Gail Collins and Bret Stephens | The Supreme Court’s Fighting Words – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

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

“Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. We’ve had two monumental Supreme Court decisions over the last week, on guns and abortion. Maybe it isn’t a fair question, but which of them scares, dismays, enrages or makes you want to bang your head against the wall more?

Gail Collins: I feel totally traumatized by both of them — even though, I admit, I was pretty much expecting everything that happened.

Bret: A line that’s making the rounds: It’s like knowing daylight saving time is coming and setting your clock back 50 years.”

Bret Stephens | The Left Is Being Mugged by Reality, Again – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

This column has been updated to reflect news developments.

“Is a decade of destructive progressive ideology finally coming to an end?

That San Franciscans, some of America’s most reliably liberal voters, chose on Tuesday to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, one of America’s most leftward D.A.s, is a sign of hope.

Voter patience for what Mayor London Breed of San Francisco calls “all the bullshit that has destroyed our city” — aggressive shopliftingrampant car burglariesopen-air drug use, filthy homeless encampmentssidewalks turned into toilets — is finally running thin.

Progressive overreach has its price. Even for progressives.

What’s going on in San Francisco is happening nationwide, and not just in matters of criminal justice and urban governance. In one area after another, the left is being mugged by reality, to borrow Irving Kristol’s famous phrase. Consider a few examples:     . . . . . “

David Lindsay:

Great points Bret, thank you.

My beyond beef, is that you sound ignorant, or dumb, on the threat of climate change. Your brilliance is your hard honesty, that we climate hawks have a tough job, since, as you point out, most folks are for the environment, as long as it won’t cost them more than an extra $10 a year. The irony, is that as you sound almost gloating over our failures to mitigate climate change, you seem oblivious to the fact that the planet we are trying to keep habitable, is the same one you and your family live on.

Your punishment, or assignment, is to go study Edward O Wilson, and learn about the sixth great extinction of species going on right now all around us. Why did he conclude that at current rates of growth and pollution, we will lose 80% of the world’s species in the next 80 years, and humans will be probably one of the casualties.  Some aliens in outer space are probably gloating, since those humans won’t last very long.

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Gail and Bret | There Has to Be a Tipping Point on Guns, Right? – The New York Times

“. . . . Bret: Imagine a TV ad from a moderate Democrat like Ohio’s Tim Ryan or Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger that goes something like this:

“I believe in the Second Amendment. But not for this guy” — followed by a picture of the Tucson, Ariz, mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner, “or this guy” — a picture of Aurora, Colo., mass murderer James Holmes, “or this guy” — a picture of Newtown, Conn., mass murderer Adam Lanza.

It would continue: “I also believe in the right to own firearms responsibly for hunting and self-defense. But not for this” — a picture of the scene outside the Uvalde school, “or this” — a picture of the scene from the Buffalo grocery store, “or this” — scenes from the Parkland massacre.

And it could conclude: “Justice Robert Jackson once told us that the Bill of Rights cannot become a suicide pact. That includes the Second Amendment. We can protect your guns while keeping them out of the hands of crazy and dangerous people by using common-sense background checks, 21-years-of-age purchasing requirements, three-day waiting periods, and mental-health exams. It’s not about denying your Constitutional rights. It’s so your children come home from school alive.”

What do you think?

Gail: I’m sold. And I have a feeling we’ll be talking about this much, much more as this election year goes on.

Bret: Let’s hope it’s not after the next school shooting. Though, considering what we saw over the weekend in Philadelphia or Chattanooga, it may not be long.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Commet:
Yes, thank you, And— I recommend that we either show the pictures of the slaughtered children, or pictures or videos of actors pretending to be slaughtered. We film a reenactment of the killing. Or, We line up 21 patty play pal dies in cute outfits, and show them being cut to pieces by an 18 year old with an AR 15. We do the same with life sized posters of either the real victims, or actors pretending to be them. Show the pictures getting cut to pieces by an assault rifle, so you would need a dna sample to id your loved one. We use these for ads to remove the obstacles to gun safety in our halls of government.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion,” historical fiction about war in18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Bret Stephens | On Taiwan, Biden Should Find His Inner Truman – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“The White House insists that President Biden did not break with longstanding policy when, at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday with the prime minister of Japan, he flatly answered “yes” to the question, “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”

Don’t believe the diplomatic spin that there’s nothing to see here. Don’t believe, either, that the president didn’t know what he was doing. What Biden said is dramatic — as well as prudent, necessary and strategically astute. He is demonstrating a sense of history, a sense of the moment and a sense that, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, new rules apply.

