Opinion | Why Politicians Get a License to Lie – Charles Warzel – The New York Times

” . . . .  Throughout the Trump era, the media has often found itself caught in the newsworthiness trap. In his new book, “Why We’re Polarized,” Ezra Klein, co-founder of Vox, describes this cycle as “a fortress of tautology: Whatever we are covering is newsworthy because everyone is covering it, and the fact that everyone is covering it proves that it is newsworthy.” Part of the reason for this is, as Mr. Klein writes, “to obscure the fact that the decisions being made [by the press] are decisions at all.”

Mr. Trump exploits the media’s blind newsworthiness adherence masterfully, as the political journalists dance to his tune tweet after tweet. It is even easier for those same politicians to manipulate social media, which is designed to lure users into an endless maze of amplified newsworthiness. The press ultimately must own its editorial decisions; the tech giants refuse to even admit that they make deeply consequential editorial decisions with every approved political ad and rule change.

Incendiary content from a newsworthy individual goes viral. It is given additional coverage because it went viral. The additional coverage makes it even more newsworthy and viral. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. With each iteration misinformation spreads, outrage grows, polarization hardens and politicians and those lucky enough to be considered newsworthy grow ever emboldened.

But newsworthiness is a choice masquerading as an inevitability. Amplifying lies and empowering our most divisive politicians with an endless supply of attention is not inevitable. When the press does it uncritically, citizens rightly demand accountability. We should demand the same from Big Tech.”

Opinion | The Legacy of Destructive Austerity – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

“A decade ago, the world was living in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Financial markets had stabilized, but the real economy was still in terrible shape, with around 40 million European and North American workers unemployed.

Fortunately, economists had learned a lot from the experience of the Great Depression. In particular, they knew that fiscal austerity — slashing government spending in an attempt to balance the budget — is a really bad idea in a depressed economy.

Unfortunately, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic spent the first half of the 2010s doing exactly what both theory and history told them not to do. And this wrong turn on policy cast a long shadow, economically and politically. In particular, the deficit obsession of 2010-2015 helped set the stage for the current crisis of democracy.

Why is austerity in a depressed economy a bad idea? Because an economy is not like a household, whose income and spending are separate things. In the economy as a whole, my spending is your income and your spending is my income.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Thank you Paul Krugman, this is so correct, if tragic. It is because of your ability to bring such analysis to bear on the confusing issues of our era, that I created a catelogue for you at my blog, InconvenientNews.net called:
Paul Krugman: the Oracle from MIT, Yale, Stamford, Princeton & CUNY.
I remember when you begged Barak Obama and his administration to double their stimulus spending, from about .8 to 2 trillion.You wrote that the depression was so great, that it would take a big stimulus to get the leviathan ship of state moving again in the water. If they had taken your advice then, we might never have suffered the world set back of Trump’s immature, self-centered and corrupt excuse for world leadership.

Opinion | The Party That Ruined the Planet – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“But why have Republicans become the party of climate doom? Money is an important part of the answer: In the current cycle Republicans have received 97 percent of political contributions from the coal industry, 88 percent from oil and gas. And this doesn’t even count the wing nut welfare offered by institutions supported by the Koch brothers and other fossil-fuel moguls.

However, I don’t believe that it’s just about the money. My sense is that right-wingers believe, probably correctly, that there’s a sort of halo effect surrounding any form of public action. Once you accept that we need policies to protect the environment, you’re more likely to accept the idea that we should have policies to ensure access to health care, child care, and more. So the government must be prevented from doing anything good, lest it legitimize a broader progressive agenda.

Still, whatever the short-term political incentives, it takes a special kind of depravity to respond to those incentives by denying facts, embracing insane conspiracy theories and putting the very future of civilization at risk.”

David Lindsay: Bravo Paul Krugman.  I’ve been worried about the cascading effects of the permafrost probably for about four years, and I’m pleased to see you get more concerned. Those of us who have become climate hawks need to bring round the public, who will then bring round the GOP.  I loved your piece, and I hope everyone reads all of it.

I did quibble with your assertion that the GOP “are the world’s only major climate-denialist party.”  The Bolsonara government in Brazil is now allowing the burning and cutting of the Amazon rain forest. 27% of the Amazon rain forest is now gone. In Australia, the green government was overthrown by climate change deniers, who are taking the island continent and hemishere backwards. There are regular reports of governments around the world paying lip service to the Paris accords, while ignoring their paltry pledges. A few Eastern European countries were mentioned. But welcome to the club of science, gloom and hope. I look forward to more from your mighty platform on this most urgent of all issues.

