Bret Stephens | Biden Should Finish the Wall – The New York Times

” . . . But the administration would be foolish to suppose the surge will recede on its own. The years of relative economic prosperity in Mexico that, for a time, led to a net outflow of Mexican migrants from the U.S. are over, thanks to a combination of drug cartels, a pandemic and the misgovernance of its inept populist presidentGuatemalaHondurasEl Salvador and Nicaragua are failing states. A “Plan Colombia”-style package of security assistance could help. But it will cost billions and probably take a decade for its effects to be felt.

In the meantime, the United States risks a version of the European migration crisis of 2015. That’s the one that contributed heavily to the Brexit vote, turbocharged the rise of far-right parties like France’s National Front and the Alternative for Germany, and paved the way to Trump’s election.

There’s little question that our own migration crisis is a political boon for immigration restrictionists. The wonder is why a serious Democratic administration would aid and abet their cause.

It’s also putting the interests of comprehensive immigration reform further out of reach. Congress has not passed a significant immigration bill in over three decades. Joe Biden came to office with an opportunity to get a bipartisan accord, but no Republican will sign on to legislation that widens the doors to legal immigrants, much less one that offers some form of amnesty to illegal ones, without a serious plan for border security. Nothing accomplishes that more visibly than a wall.

For Democrats, that’s an opportunity to defuse the political bomb Republicans would love to plant right under them. And it’s a jobs-creating infrastructure program to boot.

Will a wall solve all of our immigration problems? Hardly. It will take years to build, and some practical, regulatory and legal hurdles might be hard to surmount. But for anyone who hopes for America to remain a proud nation of immigrants, it has to be a part of the solution.”  -30-

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Bret for daring to think this through. You are right that if Biden isn’t stronger on illegal immigration, he will hand the government back to the Trumpsters. I don’t agree we should finish the wall with steel and bricks, that would be an environmental disaster. But I do agree that Biden has to secure the border, or probably lose power in the next few elections.

The list of reforms is daunting, but not impossible. We need e-verification of workers, and enforce that businesses can’t use illegals without permission and worker protections. We need to legalize or decriminalize all addictive drugs, to stop the gross drug war profits from destabilizing governments on both sides of the wall. As well as a US Marshall plan against climate change and to create new jobs in the US, we need another to help our neighbors to the south. We need to amend the 14th amendment, so you can’t gain citizenship here simply by being born here by either illegals, guest workers, or tourists. Family planning and zero or negative population growth are going to have to part of US foreign and domestic policy, to reduce humans to a sustainable number, and make room for other species, that are disappearing at an alarming rate.

You are right that Biden should finish the wall, but he should do it with all the ideas above, not physical barriers that will cause more endangered species to die off.

David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Bret Stephens | How Will We Win the Second Cold War? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…VCG/Getty Images

 

“In the First Cold War, the United States and our allies had a secret weapon against the Soviet Union and its satellites.

It didn’t come from the C.I.A. Nor was it a product of DARPA or the weapons labs at Los Alamos. It was Communism.

Communism aided the West because it saddled an imperialist Russian state with an unworkable and unpopular economic system that could not keep up with its free-market competitors. “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work” — the quintessential Russian joke about working life in the workers’ paradise — goes far to explain why a regime with tens of thousands of nuclear warheads simply petered out.

Now we are entering the Second Cold War, this time with China. That’s the takeaway from this month’s U.S.-China summit in Anchorage, in which both sides made clear that they had not only clashing interests but also incompatible values. Secretary of State Antony Blinken bluntly accused China of threatening “the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” Yang Jiechi, his Chinese counterpart, replied that the U.S. had to “stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.” ” . . .

