Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Thoughts on Evolution and Republican Candidates

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

By all conventional standards of the time, William Jennings Bryant was a liberal.  He ran for president three times as a Democrat. He opposed the gold standard for limiting credit to farms in his famous and spell binding “Cross of Gold” speech. He was a populist who railed eloquently against oil companies and railroads. However, most people remember Bryant as the ardent and literalistic fundamentalist Christian who argued against the teaching of evolution in public schools in the famous Scopes Monkey trial.

How can we square Bryant’s liberalism with a position that many now associate with Republicans? The issue lies with the unfortunate extension of the meaning of the theory of evolution far beyond its legitimate scope. Some people perverted evolution into Social Darwinism, the notion that if some people do poorly in the economy is because they are not a socially fit as the successful. If the rich are more successful, it is consistent with the “scientific” notion of survival of the fittest. Ever the defender of the downtrodden, Bryant unfortunately conflated his Christian concern for the poor, with the necessity to dispute what he viewed as an anti-working-class ideology. At its heart, Bryant was not really making a scientific argument, but a moral one.

The problem for Bryant was he tried to unnecessarily take sides in a science vs. religion dispute. For many there really is no such conflict. Whenever there is an apparent conflict between science and the Bible, the problem is less likely to be science or the Bible, but rather Biblical interpretation or the inappropriate application of science.

It is the thesis here that for many Americans that disputes about evolution represent an unnecessary defense against people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens who who argue that science precludes serious religiosity. It is my suspicion that political figures sympathetic to Intelligent Design is less the result of thorough grappling with the scientific issues, an more a defensive reaction to what I call “evangelical atheists.”

It would be preferable to have Republican presidential candidates with more thoughtful positions on evolution. However, I prefer their faulty Biblical interpretation (from my perspective) to the Constitutional jurisprudence of Democrats who believe that the commerce clause of the Constitution that can extend to grant Congress virtually unlimited powers.

Liberal Bias in the Media: A Study

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Recently and justifiably, Jonah Goldberg of National Review suffered barely controllable exasperation at the most recent example of the liberal bias in the main stream media. The proximate cause of Goldberg’s pique was the media acquiesce and perhaps complicity in the extreme language used against Tea Party members who used their political power to block an increase in the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts. These politicians where referred to as “Hezbollah faction,’’ “terrorists,’’ and “traitors’’ by liberal politicians and political pundits. These, in some cases, are the same people are the same who argued that the rhetoric employed in criticism of Obama is too extreme.

Liberal bias is hard to continue to muster anger about. It is an unfortunate calamity of nature, like high humidity in a Washington summer. It may be unhealthy and uncomfortable, but it seems as useless to complain about liberal bias as it is to shake a fist an an approaching high pressure system.

Nonetheless, it does bring to mind a sever year-old empirical study on liberal bias. We all feel we know bias when we see it, but it is hard to separate this assessment from personal biases. Tim Groseclose, professor of political science, published a clever technique to quantify such bias in the Quarterly Journal of Economics The study used the ranking of voting records by the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action to determine which legislators are the most and least liberal. The study then correlated these rankings with the number of times these legislators cited various think tanks and policy groups in their writing and speaking. To rank the liberal or conservative bias of news organizations, they determined the extent to which the citation patterns of different news organizations mimiced those of liberal or conservative legislators.

The final ranking was represented by a scored form 0 to 100, from least to most liberal. The political scores of legislators and think tanks were consistent with common wisdom.. The Heritage Foundation ranked 20, while the Children’ s Defense Fund scored an 80. There were a couple of surprises. The American Civil Liberties Union ranked a relatively moderate 49.8 and the National Rifle Association earned a 45.9. Representative Maxine Walters from California scored a very liberal 99.6, complemented by the very conservative Tom Delay (4.7) from Texas. Pretty much in the exact center was former Senator Arelin Spector (51.3) when he was Republican.

The study showed that the most liberal news organization study was the New York Times with a score of 73.7 (23.7 from an unbiased score). Most news sources scored distinctly liberal scores above 60. Fox News Special Report with Brit Hume ranked 39.7. The Washington Times score of 35.4, was still closer from an unbiased score than the New York Times. The most centrist news organization from this measure from the Newshour with Jim Lehrer with a score of 55.8.

