Johnny Harris and Michelle Cottle | Inside the Completely Legal G.O.P. Plot to Destroy American Democracy – The New York Times

Johnny Harris and 

Mr. Harris is a video journalist. Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“For the past two years, Americans have been overwhelmed by a deluge of headlines suggesting democracy in the United States is under threat: Voter suppression. A shortage of drop boxes. Election deniers seeking key state offices. It can be difficult to gauge what stories suggest a truly terrifying threat to democracy, and which are simply disheartening or even petty. The Opinion Video film above aims to unpack one of the most dire threats to democracy, which includes a sophisticated plot to control not only who can vote, but which votes get counted.”

Michelle Cottle | Donald Trump’s Dangerous Gambit – The New York Times

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“If there’s one thing a top-notch grifter knows how to do, it’s exploit a crisis.

So it is that Donald Trump has transformed the F.B.I.’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home from a potentially debilitating scandal into a political bonanza — one that threatens to further divide a twitchy, polarized nation.

His formula for this alchemy? The usual: playing on pre-existing grievances among his followers — in this case, the right’s bone-deep suspicion and resentment of federal authority. If you thought members of the MAGAverse were jacked up on Deep State conspiracy theories before, just wait until they spend several more weeks consuming the toxic spinsanity that Mr. Trump and his enablers have been pushing out like black tar heroin.

Once Mr. Trump donned his trusty cloak of victimhood, which by now must be threadbare from overuse, the Republican response to the search was predictable: His base roared in outrage, a display of blind fealty featuring threats of lethal violence against their savior’s perceived persecutors. Party leaders tripped over themselves to fuel the fury, lobbing attacks at the F.B.I. for which they should forever hide their faces. (Dear Kevin McCarthy: Any blood spilled over this is partly on your hands. An “intolerable state of weaponized politicization” of the Justice Department? Seriously?)”

Michelle Cottle | Jan. 6 Committee Hearing: Heroes and Villains – The New York Times

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“It turns out that not even Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka bought into the former president’s toxic fantasies about the 2020 election having been stolen from him. She came to understand pretty quickly after the election that there was no evidence of a plot by Democrats, accepting the assessment of Bill Barr, Mr. Trump’s attorney general at the time, that the game had not been rigged. Mr. Trump had lost, and all the wild claims to the contrary, as Mr. Barr says he told Mr. Trump, were “bullshit.”

Snippets from Ms. Trump’s and Mr. Barr’s recorded testimonies were among the many engrossing bits of evidence to emerge Thursday evening during the Jan. 6 House committee’s first public hearing. The grainy video clips somehow fit the somber mood of the proceedings and fueled the sense that dark dealings were at last coming to the light for inspection by the American people.

It is a heavy lift to get people to pay attention to a story that they think they already know — and that many have grown exhausted hearing about. And Democrats, bless their hearts, are often lousy storytellers, too focused on dry data or policy rhetoric or high-minded ideological ideals to weave a strong narrative or make a gut-level connection.

But in their opening argument to the American people, the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 committee presented a story that was both informative and resonant — by turns heartbreaking, hair-raising and infuriating. Fact by fact, clip by clip, the committee laid out the contours of its case that the president of the United States spearheaded a monthslong, multifaceted effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, culminating in the violent attack on the Capitol. More details will come in later hearings. But the committee’s Republican vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, captured the crux of the story in her opening remarks: “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

By Michelle Goldberg | Why Ukrainians Believe They Can Win Against Russia – The New York Times

“I met Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher and the chief editor of UkraineWorld, an English-language news site, in Kyiv in 2019. I’d gone there to report on how Ukrainians felt about Donald Trump’s attempts to extort their president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and on the American right’s demonization of Ukrainians who’d worked against corruption. Yermolenko spoke, then, of Ukraine as a front line in the global battle between democracy and authoritarianism, with Europe on one side and Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the other — and the role of the United States under Trump confusing and ambiguous.

