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

Opinion | If Politics Is All About Pushing Hot Buttons, Is There Anything That Can Cool Us Down? – Gail Collins and Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“Bret: As for Biden, I’m warming to him fast. It’s not that I agree with him on policy questions — I don’t agree with most Democrats in the field. Nor do I think he’s the cleverest guy ever to run for president. But I admire his obvious decency, his knowledge of Washington, his lack of partisan rancor and the reassurance he would bring to both America and the world that a sane and decent person sits in the Oval Office. I also like the fact that he doesn’t feel the need to pre-emptively cringe in the face of his party’s left-wing Furies.

Oh, and he can trounce Trump, which is more than can be said for most of his Democratic rivals. Isn’t that worth cheering?

Gail: Nothing against Joe Biden, but I keep thinking — gee, can’t we do better? Yeah, he’s a very nice guy, and, yeah, he’s running a moderate campaign that could appeal to a lot of centrists.

But Bret, he’s been around forever and he’s never captured the national imagination except, of course, during the heartbreaking death of his son. Obviously I’d vote for him if he’s the nominee, but that’s a pretty depressing prospect so early in the game.

And wait a minute — weren’t you a Mayor Pete fan?

Bret: I developed a (one-sided) emotional connection with Biden after his son died of brain cancer, partly because it happened not long after my dad and his sister, who was very dear to me, also died of brain cancer within a few months of each other. People who have experienced profound loss and suffering generally have a stronger claim to leadership than those who haven’t. It’s what Aeschylus wrote: “Pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.””

Opinion | The U.S. Military: Like the French at Agincourt? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

United States Navy carrier strike groups on Wednesday in the Mediterranean Sea.CreditU.S. Navy/U.S. Navy, via Getty Images

“Early on a Sunday morning in 1932, a fleet of some 150 fighters, dive-bombers and torpedo planes struck the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The ships lying at anchor on Battleship Row sustained direct hits. Also hit were the base’s fuel storage tanks and the Army Air Corps planes parked nearby at Hickam Field.

The surprise was as complete as it was devastating. Only this was an Army-Navy war game, the attackers were American pilots operating from the carriers Saratoga and Lexington, and the bombs they dropped were sacks of flour.

The lesson of “Grand Joint Exercise 4,” as it was called, is that forewarned is not always forearmed. It took the actual sinking of much of the U.S. battle fleet nearly a decade later to bring the lesson home to U.S. military planners that the age of the carrier had arrived.

Fast forward to 2006, when a small Chinese diesel-electric submarine surfaced well within torpedo-firing range from the 80,000-ton Kitty Hawk, having gone undetected by the carrier and her escorts. That incident ought to have been a loud wake-up call to the Navy that the age of the super-carrier is drawing to a close just as surely as the age of the battleship was coming to an end by the 1930s.”

“. . . . The question is also at the heart of an incisive and important essay in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs by Christian Brose, the former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The traditional model of U.S. military power is being disrupted, the way Blockbuster’s business model was amid the rise of Amazon and Netflix,” Brose writes. “A military made up of small numbers of large, expensive, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace systems will not survive on future battlefields, where swarms of intelligent machines will deliver violence at a greater volume and higher velocity than ever before.”

The logic here is the same as the one that decided the Battle of Agincourt, where the humble and effective English longbow made short work of the expensive and vulnerable French cavalry. Today’s version of that cavalry consists of aircraft carriers priced at $13 billion apiece and fighter jets that go for $90 million (and cost $30,000 an hour to fly).”

– Opinion | Is Trump Keyser Söze — Or Inspector Clouseau? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

March 28, 2019

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“President Trump speaking to the media after a summary of the Mueller report’s findings was released.
Credit
Tom Brenner for The New York Times

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President Trump speaking to the media after a summary of the Mueller report’s findings was released.CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
Maybe we’ve had this all wrong.

