Opinion | Trump’s Coronavirus Emergency – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Nemesis, 1501–2, by Albrecht Dürer.

“The word “nemesis” is too often misused. We tend to think of it as meaning a powerful, nefarious, but ultimately conquerable enemy: Vader; Voldemort; the Wicked Witch of the West. But the original Nemesis was not a villain. She was a goddess — an implacable agent of justice who gives the arrogant, insolent and wicked what they deserve.

As a matter of public health, nobody should ever suggest that the novel coronavirus represents any form of justice, divine or otherwise. It’s a virus that must be stopped.

As a matter of politics, however, it’s hard to think of a mechanism so uniquely well-suited for exposing the hubris, ignorance, prejudice, mendacity and catastrophic self-regard of the president who is supposed to lead us through this crisis.

A few points to mention.

Alternative facts. In recent days, conservative pundits appear to have been scandalized by the suggestion that the coronavirus is Donald Trump’s Chernobyl. They miss the point, which is not that the virus is a nuclear furnace. It’s that the same absence of trust that pervaded the relationship between the Soviet regime and its people also pervades the relationship between much of America and its president.

A leader who cannot be believed will not be followed, even, or especially, in periods of emergency. If Trump’s supporters now wonder why Americans won’t rally around the president as they did around George W. Bush after 9/11, there’s the answer.”

Opinion | Joe Biden Is No Longer Toast – Collins and Stephens – The New York Times

Gail Collins: Hey Bret, how are you feeling? I’ve never had so many people politely inquire about my health, with a slight undertone of suspicion.

Seems like all anybody’s talking about is the coronavirus. What’s your take? Are we overreacting? Underreacting? Or doesn’t it matter since the end is imminent?

Bret Stephens: Fine so far, Gail, and thanks for asking, though I’m worried about my elderly relatives and friends. This is one of those topics where those of us in the punditocracy really need to listen closely to epidemiologists, virologists and other experts in the field, and pretty much adopt their views as our own. In other words, let’s not follow the Rush Limbaugh model and just mouth off on the hunch that it won’t amount to much and the prejudice that it’s a tool to bring down Donald Trump.

On a level of ordinary social observation, I have to say this is starting to have an end-times feeling to it. I walked into a Duane Reade pharmacy the other day and entire shelves had been emptied, as if I were in a Soviet grocery store. At another pharmacy, on Lexington Avenue, a midsize bottle of Purell was being sold behind the counter for $50, which almost turned me into a raging Sandersnista. I was supposed to have been traveling abroad last week, but that trip was canceled, as was a forthcoming conference in Georgia.”

Opinion | Trump’s Whisper Network – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“And a new version of the Miranda warning seems to apply across all media, social and traditional: Anything you say, or have ever said, in context or out, deliberately or by misspeaking, can and will be held against you.

Which brings me to what is perhaps the biggest whisper network of all: the one involving inner flashes of sympathy, frequently tipping into support at the ballot box, for President Trump.

Plenty of people are aware of this phenomenon: One recent academic study noted that so-called secret voters supported Trump over Hillary Clinton by a two-to-one (54 percent to 27 percent) margin in 2016. That statistic should be every bit as alarming to Democrats this time around, not least because it suggests that polls may be dramatically underweighting the scale of Trump’s support.

Yet beyond the question of why people might want to conceal their voting preferences — reputation management, social harmony, and so on — it’s worth asking whether the very fact that a vote for Trump was supposed to be shameful is also what made it so attractive. After all, forbidden fruit is appealing not because it is fruit, but because it is forbidden. For every voter who pulled the lever for Trump out of sympathy for his views, how many others did so out of disdain for the army of snickering moralists (at the time including me) telling them that a vote for Trump was unpardonable?

My hunch: probably enough to make the difference in the states that made the difference.”

Opinion | The Odd Couples of the Democratic Party – Bret and Gail, at The New York Times

“Bret: Rest assured that no matter what happens this year, the Knicks will embarrass us. The key for Democrats isn’t so much to take a position on Suleimani as it is to convey a sense of sobriety when it comes to questions of peace and war.

Gail: Well, that’s certainly fair. And not too tough. If you look at the contenders, they’re not exactly a bunch of what-the-heck-let’s-party people.

Bret: If I wanted the Democratic nomination (I don’t!), or were a Democrat (I’m not!), I’d say something along these lines: “Suleimani killed Americans, and on my watch anyone who kills Americans is a dead man walking. Period. But the goal of saving American lives requires prudence and vision, not bravado, impulse and political calculation. As president, I will oppose Iran’s dangerous behavior at every turn, whether against us or our allies. But I’m not going to hazard our position in the region, or risk a reckless war, or ruin the chances for a negotiated nuclear deal, just to kill one evil but easily replaceable man. And, unlike Trump, I’m going to listen closely to my soldiers and diplomats before I go around signing kill orders just because I like feeling tough.”

Gail: I would definitely vote for you, if you’d just consider embracing “Medicare for all” and a tax hike for the wealthy.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Lovely column, makes for pleasant reading. The best part for me was when Bret pointed out that killing Suliemani wasn’t as important as returning to the Iran Nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of, and which caused the Iranians to start shooting at us again. From the Iranian government point of view, the US is the biggest terrorist in the middle east.
My current choice for the Democrats is Biden/Buttigieg. These are all excellent people, miles above Drumpf the con, but all these musing will need to be reassessed by new swing state polling. Warren/Klobushar would be a fantastic ticket, if we could do away with the electoral college before the next election.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Opinion | What Will It Take to Beat Donald Trump? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

President Trump at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on the night he was impeached by the House of Representatives.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both campaigned for, and won, the White House on the watchword “hope.” What watchword will it take for a Democrat to win this time?

My suggestion: soap.

Nearly three years into Donald Trump’s presidency, America needs a hard scrub and a deep cleanse. It needs to wash out the grime and grease of an administration that every day does something to make the country feel soiled.

Soiled by a president who, Castro-like, delivered a two-hour rant at a rally in Michigan the night he was impeached. Who described his shakedown of Ukraine as “perfect.” Who extolled the world’s cruelest tyrant as someone who “wrote me beautiful letters. … We fell in love.” Who abandoned vulnerable allies in Syria, then opted to maintain troops in the country “only for oil.” Who, barely a year before the El Paso massacre, demonized illegal immigrants who “pour into and infest our Country.”

The list goes on, and most everyone feels it. In June, the Pew Research Center published a survey on how the country sees the state of public discourse. The most striking finding: “A 59 percent majority of Republicans and Republican leaners say they often or sometimes feel concerned by what Trump says. About half also say they are at least sometimes embarrassed (53 percent) and confused (47 percent) by Trump’s statements.”

Opinion | Can Any of the Democratic Candidates Save the Party From Itself? – The New York Times

By Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every other week.

Credit…Getty Images

Gail Collins: Bret, how do you feel about billionaires? Not personally — I’m sure some of your best friends are billionaires — but as presidential candidates. Ever since Michael Bloomberg started running, there’s been a lot of complaining about rich guys trying to buy the race. Does that worry you, or do you find people like Bloomberg and Tom Steyer to be, um, valuable additions?

Bret Stephens: I guess it depends on who the billionaires are, how they made their money, and what they’ve done with it. There’s a world of difference between someone like Mike Bloomberg — who came from relatively humble beginnings, made his fortune honestly, ran his businesses capably, devoted a significant amount of his life to public service and then gave billions away to great causes — and someone like Donald Trump, who did none of those things.

What about you?

Gail: Thank you for throwing in an attack on President Trump. Really, is there any topic that doesn’t offer some opportunity to snipe at our commander in chief? I notice he’s blaming energy-efficient light bulbs for his orange skin tone.

Bret: They use energy-efficient light bulbs on tanning beds now?

Gail: I’ll bet we could talk about the presidential complexion all day and the readers would be extremely happy to chime in and keep it going for another week. But of course we’re above that.

Bret: We are?

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Draft 2
Fellow commentators! You don’t have to agree with Bret Stevens, but you do have to listen to his advice. His conservative views are closer to the views of the majority in the crucial swing states than the views of us progressives on either coast. We don’t need more votes in New York or California, we need the six crucial swing states that gave Trump the electoral college. Wake up. Look at the polls. Every conservative in Connecticut I have interviewed, has said that they will not support or vote for Sanders or Warren. Either one of these fine progressives will crush Trump in the popular vote, but deliver to him the presidency, that is what people like Bret Stevens are trying to warn you to be aware of. We have to take the White House, to put the war on climate change on hyper drive and rebuild the middle class. The sure way for Pete Buttigieg to win the support of the black community, is to support the candicacy of their favorite candidate, Joe Biden, and try to become his vice president. (David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.)

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren Divides the Room – By Gail Collins and Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every other week.

ImageElizabeth Warren is one of 12 candidates who will be participating in Tuesday’s Democratic debate.
CreditCreditKyle Grillot for The New York Times

Gail Collins: Bret, where should we start? Democratic debate? Impeachment? Mideast crisis? Rudy Giuliani? Actually, as a New Yorker I always figured that someday Rudy would do something even more outrageous than the time he called a news conference to announce he was separating from his wife before he told said spouse. But I did not imagine it would include sleazy Ukrainians and Joe Biden’s son.

But hey, it’s debate day. Let’s start with the Democrats. Who do you like tonight?

Bret Stephens: Well, if you don’t mind, I’d like to start with a certain Gail Collins, whose extraordinary history of older women in America, “No Stopping Us Now,” hits bookstores this week. Congratulations!

Gail: Thanks! You’ve made my day.

Bret: O.K. Now to the doleful stuff.

I know we don’t often discuss foreign affairs, but I feel sick about the way in which President Trump has betrayed our Kurdish allies. They lost thousands of soldiers to defeat the Islamic State, which made it possible to keep American casualties to a minimum in that fight. And now we’ve sold them out to a Turkish strongman who takes Americans hostage, locks up his political opponents by the thousands, makes common cause with Hamas, mutters anti-Semitic garbage, blackmails Europe, attempts to steal elections and builds a gigantic palace for himself.

