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 | Bad Times in Trumpville – by Gail Collins – The New York Times

“Gee, you wake up one morning and the entire political world is transformed.

I know some of you were very sad about the way the Mueller report let Donald Trump off the hook. Even if you secretly doubted that he was actually well-organized enough to run an international conspiracy, it made you depressed to see him looking so happy.

But then he took off on the worst victory lap since — well, do you remember that baseball player who celebrated his grand slam home run by leaping in the air and fracturing a leg?

“We’re not talking about health care right now, but I will,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

He also vowed to make the Republicans “the party of health care.” Great strategy! The Republicans have no health care plan or even a plan about how to get one. Trying to get rid of Obamacare had been their most humiliating failure in the two years they controlled the White House and Congress. Last thing in the world they want to bring up.”

 

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT comments
Thank you Gail, magnificent. Very annoying, that reference to cruel April, what are you talking about. With out Google, I’d just be a frustrated illiterate. But I did find something about Thomas Stearns Elliot, who wrote The Wasteland, at PoetryFoundation.org: The Waste Land BY T. S. ELIOT FOR EZRA POUND IL MIGLIOR FABBRO I. The Burial of the Dead April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s, My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free.”
The rest can be found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land but it’s not my cup of tea.
Written in 1922, Elliot was depressed, getting divorced, and shook up by WW 1. Maybe it will be easier to read after lunch. Maybe I have a tin uneducated ear, or in my focus on mitigating climate change, its seems like depressing rubbish. I’d rather read the NYT.

Opinion | Let’s Destroy Robocalls – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By Gail Collins
Opinion Columnist
March 1, 2019, 842
Congress may have found an issue that all Americans can rally around.

Stopping robocalls.

“All right — a little depressing that it can’t be world peace or affordable health care. But let’s take what we can get. If our elected officials could join hands and lead us into a world where phones are no longer an instrument of torture, maybe it’d give them enough confidence to march forward and, um, fund some bridge repair.

Everybody has always hated telemarketers, particularly the ones trying to sell some shady product. And now the miracles of technology let them follow you around all day. When I’m home, I feel as if I spend half my time blocking robocalls on our landline. Yet somehow a different number always pops up, with great news about opportunities to reinsure my nonexistent car at low prices or acquire a cost-free knee brace.

The knee brace thing is a scam to get money out of Medicare, but in order to figure that out you’d have to engage in conversation. People, do not ever talk on the phone with a stranger wielding free knee braces. This can be a life rule.

Things are at least as bad on mobile phones, which were the lucky recipients of 48 billion robocalls in the United States alone last year.”

Opinion | Oh No- Trump Is Buzzing! – by Gail Collins – NYT

“On Wednesday we had a Presidential Alert test. Did you hear it? Your cellphone probably started beeping madly. It was just a run-through to make sure you’d get the warning if some terrible disaster was headed your way.

You mean like Donald Trump?

No, no, no. We’re talking about hurricanes. Or maybe missiles. The Presidential Alert means he’s warning you, not shooting at you.

Are you sure? Because I was watching him at a couple of events over the last week and he seemed pretty darned … excitable.

No, I swear this isn’t a problem. The president doesn’t really send the alerts. It’s the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

DL: Yes, and here is the top comment:
Mike Roddy
Alameda, CaOct. 3
We recently returned from three weeks in Paris, where we had plenty of chances to ask the French what they thought was going on in America. The main response was not horror, but sadness, and pity for a country whose people have to answer to someone with the mind of a delinquent teenage boy.

The French have been there before to some extent: the Bourbons, Napoleon, even Petain, Hitler’s puppet during the Nazi Occupation.
What they and most other countries have never encountered is a global leader who tells lies every day of his life, and openly fantasizes about suppressing democracy and good deeds any way he can.

Trump is such an easy target that they don’t much bother to attack him. Instead, look at us with sadness, while offering condolences.

The Republicans can do vast damage between now and 2020, and given election chicanery and Fox/Sinclair/Limbaugh, they might stick around longer. The biggest danger for the American economy is that our “brand” is now in tatters. Forget about finding allies for another failed occupation. We won’t even be able to sell Crest toothpaste or Mattel toys abroad. When that happens, it will be too late.

The best hope is a new and transformative leader in 2020, one who won’t pull punches about the horrors of Trump/Republican/corporate rule and will be willing to make drastic changes. First step: do something serious about onrushing global warming, and show the rest of the world that we stand with all of them.

690 Recommended

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 | Of Time- Tides and Trump –  – The New York Times

“O.K., I know you’re obsessed about sex and the Supreme Court. But the hurricane flooding in North Carolina has been terrible. Let’s give it some serious thought right now.

