Showdown Vote in Senate on Friday With Government Shutdown at Stake – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Senate is heading toward a showdown vote on Friday on legislation to keep the government open past midnight, and Democrats appear ready to block it, gambling that a weakened President Trump will have to offer concessions in the face of a looming government crisis.

After the House cleared stopgap spending legislation on Thursday that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16, Senate Republicans are set to test whether Democrats will make good on their promise to move the government toward a shutdown. But Democrats appear intent on securing concessions that would, among other things, protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, increase domestic spending, aid Puerto Rico and bolster the government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

And they hope that Mr. Trump, scorched by the firestorm prompted by his vulgar, racially tinged comments on Africa last week, will be forced back to the negotiating table.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Democrats should not participate in shutting down the govenment. The GOP will never let the public forget about it. Shutting down the govetnment over DACA, which is playing a major identity politics card, is political madness, even if it is morally and economically correct. Democrats, don’t pander to your base, when you want to own the center. In that sin, you mimic the Republicans, who have dishonored themselves and the country, by ignoring or obfuscating the meddling by Russia in our elections, and by turning the EPA against its own mission of protecting the environment, and of protecting Americans and all people and species from life-threatening pollution.
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David Lindsay Jr. blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

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A Democratic Chorus Rises in the Senate: ‘Franken Should Resign’ – NYT – He Shouldn’t Yet – David Lindsay Jr

“WASHINGTON — Support for Al Franken all but collapsed on Wednesday among his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, with dozens calling for him to resign after a sixth woman said he had made an improper advance on her.

“Senator Franken should resign,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said Wednesday evening, the latest in an avalanche of statements that began with a half-dozen Democratic women and then snowballed throughout the day. “I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately.”

Mr. Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, has scheduled an announcement on his future in the Senate for Thursday, and he pushed back on a Minnesota Public Radio report that he would be resigning. “No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family,” his office said on Twitter.”

David Lindsay Jr: Al Franken should not resign at this time. There are many good comments to that effect in the comments section, such as:

Parker NY 20 hours ago   NYT Pick
Did I miss something? Have the accusations escalated beyond insulting, immature behavior in public settings? This is what these senators find not merely worthy of condemnation but resignation? Good grief. Franken has been a remarkable public servant and we owe the Mueller investigative to his prescient questioning of Jeff Sessions. While I’d agree none of that would matter if he’d been revealed to be of low moral character, that is not the case here and has never been suggested. Bad behavior is equal to predation? There is no gray area, no rehabilitation, no apology suffices? This is extremism of the worst kind. I’m shocked that my senator and women I’ve long admired have revealed themselves to be either so simplistic or so politically craven.

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NYT Pick
Gary Sloane
20 hours ago
Just a hypothetical question or two here:

What if the Senate Ethics Committee examines the allegations and Franken’s behavior and issues a mild reprimand, or even “censure”? Does he still need to go? Should he be forced out before that can happen?

Where is the line between a dumb prank like the USO tour photo — wrong, offensive, not funny — and child molestation and other forms of actual sexual assault?

To me, there’s a world of difference between the behavior of Al Franken and the likes of Donald Trump, Roy Moore or even, not to be partisan, Anthony Wiener.

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NYT Pick
Rick Gage Mt Dora 21 hours ago
This false moral equivalence that the Democratic Senators are imposing on a man who has called for his own ethics inquiry so we can gauge the credibility of his accusers will not help in the greater attempt to shine a light on sexual harassers. It just trivializes the greater harm done to those with legitimate claims of forced intimacy and job discrimination. If they think using Sen. Franken as a sacrificial lamb will assuage the Republicans who are claiming this false equivalence they are surely mistaken. This makes them look panicked, unreasonable and reactionary. If the accusers were truly harmed I agree he should go but he has denied these claims and the Senators are calling for him to be burned at the stake before we know whether this is a witch hunt or not.
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Be Strategic- Not Impulsive- on North Korea – Thomas Friedman – NYT

“Bader, who has served multiple administrations in diplomatic and policy jobs related to China and is now a private consultant, begins by asking the best question any American strategist could ask when thinking about how to deter a nuclear-armed foe: What would George Kennan do?

Kennan was the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union, which had tens of thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at us for roughly half a century.

