Opinion | The Democrats’ Midterm Dilemma – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“One of the few people to really see Donald Trump coming was the University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales, who warned way back in 2011 that American politics was going the way of his native Italy, that we could easily produce our own version of Silvio Berlusconi, and that Trump was an obvious candidate to bottle the celebrity-populist-outsider cocktail.

So Zingales’s advice to Democrats after their 2016 defeat carried more weight than the average act of punditry. On the evidence of Berlusconi’s many victories and rare defeats, he argued, the best way to beat Trump was to do exactly what many liberals understandably didn’t want to do — to essentially normalize him, to treat him “as an ordinary opponent” rather than an existential threat, to focus on issues rather than character debates, to deny him both the public carnival and the tone of outraged hysteria in which his brand of politics tends to thrive.”

I haven’t forgiven Ross yet for his creepy column supporting right to life laws in Ireland, that have caused great pain and suffering to the poor and middle classes of Ireland. See Maureen Dowd’s report that same Sunday.

But his basic warning here is sound and important. “So Zingales’s advice to Democrats after their 2016 defeat carried more weight than the average act of punditry. On the evidence of Berlusconi’s many victories and rare defeats, he argued, the best way to beat Trump was to do exactly what many liberals understandably didn’t want to do — to essentially normalize him, to treat him “as an ordinary opponent” rather than an existential threat, to focus on issues rather than character debates, to deny him both the public carnival and the tone of outraged hysteria in which his brand of politics tends to thrive.” “

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Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.

Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.

The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.

The name, a reference to the Rolling Stones lyric “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was an apt prediction of a political storm that continues to tear shingles off the bureau. Days after they closed their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, agents began scrutinizing the campaign of her Republican rival. The two cases have become inextricably linked in one of the most consequential periods in the history of the F.B.I.”

David Lindsay Jr.:   Here is a comment I approved, and my reaction below it:

NM
Times Pick

“They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.”
That’s reminiscent of James Comey recently saying that he must have envisioned Hillary Clinton winning the presidency and not wanting hand-wringing after the fact that they had not been forthright.
But coming public with only one candidate’s story is not being transparent. Moreover, the election outcome was not guaranteed and FBI pronouncements most certainly can sway public opinion. That’s why the Bureau is supposed to stay out of elections.
What happened with the FBI’s double standard was interference with our election and we continue to pay a price for Comey’s poor decision-making.

 

David Lindsay:
This is stomach turning. Comey should be indicted.

Editorial | The Law Is Coming- Mr. Trump – The New York Times

“Why don’t we take a step back and contemplate what Americans, and the world, are witnessing?

Early Monday morning, F.B.I. agents raided the New York office, home and hotel room of the personal lawyer for the president of the United States. They seized evidence of possible federal crimes — including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations related to payoffs made to women, including a porn actress, who say they had affairs with the president before he took office and were paid off and intimidated into silence.

That evening the president surrounded himself with the top American military officials and launched unbidden into a tirade against the top American law enforcement officials — officials of his own government — accusing them of “an attack on our country.”

Oh, also: The Times reported Monday evening that investigators were examining a $150,000 donation to the president’s personal foundation from a Ukrainian steel magnate, given during the American presidential campaign in exchange for a 20-minute video appearance.

Meanwhile, the president’s former campaign chairman is under indictment, and his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. His son-in-law and other associates are also under investigation.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at Comments to the NYT
Great editorial, “The Law Is Coming,” thank you. Now, please help me understand, why does Mitch McConnell stop the bipartisan bill to protect the Mueller investigation from getting passed? What is his game, or thinking? Does he expect that he and the GOP will prosper by keeping Trump in power? Is he an employee of Koch Industries and their club of coal, oil and gas oligarchs? Is he betting, against your editorial, that the Republicans will keep enough power, to stop the resistance to Trump, till at least 2020? Maybe the law is coming, but when?

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’ – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. raided the Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Monday morning, seizing business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including a payment to a pornographic film actress.

Mr. Trump, in an extraordinarily angry response, lashed out hours later at what a person briefed on the matter said was an investigation into possible bank fraud by Mr. Cohen. Mr. Trump accused his own Justice Department of perpetrating a “witch hunt” and asserted that the F.B.I. “broke in to” Mr. Cohen’s office.The president, who spoke at the White House before meeting with senior military commanders about a potential missile strike on Syria, called the F.B.I. raid a “disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.”

