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Monday, December 17, 2018

Robert Mueller releases memo summarizing FBI's interview with Michael Flynn

Brown v. Board of Ed: Key Cold War weapon. People are feigning surprise at the fact that Russians targeted African Americans to try and suppress voting for Democrat candidates in 2016.

neier top -- better!!

People are feigning surprise at the fact that Russians targeted African Americans to try and suppress voting for Democrat candidates in 2016. This is not new. Americans refuse to face our own history. As a member of the Army's "Counter Intelligence Corp" during the early years of WWII my Dad was an undercover agent in both the "Black Dragon's" and the "Socialist Workers Party" where Soviets and Japanese were trying to weed away Black support from the war effort as a result of America's continuing racism. A brief by the US Attorney General in the 1954 Brown v Board of Education case specifically addressed the Soviets attempts to suppress Black support for the American system: Americans stubbornly and lazily refuse to learn basic American history. Most colleges refuse to teach it.

"The brief, submitted by Attorney General James P. McGranery, said, “The United States is trying to prove to the people of the world of every nationality, race, and color, that a free democracy is the most civilized and most secure form of government yet devised by man…. The existence of discrimination against minority groups in the United States has an adverse effect upon our relations with other countries. Racial discrimination furnishes grist for the Communist propaganda mills.” It also featured an excerpt from a letter by Secretary of State Dean Acheson, described as “an authoritative statement of the effects of racial discrimination in the United States upon the conduct of foreign relations.”
Brown v. Board of Ed: Key Cold War weapon

Russian propagandists targeted African Americans to influence 2016 US election | US news | The Guardian

Some of the Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the American political process during the 2016 election campaign.

"The new reports said that while it was well known that Russian trolls flooded social media with rightwing pro-Trump material, their subtler efforts to drive black voters to boycott the election or vote for a third-party candidate were under-appreciated.

One popular bogus Facebook account created by the Russians, Blacktivist, attracted 4.6 million “likes”. It told followers in the final weeks of the campaign that “no lives matter to Hillary Clinton”, that black people should vote for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and that “not voting is a way to exercise our rights”.

Some black Americans were even weaponised as unwitting “human assets” for the Russian campaign, according to the researchers, who said operatives in St Petersburg worked to recruit people in the US to attend rallies and hand out literature.

The Oxford researchers found black Americans were also targeted with more advertisements on Facebook and Instagram than any other group. More than 1,000 different advertisements were directed at Facebook users interested in African American issues, and reached almost 16 million people.

The material was intended to inflame anger about the skewed rates of poverty, incarceration and the use of force by police among black Americans to “divert their political energy away from established political institutions,” the report said, adding that similar content was pushed by the Russians on Twitter and YouTube.

The New Knowledge researchers agreed that the “most prolific IRA efforts” on Facebook and Instagram were aimed at black Americans in what they called an “immersive influence ecosystem” connecting many different pages posting information and reinforcing one another.

In addition to the online posts telling black people their votes would not matter or urging them to vote third-party, Russian operatives tricked people with “vote by text message” scams and tweets designed to create confusion about voting rules, according to New Knowledge.

New Knowledge said the social media propaganda campaign should be seen as the third front in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, together with the hack and theft of Democratic party emails that were passed to WikiLeaks, and the attempt to hack online voting systems across the US.

The Oxford researchers said the lack of human editors on platforms such as Facebook was enabling propagandists. “Obviously, democracies need to take computational propaganda seriously as a threat to their public life,” they said."

Russian propagandists targeted African Americans to influence 2016 US election | US news | The Guardian

‘They're a joke’: Rudy Giuliani steps up attack on Mueller

Opinion | Julián Castro and the Cordial Candidacy - The New York Times

"By Charles M. Blow, December 16th, 2018

I’m listening for something arresting, a vision and a vocabulary that will rally and inspire.

Julián Castro talking about the possibility of running for president in 2020, at his home in San Antonio this month.

Photo by: Eric Gay/Associated Press

Julián Castro really wants to be president.

That much was clear on Thursday when I sat down with him and his identical twin brother, Joaquín, for an interview over dinner in a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse.

Julián, a self-described progressive, is the former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the former mayor of San Antonio, who last week announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. Joaquín is a congressman in Texas who would be Julián’s campaign chairman.

When we begin the interview, Castro is careful with his answers nearly to the point of being cagey. You can see him doing the calculations in his head, trying not to overstate a position or appear too absolute on a topic that he has not fully considered.

Can a sitting president be indicted?

“Well, I think we’re going to find that out.” Later he adds, “I know what I hope. I hope we can bring anybody to justice.”

Do you believe that Trump should be indicted?

“I believe the walls are closing in on him.”

If you were president and prosecutors attempted to prosecute a then former President Trump, would you pardon him as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon?

“That is a tough decision. My inclination is to say no, that I would not, but I think some of that also depends on where we’re at as a country.”

But, as the dinner wears on, he loosens and his quickness to laugh emerges. He dispenses with the knife and fork he has been using to negotiate his roast chicken and, in a move that would have made Emily Post squirm but makes me smile, he hoists it with his hands. He is comfortable now, and this man I like: imperfect but not impertinent. Human. Relatable.

We discuss Castro’s rather standard Democratic stances on major issues: in favor of common-sense gun regulations, wants to roll back the Trump tax cut, and wants to take a multinational approach to the issues driving Trump’s tariffs. He’s in favor of universal pre-K, free public college across the board, and Medicare for all.

I’m listening for something enlightening, something arresting, a vision and a vocabulary that will rally and inspire. It never fully manifests. He talks of summoning a “common sense of purpose, of common national identity.” He chides Donald Trump’s divisiveness and churlishness. But somehow, it all flattens for me. I’m too familiar with the framing.

And yet, there is something genuine about Castro, a nice guy who made it. He’s not straining to impress, and that, in and of itself, is impressive.

Because Castro’s relative youth is so apparent in his appearance and comportment, it occurs to me that if elected, Castro, who is now 44, would become one of America’s youngest presidents. And this gives me pause. There is a young man’s ease and airiness about Castro, a disarming charm that arrests the attention because of its counterintuitiveness, but I struggle to imagine it in the Oval Office.

Thinking about the campaign, too, it is hard to imagine Castro in a bare-knuckled brawl with Trump and the Republicans.

For instance, how would he respond when confronted with what he told The New York Times Magazine in 2010? “Joaquín and I got into Stanford because of affirmative action,” Castro told the magazine. “I scored 1210 on my SATs, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquín. I’m a strong supporter of affirmative action because I’ve seen it work in my own life.”

Trump would have a field day with this.

It is important to note here that Castro is unlikely to be the only young candidate this cycle. Indeed, there may be a whole raft of hopefuls in their 40s, and even 30s, who throw their hats into the ring.

But youth has a way of making itself known, of peeking through the curtain of the mature persona one tries to craft.

Castro’s first task is to secure the nomination. One could see a scenario in which this Southern Hispanic would have particular advantages on the primary calendar, but it remains to be seen how an incredibly diverse party will respond to an incredibly diverse slate of candidates. Will people hew to tribalism and regionalism in their choices, or will those things be of little consequence in the end?

Castro has been talked about for years as a rising star in the Democratic Party, one who could someday become this country’s first Hispanic president.

One question for me is whether this is that moment for Julian, or if interest in him peaked before his opening appeared. There are now other stories and educational pedigrees just as compelling as Castro’s and they are attached to people with higher profiles, access to more donors and, quite frankly, more of a craven desire to rise to power.

This nice guy may not always finish last, but can he come close enough to the top in Iowa and New Hampshire to confirm his viability?"

Opinion | Julián Castro and the Cordial Candidacy - The New York Times

Sunday, December 16, 2018

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep - The Washington Post

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep - The Washington Post

The Debate Over Europe’s Stolen African Art | The Daily Show

Anger grows after death of Guatemalan migrant girl held in US | World news | The Guardian

Jakelin Caal Maquin, seven, died in Texas in the custody of US border officials last week.

"The family of the young Guatemalan girl who died in the custody of US border officials after crossing the border is disputing the American government’s claim that she had not had food or water for days beforehand.

Anger is growing over the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, seven, which emerged last week and immediately sparked uproar about harsh immigration and border policies being pursued by the Trump administration.
On Saturday, lawyers for the family released a statement insisting that the girl had been fed and hydrated and appeared to be in good health as she traveled through Mexico to the US southern border with her father, intending to seek asylum.
She had not been traveling through the desert for days, the family asserted, before being taken into custody by US officials along with many other migrants on 6 December. Jakeline died less than two days later, according to immigration officials."
Anger grows after death of Guatemalan migrant girl held in US | World news | The Guardian

It's a Wonderful Trump Cold Open - SNL

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Migrants wait at US border with numbers written on their arms | The Times of Israel. The American government is following Donald Trump's America First pro-Nazi policy. This is a violation of American and International Law. Why are the majority of Americans not protesting this inhumanity?

Wilson Romero, left, and Daniel Montes, both from Honduras, arrive at a bus terminal early  June 27, 2018, in El Paso, Texas (AP Photo/Matt York)

"Migrants waiting in Mexico to have their asylum claims processed at the US border are reportedly being given numbers, which are written on their arms with permanent marker.
The migrants were spotted with the numbers while waiting to be questioned by Grupos Beta, the humanitarian branch of Mexico’s federal immigration agency, Yahoo News reported Friday."
Migrants wait at US border with numbers written on their arms | The Times of Israel

Video shows border agents dumping water left for migrants. This is the type of American terrorism which leads to the death of a dehydrated child. This is pure evil.

Trump confirms Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will leave White House

Opinion | A Partisan Ruling on Obamacare - The New York Times

"After sitting on a ruling for months, a federal judge in Texas has given the Trump administration and a group of Republican-led states exactly what they asked for, and then some: the invalidation of the entire Affordable Care Act.

Don't panic. The ruling, issued late on Friday and only one day before the end of the law’s annual open enrollment period, is not a model of constitutional or statutory analysis. It’s instead a predictable exercise in motivated reasoning — drafted by a jurist with a history of ruling against policies and laws advanced by President Barack Obama.

The reason the judge, Reed O’Connor, gets these cases isn’t a mystery: Texas and its allied states know the game and shop these lawsuits right into Judge O’Connor’s courtroom.

Another thing that isn’t a mystery? The genesis of this latest attack on Obamacare. Disenchanted that a Republican-controlled federal government wouldn’t repeal every word of the law, Texas and a coalition of states tried a sleight of hand: They leaned on President Trump’s 2017 tax bill, known officially as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — which zeroed out the tax penalty of the health care law’s individual mandate — and argued that the mandate itself was unconstitutional.


That argument has a certain flair to it, but the states didn’t stop there. Their lawyers suggested that, because the individual mandate is a linchpin of the A.C.A. as a whole — in fact, the one thing that holds the law together — the law cannot stand without it. If the mandate falls, the logic went, the entire statute falls with it.

Shocking even conservative legal experts, the Trump administration fell for this spurious argument and lent its support to the Texas lawsuit — which, if successful, would render all of the marquee provisions of Obamacare, like protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, null.

This all-out assault on health care is one reason Democrats did so well in the midterm elections, as voters rejected anti-Obamacare candidates at the polls. They included several lawmakers who had gleefully voted for Mr. Trump’s tax bill less than a year earlier.

Except the tax bill did not invalidate the Affordable Care Act — it did away only with the penalty for not being insured. Congress left the rest of the law intact.

Instead of respecting that legislative choice, Judge O’Connor proceeded to find all the operative provisions of the A.C.A. “inseverable” from the hollowed-out individual mandate. The whole law must fall. He gave the Texas-led challengers precisely what they wanted.

This partisan, activist ruling cannot stand. If it’s not reversed by the conservative United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, then it’s off to the Supreme Court, where all five justices who, in 2012, already determined that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional will still be there.

