David Wallace-Wells | What’s Worse: Climate Denial or Climate Hypocrisy? – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“In early 2020, Larry Fink — the chief executive of BlackRock, a financial firm whose $10 trillion in assets under management are roughly equivalent to the aggregate wealth of Latin America, and about twice that of Africa — did his best to stake his claim as the face of an environmentally responsible business future. “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” Fink wrote in his annual letter to C.E.O.s that year. He called global warming the most serious threat to the financial system in his 40 years of experience and promised a drastic response from his firm: making sustainability “integral to portfolio construction and risk management”; ditching investments that contribute to the problem; and pursuing not just sustainability but transparency, too, so we all could see what impacts the company was having.

Not long before, captains of industry like Fink could have gotten away with climate indifference, and many with outright denial. But something had changed — with the Paris agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, with Greta Thunberg’s school strikes and the arrival, in the global North, of obvious climate disasters long sequestered in the global South. And finance seemed to take the hint, creating a new wave of purportedly virtuous “environmental, social and governance” (E.S.G.) investing.

But in his annual letter this January, just two years later, Fink struck a radically different tone, rejecting “woke” capitalism and elevating the principle that investors should center only on profits. In the spring, the firm announced it would support fewer shareholder resolutions on climate change, “as we do not consider them to be consistent with our clients’ long-term financial interests.” Just months before, BlackRock closed a $15.5 billion investment in Saudi pipelines.”

David Lindsay.  Amen. Bravo. Here is one of many good comments:

Nomind     Nowhere3h ago

Quarterly profits; that’s what drives this. Something that happens 20, 30, or 100 years in the future doesn’t affect my bottom line right now. Like any animal, human beings are wired to maximize immediate gain. Although we have the cognitive capacity to plan for the future, collectively, we don’t. Time and again, I return to E.O. Wilson’s famous quote: “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”

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David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you David Wallace-Wells. I really thought we had turned a major corner, because of the leadership of Larry Fink at BlackRock. Well, I was wrong again. Edward O Wilson wrote of extinction and date ranges, that included the following paraphrase, we are on track to lose 80% of the species on the planet in the next 80 years. If we lose 50% of the world’s species, humans will probably not make it.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Paul Krugman | What a Dying Lake Says About the Future – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“A few days ago The Times published a report on the drying up of the Great Salt Lake, a story I’m ashamed to admit had flown under my personal radar. We’re not talking about a hypothetical event in the distant future: The lake has already lost two-thirds of its surface area, and ecological disasters — salinity rising to the point where wildlife dies off, occasional poisonous dust storms sweeping through a metropolitan area of 2.5 million people — seem imminent.

As an aside, I was a bit surprised that the article didn’t mention the obvious parallels with the Aral Sea, a huge lake that the Soviet Union had managed to turn into a toxic desert.

In any case, what’s happening to the Great Salt Lake is pretty bad. But what I found really scary about the report is what the lack of an effective response to the lake’s crisis says about our ability to respond to the larger, indeed existential threat of climate change.”

Margaret Renkl | Monarch Butterflies Are In Decline. I Wanted to Help. – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — After all my blue false indigo was killed by a late frost, I went down to the garden center at the farmer’s market looking for more. Blue false indigo is a host plant of the clouded sulphur butterfly, and clouded sulphurs are the most reliable guests in my pollinator patch. I would hate to be caught short-handed when they returned in all their yellow glory. There have been so few butterflies lately.

Naturally I had to walk around the rest of the garden center, too, looking for other perennials that feed native pollinators, but the only ones on offer that day were flowers I already have in abundance. When I came upon a few pots of swamp milkweed tucked into a corner, I turned to leave. Milkweed is the host plant of the monarch butterfly, but I have plenty of milkweed.

As I was turning, something striped caught my eye. I looked closer. Monarch caterpillars were munching away on the leaves.

Reader, I screamed.”

Michelle Cottle | Jan. 6 Committee Hearing: Heroes and Villains – The New York Times

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“It turns out that not even Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka bought into the former president’s toxic fantasies about the 2020 election having been stolen from him. She came to understand pretty quickly after the election that there was no evidence of a plot by Democrats, accepting the assessment of Bill Barr, Mr. Trump’s attorney general at the time, that the game had not been rigged. Mr. Trump had lost, and all the wild claims to the contrary, as Mr. Barr says he told Mr. Trump, were “bullshit.”

Snippets from Ms. Trump’s and Mr. Barr’s recorded testimonies were among the many engrossing bits of evidence to emerge Thursday evening during the Jan. 6 House committee’s first public hearing. The grainy video clips somehow fit the somber mood of the proceedings and fueled the sense that dark dealings were at last coming to the light for inspection by the American people.

It is a heavy lift to get people to pay attention to a story that they think they already know — and that many have grown exhausted hearing about. And Democrats, bless their hearts, are often lousy storytellers, too focused on dry data or policy rhetoric or high-minded ideological ideals to weave a strong narrative or make a gut-level connection.

But in their opening argument to the American people, the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 committee presented a story that was both informative and resonant — by turns heartbreaking, hair-raising and infuriating. Fact by fact, clip by clip, the committee laid out the contours of its case that the president of the United States spearheaded a monthslong, multifaceted effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, culminating in the violent attack on the Capitol. More details will come in later hearings. But the committee’s Republican vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, captured the crux of the story in her opening remarks: “President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

Paul Krugman | Crime and Political Punishment – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“Results from Tuesday’s primaries in California suggest that crime may be a big issue in the midterm elections. In San Francisco, a progressive prosecutor was ousted in a recall vote. In Los Angeles, a businessman and former Republican who has run for mayor on the promise to be a big crime fighter made a strong showing.

It’s not hard to see why crime has moved up on the political agenda. Murders surged nationwide in 2020 and ticked up further in 2021, although we don’t really know why. Right-wingers blame Black Lives Matter, because of course they do. A more likely explanation is the stress caused by the pandemic — stress that, among other things, led to a large increase in domestic violence.

Despite the recent surge, the overall homicide rate is still well below its peak in 1991, and the geography of the political backlash doesn’t seem closely correlated with actual crime rates: San Francisco and Los Angeles both have less violent crime than, say, Houston. But rising crime is real, and voter concern is understandable.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
It is hard to be consistently excellent. Krugman writes about the precipitous drop in crime, “But my reading is that there’s no consensus on why that decline — which took place all across the nation, in red states and blue — took place.” It appears that my favorite economist has not read “Freakonomics,” by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. Levitt dedicates a chapter to this issue, and claims that his studies show that abortion became legal in the 1973, and many states had dramatic down turns in crime 20 years later. Why, he asked, then stated, probably because there was a dramatic decrease in unwanted male babies many of whom would grow to be hardened criminals in about 20 years. He has lots of data, from a large number of states. Paul Krugman should at least address the leading explanation in the minds of lesser men.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Frank Bruni | Liz Cheney Will Not Tolerate Trump’s Lies – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

“I keep waiting for Liz Cheney to flinch.

I keep looking for some sign that her nerve is faltering, that the attacks are getting to her and that the loneliness of her situation — unconditionally contemptuous of Donald Trump, emphatically committed to a Republican Party beyond him — has become unbearable.

But no. She’s all in and she’s all steel. It could well be the political death of her. Or it could give her a kind of immortality more meaningful than any office.

Cheney, who represents Wyoming in the House, is front and center this week, with a starring role as the vice chair of the House committee whose investigation into the Jan. 6 riot has reached a dramatic culmination in prime-time television hearings. She’s one of just two Republicans on the nine-member panel.

But while the other, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, isn’t running for re-election, Cheney is in the middle of a furiously contested primary battle against a prominent Wyoming Republican official who has welded herself to Trump. Just two weeks ago, Trump traveled to the deep red state, which he won by more than 40 percentage points in 2020, to command his supporters to oust Cheney when they vote on Aug. 16. He said that she had “thrown in her lot with the radical left.”

Bret Stephens | The Left Is Being Mugged by Reality, Again – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

This column has been updated to reflect news developments.

“Is a decade of destructive progressive ideology finally coming to an end?

That San Franciscans, some of America’s most reliably liberal voters, chose on Tuesday to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, one of America’s most leftward D.A.s, is a sign of hope.

Voter patience for what Mayor London Breed of San Francisco calls “all the bullshit that has destroyed our city” — aggressive shopliftingrampant car burglariesopen-air drug use, filthy homeless encampmentssidewalks turned into toilets — is finally running thin.

Progressive overreach has its price. Even for progressives.

What’s going on in San Francisco is happening nationwide, and not just in matters of criminal justice and urban governance. In one area after another, the left is being mugged by reality, to borrow Irving Kristol’s famous phrase. Consider a few examples:     . . . . . “

David Lindsay:

Great points Bret, thank you.

My beyond beef, is that you sound ignorant, or dumb, on the threat of climate change. Your brilliance is your hard honesty, that we climate hawks have a tough job, since, as you point out, most folks are for the environment, as long as it won’t cost them more than an extra $10 a year. The irony, is that as you sound almost gloating over our failures to mitigate climate change, you seem oblivious to the fact that the planet we are trying to keep habitable, is the same one you and your family live on.

Your punishment, or assignment, is to go study Edward O Wilson, and learn about the sixth great extinction of species going on right now all around us. Why did he conclude that at current rates of growth and pollution, we will lose 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years, and humans will be probably one of the casualties.  Some aliens in outer space are probably gloating, since those humans won’t last very long.

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Thomas L. Friedman | The Ukraine War Still Holds Surprises. The Biggest May Be for Putin. – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“LONDON — Here’s a surprising fact: At a time when Americans can’t agree on virtually anything, there’s been a consistent majority in favor of giving generous economic and military aid to Ukraine in its fight against Vladimir Putin’s effort to wipe it off the map. It’s doubly surprising when you consider that most Americans couldn’t find Ukraine on a map just a few months ago, as it’s a country with which we’ve never had a special relationship.

Sustaining that support through this summer, though, will be doubly important as the Ukraine war settles into a kind of “sumo” phase — two giant wrestlers, each trying to throw the other out of the ring, but neither willing to quit or able to win.

While I expect some erosion as people grasp how much this war is driving up global energy and food prices, I’m still hopeful that a majority of Americans will hang in there until Ukraine can recover its sovereignty militarily or strike a decent peace deal with Putin. My near-term optimism doesn’t derive from reading polls, but reading history — in particular, Michael Mandelbaum’s new book, “The Four Ages of American Foreign Policy: Weak Power, Great Power, Superpower, Hyperpower.

Mandelbaum, professor emeritus of U.S. foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (we co-wrote a book in 2011), argues that while U.S. attitudes toward Ukraine may seem utterly unexpected and novel, they are not. Looked at through the sweep of U.S. foreign policy — which his book compellingly chronicles through the lens of the four different power relationships America has had with the world — they’re actually quite familiar and foreseeable. Indeed, so much so that both Putin and China’s president, Xi Jinping, would both benefit from reading this book.

Throughout U.S. history, our nation has oscillated between two broad approaches to foreign policy, Mandelbaum explained in an interview, echoing a key theme in his book: “One emphasizes power, national interest and security and is associated with Theodore Roosevelt. The other stresses the promotion of American values and is identified with Woodrow Wilson.”

While these two world views were often in competition, that was not always the case. And when a foreign policy challenge came along that was in harmony with both our interests and our values, it hit the sweet spot and could command broad, deep and lasting public support.

“This happened in World War II and the Cold War,” Mandelbaum noted, “and it appears to be happening again with Ukraine.” “

David Lindsay: Bravo Thomas Friedman.  Here is a comment that supports us Ukrainiacs.

Citizen
NYC June 7

Interesting take on the conflict. Speaking of Putin, I’ve come to the conclusion that Putin is doomed. His biggest miscalculation (in a sea of many) is not understanding the national interest of his biggest ally and neighbor, China. Apparently, China was not consulted in Putin’s Ukraine ‘adventure’. But China was expected to back up Putin when his adventure went awry. However, China has it’s own reasons to refuse–and not simply because of threats by the West not to intervene. The reason is, Putin did not give a thought to China’s global aspirations, which are bigger than Putin’s delusions. China has had a longstanding initiative with respect to Asia, and in particular, Africa, called the “Belt and Road” initiative, which aims to provide African infrastructure in exchange for access to Africa’s continental (and under-utilized) resources. And right now, Putin’s adventure is causing a serious food shortage in Africa and parts of Asia. In short, Putin’s adventure in Ukraine is hurting the leaders China needs to do business with. Even if it wanted to help Putin, it cannot be seen to be assisting the very cause of Asia and Africa’s deepening food crisis. Add in his impetuous behavior, and lack of care as a neighbor, and China may well decide it has nothing to lose by letting Putin (and Russia) twist in the wind. Bordering Russia’s unpopulated Far East, China billion+ population stands to gain from an AWOL Russia. Russia’s High Command knows this. Putin is toast.

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Paul Krugman | From the Big Short to the Big Scam (cryptocurrency) – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Remember “The Big Short”? The 2010 book by Michael Lewis, made into a 2015 film, told the story of the 2008 global financial crisis by following a handful of investors who were willing to bet on the unthinkable — the proposition that the huge rise in housing prices in the years before the crisis was a bubble, and that many of the seemingly sophisticated financial instruments that helped inflate housing would eventually be revealed as worthless junk.

Why were so few willing to bet against the bubble? A large part of the answer, I’d suggest, was what we might call the incredulity factor — the sheer scale of the mispricing the skeptics claimed to see. Even though there was clear evidence that housing prices were out of line, it was hard to believe they could be that far out of line — that $6 trillion in real estate wealth would evaporate, that investors in mortgage-backed securities would lose around $1 trillion. It just didn’t seem plausible that markets, and the conventional wisdom saying that markets were OK, could be that wrong.

But they were. Which brings us to the current state of crypto.

Last week the Federal Trade Commission reported that “cryptocurrency is quickly becoming the payment of choice for many scammers,” accounting for “about one of every four dollars reported lost to fraud.” Given how small a role cryptocurrency plays in ordinary transactions, that’s impressive.”

Margaret Renkl | We Need to Stay Heartbroken About School Shootings – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — I wish I could report that shock was my first reaction to the news from Uvalde, but it was not shock. My first reaction to the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers was grief — terrible, garment-rending grief — followed by something dangerously close to resignation. Here we go again. And again and again. When you know something unbearable will happen, and then it happens, grief and resignation sit together in the same pew.

My own children are long past school age, but I am the wife of a teacher, the mother of a teacher, the sister of two teachers. Many of my dearest friends are teachers. The ever-present threat of this carnage is terrifying, and it is personal.

So it is for all of us, even if we aren’t the ones making lesson plans or packing school lunchboxes. We were all once vulnerable children, entirely dependent on adults to protect us. Keeping children safe is the most fundamental obligation we have as a culture.

But too many of our leaders no longer accept the responsibility of protecting innocents. The elected Republicans who bitterly fight all sensible gun laws also fight access to affordable health care, including treatment for mental illness. And they keep getting away with their inaction because they are so adept at preying on our most primitive fears, using them to divide us from one another.”