It is not clear how the F.B.I. entered Mr. Cohen’s office, but agents had a search warrant and typically would have presented it to office personnel to be let in. The documents identified in the warrant date back years, according to a person briefed on the search.The prosecutors obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but most likely resulted from information that he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.”

What a wonderful day we are having.
Here is one of many great comments to this extraordinarily important new piece, which I felt compelled to respond to.

Steve Burton Staunton, VA 18 hours ago
Michael Cohen has demonstrated himself to be a bully toward his adversaries, fast and loose with facts, and extremely arrogant in his demeanor. It’s fitting to see him taken down a notch or two. Still, it is troubling to consider the power of law enforcement to seize attorney-client communications…. On the other hand, I can’t help hoping that they nail him.

1906 Recommend

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
I am sorry Mr. Burton, it is not troubling that law enforcement can seize attorney-client communications if done properly. This is essential, if lawyers and politicians are not to be above the law that the rest of us must respect and live by.
As Madeleine Albright wrote in the NYT the Sunday Review, “no politician, not even in the oval office,” should be allowed to break the law and tarnish the dreams of the American people.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | Is It Policy- or Just Reality TV? – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The other day the Trump administration announced a new trade deal with South Korea. It also announced that President Trump was nominating the White House physician to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. What do these announcements have in common?

The answer is that both are indicators of how Trump views his job. He doesn’t seem to see actual policymaking as important; instead, he treats it all as an exercise in reality TV.

Unfortunately, what looks good on TV isn’t necessarily good for America, or the world.Ronny L. Jackson, the veterans affairs nominee, certainly looks good on TV, as we saw when he gave Trump an excellent bill of health, including a declaration that the president, while overweight, is just shy of being officially obese — thanks to having apparently grown an inch in office.

However, girtherism isn’t the real issue here; as David Axelrod says, “a waist is a terrible thing to mind.” The point, instead, is that running veterans’ health is a management, not medical, job — and Jackson has no managerial experience.”

Wooing Saudi Business- Tabloid Mogul Had a Powerful Friend: Trump – The New York Times

“In July, David J. Pecker, the chairman of the company that owns The National Enquirer, visited his old friend President Trump at the White House.

The tabloid publisher took along a special guest, Kacy Grine, a French businessman who advises one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men and sometimes acts as an intermediary between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Western businesses.The two men and other Pecker associates chatted with the president in the Oval Office and briefly met with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner. Before moving on to dinner with the group, the president had a photographer snap pictures of the guests standing with him behind his desk.

Mr. Pecker has long used his media empire to protect Mr. Trump’s image. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Pecker’s company, American Media Inc., suppressed the story of a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.The night of the dinner, Mr. Pecker got something from Mr. Trump: an unofficial seal of approval from the White House.”

David Lindsay:

Ouch. I can’t wash this dirt off my hands, it won’t come off.  Yes to this article. Here is one of many comments I recommended:

Avatar

New York 1 hour ago

So Pecker buys the Stormy Daniels story and doesn’t print it thereby covering for Trump. In return, Trump hooks Pecker up with Saudi investors. I’ll bet Pecker would have done the same thing if the story were about Obama. Right?

Trump repeatedly told us he’d drain the swamp; instead he’s filled it with the shadiest, sleaziest, most corrupt collection Washington, D.C. has ever seen. The Republican Congress thinks everything is just fine. Please leave our boss alone so we can go back to work tearing down protections for the poor, minorities, the environment, women, the 99%, public education, victims of the N.R.A., etc. As Ryan has repeatedly told us, Trump is new to the job; we need to give him time to “get adjusted.” In 2018 and 2020 we need to tell the Republican Party that their brand is destroying America.

All the President’s Thugs – The New York Times

“Among the most disturbing accusations the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford made in her “60 Minutes” interview about President Trump was that after she sold her story about Mr. Trump to a magazine in 2011, a man approached her in a parking lot, while she was with her infant daughter, and said: “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”

“And then he leaned around,” she continued, “and looked at my daughter and said: ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ ”Five years later, said Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, when Mr. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen offered to pay her $130,000 to be silent about her relationship with Mr. Trump, she took the deal because she “was concerned for my family and their safety.”

