Opinion | The Coronavirus and America’s Humiliation – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

“We Americans enter the July 4 weekend of 2020 humiliated as almost never before. We had one collective project this year and that was to crush Covid-19, and we failed.

On Wednesday, we had about 50,000 new positive tests, a record. Other nations are beating the disease while our infection lines shoot upward as sharply as they did in March.

This failure will lead to other failures. A third of Americans show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, according to the Census Bureau. Suspected drug overdose deaths surged by 42 percent in May. Small businesses, colleges and community hubs will close.

At least Americans are not in denial about the nation’s turmoil of the last three months. According to a Pew survey, 71 percent of Americans are angry about the state of the country right now and 66 percent are fearful. Only 17 percent are proud.

Americans are reacting in two positive ways. We’re seeing incredible shifts in attitudes toward race. Roughly 60 percent of Americans now believe that African-Americans face a great deal or a lot of discrimination. People have been waiting for a white backlash since the riots, or since the statues started toppling. There isn’t much if any evidence of a backlash. There’s evidence of a fore-lash.

Second, Americans have decided to get rid of Donald Trump. His mishandling of Covid-19 hurt him among seniors. His racist catcalls in a time of racial reckoning have damaged him among all groups.

I’ll be delighted when Trump goes, but it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t only because of Donald Trump that Americans never really locked down, and then started moving around again in late April.

It wasn’t Trump who went out to bars in Tempe, Austin and Los Angeles in June. It wasn’t Trump who put on hospital gowns and told the American people you could suspend the lockdown if your cause was just. Once you told people they could suspend the lockdown for one thing, they were going to suspend it for others.

Our fixation on the awfulness of Donald Trump has distracted us from the larger problems and rendered us strangely passive in the face of them. Sure, this was a Republican failure, but it was also a collective failure, and it follows a few decades of collective failures.”

Opinion | The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why. – By David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez – The New York Times

“The United States is different. In nearly every other high-income country, people have both become richer over the last three decades and been able to enjoy substantially longer lifespans.

But not in the United States. Even as average incomes have risen, much of the economic gains have gone to the affluent — and life expectancy has risen only three years since 1990. There is no other developed country that has suffered such a stark slowdown in lifespans.

Life expectancy and G.D.P. per capita 1990-2018″

Opinion | Refusing to Wear a Mask Is Like Driving Drunk – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“As the coronavirus rages out of control across much of the United States, Americans are acting curiously helpless.

If we had been this passive in 1776, we would still be part of Britain. Yet even as we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, we don’t seem willing to assert independence from a virus that in four months has killed more Americans than the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars did over 70 years.

Here’s the simplest of steps we could take: Wear a face mask.

In the United States, mask-wearing lags, particularly among men, compared with some other countries. A poll finds that many American men regard the wearing of face masks as “a sign of weakness,” and President Trump’s refusal to wear them has suggested that he perceives that masks are for wimps.

Trump may now be switching gears, for he told Fox Business on Wednesday that he’s “all for masks” and would wear one if he were “in a tight situation with people.” He shouldn’t waste time: He should tweet a photo of himself in a mask and call on supporters to wear masks as well. Refusing to cover one’s face is reckless, selfish behavior that imperils the economy and can kill or endanger innocent people.”

Opinion | “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other,” Should Be Biden’s Bumper Sticker – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

“I almost — but not quite — feel sorry for Donald Trump. He’s at war with two “invisible enemies” at once — the coronavirus and Joe Biden — and both remain highly elusive, the pathogen by nature and the politician by design.

Biden, who made a rare public appearance on Tuesday, has been wise to stay out of sight. Trump is now in a full-on race to the bottom with himself, pushing uglier and uglier positions that appeal to smaller and smaller segments of the American public. Why get in his way?

Of course, eventually Biden will debate the incumbent and will need a simple, clear message to counter Trump’s tired “Make America Great Again” trope.

I have an idea for Biden’s bumper sticker.

As I think about what kind of president Biden wants to be and what kind of president America needs him to be, the slogan that comes to mind was suggested to me by the environmental innovator Hal Harvey. Harvey didn’t know he was suggesting it; he just happened to sign off a recent email to me by writing: “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.”

