Opinion | The Real Theft of American Democracy – By Carol Anderson – The New York Times

By Carol Anderson
Dr. Anderson is the author of “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy.”

March 14, 2019, 19 c
Image: Mark Harris, President Donald Trump and Ted Budd during a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C. in 2018.
Credit Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

“On Tuesday, the Justice Department opened an investigation into alleged election fraud in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. Neither the details of the crime nor the culprits, however, match the scenario that has led to an array of Voter ID laws, voter roll purges and similar efforts “to protect the integrity of the ballot box.”

The Republicans would have the nation believe that the threat to our democracy is from voter fraud, where someone impersonates someone else to cast an illegal ballot or multiple ballots to “steal elections.” But the chance of voter fraud occurring is, at best, 0.0000044 percent.

The real theft of American democracy happens through election fraud and voter suppression. And Republicans are the thieves.

What happened in North Carolina during the 2018 midterms was a textbook case of election fraud. That’s when a candidate’s campaign sets out to manipulate vote tallies to steal an election.”

Opinion | The Case for Reparations – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

March 7, 2019,  1194

“I’ve been traveling around the country for the past few years studying America’s divides — urban/rural, red/blue, rich/poor. There’s been a haunting sensation the whole time that is hard to define. It is that the racial divide doesn’t feel like the other divides. There is a dimension of depth to it that the other divides don’t have. It is more central to the American experience.

One way to capture it is to say that the other divides are born out of separation and inequality, but the racial divide is born out of sin. We don’t talk about sin much in the public square any more. But I don’t think one can grasp the full amplitude of racial injustice without invoking the darkest impulses of human nature.

So let’s look at a sentence that was uttered at a time when the concept of sin was more prominent in the culture. The sentence is from Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address. Lincoln had just declared that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. He was fondly hoping and fervently praying that the scourge of war would pass away. But then he added this thought:

“Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” “

Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter | Benjamin Lee | Film | The Guardian

Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter
Benjamin Lee
Benjamin Lee
The comedian-actor has been chosen to take charge of next year’s awards ceremony but a history of hateful remarks suggest he’s not the man for the job

@benfraserlee
Wed 5 Dec 2018 16.52 EST Last modified on Thu 27 Dec 2018 09.26 EST
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Kevin Hart in 2015. Why, when the Academy is desperate to show a more inclusive side would Hart seem an appropriate host?
Kevin Hart in 2015. Why, when the Academy is desperate to show a more inclusive side would Hart seem an appropriate host? Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
At first glance, the Academy picking the ebullient and experienced comedian-actor Kevin Hart to host the 2019 Oscars seems like a smart pick.

The 39-year-old star of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ride Along has quipped his way to becoming one of the most dependable box office stars working today with his films totalling over $3.5bn worldwide. His social media presence has also been a major key to his success with 34 million followers on Twitter and over 65 million on Instagram and with ratings for the ceremony continuing to spiral down, the Academy clearly hopes he’ll help draw viewers back in.

After two years of straight white host Jimmy Kimmel’s rather dull shtick and after an increased push to improve the diversity of voters, choosing an African American host is also a much-needed leap forward on stage.

But there’s one small catch.

Hart has a rather vile history of documented homophobia, ranging from offensive standup clangers to dumb interview statements to puerile tweets to a whole embarrassing film filled with it. In 2010 during his Seriously Funny standup special, Hart delivered an extended joke based on a fear of his three-year-old son Hendrix turning out gay.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/dec/05/oscars-host-kevin-hart-homophobia-is-no-laughing-matter

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One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay. That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will. Now with that being said, I don’t know if I handled my son’s first gay moment correctly. Every kid has a gay moment but when it happens, you’ve got to nip it in the bud!

