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.
3.10 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.
3.10 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.
3.8 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.
3.1 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.'”
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.
Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2016
12.31 Anthony Bourdain in Reason: “The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now. I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.”12.30 Atlas Obscura: “At Walt Disney World, the weeks around Christmas are one of the most crowded times of the year: from all over the country and all over the world, families flock to Orlando to be in this special space for just a few days. Most Disney patrons would probably call their trip a vacation, but to anthropologists, religious studies experts, and art historians, a visit to Disney World looks a lot like another, older form of travel—a pilgrimage.Appetites for direct contact with Disney’s creations have transformed the trek to Disney World into a genuine form of pilgrimage,” writes historian Cheryl Krause Knight, author of Power and Paradise in Walt Disney’s World. In the modern world, a trip to Disney has become a rite of passage that transforms those who make the trek, and the design of the park heightens that experience: Disney World resembles a medieval pilgrimage center, designed to connect pilgrims with the supernatural, represented by Mickey Mouse and company.12.29 President Obama announced sanctions against a number of Russian officials and entities in response to Moscow’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election. The move, which included the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence officials and the closure of two U.S.-based Russian properties, is the first public step the U.S. has taken against Russia for the cyberattack.
12.28 EJ Dionne in the Washington Post: “Here is a bet that the mobilization against Trump will rival in size and influence the tea party uprising against Obama.”
12.28 Debbie Reynolds dies
12.27 Carrie Fisher dies
12.26 Serena Williams in the Washington Post: “If I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
12.25 Saw LaLa Land with Cara. Meh.
12.24 Reince Priebus via Twitter: “”Merry Christmas to all! Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King. We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends.
12.24 George Michael dead at 53
12.24 The farmer said, ” Well, as I see it, Donald Trump is like a ‘Post Tortoise’. When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a post tortoise.” “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with.”
12.23 Poet Maggie Smith
12.23 Carl Palladino, interviewed by Artvoice:
Artvoice: What would you most like to happen in 2017?
Carl Paladino: Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.
Artvoice: What would you most like to see go in 2017?
12.23 Barack Obama, from an interview conducted November 17 with The Atlantic: “Well, look, I think I am absolutely, you know, surprised like everybody else with the outcome.”
Carl Paladino: Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.
12.23 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Trump lieutenant Newt Gingrich this week proposed an elegant solution for all the conflicts of interest swirling around the president-elect and his team of billionaires: Ignore the law. President-elect Donald Trump, Gingrich said, should let those in his administration do as they wish with their personal fortunes and business interests and pardon them if they are found to have violated laws against using public office for personal enrichment. “He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period’,” Gingrich said on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” on Monday.“Drain the Swamp” is so October.”
12.23 History Channel:
12.23 Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post: “These Democratic policies probably would help the white working class. But the white working class doesn’t seem to buy that they’re the ones who’d really benefit. Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese. In Kentucky, consumers receiving federal subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges complain that neighbors who are less responsible are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid. “They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” one woman told Vox’s Sarah Kliff. In Ohio, white working-class focus group participants decried that women who “pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” get “welfare every month” and “their housing paid for, their food.” These women seem to live large, one participant said, while people like herself are “struggling to put food on the table.” Participants in this focus group, held by the Institute for Family Studies, were also skeptical of efforts to raise the minimum wage. But how do you really feel? Regardless of party affiliation, gender and income level, most people are more optimistic than they think. Opponents argued either that higher pay wasn’t justified for lower-skilled, less intense work or that raising the minimum wage would unfairly narrow the pay gap between diligent folks such as themselves and people who’d made worse life choices. “That son of a b—- is making $10 an hour! I’m making $13.13. I feel like s— because he’s making almost as much as I am, and I have never been in trouble with the law and I have a clean record, I can pass a drug test,” said one participant.”
12.22 TMZ: “JetBlue kicked a Brooklyn lawyer and his Hunter College professor husband off a plane at JFK on Thursday morning — after he accosted fellow passenger and future first daughter Ivanka Trump right before takeoff. “Your father is ruining the country!” lefty lawyer and avowed Hillary Clinton supporter Dan Goldstein shouted at Trump, as she sat with her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three kids in the main cabin.
