Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Friday, November 29, 2019

How Kamala Harris’s Campaign Unraveled - The New York Times

Senator Kamala Harris’s abundant political skills convinced many Democrats that she had the potential to take on President Trump. 

This has been obvious since the night of her second debate with her horrible performance.

"Ms. Harris is the only 2020 Democrat who has fallen hard out of the top tier of candidates. She has proved to be an uneven campaigner who changes her message and tactics to little effect and has a staff torn into factions.

WASHINGTON — In early November, a few days after Senator Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign announced widespread layoffs and an intensified focus on Iowa, her senior aides gathered for a staff meeting at their Baltimore headquarters and pelted the campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, with questions.

What exactly was Ms. Harris’s new strategy? How much money and manpower could they put into Iowa? What would their presence be like in other early voting states?

Mr. Rodriguez offered general, tentative answers that didn’t satisfy the room, according to two campaign officials directly familiar with the conversation. Some Harris aides sitting at the table could barely suppress their fury about what they saw as the undoing of a once-promising campaign. Their feelings were reflected days later by Kelly Mehlenbacher, the state operations director, in a blistering resignation letter obtained by The Times.

“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” Ms. Mehlenbacher wrote, assailing Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Harris’s sister, Maya, the campaign chairwoman, for laying off aides with no notice. “With less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win.”

The 2020 Democratic field has been defined by its turbulence, with some contenders rising, others dropping out and two more jumping in just this month. Yet there is only one candidate who rocketed to the top tier and then plummeted in early state polls to the low single digits: Ms. Harris.

From those polling results to Ms. Harris’s campaign operation, fund-raising and debate performances, it has been a remarkable comedown for a senator from the country’s largest state, a politician with star power who was compared to President Obama even before Californians elected her to the Senate in 2016.

Yet, even to some Harris allies, her decline is more predictable than surprising. In one instance after another, Ms. Harris and her closest advisers made flawed decisions about which states to focus on, issues to emphasize and opponents to target, all the while refusing to make difficult personnel choices to impose order on an unwieldy campaign, according to more than 50 current and former campaign staff members and allies, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations and assessments involving the candidate.

Many of her own advisers are now pointing a finger directly at Ms. Harris. In interviews several of them criticized her for going on the offensive against rivals, only to retreat, and for not firmly choosing a side in the party’s ideological feud between liberals and moderates. She also created an organization with a campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, who goes unchallenged in part because she is Ms. Harris’s sister, and a manager, Mr. Rodriguez, who could not be replaced without likely triggering the resignations of the candidate’s consulting team. Even at this late date, aides said it’s unclear who’s in charge of the campaign.

With just over two months until the Iowa caucuses, her staff is now riven between competing factions eager to belittle one another, and the candidate’s relationship with Mr. Rodriguez has turned frosty, according to multiple Democrats close to Ms. Harris. Several aides, including Jalisa Washington-Price, the state director in crucial South Carolina, have already had conversations about post-campaign jobs.

Representative Marcia Fudge, who has endorsed Ms. Harris and is a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in an interview that the senator was an exceptional candidate who had been poorly served by some top staff and who must fire Mr. Rodriguez. But she also acknowledged that Ms. Harris bore a measure of responsibility for her problems — “it’s her campaign” — and that the structure she created has not served her well.

“I have told her there needs to be a change,” said Ms. Fudge, one of several women of color who have been delivering hard-to-hear advice to Ms. Harris in recent weeks. “The weakness is at the top. And it’s clearly Juan. He needs to take responsibility — that’s where the buck stops.”

Ms. Harris declined an interview request for this article.

Mr. Rodriguez, in a statement, said: “Our team, from the candidate to organizers across the country, are working day in and out to make sure Kamala is the nominee to take on Donald Trump and end the national nightmare that is his presidency. Just like every campaign, we have made tough decisions to have the resources we need to place in Iowa and springboard into the rest of the primary calendar.”

Ms. Harris is reluctant to make a leadership change within her campaign so late in the race, some aides say, but they describe her as cleareyed about the mistakes she has made and the difficulty of her task ahead. They say she has bought into focusing on Iowa, where her campaign has structured more one-on-one settings for her to woo supporters or at least enjoy herself in otherwise difficult days.

But her troubles go beyond staffing and strategy: Her financial predicament is dire. The campaign has not taken a poll or been able to afford TV advertising since September, and it has all but quit buying Facebook ads in the last two months. Her advisers, after months of resistance, have only now signaled their desire for a group of former aides to begin a super PAC to finance an independent political effort on her behalf.

To some Democrats who know Ms. Harris, her struggles indicate larger limitations.

“You can’t run the country if you can’t run your campaign,” said Gil Duran, a former aide to Ms. Harris and other California Democrats who’s now the editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee.

Some of her problems have been beyond her control. Health care policy and the identity of the Democratic Party became much-debated issues this year, but she had never given the details of either matter extensive thought as she rose from local prosecutor to California attorney general to the Senate. And her supporters believe that as a black woman, Ms. Harris has run into difficulty with some voters over one of the defining issues of the race: assumptions about who can and cannot defeat President Trump.

Ms. Harris is now attempting a pivot, taking a less scripted approach to campaigning. On a conference call with donors after the last debate in mid-November, Jim Margolis, a senior campaign adviser, pointed to her improved performance as a case study in letting “Kamala be Kamala,” according to one person who participated in the call — a reference to Ms. Harris’s strengths when she is listening to her competitors’ comments and reacting freely.

It was her abundant political skills — strong on the stump, a warm manner with voters and ferocity with the opposition that seemed to spell trouble for Mr. Trump — that convinced many Democrats of Ms. Harris’s potential.

Yet it has come to this: After beginning her candidacy with a speech before 20,000 people in Oakland, some of Ms. Harris’s longtime supporters believe she should consider dropping out in late December — the deadline for taking her name off the California primary ballot — if she does not show political momentum. Some advisers are already bracing for a primary challenge, potentially from the billionaire Tom Steyer, should she run for re-election to the Senate in 2022. Her senior aides plan to assess next month whether she’s made sufficient progress to remain in the race.

“For her to lose California would be really hard and it’s not looking good,” said Susie Buell, a longtime Harris donor from the Bay Area.

A team of rivals with no clear message

The fact that Ms. Harris is now banking on an Iowa-or-bust strategy highlights a major strategic miscalculation early on that set her off on the wrong track.

When she entered the race in January, she bet that the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire would matter less to her political fortunes than South Carolina, with its predominantly black Democratic electorate. In this view, a strong showing in South Carolina, which votes fourth, would vault her into racially diverse Super Tuesday states like California that would propel her candidacy.

So for much of the year, she focused on competing against Joseph R. Biden Jr. in South Carolina and beyond. What her campaign did not anticipate was that Mr. Biden would remain strong with many black voters, and that Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg would rise as threats in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Then there was Ms. Harris’s campaign message. Extensive polling led her to believe that there was great value in the word “truth,” so she titled her 2019 memoir “The Truths We Hold” and made a similar phrase the centerpiece of her early stump speech: “Let’s speak truth.” But she dropped the saying out of a belief that voters wanted something less gauzy.

Her assumptions about the issues that would inspire Democrats were also muddled: she began running on a tax cut aimed at lower- and middle-income voters and then turned to a pay raise for teachers.

But those proposals also did little to animate voters, especially those riveted by the ambitious policies of Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, and before long Ms. Harris was downplaying what were her signature proposals.

For a time, she sought to highlight a pragmatic agenda, about matters she said voters thought about while lying awake at 3 a.m. Today, her aides are given to gallows humor about just how many slogans and one-liners she has cycled through, with one recalling how “‘speak truth’ spring” gave way to “‘3 a.m.’ summer” before the current, Trump-focused “‘justice’ winter.”