David Lindsay: Thomas Friedman keeps getting great ideas from the environmentalist Hal Harvey, whose short plan for saving the planet is called the four zero’s, and has been incomporated into the show Kathleen and I present on nature and climate change.

Opinion | Why Do the Rich Have So Much Power? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Woody Harrington

“America is, in principle, a democracy, in which every vote counts the same. It’s also a nation in which income inequality has soared, a development that hurts many more people than it helps. So if you didn’t know better, you might have expected to see a political backlash: demands for higher taxes on the rich, more spending on the working class and higher wages.

In reality, however, policy has mostly gone the other way. Tax rates on corporations and high incomes have gone down, unions have been crushed, the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1960s. How is that possible?

The answer is that huge disparities in income and wealth translate into comparable disparities in political influence. To see how this works, let’s look at a fairly recent example: the budgetary Grand Bargain that almost happened in 2011.

At the time, Washington was firmly in the grip of deficit fever. Even though the federal government was able to borrow at historically low interest rates, everyone who mattered seemed to be saying that the budget deficit was the most important issue facing America and that it was essential to rein in spending on Social Security and Medicare.”

Opinion | Don’t Cancel That Newspaper Subscription – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Bill Welch/The Tennessean, via USA Today Network

“NASHVILLE — In 1954, a man called the city desk of The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily morning newspaper, to say he planned to take his own life by jumping from the Shelby Avenue Bridge. If the paper wanted the story, he said, they should send a reporter.

At the scene, a young journalist named John Seigenthaler spent 40 minutes talking with the man, who was sitting astride a gas pipe that ran beneath the bridge’s railing. When the man turned to look at the water below, Mr. Seigenthaler, one leg anchored in the bridge’s grillwork, reached down, grabbed him by the collar and held on till nearby police officers could haul him to safety. Today the historic bridge, which spans the Cumberland River, is known as the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in honor of the journalist who risked his life to save another’s — and got a front-page byline in the process.

Mr. Seigenthaler was a journalist with The Tennessean for 43 years. As the paper’s editor, he led its principled coverage of civil rights in spite of vocal white opposition. Nashville was the first major city in the South to desegregate public facilities, and The Tennessean’s fierce support of civil rights is often credited with contributing to the city’s relatively peaceful integration. “If it wasn’t for the newspaper, Nashville could’ve been a nasty, awful place,” said the former Tennessean columnist Dwight Lewis.

Mr. Seigenthaler died in 2014, and The Tennessean, like every other local newspaper in the country, is a shadow of its former self — smaller, thinner, slighter, diminished in every measurable way. Even before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy and took advertising revenue with it, The Tennessean had already endured round after round of layoffs as its parent company, Gannett, struggled. Its decline accelerated last year when Gannett merged with GateHouse Media, a company known for “the ransacking of local journalism,” as Boston Magazine put it.

I remind you of all this — the decades-old history of a newspaper known for advancing progressive causes and the recent history of a media company in thrall to corporate investors — to provide some context for an appalling advertisement that ran in The Tennessean on June 21.”

Opinion | These kids are done waiting for change – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Kristine Potter for The New York Times

“NASHVILLE — In real life, Nya Collins, Jade Fuller, Kennedy Green, Emma Rose Smith, Mikayla Smith and Zee Thomas had never met as a group when they came together on Twitter to organize a youth march against police violence. It was unseasonably hot, even for Middle Tennessee, with rain predicted, and earlier protests here had ended in violence, with the Metro Nashville Courthouse and City Hall in flames. Collectively, these are not the most promising conditions for gathering a big crowd, much less a calm one. But the teenagers were determined to press on, even if hardly anyone showed up.

On June 4, five days later, the founding members of Teens for Equality — as the young women, ages 14 to 16, call their organization — were leading a march of protesters some 10,000 strong, according to police estimates. “I was astonished,” Kennedy Green, 14, told me in a phone interview last week. “I did not know there were that many people in Nashville who actually see a problem with the system. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, there are so many people here who actually care.’”

The protesters, most in their teens and 20s, chanted “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace” and “Not one more” as they marched for more than five hours. There was not one hint of disarray in their ranks, no angry confrontations with National Guardsmen or police officers clad in riot gear.”

