David Lindsay on Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address

InconvenientNews.Net  1/22/21   That was quite an exciting day on January 20th.  I’m absolutely joyous, to be living now in the Biden era. I hope you all saw his inauguration, and the evening concert. They were inspiring.

The day was not without controversy. Two women of color on MSNBC and another network thought that the young poet upstaged Joe Biden. I thought Joe gave the best speech of his career, and the speech will be famous.

My sister Marney Morrison replied, “Re Joe Bidon and Amanda Gorman. Both are true – excellent speech and she was the best performer of the day – didn’t diminish him though – all the talent he attracted just raised his event up and amplified him and his administration.”

David Brooks wrote in the NYT today, that his favorite passage was this: “ “Here is the thing about life: There is no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days you need a hand; there are other days when we are called to lend a hand.” The Biden values are there: humility, vulnerability, compassion, resilience, interdependence, solidarity. Donald Trump’s patriotism was bloated and fear-based. Biden’s is the self-confident patriotism he absorbed by growing up in a certain sort of country during the American century.”

I hear in that historic speech, a dozen or so beautiful sentences or paragraphs. Hear are my favorite parts.   “We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.

We look ahead in our uniquely American way — restless, bold, optimistic — and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be. I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here.  I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

“. . . I have just taken the sacred oath each of these patriots took — an oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.  On “We the People” who seek a more perfect Union.”

“. . . Few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.

In another January in Washington, on New Year’s Day 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  When he put pen to paper, the President said, “If my name ever goes down into history it will be for this act and my whole soul is in it.”     My whole soul is in it.”

“. . . And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh. All of us. Let us listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And, I believe America is better than this.”

“. . . Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we love that define us as Americans? I think I know. Opportunity. Security. Liberty. Dignity. Respect. Honor. And, yes, the truth.

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

“. . . So here is my message to those beyond our borders: America has been tested and we have come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example. We will be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security. We have been through so much in this nation.

And, in my first act as President, I would like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those we lost this past year to the pandemic. To those 400,000 fellow Americans – mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We will honor them by becoming the people and nation we know we can and should be. Let us say a silent prayer for those who lost their lives, for those they left behind, and for our country. Amen.

This is a time of testing. We face an attack on democracy and on truth. A raging virus. Growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis.

America’s role in the world. (Oops, right here the speech writer chickened out or ducked. Everyone gets to finish this opaque bullet point they way they like. Did they mean, America’s role in the world –diminished, or co-0pted by Vladimir Putin? I think they are probably saying, damaged by Donald Trump, without saying it.)

Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities. Now we must step up. All of us. It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do.

And, this is certain. We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era. Will we rise to the occasion? Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children? I believe we must and I believe we will.”

David Lindsay:    I think that last paragraph above is my favorite. I love “cascading crises,” which echos the most ominous term in climate science, “cascading events.”  Cascading events are what will probably end life as we know and love it on this planet, if we continue to party and overpopulate and pollute. The most famous example that comes to mind, is that the melting of the frozen tundras of the world, causes the release of millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane, which will lead to more global warming, leading to more melting  . . . . .  et cetera.  Scientist have warned for years that we are starting what might someday soon (?) be an unstoppable, cascading chain of events. Joe Biden gets it. He is begging our anti-science fellow citizens to listen to the scientists.

Politico:  “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation,” President Joe Biden said.

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans. This is America’s day. . . .

Source: Full text: Joe Biden inauguration speech transcript – POLITICO

Marie Kondo Talks About Tidying Up in 2021 and Her New Product Launch – The New York Times

It was perhaps inevitable that Marie Kondo, the one-time Shinto shrine maiden turned tidiness guru and media powerhouse, would expand her organizing business into products.

