Archive for the ‘Kristof’ Category

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

October 13, 2016

In “Donald Trump, Unshackled and Unhinged” Mr. Blow says he still has a chance to turn things around, but he’s showing no inclination that he wants to.  Mr. Kristof, in “What Donald Trump Is Right About,” says actions count more than words, and his are heinous.  In “And Now, the Good News Is…” Ms. Collins says we should always look on the bright side of Donald Trump.  Here’s Mr. Blow:’

Donald Trump tweeted this week that his “shackles have been taken off.” The rest of us need to buckle up.

The effects of a 2005 tape on which Trump brags of a history of sexually predatory behavior is still rippling though the Trump campaign and wreaking havoc.

This is a particularly, spectacularly potent scandal, because of the moral clarity of how reprehensible it is.

This is not an issue that you can couch in policy or strategy. This is so very clearly about character. It is unambiguous and lecherous. It is repulsive and rapacious.

And it appears to fit a pattern.

BuzzFeed reported on Wednesday: “Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.”

One of the young contestants told BuzzFeed that when Trump entered the dressing room while she was getting dressed, he “said something like, ‘Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.’”

As Newsweek reported on Sunday:

“Jill Harth, a pageant owner trying to work with Trump in the mid-1990s, filed suit against him in federal court in Manhattan in 1997, describing a ‘relentless’ campaign of sexual harassment and assault including an incident in which he reached under a table, put his hands on her thighs and grabbed her ‘intimate private parts’ during a meeting at a New York restaurant.”

Temple Taggart, Miss Utah 1997, told The Times in May that when she was introduced to Trump, “He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’”

Gross is right.

No one can defend it, but that hasn’t stopped Trump and his supporters from twisting themselves into knots trying to. Trump has repeatedly called it “locker room” talk and suggested that he was lying when he said that he had assaulted women.

Supporters have done everything from deny that what Trump described was indeed assault to saying the tape was made before Trump began his faith journey to attacking Beyoncé lyrics and Hillary Clinton’s admiration of the pop star.

None of that has worked particularly well. Trump’s post-tape polls look absolutely horrendous.

Furthermore, prominent Republicans are fleeing in droves.

According to The Times, more that 160 Republican leaders, most of them members of Congress or governors, have declared that they won’t support Donald Trump. Nearly a third of those fled from Trump in the wake of the lewd tape.

In a statement, John McCain wrote: “Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

The Times reported on Monday, referring to the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan: “Mr. Ryan informed Republican lawmakers on a morning conference call that he would never again campaign for Mr. Trump and would dedicate himself instead to defending the party’s majority in Congress.” Ryan’s spokeswoman followed up with a statement confirming that “the speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities.”

Trump is bleeding badly. But many of us know this from nature: A wounded animal is a dangerous animal. Trump is lashing out like a man with nothing left to lose. If he is going down, he’s threatening to take the entire ecosystem with him.

He’s lashing out at the Republican establishment — especially Ryan and McCain — in a striking and seemingly unprecedented intraparty feud just weeks ahead of the election.

But Trump is also striking out at Clinton and Obama.

Trump threatened this week, “If they want to release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we’ll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things.” He also continues to threaten to investigate Clinton and lock her up, and seemed to return to the absurd assertion that Obama founded the Islamic State.

None of this seems like an effective strategy to broaden his base and actually win in November. This feels like Trump having a temper tantrum. This feels like a campaign in its death throes.

Trump had some good weeks when he was following a disciplined strategy of reading speeches from a teleprompter and effectively deceiving some into believing that he was not in fact the man who he has, over the course of his life, revealed himself to be.

Apparently, that deception was a set of shackles. In other words, it was a lie.

This is true Trump: mean, erratic, abrasive and pathological.

Trump still has a chance to turn things around, but as of now he’s showing no inclination that he wants to. As disturbing as the idea of a foreign government trying to interfere with our elections is, the content of leaked emails from the Clinton campaign could be far more damaging to her in the hands of a more competent opposition.

But Trump isn’t a competent opponent. He’s a maladroit savage spiraling out of control.

And next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Astonishingly, Donald Trump is right about something!

After recently being caught on a 2005 tape gloating about sexual assaults, Trump issued an unapologetic apology in which he focused on the “big difference” between words and actions. And he has a point.

But there’s abundant evidence that Trump has indulged in not just scurrilous rhetoric, but also in heinous actions. Several more women have stepped forward to offer on-the-record accounts of having been aggressively groped or kissed by Trump against their will, right after he met them.

I also find entirely credible the allegations of Jill Harth, a former business partner of Trump’s, that he assaulted her in 1992 and 1993. Equally credible is the assertion by a former Miss Utah that Trump inappropriately kissed beauty contestants on the lips.

Some Republicans have demanded laws to ban transgender women from entering women’s restrooms or locker rooms, but instead they might focus on the risk of Trump doing this. He has boasted that he marched unannounced into changing rooms to ogle beauty pageant contestants naked, and a former contestant, Miss Arizona, Tasha Dixon, said he did just that as they were changing into bikinis. “Some girls were topless,” she said. “Other girls were naked.”

The pageant theme that year? Empowering women.

There’s more. In Trump’s 2005 tape, he referred in vulgar ways to a married woman, Nancy O’Dell, he had unsuccessfully pursued, but what’s less known is that in 2007 he reportedly tried to have her fired from hosting the Miss USA Pageant. Why? Because she was pregnant.

Of course, as Trump acknowledged, words matter as well. On my blog, I posted an essay by a survivor of a home invasion and rape, Michelle Bowdler, who recounted that her attacker had said he wanted “some pussy” — and the moment he used that word, she felt that her life was in danger, that she “existed only as a thing.”

What is dehumanizing is not necessarily dirty words as such, but rather the casual braggadocio by men that normalizes assault. One study of 16,000 comments on a website for fraternity men found that the most common body part mentioned was “ass,” followed by “tits.” Men posting on the site were 25 times as likely to refer to a woman’s “ass” as to her “smile.”

There’s some evidence that hearing sexist language may be linked to greater tolerance of rape. And we already have a national problem with sexual harassment: One large survey found that almost one-quarter of American women said they had been groped in public spaces.

So I’m delighted that at least one person, Billy Bush, is paying in a concrete way for the words in the Trump tape. Maybe this can be a wake-up call for us men to appreciate that sexist epithets are no more acceptable than racist epithets.

All that said, Trump is right to emphasize the importance of actions more than words: If we’re outraged by vulgar words, shouldn’t we be even more appalled by predatory actions? And policies? Here the truth is that a Trump administration’s policies might be less titillating than his words, but they would be far more dangerous.

Every year, 550,000 women in America require medical attention after an assault by a boyfriend or husband. That’s an issue that is belatedly being addressed through screenings under Obamacare, which Trump wants to repeal, and by the Violence Against Women Act, which a large bloc of Republicans opposed in Congress. Trump’s concern about such assaults seems dubious, and in fact both he and his campaign C.E.O., Steve Bannon, have been accused of domestic violence themselves.

Since he never held public office, Trump lacks a voting record. But his running mate has tended to look at what might help women and do the opposite, including voting against equal-pay legislation.

Mike Pence also signed a bizarre anti-abortion bill as Indiana’s governor requiring burial or cremation even of tissue from an early miscarriage. That led women to form a Facebook group, Periods for Pence, and announce their periods, just in case they might be miscarriages.

At a time when 11 women a day die of cervical cancer, Trump and Pence have also been stalwart opponents of women’s health programs that provide cancer screenings. They are motivated partly by hostility toward Planned Parenthood over abortions, but Pence, while a congressman, also sponsored legislation to defund Title X, the main federal family planning program. It does not pay for abortions but does help screen more than 750,000 women for cervical cancer a year.

New York magazine once quoted Trump as telling a friend about women, “you have to treat ‘em like——” well, manure. But to me, his language pales beside his behavior and likely policies. So let’s try to pivot from outrage at gross words to condemnation of unconscionable behavior and policies. On that sole point, that actions matter more than words, Trump is exactly, frighteningly right.

And now we get to Ms. Collins:

We’ve already learned so much this election year. Besides the importance of not bragging about girl-grabbing when there’s a microphone pinned to your lapel.

For instance, boring people have never looked better. This is a seldom-defended subset of the American population, but after a year or so of the exciting Donald Trump, we have a new appreciation. Right now, many voters may be looking at their local congressman — a person they would change lines at the grocery store in order to avoid having to engage in conversation — and thinking, “Wow, Fred may be a snooze, but when you think about it, there are so many worse possibilities.”

Can you imagine how deliriously happy the Republican Party would be if Trump woke up one morning feeling boring? But no, he’s still bounding from one rally to the next, attacking members of his own party and demanding that Hillary Clinton go to jail. The new WikiLeaks from her campaign, he thundered on Wednesday, “make more clear than ever … how unattractive and dishonest our country has become.”

Unattractive? Is there no entity this man doesn’t judge in terms of physical appearance? Do you think Trump secretly believes America has gained weight? Had an unsuccessful breast enhancement?

The WikiLeaks, so far, have just underlined how blessedly boring Clinton’s campaign has been — it turns out that her talking points sometimes include instructions on when to smile, and that some of her major tweets have been the work of up to four aides. Deep in their hearts, most Americans know that’s way better than having a president who wakes up at 3 a.m. and just starts free associating.

Another important lesson of 2016: There are a lot of things worse than political correctness. Trump brags constantly about his own freedom from that particular defect, and some of his followers feel liberated to attend the rallies wearing signs or shirts that call Hillary Clinton every conceivable vulgarity.

During the last debate, a sad-looking Muslim woman asked how she could deal with “the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country. …” Trump replied, “You’re right about Islamophobia and that’s a shame,” without any particular tone of sympathy. “But,” he continued, “one thing we have to do is, we have to make sure that, because there is a problem. I mean, whether we like it or not and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.”

Not often you can avoid political correctness in a way that mangles so many sentences. Trump then veered off into a complaint about how neighbors of the San Bernardino shooters noticed a whole ton of armaments at the family home but failed to say anything about it, presumably because they didn’t want to look anti-Muslim. We could point out that this is a make-believe story, totally unsupported by fact. Except that it would sound so darned you-know-what.

On the plus side, the campaign’s recent unpleasantness has provided a wonderful opportunity to randomly torture irritating Republican officeholders. Ted Cruz — who insulted Trump by failing to endorse him at the convention, then panicked and gave him a nod just before the trash-talk tape went public — must be having the worst week of his political life. Which certainly is a mood raiser.

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, whose longstanding flirtation with the birther movement led him once to aver that there were enough votes in the House to impeach President Obama, fell into a rabbit hole this week while he was defending his Trump endorsement on MSNBC. Anchor Chris Hayes prodded, asking whether he’d feel the same if a tape came out with Donald Trump saying, “I really like to rape women. …”

“That would be bad and I would have to consider it,” said Farenthold, who then followed up with a desperate series of Twitter retractions. (“During an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes tonight, I was thrown off by the anchor’s use of a hypothetical question.”) Which then gave Austin political writer Jonathan Tilove a chance to revisit a conversation he had with the congressman about Trump’s appalling attacks on a Mexican-American judge. “He may have crossed the line there, but I don’t agree with everything I say sometimes,” explained Farenthold.

Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, is obsessed with the Republicans who’ve gotten … cold. The candidate himself complains at his rallies that the speaker of the House failed to congratulate him after the last debate. (“So wouldn’t you think that Paul Ryan would call and say, ‘Good going?’”) Attacking members of Congress who’ve dropped off the team, Trump said he “wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole” with people like John McCain. And campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told Chris Matthews that some of the congressmen who’ve complained about Trump’s sex remarks were known for “sticking their tongues down women’s throats uninvited.”

It’s always possible to learn more than you really want to know this season.

Kristof and Collins

October 6, 2016

In “The Blot on Obama’s Legacy” Mr. Kristof wants us to listen to a 7-year-old girl in Syria.  Ms. Collins, in “Who’s Sorry Now? The Country” Ms. Collins says Clinton even leads Trump when it comes to apologies.  Here’s Mr. Kristof:

Our excuse for failing to respond to mass atrocities used to be that we didn’t fully appreciate the horrors until it was too late. “If only we had known,” became one refrain, along with, “Never again!”

In Syria, we are deprived of that excuse: We have a daily window into war crimes. If you’re on Twitter, follow a 7-year-old girl in Aleppo, Bana al-Abed, @alabedbana, who with her mom’s help is tweeting the carnage around her.

One tweet shows a video clip of Bana looking out the window and plugging her ears as bombs drop. “I am very afraid I will die tonight,” she worried in imperfect English. “This bombs will kill me now.”

