“Grad students win right to unionize…”

Hurrah. I think anybody who wants to unionize should be able to. Who could object? The least powerful among us gain weight and voices by unionizing. Let’s everybody unionize.

A ruling by the National Labor Relations Board involving students at Columbia opens the door for teaching assistants at private universities to organize.

Source: Grad Students Win Right to Unionize in an Ivy League Case – The New York Times

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How some books become best sellers: surprise!

A few years ago a friend wrote a book. She began referring to it as “a New York Times best seller.”

Her book was not on the New York Times best seller lists which, each weekend, give you the top 20 books.

So what was she talking about? Apparently, publishers proclaim a book a “New York Times best seller” when it gets to 35 or thereabouts, even though the books ranking from 21 to 35 are not published in the Sunday book review. (And even if a book makes 35 only once. Forever after, it’s called a “New York Times best seller.”)

I did not begrudge her the claim. But I did start wondering why a whole bunch of right wing conspiracy books, listed as non-fiction, were in the top 10s. Crowding the top 10s, in fact.

Did right wing nuts write more books than left wingers? Did right wing readers buy more books than my own cohort in the left-liberal northeast?

I was dubious.

Then I learned why all these right-wing conspiracy things were up there on the best seller lists.

Today Publisher’s Marketplace had this news–about Donald Trump, as it happens–which amplifies what I learned about the whole right-wing best seller book thingee: these authors and their publishers buy a bulk of their own books from retail booksellers like Barnes & Noble to insure the books’ placement on the New York Times list. That is, they buy their way onto the lists.

This is part of the Times explanation of its methodology in compiling their list:

Sales are defined as completed transactions by individuals during the period on or after the official publication date of a title. Institutional, special interest, group or bulk purchases, if and when they are included, are at the discretion of The New York Times Best-Seller List desk editors based on standards for inclusion that encompass proprietary vetting and audit protocols, corroborative reporting and other statistical determinations. When included, such bulk purchases appear with a dagger (†).

So wouldn’t you think certain publishers wouldn’t exactly “bulk buy” at one store but would buy, say, 20 books from each of a large group of retailers to evade the Times’ scrutiny?

That’s what I suspect they do to get their authors on the best seller lists.

Anyhow, what did Donald Trump do? For one thing, he didn’t have his publisher bulk buy; his so-called campaign did it all by itself. Which means that, for one thing, “Crippled America” (his book) probably isn’t going to get on the best seller list without at least one dagger.

And his own bulk book purchase probably violated federal law.

How screwed up can these people be?

A May 10 filing with the Federal Election Commission disclosed that the Donald Trump campaign bought more than 3500 copies of Trump’s 2015 book Crippled America at Barnes & Noble, spending $55,005. The Daily Beast quoted an unnamed Trump spokesperson saying the expense was “as part of gifting at the convention, which we have to do” but since buying retail copies at Barnes & Noble, rather than through the publisher, would result in royalties, it is likely to run afoul of campaign finance laws. “It may be the case for a candidate to instead donate those royalties to charity—that might be a permissible arrangement,” Campaign Legal Center spokesperson Paul Ryan told the Daily Beast. “But the bottom line is, no money of this $55,000 from the book can end up in Donald Trump’s pocket without violating federal law.”

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It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

Today’s New York Times Sunday Review section has a strong essay by a guy named Daniel K. Williams, a history professor at a university in Georgia, who describes why the evangelical white population, a/k/a “values voters,” are supporting Donald Trump.

Which reminds me that every four years during a presidential race a bunch of us are thinking, “OMG, the Supreme Court! The Supreme Court!” You know, like, “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!”

Except more serious.

Lots of ways to evaluate presidential candidates but as we’ve seen over the past couple of heart-sinking decades, there really is only one. The Supreme Court.

Professor Williams points out Roe v. Wade as the center of right-wing hysteria about the Court. As a pro choice woman–there should not be any no-choice women–I naturally lean in the direction of Roe.

But still, living and screaming through the past couple of SCOTUS decades, I see so much more than Roe hanging by its fingernails or buried entirely by the Scalia court. Campaign financing. The Voting Rights Act. Civil rights. Gun control. Class action lawsuits. Regulation of massively rich and powerful industries for the common good. Separation of church and state, especially “religious” companies inflicting their faith on employees.

In general, it’s the concept of government as our ethical consensus, our bulwark against entities whose entire amoral dynamic is profit-making.

I’m sure I’ve left out a bunch of bad things the Scalia court has done and a whole bunch of great things a new nine can do to support an individual’s right to equality, justice and freedom to do whatever he likes, so long as he does not impinge upon anyone else’s freedom to do whatever she likes.

But Roe is a good start to remind you to think about the Supreme Court when you vote. Because that’s what evangelicals are thinking about. As Professor Williams writes:

[Evangelical leaders] no longer view control of the Supreme Court only as a way to overturn Roe v. Wade; they now see it as essential to preserving their own freedom to act on their religious convictions.

My bolding to emphasize that the Christian right wing wants its “own freedom” to take away our own freedom via their own kind of Supreme Court.

Here’s Professor Williams’ essay:

How the Christian right came to support the most openly profane Republican presidential nominee in a generation.

Source: Why Values Voters Value Donald Trump – The New York Times

Posted in American war on women, J. Judge and courtroom, Q. Appeals, The god problem | Tagged , , | Leave a comment