Opinion | The Woman You Missed While You Were Paying Attention to Beto – By Mimi Swartz – The New York Times

Mimi Swartz
By Mimi Swartz
A contributing opinion writer.

May 9, 2019

“Well, well, well. Joaquin Castro dithered and then declined, but a tougher Texas Democrat has stepped up to announce a challenge to our ruby red Republican senior senator, John Cornyn, who has had a death grip on that office since 2002. The contender, M.J. Hegar, is a tattooed, three-tour veteran of the Afghanistan war who was shot down and wounded while serving as a medevac helicopter pilot.

That the “M.J.” stands for Mary Jennings, a 43-year-old woman — and a mother of two — is a variable that, in these who-the-hell-knows times, will either help defeat one of the whitest of older white men (Mr. Cornyn was almost as aggrieved as Brett Kavanaugh during the infamous Supreme Court hearings) or keep her candidacy from ever getting off the ground.

Most people inside and outside of Texas in 2018 were too delirious with Betomania to pay much attention to Ms. Hegar’s candidacy for a congressional seat. What they missed was a woman — and a vet — who started as a complete unknown and then lost by only three points to John Carter, a Tea Partyer and incumbent since 2003, in a previously incontestably red area that runs north of Austin and includes Fort Hood.”

Opinion | The Tawdry Trump-Nadler War – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

May 9, 2019, 828
Image
Representative Jerry Nadler went “there,” declaring the nation is in a “constitutional crisis.”CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Our system of checks and balances requires that political leaders hold two opposing ideas in their heads simultaneously. If you’re a political leader, the first is that your political opponents are wrong about many things and should be defeated in elections. The second is that you still need them. You need them to check your excesses, compensate for your blind spots and correct your mistakes.”

David Lindsay:  Brooks has the clearest argument I have heard, as to why the Democrats should slow down, and not jump into impeachment. They should hold their fire, until they have tried to get Robert Muller to testify, and hear what he has to say. David Leonhardt has warned that impeaching Trump prematurely will make him a martyr, and empower and rebuild his crumbling party.

Opinion |  The Democrats’ Complexity Problem – by Tim Wu – The New York Times

“One bright area in these dark days of American politics has been a blossoming of bold and interesting progressive policy ideas, such as wealth taxes, postal banking (offering basic financial services to customers who might not otherwise have access to them) and breaking up the giants of the tech industry. In the spirit of fresh starts, progressives should now confront an even more basic challenge: their complexity problem.

In recent decades progressives have not prioritized making policies and programs easy for most Americans to understand, use and benefit from. Fixing this problem will mean overcoming a streak of perfectionism and a certain intellectual defensiveness, but it must be done if progressives are to make government popular again.

The Affordable Care Act is a good example of the complexity problem. Yes, it was an important policy achievement, and yes, many of its problems can be rightly blamed on industry resistance and Republican efforts to dismantle it.

But the act is also exceptionally hard to understand and discouragingly daunting to make use of. An emphasis on “choice” and “transparency” resulted in a law that only a rational-choice theorist could love. The act made health insurance more complicated, not less, which is one reason that such a high percentage of medical bills go to paying administrative costs, and why the Affordable Care Act is much less popular than it could be.

It used to be said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Today she’s a liberal who tried to pay a babysitter without breaking the law. It is admirable that Democrats try to tackle society’s thorniest problems with the often unwieldy tools of government, but that is not an excuse for programs that are too complex for their own good.

The truth is that good public policy can actually be elegant and simple to understand, even when the social problem that it’s addressing is complex. Social Security, Medicare, bans on indoor smoking, the “do not call” list (when it worked) and public libraries are examples of government solutions that are easy to understand and to benefit from.

Avoidance of complexity and minimizing choices are hallmarks of good design, as we have learned from the technological revolution in user interfaces. The age of impossible-to-use computers and incomprehensible TV remote controls has given way to the sleek and intuitive interfaces offered by pioneers like Steve Jobs of Apple. What progressives most need now is not more brains, but better policy designers.”

