Opinion | James Comey: Let’s Vote to Uphold Our Nation’s Values – The New York Times

“I’ve been traveling around the United States for six months speaking about ethical leadership. Nearly every place I go, I hear some version of this question: “Are we going to be O.K.?” What the questioner means is, given the current leadership of our country and the ugly undercurrent on which it thrives, is America as we know it going to survive? Yes, is the answer I give, without hesitation. We will recover. How long that takes is up to us, but I am optimistic.

History shows us that America’s progress in fulfilling our aspirations is an upward sloping line. Yes, our present has always fallen short of our values. After all, we were born in original sin — our nation’s founders held inspiring truths to be self-evident while keeping human beings as slaves. But our history is one of continuous progress.

Unfortunately, that line marking our progress is not a solid one. We make progress, then we regress, then we make progress again. The upward jag is always larger than the retreat, which is why the line has a positive slope upward across 242 years. But our line is jagged.

In his new book, “The Soul of America,” the historian Jon Meacham reminds us that the years after the end of World War I were a period of stunning progress for our country. Women got the right to vote. Blacks moved into the growing industrial economy. Catholics and Jews flooded in as immigrants. But that change brought reaction. In the 1920s, the Klan was reborn. Millions of Americans joined the K.K.K., including 16 United States senators, 11 governors and dozens of members of the House of Representatives. Tens of thousands of Klansmen in white robes marched on the National Mall in Washington. Immigration was severely restricted. Then the Klan fever broke in the late 1920s and we resumed our upward progress. That’s the story of America.”

David Lindsay: Good piece. One commenter wrote, Good message, wrong messenger. I would say it differently. I have not forgiven James Comey for screwing Hillary Clinton in the last election. Since ‘m ready to indict him, I am impressed that with such eloquence, he is begging for forgiveness, or at least, a second chance. He writes well, but I remember he drives a crooked nail and put his thumb on the last, very important, election.

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 Opinion | When Trump Voters Go For Democrats – By Timothy P. Carney – NYT

By Timothy P. Carney
Mr. Carney is the author of the forthcoming book “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.”

Nov. 1, 2018

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A sign of optimism at the Racine County Democratic Party offices in Wisconsin.CreditCreditLauren Justice for The New York Times
Even as Republicans grow hopeful about at least keeping the Senate during the midterm elections, one part of America looks sure to be brutal for their party: the Rust Belt. Democrats this November could conquer this region that was central to Donald Trump’s shocking win in 2016. The prospect of another pendulum swing back to blue illuminates what Mr. Trump’s election in 2016 really meant.

Rust Belt voters in the last election and in this one were and are declaring a deep dissatisfaction that persists even in good economic times, because it is grounded in something cultural and deeply local: the collapse of community.

Democrats are polling way ahead in this year’s governor’s races in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and they have very good chances of taking over the governor’s mansions in Ohio and Wisconsin. These, famously, were the four Rust Belt states Mr. Trump swung from Democrat in 2012 to Republican in 2016 and that carried him to the White House.

The picture is similar in Rust Belt Senate races: Democrats will easily win Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and they will probably win Wisconsin.”

Opinion | The Growing Crisis of Democracy – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“First, the United States has never gone through a prolonged period of minority democratic rule — that is, when a minority of enfranchised citizens held power over a majority for years on end. We’re not there yet. But as Klein notes, we have started down that path.

Second, the party now empowered by a minority of voters — the Republicans — is not merely playing by the rules. It is trying to change those rules to maintain power. It is preventing some citizens (usually those with dark skin) from voting, and it is changing campaign-finance laws.
That second point leads directly into a third: The rules governing our country have frequently changed over the last 230 or so years. The number of states has more than tripled. Women, African-Americans and 18-year-olds, among others, have gained the right to vote. In all, the constitution has been amended 27 times.

There is nothing extreme about responding to the Republican Party’s current efforts to restrict democracy with an ambitious effort to revitalize democracy. That effort could include: a federal law protecting voting rights; states laws that go even further to encourage voting; other laws to stop ludicrous gerrymandering; statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.; and much more. And I’d hope that many parts of the agenda would win support from voters of all stripes — Democratic, Republican and independent.

In the past, I’ve argued that the country’s two biggest challenges are climate change and the stagnation of living standards for most people. I now think that democracy protection and revitalization belong on that list.”

Amy McGrath Is Avoiding Attack Ads. Can a Congressional Candidate Win Without Them? – By Michael Tackett – NYT

The race for Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District between the Republican incumbent, Andy Barr, and his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, has featured one of the highest concentration of political ads in the country — almost 7,000 airings — in one of the most fiercely fought races.

But there is a twist. The contest also has one of the most lopsided ratios of negative-to-positive ads, with Mr. Barr and aligned Republican groups spending more than $3 million in the relatively inexpensive Lexington media market in the past six weeks, overwhelmingly on spots attacking Ms. McGrath.

Ms. McGrath, so far, has not run attack ads against Mr. Barr, an approach that makes this contest a laboratory to test the long-held proposition that while voters find negative ads distasteful, candidates use them because they work.”

David Lindsay, NYT comment:  Bravo Michael Tackett. I didn’t feel satisfied at the end of this article, and stared to tear it down in my mind for focusing on a topic, ad strategy, rather than the actual positions of the candidates. Then I reviewed the article in my mind, and had two thoughts. Today, you can get the bullet positions on their websites, so the article would have just been stronger with a hyperlink to each candidate’s website. Second, I was able to see many position obliquely, through the discussion of the ads. I watched the ad on Amy McGrath playing soccer while responding to 6 or 7 vile attacks. I wrote on Facebook: There is a good article in the NYT today about Amy McGrath, running as a Democrat in the Kentucky 6th Congressional distinct. She is turning heads, by refusing to answer her opponents onslaught of negative ads, by making almost all her ads about what she stands for. This ad, is her one attack ad, which one woman is quoted as calling stupid, since soccer has nothing to do with being a congressman. I think it’s a brilliant ad. She deserves support if you can afford it, regardless of what party you belong to.

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 | 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.

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.

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 | Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

LANCASTER, Pa. — Last week I wrote about why political parties across the industrial world are fracturing from the top down. Today I’m writing about the political units that are working. On this Fourth of July, if you want to be an optimist about America, stand on your head. The country looks so much better from the bottom up.

I know — the current cliché is that we’re a country divided by two coasts, two coasts that are supposedly diversifying, pluralizing, modernizing and globalizing, while in flyover America everyone is high on opioids, cheering for President Trump and waiting for 1950 to return. That’s totally wrong.

Our country is actually a checkerboard of cities and communities — some that are forming what I call “complex adaptive coalitions” and are thriving from the bottom up, and others that can’t build such adaptive coalitions and are rapidly deteriorating. You can find both on the coasts and both in the interior — and you can find both in just one little corner of south-central Pennsylvania.

I was invited in April to give a paid book talk here in Lancaster, and I was so blown away by the societal innovation the town’s leaders had employed to rebuild their once-struggling city and county that I decided to return with my reporter’s notebook and interview them.

 

My original host was the Hourglass, a foundation founded by community leaders in Lancaster County in 1997, when the city of Lancaster was a crime-ridden ghost town at night where people were afraid to venture and when the county’s dominant industrial employer, Armstrong World Industries, was withering.

Some of the leading citizens decided that “time was running out” — hence “Hourglass” — and that no cavalry was coming to save them — not from the state’s capital or the nation’s capital. They realized that the only way they could replace Armstrong and re-energize the downtown was not with another dominant company, but by throwing partisan politics out the window and forming a complex adaptive coalition in which business leaders, educators, philanthropists, social innovators and the local government would work together to unleash entrepreneurship and forge whatever compromises were necessary to fix the city.”

