Opinion | The Party of No Ideas – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Democrats will almost certainly receive more votes than Republicans in the midterm elections. But gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so they would need to win the popular vote by a wide margin to retake the House, and a huge margin to retake the Senate. I don’t know how it will turn out — or what will happen to the perceived legitimacy of the federal government if all three branches are controlled by people the voters rejected. Neither does anyone else.One thing we do know, however, is that Republicans have decisively lost the battle of ideas. All of their major policy moves, on health care, taxes and tariffs, are playing badly with voters.In fact, Republican policies are so unpopular that the party’s candidates are barely trying to sell them. Instead, they’re pretending to stand for things they actually don’t — like protecting health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions — or trying to distract voters with culture war and appeals to white racial identity. The G.O.P. has become the party of no ideas.

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Fighting Climate Change in Steve King Country? by JD Scholten running for Congress in Iowa 4th district

David Lindsay: Elizabeth Warren sent out a request for folks to support this young man running against a Trumpster in the Iowa 4th congressional district. His staff have pointed me to this excellent article of JD Sholten’s on Climate Change.

“Growing up in the 80s, I was taught to dream big. I love it when the U.S. is innovative and a respected leader. That’s why last week during the international climate talks in Bonn, Germany, I was disappointed when the official American delegates were relatively non-existent and non-influential. This is a stark contrast to climate summits when President Obama was in office and exemplifies America’s division on climate talks. Governor Jerry Brown of California commented on the division when he said, “There’s a debate in the United States between the denialists who pooh-pooh any thought about climate change and the catastrophic dangers it portends, and those who agree with the scientific academies of every country in the world that we’re facing an existential threat and we have to do something about it.”

Earlier this month, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report saying:

…humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.

Over the past 115 years global average temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes. The global, long-term warming trend is “unambiguous,” and there is “no convincing alternative explanation” that anything other than humans — the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, the forests we destroy — are to blame.

The time to address this issue is NOW. The time to create policy is NOW. For those who do not believe in climate change, the question of “Why you don’t believe?” is irrelevant. The question now is “What part of climate change don’t you understand?” ”

Source: Fighting Climate Change in Steve King Country?

Opinion | A Smorgasbord Recession? (Wonkish) – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“The 2008 financial crisis is (duh) a decade in the past; employment has been growing steadily since early 2010. Since nothing is forever, and proclamations that the business cycle is over have always ended in embarrassment, lots of people are looking for the sources of the next recession.

The thing is, there’s nothing out there as obvious as the housing bubble of the mid-2000s, or even the tech bubble of the late 1990s. So here’s my thought: maybe the next recession won’t be caused by one big shock but instead by the combined impact of several smaller shocks. There are arguably several mid-sized bubbles out there, from private equity debt to emerging markets. Stocks are priced as if there’s no risk despite omens of trade war, consumer confidence similarly seems to discount dangers. There’s probably other stuff I’m missing.

The point, anyway, is that we might be looking at a smorgasbord recession, one that involves a mix of smallish things rather than a single dominant item. And there’s a model for that kind of recession: the slump of the early 1990s.”

Opinion | Can the People Who Almost Brought Down the News Business Save It? – by Kara Swisher – The New York Times

“. . . Mr. Benioff said he had been looking to extend the active personal investing — sometimes he calls it philanthropy — his family was doing already, in areas like climate change, public schools and health care for children. He said he looked at all the assets, such as Fortune, but was soon attracted to Time’s broader audience and wider circulation, as well as its pedigree of excellence. He claims that it is profitable, too, which was also an attraction.

“Time is a name that was most trusted for a rapidly changing society,” he said, one that still has “the ability to reach readers on a multidimensional level.”

Ticking off stats on the magazine’s readership, video views, event successes and digital impressions, Mr. Benioff sounded like a man on a mission to make us all understand that this brand of the past is surely the brand of the future.

And the jovial billionaire, who was wearing one of his endless supply of Hawaiian shirts, said he would be putting his copious money — $6.6 billion — where his voluble mouth is. He plans to give Time “as much investment as it needs” to succeed.

Mr. Benioff is not, of course, the first tech mogul to buy a diminished media asset recently. He joins a group that includes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post; Laurene Powell Jobs, who has invested in The Atlantic and several other publications; and the biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, who purchased The Los Angeles Times.”

DL: Yes and thank you. Here is a comment I endorsed with enthusiasm.

Robert
Seattle

“Can the People Who Almost Brought Down the News Business Save It?”

Benioff, Google, Facebook, Apple, et al. did not bring down the fact-based news business by themselves. Reagan undid the Fairness Doctrine and initiated the deregulatory train wreck that has never stopped. We have not had so little appropriate regulation since the 1930s. Most of these companies are natural monopolies that should be regulated like the utilities they are. Their unfair market power makes everything go sour, including the fact-based news business. No evidence supports the Trump Republican and libertarian deregulatory tulip mania. Progressives, however, have been far too complacent. They were sucked in by the silly and untrue industry-wide “do no evil” marketing PR, and the new age internet Kool-Aid. The free press was never only a business per se. It has always been a vital public service utility whose presence was explicitly required by the Constitution. Every American who can afford it must subscribe to at least one online or print news source, and must vote for the appropriate regulation of these businesses which are now the most valuable and the most powerful businesses in the world. The Russian Facebook and Google YouTube interference in the last election on behalf of Trump should be the last straw.

