Opinion | A Better Way to Run Schools – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Twelve years later, Nigel Palmer still remembers the embarrassment of his first days as a fourth grader in Monroe, La. He was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans, living with his family in a La Quinta Inn, 250 miles from home. As soon as the school year began, he could tell that the kids in his new school seemed different from him.

They could divide numbers. He really couldn’t. They knew the 50 states. He didn’t. “I wasn’t up to par,” he quietly told me. It’s a miserable feeling.

Until the storm, Palmer had been attending New Orleans public schools, which were among the country’s worst. The high-school graduation rate was 54 percent, and some students who did graduate had shockingly weak academic skills.”

David Lindsay Jr:
How complicated. David Leonhardt, your piece was exciting, but in the comments, you appear to have run into a buzz saw of questions and doubts. Well Houdini, do you have the data to back up your enthusiasm, and isolated stories? While your at work, please explain why the 37th percentile is better than the 22nd, and why some commenters say your an idiot to think 37th is OK.

David Lindsay Jr. is a huge fan of David Leonhardt. Lindsay is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

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Opinion | More on a Job Guarantee (Wonkish) – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“As I wrote the other day, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may call herself a socialist and represent the left wing of the Democratic party, but her policy ideas are pretty reasonable. In fact, Medicare for All is totally reasonable; any arguments against it are essentially political rather than economic.

A federal jobs guarantee is more problematic, and a number of progressive economists with significant platforms have argued against it: Josh Bivens, Dean Baker, Larry Summers. (Yes, Larry Summers: whatever you think of his role in the Clinton and Obama administrations, he’s a daring, unconventional thinker when not in office, with a strongly progressive lean.) And I myself don’t think it’s the best way to deal with the problem of low pay and inadequate employment; like Bivens and his colleagues at EPI, I’d go for a more targeted set of policies.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
“But I’m fine with candidates like AOC (can we start abbreviating?)” No, no NO! You can call her Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or just Ocasio-Cortez. The public is still learning her name and her record. You are part of the cabal. The NYT is on a secret mission to hide the fact that Ocasio-Cortez is also a hard-line environmentalist, and has called for a Green New Deal for sustainable energy development, soft words for a Marshall Plan of investment for combating climate change through sustainable energy development. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Editorial | America Started Over Once. Can We Do It Again? – The New York Times

“The Reconstruction Amendments — the 13th, 14th and 15th — are rightly considered the nation’s second founding, the beginning of a centuries-long effort to cleanse America of its original sin and to continue the work of perfecting the union. Interpreting the 14th Amendment in light of its history and original meaning — a method the conservative justices swear by in most other cases — should lead the Supreme Court to wield it much more aggressively than it has. But as an increasingly hard-right majority settles in, it’s reasonable to fear that the court will move in the wrong direction for years to come.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
The 14th amend. states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” I agree with the last sentence. We need rights even for illegal immigrants, though we do not have to let them live or work here. When they do work here, there wages should be protected, to prevent their being taken advantage of by unscrupulous Americans. But I agree with Trump, and felt before he said it, that we have to amend the 14th amendment, to remove the instaneous right to citizenship for anyone who is born in this country. This was a fine law to protect slaves after the civil war, but now this sentence is an abomination. It encourages Chinese to fly their pregnant women to Los Angelses, deliver their babies as US citizens, and then fly back to China. It allows illegal immigrants to make American citizens by over populating our country with their children, while they evade the laws and live and work illegally in this country. It creates a magnate of great force, and incentivizes illegal immigration. Soon, there will be a 100 M refugees in the world from civil war and climate change.

Opinion | The Cosmic Joke of Donald Trump’s Power – by Frank Bruni – NYT

 

 

“A death in the family. A punch to the gut. The announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement felt to me and many people I know like both of those, but even more so like something else: a sick cosmic joke.

How much power will a president with such tenuous claim to it get to wield? How profound and durable an impact will such a shallow and fickle person make?

