Archive for the ‘Collins’ Category

Cohen and Collins

June 25, 2016

In “Britain’s Brexit Leap in the Dark” Mr. Cohen says a decisive vote to leave the E.U. reveals rage against the elites. An era of extreme volatility has dawned.  (For various values of “decisive” I guess.)  Ms. Collins, in “Tax Dodging on the High Seas,” says while  many of the biggest cruise lines appear to be headquartered in Florida, they are, for tax purposes, actually proud residents of … elsewhere.  Here’s Mr. Cohen:

The British have given the world’s political, financial and business establishment a massive kick in the teeth by voting to leave the European Union, a historic decision that will plunge Britain into uncertainty for years to come and reverses the integration on which the Continent’s stability has been based.

Warnings about the dire consequences of a British exit from President Barack Obama, Britain’s political leaders, major corporations based in Britain and the International Monetary Fund proved useless. If anything, they goaded a mood of defiant anger against those very elites.

This resentment has its roots in many things but may be summed up as a revolt against global capitalism. To heck with the experts and political correctness was the predominant mood in the end. A majority of Britons had no time for the politicians that brought the world a disastrous war in Iraq, the 2008 financial meltdown, European austerity, stagnant working-class wages, high immigration and tax havens for the super-rich.

That some of these issues have no direct link to the European Union or its much-maligned Brussels bureaucrats did not matter. It was a convenient target in this restive moment that has also made Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee — and may now take him further still on a similar wave of nativism and anti-establishment rage.

David Cameron, the British prime minister prodded into holding the referendum by the right of his Conservative Party, said he would resign, staying on in a caretaker capacity for a few months. This was the right call, and an inevitable one. He has led the country into a debacle.

The pound duly plunged some 10 percent to its lowest level since 1985. Global markets were rattled. Mainstream European politicians lamented a sad day for Europe and Britain; rightists like Marine Le Pen in France exulted. The world has entered a period of grave volatility.

Ever-greater unity was a foundation stone since the 1950s not only of peace in Europe, putting an end to the repetitive wars that had ravaged generations of Europeans, but also of the global political order. Now all bets are off. A process of European unraveling may have begun. A core assumption of American foreign policy — that a united Europe had overcomes its divisions — has been undermined.

Geert Wilders, the right-wing anti-immigrant Dutch politician, promptly tweeted: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!” The European Union is more vulnerable than at any point since its inception. The sacred images of old — like French President François Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl hand-in-hand at Verdun — have lost their resonance. The travails of the euro, the tide of immigration (both within the European Union from poorer to richer members and from outside), and high unemployment have led to an eerie collective loss of patience, prudence and memory. Anything but this has become a widespread sentiment; irrationality is in the air.

The colossal leap in the dark that a traditionally cautious people — the British — were prepared to take has to be taken seriously. It suggests that other such leaps could occur elsewhere, perhaps in Trump’s America. A Trump victory in November is more plausible now because it has an immediate precedent in a developed democracy ready to trash the status quo for the high-risk unknown.

Fifty-two percent of the British population was ready to face higher unemployment, a weaker currency, possible recession, political turbulence, the loss of access to a market of a half-billion people, a messy divorce that may take as long as two years to complete, a very long subsequent negotiation of Britain’s relationship with Europe, and the tortuous redrafting of laws and trade treaties and environmental regulations — all for what the right-wing leader Nigel Farage daftly called “Independence Day.” Britain was a sovereign nation before this vote in every significant sense. It remains so. Estrangement Day would be more apt.

The English were also prepared to risk something else: the break-up of the United Kingdom. Scotland voted to remain in the European Union by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent. Northern Ireland voted to remain by 56 percent to 44 percent. The Scots will now likely seek a second referendum on independence.

Divisions were not only national. London voted overwhelmingly to remain. But the countryside, small towns and hard-hit industrial provincial industrial centers voted overwhelmingly to leave and carried the day. A Britain fissured between a liberal, metropolitan class centered in London and the rest was revealed.

Europe’s failings — and they have been conspicuous over the past decade — are simply not sufficient to explain what Britain has done to itself. This was a vote against the global economic and social order that the first 16 years of the 21st century have produced. Where it leads is unclear. The worst is not inevitable but it is plausible. Britain will remain an important power. But it will punch beneath its weight. It faces serious, long-term political and economic risk.

Anger was most focused on the hundreds of thousands of immigrants coming into Britain each year, most from other European Union nations like Poland. Farage’s U.K. Independence Party, abetted by much of the press, was able to whip up a storm that conflated E.U. immigration with the trickle from the Middle East. Wild myths, like imminent Turkish membership of the European Union, were cultivated. Violence entered the campaign on a wave of xenophobia and take-our-country back rhetoric.

In this light, it is not surprising that Trump supporters were delighted. Sarah Palin welcomed the “good news.” One tweet from a supporter read: “I’m thrilled with U.K. 1st step — time 4 all the dominoes 2 fall, every country to leave & end the E.U.”

Trump arrived in Britain on Friday, a timely visit. He said the vote to quit the E.U. was “a great thing” and the British “took back their country.” He did not say from whom, but the specter of our times is a dark, controlling global force stealing national identity.

It is quite likely that Cameron’s successor will be Boris Johnson, the bombastic, mercurial and sometimes fact-lite former London mayor with his trademark mop of blond hair. Johnson was a leader of the campaign for “Brexit”; he may now reap his political reward. The Era of the Hair looms.

Timothy Garton Ash, the historian, paraphrasing Churchill on democracy, wrote before the referendum that: “The Europe we have today is the worst possible Europe, apart from all the other Europes that have been tried from time to time.”

It was a wise call to prudence in the imperfect real world. Now, driven by myths about sovereignty and invading hordes, Britain has ushered in another time of treacherous trial for the European Continent and for itself.

My nephew wrote on Facebook that he had never been less proud of his country. I feel the same way about the country I grew up in and left.

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

Let’s criticize cruise ships.

I know, I know. Things are bad enough without going negative about your summer vacation. But we’ve got some problems here. Plus, I promise there will be a penguin.

The cruise industry seems to be exploding — the newest generation of ships can carry more than 5,000 passengers. They make a great deal of profit from the sale of alcohol, so imagine the equivalent of a small city whose inhabitants are perpetually drunk.

Really, these things are so huge, it’s amazing they can stay afloat without toppling over. And when one is parked outside, say, Venice, the effect is like one of those alien-invasion movies, when people wake up and find that a spaceship the size of Toledo has landed downtown. (Venetians also claim the ships are causing waves in their canals.) Environmentalists wring their hands over the air pollution and sewage a 3,000-passenger ship, which today would rank as medium-size, produces 21,000 gallons of sewage a day, sometimes treated and sometimes not so much. But always pumped into the sea.

And, as long as we’re complaining, let’s point out that noise from the ships is messing with the whales. Michael Jasny of the Natural Resources Defense Council says cruises en route to Alaska “routinely drown out the calls of the endangered orcas” trying to communicate. The NRDC has a new film, “Sonic Sea,” that features audio of a whale conversation being obliterated by an approaching cruise ship. The effect is sort of like what you’d experience if you were having a meaningful chat with friends on the patio and a trailer-tractor full of disco dancers suddenly drove into the back yard.

Thanks to global warming, cruise lines will soon be able to sail the Northwest Passage, so the Arctic will have both more melting ice and more 13-deck ships. Antarctica hosted 30,000 visitors last year. Doesn’t that seem like a lot for such a fragile place? Also, an opera singer who was entertaining passengers on one cruise went ashore to sing “O Sole Mio” and caused a penguin stampede. This is not really a problem you need to worry about, but it was a pretty interesting moment.

While many of the biggest cruise lines appear to be headquartered in Florida, they are, for tax purposes, actually proud residents of … elsewhere. “Carnival is a Panamanian corporation; Royal Caribbean is Liberian,” said Ross Klein, who tracks the industry through his Cruise Junkie website.

Although, of course, if one of the ships needs help, it will often be the American taxpayer-funded Coast Guard that comes to the rescue. The Coast Guard doesn’t charge for its services, a spokesman said, because “we don’t want people to hesitate” to summon help when passengers are in danger. This attitude is commendable. But the no-taxes part is not.

“Cruise lines do pay taxes,” protested a spokesman for the industry, counting off a number of levies for things like customs, and examination of animals and plants being brought into the country. Not the same thing.

We’re constantly hearing complaints in Congress about American companies that relocate their headquarters overseas for tax avoidance. But when do you hear anybody mentioning the cruise industry’s Panamanian connection? The cruise companies may not really live here, but they certainly can lobby here.

“Powerful is an understatement,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He’s the sponsor of a bill that would increase consumer protection for cruise passengers. The bill, which can’t even get a committee hearing, would also require the ships to have up-to-date technology that detects when passengers fall overboard. Now this would seem like something you’d expect them to have around.

An average of about 20 people fall off cruise ships every year, which the industry points out is only about one in a million travelers. But still, I suspect that passengers work under the assumption that if they do somehow wind up in the water, someone will notice. This spring, a 33-year-old American woman disappeared during a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. No one realized she was gone for 10 hours, and by the time searchers could start looking for her, the area they needed to cover was more than 4,000 square miles. While it’s the least thing anyone worries about when a person is missing at sea, let us point out once again that it was the taxpayer-funded Coast Guard doing the searching.

The cruise industry says the overboard technology hasn’t been perfected. Blumenthal says it’s been well tested. Seems like the sort of disagreement that would be easy to resolve with … a committee hearing.

Most cruise vacationers seem to enjoy their experience — the industry says nearly 90 percent declare themselves satisfied. It’s not our business to get in between anybody and an ocean breeze. Our requests are modest, really: Make the cruise ship companies that are, for all practical purposes, American pay American taxes. Leave the whales alone. Give that bill a committee hearing. And stop scaring the penguins.

A hearing?  Surely you jest…

Blow and Collins

June 23, 2016

In “Trump, Champion of the Downtrodden? Ha!” Mr. Blow says his speech was garbage, pure and simple — false and flimsy, an effort to paint himself as an advocate for the people who loathe him most.  Ms. Collins, in “Hillary Gossip Redux,” says a book with little credibility is digging up the shards of the 1990s.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

On Wednesday, Donald Trump gave a meandering, fact-challenged speech — read from a teleprompter, no less — that framed him and the Republican Party as champions of America’s women and racial, ethnic and L.G.B.T. minorities. I laughed out loud, repeatedly.

Trump continues to make the incredible claim that his religion-based anti-Muslim policies on immigration and refugees would be good for members of the L.G.B.T. communities because many of those people come from countries with brutally anti-gay records.

