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.” “

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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.” “

Stormy Daniels Spanks Trump Again – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Nevertheless, the Daniels interview aired on Sunday was important, portending danger for both Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen. As I’ve written before, the Daniels affair is a corruption scandal disguised as a sex scandal. And on the corruption front, we learned things on Sunday that could help unravel Trump’s wretched presidency.

Daniels’s most shocking disclosure was her account of being threatened, apparently on Trump’s behalf, in 2011, a few weeks after agreeing to tell her story to a gossip magazine for $15,000. She said she was in a parking lot with her infant daughter when a man approached and said: “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.” Then, she said, he looked at the baby and warned, “A beautiful little girl — it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.” “

The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Two years ago, The Washington Post ran a long piece about West Virginia called, “How the birthplace of the American labor movement just turned on its unions.” It described how, following the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2014, the state passed a so-called right-to-work law prohibiting mandatory union dues. Such laws have badly undermined unions in other states, and for people who care about organized labor, it was a bitter irony to see one enacted in a place once famed for its militant labor movement. The state also repealed a law mandating that workers on public construction projects are paid prevailing industry rates.

Labor in West Virginia seemed beaten down.That’s one reason the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia, which on Monday entered its eighth day, is so thrilling. Strikes by teachers are unlawful in the state, and their unions lack collective bargaining rights. Nevertheless, in a revival of West Virginia’s long-dormant tradition of bold labor activism, teachers and some other school employees in all of the state’s 55 counties are refusing to return to work until lawmakers give them a 5 percent raise, and commit to addressing their rapidly rising health insurance premiums.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

This report flunks, like all the others I’ve heard on this subject. No one will say what the salaries of these teachers are, where they start, where they end. What is the average total package. Facts and numbers matter, and it grieves me that the best this lousy op-ed can do, is cite a massive paper.

In Reply to the top comment, I added:

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Lack of numbers in the piece is very disappointing. Here is what I found. “Teacher Salaries in West Virginia by Education As teachers further their educations and gain experience in the field, they receive pay increases that reflect their dedication and hard work. Salaries vary between school districts, but the following are some examples of the salaries you can expect in West Virginia: Experience Bachelor’s Master’s At 3 years $30,871 $33,399

At 6 years $ 32,670 $35,199

At 9 years $34,226 $36,754

At 12 years $35,783 $38,311 Source: West Virginia Department of Education

DL: It’s too bad this piece didn’t include such numbers. They are lower than expected.

Next important question, what are the median salary levels state-wide for West Virginina. Facts matter.

Everyone in Trumpworld Knows He’s an Idiot – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

DL: Michelle Goldberg is the newest young voice to join the NYT op-ed page as a regular. What a well written piece. I couldn’t recommend any of the top comments to this essay, since they refused to even acknowledge the gifted writer which provided the platform for their add ons, mostly a pile on.

I finally got to reading my new subscription to the Wall Street Journal the other day, and was disappointed at how hateful, scornful and arrogant the lead editorial was against the Democrats, using fake news to attack the Trump administration. The polarization between the parties is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime, and over the Vietnam war, it was ferocious.

“Trumpworld” might be misleading. It refers to his White house senior staff, cabinet and senior advisors.

“One of the more alarming anecdotes in “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s incendiary new book about Donald Trump’s White House, involves the firing of James Comey, former director of the F.B.I. It’s not Trump’s motives that are scary; Wolff reports that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were “increasingly panicked” and “frenzied” about what Comey would find if he looked into the family finances, which is incriminating but unsurprising. The terrifying part is how, in Wolff’s telling, Trump sneaked around his aides, some of whom thought they’d contained him.

“For most of the day, almost no one would know that he had decided to take matters into his own hands,” Wolff writes. “In presidential annals, the firing of F.B.I. director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own.” Now imagine Trump taking the same approach toward ordering the bombing of North Korea.

Wolff’s scabrous book comes out on Friday — the publication date was moved up amid a media furor — but I was able to get an advance copy. It’s already a consequential work, having precipitated a furious rift between the president and his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who told Wolff that the meeting Donald Trump Jr. brokered with Russians in the hope of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” On Thursday the president’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff’s publisher, Henry Holt, demanding that it stop publication, claiming, among other things, defamation and invasion of privacy. This move would be fascistic if it weren’t so farcical. (While some have raised questions about Wolff’s methods, Axios reports that he has many hours of interviews recorded.)”

