“WHY DON’T I JUST FIRE MUELLER?”

4.18 Robert Kagan to Jonathan Capehart: My argument is that the liberal world order is an incredible achievement. It, in fact, is sort of an aberration from history,” Kagan told me during an interview for the latest episode of “Cape Up” recorded in Brussels on March 9. “We need to understand that this liberal world order is an artificial construction. It isn’t just an evolution of mankind, humankind, and it won’t stay. And that the forces of nature, human nature, and the forces of history going back centuries, inclines to overrun this order, unless it’s actively protected.” That jungle regrowth, Kagan said, can be seen already. “You could see it in the upheaval against liberal democracy in Europe, all the populist nationalist movements,” he said. The election of President Trump is part of this upheaval. But because of the United States’ role in the world, it has tremendous consequences. “The remarkable thing that the United States did after World War II, which no country in history had ever done before, was in a way to define our national interest so broadly that they became international responsibilities,” Kagan explained. “Normal nations don’t have international responsibilities. They look out for their own. The United States basically made itself an onshore power in Europe and in Asia, in a way to create zones of peace there, putting an end to German and Japanese ambition, steering Germany and Japan toward economic ambition, economic success, which then made it possible for the neighboring countries in those regions to worry less about being attacked.” As a result, Kagan argues, “The United States basically provided the underpinning which allowed this great economic growth that we’ve seen over the past five decades to take placeBut after the end of the Cold War, Kagan says, “A lot of Americans increasingly [began] asking, ‘Why are we doing this?’” The question got louder as the United States began ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early part of the last decade and as the economy collapsed in 2008. “Trump came in and really ran on the premise, insofar as he talked about foreign policy, that this liberal world order was bad for us, that we were getting screwed in the liberal order,” Kagan told me. “There’s no way in the world that an American public that was concerned about America’s role in the world could have voted for Donald Trump.”
4.18 David von Drehle in the Post: President Trump 2.0, and versions beyond, will take the Trumpian tools of hype, novelty and shock that are so compelling on social media and deploy them with less frenzy, heat and bluster. They’ll resemble Elon Musk — with the proper birth certificate.
4.16 Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer Prize In Music For ‘Damn’
4.15 James Comey on ABC: on impeaching Trump: “I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they’re duty bound to do directly. People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values.” On Charlottesville: “A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. On Trump’s intelligence: “I don’t buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who’s tracking conversations and knows what’s going on.” On the most salacious allegations in the Steele dossier: “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know.” On Trump’s reluctance to criticize Vladimir Putin: “I can understand the arguments why the president of the United States might not want to criticize the leader of another country…But you would think that in private– talking to the F.B.I. director, whose job it is to thwart Russian attacks, you might acknowledge that this enemy of ours is an enemy of ours. But I never saw. And so I don’t know the reason.”
4.15 Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on 60 Minutes: “CEOs with one button on one computer can pay every man and every woman equally. We have the data.”i
4.13 Trump bombs chem weapons stronghold in Syria. Trump tweet: “A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” Trump speech: Assad‘s “evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.” Perhaps his most consequential line: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” Mattis: strikes are a “one-time shot”: “Right now, we have no additional attacks planned.”
4.13 Albany


4.13 William Nack dies at 77. “Oh, I knew all the stories, knew them well, had crushed and rolled them in my hand until their quaint musk lay in the saddle of my palm. Knew them as I knew the stories of my children. Knew them as I knew the stories of my own life. Told them at dinner parties, swapped them with horseplayers as if they were trading cards, argued over them with old men and blind fools who had seen the show but missed the message. Dreamed them and turned them over like pillows in my rubbery sleep. Woke up with them, brushed my aging teeth with them, grinned at them in the mirror.”
4.13 Michael Steel, a former senior aide to John Boehner: “Speaker Ryan is an embodiment of a particular kind of optimistic, pro-growth, pro-free market inclusive conservatism, and that is a very different feel and tone of where the party is going under President Trump.”
4.12 James Comey in A Higher Loyalty: “This president is unethical, and untethered to the truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty.” In a discussion of a White House meeting with Trump and then chief of staff Reince Priebus in February 2017, Comey says that “because he never stops talking”, Trump “pulls all those present into a silent circle of assent”. “The encounter left me shaken,” he writes. “I had never seen anything like it in the Oval Office. As I found myself thrust into the Trump orbit, I once again was having flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and the truth.” Of Trump’s now famous demand over dinner at the White House in January 2017, “I need loyalty”, Comey writes: “To my mind, the demand was like Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony – with Trump in the role of the family boss, asking me if I have what it takes to be a ‘made man’.”
4.11 Yankees, Red Sox brawl
4.11 Paul Krugman tweets: Ryan failed at both his pretended goals and his real goals. He pretended to be a champion of fiscal responsibility, convincing naive centrists that he really meant it; but his legacy is one of bigger deficits. That’s not a surprise, because anyone who actually looked at his plans realized that the alleged deficit reduction was all magic asterisks; take those out and his plans were actually deficit-increasing, because of tax cuts. His real goal was to eviscerate the social safety net, under the pretense of doing it in the name of fiscal responsibility. In particular, his signature proposal was to voucherize, privatize, and defund Medicare. But that’s not happening. Meanwhile, as Speaker, his main achievement, if you can call it that, has been as enabler of corruption and contempt for rule of law. It’s unclear whether the end game will be Democratic takeover of the House or autocracy, American style. But either way, what a legacy
4.11 The Washington Post: “The lesson of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) retirement announcement Wednesday, after less than three years in the position and at the relatively young age of 48, is that no such party exists. Today’s Republican Party is in thrall to President Trump and the 40 percent of the electorate that supports him — and for whose favor candidates in Republican primaries are now competing. That is to say, Republicans are decreasingly conservative and increasingly reactionary.”
4.11 Paul Waldman in the Post: Paul Ryan was always a fraud. He pretended to be a wonk’s wonk, but his budget and policy plans were full of sleight-of-hand and magic asterisks that fell apart on the most superficial examination. He pretended to be terribly worried about the deficit, but he happily jacked it up when he got the chance. He pretended to care deeply about the poor, but would have made their lives impossibly more miserable had doing so been politically tenable. And he pretended to be scandalized by Trump’s repugnant words and actions but, after a few regretful words and a furrowing of his brow, would always go right back to supporting the president. So while he will surely be remembered as one of the least effective speakers we’ve ever had, you can’t say Ryan didn’t faithfully represent his party.


4.10 “Why don’t I just fire Mueller?”
4.10 Speaker Paul Ryan announced he will not seek reelection. “I intend to full my serve term,” he announced.
4.9 Trump: “I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down. We’ve given, I believe, over a million pages worth of documents to the Special Counsel. They continue to just go forward. And here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things. We’re the greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now — and actually, much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination, it started. And it’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
4.9 According to Doug Cruetz, the managing director and senior research analyst covering media and entertainment for the financial services company Cowen, “Grand Theft Auto 5” has made more money than any film, book or game ever.
4.9 The Washington Post: “Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”
4.7 Great Lectures near Bryant Park. Prof. Charles Dewof Williams was only OK; gave a nice talk about “Making of a Racist,” but didn’t speak to his assigned topic; Prof. James Oakes of CUNY was better on subject “Did Lincoln Really Want to Free the Slaves?”
4.4 The high school I attended wasn’t segregated, strictly speaking–there were about dozen African-American boys among the 1200 students. And there was also a black man on the faculty–a French teacher named Paul Robertson. He was tall and lean and young, surely under 25. This may have been his first job. He was my teacher for first year French, and we got along well. And, may I say, he taught me well. La plume de ma tante est STILL sur la table, if you know what I mean. In April 1968, Dr. King‘s assassination was hugely disturbing. Not only the murder, but the riots that followed, where I lived in Baltimore, but all around the country. In the first class after the assassination, Mr. Robertson did an unusual thing. Instead of conjugating verbs, he led us in a discussion about King, and race. It was the first time I had ever talked to a black person about race, and if one my classmates had more experience, he wasn’t showing it. I wish I remembered what any of us said; part of me fears that the whole effort petered out, and we returned to lessons. But over the years, I became more aware of the courage that Mr. Robertson’s effort entailed, of his sense of responsibility in trying to engage the adolescent half-apes in his charge. That took great commitment. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur, wherever you are.
4.4 David Brooks in the New York Times: “Putin has established himself as one pole in the great global debate of the era, the debate between authoritarianism and democracy. All over the world political regimes are adjusting, becoming either a little more authoritarian or a little more democratic. [T]he momentum is clearly in the authoritarian direction. [W]hen you pause to ask who is the global leader of the liberal democratic camp, you come up with no name at all.”
4.3 DiDi Gregorius‘ 2 HRs, 8 RBIs lead Yanks over Rays in home opener
4.3 Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention: “Conservative Christians must be careful to remember the ways in which our cultural anthropology perverted our soteriology and ecclesiology. It is to our shame that we ignored our own doctrines to advance something as clearly demonic as racial pride. So, regardless of our backgrounds, it is appropriate that we pause and consider not only Dr. King’s life and legacy, but also our own past and future. As we do so, we are reminding ourselves of how far we have to go as Americans to see the promise of racial justice realized.”
4.3 The study from Ohio State University finds that fake news probably played a significant role in depressing Hillary Clinton‘s support on Election Day. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed but which may be the first look at how fake news affected voter choices, suggests that about 4 percent of President Barack Obama‘s 2012 supporters were dissuaded from voting for Clinton in 2016 by belief in fake news stories.
4.3 Bloomberg: “Elon Musk, in a testy Twitter exchange, said he is ‘back to sleeping at the factory’ while trying to fix production delays with the Model 3 electric car.”
4.2 Villanova beats Michigan for the men’s NCAA basketball title


4.1 Ginny and Molly spend a few days in New Orleans
4.1 Notre Dame wins the women’s NCAA basketball title.

THE HONORS PROGRAM

Back in January, I received an invitation from Brother Michael J. McGinniss to a panel discussion on March 22 at my alma mater, La Salle College, now University. The topic question: How Did An Honors Education Affect Your Professional Life? I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend, but for some reason, I felt obliged to answer the question, which I did in a note to Brother Michael:

I entered La Salle in the Fall of 1971, a member of the first or perhaps second Honors Program group. I have very fond memories of Mr. Grady and the professors in the program, including the brilliant, charismatic Dr. Minna Weinsten. But it was in my sophomore year when I took the Honors Program course that changed my life–Theories of Democracy and Civil Disobedience, taught by Professor Michael Dillon, the best teacher I ever had.

I took the course in the fall of 1972. It was a turbulent time, for me personally and for the country. The Vietnam War was still raging. I was facing the draft, Richard Nixon was running for reelection. Against this backdrop came Dr. Dillon’s course, where we talked about what being in a democracy obliges of us, and what rights we possess as individuals that remain inalienable. We read Robert Dahl, Willmore Kendall, Sophocles. The experience was mind-blowing. Mind-expanding. Intellectually thrilling. The class met once a week, but I engaged the subject every day.

The course changed my life. I became more thoughtful about politics, more analytical–dare I say philosophical? And I became a better student. Previously, I had been pretty transactional–everything was about getting grades. After that course, I was hungrier to engage the material, to be a real student.

Today I am teetering to the end of a work career, and I have often made use of the lessons I learned in that course particularly and in the program generally. Most of them have to be with being unafraid to think–to learn, to examine, to challenge, to be imaginative. Right now I am Senior Speechwriter for Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. Not a week goes by where one of the concepts I studied under Dr. Dillon–justice, freedom, equality, duty, power, leadership, morality–doesn’t come into play.

But was that the biggest influence of the Honors Program? Hardly. One of my classmates was a fiery, whip smart redhead named Virginia Jackson. We married four days after graduation in 1975. Forty three years and two daughters later, we’re still discovering and critiquing the world together.

A couple weeks ago, I heard back from Brother Michael: Thanks very much for your personal and inspiring acknowledgement of the invitation to the honors alumni evening on March 22nd. I have read and re-read your email a couple of times, and presumed the liberty of sharing it with our president, Colleen Hanycz, and with Mike Dillon as well.. . . While you shared a very intimate recollection of studying in the HP, I believe it’s fair to say that today’s honors students, albeit in a different kind of world, find the same kind of intellectual and personal challenge to engage the material in ways that go behind just getting down the lecture (or powerpoint) notes. Thanks for sharing your reflections about your time as an honor student, and thanks for taking the values of the program with you over a long career and life.

OUR MAN IN AMERICA

(This article first appeared in Jackal magazine in London.)

The longer I live, the more mystified I become. You’d think it would be the other way around. The more times you’ve circled the sun, the hipper you would be. That ‘s not how it’s working out.

When I was young, I was a veritable Pangloss, living in the best of all possible worlds. I was factory worker’s boy, the grandson of immigrants. We had a house, a lawn, a car. The land I lived in was free and powerful, and best of all, good. My parents said so, and my teachers and priests agreed. I was a little boy, but I knew my place in the cosmos.

Later came the larger story. The failings of the men we admired. The lies they told us. The entrenched racism that undergirded the whole society. The exploitation of workers and resources.

And yet somehow, I never lost faith. Things would work out. And maybe Pangloss was right—what did work out was the best that could have been worked out. We needed to stop whining, and get on with things.

But every week, President Trump comes out and rubs our faces in the worst of America.

The most recent example was that of Mr. Rob Porter, a staff secretary in the White House, and by all accounts, an effective manager who made a significant contribution to whatever good order was maintained in this famously chaotic administration. Unfortunately for Porter, it was revealed that he had beaten not one but two of his now ex-wives, and that the FBI knew about it, and had informed the White House. Ordinarily this type of behavior would prohibit an applicant from serving in the White House, and someone should have stopped it. Instead, he served for about a year, and the administration was embarrassed.

Big deal, right? A mistake was made. People get embarrassed every day. You swallow your medicine and move on. Except in this administration. Instead, President Trump made a public statement about this staff error.

“We wish him well,” Mr. Trump said of Porter. “He also, as you probably know, says he is innocent. . . .He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career.’
It’s not the worst thing for a president to give the benefit of the doubt to someone in trouble. In Trump’s case, a pattern has emerged: the doubt has been offered to the wife beater, a child molester, neo Nazis and Vladimir Putin, and withheld from immigrants, protesting football players,, residents of Haiti and El Salvador, American intelligence agencies, and the officials of the FBI. President Trump is quite selective about who benefits from his open mind.

But far more dismaying than Trump’s lack of integrity is that displayed by his party in Congress. For nearly all my life, the Republican Party was the scowling, serious, adult party. We Democrats were the optimistic party, the ones who thought money could solve everything, and we relied upon Republicans to be the grown ups about spending (just as they relied on us to have some heart.) But under their new tax plan enacted by the Republican Congress, , the United States is shouldering a $1.5 trillion deficit. It’s an astonishing wager, unnecessarily dumping debt onto future generations in an effort to stimulate growth in an economy that was already chugging along at close to three percent a year.

But even more than deficits, Republicans were hostile to Russia. Even Nixon, who pushed a policy of Détente, threatened to use nuclear weapons if the Soviet Union intervened in the Yom Kippur War on behalf of Egypt and Syria. Suddenly today’s Republicans have accepted the news of Russian interference in our elections with lassitude usually reserved for a rainy day. “Oh, well, too bad. I guess I’ll pick up the dry cleaning tomorrow.’ ‘ And they’re greeting the ever-mounting indications that the Trump campaign was complicit as an excuse to level mindbending accusations against the FBI.

For three quarters of a century, it was easy to be proud of being an American. We helped beat the Nazis, and then engaged in a long Cold War with a totalitarian power, and managed to steer that conflict to a peaceful end. We helped rebuild Europe after the war, and perhaps chastened by what we saw of hate run amok in Germany, we went home and struggled to address our own racial problems.

But now I see my country as though in a funhouse mirror, with up turned down and in turned out, and with every scar and blemish and wart and wattle magnified a thousand times, eclipsing all that we remembered. It is a heartsickening time to be alive.

MARCH 2018: “THIS IS A MAJOR BREACH OF TRUST, AND I’M REALLY SORRY”


3.29 Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant and rec league goalie, entered the Blackhawks game agains the Jets, played as an emergency goalie, made seven saves, and was named player of the game.
3.29 Rusty Staub dies
3.26 Washington Post: “Why are white Christians sticking so closely to President Trump, despite these claims of sexual indiscretions? And why are religious individuals and groups that previously decried sexual impropriety among political leaders suddenly willing to give Trump a “mulligan” on his infidelity?
Our new study points to . . . Christian nationalism — their view of the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation.”
3.26 Roger Cossack in the New York Times: “He is looking for the guy who can say, ‘I know how to handle Mueller. I know you think he is bad, and we’ll take care of it.’ Problem is, you can’t find that lawyer, because no one will be able to do that.”
3.26 Blitt in The New Yorker
3.25 Stormy Daniels discusses her affair with Trump on 60 Minutes. She says she was threatened.
3.25 New York Post: “Oy vey! Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday made fun of the “rhythm” of “our Jewish brothers and sisters” during a speech at a predominantly black church in Harlem. Cuomo strayed onto the risky terrain of religious humor and stereotypes while thanking the congregation at Mount Neboh Baptist Church for the invitation to speak. “I want you to know as a matter of full disclosure, I am a Catholic. Catholics basically believe the same teachings that Baptists believe,” he said. “We just do it without the rhythm. But we try. We are not as without rhythm as some of our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Cuomo even singled out the off-beat swaying of Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, a former campaign adviser who is Jewish, who was sitting in the front row wearing a yarmulke. “I was watching Mr. Sheinkopf here in the front row moving to the music,” Cuomo said of the politico, who was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi in 2011. “It was ugly, I’ll tell you the truth,” the governor added.
3.24 Author Philip Kerr dies
3.24 Dinner at Living Social in Mt. Kisco with Greg and Susan and Cathy and Ginny
3.24 Kansas State and Loyola Chicago become the first 9 vs. 11 teams to complete in an Elite Eight game in an NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Loyola Chicago wins, becoming the fourth No. 11 seed to move into the Final Four
3.24 Rick Santorum on CNN: “How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations where there is a violent shooter and you can actually respond to that? They took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I as an individual deal with this problem? How am I gonna do something about stopping bullying in my community? What am I gonna do to actually help respond to a shooter?’ ”
3.24 800,000 people march against guns
3.24 David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, announced a plan to stop school shooters: “Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks, and they will be stoned.”
3.23 Trump names John Bolton National Security AdvisorGeorge Will in the Post: “Because John Bolton is five things President Trump is not — intelligent, educated, principled, articulate and experienced — and because of Bolton’s West Wing proximity to a president responsive to the most recent thought he has heard emanating from cable television or an employee, Bolton will soon be the second-most dangerous American. On April 9, he will be the first national security adviser who, upon taking up residence down the hall from the Oval Office, will be suggesting that the United States should seriously consider embarking on war crimes.”
3.23 Congress passes $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill
3.22 Samantha Bee: “Hope Hicks, thanks to your force field of bland, pretty whiteness, you’ll probably escape this nightmare presidency unscathed. You’ll disappear into the nice, wealthy anonymity in a nice town somewhere and someday you’ll go to the gates of the nice, white Protestant heaven where St. Peter will laugh in your face and say, ‘You think you’re getting in here? You helped burn down democracy, bitch. Get your ass downstairs.’”
3.22 Carl Sagan in 1995: “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”
3.22 Cheri Jacobus, a Republican PR/political consultant, compared “Hicks’s role as White House communications director to that of a ” ‘comfort goat’ placed in the stall of Secretariat to keep him calm. ”
3.22 Edward Stack, chief executive of Dick’s: “The kids in Florida and across the nation have taken a stand and been brave enough to make their voices heard. The majority of Americans are demanding that members of Congress take a stand and be brave enough to do their jobs.”
3.22 Charles Lane in the Post, on Vaclev Havel‘s Power and the Powerless: Havel memorably asked his readers to imagine a greengrocer who obediently posts a hackneyed slogan — “workers of the world, unite!” — in the window of his shop. He asks us to imagine as well all the people who unthinkingly pass by each day. Everyone takes the slogan for granted; it’s part of the “panorama.” Havel defined the panorama as an ideologically manipulated urban landscape that communicates to people “where they are living and what is expected of them,” and what they must do, lest they lose “their peace and tranquility and security.” The panorama included not only shop-window slogans but also statues of Joseph Stalin, Vladi­mir Lenin and other Soviet heroes. What would happen, Havel asked, if one fine day that greengrocer stopped going along to get along? If he started thinking about the panorama, instead of accepting it? Suppose he takes down the sign and begins “to say what he really thinks at political meetings,” or “even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support.”
3.21 Mark Zuckerberg: “‘This is a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened.’
3.21 John Brennan on Morning Joe: “I think he’s afraid of the president of Russia.”
3.21 Peter King ran a letter from me in SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback’s Tuesday Mailbag! Says Pete: “Great email, Jamie.”
3.21 Another nor-easter.
3.21 Texas bombing suspect blows self up during police chase
3.21 Washington Post: Republicans in Congress are hesitant to antagonize President Trump ahead of ahead of difficult midterm elections, wary of sparking a backlash from a committed grassroots base more loyal to the White House. Amid sky-high Democratic enthusiasm and a developing “blue wave,” Republicans can’t afford a war with Trump that depresses GOP turnout. Republicans might be worried about Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, but they are reluctant to push back, much less support legislation to curtail the president’s ability to fire Mueller and sideline the federal probe . “The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature,” said Sen. Bob Corker, who decided to retire when his second term concludes at year’s end, after periodically sparring with Trump. “People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not,” Corker added.
3.21 Fox commentator Ralph Peters: “[Fox is] “a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”
3.21 Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Well, I think what the president will have done is stopped an investigation in whether or not his campaign colluded with the Russians, what effect the Russians had on the 2016 campaign. I can’t see it being anything other than a corrupt purpose.”
3.20 Student gunman in Maryland dies after shooting two others
3.20 Bomb in Austin explodes, apparantly fifth in a series
3.20 “Disturbing undercover interviews with executives from U.K.-based political research firm Cambridge Analytica have revealed admissions of bribery, entrapment and the use of sex workers to sway political elections around the world, according to an investigative series airing Monday.” U.K. authorities have taken over the investigation into Cambridge Analytica.
3.19 Cynthia Nixon announces her bid for governor
3.19 Olivia Nuzzi in New York: ““Hope!” he’d scream. “Hopey!” “Hopester!” “Get in here!” Many requests were mundane. “He doesn’t write anything down,” one source close to the White House told me. “He doesn’t type, he dictates. ‘Take this down, take this down: Trump: richest man on Earth.’ ” A second source who meets regularly with the president told me that Hicks acted almost as an embodiment of the faculties the Trump lacked — like memory. “He’ll be talking, and then right in the middle he’ll be like, ‘Hope, what was that … thing?’ ” When the name of a senator or congressman or journalist came up, Trump would prompt Hicks to provide a history of their interactions, asking, “Do we like him?” “And she fucking remembers!” (Trump has said his own memory is “one of the greatest memories of all time.”) “She’s the only person he trusts,” the second source continued. “He doesn’t trust any men and never has. He doesn’t like men, you see. He has no male friends. I was just with one of them the other day, someone who’s described as one of his closest friends, and he doesn’t know him very well. But a small number of women, including his longtime assistant back in New York, he really listens to them — especially if he’s not banging them. Because, like a lot of men but more so, Trump really does compartmentalize the sex and the emotional part.”
3.19 Finland topped last year’s winner Norway in the annual World Happiness Report. Finland placed well across all indicators – income, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, trust and generosity – in the United Nations report, which ranked 156 countries on happiness levels using data from Gallup World Poll Surveys from 2015 to 2017. The US fell four places to 18th.
3.18 Elizabeth Bruenig in the Washington Post: “Sanders pointed out that the top 1 percent of earners would rake in roughly 83 percent of the benefits of President Trump’s tax cuts, a series of policies for which Koch-led groups spent more than $20 million. As Yale University political scientist Jacob Hacker pointed out in The Post, the decision to supply a generous tax cut to the rich — greatly encouraged by the vast wealth of billionaire donors — is a de facto decision to reduce expenditures that help ordinary Americans, “like public investments in infrastructure, education, research and development, and the regulation of labor and financial markets.” Put simply, inequality allows the wealthiest Americans to exert undue control over politics, thereby maintaining the conditions that made them rich in the first place, and hamstringing government efforts that could increase opportunities for the rest of us.”
3.17 The New York Times and The Observer of London say that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, had used the Facebook data to develop methods that it claimed could identify the personalities of individual American voters and influence their behavior. The firm’s so-called psychographic modeling underpinned its work for the Trump campaign in 2016, though many have questioned the effectiveness of its techniques. Facebook did not inform users whose data had been harvested, however. The lack of disclosure could violate laws in Britain and in many American states.
3.17 Former CIA director John Brennan on Twitter: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”
3.17 Howard Dean on Twitter:: “Based on what Brennan has said and what the Mercers did, I am thinking there will be treason charges before we are done with all this.”
3.16 The Economist: “America is rattled. An investigation is under way that is expected to conclude that China’s theft of intellectual property has cost American companies around $1trn; stinging tariffs may follow.”
3.16 Elevator
3.15 Max Boot in the Washington Post: “What would the West do if it were to get serious about Russian aggression? Putin and his cronies have billions of dollars stashed in the West. London is a particular favorite of Russian exiles. Freeze the money. Seize the properties. Hurt them where it counts. The United States can also designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, just like North Korea, which also used a nerve agent for an assassination abroad. Stop treating Russia like a legitimate state: Putin has already been kicked out of the Group of 8 gatherings; he can be removed from the G-20, too. Kick Russia out of the SWIFT system, denying Russian banks access to international monetary transfers. Invoke NATO’s Article 5 collective-defense clause.”
3.14 British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered Wednesday the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage, in the first reprisals against Moscow for a chemical attack against a former double agent.
3.13 Stephen Hawking dies at 76. Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York: “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.”
3.13 James Hohmann in the Washington Post: Republicans tried to run on the tax cuts, which they’ve promised for months will be the centerpiece of their 2018 messaging. Commercials highlighted Lamb’s opposition to reform and relief for the middle class. When these spots didn’t move the needle, GOP groups stopped talking about them. Politico’s Kevin Robillard pulled the data to show what was on the airwaves: “For the weeks of Feb. 4 and Feb. 11, roughly two-thirds of the broadcast television ads from Saccone’s campaign, the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee mentioned taxes … For the week of Feb. 18, that dropped to 36 percent, and to 14 percent the week after. … Since the beginning of March, tax ads have been essentially nonexistent.” These groups then hammered Lamb, a Marine Corps veteran and former prosecutor, as pro-sanctuary cities. Then they accused him of letting dangerous drug dealers get off the hook for their crimes with lenient sentences. (The dark turn the ads took in the final weeks foreshadows a particularly nasty fall campaign. If you live in a battleground and have young children, you might want to keep them away from the tube.) Something similar happened in last year’s Virginia governor’s race.Republican Ed Gillespie initially made a proposal for tax cuts the centerpiece of his campaign. When that failed to excite conservatives, he embraced divisive wedge issues. Gillespie defended Confederate monuments, attacked his opponent on sanctuary cities and called him weak on the MS-13 street gang. Democrat

3.15 At Spoken Interludes in Hastings, the reading authors included my pal Bruce Handy (Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult); James Hamblin (If Our Bodies Could Talk: Operating and Maintaining a Human Body)and Amy Bass (One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together)
Ralph Northam won anyway.
3.13 Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly elected to Congress in solid Republican district in Western Pennsylvania, a further indication of the coming blue wave. Washington Post: “Lamb stressed the importance of organized labor to the future of the Democratic Party, spoke up for the value of unions and work, and emphasized the importance of maintaining bedrock programs such as Medicare and Social Security. He had also campaigned against the GOP tax cuts as a giveaway to the rich — and, importantly, blasted the tax cuts for creating deficits that would require deep cuts to entitlements, harming the middle class.”
3.13 President Trump‘s fires-via-tweet of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Axios: White House officials say that it’s getting ever more difficult for aides to disagree with Trump, or stand up to him about the consequences of decisions great and small. . . .Trump trusts his own instincts and counsel more than he did a year ago.” New York Times: “Tillerson’s dismissal, on the heels of Gary D. Cohn’s resignation, pulls the Trump administration further out of the economic and foreign policy mainstream and closer to the nationalist ideas that animated Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
3.13 Albany
3.12 Albany
3.12 Tim Berners-Lee: “What’s more, the fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponise the web at scale. In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data. We’ve looked to the platforms themselves for answers. Companies are aware of the problems and are making efforts to fix them — with each change they make affecting millions of people. The responsibility — and sometimes burden — of making these decisions falls on companies that have been built to maximise profit more than to maximise social good. A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions.”
3.9 Three weeks after a school shooting claimed 17 lives in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) defied his longtime allies at the National Rifle Association on Friday to sign into law a new set of gun regulations
3.6 Took the Push the Cush Tour to the Stamford Historical Society. First Nutmeg State Appearance! Thanks to all.
3.8 Trump said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May in an effort to achieve permanent denuclearization.
3.7 Yascha Mounk, in The Washington Post: “The evidence of the past years seems to suggest that popular support for democracy has always depended on what political scientists call “performance legitimacy”–the ability of a political system to deliver the goods–to a much greater extent than we realized. So as people have grown frustrated with the ability of the democratic system to give them what they want, they have rapidly changed their attitudes about the system.”
3.5 Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez: “This isn’t Red vs. Blue. This is Death vs. Money.”
3.4 E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Post: “How did we get a government of this sort? For decades, our country has been witness to a war on public life. Legitimate dissatisfaction with government has turned into contempt for government itself and a denial of the indispensability of politics. We value expertise from our doctors, nurses, engineers and scientists. But when it comes to government, there is a popular assumption that those who spend their lives mastering the arts of administration, politics and policymaking must be up to no good. This inclination, by the way, is prevalent in other democracies, too. It is an attitude that leads voters to mistake inexperience for purity and outsider status (often, as in Trump’s case, a feigned outsiderism) for an exceptional understanding of the people’s wishes. It has turned the word “politician” into an epithet, even though most of our best presidents (Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt especially) have been politicians through and through. The cliched and supposedly high-minded distinction between “a politician” and “a statesman” was always wrong. It’s coming back to haunt us.”
3.4 The Shape of Water, Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney win Oscars
3.4 Jeffrey Fleishman in the LA Times: “There has been a shift … in the cult of celebrity. Selfies, Instagram and YouTube have made us our own celebrities; the real ones posing beside us at film premieres and restaurants have become extras in our videoed romans à clef. They don’t seem as otherworldly as they once did. Notions of fame have been reinvented, and the audience has become the star in an endless loop of blurred lines.”
3.4 Optimum out
3.3 Optimum out
3.3 Alex Baldwin as Trump on SNL: “I said I was going to run this country like a business; that business is a Waffle House at 2 a.m. Crazies everywhere, staff walking out in the middle of their shift, managers taking money out of the cash register to pay off the Russian mob.”
3.3 Sen Tom Cotton at the Gridiron Club: “More than a few reporters have strained to find the sources of the electrifying personality that’s carried me so far in politics … This is what you get when you combine the common touch of Harvard, the sensitivity of the Army, and the personal mentoring of Dick Cheney.”
3.3 Washington Post: Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility — with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center. These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much farther President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: “We haven’t bottomed out.” Trump is now a president in transition, at times angry and increasingly isolated. He fumes in private that just about every time he looks up at a television screen, the cable news headlines are trumpeting yet another scandal. He voices frustration that son-in-law Jared Kushner has few on-air defenders. He revives old grudges. And he confides to friends that he is uncertain about whom to trust.
3.2 Robert Kagan in the Washington Post: “It is impossible to imagine Trump and his repeated big lies that go viral except in the digital-video age. It is impossible to imagine our present political polarization except in the age of the Internet, which drives people to sites of extreme views that validate their preexisting prejudices. And, in the spirit of Hollywood, it is impossible to imagine the degree and intensity of emotional and sensory manipulation, false rumors, exaggerations and character assassination that decay our public dialogue except in this new and terrifying age of technology which has only just begun. Digital-video technology, precisely because it is given to manipulation, is inherently controlling. Think of how the great film directors of the 20th century were able to take over your mind for a few hours: a new experience for audiences that previous generations had never known. Theater may be as old as the ancient Greeks, but the technology of film lent a new and powerful force to the theatrical experience. Moreover, it was contained within a limited time period, and afterward you came back to the real world. In the 21st century, dictators may have the capability to be the equivalent of film directors, and the show never stops. Indeed, Joseph Goebbels would undoubtedly thrive in today’s world. As for warfare itself, it will be increasingly about dividing and demoralizing enemy populations through disinformation campaigns whose techniques are still in their infancy. The Chinese, eventually with the help of big data, are working on following the Internet searches of their citizens, and then determining who needs to be singled out for further observation. If a government or a company knows the destination and sequence of all of your searches, it is virtually inside your mind. The possibilities are frightening, and the vistas for oppression unbounded. The digital age, originally sold to us as empowering, could yet become the greatest threat to free thought and democracy in history. The very idea of something going viral is an expression of the mob more than of the individual. The fact that Google partially ranks search results in terms of how many other sites have linked to them reinforces groupthink, not individuality. The entire logic of the Web works toward popularity, not quality, and certainly not toward truth. Never before have we had to fight for democracy and individual rights as now in this new and — in some sense — dark age of technology. We must realize that the fight for democracy is synonymous with the fight for objectivity, which lies at the core of professional journalism — a calling whose foundational spirit was forged in the print-and-typewriter age, when mainly the movies were fake. We will fight best by thinking tragically to avoid tragedy. This means learning to think like the tyrants who feed and prosper on misinformation so we can keep several steps ahead of them. Only in that way can we build safeguards against the specific dangers of the digital experience. The pioneers of Silicon Valley were inherent optimists who simply believed in connecting the world. But it is precisely such integration that provides our authoritarian enemies with access into our own democratic systems. The future will be about wars of integration rather than wars of geographic separation. So now constructive pessimism is called for. The innocent days when illusions were the province of movie stage sets are way behind us.”
3.2 Nor’easter strikes. Bombogenesis is expected
3.1 Steve Bannon: “In the modern digital age — and [Obama chief strategist David] Axelrod saw this very early on, and we a little bit copied it — there’s three things that are important: It’s authenticity of candidate. The one thing the Internet has done is blown through phonies. Number two is the importance of actionable ideas. Obama had a series of actionable ideas. Donald Trump had a series of actionable ideas. It’s the reason my office was called the war room. Number three is — and this is also an Obama and Trump [characteristic] — a volunteer army of dedicated people.”

FANTASTICON

“I really believe I would have run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon. I would have run in there, and when I saw him, the first thing I would have done is create a diversion. I would have looked for maybe a science geek, you know, a kid with thick glasses and pimples who looks like a loser but who knows, might come up with one of those apps that, you know, chews your food or something, and suddenly he’s unbelievably rich, and I’m wondering why the hell Don Jr. isn’t trying to sell him a coop. I would have said “Quick, kid, run over to the lab and grab a test tube and make an explosion or a stinky gas or something.” But if he started taking too long, I’d look for a hot teacher, like in Van Halen‘s `Hot for Teacher’ video, and I’d get her to flash come cleavage and distract the guy until I could come up and disable him with this Krav Maga technique I learned from this Israeli Special Forces operative who used to be a troubleshooter in my steak business. And then everybody would have said “Hooray for President Trump, he is our hero.’

“But then I would have noticed that a lot of people still looked sad, and I really believe I would have asked why. And they would tell me that the kid who was going to play the lead in the school musical was too upset to go on, and now they had to cancel. So I would have said, `What show?’ And then they would have said `West Side story.’ And I would have said, `I’ll do it.’ And they would have said, `Really? No way!’ And I would have said, `Aw come on–`Boy, Boy, Crazy Boy’? `When You’re a Jet You’re a Jet’? `Hey Officer Krupke, Krup You?’ Take me to my dressing room!”’ In the end, the show would have been fantastic, even though the girl who played Maria tightened up when I guess it hit her that she was singing opposite the President of the United States. I told her, “Listen, sweetheart, I understand completely. Have a seat. I’ll take it from here.’ And so I started doing both parts, Tony and Maria, and I tell you, that was tough, particularly the duets. Tough to harmonize. But the show was great. That’s not just my opinion. You could ask a lot of people. I heard a lot of people say that they’d never seen anything like it.

“Still, at the cast party, I saw a lot of long faces. So I asked this one girl, “Hey what are you into?” Now she was a cute girl, so I expected her to say cheerleading or something, but lo and behold, she says `Model UN.’ I never heard of that, so she starts explaining, and after two minutes I say, `Hey, the hell with that, I can get us into the real UN.” So we all piled onto the plane, and while we flew up, I called Nicki Haley on the phone and I said, “Nicki, sweetie, do me a favor. Go over to McDonald’s — I’m guessing you’re closest to the one on 47th Street, or maybe the one at Third and 50th. Buy out the joint. I’m bringing like 500 people with me, and we’re starving.

“So we get to the UN, and we eat, and Nicki starts showing us around. And it’s Humanitarian this and Hunger that, very interesting, but I guess we’re taking our time, because we get overtaken by this other group.And I noticed this one dude had a Pyeong Chang tote bag. And I thought, “Hey, maybe he knows Ivanka.” So I went over to chat, and suddenly I recognize him. It’s Kim Jon-un! And he reaches into his tote bag and pulls out a rocket launcher. Rocket Man has a rocket launcher! And he points it at me and snarls `Say your prayers, dotard.’ Because that ‘s what he calls me–dotard. I mean, cut me a break. I call him Rocket Man, and he calls me dotard? It means “an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile.” Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think an insult is very effective if you have to look it up in a dictionary. Anyway, while he’s telling me to say my prayers, I give the high sign to this hot UN interpreter that it’s time to flash a little cleavage, which provides just enough of an opening for me to pounce. And even though I still don’t have a weapon, I render him unconscious with the Vulcan Death Grip I learned from watching Star Trek. And he collapses, and everybody starts clapping and cheering. But not so fast–I’m still not celebrating, because I notice something funny on Rocket Man’s neck. And I reach down and start pulling it. It turns out to be a mask, and underneath, he’s really Crooked Hillary! And everybody starts cheering all over again, and Robert Mueller comes up and says, “Wow, there’s the real collusion. How did I miss that?” And all my generals huddle in a corner and come back and say “For saving the world, we are making you an honorary general, and will have a big parade, and you can watch it, or march in it, or both, whatever you decide.” And now the cheering gets so loud I can hardly hear a thing, and suddenly, I’m standing next to Kate Winslet, who I grab around the wait and hoist above my head. “Say it,” she says. “Say `I’m king of the world.’ So I did.”

“And I think most people in this room would have done that too.”

FEBRUARY 2018: “TAKE THE GUNS FIRST, GO THROUGH DUE PROCESS SECOND”

2.28 Albany
2.28 The Beast from the East: Snow storms from Siberia blasted Britain and Ireland on Thursday with the worst weather since 1991
2.28 Quartz: Rhesus macaques prefer evocative imagery in advertising, preferably featuring female macaque backsides or dominant males.
2.28 President Trump: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
2.27 Hope Hicks tells Congress that she tells `little white lies’ for Trump
2.26 Daily Kos: “The intensity of feeling is hardening against the president. The percentage who “strongly disapprove” of him is more than double the percentage who “strongly approve,” 39% compared with 16%.
2.26 Daily Kos: By almost 2-1, 61%-33%, they say tightening gun-control laws and background checks would prevent more mass shootings in the United States. By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, they say semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, used by the Florida shooter, should be banned. By more than 6-1, 76%-12%, they say people who have been treated for mental illness should be banned from owning a firearm.
2.25 Anne Applebaumin the Washington Post: “Enrage the base. Use violent language. Create fear and anxiety. Talk the country down, tell everybody that things are getting worse. Promote division — sort Americans into “us” and “them,” in speech and online. Undermine democracy itself: Hint heavily that the vote is rigged, that the system is broken, that the nation’s ideals are trash. Engage in voter suppression, too: Discourage potential opponents from going to the polls at all. Imply that your rivals are crooks or thieves, and lie about their records. These were the tactics used by the Russian “Internet Research Agency” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, brilliantly exposed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s indictment. . . . . There’s only one thing we’ve forgotten: These were the same tactics used by Donald Trump himself.”
2.26 Donald Trump: “”I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”
2.25 Cynthia Heimel, author of Sex Tips for Girls, dies at 70. “A sense of humor isn’t everything. It’s only 90 percent of everything.”
2.24 Quartz: $105,000 is the point at which greater household income in the US is not associated with greater happiness. The technical term for this cutoff is the income “satiation point.”
2.24 Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel: “Instead of rushing in, several Broward sheriff’s deputies waited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while a killer gunned down schoolchildren, according to other officers on the scene.”
2.24 Miami Herald: “Despite … dire warnings and the FBI’s awareness of a September 2017 tip … labeling Cruz as a potential ‘school shooter,’ … the [FBI] call center intake specialist and a supervisor decided not to take further investigative action, … according to … Republican Sen. Charles Grassley,” chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating.
2.24 Fig and Olive with Paul and Anne and Ginny
2.24 The US men’s curling team beat Sweden and captured Olympic gold for the first time in history on Saturday – and then was awarded the wrong set of medals. Four of those five US curlers were given medals meant for the winners of the women’s competition.
2.23 Albany
2.23 Trump reads `The Snake’ at PAC. “ ‘Oh, shut up, silly woman!’ said the reptile with a grin. ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in,’ ” Trump will say, his voice often rising to a growl. The lyrics were written in the 1960s by Oscar Brown Jr., an outspoken singer, songwriter, social activist and former Communist Party member from Chicago.
2.22 Shepard Smith on Fox News: White House senior aide Jared Kushner’s multiple omissions on required financial disclosure forms for his security clearance would “be a crime, punishable by prison” for other people. “Apparently not in this case.”
2.22 Daily Kos: Samantha Fuentes, who was shot in both legs during the Parkland assault, said she had felt no reassurance during a phone call from the president to her hospital room last week. “He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she said in an interview after being discharged from the hospital. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life.He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.” Ms. Fuentes, who was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye, said Mr. Trump had called the gunman a “sick puppy” and said “‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like, seven times.”
2.22 Albany
2.22 Fareed Zakaria: “In just one year in office, Trump has already done damage. Besides denigrating critical media outlets and lauding friendly ones, he has threatened to strengthen libel laws, strip network licenses and tax the owner of a particular newspaper. His administration has blocked the merger of a news organization he considers biased, while facilitating the merger of an organization with more favorable coverage. “An institution,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Institutions are collections of rules and norms agreed upon by human beings. If leaders attack, denigrate and abuse them, they will be weakened, and this, in turn, will weaken the character and quality of democracy. The American system is stronger than most, but it is not immune to these forces of democratic decay.”
2.21 The US Women’s Hockey Team beats Canada in a shootout, wins the gold medal
2.21 U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney: “Yeah, well, obviously there is a lot of politics in it, and it’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but the media doesn’t talk about that either.”
2.20 David Hogg, 17-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior, to CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I am not a crisis actor. I’m somebody that had to witness this and live through this and I continue to have to do that. The fact that some of the students at Stoneman Douglas high school … are showing more maturity and political action than many of our elected officials is a testament to how disgusting and broken our political system is right now in America. But we’re trying to fix that.””
2.20 Philip Bump in the Post: “We’re just four presidential lives away from the Founding Fathers. John Adams — or Thomas Jefferson, if you want to talk about an author of the Declaration of Independence — was alive at the same time as Andrew Johnson. Johnson was alive at the same time as Herbert Hoover. Hoover was still alive when Trump was born. But as a commenter noted after that original article, we can collapse American history even further. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, Martin Van Buren was 6 years old. He died when William Howard Taft was 4. Taft died when George H.W. Bush was 6.”
2.20 Trump orders Sessions to draw up regulations banning bump stocks
2.20 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy. That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. . . .Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here’s an imperfect but close analogy: It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”. . . It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it. . . . That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.
2.20 Andrew Ross Sorkin in the Times: “What if the finance industry — credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express; credit card processors like First Data; and banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — were to effectively set new rules for the sales of guns in America?”
2.19 Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir not only won the gold in ice dancing, but broke the world record in total points.
2.19 Philip Rucker in the Post: “For everyone, [the Florid school shooting] was a distraction or a reprieve,” said the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”
2.19 Eugene Robinson in the Post: “Late Saturday night, well past his usual bedtime, Trump was wide-awake and still tweeting: “The only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Stop laughing, Vladimir Putin. You’ll hurt yourself.”
2.18 Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “For whatever reason, Trump is unwilling to accept the reality of what happened in 2016 and, more alarming, unwilling to do his duty to seek to prevent it from happening again. We are at war with an enemy plotting to undermine our democracy, and our supposed leader, far from working to halt this, seems determined to ignore it. Where is Trump’s outrage now that the evidence against Russia is public, not that he needed to wait for that? It is invisible.”
2.17 After dinner at Rye House in Port Chester, saw Black Panther with Ginny, Molly Cara and Shawn.
2.16 Quinta Jurecic in the Washington Post: “Trump is presiding over a great destabilization in American life, and his attacks on institutions are a key aspect of this uprooting. He appoints Cabinet secretaries whose main goal seems to be destroying their own agencies, and he directs bile toward institutions personally. He began his presidency in a battle with the intelligence agencies, mocking their report on Russian election interference and comparing them to officials in “Nazi Germany.” He has since moved on to attacking the FBI and the Justice Department for failing to display adequate loyalty. He regularly complains about the civil service, saying he is being thwarted by a malignant “deep state.” He dubbed a federal judge who ruled against his immigration ban a “so-called judge” and accused the courts of putting the country in “peril.” He suggested that the news media is the “enemy of the American people.” With each new outrage, Trump smashes assumptions about the things a president would never do or say. Nonpartisan norms we thought we could depend on, such as the independence of the Justice Department and the importance of a free press, appear under threat.”
2.16 LeBron James: “When I was growing up, there were, like, three jobs that you looked to for inspiration, or you felt like these were the people that could give me life. It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was like the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you could grab inspiration from them. If there was a neighborhood African American cop, and he was cool as hell coming around, I felt like I could be him. I never felt like I could be the president of the United States, but I grabbed inspiration from that. At this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.” Kevin Durant in response: “What’s going on in our country, it’s all about leadership, and I learned that playing basketball — I learned a lot of life skills from playing basketball. You need to empower people, you need to encourage people, and that’s what builds a great team. And I feel like our team, as a country, is not run by a great coach.” James: “It’s not even a surprise when he says something. It’s laughable.”
2.16 Max Boot in the Washington Post: “Politicians, primarily but not exclusively Republicans, are turning their idolatrous worship of the Second Amendment into a suicide pact. If the United States had been under assault from Muslim terrorists, they would have acted long ago. But apparently homegrown mass murderers are of scant concern even though they kill far more people than terrorists do.”
2.16 James Hohmann in the Washington Post: “Donald Trump could have gotten his border wall. Democrats were willing to cave on that in exchange for saving the “dreamers.” That would have fulfilled the president’s single biggest campaign promise, and he might have taken a triumphant victory lap. But Trump moved the goal posts, demanded dramatic reductions in legal immigration and then mobilized to kill a bipartisan compromise that would have given him much of what – until very recently – he said he wanted. The White House demanded all or nothing. For now, he gets nothing. Savvy insiders from both parties who have worked on this issue for years were taken aback by Trump’s rejection of the deal brokered by Sens. Susan Collins and Mike Rounds, which Democratic leader Chuck Schumer pushed many members of his caucus to back against their will. Then, in a stinging rebuke, only 39 senators voted for Trump’s four-prong immigration framework. He needed 60. The president’s refusal to accept a meaningful victory, because he wanted a bigger one, is just the latest illustration of the degree to which he has fallen under the thrall of his most rigidly ideological advisers. From entitlements to infrastructure and even Russia, Trump has moved toward the hardliners who work for him this week. After Trump purged and then disavowed Steve Bannon, the conventional wisdom on the D.C. cocktail party circuit was that the president would probably move more toward the GOP establishment and perhaps even moderate. That was always wishful thinking on their part. This week has shown it was wrong.”
2.16 Former ambassador Michael McFaul on MSNBC: “The Internet Research Agency is run by a close, personal friend of Vladimir Putin. They would have never undertaken … this audacious operation without the blessing of the Kremlin. And nothing in Russia happens without Vladimir Putin being involved. . . .three cheers to the FBI and to … Robert Mueller and to everybody that was involved in this — and probably more than just the FBI. This was an incredible achievement, and that will get people’s attention … That’s an instance of deterrence. We were attacked. Our sovereignty was violated. Spies came into our country.”
2.16 Mueller indicts 13 Russians for tampering with the 2016 election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “The nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists.”
2.15 Lita Taufatofua, cross country skier from Tonga, finished in 114th place in the 15km cross-country skiing event, taking 56:41.1 to complete the course, finishing third from last. However, he met his goals: “The first step, finish before they turn the lights off; that’s number one. Don’t ski into a tree, that’s number two.”
2.15 Shepard Smith on Fox: “Forget your political arguments, why can’t we come together as a society and say, ‘We’re going to study this; we’re going to research this; we’re going to put our best and brightest together. Put them all in a room, give them funds and give them whatever they need to figure out why are our children killing each other more in the United States than anywhere else in the world?'”
2.15 Joe Scarborough, on MSNBC: “I grew up in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, for most of my life. You went to church with people that went hunting with their kids. … After something like this happens, it’s not like it’s just my friends in the media, … it’s my friends who have taken their children hunting, whose fathers took them hunting when they were 5 years old, that are saying: ‘I don’t need an AR-15 to go hunting. And I don’t need an AR-15 to protect my family and my home in Pensacola. If somebody walks through my front door, I’ve got all the firepower I need.'” Jon Meacham, to Scarborough: “There’s a huge opening here for a significant moment of leadership. If you’re a United States senator or if you’re the president of the United States, this is moment where you can speak out against the interest group that has an outsized influence over the lives of our children [the NRA]. Speak out, take them on. We remember political leaders, we remember generations — because this is not just the leaders, it’s also us. Because we have to make it possible for them. We remember those leaders and those generations who stand up against clear, self-evident wrongs. This is a self-evident wrong. And if I were in the United States Senate today or the White House today, I’d be thinking that this is a moment to stand up and be counted.”
2.15 EJ Dionne in the Washington Post: “Here is a bet that there is also a quiet revolution of conscience in the country among those who are sick to death of the chaos they see every day on the news, a White House whose energy is devoted to stabbing internal foes in the back and a president who can’t stop thinking about himself. In the face of this, demanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”
2.15 Albany
2.14 Jimmy Kimmel: “You like to say this is a mental health issue but one of your very first acts as president, Mr. Trump, was to actually roll back the regulations that were designed to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. You did that. Your party voted to repeal the mandates on coverage for mental health. So, I agree, this is a mental illness issue because if you don’t agree we need to do something, you’re obviously mentally ill.”
2.14 Albany
2.13 Omarosa, on “Celebrity Big Brother”:“As bad as y’all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence. We would be begging for the days of Trump back if Pence became president. (Pence is) extreme. I’m Christian. I love Jesus. But he thinks Jesus tells him to say things. I’m like, ‘Jesus isn’t saying that.’”
2.13 The Atlantic: Top officials from the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, and other agencies told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia plans to interfere with America’s upcoming midterm elections after successfully targeting some states’ voter data in 2018.
2.13 Todd Howe: “I’m in a boatload of trouble altogether.”
2.13 Shaun White comes from behind to win gold in spectacular fashion
2.13 Washington Post: “Balancing the budget is the latest Trump campaign promise to fall by the wayside. The. . . White House is preparing to propose a budget that fails to get rid of the deficit over 10 years and instead seeks to merely reduce its growth by $3 trillion. This is not what Trump told voters he would do during the 2016 campaign — and even as recently as last year, when the White House claimed (based upon questionable math) his previous budget proposal would have eventually balanced the budget if enacted. At times Trump has even said he would not only get rid of the deficit, but he would somehow wipe out what was then nearly $20 trillion worth of the national debt.”
2.13 Washington Post: “As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.”
2.12 Michael Gerson in the Post: “The institution of the presidency does not require perfect men or women. But by even the most generous standards, Trump is a figure of monumental smallness. He describes himself in terms that would have embarrassed King Louis XIV. He conducts himself with the decorum of a spoiled and nasty child — lashing out at enemies, elevating lackeys, treating professionals at the FBI or CIA like minions, blurting out conspiracy theories and obvious lies. He regularly brings the presidency and the country into disrepute. And the White House staff — leaky, incompetent, embittered, backbiting — has generally followed his example.”
2.10 Barron’s: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed on Friday at 2619.55, rallying 1.5% on the day, but down 5.2% for the week. At Thursday’s close, stocks were down more than 10% from their previous all-time high—the traditional definition of a correction—of 2873, set Jan. 26. The downturn last week ended a streak of 404 trading days without a 5% drop in stock prices from the previous high—the longest such streak in market history. The last correction came in February 2016, when stocks dropped 15%.
2.9 According to a suit against the Weinstein Co. and its founders filed by the New York Attorney General, the Weinstein Co. “employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany [Harvey Weinstein] to events and to facilitate [his] sexual conquests.” “[T]heir primary responsibility included taking [Weinstein] to parties at which he could meet young women … These women were described by some witnesses as … his ‘wing women.'” “One of the members of this entourage was flown from London to New York to teach [his] assistants how to dress and smell more attractive.”
2.9 Pence stands not ten feet from Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korea’s reclusive dictator, but ignores her.
2.9 Carter Eskew in The Washington Post: “The immediate consequences of the tax cut seem to be benefiting Trump: Wages are rising, and so is his popularity. But the tax cut will accelerate the need to raise interest rates, as the economy overheats and the deficit expands. And it could very well shock the system and set off a vicious economic cascade leading to rapid economic deceleration and whiplash.”
2.9 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: Ironically, it took a GOP-led Congress and a Republican president following the anti-tax (never raise no matter how much we spend, cut no matter how much revenue we need) to put a stake in the small-government mythology. As soon as the $1.5 trillion tax cut was passed, the arguments for fiscal restraint and specifically for the Budget Control Act of 2011 went out the window.
2.9 In China, police are now wearing sunglasses equipped with facial-recognition technology to catch criminal suspects.
2.8 Former President George W. Bush in Abu Dhabi: “There’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled. Whether they affected the outcome is another question.”
2.8 Sen. Rand Paul: “If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?”
2.7 Donald Trump Jr.: “I know him [the president]; I’ve seen him my whole life. I’ve seen the things he’s done. You know it’s amazing — all the rappers, all his African American friends, from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton — have pictures with him.”
2.7 Washington Post: “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

2.7 Nancy Pelosi speaks on the floor of the House for eight hours, the longest speech there in a century, She used the time to tell the stories of more than 300 DACA kids.
2.6 SpaceX’s 27-engine Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched, and two of its three boosters successfully returned to earth

2.4 Philadelphia 41, New England 33. The Eagles win their first Super Bowl, and first NFL championship since 1960. Tom Brady: “The Eagles played a better game. They deserved to win. That’s why we’re not world champs. It sucks. But no one is going to feel sorry for us.’’
2.2 Heather Timmons on the risks of dismissing the FBI’s Russia memo: “For the country and its people, the system that apportions specific powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches stands as a guarantee of the rule of law and a bulwark against authoritarian rule. When the intended balance is disturbed by one branch failing to follow the law or even long-standing standard protocol, the very idea of a representative democracy is threatened.”
2.1 Albany

JANUARY 2018

1.25 Frank Bruni in the Times, on the bro vibe among Trump, Tom Brady, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick: “These titans stick together in the way that many titans do, not because they share some special affection or particular philosophy but because each sees in the others’ stature an affirmation of his own. They’re a cluster strut.”
1.25 Wall Street Journal: “The New Dating No-No: Asking for a Last Name — Now that smartphone apps are the primary way people meet, some things have become too awkward to ask” Why it matters: “Asking for a last name ‘is definitely a modern social cue’ that trust is building in a relationship.”
1.24 George Will in the Washington Post: It cannot be a sign of social health that the number of tweets per day worldwide exploded from 5,000 in 2007 to 500 million six years later. And this might be related, by a few degrees of separation, to the fact that whereas in the 1992 presidential election more than one-third of America’s 3,113 counties or their equivalents had a single-digit margin of victory, in the 2016 presidential election, fewer than 10 percent did. And to the fact that in 2016, 1,196 counties — about 2.5 times the average over the preceding 20 years — were decided by margins larger than 50 percent. All of which are perhaps related to rising skepticism, without scientific warrant, about the safety of vaccinations and genetically modified foods. And to the fact that newspaper subscriptions have declined about 38 percent in the past 20 years. And that between 1974 and 2016, the percentage of Americans who said they spent significant time with a neighbor declined from 30 percent to 19 percent.”
1.24 Washington Post: There’s growing cohesion among executives — cutting across industry and even geography — that Trump‘s tax plan is going to deliver massive new investment in the United States, which should, in turn, boost growth and employment.”
1.24 The Big Apple Circus clown Grandma stepped down after being accused of coercing a teen acrobat into taking sexual photos
1.24 NBC: Researchers say remains of a wooden ship found embedded in mud in a river delta in the southern US may be the Clotilda, the last-known vessel to bring slaves to the US nearly 160 years ago.
1.24 Disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar gets 175 years in prison for sex assaults. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina: “I’ve just signed your death warrant,”
1.23 Washington Post:“ Google for the first time spent more than any other company in 2017 to influence Washington, highlighting both the sprawling reach of the country’s thriving tech industry and the rising concern by regulators and lawmakers of its ascendance.”
1.22 Simona Mangiante, fiancee of George Papadopoulos: “I believe history will remember him like John Dean.”
1.21 Stormy Daniels: “It’s crazy how one moment can overshadow 15 years of work.”
1.21 Sen. Tammy Duckworth: “I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger. And I have a message for ‘Cadet Bone Spurs.’ If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger.”
1.21 Pats overtake Jags, Eagles clobber Vikings
1.20 Ginny, Molly and Cara go to the Women’s March in NYC
1.20 Government shut down
1.19 Paul Waldman in the Post: “For every American who really loves Donald Trump, there are about two Americans who really hate him.”
1.19 Elizabeth Bruenig in the Washington Post: “When it’s time for dessert, Trump gets two scoops of ice cream and everyone else gets one, and if, after all that and a sack of McDonald’s, he still decides he has the height and weight of an athlete, then he does. There’s the greed, the hoarding of wealth and gold objects, with vanishingly little given to charity, even just to add a touch of decorum. Decorum doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s something you undertake with regard to other people, and Trump does not regard other people. Unseemliness is a kind of liberty, and Trump has perfected that, too.”
1.19 Albany
1.18 Albany; Melissa: “insanely condescending”
1.18 2017 was Earth’s second-hottest year since 1880.

HAMILTON

Unbelievably, Cara won two front row tickets to Hamilton, which for years has been the toughest ticket on Broadway. Turns out there is a lottery for tickets to most Broadway shows; the odds against winning Hamilton tox were quoted as 10000 to one. It took Cara two weeks before she won (my friend Belinda Luscombe told me she had been playing for two years.) And if she was lucky, it was my great good fortune that she invited me to go along. What an offer! What a daughter! What a show! Very enjoyable! The whole thing is a a monument to the incredible imagination and insight of Lin Manuel Miranda, who possessed first the vision and then the immense talent to reimagine the American creation story in 21st century urban vernacular. It was particularly moving to see the show a week after Trump‘s `shithole’ countries remark. The relevance of the show was all the clearer.

JANUARY 2018: “SHIT HOLE COUNTRIES”


1.14 In a thriller, the Vikings upset the Saints with a desperate pass for a touchdown on the last play of the game.
1.13 Dinner at Pete’s Tavern with Ginny, Greg, Susan and Margaret, followed by The Post. A very good film. I particularly liked how Meryl Streep‘s Katherine Graham found her way to her position of principle by feeling personally betrayed by Robert McNamara.

1.13 A fake text warns Hawaii of imminent nuclear destruction.
1.11 Trump: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
1.10 Shepard Smith on Fox News: “All of that about libel laws, that was just a word salad of nothingness, because none of that means anything, except ‘look over here.’” He couldn’t change the libel laws if he wanted to change the libel laws, he couldn’t change them if he got the Congress in there. These are state laws, and that was nothing. He’s not a dictator. He’s not a king, He can’t change the libel laws. That’s preposterous.”
1.10 NJ.com: Christie “leaves office in a week as the state’s most unpopular governor in modern times, a once-rising star whose presidential ambitions were dashed by the Bridgegate scandal and the rise of Donald Trump.”
1.9 Bannon out at Breitbart
1.9 The reliably entertaining Major Crimes ends a much-appreciated run.
1.8 Bill Gates in Time: “In 1990, more than a third of the global population lived in extreme poverty; today only about a tenth do. A century ago, it was legal to be gay in about 20 countries; today it’s legal in over 100 countries. Women are gaining political power and now make up more than a fifth of members of national parliaments—and the world is finally starting to listen when women speak up about sexual assault. More than 90% of all children in the world attend primary school. In the U.S., you are far less likely to die on the job or in a car than your grandparents were. And so on.”
1.8 An 18 year old freshman quarterback named Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench at halftime with his team trailing 13-0, and led Alabama to an overtime victory that gave the school its fifth national championship under head coach Nick Saban.

1.8 Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist and former Obama pollster: “Running for president is . . . an ugly, nasty, grueling slog through all of these multiple states. It’s going to unglamorous places and showing up at fish fries. To successfully run, you need several things: money, infrastructure and a niche. That said, I think in this current environment — and I cannot believe I am saying this — but if Oprah would throw her hat in the ring, she would be the front-runner.”
1.7 Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes: “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.”
1.6 On a frigid night, a heart-warming show. With Ginny, Cara, Molly and Shawn. Preceded by dinner at Joe Allen’s.
1.5 Steve Schmidt on MSNBC: “When you look at their comportment, they couldn’t be more vile than if they were a group of monkeys throwing their excrement at each other in a cage.”

1.4 “Bomb cyclone” hits east coast.from Floida to New England/ Polar vortex to follow
1.3 Trump “When (Steve Bannon) was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
1.3 Charlie Sykes: “I can’t help thinking of Bannon as the Robespierre of this Trumpian revolution, ultimately devoured by the forces he helped release. He helped create a pro-Trump media ecosystem that demanded loyalty, not ideological consistency. Now that he is perceived as disloyal (and perhaps dangerous), he is going to get the same treatment he used to give the globalist, establishment types.”
1.3 Bannon: “The three senior guys in the campaign … thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor — with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
1.3 Steve Bannon: “They’re going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV. They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”


1.3 Albany today for the State of the State. The New York Times: “With a re-election campaign and potentially treacherous political terrain ahead, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo laid out his 2018 agenda on Wednesday, painting a portrait of a state battling the effects of terrorism, sexual harassment and opioid addiction, and under siege from the Trump administration. In his 90-minute State of the State speech, Mr. Cuomo said the state would challenge the new Republican-led federal tax plan in court — earning a standing ovation from the crowd — and asked the Legislature to restructure the state’s tax code by adding a statewide payroll tax and to counter the effects of the so-called carried interest loophole. . . .with New York facing billions of dollars in budget gaps, and swaths of suburban voters possibly looking at tax increases as a result of the new cap on income and property tax deductibility, the initial reaction in Albany suggested the idea had a puncher’s chance, including among some State Senate Republicans representing moderate districts.”
1.2 Trump tweet: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
1.2 Albany
1.1 New Year’s Day brunch with Greg and Susan and Cathy and Tim

JANUARY 3, 2018: STATE OF THE STATE

An overall less grueling experience than last year ended with a near marathon in Albany (six days between December 26th and January 3rd.) But all’s well that ends well.) The speech was good, but the Governor’s delivery was even better–he showed a new dimension. Reaction was tempered–approving in goals, but possibly too ambitious. Time will tell.