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

Opinion | The Republican Irritation Olympics – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

“So which Senate Republican do you find most irritating? Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney?

I know there are lots of other contenders, but let’s stick with the men of the moment — the three stars of the Supreme Court follies! All famous for keeping their word except when it involves, you know, something they really want.

All currently supporting Donald Trump’s plan to get a new Supreme Court justice in place before the election. That’s just a little over a month, and far less time than it would normally take Congress to modify the rules on mackerel importation.

Of course, they all found it totally, deeply unacceptable when Barack Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice during his last year in office. McConnell, in fact, hated the idea of a Democratic president nominating judges at all. He dragged his feet so successfully that when Trump entered the White House, McConnell was able to go into a legislative closet somewhere and gift him with 105 moldering judicial vacancies. Probably the greatest achievement of the Senate majority leader’s career. Nothing Mitch cares about more than keeping Democrats off the court benches.”

David Lindsay:  You go Gail.  Here is the top comment, and the reason I posted the piece above.

D Price
Wayne, NJ Sept. 23

Two of these three are up for re-election this year. I beg the good citizens of Kentucky to vote for Amy McGrath, and rid us all of Mitch McConnell — whose power is ridiculously out of proportion to the mere 806,787 votes that put him in office. And I likewise beg the good citizens of South Carolina to cast their ballots for Jaime Harrison. Lindsey can check himself into a clinic to have his principles re-oriented. Those of us who don’t live in either state might consider a cash contribution to the campaigns of these two challengers. It would be lovely if Gail never had to write about McConnell or Graham again.

14 Replies1048 Recommended

Opinion | Vote for Trump’s Worst! – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“OK, people, I know you’re feeling a little wan and helpless these days. Sure does seem like a long time until November.

So let’s take an early vote and pick Donald Trump’s Worst Cabinet Member. The competition is intense this year. Some days it feels as if everybody in the administration is trying to grab the grand prize. That they’re running around with a list in their pocket titled Things to Screw Up.

Vice President Mike Pence has been a faithful hanger-on from Day 1. He’s now doing double duty as Trump’s coronavirus czar. In which capacity he predicted on April 24 that the epidemic would be “behind us” by Memorial Day weekend.

Last season’s winnerAttorney General William Barr, certainly hasn’t been resting on his laurels. At a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, he had to be prodded twice before acknowledging that presidential candidates aren’t supposed to accept foreign assistance. When asked if he agreed with Trump’s shocking suggestion that a president could move Election Day, Barr said, “I’ve never looked into it.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Gee Gail, this is a hard one to figure out. You didn’t offer the choice of — All of the Above. So I vote for Mike Pompeo as the worst cabinet member of the year.
I just re-read Tom Friedman’s excellent condemnation, which included: “Pompeo’s two most notable accomplishments as secretary of state are, metaphorically speaking, shooting two of his senior State Department officials in the back. One was the distinguished U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Pompeo removed on the orders of Trump and Trump’s nut-job lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The other was the department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, whom Pompeo got Trump to fire, reportedly because he was investigating — wait for it now — Pompeo’s own efforts to evade a congressional ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and for improperly asking a State Department employee to run errands for him and his wife. Hell, if that were me — if the first foreign-planned terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 developed on my watch and if I had just gotten rid of the State Department inspector general without explanation — I’d also be trying to distract attention.
I mean, if it were me, I might even claim that China concocted the coronavirus in a lab in Wuhan. Wait — that’s what Pompeo did!”
DL:    He also oversaw our rapid retreat from northern Syria. We left our allies their to be butchered by the our enemies in the region, when just the presence of our troops kept them in place to fight for us. So I vote for Mike Pompeo.

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.

Opinion | Joe Biden Is No Longer Toast – Collins and Stephens – The New York Times

Gail Collins: Hey Bret, how are you feeling? I’ve never had so many people politely inquire about my health, with a slight undertone of suspicion.

Seems like all anybody’s talking about is the coronavirus. What’s your take? Are we overreacting? Underreacting? Or doesn’t it matter since the end is imminent?

Bret Stephens: Fine so far, Gail, and thanks for asking, though I’m worried about my elderly relatives and friends. This is one of those topics where those of us in the punditocracy really need to listen closely to epidemiologists, virologists and other experts in the field, and pretty much adopt their views as our own. In other words, let’s not follow the Rush Limbaugh model and just mouth off on the hunch that it won’t amount to much and the prejudice that it’s a tool to bring down Donald Trump.

On a level of ordinary social observation, I have to say this is starting to have an end-times feeling to it. I walked into a Duane Reade pharmacy the other day and entire shelves had been emptied, as if I were in a Soviet grocery store. At another pharmacy, on Lexington Avenue, a midsize bottle of Purell was being sold behind the counter for $50, which almost turned me into a raging Sandersnista. I was supposed to have been traveling abroad last week, but that trip was canceled, as was a forthcoming conference in Georgia.”

Opinion | Searching for the Perfect Trump Antidote – By Gail Collins – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Perhaps you think New Hampshire sent us a mixed message. After all, Bernie Sanders won but the moderates got more votes, and on Tuesday night three different candidates seemed to be giving victory speeches.

What does the Democratic rank-and-file really want? Well, the answer is: Ralph in Michigan.

Ralph is the symbol of all the people in swing states who went for Barack Obama and then turned Republican in 2016. Democrats want him back! They care way less about finding a candidate with the perfect health care plan than finding one who can rid the world of President Trump.

And who does Ralph want? Somebody who looks more reasonable than the current occupant of the White House? Well, that’s all the Democratic candidates. And pretty much every other elected official in recent memory.

OK, maybe not the senator who got arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s restroom. But even the congressman who used campaign donations to fly around his pet bunny can’t compare to a president who bills the government $650 a night for putting up the agents who have to provide security when he goes to Mar-a-Lago.”

Opinion | The Odd Couples of the Democratic Party – Bret and Gail, at The New York Times

“Bret: Rest assured that no matter what happens this year, the Knicks will embarrass us. The key for Democrats isn’t so much to take a position on Suleimani as it is to convey a sense of sobriety when it comes to questions of peace and war.

Gail: Well, that’s certainly fair. And not too tough. If you look at the contenders, they’re not exactly a bunch of what-the-heck-let’s-party people.

Bret: If I wanted the Democratic nomination (I don’t!), or were a Democrat (I’m not!), I’d say something along these lines: “Suleimani killed Americans, and on my watch anyone who kills Americans is a dead man walking. Period. But the goal of saving American lives requires prudence and vision, not bravado, impulse and political calculation. As president, I will oppose Iran’s dangerous behavior at every turn, whether against us or our allies. But I’m not going to hazard our position in the region, or risk a reckless war, or ruin the chances for a negotiated nuclear deal, just to kill one evil but easily replaceable man. And, unlike Trump, I’m going to listen closely to my soldiers and diplomats before I go around signing kill orders just because I like feeling tough.”

Gail: I would definitely vote for you, if you’d just consider embracing “Medicare for all” and a tax hike for the wealthy.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Lovely column, makes for pleasant reading. The best part for me was when Bret pointed out that killing Suliemani wasn’t as important as returning to the Iran Nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of, and which caused the Iranians to start shooting at us again. From the Iranian government point of view, the US is the biggest terrorist in the middle east.
My current choice for the Democrats is Biden/Buttigieg. These are all excellent people, miles above Drumpf the con, but all these musing will need to be reassessed by new swing state polling. Warren/Klobushar would be a fantastic ticket, if we could do away with the electoral college before the next election.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net