Showdown Vote in Senate on Friday With Government Shutdown at Stake – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Senate is heading toward a showdown vote on Friday on legislation to keep the government open past midnight, and Democrats appear ready to block it, gambling that a weakened President Trump will have to offer concessions in the face of a looming government crisis.

After the House cleared stopgap spending legislation on Thursday that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16, Senate Republicans are set to test whether Democrats will make good on their promise to move the government toward a shutdown. But Democrats appear intent on securing concessions that would, among other things, protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, increase domestic spending, aid Puerto Rico and bolster the government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

And they hope that Mr. Trump, scorched by the firestorm prompted by his vulgar, racially tinged comments on Africa last week, will be forced back to the negotiating table.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Democrats should not participate in shutting down the govenment. The GOP will never let the public forget about it. Shutting down the govetnment over DACA, which is playing a major identity politics card, is political madness, even if it is morally and economically correct. Democrats, don’t pander to your base, when you want to own the center. In that sin, you mimic the Republicans, who have dishonored themselves and the country, by ignoring or obfuscating the meddling by Russia in our elections, and by turning the EPA against its own mission of protecting the environment, and of protecting Americans and all people and species from life-threatening pollution.
x
David Lindsay Jr. blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Trump Is a Racist. Period. – by Charles Blow – NYT

“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.

So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.”

David Lindsay: “Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.”
Yes, true, and this is a fine op-ed, but racism is also a complicated set of discriminatory ideas or practices, that infect even many of the most scrupulously moral people, because of attitudes thalt are in the society, or are molded by difficult encounters with poor and disturbed people, who are often people from a different skin color and culture. By this larger, more complex definition, all humans have some racism, but the most moral humans try to be aware of their racism, and using intellect, try not to be ruled by racist attitudes that were part of their upbringing or general culture.

Here is the top comment, which I endorsed and recommend:

Socrates

is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona. NJ 1 day ago

“I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it,” said LBJ to his young aide Bill Moyers in 1960.

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

And four years later, after LBJ signed The Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, LBJ was euphoric, but late that very night the same aide Moyers found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the early edition of The Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day, and Moyers asked him what was troubling him.

“I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come,” said LBJ.

Here we sit 50-plus years later – certainly a much better and more evolved country – but still deeply cursed by LBJ’s prescience and the wretched fumes of white privilege, white supremacy and the radical rich right-wing that foments racism for political power and economic pillaging and plundering.

Trump perfectly personifies the conjoining of Republican evil – psychopathic greed hiding strategically behind the wall of psychopathic racism, fear and loathing that has served its 0.1% Randian overlords grotesquely well since 1968 to divide, conquer and shatter America into a shoddy, fake democracy of rural rubes cheering for 18th century coal as rest of the world ramps up on solar, wind, a better education and better job skills.

https://goo.gl/YpJ7pf

Grand Old Poison 2017

 

Robots Can’t Vote- but They Helped Elect Trump – by Thomas Edsall – NYT

My god, this is imortant imformation. Thank you Thomas Edsall et al.

“When you look across America to see where jobs and wages have been lost to robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation, it is the middle of the country that stands apart from the rest.The accompanying map, which was produced by Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University, shows the size and scope of the region that has borne the brunt of postindustrial modernization.”

Trump’s Threat to Democracy – by Nicholas Kristof- NYT

“Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.“A politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors at Harvard, write in their important new book, “How Democracies Die,” which will be released next week.

“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.” ”

Yes. Here is the top comment I endorse:
Mike Roddy is a trusted commenter Alameda, Ca 2 hours ago
I spent a couple of years in Venezuela early in Chavez, reign, and saw the country’s decline up close. Included was utter corruption, even by South American standards, and a President who reflexively lied to the public during eight hour speeches on TV every Sunday.

The Venezuelans laughed at him and shrugged their shoulders, knowing that the elections were rigged and they were helpless. American left wingers didn’t do their homework, and somehow believed his schtick.

The lesson here is that we cannot underestimate the president, for many reasons.

