Opinion | It’s Time to Break Up Facebook – By Chris Hughes – co-founder of Facebook – The New York Times

By Chris Hughes
Mr. Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is a co-chairman of the Economic Security Project and a senior adviser at the Roosevelt Institute.
May 9, 2019, 14
“The last time I saw Mark Zuckerberg was in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We met at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., office and drove to his house, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. We spent an hour or two together while his toddler daughter cruised around. We talked politics mostly, a little about Facebook, a bit about our families. When the shadows grew long, I had to head out. I hugged his wife, Priscilla, and said goodbye to Mark.

Since then, Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility.

Mark is still the same person I watched hug his parents as they left our dorm’s common room at the beginning of our sophomore year. He is the same person who procrastinated studying for tests, fell in love with his future wife while in line for the bathroom at a party and slept on a mattress on the floor in a small apartment years after he could have afforded much more. In other words, he’s human. But it’s his very humanity that makes his unchecked power so problematic.

Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Bravo Chris Hughes, I feel enlightened. So, Elizabeth Warren knew about this stuff when she called for the breakup of Facebook. After reading this and the top comments, I want to second this idea, and also, insist that we also breakup Amazon. Amazon went around blackmailing companies like Diapers.com. Sell out to us or be destroyed, was the way Amazon treated such new upstarts and success stories in the online market place, and they got away with it.

Some commentators insist we should all quit Facebook, but I don’t agree. I enjoy and use it way to much to share or push ideas, causes, and humor, and to follow (less often) my friends and family.

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

Opinion | Which Way- Pete Buttigieg? – by Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By Ross Douthat
Opinion Columnist

April 27, 2019, 601
Pete Buttigieg spoke to a group of high school students from Massachusetts and New Hampshire this month in Nashua, N.H.
Credit Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

“One of the central problems in Western politics is the impasse between a governing class that lacks legitimacy, and populist alternatives that are poorly led and unready to govern. This impasse reflects a deep trend of the last few decades — the working-out of meritocracy’s iron logic, in which the most talented young people (or at least the most talented résumé-builders) self-segregate in a small group of metropoles while the hinterland declines.

For a clinical rather than impressionistic assessment of this trend, you can turn to the new report from Senator Mike Lee’s Joint Economic Committee, which tracks “brain drain” trends across American states and finds a pattern, both longstanding and accelerating, in which the highly-educated cluster in “dynamic states” and “major metropolitan areas,” leaving less-educated Americans in “rural and post-industrial states” behind. The report describes this “geographic sorting” as one factor behind economic stagnation and social breakdown; it’s also clearly a factor driving the class-based polarization that’s given us Donald Trump, and in European politics the Brexiteers and gilets jaunes and more.

This background is part of what makes Pete Buttigieg, the bright young man of the Democratic field, such an interesting figure. In many ways Buttigieg is a kind of uber-meritocrat, a child of academic parents who made a swift climb up the meritocracy’s cursus honorum: a Harvard degree and then a Rhodes scholarship, a brief stint in D.C. followed by three years at McKinsey. And beyond the résumé, an obvious part of his appeal depends on his performative intelligence, his college-interview style of “humble” showing off.”

