Bret Stephens | Can Liberals Survive Progressivism? – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/23/opinion/liberals-survive-progressivism.html

Opinion Columnist

It’s been nearly 30 years since then-Gov. Bill Clinton took a break from the campaign trail to oversee the execution of death-row inmate Ricky Ray Rector. Morally, it may have been repugnant to kill a man so mentally handicapped by a failed suicide attempt that he set aside the pecan pie of his last meal because he was “saving it for later.”

Politically, it was essential.

By the early 1990s the American left had spent a generation earning a soft-on-crime image in an era of growing lawlessness. In 1988, Mike Dukakis secured the Democrats’ third landslide loss thanks in no small part to his stalwart opposition to the death penalty. Four years later, it was difficult to imagine any Democrat reaching the White House without a literal blood sacrifice to the gods of law and order.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
 
Great column Bret, but, I disagree with the following: “It’s the basis on which the United States was able to make its streets far safer from around 1995 to 2015, when crime rates kept going down — above all to the benefit of the very minority communities that progressives claim to champion.” Mr. Stephens, apparently, hasn’t yet read, “Freakonomics” by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, which refers to research about the amazing correlation between the drop of crime, and the legalization of abortion almost exactly 20 years earlier. Police Chiefs across the country took credit for a drop in crime that was probably caused by reductions in unwanted children. Unfortunately, for the far left, this observation doesn’t negate the rest of Stephen’s analysis. Pramila Jayapal and her friends on the far left, are delivering the country back to the Trumpistas. So much for mitigating climate change.

Bret Stephens | Why Wokeness Will Fail – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“American history is, in many ways, a story of grand protests. They generally come in two types.

There are protest movements that, even in ferocious dissent, believe that the American system is ultimately geared to fulfill its inner promises — of equality, unalienable rights, the pursuit of happiness, e pluribus unum, a more perfect union. This is what Frederick Douglass had in mind when, in an otherwise scathing indictment of America’s hypocrisy, he called the Constitution a “glorious liberty document.”

And there are protest movements that have turned against the system, either because they don’t think the system can meet its promises, or because they never agreed with the promises in the first place. “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock,” Malcolm X said memorably. “The rock was landed on us.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Bret Stephens. The clarity here of your analysis is magnificent, such as your juxtaposition of Frederick Douglas vs Malcolm X. You prove to be a friend of social progress, and left wing Democrats and wingnuts should take notes. It is not enough to be right in a democracy, you also have to talk into the comfort zone of the middle majority.

Opinion | The Democrats’ No Good, Very Bad Day Changes the Landscape – The New York Times

“. . . . Gail: Bridges of America, rejoice!

You wrote a terrific column about the elections last week, Bret. Can’t say I agreed with all your conclusions but it was, as always, very smart. If you were on the phone with Nancy Pelosi today, what would you advise her to do next?

Bret: First, Madam Speaker, please don’t hang up on me.

Second, put the social spending bill in the basement icebox and don’t take it out until Democrats have the kind of majorities that can pass it.

Third, look for a bipartisan win on immigration reform, starting with a trade on citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for more border security and a firm “Remain in Mexico” policy for migrants.

And finally, find ways to separate the Democratic Party brand from Toxic Wokeness.

Gail: I’m with President Biden that the next stop is his social spending program. Admittedly it’ll be carved down, but it has to include support for workers who temporarily need to stay home to take care of newborns or aging family members. And of course that universal preschool education.”

Bret Stephens | America’s Crumbling Global Position – The New York Times

“A “complex, coordinated and deliberate attack,” was how John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, on Monday described a recent drone assault on a U.S. military outpost in Syria that helps train local allies to fight ISIS. It was carried out with as many as five Iranian drones, launched by Iranian proxies, and conducted with Iran’s aid and blessing.

We’ll see if there’s any kind of U.S. response. The Biden administration is still desperate to get Iran back to the negotiating table to sign a nuclear deal that would free up billions of dollars in funding that Tehran can use to conduct more such attacks.