As Trump put it: “I only want to admit people who share our values and love our people. Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death.”

What? Not only has Trump never specified a values-based exemption to his Muslim ban, but also how on earth would a values test be administered? And where is the specific proof that Clinton explicitly “wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death”?

Who is buying that nonsense? I know, I know, a disturbingly large percentage of the electorate, but still: This is just a string of lies stitched together with a silver thread.

At another point, Trump said that Clinton “took millions” from countries that “pushed oppressive Shariah law” or otherwise “horribly abuse women and the L.G.B.T. citizens” while not disclosing that, as CNN reported last week:

“[Trump], too, has financial ties to some of the same companies. From licensing his name to a golf club in Dubai to leasing his suburban New York estate to former Libyan strongman Muammar el-Gaddafi, Trump has launched several new business ventures connected to Middle Eastern countries since 2000.”

This man gives new meaning to the word hypocrisy.

But he didn’t stop there. He also framed himself as the best candidate for African-Americans (a group he once said he hated counting his money) and Hispanics (even though he has labeled many Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals).

Trump said of Clinton:

“She has pledged to grant mass amnesty and in her first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement, and thus create totally open borders for the United States. The first victims of her radical policies will be poor African-American and Hispanic workers who need jobs. They’re also the ones she will hurt the most, by far.”

He continued:

“She can’t claim to care about African-American and Hispanic workers when she wants to bring in millions of new low-wage earners to compete against them.”

This is the epitome of the politics of public division that seeks to pit one part of the electorate against the other, a way of making starving dogs fight for scraps. It’s revolting and un-American — not only the liberal vision of America, but also the conservative vision of America as articulated by Paul Ryan in 2011 when he was hammering President Obama for engaging in what he thought was class warfare.

At the time, Ryan told The Heritage Foundation:

“The perfection of our Union, especially our commitment to equality of opportunity, has been a story of constant striving to live up to our Founding principles. This is what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, ‘In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve.’ ”

Ryan continued:

“The American Idea is not tried in times of prosperity. Instead, it is tested when times are tough: when the pie is shrinking, when businesses are closing, and when workers are losing their jobs. Those are the times when America’s commitment to equality of opportunity is called into question. That’s when the temptation to exploit fear and envy returns — when many in Washington use the politics of division to evade responsibility for their failures and to advance their own narrow political interests.”

Who is now exploiting fear and envy, Speaker Ryan? Oh yeah, the man you’ve endorsed.

The question that ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Ryan earlier this month still lingers in search of a sufficient answer:

“You’ve said, in explaining why you’re standing by your endorsement of Mr. Trump, what matters more to you than anything are our core principles. But what core principle is more important to the party of Lincoln than stepping up against racism?”

Trump ended his specious speech with a string of baseless boasts about all the fairy-tale, utopian improvements that a Trump presidency would somehow magically induce. One of those boasts was that “inner cities” — invariably a term of art in American politics for poor minority neighborhoods — “which have been horribly abused by Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party, will finally, finally, finally be rebuilt.”

Again, what on earth does “rebuilt” mean? Never mind. It wasn’t supposed to mean anything specific, or have any policy substance, but rather simply to sound positive and impressive.

Trump’s speech was garbage, pure and simple. Not only was it too often false, it was also flimsy, an effort to paint himself as a champion of the people who loathe him most.

Maybe the people who support him despise Clinton more than they cherish the truth, but for those who can see this man’s naked bigotry for what it is, this speech fell like seeds on a stony place. Nothing will come of it.

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

I am so excited to tell you that we’re returning to the question of whether or not Hillary Clinton threw a vase at her husband in the White House.

Really, this one hasn’t come up for about 20 years. But Gary Byrne says he saw the pieces! In a box! Byrne is a former Secret Service officer who has written a tell-all book, “Crisis of Character,” about the (horrible/embarrassing/appalling) things he purportedly witnessed during the Bill Clinton presidency.

It’s coming out next week to what’s supposed to be a big rollout in the conservative media. Donald Trump has been twittering about it, and he quoted from it in his speech on Wednesday. (That was the speech in which the new, measured Trump said Clinton “may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency,” whose “decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.”)

Byrne was a low-ranking officer who could never have gotten near enough to the Clintons to see all the things he says he knew firsthand. His juiciest anecdotes are just a rehash of old rumors. “One must question the veracity and content of any book which implies that its author played such an integral part of so many (claimed) incidents,” said the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service, which issued a denunciation.

This is typical of what concerned citizens are going through this year. We ought to be diligently examining the downside of Hillary’s history as part of our civic duties. But having Trump on the other side of the ledger makes Travelgate and the Goldman Sachs speeches seem sort of irrelevant. “Crisis of Character” is supposed to give us an insight into the old White House messes, but it’s written by a guy who has doubts about whether Vince Foster really killed himself.

One of the legends Byrne rakes up is that Hillary mistreated her security detail. (He claims the first lady’s bullying drove some of his comrades to alcohol, drugs, prostitutes or — this is a little unusual — performance enhancers.) This is old gossip, but not everyone agrees.

“Those stories have always kind of been out there. I don’t know why; she’s more than pleasant,” said a higher-ranking agent who had been on the Clinton security detail. “I spent close to two years with her — most days, to be honest. I never found Mrs. Clinton to be anything but professional.”

Speaking in a phone interview, on the condition of anonymity, the agent said Hillary tended to get irritable mainly when the agents pushed people out of the way when she was walking, or stopped traffic for her when she was driving: “She’s just kind of someone who wants to swim with the fish. She didn’t like royal treatment.”

Although the book is being promoted as a cautionary tale about Hillary’s character, beyond the rudeness stories there’s actually only one juicy anecdote about her. That’s the vase-throwing story. It’s been around almost since the Clintons arrived in Washington, although the object being hurled has traditionally been described as a lamp.

I remember going home to Ohio a few weeks after the inauguration and telling it to my mother, who had already heard it on Rush Limbaugh. Several months later, Katie Couric went on a tour of the White House with the first lady and asked her to “point out just where you were when you threw the lamp at your husband.”

“Well, you know … I’m looking for that spot, too,” Hillary replied.

Gossip is, in part, an expression of public anxiety — people speculated, endlessly, about which politicians might be secretly gay back when there was an overriding fear of homosexuality, and before that, we had periodic rumors about presidential candidates with “Negro blood.” It’s possible the Hillary-lamp stories stemmed from nervousness about a first lady who intended to wield actual political power in the job.

As time went on, a Bible and “punches” were added to the things that Hillary was rumored to have thrown at her husband. Then 23 years later a former Secret Service officer, writing a tell-all book about people he barely glimpsed in the course of duty, breathlessly announced he had once spotted a telltale box full of vase shards. (“The rumors were true.”)

Most of the Byrne book is actually devoted to the sex escapades of Bill Clinton. There’s one bit about an alleged affair with a woman who’s not alive to defend herself. Beyond that, it’s likely that those of us who were around for the Monica Lewinsky era know as much as Byrne does about the subject. We’ve already been there. The country has already demonstrated that it is prepared to accept leaders with stupendously imperfect personal lives if they get us where we want to go in public.

But I vote that if Hillary threw a vase, more power to her.

Collins, solo

June 18, 2016

In “The Trump Disaster Chronicle” Ms. Collins tells us that nobody knows empathy like The Donald.  Here she is:

It’s natural to wonder how our next president would respond, on a human level, to a disaster like Orlando. The candidates have been pretty clear on policy, but how would he/she relate to a community, and country, in pain?

We ought to have some clues, since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were New Yorkers when the World Trade Center towers came down on Sept. 11.

Clinton was a U.S. senator at the time, so her script was pretty clear. She comforted the afflicted, joined hands with political adversaries for a show of unity, fought to get aid for the city and the survivors.

We obviously wouldn’t have expected all that from Trump, who was a private citizen. But a very rich, important one — he must have done a lot for the city and survivors, right? He once boasted to The Times’s Mark Leibovich that as president, he’d be great at reaching out in a crisis. Empathy, he said, “will be one of the strongest things about Trump.”

Trump apparently was at his apartment in Midtown Manhattan during the attacks and their aftermath. However, he has occasionally relocated himself to ground zero. He told people at a rally in Buffalo this spring that “I was down there and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7/11.”

It was probably the only time in history that a presidential candidate confused an epic disaster with a convenience store.

People, do you think it’s unfair to make fun of Trump’s verbal pratfalls? This week he told the crowd at another rally that “Belgium is a beautiful city.” Could be an endearing foible. Could be a symptom of a supreme indifference to reality in all its forms.

Trump also claimed that on 9/11 he saw “thousands and thousands of people” in a New Jersey area with a heavy Arab population “cheering as that building was coming down.” When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pointed out that nothing like that happened, Trump said: “It was on television. I saw it.” Nobody else did. But we can be confident that if a disaster fell upon us during a Trump presidency, he would somehow blame it on American Muslims. If there was a hurricane, it’d be their fault for not issuing advance warning.

I asked the Trump campaign what the candidate had done to be helpful in the wake of 9/11, and this is the list:

■ “Allowed people to use 40 Wall Street to store equipment, stay in the building, etc.” This is a 72-story skyscraper that Trump owns. When the government began a program to encourage businesses to stay in Lower Manhattan after the attack, he managed to milk $150,000 for 40 Wall Street, which was not going anywhere.

■ “… donated massive amounts of Trump water to those working at ground zero.” This would presumably be Trump Ice, the bottled water he plugged during a campaign news conference.

■ “Mr. Trump visited immediately after the attacks with a group of construction workers.” This seems a more likely description than the one he gave at that Buffalo rally, when he seemed to suggest he had actually been laboring at ground zero himself. (“… and I was there, and I watched, and I helped a little bit. …”) Two days after the attack, Trump was interviewed near the site by a reporter for German TV. He was wearing a distinctly nonworkmanlike suit and volunteered, “I have a lot of men down here.”

So Trump helped by sending helpers? We would have no reason to question that story, except that he does have a way of claiming his “people” are doing things that aren’t actually happening. In 2011, when he was claiming that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya, he told NBC’s Meredith Vieira: “I have people that actually have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they’re finding,”

We never did learn what those people found. Perhaps they’re still out there somewhere, sifting through evidence. Sending bills that history suggests Trump might never bother to pay.

Back to the list. Trump’s campaign says he:

■ “… made many significant contributions to organizations like the American Red Cross to be put towards the relief efforts.” The details are unclear. We’ll just have to wait until those darned tax returns become available, something I predict we can expect the very second hell freezes over.

■ “… made a $100,000 [contribution] to the 9/11 Memorial Fund after touring the museum.”