American policy toward Taiwan for the past 43 years has been chiefly governed by two core, if somewhat ambiguous, agreements. The first, the One China policy, which Biden reaffirmed in Tokyo, is the basis for Washington’s diplomatic recognition of Beijing as the sole legal government of China.

The second, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, is the basis for our continued ties to Taiwan as a self-governing entity. But unlike the treaties the U.S. maintains with Japan and South Korea, the act does not oblige American forces to come to the island’s defense in the event of an attack — only that we will provide Taiwan with the weapons it needs to defend itself.

Former presidents, including Donald Trump, have hinted that the United States would fight for Taiwan but have otherwise remained studiedly vague on the question. That may have once served Washington’s strategic purposes, at least when relations with Beijing were warming or stable.

But Xi Jinping has changed the rules of the game.”

Opinion | Sometimes,  History Goes Backwards – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

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

“Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. I don’t know if you remember the Lloyd Bridges character from the movie “Airplane,” the guy who keeps saying, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking/drinking/amphetamines/sniffing glue.” We were away last week and … stuff happened. Your thoughts on what appears to be the imminent demise of Roe v. Wade?

Gail Collins: Well, Bret, I have multitudinous thoughts, some of them philosophical and derived from my Catholic upbringing. Although I certainly don’t agree with it, I understand the philosophical conviction that life begins at conception.

Bret: As a Jew, I believe that life begins when the kids move out of the house.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Great conversation, and some big laughs. Life really begins when the kids finally leave the house. But both Gail and Bret appear not to know that the Canadian oil slated for the XL pipeline is the dirtiest kind of shale oil there is, while the Saudi oil is mostly some of the cleanest. I now support the XL pipeline, but not for the reasons either of them mention. It is very bad for the environment, but it could in the short term, help the Democrats take more of the house and senate. The invasion by Russia into the Ukraine has created an emergency short term need for oil. There is a political reason for turning the XL pipeline back on, as long as we can turn it off when no longer needed.
David blogs at InconenientNews.net

Bret Stephens | Why We Admire Zelensky – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“Why do we admire Volodymyr Zelensky? The question almost answers itself.

We admire him because, in the face of unequal odds, Ukraine’s president stands his ground. Because he proves the truth of the adage that one man with courage makes a majority. Because he shows that honor and love of country are virtues we forsake at our peril. Because he grasps the power of personal example and physical presence. Because he knows how words can inspire deeds — give shape and purpose to them — so that the deeds may, in turn, vindicate the meaning of words.

We admire Zelensky because he reminds us of how rare these traits have become among our own politicians. Zelensky was an actor who used his celebrity to become a statesman. Western politics is overrun by people who playact as statesmen so that they may ultimately become celebrities. Zelensky has made a point of telling Ukrainians the hard truth that the war is likely to get worse — and of telling off supposed well-wishers that their words are hollow and their support wanting. Our leaders mainly specialize in telling people what they want to hear.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Excellent essay Bret Stephens, thank you. I recently reread “the Hobbit,” by JRR Tolkien, for possibly the 10th time, and it is famous for good reason. Tolkien describes the elves, dwarves and hobbits of Middle Earth with humor and wisdom, poking politely at the many strengths, weakness, and foibles of human beings.
  Dictatorships, such as that of Russia, is represented by the Necromancer, and the goblins and orcs. The Hobbit was published in 1937, after WW I. WW II was on its way.
  Reluctantly, I think that NATO should go to war with Russia, to save the Ukraine, as if it were in NATO already. I think some things are worth dying for. In the Hobbit, the leader of the dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, sits out the great battle of five armies, while others fight to protect his gold and dragon treasure. He is honorless, while his kin on the field fight with honor, for their freedom and very lives.
  The NATO countries are a bit like the coward, Thorin Oakenshield, whose mind is clouded with the love of his hoard of gold, to the point where he will not risk his life for his own kin and neighbors. In Tolkien’s magnificent story, Thorin pulls himself together, and restores his honor. It is not too late for NATO to do the same.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion,” about war in18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Bret Stephens | What Do We Do if Putin Uses Chemical Weapons? – The New York Times

    Opinion Columnist

“There are reports that Russia may be planning to use — or, according to unverified reports from local officials in Mariupol, might have already used — chemical weapons as part of its offensive in eastern Ukraine. The Biden administration has already set up a Tiger Team of national security officials to consider options in the event this happens; now is the time for these discussions to become more public.

We’ve traveled this road before, badly. In August 2012, Barack Obama publicly warned the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria against employing chemical weapons. “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” he said. “That would change my calculus.”

