Can Biden Win with a Message of Unity?

Despite an atmosphere of divisiveness, Joe Biden wants to put aside anger and embrace a message of unity. This was one of the main takeaways from his official campaign launch speech on Saturday. But when Donald Trump is your adversary, can unity win the day? More at NPR.

He is correct that many Democrats are angry about what has unfolded in the Oval Office, Congress and Republican-dominated states such as Alabama in the past two years. But he should be careful not to downplay that anger, which drove millions of voters to turn out in 2018 and give Democrats control of the House.

Biden’s pitch comes down to: I’ve done it before, so I can do it now. Sure, that sounds nice, but it’s completely unrealistic to expect bipartisanship from today’s Republican Party whose win-at-any-cost ethos got us a Trump presidency. And it’s also unrealistic to expect Democrats to calm down when their rights are under assault.

Biden’s speech was centered around a “unity” theme, set against Trump, who he called the “divider in chief.” [.] It was an escalation of the back-and-forth between Biden and Trump, and one of the most aggressive efforts from any 2020 Democrat so far to directly talk about the president’s divisive and racist rhetoric. Biden’s not alone among the Democratic field in making denunciations of Trump central to his campaign.

Will the GOP’s Abortion Policies Backfire in 2020?

For some time, the accepted GOP wisdom was that Trump should make the economy the focus of his bid for a second term. Do the GOP’s recent moves on abortion threaten to disrupt the Republicans’ 2020 messaging?

Democrats hope the issue will drive voters up and down the ballot, starting with the presidential race, and that they can close the intensity gap among voters who cast their ballots with an eye on the Supreme Court. But abortion is likely to be especially critical in Senate races given the chamber’s role in shaping the courts, which will decide the long-term impact of these new laws.

I understand why some anti-abortion lawmakers refuse to make an exception for rape. If you truly believe that every human embryo is a person, then that person’s life should be protected, regardless of how he or she was conceived. But politically, the Alabama ban is catastrophic. If it becomes the focus of the national abortion debate, it won’t just mobilize people who believe in women’s rights. It will alienate people who believe in punishing criminals and protecting their victims. It will turn conservative America against itself.

The president must maintain evangelicals’ committed backing to win a second term, and has clearly decided that he will try to frame the election as part of a culture war, even as he talks about the strength of the economy. By speaking so directly of his opposition to abortion, Mr. Trump is putting himself squarely on one side of perhaps the nation’s most divisive social issue.

Does Netanyahu Want Trump to Go to War with Iran?

Netanyahu was one of the world’s biggest opponents of the Iran Nuclear Deal – but does that mean he’s pleased with how things are going now? The Iran Deal has collapsed. Tehran is threatening the resumption of uranium enrichment and Trump, urged on by John Bolton, is considering war. Is this what Bibi wants?

Israel is now trying to downplay its support for the stance of US national security adviser John Bolton, who advocates for direct conflict with the Iranians and is therefore considered the most hawkish in the administration. According to someone who has worked with Netanyahu on military matters for years who spoke on condition of anonymity, “It should be obvious that behind closed doors, Netanyahu is praying that Bolton succeeds in convincing the president to launch a military attack on Iran, but this cannot be too obvious…”

Yes, Netanyahu’s government would welcome the Iranian regime’s sudden implosion, but not at the price of war. To suggest otherwise is to fundamentally misunderstand Israeli security strategy… If Iran went to war with America, Iran’s proxies in Lebanon and elsewhere would do the same against Israel. That would mean a full-scale rocket onslaught from Lebanese Hezbollah against Israel. It would also mean assassination and bombing campaigns against Israeli government officers and civilians around the world.

The remaining options are both unpalatable for Netanyahu. The first is that Iran will resist recently fortified economic sanctions and continue to incrementally abandon its commitments under the 2015 nuclear accord… The second is a military flare-up between Iran and the U.S., which may or may not cripple Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure but is certain to inflict human suffering, financial upheaval, escalating internal strife in Washington and the certainty that Netanyahu will be held responsible for them all. Worse, Trump may eventually reach the same conclusion.

How Do You Define Islamophobia?

A working definition of Islamophobia (“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”) proposed by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was rejected by the British government. Some worry that such a definition would impinge upon free speech.

…the belief that Muslims are some invading, corrupting force that is usurping and replacing the native population. There is no mention of Islamic doctrine, no criticism of Islam as a religion, legitimate or otherwise. The abuse merely claims a general intent of its followers, whoever they are, to take over the country. But this still isn’t clear enough for many who believe engaging with anti-Muslim prejudice will jeopardise law enforcement, free speech, and even historical inquiry.

When you realise that the definition proposed would mean some of the government’s own counter terror legislation and at one point its own London mayoral campaign would be classified as Islamophobic, it is no wonder the party is in a state of denial and wishes to exonerate itself of any such accusation.

By officially recognizing the offense of “Islamophobia,” we open the door to the worst consequences. The German judge who refused to grant a Muslim woman a divorce from her abusive husband in 2007 did so on the grounds that [his behavior] was culturally acceptable and sanctioned by the Quran. Many more such incidents will become normal for fear of accusations of racism and Islamophobia.

Should “Distracted Walking” Be Banned?

You’ve seen them before, and you’ve likely been one of them before: one of the zombies walking through a crowded city with his or her eyes on their phone instead of on what’s in front of them. Should this potentially dangerous behavior be banned? New York is one of several cities considering it.

…distracted driving and speeding remain huge obstacles in New York City’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities by 2024 , and those should be addressed first.

All pedestrians, with the possible exception of those reading this editorial right now, should give full attention to their surroundings, particularly in an intersection. Stop playing Candy Crush. Stop tweeting. Maybe even pull those AirPods out of your ears; they look sort of ridiculous anyway. But let no lawmaker pretend that people minding their business on their own two feet are anywhere near as culpable for traffic tragedies as people behind the wheels of cars, trucks and buses heavy enough to take a life in the blink of an eye.

…pedestrian deaths skyrocketed to 65 so far this year, up from 50 at the same time in 2018. “[The bill] does not say you can’t talk on the phone,” John Liu, the New York state senator who introduced the bill said, according to The Guardian.

“We’re talking about handheld devices … you can wait the five seconds to get to the other side. “This is about common sense.”

Should Game of Thrones Remake Its Eighth Season?

Not everyone was pleased with the conclusion of Game of Thrones. Does that mean the writers should try again? This is a proposal put forward by some very angry fans in a petition calling for season 8 to be remade “with competent writers.” The petition already has over a million signatures.

Game of Thrones started like Shakespeare and it is ending like Ishtar.

If there were a way to convert the bitter disappointment of GoT fans into a clean energy source this season, we could solve climate change.

It’s inappropriate as an audience member to demand change from an entire crew of writers, creators, performers, etc. just because it did not satisfy you… Fans, of course, are an incredibly large reason why shows are successful… But it does not excuse certain destructive and disrespectful behavior toward people who have dedicated their entire lives to creating a show or film.

Welcome to the Choose-Your-Own-Ending generation. Fueled by the interactivity of movie-like video games, sparked by all those Choose Your Own Adventure books they devoured as kids, freshly sparked by Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and its ilk, today’s entertainment-consuming adults are not primed for passive acceptance. Social media and especially YouTube provide the forum, the impetus, and an echo chamber sufficient to turn the angst of a minority into a deafening howl.

Today’s Hot Issues

Can Biden Win with a Message of Unity? Will the GOP’s Abortion Policies Backfire in 2020? Does Netanyahu Want Trump to Go to War with Iran? How Do You Define Islamophobia? Should “Distracted Walking” Be Banned? Should Game of Thrones Remake Its Eighth Season?