MAY 2017: “I HOPE YOU CAN LET THIS GO”

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5.25 The spring finalists have been decided: Penguins-Predators, and for a third consecutive year, Cavs-Warriros
5.25 The day after bodyslamming and punching a reporter, Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte won a special election for Congress in Montana.
5.25 Trump to NATO leaders: “Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” Mr. Trump declared, as the leaders shifted uncomfortably behind him, shooting one another sidelong glances. “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” he added. “And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.”
5.24 CBO says 23 million would lose health coverage under GOP bill repealing Obamacare
5.24 The New York Times: Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, an apparant breach of security. “We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all.”
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5.24 At NATO summit, Trump pushes his way past the prime minister of Montanegro
5.24 AP: Here are the 10 highest-paid CEOs for 2016, as calculated by AP and Eqular, with change from last year: Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications, $98 million, Up 499%; Les Moonves, CBS Corp., $68.6 million, Up 22%; Bob Iger, Walt Disney Co., $41 million, Down 6%; David Zaslav, Discovery Communications, $37.2 million, Up 15%; Robert Kotick, Activision Blizzard Inc., $33.1 million, Up 358%; Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp., $33 million, Down 9%; Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner Inc., $32.6 million, Up 3%; Ginni Rometty, IBM, $32.3 million, Up 63%; Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, $28.3 million, Down 40%; Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts, $28.2 million, Up 36%
5.24 Mike Allen in Axios: Republican leaders are coming to the bleak conclusion they will end summer and begin the fall with ZERO significant legislative accomplishments. Privately, they realize it’s political malpractice to blow at least the the first nine of months of all Republican rule, but also realize there’s little they can do to avoid the dismal outcome. In fact, they see the next four months as MORE troublesome than the first four. They’re facing terrible budget choices and headlines, the painful effort to re-work the healthcare Rubik’s Cube in the House (presuming it makes it out of the Senate), a series of special-election scares (or losses) — all with scandal-mania as the backdrop.
5.24 Richard Patterson, the Florida man who used the big penis defense was acquitted of killing 60-year-old girlfriend.
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5.23 Finished The Keepers. Infuriating. Frustrating.
5.23 The Washington Post: Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny that there is any evidence of connections between Trump’s team and Russia.”
5.23 John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director: “”Frequently individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they are on that path until it gets to be a bit too late.”
5.23 Speech by Mayor Mitch Landrieu explaining why New Orleans removed four statues honoring confederates: “The historic record is clear: The Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This “cult” had one goal—through monuments and through other means—to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for. After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous “corner-stone speech” that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” . . . [A] friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too? We all know the answer to these very simple questions. When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth. And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics. This is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once.This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and, yes, with violence.”
5.23 Roger Moore dies
5.22 Suicide bombing at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester kills 22
5.22 “Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man!” — President Trump, returning a compliment given by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who had told Mr. Trump, “You are a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.”
5.21 AP: “With laughter, hugs and tears — and … death-defying stunts — the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus received its final standing ovation Sunday night as it performed its last show.”
5.21 Incumbent Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president in Iran. Rouhani, who wants to open the country up to the West, handily beat Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who strongly opposed Iran’s nuclear deal in 2015.
5.21 Ev Williams, a Twitter co-founder in the Times, re Trump saying Twitter helped elect him: “It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that … If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.”
5.19 Revealed: Trump to Russian officials in the Oval Office on May 10, the day after he fired Comey, per a document summarizing the meeting that was read to the Times by an American official: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job … I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. … I’m not under investigation.”
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5.19 Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa spends $110.5 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, a record price for an American artist at auction
5.18 Trump: “The entire thing has been a witch hunt. There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign—but I can only speak for myself.”
5.18 Man drives through Times Square, kills one, injures 22
5.18 Robert Mueller named Special Counsel
5.18 Roger Ailes dies at 77
5.18 Graydon Carter in Vanity Fair: `The media, the opposition, the resistance, and indeed the rest of the Free World are playing by outmoded rules of engagement with regard to the man in the White House. The thing is, you cannot rise above Donald Trump, you cannot go under him, and you cannot engage him in a conventional way. Before he became president, you could basically ignore him—he was a local joke, after all. Now that he’s commander in chief, you must resist him, with everything that is in you and in every way you can. As anyone who has followed his jerry-rigged career from the 1980s onward will tell you, Trump just drags you to the bottom of the pond every time. Decades ago, he was a short-fingered vulgarian tooling around town in a mauve stretch limo, reeking of Brut. In those days, competitors, subcontractors, politicians, and wives were the ones who found themselves mired in the Trump muck. Now it is the country that’s up to its knees in it.”
5.18 At Cannes, 70 year-old Susan Sarandon shares photo taken in 1978
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5.17 Camera catches Alex Rodriguez‘s notes before broadcast of Yankees-Royals game: “ “We should be talking about why we haven’t spoken about it. Child, birth control, baby, pull out stuff”
5.16 Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from a black Mercedes-Benz sedan as his security detail attacks pickets at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington
5.16 NY Times reports Trump asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. According to a memo Comey wrote, Trump said “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” “A whole new door has opened,” said a well-known Republican operative who has worked to help the Trump White House. “A week ago, we were talking about the agenda grinding to a halt,” the Republican said. “Now, the train is going down the hill backwards.”
5.16 Times: Trump‘s “mood, according to two advisers, … has become sour and dark, and he has turned against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — describing them in a fury as ‘incompetent.'”
5.16 Ross Douthat in the Times: “The 25th Amendment Solution to Remove Trump”: “[T]he 25th Amendment to the Constitution … allows for the removal of the president if a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’ and (should the president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress confirms the cabinet’s judgment.”
5.15 Washington Post: “Trump “revealed highly classified [‘code-word’] information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week”
5.15 AP: “Fidget spinners, the hit toy that spun out of nowhere.”
5.15 At least 200,000 people in 150 countries were hit over the weekend by a malware virus dubbed `Wanna Cry’ that holds files hostage for $300 in bitcoin. A security researcher stumbled into a way to slow the virus
5.15 Gideon Lichfield provides a guide to 21st-century propaganda: “What’s changed, of course, is the internet, and the many new ways it creates for falsehoods to reach us. The power of populism today lies in its ability to combine 20th-century propaganda techniques with 21st-century technology, putting propaganda on steroids.”
5.15 Caitlin Flanagan in New York magazine on Ivanka: “Sometimes, she seems not just essential to his idea of being president; sometimes, she seems the point of his being president. … [Trump] is Lear — ‘All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience’ — but Lear with only one relevant daughter, and to her has fallen the task of keeping his terrifying impatience from destroying not just their shared empire but the world itself. He is strangely dependent on her now. And so are we.”
5.14 Yankees retire Derek Jeter‘s jersey, hang plaque
5.13 In Virginia, alt-right’s Richard Spencer leads torch-bearing protesters defending Confederate statue

THE REICHSTAG WARNING

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In The New York Review of Books, historian Timothy Snyder warns that Trump just might try to commit a Reichstag Fire-like event to declare martial law and arrogate greater power to himself:

“If we know the history of terror manipulation, we can recognize the danger signs, and be prepared to react. It is already worrying that the president speaks unfavorably of democracy, while admiring foreign manipulators of terror. It is also of concern that the administration speaks of terrorist attacks that never took place, whether in Bowling Green or Sweden, while banning citizens from seven countries that have never been tied to any attack in the United States.

“It is alarming that in a series of catastrophic executive policy decisions—the president’s Muslim travel ban, his selection of Steve Bannon as his main political adviser, his short-lived appointment of Michael Flynn as national security adviser, his proposal to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem—there seems to be a single common element: the stigmatization and provocation of Muslims. In rhetoric and action, the Trump administration has aggrandized “radical Islamic terror” thus making what Madison called a “favorable emergency” more likely.

“It is the government’s job to promote both freedom and safety. If we face again a terrorist attack—or what seems to be a terrorist attack, or what the government calls a terrorist attack—we must hold the Trump administration responsible for our security. In that moment of fear and grief, when the pulse of politics might suddenly change, we must also be ready to mobilize for our constitutional rights. The Reichstag fire has long been an example for tyrants; it should today be a warning for citizens. It was the burning of the Reichstag that disabused Hannah Arendt of the “opinion that one can simply be a bystander.” Best to learn that now, rather than waiting for the flames

A KIND WORD FOR DONALD TRUMP

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This week the President Trump made news when he began talking about ancient history. `‘I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War, ” he said. `He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, “There’s no reason for this.”