“It’s about whether democracy, rule of law, are spreading farther to the east,” he said of the conflict over Ukraine’s future. “It’s a long story how it spread to Eastern Europe — first it was Eastern Europe, Central Europe, then there was Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova. We hope it will someday reach Russia.” But it was possible that the ideological tide would go the other way. “There is a new authoritarianism going westward,” said Yermolenko. In this view, the fate of Ukraine’s nascent democracy was a sort of weather vane for the world.

I spoke to Yermolenko again on Sunday, as Russian troops besieged his country. “The spirit is very strong,” he said. “There is no fatalism, no willingness to negotiate on Russia’s terms. There is decisiveness.” Ukrainian self-defense, he said, was chiefly a matter of patriotism, of people defending their home and way of life against a cruel foreign power. But he also saw it as part of the great ideological contest we’d discussed two and a half years ago.

“There is a strong feeling that if Ukraine wins — and I’m sure it wins — that can bring the end of both Putin’s and Lukashenko’s regimes,” he said, referring to Alexander Lukashenko, the strongman president of Belarus, who is reportedly preparing to send troops to Ukraine to fight alongside Russia.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
At the risk of repeating myself: We do not have to sit and watch a bloodbath on TV. We could help things along by accepting Volodymyr Zelensky’s request for emergency admittance into NATO. NATO could openly go to Ukraine’s defense, and the bloodshed would end sooner, and hopefully, with Putin put away one way or the other. My father fought in WW II and lost 25% of his classmates in the Yale class of 1944. Some things are worth dying for.
David Lindsay Jr blogs at InconvenientNews.net, and for many years was in the anti-war movement against the war in Vietnam. He then went on to write a novel, “The Tay Son Rebellion,” to reveal the history and culture of the Vietnamese people.

Michelle Goldberg | Pramila Jayapal Won’t Let the Biden Presidency Fail – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“IRECENTLY confided to Pramila Jayapal, the leader of the House Progressive Caucus, that I was literally losing sleep over the fate of the giant social spending bill she’s negotiating. It’s been impressive to see the left exert control over Congress, refusing to move on legislation cherished by moderates until there’s a deal on a bill containing progressive priorities. At the same time, it’s been terrifying to imagine what it will mean for the Biden presidency — and the future of the country — if an agreement isn’t reached soon.

Was she sure, I wanted to know, that progressive resolve wouldn’t blow up in all our faces?

She insisted she wasn’t worried. “We’re going to get both bills done,” she said.”

I think Pramila Jayapal and her caucus are endangering the Biden legacy, and that they are a threat to everything we need regarding the climate crisis.

Here is a comment, I completely second.

Scott Rose
ManhattanOct. 16

Against the threat of Trump and Trumpism, we need a greater sense of Realpolitik that Jayapal is capable of. The bi-partisan infrastructure bill should have been passed into law at the beginning of September. It would have fulfilled Biden’s promise of being able to accomplish things with Republicans in Congress. Biden won with the support of many lifelong Republicans but Jayapal kneecapped him there. Meanwhile, when is the last time Jayapal asked herself how she is going to help Democratic candidates for Senate from purple states win their midterm races? She doesn’t think in those terms. She only talks to people in her ultra-progressive bubble.

20 Replies262 Recommended

Michelle Goldberg | How The Texas Abortion Law is Turning Activists Into Enforcers – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

This column has been updated.

“A Texas law banning most abortions went into effect on Wednesday. By refusing to block it, the Supreme Court did not overturn Roe v. Wade, but it rendered that precedent, at least for the time being, irrelevant.

There’s a sinister brilliance to the way this whole thing has gone down. Texas fashioned an abortion prohibition whose bizarre, crowdsourced enforcement mechanism gave conservative courts a pretext not to enjoin it despite its conflict with Roe. And the Supreme Court has, with an unsigned, one-paragraph opinion issued in the middle of the night, made Roe momentarily useless without sparking the nationwide convulsion that would have come from overturning it outright.

The Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8, is now likely to be copied by conservative states across the country. As long as it stands, abortion in Texas is illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy, or about two weeks after a missed period. There is no exception for rape or incest.

