It’s High Time for Ticks- Which Are Spreading Diseases Farther – The New York Times

“With the expansion of the suburbs and a push to conserve wooded areas, deer and mice populations are thriving. They provide ample blood meals for ticks and help spread the pests to new regions.

Originally from the Southeast, the lone star tick, for example, is heading north; it can now be found in 1,300 counties in 39 states. The blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, is expanding its territory, too. In a recent study, Dr. Eisen reported a nearly 45 percent increase since 1998 in the number of counties with blacklegged ticks.”

The Kook- ‘the Mooch’ and the Loot – by Charles Blow – NYT

“Then there was the Washington Post report: “Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut” Mueller’s Russia investigation, “building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.”

The Post continued: “Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people.”

Chuck Schumer: A Better Deal for American Workers – The New York Times

“. . . First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.

Over the next several months, Democrats will lay out a series of policies that, if enacted, will make these three things a reality. We’ve already proposed creating jobs with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan; increasing workers’ incomes by lifting the minimum wage to $15; and lowering household costs by providing paid family and sick leave.”

Nice op-ed by Chuck Schumer. The comments tear it to shreds, perhaps unfairly. He might be right to not champion a single payer health system, since the country is so divided on the subject. Is it smart not to mention climate change?

I agree with commentators frustrated at the lack of mention for even a plan to overturn Citizen’s United, but in Schumer’s defense, you have to capture both houses to control future Supreme court appointments.

If only I had a crystal ball. Is it better to run by following the crowd, like Trump, telling people what they want to hear, right or wrong, or to lead, and reach for a mandate worth fighting for. The answer is probably neither. You must pick your battles, and cave when necessary. You have to want to win as badly as your opponents,even if you won’t stoop to their level of dirty tricks.

I wonder, if the Democrats announced they would support what ever horrible health plan the Republicans put forth, just to let them show the country the value of their ideas and leadership, what would happen? They would have to insist that the reforms take place a year before the next election. Wouldn’t the Republican health plan help sweep the Republicans out of office in the next election?

California Shows How States Can Lead on Climate Change – The New York Times

“California, which has long been a pioneer in fighting climate change, renewed its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions last week by extending, to 2030, its cap-and-trade program, which effectively puts a price on emissions. It’s a bold, bipartisan commitment that invites similarly ambitious policies from other states, and it sends a strong signal to the world that millions of Americans regard with utmost seriousness a threat the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge, let alone reckon with.”

“Attention now turns to the Northeast, where nine states, including New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, are part of what is known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which, like California’s effort, is a market-based cap-and-trade program that goes beyond state boundaries. So far, R.G.G.I., as it known for short, has helped reduce emissions from power plants in the region by 40 percent between 2008 and 2016, according to the Acadia Center, a research and public interest group. States are now negotiating the future of the program beyond 2020.”

Don’t Let Detroit’s Revival Rest on an Injustice – By BERNADETTE ATUAHENE – NYT

“Between 2011 and 2015, one in four properties in Detroit was foreclosed on because the owners owed property tax. The city has one of the highest property tax foreclosure rates since the Great Depression. More troubling, this is a result of illegal property tax assessments and inflated property tax bills that many Detroit homeowners canot pay.”

“Michigan’s Constitution, legislation and case law clearly state that properties cannot be assessed at more than 50 percent of their market value. But the findings of a study I recently wrote with a colleague, Timothy Hodge, show that between 2009 and 2015, the city assessed as many as 85 percent of Detroit homes at rates that violated Michigan law. We also found that Detroit subjected lower-valued homes to unconstitutional assessments more frequently than higher-valued homes.”


Republicans Can’t Pass Bills – by David Brooks – NYT

“Over the past few decades Republicans cast off the freedom-as-capacity tendency. They became, exclusively, the party of freedom as detachment. They became the Get Government Off My Back Party, the Leave Us Alone Coalition, the Drain the Swamp Party, the Don’t Tread on Me Party.

Philosophically you can embrace or detest this shift, but one thing is indisputable: It has been a legislative disaster. The Republican Party has not been able to pass a single important piece of domestic legislation under this philosophic rubric. Despite all the screaming and campaigns, all the government shutdown fiascos, the G.O.P. hasn’t been able to eliminate a single important program or reform a single important entitlement or agency.”

Great column David Brooks, thank you.

Here is a comment I fully endorse.


New England 3 hours ago

I often disagree with Brooks, but this … this is a great column.

There is nothing “freeing” about living in terror that you will lose your house, savings and everything else if you get sick and/or that you will lose access to healthcare if you are unemployed. Brooks gets that, while the Ryans and McConnells of the Congress do not (or don’t care).

The GOP’s frantic efforts to pass a health care bill that alarms most Americans (and a CBO currently run by a Republican appointee) and that they are not even willing to debate in an honest and organized manner exposes the immorality at the heart of today’s GOP leadership. At this point, McConnell seems to be trying to confuse his caucus into voting for something that will be terrible for Americans, and he refuses to work with nearly half the Senate simply because they are not in his party. It is always politics with him, never actually governing in the interest of the people – history will not judge this man kindly.”