Also on Monday, The Times’s David Sanger reported that a Russian intelligence agency, the S.V.R., is once again engaged in a campaign “to pierce thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks,” according to Microsoft cybersecurity experts. This comes just a few months after President Biden personally warned Vladimir Putin against renewing such attacks — while also going easy on the penalties the U.S. imposed for previous intrusions.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment;
Dear Bret, I have become a fan of yours, for many reasons, but this is one of your weakest pieces ever. If any of your points are correct and true, you didn’t convince me, since you covered too much, too poorly. On Afghanistan, I suggest you study the op-ed today by Thomas L Friedman. I think the L stands for smart. I haven’t fact checked his piece, and I don’t know if you are allowed to, but it the whole mid east is moving in interesting directions since we left Afghanistan somewhat abruptly, then bravo for Joe Biden and his team. Maybe we still have to wait for the month, after the month after the month.
I know some things about China through my book on Vietnam, and you are so off base from my view there. The Chinese are running jets towards Taiwan to distract their population from the bankruptcy of one of their biggest real estate and construction companies, and numerous other problems. You really sound like chicken little, and should also read Socrates in these comments. What you miss most, the elephant, is that Biden pulled out of Afghanistan, which was draining us dry, so he would have the power to stand up to China, and if necessary, prepare for war with them. I heard a rumor the other day, that chicken little was also a chicken hawk.
And, where in your analysis, was the climate crisis. I recommend the amazing video in the Times today about Greta Thunberg, and why she has hope.
David Lindsay wrote “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens | Trump Missed the Part About No Do-Overs – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/18/opinion/trump-biden-columbus-jefferson.html

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are Opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Gail, I know we don’t typically talk about office politics, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid — as when our friend and colleague Nick Kristof leaves us to run for governor of his home state of Oregon. Our readers ought to know what an incredible guy he is behind the scenes.

Gail Collins: Bret, I am extremely proud to say that when I was the editor of this section, I lured Nick over from the news side to be a columnist.

One of his early projects was to write about the vile goings-on in a remote African country. I can’t remember all the details. But it involved a short plane ride that cost about $10,000 because he was barred from entry and had to be flown in by a brave pilot who claimed to be transporting a barrel of wheat.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |NYT Comment:
Thank you Gail and Bret, for another good conversation.
I don’t know much about Jefferson yet, but as I read the gripping history, “Washington,” by Ron Chernow, I’m amazed at what a great man Washington was. I’m a historian of Vietnam and China, so the stories in “Washington” are mostly new to me. I knew about the miracle of escaping the British when they took NY City from the history “1776” by David McCullough, another magnificent read. I describe parts of the Battle of Yorktown, as the Battle of the Chesapeake, in my novel. Spoiler alert, we didn’t defeat the British at Yorktown, the French did.
This idea that all the founders of the 18th century have to pass the politically correct tests of the twenty first century is ridiculous.

Opinion | What’s a Little Disagreement Among Factions? – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are Opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. I have a new grand theory of politics: The Stupid Party is whichever party happens to be in power. Fair?

Gail Collins: Bret, why do I think you have something specific in mind? Could it be … the Biden agenda? Preceded by … the Trump agenda? And, if my memory is correct, back in the day you didn’t think the Obama agenda was all that great either.

Bret: Well, I’m rooting for Biden to succeed, which wasn’t quite the way I felt about his immediate predecessor.

My point about the Stupid Party is that Democrats could have had a popular legislative win with a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Instead, the Sandernistas in Congress effectively vetoed it for the sake of social spending that they aren’t likely to get. Now they’ve got nothing and may very likely end up with nothing — a classic case of two birds in the bush instead of one in hand. And Biden is going along with it! It’s political malpractice.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Is this a weak conversation, or do I just have a lot on my plate? A lot of repeats here. I’m sorry Bret needs population growth for economic growth, that is so 19th century. We are on a planet teeming with humans, 7.8 billion and counting, and our pollution is spoiling the garden from which we grow our food, and the oceans, which we try to fish. I’m disappointed with these two wonderful reporters, and their peers at the NYT and NPR, and the NewHours on PBS, for ignoring the harpy on the left, Jayapal. Bernie Sanders lost the primary to Joe Biden, and there is no mandate for all of his programs, at this immediate moment. She is willing to hand the government to theTrumpistas, if she can’t have her left wing utopia now. The infrastructure bill alone would strengthen the Democrats in the mid term elections in just over a year. The Family rehab bill, is great, only it has many moderate opponents. I liked Johnathan Capehart’s idea, do it for less than 10 years. Do it for two, three or four years. But get the infractucture bill passed and get it started. Please go after the lefty in Washington. “Pramila Jayapal United States Representative house.gov Pramila Jayapal is an American activist and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she represents most of Seattle, as well as some suburban areas of King County. Wikipedia Born: September 21, 1965 (age 56 years), Chennai, India Nationality: American Office: Representative (D-WA 7th District) since 2017 Education: Northwestern University (1990).”
She is also the leader of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus, that boasts 100 members, but most of these folks are from safe, blue states.