From the start, the campaign structure seemed ripe for conflict. Ms. Harris divided her campaign between two coasts, basing her operation in Baltimore but retaining some key advisers in the Bay Area. She bifurcated the leadership between two decidedly different loyalists: her sister, the chair, and Mr. Rodriguez, a trusted lieutenant who had managed her 2016 Senate campaign. Mr. Rodriguez was a central figure at the San Francisco-based consulting firm, SCRB, that had helped direct Ms. Harris’s rise for a decade; all of the firm’s partners were lined up to advise the presidential race.

The two camps were soon competing, each stocked with people who shared a tight bond with Ms. Harris but who regarded each other with suspicion or worse. The setup cost Ms. Harris opportunities to recruit some of her party’s most sought-after outside strategists and left her reliant on a team less experienced in national politics than in California, an overwhelmingly blue state where campaigns often turn on factional infighting within the Democratic Party.

Dan Sena, a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, met early with Ms. Harris’s team and came away concerned that they were overly reliant on political thinking shaped in California’s idiosyncratic political system.

“Winning in California requires a different road map, between a top-two candidate system and the expensive TV markets,” Mr. Sena said. “When it comes to winning there is a right way, the wrong way and the California way.”

It was not only political tactics that divided the campaign: In the spring, Maya Harris and the consulting team were at war over whether the senator should embrace or downplay her record as a prosecutor, which some on the left have criticized, a dilemma the campaign has never resolved.

One campaign strategist said it was impossible to tell if Maya Harris was speaking for herself, as an adviser, or as her sister’s representative. She has exercised broad influence over even logistical details of the campaign, like the scheduling of fund-raising events, and over hiring. The uncertainty over who has final signoff has made it more difficult for the campaign to quickly execute decisions and Maya Harris's dual roles as relative and adviser prompted the candidate’s staff to be more restrained about the advice they offer.

There are also generational fissures. One adviser said the fixation that some younger staffers have with liberals on Twitter distorted their view of what issues and moments truly mattered, joking that it was not President Trump’s account that should be taken offline, as Ms. Harris has urged, but rather those of their own trigger-happy communications team.

In Baltimore, though, the consensus is that the fault lies with Mr. Rodriguez.

Messages from bookkeepers warning of financial strain went unheeded, according to his critics, until cutbacks were inevitable.

When those cuts arrived, Ms. Harris and other members of the senior staff were enraged because they did not know the extent of the layoffs until after they happened. Some aides were informed about the mass firing of New Hampshire staff from junior aides and members of the press rather than Mr. Rodriguez. Ms. Harris called him, infuriated.

Advisers close to Mr. Rodriguez said the cash flow problems were so intense he had to move swiftly and denied he ever disregarded financial warnings. They argued that the animus toward him, first reported by Politico, stems from the raw emotions of staffers seeing their colleagues pushed out.

Some of Ms. Harris’s aides said she had better instincts than her brain trust. One official recalled that during the flight from Oakland to Iowa on the night she announced her campaign in January, Ms. Harris told senior members of her campaign team that she wanted to “go stealth.” However, instead of pursuing retail politics and introducing herself to voters in more intimate settings, as Ms. Harris suggested she preferred, her senior aides determined it was more important to cement herself in the top tier and play for “big, television moments,” as one put it.

“If you go big like that, you’ll never get a real understanding of the American people,” said Minyon Moore, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and a longtime admirer of Ms. Harris. “Because we don’t live up there.”

‘She lost me today’

The organizational unsteadiness of Ms. Harris’s campaign reflects a longtime personal trait, according to allies: she is a candidate who seeks input from a stable of advisers, but her personal political convictions can be unclear.

In June, her gifts and liabilities were both on display. She scored the campaign’s biggest debate moment in her confrontation with Mr. Biden over his record on school busing — but also stepped into a morass of hazy talk on health care and the current desegregation of schools.

“I’m cool with the T-shirts, but you also have to have a strategy,” said Bakari Sellers, a former lawmaker in South Carolina and one of Ms. Harris’s top surrogates there, referring to the merchandise Ms. Harris’s campaign had marketed after that first debate.

On criminal justice, one of Ms. Harris’s calling cards, she did not unveil her own proposals until months after she began meeting with activists. Ms. Harris said she was being deliberate, but several aides familiar with the process said she was knocked off kilter by criticism from progressives and spent months torn between embracing her prosecutor record and acknowledging some faults.

At times, she avoided the topic, even initially rejecting her current campaign slogan, “Justice Is On The Ballot,” when it was presented to her earlier in the summer. At one point during the preparations, tensions flared so high that one senior aide pleaded with the candidate to provide some direction. “You know this stuff better than us!” the aide said, according to those present.

It was hardly the only time Ms. Harris has appeared uneasy or indecisive about whether to go on the offensive. In the July debate, Ms. Harris did not respond sharply to an attack on her prosecutorial record from Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, even after Ms. Harris had been prepped for the topic.

On a conference call after the debate, several of Ms. Harris’s donors were alarmed and urged the campaign to strike back at Ms. Gabbard more aggressively, two people on the call said.

Ms. Harris also knew her response had been insufficient, a view quickly reinforced by her advisers. In interviews, many of them point to that debate moment as accelerating Ms. Harris’s decline and are so exasperated that they bluntly acknowledge in private that Ms. Harris struggles to carry a message beyond the initial script.

What she does seem more comfortable with, on the campaign trail and at the November debate, is making the case against Mr. Trump, which is now her core campaign message. After months of uncertainty, she’s back to embracing her role as a prosecutor.

“She should lean into it,” said the radio host Charlamagne tha God, who has campaigned with Ms. Harris in his native South Carolina. “She should say, ‘I’m a prosecutor and Donald Trump is a criminal and I’m going to lock his ass up.’”

The question is whether it’s too late.

Two women arrived at a recent event Ms. Harris held in Mason City, Iowa, torn between supporting her or Mr. Buttigieg, who has emerged as a front-runner in the state.

They were left so dissatisfied, they said, that they now are backing Mr. Buttigieg.

Laurie Davis, one of the voters, said Ms. Harris’s lack of policy specifics in her remarks was disappointing. Asked when she realized she wouldn’t be voting for Ms. Harris, she paused.

“Right now, I guess,” she said. “She lost me today.”

Shane Goldmacher and Jennifer Medina contributed reporting."

How Kamala Harris’s Campaign Unraveled - The New York Times

Chris Cuomo's Giuliani question stumps Trump defender

Chris Cuomo's Giuliani question stumps Trump defender

Opinion | The Horrible History of Thanksgiving - The New York Times

“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,” 1914, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe.

"The Horrible History of Thanksgiving

By Charles M. BlowNov. 27, 2019

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was simple. It was about turkey and dressing, love and laughter, a time for the family to gather around a feast and be thankful for the year that had passed and be hopeful for the year to come.

In school, the story we learned was simple, too: Pilgrims and Native Americans came together to give thanks.

We made pictures of the gathering, everyone smiling. We colored turkeys or made them out of construction paper. We sometimes had a mini-feast in class.

I thought it was such a beautiful story: People reaching across race and culture to share with one another, to commune with one another. But that is not the full story of Thanksgiving. Like so much of American history, the story has had its least attractive features winnow away — white people have been centered in the narrative and all atrocity has been politely papered over.

So, let us correct that.

What is widely viewed as the first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to which the Pilgrims had invited the local Wampanoag people as a celebration of the harvest.

About 90 came, almost twice the number of Pilgrims. This is the first myth: that the first Thanksgiving was dominated by the Pilgrim and not the Native American. The Native Americans even provided the bulk of the food, according to the Manataka American Indian Council.

This is counter to the Pilgrim-centric view so often presented. Indeed, two of the most famous paintings depicting the first Thanksgiving — one by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe and the other by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris — feature the natives in a subservient position, outnumbered and crouching on the ground on the edge of the frame.

The Pilgrims had been desperate and sick and dying but had finally had some luck with crops.

The second myth is that the Wampanoag were feasting with friends. That does not appear to be true.