One of them is Chief Justice John Roberts, who made a splash last month when he appeared to rebuke Mr. Trump’s criticism of judges who don’t rule as the president likes. The president this time around is rejoicing over Obamacare’s apparent demise — and is heaping praise on the “highly respected judge” who was itching to do Republicans’ bidding. (The White House, in a modicum of decency, has said the law will stay put as the appeal moves through the courts.)

But as Chief Justice Roberts said when he cast the decisive vote that upheld Obamacare, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” Here the American people, through their elected representatives, made their choice, both in 2010 and 2017: Obamacare is the law of the land. It will remain that way.

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Opinion | A Partisan Ruling on Obamacare - The New York Times

Friday, December 14, 2018

7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion - The Washington Post

"A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

The child’s death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States.
According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, N.M., as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in.
More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”
7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion - The Washington Post

Joaquin Castro Says Julián Castro Will Run For President

Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations - The New York Times

Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations - The New York Times

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Stephen Has A Prison Tip For Michael Cohen

National Enquirer publisher AMI strikes deal in Cohen probe

Opinion | ‘His Dirty Deeds’ - The New York Times

"By The Editorial Board,  December 12th, 2018

Michael Cohen said President Trump led him into darkness. The courts brought him into the light.

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.

Michael Cohen at the Federal Courthouse in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday.

Photo by: Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

There have been some dark days in America in recent months, days when its astonished citizens have had reason to wonder whether its institutions and even its ideals — the Congress, the electoral process, the notion that honesty matters — had become too brittle to withstand what could seem like relentless assault.

Wednesday was not one of those days.

A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, to three years in prison over what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord” of crimes, most important, paying hush money to two women who said they slept with his ex-boss. Those payments enabled Mr. Trump to conceal the accusations from voters in the closing weeks of the campaign. United States District Judge William Pauley said this violation of campaign finance laws created “insidious harm to our democratic institutions.” In so ruling, he demonstrated that those institutions have some life in them yet.

Mr. Trump has called the payments to the two women “a simple private transaction.” But prosecutors made clear that the payments were illegal campaign contributions because their purpose was to help win the election. This was reinforced shortly after Mr. Cohen’s sentencing, when federal prosecutors disclosed that, in a deal to avoid prosecution, the publisher of The National Enquirer admitted that, to help elect Mr. Trump president, and with his cooperation, it had paid $150,000 to buy the silence of one of the women, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she’d had a 10-month affair with Mr. Trump.

With prosecutors already having said in their sentencing memo for Mr. Cohen that “he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1" — that’s President Individual-1 to you — this is even more evidence they believe Mr. Trump conspired to commit a felony.

In pleading for mercy, Mr. Cohen told the judge a sad tale of a starry-eyed man led astray by “a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

“Time and time again,” he said of his ex-employer, “I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.”

Lest a tear come to your eye, let’s be clear that Mr. Cohen’s “path of darkness” began with a sleazy legal practice years before meeting Mr. Trump. Prosecutors have made a persuasive case that the moral compass of Mr. Cohen, who also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bank fraud, didn’t locate true north until he was caught and his home, office and hotel room were raided by the F.B.I.

Mr. Cohen, once just an example of one kind of person Mr. Trump draws close to him, is now also a case study in where that association can leave them.

It started out so hopefully. “He’s a very smart person,” Mr. Trump told The New York Post in 2007, after Mr. Cohen began buying units in Trump buildings. That was around the time, according to prosecutors, Mr. Cohen got a condo board ousted after its members tried to take the Trump name off a building in which he lived. Soon Mr. Cohen, who had been earning about $75,000 a year, became the $500,000-a-year executive vice president and general counsel of the Trump Organization.

It was an interesting time for Mr. Trump, and perhaps for the Russia investigation. By then Mr. Trump was being shunned by virtually all American banks that did not have his daughter on the board of directors. The Washington Post said almost all his deals after that time were in cash. And around then, there were more deals with shady Russian characters, with Donald Trump Jr. saying that money was “pouring in from Russia.”

In 2015, while Mr. Trump was running for president, he had Mr. Cohen reach out to see if President Vladimir Putin of Russia could help seal a Moscow real estate deal that could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the special counsel’s office.

Meanwhile, in the presidential campaign, Mr. Cohen continued showing the boss what a tough guy he could be, playing attack dog on TV and with the media.

When reporters asked him about a claim years ago by Mr. Trump’s first wife that Mr. Trump had tried to rape her, he warned them off, gangland style. Tread lightly, Mr. Cohen said, “because what I'm going to do to you is going to be … disgusting.”

Then, before Mr. Cohen could truly savor his boss’s electoral victory, it all came crashing down.

Mr. Cohen also faced repercussions for his lies to Congress about his role in the Moscow deal, to which he also pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Wednesday to a two-month term concurrent with that for the other charges.

He has extensively cooperated with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. American justice and rule of law have recalled Michael Cohen to the path of light, and it was a fine thing, on Wednesday, to witness their resilience, and be reminded of their majesty."

Opinion | ‘His Dirty Deeds’ - The New York Times

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Integration of NYC Schools Part III, A Personal Narrative

‘Appalling’ Video Shows the Police Yanking 1-Year-Old From His Mother’s Arms - The New York Times

‘Appalling’ Video Shows the Police Yanking 1-Year-Old From His Mother’s Arms - The New York Times

Nancy And Chuck Are: Democrats On The Offensive

Opinion | Surviving a Criminal Presidency - The New York Times

"No one is above the law in America.

Charles Blow Opinion Columnist

President Donald Trump arrives at Kansas City, Mo., on Friday to deliver remarks at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference.

Photo by: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

It is very possible that the president of the United States is a criminal. And it is very possible that his criminality aided and abetted his assumption of the position. Let that sink in. It is a profound revelation.

Last week, prosecutors made clear in a sentencing memo for Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump himself had directed Cohen to break campaign finance laws.

Stop there.

Yes, there is still information dribbling out about Trump’s efforts to build a tower in Moscow during the election and about his campaign’s ties with Russians during the campaign. Yes, there is the question of obstruction of justice, which I believe has already been proven by Trump’s own actions in public. Yes, there are all the people in Trump’s circle who have been charged with or have admitted to lying about any number of things, including their contacts with Russians.