Studies like this are interesting, but are not dispositive to those who religiously cling to the view that the main stream media are not titled toward the left. There are probably other metrics that one could devise that would demonstrated similar results. The value of studies such as these is that it gives news organizations a chance for introspection. Perhaps the New York Times could examine if they are ignoring conservative think tanks and policy institutions. The Washington Times could see if is are too insular. It is a shame that news organizations will find in necessary to attack such studies, rather than use them as a chance for self improvement.

The Quiet Death of the War Powers Act

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

When the War Powers Act was passed in 1973, the country ached from the pain of the Vietnam War, an experience no one wanted to repeat. The conventional wisdom was the Vietnam catastrophe was caused by too much executive war-making discretion. Hence, Congress tried to limit the time the president could deploy troops without explicit Congressional authorization, constraining executive authority.

The Constitution is vague about separation of authority with respect to the use of military force. Congress is entrusted with the power to declare war, but the President is the commander and chief. The courts have been reluctant to intervene in this battle of separation of powers, leaving Congress and the President to contend in the political sphere.

Typically, Republicans incline to according more discretion to the executive, whereas Democrats tilt toward Congressional supremacy. Ironically, Republicans have observed the War Power constraints, even while arguing that the President is not required to. President George W. Bush sought and received Congressional authorization for the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The authorization provided political cover in the conflicts. If Bush had pursued those wars without Congressional approval, the country would have been even more divided than it was.

By contrast, Democratic presidents has asserted Presidential authority to act without Congressional approval, seeking instead international sanction. President Bill Clinton did not receive approval for his actions in Bosnia and Haiti. President Barack Obama has further eroded the War Powers Act, by not even making motions to comply with its limitations in the War Power in actions against Libya. International approbation rather than Congressional authorization legitimized the intervention in the eyes of the President. This is particularly surprising given that Obama opined during the 2008 campaign that:“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’’

While Vice President Joe Biden was so convinced that a President does not have the authority to act unilaterally without Congressional authority that, when a senator, he boasted that would move to impeach Bush in the event Bush ordered and attack Iran.

“I want to make clear and submit to the Untied States Senate pointing out the president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran. And I want to make it clear, I want it on the record, and I want to make it clear, if he does, as chairman of the foreign relations committee and former chair of the judiciary committee, I will move to impeach him.’’

I am sure that Biden meant that he would encourage the House to impeach since the Senate does not so.

The sorry situation is that Republicans will not bring the Libyan action to a vote for fear of looking like that they are not supporting the troops and most Democrats don’t want to impede a president of their party.

The War Powers Act has been dying almost since the moment of its passage, and perhaps is should. It has been honored more by Republicans than Democrats. However, it would have been more poetic if a Congressional-Executive conflict on war powers would have been effectively settled on something more relevant to direct US interests than Libya.

From Chickens to Rabbits

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

The radical momentum of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal perhaps crested with the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States. Large elements of the the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 were ruled unconstitutional. The Court found that the extensive regulatory structure of the act gave too much discretion the the Executive Branch violating the separation of powers. Agents of the Executive branch were making rules that should have been enacted by Congress. Further, some regulations actually exceed even Congressional federal authority with regard to the interstate commerce clause. Justice Louise Brandeis is reputed to have commented that “This is the end of this business of centralization…. we’re not going to let this government centralize everything.’’ Roosevelt was so furious he unsuccessfully attempted to stack the Supreme Court with additional Justices more inclined to rule in his favor.

What is interesting about the Schechter case that Schechter was not an large cooperation but a small, family-based Kosher wholesale poultry provider run by Jewish immigrants who did not speak English well and certainly did not understand the subtleties of the National Recovery Act. They were upset that their religious devotion was implicitly in question by the charges that they sold unhealthy chickens. This was a charge the authorities could not prove. A closer examination of the case, suggest that authorities were as much trying to make an example of a small defenseless enterprise as they were protecting public health.

There is small echo of this case in a modern situation where the USDA is fining a Missouri family $90,000 for largely a paperwork deficiency. Over the course of a couple years, the Dollarhite famly of Nixa, Missouri had raised rabbits both to sell as pets and for animal food. When they sold the rabbits to local pet stores they were designated as wholesale breeders. No one claims that rabbits were mistreated. However, they were is technical violation of the 1966 Animal Welfare Act.

