Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name of “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many in the online group, the person specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted the videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

The connections underscore how the president’s escalating war on what he calls the “fake news” media has elevated people from the far-right fringe into allies who defend Mr. Trump with extreme language and images.”

Opinion | The House Can Play Hardball, Too. It Can Arrest Giuliani. – By Josh Chafetz – The New York Times

By 

Josh Chafetz is the author of “Congress’s Constitution.”

CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“In his letter to House leadership, the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, drew a line in the sand: The administration will not “participate in” the impeachment proceedings in any way. The odd language of “participate in” — presidential impeachment is not meant to be a collaboration between Congress and the president — obscures the central thrust of the letter: The White House is refusing to respond to any subpoenas or other demands for information from the House.

Of course, other administrations have fought with Congress over access to information, but those fights have centered around clearly articulated objections, supported by legal reasoning, to turning over specific documents or allowing specific officials to testify. The Trump administration’s wholesale refusal to treat congressional information demands as legitimate is so different in degree as to become different in kind.

It might seem like the White House has the House of Representatives over a barrel. If the president simply refuses to engage, what can the House do? How does a chamber of Congress go about wringing information from an unwilling executive branch?

Let’s get one thing out of the way at the outset: The answer is unlikely to be found in a courtroom. That’s not to say that the House probably wouldn’t win on the merits. Most of the administration’s arguments are risible, and even many Republican judges will have trouble swallowing them. Indeed, when the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations raised significantly more plausible objections to congressional subpoenas, the courts sided with the House, ordering the executive to turn over the vast majority of the subpoenaed material.”

Opinion | What Hunter Biden Did Was Legal — And That’s the Problem – By Peter Schweizer – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Schweizer is the author, most recently, of “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.”

CreditCreditLarry Downing/Reuters

“In 2016, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $264 million as part of a settlement with the federal government. The reason? An Asian subsidiary of the company had hired the children of Chinese government officials in the hopes of currying favor with their powerful parents — a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Had the same thing happened with a foreign company and an American politician’s family, however, no violation would have occurred — because no equivalent American law prevents a foreign company or government from hiring the family members of American politicians.

This glaring loophole provides political families with an opportunity to effectively “offshore” corruption and cronyism. It gives the politically connected class enormously tempting opportunities for self-dealing, the sort of thing that is blatantly illegal in almost any other context.

Consider two Washington power families: the Bidens and the McConnell-Chaos.

As vice president, Joe Biden served as point person on American policy toward China and Ukraine. In both instances, his son Hunter, a businessman, landed deals he was apparently unqualified to score save for one thing: his father.”

David Lindsay:  I don’t like a lot of red tape, but

“The problem more broadly is that we rely on a hodgepodge of laws that lack the clarity and bright ethical lines found in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That needs to change. International bribery laws clearly state that if a person or entity pays a politician’s family member and gets favors in return, it’s an act of bribery; it’s no different from the politician taking the money himself.

Obviously, the immediate family members of high-ranking politicians have to work — no one is saying otherwise. But given their unparalleled access, they should also be required to be transparent about what they are doing.

At a minimum, we need to strengthen American disclosure rules. Joe Biden and Elaine Chao have to report when someone sends them a $500 campaign donation, or when they make a $5,000 investment in a stock. But when their family members strike lucrative deals with a foreign government or oligarch, the reporting requirements are vague. The personal financial disclosure rules for American public officials should be expanded to include details concerning all their immediate family members (and not just their spouses, as the law currently states), and any dealings with foreign governments.”

All this sounds good, but it makes me nervous. It has to be administered carefully, or it becomes a brake on decent people, while crooks just ignore or game the rules.

Equal-time rule – Wikipedia

“The equal-time rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. This means, for example, that if a station gives a given amount of time to a candidate in prime time, it must do the same for another candidate who requests it, at the same price if applicable.[1] This rule originated in §18 of the Radio Act of 1927; it was later superseded by the Communications Act of 1934. A related provision, in §315(b), requires that broadcasters offer time to candidates at the same rate as their “most favored advertiser”.

The equal-time rule was created because the FCC was concerned that broadcast stations could easily manipulate the outcome of elections by presenting just one point of view, and excluding other candidates. The equal-time rule should not be confused with the now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which dealt with presenting balanced points of view on matters of public importance.

