Friday, December 15, 2017

No, There Is No Precedent : Democracy Journal

No, There Is No Precedent : Democracy Journal
by Sean Wilentz (Princeton University)

The best historical analogies illuminate the past for the present, but the worst analogies domesticate the present to the past. And I cannot balk from stating, with great respect to my colleagues and friends in this symposium and to the editors of Democracy who thought it up, that historical analogies to the ascension of Donald J. Trump are among the very worst.
Understanding our current situation begins with the recognition that Trump and his incipient regime are utterly abnormal. Trump represents a sharp break in our national political history—something unlike anything America, in all of its turbulence, has seen before, his election the result of a fundamental collapse in our politics. Coming to terms with this requires, in part, finally admitting to ourselves that, although the constitutional trappings were respected, the events of 2016 resembled a foreign-abetted coup d’état more than they did an American presidential election. Coming to terms also requires paying close attention to the fact that Trump, by his own admission, learned his approach to leadership not in the rough-and-tumble of partisan politics, nor even in the wheeling-and-dealing of high-stakes New York real estate, but in the Roy Cohn school of political racketeering, including its links to organized crime—training that, apparently, has made Trump feel perfectly at home working with the syndicates of the post-Soviet Russian oligarchy.

A Cautionary Tale…Perhaps : Democracy Journal

A Cautionary Tale…Perhaps : Democracy Journal
by David Nasaw
The Democratic Party victory of 1948, while chock-full of sound and fury, signified next to nothing in the long run. There would be no extension of the New Deal, no grand social programs enacted. In 1950, the Republicans regained 28 seats in the House and five in the Senate. In 1952, effectively playing their anti-Communist card, they elected an ex-general as president and won a majority in both the House and the Senate.

If there is a lesson progressives can draw from these events, it might be that, to paraphrase Naomi Klein, “No is not going to be enough.” The Democrats may do very well in 2018, but their victory will be both short-lived and hollow if they do not offer voters a positive program that is both visionary and doable and changes the political discourse back from one based on fear of the future to one founded on hope for a better one.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How Trump’s skepticism of U.S. intelligence on Russia left an election threat unchecked - Washington Post

How Trump’s skepticism of U.S. intelligence on Russia left an election threat unchecked - Washington Post

By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker

***Nearly a year into his presidency, [Donald] Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.
The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.
Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.
His administration has moved to undo at least some of the sanctions the previous administration imposed on Russia for its election interference, exploring the return of two Russian compounds in the United States that President Barack Obama had seized — the measure that had most galled Moscow. Months later, when Congress moved to impose additional penalties on Moscow, Trump opposed the measures fiercely.

Judge Alex Kozinski made us all victims and accomplices.

Dahlia Lithwick is a brilliant lawyer-journalist who writes for Slate.  In this shocking confessional piece she describes how women acquiesced in the shameful and humiliating behaviour of a brilliant, powerful, and - now we all know- nefarious judge.
It's a must read. - gwc
Judge Alex Kozinski made us all victims and accomplices.
by Dahlia Lithwick

The first time I met Alex Kozinski was in 1996. I was clerking for the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and there was an orientation for new clerks in San Francisco. One of my co-clerks and I were introduced to the already legendary, lifetime-tenured young judge at a reception, and we talked for a while. I cannot recall what we talked about. I remember only feeling quite small and very dirty. Without my prompting, my former co-clerk described this interaction in an email to me this week. “He completely ignored me and appeared to be undressing you with his eyes,” he wrote. “I had never seen anyone ogle another person like that and still have not seen anything like it. Was so uncomfortable to watch, and I wasn’t even the subject of the stare.”***

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Reed, Times Reporter Who Covered the Civil Rights Era, Dies at 87 - The New York Times

Jim Dwyer writes
"‪Roy Reed, reporter, was near Meredith when he got shot, at the Selma jailhouse when King walked out, at the Pettus Bridge when blacks were bull whipped and clubbed. He would’ve been called fake news but he was the real deal. Don’t miss the John Schwartz obit "
When Dwyer, himself the "real deal",  uses the honorific "reporter" it reminds us of the heroics of the men and women, writers and photographers,  who bring us the stories of life and death, suffering and beauty around the world.
Roy Reed, Times Reporter Who Covered the Civil Rights Era, Dies at 87 - The New York Times
by John Schwartz

