Archive for the ‘The Moustache of Wisdom’ Category

Friedman, Cohen, and Bruni

September 28, 2016

The Moustache of Wisdom asks “Trump? How Could We?” and says it would be insanity to put him in the White House.  Mr. Cohen. in “Clinton’s Victory Without Breakthrough,” says Trump revealed all of his shortcomings in the debate. But does it matter?  Not to the knuckle-walkers, Roger.  Mr. Bruni has a question in “Sympathy for the Donald:”  What’s a man to do when all is rigged against him?  Gee — maybe seek some competent psychiatric help?  Here’s TMOW:

My reaction to the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate can be summarized with one word: “How?”

How in the world do we put a man in the Oval Office who thinks NATO is a shopping mall where the tenants aren’t paying enough rent to the U.S. landlord?

NATO is not a shopping mall; it is a strategic alliance that won the Cold War, keeps Europe a stable trading partner for U.S. companies and prevents every European country — particularly Germany — from getting their own nukes to counterbalance Russia, by sheltering them all under America’s nuclear umbrella.

How do we put in the Oval Office a man who does not know enough “beef” about key policies to finish a two-minute answer on any issue without the hamburger helper of bluster, insults and repetition?

How do we put in the Oval Office a man who suggests that the recent spate of cyberattacks — which any senior U.S. intelligence official will tell you came without question from Russia — might not have come from Russia but could have been done by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds”?

How do we put in the Oval Office a man who boasts that he tries to pay zero federal taxes but then complains that our airports and roads are falling apart and there is not enough money for our veterans?

How do we put in the Oval Office a man who claims he was against the Iraq war, because he said he privately told that to his pal Sean Hannity of Fox News — even though he publicly supported the war when it began. Trump is so obsessed with proving his infallibility that he missed scoring an easy debate point for himself by saying, “Yes, I supported the Iraq war as a citizen, but Hillary voted for it as a senator when she had access to the intelligence and her job was to make the right judgment.”

How do we put in the Oval Office someone who says we should not have gone into Iraq, but since we did, “we should have taken the oil — ISIS would not have been able to form … because the oil was their primary source of income.”

ISIS formed before it managed to pump any oil, and it sustained itself with millions of dollars that it stole from Iraq’s central bank in Mosul. Meanwhile, Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves — 140 billion barrels. Can you imagine how many years we’d have to stay there to pump it all and how much doing so would tarnish our moral standing around the world and energize every jihadist?

How do we put in the Oval Office someone whose campaign manager has to go on every morning show after the debate and lie to try to make up for the nonsense her boss spouted? Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Tuesday morning that when it comes to climate change, “We don’t know what Hillary Clinton believes, because nobody ever asks her.”

Say what? As secretary of state, Clinton backed every global climate negotiation and clean energy initiative. That’s like saying no one knows Hillary’s position on women’s rights.

Conway then went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and argued that Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, had never created a job and was partly responsible for the lack of adequate “roads and bridges” in our country. When challenged on that by MGM Resorts’s C.E.O., James Murren — who argued that his business was up, that the economy was improving and that Clinton’s job as secretary of state was to create stability — Conway responded that Clinton had nothing to do with any improvements in the economy because “she’s never been president so she’s created no financial stability.”

I see: Everything wrong is Clinton’s fault and anything good is to the president’s credit alone. Silly.

The “Squawk Box” segment was devoted to the fact that while Trump claims that he will get the economy growing, very few C.E.O.s of major U.S. companies are supporting him. Also, interesting how positively the stock market reacted to Trump’s debate defeat. Maybe because C.E.O.s and investors know that Trump and Conway are con artists and that recent statistics show income gaps are actually narrowing, wages are rising and poverty is easing.

The Trump-Conway shtick is to trash the country so they can make us great again. Fact: We have problems and not everyone is enjoying the fruits of our economy, but if you want to be an optimist about America, stand on your head — the country looks so much better from the bottom up. What you see are towns and regions not waiting for Washington, D.C., but coming together themselves to fix infrastructure, education and governance. I see it everywhere I go.

I am not enamored of Clinton’s stale, liberal, centralized view of politics, but she is sane and responsible; she’ll do her homework, can grow in the job, and might even work well with Republicans, as she did as a senator.

Trump promises change, but change that comes from someone who thinks people who pay taxes are suckers and who thinks he can show up before an audience of 100 million without preparation or real plans and talk about serious issues with no more sophistication than your crazy uncle — and expect to get away with it — is change the country can’t afford.

Electing such a man would be insanity.

Next up we have Mr. Cohen:

About midway through their first debate, Hillary Clinton said of Donald Trump: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

It was one of her best moments, an understated swipe at Trump’s evident lack of preparation for the responsibilities of the Oval Office, and it got to the heart of their often disjointed exchanges: Clinton was measured and assured, if a little too much of a policy wonk at times, while Trump was as erratic and peevish as he has been since the beginning of his campaign.

This has worked for him up to now; it may work still in what has become a close race. A lot of Americans want change; Trump is the political upstart and Clinton the political establishment. Nothing that transpired in the debate will have altered the fact that millions of Americans want rupture not continuity, and they see in Trump the potential for a radical break from politics as usual.

But if Trump’s aim was to come across as presidential, in the sense of possessing judgment and some actual knowledge of issues, he failed. He ranted more than he reasoned. He repeated untruths, and he repeated himself over and over. His core supporters won’t care, of course, but the undecided voters who will decide the election might.

Clinton, for her part, came across as a steady hand, at once patient and resolute. She picked Trump apart on his failure to disclose his tax return, turning on him when he lamented the state of American airports, roads, bridges and tunnels: “Maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years.” She pilloried his treatment of women to great effect, and led the prickly Trump into a rabbit-hole of tired allegations as she held his long embrace of lies about President Obama’s place of birth up for deserved ridicule. Trump, when he gets defensive, is a bore. This was amply illustrated under Clinton’s fire.

Still, for Clinton, a candidate struggling to overcome distrust and enthuse dubious young Americans, this was a polished rather than breakthrough performance. She delivered all that could be expected of her. But hesitant voters are looking for a glimpse of the unexpected and unscripted in her, a human connection rather than a political one. They will still be waiting.

She was at her worst when she talked about how “independent experts” favor her economic plans over Trump’s and when, more than once, she urged viewers to go to her website for real-time fact checking of her opponent’s words. People were not watching Clinton to be directed to the efforts of Clinton’s staff. They know the Clinton campaign is competent.

Besides, not all Clinton’s facts were straight. Under fire from Trump for her flip-flopping on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — Clinton was a strong supporter before opposing it — she said she had merely “hoped it would be a good deal.” In fact, just as Trump insisted, she had called it “the gold standard” in trade agreements.

“Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts,” Clinton said during this sharp discussion of trade, which constituted Trump’s most effective moment. Clinton’s reversal on the free trade that has, on balance, been good for the American economy for decades has left her vulnerable, defending positions of which she herself is unconvinced. Bernie Sanders pushed her left of her comfort zone on trade, and now she is cornered.

But this was an isolated moment of ascendancy for Trump. Where Clinton dealt effectively with her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state by saying, simply, that it was a mistake, Trump could not utter that word. Mistake and the Republican candidate do not inhabit the same universe.

He repeated the lie that he had initially opposed the Iraq war, denied dismissive statements he made about climate change, blathered about his taxes, displayed complete ignorance of the effectiveness of the Iran nuclear deal, and even strayed into a no-go area by attacking the Federal Reserve. Such was his scattershot incoherence on foreign policy that Clinton’s tired defense of a plodding approach to the ISIS threat — a defense that was utterly unpersuasive — seemed at least grounded in a modicum of bitter experience. Clinton assured American allies that mutual defense treaties would be honored. Trump is plainly convinced he can reinvent the world without studying it, a dangerous delusion.

His case to be president came down to saying it was time that the United States is run by somebody who understands money. But, even if Trump does know his way around money, an uncertain proposition, that is insufficient preparation for leading the free world.

Toward the end, Trump questioned Clinton’s stamina. The response was instant: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”

It was a brilliant dismissal of Trump’s nasty innuendo. In a normal campaign, it might drive home why Clinton is far better prepared to be president. But this is not a normal campaign. Clinton won Monday night, by any conventional reckoning. But whether that makes victory for her on Nov. 8 any more likely is unclear.

And last but not least we have Mr. Bruni:

Go ahead and laugh at Donald Trump’s claims that he was foiled by a finicky microphone on Monday night, but I can relate. When I write a bad column, it’s all my keyboard’s fault.

The other columnists have reliable keyboards. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but they do. Reach your own conclusions. When one of them taps out a beautiful sentence, a beautiful sentence appears on the computer screen, just the way it’s supposed to.

When I try to tap out an even more beautiful sentence — and my sentences are amazing sentences; you can’t believe these sentences — I have to press and bang and hunch closer to the desk and bang even harder and still you never know.

The sentence winds up mangled. It lacks a verb. Or it sprouts an adverb (“bigly,” anyone?) that sounds ridiculous, though I’m not. Readers experience a rant where, really, there was eloquent reflection — or would have been, if not for my keyboard. A “sniffle” sneaks into the equation when there wasn’t any “sniffle” at all. It’s just a nasty trick of that keyboard. A defective keyboard, which the other columnists don’t have.

And the extra effort that this keyboard demands means that I’m dehydrated and have to drink more water than they do. It’s not that I have flop sweat. I’m no Marco Rubio, for crying out loud. It’s not that I lack stamina. I’m no Hillary Clinton.

You’ve read this far and you’re thinking: Dear God, he didn’t prepare for this column. Not a whit. We were warned that he might not, but we dismissed that as expectations-lowering spin, because surely he appreciated the magnitude of the moment, the consequence of his task, an analysis of the first-ever general-election debate between a woman and a circus act. But instead of boning up on the issues, reviewing past debates and crafting a few can’t-miss zingers, he just pumped air into his hair and more air into his head and sauntered into action as if the sheer, inimitable wonder of his presence would be enough.

To which I say: President Obama plays too much golf. And Rosie O’Donnell has been vicious to me. Very vicious.

