Thomas L. Friedman | Five Readings for Your Thanksgiving Table – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

I always enjoy Thanksgiving, but I’m particularly going to savor this year’s in light of the midterm elections. They surfaced something beautiful and decent and vitally important in the soul of the nation. It was a readiness to defend the core of our democracy — our ability to peacefully and legitimately transfer power — when it was under imminent threat by Donald Trump and his imitators.

Had we lost our commitment to the solemn obligation that one party smoothly hands off power to another, we’d be totally lost as a country today. But instead, democracy was reaffirmed. Enough Americans — principled Republicans, Democrats and independents — sorted through their ballots and rejected almost all of the high-profile Trumpist election deniers for major state and federal offices.

In “using the tools of democracy to protect democracy,” as Vox put it, they reconnected the country with something deep in our heritage — that losers concede gracefully and move on, and winners win gracefully and govern. In celebration of that tradition, I offer these five readings for your Thanksgiving table:

Sept. 19, 1796, excerpts from President George Washington’s Farewell Address, explaining that he would not seek a third term and the most important lessons he had learned:

“The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad, of your safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty which you so highly prize. … You should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness. … With such powerful and obvious motives to union affecting all parts of our country … there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands. …

“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.”

Earth Now Has 8 Billion Humans. Les Knight Wishes There Were None. – The New York Times

Buckley interviewed Mr. Knight in Portland and was surprised to find him curiously uplifting.

PORTLAND, Ore. — For someone who wants his own species to go extinct, Les Knight is a remarkably happy-go-lucky human.

“He has regularly hosted meteor shower parties with rooftop fireworks. He organized a long-running game of nude croquet in his backyard, which, it should be mentioned, is ringed by 20-foot-tall laurel hedges. Even Tucker Carlson proved no match for Mr. Knight’s ebullience. During a 2005 interview with Mr. Knight on MSNBC, Mr. Carlson criticized him for espousing “the sickest” of beliefs but then added, “You are one of the cheeriest guests we’ve ever had.”

Mr. Knight, 75, is the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction movement, which is less a movement than a loose consortium of people who believe that the best thing humans can do to help the Earth is to stop having children.

Mr. Knight added the word “voluntary” decades ago to make it clear that adherents do not support mass murder or forced birth control, nor do they encourage suicide. Their ethos is echoed in their motto, “May we live long and die out,” and in another one of their slogans, which Mr. Knight hangs at various conventions and street fairs: “Thank you for not breeding.”

David Lindsay: I wrote a comment to the following comment:

Seriphussr
United States Of The Socialist Republic1h ago

“. . . . This is a good idea. I have four adult children. None of them have kids. The oldest two (40-ish) have decide not to have kids. The youngest two (early 20s) are still trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. While my wife and I would love to have grandchildren, I tend to agree with Mr. Knight. It’s time to start depopulating this planet. I don’t think we should ALL stop having children at once, but limit it to two or less. Not as a government mandate, but voluntarily. It took a long time to get to 8 billion. We’ve built civilizations on the idea of perpetual population growth. If everyone just stopped having children, civilizations would collapse. That would be awful for the survivors. But if we ramped down over centuries, we could eventually get down to a reasonable population. I’m not sure what amount is reasonable, but maybe something under a billion would be a good start.” . . . .

Reply:

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT   NYT Reply 

@Seriphussr Good comment, good thoughts. We went from 2 billion to 8 billion since about 1930, just 92 years. That is fast, since it took us 200,000 years to get to 1 billion. It took us about 300 years to get to 2 billion. I read that several scientists have agreed that the possible limit of humans on the planet for sustainablily and biodiversity might be 4 billion. My source might be Edward O Wilson or Elizabet Kolbert. EO Wilson calls us to set aside half the earths real estate for non human species to live in, and he co-founded the Half-Earth Foundation to promote this idea, as well as writing it up in his book Half Earth. \

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Reply7 Recommended

Paul Krugman | How Democrats Can Fight This G.O.P. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Normally, one would expect a political party that suffered severe electoral disappointment — falling far short of typical midterm gains despite high inflation and consumer discontent — to moderate its positions, to seek compromise in order to achieve at least some of its policy goals.

But the modern G.O.P., in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t a normal political party. It barely has policy goals, other than an almost reflexive desire to cut taxes on the rich and deny aid to those in need. It certainly doesn’t have policy ideas.

Republicans spent much of the election talking about inflation. But in a news conference just after securing a narrow majority in the House, top Republicans declared that their top priority would be … investigating the Biden family.

So the G.O.P. won’t help govern America. It will, in fact, almost surely do what it can to undermine governance. And Democrats, in turn, need to do whatever they can both to thwart political sabotage and to make the would-be saboteurs pay a price.”

“. . . . .  The good news is that Democrats can, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent puts it, “crazyproof” policy during the lame duck session, raising the debt limit high enough that it won’t be a problem and locking in sufficient aid for Ukraine to get through the many months of war that surely lie ahead. And Democrats would be, well, crazy not to do these things as soon as possible.

Beyond that, Democrats can and should hammer Republicans for their extremism, for focusing on disruption and fake scandals rather than trying to improve Americans’ lives.”  -30-

Crowded and Deadly, U.S. Jails Are in Crisis – The New York Times

“Matthew Shelton was contending with diabetes and periodic substance abuse when he moved in with his sister outside Houston in order to get his life together.

Three months later, facing an old criminal charge of driving while intoxicated, he turned himself in to the Harris County Jail one day in March with a supply of the insulin he relied on to stay alive.

After two days, he told his family that no one was allowing him access to the insulin: He was trying to manage his illness by discarding the bread from the sandwiches he was served. He was alone, frightened and cold, he said.”  Soon after, he died.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
This was an excellent article, thank you Shaila Dewan. I would like coverage of what works, and where it is happening, even if you have to go to Europe for positive examples. I would like to see the Biden Admistration try to get the new Republican house to write and pass a bill, where the Federal government comes up with strict standards, and then limits Federal aid to States that follow the standards and show constant improvement in caring for the incarcerated. A second bill, would reinstate the Federal support for mental institutions throughout the country, that Ronald Reagan dismantled. Even if the GOP refuses to fund such reforms, it makes sense to this writer, to try, and bring this scandal and its solutions to the attention of the public.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Margaret Renkl | How to Give Thanks in a Screwed-Up World – The New York Times

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

“NASHVILLE — My father always had a ready answer to the question that greases the gears of human discourse. Whenever anyone he didn’t know particularly well — a neighbor or a sales clerk or someone at church — would ask, “How are you, Mr. Renkl?” my father didn’t say, “Just fine, thank you.” His answer was always “Fantastic!” Later, when he was dying, it was the answer he gave even to family members checking in. Right up to his death, he was always faaaantastic.

Even before he got sick, this answer was an inexplicable exaggeration. Money was always short in our house, and Mom struggled intermittently with depression, but you would not have known any of that from the way my father greeted others, always with an unexpectedly cheery answer to the throwaway question people asked out of nothing but common courtesy.

I think about my father every day, but I’ve been thinking about him more than usual lately. Not only because Thanksgiving is coming on, that time when the ache of my missing elders is especially acute, but because I am trying to remind myself how to see the world as my father saw it.”

” . . . . .  I can’t force polluting nations to work together to hold climate change to planet-surviving levels. I can’t force Congress to work together for solutions to the economic inequities and information silos that separate us. But I can pull out my mother’s recipe box and make a Thanksgiving feast. I can remember the loved ones who once shared this table and fill their seats with people whose loved ones are distant or otherwise missing. And I can be grateful for every single fantastic moment we have together.

A hard frost finally came to my garden last week, and the zinnias are gone now, along with all the butterflies. I am sorry to see them go, and I am trying not to interrogate my own gratitude for the days they had here. I tell myself it is not wrong to exult in the beauties that remain. I remind myself of the testimony of my father’s whole life, of the truth he taught me — that loss and love will always belong to each other, that sorrow has always been joy’s quiet twin.” -30-

Somalia Braces for Famine, Trapped Between Al Shabab and Drought – The New York Times

Chief Africa correspondent Declan Walsh and photographer Andrea Bruce reported this article from Baidoa, Somalia, a city threatened by militants.

“The sea of rag-and-stick tents that spreads in every direction from the hungry, embattled city of Baidoa, in southern Somalia, gives way to sprawling plains controlled by the militants of Al Shabab.

Over 165,000 refugees have streamed into Baidoa since early last year, fleeing the ravages of Somalia’s fiercest drought in 40 years. Among them was Maryam, a 2-year-old girl whose family had lost everything.

The drought withered their crops, starved their animals and transformed their modest farm into a howling dust bowl. They endured a five-day trek to Baidoa, braving Islamist check posts, hoping to reach safety.

But one recent afternoon Maryam, weak from hunger and sickness, began to cough and vomit. Her mother, cradling Maryam in her arms, called for help.”

Somalia is on our minds. We watched a PBS NewsHour a few nights ago, and they showed an emaciated infant in somalia, looking far more dead than alive. We are tough old birds, but this was almost more than we could stomach. It definitely infringed on dinner. This article is more gentle, there are no such pictures. But Somalia is on our minds. Here are the top comments, which I endorsed:

Peter Johnson
London

Extreme weather is not the whole story for Somalia’s food shortages. The population has more than quadrupeled in the last fifty years (from 3.48 million to 16.6 million), and agricultural productivity cannot keep up.

4 Replies50 Recommended

joe
St Louis

Starvation in Africa was a staple of late night TV solicitations back when I was growing up in the 70’s. 50 years later nothing has changed. Tribal warfare, a population that can’t feed itself, and not using birth control are not going to be made any better by charity. If people want change than something fundamental needs to change.

Reply34 Recommended

Silas Campbell
Paris, Kentucky

Completely omitted from this article is the fact that the number of people in Somalia has grown from about 2 million in 1950 to about 17 million now, i.e. there are over 8 times as many Somalis as in 1950. Could it possibly be that this exponential rise in the number of people needing resources has anything to do with the famine ?

Reply28 Recommended

mushmouth
Jacksonville

what these poor people need is systematic and free birth control. and then classes on how to use it. why would you bring children into a famine situation?

Reply27 Recommended

Inside the Saudi Strategy to Keep the World Hooked on Oil – The New York Times

“. . . . . Saudi Aramco has become a prolific funder of research into critical energy issues, financing almost 500 studies over the past five years, including research aimed at keeping gasoline cars competitive or casting doubt on electric vehicles, according to the Crossref database, which tracks academic publications. Aramco has collaborated with the United States Department of Energy on high-profile research projects including a six-year effort to develop more efficient gasoline and engines, as well as studies on enhanced oil recovery and other methods to bolster oil production.

Aramco also runs a global network of research centers including a lab near Detroit where it is developing a mobile “carbon capture” device — equipment designed to be attached to a gasoline-burning car, trapping greenhouse gases before they escape the tailpipe. More widely, Saudi Arabia has poured $2.5 billion into American universities over the past decade, making the kingdom one of the nation’s top contributors to higher education.

ImageMen in long, white robes and keffiyehs entering a domed tent.
Visitors to a Saudi forum at the United Nations climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, this month.Credit…Kelvin Chan/Associated Press
Saudi interests have spent close to $140 million since 2016 on lobbyists and others to influence American policy and public opinion, making it one of the top countries spending on U.S. lobbying, according to disclosures to the Department of Justice tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics.” . . . .

Howard Wolfson | Why the Democrats Just Lost the House – The New York Times

“. . . . Sadly there is little evidence that Democratic leaders in Albany heard the alarm bells ringing on Long Island or saw the Adams victory in the city as a path forward.

Instead, in the face of crime rates rising some 30 percent in New York City, Democrats mostly denied that there was a crime problem on the scale that Republicans portrayed in frequent campaign ads. To the extent that Democrats acknowledged the growing disorder at all, they argued that there was no data showing that bail reforms affected crime — a claim at odds with the desire of many voters for stronger public safety, including locking up potentially dangerous people and giving judges the ability to consider dangerousness in making bail decisions.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, newly elevated after Andrew Cuomo’s implosion and resignation, was able to persuade the legislature to tinker with the bail laws. But the changes were too little and too late, and voters were unconvinced. New York remains the only state in the nation where in setting bail, judges cannot take into account whether a person arrested for a crime is a danger to the community. Democrats in the legislature failed to offer any other alternative solutions to the problem.” . . . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This interesting essay has the smell of truth. It is interesting that so many of the top comments refuse to listen to any of it. Bail is probably almost always bad for poor people, but not if they are dangerous. Taking away the right of judges to use their judgement sounds like left wing crazyness. It appears to a casual observer from the Connecticut countryside, that we all could benefit from more mindfullness, and listening.

Paul Krugman | Wonking Out: Stealing Away the Golden Years of the Working Class – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“My Thursday column is about the assault on Medicare and Social Security that is almost certain to follow if Republicans prevail on Tuesday. If the G.O.P. wins control of Congress, we can expect it to hold the economy hostage, most obviously by weaponizing the debt ceiling, in an attempt to force big cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

This isn’t an outlandish scenario. It already happened once. In 2011, after taking control of the House, Republicans sought to extort major cuts in the social safety net from the Obama administration — and they almost succeeded. In fact, President Barack Obama agreed to a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility, from 65 to 67. The deal fell through only because Republicans were unwilling to accept even modest tax increases as their part of the bargain.

This time around, the demands are likely to be even bigger. A report from the Republican Study Committee, which probably gives a good idea of where the G.O.P. will go, calls for upping the retirement age and the age of Medicare eligibility to 70.

The report justifies such a rise by pointing to the long-term increase in the number of years Americans can expect to live after age 65, which it calls a “miracle.”

What the report doesn’t note are two probably related caveats for this miracle. First, the increase in seniors’ life expectancy has actually been much smaller here than in other wealthy nations. Second, progress has been very uneven within America, with much bigger gains for groups with high socioeconomic status — precisely the people who need Medicare and Social Security the least — than for the less fortunate.”

“. . . . . . . How does all this bear on Republican proposals to raise the retirement and Medicare eligibility ages? Because seniors’ life expectancy varies so much by class, an increase in the age of eligibility for major programs will take a much bigger bite out of retirement for Americans with low socioeconomic status, and correspondingly fewer years to collect benefits, than it will on those higher on the ladder.

And because disparities have been rising over time, the disproportionality of that effect has been rising, too.

Look back at the figure on life expectancies by quartile. According to these estimates, American men in the bottom quartile born in 1960 can expect to live only 1.9 more years after 65 than their counterparts born in 1928. That’s slightly less than the increase in the retirement age that has already taken place. And even men in that quartile born in 1990 are expected to have only 3.5 years more time after 65 than those born in 1928; meanwhile, Republicans are proposing a rise in the retirement age to 70, a five-year total increase, and an equal rise in the Medicare age.

One way to think about all of this, which is only a slight caricature, is that Republicans are telling janitors in Oklahoma that they can’t get benefits in their 60s — even though their life expectancy hasn’t gone up by much — because lawyers in New York are living longer.

It’s quite a position to take, and it would surely provoke a huge backlash — if voters knew about it, which most of them seem not to.”  -30-

Paul Krugman | Trump Is Weak, but the G.O.P. Is Weaker – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“After their party’s disappointing performance in the midterms, Republican elites seem to have decided that Donald Trump is their big problem. The Murdoch media empire has been trashing the former president. Many donors and operatives are reportedly rallying around Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. But Trump, who is widely expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign on Tuesday, won’t go quietly.

Will Trump secure the nomination despite elite qualms? If he doesn’t, will a man who has never shown any loyalty to his party or, for that matter, anyone but himself, sabotage the G.O.P. out of spite? I don’t know more than anyone else who follows the news.

Let’s talk instead about how remarkable it is that someone like Trump managed to dominate one of America’s two major political parties and surely retains a substantial base.

I’m not talking about the fact that Trump holds what I consider reprehensible policy views or even the fact that he engaged in several acts, including an attempt to overturn a national election, that can reasonably be described as seditious. Clearly, most of the G.O.P. is OK with all of that.”

” . . . . . .   Also, the Republican elites trying to distance themselves from Trump spent years fluffing his image. Until a few days ago Fox News, the main source of political information for much of the G.O.P. base, gave Trump the kind of hagiographic coverage you’d expect from state media in a dictatorship.

And Republican politicians, many of whom knew Trump for what he was, spent years praising him in language reminiscent of Politburo members praising the party chairman.

Now those same elites want to push Trump out of the picture. But while they may be able to deny him the nomination, they probably won’t be able to avoid paying a heavy price for their past cowardice.”   -30-