In “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation,” Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff wrote that Mr. Reed “could write magically, choosing words that caught your eye.” Mr. Sitton hired him, they wrote, because he “knew Reed to be unfailingly accurate, deeply reflective, uncommonly polite, and, like the Times reporters who had preceded him in the South, he spoke Southern.”
Mr. Reed, in a memoir, “Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent’s Adventures with The New York Times,” wrote that “Speaking Southern was not just a matter of drawl or twang; it meant a different way of framing thoughts.” It meant that he understood the territory, even as he was appalled by the racism and violence that undergirded the suppression of voting rights.
Roy Earl Reed was born on Feb. 14, 1930, in Hot Springs, Ark., and grew up in Piney, in the state’s western Hill Country. His parents were Roy Edward Reed, a grocer, and Ella Meredith Reed. A younger sister, Hattie, died in 1964. In his memoir, he said that working in the store as a boy and talking to a black customer, Leroy Samuels, about the injustice of segregation helped awaken him from “generations of family prejudice lying not quite dormant in my young mind.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When Judges Prey on Clerks - The New York Times

When Judges Prey on Clerks - The New York Times
by Prof. Dara E. Purvis (Penn State Law)

A few months after I graduated from Yale Law School in 2008, I started a clerkship for a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. Almost immediately, I heard rumors that Alex Kozinski, another judge whose chambers were in the same building, often made inappropriate sexual remarks to female clerks.
Those rumors were finally voiced publicly last week when several of Judge Kozinski’s former clerks and staff members told The Washington Post and other sources that he had shown them pornography, discussed a “knock chart” that listed women he’d had sex with in college and publicly suggested that a clerk in another chambers should exercise naked when she had the gym to herself.
The novelist Heidi Bond claims that the day she started her clerkship, he grabbed her arm and said with a smile: “It’s too late now. She can’t escape any longer. She’s my slave.”
Ms. Bond tried to play it off as a joke. “I think you mean indentured servant.”
“No, I meant slave,” he said, grinning.

Monday, December 11, 2017

E.J. Dionne: Attacks on Mueller push us closer to the precipice - The Washington Post

The faux maverick Lindsey Graham recently joined the Trump cry for scalps:
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has often needled Trump, tweeted Friday: "I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia."
  • More Graham: "It's long past time for a Special Counsel to investigate Clinton email scandal, Uranium One, role of Fusion GPS, and FBI and DOJ bias during 2016 campaign
The attacks on Mueller push us closer to the precipice - The Washington Post
by E.J. Dionne
...The apotheosis of Republican congressional collusion with Trump’s efforts to hang on at all costs came at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. One Republican after another attacked Mueller and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as if the latter should be placed on a new compendium of subversive organizations.
The occasion was testimony before the committee by Christopher A. Wray, the Trump-appointed FBI director. It was heartening to see Wray stand up for his colleagues, which made you wonder if Wray may soon go the way of his predecessor, James B. Comey.
Deserving an Academy Award for the most striking imitation of a member of the old House Un-American Activities Committee was Rep. Louie Gohmert. The hard-right Texas Republican went through a roll call of investigators, name by name, asking Wray if each had shown political bias. Wray defended every one of them he knew and wryly smiled when he was unfamiliar with one of the five names on Gohmert’s hit list.
Gohmert might as well have echoed the favored question of the congressional inquisitors of the early ’40s and ’50s: “Are they now or have they ever been . . . supporters of Hillary Clinton?” When Republicans are FBI haters who are sidetracking probes into Russian subversion, the world truly is turned upside down.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jeanine Pirro and Lindsay Graham Attacks on FBI and Justice Leadership

Be Afraid.  Be very afraid.  The Republican majority in Congress is a cabal of scoundrels, fools, and cowards.  Resignations by Flake and Corker, tepid protests by McCain, and wobbly stances by Collins are all that passes for resistance to Our Mussolini.  - gwc

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has often needled Trump, tweeted Friday: "I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia."
  • More Graham: "It's long past time for a Special Counsel to investigate Clinton email scandal, Uranium One, role of Fusion GPS, and FBI and DOJ bias during 2016 campaign

Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican - The New York Times

Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican - The New York Times
by Peter Wehner (White House aide in the last three Republican administrations)

"...There are of course a great many honorable individuals in the Republican Party and the evangelical movement. Those who hold different views than I do lead exemplary lives. Yet I cannot help believing that the events of the past few years — and the past few weeks — have shown us that the Republican Party and the evangelical movement (or large parts of them, at least), have become what I once would have thought of as liberal caricatures.

