WILLING ENABLERS: Nicholas Kristof's beautiful column!


But also, his self-assessment:
For American president Donald J. Trump, it was "just another manic Wednesday."


In his prepared remarks at yesterday's foreshortened briefing, the commander declared that "what's coming out of" the Voice of America is, in fact, "disgusting."

He threatened to use his (imagined) constitutional authority "to adjourn both chambers of Congress," saying that what the Congress is doing "is a scam, and everyone knows it."

Renewing an announcement from the day before, he said that he's suspending funding to the World Health Organization, "pending a review of the organization’s cover-up in mismanagement of the coronavirus outbreak."

Regarding the Paycheck Protection Program, he said the program "has saved millions of American jobs. It’s been an incredible success and they want to replenish it now, but again, the Democrats don’t want to do that."

The president was pushing back against scams and cover-ups and disgusting behavior. Later, in a brief Q-and-A period, he performed a heroic adaptation of his claim that "the cupboard was bare" when he came into office.

He declared that, like the WHO, the World Trade Organization has been "treating the United States for decades so badly, and they’ve been so in favor of China." He closed with a rambling rant about the WHO, during which he said such things as these:
TRUMP (4/15/20): I feel very badly about the World Health Organization, but it's been a tool of China. It's been, as I say, totally China-centric. You take a look at everything that's happened.


China took off when it joined the World Trade Organization because of what's happened. Think of it! They're considered a developing nation? And because they're a developing—and we're not! But we're a developing nation too in my book. Okay, we're developing too.

But the fact is, we have been treated so badly by these organizations, and believe me, I'm looking at that one too. We're winning a lot of lawsuits right now that we never won before in the past. We're winning a lot of money that we never won in the past. That's with the World Trade. But with the World Health Organization, what's happened there is a disgrace.


You know what we do in Africa, with AIDS, people have no idea what we do and the money we spend...Nobody talks about it. Nobody gives us credit. We do that, and we do it very directly. But we're spending billions of dollars to help people live, all over the world. But we're spending $500 million to the World Health Organization, and there's something very bad going on. And you know what? I've gotten very much involved. It's been going on for a long period of time, and we don't want to be the suckers anymore.
We're a developing nation too! Meanwhile, what's happened at the WHO is a disgrace.

We don't want to be the suckers any more. Nobody gives us credit!

So far, we're just scraping the surface of the remarks made on this manic Wednesday. That said, we've long recommended pity for this apparently disordered man, and we do so again today.

That said, his weirdest comments yesterday weren't the ones we've already cited. For our money, yesterday's weirdest presentation was the familiar monologue shown below.

This familiar monologue concerned our tariffs on goods from China. It followed a presentation by agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue:
TRUMP: Before the vice president comes up, I just wanted to say, speaking of Sonny, China has paid us billions of dollars. Many, many billions of dollars in tariffs, which we’ve distributed some to the farmers, because they were targeted. We have many billions of dollars being held by Sonny, and I’ve told him to distribute much of that money to the farmers. Our farmers were targeted, and now they’re benefiting by the amount that they were targeted, and we are very honored to do that.

Sonny, you’re going to start that process very soon. You’ll let the farmers know. Nobody can take advantage of our farmers, so we have a lot of money that we’ve taken in from China. We’re going to be distributing that money from Sonny to the farmers, and there’s tremendous money over at above that.

That money was paid directly into the treasury of the United States. This has never happened to China before. They never gave us 25 cents. Now they’re paying us billions of dollars, and we appreciate it.
Once again, for the ten millionth time, the commander baldly misstated the basic nature of tariffs. As everyone knows, no money is "taken from China" in connection with our tariffs.

This obvious point has been fact-checked again and again, dating at least to April 2019. But Trump won't stop repeating this claim, which he presents as another aspect of his unparalleled greatness.

The president won't stop with this ridiculous claim. Our journalists stare as he makes it. The sheer absurdity of this "forever misstatement" stands as a marker of our second massive national problem in this, the first year of the plague.

In fairness, the American press corps is confronted with a massive problem in the person of President Trump. His misstatements are endless and vast, as is his free-floating sense of personal grievance.