David Lindsay: Ross Douthat, there you go again. I had a busy weekend, and didn’t get to the Sunday NYT till Sunday night after dinner at 9 pm. By 10 pm, I was struggling to stay awake as I practiced my intellectual “flossing” by trying to follow the gymnastics of right wing, ultra religious conservative Catholic, Ross Douthat, as he cut up Pete Buttigieg, and accused him of going back to South Bend Indiana after a spectacular early career, because he was plotting for the presidency. Reading Douthat, I kept closing my eyes to sleep, and this morning, I drank in the most recommended Times comments, 2 or 3 dozen, which shredded Douthat for the narrow, intolerant, fascistic but brilliant Catholic that he is. These comments were so much more focused and clear headed than I was capable of last night. If you want a clear delineation of what is evil in conservative right wing evangelical or Catholic meddling in politics, I recommend these comments. They also are a powerful recognition, that in Pete Buttigieg, people hear the intelligence and calming clear voice of another Lincoln, FDR or Obama.
About my fabulous, bitter-sweet weekend. Kathleen was busy all day Saturday at the Hamden Earth Day Fair at the Hamden Middle School, where she was manning the table for her Sustainable CT initiative, where she is working relentlessly to get Hamden certified by the Sustainable CT organization, a massive two year effort. In the morning, I was reading in the Times that Obama loved having Biden as his running mate, twice, because Biden could speak and win over white working class males from the rust belt. I reworked the old song, “I’m Ready When You Call me Lord, But Give me Just a little More Time.” When I got to the Earth Day Fair, I found Kathleen in front of her table, free style dancing to rock and roll with a 10 year old boy and his mother, because, “the young man really wanted to dance, but was too shy to do it by himself.” I found many vendors who could guide me in making my house and life more sustainable.
On Sunday, one of my music partners Gail Pells came over and we three rehearsed our three songs, before singing with many others at the Memorial Service of my long-time friend and former singing partner David Green of Branford, at the Evergreen Woods Life Care Community. It was great to see his widow, my friend Ginny Shaw, and hear her articulate, teary-eyed daughters and family. Kathleen and I went in the afternoon to Bill and Gina Dunlap’s house Concert to hear Hughie Jones of England and the two Bobs of Staten Island, Bob Conroy and Bob ? in concert that was extended by songs led by some of CT’s finest traditional singers, who were in the audience. In the kitchen pub sing after the concert, Kathleen and I performed, the half traditional, half David Green version of “I’m Ready When You Call Me Lord, But Give me just a little more Time,” for the second time in the same day.
And now, here is Ross Douthat, see if you can see any faults in his crafty, articulate logic.

Opinion | There’s a Bigger Prize Than Impeachment – By Joe Lockhart – The New York Times

By Joe Lockhart
Mr. Lockhart served as White House press secretary from 1998 to 2000 for President Bill Clinton.
“I fully understand the historical imperative of holding the president accountable for his behavior. I also share the sentiment of so many Americans who want to punish him for what he’s done to the country. But I believe there is something bigger at stake.

Allowing Mr. Trump to lead the Republican Party, filled with sycophants and weak-willed leaders, into the next election is the greater prize. Democrats have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realign American politics along progressive lines, very much like Ronald Reagan did for Republicans in the 1980s.”

DL: In other words, the Blue Wave implementing the Green New Deal, will be a much bigger success after the election of 2020, if we let the damaged GOP dangle under the leadership of the pathetic con-artist at their head.

2020 Democrats Seek Voters in an Unusual Spot: Fox News – By Michael M. Grynbaum and Sydney Ember – The New York Times

By Michael M. Grynbaum and Sydney Ember
April 17, 2019, 29

“There is an unlikely new hot spot for Democratic candidates: Fox News.

President Trump’s favorite network is increasingly playing host to hopefuls from the Democratic presidential field, eager for exposure to the vast Fox News audience — even as they risk a backlash from others in the party who view the network as an ideological menace.

The expedition into what many liberals consider enemy territory picked up this week after Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont appeared at a town hall on the network, drawing the biggest television audience of any 2020 Democratic candidate so far — more than 2.5 million people — while pitching himself to Trump-leaning viewers who may be willing to cross party lines next year.

On Wednesday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said she had agreed to a Fox News town hall-style event next month. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., is in advanced talks with the network. Julián Castro, the former housing secretary, is close to signing on, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey say they are open to the idea.

The debate over whether to appear on Fox News reflects in some ways a larger divide in the party as it ponders how to retake the White House: Should Democrats focus on expanding and mobilizing the various coalitions that make up their base, or seek inroads with the millions of Americans who supported Mr. Trump in 2016?” ”

David Lindsay:

Fascinating article,  thank you Michael M. Grynbaum and Sydney Ember.

I feel a very negative reaction to any Democratic candidate for President who doesn’t have the chops to meet Fox News and speak to their viewers. These viewers are Americans, and Democrats are crazy to ignore them or write them off. I’m disappointed that Elizabeth Warren, who is supposed to be so smart, can’t figure this out. To not accept a chance to speak to these people about climate change, environmental degradation,  income inequality, health care and the effect a green new deal can have on job creation, is beyond cautious, it’s dumb. I get that Fox News opinion mongers are tilted towards white supremacy, male chauvinism and  a fascist’s carelessness with the truth and science, but to not speak to these people and their audience won’t convince any of them of the integrity of our ideas or policy positions.

Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon and Facebook – The New York Times

By Astead W. Herndon
March 8, 2019, 337 c

“Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is bidding to be the policy pacesetter in the Democratic presidential primary, announced another expansive idea on Friday: a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook.

The proposal — which comes on the same day Ms. Warren will hold a rally in Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood that was to be home to a major new Amazon campus — calls for the appointment of regulators who would “unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition,” as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

Ms. Warren’s plan would also force the rollback of some acquisitions by technological giants, the campaign said, including Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s addition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze. Companies would be barred from transferring or sharing users’ data with third parties. Dual entities, such as Amazon Marketplace and AmazonBasics, would be split apart.

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“I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules,” Ms. Warren said in a statement. “To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.” “

Felicity Jones is shy but relentless as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’ | Mick LaSalle – Datebook – San Francisco Chronicle

David Lindsay: I have good news about the State of Our Union. Kathleen and I today celebrate our 5th year anniversary of relationship.
Also, we decided to skip Trump’s state of his union speech last night, and instead we went to see “On the Basis of Sex,” the fabulous and inspiring docudrama of how the Ginsbergs stole Christmas from the reactionary, keep the women in their place crowd, back in 1972, represented in the film by Sam Waterson. Furthermore, if you are near New Haven CT, the film will be at the Criterion New Haven for another week. Metacritic.com gave this film an aggregate 60, which was a crime. But their numbers are always suspect, since they are not generated by the critic, but by a reader at Metacritic. Scott of the NYT gave the film a rave review in my mind, and the reader scored the review as a 60! What is wrong with Metacritic.
There was a good piece in the NYT today about Trump’s lies last night, which I decided not to post. You don’t need to read it, but for reference, it is:
State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and Wrong
President Trump appeared in front of a joint session of Congress for the annual address. Here is how his remarks stacked up against the facts.
https://www.nytimes.com/…/fact-check-state-of-the-union.htm…

Mick LaSalle 

Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, the movie about her life, “On the Basis of Sex,” sneaks up slowly, growing steadily in estimation, until a point is reached, not at the end but well into the proceedings, that it’s all downright inspiring. Here’s the story of a woman who not only shaped the journey of women in the second half of the 20th century, but whose life embodied that journey.That life translates well into the movie medium, in that Ginsburg’s story from her days at Harvard Law School through her appointment to the Supreme Court has the built-in narrative structure of a dramatic film. As in a rags-to-riches tale, Ginsburg starts off underestimated. She’s quiet, she’s little, and she’s female, and few will recognize her brilliance. She’s constantly blocked and put down and experiences doubts and disappointment, but she eventually emerges as a figure of fame and permanent importance.“On the Basis of Sex” makes you feel the cost it took to build this life, the years and years of work, in the face of almost monolithic resistance. Interestingly, and this feels intrinsically true, the movie shows that the obstacles Ginsburg faced often came from her closest male allies, who, after all, were steeped in the very same culture as her political foes. Ginsburg was at a disadvantage with these men, not only because she was a woman, but also because she was mild of temperament, not someone who could easily put herself forward. However, she did have the most significant advantage in her favor: She was smarter than everybody else.She had the further benefit of a supportive, understanding husband, whose outgoing personality complemented her watchful reserve. The old line that behind every great man is a great woman sometimes goes the other way, and so “On the Basis of Sex” is also the saga of an exceptional marital partnership.

Source: Felicity Jones is shy but relentless as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’ | Datebook

Opinion | The Empty Quarters of U.S. Politics – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist

Feb. 4, 2019, 606
Howard Schultz, the coffee billionaire, who imagined that he could attract broad support as a “centrist,” turns out to have an approval rating of 4 percent, versus 40 percent disapproval.

Ralph Northam, a Democrat who won the governorship of Virginia in a landslide, is facing a firestorm of denunciation from his own party over racist images on his medical school yearbook page.

Donald Trump, who ran on promises to expand health care and raise taxes on the rich, began betraying his working-class supporters the moment he took office, pushing through big tax cuts for the rich while trying to take health coverage away from millions.