1. Trump won’t decide to follow democratic norms, since he comes from a real estate background that included bribery, partnerships with criminals, and refusals to honor contracts.
2. Strengthening democratic norms is wise, but our attacks on the President must be blunt and relentless. This is not just another blowhard, but rather a dangerous, and murderous, potential dictator.
3. How can someone be expected to obey democratic norms when he doesn’t even know the words to the national anthem?
4. This is the most important: The oligarchs who back Trump- Mercer, Adelson, Koch, and the entire fossil fuel industry- also don’t care about democracy. They are waist deep in global bribery and environmental carnage. The press has been negligent in rarely making those connections. Many of Trump’s staffing decisions were dictated by them.

Your turn, New York Times. You’ve been OK so far (apart from ignoring #4), but without you we lose.

215 Recommended

Everyone in Trumpworld Knows He’s an Idiot – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

DL: Michelle Goldberg is the newest young voice to join the NYT op-ed page as a regular. What a well written piece. I couldn’t recommend any of the top comments to this essay, since they refused to even acknowledge the gifted writer which provided the platform for their add ons, mostly a pile on.

I finally got to reading my new subscription to the Wall Street Journal the other day, and was disappointed at how hateful, scornful and arrogant the lead editorial was against the Democrats, using fake news to attack the Trump administration. The polarization between the parties is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime, and over the Vietnam war, it was ferocious.

“Trumpworld” might be misleading. It refers to his White house senior staff, cabinet and senior advisors.

“One of the more alarming anecdotes in “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s incendiary new book about Donald Trump’s White House, involves the firing of James Comey, former director of the F.B.I. It’s not Trump’s motives that are scary; Wolff reports that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were “increasingly panicked” and “frenzied” about what Comey would find if he looked into the family finances, which is incriminating but unsurprising. The terrifying part is how, in Wolff’s telling, Trump sneaked around his aides, some of whom thought they’d contained him.

“For most of the day, almost no one would know that he had decided to take matters into his own hands,” Wolff writes. “In presidential annals, the firing of F.B.I. director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own.” Now imagine Trump taking the same approach toward ordering the bombing of North Korea.

Wolff’s scabrous book comes out on Friday — the publication date was moved up amid a media furor — but I was able to get an advance copy. It’s already a consequential work, having precipitated a furious rift between the president and his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who told Wolff that the meeting Donald Trump Jr. brokered with Russians in the hope of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” On Thursday the president’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff’s publisher, Henry Holt, demanding that it stop publication, claiming, among other things, defamation and invasion of privacy. This move would be fascistic if it weren’t so farcical. (While some have raised questions about Wolff’s methods, Axios reports that he has many hours of interviews recorded.)”

The Mystery of the Crime Decline – David Leonhardt – NYT – Stop and Frisk Failed.

Stop and Frisk failed.

“As you probably know by now, I’m a fan of journalistic self-criticism, and Smith has engaged in some of it this week. His piece for National Review is called simply, “We Were Wrong About Stop-and-Frisk.” He notes that crime has continued to decline under de Blasio. “To compare today’s crime rate to even that of ten years ago is to observe a breathtaking decline,” Smith adds.”

Trump’s Attention Economy – by Charles Blow – NYT

“On Tuesday, Donald Trump unleashed yet another tweet storm from within his unceasing drought of competence.

In a series of 16 tweets, Trump lied, boasted, lashed out, bemoaned, provoked, belittled and prodded.In other words, Trump began this year the way he ended the last one: eroding and reducing the office of the presidency on a daily basis.His most consequential tweet was a boast about destructive power:“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Sir, this is not a missile-measuring contest. No one wants to think about the size of your button. You seem to think that the effects of a nuclear strike would be the verification of your virility rather than the loss of innumerable lives.”

Good column and comments. Here is my favorite comment, of the 10 or 15 I read.

Cathy Hopewell junction ny 6 hours ago
We are watching Trump jettison the people who coached him into power, and to try to contain an investigation into the lives of the people he has not yet fired. He exposed his family to harm, by giving them roles they don’t understand in a game they don’t know how to play. And it looks like the Russians, who do know how to play the game, are winning.

And the rest of us suffer. I now understand how it feels to be the hero in a Greek tragedy, who suffers at the hands of capricious gods, for no real reason at all, except that they felt the hero got too uppity. Government is something inflicted upon us, and we can take the consequences, or turn ourselves into laurel trees.

And it is important to understand, if Greek tragedy is our model, not to depend on Mueller to be our Deus Ex Machina, Gods never descend to save the day until it is too late.

217 Recommended

Two Ways of Looking at Gerrymandering – by Linda Greenhouse – NYT

“Even though Doug Jones won a famous statewide victory in last month’s Alabama Senate race, he actually lost — less famously — to Roy Moore in six of the state’s seven congressional districts. That’s right: He carried only the heavily black Seventh Congressional District, into which the Alabama Legislature has jammed almost a third of the state’s African-American population while making sure that the rest of the districts remain safely white and Republican.

That’s gerrymandering in the raw. Something equally raw, although less overtly racial, happened in Maryland back in 2011, when the overwhelmingly Democratic State Legislature decided that one Republican out of Maryland’s eight-member congressional delegation was one Republican too many. The 2010 census required the state to shrink the majority-Republican Sixth District by 10,000 people in order to restore one-person, one-vote equality among the districts. Seeing its opportunity for some major new line-drawing, the Legislature conducted a population transfer. It moved 66,417 Republican voters out of the district while moving into it 24,460 Democratic voters from safely Democratic adjoining districts, a swing of more than 90,000 votes. And guess what? The 20-year Republican incumbent, Roscoe Bartlett, lost the 2012 election to the Democratic candidate, John Delaney, who has won re-election ever since.”

Yes. Here is the top comment I endorsed:

Brad

is a trusted commenter San Diego County, California 5 hours ago

Every time I read about the problem of gerrymandering and how districts are drawn to favor one party or another I keep thinking about conversations with Europeans about how they deal with gerrymandering.

One approach is not to have small electoral districts but rather have multiple seats open in a single state. A parliamentary style election in which party has a list of candidates allows proportional representation. If 40% of voters vote for a Republican, 35% for a Democrat, 15% for Libertarians and 10% for the Greens, those percentages determine the allocation of seats.

Alternatively is to have non-partisan “boundary commissions” as they are called in Great Britain. A similar approach is used in California and Arizona.

Gerrymandering – combined with corporate funding of candidates – has corroded American political system.

 

The Retreat to Tribalism – by David Brooks – NYT

“Imagine three kids running around a maypole, forming a chain with their arms. The innermost kid is holding the pole with one hand. The faster they run, the more centrifugal force there is tearing the chain apart. The tighter they grip, the more centripetal force there is holding the chain together. Eventually centrifugal force exceeds centripetal force and the chain breaks.

That’s essentially what is happening in this country, N.Y.U.’s Jonathan Haidt argued in a lecture delivered to the Manhattan Institute in November. He listed some of the reasons centrifugal forces may now exceed centripetal: the loss of the common enemies we had in World War II and the Cold War, an increasingly fragmented media, the radicalization of the Republican Party, and a new form of identity politics, especially on campus.

Haidt made the interesting point that identity politics per se is not the problem. Identity politics is just political mobilization around group characteristics. The problem is that identity politics has dropped its centripetal elements and become entirely centrifugal.Martin Luther King described segregation and injustice as forces tearing us apart. He appealed to universal principles and our common humanity as ways to heal prejudice and unite the nation. He appealed to common religious principles, the creed of our founding fathers and a common language of love to drive out prejudice. King “framed our greatest moral failing as an opportunity for centripetal redemption,” Haidt observed.”

DL: David Brooks has written a challenging piece, and it is full of great points, but it is so abstract as to be almost meaningless. Does he really mean that college professors and their students are as responsible as Donald Trump and the GOP for centrifugal forces tearing apart America? A second, careful reading suggests that Brooks is in fact aiming most of his barbs at Trump and the GOP, but so abstactly, that he maintains a distance, even deniability. Many of the commenters point out that it is mostly the GOP that is doing many things to undermine our democracy and its principles, as they cater to the desires of the billionaire donors.

