How We Really Die – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“A friend of mine once said the way to stop smoking is to close your eyes, think about the person you dislike the most,” Bloomberg, 75, told me. “Now, do you want to be at their funeral or you want them to be at yours?”

Great op-ed.
Here is a good comment:
6 hours ago

We regularly give our children a substance we would never feed our animals; because it would be too detrimental to their health. A substance so addictive that in MRIs, it lights up the brain like cocaine; which makes it the ultimate gateway drug. A substance that causes chronic inflammation; which is the cause of modern scourges like cancer, metabolic syndrome, auto-immune diseases, and depression.
Our government subsidizes the production of this product which makes it so inexpensive it is added to 80% of our processed foods. 30% of us eat less than maximum recommended amount. But, the other 70% manage to bring our per capita consumption to an amount over double the recommended limit. Our consumption of this product mirrors obesity rates.
If we stopping subsidizing and over consuming this product, we would save millions of lives and billions of dollars.
The product, also known as high fructose corn syrup, is sugar.

Reply 175 Recommended

Jared Kushner’s Role Is Tested as Russia Case Grows – The New York Times

This is the article cited by David Brooks.
Because of the passage below, I remove my support for Keeping Kushner on the team, inspite of illegal communications with Russian agents.

“Mr. Kushner appears to be modifying his centrist stances. Instead of urging the president to keep the United States in the Paris climate accord, as he sought to months ago, he has come to believe the standards in the agreement need to be changed, a person close to him said.”

If he can’t stay loyal to the planet, let him go to jail.

The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner – by David Brooks – NYT

“We don’t know everything about his meetings with the Russians, but we know that they, like so much other clan-like behavior, went against the formal system. We also know that they betray rookie naïveté on several levels — apparently trusting the Russians not to betray him, apparently not understanding that these conversations would be surveyed by the American intelligence services, possibly not understanding how alarming they would look to outsiders.

We seem to now be entering the paranoia phase of the Trump presidency, as insiders perceive that everybody else is out to get them. As The Times’s Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere detailed in some amazing reporting, Kushner’s role in this White House may be in peril. This turmoil, for both Trump and Kushner, was inevitable”

Bravo David Brooks. You make me smarter, and more informed with depth.

Here is the first comment I read, and marvel at. This poetry is based on a very famous ballad, the Flying Cloud, starting, Oh my name is Edward Hollander. It was rewritten by Steve Goodman, as the Ballad of Penny Evans.

Larry Eisenberg is a trusted commenter Medford, Ma. 5 hours ago

with apologies to G and S

My name is Jared Kushner on intrigue I am intent
I Journey everywhere I always go where I am sent
The right hand man of Donald, a deal maker supreme
And I am his adviser on every squalid scheme
I deal with Russian diplomats as a matter of course
Just as I deal “with Frenchies who are active on the Bourse
Critics say I use back door channels just to make a buck,
they think the reason for my wealth is not savvy & pluck
And I can’t think why!

I am an active slumlord and evictions are my meat
To squeeze more cash from tenants I will not suffer defeat,
Repairs are never timely, each flat looks like a dump
I have the warm approval of my father-in-law, Trump.
I deal a lot with Russian Banks and lavish loans we’ve had.
They get good int’rest in return, it doesn’t make them sad,
And now I am the subject of an FBI witch hunt,
Publicity’s the reason, it’s a vile uncalled for stunt
And I can’t think why!

And I’m his wife Ivanka, I’m the daughter of the Don,
I live a Life in clover, unlike Butler’s Erewhon,
I have a line of products products which the Public doesn’t buy
And Daddy tweets malevolence with stores short on supply
I seem to run his businesses,in fact I never do
The Trust he built is phony he makes all decisions, too,
I act as an adviser yet my knowledge is so scant
I’d like to advance womankind but Daddy says I can’t
And I don’t know why!

Reply 751 Recommended

When Politicians Pick Their Voters – The New York Times

“The bottom line is that politicians can’t be trusted to draw maps that fairly represent their constituents, and they won’t willingly give up the power once they have it. So it’s up to the courts to step in and set clear rules.”

Solid logic, solid editorial.

Here is a comment I support:

William O. Beeman

Minneapolis, Minnesota 22 minutes ago

The point of congressional districting should be to provide representation for unified communities of common interests. Several Congressional districts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania couldn’t possibly do this. They are utterly bizarre. Several snake across the state putting voters in disparate areas together in a manner that does not represent their unified interests. The sole purpose of these districts is to increase Republican representation in Congress. This turns the whole idea of representative democracy on its head. Of course, minority populations are the most disadvantaged victims of this action.

But then again, Republicans have been upending democracy for the past seven years in a blatant and unapologetic manner. Once in power, of course, they protect their ill-gotten prerogative fiercely. The courts are the only way to curb this tendency.

The Demented Detectives on Seth Rich’s Case – The New York Times

“Seth Rich died on the night of July 10, 2016. The conspiracy theories were born days later. The process by which these baseless theories about his death snaked from Reddit to Twitter to Fox News illustrates just how thin the membrane has become between the conspiracy world and the mainstream.

Police say that Mr. Rich, a 27-year-old on the staff of the Democratic National Committee, most likely died in a botched robbery. But by July 13, alternate explanations emerged: A site called claimed he was on his way to the F.B.I. to testify against Hillary Clinton.”

This story is depressing. I played tennis today with a friend who voted for Trump. How do you feel now, I asked him. Trump has just made an ass out of himself in Europe, and isulted our NATO allies. He said, well, at least he is better than Hillary Clinton.

