Opinion | Forget Excuses. What Counts Is Winning Elections. – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“In the end it was only a blue ripple, and that should prompt soul-searching among Democrats — particularly as everyone looks ahead to 2020.

Don’t listen to Democrats who portray these midterms as an important triumph. In 2016 and again this year, liberals were unrealistic in their expectations and listened too much to one another and not enough to the country as a whole; if that happens again in the run-up to 2020, heaven help us all.

The reality is that this was nothing like the 2006 midterm defeat for President George W. Bush or the 2010 repudiation of President Barack Obama. Trump was wildly exaggerating when he tweeted Wednesday morning that the election was a “Big Win” for him, but he did O.K. by historical standards. Democrats won the House but lost seats in the Senate; in the 39 midterm elections since 1862, the president’s party had lost Senate seats 24 times and House seats 35 times.

It’s great that for the first time, more than 100 women are expected to serve in the House. But of the three highest-profile Democratic candidates who were repositories of the party’s hopes — Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum — not a single one won. Yes, the margins were narrow. But while it’s fine to make excuses, it’s better to win elections.”

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Opinion | Voters- You’re Being Manipulated – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“. . . . . HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.

These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.

Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.

President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Network, according to CNN.

This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!”

Opinion | It’s Time To Talk About the N.R.A. – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, allegedly by a man with 21 guns registered to his name, was terrifyingly predictable. Every day in America, about 104 people die from guns, while in Japan it takes about a decade for that many to die from gun violence.

Equally predictable was the response. President Trump and members of Congress denounced the violence but show no signs of actually doing anything to stop it: So Americans will continue to die from guns at a rate of one every 15 minutes.

Why do we Americans kill each other, and ourselves, with guns at such rates? One answer as it relates to the Pittsburgh attack is a toxic brew of hate and bigotry, but the ubiquity of guns leverages hatred into murder. And let’s be blunt: One reason for our country’s paralysis on meaningful action on guns is the National Rifle Association. If we want to learn the lessons of this latest rampage, and try to prevent another one, then let’s understand that saving lives is not just about universal background checks and red flag laws, but also about defanging the N.R.A.”

Opinion | Trump’s Ignoring Our Real ‘National Emergies’ – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“It’s not about immigration. It’s about bigotry.

That’s the real story — to the extent there is a story at all — about the caravan of 5,000 impoverished Central Americans rampaging toward the United States border at, er, two miles an hour.

President Trump, ever the champion speller, declares this to be a “National Emergy”! He may call out the Army! He’s talking about sealing the border!

So, here’s some perspective, by my back-of-envelope calculations:

More than 1.4 million foreigners immigrate to the United States each year. If, say, half the caravan reaches the border, and half of those people actually enter the U.S., they would represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of this year’s immigrants.

If the caravan proceeds by foot, during the period of its journey 16,800 Americans will die from drugs.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 690,000 Americans will become homeless, including 267,000 children.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, 8,850 Americans will die from guns, including suicides and murders.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 9,000 Americans will die from lack of health insurance (people die at higher rates when they’re uninsured, although there’s disagreement about how much higher).

Maybe the real “National Emergy” is drugs, homelessness, gun deaths and lack of health insurance?

Opinion | Desperately Seeking Principled Republicans – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Sure, there are still many principled individuals within the party, but as a national institution the Republican Party is hollow. It is no longer about an ideology; it’s about shining President Trump’s shoes. And that is the fundamental issue hanging over the midterm elections.

“The Republican Party must suffer repeated and devastating defeats,” Max Boot, a lifelong Republican until Trump’s election, writes in his new book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right.”

“It must pay a heavy price for its embrace of white nationalism and know-nothingism,” Boot continues. “Only if the G.O.P. as currently constituted is burned to the ground will there be any chance to build a reasonable center-right political party out of the ashes.”

Then there’s Andrew Sullivan, the conservative writer, who dismisses today’s Republican Party as “the party of corruption, propaganda, vote suppression, and barely masked bigotry.” He adds, “I despise it because I am conservative.” “

Opinion | We May Be Able to Get Kevin Cooper Off Death Row – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The horror began with a nighttime home invasion and the stabbings of a white family, and was compounded when sheriff’s deputies arrested and framed a black man for murder.

That’s my view, and now after 35 years the wheels of justice in California may finally be creaking into motion. I last wrote about the case two months ago, and there’s a hopeful development: Gov. Jerry Brown seems to be moving toward allowing advanced DNA testing that may correct a gross injustice abetted by the police, prosecutors, judges, politicians and journalists.”

Opinion | An American 13-Year-Old- Pregnant and Married to Her Rapist – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Dawn Tyree was 11 years old when a family friend began to molest her. A bit more than a year later, she became pregnant from these rapes, and her parents found out what had been going on. But they didn’t go to the police; instead, they found another solution.

“It was decided for me that I would marry him,” Tyree recalled.

So Tyree, then 13, was married to her rapist, then age 32. She became one of the thousands of underage American girls who are married each year, often sacrificing their futures to reduce embarrassment to their parents. Statutory rape is thus sanctioned by the state as marriage, and the abuser ends up not in handcuffs but showered with wedding gifts.

Our State Department protests child marriage in Africa and Asia (worldwide, a girl 14 or younger is married every 11 seconds, according to Save the Children), but every state in America allowed child marriages. That has finally changed. Last month Delaware became the first state to ban all child marriages, without exception.”

Opinion | Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder? – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Soon sheriff’s deputies were swarming all over the Ryen house in affluent, suburban Chino Hills, east of Los Angeles, that day in June 1983. Several signs, including Josh’s personal account, pointed to three white attackers, and blond or brown hairs were found in the victims’ hands, as if torn off in a struggle.

Sheriff’s deputies were also contacted by the woman whose boyfriend was a convicted murderer, recently released from prison, whom she suspected of involvement in the Ryen killings. She not only gave deputies his bloody coveralls but also told them that his hatchet was missing from his tool rack and resembled one of the weapons reportedly used in the attacks.

But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper’s defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs  that were found in the victims’ hands.”

 

David Lindsay:

Thank you Nicholas Kristof. I just sent an email to Governor of CA Jerry Brown, using the link at the end of this hair-raising story.
“Kevin Cooper apparently needs you to authorize advanced DNA testing.
The only reason I can imagine your refusing, is if you are part of the frame up that has been described in the NYT.

“But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper’s defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs that were found in the victims’ hands.

This is the story of a broken justice system. It appears that an innocent man was framed by sheriff’s deputies and is on death row in part because of dishonest cops, sensational media coverage and flawed political leaders — including Democrats like Brown and Kamala Harris, the state attorney general before becoming a U.S. senator, who refused to allow newly available DNA testing for a black man convicted of hacking to death a beautiful white family and young neighbor. This was a failure at every level, and it should prompt reflection not just about one man on death row but also about profound inequities in our entire system of justice.”

Really, is this what you want to be remembered for?
David Lindsay Jr, Hamden CT

Furthermore, Learning that Kamala Harris participated in this lynching is a disappointing surprise.

Opinion | How to Win an Argument About Guns – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Tragically, predictably, infuriatingly, we’re again mourning a shooting — this time at YouTube’s headquarters — even as the drive for gun safety legislation has stalled in Washington. Polls show that nine out of 10 Americans favor basic steps like universal background checks before gun purchases, but the exceptions are the president and a majority in Congress.

Usually pundits toss out their own best arguments while ignoring the other side’s, but today I’m going to try something new and engage directly with the arguments made by gun advocates:You liberals are in a panic over guns, but look at the numbers. Any one gun is less likely to kill a person than any one vehicle. But we’re not traumatized by cars, and we don’t try to ban them.It’s true that any particular car is more likely to be involved in a fatality than any particular gun. But cars are actually a perfect example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. We don’t ban cars, but we do work hard to take a dangerous product and regulate it to limit the damage.

We do that through seatbelts and airbags, through speed limits and highway barriers, through driver’s licenses and insurance requirements, through crackdowns on drunken driving and texting while driving. I once calculated that since 1921, we had reduced the auto fatality rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent.”

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.

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