Most reassuring email of the week

MRN reader Karen writes, “Trump is a correction, a part of our awakening. Not to worry. All is well.” Well that’s a load off my mind! But, seriously, Karen may have a point. I mean, I’m not as sanguine as she is; I think it will be awhile before the phrase “All is well” springs to mind every time I see Trump’s florid visage on TV. Still, it’s true that Trump is forcing us to reckon with things we should have reckoned with long ago. In particular, he’s helped make “tribalism” a buzzword, and I think pondering tribalism is a good thing, as long as we’re clear on what tribalism does and doesn’t mean.

News You Can Use

The UN estimates that 14 million people are at risk of famine in Yemen—in large part because of bombing by, and an economic blockade imposed by, a Saudi-led coalition that the US supports. If you want to help, check out this New York Times list of respected organizations that provide humanitarian relief there. And feel free to express support for grassroots-funded NGOs that lobby against the Saudi intervention and America’s support for it. These include Win Without War, the American Friends Service Committee, and Amnesty International.

Crazy? Or crazy like Fox?

One unresolved question about Trump is whether his antics and provocations are as impulsive as they seem, or are in fact tactically driven, part of a carefully crafted political and media strategy. Some of both, no doubt, but I increasingly think the second scenario has a lot to be said for it. Consider Trump’s decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta this week. The story stole tons of oxygen from the much more important story of Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions, and no doubt suppressed attendance at “Protect Mueller” rallies held the next day (though attendance was still fairly impressive, given the short notice).

But that’s only half the story. Picking on a white male reporter allows Trump defenders to argue that his confrontations with female or nonwhite reporters aren’t misogynistic and aren’t racist. And if you don’t think Trump’s Fox News friends will make full use of that opportunity—by, say, mocking a black female reporter for alleging bias—then you don’t know Trump’s Fox News friends.

Issue #17: Nov 26-Dec 2, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, after our summary of an especially eventful seven days of Trump-related news, I examine a proposal that was floated this week: that all anti-Trumpers put aside their ideological differences, and refrain from debating policy, so long as Trump is in office. Conveniently, this gives me an opportunity to remind you what a menace Bill Kristol is. Then, in our background section, we steer you toward arguments for taking impeachment more seriously; for getting Democrats back in touch with religion; for worrying that a reportedly impending change of leadership at the State Department could make things even worse than they are; for both hope and despair about the Mueller investigation; and so on.

—Robert Wright

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Issue #16: Nov 19-Nov 25, 2017

HOLIDAY EDITION

This is a holiday edition of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter—which is a euphemistic way of saying that the first third of the newsletter is missing. Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I wanted to give our hardworking MRN staff (including me!) Thursday and Friday off, and those are the days when The Week In Trump (the missing third) is usually assembled. But rest assured that the third of the newsletter—the background links—can be found below. And as for the second third—the part where I typically reflect on something or other: well, that starts right here.

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Issue #15: Nov 12-Nov 18, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, after our review of The Week In Trump, I weigh in on a recent controversy over “Safari journalism”—reporting done by journalists who venture into Trump Country and report back from the wild. Then we steer you toward interesting pieces on things ranging from a Roy Moore thought experiment to Elon Musk’s bad news for truck drivers.

–Robert Wright

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Issue #14: Nov 5-Nov 11, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, after our review of the week in Trump, I try to explain what the point of our review of the week in Trump is. So if you start reading The Week in Trump and find yourself overwhelmed by ennui, just skip ahead.

–Robert Wright

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Issue #13: Oct 29–Nov 4, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, after our review of a particularly eventful Week In Trump, I ask the not-very-often-asked question: Is there a way to view the Trump-Russia investigation mindfully—and is there good reason to try? Then, in our background section, we offer links to articles on things ranging from impeachment prospects to cognitive biases. And as usual, at the very bottom, we have a link you can click to share the newsletter with friends if you’ve found it useful. I encourage you to click mindfully. And if you feel the urge to click mindlessly… well, OK, go ahead.

 –Robert Wright

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Issue #12: Oct 22–Oct 28, 2017

This week, after The Week in Trump, I address the eternal question: How should we handle the Jeff Flakes of the world? And, for those of you in New York: On Wednesday I’ll be holding a discussion with two prominent Buddhists about, among other things, how to deal with Trump in a way that is mindful and consistent with Buddhist values. If you’re interested in attending, you can RSVP here. Feel free to introduce yourself to me afterwards as a Mindful Resister!

Robert Wright 

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Issue #11: Oct 15–Oct 21, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, after our summary of some of the week’s most genuinely important events, I delve into an event that got way more air time than any of them: the controversy over the disrespect Trump showed (or didn’t show, depending on who you believe) toward a fallen soldier while offering condolences to the soldier’s widow. I try to answer the looming question: Was this worth the fuss? I break that question down into a few sub-questions that may be of use in the future as you confront that recurring Trump-related question: Should I get outraged over this? Also in this newsletter, we inaugurate a new (occasional) award: Dubious Viral Tweet Of The Week—which gives us a chance to subject 140 characters or less to longer, and arguably tedious, analysis.

—Robert Wright

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