JUNE 2018

6.18 Quartz: When it comes to making the most important and the most long-term decisions, Bezos has a simple rule that’s quite useful: “Focus [your vision] on the things that won’t change.” At Amazon, this means that everything is built around their value of customer obsession. They don’t try to hop on every new fad because they don’t know which one will still matter. They do, however, know that in 20 years, customers will still want faster deliveries and cheaper products. They can build a future around making that a primary area of focus. Similarly, if you’re 30 years old, you may not be able to say exactly how your personal taste will evolve tomorrow, but you can be reasonably sure that if you have enjoyed being creative for 20 years, then the next 20 years likely won’t change that. You can build a career around that.
6.17 Mexico beats Germany, 1-0; ensuing celebration causes earthquake
6.17 Stephen Bannon on ABC: “I think [Trump] speaks in a particular vernacular that connects to people in this country.”
6.17 Fred Hiatt in the Post: He was fired 10 months ago, but Stephen K. Bannon has won. Truculent, anti-immigrant nationalism; disdain for the “deep state”; disparaging democratic allies while celebrating dictators: These are now the pillars of President Trump’s rule. In his administration’s policy, foreign and domestic, and in the compliant Republican Party, Bannonism is ascendant. Corey Stewart, the xenophobic, Confederate-celebrating Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Virginia, is cheered by Trump as the face of this new party. Sen. John McCain, tweeting on behalf of old principles, is a total outsider. Supposed leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Paul D. Ryan fall abjectly into line. This is the victory not only of a Trump personality cult, as it has been described, but also of an ideology, one closer to Putinism than Reaganism.

6.17 Laura Bush: I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.
6.17 “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
6.17 Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”
6.17 On Sunday, The Washington Post reported on a previously unknown point of contact between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and a Russian offering negative information about Hillary Clinton. That new report, involving a Trump campaign staff member and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, means that at least six members of Trump’s broader team knew about offers of dirt from Russians during that campaign — and, depending on how that information was shared, as many as 10 may have, including Trump.

JUNE 16: YANKEES 4, RAYS 1

Ginny and I spent Saturday afternoon at the old ball game, and saw those young Yankees roll on. Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez homered, Luis Severino pitched eight shutout innings, and Aaron Judge blasted two rocket-like doubles. Fun! 1.) Judge 2.) Severino 3.) Sanchez 4.) Us


JUNE 15: LSD TOUR

To celebrate my birthday, Ginny took me to Bethel Woods to see the so-called LSD Tour: Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakum. They really rocked! 1.) The headliners together! 2.) Yoakum; 3.) Lucinda and Steve; 4) The very good opening act King Leg



JUNE 13: DAVID LOBL EXITS

David Lobl, the Governor’s Jewish affair advisor, is departing after something like six years. The Chamber bid him an affectionate adieu at Tuttle’s on June 13th. And deservedly–he is one of the good guys. 1.) John Vincinanza and David; 2.) Maria Michelos, Tom Topousis, Hazel; 3.) Howard Zemsky, Mac Barrett, Bill Mulrow, David; 4.) Bill, David, Kelly Cummings; 5.) David, with the brilliant shirt incorporating his caricature.

JUNE 2018


6.16 Saw the Yanks beat the Rays 4-1 with Ginny. Homers by Stanton and Sanchez, two doubles by Judge, 8 shutout innings by Severino
6.15 The Atlantic: In Baltimore, a 20-year gap in life expectancy exists between the city’s poor, largely African American neighborhoods and its wealthier, whiter areas. A baby born in Cheswolde, in Baltimore’s far-northwest corner, can expect to live until age 87. Nine miles away in Clifton-Berea, near where The Wire was filmed, the life expectancy is 67, roughly the same as that of Rwanda, and 12 years shorter than the American average. Similar disparities exist in other segregated cities, such as Philadelphia and Chicago.
6.15 Portugal 3, Spain 3. Ronaldo scores hat trick.
6.15 Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakum at Bethel Woods with Ginny
6.15 Matt Miller to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell:”We found out today that to the extent the FBI did anything wrong, it helped Donald Trump, not hurt him.”
6.15 FBI IG finds anti-Trump emails, but no influence; Comey reprimanded for “insubordination”
6.15 Trump to Fox and Friends: “He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head, Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
6.12 Tim Kaine to Jonathan Capehart: “The Trump administration is filled with people with glass jaws who they love to punch people, but if somebody punches back? They just can’t believe it. They’re crybabies. President Trump can name-call everybody all day long. And somebody gets in his face a little bit and they melt into a pool of lukewarm water.”
6.14 Alex Wagner in The Atlantic: “We have this beacon that says you can come in, and we will take you, right?” Chris Cabrera said. “So what does that do? That activates people.” Throughout our conversation, Cabrera returned to what he called “the beacon”—in this case, the promise of freedom that was luring children and their families across the border. “When you find an 11-year-old in the brush, dead, alone, and you could see that he’s got his little Pokemon belt on, it breaks your heart,” he said. “At what point do we turn off this beacon?” But that beacon is the idea of America—the promise of a better life, of freedom from persecution. How might anyone possibly extinguish the idea of America? The Trump administration seems to have come up with its answer in the current “zero tolerance” policy for migrant families, one that appears to be based in deterrence. Practically, this means that, for the families making the dangerous journey to the U.S. border, what awaits them is not respite, but trauma: the separation of families and the potential deportation of parents without their children. It is a clarion call to those considering migration north—here, in America, we will take your children. And you may not see them again for a very long time. This, apparently, is how you turn off the idea of America: take the dreams of a better life in this country, and turn them into nightmares. As a means of deterrence, the policy has failed: Illegal crossings in March saw a fourfold increase since the same time last year. For the families—especially the children—who have already been torn apart in the process, and for whom deterrence is a ship long since sailed, the effects of this policy are profound and deeply disturbing. Alan Shapiro, the senior medical director for community pediatric programs at Montefiore Health System, put it bluntly: “This is government-sanctioned torture of children.”
6.14 Washington Post: Trump‘s sit-down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore is a diplomatic breakthrough, but questions remain about whether the president made a major concession to North Korea — ending U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises — in exchange for what critics say is a paper-tiger promise from North Korea to “denuclearize.” However this plays out, Trump’s overtures to North Korea are so history-making that it will likely make the first paragraph of any assessment of his presidency.

