Lessons From a Renters’ Utopia – The New York Times

“When Eva Schachinger married at 22, she applied for public housing. Luckily, she lived in Vienna, which has some of the best public housing in the world. It was 1968. Eva was a teacher, and her husband, Klaus-Peter, was an accountant for the city’s public-transportation system. She grew up in a public-housing complex in the center of the city, where her grandmother, who cared for her from 6 in the morning until 6 at night, lived in one of five buildings arranged around a courtyard. Eva played all day with friends from the complex.”

By Jedediah Britton-Purdy | The Courts Should Be More Political, Not Less – The New York Times

Mr. Britton-Purdy is a law professor at Duke and the author of seven books on American democracy.

“DURHAM, N.C. — The details are all too familiar: Last fall, an election in North Carolina flipped the balance of the State Supreme Court from Democrats to Republicans, and in less than six months, the new conservative majority had reversed a decision from last December and ruled that the legislature can gerrymander election maps with no constitutional limit. Another episode of political hardball. Another example of Republicans pushing institutions to their limits to keep power.

In a straight count, North Carolina voters are almost perfectly evenly divided between the two political parties: Both senators are Republicans, Democrats hold the offices of governor and attorney general, and presidential elections are decided by margins as slim as tens of thousands of votes. But in practice North Carolina is ruled by a Republican legislature that has majorities big enough to override the governor’s veto. That legislature is now looking to ban abortion after 12 weeks, abolish tenure for new hires in the University of North Carolina system and redraw congressional maps to give Republicans several new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

David Firestone | Can Brandon Presley Help Mississippi Break from the Past? – The New York Times

Mr. Firestone is a member of the editorial board.

It’s been 23 years since a Democrat was elected governor of Mississippi and 41 years since a Democrat was elected one of the state’s U.S. senators. The Republican lock on the state — along with the policies and noxious traditions that have kept it in the basement among U.S. states for most indicators of social health — sometimes seems impenetrable.

Mike Espy, the former Democratic congressman from Mississippi and U.S. agriculture secretary, tried twice to become senator, in 2018 and 2020, but never got more than 46 percent of the vote. Jim Hood, then state attorney general, did a little better in the 2019 governor’s race, getting nearly 47 percent of the vote, but the current Republican governor, Tate Reeves, prevailed.

This year, with Mr. Reeves up for re-election in November, there are once again hopes that Mississippi could take a few steps up from the bottom and elect a governor willing to make a break from the past. And even though Donald Trump won the state by more than 16 percentage points in 2020, there are reasons to think it could happen.

For one thing, thanks to a significant scandal involving the misappropriation of welfare funds, Mr. Reeves is extraordinarily unpopular for an incumbent Republican, with 60 percent of voters saying they would prefer another candidate, according to a Mississippi Today/Siena College poll that came out last week. For another, he has a promising and energetic Democratic opponent named Brandon Presley who has been polling fairly well and is making a strong case that the state desperately needs a change, advocating a series of popular policies that could make a real difference in the lives of Mississippians, particularly those on the lower economic rungs. The contest is already turning into one of the most interesting races of 2023.”

Brent Staples | Confederate Tributes Are Losing Their Patron Saint – The New York Times

Mr. Staples is a member of the editorial board.

“It stands to reason that Woodrow Wilson would be the president to bring us Army bases named for traitors who waged war on this country with the goal of preserving slavery. He took office in 1913 with a team of white supremacists who announced themselves by requiring separate white and colored bathrooms in federal buildings. The Wilsonians inflicted a neo-Confederate regime on the capital that was felt in far corners of the nation.

The North Carolina newspaperman Josephus Daniels had the bloodiest résumé in the Wilson cabinet. A decade and a half before going to Washington, he was a principal instigator of a murderous coup in Wilmington with the goal of removing Black people from positions of authority in city government.

His Raleigh newspaper, The News & Observer, stoked white rage by equating Black political power with the rape of white women and trafficking in cartoons like one that depicted a giant black bat with “Negro rule” inscribed on its wings, a foot on a ballot box and white women trapped in its claws. On Nov. 10, 1898, throngs of white men burned and murdered at will, driving Black officials and their allies from Wilmington. The state legislature then disenfranchised African Americans.

