Neal K. Katyal | Release the Barr-Trump Memo on Obstruction of Justice – The New York Times

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown Law School, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“The Biden Justice Department appears to be making a serious mistake by trying to keep secret a Trump-era document about former Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to clear his boss, former President Donald Trump, of obstructing justice.

The American people have a right to see the memo. Then they can decide whether Mr. Barr used his power as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer as a shield to protect the president.

This month, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered it released. Were this an ordinary criminal case, her order would represent a remarkable intrusion into prosecutorial secrecy, and I would have appealed when I was acting solicitor general.

But the document is anything but ordinary. It concerns attempts at the highest levels of government to shield the attorney general’s boss from criminal liability. It is, in essence, the people’s memo, and with its appeal, the Justice Department is attempting to hide it from public scrutiny.”   . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Bravo Neal K. Katyal. I suspected that if I kept reading about this, it might evenually make some sense that I could mostly understand. Thank you for putting a complex set of issues in mostly plain English. Since I was able to follow this report, I can heartily agree with your conclusion, that the judge is right, the rights of the governed here trump the needs of Justice Department posecutorial protection. Pun intended. I hope to hear from you soon, about whether there is a good case to make against Trump for obstruction of justice? Can it be valid now that he is a mere citizen? Are Presidents forever above the law?

Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/08/us/politics/lincoln-project-weaver.html

“. . .   The behind-the-scenes moves by the four original founders showed that whatever their political goals, they were also privately taking steps to make money from the earliest stages, and wanted to limit the number of people who would share in the spoils. Over time, the Lincoln Project directed about $27 million — nearly a third of its total fund-raising — to Mr. Galen’s consulting firm, from which the four men were paid, according to people familiar with the arrangement.

Conceived as a full-time attack machine against Mr. Trump, the Lincoln Project’s public profile soared last year as its founders built a reputation as a creative yet ruthless band of veteran operators. They recruited like-minded colleagues, and their scathing videos brought adulation from the left and an aura of mischievous idealism for what they claimed was their mission: nothing less than to save democracy.

They also hit upon a geyser of cash, discovering that biting attacks on a uniquely polarizing president could be as profitable in the loosely regulated world of political fund-raising as Mr. Trump’s populist bravado was for his own campaign.”   . . . “

I supported the Lincoln Project by reposting their attack ads against Trump on my my blog and facebook page. I decided not to send them any money, since they were an opaque organization with no public financials. Also, there were some red flags. I searched for their library of attack ads, and only found three or four, and two of them were buried inside fundraising infomercials. Also,one of the ads was so ugly, that it made me suspect the quality of the writing. Three of the four founders, who all made of like banits financially, were decried by a spokesperson for the McCain family, who said that she wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire. I’m gratefull that they these people helped defeat Donald Trump, but I’m equally pleased that I never gave them even a small donation. We know that a third of the $81 million they raised was scimmed off by the four founders. It appears that they each paid themselves about $7 million. My guess is that another third went into overhead, and only a third or less actually was spent trying to bring down Trump with fees to place videos and advertisements, etc.

Bret Stephens | Race and the Coming Liberal Crackup – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/opinion/race-police-violence-liberalism.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Opinion Columnist

“Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief last week after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. The crime was heinous, the verdict just, the moral neat. If you think that systemic racism is the defining fact of race relations in 21st-century America, then Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck is its defining image.

But what about a case like that of Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenager who was shot and killed last week by Nicholas Reardon, a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio, at the instant that she was swinging a knife at a woman who had her back against a car?

Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, accused the Columbus police in a tweet of killing “an unarmed 15yo Black girl.” Valerie Jarrett, the former Obama adviser, tweeted that Bryant “was killed because a police officer immediately decided to shoot her multiple times in order to break up a knife fight.” Jarrett wants to “Demand accountability” and “Fight for justice.”

An alternative view: Maybe there wasn’t time for Officer Reardon, in an 11-second interaction, to “de-escalate” the situation, as he is now being faulted for failing to do. And maybe the balance of our sympathies should lie not with the would-be perpetrator of a violent assault but with the cop who saved a Black life — namely that of Tionna Bonner, who nearly had Bryant’s knife thrust into her.  . . . “

Thomas Edsall | Why Trump Still Rules the Republican Party – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/opinion/trump-republicans.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

There is so much here to understand Trump’s political successes, I recommend you read the whole thing. I picked one of many good parts.

