Opinion | Refusing to Wear a Mask Is Like Driving Drunk – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“As the coronavirus rages out of control across much of the United States, Americans are acting curiously helpless.

If we had been this passive in 1776, we would still be part of Britain. Yet even as we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, we don’t seem willing to assert independence from a virus that in four months has killed more Americans than the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars did over 70 years.

Here’s the simplest of steps we could take: Wear a face mask.

In the United States, mask-wearing lags, particularly among men, compared with some other countries. A poll finds that many American men regard the wearing of face masks as “a sign of weakness,” and President Trump’s refusal to wear them has suggested that he perceives that masks are for wimps.

Trump may now be switching gears, for he told Fox Business on Wednesday that he’s “all for masks” and would wear one if he were “in a tight situation with people.” He shouldn’t waste time: He should tweet a photo of himself in a mask and call on supporters to wear masks as well. Refusing to cover one’s face is reckless, selfish behavior that imperils the economy and can kill or endanger innocent people.”

Opinion | Trump Is Feeding America’s Coronavirus Nightmare – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

“President Trump says the coronavirus is “fading away” and pats himself on the back for “a great job on CoronaVirus” that saved “millions of U.S. lives.”

“It’s going away,” Trump said Tuesday at a packed megachurch in Phoenix where few people wore masks.

That’s what delusion sounds like. We need a Churchill to lead our nation against a deadly challenge; instead, we have a president who helps an enemy virus infiltrate our churches and homes. Churchill and Roosevelt worked to deceive the enemy; Trump is trying to deceive us.

For a reality check, look at this map by my colleague Nathaniel Lash showing how much of America is trending in the wrong direction.”

David Lindsay:  This dark op-ed reminds me that I read a piece about an actor discussing the teaching dialects. He said he had a favorite off color joke about giving someone a good Irish accent, only I don’t remember it well, something like, just say the following words quickly, and sort of run them together.
Weave,     beaf,      hooked.

 

Opinion | China’s Man in Washington, Named Trump – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Nobody has been tougher on China than me,” President Trump has declared repeatedly, and he is trying to exploit anti-China feelings for his re-election. He portrays Joe Biden as soft on China, and his backers have run ads denouncing “Beijing Biden.”

All that is preposterous, for it is Trump who has been China’s stooge, a sycophantic flatterer and enabler of President Xi Jinping. If that wasn’t already evident, John Bolton’s new book, “The Room Where It Happened,” portrays Trump as practically kowtowing to Xi.

The kowtow meant prostrating oneself before the emperor or a patriarch and knocking one’s head on the ground. Today it takes the form of a fawning American president publicly declaring, “President Xi loves the people of China” and hailing Xi’s “very capable” handling of the coronavirus.

I’ve been gasping as I read an advance copy of Bolton’s book, particularly his chapter on relations with China, because China policy perfectly captures Trump’s soaring hypocrisy wrapped in venal incompetence.

 

The passage in the book that got the most attention concerns a telephone conversation between Trump and Xi last year.

“He [Trump] then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes.

The government clearance process redacted Trump’s exact words, but Vanity Fair says he told Xi, “Make sure I win.”

Opinion | When Antifa Hysteria Sweeps America – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Amy Moss Strong/The World

“What can we possibly make of the crisis that unfolded in the remote Oregon seaside town of Coquille?

Coquille is a sleepy logging community of 3,800 people, almost all of them white. It is miles and miles from nowhere. Portland is 250 miles to the north. San Francisco is 500 miles to the south.

But Fox News is in a frenzy about rioters and looters, and President Trump warns about the anti-fascist movement known as antifa. So early this month as a small group of local residents planned a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest in Coquille, word raced around that three busloads of antifa activists were headed to Coquille to bust up the town.

The sheriff and his deputies donned bulletproof vests, prepared their MRAP armored vehicle and took up positions to fight off the invasion. Almost 200 local people, some shouldering rifles and others holding flags, gathered to protect their town (overshadowing the handful of people who had come to wave Black Lives Matter signs).”

