The House of Representatives has passed an important resolution calling on the U.S. to end support for the Saudi/United Arab Emirates war in Yemen. Congratulations to Rep. Ro Khanna, who has waged this fight for almost two years. (Self-promotional aside: He says he introduced the bill after he read one of my 2017 columns on Yemen. I have the best readers!) I hope the Saudis and Emiratis will get the message and end this tragic war, for which there is no military solution.
One of my concerns is that the opposite will happen: The Saudis might try to embroil the U.S. in a war with Iran,
- partly to bring Riyadh and Washington closer together,
- partly to distract from Saudi problems, and
- partly to teach the Iranians a lesson.
There are plenty of Iranian, Saudi and American ships in the Gulf and hotheads on each side, so it would be easy to have a murky accident that both sides mishandle and then escalate. The crown prince already tried to boost his fortunes by starting one war, with Yemen, and it is conceivable he’ll try to do the same again
President Trump and his staff have often criticized The New York Times and other news organizations for bias, arguing that we should just report what the president says without trying to analyze whether it’s true or is consistent with other things he has said. I think in fact that we should do the opposite: Where we in the media have screwed up the worst, I believe, is in cases like the run-up to the Iraq War, where we were more lap dogs than watch dogs. My colleague David Sanger (whom I met in our freshman year of college and who was the best man at my wedding), has written an eloquent essay explaining why we point out inaccuracies and inconsistencies even though we know the White House will object. His key phrase: “We’re not stenographers.”
Speaking of journalism, it is horrifying to see the way a New York hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, has systematically purchased and pillaged newspapers around the country, squeezing them for a final bit of revenue as it destroys them. Alden represents the worst of capitalism, targeting a public good and systematically trying to destroy it (often for the underlying real estate that newspapers own). Led by Randall D. Smith, R. Joseph Fuchs and Heath Freeman, the company is now trying to acquire newspapers around the country owned by Gannett, presumably so that it can rip them apart as well. I hope for the sake of newspapers around America, Gannett shareholders resist these barbarians at the gate.
It has been a year since the Parkland, Fla., massacre claimed 17 lives, and we remain as vulnerable as ever to shootings — in a way that Canadians and Europeans are not. I originally wrote a piece in 2017 about modest, sensible steps we could take to reduce the carnage, and I’m recirculating it now because it remains tragically relevant. In addition, check out this satirical Times video about when the right time is for politicians to act on gun control.
The outrage after Parkland set off a moral reckoning and awakening—there’s a simple explanation for school shootings.
.. Americans of high-school age are 82 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than 15- to 19-year-olds in the rest of the developed world.
This stark discrepancy is often treated as a baffling fact, requiring some counterintuitive explanation. After today’s massacre in Texas, the state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, suggested that the problem may be that high schools have too many doors. “Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe [the shooter] would have been stopped.”
.. At other moments, we’re told that the problem is that we need to do a better job guessing which troubled teens may prove murderous at some point in the future, or dealing with the excesses of masculinity, or possibly the crisis of meaning and identity in the secularizing modern world. As always, though, there is a simpler and more powerful explanation of why there has been no similar school shooting in Germany since 2009; or in Canada since 2007; none in the United Kingdom since 1996—while conversely, more young Americans have died in school shootings in 2018 than in all the nation’s combat operations all over the world... Back in 2012, Nate Silver observed: “Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South, or a number of other demographic characteristics.”.. More than 70 percent of Trump voters in 2016 described guns as “very important” to their vote, versus only 40 percent who described abortion as “very important” to their vote and only 25 percent who felt that way about gay rights... Only 30 percent of Americans own guns... The most important success of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for example, was not to change laws (although they changed some), but to change hearts: to persuade Americans that drunk driving was not funny, not charming, and not acceptable.American gun culture in the 2010s is as blithely irresponsible as American alcohol culture in the 1960s.
.. Only 66 percent of gun owners think it essential to keep guns locked up when not in use. (Ninety percent of non-gun-owners think so.) Only 45 percent of them actually do it.
Interview with Fox News with Chris Wallace
Rush would grant citizenship to a large number of people if those people would not be able to vote for 15-20 years
I haven’t had one caller complain about this budget-busting bill.
It is deficit-building, but I don’t think the deficit will be as bad as predicted.
Since the Parkland shootings in Florida, Senator Marco Rubio has done many of the things liberals say they are desperate, desperate for decent Republicans to do. He has changed his position on gun control, expressing support for new restrictions: age limits on gun purchases, new background check rules, possibly magazine restrictions. He has co-sponsored legislation encouraging states to issue restraining orders that temporarily would strip people deemed dangerous of their guns.
.. March for Our Lives the students wore price tagsaround their neck, $1.05 each — the amount of money Rubio’s campaigns have received from the N.R.A. divided by the number of students in Florida schools. David Hogg, one of their leaders, began his speech with the price tag line, and told a CNN interviewer that if anything he feels that their attacks on the Florida senator haven’t been provocative enough.
.. Republican majorities were forged by anger and a kind of smash-mouth politics, it’s incumbent upon liberals to give no quarter in return, and to treat any sudden conciliation from a prominent figure like the Florida senator not as an opportunity for deal making but as a welcome sign of weakness that should inspire further fierce attack.
.. The problem, then, is relying on the bipartisan impulses of few Republican politicians when what you need is a broader climate change. The path to that change requires first putting the fear of God (or, if you prefer, the fear of the Arc of History) into vulnerable Republican lawmakers, and then making them unpopular enough that you can simply beat them.
.. he’s precisely the kind of Republican who needs to be defeated to build a Democratic supermajority.
.. the chance to make him the face of G.O.P. intransigence on gun control
.. The deeper logic here is that the only plausible mission for Democrats after the Trumpian takeover of the G.O.P. is a kind of Carthaginian peace: Delenda
.. it seems to me that once conservatism surrendered to Donald Trump, arguments about corrosion became a bit irrelevant.
.. the president that the Florida senator endorsed is as consistently ad hominem as the young school shooting survivors with rather less excuse.
.. one reason that the Dreamer amnesty was an executive decision that Donald Trump could simply reverse, landing us in our current immigration stalemate, was that the Obama White House deliberately chose to make it one, pre-empting an effort by, yes, Marco Rubio to craft bipartisan legislation.
.. Don’t let Republicans disguise their anti-immigrant views with modest bipartisan maneuvers, create a clear contrast so that voters will reward you even if doing so requires pushing certain constitutional limits on your power.
.. if anything Obama’s executive action contributed to Trump’s victory by helping to radicalize conservative voters
.. Marco Rubio who made an extended effort to move the bill in a more middle-class-friendly direction by adding and then enlarging a child tax credit. The push was opposed by many of his Republican colleagues, but for a time Rubio thought that he could get an amendment in with Senate Democrat support.
.. having watched the Trump G.O.P. hold power with a largely negative agenda and an ugly rhetorical style, I can certainly believe that a no-quarter liberalism will gain power eventually in its turn.
challenging the tiresome stereotype of American kids as indolent narcissists whose brains have been addled by smartphones. They offer an inspiring example of thoughtful, eloquent protest.
.. when it comes to electing lawmakers whose decisions about gun control and other issues affect their lives, these high schoolers lack any real power.
.. The federal voting age in the United States should be lowered from 18 to 16.
.. it is important to distinguish between what psychologists call “cold” and “hot” cognition.
.. Cold cognitive abilities are those we use when we are in a calm situation, when we are by ourselves and have time to deliberate and when the most important skill is the ability to reason logically with facts. Voting is a good example of this sort of situation.
.. Studies of cold cognition have shown that the skills necessary to make informed decisions are firmly in place by 16.
.. Hot cognitive abilities are those we rely on to make good decisions when we are emotionally aroused, in groups or in a hurry.
.. self-regulation, which enables you to control your emotions, withstand pressure from others, resist temptation and check your impulses.
.. cold cognitive abilities, self-regulation does not mature until about age 22
.. Consider the dozen or so countries like Argentina, Austria, Brazil and Nicaragua that allow people to vote at 16 in national, state or local elections. In such countries, voter turnout among 16- and 17-year-olds is significantly higher than it is among older young adults.
.. people between 18 and 24 have the lowest voter turnout of any age group in the United States
.. the United States lowered the federal voting age was in 1971, when it went from 21 to 18. In that instance, the main motivating force was outrage over the fact that 18-year-olds could be sent to fight in Vietnam but could not vote.
.. The proposal to lower the voting age to 16 is motivated by today’s outrage that those most vulnerable to school shootings have no say in how such atrocities are best prevented.
the exchanges between Trump, Inslee, and several other governors were overshadowed by the President’s laughable claim that even unarmed, he would have tackled the Parkland school shooter.
.. It vividly illuminates the collective madness that beckons when you have an unprincipled man like Trump in the White House, the G.O.P. in control of Congress and the majority of states
.. Inslee .. brought up a program in his home state that gives the family members of disturbed or depressed individuals the ability to obtain court orders to seize their guns.
.. I have listened to law enforcement who have said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law-enforcement agents, which takes about six months.
.. Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, who explained how his state has already adopted a “school-marshal program,”
.. “They will have signs out front, a warning sign that, be aware, there are armed personnel on campus.”
.. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas and a former U.S. Attorney who once developed a school-safety program for the N.R.A.
.. “Essentially, what you are saying is that when a sick individual comes into that school, they can expect major trouble, right, major trouble. The bullets are going to be going towards him, also. . . . You know what’s going to happen, nobody’s going into that school.”
.. In making this argument, which follows the logic of the jungle, and of failed states like Yemen and Iraq, Trump seemed blissfully, or purposely, unaware of the fact that many school shooters end up shooting themselves, and, therefore, might well be immune to the logic of deterrence.
- .. Adam Lanza, who killed twenty-six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, shot himself in the head before the police arrived. Similarly,
- Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two Columbine shooters, made no effort to escape after carrying out their massacre, and they shot themselves after the police arrived.
.. he asserted that arming educators would be cheaper and more effective than hiring more armed guards, or relying on local police officers, such as the ones who failed to stop Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. “They don’t love the students; they don’t know the students,” Trump said dismissively. “The teachers love the students. They want to protect the students.”.. he is putting his own unhinged spin on this decivilizing agenda... “The bad guy has to understand that there is a big price to pay when they mess around with our students. You can’t just say we are going to harden our schools. . . . You have to let people know they are going to suffer the ultimate price. And you know what? And I said it before, you’re not going to have incidents, they are not going to do it because they are innately cowards.”
A funny thing is happening on the American scene: a powerful upwelling of decency.
.. You can see the abrupt turn toward decency in the rise of the #MeToo movement; in a matter of months ground that had seemed immovable shifted, and powerful sexual predators started facing career-ending consequences.
.. You can see it in the reactions to the Parkland school massacre.
.. Even the huge anti-Trump demonstrations just after Inauguration Day didn’t seem to move the conventional wisdom. But those pink pussy hats may have represented the beginning of real social and political change.
.. Political scientists have a term and a theory for what we’re seeing on #MeToo, guns and perhaps more: “regime change cascades.”
.. When people see the status quo as immovable, they tend to be passive even if they are themselves dissatisfied. Indeed, they may be unwilling to reveal their discontent, or to fully admit it to themselves. But once they see others visibly taking a stand, they both gain more confidence in their dissent and become more willing to act on it — and by their actions they may induce the same response in others, causing a kind of chain reaction.
.. Examples include
- the revolutions that swept Europe in 1848,
- the sudden collapse of communism in 1989 and
- the Arab Spring of 2011.
.. nothing says that such cascades have to be positive either in their motivations or in their results. The period 2016-17 clearly represented a sort of Alt-Right Spring — springtime for fascists? — in which white supremacists and anti-Semites were emboldened
- not just by Donald Trump’s election but by the
- evidence that there were more like-minded people than anyone realized, both in the U.S. and Europe.
.. historians have described 1848 as a turning point where history somehow failed to turn: At the end of the day the old, corrupt regimes were still standing.
.. far too much power rests in the hands of men who are simply bad people.
.. his growing backlash is not just its vileness, but its lameness.
.. Trump’s response to Parkland — let’s arm teachers! — wasn’t just stupid, it was cowardly, an attempt to duck the issue
.. Missouri G.O.P. has responded to the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens, accused of trying to blackmail his lover with nude photos: by blaming … George Soros
.. They’ve pretty much given up on making any substantive case for their ideas in favor of rants about socialists trying to take away your freedom.
.. it’s also kind of whiny; it’s what people sound like when they know they’re losing the argument.
.. the U.S. electoral system is in effect rigged in favor of Republicans
.. Democrats will need to win the popular vote by something like seven percentage points to take the House.