Opinion | God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

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“Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation.

Alternatively, Barr could have delivered himself of some innocuous pablum, which is something government officials often do in difficult times.

But no. Barr gave a fiery speech denouncing the threat to America posed by “militant secularists,” whom he accused of conspiring to destroy the “traditional moral order,” blaming them for rising mental illness, drug dependency and violence.”

David Lindsay: Amen.

I am reading Eager to Love, by Richard Rohr, and it is opening my eyes to a form of Christianity, following St. Francis of Asisis, that is open, big tent, humble, focused on good works, and more Unitarian than expected.

I agree with Paul Krugman, and here is one of the many good comments, I heartily recommended.

Tim Doran
Evanston, IL
Times Pick

Speaking as a very religious Christian, I hope and pray that the influence of American evangelicalism disappears as soon as possible. I much prefer that the influence of atheistic secularism increases because generally atheistic secularists do a far better job of following Jesus than does the typical American evangelical. Jesus explicitly condemned those who make a show of praying in public and those who oppress the poor. Trump’s evangelical supporters love to pray loud and long as they push for policies that oppress the poor and immigrants. Secular atheists obviously never pray in public and typically support policies that assist immigrants and the poor. This country would likely more closely follow the teachings of Jesus under the influence of secular atheism than under American evangelicalism.

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Editorial | Trump Just Created a Moral and Strategic Disaster – The New York Times

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The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

CreditCreditIllustration by Nicholas Konrad; photograph by Doug Mills/The New York Times

“The roughly 1,000 American troops stationed in Syria find themselves in an impossible situation, by order of their commander in chief. They are now caught between the Syrian forces of President Bashar al-Assad, an unrepentant war criminal who has used poison gas against his own people, and the Turkish military — a NATO ally — which has already rained down artillery shells near positions held by American soldiers.

When Donald Trump won the presidency on a promise to end “endless wars,” it was always unspoken that doing so would mean to some extent abandoning allies, like the Kurdish forces that helped devastate the Islamic State, or the Afghan government in Kabul. But surely putting America first never meant leaving American soldiers behind. The Times reported Monday that removing the American troops from Syria may require an airlift, a move that may also be needed to relocate the estimated 50 American tactical nuclear weapons housed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Dozens of civilians and combatants were killed in fighting, according to the BBC, when Turkey struck south into Kurdish-held areas of Syria over the weekend, an operation that was greenlit by the White House. Islamic State fighters and their family members, who had been held in a detention camp by Kurdish forces, have scattered to the winds, The Times reports. The Kurds, under fire from Turkish forces, quickly allied with the Syrian government, which sent its own Russian-backed army north.

One thousand decisions led the United States to find itself refereeing the border between Syria and Turkey, but only one decision — made abruptly just over a week ago by President Trump after a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — led to the chaos and bloodletting that has gushed across the region in the past few days.”

Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’ – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday.

Mr. Bolton got into a tense exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to three people who heard the testimony.

The aide, Fiona Hill, testified that Mr. Bolton told her to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about a rogue effort by Mr. Sondland, Mr. Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the people familiar with the testimony.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at the deposition. (Another person in the room initially said Mr. Bolton referred to Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mulvaney, but two others said he cited Mr. Sondland.)”

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.”

Military Leaders Fear They’ve Seen This Before. It Ended in the Iraq War. – By Helene Cooper – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The last time the United States abandoned allies in the Middle East, military officials say, it helped lead to the Iraq war.

Now, almost 30 years later, President Trump has pulled American special forces and support troops away from Kurdish allies in northern Syria, easing the way for Turkey’s promised offensive, which began on Wednesday.

It is too soon to say with any certainty where Mr. Trump’s abandonment of the Kurdish fighters who did the heavy lifting in the fight against the Islamic State will lead. But already, anguished American military and national security officials are sounding alarms that clearing the way for Turkey to bomb the Kurds could have long-term repercussions, just as the desertion of allies did then.

“In the course of American history, when we have stuck with our allies in troubling circumstances, from the U.K. and Australia under attack in WWII to South Korea in the Korean War, things tend to work out to our benefit,” said James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral and former supreme allied commander for Europe. “When we walk away from loyal allies, as we did in Vietnam and are now threatening to do in Afghanistan and Syria, the wheels come off.”

Opinion | A Linguist’s Guide to Quid Pro Quo – By Steven Pinker – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Pinker is a cognitive scientist.

“Two decades ago the impeachment of a president hinged on what the meaning of “is” is. This time it may depend on the semantics of “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

It would be bad enough if President Trump had merely expressed a desire to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that he investigate bogus corruption and conspiracy rumors about Mr. Trump’s political rivals. But if the request was tendered as an enticement or threat that military equipment approved by Congress would be forthcoming only if Mr. Zelensky complied, it could rise to the level of “bribery, treason, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Even Mr. Trump, who is unrepentant about the request itself, acknowledges that a contingency would be incriminating. “There was no quid pro quo,” he has insisted. The lack of a quo for the quid has become a talking point among his defenders, like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who wrote on Twitter, “What a nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger.”

It’s true that the transcript of the reconstructed conversation does not reveal a smoking sentence with an “if” and a “then.” But to most readers, Mr. Trump’s claim that he was merely musing about his druthers does not pass the giggle test. That is because people in a social relationship rarely hammer out a deal in so many words but veil their offers in politeness and innuendo, counting on their hearers to listen between the lines.”

‘I Gave the Other Guy a Shot’ – By Trip Gabriel – The New York Times

“ERIE, Pa. — Mark Graham, a real estate appraiser in this faded manufacturing hub, sat with friends at a gym named FitnessU on the morning after the Democratic debate in mid-September. He had voted for Barack Obama, but in 2016 he took a gamble on Donald Trump. Although he called the president’s conduct in office “a joke,” he was unwilling to commit to voting Democratic in 2020, unconvinced by the 10 party hopefuls the night before.

Jump ahead to October and Democrats in Congress are investigating evidence of President Trump’s possible abuse of power. Mr. Graham has had an electoral conversion.

“Things have changed in the last couple weeks: More stupidity has come out,’’ Mr. Graham, 69, said in a telephone interview last week. He hopes Democrats nominate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but he is not particular. “I’d vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is at this point,” he said. “If Mr. Trump gets into another four years, where he’s a lame duck, it’s going to be like adding gasoline to the fire.”

Heading into 2020, there is intense focus among campaign strategists on the weakest element of the Trump coalition: the millions of voters who disapproved of both major candidates in 2016 but took a chance on Mr. Trump. Whether an impeachment inquiry moves Obama-Trump voters like Mr. Graham off the fence, one way or the other, is a major narrative arc in the 2020 script that is rapidly unfolding and updating.”

David Lindsay: The article reports that 6.7 million voters supported Obama, then Trump. They made up 5% of the total vote, and they alone allowed Trump to win. One commentator said that the article shows they were mostly sexist men (and women), which might be an accurate summary. Which leads to my insistence that our nominee to knock off Trump has to be a centrist male, which suggests strongly Joe Biden, or Buttigieg, or Booker.

Here is a comment I chose to respond to:

Glenn
Olympia

He’s “a really conservative family guy,” who sent four children to Catholic schools. He voted for Trump. Might again. I don’t understand how people can compartmentalize their values like this.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT response to comment:
@Glenn
I sypathize with your confusion. My take, is that many in the country really care about closing, or at least controlling, our borders. This is especially a central issue to whites, who vote more regularly than any other race in the country, according to David Leondhart’s reporting.
If the Democrats do not sound convincingly like they want control of illegal immigration, they support Trump on of the key issue that keeps winning for him.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.
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Here is another important comment.
Ellwood Nonnemacher
Pennsylvania

I live in an area of Pennsylvania where people voted for Herr Trump, or any other GOP candidate for one reason and one reason only, they are deathly afraid any Democrat will take away their guns. Many of my neighbors disliked Herr Trump and thought he was not capable of doing the job, but they wanted to keep their guns more.

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DL: This sounds unfortunately true. It suggests that the Democrats should soft pedal gun conttrol, and not talk about it much, accept for saying they want to keep guns out of the hands of crazies, with background checks, but allow sane Americans to keep their guns.

Opinion | How to Impeach Trump, Do Justice and Win an Election – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“There is still a civic pulse in this country. Some Americans still support President Trump, but far, far more are exhausted and disgusted by him. And that is why his latest outrage is so dangerous to him. He knows that we know that many Republicans know that he committed an impeachable offense. And it’s all out there now: a whistle-blower complaint filed by a C.I.A. officer detailing how Trump dangled military assistance in front of the president of Ukraine if he would do Trump a “favor” and investigate bogus corruption charges against Joe Biden.

I believe that this not only could warrant Trump’s impeachment but that it could be done without plunging the country into “civil war” or guaranteeing Trump’s re-election — provided Democrats keep stressing four things.

First, this charge against Trump began with an independent whistle-blower — an intelligence officer, aided by other insiders. Sure, it could turn out that he was a Hillary Clinton fan, which Trump would use to rile up his base, claiming that Democrats were trying to steal his election mandate. But if this turns out to be what it appears — a nonpolitical C.I.A. analyst and other civil servants motivated by their oath to uphold the Constitution in the face of a president who was violating his oath — then Trump and the Republicans will have a problem.

Democrats in Congress need to make sure they say and do nothing that gets in the middle of this framing of the story, which, for now, appears to be accurate: nonpolitical civil servants inside the government acting on conscience against a law-breaking president acting on political greed and excess.

That so many G.O.P. senators have kept quiet up to now — save for uber-sycophants like Lindsey Graham — suggests that they fear that this framing is accurate and it stinks to them.”

“. . . .Democrats should pursue impeachment in the House as if there were no election in 2020. And they should pursue the 2020 election as if there were no impeachment.

And they should do it by letting the nonpolitical whistle-blower and the other civil servants take the lead. These humble patriots started this, and it will go only as far as their credibility sustains it. And it’s their credibility that will influence the swing voters that brought Democrats the House in 2018 — those independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women — a few of whom, I suspect, were at the Kennedy Center last Saturday night, giving a standing ovation to Justice Ginsburg.”

This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For – by Amanda Hess – The New York Times

“Maddow has hosted “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC at 9 p.m. five nights a week for 11 years. But over the past three, her figure has ascended, in the liberal imagination, from beloved cable-news host to a kind of oracle for the age of Trump. If her show started out as a smart, quirky, kind-of-meandering news program focusing on Republican misdeeds in the Obama years, it has become, since the 2016 election, the gathering place for a congregation of liberals hungering for an antidote to President Trump’s nihilism and disregard for civic norms.

CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

Maddow does not administer beat-downs or deliver epic rants. She is not a master of the sound bite. Instead, she carries her viewers along on a wave of verbiage, delivering baroque soliloquies about the Russian state, Trump-administration corruption and American political history. Her show’s mantra is “increasing the amount of useful information in the world,” though the people who watch it do not exactly turn to it out of a need for more information. They already read the papers and scroll through Twitter all day. What Maddow provides is the exciting rush of chasing a set of facts until a sane vision of the world finally comes into focus.”

David Lindsay:

My good friend Vin Gulisano had me over for dinner about a few years before he died, and what he really wanted to share with me was his passion for Rachel Maddow. We watched an episode, and I was ambivalent. She was sharp and articulate, but she gave her opinions loosely, as part of the news she reported, in a way that I thought was unprofessional.

The story above by Amanda Hess describes someone who has perfected a strong story telling style. I taped her show last night, and was deeply impressed. She has truly studied, relentlessly, Trump’s relations with Russia, and it gave depth and gravity to her understanding of the problems Trump now is having with the Ukraine. Her quote, from her recently published book, was shockingly news worthy and to the point. She was the first opinion journalist to say clearly, Donald will be impreached by the house, since he has already admitted to doing what he is accused of doing, asking a foreign government to meddle in our next election to help Trump.

One of my favorite commentors at the NYT.com, Christine McMorrow, had this comment about Maddow:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By the time she cut to her first commercial break, she had zoomed out so far that Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine appeared to be just one little pushpin on a map of vast global corruption.” That’s what she does, and that’s why some of us love her to death.

Yes, her monologues can be tedious (Get to the point, Rachel!) but always in the end, well worth it. She manages to pack 100 pounds of news into a 5-pound news slot, weaving and integrating building blocks of understanding. It’s truly amazing how she writes her openings, and yet, at a dime, changes them in seconds to meet the latest late-breaking.

I’ve never seen any media person like her, and consider her a rare treasure in a sea of repetitive pundits. She may urge us to watch what Trump does, not says, but in her case, I want to watch what she says, each and every night.

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