Opinion | Can Any of the Democratic Candidates Save the Party From Itself? – The New York Times

By Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every other week.

Credit…Getty Images

Gail Collins: Bret, how do you feel about billionaires? Not personally — I’m sure some of your best friends are billionaires — but as presidential candidates. Ever since Michael Bloomberg started running, there’s been a lot of complaining about rich guys trying to buy the race. Does that worry you, or do you find people like Bloomberg and Tom Steyer to be, um, valuable additions?

Bret Stephens: I guess it depends on who the billionaires are, how they made their money, and what they’ve done with it. There’s a world of difference between someone like Mike Bloomberg — who came from relatively humble beginnings, made his fortune honestly, ran his businesses capably, devoted a significant amount of his life to public service and then gave billions away to great causes — and someone like Donald Trump, who did none of those things.

What about you?

Gail: Thank you for throwing in an attack on President Trump. Really, is there any topic that doesn’t offer some opportunity to snipe at our commander in chief? I notice he’s blaming energy-efficient light bulbs for his orange skin tone.

Bret: They use energy-efficient light bulbs on tanning beds now?

Gail: I’ll bet we could talk about the presidential complexion all day and the readers would be extremely happy to chime in and keep it going for another week. But of course we’re above that.

Bret: We are?

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Draft 2
Fellow commentators! You don’t have to agree with Bret Stevens, but you do have to listen to his advice. His conservative views are closer to the views of the majority in the crucial swing states than the views of us progressives on either coast. We don’t need more votes in New York or California, we need the six crucial swing states that gave Trump the electoral college. Wake up. Look at the polls. Every conservative in Connecticut I have interviewed, has said that they will not support or vote for Sanders or Warren. Either one of these fine progressives will crush Trump in the popular vote, but deliver to him the presidency, that is what people like Bret Stevens are trying to warn you to be aware of. We have to take the White House, to put the war on climate change on hyper drive and rebuild the middle class. The sure way for Pete Buttigieg to win the support of the black community, is to support the candicacy of their favorite candidate, Joe Biden, and try to become his vice president. (David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.)

Supreme Court Ruling Favors Sports Betting – By Adam Liptak and Kevin Draper – NYT

“May 14, 2018WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law on Monday that effectively banned commercial sports betting in most states, opening the door to legalizing the estimated $150 billion in illegal wagers on professional and amateur sports that Americans make every year.

The decision seems certain to result in profound changes to the nation’s relationship with sports wagering. Bettors will no longer be forced into the black market to use offshore wagering operations or illicit bookies. Placing bets will be done on mobile devices, fueled and endorsed by the lawmakers and sports officials who opposed it for so long. A trip to Las Vegas to wager on March Madness or the Super Bowl could soon seem quaint.The law the decision overturned — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling. Among its sponsors was Senator Bill Bradley, Democrat of New Jersey and a former college and professional basketball star. He said the law was needed to safeguard the integrity of sports.

But the court said the law was unconstitutional. “It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said, writing for the majority. “A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.” ”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
This is a challenge. In general, I like to legalize illegal activities when they are going to occur anyway. But the two top comments sound an alarm that the poor and middle class will suffer, because they will not be able to resist gambling addiction.  I wonder if the addiction can be monitored, and to some extent be softened, by such things as betting limits, per bet, per month, per year. I control my own betting tendency, by making all bets for a penny or nickel. With these self-imposed limits, I can’t really hurt myself, or even care the next day if I win the bet or not.
   What concerns me is the effect on game throwing by athletes. If this opening, or legalizing of betting on sports causes more game throwing, then the benefits will not be worth the costs.

Here is the top comment that contradict my tentative position.

Charles L.
New York

The drive by states to legalize betting on sports is an unintended consequence of the success of the conservative movement’s decades-long project of demonizing taxation. Politicians have learned that voters will forgive their sexual misconduct, financial corruption, and even crimes. The one unforgivable sin, however, is voting for a tax increase. That is seen as a career ender. At the same time, however, they also know those same voters continue to expect a full range of government services. Faced with these irreconcilable demands, state officials have sought new sources of government income. These have included lotteries, casino gambling, civil forfeiture of property, the legalization of marijuana, and now wagering on sporting events. Anyone who finds these activities objectionable should consider his or her own voting record regarding taxation. In a democracy we get the government we deserve.

 

The G.O.P. Rejects Conservatism – by David Brooks – NYT

“. . . First, conservative policy intellectuals tend to have accepted the fact that American society is coming apart and that measures need to be taken to assist the working class. Republican politicians show no awareness of this fact. Second, conservative writers and intellectuals have a vision for how they want American society to be in the 21st century. Republican politicians have a vision of how they want American government to be in the 21st century.

Republican politicians believe that government should tax people less. The Senate bill would eliminate the 3.8 percent tax on investment income for those making over $250,000. Republican politicians believe that open-ended entitlements should be cut. The Senate health care plan would throw 15 million people off Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (This is the program that covers nearly 40 percent of America’s children.)”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT comments:

Great piece David Brooks. Thank you. Regarding a good comment by Uncle Jetski, I found The parable of the blind men and the elephant in Wikipedia :
“The earliest versions of the parable of blind men and elephant is found in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts, as they discuss the limits of perception and the importance of complete context. The parable has several Indian variations, but broadly goes as follows:

A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This being is like a thick snake”. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, “elephant is a wall”. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.

(In one of many versions) a sighted man enters the parable and describes the entire elephant from various perspectives, the blind men then learn that they were all partially correct and partially wrong. While one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth.

This Age of Wonkery – by David Brooks – NYT

“If you were a certain sort of ideas-oriented young person coming of age in the 20th century, it was very likely you would give yourself a label and join some movement. You’d call yourself a Marxist, a neoconservative, a Freudian, an existentialist or a New Deal liberal.

There would be certain sacred writers who would explain the world to you — from Jung to Camus, Dewey or Chesterton. There’d probably be a small magazine where the doctrines of your sect would be hammered out.People today seem less likely to give themselves intellectual labels or join self-conscious philosophical movements. Young people today seem more likely to have their worldviews shaped by trips they have taken, or causes they have been involved in, or the racial or ethnic or gender identity group they identify with.”

As Georgia Vote Nears G.O.P. Asks if Ideological Purity Matters Anymore – The New York Times

“Nowhere has the newly muddled nature of the party been more evident than in the fallout from the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Activists are angry over the display of dysfunction, but they are uncertain whom to turn their guns on. They will not blame Mr. Trump, because to fault him is to link arms with the left and an adversarial news media, a nonstarter in an era of tribal politics.”

The paragraph above suggests that the left should stop hammering Trump all day, everyday. It makes him invulnerable. If the passage above is correct, we should play nice. Let the right feel that is has to do its own critique, rather than just circle the wagons defense.

The End of Identity Liberalism – bt Mark Lilla – The New York Times

“It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.”

This is the article referenced by David Brooks in my last post by him. It contains a profound analysis of the weakness of Hilary Clinton’s campaign.

The Contest Over Israel Aid – The New York Times

 

“For many years, substantial assistance was warranted in recognition of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt and its need to defend against hostile Arab states. There is a compelling need for the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s security, which includes the sharing of advanced technologies. But it is worth asking whether the ever-increasing aid levels make sense, especially in the face of America’s other pressing domestic and overseas obligations.”

Source: The Contest Over Israel Aid – The New York Times

$38 Billion over 10 years in military aid to Israel is over the top. I’ve lost track, what is in it for us? Since our governments disagree about their policy of building illegal settlements in Palestinian lands, we should stop all aid to Israel, until they actually give peace a chance.