Opinion | Trump and Xi Sittin’ in a Tree – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“I was glad to see the stock market get a boost from the news that Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators were talking again and that President Trump blinked a bit and pulled some of his planned tariffs.

But don’t be fooled. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China are still locked in a cage match over who is the true big dog in today’s global economy. Both are desperate not only to “win,” but to be seen to win, and not be subjected to the scorn of their rivals or critics on social media.

Precisely because neither leader feels he can afford that fate, both have overplayed their hands. Xi basically believes that nothing has to change — and all can be made to stay the same by the force of his will. Trump basically believes that everything has to change — and all can be made to change by the force of his will.

The rest of us are just along for the ride.

Let’s look at both men’s calculations and miscalculations. Trump was right in arguing that America should not continue to tolerate systemic abusive Chinese trade practices — intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, huge government subsidies and nonreciprocal treatment of U.S. companies in China — now that China is virtually America’s technology equal and a rising middle-income country.”

Opinion | Useful Idiots and Trumpist Billionaires – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“Whoever came up with the phrase “useful idiots” — it’s often credited to Lenin, but there’s no evidence he ever said it — was on to something. There are times when dangerous political movements derive important support from people who will, if these movements achieve and hold power, be among their biggest victims.

Certainly I found myself thinking of the phrase when I read about the Trump fund-raiser held at the Hamptons home of Stephen Ross, chairman of a company that holds controlling stakes in Equinox and SoulCycle.

Most reporting on the Ross event has focused on the possible adverse effects on his business empire: The young, educated, urban fitness fanatics who go to his gyms don’t like the idea that their money is supporting Donald Trump. But the foolishness of Ross’s Trump support goes well beyond the potential damage to his bottom line.

I mean, if you’re a billionaire who also happens to be a racist, supporting Trump makes perfect sense: You know what you’re buying. But if you’re supporting Trump not because of his racism but despite it, because you expect him to keep your taxes low, you’re being, well, an idiot.”

Opinion | Trump’s Secret Foreign Aid Program – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

“Donald Trump often complains that the media don’t give him credit for his achievements. And I can think of at least one case where that’s true. As far I can tell, almost nobody is reporting that he has presided over a huge — but hidden — increase in foreign aid, the money America gives to foreigners. In fact, the hidden Trump program, currently running at around $40 billion a year, is probably the biggest giveaway to other nations since the Marshall Plan.

Unfortunately, the aid isn’t going either to poor countries or to America’s allies. Instead, it’s going to wealthy foreign investors.

Before I get there, let’s talk for a second about a claim Trump often makes about a highly visible part of his economic strategy, the tariffs he has imposed on imports from China and other countries. These tariffs, he has insisted again and again, are being paid by China and represent billions in gains to the United States.

This claim is, however, demonstrably false. Tariffs are normally paid by consumers in the importing country, not exporters. And we can confirm that this is what’s happening with the Trump tariffs: Prices of goods subject to those tariffs have risen sharply, roughly in line with the tariff increases, while prices of goods not subject to the new tariffs haven’t gone up.”

Opinion | Joe Biden Is Learning That Liberals Eat Their Own – By David French – The New York Times

By 

Mr. French is a senior writer for National Review and a columnist for Time.

CreditCreditKathryn Gamble for The New York Times

“As a conservative watching the Democratic debates, I found that one of the most astonishing aspects of the multicandidate assault on Joe Biden was that the case against him seems to be based in large measure on his role in two generations of Democratic victories. His “crimes” consist partly in playing crucial roles in the political successes of two previous Democratic presidents — men who were personally so popular that it’s entirely likely that they would have won a theoretical third term.

In key issue after key issue, Mr. Biden isn’t running against the failures of the past. He’s running against the arrogance of the present.

Let’s take, for example, his role in passing Bill Clinton’s signature anti-crime legislation, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Yes, it was tough on crime. It enhanced penalties; it expanded the death penalty; and it funded new police officers and new prison cells. It also included the Violence Against Women Act and an assault weapons ban that wouldn’t have a ghost of a chance of passing Congress today. Moreover, it did not play a material role in mass incarceration, which is a product mainly of state prosecutions, not federal law enforcement.

And what two additional elements do Mr. Biden’s critics miss? First, it was passed with overwhelming Democratic support (including a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus), which means that most of his present critics — had they been in office at the time — would have also voted for the bill.”

Opinion | Why Was Trumponomics a Flop? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

“Donald Trump has pursued two main economic policies. On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business investment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free(ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised would lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, even though the unemployment rate is low and overall economic growth remains decent, though not great. According to Jay Powell, the Fed’s chairman, the goal was to take out some insurance against worrying hints of a future slowdown — in particular, weakness in business investment, which fell in the most recent quarter, and manufacturing, which has been declining since the beginning of the year.

Obviously Powell couldn’t say in so many words that Trumponomics has been a big flop, but that was the subtext of his remarks. And Trump’s frantic efforts to bully the Fed into bigger cuts are an implicit admission of the same thing.

To be fair, the economy remains pretty strong, which isn’t really a surprise given the G.O.P.’s willingness to run huge budget deficits as long as Democrats don’t hold the White House. As I wrote three days after the 2016 election — after the shock had worn off — “It’s at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly.” And that’s pretty much what happened: There was a bit of a bump in 2018, but at this point we’ve basically returned to pre-Trump rates of growth.”

Opinion | Marianne Williamson Knows How to Beat Trump – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

“If only …

If only Donald Trump were not president, we could have an interesting debate over whether private health insurance should be illegal. If only Trump were not president, we could have an interesting debate over who was softest on crime in the 1990s. If only Trump were not president, we could have a nice argument about the pros and cons of NAFTA.