In the days right before the New York primary, he did visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. He would have walked past a wall celebrating benefactors who donated money to help build it. Donald Trump’s name is conspicuously not there. Finally, when he was running for president in 2016, he forked over a check.

By the way, if Trump had ever been to the museum before, or visited the two reflecting pools that now sit on the site of the destroyed towers, it was never publicized. Perhaps he did it very quietly, the better to allow for contemplation.

And perhaps I’m the Tsarina of All The Russias.

Blow and Collins

June 16, 2016

In “Omar Mateen, American Monster” Mr. Blow says this was both an act of domestic terror and a hate crime, and that this norm of ours simply isn’t normal.  Ms. Collins, in “A Pistol for Every Bar Stool,” says Trump is ready to lock and load.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

The massacre in Orlando, where 49 people were gunned down at an L.G.B.T. nightclub and dozens of others were wounded, came at the hands of a coward and a monster, but make no mistake: This was our monster.

The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was born and raised in America. He killed other Americans using at least one American-made gun — including an assault rifle — that he purchased legally from an American gun store, even after having been investigated twice by America’s top law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for terror-related concerns.

As much as it seems moral and right to deprive this shooter of the attention he surely craved for his act of morbid depravity, and to focus the lens solely on the victims of this tragedy and their families and friends, it is important to understand how this thing, this uniquely American thing — an epidemic of mass shooting — made them victims. It’s important to understand, as best as can be discerned, the influences and apparatuses that allowed this to happen on American soil … again.

It seems almost callous and calculating to divert attention to the political dimension of this, but this tragedy was — by dint of timing and magnitude — politicized even before the blood dried and the dead were named. It was one of the deadliest mass killings in United States history and comes during one of the most bizarre — and consequential — elections in United States history. It is, regrettably, political.

The task now is to make sure that the debate is honest and true and bends toward the better, instead of settling into our status quo standoff — or worse, distorting facts in a way that is detrimental.

This was both an act of domestic terror and a hate crime, but it is ours and it demands that we consider our policies — foreign and war policy, antiterror policy, gun policy — and our cultural toxicities, including our toxic political culture, toxic male culture and toxic anti-L.G.B.T. culture.

It has been reported that Mateen visited the bar that became the scene of his carnage many times over many years, even taking his wife along on at least one visit. Was he casing the place, or was he there for other, more intimate reasons? It’s not clear at this point. He is also reported to have been on mobile apps that men use to meet other men. Was he looking for information or for a match? Not clear.

Was he a self-loathing closeted man somewhere on the queer spectrum who targeted people who personified his conflict? Not clear. In a series of tweets Sunday, the Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle revealed that according to “one of Mateen’s ex-coworkers” Mateen had made homophobic and racist comments. His ex-wife has said that during their brief marriage, which she describes as abusive, she questioned whether he was “totally straight,” although even her suspicions relied on homophobic stereotypes. None of this is conclusive, of course, but it raises questions whose answers would have a direct impact on motive.

Studies have shown that homophobia can sometimes be an acting out of an intent to control the homophobe’s own same-sex desires, that to oppress or silence queerness in others is a perverted attempt to silence it in oneself. I’m not saying that was Mateen’s motivation, simply that this phenomenon is a very real one.

What is indisputable is that Mateen specifically targeted the L.G.B.T. community in one of its safest spaces, and did so on a specific night — “Latin night” — and that must remain at the forefront of our inquiry as details emerge and motives are assigned.

While our society surely does not treat L.G.B.T. people as barbarically as some others, disdain is still present in the belief that identities that are not strictly hetero-normative are immoral, corrosive and corruptive, and violate the laws of nature and the commands of God. Until we rid our society of this rigid and wrongheaded thinking, we apply pressure on citizens not to walk openly and lovingly in their own truths, and we give cover to the darkest possible objections from people like Mateen.

In addition, we must carefully consider, once again, how easy it is for people of ill intent to obtain deadly weapons. Even if you believe strongly in the Second Amendment, and are intimate with gun culture (as I am), there is still no reason for a citizen to own an assault rifle unless he is planning an assault. None! You don’t hunt deer with assault rifles. You don’t keep the vermin out of the garden with assault rifles. These military-style guns are specifically designed for the rapid killing of human beings. Let’s assign the weapons of war to the battlefield.

Furthermore, we must re-examine how we can restrict suspected terrorists’ access to guns, at least the deadliest ones. As CNN reported this week: “People on the United States’ terrorist watch list passed background checks and have been allowed to purchase firearms 91 percent of the time in 2015, updated federal data shows.” Mateen wasn’t on this list, so his purchases wouldn’t have been restricted anyway, but still this number should scare us profoundly.

Mass shootings are only a fraction of our gun violence epidemic. Around 33,000 people die each year in gun-related deaths in this country, many in small-number homicides that have becomes a sort of ambient horror to which we are growing worrisomely numb, and many others are suicides or unintentional deaths, which include a disturbing number of children.

This norm of ours simply isn’t normal. Too many of us are making a conscious — and unconscionable! — decision to do nothing or to not do more. There is so much blood on our hands that no amount of Second Amendment rationalizing can wash them clean. To paraphrase Macbeth, our hands would stain the sea scarlet and turn the green one red.

Lastly, we must remember that our foreign policy — whether bombing Muslims or banning them — has consequences. Seeking to diminish one threat can inflame another. Wars and reckless rhetoric are governed by the laws of unintended consequences, so we must tread carefully.

The Muslim community, like any other, is composed primarily of peace-loving people who despise violence. But that community, like any other, also has a small population of weak-minded people prone to violence. The difference in this moment is that unlike other populations, foreign terrorists are specifically targeting the vulnerable among the Muslim population for indoctrination and radicalization. What we must do as a society is thwart these efforts, not enable them.

Omar Mateen was an American-made monster, and America must decide how best to make fewer in his likeness.

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

The nation hasn’t exactly joined hands in a united response to the Orlando massacre. But since this terrible mass shooting happened in one of the most weapons-friendly places in the country, maybe we can at least all agree that having wildly permissive gun laws does not make a city safer.

O.K., probably not.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump took time out from vilifying Muslims and put some of the blame on gun control. If the patrons of Pulse, the gay bar in Orlando, had been carrying concealed weapons, he said, they could have taken control of the situation. The gunman would have been “just open target practice.”

(This was at the same speech where he congratulated himself for his stupendous relationship with the gay community, suggesting he didn’t “get enough credit” for having a club in Palm Beach that was “open to everybody.” This is a little off our topic today, but I have to once again point out that Trump’s club is open to everybody with $100,000 to cover the membership fee.)

But about guns. Let’s follow Trump’s thought. It’s easy to buy a gun in Florida and supereasy to get a permit to carry around a concealed weapon. Even the Florida Legislature, however, doesn’t allow people to carry guns into bars. Trump did not specifically say that we need to uphold Americans’ freedom to drink while armed. But there doesn’t seem to be any other way to interpret his argument.

Also, there actually was an off-duty police officer working in the club who tried to shoot the gunman but failed. This is important, because the myth of the cool and steady shooter is one of the most cherished beliefs of the National Rifle Association and its supporters. Trump himself has bragged that if he’d been in Paris on the night of the attacks there, he would have shot the terrorists. (“I may have been killed, but I would have drawn.”)

This is an excellent example of delusional gun thinking. Although Trump frequently reminds us he has a permit to carry a gun, there’s no indication he’s ever done so. And there’s certainly no evidence whatsoever that he has any skill in hitting things.

It’s very, very difficult to draw, aim and shoot accurately when you’re under severe stress. It’s one of the reasons that police officers so often spray fleeing suspects with bullets. They can’t hit a moving target, even though they get far more weapons training than your normal armed civilian.

In Florida, people who want to carry a gun merely have to be able to demonstrate they can “safely handle and discharge the firearm.” Nowhere does it say anything about accuracy.

A few weeks ago in Houston, a 25-year-old Afghan war veteran named Dionisio Garza walked up to a stranger sitting in a car at a carwash and shot him in the neck while railing about “homosexuals, Jews and Walmart,” according to local reports. He fired off 212 rounds, mostly from an assault rifle, hitting a police helicopter and a nearby gas station, which burst into flames. The police said a neighbor who heard the shooting came running with a gun, but was shot himself.

People who hear this story may draw different morals. The way we’ve been going, it’ll be a miracle if some member of the Texas Legislature doesn’t submit a bill requiring employees of carwashes to be armed at all times. However, others might note that the weapon in this case was an AR-15, the same type of military-style rifle that was used in the Orlando shooting, the Newtown school shooting and the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. It would seem as if the best way to cut down on mass shootings would be by eliminating weapons that allow crazy people to rapidly fire off endless rounds of bullets.

The possibility of banning assault weapons like the AR-15 is most definitely not on the table in Congress, although Hillary Clinton supports it, and has brought it up a lot since Orlando. No, the current debate in Washington is over whether people on the government’s terror watch list should be kept from purchasing arms.

The fact that even people who aren’t allowed to get on a plane can buy a gun in this country is obviously insane. Yet most of the Republicans in the House and the Senate regard changing the status quo as an enormous lift. “I think you’re going too far here,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the backers during one of the bill’s pathetic trips to nowhere.

Since the Orlando shooter had actually spent some time on the terror watch list, the pressure seems to be growing. Trump says he’ll meet with the N.R.A. to talk over the matter. Perhaps, after all this time, we’ll get some pathetically minor action. Then only apolitical maniacs would have the opportunity to buy guns that can take out a roomful of people in no time flat.

Kristof and Collins

June 9, 2016

In “Bernie, Hillary and, er, President Trump?” Mr. Kristof says Bernie Sanders and his followers need to consider the candidate who really benefits if they don’t stop sniping and start uniting.  Ms. Collins, in “The Hillary and Bernie Road Trip,” says in 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton found a symbolically named town for post-primary bonding. Clinton and Sanders could go to Uncertain, Tex.  Here’s Mr. Kristof:

Bernie Sanders has had a stunning impact this year, helping set the political agenda and winning the passionate embrace of a demographic a quarter his age. A socialist, Jewish, non-pandering candidate who didn’t kiss babies but lectured their parents on social justice won 22 states. But now he has lost. It’s time for him and his followers to stop sniping and start uniting.

Sanders has said he will ultimately support the Democratic ticket, and I’m sure he intends to. But for now he’s still dividing more than coalescing.

In a New York Times/CBS News poll last month, nearly one-fourth of Sanders supporters said that in a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup, they would either vote for Trump (which suggests bipolar disorder!) or stay home. That figure is inflated by bitterness and resentment, but if some Sandernistas sit on their hands this fall they could help elect a man antithetical to everything they stand for.

At this point, Sanders has essentially zero chance of becoming our next president. Meanwhile, there is a modest risk that continued Democratic warfare will cost Clinton the election. The upshot is that continuing to tilt at windmills is many, many times more likely to elect Trump than Sanders.

We’ve seen this before. In 1968, liberal disenchantment with the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, assisted in the election of Richard Nixon. In 1980, Edward Kennedy’s endless challenge to Jimmy Carter undermined Carter and probably gave Ronald Reagan a lift.

And in 2000, many liberals regarded Al Gore the way some see Clinton today, as a flip-flopper short on inspiration and convictions. So a small number voted for a third-party candidate, Ralph Nader, probably helping put George W. Bush in office.

Nader, whom I admire for his transformational impact on consumer rights, disagrees: He tells me that it’s absurd to blame him for Bush’s election, and he wants Sanders to continue his campaign.

“Why would he want to lose his bargaining power?” Nader asks, suggesting that by staying in the race, Sanders can influence the Democratic platform and Clinton’s choice of a running mate. Anyway, he says, “Trump’s going to implode.”

He’s probably right on that count. I would bet that Trump will lose, and I’d even give two-to-one odds. But I remember how my mother in 1980, as a fan of President Carter, was overjoyed when Reagan became the Republican nominee since she figured that assured Carter’s re-election. She wasn’t so happy a few months later.

Presidential campaigns are driven in part by surprises: What if there is a new wave of Central American refugees, or a terror attack by a Muslim recently admitted to the U.S.? Either would bolster Trump’s chances.

The success of both Trump and Sanders this year should inspire humility on the part of all of us about predicting election results. I agree with Nader that it’s almost unthinkable for Trump to be elected. Then again, it once was unthinkable that he would win the Republican nomination.

Sanders supporters should also remember that they agree at least in part with Clinton on Wall Street excesses, income inequality and college debt. Likewise, whatever their distaste for the Clintons, they probably share her views on reproductive health, on Supreme Court nominees, on inclusiveness toward Muslims and Mexican-Americans, on immigration reform, on early-childhood investments, on a stronger social safety net, on women’s rights around the world, on reducing mass incarceration and on a global pact to confront climate change.

Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who has been the only senator to back Sanders, acknowledges that now “we have a nominee.” He tells me that Sanders will continue his primary race through the Washington, D.C., vote next week but ultimately will focus on party unity.

“When I talked to Bernie when he was first thinking about running, he made it absolutely clear that he didn’t want to do anything that would result in the journey that we experienced with Ralph Nader,” Merkley said. “He will do everything possible to make sure that Trump is not in the Oval Office, and to do ‘everything possible’ certainly means that we’ve got to come together not just as a formality but in an inclusive, emphatic, unified fashion.”

In 2008, at about this time, Clinton stepped up and gave a powerful endorsement of Barack Obama. But she and Obama agreed on almost everything, while Sanders disagrees with Clinton on some issues and still exudes scorn for the Clinton campaign.

“Our struggle continues,” Sanders said in a new fund-raising email on Wednesday. Speaking in California on Tuesday evening, he did little to discourage his audience as it booed mention of Clinton.

That’s just irresponsible. And now that Clinton has won a majority of pledged delegates, it’s a violation of Sanders’s own principles to try to get superdelegates to vote for him rather than for the people’s choice.

“Defying history is what this campaign has been about,” Sanders said on Tuesday, but at this point he’s also defying his own values — and, just maybe, bolstering the prospects of the candidate who is the anti-Sanders.

I understand the passion and heartache of his followers, but I watched such idealism help elect Nixon and George W. Bush, and I flinch at the thought of similar idealists this year helping to elect a President Trump.

Right.  The last thing this country needs now is a bunch of purer-than-thou butthurt morons who will throw a tantrum if they don’t get their sparkleponies and unicorn poop.  Here’s Ms. Collins:

Do you remember back in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton betook themselves to Unity, N.H., for post-primary bonding? Clinton-Sanders seems like a tougher merge. Maybe they could be a little less ambitious and just get together in Friendly, W.Va.

There’s also Smileyberg, Kan. Although it’s sort of a ghost town, which isn’t great for analogies.

So far, Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to be in a Smileyberg state of mind. He’s meeting with President Obama on Thursday, but in his post-primary speech to supporters he was vowing to battle on to the convention. “I am pretty good at arithmetic and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight,” he said, in what may have been the biggest understatement of the campaign.

“We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C.,” he added.

Yes, there’s one more primary left, next Tuesday. But no one is going to pay any attention. I’m sorry, D.C. voters. You don’t have a senator, you’ve got about one-fifth of a member of Congress and now we’re going to totally ignore your opinion about the presidential nomination. You deserve better. Tell them next time to let you go ahead of New Hampshire.

The road to Unity eight years ago wasn’t devoid of potholes. Before the convention, Clinton was bitter and her supporters were furious. They wanted to put her name in nomination, make speeches about her superiority as a candidate and then cast all their delegate votes for her just to make it clear to the Obama people that they hadn’t changed their minds.

In the end, there was a deal. Clinton released her delegates and urged everyone to support Obama. Everyone didn’t comply. One of the most ardent Hillary camps was called PUMA, which either meant People United Means Action or Party Unity My Ass, depending on your mood. The PUMA people never came around. On Election Day, a group founder, Will Bower, told CNN that he had voted for John McCain because “I didn’t want to validate corruption or reward the campaign for what I thought was a fraudulent victory.”

Does that sound familiar? People who lose elections always suspect foul play, but the first useful thing Sanders needs to do is to stop suggesting that Clinton stole the nomination. The primary rules are weird, but you cannot keep complaining about the role of superdelegates when the winner is the person who got 16.2 million votes to your 12.3 million.

Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump. “To all of those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms,” he said on Tuesday. This was during the speech in which he attempted to prove that he could behave like a normal candidate and read lines from a teleprompter, none of them having to do with the capacity of Mexican-American judges to deliver fair verdicts.

And how did it go? Well, it turns out that Donald Trump being a normal candidate is so dull that the family members behind him on the stage looked ready to nod off. This is never going to last.

But about the Democrats.

The real difference between today and 2008 is that the two feuding candidates have serious policy differences. Also, Sanders is not going to be moved by any considerations of his future in the party, of which he has been a member for about three minutes. To bring him and his supporters around, Clinton will probably have to make some concessions on the issues they care about.

And that would be a good thing for everyone. The Democrats might not need every Bernie supporter this November, but the party most definitely needs an infusion of younger progressive leadership at every level. Really, right now it looks as if everybody’s been in office since the birth of disco.

Clinton has actually come around on some of Sanders’s issues already, although she hasn’t exactly been yelling from the rooftops. She supports free tuition at public community colleges. She’s opposed to reducing any Social Security benefits. She’s backtracked on free trade. But now that the primaries are over and she’s about to be pitted against Trump, Sanders has every right to suspect that she’ll be inclined to move to the squishy middle.

That would mean a campaign in which Clinton talks a lot about bringing us together and being president for all Americans, which sounds good but doesn’t really mean much. Candidates always say stuff like that. Zachary Taylor wanted to be president for all Americans, and what did he deliver? The destruction of the Whig Party and Millard Fillmore.

This is the obvious path: Sanders admits Clinton won fair and square. Clinton takes some big, serious jumps on policy. Otherwise, I understand the hotel rates in War, W.Va., are very reasonable this time of year.

Friedman, Cohen, and Collins

June 8, 2016

The Moustache of Wisdom says we should “Dump the G.O.P. for a Grand New Party.”  He tells us that after much selling out, the Republican Party has become morally bankrupt. We need a New Republican Party to support a healthy two-party system.  Gee, Tommy — how many Friedman Units did it take you to figure that out?  Mr. Cohen considers “Kerrey’s Vietnam Dilemma” and says former  Senator Bob Kerrey should not quit his role at the new Fulbright University Vietnam, despite an outcry over his war record.  Ms. Collins, in “What Hillary Imagines,” says she asked her to pick one person from the past to tell about her historic victory. And, nope, she didn’t pick Susan B. Anthony.  Here’s TMOW:

If a party could declare moral bankruptcy, today’s Republican Party would be in Chapter 11.

This party needs to just shut itself down and start over — now. Seriously, someone please start a New Republican Party!

America needs a healthy two-party system. America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party. America needs a center-right party ready to offer market-based solutions to issues like climate change. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense gun laws. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense fiscal policy. America needs a center-right party to support both free trade and aid to workers impacted by it. America needs a center-right party that appreciates how much more complicated foreign policy is today, when you have to manage weak and collapsing nations, not just muscle strong ones.

But this Republican Party is none of those things. Today’s G.O.P. is to governing what Trump University is to education — an ethically challenged enterprise that enriches and perpetuates itself by shedding all pretense of standing for real principles, or a truly relevant value proposition, and instead plays on the ignorance and fears of the public.

It is just an empty shell, selling pieces of itself to the highest bidders, — policy by policy — a little to the Tea Party over here, a little to Big Oil over there, a little to the gun lobby, to antitax zealots, to climate-change deniers. And before you know it, the party stands for an incoherent mess of ideas unrelated to any theory of where the world is going or how America actually becomes great again in the 21st century.

It becomes instead a coalition of men and women who sell pieces of their brand to whoever can most energize their base in order for them to get re-elected in order for them to sell more pieces of their brand in order to get re-elected.

And we know just how little they are attached to any principles, because today’s Republican Party’s elders have told us so by (with a few notable exceptions) being so willing to throw their support behind a presidential candidate whom they know is utterly ignorant of policy, has done no homework, has engaged in racist attacks on a sitting judge, has mocked a disabled reporter, has impugned an entire religious community, and has tossed off ignorant proposals for walls, for letting allies go it alone and go nuclear and for overturning trade treaties, rules of war and nuclear agreements in ways that would be wildly destabilizing if he took office.

Despite that, all top G.O.P. leaders say they will still support Donald Trump — even if he’s dabbled in a “textbook definition” of racism, as House Speaker Paul Ryan described it — because he will sign off on their agenda and can do only limited damage given our checks and balances.

Really? Mr. Speaker, your agenda is a mess, Trump will pay even less attention to you if he is president and, as Senator Lindsey Graham rightly put it, there has to be a time “when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”

Will it ever be that time with this version of the G.O.P.?

Et tu, John McCain? You didn’t break under torture from the North Vietnamese, but your hunger for re-election is so great that you don’t dare raise your voice against Trump? I hope you lose. You deserve to. Marco Rubio? You called Trump “a con man,” he insults your very being and you still endorse him? Good riddance.

Chris Christie, have you not an ounce of self-respect? You’re serving as the valet to a man who claimed, falsely, that on 9/11, in Jersey City, home to many Arab-Americans, “thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” Christie is backing a man who made up a baldfaced lie about residents of his own state so that maybe he can be his vice president. Contemptible.

This is exactly why so many Republican voters opted for Trump in the first place. They intuited that the only thing these G.O.P. politicians were interested in was holding onto their seats in office — and they were right. It made voters so utterly cynical that many figured, Why not inflict Trump on them? It’s all just a con game anyway. And at least Trump sticks it to all of those politically correct liberals. And anyway, governing doesn’t matter — only attitude.

And who taught them that?

But it does matter. I know so many thoughtful conservatives who know it matters. One of them has got to start the N.R.P. — New Republican Party — a center-right party liberated from all the Trump birthers, the Sarah Palins, the Grover Norquists, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs, the gun lobby, the oil lobby and every other narrow-interest group, a party that redefines a principled conservatism. Raise your money for it on the internet. If Bernie Sanders can, you can.

This is such a pivotal moment; the world we shaped after W.W. II is going wobbly. This is a time for America to be at its best, defending its best values, which are now under assault in so many places — pluralism, immigration, democracy, trade, the rule of law and the virtue of open societies. Trump will never be a credible messenger, or a messenger at all, for those values. A New Republican Party can be.

If you build it, they will come.

With all due respect, Tommy, bullshit.  The proles have voted for what could be expected after 40 years of Republican dog whistle politics.  The only difference is that Trump has put down the dog whistle and picked up a klaxon.  And now, of course, TPTB in Washington have all taken to their fainting couches, clutching their pearls, and wondering how on earth it has all come to this…  You sowed the wind, now you’re reaping the whirlwind.  Now here’s Mr. Cohen, writing from Ho Chi Minh City:

Lives can turn in an instant. For former Senator Bob Kerrey, that moment came on Feb. 25, 1969, when, as a young lieutenant in the Navy SEALs, he led his squad into the Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong. By the time they withdrew, 20 civilians had been slaughtered, including 13 children, according to survivors.

“It haunted me from the moment we pulled out of the area,” Kerrey told me in a telephone conversation. “I knew we had done something wrong. I did not walk away saying that was great. It did not go away. But if you don’t adjust you end your life, and we are talking, so I did not end my life.”

In fact, Kerrey went to work to build a special relationship between the United States and Vietnam. He was an early advocate of the normalization through which many wounds have healed. Trade has flourished. The rapturous reception extended last month to President Obama — the warmest accorded by any nation during his presidency, as he confided to an American diplomat — was a measure of an almost miraculous reconciliation.

One area in which Kerrey has worked hard is education, both as senator and later as president of the New School in New York. For many years he helped to raise money for a project Obama announced: the opening of the Fulbright University Vietnam, the first such private institution in the country. Financed in part by the U.S. Congress, the school will accept its first students next year. Kerrey has been named chairman of the board.

The appointment has ignited a storm. From cafes to Facebook a debate rages on whether Kerrey is fit to head the university. Some people say that, whatever his contrition, his admission that he ordered the killing in cold blood of Vietnamese women and children disqualifies him. (Whether Kerrey himself killed civilians is still disputed.)

Kerrey was awarded a Bronze Star after his unit falsely reported that it had killed 21 Vietcong guerrillas. For more than 30 years he kept silent until The New York Times and CBS News were about to publish a joint investigation in 2001.

I asked Kerrey if all his efforts on behalf of Vietnam had a redemptive purpose. He said the episode and his work were “a double helix,” inseparable from each other. I asked him about his long silence. “For a soldier in a war,” he said, “to keep silent is not an anomaly but a rule.” I asked him about the medal. “I have never worn it,” he said, “and the anger would not end if I mailed it back to the Department of Defense.”

It is human — in fact it is uniquely human — to seek redemption. The crime begets a reproachful whisper that will not be stilled. In every war I have covered, from Beirut to Bosnia, I have listened to men (always men) recount moments that left shame — the terrorizing of a child in a quest for intelligence, the abandonment of a son encircled by the enemy. More than one million innocent Vietnamese civilians were killed; Kerrey’s story is one of many. We were not there in the heat, in the night, in that tension, with that responsibility. I listen to Kerrey and think: There but for the grace of God go I.

“I don’t believe in redemption,” Kerrey told me. “Do good deeds undo a bad deed? I don’t think that. You cannot change your past. You can only change the future.”

To go through this pain again (“Part of me wants to run away from it,” he told me) is a gauge of Kerrey’s commitment. It is brave. I understand Pham Thuy Huong of Hanoi, who wrote on Facebook, “I cannot look at his face.” I listen to Kerrey and think also of Bui Van Vat, a 65-year-old grandfather whose throat was slit, survivors said. The elevation of peace over grievance involves wrestling with impossible moral dilemmas. Acceptance that there is no wholly satisfactory answer is part of moving forward.

Nguyen Ngoc Chu, a mathematician, suggested in a statement supporting Kerrey that there were valuable lessons in the discussion for the university’s first students: that every judgment requires historical context; that successful people live for the future rather than in past hatreds.

Certainly, this unusually vigorous and open debate is an example of what the university should embody in a country under one-party rule. As Ben Wilkinson, the executive director of the Trust for University Innovation in Vietnam, the nonprofit corporation behind the project, told me, “The university will be a major advance for organized civil society.”

Kerrey should resist calls to quit. As no other, he embodies the agony of overcoming war’s legacy. But he should send back that medal. He should push for the establishment of a Bui Van Vat fellowship in international humanitarian law. And he should ensure that somewhere on campus the words with which Muhammad Ali explained his conscience-driven refusal of the draft are engraved: “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong.”

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Hillary Clinton. First woman presidential nominee.

Okay, of a major political party. We’re not going into the minor-party exceptions since that would require a lengthy discussion of Victoria Woodhull in 1872. Under normal circumstances, Woodhull would certainly be worth talking about, given the faith healing and the brokerage firm and the obscenity trial. But this is Hillary’s moment.

“It’s really emotional,” she said in a speech this week. Clinton brings up the first-woman thing a lot, and the idea of showing little girls that they can be “anything you want to be. Even President of the United States.” For many young women, that’s actually old news, since Hillary the potential president has been around most of their lives. Back when she was first elected to the Senate in 2000, the coverage was so omnipresent that my niece Anna, who was around 3, asked my sister whether it was possible for a man to be a senator.

The people who get most excited are the ones who remember how things used to be, back when girls couldn’t envision being in the Little League, let alone the White House. And can you imagine going back in history and sharing Clinton’s news with the suffragists? This is one of my favorite mind games – pretend you’re returning to 1872 and telling the story to Susan B. Anthony while she was being handcuffed for the crime of voting while female.

Or there’s the other route of telling some historical figure who would faint with horror. Like Thomas Jefferson – wouldn’t you want to see his face? We all know how good Jefferson was on freedom of speech, but he was possibly the worst sexist in the very competitive group known as the Founding Fathers. (“Our good ladies, I trust, have been too wise to wrinkle their foreheads with politics. They are contented to soothe and calm the minds of their husbands returning ruffled from political debate.”)

But Clinton wouldn’t want this to be a moment for rancor. So I asked for her own pick.

And her answer was: if she could go into the past to tell someone that she’d been nominated for President of the United States, it would be her mother.

Dorothy Rodham had an auspicious date of birth — June 4, 1919, the very same day the Senate passed a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. But otherwise, she had a terrible beginning. Her parents abandoned her. At 8, she was riding across the country, unaccompanied except for her younger sister, on the way to live with grandparents who didn’t want them. She went off on her own at 14, working as a housekeeper during the Depression. But she got herself through high school, was a good student and raised her own daughter to believe the sky was the limit.

Before we head off on the rest of this deeply imperfect election, take a second and enjoy. Imagine Hillary Clinton going back in time. She sits in the train next to a frightened little girl, and delivers the news about what happened this week.

Collins, solo

June 4, 2016

In “Hillary’s Really Good Day” Ms. Collins says a speech laid out voters’ choices: A woman who knows foreign policy or a man who thinks the Miss Universe pageant in Russia is foreign policy experience.  Here she is:

Hillary Clinton made a great speech this week. Not what we were expecting, which was just a sturdy slog through the summer. Even though it was a policy address on national security that centered on the listing of six points, it was a super performance.

The bottom line was that America can choose her, or give the nuclear codes to a guy no sane person would put in charge of policing a parking lot.

And it drove the presumptive Republican nominee nuts: “After what she said about me today in her phony speech, that was a phony speech, that was a Donald Trump hit job,” he howled to a rally in California. “I will say this! Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, O.K.? She has to go to jail — has to go! That was a phony hit job! She’s guilty as hell!”

It was a little less controlled than Trump’s Twitter response: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn’t even look presidential!” But equally deep.

On Thursday Clinton strode out after a rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which was a nice change after months and months and months of Katy Perry’s greatest hits. “Roar” seemed like a good idea when Clinton first opened her campaign, but then she got all those complaints about how she was doing too much roaring. About boring details. She managed to become a candidate who was simultaneously criticized for yelling and for putting people to sleep.

But that was before. On Thursday, standing in front of enough American flags to make it seem like Banner Day on the Home Shopping Network, Clinton took on Trump’s history when it came to foreign affairs. She was clear and forceful and occasionally funny.

“He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia,” she sniped. Her friends have moaned forever that her sense of humor doesn’t come across on stage. This week it emerged. And Trump did say the thing about Miss Universe.

Good as the speech was, it can’t be the end of the conversation. While Clinton’s experience as secretary of state is certainly a plus, her longtime hawkishness should be a minus. She needs to tell the country what she’s learned about the limits to American power, and if she isn’t forced to during this campaign, that’ll be one more thing we can hold against Donald Trump forever.

But you could see why this particular speech, which was really one large thought about her Republican opponent, was not going to be the venue where she parsed over her own record. Making the case against Trump as a wildly dangerous threat to American security is both easy and hard. It’s easy because he’s said so many crazy things and hard because he’s usually also said the exact opposite.

A Washington Post fact-check on Clinton’s claim that Trump said “more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia,” referred to an exchange with Anderson Cooper on CNN that went in part like this:

Cooper: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?

Trump: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

Cooper: You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?

Trump: No, not nuclear weapons. …

“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent,” Clinton said. “They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.” She then proceeded to go into, um, details. Like his enthusiasm for a trade war, and flirtation with the idea of defaulting on the national debt. Speaking to voters who sometimes reject Democrats as lacking in patriotism, she asked, in effect, what they were doing hanging around with a guy who says America isn’t great.

There’s no reason this should stop with foreign affairs. If Clinton could do the same thing on the domestic front, she could pulverize Trump on his insane tax plan, his wildly erratic positions on health care and his complete absence of any thoughts whatsoever about education. In the process, she could unroll an agenda of her own that’s smart and responsible, but also large and exciting.

Hillary Clinton is about to become the first woman ever to win a major party nomination for president, but the getting there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. Polls keep showing that voters don’t like her. Sensible Americans worry that voters are shrugging off what should be career-shattering details about Trump’s background, like the fact that he ran a sleazy continuing-education school that wheedled senior citizens out of their savings.

He’s diverting, and a lot of people seem prepared to look past almost anything for some entertainment and all-purpose anger. Clinton will never be as much fun to talk about.

But she’s always been a learner, and this week suggests that after all these years, she can still become a better public speaker. Even if she doesn’t, she did a great job of reminding everyone that there are more important things.

Blow, Cohen, Kristof and Collins

June 2, 2016

In “A Chill Wind Blows” Mr. Blow says that Trump’s rhetoric suggests that in his mind, adulation is the only honesty.  Mr. Cohen, in “The Right Asian Deal,” says Congress should ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and that its failure would be a big victory for China.  In “Building Children’s Brains” Mr. Kristof says that in order to get  more kids to college we should invest in infants.  Ms. Collins, in “Tightwad Trump Explodes,” says Donald, just show us the money for veterans.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump, a man who tosses the truth around with the callous disdain of a spoiled child with a toy he has outgrown, has spent much of his campaign calling the media dishonest, even though his manipulation of the media is the only reason he’s the last Republican standing.

He seems to view any unflattering, or otherwise critical, coverage as an attack. His rhetoric suggests that in his mind, adulation is the only honesty.

Such is his wont. And no Republican in a party that continues to veer dangerously toward fact-hostile absolutism has ever lost points with his base by calling the media biased against him.

But there is a strand of these comments and behavior that heralds something more dangerous than an ideological animosity toward the press. Trump keeps signaling that if he had his druthers, he would silence dissent altogether.

At a spectacle of a news conference on Tuesday, Trump laid into reporters for asking simple accountability questions about funds going to charity groups. He even called one reporter a “sleaze” and complained that coverage of his donations to the groups “make me look very bad.”

This isn’t the first time he has used base language to attack reporters with whom he disagreed or was annoyed. The New York Times has collected a comprehensive list of his Twitter insults (often waged against journalists), which simply boggles the mind. (I am among those he has accused of “dishonest reporting.”)

But even that isn’t what’s most troubling. What’s troubling is that under a Trump administration, the First Amendment itself — either in spirit or in law, or both — could be severely weakened. What we have to worry about is a chill wind blowing from the White House.

This is no small thing. Our constitutionally protected freedom of speech and freedom of the press are pillars that make this country great, and different.

Not only did Trump say Tuesday that if he became president he was going to “continue to attack the press,” but in February, he said:

One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.

Exceptions for falsehoods are already part of our libel jurisprudence, but the worrisome nature of that comment lies in its vagueness. What does “open up our libel laws” mean? Is he equating “purposely negative” and “horrible” — both subjective determinations — with “false”?

These principles of free press and free speech, which are almost as old as the country itself, are not things to be tinkered with on the whim of a thin-skinned man who has said flattering things about dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, ruler of a country that the press watchdog group Freedom House calls “one of the most repressive media environments in the world,” where “listening to unauthorized foreign broadcasts and possessing dissident publications are considered ‘crimes against the state’ that carry serious punishments, including hard labor, prison sentences, and the death penalty.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that this week Time magazine reported that “a North Korean state media outlet has praised Donald Trump as a ‘wise politician’ and ‘farsighted candidate’ who can reunify the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump’s dictatorial instinct to suppress what he deems “negative” speech, particularly from the press, is the very thing the founders worried about.

In 1737, more than 50 years before the Constitution was adopted, signed and ratified — before the First Amendment was adopted — Benjamin Franklin wrote in The Pennsylvania Gazette:

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”

Our unfettered freedom to interrogate and criticize our government and our leaders are part of our patriotism and an expression of our national fealty.

James Baldwin put it this way: “I love America more than any other country in the world, and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

And that extends to the country’s politicians.

This idea is so much bigger than Trump, a small man of small thought who is at war with scrutiny.

Freedom of speech and the press are principles that we must protect from this wannabe authoritarian.

Next up we have Mr. Cohen, writing from Ho Chi Minh City:

An American who has been a resident here for a few years said to me the other day: “You know, they still look at us here the way we want to be looked at. America equals opportunity, entrepreneurship and success. That’s not true in so many places anymore.”

Four decades after the war, in one of the world’s consoling mysteries, the United States enjoys an overwhelming approval rating in Vietnam, reflected in the outpouring of enthusiasm for President Obama during his three-day visit last month. In this fast-growing country of 94 million people, about one-third of them on Facebook, America is at once the counterbalance to the age-old enemy, China, and an emblem of the prosperity young people seek.

The best way to kick Vietnamese aspirations in the teeth, turn the country sour on the United States, and undermine the stabilizing American role in Asia, would be for Congress to fail to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s signature trade agreement with 11 Pacific Rim countries including Vietnam but not China.

If T.P.P. falls apart, China wins. It’s as simple as that. Nonratification would signal that Beijing gets to dictate policy in the region, and the attempt to integrate Vietnam comprehensively in a rules-based international economy fails.

Obama’s decision to spend so much time here was an indication of the importance he attaches to this cornerstone of his so-called Asia “pivot.” The agreement — with countries accounting for close to 40 percent of the global economy — anchors the United States as a Pacific power and reinforces its critical offsetting role in Asia as China rises. By visiting Ho Chi Minh City and Hiroshima, Japan, Obama also made a powerful statement that past enmities can be overcome in the name of mutual prosperity — a signal to Cuba and Myanmar, among others.

But such long-term transformations, pulling hundreds of millions out of poverty in Asia, are not the stuff of an American election characterized by anger above all. Among the popular one-liners is this: International trade deals steal American jobs. Not one of the three surviving candidates backs the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hillary Clinton was for it — and right — before she was against it — and wrong. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are simply against it, big time.

The trade agreement — with countries including Peru, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Malaysia — has flaws, of course. There are issues it does not address, like currency manipulation. Legitimate concerns have been raised about the impact that patent enforcement will have on affordable medicines.

The Obama administration has acknowledged that some manufacturing and low-skilled jobs will be lost, but argued this will be offset by job growth in higher-wage, export-reliant industries. The Peterson Institute for International Economics, in a report issued this year, found the accord would stimulate job “churn” but was “not likely to affect overall employment in the United States,” while delivering significant gains in real incomes and annual exports.

What the agreement will do, as Clinton noted when she backed the deal, is deliver “better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers and others.” It obliges countries like Vietnam to allow workers to form independent unions; it requires a minimum wage and higher health standards; it bans child labor and forced labor. It binds Vietnam to countries where the rule of law is arbiter rather than authoritarian diktat.

At a time when a drought in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s rice bowl, and a massive fish kill along the coast have sparked protests and sharpened concerns about global warming, the agreement is also designed to combat overfishing, illegal logging and other environmental scourges. It commits countries to shift to low-emissions economies.

To which, all Donald Trump has to say in a recent article in USA Today is that T.P.P. is “the biggest betrayal in a long line of betrayals” of American workers. But when pressed in a Republican debate on which parts of the deal were badly negotiated, he could only cite currency manipulation and “the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States.”

China and India, of course, are not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

As for Clinton, she believed in 2012 that the T.P.P. “sets the gold standard in trade agreements,” before deciding last October that “I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.” The best that can be said about this is that it was probably a tactical cave-in she would reverse if she wins.

Developed economies face huge problems that have produced this season of rage. But the world has enjoyed growing prosperity over decades because of continuously reduced trade barriers. A reversal would be the road to conflict. Like the best trade accords, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is also a strategic boost to liberty and stability in the fastest-growing part of the globe. Congress should resist populist ranting and ratify it.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

First, a quiz: What’s the most common “vegetable” eaten by American toddlers?

Answer: The French fry.

The same study that unearthed that nutritional tragedy also found that on any given day, almost half of American toddlers drink soda or similar drinks, possibly putting the children on a trajectory toward obesity or diabetes.

But for many kids, the problems start even earlier. In West Virginia, one study found, almost one-fifth of children are born with alcohol or drugs in their system. Many thus face an uphill struggle from the day they are born.

Bear all this in mind as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump battle over taxes, minimum wages and whether to make tuition free at public universities. Those are legitimate debates, but the biggest obstacles and greatest inequality often have roots early in life:

If we want to get more kids in universities, we should invest in preschools.

Actually, preschool may be a bit late. Brain research in the last dozen years underscores that the time of life that may shape adult outcomes the most is pregnancy through age 2 or 3.

“The road to college attainment, higher wages and social mobility in the United States starts at birth,” notes James Heckman, a Nobel-winning economist at the University of Chicago. “The greatest barrier to college education is not high tuitions or the risk of student debt; it’s in the skills children have when they first enter kindergarten.”

Heckman is not a touchy-feely bleeding heart. He’s a math wiz renowned for his work on econometrics. But he is focusing his work on early education for disadvantaged children because he sees that as perhaps the highest-return public investment in the world today.

He measures the economic savings from investments in early childhood — because less money is spent later on juvenile courts, prisons, health care and welfare — and calculates that early-education programs for needy kids pay for themselves several times over.

One of the paradoxes of American politics is that this is an issue backed by overwhelming evidence, enjoying bipartisan support, yet Washington is stalled on it. Gallup finds that Americans by more than two to one favor universal pre-K, and Clinton and Sanders are both strong advocates. Trump has made approving comments as well (although online searches of both “Trump” and “preschool” mostly turn up comparisons of him to a preschooler).

To be clear, what’s needed is not just education but also help for families beginning in pregnancy, to reduce the risk that children will be born with addictions and to increase the prospect that they will be raised with lots of play and conversation. (By age 4, a child of professionals has heard 30 million more words than a child on welfare.)

The best metric of child poverty may have to do not with income but with how often a child is spoken and read to.

So it’s in early childhood that the roots of inequality lie. A book from the Russell Sage Foundation, “Too Many Children Left Behind,” notes that 60 to 70 percent of the achievement gap between rich and poor kids is already evident by kindergarten. The book recommends investing in early childhood, for that’s when programs often have the most impact.

It is true that cognitive gains from preschool seem to fade by the third grade, but there are differences in life outcomes that persist. Many years later, these former pre-K students are less likely to be arrested, to drop out of high school, to be on welfare and to be jobless.

A wave of recent research in neuroscience explains why early childhood is so critical: That’s when the brain is developing most quickly. Children growing up in poverty face high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which changes the architecture of the brain, compromising areas like the amygdala and hippocampus.

A new collection of essays from Harvard Education Press, “The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education,” says that this “toxic stress” from poverty impairs brain circuits responsible for impulse control, working memory, emotional regulation, error processing and healthy metabolic functioning. Early-childhood programs protect those young brains.

So in this presidential campaign, let’s move beyond the debates about free tuition and minimum wages to push something that might matter even more: early-childhood programs for needy kids.

“It is in the first 1,000 days of life that the stage is set for fulfilling individual potential,” writes Roger Thurow in his powerful and important new book on leveraging early childhood, “The First 1,000 Days.” “If we want to shape the future, to truly improve the world, we have 1,000 days to do it, mother by mother, child by child.”

America’s education wars resemble World War I, with each side entrenched and exhausted but no one making much progress. So let’s transcend the stalemate and focus on investing in America’s neediest kids.

We rescued banks because they were too big to fail. Now let’s help children who are too small to fail.

Well, Mr. Kristof, maybe YOU can get the Forced Birthers to start giving a crap about children once they’re in the post-fetal stage.  You know, born.  Last but not least we have Ms. Collins:

Donald Trump has a simple reason for his long delay in explaining what happened to the money he raised for veterans’ charities: He didn’t want any publicity.

“Because I wanted to make this out of the goodness of my heart,” he told a press conference in which he castigated reporters for forcing him to provide details.

Of all conceivable explanations, “too self-effacing” ranks somewhere below “temporarily kidnapped by space aliens.” Let’s look elsewhere. The best possibilities seem to be:

A) Cheapness.

B) Tendency to make things up.

C) Difficulty in getting a disorganized, minimally qualified, perpetually short-handed staff to keep track of the cash.

Obviously, we’re going for all three.

The story so far: Trump was supposed to do a Republican primary debate in January on Fox News, a network with which he was feuding. So he staged his own counter-event, a much-publicized fund-raiser for veterans’ charities. The highlight was an announcement that the veterans were getting $6 million, including a $1 million donation from the Donald himself.

Time passed. And he wouldn’t say where the money went.

People, I know you’re tired of hearing Donald Trump stories, but did you want the reporters to just drop the subject? Trump certainly did. Particularly when it came to his own personal million-dollar contribution, which did not actually materialize until the news media, particularly The Washington Post, started asking questions. Many questions. Which went unanswered.

“Oh, I’m totally accountable, but I didn’t want to have credit for it,” Trump said.

The money was turned over to a veterans’ charity about, um, a week ago.

We have heard a lot from Trump about his passion for veterans lately. It’s an intense interest that goes back at least … a year. Before that, his major involvement with the military appeared to be getting a deferment for “a foot thing” when he was eligible for the draft during the war in Vietnam.

It is not unusual for presidential candidates to have avoided military service. Bill Clinton did. Bernie Sanders did. Most of Congress did. Dick Cheney got himself five deferments — and, O.K., when it came to Dick Cheney we took offense. But in general, we’ve gotten used to nonveterans as the political norm.

One of the very few major American politicians who did serve, under fire, is John McCain, and one of the first things Trump did in his race for president was to make fun of McCain’s years as a prisoner of war. (“I like people who weren’t captured.”) He also portrayed himself as a guy who had done way, way more to help veterans than John McCain, a claim that was … oh Lord, let’s not even go there.

The donations to Trump’s January fund-raiser were supposed to be distributed through the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which had been around for years without previously making veterans a priority, or even an afterthought.

We will not bother to point out that Donald J. Trump himself did not have a history of being a big donor to the Donald J. Trump Foundation. In fact, Trump never seemed to give much money to anybody. This appears to be one of the most tightfisted billionaires since Scrooge McDuck.

Unless he’s not a billionaire at all. If Trump ever releases his tax records and it turns out that he’s only worth, say, $755,000, he’ll deserve a big apology from those of us who thought he was a self-centered rich guy with zero interest in sharing his wealth with the less fortunate. Honestly, I will be the first to raise my hand.

But about the veterans. Trump brings up his commitment to our fighting men and women all the time now. Really, the only person he talks about more than the American soldier is Bobby Knight, the former basketball coach who is famous for roughing up his players and endorsing Donald Trump for president.

On Memorial Day weekend, Trump spoke to a gathering of veterans and bikers in Washington, and managed to both drop Bobby Knight’s name and complain about the small crowd. “I thought this would be like Dr. Martin Luther King, where the people will be lined up from here all the way to the Washington Monument,” he said.

On Tuesday, Trump said he was just joking. Let’s accept that at face value and agree that he simply made a humorous remark in which he compared himself to a slain civil rights leader.

He also insisted the media was conspiring to undercount the attendance: “So instead of saying Trump made a speech in front of a packed crowd they said Trump was disappointed.” Have we ever had a president who referred to himself in the third person? The answer, as a number of readers have been kind enough to point out is — yes! We had Richard Nixon.

See if that makes you feel any better.

Blow, Kristof and Collins

May 26, 2016

In “Violence Is Never the Answer” Mr. Blow says it’s easy to see why young people are having a make-me-want-to-holler moment, but you don’t want to strengthen your enemies and weaken your cause.  Mr. Kristof has “Sore, Happy Feet on the Pacific Crest Trail” and says a backpacking trip provides both an escape from life’s distractions and an annual bonding experience for father and daughter.  Ms. Collins unleashes some “Memorial Day Weekend Ranting” and says she has  met the enemy, and it is the airlines.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

As I watched violence erupt on television among anti-Donald Trump protesters in Albuquerque, on Tuesday, my heart sank. This outbreak came on the heels of the chaotic scene at the state Democratic convention in Nevada and death threats against the state party chairwoman there.

I understand the frustration and the desire for change, but violence simply isn’t the way to create it. Once violence springs forth, moral authority dries up.

I understand the fear, anger and even rage that the systems that govern this country and the citizens who constitute it could allow — and even enthusiastically cheer — the ascendance of a demagogue like Trump.

It is incredibly dispiriting, because it makes one question what must lurk in the hearts of one’s neighbors. How is it that anyone could support a man who has made the assertions, both personal and political, that Trump has?

And yet, many people do support him. For many, he is giving public voice to private thought. Trump has not so much planted a sentiment as surfaced one that already existed.

How could this man become the presidential nominee of a major party? How is it that he stands an actual chance of becoming president? What does it say about us?

The answers to these questions are terrifying to contemplate, but contemplate them we must, with all their attendant anxieties, which are no doubt amplified among portions of the population who have been targets of Trump’s dangerous rhetoric.

Both Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side have run popular campaigns that have castigated the political system as rigged and unfair.

This sentiment has had greater resonance on the left, where Sanders will almost definitely fall short of securing the nomination, than on the right, where Trump will secure it.

As the Pew Research Center found in a report published in March:

“The share of Democrats expressing a positive view of the primary process has declined 22 percentage points (from 52 percent) in February 2008. Republicans views are little different than in 2000 or 2008.”

Indeed, Trump’s supporters were the only group of supporters in which a majority viewed the nominating process favorably.

I am convinced that this vise grip is squeezing young people most, particularly liberal ones, because they already have a troubled relationship with society’s systems.

A Harvard IOP poll released this year found that while there were some marginal increases of trust among young adults in some institutions, their distrust of the federal government, Congress, Wall Street and the media was still considerable.

In addition, young people are experiencing real, unprecedented strain.

Pew reported Tuesday, under the headline “For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds,” that “In 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 were slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household.”

They attribute part of this change to partnering patterns, but another part to economic stress, particularly among young men.

As the report put it:

“Employed young men are much less likely to live at home than young men without a job, and employment among young men has fallen significantly in recent decades. The share of young men with jobs peaked around 1960 at 84 percent. In 2014, only 71 percent of 18- to 34-year-old men were employed. Similarly with earnings, young men’s wages (after adjusting for inflation) have been on a downward trajectory since 1970 and fell significantly from 2000 to 2010. As wages have fallen, the share of young men living in the home of their parent(s) has risen.”

And The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that:

“About seven in 10 seniors set to graduate this spring borrowed for their educations. Along with their diplomas, they’ll carry an average $37,172 of student debt as they enter the work force, according to a new analysis by higher-education expert Mark Kantrowitz. That breaks the record set by the 2015 class, which owed just over $35,000, on average.”

Add to that the fact that this is one of their first elections — if not the absolute first — and on the one side they have a dangerous cartoon villain, while on the other they are likely to have a candidate who has performed astonishingly poorly among young voters.

It is easy to see why young people are having a make-me-want-to-holler moment, but violence only strengthens your enemies and weakens your cause.

I understand the need to take a stand and make your voices heard, to engage in the direct democracy of protest and be a visible and vocal counterpoint to people you deem unfit and systems you deem unfair.

But here is a hard truth: There are no quick and easy fixes in this country. Everything you call broken was broken bit by bit over a long time and must be fixed the same way.

Democracy is an exercise in patience and persistence, not quick corrections.

The way we fix our systems and our politics is not only with vociferous displays in the moment, but also with vigilant crusades over a lifetime.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Every spring or summer, in lieu of professional help, I ditch civilization for the therapy of the wilderness. I’ve just been backpacking with my 18-year-old daughter on the Pacific Crest Trail in California, abandoning our material world for an alternative reality in which the aim is to possess as little as possible — because if you have it, you lug it.

Our lives were downsized to 10 pounds of possessions each, not counting food and water. We carried backpacks, sleeping bags, jackets, hats, a plastic groundsheet, a tarp in case of rain, a water filter and a tiny roll of duct tape for when things break.

Few problems in life cannot be solved with duct tape.

O.K., I know I’m supposed to use my column to pontificate about Donald Trump and global crises. But as summer beckons, let me commend such wilderness escapes to all of you, with your loved ones, precisely to find a brief refuge from the pressures of the world.

This isn’t for everybody; astonishingly, some folks prefer beaches and clean sheets. But for me at least, a crazy jaunt in the outdoors is the perfect antidote to the absurdity of modern life.

In the 21st century, we often find ourselves spinning on the hamster wheel, nervously jockeying for status with our peers — Is my barbecue bigger than my neighbor’s? Is my car flashier? — even as we’re too busy to barbecue anything. We’re like dogs chasing after our tails.

That’s why I find it so cathartic to run away from home. My parents took me backpacking beginning when I was about 7, and my wife and I took our three children on overnight hikes as soon as they could toddle.

Don’t tell Child Protective Services, but when my daughter was 4, I took her on an overnight trip on Oregon’s Eagle Creek Trail, carrying her most of the first day on my shoulders, on top of my backpack. The next morning, I bribed her: If she would walk by herself all 13 miles back to the car, I would buy her a spectacular ice cream in the nearest town.

So we set off for the car. At every rest stop, we conjured that ice cream and how cold it would be, and, fortified, we trundled on down the trail beside glorious waterfalls. When we reached the car, we were both proud of her heroism, and she beamed tiredly as I buckled her into her car seat.

When we arrived at an ice cream shop 20 minutes later, she was fast asleep. I couldn’t wake her.

Thus began our hiking partnership, sometimes undertaken with the whole family, sometimes just the two of us. At home we’re all busy, but on the trail we’re beyond cellphone coverage or email reach and we’re stuck with each other.

So we talk. Even as we’re disconnected, we reconnect. And on rest breaks and at night, camping under the stars, we read aloud to each other: On this trip, my daughter and I have been reading Adam Johnson’s brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” and talking about what it means.

No self-respecting teenage girl would normally allow her dad to read to her, but out in the wilderness, it’s a bond we share.

It’s true that not everybody can get time off, the cost of equipment can add up and it can be a hassle to get to and from a trail. (When I’ve tried hitchhiking out, drivers see a bedraggled, unshaven hobo and speed up!). Still, costs are modest: While car campgrounds often charge, backpacking in the great outdoors is almost always free. And day after day, there is simply nowhere to spend money.

I can’t pretend it’s glamorous. We’ve been scorched by the sun and chilled by rain, hail and snow. Sure, in trail conversations we bare our innermost thoughts, but we also spend plenty of time whining about blisters, rattlesnakes and 20-mile stretches without water. We curse trail designers for PUDS, or pointless ups and downs.

And let’s be blunt: I stink. When you’re carrying everything on your back, you don’t pack any changes of clothing. We bathe our feet in creeks (hoping that anyone drinking downstream is using a water filter), and on this trip we luxuriated in the Deep Creek hot springs beside the trail. We commiserate together, and we exult together in America’s cathedral of the wild, our stunning common heritage and birthright.

My daughter and I have now hiked across Washington and Oregon and hundreds of miles of California, and eventually we’ll have limped the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. Nothing is as different from my daily life, nor as treasured, and that is why I suggest the wilderness to friends.

For members of my family at least, these spring and summer hikes are a reminder that what shapes us is not so much the possessions we acquire but the memories we accumulate, that when you scrape away the veneer, what gives life meaning is not the grandest barbecue or the sportiest car. It’s each other.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Summer is upon us, and we are facing important travel decisions. Such as who to blame when we get stuck in interminable airport lines.

So many options. There’s the government, but how many times can you can complain about Congress in the course of a lifetime? There’s the public — air traffic up 12 percent since 2011. But really, people, don’t blame yourself.

Let’s pick a rant that’s good for you, good for me, good for the lines in security: Make the airlines stop charging fees for checked baggage.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Plus, if you do manage to make it to your flight, these are the same people who will be announcing there’s a $3 fee if you want a snack.

The largest airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag, thus encouraging people to drag their belongings through the airport, clogging the X-ray lines and slowing the boarding process as everybody fights to cram one last rolling duffel into the overhead compartment.

The idea that travelers should be hit by an extra charge for, um, having luggage began in 2008, when the cost of fuel went through the roof. We understood the airlines’ pain, sort of. Maybe. But now fuel prices have fallen into the cellar. The airlines are taking in stupendous profits — last year nearly $26 billion after taxes, up from $2.3 billion in 2010.

Yet the baggage fees are still with us. In fact, they’ve gone up by about two-thirds. Last year, the nation’s airlines made more than $3.8 billion off what I believe it is fair to call a scam. It’s also an excellent way to make your prices look lower than they really are when people surf for the cheapest ticket, a number that never includes details like the special fees for bags, food, canceling a reservation, booking by phone, sitting in a minimally more comfortable emergency row or, in some cases, requesting a pillow.

Shouldn’t the airlines offer up the baggage fee as a token of solidarity with their miserable passengers? The idea has come up. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asked the airlines to “consider possibly” this modest bow to air travel sanity. Two U.S. senators, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, wrote a letter to the airlines asking them to just drop the fees during the high-traffic summer months.

We pause now for the sound of silence and crickets chirping.

The airlines have maximized profits by making travel as miserable as possible. The Boeing Company found a way to cram 14 more seats into its largest twin-engine jetliner by reducing the size of the lavatories.Bloomberg quoted a Boeing official as reporting that “the market reaction has been good — really positive.” We presume the market in question does not involve the actual passengers.

But the industry is so powerful that it seems to be able to get away with squishing people into smaller and smaller spaces. Last month, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York offered an amendment to a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration that would have imposed a moratorium on reductions in seat size and space between rows. It failed, 54 to 42.

Nobody spoke out against the proposal, but only one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, voted for it. We salute Susan Collins, who has been, for a number of years, virtually the entire population of the Moderate Republican Caucus.

When Schumer flies, his first move is to empty the seat pocket in front of him. “I take out the magazine and the airsickness bag so I have an extra eighth of an inch,” he said in a phone interview. It’s a matter of some passion — when the presidents of three airlines visited Schumer’s office for discussion of a totally unrelated issue, he moved the coffee table so it was an inch from their knees. “I said: ‘O.K., now you know how it feels.’”

But about the bags.

Rather than reducing the number of bags in security lines, the airlines would like the government to deal with the problem by adding more workers to screen them. And the perpetually beleaguered Transportation Security Administration is going to spend $34 million to hire more people and pay more overtime this summer. Which, it assured the public, is not really going to solve much of anything.

(Who, you may ask, pays for the security lines anyway? For the most part you the taxpayer do. Also you the passenger pay a special security fee on your tickets. Which Congress tends to grab away from the T.S.A. for use in all-purpose deficit reduction. I know, I know.)

A spokesman for Delta Air Lines, which took in more than $875 million on baggage fees last year, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that bowing to the extremely modest Markey-Blumenthal request for a summer suspension of the baggage fee wouldn’t “really help alleviate a lot.” It would also, he said, require a “considerable change to the business model.”

Heaven forfend we mess with the business model.

Collins, solo

May 21, 2016

In “Meet Deadeye Donald” Ms. Collins says we should beware Trumps bearing arms.  Here she is:

Donald Trump has a permit to carry a gun.

“Nobody knows that,” he told a gathering of the National Rifle Association on Friday. Well actually, it’s pretty hard to not know since he brings it up all the time.

“Boy, would I surprise somebody if they hit Trump,” he told the audience. People, have we ever had a president who spoke about himself in the third person? Something to consider. But more important, what would that surprise entail? Was Trump trying to say that he’d quickly draw his concealed weapon and take the gunman out of circulation?

“If I wasn’t — if I wasn’t surrounded by, like the largest group of Secret Service people,” he began, and it did sound as if we were about to get a description of his shooting prowess. But then Trump veered off to demand a standing ovation for police officers and never did get back to the original point.

Chances are he couldn’t hit the side of a barn. (If he could, don’t you think we’d have been forced to watch videos of Trump taking that barn out of commission?) Last summer, an NBC interviewer asked if he ever used his weapon on, say, gun ranges. Trump replied that it was “none of your business.”

This is a more important matter than just the ability to make fun of Donald Trump for bragging, although that’s pretty enjoyable. The entire mythology of the N.R.A. and its supporters is based on the idea that if a person is armed, he or she will be capable of shooting accurately. That the big problem is lack of gun availability, not gun owners who are sloppy, inept and occasionally psychotic.

If we required that anyone who wants to buy a gun first demonstrate the ability to hit a target, sales would plummet overnight.

In his speech, which came after he received the N.R.A.’s enthusiastic endorsement, Trump bragged about his sons’ marksmanship. “They have so many rifles and so many guns, sometimes I even get a little bit concerned,” he said, to rather uncertain laughter from the audience — the N.R.A. theory is that you cannot possibly have too many guns. But give credit to Donald Jr. and Eric — they apparently spend a lot of time practicing. We are not going to revisit the day they killed the elephant.

The myth of the masses of skillful shooters is also central to Trump’s much-repeated claim that terrorists would be deterred if they thought they were going to run into an armed citizenry. He’s described the way ISIS gunmen in Paris would have been undone if people at the Bataclan theater had been able to get up and start firing back — an image that presumes Europeans bearing arms would have the capacity to stand up in a dark, hysterical auditorium and take out the villains without mowing down the rest of the audience.

“I can tell you that if I had been in the Bataclan or in the cafes, I would have opened fire,” Trump told a French magazine. “I may have been killed, but I would have drawn.”

More likely, he’d have hit the waiter. It’s very, very hard to shoot accurately when you’re scared or under stress. Police officers generally can’t do it. There was an armed security officer at the Columbine shootings, and he couldn’t do it. There was an armed bystander at the shopping center mass shooting that nearly killed Representative Gabby Giffords. He said later he was “very lucky” not to have shot the wrong man.

However, the N.R.A. vision of the world is one where every shot is true. “Americans use guns to defend themselves against violent crime more than a million times a year,” said Trump. This is a fantasy, based on one phone survey conducted in 1992, and frequently debunked.

And nobody in the presidential race wants to prevent law-abiding people from keeping guns in their homes. Certainly not Hillary Clinton, who has been known to brag about her previous hunting triumphs. She’s probably not very proficient now, but she could probably still beat Trump in a shoot-off.

At the N.R.A. gathering, where Clinton was depicted as a near-maniac intent on freeing criminals, confiscating guns and repealing the Second Amendment, Trump claimed that “Heartless Hillary” wants to disarm the nation’s grandmothers, leaving them defenseless against murderers and rapists. He’s had great success tacking unflattering adjectives on his opponents’ names. Since we’re having so much trouble keeping track of his own evolving positions, let’s try referring to the candidate’s prior incarnations as “Previous Donald.”

Previous Donald told TMZ that he was surprised his sons liked hunting and that he himself was “not a believer.” He favored banning assault weapons and expanding the waiting time for gun purchases. Beyond that, the Second Amendment didn’t seem to be a big issue in his pre-campaign life. Except for a snide reference to Republicans who “walk the N.R.A. line and refuse even limited restrictions.”

So Previous.

There isn’t a word that comes out of his piehole that isn’t a bald-faced lie at this point.


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