Yet her first embrace of consumerism more than a year ago roiled the internet, which cried foul as she began selling an array of minimalist objects — housewares, decorative items and organizing supplies — that included pink suede slippers, a boar-bristle broom set and, most notably, a tuning fork presented as a “reset” tool, the ping of which one imagined was the actual sound of “sparking joy,” Ms. Kondo’s trademark phrase.

It was a spare (ish) collection, however. Her latest foray is expansive: 100 organizing objects in a collaboration with — wait for it — the Container Store.

This is the second blockbuster alliance between the retailer and what we might call organizing media. Last year the Container Store partnered with the Home Edit, the Tennessee-based company responsible for Khloé Kardashian’s hair extension closet — an Instagram sensation the writer Amanda FitzSimons likened to an art installation about late-stage capitalism. If Ms. Kondo’s ethos of aspirational organization leans toward emotional and moral clarity — a transformative act, as she often points out — the Home Edit, which uses the colors of the rainbow as its organizing principle, is the equivalent of flashing a logo. (“Conscientious luxury” is how Pam Danziger, a marketing expert, would define both efforts, a trend on point for 2021.)

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NY Times Comment:
Someone who knows me, asked me to read her little book on tidying up the house. It was good advice, and I resolved to try harder. One of her neat ideas, hold up each individual x, a book in the library, a record or CD, and ask, does this item give me joy? If it doesn’t, give it up. She obviously isn’t a writer and historian with archival instincts. Yet, I know that the internet has made most of my archives obsolete. What really keeps me from cleaning up? I’d rather read the NY Times and its competitors and blog about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Also, deep down inside, I know that the easiest way to really clean up, is to die, and the ones who follow will less anguish than I over my multitude of collections.

 Jeff Flake: ‘Trump Can’t Hurt You. But He Is Destroying Us.’ – NYT

Mr. Flake is a former Republican senator from Arizona.

Credit…Gary Hershorn/Reuters

“Today, in what is meant to be a solemn ritual of democracy, Congress meets in joint session to consecrate the will of the American people and mark the election of Joe Biden as president.

Unfortunately, President Trump refuses to accept the reality of his substantial loss, and so becomes determined to create an alternate reality in which he won. As he crosses that rubicon, Mr. Trump has taken many in my party with him, all of whom seem to have learned the wrong lessons from this anomalous presidency. George Orwell, after all, meant for his work to serve as a warning, not as a template.

How many injuries to American democracy can my Republican Party tolerate, excuse and champion? It is elementary to have to say so, but for democracy to work one side must be prepared to accept defeat. If the only acceptable outcome is for your side to win, and a loser simply refuses to lose, then America is imperiled.

I once had a career in public life — six terms in the House of Representatives and another six years in the Senate — and then the rise of a dangerous demagogue, and my party’s embrace of him, ended that career. Or rather, I chose not to go along with my party’s rejection of its core conservative principles in favor of that demagogue. In a speech on the Senate floor on Oct. 24, 2017, I announced that because of the turn my party had taken, I would not run for re-election: the career of a politician that is complicit in undermining his own values doesn’t mean much.

Opinion | 2020 Taught Us How to Fix This – By David Brooks – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Illustration by Michael Houtz; photographs by Getty Images

“This is the year that broke the truth. This is the year when millions of Americans — and not just your political opponents — seemed impervious to evidence, willing to believe the most outlandish things if it suited their biases, and eager to develop fervid animosities based on crude stereotypes.

Worse, this was the year that called into question the very processes by which our society supposedly makes progress.

So many of our hopes are based on the idea that the key to change is education. We can teach each other to be more informed and make better decisions. We can study social injustices and change our behavior to fight them.

But this was the year that showed that our models for how we change minds or change behavior are deeply flawed.”

How Did Jon Ossoff, 33, Get Within Reach of a Senate Seat? – The New York Times

“Jon Ossoff was 16 years old when he wrote a letter to John Lewis, the Georgia congressman and civil rights pioneer, that led to a spot as a volunteer in Mr. Lewis’s office.

