Maureen Dowd | The Ascension of Bernie Sanders – The New York Times

“. . . At 79, Bernie Sanders is a man on a mission, laser-focused on a list that represents trillions of dollars in government spending that he deems essential. When I stray into other subjects, the senator jabs his finger at his piece of paper or waves it in my face, like Van Helsing warding off Dracula with a cross.

“Maureen, let me just tell you what we’re trying to do here,” he says. “We’re working on what I think is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families since the 1930s.”

Sanders, long a wilderness prophet in Washington, a man who wrote a memoir bragging about being an outsider, admits that it is strange to be a key member of The Establishment. As the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, the democratic socialist is now pulling the levers in the control room.

He has changed the whole debate in the nation’s capital. He is the guy trying to yank his party back to its working-class roots and steer President Biden in a bolder, more progressive direction.

Mirabile dictu: A president and senator who are both pushing 80, men who were underestimated and dismissed for years in Democratic circles, are now teaming up to transform the country. It’s the Bernie and Joe show.

Sanders passionately believes that the only way to undo the damage done by Donald Trump and Trumpism is by showing that government can deliver, that good policy can overcome dangerous conspiracy theories and lies.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

So many comments about how Bernie is or might be a saint. There is some truth to this notion, but he never got my vote for saint or president. I do not forget that he withheld his support from Hillary Clinton, after she beat him in the primary, and was partly responsible for the election of Donald Trump. For that, he has blood on his hands. Sanders has been a shoddy act compared to the greats, like Abraham Lincoln. Biden is more in the Lincoln mold, knowing that you can not get too far away from the majority of the public, or they will not follow you. Unlike Bernie, these other two leaders have a record of accomplishment. Bernie does deserve a lot of credit for popularizing his positions, and pushing them into the mainstream of American politics. It’s fine to love and respect him, without putting him on a pedestal or failing to note his shortcomings.

In Rift With Biden, a Dramatic Show of Force by a Conservative Catholic Movement – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Pope Francis and President Biden, both liberals, are the two most high-profile Roman Catholics in the world.

But in the United States, neither of these men is determining the direction of the Catholic Church. It is now a conservative movement that decides how the Catholic Church asserts its power in America.

That reality was unmistakably declared last week, when the country’s bishops voted overwhelmingly to draft guidelines for the Eucharist, advancing a conservative push to deny Mr. Biden communion over his support for abortion rights.

“There is a special obligation of those who are in leadership because of their public visibility,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who heads the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana, said after the vote.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT comment:

Thank you Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham for an excellent report, and for disturbing my wa, or tranquility. I enjoyed also, the many most recommended comments. I heartily agree that the the Catholic Church continues in right wing politics, and should lose it’s tax exempt status in the US as soon as possible. What a sad bunch of medieval misogynists, more famous for protecting child molesters, than following the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have been an Episcopalian all my life, but I discovered I also feel close and comfortable with the best of Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, Moslems, Jews and pagan nature worshippers. On most days, I believe in a higher power. I once entered a Unitarian Society or Church, and discovered that I was essentially a Unitarian, someone who focuses on good works rather than dcrines claiming the truth. Part of me looks forward to the collapse of the Catholic Church, but then, in researching my historical fiction, The Tay Son Rebellion, on 18th century Vietnam, I discovered Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, who was a great scholar, a saint, and a military leader, who deeply influenced the 30 civil year war started by the Tay Son Rebellion. In recent years, my Lady gave me a copy of Eager to Love, The Alternative way of Francis of Assisi, by Richard Rohr, and I discovered that I am, in fact, a Christian, as in a follower of Jesus through Saint Francis of Assisi, who insisted that all all life forms are equally sacred David also blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Opinion | The Court and the Cross – by Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

By Linda Greenhouse
Contributing Opinion Writer

March 14, 2019, 165
Image: The cross that stands 40 feet tall on public land in Bladensburg, Md., is the subject of a Supreme Court case.
Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The cross that stands 40 feet tall on public land in Bladensburg, Md., is the subject of a Supreme Court case.CreditCreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Even before last month’s Supreme Court argument, the smart-money consensus was that those challenging the Latin cross that stands 40 feet tall on public land in Bladensburg, Md., would lose. Without debating that prediction, I want to make an obvious but, so far, underappreciated point: It really matters how the American Humanist Association and the other nonreligious plaintiffs lose.

If the justices permit the ultimate symbol of Christianity to remain, towering over other structures at the junction of two major roads, what theory will they use?

