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.”

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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.”

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Donald Trump Will Leave You Numb – Frank Bruni – NYT

src=”” alt=”” />But that’s actually his secret. That’s his means of survival: the warp speed and whirl of it all. He forces you to process and react to so many different outrages at such a dizzying velocity that no one of them has the staying power that it ought to or gets the scrutiny it deserves.

They blend together under the numbing banner of what a freak show he can be, of Trump being Trump. And so the show screams on.

Part of this excess is his nature. Part of it is design. Not by accident did he put on that 77-minute performance for the media — hurling insults, flinging lies, marinating in self-pity, luxuriating in self-love — just three days after the resignation of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and amid intensifying questions about collusion between Team Trump and the Russians.

He was cluttering the landscape. Overwhelming the senses. Betting that a surfeit of clangorous music would obscure any particularly galling note. That wager got him all the way to the White House, though he has no place being there, and so he sticks with it. The news conference was a case study in such orchestrated chaos.”

Are Democrats Falling Into Trump’s Trap? – Frank Bruni – NYT

“Trump provokes ire by the minute, but the response needs to be fashioned by the day or even week, lest everything blur. Resistance is a dish best served with discernment. Too much salt and you can’t taste the food itself.

That’s the trap with Trump, and Democrats fell into it during the presidential election, either not realizing how thoroughly he became the reference point for every conversation or not figuring out a way to mitigate that. Opposition to him crowded out support for anything else. Every negative moment came at the expense of a positive one.”

Great column by Frank Bruni, followed by some excellent comments which I supported:


is a trusted commenter Boston 21 hours ago

“It’s all true, of course. The Democrats’ message wasn’t clear, Clinton’s strengths weren’t stressed, and the campaign thought some states were in the bag. But how could anyone have predicted that these technical flaws would outweigh the cold, objective and blatant fact that the Republican candidate was a blithering idiot?

Everything that’s happening now in the bizarre, unprepared and cruelly vindictive White House was evident from the earliest days of the Republican debates. Things didn’t get better as the campaign went on. The sneaky finances, the insults, the mocking, the gleeful crotch-grabbing, the tweeting, the childish second-grade vocabulary all pointed to loser, in every sense of the word.

Virtually everyone in the world was caught off guard by his victory. Pollsters got it wrong. Pundits got it wrong, including those in The Times. The man was a train wreck during the debates with Clinton. How could she have delivered a cogent, politically astute message while her opponent was yelling “lock her up” every time she took a breath?

Maybe Clinton’s message could have been better, but improving the message wouldn’t have improved the discernment of the voters who were in the thrall of this vulgar, lying ignoramus. The blame is on them. We couldn’t have predicted it in advance, but now that we know they’re out there, we won’t make this mistake again.

Prepare for long lines at the mid-term voting booths in 2018.”

Christine McM

is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 18 hours ago

” “Resistance is a dish best served with discernment. Too much salt and you can’t taste the food itself”

Whenever I read Frank Bruni’s magnificent prose, I search for the nugget, the one sentence or two that distill the entire column. The above quote is it.

I agree with every word of this column. And I’d add another thought of my own: before Dems try to write slogans, they’d better damned well know what they want to say. That may sound obvious, but it’s not. As a new copywriter, I learned pretty quickly you can’t sell anything if you don’t know what you’re selling. Slogans are your last words, not your first.

Please, Dems, stop editing and start thinking. Anti-Trump or non-Trump won’t cut it. Even the premise of resistance implies defeat, that somebody is winning and you’re playing catch-up.

Replace the word resistance with fighting and you have a starting point. Throw in another–I like Pete Buttigieg’s “fairness–and you’re back in the game.

Fairness is why people voted for Trump (“The system’s rigged!”). Unfairness will turn them against him given his billionaire cabinet and pro-wealth policies. There’s nothing fair about rolling back regulations, stiffing consumers, polluting rivers, cutting Medicare, sending poor kids off to war, or making taxpayers pay for your stupid wall.

Dems, make Trump eat his words. Given these past three weeks, that shouldn’t be hard at all.”

The Case for Mitt Romney – by Frank bruni – The New York Times

“…….If Trump taps Romney, he’ll be sending a powerful message to an anxious world that he’s not hostage to the darkest parts of his character. He needs to project that as much as we need to see it.Granted, Romney’s résumé isn’t the most logical for the job. He has spent most of his life as a businessman, and his lone public office was governor of Massachusetts.

But not all our secretaries of state were steeped in foreign affairs from an early point, like Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice. Many had backgrounds principally devoted to other concerns. That was true of James Baker, who held the post under the first President Bush, and of Hillary Clinton, though she traveled the world as first lady and served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Source: The Case for Mitt Romney – The New York Times

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Frank Bruni, Great column. Points taken.
As to the comments after the op-ed, I’ve never read a weaker bunch. What Frank understands, and most of the commenters I read do not, is that Trump learns a lot from the people he talks to. It is critical for the nation, that he include some clear headed centrists in his cabinet.

If Trump were interested in getting re-elected in four years, he would ask Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or John McCain or John Kasich to join the cabinet. That would be surprising, but it was the play of Abraham Lincoln.