There are four exceptions to the equal-time rule. If the airing was within a documentary, bona fide news interview, scheduled newscast or an on-the-spot news event, the equal-time rule does not apply. Since 1983, political debates not hosted by the media station are considered “news events,” and as a result, are not subject to the rule. Consequently, these debates may include only major-party candidates without having to offer air time to minor-party or independent candidates. Talk shows and other regular news programming from syndicators, such as Entertainment Tonight, are also declared exempt from the rule by the FCC on a case-by-case basis.[2]

The equal-time rule was temporarily suspended by Congress in 1960 in order to permit the Kennedy-Nixon debates to take place.[3]

The Zapple Doctrine was similar to the equal-time rule, but applied to different political campaign participants. The equal-time rule applies to the political candidate only. The Zapple Doctrine had the same purpose and requirements of equivalent coverage opportunity as the equal-time rule, but its scope included the candidate’s spokesman and supporters, not the candidate.[4]

Source: Equal-time rule – Wikipedia

FCC fairness doctrine – Wikipedia

“The fairness doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the FCC’s view—honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the policy in 1987 and removed the rule that implemented the policy from the Federal Register in August 2011.[1]

The fairness doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.[2][3]

The main agenda for the doctrine was to ensure that viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. In 1969 the United States Supreme Court, in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, upheld the FCC’s general right to enforce the fairness doctrine where channels were limited. However, the Court did not rule that the FCC was obliged to do so.[4] The courts reasoned that the scarcity of the broadcast spectrum, which limited the opportunity for access to the airwaves, created a need for the doctrine.

The fairness doctrine is not the same as the equal-time rule. The fairness doctrine deals with discussion of controversial issues, while the equal-time rule deals only with political candidates.”

Editorial | Nancy Pelosi Is Sending a Message – The New York Times

“The message for Mr. Trump is the most straightforward: Enough. After months of watching the president ravage democratic norms and taunt lawmakers about their inability to hold him accountable, Congress is making clear that there are lines that cannot be crossed without repercussion.

Mr. Trump has long argued — and continues to argue — that impeachment will benefit him politically. Many Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi, have not disputed that possibility. Pressing ahead with the proceedings despite such political uncertainty conveys Democratic leaders believe matters have reached the point where the costs of inaction are simply too high.

Having the controversy over Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine serve as the trigger for the formal inquiry sends a specific warning to foreign governments: America does not welcome, nor will it tolerate, the meddling of other nations in its elections. This is an especially crucial point to make in light of Mr. Trump’s seeming refusal to confront Russia about its interference in 2016 and his public comment in June that he’d be open to foreign assistance in 2020. House leadership is making clear that it will take extreme action to prevent another assault on the democratic process.

‘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.

Opinion | Our Children Deserve Better – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“On Thursday, 10 Democratic presidential candidates will debate. It would be a natural opportunity to provoke a national conversation on the subject. But a question about child poverty hasn’t been asked at a presidential debate in 20 years, not since a Republican primary debate in 1999, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

Presidential candidates have been asked about the World Series, about cursing in movies, even about flag lapel pins more recently than they have been questioned about child poverty. We’ve had 147 presidential debates in a row without a single question on the topic (here’s a petition calling for more questions on the issue). I hope Thursday’s debate won’t be the 148th.

UNICEF says America ranks No. 37 among countries in well-being of children, and Save the Children puts the United States at No. 36. European countries dominate the top places.

American infants at last count were 76 percent more likely to die in their first year than children in other advanced countries, according to an article last year in the journal Health Affairs. We would save the lives of 20,000 American children each year if we could just achieve the same child mortality rates as the rest of the rich world.

Half a million American kids also suffer lead poisoning each year, and the youth suicide rate is at its highest level on record.”

Opinion | Let the People (of Florida) Vote – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

“Winning civil rights is never easy. The fight can stretch on for decades and include setbacks that feel like utter defeat. An enduring lesson of the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century is the need for persistence, because social progress doesn’t come without a fight.

I’d encourage you to keep this idea in mind as I tell you this morning about the fight for voting rights in Florida. Parts of the story are depressing. Yet I think optimism is still the right attitude.

Last year, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, a ballot initiative restoring voting rights to 1.4 million state residents previously convicted of a felony. It seemed like one of the biggest victories for voting rights in years, especially because almost 20 percent of black adults in the state had previously been prevented from voting. In May, however, the state legislature — controlled by Republicans — passed a bill that undermined the amendment, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill in June.”

Opinion | Trump and the Merchants of Detention – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Every betrayal seems to profit the president and his friends.

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

A sign left by a protester near the detention facility in Homestead, Fla., for immigrant children.CreditCarlo Allegri/Reuters

 

“Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who almost surely ordered the murder of The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi? Part of the answer, probably, is that Donald Trump basically approves of the idea of killing critical journalists. But the money the Saudi monarchy spends at Trump properties is relevant, too.

And the same goes for the atrocities the U.S. is committing against migrants from Central America. Oh, and save the fake outrage. Yes, they are atrocities, and yes, the detention centers meet the historical definition of concentration camps.

One reason for these atrocities is that the Trump administration sees cruelty both as a policy tool and as a political strategy: Vicious treatment of refugees might deter future asylum-seekers, and in any case it helps rev up the racist base. But there’s also money to be made, because a majority of detained migrants are being held in camps run by corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.”

DL: This is an ugly analysis. Unfortunately, it is probably true and accurate.