Donald Trump barely won the White House, under circumstances — a tainted opponent, three million fewer votes than she received, James Comey’s moral vanity and Russia’s amoral exertions — that raise serious questions about how many Americans yearned to see him there.

But he’s virtually assured of appointing as many judges to the Supreme Court as each of his three predecessors did and could reshape Americans’ lives even more significantly. It’s the craziest dissonance. The cruelest, too..”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT comments.
Hi Frank, This was so depressing, I had to speed read half of it. But I find it also empty. I heard a brilliant comment on NPR this morning, on another depressing discussion of the fall of the supreme court and the expected fall of Roe V Wade. The caller identified herself as about 65, mid western, and Catholic. She said, I don’t think the GOP wants to undo Roe v Wade, because they need it. If they overturn it, tens of thousands of Catholics, including almost all of my relatives, who only vote for the GOP because of this one issue, will no longer have to support them, and will return to the democratic party. In my gut, I suspect that she is right. This echos a right wing journalist from the midwest who wrote about 15 years ago, that Roe V Waded was disaster, because its opponents organized and took over one state house after another. The fall of Roe V Wade will be the best thing for Democrats since the New Deal. The issue will go back to the States, where 50 % of the population are women, and over half of the population supports choice, and other basic civil right, like environmental protection. It would be a sad day, but it is also the day after Alexandra Ocassio-Cortez took a primary in NYC. According to the Huffington Post, Ecowatch, and In These Times, she is a hard-liner on fighting to mitigate climate change, and wants a Green New Deal, that does for sustainable energy, what the Marshall Plan did for Europe after WW II. DL bogs at InconvenientNews.Wordpress.com

No Relief in Sight for Parents of Thousands of Migrant Children Still in Custody – By Jack Healy – NYT

By Jack Healy June 21, 2018
“AURORA, Colo. — Micaela Samol Gonzalez, dressed in blue detention scrubs, made her way to the front of a windowless courtroom in Colorado on Thursday and faced the judge. After she gave her name and arranged a future court date for her immigration case, the judge asked whether she had any questions.

She had just one. “My question is regarding my son,” Ms. Gonzalez, whose boy was taken away by immigration authorities shortly after she was accused of crossing the border illegally on a journey from Guatemala, said in Spanish. “I’ve been given a number to contact him but nobody’s replying to me, and I’m wondering if he’s doing well.” ”

David Lindsay:
Reunited these asylum seeking immigrants with their children is easier than you think. Not cheap, but easy.
Any sheep farmer worth his or her wool could tell you its easy to reunite the children with their parents. Sheep farmers do it every spring, when they drive their flock into a close paddock before shearing. The new lambs get separated from the ewes, their mothers, in the excitement of being herded by farmers and dogs from distant fields into a smaller paddock. I witnessed the sorting process at the sheep farm of my cousin-in-law Curtis Read in West Virgina back in the 1980’s. It’s noisy, but the lambs and their mothers find each other and settle down in a cacophony, a symphony of baa-ing.
Just bring all these broken up families together in one place, and they will sort themselves out 1000 times faster than some frozen in the headlights bureaucracy. The whole group could even replace one of our military bases, because not doing something like this, and taking care of these wounded and vulnerable children, could be creating several thousand future America-hating terrorists.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“Dear Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee and other Trump haters:

I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning. You think you’re raising your fist when you’re really raising a white flag.

You’re right that Donald Trump is a dangerous and deeply offensive man, and that restraining and containing him are urgent business. You’re wrong about how to go about doing that, or at least you’re letting your emotions get the better of you.

When you answer name-calling with name-calling and tantrums with tantrums, you’re not resisting him. You’re mirroring him. You’re not diminishing him. You’re demeaning yourselves. Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din.