12.21 An explosion in the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico, kills at least 29.
12.21 David Remnick on BBC Newsnight: ““A friend at the office said it’s like you’ve been tossed out of an airplane…you feel the alarm, the fear, you feel the freezing wind around you, but you haven’t gone splat yet. On the other hand no parachute has opened…there’s no sense of ‘aah, this is a normal event.’ The back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. There’s not that sense, at least not in me. But there is that impulse to make it such. Normalization. It’s a very human impulse…to normalize the situation so you’re not in a state of constant alarm or fear or sadness or agitation.”
12.21 Trump doctor Harold Bornstein: “If something happens to him, then it happens to him. It’s like all the rest of us, no? That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”
12.21 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “ We now know Comey’s bombshell was based on nothing: The FBI had no evidence of wrongdoing in the newly discovered emails, found on Huma Abedin’s laptop, and no reason to suspect there was anything on the laptop that the FBI hadn’t already dismissed as insufficient to mount a prosecution. Yet that was the flimsy basis for Comey’s letter to Congress reopening the Clinton probe. The new emails were irrelevant or redundant. But by the time Comey said, just two days before the election, that the FBI found nothing new, the damage to Clinton was done.’’
Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary and Dems: "In my opinion, it is humiliating. One must be able to lose with dignity." So true!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2016
12.20 Bill O’Reilly: “This is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working class voters must be marginalized. White men have set up a system of oppression and that system must be destroyed … The left wants power taken away from the white establishment and they want a profound change in the way America is run.”
12.19 A semi-trailer packed with steel speeds through an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. ISIS claims credit. On the 23rd, the perpetrator was killed in a gun battle with the police in Milan.
12.19 Andrey G. Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what the leaders of Turkey and Russia called a provocative terrorist attack. The gunman, described by Turkish officials as a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.
12.19 Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: “The plausible case that Russian espionage materially contributed to the election of an American president has been an additional invitation to anger. Now, not only the quality but also the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake. This extreme threat would seem to require a commensurately radical response — some way to change the outcome. But what is the proper conservative response? It is to live within the boundaries of law and reality. There is no certain way to determine if Russian influence was decisive. And no serious constitutional recourse seems to remain. While open to other options, I see none. It will now fall to citizens and institutions to (1) defend the legislature and judiciary from any encroachment, (2) defend every group of people from organized oppression, including Muslims and refugees, (3) expand and defend the institutions — from think tanks to civil liberty organizations — that make the case for a politics that honors human dignity. And pray for the grass to grow.’’
12.19 Atlas Obscura: “Cuba is offering the Czech Republic 135,000 tons of rum to settle a $276 million debt. Czech officials say it’s an “interesting option.”
12.18 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: 11We have had smart presidents and dim ones, effective ones and incompetents, successful ones and unaccomplished ones. Until now, we have never had one for whom it was legitimate to question at the onset of his presidency whether he could fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” As things stand now, President-elect Donald Trump has suggested he will not divest himself of a myriad of businesses around the globe that pose serious conflicts of interest, nor will he liquidate even foreign holdings, the proceeds of which would put him in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. In an academically sound and federal court brief quality paper, Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurence Tribe conclude: Careful review of the Emoluments Clause shows that the Clause unquestionably applies to the President of the United States; that it covers an exceptionally broad and diverse range of remunerative relationships (including fair market value transactions that confer profit on a federal officeholder); and that it reaches payments and emoluments from foreign states (including state-owned and state-controlled corporations). In the context of Trump, they cite multiple sources of foreign revenue that on their face would, the moment Trump is inaugurated, put him in violation of the Constitution. They enumerate multiple instances in which he already improperly blurred private and public conduct.
12,18 Zsa Zsa Gabor dead at 99
12.18 Washington Post: “A large fraction of Republicans — 52 percent — said Trump won the popular vote, compared with only 7 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of independents. Among Republicans without any college education, the share was even larger: 60 percent, compared with 37 percent of Republicans with a college degree.”
12.16 FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday
12.16 Do McDonald’s holiday cups look like a butt?
12.16 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st. . . . The farewell party, presented by BET (Black Entertainment Television), was the last in a series of concerts the first couple had hosted at the White House. . . .This would not happen again, and everyone knew it. It was not just that there might never be another African American president of the United States. It was the feeling that this particular black family, the Obamas, represented the best of black people, the ultimate credit to the race, incomparable in elegance and bearing. “There are no more,” the comedian Sinbad joked back in 2010. “There are no black men raised in Kansas and Hawaii. That’s the last one. Y’all better treat this one right. The next one gonna be from Cleveland. He gonna wear a perm. Then you gonna see what it’s really like.” Throughout their residency, the Obamas had refrained from showing America “what it’s really like,” and had instead followed the first lady’s motto, “When they go low, we go high.” This was the ideal—black and graceful under fire—saluted that evening. The president was lionized as “our crown jewel.” The first lady was praised as the woman “who put the O in Obama.”. . . Much as the unbroken ranks of 43 white male presidents communicated that the highest office of government in the country—indeed, the most powerful political offices in the world—was off-limits to black individuals, the election of Barack Obama communicated that the prohibition had been lifted. It communicated much more. Before Obama triumphed in 2008, the most-famous depictions of black success tended to be entertainers or athletes. But Obama had shown that it was “possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time,” as Jesse Williams put it at the BET party. Moreover, he had not embarrassed his people with a string of scandals. Against the specter of black pathology, against the narrow images of welfare moms and deadbeat dads, his time in the White House had been an eight-year showcase of a healthy and successful black family spanning three generations, with two dogs to boot. In short, he became a symbol of black people’s everyday, extraordinary Americanness.
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
12.15 John Podesta in the Washington Post: “The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future. As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.” What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server. This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call. Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI
12.15 Jimmy Kimmel revealed he’ll be paid $15,000 to host the Oscars ceremony.
11.7 Talking Will Cushing at the Town of Lloyd NY Historical Society
11.7 Ron Brownstein in the Atlantic: “The best-case scenario is she holds enough working-class whites to defend the Rustbelt states Trump has targeted, and attracts enough college-educated whites and minorities to tip most of the Sunbelt battlegrounds. The worst-case scenario for her is that Trump’s blue-collar blitz narrowly pushes him past her in some of the Rustbelt states she needs, while she cannot advance quite enough among minority and college-educated white voters to overcome his non-college-educated, non-urban, religiously devout coalition in Sunbelt states like North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, much less Arizona and Georgia. Transitioning between her party’s past and future, Hillary Clinton’s nightmare is that she might be caught awkwardly in between.
11.7 Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: Trump in one chart
11.7 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: Reactionaries, as political theorists explain, suffer from false memory and the need to shut out current reality: “[The reactionary’s] story begins with a happy, well-ordered state where people who know their place live in harmony and submit to tradition and their God. Then alien ideas promoted by intellectuals—writers, journalists, professors—challenge this harmony and the will to maintain order weakens at the top. (The betrayal of elites is the linchpin of every reactionary story.) A false consciousness soon descends on the society as a whole as it willingly, even joyfully, heads for destruction. Only those who have preserved memories of the old ways see what is happening. Whether the society reverses direction or rushes to its doom depends entirely on their resistance. For Trump “a happy, well-ordered state” means women are docile, minorities do not compete for white males’ jobs and the United States stands apart from the world. This infatuation of the past is characteristic of the alt-right (who’d like to reverse 60 years, at least, of racial progress). It likewise reflects the vibe of white Christian evangelicals who resent no longer dominating the culture (hence the obsession with getting everyone to say “Merry Christmas”) and who have adjusted poorly to the rapid influx of non-whites. He perfectly encapsulates the sentiments of the anti-immigrant exclusionists who fear newcomers will deform America (i.e., move it away from its white, religious, Christian origins). The people who adore Trump are those who have lost status for the past few decades; his most ardent foes (professional women, minorities) those who have gained the most. Ironically, Trump keeps asking: What do you have to lose? The last 50 years, answer women and minorities. This is where the GOP is heading — backward. You see it in the party’s refusal to accept gay marriage, in its idolization of the smokestack industry of the 1950’s and in its condescension toward women. If they seem uninterested in finding concrete solutions to real problems it is because they do not wish to accept where we are; they engage in magical thinking to imagine going back. “Make America Great Again” is a reactionary plea for the present to become like the past. If the center-right is to maintain a viable political movement it will have to banish the reactionaries, flee from their party or stage an intervention. If there is to be a conservative renaissance it will need to come from the groups whom Trump has most alienated and who have the most to lose from his vision — millennials, women, minorities, the college-educated. Many Republicans figured this demographic and philosophical reckoning would come in a decade or so. Thanks to Trump, that process has been accelerated. With an electorate that much more closely resembles contemporary America than Trump’s America, this political collision is occurring before our eyes, in real time.”
