Opinion | Let’s Agree Not to Kill One Another – by Bill McKibben – NYT

“But then the commenters went at it. One said: “Anybody got Bill McKibben’s home address? Let’s see how he really feels about ‘civil disobedience’ if it shows up at his front door.” Another added, “Give him a smack for me.” One or two tried to calm people down. But there was also this comment, from someone named “gnomish:” “There is a protocol worth observing: S.S.S. It stands for shoot, shovel and S.T.F.U. Hope that saves you some trouble.”

This “protocol” was left over from the right-wing fight against endangered species laws. If, say, a protected woodpecker was on your land, the “Three S’s” doctrine held that you should kill it, bury it and keep your mouth shut about it. It was, in this case, a public call for someone to murder me, and not long afterward another commenter, “Carbon Bigfoot,” supplied my home address.”

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Opinion | What if the Republicans Win Everything Again? – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“The end of Robert Mueller’s investigation. The loss of health insurance for several million people. New laws that make it harder to vote. More tax cuts for the rich. More damage to the environment. A Republican Party molded even more in the image of President Trump.

These are among the plausible consequences if the Republicans sweep the midterm elections and keep control of both the House and Senate. And don’t fool yourself. That outcome, although not the most likely one, remains possible. The last couple of weeks of polling have shown how it could happen.

Voters who lean Republican — including whites across the South — could set aside their disappointment with Trump and vote for Republican congressional candidates. Voters who lean left — including Latinos and younger adults — could turn out in low numbers, as they usually do in midterm elections. The Republicans’ continuing efforts to suppress turnout could also swing a few close elections. continuing efforts to suppress turnout could also swing a few close elections.”

David Lindsay: Yes. Ouch. Here is a comment I liked.

LT
Chicago
Times Pick

Choosing not to vote is choosing to remain silent politically. And silence is acceptance.

It’s not just acceptance of continued attacks on the safety net in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s not just acceptance of attacks on the rule of law to protect a corrupt politician.

Not voting is choosing to remain silent and accept that an openly racist President will continue to incite hatred and divisiveness and conspire with Republican legislatures and the judges they appointment, to disenfranchise voters who don’t look like them or vote like them, through voter suppression and gerrymandering.

“Voters who lean left — including Latinos and younger adults — could turn out in low numbers”

If so, that choice to remain silent, will be judged harshly.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. ”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Still true almost 60 years later.

Opinion | Desperately Seeking Principled Republicans – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Sure, there are still many principled individuals within the party, but as a national institution the Republican Party is hollow. It is no longer about an ideology; it’s about shining President Trump’s shoes. And that is the fundamental issue hanging over the midterm elections.

“The Republican Party must suffer repeated and devastating defeats,” Max Boot, a lifelong Republican until Trump’s election, writes in his new book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right.”

“It must pay a heavy price for its embrace of white nationalism and know-nothingism,” Boot continues. “Only if the G.O.P. as currently constituted is burned to the ground will there be any chance to build a reasonable center-right political party out of the ashes.”

Then there’s Andrew Sullivan, the conservative writer, who dismisses today’s Republican Party as “the party of corruption, propaganda, vote suppression, and barely masked bigotry.” He adds, “I despise it because I am conservative.” “

Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches | Hannah Waters – Audubon

Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches

A new report warns that we’re approaching the point of no return—a fact that close observers of nature have known for years.    By Hannah Waters  October 10, 2018

“On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a new report that reminded readers the world over of the hot, dire straits we’re now swimming in. Like most reports from the international organization, founded in 1988 by the World Meterological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme, it’s a massive summary of scientific research hitting on all the impacts of global warming that affect people and wildlife alike.”

David Lindsay: This is the best article to date that I have read, summarizing and digesting the devastating news in last Monday’s report by the IPCC on the latest forecast for destruction from just a 1.5 degree celsius increase in world temperature. Well done Hannah Waters for the Audubon Society.

Source: Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches | Audubon

Opinion | The Growing Crisis of Democracy – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“First, the United States has never gone through a prolonged period of minority democratic rule — that is, when a minority of enfranchised citizens held power over a majority for years on end. We’re not there yet. But as Klein notes, we have started down that path.

Second, the party now empowered by a minority of voters — the Republicans — is not merely playing by the rules. It is trying to change those rules to maintain power. It is preventing some citizens (usually those with dark skin) from voting, and it is changing campaign-finance laws.
That second point leads directly into a third: The rules governing our country have frequently changed over the last 230 or so years. The number of states has more than tripled. Women, African-Americans and 18-year-olds, among others, have gained the right to vote. In all, the constitution has been amended 27 times.

There is nothing extreme about responding to the Republican Party’s current efforts to restrict democracy with an ambitious effort to revitalize democracy. That effort could include: a federal law protecting voting rights; states laws that go even further to encourage voting; other laws to stop ludicrous gerrymandering; statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.; and much more. And I’d hope that many parts of the agenda would win support from voters of all stripes — Democratic, Republican and independent.

In the past, I’ve argued that the country’s two biggest challenges are climate change and the stagnation of living standards for most people. I now think that democracy protection and revitalization belong on that list.”

Opinion | Amazon’s Surrender Is Inspiring – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“There are two ways to fight the long stagnation in living standards for most Americans. The first is probably the more obvious and the one I spend more time writing about: through government policy.The government can raise the minimum wage. It can increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is effectively a wage subsidy. It can cut taxes on the middle class. It can spend more money on education, child care and health care. All of these are good ideas.But they’re not the only way to lift living standards. For much of the past century, another approach has been even more important: As the economy grew, American companies paid workers their fair share of the growth.”

Opinion | Oh No- Trump Is Buzzing! – by Gail Collins – NYT

“On Wednesday we had a Presidential Alert test. Did you hear it? Your cellphone probably started beeping madly. It was just a run-through to make sure you’d get the warning if some terrible disaster was headed your way.

You mean like Donald Trump?

No, no, no. We’re talking about hurricanes. Or maybe missiles. The Presidential Alert means he’s warning you, not shooting at you.

Are you sure? Because I was watching him at a couple of events over the last week and he seemed pretty darned … excitable.

No, I swear this isn’t a problem. The president doesn’t really send the alerts. It’s the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

DL: Yes, and here is the top comment:
Mike Roddy
Alameda, CaOct. 3
We recently returned from three weeks in Paris, where we had plenty of chances to ask the French what they thought was going on in America. The main response was not horror, but sadness, and pity for a country whose people have to answer to someone with the mind of a delinquent teenage boy.

The French have been there before to some extent: the Bourbons, Napoleon, even Petain, Hitler’s puppet during the Nazi Occupation.
What they and most other countries have never encountered is a global leader who tells lies every day of his life, and openly fantasizes about suppressing democracy and good deeds any way he can.

Trump is such an easy target that they don’t much bother to attack him. Instead, look at us with sadness, while offering condolences.

The Republicans can do vast damage between now and 2020, and given election chicanery and Fox/Sinclair/Limbaugh, they might stick around longer. The biggest danger for the American economy is that our “brand” is now in tatters. Forget about finding allies for another failed occupation. We won’t even be able to sell Crest toothpaste or Mattel toys abroad. When that happens, it will be too late.

The best hope is a new and transformative leader in 2020, one who won’t pull punches about the horrors of Trump/Republican/corporate rule and will be willing to make drastic changes. First step: do something serious about onrushing global warming, and show the rest of the world that we stand with all of them.

690 Recommended

Opinion | The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh. Signed- 1700+ Law Professors (and Counting). – The New York Times

The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh
Signed, 1,700+ Law Professors (and Counting)
OCT. 3, 2018
“The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received.

Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.

The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

If the Senate confirms Kavenaugh to the Supreme Court, it will be one of the lowest points in American History that I could point to. Not only is this candidate a partisan without the proper temperament, but he is in this position because Mitch McConnell refused to let Obama’s spectacular choice, Merrick Garland, come to a vote. A full breach of law and order and decorum. It is not clear our country will ever recover completely from this descent into partisan and unconstitutional rubbish. The silver lining isn’t so great. There will be a blue wave to wash out the Augean Stables, that will be so severe, we will need to recreate an opposition party of merit, to replace the debauched, anti-science and anti-democratic Republican Party.

