Opinion | Why the Latest Layoffs Are Devastating to Democracy – By Farhad Manjoo – The New York Times

Fifteen percent of BuzzFeed’s employees, including dozens of journalists, are losing their jobs.
Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Farhad Manjoo
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 30, 2019, 375

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Fifteen percent of BuzzFeed’s employees, including dozens of journalists, are losing their jobs.CreditCreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images
Working in digital media is like trying to build a fort out of marshmallows on a foundation made of marbles in a country ruled by capricious and tyrannical warring robots. I’ve toiled in this business for nearly 20 years, and even in the best of times it has been a squeamish and skittering ride, the sort of career you’d counsel your kids to avoid in favor of something less volatile and more enduring — bitcoin mining, perhaps.

It might be tempting, then, to dismiss the recent spate of media-biz layoffs as unfortunate but otherwise not concerning. Two hundred workers, including dozens of journalists, were given the slip last week at BuzzFeed. About 800 people are losing their jobs in the media division of Verizon, the telephone company that owns Yahoo, HuffPost, TechCrunch and many other “content brands.” And Gannett, the once-mighty newspaper empire that owns USA Today and hundreds of smaller outlets — from The Bergen County Record to The Zanesville Times Recorder — is letting go of 400.

But it would be a mistake to regard these cuts as the ordinary chop of a long-roiling digital media sea. Instead, they are a devastation.”

David Lindsay: This is so complicated. I agree with many commenters who do not accept Manjoo’s thesis as to how important Buzz Feed is. I am very concerned about local independent news organizations though, and Facebook and Google might be major reasons for their demise. Amazon is guilty of using its monopolistic power to force companies like Diapers.com to sell to them, when they didn’t want to. Amazon should be broken up. Facebook has been guilty of letting some of their advertizers hijack our democracy. Facebook should be forced to let go of Instagram and WhatsApp. Google is guilty of putting their interests at the top of their searchs. Perhaps that problem can be fixed with Federal and international regulations.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. His duo performs a folk music and readings concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | Justices Put Gun Limits in the Cross Hairs – The New York Times

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CreditCreditJim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency
Is there a more enigmatic and oddly phrased passage in the Constitution than the Second Amendment?

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. ItBy The Editorial Board

Jan. 30, 2019, 418 c

“A well-regulated militia” — there’s no consensus on what this meant 200 years ago, much less now — “being necessary to the security of a free state” — were the framers talking about collective defense or self-defense? — “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” — bear arms like a soldier? — “shall not be infringed.”

Yet, despite serious questions about the breadth of the amendment’s protections, at least four Supreme Court justices seem ready to consider what had until recently been a maximalist position: that it guarantees Americans a broadly unrestricted right to gun ownership.

For 217 years, the opacity of the Second Amendment kept the Supreme Court from affirming that its text gave Americans as individuals, not as militia members, the right to have a gun. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger called that claim “one of the greatest pieces of fraud … on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

The con seemed to have worked. In 2008 and then in 2010, the court ruled that, within certain limits, the government could not prohibit people from having handguns in their homes for self-protection, declaring that the amendment guaranteed that right for Americans as individuals. is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.”

DL:  Yes, sigh. cough.

Here is the top comment, I endorsed:

ML
Boston

I am so exhausted. Forget the vagaries of language. What mass delusion are we in the grip of? Living in the U.S. today, you and I are 25 times more likely to die from gun violence than in any other high income country in the world. 52 women a month are shot to death by an intimate partner. 100 people a day die from guns (this figure includes suicides, which, if you don’t consider suicide by gun to be gun violence, tell me what it is). Every day in the U.S. — every day — toddlers and children and teenagers pick up guns they think are toys, pick up guns they don’t know are loaded, pick up guns — and shoot themselves or their sister or friend or mother. Children. Every day. There are too many guns at large in the U.S. More guns than people. That’s hundreds of millions of guns. Twice in my life I have had people I don’t know point guns at me and rob me. No, I wasn’t in a bad neighborhood. Once I was doing my homework in my bedroom. Both times, I was left with the questions — why was it so easy for this person to get a gun? Why are there SO MANY GUNS? Meanwhile, since Sandyhook, since Parkland, working on gun violence prevention, I have met so many parents who have lost children it makes me want to throw up each time someone else starts telling me their story. It is the same story. I want to scream in these supreme court justices’ faces. What do they want? What do they want? What do they expect? What is the matter with the citizens and the leaders of this country?

Opinion | Family Ties at the Supreme Court – By Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

Ginni Thomas at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2017. She recently met with President Trump to discuss why transgender people shouldn’t serve in the military.

By Linda Greenhouse
Contributing Opinion Writer

Jan. 31, 2019, 231 c

“Let Ginni be Ginni.

That was my first thought upon seeing the headline in The Times this past weekend: “Trump Meets With Hard-Right Group Led by Ginni Thomas.” Ginni Thomas — or Virginia Lamp, as I knew her years ago when she was a smart lawyer-lobbyist working for the United States Chamber of Commerce against passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act — is married to the Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

These days, she is also an activist on the far-right fringe of the Republican Party. In recent months, she has denounced the student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting who are campaigning for gun control as “dangerous to the survival of our nation” (in a later deleted Facebook post). In a speech bestowing an award on Sean Hannity, the Fox News personality, she warned fellow conservatives against being “complicit as the left moves its forces across the country.” According to the Times account of last week’s White House meeting, to which she brought fellow members of a group called Groundswell, the topics discussed included why women and transgender people should not be permitted to serve in the military and how same-sex marriage is damaging the country.

It hardly needs saying that modern families are complicated. A few administrations ago, it was tempting to conclude that presidential siblings had an unusual proclivity for getting into embarrassing scrapes. The day when wives of powerful men were expected to do little more than serve tea and look decorative has, thankfully, passed. “We have our separate professional lives,” Ms. Thomas said during the 2000 presidential election stalemate, when asked about her work for the Heritage Foundation compiling résumés for a potential Bush administration while the Supreme Court was deciding the outcome of the election. (She said her effort was bipartisan.)

But while my feminist sensibilities make me wary of suggesting that Ginni Thomas should not be completely free to embrace her causes and live her life, there’s something troublesome about the unbounded nature of her public advocacy, at least for those of us who still care about the Supreme Court. It’s hard to think of a more delicate moment for the court, pressed at every turn by an administration that seems to regard it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the White House and that has driven the normally reticent chief justice to declare, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges.” Chief Justice John Roberts did not say “justices.” He didn’t have to. The question now is whether his colleagues on the bench — his own and all the others — will show him to be right, or sadly naïve.”

Lovely piece by Linda Greenhouse. Here is my favorit comment as far as I read them:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“It’s hard to think of a more delicate moment for the court, pressed at every turn by an administration that seems to regard it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the White House and that has driven the normally reticent chief justice to declare, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges.”” Yes, Ginni Thomas seems to have only broken laws of good taste, but consider that within the growing body of evidence that “norms-busting” is threatening our social fabric. Civility and propriety have gone missing in our politics, media, and culture. I’m beginning to wonder if America as we knew it before Mr. Trump foisted himself 24/7 on our national consciousness will ever return? My problem with Ginni Thomas is the double standard that Congress and media consensus seems to apply to behavior that gets condoned in Republicans who would never allow the same if done by Democrats. Ms. Greenhouse says, let “Ginni be Ginni.” But when this opinionated lawyer-lobbyist throws herself at the White House, espousing religious and judicial views she has no business pushing, I think the American public deserve to know why. Because of her husband, Ginni grabs access to the president none of us have, despite our own strong views on the subject of civil liberties for all. Maybe she broke no rules in the strictest legal sense, but she sure has broken the boundaries of fairness.

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren Does Teddy Roosevelt – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2019, 633 c

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Elizabeth Warren at a campaign event in Iowa early this month.CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

“America invented progressive taxation. And there was a time when leading American politicians were proud to proclaim their willingness to tax the wealthy, not just to raise revenue, but to limit excessive concentration of economic power.

“It is important,” said Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, “to grapple with the problems connected with the amassing of enormous fortunes” — some of them, he declared, “swollen beyond all healthy limits.”

Today we are once again living in an era of extraordinary wealth concentrated in the hands of a few people, with the net worth of the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans almost equal to that of the bottom 90 percent combined. And this concentration of wealth is growing; as Thomas Piketty famously argued in his book “Capital in the 21st Century,” we seem to be heading toward a society dominated by vast, often inherited fortunes.

So can today’s politicians rise to the challenge? Well, Elizabeth Warren has released an impressive proposal for taxing extreme wealth. And whether or not she herself becomes the Democratic nominee for president, it says good things about her party that something this smart and daring is even part of the discussion.”

Opinion | Trump’s Wall of Shame – By Jamelle Bouie – The New York Times

By Jamelle Bouie
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 24, 2019, 1267
Credit
Guillermo Arias/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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CreditCreditGuillermo Arias/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
This is Jamelle Bouie’s debut column.

“The wall of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency has always operated both as a discrete proposal — an actual structure to be built under his leadership — and as a symbol with a clear meaning. Whether praised by its supporters or condemned by its opponents, the wall is a stand-in for the larger promise of broad racial (and religious) exclusion and domination.

It’s no surprise, then, that some Americans use “Build the wall” as a racist chant, much like the way they invoke the president’s name. And it’s also why, despite the pain and distress of the extended government shutdown, Democrats are right to resist any deal with the White House that includes funding for its construction.

That’s not to say there aren’t practical reasons for Democrats to resist the proposals on hand. The president calls his most recent bid a major compromise, but its headline provision — protections for immigrants covered by either Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status — are short-term and limited. It also puts a cap on the number of Central American migrant children and teenagers who can receive asylum, requiring them to apply in their home countries, while also eliminating automatic court hearings for minors who arrive at the border in order to streamline the deportation process. Together with its $5.7 billion for “the wall,” it’s less a compromise than a near capitulation to the president’s vision for immigration policy — a vision he could not get through Congress when he had Republican majorities in both chambers. A border wall also just won’t work — erecting a barrier does nothing to solve the political conflicts and economic pressures that drive migration to the United States.

Agreeing to this deal — or any deal beyond a straightforward bill to end the shutdown — would only validate the president’s extortion tactics, adopted after conservatives pressured him at the end of last year to reject a so-called clean bipartisan bill to fund the government. To agree to wall funding in these circumstances would guarantee a repeat performance the next time President Trump wants to secure a legislative “win” without the difficult work of negotiating with Congress, much less his opposition.
But the paramount reason for resisting this deal, and any other, is what it would mean symbolically to erect the wall or any portion of it. Like Trump himself, it would represent a repudiation of the pluralism and inclusivity that characterizes America at its best. It would stand as a lasting reminder of the white racial hostility surging through this moment in American history, a monument to this particular drive to preserve the United States as a white man’s country.In fact, you can almost think of the wall as a modern-day Confederate monument, akin to those erected during a similar but far more virulent period of racist aggression in the first decades of the 20th century. Built as shrines to white racial dominance as much as memorials for any particular soldier, they were part of a larger, national drive to uphold white supremacy against what one nativist thinker termed a “rising tide of color.” “
David Lindsay:
Welcome Jamelle Bouis. Well done. Fabulous explanation. Best I’ve heard in explaining this damned nusissance of a wall.

Opinion | Howard Schultz- Please Don’t Run for President – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

Michelle Goldberg
By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2019, 1095
Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, says he is considering running for president as a “centrist independent.”
Credit
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Unlike Donald Trump, the former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is a genuinely successful businessman who built a company that’s become part of the daily lives of people across America. For this, those of us who are horrified by Trump’s relentless grifting should be grateful. It gives us something concrete to boycott should Schultz decide to launch a narcissistic spoiler campaign for president.

In an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Schultz decried “extremes on both sides” and said he’s considering a run for president as a “centrist independent.” He hasn’t yet made up his mind, and perhaps the overwhelmingly negative reaction from almost all segments of the Democratic Party, as well as some NeverTrump Republicans, will dissuade him. There’s a danger, though, that the reality-distorting effects of being a billionaire will warp his judgment, convincing him that his business acumen is transferable to the realm of politics. If so, he could end up helping Donald Trump get re-elected.

Shultz appears to share the conviction, endemic among American elites, that the country hungers for a candidate who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. After all, if you’re rich, you probably know a lot of people like this. “I’m a socially liberal, fiscally conservative centrist who would love to vote for a rational Democrat and get Trump out of the White House,” a chief executive of a major bank, who wanted to remain anonymous, recently told Politico, lamenting Michael Bloomberg’s poor odds in a Democratic primary.

But this frustrated executive’s politics aren’t widely shared by people who haven’t been to Davos. In a 2017 study, the political scientist Lee Drutman plotted the 2016 electorate along two axes, one dealing with social issues and identity, the other with economics and trade. Only 3.8 percent of voters fell into the socially liberal/economically conservative quadrant.”

David Lindsay:

“Only 3.8 percent of voters fell into the socially liberal/economically conservative quadrant.”   That would include me. I didn’t realize I was in such a small group of smart, compassionate people. But for me, economic conservativism is not agains the New Deal, or the Great Society, or the New Green Deal that includes population control.

Why a Border Wall Could Mean Trouble for Wildlife – By John Schwartz – The New York Times

John Schwartz
By John Schwartz
Jan. 24, 2019

“As the fight continues over President Trump’s demand to extend the border wall between the United States and Mexico, one thing is clear: Whatever the wall’s effect on immigration might be, it would have an impact on the environment of the borderlands.

About 650 miles of border wall already exist along the 2,000-mile boundary between the two countries. Most of it has been built on federal land where the terrain provides no natural barrier. Mr. Trump has called for a 1,000-mile wall, which would extend farther across land that includes important habitats for wildlife.

A Customs and Border Protection policy says the agency “will integrate environmental stewardship and sustainability practices into operations and activities.” But Congress has given the agency the power to waive environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act. Such laws could require the government to produce an in-depth environmental impact analysis of a new project, develop less-damaging alternatives and perform environmental monitoring after construction.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection was unavailable because of the partial government shutdown, a result of the political standoff over funding for the wall.

An article published last year in the journal Bioscience, which has been signed by more than 2,900 scientists, said the administration’s plan would “threaten some of the continent’s most biologically diverse regions” by blocking free movement of many species and contributing to flooding. More than 1,500 native animal and plant species would be affected by the wall, the paper said, including 62 listed as endangered or vulnerable.

Here are some of the possible effects that an extended border wall could have on wildlife.

Animals would be cut off
An extended border wall would impede the movement of many species and would put creatures already under pressure in peril.”

Opinion | Why Trump Will Lose in 2020 – By Rachel Bitecofer – The New York Times

By Rachel Bitecofer
Dr. Bitecofer is a professor of political science at Christopher Newport University.

Jan. 24, 2019, 1336

“With several major Democratic primary candidates having declared, the palace intrigue of America’s 2020 presidential election is already in nearly full swing. But what if I were to tell you that barring a significant unforeseen shock to the system, the outcome of 2020 is already set in stone?

The high levels of hyperpartisanship and polarization in the electorate have profoundly affected the political behavior of Americans and, by extension, made the outcome of our elections highly predictable.

Always powerful, partisanship has become the be-all and end-all for American voters. With these political dynamics, a person accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girls and young women can run for and win upward of 90 percent of his party’s vote — as the Republican Roy Moore did, according to exit polls, in the special Senate election in Alabama in 2017.

Yet a key aspect of polarization has been somewhat overlooked: negative partisanship. Voters with this attitude are mobilized not by love of their own party so much as by hatred of the opposition party. Negative partisanship especially benefits the party that doesn’t hold the presidency, because out-party voters find themselves living in a world where their political preferences are under constant assault, or at least appear to be so.”

Pete Buttigieg- Mayor of South Bend- Ind.- Joins Democratic 2020 Race – By Alexander Burns – The New York Times

By Alexander Burns
Jan. 23, 2019

“Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., announced on Wednesday that he was entering the Democratic presidential primary, embarking on a long-shot campaign that may test the appeal of a youthful, Midwestern profile over more traditional qualifications for the presidency.

In an email to potential supporters, Mr. Buttigieg (he pronounces it BOOT-edge-edge) said he was forming an exploratory committee and cast himself as a candidate of the future, stressing his generational identity and calling for policies “untethered to the politics of the past” on issues like climate and economic opportunity.

“What will America look like in 2054, when I reach the age of the current president?” Mr. Buttigieg said. “How will we look back on 2020?”

[Follow the Democratic presidential field with our new candidate tracker]

He also released an introductory video.

Pete Buttigieg

@PeteButtigieg
I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future. Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?

Join the team at http://www.peteforamerica.com .

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A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Buttigieg was a consultant at McKinsey before entering politics.