Paul Krugman | Republicans Have Their Own Private Autocracy – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I’m a huge believer in the usefulness of social science, especially studies that use comparisons across time and space to shed light on our current situation. So when the political scientist Henry Farrell suggested that I look at his field’s literature on cults of personality, I followed his advice. He recommended one paper in particular, by the New Zealand-based researcher Xavier Márquez; I found it revelatory.

The Mechanisms of Cult Production” compares the behavior of political elites across a wide range of dictatorial regimes, from Caligula’s Rome to the Kim family’s North Korea, and finds striking similarities. Despite vast differences in culture and material circumstances, elites in all such regimes engage in pretty much the same behavior, especially what the paper dubs “loyalty signaling” and “flattery inflation.”

Signaling is a concept originally drawn from economics; it says that people sometimes engage in costly, seemingly pointless behavior as a way to prove that they have attributes others value. For example, new hires at investment banks may work insanely long hours, not because the extra hours are actually productive, but to demonstrate their commitment to feeding the money machine.”

In the context of dictatorial regimes, signaling typically involves making absurd claims on behalf of the Leader and his agenda, often including “nauseating displays of loyalty.” If the claims are obvious nonsense and destructive in their effects, if making those claims humiliates the person who makes them, these are features, not bugs. I mean, how does the Leader know if you’re truly loyal unless you’re willing to demonstrate your loyalty by inflicting harm both on others and on your own reputation?”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Paul Krugman for another superlative essay. This writer worries greatly about the prospects of the future. Regarding the new covid 19 pandemic, I harbor dark thoughts of using sticks, not carrots. Deny anyone who refused a vaccine, the right to hospital care if they get covid. I think Bret Stephens is the only writer I’ve read who has dared say this before I said it in public now. One or two other commenters are bringing us similar ideas. To continue my line of dark thinking, Protect our front line medial personnel. Let the new covid patients who refused vaccination go to a quarantine ward in a prison in the hospital to die as quickly as possible. Require proof of vaccination for everything under the sun or society has to offer. The only exemption, would be a medical one, in writing from a medical doctor, corroborated by a government agency, such as the CDC.
David is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews

How Do You Stop Robocalls? – The New York Times

“The calls look vaguely familiar, as if they could be coming from a neighbor’s phone. Sometimes they’re ominous warnings about your Social Security number. A friendly voice pretends to be concerned about the warranty on a car you don’t have.

Americans get millions of illegal robocalls every month, despite attempts by the telecommunications industry and government agencies to stop them.

The latest effort by the Federal Communications Commission — the government agency that regulates communications — to cut down on the calls uses a technology called Stir/Shaken, which went into effect on June 30. While it has nothing to do with James Bond and martinis, it is meant to add to the arsenal of defenses against “bad guys” who trick people.

Here’s how it works.” . . .

Spencer Bokat-Lindell | Did the Supreme Court Just Kill the Voting Rights Act? – The New York Times

Mr. Bokat-Lindell is a staff editor.

This article is part of the Debatable newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Bans on ballot collectionLimits on vote-by-mail drop boxesShorter hours at polling places. Across the country, Republican legislatures are passing laws to make it harder to vote. Which is why, for proponents of expansive voting rights, the Supreme Court decision last week upholding two such laws could scarcely have come at a worse time.

“What is tragic here is that the court has (yet again) rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent, which was joined by the two other liberal justices. “What is tragic is that the court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’” “

14th Amendment legal definition of 14th Amendment

Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

Source: 14th Amendment legal definition of 14th Amendment

Thomas L. Friedman | Want to Get Trump Re-elected? Dismantle the Police. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Like everyone else, I look forward to a summer of reconnecting with family and friends and relishing a good ole Fourth of July barbecue — unmasked! But I will be doing so with a pit in my stomach, because just beneath the surface calm in America, volcanic forces are gathering that could blow the lid off our democracy. We are living in a fool’s paradise. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Three recent news stories have me terrified:

First are the unfolding reports about how Donald Trump’s Justice Department secretly seized the personal data of journalists and Democrats in Congress from phone and tech companies while investigating leaks, and even secured Trump’s own White House counsel’s data. Now imagine what would happen if Trump was re-elected in 2024 by his cultlike following and he didn’t have to worry about facing voters again? He’d be out of control.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Bravo Thomas Friedman. When you are good, you’re great. You end, “This is political dynamite for Democrats. The Trump-cult G.O.P. will pound them on this policing issue. Biden needs to keep rallying his party tightly around his right answer: transformed policing and sufficient policing — not defunding the police. Because if people feel forced to choose security over democracy — concerns about stealing outside their door over stealing an election — beware: Way too many will choose Trump and his cult.” I couldn’t take fault with anything in your piece, but I worry that unarmed old progressives like myself would be sorry partners in a civil war. While I enjoyed the top comments, they didn’t ever address directly your essay or its multiple points. It makes me wonder if the NYT comments section, which I love, should add a new category, On Topic, next to, Reader Picks, and NYT Picks, that would steer some of us to comments that actually address the essay that provides the forum, but is often ignored, or replied to only obliquely. While this might be a silly idea, or way to much work, maybe there is a solution. I will start rereading the NYT Picks, to see if they have a quiet bias towards this desire I have, to see writers address the essay at hand. Friedman is right to warn us of how dire this Defund the Police language will be to the future of our democracy. Here in Hamden CT, there are young radicalized progressive no nothings that spout Defund the Police, hurting Democrats.