The coup was rooted in an influential civic religion known as the Lost Cause. The Lost Causers venerated racial terrorism as a means of suppressing Black political influence. They romanticized slavery, portraying African Americans who lived in chains as happy and well cared for. They recast the pro-slavery war as a just struggle for “states’ rights” while elevating the dead Confederate general Robert E. Lee to the stature of a patron saint.

The Wilsonians were plying these waters when they gave Lee’s name to Fort Lee in Virginia. The myth of the noble Confederate that was used to justify the naming honor was bankrupt from the start. Some rebel honorees were known at the time to be profoundly incompetent as soldiers and leaders. At least one honoree was a state Ku Klux Klan leader. Yet another, the execrable George Pickett, was a war criminal.

Lee is widely regarded as a brilliant tactician. But he also did nothing to stop his soldiers from systematically kidnapping free Black citizens into slavery. During the Gettysburg campaign, African Americans who found themselves in his army’s path fled in large numbers to avoid being dragged south and sold at auction. The Civil War diarist Rachel Cormany reported that some were hunted down by soldiers on horseback and herded into custody “just like we would drive cattle.” In the eyes of these soldiers, every Black person was a runaway slave.”

Harry Belafonte, 96, Dies; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist – The New York Times


“Harry Belafonte, who stormed the pop charts and smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his highly personal brand of folk music, and who went on to become a dynamic force in the civil rights movement, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 96.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said Ken Sunshine, his longtime spokesman.

At a time when segregation was still widespread and Black faces were still a rarity on screens large and small, Mr. Belafonte’s ascent to the upper echelon of show business was historic. He was not the first Black entertainer to transcend racial boundaries; Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and others had achieved stardom before him. But none had made as much of a splash as he did, and for a few years no one in music, Black or white, was bigger.

Born in Harlem to West Indian immigrants, he almost single-handedly ignited a craze for Caribbean music with hit records like “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.” His album “Calypso,” which included both those songs, reached the top of the Billboard album chart shortly after its release in 1956 and stayed there for 31 weeks. Coming just before the breakthrough of Elvis Presley, it was said to be the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.”

How Big Law and Black Brooklyn Fueled Hakeem Jeffries’s Rise – The New York Times


“The campus at Binghamton University was in uproar. Whispers of outside agitators swirled among the mostly white student body. Security was heightened.

The source of the friction was the planned appearance of a polarizing Black studies professor who had referred to white people as “ice people” and accused “rich Jews” of financing the slave trade. Outraged Jewish students demanded the event be canceled; their Black peers were incensed over the potential censorship.

And wedged hard in the middle was Hakeem Jeffries.

As the political representative for the Black student group that invited the professor to the upstate New York campus, Mr. Jeffries, a 21-year-old college senior with a flattop and a dashiki, had the delicate task of cooling tensions while holding firm on the invitation. There was also another complication: The speaker, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, was his uncle.

The episode, in February 1992, was an early precursor of both the culture-war disputes now flashing across the country and the battles that Mr. Jeffries faces as the new leader of House Democrats. Republicans have begun resurfacing it to try to tie their new foil to his uncle’s more incendiary views, which he says he does not share.”

A Broken Pipe in Jackson Left Residents Without Drinking Water – The New York Times

Sarah Fowler is reporting on the water crisis in Jackson, Miss., in the state where she was born and raised, as part of The Times’s Local Investigations Fellowship.


“On an abandoned golf course, overgrown with shrubs and saw grass, you can hear the rushing water from 100 yards away.

Near Hole 4, past the little bridge and crumbling cart paths, what looks to be a waterfall comes into view, pouring down through the brush and into the creek below. Except the torrent of water gushing up through the mud isn’t from a spring-fed stream or a bubbling brook.

It is spewing from a broken city water line.

As residents had to boil their tap water and businesses closed because their faucets were dry, the break at the old Colonial Country Club squandered an estimated five million gallons of drinking water a day in a city that had none to spare.

It is enough water to serve the daily needs of 50,000 people, or a third of the city residents who rely on the beleaguered water utility.”

NYT Editorial | Florida Is Trying to Take Away the American Right to Speak Freely – The New York Times

“A homeowner gets angry at a county commission over a zoning dispute and writes a Facebook post accusing a local buildings official of being in the pocket of developers.

A right-wing broadcaster criticizing border policies accuses the secretary of homeland security of being a traitor.

A parent upset about the removal of a gay-themed book from library shelves goes to a school board meeting and calls the board chair a bigot and a homophobe.

All three are examples of Americans engaging in clamorous but perfectly legal speech about public figures that is broadly protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in a case that dates back nearly 60 years, ruled that even if that speech might be damaging or include errors, it should generally be protected against claims of libel and slander. All three would lose that protection — and be subject to ruinous defamation lawsuits — under a bill that is moving through the Florida House and is based on longstanding goals of Gov. Ron DeSantis.”

Megan Stack | When Parents Hear That Their Child ‘Is Not Normal and Should Not Exist’ – The New York Times

“. . . . .  The paradox is not lost on the affected families that the politicians who invoke “parental rights” when moving to ban books, buck vaccine mandates or challenge local school boards are the very same people trying so hard to curtail autonomy for families of transgender kids.

“It’s parents’ rights as long as you live the kind of life we want you to live, and that’s what’s scary,” Ms. Jackson said. “What will they do next, when they don’t have us as the scapegoat anymore?”

Ms. Jackson believes the legislative push is motivated by white Christian nationalism, and sees it as having the potential to spread to other communities. Maybe, she suggested, they’ll turn their attention to preventing Muslim kids from praying in public buildings, or choose yet another group to single out.

“The parental rights they’re taking away from me today,” she added, “they’re going to take away from you tomorrow.”

Parents, most reasonable people would agree, get the deciding vote on serious decisions made by their minor children. Some parents, at least. The ones who think like us. Not the other ones, obviously.

The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, is waging a parental-rights-based court battle against states that ban gender-affirming care for children. At the same time, though, the organization is advocating children’s rights in cases where education officials have decided against informing parents that their children have come out as trans at school.

There is some logic to this apparent contradiction. Children enjoy limited rights independent of their parents, although defining their scope is an ongoing judicial process. With medical associations warning that gender-affirming care can prevent suicide, it may be possible to argue that refusing it could constitute abuse.

That could be a tough case to win, though. Ours is a nation that prizes parents’ rights, in both culture and legal precedent. The United States takes such a dim view of children’s rights that we’re the only member state in the United Nations that has steadfastly refused to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“We have a longstanding tradition of parental autonomy,” said Stacey Steinberg, a law professor and director of the University of Florida’s Center on Children and Families. “Parents have a right to raise children as they see fit.”

These rights can stretch surprisingly far: Parents can make children work in dangerous conditions on family farms — operating heavy machinery, for example. Some Amish children have been removed from school after the eighth grade as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prioritized the parents’ religious rights over the state’s interest in educating children. Parents can, under some circumstances, withhold medical treatments.

The recognition of transgender kids is relatively new, and legal precedent is scant, but related questions have been confronted by courts. During the decades when women were entitled to terminate pregnancies as a matter of constitutional right (before Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer), the court grappled with whether a minor needed parental approval for an abortion.

Parents, the court decided, should not get absolute control over a child’s desire to terminate a pregnancy. That meant, in practice, that many states created judicial workarounds allowing kids to ask permission directly from a local court in lieu of their parents.

“The unique nature and consequences” of abortion, the court found, meant it was inappropriate for parents to have “an absolute, and possibly arbitrary, veto over the decision.” ” . . . .

How Harlem Shaped Warnock’s Faith and Politics – The New York Times

“Four days before the November midterm elections, Senator Raphael Warnock slipped away from the campaign trail in Georgia to deliver a eulogy in Harlem.

His mentor — the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, a powerful and politically astute preacher who led Harlem’s storied Abyssinian Baptist Church — had died at the age of 73. At the memorial service, Mr. Warnock told the crowd of mourners about the intersections of faith and public life that had shaped Mr. Butts’s work, and his own.

“Calvin Butts taught me how to take my ministry to the streets,” Mr. Warnock said at a service that drew former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “He understood that the church’s work doesn’t end at the church door. That’s where it starts.”

Mr. Warnock now finds himself locked in one of the last and most closely watched elections of the 2022 midterms — a Georgia runoff on Tuesday against a Trump-backed Republican rival, Herschel Walker.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Excellent article, thank you Katie Glueck et al. I am proud to have supported Warnock’s candadicy for the senate both his first, and now his secont time. His history and story are inspiring. My prayers and my actions are with you Senator.
David blogs at InconenientNews.net