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Opinion | The American Civil War- Part II – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“I began my journalism career covering a civil war in Lebanon. I never thought I’d end my career covering a civil war in America.We may not be there yet, but if we don’t turn around now, we will surely get where we’re going — which was best described by Senator Jeff Flake on Monday: “Tribalism is ruining us. It is tearing our country apart. It is no way for sane adults to act.”

Sure, we’ve experienced bouts of intense social strife since the American Civil War of 1861. I grew up with the assassination of Martin Luther King and raging street battles over civil rights and Vietnam. And yet this moment feels worse — much less violent, blessedly, but much more broadly divisive. There is a deep breakdown happening between us, between us and our institutions and between us and our president.”

“. . . . .  It would be easy to blame both sides equally for this shift, noted Ornstein, but it is just not true. After the end of the Cold War, he said, “tribal politics were introduced by Newt Gingrich when he came to Congress 40 years ago,” and then perfected by Mitch McConnell during the Barack Obama presidency, when McConnell declared his intention to use his G.O.P. Senate caucus to make Obama fail as a strategy for getting Republicans back in power.

They did this even though that meant scuttling Obama’s health care plan, which was based on Republican ideas, and even though that meant scuttling long-held G.O.P. principles — like fiscal discipline, a strong Atlantic alliance, distrust of Russian intentions and a balanced approach to immigration — to attract Trump’s base.

Flake, the departing Arizona Republican, called this out this week: “We Republicans have given in to the terrible tribal impulse that first mistakes our opponents for our enemies. And then we become seized with the conviction that we must destroy that enemy.”

The shift in the G.O.P. to tribalism culminated with McConnell denying Obama his constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court justice with almost a year left in Obama’s term. As NPR reported: “Supreme Court picks have often been controversial. There have been contentious hearings and floor debates and contested votes. But to ignore the nominee entirely, as if no vacancy existed? There was no precedent for such an action since the period around the Civil War.”

Image

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has been an opponent of bipartisan governance.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

In a speech in August 2016, McConnell boasted: “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.’”

That was a turning point. That was cheating. What McConnell did broke something very big. Now Democrats will surely be tempted to do the same when they get the power to do so, and that is how a great system of government, built on constitutional checks and balances, strong institutions and basic norms of decency, unravels.”

Opinion | Save Us  Texas – Here comes Beto O’Rourke – Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“On Saturday night, at the end of a hideous week in American politics, there was an unfamiliar feeling in Austin, Tex.: hope. More than 50,000 people streamed into a city park to hear music legend Willie Nelson perform at a rally with Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic congressman from El Paso who is running a strikingly competitive race against oleaginous ghoul Ted Cruz. Many were young — Nelson’s set started after 10 p.m. — wearing Beto T-shirts and waving Beto flags. Nearby, a packed restaurant advertised “Beto beer.” In the air was that slightly delirious energy you feel when a political campaign becomes a movement.

Shortly before the rally, I watched Evan Smith, chief executive and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, interview O’Rourke onstage at a nearby auditorium. It was uncanny how much the candidate recalled Barack Obama circa 2008, and not just because of his gawky magnetism. Like Obama, O’Rourke is unapologetically progressive but offers a vision of post-partisan national unity. He treats his audience as too savvy for political clichés. When Smith asked him if he planned to go negative against Cruz, he mocked attack ads with distorted pictures and ominous music. “We’re sick of that stuff,” he said, except he used a saltier term than “stuff.”

Like Obama, O’Rourke is running on hope over fear; he exudes compassion and speaks about “power and joy.” Christine Allison, a Republican-turned-independent, is president of the company that publishes D Magazine, a city magazine for Dallas, and one of O’Rourke’s ardent supporters. “He listens,” she told me, saying that he has what Christians sometimes call a “servant-leader approach to politics.” “