Opinion | Truth and Virtue in the Age of Trump – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist
Nov. 12, 2018, 423 comments
Image above:
At a rally in West Virginia a few days before the midterms, President Trump did as he had more than 100 times a week in the run-up to the elections: lie.              CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

“Remember when freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose? These days it’s just another word for giving lots of money to Donald Trump.

What with the midterm elections — and the baseless Republican cries of voting fraud — I don’t know how many people heard about Trump’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson, wife of casino owner and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson. The medal is normally an acknowledgment of extraordinary achievement or public service; on rare occasions this includes philanthropy. But does anyone think the Adelsons’ charitable activities were responsible for this honor?

Now, this may seem like a trivial story. But it’s a reminder that the Trumpian attitude toward truth — which is that it’s defined by what benefits Trump and his friends, not by verifiable facts — also applies to virtue. There is no heroism, there are no good works, except those that serve Trump.

About truth: Trump, of course, lies a lot — in the run-up to the midterms he was lying in public more than 100 times each week. But his assault on truth goes deeper than the frequency of his lies, because Trump and his allies don’t accept the very notion of objective facts. “Fake news” doesn’t mean actual false reporting; it means any report that hurts Trump, no matter how solidly verified. And conversely, any assertion that helps Trump, whether it’s about job creation or votes, is true precisely because it helps him.”

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The Democrats Won the House. Now What? – Editorial -The New York Times

“First up: Pick policy battles wisely.

For the midterms, Democrats adopted a trio of policy goals: lowering health care costs, creating jobs by investing in infrastructure, and cleaning up politics via a comprehensive reform package that would tighten ethics laws and shore up the integrity of our electoral system. These are popular causes with bipartisan appeal.

They are also causes for which the president has explicitly expressed his own enthusiasm, whether real or feigned. This gives Democrats the chance to press President Trump about whether he is interested in making progress on his stated goals or is a hypocrite intent on waging partisan trench warfare for the remainder of his term.”

Opinion | The Trump Legions – By Thomas B. Edsall- NYT

Thomas B. Edsall
By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Nov. 1, 2018, 98
Image
Thumbs up on President Trump in Murphysboro, Ill., last week.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“When reporters asked President Trump last week if he bore any responsibility for the pipe bombs sent to many of his critics and adversaries, he declared his innocence:

“Not at all, no. There is no blame. There is no anything.”

At the same time, an Oct. 29 PRRI survey revealed that 69 percent of voters believe that Trump has “damaged the dignity of the presidency.”

Trump reinforced this public assessment in his answer to another question: Did he plan to phone any of the officials who had been targeted with bombs, including his predecessors in the White House, the Clintons and the Obamas? His reply:

“I think we’ll probably pass, thank you very much.”

These exchanges raise the same two questions that have been posed repeatedly during the Trump presidency:

How could this man have been elected to the highest office in the land? And how can Trump not only remain in office but, for the moment at least, appear to stand a reasonable chance of being renominated and even re-elected?

To get some answers to these questions, I turned to a 2018 paper by Ronald Inglehart and two fellow political scientists at the University of Michigan, as well as to a new book by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, who are political scientists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

In “The Silent Revolution in Reverse: Trump and the Xenophobic Authoritarian Populist Parties,” Inglehart, Jon Miller and Logan Woods provide fresh insight on a subject to which Inglehart, at times writing with Pippa Norris of Harvard, has devoted much of his career: the ongoing tension between materialist and post-materialist values and the political consequences of that tension.”

Opinion | Voters- You’re Being Manipulated – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“. . . . . HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.

These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.

Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.

President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Network, according to CNN.

This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!”

Opinion | Trump- Terror- and the ‘No Guardrails’ Presidency – By Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist, Nov. 1, 2018 264

Visitors at a a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Monday.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“Maybe we should refer to Saturday’s massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, along with the campaign of mail bombs that preceded it, as “man-caused disasters.”

That was the euphemism then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano used in lieu of the word “terrorism” during congressional testimony in 2009. Conservatives like me never let her live it down. How can you address a problem if you won’t even call it by its proper name?

Conservatives objected again when President Obama went to great lengths to use the acronym ISIL or ISIS instead of Islamic State, lest there be any association between a religion and the barbaric deeds carried out in its name. And we objected a third time when liberals tried to suggest that personal derangement, not Islamist sympathies, explained acts like Omar Mateen’s 2016 rampage at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

So conservatives should be just as clear about what we saw last week. There is no reason to think that Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers and alleged Florida mail bomber Cesar Sayoc are “deranged.” There is every reason to believe their acts are politically motivated. They are not “crazies” in the category of Gabrielle Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner. They are terrorists in the class of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, or Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.”

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 | 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 | Hate Is on the Ballot Next Week – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“In America 2018, whataboutism is the last refuge of scoundrels, and bothsidesism is the last refuge of cowards.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a wave of hate crimes. Just in the past few days, bombs were mailed to a number of prominent Democrats, plus CNN. Then, a gunman massacred 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Meanwhile, another gunman killed two African-Americans at a Louisville supermarket, after first trying unsuccessfully to break into a black church — if he had gotten there an hour earlier, we would probably have had another mass murder.

All of these hate crimes seem clearly linked to the climate of paranoia and racism deliberately fostered by Donald Trump and his allies in Congress and the media.

Killing black people is an old American tradition, but it is experiencing a revival in the Trump era.

When the bombs were discovered, many on the right immediately claimed that they were fake news or a false flag operation by liberals. But the F.B.I. quickly tracked down the apparent source of the explosive devices: A fanatical Trump supporter, whom many are already calling the MAGABomber. His targets were people and a news organization Trump has attacked in many speeches. (Since the bombings, Trump has continued to attack the news media as the “enemy of the people.”)”

Opinion | ‘Riling Up the Crazies’ – by Maureen Dowd – NYT

“WASHINGTON — As long as I’ve covered politics, Republicans have been trying to scare me.

Sometimes, it has been about gays and transgender people and uppity women looming, but usually it has been about people with darker skin looming.

They’re coming, always coming, to take things and change things and hurt people.

A Democratic president coined the expression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But it was Republicans who flipped the sentiment and turned it into a powerful and remorseless campaign ethos: Make voters fear fear itself.

President Trump was relieved when the F.B.I. arrested a bomb suspect — a racist, homophobic, roid-raging, strip-club-loving, MAGA-worshiping Florida man who was living in a van that looked like a decoupage of Fox News propaganda.

The real fear that Cesar Sayoc Jr. is accused of spreading was distracting from the fake fear Trump was spreading to spur Republicans to the polls. And the president didn’t like it. Before Sayoc was caught, Trump implied that the terrorism was a Democratic setup to deflect from his midterms roadshow. Pipe bombs getting in the way of pipe dreams.”

David Lindsay:  Three stars for Maureen Dowd, for hitting one out of the ballpark. She has come along way, since she bragged about smoozing with Trump, and cattily cut up Hillary Clinton.

Opinion | Trump’s Ignoring Our Real ‘National Emergies’ – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“It’s not about immigration. It’s about bigotry.

That’s the real story — to the extent there is a story at all — about the caravan of 5,000 impoverished Central Americans rampaging toward the United States border at, er, two miles an hour.

President Trump, ever the champion speller, declares this to be a “National Emergy”! He may call out the Army! He’s talking about sealing the border!

So, here’s some perspective, by my back-of-envelope calculations:

More than 1.4 million foreigners immigrate to the United States each year. If, say, half the caravan reaches the border, and half of those people actually enter the U.S., they would represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of this year’s immigrants.

If the caravan proceeds by foot, during the period of its journey 16,800 Americans will die from drugs.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 690,000 Americans will become homeless, including 267,000 children.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, 8,850 Americans will die from guns, including suicides and murders.

In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 9,000 Americans will die from lack of health insurance (people die at higher rates when they’re uninsured, although there’s disagreement about how much higher).

Maybe the real “National Emergy” is drugs, homelessness, gun deaths and lack of health insurance?