Democrats Should Embrace Impeachment – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Last week, Tom Steyer, the billionaire progressive donor, announced a $10 million campaign calling for President Trump’s impeachment, beginning with a television commercial running in all 50 states. Trump, the spot says, has “brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice at the F.B.I., and in direct violation of the Constitution, he’s taken money from foreign governments and threatened to shut down news organizations that report the truth.” Appearing on screen, Steyer asks, “If that isn’t a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become?”

It’s a good question. Yet while most elected Democrats probably agree that Trump’s presidency is a nightmare, they’ve been largely reluctant to use the “I” word. The base wants impeachment — according to an August survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, 72 percent of Democrats support efforts to remove Trump from office. But inside the Beltway, calling for impeachment remains strangely taboo.Some members of Congress are awaiting the results of the investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and the case for impeachment may become stronger when his inquiry is complete. Yet whatever Mueller discovers, we have credible reasons for impeachment right now. The Constitution dictates that presidents be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

But as the Harvard Law scholar Cass Sunstein, author of the recent book “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide,” told me, that doesn’t mean Congress can impeach only a president who is caught breaking the law. “Crime is neither necessary nor sufficient,” said Sunstein, who emphasizes that his book is not about Trump. “If the president went on vacation in Madagascar for six months, that’s not a crime, but that’s impeachable.”

 

David Lindsay: I do not agree. Foes of Trumpism have to win back the congress first.

Here is a comment I apprpve:

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 19 hours ago

Michelle, I disagree with this, not on the merits of impeachment but on the timing. Yes, Hillary Clinton would have been impeached by now–likely just for being a woman, or for Benghazi, or for the hurricanes. But Dems have no power.

Look, nobody wants this monster gone more than I do. But I still feel impeachment (which only Congress can initiate) would be more credible with GOP support that’s currently lacking.

So, for me, it makes more sense for Mueller to complete his investigation, and for Democrats to pick up some seats.

Tom Steyer should stop throwing his money away, and use it to build up the party and get out the vote. There’s a time and a place for everything: now is not the time, because impeachment wouldn’t be weighed by the overabundance of its merits but dismissed as a partisan witch hunt.

Wouldn’t it also just lend credence to what our liar-in-chief has been saying for months, that the Dems are sore losers? The very last thing Democrats need to do right now is give Donald J. Trump more fodder to whip up his base.

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Tyranny of the Minority – by Michelle Goldberg – debut at NYT

“A combination of gerrymandering and the tight clustering of Democrats in urban areas means that even if Democrats get significantly more overall votes than Republicans in the midterms — which polls show is probable — they may not take back the House of Representatives. (According to a Brookings Institution analysis, in 2016, Republicans won 55.2 percent of seats with just under 50 percent of votes cast for Congress.)

And because of the quirks of the 2018 Senate map, Democrats are extremely unlikely to reclaim that chamber, even if most voters would prefer Democratic control. Some analysts have even suggested that Republicans could emerge from 2018 with a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority.

Our Constitution has always had a small-state bias, but the effects have become more pronounced as the population discrepancy between the smallest states and the largest states has grown. “Given contemporary demography, a little bit less than 50 percent of the country lives in 40 of the 50 states,” Sanford Levinson, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Texas, told me. “Roughly half the country gets 80 percent of the votes in the Senate, and the other half of the country gets 20 percent.” ”

Lovely first op-ed. Here are some comments I approved.

hen3ry

is a trusted commenter Westchester County, NY 18 hours ago

Trump’s election has revealed the extent to which the GOP has taken over the country even as a majority of voters disagree with their politics. It also revealed how incompetent and unresponsive the GOP is when it comes to the lives of ordinary Americans. The only people that the GOP is interested in are their donors whether they are rich or big corporations. The rest of us are nowhere to be found in their consciousness. As long as we have the Electoral College it’s not one person one vote. The same goes for the amount of gerrymandering.

There is another not so savory thing that Trump’s election has revealed about America: we do not believe in equality, compassion, or charity. We are racist, anti-intellectual, and selfish to the point of destruction. If we continue to elect representatives who refuse to allocate money to run the country, improve our infrastructure, or do what’s necessary we will become a backwater which is not what our Founding Fathers wanted or expected.

Joe P.

Maryland 18 hours ago

This was one of the best articles I’ve read on our current state of affairs. A point by point analysis, and some offered solutions. let’s get to work.