The Five Battlefields for Control of the House – The New York Times

“THE SUBURBS. CITIES. SMALL TOWNS. RURAL AMERICA.The November election for Democratic or Republican control of the House of Representatives will come down to roughly 75 seats that are most competitive this fall.You can’t possibly keep track of all those districts and candidates across the country.Consider this your field guide to the fight for the House.We grouped the 75 districts into five main battlefields — not by what part of the country they’re in, but by the social and cultural characteristics they share.In our analysis, we looked at how Democrats and Republicans will try to piece together a House majority from across these voting blocs. Democrats need toTHE SUBURBS. CITIES. SMALL TOWNS. RURAL AMERICA.

The November election for Democratic or Republican control of the House of Representatives will come down to roughly 75 seats that are most competitive this fall.

You can’t possibly keep track of all those districts and candidates across the country.

Consider this your field guide to the fight for the House.

We grouped the 75 districts into five main battlefields — not by what part of the country they’re in, but by the social and cultural characteristics they share.

In our analysis, we looked at how Democrats and Republicans will try to piece together a House majority from across these voting blocs. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take the House from Republicans. pick up 23 seats to take the House from Republicans.”

David Lindsay: I’m disgusted by Donald Trump. Since the GOP will not rein him in, or protect Robert Mueller, we need to tip the Congress to the Democrats: for the environment, decency, a sane foreign policy and the democracy.

Opinion | Money Talks. Will the G.O.P. Listen? – by Bari Weiss – NYT

“Not two years ago, Mr. Klarman, a registered independent, was the biggest donor to the Republican Party in New England. According to The Boston Globe, during the Obama administration, Mr. Klarman gave more than $7 million to the party. If you look at his Federal Election Commission filings for 2016, you will find $100,000 to the Hillary Action Fund, but mostly a long list of donations to names like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and the Republican National Committee.

No longer. Among the many things Donald Trump has upended, one has been Mr. Klarman’s political giving. The denunciation of the president and his party in papers like this one has done nothing to change their behavior. He hopes money will.

The F.E.C. filings that will come out on Sept. 20 will show that Mr. Klarman is now giving almost exclusively Democrats — and donating far more money than he ever has.

Mr. Klarman shared an early copy with me. So far this cycle he’s ponied up $4.9 million. He has given to 150 or so candidates, including Joe Kennedy, Conor Lamb, Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as dozens of lower-profile candidates. Liberal super PACs aimed at helping the Democrats take back the Senate and the House received $1 million and $2 million, respectively. It’s quite a list for someone who says, “I’m not a Democrat.”

For Mr. Klarman, the logic is plain: “We need to turn the House and Senate as a check on Donald Trump and his runaway presidency.” ”

DL: What a breath of fresh air, and a wind of change.

Trump Orders Russia Investigation Documents Be Declassified – The New York Times

“Mr. Trump also told the Justice Department to release without redactions all text messages of four former F.B.I. officials who worked on the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference and whether any Trump associates conspired with it. Those officials included James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe.

A Justice Department spokesman said the F.B.I. and the department were working to comply with Mr. Trump’s order.

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and one of the president’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill, praised Mr. Trump’s decision in a statement and said it came in the face of “unnecessary delays, redactions and refusals.”

“These documents will reveal to the American people some of the systemic corruption and bias that took place at the highest levels of the D.O.J. and F.B.I., including using the tools of our intelligence community for partisan political ends,” Mr. Gaetz said.

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accused the president of abusing his power “to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.” ”

This is terrible news, and I hope someone can stop this attack on the Justice Department.

A San Francisco Tech Mogul Buys Time – a Fabled Slice of New York Media – The New York Times

“Through Salesforce.org, his company’s nonprofit arm, Mr. Benioff has pledged $100 million over a decade to improve educational resources for Bay Area schools. Since 2012, Salesforce.org has provided $27 million to San Francisco public schools and $7.7 million to Oakland public schools.

Among other things, the San Francisco Unified School District has used the money to develop computer science curriculums. It has also hired additional math teachers, reducing the average class size across eighth-grade math to 24 students from 33. Oakland has used the Salesforce funds in part to bolster computer science education.

As a result of his support for a variety of local school projects, Mr. Benioff has largely escaped the withering criticism that other tech billionaires, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have faced for their school initiatives.

“Other billionaires tend to hop around different places, leaving half-completed reforms in their wake,” said Sarah Reckhow, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University who studies philanthropy. “It will be interesting to see if his education investments have more staying power.”

Mr. Benioff is not as dramatic in his display of wealth as Mr. Ellison, who is a collector of costly cars, homes and yachts — and a winner of the America’s Cup sailing race. But the Benioffs have multiple homes in San Francisco and a residential compound on the Big Island of Hawaii, and he has hosted private concerts by his favorite musical artists. Stevie Wonder performed at the couple’s wedding, as well as at a fund-raiser that Mr. Benioff hosted for President Barack Obama.”

There is a change in the weather, and it is for the good of our democracy and environment.

Opinion | What Do We Actually Know About the Economy? (Wonkish) – Paul Krugman – NYT

“So let me talk about three things:

The unsung success of macroeconomics

The excessive prestige of microeconomics

The limits of empiricism, vital though it is

The clean little secret of macroeconomics

There’s a story about quantum physics – not sure where I read it – about the rivalry between the physicists Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman. Schwinger was first to work out how to do quantum electrodynamics, but his methods were incredibly difficult and cumbersome. Feynman hit upon a much simpler approach – his famous diagrams – which turned out to be equivalent, but vastly easier to use.

Schwinger, as I remember the story, was never seen to use a Feynman diagram. But he had a locked room in his house, and the rumor was that that room was where he kept the Feynman diagrams he used in secret.”

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.”