Opinion | Fire Floods and Power Outages: Our Climate Future Has Arrived – By Justin Gillis – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Gillis, a former environmental reporter for The Times, is a contributing opinion writer.

CreditCreditMichael Owen Baker/Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Now we suffer the consequences.

In Northern California, power was cut to more than a million people this week. Near Houston, houses that flooded only two years ago just succumbed again. The South endured record-shattering fall heat waves. In Miami, salt water bubbled through street drains yet again as the rising ocean mounted a fresh assault.

All of it was predicted, in general outline, decades ago. We did not listen. Ideologues and paid shills cajoled us to ignore the warnings. Politicians cashed their checks from the fossil fuel lobbyists and slithered away.

Today, we act surprised as the climate emergency descends upon us in all its ferocity.

The scientists knew long ago, and told us, that the sea would invade the coasts. They knew a hotter atmosphere would send heavier rains to inundate our cities and farms. They knew the landscape of California, which always becomes desiccated in the late summer and early fall, would dry out more in a hotter climate.

But even the scientists did not quite foresee the way that bone-dry vegetation would turn into a firebomb waiting for a spark. California is the state that has done the most to battle the climate crisis, but that has not saved it from recent fires so ferocious they burned people alive.”

“. . . . We can sit back, citizens, and watch the fires and the floods and the heat waves with a rising sense of doom. Or we can be as brave as a schoolgirl and decide that now is the time to stand up and fight.”

David Lindsay:

My favorite essay in the Times this weekend was by
Justin Gillis in the Sunday Review, NYT, Our Climate Future Has Arrived.

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy – Vincent Bugliosi – Books – The New York Times

“LOS ANGELES, May 13 — The prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars now wants to solve another crime — a really simple one, he insists. So simple that it takes only 1,612 pages to prove his case.

Vincent Bugliosi, whose prosecution of Charles Manson in 1970 led him to write one of the best-selling true-crime books of all time, “Helter Skelter,” has now turned his attention to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And that is his full attention: 20 years of research, more than one million words, hundreds of interviews, thousands of documents and more than 10,000 citations. The result, “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” (W. W. Norton), is due out tomorrow. His conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, and acted alone.

Why would such a simple conclusion require so much argument?

“Because of the unceasing and fanatical obsession of thousands of researchers over the last 43 years, from around the world but mostly in the United States,” Mr. Bugliosi said in an interview at the cafe of the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel in Studio City, Calif. “Examining under a high-powered microscope every comma, every period, every detail on every conceivable issue, and making hundreds and hundreds of allegations, they have transformed this simple case into its present form.”

Mr. Bugliosi likes to tell a story illustrating why he believes this book is necessary. In 1992, less than a year after the debut of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-minded film “J.F.K.,” Mr. Bugliosi was addressing a group of trial lawyers when a member of the audience asked him about the assassination.”

David Lindsay:  Today, I attended the Yale SEA brown bag lecture by Michele Thompson on Tue Tinh of 14th century Vietnam. At the lunch after, I talked with two of her graduate students from Southern CT State U., one of whom named Matt, mentioned this book above, which he used in his master’s paper on Richard Nixon and the history of the Republican Party through Nixon’s presidency. Matt insisted that it was impossible to read this book and not agree that Oswald did, in fact, like the Warren Commission found, acted alone. I should not be surprised that the Warren Commission did a good job, since  my uncle, John Lindsay, the mayor of NYC, and my father, David Lindsay, thought highly of it. From Wikipedia I found:

Committee

This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For – by Amanda Hess – The New York Times

“Maddow has hosted “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC at 9 p.m. five nights a week for 11 years. But over the past three, her figure has ascended, in the liberal imagination, from beloved cable-news host to a kind of oracle for the age of Trump. If her show started out as a smart, quirky, kind-of-meandering news program focusing on Republican misdeeds in the Obama years, it has become, since the 2016 election, the gathering place for a congregation of liberals hungering for an antidote to President Trump’s nihilism and disregard for civic norms.

CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

Maddow does not administer beat-downs or deliver epic rants. She is not a master of the sound bite. Instead, she carries her viewers along on a wave of verbiage, delivering baroque soliloquies about the Russian state, Trump-administration corruption and American political history. Her show’s mantra is “increasing the amount of useful information in the world,” though the people who watch it do not exactly turn to it out of a need for more information. They already read the papers and scroll through Twitter all day. What Maddow provides is the exciting rush of chasing a set of facts until a sane vision of the world finally comes into focus.”