When informed of this violation the Dollarhites immediately ceased activities. The enterprise was, after all, something of a hobby. Nonetheless, the Dollarhites have racked up a fine of $90K. There is also evidence that their may be some political motivation in the prosecution and that the family is being singled out to serve as an example to other wholesale breeders.

No one likes a bully and the USDA is shaking the Dollarhite familty down for more than just milk money. Fortunately, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Representative Billy Long are seeking to intervene on behalf of the Dollarhites. Americans should not have to rely on special attention is order to be treated with respect by the Federal government.

Avoid a Government Shutdown

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

The conventional wisdom is that if the Federal Government shuts down because of the inability o thef Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratically-controlled Senate to reach an agreement on the 2011 budget, that Republicans will be blamed. This conclusion is reasonably based on the experience of 1995. When the Republican Congress and the President Clinton could not reach a budget agreement, Republicans were blamed.

Few remember that there were extenuating factors then that may not be duplicated now, differences that made bode better for Republicans. First, the titular head of the Republicans, House Speaker New Gingrich, was a conspicuous and to many an unpopular target to which the media could point. In addition, there was the story that perhaps a petulant Gingrich wanted a government shutdown in part because he was disrespected by being given a bad seat on Air Force One.

The story now is a little different. Some Democrats like former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean look forward to a government shutdown calculating that it would help the Democrats. Republican House Speaker John Boehner is not the character of Gingrich and will likely not appear petulant. Moreover, the House has passed a 2011 budget. The Democratic Senate has not, so there is no alternative budget to split the difference with.

If Republicans can manage to portray the debate properly, the Senate can appear to have acted irresponsibly. Moreover, if the Democrats had passed a budget last year, when they held both houses of Congress and the Presidency, there would be no chance for a government shutdown now. Instead, Democrats avoided their responsibility. They feared passing a 2011 budget that was so unpopularly large before the elections in 2010.

Despite the different situation now, Republicans would be prudent to take the best offer they can get on the 2011 budget and settle. The differences are relatively small. On Sunday, House Budget Chairman Republican Paul Ryan will layout the Republican 2012 and the long-term Republican budget vision.

The new budget will likely call for significant reform of entitlement programs. Republicans will need all the political capital they can muster to make their case. A government shutdown would be a unnecessary diversion. If given a choice of acting responsibly to come to some agreement on entitlement reforms and scoring political points, history suggests that Democrats will choose the latter. Indeed, some are in denial that any such problem exists. In preparation for the media-assisåted demagogic assault, Republicans need to focus on the new budget.

A Real War of Choice

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Some who criticized the Iraq War maintained that it was a war of choice. Whatever the merits of that argument, there can be little doubt among those who support or don’t support the current action in Libya that it is a matter of choice. It the broadest sense all wars are wars of choice. However, the intervention of the US in Libya is a war of choice in that the sense that the US is not acting to protect the US or US interests. It is not a war of self-defense. It is war conducted for humanitarian reasons.

Unfortunately, justifications for the action are not as well articulated as they should be. Are we there to remove longtime tyrant Muammar el-Qaddafi? Is it to keep the “rebels’’ from being overrun? Is it to protect civilians? Do we protect civilians if the rebels threaten them?

Just War Theory requires that before engaging in the evil of war, there must be convincing evidence that the likely outcome of the war is less evil. Will the Libyan people be more free? Will less civilians be killed?

One can imagine circumstances where there would be a moral obligation to use military power for humanitarian purposes. However, given the blunt instrument that military action is, it is necessary to have a high degree of certitude that the the outcome will be positive.

In such circumstances clarity is necessary and the Obama Administration has not lived up to this standard. When euphemisms like “kinetic military action’’ action instead of “war’’ are invoked, moral clarity suffers. When missiles deliver large amounts of ordinance on the ground it is an act of war. When B2’s fly from Missouri and drop bombs on military targets, it is an an act of war. Perhaps the acts are justified, but they are acts of war, nonetheless.

When the Bush Administration took the country to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it went to Congress, explained its purposes and was granted authorization to use force, a de facto declaration of war. The advantage of going to Congress is the discipline that it imposes. It forces an Administration to place its reasons on the record in a clear and consistent way. Moreover, if we are going to commit US service personnel, a commitment that may cost their lives, they should enjoy the full support of the country. One step in solidifying this support is obtaining Congressional authorization. If the Obama Administration had sufficient time to make their case for action in Libya to the United Nations, there was time to consult Congress.

It would be easy to score political points, by pointing out that then Senator Obama said that his interpretation of the Constitution required Congressional authorization to use force unless US citizens or interests where under immediate or imminent threat: a case no one is arguing for Libya We could indulge in guilty political amusement by playing back the video of an sanctimonious Senator (now Vice-President) Joseph Biden bravely declaring that he would support impeachment of President Bush if Bush used military action against Iran without Congressional authorization. More important, however, is whether a Congressional authorization would have made the action in Libya more likely to succeed. We submit here that the clarity of intention required to obtain such authorization would have benefited the Obama Administration and made success more likely.

If actions drag on in Libya, the US and the US Administration will suffer politically and Libyans may physically suffer. The US military may find country-building difficult, but it is has proven adept at deposing of governments and destroying other military structures. We may be fortunate if Qaddafi is deposed and there is not too much disorder after his fall. Victory heals wounds. In victory, Americans will forget exactly how the action began. However welcome such an outcome would be, it will not affect the validity of the case that Congressional authorization should have been sought.

Growth May Not Be Enough

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

This year the budget deficit will be $1.6 trillion. Total spending will be $3.8 trillion. For every dollar we spend as a country we will have to borrow 42 cents. This level of debit accumulation does no seem prudent or sustainable.

A budget deficit is the consequence of the difference between the amount of spending and the revenues generated. A plot of revenues and spending over time, shown below may be revealing. The red curve represents spending, and the blue curve represents revenues. Since 1980, the spending has been generally higher than revenues. Fortunately, at the end of the 1990’s there was a surplus. During the period of the surplus, spending increases moderated, but not much. The increase in revenues caused by increased growth bringing in increasing revenue largely accounte fro the surplus.

The recession in the early 2000s reduced revenues, and spending did not abate, so we had widening budge gap. However economic growth kicked in an we approached a balanced budget. For all intents and purposes we were in near balance. It is hard to believe that the budget deficit was only $160 billion in 2007, less than the budget deficit accumulated this month alone.

A combination of high gas prices and an over-leveraged mortgage market caused a large decrease in GDP with a loss of revenue. The government decided to increase spending to stimulate economic growth, but growth has been anemic, with only very modest increase in federal revenues. Spending rolls on and the deficit balloons.

If we had revenues equivalent to what we had in 2007, this years deficit would be $1.2 trillion. If we maintain the same revenues as 2007, and same rate of increase in spending from the previous few years, the current budget deficit would be $500 billion, very large, but a third of the current deficit. Therefore, spending increases more than revenues shortfalls have been the primary cause of the current deficit.

It is clear from the graph, that spending has risen too quickly and revenues have not. It would seem that the wisest course at this point to reduce the rate of spending increase. However, even if we had no increase in spending for the next few years, we would require very high levels of economic growth to narrow deficit to more historic levels.

We have a $14 trillion GDP and the federal government brings in revenues equivalent to 20% of GDP per year. We gain an increase in revenues of about $30 billion per year for every 1% increase in GDP growth. If we can grow by 4% a year over 10 years that would represent a $1.4 billion revenue increase. Remember, the long-term growth rate of the US has been about 3.5% and it may be hard to achieve such a rate as more people move to retirement.

In other words, a very high ten year growth rate of 4% per year would balance the budget only if we froze spending at current levels for a decade. However, given that Social Security and Medicare costs will inexorably grow just because of the entrance of new retirees into those systems, and the increase debt payment will have to be paid, all other government programs from the military, to education aid, to food stamps would have to undergo dramatic decreases to maintain a freeze.

No one expects government spending to be constant over ten years, given only modest increases we will still need extraordinary rates of growth to bring total debt levels to even a more reasonable fraction of GDP. It used to be we could endure deficits, because growth would rescue us from ourselves. We are rapidly approaching spending levels , where no reasonable rates of growth can bends the two lines in the curve back together.

A Little Education Math

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

With the on-going controversy in Wisconsin about teacher compensation and collective bargaining issues, the sides seemed to have hardened. One side sports the green eye shades claiming there is no more money and teacher compensation needs to be limited. The opposite side claims compassion for teachers and concern for the students. We submit here that the entire structure of public education with a state monopoly teamed with public service unions is inefficient and results in lower compensation for teachers than would otherwise be the case.

I live in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC with a median household income of nearly $72,000, substantially higher than the $52,000 median household income of the entire US. By any reasonable definition, the county can be considered affluent. Perhaps, it is not as affluent as other counties in the Washington, DC area, but it is certainly affluent by national standards.

With the weak economy, the county like others is struggling to maintain spending. Part of the problem is decreased local revenues and part of it is reduced revenues from the similarly pinched state of Maryland. However, a closer look a the numbers is revealing.

The restricted school system budget of Prince Georges County this year is $1.6 billion dollars, which represents a $155 million shortfall. The school system has an enrollment of about 128,000 students for a per student expenditure of about $12,500. In the county, the average class size (although there is variation at different grade levels) is 27 students. Hence, each class room represents an expenditure of $350,000. An average teacher earns about $55,000. Let us make the extremely generous assumption, that total compensation including medical care and retirement is about $100,000 per teacher. It still means that a classroom costs at least three and half times the cost of the primary education provider, the teacher.

These numbers are very approximate. There are legitimate costs outside the classroom including school buses and bus drivers, school nurses, and counselors. In addition, some students have special needs that require greater-than-average spending. Nonetheless, it seems that a disproportionate amount of spending is not going directly into the class room.

If we offered as a choice a voucher to parents, even a smaller amount per student of $10,000 to spend at any school, public or private, my guess is that parents would find options for which teacher compensation would be greater both relative to total expenditure and in absolute terms. This system would offer better education at a ower cost and probably with higher teacher compensation.

Random Thoughts

Sunday, February 20th, 2011


If you happened by a newsstand on Tuesday morning February 15, you might have sighted the headline of the Washington Post “Obama Budget Makes Deep Cuts, Cautious trades.’’ The irony is the the first sentence of the article by Lori Montgomery was at war with the headline . She more cautiously explained that, “President Obama submitted a budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 on Monday full of surgical cuts and cautious trade-offs…” Which is it? Were the cuts “deep” or “surgical?”

The conflict between the headline and the article must have been noticed, because the later online editions substituted the headline: “Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012 focuses on education, energy, research”

Perhaps showing a healthy separation between the news and an editorial pages, the editors of the Post did not find the budget cuts either deep or surgical. They concluded that on the subject of the budget, “the President punted… Having been given the chance, the cover and the push by the fiscal commission he created to take bold steps to raise revenue and curb entitlement spending, President Obama, in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, chose instead to duck.”

Those Signs Again

Any group of people with the energy to take time out of their normal activities to engage in protest are, by definition, the most passionate. Among these, one can find the deliberate and wise as well as angry and bitter, and even mean spirited.

During the protests this week in Wisconsin against proposals by Republican Governor Scott Walker along with the Republican state house to have some public employees contribute to their health and retirement plans, some protesters ported particularly very nasty signs. These included ones that equated Scott with Hitler and another with cross hairs centered on a picture of the governor.

It would be unfair to extrapolate from those signs that the entire group of protesters were mean spirited, rather than robustly making their feeling known. However, if those protesters were sympathetic to Tea Party, we would be directed by the Left to make exactly.those extrapolations.

Religious Oppression

Officals of the University of California-Davis recently defined religious discrimination as:

“The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.’’

This proclamation is wrong on so many levels. First, although discrimination is easier for dominant group to implement, it certainly does not preclude minority groups from exercising discrimination. Second, the fact the the university could issue such a definition indicates that the dominant view on that campus is secular humanism. If, for the sake of argument, we adopt the university’s point of view, the we could re-write the university’s definition as:

“The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. At the university, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are religious.’’

Fortunately, the university recognized the error after Christians on campus complained and pulled the definition. I suppose we should congratulate the university, but one wonders about an institutional culture that could produce such a definition in the first place.

