Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr? By Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“By now you have probably read the opening of the whistle-blower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community accusing Donald Trump of manipulating American foreign policy for political gain. But the whistle-blower’s stark, straightforward account of stupefying treachery deserves to be repeated as often as possible.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistle-blower wrote. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals. The president’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.”

Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well. The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

In the Ukraine scandal, evidence of comprehensive corruption goes far beyond Trump. Former prosecutors have said that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, may have been part of a criminal conspiracy when he pressed Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Vice President Mike Pence is also tied to the shakedown of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, having met with him this month to talk about “corruption” and American financial aid. When this administration complains about Ukrainian “corruption,” it almost inevitably means a failure to corruptly pursue investigations that would bolster conspiracy theories benefiting Trump.”

 

Opinion | Trump’s Anti-Abortion Incitement – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

The president’s lies about infanticide could inspire violence.

By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

April 29, 2019, 858

President Trump on Saturday in Green Bay, Wis., where he described Democrats as in favor of infanticide.
Credit
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“Last week, The Washington Post’s tally of Donald Trump’s false and misleading claims hit a milestone, topping 10,000. His untruths, which lately average almost two dozen a day, have long since stopped being news, becoming instead irritating background noise. So when, on Saturday, he told a particularly lurid lie about infanticide at a political rally in Wisconsin, it was, like so much in this administration, at once shocking and unsurprising.

As his raucous crowd booed and screamed, Trump described a hideous scenario that he insists Democrats approve of. “The baby is born,” said Trump. “The mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully” — at this, he seemed to mime rocking an infant — “and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.” He made a chopping motion with his hand.

Trump was elaborating on the willfully misunderstood words of Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, who, in a radio interview in January, responded to a Republican hypothetical about a woman requesting an abortion during labor. A pediatric neurologist by training, Northam described what actually occurs when a woman whose pregnancy may not be viable gives birth. If “a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he said. “The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.””

Opinion | The Wrong Time for Joe Biden – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

By Michelle Goldberg

Opinion Columnist

  • 1944
  • Joe Biden’s history of being physically affectionate puts him out of step with the mores of an increasingly progressive Democratic Party.CreditSaul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

“On Friday, Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada, accused Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately as they waited to take the stage at a 2014 election rally. He put his hands on her shoulders, she said, then nuzzled her hair and kissed the back of her head. She didn’t accuse Biden, who is reportedly close to announcing his presidential candidacy, of sexual harassment or assault, just of making her uncomfortable. “I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end,” she wrote.

In response, Biden released a statement saying that while he’s often been physically affectionate as a politician, “not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately.”

Then, on Monday, Amy Lappos, a former aide to the Democratic congressman Jim Himes, told The Hartford Courant that Biden pulled her toward him to rub noses during a 2009 fund-raiser. “There’s absolutely a line of decency,” Lappos said, adding: “Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.” Biden’s campaign hadn’t yet begun and was already in crisis.”

David Lindsay:  This is a weak piece, and there are some very good female feminists who in the comments come articulately to Joe Biden’s defense on the handsyness.

But, There is an important  comment I couldn’t ignore. It is the comment which caused me to remove Joe Biden from my official short list, and replace him with Bernie Sanders.

While I supported Biden as highly electable, he has been too wrong on too many important issues, especially climate change, student debt,  and Anita Hill.

ScottW
Chapel Hill, NCApril 1
He voted for the war in Iraq. He pushed Clarence Thomas through the Senate confirmation hearings. He supported a bill that makes it impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.

He has not been a leader on Medicare for All. He has not led on increasing the minimum wage. He has not been a leader on climate change legislation.

He has had his shot at running for President and needs to step aside.

24 Replies1133 Recommended

Opinion | Howard Schultz- Please Don’t Run for President – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

Michelle Goldberg
By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2019, 1095
Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, says he is considering running for president as a “centrist independent.”
Credit
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Unlike Donald Trump, the former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is a genuinely successful businessman who built a company that’s become part of the daily lives of people across America. For this, those of us who are horrified by Trump’s relentless grifting should be grateful. It gives us something concrete to boycott should Schultz decide to launch a narcissistic spoiler campaign for president.

