Gail Collins | Robocalls Are Not Even the Worst of It – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I am happy to inform you that the federal government is revving up the war on robocalls.

I checked on how things were going just after hanging up on a tinny-voiced woman who wanted to warn me that my car’s extended warranty was going to expire unless I pressed 1. In case I didn’t really care, she could take me off the calling list forever if I pressed 2.

Public service announcement: People, do not press 2. It’s press 1’s evil twin sister.

Robocalls refer to anything that comes to your phone via automated dialing. Which might include legal stuff you want to hear about, like a snow day.”

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.”

Gail Collins | Why Are We Still Going Great Guns? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Let’s take a look at how well Joe Biden is doing with his gun safety agenda.

We call this gun safety, people, because “gun control” makes a lot of politicians nervous. And really, what the heck? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that eliminating the sale of semiautomatic rifles would make the country more … gun safe.

Banning assault weapons was on Biden’s to-do list, along with universal background checks and a stronger, more forward-looking Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the leadership of David Chipman.

Well, here we are, less than a year into the administration, and Chipman’s nomination is kaput. Biden hasn’t yet come up with a new name. This is not all that unusual, since congressional gun politics has limited the A.T.F. to only one actual confirmed chief in the last 15 years.”

Gail Collins | What Makes Cuomo So Grabby? – The New York Times

” . . . He’s buried under these sexual harassment charges and nobody is defending him. Well, virtually nobody. Rudy Giuliani says driving Cuomo out of office would be “unjust, dangerous and entirely un-American.” People, do you think this is because:

A) Giuliani just wants to see Cuomo suffer through a long, painful impeachment.

B) Giuliani made the remark at a party after several tumblers of scotch.

C) Giuliani thinks it’ll help his son Andrew’s chances to be governor.

Yeah, yeah, it’s A. Well, very possibly all three. But short of Rudy, Cuomo does seem to need all the help he can get. He’s been trying to defend himself by showing pictures where he’s kissing and hugging lots of people who seem perfectly happy with the attention. Of course, some are elderly fans who were standing in line waiting for it. Others, like, say, Al Gore, seem … not transported.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Gail Collins. My lady and I are used to your writing being magnificent and funny, and this was fun to read aloud. We especially liked, “And then there’s the non-grabby Cuomo, who looks almost as bad in the James report. Some women said his “flirtatious behavior” was problematic, but still “a better alternative to the otherwise tense, stressful and ‘toxic’ experience in the Executive Chamber.” Don’t think it’s possible to defend yourself against charges of unwanted grabbing by proving your targets were even more traumatized when you screamed at them.”

Gail Collins | Who Sold That Gun? Nobody’s Telling. – The New York Times

“. . .  It’s very possible he acquired the gun in a street deal, or borrowed it from a friend. But we’re not going to learn anything about who originally purchased it, or where. That’s because — bet you didn’t know this, people — it’s illegal for the authorities who track this stuff to let the public know.

Yes! This is thanks to the Tiahrt amendment, first passed in 2003, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing information with … almost anybody. It also limits the F.B.I.’s ability to hang onto gun background check data, requiring its quick destruction. All in all, the idea is to give gun dealers approximately as much right to privacy as cloistered nuns.

Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman from Kansas, has been out of office since his political career crashed in 2010 because of an unfortunate attempt to move up to the Senate. But his amendment lives on and on and on. As a result, it’s pretty much impossible for the public to know if there are one or two particular gun dealers in their town who’ve sold a whopping number of weapons that were later used in crimes.

“The A.T.F. has a tremendous amount of data,” said Josh Scharff, legal counsel for Brady, the gun-safety advocacy organization. Five percent of gun dealers, Scharff said, are responsible for selling 90 percent of the guns used in crimes.   . . .   “

Gail Collins | Our Firearms Problems Just Keep Piling Up – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…George Frey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

” “Lock them up. There are things that you can do,” a Houston assistant police chief said last week after a 3-year-old boy fatally shot his 8-month-old baby brother in the family home.

The assistant chief was talking about guns, not the 3-year-old. Obviously. Although in some parts of the country, the idea of putting kids in prison seems to elicit more enthusiasm than the idea of locking away the weapons.

This kind of disaster happens way, way, way too much. Last year at least 371 children stumbled across a loaded gun and fired, causing 143 deaths and 243 injuries. In one case, a 3-year-old shot himself to death with a pistol that had fallen out of the pocket of a member of his family — apparently while the adults were playing cards.

None of this has led to any significant change in the national attitude toward deadly weapons. Many Americans like to arm themselves to the teeth as protection from crime — and bleep over the danger that comes with all that hardware, especially in the hands of people who aren’t really equipped to use it.  . . . . . “

Opinion | When the Filibuster Turns Deadly – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

“You may have heard that the House just passed a couple of very, very moderate gun safety bills. They now go to the Senate, where Republicans are hoping to let them molder forever in a closet somewhere.

But hey, maybe not. The mood in Washington is different these days. Spring is in the air! A $1.9 trillion relief program is on the books! If the Senate Democrats overcome a filibuster to tighten our gun laws — even the tiniest bit — we can tell ourselves that nothing is impossible.

The gun bills are part of the Democrats’ post-coronavirus agenda, and the debate began the way most such arguments begin, with opponents claiming that making it more difficult to purchase deadly weapons will lead to more crime. Because, see, you need a weapon in your house to scare off murderous intruders.” . . .

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