Kennan, argues Bader, would grasp that “while some situations may be unacceptable, they do not lend themselves to short-term fixes. The North Korean challenge is one of them.” ”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT comments.

Great column Thomas Friedman. I loved your proposal. “What should the American proposal say? It should tell the North Koreans, says Bader, that in return for their complete denuclearization and dismantling of their missile program, we would establish full diplomatic relations; end the economic embargo and sanctions; and provide economic assistance, investment and a peace treaty to replace the 64-year-old armistice agreement.”

In response to Susan Rice’s excellent op-ed, I wrote: ” I read a good idea by a commentator at the NYT who suggested, the US should woo North Korea into a de-escalation. We could, for example. offer to pull our military forces out of South Korea in exchange for their giving up their nuclear weapons program. It would be useful if talks could start, aimed at giving both countries what they want or need. I add to the commentators idea, it might be necessary to let the North Koreans keep the nuclear weapons that they have. This might be acceptable, if we could get them to allow verification that they stop all further development. I continue to be depressed by most of the discussion. It is arrogant for the US to think that it has to be in charge of North Korea, when they are China’s neighbor and vassal state. We should remind ourselves continually, that this part of the world is not our backyard, but China’s.”

I’m not sure Your approach is better, Mr. Friedman, but your right, we should laugh at every missile launch as pathetic and stupid.

Getting Trump Out of My Brain – by David Brooks – NYT

“Last week The Washington Post published transcripts of Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders. A dear friend sent me an email suggesting I read them because they reveal how Trump’s mind works. But as I tried to click the link a Bartleby-like voice in my head said, “I would prefer not to.”

I tried to click again and the voice said: “No thanks. I’m full.”For the past two years Trump has taken up an amazing amount of my brain space. My brain has apparently decided that it’s not interested in devoting more neurons to that guy. There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative.

Now a lot of people are clearly still addicted to Trump. My Twitter feed is all him. Some people treat the Trump White House as the “Breaking Bad” serial drama they’ve been binge watching for six months. For some of us, Trump-bashing has become educated-class meth. We derive endless satisfaction from feeling morally superior to him — and as Leon Wieseltier put it, affirmation is the new sex.But I thought I might try to listen to my brain for a change. That would mean trying, probably unsuccessfully, to spend less time thinking about Trump the soap opera and more time on questions that surround the Trump phenomena and this moment of history.

How much permanent damage is he doing to our global alliances? Have Americans really decided they no longer want to be a universal nation with a special mission to spread freedom around the world? Is populism now the lingua franca of politics so the Democrats’ only hope is to match Trump’s populism with their own?”

Good Column David Brooks. Good questions.

I Like Christine McM’s top comment, but not her tone of superiority. She criticizes Brooks, as do so many, for what he didn’t say, while avoiding a good discussion regarding what he does say. Her comment follows:

Christine McM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 7 hours ago
How Wasp-centric you are Mr. Brooks! Nary a word about the waves of immigration, bringing millions of Irish Catholics, persecuted Jews, and war-torn Vietnamese, Koreans, Indians, Africans. And of course, no word either of the product of Americans original sin—slaves and the long history of African American subjugation.

And of course our more recent subjects of strife and animus: Hispanics and Muslims.

you may be sick of Donald Trump, but it’s establishment Republicans like you who are very much responsible for allowing this grotesque caricature of a president to become elected. Why didn’t you and your peers speak out more loudly, ferociously, and fiercely?

if Donald Trump i, the last gasp of white America against the loss of privilege, you still don’t account for the forces that were largely products of Republican administrations: Citizens United; voter repression, gerrymandering, the rise of polarized politics, and worst of all, the denial of basic knowledge and scientific facts about climate change.

You worry about what comes after Trump? David, it’s time to focus on now, to fight the pernicious effect of what’s occurring on a daily basis all over this country: the ravaging of precious resources, deregulation that will foul our air and water and potentially trigger another economic crisis; the ratcheting up of police actions against minorities and immigrants, hate crimes.

Time to come down from your ivory tower and get involved today.

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I am more intesested in the substantive questions that Brooks raises. Will Trumps blunders damage us in foreign affairs for generations. Will the rejection of the TPP excellerate the rise of China over the US? I wish he had asked, Can we survive the worst effects of climate change and the 6th extinction, with Trump in power for four years?

Can People Change After Middle Age? – by David Brooks – NYT

“Shreveport saw a lot of ugliness during the civil rights era. But it is fortunate today to have Community Renewal, one of the nation’s most impressive community-building groups. Community Renewal builds settlement houses for kids in crime-ridden communities. It sponsors over 1,500 Haven Houses in neighborhoods rich and poor where volunteers sponsor activities and build relationships. It’s one of the most successfully integrated organizations I’ve seen.

Mike pulled out of his dental practice at age 49 and works at Community Renewal, often without pay. Bo heard about the organization from a member of his breakfast group and is now a volunteer and donor. When I sat with Bo and Mike after the staff and volunteer meeting on Monday, three things struck me, which often strike me about people who have transformed their lives for the final lap.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Bravo David Brooks.
Looking at the negative comments, the left wing “progressive” fanatics can’t forgive you for coming from a respectable GOP past, but they are historical amnesiacs. They forget, or never knew, that just 50 years ago, it was the GOP that was the party of civil rights, and the Democrats were the party of racism and jim crow. One of the founders of the Republican Party was Abraham Lincoln.

Chuck Schumer: A Better Deal for American Workers – The New York Times

“. . . First, we’re going to increase people’s pay. Second, we’re going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we’re going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.

Over the next several months, Democrats will lay out a series of policies that, if enacted, will make these three things a reality. We’ve already proposed creating jobs with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan; increasing workers’ incomes by lifting the minimum wage to $15; and lowering household costs by providing paid family and sick leave.”

Nice op-ed by Chuck Schumer. The comments tear it to shreds, perhaps unfairly. He might be right to not champion a single payer health system, since the country is so divided on the subject. Is it smart not to mention climate change?

I agree with commentators frustrated at the lack of mention for even a plan to overturn Citizen’s United, but in Schumer’s defense, you have to capture both houses to control future Supreme court appointments.

If only I had a crystal ball. Is it better to run by following the crowd, like Trump, telling people what they want to hear, right or wrong, or to lead, and reach for a mandate worth fighting for. The answer is probably neither. You must pick your battles, and cave when necessary. You have to want to win as badly as your opponents,even if you won’t stoop to their level of dirty tricks.

I wonder, if the Democrats announced they would support what ever horrible health plan the Republicans put forth, just to let them show the country the value of their ideas and leadership, what would happen? They would have to insist that the reforms take place a year before the next election. Wouldn’t the Republican health plan help sweep the Republicans out of office in the next election?

The G.O.P. Rejects Conservatism – by David Brooks – NYT

“. . . First, conservative policy intellectuals tend to have accepted the fact that American society is coming apart and that measures need to be taken to assist the working class. Republican politicians show no awareness of this fact. Second, conservative writers and intellectuals have a vision for how they want American society to be in the 21st century. Republican politicians have a vision of how they want American government to be in the 21st century.

Republican politicians believe that government should tax people less. The Senate bill would eliminate the 3.8 percent tax on investment income for those making over $250,000. Republican politicians believe that open-ended entitlements should be cut. The Senate health care plan would throw 15 million people off Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (This is the program that covers nearly 40 percent of America’s children.)”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT comments:

Great piece David Brooks. Thank you. Regarding a good comment by Uncle Jetski, I found The parable of the blind men and the elephant in Wikipedia :
“The earliest versions of the parable of blind men and elephant is found in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts, as they discuss the limits of perception and the importance of complete context. The parable has several Indian variations, but broadly goes as follows:

A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This being is like a thick snake”. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, “elephant is a wall”. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.

(In one of many versions) a sighted man enters the parable and describes the entire elephant from various perspectives, the blind men then learn that they were all partially correct and partially wrong. While one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth.

Jared Kushner’s Role Is Tested as Russia Case Grows – The New York Times

This is the article cited by David Brooks.
Because of the passage below, I remove my support for Keeping Kushner on the team, inspite of illegal communications with Russian agents.

“Mr. Kushner appears to be modifying his centrist stances. Instead of urging the president to keep the United States in the Paris climate accord, as he sought to months ago, he has come to believe the standards in the agreement need to be changed, a person close to him said.”

If he can’t stay loyal to the planet, let him go to jail.

The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner – by David Brooks – NYT

“We don’t know everything about his meetings with the Russians, but we know that they, like so much other clan-like behavior, went against the formal system. We also know that they betray rookie naïveté on several levels — apparently trusting the Russians not to betray him, apparently not understanding that these conversations would be surveyed by the American intelligence services, possibly not understanding how alarming they would look to outsiders.

We seem to now be entering the paranoia phase of the Trump presidency, as insiders perceive that everybody else is out to get them. As The Times’s Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere detailed in some amazing reporting, Kushner’s role in this White House may be in peril. This turmoil, for both Trump and Kushner, was inevitable”

Bravo David Brooks. You make me smarter, and more informed with depth.

Here is the first comment I read, and marvel at. This poetry is based on a very famous ballad, the Flying Cloud, starting, Oh my name is Edward Hollander. It was rewritten by Steve Goodman, as the Ballad of Penny Evans.

Larry Eisenberg is a trusted commenter Medford, Ma. 5 hours ago

with apologies to G and S

My name is Jared Kushner on intrigue I am intent
I Journey everywhere I always go where I am sent
The right hand man of Donald, a deal maker supreme
And I am his adviser on every squalid scheme
I deal with Russian diplomats as a matter of course
Just as I deal “with Frenchies who are active on the Bourse
Critics say I use back door channels just to make a buck,
they think the reason for my wealth is not savvy & pluck
And I can’t think why!

I am an active slumlord and evictions are my meat
To squeeze more cash from tenants I will not suffer defeat,
Repairs are never timely, each flat looks like a dump
I have the warm approval of my father-in-law, Trump.
I deal a lot with Russian Banks and lavish loans we’ve had.
They get good int’rest in return, it doesn’t make them sad,
And now I am the subject of an FBI witch hunt,
Publicity’s the reason, it’s a vile uncalled for stunt
And I can’t think why!

And I’m his wife Ivanka, I’m the daughter of the Don,
I live a Life in clover, unlike Butler’s Erewhon,
I have a line of products products which the Public doesn’t buy
And Daddy tweets malevolence with stores short on supply
I seem to run his businesses,in fact I never do
The Trust he built is phony he makes all decisions, too,
I act as an adviser yet my knowledge is so scant
I’d like to advance womankind but Daddy says I can’t
And I don’t know why!

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Dangerous Times for Trump and the Nation – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

In addition, The Washington Post reported Wednesday on a remarkable recording in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared last June that he believed that Putin finances Trump. Talking with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other leaders, McCarthy said, “I think Putin pays” Trump. When people laughed, McCarthy quickly added, “Swear to God!”

Ryan swore those present to secrecy. “No leaks,” Ryan said. “This is how we know we’re a real family here.”When The Post asked Ryan and McCarthy about the statements, their offices flatly denied them. Informed that The Post had a recording, they backtracked and suggested it was a joke.””

Great piece NIcholas Kristof. Here is a comment I disagreed with, with my critique of it afterwards.

Jsmes Ricciardi Panamá, Panamá 12 hours ago

Great article except for one point. I fear there are no adults in the Trump inner circle. Mattis okayed the Syrian missile strike, which as far as I can tell had no military or strategic benefit whatsoever. Ditto the MOAB in Afghanistan. I do not want Mattis making decisions about nuclear weapons. Tillerson is a long time friend of Putin. McMaster sold his soul the other night to Trump to cover for Trump’s blabbing to Russia. John Kelly has been enforcing our inhumane deportation policy and is an apologist for Trump and the wall. Dina Powell was McMaster’s pick. Now where are the adults?

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David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

I am sorry over 500 readers recommended this rant by Mr. Ricciardi. The bombing in Syria over the Bashar Assad government’s use of chemical weapons was brilliant and appropriate for many reasons. It certainly got their attention, and the attention of our enemies and allies.
I’ve made a point to study Rex Tillerson, starting with, watching his day and a half of confirmation hearings. He is is an adult, and the suggestion that he is a buddy of Putin’s is, to be as gentle as possible, not supported by the data.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.wordpress.com