In an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Schultz decried “extremes on both sides” and said he’s considering a run for president as a “centrist independent.” He hasn’t yet made up his mind, and perhaps the overwhelmingly negative reaction from almost all segments of the Democratic Party, as well as some NeverTrump Republicans, will dissuade him. There’s a danger, though, that the reality-distorting effects of being a billionaire will warp his judgment, convincing him that his business acumen is transferable to the realm of politics. If so, he could end up helping Donald Trump get re-elected.

Shultz appears to share the conviction, endemic among American elites, that the country hungers for a candidate who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. After all, if you’re rich, you probably know a lot of people like this. “I’m a socially liberal, fiscally conservative centrist who would love to vote for a rational Democrat and get Trump out of the White House,” a chief executive of a major bank, who wanted to remain anonymous, recently told Politico, lamenting Michael Bloomberg’s poor odds in a Democratic primary.

But this frustrated executive’s politics aren’t widely shared by people who haven’t been to Davos. In a 2017 study, the political scientist Lee Drutman plotted the 2016 electorate along two axes, one dealing with social issues and identity, the other with economics and trade. Only 3.8 percent of voters fell into the socially liberal/economically conservative quadrant.”

David Lindsay:

“Only 3.8 percent of voters fell into the socially liberal/economically conservative quadrant.”   That would include me. I didn’t realize I was in such a small group of smart, compassionate people. But for me, economic conservativism is not agains the New Deal, or the Great Society, or the New Green Deal that includes population control.

Opinion | Donald Trump Fails- Again – The New York Times

Michelle Goldberg
By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

Nov. 19, 2018 667
The Trump name being removed in 2014 from the facade of the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City, which had gone out of business.
Credit
Mark Makela/Reuters

“The Trump name being removed in 2014 from the facade of the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City, which had gone out of business.CreditCreditMark Makela/Reuters
Donald Trump has failed at most things he’s tried to do in life, with the crucial exception of selling himself as a success.

Consider his business record over the past thirty years. In 1988, he bought Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel for over $400 million — at the time “an unprecedented sum for a hotel,” according to The New York Times. A few years later it was in bankruptcy protection. His casino company went bust, dragging the economy of Atlantic City down with it. Trump Airlines failed; the president defaulted on the loans he took out to buy it. Trump University was a con; he settled a lawsuit over it for $25 million.

But as a self-marketer, Trump is peerless. He convinced people that he was a self-made tycoon despite receiving at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father, much of it, as The Times has reported, through legally dubious tax dodges. He was cast a paragon of business acumen on “The Apprentice” when most banks refused to lend to him. And then, to America’s enduring disgrace, he was able to use his fictional reality-TV persona as a steppingstone to the White House.”

Opinion | Save Us  Texas – Here comes Beto O’Rourke – Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“On Saturday night, at the end of a hideous week in American politics, there was an unfamiliar feeling in Austin, Tex.: hope. More than 50,000 people streamed into a city park to hear music legend Willie Nelson perform at a rally with Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic congressman from El Paso who is running a strikingly competitive race against oleaginous ghoul Ted Cruz. Many were young — Nelson’s set started after 10 p.m. — wearing Beto T-shirts and waving Beto flags. Nearby, a packed restaurant advertised “Beto beer.” In the air was that slightly delirious energy you feel when a political campaign becomes a movement.

Shortly before the rally, I watched Evan Smith, chief executive and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, interview O’Rourke onstage at a nearby auditorium. It was uncanny how much the candidate recalled Barack Obama circa 2008, and not just because of his gawky magnetism. Like Obama, O’Rourke is unapologetically progressive but offers a vision of post-partisan national unity. He treats his audience as too savvy for political clichés. When Smith asked him if he planned to go negative against Cruz, he mocked attack ads with distorted pictures and ominous music. “We’re sick of that stuff,” he said, except he used a saltier term than “stuff.”

Like Obama, O’Rourke is running on hope over fear; he exudes compassion and speaks about “power and joy.” Christine Allison, a Republican-turned-independent, is president of the company that publishes D Magazine, a city magazine for Dallas, and one of O’Rourke’s ardent supporters. “He listens,” she told me, saying that he has what Christians sometimes call a “servant-leader approach to politics.” “

Opinion | The Handmaid’s Court – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Shortly after his inauguration, Donald Trump, uniquely attentive to his debt to the religious right, appointed the anti-abortion activist E. Scott Lloyd to head the Office of Refugee Resettlement, despite Lloyd’s lack of relevant experience. The position gave Lloyd authority over unaccompanied minors caught crossing into the United States, authority Lloyd exploited to try to stop pregnant migrants from getting abortions.

