Opinion | Trump’s Wag-the-Dog War – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Some presidents, when they get into trouble before an election, try to “wag the dog” by starting a war abroad. Donald Trump seems ready to wag the dog by starting a war at home. Be afraid — he just might get his wish.

How did we get here? Well, when historians summarize the Trump team’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus, it will take only a few paragraphs:

“They talked as if they were locking down like China. They acted as if they were going for herd immunity like Sweden. They prepared for neither. And they claimed to be superior to both. In the end, they got the worst of all worlds — uncontrolled viral spread and an unemployment catastrophe.

“And then the story turned really dark.

“As the virus spread, and businesses had to shut down again and schools and universities were paralyzed as to whether to open or stay closed in the fall, Trump’s poll numbers nose-dived. Joe Biden opened up a 15-point lead in a national head-to-head survey.

“So, in a desperate effort to salvage his campaign, Trump turned to the Middle East Dictator’s Official Handbook and found just what he was looking for, the chapter titled, ‘What to Do When Your People Turn Against You?’

“Answer: Turn them against each other and then present yourself as the only source of law and order.”

America blessedly is not Syria, yet, but Trump is adopting the same broad approach that Bashar al-Assad did back in 2011, when peaceful protests broke out in the southern Syrian town of Dara’a, calling for democratic reforms; the protests then spread throughout the country.

Had al-Assad responded with even the mildest offer of more participatory politics, he would have been hailed as a savior by a majority of Syrians. One of their main chants during the demonstrations was, “Silmiya, silmiya” (“Peaceful, peaceful”).

But al-Assad did not want to share power, and so he made sure that the protests were not peaceful. He had his soldiers open fire on and arrest nonviolent demonstrators, many of them Sunni Muslims. Over time, the peaceful, secular elements of the Syrian democracy movement were sidelined, as hardened Islamists began to spearhead the fight against al-Assad. In the process, the uprising was transformed into a naked, rule-or-die sectarian civil war between al-Assad’s Alawite Shiite forces and various Sunni jihadist groups.”

I was against the demonstrators in Portland, until I read a NYT comment by a 74 year old woman, retired educator, who testified that she witnessed the armed soldiers, our Federal soldiers, shoot into peacful demonstrators and beat some of them. She reported the vandalism was very limited.
Most of the week’s news has left me unexcited, but Thomas Friedman put my deepest concerns into words in this column, in which he wrote: “I have zero tolerance for any American protesters who resort to violence in any U.S. city, because it damages homes and businesses already hammered by the coronavirus — many of them minority-owned — and because violence will only turn off and repel the majority needed to drive change.
But when I heard Trump suggest, as he did in the Oval Office on Monday, that he was going to send federal forces into U.S. cities, where the local mayors have not invited him, the first word that popped into my head was “Syria.” “
The demonstrators should all go home and relax, unless they can figure out how to control their very few troublemakers with the fire crackers and stones.

Opinion | With the Coronavirus, It’s Again Trump vs. Mother Nature – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“. . .  Mother Nature was not impressed by Trump or his markets. Mother Nature, alas, doesn’t “open” her workday at 9:30 a.m. or close it at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and then take weekends off. So precisely when Trump was autographing his one-day stock chart to be touted by the knuckleheads at Fox, Mother Nature was silently, relentlessly, mercilessly and exponentially spreading the coronavirus among us.

As Rob Watson, one of my favorite environmental teachers, likes to remind people: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.”

You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot manipulate her. And you certainly cannot tell her, “Mother Nature, stop ruining my beautiful stock market.”

No, no, no. Mother Nature will always and only do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last,” says Watson, “and she always bats 1.000.” Do not mess with Mother Nature.

But that is exactly what Trump did initially with the coronavirus — and is trying to do still with climate change. Yes, we must absolutely focus on combating this virus now. And Trump seems to have finally become properly awed by the power of Mother Nature’s Covid-19, ordering federal distancing guidelines to stay in place until April 30. That is a good thing.

But as we win this battle with the coronavirus and begin to think about the next round of stimulus that we want to inject into the economy — and there will be a next round — it is vital that we keep in mind just how much more destructive climate change could be for all of us, and make sure that we invest in long-term resilience against that as well.

Because there is one huge difference between the coronavirus and climate change: Climate change doesn’t “peak” — and then flatten out and then maybe dissipate or be permanently prevented by vaccine — so normal life resumes.

No, when the Greenland and Antarctic ice melts, it’s gone, and we humans will have to contend with the implications of sea level rise, mass movements of populations and various kinds of extreme weather — wetter wets, hotter hots and drier dries — forever.

There is no herd immunity to climate change. There are only endless impacts on the herd.”

Opinion | How to Impeach Trump, Do Justice and Win an Election – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“There is still a civic pulse in this country. Some Americans still support President Trump, but far, far more are exhausted and disgusted by him. And that is why his latest outrage is so dangerous to him. He knows that we know that many Republicans know that he committed an impeachable offense. And it’s all out there now: a whistle-blower complaint filed by a C.I.A. officer detailing how Trump dangled military assistance in front of the president of Ukraine if he would do Trump a “favor” and investigate bogus corruption charges against Joe Biden.

I believe that this not only could warrant Trump’s impeachment but that it could be done without plunging the country into “civil war” or guaranteeing Trump’s re-election — provided Democrats keep stressing four things.

First, this charge against Trump began with an independent whistle-blower — an intelligence officer, aided by other insiders. Sure, it could turn out that he was a Hillary Clinton fan, which Trump would use to rile up his base, claiming that Democrats were trying to steal his election mandate. But if this turns out to be what it appears — a nonpolitical C.I.A. analyst and other civil servants motivated by their oath to uphold the Constitution in the face of a president who was violating his oath — then Trump and the Republicans will have a problem.

Democrats in Congress need to make sure they say and do nothing that gets in the middle of this framing of the story, which, for now, appears to be accurate: nonpolitical civil servants inside the government acting on conscience against a law-breaking president acting on political greed and excess.

That so many G.O.P. senators have kept quiet up to now — save for uber-sycophants like Lindsey Graham — suggests that they fear that this framing is accurate and it stinks to them.”

“. . . .Democrats should pursue impeachment in the House as if there were no election in 2020. And they should pursue the 2020 election as if there were no impeachment.

And they should do it by letting the nonpolitical whistle-blower and the other civil servants take the lead. These humble patriots started this, and it will go only as far as their credibility sustains it. And it’s their credibility that will influence the swing voters that brought Democrats the House in 2018 — those independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women — a few of whom, I suspect, were at the Kennedy Center last Saturday night, giving a standing ovation to Justice Ginsburg.”

Opinion | The Biggest Threat to America Is Us – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Near the close of last Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, Chuck Todd asked the candidates what he called “a simple question.” In “one word,” he asked, who or what is the biggest geopolitical threat to America today?

Reflecting on that moment, I asked myself what I would say. It didn’t take long to decide. It’s not China or Russia or Iran. It’s us. We’ve become the biggest threat to ourselves.

China, Russia, Iran and even North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man” aren’t going to take us down. Only we can take ourselves down.

Only we can ensure that the American dream — the core promise we’ve made to ourselves that each generation will do better than its parents — is not fulfilled, because we fail to adapt in this age of rapidly accelerating changes in technology, markets, climates, the workplace and education.

And that is nearly certain to happen if we don’t stop treating politics as entertainment, if we don’t get rid of a president who daily undermines truth and trust — the twin fuels needed to collaborate and adapt together — if we don’t prevent the far left from pulling the Democrats over a cliff with reckless ideas like erasing the criminal distinction between those who enter America legally and those who don’t, and if we fail to forge what political analyst David Rothkopf described in a recent Daily Beast essay as “a new American majority.”

David Lindsay:

Clearly, Friedman is afraid, like I am, that if we put up a far left candidate who is squishy on stopping illegal immigration, we could very well end up with four more years of Trump. As it is, we still have 572 more days left in his first and hopefully only term. It matters, what all those white people in all those red, agricultural states think, because they controle the electoral college.The blue states can only win the popular vote. With climate change and global warming accellerating, we can not afford to lose the next election.

Opinion | Connect the Dots to See Where Trump’s Taking Us – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“Some of the colds can even get colder, as when a weakened polar vortex, which normally keeps cold air trapped in the Arctic, allows more frigid polar air to push southward into the U.S. At the same time, the hurricanes that are fueled by warmer ocean temperatures get more violent.

That’s why you’re seeing weird weather extremes in all directions. So, The Washington Post reported that in Montana: “On March 3, the low temperature tanked to a bone-chilling minus-32 in Great Falls. Combined with a high of minus-8, the day finished a whopping 50 degrees below normal.” At the time, the city was in its longest stretch below freezing on record.

Temperatures in Great Falls, Mont., did not rise above freezing for 32 consecutive days between February and March.CreditRion Sanders/Great Falls Tribune

But then The Post reported that on May 11 in a town “near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit” — in May! Near the Arctic! And this happened at the same time that “the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history.” “

David Lindsay: Most Scientists agree that we need to limit our carbon emmissions to no more than 350 parts per million. That is why Bill McKibben calls his organization 350.org.

Opinion | Trump’s Folly – The New York Times

“But what if we prepare for disruptive climate change and it doesn’t get as bad as feared? Where will we be? Well, we will have cleaner air to breathe, less childhood asthma, more innovative building materials and designs, and cleaner, more efficient power generation and transportation systems — all of which will be huge export industries and create tens of thousands of good, repeat jobs. Because with world population steadily rising, we all will need greener cars and power if we just want to breathe clean air, no matter what happens with the climate. We will also be less dependent on petro-dictators.

Indeed, it is safe to say, that if we overprepare for climate change and nothing much happens, it will be exactly like training for the Olympic marathon and the Olympics get canceled. You’re left with a body that is stronger, fitter and healthier.”

12 posts in this category were lost, when we exported from blog 2 to blog 1, and then I tried to merge these two identical categories. Now I am reposting them.

Bravo Tom Friedman. The comments are also supportive and lively. Here is one of my favorites.

jd

Virginia 8 hours ago

Thank you for articulating the benefits of investing in measures to counter global warming even if it turns out that–highly improbably–the threat was overblown or the causes more beyond our control than thought. If we spend billions on research to improve our understanding of climate systems, upgrade our buildings, transform our electric power infrastructure, improve our transportation systems, etc., we will be better off, even if it turns out that the scientists were wrong and global climate change is less of a threat than we thought or simply beyond our control. We will be better educated, healthier, more gainfully employed and better positioned to contribute to global peace and prosperity. Simply put, it’s a good bet.

  • 211 Recommended

Opinion | President Trump- Come to Willmar – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“. . .  That’s not what I’ve found. America is actually a checkerboard of towns and cities — some rising from the bottom up and others collapsing from the top down, ravaged by opioids, high unemployment among less-educated white males and a soaring suicide rate. I’ve been trying to understand why some communities rise and others fall — and so many of the answers can be found in Willmar.

The answers to three questions in particular make all the difference: 1) Is your town hungry for workers to fill open jobs? 2) Can your town embrace the new immigrants ready to do those jobs, immigrants who may come not just from Latin America, but also from nonwhite and non-Christian nations of Africa or Asia? And 3) Does your town have a critical mass of “leaders without authority”?”

Opinion | What if Trump Could Explain as Well as He Inflames? by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

Quote

“Unfortunately, we have a president who wants to spend $5.7 billion on a wall to fix his political problems with Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. When what we need is a president who wants to spend $5.7 on a multipronged strategy that will address the actual immigration challenge we face.

Here is how a real president would explain it:

My fellow Americans, we face a global crisis: More people are on the move today seeking jobs, asylum from murderous governments, safety from environmental disasters or just looking for order than at any time since World War II — some 70 million people.”

via Opinion | What if Trump Could Explain as Well as He Inflames? – The New York Times

Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy, and Justice Roberts Tries to Save- What Makes America Great – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“For me, the most disturbing thing about the Trump presidency is the way each week, like a steady drip of acid, Donald Trump tries to erode the thing that truly makes us great as a country and the envy of so many around the world — the independence and nonpartisan character of our courts, our military, our F.B.I., our Border Patrol and our whole federal bureaucracy.

No modern president has been more willing to use U.S. service members or border police as props for his politics, to blithely declare without evidence that most of the 800,000 federal workers going unpaid during the government shutdown are Democrats, to refer to the Pentagon leadership as “my generals” and “my military,” and to denounce different federal judges who have ruled against him as a “so-called judge,” an “Obama judge” and a “Mexican” judge (even though he was born in Indiana).

Why is this so important? Because America’s core governing institutions were not built to be “conservative” or “liberal.” They were built to take our deepest values and our highest ideals and animate them, promote them and protect them — to bring them to life and to scale them. They are the continuity that binds one generation of Americans to the next and the beacon for how we work together to build an ever more perfect union.

At their best, these institutions have created the regulatory foundations and legal and security frameworks that have made America great — that have enabled innovation to be sparked, commerce to flourish and ideas to freely blossom. Rather than serving any party or person’s whims, these institutions have promoted and protected enduring American values, laws, norms and ideals.”

Opinion | We Need a High Wall With a Big Gate – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

Quote

There are now more climate refugees, economic migrants searching for work and political refugees just searching for order than at any point since World War II, nearly 70 million people according to the International Rescue Committee, and 135 million more in need of humanitarian aid.

A responsible presidential candidate in 2020 needs a policy that rationally manages the flow of immigrants into our country and offers a strategy to help stabilize the world of disorder through climate change mitigation, birth control diffusion, reforestation, governance assistance and support for small-scale farmers.

This is our biggest geopolitical problem today. Forget the “Space Corps”; I’d make the “Peace Corps” our fifth service. We should have an Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Peace Corps, to send Americans to help stabilize small farms and governance in the world of disorder.

And this has to be a global project, with the U.S., Europe, India, Korea, China, Russia, Japan all contributing. Otherwise the world of order is going to be increasingly challenged by refugees from the world of disorder, and all rational discussions of immigration will go out the

via Opinion | We Need a High Wall With a Big Gate – The New York Times