11.7 EJ Dionne in The Washington Post: “The fact that Trump still has a chance of victory speaks to a profound distemper in the country. Our deep divides along lines of party, race, class, gender and region guarantee even a man as deeply flawed as Trump a firm foundation of support. And many of our fellow citizens, shaken by economic and social changes, are hurting so much that they have embraced the opportunity to use Trump as a way of expressing their rage. Trump’s rise challenges both sides of politics. The massive support for Trump among white working-class voters suggests that they do not find the economic promises of progressive politicians sufficiently persuasive or believable to entice them away from the riskiest vote they will ever cast in their lives. Liberals have much work to do.”
11.7 In Vanity Fair: “My belief is that Peter Thiel does not personally believe in Trump, but that he wants to create what I call the ‘burn it down party’,” investor Jason Calacanis told me. “Peter would like to see Trump win because it is the quickest way to break the two-party system and create Peter’s vision for America, which he is slowly unpacking.” That theory, no matter how dystopian, may have some credence. Thiel, wittingly or not, has been articulating a very particular vision of late. During a speech at the National Press Club, Thiel hit on some familiar territory. He noted that the tech industry is deeply out of touch with the impact that their financially successful products have on the rest of the country. (This is one area where I actually agree with Thiel: in the Valley, a majority of pointless app founders are often too able to convince themselves that they have somehow “made the world a better place.”) In general, as Adam Davidson recently explained in The New Yorker, Thiel articulated a vision of national despair and ruin centered around inequality, student debt, and the trade deficit. “The protagonists in his national drama are Trump voters,” Davidson writes. “The villains are élites in their coastal bubbles of Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., who do not intend to tolerate the views of half this country.”
11.7 Leonard Cohen dies
11.6 Matthew Dowd, ABC: I think she’s got about a 95 chance to win this election, and I think she’s going to have a higher margin than Barack Obama did in 2012. Higher margin. She’s going to win by more than 5 million votes. She’s going to win a higher percentage. And interestingly she’s going to have a more diverse coalition than Barack Obama even did when you take the final vote into consideration. Every piece of data points in that direction.”
11.4 Elon Musk, like many in Silicon Valley, has also become obsessed with the question of what will happen when artificial intelligence and advanced robotics combine to take human jobs. “People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things,” Musk told CNBC in an interview published Friday. But millions of people will also be out of work, made obsolete by robots that can do the same jobs at a lower labor cost. The solution, Musk muses, will be for the government to provide a universal basic income to everyone in the country, establishing a baseline wage as technology displaces human workers. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk told CNBC. “Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen.”
11.4 Charles Krauthammer in the Post: We are entering a period of unprecedented threat to the international order that has prevailed under American leadership since 1945. After eight years of President Obama’s retreat, the three major revisionist powers — Russia, China and Iran — see their chance to achieve regional dominance and diminish, if not expel, U.S. influence. At a time of such tectonic instability, even the most experienced head of state requires wisdom and delicacy to maintain equilibrium. Trump has neither. His joining of supreme ignorance to supreme arrogance, combined with a pathological sensitivity to any perceived slight, is a standing invitation to calamitous miscalculation. Two generations of Americans have grown up feeling that international stability is as natural as the air we breathe. It’s not. It depends on continual, calibrated tending. It depends on the delicate balancing of alliances and the careful signaling of enemies. It depends on avoiding self-inflicted trade wars and on recognizing the value of allies like Germany, Japan and South Korea as cornerstones of our own security rather than satrapies who are here to dispatch tribute to their imperial master in Washington. It took seven decades to build this open, free international order. It could be brought down in a single presidential term. That would be a high price to pay for the catharsis of kicking over a table.”
11.4 Two former allies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were convicted on Friday for their roles in the “Bridgegate” lane closure scandal,
11.3 Chicago Cubs defeat Cleveland Indians 8-7 in extra innings to win their first World Series since 1908
11.3 Britain’s plan for getting out of the European Union was thrown into doubt Thursday as a senior court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May will need to get Parliament’s approval before she acts.
11.1 The Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Pennsylvania
To Pixar and Beyond, the memoir by Pixar’s CFO Lawrence Levy that I worked on last (as Lawrence’s coach), has debuted to strong reviews. The New York Times said: “Mr. Levy’s ability to remain calm and clear-eyed in the face of singular personalities and business challenges translates into a crisp, even elegant, narrative. When tackling complex or controversial topics, he manages to illuminate the core concepts without oversimplification. In Mr. Levy’s hands, the enigmatic and sometimes ruthless Mr. Jobs emerges as a surprisingly sympathetic character, even as the deep tensions with Pixar’s staff are explored.” Fortune said: “This delightful book is about finance, creative genius, workplace harmony, and luck. (Levy never does explain exactly why Jobs chose him to be Pixar’s CFO.) That’s a lot for one volume by a first-time author with a legal and financial background covering exceedingly well-trod material. At the very end, Levy’s book takes a totally unexpected turn toward being about life itself, and I won’t spoil the ending for you. Life obviously is about more than business, but few books discuss both so well.” I really enjoyed working with Lawrence; his desire to excel made him an idea partner, and I’m happy to say the feelings were reciprocated. “Jamie’s unrelenting critical and heartfelt concern for every part of the book made for a potent if not humbling source of guidance,” he wrote in his acknowledgements. Thanks, Lawrence. Onward and upward!
10.30 Bought a Subaru Forrester
10.29 Interview by Mark Moskowitz for documentary on Lary and Theresa
10.29 Washington Post: “Senior Justice Department officials warned the FBI that Director James B. Comey’s decision to notify Congress about renewing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was not consistent with long-standing practices of the department, according to officials familiar with the discussions. The bureau told Justice Department officials that Comey intended to inform lawmakers of newly discovered emails. These officials told the FBI the department’s position “that we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” said one Justice Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the high-level conversations. “Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership,” the official said. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.”’
10.27 Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: “Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager. She has a kind of genius for assembling random words into very long sentences, which she wields against journalists’ questions the way a Jedi knight uses a light saber to deflect incoming fire. Somehow she is serenely unfazed by direct contradiction. After the first debate, she said that Trump had displayed the “presidential virtue” of restraint by not mentioning Bill Clinton’s affairs. But when Trump brought Clinton’s accusers to the second debate, well, she said that was presidential, too.”
10.27 After Tammy Duckworth said that her family had served in uniform dating back to the Revolution, Sen. Mark Kirk replied “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.Duckworth’s mother, Lamai, is Thai, but her late father, Franklin, was a Marine veteran whose family roots in this country trace to before the American Revolution.
10.26 Maggi Peyton dies at 82. Harold Holzer: “Maggi Peyton, for more than 40 years the very model of the quintessential and indispensable behind-the-scenes New York City political aide, died at her Manhattan home on Wednesday, after a long illness. She was 82 years old. One of the closest of all the campaign staffers who helped advance the political fortunes (and manage the dispiriting defeats) of the late feminist icon Bella Abzug through many hard-fought state, city, and local election campaigns in the 1970s, Ms. Peyton. . . a onetime ballet dancer and founding member of the Manhattan Women’s Political Caucus. . . was famously tight-lipped about her bosses, politically sophisticated, intensely loyal, unflappably calm, and a brilliant vote counter in tight elections.”
10.26 The Washington Post: “Trump allies are actively laying plans to punish the GOP leadership for failing to fully embrace Trumpism — and, crucially, to keep Trumpism’s legacy very much alive as a malevolent and disruptive political force inside the Republican Party. The Times notes that Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon is intent on forcing out House Speaker Paul Ryan, while other leading congressional supporters of Trump are warning the GOP leadership not to dare moderate on immigration, which could stir the great Trumpian masses to rise up in rage. In other words, the battle lines will roughly divide between GOP leaders, party strategists, and establishment figures who are urging one set of lessons to be drawn from the defeat (that the party needs to make peace with cultural and demographic change), and Trump supporters who are urging that a very different set of lessons be drawn (that the party must embrace Trump’s species of ethno-nationalism and xenophobic, America First populism). As one congressional expert puts it: “I expect civil war within the GOP after November 8th, as party elites inside and outside of Congress jockey to assign blame and claim the GOP mantle going forward.”
10.26 Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon, by Peter Ames Carlin
10.25 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “Take the baby boomers. Please.The idealists of the 1960s have come a long way from Woodstock. After a quarter- century of mismanaging the country, they have produced Donald Trump, who with his narcissistic and uncompromising style is a bright orange symbol of what went wrong with the massive generation. And polls show that the boomers are the biggest source of support for Trump.Among voters between age 50 and 64, Trump leads Hillary Clinton by three points in Post-ABC News polling and by a point in NBC-Wall Street Journal polling, equal to the older, smaller Silent Generation’s support of the Republican nominee in the latter poll. The generational support for Trump’s burn-it-all-down campaign is the latest reminder of why the baby boomers are in the running to be remembered as the Worst Generation. But, if I may claim a rare moment of generational pride, there is good news in the polling, too. Generation X — my much-maligned generation — has turned emphatically against Trump. The NBC poll shows Clinton leading by 22 points among those between 35 and 49 — a more lopsided rejection of Trump than even the millennials mustered. This raises hope after the debacle of boomer governance. “It’s really the boomers that are driving the hyperpartisanship and polarization and gridlock,” says David Rosen, a consultant specializing in generational effects in politics. Beginning with the boomer-led 1994 Republican Revolution, “that’s where you see the origin of the insane politics that we have right now. Trump is in some ways taking that style to its most absurd and ridiculous extremes.”
10.22 The Chicago Cubs beat the Dodgers 5-0, and reach World Series for first time since 1945
10.21 In the Washington Post, Trump says “What a waste of time if we don’t pull this off. You know, these guys have said: ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. There’s never been a movement like this in the history of this country.’ I say, it matters to me if we win or lose. So I’ll have over $100 million of my own money in this campaign. So, if I lose,if I lose, I will consider this —”
10.20 Donald Trump at the Al Smith Dinner: “I must say the media is more biased than ever before. Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves her. My wife Melania gives the same speech and people get on her case,” he said.
10.20 Hillary Clinton at The Al Smith Dinner: “People look at the Statue of Liberty, and they see a proud history of a nation of immigrants — a beacon of hope for people around the world. Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4. Maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
10.19 Atlas Obscura: “Earlier this October, at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, London paid its rent to the Queen. The ceremony proceeded much as it had for the past eight centuries. The city handed over a knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails to Barbara Janet Fontaine, the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial position in England. The job was created in the 12th century to keep track of all that was owed to the crown. In this case, the Remembrancer has presided over the rent owed on two pieces of property for a very long time—since 1235 in one case, and at least 1211 in the other. Every year, in this Ceremony of Quit Rents, the crown extracts its price from the city for a forge and a piece of moorland. No one knows exactly where these two pieces of land are located anymore, but for hundreds of years the city has been paying rent on them. The rate, however, has not changed—the same objects have been presented for hundreds of years.”
10.19 Wajahat Ali: “Are you not entertained? Is this is not why we’re here? After watching the final presidential debate, and reminiscing about this absolutely absurd and historic election, I’m reminded of the poem “Auto Wreck,” by Karl Shapiro, which I read in elementary school. “The traffic moves around with care, But we remain, touching a wound/That opens to our richest horror.” This election cycle has opened up a uniquely American Pandora’s box of horrors and delights. I am forever changed. How can I ever go back to serious, boring talk about policies that could affect the lives of millions? How can I sit through sober conversations about foreign policy and individual liberties? Who needs elitist jabberwocky, when you’ve just fed me glorious sex talk, bad hombres, Alicia Machado, “Celebrity Apprentice,” Howard Stern, bragging about anatomical size, Mexicans as “rapists,” white supremacists, anti-Semitic trolling, threats against journalists, encouraging foreign governments to hack our emails, reckless allegations of election rigging, threats to jail presidential candidates, “Access Hollywood” videos, Khizr Khan, the mockery of Gold Star mothers, Gennifer Flowers, Ben Carson’s “fruit salad of their lives,” and the use and abuse of Pepe the Frog as a symbol to promote a nativist, racist agenda? Sensationalism has replaced sobriety. Conspiracy theories and baseless allegations have replaced facts. Diplomacy and tact are mocked, and victories are measured not by intelligent policy positions but by snarky tweets and rhetorical low blows. This is the election America deserves, not the one it needs. It encapsulates and unleashes our collective id on the world.”
