Opinion | Trump Can’t Unite Us. Can Anyone? – By Frank Bruni and Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By Frank Bruni and Ross Douthat
Mr. Bruni and Mr. Douthat are opinion columnists. They converse every other week.

Oct. 30, 2018 382 comments

Frank Bruni: Ross, I would typically begin with some idle pleasantry — “Hey, it’s good to talk with you” — but this doesn’t seem to me a moment for idle pleasantries, and “good” just doesn’t cut it. Not after the massacre of 11 Jewish Americans in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. Not after the pipe bombs of last week. Not amid ugly talk and ugly tweets. I’m hugely worried about this country, and I do not believe that President Trump has it in him to unite us and heal our wounds. Please, please, please tell me I’m wrong.

Ross Douthat: Of course you’re not wrong, Frank. In his presidency Donald Trump has shown no interest in actually presiding over the country, as opposed to just trying to mobilize his own coalition against the liberal Other. For him to respond to a pair of far-right terrorist attacks with defensiveness and partisanship is simply who he is — a self-justifying polarizer who finds the other aspects of the job tedious and prefers, even amid trauma, to just hurl rhetorical grenades from his Twitter feed.

Frank: Is that it, then? We give up on hoping for anything better from him and … do what? It’s a serious question. The presidency has enormous moral force, quaint as that notion sounds right now, and if the president has no moral compass, what can we do so that we don’t unravel further as we wait him out?

Ross: Well, if you’re a Democrat, you try to beat his party at the polls. I’ve said before in these conversations that I think Trump has some modicum of self-control, but it’s mostly linked to self-interest. If you want him to abjure a polarizing response to tragedy, you need to show that it’s a bad political strategy. Which I think it is; I think politically the horror in Pittsburgh and the mail bombs are a gift to Democrats, because they highlight one of the most specific ways that Trump is ill-suited to his office.”

Well don gentlemen. Here is a comment I enjoyed:
Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ4h ago
Trump is a neo-Jefferson Davis, governing for the Confederate States of America and not a single Union citizen opposed to his 1861 platform of Making America White Again.

He and his Republican nihilists just blew up the national deficit for the sole purpose of painting the toenails of the rich a finer hue of gold…..healthcare, infrastructure, education, voting rights, women’s rights, worker rights, environment and decent public be damned.

The heart and soul of Trump-Republicanism is stealing from the poor to give to the rich in the name of white supremacy, fear, loathing and selfishness.

Red Republican welfare state regressives are completely subsidized by industrious, educated Democratic blue states.

Making 1861 Great Again is a suicidal Southern strategy.

Vote for modernity, healthcare, infrastructure, the environment, campaign finance corruption reform, voting rights, free and fair elections, decent regulation and an emergency brake on the Grand Old Psychopaths who are happy to flush all 241 years of American ideals down a Trump Toilet for a few extra dollars.

November 6 2018

VOTE

4 Replies200 Recommended

Opinion | Hate Is on the Ballot Next Week – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“In America 2018, whataboutism is the last refuge of scoundrels, and bothsidesism is the last refuge of cowards.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a wave of hate crimes. Just in the past few days, bombs were mailed to a number of prominent Democrats, plus CNN. Then, a gunman massacred 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Meanwhile, another gunman killed two African-Americans at a Louisville supermarket, after first trying unsuccessfully to break into a black church — if he had gotten there an hour earlier, we would probably have had another mass murder.

All of these hate crimes seem clearly linked to the climate of paranoia and racism deliberately fostered by Donald Trump and his allies in Congress and the media.

Killing black people is an old American tradition, but it is experiencing a revival in the Trump era.

When the bombs were discovered, many on the right immediately claimed that they were fake news or a false flag operation by liberals. But the F.B.I. quickly tracked down the apparent source of the explosive devices: A fanatical Trump supporter, whom many are already calling the MAGABomber. His targets were people and a news organization Trump has attacked in many speeches. (Since the bombings, Trump has continued to attack the news media as the “enemy of the people.”)”

Five Midterm Votes That Could Have an Outsize Impact on Climate Change – by Coral Davenport – NYT

By Coral Davenport
Oct. 29, 2018

“WASHINGTON — This is the era of deregulation in the nation’s capital: President Trump is rolling back Obama-era climate change regulations that would have cut planet-warming pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes, and he has vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, the 2015 accord under which nearly every nation pledged to limit greenhouse gas pollution.

