APRIL 2017: “HITLER DIDN’T EVEN SINK TO USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS”

4.21 George Will: “Barack Obama said as a candidate that he would prefer a single-payer plan but couldn’t get there,” George Will said. “As President when they were going through the Obamacare agonies, he said, look upon Obamacare as a starter home. The beginning, the thin end of an enormous wedge heading toward that. What does Donald Trump say? ‘Single-payer works fine in Scotland.’ So I don’t see any particular animus he has as you say against a single-payer plan. And, what we’ve learned in this debate about repealing Obamacare is that the essence of Obamacare is the expansion of Medicaid. Who has benefited from that? Probably disproportionately white working-class males, Trump voters.”
4.21 David Brooks in the Times: “More and more governments, including the Trump administration, begin to look like premodern mafia states, run by family-based commercial clans. Meanwhile, institutionalized, party-based authoritarian regimes, like in China or Russia, are turning into premodern cults of personality/Maximum Leader regimes, which are far more unstable and dangerous. Then there has been the collapse of the center. For decades, center-left and center-right parties clustered around similar versions of democratic capitalism that Western civilization seemed to point to. But many of those centrist parties, like the British and Dutch Labour Parties, are in near collapse. Fringe parties rise.”
4.20 Officer shot dead, two other officers wounded on the Champs Elysee
4.20 Bill O’Reilly booted from Fox, paid $25 million to leave.
4.19 61K jobs lost in retail since January 2017
4.18 Democrat Jon Ossoff finishes with 48% in the special election to fill vacated GOP seat. He will face a runoff June 20 against Karen Handel.
4.15 Marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-sung, military vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers filled Kim Il-sung Square as a band played rousing military music. Afterwards, the regime tested a new missile, which flopped. American cyber-intervention suspected.
4.15 April the Giraffe gives birth in Harpursville NY
4.14 Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “The question of the moment is what to make of the normalization of President Trump. Not normalization in the way used by the Trump resistance — to argue against becoming inured to unacceptable behavior. But normalization of Trump in the usual sense of the term: that Trump is, if not behaving normally, at least adopting normal positions. NATO is “no longer obsolete.” China was a currency manipulator and would be branded as such in the Trump administration; now, never mind. Syria was not an American problem; now its behavior is America’s, and Trump’s, “responsibility,” and Bashar al-Assad is a “butcher.” The Export-Import Bank, once bad, is now good; same, maybe, with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. These about-faces represent, in part, a Trump Tower-size version of the realities that confront any new president. Campaign trail proclamations yield to Oval Office sobriety. That’s not only to be expected — it should, for the most part, also be welcomed. . . .Trump’s dizzying string of policy pirouettes is different from the evolving positions of his predecessors. None of them flipped so much, so soon. That’s not surprising. Trump’s learning curve is steeper. His attachment to any particular position is especially flimsy because he lacks any coherent worldview; his guiding ideology involves only the promotion of Trump. . . .Trump, notwithstanding the vastness of his policy ignorance and his evident distaste for remedying that embarrassment, is learning. He has moved from “I alone can fix it” to “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Neither statement is true, but the second at least evinces a dawning rationality. Likewise, Trump’s recounting of his conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who seems to have had more success than intelligence briefers at getting the attention-impaired president to sit through a lecture on the region. “He then went into the history of China and Korea,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “And Korea actually used to be part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that not — it’s not so easy.”
4.14 At least 94 Islamic State fighters were killed when the US military dropped America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb—the Mother of All Bombs– on ISIS targets in Afghanistan,
4.13 Jonathan Swan in Axios: “Trump appeared in the East room yesterday and gave remarks that could’ve come from the mouth of George H.W. Bush. In the past six days, President Trump has: Fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase to respond to Bashar Assad‘s chemical weapons attack on his own citizens; Belittled Steve Bannon in an interview with the New York Post President Xi at Mar-a-Lago and said they had great “chemistry” and “bonding.”; Told the Wall Street Journal he no longer plans to label China a currency manipulator, despite repeated campaign promises to do so “on day one.” (“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump said.); Promised to repair the world during his presidency, not just America: “The world is a mess,” Trump said in the East Room press conference Wednesday. “By the time I’m finished, it’s going to be a lot better place to live in because, right now, it’s nasty.”; Talked with deep feeling about a foreign humanitarian crisis; Jettisoned Vladimir Putin, whom he’d resisted criticizing until now. “We might be at an all time low with Russia,” Trump said.
4.12 Rick Perlstein in New York Times Magazine: “The often-cynical negotiation between populist electioneering and plutocratic governance on the right has long been not so much a matter of policy as it has been a matter of show business. … [T]he producers of “The Apprentice” carefully crafted a Trump character who was the quintessence of steely resolve and all-knowing mastery.”
4.11 Sean Spicer: “You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said. “So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself: ‘Is this a country that you, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with?’”
4.11 Donald Trump: “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told Goodwin. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”
4.11 Vicki Larson in Quartz: “Longevity alone shouldn’t be the marker of a happy, healthy marriage. Rather than staying in marriages “until death,” renewable marriages would allow partners to tweak their marital contract accordingly, or agree that it’s beyond tweaking and end it without the shock or drama of a contentious divorce or lingering doubts about what went wrong. And as the late Nobel-winning economist Gary S. Becker noted, if every couple had to personalize their marital contract based on what they consider important, there would be no more societal stigma or judgment over what are essentially private decisions. If society is truly concerned about the decline in marriage, perhaps it’s time to rethink “until death.” And if brides- and grooms-to-be truly want a happy marriage, then it is time for them to take responsibility for defining their goals and expectations in a renewable contract, and stating—out loud or on paper—”I choose you again” as often as they mean it.”
4.11 New York Post: Hawaii health officials said six cases of rat lungworm disease have been reported on the island over the past three months, while the island has seen only two cases of the disease in the past decade. Rat lungworm disease is a condition in which parasitic worm larvae infect people’s brains. It is carried by rats and transmitted by snails and slugs.
4.9 The Cook Report: “Only 35 of the nation’s 435 House districts went for presidential and House candidates of opposite parties, down from 108 in 1996. 23 Republican House members are from districts Hillary carried, and 12 Dems are from districts Trump carried. 21 House districts that voted for Obama in ’12 switched and went for Trump. 15 went Romney in ’12 but Hillary last year. The decline of swing districts: In 1997, voters in 164 of the nation’s 435 House districts were relatively split by party. Now, only 72 districts are in the same range — less than one-sixth of the House. 78% of Democratic-leaning seats got even more Democratic, and 65% of GOP-leaning seats got even more Republican. What it means: We are increasingly moving next to people who share our political views — and then following and sharing like-minded news on social media when our doors are closed. This can’t be fixed with better redistricting laws.
4.9 United Airlines forceably removed a passenger, 69 year old Dr. David Dao, from his seat on a plane scheduled to fly from Chicago to Louisville. Dao suffered a broken nose, lost two front teeth and received a concussion during the traumatizing experience.
4.9 Sergio Garcia wins the Masters
4.8 Jeremy Peters in the Times: “One of Steve Bannon‘s favorite books is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy — What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by amateur historians William Strauss and Neil Howe (first published 20 years ago, in 1997): Bannon has great admiration for a provocative but disputed theory of history that argues that the United States is nearing a crisis that could be just as disruptive and catastrophic as the most seminal global turning points of the last 250 years. This prophecy … makes the case that world events unfold in predictable cycles of roughly 80 years each. In an interview with The Times, Mr. Bannon said, “Everything President Trump is doing — all of it — is to get ahead of or stop any potential crisis.” Key passage: “Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, one commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.” The book’s key tenets, per Peters:
• “The rhythmic, seasonal nature of history that the authors identify foresees an inevitable period of decay and destruction that will tear down existing social and political institutions.”
• “Western society — particularly American culture — has denied the significance of cyclical patterns in history in favor of the more palatable and self-serving belief that humans are on an inexorable march toward improvement.”
• “The authors envision a return to a more traditional, conservative social order as one outcome of a crisis.”

APRIL 2017 “WHOEVER SAYS THAT IS A STUPID IDIOT.”

4.8 Daily Beast reports that Bannon calls Jushner “a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative.’”
4.8 Axios: Steve Bannon, the engine and soul of President Trump‘s hard-edged approach to his first months in office, is increasingly isolated and will be forced out unless he can adopt a more cooperative approach, a top source told me. On both style and substance, Bannon got crosswise with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who are pushing for a more competence- and results-driven focus for the West Wing. In their view, Bannon is too inclined to want to burn things down and blow things up. They want a more open process driven by the interests of the president, not ideology. A senior official said Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is “with the program” of a more inclusive style, and will stay. Insiders have been feverishly discussing possible replacements and Trump considered a change, but the official said: “Reince is staying.” The latest from the “Game of Thrones,” on location in Mar-a-Lago this weekend: The changing culture: Here are the two crucial words to understand the outgoing style and incoming style: We’re told that rather than “nationalist” vs. “globalist,” think of “combat” vs. “collaboration.” Playing defense: Bannon’s allies both inside and outside the White House are scrambling to try to save his job, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports. They argue that getting rid of Bannon will cost Trump among his “America First” constituency, and that Trump’s key to victory is to keep his base motivated.
What’s next: This weekend, Bannon, Kushner and Priebus are having discussions about whether the marriage can be saved: “Either Steve becomes a team player and gets along with people, or he’ll be gone.”
4.7 Eliot H. Cohen in The Atlantic: Give President Donald Trump credit for at least being inconsistent. On March 30 in Ankara, his secretary of state hinted that Bashar al-Assad could remain in power. A week later, it seems increasingly certain that the Syrian regime attacked the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province with chemical weapons, almost certainly nerve agents. But after months of denouncing foreign policy do-goodism and propounding the grumpy doctrine that the United States only looks out for Number One, Trump got riled up at the sight of murdered children, and ordered the U.S. Navy to smack a Syrian air base, which it did with 59 cruise missiles. To be sure, the United States mitigated the president’s righteous anger by telegraphing its punch to the Russians, who promptly warned the Syrians, who presumably got as far away from the Designated Mean Points of Impact as fast as they could. It is also true that few presidents are oblivious to the political upsides of looking tough by blowing up some empty buildings—particularly if doing so undercuts the story that your presidential campaign was in cahoots with the Kremlin. Still, it was a firm response to a loathsome crime, and Trump’s visible distress betrayed a decent outrage that many of his opponents would not have credited him with. The airstrike was the right thing to do. But as with most uses of force, it seems like an answer bound to breed more questions. This was not a painful blow to the Assad regime. Having tipped off the Russians, and targeting things rather than people, it did not do much damage to anything the Assad regime cares about. By using cruise missiles rather than manned aircraft, the United States tacitly admitted that it is deterred, to some degree, by the Russian air defenses installed in Syria. If maximum military effect were desired, air-delivered ordnance is an order of magnitude cheaper and usually more destructive. But aircraft are vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles in a way Tomahawk missiles are not. Moreover, this was a one-time punch at a single target. A truly punishing attack would involve multiple targets, and perhaps repeated blows. An effective, destructive attack—that is, one that would worry the Assad regime—would have killed skilled personnel, military and political leaders, and elite fighters. This strike was, instead, appropriate in the narrowest and weakest sense: It went after the base (apparently) from which the nerve-agent-carrying planes that attacked Khan Sheikhoun flew. Blowing up some installations is not, in fact, “proportionate” to the massacre of children. A warning this was; the avenging sword of justice this was not. Conceivably, the Syrian government may calculate that worse will follow from a repeat offense. Just as conceivably, they and their Russian and Iranian allies may conclude that this president, like some of his predecessors, mistakes the theater of war for the real thing. They do not.”
08OBRIENobit-web-3-master6754.7 Glenn O’Brien dies at 70. He assigned me articles at Spin. He was a decent guy who seems to have had no insecurities. I regreet that I did not know him better.
4.7 David Brooks in the Times: “Trump’s greatest achievements are in the field of ignorance. Up until this period I had always thought of ignorance as a void, as an absence of knowledge. But Trump’s ignorance is not just an absence; it is a rich, intricate and entirely separate universe of negative information, a sort of fertile intellectual antimatter with its own gravitational pull. It’s not so much that he isn’t well informed; it’s that he is prodigiously learned in the sort of knowledge that doesn’t accord with the facts of our current dimension. It is in its own way a privilege to be alive at the same time as a man who is the Albert Einstein of confirmation bias, a man whose most impressive wall is the one between himself and evidence, a man who doesn’t need to go off in search of enemies because he is already his own worst one.”
4.7 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power. After McConnell justified his filibuster-ending “nuclear option” by saying it would be beneficial for the Senate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this: “Whoever says that is a stupid idiot.” McConnell is no idiot. He is a clever man who does what works for him in the moment, consequences be damned.
4.7 Gorsuch confirmed
4.7 Albany
4.6 Don Rickles dies at 91
4.6 Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: “The administration’s proposed spending plan … appeases those who have long been determined to cut means-tested programs. But those same programs are crucial to keeping 6.2 million white working class voters out of poverty … The number of whites dependent on safety net programs is far larger than the number of African Americans, at 2.8 million, or Hispanics, at 2.4 million. …Nate Cohn reported in The Times that Trump voters “have the most to lose in the G.O.P. repeal bill.” The first major piece of legislation to be taken up after the election amounted to a kick in the teeth to Trump’s populist base.
4.6 Axios: Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group: “One of the strangest and most baffling realities about the current legislative dumpster fire on Capitol Hill is that it was created, fostered, and fed entirely by Republicans who nominally control the House, Senate, and White House. We are now on our THIRD health care ‘plan’ in four months … All week [Republicans] have been negotiating against themselves … They are going in the wrong direction and spending down all their political capital.”
4.5 Trump: “Yesterday’s chemical attack, a chemical attack so horrific in Syria against innocent people including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies, their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated,” Trump said today from the White House. “My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. . . It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies – babies, little babies – with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was – that crosses many, many lines – beyond a red line, many, many lines.”
4.5 McConnell said that “senators have traditionally defended the Senate as an institution, because they knew that the Senate was the last legislative check for political minorities and small states against the kind of raw exercise of power large states and majority parties have always been tempted to wield.”
17553470_10156088521723902_332691539412549046_n4.5 Steve Bannon dropped from National Security Council
4.5 Dems block Neil Gorsuch nomination, opening the way for Republicans to ue the nuclear option
4.5 Forty companies boycott Bill O’Reilly. Trump: “I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person. I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
4.5 Pepsi pulls Kendall Jenner commercial
4.5 President Bashar al-Assad’s government uses sarin against civilians in an attack that left 58 dead, including children, and at least 160 injured
4.4 The death toll is up to 14 in the suicide bombing on a St. Petersburg metro
4.4 Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai pull their ads from Bill O’Reilly‘s show
4.4 Wall Street Journal: “ “Tesla Inc., the upstart Silicon Valley electric-car maker run by [Elon] Musk, has overtaken Ford Motor Co., the automotive pioneer that is exactly 100 years older, as the second-largest U.S. auto maker by stock-market value.”
4.3 North Carolina beats Gonzaga for the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship
4.3 Daily Kos: “To be more exact, Case and Deaton found that middle-aged, non-Hispanic Americans without a college degree experience a significantly higher mortality rate than those in advanced countries like the United Kingdom or Germany. While everyone else in the United States is getting healthier and living longer, it’s that segment of whites who accounted for “half a million deaths” between 1999 and 2013. To scientists, the sudden die-off in middle-of-the-road white Americans constitutes a phenomenon “unprecedented in the annals of public health among developed nations” with the exception of the post-U.S.S.R. deaths of Russian males and, in some ways, the first shock waves of the AIDs crisis in the early 1980s. Joseph Stiglitz lays much of the blame for the increase in deaths from suicide, drugs, and alcoholism on our growing economic inequality, and on the high price we, as a nation, pay for medical care which, for too long, has put it out of the reach of those who need it most. Stiglitz also mentions the increase in mortality that occurred in Russia after the dissolution of the USSR. The causes of the increase in mortality and morbidity among white, non-Hispanics (WNH) seem to be equal parts economic inequality, with its accompanying lack of economic progress among WNH, and the opiod epidemic that has spread across the nation. The increase in mortality among WNH is centered mostly among those lacking higher education and appears to have few geographical restrictions. The increase in morbidity has not only increased the number of people on Social Security, but will also impact Medicare as this cohort ages into retirement.”
4.3 Jordan Peel becomes first black director to have a $100 million-grossing debut; Jordan Peele’s critically-acclaimed horror satire “Get Out” has now crossed the $100 million threshold in grosses
4.2 Fig and Olive with Shawn and Molly
4.2 Albany fails to agree on a budget; Governor sends extender bill, good to May 31. “That wack-a-mole game where you whack one of those moles and then you whack another one and the other one pops right back up again,” said Sen. James Tedisco (R-Glenville). “This is the process that’s been taking place.”
4.2 Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher in major league history to hit two home runs on opening day. Additionally, he took a perfect game into the sixth and finished with 11 strikeouts in seven innings. Yet the Giants bullpen blew two leads, and Arizona won 6-5.
4.2 NY Times: $13 million has been paid to women accusing Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment, and at least six women have leveled accusations against him.
4.1 New York Times: More than 100 gay men have been detained and at least three have been killed by authorities in Chechnya, according to a Russian newspaper. The disturbing report from Novaya Gazeta, which cites government and police sources, follows a week of rumors about gay men mysteriously disappearing off the streets of the Russian republic, the Times reports. Dozens of men between the ages of 16 and 50 have been detained “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” according to Novaya Gazeta as quoted in the Times. The report blamed local authorities for the men’s detention and identified three men as murder victims. It’s thought that the actual number of dead may be higher.
4.1 Roger Cohen in the Times: “the day will come when the Dow plunges and what the former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is said to have feared most in politics — “events, dear boy, events” — occurs, perhaps in ghastly terrorist form, and an incoherent administration will be confronted by its first crisis. All that can be said for now is that, in such a moment, illiberalism and xenophobia in the hands of a would-be autocrat will make for a dangerous brew.”
4.1 Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are said to be worth $741 million
4.1 Albany
4.1 Albany

YEVGENY YEVTUSHENKO 1933-2017

Along with Bob Dylan and Nat Hentoff, the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko was part of the larger, more sophisticated world to which my sister introduced me in 1966 or so. I read his memoir. I remember only one thing: his description of the government’s decision to devalue the ruble, which sent people out to spend their entire supply of money before it was decimated. He described people sticking up on toilet seats.

Here is some lines from his magnum opus, Babi Yar:

There are no monuments over Babi Yar.
But the sheer cliff is like a rough tombstone.
It horrifies me.
Today, I am as old
As the Jewish people.
It seems to me now,
That I, too, am a Jew.

It seems to me,
I am a boy in Byelostok.
Blood is flowing,
Spreading across the floors.
The leaders of the tavern mob are raging
And they stink of vodka and onions.
Kicked aside by a boot, I lie helpless.
In vain I plead with the brutes
As voices roar:
“Kill the Jews! Save Russia!”

MARCH 2017: “THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE AND NO ONE IS SAYING IT”

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 23:  U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the cab of a truck as he welcomes members of American Trucking Associations to the White House March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted truckers and CEOs for a listening session on healthcare.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 23: U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the cab of a truck as he welcomes members of American Trucking Associations to the White House March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted truckers and CEOs for a listening session on healthcare. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
3.31 After 111 consecutive victories, UConn women lose to Mississippi State in an NCAA semi-final game.
3.31 Maggie Haberman via Twitter: ” The NY wing vs national wing matters less as chronic infighting and more as a … death battle over who can move the president in a game of inches.”
3.30 SpaceX flew a previously used rocket on Thursday in an unprecedented test of the durability of space equipment.
3.30 Crayola fired Dandelion.
3.30 HuffPosT: “Luka Maksimovic is a white stallion-riding, man bun-sporting self-proclaimed Gandalf of the Balkans. He’s also second in Serbia’s leadership race, with the election just days away.The 25-year-old university student and satirist uses the alias “Ljubisa ‘Beli’ Preletacevic,” which loosely translates to “the white one” and “defector.” His swift and unlikely emergence as a top presidential candidate has shed a comical but poignant light on the country’s long history of political corruption.”
3.30 Washington Post: At a Senate committee hearing witness Clifford “Watts flatly stated that the president himself has become a cog in such Russian measures. When asked by Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, who appeared visibly dismayed, why, if Russians have long used these methods, they finally worked in this election cycle, Watts’ answer was extraordinary. “I think this answer is very simple and is one no one is really saying in this room,” he said. Part of the reason, he went on, “is the commander in chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents.” To buttress the claim that Trump (unwittingly or not) aided Russian disinformation efforts, Watts cited several instances. Among them: Trump’s citation of an apparently false Sputnik story at an October 2016 campaign appearance; his ongoing denial before and after the campaign of U.S. intelligence of Russian interference in the election; his claims of voter fraud and election rigging, which Watts said was pushed by RT and Sputnik; and Trump’s questioning of the citizenship of former President Barack Obama and even his primary rival Ted Cruz. Watts added that one of the reasons such tactics are working is that Trump and/or his surrogates have repeated some of the claims, further spreading them through social media accounts that are owned both by real people and bots. Thus, the disinformation is kept alive and gradually becomes more real and plausible. “Part of the reason active measures work is because they parrot the same lines,” Watts said.”
3.29 British Prime Minister Theresa May sent European Council President Donald Tusk a hand-delivered letter notifying the European Union of the U.K.’s intention to leave the 60-year-old bloc.
3.29 Former president George W. Bush reportedly said Donald Trump’s inaugural speech was “some weird sh-t.”
3.29 Two former high-level members of the Christie administration were sentenced to prison terms Wednesday in the political scandal that became known as Bridgegate. Bridget Anne Kelly, 44, a former top aide to the governor whose “time for some traffic problems” email became a focal point of the federal investigation, was given 18 months Bill Baroni, 45, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, received a 24 month sentence.”
3.29 An Indonesian man has been found dead inside the belly of a seven-meter-long python, a local media reports. Akbar Salubiro had not been seen since setting off to harvest palm oil in a remote village on the island of Sulawesi. The 25-year-old man was missing since March 26.
3.28 The Royal Mint released 1.5 billion one-pound coins featuring a 12-sided bimetallic design, a hologram, and other anti-counterfeiting measures. An estimated 45 million fake coins are in circulation.
3.28 Washington Post: “In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”
IMG_22793.28 Albany: Dim, Dank, Damp and Drafty
3.27 Nearly 1 out of every 3 days he has been president, Trump has visited a Trump property
3.27 Albany. Watched Rocktopia!
3.27 Joe Scarborough on Twitter: Extreme gerrymandering is the worst thing that’s happened to Congress in a long time
3.26 Judge Jeanine calls on Speaker Ryan to step down, after Trump tweets a tout of her show
3.26 Axios: Amid high-stakes postmortems that include conversations with President Trump about White House staffing and operations, aides are rewriting their plans for the next legislative fight — with a weakened President and Speaker, emboldened House hardliners, and a party at war with itself. “It’s like you’re in a room with 2-year- olds, and one side complains about any attention you give the other,” a White House official said. Forget pie in the sky like tax reform or a massive infrastructure package. Now aides fear a government shutdown when the current continuing resolution runs out at the end of April. “I’m worried about everything right now,” said a senior Republican operative who’s in the war.
3.26 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “ my primary observation about Washington is this: Unless you’re careful, you end up turning into what you started out scorning. And you, Donald, are getting a reputation as a sucker. And worse, a sucker who is a tool of the D.C. establishment. You got played. It took W. years to smash everything. You’re way ahead of schedule.”
3.26 Edgewood to clean
3.25 Axios: “When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon’s opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” Bannon’s point was: This is the Republican platform. You’re the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset. One of the members replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”
3.24 Fortune names Theo Epstein of the Cubs 2017’s greatest leader.
3.25 After the bill was pulled, Trump called Robert Costa of the Washington Post: “I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days.’’ Turning to an aide, Trump asked, ‘How many days is it now? Whatever.’ He laughed. … ‘I would say [we were] within anywhere from five to 12 votes,’ Trump said … Does Trump regret starting his agenda this year with health care? ‘No, I don’t … But in a way I’m glad I got it out of the way.’. . . As Trump tried to hang up the phone and get back to work, I asked him to reflect … on lessons learned. … ‘Just another day,’ Trump said, flatly. ‘Just another day in paradise, okay?’ He paused. ‘Take care.'”
3.24 Dan Balz in the Washignton Post: “In a do-or-die moment, Republicans come undone”: “Trump’s reputation as the closer in chief has taken a hit — and on the first big test of his presidency. The greater damage has been to the reputation of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan … as the savvy intellectual godfather of a new conservative agenda around which his party could rally.”
3.24 House Republicans pull health care bill
3.24 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today he isn’t worried about artificial intelligence taking over people’s jobs in the near future—even though technology experts’ research suggests he should be.
3.24 The Atlantic: “In 1957, 97 percent of men in America ages 25 to 54 were either working or looking for work. Today, only 89 percent are. Italy is the only OECD country with a lower labor-force participation rate for men in their prime years. Just why there are so many men who aren’t working is a matter of debate. In a 2016 report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers examined the declining labor-force participation rate and suggested that a drop-off in good jobs for low-skilled men was part of the explanation. Wages, the report theorized, are so low for many jobs that don’t require a college education that men don’t find it worth it to seek out bad jobs. . . .Conservative scholars have a different view. In his 2016 book, Men Without Work, Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute put forward two arguments: First, that as social welfare programs have gotten more generous, they’ve lured men away from trying to find a job, and, second, that a large share of the men who are not working are ones with criminal records who have not been able to find a job, and have thus given up. . . .But there’s another theory that deserves mentioning, especially because it fits with recent research about the declining health outcomes among American men. That theory suggests that American men are dropping out of the workforce because they are suffering from serious health conditions that make it difficult for them to work. As their health deteriorates, they’re getting on pain medications, which then make it even more difficult to re-enter the workforce. Princeton economist Alan Krueger argued this theory late last year at a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and in an October 2016 paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In his research, he found that almost half of working-age men who were not in the labor force were taking pain medication on a daily basis, and that two-thirds of those men were taking prescription medication. These men also reported more functional disabilities: Krueger found that 43 percent of prime-aged men who are out of the labor force report their health as fair or poor, compared with 12 percent of employed men and 16 percent of unemployed men. Health-related problems “are a substantial barrier to work that would have to be addressed to significantly reverse their downward trend in participation,” Krueger writes. Krueger’s work looks specifically at pain medication, but the health problems keeping Americans out of the workforce may be broader than that. Millions of Americans are increasingly struggling with obesity and with diabetes, as well as with alcoholism. A 2015 paper by husband-and-wife team Anne Case and Angus Deaton in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that while the mortality rates for people aged 45 to 52 in most rich countries declined by 2 percent per year, mortality rates for U.S. whites rose by half a percent each year starting in 1998. “Deaths of despair” such as suicide, alcohol and drug poisoning, and alcohol-related liver disease killed many of these men. There are now 30 million Americans living with diabetes, more than three times the number living with the disease in the early 1990s. And a recent study has suggested that diabetes might be more of a factor in American mortality than was previously thought—perhaps the third leading cause of death in America, after cancer and heart disease. (Diabetes is prone to under-counting because the official cause of death is often something else.) Obesity and diabetes have been shown to disproportionately affect people with a high-school education or less—the same group who are disappearing from the labor force.
3.23 President Trump to TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer: “Hey, look, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m President and you’re not.”
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3.22 Four people were killed and 20 wounded in a lone wolf terrorist attack near the British Parliament. The alleged attacker, armed with a knife, struck several people with a car on Westminster Bridge and attempted to enter Parliament, killing a policeman before being shot dead by another officer. ISIS claimed responsibility
3.22 SecState Rex Tillerson: “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. … My wife told me I’m supposed to do this. … When he asked me at the end of that conversation to be secretary of state, I was stunned.”
3.22 Wall Street Journal: “[T]he President clings to his [wiretapping] assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle … [I]f he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.”
3.22 Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker: “[T]he larger takeaway from the White House’s spin is that the top people around Trump may have no idea how much exposure the President has on the issue of Russian collusion.”
3.22 The AP reported that Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, worked to advance Russia’s political interests while employed by an oligarch close to Putin. Hours later, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes—whose other recent statements have cast doubt on his credibility—caused another uproar: He announced new information that lent vague support to the president’s claims he was surveilled—though it still gave no proof of government wrongdoing—and then briefed Trump himself without having shared the info with Democratic members of the committee.
3.21 Edgewood
3.20 Edgewood
3.21 Azerbaijani story breaks out with Mr. Stupid
3.21 FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: ‘THE DEPARTMENT HAS NO INFORMATION THAT SUPPORTS THOSE TWEETS’ The FBI director directly refuted President Donald Trump’s claim that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by President Barack Obama during testimony to the House Intelligence committee about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
3.20 David Rockefeller dies at 101
3.20 The new “Beauty and the Beast” raked in $170 million domestically.
3.17 The Independent: Donald Trump has apparently refused to shake Angela Merkel’s hand during a joint appearance at the White House. The pair held an awkward meeting that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance and shape the working relationship between two of the world’s most powerful leaders. While the President greeted the German leader with a handshake upon her arrival at the White House, he appeared to ignore requests to do so as the pair sat together later in front of TV cameras. In footage of the photo opportunity, as photographers call for the two to shake hands, Ms Merkel can be heard saying: “Do you want to have a handshake?” Mr Trump briefly turns towards her, but continues sitting with his legs apart and hands together. She then turns back to face the cameras, smiling thinly.
3.17 The Guardian: British intelligence officials have denied an allegation that the UK helped former president Barack Obama “wiretap” Donald Trump during the 2016 election. The claim was repeated by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Thursday and dismissed as “utterly ridiculous” by a GCHQ spokesperson. The spokesperson added in a statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
3.16 At a recent military conference in Washington, DC, US general David Perkins told the audience that a US ally used a Patriot missile to shoot down a small consumer drone. These missiles are radar-controlled warheads designed by the US firm Raytheon, and cost up to $3 million apiece. The drone cost about $300.
3.17 From an excerpt of Tom Verducci’s upcoming book The Cubs Way: The Zen Of Building The Best Team In Baseball And Breaking The Curse: “An hour before the seventh game of the World Series, Rizzo stripped off all his clothes, cranked the theme from Rocky on the clubhouse stereo one more time, jumped on top of a coffee table, and began quoting lines from the movie and throwing his best shadow-boxing punches. Pitcher Hector Rondon, joining in on the hijinks, picked up an aerosol can of shoe cleaner and sprayed it in the direction of Rizzo’s groin. Startled and angered, Rizzo stopped and yelled, “What the heck, man!” He cut the music and stormed off toward the showers to clean off the spray. “I’m thinking, Dang, what’s he doing?” Ross said. “We can’t have this negative vibe right before the game. I go by there. I can tell he’s a little irritated.” Ten minutes went by. Rizzo finally emerged from the shower. He walked back silently to his locker with a towel around this waist. The room was quiet and uneasy. David Ross walked up to Rizzo and broke the silence. “Hey! It’s not how many times you get knocked down … it’s how many times you get up!” Rizzo chuckled. “You know what?” he said. “You’re right!” Said Ross, “He rips the towel off, runs up, turns the music on again, and he jumps back on the coffee table and starts doing the Rocky motions again.”
3.16 The Atlantic: To fund an increase in military spending, the budget make deep cuts to education programs and funding for science, including the bipartisan-supported National Institutes of Health. It would eliminate funding for 19 independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts. All these cuts could hurt low-income Americans, including some of Trump’s own supporters, not to mention slowing scientific and tech research that might otherwise help revive U.S. manufacturing
3.16 Mark Cuban on Trump: “He’s Zoolander. I’m serious. He’s oblivious to everything.’’
3.15 In the Netherlands: Geert Wilders, the far-right populist candidate, lost
3.15 Women in finance are punished more severely than men. They’re 50% more likely to lose their jobs as a result of misconduct.
3.15 Ivanka Trump attends the new musical “Come From Away” with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
3.14 Storm Stella whips the US Northeast—foot of snow in Westchester
3.14 Axios: “Gary Coby, who led the Trump Campaign’s advertising team alongside Brad Parscale, said that each day, the campaign tested 40,000-50,000 automated ad combinations on Facebook for $200,000-$300,000. From there, they found which messaging attracted audiences whose voter files weren’t pegged as being likely to vote for Trump. Experimenting that quickly allowed them to build up enough historical data to very quickly identify trends of which ads worked and which didn’t. Coby told Axios that campaign staff got so good at predicting effectiveness of certain messaging, that they could see what worked after only spending $20-$50 on a particular ad.’’
3.14 Michael Gerson in WashPost, “Republicans are defining lunacy down”: “[W]e are seeing the corruption of the Republican Party, as it tolerates, excuses and absorbs Trump’s conspiratorial thinking. … Trump does not face a coup, just a government he has attacked and refused to lead.” 3.14 The Congressional Budget Office rendered a grade on the American Health Care Act and it was not good: projecting that 24 million Americans could lose their health care. In one notable case of sticker shock, the CBO projected that a “single 64-year-old who makes $26,500, for example, could face a 700 percent jump in premiums (from $1,700 now to $14,600 under the GOP bill).”