Opinion | Bill Bratton Discusses Police Reform With Maureen Dowd – The New York Times

Bratton first ran the N.Y.P.D. in the mid-90s, as Rudy Giuliani’s commissioner, trying “to take back a city that was out of control.” After he appeared on the cover of Time in 1996 in a trench coat under the Brooklyn Bridge, his relationship to a petty Giuliani went kaput.

Bratton adds that Giuliani “had such awful relations with the Black community and the Black leadership, it really prevented police commissioners, myself included, from developing relationships that we would love to have made with the Black community.”

Credit…Chad Batka for The New York Times

“. . .  It must’ve been strange to watch Rudy devolve into a two-bit henchman for a former reality TV star, and to see the feds’ recent predawn raid of Giuliani’s home and office.

“As somebody who’s got a big ego, speaking about another guy with a big ego, I can’t understand how he allowed himself to be subsumed by Trump,” says Bratton. “He’s made a caricature of himself and he’s lost the image of America’s mayor because of the antics of the last two or three years.”

I ask about the hypocrisy of Donald Trump, claiming to support the police and then siccing the mob on the Capitol Police.

“We saw how pro-police that mob was, didn’t we?” Bratton says dryly. “I know a lot of the cops really liked Trump because they feel he stands up for them against a lot of progressives. I personally believe that he was encouraging that insurrection that day.”

Bratton says it’s “shameful and disgraceful” that Republicans on Friday blocked the bill to create a commission to investigate Jan. 6, adding that “without the Capitol Police, our country would have failed on that day.”  . . .”

Bayh–Dole Act – Wikipedia recommended by B. Migliorini

The Bayh–Dole Act or Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act (Pub. L. 96-517, December 12, 1980) is United States legislation dealing with inventions arising from federal government-funded research. Sponsored by two senatorsBirch Bayh of Indiana and Bob Dole of Kansas, the Act was adopted in 1980, is codified at 94 Stat. 3015, and in 35 U.S.C. § 200–212,[1] and is implemented by 37 C.F.R. 401 for federal funding agreements with contractors[2] and 37 C.F.R 404 for licensing of inventions owned by the federal government.[3]

A key change made by Bayh–Dole was in the procedures by which federal contractors that acquired ownership of inventions made with federal funding could retain that ownership. Before the Bayh–Dole Act, the Federal Procurement Regulation required the use of a patent rights clause that in some cases required federal contractors or their inventors to assign inventions made under contract to the federal government unless the funding agency determined that the public interest was better served by allowing the contractor or inventor to retain principal or exclusive rights.[4] The National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Commerce had implemented programs that permitted non-profit organizations to retain rights to inventions upon notice without requesting an agency determination.[5] By contrast, Bayh–Dole uniformly permits non-profit organizations and small business firm contractors to retain ownership of inventions made under contract and which they have acquired, provided that each invention is timely disclosed and the contractor elects to retain ownership in that invention. [6]

A second key change with Bayh-Dole was to authorize federal agencies to grant exclusive licenses to inventions owned by the federal government.[7]

Source: Bayh–Dole Act – Wikipedia

Neal K. Katyal | Release the Barr-Trump Memo on Obstruction of Justice – The New York Times

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown Law School, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“The Biden Justice Department appears to be making a serious mistake by trying to keep secret a Trump-era document about former Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to clear his boss, former President Donald Trump, of obstructing justice.

The American people have a right to see the memo. Then they can decide whether Mr. Barr used his power as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer as a shield to protect the president.

This month, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered it released. Were this an ordinary criminal case, her order would represent a remarkable intrusion into prosecutorial secrecy, and I would have appealed when I was acting solicitor general.

But the document is anything but ordinary. It concerns attempts at the highest levels of government to shield the attorney general’s boss from criminal liability. It is, in essence, the people’s memo, and with its appeal, the Justice Department is attempting to hide it from public scrutiny.”   . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Bravo Neal K. Katyal. I suspected that if I kept reading about this, it might evenually make some sense that I could mostly understand. Thank you for putting a complex set of issues in mostly plain English. Since I was able to follow this report, I can heartily agree with your conclusion, that the judge is right, the rights of the governed here trump the needs of Justice Department posecutorial protection. Pun intended. I hope to hear from you soon, about whether there is a good case to make against Trump for obstruction of justice? Can it be valid now that he is a mere citizen? Are Presidents forever above the law?

Gail Collins | Who Sold That Gun? Nobody’s Telling. – The New York Times

“. . .  It’s very possible he acquired the gun in a street deal, or borrowed it from a friend. But we’re not going to learn anything about who originally purchased it, or where. That’s because — bet you didn’t know this, people — it’s illegal for the authorities who track this stuff to let the public know.

Yes! This is thanks to the Tiahrt amendment, first passed in 2003, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing information with … almost anybody. It also limits the F.B.I.’s ability to hang onto gun background check data, requiring its quick destruction. All in all, the idea is to give gun dealers approximately as much right to privacy as cloistered nuns.

Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman from Kansas, has been out of office since his political career crashed in 2010 because of an unfortunate attempt to move up to the Senate. But his amendment lives on and on and on. As a result, it’s pretty much impossible for the public to know if there are one or two particular gun dealers in their town who’ve sold a whopping number of weapons that were later used in crimes.

“The A.T.F. has a tremendous amount of data,” said Josh Scharff, legal counsel for Brady, the gun-safety advocacy organization. Five percent of gun dealers, Scharff said, are responsible for selling 90 percent of the guns used in crimes.   . . .   “