But beyond all that, we now have an actual, and one assumes provable, crime. A federal crime. And the president is its architect.

Trump likes to say on the issue of immigration that if we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. I say that if we don’t have justice, we also don’t have a country.

America is a country of laws, and if we are to believe that, and not allow that to become a perversion, no man or woman can be above the law.

As Thomas Paine wrote in his 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense”:

“In America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

And yet, Trump, his team and to some degree his supporters in Congress seem to view Trump as very much above the law — or at least some laws. The defense is bizarre: Since he is the president, there are laws he isn’t obliged to obey. In other words, it is permissible for him to break some laws, but not others.

Last year, one of the president’s lawyers went even further, claiming that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

This all holds the potential to further make a mockery of a system of justice that already privileges power.

America’s jails are already filled to the brim with people who have been charged with a crime but not yet convicted of one. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, “70 percent of people in local jails are not convicted of any crime.” Their primary infraction is that they are poor and powerless. The justice system doesn’t coddle them; it crushes them.

And yet, people keep making excuses for Trump: “We haven’t yet seen evidence of collusion.” “Yes, he lies, but that’s mostly rhetoric.” “So what; he paid off a porn star to spare his family shame.”

No, no, no.

According to prosecutors, Trump directed Cohen to commit a felony. Then he lied about it and either allowed or instructed others to lie about it on his behalf. He misled the American people through a conspiracy of lies, and he did so to help attain, and then maintain, his presidency.

As The New York Times pointed out on Saturday, prosecutors have “effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.”

There simply must be consequences for such a brazen act of lawlessness.

Now, I am under no illusion that Trump will be indicted as a sitting president or that any efforts to impeach him will prove successful.

But at some point his term will end, and at that point the statute of limitations may not have expired. As The Times put it, “The prosecutors in New York have examined the statute of limitations on the campaign finance violations and believe charges could be brought against Mr. Trump if he is not re-elected, according to a person briefed on the matter.”

As New York magazine put it in a headline, “Trump 2020 Shaping Up to Be a Campaign to Stay Out of Prison.”

The statute of limitations for campaign finance violations is five years. Re-election may well be Trump’s only hope of evading justice.

But that also gives voters enormous power in 2020. They won’t just be selecting the next president and determining the direction of the country. They may also be deciding whether or not a president will be tried, convicted and imprisoned for the first time in the country’s history.

This is a weighty responsibility, but it is a necessary one. We have to prove that our institutions are more important than our ideologies, that the dream, the whisper, the precious possibility of America cannot be trampled by the corrupt and the fraudulent, the venal and the lecherous.

America has to prove that it can indeed survive a criminal presidency."

Opinion | Surviving a Criminal Presidency - The New York Times

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Trump clashes with Pelosi, Schumer in Oval Office

It’s not just the number of Trump-Russia contacts. It’s the timing. - The Washington Post

It’s not just the number of Trump-Russia contacts. It’s the timing. - The Washington Post

Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants.

Environmentalists say the proposal represents a historic assault on wetlands regulation at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The proposed new rule would chip away at safeguards put in place a quarter century ago, during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, who implemented a policy designed to ensure that no wetlands lost federal protection.

“They’re definitely rolling things back to the pre-George H.W. Bush era,” said Blan Holman, who works on water regulations with the Southern Environmental Law Center. Wetlands play key roles in filtering surface water and protecting against floods, while also providing wildlife habitat.

President Trump, who made a pledge of weakening a 2015 Obama-era rule one of his central campaign pledges, is expected to tout his plan as ending a federal land grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit."

Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections - The New York Times

Opinion | The Presidency or Prison - The New York Times

"Donald Trump — or, as he’s known to federal prosecutors, Individual-1 — might well be a criminal. That’s no longer just my opinion, or that of Democratic activists. It is the finding of Trump’s own Justice Department.

On Friday, federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York filed a sentencing memorandum for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who is definitely a criminal. The prosecutors argued that, in arranging payoffs to two women who said they’d had affairs with Trump, Cohen broke campaign finance laws, and in the process “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”

The filing emphasized the way Cohen’s actions subverted democracy. “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” prosecutors wrote. And he didn’t act alone, but “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.” In other words, lawyers from the Justice Department have concluded that Trump may have committed a felony that went to the heart of the process that put him in office.

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Trump’s potential criminality in this case, which raises questions about his legitimacy as president, creates a dilemma for Democrats. Assuming prosecutors are right about Trump’s conduct, it certainly seems impeachable; a situation in which a candidate cheats his way into the presidency is one the founders foresaw when they were designing the impeachment process. As George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention, “Shall the man who has practiced corruption, and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment by repeating his guilt?”

But in our current moment, removing the president through impeachment is essentially impossible, given that at least 20 Senate Republicans would have to join Democrats. Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who will soon lead the House Judiciary Committee, told me he wouldn’t consider impeachment proceedings without at least some Republican support. There is certainly no appetite among congressional Democrats to pursue impeachment over a campaign finance case, particularly while the special counsel investigation into Russian collusion chugs on..."

Opinion | The Presidency or Prison - The New York Times

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Carl Bernstein: This could make the world tremble

Nadler: Trump payments likely impeachable

School Segregation in 2018

Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean? - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — The latest revelations by prosecutors investigating President Trump and his team draw a portrait of a candidate who personally directed an illegal scheme to manipulate the 2016 election and whose advisers had more contact with Russia than Mr. Trump has ever acknowledged.

In the narrative that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and New York prosecutors are building, Mr. Trump continued to secretly seek to do business in Russia deep into his presidential campaign even as Russian agents made more efforts to influence him. At the same time, in this account he ordered hush payments to two women to suppress stories of impropriety in violation of campaign finance law.

The prosecutors made clear in a sentencing memo filed on Friday that they viewed efforts by Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to squelch the stories as nothing less than a perversion of a democratic election — and by extension they effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump dismissed the filings, and his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, minimized the importance of any potential campaign finance violations. Democrats, however, said they could lead to impeachment.