Kamala Harris and Rand Paul: To Shrink Jails- Let’s Reform Bail – The New York Times

“Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old New Yorker, was arrested on charges of stealing a backpack in 2010. To ensure he would show up for trial, and because of a previous offense, the judge set bail at $3,000. But his family could not afford to pay. So Mr. Browder was sent to jail on Rikers Island to await his day in court. He spent the next three years there before the charges were dismissed. Haunted by his experience, Mr. Browder hanged himself in 2015.

Our justice system was designed with a promise: to treat all people equally. Yet that doesn’t happen for many of the 450,000 Americans who sit in jail today awaiting trial because they cannot afford to pay bail.

Whether someone stays in jail or not is far too often determined by wealth or social connections, even though just a few days behind bars can cost people their job, home, custody of their children — or their life.”

Yes, and here is an excellent comment I support:

Geri Padilla Huntington Beach, CA 1 hour ago

It is heartening to read about a bipartisan bill that addresses the inequities of the current bail system. Thank you to Kamala Harris and Rand Paul for their efforts on behalf of the poor who can’t afford bail, not to mention the exorbitant cost of maintaining so many awaiting trial.

Reply 30 Recommended

Is the News Media an ‘Existential’ Threat? – by Brett Stevens – NYT

“To err is human. To tweet is to regret. When I decided last month to leave Twitter, it was in part because I knew that, while I couldn’t avoid the former, I could at least escape the latter. Not everything that pops into the heads of smart people is smart. Still less of it needs to be shared.

“Silence is better for the wise, and how much more so for fools.” I’m sure you know the proverb.

So it was with a grain of salt that I read your Bastille Day tweet:

The news media in the West pose a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia does.

It sounded, frankly, like the kind of involuntary mental wet burp many of us have at moments of peak ideological irritation — for conservatives, often while reading the editorial pages of this newspaper.”

Bravo. Brilliant column. Maybe conservatism isn’t dead afterall.

Thank you for writing: “For us, on the other hand, “the West” is the liberal-democratic tradition; the one most succinctly expressed in the Declaration of Independence. “All men are created equal.” “The consent of the governed.” “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” All the rest, from Exodus to Gettysburg, is commentary.

That’s why the intelligent conservative has no time either for illiberalism, often of the right, or relativism, typically of the left.

And that’s why wise conservatives take the threat from Vladimir Putin seriously. He is the champion and most insidious exponent of both. Through the development of a crypto-fascist ideology that combines ferocious ethnic chauvinism and revanchism, economic corporatism, a dash of religious traditionalism, and a personality cult, he is the model for aspiring autocrats everywhere, from Hungary to Turkey to the Philippines.”

Here is a comment I support fully:

Christine McM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 6 hours ago

“To be indifferent to every claim of truth or fact is the ultimate assertion of power. It is to say: Nothing restrains me, not what I promised yesterday, not what I am saying to you now, not what I might do tomorrow.”

Thank you Brett Stephens for capturing precisely how Putin and Trump warp the difference between truth and lies. To proclaim that the press is the problem when it’s anything but these days is not only irresponsible, but cowardly–it’s giving a certain strain of Trump conservatives exactly what they want to hear.

This paper did a good piece on how the far right is suddenly in love with all things Russian. Yesterday, I challenged a poster who wrote disgustedly about “all the focus on Russia.” I told him his view of history was off, and that he needed to do some research, which is easy enough to find.

Dictators aren’t our friends. Dictators aren’t looking out for the people—they are focused solely on their own hold over power.

If you look at the desperate moves of the increasingly cornered and unhinged Donald Trump, you’ll easily see he’s running out of bright shiny object with which to distract.

The most dangerous of which, is pushing the lie about “fake news.” How ironic that the man who hates a free press, takes advantage of it to give a rambling, self-destructive ranting interview to this same free press.

What a desperate move.”

Reply 107 Recommended

The Democratic Party’s Billion-Dollar Mistake – The New York Times

“The Democratic Party is at risk of repeating the billion-dollar blunder that helped create its devastating losses of 2016. With its obsessive focus on wooing voters who supported Donald Trump, it is neglecting the cornerstone of its coalition and failing to take the steps necessary to win back the House of Representatives and state houses in 2018.

In the 2016 election, the Democratic Party committees that support Senate and House candidates and allied progressive organizations spent more than $1.8 billion. The effectiveness of that staggering amount of money, however, was undermined by a strategic error: prioritizing the pursuit of wavering whites over investing in and inspiring African-American voters, who made up 24 percent of Barack Obama’s winning coalition in 2012.”

Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure From Utility Lobbyists – The New York Times

“Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900 percent by one estimate.That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2 percent, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

A number of factors are driving the reversal, from saturation in markets like California to financial woes at several top solar panel makers.But the decline has also coincided with a concerted and well-funded lobbying campaign by traditional utilities, which have been working in state capitals across the country to reverse incentives for homeowners to install solar panels.

Utilities argue that rules allowing private solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid at the retail price — a practice known as net metering — can be unfair to homeowners who do not want or cannot afford their own solar installations.”