Gail and Bret | Trump 2.0 Looks an Awful Lot Like Trump 2020 – The New York Times

“. . .   Bret: The minimum wage hike is a terrible idea. It makes it more difficult for small businesses, like restaurants, to hire younger or unskilled workers. It encourages large franchises to move toward increased automation. The economy already got trillions of dollars in stimulus last year, most recently a $900 billion bill passed at the end of December. Shouldn’t the economy digest that meal before we move on to the next course? Otherwise we’re going to end up like Marcello Mastroianni in “La Grande Bouffe,” if you happen to recall that particular epic.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
 
Dear Bret and Gail, this column is excellent, and good for all of us, keep it up. Bret, you sound a bit out of touch on poo pooing a hike in the minimum wage. I strongly recommend that you your read and report on a terrific book called “Nickel and Dimed.” “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” is a book written by Barbara Ehrenreich. Written from her perspective as an undercover journalist, it sets out to investigate the impact of the 1996 welfare reform act on the working poor in the United States. The events related in the book took place between spring 1998 and summer 2000. The book was first published in 2001 by Metropolitan Books. An earlier version appeared as an article in the January 1999 issue of Harper’s magazine.” -Wikipedia.
 
On this same topic, I recommend you see and comment on the new film Nomadland, which made me remember “Nickel and Dimed.” The main character in the new movie, also, can’t make ends meet with the low wages she earns, and she doesn’t even have rent, just seasonal van repairs. I’m hearing good things about a compromise new minimum Federal wage of 12 dollars. Without a higher minimum, how do we ensure that adults who work full time aren’t also stuck in poverty? There is a related issue, poor people in jail for dept.
 

Gail and Bret | Trump Isn’t Out the Door Yet – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

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

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Bret Stephens: Gail, given what’s happened in the past two weeks, Martin Luther King Jr. Day feels particularly meaningful this year. It seems as if the country is just holding its breath, waiting for the next Capitol Hill mob to descend, somewhere, somehow, on something or someone.

Is this 1968 all over again, or do you feel any sense of optimism?

Gail: Well Bret, I was actually around in 1968 — politically speaking.

Bret: Ah, but do you actually remember it?

Gail: There were certainly a lot of … distractions, what with a cultural revolution around every corner. And a terrible string of assassinations — after King, I can remember when Robert Kennedy was killed in June, feeling like nobody was safe from crazy people and right-wing racists.

Bret: Now it’s like déjà vu all over again. Donald Trump spent five years stoking the paranoia and loathing of his crowds, and now it has been unleashed. We’ll be living with it for years.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Bravo to both of you. Bret, sorry to hear you write:” I also have my doubts about some of Biden’s other ideas, like raising the minimum wage to $15, since a lot of the hardest hit businesses — restaurants in particular — will struggle with the extra labor costs.” I read in this prestigious newspaper, that economists in Europe point out that fast food workers all get $23 in the Netherlands, and it only adds about 30 cents to the cost of meal. Didn’t you study the velocity of money in economics?Oh, you skipped economics. The high minimum wage in European counties is part of why they are statistically happier, healthier, and safer than Americans today.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net. He also has an MBA from the Foster School of Business, University of Washington

Bret Stephens | Only Impeachment Can Save Republicans – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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

If there’s one thing Republicans in Congress ought to consider as they weigh the merits of impeaching Donald Trump, it’s the story of the president’s relationship with Mike Pence.

In December 2015, then-Governor Pence tweeted, “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” In April 2016, Tim Alberta reported that Pence “loathes Trump, according to longtime friends.” In July of the same year, Republican strategist Dan Senor tweeted, “It’s disorienting to have had commiserated w/someone re: Trump — about how he was unacceptable, & then to see that someone become Trump’s VP.”

You know what came next. Pence turned himself into the most unfailingly servile sidekick in vice-presidential history. He delivered the evangelical vote to Trump. He stood by the president at every low point, from the “Access Hollywood” tape to Charlottesville, Va., to Helsinki to the Ukraine call. He indulged Trump’s fantasies about a stolen election.