When Mr. Ossoff was 19 and a rising sophomore at Georgetown, he went to work for Hank Johnson as the primary speechwriter and press aide for Mr. Johnson’s 2006 congressional campaign.

And Mr. Ossoff was 26 when, without any journalism experience other than an internship, he was made chief executive of a small documentary film company based in England.

Mr. Ossoff has always been adept at making his own breaks. He has consistently outperformed his professional résumé, impressing lawmakers many years his senior with his intellect and drive. And he has capitalized on his own well-off upbringing and a series of well-timed introductions and personal endorsements to rise through Democratic politics in Georgia.”

Opinion | The Forgotten Radicalism of Jesus Christ – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Bridgeman Images

“Get used to different.”

That line comes from a marvelous new TV series on Jesus’ life, “The Chosen,” in which Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, invites Matthew to become one of his disciples. Simon Peter, already a disciple, registers his fierce objection. Matthew is a tax collector, who were viewed as tools of Roman authorities, often dishonest and abusive. They were therefore treated as traitors and outcasts by other Jews.

“I don’t get it,” Simon Peter says to Jesus about his decision to invite Matthew, to which Jesus responds, “You didn’t get it when I chose you, either.”

“But this is different,” Simon Peter answers. “I’m not a tax collector.” At which point Jesus let’s Simon Peter know things aren’t going to be quite what his followers expected.

First-century Christians weren’t prepared for what a truly radical and radically inclusive figure Jesus was, and neither are today’s Christians. We want to tame and domesticate who he was, but Jesus’ life and ministry don’t really allow for it. He shattered barrier after barrier.

One example is Jesus’ encounter, in the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus and the woman talked about Jesus being the Messiah, why he was even deigning to talk with her, and the unnamed woman’s past and present, which she initially sought to hide from Jesus. (It included her five previous husbands, according to the account in John, and the fact that “the one whom you now have is not your husband.”) Yet not a word of condemnation passed the lips of Jesus; the woman felt heard, understood, cared for. Jesus treated her, in the words of one commentator, “with a magnetic dignity and respect.”

The encounter with Jesus transformed her life; after it the woman at the well became “the first woman preacher in Christian history,” proclaiming Jesus to be the savior of the world to her community, according to the New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey.

This story is a striking example of Jesus’ rejection of conventional religious and cultural thinking — in this case because Jesus, a man, was talking earnestly to a woman in a world in which women were often demeaned and treated as second-class citizens; and because Jesus, a Jew, was talking to a Samaritan, who were despised by the Jews for reasons going back centuries. According to Professor Bailey, “A Samaritan woman and her community are sought out and welcomed by Jesus. In the process, ancient racial, theological and historical barriers are breached. His message and his community are for all.”

This happened time and again with Jesus. He touched lepers and healed a woman who had a constant flow of menstrual blood, both of whom were considered impure; forgave a woman “who lived a sinful life” and told her to “go in peace,” healed a paralytic and a blind man, people thought to be worthless and useless. And as Jesus was being crucified, he told the penitent thief on the cross next to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus was repeatedly attacked for hanging out with the wrong crowd and recruited his disciples from the lower rungs of society.”

Trump Is Losing His Mind – The Atlantic

Beyond that, and more fundamental than that, we have to remind ourselves that we are not powerless to shape the future; that much of what has been broken can be repaired; that though we are many, we can be one; and that fatalism and cynicism are unwarranted and corrosive.

There’s a lovely line in William Wordsworth’s poem “The Prelude”: “What we have loved, Others will love, and we will teach them how.”

There are still things worthy of our love. Honor, decency, courage, beauty, and truth. Tenderness, human empathy, and a sense of duty. A good society. And a commitment to human dignity. We need to teach others—in our individual relationships, in our classrooms and communities, in our book clubs and Bible studies, and in innumerable other settings—why those things are worthy of their attention, their loyalty, their love. One person doing it won’t make much of a difference; a lot of people doing it will create a culture.