The Times Narrative

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Over time humans build up internal narratives that help explain the world and keep things in order. When observed events are consistent with these notions, our narratives are confirmed. Other events are dismissed or ignored. This is even a problem with supposedly objective scientists. Experimental results consistent with our previous notions are accepted with little thought, while results that are inconsistent with currently held theories are given additional scrutiny. This scrutiny is in direct proportion to the difference between new results and what was expected.

This resiliency of ideas and world view serves us well. Without it our lives would be all sail and no rudder. However, to this intellectual underpinning we need to bring an openness to new evidence. This is especially true in journalism. Journalists are not only constantly called upon to provide the facts about a story, but to decide what stories are important, and perhaps speak to larger truths. A news organization might always print facts, but a slanted selection of stories provides a distorted view of the world.

On the pages here, we have noted how columnist Paul Krugman leaped blindly to the conclusion that the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was caused by harsh political criticisms of Conservatives. It turns out that the shooter was delusional and of confused political opinions at best. Krugman has a world view and the shooting of Giffords so resonated with his notions, that he felt he could fill in the relevant information without bothering to wait for the details to emerge. The facts that surfaced were inconsistent with Krugman’s world view.

One can partially excuse the rash writing of a columnist. After all, they are paid to be opinionated. Why, as scientists would say, let data get in the way of good theory.

However according to William McGowan, in Gray Lady Down: The Decline and Fall of the New York Times, the Times has succumbed to the temptation to let internal narratives shape the news. McGowan is not a reflexive Times hater, gleefully jumping on the paper as its circulation plummets. The Times has been liberal for decades, but for many years this liberalism did not taint its news coverage.

Former executive editor Abe Rosenthal recognized that New York is Liberal and so are many who write for the Times. To keep the news straight he sometimes had to tack a little Right. The result was balance in the news side of the paper.

Indeed, even while the editorial page was distinctly Left and while the infamous Vice-President Spiro Agnew was railing against the press, and the Times was endorsing Senator George McGovern for President, the National Review, the quintessentially Conservative magazine, found the Times news coverage fair. They conducted an audit of stories that had a “distinct left-right line,” and concluded that:

“The Times news administration was so even handed that it must have been dismaying to the Liberal opposition… Were the news standards of the Times more broadly emulated, the nation would be far better informed and more honorably served.’’

Rosenthal was given broad authority to run the Times by publisher Arthur Sulzberger until Sulzberger’s passed on publishing responsibilities to his son Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. The younger Sulzberger is a sixties-era Liberal who has overseen the journalistic and economic decline of of the Times. He has systematically changed the Times from the national newspaper of record, to the party organ of the Left wing of the Democratic Party.

In Gray Lady Down, McGowan documents this decline, beginning with the excessive political correctness in news room hiring and followed by the collapse of journalistic standards. Sulzberger has been embarrassed by stories revealed as fraudulent, but he seems oblivious to the relationship between the reduction journalistic standards, in general, to the all too frequent sensational journalist failures.

Perhaps the clearest example of systematic and persistent narratives driving the Times to embarrassing behavior was the case of the Duke Lacrosse Team. A young black woman accused some members of the Duke Lacrosse Team of rape. It did not take too long before the woman’s story began to fall apart, but the story resonated so well with the Times’ internal narrative that it could not cover the story straight. As McGowan explained, in their coverage, “the Times’ script reflected a pattern of white supremacy deeply embedded in American culture…’’

Responsible press coverage would not have jumped to a single point of view and would have calmed the waters with careful fact-based dispassionate posts. Instead, it inflamed the situation both in news coverage and editorial comment. Ultimately, without help from the Times, the accused individuals were declared innocent and the prosecutor was sent to jail for of prosecutorial misconduct. A vigilant Times would have led the country toward the truth. Instead, their coverage dragged its feet, unwilling to give up its preferred narrative of Southern white racism by the privileged.

The Times will probably not collapse financially despite its current precarious position. It has too much momentum and respect garnered in earlier decades. In addition, there are probably too many liberals in New York whose internal narratives resonate with that of the Times for circulation to collapse entirely. However, until there is a new publisher and a return to journalistic standards of the Times under Rosenthal, the paper’s influence will wane into loud and embarrassing irrelevance.