“This is my friend house bombed,” Bana tweeted with a photo. “She’s killed. I miss her so much.”

Her mother, Fatemah, an English teacher who has been teaching Bana English for several years, chimes in as well.

“Sleeping as you can hear the bombs fall,” Fatemah tweeted. “I will tweet tomorrow if we are alive.”

I interviewed Fatemah and Bana by email, which they access on a cellphone that they recharge with a solar panel. Bana’s school was destroyed by a bomb last year, and Fatemah said that they were surviving on pasta and rice that were now running out.

“Bana is very weak,” her mom told me.

Russia and Syria appear to be deliberately targeting civilians like Bana.The aim seems to be to bomb and starve civilians into exhaustion and submission, so that they flee or no longer support the opposition, or else support extremists regarded as better fighters. That would bolster the Syrian government narrative that the opposition consists of terrorists who must be fought.

For those of us who generally admire President Obama as a man of principle, it is wrenching to watch his paralysis. As I see it, Syria has been his worst mistake, a huge blot on his legacy.

We can’t be sure that more robust strategies advocated by Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus, John Kerry and others would have succeeded, but Obama’s approach has manifestly failed — and after five years, it should be time to reconsider strategy.

Some of you are thinking: This is horrific, but what can the West possibly do? In a previous column, I quoted a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright, about the “many things we can be doing now” in Syria. Charles Lister, author of a recent book on Syria, has written a detailed nine-page plan of action for the U.S. I’ve suggested cratering Syrian military runways with missiles fired from Turkey so that Syrian military aircraft can’t take off (Turkish officials have told me that they would go along with this).

Of course, we shouldn’t dispatch ground troops. But if we had cratered Syrian runways several years ago, as many suggested, the horrors of barrel bombing would have been reduced.

One sign that curbing Syrian bombing is feasible is that we’re already doing it. In August, the U.S. quietly imposed a de facto no-fly zone over parts of northern Syria where American advisers are located. I’m wary of military adventurism and opposed the Iraq war and the surge in Afghanistan, but I also note that in places from Kosovo to Kurdistan the military toolbox has saved lives. Obama himself conducted a military intervention on Mount Sinjar on the Iraq-Syria border that saved the lives of thousands of Yazidi.

The Syrian government has shown that it doesn’t respond to moral appeals but to credible threats of military force. In 2013, when Obama looked as if he might order airstrikes, Syria hurriedly agreed to give up chemical weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry has pleaded with the White House for more aggressive military measures precisely to make a cease-fire more achievable; instead, Obama undercut his secretary of state and denied him leverage.

As a senator, Obama used to complain to me and others that President George W. Bush was too passive about atrocities in Darfur. “I am strongly supportive of us doing what it takes to stop the slaughter that is taking place, and I think that no-fly zones have to be part of that formula,” Obama told me in 2006. He should listen to himself.

Look, cratering runways may not work. It’s easy for those of us on the sidelines to agitate; everything is always more complex than it seems. Except when it’s simpler: Bill Clinton says that his biggest foreign policy mistake was not stopping the Rwanda genocide.

Let’s have this discussion, and also acknowledge the risks of remaining passive. So far, Obama’s paralysis has been linked to the loss of perhapshalf a million lives in Syria, the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State, genocide against the Yazidi and Christians, the worst refugee crisis in more than 60 years and the rise of ultranationalist groups in Europe. Aleppo may fall, and lives like Bana’s hang in the balance.

If we don’t act after half a million deaths, will we after one million? After two million? When?

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally exhausted by the public’s obsession with the vice-presidential debate. Everywhere I go, people are babbling about Mike Pence and Tim Kaine! Who knew it would be so electric? The world can’t stop talking about Veep Vitriol.

O.K., I made that up. I’m sorry. Nobody is talking about the vice-presidential debate at all. This was really just a sneaky way to introduce the subject of apologies.

It came up in the debate, during an argument over who had the most “insult-driven campaign.” Pence saw an opening to mention that Hillary Clinton had once described half of Donald Trump’s followers as a racist, sexist, homophobic “basket of deplorables.” Kaine retorted that at least Clinton had apologized.

Which is true. Clinton said she regretted being “grossly generalistic, and that’s never a good idea.” It would have worked if she had not prefaced her original “deplorables” remark — made at a private fund-raising event — with, “To just be grossly generalistic …”

You can’t say you’re sorry for something you admitted was wrong when you were saying it. Clinton needs new material. A truly sincere apology would probably have been something along the lines of: “I deeply regret having said something at an off-the-record fund-raiser that I wouldn’t want taped and broadcast to the world. You’d think everybody would have learned that lesson by now.”

Still, certainly not the worst apology of the era. That might have been the time a radical rebel group in Syria put up a statement expressing regret for having beheaded the wrong person.

Also, possibly former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose’s ongoing attempt to apologize for his seamy past by selling balls on which he’d written “I’m sorry I bet on baseball” for $300 and up.

(Cincinnati still has a downtown street called Pete Rose Way, which illustrates the importance of not naming major pieces of infrastructure after people who are still alive. I always found it amusing until I ran across New York’s Donald J. Trump State Park.)

But about apologies: Other rules include not blaming the problem on the hearer (“I’m sorry if you guys were offended”). And not using your apology to repeat the original infraction. Perhaps you remember the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who apologized for making racist statements about Magic Johnson in an interview during which he told Anderson Cooper “some of the African-Americans, they don’t want to help anybody.”

We need a president who will know just the right thing to say if our drones accidentally hit somebody’s presidential palace, or the new ambassador to France gets drunk and demands to know why Parisians aren’t friendly. Clinton’s own apology record is mixed, although lately her comments on the emails have been sounding less like expressions of regret for having been caught.

On this point, like so very many in the current campaign, Clinton’s failings tend to vanish when compared with the behavior of her opponent. If you’re having an argument about who does an apology better, it’s not much of a contest when one of the two parties doesn’t seem to ever admit he was wrong about anything.

A Trumpian apology would be the thing he did recently in Washington, when he retracted years of birtherism by blurting out “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” Then trying to claim he had done the president a favor by pushing the matter so hard. Then blaming the whole thing on Hillary at the end of a promo for his new hotel.

People, we are being deprived of our God-given right to complain about both presidential candidates. Every time someone comes up with a Hillary flaw, someone else will do a comparison. Yeah, while Clinton was secretary of state the Clinton Foundation took money from foreign bigwigs to help fund its work with impoverished people overseas. But the other guy spent his charity’s money on a six-foot portrait of himself. Any more questions?

For Trump surrogates like Pence, the best response is to deny the original offense ever occurred. During the debate, Kaine pointed out that Trump had said women who seek an abortion should be punished. Hard to deny, given the fact that he made the comment on MSNBC. But Pence said Trump “would never support legislation” along that line.

And it’s true that hours after the MSNBC taping, the Trump campaign issued a statement saying he only wanted to punish doctors, and adding a comment from The Man himself: “My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.”

We have here the perfect encapsulation of the current Republican presidential campaign:

1) Trump says something very strange.

2) The campaign says he didn’t really say it.

3) Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan.

Pence, cornered by Kaine, finally blurted out, “Look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton.”

Well, that would be one way of putting it.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 29, 2016

In “Trump’s Debate Flameout” Mr. Blow says Clinton ran rings around him as he didn’t even seem prepared to answer the most obvious questions and attacks.  Mr. Kristof, in “That Seventh Grade Bully Is Running for President,” says if his agenda doesn’t stop Donald Trump, maybe his behavior toward women will.  Ms. Collins has a question:  “Who’s Really Older, Trump or Clinton?”  She says it’s a new age for age on the campaign trail.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

No one with an open mind and sound reason who witnessed the sniffing, sipping, scowling, raging, interrupting display of petulance and agitation that was Donald Trump’s debate performance on Monday could possibly argue that he won that debate or that he is the kind of person to whom we should entrust the presidency.

It appears that Trump thought it wise to wing it.

Katie Pavlich wrote Monday on the conservative site Townhall, “Trump didn’t take the conventional road of preparing for the debate and skipped mock debate practice altogether.”

Pavlich quoted the senior Trump campaign adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders as saying:

“Donald Trump does what works best for him, and I think that is discussing the issues, studying the issues and frankly being himself. He’s not a poll-tested, scripted robot like Hillary Clinton. That’s a great contrast to have and one I think we are certainly excited to see tonight.”

Well, the robot won. And she did so because she had the discipline and forethought to properly prepare.

At one point during the debate, Trump said of Clinton:

“And I will tell you, you look at the inner cities — and I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia, and I just — you know, you’ve seen me, I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s O.K.”

But Clinton shot back:

“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

The crowd applauded.

It takes a tremendous ego and a healthy dose of hubris to believe that you can simply bluster your way through a presidential debate, but if anyone thinks that way, it’s no surprise it’s the uniquely underqualified and overblown king of bragging and whining: Donald J. Trump.

In the end, Clinton ran rings around him as he didn’t even seem prepared to answer the most obvious questions and attacks.

Clinton brought up a well-known issue in Trump’s life:

“Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy.”

Trump’s response was not that they hadn’t discriminated, but rather that “many, many other companies throughout the country” were also sued, that the suit was settled “with no admission of guilt” and that “it’s just one of those things.”

No, Donald, racial discrimination isn’t “just one of those things.”

When the moderator, Lester Holt, asked the candidates how they would heal the racial divide in America, Trump’s response was so tone deaf as to defy belief.

Whereas Clinton spoke of the restoration of trust between the police and communities, better police training, mutual respect, criminal justice reform and systemic racism, Trump took a different route. He invoked his euphemistic lament that the country needs more “law and order,” which is simply code for flooding poor and minority communities with more officers and giving them a nod of approval to crack down on these communities more harshly.

He gushed over the morally abhorrent and thoroughly unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practice used in New York City and he praised Rudy Giuliani’s use of it when Giuliani was mayor of New York. That doesn’t heal racial wounds; it rubs salt in them.

What the public should know is just how racially divisive Giuliani’s own law and order policies were. In 2000, toward the end of his mayoral tenure and when he was still in the race for United States senator for New York against Clinton, three undercover New York City police officers approached Patrick M. Dorismond, an unarmed, 26-year-old black father of two and asked to buy drugs. This made Dorismond angry, just as it would have made me angry. The incident escalated into a scuffle and one of the officers shot and killed Dorismond.

The New York Times reported at the time, “Deputy Chief Thomas Fahey, a police spokesman, acknowledged that the police ‘have no indication’ that Mr. Dorismond knew” that they were police officers.

The maleficent Giuliani took the extraordinary step of releasing Dorismond’s sealed juvenile records to show that the dead man who became upset over being propositioned for drugs was “no altar boy.” In truth it was just another attempt to blame and defame the victim.

But, as The Nation pointed out, the great irony was that “Dorismond had actually been an altar boy. He had even attended the same elite Catholic high school as the Mayor — Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn.”

As The New York Daily News reported in 2000 about a poll released that year:

“The Quinnipiac College survey showed the mayor’s popularity has fallen since the March 16 shooting of unarmed Patrick Dorismond in an NYPD drug operation gone awry. In a stinging rebuke, only 16 percent of New Yorkers approve of Giuliani’s handling of the shooting.”

The paper reported further:

“Race relations, highlighted by the Dorismond shooting, remain a dominant factor in city politics. The poll found 45 percent of voters, including 37 percent of white voters, believe race relations in the city are deteriorating. But the Quinnipiac survey suggested a deeper unrest with the mayor, going beyond the Dorismond controversy.”

The paper continued:

“More than 70 percent think he has flubbed race relations. And most blacks and Hispanics frown on his anti-crime policies.”

And this is a man Trump is praising for racial healing and law and order?

Then Clinton slammed Trump’s treatment of a beauty pageant contestant; his claims sounded not only like misogynist fat shaming, but also blatant bigotry. Clinton said:

“And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.”

Clinton continued, “Her name is Alicia Machado.”

Trump’s response was not to deny the charge or to decry the language, but to resurrect his old hostility with Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie O’Donnell? That’s when you know the man is grasping at straws.

Trump completely bombed in that debate and it’s his own fault. His staggering arrogance and breathtaking incompetence were laid bare, as he had no prepared remarks from which to read and no gaggle of other candidates behind whom he could hide.

He stood there, combative but hardly cogent, revealing to the whole country and the world that the man who promises to lift America from the ashes is himself going down in flames.

From your lips to God’s ear, Mr. Blow.  Now here’s Mr. Kristof:

Donald Trump displayed an excellent version of the stern squint in the presidential debate. Many of us men are familiar with this expression, because we practice it at age 13 in the hope that it will impress girls. It doesn’t, and we grow out of it — most of us, anyway.

Hillary Clinton wears a patient smile, the expression of every woman who has calmly suppressed irritation while being harangued by a boor on topics he knows nothing about. Sadly, women never have the opportunity to retire this expression because it is constantly needed, or so my wife tells me.

What is thrilling is that Trump’s boorishness may be catching up to him.

Trump has advocated policies that are confused or senseless — deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants en masse, banning Muslims from entering the country, undermining NATO, slashing taxes on billionaires while raising them on single parents, capitulating to Russia on Crimea — yet these don’t get him into deep political trouble. Instead, his vulnerability seems to be something more elemental: He’s a jerk.

In particular, he’s a jerk toward women — a tendency he displayed prominently during Monday’s debate. Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times, by Vox’s count (she interrupted him 17 times).

Trump seems oblivious to his own loutishness. When Clinton called him out for labeling women pigs, slobs and dogs, he defended himself by saying that Rosie O’Donnell “deserves it.” When Clinton reproached Trump for having degraded a Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, over her weight, Trump obligingly went on Fox News to demonize Machado again for gaining “a massive amount of weight.”

This crassness is nothing new from Trump, of course. Few comments could be more demeaning than one Trump offered in 2005 when Howard Stern asked him if he would stand by his wife, Melania, if she were in a horrible car accident and left with 100 stitches on her face, an oozing sore on her left eye, and a mangled foot. Trump’s first, automatic response? “How do the breasts look?” (Afterward, he did say that he would stick with her.)

Something about Trump is paradigmatic of the most atrocious kind of seventh-grade boy: The boasts about not doing homework, the habit of blaming others when things go wrong, the penchant for exaggerating everything into the best ever, the braggadocio to mask insecurity about size of hands or genitals, the biting put-downs of others, the laziness, the self-absorption, the narcissism, the lack of empathy — and the immaturity that reduces a woman to her breasts.

O.K., now I’ve just insulted 13-year-old boys by comparing them to the man who may become our next president. Sorry, kids, most of you are far better than that!

Trump is puerile not only where gender is concerned. He also seems to boast about what he can get away with, such as not paying taxes.

When Clinton noted in the debate that for at least a couple of years he paid no federal income tax at all, Trump responded, “That makes me smart!” He seems to think that people who pay taxes are chumps — which is irritating for all of us who do pay taxes and would love to glimpse his returns.

One of the most effective commercials against Trump highlights his callousness, as he makes fun of a disabled journalist. The mother of a disabled child says, “The children at Grace’s school all know never to mock her, and so for an adult to mock someone with a disability is shocking.”

Another powerful commercial depicts girls studying themselves in a mirror as Trump is heard mocking women for their looks. Text on the screen asks: “Is this the president we want for our daughters?”

Of course, even if Trump acts like a middle-school boy, his policies would be those of a dangerous adult — and I wish the debate were more focused on those substantive proposals. Trump’s comments may be brutal, but his policies would be infinitely more so.

If only his troglodyte views on gender could be a springboard to discuss women’s issues that rarely get explored, such as domestic violence that strikes one woman in four, or human trafficking, channeling some 10,000 underage Americans into the sex trade each year. One advantage of more women in public life should be more scrutiny of pay gaps, and greater attention to the need for high-quality day care.

Yet if Trump’s Achilles’ heel proves to be not his oafish policies but rather his churlish manner, so be it. There are important policy reasons to reel at the thought of Trump in the White House, but voters perhaps flinch even more at his personal conduct: We already run into enough jerks in daily life, so why would we want one as our head of state?

Middle school is the wrenching, jungle stage of life that we all must struggle through. Why would we subject ourselves to a “leader” who is permanently in the seventh grade?

And lastly here’s Ms. Collins:

Strange we haven’t been talking more about age.

Hillary Clinton is 68, and that’s old for a first-term presidential candidate in this country. The one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that we’d hear about it every day were it not for the fact that Donald Trump is 70.

Still, Trump seems to be finding ways to get at it. Asked during the debate about his comment that Clinton doesn’t have “a presidential look,” Trump rejoined: “She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.”

I believe he’s suggesting a question about stamina. Andrew Scharlach, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in aging issues, heard “a code for ‘She’s old! She’s a woman! You know how old women are.’”

Newcomers to the current presidential campaign might have wondered why Trump would consider going in that direction at all, considering he was born first. The answer is that the Republican presidential nominee believes he is always an exception. This is the guy who, at the same debate, both complained about America’s deteriorating infrastructure and bragged that he was too smart to pay taxes.

Experts on the subject seem to believe that age is not something we need to fret about, and given the fact that we’re currently juggling everything from Trump being really mean to a Latina beauty queen to the possibility of his starting a nuclear war, I think we should follow their advice.

“Unless we’re going to worry if they could catch something dropping off the table, I don’t think it’d be a problem,” said Steven Austad, the scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research. “In fact, it might be an advantage.”

Still, this provides an excellent opportunity to look back in history and discuss the campaign of William Henry Harrison. Please. Just for a second. We haven’t given William Henry nearly enough attention this election cycle.

When he ran in 1840, Harrison’s opponents made a big deal about the fact that he was 67. (“A living mass of ruined matter.”) Given that the life expectancy at the time was around 40, you can see how there’d be suggestions that he’d already overstayed his welcome.

Harrison, in response, issued a doctor’s report. It did not include extensive test results, given that there were not yet any tests. But the author still sounded far more reliable than the physician who concluded that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Harrison’s doctor just said, “Bodily vigor is as good as that of most men his age.”

But then Harrison delivered an inaugural address that went on for one hour and 45 minutes in a cold rain, got sick and died. If Donald Trump wins in November, the one thing we won’t have to worry about is his duplicating Harrison’s performance. No, Trump might talk endlessly, but he would do it from a comfy, heated plexiglass bubble while the peons stand shivering in front of him.

Feel free to argue that when it comes to age issues, women have it tougher. In 1964, when Margaret Chase Smith ran at 66 for the Republican nomination, a Los Angeles Times columnist decreed that 45-to-55 was the optimum range for a presidential candidate. Unfortunately, he added, that was the time when “the female of the species undergoes physical changes and emotional distress.” Ah, memories.

As life expectancy is getting a lot longer and people are healthier, researchers are rethinking the whole definition of old. “Seventy is the new 50. That’s not just a cliché. It really is a reasonable statement these days,” said Austad.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, a research organization with the worst name in the world, published a study that pushed the line back, too. “When your life expectancy is 15 years and less, then you get counted as old,” said Warren Sanderson, a professor at Stony Brook University who worked on the project. Using the most recent data available, Sanderson said that Trump, at 70, would have 14.6 years of life expectancy and Clinton, at 68, would have 18.3.

So by that new, expansive definition, there’s only one elderly candidate in this race, and his name is Donald.

It’s not clear that Trump knows how old he is — he told an interviewer that when he looks in the mirror he sees “a person who is 35 years old.”

Clinton doesn’t seem to have that problem. Back in 2008, when she was wrapping up her presidential campaign, we had a conversation in which she told me, suddenly, that her happiest days on the trail were the ones when I was covering her. This sounded stupendously flattering until she added, “It was the only time there was somebody my age on the plane.”

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 15, 2016

In “Trump’s ‘Deplorable’ Deflections” Mr. Blow says his entire campaign is engaged in an elaborate ruse — accusing his opponent of the very things of which he is guilty.  Mr. Blow, that’s typical Republican behavior — it’s all projection all the time.  Mr. Kristof ponders “When a Crackpot Runs for President” and says journalistic efforts at fairness may risk normalizing Donald Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is.  But, but, but…  It’s a horse race, and both sides do it…  Ms. Collins has a question:  “Trump Talks, but Can He Tango?”  She says maybe he’ll end up on “Dancing With the Stars,” which seems to be a place to find redemption.  Well, I wonder if even DWTS would stoop that low.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

In August 2015, The New York Daily News published an exclusive report on a 1991 letter that Donald Trump wrote to the chairman of the State Assembly’s Committee on Cities, complaining about disabled veterans vending their wares on Fifth Avenue, home of Trump Tower in Manhattan.

A New York State law dating from 1894 “allowed disabled veterans to work as sidewalk peddlers in New York City regardless of municipal rules,” as The New York Times wrote in 1991.

But Trump was not empathetic to these wounded warriors’ plight, at least not on Fifth Avenue. He saw them and their vending as an eyesore.

The Daily Beast published its own report on Trump’s efforts to get the veterans booted from this tony part of Manhattan, quoting Trump’s letter as reading:

“While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its taxpaying citizens and businesses?”

He continued, according to The Daily Beast, “Do we allow Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s finest and most luxurious shopping districts, to be turned into an outdoor flea market, clogging and seriously downgrading the area?”

The Daily Beast said that Trump renewed his calls in a 2004 letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, writing, “Whether they are veterans or not, they [the vendors] should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street.”

And in that letter, what did Trump call the situation with the injured veterans simply trying to make a living vending on his Fifth Avenue?

That’s right: “very deplorable.”

This should come as no surprise from a man who belittled the heroism of Senator John McCain, himself a wounded warrior, or who attacked a Gold Star family whose son was killed in Iraq.

But it does point to the staggering, unabashed hypocrisy of the man and the degree to which his entire campaign is engaged in an elaborate ruse of deflection — accusing his opponent of the very things of which he is guilty.

So please spare me your faux outrage about Hillary Clinton’s accurate comments that many of the people supporting Trump are deplorable. Your emperor has no clothes.

That’s why it’s so outlandish to have Trump — a man who seems to have never apologized for anything! — demanding an apology from Hillary Clinton for calling his supporters “deplorable” when he has called the situation of a class of the most honorable Americans, those who put their bodies on the line for our freedoms, “deplorable.”

This is by no means confined to the “deplorable” issue.

Trump has called Clinton “a world-class liar,” but there is no bigger liar than Trump himself — just look at PolitiFact. The man is pathological.

Trump attacks Clinton for a lack of transparency, but this is the same man who has yet to release his tax returns, something every major party nominee in modern American politics has done. And he is telling a flat-out lie about why he can’t do it.

Trump calls Clinton “crooked,” but this is the same man who — along with his businesses — has been sued more than 1,300 times.

This is the same man who is at this moment the subject of three class-action lawsuits over the sham that was Trump University — two cases in California and one in New York.

Trump calls the Clinton Foundation the “most corrupt enterprise in political history,” but this is a man who donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

This is a man whose own foundation, the Trump Foundation, has recently been accused in news reports of breaking the law by being used essentially as a political slush fund.

In fact, the New York attorney general has opened an inquiry into the Trump Foundation and its operations following those news reports.

Trump clearly understands that in politics, it is far better to be on offense than defense, but his offense is ultimately offensive because he is pointing out a perceived — or even concocted — flaw in another person to distract from the very same flaw in himself.

You might call the strategy masterly if it were not also maleficent, if the future of the country were not on the line, and if this country’s standing in the world were not on the line.

It cannot be said often or loudly enough: Donald Trump is the worst kind of person who brings out the worst in other people. His sinister sleight of hand is that he attempts to make those who call out his nefariousness the purveyors of enmity.

I see straight through that smoke and those mirrors and right to the darkness at the center. It cannot run. It cannot disguise itself. This light will shine on it until it withers.

From your lips to God’s ear, Mr. Blow.  Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

One of the mental traps that we all fall into, journalists included, is to perceive politics through narratives.

President Gerald Ford had been a star football player, yet somehow we in the media developed a narrative of him as a klutz — so that every time he stumbled, a clip was on the evening news. Likewise, we in the media wrongly portrayed President Jimmy Carter as a bumbling lightweight, even as he tackled the toughest challenges, from recognizing China to returning the Panama Canal.

Then in 2000, we painted Al Gore as inauthentic and having a penchant for self-aggrandizing exaggerations, and the most memorable element of the presidential debates that year became not George W. Bush’s misstatements but Gore’s dramatic sighs.

I bring up this checkered track record because I wonder if once again our collective reporting isn’t fueling misperceptions.

A CNN/ORC poll this month found that by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was “more honest and trustworthy” than Hillary Clinton. Let’s be frank: This public perception is completely at odds with all evidence.

On the PolitiFact website, 13 percent of Clinton’s statements that were checked were rated “false” or “pants on fire,” compared with 53 percent of Trump’s. Conversely, half of Clinton’s are rated “true” or “mostly true” compared to 15 percent of Trump statements.

Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump.

I’m not sure that journalism bears responsibility, but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?

President Obama weighed in this week, saying that “we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.”

I’m wary of grand conclusions about false equivalence from 30,000 feet. But at the grass roots of a campaign, I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.

There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax, who has called for barring Muslims and who has said that he will build a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it.

We owe it to our readers to signal when we’re writing about a crackpot. Even if he’s a presidential candidate. No, especially when he’s a presidential candidate.

There frankly has been a degree of unreality to some of the campaign discussion: Partly because Hillary Clinton’s narrative is one of a slippery, dishonest candidate, the discussion disproportionately revolves around that theme. Yes, Clinton has been disingenuous and legalistic in her explanations of emails. Meanwhile, Trump is a mythomaniac who appears to have systematically cheated customers of Trump University.

Clinton’s finances are a minefield, which we know because she has released 39 years of tax returns; Trump would be the first major party nominee since Gerald Ford not to release his tax return (even Ford released a tax summary). And every serious analyst knows that Trump is telling a whopper when he gleefully promises to build a $25 billion wall that Mexico will pay for.

Then there’s the question of foundations. Yes, Clinton created conflicts of interest with the family foundation and didn’t fully disclose donors as promised. But the Trump Foundation flat out broke the law by making a political contribution.

It’s also worth avoiding moral equivalence about the work of the two foundations: The Clinton Foundation saves lives around the world from AIDS and malnutrition, while the Trump Foundation used its resources to buy — yes! — a large painting of Trump, as a gift for Trump (that may violate I.R.S. rules as well).

The latest dust-up has been health care. Neither candidate has been very open about health, but Clinton has produced much more detailed medical records than Trump, and an actuarial firm told The Washington Post Fact Checker that Clinton has a 5.9 percent chance of dying by the end of a second term in office, while Trump would have a 8.4 percent chance.

So I wonder if journalistic efforts at fairness don’t risk normalizing Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is. Historically we in the news media have sometimes fallen into the traps of glib narratives or false equivalencies, and we should try hard to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

We should be guard dogs, not lap dogs, and when the public sees Trump as more honest than Clinton, something has gone wrong.

For my part, I’ve never met a national politician as ill informed, as deceptive, as evasive and as vacuous as Trump. He’s not normal. And somehow that is what our barks need to convey.

Well, Nick, it’s now most likely a situation of “way too little, and WAAAY to late.”  But perhaps you could have a wee chat with TPTB at the Times about their coverage…  And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Thoughts while watching Rick Perry do the cha-cha on “Dancing With the Stars”:

“My name is Rick Perry and I’m the governor of the great state of Texas. I am — I’m not the governor of the great state of Texas. That’s not right. I’m the former governor,” he said in a taped introduction.

Yes! It was definitely Rick Perry. The man who gave the nation the “oops” presidential debate was back, dancing on a map of Texas, to a song about Texas, which was sung by the group Little Texas. There was a theme there somewhere.

Do you think Barack Obama was watching? The president hasn’t mentioned “Dancing With the Stars” recently. But he’s been beseeching the country not to confuse low-rent entertainment with high-end politics. “We cannot afford suddenly to treat this like a reality TV show,” he said this week while campaigning for the ailing Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump responds to requests for the release of his medical records by taping an episode of “The Dr. Oz Show.”

Trump is, of course, the ultimate example of reality TV as a political version of the circle of life. Does anyone believe that he’d be the Republican presidential nominee if he hadn’t put in all those years on “Celebrity Apprentice”? In days of yore politicians made their TV mark on “Meet the Press.” Soon, they’re going to be announcing their candidacy for the U.S. Senate on “Big Brother.”

And maybe, if we’re very, very lucky, we’ll hear in another few years that Donald Trump, former presidential candidate, will be doing a clog dance on next season’s “America’s Got Talent.” Or cooking tacos on “Top Chef.” Or demonstrating how he can circle the globe in “The Amazing Race” while still flying home every night to sleep in his own bed.

Perry says he’s dancing on TV as a way to draw attention to veterans’ issues. Right now it’s sort of stylish to pin everything on the poor vets. Remember when Trump dodged a primary debate by announcing he needed the time to raise money for needy ex-servicemen and women?

The one gold star Hillary Clinton deserves this week is for not claiming that her near-faint at the 9/11 ceremony was the result of thinking about our armed forces overseas.

“Dancing With the Stars” has great potential as a kind of high-ratings hostel for failed officeholders. Perry isn’t the first to try to use it as a way to elbow back into the public eye. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — of Texas! — was on the show in 2009, and few people who tuned in will ever forget his choreographic interpretation of “Wild Thing.” Sadly, he was forced to drop out of the competition with a stress fracture to the foot, and returned to the more traditional political retirement occupations of lobbying and beating a money-laundering indictment.

DeLay did seem to feel he got a kind of redemption from the show. “When I walk through airports today, more people recognize me from ‘Dancing With the Stars’ than being the former majority leader,” he said.

This is undoubtedly true. Ex-politicians who do commercials for home equity loans probably also get more attention in airports than they did when they were in office. Nobody could possibly be surprised that DeLay got more celebrity from waltzing in an outfit lined with leopard skin than he did from running the House of Representatives.

The great attraction of reality TV is its message of redemption. Everybody gets a second/third/fourth chance. You might be voted off the island today, but there’s going to be a twist during the sweeps ratings period, and whoever can eat the most boiled otter in three minutes will be back in the game.

A great many contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” seem to be washed-up child actors in search of a comeback. Also, there’s Ryan Lochte, the semi-disgraced Olympic swimmer, whose dancing debut was marred when two men rushed him onstage, apparently still irritated about that incident with the Brazilian police. Lochte said his feelings were hurt, but he will definitely return to fox trot again.

Perry began his performance with a trip to an onstage corn-dog stand — probably a tribute to the Iowa State Fair, where he was mobbed in 2011 as the Republican primary front-runner and totally ignored when he tried to do it again last year. Still, he looked extremely cheerful. A cynic might say he was the most charming ex-governor ever to have vetoed a bill that would have ended the death penalty for the mentally retarded.

However, he scored last during the initial round. First he loses to Donald Trump. Then he comes in behind Vanilla Ice. Well, there’s always next week.

And the week after — where do you think he’ll show up next? The prospects for the 2020 primary season are pretty dim. Rodeo? Professional poker? I hear there’s a Toe Wrestling Championship.

Does he bake?  There’s always “Cupcake Wars” for him to consider…

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 8, 2016

Mr. Blow says “Donald Trump Is Lying in Plain Sight” and that the media applies an entertainment standard to the Republican candidate.  Mr. Kristof, in “The Black Eyes in Donald Trump’s Life,” says over his seven decades he’s left a trail of victims.  In “Trump and Clinton Take Up Arms” Ms. Collins says Donald successfully spoke in full sentences but may be confused about his plan for veterans’ health, and Hillary went into wonk mode.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

It has generally been my experience that when people pepper their speech with the phrase “believe me,” they are not to be believed.

The default position among people of honor — the silent agreement between speaker and listener — is one of truth and trust.

But Donald Trump is not a person of honor.

Presidents lie. Politicians lie. People lie. But Trump lies with a ferocious abandon.

For instance, the fact-checking website PolitiFact found that of the statements by Hillary Clinton that it checked, 22 percent were completely “true” and another 28 percent were “mostly true.”

But Trump is another animal. There is no true equivalency between Trump and Clinton, or between Trump and any other politician, for that matter. Only 4 percent of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checkedwere rated as completely “true” and only another 11 percent were even rated as “mostly true.” Seventy percent of Trump’s statements that the site checked were rated as “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” the site’s worse rating.

The truth shifts beneath Trump like sand. He has no regard for the firmness of fact. For him, fact is as pliant as that Play-Doh he handed out to flood victims in Louisiana.

Indeed, PoltiFact named Trump’s collective “campaign misstatements” the 2015 Lie of the Year, writing:

“It’s the trope on Trump: He’s authentic, a straight-talker, less scripted than traditional politicians. That’s because Donald Trump doesn’t let facts slow him down. Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy he has followed for years.”

The site quotes from Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” in which he says, “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

In fact, Tony Schwartz was the ghostwriter for that book and in July he blasted Trump in an interview in The New Yorker:

“Schwartz says of Trump, ‘He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.’ Since most people are ‘constrained by the truth,’ Trump’s indifference to it ‘gave him a strange advantage.’”

When introducing a series about “the scale and depth of Donald Trump’s lies,” the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, put it this way:

“Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, does not so much struggle with the truth as strangle it altogether. He lies to avoid. He lies to inflame. He lies to promote and to preen. Sometimes he seems to lie just for the hell of it. He traffics in conspiracy theories that he cannot possibly believe and in grotesque promises that he cannot possibly fulfill. When found out, he changes the subject — or lies larger.”

And yet in polls like the CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday, Trump leads Clinton on the issue of being honest and trustworthy by 15 percentage points. (I should point out that some have raised questions about the methodology of that poll.)

I believe that this is in large part because we, an irresponsible media, have built a false equivalency in which the choice between Clinton and Trump seems to have equally bad implications, because we have framed it as a choice between a liar and a lunatic.

But this obscures the fact that the lunatic is also a pathological liar of a kind and quality that we have not seen in recent presidential politics and perhaps ever.

Trump is in a category all his own.

Part of the reason for Clinton’s problems is that she is being held to a traditional level of honesty and integrity, as she should be.

But Trump is being held to a wholly different, more flexible standard. When he takes a different position over years or months or days or even hours, that is not simply an innocent evolution, but a flat-out lie.

He alters his positions on a whim, depending on the audience, but the truth is steadfast. It will not accept convenient alteration.

Perhaps even more troubling is that he is prone to making up his own set of false facts. He wildly exaggerated the number of immigrants in this country illegally and “inner city”crime rates. He said President Obama founded ISIS and that “the Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.” He said, “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed.

Lies one and all, but that’s just a sampling.

This is not an honest man. This is not a trustworthy man. The fact that people believe he’s honest is a result of a failed media that aims its sincerest critique at Clinton’s deficiencies with the truth, but applies an entertainment standard to Trump that corrects falsehoods but doesn’t castigate him for them.

There is no reasonable explanation or salable excuse for the media’s behavior this presidential cycle. History will look back at this period and it will not be kind to the Fourth Estate. We will all have to one day ask ourselves, “Where was I on Trump and the truth?” Far too many of us will be found wanting.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Once upon a time, in New York City in the 1950s, a little boy didn’t like his second-grade music teacher, Charles Walker. So, the boy later boasted, he slugged Mr. Walker, giving him a black eye.

“When that kid was 10,” Walker recalled on his death bed, “even then, he was a ——” Oops, gentle reader, time to move on hurriedly with the life story of Donald J. Trump.

Young Donald took on a newspaper route to learn the value of money, but this was not “Leave It to Beaver”: On rainy days, Donald avoided getting wet by delivering papers while being squired around in the family Cadillac.

There are now more than 20 books out about Trump, and while I can’t claim to have read them all — I am not a masochist! — I have waded through his life story so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome! As a reader service, here are highlights.

Donald attended the New York Military Academy, where he thrived despite a regrettable attempt to throw a smaller student out a second-floor window (this comes from one of the best of the biographies, the brand-new “Trump Revealed,” by a team from The Washington Post).

Enough of Trump’s youth; now let’s hurtle through his business career. After graduating from Wharton, Trump joined his dad’s real estate business and, er, worked his way up: At about the age of 25, he was named president of Trump Management.

Unfortunately, the Trumps seemed to have a policy in some properties of not renting to blacks. “I’m not allowed to rent” to black families, a Trump building superintendent reportedly explained at the time, adding that he was just doing “what my boss told me to do.”

If a black person did make it as far as filling out an application, it was coded — in some cases, “C” for “colored” — to make sure it was not accidentally approved. The Nixon administration sued the Trumps in 1973 for breaking anti-discrimination laws.

Something similar happened with Donald Trump’s pageants. He began with the American Dream Calendar Girl Model Search, but that led to a lawsuit from a woman who said that Trump had groped her and restrained her in his daughter’s bedroom. The lawsuit also alleged that Trump had directed that “any black female contestants be excluded” from his parties. Trump denied the claims.

Back in the world of real estate, Trump had moved into Manhattan. In 1980, preparing to build Trump Tower, he demolished a department store using hundreds of undocumented Polish workers who were paid less than $5 an hour, sometimes in vodka. Some weren’t paid at all and were threatened with deportation if they complained.

In subsequent litigation, Trump blamed the subcontractor. The judge said that Trump’s aide was on site and that Trump himself should have known.

Ultimately, Trump Tower was a financial success, but the same was not true of Trump’s venture into casinos. Anyone who had invested in his only public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, when it listed in 1995 would have lost about 90 cents on the dollar by 2005.

Trump as a candidate has, of course, refused to release his taxes returns. But many years ago he was obliged to release them for casino regulatory filings — and at that time he paid no federal income tax at all. Because of tax loopholes, he managed to report zero income (actually losses!) for both 1978 and 1979.

Do I risk losing you with finances? Time to throw in some sex, with a look now at Trump’s family life.

Melania Trump says that her husband “is intensely loyal … he will never let you down.” Then again, she’s his third wife.

His first was Ivana Trump, and he then began a dalliance with Marla Maples, culminating in a dramatic made-for-the-tabloids confrontation between the two women while they were all skiing in Aspen. The resulting divorce negotiations were bitter, with Ivana alleging in a deposition that Trump had raped her; she later backed off that.

Trump then married Maples. She in turn gave way to Melania, who may well have arrived in the States illegally (Melania Trump denies this but hasn’t furnished a convincing explanation for her immigration).

So what does all this add up to?

Whether in his youth, in his business career or in his personal life, Trump’s story is that of a shallow egoist who uses those around him.

Even as a child, he personified privilege and entitlement. In business, he proved a genius at marketing himself but grew his fortune more slowly than if he had put his wealth in a stock index fund. He made a mess of his personal life and has been repeatedly accused of racism, of cheating people, of lying, of stiffing charities.

His life is a vacuum of principle, and he never seems to have stood up for anything larger than himself.

Over seven decades, there’s one continuous theme to his life story: This is a narcissist who has no core. The lights are on, but no one’s home.

And now we get to Ms. Collins:

On Wednesday, Donald Trump explained how good he was going to be at dealing with world leaders by pointing to the great job he did at his recent meeting south of the border: “Look at the aftermath today where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That’s how well we did.”

Trump and international affairs is an end-of-the-summer horror thriller. At the big presidential candidates’ forum in New York, he bragged about the two high points in his diplomatic history — the firing of the official whose idea it was to invite him to Mexico and his bromance with Vladimir Putin. (“Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters. …”)

The forum, on the Intrepid aircraft carrier before an audience of veterans, was a kind of remote warfare — back-to-back question-and-answer sessions. They really did seem to be held in two different worlds. Hillary Clinton defended her work on the Iran nuclear deal and the intervention in Libya, while Trump explained why he was keeping his plan for defeating ISIS secret. (“I have a substantial chance of winning. If I win, I don’t want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.”)

There weren’t many questions on actual veterans’ issues, which was a shame, since talking about veterans brings out a lot of interesting behavior in politicians.

It’s partly guilt. Most candidates for high office are grateful to veterans for their service, and a little uneasy if they didn’t serve themselves. That second part is not true of Trump, who stressed — during his fight with the parents of the slain military hero — that he had made “a lot of sacrifices” for his country. Pressed on the nature of said sacrifices, he mentioned something about real estate development. He also once revealed that he felt as if he’d had experience in the service due to his years at a military high school.

Clinton has on occasion told a story about having gone to a Marine recruiting office when she was 26 or 27, and being rejected as too old to sign up. It’s a strange anecdote. However, there is no sign that Clinton went away feeling she had just made a lot of sacrifices for her country.

But about the forum. The biggest current veterans’ issue — health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs — came up only briefly. Trump urged people to check out the plan on his website, which is actually different from the plan he described on stage. Clinton happily dived into her wonk mode. (“I’ve met so many vets who get mustered out, who leave the service, they can’t find their records from D.O.D., and those records never make it to the V.A.”)

Listen to her in these situations and you realize that this is a woman who has been to town hall meetings with virtually every single group of Americans who have a problem.

To summarize their V.A. health plans really quickly, Clinton wants to fix the current system while Trump — or at least website Trump — wants to give the nine million V.A. health clients cards that will allow them to go to any doctor or hospital that treats Medicare patients.

The Trump plan is a solution much beloved on the right, although it could very well cost a ton of additional money. At which point, President Trump could hold a big fund-raiser to make up the difference, just the way he did for veterans during the primary campaign. The proceeds from which he will actually distribute once the media nags him about it for three or four months.

Just kidding.

Each candidate had less than half an hour onstage Wednesday night, but Clinton managed to point out twice that she had been in the room for the plan to kill Osama bin Laden. It was not a perfect evening for her, given that it began with a long series of questions from host Matt Lauer about her emails.

Trump, on the other hand, was first asked what experiences he had that prepared him to be commander in chief.

“The main thing is I have great judgment,” he explained, going on to tell Lauer that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning, which he wasn’t. Asked about his temperament, he pointed out how great things went on that visit to Mexico.

At times, Trump seemed to be exceeding expectations, just by speaking in complete sentences. (We have got to start raising the bar on this guy.) Then a veteran in the audience asked him about sexual assault in the military, and Lauer reminded Trump that he had once twittered, “What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”

“Well,” Trump answered, “it is. … It is a correct tweet. There are many people that think that that’s absolutely correct.” He babbled on, trying to save himself, but it was really way too late.

Blow and Kristof

September 1, 2016

In “The Duplicity of Donald Trump” Mr. Blow says he is not only a bully, but also something of a coward, who lacks the force of his convictions — or who lacks basic convictions at all.  Mr. Kristof, in “Pariahs for Donald Trump,” says ISIS jihadists, North Korea and the K.K.K. agree on a candidate.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump is the internet troll of presidential politics. When he’s securely removed from the objects of his scorn, he’s tough as nails; when he’s in their presence, he quivers like a bowl of Jell-O.

Such is the way of a bully.

Furthermore, when he is surrounded by supporters who cheer his base nature, he amplifies the enmity. When the applause of hostility is out of earshot, he tones down his vitriol to a whimper.

He is not only a bully, it seems to me, but also something of a coward, who lacks the force of his convictions — or who lacks basic convictions at all. He seems to be simply playing to the audience, whatever that audience may be. He’s amenable to the mood of any particular room.

This is the most frightening type of man, whose basic character is vile but not inviolable, who springs from darkness and bends toward anything that casts light, even if that light is, as the internet loves to say, a dumpster fire.

Case in point: Trump has spent the whole of his campaign maligning Mexican immigrants, people of “Mexican heritage” and the country of Mexico itself.

The Hillary Clinton campaign was quick to remind voters of the horrid things Trump has tweeted about Mexico and Mexicans, and the list was a doozy.

They included calling the Mexican government “totally corrupt” and the Mexican court system “dishonest” and saying that “Mexico is not our friend” and ”I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off U.S.”

Indeed, one of Trump’s main focuses has been the wall — which he has insisted from the beginning that he would make Mexico pay for — and a “deportation force” to round up and deport all of the approximately 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally.

These are the Mexican immigrants who Trump initially described this way: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

And yet, when he made the quick decision to visit Mexico Wednesday and meet with that country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump was much more contrite in his comments. Indeed, for most of the subsequent news conference, Trump looked lost and confused.

As Trump put it:

“I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican-Americans not only in terms of friendships, but in terms of the tremendous numbers that I employ in the United States and they are amazing people, amazing people. I have many friends, so many friends and so many friends coming to Mexico and in Mexico. I am proud to say how many people I employ. And the United States first, second and third generation Mexicans are just beyond reproach. Spectacular, spectacular hard-working people. I have such great respect for them and their strong values of family, faith and community.”

Huh? Who is this guy? Of course, this time he was reading a speech. This is no doubt some soft-pedal written by his aides to make him sound more human and less monstrous.

Kellyanne Conway, you are one of the best ventriloquists in politics, the way you put words in this man’s mouth. But I’m not buying it. You can repackage your bigot if you choose, but the basic contours of the man betray your efforts to remake him. And, your support and promotion of him makes you one of the most dangerous, though soft-spoken, people in America at this moment.

According to Trump, he didn’t even discuss with Peña Nieto that he would demand that Mexico pay for the Southern border wall. But Peña Nieto disputed that account, tweeting in Spanish: “At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.” If you believe Peña Nieto, Trump, the self-proclaimed tough negotiator, not only choked but openly lied about choking.

And this is the supposedly brassy billionaire people support because he’s tough and tells it like it is? Trump is a paper tiger if ever there was one.

And then, a few hours later in Arizona, at what was billed as a major policy speech on his now muddled stance on immigration, and before his jeering acolytes, he gave a speech full of fear, about murderous immigrants, and reiterated that he would build a southern border wall and, you guessed it, Mexico would pay for it.

Trump was back to his hate. He was back to his hyperbolic histrionics.

This is what every voter must remember: Trump has two faces and two sets of facts and too much latitude to spread his animus, anti-intellectualism and lies, and he must never see the inside of the Oval Office.

And now here’s Mr. Kristof:

To read newspapers like this one, you might think that almost nobody has endorsed Donald Trump. Ah, but maybe that’s because The Times is, as Trump puts it, “totally dishonest,” “failing” and “a disgusting fraud.”

In truth, Trump has actually attracted a broad range of endorsements that perhaps haven’t received adequate attention.

For example, from terrorists.

“I ask Allah to deliver America to Trump,” a supporter of the Islamic State declared recently in an Arabic-language posting. Foreign Affairs quotes jihadists explaining that Trump would say and do such crazy things that he would end up helping extremist groups.

“He must be smoking bad hashish to say such crazy things,” one jihadist added. Supporters of ISIS say they hope Trump would cause the United States to self-destruct, and that is why, as one put it, “Trump’s arrival in the White House must be a priority for jihadists at any cost!”

Of course, Trump has been endorsed not only by terrorists, but also by nation states. “Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician,” a columnist wrote in a North Korean propaganda magazine, DPRK Today.

The magazine approved of Trump’s threats to withdraw U.S. military forces from South Korea and noted, “Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this?”

Then there’s Russia, which seems to be not only backing Trump but also perhaps releasing stolen emails to hurt the Democrats. There are also concerns that Russia will meddle with voting systems or leak other stolen materials — or fake ones — to try to influence the election.

Likewise, many Chinese leaders would like to see a Trump victory, according to Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution. The Chinese leaders apparently think Trump would manage allies and American foreign policy poorly, thus reducing American influence and creating space for China.

That’s quite a list of influential backers — ISIS supporters, North Korea, Russia and China. And it’s matched at home by an array of strong endorsements that also, perhaps, don’t receive adequate attention.

“Donald Trump would be best for the job,” said the imperial wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.”

Likewise, Trump has the backing not only of the Republican Party but also of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist organization. “Donald Trump’s campaign may help remind Americans that all genocide, even against white people, is evil,” said Bob Whitaker, who until spring was the American Freedom Party’s presidential candidate, running with the campaign slogan, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.”

The American Nazi Party’s position is a bit more complicated. Rocky Suhayda, the party chairman, has predicted that Trump will win and that this will provide “a real opportunity for people like white nationalists.” But, apparently worried that Nazi support for Trump might be counterproductive, he denied reports that on his radio show he had actually endorsed Trump.

“Recently, the jews-media gave the Party international coverage over our last ANP radio show, where they ‘claimed’ that I ‘endorsed’ Donald Trump, in another effort to ‘SMEAR’ the man,” Suhayda wrote on the Nazi Party website. “It was a typical kosher BIG LIE, as exposed and explained in Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf — whereas they ‘CLAIM’ that Mr. Evil Nazi (me) has embraced Donald Trump for President, hence Mr. Trump and myself are joined at the hip, being clones of Little Hitlerites.”

So maybe Trump doesn’t have the Nazi endorsement sewn up after all.

He does have the backing of other prominent figures. Among them: Martin Shkreli, who as C.E.O. of Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a lifesaving drug by more than 5,000 percent; Milo Yiannopoulos, recently banned from Twitter for leading internet trolls on a misogynist and racist campaign against Leslie Jones, the comedian and actress; and Alex Jones, the talk show host who has said that the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked and that no children were actually injured in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The Washington Post published an early non-endorsement editorial, stating that Trump constitutes a “unique and present danger” to America, but Trump has won some publication endorsements — such as one from The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website, and one from The National Enquirer.

O.K., O.K., it’s also true that Trump has support of tens of millions of Americans, including (sometimes grudgingly) leading Republicans, like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and John McCain. Yet one element that makes this election stunning is how many prominent Republicans have refused to endorse their nominee, while some have denounced him as a “madman” and “bigot” who has no more “core principles than a Kardashian marriage.”

But perhaps what’s even more illuminating is the crowd that is endorsing Trump.

Kristof, solo

August 25, 2016

In “Anne Frank Today Is a Syrian Girl” Mr. Kristof says indifference and paranoia are shaping America’s immigration policy, as they did during World War II.  Here he is, writing from Amsterdam:

On April 30, 1941, a Jewish man here in Amsterdam wrote a desperate letter to an American friend, pleading for help emigrating to the United States.

“U.S.A. is the only country we could go to,” he wrote. “It is for the sake of the children mainly.”

A volunteer found that plea for help in 2005 when she was sorting oldWorld War II refugee files in New York City. It looked like countless other files, until she saw the children’s names.

“Oh my God,” she said, “this is the Anne Frank file.” Along with the letter were many others by Otto Frank, frantically seeking help to flee Nazi persecution and obtain a visa to America, Britain or Cuba — but getting nowhere because of global indifference to Jewish refugees.

We all know that the Frank children were murdered by the Nazis, but what is less known is the way Anne’s fate was sealed by a callous fear of refugees, among the world’s most desperate people.

Sound familiar?

President Obama vowed to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees — a tiny number, just one-fifth of 1 percent of the total — and Hillary Clinton suggested taking more. Donald Trump has repeatedly excoriated them for a willingness to welcome Syrians and has called for barring Muslims. Fears of terrorism have left Muslim refugees toxic in the West, and almost no one wants them any more than anyone wanted a German-Dutch teenager named Anne.

“No one takes their family into hiding in the heart of an occupied city unless they are out of options,” notes Mattie J. Bekink, a consultant at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. “No one takes their child on a flimsy boat to cross the Mediterranean unless they are desperate.”

The son of a World War II refugee myself, I’ve been researching the anti-refugee hysteria of the 1930s and ’40s. As Bekink suggests, the parallels to today are striking.

For the Frank family, a new life in America seemed feasible. Anne had studied English shorthand, and her father spoke English, had lived on West 71st Street in Manhattan, and had been a longtime friend of Nathan Straus Jr., an official in the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

The obstacle was an American wariness toward refugees that outweighed sympathy. After the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews, a poll found that 94 percent of Americans disapproved of Nazi treatment of Jews, but 72 percent still objected to admitting large numbers of Jews.

The reasons for the opposition then were the same as they are for rejecting Syrians or Hondurans today: We can’t afford it, we should look after Americans first, we can’t accept everybody, they’ll take American jobs, they’re dangerous and different.

“The United States, if it continues to be the world’s asylum and poorhouse, would soon wreck its present economic life,” the New York Chamber of Commerce warned in 1934.

Some readers are objecting: But Jews weren’t a threat the way Syrian refugees are! In the 1930s and ’40s, though, a world war was underway and Jews were widely seen as potential Communists or even Nazis. There were widespread fears that Germany would infiltrate the U.S. with spies and saboteurs under the cover that they were Jewish refugees.

“When the safety of the country is imperiled, it seems fully justifiable to resolve any possible doubts in favor of the country, rather than in favor of the aliens,” the State Department instructed in 1941. The New York Times in 1938 quoted the granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant warning about “so-called Jewish refugees” and hinting that they were Communists “coming to this country to join the ranks of those who hate our institutions and want to overthrow them.”

News organizations didn’t do enough to humanize refugees and instead, tragically, helped spread xenophobia. The Times published a front-page article about the risks of Jews becoming Nazi spies, and The Washington Post published an editorial thanking the State Department for keeping out Nazis posing as refugees.

In this political environment, officials and politicians lost all humanity.

“Let Europe take care of its own,” argued Senator Robert Reynolds, a North Carolina Democrat who also denounced Jews. Representative Stephen Pace, a Georgia Democrat, went a step further, introducing legislation calling for the deportation of “every alien in the United States.”

A State Department official, Breckinridge Long, systematically tightened rules on Jewish refugees. In this climate, Otto Frank was unable to get visas for his family members, who were victims in part of American paranoia, demagogy and indifference.

History rhymes. As I’ve periodically argued, President Obama’s reluctance to do more to try to end the slaughter in Syria casts a shadow on his legacy, and there’s simply no excuse for the world’s collective failure to ensure that Syrian refugee children in neighboring countries at least get schooling.

Today, to our shame, Anne Frank is a Syrian girl.

Blow and Kristof

August 18, 2016

Mr. Blow, in “Why Blacks Loathe Trump,” says he has sowed racial animosity through his entire career. And now he’s courting the African-American vote?  Mr. Kristof asks “But What if My Dog Had Been a Syrian?” and says readers had different reactions to two reasons he is grieving.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

So now Donald Trump is campaigning for the black vote. (Long, awkward pause.)

Like so much of what Trump has said and done, this new outreach forces writers like me to conduct scatological studies, framing Trump’s actions in their historical and intellectual absurdity.

But, here we go.

Trump, who got a shocking 1 percent of support among black voters in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, has been urged to reach out to black voters.

A day after The New York Times published an article pointing out that “the Republican nominee has not held a single event aimed at black voters in their communities, shunning the traditional stops at African-American churches, historically black colleges and barber shops and salons that have long been staples of the presidential campaign trail,” Trump ventured to a suburban town outside Milwaukee that is 95 percent white and 1 percent black to tell the black population of America — a population that has been consumed in recent years by a discussion of police misconduct and extrajudicial killings — that “the problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police.”

The speech was tone deaf, facile and nonsensical, much like the man who delivered it.

Then within hours of making that speech, Trump shook up his campaign in part by naming Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the campaign’s chief executive.

This is the same Breitbart that the Southern Poverty Law Center referred to in an April “Hatewatch” report:

“Over the past year however, the outlet has undergone a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas — all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’”

The report continued:

“The Alt-Right is a loose set of far-right ideologies at the core of which is a belief that “white identity” is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states.”

How are you reaching out to the black community when you step on your own message with such an insulting hire?

All of black America is looking askance at Donald Trump. He has no credibility with black people, other than the handful of black staffers and surrogates who routinely embarrass themselves in their blind obsequiousness.

Trump has demonstrated through a lifetime of words and actions that he is no friend of the black community.

Donald Trump is 70 years old. Surely there should be copious examples from those many years of an egalitarian spirit, of outreach to African-American communities, of taking a stand for social justice, right? Right?!

In fact, Trump’s life demonstrates the opposite. He erupted like a rash onto the public consciousness on the front page of The New York Times in 1973 because he and his father were being sued for anti-black bias at their rental property.

This is the same man who took out full-page ads blaring the headline “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” in New York City newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers made up of four African-American boys and one Hispanic boy, who were accused and convicted of raping a white female jogger in the park. A judge later overturned the convictions in the flimsy cases and in 2014 the Five settled a wrongful conviction suit with the city for $41 million.

This is the same man who is quoted in the 1991 book “Trumped!: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” as saying:

“I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

The book was co-written by John O’Donnell, who was previously chief operating officer at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

Trump is the same man who stepped into presidential politics by becoming the embodiment of the Birther movement, relentlessly demanding to see President Obama’s birth certificate.

This is the same man at whose rallies African-Americans have been verbally and physically assaulted.

Even Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump viciously attacked for his “Mexican heritage,” is a prominent member of one of the historically African-American fraternities and sororities, known together as “The Divine Nine.” In the black community, these groups serve as well-respected service organizations with active lifetime engagement and prominent members like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and Michael Jordan. In the black community, this attack by Trump did not go unnoticed, and it did not go over well.

(Full disclosure: Judge Curiel and I are members of the same fraternity— Kappa Alpha Psi.)

This is the same man who has scandalously maligned Muslims, apparently not realizing that it’s estimated that approximately one-fourth of the 3.3 million Muslims in this country are African-American. Indeed, the Muslim faith has deep roots in the black community because many Africans brought to this country as slaves were Muslims. The signs are everywhere. For instance, I spent my earliest years in the rural community of Kiblah, Ark., an area homesteaded by former slaves following the Emancipation Proclamation. Kiblah is derived from the word “ka’aba,” the cube structure at the center of the mosque in Mecca.

Trump is the same man who repeatedly and falsely insisted that Barack Obama was the founder of the terror group the Islamic State. He then tried to weasel out of the backlash by incredulously claiming that he was being sarcastic.

This is the same man who has refused to reach out to black people in any way, including rejecting offers to speak before the N.A.A.C.P., the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Urban League. (Hillary Clinton spoke before all three.)

Donald Trump is the paragon of racial, ethnic and religious hostility. He is the hobgoblin of retrograde racial hegemony.

And this is the man who now wants to court the black vote? Puh-leese …

Now here’s Mr. Kristof:

Last Thursday, our beloved family dog, Katie, died at the age of 12. She was a gentle giant who respectfully deferred even to any mite-size puppy with a prior claim to a bone. Katie might have won the Nobel Peace Prize if not for her weakness for squirrels.

I mourned Katie’s passing on social media and received a torrent of touching condolences, easing my ache at the loss of a member of the family. Yet on the same day that Katie died, I published a column calling for greater international efforts to end Syria’s suffering and civil war, which has claimed perhaps 470,000 lives so far. That column led to a different torrent of comments, many laced with a harsh indifference: Why should we help them?

These mingled on my Twitter feed: heartfelt sympathy for an American dog who expired of old age, and what felt to me like callousness toward millions of Syrian children facing starvation or bombing. If only, I thought, we valued kids in Aleppo as much as we did our terriers!

For five years the world has been largely paralyzed as President Bashar al-Assad has massacred his people, nurturing in turn the rise of ISIS and what the U.S. government calls genocide by ISIS. That’s why I argued in my column a week ago that President Obama’s passivity on Syria was his worst mistake, a shadow over his legacy.

The column sparked passionate disagreement from readers, so let me engage your arguments.

“There is nothing in our constitution that says we are to be the savior of the world from all the crazies out there,” a reader in St. Louis noted. “I cannot see any good in wasting a trillion dollars trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again. Bleeding hearts often cause more harm than good.”

I agree that we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t try to solve any. Would it have been wrong during the Holocaust to try to bomb the gas chambers at Auschwitz? Was President Bill Clinton wrong to intervene in Kosovo to avert potential genocide there? For that matter, was President Obama wrong two years ago when he ordered airstrikes near Mount Sinjar on the Iraq-Syria border, apparently averting genocidal massacres of Yazidi there?

Agreed, we shouldn’t dispatch ground forces to Syria or invest a trillion dollars. But why not, as many suggest, fire missiles from outside Syria to crater military runways and ground the Syrian Air Force?

A reader from Delaware commented, “I hear ya, Nicholas, but so far every Middle East venture has not turned out good for the world.” Likewise, a reader in Minnesota argued, “Surely the George W. Bush experience taught us something.”

Let me push back. I opposed the Iraq war, but to me the public seems to have absorbed the wrong lesson — that military intervention never works, rather than the more complex lesson that it is a blunt and expensive tool with a very mixed record.

Yes, the Iraq war was a disaster, but the no-fly zone in northern Iraq after the first gulf war was a huge success. Vietnam was a monumental catastrophe, but the British intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000 was a spectacular success. Afghanistan remains a mess, but airstrikes helped end genocide in the Balkans. U.S. support for Saudi bombing in Yemen is counterproductive, but Bill Clinton has said that his worst foreign policy mistake was not halting the Rwandan genocide.

And even if we eschew the military toolbox, what excuse do we have for not trying harder to give Syrian refugee children an education in neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon? Depriving refugee kids of an education lays the groundwork for further tribalism, poverty, enmity and violence.

I grant that cratering runways or establishing a safe zone — even educating refugees — won’t necessarily work as hoped, and Obama is right to be concerned about slippery slopes. Those concerns must be weighed against the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, particularly now that we have asserted that genocide is underway in Syria.

One reason past genocides have been allowed to unfold without outside interference is that there is never a perfect policy tool available to stop the killing. Another is that the victims don’t seem “like us.” They’re Jews or blacks or, in this case, Syrians, so we tune out.

But, in fact, as even dogs know, a human is a human.

I wonder what would happen if Aleppo were full of golden retrievers, if we could see barrel bombs maiming helpless, innocent puppies. Would we still harden our hearts and “otherize” the victims? Would we still say “it’s an Arab problem; let the Arabs solve it”?

Yes, solutions in Syria are hard and uncertain. But I think even Katie in her gentle wisdom would have agreed that not only do all human lives have value, but also that a human’s life is worth every bit as much as a golden retriever’s.

Cohen, Kristof, and Collins

August 11, 2016

In “Olympians in Hijab and Bikini” Mr. Cohen says the West’s image of Islam and the Muslim image of the West are often mutually incommunicable. No area is as sensitive as the treatment of women’s roles, dress and sexuality.  Mr. Kristof, in “Obama’s Worst Mistake,” says yes, there are steps we can take in Syria.  Ms. Collins says “You Choose or You Lose,” and that picking between major party candidates is the only way to effect the race’s outcome.  Here’s Mr. Cohen:

Since I saw a photograph of an Egyptian and a German beach volleyball player confronting each other at the net in Rio, I have been unable to get the image out of my head. Doaa Elghobashy, aged 19, wears a hijab, long sleeves and black leggings to her ankles. Kira Walkenhorst, 25, is in a dark blue bikini. The outstretched hands of the Olympian women almost meet, the ball between them.

The photo, by Lucy Nicholson of Reuters, juxtaposes two women, two beliefs and two dress codes, brought together by sport. The world confronts less a clash of civilizations than a clash of identities, concertinaed in time and space by technology. The West’s image of Islam and the Muslim image of Western societies are often mutually incommunicable; the incomprehension incubates violence.

No area is as sensitive as that of the treatment of women, women’s roles, women’s sexuality, dress and ambitions. The story is often presented as one of Western emancipation versus Islamic subjugation. That, however, is an inadequate characterization.

What follows are accounts by two women, an Egyptian and an American, of their experiences with the hijab. Chadiedja Buijs is a graduate student in Cairo. Norma Moore is a former actress living in Boulder, Colo., who recently visited Iran, where the rules obliged her to adopt Islamic dress codes.

Chadiedja Buijs:

My parents — Egyptian mother, Dutch father — separated when I was four, and I grew up in the Netherlands. My mom doesn’t wear a head scarf and when I began to at the age of 19, five years ago, she said, “What the hell are you doing? I left my country so that you could be free and this is what freedom did?”

I had a lot of issues with myself, with my spiritual needs and my state of being. I was very hardworking, very controlling. I began to feel that as a religious person I needed to realize that some things are bigger than me. I started with prayer. I stopped drinking. I began fasting. I’d been so obsessed with material things. After a while I became convinced that it would be good if I could wear the head scarf out of devotion and humility, as a sign of giving up some of my control. It worked.

Our Prophet says faith is like the ocean. Sometimes the waves are high, sometimes low. Sometimes I am shaky in my faith, sometimes very strong.

The hijab is a matter of representation. I know the person I am and the ideas I have. But the person in front of me sees only the exterior. With the tension in Europe, things are worse. In a Dutch village, in a café full of rich white people, a man tore my veil off. It was shocking but not as frustrating as some of the looks and comments, the job rejections (“You do not fit the image of our store”).

After the attacks in France, my mother said, “Please take your veil off.” It is my choice to wear it. I will die with it on. That is my right. Nobody will take it away.

But balance is important. There is this life and the afterlife. Sometimes you need to think about your spirituality. Sometimes you need to adapt. In the West, now, I may wear tighter jeans, or have my neck showing, or use short sleeves. Here in Egypt I may wear maxi-skirts, long and wide. They do not look great. They make me fat. But, hey, that’s the point! My family here is quite conservative.

There is very little religious literacy in secular Western countries. And there is a crisis within Islam, over what it means to be a Muslim. As Muslims we have to acknowledge the problem. ISIS controls what Islam looks like in Iraq and Syria — religious symbolism, flags, statements and verses. This is real. We cannot deny it. But we create extremism by talking about Islam only through this prism. The head scarf becomes a fetish.

Elghobashy is wearing leggings in the photo. I think she represents people like me. International-minded, young, modern Muslims who want to go out and study and work and play. We need different images of Islam.

I got different responses from men when I chose to wear a head scarf rather than a short skirt. It created a kind of distance. But I still have my sexuality in my own hands. I can be very flirtatious, go out and meet a man — but I decide in what mode I want to be. I can be focused on my spirituality, prayers and study without distraction, or I can have a period when I choose to be sexy even in a head scarf through how I act or speak. I feel I have more power and independence vis-à-vis men now.

Norma Moore:

I am a deeply religious person. I don’t have a label to attach to my faith, but it is there nonetheless at the core of my being. I believe that God created me and created me with love as I am — just as God creates every other person. When I put on the hijab in Iran and the shapeless tunics I experience an attempt to deny how I have been made — an attempt to neutralize me.

It has made me afraid. I started this trip almost completely covered by my hijab. Before coming I practiced with the help of an internet video so that no trace of hair or neck or calf would show and make me vulnerable to stares or the humiliation of being chastised. I had come here voluntarily and accepted the terms of admission, so I began the trip in a willing state of submission.

But then the weather got hot — very hot. I got overheated and all I could think about was tearing this hijab off. I felt suffocated. I thought how I wouldn’t let an animal suffocate like this. If my animal were covered like this and suffering I would tear the fabric off out of simple decency.

My hair, the curves in my body, were given to me by God. To cover my head and wear shapeless clothes feels like I am pretending not to be a woman and that somehow I am responsible for keeping men’s sexuality within social bounds.

I just can’t wrap my head around God making me responsible for men’s sexuality.

The Olympics volleyball photograph is tantalizing. The few inches between the women’s hands may as well be a chasm. More than once I have heard Iranian imams, with preposterous certainty, equate flimsy women’s attire in the West with decadence and prostitution. To Western sensibilities, the covered Muslim woman must de facto be the disempowered woman awaiting liberation.

Reality is many-shaded. Elghobashy wears an anklet of colored beads. The only colors on Walkenhorst are those of the German flag. Who is to say which of the women is more conservative, more of a feminist or more liberated? We do not know. What we do know is that we need more events that provoke us to ask such questions and discard tired certainties that may be no more than dangerous caricatures.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

A crazed gunman’s attack on an Orlando club in June, killing 49 people, resulted in blanket news coverage and national trauma.

Now imagine that such a massacre unfolds more than five times a day, seven days a week, unceasingly for five years, totaling perhaps 470,000 deaths. That is Syria. Yet even as the Syrian and Russian governments commit war crimes, bombing hospitals and starving civilians, President Obama and the world seem to shrug.

I admire Obama for expanding health care and averting a nuclear crisis with Iran, but allowing Syria’s civil war and suffering to drag on unchallenged has been his worst mistake, casting a shadow over his legacy. It is also a stain on all of us, analogous to the indifference toward Jewish refugees in the 1930s, to the eyes averted from Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s, to Darfur in the 2000s.

This is a crisis that cries out for American leadership, and Obama hasn’t shown enough.

In fairness, Obama is right to be cautious about military involvement, and we don’t know whether the more assertive approaches favored by Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus and many others would have been more effective. But I think Obama and Americans in general are mistaken when they seem to suggest: It’s horrible what’s going on over there, but there’s just nothing we can do.

“There are many things we can be doing now,” James Cartwright, a retired four-star general who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told me. “We can do many things to create security in selected areas, protect and stabilize those safe zones and allow them to rebuild their own country even as the conflict continues in other parts of the country.”

Cartwright, who has been called Obama’s favorite general, acknowledges that his proposal for safe zones carries risks and that the American public should be prepared for a long project, a decade or more. But he warns that the risks of doing nothing in Syria are even greater.

Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, agrees that we can do more, like set up safe zones. She emphasizes that the U.S. should be very careful in using force so as not to make problems worse, but she adds that on balance, “We should be prepared to try and create these humanitarian areas.”

This critique is bipartisan. Kori Schake, director of defense strategy in the George W. Bush White House, says, “Yes, there is something that we can do.” Her recommendation is for safe zones modeled on Operation Provide Comfort, which established the highly successful no-fly-zone in northern Iraq in 1991 after the first Gulf war.

Many experts recommend trying to ground Syria’s Air Force so it can no longer drop barrel bombs on hospitals and civilians. One oft-heard idea is to fire missiles from outside Syria to crater military runways to make them unusable.

One aim of such strategies is to increase the odds of a negotiated end to the war. Obama’s reticence has robbed Secretary of State John Kerry, who is valiantly trying to negotiate a lasting Syrian cease-fire, of leverage. The U.S. was able to get an Iran deal because it held bargaining chips, while in Syria we have relinquished all clout. And Obama’s dithering has had a real cost, for any steps in Syria are far more complex now that Russia is in the war.

Two years ago, Obama faced another daunting challenge: an impending genocide of Yazidi on Mount Sinjar near the Iraq-Syria border. He intervened with airstrikes and may have saved tens of thousands of lives. It was a flash of greatness for which he did not get enough credit — and which he has not repeated.

While caution within Syria is understandable, Obama’s lack of public global leadership in pushing to help its refugees who are swamping Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey is harder to explain. The international appeal for Syrians this year is only 41 percent funded.

“If you care about extremism, you’ve got 200,000 Syrian kids growing up in Lebanon with no education,” notes David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary, now head of the International Rescue Committee.

Perhaps it’s unfair to reproach Obama when other politicians and other countries are also unmoved — and the U.S. has been generous with financial aid — but ultimately the buck stops on Obama’s desk. He will host a summit meeting on refugees next month and I hope will seize that chance to provide the global leadership needed to address the crisis.

I met recently with two brave American doctors who, at great personal risk, used their vacation time to sneak into Aleppo, Syria, to care for children injured by barrel bombs. They described working in a makeshift underground hospital and their quiet fury at the world’s nonchalance.

“Sitting idly by and allowing a government and its allies to systematically and deliberately bomb, torture and starve hundreds of thousands of people to death, that is not the solution,” Dr. Samer Attar, a surgeon from Chicago, told me. “Silence, apathy, indifference and inaction aren’t going to make it go away.”

And last but not least we have Ms. Collins:

If you’re a Republican politician, announcing you’re not going to vote for Donald Trump is a little like declaring that you’re not going to rob a bank to finance your next campaign. Really, you don’t get any credit unless you say what you’re going to do instead.

“I truly don’t know,” said Senator Susan Collins unhelpfully.

Collins made news this week when she penned an op-ed for The Washington Post, announcing that she couldn’t support her party’s nominee because “Mr. Trump’s lack of self-restraint and his barrage of ill-informed comments would make an already perilous world even more so.”

It’s tough being a high-profile Republican these days. People are always demanding to know what you think about your candidate’s latest horrific remark. But unless you come up with an alternative, disavowing a candidate is more like a sulk than a solution.

There’s been a lot of this going around. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, an early evacuee from the Trump train, said he was going to wait until October to deal with the problem. Senator Lindsey Graham said he might “just pass — I may write somebody in.” Mark Kirk, who’s generally regarded as the Senator Most Likely to Be Defeated in November, gave Illinois voters an excellent example of his leadership capacity when he announced that he was going to write in David Petraeus or maybe Colin Powell.

Obviously, all these people are trying to avoid taking responsibility for Donald Trump without being accused of betraying their party. But it’s very strange to hear elected officials embracing various versions of a don’t-vote strategy. Nobody knows better than they do that politics is a world of imperfect choices.

Collins freely admits that she’s worked well with Hillary Clinton in the past. But she ruled out voting for the Democrat, telling CNN that Clinton wanted to spend too much money. (“Promises of free this and free that, that I believe would bankrupt our country.”) Faced with a choice between a guy who could compromise national security and a woman who wants universal early childhood education, the former chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee claimed to be at a loss for an answer.

Here’s the bottom line: There are only three things you can do when it comes time to elect a president. You can stay home and punt; you can choose between the two major party candidates; or you can cop out by doing something that looks like voting but has no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the race.

That includes strategies about writing in the name of a retired general, leaving the top line blank, or voting for a third-party candidate who has as much chance of winning as the YouTube Keyboard Cat.

The only third party that might have a line on all state ballots is the Libertarian, whose platform includes eliminating Social Security, ending gun control and wiping out drug laws. This year’s Libertarian candidate is Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. Johnson does not seem to agree with the platform on many points, but to be honest, he’s not the world’s greatest explainer. Libertarians like the idea of a charisma-free candidate, since he’d be incapable of getting much done.

But truly, this is a silly choice. Voting for Johnson is exactly the same as staying home, except that it involves going outdoors. Ditto for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a doctor who appears to have a rather ambiguous attitude toward childhood vaccinations.

Susan Collins said she could support the Libertarian ticket if only it had been reversed, with vice-presidential candidate William Weld on top. You can’t totally dislike Weld, who once told me that being governor of Massachusetts was pretty much a walk in the park. (“I used to go on vacation for a week at a time and I wouldn’t even call in.”) However, he’s been out of office for nearly 20 years. He is not the presidential candidate. And the Libertarians are never, repeat, never going to be elected.

Right now we live in a world that’s been messed up by the bad decisions George W. Bush made about invading Iraq. He was elected president in 2000 thanks to a few hundred votes in Florida. A state where Green Party candidate Ralph Nader got 97,488 votes.

Most of the Green voters undoubtedly thought they were showing their disdain for both Bush and the deeply imperfect candidacy of Al Gore. And Nader is a man of fine principles. But look where those 97,488 votes got us.

Nader himself doesn’t feel guilty. I talked to him on the phone the other day, and he argued, basically, that if Gore couldn’t win his home state of Tennessee, it’s not Nader’s fault that he couldn’t win Florida.

And he’s not voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in November. “They’re not alike,” he said, “but they’re both terrible.”

Ralph goddam Nader should be stuffed in a barrel with 10 pounds of sharp scrap iron and rolled down a steep hill.

Blow, Kristof and Collins

July 28, 2016

Mr. Blow is “Incandescent With Rage” and says that with the dropped charges in Baltimore, America is edging closer to telling people like him that the eye of justice isn’t blind but jaundiced.  Mr. Kristof wonders “Did Putin Try to Steal an American Election?”  He says the evidence from the hacking of the Democratic committee’s computers points to Russia, and it had reason to favor Trump.  In “Hillary on the March” Ms. Collins is giving a hand to the women who went before the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

No one need ask me anymore about how to heal the racial divide in America. No one need inquire about the path forward beyond racial strife. You will not be put at ease by my response.

James Baldwin once said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Well, I am now incandescent with rage and at my wits’ end about how to responsibly aim it and morally marshal it.

I am at the screaming place.

Following three acquittals of officers in the death of Freddie Gray — which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner! — Baltimore prosecutors on Wednesday dropped all remaining charges against the other officers awaiting trial.

Yet another black man’s body broken without anyone’s being called to account, another soul lingering on the other side of the grave without justice on this side of the living. No officer has been convicted in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and dozens more. Indeed, according to Mapping Police Violence, “only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) resulted in convictions of officers involved.”

What are we to make of this? What are we to take from it?

In other killings — whether they be domestic or inter-community or directed at law enforcement officers — no matter how tragic the circumstances, or perhaps because of the tragedy, the full force of the law is brought to bear, and we can point to a track record of justice, at least to some degree.

But not in these cases.

Into what frame am I supposed to position this to make it palatable? How can I wrap my head around it in a way to make it rational and right?

It is impossible, and indeed unreasonable, to expect me to do so. I deserve to be angry. I deserve to survey the system that thrusts so many officers and black and brown people into contact in the first place, and be disgusted. I deserve to examine the biases that are exposed in officer/citizen encounters, and be disgusted. I deserve to take account of an utterly racially biased criminal justice system, and be disgusted.

America’s streets are filled with cries of “black lives matter,” and America continues to insist through its actions in these cases that they don’t, that that is a lamentation of hopeful ideals rather than a recitation of a national reality.

My fingers ache as I type this. I want to pound this keyboard. I want to delete until all the characters disappear, to make the pain of it simply vanish behind a retreating cursor, but it’s just not that easy. These words are all I have left. This agony pouring out of me onto the screen is all I have.

And I take no solace in the lip service generated by politicians and their parties to rectify this situation.

I have been to two national party conventions in as many weeks and with everything I hear, my cynicism grows.

Last week in Cleveland, the Republican Party delivered an unabashed affront to the movement for black lives as it took every opportunity to diminish black loss, as if there was an inherent conflict between valuing police lives and valuing the lives of the black and brown people who are policed. Donald Trump himself delivered a heavily coded speech in which he repeatedly asserted that he would be the “law and order” candidate, but never spoke of the equally important issue of imposing some order on the law.

The Democratic convention has been different and better in many ways — particularly about elevating the issue and using proper language — but even here I remain leery of empty platitudes over actual policies.

The Mothers of the Movement — black women who have lost children to gun violence — took the stage on Tuesday night and delivered a powerful and moving address to those in the hall and across America. But even this makes me a bit uneasy.

While I applaud and commend the mothers for taking every opportunity to campaign for justice for their children and to champion policies that would prevent other mothers from ever being thrust into their position, I’m also incredibly aware of the using nature of politicians and how they try to politicize other people’s pain for their own self-aggrandizement.

Justice doesn’t live on the left or right side of the ideological spectrum. Justice lives on the side of righteousness.

And then, Bill Clinton, who I found more beguiling than many, apparently, took the stage and shifted the burden of dismantling oppression from the shoulders of the oppressors to the shoulders of the oppressed, saying:

“If you’re a young African-American disillusioned and afraid, we saw in Dallas how great our police officers can be. Help us build a future where nobody is afraid to walk outside, including the people that wear blue to protect our future.”

I am exhausted. I am repulsed. I am over all the circular dialogue. But I don’t know precisely where that leaves me other than in a hurt and festering place. America is edging ever closer to telling people like me that the eye of justice isn’t blind but jaundiced, and I say back to America, that is incredibly dangerous.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Some foreign leaders settle for stealing billions of dollars. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, may have wanted to steal something even more valuable: an American presidential election.

As our election takes a turn that could be drawn from a Cold War spy novel (except it would be too implausible), Putin has an obvious favorite in the race: Donald Trump. “It’s crystal clear to me” that Putin favors Trump, says Michael McFaul, a Stanford professor who was ambassador to Russia until 2014. “If I were Putin, I would rather deal with Trump, too, given the things he has said about foreign policy.”

Look, Democratic Party leaders exchanged inappropriate emails showing bias for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, and a hacker’s disclosure has properly triggered a ruckus. But that scandal pales beside an effort apparently by a foreign dictatorship to disrupt an American presidential election.

It also seems scandalous to me that Trump on Wednesday effectively invited Russia to hack into Clinton’s computers for deleted emails from when she was secretary of state, saying at a press conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Yes, Trump is entertaining. But increasingly, the antonym of “gravitas” is “Trump.” Clinton could have responded by inviting Russia to hack into Trump’s computers and release his tax returns; she didn’t because the hack would be illegal and her plea would be unpresidential.

In his press conference, Trump also cast doubt on the idea that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computers. “It’s probably not Russia,” he said, suggesting it might be China, or “some guy with a 200 I.Q.”

So let’s go through the evidence.

America’s intelligence agencies have assessed with “high confidence” that Russia’s government was behind the hack, and private security companies have identified two Russian teams of hackers that were inside D.N.C. computers. One team is called Cozy Bear and is linked to the F.S.B., the successor to the K.G.B., and another is called Fancy Bear and is linked to the G.R.U., or Russian military intelligence. Cyber experts are very familiar with both Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear.

The next question is whether Russia was also behind the release of the stolen emails to WikiLeaks. Someone using the name Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be behind the hack, denied Russian involvement and claimed to be Romanian — but wrote Romanian badly. ThreatConnect, a private security firm, issued a meticulous report showing that Guccifer used a Russia-based VPN (virtual private network) service and displayed other “heavy traces of Russian activity.”

“Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian propaganda effort,” ThreatConnect concluded.

After talking to experts, I have the sense that there’s considerable confidence that Russia is the culprit, but more doubt about whether Putin gave the order and about whether the aim was to benefit Trump or simply to create havoc.

“I think the most likely explanation is that someone in Russian intelligence, probably very high up, decided to help Donald Trump,” said Benjamin Wittes, a security expert at the Brookings Institution, but he added that there’s no solid evidence for this.

One reason for caution is that history shows that “intelligence community” is sometimes an oxymoron. In the 1980s, the United States accused Russia of conducting chemical warfare in Southeast Asia, citing “yellow rain” in jungles there. Years later, it turned out that this “yellow rain” may have actually been bee excrement.

Democrats should be particularly wary of hinting that Trump is some sort of conscious pawn of the Russians, or is controlled by Moscow through financial investments. It’s true that his son Donald Trump Jr. said in 2008 that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” But do you really think that if Trump were an agent he would have exaggerated his ties, as he did last year, saying of Putin, “I got to know him very well”? In fact, Trump acknowledged Wednesday, he has never even met Putin.

The reason Moscow favors Trump isn’t some conspiracy. It’s simply that Putin dislikes Clinton, while Trump’s combination of international ignorance and catastrophic policies would benefit Putin. In particular, Trump’s public doubts about NATO renounce more than half a century of bipartisan orthodoxy on how to deal with Russia, and undermine the Western alliance that checks Putin.

One nightmare of security specialists is Russia provoking unrest among ethnic Russians in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania and then using rioting as an excuse to intervene. NATO members would be obliged to respond, but frankly it’s not clear that they would — and Trump’s loose rhetoric increases the risk of paralysis and a collapse of the alliance.

In that sense, Trump poses a national security risk to the West, and that’s reason enough Putin would be thrilled to see him elected president.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Now, everybody wears the pants in the family.

While the Democrats have been celebrating the nomination of Hillary Clinton, I’ve been thinking about all the American women, from the 1600s through World War II, who got arrested for wearing trousers in public. You’d like to imagine them out there somewhere watching those Clinton pantsuits, exchanging high-fives. Ditto all the women who supported the deeply uncomfortable bloomer movement, in the name of a feminist future.

The idea of the first-woman-major-party-nominee is a political event, but it’s also a historical marker. Once everyone leaves here and goes home, we probably won’t have much chance to talk about that angle. Really, there’s going to be a lot of other stuff on the agenda. The Democrats hadn’t even gotten to Clinton’s acceptance speech before everyone was distracted by Donald Trump encouraging the Russians to spy on his opponent.

It’s also becoming clear that the campaign is so fixated on those ever-elusive white males that many Democrats would prefer to forget Susan B. Anthony and talk about Babe Ruth. That’s political life. But just give us a little more time to dwell.

I’d like to think that somewhere, all the women who worked for this moment through American history are watching and nodding happily. Like the sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who really don’t get enough mention. They were the daughters of a wealthy pre-Civil War South Carolina slave owner who figured out on their own, when they were hardly more than babies, that the system was wrong. (When Sarah was about 4 she went to the docks and asked a sea captain to take her to a place where whipping was prohibited.)

They went north, became lecturers, and there was something about their earnest, sweet, humorless determination that allowed them to get away with the political equivalent of murder. They trotted around the country, speaking for abolition and women’s rights to audiences that — shockingly — included men.

You had your occasional torch-bearing protesters, but for the most part, they triumphed by simply ignoring the possibility of bad outcomes. Angelina wound up marrying a dashing fellow abolitionist, Theodore Weld, to the amazement of Americans who had never conceived that an advocate of equal rights for women could ever find a husband.

Give the Grimkes a hand. And pick your own nominees to go with them.

Even if Hillary wins the White House, there will still be political worlds for women to conquer. While Bill Clinton gave the most supportive spousal speech conceivable at the convention, the fact that our first female presidential nominee is married to a former president is a bit of a downer for some people.

There’s a sense of cutting corners. But it was probably inevitable. The annals of first-ever female elected officials is pretty much a list of wives of congressmen, senators and governors who stepped in when their husbands died — or, occasionally, got indicted.

Some, to be honest, were embarrassing placeholders. But others were tireless public servants.

The greatest, pre-Hillary, may have been Margaret Chase Smith, whose husband, Clyde, was a Republican representative from Maine. (According to Ellen Fitzpatrick’s book “The Highest Glass Ceiling,” he was also a chronic womanizer who died of advanced syphilis.) Margaret had been running the congressman’s office and meeting with his constituents for a long time, and made it clear she didn’t intend to just sit in his seat.

She moved up to the Senate, took on Joe McCarthy Communist hysteria, fought for women’s rights and bipartisanship. Smith ran for president herself in 1964 — the first woman regarded as a genuine contestant by either of the major parties. At the time, commentators had little compunction about suggesting she was, as one Los Angeles Times writer contended, “beyond the optimum years for the presidency.” Smith was 66 at the time.

So Clinton, who is 68, has won one for Margaret Chase Smith. Also for the generations of American women who were described, as one 18th-century visitor from France put it, as “charming and adorable at fifteen, faded at twenty-three, old at thirty-five, decrepit at forty.”

The story keeps moving on. While Clinton was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from New York, she was succeeded by Kirsten Gillibrand, a young and wildly energetic Democrat who came from a home where women were the family politicians. She had already attracted national notice when she went into labor after sitting through a 13-hour meeting of the Armed Services Committee.

But things still aren’t equal. We’ve made it to a point where a woman who’s been first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state can win a presidential nomination. Now let’s see how long it takes for someone who’s a little less overqualified to get the nod.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has made history. So here she comes, wearing her pants, ready to run.