David Lindsay Jr:

Bravo Thomas Friedman. DLTB GUD

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

This piece reminds me of how excited I was in Business School at the University of Washington, to hear a Professor Cecil Bell talk about Organizational Development and its tool kit. That is the same subject, or set of tools and practices described in the town of Lancaster.  Bell collaborated on a small text book with Wendell French called Organization Devolopmment, which is the most valuable set of tools I learned of in my MBA program, if you are interested in the renaissance of communities or organizations.

Get the right people together, get them to trust each other enough to brainstorm, sort and prioritize the data, and then the natural proclivity of humans to problem solve will kick in, and miracles can and do happen.

The Meaning of Bannon vs. Trump – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Two quick thoughts on the Steve Bannon-President Trump feud:One, it’s a sign of the apparent seriousness of the Russia investigation for Trump’s family and inner circle. The insults got the attention, but the more significant part of Bannon’s remarks may be the “logical, cold-eyed recognition” that prosecutors are building a powerful case, notes Errol Louis at CNN.

Two, the feud is a reminder that Bannon has failed to accomplish his biggest ambition: Expanding the Republican coalition to include many more middle-class and working-class voters. “Steve Bannon had a chance to be a genuinely significant figure in American politics and he blew it,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote on Twitter.

Democracy. Later this month, an alarmingly titled book, “How Democracies Die,” written by two political scientists, will be published. It is, as the book’s promotional material states, “a bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world — and a road map for rescuing our own.”

That last part seems the most important. I remain optimistic that the Trump presidency will turn out to be a phase rather than a turning point in American history. But it would be foolish to dismiss the threats to our system of government. They’re greater than I ever expected to see.

The Party of Lincoln Is Now the Party of Trump – by Thomas Edsall – NYT

“. . . Theodoridis summed up the conclusions he and his colleagues reached in a blog post in Scientific American in November 2016: Partisanship for many Americans today takes the form of a visceral, even subconscious, attachment to a party group. Our party becomes a part of our self-concept in deep and meaningful ways.In other words, the assumption that many Republican voters would be repelled by Donald Trump turned out to be wrong; instead party loyalty — “a visceral, even subconscious, attachment” — takes precedence.

In fact, as the political scientists Leonie Huddy, Lilliana Mason and Lene Aarøe argue in an article in American Political Science Review, the most powerful form of partisanship is not principled, ideological commitment to conservative or liberal policies, but “expressive partisanship,” which is more of a gut commitment: A subjective sense of belonging to a group that is internalized to varying degrees, resulting in individual differences in identity strength, a desire to positively distinguish the group from others, and the development of ingroup bias. Moreover, once identified with a group or, in this instance, a political party, members are motivated to protect and advance the party’s status and electoral dominance as a way to maintain their party’s positive distinctiveness.”

DL: In short, beating the Republicans in the elections will be harder than many people think. Until there is a financial crisis.

Here is a comment I liked:
ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 7 hours ago

“Not only are Republicans willing to support Trump, but both Democrats and Republicans are inclined to demonize the leadership of the opposing party.”

Based on this assessment, it’s not a great time to be alive in America unless you’re a Republican. Naturally, GOP Congress people who throw their lot in with Trump will share in his victories or defeats.

Up to now, his only victory has been grabbing and consolidating power. He has yet to achieve some notable legislative achievement, which is why tax reform becomes so damned important.

But I hope these legislators remember one important thing: If and when tax reform brings the country to its economic knees (No exaggeration, read some economic history), Trump will manage to throw all of Congress under the bus.

One would expect the public’s backlash to potential tax reform (when people see who’s paying for the wealthy to get most of the spoils) to be reflected at at the polls, which is why I find article is so sobering.

The data backing up the extent of today’s tribalism and resentment has upended the traditional prototype of voters “who vote with their pocketbooks.”

Worst of all, voters increasingly are not punishing the officials responsible for bad tax and wage policies. It’s really pretty astounding that so many are willing to be lead off s a looming fiscal cliff.

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