Source: Oscars host Kevin Hart’s homophobia is no laughing matter | Benjamin Lee | Film | The Guardian

Opinion | Not the Fun Kind of Feminist – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

Image
Andrea Dworkin in 2000. Feminists have started invoking Ms. Dworkin, who died in 2005, in a spirit of respect and rediscovery.CreditCreditColin McPherson/Corbis, via Getty Images

By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 22, 2019, 171″For decades now, Andrea Dworkin has existed in the feminist imagination mostly as a negative example, the woman no one wanted to be.

An anti-porn, anti-prostitution militant in the feminist sex wars of the late 1970s and 1980s, she sometimes seemed like a misogynist caricature of a women’s rights activist, a puritanical battle ax in overalls out to smite men for their appetites. Dworkin never actually wrote that all sex is rape, a claim often attributed to her, but she did see heterosexual intercourse as almost metaphysically degrading, calling it, in her 1987 book “Intercourse,” “the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.” Feminism would spend decades defining itself against her bleak, dogmatic vision.

So it’s been striking to see that recently, feminists have started invoking Dworkin, who died in 2005, in a spirit of respect and rediscovery. The cultural critic Jessa Crispin castigated contemporary feminists for their wholesale abandonment of Dworkin’s work in her 2017 book “Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto.” Rebecca Traister listed Dworkin’s “Intercourse” as one of the books that inspired her 2018 best seller “Good and Mad.” The Wing, the network of fashionable women’s co-working spaces and social clubs, sells enameled pins of Dworkin’s face.

A new anthology of Dworkin’s work, “Last Days at Hot Slit,” is out this month, edited by Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholder. (“Last Days at Hot Slit” was a working title for a version of the manuscript that became Dworkin’s first book, “Woman Hating.”) Reading Dworkin now, Fateman wrote in a recent essay in The New York Review of Books, “beyond the anti-porn intransigence she’s both reviled and revered for, one feels a prescient apocalyptic urgency, one perfectly calibrated, it seems, to the high stakes of our time.” (Fateman, an art critic who used to be in a band, Le Tigre, with Riot Grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna, is also working on an experimental nonfiction book based on Dworkin’s life.)

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

So what it is in Dworkin’s long-neglected oeuvre that has suddenly become resonant? Perhaps it’s simply because we’re in a moment of crisis, when people seeking solutions are dusting off all sorts of radical ideas. But I think it’s more than that. Dworkin was engaged, as many women today are engaged, in a pitched cultural battle over whose experiences and assumptions define our common reality. As she wrote of several esteemed male writers in a 1995 preface to “Intercourse,” “I love the literature these men created; but I will not live my life as if they are real and I am not.”

Dworkin was unapologetically angry, as so many women today are. Even before 2016, you could see this anger building in the emergence of new words to describe maddening male behaviors that had once gone unnamed — manspreading, mansplaining. Then came the obscene insult of Donald Trump’s victory. It seems like something sprung from Dworkin’s cataclysmic imagination, that America’s most overtly fascistic president would also be the first, as far as we know, to have appeared in soft-core porn films. I think Trump’s victory marked a shift in feminism’s relationship to sexual liberation; as long as he’s in power, it’s hard to associate libertinism with progress.

And so Dworkin, so profoundly out of fashion just a few years ago, suddenly seems prophetic. “Our enemies — rapists and their defenders — not only go unpunished; they remain influential arbiters of morality; they have high and esteemed places in the society; they are priests, lawyers, judges, lawmakers, politicians, doctors, artists, corporation executives, psychiatrists and teachers,” Dworkin said in a lecture she wrote in 1975, included in “Last Days at Hot Slit.” Maybe this once sounded paranoid. After Trump’s election, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and revelations of predation by men including Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Larry Nassar and countless figures in the Catholic Church, her words seem frighteningly perceptive.”

No Kneeling During Super Bowl LIII National Anthem- but Still Plenty of Talk – The New York Times

 

David Lindsay:  Kathleen and I watched the super bowl, without our usual guests, who were all on family leave. By and large, it was good football, though I felt that the game is getting more violent in that the definition of of interference with the receiver has gotten looser, not tighter. It was a guilty pleasure, since I have at least three reasons to boycott the event. First, the black quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been allowed to play since the season in 2016 when he took a knee against police shootings of unarmed black men, and second, the brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., makes the whole thing something to revise or avoid. Third, the NFL is guilty of false claims. They insist this is the world championship, which is nonesense. They are not international like the real international sport of football at the World Cup.
The reason for this post is to share the rap video by Ava Duvernay in honor of Colin Kaepernick in the NYT article below. I’m afraid it is exactly what the white billionaires’s club of NFL owners deserves.

By Ken Belson
Feb. 4, 2019, 1
ATLANTA — Dr. Bernice A. King, the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, was brought out to midfield for the coin toss before the start of Super Bowl LIII. She was joined by two other titanic civil rights leaders, Ambassador Andrew Young and Representative John Lewis.

Before the game began, the N.F.L. also played a video in the stadium that included images of Dr. King and other civil rights leaders, interspersed with images of N.F.L. players doing charity work.

On television, CBS ran a public service announcement that showed Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives touring the Ebenezer Baptist Church and other landmarks associated with Martin Luther King Jr.

For the many Super Bowl viewers who do not closely follow the league, and perhaps many who do, such imagery probably came across as proper and right for a game played in Atlanta, known as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement.

Yet it underscored something else, a league still struggling with race and seeking a balance between fans and players who find no reason to talk about it and those who find it front and center in a simmering controversy over a player who has not played a down since the 2016 season.

The presence of the civil rights leaders did not seem to win over supporters of the player, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who in 2016 began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality against people of color and has not played a down since that season.

Even before the game, many resolved not to watch, including the film director Ava DuVernay, who accused the N.F.L. of “racist treatment of @Kaepernick7” and lamented an “ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of players.”

Ava DuVernay tweets:

@ava
I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players. To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap

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Opinion | Righting 150 Years of Wrong in Florida – 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.

Jan. 11, 2019, 61 c
A referendum in Florida last November ended some of the harshest voting restrictions in the nation for those with criminal records.
Credit
Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

“This week, as many as 1.4 million Floridians became eligible for full citizenship again — thanks to millions of their neighbors who voted overwhelmingly in November to restore ballot access to people with felony convictions who have served their time.

It was restorative justice far too long in the making.

After the Civil War, Florida — like many other states in the South — barred anyone with a criminal conviction from voting. Aimed at denying freed slaves full participation in democracy, the policy affected every election in Florida from Reconstruction through 2018, when races for governor and the Senate were so close that they required recounts.

Credit for the largest enfranchisement since women’s suffrage a century ago goes to a determined advocacy campaign, which built enough support that Amendment 4 easily cleared the 60 percent threshold needed for ratification. It went into effect on Tuesday and extended this basic right to Floridians convicted of all felonies except for murder and aggravated sexual offenses.

The sight of so many Americans eagerly registering to vote was a rare bright spot in a nation where the right to representative government is under strain from onerous ID laws and computerized gerrymandering.”

Opinion | Can a Corpse Give Birth? – BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD – The New York Times

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD DEC. 28 2018

“Rarely will a woman who lost an unborn child be charged with murder. Yet the mere existence of criminal statutes aimed at forcing women to make decisions to protect their fetuses — even at the expense of their own health — has injected fear into maternity wards and operating rooms, complicating even routine health care decisions.

Sometimes doctors or nurses are overzealous. In Florida, a doctor told Lisa Epsteen that he was sending law enforcement to her home if she didn’t report immediately to the hospital for a C-section. In New Jersey, a woman known in court documents as V.M. lost custody of her newborn for years after refusing to have her baby delivered surgically. The baby was born vaginally — and in full health — but put in foster care.

Other times, in many states, doctors and nurses — the very people who are meant to help pregnant women — are required to report suspected drug use to the police. The threat of prison and losing custody of their children drives pregnant women who suffer from addiction or mental illness away from much-needed prenatal care and treatment.”

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.”

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

Image
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
Image
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.