Patti Solis Doyle. Wolf Blitzer. Sidney Blumenthal.

I like to use proper nouns in poorly explained contexts, even if most readers will have no idea what I’m babbling about.

I like to test my audience’s math skills. Only one of the following four sentences is arithmetically plausible; you tell me which. Clinton has been fighting ISIS her entire adult life. If she hadn’t been involved in the Vietnam War, it would have ended sooner and better. By leading from behind, she enabled Adolf Hitler’s rise. My federal tax rate over the last five years is a negative integer.

I also like to show restraint. There are all sorts of things I could bring up in this column that I’m not going to. I could talk about the candidates’ marital histories. I could summon sexual scandal. But, see, I’m not doing that, because that’s beneath me, though I reserve the right to do it in my next debate column, because it might not be beneath me then.

If there is a next debate column. We’ll see. Rudy Giuliani says I should skip it, because I’m not being treated fairly, and if this journalism thing is rigged against me, I can’t just sniffle and bear it, can I?

I have a club in Palm Beach, investments in Charlotte, property in Chicago. That’s not relevant to the previous sentiment, but I don’t stack my points in some coherent, logical order. That’s what overly programmed, endlessly rehearsed columnists do. Besides which, I like to brag.

I’ve been endorsed by organizations that have never endorsed a columnist before. A few may not even exist. But they see in me something that they haven’t seen in my peers. Just ask Giuliani, though you’ll have to wait your turn. He has live appearances on three different networks over the next two hours, including a medical panel, moderated by Sean Hannity, on the question: “Clinton: Fully Recovered or Drugged Out the Wazoo?”

I don’t need drugs, because I have a great temperament. Great humility, too, but I’d put my temperament above even that. I don’t complain when people gang up on me, and they’re constantly ganging up on me: It’s disgusting how they behave.

Whatever. I wrote a great column anyway. I’m thrilled with this column. All of the polls show that it’s a huge success. Wait, what … they don’t? You must be looking at the wrong polls. Or the pollsters aren’t honest. So many dishonest people out there. Not that I’m complaining.

Friedman, solo

September 21, 2016

In “Two Ex-Spies and Donald Trump” The Moustache of Wisdom says an old K.G.B. hand, Vladimir Putin, would be happy to see his admirer elected, but a former C.I.A. director, Robert Gates, sees Trump as unfit.  Here he is:

When it comes to assessing the presidential race, I prefer to listen to the spies. They tend to be brutally unsentimental, see through the nonsense and cut to the cold, hard bottom line. And right now, two of the world’s foremost former spymasters are sending uncoded messages about what it will mean for America and the Western alliance if Donald Trump is elected president.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce former C.I.A. Director Robert Gates and his longtime nemesis and former K.G.B. agent, President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Putin is voting Trump. Gates is not.

In an essay in The Wall Street Journal, Gates, who also was defense secretary for George W. Bush and Barack Obama, criticized both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for failing to take the threat posed by Putin’s Russia seriously. But Trump, Gates added, has gone places with Putin no would-be American president should: “Mr. Trump’s expressions of admiration for the man and his authoritarian regime are naïve and irresponsible.”

Yes, Clinton has her own credibility issues on national security, Gates explained, but “Donald Trump is in a league of his own. He has expressed support for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico; for torturing suspected terrorists and killing their families; for Mr. Putin’s dictatorial leadership and for Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent successes against terrorism. He also has said he is for using defense spending by NATO allies as the litmus test on whether the U.S. will keep its treaty commitments to them; for withdrawing U.S. troops from Europe, South Korea and Japan and for the latter two developing nuclear weapons — a highly destabilizing prospect.”

Clinton still has time to address her judgment and credibility issues and earn votes of people like himself, Gates said. As for Trump, he said, “on national security, I believe [he] is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.”

I admire Gates for speaking out. Not enough attention has been paid to the national security implications of a Trump presidency.

I’m certain you’d see U.S. military officers and government officials quitting if Trump ordered them to torture captured terrorists, go house to house to evict illegal immigrants, start trade wars with China and Mexico or ban Muslims. Trump the chaos primary candidate became the chaos presidential nominee, and you can bet he’d be a chaos president.

Being unpredictable as a leader is fine, if you know where you’re going and it is a tool to get you there by keeping foes off balance. But being unpredictable because you have no discipline; because you think issues like ISIS are just a manhood test; because you have not studied the issues so anything can come out of your mouth; and because you don’t realize that when we tell countries like Japan or South Korea or our NATO allies that we might not protect them from Russia or China, they will go get their own nukes and make the world even less stable — well, that kind of unpredictability is how alliances get broken, messes get made and wars get started.

That’s why Putin is licking his chops. It is no accident that Putin praised Trump as “a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.” It is also no accident that Putin’s cyberagents have hacked the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign — to create embarrassing leaks — while ignoring both Trump and the G.O.P. It’s because Putin knows the same thing that Gates does: A President Trump would keep Washington and the Western alliance in turmoil.

Moreover, Trump has told so many baldfaced lies in the last year, I can’t imagine what would happen if he had to take America into a war. Who would trust that he was telling the truth about anything?

Also, because of how Trump has disparaged our NATO allies, it is impossible to envision him leading the alliance — particularly if we have to blunt further Russian expansion. And how exactly is Trump going to enlist Arab Gulf nations against ISIS or to counterbalance Iran, having stated that their Muslim citizens should be banned from entering the U.S.?

Who will want to work with him? Trump is constantly saying extreme things and then taking them back or claiming to be misunderstood. Consider the havoc that will wreak with our diplomacy.

That’s why the cynical Putin admires Trump. Trump, narcissist that he is, thinks it’s because Putin really admires his leadership qualities. No, Donald. It’s because Putin knows a mess-maker when he sees one, and the thought of America being led by a man who would be wildly unpopular simultaneously in Europe, Beijing, Mexico, South America and the Muslim world is for Putin a dream come true. The old K.G.B. could never make that happen.

So, young people, listen up: Hillary doesn’t light your fire? O.K., I agree, she is a flawed candidate. But she can responsibly manage the affairs of state. Trump is beyond repair and won’t just light your fire — he’ll burn the house down. Ask the old spies.

Friedman and Bruni

September 14, 2016

The Moustache of Wisdom, in “Donald Trump’s Putin Crush,” says Trump doesn’t let reality, including the harm the Russian leader has brought to his own people, get in the way of his post-truth politics.  Mr. Bruni considers “Hillary Clinton’s Sick Days” and has a question:  How are her coughing fits more alarming than Donald Trump’s hissy fits?  Here’s TMOW:

When it comes to rebutting Donald Trump’s idiotic observation that Vladimir Putin is a strong leader — “far more than our president has been a leader” — it is hard to top the assessment of Russian-born Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, which The Times’s Andrew Higgins quoted in his story from Moscow: “Vladimir Putin is a strong leader in the same way that arsenic is a strong drink. Praising a brutal K.G.B. dictator, especially as preferable to a democratically elected U.S. president, whether you like Obama or hate him, is despicable and dangerous.”

Indeed, Kasparov’s point cuts to the core of what is so scary about a Trump presidency: Trump is what The Economist has called “the leading exponent of ‘post-truth’ politics — a reliance on assertions that ‘feel true’ but have no basis in fact,” and, sadly, “his brazenness is not punished, but taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power.” When politics becomes “like pro-wrestling,” society pays a huge cost, The Economist added, because any complex explanation of any problem is dismissed as experts just trying “to bamboozle everyone else.”

So Trump just skips from blaming Mexican immigrants for high murder rates, to President Obama for inventing ISIS, to China for creating the concept of global warming, to thousands of Muslims in New Jersey for celebrating 9/11, to Obama for really having been born in Kenya, to an I.R.S. audit for preventing him from showing us his tax returns — which would probably show that he paid no taxes.

Every word of it is a lie that most in his own party won’t call out. Can you imagine the damage Trump could do to the fabric of our democracy if he had the White House pulpit from which to preach his post-truth politics — how it would filter down into public discourse at large and infect every policy debate?

“Donald Trump has not only brought haters into the mainstream, he has normalized hate for a much broader swathe of the population who were perhaps already disaffected but had their grievances and latent prejudices held in check by social norms,” observed Josh Marshall, publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com, in his blog on Saturday. “This isn’t some minor point or critique. It’s a fundamental part of what is at stake in this election, what makes it different from Obama v. Romney. … This election has become a battle to combat the moral and civic cancer Trump has [been] injecting into the body politic.”

Think about the ridiculous trope Trump has been peddling, that if only Obama were as “strong” as Putin. Well, if he were, here are some of the benefits America would enjoy:

A 2015 report in The Moscow Times noted that “life expectancy in Russia has been growing several times slower than in the rest of the world for the past 20 years, according to a research by the U.S.-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.” That coincides almost exactly with Putin’s leadership of the country. The article explained, “During the period of 1990-2013 [life expectancy] only grew by 1.8 years in Russia, while the global average number increased by 6.2 years, pushing Russia out of the top 100 countries with the highest life expectancy and placing it in 108th position — between Iraq and North Korea.”

Why don’t we have a leader strong enough to slow gains in the life expectancy of an entire nation?

An investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency released last summer found that Putin’s Russia was operating a state-sponsored doping scheme for four years across the “vast majority” of Summer and Winter Olympic sports. According to a July 18, 2016, BBC report on the investigation, “Russia’s sports ministry ‘directed, controlled and oversaw’ manipulation of urine samples provided by its athletes.” Scores of Russian athletes were barred from the Rio Olympics as a result.

I get it: A weak president doesn’t dare tamper with his Olympic athletes. A strong president dopes up his Summer and Winter Olympic teams for multiple Games.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine to shore up his faltering domestic popularity, and then got hit with Western economic sanctions, the dollar-ruble exchange rate has gone from around 36 rubles to the dollar to 65 rubles to the dollar. Russia’s economic growth fell 3.7 percent in 2015, and the I.M.F. predicts it will fall 1 percent in 2016. Inflation in Russia doubled to 15.4 percent in 2015, compared with 7.8 percent in 2014. A World Bank report quoted by the BBC in April said “the number of Russians living below the poverty line will grow at its fastest pace in more than 17 years in 2016.”

