Opinion | Personalism: The Philosophy We Need – by David Brooks – NYT

“One of the lessons of a life in journalism is that people are always way more complicated than you think. We talk in shorthand about “Trump voters” or “social justice warriors,” but when you actually meet people they defy categories. Someone might be a Latina lesbian who loves the N.R.A. or a socialist Mormon cowboy from Arizona.

Moreover, most actual human beings are filled with ambivalences. Most political activists I know love parts of their party and despise parts of their party. A whole lifetime of experience, joy and pain goes into that complexity, and it insults their lives to try to reduce them to a label that ignores that.

Yet our culture does a pretty good job of ignoring the uniqueness and depth of each person. Pollsters see in terms of broad demographic groups. Big data counts people as if it were counting apples. At the extreme, evolutionary psychology reduces people to biological drives, capitalism reduces people to economic self-interest, modern Marxism to their class position and multiculturalism to their racial one. Consumerism treats people as mere selves — as shallow creatures concerned merely with the experience of pleasure and the acquisition of stuff.

Back in 1968, Karol Wojtyla wrote, “The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person.” That’s still true.

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So this might be a perfect time for a revival of personalism.

Personalism is a philosophic tendency built on the infinite uniqueness and depth of each person. Over the years people like Walt Whitman, Martin Luther King, William James, Peter Maurin and Wojtyla (who went on to become Pope John Paul II) have called themselves personalists, but the movement is still something of a philosophic nub. It’s not exactly famous.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at nyt comments.
Lovely piece David Brooks, thank you. I fear that Personalism is terrific, but flawed, and perhaps a useful starting place. It is probably too anthropcentric to get us homo sapiens to a right balance and relationship with other species, who by the way are disappearing all over the planet. “Anthropocentrism is human-centred living and this is the opposite of Biocentrism, or nature-centred living. . .” from Eco-action.org. I like your Personalism, but it is too anthropcentric for the survival of life on this planet as we know and love it. It might be a good time for you to do one of your deep dives into 350.org, and the work of Bill McKibbon and Al Gore and Edward O Wilson (scientist), describing the work of about 97% of climate scientists, who warn that global warming and climate change are sending us now into the sixth extinction. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
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NYT Video: The Militia That’s Threatening American Troops in Syria is backed by Iran

https://www.nytimes.com/?region=TopBar&action=click&contentCollection=Library&module=topnav_nythome&pgType=Multimedia

Video

There are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. Recently, a statement went out calling for direct attacks against them. Who sent it, and why?By DAVID BOTTI and CHRISTIAAN TRIEBERT

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Opinion | Trump: Trying to Remake America in His Own Image – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

“First Donald Trump remade the Republican Party in his own image, and now he is trying to remake America the same way — into a selfish, dishonest country with no close friends, totally unpredictable, free of any commitment to enduring values, ready to stab any ally in the back on Twitter if it doesn’t do our bidding and much more comfortable with mafia-like dictators than elected democrats.

God forbid we become the United States of Trump. That would threaten our future and the stability of the world. The world has come to rely on an America that, more often than not, has been ready to pay any price and bear any burden to do the right things, say the right things, model the right things and stand for the right things — when others were unwilling or unable to do so.

All the tangible and intangible benefits flowing from the global order we generated helped to make us the richest, most secure and most respected nation in history. We need to make that prosperity more inclusive, but becoming the Ugly America will make us only more insecure.

Fox News Chorus: That’s awfully churlish, Friedman. After all, Trump may deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for the denuclearization deal he just forged with North Korea.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Yes, thank you Thomas Friedman. We are not safer, in so many ways. Here are two of many comments I liked:

Soxared, ’04, ’07, ’13
Boston

Mr. Friedman, allow me to riff on a famous rhetorical question. ”Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Are we better off than we were 17 months ago?

Donald Trump has taken a buzz saw to the policies and achievements of President Barack Obama since he assumed office on January 20, 2017. Aside from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that shifted the national debt squarely onto the shoulders of the shrinking middle class to the permanent benefit of the one percent, just what has Trump accomplished?

Are we better off than we were 17 months ago?

America has gratuitously yielded its pre-eminence in several international agreements: the Paris Climate Accords; the Trans-Pacific Partnership; the working, effective Iran nuclear deal of 2015. President Obama was respected around the world. Is Trump?

Are we better off than we were 17 months ago?

We had a healthcare system that, for all its flaws, was working and only needed bipartisan support in Congress to to improve it. Trump wishes to wreck it for no good reason except that the man before him brought it into being.

Are we better off than we were 17 months ago?

President Obama’s economic achievements eased us back from the abyss to where, today, Trump dishonestly claims credit for another man’s work.

Are we better off than we were 17 months ago?

The eight years prior to Trump were scandal-free. That is hardly the case now as a many-headed hydra of corruption flings its arms around us: Russia; E.P.A.; Kushner, etc.

ChristineMcM commented 7 hours ago

ChristineMcM
ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

Mr. Friedman, Donald Trump isn’t just “trying” to remake America in his own image, he’s succeeding.

He’s succeeding because of an unprecedented level of cowardice that has taken over the minds of Republicans in Congress.

No matte what Trump does, demands, says, shouts, tweets, or freaks out about, this Congress aims to please.

Through silence. Through obeisance to an emperor with no clothes who’s not worthy of our magnificent system of government, because he’s trashes it daily, and has been since January 20, 2017.

No, I don’t feel more secure. That sinking feeling in the pit of stomach I had Election Night has only deepened with every strange move Trump thinks is bold to shock the world but ends up biting America where it hurts.

The North Korean caper is just the latest, and the worst. What was REALLY said when the two of them were alone. What other promises were made in addition to concessions freely offered with nothing in return?

Just look all around us: He’s gutted government, gutted healthcare, pitted American against American, alienated allies and encouraged dictators like Putin–whom, he eerily seems to be directed by. Example: The Russians have been pushing an end to war games for the past decade.

It’s time for all of us to call a spade a spade, because this president is a clear and ever-present danger to the economic, political, scientific, psychological and cultural health of our nation.

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Opinion | First They Came for the Migrants – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

The sci-fi writer William Gibson once said, “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” In America in 2018, the same could be said of authoritarianism.

Since Donald Trump was elected, there’s been a boom in best-selling books about the fragility of liberal democracy, including Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism: A Warning,” and Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny.” Many have noted that the president’s rhetoric abounds in classic fascist tropes, including the demonization of minorities and attempts to paint the press as treasonous. Trump is obviously more comfortable with despots like Russia’s Vladimir Putin than democrats like Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

via Opinion | First They Came for the Migrants – The New York Times

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Opinion | Debacle in Quebec – The New York Times

He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all. The truth is that Russia, whose GDP is about the same size as Spain’s and quite a bit smaller than Brazil’s, was always a ringer in what was meant to be a group of major economies. It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.

Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low. The European Union, for example, levies an average tariff of only three percent on US goods. Who says so? The U.S. government’s own guide to exporters.

True, there are some particular sectors where each country imposes special barriers to trade. Yes, Canada imposes high tariffs on certain dairy products. But it’s hard to make the case that these special cases are any worse than, say, the 25 percent tariff the U.S. still imposes on light trucks. The overall picture is that all of the G7 members have very open markets.

via Opinion | Debacle in Quebec – The New York Times

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Opinion | Debacle in Quebec – Paul Krugman – NYT

He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all. The truth is that Russia, whose GDP is about the same size as Spain’s and quite a bit smaller than Brazil’s, was always a ringer in what was meant to be a group of major economies. It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.

Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low. The European Union, for example, levies an average tariff of only three percent on US goods. Who says so? The U.S. government’s own guide to exporters.

True, there are some particular sectors where each country imposes special barriers to trade. Yes, Canada imposes high tariffs on certain dairy products. But it’s hard to make the case that these special cases are any worse than, say, the 25 percent tariff the U.S. still imposes on light trucks. The overall picture is that all of the G7 members have very open markets.

via Opinion | Debacle in Quebec – The New York Times

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Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – The New York Times

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

via Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – The New York Times

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Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – by David Leonhardt – NYT

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.

President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

No wonder. The meeting’s central disagreements were over tariffs that Trump has imposed for false reasons. He claims that he’s merely responding to other countries. But the average current tariff of the United States, Britain, Germany and France is identical, according to the World Bank: 1.6 percent. Japan’s is 1.4 percent, and Canada’s is 0.8 percent. Yes, every country has a few objectionable tariffs, but they’re small — and the United States is not a victim here.

So Trump isn’t telling the truth about trade, much as he has lied about Barack Obama’s birthplace, his own position on the Iraq War, his inauguration crowd, voter fraud, the murder rate, Mexican immigrants, the Russia investigation, the Stormy Daniels hush money and several hundred other subjects. The tariffs aren’t a case of his identifying a real problem but describing it poorly. He is threatening the Atlantic alliance over a lie.

via Opinion | Trump Tries to Destroy the West – The New York Times

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Editorial | Can Facebook Be Cut Down to Size? – The New York Times

When the government broke up the telephone system in 1984, the fact that AT&T could count most citizens as customers and that it was arguably the best-run telephone company in the world was not deemed compelling enough to preserve its monopoly power. The breakup would unleash a wave of competition and innovation that ultimately benefited consumers and the economy.

Facebook seems to be in a similar position today — only with far greater global reach than Ma Bell could have imagined. Facebook’s two billion monthly active users, and the way those accounts are linked and viewed by users and by third parties, have made it the most powerful communications and media company in the world, even if its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, insists his is a technology business.

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David Lindsay Jr.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at NYT
Bravo, thank you NYT editorialists. You wrote: “The European Union has passed such legislation, called the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R., which forces companies such as Facebook to do a better job shielding individual data. Facebook says it is willing to extend the G.D.P.R. to anyone who asks for it. Though why should we have to ask for what ought to be ours to begin with?” Where in my FB settings do I ask them to turn on my GDPR, which could also be, my God Damned Protections Retroactively.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

 

via Opinion | Can Facebook Be Cut Down to Size? – The New York Times

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Stop Facebook tracking you across the web- change these settings | ZDNet

Head to this link (and sign in if you have to), then make sure the “Ads on apps and websites off of the Facebook Companies” option is turned “no.”

And that’s it. The caveat is that you may see ads relating to your age, gender, or location, Facebook says.

You can also make other ad-based adjustments to the page — to Facebook’s credit, they’re fairly easy to understand. The best bet (at the time of publication) is to switch all options to “no” or “no-one.”

via Stop Facebook tracking you across the web, change these settings | ZDNet

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