Opinion | James Comey: Let’s Vote to Uphold Our Nation’s Values – The New York Times

“I’ve been traveling around the United States for six months speaking about ethical leadership. Nearly every place I go, I hear some version of this question: “Are we going to be O.K.?” What the questioner means is, given the current leadership of our country and the ugly undercurrent on which it thrives, is America as we know it going to survive? Yes, is the answer I give, without hesitation. We will recover. How long that takes is up to us, but I am optimistic.

History shows us that America’s progress in fulfilling our aspirations is an upward sloping line. Yes, our present has always fallen short of our values. After all, we were born in original sin — our nation’s founders held inspiring truths to be self-evident while keeping human beings as slaves. But our history is one of continuous progress.

Unfortunately, that line marking our progress is not a solid one. We make progress, then we regress, then we make progress again. The upward jag is always larger than the retreat, which is why the line has a positive slope upward across 242 years. But our line is jagged.

In his new book, “The Soul of America,” the historian Jon Meacham reminds us that the years after the end of World War I were a period of stunning progress for our country. Women got the right to vote. Blacks moved into the growing industrial economy. Catholics and Jews flooded in as immigrants. But that change brought reaction. In the 1920s, the Klan was reborn. Millions of Americans joined the K.K.K., including 16 United States senators, 11 governors and dozens of members of the House of Representatives. Tens of thousands of Klansmen in white robes marched on the National Mall in Washington. Immigration was severely restricted. Then the Klan fever broke in the late 1920s and we resumed our upward progress. That’s the story of America.”

David Lindsay: Good piece. One commenter wrote, Good message, wrong messenger. I would say it differently. I have not forgiven James Comey for screwing Hillary Clinton in the last election. Since ‘m ready to indict him, I am impressed that with such eloquence, he is begging for forgiveness, or at least, a second chance. He writes well, but I remember he drives a crooked nail and put his thumb on the last, very important, election.

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Opinion | ‘Riling Up the Crazies’ – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“WASHINGTON — As long as I’ve covered politics, Republicans have been trying to scare me.

Sometimes, it has been about gays and transgender people and uppity women looming, but usually it has been about people with darker skin looming.

They’re coming, always coming, to take things and change things and hurt people.

A Democratic president coined the expression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But it was Republicans who flipped the sentiment and turned it into a powerful and remorseless campaign ethos: Make voters fear fear itself.

President Trump was relieved when the F.B.I. arrested a bomb suspect — a racist, homophobic, roid-raging, strip-club-loving, MAGA-worshiping Florida man who was living in a van that looked like a decoupage of Fox News propaganda.

The real fear that Cesar Sayoc Jr. is accused of spreading was distracting from the fake fear Trump was spreading to spur Republicans to the polls. And the president didn’t like it. Before Sayoc was caught, Trump implied that the terrorism was a Democratic setup to deflect from his midterms roadshow. Pipe bombs getting in the way of pipe dreams.”

David Lindsay:  Three stars for Maureen Dowd, for hitting one out of the ballpark. She has come along way, since she bragged about smoozing with Trump, and cattily cut up Hillary Clinton.

Opinion | Do Not Double-Major – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“When I visit a college campus and ask the students what they’re studying, the response often starts with: “I’m double-majoring in … ” And then my heart sinks just a little bit.

I understand why many students are tempted to double-major. They have more than one academic interest. When I was in college, I briefly thought about double-majoring in my two favorite subjects, math and history. (Instead, I spent much of my time at the college newspaper and barely completed one major — applied math.)

But the reality is that many students who double-major aren’t doing it out of intellectual curiosity. The number of double majors has soared in recent years mostly because students see it as a way to add one more credential to their résumé. What’s even better than one major? Two majors!

 

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Except that it’s not. Most students would learn more by creatively mastering a single major — and leaving themselves time to take classes in multiple other fields. “Double majoring,” as Jacqueline Sanchez, a Wellesley College student, wrote in a recent op-ed for her campus paper, “ultimately prevents students from exploring many different disciplines.” “

David Lindsay: I strongly agree. I love the motto of a consulting company whose name is not so memorable:  Work hard, play hard.

To that I will add, find what gives you joy, and do some of that. Since the world is often sad and crazy, learn to laugh with humility, when you are not punishing yourself for your imperfections.

Opinion | The Democrats and the Caravan – by David Leonhardt – NYT

By David Leonhardt,  Opinion Columnist,  Oct. 23, 2018

“When white working-class voters focus on the white part of their identity, the Republican Party benefits. When they focus on the working-class part, the Democratic Party benefits.That’s a simple rule of thumb that explains much of contemporary American politics — including Republicans’ new focus on the caravan of Central American migrants moving north through Mexico. President Trump and other top Republicans cynically understand that they are helped by images showing large groups of immigrants hoping to enter the United States without documentation.How should the Democrats respond? I think they’re doing it wrong so far.”