Maybe Donald Trump isn’t just some two-bit con artist who lucked his way into the White House thanks to an overconfident opponent. Or a second-rate demagogue with a rat-like instinct for arousing his base’s baser emotions and his enemies’ knee-jerk reactions. Or a dimwit mistaken for an oracle, like some malignant version of Chauncey Gardiner from “Being There.”

Thanks to Robert Mueller, we know he isn’t Russia’s man inside, awaiting coded instruction from his handler in the Kremlin.

Maybe, in fact, Trump is the genius he claims to be, possessed — as he likes to boast — of a “very good brain.”

O.K., I don’t quite believe that. But going forward, it would be wise for all of his inveterate critics in the news media, including me, to treat it as our operating assumption. The alternative is to let him hand us our butts all over again, just as he did by winning the G.O.P. nomination and then the election, and then by presiding over years of robust economic growth.”

Opinion | The Midterm Results Are a Warning to the Democrats – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“For months we’ve heard from sundry media apocalypticians that this year’s midterms were the last exit off the road to autocracy. On Tuesday, the American people delivered a less dramatic verdict about the significance of the occasion.

In a word: meh.

Are you interested in seeing Donald Trump voted out of office in two years? I hope so — which is why you should think hard about that “meh.” This week’s elections were, at most, a very modest rebuke of a president reviled by many of his opponents, this columnist included, as an unprecedented danger to the health of liberal democracy at home and abroad. The American people don’t entirely agree.

We might consider listening to them a bit more — and to ourselves somewhat less.

The 28-seat swing that gave Democrats control of the House wasn’t even half the 63 seats Republicans won in 2010. Yet even that shellacking (to use Barack Obama’s word) did nothing to help Mitt Romney’s chances two years later. The Republican gain in the Senate (the result in Arizona isn’t clear at this writing) was more predictable in a year when so many red-state Democrats were up for re-election. But it underscores what a non-wave election this was.

It also underscores that while “the Resistance” is good at generating lots of votes, it hasn’t figured out how to turn the votes into seats. Liberals are free to bellyache all they want that they have repeatedly won the overall popular vote for the presidency and Congress while still losing elections, and that the system is therefore “rigged.””

Opinion | Trump- Terror- and the ‘No Guardrails’ Presidency – By Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist, Nov. 1, 2018 264

Visitors at a a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Monday.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

“Maybe we should refer to Saturday’s massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, along with the campaign of mail bombs that preceded it, as “man-caused disasters.”

That was the euphemism then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano used in lieu of the word “terrorism” during congressional testimony in 2009. Conservatives like me never let her live it down. How can you address a problem if you won’t even call it by its proper name?

Conservatives objected again when President Obama went to great lengths to use the acronym ISIL or ISIS instead of Islamic State, lest there be any association between a religion and the barbaric deeds carried out in its name. And we objected a third time when liberals tried to suggest that personal derangement, not Islamist sympathies, explained acts like Omar Mateen’s 2016 rampage at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

So conservatives should be just as clear about what we saw last week. There is no reason to think that Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers and alleged Florida mail bomber Cesar Sayoc are “deranged.” There is every reason to believe their acts are politically motivated. They are not “crazies” in the category of Gabrielle Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner. They are terrorists in the class of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, or Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.”

Opinion | Supreme Confusion – Gail Collins and Bret Stephens – NYT

“Bret Stephens: Good morning, Gail. I know we’ll have plenty to say about Blasey v. Kavanaugh today, but, first, Rod Rosenstein! The Times had a bombshell story last week saying the deputy attorney general felt so badly used by President Trump last year after the firing of James Comey that he considered wearing a wire to record the president’s ranting. Rosenstein denied it categorically and the Republican establishment urged Trump not to fire him.

First thing Monday morning, news breaks that Rosenstein is close to resigning. Or not. Two questions for you. First, should we rename Eighth Avenue, where we converse, “Avenue of the Rosenstein?” Second, is this the beginning of the end for the Trump presidency or the beginning of the end for the Justice Department?

