Nicholas Kristof | Biden Plots a Revolution for America’s Children – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Richard Foulser/Trunk Archive

“The most revolutionary part of President Biden’s agenda so far is his focus on a constituency that doesn’t write whiny op-ed columns, doesn’t vote, doesn’t hire lobbyists and so has been neglected for half a century: children.

Biden’s proposal to establish a national pre-K and child care system would be a huge step forward for children and for working parents alike. It would make it easier for moms and dads to hold jobs, and above all it would be a lifeline for many disadvantaged children.

Imagine: You drop a kid off at a high-quality prekindergarten program in the morning and pick the child up on the way home from work. That’s how it is in many other advanced countries, and in the United States military.

When my wife and I lived in Japan in the late 1990s, we sent our kids to one of these nurseries, and they were a dream.”

Nicholas Kristof | How to Reduce Shootings – (regulate gun like cars) -The New York Times

“America has been shaken by new mass shootings, in Georgia and Colorado, with at least 18 people killed. This essay originally ran in 2017, after a shooter killed 26 people in a Texas church, but the issue is still tragically relevant — and will remain so until America tightens its gun safety policies.

America has more guns than any other country

The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns — roughly one for every citizen — and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.”

Nicholas Kristof | America Is Not Made for People Who Pee – The New York Times

    Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Jan Buchczik

“PORTLAND, Ore. — Here’s a populist slogan for President Biden’s infrastructure plan: Pee for Free!

Sure, we need investments to rebuild bridges, highways and, yes, electrical grids, but perhaps America’s most disgraceful infrastructure failing is its lack of public toilets.

Greeks and Romans had public toilets more than 2,000 years ago, with people sitting on benches with holes to do their business. There were no partitions, and Romans wiped with sponges on sticks that were dipped in water and shared by all users.

I’m not endorsing that arrangement, but at least the ancient Romans operated large numbers of public latrines, which is more than can be said of the United States today.

The humorist Art Buchwald once recounted an increasingly desperate search for a toilet in Manhattan. He was turned down at an office building, a bookstore and a hotel, so he finally rushed into a bar and asked for a drink.

“What kind of drink?” the bartender replied.

“Who cares?” Buchwald answered. “Where’s the men’s room?”

America should be better than that. Japan manages what may be the world’s most civilized public toilets — ubiquitous, clean and reliably equipped with paper — and almost every industrialized country is more bladder-friendly than America. Even poorer countries like China and India manage networks of public latrines. But the United States is simply not made for people who pee.” . . .

“. . .  The White House can work with cities to experiment with various approaches to expand restroom access. We can work with corporate sponsors. We can use advertising to help underwrite the expense. We can give tax breaks to businesses that make restrooms open to all. There are models all over the world, such as India turning old buses into clean public toilets.

If the Romans could figure this out two millenniums ago, surely we can, even if we’ll want to skip those shared sponges.

So come on, President Biden! Let’s see an infrastructure plan that addresses not only bridges and electrical grids, but also bladders and bowels.”    -30-

Nicholas Kristof | How to Reach People Who Are Wrong – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Mark Peterson/Redux

“The Trump years were a time of high passion, of moral certainty, of drawing lines in the sand, of despair at the ethical and intellectual vacuity of political foes. But now it’s time to recalibrate.

From my liberal point of view, Democrats were largely vindicated. From the Muslim ban to the separation of families at the border, from the mishandling of the pandemic to the Capitol insurrection, Democrats’ warnings aged well. Yet one of the perils in life is being proven right.

The risk is excessive admiration for one’s own brilliance, preening at one’s own righteousness, and inordinate scorn for the jerks on the other side. It was the Republicans’ hubris after the 1991 gulf war — won in 100 hours — that led the G.O.P. to march obliviously into the catastrophic Iraq war a dozen years later.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, has a smart new book out advising us to “Think Again,” in the words of his title. He explores in part what goes wrong when smart people are too righteous, and he offers a paean to intellectual humility.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This is a lovely and thoughful piece, thank you Nicholas Kristof. It goes hand in hand with the piece today by Ezra Klien, on how successful Joe Biden has been by keeping a low profile, and making the work about helping Americans in need, rather than about himself or his tribe. We will have to remain humble and open, while organizing to defeat our fearful and dangerous and unscrupulous fellow Americans at the polls, so we don’t have to face a second civil war.

Nicholas Kristof | Can Biden Save Americans Like My Old Pal Mike? – The New York Times

“. . .  So what went wrong with Mike?

