He Called Out Sick-Then Apologized for Leaving This World (David Buckel) – The New York Times

“Domingo Morales was not initially concerned when he got a text message from his mentor, David S. Buckel, at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, calling out sick.

Twenty-five minutes, later, Mr. Buckel sent him an email: “I apologize for leaving this world early and leaving you with some big challenges to tackle. But I have to at least try to make this planet a better place for having lived on it.”

Mr. Buckel, a nationally known civil rights lawyer and, in his final decade, a master composter directing the sprawling site at the Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn, set himself on fire around dawn Saturday in Prospect Park. It was, according to his suicide letter, to make a statement about people protecting the environment.”

David Lindsay:  The New York Times, and some of the commentors, are conflicted as to whether this is a major protest by an environmentalist or the act of a sick and depressed person. I fault the NYT for not mentioning his protest for the environment in their first article on the 14th. I sense that this was a major protest, but if I am right, and it is not a story about depression and mental illness, it was sort of bungled. The Vietnamese buddhists who immolated themselves in Vietnam to protest the South Vietnamese Governments abuses and corruption, were organized to happen in front of the world’s media and television cameras. They got a lot of world attention to their protest. This quiet immolation at dawn, was more pure, but less politically successful. The NYT literally didn’t know what to make of it, when they first reported it in the article linked to below.

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Does Nancy Pelosi Deserve to Keep her Job? – By David Leonhardt – NYT

“The Pelosi question. A few years ago, Steve Cohen — a Democratic congressman from Memphis — had some buttons made. Each button said, “PelosiCare,” underneath a photo of Nancy Pelosi. At the bottom of the button, in smaller type, were the words “I was there.”

The point was clear enough. Everyone else may refer to the huge expansion of health insurance as Obamacare. But the Democratic members of Congress who voted for it know that it would not have happened without Pelosi. When Obama administration officials wavered over whether to keep pushing for such an ambitious bill, Pelosi bucked them up. Then she delivered the votes to pass the bill.

That’s been the pattern since Pelosi became the Democrats’ House leader in 2003. She pushes hard for liberal policies, but also has a keen understanding of what legislation can’t get through Congress, no matter how much she may personally favor it. She has probably done a better job of keeping her caucus unified, in the majority and minority, than any other recent congressional leader. “She has been an extraordinarily effective caucus leader,” as Jonathan Chait writes in New York magazine.”

David Lindsay:

I like the piece above, and I like Nancy Pelsosi a lot. I think Pelosi should step down for two reasons. 1.She shut down the government a month ago to force DACA reform, which was suicidal for winning the next election. Says who? Wrote David Leonhardt just weeks ago. He wrote, most white Americans don’t care much about DACA reform, and 69% of voters  who actually vote are white Americans.

2. Her big win was the Affordable Health Care Act. Unfortunetly, Obama passed that, and then lost the house, so he couldn’t pass his infrastructure bills, or any thing else. If they had focused on the ecomy, jobs and infrastructure first, and health care later, we would probably have environmentalists in charge of the EPA, and progressives in charge of the Consumer Protection Agency.  et cetera.

The Abortion Case That’s Really About the First Amendment – By ROBERT McNAMARA and PAUL SHERMAN – NYT

“The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in a case that pits abortion-rights advocates against religious groups dedicated to steering women away from abortion — including, some say, by outright deception.

But that is not why the case is important.To be sure, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra has all the hallmarks of a classic culture-war throwdown. The case centers on California’s attempt to force so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which exist primarily to dissuade women from having abortions, to display prominent advertisements detailing the availability of state-funded abortions.

As The Times’ Adam Liptak put it, succinctly: “The centers say the law violates their right to free speech by forcing them to convey messages at odds with their beliefs. The law’s defenders say the notices combat incomplete or misleading information provided by the clinics.”

In certain ways, the case has played out just as one might have expected: The Conference of Catholic Bishops has lined up on one side and Planned Parenthood on the other. Most people’s opinions on abortion rights and their opinions on the correct outcome in this case are probably pretty closely linked.

But that link shouldn’t be inevitable. We filed a brief in this case supporting the First Amendment rights of crisis pregnancy centers, even though we also personally support abortion rights (our firm shares our view of the First Amendment, though it takes no position on abortion).”David Lindsay: Sad, but probably true. I found no fault in the logic of these lawyers.

They argued:

“Sometimes, government officials use their newfound powers to silence speech they find politically uncongenial. For example, after the American Medical Association adopted a policy urging doctors to discuss gun ownership with their patients — either to talk to them about gun safety or, perhaps, to dissuade them from owning guns at all — the Florida Legislature, spurred by gun-rights advocates, rushed to prohibit doctors from doing so. In court, Florida defended the law as a regulation of unprotected “professional speech.” It took five years of litigation, in the face of repeated court rulings upholding the ban, before the law was finally struck down in 2017 by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Other times, officials simply try to silence speech that is embarrassing. When an Oregon man named Mats Järlström, who we have represented, wrote to his state engineering board to complain that traffic engineers had made mistakes in how they calculated the timing of red-light cameras, the board fined him $500 for doing the underlying math without an engineering license. (As it happens, the physics professor who initially came up with the formula for timing red-light cameras thought that our client was probably right, but that made no difference to state officials.)

And these threats to free speech extend far beyond traditional professions like doctors or engineers. Regulators have invoked the idea of professional speech to crack down on everything from everyday advice about healthy eating to private citizens’ testimony at public city-council hearings. One court even held the professional-speech doctrine applies to fortune tellers; in another case, city attorneys said it should apply to tour guides telling ghost stories. It turns out that there really is no such thing as just a little bit of censorship.”

dl: I’m not happy about the Pro life clinics, but they aren’t the only choice for advice in California. On the good side, they provide an outlet for their hard core believers. The reason they should be regulated, is that environmental scientists are saying things like we need to set aside half the planet for non human life, most of which is going extinct, and that extinction threatens our future existence. Some scientists argue well that though humans now are 7.5 billion, the proper sustainable number of humans for a safe clean quality of life and environment is probably 4 billion. Abortions might be terrible, but over population leading to civil war, starvation and massive die offs of human population centers is probably much worse. Medical triage is also mean and horrible, but it saves the largest number of human lives.

 

Conor Lamb Wins Pennsylvania House Seat- Giving Democrats a Map for Trump Country – The New York Times

“Conor Lamb, a Democrat and former Marine, scored a razor-thin but extraordinary upset in a special House election in southwestern Pennsylvania after a few thousand absentee ballots cemented a Democratic victory in the heart of President Trump’s Rust Belt base.

The Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, may still contest the outcome. But Mr. Lamb’s 627-vote lead Wednesday afternoon appeared insurmountable, given that the four counties in Pennsylvania’s 18th district have about 500 provisional, military and other absentee ballots left to count, election officials said.

That slim margin — out of almost 230,000 ballots cast in a district that Mr. Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016 — nonetheless upended the political landscape ahead of November’s midterm elections. It also emboldened Democrats to run maverick campaigns even in deep-red areas where Republicans remain bedeviled by Mr. Trump’s unpopularity.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT
I stopped supporting Nancy Pelosi when she recently shut down the government to try and force a DACA deal on the country that it didn’t value as much as other concerns. She showed an out of touchness, that suggests she needs to retire. Please look at the op-ed research by David Leonhardt in the last three months. He points to facts that we ignore at our peril. 69% of the people who vote regularly are white. They don’t mostly put DACA ahead of many other issues. I agree with Leonhardt and others who argue, that the resistance, which is mostly Democrats and Independents, should focus on wooing people who voted for Obama in his last election, but then voted for Trump, and another large group, who voted for Obama, but did not bother to vote in the last election. Pelosi doesn’t get any of this, so Im giving money directly to candidates instead of the the Democratic Party, until better leadership is found.
We also need new laws to force Facebook and Youtube and other social media to prevent fake news from fake people, from domestic or foreign sources. All advertising should be from an identified source.
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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

Trump Really Wants His Wingman – by Gail Collins. Lindsay and Schomaker respond.

“Donald Trump may be going to Korea! Also, to Moon Township, Pa.!

While the president’s plan to have direct talks with the North Koreans is fascinating, in a sort of unnerving way, right now we’re going to look at the Moon Township angle. There’s a special House election coming up on Tuesday, and it’s perfectly possible that when it comes to international détente versus the 18th Congressional District, the White House’s real fixation is western Pennsylvania.

The 18th C.D. is at the heart of the white, working-class vote that won Trump the Electoral College. It also has wildly gerrymandered borders aimed at guaranteeing Republican control unless the incumbent does something incredible, like championing anti-abortion legislation after hinting to his mistress that she ought to get an abortion if she’s pregnant.

Whoops. That was Representative Tim Murphy. Gone but not forgotten.

So there’s this special election, which features Democrat Conor Lamb, a handsome young former federal prosecutor, versus Rick Saccone, a Republican state representative who is hanging onto Donald Trump like — um, we will not say Stormy Daniels. That would be totally tacky, and this is a serious political moment. We’ll just say that Saccone says he wants to go to Washington and be the president’s “wingman.”

David Lindsay:
We gave a modest donation to Conor Lamb today—$20. Kathleen Schomaker and I decided to do this after reading about him in the NY Times during the last two weeks, and I probably posted some of those articles to blog 1, InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. Today, Gail Collins’ piece put us over the top. But then I hesitated.
Should we support this insurgency in the rust belt of Pennsylvania? Sun Tsu, in The Art of War, wrote that the best attack is a surprise attack. Should we hold our very limited powder and shot for the November 2018 election, so as not to warn the right wing billionaires that they have to do even more to secure their electoral gains?
I have read in the NYT recently that the Trumpistas are calling all hands to make sure their surrogate wins this special election, since Trump won this district by 20%. They do not want the resistance to see that they can draw blood. However, this is not a military battle in southern China, but a political awakening of the diverse progressive sub-groups in the United States, who don’t regularly bother to go to the polls and vote, and of white working class folk, who are realizing that Trump is an environmental, political and economic disaster for the nation and the world.
While there is a small danger that early progressive victories might invigorate Trump’s billionaire financial supporters, we decided that there is a bigger benefit to drawing blood, and creating some sense that Americans can work together to fight the propaganda and fake news of the Trumpistas and the right-wing oil and gas and media billionaires.

The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Two years ago, The Washington Post ran a long piece about West Virginia called, “How the birthplace of the American labor movement just turned on its unions.” It described how, following the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2014, the state passed a so-called right-to-work law prohibiting mandatory union dues. Such laws have badly undermined unions in other states, and for people who care about organized labor, it was a bitter irony to see one enacted in a place once famed for its militant labor movement. The state also repealed a law mandating that workers on public construction projects are paid prevailing industry rates.

Labor in West Virginia seemed beaten down.That’s one reason the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia, which on Monday entered its eighth day, is so thrilling. Strikes by teachers are unlawful in the state, and their unions lack collective bargaining rights. Nevertheless, in a revival of West Virginia’s long-dormant tradition of bold labor activism, teachers and some other school employees in all of the state’s 55 counties are refusing to return to work until lawmakers give them a 5 percent raise, and commit to addressing their rapidly rising health insurance premiums.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

This report flunks, like all the others I’ve heard on this subject. No one will say what the salaries of these teachers are, where they start, where they end. What is the average total package. Facts and numbers matter, and it grieves me that the best this lousy op-ed can do, is cite a massive paper.

In Reply to the top comment, I added:

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Lack of numbers in the piece is very disappointing. Here is what I found. “Teacher Salaries in West Virginia by Education As teachers further their educations and gain experience in the field, they receive pay increases that reflect their dedication and hard work. Salaries vary between school districts, but the following are some examples of the salaries you can expect in West Virginia: Experience Bachelor’s Master’s At 3 years $30,871 $33,399

At 6 years $ 32,670 $35,199

At 9 years $34,226 $36,754

At 12 years $35,783 $38,311 Source: West Virginia Department of Education

DL: It’s too bad this piece didn’t include such numbers. They are lower than expected.

Next important question, what are the median salary levels state-wide for West Virginina. Facts matter.

Can This Judge Solve the Opioid Crisis? – News by Jan Hoffman – NYT

“CLEVELAND — Here are a few choice mutterings from the scrum of lawyers outside Courtroom 18B, about the federal judge who summoned them to a closed-door conference on hundreds of opioid lawsuits:“Grandstander.”

“Pollyanna.” “Over his head.”

And the chorus: “This is not how we do things!”

Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the Northern District of Ohio has perhaps the most daunting legal challenge in the country: resolving more than 400 federal lawsuits brought by cities, counties and Native American tribes against central figures in the national opioid tragedy, including makers of the prescription painkillers, companies that distribute them, and pharmacy chains that sell them. And he has made it clear that he will not be doing business as usual.

During the first hearing in the case, in early January, the judge informed lawyers that he intended to dispense with legal norms like discovery and would not preside over years of “unraveling complicated conspiracy theories.” Then he ordered them to prepare for settlement discussions immediately.Not a settlement that would be “just moving money around,” he added, but one that would provide meaningful solutions to a national crisis — by the end of this year.”

David Lindsay: I recommend the whole article above. This judge is amazing. He is using Organization Development theory and techniques, to bring the parties together, to share important information, and to work on collective problem solving. It’s brilliant, and he might get the parties in 400 federal lawsuites to work together.

The Supreme Court’s Power Play Against Labor – by Linda Greenhouse – NYT

“Here’s a possible solution to the most commented-upon mystery growing out of the Supreme Court’s argument this week in a case of crucial importance to the future of public employee unions: Why did the normally loquacious Justice Neil M. Gorsuch stay silent? Could the junior justice have caught something from Justice Clarence Thomas, who famously went a decade without asking a single question? Was Justice Gorsuch overcome by the knowledge that with his eight colleagues tied four to four — as revealed by the vote two terms ago in a nearly identical case that was argued but not yet decided by the time of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death — he holds the fate of organized labor in his hands?

No, nothing as tantalizing as that. I think the answer is probably a good deal more pedestrian. The lawyer representing the labor union, David C. Frederick, is Justice Gorsuch’s former law partner. When President Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court a year ago, Mr. Frederick published an opinion essay in The Washington Post under the headline: “There Is No Principled Reason to Vote Against Gorsuch.” Identifying himself as “a longtime supporter of Democratic candidates and progressive causes,” Mr. Frederick called Judge Gorsuch “a longtime friend” and described him as “brilliant, diligent, open-minded and thoughtful.” So why would Justice Gorsuch beat up on his old friend when Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Anthony M. Kennedy were doing an enthusiastic job of it?”

“The challengers, supported by the Trump administration, maintain that this longstanding distinction between chargeable and nonchargeable expenses is unsupportable because everything a public employee union does is inherently political. Thus, they argue, it violates the First Amendment for the objectors to have to support the union in any way, and therefore the precedent, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, must be overruled.

In support of this argument, Justices Alito and Kennedy were obsessively focused on unions as political actors that could, in Justice Alito’s words, “push a city to the brink and perhaps over the brink into bankruptcy.” Their goal was to show that public employee unions are political to their very core.

“Do you think that this case affects the political influence of the unions?” Justice Kennedy asked Mr. Frederick. When the lawyer began his answer with a No, Justice Kennedy went on, with evident sarcasm:

“So you’ve — I can try to find a union newsletter which says don’t worry about the Supreme Court, our political influence will be exactly the same as it was before, if this case comes out against us?”

“That’s not a chargeable expense, Justice Kennedy,” Mr. Frederick began. “We’re talking about —” “

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Unions and Collective Bargaining power. This is a difficult subject. In Hamden and the State of CT, we have a too much power in the public employee unions, or, for complex reasons, they negotiated for overly generous, and unsustainable pension and work benefits, that now endanger the economies of the state and local governments. Meanwhile, we have workers at places like Walmart, Subway, and home nursing aides, who are so poorly paid, that they remain in poverty after working full time. How will this extreme haircut affect these two problems? On the one hand, we have unionized public service labor that is overpowerful, and needs a haircut, and poorly paid service workers in the private sector, who desperately need more collective bargaining power, and better wages and benefits. The benefit of this right wing hair cut it that it might bring some support to Hamden and Connecticut against the unsustainable benefits agreed to in the last 40 years or so. Will this haircut throw out many babies with the bathwater? Or will it curb the the excesses of big labor, while allowing for a new growth in unionization in the private sector where collective bargaining is so desperately needed. The answer probably lies in the practices of counties like Germany, and the Scandinavian countries, where the social net is stronger, which allows for more risk taking. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Pelosi Held House Floor in Advocacy of ‘Dreamers’ for More Than 8 Hours – The New York Times

“Ms. Pelosi has said she will not vote for the measure. She was protesting its lack of protection for the Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and have been shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era initiative that President Trump has suspended.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Nancy Pelosi should be removed from all positions of leadership in the Democratic party, for endangering the chances of the Democrats, Independents and environmentalists of winning back the house or the senate.
Our planet depends on smarter, more strategic leadership.
Then, in her new found spare time, she might have time to read David Leonhardt, or Brett Stevens, and many others, including yours truly. Stevens writes in large brush strokes, that focusing on DACA and dreamers, while ignoring the needs of anxioius, middle class white Americans, is surely not the way to win in the next election. Leonhardt breaks it down, with facts, poling data, and figures. It is hard to believe that anyone who read his two colums on this, could continue to loudly fight for DACA, when it turns off the very people we need to bring back to the democratic fold: the millions of voters who voted for Obama before, but then Trump in the last election. I’m am not against the DACA reforms, but heaven help us, if the Democrats are so dumb as to make it the big issue that it isn’t for so many struggling middle class Americans, who vote in extremely high numbers. 69% of the voting public are white people, many of who are stressed out, according to Leonhard’s reporting and data.
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David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Krugman has a great piece until the end when he writes,
“Yet G.O.P. leaders seem to believe that they can bully Democrats by threatening to hurt millions of children — because Democrats care more about those children than they do. They also believe that if this tactic fails they can frame it as an exhibition of callousness by Democrats.

Democrats should just say no. These tactics cannot be allowed to succeed.

For once doomsday-machine politics becomes the norm, anything is fair game. Give us what we want, or we’ll cut off Medicare. Give us what we want, or we’ll destroy Social Security.

This has to stop. And now is the time to draw the line.”

David Lindsay: Paul Krugman, my favorite economist, has made an error. In his piece “The G.O.P.’s Doomsday-Machine Politics,” 1/19/18 NYT, he is suggesting that the Dems should have continuted to shut down the government, over DACA, and not accepted CHIP instead. How can Paul Krugman not see that that switches roles. Now it is the Democrates using Doomsday Machine politics, not the Republicans.