Opinion | Biden Wants America to Lead the World. It Shouldn’t. – by Peter Beinart – The New York Times

David Lindsay:   I didn’t like the beginning of this piece, but it got better and better. Obama announced that on his watch, the US would not lead the world, but lead from behind. Biden is sounding very eager to return to world leadership, and it doesn’t sound right, and raises a few red flags. Peter Beinart calls for solidarity and team work, rather than follow the leader. It would be a nice rebranding of Lead from behind.

“Biden Wants America to Lead the World. It Shouldn’t.

“. . .   Mr. Biden has offered two justifications for why America deserves this privileged role. The first is hereditary: “For 70 years,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs, “the United States, under Democratic and Republican presidents, played a leading role in writing the rules” that “advance collective security and prosperity.” In other words, America should lead the world now because it has done so effectively in the past.

Between 1945 and 1989, according to Dov H. Levin’s book “Meddling in the Ballot Box,” the United States interfered in foreign elections 63 times. So Mr. Biden’s cheery history of American Cold War leadership leaves a lot out. But even if you romanticize the post-World War II era, it is long gone.

Seventy years ago, as James Goldgeier and Bruce W. Jentleson recently noted, the United States accounted for roughly half of the world’s gross domestic product. It now accounts for just over one-seventh. Collectively, the European Union’s G.D.P., adjusted for purchasing power parity, is almost as large as the United States’. China’s is already larger, and the coronavirus pandemic is likely to only widen the gap. The phrase “leadership” assumes a power hierarchy that, at least economically, no longer exists.

Mr. Biden’s second justification is moral. As he wrote in 2017, “other nations follow our lead because they know that America does not simply protect its own interests, but tries to advance the aspirations of all.” But it’s hard to survey America’s behavior in recent decades and glean some special commitment to global welfare. According to a study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, America’s post-9/11 wars have displaced 37 million people. And even before Donald Trump entered the White House, the United States had refused to ratify international treaties that ban land minescluster bombs and nuclear tests, regulate the global sale of armsprotect the oceans, enable prosecution of genocide and war crimes, and safeguard the rights of womenchildren and people with disabilities. Most countries on earth have ratified all or nearly all of these agreements. No other nation has spurned every single one.

Mr. Trump has added to this litany of noncompliance by withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Treaty on Open Skies and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This isn’t the record of a country that has earned the right to global leadership. It’s the record of a country that should work on global membership first.”  . . . .

“. . . .  It’s not ordinary Americans who believe the United States must “sit at the head of the table,” as Mr. Biden said last week. It is foreign-policy elites, who often slander public opposition to American primacy as isolationism. But there is a dissident foreign-policy tradition, often championed by those at the forefront of America’s domestic struggles for justice. In his 1967 speech opposing the Vietnam War, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the United States government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Such a government, he insisted, should not pretend “it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.” Rather than seeking to dominate the world, Dr. King argued, the United States should show “solidarity” with it: first, by curbing its own contributions to global misery and second, by joining with others to battle “poverty, insecurity and injustice.”

The Biden team should make solidarity — not leadership — its watchword for approaching the world. In so doing, it would acknowledge that while the United States can do much to help other nations, its first obligation — especially after the horrors of the Trump era — is to stop doing harm.”

Trump Steps Up Attacks on Mail Vote, Making False Claims About Michigan – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday incorrectly accused Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state of mailing ballots to all of the state’s registered voters, falsely claiming that it was illegal, as he escalated his assault against mail voting.

The president also threatened to withhold federal funds to Michigan and Nevada if the states proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts.

“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of primaries and the general election,” the president tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue secretary of state. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this voter fraud path!”

The Twitter post was the latest in a series of broadsides the president has aimed at the vote-by-mail process that has become the primary vehicle for voting in an electoral system transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
“WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday incorrectly accused Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state of mailing ballots to all of the state’s registered voters, falsely claiming that it was illegal, as he escalated his assault against mail voting.”
I really liked this article By Reid J. Epstein, and especially his opening paragraph. It is better to put fake news warning up front, so the reader will not possibly stop reading, before somewhere late in the piece, a disclaimer is revealed

The Gates Foundation has developed a cleaner, safer nuclear power plant and reactor – by David Lindsay Jr – InconvenientNews.Net

Yesterday was a wonderful day full of good news for environmentalists. And I’m not thinking about Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobushar, but of Bill and Melinda Gates. Someone at a recent  CT League of Conservation Voters meeting recently suggested to Kathleen Schomaker that she watch the new Netflix documentary, “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, who won an Academy award for “An Inconvenient Truth.”

There are three episodes, each about an hour. Part One, while describing Bill Gate’s blessed childhood in Seattle, bounces up to the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The short segments on the foundation, tell the story of it improving  sewage conditions in third world countries, especially by starting an international competition to invent a new toilet: a stand alone, recomposting toilet. The foundation also developed a new power plant that runs on fecal waste, creates electricity, and produces clean potable water. I have posted three reviews of the series at my blog, and one of them said that the reporting was full of technical “wonky” details on revolutionary toilet ideas!

Episode Two covered Bill’s high school years and getting to Microsoft, and how the Gates Foundation set about to eradicate polio from the planet. They were nearly successful in some of the worst places for polio in the world, like Nigeria, until the rise of Boko Haran. The terrorists started killing the vaccinators, and polio hasn’t been eradicated in Boko Haran territory.

But it is part three than got us wildly excited. The personal details of Bill and Melinda’s courtship and marriage, and the anti-trust cases against Microsoft were informative, but the big news was the third project of the Gates Foundation—developing a cleaner, safer nuclear power plant and reactor. A team of teams led by Bill came up with a new and radically different nuclear reactor design that they are quite confident will not be able to have a meltdown during even a missile strike. It will not run as hot, or need water for cooling, and it will run on nuclear waste–used and depleted uranium–so it will not create much more waste, and will give a use to all the nuclear waste dumps in the world today and use the waste up. If it works, it is a game changer. They decided the best place to build the first one was in China, since the Chinese were still actively building nuclear power plants, but when Trump came to office, he began tariffs and cancelled the carefully arranged partnership. The episode ended without more info. We just know that the Gates Foundation still has to build and test their first prototype somewhere, to see if the simulations in their labs and on their computers are accurate.

I’m for the men in the middle – By David Lindsay, Jr. – InconvenientNews.Net

For the lasrt six months, and still today, my first candidate is Joe Biden. It is telling that Ross Douthat, one of the new right wing conservatives opinion writers at the NYT, has chosen to write the essay endorsing Joe Biden. Douthat ends his op-ed:

“You lose any immediate chance at sweeping change, in other words, but you gain some room for incrementalism that greater ideological ambition might foreclose.

“Finally, the strongest argument for Biden is nonideological: More than the other candidates, he offers the possibility of a calmer presidency, where politics fades a bit from the daily headlines, where the average American is less bombarded by social-media swarms and cable-news freakouts, where gridlock and polarization persist but their stakes feel modestly reduced.  I’ll be honest: It wouldn’t be good news for political columnists, but as a citizen it doesn’t sound that bad.”

But I am also excited about either Michael Bloomberg or Pete Buttigieg.  Any of these three men in the middle of the political spectrum, and on the right side of the Democratic Party,  are the most likely, according to the polls that I am aware of and have studied, to beat Donald Trump where it matters, in the swing states that tilt the electoral college. Biden and Bloomberg are certainly more likely to attract swing voters, conservative independents and disgruntled Republicans, than either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeeth Warren.  These concerns largely explain why Trump has been calling the Ukraine for investigations into Biden, while quietly supporting, along with Russia, Bernie Sanders.

While I should possibly consider Amy Klobushar in this group of moderates, I don’t think many voters in the mid-west and red states will vote for a female for president, and I am turned off by the story in the NYT of how she mistreated minorities and immigrants when a prosecutor, and she has not impressed the voters in the causcuses and primaries we have had to date.

The United States and the world face some daunting challenges, climate change and the sixth extinction, growing income inequality, voter suppression, hate-based populism, pollution and overpopulation, to name some big ones. With Donald Trump and the current Republican Party on the wrong side of each one of these major issues, the outcome of the next election takes on special importance.


Children Freeze to Death as Attack Prompts Largest Exodus of Syrian War – The New York Times

“REYHANLI, Turkey — The baby wasn’t moving. Her body had gone hot, then cold. Her father rushed her to a hospital, going on foot when he could not find a car, but it was too late.

At 18 months, Iman Leila had frozen to death.

In the half-finished concrete shell that had been home since they ran for their lives across northwest Syria, the Leila family had spent three weeks enduring nighttime temperatures that barely rose above 20.

“I dream about being warm,” Iman’s father, Ahmad Yassin Leila, said a few days later by phone. “I just want my children to feel warm. I don’t want to lose them to the cold. I don’t want anything except a house with windows that keeps out the cold and the wind.”

Ahmad Yassin Leila and his infant daughter Iman, who froze to death.

