Opinion | Save Us Al Gore – by Frank Bruni – The New York Times

“Time and Donald Trump do interesting things to a man.

They make Al Gore glitter.

It’s almost impossible not to be thinking of Gore this week, with the words “Florida” and “recount” so prominent in the news, and it’s hard not to credit him with virtues absent in Trump and increasingly rare in politics these days.

Grace in defeat, for one. For another: a commitment to democracy greater than a concern for self.

Sure, the review of ballots that Gore’s campaign demanded in 2000, as he and George W. Bush waited tensely to see who would get the Sunshine State’s electoral votes and become president, was a rancorous affair lousy with recriminations.

But after the Supreme Court halted it, Gore didn’t reject that ruling as partisan, rant about rigged systems, rail about conspiracies or run around telling Americans that he was their rightful leader, foiled by dark forces. He felt that the stability of the country hinged on the calmness of his withdrawal. So he told Americans to move on.

Then he did likewise, a decision that seems positively exotic in retrospect.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Al Gore is an important leader. Frank Bruni, thank you for another sparkling piece of writing. I owe a debt to Al Gore. His movie, of his slide show and interviews of scientists, An Inconvenient Truth, was what woke me up on Climate Change. It cleared out the confusion caused by articles in the right wing business press, about how equally scientists were divided. We now know that that idea was disinformation, inserted into politics by a few scientists on the payroll of the oil, gas and coal industry.
I hope Al Gore runs again for president. I will work hard for him. I worked for Hillary Clinton, but I do not support any woman candidate in this next election. We need beyond anything, to win, to get the country back on track with a host of problems. Climate Change and overpopulation are probably the greatest threats to our democracy and way of life. Al Gore’s big negative, that he is such an ardent environmentalist, has become a plus, now that the predictions of global warming are coming to pass before our very eyes. Al Gore, please run for the presidency again.

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Opinion | Trump Can’t Unite Us. Can Anyone? – By Frank Bruni and Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By Frank Bruni and Ross Douthat
Mr. Bruni and Mr. Douthat are opinion columnists. They converse every other week.

Oct. 30, 2018 382 comments

Frank Bruni: Ross, I would typically begin with some idle pleasantry — “Hey, it’s good to talk with you” — but this doesn’t seem to me a moment for idle pleasantries, and “good” just doesn’t cut it. Not after the massacre of 11 Jewish Americans in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. Not after the pipe bombs of last week. Not amid ugly talk and ugly tweets. I’m hugely worried about this country, and I do not believe that President Trump has it in him to unite us and heal our wounds. Please, please, please tell me I’m wrong.

Ross Douthat: Of course you’re not wrong, Frank. In his presidency Donald Trump has shown no interest in actually presiding over the country, as opposed to just trying to mobilize his own coalition against the liberal Other. For him to respond to a pair of far-right terrorist attacks with defensiveness and partisanship is simply who he is — a self-justifying polarizer who finds the other aspects of the job tedious and prefers, even amid trauma, to just hurl rhetorical grenades from his Twitter feed.

Frank: Is that it, then? We give up on hoping for anything better from him and … do what? It’s a serious question. The presidency has enormous moral force, quaint as that notion sounds right now, and if the president has no moral compass, what can we do so that we don’t unravel further as we wait him out?

Ross: Well, if you’re a Democrat, you try to beat his party at the polls. I’ve said before in these conversations that I think Trump has some modicum of self-control, but it’s mostly linked to self-interest. If you want him to abjure a polarizing response to tragedy, you need to show that it’s a bad political strategy. Which I think it is; I think politically the horror in Pittsburgh and the mail bombs are a gift to Democrats, because they highlight one of the most specific ways that Trump is ill-suited to his office.”

Well don gentlemen. Here is a comment I enjoyed:
Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ4h ago
Trump is a neo-Jefferson Davis, governing for the Confederate States of America and not a single Union citizen opposed to his 1861 platform of Making America White Again.

He and his Republican nihilists just blew up the national deficit for the sole purpose of painting the toenails of the rich a finer hue of gold…..healthcare, infrastructure, education, voting rights, women’s rights, worker rights, environment and decent public be damned.

The heart and soul of Trump-Republicanism is stealing from the poor to give to the rich in the name of white supremacy, fear, loathing and selfishness.

Red Republican welfare state regressives are completely subsidized by industrious, educated Democratic blue states.

Making 1861 Great Again is a suicidal Southern strategy.

Vote for modernity, healthcare, infrastructure, the environment, campaign finance corruption reform, voting rights, free and fair elections, decent regulation and an emergency brake on the Grand Old Psychopaths who are happy to flush all 241 years of American ideals down a Trump Toilet for a few extra dollars.

November 6 2018

VOTE

4 Replies200 Recommended

Opinion | The Republican Strategy? Fear and Lies – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“If I listened only to Donald Trump and those Republican candidates who follow his example, I would be petrified. I would be living in a bunker. I would have cyanide capsules at hand.

I would be convinced that the scattered protesters disrupting some Republicans’ meals were the advance guard of a violent liberal mob about to wrest control of the country. I would worry that the Democratic Party was secretly trying to elect terrorists and traitors to the House and the Senate.

And that caravan of migrants — I would see that, too, as some nefarious Democratic plot, or as a Trojan horse with jihadists in its belly. Either way, I would recognize it as the end of the world: Armageddon in the hunched form of a pregnant Honduran woman limping toward the only hope that she has.

To prevent a blue wave on Nov. 6, the president and his puppets are traveling audaciously far from the truth and shockingly deep into the gutter. I’ve seen bad before, but not this. The midterms aren’t just a referendum on which direction the country will go. They’re also a test of where the limits of decency and shamelessness are drawn.”

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.

OCPA

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.”

https://thinkprogress.org/mike-pence-cigarette-truther-4b89e9304759/

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:
Chris
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