It didn’t.  . . . “

Bret Stephens | Biden Is Still Right. Putin Has to Go. – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“Horrific scenes of mass murder on the outskirts of Kyiv should appall everybody and surprise nobody.

The brutalization of civilians has been the Putin regime’s calling card since its inception — from the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999, where the weight of circumstantial evidence points the finger at Vladimir Putin and his security service henchmen, to the murders of Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, Sergei Magnitsky and Boris Nemtsov to Russia’s atrocities in Grozny, eastern Ukraine, Aleppo and now Bucha.

Mostly, the world has found it easier to make excuses to get along with Putin than to work against him. One example: In 2015, Germany got about 35 percent of its natural gas from Russia. In 2021, the figure had jumped to 55 percent. Berlin is now a major diplomatic obstacle to imposing stiffer sanctions on Russia, and Germany continues to buy Russian gas, oil and coal, to the tune of $2 billion a month.

To put this in simplified but accurate terms, Germany — having fiercely resisted years of international pressure to lessen its dependence on Russian gas — finds itself in the position of funding the Russian state. That is money that helps keep the ruble afloat and the Kremlin’s war machine going. Surely this can’t be the role that Berlin wishes to play.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Yes, great column Bret Stephens. Note to NATO and Biden, send in the the heavy anti-ship, anti-aircraft, and anti-missile missile defense systems– asap. Germany, and Europe, stop appeasing another ruthless dictator.
Germany, It is time to look again at the exciting new designs for nuclear energy that are cleaner and safer than the the designs from the 1950’s, from 70 years ago. Look carefully at the one by Bill Gates and associates. On paper, it can’t melt down, overheat or explode, and runs on spent nuclear fuel. It is time to build a few, and see if they work as well as designed for.
NYT: there are supposedly 20 or so new designs out for safer nuclear energy. Please start reviewing them all, one or two at a time.
David also comments at InconvenientNews.net, and is the author of “Talking Climate Change Blues.”

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens | Which ‘Radioactive Republicans’ Are We Betting On? – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

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

Gail Collins: Bret, let’s relax and talk about long-term goals that we totally do not share. For instance, how would you feel about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour?

Bret Stephens: Why not raise the standard of living for everyone by making the minimum wage $100? Just kidding. I think the correct figure is $0.

Gail: If your goal is a self-supporting populace that doesn’t depend on government aid, you’ve got to make sure employers are shelling out at least minimal survival salaries. The current bottom line is $7.25 an hour. Nobody can live on that.

Bret: I’m taking my $0 cue from a famous Times editorial from 1987, which made the case that “those at greatest risk from a higher minimum wage would be young, poor workers, who already face formidable barriers to getting and keeping jobs.” The editorial may be old but the economic logic is right. Raising the minimum wage is a well-intentioned idea that won’t help its intended beneficiaries. It will hurt them by giving companies like McDonald’s additional incentives to move toward even more automation.

Bret Stephens | What if Putin Didn’t Miscalculate? – The New York Times

“. . . But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if the West is only playing into Putin’s hands once again?

The possibility is suggested in a powerful reminiscence from The Times’s Carlotta Gall of her experience covering Russia’s siege of Grozny, during the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s. In the early phases of the war, motivated Chechen fighters wiped out a Russian armored brigade, stunning Moscow. The Russians regrouped and wiped out Grozny from afar, using artillery and air power.

Russia’s operating from the same playbook today. When Western military analysts argue that Putin can’t win militarily in Ukraine, what they really mean is that he can’t win clean. Since when has Putin ever played clean?

“There is a whole next stage to the Putin playbook, which is well known to the Chechens,” Gall writes. “As Russian troops gained control on the ground in Chechnya, they crushed any further dissent with arrests and filtration camps and by turning and empowering local protégés and collaborators.”

Suppose for a moment that Putin never intended to conquer all of Ukraine: that, from the beginning, his real targets were the energy riches of Ukraine’s east, which contain Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas (after Norway’s).”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Bret Thank you. It surprised me to learn late in life, from writers in the New York Times, that intelligent people sometimes have to learn to understand and hold two opposing ideas in their mind at the same time, understanding that there is some truth to both. There might be some relativity to reality, especially since reality might be unknowable with certainty.
I might dare to add to your sophisticated analysis, that all the critics of Putin might be completely right, but it makes no difference. Putin doesn’t need, and possibly wasn’t after Kiev, at least, as his primary objective. For these reasons, and many others, I support NATO to enforce a no fly zone. Some things are worth dying for.
David Lindsay is a military historian, and the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” an historical novel about a famous 30 year civil war in Vietnam, 1770-1802, who blogs at InconvenientNews.net.