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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Issue #10: Oct 8–Oct 14, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, we decide what we should and shouldn’t forgive Mark Zuckerberg for (see editorial, below). We also, as usual, offer a pithy summary of Trump’s doings and their significance as well as background readings. But before you dive in, I wanted to call your attention to two pieces I recently wrote—one in Vox, on the meaning of mindful resistance, and one in Wired, on how meditation can erode the cognitive biases that underlie the “psychology of tribalism.”

And as long as I have your attention: (1) Feel free to use the “share” function at the bottom of the newsletter to email the newsletter to anyone you think might like it; (2) Feel free to email us with reactions and ideas at feedback@mindfulresistance.net. We don’t have time to reply to each email, but rest assured that we read each one (mindfully).

Robert Wright

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Issue 9: Sept 30-Oct 7, 2017

In this week’s newsletter, we decide what we should and shouldn’t forgive Mark Zuckerberg for (see editorial, below). We also, as usual, offer a pithy summary of Trump’s doings and their significance as well as background readings. But before you dive in, I wanted to call your attention to two pieces I recently wrote—one in Vox, on the meaning of mindful resistance, and one in Wired, on how meditation can erode the cognitive biasesthat underlie the “psychology of tribalism.”

And as long as I have your attention: (1) Feel free to use the “share” function at the bottom of the newsletter to email the newsletter to anyone you think might like it; (2) Feel free to email us with reactions and ideas at feedback@mindfulresistance.net. We don’t have time to reply to each email, but rest assured that we read each one (mindfully).

—Robert Wright

THE WEEK IN TRUMP

Bump Stock Bipartisanship? The Las Vegas massacre seemed to create a bipartisan opening to ban “bump stocks,” which the shooter used to turn semi-automatic weapons into functionally automatic ones. Even the NRA signaled support for a ban, though Chris Cillizza argued that this was a ploy—that in calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to handle the issue, the NRA was trying to forestall broader action in Congress.

Iran Deal Threatened: Reports indicated that Trump would take “a middle ground of sorts” by not recertifying the Iran nuclear deal but not recommending that Congress reinstate sanctions. The move would increase the chances that Republicans in Congress, most of whom opposed the deal, will at some future date derail it even if Iran continues to comply with its terms. At a hearing on Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that he believed maintaining the agreement was in the U.S. national interest.

Rex Rift: NBC reported that the “rift” between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had widened after Tillerson failed to deny that he had called the president a moron. Buzzfeed reported that Mattis, Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have a “suicide pact … whereby all three cabinet secretaries vow to leave in the event that the president makes moves against one of them.”

DREAM Deal Deferred?: Politico reports: “The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hard-line immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program… an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal.”

Contraception Exemption: The Daily Beast reported that the Trump administration was poised to weaken an Obama-era regulation requiring employers to offer birth control coverage. The envisioned rule would allow bosses to opt out of the requirement on “moral” rather than just “religious” grounds.

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Issue 8: Sept 23-Sept 29, 2017

 THE WEEK IN TRUMP

Weekend Warrior: Trump said that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired, spurring more players to take a knee in protest. Trump’s intervention turned Colin Kaepernick’s original protest against police abuse of African Americans into a much larger debate about Trump himself and the meaning of free speech and patriotism. NYT’s Ross Douthat noted that “now we’re ‘arguing’ (I use the term loosely) about everything [but] the specific issue that Kaepernick intended to raise, police misconduct…”

Health and Taxes: The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was pronounced dead yet again after John McCain and Susan Collins said they wouldn’t vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill, leading the White House and congressional Republicans to shift their focus to taxes. A NYT fact-check of the Republicans’ vaguely outlined tax reform proposal said it would benefit the wealthiest.

Puerto Rico Struggles: On Thursday, after much criticism for not acting sooner, Trump waived the Jones Act for Puerto Rico, making it easier to ship relief supplies to the island. A poll indicated that almost half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens—and that those who do know are much more likely to support aid.

Travel Ban Sequel: The White House announced a new version of the travel ban, adding North Korea and Chad to the previous list, which originally included only Muslim-majority nations. The NYT reported that the inclusion of Chad came at the request of the acting Homeland Security secretary and adviser Stephen Miller, but “over the objections of Pentagon and State Department officials, who argued that alienating the nation, one of America’s more reliable counterterrorism allies in Africa, risked harming long-term national security interests.”

Trumpism Defeats Trump: In Alabama, Luther Strange, the GOP establishment candidate, lost to Roy Moore in the GOP primary for Jeff Sessions’s old seat. Trump, succumbing to establishment pressure, had supported Strange, but Moore was seen by many, including vocal supporter Steve Bannon, as more representative than Strange of the spirit of Trump’s presidential campaign. Bannon is looking to further rattle the Republican establishment by recruiting primary challengers in other states, reports Politico.

Frequent Flier Fired: Or, strictly speaking, he resigned—he being Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services who had drawn fire for spending $400,000 of government money on charter flights rather than fly on commercial airlines.
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Issue 7: Sept 16-Sept 22, 2017

THE WEEK IN TRUMP

Trump vs. Kim: In his first address to the United Nations, Trump said that if the US “is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” Neoconservative columnist Eli Lake wrote, “For a moment, I closed my eyes and thought I was listening to a Weekly Standard editorial meeting.” On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order widening American economic sanctions on North Korea. Kim Jong Un, whom Trump had called “Rocket Man” in his UN speech, said in response that he would “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” Trump then tweeted that the “madman” Kim “will be tested like never before!”

Rouhani the Role Model: Amid the war of taunts between Trump and Kim, Iranian President Rouhani reminded everyone what tough talk by national leaders has traditionally sounded like: firm but vague. After Trump used his UN speech to hint anew that he will find a way to end the Iran nuclear deal, Rouhani said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement; but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.” The New York Times reported: “Some say the contrast between Mr. Trump’s belligerent-sounding General Assembly speech on Tuesday, and the more measured address by President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Wednesday, had helped give Iran an unexpected edge: the image of reasonableness in the face of an adversary’s angry ranting.”

Repeal and Replace’ on Life Support: The GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, seemingly dead as of July, returned in the form of the Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill would cut Medicaid by turning traditional funding into blocks grants to the states, would undo the individual mandate, and would “allow health insurers to once again charge people higher premiums based on their medical history,” according to Vox. Friday afternoon, Senator John McCain said he would not support the bill, rendering the GOP effort to repeal the ACA, if not once again seemingly dead, then seemingly on its deathbed.

Mueller Targets White House: The New York Times reported that special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House for documents about “some of President Trump’s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his national security adviser and F.B.I. director.”

Late-Night Hosts Take Flak: Stephen Colbert was criticized from the left for bringing Sean Spicer on stage for a joke during the Emmys, and Jimmy Kimmel was criticized from the right for forcefully arguing against the Graham-Cassidy bill.

 

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