In the face of this massive problem, high-end reporters sit supine and somnolent, every day, at his ludicrous daily briefings. CNN's Kaitlan Collins continues to press for actual answers to actual questions. The other journalists sit and stare, then offer a scattershot array of frequently pointless questions.

Their news orgs also display a striking inability to focus, a stunning willingness to work as enablers by refusing to discuss matters which are blindingly obvious.

Donald J. Trump staged a manic Wednesday, much like the Monday and Tuesday before it. By way of contrast, Nicholas Kristof presents a beautiful column in today's New York Times.

Kristof writes about the WHO, the president's latest villain. As with Ron Klain, so too here—Kristof notes the shortcomings of the organization, while giving a detailed account of its work around the world.

What's beautiful about Kristof's column? There's beauty in the ability to care about matters like these:
KRISTOF (4/16/20): Many Americans know nothing about the W.H.O., but its worldwide budget (of which the United States pays about one-fifth) is less than that of some American hospital centers. Yet it is charged with fighting Ebola and polio, saving children’s lives and keeping the world safe from pandemics like this one.


I’ve known the W.H.O.’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for almost 20 years and have had disagreements with him, largely over his accommodation of dictators. But I have deeply admired his passion for battling malaria, malnutrition and maternal mortality, and I’ve seen his work save lives. Growing up in Ethiopia, he lost a younger brother, Yemaine, apparently to measles, and that left him with a deep commitment to improve health care access.

The W.H.O. is bureaucratic, frustrating, timid—and indispensable.
No other organization can fill its international role overseeing the fight against disease. It has battled an outbreak of Ebola since last year in Congo, and that’s one reason we haven’t had Ebola cases in the United States.

Every day, the W.H.O. saves lives. It has promoted safe childbirth, and the number of women dying in childbirth has been cut almost in half over 25 years. It fights female genital mutilation and helps women with obstetric fistula. It is struggling to eliminate cervical cancer. It is part of the campaign against polio.


If I seem angry, it’s because I’ve seen too many women dying in childbirth in poor countries, too many children dying of diarrhea, too much leprosy. Gutting the W.H.O. would mean more kids dying of malnutrition, more moms dying of cervical cancer, and the coronavirus infecting more people in more countries—impairing the pandemic response, which may well cost even more American lives.
There's beauty in the ability to care about matters like those. There's also beauty in Kristof's knowledge, especially in his personal knowledge—in the fact that he has been present, on the ground, to see people losing their lives, but also to see lives saved.

Consider Director Tedros. Very few living Americans have lost a younger sibling to measles. Polio faded from American nightmares during the 1950s. There isn't a whole lot of leprosy here at this point in time.

That said, do those other lives matter? Kristof is saying they do. Along the way, he says the WHO actually has "been too cozy with China." He also says that the WHO, as part of its daily activity, is actually saving lives.

We were struck by the beauty of the values in Kristof's column. We were surprised by the self-assessment which came very late in his piece.

"If I seem angry," Kristof wrote—and her hadn't seemed angry to us at all. To us, that surprising self-assessment seemed highly instructive.

Tomorrow, we'll return to the slumbering, supine figures who populate the president's daily non-briefing briefings. We'll attempt to list some things the upper-end press corps could and should do in response to the pandemic of mental disorder which emanates, on a daily basis, from our commander in chief.

We admire Kristof's values. Regarding the wider press corps, are our upper-end reporters and our upper-end news orgs even capable of anger? Are they capable of being angry about the right things?

We recommend pity for Donald J. Trump. We recommend a termination of somnolence concerning his blatant disorders.

Tomorrow: Endless upper-end enabling versus respect for the truth


  1. "We recommend pity for Donald J. Trump. We recommend a termination of somnolence concerning his blatant disorders."

    So, reporters are supposed to ask things like "When did you first realize that you are crazy?" and "How long have you been demented?" and "Do you realize it is abnormal to tell so many lies?"

    How far will that get anyone? Somerby is being ridiculous. And he fawns all over Kristof, as if he invented empathy, without mentioning that empathy starts at home. Liberals believe in funding WHO. They also believe in staying at home and working to fight THIS pandemic, not wasting time disputing Trump's lies, which Somerby refers to as a pandemic of words, thereby minimizing a situation as bad here as anywhere in the world. WHO is a distraction from the real situation, which is that Trump is bungling his job as president. Asking him questions about his own insanity won't help that, no matter how satisfying Somerby might find it.

    Today there are reports of coordinated conservative demonstrations against social distancing, attacking the most Democratic governors who have instigated stay-at-home policies. There is speculation that these events are in support of Trump's restarting of the economy on May 1. They are trying to make it appear that there is public support for ending infection precautions, when polls show there is not. THAT is what reporters should be asking Trump about. And the fact that several of the people on Trump's list of business advisors, read yesterday, had not agreed to serve in that way and hadn't even been contacted about it. And they should be asking how the president can even think about reopening the economy without testing to know who is infected and who is not, who has antibodies and who does not. Testing has declined since the govt stopped funding for it. Reporters should ask about that -- not about WHO or whether Trump knows that he is insane and is willing to admit it.

    Somerby admires Kristof's empathy! There is nothing unusual about Kristof's support for WHO. It is what real human beings do. That Somerby thinks Kristof is praise-worthy says a lot about Somerby and his lack of concern. Kristof isn't being special -- he is being normal, but Somerby apparently doesn't recognize normal when he sees it, and that suggests that there is something majorly wrong with Somerby.

  2. It was striking how easily you can substitute the words Planned Parenthood for WHO, without changing the meaning much (perhaps need to delete leprosy):

    "If I seem angry, it’s because I’ve seen too many women dying in childbirth in poor counties, too many children dying of diarrhea, not much leprosy. Gutting Planned Parenthood would mean more kids dying of malnutrition, more moms dying of cervical cancer, and the coronavirus infecting more people in more counties—impairing the pandemic response, which may well cost even more American lives.

    1. I've seen 70 million humans killed by Planned Parenthood in the US alone.

    2. You get around.

  3. Bob is now accepting anti-Trump dogma as fact. The President's power to adjourn Congress in order to make recess appointments is not imaginary. On the contrary, it has been favorably mentioned by the Supreme Court:

    Article II, Section 3 provides:

    [The President] may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper

    No President has ever used the adjournment power–certainly not to make recess appointments. But this idea is not novel. Justice Scalia flagged it in NLRB v. Noel Canning (2014).

    In that case, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to view the recess-appointment power as a "safety valve" against Senatorial "intransigence." The majority opinion by Justice Breyer rejected that position, but mentioned that the President could instead us the power to adjourn Congress "The Constitution also gives the President (if he has enough allies in Congress) a way to force a recess. Art. II, § 3 ("[I]n Case of Disagreement between [the Houses], with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, [the President] may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper")."

    I don't know how the Supreme Court would rule if Trump tried this tactic, but he is right that it is a plausible thing.

    Trump sometimes says something that seems outlandish, but it actually plausible or even correct. His enemies unthinkingly criticize his comment. Then they look foolish and biased when Trump proves to be right.

    1. "[The President] may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper"

      This doesn't mean that the president can adjourn a sitting House or Senate. It means that if he convenes Congress (due to extraordinary circumstances), he can adjourn them if there is a disagreement between them about whether to adjourn -- he can break up that disagreement by adjourning Congress.

      It doesn't mean that Trump can interfere with the business of Congress by arbitrarily adjourning either chamber in the absence of a disagreement and extraordinary circumstance, just to achieve a recess appointment.

      Trump is no legal scholar. It sounds like he has garbled something an equally ignorant person suggested to him. Such a suggestion seems to be along the lines of do it first and fight it out in the Supreme Court later, which is how conservatives operate in the absence of any respect for law.

    2. Is Trump fighting with the Republicans over these appointments? The Republicans control the Senate. They are his own party. This sounds like another attempt to deflect blame, by claiming that he cannot fight the virus competently because he doesn't have the right staff approved.

    3. @!1:42 PM - your interpretation sounds reasonable to me. However, the Supreme Court did comment favorably on Trump's idea, although they did not specifically rule on it. I apologize for omitting the link in the above comment. Read the full article at https://reason.com/2020/04/15/noel-canning-redux-justice-scalia-wrote-that-the-president-could-use-the-adjournment-power-to-block-senate-intransgience/

    4. Scalia isn't the Supreme Court.

    5. Got nothing to say, David?
      Still looking for the video of Obama accepting personal responsibility and taking blame?
      Funny how you ran away from that thread.

    6. mm - my comment said nothing about what I wanted. I addressed the likelihood that the Court would uphold Trump's plan. My point was that Trump's plan is plausible. Bob was wrong to criticize it as imaginary and manic.

    7. Given the lack of ethics among the newest court appointees, anything can be upheld, constitution be damned.

    8. “anti-Trump dogma“=facts.

      This has been a helpful hint from the RughtWing Noise Translator.

    9. Trump should give it a try. The unprecedented partisanship of Democrats calls for it.

    10. Trump's plan.

      His "plan"? You mean the unhinged ravings of a overgrown delinquent taking a temper tantrum on national tv? Is that the "plan" you're talking about? Bwahahaha.

      Jay Rosen‏Verified account @jayrosen_nyu · 20h20 hours ago

      Draft checklist for @whca members before calling a thing a "plan."
      * Evidence of serious deliberation among agencies and experts preceding announcement of the thing?
      * Can he explain it?
      * Is there an agency in charge of executing?
      * Is Jared involved? (Not snark. Key indicator.)
      Quoting @chrislhayes:
      Every day the president 'Does A Thing!' which is usually him *saying* he's going to do a thing. And then he can't do the thing and the thing doesn't happen. Then reporters ask, "Hey, what happened to that thing?" And he says he never said anything about the thing.

  4. I'll pity Trump while watching him continue to do an excellent job managing the pandemic and insulting the unhinged media which I enjoy.

    1. Im looking forward to seeing his head on a pike.

    2. Trump isn't that great. Actions speak louder than words.

  5. Kristof's empathy should be focused on the thousands dying and gasping for breath in their hospital beds at this moment because the WHO put them there.

    1. WHO caused the virus? What is your evidence for that?

  6. Kristof should have a word with the hate filled gay gestapo protesting Samaritan's Purse humanitarian effort in Central Park.

    "On Tuesday, a group of LGBTQ activists stood several yards away from the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital on the East Meadow lawn and blasted city and state officials and Mount Sinai Hospital for partnering with the evangelical humanitarian relief organization treating overflow patients suffering from the coronavirus."

    1. If a group of neo-Nazis is giving food to puppies and someone protests them for being Nazis, does that mean they hate puppies? Kristof should have a word with them too.

    2. Sodomy is not a good reason to oppose humanitarian aid.

    3. Hope none of the patients is LGBTQ. On the other hand, current or former pool boys get moved to the front of the line.

  7. This notion of pitying Donald Trump strikes me as off-kilter.

    Maybe Somerby is sincere about it. Perhaps deep down he thinks he is emulating Malala or Jesus by not hating one’s (political) enemies.

    Perhaps he feels it is a way out of partisan tribal hatred.

    But pity strikes me as the wrong response.

    First of all, Somerby is basing his pity on the assumption that Trump is mentally ill, which is still just an assumption, even if highly plausible.

    But secondly, can you imagine the reaction if a Republican had said something like “Obama is a tyrant, but he is mentally ill, so I pity him?” That would have been seen as the sneering contempt of a troll. It’s hard to see how The Others view Somerby’s pity any differently.

    But ultimately, it just seems like the wrong response. Somerby has been spending a lot of time lately focusing on the sideshow of Trump. Perhaps his time would be better spent examining someone like William Barr. Is he mentally ill? A sociopath? He supports and defends, even to the extent of placing the legal weight of the US behind it, the words and deeds of Trump. If you want to examine sociopathy, analyze Barr’s speech a while back to the Federalist Society. The word “pity” is the last thing that comes to mind in connection with Barr.

    There isn’t any need to hate Barr or Trump, I suppose, although hatred is a powerful motivator; one need only look at the 2016 election to see the truth of that.

    But pity seems a particularly inane, almost decadent response to a political faction like the modern GOP whose most pressing goal is the destruction of liberals and liberalism. And Donald Trump is the outward carnival-barking face of that party.

    Pity is a luxury we don’t have, particularly now at this dire moment.

  8. "As everyone knows, no money is "taken from China" in connection with our tariffs."

    And who is that 'everyone', dear Bob? Your zombie comrades?

    It is entirely possible, indeed it is extremely likely, that foreign producers have to reduce their prices - to compensate for tariffs and remain competitive.

    I don't know exact extent of it, but I would've been surprised if it wasn't happening.

    And if it is happening (perhaps you could ask the future anthropologists living in a cave inside your head?), then this amounts to exactly what Our Beloved Commander said: money taken from China.

    Think about it, dear Bob. If you can.

    1. The importer pays the tariff and the cost is passed along to the consumer, who pays an inflated price. That isn't good for consumers, especially with a recession or depression approaching and people out of work.

    2. Please read (and try to understand) the text you're replying to, before replying.

    3. Let’s suppose you are correct. The Chinese lower their prices so that lower price+tariff=price before the imposition of tariffs. They may be taking something of a loss, but that isn’t the same as saying that the Chinese paid us any money.

    4. ""As everyone knows, no money is "taken from China" in connection with our tariffs."

      And who is that 'everyone', dear Bob? Your zombie comrades?"

      This is what I replied to.

      You said that foreign suppliers might reduce their prices because of the tariffs. I said that the cost of the tariffs gets passed along to the consumer in the form of increased prices. So, I am disagreeing with your speculation that Chinese manufacturers are lowering their prices to compensate for the tariffs.

      Exactly what do you think I am misunderstanding?

    5. Corby wrote, "The importer pays the tariff and the cost is passed along to the consumer, who pays an inflated price."

      You assume that the price is based on the cost to produce and distribute the product plus a fixed profit margin. But, some prices have higher profits, depending on what the market will bear. The price of some Chinese import may have excess profit. In that case, the tariff might merely force Chinese importer to keep the same price and accept a lower profit margin.

    6. David, does that mean that China did directly pay the US Treasury billions in tariffs?

    7. Dear Corby,
      it may cost a couple of bucks to produce a pair of sneakers in China. They are then sold in the US for, say, $50. The retail price is calculated based on demand and market conditions.

      This sort of 'business practice' is the whole point of the globalist cabal your zombie cult is servicing.

      When tariffs are introduced, passing them along to the consumer would destroy the scheme: the retail price will be too high. For that price the consumer can get better quality, something made in the US or Europe.

      So, importers will adjust, reduce the import price, to keep the retail price where it was before the tariff. And thus: 'they pay us', via tariffs.

      You can disagree all you want, but this is what common sense dictate.

    8. Too bad the world doesn't operate on your version of "common sense."

    9. Whoa, that was brilliant, dear Corby. I'm crushed, destroyed. Have the last word, please.

  9. "There's beauty in the ability to care about matters like these:"

    Oh yeah, the heavenly beauty of dembottery and concern trolling!

    "but its worldwide budget (of which the United States pays about one-fifth) is less than that of some American hospital centers. "

    As far as I know, WHO's field offices are financed separately, by host governments.

    If so, its budget has nothing whatsoever to do with any "hospital centers". What it finances is a bunch of pencil-pushing bureaucrats, sitting in Geneva, one of the most expensive places on earth. With easy access to the best skiing resorts.

    If your zombie journo Kristof wants to finance them, he can wire his millions there any time. And till then, put up or shut up, as they say.

    1. It shouldn't be hard to get zombie's to kick in 500M to fund the organization killing Americans right now. Maybe Crazy Nancy can donate the proceeds from the sale of one of her refrigerators.

    2. Funding organizations killing Americans right now? No, we Democrats aren’t funding the GOP.

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