10.19 10.19 Facial recognition software used by law enforcement agencies across the country has captured information on more than 117 million Americans, according to a report that calls for greater oversight and reviews for possible racial bias. The report, “The Perpetual Line-up,” found that roughly half of all US adults are included in facial recognition databases and 16 states allowed law enforcement officials to run searches against driver’s license photo databases without warrants — a “highly problematic” finding, according to the report released Tuesday by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology.
10.18 Stuart Rotherberg in the Washington Post: The newest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows Trump doing worse against Clinton than Mitt Romney did against President Obama with almost every demographic group, including men, women, whites, Latinos, Republicans, voters with household incomes of more than $100,000 per year, voters with a college degree, voters with a postgraduate degree and voters 65 and older. African Americans, white men without a college degree and younger voters are among the few groups with which Clinton is underperforming compared with Obama. But that should not give much comfort to Trump, who is drawing only 9 percent of African Americans, compared with the 6 percent that Romney drew against the first African American president. It would be a mistake to call Trump’s current path to an electoral-college victory narrow. It is nonexistent. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, once part of the Trump scenario, have never been “in play,” and he is not competitive in states Obama won only narrowly in 2012, such as Virginia and Colorado. Trump is more likely to lose North Carolina than win it, which would put him under 200 electoral votes. Frankly, the writing has been on the wall for months about this race. You simply needed to look at the candidates, their campaign teams, the map and the voters.”
10.17 Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: “It is a further indication (as if we needed it) that Trump has no commitment to the American political system. He is perfectly willing to delegitimize democratic institutions as a campaign tactic, squandering a civic inheritance he does not value. Even before his current troubles, he said that an electoral loss would be prima facie evidence of fraud and encouraged supporters to monitor majority-black polling stations in Pennsylvania. Now he is entering uncharted territory. By preemptively questioning the legitimacy of his forthcoming shellacking, Trump is stepping outside the four corners of the constitutional order, on the model of autocratic strongmen he has publicly admired.”
10.16 Giants beat Ravens 27-23, as Odell Beckham Jr. scores two touchdowns and accumulates 222 yards
10.15 New Disunion anthology published.
10.14 Toronto Sun: Designated by Cleveland manager Terry Francona as the Tribe’s Game 2 starter, Trevor Bauer managed to cut himself badly enough on the pinky finger of his pitching hand to require stitches and has been pushed back at least until Game 3 on Monday in Toronto. Francona chose to address the crisis with humour. “I think we’ve all, probably everybody in here, have had, at some point or other, a drone-related problem,” said Francona during his press briefing Friday before Game 1. “I think he said it was routine maintenance. And, again, I have no idea what that is.”
10.14 Interview with Steve Schmidt by Andrew Prokop of Vox:
Prokop Stepping back a bit from the swirl of allegations about Trump’s personal behavior in the news, what’s your big-picture view of the state of the Republican Party right now, and our politics in general?
