We begin today with Charles Blow of The New York Times offering some explanations why large segments of the American electorate are considering a second term for Donald Trump.
We shouldn’t be here. We have a president who, on the whole, has had a successful first term and has capably performed the principal function for which he was elected: to return the country to normalcy and prevent more damage being done to it by his predecessor. [...]
Some voters exalt in a revisionist history in which destroyers are viewed as disrupters, in which our own past anxieties are downplayed.
In the view of many of these voters, even with his evident faults, Trump “isn’t so bad” and what he did in office is increasingly remembered as positive, including shaking up the Washington establishment and the political status quo. For those losing faith in government in general, this may be attractive — the nightmarish Trump days somehow converted into halcyon ones.
In that same scenario, some seem to be experiencing a false sense of invincibility, the kind that you might experience after surviving a car wreck, in which you come to see your escape from the worst as proof that the danger was less potent than it once seemed, and that you’re more resilient than you might have thought.
Renée Graham of The Boston Globe reminds us what a miserable S.O.B. Donald Trump is.
In his increasingly un-wonderful life, Trump has spent his years enriching only himself and has toiled to remake the world in his own misbegotten image. Now he’s facing the possibility that he could end up like the original “Teflon Don,” another ruthlessly ambitious, attention-addicted son of New York’s outer boroughs — mob boss John Gotti. After years of trials and acquittals, Gotti was finally convicted in 1992 on various charges, including murder, and sentenced to life. He died in prison in 2002.
What ultimately got Gotti was his longtime partner in crime, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who ratted him out. And as much as Trump loves to talk about numbers when they favor him, such as polls showing his sizable lead over fellow Republican presidential candidates, the figure on his mind these days is probably four — as in the four coconspirators in the Georgia election interference case who’ve cut plea deals with prosecutors in exchange for testimony during the upcoming trial, including against the former president.
Conspiring with Trump is one thing; risking your freedom by continuing to promulgate his lies is quite another. And notice that he didn’t trash them as he is James, Engoron, and Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting Trump’s trials for mishandling classified documents and federal election interference. He recognizes that those who’ve flipped on him can do serious damage to him.
You can see the impossible weight of it all in the hunch of Trump’s shoulders as he lumbers to the stage at his rallies. His perpetual scowl, even when he bares his teeth into something approximating a smile, personifies the motherly warning that echoed through many childhoods: “If you keep making that face, it’s gonna stay that way.”
Paul Krugman of The New York Times explains the rise and fall of wages since COVID-19 struck in 2020.
In 2020 the average wage of workers who still had a job shot up, because those who were laid off were disproportionately low-wage service workers. Then, as people resumed in-person shopping, started going to restaurants and so on, growth in average wages was held down because those low-wage workers were being rehired. You need to look through these “compositional effects” to figure out what was really happening to earnings as that played out.
Until recently I thought everyone — well, everyone following economic issues — knew this. (Assuming that people know more about the numbers than they actually do is an occupational hazard for nerds who become pundits.) But lately I’ve been seeing even mainstream news organizations publish charts that look like this:
And these charts are accompanied by commentary to the effect that real wages generally rose under Donald Trump but have generally fallen under Joe Biden, which in turn is supposed to explain why Americans are feeling so negative about the economy.
But that’s not what these charts actually tell us. Mostly they reflect the working stiff temporarily leaving the bar, then coming back.
Robert Barnes of The Washington Post reports that conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court seem suspicious of the in-house tribunals of the Securities and Exchange Commission but may be leaning toward a narrow resolution.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled in 2022 that the SEC’s in-house tribunals violated the Constitution’s Seventh Amendment right-to-a-jury trial, that Congress exceeded its power in allowing such tribunals and that the job security provided to administrative law judges who hear such cases infringed on the executive branch’s prerogatives.
It was the right-to-a-jury part of the decision that dominated the Supreme Court’s oral argument that lasted two hours and 15 minutes. And while a broad decision could cast doubt on the work administrative law judges do across a broad swath of the federal government, the justices critical of the SEC procedures seemed to be looking for a more narrow resolution. [...]