David Lindsay:

Thank you David Leonhardt. I was about to write something in line with your thinking. I said Sunday night in effect, I have a horrible feeling the Caravan is a blessing from heaven for the Republicans and Trump. He is harvestsing it for optimum bounce, while the Democrats silence is going to cripple them with far more people than just Trump’s base which will be galvanized.
Image: A caravan of migrants traveled through Guatemala en route to the United States on Wednesday.CreditCreditOrlando Estrada/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

NYTIMES.COM
The party is trying to ignore the caravan of migrants. That’s a naïve mistake.

Amy McGrath Is Avoiding Attack Ads. Can a Congressional Candidate Win Without Them? – By Michael Tackett – NYT

The race for Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District between the Republican incumbent, Andy Barr, and his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, has featured one of the highest concentration of political ads in the country — almost 7,000 airings — in one of the most fiercely fought races.

But there is a twist. The contest also has one of the most lopsided ratios of negative-to-positive ads, with Mr. Barr and aligned Republican groups spending more than $3 million in the relatively inexpensive Lexington media market in the past six weeks, overwhelmingly on spots attacking Ms. McGrath.

Ms. McGrath, so far, has not run attack ads against Mr. Barr, an approach that makes this contest a laboratory to test the long-held proposition that while voters find negative ads distasteful, candidates use them because they work.”

David Lindsay, NYT comment:  Bravo Michael Tackett. I didn’t feel satisfied at the end of this article, and stared to tear it down in my mind for focusing on a topic, ad strategy, rather than the actual positions of the candidates. Then I reviewed the article in my mind, and had two thoughts. Today, you can get the bullet positions on their websites, so the article would have just been stronger with a hyperlink to each candidate’s website. Second, I was able to see many position obliquely, through the discussion of the ads. I watched the ad on Amy McGrath playing soccer while responding to 6 or 7 vile attacks. I wrote on Facebook: There is a good article in the NYT today about Amy McGrath, running as a Democrat in the Kentucky 6th Congressional distinct. She is turning heads, by refusing to answer her opponents onslaught of negative ads, by making almost all her ads about what she stands for. This ad, is her one attack ad, which one woman is quoted as calling stupid, since soccer has nothing to do with being a congressman. I think it’s a brilliant ad. She deserves support if you can afford it, regardless of what party you belong to.

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 Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

“The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.”

“. . . . .   The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.”

DL:  In other words, this company paid negotiated low prices for stuff for their buildings, and then billed themselves for the same items at 25% to 100% or more markups. The difference, or mark up, was transferred to Fred’s children tax free, draining Fred’s $50 million in cash to zero in the next few years.

Then Fred’s real estate, worth about $900 Million, was valued by a professional crooked appraiser to be worth only $46 million for estate tax purposes. Between these two schemes, about $500 million in taxes were avoided. Quite the heist.

The Five Battlefields for Control of the House – The New York Times

“THE SUBURBS. CITIES. SMALL TOWNS. RURAL AMERICA.The November election for Democratic or Republican control of the House of Representatives will come down to roughly 75 seats that are most competitive this fall.You can’t possibly keep track of all those districts and candidates across the country.Consider this your field guide to the fight for the House.We grouped the 75 districts into five main battlefields — not by what part of the country they’re in, but by the social and cultural characteristics they share.In our analysis, we looked at how Democrats and Republicans will try to piece together a House majority from across these voting blocs. Democrats need toTHE SUBURBS. CITIES. SMALL TOWNS. RURAL AMERICA.

The November election for Democratic or Republican control of the House of Representatives will come down to roughly 75 seats that are most competitive this fall.

You can’t possibly keep track of all those districts and candidates across the country.

Consider this your field guide to the fight for the House.

We grouped the 75 districts into five main battlefields — not by what part of the country they’re in, but by the social and cultural characteristics they share.

In our analysis, we looked at how Democrats and Republicans will try to piece together a House majority from across these voting blocs. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take the House from Republicans. pick up 23 seats to take the House from Republicans.”

David Lindsay: I’m disgusted by Donald Trump. Since the GOP will not rein him in, or protect Robert Mueller, we need to tip the Congress to the Democrats: for the environment, decency, a sane foreign policy and the democracy.

The Worst Drug Crisis in American History – By Jessica Bruder – NYT

By Jessica Bruder
July 31, 2018 89 comments
DOPESICK Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America By Beth Macy Illustrated. 376 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $28.

In 2000, a doctor in the tiny town of St. Charles, Va., began writing alarmed letters to Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin. The drug had come to market four years earlier and Art Van Zee had watched it ravage the state’s poorest county, where he’d practiced medicine for nearly a quarter-century. Older patients were showing up at his office with abscesses from injecting crushed-up pills. Nearly a quarter of the juniors at a local high school had reported trying the drug. Late one night, Van Zee was summoned to the hospital where a teenage girl he knew — he could still remember immunizing her as an infant — had arrived in the throes of an overdose.

Van Zee begged Purdue to investigate what was happening in Lee County and elsewhere. People were starting to die. “My fear is that these are sentinel areas, just as San Francisco and New York were in the early years of H.I.V.,” he wrote.

