Opinion | Trump Has Made Us All Stupid – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

“Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.

We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.

The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.”    DL: Please finish the article, it gets better. Did you know that the CIA decided that the rewards outwayed the risks, and supported the assassignation?

Opinion | The Media Is Broken – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“Events don’t seem to be driving politics. Increasingly, sociology is.

Do you want to predict how a certain region is going to vote in the 2020 presidential race? Discover who settled the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. If the settlers were from the East Anglia section of Britain, then that region is probably going Democratic. If the settlers were from the north of Britain, that region is very likely to vote for Donald Trump.

Do you want to predict how a state is going to vote? Find out how that state voted in the 1896 presidential election. As Washington University political scientists Gary Miller and Norman Schofield have observed, 22 out of the 23 states that voted Democratic in 1896 had turned Republican by 2000. Similarly, 17 of the 22 states that voted Republican in 1896 had turned Democratic by 2000. The parties have flipped regions.

Do you want to predict how an individual is going to vote? Ask a simple question: Is she urban or rural?

Geographic and psycho-sociological patterns now overshadow events in driving political loyalties and national electoral outcomes. Demography is destiny.

There’s a more precise way to put this. An event is really two things. It’s the event itself and then it’s the process by which we make meaning of the event. As Aldous Huxley put it, “Experience is not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.”

When a whole country sees events through a similar lens, then you don’t have to think a lot about the process people use to make meaning. It’s similar across the land. But when people in different regions and subcultures have nonoverlapping lenses, the process by which people make sense of events is more important than the event itself.

For reasons I don’t understand, we’ve had an epistemic explosion over the past few decades. Different American regions and subcultures now see reality through nonoverlapping lenses. They make meaning in radically different ways. Psycho-social categories have hardened.”

David Linday: Everything is great about this op-ed piece except it’s title, which misses completely. I sense that David Brooks here is explaining why the blue coastal areas fail to see the perspective of more conservative folks who are from redder, more rural, less urgan and coastal communities. Warren and Sanders might be shining stars, even saints, but that doesn’t mean that they appeal to everyone everywhere. Its geography and sociology, as Brooks argues effectively, that create important constituencies that should not be ignored by politcal operatives.

Opinion | The Politics of Exhaustion – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“On campuses 10 percent of students are able to intimidate the other 90 percent, who don’t want to say the wrong thing and get canceled. In Congress, the Trumpians are able to intimidate the members who realize what a problem he is. The people in the two big power blocs are not good at winning the war against each other, but they are really good at intimidating the moderates on their own side.

In this way, those in the exhausted camp perpetuate their own misery. They complain about the terrible choices each election cycle, but never organize enough or become imaginative enough to offer something they themselves might want.

In Britain they’ve mostly taken money out of politics, but they still had an election even worse and more polarized than our own. In the end, if Johnson, as expected, wins easily, it will be in part because exhausted voters will have swung to Trump/Johnson nationalist demagogy since the only alternative is a Corbyn/Sanders class war.

In the States, voters still have a chance to turn the emotional page, to elect a person who displays that you can be a progressive or you can be a conservative without turning politics into perpetual war. Pete Buttigieg is rising and Joe Biden’s support is resilient precisely because they are not exhausting.

The interesting question is whether, in the heat of battle, the exhausted voters can get over their fatigue, cynicism and timidity and take their own side in a fight.”

Opinion |  –  If It’s Trump vs. Warren, Then What? By David Brooks -The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“This is a memo for the politically homeless. It’s a memo to those of us who could never support Donald Trump but think the Bernie-Squad-Warren Democratic Party is sprinting too far left. It’s a memo built around the following question: If the general election campaign turns out to be Trump vs. Warren, what the heck are we supposed to do?

The first thing we could do, of course, is pray for a miracle. Maybe the Democrats will nominate one of the five B’s or the K: Biden, Buttigieg, Booker, Bennet, Bullock or Klobuchar.

These candidates are pluralists, not purists. They make many voters who disagree with them feel heard and respected. They practice the craft of politics, building majority coalitions to get things done.

If the party nominated one of those six, you really could see the Democrats gather progressives and moderates into an enduring majority coalition as the Republicans recede into old, white, rural obsolescence. You could see movement on a range of issues where large majorities are already stacked on one side: guns, climate change, reducing income inequality, expanding health coverage.

But right now, Elizabeth Warren has the momentum, and so those of us who feel politically homeless may face a stark choice.

For many, supporting Warren is too high a price to pay, even for ousting Trump. “There is no universe where I will ever vote for Donald Trump, and there is no universe where I could ever vote for Elizabeth Warren,” Jennifer Horn, a former chairwoman of the New Hampshire G.O.P., told The Washington Examiner.”

Opinion | Yes, Trump Is Guilty, but Impeachment Is a Mistake – by David Brooks — The New York Times

“This could embed Trumpism within the G.O.P. If Trump suffers a withering loss in a straight-up election campaign, then his populist tendency might shrink and mainstream Republicans might regain primacy. An election defeat would mean the people don’t like Trumpism. But the impeachment process reinforces the core Trumpist deep-state message: The liberal elites screw people like us. If Trump’s most visible opponents are D.C. lawyers, Trumpism becomes permanent.”

Opinion | A Brief History of the Warren Presidency – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By 

Opinion Columnist

“A crisis of legitimacy swept across American politics in the second decade of the 21st century. Many people had the general conviction that the old order was corrupt and incompetent. There was an inchoate desire for some radical transformation. This mood swept the Republican Party in 2016 as Donald Trump eviscerated the G.O.P. establishment and it swept through the Democratic Party in 2020.

In the 2020 primary race Joe Biden stood as the candidate for linear change and Elizabeth Warren stood as the sharp break from the past. Biden was the front-runner, but fragile. Many of the strongest debate performers — Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bennet — couldn’t get any traction because Biden occupied the moderate lane. By the time he faded, it was too late.

Warren triumphed over the other progressive populist, Bernie Sanders, because she had what he lacked — self-awareness. She could run a campaign that mitigated her weaknesses. He could not.

Biden was holding on until Warren took Iowa and New Hampshire. He or some other moderate could have recovered, but the California primary had been moved up to March 3, Super Tuesday. When Warren dominated most of the states that day, it was over. The calendar ensured that the most progressive candidate would win.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment.
David Brooks, this is a fine piece of fiction, and you make many good points. But it is missing the elephant in the room. Bloomberg Businessweek put on its November 5th, 2012 cover: “It’s Global Warming Stupid” The NYT has done a magnificent job covering the climate crisis. Please take a serious look at their Magazine of around August 1st, 2019, titled, “Losing Earth: thirty years ago we could have saved the planet.”
I would recomment you look at this weeks Time Magazine 9/23/19 titled, Special Climate Issue, 2050 How Earth Survived, with the cover story by Bill McKibbon, and other spectacular pieces by Al Gore, and Aryn Baker. I haven’t read them all yet.
But for God’s sake, or for the sake of our grandchildren, wake my friend, and “study the Science,” as 16 year old Greta Thunberg just begged a group of congressmen and women to do. You are one of my favorite Republican, right of center, writers, thinkers and analysts, but you are starting to embarrass me because you don’t see, read or feel, the climate crisis:  that they are suffering multiple days of heat in Jacobabad, Pakistan of 51.1 degrees Celsius. That is multiple days of 124 degrees Fahrenheit. Global warming was predicted by climate scientists, because it is based on high school chemistry.

Opinion | How White Democrats Moved Left – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“. . . .  To say that white educated Democrats have moved left is true, but it’s not the essential truth. The bigger truth is that this segment is now more likely to see politics through a racial lens. Racial equity has become the prism through which many in this group see a range of other issues.

 

For example, immigration is now seen through the lens of race, in a way that simply wasn’t true two decades ago. As Zach Goldberg noted in an essay in Tablet Magazine, between 1965 and 2000, the percentage of white liberals who wanted higher immigration levels never deviated far from 10 percent. During the Obama administration, the number rose to the range of 20 to 30 percent. Now, more than 50 percent of white progressives want to see higher immigration levels.

 

Many progressives see barriers to immigration as akin to unjust racial barriers. Many want to dismantle the border enforcement agencies and eliminate criminal sanctions against undocumented crossings precisely because they are seen as structures of oppression that white people impose on brown people.”

David Lindsay:  The commentors take Brooks apart for the usual issues, and ignore the main idea he confronts and the question he raises. It is important to understand why so many progressives are quiet about closing our open borders, since this is the issue that will probably give the next election to Trump if they don’t recongnize it’s potency with voters.

Opinion | Marianne Williamson Knows How to Beat Trump – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

“If only …

If only Donald Trump were not president, we could have an interesting debate over whether private health insurance should be illegal. If only Trump were not president, we could have an interesting debate over who was softest on crime in the 1990s. If only Trump were not president, we could have a nice argument about the pros and cons of NAFTA.

But Trump is president, and this election is not about those things. This election is about who we are as a people, our national character. This election is about the moral atmosphere in which we raise our children.

Trump is a cultural revolutionary, not a policy revolutionary. He operates and is subtly changing America at a much deeper level. He’s operating at the level of dominance and submission, at the level of the person where fear stalks and contempt emerges.

He’s redefining what you can say and how a leader can act. He’s reasserting an old version of what sort of masculinity deserves to be followed and obeyed. In Freudian terms, he’s operating on the level of the id. In Thomistic terms, he is instigating a degradation of America’s soul.”

Opinion | What Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“What’s at stake in the struggle between Nancy Pelosi and the four progressive House members known as the squad? Partly it’s just the perpetual conflict between younger members who want change fast and older members who say you have to deal with political reality.

But deep down it’s a conflict of worldviews. No matter how moderate or left, Democrats of a certain age were raised in an atmosphere of liberalism. I don’t mean the political liberalism of George McGovern. I mean the philosophic liberalism of people like Montaigne, John Stuart Mill, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass — people who witnessed religious and civil wars and built structures to restrain fanaticism.

Philosophic liberalism, Adam Gopnik explains in his essential book, “A Thousand Small Sanities,” begins with intellectual humility. There’s more we don’t know than we do know, so public life is a constant conversation that has no end. In the liberal view, each person contains opposites and contradictions. You flatten and dehumanize complex individuals when you see people according to crude dichotomies and assign them to tribal teams.

Liberals prefer constant incremental reform to sudden revolution. “Liberal reform, like evolutionary change, being incremental, is open to the evidence of experience,” Gopnik writes. Liberals place great emphasis on context. The question is not: What do I want? It’s: What good can I do in this specific circumstance?”

David Lindsay: I love this piece by David Brooks, because it puts the local fracas into a larger, historical framework that makes sense, and is ellegant. Not everyone agrees. Here is a comment I admired, that also counters the basic premis of Brooks’ slap on the wrist of the four young women of color.

Tad Ellsworth
Bolivar, Ohio
Times Pick

I have also read Gopnik’s treatise on Liberalism and I come away with a somewhat different take than Brooks. The so-called radicals of “the Squad” are working within the system to change it. They are elected members of Congress, and the last time I checked, they were not calling for a revolutionary overthrow of our liberal institutions, but reform of them through legislative action. While some may disdain AOC’s use of Twitter, she is communicating with both admirers and critics alike in the medium of her generation, and the debate over her policy ideas is vigorous. The left-wing critics of liberalism that Gopnik describes do not believe that liberal institutions are capable of affecting the kinds of changes, and certainly would not disdain to become duly elected members of Congress and to work within the system to change it for the better. While they may wish to move our liberal institutions toward greater egalitarianism than some may like, they are not looking to do away with those institutions. I see current progressives in Congress as being of the same vein of Thaddeus Stevens or Frederick Douglass or Susan B. Anthony, who may have been seen as radical in their time, but were believers in the reform of American liberal institutions, but doing so through Constitutional means. While “the Squad” may not be fighting for so noble a cause as the abolition of slavery or the enfranchisement of women, they are fighting to improve American liberal institutions, not to diminish them.

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Opinion | Dems- Please Don’t Drive Me Away – by David Brooks – The New York Times

DL: I strongly endorse this warning by David Brooks.

“I could never in a million years vote for Donald Trump. So my question to Democrats is: Will there be a candidate I can vote for?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 35 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 35 percent call themselves moderate and 26 percent call themselves liberal. The candidates at the debates this week fall mostly within the 26 percent. The party seems to think it can win without any of the 35 percent of us in the moderate camp, the ones who actually delivered the 2018 midterm win.”