Editorial | America Needs a Bigger House – The New York Times

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

“We’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, so why is America still operating with a House of Representatives built for the start of the 20th?

The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.

This would shock the Constitution’s framers, who set a baseline of 30,000 constituents per representative and intended for the House to grow along with the population. The possibility that it might not — that Congress would fail to add new seats and that district populations would expand out of control — led James Madison to propose what would have been the original First Amendment: a formula explicitly tying the size of the House to the total number of Americans.

The amendment failed, but Congress still expanded the House throughout the first half of the nation’s existence. The House of Representatives had 65 members when it was first seated in 1789, and it grew in every decade but one until 1920, when it became frozen in time.”

“. . . . . There’s a better solution, which involves bringing America into line with other mature democracies, where national legislatures naturally conform to a clear pattern: Their size is roughly the cube root of the country’s population. Denmark, for instance, has a population of 5.77 million. The cube root of that is 179, which happens to be the size of the Folketing, Denmark’s parliament.

For all countries other than the United States, the size of the national legislature is calculated using only the larger chamber. For the United States, the number refers to the combined size of the House and the Senate. This is because the United States Senate is a more significant lawmaking body than the smaller chambers of other countries. Source: O.E.C.D.

This isn’t some crazy Scandinavian notion. In fact, the House of Representatives adhered fairly well to the so-called cube-root law throughout American history — until 1911. Applying that law to America’s estimated population in 2020 would expand the House to 593 members, after subtracting the 100 members of the Senate.

That would mean adding 158 members. To some, this might sound like 158 too many. But it’s an essential first step in making the “People’s House” — and American government broadly — more reflective of American society today.”

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Opinion | Let the People Vote – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

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Voters waiting in a long line to vote in the 2018 midterm general election, outside a polling station located at Robious Middle School in Midlothian, Virginia. CreditMichael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist, Nov. 11, 2018, 197
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Voters waiting in a long line to vote in the 2018 midterm general election, outside a polling station located at Robious Middle School in Midlothian, Virginia. CreditMichael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

“The United States finally has the pro-democracy movement that it needs.

Last week, ballot initiatives to improve the functioning of democracy fared very well. In Florida — a state divided nearly equally between right and left — more than 64 percent of voters approved restoring the franchise to 1.4 million people with felony convictions. In Colorado, Michigan and Missouri, measures to reduce gerrymandering passed. In Maryland, Michigan and Nevada, measures to simplify voter registration passed. “In red states as well as blue states,” Chiraag Bains of the think tank Demos says, “voters overwhelmingly sent the message: We’re taking our democracy back.” “

Opinion | Last Exit Off the Road to Autocracy – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Whatever happens in the midterms, the aftermath will be ugly. But the elections are nonetheless a fork in the road. If we take one path, it will offer at least a chance for political redemption, for recovering America’s democratic values. If we take the other, we’ll be on the road to autocracy, with no obvious way to get off.

It’s a near-certainty that Democrats will receive more votes than Republicans, with polling suggesting a margin in votes cast for the House of Representatives of seven or more percentage points — which would make it the biggest landslide of modern times. However, gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so that even this might not be enough to bring control of the chamber.

And even if Democrats do climb that tilted slope, anyone expecting Republicans to accept the result with good grace hasn’t been paying attention. Remember, Donald Trump claimed — falsely, of course — that millions of immigrants voted illegally in an election he won. Imagine what he’ll say if he loses, and what his supporters will do in response. And if and when a Democratic House tries to exercise its powers, you can be sure it will be met with defiance, never mind what the Constitution says.

But ugly as the scene will be if Democrats win, it will be far worse if they lose. In fact, it’s not hyperbole to say that if the G.O.P. holds the line on Tuesday, it may be the last even halfway fair elections we’ll ever have.

Opinion | Why Americans Don’t Vote (and What to Do About It) – By ALEX CEQUEA – NYT

Video by Alex Cequea Nov. 5, 201810Video00:003:363:36Why Americans Don’t Vote (and What to Do About It)If Didn’t Vote had been a candidate in the 2016 election, it would have won by a landslide.Published OnNov. 5, 2018CreditCreditAssociated PressThe United States ranks 26th out of the 32 developed countries in the world in terms of voter turnout. In the video above, we explain some of the reasons and argue that there are simple measures that would increase the number of people who show up at the polls.