In the memo in the case of Mr. Cohen, prosecutors from the Southern District of New York depicted Mr. Trump, identified only as “Individual-1,” as an accomplice in the hush payments. While Mr. Trump was not charged, the reference echoed Watergate, when President Richard M. Nixon was named an unindicted co-conspirator by a grand jury investigating the cover-up of the break-in at the Democratic headquarters.

“While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” the prosecutors wrote.

“He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1,” they continued. “In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”

The exposure on campaign finance laws poses a challenge to Mr. Trump’s legal team, which before now has focused mainly on rebutting allegations of collusion and obstruction while trying to call into question Mr. Mueller’s credibility.

“Until now, you had two different charges, allegations, whatever you want to call them,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Saturday. “One was collusion with the Russians. One was obstruction of justice and all that entails. And now you have a third — that the president was at the center of a massive fraud against the American people.”

The episode recalled a criminal case brought against former Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, who while running for president in 2008 sought to cover up an extramarital affair that resulted in pregnancy. He was charged with violating campaign finance laws stemming from money used to hide his pregnant lover, but a trial ended in 2012 with an acquittal on one charge and a mistrial on five others.

Mr. Giuliani pointed to that outcome on Saturday to argue that the president should not be similarly charged.

“The President is not implicated in campaign finance violations because based on Edwards case and others the payments are not campaign contributions,” Mr. Giuliani wrote on Twitter. “No responsible prosecutor would premise a criminal case on a questionable interpretation of the law.”

But Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty under that interpretation of the law, and even if Mr. Trump cannot be charged while in office, the House could still investigate or even seek to impeach him. The framers of the Constitution specifically envisioned impeachment as a remedy for removing a president who obtained office through corrupt means, and legal scholars have long concluded that the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” does not necessarily require a statutory crime.

If the campaign finance case as laid out by prosecutors is true, Mr. Nadler said, Mr. Trump would be likely to meet the criteria for an impeachable offense, and he said he would instruct his committee to investigate when he takes over in January.

But he added that did not necessarily mean that the committee should vote to impeach Mr. Trump. “Is it serious enough to justify impeachment?” he asked. “That is another question.”

The strategy of Mr. Trump’s lawyers has been predicated on the assurance by senior Justice Department officials that if Mr. Mueller found evidence that the president broke the law, he would not be indicted while in office. But the hush money investigation is being led by a separate office of prosecutors in New York, and far less time has been spent publicly or privately trying to protect Mr. Trump from that inquiry.

And while the prevailing view at the Justice Department is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, that does not mean a president cannot be charged after leaving office. The prosecutors in New York have examined the statute of limitations on the campaign finance violations and believe charges could be brought against Mr. Trump if he is not re-elected, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers view that as unlikely if it is based solely on the current charges.

At the White House on Friday evening, staff members gathered for a holiday dinner with Mr. Trump and the first lady as if nothing were wrong. Mr. Trump’s advisers have told him that the latest filings do not present a danger to him legally, although they cautioned him that the political risks were hard to calculate, according to people familiar with the discussions.

One adviser said the president’s team had concluded that Mr. Trump was not likely to face a threat from prosecution in the New York case because if Mr. Cohen had more to deliver, then prosecutors would not be bringing him to court for sentencing in the coming week or requesting substantial prison time. Another adviser said that the Cohen threat appeared to be over.

For public consumption, at least, Mr. Trump and his Republican allies chose to focus on the Russia matter on Saturday, arguing again that no wrongdoing had been proved.

“On the Mueller situation, we’re very happy with what we are reading because there was no collusion whatsoever,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “The last thing I want is help from Russia on a campaign. You should ask Hillary Clinton about Russia.”

American intelligence agencies have said the Russians were in fact trying to aid Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who will be the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the new Congress, which begins next month, said he saw no reason conservatives should walk away from Mr. Trump given his record of policy achievements and questions about the impartiality of the president’s investigators.

“I always come back to the facts,” he said in an interview. “To date, not one bit of evidence of any type of coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election.”

If prosecutors have conclusive evidence of conspiracy, they have not shown their hand. But the filings in recent days made clear that while Mr. Trump repeatedly insisted he had no business dealings in Russia, it was not without trying.

Mr. Trump’s business was pursuing a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow until June 2016, while Mr. Trump was locking up the Republican nomination and long after Mr. Cohen had previously said the project was dropped.

At the same time, Mr. Cohen, starting in November 2015, was in contact with a well-connected Russian who proposed “synergy on a government level” with the Trump campaign and proposed a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The Russian said such a meeting could grease the way for the tower, telling Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than consent” by Mr. Putin.

In his own court memo, Mr. Mueller said that Mr. Cohen’s false account that the deal had collapsed in January 2016 was designed “in hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election — an issue of heightened national interest.”

The president’s lawyers have been deeply concerned that Mr. Trump could be portrayed as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents. As he was preparing to submit written responses to questions from Mr. Mueller last month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers learned about language the special counsel wanted to include in a plea agreement with a conservative conspiracy theorist, who was under investigation for his links to WikiLeaks, which released Democratic emails that intelligence agencies said were stolen by Russian agents.

The document said that the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, understood that one of Mr. Trump’s associates, Roger J. Stone Jr., was “in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump,” when Mr. Stone asked Mr. Corsi to find out from the head of WikiLeaks what he had in store for the Clinton campaign.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers feared that Mr. Mueller was trying to cast Mr. Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. Mr. Trump’s lawyers held off sending the answers and demanded a meeting with Justice Department officials and Mr. Mueller’s team, according to one person close to the president.

In a meeting at the Justice Department that was presided over by the principal associate deputy attorney general, Ed O’Callaghan, Mr. Trump’s lawyers — including Mr. Giuliani and Jay Sekulow — expressed concern to Mr. Mueller’s team. It was unclear what Mr. Mueller’s team said in response, but shortly thereafter Mr. Trump sent in his answers.

Mr. Corsi has declined to accept a plea deal and has not been charged with a crime.

Although Mr. Trump asserted on Saturday that he was “happy” with the latest filings, others did not agree. The Cohen information alone “puts impeachment on the table, and I can’t help but think that that is what this is barreling toward,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican strategist who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “Any other presidency at this point would have been done when their own Department of Justice filed something like that.”

But while the House can impeach a president on a majority vote, conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, meaning that unless at least 20 Republican senators abandon Mr. Trump, he is safe from removal. Despite the losses in the House last month, Republicans, if anything, have moved closer to the president.

While liberals are pressing Democrats to move on impeachment, party leaders remain wary, fearing a backlash. Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said the standard set during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying under oath certainly puts Mr. Trump “in impeachment territory” because of the campaign finance issue.

“On the other hand,” he added, “in the compendium of Donald Trump’s offenses against the rule of law and the Constitution, this may not be in the top five.”

Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters. But What Does It Mean? - The New York Times

Undocumented staff claim Trump golf club hired them

Rex Tillerson opens up on Trump and his firing: "We did not have a commo...

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Opinion | What Happens If ...

"The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow Opinion Columnist

The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is still investigating the alleged connections between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016.

Photo by: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed and absolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain."

Opinion | What Happens If ...

Monday, December 03, 2018

America Media Stop Lying. George Bush Opposed Civil Rights His Whole Career

I can't watch TV news. It is disgusting to see these reporters lie about George HW Bush who openly and repeatedly opposed racial integration from the 1964 Civil Rights Acts which ended legal segregation in accommodations in America, the 1990 Civil Rights Act and aid for people with aids. This was a low down evil man. We always hear that we should not talk badly about the dead. OK, George HW Bush is dead, good.

George Bush Sr. on Civil Rights

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


1998: gay status of personal aide "doesn't matter to us"

For the first 4 years after leaving the White House, my father's personal aide, Michael Dannenhauer, went just about everywhere with Dad. They had developed a very close relationship, but all that time Michael also lived with a deeply held fear. "All those years I always wondered if the president assumed I was gay," Michael said. "In 1998, in the back of my mind I wondered if he would want me to be his chief of staff if he knew I was gay."
Michael confided in Jean Becker, Dad's chief of staff who was taking time off to help Dad write "All the Best." In December 1998, Michael was in Dad's office. "Now, don't be mad at Jean," Dad started the conversation. "Don't be mad at Jean, because I asked her. I asked her if you are gay."
Caught totally off guard, Michael sat down and was unable to look at Dad. "I want you to know I don't care," Dad continued. "Barbara and I love you. You are a part of our family, and it doesn't matter to us that you're gay. I am not embarrassed of you and never will be."
Source: My Father, My President, by Doro Koch Bush, p.467-468 , Oct 6, 2006

1980: Supported Equal Rights Amendment, but not as V.P.

[In the 1980 GOP primary], the press forced George to clarify his positions, most of which contrasted sharply with Ronald Reagan's. Bush said he favored an Equal Rights Amendment, and he opposed an amendment that would overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion. He also opposed licensing and registering firearms.
[After his nomination as Reagan's V.P.], George berated the press for asking about his past differences with Reagan. "I'm not going to be nickeled and dimed to death about that sort of thing," he said heatedly. To underscore the point, he dropped his support of the Equal Rights Amendment, vehemently changed his position on abortion, modified his stance on school busing, and proclaimed himself in favor of school prayer, all of which proved he was a man witth he sould of a Vice President.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.366&373 , Sep 20, 2004

1964: Advocated states' rights over Civil Rights Act

When Pres. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, George wrapped himself in the mantle of states' rights, which was conservative code for no federal intervention on racial matters. "The new civil rights act was passed to protect 14% of the people," George said. "I'm also worried about the other 86%."
To some, Bush's opposition to the civil rights bill put him in league with segregationists. Like them, George would "hate to see" the Constitution "trampled on in the process of trying to solve Civil Rights problems."
He later expressed regret at running so far to the right in 1964, yet he ran against civil rights again in 1966, and when he did vote for open housing in 1968, he seemed to do so in spite of himself--because black GIs expected it, not because it was the right thing to do.
He wrote in 1968, "I'll vote for the bill on final passage--have political misgivings--also constitutional--it won't solve much. But in my heart I know you're right on the symbolism of open housing."
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.214-7 & 242 , Sep 14, 2004

1990: Signed Americans with Disabilities Act

Dr. John Walker, the brother of George's mother, Dorothy, had joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 1952 as a clinical assistant in surgery. He was struck with polio in 1950 and lost most of the use of his limbs, eventually becoming bound to a wheelchair.
In addition to his own handicap, Dr. Walker had 2 daughters born with Down Syndrome. His most important influence on George was giving him sensitivity to the needs of the disabled that he might not otherwise have developed. For most of his life George remained insensitive to the imperative of racial justice and had a consistently less than admirable record on civil rights. He did, however, become a champion for the disabled. His admiration for his uncle, who had been crippled at the height of his career, led George to his finest hour as President: on July 26, 1990, he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, only 3 weeks before his Uncle John, then 81, died of complications from an aneurysm.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.129-130 , Sep 14, 2004

1959 home carried a restrictive racial covenant

Moving from Midland to Houston in the summer of 1959 required logistical planning by the Bushes because they were transporting a business, building a house, and expecting a baby.
The Bushes' new home at 5525 Briar Drive in the Broad Oaks housing development of Houston was built to their specifications on 1.2 acres and, although legally unenforceable, carried a restrictive racial covenant that stated: "No part of the property in the said Addition shall ever be sold, leased, or rented to, or occupied by any person other than of the Caucasian race, except in the servants' quarters."
These restrictive covenants, attached to both the properties that the Bushes bought and sold between 1955 and 1966, were common in Texas, although ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court in 1948. As late as 1986, the Justice Department had to force the county clerk in Houston to include a disclaimer on every certified real-estate record that such racial covenants were "invalid and unenforceable under Federal Law."
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.193 , Sep 14, 2004