 

Opinion | America Is Facing 5 Epic Crises All at Once – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

“There are five gigantic changes happening in America right now. The first is that we are losing the fight against Covid-19. Our behavior doesn’t have anything to do with the reality around us. We just got tired so we’re giving up.

Second, all Americans, but especially white Americans, are undergoing a rapid education on the burdens African-Americans carry every day. This education is continuing, but already public opinion is shifting with astonishing speed.

Third, we’re in the middle of a political realignment. The American public is vehemently rejecting Donald Trump’s Republican Party. The most telling sign is that the party has even given up on itself, a personality cult whose cult leader is over.

Fourth, a quasi-religion is seeking control of America’s cultural institutions. The acolytes of this quasi-religion, Social Justice, hew to a simplifying ideology: History is essentially a power struggle between groups, some of which are oppressors and others of which are oppressed. Viewpoints are not explorations of truth; they are weapons that dominant groups use to maintain their place in the power structure. Words can thus be a form of violence that has to be regulated.

Fifth, we could be on the verge of a prolonged economic depression. State and household budgets are in meltdown, some businesses are failing and many others are on the brink, the continuing health emergency will mean economic activity cannot fully resume.

These five changes, each reflecting a huge crisis and hitting all at once, have created a moral, spiritual and emotional disaster. Americans are now less happy than at any time since they started measuring happiness nearly 50 years ago. Americans now express less pride in their nation than at any time since Gallup started measuring it 20 years ago.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I love this column by David Brooks, even though most of the criticism in the comments are are either correct, or have some merit. Basically, I have to agree with Brooks in general, while specifically, he rushed his writing, went too lightly on his Republican party, and continued to leave out climate change and the 6th extinction. How could such a brilliant, well read, and sensitive man, sound so blind to our poisoning of our own environment? And yet, in his defense, you can’t say everything in 800 words. In Hamden CT, there are new members of the Town Legislative Council who have many of the ugly traits that Brooks describes in the the social justice and politically correct movement. There is a profound truth in Brook’s statement, that the real work will be hard, long and feel boring, like on C-span, rather than flash mudslinging and cancelling on social media like on Instagram. You have to actually learn the details of local and state government, not just tear things up.

Opinion | Trump Is Feeding America’s Coronavirus Nightmare – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“President Trump says the coronavirus is “fading away” and pats himself on the back for “a great job on CoronaVirus” that saved “millions of U.S. lives.”

“It’s going away,” Trump said Tuesday at a packed megachurch in Phoenix where few people wore masks.

That’s what delusion sounds like. We need a Churchill to lead our nation against a deadly challenge; instead, we have a president who helps an enemy virus infiltrate our churches and homes. Churchill and Roosevelt worked to deceive the enemy; Trump is trying to deceive us.

For a reality check, look at this map by my colleague Nathaniel Lash showing how much of America is trending in the wrong direction.”

David Lindsay:  This dark op-ed reminds me that I read a piece about an actor discussing the teaching dialects. He said he had a favorite off color joke about giving someone a good Irish accent, only I don’t remember it well, something like, just say the following words quickly, and sort of run them together.
Weave,     beaf,      hooked.

 

Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“My favorite story in John Bolton’s book about the Trump Fun House — sorry, White House — was that President Trump appealed to China’s leader to buy more U.S. agricultural products to boost Trump’s farm vote and his re-election.

Donald: Stop begging. Both Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have decided to vote for you. Don’t worry!

They know that as long as you’re president, America will be in turmoil. For Xi, that means we’re a less formidable economic rival, and for Vlad, that means we’re a less attractive democratic model for his people. They also both know that as long as you’re president the U.S. will never be able to galvanize a global coalition of allies against them, which is what China fears most on trade, human rights and Covid-19 and Russia on Ukraine and Syria.

Don’t take it from me. Here’s what Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator and deputy representative in Geneva, told Bloomberg’s Peter Martin: “If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying U.S. alliances.”

Chinese officials, Martin reported, see a unified front on trade or human rights by the U.S. and its allies as “Washington’s greatest asset for checking China’s widening influence,” and Trump’s behavior ensures that will never come about.”

David Lindsay:

It has become clear to me that Bolten’s publisher sent free advance copies of his new book to every columnist at the NYT who writes about foreign policy ever. I should complain to my own publisher, and perhaps fire them, for not doing the same courtesy for my book, The Tay Son Rebellion!