BreXit–GOD Save May


January 17,2019

BreXit–GOD Save May

LONDON — Ahead of a vote on her Brexit plan that could go down to a humiliating defeat in Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain was fighting on Monday less to avert the loss than to limit its scale.

Image result for may's brexit fudge

In that vein, Mrs. May enlisted fresh promises from Europe’s most senior officials through an exchange of letters and warned supporters of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union that the whole project would be threatened if her deal was voted down as expected.

Neither tactic looked likely to change the overall outcome, but if Mrs. May can curb the magnitude of any defeat to manageable proportions, she could avert an immediate political meltdown. That, given the precarious state of events, would be a victory of sorts.

Speaking in a ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent, an area that voted heavily to leave the European Union, Mrs. May warned that Britain’s failure to withdraw from the bloc would risk “a subversion of the democratic process” and do “catastrophic harm” to faith in politics.

Though she carefully refused to rule it out, Mrs. May insisted that she has no intention of seeking to extend the negotiating deadline of March 29 laid down under Article 50 of the European Union’s treaty.

Even in defeat, Mrs. May wants to show that, in a Parliament paralyzed over Brexit, her plan still has more support than likely alternatives, like negotiating closer ties to the European Union, rethinking Brexit altogether through a second referendum or leaving without any deal at all.

The stakes are high because a crushing defeat in the vote on Tuesday could destroy Mrs. May’s strategy of keeping her plan alive in the hope that, as other options falter, lawmakers will support hers out of desperation.

A severe loss, meaning by more than 100 votes in Parliament, would reduce prospects of Britain’s winning further concessions from European Union officials. They are loath to give ground unless it seems like Mrs. May needs only a small push to get over the finish line. A loss of historic proportions might make her position untenable, forcing her resignation.

Lawmakers are preparing for a moment of parliamentary high drama on Tuesday. In one prominent example, Tulip Siddiq, a member of the opposition Labour Party, told the Evening Standard newspaper that she had ignored medical advice and postponed her cesarean section by two days in order to vote in person.

The last time a government was defeated by more than 100 votes is thought to have been in October 1924, when, academics say, a minority government led by James Ramsay MacDonald went down to a defeat of 166 over its abandonment of the prosecution of a left-wing newspaper, prompting a general election.

Mrs. May faces a rebellion from many of her own lawmakers who are angry about the so-called “backstop” plan to keep the Irish border open for the free flow of goods after Britain leaves the bloc. Brexiteers fear that this could keep Britain tied to the European Union indefinitely, while the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland, which props up Mrs. May’s government, is petrified about its part of the country being separated economically from the rest of the United Kingdom.

In a letter published on Monday, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, emphasized that they did not want the backstop to come into force and hoped it could be averted by agreement on a trade deal that removes the need for border checks.

If it did become operable, the European Union would use “its best endeavors” to negotiate an agreement to replace it, “so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.”

That did little to placate Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the D.U.P., who wrote on Twitter that “rather than reassure us, the Tusk and Juncker letter bolsters our concerns.”

Mrs. May seems to have calculated that, for the time being, her best hope is to cajole some hard-line Conservative Party Brexiteers into supporting her, even if they hate her plan, for fear of something worse. Her hand has been strengthened by machinations in Parliament in recent days, as lawmakers have tried to wrest control of the Brexit process, to inconclusive results, from a government that has no clear majority.

That wrangling has raised the possibility of a much “softer” Brexit, with closer ties to the European Union than Mrs. May wants, or a second referendum that might stop Brexit completely.

Mrs. May has also been trying to persuade lawmakers to side with her for fear of the disorderly Brexit that might arise on March 29 if, by then, there is not agreement. Prospects of that outcome have lessened lately because of the assertiveness of Parliament where a clear majority of lawmakers is determined to avoid a “no-deal” Brexit.

There was some bad news on Monday for Mrs. May with the resignation from her government of Gareth Johnson, an assistant whip, so that he would be free to vote against her Brexit plan.