At the state level, though, advocates and lawmakers around the country are fighting back.

In some states, questions of climate change policy are on the ballot. While advocates generally agree that national programs, rather than state and local efforts, will be required to tackle global warming, there are a handful of policies on five midterm ballots that could have an outsize impact on the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution, and the direction of national policy.

Washington: A first-in-the-nation carbon tax”

Opinion | It’s Time To Talk About the N.R.A. – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, allegedly by a man with 21 guns registered to his name, was terrifyingly predictable. Every day in America, about 104 people die from guns, while in Japan it takes about a decade for that many to die from gun violence.

Equally predictable was the response. President Trump and members of Congress denounced the violence but show no signs of actually doing anything to stop it: So Americans will continue to die from guns at a rate of one every 15 minutes.

Why do we Americans kill each other, and ourselves, with guns at such rates? One answer as it relates to the Pittsburgh attack is a toxic brew of hate and bigotry, but the ubiquity of guns leverages hatred into murder. And let’s be blunt: One reason for our country’s paralysis on meaningful action on guns is the National Rifle Association. If we want to learn the lessons of this latest rampage, and try to prevent another one, then let’s understand that saving lives is not just about universal background checks and red flag laws, but also about defanging the N.R.A.”

Opinion | ‘Riling Up the Crazies’ – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“WASHINGTON — As long as I’ve covered politics, Republicans have been trying to scare me.

Sometimes, it has been about gays and transgender people and uppity women looming, but usually it has been about people with darker skin looming.

They’re coming, always coming, to take things and change things and hurt people.

A Democratic president coined the expression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But it was Republicans who flipped the sentiment and turned it into a powerful and remorseless campaign ethos: Make voters fear fear itself.

President Trump was relieved when the F.B.I. arrested a bomb suspect — a racist, homophobic, roid-raging, strip-club-loving, MAGA-worshiping Florida man who was living in a van that looked like a decoupage of Fox News propaganda.

The real fear that Cesar Sayoc Jr. is accused of spreading was distracting from the fake fear Trump was spreading to spur Republicans to the polls. And the president didn’t like it. Before Sayoc was caught, Trump implied that the terrorism was a Democratic setup to deflect from his midterms roadshow. Pipe bombs getting in the way of pipe dreams.”

David Lindsay:  Three stars for Maureen Dowd, for hitting one out of the ballpark. She has come along way, since she bragged about smoozing with Trump, and cattily cut up Hillary Clinton.

How Broad- and How Happy- Is the Trump Coalition? – By Nate Cohn and Alicia Parlapiano – NYT

“There’s a popular portrait of a “Trump voter.” He’s a white man without a college degree, and so loyal that he would stick by Mr. Trump no matter what.

There’s a reason the stereotype exists: Mr. Trump’s strength among white working-class voters, particularly men, put him over the top in the decisive battleground states in 2016. And his approval ratings have been extremely steady, despite a year of controversial tweets and policy decisions. But it’s not the whole story.

Compare your perceptions with reality by answering two questions about the Trump coalition and how it has changed since the 2016 election:

What percent of Trump’s voters were white and did not have a college degree?”

Opinion | I’m a Child of Immigrants. And I Have a Plan to Fix Immigration. – By Sonia Nazario – NYT

Quote

By Sonia Nazario
Ms. Nazario writes about immigration and asylum.      Oct. 26, 2018


Honduran migrants in the caravan heading to the United States, passing through Chiapas, Mexico, on Oct. 21.CreditCreditPedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
An immigration lawyer once told me bluntly: Immigration is a wedge issue.

Wedge issues don’t get resolved. They get used by both sides to mobilize their base. Exhibit A: President Trump’s seizing on the caravan of migrants two weeks before the midterm elections. On Thursday news leaked that the president is considering announcing a plan to shut down the southern border entirely for nearly all asylum seekers.

I have covered immigration for three decades. I am the child of immigrants, the only one in my family born in this country. I have twice made the same journey those in the caravan are making, traveling the length of Mexico with Central American migrants. These people deserve our compassion. But I lived in Argentina during the military dictatorship, and I also believe that nations must preserve the rule of law.