1963: Civil Rights Bill violates constitutional rights

In June 1963, the President sent to Congress the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country's history. To demonstrate a mandate for the legislation, Martin Luther King led 250,000 people to Washington that summer with the incandescent rhetoric of his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Campaigning in Texas, George Bush ignored King and vigorously opposed Pres. Kennedy and his civil rights bill at every turn. "I am against the Civil Rights bill on the grounds that it transcends civil rights and violates the constitutional rights of all the people," Bush said. "Job opportunity, education and fair play will help alleviate inequities. Sweeping federal legislation will fail. I am opposed to the public accommodation section. I still favor the problem being handled by moral persuasion at the local level."
Determined to campaign in each of Texas's 247 counties, George inveighed against the civil rights bill at every stop. "I think most Texans share my opposition to this legislation," Bush said.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.211 , Sep 14, 2004

1983: Debated Geraldine Ferraro; "We kicked a little ass"

Geraldine Ferraro, a former congresswoman from NYC, had been chosen as the first woman to run for national office on a major-party ticket. Her selection by Walter Mondale as his running mate had galvanized many women. [There was] enormous pressure on Ferraro, who had to surmount the bigotry and sexism her candidacy unleashed, particularly among men in the media.
The night of the VP debate, Oct. 11, 1983, Ferraro presented herself as informed and lucid. When attacked, she kept her temper but responded firmly, even sardonically. At one point during the debate Ferraro chided Bush for lecturing her. "Let me just say, .that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy."
The day after the debate the Vice President referred to the previous evening's debate: "I tried to kick a little ass." Hours later his staff showed up on the press plane wearing buttons that said, "We kicked a little ass."
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.388-390 , Sep 14, 2004

No professional women on Bush staff, nor in Bush family

The day after the [1983 VP debate with Geraldine Ferraro] the Vice President referred to the previous evening: "I tried to kick a little ass." Hours later his staff showed up on the press plane wearing buttons that said, "We kicked a little ass."
The Bushes didn't understand how offensive it was to women. "When the debate was over, the women in the press corps stood up and cheered Ferraro," recalled Jeb Bush. Female journalists resented Bush's chauvinistic treatment of Ferraro, which showed them something they had not seen before: his discomfort in accepting women as peers. They started to notice that there were no professional women on Bush's staff who held positions comparable to the men. "All the women were either secretaries or gofer," recalled one woman journalist.
Women reporters also observed there were no women in the Bush family who pursued a career or even held a professional job. As Barbara Bush told reporters: "We're all very happy being kept by our husbands."
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.389-391 , Sep 14, 2004

1990: vetoed Civil Rights Act & voter registration bill

Ralph Neas, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, felt the sting of Bush's retaliation after the President vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, which was intended to prohibit discrimination in employment. "I was very critical of the President for that veto and for calling the bill a quota bill simply to pander to the right wing," said Neas. "I said he was acting beneath the dignity of his office."
Despite Bush's rhetoric about voter outreach, he had vetoed passage of a voter-registration program that could have added millions of minority voters to the election rolls, and now he had vetoed a civil rights act passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. "The White House is declaring open war on civil rights," said Neas.
The President became so angry at Neas that he momentarily forgot his name and startled reporters by blasting him as "that.that white guy who attacked me on this quota bill." Neas was barred from all future bill signings.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.478-479 , Sep 14, 2004

Signed 1991 Voting Rights Act after 1990 veto

The president had already vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990, claiming it was a "quota bill." Determined not to veto any more civil rights legislation, the President directed his White House counsel to work with the Senate and House Democrats to reach a bipartisan agreement on the 1991 Civil Rights Act.
After a bitter and anguished struggle, a compromise was finally reached, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 was sent to the President's desk for his signature. On the eve of the bill signing, Boyden Gray again emerged as the hangman. He circulated a presidential order to all federal agencies directing them to comply with provisions that would end a quarter century's worth of affirmative action and hiring guidelines benefiting women and minorities.
The President signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 on November 21, 1991, in a Rose Garden ceremony that was overshadowed by the intent of Boyden Gray's presidential directive.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.515-517 , Sep 14, 2004

Legislation is not enough to eliminate discrimination

If we seek--and I believe that every one of us does--to build a new era of harmony and shared purpose, we must make it possible for all Americans to scale the ladder of opportunity. If we seek to ease racial tensions in America, civil rights legislation is, by itself, not enough. The elimination of discrimination in the workplace is a vital element of the American Dream, but it is simply not enough.
(Remarks on signing the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Rose Garden.)
Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p.171-172 , Nov 21, 1991

Civil Rights Act: ban discrimination without quotas

I wrote this note to Senator Jack Danforth, when we could not agree on a civil rights bill.
Dear Jack,
...Needless to say we don’t feel we are “turning back the clock on civil rights.” Indeed I have stated that I want to sign a civil rights bill. I’ve also said that it is important that we get a bill, and rather than haggle over what some have called tiny differences, why not take a gigantic step forward by going with a bill where we have total agreement, leaving a handful of the knotty unresolved questions to later on.
Isn’t it more important to take a 90% step forward than to take no step at all? Anyway, let’s keep plugging away not letting the extremes on either side of this debate carry the day.
I signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 on November 21. It did not include quotas. It did promote the goals of ridding the workplace of discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, and disability.
Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.531-532 , Aug 6, 1991

ADA is first declaration of equality for disabled people

Author's note: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 President Bush would later call "really the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality" for disabled people.
"Together we must remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers we have accepted. For ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper."
(Remarks on signing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, White House South Lawn.)
Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p. 95-96 , Jul 26, 1990

Avoiding censorship more important than defunding NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) were under fire for underwriting an art exhibit that featured a controversial painting of Jesus.
Diary entry March 28th:
Take the NEA for example. When I see Jesus Christ shooting up heroin or floating on a bottle of urine, I figure that there ought not to be one dime of federal funds going into this. And then you think of the alternative that comes to mind-federal censorship-and you worry, “Where will this lead?”
Source: All the Best, p. 466: Diary entry and later notes , Mar 28, 1990

Called for Constitutional Amendment against flag burning

Much to my disappointment, the Supreme Court had just ruled 5-4 that the Constitution did not protect the flag from being burned. Justice Scalia was in the majority opinion. His wife feared I might be holding it against him, which of course I did not. However, I did immediately call for a constitutional amendment banning flag burning.
Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.432 , Jun 28, 1989

Supports school prayer, like Pledge of Allegiance

I think you’re wrong on prayer in schools. It is not just ideologues who want the voluntary prayer in school. Believe me, it is much deeper that that. And then there’s the Pledge of Allegiance. It feels good to go to some Rotary meetings in Iowa and say the Pledge-it really does-especially that part “one nation under God.” It’s all winners and no losers. I have a funny feeling it keeps us a little more together. Is it okay to say the Pledge in schools but not to have voluntary prayers?
Until the Religious Right got involved because of their concerns on drugs, decline in family, shifting views on homosexuals or divorce, no one gave much of a damn. We might not have agreed with the more liberal activists when they were up in arms, but we said okay, let them do their thing.

Allegations of G.O.P. Election Fraud Shake North Carolina’s Ninth District | The New Yorker

Allegations of G.O.P. Election Fraud Shake North Carolina’s Ninth District | The New Yorker

Will Anger About Voter Suppression Drive Turnout in the Georgia Runoff for Secretary of State? | The New Yorker

"During the high-profile race for governor of Georgia—which the Republican Brian Kemp won, beating the Democrat Stacey Abrams by around fifty-five thousand votes—another political office came under an unusual amount of scrutiny: secretary of state. That was Kemp’s job, until shortly after he declared victory in the governor’s race, when he stepped down from the position. In Georgia, the secretary of state is responsible for overseeing elections, and Kemp provoked outrage with his refusal to resign from the post while running for another office. He was also accused of suppressing the vote, by purging the rolls of more than three hundred thousand voters, and of undermining confidence in the result by allowing the use of a “dated, vulnerable voting system that provides no independent paper audit trail,” as a civil lawsuit filed in September, and naming Kemp as a defendant, put it. When Kemp finally stepped down after the election, the state’s outgoing governor, the Republican Nathan Deal, appointed an interim secretary of state, Robyn Crittenden; she is also a defendant in a lawsuit, filed last Friday, that seeks a new election for lieutenant governor on account of a “large number of missing votes and other significant election irregularities.”

As it happens, that election, in November, did not decide upon Kemp’s replacement: the race for the next secretary of state, between the Democrat John Barrow and the Republican Brad Raffensperger, a state representative, went to a runoff, because Raffensperger, who earned less than one percentage point more of the vote than Barrow, did not reach the fifty-per-cent-plus-one-vote threshold required to settle elections in Georgia. On Tuesday, when the runoff election will be held, the many people who were furious about the way Kemp fulfilled his duties have the chance to pick someone who might perform the task better. The question, though, is how many of them will show up.

“I think people aren’t as much interested in this race,” Adrian Durden, a fifty-nine-year-old electrician who is currently unemployed and who has voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past, told me. Durden, who is African American, lives in southeast Atlanta. “I don’t even know the people who are running,” he said. Turnout for the runoff is unlikely to resemble the historic levels seen in the governor’s race, in which nearly four million Georgians voted. An organizer for the New Georgia Project, a voter-mobilization group that Abrams once directed, told the Washington Post that she had to let go of her canvassers in suburban Atlanta because she did not have enough funding. At a planned televised debate recently, Raffensperger was a no-show—the Republican attended a fundraiser in rural Georgia instead—leaving Barrow “debating against an empty podium,” as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution put it.

Still, Durden said, he would be voting—“straight Democrat.” He added, “I just want to vote against the party in office now. It wasn’t a fair election.” Seni Alabi-Isama, a forty-year-old restaurateur in Statesboro, in the middle of the state, agreed. “It’s clear that something needs to be done with how voting is handled in Georgia,” he said. Alabi-Isama, who is also African-American, said he, too, planned to vote for Barrow, though he didn’t express unchecked enthusiasm for the candidate. “Barrow might not yield the result we want,” he said. “But it’s the only option we have to vote against the party that sustains the current system.”

Barrow, who is white, strikes a decidedly moderate tone—for one thing, he, like Raffensperger, and in contrast to Stacey Abrams, is in favor of current voter-identification laws. He has largely staked his chances on pushing for a transition to paper ballots, which many deem a safer as well as cheaper alternative to the machines that Georgia currently uses. Raffensperger, meanwhile, has defended the use of electronic voting machines as well as Kemp’s culling of voter rolls.

Marilyn Marks is the executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a nonpartisan nonprofit which filed Friday’s lawsuit against Georgia’s interim secretary of state. “Barrow is clearly committed to the universal recommendation of cybersecurity and computer-science experts,” she told me over e-mail, citing his support for “hand-marked paper ballots, counted by machines and audited for accuracy.” Raffensperger, on the other hand, “has fallen for the vendor-promoted next generation of un-auditable high-risk touchscreen voting machines that turn votes into barcodes, with little improvement over the current machines that plague Georgia’s elections,” she wrote.

On Saturday afternoon, on a conference call with journalists, Abrams talked up Barrow, too, as well as the Democrat in a runoff for Georgia’s next public service commissioner. Of Barrow, she said, “He understands that rampant voter suppression on Election Day and during early vote disincentivized voters.” Abrams mentioned issues that her new political-action group, Fair Fight Action, seeks to address with a federal lawsuit alleging gross mismanagement of the recent election, including long lines, registration-database issues and missing absentee ballots disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities. “While we’ve been able to use the court systems to force some of these changes, we need a leader who will do these voluntarily,” she said.

Everlean Burston, a fifty-nine-year-old house cleaner in Decatur, Georgia, near Atlanta, voted for Abrams last month, in what she called the second most disappointing election of her life after the 2016 election. She told me that a lot of people weren’t able to vote—especially in black neighborhoods like the one she grew up in—“because of the lack of machines and messed-up machines.” She went on, “I’m frustrated about what happened. It’s like a cycle. A never-ending cycle, a merry-go-round. It keeps spinning, but there’s no results for the people who are really, really in trouble.” She sighed. She’ll be voting on Tuesday, she said. “I’ll vote Democrat. Something has got to be better than what it is now.”

Will Anger About Voter Suppression Drive Turnout in the Georgia Runoff for Secretary of State? | The New Yorker