NOVEMBER 2017: “WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT?

11.29 John McCain on Hilary Clinton in Esquire: ““One of the almost irresistible impulses you have when you lose is to somehow justify why you lost and how you were mistreated: ’I did the right thing! I did!’” The hardest thing to do is to just shut up.”What’s the f***ing point? Keep the fight up? History will judge that campaign, and it’s always a period of time before they do. You’ve got to move on. This is Hillary’s problem right now: She doesn’t have anything to do.”
11.29 Geraldo Rivera tweet: “Sad about @MLauer great guy, highly skilled & empathetic w guests & a real gentleman to my family & me. News is a flirty business & it seems like current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it w predation. What about #GarrisonKeillor?
11.29 The Atlantic: Amazon seems to be typical of the sort of organization that researchers have found to be particularly prone to sexual harassment and abuse: male dominated, super hierarchical, and forgiving when it comes to bad behavior.
11.29 David Ignatius in Washington Post: “China’s rise has been so rapid yet gentle in tone that it’s easy to miss how fast Beijing has expanded its ability to project power. Trump’s ‘America first’ strategy has facilitated China’s buildup, unintentionally. China is building [and buying] the infrastructure of power,” including ports around the Indian Ocean and in Europe, and “rail lines to Europe and every part of Asia, allowing them to bypass U.S.-controlled sea lanes. There’s an eerie sense in today’s world that China is racing to capture the commanding heights of technology and trade. Meanwhile, under the banner of ‘America first,’ the Trump administration is protecting coal-mining jobs and questioning climate science.”
11.29 Axios: A McKinsey Global Institute study says that massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together amid labor disruption over the next 13 years “It’s a Marshall Plan size of task.”
11.29 Paul Waldman in the Post: The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that if a Republican senator says he might not vote for the bill because he’s terribly concerned about the deficit, he is lying. Deficits are something Republicans pretend to care about when there’s a Democratic president or when they’re trying to slash the safety net, but it’s an act. Not a single Republican will vote against this bill because it raises the deficit. Not one. In the end they’ll all decide cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy is just too darn important, and anyway the tax cuts will create such an explosion of growth that we won’t have to worry about the deficit anyway.
11.29 Matt Lauer fired
11.29 Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: The brazenness of it is the whole point — his utter shamelessness itself is meant to achieve his goal. In any given case, Trump is not trying to persuade anyone of anything as much as he is trying to render reality irrelevant, and reduce the pursuit of agreement on it to just another part of the circus. He’s asserting a species of power — the power to evade constraints normally imposed by empirically verifiable facts, by expectations of consistency, and even by what reasoned inquiry deems merely credible. The more brazen or shameless, the more potent is the assertion of power.
11.29 Garrison Keillor dumped by MPR
11.28 Katie Baker in The Ringer: “An unfathomable implementation of a shaky idea? Check. (Sure, they gave Manning the option to still “start” the game to continue his ironman streak, the NFL’s second-longest, but imagine the ridicule if he had said yes!) Throwing their quarterback(s) unfairly and abruptly to the media wolves? Check. (When the dust settles, I may actually feel worse for Geno than Eli amid all of this.) And giving Mike Francesa the kind of material that causes him to (a) go into full-on growl mode; (b) exhale loudly through his nose to punctuate a point; (c) use the phrases “this clown” and “dey don’t have da guts” more than once; and (d) take calls from angry listeners describing the Giants’ coach as a “slick-haired ratface”? Check, check, check, and check. (The only thing missing was a “Mista Tannenbaum.”) On Twitter, the reaction to this news ran the understandable gamut from dispassionate to meme-y. ESPN tweeted a set of wild statistics about Manning’s longevity compared with the quarterbacks of other NFL teams. Former Giant and current NFL Network analyst Shaun O’Hara described an “ambrosia of emotions.” A Twitter trending topics screenshot was posted with “North Korea” sandwiched at no. 2 between “Eli Manning” and “Geno.” The New York Daily News offered a fresh perspective. Bomani Jones summed up the way Giants fans feel about Manning as accurately as I’ve ever seen. As all this news rolled in, I first evaluated my own well-being, because you can’t help others unless you’ve put on your own oxygen mask first, and then I unironically called Eli a “man of principle” in Ringer Slack, posted the Carole King “Now and Forever” music video, and then, fingers trembling, swiped through my iPhone to get to the radio app I use to stream WFAN. As I hoped he would, with the stakes at their highest, Francesa delivered as if he were wearing a Giants jersey and facing Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. He was part therapist, letting biased listeners get their rawest feelings out. . . . And he lived up to his longstanding reputation as a true maestro of the sports radio rant, getting the most out of every crescendo and fermata, milking the word “disgraceful” as if it were a haunting flute solo. If there was a silver lining to this dark day in Giants history, it was that it took place during Francesa’s final days on the air. “I’m so glad this happened now,” one caller said, sounding emotional, “so that you can process this over the next few weeks with the fans.” Hearing that heartfelt sentiment is when it fully struck me: The end of an era that I am really going to mourn as 2017 comes to a blessed end isn’t the Giants’ no. 10, but New York’s Numbah One.”
11.28 Giants end Eli Manning‘s consecutive start streak at 210
11.27 Joe Nocera in Ad Age: If you joined Time Inc. when I did, in the mid-1990s, the glorious excesses that once marked the company were a thing of the past. But you heard the stories. The great Fortune writer Carol Loomis used to recall how the male writers would always travel with their female research assistants, who would take notes during interviews, transcribe them and do the heavy lifting while the writer was out on the town. Dan Okrent, a former editor of Life magazine, had a raft of memorable expense-account stories he told and retold. John Podhoretz, who worked at Time magazine three decades ago, once wrote a piece recalling the time Henry Grunwald, Time‘s editor, took a helicopter from Manhattan to White Plains, 25 miles away. There were carts serving drinks in the late afternoon, dinners at the most expensive restaurants in New York and limousines to take editors home at night. Which is not to say that the journalists of my era were suffering, at least not during the first five years I was there. The period from 1995 to 2000 (I left in 2004) was print advertising’s last hurrah. The first internet boom was roaring and the money just poured in. At Fortune, where I worked, the managing editor, John Huey, would sometimes begin the morning meeting by saying that we had just gotten 15 more pages of advertising and did anyone have any ideas about how to add some more stories? At its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fortune was making, pre-tax, upwards of $110 million—we even spent $5 million one year taking the entire staff to Hawaii. Time magazine made in the $100 million range, People made over $400 million, and Time Inc. had earnings that came in a hair under $1 billion. The idea that it would all come to an end one day was unimaginable. But that day has come. On Sunday evening, Meredith Corp., a magazine company based in Des Moines, Iowa, announced that it was buying Time Inc. It will pay $1.85 billion in cash and assume close to $1 billion in Time Inc. debt.
11.27 Meredith agreed to acquire Time Inc. for $2.8 billion
11.27 BBC: “Prince Harry is to marry his American actress girlfriend Meghan Markle. Harry, fifth in line to the throne, will marry Ms. Markle next spring and will live at Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace in London. The couple, who have been dating since the summer of 2016, secretly got engaged earlier this month.”
11.25 In college basketball: Using only three players for the final 10:41 of the second half, the Crimson Tide outscore the Golden Gophers 30-22 but lose the game 89-84. Freshman Collin Sexton had 40 points for the Crimson Tide
11.21 More powerful earthquakes could rock the globe in 2018 because of infinitesimal changes in the speed of the Earth’s rotation, scientists warn. A minuscule slowing of the Earth’s rotation over years, which can extend the length of a day by a millisecond or more, appears to be linked to an increase in major quakes.
11.21 Embattled Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has resigned
11.21 Joshua Bernstein on Buzzfeed: “National security adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly mocked Trump’s intelligence during a private dinner with the CEO of Oracle, saying the president has the intelligence of a “kindergartner.” “Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who has been mentioned as a candidate for several potential administration jobs — McMaster bluntly trashed his boss, said the sources, four of whom [said] they heard about the exchange directly from Catz. [McMaster] dismissed the president variously as an ‘idiot’ and a ‘dope’ with the intelligence of a ‘kindergartner’ … A sixth source who was not familiar with the details of the dinner [said] McMaster had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council.”
11.21 CBS fires Rose
11.21 Charlie Rose, Glenn Thrush, John Conyers join Al Franken et all in the pillory
11.20 Olivier Vernon of the Giants: “At the end of the day, there’s a First Amendment right as an American citizen. You have a right to protest peacefully. Protests aren’t supposed to be comfortable.”
11.20 Charles Manson dies at 83
11.19 Tom Brady becomes the first NFL quarterback to record a 300 yard passing day in three countries.
11.18 Dinner at 1050 with Greg and Susan, then onto Murder on the Orient Express
11.18 An Ohio candidate for Governor, Supreme Court justice William O’Neill posted a statement Friday morning on Facebook about what he described as the “national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions”: “As a candidate for Governor let me save my opponents some research time. In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females. It ranged from a gorgeous blonde who was my first true love and we made passionate love in the hayloft of her parents barn and ended with a drop dead gorgeous red head from Cleveland. Now can we get back to discussing legalizing marijuana and opening the state hospital network to combat the opioid crisis.”
11.17 David Von Drehle in the Washington Post: The United States and its allies are under attack. The cyberwar we’ve feared for a generation is well underway, and we are losing. This is the forest, and the stuff about Russian election meddling, contacts with the Trump campaign, phony Twitter accounts, fake news on Facebook — those things are trees. We’ve been worried about a massive frontal assault, a work of Internet sabotage that would shut down commerce or choke off the power grid. And with good reason. The recent exploratory raid by Russian hackers on American nuclear facilities reminds us that such threats are real. But we failed to prepare for an attack of great subtlety and strategic nuance. Enemies of the West have hacked our cultural advantages, turning the very things that have made us strong — technological leadership, free speech, the market economy and multi-party government — against us. The attack is ongoing.With each passing week, we learn more. Russia and its sympathizers have cranked up the volume on existing political and cultural divisions in the West, like some psychic version of the Stuxnet hack that caused Iran’s nuclear centrifuges to spin so fast they tore themselves to pieces. They’ve exploited the cutting-edge algorithms of Facebook and Google to feed misinformation to Americans most likely to believe and spread it. They have targeted online ads designed to intensify our hottest culture wars: abortion, guns, sexuality, race. They have partnered with WikiLeaks, the supposed paragon of free speech, to insert propaganda into influential Twitter accounts — including @realDonaldTrump. They have created thousands of phony online identities to add heat to political fever swamps.The genius of this cyberwar is that unwitting Westerners do most of the work. Our eagerness to believe the worst about our political opponents makes us easy marks for fake or distorted “news” from anti-American troll farms. Our media — talk radio, cable news, every variety of digital communication — seek to cull us into like-minded echo chambers. The West has monetized polarization; our enemies have, in turn, weaponized it.
11.16 The Times: “Asked directly if she believed Mr. Clinton should have stepped down at the time, Ms. Gillibrand took a long pause and said, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”’
11.16 Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: In all of this, there is a spectacular accumulation of lies. Lies on disclosure forms. Lies at confirmation hearings. Lies on Twitter. Lies in the White House briefing room. Lies to the FBI. Self-protective lies by the attorney general. Blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people for whom truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing.
11.16 Ron Swoboda
11.16 Al Franken accused of sexual harassment

11.15 SOS meeting with the Gov
11.15 Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “Saviour of the World,” sold for $450,312,500 Wednesday at auction at Christie’s. The price, which includes a buyer’s premium, makes it “the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.”
11.14 Jim Vanderhei in Axios: “There are lots of reasons American politics went off the rails, but Axios CEO Jim VandeHei breaks out six seminal events in the past 24 years that steered us here: Newt Gingrich, in the early 1990s, weaponized warfare politics in a methodical and sustained way. In tactics and rhetoric, Gingrich ushered in a good-vs.-evil style that persists today. Fox News, created in 1996, televised and monetized this hard-edged combat politics. This created the template for MSNBC to do the same on the left, giving both sides a place to fuel and fund rage 24/7. CNN soon went heavy on politics, all day, making governance a show in need of drama. Facebook and later Twitter, both products of the post-2000 Internet revolution, socialized rage and argument. Now every nut with an opinion could find fans and followers to cheer/egg him or her on. This happened as the middle in politics was officially purged from Congress.John McCain picking Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 celebritized rage politics. Until that moment, Republicans typically picked conventional, next-in-line candidates. Palin, made for cable and social media, was the precursor to Trump. Facebook, with command of so much of most voters’ time and attention, algorithm-ized rage starting around 2015. The more emotion you felt and sought, the more the newsfeed machine pumped at you. With no one looking, fake news was born and metastasizing. Twitter + Trump, igniting in 2016, habitualized and radicalized the moment-by-moment rage and reaction of politicians, voters and the media. This created more froth and more fog, and resulted in a spike of people who don’t believe real news, much less the fake news pulsing through the system.Now, all of this has been institutionalized. No wonder people don’t trust, like or believe politicians — or often each other.”
11.14 Richard Javad Heydarian in the Washington Post: “During President Donald Trump’s first official Asia tour, the precipitous erosion of America’s decades-long hegemony in the region has been painfully apparent. This is partially the structural byproduct of the rapid rise of China, which has openly called for a 21 century new regional order of “Asia for Asians.” Since 2013, the Asian powerhouse has rolled out an alluring package of development initiatives, which could potentially redraw the economic landscape of the region and beyond. With China emerging as the world’s economic engine, it is proactively reclaiming its historical place in the sun. But it is also the byproduct of the tempestuous Trump presidency’s devastating impact on American standing in Asia. Both allies and rivals in the region have been perturbed by Trump’s “America first,” neo-isolationist foreign policy. His midnight tirades on Twitter, constant attacks on the liberal international order and push to dismantle the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement have collectively left America isolated even from some of its closest allies. As an official from one of America’s key partners in the region put it to me earlier this year: “Is this how superpowers commit suicide?” It appears the answer is yes.”
11.14 Theresa May has accused Moscow of using fake news to undermine democracy in the UK.
11.13 New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was unanimously named the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year.
11.13 GQ names Colin Kapernick Citizen of the Year
11.13 Roy Moore is accused by a fifth woman
11.13 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, re: Roy Moore: “I believe the women.”
11.13 Conservative viewers smash Keurig coffee makers after company pulls ads from “Hannity”
11.13 Liz Smith dies at 94. I always enjoyed her column, never more than when I had written an item that got planted in her space. That happened several times during my early brief career in public relations, but never with greater satisfaction than in 1991, when I was an editor at Spy. The peerless Ted Heller had conjured the spirit of Jack Fine, an old time theatrical agent. So unbelievable was Ted’s performance that we put him on the phone and proceeded to prank a bunch of producers of cheesy TV sitcoms by having Fine try to place such clients as Vanessa Redgrave and Robert DeNiro on shows like Full House. The transcripts of these calls became a feature in our March 1991 issue. We loved Jack so much that the following month we killed him, and asked the ladies and gentlemen of show business to mourn one of their own (which he was, non-existent though he may have been.) Liz Smith obliged by running a mournful au revoir: “A sad milestone in the world of show business: Jack Fine, personal manager to such golden greats of Hollywood as Betty Grable, Johnny Weissmuller and Jeff Chandler, passed away recently in Australia, far from his beloved New York. . . .He was known for unflagging optimism, expressed in his famous signature line: “Smile, darling–somewhere it’s opening night.”
11.13 Anne Applebaum in the Post: The groups that displayed themselves so aggressively in Warsaw on Saturday are not the majority in Poland. They are not even a significant minority. They are a radical group who suddenly feel enabled and encouraged by the new conditions in their country, in Europe and in the world. But even if they don’t set the tone for public life, in Warsaw — a city that was destroyed by fascists, where old buildings are still pockmarked by bullet holes from fascist rifles; a city that also now hosts the most ambitious and beautiful Jewish museum in Europe — their new sense of entitlement is indeed shocking.
11.12 E.J. Dionne Jr.in the Post: “ The focus on President Trump’s political strength among white working-class voters distracts from a truth that may be more important: His rise depended on support from rich conservatives, and his program serves the interests of those who have accumulated enormous wealth. This explains why so few congressional Republicans denounce him, no matter how close he edges toward autocracy, how much bigotry he spreads — or how often he panders to Vladimir Putin and denounces our own intelligence officials, as he did again this weekend. The GOP leadership knows Trump is tilting our economy toward people just like him, the objective they care about most.

COUSINS AHOY!

A covey of cousins? My cousin Elaine Warner(in blue)! came from San Diego to Maryland for a ceremony at the Naval Academy honoring her late husband Bob Craig. She brought three of their six children. My sister Rose and I reconnoitered with them at Harborplace in Baltimore for a traditional celebratory feast of cooked crustaceans. Fun! Right to left: cousin Steve, his wife Jan, cousin Diana, Rose, Elaine, cousin Robin, your correspondent

NOVEMBER 2017: “THE REASON THE STOCK MARKET IS SO SUCCESSFUL IS BECAUSE OF ME”

11.8 Brad Paisley and Carrie Undewood at the Country Music Awards: “Maybe next time he’ll think before he tweets.”

Quintana Roo Dunne with parents John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion in Malibu 1976

11.8 Bob Costas on the NFL: “The cracks in the foundation are there,” Costas said. “The day-to-day issues, as serious as they may be, they may come and go. But you cannot change the nature of the game. I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football. The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.”
11.8 E.J. Dionne Jr.in the Post: “Tuesday’s Democratic sweep obliterated a series of outdated story lines in American politics and opened a new era.Forget those repetitious tales about some piece of President Trump’s base still sticking with him. It’s now clear, from Virginia and New Jersey to Washington state, Georgia, New York, Connecticut and Maine, that the energy Trump has unleashed among those who loathe him has the potential to realign the country.In droves, voters rebuked his leadership, his party and the divisive white-nationalist politics that was supposed to save Republican Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor’s race, the centerpiece of the GOP catastrophe. . . .Widespread reports of new organizing and activism on the progressive side of politics were often written off before Tuesday because earlier this year Democrats lost four special congressional elections in very Republican constituencies. Typically overlooked were sharp shifts away from the GOP in all these districts. It’s now clear that the backlash against Trump is the most consequential fact of American politics.”
11.8 Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post: “The mood of the country a year after Trump’s victory may not be as anti-government as some thought. Instead of unrelenting hostility toward government, verging on nihilism, we see voters going for pro-government candidates, even ones seeking to expand health care. You never know what you stand to lose until you look into the abyss and see the loss of a politically sane and functional government. In sum, maybe the 2016 race was about a very, very bad Democratic candidate, not primarily or only a rejection of government. Maybe the road back to political normalcy goes through the suburbs and educated voters, especially women. It could be that Democrats just need a centrist candidate without baggage, not a democratic socialist, to lead them to victory. And perhaps #NeverTrumpers, cut loose from the GOP, become the new, sought-after voting contingent (like soccer moms!), who will look for rational, knowledgeable candidates whatever the party designation, so long as the candidates are committed to good government and restoration of American democratic institutions.
11.7 Big Dem wins in Virginia, New Jersey, elsewhere. Axios: “On a day that set the opening tone for the midterm elections of 2018, voters rejected President Trump, handed Democrats a big win in a swing state in a racially charged moment, and provided hope that they can win back power in Washington.” Washington Post: “34 percent of voters said expressing opposition to Trump was a reason for their vote, with almost all of this group favoring Northam. . . 17 percent sought to express support for the president. . . .Women made the difference. White women with college degrees — a group that split evenly in the 2013 Virginia governor’s election – favored Northam by 16 points over Gillespie in preliminary exit polling, 58 percent to 42 percent. . . . Married women voted for Northam by 10 points. . . . In the 2016 presidential election, Trump eked out a one-point lead with this group, 48 percent to 47 percent.
11.7 Roy Halladay dies in a plane crash at 40.
11.7 Trump in South Korea: “I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us.”
11.7 Albany
11.7 Peter Beinart in The Atlantic:“Conservatives need liberals to stop abusing their cultural power. Although conservatives dominate America’s elected offices, liberals wield the greater power to stigmatize. In the 1950s, conservatives could exile liberals from polite company by calling them Communists. Being called anti-American can still sting. . . But in most elite institutions, being accused of bigotry is now more dangerous than being accused of insufficient patriotism. In 2014, Brendan Eich was forced out as the head of the tech company Mozilla for having donated to an anti-gay-marriage initiative. He probably would not have been forced out for donating to, say, a campaign to eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance from California’s schools. Conservatives feel their cultural vulnerability acutely. In 2011, researchers at Tufts University observed that conservatives consume more “outrage-based” political radio and television than liberals do. One reason, they suggested in a follow-up paper, is that conservatives are more fearful than liberals of discussing politics with people with whom they disagree, because they dread being called a bigot. “When asked how they feel about talking politics,” the researchers noted, “every single conservative respondent raised the issue of being called racist.” Liberals expressed no comparable fear. As a result, they felt less need to take refuge in the “safe political environs provided by outrage-based programs.”
11.6 Michael Gerson in the Post: Where does this leave us at Year One of the Trump era? With two very sick political parties that have a monopoly on political power and little prospect for reform and recovery. The stakes are quite high. If America really develops a political competition between ethno-nationalism and identity socialism, it will mean we are a nation in decline — likely to leave pressing problems (educational failure, unconstrained debt, a flawed criminal-justice system) unconfronted. Likely to forfeit global leadership, undermine world markets and cede to others the mantle of stability and firm purpose. There is a serious prospect that the president will truly crash and burn in a colossal fiasco so disastrous as to be undeniable proof against all things Trump. But that would be so bad for the country that it is hard to wish for.
11.6 Albany
11.5 Lawrence Summers in the Washington Post: Unfortunately, the proposal on offer by House Republicans may well retard growth, reward the wealthy, add complexity to the code and cheat the future, even as it raises burdens on the middle class and the poor. There are three aspects of the proposal that I find almost inexplicable, except as an expression of the power of entrenched interests. First, what is the rationale for passing tax cuts that increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion in this decade and potentially more in the future, instead of pursuing the kind of revenue-neutral reform adopted in 1986? There is no present need for fiscal stimulus. The national debt is already on an explosive path, even without taking into account large spending needs that are almost certain to arise in areas ranging from national security to infrastructure to addressing those left behind by globalization and technology. Borrowing to pay for tax cuts is a way to defer pain, not avoid it. Ultimately, the power of compound interest makes necessary tax increases or spending cuts that are even larger than those tax reductions. But in the meantime, debt-financed tax cuts would raise the trade deficit and reduce investment, thereby cheating the future. Second, what is the case for cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent? For at least five years under the GOP proposal, businesses would be able to write off investments in new equipment entirely in the year that those investments are made. So the government would be sharing to an equal extent in the costs of and returns from investment, eliminating any tax-induced disincentive to invest. The effective tax rate on new investment would be reduced to zero, or less, even before considering the corporate rate reduction. A corporate rate reduction serves only to reward monopoly profits, other rents or past investments. Given the trends of the past few years, are shareholders really the most worthy recipients of such a windfall?
11.5 Gun kills 26 at a church in Texas. It was 307th mass shooting in America this year.
11.5 Trump: “[T]he reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. I’ve always been great with money, I’ve always been great with jobs, that’s what I do. And I’ve done it well, I’ve done it really well, much better than people understand and they understand I’ve done well. But we have a tremendous amount of strength because of what’s happened. You know, think of it — $5.5 trillion worth of value.”


11.3 Andrew Sullivan in New York: Northam seems to me almost a classic Democratic politician of our time. I have no idea what his core message is (and neither, it seems, does he); on paper, he’s close to perfect; his personality is anodyne; his skills as a campaigner are risible; and he has negative charisma. More to the point, he is running against an amphibian swamp creature, Ed Gillespie, and yet the Washington lobbyist is outflanking him on populism. Northam’s ads are super lame, and have lately been largely on the defensive, especially on crime, culture, and immigration. He hasn’t galvanized minority voters, has alienated many white voters, and has failed to consolidate a broader anti-Trump coalition. In Virginia, Trump’s approval rating is 38/59, but Northam is winning only 81 percent of the disapprovers, while Gillespie is winning 95 percent of the approvers. Northam’s early double-digit lead has now collapsed to within the margin of error….go to Northam’s website and you see a near-copy of Clinton’s agenda last year. Drenched in wonky micro-policies, one of its exhausted themes is actually “Working Together.” If you plumb the message, behind various poll-tested good-government bromides, he even has policy proposals on concussions and STEM curricula, and a smoking ban. This is Establishment Democratic boilerplate. And Democratic turnout, in response, looks wobbly, especially among minority voters.
11.1 Quartz: Stanford’s Siegel, who was a manager at GE and Intel between 1994 and 2007, says Amazon’s unique strength (control over customer data and logistics infrastructure) means the parallels with GE may not apply. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” he says. “Amazon is combining the digital and physical in a way that we’ve never seen before.” Because Amazon controls household consumption data, competitive intelligence about sellers, as well as a vast logistics infrastructure, it has unparalleled insights into what people want, and how to deliver it most efficiently. New features like the Alexa home assistant and Amazon Key(allowing Amazon to monitor and grant access to people entering your house) will make the company virtually omniscient. Amazon sports a sky-high valuation because investors are banking that every customer gained today will pay off handsomely in the future. . . . “You want to put off profitability in certain businesses because you aggregate more data, and you can monetize it down the road,” says Siegel. “You can argue that is what Amazon is doing. The old GE had no data.” Soon, Amazon will be able to anticipate, suggest, and deliver almost any of the physical goods people routinely buy elsewhere (clothes, stores, supermarkets, boutiques, online retailers), making it the path of least resistance for everything people purchase. That’s been the plan for years. The patent for “anticipatory package shipping,” to ship people goods before they even order them, was filed in 2012 (a feature that could save 10% to 40% on logistics costs, say researchers). Now it’s coming to fruition.
11.4 George Will: The political philosopher Harvey Mansfield, Harvard’s conservative, says education should teach how to praise. How, that is, to recognize excellence of character when it is entwined, as it always is, with flaws. And how to acknowledge excellence of achievement amid the contingencies that always partially defeat good intentions.”
11.4 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia tightened his grip on power. He detained 38 of the nation’s wealthiest and most prominent citizens over the weekend. The extraordinary weekend roundup against alleged corruption included arrests of high-profile Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Bakr bin Laden of the Saudi Binladen construction company. Additionally, a senior Saudi prince and seven other officials have been killed in a helicopter crash near the country’s border with Yemen. No official explanation has been issued. One fifth of the world’s oil reserves are in Saudi Arabia.
11.4 Saw Thor: Ragnorak qith Molly, Shawn and Ginny. Loved it! Fabulous use The Immigrant Song.
11.2 Pope Francis: “When I pray, sometimes I fall asleep.”
11.2 Bloomberg Businessweek: “The world economy should grow nicely again in 2018. (Unless someone does something dumb.) After several disappointing years, all the major economies are expanding at the same time … Healthy growth makes it easier to deal with the next downturn We’ve gotten so used to complaining about sluggishness that it’s a shock to realize the global economy has quietly accelerated to a respectable and sustainable cruising speed. Market volatility is historically low. The big story for 2018 is likely to be how to manage the continued expansion. A turning point may come at the end of September, when the European Central Bank might stop or curtail monthly bond purchases. Bloomberg economists predict the U.S. will grow 2.5 percent in 2018; China, 6.4 percent; Japan, 0.9 percent; and Germany, 1.6 percent. In most cases those numbers are in line with the growth expected for 2017, which has turned out to be a better year than many forecasters expected.


11.1 In Biology Letters coined a new word: Kleptropredation, a previously unknown behavior which occurs when a predator eats prey that has just hunted and has a full belly—such that the predator ends up eating its prey’s prey as well.
11.1 Trump to the Times: “I’m not under investigation, as you know. And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there. It has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said.
11.1 The Astros beat the Dodgers 4 games to 3, and win their first World Series

OUR MAN IN AMERICA: WHITE FREAK OUT

This article was originally published in The Jackal.

“You will not replace us!”

That was the slogan that was half-shouted, half-snarled by Klansmen and neo-nazis on the civilized streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer.

Lacking the stein-sloshing brio of “Deutschland Uber Alles’’ or the thuggy punchiness of “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer,” it was, as hate chants go, pretty pathetic. Menacing delivery masked the sweaty panic in what was the war cry of the already defeated. Cemeteries, as DeGaulle observed. are full of irreplaceable men, and these men have lashed themselves to an already sinking ship. In the long run, we are all going to be replaced.

In the short run, however, it is the anxiety of those who have fallen victim first that has propelled Trump, propelled Brexit, propelled nationalist and populist movements all over. Trump is moving into his third year of dominating the enws here in America, but he is just the tip of the iceberg. The rising anxiety of white people is the underlying story.

For forty years, middle class Americans of every race have been getting the shaft. Between the end of World War II and the mid-1970s, American prosperity was high, and everyone benefitted. Productivity increased by 97 percent, wages went up 91%, and workers bought houses in the suburbs and cars and color TVs. Not coincidentally, it was also an era of great social progress.

But starting in the mid-seventies, a free market ideology took control. Shareholder interests dominated. Market forces ruled. It made sense to move a factory from Michigan to Mexico to cut labor costs; what happened next in Michigan wasn’t the stockholders’ concern. Workers once valued as assets were now treated as commodities whose cost needed to be cut. A store that once employed ten full time workers who received health insurance and pension now hired thirty part time workers who received no benefits. Cruel, but smart.

Now throw in the Great Recession, from which Wall Street and the big banks have recovered but from which middle class pensions and middle class home values have yet to recover. And now throw in the digital revolution, the transformative technology that has treated some industries like ebola. Men like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are now so rich they can underwrite a personal space race, but not everyone is a winner. Streaming took the jobs of about 20 percent of music industry workers. Internet publishing cost a quarter million jobs in journalism. Online shopping will close about a fifth of America’s retail stores. How excited do you think America’s 3.5 million truckers are feeling about the advent of driverless cars?

The upshot of these developments? Since the mid-seventies, productivity has gone up 74%. Wages have gone up 9 percent

It’s true that new jobs are being created. But the transition is uneven. While some places are being transformed, others are withering. And it is the ruling class’s indifference that is pushing the white middle class off the deep end. Trump is the middle class’s extended middle finger to the one percent.

(Make no mistake, the black middle class has suffered as much and more from the changes, particularly the recession, but the political reaction is different. In 2016, reliably black Democratic voters stayed home; less dependably white Democratic voters went berserk.)

Trump won by playing to the anxieties of these voters with slurs against immigrants, Muslims and minorities, and he continues to do so. For example, he said that at least some of the people marching with the neo-Nazis and Klansmen in Charlotteville were “good people,’’ but used the term “son of a bitch’’ for an NFL player who protested the treatment of blacks during the National Anthem.

That’s not surprising. What’s bizarre is that he has done nothing to speak to actual causes underlying the fears.

Instead of fixing Obamacare, which 55 percent of the public now supports, Trump continues to undermine it.

Instead of investing in a program that would repair and reconstruct the nation’s dilapidated infrastructure while boosting wages and employment, Trump has yet to spend Dollar One.

Instead of delivering a tax cut that would help the middle class, Trump’s vague proposal leaves some in the middle class paying a little more, others a little less. But everyone who makes $900,000 or more will get a tax cut, worth on the average $234,000.

Instead of attacking the lethal opioid epidemic that is slamming the white middle class—for the first time, the death rate among white working class adults is surpassed non-white working class adults, due to increases of drug addiction, alcoholism and suicide, the so-called “deaths of despair’’—Trump has virtually ignored it.

White middle class anxiety is real. Trump has stoked it. But can anyone fix it?