For anyone who actually wants to work to resolve the immigration issue — not just use it to bludgeon the other side — I have a plan. Neither Democrats nor Republicans will love all of it. But it is relatively humane and fair, it would keep more migrants at home, where most would rather live and, unlike President Trump’s proposal, it would actually adhere to the rule of law.

. . . . .    The good news is we already know how to reduce violence and corruption, and strengthen good government. In Honduras, the United States has been running pilot violence prevention programs since 2014. In neighborhoods like Rivera Hernández in San Pedro Sula we have funded outreach centers where children can find mentors and help getting jobs, cutting off the gang’s lifeblood: new recruits. We put children most at risk of joining gangs in family counseling. And most important, we went after killers.

In 96 percent of homicides in Honduras in recent years, no one was convicted. Witnesses know: you testify, and the gang kills you immediately. The United States helped fund a nonprofit, the Association for a More Just Society, to investigate all murders in the most violent neighborhoods. They persuade witnesses to testify, anonymously, covered in a black burqa. In Rivera Hernández, murders plummeted by 62 percent in two years. And the number of Honduran children showing up at the United States border was almost cut in half.

via Opinion | I’m a Child of Immigrants. And I Have a Plan to Fix Immigration. – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  This argument makes sense to me.

Opinion | The Republican Strategy? Fear and Lies – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“If I listened only to Donald Trump and those Republican candidates who follow his example, I would be petrified. I would be living in a bunker. I would have cyanide capsules at hand.

I would be convinced that the scattered protesters disrupting some Republicans’ meals were the advance guard of a violent liberal mob about to wrest control of the country. I would worry that the Democratic Party was secretly trying to elect terrorists and traitors to the House and the Senate.

And that caravan of migrants — I would see that, too, as some nefarious Democratic plot, or as a Trojan horse with jihadists in its belly. Either way, I would recognize it as the end of the world: Armageddon in the hunched form of a pregnant Honduran woman limping toward the only hope that she has.

To prevent a blue wave on Nov. 6, the president and his puppets are traveling audaciously far from the truth and shockingly deep into the gutter. I’ve seen bad before, but not this. The midterms aren’t just a referendum on which direction the country will go. They’re also a test of where the limits of decency and shamelessness are drawn.”

Opinion | Do Not Double-Major – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“When I visit a college campus and ask the students what they’re studying, the response often starts with: “I’m double-majoring in … ” And then my heart sinks just a little bit.

I understand why many students are tempted to double-major. They have more than one academic interest. When I was in college, I briefly thought about double-majoring in my two favorite subjects, math and history. (Instead, I spent much of my time at the college newspaper and barely completed one major — applied math.)

But the reality is that many students who double-major aren’t doing it out of intellectual curiosity. The number of double majors has soared in recent years mostly because students see it as a way to add one more credential to their résumé. What’s even better than one major? Two majors!

 

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Except that it’s not. Most students would learn more by creatively mastering a single major — and leaving themselves time to take classes in multiple other fields. “Double majoring,” as Jacqueline Sanchez, a Wellesley College student, wrote in a recent op-ed for her campus paper, “ultimately prevents students from exploring many different disciplines.” “

David Lindsay: I strongly agree. I love the motto of a consulting company whose name is not so memorable:  Work hard, play hard.

To that I will add, find what gives you joy, and do some of that. Since the world is often sad and crazy, learn to laugh with humility, when you are not punishing yourself for your imperfections.

Opinion | Trump’s Ignoring Our Real ‘National Emergies’ – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“It’s not about immigration. It’s about bigotry.

That’s the real story — to the extent there is a story at all — about the caravan of 5,000 impoverished Central Americans rampaging toward the United States border at, er, two miles an hour.

President Trump, ever the champion speller, declares this to be a “National Emergy”! He may call out the Army! He’s talking about sealing the border!

So, here’s some perspective, by my back-of-envelope calculations:

More than 1.4 million foreigners immigrate to the United States each year. If, say, half the caravan reaches the border, and half of those people actually enter the U.S., they would represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of this year’s immigrants.

If the caravan proceeds by foot, during the period of its journey 16,800 Americans will die from drugs.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 690,000 Americans will become homeless, including 267,000 children.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, 8,850 Americans will die from guns, including suicides and murders.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 9,000 Americans will die from lack of health insurance (people die at higher rates when they’re uninsured, although there’s disagreement about how much higher).

Maybe the real “National Emergy” is drugs, homelessness, gun deaths and lack of health insurance?