Here is a comment, that though it fails to recognize that a few Republicans are not pleased with GOP radicalism, I endorse:
B. USA 3 hours ago
The right spends a significant amount of its time and effort to make it harder for individuals to participate politically, while making it easier for corporations and organizations with vast sums of untraceable money to be included in the political process.

The right has been driving wedges and creating an us-vs-them atmosphere since Reagan declared “government is the problem” and demonized freedom of association by attacking unions which work for the common good.

The right has abandoned the notion of truth, has abandoned education for all, and has abandoned traditional moral values in favor of dogmatism, science denial, exclusivity, and power-grabbing at any cost. The current leader of the right now sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania is the embodiment of GOP beliefs and practices brought to life.

After 30 years of attacks on American values and decency, the left has finally said “Enough!” and have started to speak out. Suddenly Brooks et.al. think the nation has become divided as never before.

The nation has been divided for a long time; it’s only recently that the left has decided things have gone too far in the wrong direction and it’s time to fight back, to fight for American values of honesty, decency, and inclusion. There is a big blue wave just over the horizon, and it’s going to sweep away anyone who is not willing to stand up for traditional American values of honesty, decency, inclusion, and a fair deal for all.

FlagReply 305 Recommended

7 Wishes for 2018 – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Well, at least it’s not 2017 anymore.

I expect that future historians will look back on it as one of the darker non-war years in the country’s history — a year when the president lied constantly, America’s global influence suffered and Congress used its mighty powers to enrich the rich. Yet the long view of American history still offers reason for optimism. We usually figure out how to emerge from our darker periods.In the hope that 2018 represents at least the start of a turning point, I offer seven New Year’s wishes:Republicans stand up for the rule of law. The country’s most urgent problem is the possibility that the president will impede an investigation into illegal behavior by his aides and possibly himself.

President Trump clearly wants to do so. His allies are defaming Robert Mueller even though Mueller is a longtime Republican, a successful F.B.I. director and a decorated Marine who’s now pursuing matters of national interest, such as: Does a hostile foreign power have influence over American officials? And did the president use illegal tactics in his campaign?Republicans in Congress can make sure that the country gets answers. They can refuse to tolerate any disruption of Mueller’s investigation, including the firing of him or his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. If Trump tries to go there, his fellow Republicans can tell him that his presidency would effectively be over. Privately and publicly, they should be saying so now.”

Yes, and here is a top commeent I endorsed:
ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 13 hours ago
It’s still 2017 by my clock, here in MA at 10:25. I hope the next 1.5 hours pass as slowly as 2017 seemed to.

David Leonhardt, I like your list of wishes for 2018, particularly your first priority: that the Mueller investigation proceed unimpeded. Never before has democracy seemed under such a dark cloud, not even during Watergate when the nation wasn’t as polarized, and most recognized right from wrong.

In your next to last wish, towards the tail end of “creeping” authoritarianism, you cast a personal call for higher voter turnout.

The figures you cite are appalling–“It was only 42 percent in the last midterm, in 2014, compared with more than 60 percent in recent presidential elections…..groups with the potential to increase their political say are 18- to 24-year olds (17 percent citizen turnout in 2014); Asian-Americans (27 percent); and Latinos (also 27 percent).”

To preserve the world’s oldest continuous democracy, we must do better, if only to provide a good example to the next generation.

But hand in hand with higher voter rates is education–informed voters not only make more informed choices, but also better citizens.

Because without a shared understanding of our past, as well as a consensus regarding our obligations and rights as citizens, how can we preserve our freedoms from hostile forces right here at home?

FlagReply 192 Recommended

Related to the 7th point, hoping we all manage to escape and stay centered, last night for New Year’s Eve I went to White Plains NY to an English Country dance which was marvelous. Like the Morris and Sword Team I started and still dance with in New Haven, The Country Dancers of Westchester seem like a group in danger of extinction, if they do not figure out how to attract new and younger participants.