“. . . .  Race-baiting extremists have also tried to manipulate public fears. One Twitter account purportedly run by an antifa group, @Antifa_US, announced on May 31 that “tonight’s the night … we move into the residential areas … the white hoods … and we take what’s ours.” But Twitter said that the account was actually run by white supremacists posing as antifa.

These antifa panics are where racism and hysteria intersect, in a nation that has more guns than people. They arise when a lying president takes every opportunity not to heal our national divisions but to stoke them, when people live in a news ecosystem that provides no reality check but inflames prejudices and feeds fears.

You might think that this kind of hysteria would be self-correcting: Citizens would see that no antifa people show up and then realize that they had been manipulated by people who treat them as dummies. But the narrative actually gaining traction in some quarters is that guns forced the antifa to back off.   . . . . “

Opinion | When It Works to ‘Defund the Police’ – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

““Defund the police” is a catchy phrase, but some Americans hear it and imagine a home invasion, a frantic call to 911 — and then no one answering the phone.

That’s not going to happen. Rather, here’s a reassuring example of how defunding has worked in practice.

In the 1990s, both the United States and Portugal were struggling with how to respond to illicit narcotics. The United States doubled down on the policing toolbox, while Portugal followed the advice of experts and decriminalized the possession even of hard drugs.

So in 2001, Portugal, to use today’s terminology, defunded the police for routine drug cases. Small-time users get help from social workers and access to free methadone from roving trucks.

This worked — not perfectly, but pretty well. As I found when I reported from Portugal a few years ago, the number of heroin users there fell by three-quarters and the overdose fatality rate was the lowest in Western Europe. Meanwhile, after decades of policing, the United States was losing about 70,000 Americans a year from overdoses. In effect, Portugal appeared to be winning the war on drugs by ending it.

That’s the idea behind “Defund the Police” as most conceive it — not to eliminate every police officer but to reimagine ways to make us safe that don’t necessarily involve traditional law enforcement”

Opinion | Trump Uses the Military to Prove His Manhood – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“For two decades, the United States has repeatedly made the mistake of over-relying on the military toolbox to try to solve intractable problems — particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq — without adequately relying on diplomacy. Now President Trump wants to repeat the mistake at home.

The United States military is, according to Gallup polling, the most trusted institution in the country. But Trump’s call to dispatch armed forces to crush protests so that he can look tough betrays the military’s nonpartisan tradition and should trigger all our alarm bells.

It was exactly 31 years ago that I covered the Chinese military’s assault on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. There was outrage worldwide, with virtually the only praise in the West coming from … Donald Trump.

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it,” Trump told Playboy Magazine months later. “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.” “

“. . . Rioting and looting are deplorable of course, and it’s great that protesters have tried to stop the looters. Police forces are available, so it’s baffling to hear Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, suggest sending in the 101st Airborne Division. We need not turn American cities into Falluja.

When you’ve seen the ugliness of war, you don’t lightly summon tanks, helicopters or heavily armed troops to deal with civil disturbances; that’s a dangerous and damaging tactic of an insecure old man who claimed heel spurs to dodge the Vietnam draft and now needs to prove his own manhood.”

Opinion | Crumbs for the Hungry but Windfalls for the Rich – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Cristobal Herrera/EPA, via Shutterstock

“While President Trump and his allies in Congress seek to tighten access to food stamps, they are showing compassion for one group: zillionaires. Their economic rescue package quietly allocated $135 billion — yes, that’s “billion” with a “b” — for the likes of wealthy real estate developers.

My Times colleague Jesse Drucker notes that Trump himself, along with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may benefit financially from this provision. The fine print was mysteriously slipped into the March economic relief package, even though it has nothing to do with the coronavirus and offers retroactive tax breaks for periods long before Covid-19 arrived.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, both Democrats, have asked the Trump administration for any communications that illuminate how this provision sneaked into the 880-page bill. (Officially, the provision is called “Modification of Limitation on Losses for Taxpayers Other Than Corporations,” but that’s camouflage; I prefer to call it the “Zillionaire Giveaway.”)

About 82 percent of the Zillionaire Giveaway goes to those earning more than $1 million a year, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. Of those beneficiaries earning more than $1 million annually, the average benefit is $1.6 million.