It takes a strong leader to shrink his currency by 50 percent, double inflation and vastly accelerate poverty in just two years. A weak leader could never do that.

Putin is a leader who is always looking for dignity in all the wrong places — by investing in bullying wars, not in his own people; by jailing and likely poisoning his opponents; and by being so insecure that he just shut Russia’s last independent polling firm after it indicated that many Russians may not vote in the coming parliamentary elections because, among other things, they think they’re “rigged.”

This is the man Donald Trump admires more than our own president.

And now here’s Mr. Bruni:

Before we delve any further into the coughs heard round the world and the swoon that changed history, some perspective:

Running for president isn’t hard. It’s brutal. The oddity isn’t that one of the candidates would succumb to illness and be forced off the trail for a few days. The oddity is that all of the candidates don’t drop like flies.

What we ask of them is less preparation than mortification, physical as well as psychological. Between formal speeches and informal rallies and briefings and fund-raisers and long flights and short bus rides and coffee-shop huddles and state-fairground scrums, they endure 20-hour days in which they cram in twice that many hours of work. They’re miracles of perseverance, so much so that a certain 68-year-old Democratic nominee can get a pneumonia diagnosis and deliver a big (if cloddishly rendered) speech at a fund-raiser that same night.

Their stamina isn’t at issue, just their sanity.

We haven’t learned anything new about Hillary Clinton’s penchant for secrecy. We’ve had it confirmed — for the millionth time. Her self-protection is a perverse form of self-destruction. It’s borderline pathological. But it’s something that most voters accepted or rejected somewhere along the quarter-century timeline from Travelgate to her emails. A roadside crumpling and a round of antibiotics aren’t going to change that.

Her lack of transparency might well be disqualifying if her opponent were the political equivalent of freshly Windexed glass. Her opponent is the political equivalent of a thickly armored car.

Donald Trump won’t show us his taxes. He won’t illuminate his philanthropic activity or the workings of his charity, which, according to David Fahrenthold’s terrific reporting in The Washington Post, operates in a bizarrely self-aggrandizing fashion.

He’s promising more detailed health information and a sit-down with Dr. Oz, who is Trump with a stethoscope, approaching matters of great seriousness with great silliness. (Next up: Judge Judy hears the Trump University lawsuit.)

But what Trump presented previously — a few gushing sentences from a physician who later admitted to ginning them up on the fly — was a Valentine’s Day card masquerading as medicine. I’m surprised there weren’t hearts and Cupids in the margins.

Apart from it, there’s no evidence of Trump as Hercules. More like Nero, with a coterie of sycophants fanning him and peeling his grapes.

He’s the master of phoning in to news shows rather than appearing on set, which would require more exertion. He has often done just one event a day, near an airport, so he can fly home in his plush private jet and sleep in his own comfy bed. He’s the rare exception to the slog I described above. During the primaries, it was huge news when he finally overnighted in a chain hotel in Iowa and, that same weekend, sat through all 60 minutes of a church service. Praise the Lord and pass the Gatorade.

Although his hair refuses to accept it, he’s 70 years old, and if there’s footage out there of him doing the P90X workout, I missed it. I haveseen him playing golf, which isn’t much more aerobically demanding than backgammon.

All of this makes him a singularly ineffective critic of Clinton’s health. And his surrogates and supporters are bungling the case by overstating it. To hear them talk, she’s some sporadically animated cadaver, a mash-up of “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “The Candidate.” They’re going to look ridiculous when she stands sturdily on the debate stage for 90 minutes and speaks in sentences fuller, more coherent and more grammatical than his.

Of course events could unfold differently. She could have a debate so terrible that naysaying about her health is the least of her worries. She could continue to struggle with illness, compromising the intensity with which she stumps. She could shortchange us on the additional medical records that she has rightly pledged to share, yanking her campaign off message yet again. She could have a lurking malady — as could Trump.

But we don’t have any more proof of her physical unfitness for the presidency than we did a week ago. There’s no clear link between the blood clot of 2013 and Sunday’s swoon.

What we have is a stress-aggravated instance of frailty from one of two senior citizens engaged in a marathon. Will it really eclipse the race’s other dynamics?

In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, only 36 percent of respondents said that Trump was qualified to be president. I can’t imagine any one of the other 64 percent reasoning: “He’s ignorant, but so robustlyignorant. A liar, but such a strapping one. Forget those hateful tirades; look at those cholesterol levels.”

I can’t see her coughing fits excusing his hissy fits, which are scarier and harder to cure.

Friedman and Bruni

September 7, 2016

In “We Are All Noah Now” The Moustache of Wisdom says we and our kids are rapidly becoming charged with saving each species’ last pairs.  Mr. Bruni, in “Elites Neglect Veterans,” says the dearth of ex-military students at some colleges is shameful.  Here’s TMOW, writing from Honolulu:

Robert Macfarlane, in his book “Landmarks,” about the connection between words and landscapes, tells a revealing but stunning story about how recent editions of the Oxford Junior Dictionary (aimed at 7-year-olds) dropped certain “nature words” that its editors deemed less relevant to the lives of modern children. These included “acorn,” “dandelion,” “fern,” “nectar,” “otter,” “pasture” and “willow.” The terms introduced in their place, he noted, included “broadband,” “blog,” “cut-and-paste,” “MP3 player” and “voice-mail.”

While this news was first disclosed in 2015, reading it in Macfarlane’s book still shocks me for what it signifies. But who can blame the Oxford editors for dumping Amazon words for Amazon.com ones? Our natural world is rapidly disappearing. Just how fast was the major topic here last week at the global conference held every four years by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which I participated in along with some 8,000 scientists, nature reserve specialists and environmentalists.

The dominant theme running through the I.U.C.N.’s seminars was the fact that we are bumping up against and piercing planetary boundaries — on forests, oceans, ice melt, species extinctions and temperature — from which Mother Nature will not be able to recover. When the coral and elephants are all gone, no 3-D printer will be able to recreate them.

In short, we and our kids are rapidly becoming the Noah generation, charged with saving the last pairs. (This is no time to be electing a climate-change denier like Donald Trump for president.)

Sylvia Earle, the renowned oceanographer, put it well to a sustainability conference hosted here by the East-West Center alongside the I.U.C.N. meetings. In her lifetime, said Earle, she has felt as if she’s been “witness to the greatest era of discovery and the greatest era of loss” in our planet’s history.

So now, she said, “we are at a crossroads. What we do right now or fail to do will determine the future — not just for us, but for all life on earth.”

Those really are the stakes — there is a reason nature words are being removed from children’s dictionaries. Last week, for instance, The Times reported on a study that revealed how “the African elephant population is in drastic decline, having shrunk about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014. … The deterioration is accelerating: Largely because of poaching, the population is dropping 8 percent a year, according to the Great Elephant Census. … Patricia Awori, an official with the African Elephant Coalition, said, ‘These numbers are shocking.’”

O.K., so you don’t care that your kids may never see an elephant in the wild, only in a zoo. That’s not all. The species extinction rate is now about “1,000 times faster than before the global spread of humanity,” explained the great biodiversity expert E. O. Wilson, another speaker here. “Half of the species described today will be gone by the end of the century, unless we take drastic action.”

These species, he noted, evolved over 3.5 billion years “to create an exquisite and careful balance of interconnected resilience.” These plants and animals and their ecosystems sustain the foundations of life on which we depend. When we lose the trees that maintain watersheds, the coastal mangroves that protect against storm surges, the glaciers that store fresh water and the coral reefs that feed fish, we humans become less resilient. Indeed, strip them all away, said Wilson, “and the world as we know it will unravel.”

The magazine Discover just noted that we’ve been tracking average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces since 1880 — or for 1,639 months. Due to global warming, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that July 2016 was the hottest “of all 1,639 months on record.”

That is why the actress Alison Sudol, an I.U.C.N. good-will ambassador, opened the plenary by observing that our planet is now “under attack” — by us.

“Our vast oceans, full of mysteries and wonders, are thick with plastic and mercury,” she noted. “Rain forests — abundant sources of oxygen and medicine; land of ancient lore and tradition; home to thousands of species of wildlife, many as yet unknown to us — are being plowed down before we have a chance to properly discover what it is we are losing.

“These are lungs of the earth, the oceans and the forests, and we are destroying them. Deeply, desperately, we are hoping someone will do something before it is too late. That someone we are hoping for is you.”

So do we have a plan? Wilson has one — a big, audacious plan. It’s the title of his latest book, “Half-Earth,” a call to action to commit half of the planet’s surface — land and oceans — to protected zones.

Right now, the I.U.C.N. says, close to 15 percent of the earth’s land and 10 percent of its territorial waters are covered by national parks and protected areas. If we protect half the global surface, Wilson argues, the fraction of species protected will be about 85 percent, which would keep life on earth, including the human species, in a safe zone.

Naïve, you say? Not so. Naïve is thinking we humans will survive without the healthy natural systems that got us here. Naïveté is the new realism — or else we, the human species, will become just another bad biological experiment.

Now here’s Mr. Bruni:

At a special presidential forum on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will appear back-to-back, take questions from military veterans and talk about how our country treats them.

Wick Sloane’s complaint probably won’t come up, but I wish it would.

Sloane teaches at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, and eight years ago, after discovering veterans among his students, he reached out to officials at his own alma maters, Williams College and Yale University, for any guidance they might have about working with this particular group.

“They were bewildered,” he told me, because they’d had so little contact with veterans.

He began collecting data, and for several years now, on Veterans Day, he has published an accounting of how many veterans, among a population of more than two million eligible for federal higher-education benefits, wind up at America’s most elite colleges. It appears on the website Inside Higher Ed, and this is from the first paragraph of his November 2015 tally: “Yale, four; Harvard, unknown; Princeton, one; Williams, one.” Harvard didn’t grant his request for information, he said.

The tally noted just two veterans among undergraduates at Duke, one at M.I.T., one at Pomona and zero at Carleton.

