross Douthat – The New York Times

Ross Douthat


Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“When it comes to determining when it makes sense to impeach a president, congressional Democrats are working with 200 words in the Constitution, three significant historical precedents, the fervor of impeachment advocates, the anxieties of swing-state members of Congress and all the polling data that a modern political party can buy.

None of this, unfortunately, tells them what to do when the president in question actually wants them to impeach him.

That Donald Trump actually wants to be impeached is an argument that Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist, has been making for some time — that the president isn’t stumbling backward toward impeachment, but is actually eager for the fight.

In his email newsletter Monday morning, Domenech cited the last few days of Ukraine-related agitation as vindication, arguing that the circus atmosphere of congressional hearings, scenes of Joe Biden talking about corruption instead of health care or the economy, and wavering House Democrats getting forced into an impeachment vote by their angry colleagues and constituents are all exactly what Trump wants.”

David Lindsay:   Tough piece, amazingly cogent. Trump needs and wants an impeachment attempt, to take the narration off his bad work, and the good ideas of the Democrats. He is losing the debate right now, and wants to change the topic. When the Senate finds him innocent, he declares total exoneration!

Here is are several comments I suported:

Tom V
Long Island
Times Pick

Trump’s support is locked in at 42% and nothing is going to change it. The Senate is not voting to convict. The election is less than 14 months away. An impeachment trial at this point would serve no purpose except to make the Democrats look foolish. If you haven’t been outraged by Trump by now to the point you won’t vote for him next November, impeachment isn’t going to change that. The Democrats should instead find a candidate who can inspire enough Americans to vote for them. Someone who doesn’t have the type of baggage as Trump when it comes to foreign money and influence. Someone who can speak to climate change and the environment, income inequality, immigration, foreign interference in our elections, deficit and debt and our fiscal solvency. And do it without going over the edge by pandering to every special interest group thereby turning off most level headed people. Impeachment would be a distraction from the issues that Americans need addressed during this campaign.

4 Replies88 Recommended
New York

“Have the vote or don’t have it, we’ll be arguing about something completely different by the time Americans are going to the polls.” This is the crux of the matter, and the thing that Trump grasps, or at least embodies, better than anyone: politics is pure entertainment now, a day by day, moment by moment competition for attention between politicians, pundits & other influencers. From the president’s point of view, his obligation is not to the country but to his visibility. Like a pro-wrestler, he doesn’t care whether the audience boos him or cheers him, so long as they keep buying tickets to the show. Policy, whether pushing manufacturers to pollute or making it easier for psychopaths to arm themselves, only aspires to thrill his fans with his opponents’ anger. The enemies aren’t insecurity or injustice or foreign aggressors, but “liberals” and journalists. This isn’t a democracy, it’s a reality TV show, staged by the powerful to keep the people from meddling in self-government.

1 Reply201 Recommended

Speaker Pelosi is right to delay impeachment until it can be most effectively deployed. Starting impeachment at this moment means that it would be effectively over by the end of the year. If the Senate allows Trump to remain in power, it would give Trump all of the tools described by Mr. Douthat to be wielded during the run up to the 2020 election, making them highly potent. In the unlikely event that the Senate removed Trump, then Pence would be in power with the entire Trump apparatus, along with the Senate, at his disposal, and would confer a false sense of sanity and stability. (It should be remembered that Pence wants a Protestant Evangelical theocracy as fervently as Trump wants an autocracy.) Pelosi should delay impeachment proceedings until January, then use the media frenzy in service of the election. I would advise her to use the cliff-hanger device of leading the impeachment right up to election day and promising a vote immediately after the election. Hopefully this will sufficiently inspire opposition to Trump such that he and the Republican leadership will be voted out of office, giving her a mandate and making the impeachment an historical pronouncement. Further action by the Senate would be immaterial.

3 Replies134 Recommended

‘The Enigma of Clarence Thomas’ Makes a Strong Case for Its Provocative Thesis – The New York Times

CreditCreditAlessandra Montalto/The New York Times

“In “The Enigma of Clarence Thomas,” Corey Robin presents a case that also happens to be a high-wire act — that the Supreme Court justice who almost never speaks from the bench, who writes controversial opinions paying little heed to legal precedent, is in fact quite explicable.