Opinion | How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won the Cohen Hearing – By Caroline Fredrickson – The New York Times

By Caroline Fredrickson
Ms. Fredrickson is the president of the American Constitution Society.

Feb. 28, 2019, 472
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez acted like a good prosecutor while questioning Michael Cohen, establishing the factual basis for further committee investigation. Credit Joshua Roberts/Reuters

“On Wednesday, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s one-time personal lawyer and “fixer,” testified in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee about what he says are a variety of shady practices he participated in when working for the president. People around the country awaited riveting testimony, some going so far as to join “watch parties” in bars.

But like so many congressional hearings, the fireworks were quick to flame out. Even with the tantalizing opportunity to grill Mr. Cohen on the myriad ways his former boss most likely sought to evade the law and avoid his creditors, many members of the committee, from both parties, could not resist their usual grandstanding.

Consider the line of questioning from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. She asked Mr. Cohen a series of specific questions about how Mr. Trump had handled insurance claims and whether he had provided accurate information to various companies. “To your knowledge,” she asked, “did Donald Trump ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?” He had.

She asked whether Mr. Trump had tried to reduce his local taxes by undervaluing his assets. Mr. Cohen confirmed that the president had also done that. “You deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction,” Mr. Cohen said, explaining the practice. These were the sort of questions, and answers, the committee was supposed to elicit. Somehow, only the newer members got the memo.”

Opinion | Republicans Sink Further Into Trump’s Cesspool – By Peter Wehner – The New York Times

I watched several hours of the Michael Cohen hearing yesterday, and the behavior of the Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform turned my stomach into knots. Here is Peter Wehner, a magnificent and articulate conservative Republican, carefully explaining what was so disgusting about the behavior of thesed Republican congress people.

By Peter Wehner
Contributing Opinion Writer
Feb. 27, 2019, 626 c
Image
A check from President Trump to Michael Cohen on display at the House committee hearing at which Mr. Cohen was testifying on Wednesday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday revealed as much about the Republican Party as it did about President Trump and his former lawyer. In the aftermath of Mr. Cohen’s damning testimony, several things stand out.

The first is that unlike John Dean, the former White House counsel who delivered searing testimony against President Richard Nixon in 1973, Mr. Cohen produced documents of Mr. Trump’s ethical and criminal wrongdoing. (Mr. Dean had to wait for the Watergate tapes to prove that what he was saying was true.)

Mr. Cohen’s most explosive evidence included a copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account, while he was president, to reimburse Mr. Cohen for hush money payments. The purpose of that hush money, of course, was to cover up Mr. Trump’s affair with a pornographic film star in order to prevent damage to his campaign.

Other evidence produced by Mr. Cohen included financial statements, examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his wealth to serve his interests, examples of charity fraud, efforts to intimidate Mr. Cohen and his family and even letters sent by Mr. Cohen to academic institutions threatening legal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades and SAT scores were released. (Mr. Trump hammered President Barack Obama on this front, referring to him as a “terrible student, terrible,” and mocking him for not releasing his grades.)

Yet Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in their frantic effort to discredit Mr. Cohen, went after him while steadfastly ignoring the actual evidence he produced. They tried to impugn his character, but were unable to impugn the documents he provided. Nor did a single Republican offer a character defense of Mr. Trump. It turns out that was too much, even for them.

In that sense, what Republicans didn’t say reveals the truth about what happened at the hearing on Wednesday as much as what they did say. Republicans showed no interest, for example, in pursuing fresh allegations made by Mr. Cohen that Mr. Trump knew that WikiLeaks planned to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016.

In a sane world, the fact that the president’s former lawyer produced evidence that the president knowingly and deceptively committed a federal crime — hush money payments that violated campaign finance laws — is something that even members of the president’s own party would find disquieting. But not today’s Republican Party.”

J.D. Scholten launches nonprofit amid speculation of Steve King rematch


“Democrat J.D. Scholten is launching a new nonprofit to fight poverty, amid speculation that he’ll run for Iowa’s 4th District again after narrowly losing to controversial Republican Rep. Steve King last year.