“These schools all wring their hands and say, ‘We’d love to have more, but they just don’t apply,’ ” Sloane said. “That’s what offends me. These schools have incredibly sophisticated recruitment teams. They recruit quarterbacks. They fill the physics lab. They visit high schools. How many visits did they make for veterans?”

The schools in question educate only a small percentage of this country’s college students, and their behavior isn’t the most pressing concern for college-minded veterans, who have graduation rates slightly below other students’ and who don’t get adequate guidance about how best to use their government benefits, too much of which go to for-profit institutions with poor records.

But it’s symbolic. It sends a message: about how much we prize veterans; about the potential we see in them.

And not-for-profit private colleges like the ones I mentioned should feel a powerful obligation. They’re exempt from all sorts of taxes. Donations to them are tax-deductible. So they’re getting enormous help from the country.

Do they, in turn, go out of their way to embrace the young men and women — veterans — who have helped the country the most?

Some, yes. Vassar, Wesleyan and Dartmouth are all part of the Posse Veterans Program, which commits them, each year, to admitting 10 veterans who have been identified by the Posse Foundation as people of exemplary character and sufficient academic promise. Vassar was the first on board, four years ago, while Dartmouth just joined.

Deborah Bial, the founder and president of Posse, told me that the program is already developed enough to provide 10 qualified veterans annually to another three colleges, and that elite institutions know about it.

So why haven’t more signed up?

“That’s a great question,” she said.

Some schools have turned to other organizations that, like Posse, try to point veterans to elite colleges. Yale recently entered into such a partnership with the group Service to School; a Yale official told me that the count of veterans among undergraduates has risen to 11 as of this new academic year. He said that it was six last year, out of nearly 5,500 undergraduates, and that Yale had given Sloane the wrong number.

There is also positive change — if not nearly enough — elsewhere. Williams and Pomona each added two veterans this year, bringing their totals to three. M.I.T. is up to four.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” said Beth Morgan, the executive director of Service to School.

And there are elite schools that have been laudably ahead of the curve, including Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Brown, Stanford and U.S.C.

But there are huge discrepancies: The three veterans at Williams — out of about 2,000 students — compares with 33 at Vassar, out of about 2,400.

And there’s evasiveness. A Harvard official said that she’d prefer to give me a combined count of veterans at Harvard College and the Harvard Extension School, a much different entity. I asked for separate numbers, which she then said she couldn’t provide by my deadline.

These institutions pride themselves on trying to reflect America’s diversity, broadening students’ horizons, filling in their blind spots and preparing tomorrow’s leaders, whose decisions could well include matters of war.

For those reasons and more, the schools should be integrating veterans to an extent that some have only just begun to and many still don’t.

Sloane, whose community college has more than 400 veterans out of some 14,000 students, suggested that elite schools commit to at least “as many veterans as freshman football players.” Great idea. I invite Clinton and Trump to echo his call.

Friedman and Bruni

August 31, 2016

In “Win, Lose, But No Compromise” The Moustache of Wisdom says our politics increasingly resembles the sectarian conflict between Shiites and Sunnis.  Mr. Bruni thinks he knows about “Donald Trump’s Irredeemable Twin” and says Anthony Weiner is the Republican nominee’s partner in compulsion.  It’s another stellar example of comparing apples and oranges, with an overlay of “both sides do it-ism.”  Here’s TMOW:

Anyone who says it doesn’t matter whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins this election needs their head examined. The damage that Trump could do to our nation with his blend of intellectual laziness, towering policy ignorance and reckless impulsiveness is in a league of its own. Hillary has some real personal ethics issues she needs to confront, but she’s got the chops to be president.

What interests me most right now, though, is a different question. It’s not, “Who are they — our politicians?” It’s, “Who are we — the voters?”

To be specific: Are we all just Shiites and Sunnis now?

More and more of our politics resembles the core sectarian conflict in the Middle East between these two branches of Islam, and that is not good. Because whether you’re talking about Shiites and Sunnis — or Iranians and Saudis, Israelis and Palestinians, Turks and Kurds — a simple binary rule dominates their politics: “I am strong, why should I compromise? I am weak, how can I compromise?”

With rare exceptions, the politics of the Middle East is just a seesaw game between those two modes of zero-sum, rule-or-die thinking. Rarely, these days, does either party stop to seek or forge common ground. It’s just: I am strong, so I don’t have to meet you in the middle, or I am weak, so I can’t meet you in the middle. You can see how well it’s worked for them.

Politico last week reported that while some G.O.P. officials may vote for Hillary, they are already sketching plans “to stymie a President Hillary Clinton agenda.” Liberals are already warning Clinton not to bring Republicans into her cabinet or explore meeting them halfway. Have a nice day.

That kind of sectarian/tribal thinking, now reinforced by left-right social media enforcers, gerrymandering and giant campaign funders, gives you the sorry spectacle of House Speaker Paul Ryan saying, without embarrassment, that Trump’s pronouncements are a “textbook” example of racism, but he’s supporting Trump anyway.

And it gives you the sorry spectacle of Clinton surrogates turning themselves into pretzels to defend her, even though it’s obvious that she embraced a pattern of major donors to the Clinton Foundation being given preferential access to her as secretary of state.

Shiites stick with Shiites. Sunnis stick with Sunnis. It’s rule or die, baby. Nothing else matters.

That is not always true in other walks of life. We just got that lesson at the Olympics. American runner Abbey D’Agostino clipped New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin from behind in the women’s 5000-meter qualifying heat, sending both tumbling to the ground well short of the finish.

The Associated Press reported: “D’Agostino got up, but Hamblin was just lying there. She appeared to be crying. Instead of running in pursuit of the others, D’Agostino crouched down and put her hand on the New Zealander’s shoulder, then under her arms to help her up, and softly urged her not to quit.” They embraced at the finish.

Contrast that with the Egyptian Olympic judoka who, under pressure from his society, refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent. And how’s Egypt doing these days? Drifting aimlessly.

Yes, I know, politics ain’t bean bag. It’s about winning. But it’s also about winning with a mandate to govern. And right now, everything suggests that the next four years will be just like the last eight: a gridlocked, toxic, Sunni-Shiite, Democrat-Republican civil war, with little search for common ground. That’s how you ruin, not run, a great country.

How will we improve Obamacare? How will we invest in infrastructure? How will we recreate the compromise on immigration that a few brave Republican and Democratic legislators tried in 2013? How will we get corporate tax reform, a carbon tax and some fiscal policy that we so desperately need to propel the economy and control the deficit?

There is no doubt that Republicans during the Obama presidency pioneered and perfected this scorched-earth politics and have now paid a price for it. They let themselves be led around by a group of no-compromise talk-radio gasbags, think-tank ideologues in the pay of one industry or another, Fox News know-nothings and an alt-right fringe, who, together, so poisoned the G.O.P. garden that an invasive species, Donald Trump, just took it over.

That is all the more reason for Clinton to reach out, at the right time, and see if any of them have learned their lesson. There is no way she’ll get anything big done otherwise. We have to break this fever.

It will be a tragedy if center-right Republicans conclude that their only problem is Donald Trump, and that once he’s gone the G.O.P. will be theirs again. Their party is over. They either have to become conservative Democrats or redefine a responsible center-right G.O.P. — with a different base. But it will be equally sad if Clinton wastes the opportunity of a potentially substantial victory, achieved with some Republican votes, to rebuild the political center in this country.

As Americans, we were once summoned by our politics to be participants in a race to the moon. Lately we’ve been summoned by our politics to be spectators in a race to the bottom. We can do better, and we must.

Tommy, you are SUCH a schmuck.  You think the Republican’s scorched earth policy was something with Obama?  Just WAIT until Hillary is President.  Not only is she a Democrat, but she lacks a penis.  And you think she should “reach out.”  Right.  And have her hand cut off.  Here’s Bruni:

It’s rich, as the English would say, that Donald Trump is trying to profit from Anthony Weiner’s latest mortification, because Trump is to his persevering supporters what Weiner was to his long-suffering wife: a scoundrel undeserving of so many second chances; a head case incapable of the redemption that’s supposedly just a few extra measures of discipline away; someone selling himself as a servant of the public although he’s really a slave to his own raging ego and unquenchable needs.

When Trump looks in the mirror, there’s a whole lot of Weiner staring back at him.

The details are tawdrier in Weiner’s case, and the stakes far smaller. But both men are creatures of potent want and pure compulsion who lucked into forgiving audiences. Weiner’s finally stopped forgiving: Huma Abedin announced that she was formally separating from him after six years of marriage.

Trump still has legions by his side. But for how long?

On the home page of The Times’s website on Monday, coincident withthe news story about Weiner’s latest sexting and Abedin’s break with him, was a chart documenting when and why 110 G.O.P. leaders gave up on Trump.

The left side of the chart presented a timeline of his apostasies and indecencies, and it alone was transfixing: a reminder that any other candidate at any other time would have been undone by just one or two of these outrages; an illustration of the way they keep coming, no matter how ardently his inner circle pleads with him for calm, no matter how furiously the outside world reacts. He can’t help himself.

The right side of the chart presented another timeline, this one showing the points at which each of the 110 Republicans bolted. The surprise was how delayed their departures were. Hope is a stubborn thing.

And at some point, it’s too rosy a word for what’s really going on, which is denial, delusion.

There’s also brutal calculation: Does Trump’s function as a barrier against a Democratic president — against Hillary Clinton, in particular — outweigh his cruelty, his incivility, his bigotry, his utter fraudulence? Too many Republicans have convinced themselves of that, in part by minimizing those vices, seeing them as ephemeral, or simply averting their gazes.

Some of these Republicans are living in the same fairy tale that some spouses are. They’re telling themselves the same lie: that fidelity matters more than dignity and common sense. But if a crucial part of wisdom is knowing when to invest, an equally crucial part is knowing when to let go.

The Weiner-Abedin marriage had apparently devolved, even before the latest revelation of fresh sexting, into a blunt child care arrangement, with Mr. Weiner’s attentions to their 4-year-old son making her heavy travel schedule with Clinton possible.

That’s an implication from recent comments that she made to Voguemagazine. It’s the clear takeaway from a Monday-night story in The New York Post, which quotes him telling his sexting partner that he doubted he’d be relocating with his wife to Washington from New York if Clinton were elected president and Abedin made the move.

And it undercuts Trump’s complaint that national security might have been endangered by the “close proximity to highly classified information” that a “very sick guy” like Weiner had through conversations with Abedin. There probably wasn’t much pillow talk there.

If Trump wants to make Abedin an issue, he’s on fairer, sturdier ground with the extra pay from outside sources that Clinton arranged for her when they worked together at the State Department.

He’s on dangerous turf when he goes after Weiner as a “sicko” and a “pervert.” He’s no paragon of rectitude, no pillar of restraint.

This is someone who once joked to Howard Stern — on the air — that his own Vietnam was the danger he courted as a libidinous man in an era of sexually transmitted diseases. This is someone who publicly drooled over his daughter Ivanka, saying that he might date her if he hadn’t sired her.

Weiner sent strangers pictures of his bulge. Trump assured the viewers of a nationally televised debate that he was amply endowed.

These impulses — these boasts — aren’t unrelated.

A scene in the documentary “Weiner,” about his ill-fated run for New York City mayor, depicts him at a computer, raptly watching and reliving one of his appearances on MSNBC. Trump is famous for marinating in all of the television time devoted to him. He tallies it. He crows about it. He’s Weiner with extra traction, Weiner with added gilt.

It forces an important question: Have we constructed a politics with such bright, invasive lights that those who find it more attractive than repulsive include an unhealthy number of insecure exhibitionists out for affirmation above all else?

Friedman and Bruni

August 3, 2016

The Moustache of Wisdom has decided to tell us all about “How Clinton Could Knock Trump Out.”  He tells us that she could win over Republicans who now feel orphaned if she had the right pro-growth economic policies.  That last phrase is the kicker.  I don’t usually add a reply to his stuff, but this one is worthy of it.  We’ll let “Matthew Carnicelli” from Brooklyn take him on.  Mr. Bruni says people should “Stop Indulging Trump,” and that for the G.O.P., the moment of reckoning with the billionaire’s unfitness for office is here.  Here’s TMOW:

Maybe I just missed it. But in all the testimonials at the Democratic convention about what Hillary Clinton has done for other people, I don’t recall anyone saying, “I started a business because of Hillary Clinton.” Or, “I hired someone because of Hillary Clinton.”

We heard from first responders, veterans, grieving parents and victims of terrorism, rape and various forms of discrimination. There was just one group that was conspicuously absent: the people who drive our economy by inventing things or by borrowing money to start companies that actually employ people.

Watching the convention, you would never know that what also makes America great is that generation after generation, people full of ideas risk their savings to start companies that provide work and paychecks. And only by generating more of these risk-takers will more people get hired for the good jobs Clinton promised.

The only things that were remotely growth-related in her speech were glancing references to a government-led infrastructure investment program (Go for it!) and her vow “to give small businesses a boost. Make it easier to get credit.”

To do that, though, would run smack into the anti-bank sentiment of the Democratic Party, since small community banks provide about half the loans to small businesses, and it is precisely those banks that have been most choked by the post-2008 regulations. We need to prevent recklessness, not risk-taking.

I raise this for two reasons. The first: Donald Trump may not stay stupid forever (although he might!), and therefore Hillary will have to beat him on the central economic issue of growth. Trump spent the past few days trashing the parents of a heroic Muslim American soldier who lost his life in Iraq. The parents had — rightly — criticized Trump. But in his return fire, Trump shot himself in both feet, losing support in his own party.

Trump defended his Twitter tantrum against the soldier’s parents with a sixth-grader’s playground defense: “He called me a name.” He forgot that his own convention engaged in a mad chant of “lock her up” about Clinton, but she ignored it and stayed on her message. That’s what adults do.

Mind you, I hope Trump remains in his total whack-job mode, because it distracted attention from the latest economic news — that was perfectly set up for Trump to take political advantage of — that the economy grew an anemic 1.2 percent in the second quarter, and growth in the first quarter was revised downward. That economic news was teed up for Trump, the self-styled job-creator, and he shanked it deep into the woods, for it never to be heard from again.

Trump has gone amazingly far without having done an ounce of homework in preparation for the presidency, relying instead on feeding tweets to an anxious G.O.P. base. His candidacy should be over by now. But it isn’t.

It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust Clinton and are so worried about the future — jobs, globalization and terrorism — that a bare majority could still fall for this self-infatuated carnival barker if he exhibited half a political brain.

And that leads to my second reason for pushing Clinton to inject some capitalism into her economic plan: The coalition she could lead. If there is one thing that is not going to revive growth right now, it is an anti-trade, regulatory heavy, socialist-lite agenda the Democratic Party has drifted to under the sway of Bernie Sanders. Socialism is the greatest system ever invented for making people equally poor. Capitalism makes people unequally rich, but I would much rather grow our pie bigger and faster and better adjust the slices than redivide a shrinking one.

There are a lot of center-right, business Republicans today feeling orphaned by Trump. They can’t vote for him — but a lot of them still claim they can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, either. Clinton should be reaching out to them with a real pro-growth, start-up, deregulation, entrepreneurship agenda and give them a positive reason to vote for her.

It makes sense politically: Take Trump on at his self-proclaimed strength. And it makes sense economically: If Clinton wins, she will need to get stuff done, not just give stuff away.

I get that she had to lean toward Sanders and his voters to win the nomination; their concerns with fairness and inequality are honorable. But those concerns can be addressed only with economic growth; the rising anti-immigration sentiments in the country can be defused only with economic growth; the general anxiety feeding Trumpism can be eased only with economic growth.

Sanders had no plan whatsoever for growth. Trump doesn’t, either, but he can fake it. It’s time that Hillary pivoted. The country today doesn’t need the first female president. It needs the first president in a long time who can govern with a center-left, center-right coalition, and actually end the gridlock on fiscal policy in a smart way.

If Trump continues to melt down into a puddle of bile, more and more Republicans will be up for grabs. With the right pro-growth economic policies, Clinton would have an opening to not only enlist them to help her win, but to build a governing coalition for the morning after.

Now here’s what “Matthew Carnicelli” had to say about that:

“Tom, I believe that I need to explain the facts of political life to you. I shouldn’t have to do this, but some of us are evidently too comfortable living in glass houses.

Regulations are nothing but an extension of the bedrock constitutional principle of checks and balances, extended to the corporate and personal sphere. We have regulations because men are not angels, have been total screw ups in the recent past, and are not likely to become angels any time soon.

You are a perfect illustration of how purveyors of elite opinion can be a total screw up, and yet never be held accountable for their role in setting in motion train wrecks that will likely haunt us for decades.

Now, if you have a specific point about excessive regulation of community banks that you wish to make, then you should make that – instead of indulging in your unbecoming sneer.

Tom, the reality is that ours is consequence-free society. No one is held responsible for their bad ideas – as you weren’t in the aftermath of the Iraq debacle, or your role as an apologist for a top-down style of globalism.

The reality is that the moment you begin sneering at regulations is the moment that you give license to the climate change deniers and those individuals who refuse to learn from history precisely because doing so might negatively impact their bottom line, even if it would bring us a safer, more harmonious planet.

Tom, the only feasible alternative to a capitalism run amok is a regulated one.”

Now here’s Mr. Bruni:

This column has been updated to reflect news developments.

John McCain, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rest of you: It’s time to stop suggesting that Donald Trump doesn’t represent you, because he does represent you. He’s your party’s nominee, with your endorsements. Until you withdraw those, he has your blessing. Your permission.

And if you keep forgiving him and prioritizing your political survival over the country’s stability, he could wind up representing all of us.

Tell me that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you. Do it with a straight face.

Senator McCain, Representative Ryan, he’s just given you fresh cause to bolt, saying in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post that he doesn’t support either of you in your respective Republican primary contests.

From the standpoint of tradition, this is shocking. From the standpoint of Trump, not so much. You’ve upbraided him (mildly). You’ve bruised his tender ego. So now he gets to stick out his tongue at you.

It has to make you wonder why you twisted and turned and tried to justify your support of him in the face of his petulant, gratuitous attack on the Muslim parents of a soldier who died fighting for America. Or why so many G.O.P. leaders twisted and turned after his petulant, gratuitous attack on a Mexican-American judge. Or why you all should stick around to twist and turn the next time.

Trump isn’t slouching toward gravitas. He’s having a tantrum, and to threaten him with timeouts that never come only encourages it. Spare the rod, spoil the Donald.

This isn’t a normal presidential election, he isn’t a normal political candidate, and you know it. We all do. And it’s well past time to reckon fully with that.

Not just you but all of us keep according larger historical sense to his candidacy and trying to fit it into pre-existing frames, but I fear that when we do that, we minimize the outright outrage and singular farce of it.

We throw around terms like demagogue and fascist, but I’m not sure he’s coherent, consistent or weighty enough for either.

We label him anti-establishment, and that’s a howler. He grew up affluent. Went to an Ivy League college. Sent his kids to posh boarding schools. Mingled with Bill and Hillary Clinton at his (third) wedding. He is the power elite, albeit an ostentatiously gold-tufted version of it.

In presidential races past, we’ve seen protectionists, nativists, even racists. What we haven’t seen, not in my lifetime, is a major-party nominee who is such an unabashed and unrepentant fabulist, with so little control over his temper and a worldview shaped entirely by what and who flatter him.

Never has a nominee pouted with his grandeur. Never has one bragged with his abandon.

He’s best described not in political terms but in developmental ones. He’s a toddler. I’d say “infant” but infants are pre-verbal, and he has afew words, most of them monosyllabic.

Only a toddler could be so self-justifying and tone-deaf that he’d compare the sacrifice of Humayun Khan — the soldier I mentioned who was killed in Iraq — to his own professional work of erecting tall buildings and simultaneously enriching himself.

Only a toddler would respond to Michael Bloomberg’s digs at him bysaying that when they golfed together, “I hit the ball a lot longer.” Yes, Donald, everything about you is longer. We haven’t forgotten that G.O.P. presidential debate.

Over the last few days, the word “decency” has popped up a lot, and it’s on target.