MARCH 2017: WHAT’S THE POINT?

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3.13 Fourteen million fewer Americans would have health insurance next year if the plan were enacted, according to the analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and that figure would swell to 24 million within a decade. A typical working-class 64-year-old who makes $26,500 annually would pay nearly $13,000 more in premiums every year.
3.12 Albany
3.13 Bill Gates on Axios: “There are a lot of “next frontiers” in computing. Mixed reality is one of them, and so are AI and quantum computing. I have been using virtual reality videos on my Gates Notes blog to bring people along on the work that I do with my foundation. You can come with me to South Africa to learn about HIV/AIDS, which is one of our big program areas. Later this year, I’ll have more VR videos to share. There is still no substitute for seeing these things for yourself, but VR is a close second.’’
3.13 Deposed South Korean president Park Geun-hye departed the Blue House on Sunday, her motorcade flanked by supporters as she headed to her home in the posh Gangnam district of Seoul.
3.12 Trump fires Preet Bharara
3.12 New York Post: “ WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and former pinup Pamela Anderson may be the most unlikely couple on the planet. But since last fall, the 49-year-old blond bombshell — whose résumé includes 15 Playboy covers, “Baywatch” and a sex tape with Tommy Lee — has been happily content to be photographed (almost) fully clothed, as she delivers lunch, or dinner, or heaven knows what else to her latest bad-boy infatuation. Anderson has been a fixture coming and going from Assange’s stronghold in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, silently carting trays of plastic-wrapped homemade vegan delicacies. She has also been seen loaded down with Pret A Manger and Whole Foods bags filled with takeout meals for her numerous têtes-a-têtes with Assange, 45.
3.12 Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
3.12 Albany
3.11 Fig and Olive with Greg and Susan
3.10 After 16 years, Australian physician Karl Kruszelnicki began a study on the infectous properties of farts. He asked a colleague to fart into a small petri dish used for growing bacteria once with pants on, and once in the buff. He found that on the petri dish exposed to the naked fart, colonies of common gut and skin bacteria began to grow overnight. “Our deduction,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal, “is that the enteric zone in the second petri dish was caused by the flatus itself, and the splatter ring around that was caused by the sheer velocity of the fart, which blew skin bacteria from the cheeks and blasted it onto the dish. It seems, therefore, that flatus can cause infection if the emitter is naked, but not if he or she is clothed. But the results of the experiment should not be considered alarming, because neither type of bacterium is harmful. In fact, they’re similar to the ‘friendly’ bacteria found in yoghurt.”
3.10 Professor Robert Kelly was breaking down the ramifications of the impeachment of South Korea President Park Geun-hye live on BBC when his two young children meandered into the camera frame.
3.10 Paul Krugman in the New York Times: Given the rhetoric Republicans have used over the past seven years to attack health reform, you might have expected them to do away with the whole structure of the Affordable Care Act — deregulate, de-subsidize and let the magic of the free market do its thing. This would have been devastating for the 20 million Americans who gained coverage thanks to the act, but at least it would have been ideologically consistent. But Republican leaders weren’t willing to bite that bullet. What they came up with instead was a dog’s breakfast that conservatives are, with some justice, calling Obamacare 2.0. But a better designation would be Obamacare 0.5, because it’s a half-baked plan that accepts the logic and broad outline of the Affordable Care Act while catastrophically weakening key provisions. If enacted, the bill would almost surely lead to a death spiral of soaring premiums and collapsing coverage. Which makes you wonder, what’s the point?
3.10 David Brooks in the Times: “The central debate in the old era was big government versus small government, the market versus the state. But now you’ve got millions of people growing up in social and cultural chaos and not getting the skills they need to thrive in a technological society. This is not a problem you can solve with tax cuts.
And if you don’t solve this problem, voters around the world have demonstrated that they’re quite willing to destroy market mechanisms to get the security they crave. They will trash free trade, cut legal skilled immigration, attack modern finance and choose state-run corporatism over dynamic free market capitalism. The core of the new era is this: If you want to preserve the market, you have to have a strong state that enables people to thrive in it. If you are pro-market, you have to be pro-state. You can come up with innovative ways to deliver state services, like affordable health care, but you can’t just leave people on their own. The social fabric, the safety net and the human capital sources just aren’t strong enough. New social crises transform party philosophies. We’re in the middle of a transformation. But to get there we’ve got to live through this final health care debacle first.
3.10 China leads the world in self-made female billionaires. An estimated 56 out of 88 call China home.
3.10 In a Twitter exchange with the Atlassian CEO, the Tesla boss said he could build a 100MW battery storage farm in the state within 100 days—or its free of charge. The state has been suffering from serious power outages in the last six months. Tesla built an 80MW farm in just 90 days in California last year.
o4obqx13nuczevewa8wa3.10 Wild radioactive boars are rampaging in Japan. They’ve taken over towns in the Fukushima prefecture near the site of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster.
3.9 National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players. Federal law lays out strict guidelines for how teams can handle and dispense prescription drugs. The sealed court filing, which includes testimony and documents by team and league medical personnel, describes multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of abuses, record-keeping problems and even violations of federal law and were either slow in responding or failed to comply.
3.8 David Wasserman in 538.com: Of the nation’s 3,113 counties (or county equivalents), just 303 were decided by single-digit margins — less than 10 percent. In contrast, 1,096 counties fit that description in 1992, even though that election featured a wider national spread.1 During the same period, the number of extreme landslide counties — those decided by margins exceeding 50 percentage points — exploded from 93 to 1,196, or over a third of the nation’s counties.
3.8 Tom Edsall on NYTimes.com, “Trump’s Political Stew: The president’s electoral coalition has been 50 years in the making. It may prove to be enduring”: “Trump’s impact on voting patterns was not to increase the [GOP] share of the white vote … Both Trump and Mitt Romney carried whites by the same 20-point margin. The big shift Trump wrought was to change the type of whites who voted Republican. … [N]on-college whites [were] the majority, 55.1 percent, with college -educated whites becoming the minority at 44.9 percent.” “Trump has oriented the party toward heightened anger, intensified racial resentment, animosity to immigrants and opposition to trade. This is an exceptionally volatile mix. Trump is fanning rather than quelling the flames — everything he has done so far has been to raise, not lower, the heat. The next question is whether the Republican Party will be able to continue to exploit this mix or whether it will boil over in ways that cannot be predicted.”
3.7 In Nashua, Iowa, a party bus headed to a wedding reception caught fire and exploded.
3.7 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office says it has no Congressional Budget Office score for the bill to repeal Obamacare. Well, I asked, how then do you know: What the impact will be on the deficit What the increase would be in out-of-pocket costs? How many people will lose coverage?How many people will be eliminated from Medicaid? The answer: We don’t have a CBO score. For starters, I frankly don’t believe that. Ryan can direct the CBO to score whatever he pleases, and it defies common sense to think he doesn’t have a very, very good idea how CBO would score this, even with recent changes to reintroduce income as a consideration in calculating the size of the tax credit. Moreover, the notion that House Republicans would vote to end legislation on which tens of millions of people depend for health-care coverage without knowing critical facts about their bill arguably is the most irresponsible display of governance in my lifetime. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was berated for saying members would have to vote for the Affordable Care Act to find out what was in it, but members knew far more about what was in that bill than Republicans now know about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — and Republicans are taking coverage away.”
3.6 Ben Carson: “That’s what America is about, A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
3.6 Greg Sargent in the Post: “Trump is enraged at being subjected to a system of democratic and institutional constraints, for which he has signaled nothing but absolute, unbridled contempt. The system is pushing back, and he can’t bear it.”
3.5 Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping him. Writes EJ Dionne in the Post: “Trump has a problem either way. If he was not wiretapped, he invented a spectacularly false charge. And if a court ordered some sort of surveillance of him, on what grounds did it do so?”
3.5 Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, in the New York Times: “Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Oval Office”: “Previous presidents usually measured their words to avoid a media feeding frenzy, but Mr. Trump showed again over the weekend that he feeds off the frenzy.”
3.5 Marie LePen on 60 Minutes: “Marine Le Pen, the nationalist leader running to be the next president of France, tells Anderson Cooper: “Globalization has become an ideology with no constraints. Now nations are forcing themselves back into the debate. Nations with borders that we control with real economies, not Wall Street economies, but rather factories and farmers. This goes against unregulated globalization, a wild, savage globalization. Wild globalization has benefited some, but it’s been a catastrophe for most.”
3.4 The Washington Post: President Trump on Saturday angrily accused former president Barack Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election. While citing no evidence to support his explosive allegation, Trump said in a series of four tweets sent Saturday morning that Obama was “wire tapping” his New York offices before the election in a move he compared to McCarthyism. “Bad (or sick) guy!” he said of his predecessor, adding that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.” Trump offered no citations nor did he point to any credible news report to back up his accusation, but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. The Breitbart story, published Friday, has been circulating among Trump’s senior staff, according to a White House official who described it as a useful catalogue of the Obama administration’s activities.
3.3 Sessions recuses himself from investigations into 2016 campaign, Russian ties
3.2. Jane Fonda in The Edit: “I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss, I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing.”
3.2 The Atlantic: Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski from the New York Genome Center and Columbia University encoded the 1895 fifty-second long silent movie The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station in DNA. They also stored a computer operating system, a photo, a scientific paper, a computer virus, and an Amazon gift card. Using a new storage strategy, they managed to pack the digital files into record-breakingly small amounts of DNA. A one terabyte hard drive currently weighs around 150 grams. Using their methods, Erlich and Zielinski can fit 215,000 times as much data in a single gram of DNA. You could fit all the data in the world in the back of a car. This could be the future of data storage.
imrs-13.1 At the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner, there were jokes about Kellyanne Conway and the couch. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) made a cringe-worthy joke about that now-famous photo of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the Oval Office sofa. Here’s what he said (my emphasis to Richmond’s remarks added in bold):
“You even mentioned Kellyanne and the picture on the sofa. But I really just want to know what was going on there, because, I won’t tell anybody. And you can just explain to me that — that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar there in that position there. But don’t answer. And I don’t want you to refer back to the ’90s.” Just a few minutes earlier, Republican Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) had said: “Has anyone seen the controversy around Kellyanne Conway and the couch in the Oval Office? Come on, people. You remember the ’90s. That couch has had a whole lot of worse things. Come on now.” According to C-SPAN coverage of the event, the room cracked up at Scott’s ’90s joke. It was edgy without falling over the edge — something you couldn’t repeat at a family dinner, but not directly offensive or accusatory.
3.1 Jonathan Swan in Axios, on “the bipolar Trump presidency”: “Tuesday night’s speech was the first time Trump’s yin and yang was on full display. The core of the speech was the issues on which Trump built his campaign: trade, immigration and national security. On these the Trump-Bannon worldview remains unchanged and is being pursued almost to the letter. But the speech also had a softer side: the environment, childcare, women’s health and female entrepreneurship. These are Ivanka’s projects.” What this creates: A quiet, constant wrestle for the tone of the presidency, if not its substance. As one source close to the White House explained: “One side believes pain is necessary to alleviate the symptoms. The flip side says: ‘Hold on: There are human impacts here.'”

LAST CALL 2016

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Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa, Huma Abedin, Alex Rodriguez, Angelina Jolie, Ryan Lochte, Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch, Colin Kaepernick, Heather Bresch, Hillary Clinton, Matt Lauer, Ghazala Khan, Khizr Khan, Gretchen Carlson, Roger Ailes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Hall, Anthony Weiner, Beyoncé, Martin Shkreli, Elizabeth Holmes, Harold Bornstein, John Stumpf, Sean Hannity, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Tom Hanks, Katie Ledecky, Ken Bone, and Boris Johnson.
Illustration by Barry Blitt.

Eight o’ clock The punctilious Khans, Khizr and Ghazala, arrive on time, invitation in hand.

8:13 Mistaking the event for a costume party, Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson enact one of his favorite fantasies and arrive as Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia.

8:59 Misdirected by a special version of Pokémon Go customized for players hoping to reconstitute the Soviet empire, Vladimir Putin wanders in and spies mutual-admiration-society co-founder Donald Trump, who is loudly calling attention to himself by inviting guests to go furniture shopping with him.

9:04 Suspecting a better party at Robin Roberts’s pad, Michael Strahan ghosts his date, Kelly Ripa, leaving her to make small talk with other suddenly solo acts Angelina Jolie, Huma Abedin, and Alex Rodriguez.

9:13 Loaded with benjamins earned from Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda seeks investment advice from mogul Rupert Murdoch, who gazes into the eyes of Jerry Hall and tells him to put all his money into supermodels.

10:01 Trump ladies collide. “Now that the election’s over,” says Melania to Ivanka, “keep your hands off your father.”

10:08 At the potluck table, the Great British Bake-Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood summarily dismiss Anthony Weiner’s spongy spotted dick but praise the saucy lemonade buns of Beyoncé, who becomes distracted when she overhears her lyrics “Sorry, I ain’t sorry, I ain’t thinking ‘bout you” being sung by the sullied C.E.O. trio of Martin Shkreli, of Retrophin, Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos, and John Stumpf, formerly of Wells Fargo.

10:48 Ryan Lochte, of the U.S. Bathroom-Door Removal Team, gets to work on the powder-room portal, exposing a casual chat between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch.

11:05 Carrying a basket of s’morables, curse-crushing Cubs fan Hillary Clinton heads for her own rendezvous with destiny, only to stumble over an unexpectedly kneeling Colin Kaepernick, sending the basket aloft. Fortunately it is intercepted by a drone piloted by Tom Hanks, who attempts to land his craft on the surface of the punch bowl, at least until he spies Katie Ledecky, taking one more celebratory dip in the sangria.

11:19 Trump doctor Harold “Keep On Truckin’ ” Bornstein performs an instant physical on Sean Hannity and unequivocally declares him the healthiest individual ever to kowtow to President-Elect Trump, though at the same time the doc suggests that if Mr. Hannity is ever going to recover the use of his lips he will need to have them surgically removed from Mr. Trump’s rump.

11:46 In her cups, the Zika mosquito snubs EpiPen profiteer Heather Bresch. “I stick people because it’s my nature,” it sneers. “You do it to make money.”

11:55 Returning to obscurity, Ken Bone encounters thatch-roofed livery driver Boris Johnson, who explains his special Brexit car service: “We leave, but we don’t know where we’re going.”

11:59 Boom! What’s that? Another prime-time Matt Lauer interview crashing to earth? No, no, just Baby 2017, eager to begin.

DECEMBER 2016: ““IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO HIM, IT HAPPENS.”


12.31 Anthony Bourdain in Reason: “The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now. I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.”12.30 Atlas Obscura: “At Walt Disney World, the weeks around Christmas are one of the most crowded times of the year: from all over the country and all over the world, families flock to Orlando to be in this special space for just a few days. Most Disney patrons would probably call their trip a vacation, but to anthropologists, religious studies experts, and art historians, a visit to Disney World looks a lot like another, older form of travel—a pilgrimage.Appetites for direct contact with Disney’s creations have transformed the trek to Disney World into a genuine form of pilgrimage,” writes historian Cheryl Krause Knight, author of Power and Paradise in Walt Disney’s World. In the modern world, a trip to Disney has become a rite of passage that transforms those who make the trek, and the design of the park heightens that experience: Disney World resembles a medieval pilgrimage center, designed to connect pilgrims with the supernatural, represented by Mickey Mouse and company.12.29 President Obama announced sanctions against a number of Russian officials and entities in response to Moscow’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election. The move, which included the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence officials and the closure of two U.S.-based Russian properties, is the first public step the U.S. has taken against Russia for the cyberattack.
12.28 EJ Dionne in the Washington Post: “Here is a bet that the mobilization against Trump will rival in size and influence the tea party uprising against Obama.”
12.28 Debbie Reynolds dies
12.27 Carrie Fisher dies
12.26 Serena Williams in the Washington Post: “If I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
12.25 Saw LaLa Land with Cara. Meh.
12.24 Reince Priebus via Twitter: “”Merry Christmas to all! Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King. We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends.
12.24 George Michael dead at 53
12.24 The farmer said, ” Well, as I see it, Donald Trump is like a ‘Post Tortoise’. When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a post tortoise.” “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with.”
12.23 Poet Maggie Smith
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12.23 Carl Palladino, interviewed by Artvoice:
Artvoice: What would you most like to happen in 2017?
Carl Paladino: Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.
Artvoice: What would you most like to see go in 2017?
12.23 Barack Obama, from an interview conducted November 17 with The Atlantic: “Well, look, I think I am absolutely, you know, surprised like everybody else with the outcome.”
Carl Paladino: Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.
12.23 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Trump lieutenant Newt Gingrich this week proposed an elegant solution for all the conflicts of interest swirling around the president-elect and his team of billionaires: Ignore the law. President-elect Donald Trump, Gingrich said, should let those in his administration do as they wish with their personal fortunes and business interests and pardon them if they are found to have violated laws against using public office for personal enrichment. “He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period’,” Gingrich said on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” on Monday.“Drain the Swamp” is so October.”
12.23 History Channel:
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12.23 Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post: “These Democratic policies probably would help the white working class. But the white working class doesn’t seem to buy that they’re the ones who’d really benefit. Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese. In Kentucky, consumers receiving federal subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges complain that neighbors who are less responsible are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid. “They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” one woman told Vox’s Sarah Kliff. In Ohio, white working-class focus group participants decried that women who “pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” get “welfare every month” and “their housing paid for, their food.” These women seem to live large, one participant said, while people like herself are “struggling to put food on the table.” Participants in this focus group, held by the Institute for Family Studies, were also skeptical of efforts to raise the minimum wage. But how do you really feel? Regardless of party affiliation, gender and income level, most people are more optimistic than they think. Opponents argued either that higher pay wasn’t justified for lower-skilled, less intense work or that raising the minimum wage would unfairly narrow the pay gap between diligent folks such as themselves and people who’d made worse life choices. “That son of a b—- is making $10 an hour! I’m making $13.13. I feel like s— because he’s making almost as much as I am, and I have never been in trouble with the law and I have a clean record, I can pass a drug test,” said one participant.”
12.22 TMZ: “JetBlue kicked a Brooklyn lawyer and his Hunter College professor husband off a plane at JFK on Thursday morning — after he accosted fellow passenger and future first daughter Ivanka Trump right before takeoff. “Your father is ruining the country!” lefty lawyer and avowed Hillary Clinton supporter Dan Goldstein shouted at Trump, as she sat with her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three kids in the main cabin.
12.21 An explosion in the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico, kills at least 29.
12.21 David Remnick on BBC Newsnight: ““A friend at the office said it’s like you’ve been tossed out of an airplane…you feel the alarm, the fear, you feel the freezing wind around you, but you haven’t gone splat yet. On the other hand no parachute has opened…there’s no sense of ‘aah, this is a normal event.’ The back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. There’s not that sense, at least not in me. But there is that impulse to make it such. Normalization. It’s a very human impulse…to normalize the situation so you’re not in a state of constant alarm or fear or sadness or agitation.”
12.21 Trump doctor Harold Bornstein: “If something happens to him, then it happens to him. It’s like all the rest of us, no? That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”
12.21 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “ We now know Comey’s bombshell was based on nothing: The FBI had no evidence of wrongdoing in the newly discovered emails, found on Huma Abedin’s laptop, and no reason to suspect there was anything on the laptop that the FBI hadn’t already dismissed as insufficient to mount a prosecution. Yet that was the flimsy basis for Comey’s letter to Congress reopening the Clinton probe. The new emails were irrelevant or redundant. But by the time Comey said, just two days before the election, that the FBI found nothing new, the damage to Clinton was done.’’


12.20 Bill O’Reilly: “This is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working class voters must be marginalized. White men have set up a system of oppression and that system must be destroyed … The left wants power taken away from the white establishment and they want a profound change in the way America is run.”
12.19 A semi-trailer packed with steel speeds through an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. ISIS claims credit. On the 23rd, the perpetrator was killed in a gun battle with the police in Milan.
aptopix_turkey_russian_ambassador_9215712192016_w31512.19 Andrey G. Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what the leaders of Turkey and Russia called a provocative terrorist attack. The gunman, described by Turkish officials as a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.
12.19 Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: “The plausible case that Russian espionage materially contributed to the election of an American president has been an additional invitation to anger. Now, not only the quality but also the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake. This extreme threat would seem to require a commensurately radical response — some way to change the outcome. But what is the proper conservative response? It is to live within the boundaries of law and reality. There is no certain way to determine if Russian influence was decisive. And no serious constitutional recourse seems to remain. While open to other options, I see none. It will now fall to citizens and institutions to (1) defend the legislature and judiciary from any encroachment, (2) defend every group of people from organized oppression, including Muslims and refugees, (3) expand and defend the institutions — from think tanks to civil liberty organizations — that make the case for a politics that honors human dignity. And pray for the grass to grow.’’
12.19 Atlas Obscura: “Cuba is offering the Czech Republic 135,000 tons of rum to settle a $276 million debt. Czech officials say it’s an “interesting option.”

