Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“SINGAPORE — One of the most negative byproducts of the Trump presidency is that all we talk about now is Donald Trump. Don’t get me wrong: How can we not be fixated on a president who daily undermines the twin pillars of our democracy: truth and trust?

But there are some tectonic changes underway behind the Trump noise machine that demand a serious national discussion, like the future of U.S.-China relations. Yet it’s not happening — because all we talk about is Donald Trump.

Consider this: On Nov. 9, European leaders gathered in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was an anniversary worth celebrating. But no one seemed to notice that almost exactly 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, a new wall — a digital Berlin Wall — had begun to be erected between China and America. And the only thing left to be determined, a Chinese business executive remarked to me, “is how high this wall will be,” and which countries will choose to be on which side.

This new wall, separating a U.S.-led technology and trade zone from a Chinese-led one, will have implications as vast as the wall bisecting Berlin did. Because the peace, prosperity and accelerations in technology and globalization that have so benefited the world over the past 40 years were due, in part, to the interweaving of the U.S. and Chinese economies.”

Opinion | Why I Like Mike – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

 

“I have a pet theory about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — that it is to wider trends in world affairs what Off Broadway is to Broadway. A lot of stuff seems to get perfected there in miniature — from airline hijackings to suicide bombings, from building walls to keep others out to lone wolf terrorism — and then moves to Broadway, to bigger stages.

So, I ask, what’s playing off Broadway these days? It’s a political drama that may offer a distant mirror on our own presidential politics.

Israel has held two national elections since April, but the country is so perfectly divided that it still hasn’t been able to produce a governing coalition. There are three trends worth noting, though, after these two Israeli elections — especially if you’re President Trump.

First, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu deployed openly racist tropes against Israeli Arabs to motivate his own hard-right base to get out and vote. Israeli Arabs finally had enough and basically said to Bibi: “You talking to us?’’ And in the second election in September they voted in huge numbers and created the third-largest party in Israel, weakening Netanyahu’s ability to form a new government. You never know whom you’re arousing when you start using dog whistles. Just sayin’, Mr. Trump.”

“. . .It was “billionaire’’ Bloomberg who funded the most radical and progressive green agenda of this era.

“Bloomberg’s Beyond Coal partnership with the Sierra Club broke the mold for environmental philanthropy,’’ notes Carl Pope, former head of the Sierra Club and now a partner with Bloomberg on Beyond Coal. “In 2010, 500 coal plants provided half of America’s power, at the price of more than 10,000 lives, staggering volumes of water pollution, and one third of total carbon dioxide emissions. The Sierra Club pitched Bloomberg that they could shut down a third of those plants with a three-year campaign, using grass roots community mobilization and aggressive regulatory interventions.”

Attracted by the combination of lives saved and climate impact, Pope added, “Bloomberg ponied up. Now, nine years and several renewals later, coal provides only a quarter of U.S. power, and retirements of more than half those coal plants have been secured. These retirements are largely responsible for U.S. climate progress over the last decade.’’ The steady fall in the price of gas and renewables was critical in undermining coal, “but Bloomberg’s $500 million for climate mitigation projects was also critical — as was his insistence that the green group, while using its own tool kit, measure its results rigorously.’’

Opinion | Trump, Zuckerberg & Pals Are Breaking America – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“If America’s worst enemies had spent years designing a plan to erode our greatest strengths, they could not have done better than what some of our fellow citizens are doing to the country every day for short-term financial or political gain.

Prominent figures in government, politics and commerce are behaving in ways that are so destructive of the core institutions and norms that underpin our democracy, one can only assume that they take the country’s stability as a given — that they can abuse and stress it all they want and it won’t break.

They are wrong. We can break America, and right now we’re on our way there. Not in the Cold War, not during Vietnam, not during Watergate did I ever fear more for my country.

This moment “is like Wall Street before the financial crisis, when everyone just took for granted that the system was forever stable,” remarked Gautam Mukunda, research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of “Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter.” “

“. . .  And, finally, there’s the internet barons who for too long ignored the weaponization of social media, which is turning our free press into a house of mirrors, where citizens can no longer cognitively discern fact from fiction and make informed judgments essential for democracy.