Scholten announced Wednesday that he is launching “Working Hero Iowa,” a group aimed at educating and assisting Iowans who are eligible for the earned income tax credit.

“It’s the one time a year that they can actually pay their bills,” Scholten said of people who receive the credit. “Iowans are leaving millions of dollars on the table.” ”

Source: J.D. Scholten launches nonprofit amid speculation of Steve King rematch

Opinion | Trump’s Nightmare Opponents – Amy Klobuchar and Sherrod Brown – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 10, 2019, 1090

Senator Amy Klobuchar announced her presidential candidacy on Sunday in Minneapolis.CreditCreditStephen Maturen/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, the pollsters at Monmouth University asked Democrats across the country to choose between two different kinds of nominees. One was a candidate whom the voter agreed with on most issues but who might struggle to beat President Trump. The other was the reverse — a strong candidate with different views from those of the person being polled.

It was a rout. About 56 percent preferred the more electable candidate, compared with 33 percent who picked the more ideologically in-sync candidate. The gap was even larger among women and liberal Democrats. Patrick Murray, who runs the Monmouth poll, points out that this pattern isn’t normal. In previous campaigns, voters cared more about ideology than electability.

I think there are two main reasons for the switch. The first, of course, is the awfulness of the Trump presidency. But the less obvious reason is important too: The differences among most of the leading Democratic presidential candidates just aren’t very big right now.”

Opinion | Family Ties at the Supreme Court – By Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

Ginni Thomas at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2017. She recently met with President Trump to discuss why transgender people shouldn’t serve in the military.

By Linda Greenhouse
Contributing Opinion Writer

Jan. 31, 2019, 231 c

“Let Ginni be Ginni.

That was my first thought upon seeing the headline in The Times this past weekend: “Trump Meets With Hard-Right Group Led by Ginni Thomas.” Ginni Thomas — or Virginia Lamp, as I knew her years ago when she was a smart lawyer-lobbyist working for the United States Chamber of Commerce against passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act — is married to the Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

These days, she is also an activist on the far-right fringe of the Republican Party. In recent months, she has denounced the student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting who are campaigning for gun control as “dangerous to the survival of our nation” (in a later deleted Facebook post). In a speech bestowing an award on Sean Hannity, the Fox News personality, she warned fellow conservatives against being “complicit as the left moves its forces across the country.” According to the Times account of last week’s White House meeting, to which she brought fellow members of a group called Groundswell, the topics discussed included why women and transgender people should not be permitted to serve in the military and how same-sex marriage is damaging the country.

It hardly needs saying that modern families are complicated. A few administrations ago, it was tempting to conclude that presidential siblings had an unusual proclivity for getting into embarrassing scrapes. The day when wives of powerful men were expected to do little more than serve tea and look decorative has, thankfully, passed. “We have our separate professional lives,” Ms. Thomas said during the 2000 presidential election stalemate, when asked about her work for the Heritage Foundation compiling résumés for a potential Bush administration while the Supreme Court was deciding the outcome of the election. (She said her effort was bipartisan.)

But while my feminist sensibilities make me wary of suggesting that Ginni Thomas should not be completely free to embrace her causes and live her life, there’s something troublesome about the unbounded nature of her public advocacy, at least for those of us who still care about the Supreme Court. It’s hard to think of a more delicate moment for the court, pressed at every turn by an administration that seems to regard it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the White House and that has driven the normally reticent chief justice to declare, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges.” Chief Justice John Roberts did not say “justices.” He didn’t have to. The question now is whether his colleagues on the bench — his own and all the others — will show him to be right, or sadly naïve.”