“. . .  At the heart of what the authors call “Trump-speak” is a

politics of reassurance, which relies upon a threefold rhetorical strategy: it tells audiences what is wrong with the current state of affairs; it identifies the political agents that are responsible for putting individuals and the country in a state of loss and crisis; and it offers an abstract pathway through which people can restore past greatness by opting for a high-risk outsider candidate.

Once an audience is under Trump’s spell, Homolar and Scholz write:

Rational arguments or detailed policy proposals pale in comparison with the emotive pull and self-affirmation of an us-versus-them crisis narrative, which creates a cognitive feedback loop between individuals’ ontological insecurity, their preferences for restorative policy, and strongmen candidate options. In short, “Trumpspeak” relies on creating the very ontological insecurity that it promises to eradicate for political gain.

The authors describe “ontological security” as “having a sense of presence in the world, describing such a person as a ‘real, alive, whole, and, in a temporal sense, a continuous person,’” citing R.D. Laing, the author of “The Divided Self.” Being ontologically secure, they continue, “allows us to ‘encounter all the hazards of life, social, ethical, spiritual, biological’ with a firm sense of both our own and others’ reality and identity. However, ontological security only prevails in the absence of anxiety and danger.” . . . “

In New Book, Boehner Says He Regrets Clinton Impeachment – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Former Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, says in a new memoir that he regrets supporting the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, calling it a partisan attack that he now wishes he had repudiated.

In his book “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Boehner blames Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, then the No. 2 Republican, for leading a politically motivated campaign against Mr. Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.

The Republican-led House voted to impeach Mr. Clinton on two counts in 1998. He was acquitted by the Senate.

“In my view, Republicans impeached him for one reason and one reason only — because it was strenuously recommended to us by one Tom DeLay,” Mr. Boehner writes. “Tom believed that impeaching Clinton would win us all these House seats, would be a big win politically, and he convinced enough of the membership and the G.O.P. base that this was true.” . . .

‘It Felt Like Deception’: An Elite NYC Hospital Charges Huge Virus Test Fees – The New York Times

Credit…Steven Molina Contreras for The New York Times

“Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan advertised its “Covid-19 Testing” on a large blue and white banner outside its Greenwich Village division’s emergency room. The banner said nothing about cost.

But cost turned out to be the testing’s most noteworthy feature. Lenox Hill, one of the city’s oldest and best-known hospitals, repeatedly billed patients more than $3,000 for the routine nasal swab test, about 30 times the test’s typical cost.

“It was shocking to see a number like that, when I’ve gotten tested before for about $135,” said Ana Roa, who was billed $3,358 for a test at Lenox Hill last month.

Ms. Roa’s coronavirus test bill is among 16 that The New York Times reviewed from the site. They show that Lenox Hill arrives at its unusually high prices by charging a large fee for the test itself — about six times the typical charge — and by billing the encounter as a “moderately complex” emergency room visit.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Horrible, terrible and upsetting. Thank you Sarah Kliff for disturbing my “wa,” or inner peace. You wrote, “Doctors and hospitals that bill higher prices for testing can rely on new federal protections to ensure they are paid. Congress passed a law last year that requires insurers to fully cover coronavirus testing costs and not apply any patient co-payments or other fees to the service.” Please write soon about what can we do about this Augean stable of greed. Would it be, in the short term, as simple as rewriting the law mentioned above, with strict parameters that empowers the insurance companies to respond with reasonable reimbursement rates? Is life ever as easy as I think it should be?
David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net. He is currently writing a book about climate change and the sixth extinction, but he probably should be writing a book called, What the heck is wrong with Connecticut.

Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/26/us/far-right-extremism-anti-vaccine.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

DL: Just when I think it’s really bad, it gets worse.

“Adherents of far-right groups who cluster online have turned repeatedly to one particular website in recent weeks — the federal database showing deaths and adverse reactions nationwide among people who have received Covid-19 vaccinations.

Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”

If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government.

Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.”

How Senator Ron Johnson Helps Erode Confidence in Government – The New York Times

“BROOKFIELD, Wis. — Senator Ron Johnson incited widespread outrage when he said recently that he would have been more afraid of the rioters who rampaged the Capitol on Jan. 6 had they been members of Black Lives Matter and antifa.