He betrayed his principles. He abased himself. Then Trump insisted that he steal the election. When Pence refused — he had no legal choice — Trump stirred the mob to go after him.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Bret Stephens. It is not often that you go to Mitch McConnel for support. “The philosophical case is clear. Senator Mitch McConnell was eloquent and right: “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.” ” I have to disagree with the comment by Socrates. The GOP is not finished, and unfixable. I hope and support that the good citizens of the Lincoln Project do start a third party, which I suggest they call, The Party of Lincoln. If they run against Trumpster Republicans in two and four years, the Trumpsters could all be removed from office, replaced mostly by Democrats. Then, the Lincoln Project conservatives will be able to take back over the the defeated GOP if they want that brand for their own. I am of the same mind as others, like Thomas Friedman, who has written eloquently that our democracy needs at least two healthy, robust parties, to represent the democratic, moral and economic principles of both the left and the right, and hopefully both more centrist than the wing nut radicals of either.

Opinion | Thank You, Justice Gorsuch – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

“It may take a terrorist attack, a war or some other national emergency, but America will one day thank Justice Neil Gorsuch for his stirring words last week in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo. “Government,” he wrote in a concurrence to the 5-4 majority opinion, “is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis.”

The case arises from restrictions Andrew Cuomo imposed by executive order in October that sharply limit attendance at houses of worship in zones designated by the New York governor as pandemic hot spots. In so-called orange zones, attendance is capped at 25 people; in red zones, at 10. That goes for churches and synagogues that can seat hundreds and that were already limiting attendance, barring singing, practicing social distancing and taking other precautions.

The Catholic diocese, along with Agudath Israel of America and affiliated entities, sued, arguing the restrictions amounted to religious discrimination. The crux of the matter was that businesses in orange and red zones, ranging from liquor stores to bike shops to acupuncturists, were subject to no such restrictions because the governor had deemed them “essential.”

“So, at least according to the governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” Gorsuch wrote. “Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?” “

Opinion | Trump Contrives His Stab-in-the-Back Myth – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“The word Dolchstosslegende is hard to pronounce but important to understand. It translates as “stab-in-the-back myth” and was a key element in the revival of German militarism in the Weimar years. Even modestly educated Germans know exactly what it denotes and the evil it entails.

Donald Trump and his legal team are now contriving their own Dolchstosslegende.

That’s true even as Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the election seems to descend from fantasy to farce. The main point of the exercise is no longer (if it ever seriously was) to find a judge, governor or other pliable instrument to deny Joe Biden the presidency. It is to deny the legitimacy of the Biden presidency, of the electoral system that gave him the office and of the federal and judicial systems that turned Trump’s legal challenges aside.

The point of the farce is farce. It is to make an obscene joke of the Biden administration and our constitutional system of government.

This was also the point of the Dolchstosslegende, which claimed that the German Army, though in retreat in the fall of 1918, could have kept up the fight had it not been betrayed by defeatist and scheming politicians who agreed to an armistice that November.”

Opinion | Wish a President Well Who Doesn’t Wish You Well – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

” “Any mans death diminishes me,” wrote John Donne, “because I am involved in Mankinde.” With that thought, let us all wish Donald Trump a full and speedy recovery from his bout of Covid-19.

We wish him well because, even, or especially, in our hyperpolitical age, some things must be beyond politics. When everything is political, nothing is sacred — starting with human life. It’s a point the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century understood well.

We wish him well because the sudden death of any president is a traumatic national event that will inevitably animate every crackpot in the country. If the term “grassy knoll” still means something in America, just imagine the reaction in the QAnon world if Trump’s condition were to abruptly deteriorate after his stay at Walter Reed.

We wish him well because of Mike Pence.

We wish him well because, even as he tweets “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he could still serve as a living witness to the fact that if you stick a lot of maskless people close together you are likely to spread the virus, as it has to more than a dozen people, and counting, in his circle. Courage, says Aristotle, is the mean between rashness and cowardice. Trump may still be rash, but his followers don’t need to be.”

Opinion | The Doom Where It Happened – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“. . . . It took cynicism to work for a president whose character he disdained and whose worldview he opposed. It took gullibility to think he could blunt or influence either. It took cynicism to observe the president commit multiple potentially impeachable offenses and then sit out impeachment on the pathetic excuse that Democrats were going about it the wrong way and that his testimony would have made no meaningful difference. It took gullibility to assume his book would have any effect on Trump’s re-election prospects now. It took cynicism to reap profits thanks to a president he betrayed and a nation he let down. It took gullibility to imagine he’d be applauded as a courageous truth-teller when his motives are so nakedly vindictive and mercenary.

Above all, it took astonishing foolishness for Bolton to imagine that his book would advance the thing he claims to care about most — a hawkish vision of U.S. foreign policy. That vision will now be forever tarred by its association with him, a man considered a lunatic by most liberals and a Judas by many conservatives.

I write all this as someone who shares many of Bolton’s hawkish foreign-policy views. I’m also someone who urged Bolton, while he was still in office, to resign on principle. It’s a shame he didn’t do so while he still had a chance to preserve his honor, but it isn’t a surprise. Only the truly gullible can act totally cynically and imagine they can escape history’s damning verdict.”

Seth Bates, I enoyed what you wrote earlier about Bolten, and I do hope you find the time to read this. Even though Stephens and I often have very different policy views, I second his opinion of Bolton, who he describes as a pathetic opportunist. I am disgusted by Bolten’s position that Trump as president is a menace to the United States, but that he, as a pure hard-liner hawk, would never vote for Joe Biden. Bolten implicates himself in the mud slung by his accusers.

Opinion | Donald Trump, Unmasked – By Gail Collins and Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“Gail: The most working-class part of Trump’s bio was the time his father made him go around and collect the rent.

Bret: I don’t expect the Biden team to listen to my advice, and I’m not even sure I’d endorse every bit of this in a fantasy Stephens presidency. But the chief parts of the MAMA agenda (“Make America Make Again,”) would include an unprecedented infrastructure plan, worth at least a couple of trillion dollars. A “Made Here”-approach to the supply chain through some combination of insourcing requirements and tax breaks.

Gail: So far we are in accord.

Bret: Steady levels of defense spending, not only to deter foreign adventurism and keep our troops in uniform, but to maintain an important part of our industrial base.

Gail: Never bought into the idea that the best way to help our economy was by juicing up the international arms race.

Bret: A Recovery Authority that makes it quick and simple for businesses to get access to capital, restructure their debts and cut through red tape that is often time-consuming, complex and expensive, especially for small businesses. A National Service option to give younger people locked out of the job market a way to keep busy, make a basic income and contribute to society. Comprehensive immigration reform to give undocumented people a path to citizenship and bring them into the regular economy.

Gail: Looking forward to those things happening so we can argue about the details. But in general I’m with you.

Bret: I know you’re going to say “public option” for health insurance. In normal times I would never endorse it. But if we end up with Depression-era levels of unemployment, even I may warm to some version of the idea.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Wonderfkul conversation, thank you both Gail and Bret. Towards the end you said:
“Gail: Part of it goes back to that mask-wearing. Every time I walk outside I see my neighbors working together, accepting some discomfort for the common good. And almost everyone I talk with — or Zoom with — is thinking about great things to do as soon as we turn a corner.
Bret: Agreed. I hope people are going to find opportunities for self-reinvention, not just in terms of their working life but in the things they value in themselves and others, and in the values they hold dear. For instance, I’m sure many of our readers might gladly envision me stocking shelves at a big-box store, or shrimp fishing like Forrest Gump.”
David Lindsay: This got me excited. What would George Plimton do? If I were younger, and not at risk for being over 65, I would sign up to go get trained to work in a meat packing factory, so that I could describe for the reading public what that environment is like, and what the workers have to put up with, for what appears to be almost minimun wage. Bret, you are young enough, why don’t you try being a meat packer for a month or two! You would have such interesting things to write about!
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net, and is the author of The Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam.