Conor Lamb Wins Pennsylvania House Seat- Giving Democrats a Map for Trump Country – The New York Times

“Conor Lamb, a Democrat and former Marine, scored a razor-thin but extraordinary upset in a special House election in southwestern Pennsylvania after a few thousand absentee ballots cemented a Democratic victory in the heart of President Trump’s Rust Belt base.

The Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, may still contest the outcome. But Mr. Lamb’s 627-vote lead Wednesday afternoon appeared insurmountable, given that the four counties in Pennsylvania’s 18th district have about 500 provisional, military and other absentee ballots left to count, election officials said.

That slim margin — out of almost 230,000 ballots cast in a district that Mr. Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016 — nonetheless upended the political landscape ahead of November’s midterm elections. It also emboldened Democrats to run maverick campaigns even in deep-red areas where Republicans remain bedeviled by Mr. Trump’s unpopularity.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT
I stopped supporting Nancy Pelosi when she recently shut down the government to try and force a DACA deal on the country that it didn’t value as much as other concerns. She showed an out of touchness, that suggests she needs to retire. Please look at the op-ed research by David Leonhardt in the last three months. He points to facts that we ignore at our peril. 69% of the people who vote regularly are white. They don’t mostly put DACA ahead of many other issues. I agree with Leonhardt and others who argue, that the resistance, which is mostly Democrats and Independents, should focus on wooing people who voted for Obama in his last election, but then voted for Trump, and another large group, who voted for Obama, but did not bother to vote in the last election. Pelosi doesn’t get any of this, so Im giving money directly to candidates instead of the the Democratic Party, until better leadership is found.
We also need new laws to force Facebook and Youtube and other social media to prevent fake news from fake people, from domestic or foreign sources. All advertising should be from an identified source.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at and


How to Read Tonight’s Results From Pennsylvania – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Good morning, and welcome to Election Day — at least in one congressional district, in southwestern Pennsylvania, which is holding a special election that feels like a referendum on President Trump.

The 18th district is a mix of coal country and Pittsburgh suburbs, and it leans strongly Republican. Both Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012 won it by almost 20 percentage points. Yet the Democrat nonetheless has a real shot to win.

Why? Trump’s unpopularity is the main reason. But the strength of the Democratic candidate — Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former Marine and prosecutor — also matters. He has run to the political middle on cultural issues (like guns and abortion) and to the left on economic ones (like trade).

I’m not endorsing all of his stances, but I think he has the right approach for a Democrat in Trump country.”

Trump Really Wants His Wingman – by Gail Collins. Lindsay and Schomaker respond.

“Donald Trump may be going to Korea! Also, to Moon Township, Pa.!

While the president’s plan to have direct talks with the North Koreans is fascinating, in a sort of unnerving way, right now we’re going to look at the Moon Township angle. There’s a special House election coming up on Tuesday, and it’s perfectly possible that when it comes to international détente versus the 18th Congressional District, the White House’s real fixation is western Pennsylvania.

The 18th C.D. is at the heart of the white, working-class vote that won Trump the Electoral College. It also has wildly gerrymandered borders aimed at guaranteeing Republican control unless the incumbent does something incredible, like championing anti-abortion legislation after hinting to his mistress that she ought to get an abortion if she’s pregnant.

Whoops. That was Representative Tim Murphy. Gone but not forgotten.

So there’s this special election, which features Democrat Conor Lamb, a handsome young former federal prosecutor, versus Rick Saccone, a Republican state representative who is hanging onto Donald Trump like — um, we will not say Stormy Daniels. That would be totally tacky, and this is a serious political moment. We’ll just say that Saccone says he wants to go to Washington and be the president’s “wingman.”

David Lindsay:
We gave a modest donation to Conor Lamb today—$20. Kathleen Schomaker and I decided to do this after reading about him in the NY Times during the last two weeks, and I probably posted some of those articles to blog 1, Today, Gail Collins’ piece put us over the top. But then I hesitated.
Should we support this insurgency in the rust belt of Pennsylvania? Sun Tsu, in The Art of War, wrote that the best attack is a surprise attack. Should we hold our very limited powder and shot for the November 2018 election, so as not to warn the right wing billionaires that they have to do even more to secure their electoral gains?
I have read in the NYT recently that the Trumpistas are calling all hands to make sure their surrogate wins this special election, since Trump won this district by 20%. They do not want the resistance to see that they can draw blood. However, this is not a military battle in southern China, but a political awakening of the diverse progressive sub-groups in the United States, who don’t regularly bother to go to the polls and vote, and of white working class folk, who are realizing that Trump is an environmental, political and economic disaster for the nation and the world.
While there is a small danger that early progressive victories might invigorate Trump’s billionaire financial supporters, we decided that there is a bigger benefit to drawing blood, and creating some sense that Americans can work together to fight the propaganda and fake news of the Trumpistas and the right-wing oil and gas and media billionaires.

How a Bad Law and a Big Mistake Drove My Mentally Ill Son Away – by Norman Ornstein – NYT

“Ever since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement and other officials have been calling for changes in the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows involuntary commitment for 72 hours of people who are an imminent danger to themselves or others. If the Baker Act had been easier to deploy, they think, Nikolas Cruz, the accused shooter, would have been taken and treated before his horrible act.

However this law may be reformed, it will never be able to get people with serious mental illness the treatment they need.

I know something about the Baker Act. About halfway through my son Matthew’s decade-long struggle with serious mental illness, my wife and I invoked the Baker Act against him.”

Here is the top comment, I recommended:

A Mom

Albany, NY, area 15 hours ago

Dear Prof. Ornstein, I am so sorry for your loss. I am writing this as I sit in the hospital next to the bed of my 25-year-old daughter, who suffers from mental illness. They are kicking her out (sending her home) after an emergency psych evaluation. You are correct the system is broken. In just a few months she will no longer have my health insurance. The job she has doesn’t provide anything like what she needs. And I am terrified for her. You are correct, 90 days isn’t enough time. She’s only had a week of intensive inpatient care. Once. She managed to flit from one provider to another, none of whom has had her long enough to find out who she is let alone what her problems are. None of them ever asked her family about her history. This time it’s just an evaluation and home we go. Take your meds. Make a safety plan. We need comprehensive care, not nickels and dimes. And it sure won’t happen under this administration. Best wishes for your own healing.

The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Two years ago, The Washington Post ran a long piece about West Virginia called, “How the birthplace of the American labor movement just turned on its unions.” It described how, following the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2014, the state passed a so-called right-to-work law prohibiting mandatory union dues. Such laws have badly undermined unions in other states, and for people who care about organized labor, it was a bitter irony to see one enacted in a place once famed for its militant labor movement. The state also repealed a law mandating that workers on public construction projects are paid prevailing industry rates.

Labor in West Virginia seemed beaten down.That’s one reason the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia, which on Monday entered its eighth day, is so thrilling. Strikes by teachers are unlawful in the state, and their unions lack collective bargaining rights. Nevertheless, in a revival of West Virginia’s long-dormant tradition of bold labor activism, teachers and some other school employees in all of the state’s 55 counties are refusing to return to work until lawmakers give them a 5 percent raise, and commit to addressing their rapidly rising health insurance premiums.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

This report flunks, like all the others I’ve heard on this subject. No one will say what the salaries of these teachers are, where they start, where they end. What is the average total package. Facts and numbers matter, and it grieves me that the best this lousy op-ed can do, is cite a massive paper.

In Reply to the top comment, I added:

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Lack of numbers in the piece is very disappointing. Here is what I found. “Teacher Salaries in West Virginia by Education As teachers further their educations and gain experience in the field, they receive pay increases that reflect their dedication and hard work. Salaries vary between school districts, but the following are some examples of the salaries you can expect in West Virginia: Experience Bachelor’s Master’s At 3 years $30,871 $33,399

At 6 years $ 32,670 $35,199

At 9 years $34,226 $36,754

At 12 years $35,783 $38,311 Source: West Virginia Department of Education

DL: It’s too bad this piece didn’t include such numbers. They are lower than expected.

Next important question, what are the median salary levels state-wide for West Virginina. Facts matter.

Corporate America Is Suppressing Wages for Many Workers – By ALAN B. KRUEGER and ERIC POSNER – NYT

“Even after eight years of economic recovery and steady private-sector job growth, wages for most Americans have hardly budged. It is tempting to think that wage stagnation is intractable, a result of long-term trends, like automation and globalization, that government is powerless to do anything about.In fact, a growing body of evidence pins much of the blame on a specific culprit, one for which proven legal weapons already exist.

But they are not being used.The culprit is “monopsony power.” This term is used by economists to refer to the ability of an employer to suppress wages below the efficient or perfectly competitive level of compensation. In the more familiar case of monopoly, a large seller — like a cable company — is able to demand high prices for poor service because consumers have no other choice. It turns out that many corporations possess bargaining power over their workers, not just over their consumers. Their workers accept low wages and substandard working conditions because few alternative job opportunities exist for them or because switching jobs is costly. In other words, in the labor market, effectively a small number of employers are competing for their labor.Monopsony power is frequently created through noncompete clauses and no-poaching agreements and is aimed at the most vulnerable workers.

Employers like Jimmy John’s have discovered that they can control and intimidate workers by putting terms in their contracts that limit their ability to find new jobs even after they leave their old one. Jimmy John’s discontinued this practice in response to public outcry and litigation, but noncompete clauses remain ubiquitous.In a new study for the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, we report survey results in which we find that one in five workers with a high school education or less are subject to a noncompete. A quarter of all workers are covered by a noncompete agreement with their current employer or a past one.”

The Left Is Energized. Now It Needs to Vote. – David Leonhardt – NYT

“The Trump presidency has brought a political awakening for American progressives. It began even before he took office, with the organizing for the Women’s March. Then came the citizen activists who protested at airports and later helped save health insurance for millions of people. Now high school students are trying to transform the gun debate.

In a new article in the journal Democracy, two academic researchers tell the story of the energized progressive movement. The leaders are most often suburban women alarmed by President Trump’s assaults on decency and the rule of law. The movement is more bottom-up than top-down, more face-to-face than virtual, more Middle American than coastal. It does not always identify itself with the Democratic Party, even if it supports almost exclusively Democrats.

The movement is “pervasively pragmatic,” write the researchers, Lara Putnam of the University of Pittsburgh and Theda Skocpol of Harvard. It spans “the broad ideological range from center to left” and (despite media coverage to the contrary, they argue) spends little time on Bernie-versus-Hillary fights. Above all, it is trying to elect progressives, including to oft-ignored local offices — and it’s now focused on the 2018 midterms.

That’s smart. Elections are precisely what progressives should be emphasizing. Protests can have an effect, as happened with Obamacare repeal and is happening on guns. But major progress on almost every issue — climate change, immigration, middle-class living standards and gun deaths — depends on electing people who want to make progress. Trump and the current leaders of Congress plainly do not.

Political movements have two main ways to win elections: persuasion and turnout. On persuasion, I think progressives’ best hope is an economic message that focuses the white working class on the working-class part of its identity, rather than the white part. But today I want to concentrate on turnout, because it has an even greater potential to change American politics.”

Nasty- Brutish and Trump – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.

It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.

Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.No other advanced nation experiences frequent massacres the way we do. Why? Because they impose background checks for prospective gun owners, limit the prevalence of guns in general and ban assault weapons that allow a killer to shoot dozens of people before he (it’s always a he) can be taken down. And yes, these regulations work.”

The Virtue of Radical Honesty – by David Brooks – NYT

“This week I asked a group of students at the University of Chicago a question I’m asking students around the country: Who are your heroes? There’s always a long pause after I ask. But eventually one of the students suggested Steven Pinker. Another chimed in Jonathan Haidt. There was general nodding around the table.

That was interesting. Both men are psychology professors, at Harvard and N.Y.U., who bravely stand against what can be the smothering orthodoxy that inhibits thought on campus, but not from the familiar conservative position.One way Pinker does it is by refusing to be pessimistic. There is a mood across America, but especially on campus, that in order to show how aware of social injustice you are, you have to go around in a perpetual state of indignation, negativity and righteous rage. Pinker refuses to do this. In his new book, “Enlightenment Now,” he argues that this pose is dishonest toward the facts.

For example, we’re all aware of the gloomy statistics around wage stagnation and income inequality, but Pinker contends that we should not be nostalgic for the economy of the 1950s, when jobs were plentiful and unions strong. A third of American children lived in poverty. Sixty percent of seniors had incomes below $1,000 a year. Only half the population had any savings in the bank at all.Between 1979 and 2014, meanwhile, the percentage of poor Americans dropped to 20 percent from 24 percent. The percentage of lower-middle-class Americans dropped to 17 from 24. The percentage of Americans who were upper middle class (earning $100,000 to $350,000) shot upward to 30 percent from 13 percent.”

Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas – by Peg Tyre – Newsweek

“Spend a few minutes on the phone with Danny Frankhuizen and you come away thinking, “What a nice boy.” He’s thoughtful, articulate, bright. He has a good relationship with his mom, goes to church every Sunday, loves the rock band Phish and spends hours each day practicing his guitar. But once he’s inside his large public Salt Lake City high school, everything seems to go wrong. He’s 16, but he can’t stay organized. He finishes his homework and then can’t find it in his backpack. He loses focus in class, and his teachers, with 40 kids to wrangle, aren’t much help. “If I miss a concept, they tell me, ‘Figure it out yourself’,” says Danny. Last year Danny’s grades dropped from B’s to D’s and F’s. The sophomore, who once dreamed of Stanford, is pulling his grades up but worries that “I won’t even get accepted at community college.”

His mother, Susie Malcom, a math teacher who is divorced, says it’s been wrenching to watch Danny stumble. “I tell myself he’s going to make something good out of himself,” she says. “But it’s hard to see doors close and opportunities fall away.”What’s wrong with Danny? By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn’t like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they’re a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, “has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy.” ”

Source: Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas