Opinion | The Cosmic Joke of Donald Trump’s Power – by Frank Bruni – NYT



“A death in the family. A punch to the gut. The announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement felt to me and many people I know like both of those, but even more so like something else: a sick cosmic joke.

How much power will a president with such tenuous claim to it get to wield? How profound and durable an impact will such a shallow and fickle person make?

Donald Trump barely won the White House, under circumstances — a tainted opponent, three million fewer votes than she received, James Comey’s moral vanity and Russia’s amoral exertions — that raise serious questions about how many Americans yearned to see him there.

But he’s virtually assured of appointing as many judges to the Supreme Court as each of his three predecessors did and could reshape Americans’ lives even more significantly. It’s the craziest dissonance. The cruelest, too..”


David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT comments.
Hi Frank, This was so depressing, I had to speed read half of it. But I find it also empty. I heard a brilliant comment on NPR this morning, on another depressing discussion of the fall of the supreme court and the expected fall of Roe V Wade. The caller identified herself as about 65, mid western, and Catholic. She said, I don’t think the GOP wants to undo Roe v Wade, because they need it. If they overturn it, tens of thousands of Catholics, including almost all of my relatives, who only vote for the GOP because of this one issue, will no longer have to support them, and will return to the democratic party. In my gut, I suspect that she is right. This echos a right wing journalist from the midwest who wrote about 15 years ago, that Roe V Waded was disaster, because its opponents organized and took over one state house after another. The fall of Roe V Wade will be the best thing for Democrats since the New Deal. The issue will go back to the States, where 50 % of the population are women, and over half of the population supports choice, and other basic civil right, like environmental protection. It would be a sad day, but it is also the day after Alexandra Ocassio-Cortez took a primary in NYC. According to the Huffington Post, Ecowatch, and In These Times, she is a hard-liner on fighting to mitigate climate change, and wants a Green New Deal, that does for sustainable energy, what the Marshall Plan did for Europe after WW II. DL bogs at InconvenientNews.Wordpress.com


Opinion | How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“Dear Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee and other Trump haters:

I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning. You think you’re raising your fist when you’re really raising a white flag.

You’re right that Donald Trump is a dangerous and deeply offensive man, and that restraining and containing him are urgent business. You’re wrong about how to go about doing that, or at least you’re letting your emotions get the better of you.

When you answer name-calling with name-calling and tantrums with tantrums, you’re not resisting him. You’re mirroring him. You’re not diminishing him. You’re demeaning yourselves. Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din.

You permit them to see you as you see Trump: deranged. Why would they choose a different path if it goes to another ugly destination?”


David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT Comments.
Thank you Frank Bruni for your excellent analysis. This is so painful for many of us. Reading the comments, I have sympathy for your detractors, then I get to someone who agrees with you, saying we have to act like adults. As David Leonhardt reported, we need to connect with those who voted for Obama, then switched to Trump. His base is not all alt right white supremacist. My friends who voted for Trump are learning that he is not all he claims to be. Defenders of DeNiro miss the point that we should play hard—and smart. Trump is brilliant at manipulating the media to dominate the evening and morning news cycles. In giving away joint military exercises with South Korea, he kept a campaign promise to his base, outwitting his real opponent: the US press and voting public. He is an above average practitioner of the dark and dirty political arts taught by Roy Cohn. This is a year where the next election might determine the survival of our democracy as we have known it. “F Trump” might make the speaker and audience feel good, but when played over the airwaves, it strengthens him. Better to yell, He cut taxes for the rich, so the rest of us can pay for this great country on our own, This administration is taking away health care from Americans and damaging the environment. Vote these bullies out of office.. As Bruni reminds us, focus your anger on the issues that hurt the voters in the November Election. Attacking the speaker, is less effective than attacking his ideas.

David Lindsay, the original response before condensing to under 1500 characters.

Thank you Frank Bruni for an excellent piece of analysis. This is so painful for many of us. As I read through the comments, I have sympathy for all your detractors, until I get down to someone who agrees with you, and says simply, we have to act like adults, because we are going after voters who want to hear that we hear them. As David Leonhardt reported, we need to focus on voters who voted for Obama, and then switched to Trump. His base is not all alt right white supremacist. Many of my friends and associates voted for Trump, and they are not incapable of learning that he is not everything he says he is. I found the youtube of Robert DeNiro’s Fuck Trump remark, and that was it. Is that all he said, or did youtube not report on more articulate remarks which should have followed?

What the commenters defending DeNiro miss, in my humble opinion, is not that we shouldn’t play hard, or even a little dirty, but what Trump does well, even brilliantly, is manipulate the press so that he dominates the evening and morning news cycles. For example, one of my heros, Nicholas Kristof, wrote that Kim Jong-un out negotiated Trump. I commented after that piece, Trump gave away joint military exercises with South Korea, that was one of his campaign promises to his base, and he totally dominated US news for over a week. From his perspective, he outwitted his real opponent, an intelligent and educated US press and voting public. He is an above average practitioner of the dark and dirty political arts taught by the likes of Roy Cohn.

Although my heart goes out to the frustrated detractors of Frank Bruni’s wise truths, and I often feel the same way, this is a year where the next election might determine the survival of our democracy and as we have known it.Fuck Trump might make the speaker and audience feel good, but when played over the airwaves, it strengthens him.  Better to yell, He cut taxes for the rich, so the rest of us can pay for this great country on our own, This administration is taking away health care and damaging the environment. Vote these bullies out of office.. As Bruni reminds us, focus your anger on the November Election.

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

Opinion | Renounce Nancy Pelosi- Ignore Donald Trump — and Win? – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“WAXHAW, N.C. — Does Conor Lamb strike twice?

Dan McCready certainly hopes so. Like Lamb, who won a special House election in Pennsylvania two months ago, McCready is a Democratic congressional candidate competing on steadfastly Republican, Donald Trump-friendly turf.

Like Lamb, he’s a veteran, he’s young and he’s brand new to politics. And like Lamb, he has exceeded expectations in a fashion that contributes mightily to Democrats’ hopes for a House majority after November. If McCready succeeds in North Carolina’s Ninth District, which has been represented by Republicans for the last 55 years, Democrats are in a good position to win big over all.

Success is no fantasy. In the primaries on Tuesday, McCready got more votes in a two-way contest on the Democratic side than all three candidates combined on the Republican side. What’s more, he’ll go head-to-head in the general election not against the Republican incumbent, Robert Pittenger, who lost his primary, but against a former pastor named Mark Harris with extremely conservative social views.

Several prognosticators just changed their rating of the race from “leans Republican” to “tossup,” and the veteran North Carolina Republican strategist Paul Shumaker, who worked for Pittenger, told me: “I would not be surprised if, come September or October, you don’t see it rated ‘leans Democratic’.”

That’s fascinating. But McCready’s race is also worth watching because of the questions it raises — and the answers it may provide — about how Democrats should run in districts that aren’t any hue of blue.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Frank Bruni. Best thing I read in the NYT Sunday Review yesterday. This is good news to my ears. Since I highlighted almost half of it, hopefully others will read the whole piece too.
Introducing Dan McCready, of North Carolina. “Does Connor Lamb strike twice?. . . . ”

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.


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.


Sorry- Mike Pence- You’re Doomed – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“The other day, from the Naval Observatory in Washington, you heard a howl of such volume and anguish that it cracked mirrors and sent small forest animals scurrying for cover. Vice President Mike Pence was furious. He was offended. Someone — namely, my Times colleagues Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns — had dared to call him out on the fact that he seemed to be laying the groundwork for a presidential bid.

Problem No. 1: His president is still in the first year of his first term. Problem No. 2: That president is Donald Trump, who doesn’t take kindly to any glimmer that people in his employ are putting their vanity or agenda before his. Just ask Steve Bannon. Or Anthony Scaramucci. They were too big for their britches, and Trump snatched their britches away.

The Times report put Pence in similar peril, so he pushed back with an operatic outrage that showed just how close to the bone it had cut. When a story’s actually wrong, you eviscerate it, exposing its erroneous assertions without ever breaking a sweat. When it’s a stink bomb at odds with your plotting, you set your jaw, redden your face and proclaim it “disgraceful,” never detailing precisely how.”

Ok. I’m getting tired of reading about these buffoons. But I had to post Bruni’s piece, so I had the substance of it to hang the following great comment by Socrates.

Socrates is a trusted commenter Verona NJ 22 hours ago

“Pastor Pence pretends to be a fine Christian human being, but is just as practiced a Snake Oil sommelier as Donald Trump is.

Not many people know that Mike Pence and his family were raised on the proceeds of cigarette and gasoline sales – one ingredient for killing human lungs and the other ingredient for killing the Earth’s lungs.

In 2000, Mike Pence, then running for an open US House seat, came out against a proposed settlement between government and the tobacco industry, calling it “big government.” In an editorial, he wrote: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”

Pence’s now-defunct family business, Kiel Bros. Oil, operated a chain of 200 cigarette and gasoline convenience stores under the name “Tobacco Road,” but they closed in 2004 because of higher cigarette taxes and more online tobacco sales.

Mike Pence has carried the tobacco industry’s water, denied the dangers of cigarettes, opposed government regulation, and slashed smoking cessation efforts, and in return, Big Tobacco rewarded him with continuous campaign bribery.

Funding for Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation was down to $8 million per year when Governor Pence took office in Indiana in 2013 — within his first week, the Pence administration slashed the agency’s budget to $5 million.”


Mike Pence: Another Grand Old Phony happy to see Americans drop dead.”

1336 Recommended

Donald Trump’s Dominatrix – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“At this point I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump has gone beyond taunting and demonizing Hillary Clinton to a realm of outright obsession.

He’s stalking her.

He can’t stop tweeting about her. Can’t stop muttering about her. On Monday he addressed tens of thousands of boy scouts at their Jamboree, and who should pop up in his disjointed thoughts and disheveled words? Clinton. He dinged her, yet again, for having ignored voters in Michigan, which he won.

The Jamboree, mind you, was in West Virginia.”

Well done Frank Bruni. Here are the two top comments, I suppoort. It is with horror and admiration that I note that Christine McMorrow posted at 6 AM. That is serious commenting.

Christine McM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 4 hours ago

“He can no more retire her than Miss Havisham, in “Great Expectations,” could put away her wedding dress.”

Oh Frank! What an image! I guess one could also call him the Ancient Mariner, with Clinton as his albatross.

I too have pondered why on earth he keeps dragging that poor woman out on the stage with him, to shadow box when he runs out of states to crow about.

Maybe she represents his own self doubts that yes, she was Door #1 and polls had her winning, but isn’t he wonderful for surprising the world?

But man, his relitigating and reliving the campaign is getting old. It’s more than a nervous tic or campaign Tourette’s syndrome. It’s downright frightening.

He does it because he’s jumping on the nation’s collective hate for all things Clinton, especially HER. You see, for Trump women exist mainly to reflect his glory–and Clinton did everything but.

She represented every female teacher, relative, or authority figure that wouldn’t let Donald get away with lying. In the debates she drove him mad with her mastery of detail.

But let’s face it, the man is sick. And manipulative. She’s a convenient foil because in the end she’s fun to kick around and isn’t there to taunt him as she did during the debates.

Or is she? His obsession with Hillary Clinton shows she’s still renting space in his head, reminding her of every female that knew all the answers.

They say that adults keep reliving high school. In Donald’s case it may be grammar school.

Reply 683 Recommended

Socrates is a trusted commenter Verona NJ 2 hours ago

“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?” Mr. Trump said to tens of thousands of children on Monday.

Who the hell begins a speech to children with a shout-out to ‘hell’ ?

TRUMP continued: “Secretary Tom Price is also here today. Dr. Price still lives the Scout oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully he’s going to gets the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us.

(APPLAUSE by Boy Scout crowd)

Boy Scout crowd chant: “USA! USA! USA!”
Who the hell propagandizes tens of thousands of young boys to hate a constructive health care program that gave health insurance to 20 million Americans ?

Who the hell turns a Boy Scout Jamboree into a Nuremberg Rally from the 1930’s ?

Who the hell tells a crowd of young boys “what do you think the chances are that this incredible massive crowd, record setting, is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero? The fake media will say….”President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.” That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.”

Who the hell has the biggest Presidential Inferiority Complex in United States history ?

Who the hell voted to decorate the Oval Office with a Grand Old Psychopath who took a sacred boyhood oath of honor with his bathroom mirror ?

Reply 668 Recommended

How We Really Die – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“A friend of mine once said the way to stop smoking is to close your eyes, think about the person you dislike the most,” Bloomberg, 75, told me. “Now, do you want to be at their funeral or you want them to be at yours?”

Great op-ed.
Here is a good comment:
6 hours ago

We regularly give our children a substance we would never feed our animals; because it would be too detrimental to their health. A substance so addictive that in MRIs, it lights up the brain like cocaine; which makes it the ultimate gateway drug. A substance that causes chronic inflammation; which is the cause of modern scourges like cancer, metabolic syndrome, auto-immune diseases, and depression.
Our government subsidizes the production of this product which makes it so inexpensive it is added to 80% of our processed foods. 30% of us eat less than maximum recommended amount. But, the other 70% manage to bring our per capita consumption to an amount over double the recommended limit. Our consumption of this product mirrors obesity rates.
If we stopping subsidizing and over consuming this product, we would save millions of lives and billions of dollars.
The product, also known as high fructose corn syrup, is sugar.

Reply 175 Recommended

Mitch Landrieu Reminds Us That Eloquence Still Exists – by Frank Bruni – NYT

Mitch Landrieu has made an important speech. I recommend that you read the speech before reading further into Bruni’s lovely accolades, as I did.

I loved the speech, and what Bruni wrote, and many of the comments, such as:

Roger Paine

Boulder, CO 11 hours ago

Here’s a true story about Robert E. Lee: Not long after the Civil War ended, he went to church in Richmond, Virginia. On that morning, a black man made his way to the communion rail where he knelt to take communion. The congregation was shocked – in that time and place, this simply was not done. No one moved. An uncomfortable silence settled over everyone in the sanctuary, and no one came forward to join the black man. The priest, standing at the communion rail, was unable to decide how to proceed.

And then Robert E. Lee rose to his feet, came forward, and knelt right beside the black man — to participate with him in the key sacrament of his faith. Slowly, other members of the congregation began to make their way toward the communion rail to kneel together with a former slave and their former military commander.

On that long-ago Sunday morning, there were two openings. One made possible by the black man, who had the courage to go to the communion rail. And one made possible by a white man, who had the courage to join him there.

I’m glad all those statues of Confederate soldiers, including Lee, are coming down. It’s way past time to move on. It’s also good to remember that we are all more complicated than a broad brush allows us to see.


Devin Nunes Is Dangerous – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“Representative Devin Nunes obviously fancies himself Jason Bourne. To sneak onto the White House grounds for that rendezvous with an unnamed source last week, he switched cars and ditched aides, vanishing into the night.

But Senator Lindsey Graham looks at him and sees a different character. Graham said on the “Today” show on Tuesday that Nunes was bumbling his way though something of an “Inspector Clouseau investigation,” a reference to the fantastically inept protagonist of the “Pink Panther” comedies.

I salute Graham’s movie vocabulary. I quibble with his metaphor. While Clouseau was a benign fool, there’s nothing benign about Nunes’s foolishness.As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes, a California Republican, is a principal sleuth in the paramount inquiry into whether members of the Trump campaign were in cahoots with Russia, and from all appearances, he either doesn’t want to know the answer or has determined it already — in President Trump’s favor.”

Go Frank.

Tweeting Toward Oblivion – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“Donald Trump faces a stark choice. He can tweet, or he can govern.He can indulge his persecution complex, firing off missives that compare Barack Obama to Joseph McCarthy and American intelligence officers to Nazis, or he can recognize it as a gateway to disgrace and irrelevance.

He can make his presidency about his own viscera, or he can make it about the country’s welfare. He can do what feels cathartic in the moment, or he can do what’s constructive in the long run. He can dabble in bright colors and shiny objects, or he can deal in durable truths.”

Such good writing. This is a beautifully penned rehash of Ross Douthat’s piece a few weeks ago, where Ross wrote, everyday, Trump could chose to start governing.

Here is my favorit comment:
A. Stanton Dallas, TX 1 day ago
“His tweets to us are the single good thing he is doing for the country. We must be careful never to discourage him from continuing them.

They are his cries for help, his confessions, his admissions of guilt and the instrument by which he will finally bring himself down.”

1106 Recommended