“He didn’t want to work,” Stephanie told me. She is angry at Mike for abandoning his kids and failing to pay $68,000 in child support, but then the anger passes and she wistfully refers to him as “the love of my life.”

Perhaps Mike was lazy, but there’s more to the story. Everyone agrees that Mike had mental illnesses that were never treated, and in any case, this wasn’t one person’s stumble but a crisis for an entire generation of low-education workers. Mike and his cohort weren’t dumber or lazier than their parents or grandparents, but their outcomes worsened.

So, sure, we can have a conversation about personal responsibility. But let’s also talk about our collective responsibility: If the federal minimum wage of 1968 had kept pace with inflation and productivity, it would now be more than $22 an hour, rather than $7.25. We also underinvested in our human capital, so high school graduation rates stagnated beginning in the 1970s along with blue-collar incomes, even as substance abuse soared and family structure for low-education workers collapsed.

One consequence is that an American dies a “death of despair” — from drugs, alcohol or suicide — every two and a half minutes. Long after the coronavirus has retreated, we will still be grappling with a pandemic of despair.

Credit…Lynsey Addario

The United States has a mental health crisis that is largely untreated and arises in part from high levels of inequality. Researchers find that poverty causes mental illness, and mental illness in turn exacerbates poverty. It’s a vicious cycle, and 20 million Americans, mostly poorly educated, describe every one of the last 30 days as “bad mental health days,” according to David G. Blanchflower, a Dartmouth economist.

I also know this: Taxpayers spent large sums jailing Mike, whose arrest record runs 14 pages (mostly for drug offenses). That money would have been better spent at the front end, with early childhood programs and mentoring to support Mike and help him finish high school and get a job.

Yet politicians have mostly been AWOL. In the 2020 Democratic primaries, the presidential candidates had healthy discussions about increasing college access but largely ignored the reality that one in seven American children don’t even graduate from high school. The term “working class” is rarely mentioned by politicians, who prefer to appeal to people a notch higher, in the middle class. And many government programs that are nominally for the benefit of the middle class — such as the mortgage interest deduction, 529 college savings plans, state and local tax deductions and “middle-class tax cuts” — actually primarily benefit the rich.

We fret about competitive challenges from China, but the best way to meet them is to elevate our capabilities at home. China built new universities at the rate of one a week, while the number of colleges in the United States is now shrinking — and as many Americans have criminal records as have college degrees. “Holding hands, Americans with arrest records could circle the earth three times,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

America cannot succeed when so many Americans are failing.

Credit…Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

Joe Biden has a fighting chance to make progress on these issues. Partly that’s because he’s impossible to mock as a wild-eyed socialist, partly because he and his team understand that we have a better chance of making progress if we frame the issue less as one of “inequality” — a liberal word — and more as one of “opportunity” and “dignity.” “

Bravo, and thank you Nicholas Kristof.  Here are two of many fabulous comments”

Rich D
Tucson, AZFeb. 14
Times Pick

Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for telling the story of your old pal, Mike. Rest in peace, Mike. You earned that. And as sad as Mike’s story is, at the end of the day, he perhaps had a more successful life than most of us will by offering up lessons in humility, gratitude and kindness despite his station in life. As an alcoholic and addict approaching 35 years of continuous sobriety, I am Mike’s brother in addiction. My fate was very different than his. I too was once homeless and ate at the free soup kitchen at St. Vincent de Paul. Once sober, my life continued with perilous and almost insurmountable challenges, including crushing poverty that meant living in a skid row tenement while sober, full of alcoholics and drug addicts, because that is all I could afford and riding a bicycle everywhere for transportation for years. Giving up, to live a life like Mike’s, crossed my mind so many times I could not count them. By the grace of God and luck and a ridiculously stubborn perserverance and the help and encouragement of many in A.A., my life got better and then very much better. Eventually I became the CEO of a successful midsize company and have been happily married for a couple of decades now. Without the helping hand of a publicly funded 30 day treatment program for the indigent, I am absolutely certain I would have perished decades ago. On that subject I know, Mr. Kristof, that you are correct. Alcohol and drug treatment saves lives – it did mine.

2 Replies554 Recommended

 
BHW commented February 13

BHW
eastern washingtonFeb. 13

I’m about the same age as Mr. Kristof, worked in the Cascades, and still do. It’s important to note that by the 1970s, 90% of the old growth was gone, and so were 90% of the jobs in logging; environmentalists didn’t cause that. Mill jobs left because of whole-log exports; environmentalists didn’t cause that. And capital in the timber industry moved to the southeast, where trees grow faster and unions don’t exists; environmentalists didn’t cause that. The spotted owl as a scapegoat doesn’t really play.

2 Replies522 Recommended

Nicholas Kristof | Trump Incites Rioters – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

” “If the Democratic Party wants to stand with anarchists, agitators, rioters, looters and flag burners, that is up to them. But I as your president will not be part of it. The Republican Party will remain the voice of the patriotic heroes who keep America safe.”

— Donald Trump, Aug. 28, 2020

Wednesday was a horrifying and shameful moment in American history. I’ve covered attempted coups in many countries around the world, and now I’m finally covering one in the United States.

Trump and his enablers talk a good game about patriotism. They denounced President Barack Obama for sometimes not wearing a flag lapel pin. They criticized Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality by taking a knee rather than standing during the national anthem — and then Trump incited a mob on Wednesday to invade the United States Capitol. The rioters encountered a minimal police response, not the kind that Black Lives Matter protesters received.

ImageDemonstrators at the Capitol in June protested the killing of George Floyd.
Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Many of those pro-Trump rioters probably dispute the idea of white privilege. But the fact that they were allowed to overrun the police and invade the Senate and House chambers was evidence of that privilege.

Opinion | The Coronavirus Vaccine Won’t Solve Everything – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

“This should be a season of hope: We will shortly be getting a highly effective coronavirus vaccine, and the pandemic should wind down in the coming months.

Yet this is the most wretched holiday season of my life. Consider:

  • More Americans have died from Covid-19 in nine months than in combat over four years in World War II. The virus death toll exceeds 292,000, compared with 291,557 American World War II battle deaths.

  • We’re sometimes now losing more Americans from the virus in a single day than perished in the Pearl Harbor attacks or 9/11. But contrary to viral memes floating around the internet, the virus is not creating the “deadliest days” in American history: In October 1918, in a much smaller population, more than 6,000 Americans died of the Spanish flu on average each day for the entire month.

  • If American states were treated as countries, the places with the highest per capita coronavirus death rates would be: SloveniaSouth Dakota, North Dakota, Bulgaria, Iowa, Bosnia, Hungary, Croatia, Illinois, North Macedonia, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, San Marino.

A pandemic is a test of a country’s governance, and this is one the United States has failed. Much of that is on President Trump’s colossal failure of leadership, but it also reflects a deeper skepticism about science and a proclivity toward personal irresponsibility — such as refusing to wear masks.”

Opinion | An Uplifting Update, on the Terrible World of Pornhub – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

David Lindsay: Hallelujah! Maybe there is a god. Maybe that god resides a little bit inside of all forms of life, including humans. In spite of their incredible propensity for evil, humans can also do good works.

Opinion Columnist

We all need uplift this terrible year, so here’s inspiring news about some young heroes and the good they’ve achieved on a wrenching topic.

Young men and women who had been exploited by Pornhub as children shared their stories, their documentation and their mortification in hopes that this might prevent other children from being abused. And now, guardedly, there’s hope that they’ve brought about change.

Pornhub on Tuesday announced huge moves that could — if thoroughly put into effect — significantly curb future exploitation. I don’t trust Pornhub a bit, so officials will need to monitor this sector in a way they haven’t before.

And perhaps that will happen. Four senators, Josh Hawley, Maggie Hassan, Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis, on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to make it easier for rape victims to sue porn companies that profit from videos of their assaults. Another senator, Jeff Merkley, is separately drafting bipartisan legislation to regulate such companies more rigorously, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada (which is home to Pornhub) said Tuesday that his government was developing new regulations for these platforms as well.

Visa and Mastercard are reviewing their ties with Pornhub; there are calls for criminal prosecutions; activist groups like Traffickinghub are demanding action; and lawyers are circling with civil suits.

All this may explain why Pornhub on Tuesday announced three steps that mirrored suggestions I made in a long investigative column over the weekend that quoted the young people who so bravely told their stories. 1.) It will allow videos to be uploaded only by people who have verified their identities. 2.) It will improve moderation. 3.) It will no longer allow video downloads, which allow illegal material to proliferate.

We should all be suitably skeptical. Fake I.D.’s abound, and in September a Tuscaloosa man was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in videos that he posted on his verified Pornhub account. And even if there is no download button, it is still possible to download using other methods.