Particularly when it comes to ways the government screwed up. First lesson is easy. Coastal flooding is getting way, way worse because of global warming. So obviously we’ve got to join other nations in combating this universally recognized threat.

Hahahahaha.

Yeah, yeah. President Trump does not believe in climate change. Who among us can forget the time he claimed the whole idea was a Chinese plot to ruin American manufacturing?

Maybe he’ll evolve. After all, Trump does occasionally show some concern for nature. When he visited North Carolina on Wednesday, he particularly inquired about the well-being of the state’s Lake Norman. (“I love that area — I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.”)”

DL: Keep reading, Trump has a golf course there.
We all need some light reading for a change.

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 | Sex- Trump and Cecile – by Gail Collins – NYT

“Cecile Richards just finished her Planned Parenthood farewell tour. Lots to reminisce about. But let’s start with her famous meeting with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

It was after the election, and Javanka wanted to share their great idea for bridging the gap between Planned Parenthood and the new Republican administration.

“You have to give everybody a chance,” Richards said mildly.The couple proposed that Planned Parenthood simply give up abortion services, and then let Jared lobby Congress for more family planning funding. It was a little like suggesting to Mark Zuckerberg that he could get past his business problems if he dropped the part about being on the internet.

“I guess I was just shocked at how naïve they seemed,” Richards mused in a recent interview.Ivanka, Richards recalled, also felt “I didn’t appreciate” her father’s supportiveness during the presidential debates. Donald Trump did indeed say “millions of women” were helped by Planned Parenthood, before adding that he would defund it anyway “because I’m pro-life.” Details, details.

Richards, 60, has had a long career in organizing and politics. She took over Planned Parenthood 12 years ago when George W. Bush was president. He was a strong abortion opponent, but from her current perch, it definitely seems like the good old days.

“Look, the Bush administration was not friendly to reproductive rights,” she said. “But they weren’t ideologues. They didn’t try to dismantle family planning.””

David Lindsay: Makes you want to laugh and cry. Thank you Gail Collins.

Here are the most popular comments, which I also endorsed:

albval
Oakland, CA

I work for Planned Parenthood. Cecile is a beloved hero.

She is brilliant, measured, and empathic. She wants only the best for women–all women (and men). All races, all income levels, all creeds. She wants us to have health care, and choices–whatever choices are best for us, individually.

Why is this a controversial concept in 2018?

NM commented May 11

N
NM

Ms. Richards, like the employees and volunteers of Planned Parenthood, has a level of courage and selflessness unimaginable to Trump and far right ideologues who self righteously deny people crucial medical services, including family planning.

RKD commented May 11

R
RKD
Park Slope, NY

Support Arpaio, beat up on Richards. Defund Planned Parenthood and also CHIP & SNAP so there’re more babies w/ less support. This regime is not just hypocritical but illogical & unreasonable. I really enjoy donating to Planned Parenthood in Pence’s name – makes it feel as if I’m having fun as well as doing good.

Socrates commented 11 hours ago

Socrates
Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ

Thank you for your service, Cecile Richards, in the face of America’s Christian Crusaders’ Endless War On Poor Women.

Unwanted pregnancy is four times as common – and unwanted birth is seven times as common – among poor women as among non-poor women.

After implementing its Family Planning Initiative, teen births and abortions dropped by nearly half in Colorado when poor women had access to no-cost/low-cost long-acting IUDs.

And Colorado saved $66 million in public assistance it would have spent on hospital bills and welfare payments.

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/cfpi-report

Colorado Republicans briefly defunded program because it was successful, it made sense and saved the state millions, but they miraculously came to their senses and restored funding.

But most lunatic conservatives still can’t stand poor women.

“How shocking Colorado legislators care naught about the health risks for our daughters and granddaughters,” said Leslie Hanks, spokesperson for American Right to Life. “They care not a whit about their physical, emotional, nor spiritual health.”

Yes, Ms. Hanks, if those legislators had showed a deeper and more passionate commitment to forced pregnancies and Christian Shariah Law, America’s poor women would be so much better off.

The #1 cause of unwanted pregnancies and high abortion rates is conservative Christianity and Trumpian politics.

As Michelle Wolf said, Ivanka is “about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons.”

Nice GOPeople.

 

‘Hush Money’ Now Playing Everywhere – Gail Collins and Bret Stephens – NYT

“Speaking of which, I know we’re in agreement about the gun issue, and nearly everybody was moved by the marches over the weekend. But I still do wonder why the country was so totally mobilized by what happened in Florida when the response to previous disasters — for God’s sake, grade-school kids in Newtown — was so comparatively muted.

Do you think it was because these survivors are older and so articulate? Or that having Trump in the White House made everyone more sensitive to moral issues? I even wondered if it was because this time it happened in a political barometer-state like Florida.Bret: All of the above, I suspect. The Parkland students have spoken out to magnificent effect, something the Newtown children were simply too young to do for themselves.

I also get the sense that the pace of these atrocities has accelerated. Before Parkland it was the church shooting in Sutherland Springs. Before that, the concertgoers in Las Vegas. Before that, the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise at the baseball field near Washington. Maybe, at some level of the national psyche, we understood that we we’re coming dangerously close to accepting these atrocities as an accepted fact of life. Defining deviancy down for the sake of Wayne LaPierre’s N.R.A.? No, thank you.

Gail: Whenever I feel depressed I remind myself that the N.R.A. is having its worst year ever.Bret: One of the paradoxes of the Trump presidency is that it has galvanized the country in all sorts of positive ways. From Charlottesville to l’Affaire Stormy, he has brought to the surface all sorts of ugliness that is simply unignorable. For instance, do you think the #MeToo movement would have taken hold the way it did if he weren’t in the White House?

Gail: It’s a necessary stage in women’s progress — socially and economically — so we’d have gotten there anyway. But having the worst-possible male image in the White House probably propelled things forward faster.

I guess you could say he’s so bad he’s making us better.

David Lindsay: Yes. Here is one of many good comments:

R. Law is a trusted commenter Texas 2 hours ago
Gail, you say:

“But I still do wonder why the country was so totally mobilized by what happened in Florida when the response to previous disasters — for God’s sake, grade-school kids in Newtown — was so comparatively muted.”

Partly this was because Parkland had just been named the safest city in Florida, partly this was because the city is only a 1/2 hour drive from Mar-a-Loco (the southern asylum), but mostly, it’s because Broward County tax-payers support a school district that EDUCATES their kids – the schools require public speaking instruction from an early age and THIS year, the kids in high school were already debating gun control, as all aptly described by Dahlia Lithwick’s article:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-student-activists-of-mar…

There’s really a wonderful story here of actual, comprehensive public education that deserves more focus, which raises standards in surrounding counties as it partly bleeds over into the way Miami-Dade’s schools are run by the superintendent that NYC unsuccessfully tried to lure as its Schools Chancellor.

Kudos to Broward County tax-payers, and to the educators who devised/implementedthe excellent curriculum to motivate future leaders to excel, producing such dynamic, well-spoken young leaders !”
195 Recommended

Trump Really Wants His Wingman – by Gail Collins. Lindsay and Schomaker respond.

“Donald Trump may be going to Korea! Also, to Moon Township, Pa.!

While the president’s plan to have direct talks with the North Koreans is fascinating, in a sort of unnerving way, right now we’re going to look at the Moon Township angle. There’s a special House election coming up on Tuesday, and it’s perfectly possible that when it comes to international détente versus the 18th Congressional District, the White House’s real fixation is western Pennsylvania.

The 18th C.D. is at the heart of the white, working-class vote that won Trump the Electoral College. It also has wildly gerrymandered borders aimed at guaranteeing Republican control unless the incumbent does something incredible, like championing anti-abortion legislation after hinting to his mistress that she ought to get an abortion if she’s pregnant.

Whoops. That was Representative Tim Murphy. Gone but not forgotten.

So there’s this special election, which features Democrat Conor Lamb, a handsome young former federal prosecutor, versus Rick Saccone, a Republican state representative who is hanging onto Donald Trump like — um, we will not say Stormy Daniels. That would be totally tacky, and this is a serious political moment. We’ll just say that Saccone says he wants to go to Washington and be the president’s “wingman.”

David Lindsay:
We gave a modest donation to Conor Lamb today—$20. Kathleen Schomaker and I decided to do this after reading about him in the NY Times during the last two weeks, and I probably posted some of those articles to blog 1, InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. Today, Gail Collins’ piece put us over the top. But then I hesitated.
Should we support this insurgency in the rust belt of Pennsylvania? Sun Tsu, in The Art of War, wrote that the best attack is a surprise attack. Should we hold our very limited powder and shot for the November 2018 election, so as not to warn the right wing billionaires that they have to do even more to secure their electoral gains?
I have read in the NYT recently that the Trumpistas are calling all hands to make sure their surrogate wins this special election, since Trump won this district by 20%. They do not want the resistance to see that they can draw blood. However, this is not a military battle in southern China, but a political awakening of the diverse progressive sub-groups in the United States, who don’t regularly bother to go to the polls and vote, and of white working class folk, who are realizing that Trump is an environmental, political and economic disaster for the nation and the world.
While there is a small danger that early progressive victories might invigorate Trump’s billionaire financial supporters, we decided that there is a bigger benefit to drawing blood, and creating some sense that Americans can work together to fight the propaganda and fake news of the Trumpistas and the right-wing oil and gas and media billionaires.