But there was some movement in the other direction, too. One opposition Labour lawmaker, Kevin Barron, who represents a constituency that voted heavily for Leave, told The Times of London that his reservations over the plan were “far outweighed” by the risk of no deal, and that any attempt to reverse Brexit would be a “betrayal.”

A small group of Conservative Brexit supporters, including Andrew Murrison, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Caroline Johnson and Edward Leigh, are also now expected to support Mrs. May. They are hardly the most enthusiastic cheerleaders, however.

Mr. Clifton-Brown told the BBC that he believed Mrs. May was headed for defeat but was “fearful that a coalition in the House of Commons will somehow find a way of either extending Article 50 or, worse still, preventing us leaving altogether.”

Asked about the merits of Mrs. May’s plan, he replied, “Well, basically I still think it’s a thoroughly bad deal.”

Follow Stephen Castle on Twitter: @_StephenCastle.

 

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: May Scrambles to Save Her Accord to Exit E.U. From Crushing Defeat. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper |

 

 

 

 

DJT And His Team of Morons


January 15, 2019

DJT And His Team of Morons

DJT And His Team of Morons

by Paul Krugman

There have been many policy disasters over the course of U.S. history. It’s hard, however, to think of a calamity as gratuitous, an error as unforced, as the current federal shutdown.

Nor can I think of another disaster as thoroughly personal, as completely owned by one man. When Donald Trump told Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, “I will be the one to shut it down,” he was being completely accurate — although he went on to promise that “I’m not going to blame you for it,” which was a lie.

Still, no man is an island, although Trump comes closer than most. You can’t fully make sense of his policy pratfalls without acknowledging the extraordinary quality of the people with whom he has surrounded himself. And by “extraordinary,” of course, I mean extraordinarily low quality. Lincoln had a team of rivals; Trump has a team of morons.

If this sounds too harsh, consider recent economic pronouncements by two members of his administration. Predictably, these pronouncements involve bad economics; that’s pretty much a given. What’s striking, instead, is the inability of either man to stay on script; they can’t even get their right-wing mendacity right.

Image result for Kevin Hassett

 

First up is Kevin Hassett, chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, who was asked about the plight of federal workers who aren’t being paid. You don’t have to be a public relations expert to know that you’re supposed to express some sympathy, whether you feel it or not. After all, there are multiple news reports about transportation security workers turning to food banks, the Coast Guard suggesting its employees hold garage sales, and so on.

So the right response involves expressing concern about those workers but placing the blame on Democrats who don’t want to stop brown-skinned rapists, or something like that. But no: Hassett declared that it’s all good, that the workers are actually “better off,” because they’re getting time off without having to use any of their vacation days.

Then consider what Sean Hannity had to say about taxing the rich. What’s that? You say that Hannity isn’t a member of the Trump administration? But surely he is in every sense that matters. In fact, Fox News isn’t just state TV, its hosts clearly have better access to the President, more input into his decisions, than any of the so-called experts at places like the State Department or the Department of Defense.

Anyway, Hannity declared that raising taxes on the wealthy would damage the economy, because “rich people won’t be buying boats that they like recreationally,” and “they’re not going to be taking expensive vacations anymore.”

Um, that’s not the answer a conservative is supposed to give. You’re supposed to insist that low taxes on the rich give them an incentive to work really really hard, not make it easier for them to take lavish vacations. You’re supposed to declare that low taxes will induce them to save and spend money building businesses, not help them afford to buy new yachts.

 

Even if your real reason for favoring low taxes is that they let your wealthy friends engage in even more high living, you’re not supposed to say that out loud.

Again, the point isn’t that people in Trump’s circle don’t care about ordinary American families, and also talk nonsense — that’s only to be expected. What’s amazing is that they’re so out of it that they don’t know either how to pretend to care about the middle class, or what nonsense to spout in order to sustain that pretense.

So what’s wrong with Trump’s people? Why can’t they serve up even some fake populism?

There are, I think, two answers, one generic to modern conservatism, one specific to Trump.

On the generic point: To be a modern conservative is to spend your life inside what amounts to a cult, barely exposed to outside ideas or even ways of speaking. Inside that cult, contempt for ordinary working Americans is widespread — remember Eric Cantor, the then-House majority leader, celebrating Labor Day by praising business owners. So is worship of wealth. And it can be hard for cult members to remember that you don’t talk that way to outsiders.

Then there’s the Trump effect. Normally working for the president of the United States is a career booster, something that looks good on your résumé. Trump’s presidency, however, is so chaotic, corrupt and potentially compromised by his foreign entanglements that anyone associated with him gets tainted — which is why after only two years he has already left a trail of broken men and wrecked reputations in his wake.

So who is willing to serve him at this point? Only those with no reputation to lose, generally because they’re pretty bad at what they do. There are, no doubt, conservatives smart and self-controlled enough to lie plausibly, or at least preserve some deniability, and defend Trump’s policies without making fools of themselves. But those people have gone into hiding.

A year ago I pointed out that the Trump administration was turning into government by the worst and the dumbest. Since then, however, things have gotten even worse and even dumber. And we haven’t hit bottom yet.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography.

@PaulKrugman

 

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Donald Trump And His Team Of Morons. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

 

 

 

 

 

New York Times Book Review


January 13, 2019

New York Times Book Review: “The Truths We Hold”

 

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

I was raised to do things, not to talk about myself or my feelings — or frankly, even to look back. It was an effort to talk about my feelings as things were happening. It was difficult. I talk about a lot that’s really personal, and that I had not talked about in public. That was a component of it that made me feel very vulnerable. But I felt it was important to talk about for a couple of reasons. One, I’m really clear in my mind that there are a lot of experiences I’ve had, emotional experiences and responses, that are in common with a lot of people. But more important, I wanted to give context to the work I’ve done. Almost everything I’ve done professionally has been motivated by some experience I’ve been exposed to.

 

The process of writing the book required me to really explore what I was feeling at those moments. For example, the whole chapter that we named “Underwater” — I had never talked about the fact that our mother bought our first house when I was a teenager. I’ll never forget, when my mother came back and said, “This is going to be our home.” The pictures and the excitement she had, and the excitement we then had. I connected that emotion to what it meant for all those homeowners who either had that hope when they engaged in what ended up being a fraudulent mortgage scheme or when they lost their homes. Knowing what that meant, when I’m sitting across the table from executives at the biggest banks in the country and feeling a sense of responsibility, that this wasn’t simply a financial transaction. When your mother comes home with the picture of the first home you’re ever going to have, it’s not like someone waving around a piece of paper with a stock portfolio. It’s a whole other thing.

In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write?

https://i.4pcdn.org/pol/1496450667218.jpg

Hopefully the book takes the reader on a journey down memory lane about the last 12 months and how much happened. Everything is happening so rapidly right now that a lot of people tend to forget what just happened six months ago, when the thing that happened six months ago was earth-shattering. There’s a lot in the book that was happening in real time; so literally as I’m writing it, it’s happening. The book was due and then the Brett Kavanaugh hearings happened, and so how do I handle that? It was important to me to at least try to talk about that, knowing that people will be reading about it months after it happened.

“I hope you’ll walk away renewing your faith in the nobility and importance of public service, and convinced that we are a country that was founded on noble ideals. Imperfect though we may be, what makes us strong, and special, is that we’ve always aspired to reach those ideals.”–Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris, center, at an event in California calling for the end of family separations at the border, in June 2018.
Creditvia Kamala Harris
 

Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?

Certainly my mother. She was incredibly creative, as a scientist. But when I think about performers: Bob Marley. I first started listening to him when I was a child. My father had an incredible jazz collection but also a lot of Marley. I saw him in concert at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I was hooked.

Jamaica’s history is actually not that well known in the context of the issues we deal with in the United States. But Jamaica grappled with vicious slavery for generations, and then colonists, with a very strong sense of identity in terms of what it meant to be particularly a black Jamaican. A lot of his music was about what it means to fight for the people. He was a very spiritual person also. I’m very spiritual. I don’t talk a lot about it, but the idea that there is a higher being and that we should be motivated by love of one another — that also requires us to fight.

Persuade someone to read “The Truths We Hold” in 50 words or less.

I hope you’ll walk away renewing your faith in the nobility and importance of public service, and convinced that we are a country that was founded on noble ideals. Imperfect though we may be, what makes us strong, and special, is that we’ve always aspired to reach those ideals.

Follow John Williams on Twitter: @johnwilliamsnyt.

The Truths We Hold
An American Journey
By Kamala Harris
Illustrated. 318 pages. Penguin Press. $30.

 

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Eager to Fight for the People.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Transcripts: Trump’s Speech on Immigration and the Democratic Response


January 9, 2019

 

 

 

President Trump addressed the nation on Tuesday night from the Oval Office.CreditPool photo by Carlos Barria
ImagPresident Trump addressed the nation on Tuesday night from the Oval Office. CreditCredit Pool photo by Carlos Barria

By The New York Times

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump delivered an address to the nation on Tuesday night from the Oval Office to make a broad-based public push for border wall funding.

After his speech, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leaders, delivered a response from Capitol Hill.

[Read our live analysis and fact checks of the remarks here.]

The following are transcripts of both Mr. Trump’s speech and the Democratic rebuttal, as prepared by The New York Times.

__________

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP: My fellow Americans, tonight I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.

 

Every day, Customs and Border Protection agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country. America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration.

It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone. Ninety percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.

This is a humanitarian crisis. A crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul. Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.

This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end.

My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem.

 

Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the Department of Homeland Security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe. In fact, safer than ever before.

The proposal from homeland security includes cutting edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges to process the sharp rise of unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy.

Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support. Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.

Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.

The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year. Vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.

Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.

Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis and they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation.

 

The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only, because Democrats will not fund border security. My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation, but the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government.

This situation could be solved in a 45 minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.

Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.

America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country. Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders.

In California, an air force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

Over the last several years I have met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I have held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief stricken fathers. So sad, so terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls. How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?

To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken. To every member of Congress: pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen, call Congress, and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.

 

This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve. When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country and that is what I will always do so help me god.

Thank you and good night.

__________

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Good evening.

Politics|Full Transcripts: Trump’s Speech on Immigration and the Democratic Response

 

President Trump addressed the nation on Tuesday night from the Oval Office.CreditPool photo by Carlos Barria
Image
President Trump addressed the nation on Tuesday night from the Oval Office.CreditCreditPool photo by Carlos Barria

By The New York Times

 

President Trump delivered an address to the nation on Tuesday night from the Oval Office to make a broad-based public push for border wall funding.

After his speech, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leaders, delivered a response from Capitol Hill.

[Read our live analysis and fact checks of the remarks here.]

The following are transcripts of both Mr. Trump’s speech and the Democratic rebuttal, as prepared by The New York Times.

__________

PRESIDENT TRUMP: My fellow Americans, tonight I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.

 

Every day, Customs and Border Protection agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country. America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration.

It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone. Ninety percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

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In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.

This is a humanitarian crisis. A crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul. Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.

This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end. My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem.

A

Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the Department of Homeland Security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe. In fact, safer than ever before.

The proposal from homeland security includes cutting edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges to process the sharp rise of unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy.

Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support. Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.

Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.

The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year. Vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.

Senator Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.

Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis and they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation.

 

The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only, because Democrats will not fund border security. My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation, but the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government.

This situation could be solved in a 45 minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.

Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.

America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country. Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders.

In California, an air force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

Over the last several years I have met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I have held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief stricken fathers. So sad, so terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls. How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?

To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken. To every member of Congress: pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen, call Congress, and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.

 

This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve. When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country and that is what I will always do so help me god.

Thank you and good night.

__________

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Good evening.

Image result for nancy pelosi

 

I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly to the American people tonight about how we can end this shutdown and meet the needs of the American people. Sadly much of what we heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The president has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts.

The fact is on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions. But the president is rejecting these bipartisan bills which would reopen government over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall, a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.

The fact is, President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety, and well-being of the American people, and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation, many of them veterans.

He promised to keep the government shutdown for months or years, no matter whom it hurts. That’s just plain wrong. The fact is, we all agree we need to secure our borders while honoring our values. We can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry. We can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation. We can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border. We can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings.

The fact is, the women and children at the border are not a security threat. They are a humanitarian challenge, a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened. And the fact is, President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage and stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.

Thank you. Leader Schumer.

Image result for chuck schumer

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Thank you, Speaker Pelosi.

My fellow Americans, we address you tonight for one reason only. The president of the United States, having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill, has shut down the government.

 

American democracy doesn’t work that way. We don’t govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down. Hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage.

 

Tonight, and throughout this debate and throughout his presidency, president trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity. Make no mistake, Democrats and the president both want stronger border security. However, we sharply disagree with the president about the most effective way to do it.

So, how do we untangle this mess? Well, there’s an obvious solution. Separate the shutdown from arguments over border security. There is bipartisan legislation supported by Democrats and Republicans to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue.

There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference. Federal workers are about to miss a paycheck. Some families can’t get a mortgage to buy a new home. Farmers and small businesses won’t get loans they desperately need.

Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.

My fellow Americans, there is no challenge so great that our nation cannot rise to meet it. We can reopen the government and continue to work through disagreements over policy. We can secure our border without an ineffective, expensive wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security.

The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30 foot wall. So our suggestion is a simple one. Mr. President, reopen the government, and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now.

Thank you.

 

 

 

An Appraisal : Amos Oz, a Writer Who Loved the Dream of Israel and Charted Its Imperfect Reality


December 28, 2018

By Gal Beckerman

 

Israel, born out of a dream, a yearning, and then forced to face, for better or worse, what reality brings, found in Amos Oz a writer who combined both the country’s essential idealism and the ability to see the cracked nature of what had been wrought.

Mr. Oz, who died on Friday at the age of 79, was Israel’s most significant cultural ambassador for nearly 50 years, perennially mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. But what he most proudly championed was modern Hebrew itself, the form of the language that Zionism revived. Mr. Oz never stopped professing an enduring love for its mongrel qualities. He thrilled at the chance to work in a tongue that had deep biblical references embedded in the root of nearly every word, but that also borrowed heavily from Yiddish, Russian, English and Arabic.

This new-old language was the perfect vehicle for the role Mr. Oz came to embody, a sort of sociologist and psychologist of the Israeli soul. “I bring up the evil spirits and record the traumas, the fantasies, the lunacies of Israeli Jews, natives and those from Central Europe,” Mr. Oz said in a 1978 interview with The Times. “I deal with their ambitions and the powderbox of self-denial and self-hatred.”

His biography suited him well for this job — he was in many ways the quintessential new Jew that Zionism had hoped to create. As a teenager, he left Jerusalem on his own, changed his last name from Klausner to Oz, which means courage in Hebrew, and moved to a kibbutz, one of the socialist farming communities where Israelis lived out their truest fantasies of cultivating themselves and the land to become robust and hearty.

Inspired by “Winesburg, Ohio,” Sherwood Anderson’s collection of realist stories about small-town life, Mr. Oz began writing in his twenties about the characters he saw around him in his kibbutz. Those stories eventually made up his first collection, “Where the Jackals Howl,” published in 1965. Anderson, he would later say, “showed me that the real world is everywhere, even in a small kibbutz. I discovered that all the secrets are the same — love, hatred, fear, loneliness — all the great and simple things of life and literature.”

As a writer, Mr. Oz kept returning to the rural, communal life of the kibbutz in a spare, modernist style that focused on the complexities of interpersonal relations, from his 1973 novel, “Elsewhere, Perhaps,” to his 2013 story collection, “Between Friends.”

But his breakthrough, both in Israel and internationally, was a far more psychological work, “My Michael,” a 1972 novel, his first book to be translated into English. It is told from the perspective of Hannah Gonen, a young woman misunderstood by, and alienated from, her husband. Mr. Oz follows her sexual obsessions, which seem to emerge from a need to be seen — creating a sort of “Madame Bovary” set against the backdrop of white Jerusalem stone. Hannah describes one moment early in her relationship with Michael, her then-boyfriend, when he unbuttoned his coat and drew her inside it to the warmth of his body: “He felt very real. So did I. I was not a figment of his thoughts, he was not a fear inside me.”

Mr. Oz’s masterpiece is his 2004 memoir, “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” It was unlike anything he had ever written, telling the story of his own coming of age in Jerusalem with precision and brutal honesty. He captured the mystical air of the city, how it was transformed with the birth of the state, his own bookish youth and his mother’s depression, which led to her suicide when Mr. Oz was 12. In the memoir, he remembers his mother telling him: “I think you will grow up to be a sort of prattling puppy dog like your father, and you’ll also be a man who is quiet and full and closed like a well in a village that has been abandoned by all its inhabitants. Like me.”

It’s an extraordinary book that will endure as one of the greatest works in modern Hebrew. In many ways, through this memoir, Mr. Oz perfected what he had tried to do again and again in his fiction — to capture the coming together of the personal and the political, with neither of the two elements suffering from the collision.

Mr. Oz’s politics defined him to the international audience he often dazzled with his metaphors to explain the conflict (“the only solution is turning the house into two smaller apartments”; “I would say that the patient, Israeli and Palestinian, is unhappily ready for surgery, while the doctors are cowards”). He became a critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza following the Six-Day War, and was a mainstay of the left who insistently argued, in essays and opinion pieces and speeches, that the only solution to the conflict with the Palestinians was to create two states for two peoples.

Given how he envisioned the future of his country, his voice became an increasingly marginalized one in Israel in recent years, even as his stature continued to grow around the world. The native-born, kibbutz-influenced, adamantly secular, left-leaning Israelis of European descent who dominated Israel throughout much of Mr. Oz’s life have had to make way for Sephardic and Russian Jews, and the Orthodox, putting Mr. Oz increasingly in the position of an aging lefty, a prophet with fewer people willing to listen to him in his own country.

In his last novel, “Judas,” shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, he explored, by revisiting the story of the New Testament traitor, what exactly it means to be out of step with your own society. “Anyone willing to change will always be considered a traitor by those who cannot change and are scared to death of change and don’t understand it and loathe change,” he told me when I interviewed him in 2016. He felt himself a man possessed of moral clarity but denigrated for it in a country that could not make the difficult decisions he thought were necessary.

For all his frustrations with Israeli society and its direction, he was always an optimist, a man who had gone all in on the Zionist experiment and saw no reason to believe that perfection was ever on offer.

In his final essay collection, “Dear Zealots,” published at the end of last year, he wrote that he was, “afraid of the fanaticism and the violence, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in Israel, and I am also ashamed of them.” But this didn’t get in the way of his love of Israel. “I like being Israeli. I like being a citizen of a country where there are eight and a half million prime ministers, eight and a half million prophets, eight and a half million messiahs. Each of us has our own personal formula for redemption, or at least for a solution. Everyone shouts, and few listen. It’s never boring here.”

A version of this article appears in print on of the New York edition with the headline: Writer Who Grasped Depths of the Israeli Soul. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

 

Who Killed The Weekly Standard?


December 18,2018

The bureaucratic mind has a temporary triumph.

By David Brooks

Steve Hayes, Editor in Chief of The Weekly Standard, at his office in Washington.Credit Credit Lexey Swall for The New York Times

I’ve only been around Phil Anschutz a few times. My impressions on those occasions was that he was a run-of-the-mill arrogant billionaire. He was used to people courting him and he addressed them condescendingly from the lofty height of his own wealth.

I’ve never met Ryan McKibben, who runs part of Anschutz’s media group. But stories about him have circulated around Washington over the years. The stories suggest that he is an ordinary corporate bureaucrat — with all the petty vanities and the lack of interest in ideas that go with the type.

This week, Anschutz and McKibben murdered The Weekly Standard, the conservative opinion magazine that Anschutz owned. They didn’t merely close it because it was losing money. They seemed to have murdered it out of greed and vengeance.

John Podhoretz, one of the magazine’s founders, reports that they actively prevented potential buyers from coming in to take it over and keep it alive. They apparently wanted to hurt the employees and harvest the subscription list so they could make money off it. And Anschutz, being a professing Christian, decided to close the magazine at the height of the Christmas season, and so cause maximum pain to his former employees and their families.

The closing of The Weekly Standard is being told as a Trump story, as all stories must be these days. The magazine has been critical of Trump, and so this is another example of the gradual hegemony of Trumpism over the conservative world. That is indeed the backdrop to what happened here.

But that’s not the whole story. In reality, this is what happens when corporate drones take over an opinion magazine, try to drag it down to their level and then grow angry and resentful when the people at the magazine try to maintain some sense of intellectual standards. This is what happens when people with a populist mind-set decide that an uneducated opinion is of the same value as an educated opinion, that ignorance sells better than learning.

Image result for the weekly standard

In that sense, the closing of The Standard resembles Chris Hughes’s destruction of the old New Republic. This is what happens when the commercial forces trying to dumb down the American media run into a pocket of people trying to resist those forces.

I was on staff when The Standard was founded, by Bill Kristol, Podhoretz and Fred Barnes. They gathered the most concentrated collection of talent I have ever been around. The first masthead featured Charles Krauthammer, P.J. O’Rourke, Robert Kagan, David Frum, Chris Caldwell, Matt Labash, Tucker Carlson and the greatest political writer of my generation, Andrew Ferguson.

Early issues featured the writings of Tom Wolfe, Gertrude Himmelfarb, James Q. Wilson and Harvey Mansfield. The person at the bottom of the editorial masthead, a young Neomi Rao, has just been nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

It was and remains a warm, fun and convivial group. The magazine’s tone was part high intellectualism, part street-level political reporting and part Hunter Thompson-style gonzo journalism.

The Standard was conservative, but it frequently dissented from the Republican establishment and delighted in modern pop culture. The staff was never unanimous about anything. The many flavors of conservatism were hashed out in its pages. If it stood for anything, I would say it stood for this: that the good life consists of being an active citizen and caring passionately about politics; that it also consists of knowing something about Latin American fiction, ancient Greek culture and social impact of modern genetics; that it also consists of delighting in the latest good movies and TV shows, the best new cocktails and the casual pleasures of life.

Over the past year, under the editorship of Steve Hayes, the magazine was as good as it ever was. Adam Keiper did brilliant work with the back of the book. Amazingly talented young writers were recruited, like Adam Rubenstein, Alice Lloyd and Haley Byrd. If you look at the issue now online — the last that apparently will ever go online — there’s an article calling on Republicans to respect due process, a look at what can be done to bring down the suicide rate, an essay by literary critic Paul Cantor on “Frankenstein” at 200 and a piece on the sixth-century Roman poet Maximianus.

Over the past few years, if all the stories are correct, McKibben tried to change the tone of the magazine. He tried to get The Standard to hire highly partisan shock-jock screamers. He tried to tilt it more in the direction of a Republican direct mail fund-raising letter. When these efforts were blocked, resentment flared and the ax fell.

The Standard is now gone, but the people and ideas The Standard nurtured will continue to flourish. The talented young people who were fired this week will go on to have brilliant careers; the courage and integrity Hayes has shown during the Trump era will continue to inspire, while the drab corporate bureaucrats fade into the sand.

 

 

An earlier version of this column misspelled, after the first reference, the surname of the man in charge of the company that owns The Weekly Standard. He is Ryan McKibben, not McKibbin.

 

David Brooks has been a columnist with The Times since 2003. He is the author of “The Road to Character” and the forthcoming book, “The Second Mountain.”

 

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Who Killed The Weekly Standard?.