Opinion | Joe Biden’s Stutter Is His Superpower – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“In school they called him Stutterhead and taunted him with “H-H-H-H-Hey, J-J-J-J-J-Joe B-B-B-B-Biden.” He felt shame and embarrassment and was afraid people would think something was wrong with him. Early on, he learned who the bullies were and plotted his revenge.

In the first of three presidential debates next week, he will face off against the world’s most powerful bully, a gutter-dwelling man allergic to decency. If the past is any indication, President Trump will belittle his opponent for what Biden calls “the only handicap that people still laugh about.”

Please do. For here’s the thing, folks, as Biden would say: The Democratic presidential nominee is at his best when making a virtue of the rough edges of his humanity. Embracing a lifelong struggle to overcome a stutter, and the stumbles that have happened along the way, Uncle Joe is a hard man to dislike.

In that same vein, Biden has finally gone where Hillary Clinton would not, but should have: straight at Trump’s whiny rich-kid privilege. “I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me,” Biden said last week. “These are the guys who always thought they were better than me, better than us, because they had a lot of money.” “

Opinion | Kamala Harris, the Prosecutor Trump Fears Most – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, our case today is against the most powerful man in the world. And using the most powerful weapon of government by the people, you can hold this man accountable for the first time in his life, when you pass judgment on Nov. 3.

We will show that President Trump has made a mockery of the Constitution, has lied to you more than 20,000 times and is currently trying to sabotage the Postal Service in a desperate bid to cling to power. But worse than any of that, he is responsible for thousands of Americans who have died during his willful mismanagement of the pandemic. The case against him is “open-and-shut,” as your prosecutor said Wednesday, and factually incontrovertible.

That prosecutor, Senator Kamala Harris, is a woman who has spent most of her professional life going after criminals. And since that prosecutor will occupy a space inside Trump’s head for the next three months, he should grant her the decency of properly pronouncing her name. It’s not Ca-mall-uhas he has said. It’s Comma-la.

Let the record show that she has already called him what he is. “I know predators, and we have a predator living in the White House,” she said last year. “The thing you must importantly know, predators are cowards.” “

Opinion | Bill Gates Is the Right Tycoon for a Coronavirus Age – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

“. . . Beyond the $300 million that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given to blunt the spread of the virus, Gates has made himself a spokesman for science. It needs one. While President Trump spouts life-threatening nonsense, Gates calmly explains how a spike protein of coronavirus fits into the urgent hunt for a vaccine.

In 2018, he took the stage in Beijing with a jar of human poop. This, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo, was his way of stressing that about 500,000 young children die every year from diseases linked to poor sanitation — a problem his foundation has tackled.”

Opinion | The World Is Taking Pity on Us – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Evan Vucci/Associated Press

“In 1847, members of the Choctaw Nation sent relief money across the Atlantic to a starving Ireland — something the Irish, who lost more than a million people in a famine made worse by British indifference, have never forgotten. The Irish are now giving financial aid to Native American tribes hit with a pandemic that has been made worse by American incompetence.

This is a gracious act, a boomerang of good will, as reported by my colleagues Ed O’Loughlin and Mihir Zaveri. But it also shows how much of the world has started to feel sorry for a nation laid low by the lethal ineptitude of President Trump.

“The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful,” wrote Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times. And he asked: “Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode?”

Before we take up O’Toole’s question, let’s look at where we rank in the worst global crisis since World War II. In Trump’s assessment, his government has done a “spectacular job” with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“And I’ll tell you, the whole world is excited watching us because we’re leading the world,” he said, in an updated pat on the back this week.

He’s right about the leading part: Every 49 seconds or so, throughout the first week in May, an American has been dying of this disease. With 1.3 million reported cases, the United States, just five percent of the world’s population, has nearly 33 percent of the sick. With more than 75,000 deaths, we’re at the front of the pack as well. No country comes close on all three measures.

Globally, the average death rate is 34 people per million residents. In the United States, it’s more than six times higher — 232 per million.

South Korea and the United States both reported their first cases of Covid-19 at the same time, in the third week of January. South Korea immediately started testing on a mass scale and socially isolating. The United States denied, dithered and did next to nothing for more than two months.

By the end of April, new cases in South Korea were down to less than 10 a day. In the United States at that time, the pandemic raged at a daily rate of more than 25,000 newly sick. New Zealand, which also quickly went into lockdown, reported no new cases earlier this week for the first time since mid-March.

“The United States reacted like Pakistan or Belarus, like a country with a shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.” That’s the indictment of The Atlantic’s George Packer, calling the United States a failed state.”

Opinion | Facing the Coronavirus, Republicans Aren’t So Pro-Life After All – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Sergio Flores/Getty Images

I look at the numbers every day, sometimes every hour, sometimes before dawn. China is not to be trusted. Nor is Russia. I’m always curious about the latest death toll out of Sweden, a country with a riskier, more self-regulated approach to keeping people apart. And cheers for long-suffering bell’Italia, finally seeing a drop in active Covid-19 cases.

All of us want the same thing — a road map to the way out. The scientific consensus is clear and not that complicated: We need a significant upgrade of testing, contact tracing to track the infected, nuanced and dutiful social isolation, all to buy time until a vaccine is developed.

But the political way out reveals a stark divide, and some true madness. For Republicans, that pro-life slogan of theirs is just another term for nothing left to lose. They are now the party of death.

When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas doubled down this week on prior remarks elevating commerce above life — there are “more important things than living,” he said on Fox News — he was speaking for a significant slice of his party. People are disposable. So is income. But one is more important.

Opinion | California Takes Revenge on Trump – By Timothy Egan- The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“President Trump clearly hates the most populous state in the country he governs. While trashing California with his gutter mouth, the president has used his office to physically trash the home to nearly one in eight Americans — seeking to make its air more polluted, its water less clean, its forests more vulnerable to catastrophic fires.

But now the Golden State is poised to strike back. By moving its presidential primary from June to March 3, California will finally exert a political influence commensurate to its size. Almost 500 delegates, a fourth of the number needed to win the Democratic nomination, are at stake.

Perhaps more consequential — or at least overlooked — is what’s happening among the vast diaspora of more than 7.3 million people who have left California since 2007. They appear to be changing the political makeup of the states they’ve moved to, perhaps enough to alter the Electoral College map in favor of Democrats.

With nearly 40 million people, California is still gaining population — barely. But stratospheric home prices and unbearable rental costs have created a reverse “Grapes of Wrath,” forcing those who are not rich to flee to states with much lower costs of living.

The question is: Are they bringing California values — fierce defense of the environment, tolerance of immigrants and a multiracial society, insistence on universal health care — with them? It could be just demographic churn. But if you look at the changing politics of Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, all fast-growing states packed with new arrivals from California, the answer is yes. Texas may not be far behind.”

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

By

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.

Opinion | The Day That Decided the 2020 Election – by Timothy Egan – The New York Times

“The impeachment hearings had been bumping along, the main story clear: a parade of impeccable public servants trying to uphold the values of their country against a gangster White House. A candidate who had gloated over chants of “lock her up” for an opponent who had used unsecured emails had, once elected, conducted foreign policy by extortion, on open cellphone lines penetrated by the Russians.

Most Americans felt that Trump had committed an impeachable offense, but barely half favored removing him by the constitutional equivalent of the death penalty.

Instead, he said that the unusual diplomatic dance in Ukraine was not part of a rogue operation holding up American tax dollars as part of a scheme to take down a political opponent. It was White House policy, the government of the people in service of one person.

“We followed the president’s orders,” he said. “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” “

Opinion | Worst Democratic Strategy Yet: Attack Obama’s Legacy – The New York Times

Timothy Egan

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

ImageBarack Obama, of all people, is now a target for candidates from the left, Tim Egan writes.
CreditCreditAl Drago/The New York Times

“With 66 weeks to go until the election, the Democrats tasked with saving a sinking ship of state have shown that they would rather drown in a sea of self-righteousness than steer the Donald Trump-rotted hulk to a fresh shore.

You know the presidential debates this week were a disaster for Democrats because Republican attack ads are already parroting the lines used by the leading candidates: Take away people’s private health care, decriminalize the border, socialism!

And rather than effectively prosecute the easy case against the worst president ever, the Democrats went after one of the best: Barack Obama. This is a winning strategy only in a world where everyone gets a trophy, which is to say, much of the younger Democratic base.

Debates are supposed to refine and reduce a party’s message. The unwinnable and unpopular are shown to be just that. Crazy falls away. Good ideas rise. A story emerges. A governing strategy is presented. You can imagine the Day After Trump, which is what a majority of the country desperately wants.”

Opinion | The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred.

Timothy Egan

By Timothy Egan,    Contributing Opinion Writer

“Kids in cages and tanks for the tyrant. After that dictator-friendly Fourth of July, it’s time for all true patriots to conduct a political gut check.

“Like many people, I’m worried about the Democrats. A majority of Americans are desperate for someone to dislodge the despot from the White House. And yet some Democrats are pushing policy positions — such as taking away private health insurance from more than 150 million people — that are deeply unpopular.

The smarter candidates will rethink this, and soon, or otherwise ensure that an awful American aberration is more than a one-off.

But as troubled as I am by the Democrats, I’m terrified of the Republicans. In numerous surveys of a party that has adopted the worst pathologies of President Trump, Republicans have shown themselves to be explicitly anti-American. The Founders would gag. So would Abraham Lincoln.”

“. . . . Trump has compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, which is like comparing a noxious weed to a redwood tree. When the anti-immigrant Know Nothing party was at its height in the 1850s, Lincoln had this to say: “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be?” He continued, “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’” ”

David Lindsay:

Thank you Tim Eagan, for light and truth. Here is the most popular comment, which, along with many others, I endorse.

CD In Maine
Freeport, ME
Times Pick

Thank you Timothy Egan for your harsh characterization of the American South. I so often dream about the kind of nation the U.S. would be but for the outsized influence of southern culture on our government and politics, which has been a counter-force to the realization of the American ideal since the country’s birth. We would more likely resemble Canada or New Zealand. The Republican Party is now the political reflection of the worst of southern culture. The racism, militarism, paranoia, and anti-intellectualism that animates the Republican Party has a rich history in that region. There is no Trump without the South. I hate to generalize so broadly, but I am tired of a living in a nation where a senator from Kentucky rules the country. I am tired of being unable to implement sensible policy of the kind found everywhere else in the world because Wyoming has as many senators as New York. I am tired of pandering to uneducated rural voters because the electoral college disenfranchises millions of voters in blue states. I am tired subsidizing red states while they moan about the evils of a government that redistributes resources to them. But mostly, especially on July 4, I am tired of being told that I am the one who is “un-American.” I just want the Confederacy to go away, once and for all.

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