There is, of course, only Ms. Clifford’s word on this incident, which reads like a scene from a low-grade gangster movie. But this is not the first time that someone who has crossed Donald Trump has spoken of being threatened.”

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.” “

Trump Hacked the Media Right Before Our Eyes – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“But the liberal establishment’s fixation on Facebook’s 2016 sins — first the transmission of fake news and now the exploitation of its data by the Trump campaign or its appendages — still feels like a classic example of blaming something new because it’s new when it’s the old thing that mattered more. Or of blaming something new because you thought that “new” meant “good,” that the use of social-media data by campaigns would always help tech-savvy liberals and not their troglodytic rivals — and the shock of discovering otherwise obscures the more important role that older forms of media played in making the Trump era a reality.

No doubt all the activity on Facebook and the apparent use of Facebook’s data had some impact, somewhere, on Trump’s surprise victory. But the media format that really made him president, the one whose weaknesses and perversities and polarizing tendencies he brilliantly exploited, wasn’t Zuckerberg’s unreal kingdom; it wasn’t even the Twitter platform where Trump struts and frets and rages daily. It was that old pre-internet standby, broadcast and cable television, and especially TV news.

Start with the fake news that laid the foundation for Trump’s presidential campaign — not the sort that circulates under clickbait headlines in your Facebook feed, but the sort broadcast in prime time by NBC, under the label of reality TV. Yes, as media sophisticates we’re all supposed to know that “reality” means “fake,” but in the beginning nobody marketed “The Apprentice” that way; across most of its run you saw a much-bankrupted real estate tycoon portrayed, week after week and season after season, as a titan of industry, the for-serious greatest businessman in the world.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Atta boy Douthat, as my father liked to say, You’re not as dumb as you look.

The commenters tear at your arguments on the periphery, and some them make good points, but the heart of your argument is impeccable. I hope the TV executives and managers and talking heads are taking notes.

im·pec·ca·ble NYT, why is there no spell check in this writing box. Help us out.

Trump Doesn’t Give a Dam – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Donald Trump doesn’t give a dam. Or a bridge. Or a road. Or a sewer system. Or any of the other things we talk about when we talk about infrastructure.But how can that be when he just announced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan? That’s easy: It’s not a plan, it’s a scam. The $1.5 trillion number is just made up; he’s only proposing federal spending of $200 billion, which is somehow supposed to magically induce a vastly bigger overall increase in infrastructure investment, mainly paid for either by state and local governments (which are not exactly rolling in cash, but whatever) or by the private sector.

And even the $200 billion is essentially fraudulent: The budget proposal announced the same day doesn’t just impose savage cuts on the poor, it includes sharp cuts for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy and other agencies that would be crucially involved in any real infrastructure plan. Realistically, Trump’s offer on infrastructure is this: nothing.”

Yes, yes, yes. Here is the most recommended comment, which I liked:

Socrates is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona. NJ 19 hours ago

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says the US needs to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 in the nation’s infrastructure, according to its Infrastructure Report Card.

The ASCE gave the America’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+.

The ASCE says that the current low level of government investment makes trillions in GDP losses and job losses inevitable due to America’s 3rd world infrastructure.

America’s infrastructure grades:

Aviation: D
Bridges: C+
Dams: D
Drinking Water: D
Energy: D+
Hazardous Waste: D+
Inland Waterways: D
Levees: D
Parks and Recreation: D+
Ports: C+
Rail: B
Roads: D
Schools: D
Solid Waste: C+
Transit: D-
Wastewater: D+

https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

America is a D student when it comes to infrastructure, and as a reminder for our dumb, deplorable Donald, infrastructure costs real dollars, not fake dollars.

In Donald’s defense, he’s probably confused, because he’s used to stiffing contractors and people – not paying them – so he underestimated the real cost by a trillion or two….an honest crook’s mistake.

Of course just over a month ago, we had an extra $1.5 trillion to spend on infrastructure, BUT there was an urgent emergency renovation of the giant levee systems in 50,000 of the country’s millionaire/billionaire bank accounts that required immediate attention and a rapid response.

Infrastructure represents the common good: Donald Trump and Greed Over People will be having none of that.

Three cheers for Dumb D+onald.

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