Opinion | God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditGetty Images

“Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation.

Alternatively, Barr could have delivered himself of some innocuous pablum, which is something government officials often do in difficult times.

But no. Barr gave a fiery speech denouncing the threat to America posed by “militant secularists,” whom he accused of conspiring to destroy the “traditional moral order,” blaming them for rising mental illness, drug dependency and violence.”

David Lindsay: Amen.

I am reading Eager to Love, by Richard Rohr, and it is opening my eyes to a form of Christianity, following St. Francis of Asisis, that is open, big tent, humble, focused on good works, and more Unitarian than expected.

I agree with Paul Krugman, and here is one of the many good comments, I heartily recommended.

Tim Doran
Evanston, IL
Times Pick

Speaking as a very religious Christian, I hope and pray that the influence of American evangelicalism disappears as soon as possible. I much prefer that the influence of atheistic secularism increases because generally atheistic secularists do a far better job of following Jesus than does the typical American evangelical. Jesus explicitly condemned those who make a show of praying in public and those who oppress the poor. Trump’s evangelical supporters love to pray loud and long as they push for policies that oppress the poor and immigrants. Secular atheists obviously never pray in public and typically support policies that assist immigrants and the poor. This country would likely more closely follow the teachings of Jesus under the influence of secular atheism than under American evangelicalism.

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Opinion | Are School Debate Competitions Bad for Our Political Discourse? – The New York Times

By Jonathan Ellis and 

Dr. Ellis is a philosophy professor. Ms. Hovagimian is a law student.

CreditCreditRichie Pope

“What do conservative political figures like Ted Cruz, Steve Bannon, Karl Rove and Richard Nixon have in common with liberal politicians like Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Kamala Harris and Bill Clinton? They all honed their skills of rhetoric, reasoning and persuasion on school debate teams.

That’s no surprise. Excelling in school debate opens many academic and professional doors, conferring prestige and signaling exceptional verbal and logical aptitude. Some of those skills will no doubt be on display at the Democratic presidential primary debate on Tuesday.

But while school debate can be good for aspiring politicians, it may not be good for our politics. In particular, it may contribute to the closed-minded, partisan and self-interested nature of so much of today’s public and political dialogue.

Why? Because school debate ultimately strengthens and rewards biased reasoning.

In traditional debate competitions, teams are assigned at random to argue one or the other side of an issue. Each round, one team is assigned the affirmative view — say, “Recreational drug use should be legalized” — and the other team, the negative. That means teams start with a conclusion, whether they endorse it or not, and work backward from there, marshaling the best arguments they can devise to make that conclusion come out on top.

The goal is not to determine the most reasonable or fair-minded approach to an issue, but to defend a given claim at all costs. This is an exercise not in deliberation but in reasoning with an agenda.”

David Lindsay: This essay turned out to be the most challenging piece I read over the weekend.  It also highlights the value of the comments section of the Times, which I have become a fan of  The piece moved me to question the validity of my own daughter’s extraodinary experince on the Hamden High School debate team, where she became the Captain for two years.  I was a judge on two different 8 hour Saturdays, and was deeply moved and humbled by the experience.

The comments take apart the articulate essay above, with a hundred cuts, starting with this most recomended comment:

JT FLORIDA
Venice, FL

As a thirty year speech and debate coach at a public high school and now fifteen years beyond that with university students debating overseas, I disagree with with the conclusions of these authors. Debate is more than a training ground for lawyers and politicians. It is about building critical thinking skills not often taught in a regular school setting. Creating an environment to build confidence as a public person, acquiring research skills, teamwork, appreciation for multiple sides of an argument, putting oneself in the shoes of another by arguing a different perspective than their own are just a few benefits of debate. Debate is an academic sport. I was fortunate to witness one of my all female teams win a state championship in the late 70’s at a time when athletics were slow getting started in schools and debate typically was dominated by males. The authors should also get updated on the several debate styles being practiced in classrooms across the country. They refer to a policy-style team debate but now we have Lincoln Douglas Values debates, Public Forum Debates, parliamentary debates and others. True enough, lots of students become lawyers and politicians but I have seen many students engage in the activity because it has intrinsic value. I would invite them to locate a local high school or look up a high school tournament at a nearby university and volunteer to judge debates. I think it will change their views about school debates.

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Nancy Pelosi’s Last Battle – By Robert Draper – The New York Times

“Four days before the election that would return the Democratic Party to a majority in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi sat in a nearly empty restaurant on San Francisco’s Embarcadero late in the afternoon, drinking green tea and eating a chocolate sundae. “We have to be strategic in whatever we do,” the leader of the House Democrats said, considering the desire some in her party had to zealously investigate the Trump administration.