6.14 And what is so rare as a day in June?
6.14 Uri Friedman in The Atlantic: Donald Trump got little of substance out of his summit with Kim Jong Un. But that didn’t stop him from making a triumphant, demonstrably false claim about how things went. Trump declared in an early-morning tweet that North Korea’s threat to America has been somehow neutralized altogether: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” In reality, Trump returned to America from the Singapore meeting having secured only a vague promise, not unlike others the North Koreans have broken in the past, about working toward the goal of denuclearization. Yet North Korea has just as many nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and nuclear facilities and personnel, and precisely as much fissile material, as before Trump and Kim shook hands and signed a document in which North Korea vowed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” Not only that, but the North Koreans have come away from the summit with a much more immediate pledge from the president to suspend U.S.-South Korea military exercises that the North has long viewed as a threat. The North Koreans may view their denuclearization commitment as a pie-in-the-sky pledge to give up their nuclear weapons once the nuclear-armed United States withdraws its protection for South Korea and ceases all hostile behavior toward North Korea. The statement they endorsed includes no details on how denuclearization will be implemented, how long it will take, or even what first moves the North will make toward that objective.
6.14 Meeting with Kim was a breakthrough; the agreement was not
6.14 Trump and his children are accused of charity fraud: The Trump Foundation wasn’t really a charity; it was a “personal piggybank” for the president to advance his business and political interests for at least the past decade, the New York attorney general

6.11 The G7 summit ended on an acrimonious note. Trump retracted his support for the leaders’ joint communiqué after he left the summit, lashing out his allies, and singling out Canada’s Justin Trudeau in particular. French president Emmanuel Macron condemned Trump for his “fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” while German chancellor Angela Merkel called his actions “disappointing and depressing.” White House aide Peter Navarro said “there’s a special place in hell” for leaders who stab Trump in the back
6.10 The Tony Awards. Highlight: a moving performance by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who honored their award-winning drama teacher, Melody Herzfeld, by singing “Seasons of Love.” Highlight? Robert DeNiro: “I’m just gonna say one thing. Fuck Trump. It’s no longer down with Trump. It’s ‘Fuck Trump.’”
6.10 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: After President Trump’s atrocious and irrational behavior leading up to and at the Group of Seven summit, the disintegration of the liberal world order in place since the end of World War II and the potential for a serious international crisis no longer seem hard to imagine. The president, unmoved by history, ignorant of facts and guided by sycophants, has not been forced to grapple with the real world nor to hear views that don’t coincide with his twisted worldview, in which allies are ripping us off and aggressive strongmen are to be admired and accommodated.
June 10 Paul Krugman in the Times: “There has never been a disaster like the G7 meeting that just took place. It could herald the beginning of a trade war, maybe even the collapse of the Western alliance. At the very least it will damage America’s reputation as a reliable ally for decades to come; even if Trump eventually departs the scene in disgrace, the fact that someone like him could come to power in the first place will always be in the back of everyone’s mind. What went down in Quebec? I’m already seeing headlines to the effect that Trump took a belligerent “America first” position, demanding big concessions from our allies, which would have been bad. But the reality was much worse. He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.”
June 9 Trump calls Justin Trudeau “weak”
June 9 Justify wins the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown
6.9 Olana, then lunch at Terrapin in Rhinebeck
June 8 The Golden State Warriors win their third NBA title in four years
June 8 Saw Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams at the Colony Hotel with Greg and Susan

OLANA


After spending the night in Kingston, we went north to see Olana, the great estate and grand house built by the great painter of the Hudson School Frederick Church. The home is spectacular, not in the way of millionaire opulence, but artistic vision. Visually exciting building, perfect landscape. What God would have done if he the eye. We followed this will a lovely lunch at Terrapin in Rhinebeck.

CRUELTY IN OUR NAME

Right before our eyes, a catastrophe is taking shape on our southern border. And like the orderly, well-argued, reasonably presented policies that permitted racial segregation, the internment of Japanese nationals, restricting Jewish immigration in the 1930s, and other ugly, shameful moments in our history, this one rises from our failure to recognize costs of political selfishness.

President Trump ran on the promise to stop illegal immigration. True to his word, he is attempting to do that, not by creating an immigration law that tries to address the complex realities of the situation, but with Draconian severity that doesn’t just mock American values, but insults our basic notions of human decency. Minors who attempt to cross the border without papers are being placed in detention centers on military bases, where they live in barbed wire compounds, and sleep on mattresses on the floor. These include not only unaccompanied children, but youngsters who are traveling with their parents or other adults.

Sheltering displaced people is a big challenge for any government under any circumstances. But this is a self-created problem, and the administration has not come anywhere near to rising to the challenge.
In fact, there is reason to believe the government is doing actual harm.

Last week the American Civil Liberties Union says it has obtained 30,000 pages of records documenting abuse and neglect of unaccompanied immigrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Children in custody have alleged that some were run over by vehicles, deprived of edible food and potable water, detained in freezing and unsanitary cells, threatened with rape, and other outrages. At the same time, the New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services says it has lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States.
The CBP denies wrongdoing and says previous allegations were shown to be unfounded, but the administration’s more pointed response was offered by President Trump, These minors, the president said, are fueling drug trafficking and gang violence. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors,’’ said the president. “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”
In fact, innocence until proven guilty is one of the cornerstones of our justice system. Allowing that minors lack the moral judgment of adults is another. As he has done so frequently, the president is condemning large groups of vulnerable, nearly powerless people to create fear, and thus justify his heavy-handed racist policies.

In his brash statements, the president completely overlooks the violent realities of life in Central and South America. Decades of war in many of the countries took hundreds of thousands of lives and destabilized institutions, and the narcotics cartels took care of the rest. Now the countries are infused with violence perpetrated by drug gangs. Of the world’s 50 most violent cities, 42 of those cities are in Latin America. In 2017, Los Cabos, the holiday destination at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula that is beloved by many Americans, saw 365 people murdered, making it, the deadliest city in the world.
Much of the undocumented immigration we see is due to the tremendous destabilization that defines life on our border. And yet we seem to prefer to ignore it—and the role that the appetites of drug-consuming Americans play in the chaos that prevails. Attorney General Sessions recently said the United States “cannot take everyone on this planet who is in a difficult situation.”

Poor us. If only the Attorney General acted as helplessly as he pretends to be. Instead, the administration zealously blames the victims. “If you cross the border unlawfully … then we will prosecute you,” he said in speeches last week. “If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we’ll prosecute you. … If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

Immigration is a tough problem. It needs more than simplistic solutions. The answer to suffering people trying to escape a frying pan is not to trap them in a bigger fire. There is a world of suffering at our southern border in which we have played a part; we need to offer more than indifference and hostility, or we will deserve the shame that will be our reward.

JUNE 2018

6.7 President Trump, on next week’s summit with North Korea: “I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
6.7 The Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup, defeating Las Vaegas, 4 games to 1
6.4 Eric Trump in Westchester Magazine:“ My father’s life became exponentially worse the minute he decided to run for president.”
6.4 Mueller says Manafort has been tampering with witnesses
6.4 Trump disinvites the Eagles. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney: “Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”
6.4 Americans used more than 100 million hot-coffee cups per day in 2015, and that number is expected to rise to 133 million per day by 2025
6.4 “When he says that he’s a victim, all of his billions of dollars melt away and the power of the presidency becomes irrelevant,” said Michael D’Antonio, a Trump biographer. “What people see and hear is a white man who might have been sitting on his porch complaining about how he was cheated on something. There’s an emotional logic to it that is much more powerful than any exploration of the reality could produce.”
6.4 Supreme Court rules in favor of baker who would not make wedding cake for gay couple
6.4 Knut Heidar in the Post: there is an easy way to ensure voting rights: automatic voter registration. In Norway, all citizens registered in the public census are — if qualified — eligible to vote. Prior to an election, they receive a notification card with the election time and date and the location of their local polling station. It is the duty of the state to update the register, which is identical to the public census. No individual action is required. The register is also used for tax lists, public health care systems, passport issuances and many other public services.
6.4 Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) went to a shuttered Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, that has been converted into a detention center for immigrant children who have been separated from their parents. He asked for a tour. Instead, the government contractor that runs the converted store called the cops. An officer filled out a police report, and the senator was asked to leave.
6.3 Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupts; at least 62 people are dead
6.3 “He probably does,” Rudy Giuliani said, when asked on ABC’s “This Week” if Trump has the ability to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”
6.3 In a letter to Mueller, Trump’s lawyers at the time — John Dowd and Jay Sekulow — pushed an expansive view of presidential power. They argued that Trump has authority to “order the termination of an investigation by the Justice Department or FBI at any time and for any reason,” and also that as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the president could “even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.” “The intent behind the letter is rather obvious — this is position bargaining,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School. “But the position laid out is not as strong as claimed. The letter, for example, suggests that the president can refuse to comply with a subpoena. The existing case law favors the special counsel in forcing the president to appear.”
6.3 “In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Giuliani said to the HuffPost. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.” Giuliani said that impeachment would be the remedy for a president’s illegal behavior. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani was quoted as saying. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
6.3 Robert Samuelson at the Post: What’s powering the economy is the economy. Its forward momentum is less the product of any sophisticated economic theory or partisan policy than the pragmatic rebuilding of purchasing power and confidence. Consumer debt burdens have declined; jobs have increased; incomes have risen. The forward motion is not spectacular, but it is steady.
6.3 AP: “Nearly four years after protests in Ferguson raised concerns about racial profiling of blacks in Missouri, a report from the state attorney general shows that African-American drivers are 85 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites — the highest percentage in the 18 years the state has compiled data.”
6.1 John Brennan in the Post: “Mr. Trump, however, has shown highly abnormal behavior by lying routinely to the American people without compunction, intentionally fueling divisions in our country and actively working to degrade the imperfect but critical institutions that serve us. Although appalling, those actions shouldn’t be surprising. As was the case throughout his business and entertainment careers, Mr. Trump charts his every move according to a calculus of how it will personally help or hurt him. His strategy is to undercut real, potential and perceived opponents; his focus is to win at all costs, irrespective of truth, ethics, decency and — many would argue — the law. His disparagement of institutions is designed to short-circuit legitimate law enforcement investigations, intelligence assessments and media challenges that threaten his interests. His fear of the special counsel’s work is especially palpable, as is his growing interest in destroying its mandate.”
6.1 Washington Post: The U.S. lost track of 1,475 immigrant children last year.
6.1 The summit is back on!