David Lindsay:

My good friend Vin Gulisano had me over for dinner about a few years before he died, and what he really wanted to share with me was his passion for Rachel Maddow. We watched an episode, and I was ambivalent. She was sharp and articulate, but she gave her opinions loosely, as part of the news she reported, in a way that I thought was unprofessional.

The story above by Amanda Hess describes someone who has perfected a strong story telling style. I taped her show last night, and was deeply impressed. She has truly studied, relentlessly, Trump’s relations with Russia, and it gave depth and gravity to her understanding of the problems Trump now is having with the Ukraine. Her quote, from her recently published book, was shockingly news worthy and to the point. She was the first opinion journalist to say clearly, Donald will be impreached by the house, since he has already admitted to doing what he is accused of doing, asking a foreign government to meddle in our next election to help Trump.

One of my favorite commentors at the NYT.com, Christine McMorrow, had this comment about Maddow:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By the time she cut to her first commercial break, she had zoomed out so far that Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine appeared to be just one little pushpin on a map of vast global corruption.” That’s what she does, and that’s why some of us love her to death.

Yes, her monologues can be tedious (Get to the point, Rachel!) but always in the end, well worth it. She manages to pack 100 pounds of news into a 5-pound news slot, weaving and integrating building blocks of understanding. It’s truly amazing how she writes her openings, and yet, at a dime, changes them in seconds to meet the latest late-breaking.

I’ve never seen any media person like her, and consider her a rare treasure in a sea of repetitive pundits. She may urge us to watch what Trump does, not says, but in her case, I want to watch what she says, each and every night.

1 Reply625 Recommended

Opinion | ICE Came to Take Their Neighbor. They Said No. – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

When ICE officials arrived, residents of a Nashville neighborhood formed a human chain to protect an undocumented man and his 12-year-old son.

Margaret Renkl

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

CreditCreditUgc/Nashville Noticias, via Reuters

“NASHVILLE — Residents of a quiet working-class neighborhood in the Hermitage section of Nashville woke up very early on July 22 to find officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement trying to arrest one of their own.

An unmarked pickup truck with flashing red and blue lights had pulled into the man’s driveway, blocking his van. Two ICE agents armed with an administrative warrant ordered the man and his 12-year-old son to step out of their vehicle. The man, who had lived in the neighborhood for some 14 years, did exactly what the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee and Rights Coalition urges immigrants to do in such cases: He stayed put.

An administrative warrant gives officials permission to detain a suspect but it does not allow them to enter his house or vehicle. The ICE officials in that Nashville driveway were apparently counting on the man not to know that. With an administrative warrant, “there’s no judicial review, no magistrate review, no probable cause,” Daniel Ayoade Yoon, a lawyer later summoned to the house by immigration activists, told The Nashville SceneHe told WTVF, “They were saying, ‘If you don’t come out, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to arrest your 12-year-old son.’” The administrative warrant they held did not give them the authority to do either.

Neighbors witnessing the standoff were appalled. “We was like, ‘Oh my God, are you serious?’” Angela Glass told WPLN. “And that’s when everybody got mad and was like, ‘They don’t do nothing, they don’t bother nobody, you haven’t got no complaints from them. Police have never been called over there. All they do is work and take care of their family and take care of the community.’” “

David Lindsay:

To the Editor, NYT:

Regarding ICE Came to Take Their Neighbor. They Said No, By Margaret Renkl, I had several reactions. This was a strong and disturbing piece, and it is the first piece by Renkl I disapproved of.

I wonder if Reader comments were not welcome, because she sensed she was getting into murky waters. Is she arguing obliquely for open borders, and unlimited, illegal immigration? It appears she is decently cheering on humans acting for a cause greater than themselves.

