Tom Friedman isn’t one of my favorite New York Times columnists; I usually find him either tendentious or self-congratulatory. But he’s growing on me.

I especially liked his column last Wednesday, in which he suggested a slogan/bumper sticker for the Biden campaign:“Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.”

If only!!

As Friedman writes, not only are these values held by most Americans, they are in dramatic  contrast to Trump. (I’m pretty sure Trump doesn’t have anything we would call “values”–and I have never seen him display anything remotely resembling respect for anyone or anything..Even self-respect would be an improvement.)

Disdain for science is seen in Trump’s antagonism to fact, evidence and reality. It’s bad enough when his contempt for facts involves lying about crowd sizes or windmills causing cancer, infuriating when it involves denial of climate change– but with the advent of Covid-19, it poses an even more immediate threat.

But his disdain for science has become fatal, as we’re seeing in this widening pandemic. Trump has gone from offering quack remedies, like disinfectant, ultraviolet light and hydroxychloroquine, to mocking people, including Biden, for adopting the easiest and most scientifically proven method for limiting the spread of the coronavirus: wearing a face mask.

Trump doesn’t simply reject science. He’s lost whatever grip  he ever had on elementary logic.  Friedman echoes the astonishment so many of us expressed when our Commander-in-Chief–the purported leader of the free world–opined that we have more cases of Coronavirus because we test for it.

Think about that: Stop testing. Then we’ll have no knowledge. Then we’ll have no numbers. Then we’ll have no virus. Why didn’t I think of that?

Stop testing people for drunken driving, and then we’ll have no more drunken drivers. Stop arresting people for shootings, and then the crime rate will go down.

And if we didn’t have pregnancy tests, voila! Population control…

Then there’s the little matter of respecting Mother Nature.

Trump’s lack of respect for nature may be a political asset for him with his base, but it’s been a disaster for the country. …

Respect for nature also means understanding that we live on a hard rock called planet Earth with a thin cover of oceans and topsoil, enveloped by a thin layer of atmosphere. Abuse that soil, junk up those oceans with plastics, distort that atmospheric blanket and we will likely (further) destroy the perfect Garden of Eden that has been the basis of all human civilization.

According to National Geographic, the Russian Arctic has been having an extended heat wave that drove temperatures north of the Arctic Circle to 100.4 degrees F on June 20–the official first day of summer. (I can’t imagine what that will do to all the structures that have been built on the Arctic’s permafrost…)

The Trump administration has rolled back close to 100 environmental regulations–and has failed or refused to enforce a number of others. The administration reserves its “respect” for the bottom lines of fossil fuel and chemical companies that are operating with impunity as the planet heats and widely-used chemicals are found to be lethal.

Respect for other people? Can we even remember the civility, decorum and good manners of the Obama-Biden administration?

Respect each other? That’s not so easy in the midst of our other pandemic — a pandemic of incivility. You cannot exaggerate the impact on the whole civic culture of having a president who has elevated name-calling, denigration and lying to a central feature of his presidency, amplified by the White House.

Friedman acknowledges that there are multiple sources of disrespectful behavior–especially the algorithms of social media platforms–but he notes that restoring interpersonal respect will require  two things: a president who every day models respect rather than denigration, and citizens who actually listen to each other. Right now, we have neither.

Respect for science. Respect for nature. Respect for each other.

I like that.


  1. “Respect for other people? Can we even remember the civility, decorum and good manners of the Obama-Biden administration?”

    What I remember most is the mutual respect within the Obama-Biden administration and the respect between that administration and the American people, as well as those who came to this country seeking sanctuary. There was also, difficult to remember as it is now, respect between most Americans

    All I’m askin’ for is a little respect.
    Find out what it means to me.

    Written by Otis Redding and sung by Aretha Franklin; it was known as the “groundbreaking female empowerment anthem of the late 1960’s”. It is now the 21st Century, more than 50 years after that hit song which inspired young girls and women, what the vast majority of American people across this nation are begging for from our current government “leaders”.

    Let us register to vote and let us vote by mail-in or walk-in, let us have access to decent affordable health care, let us breathe clean air, let us practice our chosen religion – or no religion – without interference, let all races walk safely on all of our streets, let us survive this Covid-19 Pandemic and return to jobs to support families and the American economy, let us be free again to return to democracy, Rule of Law and support the Constitution of the United States of America.



    Matthew 26: 67, 68 reads; “Then they spat in his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him on the face, 68 saying: “Prophesy to us, you Christ. Who struck you?”

    This is what they did to a man! A man who showed compassion and respect to everyone. A man who showed empathy and discernment! A man who spoke with confidence and wisdom!