That said, this is a big deal, and it happened only because of young people who spoke up and forced difficult conversations that government leaders had dodged.

One woman I wrote about, Serena K. Fleites, 19, felt her life spiral out of control after naked videos of her were posted on Pornhub when she was 14; after two suicide attempts, she was homeless and living in a car in Bakersfield, Calif., with three dogs, dreaming of becoming a vet tech but having no idea how to get there.

I’m thrilled to report that Fleites has been deluged with offers of housing, jobs, education and counseling, and she and her dogs have moved into a long-stay hotel with help from a GoFundMe backed by readers. One benefactor has volunteered to pay for her education to become a vet tech.”

Opinion | The Children of Pornhub – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.

“Pornhub prides itself on being the cheery, winking face of naughty, the website that buys a billboard in Times Square and provides snow plows to clear Boston streets. It donates to organizations fighting for racial equality and offers steamy content free to get people through Covid-19 shutdowns.

That supposedly “wholesome Pornhub” attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon. Pornhub rakes in money from almost three billion ad impressions a day. One ranking lists Pornhub as the 10th-most-visited website in the world.

Yet there’s another side of the company: Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. A search for “girls under18” (no space) or “14yo” leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.

After a 15-year-old girl went missing in Florida, her mother found her on Pornhub — in 58 sex videos. Sexual assaults on a 14-year-old California girl were posted on Pornhub and were reported to the authorities not by the company but by a classmate who saw the videos. In each case, offenders were arrested for the assaults, but Pornhub escaped responsibility for sharing the videos and profiting from them.

Pornhub is like YouTube in that it allows members of the public to post their own videos. A great majority of the 6.8 million new videos posted on the site each year probably involve consenting adults, but many depict child abuse and nonconsensual violence. Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.

Unlike YouTube, Pornhub allows these videos to be downloaded directly from its website. So even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late: The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again.” . . . . .

“So what’s the solution?

I had expected the survivors to want to shut down Pornhub and send its executives to prison. Some did, but others were more nuanced. Lydia, now 20, was trafficked as a child and had many rape videos posted on the site. “My stomach hurts all the time” from the tension, she told me, but she doesn’t want to come across as hostile to porn itself.

“I don’t want people to hear ‘No porn!’” Lydia told me. “It’s more like, ‘Stop hurting kids.’”

Susan Padron told me that she had assumed that pornography was consensual, until a boyfriend filmed her in a sex act when she was 15 and posted it on Pornhub. She has struggled since and believes that only people who have confirmed their identities should be allowed to post videos.

Jessica Shumway, who was trafficked and had a customer post a sex video on Pornhub, agrees: “They need to figure out who’s underage in the videos and that there’s consent from everybody in it.”

I asked Leo, 18, who had videos of himself posted on Pornhub when he was 14, what he suggested.

“That’s tough,” he said. “My solution would be to leave porn to professional production companies,” because they require proof of age and consent.

Right now, those companies can’t compete with mostly free sites like Pornhub and XVideos.

“Pornhub has already destroyed the business model for pay sites,” said Stoya, an adult film actress and writer. She, too, thinks all platforms — from YouTube to Pornhub — should require proof of consent to upload videos of private individuals.

Columnists are supposed to offer answers, but I struggle with solutions. If Pornhub curated videos more rigorously, the most offensive material might just move to the dark web or to websites in less regulated countries. Yet at least they would then not be normalized on a mainstream site.

More pressure and less impunity would help. We’re already seeing that limiting Section 230 immunity leads to better self-policing.

And call me a prude, but I don’t see why search engines, banks or credit card companies should bolster a company that monetizes sexual assaults on children or unconscious women. If PayPal can suspend cooperation with Pornhub, so can American Express, Mastercard and Visa.

I don’t see any neat solution. But aside from limiting immunity so that companies are incentivized to behave better, here are three steps that would help: 1.) Allow only verified users to post videos. 2.) Prohibit downloads. 3.) Increase moderation.

These measures wouldn’t kill porn or much bother consumers of it; YouTube thrives without downloads. Siri Dahl, a prominent porn star who does business with Pornhub, told me that my three proposals are “insanely reasonable.”

The world has often been oblivious to child sexual abuse, from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts. Too late, we prosecute individuals like Jeffrey Epstein or R. Kelly. But we should also stand up to corporations that systematically exploit children. With Pornhub, we have Jeffrey Epstein times 1,000.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

Opinion | Trump, Polarization and Damaged Friendships – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“Many of my oldest friends are voting for President Trump on Tuesday.

They’re supporting Trump despite the arguments my pundit colleagues and I have been making — or perhaps because of them. My pro-Trump friends and readers complain that the mainstream media are biased against Trump, and thus they tune us out for being unfair and piling on.

“The picture painted by the media is a caricature of the person,” said my high school buddy Dave Richardson, who voted for Trump warily in 2016 but is supporting him enthusiastically this time.

The conundrum for those of us trying to change minds is that the more urgently we shout, the less we’re heard. “We’re not stupid, gullible sheep,” one reader, Frank J., complained. “Be fair and balanced in your reporting and it would have more power.”

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

My childhood friend Mary Mayor likewise supported Trump and is turned off by coverage that she regards as hostile. “I’ve never known a president who has gone through so much scrutiny, overlooking all the positives he has done,” she told me.

I understand why people like Mary voted for Trump. The loss of well-paying jobs devastated places like my hometown, Yamhill, Ore. Mary spent seven years homeless, lost four relatives to suicide, and herself once put a gun to her own head, before she pulled herself together with the help of a local church. Trump talked about bringing jobs back and helping ordinary workers — so she voted for the first time in her life, for Trump.

“We hoped Trump would help boost the economy and jobs,” my old friend Jani Sitton said, explaining her vote for Trump in 2016.

The challenge for opponents of Trump like myself is that our denunciations of the president sometimes backfire and help him, just as polls suggest that impeachment increased support for him (Gallup shows him with his highest presidential approval numbers after being impeached). As Jani said: “The condescension from very loud and aggressive Trump critics has contributed big time toward conservatives feeling sympathy for him.”

So in my last column before Election Day, let me explain as respectfully as I can why I’m so worked up about this election.

It’s partly because I believe that Trump is a charlatan who preys on my friends who trust him. Trump’s own sister has said he is a liar with “no principles,” and his former chief of staff Gen. John Kelly reportedly referred to him as “the most flawed person” he has known.

So if I’m passionate, it’s because I feel he has exploited my friends and then betrayed them with his policies.

How can a president be called “pro-life” when he has presided over the deaths of more than 225,000 Americans from Covid-19 and still doesn’t have a strategy to fight it? Trump is also working to take away health insurance from my friends: Already, the number of Americans with health insurance has dropped by 5.2 million since Trump took office, and he is trying to completely overturn the Affordable Care Act right after the election.

I’m a great believer in community, in the idea that what makes countries strong is “social capital” — the web of relationships, beliefs, trust, decency and identity that make a society work. Trump has taken this social fabric and acted as the Great Unraveler.

He replaces accepted facts with lies, baseless accusations, support for QAnon and even a conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama had SEAL Team 6 killed instead of Osama bin Laden. In both supporters and opponents, Trump nurtures hate. He is what Proverbs 6:19 calls “a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Trump has been a corrosive acid on America’s social capital. He has cost us trust. He has dissolved our connectivity.

I understand now why kindergarten teachers sometimes want to remove a loudmouth bully who disrupts the class and leaves it dysfunctional. That is what Trump has done to our democracy.

For much of my career, I’ve written about national security, from Afghanistan to North Korea, China to Iran. But great nations more often rot from within than suffer defeat from outside, and Trump is exacerbating longstanding divisions and weaknesses in this country.

So to those who think I suffer from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” let me explain — with respect, but also urgency — that my intensity arises because I see Trump as not just a phony but also a threat. He has left the United States a more turbulent and divided nation, one close to war with itself.

Today the greatest threat I perceive to America’s national security isn’t from Qaeda terrorists, Russian cyberattacks or Chinese missiles. As I see it, it’s from Trump’s re-election.

This is when conversations with friends become awkward. I may think that Trump bamboozled my pals, and they may think I’m manipulated by leftist propaganda, but we all have agency — and we each think the other is using that agency to endanger a country we all love.

I doubt I’ll change many minds. But the only thing I can do is reach out in a good-faith effort to undecided voters.

Sometimes it works. Jani, a committed Christian, has worried about Democrats and abortion. But this time she will vote for Biden because she’s appalled at Trump’s policies toward migrants, Black Lives Matter and health care, and because “God cares about oppression, justice, the voiceless.”

As Jani goes, so, I hope, will the nation.”