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.

Copenhagen Wants to Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change – The New York Times

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By Somini Sengupta      Photographs by Charlotte de la Fuente
March 25, 2019,   189

COPENHAGEN — Can a city cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions?

Copenhagen intends to, and fast. By 2025, this once-grimy industrial city aims to be net carbon neutral, meaning it plans to generate more renewable energy than the dirty energy it consumes.

Here’s why it matters to the rest of the world: Half of humanity now lives in cities, and the vast share of planet-warming gases come from cities. The big fixes for climate change need to come from cities too. They are both a problem and a potential source of solutions.

The experience of Copenhagen, home to 624,000 people, can show what’s possible, and what’s tough, for other urban governments on a warming planet.

The mayor, Frank Jensen, said cities “can change the way we behave, the way we are living, and go more green.” His city has some advantages. It is small, it is rich and its people care a lot about climate change.

via Copenhagen Wants to Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change – The New York Times

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 | Well- Socialism Couldn’t Give Us Trump – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

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By Gail Collins
Opinion Columnist

March 20, 2019

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When Donald Trump defaulted on a loan for Trump International Hotel in Chicago, he sued Deutsche Bank, which had lent him the money.CreditCreditDavid Kasnic for The New York Times
Department of Irony: Republicans can’t stop howling about socialism. But nobody makes capitalism look worse than Donald Trump.

The president’s party is trying to set up the 2020 election as a war against the S-word. “America will never be a socialist country,” Trump announced in his last State of the Union speech. At a big gathering of conservatives, Mike Pence warned that “Medicare for all” and the Green New Deal were “the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations … over the past century. That system is socialism.”

There have certainly been socialist disaster cases around the world, although the Republican definition seems to include everyplace that has universal health coverage. But the magic of the marketplace can get you into plenty of trouble, too. For a good example of when the system doesn’t work, just look at Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, which has given him about $2 billion in loans over the years. Two billion dollars to a guy whose major financial talent seems to be defaulting.

The Times’s David Enrich took us through the story this week. It starts in the late 1990s when Deutsche Bank was a kind of minor league player who wanted to be cool and get into U.S. commercial real estate lending in a big way. Where better to start than Trump? He owned stuff.

via Opinion | Well, Socialism Couldn’t Give Us Trump – The New York Times

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.”

Opinion | New Zealand Shows the U.S. What Leadership Looks Like – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

March 20, 2019, 777

Students gathered for a gun control rally at the Capitol last Thursday, a day before the deadly shooting in New Zealand.
Credit
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“When a terrorist massacred 50 people at two New Zealand mosques last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern immediately grasped the nettle. “I can tell you one thing right now,” she told a news conference. “Our gun laws will change.”

That’s what effective leadership looks like. New Zealand’s cabinet has now agreed in principle to overhaul those laws, experts are reviewing ways to make the country safer from firearms and, Ardern promised, “within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms.”

Contrast that with the United States, where just since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (1.45 million, including murders, suicides and accidents) than died in all the wars in American history (1.4 million). More Americans die from guns every 10 weeks than died in the entire Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined, yet we still don’t have gun safety rules as rigorous as New Zealand’s even before the mosques were attacked.

The N.R.A. (not to be confused with the vast majority of gun owners) will turn to its old smoke-and-mirrors standby, arguing that the killer’s hate, not his guns and bullets, were the real problem.”

Opinion |  The Democrats’ Complexity Problem – by Tim Wu – The New York Times

“One bright area in these dark days of American politics has been a blossoming of bold and interesting progressive policy ideas, such as wealth taxes, postal banking (offering basic financial services to customers who might not otherwise have access to them) and breaking up the giants of the tech industry. In the spirit of fresh starts, progressives should now confront an even more basic challenge: their complexity problem.

In recent decades progressives have not prioritized making policies and programs easy for most Americans to understand, use and benefit from. Fixing this problem will mean overcoming a streak of perfectionism and a certain intellectual defensiveness, but it must be done if progressives are to make government popular again.

The Affordable Care Act is a good example of the complexity problem. Yes, it was an important policy achievement, and yes, many of its problems can be rightly blamed on industry resistance and Republican efforts to dismantle it.

But the act is also exceptionally hard to understand and discouragingly daunting to make use of. An emphasis on “choice” and “transparency” resulted in a law that only a rational-choice theorist could love. The act made health insurance more complicated, not less, which is one reason that such a high percentage of medical bills go to paying administrative costs, and why the Affordable Care Act is much less popular than it could be.

It used to be said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Today she’s a liberal who tried to pay a babysitter without breaking the law. It is admirable that Democrats try to tackle society’s thorniest problems with the often unwieldy tools of government, but that is not an excuse for programs that are too complex for their own good.

The truth is that good public policy can actually be elegant and simple to understand, even when the social problem that it’s addressing is complex. Social Security, Medicare, bans on indoor smoking, the “do not call” list (when it worked) and public libraries are examples of government solutions that are easy to understand and to benefit from.

Avoidance of complexity and minimizing choices are hallmarks of good design, as we have learned from the technological revolution in user interfaces. The age of impossible-to-use computers and incomprehensible TV remote controls has given way to the sleek and intuitive interfaces offered by pioneers like Steve Jobs of Apple. What progressives most need now is not more brains, but better policy designers.”

No Pipelines- No Service: Con Ed Cuts Off New Gas Hookups – By Debra West – The New York Times

By Debra West
March 21, 2019

YONKERS — “Across the suburbs north of New York City, clusters of luxury towers are rising around commuter rail stations, designed to lure young workers seeking easy access to Manhattan. In all, 16,000 apartments and condominiums are in the works in more than a dozen towns, along with spaces for restaurants and shops.

But the boom unfolding in Westchester County is under threat — not from any not-in-my-backyard opposition or a slumping real estate market.

Instead, it is coming from something unexpected: a lack of natural gas.

Con Edison, the region’s main utility, says its existing network of pipelines cannot satisfy an increasing demand for the fuel.

As a result, the utility has taken the extreme step of imposing a moratorium on new gas hookups in a large swath of Westchester, including for residential buildings planned in Yonkers, White Plains and New Rochelle. The only other places in the country with similar restrictions are in Massachusetts, gas industry officials said.”

My Halloween email led to a campus firestorm — and a troubling lesson about self-censorship – By Erika Christakis – Washington Post

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     October 28, 2016
Erika Christakis is an early-childhood educator and the

By Erika Christakisauthor of “The Importance of Being Little.”

The right to speak freely may be enshrined in some of our nation’s great universities, but the culture of listening needs repair. That is the lesson I learned a year ago, when I sent an email urging Yale University students to think critically about an official set of guidelines on costumes to avoid at Halloween.

I had hoped to generate a reflective conversation among students: What happens when one person’s offense is another person’s pride? Should a costume-wearer’s intent or context matter? Can we always tell the difference between a mocking costume and one that satirizes ignorance? In what circumstances should we allow — or punish — youthful transgression?

“I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation,” I wrote, in part. “I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.”

via My Halloween email led to a campus firestorm — and a troubling lesson about self-censorship – The Washington Post

Opinion | A ‘Disgusting’ Yale Professor Moves On – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

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David Lindsay: I am a graduate of Yale College, and this story is embarrassing, especially what happend to the spouse.

By Frank Bruni
Opinion Columnist

March 19, 2019

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“The bright side has been denied the attention it deserves,” writes Nicholas Christakis.
Credit
Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

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“The bright side has been denied the attention it deserves,” writes Nicholas Christakis.CreditCreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times
An intellectual rock star, Nicholas Christakis has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard and, since 2013, Yale. He has done trailblazing work — distilled in a TED talk, of course — on how our social networks shape us. All of the most esteemed academies that validate scholars’ brilliance have validated his. In 2009, Time magazine put him on its list of 100 most influential people.

But to many Americans, he is best known not for what he has accomplished but for what he absorbed: taunts and insults from furious Yale students who swarmed him in a campus courtyard one day. “You should not sleep at night!” one of them screeched, as he miraculously kept his cool, a mute punching bag. “You are disgusting!”

Perhaps you saw the video. It became a viral sensation in the fall of 2015, Exhibit A in the tension, on so many campuses, between free expression and many minority students’ pleas for an atmosphere in which they feel fully respected and safe. Christakis’s wife, Erika, who also taught at Yale back then, had circulated a memo in which she questioned a university edict against culturally insensitive Halloween costumes, suggesting that students could police themselves and should have both the freedom to err and the strength to cope with offense. She wrote that her husband concurred.

And all hell broke loose. Hundreds of students signed an open letter denouncing her and hundreds demanded that the couple be punished. There were protests. And when, in that courtyard, Christakis apologized for any pain that the memo had caused but refused to disavow its content, he was pilloried.

via Opinion | A ‘Disgusting’ Yale Professor Moves On – The New York Times