You permit them to see you as you see Trump: deranged. Why would they choose a different path if it goes to another ugly destination?”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT Comments.
Thank you Frank Bruni for your excellent analysis. This is so painful for many of us. Reading the comments, I have sympathy for your detractors, then I get to someone who agrees with you, saying we have to act like adults. As David Leonhardt reported, we need to connect with those who voted for Obama, then switched to Trump. His base is not all alt right white supremacist. My friends who voted for Trump are learning that he is not all he claims to be. Defenders of DeNiro miss the point that we should play hard—and smart. Trump is brilliant at manipulating the media to dominate the evening and morning news cycles. In giving away joint military exercises with South Korea, he kept a campaign promise to his base, outwitting his real opponent: the US press and voting public. He is an above average practitioner of the dark and dirty political arts taught by Roy Cohn. This is a year where the next election might determine the survival of our democracy as we have known it. “F Trump” might make the speaker and audience feel good, but when played over the airwaves, it strengthens him. Better to yell, He cut taxes for the rich, so the rest of us can pay for this great country on our own, This administration is taking away health care from Americans and damaging the environment. Vote these bullies out of office.. As Bruni reminds us, focus your anger on the issues that hurt the voters in the November Election. Attacking the speaker, is less effective than attacking his ideas.

David Lindsay, the original response before condensing to under 1500 characters.

Thank you Frank Bruni for an excellent piece of analysis. This is so painful for many of us. As I read through the comments, I have sympathy for all your detractors, until I get down to someone who agrees with you, and says simply, we have to act like adults, because we are going after voters who want to hear that we hear them. As David Leonhardt reported, we need to focus on voters who voted for Obama, and then switched to Trump. His base is not all alt right white supremacist. Many of my friends and associates voted for Trump, and they are not incapable of learning that he is not everything he says he is. I found the youtube of Robert DeNiro’s Fuck Trump remark, and that was it. Is that all he said, or did youtube not report on more articulate remarks which should have followed?

What the commenters defending DeNiro miss, in my humble opinion, is not that we shouldn’t play hard, or even a little dirty, but what Trump does well, even brilliantly, is manipulate the press so that he dominates the evening and morning news cycles. For example, one of my heros, Nicholas Kristof, wrote that Kim Jong-un out negotiated Trump. I commented after that piece, Trump gave away joint military exercises with South Korea, that was one of his campaign promises to his base, and he totally dominated US news for over a week. From his perspective, he outwitted his real opponent, an intelligent and educated US press and voting public. He is an above average practitioner of the dark and dirty political arts taught by the likes of Roy Cohn.

Although my heart goes out to the frustrated detractors of Frank Bruni’s wise truths, and I often feel the same way, this is a year where the next election might determine the survival of our democracy and as we have known it.Fuck Trump might make the speaker and audience feel good, but when played over the airwaves, it strengthens him.  Better to yell, He cut taxes for the rich, so the rest of us can pay for this great country on our own, This administration is taking away health care and damaging the environment. Vote these bullies out of office.. As Bruni reminds us, focus your anger on the November Election.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

AT&T-Time Warner Ruling Shows a Need to Reboot Antitrust Laws – by James B Stewart – NYT

“The last time there was an antitrust ruling as important as the one handed down Tuesday by Judge Richard J. Leon, cellphones didn’t exist. There was no such thing as the internet. Personal computers were years away from mass adoption.

There had not been a federal court ruling on a vertical merger — a combination of a buyer and a supplier — since 1979. As a result, Judge Leon’s opinion, which cleared the way for the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, “will be enormously significant,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, an influential antitrust professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “To a significant extent, this court was writing on a clean slate.”

Judge Leon himself cited a “dearth” of modern judicial precedent.

For many antitrust experts, it was high time — no matter the outcome.

When it comes to vertical mergers like AT&T and Time Warner, “antitrust law is stuck in the 1980s,” said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who has called for more vigorous antitrust enforcement against vertical mergers.”