Assume you were a person of the left and an atheist, and you decided to create a couple of people in a laboratory to discredit the Republican Party and white evangelical Christianity. You could hardly choose two more perfect men than Donald Trump and Roy Moore."

Why these Alabama voters are sticking by Roy Moore – VICE News

This link will take you to the video of the Alabama focus group organized by Republican pollster Frank Luntz.  The rationalizations about why they support Roy Moore are stunning.
Why these Alabama voters are sticking by Roy Moore – VICE News
 Twelve conservative voters gathered inside a Birmingham coffee house Thursday for a candid discussion about the Alabama senate race.
During the frank discussion, some said they were voting for him primarily because he is not Doug Jones. But other participants dismissed the allegations against Moore and excusing others by reasoning that behavior now seen as unacceptable wasn’t a problem in Alabama decades ago.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation - The New York Times

Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation 

by Maggie Habermann, Glenn Thrush, and Peter Baker

"As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.

For other presidents, every day is a test of how to lead a country, not just a faction, balancing competing interests. For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation. He still relitigates last year’s election, convinced that the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russia’s interference is a plot to delegitimize him. Color-coded maps highlighting the counties he won were hung on the White House walls...." 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Powerful closing by Doug Jones

Check out @GDouglasJones’s Tweet:

Don Jr.'s attorney client privilege claim doubtful

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Fractured 2017 - Roger Cohen The New York Times

A Fractured 2017 - The New York Times
by Roger Cohen

"***The 21st-century world is a pyramid. Wiring everyone together did not so much empower everyone as connect the elites at the summit, the guys who had the view of everything and the means to turn what they saw into a geyser of cash. Busy with all that, sure of themselves, operating globally, benefiting from cheap labor and tax-lite impunity, they scarcely noted that they no longer had much connection with the masses below, whose view was still national, whose culture was still local, and who dimly suffered, with mounting anger, the transformative consequences of globalization.
Trump saw that he could be the vehicle of that anger. He grasped that nationalism, nativism and xenophobia were ripe for a rerun. Sovereignty is his mot du jour, even if — or more likely because — ever more of life is lived in a virtual reality where the nation is defunct. The ugly reactionary tide has not yet run its course. Trump will squeeze every last drop of political juice from it in 2018 and beyond. So will Europe’s rightist movements, still vigorous across the continent despite Emmanuel Macron’s uplifting victory in France. The neo-fascists of Poland, of Hungary, are on the march, their anti-Semitism not yet exhausted. In every Western democracy, Trump has helped unleash that which is most foul in human nature.
It’s the last stand of the white man, whose century this will not be. Demography is inexorable, as are movements in people’s minds. Wilson could still speak of colonialism as something to be adjusted, rather than the vile white exploitation of dark-skinned people that it was. Women, in his time, were mere adjuncts to men. The world moves on, but in zigzags, not straight lines. The front lines of race are no longer in British India. They are down the street, or over the tracks, within Western societies. Eurocentrism is over. Gender and sexuality are a battleground in the dismantlement of old ways of thinking. Yet the old, especially in male chauvinist form, never goes quietly. It digs in and it fights."

Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry - The New York Times

Draining the swamp!

Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry - The New York Times

Francis Revives the Workers’ Church - The American Prospect

Francis Revives the Workers’ Church: The Catholic Church in America—once an ally of workers and their unions—grew deferential to big money in recent decades. Now, prompted by the Pope, a new generation of labor priests and bishops is trying to change that.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Is How Every Genocide Begins – Foreign Policy

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about taxes at the St. Charles, Missouri, Convention Center on Nov. 29.
 (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
This Is How Every Genocide Begins – Foreign Policy
by Daniel Altman

Donald Trump’s retweeting of anti-Muslim propaganda videos is the most un-American thing he has done as president. I could just as well end this article here, as the truth of this statement should be self-evident. But let me explain.