Jamie Malanowski
12.18 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: 11We have had smart presidents and dim ones, effective ones and incompetents, successful ones and unaccomplished ones. Until now, we have never had one for whom it was legitimate to question at the onset of his presidency whether he could fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” As things stand now, President-elect Donald Trump has suggested he will not divest himself of a myriad of businesses around the globe that pose serious conflicts of interest, nor will he liquidate even foreign holdings, the proceeds of which would put him in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. In an academically sound and federal court brief quality paper, Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurence Tribe conclude: Careful review of the Emoluments Clause shows that the Clause unquestionably applies to the President of the United States; that it covers an exceptionally broad and diverse range of remunerative relationships (including fair market value transactions that confer profit on a federal officeholder); and that it reaches payments and emoluments from foreign states (including state-owned and state-controlled corporations). In the context of Trump, they cite multiple sources of foreign revenue that on their face would, the moment Trump is inaugurated, put him in violation of the Constitution. They enumerate multiple instances in which he already improperly blurred private and public conduct.
12,18 Zsa Zsa Gabor dead at 99
12.18 Washington Post: “A large fraction of Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump won the popular vote, compared with only 7 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of independents. Among Republicans without any college education, the share was even larger: 60 percent, compared with 37 percent of Republicans with a college degree.”
12.16 FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday
mcdonalds-holiday-cup-2-fwx12.16 Do McDonald’s holiday cups look like a butt?
12.16 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st. . . . The farewell party, presented by BET (Black Entertainment Television), was the last in a series of concerts the first couple had hosted at the White House. . . .This would not happen again, and everyone knew it. It was not just that there might never be another African American president of the United States. It was the feeling that this particular black family, the Obamas, represented the best of black people, the ultimate credit to the race, incomparable in elegance and bearing. “There are no more,” the comedian Sinbad joked back in 2010. “There are no black men raised in Kansas and Hawaii. That’s the last one. Y’all better treat this one right. The next one gonna be from Cleveland. He gonna wear a perm. Then you gonna see what it’s really like.” Throughout their residency, the Obamas had refrained from showing America “what it’s really like,” and had instead followed the first lady’s motto, “When they go low, we go high.” This was the ideal—black and graceful under fire—saluted that evening. The president was lionized as “our crown jewel.” The first lady was praised as the woman “who put the O in Obama.”. . . Much as the unbroken ranks of 43 white male presidents communicated that the highest office of government in the country—indeed, the most powerful political offices in the world—was off-limits to black individuals, the election of Barack Obama communicated that the prohibition had been lifted. It communicated much more. Before Obama triumphed in 2008, the most-famous depictions of black success tended to be entertainers or athletes. But Obama had shown that it was “possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time,” as Jesse Williams put it at the BET party. Moreover, he had not embarrassed his people with a string of scandals. Against the specter of black pathology, against the narrow images of welfare moms and deadbeat dads, his time in the White House had been an eight-year showcase of a healthy and successful black family spanning three generations, with two dogs to boot. In short, he became a symbol of black people’s everyday, extraordinary Americanness.


12.15 John Podesta in the Washington Post: “The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future. As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.” What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server. This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call. Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI
12.15 Jimmy Kimmel revealed he’ll be paid $15,000 to host the Oscars ceremony.

NOVEMBER 2016 “THE CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES”

jamie-malanowski11.7 Talking Will Cushing at the Town of Lloyd NY Historical Society
11.7 Ron Brownstein in the Atlantic: “The best-case scenario is she holds enough working-class whites to defend the Rustbelt states Trump has targeted, and attracts enough college-educated whites and minorities to tip most of the Sunbelt battlegrounds. The worst-case scenario for her is that Trump’s blue-collar blitz narrowly pushes him past her in some of the Rustbelt states she needs, while she cannot advance quite enough among minority and college-educated white voters to overcome his non-college-educated, non-urban, religiously devout coalition in Sunbelt states like North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, much less Arizona and Georgia. Transitioning between her party’s past and future, Hillary Clinton’s nightmare is that she might be caught awkwardly in between.
11.7 Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: Trump in one chart
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11.7 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: Reactionaries, as political theorists explain, suffer from false memory and the need to shut out current reality: “[The reactionary’s] story begins with a happy, well-ordered state where people who know their place live in harmony and submit to tradition and their God. Then alien ideas promoted by intellectuals—writers, journalists, professors—challenge this harmony and the will to maintain order weakens at the top. (The betrayal of elites is the linchpin of every reactionary story.) A false consciousness soon descends on the society as a whole as it willingly, even joyfully, heads for destruction. Only those who have preserved memories of the old ways see what is happening. Whether the society reverses direction or rushes to its doom depends entirely on their resistance. For Trump “a happy, well-ordered state” means women are docile, minorities do not compete for white males’ jobs and the United States stands apart from the world. This infatuation of the past is characteristic of the alt-right (who’d like to reverse 60 years, at least, of racial progress). It likewise reflects the vibe of white Christian evangelicals who resent no longer dominating the culture (hence the obsession with getting everyone to say “Merry Christmas”) and who have adjusted poorly to the rapid influx of non-whites. He perfectly encapsulates the sentiments of the anti-immigrant exclusionists who fear newcomers will deform America (i.e., move it away from its white, religious, Christian origins). The people who adore Trump are those who have lost status for the past few decades; his most ardent foes (professional women, minorities) those who have gained the most. Ironically, Trump keeps asking: What do you have to lose? The last 50 years, answer women and minorities. This is where the GOP is heading — backward. You see it in the party’s refusal to accept gay marriage, in its idolization of the smokestack industry of the 1950’s and in its condescension toward women. If they seem uninterested in finding concrete solutions to real problems it is because they do not wish to accept where we are; they engage in magical thinking to imagine going back. “Make America Great Again” is a reactionary plea for the present to become like the past. If the center-right is to maintain a viable political movement it will have to banish the reactionaries, flee from their party or stage an intervention. If there is to be a conservative renaissance it will need to come from the groups whom Trump has most alienated and who have the most to lose from his vision — millennials, women, minorities, the college-educated. Many Republicans figured this demographic and philosophical reckoning would come in a decade or so. Thanks to Trump, that process has been accelerated. With an electorate that much more closely resembles contemporary America than Trump’s America, this political collision is occurring before our eyes, in real time.”
11.7 EJ Dionne in The Washington Post: “The fact that Trump still has a chance of victory speaks to a profound distemper in the country. Our deep divides along lines of party, race, class, gender and region guarantee even a man as deeply flawed as Trump a firm foundation of support. And many of our fellow citizens, shaken by economic and social changes, are hurting so much that they have embraced the opportunity to use Trump as a way of expressing their rage. Trump’s rise challenges both sides of politics. The massive support for Trump among white working-class voters suggests that they do not find the economic promises of progressive politicians sufficiently persuasive or believable to entice them away from the riskiest vote they will ever cast in their lives. Liberals have much work to do.”
11.7 In Vanity Fair: “My belief is that Peter Thiel does not personally believe in Trump, but that he wants to create what I call the ‘burn it down party’,” investor Jason Calacanis told me. “Peter would like to see Trump win because it is the quickest way to break the two-party system and create Peter’s vision for America, which he is slowly unpacking.” That theory, no matter how dystopian, may have some credence. Thiel, wittingly or not, has been articulating a very particular vision of late. During a speech at the National Press Club, Thiel hit on some familiar territory. He noted that the tech industry is deeply out of touch with the impact that their financially successful products have on the rest of the country. (This is one area where I actually agree with Thiel: in the Valley, a majority of pointless app founders are often too able to convince themselves that they have somehow “made the world a better place.”) In general, as Adam Davidson recently explained in The New Yorker, Thiel articulated a vision of national despair and ruin centered around inequality, student debt, and the trade deficit. “The protagonists in his national drama are Trump voters,” Davidson writes. “The villains are élites in their coastal bubbles of Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., who do not intend to tolerate the views of half this country.”
90709511.7 Leonard Cohen dies
11.6 Matthew Dowd, ABC: I think she’s got about a 95 chance to win this election, and I think she’s going to have a higher margin than Barack Obama did in 2012. Higher margin. She’s going to win by more than 5 million votes. She’s going to win a higher percentage. And interestingly she’s going to have a more diverse coalition than Barack Obama even did when you take the final vote into consideration. Every piece of data points in that direction.”
11.4 Elon Musk, like many in Silicon Valley, has also become obsessed with the question of what will happen when artificial intelligence and advanced robotics combine to take human jobs. “People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things,” Musk told CNBC in an interview published Friday. But millions of people will also be out of work, made obsolete by robots that can do the same jobs at a lower labor cost. The solution, Musk muses, will be for the government to provide a universal basic income to everyone in the country, establishing a baseline wage as technology displaces human workers. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk told CNBC. “Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen.”
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11.4 Charles Krauthammer in the Post: We are entering a period of unprecedented threat to the international order that has prevailed under American leadership since 1945. After eight years of President Obama’s retreat, the three major revisionist powers — Russia, China and Iran — see their chance to achieve regional dominance and diminish, if not expel, U.S. influence. At a time of such tectonic instability, even the most experienced head of state requires wisdom and delicacy to maintain equilibrium. Trump has neither. His joining of supreme ignorance to supreme arrogance, combined with a pathological sensitivity to any perceived slight, is a standing invitation to calamitous miscalculation. Two generations of Americans have grown up feeling that international stability is as natural as the air we breathe. It’s not. It depends on continual, calibrated tending. It depends on the delicate balancing of alliances and the careful signaling of enemies. It depends on avoiding self-inflicted trade wars and on recognizing the value of allies like Germany, Japan and South Korea as cornerstones of our own security rather than satrapies who are here to dispatch tribute to their imperial master in Washington. It took seven decades to build this open, free international order. It could be brought down in a single presidential term. That would be a high price to pay for the catharsis of kicking over a table.”
11.4 Two former allies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were convicted on Friday for their roles in the “Bridgegate” lane closure scandal,
11.3 Chicago Cubs defeat Cleveland Indians 8-7 in extra innings to win their first World Series since 1908
11.3 Britain’s plan for getting out of the European Union was thrown into doubt Thursday as a senior court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May will need to get Parliament’s approval before she acts.
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11.1 The Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Pennsylvania

OFF TO A GOOD START

imgres-1To Pixar and Beyond, the memoir by Pixar’s CFO Lawrence Levy that I worked on last (as Lawrence’s coach), has debuted to strong reviews. The New York Times said: “Mr. Levy’s ability to remain calm and clear-eyed in the face of singular personalities and business challenges translates into a crisp, even elegant, narrative. When tackling complex or controversial topics, he manages to illuminate the core concepts without oversimplification. In Mr. Levy’s hands, the enigmatic and sometimes ruthless Mr. Jobs emerges as a surprisingly sympathetic character, even as the deep tensions with Pixar’s staff are explored.” Fortune said: “This delightful book is about finance, creative genius, workplace harmony, and luck. (Levy never does explain exactly why Jobs chose him to be Pixar’s CFO.) That’s a lot for one volume by a first-time author with a legal and financial background covering exceedingly well-trod material. At the very end, Levy’s book takes a totally unexpected turn toward being about life itself, and I won’t spoil the ending for you. Life obviously is about more than business, but few books discuss both so well.” I really enjoyed working with Lawrence; his desire to excel made him an idea partner, and I’m happy to say the feelings were reciprocated. “Jamie’s unrelenting critical and heartfelt concern for every part of the book made for a potent if not humbling source of guidance,” he wrote in his acknowledgements. Thanks, Lawrence. Onward and upward!

OCTOBER 2016 “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”

img_222710.30 Bought a Subaru Forrester
10.29 Interview by Mark Moskowitz for documentary on Lary and Theresa
10.29 Washington Post: “Senior Justice Department officials warned the FBI that Director James B. Comey’s decision to notify Congress about renewing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was not consistent with long-standing practices of the department, according to officials familiar with the discussions. The bureau told Justice Department officials that Comey intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails. These officials told the FBI the department’s position “that we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” said one Justice Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the high-level conversations. “Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership,” the official said. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.”’
10.27 Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: “Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager. She has a kind of genius for assembling random words into very long sentences, which she wields against journalists’ questions the way a Jedi knight uses a light saber to deflect incoming fire. Somehow she is serenely unfazed by direct contradiction. After the first debate, she said that Trump had displayed the “presidential virtue” of restraint by not mentioning Bill Clinton’s affairs. But when Trump brought Clinton’s accusers to the second debate, well, she said that was presidential, too.”
10.27 After Tammy Duckworth said that her family had served in uniform dating back to the Revolution, Sen. Mark Kirk replied “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.Duckworth’s mother, Lamai, is Thai, but her late father, Franklin, was a Marine veteran whose family roots in this country trace to before the American Revolution.
maggi-peyton-3a20899110.26 Maggi Peyton dies at 82. Harold Holzer: “Maggi Peyton, for more than 40 years the very model of the quintessential and indispensable behind-the-scenes New York City political aide, died at her Manhattan home on Wednesday, after a long illness. She was 82 years old. One of the closest of all the campaign staffers who helped advance the political fortunes (and manage the dispiriting defeats) of the late feminist icon Bella Abzug through many hard-fought state, city, and local election campaigns in the 1970s, Ms. Peyton. . . a onetime ballet dancer and founding member of the Manhattan Women’s Political Caucus. . . was famously tight-lipped about her bosses, politically sophisticated, intensely loyal, unflappably calm, and a brilliant vote counter in tight elections.”
10.26 The Washington Post: “Trump allies are actively laying plans to punish the GOP leadership for failing to fully embrace Trumpism — and, crucially, to keep Trumpism’s legacy very much alive as a malevolent and disruptive political force inside the Republican Party. The Times notes that Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon is intent on forcing out House Speaker Paul Ryan, while other leading congressional supporters of Trump are warning the GOP leadership not to dare moderate on immigration, which could stir the great Trumpian masses to rise up in rage. In other words, the battle lines will roughly divide between GOP leaders, party strategists, and establishment figures who are urging one set of lessons to be drawn from the defeat (that the party needs to make peace with cultural and demographic change), and Trump supporters who are urging that a very different set of lessons be drawn (that the party must embrace Trump’s species of ethno-nationalism and xenophobic, America First populism). As one congressional expert puts it: “I expect civil war within the GOP after November 8th, as party elites inside and outside of Congress jockey to assign blame and claim the GOP mantle going forward.”
imgres10.26 Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon, by Peter Ames Carlin
10.25 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Take the baby boomers. Please.The idealists of the 1960s have come a long way from Woodstock. After a quarter- century of mismanaging the country, they have produced Donald Trump, who with his narcissistic and uncompromising style is a bright orange symbol of what went wrong with the massive generation. And polls show that the boomers are the biggest source of support for Trump.Among voters between age 50 and 64, Trump leads Hillary Clinton by three points in Post-ABC News polling and by a point in NBC-Wall Street Journal polling, equal to the older, smaller Silent Generation’s support of the Republican nominee in the latter poll. The generational support for Trump’s burn-it-all-down campaign is the latest reminder of why the baby boomers are in the running to be remembered as the Worst Generation. But, if I may claim a rare moment of generational pride, there is good news in the polling, too. Generation X — my much-maligned generation — has turned emphatically against Trump. The NBC poll shows Clinton leading by 22 points among those between 35 and 49 — a more lopsided rejection of Trump than even the millennials mustered. This raises hope after the debacle of boomer governance. “It’s really the boomers that are driving the hyperpartisanship and polarization and gridlock,” says David Rosen, a consultant specializing in generational effects in politics. Beginning with the boomer-led 1994 Republican Revolution, “that’s where you see the origin of the insane politics that we have right now. Trump is in some ways taking that style to its most absurd and ridiculous extremes.”
10.22 The Chicago Cubs beat the Dodgers 5-0, and reach World Series for first time since 1945
10.21 In the Washington Post, Trump says “What a waste of time if we don’t pull this off. You know, these guys have said: ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. There’s never been a movement like this in the history of this country.’ I say, it matters to me if we win or lose. So I’ll have over $100 million of my own money in this campaign. So, if I lose,if I lose, I will consider this —”
10.20 Donald Trump at the Al Smith Dinner: “I must say the media is more biased than ever before. Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves her. My wife Melania gives the same speech and people get on her case,” he said.
10.20 Hillary Clinton at The Al Smith Dinner: “People look at the Statue of Liberty, and they see a proud history of a nation of immigrants — a beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4. Maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
10.19 Atlas Obscura: “Earlier this October, at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, London paid its rent to the Queen. The ceremony proceeded much as it had for the past eight centuries. The city handed over a knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails to Barbara Janet Fontaine, the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial position in England. The job was created in the 12th century to keep track of all that was owed to the crown. In this case, the Remembrancer has presided over the rent owed on two pieces of property for a very long time—since 1235 in one case, and at least 1211 in the other. Every year, in this Ceremony of Quit Rents, the crown extracts its price from the city for a forge and a piece of moorland. No one knows exactly where these two pieces of land are located anymore, but for hundreds of years the city has been paying rent on them. The rate, however, has not changed—the same objects have been presented for hundreds of years.”
10.19 Wajahat Ali: “Are you not entertained? Is this is not why we’re here? After watching the final presidential debate, and reminiscing about this absolutely absurd and historic election, I’m reminded of the poem “Auto Wreck,” by Karl Shapiro, which I read in elementary school. “The traffic moves around with care, But we remain, touching a wound/That opens to our richest horror.” This election cycle has opened up a uniquely American Pandora’s box of horrors and delights. I am forever changed. How can I ever go back to serious, boring talk about policies that could affect the lives of millions? How can I sit through sober conversations about foreign policy and individual liberties? Who needs elitist jabberwocky, when you’ve just fed me glorious sex talk, bad hombres, Alicia Machado, “Celebrity Apprentice,” Howard Stern, bragging about anatomical size, Mexicans as “rapists,” white supremacists, anti-Semitic trolling, threats against journalists, encouraging foreign governments to hack our emails, reckless allegations of election rigging, threats to jail presidential candidates, “Access Hollywood” videos, Khizr Khan, the mockery of Gold Star mothers, Gennifer Flowers, Ben Carson’s “fruit salad of their lives,” and the use and abuse of Pepe the Frog as a symbol to promote a nativist, racist agenda? Sensationalism has replaced sobriety. Conspiracy theories and baseless allegations have replaced facts. Diplomacy and tact are mocked, and victories are measured not by intelligent policy positions but by snarky tweets and rhetorical low blows. This is the election America deserves, not the one it needs. It encapsulates and unleashes our collective id on the world.”
10.19 10.19 Facial recognition software used by law enforcement agencies across the country has captured information on more than 117 million Americans, according to a report that calls for greater oversight and reviews for possible racial bias. The report, “The Perpetual Line-up,” found that roughly half of all US adults are included in facial recognition databases and 16 states allowed law enforcement officials to run searches against driver’s license photo databases without warrants — a “highly problematic” finding, according to the report released Tuesday by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology.