Opinion | A Dummy’s Guide to Democratic Policy Proposals – The New York Times

By Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

March 27, 2019, 290
Cory Booker’s proposal to reduce wealth gaps is one of many ideas being put forward by Democrats.
Credit
John Locher/Associated Press

“We in the news media often whack politicians for not being serious about policy. And then we ignore their policy proposals.

So here, in the spirit of orgiastic wonkishness, is my Dummy’s Guide to Democratic Policy Proposals. I write it because something fascinating is underway: After decades of incrementalism, Democrats are now proposing a litany of exciting big ideas.

Here’s my take:

Child allowances are among the best ideas to boost America’s future. They are used very successfully abroad to reduce child poverty. One proposal would give families with children $250 to $300 per month, in the form of a refundable tax credit. Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan estimates that this would reduce the number of children living in poverty by more than one-third.

This version is called the American Family Act, sponsored by Michael Bennet and Sherrod Brown in the Senate and Rosa DeLauro and Susan DelBene in the House. It is broadly backed by Democrats in the House and the Senate.”

– Opinion | Is Trump Keyser Söze — Or Inspector Clouseau? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

March 28, 2019

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“President Trump speaking to the media after a summary of the Mueller report’s findings was released.
Credit
Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Image
President Trump speaking to the media after a summary of the Mueller report’s findings was released.CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
Maybe we’ve had this all wrong.

Maybe Donald Trump isn’t just some two-bit con artist who lucked his way into the White House thanks to an overconfident opponent. Or a second-rate demagogue with a rat-like instinct for arousing his base’s baser emotions and his enemies’ knee-jerk reactions. Or a dimwit mistaken for an oracle, like some malignant version of Chauncey Gardiner from “Being There.”

Thanks to Robert Mueller, we know he isn’t Russia’s man inside, awaiting coded instruction from his handler in the Kremlin.

Maybe, in fact, Trump is the genius he claims to be, possessed — as he likes to boast — of a “very good brain.”

O.K., I don’t quite believe that. But going forward, it would be wise for all of his inveterate critics in the news media, including me, to treat it as our operating assumption. The alternative is to let him hand us our butts all over again, just as he did by winning the G.O.P. nomination and then the election, and then by presiding over years of robust economic growth.”

Opinion | A Citizens’ Guide to Regulating Big Tech – The New York Times

By Kartik Hosanagar
Mr. Hosanagar is a professor at The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

March 28, 2019
Image
CreditCreditSaul Gravy/Ikon Images, via Getty Images

“This election season, Americans are going to hear a lot about regulating big tech. Senator Elizabeth Warren has already kicked off that debate, and it would be the tone-deaf candidate who wasn’t alert to the increasing anxiety among the public over the power Silicon Valley giants wield. According to a 2018 survey by Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans feel that big tech companies should be regulated more than they are now.

A candidate who fails to address these issues in a meaningful way is not taking these concerns seriously. But how should we, as citizens, evaluate these proposals?

Any effort to regulate big tech will have to address two main issues. The first is consumer protection. When the private sector controls so much of our data, Americans should be able to know who has access to this data and how they use it. The second issue relates to “platform companies,” services that connect two or more sides of a transaction: Google Search connects people with websites, Amazon connects buyers with sellers, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android connect consumers with apps, and so on. The concern is that platforms can build services that compete with third-party services running on their platforms, and can easily give themselves an unfair advantage.

The more visible concern is consumer protection, particularly protections for privacy. Any regulation addressing consumer protection should, first, specify whether consumers have the right to access data that companies store about them and whether firms are allowed to share confidential data with a third party.”

Opinion | Bad Times in Trumpville – by Gail Collins – The New York Times

“Gee, you wake up one morning and the entire political world is transformed.

I know some of you were very sad about the way the Mueller report let Donald Trump off the hook. Even if you secretly doubted that he was actually well-organized enough to run an international conspiracy, it made you depressed to see him looking so happy.

But then he took off on the worst victory lap since — well, do you remember that baseball player who celebrated his grand slam home run by leaping in the air and fracturing a leg?

“We’re not talking about health care right now, but I will,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

He also vowed to make the Republicans “the party of health care.” Great strategy! The Republicans have no health care plan or even a plan about how to get one. Trying to get rid of Obamacare had been their most humiliating failure in the two years they controlled the White House and Congress. Last thing in the world they want to bring up.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT comments
Thank you Gail, magnificent. Very annoying, that reference to cruel April, what are you talking about. With out Google, I’d just be a frustrated illiterate. But I did find something about Thomas Stearns Elliot, who wrote The Wasteland, at PoetryFoundation.org: The Waste Land BY T. S. ELIOT FOR EZRA POUND IL MIGLIOR FABBRO I. The Burial of the Dead April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s, My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free.”
The rest can be found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land but it’s not my cup of tea.
Written in 1922, Elliot was depressed, getting divorced, and shook up by WW 1. Maybe it will be easier to read after lunch. Maybe I have a tin uneducated ear, or in my focus on mitigating climate change, its seems like depressing rubbish. I’d rather read the NYT.

Opinion | People Actually Like the Green New Deal – The New York Times

By Sean McElwee
Mr. McElwee is one of the founders of Data for Progress.

March 27, 2019, 359

Image Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking at a press conference about the Green New Deal, as Senator Ed Markey looks on.CreditCreditPete Marovich for The New York Times

“Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, brought the Green New Deal to a vote in the Senate on Tuesday. He defeated consideration of the plan 57-0, winning over three Democratic senators and one independent who caucuses with the Democrats. The rest of the Democratic caucus voted “present,” in an attempt to confound Mr. McConnell’s strategy, which was to tie down the Democratic Party to an ambitious proposal from its progressive wing. In his mind, this would clearly hurt the Democrats.

President Trump thinks so too. “You look at this Green New Deal — it’s the most preposterous thing,” he told Fox Business last week “Now I don’t want to knock it too much right now because I really hope they keep going forward with it, frankly, because I think it’s going to be very easy to beat.”

But is the Green New Deal really that toxic? My research suggests it’s not.

To begin with, the idea of a Green New Deal did not come out of nowhere. For the past several years, environmental, labor and racial justice organizations have been working toward a new framework for climate policies aimed at ensuring that these policies address the needs of front-line communities, while ensuring that workers in fossil fuel industries still have economic opportunities. In Buffalo, local groups organized to keep the closure of a fossil fuel plant from harming the local economy. In California, groups pushed through SB 535, which dedicates funding from the state’s cap-and-trade program to low-income communities disproportionately affected by climate change. In New York, the Climate and Community Protection Act, a law that mandates emissions reductions and investments in affected communities is the product of a multiyear effort. These achievements all predate the Green New Deal, but they are rooted in a similar goal: to fight for clean air, clean water, decarbonization, racial justice and good jobs at the same time.”

‘Newark’s Original Sin’: The Criminal Justice Education of Cory Booker – The New York Times

By Nick Corasaniti and Stephanie Saul
March 27, 2019, 1 comment
“NEWARK — After football practice one summer evening in 2008, a Pop Warner league coach and two of his players were driving through the Clinton Hill section of Newark when a car swerved and blocked their path. Suddenly six police officers emerged from unmarked vehicles and forced them out of their car at gunpoint.

“I felt like this: Don’t kill me, just send me to jail. Please don’t kill me,” one of the boys, Tony Ivey Jr., then 13, would later say in a videotaped interview.

The officers, members of a narcotics squad, searched the car and found nothing but football equipment. The coach had been taking the boys to get hamburgers.

The episode became known as the case of the Pop Warner Three, and it was one of more than 400 misconduct allegations cited two years later when the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey asked the Justice Department to investigate the Newark police.

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Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, had swept into office in 2006 pledging a safer city through zero tolerance on crime. And while killings actually rose in his first year, over the next three they fell to historic lows. Yet grievances against the police were piling up in the city’s black wards, with allegations of racial profiling, unlawful stops and excessive force. The A.C.L.U. and local activists pressed for reforms, complaining about pushback from Mr. Booker, whose administration was promoting the plunging homicide rate.

And when the A.C.L.U. finally went public with its plea to the Justice Department, the mayor went on WNYC radio, telling an interviewer that the petition was “one of the worst ways” to bring about meaningful change. “We don’t need people who are going to frustrate, undermine and mischaracterize our agency,” he added.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comments.

This is a depressing, complicated story. Maybe Corey Booker wasn’t a total fraud, but he was a reckless coward, unleashing an out of control and over powerful police department on his city, and then claiming successes that weren’t base on accurate data. I can also find reasons to defend the young mayor. It is hard to go up against a police union that might make your life miserable, or even kill you. It is not his fault that there were and are too many guns on the street. I’m not sure I could have done a better job, and I certainly didn’t have the guts to even try.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |
Part Two, On second reading, and with help from my partner, Corey Booker gets big points for admitting and owning his mistake, for hiring a good chief of staff, and then listening to him, and to go public about his conversion to supporting the ACLU of NJ bringing in the Justice Department to oversee an out of control police department.

Opinion | Trump’s Kakistocracy Is Also a Hackistocracy – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“It’s no secret that Donald Trump has appointed a lot of partisan, unqualified hacks to key policy positions. A few months ago my colleague Gail Collins asked readers to help her select Trump’s worst cabinet member. It was a hard choice, because there were so many qualified applicants.

The winner, by the way, was Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. That looks like an even better call now: Ross’s department has reportedly prepared a report declaring that imports of European cars threaten U.S. national security. This is both ludicrous and dangerous. It gives Trump the right to start a new phase in his trade war that would inflict severe economic damage while alienating our allies — and, as a result, undermine national security.

Until recently, however, one agency had seemed immune to the continuing hack invasion: the Federal Reserve, the single institution most crucial to economic policymaking. Trump’s Fed nominees, have, by and large, been sensible, respected economists. But that all changed last week, when Trump said he planned to nominate Stephen Moore for the Fed’s Board of Governors.

Moore is manifestly, flamboyantly unqualified for the position. But there’s a story here that goes deeper than Moore, or even Trump; it’s about the whole G.O.P.’s preference for hucksters over experts, even partisan experts.”

Opinion | We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.” — Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate

“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion and conspiracy in plain sight.” — Adam Schiff, chairman of House Intelligence Committee

“I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” — John Brennan, former C.I.A. director

“The biggest scandal in U.S. history is coming into focus. On Friday Rachel Maddow made it clear. Donald Trump conspired with the enemy.” — Rob Reiner, film director

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Maybe it’s time to declare a national sabbath. Maybe it’s time to step back from the scandalmongering and assess who we are right now.

Democrats might approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. It’s clear that many Democrats made grievous accusations against the president that are not supported by the evidence. It’s clear that people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology. If you call someone a traitor and it turns out you lacked the evidence for that charge, then the only decent thing to do is apologize.

Republicans and the Sean Hannity-style Trumpians might also approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. For two years they’ve been calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. For two years they’ve been spreading the libel that there are no honest brokers in Washington. It’s all a deep-state conspiracy, a swamp. They should apologize for peddling the sort of deep cynicism that undermines our country’s institutions.

And what about the rest of us? What about all the hours we spent speculating about the Mueller report, fantasizing about the Trump ruin or watching and reading speculation about these things? What about the superstructure of scandal politics we have built and live in today?

The sad fact is that Watergate introduced a poison into the American body politic. Richard Nixon’s downfall was just and important, but it opened up the mouthwatering possibility that you don’t need to do the hard work of persuading people to join your side. Instead, you can destroy your foes all at once through scandal.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Dear David Brooks, you can do better than this. Just reading the top comments, and approving them, you sound foolish. First, practice what you preach. I agree there is too much talk about gossip, and not enough about policy. But in this dumb essay, you skip any discussion about policy, and talk only about the history of gossip. And yet, to my disbelief, you seem to equate the real witch hunts against the Clintons, with the stench of corruption and collusion that permeates the Trump family and associates. What do you think of the Green New Deal of Thomas Friedman and Hal Harvey– the four zeros. 1. Zero net energy buildings. 2. Zero waste manufacturing. 3. A zero carbon grid, and 4. Zero emissions transportation?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Stopping Our Sugar & Flour Addictions—How I lost 75 lbs & Kept it Off. | elephant journal

“It is possible to stabilize your weight and not have to pay attention to the next hot “diet of the month.” This is not a gimmick or a sales pitch.

I’m just a girl who struggled with food addiction most of her life and I stumbled across a solution.

A solution that is so simple that it infuriated me that none of my doctors or eating disorder counselors told me about it.

My name is Jenny and I identify as a recovering food addict.

When I put sugar and or flour in my mouth, it sets up a powerful physical craving followed by a mental obsession. Like most addicts, I’ve lied, stole, and hid my using—but, there was no hiding the 75 extra pounds I was carrying around.”

My addiction began when I was about six and continued to progress until I landed in treatment when I was 21-years-old.

Source: Stopping Our Sugar & Flour Addictions—How I lost 75 lbs & Kept it Off. | elephant journal

Opinion | The Case for Expunging Criminal Records – By J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr – The New York Times

By J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr
Professors Prescott and Starr teach at the University of Michigan Law School.

March 20, 2019

Credit
Anthony Russo

“The consequences of a run-in with the law can persist for decades after the formal sentence has been served. People with records face major barriers to employment, housing and education, effectively condemning them to second-class citizenship.

In recent years, criminal justice reform efforts have increasingly focused on finding policy tools that can lower these barriers. The most powerful potential lever is the expungement of criminal convictions, which seals them from public view, removes them from databases, and neutralizes most of their legal effects.

At least 36 states have laws allowing expungement, but they tend to be narrow in scope. Whether it’s allowed typically depends on the number of convictions and the type of crime; people usually have to wait years after completing their sentences and go through an elaborate process to have their records cleared.

In the past year there’s been an explosion of activity on this front, however. In late February, an especially ambitious bill was introduced in the California Legislature, allowing automatic expungement of misdemeanors and minor felonies after completion of a sentence. In Utah, an automatic expungement bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. These developments follow on the heels of the first major automatic expungement law, which passed in Pennsylvania last summer.”