“There’s just no sense of decency from this man,” Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist who worked for Ted Cruz, told Politico.

“He has no decency,” Khizr Khan, the fallen soldier’s father, told ABC News.

Trump isn’t just uninformed, as his recent comments on Ukraine reaffirmed. He’s a repository of almost every character trait that we reprimand children for.

And the examples of his indecency get lost in the sheer volume of them. Any one might end another candidate’s quest. But they’re the white noise of his bid. He’s redeemed by his own repulsiveness.

I appreciate that for many conservatives, a Supreme Court shaped by Hillary Clinton would be an abomination. But can they really elevate that concern above national security and entrust the country to a tyrant-loving, Putin-flirting, NATO-dissing novice?

I understand that renouncing him means abetting her, which hurts, given her considerable flaws and their genuine qualms.

But there are bigger things at stake. That’s why so many loyal Republicans have already fled, to regroup over the next four years.

I get it: If McCain and other congressional Republicans turn off Trump’s supporters, they might get turned out themselves.

But as the Post interview made clear, Trump is already giving those supporters license to do as they wish. Besides which, isn’t there a point at which principle must kick in? Aren’t there bounds to partisanship and personal interest? I ask that not in favor of Clinton or the Democrats but out of concern — no, alarm — for America, which needs a grown-up who honors our values, not a brat who shreds them.

Friedman, solo

July 27, 2016

In “Web People vs. Wall People” The Moustache of Wisdom says voters have a choice of candidates who embrace change and those who try to stop it.  Here he is:

Yes, we’re having a national election right now. Yes, there are two parties running. But no, they are not the two parties that you think. It’s not “Democrats” versus “Republicans.” This election is really between “Wall People” and “Web People.”

The primary focus of Wall People is finding a president who will turn off the fan — the violent winds of change that are now buffeting every family — in their workplace, where machines are threatening white-collar and blue-collar jobs; in their neighborhoods, where so many more immigrants of different religions, races and cultures are moving in; and globally, where super-empowered angry people are now killing innocents with disturbing regularity. They want a wall to stop it all.

Wall People’s desire to stop change may be unrealistic, but, in fairness, it’s not just about race and class. It is also about a yearning for community — about “home” in the deepest sense — a feeling that the things that anchor us in the world and provide meaning are being swept away, and so they are looking for someone to stop that erosion.

Wall People have two candidates catering to them: Donald Trump, who boasts that he is “The Man” who can stop the winds with a wall, and Bernie Sanders, who promises to stop the winds by ending our big global trade deals and by taking down “The Man” — the millionaires, billionaires and big banks. I don’t see how the country could afford either man’s plans, but they have a simple gut appeal, and there is overlap between them.

Web People instinctively understand that Democrats and Republicans both built their platforms largely in response to the Industrial Revolution, the New Deal and the Cold War, but that today, a 21st-century party needs to build its platform in response to the accelerations in technology, globalization and climate change, which are the forces transforming the workplace, geopolitics and the very planet.

As such, the instinct of Web People is to embrace the change in the pace of change and focus on empowering more people to be able to compete and collaborate in a world without walls. In particular, Web People understand that in times of rapid change, open systems are always more flexible, resilient and propulsive; they offer the chance to feel and respond first to change. So Web People favor more trade expansion, along the lines of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and more managed immigration that attracts the most energetic and smartest minds, and more vehicles for lifelong learning.

Web People also understand that while we want to prevent another bout of recklessness on Wall Street, we don’t want to choke off risk-taking, which is the engine of growth and entrepreneurship.

Because the G.O.P. was out of the White House for the last eight years, the party’s base and leadership are the least understanding of the world in which we’re living. That is why the G.O.P. fractured first and why some Republican Web People, particularly from the business world, are either sitting this election out or voting for Hillary Clinton.

Having been secretary of state, Clinton has been touching the world. She knows America has to build its future on a Web People’s platform, which was first articulated by Bill Clinton, and, to this day, is best articulated by him. But Hillary has not always shown the courage of her own, or her husband’s, convictions.

So, rather than take on Wall People in her party — and saying to Sanders, “Socialism was the wrong answer for the industrial age, so it sure isn’t the right answer for the information age” — she is tacking toward Wall People. She is opposing things she helped to negotiate, like the Pacific trade deal, and offering more benefits from government but refraining from telling people the hardest truth: that to be in the middle class, just working hard and playing by the rules doesn’t cut it anymore. To have a lifelong job, you need to be a lifelong learner, constantly raising your game.

To her credit, though, she chose a great running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, a Web Person with a soul.

My hope is that, for the good of the country, Republican Web People will, over time, join the Democratic Party and tilt it into a compassionate, center-left Web party for the 21st century. That would be a party that is sensitive to the needs of working people, appreciative of the anchoring power of healthy communities, but committed to capitalism, free markets and open trade as the vital engines of growth for a modern society and to providing every American with the learning tools to realize their potential.

I don’t see any chance of the G.O.P. becoming a center-right party again soon. The Tea Party, Trump and Fox News have made its base too angry and disconnected from reality.

So everything rides on the coalition that Clinton assembles. If America is to thrive in the 21st century, we desperately need a coalition that can govern smartly in this era of rapid change. Clinton has a chance to break not only the glass ceiling for women, but also the rigid walls that have divided our two parties. If she can pull that off, it will make being the first woman president the second most important thing she does.

Friedman and Bruni

July 20, 2016

In “Trump and the Sultan” The Moustache of Wisdom says American voters should learn from Turkey’s experience with an out-of-control leader.  Mr. Bruni points out the blindingly obvious in “Ted Loves Trump.”  He says well, not exactly. But Cruz’s appearance at the G.O.P. convention shows how self-interest routinely muscles principle aside.  Cruz’s ONLY principle is self-interest, Frank.  Here’s TMOW:

Turkey is a long way from Cleveland, where the Republicans are holding their presidential convention. But I’d urge you to study the recent failed military coup against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. America is not Turkey — but in terms of personality and political strategy, Erdogan and Donald Trump were separated at birth.

And the drama playing out in Turkey today is the story of just how off track a once successful country can get when a leader who demonizes all his rivals and dabbles in crazy conspiracy theories comes to believe that he alone is The Man — the only one who can make his country great again — and ensconces himself in power.

Let’s start with Erdogan, who was prime minister from 2003 to 2014, but then maneuvered himself into the previously symbolic role of president and got all key powers shifted to that position. I confess that when I first heard the news of the July 15 coup attempt, my first instinct was to consult that great foreign policy expert Miss Manners, The Washington Post’s etiquette columnist, because I was asking myself, “What is the right response when bad things happen to bad people?”

“Dear Miss Manners: I instinctively oppose military coups against democratically elected governments, like the one in Turkey. But am I a bad person if part of me felt that Turkey’s president had it coming?”

Anyone who has been following Turkey closely knows that Erdogan has been mounting a silent, drip-by-drip coup of his own against Turkish democracy for years — jailing reporters, hounding rivals with giant tax bills, reviving an internal war against Turkish Kurds to stoke nationalist passions to propel his efforts to grab more powers — and by generally making himself into a modern-day sultan for life.

I’m glad the coup failed, especially the way it did — with many secular Turks who actually opposed Erdogan’s autocratic rule, and had been abused by it, nevertheless coming out against the plotters on the principle that Turkish democracy must be upheld. That was a truly impressive act of collective wisdom and a display of democratic sensibilities.

The maturity of the Turkish people resulted in Erdogan’s getting what golfers call a mulligan, or a do-over, to demonstrate that he is committed to the universal precepts of democracy. Will he? Or will Erdogan go right back to his preferred means of staying in power: dividing Turks into his supporters and enemies of the state, weaving conspiracy theories and using the failed coup as a license for a witch hunt, not only for plotters but for anyone who has dared to cross his path?

The early signs are bad. A day after the failed coup, Erdogan dismissed 2,745 judges and prosecutors. How did he know exactly who to fire in one day? Did he already have an enemies list? To date, he has now reportedly purged 1,500 university deans, revoked the licenses of 21,000 teachers and either purged or detained nearly 35,000 members of the military, security forces and judiciary as part of his “cleansing” of coup supporters.

Here’s the real tragedy: Erdogan was an outstanding leader his first five years and truly lifted the country’s economy and middle class. But since then it’s all gone to his head, and he has gotten away with increasingly bad behavior by creating an us-versus-them divide between his loyal, more religious followers, and the more secular communities in Turkey.

Because his followers see their dignity wrapped up in his remaining in power, he can say and do anything and never pay a political price. His base will always rally to his us-versus-them dog whistles. But Turkey in the long run suffers.

Sound familiar?

Trump relies on the same tactics: He fabricates facts and figures on an industrial scale. He regularly puts out conspiracy theories — his latest is that President Obama’s “body language” suggests that “there’s something going on” with the president — hinting that Obama is not comfortable condemning the killing of cops by African-American gunmen and has sympathy for radical Islamists.

Trump also relies on the us-versus-them bond with his followers to avoid punishment for any of his misbehavior. He, too, is obsessed with his own prowess, and he uses Twitter to get around traditional media gatekeepers — and fact-checkers — to inject anything he wants into the nation’s media bloodstream. (Erodgan just uses his own friendly media.) And most of the people Trump has surrounded himself with are either family or second-raters looking for a star turn, including his vice-presidential choice and the person who wrote his wife’s convention speech and clearly plagiarized part of it from Michelle Obama. The whole thing reeks of flimflam.

If Trump is elected, I don’t think there will be a military coup, but I guarantee you that Jeb Bush’s prediction will be proved true, that he’ll be “a chaos president” just as he’s been a “chaos candidate.” Americans will regularly be in the streets, because they are not going to follow — on any big issue — a man who lies as he breathes, who has not done an ounce of homework to prepare for the job and who generates support by conspiracy theories and making people afraid of the future and one another.

If you like what’s going on in Turkey today, you’ll love Trump’s America.