But there was a 1977 precedent that seemed at odds with the views of the conservatives: It affirmed the powers of a workplace safety commission to conduct administrative hearings and said the right to a jury should not be interpreted to bar such administrative proceedings or restrict all fact-finding in civil cases to a jury. The case, Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, came up more than 100 times during the argument.
Nicholas Toloudis of The Philadelphia Inquirer looks into the lessons a 70-year-old investigation of some Philadelphia public school teachers by the House Committee on Un-American Activities have for handling today’s right-wing attacks on teachers.
Seventy years ago this month, the House Committee on Un-American Activities visited Philadelphia, specifically to interrogate teachers. For three days at the courthouse on Ninth and Chestnut Streets, the committee interrogated 20 public school teachers about their politics, as television channels and radio stations broadcast the hearings across the city.
The committee’s professed goal was to learn more about the operation and intent of the Communist Party in Philadelphia. It also sought to address a long-standing fear: that Communists had infiltrated the nation’s public schools and were spreading subversive propaganda. Shortly after the hearings, the Board of Education suspended most of these teachers, almost all of whom were subsequently fired.
Targeting teachers has consequences. One of the many crises presently afflicting Philadelphia’s schools is a teacher shortage. There are many reasons for teachers leaving the profession: poor working conditions, asbestos-contaminated buildings, lack of resources, low pay, emotional burnout. On top of all these well-documented stressors, the so-called culture wars continue to percolate.
In Texas, the CROWN Act left loopholes allowing bans on hair longer than two inches, which explicitly singles out and prohibits natural Black hairstyles like afros and dreadlocks on male students. By failing to bar restrictive policies on length and color, Texas’ version of the CROWN Act falls short of fully preventing race-based hair discrimination. Such gaps at the state level undermine the spirit of the CROWN Act and must be addressed through truly comprehensive reforms that protect all facets of Black hair. This gap between legislative success and real-world implementation, as evidenced by the suspension of a Texas student months after the Act’s passage, highlights the need for comprehensive legislation to fully address hair discrimination. Moving forward, legislation must address hair length, color, texture, and style to create truly inclusive policies without loopholes that permit discrimination.
Hair policies that regulate length and color have specifically targeted Black students, leading to disproportionate discipline and loss of educational opportunities. National data reveal that while Black students represent 15% of the K–12 population, they account for 31% of all school suspensions. Black students nationwide are missing nearly three times as many school days due to suspension as white students, accounting for a disproportionate number of the total 11 million days of lost instruction. In one school district in Texas, research from the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University found that Black students are seven times more likely to be suspended compared to white students, often for discretionary, minor behavioral infractions. Repeated suspensions increase the risk of falling behind, dropping out, and having contact with the juvenile justice system. In fact, one study revealed a concerning cycle—students who were suspended from school were seven percent more likely to later have contact with the juvenile justice system. Moreover, once these students returned to their schools after suspension, they were 20% more likely than their peers to face another suspension.
The consequences of hair discrimination extend beyond the classroom. A 2021 study found that Black women with natural hairstyles are less likely to be recommended for a job interview compared to white women with curly or straightened hair. Natural hairstyles like dreadlocks were deemed less professional. This employment discrimination limits economic mobility and forces Black women to incur the financial and health burdens of damaging chemical treatments, including increased uterine cancer risk from chemical straighteners.
Oliver Whang of The New Yorker reports that West Virginia University didn’t only curtail humanities programs back in August.
This past August, W.V.U. announced plans to cut thirty-two programs and lay off a hundred and sixty-nine faculty members. Among the undergraduate majors set to be purged or restructured were music performance, environmental and community planning, art history, German, Russian, Chinese, French, and Spanish. Masters programs in acting, landscape architecture, energy environments, linguistics, and creative writing would go, too. The plans made national headlines, with much of the coverage focussing on what the changes suggested about the state of the humanities. But it wasn’t only humanities courses that were being jettisoned. Also on the way out were doctoral programs in management, higher education, occupational- and environmental-health sciences, and math. (The university was quick to note that fewer than five hundred students would lose their intended program of study.)