I watch it all and wonder: “Are you really doing that? Do you all go home at night to some offshore island where the long-term damage you’re doing to America doesn’t matter?”

Here is my question to the NYT, and the two top comments, which I recommended.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |
Does the NYT and most other newspapers fact check political ads before running them?

 

Socrates commented October 29

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ
Times Pick

Zuckerberg has a lot of social problems for a guy who runs a social network. You would think he’d have a special sensitivity to the obvious human horrors of propaganda that we all know helped destroy European society eighty years ago. You would think that his education and rarified, privileged status might endow him with a sliver of humanity, wisdom and goodwill toward others, but instead he appears to be just a run-of-the-mill greedy corporate soul who has trouble seeing the destruction he and his Frankenstein invention have wrought on society. Most people don’t read much…most people don’t research much….most people aren’t great critical thinkers….many people are easily duped…most people aren’t well-informed…and these folks love Facebook and their minds are easily hijacked by professional gaslighters, liars and propagandists; Facebook allows these folks to be specifically targeted and manipulated into the twilight zone thanks to Facebook’s human-privacy-organ-harvesting business model. FOX News and Hate Radio also deserve credit for whipping up voters into a rabid, irrational state of fear and loathing as well; Rupert Murdoch is one of the worst things to happen to America. Murdoch, Zuckerberg and all the other gaslighting Robber Barons are long overdue for a heavy dose of reality and government regulation to keep the public safe from Grand Old Propaganda, a known hazard to human civilization. Time to regulate Facebook and bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

64 Replies3212 Recommended
ChristineMcM commented October 29

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts
Times Pick

I’m just as frightened as you, Tom Friedman, maybe even longer than you–I saw the signs of Trumps power abuses starting with the inauguration accounting issues. In addition to Zuckerberg, Graham, and Trump smashing the country to smithereens, you should have mentioned Bill Barr. He’s put least 5 nails in the coffin of American democracy by conducting a criminal investigation of FBI and CIA individuals who were so alarmed by intelligence intercepts of members of the Trump campaign that they reacted as any good security experts do: investigate. If that isn’t Putin territory Barr is taking us to, I don’t know what is. He’s weaponizing the DOJ to appease Trump’s lust for vengeance. Trump gets away with everything because he’s enabled. He’s getting plenty of help as he brings us all down.

21 Replies2754 Recommended

Opinion | Al-Baghdadi Is Dead. The Story Doesn’t End Here. – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“The killing of the founder and leader of the Islamic State by United States commandos operating in Syria should certainly further weaken the most vile and deadly Islamist movement to emerge in the Middle East in the modern era.

The world is certainly a better place with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead and a measure of justice meted out on behalf of all the women ISIS raped, all the journalists ISIS beheaded and the tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis it abused. Good for President Trump for ordering it, for the intelligence agents who set it up, for the allies who aided in it and for the Special Forces who executed it.

But this story is far from over, and it could have many unexpected implications. Let’s start at home.

President Trump was effusive in his praise for the U.S. intelligence agencies who found and tracked al-Baghdadi to the lair in Syria where he blew himself up to avoid being captured. In his news conference, Trump went on and on about just how good the men and women in our intelligence agencies are.

Well, Mr. President, those are the same intelligence agencies who told you that Russia intervened in our last election in an effort to tip the vote to you and against Hillary Clinton (and are still intervening). When our intel agencies exposed that reality, you impugned their integrity and quality.

And the same intelligence agencies who tracked down al-Baghdadi are the same ones who produced two whistle-blowers high up in your White House — who complained that you, Mr. Trump, abused the power of your office to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, touching off this impeachment inquiry.

And those same intelligence agencies whom you hailed as heroes for tracking down al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump, are the same “deep state,” the same agencies and whistle-blowers whom your White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, just smeared as “radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.’’

