Trump Orders Russia Investigation Documents Be Declassified – The New York Times

“Mr. Trump also told the Justice Department to release without redactions all text messages of four former F.B.I. officials who worked on the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference and whether any Trump associates conspired with it. Those officials included James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe.

A Justice Department spokesman said the F.B.I. and the department were working to comply with Mr. Trump’s order.

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and one of the president’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill, praised Mr. Trump’s decision in a statement and said it came in the face of “unnecessary delays, redactions and refusals.”

“These documents will reveal to the American people some of the systemic corruption and bias that took place at the highest levels of the D.O.J. and F.B.I., including using the tools of our intelligence community for partisan political ends,” Mr. Gaetz said.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accused the president of abusing his power “to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.” ”

This is terrible news, and I hope someone can stop this attack on the Justice Department.

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Editorial | Make Voting Easier in New York – The New York Times

“Why is it so bad? For starters, blame the state’s “stupid policy,” as a political scientist described it to The Times recently. Sure, there’s reason to criticize other states for cutting back on polling places or hours, or passing voter-ID and proof-of-citizenship laws that make voting harder, especially for minorities and other vulnerable groups. But who are New Yorkers to judge? Their own electoral laws and practices are mired in the Dark Ages, prevented from entering the 21st century by lawmakers trying to protect their jobs.

It’s made worse by the city and state election boards, which run federal, state and local elections — a crucial job that needs to be done by professional, nonpartisan agencies. In New York, the boards are rife with incompetence.There are easy fixes, which have been associated with higher turnout in many other states that have adopted them.”

A Top Goldman Banker Raised Ethics Concerns. Then He Was Gone. – The New York Times

By the tight-lipped standards of Goldman Sachs, the phone call from one of the firm’s most senior investment bankers was explosive.James C. Katzman, a Goldman partner and the leader of its West Coast mergers-and-acquisitions practice, dialed the bank’s whistle-blower hotline in 2014 to complain about what he regarded as a range of unethical practices, according to accounts by people close to Mr. Katzman, which a Goldman spokesman confirmed. His grievances included an effort by Goldman to hire a customer’s child and colleagues’ repeated attempts to obtain and then share confidential client information.Mr. Katzman expected lawyers at the firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which monitored the hotline, to investigate his allegations and share them with independent members of Goldman’s board of directors, the people close to Mr. Katzman said.The complaints were an extraordinary example of a senior employee’s taking on what he perceived to be corporate wrongdoing at an elite Wall Street bank. But they were never independently investigated or fully relayed to the Goldman board.

Opinion | The Urgent Question of Trump and Money Laundering – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“The latest reason to be suspicious is Trump’s attacks on a formerly obscure Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr. Trump has repeatedly criticized Ohr and called for him to be fired. Ohr’s sin is that he appears to have been marginally involved in inquiries into Trump’s Russian links. But Ohr fits a larger pattern. In his highly respected three-decade career in law enforcement, he has specialized in going after Russian organized crime.

It just so happens that most of the once-obscure bureaucrats whom Trump has tried to discredit also are experts in some combination of Russia, organized crime and money laundering.

It’s true of Andrew McCabe (the former deputy F.B.I. director whose firing Trump successfully lobbied for), Andrew Weissmann (the only official working for Robert Mueller whom Trump singles out publicly) and others. They are all Trump bogeymen — and all among “the Kremlin’s biggest adversaries in the U.S. government,” as Natasha Bertrand wrote in The Atlantic. Trump, she explained, seems to be trying to rid the government of experts in Russian organized crime.”

Apple- Facebook and YouTube Remove Content From Alex Jones and Infowars – The New York Times

“Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site, which removed some Infowars content last week, followed with stronger measures on Monday. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” Facebook said the violations did not relate to “false news.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories, an effort that was aided after Donald J. Trump appeared on Mr. Jones’s show during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Mr. Jones’s reputation as “amazing.” Mr. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the government staged the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and numerous other mass shootings and tragedies.”

Opinion | Stop Calling Trump a Populist – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Message to those in the news media who keep calling Donald Trump a “populist”: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

It’s true that Trump still, on occasion, poses as someone who champions the interests of ordinary working Americans against those of the elite. And I guess there’s a sense in which his embrace of white nationalism gives voice to ordinary Americans who share his racism but have felt unable to air their prejudice in public.

But he’s been in office for a year and a half, time enough to be judged on what he does, not what he says. And his administration has been relentlessly anti-worker on every front. Trump is about as populist as he is godly — that is, not at all.

Start with tax policy, where Trump’s major legislative achievement is a tax cut that mainly benefits corporations — whose tax payments have fallen off a cliff — and has done nothing at all to raise wages. The tax plan does so little for ordinary Americans that Republicans have stopped campaigning on it. Yet the administration is floating the (probably illegal) idea of using executive action to cut taxes on the rich by an extra $100 billion.”

DL: Yes, Thank you. And here is a top comment I recommended:
Pono
Big IslandAug. 2
Times Pick
The term “Populist” was never, and will never be, accurate in describing him.
The word “demagogue” is the shoe that fits.
Defined as:
“a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument”
Sound familiar?

Reply 738 Recommended

The Worst Drug Crisis in American History – By Jessica Bruder – NYT

By Jessica Bruder
July 31, 2018 89 comments
DOPESICK Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America By Beth Macy Illustrated. 376 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $28.

In 2000, a doctor in the tiny town of St. Charles, Va., began writing alarmed letters to Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin. The drug had come to market four years earlier and Art Van Zee had watched it ravage the state’s poorest county, where he’d practiced medicine for nearly a quarter-century. Older patients were showing up at his office with abscesses from injecting crushed-up pills. Nearly a quarter of the juniors at a local high school had reported trying the drug. Late one night, Van Zee was summoned to the hospital where a teenage girl he knew — he could still remember immunizing her as an infant — had arrived in the throes of an overdose.