Syria’s uprising began in a flare of hope almost exactly nine years ago. Now, amid one of the worst humanitarian emergencies of the war, some of those who chanted for freedom and dignity in 2011 want only to ward off the winter cold.”


David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
There is misery, suffering, blood and death on Trump’s hands. When he stabbed the Kurds in the back, by removing our small force that protected them from airstrikes from Russian and the Syrian government, he unleashed this terror on them and on our other allies in the area, the Syrian rebels, who I think, were being protected also by the military prowess of the Kurds. I am disgusted, and embarassed by our current president, and his subservience to Putin ofRussia, Bashar Al Assad of Syria, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

Opinion | Dems, Want to Defeat Trump? Form a Team of Rivals – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

“If this election turns out to be just between a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath, we will be in a terrible, terrible place as a country. How do we prevent that?

That’s all I am thinking about right now. My short answer is that the Democrats have to do something extraordinary — forge a national unity ticket the likes of which they have never forged before. And that’s true even if Democrats nominate someone other than Bernie Sanders.

What would this super ticket look like? Well, I suggest Sanders — and Michael Bloomberg, who seems to be his most viable long-term challenger — lay it out this way:

“I want people to know that if I am the Democratic nominee these will be my cabinet choices — my team of rivals. I want Amy Klobuchar as my vice president. Her decency, experience and moderation will be greatly appreciated across America and particularly in the Midwest. I want Mike Bloomberg (or Bernie Sanders) as my secretary of the Treasury. Our plans for addressing income inequality are actually not that far apart, and if we can blend them together it will be great for the country and reassure markets. I want Joe Biden as my secretary of state. No one in our party knows the world better or has more credibility with our allies than Joe. I will ask Elizabeth Warren to serve as health and human services secretary. No one could bring more energy and intellect to the task of expanding health care for more Americans than Senator Warren.”

David Lindsay: I’ve watched at least half of all the debates, and this idea has been in my mind since the first one. Thank you Tom Friedman, for saying so clearly what I and, according to the comments, many others, have been thinking.

 ‘Politics of Hate’ Takes a Toll in Germany Well Beyond Immigrants – By Katrin Bennhold and Melissa Eddy – The New York Times

“COLOGNE, Germany — The last time Henriette Reker ran for mayor, she was nearly killed.

Ms. Reker was handing out flowers to voters at a bustling market in Cologne in 2015, when a man took a rose with one hand and rammed a kitchen knife into her throat with the other. He wanted to punish her for her pro-refugee stance.

Five years later, Ms. Reker is running again. But she is an exception. Since she recovered from a coma to find herself elected, far-right death threats have become an everyday reality, not just for her but for an increasing number of local officials across Germany.

The acrimony is felt in town halls and village streets, where mayors now find themselves the targets of threats and intimidation. The effect has been chilling.

Some have stopped speaking out. Many have quit, tried to arm themselves or taken on police protection. The risks have mounted to such an extent that some German towns are unable to field candidates for leadership at all.”

David Lindsay: This is shockingly bad news about Germany.  The rise of the the extreme right there, and the violence and killings, seem to be an unexpected reaction to Merkel’s accepting over a million refugees in 2015, without the support of many Germans who felt threatened or betrayed.

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

“Welcome to Opinion’s commentary for the Feb. 19 Democratic presidential candidate debate in Las Vegas. In this special feature, Times Opinion writers rank the candidates on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 means the candidate probably didn’t belong on the stage and should probably drop out; 10 means it’s on, President Trump. Here’s what our columnists and contributors thought about the debate.

Read what our columnists and contributors thought of the Feb. 8 debate.

Elizabeth Warren8.4/10Average score”



David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Actually, while I’ve been a Biden supporter because of old Nate Cohn polls, my partner and I thought Michael Bloomberg won the debate. Read carefully what Daniel McCarthy wrote in this artice: “(5/10) — He isn’t ashamed of what he is, distasteful as that may be to other Democrats, particularly where his wealth and ugly history with women and minorities are concerned. His lack of defensiveness might let him brazen his way through the primaries as Trump did in the G.O.P.” We saw a sad but determined patriot and wise elder, deeply concerned about Trump. He showed up unprepared possibly on purpose. He showed up unarmed. We did not enjoy the others trying to cut him, in their fear of his power, resume and fortune.
I enjoyed listening to a former Obama political consultant on NPR this morning, who noted that Bloomberg showed up to take all this shit, before two primaries he isn’t in, to get it all out before the next debate, which he will prep for, and which will be before super Tuesday. Based on what we saw last night, I now expect Michael Bloomberg to prevail. This will not be a bad thing in my view, since I fear that neither Sanders or Warren will be able to win the electoral college, since every Republican I have interviewed, has said they would vote for Trump over either of these two, who they see as extremists.



In Trump Country, the Resistance Meets the Steel Curtain – By Campbell Robertson – The New York Times



“WASHINGTON, Pa. — In the winter of 2018, Cindy Callaghan knocked on doors. Lots and lots of doors. A new soldier in the sprawling ranks of the anti-Trump resistance, she spent her weekends in the small towns of southwestern Pennsylvania, telling strangers about Conor Lamb, the Democrat who was running for Congress in a district that President Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points.

When Mr. Lamb won his special election in a narrow but stunning upset, it seemed that there was an opportunity, if enough people put in enough work, to change minds and thus change the country’s politics. “I felt like there was,” Ms. Callaghan said.

Now, as she watches the Republicans’ swift rebuff of impeachment charges, the meltdown of the Iowa caucuses and the infighting among the supporters of various Democratic presidential candidates, she feels that less and less. “It doesn’t matter — find any kind of totally corrupt thing that Trump did and it doesn’t matter,” she said. “Republicans are just unified. They’re a damn steel curtain.”

“I’m taking a break until this summer,” she said.”

David Lindsay: I was not going to post this piece, as not interesting enough, until I came across the following comment after it:

ALB commented 4 hours ago


Scientists have done many psychological studies showing that it is extremely difficult to a person’s minds once it is made up. Our brains are hard-wired this way; once we have fabricated a “coherent” structure in our heads about something, it becomes our reality. (Good books on this subject are “Influence” by Robert Chaldini, and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahnemann.)

Apparently the very best way to ensure that a person doesn’t change his/her mind is to get that person to state a position in public, and then sign a document in public setting forth that position. Grover Norquists’s “No New Taxes” pledge, which works precisely this way, has guaranteed for years and years to keep Republican signers from ever agreeing to increase taxes.

So, what does this all mean for the Democrats? It means Democrats shouldn’t bother knocking on doors to try to talk people into switching sides. Instead, they need to spend their time getting Democratic voters registered, making sure they know where their polling places are, and getting them to the polls. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 18 million people, and represent 40% of the registered voter population, versus 28% for Republicans.

So despite the obstacles the Republicans have put in place to create a non-level playing field, Democrats CAN win back the Senate and the White House by turning out the Democratic vote.”

Opinion | Bernie Sanders Can’t Win – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times


Contributing Opinion Writer



Bernie Sanders at a campaign event in Sioux City, Iowa.
Credit…Mark Makela for The New York Times

“Watching “Succession,” the HBO show about the most despicable plutocrats to seize the public imagination since the Trumps were forced on us, made me want to tax the ultrarich into a homeless shelter. And it almost made a Bernie Bro of me.

That’s the thing about class loathing: it feels good, a moral high with its own endorphins, but is ultimately self-defeating. A Bernie Sanders rally is a hit from the same pipe: Screw those greedy billionaire bastards!

Sanders has passion going for him. He has authenticity. He certainly has consistency: His bumper-sticker sloganeering hasn’t changed for half a century. He was, “even as a young man, an old man,” as Time magazine said.

But he cannot beat Donald Trump, for the same reason people do not translate their hatred of the odious rich into pitchfork brigades against walled estates.

The United States has never been a socialist country, even when it most likely should have been one, during the robber baron tyranny of the Gilded Age or the desperation of the Great Depression, and it never will be. Which isn’t to say that American capitalism is working; it needs Teddy Roosevelt-style trustbusting and restructuring. We’re coming for you, Facebook.

The next month presents the last chance for serious scrutiny of Sanders, who is leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire. After that, Republicans will rip the bark off him. When they’re done, you will not recognize the aging, mouth-frothing, business-destroying commie from Ben and Jerry’s dystopian dairy. Demagogy is what Republicans do best. And Sanders is ripe for caricature.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you Tim Egan, I completely agree. I can’t get down far enough through the Bernie bros to find anyone who agrees with us. I have something for them though, do remember George McGovern, and how great he was. He lost in a landslide. Michael Dukakis lost by even more, I think he won only 14 electoral votes. Kennedy, Carter, Clinton, Obama were all moderates.
What really matters, with the maw of climate change and the 6th extinction hanging over us, is winning with an environmentalist. The polsters say Biden has a much better chance than Sanders or Warren, in the critical swing states. That is why Egan is right.