MAY 2018: “I DO IT TO DISCREDIT AND DEMEAN YOU ALL”


5.31 Trump pardons Dinesh D’Souza
5.31 First Group replaces Tim O’Toole
5.31 John Boehner: “There is no Republican party. There’s a Trump party. Republican party is kinda taking a nap somewhere.”
5.30 The Americans comes to an end
5.30 The Russian journalist and dissident Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported murdered on Tuesday, appeared alive at a press conference to explain that his death had been faked as part of a Ukrainian intelligence operation.
5.30 A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, finds a far higher estimate for the actual death toll of Hurricane Maria incPuerto Rico, 4,645, than the official estimate of just 64, Researchers say their estimated death toll — 70 times higher than the official estimate — is “likely to be an underestimate.” The biggest factors leading to the higher death toll were disrupted medical services, including access to medication and medical facilities, the study found.
5.30 Braden Holtby makes an amazing stick save on Alex Tuch, preserves Caps 3-2 win in Game 2
5.30 Samantha Bee: “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child. Let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt. He listens to you.”
5.29 Roseanne Barr tweets “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” insulting Valerie Jarrett. ABC immediately cancels the series.
5.29 Max Boot in the Post: I don’t want to engage in false equivalence by suggesting Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame. Republicans are far worse. They are led by a president who engages in the kind of toxic partisanship we have seldom, if ever, seen from the Oval Office. Consider the tweet that Trump posted on Friday: “Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea. Just like they are coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs, saying that they are individuals & must be nurtured, or asking to end your big Tax Cuts & raise your taxes instead.” He is not just disagreeing with Democrats; he is impugning their motives. This follows his accusation that Democrats are guilty of “treason” and that “they certainly don’t seem to love our country very much.”
5.29 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: The majority of GOP officeholders, along with many conservative think-tankers and pundits, continue to cling to 1980s economic policy, however ill-attuned to 21st-century America. They insist that lowering top marginal tax rates on the rich is the key to economic success, forgetting that the top marginal tax rate is already about half of what it was before President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts (70 percent) and ignoring the huge geographic gaps in wealth and productivity. Cutting top marginal tax rates might give a momentary boost to the economy and help the rich get richer, but it does nothing to address the staggering geographic divide between aging, poorer rural America and richer urban America. Not only do the vast majority of struggling, non-college-educated Americans in rural areas pay little federal income tax (and hence benefit minimally from cuts in federal income tax rates), but they have real needs for which supply-side economic theory has no effective response.
5.28 In The New Yorker, Weegee‘s wife Judith Malina discusses the photographer: “He wanted to see the soul of the person. He wanted to see the essence of the person. And he certainly wanted to see the tits of the person.”
5.28 Down by 11 at the half, the Warriors rout Houston by 33-15 in the third. The sharpshooting Rockets close the game going 7 of 44 from behind the 3-point line.
5.27 Ellicott City receives its second thousand-year flood in two years. In just two hours, more than 6 inches of rain fell, and the Patapsco River rose 17 feet
5.27 Playing the entire game, LeBron James carried his undertalented Cavaliers past the green Celtics and into the NBA finals
5.26 Ireland voted to repeal the constitutional provision banning abortion with a crushing majority. An exit poll says that 68 percent voted yes and 32 percent voted against.
5.24 Trump cancels summit with Kim
5.24 James Clapper on PBS: “As a private citizen, it’s what I would call my informed opinion that, given the massive effort the Russians made, and the number of citizens that they touched, and the variety and multi-dimensional aspects of what they did to influence opinion … and given the fact that it turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states, to me it exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election. And it’s my belief they actually turned it.”
5.24 Oceanographers from the Woods Hole Institute, using a robot called the Remus 6000 that traverses the ocean floor, found the wreckage of the Spanish galleon San Jose, which was sunk in the Pacific off Cartegena during an engagement with the British navy, at a loss of 600 lives. Estimated value of the gold, silver and emeralds that were part of the cargo: $17 billion.
5.23 NFL bans players from kneeling during the national anthem
5.23 Sarah Sanders says it bugs her when people accuse of her lying to the press. “It certainly bothers me,” she told The New York Times. “Because one of the few things you have are your integrity and reputation.”
5.23 Washington Post: “Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately. “We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.” Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”
5.23 Sen. Jeff Flake at Harvard: Not to be unpleasant, but I do bring news from our nation’s capital. First, the good news: Your national leadership is…not good. At all. Our presidency has been debased. By a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division. And only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.
And our Article I branch of government, the Congress (that’s me), is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily. I do not think that the Founders could have anticipated that the beauty of their invention might someday founder on the rocks of reality television, and that the Congress would be such willing accomplices to this calamity. Our most ardent enemies, doing their worst (and they are doing their worst), couldn’t hurt us more than we are hurting ourselves. Now, you might reasonably ask, where is the good news in that? Well, simply put: We may have hit bottom.. . . This is it, if you have been wondering what the bottom looks like. This is what it looks like when you stress-test all of the institutions that undergird our constitutional democracy, at the same time. You could say that we are witnesses to history, and if it were possible to divorce ourselves from the obvious tragedy of this debacle, I suppose that might even be interesting, from an academic perspective. The way some rare diseases are interesting to medical researchers. But this is an experience we could and should have avoided. Getting to this state of distress did not occur naturally. Rather, this was thoroughly man-made. This disease of our polity is far too serious to not be recognized for what it is, the damage it threatens to do to our vital organs is far too great for us to carry on as if all is well. All is not well. We have a sickness of the spirit. To complete the medical metaphor, you might say that we are now in critical condition. How did we arrive at a moment of such peril – wherein a president of the United States publicly threatens – on Fox & Friends, historians will note — to interfere in the administration of justice, and seems to think that the office confers on him the ability to decide who and what gets investigated, and who and what does not? And just this week, the President – offering an outlandish rationale, ordered an investigation into the investigation of the Russian attack on our electoral process – not to defend the country against further attacks, mind you, but to defend himself. Obviously, ordering investigations is not a legitimate use of presidential power. I pick this egregious example of recent presidential conduct not because it is rare in terms of this president’s body of work, but because it so perfectly represents what we have tragically grown accustomed to in the past year and a half. Who would have thought that we would ever see encouragement coming from the White House for chants at rallies calling for the jailing of a defeated political opponent. When you don’t even know that there are limits on presidential power, then you might not even care when you are abusing that power.
5.23 Lesley Stahl, on interviewing Trump after the election: “I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?'” Stahl went on. “And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'”
5.23 Philip Roth dies at 85
5.22 Frank Bruni in the Times: Trump’s mantra is “no collusion,” “no collusion,” “no collusion.” Contrary to what his aides reportedly murmur, he’s no idiot. He knows that if he sets the bar at incontrovertible evidence of him and Putin huddled over a Hillary Clinton voodoo doll, he just might clear it. And he knows that if Americans are fixated on collusion, they aren’t concentrating on much else. That’s good for him and terrible for the country. He could be entirely innocent of soliciting or welcoming Russian help and he’d still be a proudly offensive, gleefully divisive, woefully unprepared plutocrat with no moral compass beyond his own aggrandizement. While we obsess over what may be hidden in the shadows, all of that is in plain sight.
5.22 Trump: “Your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016. Although I’m not sure I really believe that, but you know. I don’t know who the hell wrote that line, I’m not sure. But it’s still important, remember.”
5.25 James Hohmann in the Post: Trump didn’t want to give anyone a heads up for fear the news would leak, despite warnings from some in the White House that it wasn’t worth insulting the South Koreans. Moon, who has staked his political future on rapprochement with Pyongyang and worked to position himself as the intermediary between Kim and Trump, convened an emergency meeting after midnight local time at the presidential Blue House. Then he released a statement that said he was “very perplexed and sorry. America First” is turning out to be America Alone, as the United States isolates itself from the world in ways not seen since the 1930s. Trump has pulled out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In all three cases, the president promised he would negotiate a better deal for the United States. He has not yet done so.The president launched a “trade war” against China, which he said would be easy to win. Then he blinked, with no meaningful concessions from Beijing. Trump said last May that securing peace in the Middle East would be “frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought.” Then he poisoned the well by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, giving up a possible bargaining chip that could lubricate a bigger deal.
5.22 Wynton Marsalis: “My words are not that powerful. I started saying in 1985 I don’t think we should have a music talking about niggers and bitches and hoes. It had no impact. I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it. To me that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”
5.22 Christine Emba in the Washington Post: Last week, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that U.S. fertility had fallen to a record low — for the second straight year. The fertility rate declined to 60.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down 3 percent from 2016. The number of births in the United States fell 2 percent to 3.85 million, the lowest in 30 years. In fact, the only group for whom birthrates have risen this year is women over 40. This slump began, somewhat predictably, during the Great Recession. Birthrates tend to drop during periods of economic distress as people put off having babies, but potential parents usually get back to business once the economy rebounds. What’s worrying now is that the recession has more than ended but the baby numbers haven’t picked back up
5.21 Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: There are not many Trump scandals. There is one Trump scandal. Singular: the corruption of the American government by the president and his associates, who are using their official power for personal and financial gain rather than for the welfare of the American people, and their attempts to shield that corruption from political consequences, public scrutiny, or legal accountability.
5.21 Dana Milbank in the Post: Right now the fear of the United States going totalitarian doesn’t feel quite right. This crowd is too clownish to be Stalinist. Rather, the United States is turning into a banana republic.
5.21 Axios: China controlled 4% of the global economy in 2000, and the U.S. controlled 31%. Today, China has 15% and we have 24%. China’s plan is to dominate all futuristic advanced technologies such as robotics, AI, aviation and space, driverless or new energy vehicles.
5.21 By 2060, if current trends continue, there will be 1.1 people 65 and older for every person who is 18 and younger.
5.21 The Fortune 500, ranked by revenue for 2017 fiscal year: Walmart; Exxon Mobil; Berkshire Hathaway; Apple; UnitedHealth Group; McKesson; CVS Health; Amazon; AT&T; GM
5.20 Asia Argento at Cannes: “In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again. He will live in disgrace, shunned by a film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes. Even tonight,sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women, for behavior that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry. You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are. And we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.”
5.20 Richard Goodwin dies at 86. LBJ‘s speechwriter was, in the words of Joe Califano, “the greatest political public policy speechwriter in the history of this country. Johnson knew all the things he wanted to do, but Goodwin knew how to capture them in glistening, powerful prose.” From LBJ’s Howard University speech on Affirmative Action: “We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”
5.19 Justify wins Preakness
5.19 Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle
5.19 Matthew Stewart in The Atlantic: “So what kind of characters are we, the 9.9 percent? We are mostly not like those flamboyant political manipulators from the 0.1 percent. We’re a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner. In fact, we’re so self-effacing, we deny our own existence. We keep insisting that we’re “middle class.” As of 2016, it took $1.2 million in net worth to make it into the 9.9 percent; $2.4 million to reach the group’s median; and $10 million to get into the top 0.9 percent. (And if you’re not there yet, relax: Our club is open to people who are on the right track and have the right attitude.) “We are the 99 percent” sounds righteous, but it’s a slogan, not an analysis. The families at our end of the spectrum wouldn’t know what to do with a pitchfork. We are also mostly, but not entirely, white. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, African Americans represent 1.9 percent of the top 10th of households in wealth; Hispanics, 2.4 percent; and all other minorities, including Asian and multiracial individuals, 8.8 percent—even though those groups together account for 35 percent of the total population.
5.18 Ten killed, ten wounded at a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas
5.18 David Frum in The Atlantic: Only 30 percent of Americans own guns. Thus far, that minority has sufficed to block substantial federal action on guns. But a one-third minority—and especially a nonurban one-third minority—may no longer suffice to shape American culture. The outrage after Parkland looked less like a political movement, and more like the great waves of moral reform that have at intervals since the 1840s challenged the existing political order in the name of higher ethical ideals. The most important success of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for example, was not to change laws (although they changed some), but to change hearts: to persuade Americans that drunk driving was not funny, not charming, and not acceptable. American gun culture in the 2010s is as blithely irresponsible as American alcohol culture in the 1960s. According to a Pew survey, only about one-quarter of gun owners think it essential to alert visitors with children that guns may be present in the home. (Twice as many non-gun-owners think so.) Only 66 percent of gun owners think it essential to keep guns locked up when not in use. (Ninety percent of non-gun-owners think so.) Only 45 percent of them actually do it. This carelessness and disregard is taking lives and breaking families. The first step toward correcting a social wrong is opening people’s eyes to see that wrong. America has now tallied still more victims and broken the hearts of still more mourners. It’s a horrible price to pay for a moral reckoning and awakening—but the history of the nation promises that while the awakening may often come tragically slow, it does come in time, with all the power of justice delayed but not denied.
5.17 Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: The Republican bet is that the party can mobilize elevated turnout among their older and blue-collar white base without provoking the young and racially diverse voters who personify the emerging next America to show up on Election Day to defend it. Few things are likely to shape November’s outcome more than whether that bet pays off.
5.17 Michael Gerson in the Post: Trumpism “ has given permission for the public expression of shameful sentiments. People such as Blankenship, Williams, Arpaio and Nehlen are part of a relatively (and thankfully) small political group. But the president has set boundaries of political discourse that include them and encourage them. Even when Trump opposes their candidacies, he has enabled the bolder, more confident expression of their bigotry. The Trump era is a renaissance of half-witted intolerance. Trump’s Christian supporters in particular must be so proud. Second, Trump’s attacks on outgroups have revealed the cowardice of a much broader faction within the GOP — those who know better but say little. Some Republican leaders (see House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin) have been willing to criticize specific instances of Trump’s prejudice. But few — and very few with a political future — have been willing to draw the obvious conclusion that Trump is prejudiced, or to publicly resist the trend toward prejudice among the GOP base.
5.16 Doanld Trump: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
5.16 Rex Tillerson, speaking at the Virginia Military Institute: “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.” Truth, he said, is the “central tenet of a free society.” “It is truth that says to our adversaries, ‘We say what we mean, and we mean what we say.’ ” “When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth — even on what may seem the most trivial of matters — we go wobbly on America.” “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”
5.16 Daniel Russell, who served as senior Asia director at the National Security Council under Barack Obama: “President Trump has forged a new category of international relations that I would call ‘diplotainment,’ and the Singapore meeting is going to demonstrate diplotainment at its pinnacle. Imagine the size the crowd is going to be in Singapore — it’s going to be ‘huge.’ But those are very different deliverables than, say, the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
5.16 Yanny or Laurel?
5.16 Dana Milbank in the Post: Sanders, with one presidential run under his belt, was better than most at articulating a unified theory. He spoke of tuition-free public universities, ending institutional racism and the war on drugs, reforming criminal justice and immigration, and fighting climate change — “but there is one issue out there which is so significant and so pervasive that, unless we successfully confront it, it will be impossible for us to succeed on any other of these important issues.” And that is inequality. “The oligarchy in this country, whose greed is insatiable, is destroying Lincoln’s view of America, our vision of America, and is leading us to a government of the few, by the few and for the few.” This is a big idea. Maybe the big idea. Whoever can best make that case should lead the Democrats in 2020

5.15 Tom Wolfe dies at 88
5.15 Henry Kissinger in the Atlantic: “Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine … The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order. But that order is now in upheaval amid a new, even more sweeping technological revolution whose consequences we have failed to fully reckon with, and whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.”
5.15 Donald Trump’s sudden desire to help Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE came just 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half-billion dollars into an Indonesian project that will personally enrich the president.
5.14 Anne Applebaum, in the Post: “Like Cicero, McCain now stands for a set of ideals, expressed in his action and his words. His refusal to use his status as an admiral’s son to get out of a POW camp during the Vietnam War; his principled opposition to the use of torture; his efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement on immigration; his efforts, more generally, to forge bipartisan consensus around foreign policy; his famous refusal, during his failed 2008 campaign for president, to attack Barack Obama as a “Muslim” or a traitor, as many in his party demanded. All these are things one might very well describe as “the effusions of an exalted patriot.” McCain would be the first to say that he didn’t always live up to all of his ideals, but his lifelong attempt to live them helps explain why, as he is dying, there is a sudden flurry of interest in McCain, a glut of commentary about McCain, a plethora of short anecdotes about McCain circulating on social media. This is also why people close to the White House cannot stop themselves from making vulgar comments or vile jokes about McCain: They know that McCain embodies not just a form of patriotism but a kind of courage and honor that Trump will simply never have. The “odious contrast” is particularly stark because, for the moment, Trump’s vision of America has won. The White House is dominated by a completely different worldview: mean-spirited and partisan, self-serving and corrupt, transactional rather than idealistic, more favorable to dictatorship than democracy. Cicero also lost. But his ideas continued to resonate long after his death, even inspiring America’s founding fathers. We have to hope that McCain’s vision of America and its place in the world will outlast him too – even if his ideals appear right now to be in rapid retreat.”
5.12 Avengers: Infinity Wars, with Ginny and Cara
5.12 USA Today: “We read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by Russians. Their dominant strategy: Sowing racial discord” — Of the roughly 3,500 ads published this week [by the House Intelligence Committee], more than half — about 1,950 — made express references to race. Those accounted for 25 million ad impressions — a measure of how many times the spot was pulled from a server for transmission to a device.”
5.12 Gov. Jerry Brown said yesterday that as few as 15,000 tax filers in the state provide one-quarter of all income taxes.
5.11 John Brennan: Kim is tricking Trump by presenting “an appearance of cooperation” and predicted the Korean leader will never agree to give up his nukes. “Unfortunately, I think (Kim) has been masterful in how he has manipulated perceptions and how he has manipulated, and quite frankly duped, Mr. Trump.”
5.11 Phone giant AT&T paid Trump attorney Michael Cohen $600,000 in the days after the president was sworn in for information, including advice on a pending $85 billion merger with Time Warner. Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti added to Cohen’s woes Thursday, warning the embattled fixer he still has more emails and text messages to release.
5.11 Anne Applebaum in the Post: Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal exposed America’s weak hand. For we left — but then what? In different circumstances — after negotiations, after obtaining proof that Iran was in violation of the deal — it might have been possible to recreate the international coalition that imposed sanctions so successfully in the first place. In different circumstances, it might also have been possible to change the deal: That’s what the French president and German chancellor were offering during their recent visits to Washington, though their efforts were rebuffed. In different circumstances, it might even have been possible to threaten Iran militarily — not a position I advocate, but I can imagine how it could be done. Instead, we are now in the worst of all possible worlds. We have broken the agreement with Iran, but we are unable to impose a new sanctions regime in its place. Instead of making a diplomatic investment, we are shouting and barking orders. Just after Trump’s announcement, the American ambassador to Germany issued a threat on Twitter: “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” As a result, European leaders are not talking about Iran. They are talking about how they can protect their companies from American sanctions, and how they might retaliate.

5.10 At 3 Am, Trump goes to Andrews to greet three captives North Korea released
5.10 “I’m crushing it,” Michael Cohen said. Cohen quickly leveraged his role as Trump’s personal attorney, developing a lucrative sideline as a consultant to companies eager for insight into how to navigate the new administration. The rapid flow of millions of dollars to Cohen shows the rush by corporations — unable to rely on the influence of Washington’s traditional lobbying class in dealing with a new, populist outsider president — to lock in relationships with Trump’s inner circle.
5.10 While acknowledging Gina Haspel‘s patriotism, John McCain opposed her nomination as CIA director, saying, “I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty. But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”
5.10 Gina Haspel: “My parents raised me right. I know the difference between right and wrong. … I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that is immoral, even if it is technically legal.”
5.10 Ben Terris of the Post: “For Democrats looking for details, getting a straightforward answer from Haspel was like interrogating vapor.”
5.10 Fareed Zakaria in the Post: Iran is a repressive and anti-American regime that has spread its influence in the Middle East, often to America’s detriment. But it is also an ancient civilization, with centuries of power and influence in the region. The notion that the United States could solve all of its problems with Tehran by toppling the regime is fanciful. It has withstood U.S. pressure and sanctions for nearly four decades. And even if it were somehow possible to topple it, look around. The lesson of the past two decades in the Middle East is surely that regime change leads to chaos, war, refugee flows, sectarian strife and more. It opens a Pandora’s box in a land already rife with woes.
5.9 Reuters: Iranian Parliament speaker Ali Larijani: “ President Donald Trump is not fit for his job. Trump does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues.”
5.9 CNN: Asked by a reporter while holding a Cabinet meeting at the White House whether he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, the President replied with a large smile: “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it.”
5.9 George F. Will in the Post: Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.
5.9 Dana Milbank in the Post: “Tom Cotton is no ordinary guy. Colleagues and staff on the Hill report that he can be as nasty privately as he is publicly, as uncivil to Republicans as he is to Democrats. He imputes ill motives to those who disagree with him. He served in the military but now treats politics as war.He is, in short, an embodiment of what ails Washington: no compromise, and no disagreement without disagreeability.
5.9 Axios: America’s highest paid CEOs are Hock Tan, Broadcom, $103.2 million; Les Moonves, CBS, $69.3 million; W. Nicholas Howley, Transdigm, $61 million; Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner, $49 million; and Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor, $47.9 million


5.8 Trump withdraws US from Iran deal
5.8 Albany
5.8 Pablo Picasso’s 1905 painting “Fillette à la corbeille fleuri,” sold for $115,000,000 at Christie’s record-breaking auction. on Tuesday night. Priscilla Frank on the Huffington Post: “We know the painter referred to her as Linda, and according to a description on Christie’s website, she lived on the “mean streets” of Paris’ bohemian Montmartre district. (It’s also possible, given that Picasso was Spanish, that “Linda,” which translates to “pretty,” was just a nickname.) We know she supported herself financially through sex work and flower sales. We know she posed for other artists, including Amedeo Modigliani and Kees van Dongen. We also know that when Picasso painted her, she was a pubescent girl. We know what her body looks like ― thin, pale and hairless, breasts not yet developed.But the majority of Linda’s story remains undocumented: Her true identity, her age, where she came from, where she ended up, or what transpired when she took off her clothes and posed for a then-21-year-old Picasso, not yet the “greatest artist of the 20th century” as Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s America, would later describe the man. (The same man who allegedly beat one of his muses unconscious and threatened to put out a cigarette on the face of another.) Linda’s is a paradoxical position many women deemed “muses” occupy, their images iconic and their identities irrelevant. “Known and nameless, it’s that dichotomy that stands out,” Shelly Bahl, an artist, curator and educator at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, told HuffPost. Throughout her career, Bahl has worked with museums and public galleries to diversify and re-contextualize their programming and collections, towards challenging institutional sexism and racism. Not even the sudden newsiness of Picasso’s painting ― on the auction block after sitting in Peggy and David Rockefeller’s possession since 1968 ― has provoked substantial academic inquiry into its subject’s identity. (It was purchased over the phone by an unknown bidder at $102,000,000, plus $13,000,000 in additional fees.)Indeed, Porter’s lot essay cataloging the painting’s provenance is well over 4,000 words long, yet it does not delve deeply into Linda’s life, save for the detail that she probably “died sadly young.”She was “the female equivalent of ‘p’tit Louis,’” Porter writes, referring to the model for Picasso’s “Garçon à la pipe,” presumed to have died at a young age on the streets. “We do not know what became of Linda, but the long-term odds of evading a similar fate were not in her favor.”
5.7 Scarlett Johannsen at the Met Gala
5.7 Albany
5.7 Oliver North was named president of the NRA. On Hannity the next night, he said, ““Never believe an Iranian, because if their lips are moving, they’re lying.”
5.5 Paul Krugman in the Times: What employers learned during the long slump is that you can’t cut wages even when people are desperate for jobs; they also learned that extended periods in which you would cut wages if you could are a lot more likely than they used to believe. This makes them reluctant to grant wage increases even in good times, because they know they’ll be stuck with those wages if the economy turns bad again.This hypothesis also explains something else that’s been puzzling me: widespread anecdotes about employers trying to attract workers with signing bonuses rather than higher wages. A signing bonus is a one-time cost; a higher wage, we now know, is more or less forever. If there’s any truth to this story, the protracted economic weakness that followed the financial crisis is still casting a shadow on labor markets despite low unemployment today.

5.5 Citi Field with Ginny and Ron Swoboda. Rockies beat Mets 2-0. Above, Steven Matz, who pitched well, giving up just one run over siz innings, faces Charlie Blackmon
5.4 Rudy Giuliani has warned special counsel Robert Mueller not to target Ivanka Trump in his probe — but said her husband, Jared Kushner, is “disposable.”
5.4 Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted Friday, with lava flows sparking mandatory evacuations
5.3 Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic: He’s not an undisciplined golden boy whose private behavior, if exposed, could destroy his image. He is the first truly shameless president, the first porn president, and that is why it is Stormy Daniels—more than the FBI or the IRS or the string of women who have claimed sexual harassment or abuse by him—who just might take him down. Daniels and Trump built their careers in different industries. She is entirely self-made, he is not. But the business approach she has taken to her porn career is similar to the one he has taken in his real-estate and political enterprises, and although the asymmetry of their respective powers—the aging sex worker and the president of the United States—might seem insurmountable, in many respects they are equally matched.
5.3 Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now a member of President Trump’s legal team, told Fox News that Trump had reimbursed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment made to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Giuliani’s comments suggest that the payment was made to protect Trump’s campaign from Daniels’s allegations of an affair with the then-candidate—meaning that the deal may have violated campaign-finance law.
5.2 Harold Bornstein, the doctor who released a glowing, controversial health assessment of Trump in 2016, now claims that the then-candidate dictated the letter.
5.2 Elizabeth Bruenig in the Post: that our government arises (as national mythology holds) from our own will says something about the government and something about us. If this is the kind of government we want and deserve — one permanently mired in controversy, much of it sordid and exploitative; one that never seems to operate with anything approaching full transparency or honesty; one that mercurially sets its sights on a rotating cast of enemies, blundering from one to another faster than it can dispense with its own personnel — then what kind of people are we? But then there’s the clincher that turns a typical democratic concern into our current nightmare: You actually don’t have much control over what goes on in government, not because of widespread voter fraud or whatever fantasy but because a few wealthy donors and their underlings have the privilege of setting the political agenda, of selecting the choices you will be offered long before you have the opportunity to make them. A sense of bitter impotence underlies the political mood on both the left and right, I think, for precisely this reason. When you know that nothing you do matters very much, even victory is frustrating; defeat, meanwhile, feels like utter despair. It is an unlivable paradox, knowing both that you’re implicated in the authority of your government and that you have little say in which decisions you will eventually be credited with, at least in part. Our condition is particularly tense at the moment because the scandals, intrigues and crusades of the Trump administration are so egregious, meaning that people are even likelier to be drawn into the question of: What binds me to this government, and it to me?
5.1 Richard Cohen in the Post: the term “Trumpism” works best because it describes something uniquely American. It’s true that nations all over the world have moved to the authoritarian right, but China, Russia, Poland, Hungary and others are returning to their histories. These nations were never democracies for very long. The United States is different. The closest thing we previously had to Trump was Huey Long, the 1930s-era governor and then senator from Louisiana. He had the makings of a dictator, but he was killed before he could mount a presidential campaign. Long, to his credit, actually had a program. Trumpism has no such program. He sometimes mentions jobs, but that’s just a talking point. His most consistent reference points are his own grudges. For all his wealth, Trump is a bundle of insecurities and resentments. In that way, he validates similar feelings in others. If they loathe the establishment, so does he. If they loathe foreign aid, so does he. If they misunderstand trade agreements, so does he. If they fret over an America that is less white and more tolerant of homosexuality and immigrants, then so does he. If they recoil from a news media that talks the PC language they abhor, so does he. They are him. He is them. That’s the program.
5.1 NBC: “He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,” Kelly allegedly said during a meeting about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and overall immigration policy. “We’ve got to save him from himself.”