In other words, a single mom juggling two jobs gets a maximum $1,200 stimulus check — and then pays taxes so that a real estate mogul can receive $1.6 million. This is dog-eat-dog capitalism for struggling workers, and socialism for the rich.”

Opinion | McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Pity Us – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Thibault Savary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“President Trump thunders that Democrats are trying to drag America toward “socialism,” Vice President Mike Pence warns that Democrats aim to “impose socialism on the American people,” and even some Democrats warn against becoming, as one put it, “[expletive] Denmark.”

So, before the coronavirus pandemic, I crept behind [expletive] Danish lines to explore: How scary is Denmark? How horrifying would it be if the United States took a step or two in the direction of Denmark? Would America lose its edge, productivity and innovation, or would it gain well-being, fairness and happiness?

So, here, grab a Danish, and we’ll chat about how a [expletive] progressive country performs under stress. The pandemic interrupted my reporting, but I’d be safer if I still were in Denmark: It has had almost twice as much testing per capita as the United States and fewer than half as many deaths per capita.

Put it this way: More than 35,000 Americans have already died in part because the United States could not manage the pandemic as deftly as Denmark.

Denmark lowered new infections so successfully that last month it reopened elementary schools and day care centers as well as barber shops and physical therapy centers. Malls and shops will be allowed to reopen on Monday, and restaurants and cafes a week later.

Moreover, Danes kept their jobs. The trauma of massive numbers of people losing jobs and health insurance, of long lines at food banks — that is the American experience, but it’s not what’s happening in Denmark. America’s unemployment rate last month was 14.7 percent, but Denmark’s is hovering in the range of 4 percent to 5 percent.”

Opinion | Trump, the W.H.O., and the Search for a Coronavirus Scapegoat – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Thousands of Americans would be alive today if President Trump had spent more time listening to the World Health Organization instead of trying to destroy it.

Trump’s announcement that he will halt American funding for the W.H.O. just as the world is facing a raging pandemic is a dangerous attempt to find a scapegoat for his own failings. It is like taking away a fire department’s trucks in the middle of a blaze.

Many Americans know nothing about the W.H.O., but its worldwide budget (of which the United States pays about one-fifth) is less than that of some American hospital centers. Yet it is charged with fighting Ebola and polio, saving children’s lives and keeping the world safe from pandemics like this one.

Trump says that he is cutting the funds while his administration reviews the W.H.O.’s handling of the coronavirus. His own pandemic preparedness plan, which he characteristically has failed to implement, called for building support for the W.H.O. — because it’s a critical player to keep Americans safe.”

Opinion | Life and Death as Hospitals Fight the Coronavirus in the Bronx – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

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With an amazing Video

Heartache in the Hot Zone: The Front Line Against Covid-19

Nicholas Kristof visits two New York City hospitals and witnesses the heavy toll on medical workers fighting to keep Americans alive.

“Terror, pain and loneliness mingle in the air with the coronavirus in the “hot zone” of the emergency department at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx. The room is jammed with patients whose frightened eyes peer above their oxygen masks as they struggle to breathe, feel that they are drowning, wonder if they will ever again see loved ones.

No family members are allowed here, yet the space is more than twice as crowded as normal. About 80 coronavirus patients, ranging in age from 31 to 97, are squeezed into the room, bed-to-bed, some near death. A group of newly arrived patients sit in chairs in a corner to await stretchers, and they look around in alarm. Doctors and nurses hurry about so sheathed in protective garb — some of it makeshift, such as welding helmets over ski goggles — that even co-workers cannot recognize them.

The truth is that the doctors too are frightened and exhausted, overwhelmed by death and their own helplessness. Dr. Nicole Del Valle, 29, told me that what shattered her was treating a 30-year-old woman with Covid-19 whose 23-year-old sister had just died of it; Dr. Del Valle called her own younger sister and ordered her not to leave her home.

All day in the hospital, Dr. Del Valle maintains her reassuring manner as she intubates patients, holds their hands, fights for their lives — and then, she acknowledged, she goes home and cries.”