So thank you, Mr. Trump, for clearing up this confusion. We now know that the same intelligence services who have been heroic in protecting us from those who want to attack our constitutional democracy from abroad are the same heroes who have stepped up to protect our constitutional democracy from within. Unlike you, Mr. Trump, they took seriously their oath to do both.”

Opinion | It’s the Environment- Stupid – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

“I don’t know who sold progressive Democrats on the idea that the way to beat Donald Trump is to abolish the private health insurance of 160 million Americans and offer instead “Medicare for all” (and Mexico will pay for it), but it’s a political loser and an easy target for Trump to feast on. A much better campaign theme is hiding in plain sight. I call it “the Earth Race.”

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy energized the country behind a “space race”: to make America the first nation to put a man on the moon. Democrats need to run against Trump on the Earth Race: to make America the leader in all policies and technologies that help men and women everywhere live sustainably here on Earth?

Yes, I know, mitigating climate change and saving the environment never poll well. But times change, and it depends how you frame the issue. Mother Nature is forcing herself onto the ballot, and Trump’s efforts to roll back more than 80 rules and standards protecting clean air, water, climate, parks and wilderness make him uniquely vulnerable. He can’t pivot away from what he’s doing. He owns it, and it’s villainous. This time is different.

In this era when so much activism is online, when was the last time you saw a bottom-up, mass movement of young people in America and across the world — some four million in all — take to the streets on every continent as they did last week to demand action to stop the heating of our planet? These young people are telling us, and their voting parents, that this issue is a political winner — theirs is a movement in search of courageous political leaders.

I am not saying that the Earth Race is the only issue to run on. I’m all for strengthening Obamacare and even adding a public health insurance option. But if I were running for president against Trump, I’d be leading with the Earth Race as an economic opportunity, a national security necessity, a health emergency, an environmental urgency and a moral obligation. No other issue can combine those five.

I’d pound Trump every day with this message: “Trump says he cares about you. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about the water you drink. He just revoked a rule that prohibited coal mining debris from being dumped into local streams — among other actions to weaken the Clean Water Act — so that pro-Trump coal companies can make more money while they make you sick. What kind of president does that?”

Opinion | Trump and Xi Sittin’ in a Tree – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“I was glad to see the stock market get a boost from the news that Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators were talking again and that President Trump blinked a bit and pulled some of his planned tariffs.

But don’t be fooled. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China are still locked in a cage match over who is the true big dog in today’s global economy. Both are desperate not only to “win,” but to be seen to win, and not be subjected to the scorn of their rivals or critics on social media.

Precisely because neither leader feels he can afford that fate, both have overplayed their hands. Xi basically believes that nothing has to change — and all can be made to stay the same by the force of his will. Trump basically believes that everything has to change — and all can be made to change by the force of his will.

The rest of us are just along for the ride.

Let’s look at both men’s calculations and miscalculations. Trump was right in arguing that America should not continue to tolerate systemic abusive Chinese trade practices — intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, huge government subsidies and nonreciprocal treatment of U.S. companies in China — now that China is virtually America’s technology equal and a rising middle-income country.”

Opinion | How Trump and Xi Can Make America and China Poor Again – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“If you think that the United States-China trade dispute is going to be easily resolved, you’re not paying attention. It’s so much deeper than you think — and so much more dangerous.

If President Trump and President Xi Jinping don’t find a way to defuse it soon, we’re going to get where we’re going — fracturing the globalization system that has brought the world more peace and prosperity over the last 70 years than at any other time in history. And what we’ll be birthing in its place is a digital Berlin Wall and a two-internet, two-technology world: one dominated by China and the other by the United States.

This will be a much more unstable and less prosperous world. Trump and Xi should drop everything and sit down to resolve this crisis before it becomes a runaway train — fueled by populists and nationalists, and amplified by social media, in both countries.

How did we get here? Two things converged: The character of U.S.-China trade changed — it went “deep,” and both President Xi and President Trump overplayed their hands and freaked each other out.”

Opinion | ‘Trump’s Going to Get Re-elected, Isn’t He?’ – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Voters have reason to worry.

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

President Trump in June at the launch of his 2020 campaign in Orlando, Fla.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“I’m struck at how many people have come up to me recently and said, “Trump’s going to get re-elected, isn’t he?” And in each case, when I drilled down to ask why, I bumped into the Democratic presidential debates in June. I think a lot of Americans were shocked by some of the things they heard there. I was.

I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans and have “Medicare for all” instead. I think we should strengthen Obamacare and eventually add a public option.

I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.

I was shocked at all those hands raised in support of providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants. I think promises we’ve made to our fellow Americans should take priority, like to veterans in need of better health care.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Thomas Friedman for such a cognent argument. The comments are well worth reading also, such as this one:

blgreenie
Lawrenceville NJ
Times Pick

Bravo, Mr. Friedman. When all those Democrats raised their hands to promise comprehensive health coverage for the undocumented, I thought, what a gift that was to Trump. It’s like they signed a contract without reading the fine print. I, too, was shocked. Little by little, Democrats are giving away an election that is winnable for them. Will it be Nixon-McGovern, again?

23 Replies1541 Recommended

Opinion | Trump Takes On China and Persia at Once. What’s to Worry About? – The New York Times

 

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

“If you’re keeping score at home on the Trump foreign policy, let me try to put it in a nutshell: The president has engaged America in a grand struggle to reshape the modern behavior of two of the world’s oldest civilizations — Persia and China — at the same time.

Pressing both to change is not crazy. What’s crazy is the decision to undertake such a huge endeavor without tightly defined goals, without allies to achieve those goals, without a strong and coherent national security team and without a plan on how to sync up all of President Trump’s competing foreign policy objectives.

After all, Trump is unilaterally breaking the 2015 denuclearization deal with Iran’s dictator while trying to entice North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, into a denuclearization deal that he’s supposed to trust the U.S. president will honor. Trump is sanctioning China on trade while trying to enlist its help to denuclearize North Korea. Trump is imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on America’s European allies while needing their help to confront China on trade and Iran on nukes.

And last week Trump came within 10 minutes of bombing Iran — but wisely pulled back — in retaliation for its shooting down of a U.S. drone, at a time when we cannot stabilize Iraq, or get out of Afghanistan without leaving chaos behind, absent the cooperation of Iran.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment.
Thank you Thomas Friedman, great essay, and great points. I don’t have the space and time here to repeat all those points, but it is interesting how the commentors criticize and attack you for thinking that Trump can listen to or take good advice. I’m not a fan of Drumpf, but he is brilliant as a con artist and crook, who has shown that he can dominate the press like few ever have. Furthermore, he has a brand to protect. I agree with your main point, that we can settle with Iran and should, extending the nuclear treaty by more years, for lifting the sanctions and maintaining a long, awkward peace. Your points about China are equally cogent. China poses a serious threat to the United States and the world, as well as a fine opportunity. I share in your unspoken grief. We had the beginning of a plan of action, with the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and we will have to return to such a proactive and intelligent diplomacy, even it it is to be called, at least temporarily, the Trump Pacific Partnership.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.net. He performs a folk concert of songs and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | China Deserves Donald Trump – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist,  May 21, 2019,   1420

 President Trump insists that his tough approach to China will benefit the United States.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

“A U.S. businessman friend of mine who works in China remarked to me recently that Donald Trump is not the American president America deserves, but he sure is the American president China deserves.

Trump’s instinct that America needs to rebalance its trade relationship with Beijing — before China gets too big to compromise — is correct. And it took a human wrecking ball like Trump to get China’s attention. But now that we have it, both countries need to recognize just how pivotal this moment is.

The original U.S.-China opening back in the 1970s defined our restored trade ties, which were limited. When we let China join the World Trade Organization in 2001, it propelled China into a trading powerhouse under rules that still gave China lots of concessions as a developing economy.

This new negotiation will define how the U.S. and China relate as economic peers, competing for the same 21st-century industries, at a time when our markets are totally intertwined. So this is no ordinary trade dispute. This is the big one.”

Source: Opinion | China Deserves Donald Trump – The New York Times