Republican or Conservative- You Have to Choose – by David Brooks – NYT

“The never-Trumpers are having an interesting debate over the question, Is it time to leave the Republican Party? George Will and Steve Schmidt say yes: The Trumpian rot is all the way down. Bill Kristol says not so fast: Once Donald Trump falls, the party could be brought back to health, and the fight has to be within the party as well as without it.

My instinct is that we can clarify this debate by returning to first principles. Everybody in the conversation is conservative. Where do conservative loyalties lie? How can we serve those loyalties in these circumstances?

Conservatism, as Roger Scruton reminds us, was founded during the 18th-century Enlightenment. In France, Britain and the American colonies, Enlightenment thinkers were throwing off monarchic power and seeking to build an order based on reason and consent of the governed. Society is best seen as a social contract, these Enlightenment thinkers said. Free individuals get together and contract with one another to create order.

Conservatives said we agree with the general effort but think you’ve got human nature wrong. There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at NYT comments.
Bravo David Brooks, you are amazing. As my father liked to say, don’t let the bastards get you down. Folks! The civil rights movement of the 1050”s and 60’s had wonderful leaders from diverse backgrounds and parties. Martin Luther King was one of many black church leaders and civil rights activists. He was helped by the likes of John Lindsay, who co-authored the civil rights act while working in the attorney general’s office for President Eisenhower. Lindsay and small group of mostly liberal Republicans forced the Kennedys to bring the civil rights act to a vote, and Lyndon Johnson, then the Vice President, and a southern conservative Democrat, was a leader of the management that got the civil rights act passed. All of these historical facts support David Brooks’ deep thinking on these difficult subjects.

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

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He Called Out Sick-Then Apologized for Leaving This World (David Buckel) – The New York Times

“Domingo Morales was not initially concerned when he got a text message from his mentor, David S. Buckel, at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, calling out sick.

Twenty-five minutes, later, Mr. Buckel sent him an email: “I apologize for leaving this world early and leaving you with some big challenges to tackle. But I have to at least try to make this planet a better place for having lived on it.”

Mr. Buckel, a nationally known civil rights lawyer and, in his final decade, a master composter directing the sprawling site at the Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn, set himself on fire around dawn Saturday in Prospect Park. It was, according to his suicide letter, to make a statement about people protecting the environment.”

David Lindsay:  The New York Times, and some of the commentors, are conflicted as to whether this is a major protest by an environmentalist or the act of a sick and depressed person. I fault the NYT for not mentioning his protest for the environment in their first article on the 14th. I sense that this was a major protest, but if I am right, and it is not a story about depression and mental illness, it was sort of bungled. The Vietnamese buddhists who immolated themselves in Vietnam to protest the South Vietnamese Governments abuses and corruption, were organized to happen in front of the world’s media and television cameras. They got a lot of world attention to their protest. This quiet immolation at dawn, was more pure, but less politically successful. The NYT literally didn’t know what to make of it, when they first reported it in the article linked to below.

Lawyer Burns Himself to Death to Protest Environmental Destruction – by Lorraine Chow – Ecowatch.com

“David Buckel, 60, doused himself with an accelerant before starting a fire that ultimately killed him.

“I apologize to you for the mess,” he wrote in a suicide note he left in a shopping cart near his body, the Daily News reported.

In an emailed copy of the note the New York Times received, he said: “Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result—my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

The Times further reported:

In his note, which was received by the Times at 5:55 a.m., Mr. Buckel discussed the difficulty of improving the world even for those who make vigorous efforts to do so.

Privilege, he said, was derived from the suffering of others.

“Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help,” Mr. Buckel wrote, adding that donating to organizations was not enough.

Noting that he was privileged with “good health to the final moment,” Mr. Buckel said he wanted his death to lead to increased action. “Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purpose in death,” he wrote.

Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson, a lawsuit regarding Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska. Teena’s tragic story was the subject of the Oscar-winning 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry, starring Hilary Swank.”

Source: Lawyer Burns Himself to Death to Protest Environmental Destruction

Robert Kennedy’s eulogy for Martin Luther King

David Margolick wrote in an op-ed in the NYT today, that the eulogy below might well be the best speech Robert Kennedy ever delivered. There was no hyper-link to the speech, so I went and found it.

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

 

The following text is taken from a news release version of Robert F. Kennedy’s statement. For more information please contact Kennedy.Library@nara.gov or 617.514.1629.
JFKLIBRARY.ORG

Opinion | Jesse Jackson: How Dr. King Lived Is Why He Died – The New York Times

“As the nation prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we should dwell not merely on how Dr. King died but also on how he lived.