It’s one of the lowest moments in American foreign policy. Which is to say, just another day in Trumpworld.

Opinion | Is China Heading for Crisis? – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“In 2001, Gordon Chang, an American lawyer who had spent many years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, published a book forebodingly titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” At the time, the thesis seemed improbable, if not preposterous.

It looks a great deal less improbable now.

China — or, rather, the Chinese regime — is in trouble. Tuesday’s gigantic parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic looked like something out of the late Brezhnev era: endless military pomp and gray old men. Hong Kong is in its fourth straight month of protests, marked and stained by this week’s shooting of an unarmed teenage demonstrator. The Chinese economy is growing at its slowest rate in 27 years, even when going by the overstated official figures.

Meantime, capital is fleeing China — an estimated $1.2 trillion in the past decade — while foreign investors sour on Chinese markets. Beijing’s loudly touted Belt-and-Road initiative looks increasingly like a swamp of corruption, malinvestment and bad debt. Its retaliatory options in the face of Donald Trump’s trade war are bad and few. And General Secretary Xi Jinping has created a cult-of-personality dictatorship in a style unseen since Mao Zedong, China’s last disastrous emperor.

Remember the “Chinese Dream” — Xi’s vision of China as a modern, powerful, and “moderately well-off” state? Forget it. The current task for Chinese leadership is to avoid a full-blown nightmare of international isolation, economic decline, and domestic revolt.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Bret writes well, but doesn’t seem to know much about China. In reading the comments, I am reminded that most Chinese do not care about democracy, but getting out of poverty, and they are pleased with their government.
One astute writer this summer, pointed out that China doesn’t need Hong Kong’s market anymore. The Chinese market makes China independent financially from Hong Kong. That writer suggested that the dissidents of Hong Kong are doomed. I am impressed that the CCP has announced a $500 billion push over the next five years into solar and sustainable energy. They have announced that all cars will be electric by 2030, and now have 42 companies making electric cars. The News Hour showed last night that you have to join a lottery to get a automoblie license, and it getting harder and harder to get a license for gas vehicles.
A Vietnamese professor teaching at a universtiy in the USA, recently reported that the top government officials of Vietnam have been bought out by the Chinese CCP, and are quietly not fighting China’s take over of the South China Sea. There is a question among my friends about whether a democracy like the United States, is capable of dealing with the existencial threat of the climate crisis.
If the oil and gas companies continue to control our politics for their short term profit, we might be the biggest threat to our own future.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | A Wretched Start for Democrats – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“Amigos demócratas,

Si ustedes siguen así, van a perder las elecciones. Y lo merecerán.

Translation for the linguistically benighted: “Democratic friends, if you go on like this, you’re going to lose the elections. And you’ll deserve it.”

In this week’s Democratic debates, it wasn’t just individual candidates who presented themselves to the public. It was also the party itself. What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?

Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.

They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off.”

Opinion | Joe Biden: Be Proud of Your Crime Bill – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Joe Biden, right, with George Mitchell, speaking to reporters in 1994, after a vote ensuring the passage of the crime bill.CreditCreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Joe Biden has been attacked by politicians on the left — and now, thanks to Donald Trump, on the right — for his role in shepherding the 1994 crime bill through Congress. One of these attacks is simply cynical. The other is dangerous.

For those whose memories of early 1990s America are either foggy or nonexistent, it’s worth recalling what life in much of urban America was like back then. A sample:

“The death yesterday of a 41-year-old armed security guard from Long Island was not an uncommon occurrence in East New York,” The Times reported on Dec. 20, 1993. “Indeed, it followed 13 other killings in the 75th Precinct in the last nine days.”

“What was uncommon about the killing,” the report continued, “was that it broke a 20-year record for homicides in a single precinct, although with a footnote. Maurice Matola, the victim, was by unofficial count the 124th person killed this year in the 75th Precinct. … Last night, a shooting on Georgia Avenue made Anthony Broadnax, 17, the 125th person killed.”

Fast-forward more than two decades to another story in The Times about the same neighborhood. “Once the ‘Killing Fields,’ East New York Has No Murders in 2018,” ran an April 2018 headline, noting that the neighborhood had experienced a 129-day stretch without homicides. Citywide, New York ended last year with just under 300 murders, down 85 percent from the 1,960 it suffered in 1993.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Here is good work by Bret Stephens. He goes a bit off when he calls the work of Steven Levitt, which appeared in “Freakonomics,” as flaky. His link went to: “THE IMPACT OF LEGALIZED ABORTION ON CRIME* JOHN J. DONOHUE III AND STEVEN D. LEVITT “We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed signiŽcantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly eighteen years after abortion legalization. The Žve states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.” The work described so well in Freakonomics showed that the legalization did show a favorable correlation with the future drop in crime, and was in some ways more compelling than the so called police reforms, which didn’t work everywhere they were tried. They worked mostly where abortion had been legallized earlier than Roe v Wade. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com