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 | Trump’s Coronavirus Emergency – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Nemesis, 1501–2, by Albrecht Dürer.

“The word “nemesis” is too often misused. We tend to think of it as meaning a powerful, nefarious, but ultimately conquerable enemy: Vader; Voldemort; the Wicked Witch of the West. But the original Nemesis was not a villain. She was a goddess — an implacable agent of justice who gives the arrogant, insolent and wicked what they deserve.

As a matter of public health, nobody should ever suggest that the novel coronavirus represents any form of justice, divine or otherwise. It’s a virus that must be stopped.

As a matter of politics, however, it’s hard to think of a mechanism so uniquely well-suited for exposing the hubris, ignorance, prejudice, mendacity and catastrophic self-regard of the president who is supposed to lead us through this crisis.

A few points to mention.

Alternative facts. In recent days, conservative pundits appear to have been scandalized by the suggestion that the coronavirus is Donald Trump’s Chernobyl. They miss the point, which is not that the virus is a nuclear furnace. It’s that the same absence of trust that pervaded the relationship between the Soviet regime and its people also pervades the relationship between much of America and its president.

A leader who cannot be believed will not be followed, even, or especially, in periods of emergency. If Trump’s supporters now wonder why Americans won’t rally around the president as they did around George W. Bush after 9/11, there’s the answer.”

Opinion | Trump’s Whisper Network – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“And a new version of the Miranda warning seems to apply across all media, social and traditional: Anything you say, or have ever said, in context or out, deliberately or by misspeaking, can and will be held against you.

Which brings me to what is perhaps the biggest whisper network of all: the one involving inner flashes of sympathy, frequently tipping into support at the ballot box, for President Trump.

Plenty of people are aware of this phenomenon: One recent academic study noted that so-called secret voters supported Trump over Hillary Clinton by a two-to-one (54 percent to 27 percent) margin in 2016. That statistic should be every bit as alarming to Democrats this time around, not least because it suggests that polls may be dramatically underweighting the scale of Trump’s support.

Yet beyond the question of why people might want to conceal their voting preferences — reputation management, social harmony, and so on — it’s worth asking whether the very fact that a vote for Trump was supposed to be shameful is also what made it so attractive. After all, forbidden fruit is appealing not because it is fruit, but because it is forbidden. For every voter who pulled the lever for Trump out of sympathy for his views, how many others did so out of disdain for the army of snickering moralists (at the time including me) telling them that a vote for Trump was unpardonable?

My hunch: probably enough to make the difference in the states that made the difference.”

Opinion | What Will It Take to Beat Donald Trump? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

President Trump at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on the night he was impeached by the House of Representatives.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both campaigned for, and won, the White House on the watchword “hope.” What watchword will it take for a Democrat to win this time?

My suggestion: soap.

Nearly three years into Donald Trump’s presidency, America needs a hard scrub and a deep cleanse. It needs to wash out the grime and grease of an administration that every day does something to make the country feel soiled.

Soiled by a president who, Castro-like, delivered a two-hour rant at a rally in Michigan the night he was impeached. Who described his shakedown of Ukraine as “perfect.” Who extolled the world’s cruelest tyrant as someone who “wrote me beautiful letters. … We fell in love.” Who abandoned vulnerable allies in Syria, then opted to maintain troops in the country “only for oil.” Who, barely a year before the El Paso massacre, demonized illegal immigrants who “pour into and infest our Country.”

The list goes on, and most everyone feels it. In June, the Pew Research Center published a survey on how the country sees the state of public discourse. The most striking finding: “A 59 percent majority of Republicans and Republican leaners say they often or sometimes feel concerned by what Trump says. About half also say they are at least sometimes embarrassed (53 percent) and confused (47 percent) by Trump’s statements.”

Opinion | Mexico’s Fast Track Toward a Failed State – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Luis Torres/EPA, via Shutterstock

“MEXICO CITY — On a working visit here, I have dinner with one of the country’s elder statesmen and listen to him describe its greatest challenges. He names three: “Rule of law. Rule of law. And rule of law.”

The truth of the observation is underscored a few days later, when gunmen kill nine members of the LeBarón family along a back-country road in the northern state of Sonora. The motive for the massacre is unclear, but its barbarity is not: three women and six children, including infant twins, shot at close range and burned alive in their cars.

The episode has gained major attention in the U.S. largely because the LeBaróns are part of a longstanding American Mormon presence in northern Mexico. (George Romney, the late Michigan governor and Mitt’s father, was born in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua in 1907, which he was forced to flee as a child during the Mexican Revolution.)

But the reason the killings really matter is that they are yet another reminder that Mexico is on a fast track toward becoming a failed state.”

David Lindsay: Here are the top NYT comments, some of which I endorsed:

melissa
fingerlakes new york
Times Pick

And where do the drug cartels get their power? From money, by selling drugs. And who is buying the drugs? US citizens. Maybe we should frame the argument as the US has a drug problem that is affecting the social fabric of Mexico. For as long as I can remember, Mexico has had a corruption problem. What has changed is the extent to which drug money has flowed into the country from the US. We need to work together to solve this problem. Brett’s idea of a large powerful ‘civil military’ seems particularly dangerous as it raises the specter of a military junta taking over the country and destroying Mexico’s democracy.

10 Replies327 Recommend

 

Jon commented 7 hours ago

Jon
Darien CT

Legalize drugs, and this particular problem goes away. Doing so introduces other problems, of course, which can be managed with treatment, education and consequential punishment for misuse. No solution is perfect. But it’s past time to move beyond prohibition as a strategy.

11 Replies276 Recommended

 

AnObserver commented 7 hours ago

AnObserver
Upstate NY

We most definitely are part of this problem. Our “war on drugs” created the cartels. Our prohibition on drugs provides them the revenue they need. These cartel wars are no different than the inter-gang fights during Prohibition here. Our open and unfettered access to military grade weaponry along with the “iron pipeline” to Mexico provides them with arms. Of course there were weaknesses in Mexico that enabled this to happen but, like it or not, the single largest contributor to this issue is the United States.

2 Replies235 Recommended

 

Drspock commented 28 minutes ago

Drspock
New York
Times Pick

If we’re serious about the well being of Mexico we might start by reforming both our gun laws and our own drug laws. We are the final destination of the illegal drugs that make up the cartels empire. Our banks launder their money and make enormous fees in the process. Yet, prosecutions of those banks rarely occurs and when it does, like HSBC, they pay a fine and move on. Not a single bank executive has ever faced prosecution for laundering drug money. We also know that by decriminalizing drug use and treating it as a public health issues in the US we can substantially reduce the profits from that industry. Most of the guns wrecking havoc throughout Mexico come across the border from Texas, where they can be bought legally, shipped in illegally and sold for huge profits. If Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state, we seem oblivious to our contribution to their problems. Ultimately Mexico will have to address these issues. But the US should not be making that effort more difficult. Yet, we are and for some reason Stephens seems to omit this fact.

1 Reply193 Recommended

Opinion | Is China Heading for Crisis? – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“In 2001, Gordon Chang, an American lawyer who had spent many years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, published a book forebodingly titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” At the time, the thesis seemed improbable, if not preposterous.

It looks a great deal less improbable now.

China — or, rather, the Chinese regime — is in trouble. Tuesday’s gigantic parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic looked like something out of the late Brezhnev era: endless military pomp and gray old men. Hong Kong is in its fourth straight month of protests, marked and stained by this week’s shooting of an unarmed teenage demonstrator. The Chinese economy is growing at its slowest rate in 27 years, even when going by the overstated official figures.

Meantime, capital is fleeing China — an estimated $1.2 trillion in the past decade — while foreign investors sour on Chinese markets. Beijing’s loudly touted Belt-and-Road initiative looks increasingly like a swamp of corruption, malinvestment and bad debt. Its retaliatory options in the face of Donald Trump’s trade war are bad and few. And General Secretary Xi Jinping has created a cult-of-personality dictatorship in a style unseen since Mao Zedong, China’s last disastrous emperor.

Remember the “Chinese Dream” — Xi’s vision of China as a modern, powerful, and “moderately well-off” state? Forget it. The current task for Chinese leadership is to avoid a full-blown nightmare of international isolation, economic decline, and domestic revolt.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Bret writes well, but doesn’t seem to know much about China. In reading the comments, I am reminded that most Chinese do not care about democracy, but getting out of poverty, and they are pleased with their government.
One astute writer this summer, pointed out that China doesn’t need Hong Kong’s market anymore. The Chinese market makes China independent financially from Hong Kong. That writer suggested that the dissidents of Hong Kong are doomed. I am impressed that the CCP has announced a $500 billion push over the next five years into solar and sustainable energy. They have announced that all cars will be electric by 2030, and now have 42 companies making electric cars. The News Hour showed last night that you have to join a lottery to get a automoblie license, and it getting harder and harder to get a license for gas vehicles.
A Vietnamese professor teaching at a universtiy in the USA, recently reported that the top government officials of Vietnam have been bought out by the Chinese CCP, and are quietly not fighting China’s take over of the South China Sea. There is a question among my friends about whether a democracy like the United States, is capable of dealing with the existencial threat of the climate crisis.
If the oil and gas companies continue to control our politics for their short term profit, we might be the biggest threat to our own future.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | A Wretched Start for Democrats – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“Amigos demócratas,

Si ustedes siguen así, van a perder las elecciones. Y lo merecerán.

Translation for the linguistically benighted: “Democratic friends, if you go on like this, you’re going to lose the elections. And you’ll deserve it.”

In this week’s Democratic debates, it wasn’t just individual candidates who presented themselves to the public. It was also the party itself. What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?

Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.

They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off.”

Opinion | Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Protesters faced off against the police in Hong Kong on Wednesday.CreditDale De La Rey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Imagine if in 2018 the Trump administration had proposed legislation that would allow the government, on nearly any pretext, to detain, try and imprison Americans accused of wrongdoing at secretive black sites scattered across the country.

Imagine, further, that 43 million Americans had risen in protest, only to be met by tear gas and rubber bullets while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan rushed the bill through a pliant Congress. Finally, imagine that there was no effective judiciary ready to stop the bill and uphold the Constitution.

That, approximately, is what’s happening this week in Hong Kong.

An estimated one million people — nearly one in seven city residents — have taken to the streets to protest legislation that would allow local officials to arrest and extradite to the mainland any person accused of one of 37 types of crime. Political offenses are, in theory, excluded from the list, but nobody is fooled: Contriving criminal charges against political opponents is child’s play for Beijing, which can then make its victims disappear indefinitely until they are brought to heel.

In 2015, mainland authorities abducted five Hong Kong booksellersknown for selling politically sensitive titles and held them in solitary confinement for months until they pleaded guilty to various offenses. In 2017 Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was abducted by Chinese authorities from the Four Seasons in Hong Kong. He hasn’t been seen publicly since, while his company is being stripped of its holdings.”

Opinion | Joe Biden: Be Proud of Your Crime Bill – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Joe Biden, right, with George Mitchell, speaking to reporters in 1994, after a vote ensuring the passage of the crime bill.CreditCreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Joe Biden has been attacked by politicians on the left — and now, thanks to Donald Trump, on the right — for his role in shepherding the 1994 crime bill through Congress. One of these attacks is simply cynical. The other is dangerous.

For those whose memories of early 1990s America are either foggy or nonexistent, it’s worth recalling what life in much of urban America was like back then. A sample:

“The death yesterday of a 41-year-old armed security guard from Long Island was not an uncommon occurrence in East New York,” The Times reported on Dec. 20, 1993. “Indeed, it followed 13 other killings in the 75th Precinct in the last nine days.”

“What was uncommon about the killing,” the report continued, “was that it broke a 20-year record for homicides in a single precinct, although with a footnote. Maurice Matola, the victim, was by unofficial count the 124th person killed this year in the 75th Precinct. … Last night, a shooting on Georgia Avenue made Anthony Broadnax, 17, the 125th person killed.”

Fast-forward more than two decades to another story in The Times about the same neighborhood. “Once the ‘Killing Fields,’ East New York Has No Murders in 2018,” ran an April 2018 headline, noting that the neighborhood had experienced a 129-day stretch without homicides. Citywide, New York ended last year with just under 300 murders, down 85 percent from the 1,960 it suffered in 1993.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Here is good work by Bret Stephens. He goes a bit off when he calls the work of Steven Levitt, which appeared in “Freakonomics,” as flaky. His link went to: “THE IMPACT OF LEGALIZED ABORTION ON CRIME* JOHN J. DONOHUE III AND STEVEN D. LEVITT “We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed signiŽcantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly eighteen years after abortion legalization. The Žve states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.” The work described so well in Freakonomics showed that the legalization did show a favorable correlation with the future drop in crime, and was in some ways more compelling than the so called police reforms, which didn’t work everywhere they were tried. They worked mostly where abortion had been legallized earlier than Roe v Wade. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com