These are, it turns out, related stories, all of them tied to the two great absences in American political life.

One is the absence of socially liberal, economically conservative voters. These were the people Schultz thought he could appeal to; but basically they don’t exist, accounting for only around, yes, 4 percent of the electorate.

The other is the absence of economically liberal, socially conservative politicians — let’s be blunt and just say “racist populists.” There are plenty of voters who would like that mix, and Trump pretended to be their man; but he wasn’t, and neither is anyone else.

Understanding these empty quarters is, I’d argue, the key to understanding U.S. politics.”

David Lindsay on Facebook: I’ve just posted some excellent articles about the enviromnent to blogs 1 & 2, which are now set up to repost at my Facebook pages for those same blogs, listed under pages I manage. Here is a Paul Krugman piece I enjoyed immensely, though commenters are tearing it apart by disecting its small imperfections, rather than appreciating his deeper truths. What I liked most, was a comment to Krugman’s swashbuckling analysis that expressed my deep concern that the Democrast are destroying themselves, when they decide to hound Governor Northam out of office in Virginia:
Trajan The Real Heartland Times Pick
“Democrats love to eat their own. We have one of the most racist presidents to ever hold office in modern times, yet some Democrats are going after Northam over some dumb stunt that happened decades ago. Is he a good leader NOW? Does he support good policies NOW? Is Northam’s behavior really any worse (blackface versus sexual misconduct) than someone who just got a seat on the Supreme Court? Wow, this is like watching an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Republicans have a strategic advantage because, while Democrats get all twisted up in identity politics, Republican leaders are only tightly focused on serving the rich and powerful at the expense of average Americans. No party disunity there.

Democrats need to start focusing on the basic, kitchen table issues that average Americans care about, like affordable health care, affordable housing and affordable higher education. With that strong streak of self-destruction that runs through Democrats, Nancy Pelosi is needed more than ever in the people’s House where badly needed legislation has to move forward.”

1 Reply 24 Recommended

Opinion | The West at an Impasse – By Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By Ross Douthat, Opinion Columnist

Dec. 19, 2018, 341c

Image
President Emmanuel Macron presides over a country roiled by populist protests.CreditCreditPool photo by Benoit Tessier

“In France, where the extraordinarily unpopular Emmanuel Macron presides over a country roiled by populist protests, a leading politician of Macron’s centrist party was asked in a televised interview what policy mistakes his peers had made: “We were probably too intelligent, too subtle,” he told the interviewer, whose eyebrows danced with disbelief.

Around the same time a Hungarian newspaper ran an interview with Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister of Poland and a member of a centrist party that has been swept aside by the populists who currently rule in Warsaw. Asked to explain the chaotic European situation, he cited a recent Atlantic essay by his wife, the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, which portrayed populism as, in part, a revolt by the resentfully unsuccessful against “meritocracy and competition.” The centrist alternative to populism, he suggested, was embodied by Macron, who won the French presidency on “positive ideas” rather than “what is worst in us.”

“Macron’s poll numbers are breaking negative records,” the interviewer dryly noted.

While I read both of these exchanges, my Kindle was open to “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” written in 1958 by the British civil servant Michael Young. The book coined the term in its title, and Young’s neologism was soon adopted as a compliment, a term of praise for a system of elite formation that relied on SAT tests and resumes and promised rule by the most intelligent rather than the well-bred.”

David Lindsay: Ross, well done. You kept me till the end, when you wrote:
“In theory the impasse can be overcome. That’s what statesmanship is for — to bridge gaps between complacent winners and angry losers, to weld populism’s motley grievances into a new agenda suited for the times, to manifest an elitism that is magnanimous instead of arrogant.

But can the system we have really produce such a statesman? The next one we find will be the first.”
What a silly way to end. Think Barak Obama, John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt. And that doesn’t include the great Europeans such as Winston Churchill.
You write brilliantly. Perhaps you should consider controlling your right wing, Catholic litmus tests.
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

There are some excellent comments, such as:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts
Times Pick

What bothers me about Ross’s thesis is his insouciance about the limits of populists. He seems to view them as grievance-driven but rudderless, impotent, and unlikely to gain real power. What he leaves out, however, is the natural extension of populism into fascism, as in 1930s Europe. And when he refers to Polish politics as centrists taken over by populists, I cringe because reports show alarming trends towards authoritarianism per th e crackdowns by former Prime Minister Kaczynkiski, mirroring Hungary’s rightward spiral under Orban. Even though Ross seems to feel the US goes through natural cycles of meritocracy and populism, I say it’s dangerous to say those are the only choices. If populists can find a strong and charismatic enough leader to follow, countries can swing authoritarian. We say it can’t happen here, but even though Trump is a corrupt clown who’s given up on serious governing, his Republican party is operating behind the scenes to power grab and subvert democracy. From voter suppression to stripping new Democratic governors of their powers, we see a flouting of US laws, norms, and governing practices. Political polarism (and paralysis) could still morph into “soft” fascism if we aren’t careful.

Opinion | Save Us Al Gore – by Frank Bruni – The New York Times

“Time and Donald Trump do interesting things to a man.

They make Al Gore glitter.

It’s almost impossible not to be thinking of Gore this week, with the words “Florida” and “recount” so prominent in the news, and it’s hard not to credit him with virtues absent in Trump and increasingly rare in politics these days.

Grace in defeat, for one. For another: a commitment to democracy greater than a concern for self.

Sure, the review of ballots that Gore’s campaign demanded in 2000, as he and George W. Bush waited tensely to see who would get the Sunshine State’s electoral votes and become president, was a rancorous affair lousy with recriminations.

But after the Supreme Court halted it, Gore didn’t reject that ruling as partisan, rant about rigged systems, rail about conspiracies or run around telling Americans that he was their rightful leader, foiled by dark forces. He felt that the stability of the country hinged on the calmness of his withdrawal. So he told Americans to move on.

Then he did likewise, a decision that seems positively exotic in retrospect.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Al Gore is an important leader. Frank Bruni, thank you for another sparkling piece of writing. I owe a debt to Al Gore. His movie, of his slide show and interviews of scientists, An Inconvenient Truth, was what woke me up on Climate Change. It cleared out the confusion caused by articles in the right wing business press, about how equally scientists were divided. We now know that that idea was disinformation, inserted into politics by a few scientists on the payroll of the oil, gas and coal industry.
I hope Al Gore runs again for president. I will work hard for him. I worked for Hillary Clinton, but I do not support any woman candidate in this next election. We need beyond anything, to win, to get the country back on track with a host of problems. Climate Change and overpopulation are probably the greatest threats to our democracy and way of life. Al Gore’s big negative, that he is such an ardent environmentalist, has become a plus, now that the predictions of global warming are coming to pass before our very eyes. Al Gore, please run for the presidency again.

Standing ‘Against White Supremacy-’ G.O.P. Campaign Chief Rebukes Steve King – By Catie Edmondson – NYT

David Lindsay:
I supported this young man JD Scholten, Steve King’s opponent in Iowa’s 4th Congressional race, with a whopping $25., way back in September when Elizabeth Warren emailed me personally and asked her friends to help out this young, super environmentalist and ex-minor league baseball player who played professionally in Canada and Iowa for the Sioux City Explorers, and for teams in Belgium, Germany and France. I figured out that the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeee, left JD Scholten off their list of candidates to support, since Steve King was too popular and ensconed, although a super Trumpist, climate change denying, and white supremacist. Don’t take my word, read the article below, which starts:

“WASHINGTON — As Pittsburgh began burying the victims of Saturday’s synagogue massacre, the head of the House Republican campaign arm all but jettisoned Representative Steve King of Iowa from the House Republican Conference, declaring, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms.” 


The impossible to win, written off race is now tied in the polls! I call upon all of my followers and friends, all five of you, to cough up $5 or $25 or $50 for young farmer J D Sholten, who wrote one of the best position pieces on Climate Change and how to use agrigulture as a carbon sink, that I have read on any Democratic candidates’ web site this election cycle, and I have studied a lot of them, because, if truth were told, I am normally reluctant to part with my money. This election is different.

SCHOLTEN4IOWA.COM
J.D. Scholten For Congress –

https://www.scholten4iowa.com/