    This current leadership vacuum was prophesied about and has exposed itself throughout history. It shows how easily mankind can be manipulated by appealing to their basest fears and desires, to the point where they can drive them off the edge of the precipice. After all, what is patriotism? It gets people whipped up into a fervor, and during the moment of mob mentality, they are liable to do anything for the so-called love of their country or their flag, race, ethnicity, religion, education or lack thereof, gender, grievance, caste, et al.

    Those that have done this type of thing throughout history, either by-following a charismatic Entity, or in our case, troglodyte symbiosis with the masses, have caused immeasurable harm to society and this planet we call home. We don’t need a PhD to see what’s happening, and we do not have to hear it from an expert, all you have to do is use a little eyewash and ear wash, so you can really hear and see what’s happening.

    Our lawless leader, by his rambling and blathering speech at Mount Rushmore, shows how far ethics and respect and compassion and empathy have fallen in this country, but not just here, around the globe. Would this kind of talk have been tolerated in 2007, 2008! You would’ve had those very ones that are stoking the flames right now, looking for a rope! Hypocrisy isn’t just a byproduct of disrespect, it’s also the cause! But, it keeps happening, so that shows that humanity is not very smart on the whole.

    Because, why would you need laws to prevent your fellow citizens from polluting the water we all drink? Or the air we breathe? Or to treat everyone with compassion? Or to conduct yourself ethically? Or to be empathetic to your neighbor? Or be blind to the melatonin content of everyone’s skin? Or be satisfied you can worship whatever God you choose?

    10 When wisdom enters your heart
    And knowledge becomes pleasant to your soul,
    11 Thinking ability will keep watch over you,
    And discernment will safeguard you,
    12 To save you from the bad course,
    From the man speaking perverse things,
    13 From those leaving the upright paths
    To walk in the ways of darkness,
    14 From those who rejoice in wrongdoing,
    Who find joy in the perverseness of evil,
    15 Those whose paths are crooked
    And whose entire course is devious. ( Proverbs 2:10-15)

    Wisdom is the culmination of one’s knowledge and experience. It’s supposed to allow you to avoid the wrong course, but what we have displayed every day is the opposite of righteousness and discernment! Instead we have perverseness, which leads to every wrong thing! And that, we are all responsible for.

  3. Anyone ever think we’ve slipped into a Hanna-Barbera cartoon in a counrty led by Dick Dastardly? Can you imagine how very different this would all be if he’d decided to rally the country around a common cause like the pandemic instead of divide us along loyalty lines? He could be walking around looking like a god right now, but that’s not what a thin-skinned, feckless, narcissist does. I too like the proposed slogan. Now if we’ll all be here long enough to use it is up on the air.

  4. Prof points out: the Russian Arctic has been having an extended heat wave that drove temperatures north of the Arctic Circle to 100.4 degrees F on June 20–the official first day of summer. (I can’t imagine what that will do to all the structures that have been built on the Arctic’s permafrost…)
    The melting permafrost is releasing MASSIVE amounts of CO2 and countless virus and bacteria specimens that humans have NOT encountered. This likely will NOT end will for humans.

  5. For respect to have value it must be earned. Science has earned everyone’s respect by the hard work involved with the scientific method being employed for millennia. Nature has earned respect by providing the necessities for life on Earth – including those who abuse it so. But humans struggle with respecting one another due, mostly I think, to being so self-absorbed… at least those who are so self-absorbed that they see everyone else as owing to them, instead of applying mutual benefit, you know, like those traits that allowed us to survive as a community organism.

    But as today’s blog points out – again – Donald Trump has no respect for anyone, probably not even himself. Why? Well, we’ve all dissected this creep’s psyche for almost 4 years and the end result of our analyses is that it’s all true. Donald Trump’s brain is diseased. It is incapable of feeling anything but disdain for anything or anyone except that which adds to his own enrichment. We will NEVER see any respect of any sort from this very, very bad human being.

    Again, are there so many citizens and voters in this country who see Trump as they do themselves? Are they him, and him them? The answers to those questions really help define who we are as a nation. It’s a good thing that it’s “only” 35% of us (Most of whom VOTE) who lack the respect gene, otherwise New Zealand beckons…

  6. How do we come back to a point where we can respect our racist, science ignoring, hateful neighbors? Frankly every time I see an item about a large group of 45 supporters gathering without wearing masks, something inside of me wishes they would all come down with Covid-19. I don’t wish they would all die from it, but I do wish they would get sick enough to think maybe they were wrong and we should all be wearing masks. This sick man has made us all a little worse.

  7. Trump and the Republican party’s distain of science is congruent with the climate denial propagated by the oil invested Koch/billionaire network. That connection should be consistently pointed out So that people see the men behind the curtain.

  8. RESPECT…..When this so called prez stood in front of the nation and imitated a man with a physical disability that should have been the end of it. When he disrespected a Gold Star family that should have been the end of it. On and on….but the fact that this man has risen to the level of power that he has by breaking all moral and spiritual laws to get there it makes me think “We let him do it.” And we still are….To think and hope that November will determine the course of this country’s fate is not only ridiculous, but another example of our inability to stop what should have been stopped 4 years ago. It’s our fault we have allowed the moral (insane majority) and Bannon-esque groups rise to this level of power..No one in their right mind would allow power to slip from their grasp so close to grabbing the brass ring. This will get BLOODY because we have talked our way through this instead of doing something. If i hear one more person say, ‘this is unprecedented,’ or ‘this has never happened before’ or etc.etc Again, just plain talk..Good luck to all of us.

  9. Buddhists pray “May all sentient beings be well and happy.” They have a profound reverence for life in all its wondrous diversity. They are very concerned about the destructive potential of fear and anger.

    Fear mongering undermines love and respect. The old animal brain within us that goes on high alert when we see someone different from ourselves is the home of our survival instincts. The current POTUS acts like a predator with his hackles up because he is owned by his fears.

    I can only hope that we have a blue tsunami in 2020 because we need leaders who lead with courage, not fear. We need leaders who are willing to face climate change instead of burying their heads in the sand. We need leaders who are willing to listen to the medical experts when addressing this pandemic. We need leaders who are invested in creating a nation with liberty and justice for all, who truly believe that we are all created equal, that each person has inherent worth and dignity.

  10. Reading Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech this morning about the meaning of the Fourth of July and thinking what a powerful ongoing lesson it is for this country. Trump made pitiful attempts at eloquence (written by whom?) about Founding Fathers and patriotism, interlacing his two July 4th speeches with attacks on protesters and defense of monuments.

    I was still thinking about it when I saw on CBS Sunday morning show that men, women, young people across the country had taken to the podium and were reading Douglass’ speech to public audiences. It prints out at 25 pages, Trump could never read it even he thought he should. But it gives me great hope that so many people care to bring Frederick Douglass’ great speech into the public light at this point.

  11. If we did respect science, nature and each other freedom would be preserved but divisiveness would go away.

    But, then, how would Donald Trump get re-elected?

  12. In order to have values, one must have a receptacle for values to lodge, and Trump’s receptacle is missing in action. As a result he simply cannot understand or respond to abstract reasoning or the plight of anyone other than his narcissistic self. He lives in a narrow world – very narrow – one in which he is called upon as president to represent the best interests of 330 million Americans when his twisted synapses barely permit him to represent himself.

    I agree with Professor Kennedy’s assessment of Friedman who is usually full of himself but who now in the face of the disastrous reign of Trump has decided to come down to earth with us plebes and try to avert the looming disaster of a Trump-Barr authoritarian future. He is joined by members of Trump’s own party. See Bush is voting for Biden, the Lincoln Group et al., though I here note that not a single Republican member of the House or Senate (other than a sometime plaint from Romney) will not call out their diseased leader and stand up for the values that did in fact make America great.

    As to today’s specific topic, I adopt Robin’s effort. Good analysis.

    As for today’s topic, I agree with Robin’s effort. Well said.

  13. Maywin…spot on!!!
    The Editorial Board article, “The Jobs We Need,” from the New York Times this morning is, also, spot on!

    It does a great overview of how WE, The People, have allowed BOTH parties, particularly since 1980, to shift power and wealth from The People to the 1%. That is just a plain fact folks. WE have allowed it at the voting booth since 1980.

    ALL politicians of BOTH parties have courted the Corporate and Wall Street worlds in the last 40 years. How many Democrats have gone from “serving the people” in office to sweet deals with banking institutions, corporations, lobby firms, cable shows, etc, etc??? Again…BOTH parties engage in this revolving door of Corporate and Political quid pro quo.

    Biden, our current Democrat Savior, is up to his eye brows in Wall Street favors and Corporate promises. And he is going to change to help those with no livable wage jobs and no affordable health Insurance all of the sudden??? Really?!

    The ACA has been a Gold Mine for Private Insurance institutions, Big Pharma, etc. Yes, it provided some people access….IF….only IF you lived in a state with an exchange program (NOT in my state…Missouri) AND IF you could afford the basic lower premiums of Obama’s Gold Plan. Many cannot! So, that so-called “great” law still leaves tens of millions without ANY health care in the richest nation on earth.

    And now that the Pandemic has hit, millions more have lost their employee health care insurance (what Biden promises people can keep so they will not lose it to the “absurd and too expensive” plan of Medicare For All.) Savior? Not hardly.

    Oh yes, Biden would absolutely be better window dressing than the current cabal in Trump Inc. Duh. My Boston Terrier would be a better moral candidate too! However, at the end of the day, the REAL question is what will happen to an economy, planet and a culture that was ALREADY on life support BEFORE the pandemic and the arrival of Trump Inc.???

    People forget that Obama/Biden in 2011 offered a deal to the Republicans to cut (YES…CUT!!!) Social Security and Medicare in return for a slight increase of taxes for the top tier income brackets. So much for caring for the most vulnerable! The GOP, of course, turned it down even though they would love to see those programs go away.

    And we know, unlike FDR, Obama/Biden bailed out Wall Street and Banking/Lending institutions in 2008 and after instead of, like FDR, putting trillions into the pockets of working people who needed purchase power to survive, especially the millions, like my brother, who lost their jobs and their homes. FDR let hundreds of banks go bust, gave a “holiday” to the rest, and went on to give the American people dignity and hope in what we now refer to as The New Deal policies. Unions became a real thing.

    So Biden is our golden boy because he won’t be a jerk??? Yet his record for the average person stinks to high heaven. Oh yes, many can google this program and that program that have given, by comparison to the 1%, crumbs to the needy. Sorry, I don’t buy it.

    Will I vote for Biden? Well, lacking a REAL party of the working masses, what other choice is there??? Yes I will, but like the last one, I will do it holding my nose….again.

    Follow The Money folks is just as ethical for our Corporate Democrats as it is for those who hate Trump Inc. Let’s be honest and real….for a change.

  14. The reason government has had to step in and regulate environmental protections is that big business has refused to do it voluntarily. Trump and the Republicans are doing everything they can to undo what more enlightened politicians have created for the good of Americans.
    Well, big business better hold off on going back to the old ways. Democrats are likely to undo what the tRumpsters have undone. It’s in their interest to do the right thing … to not cheat… to not destroy… and to not give in to their selfish ways of the past. They must voluntarily work to make America safe for us, our children and our grandchildren.
    We’ve been on a roller coaster ride for generations where one political group undoes what the previous group has put into place. Just when we think we have made some progress, we take several steps backward.
    This time is different. It won’t happen that fast. It will take at least one generation to get us back on course.
    The next T-shirt should read, “Save Our Grandchildren. Vote Blue!”

  15. Of course Trump would respond with a big poster of him standing in front of the church with his unopened Bible and the heading “Respect Faith” — even though he doesn’t. But it would play to his base.

  16. Pete, who said anything about being perfect? I didn’t. We have had Keynesian economics and FDR’s programs, policies and laws before, so it CAN be done…… but we have to have REAL New Deal (or Green Deal) Democrats STOP being beholden to big money and Wall Street and DO the right thing for this country and our planet before it’s too late (it may already be too late for that matter). Again, it’s ALL possible because this country has done it before. Fact.

  17. Brad – I think you aroused Pete’s philosophic ire with your effort today, but as it turns out you’re both right. There is no perfection available to us but there is the proven panacea of FDR’s New Deal and Keynesian economics, whose combination (along, of course, with uncorrupted politicians who legislate for the common good) may be the nearest we can come to the ideal in human affairs, a result not available to us with capitalism as currently practiced, and even should we manage to get a new New Deal, it will have to be constantly tweaked as we go along in search of such elusive perfection.

  18. Gerald – I suppose you are right. I do have a habit and history (having experienced years of Social Activism, trained in the Social Gospel and Prophetic Truth Telling at a graduate institution) of “arousing…ire” in folk. Along the same lines as my hometown hero, Harry S Truman, who famously quipped that, to paraphrase, “I don’t give people hell, I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” Basically the story of my clergy, teaching and military careers! Oh well.

    I learned in my first decade of existence that folk like the high IQ men of Jack Kennedy were adept at lying about Vietnam and how the war would proceed. Knowing it was a loss cause but engaging more and more nonetheless. Of course, most know about the lie called the Gulf of Tonkin “provocation.”

    Therefore, I realized early and often growing up in the “great” USA that “truth” and “honesty” was NOT to be taken for granted, especially as it pertains to the messaging of power groups and institutions!!! Truth and honesty matters. It is sad that so many seem to be OK with that obvious ideal and social contract in communication….unless it makes them feel uncomfortable or agitated. My opinion as always, of course.

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