Now here’s Mr. Bruni:

One of the last times you saw Ted Cruz, flames were shooting from his head and spittle was flying from his mouth — metaphorically, at least — as he branded Donald Trump “a pathological liar,” “a serial philanderer,” “utterly amoral” and a “narcissist” on a level this country had seldom seen. It was the day of Indiana’s Republican primary, Trump had just insinuated a connection between Cruz’s father and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Cruz announced that he must at long last tell the world “what I really think” of Trump.

But when you see the Texas senator on the convention stage here on Wednesday night, that contempt and candor will be absent. He may not exactly praise Trump, but he’ll almost certainly swallow whatever misgivings he still feels, and his presence alone will be taken by some viewers as a gesture of implicit, tentative support.

It will also be an example of what he always says he can’t stand about other politicians and what voters loathe as well: the elasticity of their convictions, the urgency of their self-interest and the alacrity with which they take an eraser to their past words.

There’s a lot of erasing going on these days, and Trump is a big reason. For many Republicans, rallying round him means conveniently forgetting how much they disagreed with or even detested him before, a breach much wider than the one that typically exists between opponents within a political party.

Mike Pence had to do a memory purge so complete it may well constitute a lobotomy. Once upon a time he deemed Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States “offensive and unconstitutional,” but Trump’s slight tweak to that — a focus on immigrants from Muslim-heavy countries that seem to be fertile for terrorists — is something Pence now praises. People say the vice presidency is a miserable job, but what misery politicians go through in pursuit of it.

Pence is also among the large crowd of lawmakers whom Trump savages for having supported the invasion of Iraq. He’s an advocate of the trade deals that Trump mocks. And in that Indiana primary? Pence endorsed Cruz. But now he’s all aboard and all about the good ship Trump, because it has the plusher staterooms and is sailing toward the snazzier port.

I shouldn’t beat up on Pence. Whatever reservations he expressed about Trump were mild next to those mentioned by Rick Perry, who called Trump “a barking carnival act” and “a cancer” before endorsing him and showing up in support of him here.

And it’s not just Trump who brings out the squish in politicians. Their spines jellify in all sorts of situations.

Remember Marco Rubio’s insistence that he’d be leaving the Senate after 2016? In May he gave his latest guarantee, tweeting: “I have only said like 10,000 times I will be a private citizen in January.” Rubio wasn’t just resolute; he was flabbergasted that anyone could doubt his resoluteness. As it turns out, though, a vow doesn’t become an ironclad guarantee until it’s made 20,000 times. In June, he announced his candidacy for re-election.

Pranksters write in disappearing ink; politicians speak in it. And that certainly includes Democrats — Evan Bayh, for one. When he left the Senate six years ago, he did so in an indignant, operatically aggrieved fashion, describing it as hopelessly partisan and corrupted by money and outside influences. He then joined the outside influencers, going to work for a lobbying and law firm. But he apparently missed all that partisanship and corruption, because now he wants back in. The negative ads write themselves.

Cruz isn’t up for re-election to the Senate until 2018, but what’s on his mind is 2020. He clearly began plotting his comeback the moment he exited the Republican primaries. His convention speech will be a part of it and warrants careful study as a road map to where he thinks the post-Trump G.O.P. is headed.

He has even repaired his pride (to the extent that it ever needs repair) and reasserted his dominance by coming up with a conspiracy theory for how the Republican nomination was actually stolen from him — by the news media! As he explained to Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “I think many of the mainstream media players are liberal Democrats. They intend to vote for Hillary. They believed Donald was the easiest candidate for Hillary to beat. And I think many of them wanted him to win the nomination. I don’t think it was innocent decision making behind this.”

I take back what I wrote earlier about his fickleness. He is 100 percent constant — in his adoration and exaltation of Ted Cruz.

Friedman and Bruni

June 29, 2016

In “You Break It, You Own It” The Moustache of Wisdom says that the British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there.  Hmmm…  If only Tommy had thought about “you break it, you own it” before he was banging his wee tin drum celebrating the fustercluck in Iraq…  Mr. Bruni takes a look at “A Bachelor Named Britain, Looking for Love” and says the U.K. is due for some serious matchmaking. Albania, anyone?  Here’s TMOW:

The British vote by a narrow majority to leave the European Union is not the end of the world — but it does show us how we can get there.

A major European power, a longtime defender of liberal democracy, pluralism and free markets, falls under the sway of a few cynical politicians who see a chance to exploit public fears of immigration to advance their careers. They create a stark binary choice on an incredibly complex issue, of which few people understand the full scope — stay in or quit the E.U.

These politicians assume that the dog will never catch the car and they will have the best of all worlds — opposing something unpopular but not having to deal with the implications of the public actually voting to get rid of it. But they so dumb down the debate with lies, fear-mongering and misdirection, and with only a simple majority required to win, that the leave-the-E.U. crowd carries the day by a small margin. Presto: the dog catches the car. And, of course, it has no idea now what to do with this car. There is no plan. There is just barking.

Like I said, not the end of the world yet, but if a few more E.U. countries try this trick we’ll have quite a little mess on our hands. Attention Donald Trump voters: this is what happens to a country that falls for hucksters who think that life can just imitate Twitter — that there are simple answers to hard questions — and that small men can rearrange big complex systems by just erecting a wall and everything will be peachy.

But I digress.

Because although withdrawing from the E.U. is not the right answer for Britain, the fact that this argument won, albeit with lies, tells you that people are feeling deeply anxious about something. It’s the story of our time: the pace of change in technology, globalization and climate have started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace and political innovations needed for some citizens to keep up.

We have globalized trade and manufacturing, and we have introduced robots and artificial intelligent systems, far faster than we have designed the social safety nets, trade surge protectors and educational advancement options that would allow people caught in this transition to have the time, space and tools to thrive. It’s left a lot of people dizzy and dislocated.

At the same time, we have opened borders deliberately — or experienced the influx of illegal migration from failing states at an unprecedented scale — and this too has left some people feeling culturally unanchored, that they are losing their “home” in the deepest sense of that word. The physical reality of immigration, particularly in Europe, has run ahead of not only the host countries’ ability to integrate people but also of the immigrants’ ability to integrate themselves — and both are necessary for social stability.

And these rapid changes are taking place when our politics has never been more gridlocked and unable to respond with just common sense — like governments borrowing money at near zero interest to invest in much-needed infrastructure that creates jobs and enables us to better exploit these technologies.

“Political power in the West has been failing its own test of legitimacy and accountability since 2008 — and in its desperation has chosen to erode it further by unforgivably abdicating responsibility through the use of a referendum on the E.U.,” said Nader Mousavizadeh, who co-leads the London-based global consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners.

But we need to understand that “the issue before us is ‘integration’ not ‘immigration,’” Mousavizadeh added. The lived experience in most cities in Europe today, is the fact that “a pluralistic, multiethnic society has grown up here, actually rather peacefully, and it has brought enormous benefits and prosperity. We need to change the focus of the problem — and the solution — from the physical reality of immigration to the political and economic challenge of integration.” Schools, hospitals and public institutions generally will not rise to the challenge of the 21st century “if social integration is failing.”

Indeed, in my view, the countries that nurture pluralism the best will be the ones that thrive the most in the 21st century. They will have the most political stability, attract the most talent and be able to collaborate with the most people. But it’s hard work.

Yet in an age when technology is integrating us more tightly together and delivering tremendous flows of innovation, knowledge, connectivity and commerce, the future belongs to those who build webs not walls, who can integrate not separate, to get the most out of these flows. Britain leaving the E.U. is a lose-lose proposition. I hope the “Regrexit” campaign can reverse Brexit and that Americans will dump Trump.

Never forget, after the destruction of World War II, the E.U. project “emerged as a force for peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom in the world,” noted Eric Beinhocker, the executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford. “This is one of humankind’s great achievements. Rather than let it be destroyed we must use the shock of the Brexit vote to reimagine, reform, and rebuild a new Europe.”

Now here’s Mr. Bruni:

It has been forever since Britain was single, and there will be many lonesome and disorienting nights ahead.

Maybe we should fix it up with Switzerland.

Not immediately, of course. The divorce from the European Union was just announced. The paperwork hasn’t been filed. There could be a loss of nerve, a relaxing of conjugal rules, tulips from Holland, chocolates from Belgium. Greece and Portugal could promise to stop leaving dirty dishes in the sink, Germany to quit hogging the remote.

But as things stand now, Britain will soon stand apart, and we all know how that goes: exhilaration, followed by panic, leading to an age-inappropriate Tinder account. Oh, look, here’s Iceland, flashing its most voluptuous volcanoes. Nah, too stony and lugubrious, and you can listen to only so much Björk. Swipe left.

Britain on its own is unfathomable. Think of its relationship history: epic trans-Atlantic romances, audacious trans-Pacific affairs, flings in this jungle, hookups on that dune. It was usually dominant, occasionally submissive but always coupled — if not tripled, quadrupled or quintupled. It had a lust for entanglement if no talent for fidelity.

But it’s not the overlord it once was. Those imperial pheromones are gone. Where a crown once rested, a bald spot spreads. Britain’s going to need primping, prodding, perhaps a prescription.

And introductions. So: Switzerland?

If marrying rich is the goal, marrying Switzerland is the jackpot. And Switzerland won’t do what Britain loathed in its current spouse and encourage poorer, darker people to drop in for fondue.

But it’s so worryingly petite. So wearyingly standoffish, resisting the E.U. even while enveloped and protected by it. And it’s sure to insist on a prenup longer than all of the Harry Potter novels combined. Britain needs freer and easier love than that, especially as its jowls sag and its pound droops.

Maybe that means Albania, Montenegro or Macedonia. They’re the mail-order brides of the continent, dreaming of an “I do” from the E.U. Surely they’d settle for Britain.

But would Britain settle for them? The bloated pride that brought it to this juncture won’t allow for a significant other that’s too other and insignificant, and most outsiders can’t locate Albania on a map. (Go south to the heel of Italy, turn left, cross the Adriatic, hope for the best.) There are better charted, more ego-salving corners of Europe that haven’t bedded down with Brussels and are still on the market.

Like Norway. It and Britain have plenty in common — they’re both wintry, watery, fishy, boozy — but also bring different, complementary assets to the table. In Norway’s case, oil. In Britain’s, Adele. If that’s not a recipe for global domination, what is?