Since then, the worst drug crisis in America’s history — sparked by OxyContin and later broadening into heroin and fentanyl — has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, with no signs of abating. Just this spring, public health officials announced a record: The opioid epidemic had killed 45,000 people in the 12-month span that ended in September, making it almost as lethal as the AIDS crisis at its peak.”

David Lindsay:

My comment to the NYT, now also the blog post before this one:

If we legalize and regulate addictive drugs, much of these enormous profits from the illegal drug business would decrease dramatically. When alcohol was re-legalized after prohibition, armed gangs were disbanded and killings decreased greatly.

Many economists, at least privately, admit that we should legalize addictive drugs to ameliorate the negative effects. Herbert Stein and Milton Friedman are two famous right of center economists who have called for legalization.

   Legalization would allow us win the war on illegal drug trafficking, and it is probably the only way to win the war on drug trafficking.

It would not be simple. There would need to be investment and resources into drug addiction rehabilitation programs, jobs programs, support systems. We would need severe financial penalties and long jail sentences for  businesses and individuals that push addictive drugs onto non-addicts. The law has to be severe with people who turn citizens or patients into addicts.

Decriminalization would be an immediate place to begin, to get tens of thousands of petty drug users and sellers out of our jails.

We have a heroin epidemic in New England and the rest of the country right now. Much of the heroin is bad, and kills people. If heroin was legal and regulated, doses would be bad for you, but wouldn’t stop your heart. Countless young people, including my son Austin, would be alive after experimenting with the drug. It is the illegality of these drugs that make them unregulated. Bad batches kill people, like my son Austin. The huge illegal profits are destabilizing whole countries, and police forces, prosecutors and judges.

Legalize Addictive Drugs – By David Lindsay Jr

If we legalize and regulate addictive drugs, much of these enormous profits from the illegal drug business would decrease dramatically. When alcohol was re-legalized after prohibition, armed gangs were disbanded and killings decreased greatly.

Many economists, at least privately, admit that we should legalize addictive drugs to ameliorate the negative effects. Herbert Stein and Milton Friedman are two famous right of center economists who have called for legalization.

   Legalization would allow us win the war on illegal drug trafficking, and it is probably the only way to win the war on drug trafficking.

It would not be simple. There would need to be investment and resources into drug addiction rehabilitation programs, jobs programs, support systems. We would need severe financial penalties and long jail sentences for  businesses and individuals that push addictive drugs onto non-addicts. The law has to be severe with people who turn citizens or patients into addicts.

Decriminalization would be an immediate place to begin, to get tens of thousands of petty drug users and sellers out of our jails.

We have a heroin epidemic in New England and the rest of the country right now. Much of the heroin is bad, and kills people. If heroin was legal and regulated, doses would be bad for you, but wouldn’t stop your heart. Countless young people, including my son Austin, would be alive after experimenting with the drug. It is the illegality of these drugs that make them unregulated. Bad batches kill people, like my son Austin. The huge illegal profits are destabilizing whole countries, and police forces, prosecutors and judges.

 

originally posted on Facebook.

Here is the same comment, cut to under 1500 words, to become a comment at the NYT today, after an article by Jessica Bruder, “The Worst Drug Crisis in American History”

If we legalize and regulate addictive drugs, much of these enormous profits from the illegal drug business would decrease dramatically. When alcohol was re-legalized after prohibition, armed gangs were disbanded and killings decreased greatly. Many economists, at least privately, admit that we should legalize addictive drugs to ameliorate the negative effects. Herbert Stein and Milton Friedman are two famous right of center economists who have called for legalization. There would need to be investment and resources into drug addiction rehabilitation programs, jobs programs, support systems. We would need severe financial penalties and long jail sentences for  businesses and individuals that push addictive drugs onto non-addicts. The law has to be severe with people who turn citizens or patients into addicts. Decriminalization would be an immediate place to begin, to get tens of thousands of petty drug users and sellers out of our jails. We have a heroin epidemic in New England and the rest of the country right now. Much of the heroin is bad, and kills people. If heroin was legal and regulated, doses would be bad for you, but wouldn’t stop your heart. Countless young people, including my son Austin, would be alive after experimenting with the drug. It is the illegality of these drugs that make them unregulated. Bad batches kill people, like my son Austin. The huge illegal profits are destabilizing whole countries, and police forces, prosecutors and judges.

Opinion | The New Know-Nothings – By Jennifer Finney Boylan – NYT

By Jennifer Finney Boylan

Ms. Boylan is a contributing opinion writer.
July 25, 2018
“My fellow Americans: It is my honor today to announce the formation of a new political party, which I am calling “the Republican Party.”You can be forgiven for thinking, Wait, don’t we already have one of those? But please. Under Donald Trump, the Republican Party, at least as we once understood it, has become a fantastical entity, a creature not wholly unlike the Abominable Snowman, or the Chupacabra, or the mythical Squonk of central Pennsylvania, the imaginary creature that spends its days deep in the forest, weeping in despair at its own hideousness.

“There is no Republican Party,” said John Boehner, a former Republican speaker of the House, back in April. “There’s a Trump Party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.” ”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval