How Big Law and Black Brooklyn Fueled Hakeem Jeffries’s Rise – The New York Times


“The campus at Binghamton University was in uproar. Whispers of outside agitators swirled among the mostly white student body. Security was heightened.

The source of the friction was the planned appearance of a polarizing Black studies professor who had referred to white people as “ice people” and accused “rich Jews” of financing the slave trade. Outraged Jewish students demanded the event be canceled; their Black peers were incensed over the potential censorship.

And wedged hard in the middle was Hakeem Jeffries.

As the political representative for the Black student group that invited the professor to the upstate New York campus, Mr. Jeffries, a 21-year-old college senior with a flattop and a dashiki, had the delicate task of cooling tensions while holding firm on the invitation. There was also another complication: The speaker, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, was his uncle.

The episode, in February 1992, was an early precursor of both the culture-war disputes now flashing across the country and the battles that Mr. Jeffries faces as the new leader of House Democrats. Republicans have begun resurfacing it to try to tie their new foil to his uncle’s more incendiary views, which he says he does not share.”

Donna Brazile | Give Kamala Harris the Credit She Is Due – The New York Times

Ms. Brazile teaches in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Georgetown University and is a contributor to ABC News.

“Vice President Kamala Harris occupies an office that can be the butt of jokes and criticism. The only duties of the vice president spelled out in the Constitution are to cast tiebreaking votes in the Senate and to become president if the office becomes vacant.

I’ve never run for government office, but as a Black woman who has spent my life working in politics — including as manager of Vice President Al Gore’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2000 — I know what it’s like to be underestimated, over-scrutinized and unfairly criticized, just as Ms. Harris has been. Yet I’ve never been under such a glaring spotlight as hers.

I have watched politicians up close for decades. And‌ I have known Vice President Harris for years and urged Joe Biden to make her his running mate in 2020. I ‌believe that the criticism of her is unrelated to her performance as vice president and fails to account for the role she plays in the White House.

As a consequential and successful vice president himself for eight years under Barack Obama, President Biden has a keen understanding of the job he once held and he has tasked Vice President Harris with major responsibilities. She has done an outstanding job and her record in two years stands up to that of her predecessors. Has she solved every problem? No, but name me one vice president who has.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT        NYT comment:

Thank you Donna Brazile, for a the positive piece on Kamala Harris. I’ve been thinking she had been scapegoated for some time. It is probably that most of what you say is true, and yet the commenters here have their own list of faults and weaknesses. I agree that the vice president is under intense scrutiny, and is extremely qualified. For me, the biggest problem is her public speaking skills are usually terrible, to the point of unacceptable. She takes an important sentence, or paragraph, and reads it so slowly, that I fear I will die of either old age or boredom before she finishes. She destroys every subject she speaks about, if their is a microphone and a reporter present. If she can’t deal with her speach impediment, and get a speach, acting, and eloqution coach, and learn to be fluent, or just pick up the pace, in public, she should take a more back office job, or go back to being a prosecutor, where she might be more comfortable. She seems so afraid of miss speaking, that she speaks with all the brakes on to prevent forward motion. That her message is usually brilliant, or brave, or important, gets lost in the empty spaces, and pauses, and timing pot-holes. David blogs at

Nicholas Kristof | Inclusive or Alienating? The Language Wars Go On – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Before the millions of views, the subsequent ridicule and finally the earnest apology, The Associated Press Stylebook practically oozed good intentions in its tweet last week:

“We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college educated.”

“The French”?

Zut alors! The result was a wave of mocking conjecture of how to refer sensitively to, er, people of French persuasion. The French Embassy in the United States proposed changing its name to “the Embassy of Frenchness.” “

Opinion | Gary Hart: The  “New Church Committee’ Is an Outrage – The New York Times

Mr. Hart is a former United States senator from Colorado and the author of, most recently, “The Republic of Conscience.”

“To legitimize otherwise questionable investigations, Congress occasionally labels them after a previous successful effort. Thus, the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives’ proposed select committee, which plans to investigate the “weaponization of government,” is being described as “the new Church committee,” after the group of senators who investigated the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and other groups from 1975-76.

As the last surviving member of the original Church committee, named after its chairman, the late Senator Frank Church of Idaho, I have a particular interest in distinguishing what we accomplished then and what authoritarian Republicans seem to have in mind now.

The outlines of the committee, which Rep. Jim Jordan will assemble, remain vague. Reading between the rhetorical lines, proponents appear to believe agencies of the national government have targeted, and perhaps are still targeting, right-of-center individuals and groups, possibly including individuals and right-wing militia groups that participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

That is almost completely at odds with the purpose of the original Church committee, which was founded in response to widespread abuses by government intelligence agencies. While we sought to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of American citizens, we were also bound to protect the integrity of the intelligence and security agencies, which were founded to protect those freedoms, too.

Our committee brought U.S. intelligence agencies under congressional scrutiny to prevent the violation of the privacy rights of American citizens, and to halt covert operations abroad that violated our constitutional principles. Rather than strengthening the oversight of federal agencies, the new committee seems designed to prevent law enforcement and intelligence agencies from enforcing the law — specifically, laws against insurrectionist activity in our own democracy.

It is one thing to intercept phone calls from people organizing a peaceful civil rights march and quite another to intercept phone calls from people organizing an assault on the Capitol to impede the certification of a national election.”

Brooks and Stevens | The Party’s Over for Us. Where Do We Go Now? – The New York Times

“Bret Stephens: Lately I’ve been thinking about that classic Will Rogers line: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” A century or so later, it looks like the shoe is on the other foot. Is it even possible to call the Republican Party a “party” anymore?

David: My thinking about the G.O.P. goes back to a brunch I had with Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D’Souza in the ’80s that helps me see, in retrospect, that people in my circle were pro-conservative, while Ingraham and D’Souza and people in their circle were anti-left. We wanted to champion Edmund Burke and Adam Smith and a Reaganite foreign policy. They wanted to rock the establishment. That turned out to be a consequential difference because almost all the people in my circle back then — like David Frum and Robert Kagan — ended up, decades later, NeverTrumpers, and almost all the people in their circle became Trumpers or went bonkers.”

Carlos Lozada | I Looked Behind the Curtain of American History, and This Is What I Found – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“In the realm of folklore and ancient traditions, myths are tales forever retold for their wisdom and underlying truths. Their impossibility is part of their appeal; few would pause to debunk the physics of Icarus’s wings before warning against flying too close to the sun.

In the worlds of journalism and history, however, myths are viewed as pernicious creatures that obscure more than they illuminate. They must be hunted and destroyed so that the real story can assume its proper perch. Puncturing these myths is a matter of duty and an assertion of expertise. “Actually” becomes an honored adverb.

I can claim some experience in this effort, not as a debunker of myths but as a clearinghouse for them. When I served as the editor of The Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section several years ago, I assigned and edited dozens of “5 Myths” articles in which experts tackled the most common fallacies surrounding subjects in the news. This regular exercise forced me to wrestle with the form’s basic challenges: How entrenched and widespread must a misconception be to count as an honest-to-badness myth? What is the difference between a conclusive debunking and a conflicting interpretation? And who is qualified to upend a myth or disqualified from doing so?

These questions came up frequently as I read “Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past,” a collection published this month and edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, historians at Princeton. The book, which the editors describe as an “intervention” in long-running public discussions on American politics, economics and culture, is an authoritative and fitting contribution to the myth-busting genre — authoritative for the quality of the contributions and the scope of its enterprise, fitting because it captures in one volume the possibilities and pitfalls of the form. When you face down so many myths in quick succession, the values that underpin the effort grow sharper, even if the value of myths themselves grows murkier. All of our national delusions should be exposed, but I’m not sure all should be excised. Do not some myths serve a valid purpose?”

“. . . . . Zelizer writes that the notion of a revolutionary Reagan era did not emerge spontaneously but was “born out of an explicit political strategy” aimed at exaggerating both conservative strength and liberal weakness. This is another recurring conclusion of “Myth America” — that many of our national mythologies are not the product of good-faith misunderstandings or organically divergent viewpoints that become entrenched over time, but rather of deliberate efforts at mythmaking. The notions that free enterprise is inseparable from broader American freedoms, that voting fraud is ubiquitous, that the feminist movement is anti-family — in this telling, they are myths peddled or exaggerated, for nefarious purposes, by the right.”

