The Republican Fausts – The New York Times

“Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.

Their position was at least comprehensible: How many times in a lifetime does your party control all levers of power? When that happens you’re willing to tolerate a little Trumpian circus behavior in order to get things done.”

Thank you David Brooks. Here is a comment I endorse:

Ami Portland Oregon 7 hours ago

“Thank you for this position. I know as a life long Republican this could not have been easy for you to write. The Republican party has a choice, they can put country before party and stand up to the bully who calls himself a Republican president or they can make excuses for him hoping he will throw them a bone and pass legislation they care about. The American people are watching closely.

Some things that the Republicans need to keep in mind as they make their decision. Trump lost by 3 million votes so he doesn’t have a mandate. Despite what fox news reports there were women’s marches in all 50 states. When people march in conservative states Republicans need to pay attention. Also, Trump will eventually turn on the Republican party. He’s not really a Republican, he just used their platform to get elected.

We’re a nation made up of people who are united in our differences. Each part of the country has different priorities and beliefs but the one thing we all agree on is that we are Americans first. As Americans we are proud of the fact that we are a nation of laws. We are not deliberately cruel.

If Americans feel that the only way to control Trump is to vote Republicans out of office in the mid terms we will do so. Republicans need to decide what they are going to do quickly. Trump will define the Republican party for a generation if they don’t act soon.”

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‘Has Anybody Gone to Prison for Violating the F.C.C.’s Do Not Call List?’ – The New York Times

A reader asks: ““Has anybody ever gone to prison for (repeatedly) violating the F.C.C.’s Do Not Call list?”Cecilia Kang, a technology reporter for The Times, considers the question._____No, no one has ever gone to prison for violating the National Do Not Call Registry, and it’s unlikely anyone ever will. That’s because the two federal agencies that oversee the list largely hand out civil, not criminal, penalties.

Underlying the reader’s question may be a frustration shared by many readers: Unwanted marketing calls haven’t gone away and, in some cases, seem to be getting worse. Data on robocalls and complaints (and lots reader email I’ve received in recent years) confirm that unauthorized telemarketing calls are on the rise and are hard to control.”

David Lindsay

According to one commentator, one way the US could get rid of robocalls would be to upgrade the national phone system to VOIP, or IP based services,  and insist on SIP technology. A less costly solution would be to make the penalties crimininal, and more severe, and have the Feds crack down on the companies whose products are being sold, who contract with the untraceable, off shore marketers.

To the New York Times Comments:  Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Good article and useful comments. My home is deluged with these unwanted calls, and I wonder daily, when my government is going to do something about this small, but annoying scourge of life in America. I remain critical of the NY Times insisting on pushing the Times Insider, to get extra cash out of its subscriber base. This report on robocalls is not really a Times Insider story, this is one of the most important consumer protection scandal stories or our times. For the NY Times to try and harvest something extra, by taking big news, and making it, pay extra for big news, is not only questionable, its despicable. What a great way to ruin your once excellent brand. Meanwhile, the intensiveness of robo calls is big news. The NYT should be covering it every week, because their subscribers, and the American public, and this subscriber, want relief.

Here is a helpful comments, from an informed writers:

OSS Architect

California 1 hour ago

“Robo-callers have to connect from a VoIP/IP network (calling based on the internet) to the PSTN (public switched telephone network); also known as POTS (plain old telephone service).

To do that, they need the complicity of a US Public Telco with access to the PSTN. So we know where these junk calls are coming from. One typical scenario is a small local telco in a sparsely populated area, that is not
profitable; except for money they get from robo-call operations that dump millions of calls into the PSTN system through their “portal”.

These “bad operators” are telco’s that are Federally licensed, and given the right regulatory environment their license to operate could be taken away.

In some sense, robo-calls are an unintended consequence of US Telco de-regulation in the 90’s. The current PSTN technology (SS7) has no way to authenticate caller ID’s. The Bell System monopoly controlled the number assignments and constructed all the caller ID information. Now anyone can spoof any caller ID.

Ironically, we’ve had commercial telephony technology since the late 90’s called SIP (session initiation protocol) which authenticates both call endpoints, and can’t be spoofed. This would eliminate robo-calls, but it requires overhaul of the phone system, which is in critical need of overhaul (to IP based services) for many reasons.”

 

Jfitz

Boston 21 hours ago

“Call blocking is ineffective because the robocalls can randomly pick a phone number that will appear on your caller ID. It can even be your own. They can even pick caller ID’s from your local area so you think it’s a local call. You block it and another number is used. Looked at the government websites and they say report it to your phone company. Tried that. No help.

I’m told that robo computers blast out the calls, almost starting with 000, then when it gets a hit (not necessarily answered), it picks a calling number that appears on the caller ID. If you answer, the computer then rings back to the company sponsoring the calls. You get some service person — or computer message advising you of some “deal”. It would seem easy for enforcement agencies to figure out the sponsoring company, e.g. cruise line, and then lower the hammer on them.”

The end of coal is near: China just scrapped 103 power plants – ScienceAlert

“China has announced plans to cancel more than 100 coal plants currently in development, scrapping what would amount to a massive 120 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired electricity capacity if the plants were completed.For a bit of context, the entire US has approximately 305 GW gigawatts of coal capacity in total, and this massive adjustment leaves room for China to advance its development of clean, renewable energy.”

Source: The end of coal is near: China just scrapped 103 power plants – ScienceAlert

This is good news, but the title is a little over the top. The article explains that China has more coal plant production than they could possibly need. After they shut these projects down, they will still have a huge number of coal plants on line. Their massive investments in renewable energy will eventually allow them to shut down their massive current coal energy capacity.

Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump | WIRED

This came in the other day from Kathleen Schomaker, the director of Gray Is Green.

“The incoming Trump administration’s EPA transition team intends to remove some climate data from the agency’s website. These researchers are swooping in to help.”
wired.com|By Zoë Schlanger

 

“At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.”

Source: Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump | WIRED

The Trump War on Public Schools – by Gail Collins – The New York Times

“One of the most disturbing things about the Trump administration is its antipathy toward public schools.

Perhaps you remember the president’s mini-rant in his inaugural speech about an “education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”

Well, Trump’s choice for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is responsible for Michigan’s charter school boom, which currently costs the state about $1.1 billion a year. A 2014 investigation by The Detroit Free Press found myriad examples of “wasteful spending and double-dipping.” Thanks in large part to DeVos’s lobbying in the Legislature, there’s virtually no oversight. So much for the young and beautiful students.

Take that for a rant.”

Obamacare Sabotage – by Vikas Bajaj – The New York Times

“The Trump administration doesn’t have a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, but it’s already trying to sabotage the law. It has canceled advertisements meant to encourage people to pick insurance policies on HealthCare.gov ahead of the Jan. 31 sign-up deadline.

This is a shameless attempt to drive down enrollment, especially among young people, who tend to wait until the last minute to get insurance but who are essential to the program because they tend to be healthier than older people and thus help spread the cost. Lower enrollment gives President Trump more ammunition in his fight against what he calls “the failed Obamacare disaster.” “

The Voter Fraud Fantasy – The New York Times

“…..What once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy. Mr. Trump is telegraphing his administration’s intent to provide cover for longstanding efforts by Republicans to suppress minority voters by purging voting rolls, imposing onerous identification requirements and curtailing early voting.”

An Extremist Holding the Purse Strings – by Steven Rattner – The New York Times

“President Trump will hardly be short of far-right cabinet members, including an education secretary who has called public schools a “dead end,” a labor secretary who has been cited for employment law violations and an Environmental Protection Agency administrator who has sued his own department.

But within the Trump team, the views of Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina, his little-known choice to lead the important Office of Management and Budget, rank as among the most reactionary.”

Park Rangers to the Rescue – by Tim Egan – The New York Times

“It started at the inauguration, when the uniformed protectors of America’s front lawn took in the sweep of humanity at the National Mall. It seemed obvious that the crowd for President Trump was not nearly as large as that for Barack Obama in 2009. Somebody in olive green retweeted the obvious, using comparative pictures.

This small act of historical clarification by the keepers of our sacred sites and shared spaces would have been no big deal, had not the response from the new president sounded like an edict from the Dear Leader. A gag order on public servants was issued, and the National Park Service tweet on crowd size vanished, replaced by a picture of a bison.”

Making the Rust Belt Rustier – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“What Reagan did do, however, was blow up the budget deficit with military spending and tax cuts. This drove up interest rates, which drew in foreign capital. The inflow of capital, in turn, led to a stronger dollar, which made U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive. The trade deficit soared — and the long-term decline in the share of manufacturing in overall employment accelerated sharply.

Notably, it was under Reagan that talk of “deindustrialization” and the use of the term “Rust Belt” first became widespread.”