My guess is that she dislikes the arbitrariness of picking on two lovely illegals, who are law abiding, accept for the fact that they broke the law to come and remain illegally in the US. Renkl is a writer, who was just praising the The Overstory, by Richard Powers, that laments the rapid extinction of thousands of non-human, tree and plant species, because we humans are over populated and we over pollute, while we cut down the forests of the world to plant things we can eat or sell. I am sorry the Margaret Renkl didn’t make any attempt to reconcile her two contradictory impulses, to protect the planet from humans, and to protect humans from suffering. I worry for her, and myself, and for all of us. A growing number of scientist suggest that humans should limit their numbers to about 4 billion, in order to survive in a sustainable and beautiful world that welcomes humans and other species together. We need to stop population growth, and illegal immigration, and the cutting down of all the forests in the world, and the burning of fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide, a notorious green-house gas. I admit I would love an organized, and humane as possible set of immigration laws, but we have to also keep track of the the costs. If we are to applaud these neighbors, for helping two lovely illegals, we should also lament that ICE also has a job, that has to be well defined and managed, and supported.

Sincerely,

David Lindsay, Hamden CT

Opinion | The Great Republican Abdication – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

Mitch McConnell hanging on President Trump’s every word.CreditBrendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“So all the “fake news” was true. A hostile foreign power intervened in the presidential election, hoping to install Donald Trump in the White House. The Trump campaign was aware of this intervention and welcomed it. And once in power, Trump tried to block any inquiry into what happened.

Never mind attempts to spin this story as somehow not meeting some definitions of collusion or obstruction of justice. The fact is that the occupant of the White House betrayed his country. And the question everyone is asking is, what will Democrats do about it?

But notice that the question is only about Democrats. Everyone (correctly) takes it as a given that Republicans will do nothing. Why?

Because the modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans may not think of it in those terms, but that’s what their behavior amounts to.”

Opinion | How Capitalism Betrayed Privacy – The New York Times

Quote

Tim Wu

By Tim Wu

Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads.”

CreditCreditErik Carter

For much of human history, what we now call “privacy” was better known as being rich. Privacy, like wealth, was something that most people had little or none of. Farmers, slaves and serfs resided in simple dwellings, usually with other people, sometimes even sharing space with animals. They had no expectation that a meaningful part of their lives would be unwatchable or otherwise off limits to others. That would have required homes with private rooms. And only rich people had those.

The spread of mass privacy, surely one of modern civilization’s more impressive achievements, thus depended on another, even more impressive achievement: the creation of a middle class. Only over the past 300 years or so, as increasingly large numbers of people gained the means to control their physical environment through the acquisition of wealth and private property, did privacy norms and eventually privacy rights come into existence. What is a right to privacy without a room of your own?

The historical link between privacy and the forces of wealth creation helps explain why privacy is under siege today. It reminds us, first, that mass privacy is not a basic feature of human existence but a byproduct of a specific economic arrangement — and therefore a contingent and impermanent state of affairs. And it reminds us, second, that in a capitalist country, our baseline of privacy depends on where the money is. And today that has changed.

The forces of wealth creation no longer favor the expansion of privacy but work to undermine it. We have witnessed the rise of what I call “attention merchants” and what the sociologist Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism” — the commodification of our personal dataClose Xby tech giants like Facebook and Google and their imitators in telecommunications, electronics and other industries. We face a future in which active surveillance is such a routine part of business that for most people it is nearly inescapable. In this respect, we are on the road back to serfdom.

 

via Opinion | How Capitalism Betrayed Privacy – The New York Times

Opinion | America the Cowardly Bully – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Quote

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

March 4, 2019,   529 c


President Trump’s trade belligerence has done lasting damage to America’s reputation.CreditCreditPete Marovich for The New York Times
This is the way the trade war ends. Not with a bang but with empty bombast.

“According to multiple news organizations, the U.S. and China are close to a deal that would effectively end trade hostilities. Under the reported deal, America would remove most of the tariffs it imposed last year. China, for its part, would end its retaliatory tariffs, make some changes to its investment and competition policies and direct state enterprises to buy specified amounts of U.S. agricultural and energy products.

The Trump administration will, of course, trumpet the deal as a triumph. In reality, however, it’s much ado about nothing much.

As described, the deal would do little to address real complaints about Chinese policy, which mainly involve China’s systematic expropriation of intellectual property. Nor would it do much to address Donald Trump’s pet although misguided peeve, the imbalance in U.S.-China trade. Basically, Trump will have backed down.

If this is the story, it will repeat what we saw on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump denounced as the “worst trade deal ever made.” In the end, what Trump negotiated — the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, or U.S.M.C.A. — was very similar to the previous status quo. Trade experts I know, when not referring to it as the Village People agreement, call it “Nafta 0.8”: fundamentally the same as Nafta, but a bit worse.”

via Opinion | America the Cowardly Bully – The New York Times