Apart from the blunderous clause in which Trump had Jackson, a newly minted corpse in 1845, angered about something that began in 1861, the president had a legitimate hypothetical point: had Jackson been president in 1860, the Civil War surely would not have happened as it did, and might not have happened at all.

jackson_secondIt is important to remember that the south did not secede in unison; the states split off one by one, with the last of them that left, Tennessee and North Carolina, not choosing to depart until after the shooting started. South Carolina, which led secession in December 1860, was always the most radical of the southern states, and most of the states–especially key states like Georgia and especially Virginia–were waiting to see how Washington reacted to South Carolina’s bold gesture. In the event, President Buchanan reacted weakly–he said that South Carolina had no right to secede, but that the federal government had no right to compel them to stay.

Thirty years earlier, during the Nullification Crisis, President jackson reacted much differently. Objecting to a high tariff, South Carolina declared it had the right to nullify any action of Congress. Jackson had no sympathy with that position. “There is nothing that I shudder at more than the idea of a separation of the Union. Should such an event ever happen, which I fervently pray God to avert, from that date I view our liberty gone.”

Responding forcefully, he reinforced the garrisons of Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney in Charleston harbor, sent two armed revenue cutters to Charleston harbor, and ordered General Winfield Scott to prepare for military operations. Like Lincoln three decades later, he said that federal forces must not initiate violence, but warned a South Carolina congressman that ‘if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.’ When South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne ventured, ‘I don’t believe he would really hang anybody, do you?’ Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton replied, ‘Few people have believed he would hang Arbuthnot and shoot Ambrister [two British subjects who aided the Seminoles] . . . I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes!’ Jackson followed up these orders with a bill seeking Congressional authorization, and he got allies in Congress to lower the tariff to pacify the other southern states and keep South Carolina isolated. And so the crisis passed.

And so I think Trump was right: had Jackson been president, you would not have seen the war, at least not as it happened.

Trump also drew dismay when he added, ‘People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?’’

Good question, Mr. President! And for a good answer, you can’t beat And the War Came: Six Months That Tore America Apart. You’ll see how an slaveholders–radical, uncompromising, right wingers–manipulated their states into rebellion and war. It might strike a familiar note.

MAY 2017: “AN UNTRAINED MIND BEREFT OF INFORMATION”

5.13 Matthew Continenti in National Review: “You hear it all the time: President Trump hasn’t been tested, hasn’t faced a real crisis. The events of the last few weeks, however, have made me want to turn that formulation around. Trump doesn’t face crises so much as manufacture them. In a way he is the crisis, and his presidency is in danger of being defined not by any legislative or diplomatic achievement but by his handling of the multiplying and daunting obstacles he creates for himself. I do not mean that we are in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Nor are we in a crisis of democracy. Trump was fairly elected, the mechanisms of representative government continue to function, the judiciary and bureaucracy and Congress and media constrain the office of the president. What Trump did in firing James Comey accorded with the powers of the chief executive. Indeed, how this political survivalist had managed to last so long was something of a mystery to me. Throughout his time in Washington, Comey had managed to annoy no less than three presidents — Bush on surveillance, Obama on law enforcement, Trump on Russia. Bush and Obama must have worried about the backlash that would ensue if they derailed Comey and appeared to interfere in the workings of the Department of Justice. Trump has no such hang ups. Violating norms is what he does. The rules that govern public speech, public conduct — what you are allowed to say about your opponents, judges, Islam, immigration, women, how you separate yourself from your company, where you spend your weekends — do not make Trump flinch. His flippancy was part of his appeal. He was the middle finger of the American electorate, a protest against two decades of establishment missteps. He was going to shake things up, drain the swamp, expose that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties, and if he offended his adversaries along the way, well, so be it. Elite consensus had become so petrified, the beneficiaries of globalization so powerful and entrenched, the institutions of the administrative state so disconnected from the sentiments of the people that only a brash tycoon with no political experience could break the deadlock. Trump brought to his campaign an improvisational and unstructured managerial style, a flair for publicity, a savant-like understanding of social media, and the insight that confrontation and polarization are keys to building a brand. He’d follow one outrageous statement with another, hold strident rallies from which cable television could not look away, announce policies so novel and controversial that they seized immediately the imagination of the electorate. The persistent atmosphere of crisis, of emergency and mess, the sense that it could fall apart at any moment heightened the drama, amped us up, kept us watching. McCain, Graham, Megyn Kelley, Carly Fiorina, David Duke, Heidi Cruz, Judge Curiel, Manafort, WikiLeaks, the Access Hollywood video — none of it was planned, none of it was reasoned. It was the same word-salad, the same tweets, jokes, insults, and poses that had carried Trump from relative anonymity as the son of Fred to global fame as a hotel and casino developer, business icon, and bestselling author, television star, golf course owner and licensing king, nascent president. The Trump persona and its endless cycles of deals, failures, and comebacks had carried him this far. Why stop?”


5.10 Trump fires Comey
5.7 Macron beats LePen with 65% of the vote
5.7 New York Times: “[Priebus] has reduced the pace of public events and, like a Montessori teacher, modulates structured work time with the slack periods Mr. Trump craves.”
5.6 Warren Buffet: ““Massive trade should be — and is actually — enormously beneficial to both the U.S. and the world,” he said. “Greater productivity will benefit the world in a general way, but to be roadkill, to be the textile worker in New Bedford” is a painful experience, he added. “It would be no fun to go through life and say I’m doing this for the greater good, and so that shoes or underwear was all for 5 percent less.”
5.5 Quartz: Elon Musk’s juvenile joke is costing Tesla real money. His plan to name his car models “S,” “3,” “X,” and “Y”
5.4 The Atlantic: “ on Thursday, after an embarrassing early failure and weeks of fits and starts, a narrow GOP majority passed legislation to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that even many of its supporters conceded was deeply flawed. The party-line vote was 217-213, with 20 Republicans voting against. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain at best. The American Health Care Act scraps the Obamacare mandates that people buy health insurance and that employers provide it, eliminates most of its tax increases, cuts nearly $900 billion from Medicaid while curtailing the program’s expansion, and allows states to seek a waiver exempting them from the current law’s crucial prohibition against insurers charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions.”
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5.4 Greta van Sustern: “Maybe I’m delusional, but I don’t get this one at all. What is the celebration? It can’t pass in the Senate. It hasn’t even gone to the Senate. . . .It’s like claiming victory in a football game at the end of the first quarter or the half or something,” she continued. “For the life of me, I don’t know why they put themselves in a position where they’re clapping each other on the back for getting something halfway done. The American people want a product. We’re not even there and it’s not even likely to be there. Now we have this picture, this bus ride, this big hoopla. Americans “want health care fixed, they want pre-existing problems taken care of,” she added. “I don’t get this thing. This is a big show. It is fun for us, it’s exciting, we have a big bus going down Constitution avenue. For what? Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed.”
5.4 House repeals Obamacare 217-213, replaces with terrible concoction. At Rose Garden celebration, Trump says `Coming from a different world and only being a politician for a short period of time — How am I doing? Am I doing okay? I’m president! Hey! I’m president! Can you believe it, right?”
5.4 Prince Philip retires
5.3 Hillary Clinton blames Comey, Wikileaks/Russia for loss
c4c2060abd02c0dd2ecc0fe0c4a810155.3 Found this cute picture of Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell
5.3 JP Morgan: Our work around the world has made two things clear. The first is that there are some universal drivers of inclusive growth, which include workforce development — getting more people the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy — small business expansion, financial health and neighborhood revitalization. The second is that making real impact requires the private sector to play a much more active role. Companies must leverage their unique assets to help solve problems — not simply give away money and hope for the best.
5.2 Trump calls Kim Jong-un a “pretty smart cookie”
5.2 George Will: It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence. . . . What is most alarming (and mortifying to the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated) is not that Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation’s history. As this column has said before, the problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.”
5.2 JAMES COMEY: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.”
5.2 Joe and Mika get engaged
5.2 Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) tweeted his reaction to Kimmel’s baby news on Tuesday, writing: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care.”
5.1 Jimmy Kimmel: “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right This isn’t football. There are no teams. We are the team, it’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants.”
5.1 R.R. Reno, editor of the journal First Things: “Mr. Trump‘s shocking success at the polls has done our country a service. Scholars may tut-tut about the historical connotations of ‘America First,’ but the basic sentiment needs to be endorsed. Our country has dissolved to a far greater degree than those cloistered on the coasts allow themselves to realize.”
5.1 Stephen Colbert: “Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine,” Colbert said near the end of the insult-laden rant. “You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”

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.’’
The Jackal Launch Invitation3.15 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.