Fixing The Fixer | Do Less Work to Do More Work | America’s Forever War




“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky




Make Trump Great Again: “My loyalty to Trump has cost me everything.” With that, former personal attorney and fixer for the president of the United States Michael Cohen summed up almost 7 hours of grueling public testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Cohen began his day with a jaw-dropping statement in which he called President Trump a racist, a conman, and a cheat, someone who entered the 2016 presidential race not to make American great again, but to make Donald Trump’s brand great again. Cohen brought with him visual aids, including copies of documents to back up his accusations, one being a check signed by Trump after he was in the White House to partially reimburse Cohen for the hush money payment Cohen made to a porn star on Trump’s behalf just days before the 2016 election. He said repeatedly that there are no rogue actors in Trump world—i.e. nothing happens that Trump isn’t aware of or hasn’t approved.

Some new information came up in Cohen’s testimony involving other crimes being investigated by the southern district; he declined to answer questions about a possible criminal conspiracy involving fraudulent activity by Trump, his family members, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Charitable Foundation. When asked if he knew about any collusion with Russia, he denied having any direct knowledge of Trump himself or his campaign colluding with Russia, but he said he had his suspicions.

For the vast majority of the hearing Republican representatives on the committee attacked Cohen personally, doing their best to discredit anything he said, and entering into the record a number of derogatory articles written about the former lawyer, who was disbarred just the day before. For his part, Cohen repeatedly took responsibility for crimes, mistakes and bad judgment calls he’d made during the decade he worked for Trump, for which he pled guilty in a criminal suit brought against him by federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, and for which he faced three years in federal prison. But he made clear that he was acting either at the explicit or often the tacit direction of the president, or he was trying to protect the president, whom he likened to a crime boss. Additional read: It’s Mueller’s Investigation. But Right Behind Him Is Andrew Goldstein. (NYT, $)




And The Winner Is…Maybe…Possibly: The votes have finally been counted in Nigeria’s election, and incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner with 56 percent of the ballots cast. Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, is said to have received 41 percent of the votes. Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), rejected the election results, calling the electoral process “militarized” and a “disservice” to Nigeria’s democracy. “I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court,” he said. Abubakar, who was vice president from 1999 to 2007, has run for president four times. Allegations of corruption stemming from his time in office dogged Abubakar’s candidacy, allegations he has consistently denied. (CNN)

20 Dead In Horrific Explosion: A locomotive crashed into a barrier at the main train station in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday morning, causing its fuel tank to rupture and explode into a fiery blaze. Flames raced through the crowded Ramses train platform, killing at least 20 people and wounding 40 others. Train accidents happen frequently across Egypt; official figures showed 1,793 train accidents occurred in 2017 alone. Egypt’s Transport Minister Hesham Arafat resigned after Wednesday’s incident. (NPR)

Burn The Burn Book: After Uganda’s officials imposed heavy taxes on social media use and money transactions using mobile phones, millions of Ugandans quit using the internet. The finance minister said the legislation was intended to raise revenue for public services, but it was reported that the president had urged the introduction of the tax as a way to deal with online “gossip.” Critics described the levy as an attempt to restrict free speech, and warned of the damaging impact on the economy. A lack of formal banking services in Uganda means many people rely on mobile phone companies to send money by text message. In the three months following imposition of the tax, internet subscriptions plummeted by 2.5 million. (Guardian)

Avoiding Pakistan Like The Plane Plague: Following the downing of two Indian military jets, airlines operating flights from East Asia to destinations in Europe are avoiding the airspace over Pakistan and northern India. Singapore Airlines and British Airways are among the operators which have had to reroute flights. Singapore Airlines said longer flight routes would make refueling necessary. Thai Airways went further, suspending all its flights destined for Europe when it was unable to establish alternate routes. (BBC) Additional read: “India calls for immediate return of pilot shot down by Pakistan over Kashmir: Delhi angered by ‘vulgar display’ of wing commander in bloodied uniform by Islamabad” (Guardian)




Imagine All The People, Finally Ending This War: US negotiators and Taliban officials are meeting in Doha, Qatar for the fourth time, but this one could be the charm. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the movement’s deputy chief and head of their political commission, is participating for the first time, which gives the Taliban group the decision-making authority it lacked before. Americans had said that prior to any commitment being made on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban must agree to a cease-fire, to including terms acceptable to the Afghan government, and to preserving the progress made toward rights for women and minorities. At the third round of talks last month, both sides said they had reached an agreement in principal on these issues, but now the details must be fleshed out.

Of course, it’s an axiom of negotiations that the devil is in the details. Over the past 17 years, much progress in women’s rights has been made in many parts of Afghanistan, including in education, work, and owning and inheriting property. Women have become an integral part of public and political life, aided by the media’s growing independence. Conversely, during the Taliban’s time in power it has barred women from public life and ruled according to their own harsh interpretation of Islamic law, including banning music and television. Recently the Taliban said it will respect women’s rights according to Islam, but skeptics are doubtful the insurgents can fully embrace either the progress women have made, or an uncensored media.




Building A Wall Around The Emergency: On Tuesday the Democratic-led House voted to approve a resolution blocking President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. The vote was 245 to 182, with 13 Republicans joining the Democrats. The resolution now goes to the Senate as a privileged measure, meaning it is not subject to filibuster and needs only a simple majority to pass. If it passes the Senate, the bill goes to the White House where it is expected President Trump will veto it. A two-thirds majority would then be required in both Houses to override Trump’s veto and that is virtually certain not to happen. Trump declared a national emergency when the House refused to appropriate the funds he wanted to build his wall on the US-Mexico border. The president wants to bypass the House and redirect funds already authorized for other purposes to build the wall. A coalition of 16 states has filed suit claiming the president’s action is unwarranted and unconstitutional. (NPR)




The internet is way too dangerous for childrenThe Trauma Floor: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America. (Verge) And even more alarming: “Suicide instructions spliced into kids’ cartoons on YouTube and YouTube Kids: “Sideways for attention. Longways for results,” a man says in the middle of a cartoon.” (Ars Technica)

One of the problems with raising children in cities: “Greener Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood” (NPR) Our kids frequently remark that they want to go exploring in forests. And 
Stress, chocolate, sunlight: What’s good and bad for your skin.” (CNN)

Do Less Work to Do More Work: We like technology because it provides us with the ability to be more efficient and productive. We are more efficient and productive in order to…wait for it….to work more. We’re Optimizing Ourselves to Death: What happens when tech gives us more leisure time? We work. (Medium) Hopefully no one clicks on this article about work: How to Deal With Jerks at Work (Lifehacker).




Did Capital Punishment Create Morality?: A new book argues that violence—specifically, the killing of alpha males—laid the foundation for virtue.” (New Yorker)

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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