Opinion | Run  Joe  Run – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt
By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 13, 2019, 959 c

Credit
Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times

In the summer of 2016, it was becoming clear that Hillary Clinton was a weaker presidential candidate than many Democrats had expected. Some problems were of her own making (the Wall Street speeches), and some were overhyped by the media (emails!). But the bottom line was that she didn’t look like the ideal candidate for the political moment. She was an establishment insider in a populist time.

By that summer, however, it was too late for Democrats to do anything about it.

The candidates best positioned to beat Clinton, or at least sharpen her, had passed on the race, like Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders ran a strong outsider campaign. But when a socialist from Vermont wins 43 percent of the primary vote, it tells you something about the front-runner.

The lesson here is that trying to identify the perfect nominee far in advance is a fool’s game. At the start of a presidential campaign, it’s hard to know who will shine and who will struggle. It is also hard to know what the national mood will be the following year — election year.”

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Opinion | Trump the Vulnerable – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist, Jan. 6, 2019, 211
Image
President Trump walking to speak to reporters as he returned to the White House from Camp David on Sunday.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Time

“Now that a new Congress has taken office, the vote count from the 2018 midterms is all but final. It shows that Democrats won the national popular vote in the House races by almost nine percentage points. That margin is smashing — larger, by comparison, than in any presidential race since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election landslide.

The size of the victory has gone somewhat overlooked, because election-night story lines still have an outsize influence on people’s perceptions. On election night, more than a dozen House races were still uncertain, and Democrats were suffering disappointing losses in several (mostly red-state) Senate and governor races.

But the final story of the 2018 midterms should be clear: They were a giant warning sign to the Republican Party, also known as the Party of Trump.

Without a significant improvement in Trump’s standing, he would be a big underdog in 2020. Remember, presidential elections have higher turnout than midterms, and the larger electorate helps Democrats. At least 10 million more people — and maybe many more — are likely to vote in the next presidential election than voted in the 2018 midterms. Those extra votes, many from younger or nonwhite Americans, would make Trump’s re-election all the more difficult.”

Opinion | The People vs. Donald J. Trump – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist, Jan. 5, 2019, 2433 comments
Credit
Mike McQuade, photograph by Damon Winter/The New York Times

“The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it.

He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves.

To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary.

The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?”

“, , , , ,Consider the following descriptions of Trump: “terribly unfit;” “erratic;” “reckless;” “impetuous;” “unstable;” “a pathological liar;” “dangerous to a democracy;” a concern to “anyone who cares about our nation.” Every one of these descriptions comes from a Republican member of Congress or of Trump’s own administration.

They know. They know he is unfit for office. They do not need to be persuaded of the truth. They need to be persuaded to act on it.

Democrats won’t persuade them by impeaching Trump. Doing so would probably rally the president’s supporters. It would shift the focus from Trump’s behavior toward a group of Democratic leaders whom Republicans are never going to like. A smarter approach is a series of sober-minded hearings to highlight Trump’s misconduct. Democrats should focus on easily understandable issues most likely to bother Trump’s supporters, like corruption.

If this approach works at all — or if Mueller’s findings shift opinion, or if a separate problem arises, like the economy — Trump’s Republican allies will find themselves in a very difficult spot. At his current approval rating of about 40 percent, Republicans were thumped in the midterms. Were his rating to fall further, a significant number of congressional Republicans would be facing long re-election odds in 2020.”

Opinion | American Capitalism Isn’t Working. – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“The October 1944 edition of Fortune magazine carried an article by a corporate executive that makes for amazing reading today. It was written by William B. Benton — a co-founder of the Benton & Bowles ad agency — and an editor’s note explained that Benton was speaking not just for himself but on behalf of a major corporate lobbying group. The article then laid out a vision for American prosperity after World War II.

At the time, almost nobody took postwar prosperity for granted. The world had just endured 15 years of depression and war. Many Americans were worried that the end of wartime production, combined with the return of job-seeking soldiers, would plunge the economy into a new slump.

“Today victory is our purpose,” Benton wrote. “Tomorrow our goal will be jobs, peacetime production, high living standards and opportunity.” That goal, he wrote, depended on American businesses accepting “necessary and appropriate government regulation,” as well as labor unions. It depended on companies not earning their profits “at the expense of the welfare of the community.” It depended on rising wages.”

. . . . . .

“Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, is now rolling out a platform for her almost-certain presidential campaign, and it includes an answer to this question. It is a fascinating one, because it differs from the usual Democratic agenda of progressive taxes and bigger social programs (which Warren also supports). Her idea is the most intriguing policy idea to come out of the early 2020 campaign.

Warren wants an economy in which companies again invest in their workers and communities. Yet she doesn’t believe it can happen organically, as it did in the 1940s, because financial markets will punish well-meaning executives who stop trying to maximize short-term profits. “They can’t go back,” she told me recently. “You have to do it with a rule.”

She has proposed a bill in the Senate — and Ben Ray Luján, a top House Democrat, will soon offer it there — that would require corporate boards to take into account the interests of customers, employees and communities. To make sure that happens, 40 percent of a company’s board seats would be elected by employees. Germany uses a version of this “shared-governance” model, mostly successfully. Even in today’s hypercompetitive economy, German corporations earn nice profits with a philosophy that looks more like William Benton’s than Gordon Gekko’s.”

David Lindsay:  Yes, and  thank you. Here are the top two comments, that I endorse:

Ed M
Michigan

If I had to choose one word to describe what we’ve lost in our decades-old slide into an Ayn Rand fantasy world, it would be “balance.” It seems as if today’s leaders believe that by rewarding the top with unfathomable riches, the rising tide will lift all boats. Sadly, what we see is an increasing share of the population drowning. The ruling class has unilaterally broken the social contract that served us so well and replaced it with a system where everything is for profit and everything is for sale – people, morality, the environment – everything. Have we no sense of shame left?

Socrates commented 11 hours ago

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ

From: REWARDING OR HOARDING ? An Examination of Pay Ratios Revealed by Dodd-Frank…by the staff of Representative Keith Ellison Auto-parts maker Aptiv CEO-worker pay ratio: 2,526 to 1 Temp agency Manpower CEO-worker 2,483 to 1 Amusement Park Six Flags CEO-worker 1,920 to 1 Del Monte Produce CEO-worker 1,465 to 1 Apparel maker VF CEO-worker 1,353 to 1 Marathon Petroleum CEO-worker 935 to 1 The industry with the highest average ratio CEO to worker pay is the consumer discretionary industry with a ratio of 977 to 1 – this category includes companies that sell clothing and food such as McDonalds, Gap, and Kohl’s. The company with the smallest ratio in the database is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with a ratio of 2:1. The company with the largest ratio is Mattel Toys, with a ratio of 4,987:1 Also, some companies exclude third-party contractors, which suggests that the true level of inequality between CEO pay and median worker pay is even higher. https://ellison.house.gov/sites/ellison.house.gov/files/Rewarding%20Or%20Hoarding%20Full%20Report.pdf In the 1970s, the top 1% of families earned less than 10% of the total national income earned by all workers Today, the top 1% share is greater than 20%. Despite increases in worker productivity over the course of the last four decades, the top 1% have taken whatever they could get away with, which was the destruction of the working class and the middle class. Vulture capitalism is turning America into a feudal society.

Opinion | The Democrats and the Caravan – by David Leonhardt – NYT

By David Leonhardt,  Opinion Columnist,  Oct. 23, 2018

“When white working-class voters focus on the white part of their identity, the Republican Party benefits. When they focus on the working-class part, the Democratic Party benefits.That’s a simple rule of thumb that explains much of contemporary American politics — including Republicans’ new focus on the caravan of Central American migrants moving north through Mexico. President Trump and other top Republicans cynically understand that they are helped by images showing large groups of immigrants hoping to enter the United States without documentation.How should the Democrats respond? I think they’re doing it wrong so far.”

David Lindsay:

Thank you David Leonhardt. I was about to write something in line with your thinking. I said Sunday night in effect, I have a horrible feeling the Caravan is a blessing from heaven for the Republicans and Trump. He is harvestsing it for optimum bounce, while the Democrats silence is going to cripple them with far more people than just Trump’s base which will be galvanized.
Image: A caravan of migrants traveled through Guatemala en route to the United States on Wednesday.CreditCreditOrlando Estrada/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

NYTIMES.COM
The party is trying to ignore the caravan of migrants. That’s a naïve mistake.

Opinion | What if the Republicans Win Everything Again? – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“The end of Robert Mueller’s investigation. The loss of health insurance for several million people. New laws that make it harder to vote. More tax cuts for the rich. More damage to the environment. A Republican Party molded even more in the image of President Trump.

These are among the plausible consequences if the Republicans sweep the midterm elections and keep control of both the House and Senate. And don’t fool yourself. That outcome, although not the most likely one, remains possible. The last couple of weeks of polling have shown how it could happen.

Voters who lean Republican — including whites across the South — could set aside their disappointment with Trump and vote for Republican congressional candidates. Voters who lean left — including Latinos and younger adults — could turn out in low numbers, as they usually do in midterm elections. The Republicans’ continuing efforts to suppress turnout could also swing a few close elections. continuing efforts to suppress turnout could also swing a few close elections.”

David Lindsay: Yes. Ouch. Here is a comment I liked.

LT
Chicago
Times Pick

Choosing not to vote is choosing to remain silent politically. And silence is acceptance.

It’s not just acceptance of continued attacks on the safety net in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s not just acceptance of attacks on the rule of law to protect a corrupt politician.

Not voting is choosing to remain silent and accept that an openly racist President will continue to incite hatred and divisiveness and conspire with Republican legislatures and the judges they appointment, to disenfranchise voters who don’t look like them or vote like them, through voter suppression and gerrymandering.

“Voters who lean left — including Latinos and younger adults — could turn out in low numbers”

If so, that choice to remain silent, will be judged harshly.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. ”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Still true almost 60 years later.

Opinion | The Growing Crisis of Democracy – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“First, the United States has never gone through a prolonged period of minority democratic rule — that is, when a minority of enfranchised citizens held power over a majority for years on end. We’re not there yet. But as Klein notes, we have started down that path.

Second, the party now empowered by a minority of voters — the Republicans — is not merely playing by the rules. It is trying to change those rules to maintain power. It is preventing some citizens (usually those with dark skin) from voting, and it is changing campaign-finance laws.
That second point leads directly into a third: The rules governing our country have frequently changed over the last 230 or so years. The number of states has more than tripled. Women, African-Americans and 18-year-olds, among others, have gained the right to vote. In all, the constitution has been amended 27 times.

There is nothing extreme about responding to the Republican Party’s current efforts to restrict democracy with an ambitious effort to revitalize democracy. That effort could include: a federal law protecting voting rights; states laws that go even further to encourage voting; other laws to stop ludicrous gerrymandering; statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.; and much more. And I’d hope that many parts of the agenda would win support from voters of all stripes — Democratic, Republican and independent.

In the past, I’ve argued that the country’s two biggest challenges are climate change and the stagnation of living standards for most people. I now think that democracy protection and revitalization belong on that list.”

Opinion | Amazon’s Surrender Is Inspiring – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“There are two ways to fight the long stagnation in living standards for most Americans. The first is probably the more obvious and the one I spend more time writing about: through government policy.The government can raise the minimum wage. It can increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is effectively a wage subsidy. It can cut taxes on the middle class. It can spend more money on education, child care and health care. All of these are good ideas.But they’re not the only way to lift living standards. For much of the past century, another approach has been even more important: As the economy grew, American companies paid workers their fair share of the growth.”

Opinion | ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ Is a Myth – David Leonhardt – NYT

“Conventional wisdom says that the middle is disappearing from American politics: The Republicans have moved far to the right, the Democrats far to the left, and woe to any moderate voters looking for politicians to represent their views.

Well, the conventional wisdom is wrong. The Democrats have not actually become radical leftists, or anything close to it.You keep hearing this story partly because Republicans have an obvious interest in promoting it and partly because large parts of the news media find it irresistible. It’s a “both side do it” angle that allows us journalists to appear tough, knowing and above the partisan scrum. We love that image. But the facts don’t support the story in this case.”

Opinion | The Urgent Question of Trump and Money Laundering – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“The latest reason to be suspicious is Trump’s attacks on a formerly obscure Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr. Trump has repeatedly criticized Ohr and called for him to be fired. Ohr’s sin is that he appears to have been marginally involved in inquiries into Trump’s Russian links. But Ohr fits a larger pattern. In his highly respected three-decade career in law enforcement, he has specialized in going after Russian organized crime.

It just so happens that most of the once-obscure bureaucrats whom Trump has tried to discredit also are experts in some combination of Russia, organized crime and money laundering.

It’s true of Andrew McCabe (the former deputy F.B.I. director whose firing Trump successfully lobbied for), Andrew Weissmann (the only official working for Robert Mueller whom Trump singles out publicly) and others. They are all Trump bogeymen — and all among “the Kremlin’s biggest adversaries in the U.S. government,” as Natasha Bertrand wrote in The Atlantic. Trump, she explained, seems to be trying to rid the government of experts in Russian organized crime.”