Lovely piece by Linda Greenhouse. Here is my favorit comment as far as I read them:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“It’s hard to think of a more delicate moment for the court, pressed at every turn by an administration that seems to regard it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the White House and that has driven the normally reticent chief justice to declare, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges.”” Yes, Ginni Thomas seems to have only broken laws of good taste, but consider that within the growing body of evidence that “norms-busting” is threatening our social fabric. Civility and propriety have gone missing in our politics, media, and culture. I’m beginning to wonder if America as we knew it before Mr. Trump foisted himself 24/7 on our national consciousness will ever return? My problem with Ginni Thomas is the double standard that Congress and media consensus seems to apply to behavior that gets condoned in Republicans who would never allow the same if done by Democrats. Ms. Greenhouse says, let “Ginni be Ginni.” But when this opinionated lawyer-lobbyist throws herself at the White House, espousing religious and judicial views she has no business pushing, I think the American public deserve to know why. Because of her husband, Ginni grabs access to the president none of us have, despite our own strong views on the subject of civil liberties for all. Maybe she broke no rules in the strictest legal sense, but she sure has broken the boundaries of fairness.

Pete Buttigieg- Mayor of South Bend- Ind.- Joins Democratic 2020 Race – By Alexander Burns – The New York Times

By Alexander Burns
Jan. 23, 2019

“Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., announced on Wednesday that he was entering the Democratic presidential primary, embarking on a long-shot campaign that may test the appeal of a youthful, Midwestern profile over more traditional qualifications for the presidency.

In an email to potential supporters, Mr. Buttigieg (he pronounces it BOOT-edge-edge) said he was forming an exploratory committee and cast himself as a candidate of the future, stressing his generational identity and calling for policies “untethered to the politics of the past” on issues like climate and economic opportunity.

“What will America look like in 2054, when I reach the age of the current president?” Mr. Buttigieg said. “How will we look back on 2020?”

[Follow the Democratic presidential field with our new candidate tracker]

He also released an introductory video.

Pete Buttigieg

@PeteButtigieg
I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future. Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?

Join the team at http://www.peteforamerica.com .

11.3K
2:13 AM – Jan 23, 2019
3,750 people are talking about this
Twitter Ads info and privacy
A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Buttigieg was a consultant at McKinsey before entering politics.

Biden’s Paid Speech Buoyed the G.O.P. in Midwest Battleground – By Alexander Burns – The New York Times

.By Alexander Burns
Jan. 23, 2019, 214

“Joseph R. Biden Jr. swept into Benton Harbor, Mich., three weeks before the November elections, in the midst of his quest to reclaim the Midwest for Democrats. He took the stage at Lake Michigan College as Representative Fred Upton, a long-serving Republican from the area, faced the toughest race of his career.

But Mr. Biden was not there to denounce Mr. Upton. Instead, he was collecting $200,000 from the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan to address a Republican-leaning audience, according to a speaking contract obtained by The New York Times and interviews with organizers. The group, a business-minded civic organization, is supported in part by an Upton family foundation.

Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience. Alluding to Mr. Upton’s support for a landmark medical-research law, Mr. Biden called him a champion in the fight against cancer — and “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.”

Mr. Biden’s remarks, coming amid a wide-ranging discourse on American politics, quickly appeared in Republican advertising. The local Democratic Party pleaded with Mr. Biden to repair what it saw as a damaging error, to no avail. On Nov. 6, Mr. Upton defeated his Democratic challenger by four and a half percentage points.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Before weighing in, I asked google, what is Fred Upton’s positon on Climate Change. It turns out he is a Koch brothers hand.
From ThinkgProgress.org, “A prominent critic of the Climate Solutions Caucus was not impressed with Upton’s decision to join the panel. “Upton, a well-oiled favorite of the Koch brothers, has a long record of abusing his leadership positions on the House Energy Committee to deny the existence of climate change, promote Arctic drilling, and to vote against light bulb efficiency regulations that he originally supported,” said R.L. Miller, co-founder of Climate Hawks Vote, a grassroots-funded group that supports candidates and elected officials whom it identifies as making climate change a top priority.

Miller noted that her group endorsed Upton’s Democratic challenger, Paul Clements, in Upton’s reelection bid in 2014. “The only thing we want to do with Fred Upton is this: vote him out,” Miller said.”
Joe Biden was my very first choice for President in 2020, but this news in unacceptable. Global Warming and overpopulation are repulsive problems that must be addressed before it is too late. My old friend Joe justs doesn’t get it. He smiles at Al Gore, but doesn’t understand a word that great leader has said. Thank you for your serviced Joe, and have a good retirement.