Opinion | Paging Michael Bloomberg – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press

“My fellow Americans, we face a national emergency. Never before have we had a president so utterly lacking in personal integrity, so able to lie and abuse his powers with such impunity and so blindly backed by an amoral party, an unscrupulous attorney general and a media-fund-raising juggernaut. It is an engine of raw power that will cram anything the president says or does right down your throat.

James Carville had it exactly right when he noted on “Morning Joe” the other day that the only thing standing in the way of lasting damage by this machine to all that makes America unique and great is the Democrats’ nominating the right person to defeat Donald Trump.

We have to get this right. This is no ordinary time, no ordinary Republican Party, no ordinary incumbent, and it will require an extraordinary Democratic machine to triumph.

Because, without doubt, Russia and China also will be “voting” Trump 2020 — for three reasons: (1) Trump keeps America in turmoil and unable to focus on building the infrastructure we need to dominate the 21st century the way we did the 20th. (2) Both Beijing and Moscow know that Trump is so disliked by America’s key allies that he can never galvanize a global coalition against China or Russia. And (3) both Russia and China know that Trump is utterly transactional and will never challenge them on human rights abuses. Trump is their chump, and they will not let him go easily.”

Opinion | Mother Nature Scoffs at Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By

Opinion Columnist

 

“TEL AVIV — To get a different perspective on the Trump-Kushner peace plan, I decided to call the best Middle East analyst I know. Her name is Mother Nature.

So, Mother Nature, what did you think of the Deal of the Century?

Well, Tom, not a lot. For starters, it mentioned me in only a few short sentences. Let me take you on a tour of the neighborhood, as I see it. Warning: My maps have no boundary lines, no walls — and no Areas A, B and C in the West Bank.

You can be sure that President Trump, who has declared climate change a hoax, has no idea that the Eastern Mediterranean has experienced drought conditions for 15 of the last 20 years, which is unparalleled in the modern historical record. A recent study by Tel Aviv University predicts that the Eastern Mediterranean will get steadily hotter and drier and gradually lose two months of winter — i.e., rainfall months — within the next 25 years. Meanwhile, in 1948 Israel’s population was 800,000. It’s now 8.7 million. Jordan’s was 450,000. It’s now 10 million. Syria’s was three million, and it’s now 17.5 million. So, the future is steadily more people and less water.

What are the implications?

Israel used to pump up to 500 million cubic meters of water a year out of the Sea of Galilee, a freshwater lake, to meet domestic needs, including for agricultural fields in the south of Israel, to turn the desert green. In 2018, Israel could pump out only 30 million cubic meters!

In the summer of 2018, the Sea of Galilee was so low from droughts and water withdrawals for rising populations that it was threatening to become another saline lake, like the Dead Sea. You remember that Jesus walked on water in the Sea of Galilee? Well, you could have done that, too, because it was so low that two islands were visible in the middle of the lake.”

Opinion | How to Defeat Trump and Catch a Frisbee – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“As the country embarks on only the third impeachment trial of a president in its history, there are many unique features about this moment, but one stands out for me: Never before have we had to confront a president who lies as he breathes and is backed by a political party and an entire cable TV-led ecosystem able and enthusiastic to create an alternative cognitive universe that propagates those lies on an unlimited scale.

It is disheartening, disorienting and debilitating.

How can the truth — that Donald Trump used taxpayer funds to try to force the president of Ukraine to sully the reputation of Joe Biden, a political rival — possibly break through this unique trifecta of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, reinforced by a network without integrity?

There is only one way: Keep it simple.

Democrats need to just keep repeating over and over one question: “Why would an innocent man, and a jury interested in the truth, not want all the evidence out and all the witnesses to testify? Wouldn’t you if you were innocent?”

Indeed, at moments like these I always fall back on what I consider to be one of the most useful essays in political science. It was a 2012 speech by Andrew G. Haldane, a top economist at the Bank of England, at an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. It was titled “The Dog and the Frisbee” and was all about how central bankers and regulators should think about regulation after the 2008 financial crisis.”

Opinion | Trump’s Code of Dishonor – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

“Iran’s Qassim Suleimani was an engine of mayhem in the Middle East. His business model was to go to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq and recruit Arab Shiites to kill Arab Sunnis (and Americans and Israelis) and to create pro-Iranian statelets inside Iran’s Arab neighbors to weaken them from the inside. I followed this man closely. No one should mourn his passing.

So why do I still question the wisdom of his assassination? Because it was done without a clear strategic or moral framework. And the biggest lesson I learned from covering the U.S. interventions in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan is: When administrations are not constantly forced to answer hard questions from the outside about what they’re thinking strategically and morally — when questioners are dismissed as unpatriotic — that administrations’ inside thinking gets sloppy, their intelligence gets manipulated and trouble follows.

Never assume that people who are in charge know what they are doing just because they are in charge.

What is President Trump’s strategic framework? One day, without any consultation with allies or our commanders, he ordered U.S. troops out of Syria, where they were serving as a critical block on Iran’s ability to build a land bridge to Lebanon and were a key source of intelligence. In the process, he abandoned our most important allies in fighting ISIS: the Syrian Kurds, who were also creating an island of decency in their region, where islands of decency are the most we can hope for.

And then, a few weeks later, Trump ordered the killing of Suleimani, an action that required him to shift more troops into the region and tell Iraqis that we’re not leaving their territory, even though their Parliament voted to evict us. It also prompted Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program, which could well necessitate U.S. military action.”

Opinion | Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

A portrait of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani carried during a demonstration in Baghdad in 2015.
Credit…Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

“One day they may name a street after President Trump in Tehran. Why? Because Trump just ordered the assassination of possibly the dumbest man in Iran and the most overrated strategist in the Middle East: Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Think of the miscalculations this guy made. In 2015, the United States and the major European powers agreed to lift virtually all their sanctions on Iran, many dating back to 1979, in return for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program for a mere 15 years, but still maintaining the right to have a peaceful nuclear program. It was a great deal for Iran. Its economy grew by over 12 percent the next year. And what did Suleimani do with that windfall?

He and Iran’s supreme leader launched an aggressive regional imperial project that made Iran and its proxies the de facto controlling power in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana. This freaked out U.S. allies in the Sunni Arab world and Israel — and they pressed the Trump administration to respond. Trump himself was eager to tear up any treaty forged by President Obama, so he exited the nuclear deal and imposed oil sanctions on Iran that have now shrunk the Iranian economy by almost 10 percent and sent unemployment over 16 percent.”

David Lindsay:

Ouch. I want to support this assassination, because that would be easy. But if Suleimani was so dumb, and so bad for Iran, why did we turn him into a gigantic martyr?  Why didn’t the Israelis, who had penetrated his organization, take him out?  The awful probable truth, is that Trump is in trouble and he needs a war. The Ayatollah of Iran is in trouble, and he needs a war. Why, with so many issues and questions, did the Pentagon go along with the orange orangutan who is president, and who continually serves the interests of Putin and the Russians? Did any of you reading this, see the exposé in the NYT the other day, about how the Russians and Syrian air force are bombing hospitals and schools in northern Syria? They are bombing our allies, whom we fought with and for. Perhaps the best question, is, why did Putin want this to happen? It will probably go very badly for the United States.

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?”