Opinion | How Faith Shapes My Politics – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

“Over the past few decades, whenever a Republican president puts up an important judicial nominee — especially a Catholic one — we go through the same routine. Some Democrat accuses the nominee of imposing her religious views on the law.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Senator Dianne Feinstein notoriously told Amy Coney Barrett in a 2017 confirmation hearing. Then Republicans accuse Democrats of being religious bigots. Then the nominee testifies that her personal opinions or religious faith will have absolutely no bearing on her legal judgments.

This unconvincing routine gets us no closer to understanding two important questions: How does faith influence a person’s political views? How should we look at religiously devout people in public life?

To the extent that I have answers to these questions it’s through my own unusual experience. I came to faith in middle age after I’d been in public life for a while. I would say that coming to faith changed everything and yet didn’t alter my political opinions all that much. That’s because assenting to a religion is not like choosing to be a Republican or a Democrat. It happens on a different level of consciousness.”

David Lindsay: The comments section is closed, but full of push back. I compliment David Brooks for his courage and insight in writing such an honest and thoughtful piece. I have a running disagreement with Mr. Brooks, for being too anthropocentric.

I am a Christian and a Pagan. The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes pagan as:

“Definition of pagan

1HEATHEN sense 1  especially a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)
2one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods an irreligious or hedonistic person
3NEO-PAGAN   witches, druids, goddess worshippers, and other pagans in America today— Alice Dowd”
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I’ve rediscovered Christianity through the writing of Richard Rohr in his book “Eager to Love,”  where he introduced me to the religious beliefs of Saint Francis of Assisi and his partner Saint Clair. Rohr goes on to describe how disciples of these two have added to their world view over the centuries.
The main point is that these Christians believed all life was sacred, not just human life, and they were hard core Christian environmentalists. Humans who believe they are above all other species and other forms of life are in the process now of destroying the planet with overpopulation and pollution.

Opinion | The Republican Irritation Olympics – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

“So which Senate Republican do you find most irritating? Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney?

I know there are lots of other contenders, but let’s stick with the men of the moment — the three stars of the Supreme Court follies! All famous for keeping their word except when it involves, you know, something they really want.

All currently supporting Donald Trump’s plan to get a new Supreme Court justice in place before the election. That’s just a little over a month, and far less time than it would normally take Congress to modify the rules on mackerel importation.

Of course, they all found it totally, deeply unacceptable when Barack Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice during his last year in office. McConnell, in fact, hated the idea of a Democratic president nominating judges at all. He dragged his feet so successfully that when Trump entered the White House, McConnell was able to go into a legislative closet somewhere and gift him with 105 moldering judicial vacancies. Probably the greatest achievement of the Senate majority leader’s career. Nothing Mitch cares about more than keeping Democrats off the court benches.”

David Lindsay:  You go Gail.  Here is the top comment, and the reason I posted the piece above.

D Price
Wayne, NJ Sept. 23

Two of these three are up for re-election this year. I beg the good citizens of Kentucky to vote for Amy McGrath, and rid us all of Mitch McConnell — whose power is ridiculously out of proportion to the mere 806,787 votes that put him in office. And I likewise beg the good citizens of South Carolina to cast their ballots for Jaime Harrison. Lindsey can check himself into a clinic to have his principles re-oriented. Those of us who don’t live in either state might consider a cash contribution to the campaigns of these two challengers. It would be lovely if Gail never had to write about McConnell or Graham again.

14 Replies1048 Recommended

A 639-Year Concert, With No Intermission for Coronavirus – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
A humorist for the New Yorker one upon a time saw a musical with a title like My Wild Irish Rose, or something like that, and wrote that the fact that an American audience liked such rubbish was proof that democracy would never survive. This also describes my feelings about this music piece. This story didn’t belong on the front page, but in the the section called Health and Mental Disorders. I second the comment that the money for this concert? could have gone to a soup ktichen. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

When I revisited this article, to review my comment, I had been recommended once.

I looked at the top comments, and learned a great deal about my own limitations. Both of these comments were so profound, I had to recommend them, even though they each conflict with my first reaction, diametrically.

CClevelandMorristown NJ5h ago

As a donor to this undertaking (year 2355), I have been happy to support a project that, for almost two decades already, repeatedly renews a public conversation such as that I’m reading here. For me, this work requires an uncomfortable contemplation of the human lifespan, for example. As we venture deeper into the Anthropocene — and acknowledge more and more how the human species is irrevocably shaping our planet — an artistic creation that cannot be experienced within a single human lifetime humbles me to reflect on worlds beyond my possible contemplation. Just as I wonder about the time perception of creatures with such disparate lifespans as a common housefly or a giant tortoise, so too can I revel in imagining an entity for which a 639-year composition might be perceived as little more than a brief tune. For years, even when I wake in the night, I think about this continuum of sound in Halberstadt, and feel connected to past and future. As a human statement, and as a work of art — the exact opposite of narcissim, I find — this ongoing performance, is truly humbling and inspirational.

37 Recommended

Gabrielle Rose commented 6 hours agoGGabrielle RosePhiladelphia, PA6h ago

Years ago I was with a friend at the Boston Ballet watching a piece by Merce Cunningham. It went on for quite some time in dead silence. I glanced at the program and showed my friend the line “Music by John Cage. “ In the absolute stillness of the theater we were laughing with tears streaming down our faces, but in total silence, one of those terrible moments when you CAN NOT make a sound, which makes the moment that much more absurd. It was more than 40 years ago. All I had to read was John Cage and it set me off.

33 Recommended

Opinion | Welcome to the R.N.C.’s Alternate Universe – By Charlie Warzel – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.

Credit…Republican National Convention/Via Reuters

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned covering the daily information wars of the Trump era is that a meaningful percentage of Americans live in an alternate reality powered by a completely separate universe of news and information.

Some are armed with their own completely fabricated facts about the world while others, as the journalist Joshua Green wrote in this section in 2017, rearrange our shared facts “to compose an entirely different narrative.” There is little consensus on the top story of the day or the major threats facing the country. You will have noticed this if you’ve ever watched a congressional hearing and flipped between CNN or MSNBC and Fox News. The video feed is the same but the interpretation of events is radically different.

Personally, I’ve never seen a clearer demonstration of the Two Universes phenomenon than this week’s Republican National Convention.

For three nights, in a shameless display of loyalty to President Trump, the party has conjured up what my colleague Frank Bruni described as an “upside-down vision” of the world. Theirs is a universe in which the coronavirus pandemic is largely in the rear view (on Aug. 25, 1,136 Americans died from the virus) and where, according to Representative Matt Gaetz, radical Democrats threaten to “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door.” A universe where the existential dangers of climate change pale in comparison to those of cancel culture — even as the West is ravaged by blackouts and wildfires and the Gulf Coast is slammed by a devastating hurricane.

This week, my colleague Jamelle Bouie described some of what we’re seeing as the “Fox Newsification of the Republicans” by “a president who rose to political power via the cable news channel and who exists in a codependent relationship with the network.”

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The comparison is apt, as Fox News has been extremely successful in crafting and selling an alternate reality to its viewers each night for well over a decade. The trick is to evoke two dueling emotions — fear and devotion — one conspiracy theory at a time. Fox News has mastered this and so has the R.N.C.”

David Lindsay:  Yes, all too true. But there might be some solutions to this mess out there. President Ronald Reagan somehow cancelled a rule or law of the FCC that said in order to broadcast news, you had to allow equal time to the main opposing position of any postion you took or reported on. Before then, all news shows were more or less balanced. After this rule was abolished, right wing news channels like Fox went all out for spin and opinion and even lies, in the name of journalistic truth.We should bring back the fairness in reporting doctrine.

The Democratic Convention and my 5 cent bet on Night Four

By David Lindsay, Jr. 8/22/20

On the first night of the Democratic National Convention we heard from a lot of good speakers, including: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Former Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Doug Jones, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. I think the final speaker was Former First Lady Michelle Obama. It was impressive.

The second night included:  Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Former President Bill Clinton, and Former Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Bill Clinton was limited to five minutes, and still stole the show.

The third night included: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Former President Barak Obama, and Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The night ended with Kamala Harris. Kamala was very good, but not as relaxed as when she gave her introduction speech a few weeks ago. Barak Obama reminded people that he is phenomenal.

Oh my gosh, I thought, who else is left to speak? What are they going to do on the fourth night? So I thought about it, and bet anyone five cents who wanted to bet, that on the fourth night, they would have a few or all of the remaining candidates for president, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke, Corey Booker, Michael Bloomberg, and perhaps several of the State Department officials who testified against Trump in the impeachment hearings: Fiona Hill, David Holmes, Marie Yovanovitch, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.

There was a subtle intelligence to the convention organization, since all the really talented speakers went earlier, with the exception of Buttigieg who is young. Joe Biden wouldn’t have to follow either of the Clintons, either of the Obamas, Kamala Harris, or his own eloquent wife Jill Biden.

So I was right about the other candidates, and wrong about the State Department whistle blowers and brave patriots. I also missed the long piece on John Lewis, with excerpts of his speeches over decades. I missed historian and biographer Jon Meacham. I didn’t know about the impressive 13-year old with a stutter, and it was warming to be reminded that Joe overcame a serious stutter, and that the condition was part of why he became empathetic to others.

Then, to top it all off, Joe Biden gave what was probably the best speech of his life, with not a single slip, hesitation, or thought jump. He was presidential, and humble, energetic, thoughtful, and appropriately angry. He showed a range of emotions we don’t usually see from him. He communicated, that he is an experienced and accomplished leader who connects with people, listens and understands their issues. He can beat Trump on character, the economy, on climate change and the environment, civil rights, income inequality, and preserving our democracy. He will  protect Americans and American troops from pandemics and fascist dictators. He said that to fix the economy, we have to fix the pandemic, and that on day one, he would mobilize the whole country to respond appropriately, making sure we have ample testing and personal protective equipment. Only then we can safely go back to work or to school.

Besides strengthening social security and medicare, he will even get the post office working again.

Did you take the bet?  Do I get your nickel, or do I owe you one? At any rate, a penny for your thoughts.

Opinion | Kamala Harris’s Undertold, Undersold Story – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ben Wiseman

“When I saw on Wednesday morning that Kamala Harris had released a short video marking and celebrating her selection as Joe Biden’s running mate, I clicked — eagerly and instantly. I wanted to continue riding my wave of excitement about all the firsts: first woman of color on a major party’s presidential ticket, first Black woman specifically, first Asian-American.

By the time I finished the video, that wave had crashed.

OK, that’s an overstatement. But as I listened to her flat, desultory recitation of her biography and philosophy, I did feel a sense of frustration, and it was familiar. I’d wrestled with the same letdown during the Democratic primary, when the experience of Harris didn’t live up to the idea of Harris. She often skipped or skimmed over facets of her background that she would have benefited from dwelling on. She frequently zoomed past the poetry to the prose, more a steely lawyer rattling off lists than a soulful leader serving up inspiration.

Harris the prosecutor can find the holes in your argument and make you tremble. But can Harris the history-making vice-presidential candidate find the cracks in your heart and make you cry?

That’s certainly not a requirement — most politicians not named Barack Obama fail to do that — and I’m not complaining per se. As I wrote when the news broke, her presence on the Democratic ticket makes total sense in terms of the experience that she possesses, the values that she represents and the contrast that she helps Biden draw between his politics of inclusion and Donald Trump’s politics of division.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Maybe the chorus is right. Frank Bruni is guilty of mansplaining to a new national female talent. So I went back and reread some of his piece. I do not dispute his main point: “I’m articulating a wish, one that’s tied to my belief that a decent future for this country hinges on an end to Trump’s presidency and my concern that Biden and Harris use every arrow in their quivers to defeat him. I’m venting a worry that Harris doesn’t fully use one of her arrows. She did poorly in the Democratic primary because, yes, her campaign was a mess. But she also did poorly because she never discovered the right, stirring way to tell and sell her story.” This is a valid point and request.
Where I part with Frank, is that I think she hit a home run when Joe Biden introduced her at their joint press conference. I wrote in my blog afterwards: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both gave excellent speeches yesterday, at their coming out press conference. For Joe Biden, it is one of his best. Kamala Harris is wonderfully dynamic and impressive. She moves back and forth seemlessly between being powerful, then soft, deferential and daughterly, then prosecutorial again.” So many of Bruni’s critics have a point in his lack of gentleness. I thought she brilliant, and he just wanted more.

(159) Joe Biden Introduces Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) As Running Mate – YouTube

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both gave excellent speeches yesterday, at their coming out press conference. For Joe Biden, it is one of his best. Kamala Harris is wonderfully dynamic and impressive. She moves back and forth seemlessly between being powerful, then soft, deferential and daughterly, then prosecutorial again.

While this version on C-Span cuts off Joe’s first sentence, it is not interrupted every five minutes with ads, like one finds now from the major networks like CBS. It should show, but doesn’t, that they both walk on stage wearing black masks covering their faces. Together, they perform a kind of magic, full of hope and promise.
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‘Top Cop’ Kamala Harris’s Record of Policing the Police – The New York Times

“During this summer of tear gas and turmoil, Kamala Harris has not been quiet.

On “The View,” the California senator spoke about “reimagining how we do public safety in America.”

On the Senate floor, she sparred with Rand Paul after the Kentucky Republican blocked a bill to make lynching a federal crime, and she is among the Democrats sponsoring policing legislation that would ban choke holds, racial profiling and no-knock warrants.

On Twitter, she expressed frustration that police officers who killed a Black Kentucky woman, Breonna Taylor, during a drug raid gone wrong, “still have not been charged.”

As a leading contender to be Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate in the final days before his decision, Ms. Harris has emerged as a strong voice on issues of police misconduct that seem certain to be central to the campaign. Yet in her own, unsuccessful presidential run, she struggled to reconcile her calls for reform with her record on these same issues during a long career in law enforcement.”

David Lindsay: We admired the report the other day of a hard core Republican, who said, if the Democrats ran a can of soup against Donald Trump, he would still vote for the can of soup.
I am not an admirer of Kamala Harris. I will try and find the Nicholas Kristof muck raking report that turned me off – from 2018.05.17.
But as the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris supported the police unions about 99% of the time, because it was then popular with the majority of voters. I was pleased, on the other hand, to see a report on her on the PBS News Hour last night, that showed a far more nuanced and favorable set of facts. She did push for improvements, but oh so gently. When a police officer killed a person, she always deferred to the local district attorney, to decide whether to investigate the police to respect the current process. And investigations almost never happened. Many many killings went uninvestigated.

Opinion | Vote for Trump’s Worst! – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“OK, people, I know you’re feeling a little wan and helpless these days. Sure does seem like a long time until November.

So let’s take an early vote and pick Donald Trump’s Worst Cabinet Member. The competition is intense this year. Some days it feels as if everybody in the administration is trying to grab the grand prize. That they’re running around with a list in their pocket titled Things to Screw Up.

Vice President Mike Pence has been a faithful hanger-on from Day 1. He’s now doing double duty as Trump’s coronavirus czar. In which capacity he predicted on April 24 that the epidemic would be “behind us” by Memorial Day weekend.

Last season’s winnerAttorney General William Barr, certainly hasn’t been resting on his laurels. At a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, he had to be prodded twice before acknowledging that presidential candidates aren’t supposed to accept foreign assistance. When asked if he agreed with Trump’s shocking suggestion that a president could move Election Day, Barr said, “I’ve never looked into it.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Gee Gail, this is a hard one to figure out. You didn’t offer the choice of — All of the Above. So I vote for Mike Pompeo as the worst cabinet member of the year.
I just re-read Tom Friedman’s excellent condemnation, which included: “Pompeo’s two most notable accomplishments as secretary of state are, metaphorically speaking, shooting two of his senior State Department officials in the back. One was the distinguished U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Pompeo removed on the orders of Trump and Trump’s nut-job lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The other was the department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, whom Pompeo got Trump to fire, reportedly because he was investigating — wait for it now — Pompeo’s own efforts to evade a congressional ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and for improperly asking a State Department employee to run errands for him and his wife. Hell, if that were me — if the first foreign-planned terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 developed on my watch and if I had just gotten rid of the State Department inspector general without explanation — I’d also be trying to distract attention.
I mean, if it were me, I might even claim that China concocted the coronavirus in a lab in Wuhan. Wait — that’s what Pompeo did!”
DL:    He also oversaw our rapid retreat from northern Syria. We left our allies their to be butchered by the our enemies in the region, when just the presence of our troops kept them in place to fight for us. So I vote for Mike Pompeo.

Hurricane, Fire, Covid-19: Disasters Expose the Hard Reality of Climate Change – By Christopher Flavelle and Henry Fountain – The New York Times

“A low-grade hurricane that is slowly scraping along the East Coast. A wildfire in California that has led to evacuation orders for 8,000 people. And in both places, as well as everywhere between, a pandemic that keeps worsening.

The daily morning briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, usually a dry document full of acronyms and statistics, has begun to resemble the setup for a disaster movie. But rather than a freak occurrence, experts say that the pair of hazards bracketing the country this week offers a preview of life under climate change: a relentless grind of overlapping disasters, major or minor.

The coronavirus pandemic has further exposed flaws in the nation’s defenses, including weak construction standards in vulnerable areas, underfunded government agencies, and racial and income disparities that put some communities at greater risk. Experts argue that the country must fundamentally rethink how it prepares for similar disasters as the effects of global warming accelerate.

“State and local governments already stretched with Covid responses must now stretch even further,” said Lisa Anne Hamilton, adaptation program director at the Georgetown Climate Center in Washington. Better planning and preparation are crucial, she added, as the frequency and intensity of disasters increase.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Flavelle and Fountain for this excellent piece. “The combination of tropical storms, wildfires and other disasters, coming after months of prior disasters and the struggle to deal with the pandemic, have taken a growing toll on the nation’s disaster response system. Part of the problem is that more frequent disasters make it harder to recover, according to Samantha Montano, an assistant professor of emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
“What makes climate change so insidious is that it alters hazards, like flooding, just enough to turn what otherwise could have been just an emergency into a disaster, and disasters into catastrophes,” Dr. Montano said. “Not only does this lead to more damage but also traps people in a cycle of recovery.” “
November 3rd is an important election, to drive the climate change deniers out of office in two branches of government.