But his revealing and incendiary comment, which quickly prompted accusations of racism, came as no surprise to those who have followed Mr. Johnson’s career in Washington or back home in Wisconsin. He has become the Republican Party’s foremost amplifier of conspiracy theories and disinformation now that Donald Trump himself is banned from social media and largely avoiding appearances on cable television.

Mr. Johnson is an all-access purveyor of misinformation on serious issues such as the pandemic and the legitimacy of American democracy, as well as invoking the etymology of Greenland as a way to downplay the effects of climate change.

In recent months, Mr. Johnson has sown doubts about President Biden’s victory, argued that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was not an armed insurrection, promoted discredited Covid-19 treatments, said he saw no need to get the coronavirus vaccine himself and claimed that the United States could have ended the pandemic a year ago with the development of a generic drug if the government had wanted that to happen.

Last year, he spent months as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee seeking evidence that Mr. Biden had tried to pressure Ukrainian officials to aid his son Hunter, which an Intelligence Community report released on Monday said was misinformation that was spread by Russia to help Mr. Trump’s re-election.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times)

Mr. Johnson has also become the leading Republican proponent of a revisionist effort to deny the motives and violence of the mob that breached the Capitol. At a Senate hearing to examine the events of that day, Mr. Johnson read into the record an account from a far-right website attributing the violence to “agents-provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters.” On Saturday, he told a conference of conservative political organizers in Wisconsin that “there was no violence on the Senate side, in terms of the chamber.” In fact, Trump supporters stormed the chamber shortly after senators were evacuated.

His continuing assault on the truth, often under the guise of simply “asking questions” about established facts, is helping to diminish confidence in American institutions at a perilous moment, when the health and economic well-being of the nation relies heavily on mass vaccinations, and when faith in democracy is shaken by right-wing falsehoods about voting.” . . .

David Lindsay:  Today, March 26, 2021, we recieved a copy of the Wall Street Journal instead of the New York Times. The lead op-ed was by Kimberly Strassel, called “Yellow Journalism Turns Blue,” attacking the left wing fascist press complex of smearing Wisonsin’s Senator Ron Johnson. It was well written, full of distortions, misrepresentations and lies. One has to be concerned about the bubble of miss information supported by Rupert Murdoch and his papers and television shows.

Judy Batalion | The Nazi-Fighting Women of the Jewish Resistance – The New York Times

Dr. Batalion is the author of the forthcoming “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos,” from which this essay is adapted.

“In 1943, Niuta Teitelbaum strolled into a Gestapo apartment on Chmielna Street in central Warsaw and faced three Nazis. A 24-year-old Jewish woman who had studied history at Warsaw University, Niuta was likely now dressed in her characteristic guise as a Polish farm girl with a kerchief tied around her braided blond hair.

She blushed, smiled meekly and then pulled out a gun and shot each one. Two were killed, one wounded. Niuta, however, wasn’t satisfied. She found a physician’s coat, entered the hospital where the injured man was being treated, and killed both the Nazi and the police officer who had been guarding him.

“Little Wanda With the Braids,” as she was nicknamed on every Gestapo most-wanted list, was one of many young Jewish women who, with supreme cunning and daring, fought the Nazis in Poland. And yet, as I discovered over several years of research on these resistors, their stories have largely been overlooked in the broader history of Jewish resistance in World War II.” . . .

The Intelligence on Russia Was Clear. It Was Not Always Presented That Way. – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Representative Jason Crow listened during a classified briefing last summer while a top intelligence official said that Russia was hurting Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign to help President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Crow, Democrat of Colorado, held up an intelligence agency news release from days earlier and demanded to know why it said nothing about Russia’s plans.

“‘When are you going to come out publicly and correct this record?’” Mr. Crow recalled asking the official, William R. Evanina. “‘Because there’s a massive disconnect between what is in your news releases and what you’re saying publicly — because of the pressure of the president.’”

A report released Tuesday made clear that the intelligence community believed that Russia had long attacked Mr. Biden for the benefit of Mr. Trump. But throughout 2020, senior officials bowed to Mr. Trump’s hostility toward any public emphasis of the threat from Russia, and they offered Congress and the public incomplete or misleading portraits of the intelligence on foreign influence in the election.” . . .