But perhaps the most shocking thing about S.B. 8 is the power it gives abortion opponents — or simple opportunists — over their fellow citizens. The law is written so that they, not the police or prosecutors, get to enforce it, and potentially profit off it. Under S.B. 8, any private citizen can sue others for “conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” “

You go girl.  Excellent writing.

Here is one of many good comments, and this one rocks.

Prof.
Austin, TXSept. 1

They should be more careful about precedents. How about a law where anyone at all has standing to sue someone for being unvaccinated?

4 Replies786 Recommended

Michelle Goldberg | America Is Brutal to Parents. Biden Is Trying to Change That. – The New York Times

” . . .  In “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” Heather McGhee detailed how support for public goods collapsed among white people once Black people had access to them. This very much includes relief for parents and children.

“The fear of lazy Black mothers who would reproduce without working goes really deep in this country,” McGhee told me. It’s hard to imagine how a proposal for automatic cash payments to families could have gone anywhere during decades of moral panic about Black mothers luxuriating on the dole.

But universal day care programs that would help women work didn’t go anywhere either. In 1971, Congress passed a bill that would have created a national network of high-quality, sliding-scale child care centers, akin to those that exist in many European countries. Urged on by Patrick Buchanan, Richard Nixon vetoed it, writing that it would “commit the vast moral authority of the national government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing over against the family‐centered approach.”  . . . . “

Michelle Cottle | Biden Underpromises, Overdelivers – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/opinion/biden-100-days.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“Like any employee, President Biden has to suffer through periodic performance reviews. Thursday marks his 100th day in office — a time-honored if vaguely arbitrary milestone at which a president’s early moves are sliced, diced and spun for all the world to judge. How many bills has he gotten passed? Whom has he appointed? How many executive orders has he signed? Which promises has he broken? Which constituencies has he ticked off?

Mr. Biden took office under extraordinary circumstances, with the nation confronting what he has called a quartet of “converging crises”: a lethal pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change and racial injustice. Bold policy action was needed. So, too, was an effort to neutralize the toxic politics of the Trump era — which, among other damage, spawned a large reality-free zone in which the bulk of Republicans buy the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

All of which feels like a lot for one mild-mannered 78-year-old to tackle in his first three or so months. Then again, Mr. Biden is built to keep chugging along in the face of adversity, tragedy and lousy odds. That’s how he rolls. And while his first 100 days have been far from flawless, they reflect a clear understanding of why he was elected and what the American people now expect of him.

The president moved fast and went big on his signature challenge: confronting the one-two public-health-and-economic punch of the pandemic. He asked Congress for a $1.9 trillion relief package, and Congress basically gave him a $1.9 trillion relief package. Did Republican lawmakers sign on? No, they did not. But the ambitious bill — which went so far as to establish a (temporary) guaranteed income for families with children — drew strong bipartisan support from the public. That was good enough for the White House.  . . . “

Michelle Goldberg | Impeachment’s Over. Bring On the Criminal Investigations. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“A few hours after the Senate voted in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Saturday, I spoke to the lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin. He was crushingly disappointed. Despite Republicans’ indulgence of Trump over the last five years, despite the fact that three Republican senators met with Trump’s lawyers before they presented their defense, Raskin had so much faith in the overwhelming case he and his colleagues brought that, until the end, he held out hope of conviction.

“I’ve always been seen as a rose-colored-glasses guy,” he said. Raskin’s openhearted belief that Senate Republicans maintained a remnant of patriotic solidarity with their fellow citizens is part of what made his presentation so effective; he threw himself into it without fatalism or cynicism.

The House managers forced the Senate to reckon with the scale of the terror Trump unleashed on Congress. “I did see a bunch of the Republicans who voted against us, including Mitch McConnell, crying at different points,” said Raskin. The case was strong enough to win over even two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy, who’d initially voted against holding the trial at all.

