Opinion | Bad Times in Trumpville – by Gail Collins – The New York Times

“Gee, you wake up one morning and the entire political world is transformed.

I know some of you were very sad about the way the Mueller report let Donald Trump off the hook. Even if you secretly doubted that he was actually well-organized enough to run an international conspiracy, it made you depressed to see him looking so happy.

But then he took off on the worst victory lap since — well, do you remember that baseball player who celebrated his grand slam home run by leaping in the air and fracturing a leg?

“We’re not talking about health care right now, but I will,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

He also vowed to make the Republicans “the party of health care.” Great strategy! The Republicans have no health care plan or even a plan about how to get one. Trying to get rid of Obamacare had been their most humiliating failure in the two years they controlled the White House and Congress. Last thing in the world they want to bring up.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT comments
Thank you Gail, magnificent. Very annoying, that reference to cruel April, what are you talking about. With out Google, I’d just be a frustrated illiterate. But I did find something about Thomas Stearns Elliot, who wrote The Wasteland, at PoetryFoundation.org: The Waste Land BY T. S. ELIOT FOR EZRA POUND IL MIGLIOR FABBRO I. The Burial of the Dead April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s, My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free.”
The rest can be found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land but it’s not my cup of tea.
Written in 1922, Elliot was depressed, getting divorced, and shook up by WW 1. Maybe it will be easier to read after lunch. Maybe I have a tin uneducated ear, or in my focus on mitigating climate change, its seems like depressing rubbish. I’d rather read the NYT.

Opinion | We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.” — Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate

“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion and conspiracy in plain sight.” — Adam Schiff, chairman of House Intelligence Committee

“I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” — John Brennan, former C.I.A. director

“The biggest scandal in U.S. history is coming into focus. On Friday Rachel Maddow made it clear. Donald Trump conspired with the enemy.” — Rob Reiner, film director

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Maybe it’s time to declare a national sabbath. Maybe it’s time to step back from the scandalmongering and assess who we are right now.

Democrats might approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. It’s clear that many Democrats made grievous accusations against the president that are not supported by the evidence. It’s clear that people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology. If you call someone a traitor and it turns out you lacked the evidence for that charge, then the only decent thing to do is apologize.

Republicans and the Sean Hannity-style Trumpians might also approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. For two years they’ve been calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. For two years they’ve been spreading the libel that there are no honest brokers in Washington. It’s all a deep-state conspiracy, a swamp. They should apologize for peddling the sort of deep cynicism that undermines our country’s institutions.

And what about the rest of us? What about all the hours we spent speculating about the Mueller report, fantasizing about the Trump ruin or watching and reading speculation about these things? What about the superstructure of scandal politics we have built and live in today?

The sad fact is that Watergate introduced a poison into the American body politic. Richard Nixon’s downfall was just and important, but it opened up the mouthwatering possibility that you don’t need to do the hard work of persuading people to join your side. Instead, you can destroy your foes all at once through scandal.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Dear David Brooks, you can do better than this. Just reading the top comments, and approving them, you sound foolish. First, practice what you preach. I agree there is too much talk about gossip, and not enough about policy. But in this dumb essay, you skip any discussion about policy, and talk only about the history of gossip. And yet, to my disbelief, you seem to equate the real witch hunts against the Clintons, with the stench of corruption and collusion that permeates the Trump family and associates. What do you think of the Green New Deal of Thomas Friedman and Hal Harvey– the four zeros. 1. Zero net energy buildings. 2. Zero waste manufacturing. 3. A zero carbon grid, and 4. Zero emissions transportation?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | Carbon Taxes Are the Original Green New Deal – by Steven Rattner – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Steven Rattner writes, “Why are so many economists, even conservative ones, in favor of a massive new tax? Because markets do not always price in “externalities” like pollution. In addition to cutting consumption, raising the price of carbon would arguably do more to encourage development of alternative power sources than all the massive new government spending programs that advocates of the Green New Deal envision.” Thank you Steve Rattner, for your clarity and wisdom. I hope Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and every democrat running for president studies this. The intelligence of this approach, is that the GOP should and will support it with the right leadership, since it is the proper conservative approach. Rattner doesn’t mention that more will be needed, he is selling something that could get both parties in congress together in the near future. We need to get this all in place, and then review if 5% increases every year will get us to where we want to go. This is a first important step to take to shift the American economy into a sustainable future, and it already has bipartisan support.
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Rattner also writes, “Fortunately, there is a better way to address the climate problem at far lower cost to the economy: a tax on greenhouse gas emissions. That can be imposed in any number of ways. The 18.4 cent federal gasoline tax, for example, hasn’t been increased since 1993 even as most other developed countries impose far higher levies.

A particularly thoughtful proposal has come from the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan organization that counts more than 3,300 economists among its signatories. Elegant in its simplicity, the key provision would be the imposition of an escalating tax on carbon. At an initial rate of $43 per ton, the levy would be roughly equivalent to 38.2 cents per gallon of gasoline.

To prevent polluters from fleeing overseas, the tax would be imposed on imports from countries lacking a similar provision while exports to those countries would not be taxed. While difficult to implement, that component is important to work out.”

Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon and Facebook – The New York Times

By Astead W. Herndon
March 8, 2019, 337 c

“Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is bidding to be the policy pacesetter in the Democratic presidential primary, announced another expansive idea on Friday: a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook.

The proposal — which comes on the same day Ms. Warren will hold a rally in Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood that was to be home to a major new Amazon campus — calls for the appointment of regulators who would “unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition,” as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

Ms. Warren’s plan would also force the rollback of some acquisitions by technological giants, the campaign said, including Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s addition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze. Companies would be barred from transferring or sharing users’ data with third parties. Dual entities, such as Amazon Marketplace and AmazonBasics, would be split apart.

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“I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules,” Ms. Warren said in a statement. “To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.” “

Tesla Swerves on Strategy- Trailed by Growing Doubts – The New York Times

By Neal E. Boudette
March 6, 2019, 313
“Tesla’s sleek stores embodied its green vision for upending the transportation and energy business: a one-stop shop for electric cars, solar panels and battery storage. Less than three months ago, the company announced 11 new store locations across the country.

Now Tesla is in retreat, shuttering most of its stores in a bid to cut costs. The move signaled the broader vulnerabilities of an upstart that for a time was the most highly valued American car company.

A spate of price cuts in the United States points to a slowdown in sales, and the company says it is currently making cars for Europe and China only. But plans to bring the company’s mass-market car, the Model 3, to overseas buyers have been hamstrung by logistical challenges.

A long-promised $35,000 version of the Model 3 is finally being offered, but the price will test the company’s profitability. Tesla now expects a loss in the first quarter, rattling investors’ faith in the company and its enigmatic founder, Elon Musk. In recent days, its shares have tumbled more than 13 percent.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT

Opinion | Republicans Sink Further Into Trump’s Cesspool – By Peter Wehner – The New York Times

I watched several hours of the Michael Cohen hearing yesterday, and the behavior of the Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform turned my stomach into knots. Here is Peter Wehner, a magnificent and articulate conservative Republican, carefully explaining what was so disgusting about the behavior of thesed Republican congress people.

By Peter Wehner
Contributing Opinion Writer
Feb. 27, 2019, 626 c
Image
A check from President Trump to Michael Cohen on display at the House committee hearing at which Mr. Cohen was testifying on Wednesday.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday revealed as much about the Republican Party as it did about President Trump and his former lawyer. In the aftermath of Mr. Cohen’s damning testimony, several things stand out.

The first is that unlike John Dean, the former White House counsel who delivered searing testimony against President Richard Nixon in 1973, Mr. Cohen produced documents of Mr. Trump’s ethical and criminal wrongdoing. (Mr. Dean had to wait for the Watergate tapes to prove that what he was saying was true.)

Mr. Cohen’s most explosive evidence included a copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account, while he was president, to reimburse Mr. Cohen for hush money payments. The purpose of that hush money, of course, was to cover up Mr. Trump’s affair with a pornographic film star in order to prevent damage to his campaign.

Other evidence produced by Mr. Cohen included financial statements, examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his wealth to serve his interests, examples of charity fraud, efforts to intimidate Mr. Cohen and his family and even letters sent by Mr. Cohen to academic institutions threatening legal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades and SAT scores were released. (Mr. Trump hammered President Barack Obama on this front, referring to him as a “terrible student, terrible,” and mocking him for not releasing his grades.)

Yet Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in their frantic effort to discredit Mr. Cohen, went after him while steadfastly ignoring the actual evidence he produced. They tried to impugn his character, but were unable to impugn the documents he provided. Nor did a single Republican offer a character defense of Mr. Trump. It turns out that was too much, even for them.

In that sense, what Republicans didn’t say reveals the truth about what happened at the hearing on Wednesday as much as what they did say. Republicans showed no interest, for example, in pursuing fresh allegations made by Mr. Cohen that Mr. Trump knew that WikiLeaks planned to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016.

In a sane world, the fact that the president’s former lawyer produced evidence that the president knowingly and deceptively committed a federal crime — hush money payments that violated campaign finance laws — is something that even members of the president’s own party would find disquieting. But not today’s Republican Party.”

No Kneeling During Super Bowl LIII National Anthem- but Still Plenty of Talk – The New York Times

 

David Lindsay:  Kathleen and I watched the super bowl, without our usual guests, who were all on family leave. By and large, it was good football, though I felt that the game is getting more violent in that the definition of of interference with the receiver has gotten looser, not tighter. It was a guilty pleasure, since I have at least three reasons to boycott the event. First, the black quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been allowed to play since the season in 2016 when he took a knee against police shootings of unarmed black men, and second, the brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., makes the whole thing something to revise or avoid. Third, the NFL is guilty of false claims. They insist this is the world championship, which is nonesense. They are not international like the real international sport of football at the World Cup.
The reason for this post is to share the rap video by Ava Duvernay in honor of Colin Kaepernick in the NYT article below. I’m afraid it is exactly what the white billionaires’s club of NFL owners deserves.

By Ken Belson
Feb. 4, 2019, 1
ATLANTA — Dr. Bernice A. King, the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, was brought out to midfield for the coin toss before the start of Super Bowl LIII. She was joined by two other titanic civil rights leaders, Ambassador Andrew Young and Representative John Lewis.

Before the game began, the N.F.L. also played a video in the stadium that included images of Dr. King and other civil rights leaders, interspersed with images of N.F.L. players doing charity work.

On television, CBS ran a public service announcement that showed Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives touring the Ebenezer Baptist Church and other landmarks associated with Martin Luther King Jr.

For the many Super Bowl viewers who do not closely follow the league, and perhaps many who do, such imagery probably came across as proper and right for a game played in Atlanta, known as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement.

Yet it underscored something else, a league still struggling with race and seeking a balance between fans and players who find no reason to talk about it and those who find it front and center in a simmering controversy over a player who has not played a down since the 2016 season.

The presence of the civil rights leaders did not seem to win over supporters of the player, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who in 2016 began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality against people of color and has not played a down since that season.

Even before the game, many resolved not to watch, including the film director Ava DuVernay, who accused the N.F.L. of “racist treatment of @Kaepernick7” and lamented an “ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of players.”

Ava DuVernay tweets:

@ava
I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players. To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap

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Opinion | Howard Schultz- Please Don’t Run for President – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

Michelle Goldberg
By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2019, 1095
Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, says he is considering running for president as a “centrist independent.”
Credit
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Unlike Donald Trump, the former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz is a genuinely successful businessman who built a company that’s become part of the daily lives of people across America. For this, those of us who are horrified by Trump’s relentless grifting should be grateful. It gives us something concrete to boycott should Schultz decide to launch a narcissistic spoiler campaign for president.

In an interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Schultz decried “extremes on both sides” and said he’s considering a run for president as a “centrist independent.” He hasn’t yet made up his mind, and perhaps the overwhelmingly negative reaction from almost all segments of the Democratic Party, as well as some NeverTrump Republicans, will dissuade him. There’s a danger, though, that the reality-distorting effects of being a billionaire will warp his judgment, convincing him that his business acumen is transferable to the realm of politics. If so, he could end up helping Donald Trump get re-elected.

Shultz appears to share the conviction, endemic among American elites, that the country hungers for a candidate who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. After all, if you’re rich, you probably know a lot of people like this. “I’m a socially liberal, fiscally conservative centrist who would love to vote for a rational Democrat and get Trump out of the White House,” a chief executive of a major bank, who wanted to remain anonymous, recently told Politico, lamenting Michael Bloomberg’s poor odds in a Democratic primary.

But this frustrated executive’s politics aren’t widely shared by people who haven’t been to Davos. In a 2017 study, the political scientist Lee Drutman plotted the 2016 electorate along two axes, one dealing with social issues and identity, the other with economics and trade. Only 3.8 percent of voters fell into the socially liberal/economically conservative quadrant.”

David Lindsay:

“Only 3.8 percent of voters fell into the socially liberal/economically conservative quadrant.”   That would include me. I didn’t realize I was in such a small group of smart, compassionate people. But for me, economic conservativism is not agains the New Deal, or the Great Society, or the New Green Deal that includes population control.

Opinion | The West at an Impasse – By Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By Ross Douthat, Opinion Columnist

Dec. 19, 2018, 341c

Image
President Emmanuel Macron presides over a country roiled by populist protests.CreditCreditPool photo by Benoit Tessier

“In France, where the extraordinarily unpopular Emmanuel Macron presides over a country roiled by populist protests, a leading politician of Macron’s centrist party was asked in a televised interview what policy mistakes his peers had made: “We were probably too intelligent, too subtle,” he told the interviewer, whose eyebrows danced with disbelief.