Maybe we understand better than we did five years ago why these things are essential to our lives, and why when we neglect them or elect leaders who ridicule and subvert them, life becomes nasty, brutish, and generally unpleasant.

Just after noon on January 20, a new and necessary chapter will begin in the American story. Joe Biden will certainly play a role in shaping how that story turns out—but so will you and I. Ours is a good and estimable republic, if we can keep it.

Source: Trump Is Losing His Mind – The Atlantic

A Dinner, a Deal and Moonshine: How the Stimulus Came Together – The New York Times

“A week before Thanksgiving, a small group of moderate senators gathered in the spacious living room of Senator Lisa Murkowski’s home on Capitol Hill to embark on what they considered an urgent assignment.

They were there — eating Tuscan takeout as they sat socially distanced, with the windows open to let the cold air circulate as a coronavirus precaution — to talk about how to get the Senate, polarized and paralyzed on nearly every issue, working again.

They were also determined to find a way to deliver a more immediate kind of relief, brainstorming how to break a monthslong partisan stalemate over providing a new round of federal aid to millions of Americans and businesses buckling under the economic weight of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Opinion | Mark Shields and the Best of American Liberalism – By David Brooks – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist,  Dec. 17, 2020

“Every Friday evening for the last 19 years, Mark Shields and I have gathered to talk politics on the “PBS NewsHour.” When people come up to me to discuss our segment, sometimes they mention the things we said to each other, but more often they mention how we clearly feel about each other — the affection, friendship and respect. We’ve had thousands of disagreements over the years, but never a second of acrimony. Mark radiates a generosity of spirit that improves all who come within his light.

This week, at 83, and after 33 years total on the show, Mark announced he was stepping back from his regular duties. Friday will be our final regular segment together. I want to not only pay tribute to him here, but also to capture his conception of politics, because it’s different from the conception many people carry in their heads these days.

We are all imprinted as children and young adults with certain ideas about the world, which stay with us for the rest of our lives. Mark, like many who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s — including Joe Biden — was imprinted with the idea that politics is a deeply noble profession, a form of service, a vocation.

Mark’s father was the first Catholic to serve on their town’s school board. The first time he saw his mother cry was when Adlai Stevenson lost to Dwight Eisenhower. Mark went off to Notre Dame and then served in the Marine Corps, before working as a congressional aide.

This was the mid-60s. Evidence that government worked was all around. The G.I. Bill had worked, though mostly for whites. Mark had served with Black Marines because Harry Truman had the courage to integrate the military. Mark saw the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

There was never a moment when passing this stuff was easy, but everybody took for granted the legitimacy of the system, treasured the country and the way it worked. “The two hallmarks of American politics are optimism and pragmatism,” Mark told me this week, pointing to the optimism of F.D.R., J.F.K. and Ronald Reagan.

To this day Mark argues that politics is about looking for converts, not punishing heretics. You pass bills and win campaigns by bending to accommodate those whose votes can be gotten.

He went on to work on and run political campaigns, for people like Bobby Kennedy and Ed Muskie. He came to deeply respect those he worked to elect, including presidential candidate Mo Udall: “Just a great human being.” Vice-presidential candidate Sargent Shriver: “He had the best relations with his family of any candidate I have known. His kids revered him.” And Gov. Jack Gilligan of Ohio: He “believed in us more than we believed in ourselves.”

After decades in journalism, Mark still puts the character lens before the partisan lens. He has been quick to criticize Democrats when they are snobbish, dishonest or fail to live up to the standards of basic decency — often infuriating some of our viewers.

I don’t know if it was midcentury liberalism or the midcentury record of the Boston Red Sox, but Mark instinctively identifies with the underdog. Every year he invites me to do an event with him with Catholic social workers. These are people who serve the poor and live among the poor. They have really inexpensive clothing and really radiant faces, and in their lives you see the embodiment of an entire moral system, Catholic social teaching, which has its service arm and, in Mark, its political and journalistic arm.”   . . . . .