The administration held an appeals period, during which faculty could lobby for their programs. Ela became the most outspoken advocate for mathematics. In meetings and on social media, she explained that advanced math is essential for fields including engineering, medicine, and computer science, and also that math teachers in West Virginia often get their master’s or doctorate degrees from W.V.U. She noted that Katherine Johnson, who made critical contributions to the Apollo 11 mission (she was played by Taraji P. Henson in the movie “Hidden Figures
”), had been a math graduate student at W.V.U. She pointed out that, if the cuts were made, it would no longer be possible to get a Ph.D. in math in the state of West Virginia.
The administration was receptive to some entreaties—the plan to drop the M.F.A. in creative writing was quickly abandoned, for instance, as was the proposed elimination of majors in Spanish and Chinese. The math faculty prepared an official appeal, arguing that the graduate programs could be preserved but restructured, with an emphasis on math’s connection to other sciences. The university was unmoved. In September, the school’s board of governors voted on the final recommendations: the master’s and Ph.D. programs in math would be discontinued, and sixteen of the department’s forty-eight faculty positions would be eliminated. The undergraduate curriculum would be revised, both to emphasize applied math and also to be more “efficient.”
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert writes for Haaretz that NATO forces should occupy Gaza once the Israeli-Hamas war ends.
If the military campaign is renewed following the cease-fire and the prisoner exchange, it will continue until Hamas’ military capability is eliminated. It’s hard to estimate how long that will take, but decency demands that we stress that it will take longer than the population of the Western countries, and Western leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden, a true friend of Israel, are willing to tolerate.
Just for that reason, Israel must already now present the final scenario, for after the military operation. The question that the Israeli government is being asked by the leaders of the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany is: What next?
The Israeli government has no answer. But even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his partners are unwilling or unable to outline the necessary steps – the State of Israel, and those concerned about its stability and security – cannot evade giving such an answer.
And in my opinion, these are the proper steps to adopt at the conclusion of the military campaign: Israel has no intention, desire, or ability to remain in Gaza, and at the end of the campaign it must withdraw to the border. Meanwhile, together with the military steps, it must reach an agreement with the United States and its other friends about the entry of an international intervention force to Gaza, based on soldiers from NATO countries, which would replace the Israeli army.
of the Guardian reports that at the New York Times Dealbook Summit yesterday, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said she thinks that President Xi of China is too busy dealing with 99 problems of his own to be planning an invasion of Taiwan.
“My thought is perhaps this is not a time for them to consider a major invasion of Taiwan … largely because of the economic, financial and political challenges, but also because the international community has made it loud and clear that war is not an option and that peace and stability serves everyone’s interest,” she said.
US intelligence services reportedly believe Xi has instructed China’s People’s Liberation Army to be capable of invasion by 2027, but there is no clear timeline for when such an act might occur. Predictions have ranged from 2023 to 2047 – the latter being the centenary of the People’s Republic of China. [...]
Tsai said China was determined to interfere in Taiwan’s January presidential election, and sway it in China’s favour. She said this interference had occurred in some form in every election since 1996 when the first direct presidential elections were held after Taiwan came out of martial law.
“This includes the use of military stress and economic coercion, extensive cognitive warfare campaigns, both tradition and social media platforms, which are not unfamiliar to the people of Taiwan.”
Sophie Garbe of Der Spiegel profiles long-time member of the Budenstag Karamba Diaby.
Karamba Diaby, 61, has been a member of parliament for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) since 2013, representing the electoral district that includes Halle in the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament in Berlin. Since his initial election, there have been three attacks on his office in Halle. In the first one, in May 2015, the windows were broken. Then, in 2020, someone fired five shots at the office window, with Diaby receiving a death threat a short time later signed with "Heil Hitler." In the third attack, just over six months ago, a man set fire to the door.
Was the last attack born of hatred for the governing coalition in Berlin, led by the SPD? Or perhaps just pure hatred of the SPD? Or, was it because Diaby is Black? [...]
Friends, colleagues and relatives have frequently asked Diaby why he has stayed in Halle all this time. Despite the attacks, the insults and the fear. "I feel very comfortable in Halle," has always been his response. But it is hard not to wonder how such a thing is possible. How can you fight on behalf of a city in which some are constantly fighting against you? How is it possible to withstand hatred in a place you call home?
Finally today, all that I have to say about this news item is to repeat what Moms Mabley said about her former husband. Try to have the best possible day everyone!