Around the same time a Hungarian newspaper ran an interview with Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister of Poland and a member of a centrist party that has been swept aside by the populists who currently rule in Warsaw. Asked to explain the chaotic European situation, he cited a recent Atlantic essay by his wife, the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, which portrayed populism as, in part, a revolt by the resentfully unsuccessful against “meritocracy and competition.” The centrist alternative to populism, he suggested, was embodied by Macron, who won the French presidency on “positive ideas” rather than “what is worst in us.”

“Macron’s poll numbers are breaking negative records,” the interviewer dryly noted.

While I read both of these exchanges, my Kindle was open to “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” written in 1958 by the British civil servant Michael Young. The book coined the term in its title, and Young’s neologism was soon adopted as a compliment, a term of praise for a system of elite formation that relied on SAT tests and resumes and promised rule by the most intelligent rather than the well-bred.”

David Lindsay: Ross, well done. You kept me till the end, when you wrote:
“In theory the impasse can be overcome. That’s what statesmanship is for — to bridge gaps between complacent winners and angry losers, to weld populism’s motley grievances into a new agenda suited for the times, to manifest an elitism that is magnanimous instead of arrogant.

But can the system we have really produce such a statesman? The next one we find will be the first.”
What a silly way to end. Think Barak Obama, John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt. And that doesn’t include the great Europeans such as Winston Churchill.
You write brilliantly. Perhaps you should consider controlling your right wing, Catholic litmus tests.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

There are some excellent comments, such as:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts
Times Pick

What bothers me about Ross’s thesis is his insouciance about the limits of populists. He seems to view them as grievance-driven but rudderless, impotent, and unlikely to gain real power. What he leaves out, however, is the natural extension of populism into fascism, as in 1930s Europe. And when he refers to Polish politics as centrists taken over by populists, I cringe because reports show alarming trends towards authoritarianism per th e crackdowns by former Prime Minister Kaczynkiski, mirroring Hungary’s rightward spiral under Orban. Even though Ross seems to feel the US goes through natural cycles of meritocracy and populism, I say it’s dangerous to say those are the only choices. If populists can find a strong and charismatic enough leader to follow, countries can swing authoritarian. We say it can’t happen here, but even though Trump is a corrupt clown who’s given up on serious governing, his Republican party is operating behind the scenes to power grab and subvert democracy. From voter suppression to stripping new Democratic governors of their powers, we see a flouting of US laws, norms, and governing practices. Political polarism (and paralysis) could still morph into “soft” fascism if we aren’t careful.

Opinion | James Comey: Let’s Vote to Uphold Our Nation’s Values – The New York Times

“I’ve been traveling around the United States for six months speaking about ethical leadership. Nearly every place I go, I hear some version of this question: “Are we going to be O.K.?” What the questioner means is, given the current leadership of our country and the ugly undercurrent on which it thrives, is America as we know it going to survive? Yes, is the answer I give, without hesitation. We will recover. How long that takes is up to us, but I am optimistic.

History shows us that America’s progress in fulfilling our aspirations is an upward sloping line. Yes, our present has always fallen short of our values. After all, we were born in original sin — our nation’s founders held inspiring truths to be self-evident while keeping human beings as slaves. But our history is one of continuous progress.

Unfortunately, that line marking our progress is not a solid one. We make progress, then we regress, then we make progress again. The upward jag is always larger than the retreat, which is why the line has a positive slope upward across 242 years. But our line is jagged.

In his new book, “The Soul of America,” the historian Jon Meacham reminds us that the years after the end of World War I were a period of stunning progress for our country. Women got the right to vote. Blacks moved into the growing industrial economy. Catholics and Jews flooded in as immigrants. But that change brought reaction. In the 1920s, the Klan was reborn. Millions of Americans joined the K.K.K., including 16 United States senators, 11 governors and dozens of members of the House of Representatives. Tens of thousands of Klansmen in white robes marched on the National Mall in Washington. Immigration was severely restricted. Then the Klan fever broke in the late 1920s and we resumed our upward progress. That’s the story of America.”

David Lindsay: Good piece. One commenter wrote, Good message, wrong messenger. I would say it differently. I have not forgiven James Comey for screwing Hillary Clinton in the last election. Since ‘m ready to indict him, I am impressed that with such eloquence, he is begging for forgiveness, or at least, a second chance. He writes well, but I remember he drives a crooked nail and put his thumb on the last, very important, election.