Van Zee begged Purdue to investigate what was happening in Lee County and elsewhere. People were starting to die. “My fear is that these are sentinel areas, just as San Francisco and New York were in the early years of H.I.V.,” he wrote.

Since then, the worst drug crisis in America’s history — sparked by OxyContin and later broadening into heroin and fentanyl — has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, with no signs of abating. Just this spring, public health officials announced a record: The opioid epidemic had killed 45,000 people in the 12-month span that ended in September, making it almost as lethal as the AIDS crisis at its peak.”

David Lindsay:

My comment to the NYT, now also the blog post before this one:

If we legalize and regulate addictive drugs, much of these enormous profits from the illegal drug business would decrease dramatically. When alcohol was re-legalized after prohibition, armed gangs were disbanded and killings decreased greatly.

Many economists, at least privately, admit that we should legalize addictive drugs to ameliorate the negative effects. Herbert Stein and Milton Friedman are two famous right of center economists who have called for legalization.

   Legalization would allow us win the war on illegal drug trafficking, and it is probably the only way to win the war on drug trafficking.

It would not be simple. There would need to be investment and resources into drug addiction rehabilitation programs, jobs programs, support systems. We would need severe financial penalties and long jail sentences for  businesses and individuals that push addictive drugs onto non-addicts. The law has to be severe with people who turn citizens or patients into addicts.

Decriminalization would be an immediate place to begin, to get tens of thousands of petty drug users and sellers out of our jails.

We have a heroin epidemic in New England and the rest of the country right now. Much of the heroin is bad, and kills people. If heroin was legal and regulated, doses would be bad for you, but wouldn’t stop your heart. Countless young people, including my son Austin, would be alive after experimenting with the drug. It is the illegality of these drugs that make them unregulated. Bad batches kill people, like my son Austin. The huge illegal profits are destabilizing whole countries, and police forces, prosecutors and judges.

Editorial | Impeach Rosenstein? C’mon  Man – Reps Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio – NYT

“While Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is surely disheartened to have had five articles of impeachment filed against him by a clutch of congressional Republicans on Wednesday evening, he should not take the move personally.

Although Representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, the current and former chairmen of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are leading this crusade, are running around Washington loudly accusing Mr. Rosenstein of high crimes and misdemeanors, their public relations assault is not actually about his refusing to turn over this or that document related to the Russia investigation. It’s not really even about the lawmakers’ loathing of the broader investigation, though certainly President Trump’s congressional lackeys — Mr. Meadows and Mr. Jordan most definitely included — are increasingly desperate to derail it.

For Freedom Caucus leaders, this impeachment resolution is about something at once much broader and far pettier: the need to make a huge, disruptive, polarizing political stink just as members head home for the long hot August recess. Especially with a critical midterm election coming, it never hurts to have some extra well-marbled meat to throw the voters. And it is unlikely a coincidence that, less than 24 hours after filing, Mr. Jordan — who, lest anyone forget, is multiply accused of overlooking rampant sexual abuse while an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University — formally announced his candidacy for House speaker.

Not to make Mr. Rosenstein feel any less special, but this is the fourth year in a row that Freedom Caucusers have pulled a summer-break stunt so nakedly self-serving that it would be comic if it weren’t so odious in its quest to erode public faith in government and in democratic institutions more broadly. Indeed, for all those wondering how the Republican Party reached the point where Donald Trump could swallow it whole with his furious everything-is-awful-and-everyone-is-out-to-get-you brand of demagogy, look no further than the nihilists in the Freedom Caucus.” . . . . .

“This stunt is in fact so ridiculous, so unfounded, so poisonous to the Republic that Attorney General Jeff Sessions felt compelled not only to publicly defend his deputy, but also to suggest that the lawmakers involved find a better use of their time. And Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general who was fired in January 2017 for refusing to defend President Trump’s travel ban, tweeted a warning about the long-term damage of “using the Department of Justice as a prop for political theater.”

Opinion | Michael Cohen Takes a Bullet – by Charles Blow – NYT

“Here’s to Michael Cohen. He’s finally getting something right.

First, let’s state forthrightly that Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer, the fix-it man, the one who mopped up Trump’s messes, the one who said he would “take a bullet for the president,” is an incredibly unsavory character and a bully.

He thought himself a tough guy, Trump’s muscle collecting the crumbs of Trump’s money.

For instance, in 2015 he threatened a Daily Beast reporter who was writing about the time Trump’s first wife, Ivana, claimed Trump had raped her, only to later say that she didn’t want her use of the word rape “to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

According to that reporter, Cohen erroneously — and outrageously — claimed, “You cannot rape your spouse,” before launching into this tirade:

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know … So I’m warning you, tread very [expletive] lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be [expletive] disgusting. You understand me?

“You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet … you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it.” “

Opinion | The New Know-Nothings – By Jennifer Finney Boylan – NYT

By Jennifer Finney Boylan

Ms. Boylan is a contributing opinion writer.
July 25, 2018
“My fellow Americans: It is my honor today to announce the formation of a new political party, which I am calling “the Republican Party.”You can be forgiven for thinking, Wait, don’t we already have one of those? But please. Under Donald Trump, the Republican Party, at least as we once understood it, has become a fantastical entity, a creature not wholly unlike the Abominable Snowman, or the Chupacabra, or the mythical Squonk of central Pennsylvania, the imaginary creature that spends its days deep in the forest, weeping in despair at its own hideousness.

“There is no Republican Party,” said John Boehner, a former Republican speaker of the House, back in April. “There’s a Trump Party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.” ”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval