Storm Over Pennsylvania

President Trump unleashes his charms on Kim Jong-un and the voters of the 18th Congressional District.

Comments: 182

  1. The news here and there seems better
    But the motorman's under the weather,
    His judgment calls reek
    They're not what we seek
    His excuses are a dead letter.

    Trump’s pressing for a win today
    For a house seat in rural PA,
    In coarse campaign style
    The Dems did revile
    His self praise was on full display.

    He pulled out his gross graceless glops
    The style that he always adopts
    Leering and jeering
    Pres Obama, spearing
    His foes, but at Putin he stops.

  2. There was a time when Presidents
    had some modesty
    and common sense.

    Our Congress, though often strident,
    debated truths.
    Mostly honest men were made better in the whole.

    It is not now as it was before;
    the meanest block the door
    the cruel and lying win.

    What is now their angry goal? What end is it that they mind?

    Me, me, mine, MINE! ... they shout and nothing more, no vileness is to sore for suff'ring decency to blind.

  3. Great again, Larry! My mom used to say, "SPSOL - self praise stinks out loud."

  4. Anyone who pays for health insurance cares immensely about it. My coverage while slightly lowered increased 58 %. The ACA is expected to rise by 90% + over the next few years thanks to the GOP strategies. Fine for those who receive subsidies, but those like me who pay their own insurance, the middle class will be priced out of any health insurance. I now pay almost $16,000 a year--without any existing health concerns--for one person. That's 30% of pre-tax average income for my state.
    Thanks GOP; thank you for wrecking something that worked and providing nothing of value as substitute.

  5. All other industrialized countries have some form of universal government run health care, mostly single payer. They get better care as measured by all 16 of the bottom line public health statistics, and they do it at 40% of the cost per person. If our system were as efficient, we would save over $1.5 TRILLION each year. &, especially

    Some data:

    Here are the per capita figures for health care costs in 2013 in PPP dollars (which take cost of living into consideration) from the OECD:

    OECD average - 3463
    US - 8713
    UK - 3235
    France - 4124
    Australia (similar obesity) - 3966
    Germany - 4919
    Denmark - 4553
    The Netherlands - 5131
    Canada - 4361
    Israel - 2128
    Switzerland (Highly regulated private insurance) - 6325

    Let;s compare some bottom line statistics between the US and the UK which has real socialized medicine.

    Life expectancy at birth: UK - 81.1 US - 78.8

    Infant Mortality (Deaths per 1,000): UK - 3.8 US - 6.0

    Maternal Mortality (WHO): UK - 9 US - 14

    As Einstein said,

    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."

  6. >Susan
    Your comments should form part of a Government policy review that is front and center. While the nation focuses on other issues, the provisions of the ACA are quietly failing into disrepair, causing hardship to millions of Americans. When the ACA was enacted it required continuous Government support. The Republicans quickly realized that by withdrawing that support, they could enact their revenge on President Obama.

  7. so your insurance didn't go up as much as mine did because of ACA? mine went from $450/month to $1600/month in only 4 years. before ACA it only went up about 5% a year.

  8. The way to understand all these events is in terms of a cable TV drama: each episode needs a new twist, a new edged as the main character is developed with the narrative of his being an unconventional but brilliant problem solver. All fiction, all entertainment. The genius is in the script; and, while we watch, the real world continues off-stage where the authors are acting unseen.

  9. Maybe the biggest Lie that Trump told in his campaign visit to Pa. is that he was more handsome than Conor Lamb. Not only is that untrue, he is even less handsome than the Republican Rick Sacconne.
    We are really not ready for Mitt again even if he is as Dull as dishwater.

  10. Not to fear. Mitt will be quite happy as the new senator in Utah. He will vote right along the Trump party line. Just like fellow big mouth Jeff Flake. Say one thing then vote with Trump.

  11. I believe Trump has already signaled what he would do with a Democrat Congress. On prior occasions when he was unable to work with Congressional Republicans, he worked with the Democrats instead. When it comes to enacting his policies, party is not front and center for Trump. He gets so little support, he looks for it wherever he may find it. Trump doesn't much care if he's working with the Republicans or the Democrats. Wherever he finds any support at all is fine with him.

  12. Yes, he’s already signaled how he’d work with Democrats. On DACA, guns, and other issues, he’s indicated a willingness to compromise with them and then gone back on his word. Every time.

  13. Someone said, "For someone who promised to be unpredictable, DJT is pretty predictable." True.

  14. "on the larger health care question, I suspect what Americans want from that subject is to put it behind them for a decade or so."

    I don't think the millions of Americans who are currently uninsured or projected to lose their insurance as premiums rise (due to the removal of the individual mandate) want to put this subject behind them for a decade or so. What I "want from this subject" is health care for my family that we can afford.

  15. Indeed. Mr. Stephens makes it blatantly obvious that he is feeling no pain or urgency on the subject, and is oblivious to the millions who are.

  16. Although I can occasionally muster some optimism, on most days I feel convinced that the American experiment is in its final act. Faith in public institutions has vanished, elected officials have decided that career civil servants (who actually keep the vital functions of government operating) are no longer needed (or must pass ideological muster to keep their jobs), the president has convinced Americans that the media (the most important check on power) is fake, free speech (another important check on power) is under attack from left and right, and the tearing down of the wall separating church and state has resulted in the devolution of religion from moral compass to political action committee. At the same time, race-based and economic nationalism are driving policy, allowing old hatreds and prejudices to regain political power and undermining America's influence and standing in the world. Trump is a consequence of the path we have been on for a long time - he is a symptom of a greater illness in the body politic - my fear is that he is the symptom that demonstrates we have entered the terminal stage of the disease. Fellow liberals and progressives, find me some hope - I don't see it even if there is a big blue wave in the fall.

  17. gandi102,
    While sharing your pessimism, there are little rays of hope here and there among the weeds. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, leaving her post with the DNC over its dissing of Bernie Sanders and now calling for reduced military budgets, universal healthcare, fair pay of workers, is one. The high school students from Florida and elsewhere who are getting their political lessons early are another.
    A big blue wave won't do much if the DNC continues to genuflect before its corporate donors.

  18. gandhi, I agree that we have issues in our political discourse and leadership (though the label as crisis should be judged by US history which actually started before 1990 and includes the Civil War and other intra-national military actions). And before you call on liberals and progressives to set things right, let's remember that partisanship is equally toxic across the aisle. Pew Research polls (2016) found essentially the same negative and dismissve views of the Democrats by Republicans as Republicans by the Democrats. Both sides have over 50% agreement that the other party makes them afraid, angry, or frustrated. One divergence: 70% of R's thought D's are more closed-minded (50% of D's thought the same about R's).

    Perhaps the best we can say is that both sides are made of people, with our dominant biases, blindness, and emotional thinking.

  19. You better believe faith in public institutions has faded. Forty years of trickle-down economics and the corruption of both parties by big money has definitely led to this. People are giving the middle finger to everyone connected with the establishment, and rightfully so. Endless wars, greed and shamelessly lying politicians. The only reason Trump is able to get away with it is he throws the hypocrisy right back in their faces. He's like the bad boy rich kid at the country club who's insulting the well-heeled aristocratic establishment of both parties, and the caddies and staff are loving it.

  20. Exciting political candidates are almost by definition unrealistic candidates making promises that cannot be delivered. Obama was an exciting candidate, became a fairly decent president but many were disappointed in him because he could not deliver what they expected. Thus when another "exciting" candidate showed up they went for him rather than dull Hillary, who insisted that getting things done is not a walk in the park. The US badly needs politicians capable of convincing voters that spinach is good for them and give up the donuts.

  21. I wouldn't shelve health care for another decade. We should address the issue before the next crisis. This economy isn't going to last forever. A bad economy is when people really find the holes in our health care system. Better to do something now so they don't fall through one when the next crisis comes.

    Also, ten years conveniently aligns with the expiration of the Trump tax cuts. The issue will get subsumed in a debate about whether to extend the tax cuts or let them expire. The moment isn't going to be especially favorable to a heath care. Put health care on the table in 2020. Trump's attempt was an epic failure. Remind voters how Trump doesn't want them to have insurance.

  22. The president’s message to voters in Pennsylvania’s 18th District is that trade and tariff wars are easy to win and is urging the election of Republican Rick Saccone over Democrat Conor Lamb. The bread and butter issues of these voters are the aluminum and steel tariffs that the president has signed to protect them more than the North Korea and Stormy Daniels stories of the past week. This election will be a referendum of the president’s performance one year in and he can’t afford to have a Democrat win an election in a district that he won by 20 percentage points. Losses in Virginia and Alabama were embarrassing enough but a Republican loss here could predict what will happen in November.

  23. With friends like these, who needs democracy? We've got cacophony, Monopoly, plutocracy, misogamy, misogyny, duopoly, oligopoly...and a guy with hair more golden than Lassie, but nowhere near as thoughtful, kind, brave, clean, reverent cheerful, and he ain't no Boy Scout neither...

  24. Hanging "Nancy Pelosi" around a candidate's neck might not work a second time. I mean been there done that. Hillary was the noose Trump used to win the electoral college. And Nancy Pelosi may be distasteful to some, but she does not carry the baggage Clinton did. She is also in the late twilight of her career. The problem for Trump is the Trump political playbook uses the same plays over and over again. It doesn't take much if a defensive genius to develop a strategy to circumvent it. Even the NFL suspends players for bad behavior off the field. The Republican party embraces the "bad boy". So they should not be at all surprised when their "star" can't lead the team to the playoffs.

  25. You just hit on Trump's Achilles heel in 2020. No Hillary Clinton. Democrats cannot count on running against a Roy Moore in future senate contests. Trump cannot count on running against an easy mark like Hillary Clinton.

    My only fear is that democrats will yet again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They can go full blown moron and nominate their own TV clown, business dweeb, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, etc... Or play it safe and nominate a center-right corporate tool, who's main objective is to block any meaningful change, and maintain the ship as is. Tim Kaine, Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden and the other usual suspects.

    Either group insures Trump's second term.

  26. Perhaps a Dem-majority House can get him impeached before he has time to rail. A Dem-majority Senate conviction could be a record-setting cherry on top.

  27. Kim:
    A "dem majority House" could certainly impeach, but conviction would require 67 senators. The democrats have 49 at the moment. They may gain or loose a few this November. But they will never get enough votes for what you propose.

  28. It’s nice to see that Bret has come around. He wasn’t funny when he was stuck in Whigdom. The dialogues were a waste of Gail’s talents. But now the clouds have parted and it looks like wit is blessing both of the column’s participants.

  29. The blind leading the blind.
    We love liberal philosophy. Good news is bad news. Bad news is bad news.
    The scorpion rules. It is just their nature.

  30. So … who cares if the realtor gets whacked, if avoiding that outcome requires that I shave 50% off the asking price on my house? Que será … será.

    Wile E. Coyote was at his most entertaining in that split second suspended in midair, and his expression wasn’t within galaxies as entertaining as Trump’s is usually.

    Trump’s tariffs, despite Europe’s unaccustomed speed in formulating a response (hey, it’s about money, right?), won’t be imposed as written. If they are, then Trump has failed. Their purpose is to force trading partners to the table to renegotiate GENERAL bilateral trade agreements to be fairer to U.S. interests. The tariffs can remain; but like Canada, everyone willing to re-negotiate will become an “exception”, or have them vastly reduced. This is classic brinkmanship and, so far, Trump has made it work. So far, it’s worked with Kim Jong-un. But those with small hands have no business in the market.

    And Bret sounds like a Democrat, for heaven’s sake, on the Saccone-Lamb election. A “wave election”? In the teeth of all the analyses coming out, including those published by the NYT, that Democrats will be yugely disappointed with the midterm results? Just paint the man blue.

    An “abortion-reduction program that makes family planning services easily available and free”?...??! What the heck is THAT? I’m in favor of more effective “family planning services”, but I don’t even UNDERSTAND that sentence, Gail.

    This feature really needs to be billed as blue-on-aquamarine.

  31. Richard -- I presume you are a man old enough to have received the various "birds and bees" lectures?

    One might hope that the facts and means of contraception are not unknown to you?

    If so, then why does “abortion-reduction program that makes family planning services easily available and free” baffle you ... unless your "favor of more effective 'family planning services'" uses "effective" as a synonym for "more babies?"

    Among the greatest successes we have had in abortion reduction is teenage pregnancies -- they are way down compared to 20 years ago. Do you think this has been achieved by improved chastity among today's teenagers?

  32. "Your abortion-reduction plan sounds terrific to me, though on the larger health care question, I suspect what Americans want from that subject is to put it behind them for a decade or so."
    Said the man with health insurance. A majority of Americans want action on the "larger health care question." Ms. Collins states it when offering something for the Democrats to offer beyond vague commitments.
    Expanding Medicare to everyone, and eliminating the for profit health insurance participation in our system would be a great start.

  33. The abortion rate (number of abortions per woman of child bearing age) is at its lowest annual rate since abortion became legal in 1973. The teen birth rate (which means births to unmarried teenagers in about 90% of cases) also has dropped dramatically. Both are fully expected to rise in the next few years as Trump's policies take us backwards in time, eliminating programs that have been shown to be successful and eliminating broad access to birth control. Keep in mind that the core of the Republican party leadership thinks that women who have sex before marriage are immoral and undeserving of any support. Their goals are NOT to reduce unwed and/or unplanned pregnancy; instead, their goals are to shame and control women. Demeaning low income families is just an added plus. So I found it a bit ironic that the two participants in this article's conversation support more family planning. That is more "pie in the sky" than almost any "ask" of this administration.

  34. "Keep in mind that the core of the Republican party leadership thinks that women who have sex before marriage are immoral and undeserving of any support." Well said. I'd like to add if that woman is having extramarital sex with them, then it's okay, and probably quite preferable since they can continue to degrade us and try to keep us down.

  35. ".....Gail: Well, I generally don’t believe voters care much about sexual misdeeds as long as they’re getting what they want from the government. But as long as you can turn it into a campaign finance conviction, I’m good....
    Maybe this means Mitt Romney really is coming back."

    Folks Gail reaches a new level of ignorant moral expediency and her belief that the end justifies the means. "Whatever!" has become the battle cry of progressive liberalism.

    As comedian George Gobel used to say, "You just can't hardly get that anymore." Except from Gail who is dusting off her "Romney dog on the roof and dog in her belfry" material.

    Be still my heart...

  36. One sign of political awareness is the talent for seeing sarcasm when it is obvious.

  37. Such a high horse you ride -- as if "ends justify means" isn't THE unquestioned, if unspoken (outside its secret cult meetings), creed of the Republican Party!? Hilarious.

  38. In looking at the President's massive, sharpie-produced signature, it occurred to me that it looks like the squiggles produced by a lie-detector when the subject is REALLY lying. I am sure there will be many samples posted in djt's lie-brary.

  39. LGBrown, your comment about the Trump presidential library made me laugh! Envisioning a tiny little building (no books) full of a list of tweets, topped by a giant, neon sign.

  40. If Trump is successful in stalling and then firing Mueller, America will be stuck with the most horrid man to ever sit in the White House, and that includes several men whose only real claim to fame was that they grew wealthy by enslaving fellow human beings.
    Already Trump has intimidated Ukraine and Qatar, both of whom won't cooperate with Mueller because they saw how Jared's wandering around the Middle East begging for bucks resulted in a blockade of Qatar.
    Having Putin's stooge in the White House endangers us all, and threatens our constitution...a clear and present danger.
    Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

  41. Bad news to come: Saccone is going to win and that’s the 1st step in knocking a mid-term election revolt against Trump right off the rails. Democrats are running on nothing except knocking Trump (not that that’s deserved) but they have to come up with a game plan. They need to be for something not against everything. And they have to get rid of Pelosi over in the corner cackling.

  42. Trolling the Democrats is becoming quite tiring. There are loads of excellent Democratic policy stances and proposals regarding every single issue facing the American populace (nine of which are being addressed by Trumpies or Republicans). If you believe that America is stupid and/or evil (a non-zero probability), then continue to vote Republican.

  43. Tom, If you cannot see that Democrats have real commitments to women's rights, anti-racism, medical care for Americans, Gun Control, clean air & clean water for all, renewable energy and a move away from Big Corporate Oil & Gas ... Do you never listen to the news?
    Democrats have ideas, commitments and policies. Republicans have thievery, treason and gluttonous appetite for all that middle America has left in life.

  44. Trump embodies 'no-way-Hillary.' Our next nomenklatura could certainly be 'no-way-Trump.'

  45. Lies.
    Russian money laundering.
    Wall of waste.
    Destruction of government institutions.
    Childish name calling.
    Sleaze worn with pride.
    Tariffs for Dunces.
    Racist celebration.
    Tweets like foul toots.
    Admiration of tyrants.
    Spitting on allies.
    Spitting on truth.
    Spitting on law, order, justice.
    Psychopathic boasts of grandeur.
    Golf at taxpayer expense.
    Tax hoax.
    Coal hoax.
    Presidency hoax.
    America, the great laughingstock of the world.

    Of course there is much more, but isn't this enough? Haven't we had too much of Trump? Does he really represent what makes America great? What we want America to be?

    The "Storm Over Pennsylvania" is a dark cloud that extends across America. But it is not just Trump that is a Stormy cloud of darkness. The Republican Party is the source of turmoil in our civil society. They have been stirring their pot of hatred and a biases; they have been promoting ignorance and greed; they have been tearing at the fabric of our society.

    Trump and the Republican Party do not represent an America of possibilities for all our people. They must go.

  46. So what's your plan, jaberry? We all know how to kvetch; some do it in very clever ways, with words well outside the lexicon of #45. But what good is it doing? I, for one, don't need more entertainment, which is what these columns and commentary really are. Let's start a new trend. Instead of banging the same ol' drum of complaint we can submit what we actually do, like: "Today I called my state legislators to support universal background checks with H.151."

  47. The absurdity of the reality surrounding Trump and the congressional right is at an all time high. They are silently supporting realities that they generally consider as blasphemous and worthy of traitorous acumen when applied to liberals. If nothing else it is all very entertaining and almost sad enough that all that is left to do is shake our head in disgust and laugh it off.

    I have heard mentioned that Trump has given up on the process of governing, too complicated, and will go into full time campaign mode with a new slogan. "MAKE TRUMP GREAT AGAIN!"

  48. Please. Not Romney!! He's not a 'fresh-faced' older candidate, he's a two-faced candidate.

  49. I don't know. That dog-on-the-roof thing almost never gets old.

  50. These recent conversations have been very kind to my blood pressure, with relatively little knee-jerk republican dogma, but jeez, part of me almost wishes you two would disagree more.

  51. "My conservative friends keep saying, “Look, it’s not that bad,” and my reply is, “Just wait.”:

    Bret Stephens is now officially a never-Trumper except for the fact that the "never" came true.

    The world is a mess, now Rex Tillerson is gone, and one wonders whether anyone in this government will stand up to this unhinged president.

    OK, over and out to Mike Pompeo. Will he too betray his military training and become a toady to the Great One as he plans for a trip to the DRNK to meet Rocket Man who will see if this time, he really can unload that old Packard.

    Will he succeed? Will Trump drive if off into the sunset? Will Trump give away the store and trash South Korea?

    The world awaits your next "conversation," assuming there is one.

  52. I think we all need to celebrate the heroic Congressional service of the recently outed US House Representative for PA's 18th heavily gerrymandered, rigged congressional district, the great Republican Timothy Murphy who fervently represented the citizens' interests by staunchly supporting 'family values', 'pro-life' hypocrisy, and Republican fascism.

    Murphy, 64, admitted to an extramarital affair with Shannon Edwards, a 32-year-old forensic psychologist during the course of Edwards' divorce proceedings.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a text message on January 5 2017 year from his young lover that said:

    "You have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options" in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare.

    To which Murphy replied, "I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more."

    Republican Representatives have been taking you to the cultural war cleaners for decades as part of their national highway robbery plan.

    And now Rick Saccone steps up to the Christian Crusader plate.

    In 2017, Saccone defended predator Holy Roller Roy Moore from accusations of sexual assault.

    In a 2017 interview, Saccone stated that God wants those who have the "fear of God in them" to "rule over us".

    Republican Shangri La beckons, Pennsylvania !

  53. When their hypocrisy is simply inexplicable and so overwhelming, the GOP just defaults to their new Pastor Jeffers "go-to" virtue: forgiveness

  54. Fair Districts PA!!! The bills they support to turn over redistricting to an independant citizens committee are being held up. The PA Senate will hold hearings; but, no action will be taken in the PA House. And which committee chariman is digging in his heels in the House? Daryl Metcalfe. Best known for his dislike of "student" anti-NRA activists and a super "don't touch me" heterosexual.

  55. Socrates, please tell me you're doing something other than being one of the best researchers and NYTImes commenters. A book, perhaps? You are worthy of more ... I mean it!

  56. This back and forth conversation with Gail and Bret was wonderful in that it showed what a civilized conversation might look like regarding politics. Coming back to reality, politics Republican style if far different. The election tonight in my opinion doesn’t prove anything. Mid-Terms is an Oxymoron. The only thing that really matters to me is going to be when the Trump Circus leaves town and we eventually attemp to return to civility. At 79, I’m probably NOT going to see that, but I do hope and pray that my daughter and her kids and grandkids do.

  57. Quite frankly, I’m not all that far behind you in age and I pray that we will both be around to see the trump circus pack their tents and roll out of town.

  58. Hang in there, Eric. It'll be your 82nd birthday present from the American public

  59. It only seems like "we’ve had too much of spectacle and terror and freak shows" because our governing class was asleep at the wheel for the past three decades.

    They were comfortable, living in good neighborhoods, their kids in private schools, with good investments and with lifetime sinecures even if they lost their offices. And so terrorist attacks, a flood of illegal immigrants, and stagnant wage growth bothered them not a bit. They and their children never participated in the wars they started. They only saw gain in illegal, cheap labor.

    Well now, the majority is awake. They're angry, and Trump is their Tribune. The same is the case around the world, as populists sweep the stage. Of course people like Brett and Gail are going to be upset and shocked by all of this, because their lovely nap is over. They actually have a populace, and a majority, to contend with now, a majority that doesn't want what they've been selling.

  60. Um, you might want to check the definition of “majority”.

  61. Nick, you too.

  62. Donnie has already figured out who to blame if Saccone loses and who deserves all the credit if he wins. In the case of a Conor Lamb win maybe Republicans will figure out having Donnie stump for you is a bad idea and save us from his awful "rallies."
    My hope is that someday Republicans will figure out that the Trump family is stuffing their pockets with Republican tax dollars too, not just Democratic taxes.
    Just saw a news flash that Tillerson is out. Geez, the nightmare continues.

  63. Who knows what Trump really wants to happen beyond his Twitter there, but he DID try to sell Saccone as a way to keep Democrats out of Congress and having the power to impeach him.

    Yep. The number one selling point for Trump in supporting a bad candidate is saving his own hide.

  64. It's simply inconceivable that Trump's "I'm-the-only-one-who-matters", egomaniacal speeches still draw people to his rallies.

    What sane person wants to listen to this windbag brag over and over and over for 90 minutes about how great he is?

  65. Gail, great dialogue! As usual. One thing though. You imply that steel tariffs will have a negative effect on China's support on North Korea:

    "And when you hear the president saying that the North Korea negotiations will work because he has the support of China — producer of lots and lots of low-price steel — I just … crawl back under the bed."

    China is not a major source of United States steel imports. Our top sources are allies: Canada, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico.

    Due to rising domestic demand and an intentional reduction of production capacity (pollution control), prices rose and China's steel exports plunged over 30% last year.

    I doubt any of this factored into Trump's decision to raise tariffs.

  66. " last weeks big items" Last weeks big items seem like last months big items. Parkland is so yesterday. My fried brain just can't keep up. Under the bed I go.

  67. Nancy Pelosi reminds me of that film Brazil. Democrats in congress should take her out of leadership before she crumbles into dust.
    As to the money for family planning, the Republicans want punishment of sex before marriage more than fewer abortions. The first act of Trump in power was the destruction of international birth control. Does anyone think the Earth can really handle 9 billion (the best case scenario), much less the 11 billion we might have without major changes in birth control availability?

  68. It'd be nice to read a criticism of the Democrats, from the left or from the right, that didn't revolve around a gratuitous bit of misogynist guff.

  69. “though on the larger health care question, I suspect what Americans want from that subject is to put it behind them for a decade or so.”

    The above comment by Bret shows that he must have good insurance. It seems that it’s only in America that insuring a family of 3 can cost over $25,000.

    Why do Trump, Pence and Congress care? They already get good healthcare as part of the job.

  70. Bret is right. Just wait. It takes time for the effects of these policies, and all government actions, to be felt. Think about the GW Bush presidency. The first four years didn't seem so bad. The Iraq War was going pretty well. Saddam was gone. Sure the first federal budget surplus in memory had evaporated, but the economy was still very hot. Then during the next four years the effects began to take hold. Obama cleaned up the mess and made it look pretty easy. So now it's time to mess things up again.

  71. The first four years? Maybe, you meant to say the first four months.

  72. "Now the Trump catastrophe begins in earnest."

    So this must be the part in those old disaster movies when the characters you've come to know and love, (or hate as the case may be) begin making terrible choices in their exhausted condition and, completely oblivious to the shouting from those in the audience of any intelligence or who've seen this movie before, being making for the direction of their most certain death. Check - better make that everyone's most certain death.

  73. Hey Bret: I suppose you heard that the IAEA has noticed in the last few days a resumption of activities at a Plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyang. In Trump's rush to meet with Kim, he give him international legitimacy, and Kim reciprocates by poking a stick in his eye. Looks like Trump is about to join a long list of POTUSs to be suckered once again by NK. This, like previous efforts, will turn out to be yet another nothing-burger. But, hey, at least SK and NK are talking.

  74. Wouldn't it be interesting if Kim Jong-un just wanted to meet the star of Celebrity Apprentice?

    His predecessor was a big fan of American Celebs and Entertainment.

  75. Do we really want exciting? The Democrats had an exciting in the sense of experienced capable proven candidate in 2016 in Jerry Brown, Governor of the state with the 5th largest economy in the world, balanced the state budged, and led the nation in immigration reform, but as of all people Bill Maher pointed out he was KO'ed since he was too old. Too bad he is over 75 now.

  76. Insofar as Conor Lamb is neither particularly exciting nor creative in his positions, I am fine with that. Government is NOT supposed to be entertaining or exciting. It is supposed to function in a generally competent, functional manner and with a modicum of integrity. Niether Trump nor his Republican enablers in Congress have provided any of that and I would be happy with 435 Conor Lambs.

  77. The election in PA is symbolic, and I hope Conor Lamb wins, just because Saccone appears to be yet another gop cookie cutter sleaze monkey, pulled from a box of them they have stashed in a closet somewhere. A Lamb victory might mean the beginning of the end for Pelosi, which I'd argue would go a long way to helping the democrats mount that wave election. Of course they may overdo the momentum and run Elizabeth Warren in 2020, who is a great person and qualified no doubt, but not so much a compromise as a dare. A lot depends on what happens in the midterms, and thus immediately after. By that I mean a correction of the congressional malfeasance we've been plagued by for the past who knows how long. Most of us, in either party or no party, want to see some accountability, some retribution and consequences for the rampant illegality that's been masquerading as governing. The 2 intel committees would be restructured and free to act like adults, coordinate with Mueller and state A.G.s, and the entire congress could compel implementation of the Russia sanctions. Half the cabinet could be brought up on charges of dereliction of duty or worse, and the news cycle might not focus quite so much on Darth Dimento and Patty Platypus. But all that is wishful thinking for now. What is currently possible is the lawsuit Daniels brought against Trump might finally result in his tax returns going public as part of discovery. That's how they finally got Al Capone, and he died in prison.

  78. The Democrats could indeed have a wave if they put up candidates who are not really democrats. That's what they did in 2006 and 2008 to great success. Problem was that when they had to take party-line votes on Obamacare, don't-ask-don't-tell, Planned Parenthood, etc., they showed themselves to be out of touch with their districts and got swept out.

    Lamb is the same. He is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment former Marine. He will have no place in today's democratic party.

  79. You say he's pro-life. What he says is far more ambiguous, like other Democrats serving in heavily Catholic areas like Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). Lamb's own campaign staff released the following in response to his position:

    "Lamb tells anyone who asks that he’s a Catholic who doesn’t think his personal religious beliefs should restrict a woman’s legal right to choose.”

    In other words, he is squarely in the Democratic big tent.

  80. These days I'll take anybody who will oppose creeping Putinism in America.

  81. Au contraire! It is the progressive leftists who are driving centrist Democrats out of the party.

    I supported, donated, and voted for Hillary Clinton, and even I was nonplussed when the Midwest was screaming about jobs, while she was lamenting ‘Muslim sensitivities.’ I thought, who is she talking to? She’ll never win by pandering to every minority with a grievance.

  82. We can never really enjoy any of Trump’s crises.

    There’s a new one everyday, and it shoves yesterday’s disaster into the dustbin.

    We need a flowchart to keep up with it.

  83. We hear a lot about how DJT keeps his campaign promises. What about good cheap health insurance for everyone?
    Waste is not the real issue in government spending. We can always find something that sounds atrocious (remember Proxmire's Golden Fleece Awards), but those don't add up to enough to make a difference. They do serve as a great deflection from the real issue, which is taxing enough and wisely enough to pay for services people want and need.
    I doubt that Trump would like Democrats take the House or Senate in 2018. Either would open the door to Benghazi-like investigations that will keep the spotlight on the bad behavior of Trump and his minions. Unlike Benghazi, there is plenty of real misbehavior. He doesn't need that even if it would give him something to rail about.
    This is a silly conversation. The election in PA has been over-hyped by the news media, just as have other off-elections. Example that proves this point: What to Watch For ... pieces in places like the NY Times.

  84. Imagine that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un will have a great time together making up names for other world leaders and will emerge BFFs. We have no ideological beef with North Korea, they are not jihadists or anything like that. Our only issue with them is their anti-democratic nature which for Donald Trump is not an issue at all. We could drop the sanctions and support a reconciliation between North and South and perhaps in return they would stop exporting nuclear technology. There is really no way for us to force them to give up their nukes so perhaps the most prudent thing would be to get them pointed somewhere else. A united Korea would challenge China's dominance in the region and Donald Trump would no doubt thoroughly enjoy double-crossing his rival Xi Jinping.

  85. "I suspect what Americans want from that subject is to put it behind them for a decade or so."

    Only a person who can afford his health insurance could say that.
    For the rest of us, this is the Most important subject.

  86. The Democrats – or better yet, any viable 3rd party candidate - wishing to win in the current political climate, needs to deliver a three-part pledge and back it up with policy/program proposals and on- the-ground behavior:

    Pledge #1: This is an “all hands on deck” moment in America. We can no longer afford to have discarded, uninvolved citizens sitting on the sidelines. WE NEED YOU.

    Pledge #2: There is a swath of American citizens who have been sacrificed in the name of globalism and collective greed. Democrats did little to help these citizens. WE WERE WRONG. We will never do that again; and, have proposals to genuinely help disenfranchised Americans.

    Pledge #3: Before #1 and #2 have any hope of becoming a useful force in changing America for the better, we all need to take a look in the mirror and come to terms with our complicity in the current state of affairs…and BE READY TO CHANGE.

    Said another way, if former steelworkers in Pennsylvania think they are going to make middle class incomes without high school degrees (much less some form of specialized training) it not a reasonable expectation…and simply is not going to happen.

    Folks, it’s all of us…or none of us.

  87. To commenter JL1951: I know you meant “diploma”, which is granted upon high school certification. Very basic U.S. education. It leads to acquiring a full college education, and “degree”.

  88. The picture might say it all about those who still support Trump: the
    "Buy American Hire American" sign held by one of his supporters. Do his supporters not know that Trump hires workers (in other countries) to make hats and ties (manufactured in other countries)? Or do they really not care? The Cool-Aid must be amazingly good!

  89. The forced levity is a bit much, especially at the beginning of the piece.

  90. There is a big difference now with North Korea. It has missiles and nuclear weapons. A change like that does require a change in approach.

    However, the idea that Trump could actually accomplish something is delusional. Trump is both untrustworthy and untrusting. How can he negotiate a deal when he is incapable of trusting that the other will perform? Trump's the kind of guy who cannot be trusted even to pay his painting contractor and Trump thinks everyone is just like him.

  91. If you can vote in Pennsylvania's 18th District special election today, please do so.


  92. The photo, what a motley crew!
    The Collins Stephens banter is quite the waste of time.

  93. With today's (much anticipated but still surprising) "You're fired!" of the Secretary of State, Trump is raising the bar for incompetent management and organizational chaos by petty retaliation for disagreement. How does he top this one? Mattiss at Defense? Pretty much a lateral move. John Kelly? Not enough outside the box thinking there. How about Mike Pence.

    Yes, that would be a good one.

  94. Voters do not care about sexual misdeeds as long as they're getting what they want from government - spot on Gail! Roy Moore almost won the open Senate seat in Alabama despite voters knowing full well of Moore's despicable sexual past.

    But Gail, I would go you one further, voters do not care what they're elected officials are doing including illegal activities just as long as those corrupt pols continue to give them what they want. In fact, I think Trump could tweet out that he was the real Messiah and that Jesus was a fake "Fake Messiah", and Trump's evangelical support would not waver one bit.

  95. Bleh, another empty suit pretending to be a Democrat. Shades of William Jennings Bryant, leading voters from behind. File, run, and stand for something.

  96. What will it take to shakeup Trump acolytes? Nothing less than a video of Trump in a Stormy embrace. While Melania sits at home nursing the newborn crown prince. Not that anyone doubts Trump's infidelity (or refusal to wear condoms). It's just that our source of undeniable truth is now YouTube.

  97. Has anyone else noticed that "Keep America Great," when shortened to KAG, sounds like the sound a cat makes when the cat hacks up a fur ball? I can imagine Trump opponents yelling "KAG" with appropriate hacking noises with great enthusiasm.

  98. Here's what's up, Gail. The Korea gambit's a Hail Mary pass that Trump dreams could win him a second term. Not unlike Sept. 10, 2001, when Bush was on vacation again and looking bad when lo-and-behold we're attacked and his approval shoots to 90%. Here, Trump, the Chaos Kid, is drowning, in over his head, everyone's quitting or fired, but Donny's gonna do what's never been done, bring the North Koreans to heel! The fact that he hasn't the first clue what he's doing has no bearing. This is TV!

  99. Correct facts: Democrats must run in every state and local race. You do not have to do character assassination to run and win, but you can run and stick to valid, simple ideas that address LOCAL concerns.
    Nationally, Democrats must essentially ignore Trump tweets and distractions and NOT REPEATEDLY say anything about Trump lies. One and done about his idiotic proposals, dismiss him repeatedly, and move on from the lies - and pound away about how Democrats are actually going to create jobs and return fiscal sanity. Pound away at how fiscally unsound Trump is and his history use of bankruptcy and repeat it, and repeat it that Trump is bankrupting the country.

  100. The storm that brings him down! Good one. Maybe as long as the SCP is getting some the rest of us are safe?

  101. Think it is so 'American' and 'Trumpian' to assume that we, and we alone, got N.Korea to suggest a meeting between the 'two crazies' - we continue in our arrogance of our power in the world...How about the work the President of S. Korea, Moon Jae-in, did in meetings with Kim Jong to get him to that point as well? If I remember correctly, S. Korean president and human rights lawyer, Moon Jae-in, was elected on premise of moving to achieve peaceful reunification with N.Korea as part of his platform back in 2017.

  102. I like the idea of an abortion reduction plan; the right wing media treat a woman's right to choose an abortion as if a pregnant woman just can't wait to have one. It is often a very painful decision to make. One solution is free access to full gynecological services and to birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Another is early sex education in our schools to the same end.

    The problem is that a block of Evangelical Christians want their cake (abstinence by all unmarried Americans) and want to eat it to (when this results in unwanted pregnancies, for the couple or single woman to be forced to have the child and raise it; often in poverty). The Evangelicals who are so concerned about their own religious freedom but do not respect anyone else's.

    We all realize (right?) that most of Trump's Cabinet prays each week together under the televangelist Paula White, so this 25% of America has an inordinate influence over our President. Their influence and that of Vladimir Putin are the strange combination (bedfellows) that we are seeing here.... In addition to his own narcissistic behavior...

    So the Evangelicals as they wreak havoc in their own way, create more reason to pray, every day. It rhymes.

  103. The American insatiable need for charisma has led us to allow Gore, Kerry & Clinton lose elections. I'm all for boring and super competent.

  104. Donald J. Trump's recent 'stump speech' near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania confirms it: Don Rickles, Adolf Hitler and Professor Irwin Corey are living inside El Presidente's head, pounding down shots of tequila trying to drink one another under the table. He is their vessel, through which they impart their wisdom to The Fatherland!

    Tuesday morning whiplash! The ax has fallen again, this time on Rex Tillerson at the State Department, replaced by that ardent fan of human rights and waterboarding, Mike Pompeo. 'He will be fantastic!' tweets El Presidente.

    Of course he will. For at least six months. Until he forgets to genuflect, meaning he's not so fantastic after all.

  105. I guess if Rome is burning and all you have is a violin, you fiddle. But let's not forget: though amusing chit-chat is nice, Trump is the most dangerous man in the world, perhaps the history of the world, or that he was installed by Russia specifically because he is an imbecile, and he is coming apart while enabled and encouraged by fascist crackpots, bleating morons in red hats. and the smash-and-grab greed-heads that own the GOP. The sooner he is removed from power the fewer innocent people will die prematurely, either because of his social policies, his climate policies, or his unhinged and violent impulses. A toddler with a loaded revolver is funny in a cartoon, not so much in real life.

  106. Well put madam/sir!

  107. Absolute classic column.

  108. I think Collins' last line turn out to be prescient.

  109. Liberals like to talk ad nauseum about how dangerous trumps words are for the national mood or psyche and yet not one Democrat or liberal has come out today to talk about how Hillary Clinton's words in a forum overseas suggested that half of America is racist and hateful and misogynistic. Do you think she is doing America any favours? You think she is helping other countries respect America when she suggests over 150 million Americans don't like blacks or Indians or women??? Her words are disgraceful and she should be called out for them and on that note the democratic congressmen and women who support and are seen with Farrakhan should also be called out for it much like liberals would call out any Republican who would be hanging out with David Duke. Liberal have to stop this hypocritical nonsense where party is being placed before country. We get that you have to support your side but must you abandon your very own bedrock principles which you claim to have??

  110. I'm not sure if this news made it to Canada, so here it is: Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States. Trump is, and the things he says and does are indeed dangerous to this country and should be focused on by citizens. These primal screams of "but Hillary!" are not conducive to anything and do not assist in solving America's current crop of serious problems.

    And while no one should be placing party before country, the Republicans have elevated that particular action to an art form. They threw their "bedrock principles", whatever those might have been, right out the window when they hooked their wagon to Trump's disingenuous, self-serving train.

  111. What are you talking about?! A speech Hilary Clinton made years ago when she was Secretary of State? Weird. Why do Republicans continue to beat on Hilary? She didn't win, okay? She's not the President. The problem now is our current President talking about "junk countries". You talk about Democrats abandoning "bedrock principles"? What about the current "Republican" in the White House? Let's see -- Free Trade? No. Fiscal Responsibility? Nope. The Rule of Law? Oh, no. Family and Christian values? Ha! Belief in intellectual rigor and knowledge? William F. Buckley is spinning in his grave like a blender.

  112. Today, the people of Western Pennsylvania, need to do a mea culpa for the dastardly mistake they made in '16. They and those in Michigan and Wisconsin should have known better. Voting for Trump? How could you? The most incompetent buffoon imaginable, you voted for. Unbelievable.

    One of many reasons we "elite" New Yorkers made fun of poorly educated workers is not because we think you're stupid. It's because, at least in my case, I thought hard-working Americans made up in common sense was they lacked in sheepskin. They're down-to-earth, not like we city slickers, who can get caught in frivolous inanities. The common folk had an instinct for seeing right through a snake oil salesman like Trump. Yet, somehow those senses failed them.

    What on Earth we're you thinking? You can't believe that character millions of you watched on the TV was real, did you? Trump has spent his entire career as a flimflam man, a sharpie, the worst used car salesman you could conjure up. He's a joke, and you voted for him. Now, in the sanctity of the voting booth, you can redeem yourselves. You can follow the good advice of your Unions, and vote for the Democratic candidate. This was the party of the Unions, the party of the working people. It is not the party of FDR, sad to say. Many Dems have lost their way. We need to return to our core values, and the working class, no matter what race, color, ethnicity they are need to come home.


  113. DD -- you are writing from Manhattan and I am writing from Queens -- and New Yorkers have known Trump for a long time, and despise him. His antics and depravity are old news, and the people he has cheated entirely typify the "fool me once, fool me twice" line. There are a lot of them around here.

    Even Staten Island (for those of you reading from far away Staten Island is the only borough of New York City that votes Republican) would vote for any reasonable conservative over Trump -- one need only look at the tortured efforts of Dan Donovan to triangulate the increasingly-impossible to see that Trump is probably the most-loathed man in town.

    When a politician is hated in their home town -- that's a message. Now people across the country are seeing why.

    I don't know what fraction of Trump voters actually want what Trump brings -- I hope it is small. It's the end of the American experiment in democracy if we are taken over by a grotesque Putin wannabe.

  114. Dear L. Harrison:
    Thanks so much for adding to the chorus of New York naysayers. I guess folks outside our area think we're all a bunch of pretentious New York elites who haven't a clue how the "real America" lives, works, and thinks. To make it here, we know, you can make it anywhere. This is not a easy city to take on, unless of course your parents are wealthy. And even then there are no guarantees.

    We who have lived here, listening to the bull Trump has been throwing for decades, laughed when Trump finally threw his hair into the ring. We counted the days until Trump flamed out. Surely no upstanding Christian Evangelical decent law-abiding Republican conservative would buy Trump's claptrap. They may hate Hillary because of listening to years of FOX "news" propaganda, but surely they wouldn't be fooled again by this con man Trump. No way, right? Go figure.

    We'll see tonight in Western PA. to see if that Blue Tide is for real and is gaining in strength. Indeed we shall see. Thanks again for your comment.


  115. Can we go back to dishwater after the clown train we've been on, it should not be either or, we need better choices.
    And now Tilllerson is gone, is it because he said Russia was responsible for the nerve gas attack.

  116. It's truly a sad, demoralizing day when we are upset that Rex Tillerson is no longer around to maintain the dismantled Stat Department. And it's extremely sad and extremely demoralizing when it's justified.

  117. I've tried to distill this American tragedy into the fewest words explaining the most phenomena. Here's my latest draft: A family of amoral grifters led by a toxic, malignant narcissist.

  118. "... What's the name of the act? "The Aristocrats."

  119. How arrogant it is for a columnist to speak for all voters. As an American Pennsylvanian voter I do care about sexual misconduct, national security, the environment and the economy. What I want from my government is the opportunity to positively impact those issues in my own life. I believe that is called Democracy.

  120. On a different note, thanks for the chuckle this morning...

  121. I really think a Gail Collins vs. Bill O'Reilly commentary would be much more entertaining. Gail could step aside left of center which is where she belongs and O'Reilly would bring aboard all sorts of new "readers" (using that word loosely since I'm not sure Fox news watchers know how to read) to the NYT, who might just learn something outside their bubble.

  122. What did this conversation add to understanding the race in PA? Or to understanding tariffs? Or understanding the N. Korean "offer?" Seriously, NYT, these "conversations" are a waste of ink. Try some conversations with real people about the state of our nation, not pundits trying to outsnark each other.

  123. Trump could feed North Korea with three fish and a basket of bread and the left would complain he is violating the sanctions. The left has complained about literally every breath Trump has taken since he has gotten into office. Somehow the left believes that the "flyover country bumpkins" or "deplorables" (take your pick of NYT commenter sanctioned terms) are not going to notice this unending criticism of Trump and elect liberal elitists in flyover country this fall. Yeah right, and Lipscomb college is going to be the NCAA basketball tournament winner too.

  124. Jordan, what patriotic Americans are complaining about is an amoral "leader" completely unable to lead:
    - who lies constantly, more than 2,000 lies so far;
    - whose entire grifter family is profiting off his presidency;
    - who spends a quarter of his time golfing (and destroying the budget of the Secret Service who he charges to rent golf carts to protect him);
    - who insults our allies and emboldens our enemies;
    - who is unable to criticize Vladimir Putin or acknowledge Russia's interference in our election;
    - who is rolling back regulations that provide us with clean air, clean water, and safer work environments, and is selling off our national monuments to oil and gas interests;
    - who mocked a disabled person and gives infantile nicknames to everyone who dares challenge him;
    - who insults Gold Star widows and parents;
    - who routinely cheated his subcontractors and drove some small businesses into bankruptcy;
    - who declared bankruptcy himself 6 times but always seemed to profit from it while leaving others holding the bag;
    - who cheated on all 3 of his wives and tried to buy off a porn star he'd had an affair with;
    - who never released his taxes, breaking decades of precedent;
    - who criticizes our free press and encourages violence against journalists;
    I could go on and on, but I'm running out of room. If none of this bothers you, then I suggest you go back to Lipscomb College and take a course in Civics or American Government, or perhaps Philosophy and Morals.

  125. Bret isn't from "the left".

  126. Gail! You didn't mention Romney strapping the family dog to the roof of their vacation-bound station wagon! This omission, alongside Bret's own admission that "for the past year, [he's] felt that the country has been suspended over air like Wile E Coyote [or Trump's coif] in those gravity-defying seconds before he takes the plunge to the canyon floor," made my day. Thanks, guys!

  127. I wonder what's gong to happen, when it becomes clear even to the most rabid Trumpists that the things they're chanting faster and faster, more and more frantically, just aren't true?

  128. Trump will replace Gary Cohn with another sad sycophant, nothing good for the U.S. will come from interacting with Kim on some ersatz "nuclear deal," and the tariffs will be lifted after the PA special election. You see, Trump needs some exercise, and the main way he gets it is by walking back whatever spews out of his mouth. He also dodders around on golf courses and lifts cheeseburgers to his mouth.

    Trump cannot be trusted on anything; he is as fluid as water. And speaking of water, he couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag. He lied to the Parkland kids about guns, clearly indicating he has no spine in standing up to the NRA. The only thing worth betting on with Trump is that he is worth nothing to anyone except himself. Let's hope the stripper brings him down and puts us out of our collective misery.

    The press is like a Porsche raring to get out onto the highway of substantive issues, but it is locked up on the showroom floor. It is a pity, but eventually we will have a president, and a government, worth writing and talking about again. Someday. Until then, don't wear yourselves out revving your engines. The pendulum of sanity will swing back, soon enough. It always does, since our survival depends on it.

  129. Both make a good case for compromise. If the Democrats want to retake the House and Senate, their left wing needs to accept the necessity of bringing in Independents and middle of the road Democrat voters. They need to understand that as they and many middle of the road Democrats are horrified by what the right wing is doing, there are many middle of the road Democrats and Independents who are horrified at what they propose.

    Nancy Pelosi has become a negative symbol for the far right and middle of the road Republicans. Although she has stood for many positive progressive ideas, maybe it is time for her to step down because of the reality of the situation.She has done so much for the progressive cause and sadly now needs to understand there are others who can take her place and continue her fight.

  130. Compromise? Where's the case for compromise - how do you compromise with a party and their supporters who are not interested in governing when they feel they can rule?

    And, Oh yeah... so anytime a Republican smear machine gets going, the target needs to get off their perch? Is that to be the response of Democrats? They are already lining up Adam Schiff to be the next smear target so I guess we should all tell him to forget it and go home.

  131. Moxnix67
    Reread this article. There are some compromises that can be make if we can vote some normal people into government in 2018.

  132. Great conversation again, folks. Romney could well be on his way back. voters having been desensitized from dogs traveling on car roofs. And Trump having blown out the nerves of Republican voters.

    Trump has to stop with his demagogic attempts to titillate heartland Republicans and, instead, come up with some beneficial policies. I agree with Gail, Trump's tariffs were aimed at the Pennsylvania election and meeting with Kim is to divert attention from his involvements in Russia and, uh, in, Stormy Daniels. Nixon goes to China, Trump goes to North Korea. But Trump has no Kissinger. And North Korea has nothing whatsoever that the U.S. wants.

    Are there bets in Las Vegas on whether the meeting with Kim will happen? As the Mueller investigation closes, and as the Stormy Daniels legal team makes its effective move, they raise the chances on the North Korea meeting. They should hold it at Mar-a-Lago. Trump could invite Putin. Guests would refrain from consuming anything, and then wash their clothes afterward.

    That would *really* give Kim the credibility that he is looking for.

  133. I love these conversations generally because they discuss serious topics in a mindful way with Gail delivering a comic salvo. However I do take issue with Bret in his statement "on the larger health care question, I suspect what Americans want from that subject is to put it behind them for a decade or so". To the contrary Bret, there are many of us with serious and budget crushing concerns regarding health care costs - not the least being premiums and deductibles. There are many of us who want the health care system problems dealt with and solutions found with urgency. Politicians ignore this at their peril. Health care is a universal concern and needs addressing pronto.

  134. I'm afraid Bret is right about KJU. I call them "brothers from another mother" and Colbert was hysterical about this in his pre-show opener last night. "U.S. - North Korea Preliminary Negotiations":
    [Do click through, it's short and amazing!]

    However, people who knew KJU in school say he was pleasant and had a sense of humor. That's quite different from bully Trump. KJU's education and background haven't allowed a lot of leeway, and he is a proven murderer, but I suspect he has more in his brainbox than atrophied selfish Trump.

    The "selling the same used car" is brilliant.

    I am so glad Gail Collins now has a worthy foil in these discussion.

  135. Though BS's dismissal of health care is unconscionable. The ignorance of privilege ... isn't he in Germany?

    The latter part of this article I'm 100% with Gail.

  136. Wonder how voters see the change in Secretary of State, as more chaos and business as usual, a turn too far to the right for some or not far enough for others, or if they'll have enough time to process it before voting. Perhaps exit polls will ask about it.

  137. What's changed with North Korea is that they now have nuclear missiles that can reach the US. That makes them feel much more confident coming back to the negotiating table. Optimistically, it might also make them more confident in liberalizing in some ways, perhaps in the same model as China, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Most likely they will seek to improve their economic situation by easing sanctions while making cosmetic compromises on nuclear disarmament or increased cooperation with South Korea. Everyone is very eager to claim a win here, to the degree that a "win" will likely be manufactured.

  138. Economic brain trust? Ignoramus trust, more like it.

  139. "My conservative friends keep saying, “Look, it’s not that bad,” and my reply is, “Just wait.” " Bret Stephens
    Please,for the love of Webster and Roget can we please stop calling these people conservatives. They are not.
    A real conservative would point out that a Russian tsar does not get to choose our president and his cabinet.
    A real conservative would point out that trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the very richest among us; while exploding our deficit and debt is not good economics.
    A real conservative would point out that someone who campaigned on becoming dictator is not acceptable to our American way.
    A real conservative would point out that the way to "Make America Great Again" is not by smashing all of our protocols, institutions, traditions, and moral standing.
    Anyone not standing tall and telling truth to the so called president, our fascist idiot in chief, is not conservative.

  140. Oh what a relief. At my first quick glance at your headline, I thought it said
    "Storm Over Pennsylvania Avenue". My bad.

  141. Did you mean 'StormY' Over Pennsylvania?

  142. Tanking the US economy by instagating a trade war is all part of the Russian puppet-master's master plan.

  143. Look at that picture of support. Any questions?

  144. WE keep talking about Trump and his idiots when we should befinding answers to the problems that face us.

    WE have gotten to the point in this country that we believe our problems have no solutions. The ideological divide and lack of trust we have for another is causing us to be indolent.. But while Trump paralyzes us and capitalizes on our divisions, real problems go unsolved.

    Would decent people throw 2 million people out of the country (the 'dreamers')? Or build a ridiculous wall on our border? Or deny healthcare to tens of millions while giving enormous tax breaks to corporations?

    Mr. Trump represents the worst of us. He is a reminder of what we are capable of at our nadir. And a warning about safeguarding our liberty from tyrants.

  145. This is already outdated with Tillerson's departure's exhausting just keeping up but thanks for the laugh. We are further into the realm of sycophant city with Pompeo and now, introducing for those of you who threw your T.V.s out the window....Larry Kudlow. Remember Kudlow and Kramer? Trump says he almost has the cast he wants. I'm waiting for Gary Busey to be named Surgeon General.

  146. Gail, Bret: I'll call the PA special election for you. The Democrat, to Win, by 3 to 5 points. Optimistic ??? Until today, maybe. But the last grown - up in the Trump Regime was fired by Twitter, just hours ago. Even Trump fans may just hunker down, and stay home. For the remaining undecided voters, this may push them over the edge. Another spiteful act by Trump, apparently due to Tillersons' lack of loyalty. And we ALL know what that really means. Democrats : Get off your couch. Vote. Take your friends, drive your neighbors. This is important. Don't sit out.
    Submitted at 3:00 p.m. CST.

  147. Watching clips from Trumps rally in Pittsburg, it occurred to me that his audience bares a great similarity to the audience that used to cheer bizarre behavior on stage at the Jerry Springer Show.

  148. In another article at the Times, hockey great Wayne Gretzky is quoted as saying, "You miss 100% of your shots if you don't take them."
    Somebody should tell the DCCC to at least show up at the rink if they want to win the game. Lamb is good but give him something other than a balsa wood stick. For god's sake, fund the man. He's got the talent and he can win.

  149. "Now the Trump catastrophe begins in earnest."

    Mr. Trump announced tariffs and the North Korea meeting without consulting anybody. A destructive trade war is likely. Trump would abandon our own security interests in East Asia and our (not white) allies in East Asia. Competent if unethical people are disembarking. Harsh partisans and other sycophants are playing musical chairs in the West Wing. White House economists provide the theory that supports Dear Leader's intuition. South Korea and North Korea are manipulating Trump. Who has denied that Russia killed the spy in England. Con men are the biggest suckers in the world. Everybody has his number. The thing that looks and quacks like white supremacy and racism is ascendant, vis-a-vis DOE, Mr. Bannon. Trump's nominee for State met secretly with sanctioned high level Russian intelligence officers who should not have been permitted to enter the country. Nobody is doing anything to oppose present and future Russian interference. In fact, it looks as if Trump and his Republicans are looking forward to Russian help in 2018 and 20.

  150. Gail and Bret- I really like this format. Aan excellent example to others that we indeed can talk to each other and share ideas without- lawyers - guns and money.
    Thank you

  151. Personally, I think bland and boring would be swell if it applied to politics and banking and manufacturing and the news. I'm ready for bland and boring, people!

  152. It must be tough writing a current affairs column when the chaos in the West Wing renders any story or news more than 12 hours old immediately stale. But I do enjoy these conversations--please keep them up!

  153. If we could get Medicare for all, I'd cheerfully pay more in taxes to help finance it, and hopefully put the ponzi scheme of the US insurance business OUT of business. And while we're at it, only Democrats will ever vote for cost controls on prescription drugs, and only if the voters turn out and take back the House and Senate this November.

  154. Trump will drop the tariffs by the end of the week.

  155. Gail and Bret, news flash, which you probably knew before us readers. Re North Korea, Pompeo is now in charge as Secretary of State. Granted, Tillerson was, let's just say, an odd choice, but Pompeo and Trump? The war of egomaniacs, i.e., Trump and Kim, has been reignited. Tariffs will be falling off the cliff with Wile E. Coyote in the triage, or trifecta, of DC importance. The Road Runner will be heading for underground shelter followed by most Americans.

    Now, Pennsylvania... Who knows? But in a few hours we will know. I do think however it will tell us a bit about our present mind-set. Are Pennsylvanian's wearing out like the rest of us? Boy, I hope so. Will unions FINALLY reemerge to help our labor force? Good news, indeed. Anyway, please resume your dialog mañana, Gail and Bret. In fact, with news happening at the speed of light, making it a daily conversation would be fine with me.

  156. I think Trump will care about the mid-term elections because it could have a great impact on him if Mueller finds a smoking gun (what an ironic metaphor for this President). I can't imagine the current House and Senate voting for impeachment even if they had hard evidence against Trump.

  157. So Bret Stephens is for fighting waste. He would start with Ryan Zinke's doors. They cost us $139,000. He clearly avoids mentioning the Pentagon thought, where we could add about 6 zeros to the waste savings.

  158. Zinke's doors are a waste of taxpayers' money. So is his salary. Will Trump fire him? Of course not, because he's completely nuts and doesn't believe in science. Trump's kind of guy.

  159. Crossfire it ain't.

    Even GC noticed about two thirds into the "debate" that they hadn't disagreed yet. It's like when the Martians invade in the movies and the whole world comes together to fight them. How can there be reasonable debate about our politics when no one capable of reason has anything good to say about the President?

  160. "How can there be reasonable debate about our politics when no one capable of reason has anything good to say about the President?"

    38% of the country will be glad to fill in.

    Oh, you mentioned reason! On second thought, it will be a tough search.

  161. I have to agree with Gail's final comment. I'm ready to vote for anyone who has this as a campaign slogan: "I'm not exciting or an outsider. I'm simply competent and I'm here to make sure that government is competent."

  162. Another possible slogan: REST; Restore Equality, Sanity, and Tranquility

  163. By competent, I hope you mean not bought and paid for by lobbyist and big money donors because that is how we got Trump.

  164. I've always enjoyed this column and the banter between Gail and the more conservative guest columnist with whom she sparred. I appreciated the respectful disagreements and learned what intelligent people on the other side of the aisle viewed issues. Am I the only one now that is very nervous about how much these two agree on the level of disaster we may be facing from President Trump?

  165. no you are the only one who can stand this kind of BS. Most of us prefer the honesty of John Oliver. Mika and Joe, i mean Gal collins and Bret Stephens - garrrrgh. urp. bleaggh.

  166. I thought from the headline that this column was about the weather around Pittsburgh and its effect on the outcome of the Pennsylvania congressional election. Seriously, is a one-day mid-week election day that can be so affected by weather the way a modern democracy should vote?

  167. Bret says about health care, "I suspect what Americans want from that subject is to put it behind them for a decade or so."
    Unless those Americans are sick, have a pre-existing condition and are losing their insurer, live in states where Republicans refuse to fund Medicaid, or have friends and relatives in those situations. Then all of a sudden "that subject" is of life and death importance. Meanwhile, the Republicans are touting cheap health insurance that won't cover what you really might need, but what the heck, it's cheap, right?

  168. I would love to believe that the meeting with Kim and Trump will occur and that it will lead to some de-escalation of North Korea's nuclear program. KIm has publicly stated that he will stop testing pending the talks. This is something that he can be held to and some diplomatic steps taken to ratchet down the risk. But we have no ambassador to South Korea. We have virtually no one left at State to advise the president. He is surrounded by tinpot military men with virtually no experience in public or international policy. Maybe Javanka will lead our nation to safety. Somehow I doubt it.

  169. Trump refused to say, for several days, anything about the murder of a former spy and the poisoning of his daughter and a London police officer by Russian agents. Rex Tillerson said something and Trump fired him. Now Trump says he'll condemn Russia only if May comes up with concrete proof Russia was behind it.

    Bret hints that Stormy may be what brings Trump down. The real story, that the Republican Congress refuses to see, is that Stormy isn't Trump's true love. Putin is.

  170. "Even while the president chooses diplomacy over belligerence with Pyongyang," Stephens says. Must have been early in the day, before Tillerson was out and Pompeo was in.

  171. I really don't see how a trade war can work in the world of Internet. Can we just go onto the Darkweb and get steel and aluminum like drugs and subvert the US government?

  172. For the last 30 years both parties have systematically gutted American towns, cities and communities. Industry disappeared, jobs left, manufacturing shut down, every conceivable manufactured item from overseas was imported and Americans were told the same lie over and over again that Unions, the other party, high wages, high energy costs, high taxes (or not enough) were the direct causes of the problems. The problem was the politicians.
    So, I don't care who wins. I lived in PA for more than 55 years. Both political parties are corrupt, evil and totally removed from the realities that ordinary people deal with. We were betrayed by Governor Rendell, Corbett and everyone else before them. We have been betrayed by the state legislature and the federal government too. Nothing will change.
    I don't care anymore. And I should also mention the corrupt influence of the media that tries to make everything a crisis. I'm not a reactionary but I long for some of the decency of the 1950s and 1960s. We knew who was corrupt then and didn't have to be fooled. Now they're all corrupt and fooling no one.

  173. You forgot to mention technology, the move to robots. (which work 24 hour shifts w/o complaint, don’t want pensions or health care, and don’t do drugs.)

  174. Every time Gail mentions Romney, my first thought is, "that poor dog."

  175. Can we not have this disgusting buttering- up episodes printed in the NYT? To have both of these also-rans getting a full paycheck for scratching each other back is revolting..
    Really. It is as bad as watching Mika and Joe, which I never can stand..Please NYT, can this whole concept, and get some credible intelligent people in the comment section.

  176. why are you reading it then? I love Gail. The NY Times should not only keep her they should give her a raise. I find her column to be witty and smart. I don't really follow Bret Stephens.

  177. Ms Thorsen,

    I have no idea why you are tho thore at Gail and Bret.

    They help some of us also beings in the general public, put the world's nonsense into proper perspective!

  178. Trump and the Art of The Deal: He's just selling the American public a different bridge over the East River. There is absolutely nothing he can accomplish by negotiating with Kim Jong-un.

    The terrible infant is probably laughing at our great leader for paying for a few stormy hours when he just takes what he wants. I wouldn't be surprised if the porno incident made the NK monster think that Trump was easy pickings.

    If Goldman Sachs doesn't like the tariffs and threatens to take the market down, do you really think Trump will be able to bring his "Pro Steel Worker" plans to fruition? Wait until the Tuesday election is over!

  179. Donald IS being outsmarted by a porn star. Absolutely delicious, especially when mentioned to his " religious " fans. Fake news, of course. Maybe they will finally believe, when someone leaks the pictures and/ or tapes.
    Then again, perhaps Stormy is a Clinton plant. Right ????? LOL.

  180. Why are articles like this one almost always accompanied by photos of Trump supporters?

  181. "The Democrats should come up with a real plan on health care that gets rid of the massive, wasteful bureaucracy we’ve got now. Maybe a version of Medicare for all, after all."

    The Democrats have such a plan and have had such a plan for more than a dozen years. It's HR 676. Keith Ellison just took over the leadership of the bill. Please, Gail, look it up and read it and talk about it. There are 121 Congressional Democrats signed on this bill, almost 2/3 of the current Democrats in the House.

  182. 'That's it, Folks!' shouted my husband, as the car soared in slow motion on the highway and landed in an embankment ditch. Silence. I clasped the gold retriever around his neck in the back-seat, none the wiser, and then started on a laughing jag 'we're all right, we're all right!' before bursting into tears of relief.

    It was during The Gasoline Wars. Perhaps less traffic on Memorial Weekend saved our lives, perhaps it was St. Christopher. The Patron Saint for travelers had been in my thoughts only seconds before we had a tire blow-out.

    And Look where We are Now. Here comes the All-White American Club for The Government, by the Government and for People in The Government. The N.R.A. is riding high, the South will continue to have Ku-Kux-Klan meetings, The Republican Party is in for a Second-Term, with or without Trump, who would be missed for not keeping us on our toes in a state of suspense and bated breath.

    Stormy Weather is brewing in the shapely form of a pair of generous milk jugs; teachers will get guns to make sure our students get their history lessons right, and America will soon be known as The Land of The Fat Heads, by every Civilized Nation across the borders.

    Happy 2018 The Year of The Dog!