Richard H. Pildes – Why the Fringiest Fringe of the G.O.P. Now Has So Much Power Over the Party – The New York Times

Mr. Pildes is a legal scholar who analyzes the intersection of politics and law and how they affect our democracy.

“For the first time in nearly a century, we have witnessed the stunning spectacle of a Republican Party so fractured, it has struggled in multiple rounds of balloting to choose a speaker of the House. This Washington drama reflects larger structural forces that are changing American democracy.

Revolutions in communications and technology have transformed our democracy in more profound ways than just the more familiar issues of misinformation, hate speech and the like. They have enabled individual members of Congress to function, even thrive, as free agents. They have flattened institutional authority, including that of the political parties and their leaders. They have allowed individuals and groups to more easily mobilize and sustain opposition to government action and help fuel intense factional conflicts within the parties that leadership has greater difficulty controlling than in the past.

Through cable television and social media, even politicians in their first years in office can cultivate a national audience. When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez entered Congress, she already had nine million followers on the major social media platforms, more than four times the number for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an order of magnitude more than any other Democrat in the House. Recognizing the power social media provides, Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a provocateur in the opposition to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid, has said he wants to be the A.O.C. of the right.”

Peter Coy |  Can Raise Thorny Questions – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“The last week of the year is a big one for writing checks to charities, especially for Americans who are fortunate enough to have incomes high enough to justify itemizing their deductions. There’s something bewildering about the ritual, though. On what basis do we decide who should get our money? And how much should each receive? Normally we feel good about spending as little as possible on things, but with charitable giving, we tend to think of more as better.

I began thinking about this after I received an email from a psychology professor, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, criticizing what he called “the capitalist system of charities in the U.S.A.” He wrote that charities are “competing to the death for the same 50 cents.”

“Thus,” he went on, “hundreds of organizations fight hunger locally and nationally. When it comes to illnesses, there are thousands of organizations competing. This means a terrible waste of resources.” He recommended that I look at Germany, where the government performs functions that charities perform in the United States.

My psychologist friend has a point about the waste of resources, I think, as I chuck another stack of fund-raising pitches into the recycling bin. (When I spy a nickel or a quarter through the glassine window, I take that out first, with zero guilt pangs.)”

David Lindsay wrote to Peter Coy,   coy-newsletter(at)

Hi Peter,

This is an interesting topic, I missed having comments after your piece.
You made excellent points.  You left out people like me — climate hawks.
I have cut my normal donations down this year, when I felt I had to make a lot of political contributions, since the current Republican Party is more pro fascism than democracy, and more dirty Anthropocentric growth, than sustainable development.
Second, I usually don’t give to charities as much as I used to that mostly help people survive, since people are causing the decline of other species in dramatic terms. In a non election year, I give most of my donations to Environmental and family planning organizations.
I posted a piece other species decline this morning from 2001 in my blog:
David Lindsay

New York Republican George Santos’s Résumé Called Into Question – The New York Times


“George Santos, whose election to Congress on Long Island last month helped Republicans clinch a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, built his candidacy on the notion that he was the “full embodiment of the American dream” and was running to safeguard it for others.

His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.

But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Fabulous reporting, thank you Grace Ashford and Michael Gold. This story begs a bunch of questions, starting with, is any governmental agency, such as the Department of Justice, in a postion to stop this flim flam artist from taking office?

Gail Collins | Wait! Wait! ? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“As the sun sinks over Georgia, we bid adieu to the Senate runoff election that seems to have been contested since the beginning of time.

Yes, dinosaurs once ruled the earth and Senate candidate Herschel Walker probably has a theory about how they could be killed by a werewolf. Or maybe a vampire.

This certainly was a race to remember. But now it’s over; Georgia very rightly decided that Senator Raphael Warnock, an estimable candidate, was better for the job than a guy who couldn’t seem to be clear about how many children he’d fathered or abortions he’d paid for.

But … Wait! Wait! Warnock got only a little more than 51 percent of the vote. That means more than 1.7 million Georgians thought it’d be a better plan to have a senator whose theory on global warming is: “Don’t we have enough trees?” “