Britain isn’t a bachelor like most. It has been married so many times that it has pretty much run through the available options.

Its predicament reminds me of the movie “What’s Your Number?,” which I saw so that you wouldn’t have to. Anna Faris plays a Bostonian who believes that she has reached her maximum allotment of sexual partners and that her only hope for a husband is to circle back and reconnect with someone she disconnected from previously.

For Britain that could be India. Australia. Much of Africa. Some of the Middle East. Its exes are everywhere, though approaching any of them would require a new humility, as the Britain of yesteryear wasn’t a particularly modest or accommodating suitor. It typically got the better end of the deal, until the E.U. came along and the arrangement wasn’t so lopsided.

America is Britain’s most prominent ex of all: the Elizabeth Taylor to its Richard Burton. Should our onetime colonial master become our 51st state? If we acted quickly enough, Boris Johnson could be tapped as Donald Trump’s running mate, creating a tandem of tresses so perversely dazzling that it alone makes the case. This may have been Johnson’s plan all along.

Britain is no more geographically nonsensical for us than Hawaii or Alaska, though it’s probably too long a cultural stretch. It simply lacks the requisite prevalence of gun ownership.

Which makes it a better fit for Canada. Canada is saner, except about ice hockey. It’s Britain’s obvious match: comparably affluent, sufficiently English-speaking. Together Britain and Canada can laugh at the crudeness of us Americans, a favorite shared pastime and an understandable one.

Britain is suddenly leaderless, while Canada suddenly has a leader, Justin Trudeau, who’s an international heartthrob. He can expand his portfolio to two continents, and has tidy hair. Sorry, Boris.

And the monarchy survives! Canada never ceased its ceremonial fealty to it, and bows before Queen Elizabeth II much as Britain does. It’s a source of puzzlement, but it’s a bridge to Britain, which is going to need the love.

Friedman and Kristof from yesterday

June 22, 2016

In “Another Age of Discovery” The Moustache of Wisdom says disruptions in Copernicus’s day offer lessons today.  Yesterday Mr. Kristof gave us “R.I.P., Jo Cox.  May Britain Remember Your Wisdom.”  Here’s TMOW from today:

Have we been here before? I know — it feels as if the internet, virtual reality, Donald Trump, Facebook, sequencing of the human genome and machines that can reason better than people constitute a change in the pace of change without precedent. But we’ve actually been through an extraordinarily rapid transition like this before in history — a transition we can learn a lot from.

Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, and Chris Kutarna, also of Oxford Martin, have just published a book — “Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance” — about lessons we can draw from the period 1450 to 1550, known as the Age of Discovery. It was when the world made a series of great leaps forward, propelled by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Copernicus and Columbus, that produced the Renaissance and reshaped science, education, manufacturing, communications, politics and geopolitics.

“Gutenberg’s printing press provided the trigger,” Goldin told me by email, “by flipping knowledge production and exchange from tight scarcity to radical abundance. Before that, the Catholic Churches monopolized knowledge, with their handwritten Latin manuscripts locked up in monasteries. The Gutenberg press democratized information, and provided the incentive to be literate. Within 50 years, not only had scribes lost their jobs, but the Catholic Church’s millennia-old monopoly of power had been torn apart as the printing of Martin Luther’s sermons ignited a century of religious wars.”

Meanwhile, Goldin added, Copernicus upended the prevailing God-given notions of heaven and earth “by finding that far from the sun revolving around the earth, the earth rotated around the sun,” and “voyages of discovery by Columbus, da Gama and Magellan tore up millennia-old maps of the ‘known’ world.”

Those were the mother of all disruptions and led to the parallels with today.

“Now, like then, new media have democratized information exchange, amplifying the voices of those who feel they have been injured in the upheaval,” said Goldin. “Now, like then, public leaders and public institutions have failed to keep up with rapid change, and popular trust has been deeply eroded.” Now, like then, “this is the best moment in history to be alive” — human health, literacy, aggregate wealth and education are flourishing — and “there are more scientists alive today than in all previous generations.”

And, yet many people feel worse off.

Because, as in the Renaissance, key anchors in people’s lives — like the workplace and community — are being fundamentally dislocated. The pace of technological change is outstripping the average person’s ability to adapt. Now, like then, said Goldin, “sizable parts of the population found their skills were no longer needed, or they lived in places left behind, so inequality grew.” At the same time, “new planetary scale systems of commerce and information exchange led to immense improvements in choices and accelerating innovations which made some people fabulously rich.”

Was there a Donald Trump back then?

“Michelangelo and Machiavelli’s Florence suffered a shocking popular power-taking when Girolamo Savonarola, a midlevel friar from Ferrara, who lived from 1452 to 1498, exploded from obscurity in the 1490s to enthrall Florentines, who felt left behind economically or culturally, with sermons that laid blame upon the misguided policies and moral corruption of their leaders,” said Goldin. “He and his zealous supporters, though a small minority, swept away the Medici establishment and seized control of the city’s councils.

“From there, Savonarola launched an ugly campaign of public purification, introducing radical laws including against homosexuality, and attacked public intellectuals in an act of intimidation that history still remembers as the Bonfire of the Vanities. Savonarola was amongst the first to tap into the information revolution of the time, and while others produced long sermons and treatises, Savonarola disseminated short pamphlets, in what may be thought of as the equivalent of political tweets.”

The establishment politicians of the day, who were low energy, “underestimated the power of that new information revolution to move beyond scientific and cultural ideas” to amplify populist voices challenging authority.

Yikes! How do we blunt that?

“More risk-taking is required when things change more rapidly, both for workers who have to change jobs and for businesses who have to constantly innovate to stay ahead,” Goldin argued. Government’s job is to strengthen the safety nets and infrastructure so individuals and companies can be as daring — in terms of learning, adapting and investing in themselves — as they need to be. At the same time, when the world gets this tightly woven, America “needs to be more, not less, engaged, with the rest of the world,” because “the threats posed by climate change, pandemics, cyberattacks or terror will not be reduced by America withdrawing.”

Then, as now, walls stopped working. “Cannons and gunpowder came to Europe that could penetrate or go over walls and books could bring ideas around them,” he said. Then, like now, walls only made you poorer, dumber and more insecure.

Now here’s Mr. Kristof from yesterday, writing from Cambridge, England:

As I listen to the stormy debates here in the run-up to Thursday’s Brexit vote on whether Britain should exit the European Union, my thoughts keep drifting to my friend Jo Cox, a member of Parliament assassinated last week.

Jo was a leader who fought for genocide victims in Darfur, for survivors of human trafficking, for women’s health, for Syrian refugees, and, yes, for remaining in the European Union. She was also a proud mom of two small children: When she was pregnant, she used to sign her emails “Jo (and very large bump).”

Jo’s dedication to the voiceless may have cost her life. At least one witness said that the man who stabbed and shot Jo shouted “Britain First!” and when he was asked to say his name at a court hearing he responded, “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

Yet from awful events bittersweet progress can emerge. In three days, a fund in Jo Cox’s memory has raised about £1 million (about $1.5 million) for causes she supported. Likewise, perhaps revulsion at the murder will leave voters wary of the xenophobic tone of some of the Leave campaigners.

I hope so, for helping to save a united Europe would be a fitting legacy for a woman no longer able to influence the world in other ways — and also because the world needs Britain in Europe.

The British joke about their view of Europe, with a famous (and apparently apocryphal) headline once declaring: “Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off.” But it’s also true, as John Donne wrote, “if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less.” And if Britain were washed away, Europe and Britain would both be less.

An International Monetary Fund report this month concluded that a British pullout from the European Union would “permanently lower incomes.” But more important are the political costs to an unraveling.

Among those who first called for a “United States of Europe,” was Sir Winston Churchill, in a 1946 speech, and the impetus for him and for Jean Monnet, “the father of Europe,” was primarily peace and security.

In many ways, that has been disappointing. The European Union has repeatedly failed political tests: It was paralyzed as genocide began in the former Yugoslavia, it adopted a common currency too soon, it mishandled the recent economic crisis, and it has bungled the refugee crisis. And that’s on top of the quotidian expense and wastefulness of a European bureaucracy translating in 24 official languages, including Maltese, Bulgarian, Slovak and Slovenian.

Immigration has also fed an anxiety about loss of control and about erosion of national identity, prompting a backlash not entirely dissimilar from the Donald Trump phenomenon in the United States. Jo Cox herself, in an article she wrote shortly before her death, acknowledged, “It’s fine to be concerned by immigration — many people are.” But her point was that practical concerns about immigration should be addressed with practical solutions, while Brexit would simply create new crises without solving old ones.

One risk is that if Britain leaves, others will follow, leading to a dismemberment of Europe and economic crisis. Donald Tusk, the European Council president, has warned that “Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the E.U. but also of Western political civilization in its entirety.”

That seems a little much. But we’ve seen the chaos in the Arab world since 2011, and the last thing the globe needs is another arc of instability.

One of the few triumphs of international cooperation of recent years was the joint effort by Britain, France and the United States to defeat Ebola in West Africa. That would have been more difficult if Britain and France were feuding and Europe were facing a deeper economic slump.

Likewise, a nightmare scenario is Russia overwhelming Estonia or its Baltic neighbors, testing NATO’s resolve (a test I’m not 100 percent sure NATO would pass or even survive). Such Russian adventurism is probably more likely if Europe is disintegrating.

Even the debate about Brexit has been poisonous in Britain. After Jo’s murder, a far-right group called National Action wrote of her killer: “#VoteLeave, don’t let this man’s sacrifice go in vain. Jo Cox would have filled Yorkshire with more subhumans!”

This is a scary period, compounded by the risk of Europe’s unraveling. It’s time for Britons to remember that immigration and integration have enriched their country as well as challenged it.

Jo Cox never had a chance to respond when her killer reportedly shouted “Britain First.” But in a sense, she already had. In her maiden speech in Parliament, she boasted of her constituency’s traditional English fish and chips — but also of its outstanding curries, made by immigrants. She declared, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

Rest in Peace, Jo. I hope Britain remembers your wisdom.