But when it comes to McConnell and his caucus, cynicism always prevails.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Michelle Goldberg. This piece is flawless and sensational. It feels to like the best of your many good pieces, and probably the best. Your opening, about the big uncynical Jamie Raskin, believing he could turn the stone hearted Republicans to do their duty, had me close to tears. The top commenters loved this too. You took my breath away with your indictment and praise of Mitch McConnell: “The senator’s excoriation could have doubled as the House managers’ closing summation. To Raskin and the eight other managers, McConnell’s speech was at once a vindication and an insult, showing that they’d proved their case, and that it didn’t matter. McConnell voted to acquit on a manufactured technicality, arguing that a former president is “constitutionally not eligible for conviction.” His bad faith is awe-inspiring; it was he who refused to move forward with a trial while Trump was still in office. With his split-the-baby solution to Trump’s manifest guilt, McConnell seemed to be trying to stay on the right side of his caucus while calming corporate donors who’ve cut off politicians who supported the insurrectionists. But — and here’s the imprtant part — McConnell signaled openness to Trump’s prosecution in other forums. “He didn’t get away with anything yet — yet,” said McConnell. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”
Let the courts go after the con & bully.

Michelle Goldberg | You May Want to Forget Him, but Trump’s Trial Must Be Thorough – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

“Here’s a confession: I’m dreading the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which begins on Tuesday. There are some nihilists who miss the former president’s presence in the news cycle, or who think others do, but I hated the last five years and am relieved that it’s over and he’s gone.

The Senate trial will almost certainly not bring justice, because Republican senators make up half the jury, and even if many of them privately disapprove of Trump’s insurrectionary attempts to cling to office, their base does not. If this process drags on, it will slow the urgent work of passing an economic rescue package, increasing human suffering and possibly the chance that the party of Marjorie Taylor Greene will retake the House in the midterms.

Yet it is still crucial that when the Senate trial commences this week, the House impeachment managers take all the time they need to make their case.

According to Politico, there’s tension between several managers, who reportedly want to call witnesses, and senior Democrats who just want to get the trial over with. The desire to rush is understandable, because Democrats are sacrificing valuable legislative time. But if they miss the opportunity to give the country the fullest possible picture of Trump’s treachery, that sacrifice will be in vain.

Perhaps it goes without saying that the real jury for this trial is not the Senate but the public. Most Americans have decided on Trump’s guilt: according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, 56 percent say Trump should be convicted and barred from holding office again. But it’s still important for Democrats to tell the comprehensive story of how Trump tried to steal the election, and how that attempt ended in death and desecration.

This is necessary not just to cement Trump’s disgrace, but because his election lies are being used to justify new restrictions on voting. Trump’s attack on democracy didn’t begin on Jan. 6, and even though he’s out of office, it hasn’t ended.” . . .

Thank you Michelle Goldberg for this excellent and inspiring piece. It reminds me of my own fickle convictions. I was moved by the following comment, to remember a position I had months ago, that now seems timely, serious, and potent.

Richard Blaine
Not NYCFeb. 8
Times Pick

Over 100 Police were sent to hospital. 5 people died. . The Republicans effectively sought to impeach Bill Clinton for receiving oral sex in the Oval Office. . But inciting an insurrection isn’t enough? . Pressuring electoral officials to steal an election isn’t enough? . If that doesn’t merit conviction, then what does? . The GOP ran endless sessions on Sec. Clinton’s e-mails and “Benghazi”. Now they want this trial to end immediately. The Democrats should not do them that favor. . They should conduct a methodical, thorough investigation. Subpoena the man, and force him to obey the rules. For once. . They should take evidence from every witness. review every document, e-mail, text, and video. . If it takes two years, it takes two years. It took Watergate a long time to build momentum. . The Democrats should keep at it. Until the man’s support evaporates. Until Republican Senators are no longer afraid. Until the Republicans can no longer face the daily water torture of another disclosure, each worse than the last. Until the Republicans stop their bad-faith posturing and denial. Until they learn the meaning of shame. . Until the Republicans are so desperate to end the trial that they admit the truth, and vote unanimously to convict. . Get to the bottom of this, no matter how long it takes. It is about the Rule of Law and the survival of Democracy. . Nothing is more important.

13 Replies769 Recommended