Will they say that even if such an object would be unconstitutional if erected today, this one should be grandfathered because it was put up by local citizens as a World War I memorial and stood without controversy for most of the ensuing 93 years?

Will the justices decide, as one lawyer, Neal Katyal, insisted in defense of the cross, that despite its origin as the centerpiece of Christian theology, a cross designated a war memorial acquires “an independent secular meaning?” (The Supreme Court’s leading precedent requires that in order not to violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, a government display of a religious symbol must have a “secular legislative purpose.”)”

Opinion | American Capitalism Isn’t Working. – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“The October 1944 edition of Fortune magazine carried an article by a corporate executive that makes for amazing reading today. It was written by William B. Benton — a co-founder of the Benton & Bowles ad agency — and an editor’s note explained that Benton was speaking not just for himself but on behalf of a major corporate lobbying group. The article then laid out a vision for American prosperity after World War II.

At the time, almost nobody took postwar prosperity for granted. The world had just endured 15 years of depression and war. Many Americans were worried that the end of wartime production, combined with the return of job-seeking soldiers, would plunge the economy into a new slump.

“Today victory is our purpose,” Benton wrote. “Tomorrow our goal will be jobs, peacetime production, high living standards and opportunity.” That goal, he wrote, depended on American businesses accepting “necessary and appropriate government regulation,” as well as labor unions. It depended on companies not earning their profits “at the expense of the welfare of the community.” It depended on rising wages.”

. . . . . .

“Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, is now rolling out a platform for her almost-certain presidential campaign, and it includes an answer to this question. It is a fascinating one, because it differs from the usual Democratic agenda of progressive taxes and bigger social programs (which Warren also supports). Her idea is the most intriguing policy idea to come out of the early 2020 campaign.

Warren wants an economy in which companies again invest in their workers and communities. Yet she doesn’t believe it can happen organically, as it did in the 1940s, because financial markets will punish well-meaning executives who stop trying to maximize short-term profits. “They can’t go back,” she told me recently. “You have to do it with a rule.”

She has proposed a bill in the Senate — and Ben Ray Luján, a top House Democrat, will soon offer it there — that would require corporate boards to take into account the interests of customers, employees and communities. To make sure that happens, 40 percent of a company’s board seats would be elected by employees. Germany uses a version of this “shared-governance” model, mostly successfully. Even in today’s hypercompetitive economy, German corporations earn nice profits with a philosophy that looks more like William Benton’s than Gordon Gekko’s.”

David Lindsay:  Yes, and  thank you. Here are the top two comments, that I endorse:

Ed M
Michigan

If I had to choose one word to describe what we’ve lost in our decades-old slide into an Ayn Rand fantasy world, it would be “balance.” It seems as if today’s leaders believe that by rewarding the top with unfathomable riches, the rising tide will lift all boats. Sadly, what we see is an increasing share of the population drowning. The ruling class has unilaterally broken the social contract that served us so well and replaced it with a system where everything is for profit and everything is for sale – people, morality, the environment – everything. Have we no sense of shame left?

Socrates commented 11 hours ago

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ

From: REWARDING OR HOARDING ? An Examination of Pay Ratios Revealed by Dodd-Frank…by the staff of Representative Keith Ellison Auto-parts maker Aptiv CEO-worker pay ratio: 2,526 to 1 Temp agency Manpower CEO-worker 2,483 to 1 Amusement Park Six Flags CEO-worker 1,920 to 1 Del Monte Produce CEO-worker 1,465 to 1 Apparel maker VF CEO-worker 1,353 to 1 Marathon Petroleum CEO-worker 935 to 1 The industry with the highest average ratio CEO to worker pay is the consumer discretionary industry with a ratio of 977 to 1 – this category includes companies that sell clothing and food such as McDonalds, Gap, and Kohl’s. The company with the smallest ratio in the database is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with a ratio of 2:1. The company with the largest ratio is Mattel Toys, with a ratio of 4,987:1 Also, some companies exclude third-party contractors, which suggests that the true level of inequality between CEO pay and median worker pay is even higher. https://ellison.house.gov/sites/ellison.house.gov/files/Rewarding%20Or%20Hoarding%20Full%20Report.pdf In the 1970s, the top 1% of families earned less than 10% of the total national income earned by all workers Today, the top 1% share is greater than 20%. Despite increases in worker productivity over the course of the last four decades, the top 1% have taken whatever they could get away with, which was the destruction of the working class and the middle class. Vulture capitalism is turning America into a feudal society.

Hillary Clinton Says Europe Must ‘Get a Handle’ on Migration to Thwart Populism – Matt Stevens- Megan Specia and Patrick Kingsley -The New York Times

By
Nov. 22, 2018, 375

“Europe’s leaders need to send a much stronger message that they will no longer offer “refuge and support” to migrants if they want to curb the right-wing populism spreading across the Continent, Hillary Clinton warned in an interview published Thursday.

Mrs. Clinton said that while the decision of some nations to welcome migrants was admirable, it had opened the door to political turmoil, the rise of the right and Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union.

“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Mrs. Clinton said in the interview with The Guardian, which was conducted before the United States midterm elections this month.

“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ — because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic,” she said.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Here are the top comments at the NYT which I endorsed:
Frankster
Paris
Times Pick

I absolutely cannot understand that a simple factual observation by Hillary Clinton provokes this controversy. The Democratic Party lost the election by pretending that this issue didn’t exist. The Democrats lost contact with their electorate and remember, the United States is, still, a democracy. Those who do not want to restrict this kind of immigration all go to the same parties but that does not make their views a majority view.

JP commented 7 hours ago

JP
MorroBay

I am no big fan of Hillary’s, but she’s absolutely right on this one. Europe is absolutely not able to handle refugees in these numbers, nor from ME countries. They’re full up, resources are getting tight, government services are strained, and their cultures are not going to change at such a rapid pace. Merkel made a huge miscalculation, as elites in government will typically do, living in their security bubbles and upper social stratum. Things are changing folks, the planet is overpopulated, resource depletion is upon us, and the world’s leaders need to take note. Birth control, fixing failed ME and Central American states, cleaning up pollution, and preserving our remaining important resources must become paramount if we’re going to survive. Unfettered capitalism, rampant depletion of nonrenewables, and dumping toxins into the ground, air and water for short term profit must be reined in. We are headed for authoritarian rule and back to survival of the fittest unless we change course, and the sooner the better.

Lloyd Sullivan commented 6 hours ago

Lloyd Sullivan
Henderson, NV
Times Pick

Hillary has gotten it wrong for much of her political career, but she got this one right and, amazingly, she didn’t opt for the politically correct line. There are 7 billion people on the planet, going on 8 billion. Many of the places where these people live offer a marginal existence at the very best. This a truly terrible fact of life, but it is a fact. No one in the First World can blame the inhabitants of these parts of the Third World for seeking a better life. Were we in their shoes we would do the same. But humanity is finally beginning to understand that the planet’s resources are finite. Immigrants flooding across borders away from scare resources to countries with more, or better-managed, resources, are the result and the flood is unsustainable. Populists know this, fear this and it drives their rhetoric. Unfortunately, their rhetoric on the subject of immigration is not groundless. Their ranks will only continue to grow as immigrant numbers rise.

T.R.Devlin commented 7 hours ago

T.R.Devlin
Geneva

Her comments are common sense; treating migrants whether refugees or economic migrants humanely, is essential.But given the demographic imbalances between Europe and Africa and the Middle East, the issue of migration needs to be handled collectively and intelligently if it is not to cause further political turmoil in Europe.

.

‘Enough Already’ Said God – by  Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The famous televangelist Jim Bakker, who is preaching again on television after a rape accusation and a prison term for financial fraud, recently warned that Christians would start an armed insurrection if President Trump were impeached. “If it happens, there will be civil war in the United States of America,” Bakker told his television audience. “The Christians will finally come out of the shadows, because we are going to be shut up permanently if we’re not careful.”

Afterward, I received the following transcript of a conversation between Bakker and, er, God. It comes from a divine source.

Bakker: “Dear God, thank you for blessing me with wisdom, courage, virtue and rugged good looks. Plus humility. Please help me raise up an army to smite the infidels trying to impeach President Trump. …”God: “Oh, enough already!”

Bakker, trying to dive under the bed: “Who’s there? And oh, no! Fire! Fire! There’s a fire on my bed!”

God: “It’s a burning bush.”Bakker: “Who said that? Fire! Fire! Help!”

God: “Don’t be such a wimp: This is a smokeless burning bush. It won’t even singe your linens. So listen up. This is God. . . . ”

Here are the top two comments, I completely endorse.
Aryae Coopersmith Half Moon Bay, California 1 day ago

Thank you Nick Kristof for giving us a few laughs while pointing out the elephant in the room!

To keep it very simple — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share three key values: love God, love your neighbor, love the stranger. The rest, as they say, is commentary.

623Recommended

ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 1 day ago

“God: “I’m nonpartisan. I just don’t like being used. I was mortified when four out of five white evangelical Christians voted for a thrice-married liar who bragged about sexual assault — and then cited me as the reason for their votes.”

Great column, Nicholas! If anyone can call out hypocrisy, it’s God, er, and, His son.

That Trump got the support of evangelicals was definitely some sort of miracle. One that tells us more about the real morality of preachers who make their livings not so much selling God as themselves.

In a certain way, I see the connection now–at least on the hypocrisy and selling of self. It takes one to know one–Bakker and company might be selling paradise but he and his peers want a down payment first in the form of credit card donations to the show.

So what else do Trump and televangelists have in common, when not pushing the Bible or violating the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount? Or failing to offer strangers a proper welcome?

Perhaps it’s the love of large fancy mansions here on earth, over living the kind of values that might ensure them a room in God’s mansion up above.

617Recommended

Climate of Complete Certainty – by Brett Stephens – NYT

“Right on the merits. Confident in their methods. Sure of their chances. When Bill Clinton suggested to his wife’s advisers that, considering Brexit, they might be underestimating the strength of the populist tide, the campaign manager, Robby Mook, had a bulletproof answer: The data run counter to your anecdotes.

That detail comes from “Shattered,” Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s compulsively readable account of Clinton’s 2016 train wreck. Mook belonged to a new breed of political technologists with little time for retail campaigning and limitless faith in the power of models and algorithms to minimize uncertainty and all but predict the future.”

The comments section was closed, so I wrote a letter to the NYT:
Brett Stephens wrote in his op-ed Climate of Complete Certainty, “Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities.”

This is unacceptable nonsense. This is the way Bill O’Reilly writes. O”Reilly states one or two facts, and then a conculsion, not supported by the facts he has stated, and then, does not offer any evidence to support the final, damning conclusion. If this statement is true, why is there not a single example offered to support it. A big bad generality is the tool of a smear artist.

As one commentator wrote correctly, comparing Hillary Clinton taking poling data too seriously, and the public taking climate change science seriously, is a false equivalence.

Stephens analysis of Clinton’s hubris was excellent, but his twisting argument in the sentence above in neither acceptable, nor professional. Almost all science is based on probabilities. That is not a sin, that is because 100% certainty is expensive to prove, even if the concept is easy to embrace. This unsupported trash talk might have been fine at the WSJ, but it is not the standard here at the NYT.

One Problem for Democratic Leaders Is Democratic Voters – by Tom Edsall – The New York Times

“Leaders on the Democratic left who want to represent the have-nots face an obstacle: their own voters.

Keith Ellison, a congressman from Minnesota and a candidate for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, argues that Democrats “have to stand for a strong, populist economic message.” ”

Great piece Tom Edsall, thank you.
I do not dispute your reports, they are eye opening.
Yes, and, let’s not forget that the Republicans spent 8 years not allowing Obama to take care of these people with more stimulus, jobs programs and development plans.
Let me tell you about new business, condos for sale in Canada…….

Will Trump Play Spy vs. Spy? – by Evan Thomas – The New York Times

In recent days, President-elect Donald J. Trump has rejected the C.I.A.’s conclusions that Russian hackers attempted to sway the American elections, and has accused unnamed officials within the agency of trying to undermine him. And he has rejected the tradition of receiving the intelligence community’s daily briefing, implying that he would rather rely on information and analysis from his inner circle of advisers.

Why Trump Had an Edge in the Electoral College – Nate Cohn – The New York Times

Amy Ellington Brooklyn 1 hour ago”The five real reasons Hillary Clinton lost the White House”http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/14/hillary-clinton-lost-whi…1. Taking the month of August off2. Not campaigning in Wisconsin, Michigan3. Misallocating her monetary advantage4. Going after the popular vote, not Electoral College win5. Doubling down demonizing Mr. Trump, instead of articulating her own vision

Here is great comment: Amy Ellington Brooklyn 1 hour ago

“The five real reasons Hillary Clinton lost the White House”
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/14/hillary-clinton-lost-whi…

1. Taking the month of August off
2. Not campaigning in Wisconsin, Michigan
3. Misallocating her monetary advantage
4. Going after the popular vote, not Electoral College win
5. Doubling down demonizing Mr. Trump, instead of articulating her own vision