Opinion | “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other,” Should Be Biden’s Bumper Sticker – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

“I almost — but not quite — feel sorry for Donald Trump. He’s at war with two “invisible enemies” at once — the coronavirus and Joe Biden — and both remain highly elusive, the pathogen by nature and the politician by design.

Biden, who made a rare public appearance on Tuesday, has been wise to stay out of sight. Trump is now in a full-on race to the bottom with himself, pushing uglier and uglier positions that appeal to smaller and smaller segments of the American public. Why get in his way?

Of course, eventually Biden will debate the incumbent and will need a simple, clear message to counter Trump’s tired “Make America Great Again” trope.

I have an idea for Biden’s bumper sticker.

As I think about what kind of president Biden wants to be and what kind of president America needs him to be, the slogan that comes to mind was suggested to me by the environmental innovator Hal Harvey. Harvey didn’t know he was suggesting it; he just happened to sign off a recent email to me by writing: “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other.”

David Lindsay: Thomas Friedman keeps getting great ideas from the environmentalist Hal Harvey, whose short plan for saving the planet is called the four zero’s, and has been incomporated into the show Kathleen and I present on nature and climate change.

Opinion | Why Does Trump Put Russia First? – By Susan E. Rice – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Rice is a former national security adviser.

Credit…Rahmat Gul/Associated Press

“Since at least February, and possibly as early as March 2019, the United States has had compelling intelligence that a committed adversary, Russia, paid bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan. American service members were reportedly killed as a result.

To this day, the president of the United States has done nothing about it.

Instead, President Trump dismissed the intelligence as not “credible” and “possibly another fabricated Russia hoax, maybe by the Fake News” that is “wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”

Mr. Trump also claimed that neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence was ever told about this critical intelligence before it was first reported in The New York Times. Setting aside for a moment the credulity of that claim, whenever the president learned of this deeply troubling intelligence, why did he not publicly condemn any Russian efforts to kill American soldiers and explore options for a swift and significant U.S. response?

None of this adds up.

As a former national security adviser, I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that no one told Mr. Trump about this intelligence.”

Meet the Supporters Trump Has Lost – The New York Times

“For some, the disenchantment started almost as soon as Donald J. Trump took office. For others, his handling of the coronavirus and social unrest turned them away. For all of them, it’s highly unlikely they will vote for him again.

These voters, who backed Mr. Trump in 2016 but say there’s “not really any chance” they will this year, represent just 2 percent of all registered voters in the six states most likely to decide the presidency, according to New York Times/Siena College polls. But they help explain why the president faces a significant deficit nationwide and in the battleground states.

“I think if he weren’t such an appalling human being, he would make a great president, because I think what this country needs is somebody who isn’t a politician,” said Judith Goines, 53, a finance executive at a home building company in Fayetteville, N.C. “But obviously with the coronavirus and the social unrest we’re dealing with, that’s where you need a politician, somebody with a little bit more couth.”

“. . . .  How ‘Not Again’ Trump Voters Are Different From Other 2016 Trump Voters

About 6 percent of voters in battleground states who said they backed President Trump in 2016 said there was “not really any chance” they would do so in 2020. Here’s how these voters compare: . . . . “

Opinion | Has Trump Already Lost the 2020 Election? – By Frank Bruni – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

“Only two of the past six presidents before Donald Trump lost their bids for re-election. That’s good news for him.

But their stories are bad news for him, too.

In their final years in office, both of those presidents, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, experienced a noticeable slide in popularity right around the time — early May through late June — that Trump hit his current ugly patch.

According to Gallup’s ongoing tracking of the percentage of Americans who approve of a president’s job performance, Carter’s and Bush’s numbers sank below 40 percent during this period and pretty much stayed there through Election Day. It’s as if they both met their fates on the cusp of summer.

And the cusp of summer has been a mean season for Trump, who has never flailed more pathetically or lashed out more desperately and who just experienced the Carter-Bush dip. According to Gallup, his approval rating fell to 39 percent in early June from 49 a month earlier. So if Carter and Bush are harbingers, Trump is toast.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Frank Bruni. I hope for the United States, the world, and the planet, that you are completely right. I also hope, that one day, I write something as well you do. You truly have a way with words, and a roledex so impressive, as to be make most comparisons to small fry unfair.

Poll Shows Trump Dragging Down G.O.P. Senate Candidates – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s erratic performance in office and his deteriorating standing in the polls is posing a grave threat to his party’s Senate majority, imperiling incumbents in crucial swing states and undermining Republican prospects in one of the few states they had hoped to gain a seat, according to a new poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.

Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, a Republican, trails her Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, by nine percentage points while Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina is behind his Democratic rival, Cal Cunningham, by three. Both incumbents are polling below 40 percent despite having recently aired a barrage of television advertisements.

In Michigan, which Senate Republicans viewed as one of their few opportunities to go on the offensive this year, Senator Gary Peters, a first-term Democrat, is up by 10 percentage points over John James, who is one of the G.O.P.’s most prized recruits.”

Opinion | America Didn’t Give Up on Covid-19. Republicans Did. – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

“Earlier this year much of America went through hell as the nation struggled to deal with Covid-19. More than 120,000 Americans have now died; more than 20 million have lost their jobs.

But it’s looking as if all those sacrifices were in vain. We never really got the coronavirus under control, and now infections, while they have fallen to a quite low level in the New York area, the pandemic’s original epicenter, are surging in much of the rest of the country.

And the bad news isn’t just a result of more testing. In new hot spots like Arizona — where testing capacity is being overwhelmed — and Houston the fraction of tests coming up positive is soaring, which shows that the disease is spreading rapidly.

It didn’t have to be this way. The European Union, a hugely diverse area with a larger population than the U.S., has been far more successful at limiting the spread of Covid-19 than we have. What went wrong?

The immediate answer is that many U.S. states ignored warnings from health experts and rushed to reopen their economies, and far too many people failed to follow basic precautions like wearing face masks and avoiding large groups. But why was there so much foolishness?

Well, I keep seeing statements to the effect that Americans were too impatient to stay the course, too unwilling to act responsibly. But this is deeply misleading, because it avoids confronting the essence of the problem. Americans didn’t fail the Covid-19 test; Republicans did.”

Opinion | Who Are the Key Voters Turning Against Trump? – by Ruy Teixeira – The New York Times

by Ruy Teixeira, who is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

“. . . . But the Democrats have a secret weapon in 2020 on the other side of the age spectrum: senior voters. Among this age group — voters 65 and older — polls so far this year reveal a dramatic shift to the Democrats. That could be the most consequential political development of this election.

The bipartisan States of Change project estimates that Mrs. Clinton lost this group by around 15 points. By contrast, the nonpartisan Democracy Fund + U.C.L.A. Nationscape survey, which has collected over 108,000 interviews of registered voters since the beginning of the year, has Mr. Biden leading among seniors by about six points. We are looking at a shift of over 20 points in favor of the Democrats among a group that should be at least a quarter of voters in 2020. That’s huge.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Hear ye, hear ye, I don’t have good news, I have great news. Older Americans are coming to their senses! Thank you Ruy Teixeira. “The bipartisan States of Change project estimates that Mrs. Clinton lost this group by around 15 points. By contrast, the nonpartisan Democracy Fund + U.C.L.A. Nationscape survey, which has collected over 108,000 interviews of registered voters since the beginning of the year, has Mr. Biden leading among seniors by about six points. We are looking at a shift of over 20 points in favor of the Democrats among a group that should be at least a quarter of voters in 2020. That’s huge.” DL; Ya, that’s huge! The article is full of wonderful details, and so are the comments, for the most part. Also, note the data on how very conservative this group is by and large. They are strongly against many of the far left ideas of Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden is according to this massive poll of 108,000 interviews, their type of conservative, liberal progressive.

Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“My favorite story in John Bolton’s book about the Trump Fun House — sorry, White House — was that President Trump appealed to China’s leader to buy more U.S. agricultural products to boost Trump’s farm vote and his re-election.

Donald: Stop begging. Both Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have decided to vote for you. Don’t worry!

They know that as long as you’re president, America will be in turmoil. For Xi, that means we’re a less formidable economic rival, and for Vlad, that means we’re a less attractive democratic model for his people. They also both know that as long as you’re president the U.S. will never be able to galvanize a global coalition of allies against them, which is what China fears most on trade, human rights and Covid-19 and Russia on Ukraine and Syria.

Don’t take it from me. Here’s what Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator and deputy representative in Geneva, told Bloomberg’s Peter Martin: “If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying U.S. alliances.”

Chinese officials, Martin reported, see a unified front on trade or human rights by the U.S. and its allies as “Washington’s greatest asset for checking China’s widening influence,” and Trump’s behavior ensures that will never come about.”

David Lindsay:

It has become clear to me that Bolten’s publisher sent free advance copies of his new book to every columnist at the NYT who writes about foreign policy ever. I should complain to my own publisher, and perhaps fire them, for not doing the same courtesy for my book, The Tay Son Rebellion!

Opinion | Don’t Buy John Bolton’s Book. But Don’t Ignore Its Revelations. – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The American news cycle has become so manic and surreal that there hasn’t been much time to reflect on the revelation, in the new book by the former national security adviser John Bolton, that Donald Trump encouraged President Xi Jinping of China in the building of concentration camps for its Muslim Uighur minority.

Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened,” which I received this week in advance of its release on Tuesday, describes a conversation Trump had with Xi at the opening dinner of the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, with only their interpreters present: “Xi explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

It is impossible, at this late date, to be shocked by the behavior of our depraved president. Nor is it surprising, given Trump’s treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, that he is pro-concentration camp.

But Americans should know that China’s detention of over a million people largely on religious grounds — a project that reports say includes torture, sterilization and forcing Uighur women to sleep with members of China’s Han majority to promote “ethnic unity” — is happening with our president’s behind-the-scenes approval. (In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump denied the account in Bolton’s book.)”

“. . . .  All the same, there is information here that deserves whatever attention people can muster in the midst of plague and mass protest. Bolton provides, albeit belatedly, firsthand confirmation that Trump did exactly what he was impeached for — leveraging American military aid in exchange for Ukraine’s help in smearing Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden: “Aug. 20, I took Trump’s temperature on the Ukraine security assistance, and he said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton writes.

Such behavior was nothing new for Trump; earlier Bolton describes him “pleading with Xi” for help in the 2020 election by making agricultural purchases from farm states. Though Bolton writes that the government’s pre-publication reviewers prevented him from using Trump’s exact words, Vanity Fair saw an unredacted version of the passage: “Make sure I win. I will probably win anyway, so don’t hurt my farms. … Buy a lot of soybeans and wheat and make sure we win.”

That Bolton did not testify to this earlier is to his immense disgrace. But it is a national disgrace that his confirmation of the Democrats’ impeachment case probably won’t matter, so inured are Republicans to staggering corruption.

Bolton’s warning to his ideological allies should be heeded, though it won’t be. Should Trump win in 2020, he writes, “conservatives and Republicans should worry about the removal of the political guardrail of Trump having to face re-election.”

Don’t buy this book. John Bolton doesn’t deserve to be rewarded for withholding testimony he had a duty to provide months ago. But don’t dismiss it either. The president cheered China’s concentration camps. At this point in the Trump era, it’s a constant challenge not to let oneself be bored by evil.”

Opinion | What John Bolton and His Book Say About Trump’s Washington – by John Gans – The New York Times

“. . .  Whichever way Mr. Bolton wanted to go public with what he knew — a network interview, a press conference at the end of his driveway, an epic Twitter thread, an early launch of the book — a big disclosure would’ve guaranteed that he never again ate alone in Washington. Yet January, and impeachment, came and went without much more than a peep from him.

There were a few factors that surely contributed to his taciturnity. There was and remains a clear risk of legal jeopardy, including potential criminal and financial penalties for revealing classified information. He also had a book to promote and paid speeches that pay more for exclusivity. And he dreams of being the future of Mr. Trump’s Republican Party, not a darling of either the resistance or the Democratic Party.

Yet, aside from Mr. Bolton’s idiosyncrasies, his no-show when it mattered says something about what Washington has become in 2020. It is hard to see any more in Mr. Bolton’s crusade beyond self-interest: for vengeance, attention and sales of the book, which cravenly opened for pre-order in the hours after the first story with details from his manuscript went live.”

“. . . .  Mr. Bolton was willing to feed information to the Democrats, but not side with them. He was willing to leak to reporters but not speak publicly. He was open to impeaching Mr. Trump, but not on the crimes and misdemeanors as written. He was willing to testify, but only under a subpoena from the Senate. In short, Mr. Bolton wanted to have his say and do it his way. With the book coming out, he has — thanks, in part, to an all-too-willing public. But because it’s only a story about Mr. Bolton versus Mr. Trump, few will ever rally to his side.

As Mr. Bolton finds himself alone at the center of the week’s conversation, one could wonder whether there’s any reason for hope in Washington. Yet, amid the Bolton news storm was a far less noticed story: The Washington Post reported that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who worked for Mr. Bolton on the National Security Council and testified openly during the impeachment inquiry only to be dismissed by Mr. Trump, may not be promoted to colonel because of presidential pressure.

Why is that a hopeful sign? Mr. Vindman’s ordeal is a reminder that there are still heroes in Mr. Trump’s Washington, willing to pay the price to do what’s right — not just what’s in their interest.

During his testimony, Mr. Vindman appealed to and embodied the principles that we all at least claim to hold dear. The contrast with Mr. Bolton, and his book, could not be more stark. After all, what do you call a hero without any followers? Just a guy having lunch all alone.”