Other observers of the court have portrayed Thomas as a Constitutional purist, determined to uncover the document’s original meaning, but “Thomas’s originalism is at best episodic,” Robin writes, arguing that it doesn’t entirely cohere. More consistent has been something plenty of people don’t know about — and that those who do tend to brush aside as a bygone chapter from Thomas’s past.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Thomas was a self-described “radical” and adherent of Malcolm X. He took up the cause of the Black Panthers and marched against the Vietnam War. He was a black nationalist — and according to Robin, he still is. Far from abandoning his old views on race, Robin says, the longest-serving justice on the current Supreme Court has retrofitted those views to propel a conservative agenda.

“Thomas is a black man whose conservatism is overwhelmingly defined by and oriented toward the interests of black people, as he understands them,” Robin writes. The black nationalism underpinning his jurisprudence is a “secret hiding in plain sight.” “

David Lindsay: This report really surprised me. It is good to learn somethin completely new every day. Before this, I never saw any redeeming quality in Clarence Thomas.

Bernie Sanders Proposes a Wealth Tax, Taking Aim at Billionaires – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to create a new tax on the wealth of the richest Americans, including a steep tax on billionaires that could greatly diminish their fortunes.

With the proposal, Mr. Sanders is embracing an idea that has been a centerpiece of the campaign of his top progressive rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren. But while Ms. Warren came first, Mr. Sanders is going bigger. His wealth tax would apply to a larger number of households, impose a higher top rate and raise more money.

Mr. Sanders’s plan to tax accumulated wealth, not just income, is particularly aggressive in how it would erode the fortunes of billionaires. His tax would cut in half the wealth of the typical billionaire after 15 years, according to two economists who worked with the Sanders campaign on the plan. Mr. Sanders would use the money generated by his wealth tax to fund the housing plan he released last week and a forthcoming plan for universal child care, as well as to help pay for “Medicare for all.”

“Let me be very clear: As president of the United States, I will reduce the outrageous and grotesque and immoral level of income and wealth inequality,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “What we are trying to do is demand and implement a policy which significantly reduces income and wealth inequality in America by telling the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comments
Bernie disappoints. They tried stuff like this in Europe, and the wealthy just moved out of the country. A draconian hair cut like he suggests is not practical, unless all the developed countries of the world do it together at the same time. Warren’s idea is a good one, and it is small and limited, which is approprate for an incremental improvement, that allows to measure unforseen effects.

Opinion | Harry Potter and the Poorly-Read Exorcists – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

Margaret Renkl


Contributing Opinion Writer

CreditCreditDaniel Becerril/Reuters

“NASHVILLE — When the Rev. Dan Reehil, a Catholic priest, ordered the removal of all Harry Potter books from the parish school’s library, the St. Edward community demanded an explanation. Father Reehil responded by email, noting that he had “consulted several exorcists, both in the United States and in Rome,” and had been assured that the “curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

I read all seven Harry Potter books aloud to all three of my children, one at a time, as they became old enough to understand the books’ complicated plots, so I understand why Father Reehil’s explanation assuaged no parental concerns. Exorcists? Real spells? No wonder the story became international news almost as soon as The Tennessean broke it. Articles about the incident have appeared in outlets as diverse as The Washington PostCBS NewsEntertainment WeeklyThe Independent in Britain, and Forbes, among many others.

Before I heard this story, I would not have thought it necessary to point out that Harry Potter is a fictional character and that these books are not spellbooks. They are novels, tales J.K. Rowling made up out of her prodigious imagination.

Harry Potter and his friends don’t exist in real life, but they wrestle with real-life challenges: bullies, rejection, loneliness, fear, grief — and, yes, with clueless adults whose behavior is patently ludicrous. Nashville’s St. Edward School might as well be Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, for the story of Father Rehill sounds very much like the story of Delores Umbridge, a Ministry of Magic bureaucrat-turned-school-inquisitor.”