But Trump is president, and this election is not about those things. This election is about who we are as a people, our national character. This election is about the moral atmosphere in which we raise our children.

Trump is a cultural revolutionary, not a policy revolutionary. He operates and is subtly changing America at a much deeper level. He’s operating at the level of dominance and submission, at the level of the person where fear stalks and contempt emerges.

He’s redefining what you can say and how a leader can act. He’s reasserting an old version of what sort of masculinity deserves to be followed and obeyed. In Freudian terms, he’s operating on the level of the id. In Thomistic terms, he is instigating a degradation of America’s soul.”

Opinion | Worst Democratic Strategy Yet: Attack Obama’s Legacy – The New York Times

Timothy Egan

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

ImageBarack Obama, of all people, is now a target for candidates from the left, Tim Egan writes.
CreditCreditAl Drago/The New York Times

“With 66 weeks to go until the election, the Democrats tasked with saving a sinking ship of state have shown that they would rather drown in a sea of self-righteousness than steer the Donald Trump-rotted hulk to a fresh shore.

You know the presidential debates this week were a disaster for Democrats because Republican attack ads are already parroting the lines used by the leading candidates: Take away people’s private health care, decriminalize the border, socialism!

And rather than effectively prosecute the easy case against the worst president ever, the Democrats went after one of the best: Barack Obama. This is a winning strategy only in a world where everyone gets a trophy, which is to say, much of the younger Democratic base.

Debates are supposed to refine and reduce a party’s message. The unwinnable and unpopular are shown to be just that. Crazy falls away. Good ideas rise. A story emerges. A governing strategy is presented. You can imagine the Day After Trump, which is what a majority of the country desperately wants.”

Opinion | Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor’ – by Lara Bazelon – The New York Times

“. . .Worst of all, though, is Ms. Harris’s record in wrongful conviction cases. Consider George Gage, an electrician with no criminal record who was charged in 1999 with sexually abusing his stepdaughter, who reported the allegations years later. The case largely hinged on the stepdaughter’s testimony and Mr. Gage was convicted.

Afterward, the judge discovered that the prosecutor had unlawfully held back potentially exculpatory evidence, including medical reports indicating that the stepdaughter had been repeatedly untruthful with law enforcement. Her mother even described her as “a pathological liar” who “lives her lies.”

In 2015, when the case reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Ms. Harris’s prosecutors defended the conviction. They pointed out that Mr. Gage, while forced to act as his own lawyer, had not properly raised the legal issue in the lower court, as the law required.

The appellate judges acknowledged this impediment and sent the case to mediation, a clear signal for Ms. Harris to dismiss the case. When she refused to budge, the court upheld the conviction on that technicality. Mr. Gage is still in prison serving a 70-year sentence.

That case is not an outlier. Ms. Harris also fought to keep Daniel Larsen in prison on a 28-year-to-life sentence for possession of a concealed weapon even though his trial lawyer was incompetent and there was compelling evidence of his innocence. Relying on a technicality again, Ms. Harris argued that Mr. Larsen failed to raise his legal arguments in a timely fashion. (This time, she lost.)

She also defended Johnny Baca’s conviction for murder even though judges found a prosecutor presented false testimony at the trial. She relented only after a video of the oral argument received national attention and embarrassed her office.

And then there’s Kevin Cooper, the death row inmate whose trial was infected by racism and corruption. He sought advanced DNA testing to prove his innocence, but Ms. Harris opposed it. (After The New York Times’s exposé of the case went viral, she reversed her position.)

All this is a shame because the state’s top prosecutor has the power and the imperative to seek justice. In cases of tainted convictions, that means conceding error and overturning them. Rather than fulfilling that obligation, Ms. Harris turned legal technicalities into weapons so she could cement injustices.”

David Lindsay:  In ancient China, if a mandarin was caught giving a harsh sentence, such as life at hard labor, or death, to an innocent person, he had to take the same penalty that he had given out incorrectly.  By that arguably fair standard, Kamala Harris should be incarcerated with a death penalty.

Opinion | Winners and Losers of the Democratic Debate- Night 2 – The New York Times

 

Good reading. I agree with Ross Douthat, that Joe Biden was the real winner of the first debate.  Here is a comment, after the second debate, that I endorsed:

Eric Cosh
Phoenix, Arizona
Times Pick

I pretty much agree with most of the columnist of what they thought about the debate last night. However, what really matters is “What did the voting public think?” That’s all that really matters. My 2 cents is I thought the moderators really won last night! Their questions were really thought out and they kept the ball rolling. I’m not sure if anyone’s mind is made up just by debates. Where we tend to get deeper into their “souls” is one on one. After last night, I’m still kind of holding onto Joe to beat Trump. Having said that, I’ve now narrowed the field down to just Three! Biden, Warren & Booker. What I do see are some very good cabinet posts, excluding De Blasio.

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David Lindsay:  What I would add to the above comment, is that I’m still greatly enamored with Pete Buttigieg, and he is so young, that he is my first choice for vice president for Joe Biden,

Opinion | Winners and Losers of the Democratic Debate – The New York Times

About the authors

“Charles Blow, Jamelle Bouie, Gail Collins, Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, Michelle Goldberg, Nicholas Kristof, David Leonhardt, and Bret Stephens are Times columnists.

Liz Mair, a strategist for campaigns by Scott Walker, Roy Blunt, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry, is the founder and president of Mair Strategies.

Gracy Olmstead is a writer who contributes to The American Conservative, The Week, The Washington Post and other publications.

Sarah Vowell, a contributing opinion writer, is the author of “The Wordy Shipmates” and “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.”

Peter Wehner a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the previous three Republican administrations and is a contributing opinion writer, as well as the author of “The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.”

Will Wilkinson is a contributing opinion writer and the vice president for research at the Niskanen Center.”