Gail Collins: Yow, Bret. What was that old Chinese curse about living in interesting times?

I have a lot more faith in the staying power of the Justice Department than in the staying power of the president. But we’ll see. And renaming Eighth Avenue — you know the way Rosenstein’s fate has been bouncing around, I’m thinking maybe we could find him a nice traffic rotary upstate.

Bret: If Trump fires Rosenstein, he gets rid of the guy who has been Robert Mueller’s main protector at Justice. Yet firing him on charges of insubordination means believing that the Fake News got the story about Rosenstein’s 25th Amendment musings right. This may be the ultimate Trumpian dilemma.”

Opinion | Resign- Mike Pompeo. Resign- John Bolton. – by Bret Stephens – NYT

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Before the word “resignation” became a euphemism for being fired, it connoted a sense of public integrity and personal honor. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, showed both qualities when they resigned from the Nixon administration during the Saturday Night Massacre in 1973. Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, did likewise when he resigned during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

Assuming Mike Pompeo and John Bolton still have their own senses intact, they too should resign following the epic disgrace of the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki on Monday. So should their senior staff.

I don’t suggest this lightly. I’ve known both men for years, respect them, and wrote friendly columns when they took their current jobs. I share many of their hawkish views, and have applauded some of the administration’s controversial foreign policy decisions, particularly the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

I’m also cognizant of two factors weighing against resignation. First, cabinet members and other senior White House officials owe a president deep loyalty whatever their policy differences — the sort of loyalty George Marshall showed when he declined to resign as secretary of state despite his fierce opposition to Harry Truman’s decision to recognize Israel.

via Opinion | Resign, Mike Pompeo. Resign, John Bolton. – The New York Times

David Linday

I agree with those commenters who say the president has committed treason. Here is comment that I also endorsed though:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By continuing to serve the president, Pompeo and Bolton and their top aides are not — as they doubtlessly tell themselves in humiliating moments like this one — cleaning up after him. They are covering up for him.”

I’d use another word: “enabling,.” As they sit their silently, clearly uncomfortable with, hints of benign smiles on their faces, they form a wall of complicity with a president who is out for himself, even if that means embracing an autocrat.

I’ve wondered too just what Pompeo and Bolton are doing by participating in this wretched administration that violates just about everything they’ve stood for all their professional lives.

I may not have agreed with them, but I never doubted their patriotism and desire to serve America.

They look like so many pictures on a wall, disposable, and immovable, with no impact on a presidency run amok.

It’s also tiring to hear the most likely excuse, “if we don’t stay, things will get worse.”

So let them! Let the world and America see the full impact of the president’s folly. Don’t protect him or lend the aura of respectability.

If you can’t rein the president as he blows up 70 years of US foreign policy making, then leave.

Your departures just might bring more Americans to their senses as they follow the Pied Piper of Putin over a cliff.

Opinion | After You- Mr. Putin – By Gail Collins and Bret Stephens – NYT

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

July 17, 2018

607 comments

A demolition derby car in Forks, Wash.CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times
Gail Collins: Bret, there are so many things to say about the Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki. But let me admit that my absolute top take away was that at a critical moment in modern American history, our president managed to mention his winning margin in the Electoral College.

I’m not normally a speechless person but wow. Tell me everything you’re thinking.

Bret Stephens: The 25th Amendment. You know the one: the mechanisms for removal of a president who is manifestly unfit for office.

Gail: To think that just last weekend we thought he was only unfit for office because he was a morally bankrupt egomaniac with a very shady legal history. Those were the days.

Bret: Also, I’m thinking about just what Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and the rest of right-wing punditry would be saying if it had been President Barack Obama at that podium, saying the sort of things Trump was saying, not to mention the way he said it.

via Opinion | After You, Mr. Putin – The New York Times

David Lindsay:   What a great day for opinion and good sentences at the NYT. Brett sounds down right patriotic and apoplectic, somewhat surprising, given that he is a very right wing conservative ideologue.