Through out the Trump presidency, my lady and I have stayed tuned to the PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff, which we tape, and often watch in the middle of dinner. During the pandemic, we became more faithful, and our favorite nights were Friday, ending with Mark Shields and David Brooks, and the weekends, reduced to 30 minutes, and with the firm thoughtful voice of Hari Sreenivasan. 30 minutes requires better discipline, and Sreenivasan often covers climate change around the world. Shields and Brooks have been spectacular, if you can follow Shields, who speaks quickly and mumbles. But tonight is his last regular appearance. Mark Shields is retiring at the age of 83. As this Brooks essay reveals, Mark Shields has the heart and ballast of a saint, and he speaks with the wit and intelligence of general. Please join Kathleen and me, in watching the final 10 minutes of regularly scheduled Shields and Brooks, sometime between 7 and 8 pm, Eastern Time.

Here is a comment I strongly recommended:

Socrates
Downtown Verona, NJDec. 17

A beautiful, poignant ode to a friend. And we should also note a very important context. The “PBS NewsHour” is still a reflection of the way news was reported for many decades in this country before the rise of cable TV and partisan news. The “PBS NewsHour” has always practiced – and still practices – the Fairness Doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission that was introduced in 1949 that required the holders of broadcast licenses to present policy issues of public importance and to do so in an honest, equitable, and balanced manner. When the FCC eliminated the Fairness Doctrine policy in 1987 under Republican Ronald Reagan, it precipitated a long slow decline of news quality and accelerated the flow of one-sided opinion, misinformation and disinformation that passes for ‘news’ today. Had the Fairness Doctrine remained in place, Americans would be much better informed, less polarized and much more willing to forge common political ground to move the nation forward with good old-fashioned boring public policy that is more than an empty basket of tax cuts. Shields and Brooks always represented respectful ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ perspectives. Restoring the Fairness Doctrine would be good for the country and our national sanity.

14 Replies1223 Recommended

Opinion | The Deep State Is on a Roll – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

“President Trump was right about the “deep state” — sort of. There exist, in government, people and forces rigged to foil disruption.

But the deep state isn’t, as he suggested, a reflexive defense of a corrupt status quo. It’s a righteous defense against the corruption of democracy, which he continues to attempt.

And that defense is holding. Three cheers for the deep state, which has been on a roll these past three weeks.

I’m thinking of Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, who supervises its elections. He refused to cry foul and fraud just because others in his party couldn’t abide Joe Biden’s victory in a state that hadn’t gone to a Democrat in a presidential election for nearly three decades.

“People are just going to have to accept the results,” he told The Washington Post. “I’m a Republican. I believe in fair and secure elections.” He ordered a recount, but as President Trump, the two U.S. senators from Georgia and plenty of others on the right pilloried him, he stuck to his assurance that a fair and secure election was precisely what Georgians had participated in and what had delivered the state’s electoral votes to Biden.

He was bolstered on Tuesday by another top-ranking Georgia official, another Republican not about to let the republic go to hell. Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, scolded and shamed Trump at a news conference at the state Capitol, warning the president that his unwarranted smearing of the balloting in Georgia was “inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” and that “someone is going to get killed.”

“It has to stop,” he said. That was the deep state speaking, and its words were gold.

Raffensperger and Sterling are hardly the only Republican election officials who have refused to buy into Trump’s conspiracy theories. They have restored some of the faith and hope in me that the past four years eroded.

So have Lee Chatfield, the Republican speaker of Michigan’s House of Representatives, and Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader of Michigan’s Senate, who took that scary trip to the White House almost two weeks ago and then took a pass on propping up Trump.

“We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and, as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors,” they said in a joint statement immediately following their meeting with the president. Follow the normal process. Such milquetoast verbiage, and such a titanic reassurance.”