We All Have Pre-existing Conditions – by Elisabeth Rosenthal – NYT

“The Republican health care plan recently passed by the House would hollow out one of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act: a prohibition on charging higher prices to people with pre-existing medical conditions. States, under the plan, could waive that rule, provided they offer publicly funded alternatives for coverage.

The Republican plan raises questions, including about cost: Many experts believe the more than $100 billion earmarked for alternative programs, such as “high-risk pools,” would be inadequate. According to the Congressional Budget Office, many patients with pre-existing conditions would be priced out of the market.

But the Republican proposal also raises a more basic issue: Who will decide what constitutes a pre-existing condition?”

DL: It took me years of study to figure out that the only good solution has been discovered and applied almost everywhere in the developed world but the US, it is called a single payer system. Medicare is an example of a single payer system.

Here is a comment I heartily endorse:

Christine McM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 6 hours ago

“Turning away people with just a hint of illness is a reasonable business strategy. But as so often occurs in the profit-oriented health system, what is best for business is not necessarily good for patients.”

Excellent article because it nails, above, the essential paradox of America’s totally insane healthcare system. As long as medical price inflation isn’t tamed and insurers run for-profit businesses, the American patient suffers.

No other country in the world treats healthcare as a luxury, a profit center for insurance companies. Modern countries abroad employ government-run single payer systems with universal coverage and price controls.

Are there at times waits for nonessential services? Of courses there are. But these countries realize that the price of universal coverage without a greedy for-profit insurance industry acting as gatekeepers over life and death is worth it, to protect all citizens.

When I worked in drug marketing, it was widely known that the US healthcare market made up for price controls in Europe and elsewhere. In other words, our sky-high drug prices subsidize the more rational approach taken by Canada and Europe, where new products must be first proven effective and then, priced rationality, not for grotesque profits.

Our healthcare system is a mess because it favors the insurance industry, priced exorbitantly and viewed by politicians as a privilege not a right.

And this is morally wrong.

160 Recommended

Trump’s Energy- Low and Dirty – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Donald Trump has two false beliefs about energy, one personal, one political. And the latter may send the world on a path to disaster.On the personal side, Trump reportedly disdains exercise of any kind except golf. He believes that raising a sweat depletes the finite reserves of precious bodily fluids, I mean energy, that a person is born with, and should therefore be avoided.

Many years of acting on this belief may or may not explain the weird and embarrassing scene at the G-7 summit in Taormina, in which six of the advanced world’s leaders strolled together a few hundred yards through the historic city, but Trump followed behind, driven in an electric golf cart.More consequential, however, is Trump’s false belief that lifting environmental restrictions — ending the supposed “war on coal” — will bring back the days when the coal-mining industry employed hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Americans.”

Great op ed. Here are two comments I endorse:

Larry Eisenberg is a trusted commenter Medford, Ma. 7 hours ago

A minority brought in the Clown
A dodo who’ll bring us all down
And equally dense
In the wings there waits Pence
A Governor of ill renown.

T’wixt Scylla/Charybdis we stand
With no Repub raising a hand,
Is this how t’will end
As down we descend
On a course that the dimwits demand?

Reply 853Recommended

NYT Pick
Anne-Marie Hislop is a trusted commenter Chicago 3 hours ago

During the campaign, Hillary Clinton made a beautiful statement about coal miners, the need to train them for the world of the future. In that statement she also talked eloquently and with gratitude about the contributions and sacrifices they and their ancestors had made for the rest of us so that we could have light and heat.

Sadly, the GOP cut her remarks down to the preface in which she said that we would be putting a lot of coal miners out of jobs. They then endless played ads suggesting that she was diabolically anticipating with joy putting folks like them out of work. The ad was damaging. Hillary actually cared and was on the right track speaking with appreciation of the need to be committed to those folks and of the need for retraining and support in the new economic reality. Instead they voted for a charlatan who promises a return to the past, but quietly takes away even the supports they currently depend upon.

Reply 699Recommended

A Road Trip Through Rusting and Rising America – by Tom Friedman – NYT

“Trump is half right in his diagnosis, but his prescription is 100 percent wrong. We do have an epidemic of failing communities. But we also have a bounty of thriving ones — not because of a strongman in Washington but because of strong leaders at the local level.”

Mitch Landrieu Reminds Us That Eloquence Still Exists – by Frank Bruni – NYT

Mitch Landrieu has made an important speech. I recommend that you read the speech before reading further into Bruni’s lovely accolades, as I did.

I loved the speech, and what Bruni wrote, and many of the comments, such as:

Roger Paine

Boulder, CO 11 hours ago

Here’s a true story about Robert E. Lee: Not long after the Civil War ended, he went to church in Richmond, Virginia. On that morning, a black man made his way to the communion rail where he knelt to take communion. The congregation was shocked – in that time and place, this simply was not done. No one moved. An uncomfortable silence settled over everyone in the sanctuary, and no one came forward to join the black man. The priest, standing at the communion rail, was unable to decide how to proceed.

And then Robert E. Lee rose to his feet, came forward, and knelt right beside the black man — to participate with him in the key sacrament of his faith. Slowly, other members of the congregation began to make their way toward the communion rail to kneel together with a former slave and their former military commander.

On that long-ago Sunday morning, there were two openings. One made possible by the black man, who had the courage to go to the communion rail. And one made possible by a white man, who had the courage to join him there.

I’m glad all those statues of Confederate soldiers, including Lee, are coming down. It’s way past time to move on. It’s also good to remember that we are all more complicated than a broad brush allows us to see.