MARCH 2018

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.”


“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.”


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


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.


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.


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 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


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.


12.30 Miscellaneous workers. John Paul Jones
In late December, an electrical engineer in Tennessee named Jonathan Pace, participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, used a church computer to discover the largest known prime number ever. Large primes are very difficult to identify. And Mersenne primes, named after a 17th-century French monk, are a special breed:They’re prime numbers that are one less than a power of two—making them even more rare. Since 1996, GIMPS volunteers have discovered 16 new numbers. Pace had been hunting for one for more than 14 years. The prime he discovered (notated as 2^77,232,917-1) contains 23,249,425 digits—nearly a million digits longer than the previous record holder.
12.29 Mike Allen in Axios: Trump keeps asking for tariffs — on steel and aluminum, in particular. He wants a trade war, and has for many years. His economic and diplomatic advisers persuaded him to delay trade actions in 2017. Those advisers recognize that the day of reckoning will come in 2018, regardless of whether economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who advocated restraint — stay or go. . . .Trump still wants his wall, and tighter restrictions on legal immigration. He’s a true believer on this stuff, and knows intuitively that it keeps his base stoked. Trump seems most interested in discussing military options on North Korea in these meetings.
12.29 A four-story mural of a purple penis at 303-305 Broome Street in Lower Manhattan was painted over.
12.29 Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development, a Washington, D.C. think tank: “Very recently, economists have been looking at a different kind of policy that helps people move to where opportunity is. If you want to help somebody in poverty, by far the most effective thing you can do is to assist them in moving.”

12.29 Donald Trump in an interview with the New York Times: “We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, the New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, “Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.”
12.29 Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post: The political philosopher Jan-Werner Müller suggests “anti-pluralist,” and although that’s a bit antiseptic, it’s probably closest to the truth. What we are really talking about, after all, are political parties that do not acknowledge the right of anyone else to hold or share power. They seek to establish themselves as the only legitimate spokesman for “the people” or “the nation,” as opposed to the voters, and they seek to weaken any civic or political institutions that might restrict them. It’s not an accident that Hungary’s Fidesz party or Poland’s Law and Justice party have packed their courts; nor is it a coincidence that Trump’s Republican Party seeks to undermine the FBI. France’s National Front and Germany’s Alternative for Germany aren’t in power, but even so, they treat the media with the same disdain as the American president does.
12.28 Albany, in the pool house. Minus 4 degrees
12.27 Albany. Dinner at the Old English Pub.
12.26 Albany
12.25 Christmas brunch with the Kelleys
12.23 Saw The Darkest Hour yesterday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Still, it’s odd that of the three movies this year that dealt with the rescue operation at Dunkirk, the one that best reached the emotional essence of that great citizen action was `Their Finest,’ which was the one that expressly aimed to hold the event at arm’s length. Still, Darkest Hour tells a great story about leadership and language, and it manages to quote Macauley’s Lays of Ancient Rome:
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods…”
12.22 Trump signs $1.5 million tax overhaul into law
12.21 Tom Brokaw on MSNBC: “[Trump] watches [F&F] because it reinforces what he believes,” Brokaw said. “Fox News…is on a jihad right now” against institutions of the government. “Newt Gingrigh looking into the camera and saying the FBI is a corrupt organization – three months earlier he’d said Bob Mueller is one of the great, distinguished public servants we have. So, we’re at war here.”
12.21 Life expectancy for Americans declined for a second year in a row in 2016, fueled by a staggering 21 percent increase in deaths from drug overdoses. The CDC reported this was the first time since 1961 and 1962 the country had seen a two-year decline, after a severe bout of influenza caused an outsize number of deaths. (Lenny Bernstein and Christopher Ingraham)
12.20 Memphis removes statues of Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest
12.20 Penske Media Corp., owner of Variety, buys a controlling interest in Wenner Media, parent of Rolling Stone,
12.20 As he stood outside the White House on Wednesday, President Trump basked in the praise of Republican lawmakers assembled around him. He was lauded for his “exquisite presidential leadership.” He was touted as “one heck of a leader” and as a “man of action.”

12.19 Kristen Roupenian, the author of the online sensation short story “Cat Person, ” has a seven-figure book deal with Scout Press, an imprint of Simon & Shuster.
12.19 Charles Mathewes in the Post: When we’ve reached a place where good Christian folk think it’s a matter of major theological principle not to sell pastries to gay people but are willing to give pedophiles a pass, I think it’s safe to say that American Christianity today — white American Christianity in particular — is in a pretty sorry state.
12.19 House approves tax bill. Joe Crowley: ““It’s a scam and the American people know it. Is this bill going to bring back jobs and lift up the middle class? Hell no! Is this bill going to make life better for cops, firefighters, nurses, truck drivers, students, veterans, teachers and shift workers? Hell no!”
12.18 Senator John Kennedy of Lousiana: “Just because you’ve seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”
12.18 Mike Allen in Axios: “There are only two people who can change Trump: Trump himself, and Robert Mueller.”
12.18 David Brooks: Democracy, Mann continues, is the only system built on respect for the infinite dignity of each individual man and woman, on each person’s moral striving for freedom, justice and truth. It would be a great error to think of and teach democracy as a procedural or political system, or as the principle of majority rule.It is a “spiritual and moral possession.” It is not just rules; it is a way of life. It encourages everybody to make the best of their capacities — holds that we have a moral responsibility to do so. It encourages the artist to seek beauty, the neighbor to seek community, the psychologist to seek perception, the scientist to seek truth.
12.18 In 2017, officials at the Centers for Disease Control have been given a list of seven words — not remotely dirty — that they must not use in the documents they’re preparing as part of next year’s budget proposals. The Washington Post first reported on Friday that the seven banned terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
12.17 The Washington Post: The officials were escorted into a spacious conference room on the 14th floor of Trump Tower. Trump took a seat at one end of a large table, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the other. Among the others present were Priebus, Pompeo and designated national security adviser Michael Flynn. Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.

12.16 Finished The Crown, Season 2
12.15 Finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
12.15 Michael Gerson in The Post: “In the end, the restoration of the Republican Party will require Republicans to lose elections. It will require Republican voters — as in Alabama and (to some extent) Virginia — to sit out, write in or even vote Democratic in races involving pro-Trump Republicans. It may require Republicans to lose control of the House (now very plausible) and to lose control of the Senate (still unlikely). It will certainly require Trump to lose control of the presidency. In the near term, this is what victory for Republicans will look like: strategic defeat. Recovery will be found only on the other side of loss.”
12.15 Washington Post: Many veteran operatives and elder statesmen in the Democratic firmament worry that engaging in this fight is not the way to win in 2018. They think Hillary Clinton blundered by trying to turn last year’s election into a referendum on Trump’s baggage and boorish behavior. They worry that Democrats won’t fully capitalize on Trump’s unpopularity if they’re perceived as overplaying their hand. They’re nervous that the conversation over whether Trump should step down has sucked up too much political oxygen, possibly at the expense of the tax debate — which a lot of these Democrats believe they can win since so many voters already see the GOP bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the middle class.”
12.14 Harry Enten on FiveThirtyEight: “There have been more than 70 special elections for state and federal legislative seats in 2017 so far. … Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean in 74 percent of these races.”
12.14 In one of the largest media mergers in history, Disney will pay $52.4 billion for assets from 21st Century Fox, including TV and film properties and its stake in streaming giant Hulu
12.14 Morgan Spurlock: “I am part of the problem.”
12.14 The FCC repeals net neutrality.
12.13 Salma Hayek on Harvey Weinstein in the Times: “I was so excited to work with him and that company. In my naïveté, I thought my dream had come true. He had validated the last 14 years of my life. He had taken a chance on me — a nobody. He had said yes. Little did I know it would become my turn to say no. No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with. No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage.No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman. No, no, no, no, no … And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage. I don’t think he hated anything more than the word “no.” The absurdity of his demands went from getting a furious call in the middle of the night asking me to fire my agent for a fight he was having with him about a different movie with a different client to physically dragging me out of the opening gala of the Venice Film Festival, which was in honor of “Frida,” so I could hang out at his private party with him and some women I thought were models but I was told later were high-priced prostitutesThe range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.” When he was finally convinced that I was not going to earn the movie the way he had expected, he told me he had offered my role and my script with my years of research to another actress. In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body.”
12.13 Ross Douthat in the Times: “No, there will be no course correction — only the Trump we’ve seen so far, the Trump who would rather have the G.O.P. fall in ruins around him than give up on his feuds and insults and absurd behavior, the Trump who made Senator Doug Jones our strange reality, and the Trump who is also responsible for the larger wave that’s building, building, for next fall.”
12.13 Writing about President Trump‘s sexually suggestive statement that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “would do anything” for campaign contributions, USA Today declared that “a president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”
12.12 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called on President Trump to step down in light of the multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him, prompting the president to lash out at her in a tweet charged with sexual innuendo.
12.12 Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore in the Senate race in Alabama
12.11 Peter King on You exist in the world you’re given. Cashman excels in his. It’s easier to excel when you have Cashman’s advantages, obviously. But you’ve still go to do it.”
12.11 Yanks acquire Giancarlo Stanton
12.11 CNN reports that Roy Moore told an extremist radio station in 2011 that getting rid of all the constitutional amendments after the 10th would “eliminate many problems” with our “form of government.”
12.10 Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy has a spectacular day in the snow
12.10 The percentage of people who identify as or lean Republican has fallen 5 points from 42 percent of the population to 37 percent, according to the poll comparing November 2016 with November 2017, which was released last week. The percentage of voters identifying as Democratic has remained at 44 percent.
12.10 California Gov. Jerry Brown: “We’re facing a new reality in this state. This is the new normal, and this could be something that happens every year or every few years. We’re about to have a firefighting Christmas.”
12.10 Bono on the NFL Network: “America is not just a country. It’s an idea. It’s a great idea. It’s the best idea the world has ever had. And that’s why it’s okay for people to get carried away … and on that subject, if people want to show their patriotism a different way, you know, taking a knee and all that—I think people who care about their country can never be a problem. They want to make it better. The way they’re respecting their country,
12.10 Rep. Adam Schiff on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “We do know this. The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help. And that’s pretty damming, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy, or not.”
12.10 New York Times: “Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.”
12.09 The New York Times: “Midge is like a sardonic Hulk; she gets hurt, she gets angry and her superpower bursts forth. Now, she has to learn to control it. Seen in this light, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is not simply a period piece. It’s a superhero story. Only this time, the protagonist’s object is not to save the world but to find a place in it: to stand up for herself by doing standup for herself.”

12.8 Albany Times-Union: “The FBI is investigating the Cuomo administration’s practice of hiring employees to work in the governor’s office, while actually paying them through various state agencies and public authorities, the Times Union has learned. The practice of hiring pricey political appointees to work for the Executive Chamber – but paying them through other entities – has allowed Cuomo and prior governors to increase the size of their staffs while escaping criticism for inflating the Executive Chamber budget. . . Under Cuomo, in some instances the positions held by Executive Chamber officials have had a correlation with the entity paying them. In other instances there seems have been little link between the work being done and an employee’s source of income. Take well-paid Cuomo speechwriters, Tom Topousis and Jamie Malanowski. Although paid to pen speeches for the governor, Topousis was hired in 2015 at a $125,000 salary as a “special assistant” at the Office of Children and Family Services, a child protective services agency.”
12.8 Bella DePaola in the Post: “In Trump’s first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post’s tally. That’s about six per day, far higher than the average rate in our studies. And of course, reporters have access to only a subset of Trump’s false statements — the ones he makes publicly — so unless he never stretches the truth in private, his actual rate of lying is almost certainly higher. That rate has been accelerating. Starting in early October, The Post’s tracking showed that Trump told a remarkable nine lies a day, outpacing even the biggest liars in our research. But the flood of deceit isn’t the most surprising finding about Trump. . . Nearly two-thirds of Trump’s lies (65 percent) were self-serving. Examples included: “They’re big tax cuts — the biggest cuts in the history of our country, actually” and, about the people who came to see him on a presidential visit to Vietnam last month: “They were really lined up in the streets by the tens of thousands.” Slightly less than 10 percent of Trump’s lies were kind ones, told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else. . . .Trump told 6.6 times as many self-serving lies as kind ones. That’s a much higher ratio than we found for our study participants, who told about double the number of self-centered lies compared with kind ones. The most stunning way Trump’s lies differed from our participants’, though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump’s lies were hurtful or disparaging. ”
12.7 Legislators in Quebec passed a resolution (paywall) requiring shopkeepers to greet customers with just “Bonjour” rather than the common “Bonjour hi.”
12.7 Financial Times: “Apple will see as much as $47bn slashed from its expected tax liability if Republicans push through their current tax plan, making it the biggest beneficiary of the legislation. The potential windfall for the world’s most valuable company stems from the reduced tax rate that would be applied to foreign earnings that it currently holds outside the US.”
12.7 Corinne Purtill on Quartz: “This moment is the result of the collective labor of women of color who turned private agonies into public battles on behalf of justice. As overdue and welcome as this reckoning feels, there’s also the unsettling reality that a movement built largely on the labor of women of color has been co-opted by a discussion that prioritizes the experiences of victims who are white, wealthy, and privileged over those who are not.”
12.7 Sen. Al Franken says he will resign
12.6 Albany
12.6 Quartz: “American historians see a titanic clash on the horizon. What’s coming next is a battle between “the very idea of democracy, and that human beings are created equal” against the notion that power in America should be concentrated in the hands of a very few, very wealthy people, just as it once was in medieval Europe, predicts Heather Richardson, a history professor at Boston College.”
12.5 Steve Bannon: on Mitt RomneyJudge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinkie finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA. You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity.”
12.5 Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis, dies at 74
12.5 Christine Keeler dies at 75.
12.5 Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) resigned as Congress’s longest-serving member
12.4 Catherine Rampell in the Post: “What did the populists win, really? Did they get the great economic de-rigging they demanded? A fair shake for good, wholesome folk like themselves? The draining, at last, of the swamp? No. Instead, a week ago, the Trump administration began dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a post-financial crisis creation designed specifically to protect the little guy from scam artists and swamp creatures. And then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed the most plutocratic, regressive, system-rigging piece of tax legislation in decades. A bill that allows multimillionaires to pass on their estates tax-free. That offers one special break to owners of private jets and another to those who send their kids to private school. A bill that literally takes from the poor to give to the rich. These are not policies that either left-wing or right-wing populists clamored for, and you can see as much in the poll data. The Republican tax plan is the most unpopular piece of major tax legislation in five decades, less popular even than the Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush tax hikes. Republicans know how unpopular it is, and they just don’t care.
Instead, they expect the populist right to be satisfied with some race-baiting tweets. Some mean-spirited, occasionally unconstitutional immigration policies. The satisfaction of having a president who makes liberals angry. Instead of bread, the populists are told to be grateful for their circuses.”
12.4 Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker: “On the basis of the publicly available evidence, the case against Trump for obstruction of justice is more than plausible. Most perilously for the President, Flynn may know what Trump has to hide.”
12.4 Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese fired by Giants
12.4 John Locke described executive prerogative as necessary in any system that separated the executive and legislative powers, and defined it as the “power to act according to discretion, for the public good, without the prescription of the law, and sometimes even against it.”…
12.4 John Dowd, President Trump‘s outside lawyer: “A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice. The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”
12.3 Dinner with the Kellys
12.3 In Let Trump Be Trump, Corey Lewandowski describes a helicopter ride where Trump rants at Paul Manafort, who had said that Trump shouldn’t be on television anymore, and that Manafort should appear instead. Trump was angrier than Lewandowski had ever seen him, ordering the pilot to lower the altitude so he could make a cellphone call. “Did you say I shouldn’t be on TV on Sunday? I’ll go on TV anytime I g–dam f—ing want and you won’t say another f—ing word about me!” Trump yelled at Manafort, according to Lewandowski. “Tone it down? I wanna turn it up! . . . You’re a political pro? Let me tell you something. I’m a pro at life. I’ve been around a time or two. I know guys like you, with your hair and skin . . .” The book also describes a typical Trump order includes a typical Trump order from McDonald’s: “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted,” which is good for 2,430 calories and 111 grams of fat.
12.3 Washington Post: “Right now, the first $5.5 million of any estate is not subject to the tax. Because of that, fewer than one in 500 estates owes any tax at all. So Grassley is saying that 99.8 percent of Americans lead contemptible lives of waste and folly, while only that remaining sliver of the extra-wealthy have shown the virtue that should win their heirs the ability not to pay taxes on the fortunes bequeathed to them.”
12.3 Jared Bernstein: “The tax plan is written in such a way as to favor asset-based incomes, passive business investments and inherited wealth, and to penalize, once it’s fully phased in, those foolish enough to depend on their paychecks.”
12.3 Sen. Charles Grassley to The Des Moines Register: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
12.3 Sen. Mitch McConnell on ABC’s “This Week.”“We think this will produce results, results we will certainly be able to talk to the American people about in the fall of 2018 and 2020 as well.”

12.2 Larry and Teresa with the Lindstroms at the Colony in Woodstock
12.2 The Atlantic: “A foreclosure is a one-time event, but for many families it’s something that never ends, wrecking years of their lives and the hopes they once had. The . . . recession changed the American economy, and for millions of Americans, forever changed their lives. Some nine million families lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale between 2006 and 2014. But many lost more than that: They lost their momentum, too. Families like the Santillans had been moving up a ladder towards the American Dream, and fell off into a deep pit. They’re still at the bottom of the ladder a decade later, trying to get back to where they had been.”
12.2 Barron’s: Bitcoin “shot past $11,000 [this] week just hours after eclipsing $10,000, which itself was mere days after pushing past $9,000. It then slid sharply before surging yet again.”
12.2 Senate passes tax reform bill, including handwritten portions faxed to Senators
12.1 Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI
12.1 The Atlantic: “Manhattan has two genetically distinguishable groups of rats: the uptown rats and the downtown rats, separated by the geographic barrier that is midtown. It’s not that midtown is rat-free—such a notion is inconceivable—but the commercial district lacks the household trash (aka food) and backyards (aka shelter) that rats like. Since rats tend to move only a few blocks in their lifetimes, the uptown rats and downtown rats don’t mix much. When the researchers drilled down even deeper, they found that different neighborhoods have their own distinct rats. “If you gave us a rat, we could tell whether it came from the West Village or the East Village,” says Combs. “They’re actually unique little rat neighborhoods.” And the boundaries of rat neighborhoods can fit surprisingly well with human ones.”
12.1 Jimmy Kimmel: “Maybe when you say, “Come to Alabama and we’ll do it man to man,” maybe that means you’re challenging me to a fight, which is kind of what it sounds like. And if you are, I accept, by the way. I accept that invitation. There is no one I would love to fight more than you. I will put my Christian values aside just for you and for that fight.So if you are challenging me to a fight, here’s what we’ll do. Let’s find a place to do it. I’ll wear a Girl Scout uniform so you can have something to get excited about. And the winner, whoever wins the fight, will give all the money we charge for the tickets to charity. My charity will be the women who came forward to say you molested them, okay? All right, tough guy, with your little pistol? Roy Moore is never — he’s too scared to even debate the guy he’s running against, Doug Jones. With me he wants to go man to man. Maybe if he went man to man instead of man to little girl, you wouldn’t be in this situation. Allegedly. Allegedly!”
12.1 USA Today: “For many firms, paying fines for sexual harassment has been treated as a cost of doing business. In the past seven years, U.S. companies paid more than $295 million in public penalties over sexual harassment claims, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission records. That sum does not count all the private settlements.”
12.1 Bejamin Wittes in a tweet: #IBelieve in a temporary truce on all such questions, an agreement to maintain the status quo on major areas of policy dispute while Americans of good faith collectively band together to face a national emergency. #IBelieve that facing that national emergency requires unity
12.1 Ej Dionne in the Post: We’d like to think that the United States is also a nation of decency, tolerance and respect. We can’t make this claim while Trump is president.”


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

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