David Lindsay Jr.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT comments
“. . . If AT&T wants to withhold “must have” programming from a rival telecom company, or charge more for it, that company cannot readily replace it. That was the crux of the government’s case — that vertical mergers, at least in this context, can reduce competition and harm consumers. “The big question was whether Judge Leon would accept where academics and economists have gone with this, or whether he’d stick with the old approach,” said Mr. Wu, the Columbia law professor, who is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.”
I side with Tim Wu, and economists looking at the danger of price gauging. Common sense to me suggests that fewer and fewer mega corporations will reduce the power of consumers against monopoly and monopsony, single seller and single buyer. Since Amazon and Facebook, for example, buy any company that rises to challenge them, they both should be broken up, starting with, a cutting off of most of their acquisitions.
Amazon’s cutthroat hostile take over of Diapers.com is proof that our anti-trust laws need to be modernized and strengthened, or at least, more rigorously enforced.
David Lindsay Jr.’s father worked in the anti-trust division of the US Treasury in the Eisenhower administration.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | Actually- National Democrats Should Interfere in Primaries – by Elaine Kamarck – NYT

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has come under fire for interfering in a handful of Democratic primary races around the country. In trying to clear the primary field for the more moderate Democrat candidate they think will be the strongest in the general election, party leaders have drawn the anger of some in the party who think that the mere attempt to do so is corrupt and undemocratic.

I beg to differ.No other political party in democracies in the world has abdicated its leadership role as much as America’s political parties have, weakening themselves and their ability to govern in the process. Partisan leaders have essentially given away the most important power political parties have — to determine who can run and win under the party’s banner. This power now rests exclusively with those who vote in the primaries.

This is not to say that there is no role for primaries. But the pendulum between the party’s leaders choosing its candidates and primary voters choosing its candidates has swung so far in the direction of the primary voters that even the smallest, most modest efforts to intervene in nomination races are deemed illegitimate.

The D.C.C.C. controversy erupted this week when the House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, was secretly taped by Levi Tillemann, a candidate in Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District primary. Asked by Mr. Tillemann if Mr. Hoyer would like him to clear the way for Jason Crow, an Army veteran who many people think is the stronger candidate, Mr. Hoyer agreed.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at NYT Comments.
Very interesting and complicated. Elaine Kamarck makes some excellent points, but so do her critics in the Comments. Yes, the party leaders should provide adult, professional counsel and muscle, when a small group of voters want to push a candidate into the race, even when polls and demographics suggest that such a candidate will not be able to win the general election in that voting district. Where she runs out of space or ideas, is in defending the Democratic leadership, when they have done so badly against Donald Trump, the Tea Party and all the fake news, and Russian meddling. Nancy Pelossi is crazy to put DACA reform ahead of jobs and infrastructure and the environment, when polls, according to David Leonhardt of the NYT, show that the white voters, who make up 69% of the people who vote regularly, don’t care about DACA as much as these other issues. So the Democratic leadership has to practice mindfulness, and work with a deft and sometimes a light hand. Except, when they are sure the numbers are wrong, and they have to be tough as nails. None of us has an easy job, but we have a country and world to save from fascism and environmental degradation. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Opioid That Made a Fortune for Its Maker — and for Its Prescribers – BY EVAN HUGHES – NYT

“Selling drugs is a relationship business. It’s best to do it in person. That is why, on a summer evening in 2012, Alec Burlakoff was out for dinner with Steven Chun, the owner of Sarasota Pain Associates. Burlakoff was a sales manager for Insys Therapeutics, an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company with only one branded product, a new and highly potent opioid painkiller called Subsys. Chun was a doctor who prescribed a lot of opioids.

The location was a moderately expensive seafood restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., with linen tablecloths and large windows overlooking the bay. The sun was still high in the sky. Gleaming powerboats lined the docks outside, and a warm breeze rippled the water. On one side of the table were Burlakoff and Tracy Krane, an Insys sales representative. Krane was a newcomer to the industry, tall with dark brown hair in a bob. Burlakoff, then 38, with a slight frame and a boyish restlessness, was her new boss. He had years of experience in the opioid market. Colleagues marveled over his shameless push to make the sale, but he had a charisma that was hard to resist. Even people who didn’t trust him couldn’t help liking him.”  . . .

