opinion- Charles Krauthammer – By Bret Stephens

“Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist, announced last week that he is stricken with terminal cancer and has only weeks to live. Since then, the tributes have poured forth, and rightly so. Charles taught generations of readers and fellow writers how to reason, persuade, live — and now how to die.

These things are all connected because wisdom and goodness are entwined and, deep down, perhaps identical. Of Charles’s goodness — his qualities as a father, friend and colleague; his courage and resilience as a man — the tributes from people who know him much better than I do richly testify.

Of his wisdom, we have 38 years’ worth of columns, essays, speeches and spoken commentaries. If you lean conservative, as I do, the experience of a Krauthammer column was almost invariably the same: You’d read the piece and think, “that’s exactly it.” Not just “interesting” or “well written” or “mostly right.” Week after week, his was the clearest and smartest expression of the central truth of nearly every subject: a bad Supreme Court nomination, the joys and humiliations of chess, the future of geopolitics.

And if you don’t lean conservative? Then Charles’s writing served an even more useful purpose. Since I’m not aware of any precise antonym to the term “straw man,” I hereby nominate the noun “krauthammer” to serve the function, defined in two ways: (1) as the strongest possible counterargument to your opinion; (2) a person of deep substance and complete integrity.”

David Lindsay:

Bret Stephens liked Charles Krauthammer. He writes lovingly of him, which is nice.  But I hated Charles Krauthammer’s right wing rants. He twisted the truth about weapons of mass destruction, the value of Obamacare, and the threat of climate change.

Here are some of the many comments, that helped remind me of what a tool of fake news on Fox News this ideologue was.

Michael Charney
Cambridge, MA

CK had a medical degree from Harvard and would be expected to “do no harm.” Yet despite his scientific background he failed to speak the truth about climate change. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of his fellow human beings are now condemned to die because “Conservative” pundits such as CK chose group think over science.

Stuart Phillips commented June 15

Stuart Phillips
Stuart Phillips
New Orleans

It always amazes me when two seemingly intelligent people can read the same thing and come to such incredibly different conclusions. I have been reading Charles Krauthammer’s columns for a long time. He has been consistently wrong about everything that I have noted that could be reasonably scored as right or wrong. The Iraqis did not have weapons of mass destruction, the Kosovo war was successful, change can occur, and the Democrats are often right. Pres. Trump is not the Savior of the universe.

Yet somehow or other Brett Stevens thinks this man was knowledgeable about the future. I don’t understand, and I never will. Evidently prejudice and tribalism can overcome reality even in a otherwise intelligent New York Times columnist.

The reality-based community scores people on whether they are correct in predicting future events. This is the criterion of science. It is the one I use when I read someone’s opinions. Evidently, Mr. Stephens criterion is quite different. .

John Locke commented June 15

J
John Locke
Amesbury, MA

I found Mr. Krauthammer to be a bitter, caustic and divisive columnist. I hope he finds the peace that seems to have eluded him.

Edward Blau commented June 15

E
Edward Blau
Times Pick

As a fellow physician about Dr. Krauthammers age I felt deeply how the tragic diving accident he suffered early in his career so severely affected not only his professional life but also his personal life. And I admired how he coped with dignity and humor.
In his young adult life he was like me a liberal and later unlike me became a neoconservative who was a strong and fervent advocate for our misguided war in Iraq.
I felt badly for him that the entire eight years of Obama’s term as President he spent his diminishing days as a bitter and not always truthful critic. He never used that sharp mind of his to skewer W or Cheney.
I will miss him as a worthy intellectual adversary and wish him godspeed in his last journey.

Leslie commented June 15

L
Leslie
Arlington, VA

BretStephens: ‘ his was the clearest and smartest expression of the central truth ‘
? WHAT ?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Krauthammer
‘ 9/11 attacks Krauthammer wrote made clear existential threat and necessity for a new interventionism ..United States had no choice but to go to war in Afghanistan.. He supported Second Iraq War on “realist” grounds of strategic threat the Saddam regime posed ..and of his alleged weapons of mass destruction ‘
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War
‘ trillions ‘
BretStephens: ‘ his was the clearest and smartest expression of the central truth ‘
? WHAT ?
==

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Opinion | How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“Dear Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee and other Trump haters:

I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning. You think you’re raising your fist when you’re really raising a white flag.

You’re right that Donald Trump is a dangerous and deeply offensive man, and that restraining and containing him are urgent business. You’re wrong about how to go about doing that, or at least you’re letting your emotions get the better of you.

When you answer name-calling with name-calling and tantrums with tantrums, you’re not resisting him. You’re mirroring him. You’re not diminishing him. You’re demeaning yourselves. Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din.

You permit them to see you as you see Trump: deranged. Why would they choose a different path if it goes to another ugly destination?”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT Comments.
Thank you Frank Bruni for your excellent analysis. This is so painful for many of us. Reading the comments, I have sympathy for your detractors, then I get to someone who agrees with you, saying we have to act like adults. As David Leonhardt reported, we need to connect with those who voted for Obama, then switched to Trump. His base is not all alt right white supremacist. My friends who voted for Trump are learning that he is not all he claims to be. Defenders of DeNiro miss the point that we should play hard—and smart. Trump is brilliant at manipulating the media to dominate the evening and morning news cycles. In giving away joint military exercises with South Korea, he kept a campaign promise to his base, outwitting his real opponent: the US press and voting public. He is an above average practitioner of the dark and dirty political arts taught by Roy Cohn. This is a year where the next election might determine the survival of our democracy as we have known it. “F Trump” might make the speaker and audience feel good, but when played over the airwaves, it strengthens him. Better to yell, He cut taxes for the rich, so the rest of us can pay for this great country on our own, This administration is taking away health care from Americans and damaging the environment. Vote these bullies out of office.. As Bruni reminds us, focus your anger on the issues that hurt the voters in the November Election. Attacking the speaker, is less effective than attacking his ideas.

David Lindsay, the original response before condensing to under 1500 characters.

Thank you Frank Bruni for an excellent piece of analysis. This is so painful for many of us. As I read through the comments, I have sympathy for all your detractors, until I get down to someone who agrees with you, and says simply, we have to act like adults, because we are going after voters who want to hear that we hear them. As David Leonhardt reported, we need to focus on voters who voted for Obama, and then switched to Trump. His base is not all alt right white supremacist. Many of my friends and associates voted for Trump, and they are not incapable of learning that he is not everything he says he is. I found the youtube of Robert DeNiro’s Fuck Trump remark, and that was it. Is that all he said, or did youtube not report on more articulate remarks which should have followed?

What the commenters defending DeNiro miss, in my humble opinion, is not that we shouldn’t play hard, or even a little dirty, but what Trump does well, even brilliantly, is manipulate the press so that he dominates the evening and morning news cycles. For example, one of my heros, Nicholas Kristof, wrote that Kim Jong-un out negotiated Trump. I commented after that piece, Trump gave away joint military exercises with South Korea, that was one of his campaign promises to his base, and he totally dominated US news for over a week. From his perspective, he outwitted his real opponent, an intelligent and educated US press and voting public. He is an above average practitioner of the dark and dirty political arts taught by the likes of Roy Cohn.

Although my heart goes out to the frustrated detractors of Frank Bruni’s wise truths, and I often feel the same way, this is a year where the next election might determine the survival of our democracy and as we have known it.Fuck Trump might make the speaker and audience feel good, but when played over the airwaves, it strengthens him.  Better to yell, He cut taxes for the rich, so the rest of us can pay for this great country on our own, This administration is taking away health care and damaging the environment. Vote these bullies out of office.. As Bruni reminds us, focus your anger on the November Election.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

AT&T-Time Warner Ruling Shows a Need to Reboot Antitrust Laws – by James B Stewart – NYT

“The last time there was an antitrust ruling as important as the one handed down Tuesday by Judge Richard J. Leon, cellphones didn’t exist. There was no such thing as the internet. Personal computers were years away from mass adoption.

There had not been a federal court ruling on a vertical merger — a combination of a buyer and a supplier — since 1979. As a result, Judge Leon’s opinion, which cleared the way for the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, “will be enormously significant,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, an influential antitrust professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “To a significant extent, this court was writing on a clean slate.”

Judge Leon himself cited a “dearth” of modern judicial precedent.

For many antitrust experts, it was high time — no matter the outcome.

When it comes to vertical mergers like AT&T and Time Warner, “antitrust law is stuck in the 1980s,” said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who has called for more vigorous antitrust enforcement against vertical mergers.”