Opinion | A Slow-Motion Coup in Tennessee – by Margaret Renkle – NYT

“NASHVILLE — Emblazoned on the front page of the website for Vote.org, which was founded in 2008 to increase voter turnout, there’s a quotation from Ronald Reagan: “For this Nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American’s vote to be denied, diluted, or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.”The Party of Reagan no longer shares this particular ideal, at least not here in the South. In Tennessee, transparent voter suppression efforts have included an array of tactics:Confiscating the driver’s licenses of citizens who can’t afford to pay traffic fines. This onerous law prevents the impoverished not only from voting but also from working — 93.4 percent of working Tennesseans need cars to get to their jobs — and being unable to work prevents them from paying their fines. “Since 2012, at least 250,000 driver’s licenses have been suspended for nonpayment of traffic fines and costs,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the state. Last month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering Tennessee to stop the practice of revoking licenses and requiring the state to allow people to apply to get their licenses back. The state is appealing the decision.Effectively disenfranchising college students. It’s not permissible to mail in a ballot in Tennessee unless you registered to vote in person before an election commission official, or have voted in a previous election. This law makes it extremely difficult for students to vote in national elections, which are, of course, held in November and thus in the middle of a school term. The rules about voting by mail in Tennessee are so complicated that the campaign staff of United States Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat, created a graphic to help explain it. Even the graphic is complicated.NASHVILLE — Emblazoned on the front page of the website for Vote.org, which was founded in 2008 to increase voter turnout, there’s a quotation from Ronald Reagan: “For this Nation to remain true to its principles, we cannot allow any American’s vote to be denied, diluted, or defiled. The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.”

The Party of Reagan no longer shares this particular ideal, at least not here in the South. In Tennessee, transparent voter suppression efforts have included an array of tactics:

Confiscating the driver’s licenses of citizens who can’t afford to pay traffic fines. This onerous law prevents the impoverished not only from voting but also from working — 93.4 percent of working Tennesseans need cars to get to their jobs — and being unable to work prevents them from paying their fines. “Since 2012, at least 250,000 driver’s licenses have been suspended for nonpayment of traffic fines and costs,” according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the state. Last month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case, ordering Tennessee to stop the practice of revoking licenses and requiring the state to allow people to apply to get their licenses back. The state is appealing the decision.

Effectively disenfranchising college students. It’s not permissible to mail in a ballot in Tennessee unless you registered to vote in person before an election commission official, or have voted in a previous election. This law makes it extremely difficult for students to vote in national elections, which are, of course, held in November and thus in the middle of a school term. The rules about voting by mail in Tennessee are so complicated that the campaign staff of United States Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat, created a graphic to help explain it. Even the graphic is complicated.”

Christine Hallquist Would Like to Talk About the Power Grid – The New York Times

By Liam Stack Oct. 17, 2018

“BARRE, Vt. — Christine Hallquist is the first transgender person to be nominated for governor by a major party, and she knows people are interested in hearing her life story.

She is more than happy to tell it, but the thing she really wants to talk about is the electric grid.

“The foundation of all humanity, way back to the beginning, has been energy,” she said, walking outside the Washington County Treatment Court, a drug-treatment program, on a brisk fall day. “The rise and fall of empires has been based on energy.”

Ms. Hallquist, 62, a plain-spoken Democrat who spent more than a decade running an electric utility company, has been enthralled by science and engineering ever since she was young, when classmates mocked her for being feminine and the nuns at school beat her and recommended her parents treat her nonconformity with an exorcism.”

“. . . .  And in an age when Democratic politicians stake positions around terms like “socialist” — one of many labels for which she has little use — Ms. Hallquist has made the electric grid central to her political identity.

“We can grow the hell out of this rural economy if we connect every home and business to fiber optic cable” strung alongside power lines, which could bring high-speed internet to the state’s many remote towns, she said. And by moving electricity production away from fossil fuel she believes “the electric grid could be the tool to solve climate change.” “

Opinion | We May Be Able to Get Kevin Cooper Off Death Row – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The horror began with a nighttime home invasion and the stabbings of a white family, and was compounded when sheriff’s deputies arrested and framed a black man for murder.

That’s my view, and now after 35 years the wheels of justice in California may finally be creaking into motion. I last wrote about the case two months ago, and there’s a hopeful development: Gov. Jerry Brown seems to be moving toward allowing advanced DNA testing that may correct a gross injustice abetted by the police, prosecutors, judges, politicians and journalists.”

Opinion | For Hope in Trump’s America I Read Sojourner Truth – The New York Times

By KHADIJAH COSTLEY WHITE

DL: Not a bad piece, but a weird beginning, since it leads the reader on in thinking it will be about Sojouner Truth, when it is more about civil rights in the last 150 years.
This piece gets an A for substance, and a C for honest opening and title.
Frustrated, I went to wikipedia, and learned a lot more about Soujourner Truth, including:
“Northampton Camp Meeting—-1844, Northampton, Massachusetts: At a camp meeting where she was participating as an itinerant preacher, a band of “wild young men” disrupted the camp meeting, refused to leave, and threatened to burn down the tents. Truth caught the sense of fear pervading the worshipers and hid behind a trunk in her tent, thinking that since she was the only black person present, the mob would attack her first. However, she reasoned with herself and resolved to do something: as the noise of the mob increased and a female preacher was “trembling on the preachers’ stand,” Truth went to a small hill and began to sing “in her most fervid manner, with all the strength of her most powerful voice, the hymn on the resurrection of Christ.” Her song, “It was Early in the Morning,” gathered the rioters to her and quieted them. They urged her to sing, preach, and pray for their entertainment. After singing songs and preaching for about an hour, Truth bargained with them to leave after one final song. The mob agreed and left the camp meeting.[26]”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth

U.S. Immigration Director Threatens to Jail Elected Officials in Sanctuary Cities – Texas Monthly

“Mayors from across the state were stunned today when the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, went on Fox News and threatened to jail and prosecute elected officials in so-called sanctuary cities who do not fully cooperate with federal authorities in rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants.

“Did he mention me?” an incredulous Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked when reporters brought up the remarks.When I asked Austin mayor Steve Adler for a response, he characterized Homan’s remarks as un-American. “Threatening to jail political opponents, especially for laws they aren’t breaking, is not the America I grew up in,” he said. “Austin is the safest big city in Texas, and we follow the law. I will oppose anti-immigrant policies, regardless of the personal consequences, because spreading fear and making threats makes us all less safe.”

San Antonio Mayor Ron Mayor Nirenberg said that it’s up to the federal government to enforce immigration laws, not the local police force. “I trust our police department’s guidance on the proper way to ensure public safety to the best of our ability. Community policing requires the community’s trust in the police department,” Nirenberg said. “It is unfair to punish local law enforcement for the federal government’s failure to do its job.”

Source: U.S. Immigration Director Threatens to Jail Elected Officials in Sanctuary Cities – Texas Monthly

David Lindsay: When Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez won her NY primary for congress, we learned that she calls for the abolishing of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department that was moved from the Justice Dept to the new Homeland Security Department after 9/11, in 2001. It is hard to find any proof that ICE is doing anything unlawful or heinous, but the article above shows that Trump’s new manager is a disaster. This troglodyte Homan should be replaced, but then, so should Trump. But the Democratic party has to be careful. A majority of voting Americans want illegal immigration to be stopped. A few of us want strict rights for illegal immigrants, protection to always get paid for work performed etc, but we don’t want unlimited or even any illegal immigration. God protect us.
Trumps denial of the threat of climate change is catastrophic. Roughly 22 million of the 68 million refugees in the world are from climate change loss of livelihood or civil war. People of faith or of compassion will want to address these problems in spite of their complexity.

Opinion | Janus Decision Reins in Unions’ Political Power – The New York Times

“In its 5-4 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declared unconstitutional laws that require public employees to pay “agency fees” to unions that they refuse to join. The court’s ruling, will not, as critics fear, deliver a “death blow” to unions. But it will restore to thousands of public employees the right to decide which political causes to support with their money.”