He mobilized mass action to win a public accommodations bill and the right to vote. He led the Montgomery bus boycott and navigated police terror in Birmingham. He got us over the bloodstained bridge in Selma and survived the rocks and bottles and hatred in Chicago. He globalized our struggle to end the war in Vietnam.

How he lived is why he died.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson ends this lovely op-ed:
“Dr. King bequeathed African-Americans the will to resist and the right to vote. Yet while we were marching and winning, the powers of reaction were regrouping, preparing a counterrevolution. Five decades ago, a segregationist governor, George Wallace, peddled hate and division in reaction to the civil rights movement. Today, it is the president himself who is inciting anguish, bigotry and fear.

We are in a battle for the soul of America, and it’s not enough to admire Dr. King. To admire him is to reduce him to a mere celebrity. It requires no commitment, no action. Those who value justice and equality must have the will and courage to follow him. They must be ready to sacrifice.

The struggle continues.”

What Holds America Together – by David Brooks – NYT

“Unity can come only from a common dedication to this experiment. The American consciousness can be formed only by the lab reports we give one another about that experiment — the jeremiads, speeches, songs and conversations that describe what the experiment is for, where it has failed and how it should proceed now.

One of my favorites of these lab reports is Walt Whitman’s essay “Democratic Vistas,” published in 1871. The purpose of democracy, Whitman wrote, is not wealth, or even equality; it is the full flowering of individuals. By dispersing responsibility to all adults, democracy “supplies a training school for making first class men.” It is “life’s gymnasium.” It forges “freedom’s athletes” — strong and equal women, courageous men, deep-souled people capable of governing themselves.”

“Whitman was not, however, pessimistic. He had worked as a nurse during the Civil War, watching men recover and die, and the experience had given him illimitable faith in the goodness of average citizens. Average American soldiers showed more fortitude, religious devotion and grandeur than all the storybook heroes, he wrote. They died not for glory, nor even to repel invasion, but out of gratitude to have been included in the American experiment. They died “for an emblem, a mere abstraction — for the life, the safety of the flag.”

Whitman spent his life trying to spiritualize democratic life and reshape the American imagination, to help working people see the epic heroism all around them that unites the American spirit.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval NYT Comments.
Wow. This is magnificent piece by David Brooks. I am sorry that so many of the comments tear him apart, without addressing the brilliant ideas he brings forth from the genius and heart of Walt Whitman.
I hate to sound snobby, but the comments section doesn’t seem to give this man a fair hearing, or to even understand the profundity of some his research and questioning. My father was a Lincoln scholar, who read Whitman, and it is a priviledge to hear some of Whitman’s extraordinary essay, and to contemplate his faith in and admiration of common people.
I almost wish that the comments section had a 4th tab, after: All, Readers Picks and NYT Picks, there should be another, called Mostly in Praise, or, In Support. This 4th tab, would be especially usefull when reading quickly through the angry mob of comments for David Brooks, or for instance, Brett Stephens. I love Socrates the commentor, but he makes a fool of himself, when he suggests that Abe Lincoln would be shocked by the scoundrels that have taken charge of the government today. Lincoln was famous for so many things, joke telling, brilliance, humor, wrestling, and especially his humility and sadness over the behavior of his fellow citizens. I recommend all six volumns of the Carl Sandberg biography. Now, we should read Whitman.
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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

Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas – by Peg Tyre – Newsweek

“Spend a few minutes on the phone with Danny Frankhuizen and you come away thinking, “What a nice boy.” He’s thoughtful, articulate, bright. He has a good relationship with his mom, goes to church every Sunday, loves the rock band Phish and spends hours each day practicing his guitar. But once he’s inside his large public Salt Lake City high school, everything seems to go wrong. He’s 16, but he can’t stay organized. He finishes his homework and then can’t find it in his backpack. He loses focus in class, and his teachers, with 40 kids to wrangle, aren’t much help. “If I miss a concept, they tell me, ‘Figure it out yourself’,” says Danny. Last year Danny’s grades dropped from B’s to D’s and F’s. The sophomore, who once dreamed of Stanford, is pulling his grades up but worries that “I won’t even get accepted at community college.”

His mother, Susie Malcom, a math teacher who is divorced, says it’s been wrenching to watch Danny stumble. “I tell myself he’s going to make something good out of himself,” she says. “But it’s hard to see doors close and opportunities fall away.”What’s wrong with Danny? By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn’t like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they’re a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, “has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy.” ”

Source: Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas

The Boys Are Not All Right – By MICHAEL IAN BLACK – NYT

“I used to have this one-liner: “If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes … order for him.” It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity — but it is.