A president can do many things that seem cruel, especially from the point of view of his political opponents, such as encouraging Congress to strip health insurance away from millions of Americans. He can also do many things to offend the moral sensibility of his constituents, such as talking about grabbing women by their genitals. He can even go so far as to call into question American values, perhaps by equating the actions of white supremacists and those who oppose them.

Each of these actions is abhorrent in its own way, but I would argue that none of them creates the same peril to the nation — and to humanity itself — as the president’s retweets. I know it may seem like an enormous exaggeration to pin such importance on the result of clicking a button on a webpage. But again, please bear with me.

Some of the greatest crimes in human history have begun with moments like this one. Social scientists agree that attacks on an entire class of people — whether identified by their race, religion, education, or any other distinguishing characteristic — do not happen spontaneously.

 First the mob has to be primed. The targeted group has to be demonized through a campaign of hateful misinformation, always presented as legitimate information by people in positions of trust. Then the signal for violence falls on ready ears.
It happened this way in Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, and countless other sites of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and mass persecution. The pamphlets, megaphones, and radio broadcasts came before the pogroms, murders, and forced relocations.

The pamphlets, megaphones, and radio broadcasts came before the pogroms, murders, and forced relocations.
 And today, we have even more effective ways to reach millions of people at a time, as the president’s more than 43 million followers on Twitter can attest; the established media only magnify his reach. But could another crime on this scale happen here ....[keep reading]

Et tu, Sen. McCain? - Jennifer Rubin The Washington Post

Et tu, Sen. McCain? - The Washington Post
by Jennifer Rubin

Chcuk Schumer, today:

From the very beginning, the Republican tax bill has made a mockery, a mockery, of the legislative process.
Republican leaders disappeared behind closed doors and negotiated a framework for a tax bill, without a shred of Democratic input. Then Republican leaders wrote a bill, behind closed doors, without a shred of Democratic input. Republicans brought that bill through a markup in the Finance Committee, where it underwent the scrutiny of ONE – I repeat, ONE – expert witness. That’s it. Finance Committee Democrats offered sixty amendments to the bill but Republicans rejected every single one. Committee Republicans made it crystal clear they were not interested in bipartisanship.
Now that bill is before us on the floor. Even further, significant changes likely will be made by the Majority Leader today, he will get huge changes in a bill today and try to vote on it tonight… and this is tax, one of the most complicated issues before us. These changes and the way the Majority Leader is handling this make it impossible for any independent analyst to get a good look at the bill and how it would impact our country.***

Our political foundation is rotting away - E.J. Dionne The Washington Post

Our political foundation is rotting away - The Washington Post
by E.J. Dionne
Great nations and proud democracies fall when their systems become so corrupted that the decay is not even noticed — or the rot is written off as a normal part of politics.
President Trump has created exactly such a crisis. He has not done it alone. The corrosion of norms and values began long before he propelled the nation past the edge, and his own party is broadly complicit in enabling his attacks on truth, decency and democratic values.
In fact, Republicans are taking full advantage of the bedlam Trump leaves in his wake. They are using a twisted process to push through a profoundly flawed tax bill with scant scrutiny.***

Judge Pryor opposes plan to flood federal courts with conservatives

Conservatives Should Oppose Expanding the Federal Courts

Call for United Front: Ben Wittes in 18 Tweets


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Seven Critical Truths About North Korea - The New York Times

Seven Critical Truths About North Korea  NY Times

by Max Fisher

North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test has provoked understandable alarm, particularly among Americans worried about the threat.
But many analysts reacted with something closer to grizzled stoicism, greeting the launch as dispiriting but unsurprising confirmation of North Korea’s capabilities and intentions. For them, news of the test, like the missile program itself, is unwelcome and concerning but not too terrifying.
It’s worth reviewing, then, some of the fundamentals that guide those experts’ views of North Korea and its weapons.
(1) It’s over. North Korea is a nuclear power now.
Policymakers will debate for years the precise moment at which the door closed to preventing or rolling back North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. But that door is most likely now closed.
The North Koreans have little reason to give up their weapons programs, which bring them security against their otherwise vastly superior adversaries, and we have no way to make them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ballot security order vs. RNC may lapse

Friday, November 24, 2017

Child in Chief: How to for Petulance