David Lindsay Jr.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval NYT comments
“. . . If AT&T wants to withhold “must have” programming from a rival telecom company, or charge more for it, that company cannot readily replace it. That was the crux of the government’s case — that vertical mergers, at least in this context, can reduce competition and harm consumers. “The big question was whether Judge Leon would accept where academics and economists have gone with this, or whether he’d stick with the old approach,” said Mr. Wu, the Columbia law professor, who is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.”
I side with Tim Wu, and economists looking at the danger of price gauging. Common sense to me suggests that fewer and fewer mega corporations will reduce the power of consumers against monopoly and monopsony, single seller and single buyer. Since Amazon and Facebook, for example, buy any company that rises to challenge them, they both should be broken up, starting with, a cutting off of most of their acquisitions.
Amazon’s cutthroat hostile take over of Diapers.com is proof that our anti-trust laws need to be modernized and strengthened, or at least, more rigorously enforced.
David Lindsay Jr.’s father worked in the anti-trust division of the US Treasury in the Eisenhower administration.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | A Good Night for Democrats – David Leonhardt – NYT

“There has been rising anxiety among Democrats in recent weeks — and rising optimism among Republicans — about the midterm elections in November. Last night’s primaries in several states should cause everyone to take a deep breath. The Democrats had a good night:• We still don’t have the full picture, but the trends in voter turnout continue to look strong for Democrats. (The partisan breakdown in primary turnout is a meaningful predictor of general-election results.)

In three New Jersey House districts that Democrats are hoping to flip, for example, Democrats cast between 52 percent and 54 percent of primary votes last night. “Should be careful about reading too much into it,” G. Elliott Morris of The Economist said on Twitter, “but those numbers should make Democrats feel good about November.” ”

DL: And California Democrats dodged a bullet.

Opinion | Pardon Me! – By GAIL COLLINS and BRET STEPHENS – NYT

Gail Collins: Bret, I’m on book leave until August, but I didn’t really want to spend two months devoid of conversation. So I’m going to keep dropping in unless President Trump agrees to go away for the summer, too.I wonder if he’d send me a pardon if I failed to meet my deadline. Seems to work for everybody else. Give me your predictions of who else you think will get a presidential get-out-of-jail card.Bret Stephens: We’re going to miss you this summer, Gail, so I’m glad we still get our periodic chats.The pardon power, historically, is supposed to be an instrument of individual mercy — like Lincoln’s many pardons of Union soldiers with “cowardly legs” — and a means of political reconciliation, like Ford’s controversial-but-wise pardon of Nixon. I’m not sure exactly when it became an instrument of personal or political self-dealing, though Bill Clinton’s disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich just as he was leaving office in 2001 comes to mind.

 

Yes, and here are some of my favorite of many good comments.

celia
also the west

I fail to understand why a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system merits an ‘egads’. Why is a health insurance industry driven ‘for-maximum-profit’ system better?
You do know, don’t you, that Americans pay more for their health coverage than any other western country?

Larry Eisenberg commented 1 hour ago

Larry Eisenberg
Larry Eisenberg
Medford, MA.

I borrow from Peter and Paul
And never paid either at all
The greatest flimflammer
For Putin I clamor
And I think I am building a Wall.

I say I can pardon myself
For Treason and pilfering pelf
The Nation’s best tweeter
to Porn stars I’m sweeter
A romantic amorous Elf.

My Cabinet radiates good will
To all whose actions reek of ill
I outshine Abe Lincoln
I’m better at thinkin’
And FDR’s bills were sheer swill.

I want the world’s biggest parade
Divert from the mess Barack made
Put Hillary in jail
Make Black people pale
In buckets of plunder I’ll wade.

NA commented 2 hours ago

N
NA

Bret Stephens is one of the most eloquent and insightful critics of Donald Trump writing today. So it’s sometimes easy to forget that he’s a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. His lauding of a huge corporate tax cut that most assuredly “blows a hole in the federal fisc” while slamming Medicare for all because it would supposedly do the same is a stark reminder of just which way he leans.

Opinion | Some Good News — (universal pre-kindergarten for Chicago — Virginia accepts medicaid expansion) – by David Leonhardt

“First, Chicago announced that it would make pre-kindergarten universal. By 2021, the city’s 4-year-olds will be able to go to school full time. The pre-K classes will have a student-to-staff ratio of 10:1, as experts recommend.