As Peter C. Mancall, a professor at the University of Southern California, wrote for CNN on Wednesday, Gov. William Bradford would say in his book “Of Plymouth Plantation,” which he began to write in 1630, that the Puritans had arrived in “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men.”

Mancall further explained that after the visits to the New World by Samuel de Champlain and Capt. John Smith in the early 1600s, “a terrible illness spread through the region” among the Native Americans. He continued: “Modern scholars have argued that indigenous communities were devastated by leptospirosis, a disease caused by Old World bacteria that had likely reached New England through the feces of rats that arrived on European ships.”

This weakening of the native population by disease from the new arrivals’ ships created an opening for the Pilgrims.

King James’s patent called this spread of disease “a wonderfull Plague” that might help to devastate and depopulate the region. Some friends.

But many of those native people not killed by disease would be killed by direct deed.

As Grace Donnelly wrote in a 2017 piece for Fortune:

The celebration in 1621 did not mark a friendly turning point and did not become an annual event. Relations between the Wampanoag and the settlers deteriorated, leading to the Pequot War. In 1637, in retaliation for the murder of a man the settlers believed the Wampanoags killed, they burned a nearby village, killing as many as 500 men, women, and children. Following the massacre, William Bradford, the Governor of Plymouth, wrote that for “the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.”

Just 16 years after the Wampanoag shared that meal, they were massacred.

This was just one of the earliest episodes in which settlers and colonists did something horrible to the natives. There would be other massacres and many wars.

According to, “From the time Europeans arrived on American shores, the frontier — the edge territory between white man’s civilization and the untamed natural world — became a shared space of vast, clashing differences that led the U.S. government to authorize over 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on Indians, the most of any country in the world against its indigenous people.”

And this says nothing of all the treaties brokered and then broken or all the grabbing of land removing populations, including the most famous removal of natives: the Trail of Tears. Beginning in 1831, tens of thousands of Native Americans were forced to relocate from their ancestral lands in the Southeast to lands west of the Mississippi River. Many died along the way.

I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving, thinking only of feasts and family, turkey and dressing.

I was blind, willfully ignorant, I suppose, to the bloodier side of the Thanksgiving story, to the more honest side of it.

But I’ve come to believe that is how America would have it if it had its druthers: We would be blissfully blind, living in a soft world bleached of hard truth. I can no longer abide that.

Opinion | The Horrible History of Thanksgiving - The New York Times

Opinion | Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor - The New York Times

"Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor

By Manisha SinhaNov. 29, 2019, 6:00 a.m. ET

Last week, in defense of her father, Ivanka Trump tweeted out a quotation she wrongly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville: “A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office.”

The misquotation came from an opinion essay in The Wall Street Journal that has since been corrected. What is fascinating about this incident though, is that the quotation actually comes from an 1889 book, “American Constitutional Law,” that defends Andrew Johnson against his impeachment in 1868. By the time the book was written, emancipation and the attempt to guarantee black rights lay in shambles, and conservatives rallied to the defense of Johnson, one of the most reviled presidents in American history.

Much more than impeachment connects the presidencies of Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump. No one expected either man to enter the White House. Both presidencies began with a whiff of illegitimacy hanging over them: Johnson’s because he became president when Lincoln was assassinated, Mr. Trump’s because he won the Electoral College despite having nearly three million fewer popular votes than his opponent, the largest losing margin of any president who actually won the election. The size of the gap did not bode well for American democracy.

Historical parallelism rarely works in a simplistic manner. But it does work when historians discern broad similarities and patterns that link our present moment to the past. Many fallible men have inhabited the office of the presidency. Only a handful have been so oblivious to the oath they took that they have met the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Agree to disagree, or disagree better? We'll help you understand the sharpest arguments on the most pressing issues of the week, from new and familiar voices.

The first president against whom impeachment proceedings were considered was John Tyler, who like Johnson became president after an untimely death, that of President William Henry Harrison. A proslavery zealot, Tyler has the unique distinction so far of being the only president to commit treason against his country. He voted for Virginia’s secession from the Union.

Unlike Tyler, Johnson refused to go with his state, Tennessee, when it seceded from the Union. For this, he was appointed military governor of Tennessee and then rewarded with the vice-presidential spot on the National Union Party presidential ticket headed by Lincoln in 1864. Johnson came closest to being removed from the presidency when his conviction fell one vote short of the required two-thirds majority needed in the Senate.

If the recent House impeachment hearings have revealed anything, it is that Mr. Trump’s actions clearly meet the criteria laid out in the impeachment clause, “Treason, bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While Mr. Trump’s criminality is of the same order as Richard Nixon’s, trying to interfere in a presidential election, like Johnson, he exhibits no public or private decorum. Johnson’s and Mr. Trump’s biographies could not be more different but their lack of presidential demeanor was evident from the start. As the historian Eric Foner has put it, “Americans, more often than not, choose mediocre presidents, but require of them a decorum foreign to other aspects of their life.” Johnson, a poor white Southerner, became a slaveholder and successful politician, occupying local, state and national office. Mr. Trump, brought up in the corrupt and highflying world of New York’s real estate business, is an oddly successful political neophyte.

Both Johnson and Mr. Trump amply displayed their unfitness for the presidency before getting the job. Johnson so fortified himself with whiskey on taking his oath of office for the vice presidency that his rambling, drunken speech mortified all who were present. Lincoln, who gave his memorable Second Inaugural Address the same day, noted, “This Johnson is a queer man.” Mr. Trump is a teetotaler but ran a presidential campaign full of grotesque insults, ridicule, lies and vulgarity. His crude and cruel pronouncements after his ascent to the presidency are too many to recount. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a Trump pick, in his testimony at the impeachment hearings in the House, uses the term “TrumpSpeak”: profanity-laced language that guided a personal political agenda and undermined United States foreign policy and national security. Both Johnson and Mr. Trump, neither blessed with literary or oratorical skills, succeeded two of the most gifted presidential wordsmiths.

But most significantly, both men made an undisguised championship of white supremacy — the lodestar of their presidencies — and played on the politics of racial division. For Johnson, it was his obdurate opposition to Reconstruction, the project to establish an interracial democracy in the United States after the destruction of slavery. He wanted to prevent, as he put it, the “Africanization” of the country. Under the guise of strict constructionism, states' rights and opposition to big government, previously deployed by Southern slaveholders to defend slavery, Johnson vetoed all federal laws intended to protect former slaves from racial terror and the Black Codes passed in the old Confederate states, which reduced African-Americans to a state of semi-servitude. Johnson peddled the racist myth that Southern whites were victimized by black emancipation and citizenship, which became an article of faith among Lost Cause proponents in the postwar South.

It is a myth that Mr. Trump seems to have fully bought into, given his defense of “beautiful” Confederate statues and monuments. Like Johnson, he uses derogatory language for people of color and he has expressed his preference for Nordic immigrants. Mr. Trump’s handpicked man in charge of immigration policy, the brain behind the separation of families in immigration detention camps, is Stephen Miller, who has recently been publicly revealed to be a white nationalist. The abolitionist feminist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper called Johnson an “incarnation of meanness,” words that are still applicable today.

Both Johnson’s and Mr. Trump’s concept of American nationalism is narrow, parochial and authoritarian. Johnson opposed the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, that guarantees equality before the law to all persons and citizenship to all born in the United States. Mr. Trump has threatened both to revoke its constitutional guarantee of national birthright citizenship and have the entire amendment overturned. Johnson’s highhanded actions and disregard of Congress led to Thomas Nast’s famous “King Andy” cartoon in Harper’s Weekly. Today Mr. Trump’s unaccountable style of governing reflects his Attorney General William Barr’s doctrine of unitary executive power, oblivious to the checks and balances and separation of powers in the Constitution.

The American republic was founded on the repudiation of the divine right of kings to rule. That is the reason that the impeachment clause of the Constitution holds elected officials, including the president, accountable for bribery and criminal wrongdoing.