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Thank you Micael Ian Black for a thoughtful set of observations and questions. Socrates calls it baloney, and he misfires which is unusual for him. I grew painfully aware of this difficult topic, when Newsweek ran a cover story on it, just before the magazine sold itself and went digital only. In that historic cover story, Newsweek reported that boys were falling seriously behind girls in elementary and high school, college, and even graduate school. It gave a host of negative national statistics and possible causes. A major cause might be the reduction of recesss and non varsity sports programs in school programs. Others included the natural addiction of young men to computer gaming and especially first person shooter games. In the grossly male hostile public schools of Hamden CT, I saw my two sons slowly decline, while my daughter thrived. What the Newsweek cover story brought to life, was that what we were experiencing in one family, was a national trend. Boys are in trouble, and the country is barely aware of the problem.
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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

The Real Campus Scourge – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“Across the country, college freshmen are settling into their new lives and grappling with something that doesn’t compete with protests and political correctness for the media’s attention, something that no one prepared them for, something that has nothing to do with being “snowflakes” and everything to do with being human.

They’re lonely.

In a sea of people, they find themselves adrift. The technology that keeps them connected to parents and high school friends only reminds them of their physical separation from just about everyone they know best. That estrangement can be a gateway to binge drinking and other self-destructive behavior. And it’s as likely to derail their ambitions as almost anything else.”

Thank you Frank Bruni for a great op-ed. Here is an good comment, only I don’t think it compliments Bruni enough before adding its helpful list of  tips for lonely college students.

OCPA

California 1 day ago

This article identifies the problem but doesn’t offer much in the way of practical advice. I worked for two different freshman orientation programs, for a combined total of four years, when I was an undergrad, and here are some practical tips for making a big school (mine was 30,000 students) or a small one feel less lonely:
– Sit in the same place in each of your classes each time you go. Introduce yourself to the people sitting nearby.
– Find out when and how to join on-campus clubs. My university had dozens of clubs and had a huge fair during the 2nd week of school where you could check out clubs. Join something. Show up to their activities. (You can also join an intramural sports team, a campus musical group, an amateur theater production, etc. etc. etc.)
– Go to parties in your dorm. Don’t drink too much. DO try to introduce yourself to several people at each event. “Hi, I’m NAME, I live on FLOOR NUMBER” is a fine start.
– Ask people who live near you in the dorms to go to the cafeteria with you.
– Find out about free stuff that happens on campus. Theater performances? The university symphony? Movie night? Interesting speakers? Go. It’s fine to go by yourself; even better if you invite someone you think you might want to be friends with.
– Leave the door of your dorm room open when you’re there. Be open to people wandering in to chat — or invite you to do things together.
– And ignore social media. Other people are lonely, too. It’s OK.

 

On a Portland Train- the Battlefield of American Values – by Nicholas Kristof

“The three were as different as could be. One was a 23-year-old recent Reed College graduate who had a mane of long hair and was working as a consultant. Another was a 53-year-old Army veteran with the trimmest of haircuts and a record of service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The third was a 21-year-old poet and Portland State University student on his way to a job at a pizzeria. What united the three was decency.

When they intervened, the man harassing the girls pulled a knife and slashed the three men before fleeing. Rick Best, the veteran, died at the scene. Taliesin Namkai-Meche, the recent Reed graduate, was conscious as he waited for an ambulance. A good Samaritan took off her shirt to cover him; she recounted that some of his last words were: “I want everybody on the train to know, I love them.” He died soon after arriving at the hospital.

Thank you Nicholas Kristof.

Here is the top comment, which I support, accept for the correction of Kristof, which is silly. The commentator needs to learn he can add, without putting down:

Tom San Jose 1 day ago

I thank Mr. Kristof for this article. I would argue that what we are confronting now is not so much a battlefield of American values, but more, a battlefield of human values. And many, many more of us need to step to the fore, as did these three disparate heroes.

I also feel compelled to take exception to Mr. Kristoff’s characterization of America as “leaderless, with nastiness and bullying ascendant,…” The problem is very much that this country has a leader who is a fascist, and is moving society in that direction. I feel we must not talk falsely, the hour has gotten late, to paraphrase Bob Dylan. Trump must be recognized for what he is, and for what he is calling forward in this society – it is an unbearable ugliness, and I fear we have not seen the worst of it by a long shot.

To defeat this is going to require many, many more heroes – all of us need to step out of our comfort zones.

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