Opinion | Trump Mocks Climate Change. That’s a Key to Defeating Him. – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

April 9, 2019, 902
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A wind farm near Glenrock, Wyo.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“Here’s some news you may have missed. Southeastern Africa got hit in March with a cyclone that United Nations officials say was one of the worst weather disasters to ever strike the Southern Hemisphere. “Ever” is a long time.

The storm swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing hundreds. My friend Greg Carr, who runs the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, told me that the lions, elephants and zebras sensed the storm coming and moved to higher ground to avoid the flooding. Among the people and birds that survived, many of the former lost their homes and the latter their nests and eggs.

Image  Beira, the fourth-largest city in Mozambique, was devastated last month by Cyclone Idai.CreditMike Hutchings/Reuters
While this historic weather disaster was unfolding, President Trump was urging Republicans not to kill the Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal — not because Trump wants to work with it, but because he wants to run against it in 2020.”

Opinion | Is America Becoming a Four-Party State? – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman
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CreditCreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times
By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 19, 2019, 1082 c
Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

“In case you haven’t noticed, long-established political parties across the democratic world are blowing up, with Britain’s Labour Party just the latest to fracture. Could America’s parties be next?

Could we have our first four-party election in 2020 — with candidates from the Donald Trump far right, the old G.O.P. center right, the Joe Biden center left and the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez far left all squaring off, as the deepening divides within our two big parties simply can’t be papered over any longer? It’s not impossible.

Indeed, two phrases recently in the news that touch on core principles of the Democratic and Republican Parties are like fuses that could ignite much larger explosions in the coming year. Those phrases are: “unwilling to work” and “national emergency.”

On Feb. 7, Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional office sent out an F.A.Q. explainer of the Green New Deal that she’s proposing. The initiative aims “to mobilize every aspect of American society … to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all.””

Opinion | What if Mother Nature Is on the Ballot in 2020? – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By Thomas L. Friedman
Opinion Columnist

Aug. 14, 2018, 540
Flames reached the backyard of a home in Lake Elsinore, Calif., last week.
Credit
David McNew/EPA, via Shutterstock

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Flames reached the backyard of a home in Lake Elsinore, Calif., last week.CreditCreditDavid McNew/EPA, via Shutterstock
What if this time is different?

“There is an assumption that the 2020 presidential election will be business as usual: Donald Trump will run on the economy, social issues and immigration, and the Democratic candidate will run on income inequality, Democratic socialism and Trump’s character — the 2020 version of right-left U.S. politics.

But I believe there’s a sleeper issue out there that could force its way into the election. What if Mother Nature is on the ballot?

What if all the extreme weather this year — linked to climate change — gets even worse and more costly? What if the big 2020 issue is not left-right — but hot-cold or wet-dry? What if the big 2020 issue is not “Who lost Russia?” or “Who lost North Korea?” but “Who lost planet Earth?”

We’re talking about the natural world, so one has to be cautious. But if you look at all the destructive extreme weather buffeting the world this summer alone, it’s as if Mother Nature were saying to us: “Oh, you didn’t notice me tapping on your shoulder these past few years? O.K. Well, how about a little fire, Scarecrow? How about this:

“How about I bake Europe, set the biggest wildfire California has ever seen and more active wildfires — 460 in one day — than British Columbia has ever seen, and also start the worst forest fires in decades in Sweden, even extending north of the Arctic Circle where temperatures this month reached 86 degrees. Meanwhile, I’ll subject Japan to the heaviest rainfall it’s ever recorded, and then a couple weeks later the highest temperature it’s ever recorded — 106 degrees in Kumagaya, northwest of Tokyo. And for a punctuation mark, I’ll break the heat record in Death Valley, reaching 127 degrees, and burn the worst drought in living memory into Eastern Australia, where the BBC last week quoted a dairy farmer as saying, “It’s gotten to the point where it’s cheaper to shoot your cows than it is to feed them.” “

Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy, and Justice Roberts Tries to Save- What Makes America Great – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“For me, the most disturbing thing about the Trump presidency is the way each week, like a steady drip of acid, Donald Trump tries to erode the thing that truly makes us great as a country and the envy of so many around the world — the independence and nonpartisan character of our courts, our military, our F.B.I., our Border Patrol and our whole federal bureaucracy.

No modern president has been more willing to use U.S. service members or border police as props for his politics, to blithely declare without evidence that most of the 800,000 federal workers going unpaid during the government shutdown are Democrats, to refer to the Pentagon leadership as “my generals” and “my military,” and to denounce different federal judges who have ruled against him as a “so-called judge,” an “Obama judge” and a “Mexican” judge (even though he was born in Indiana).

Why is this so important? Because America’s core governing institutions were not built to be “conservative” or “liberal.” They were built to take our deepest values and our highest ideals and animate them, promote them and protect them — to bring them to life and to scale them. They are the continuity that binds one generation of Americans to the next and the beacon for how we work together to build an ever more perfect union.

At their best, these institutions have created the regulatory foundations and legal and security frameworks that have made America great — that have enabled innovation to be sparked, commerce to flourish and ideas to freely blossom. Rather than serving any party or person’s whims, these institutions have promoted and protected enduring American values, laws, norms and ideals.”

Opinion | George Washington for President – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Dear Reader. I think you know, after 23 years of my writing this column, that I’m not lazy. I always try to come up with fresh ideas. Today, though, I am fresh out of fresh ideas. More than any time in my career, I think our country is in danger. It has a disturbed man as president, whose job description — to be a healer of the country in times of great national hurt and to pull us together to do big hard things that can be done only together — conflicts with his political strategy, which is to divide us and mobilize his base with anger and fear. And time and again he has chosen the latter.

When a person is promoted to a top job in life, usually one of two things happens: He either grows or he swells — he either evolves and grows into that job or all of his worst instincts and habits become swollen and just expand over a wider field. I don’t have to tell you what happened with President Trump. He is a shameless liar and an abusive bully — only now he is doing it from the bully pulpit of the presidency.

When you have a president without shame, backed by a party without a spine, amplified by a TV network without integrity, reason is not an option and hope is not a strategy. The only restraint on Trump is a lever of national power in the hands of the opposition party that can force some accountability.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opinion | A President With No Shame and a Party With No Guts – Thomas Friedman – NYT

“If your puppy makes a mess on your carpet and you shout “Bad dog,” there is a good chance that that puppy’s ears will droop, his head will bow and he may even whimper. In other words, even a puppy acts ashamed when caught misbehaving. That is not true of Donald Trump. Day in and day out, he proves to us that he has no shame. We’ve never had a president with no shame — and it’s become a huge source of power for him and trouble for us.

And what makes Trump even more powerful and problematic is that this president with no shame is combined with a party with no spine and a major network with no integrity — save for a few real journalists at Fox News like the outstanding Chris Wallace.”

Opinion | Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

LANCASTER, Pa. — Last week I wrote about why political parties across the industrial world are fracturing from the top down. Today I’m writing about the political units that are working. On this Fourth of July, if you want to be an optimist about America, stand on your head. The country looks so much better from the bottom up.

I know — the current cliché is that we’re a country divided by two coasts, two coasts that are supposedly diversifying, pluralizing, modernizing and globalizing, while in flyover America everyone is high on opioids, cheering for President Trump and waiting for 1950 to return. That’s totally wrong.

Our country is actually a checkerboard of cities and communities — some that are forming what I call “complex adaptive coalitions” and are thriving from the bottom up, and others that can’t build such adaptive coalitions and are rapidly deteriorating. You can find both on the coasts and both in the interior — and you can find both in just one little corner of south-central Pennsylvania.

I was invited in April to give a paid book talk here in Lancaster, and I was so blown away by the societal innovation the town’s leaders had employed to rebuild their once-struggling city and county that I decided to return with my reporter’s notebook and interview them.

 

My original host was the Hourglass, a foundation founded by community leaders in Lancaster County in 1997, when the city of Lancaster was a crime-ridden ghost town at night where people were afraid to venture and when the county’s dominant industrial employer, Armstrong World Industries, was withering.