“In terms of subpoena power, you have to handle it with care,” Pelosi continued. “Yes, on the left there is a Pound of Flesh Club, and they just want to do to them what they did to us.” She shook her head emphatically. “That’s not who we are,” she said. “Go get somebody else if that’s who you want.”

Pelosi is nothing if not purposeful. The following day, rallying with Democratic candidates in a San Francisco park, she would wear an orange pantsuit, explaining to crowds that orange was “the color of gun-violence protection.” This afternoon she had booked a table at Delancey Street, a restaurant that was famous, she said, for employing ex-convicts: “Redemption,” she added emphatically, in case I might have missed the point.”

Famous story of Mayor Pete Buttigieg from Donald Zimmer MD

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage

from a post by Gary Rouillier on Facebook

From Donald Zimmer, an ER doctor in South Bend, which is right across the river from Mayor Pete’s house.

“Here is the story again of how I met Mayor Pete: happy to share if it convinces people to support to his campaign:

The first time I met Mayor Pete I was working in the ER, very shortly after finishing my residency and moving back to South Bend. I was caring for a little Somali boy who had nearly to hanged himself. We had no Arabic translator immediately available that could help me talk with his mother, and we were working on getting one of the phone translation services when a young man in a suit showed up and just started translating. I assumed the hospital had found and sent down an official translator because translators at the hospital where I did my residency training always wore suits. The boy was gravely ill, and I did not bother to ask who the new translator was, but he spent about an hour with the mother and I, just helping me talk with her about his treatment and his prognosis. Then he followed her and her son up to the ICU when the boy was admitted. During the whole event he never mentioned who he was or said anything to take the focus away from caring for this little boy and his family.

About an hour later he came down from the ICU and shook my hand before he left. I asked him how long he had been a translator with the hospital, and he very casually replied, “I don’t work for the hospital, I’m Mayor Pete.” He shook my hand and left without another word He had come and done what he needed to do and was on his way either home or back to work.

I learned later that he had simply heard over the police scanner that we needed an Arabic translator at the hospital for this tragic situation and just wanted to help. In addition to studying at Harvard, being a Rhodes scholar, working as a McKenzie consultant, he speaks fluent Arabic and worked for Navy intelligence in the Middle East. He is a pretty amazing guy, has done incredible work here in South Bend, and will do great things for the country I hope.”

David Lindsay:

From Peggy Bekeny from Trinity Church on the Green on Facebook.
I must confess, I’ve read this story about Pete Buttigieg before, and do not remember if I posted it last year. A critical limitation of Facebook, is that it doesn’t let you categorize and search your posts, like my blog InconvenientNews.net at wordpress does.

I did a search here, on Pete Buttigieg, and found all my posts, but couldn’t tell if this story was stuck in one of them or not. At any rate, its an old story from last year, but a good one.

Opinion | What Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“What’s at stake in the struggle between Nancy Pelosi and the four progressive House members known as the squad? Partly it’s just the perpetual conflict between younger members who want change fast and older members who say you have to deal with political reality.

But deep down it’s a conflict of worldviews. No matter how moderate or left, Democrats of a certain age were raised in an atmosphere of liberalism. I don’t mean the political liberalism of George McGovern. I mean the philosophic liberalism of people like Montaigne, John Stuart Mill, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass — people who witnessed religious and civil wars and built structures to restrain fanaticism.

Philosophic liberalism, Adam Gopnik explains in his essential book, “A Thousand Small Sanities,” begins with intellectual humility. There’s more we don’t know than we do know, so public life is a constant conversation that has no end. In the liberal view, each person contains opposites and contradictions. You flatten and dehumanize complex individuals when you see people according to crude dichotomies and assign them to tribal teams.

Liberals prefer constant incremental reform to sudden revolution. “Liberal reform, like evolutionary change, being incremental, is open to the evidence of experience,” Gopnik writes. Liberals place great emphasis on context. The question is not: What do I want? It’s: What good can I do in this specific circumstance?”

David Lindsay: I love this piece by David Brooks, because it puts the local fracas into a larger, historical framework that makes sense, and is ellegant. Not everyone agrees. Here is a comment I admired, that also counters the basic premis of Brooks’ slap on the wrist of the four young women of color.

Tad Ellsworth
Bolivar, Ohio
Times Pick

I have also read Gopnik’s treatise on Liberalism and I come away with a somewhat different take than Brooks. The so-called radicals of “the Squad” are working within the system to change it. They are elected members of Congress, and the last time I checked, they were not calling for a revolutionary overthrow of our liberal institutions, but reform of them through legislative action. While some may disdain AOC’s use of Twitter, she is communicating with both admirers and critics alike in the medium of her generation, and the debate over her policy ideas is vigorous. The left-wing critics of liberalism that Gopnik describes do not believe that liberal institutions are capable of affecting the kinds of changes, and certainly would not disdain to become duly elected members of Congress and to work within the system to change it for the better. While they may wish to move our liberal institutions toward greater egalitarianism than some may like, they are not looking to do away with those institutions. I see current progressives in Congress as being of the same vein of Thaddeus Stevens or Frederick Douglass or Susan B. Anthony, who may have been seen as radical in their time, but were believers in the reform of American liberal institutions, but doing so through Constitutional means. While “the Squad” may not be fighting for so noble a cause as the abolition of slavery or the enfranchisement of women, they are fighting to improve American liberal institutions, not to diminish them.

20 Replies861 Recommended

Opinion | What Happens When Our Leaders Lack Moral Courage

“Over the years, thousands of cadets at the United States Military Academy, myself included, have memorized and recited West Point’s Cadet Prayer. “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” the prayer goes, “and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

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Opinion |  – by The Big Story You Don’t Read AboutDavid Brooks – The New York Times

“My colleague David Bornstein points out that a lot of American journalism is based on a mistaken theory of change. That theory is: The world will get better when we show where things have gone wrong. A lot of what we do in our business is expose error, cover problems and identify conflict.

The problem with this is that we leave people feeling disempowered and depressed. People who consume a lot of media of this sort sink into this toxic vortex — alienated from people they don’t know, fearful about the future. They are less mobilized to take action, not more.

Bornstein, who writes for The Times and also co-founded the Solutions Journalism Network, says that you’ve got to expose problems, but you’ve also got to describe how the problems are being tackled. The search for solutions is more exciting than the problems themselves.

But many of our colleagues don’t define local social repair and community-building as news. It seems too goody-goody, too “worthy,” too sincere. It won’t attract eyeballs.

That’s wrong.

I’ve spent the past year around people who weave social fabric, and this week about 275 community weavers gathered in Washington, for a conference called #WeaveThePeople, organized by the Weave project I’ve been working on at the Aspen Institute.”

David Lindsay:

David Brooks, thank you for a lovely and profound op-ed. Reading this piece was one of the best parts of my day, and the comment by the Vietnam Veteran, who was saved by a weaver, is to die for. I hope you can weave more of current events into your narratives: climate change, the sixth extinction, income inequality, and forecasts of a future diminished by overpopulation and pollution.  You need to help preserve our environment, if you want to protect all the beautiful weavers.

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 a folk concert of songs and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | President Trump- Come to Willmar – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“. . .  That’s not what I’ve found. America is actually a checkerboard of towns and cities — some rising from the bottom up and others collapsing from the top down, ravaged by opioids, high unemployment among less-educated white males and a soaring suicide rate. I’ve been trying to understand why some communities rise and others fall — and so many of the answers can be found in Willmar.

The answers to three questions in particular make all the difference: 1) Is your town hungry for workers to fill open jobs? 2) Can your town embrace the new immigrants ready to do those jobs, immigrants who may come not just from Latin America, but also from nonwhite and non-Christian nations of Africa or Asia? And 3) Does your town have a critical mass of “leaders without authority”?”

Opinion | The Tawdry Trump-Nadler War – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

May 9, 2019, 828
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Representative Jerry Nadler went “there,” declaring the nation is in a “constitutional crisis.”CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Our system of checks and balances requires that political leaders hold two opposing ideas in their heads simultaneously. If you’re a political leader, the first is that your political opponents are wrong about many things and should be defeated in elections. The second is that you still need them. You need them to check your excesses, compensate for your blind spots and correct your mistakes.”

David Lindsay:  Brooks has the clearest argument I have heard, as to why the Democrats should slow down, and not jump into impeachment. They should hold their fire, until they have tried to get Robert Muller to testify, and hear what he has to say. David Leonhardt has warned that impeaching Trump prematurely will make him a martyr, and empower and rebuild his crumbling party.

Opinion | The Difference Between Happiness and Joy – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

An Arizona State University student prepared for graduation on Monday.CreditDeanna Dent/Arizona State University
“On Monday I was honored to speak to the graduating students at Arizona State University. It was an intimidating occasion. A.S.U. is the most innovative university in the world. Plus, there were 35,000 people in the football stadium.

Anybody speaking to college students these days is aware of how hard it is to be a young adult today, with rising rates of depression, other mental health issues, even suicide.

So while these talks are usually occasions to talk about professional life, my goal was to get them thinking about the future of their emotional lives, which is really going to be at the center of everything.

There are two kinds of emotion present at any graduation ceremony. For the graduating students there is happiness. They’ve achieved something. They’ve worked hard and are moving closer to their goals.”