Opinion | Obama’s Curious Cautiousness – By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

“Barack Obama continues his rather strange mission to confront and correct young liberal activists. It is an odd post-presidential note: A man who is beloved and admired on the left is using his cultural currency as a corrective against those who are on a quest for change.

Wednesday morning on Peter Hamby’s Snapchat show, “Good Luck America,” Obama said this:

“If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund the police,’ but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.”

It was not the first time Obama had taken aim at these young activists. Last year he also took a swipe at wokeness and “call-out culture,” saying, among other things: “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.”

That speech got him an amen from Ann Coulter, who tweeted: “Good for Obama. (Not sarcastic!)”

These chastisements by Obama delineate the difference between the politician and the activist.”

I’m afraid this is one Charles Blow’s worst columns ever. I quit it early, and went to the comments, and found my response in the top comment, which I endorse:

Socrates
Verona, N.J.Dec. 3

If you want progressive change, and the majority does, you have to be message smartly….not recklessly. America has a self-destructive conservative, regressive streak that requires surgical precision to combat. America also has the best right-wing industrial propaganda complex in the world. Because of these two factors, political messaging and words are critical. The words ‘defund the police’ were a catastrophic choice that helped sink the progressive cause. If people had just stuck to the words ‘police reform’, which is what most Americans want, Democrats would have had a much stronger election result nationwide. The word ‘socialism’ and the use of it by some Democrats was also catastrophic to the Democratic cause. It’s a word that few Americans understand, that is frequently misused, that most Americans are triggered and frightened by and that America’s political right has successfully scared Americans with since the McCarthy era. Republicans built a large part of their 2020 campaign strategy successfully pillorying ‘socialism’ and ‘defund the police’. Democrats need to choose their words better and outmaneuver the right’s industrial propaganda campaign. And incremental success is a world better than progressive perfectionism that tends to result in things like Donald Trump’s 2016 election thanks to the catastrophic progressive votes cast for Jill Stein. Obama’s right. Stay a little to the left, and avoid right-wing catastrophe, and make slow, steady progress.

55 Replies1335 Recommended

Opinion | Third Term of the Obama Presidency – By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“Barack Obama — his policies and his posture — just won a third term.

Joe Biden will be president because of his close association with Barack Obama, because he espoused many of the same centrist policies and positioning and because of public nostalgia for the normalcy and decency the Obama years provided.

Biden is a restoration president-elect, elected to right the ship and save the system. He is not so much a change agent as a reversion agent. He is elected to Make America Able to Sleep Again.

He doesn’t see his mission as shaking things up, but calming things down.

But, just as was the case with Obama, many of the people who made Biden’s win possible are far to the left of him. As Biden told a Miami television station last month: “I’m the guy that ran against socialists, OK. I’m the guy that’s the moderate. Remember, you guys were all talking, you’d interview me and say, ‘Well, you’re a moderate, how can you win the nomination?’ It’s who I am.” But progressives are not likely to be as silent now as they were during the Obama years.

Obama faced intense, often unfair, resistance from the right on every front, so many who wanted to push him in a more progressive direction held their criticism or limited it for fear of adding to the damage being done to him by his conservative opposition.

But many progressives emerged from that unhappy or downright angry. They are not likely to repeat what many consider a mistake.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NY Times Comment:
I’m sorry, you couldn’t be much farther off Mr. Blow. We had a chance for a 2nd blue wave, and we blew it. The left wing of the Democratic party has possibly damaged our only chance to mitigate climate change in the next 10 years. The far left has to modify their rhetoric of democratic socialism, and their unrealistic pleas for defund the police. Their refusal to look coldly at where the bulk of the country is, nearly cost us four more years of Trump, who was and is still working to end the democracy, as well as speed up the rape of the planet. Choosing language that Rupert Murdoch and his media empire can’t exploit is not just smart, it is a necessary sacrifice. AOC has so polluted the term Green New Deal with democratic socialist ideas, none of which I disagree with, that the term is now a danger to our political success in fighting climate change. Now we need to call it something else. We need a giant jobs program focused on efficient and sustainable development. And we need serious police reform, including reforms to make bad apples accountable. And a better safety net, could mean that the police are not always required to handle calls for the mentally sick.

Opinion | Destructive Power of Despair – by Charles Blow – The New York Times

by Charles Blow:

“. . .  Indeed, America is not only the progenitor of this type of violence, but it sadly responds most to violence. That’s when people pay attention, that’s when the ears perk up, that’s when the news crews come.

During the Civil Rights Movement, the protesters practiced nonviolence, but they were regularly met with violence, and it was that violence that spurred action.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed after the violence against protesters was broadcast on TV, four little girls were killed in the bombing of Birmingham, Ala.’s 16th Street Baptist Church and the killing of Medgar Evers in 1963. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, popularly known as the Fair Housing Act, was passed after Martin Luther King was assassinated and rioting swept the country.

If America wants peace it must be responsive in peacetime. You can’t demonize an athlete who peacefully takes a knee to protest against police brutality, labeling him a “son of a bitch,” as President Trump did, and then pine for peaceful protests now.

It seems that no form of protest has been effective in this fight for justice. It seems that what the public and the power structure want is a continuation of the status quo. They want stillness and passivity. They want obedience. They want your suffering to be silent, your trauma to be tranquil.

That won’t happen.

Some of the people now breaking things and burning things and looting things are ironically participating in a storied American tradition. There has long been a penchant for destruction in this country, an insatiable bloodlust, that the country conveniently likes to forget.”

David Lindsay: I am devastated by the murder of George Floyd, and the culture which produces such police behavior. I also have no patience for looters. I want them stopped. Charles Blow has at least made me think harder about my hardened heart, as he exlains why one might sympathize with them. Here is a comment I liked

J. Grant

Pacifica, CA
Times Pick

Here in the Bay Area of California, what’s particularly distressing is that the rage felt by Africans Americans over George Floyd’s death is causing (in places like Oakland) the looting and burning of many businesses owned by African Americans. It’s one thing to convey anger against our nation’s racially-biased policIng by demonstrating, but why hurt some of the very same people who are being victimized through random acts of violence?

20 Replies702 Recommended

Opinion | They Acquitted Trump. Make Them Pay! – by Charles Blow – The New York Times

“This has long since stopped being solely about Trump. This is about the whole of the Republican Party. Indeed, there is no longer a Republican Party. There is now only the Party of Trump. He is them; they are him.

Sure, most Republican senators are safe this cycle, but some are most definitely vulnerable. That vulnerability must be capitalized upon. They have to go. These are senators like Susan Collins of Maine, David Perdue of Georgia, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Martha McSally of Arizona.”

Opinion | My Journey to Radical Environmentalism – By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“I can’t quite remember the moment when I became radicalized about protecting the environment and the planet, but it happened last year. That’s late in life, I know. At 49 years old, it is very possible and even likely that I have more years behind me than in front of me, but that is when it happened.

Before that, I didn’t do more than was required by law.

I have lived in New York City since 1994. Mandatory recycling was phased in citywide by 1997. So, I recycled what was required.

Five years ago, when my last two children went away to college, I got rid of my car, but not for environmental reasons. I just didn’t need it anymore, and it was expensive to maintain.

But something happened to me last year.

Maybe it was Greta Thunberg’s advocacy, and hearing her impassioned United Nations speech in which she blasted world leaders, saying:

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying; entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” “

David Lindsay: I read this piece with delight. I wrote a comment that started: Welcome Charles Blow, welcome.

Here are the two most liked comments I approved:

Daniel Smith
Leverett, MA
Times Pick

I’m very glad to see that Charles Blow, someone I respect a great deal, has discovered the environment. But the environmentalism he describes is in no way radical. It is not radical in the popular sense of embracing major change and it is not radical in the classical sense of going to the roots of a problem. (On both of those counts, a good example of radical environmentalism would be the Green New Deal, which is notably absent here.) We are not going to be saved by changing individual consumption or by proselytizing–this has been the mantra for decades and it has failed miserably–but only by organized and massive political activism that changes the way our society as a whole governs itself. The problem is systemic and social, and the solution must occur at that level also. This is certainly Greta Thunberg’s message, and also the message of virtually every expert you can find on social change and social movements. So I hope Charles will keep us posted (and soon!) on how his environmentalism evolves in a truly radical dimension.

7 Replies380 Recommended

John Williams commented January 8

John Williams
Petrolia, CA

“I think that the only way to prevent the radical alteration of our planet is to commit to a radical alteration of our own behavior.” Yup, that’s what the Green New Deal is about. As an old man who learned the basic physics of global warming i 1970, and who watched economic inequality grow obscenely over the second half of his life, I say it is about time.

5 Replies331 Recommended

Opinion | Bloomberg’s Bogus- Belated Mea Culpa -by Charles Blow – The New York Times

“Last Sunday I wrote a column entitled “You Must Never Vote for Bloomberg” because of Michael Bloomberg’s promotion, advocacy and defense of the racist stop-and-frisk policy that ballooned during his terms as mayor of New York City.

This Sunday, Bloomberg apologized for that policy.

Speaking at the Christian Cultural Center, a black megachurch in Brooklyn, Bloomberg said:

“Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong. I didn’t understand that back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know, good intentions aren’t good enough. Now, hindsight is 20/20. But, as crime continued to come down as we reduced stops, and as it continued to come down during the next administration, to its credit, I now see that we could and should have acted sooner and acted faster to cut the stops. I wish we had. I’m sorry that we didn’t. But, I can’t change history. However today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”

This is a necessary apology, but a hard one to take, coming only now, as he considers a run for the Democratic nomination, a nomination that is nearly impossible to secure without the black vote.

It feels like the very definition of pandering.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment.
Charles Blow, I was a big fan of yours for years, and reposted your essasys on my political blog, InconvenientNews.net. But something has changed. What? There is a brittle arrogance to the tone of your position here. The sincere apology of a successful and rich white man is unacceptable, because he hasn’t, as your fans have commented, offeredd to make ammends equal to his sin. My goodness, trying to save the country from Donald Trump, and then facing the resposiblity of the presidency could actually give one repenting sinner a real chance to make ammends, like you have possilby never considered. There can be a deafness to the far left and right, where apologies are never accepted. As humans, we all have to be careful to guard against total clarity.

Opinion | Democrats, Dream Big but Tell the Whole Truth – by Charles Blow – The New York Times

“So I say to the Democratic field: Give me your biggest, boldest ideas. Almost none of them are policies you could institute by executive action. Almost all require acts of Congress, and Congress would likely produce something vastly different than what you propose, if they pass a bill at all.

Instead, these proposals are statements of principle, and framing of goals, sketching a vision. Vision is key. If your only vision is what you think can squeak through, you’re blind to the desires of the liberal heart, to the American heart, to the desire for the country to aspire to and achieve greatness.

All that said, I still believe that the candidates with the biggest plans need to level with voters about how costly, painful and disruptive transformational changes are likely to be, at least in the short term.

Take for instance the transformation of our health insurance system: Whether we are talking about Medicare for All or an expansion of Obamacare with a public option, there is a sticker price.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Charles Blow. I love this essay, and it resonates and shines. I hope Elizabeth Warren reads it too, and learns something. Same for Joe Biden. I agree that “voters are adult enough to handle the truth,” but wise enough to know that nothing is as easy as it should be.
My favorite expression in 2019 is the admonishment from writers like David Brooks, that to be civilized, you have to be able to hold contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time about something you study or care about. One possibly astute writer in the NYT after the recent Democratic Debate said, Warren was marked down by the op-ed writers who graded the debate from 1 to 10, but not necessaily by the general public. She didn’t give the GOP hate machine the sound bite, this will raise your taxes. But she also appeared to not trust the public to hear the strengths and weaknesses and complexities of her health care plan. She let another on the stage, possibly Uncle Bernie, yes your taxes will go up, but not by as much as your medical expenses will go down.
Meanwhile, if Joe Biden would relax a little, he will make a great president, and he could get elected, ie, win the electoral college, in this maelstrom of fake news and hate.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Impeach Donald Trump? – By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

By Charles M. Blow
Opinion Columnist

April 21, 2019, 419

“The Mueller report has been released, with redactions of course, and it is a damning document. Not only does it detail Russian efforts to attack our election to help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign’s eager acceptance of that help, it paints a picture of Donald Trump as an unethical man with no regard for the rule of law.

In this report, we see a president who doesn’t deserve to be president. We see attempts over and over to obstruct justice, which in some cases succeed.

The question is: What are we going to do about it? Obstruction of justice is a crime. If Trump committed that crime, he’s a criminal. Are we simply going to allow a criminal to sit in the Oval Office and face no consequence? Are we simply going to let the next presidential election be the point at which Trump is punished or rewarded?

It is maddening to think that we are at such a pass. But, my mind is made up: I say impeach him.

I know all the arguments against.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment.
Practically, impeachment by the house is only a good thing, if it helps elect a Democrat in 2020, and turn over the senate. It makes absolute sense to investigate this president and his cronies, to bring his crimes and misdemeanors to light and embarrass thoughtful Republicans and his base. But it is important to try and see through various scenarios. If the house does impeach, then the senate, in a surprising move, could remove Drumpf, and replace him with Pence. My hunch is that it will be easier to defeat a badly exposed and wounded, con artist and hyper narcissist, than Mike Pence, or someone who might beat Pence in a GOP primary.
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. He performs a folk concert of songs and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | Michael Cohen Takes a Bullet – by Charles Blow – NYT

“Here’s to Michael Cohen. He’s finally getting something right.

First, let’s state forthrightly that Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer, the fix-it man, the one who mopped up Trump’s messes, the one who said he would “take a bullet for the president,” is an incredibly unsavory character and a bully.

He thought himself a tough guy, Trump’s muscle collecting the crumbs of Trump’s money.

For instance, in 2015 he threatened a Daily Beast reporter who was writing about the time Trump’s first wife, Ivana, claimed Trump had raped her, only to later say that she didn’t want her use of the word rape “to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

According to that reporter, Cohen erroneously — and outrageously — claimed, “You cannot rape your spouse,” before launching into this tirade:

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know … So I’m warning you, tread very [expletive] lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be [expletive] disgusting. You understand me?

“You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet … you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it.” “

Opinion | Trump- Treasonous Traitor – by Charles Blow and Commenters – NYT

“Put aside whatever suspicions you may have about whether Donald Trump will be directly implicated in the Russia investigation.

Trump is right now, before our eyes and those of the world, committing an unbelievable and unforgivable crime against this country. It is his failure to defend.

The intelligence community long ago concluded that Russia attacked our election in 2016 with the express intention of damaging Hillary Clinton and assisting Trump.

And it was not only the spreading of inflammatory fake news over social media. As a May report from the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out:

“In 2016, cyber actors affiliated with the Russian Government conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against state election infrastructure. Russian actors scanned databases for vulnerabilities, attempted intrusions, and in a small number of cases successfully penetrated a voter registration database. This activity was part of a larger campaign to prepare to undermine confidence in the voting process.” “