Some of the leading citizens decided that “time was running out” — hence “Hourglass” — and that no cavalry was coming to save them — not from the state’s capital or the nation’s capital. They realized that the only way they could replace Armstrong and re-energize the downtown was not with another dominant company, but by throwing partisan politics out the window and forming a complex adaptive coalition in which business leaders, educators, philanthropists, social innovators and the local government would work together to unleash entrepreneurship and forge whatever compromises were necessary to fix the city.”

David Lindsay Jr:

Bravo Thomas Friedman. DLTB GUD

Don’t let the bastards get you down.

This piece reminds me of how excited I was in Business School at the University of Washington, to hear a Professor Cecil Bell talk about Organizational Development and its tool kit. That is the same subject, or set of tools and practices described in the town of Lancaster.  Bell collaborated on a small text book with Wendell French called Organization Devolopmment, which is the most valuable set of tools I learned of in my MBA program, if you are interested in the renaissance of communities or organizations.

Get the right people together, get them to trust each other enough to brainstorm, sort and prioritize the data, and then the natural proclivity of humans to problem solve will kick in, and miracles can and do happen.

Get Out of Facebook and Into the N.R.A.’s Face – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last week’s mass shooting, wrote a beautiful essay for CNN.com that declared: “At the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools. But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.”Cameron, God bless you for that sentiment. But just one piece of respectful advice: If your generation and mine want to get serious about a gun control crusade, we all need to get out of Facebook and into someone’s face: the N.R.A.’s.This fight can’t be won on Twitter or Instagram. They do get people into the streets. But social media have created a world of faux activism — “Hey, I tweeted about it” — that the bad guys take advantage of. The N.R.A. is not just in the chat rooms. It’s in the cloakrooms of Congress and state legislatures. And it’s there with bags of money and votes it uses to reward lawmakers who do its bidding and hurt those who don’t.I loved seeing the 100 students from your high school taking buses Tuesday to Florida’s capital to directly press lawmakers. That’s a great start. I hope every high school follows.But, ultimately, nothing will change unless young and old who oppose the N.R.A. run for office, vote, help someone vote, register someone to vote or help fund someone’s campaign — so we can threaten the same electoral pain as the National Rifle Association, which, according to PolitiFact, spent $203.2 million between 1998 and 2017 funding its candidates, defeating gun control advocates and lobbying. This is not about persuading people with better ideas. We tried that. It’s about generating raw electoral power and pain.

General Mattis- Stand Up to Trump or He’ll Drag You Down – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“That leaves Mattis as the last man standing — the only one who has not been infected by Trump’s metastasizing ethical cancer, the only one who has not visibly lied on Trump’s behalf, and who can still put some fear into Trump.

Well, Secretary Mattis, here’s some free advice to the last man standing: Don’t just stand there. If you just stand there, you’ll be next. Because Trump and Sanders will be looking to enlist your old uniform next in their defense — that is, if Trump doesn’t throw you under the bus first to escape responsibility for the bungled operation in Niger.Secretary Mattis, we don’t need any more diagnosis of the problem. We need action. And I am not talking about a coup. I mean you need to lead McMaster, Tillerson and Kelly (Pompeo is a lost cause) in telling Trump that if he does not change his ways you will all quit, en masse.

Trump needs to know that it is now your way or the highway — not his. That is how you talk to a bully. It’s the only language he understands.Tell him: No more ridiculous tweeting attacks on people every morning; no more telling senators who forge bipartisan compromises on immigration or health care that he’s with them one day and against them the next; no more casual lying; no more feeding the base white supremacist “red meat” — no more distracting us from the real work of forging compromises for the American people and no more eroding the American creed.

Led by you and you only, Secretary Mattis, your little squadron with Tillerson, Kelly and McMaster still has power. And if you can’t together force Trump onto an agenda of national healing and progress, then you should together tell him that he can govern with his kids and Sanders — because you took an oath to defend the Constitution, not to wipe up Trump’s daily filth with the uniform three of you wore so honorably.”

David Lindsay:  I’m afraid I agree with Tom Friedman. I second this piece.