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens | This Is No Way to Run a Democracy – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Hi Gail. So it turns out that Joe Biden really did win Arizona last year. Are you … shocked?

Gail Collins: Pass the champagne, Bret. We’ll drink a toast to the fact that recount-wise, it’s been easy to find excuses to celebrate.

Arizona’s recheck showed Biden actually getting a few more votes than originally tallied. And some of the state’s Republican leaders nodded their approval — one called it “encouraging.” Despite one little cyclone of outrage spotted over Mar-a-Lago.

Did you start out here because it’s the only good news in the country right now? If so, appreciate the effort.

Bret: The truly bad news is that even this modestly good news is actually awful news.

Gail: Ah, welcome to our world.

Bret: What I mean is that this Republican-ordered, Republican-financed audit of ballots in Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s largest, won’t make any difference to Donald Trump’s true believers. There was a similar audit of votes in Michigan that finished earlier this year, also overseen by Republicans, which proved that Biden won that state, too, and it also didn’t have the slightest effect on the two-thirds of Republicans who, as of August, thought the election was rigged.

Gail: Congratulations — you’ve convinced me to be depressed again.

Bret: It reminds me of a line from Huck Finn: “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” That sums up Trump’s political strategy, and if the Biden presidency continues to stumble the way it’s been stumbling, it might just work.”

David Lindsay: Bret thinks Biden should separate the infrastructure bill from the larger reconciliation package, and I agree with him on that issue. I thought it was dangerous to tie them together. Biden will thrive politically if he can get the infrastructure bill over the finish line in a timely fashion, and the rest will follow at some point, but he needs to survive with his majorities in congress for eight years to get the climate crisis addressed. Kathleen calls out the left wing of her democratic party for naivete on how to govern to achieve progressive goals. “They need to be more strategic about leading the country from where we are now to where we need to go. They are ahead of the country on some issues, and too siloed in their thinking at times.”

Bret Stephens | Our ‘Broken Windows’ World – The New York Times

“. . . We now live in a broken-windows world. I would argue that it began a decade ago, when Barack Obama called on Americans to turn a chapter on a decade of war and “focus on nation-building here at home,” which became a theme of his re-election campaign.

It looked like a good bet at the time. Osama bin Laden had just been killed. The surge in Iraq had stabilized the country and decimated Al Qaeda there. The Taliban were on the defensive. Relations with Russia had been “reset.” China was still under the technocratic leadership of Hu Jintao. The Arab Spring, eagerly embraced by Obama as “a chance to pursue the world as it should be,” seemed to many to portend a more hopeful future for the Middle East (though some of us were less sanguine).   . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Hi Bret,
Nice column, but you reach too far, and fall short, though there are criticisms you approach that are valid. Comparing the Russian gas pipeline to other failures seems silly, like comparing apples to oranges. Everyone needs a little natural gas for the next 50 years or so. Even Biden didn’t cancel all the pipelines from Canada. Our walking out of Afghanistan doesn’t show that we are over as a great power, but that we are starting to act again like an intelligent as well as great power, with more fights in the future than just against the primitive Taliban. You are still right about several important and serious mistakes. We should be occupying Syria right now not Afghanistan. Ignoring the red line Obama had drawn himself was dumb, cowardly, and over cautious. But Afghanistan is history. We should be discussing an invasion or insurrection in Brazil, to save the rain forest. That is in our national interest.
David is a jack of all trades and master of none, and a military historian, who blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Bret Stephens | For the Sake of Peace, Israel Must Rout Hamas – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“As of this writing, terrorists in Gaza — the word “terrorist” fits people who take indiscriminate aim at civilians to achieve political goals — have fired some 1,750 rockets at Israel since Monday.

That’s a number worth pausing over, and not just because it has had the effect of overwhelming Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense. Gaza is often said to be sealed off and utterly destitute. Yet Hamas, which rules Gaza, seems not to have had too much trouble amassing this kind of arsenal, or too many qualms employing it in a way it knew was sure to incur a heavy Israeli response.

The usual rule in life is that if you throw the first punch you can’t complain if you’re counterpunched. The test of Western policy and public opinion is whether they will let Hamas break this rule.

That’s a test the Biden administration has so far passed: Both the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have issued statements stressing that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Good. It’s more than can be said for progressives such as Bernie Sanders, who blamed “the irresponsible actions of government-allied right-wing extremists in Jerusalem” for the fighting without adding a word of condemnation for Hamas.

Now let’s hope the administration’s attitude lasts. The tactics of Hamas are to house its arsenals in schools and mosques, set up headquarters in the basement of hospitals and fire its missiles from sites next to crowded apartment buildings and hotels housing foreign journalists.

The idea is either to keep Israel from returning fire or, if it does, reap the propaganda benefits from televised and tweeted pictures of wrecked buildings and human casualties and “disproportionate” Israeli-Palestinian death counts that obscure the fact that one side is doing what it can to protect civilian lives and the other side is doing what it can to endanger them.

The cynicism is breathtaking. It ought to be widely condemned as a form of terrorism against ordinary Palestinians, whose visible suffering is as central to Hamas’s global purposes as is the suffering of Israeli civilians to its domestic purposes. But if past experience is anything to go by, an errant Israeli mortar or missile will mistakenly hit a civilian target, generating furious claims that Israel has committed war crimes, along with intense diplomatic pressure for Jerusalem to “de-escalate” and seek a cease-fire — at least until the next round of fighting.

In that case, the result would be a political victory for Hamas, achieved not only at a heavy price in Palestinian lives but also at the expense of Palestinian moderates, who’d look like weaklings or fools for opposing the strategy of violent “resistance.”   . . . “

David Lindsay:

Dear Bret, Thiscolumn is brilliant. You completely convinced me that the current form of Hamas leaves no room for peace. I think it was Thomas Friedman who taught me to see that Netanyahu sought and started the war with Hamas, to stop a new more moderate coalition in Israel from coming to power, that included the four Arab members of the Knesset. I would like to see you put forward your ideas for how to make peace. It seems to me that such ideas will make any writer appear stupid. We need both a two state solution, and equal rights for all Palestinians inside of Israel, both built on the grave of Hamas, as it is currently constituted, and many stolen properties, will have to be given back to Palestinians. Ultimately, there will have to be one country, since there is so little land, and it should be called something like, Israel and Palestine, or Palestine and Israel. Both peoples will have to live in peace and share equal rights. Is this totally naive. There are majorities on both sides that want peace instead of war. Neither of these majorities are currently in power.

Bret Stephens | If the Left Got Its Wish for Israel – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Imagine an alternative universe in which an enlightened Israeli government did almost everything progressive America demanded of it.

An immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza. An end to Israeli controls over the movement of goods into the territory. A halt to settlement construction in the West Bank. Renunciation of Israel’s sovereign claims in East Jerusalem. Fast-track negotiations for Palestinian statehood, with the goal of restoring the June 4, 1967, lines as an internationally recognized border.

Oslo would be placing phone calls to Jerusalem and Ramallah in October, to bestow the Nobel Peace Prize on the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Arab states such as Saudi Arabia would establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel. The international community would agree on a multibillion-dollar aid package for the new state of Palestine.

But there would be flies in this ointment.   . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Dear Bret,

Your column before this one was brilliant. You completely convinced me that the current form of Hamas leaves no room for peace. You taught me to see that Netanyahu sought and started the war with Hamas, to stop a new more moderate coalition in Israel from coming to power, that included the 4 Arab members of the Knesset. There are many issues with this next essay today. Please read carefully the comment about your wrong assumptions. I will add to that list, your first wrong assumption, when you started, imagine that Israel gave in to all the demands of the progressive Democratics. It is so incorrect to think that all progressives think only one way about most anything. You are an easy target to pick on, if bullying is what people are about. I did notice that inside your foolish assumptons, you still made good arguments in this very essay I am criticizing. Instead of re-editing it, I would like to see you put forward, as others here request, your ideas for how to make peace. It seems to me that such ideas will make any writer appear stupid. We need both a two state solution, and equal rights for all Palestinians inside of Israel, both built on the grave of Hamas, as it is currently constituted, and many stolen properties, will have to be given back to Palestinians.