Many economists believe that good preschool programs are the single most effective way to lift living standards. Research by Dartmouth’s Elizabeth Cascio has found that universal pre-K — while more expensive than targeted, income-based programs — particularly helps poor children. They benefit from being in a diverse classroom.

Of course, pre-K also helps parents with child care. “If you’re working class, your kids are getting the shaft,” Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who taught preschool in his 20s, told me. “You’re basically put in the position of choosing between being a good employee and a good parent.”

Best of all, Chicago fits a national pattern, and a bipartisan one. Other cities and states — BaltimoreMemphis and New York; Florida, Vermont and West Virginia — have also expanded pre-K. Nationally, about 33 percent of 4-year-olds were in state-funded pre-K last year, with another 11 percent in other public programs. It’s a major increase since the start of this century:…”

Opinion | An American 13-Year-Old- Pregnant and Married to Her Rapist – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Dawn Tyree was 11 years old when a family friend began to molest her. A bit more than a year later, she became pregnant from these rapes, and her parents found out what had been going on. But they didn’t go to the police; instead, they found another solution.

“It was decided for me that I would marry him,” Tyree recalled.

So Tyree, then 13, was married to her rapist, then age 32. She became one of the thousands of underage American girls who are married each year, often sacrificing their futures to reduce embarrassment to their parents. Statutory rape is thus sanctioned by the state as marriage, and the abuser ends up not in handcuffs but showered with wedding gifts.

Our State Department protests child marriage in Africa and Asia (worldwide, a girl 14 or younger is married every 11 seconds, according to Save the Children), but every state in America allowed child marriages. That has finally changed. Last month Delaware became the first state to ban all child marriages, without exception.”

Opinion | The Weasel of Oz – by Charles Blow – NYT

Assuming that you have maintained the ability to be astonished by Donald Trump’s antics and insolence, The Washington Post reported last week that in 2017, before Trump was to deliver a speech to Congress, he “huddled with senior adviser Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration.”

As The Post reported:“Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he were at a rally, he recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed.”

Opinion | Democrats Are Running a Smart- Populist Campaign – by David Leonhardt – NYT

Stacey Abrams and Conor Lamb are supposed to represent opposite poles of the Trump-era Democratic Party. She is the new progressive heroine — the first black woman to win a major-party nomination for governor, who will need a surge of liberal turnout to win Georgia. He is the new centrist hero — the white former Marine who flipped a Western Pennsylvania congressional district with support from gun-loving, abortion-opposing Trump voters.But when you spend a little time listening to both Abrams and Lamb, you notice something that doesn’t fit the storyline: They sound a lot alike.They emphasize the same issues, and talk about them in similar ways. They don’t come across as avatars of some Bernie-vs.-Hillary battle for the party’s soul. They come across as ideological soul mates, both upbeat populists who focus on health care, education, upward mobility and the dignity of work.

Opinion | The Democrats’ Midterm Dilemma – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“One of the few people to really see Donald Trump coming was the University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales, who warned way back in 2011 that American politics was going the way of his native Italy, that we could easily produce our own version of Silvio Berlusconi, and that Trump was an obvious candidate to bottle the celebrity-populist-outsider cocktail.

So Zingales’s advice to Democrats after their 2016 defeat carried more weight than the average act of punditry. On the evidence of Berlusconi’s many victories and rare defeats, he argued, the best way to beat Trump was to do exactly what many liberals understandably didn’t want to do — to essentially normalize him, to treat him “as an ordinary opponent” rather than an existential threat, to focus on issues rather than character debates, to deny him both the public carnival and the tone of outraged hysteria in which his brand of politics tends to thrive.”

I haven’t forgiven Ross yet for his creepy column supporting right to life laws in Ireland, that have caused great pain and suffering to the poor and middle classes of Ireland. See Maureen Dowd’s report that same Sunday.

But his basic warning here is sound and important. “So Zingales’s advice to Democrats after their 2016 defeat carried more weight than the average act of punditry. On the evidence of Berlusconi’s many victories and rare defeats, he argued, the best way to beat Trump was to do exactly what many liberals understandably didn’t want to do — to essentially normalize him, to treat him “as an ordinary opponent” rather than an existential threat, to focus on issues rather than character debates, to deny him both the public carnival and the tone of outraged hysteria in which his brand of politics tends to thrive.” “