Last year, thanks to Lloyd’s interference, a 17-year-old from Central America had to wage a legal battle to end her pregnancy. Known in court filings as Jane Doe, the girl learned she was pregnant while in custody in Texas, and was adamant that she wanted an abortion. In keeping with Texas’s parental consent law, she obtained a judge’s permission, helped by a legal organization called Jane’s Due Process. Jane’s Due Process raised money for the abortion, which was scheduled for the end of her first trimester.

But under Lloyd’s direction, the shelter where she was being detainedrefused to cooperate. Doe went back to court, and a federal judge ruled in her favor, issuing a temporary restraining order against the government. The administration appealed, and the case, Garza v. Hargan, went to a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. One of the judges was Brett Kavanaugh.

Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. His handling of it offers a clue about what’s in store for American women if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. No one knows whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright or simply gut it. But even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.”

David Lindsay Jr:

Michelle Goldberg expounds above with her usual brilliance on this threat to women’s rights. Thank you.

Kathleen Schomaker and I drove out to Wisconsin, to vacation in Athelstane above Green Bay. In the 19 hour car ride, we listened to The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It was not pleasant to listen to. Distopian novels are famously unpleasant. But it had fascinating and challenging material. It has some resonance today, since it is about a coup d’etat, where the ultra right to life and fundamentalist Christian faction takes complete control of a future dictatorship after some sort of disaster which has reduced world population dramatically. When the book came out in 1985, so close to 1984, Kathleen reports that she and other feminists devoured it and found it enlightening.

Brett Kavanaugh is a disaster for women’s rights. As I explained in a previous post, it is one of the several reasons I oppose his appointment to the Supreme Court. 

Opinion | ‘Evil Has Won’ – By Michelle Goldberg – NYT

President Trump met with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“BERLIN — Klaus Scharioth, who served as Germany’s ambassador to the United States during both George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s administrations, was born in 1946, the year after Germany’s surrender in World War II. His earliest impressions of America were of a magnanimous, generous country.

“It was never forgotten that the United States included Germany in the Marshall Plan, which you would not have expected,” he told me, speaking of American aid to rebuild Europe after the war. He remembers getting packages of food from the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, or CARE: “The victor sends the one who is defeated, and who began the war, CARE packages! Imagine that. It doesn’t happen too often.”

In the world he grew up in, America was seen as the guarantor of the liberal democratic order, an order in which Germany, abandoning its aggressive history, would come to thrive. And so for many Germans, it’s a profound shock that the president of the United States now attacks that order, while appearing to fawn over Russia.

“Germans have grown accustomed to the fact that the United States would always be their friends,” Scharioth said. “And it’s like when a very good friend leaves you. It hurts. I would say of all European countries, the Germans psychologically are the ones who are wounded most.” “

Opinion | First They Came for the Migrants – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

Quote

The sci-fi writer William Gibson once said, “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” In America in 2018, the same could be said of authoritarianism.

Since Donald Trump was elected, there’s been a boom in best-selling books about the fragility of liberal democracy, including Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism: A Warning,” and Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny.” Many have noted that the president’s rhetoric abounds in classic fascist tropes, including the demonization of minorities and attempts to paint the press as treasonous. Trump is obviously more comfortable with despots like Russia’s Vladimir Putin than democrats like Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

via Opinion | First They Came for the Migrants – The New York Times

Opinion | A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

On Monday, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other leading lights of the Trumpist right gathered in Israel to celebrate the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture widely seen as a slap in the face to Palestinians who envision East Jerusalem as their future capital.

The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don’t convert will burn forever.

via Opinion | A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
An excellent and thoughtful op-ed by Michelle Goldberg. I must try to correct Ms. Goldberg on one minor point where you wrote: “The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America’s relationship to Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness there are seeds of potential estrangement.” Marie Antoinette was not a monster, as the fake news revolutionaries of the time portrayed her. According to the historian Antonia Frasier, in her lengthy biography, Marie Antoinette, the Journey, Marie Antoinette was in reality closer to a saint than a monster. For example, she was deeply criticized, for regularly giving away much of her official stipend to hospitals and orphanages. As the Austrian princess in the French court, who became Queen, she was the easy target of hate-mongers and revolutionary propagandists. She makes a cameo appearance in my novel on Vietnam. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com