Johnson and Mr. Trump not only managed to diminish their office but also engaged in actions that have dangerous repercussions for American democracy. Their crimes are not just specific impeachable acts but also the systematic undermining of the rule of law, democratic governance, human rights and the national interest. Johnson pardoned nearly all high-ranking Confederates who had taken up arms against the United States government. In one case, he also pardoned a white Virginian who murdered a black man in broad daylight and looked the other way at reports of massacres of freed people and harassment of Southern white unionists. Mr. Trump, against the advice of the Defense Department and the Navy, has just pardoned a Navy SEAL, Edward Gallagher, who violated the military’s rules of conduct. He has even hinted that he wants the disgraced Chief Gallagher at his rallies.

What Mr. Trump and his enablers call the “deep state” is nothing but the rules and norms of democratic government. It has become clear from the testimony of upstanding national security and foreign service officials like Ambassadors Marie Yovanovitch and William R. Taylor, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Fiona Hill and David Holmes that he undermined the very fabric of the United States government in seeking to profit personally from the conduct of foreign policy, by withholding aid from a democratically elected anti-corruption Ukrainian government unless its officials investigated his domestic political rivals, the Bidens. Over 150 years ago, the testimony before Congress of ordinary patriotic Americans, former slaves, Southern unionists, Northern travelers to the post war South, Union Army officers and federal officials completely discredited Johnson’s racist policies.

Mr. Trump openly invites and, now we know, privately demands foreign interference in our elections, a scenario that the men who founded the American Republic and wrote its Constitution repeatedly warned against. He attacks his opponents and even supporters who do not agree with him on Twitter. Johnson, too, loved to vilify his opponents, like Frederick Douglass and Radical Republican congressmen. Both presidents precipitated a constitutional crisis that could be solved only through an impeachment process. The author Brenda Wineapple has written that Johnson was “the chief architect” of his own impeachment. The same is true of Mr. Trump.

Unlike with Nixon and Mr. Clinton, attempts to impeach Johnson and Mr. Trump preceded the actual impeachment inquiry because both systematically undermined federal laws and democratic institutions the moment they took office. Their personal narcissism and disregard for the principles of democratic governance led to early calls for impeachment. In Johnson’s case, violation of the Tenure of Office Act when he removed Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, led to his impeachment. While this law encroached on executive privilege, it was intended to prevent Johnson’s interference in congressional Reconstruction and his increasingly dangerous obstructionism. It was the law of the land when Johnson violated it by firing Stanton. Similarly, while it is certainly a president’s prerogative to appoint and fire American ambassadors, the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch was the result of a sleazy attempt to pressure Ukraine’s government.

In 1866, a Northern public sickened by Johnson’s antics and vitriolic rhetoric elected a thumping majority of his opponents. In 2018, the country handed a rebuke to Mr. Trump by electing a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which has now begun impeachment proceedings against him. Trump has handed his own smoking gun to them, his infamous call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Johnson removed and belittled Union Army officers. The Purple Heart-wearing Lt. Col. Vindman has been subject to nativist, anti-Semitic slurs and death threats after his moving testimony.

Johnson’s defenders, like Senator William Saulsbury of Delaware, the one man who could drink him under the table, and Senator Garrett Davis of Kentucky, were as oblivious to facts, reason and propriety as their modern counterparts, Senator Lindsey Graham and Representatives Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. The vote to convict Johnson lost as a handful of moderate Republicans voted to acquit when he promised not to interfere in Reconstruction any longer, though he remained unrepentant, continuing to criticize the attempt to establish black citizenship until the day he died in 1875. But Johnson was damaged goods after impeachment, and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats wanted him anywhere near their presidential tickets in1868.

House Democrats face a different scenario today given a Republican majority in the Senate. The likelihood of convicting Mr. Trump is much lower than it was for Johnson. The Republican Party, no longer the party of Lincoln, refuses to be persuaded, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Like the Republicans in 1868, House Democrats are not waiting for a presidential election to send a rebuke to a president who behaves with impunity against his country, its ideals and interests. The House Judiciary Committee would do well to develop articles of impeachment not just on narrow legalistic grounds but also on the broad ground of violation of the Constitution and the undermining of American democracy.

In drawing up 11 articles of impeachment against Johnson, House Republicans focused narrowly on violation of the Tenure of Office Act in the first nine. But the last two articles accused Johnson of opposing Reconstruction and bringing “disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach,” onto “the Congress of the United States” and for his “intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces, as well against Congress as the laws of the United States duly enacted thereby, amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled in hearing,” language that could be used verbatim against Mr. Trump. As Representative George Julian pithily put it, Johnson ought to be impeached for “his career of maladministration and crime.”

Some of the most damning testimony against Mr. Trump has come from impressive women like Ambassador Yovanovitch and Fiona Hill. Their 19th-century counterparts were abolitionists like the stalwart Lydia Maria Child, who wrote words as true today as then: “Every true lover of the country must want to creep into a knot hole and hide himself, wherever the name of our president is mentioned.” Johnson and Mr. Trump are both authoritarian demagogues who threatened the world’s longest lasting experiment in democratic republicanism. Democrats must convince the American people not only of Mr. Trump’s specific crimes, but of the very real danger that his continuing presence in office presents to the Republic."

Opinion | Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor - The New York Times

Democrats could take Senate in 2020

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Trump Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint When He Released Aid to Ukraine - The New York Times

President Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress to release military aid to Ukraine.

"WASHINGTON — President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said.
The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a “quid pro quo” with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair.
Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid. But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistle-blower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump’s re-election chances.
Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa Lerer
A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.
The complaint from the whistle-blower, a C.I.A. officer who submitted it to the inspector general for the intelligence community in mid-August, put at the center of that pressure campaign a July 25 phone call between the presidents, which came at a time when Mr. Trump had already frozen the aid to the Ukrainian government. Mr. Trump asked that Mr. Zelensky “do us a favor,” then brought up the investigations he sought, alarming White House aides who conveyed their concerns to the whistle-blower.
The White House declined to comment.
The whistle-blower complaint, which would typically be submitted to lawmakers who have oversight of the intelligence agencies, first came to light as the subject of an administration tug of war. In late August, the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, concluded that the administration needed to send it to Congress.
But the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and his deputy John A. Eisenberg disagreed. They decided that the administration could withhold from Congress the whistle-blower’s accusations because they were protected by executive privilege. The lawyers told Mr. Trump they planned to ask the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to determine whether they had to disclose the complaint to lawmakers.
A week later, the Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the administration did not have to hand over the complaint.
It is unclear how much detail the lawyers provided Mr. Trump about the complaint. The New York Times reported in September that White House advisers — namely, Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Eisenberg — knew about the whistle-blower complaint in August. But the specifics of when and how Mr. Trump learned of it have not previously been reported.
The whistle-blower, whose identity has not been made public, accused Mr. Trump of abusing his power by inviting a foreign power to interfere on his behalf in the 2020 election. He described the pressure campaign to get Mr. Zelensky to publicly commit to investigations of Democrats that could potentially benefit Mr. Trump and suggested that a temporary hold that the administration had placed on assistance to Ukraine, which is fighting a war against Russian proxy forces, might be related to the effort.
Nov. 25, 2019
The House Judiciary has invited the White House to question witnesses in its first impeachment hearing next week, featuring constitutional scholars testifying on what is impeachable conduct.
Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Democrats will deliver a report on President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine “soon” after lawmakers return from Thanksgiving break, handing off the impeachment inquiry to the Judiciary Committee.
A federal judge ruled that the former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify before impeachment investigators about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation. The Justice Department will likely appeal the decision, but it carries broader implications: The White House has blocked witnesses from cooperating in the impeachment inquiry for the same reasons it did Mr. McGahn.
After Mr. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president on July 25, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, asked officials in the budget office whether there was a legal justification for withholding military aid, according to newly surfaced emails.
A different trove of emails and documents released by the State Department offered new details about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s role in the Ukrainian pressure campaign. He spoke at least twice by telephone with the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in March as Mr. Giuliani was urging Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s rivals.
New details also emerged on Tuesday about that decision to freeze the security assistance to Ukraine. An official from the White House budget office, Mark Sandy, testified that on July 12, he received an email from the office of the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, notifying him that Mr. Trump had directed that administration officials freeze Ukraine’s military aid.
Mr. Trump had enthusiastically sought the investigations for much of the summer. But in early September, he told one of his top diplomats — Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, who helped carry out the shadow policy toward Ukraine — that he was not seeking “a quid pro quo” with the Ukrainian government by withholding the aid.
Mr. Sondland said that when he called Mr. Trump to inquire about why the aid had been withheld, an irritated Mr. Trump insisted he was not seeking anything from the Ukrainians. But the president said that he wanted Mr. Zelensky “to do the right thing,” Mr. Sondland testified to Congress last week, suggesting that he was still seeking the investigations into Democrats that could help his political fortunes.
There are discrepancies about whether Mr. Sondland spoke to the president on Sept. 7 or 9. The administration lifted the freeze on aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, as lawmakers’ demands grew. Two days earlier, three Democratic-led House committees had opened an investigation into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Only days after the president learned of the whistle-blower complaint, he spoke with Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, about the aid holdup. Mr. Johnson sought permission to tell Mr. Zelensky at an upcoming meeting in Ukraine that Mr. Trump had decided to release the security assistance, according to Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Trump replied that he was not ready, Mr. Johnson said. He said he asked later on the call whether the aid was linked to some action that the president wanted the Ukrainians to take.
“Without hesitation, President Trump immediately denied such an arrangement existed,” Mr. Johnson wrote in a letter this month to House Republicans.
Mr. Trump erupted in anger and began cursing, he wrote.
“‘No way,’” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Johnson. “‘I would never do that. Who told you that?’”
The White House has kept a tight hold on details about the actions of Mr. Trump and his senior aides in the Ukraine affair.
The president has refused to let top advisers testify in the impeachment inquiry, leaving a void that Republicans have exploited. They argue that the evidence that Democrats have gathered is insufficient because it contains few firsthand accounts linking the president to wrongdoing.
But Democrats have not only the transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call but also the testimony of Mr. Sondland, who said Mr. Trump directed him and other top administration officials to maintain pressure on Ukraine.
Both Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Eisenberg, who briefed Mr. Trump in late August about the whistle-blower complaint, had been following up on other complaints by administration officials about the Ukraine matter since early July.
Mr. Cipollone had suggested to Mr. Eisenberg in July that he tell Mr. Trump that White House staff members had raised concerns about a shadow Ukraine policy. Mr. Eisenberg, who does not typically brief Mr. Trump, never followed up on the suggestion."

Bloomberg Loves Bush. This is Michael Bloomberg endorsing a war criminal for President.

Pete Buttigieg Responds to Uproar Over Past Comments on Minority Students - The New York Times

Mayor Pete Buttigieg at a campaign event on Tuesday in Denison, Iowa, where he addressed comments he made about students of color in 2011.

"Another conservative Democrat, like Blumenthal (was elected NYC Mayor as a Republican) is completely unacceptable to Black America and as a result cannot have the Democratic nomination for President.

WASHINGTON — Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., whose lack of support among black voters poses an ongoing threat to his presidential candidacy, responded Tuesday to an outcry over eight-year-old comments he made about black students from poor neighborhoods struggling in school because they did not have proper role models.

“Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them,” Mr. Buttigieg said during a mayoral candidate forum in 2011, before being elected, a clip of which has circulated widely on Twitter. “There are a lot of kids, especially, the lower-income minority neighborhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t somebody they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”

After Michael Harriot, a writer for The Root, denounced Mr. Buttigieg’s claim in a scathing essay, Mr. Buttigieg phoned Mr. Harriot on Tuesday to discuss the piece.

“What I said in that comment before I became mayor does not reflect the totality of my understanding then, and certainly now about the obstacles that students of color face in our system today,” Mr. Buttigieg told reporters, speaking in Denison, Iowa. “I want to make sure I communicated that I’m very conscious of the advantages and privileges that I have had, not through any great wealth but certainly through education, through the advantages that come with being white and being male, and that’s part of why I know I’ve got to make myself useful as a candidate and as president.”

In his essay, published Monday evening, Mr. Harriot recalled his own childhood, in which he and other children from the black part of his town had to leap over a ditch to get to school. He argued that Mr. Buttigieg was choosing to ignore the systemic racism that holds children of color back.

“Occasionally someone would invariably fall in the ditch,” he wrote. “It wasn’t because they didn’t see someone cross successfully, it was because the banks of that ditch was slippery and muddy when it rained.”

Mr. Harriot said in a phone interview that during their conversation, he conveyed to Mr. Buttigieg that he was offended the presidential candidate had not demonstrated an understanding that the educational system is stacked against poor students of color. He said he and Mr. Buttigieg had found common ground by the end of their nearly 20-minute chat, a point he reiterated in a follow-up post later on Tuesday.

“I think to call me was brave and it symbolizes that he is willing to engage with people and voters on this issue,” Mr. Harriot said. “I didn’t think that Pete Buttigieg was going to dismiss or ignore black voters. But I think that in an effort to remain moderate, some candidates don’t want to be as confrontational about these necessary issues, because it does ostracize some voters.”

Mr. Buttigieg lags far behind his leading presidential rivals in support and endorsements from black Democrats. A national Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found Mr. Buttigieg had the support of 4 percent of black voters — a figure that represented an increase from his standing in prior surveys, many of which showed him with 0 percent black support.

Mr. Harriot said he may continue their conversation at a later date.

He said that while he wrote his initial piece in reaction to Mr. Buttigieg’s comments, all of the presidential candidates should be more considerate of the views of black voters.

“The point of the article was not to drag Pete Buttigieg but to explain this to all the candidates,” Mr. Harriot said. “The ignoring and whitewashing of the issues, and trying to remain appealing to moderate voters, does a disservice to the Democratic Party’s core constituency.”

Reid J. Epstein reported from Washington and Sydney Ember reported from Denison, Iowa "

Pete Buttigieg Responds to Uproar Over Past Comments on Minority Students - The New York Times

Trump Doesn’t Care About War Crimes | The Nation


"In mid-November, President Donald Trump pardoned three American servicemen implicated in war crimes: Lt. Clint Lorance, serving a murder sentence for ordering his soldiers to open fire on unarmed Afghan men in 2012; Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, charged with the murder of an unarmed Afghan in 2010; and CPO Edward Gallagher, convicted and demoted for posing with the corpse of an ISIS detainee in Iraq.

Judging from the uproar in much of the US media over the pardons, you’d have thought these were the only three members of the US military to have ever done anything wrong.

The Washington Post, for example, unfurled the headline: “Trump pardons people accused of war crimes because he thinks war should be savage.” The author went on to speculate that the commander in chief “rejects…as a pointless quibble” the combatant-noncombatant distinction that supposedly makes US-waged war civilized, orderly, and non-savage.

Never mind, then, all the civilian noncombatants wiped out on a regular basis by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and beyond—without much of a peep from the corporate media about the need for justice and accountability. Think of the recent murder by US drone of at least 30 Afghan pine nut farmers, the US habit of bombing wedding parties, and the joint Amnesty International-Airwars investigation that documented at least 1,600 civilian deaths in four months of US-led coalition airstrikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa in 2017.

Over at Time magazine, US military veteran Elliot Ackerman contends that Trump’s pardons “show…how little he knows about war,” while an NBC News intervention by Jeff McCausland—retired US Army colonel and former dean of the US Army War College—suggests that the president “lacks an in-depth understanding of the military, its culture and its professional ethic.” Both Ackerman and McCausland condemn Trump’s indignant October tweet on behalf of Golsteyn: “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!”

And yet it seems that Trump has in fact better understood—or at least more transparently embraced—the actual function of the US military, compared to all the folks tripping over themselves to swear by the killing machine’s oh-so-noble essence.

Obviously, few people enlist in the military with the explicit goal of committing war crimes—though, as Financial Times reporter Matt Kennard has revealed, the US military has a worrying history of recruiting neo-Nazis to fill out the ranks (an issue the military continues to grapple with). But as Trump’s tweet makes clear, the US military is in the business of creating killing machines, which it then deploys to brutally maintain US hegemony across the globe, “collateral damage” be damned. And with the ouster of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on Sunday, the commentariat has whipped up another round of hand-wringing about the tarnishing of our military institutions.

For another example of willful delusion when it comes to US military history, consider a dispatch at The Hill, coauthored by a retired US Army lieutenant general and a former US ambassador at large for War Crimes Issues, who bring up Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Code for Government of Armies in the Field—after which, apparently, US military forces have always “adhered to a strict set of rules and laws that regulate their conduct.” Indeed, servicemen and women “know that it is both wrong and illegal to engage in acts that long have defined other less scrupulous armies—rape, pillage, torture, murder of one’s foes, and intentional attacks upon a civilian population.”

A glance at such events as the Vietnam War, however, indicates that—even a century after Lincoln’s code—“scrupulous” was not really the name of the game. As US journalist and historian Nick Turse notes in his book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, the “stunning scale of civilian suffering” in the country was “far beyond anything that can be explained as merely the work of some ‘bad apples’” in the US armed forces: “Murder, torture, rape, abuse, forced displacement, home burnings, specious arrests, imprisonment without due process—such occurrences were virtually a daily fact of life.” Furthermore, they were the “inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military.”

In a chapter titled “Where have all the war crimes gone?,” Turse details how American news reports on Vietnam “described thousands of incidents that violated the laws of war, but usually skipped blithely past the implications, neither labeling nor acknowledging the crimes.”

Of course, those who drew attention to US war crimes in Vietnam—like Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot who intervened in the notorious My Lai massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians in 1968—were roundly vilified by the military and threatened with prosecution. After all, for propagators of the illusion of a scrupulous army, exposing US crimes can be more criminal than committing them in the first place; just ask Chelsea Manning.

To be sure, the whole “bad apple” argument is helpful in distracting from the possibility that the US war machine is itself putrid to the core—which is presumably part of the reason that so many US military apologists are up in arms over Trump’s decision to pardon Lorance, Golsteyn, and Gallagher. Case in point: An Atlantic article headlined “Trump Sides With War Criminals” insists that the United States possesses a uniquely “principled and disciplined military that operates with clear ethical norms,” and that this has brought numerous advantages such as “allies willing to have American bases on their territory and to participate in the wars we fight.”

Who cares that it’s called empire, not ethics—or that the military’s supreme discipline and goodness is called into question by other Atlantic articles like the one about the 2005 massacre by US Marines of 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha, Iraq. This particular piece bore the headline: “Why We Should Be Glad the Haditha Massacre Marine Got No Jail Time.” So much for not siding with war criminals.

The New York Times, too, has gone into overdrive on the pardons front, with commentators fretting that Trump has “betray[ed] the military” and that the “laws of war are history.” The Times editorial board published a lengthy dispatch alerting its readership to the danger of nationwide “moral injury”—also known dramatically as a “bruise of the soul”—which can happen when US soldiers who have violated the “morally defensible rules” of war are excused or heroicized.

The editorial board concludes that the United States cannot just claim its moral superiority; rather, it must “be morally superior, which means abiding by the rule of law, not some sense of American exceptionalism that presumes that monsters cannot exist in our midst.” It’s anyone’s guess, of course, as to how the newspaper that played a starring role in marching the nation into an illegal war on Iraq—thanks to which countless Iraqis have been killed, maimed, and irradiated—feels qualified to lecture anyone on morals.

Moreover, by implying that the United States is superior as long as a couple of soldiers are punished here and there in a country committed to waging perpetual, devastating war around the world, the Times is in fact endorsing—not challenging—the concept of American exceptionalism. And as the self-righteous ruckus over the Trumpian pardons continues, the attendant whitewashing of empire–itself one big savage crime—is totally unpardonable."

Trump Doesn’t Care About War Crimes | The Nation

Google Fires 4 Workers Active in Labor Organizing

Whatever happened to Google’s motto “Don’t Be Evil”.  I guess it’s dissipation has led by the older phrase “Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”.

“SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Monday fired four employees who had been active in labor organizing at the company, according to a memo that was seen by The New York Times.

The memo, sent by Google’s security and investigations team, told employees that the company had dismissed four employees “for clear and repeated violations of our data security policies.” Jenn Kaiser, a Google spokeswoman, confirmed the firings but declined to elaborate.

The dismissals are expected to exacerbate rocky relations between Google’s management and a vocal contingent of workers who have protested the company’s handling of sexual harassment, its treatment of contract employees, and its work with the Defense Department, federal border agencies and the Chinese government.

Tensions have increased as Google has cracked down on what had long been a freewheeling work culture that encouraged employees to speak out. Google recently canceled a regular series of companywide meetings that allowed workers to pose questions to senior executives and began working with a consulting firm that has helped companies quell unionization efforts.

The changes are a remarkable turn for a company that has been considered a standard for the modern workplace. Google introduced many of the office perks that are now common across Silicon Valley, and its embrace of transparent relations between workers and management has influenced a generation of start-ups.

This month, Google placed two employees, Laurence Berland and Rebecca Rivers, on administrative leave, saying they had gotten into confidential documents that were not relevant to their work. They were among the four workers who were fired, according to two people familiar with the dismissals.

Ms. Rivers confirmed her firing on Twitter on Monday. The identities of the other two employees were not clear Monday evening.

Mr. Berland and Ms. Rivers could not be reached for comment. The memo announcing the firings was first reported by Bloomberg News.

In the memo, Google said the fired employees had repeatedly searched for, looked through and distributed information “outside the scope of their jobs.” One of the workers set up notifications to receive emails detailing the work and whereabouts of other employees without their knowledge or consent, the memo said.

“This is not how Google’s open culture works or was ever intended to work,” the memo said.

When asked last week by The Times, Google could not point to a specific rule that forbade setting up these notifications but said it was investigating to determine if this and other behavior violated the company’s code of conduct.

The Tech Workers Coalition, an advocacy group, said on Twitter on Monday that the four employees had been fired for “organizing at work” and encouraged workers at Google to “speak out against this draconian act.”

“This is meant to scare workers, don’t let it,” the tweet said.

Veena Dubal, an associate professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, said, “It does seem like this termination was in direct response to their organizing.”

She added, “I am skeptical that this was about how safe other people felt, and more about how effective these people were in the workplace in terms of organizing their co-workers.”

In August, nearly 1,500 Google workers signed a petition asking the company not to pursue a contract with Customs and Border Protection, which they said was complicit in “human rights abuses.” In September, Google hired a former member of the Department of Homeland Security staff, Miles Taylor, a move that provoked a backlash from workers who objected to the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Google deleted questions about Mr. Taylor’s employment from internal systems, BuzzFeed News reported.

At the rally on Friday, Ms. Rivers said Google security staff had interrogated her about her involvement in the petition. Mr. Berland said he had also worked on the petition and raised questions about the company’s decision to hire Mr. Taylor.

“If we can’t speak up about these issues that concern us about our work,” Mr. Berland said, “how can we ever hold ourselves and each other to the high standard that we need and the world deserves? Silence and secrecy are not the way for us to come together to solve problems.”

Google employees at the rally said they were protesting the suspensions of Mr. Berland and Ms. Rivers and demanded that they be returned to work.

“Google has suspended them from their jobs and interrogated them for speaking out,” said Stephanie Parker, a Google worker who spoke at the demonstration. “We are here today to show them our support and to demand that Google bring them back to work immediately.”

Noam Scheiber contributed reporting from Evanston, Ill.

Minority Voters Chafe as Democratic Candidates Abandon Charter Schools

I aM of two minds on the subject of Charter Schools. First of all I support full funding of public education not tied to proportion taxes as it is in many parts of the nation.  As someone who grew up when the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) was led by Albert Shankar, strong opponent to steps to improve minority education and who led a fifty plus day strike in the NYC schools during the late sixties over decentralization of public school administration in Brooklyn, helps me to understand these parent concerns.  White liberal candidates like Warren and Sanders need to listen and learn from the minority families and move away from strict ideological positions.  My first public school in Brooklyn, PS 70 is now a charter school and apparently doing well. 

“ The front-runners for the presidential nomination are moving away from the charter school movement, and black and Latino families ask why their concerns are lost.

Nov. 26, 2019, 5:00 a.m. ET

ATLANTA — The night before Democratic presidential candidates took to a debate stage here last week, black and Latino charter school parents and supporters gathered in a bland hotel conference room nearby to make signs they hoped would get the politicians’ attention.

“Charter schools = self-determination,” one sign read. “Black Democrats want charters!” another blared.

At issue is the delicate politics of race and education. For more than two decades, Democrats have largely backed public charter schools as part of a compromise to deliver black and Latino families a way out of failing district schools. Charters were embraced as an alternative to the taxpayer-funded vouchers for private-school tuition supported by Republicans, who were using the issue to woo minority voters.

But this year, in a major shift, the leading Democratic candidates are backing away from charter schools, and siding with the teachers’ unions that oppose their expansion. And that has left some black and Latino families feeling betrayed.
Sign up for the New York Today Newsletter
Each morning, get the latest on New York businesses, arts, sports, dining, style and more.

“As a single mom with two jobs and five hustles, I’m just feeling kind of desperate,” said Sonia Tyler, who plans to enroll her children in a charter school slated to open next fall in a suburb of Atlanta. “They’re brilliant; they’re curious. It’s not fair. Why shouldn’t I have a choice?”

Charter schools, which educate over three million students, are publicly funded and privately managed — and often are not unionized. Nationally, the schools perform about the same as traditional neighborhood schools. But charter schools that serve mostly low-income children of color in large cities tend to excel academically. And bipartisan support in Washington has allowed charters to proliferate, with their waiting lists swelling into the hundreds of thousands.”

World Powers Vowed to Cut Greenhouse Gases. They’re Still Rising Perilously.

 Four years after countries struck a landmark deal in Paris to rein in greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to avert the worst effects of global warming, humanity is headed toward those very climate catastrophes, according to a United Nations report issued Tuesday, with Chinaand the United States, the two biggest polluters, having expanded their carbon footprints last year.

“The summary findings are bleak,” the report said, because countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions even after repeated warnings from scientists. The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

Monday, November 25, 2019

Former Navy secretary defends handling of Navy SEAL case

Chairman Schiff On Impeachment Investigation

Nunes REFUSES to answer Fox host's question on HIS involvement in quid quo pro. Lies, lies and more lies. He will not answer.

Judge rules Don McGahn must testify before the House Judiciary Committee

Judge rules Don McGahn must testify before the House Judiciary Committee

Trump Ordered Pentagon Not to Oust Navy SEAL From Elite Unit - The New York Times

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was convicted of posing for photographs with the body of a teenage Islamic State captive in American custody.

"WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the Pentagon not to remove a Navy SEAL at the center of a high-profile war crimes case from the elite commando unit, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Monday.

Mr. Esper’s confirmation of the order from Mr. Trump is the latest turn in an extraordinary series of events that pitted the president against his senior military leadership over the fate of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, the SEAL who was convicted of posing for photographs with the body of a teenage Islamic State captive in American custody.

The Navy wanted to oust Chief Gallagher from the commando unit. Instead, it was the Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, who was fired on Sunday. Mr. Esper accused Mr. Spencer of not telling him that he was negotiating a separate deal with the White House, which differed from what Mr. Spencer was saying publicly and to senior Defense Department leadership.

On Monday, Mr. Esper indicated that the military would follow Mr. Trump’s wishes.

“I spoke with the president on Sunday,” Mr. Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. “He gave me the order that Eddie Gallagher will retain his Trident pin.” The pin designates membership in the elite unit.

This was the second time Mr. Trump had made known his wishes that Chief Gallagher remain a Navy SEAL — the first was last Thursday, via Twitter. But Navy officials said over the weekend that they did not consider tweets to be orders and announced they were moving ahead with disciplinary hearings that could oust Chief Gallagher from the commando unit.

Those hearings will not be happening now, Defense Department officials indicated.

Following this weekend’s rapid-fire developments in an already complicated story, some Pentagon officials remained torn on Monday deciding whose side of the story to believe, according to a Defense Department official.

Mr. Trump’s intervention into the military justice system and the Defense Department’s maneuvering to avoid confrontation with the White House had some in the building confused as to what actually happened regarding Mr. Spencer’s dismissal, the official added.

Chief Gallagher was accused of shooting civilians, murdering a captive Islamic State fighter with a hunting knife in Iraq and threatening to kill SEALs who reported him, among other misconduct.

His court-martial ended in acquittal on those charges, but he was convicted of one charge of bringing discredit to the armed forces by posing for photos with the teenage captive’s body.

The Navy demoted him, but Mr. Trump earlier this month reversed that demotion, angering Navy officials, including the commander of the SEALs, Rear Admiral Collin Green, and Mr. Spencer, the Navy secretary.

In a letter acknowledging his termination on Sunday, Mr. Spencer said that he regarded good order and discipline throughout the Navy’s ranks to be “deadly serious business.”

“The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside,” the letter said.

He added: “Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.”

Trump Ordered Pentagon Not to Oust Navy SEAL From Elite Unit - The New York Times

Navy Secretary Spencer forced out after Trump's war crimes intervention ...

US Navy Turns On Donald Trump

Adam Schiff: 'The evidence is already overwhelming' in impeachment inquiry

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sumatran rhinos declared extinct in Malaysia after last female dies of c...

Meet Adam Schiff, the lawmaker leading the Trump impeachment inquiry

Trump's impeachment shows US officials at their best and his allies at their worst | Robert Reich | Opinion | The Guardian

Trump's impeachment shows US officials at their best and his allies at their worst

Robert ReichSun 24 Nov 2019 01.00 EST

Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch and more stand against the rot in the White House. They must be saluted

Trump impeachment inquiry: Fiona Hill rebukes Republicans for 'fictional' Ukraine narrative – video

As a candidate in 2015, Donald Trump said he would surround himself “only with the best and most serious people”.

Not quite.

On 15 November, Trump’s longtime friend and confidant Roger Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He faces a maximum of 50 years in prison.

Stone will be only the most recent in a long line of Trump cronies to go to jail.

Late last year, Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen was convicted of multiple crimes including campaign finance violations in connection with hush-money payments to a porn star. He is now behind bars.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is also in prison. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, will be sentenced in December. Former foreign policy advisor George Papadopolous has already served time.

This list doesn’t even include the Star Wars cantina dredged up by Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, including Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both of whom were recently arrested on campaign finance charges.

All these men and women have distinguished records of public service … yet Trump and his lackeys attack them

Not to mention Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, whose released emails reveal the warped mind of a racist nationalist.

Trump has surrounded himself not with the best and most serious but with the worst and most dangerous: thugs, liars and white supremacists.

And yet in recent weeks, others in the Trump administration have shown themselves to be among the best and most honorable public servants in America, though Trump doesn’t see them that way.

I’m talking about the career officials who have come before the House intelligence committee and, with dignity and restraint, confirmed Trump’s abuses of power.

Lt Col Alexander Vindman explained that he reported Trump’s 25 July phone call seeking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s help in digging up dirt on Biden “out of a sense of duty”, because it was “improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a US citizen and political opponent”.

National Security Council officer Fiona Hill, after referring to her “legal and moral obligation” to appear before Congress, detailed how Trump’s team carried out a “domestic political errand” that helped Russia, and warned that Republicans play into Russia’s hands by denying its role in the 2016 election. Russia is “right now” seeking to interfere in 2020, she said, and “we are running out of time to stop them”.

Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch spoke of “a crisis in the state department as the policy process is visibly unraveling”. Foreign service officers Jennifer Williams and George Kent and acting Ukraine ambassador William B Taylor sounded similar alarms.

All these men and women have distinguished records of public service. Some are highly decorated military officers. In coming forth, they have shown remarkable courage and patriotism.

Yet, true to form, Trump and his lackeys attack them.

During Yovanovitch’s testimony, Trump tweeted that “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad”, blaming her for a civil war in Somalia that started before she was posted there.

When Vindman testified, the White House tweeted that his former boss had concerns about his judgment.

Republican senator Ron Johnson said Vindman “fits the profile” of “bureaucrats” who have “never accepted President Trump as legitimate”. Fox News accused him of having “dual loyalties” and committing “espionage” because he fled what is now Ukraine with his family, when he was three years old.

Even before she appeared, Trump called Williams a “Never Trumper” who should work out a “better presidential attack!” She had barely left the hearing room when the White House issued a statement challenging her credibility.

The contrast could not be starker. On one side are dedicated public servants seeking to protect America. On the other side are Trump and his thugs, seeking to protect Trump.

Those who put loyalty to Trump above their duty to the United States are contemptible. Even if they don’t end up in prison like other Trump toadies, they have dishonored themselves and the nation.

But those who have devoted their lives to this country and are now risking everything by telling the truth are among America’s best. They deserve our deepest gratitude.

To me, Vindman’s opening statement said it all.

“Dad, my sitting here today, in the US Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry – I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. He is also a columnist for Guardian US."

Trump's impeachment shows US officials at their best and his allies at their worst | Robert Reich | Opinion | The Guardian

New Documents Show Contact Between Mike Pompeo And Rudy Giuliani On Ukra...

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Watch Biden fire back at Graham: I'm embarrassed for you. Biden nails Graham to the wall but mistakes Sander's and Warren's tax proposals to pay for heathcare. He says they want to tax the middle class. He knows that is not true.

Giuliani associate willing to testify Nunes went to Europe for Biden dirt

Opinion | The Double-Barreled Dream World of Trump and His Enablers - The New York Times

Paul Manafort, then campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s campaign, at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

"By Glenn R. Simpson and Peter FritschNov. 22, 2019

They wanted to take down Biden. But they also wanted to absolve Moscow of election meddling.

The Ukraine scandal now unfolding in congressional impeachment hearings has at its core a Shakespearean twist: President Trump, abetted by his paladins of spin, has trapped himself in an alternate universe. To undermine the well-established fact that Russia corrupted the 2016 vote to help him win, Mr. Trump and his allies have tried to build a fiction that pins those crimes on Ukraine.

In doing so, he has confirmed our darkest fears. The president’s bid to solicit foreign help to impugn a domestic political rival in 2019 should wipe away any doubts about his willingness to do the same with Russian help in 2016.

Mr. Trump and his enablers — Rudolph Giuliani foremost among them — have scrambled all year to do two deeds at once. They want to besmirch Joe Biden, without foundation, for supposedly using his office as vice president to protect his son Hunter, who served until recently on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. And they want to reinvent what happened in 2016 so as to switch the blame for the election meddling from Moscow to Kyiv.

Congress is rightly focused on the quid pro quo demands that Mr. Trump was making of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to further his own personal political interests. But the effort to rewrite the history of 2016 is no less insidious.

Agree to disagree, or disagree better? We'll help you understand the sharpest arguments on the most pressing issues of the week, from new and familiar voices.

As the founders of Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the reports by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele that raised some of the earliest warnings of Russia’s actions, we’re willing to clear up some of the nonsense now so abundant on the right.

House Republicans like Representatives Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan seem eager to portray Fusion as co-conspirators with the Ukrainians in some devilish plot to undermine Mr. Trump’s 2016 candidacy. That could not be farther from the truth. None of the information in the so-called Steele dossier came from Ukrainian sources. Zero. And we’ve never met Serhiy Leshchenko, the Ukrainian former legislator and journalist whom Republicans want to blame for the downfall of Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

That said, our investigation of Donald Trump did get a great boost because of Ukraine, just not in the way Republicans imagine. We began looking into Mr. Trump’s business dealings and ties to Russia in the fall of 2015 with funding from Republicans who wanted to stop his political ascent. The Ukraine alarms went off six months later, when candidate Trump brought into his campaign none other than Mr. Manafort, a man with his own tangled history with Russian oligarchs trying to get their way in Ukraine.

It turns out we already knew a great deal about Mr. Manafort’s activities in Ukraine because we worked on several stories about his work for Russian-backed politicians eight years earlier, when we were both still writing for The Wall Street Journal. That reporting threw a spotlight on how Mr. Manafort, while representing clients involved in fierce geopolitical struggles over Ukraine, had neglected to comply with a lobbying law requiring that he register as a foreign agent — the very law, among others, to which he pleaded guilty of violating.

Those articles triggered years of media coverage exposing Mr. Manafort’s questionable lobbying activities and ties to pro-Russia oligarchs. In the meantime, we left The Journal and went on to found Fusion GPS, a research and strategic intelligence firm, in 2010.

We turned our focus back to Mr. Manafort in early 2016 and soon found a 19-page legal filing in a federal courthouse in Virginia in which one of his former clients, the Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, accused Mr. Manafort in scorching detail of making off with tens of millions of dollars that he had promised to invest in Ukraine. The whole thing reeked of fraud and possible money laundering. It was as if Mr. Manafort had boarded the Trump campaign plane with baggage stuffed with figurative explosives. The Virginia filings later surfaced in various articles about Manafort in the national media.

A few months later we stumbled on some Ukrainian media reports noting that documents existed in Kyiv that chronicled the political spending of the pro-Russia ruling party at the time, which had hired Mr. Manafort. We wondered if his name might crop up in those papers. Someone suggested Mr. Leshchenko might be of help in the matter — a fact we stored away. To this day, we have never met him.

The New York Times got to the story first, in August 2016, reporting that a black ledger of illicit payments showed that millions of dollars had gone into the pocket of one Paul Manafort. That story led to Mr. Manafort’s ouster from the campaign, and undoubtedly fueled F.B.I. interest in his activities, though the so-called black ledger was never used in the criminal cases against him.

We’d love to take credit for finding the black ledger, but we didn’t, and any alert reporter following the Ukrainian press would have known to follow the leads that led to it.

That hasn’t stopped Republicans from weaving conspiracy theories about our work in Ukraine. Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and the main stirrer of the conspiracy pot in Ukraine, cooked up a fresh fabrication just this week, telling Glenn Beck on his TV program that he had “very strong evidence that a lot of the Steele dossier was produced in Ukraine” and that “Glenn Simpson spent a fair amount of time there during the time that the dossier was being written.”

By sheer coincidence, one of us — the aforementioned Mr. Simpson — found himself on a plane from New York to Washington with Mr. Giuliani just hours later, and he couldn’t resist confronting the former New York mayor about his claim after they landed.

“I understand you think I spent a lot of time in Ukraine?” Mr. Simpson inquired.

“You did spend some time in Ukraine,” Mr. Giuliani replied.

“Did I?” Mr. Simpson asked as he waved his phone in front of Mr. Giuliani, signaling that he was recording the encounter.

“What if I told you I have never been to Ukraine in my life?”

“Well,” Mr. Giuliani replied with equanimity, “O.K. I will find out if that’s true or not.”

It’s not. So, Mr. Giuliani is still investigating the lies he hopes will save a deeply corrupt presidency. That should chill all Americans."

Opinion | The Double-Barreled Dream World of Trump and His Enablers - The New York Times