“As a result of Insys’s approach to targeting doctors, its potent opioid was prescribed to patients it was never approved to treat — not occasionally, but tens of thousands of times. It is impossible to determine how many Subsys patients, under Kapoor, actually suffered from breakthrough cancer pain, but most estimates in court filings have put the number at roughly 20 percent. According to Iqvia data through September 2016, only 4 percent of all Subsys prescriptions were written by oncologists.

Jeff Buchalter, 34, a decorated Iraq war veteran, was one off-label Subsys patient. His doctor, William Tham, a paid Insys speaker, prescribed the drug to treat pain stemming from Buchalter’s wartime injuries, eventually raising the dose well beyond the maximum amount indicated by the F.D.A. Buchalter was taking it 12 times a day, not four to six, and alternating between the two highest doses, a medical chart from Tham’s clinic shows. Eventually, he had to be put under sedation in intensive care at Fort Belvoir, Va., while he went through withdrawal from Subsys and other prescription drugs. “I am frankly astonished at the amount of opioids the patient has been prescribed,” a hospital specialist noted in his records. Buchalter is suing Insys and Tham. (Tham’s lawyer, Andrew Vernick, told me, “He has done nothing wrong in this case, and he is not involved in any of the allegations that have been raised against Insys throughout the country.”)

Buchalter said Subsys gave him relief from pain, but it changed him into someone he did not recognize. He had always defined himself as a hard worker with integrity. With his eyes darting around the room as he spoke, he told me he became an addict, his day revolving around the next dose: He slept under his desk at the office, where boxes of Subsys filled the drawers, and his house went into foreclosure. Buchalter looked troubled and tired when we met. His hands were visibly dirty. “I’ve been absent from my life for years,” he told me. “What I remember is who I was when my daughter was born, and when I was a soldier.”

“SEVEN FORMER INSYS EXECUTIVES NOT ONLY FACE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION BUT STAND ACCUSED OF RACKETEERING UNDER THE RICO ACT, A LAW MORE COMMONLY INVOKED AGAINST ORGANIZED-CRIME FAMILIES AND DRUG GANGS. THE INDUSTRY WILL BE PAYING ATTENTION.”

DL: The head of Insys John Kapoor, and 6 other execs, are now arrested for bribes and racketeering.
My comment:
David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Great reporting by Evan Hughes, thank you. I pray that many of these criminals see many years in jail, or worse.
My son Austin Lindsay died of an opium overdose in August of 2011. He was brilliant but lazy young scholar, and petty drug dealer. His new love of opiates apparently came about because of his struggles with obesity. A “friend” stole a bottle of 100 opiate based tablets from a pharmacy, and gave them to my son, who found that they created a nausea that cut his appetite. He lost 70 or 100 pounds, and on the outside, he regained normalcy. But, apparently, he had a new craving, that didn’t go away as fast the the pounds that he had lost.
After reading this article, for the first time, it occurred to me to be possible that the pharmacy allowed bottles of opiates to be stolen. I’m probably just a bitter, heart-broken parent, but this story awakens a new set of questions.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com, where his topics include The Drug Wars.

Opinion | Blacks Still Face a Red Line on Housing – The New York Times

“For generations of white American families, homeownership has been a fundamental means of accumulating wealth. Their homes have grown in value over time, providing security in retirement and serving as an asset against which they can borrow for education or other purposes.

But African-Americans were essentially shut out of early federal programs that promoted homeownership and financial well-being — including the all-important New Deal mortgage insurance system that generated the mid-20th-century homeownership boom. This missed opportunity to amass wealth that white Americans took for granted is evident to this day in a yawning black-white wealth gap and in worse health, living conditions and educational opportunities for African-Americans.

The Fair Housing Act, which turned 50 years old last week, ended the most egregious forms of discrimination and brought a modest rise in black homeownership. But those gains — and the hard-won wealth they represented — were wiped out a decade ago in the Great Recession, which reduced the African-American homeownership rate to levels not seen since housing discrimination was legal in the 1960s.”

David Lindsay:
This editorial gets three stars out of three from me. The good news is we are leaving plenty of low hanging fruit for our children and their generation to fix up and improve upon.