Steve Schmidt One of John McCain’s famous quotes was quoting Chairman Mao: “It’s always darkest before it’s completely black.” The Trump campaign is over — Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president. The question that remains here, the open question, is the degree of the collateral damage, right? The Republicans are going to lose the US Senate. The question is how many seats can they lose in the House. It is possible but not probable yet that they lose the House majority. So the question is, how far below 40 percent is Trump in the popular vote? Then there’s a long-term implication for the civic life of the country, the vandalism being done, which will culminate for the first time in American history with his refusal to make an ordinary concession where he grants to the winner legitimacy by recognizing the legitimacy of the election. I think it’s very clear he’s going to go out saying it’s a rigged system. I think what you’re gonna see is Steve Bannon monetizing 30 percent of the electorate into a UKIP-style movement and a billion-dollar media business. And I think the Republican Party has an outstanding chance of fracturing. There will be the alt-right party; then there will be a center-right conservative party that has an opportunity to reach out, repair damage, and rebuild the brand over time. America, ideologically right now, is a centrist country — it used to be a center-right country — but it’s by no means a Bernie Sanders country. Not even close. The market will demand a center-right party. The last implication for it behaviorally is it exposes at such a massive scale and at such magnitude the hypocrisy of the Tony Perkinses and the Jerry Falwell Jrs. and the Pat Robertsons. These people are literally the modern-day Pharisees, they are the money changers in the temple, and they will forever be destroyed from a credibility perspective. There are millions of decent, faithful, committed evangelicals in this country who have every right to participate in the political process. But this country doesn’t ever need to hear a lecture from any one of these people [Perkins, Falwell, etc.] again on a values issue, or their denigration of good and decent gay people in this country.
Andrew ProkopSteve Schmidt As a political device, the “war on women” trope was effective. Republicans had an unfortunate series of candidates who were able to caricature the party. But the defense of Trump, the cowardice of so many Republican elected officials who won’t confront this — what it exposes is political cowardice on a massive level. It exposes a political class in the Republican Party that simply is unfit to lead the country. As a conservative Republican, I find anathematic the regulatory and tax policies of liberal Democrats. But there’s no question that Republicans — as an institution and what we’re led by — are unfit to run the country, or to govern the country. You have a massive reckoning coming due that will play out over years on the serially putting party above country. We’ve reached the moment in time that George Washington warned about in his farewell address with the danger of factions. You have basically warring tribes that subordinate the national interest to their tribal interest. There’s no higher value obviously for most — though not all — Republican elected officials than maintaining fidelity to Donald Trump. What’s extraordinary about that is that in America, we don’t take an oath to a strongman leader; we take it to the Constitution of the United States. And Donald Trump is obviously manifestly unfit in every conceivable way to occupy the office of the American head of state.
Andrew Prokop What do you think of this new Trump campaign strategy, reportedly being pushed by Steve Bannon and perhaps Roger Stone, to focus on attacking Bill Clinton for alleged sexual misconduct? Does this line of attack have a chance of actually working, or is it more aimed at satisfying, say, the future audience of the media company Trump is rumored to want to start if he loses?
Steve Schmidt Trump’s surrounded by people who have made a living in the Clinton conspiracy business. What’s the point they’re trying to make? That there’s a double standard in the media about how he’s been covered? There is! But this isn’t a strategy for winning a presidential election. This is a strategy born from the fevered imaginations of people who are living in an alternate reality universe. And it won’t be effective. I made this point the other day on MSNBC, and it’s true. In World War II the Japanese adopted a new tactic, kamikaze missions, manned aircraft, fully fueled missions, to fly into American ships. Twenty percent of the kamikaze missions were effective. They hit their targets, they caused death, they were instruments of terror. It was a tactic born from desperation. But it didn’t change the war’s outcome. Yet as the war neared its end, the desperation and the attacks increased. And that’s what’s happening as this race comes to an end.
Andrew Prokop So what would your advice be for Republican candidates on the ballot this year — let’s say for someone who’s supported Trump so far but hasn’t been all that enthusiastic. Is it too late to unendorse?
Steve Schmidt Winston Churchill was a keen observer of character and he said, Americans will always do the right thing, but they’ll wait till the last possible second to do it. And there’s something to that in our national character. Obviously the decision to jump off the Trump train will have been a late one, and it will be criticized by some people. They’ll say, “What was the last straw that broke the camel’s back?” I don’t know if there’s an answer for that. But people who are straddling the line with absurd propositions, like, “I’m voting for him but I don’t endorse him,” it’s a chickenshit position.
Andrew Prokop From a political perspective, isn’t there a counterargument that Republican officials going too openly against Trump would depress base turnout and lead to a bigger loss, handing over more seats to the Democrats?
Steve Schmidt Candidates for federal office have duties and obligations toward the national interest that supersede tactical calculations. And the question is this — I suppose if you believe that Donald Trump has demonstrated fitness to sit atop the national command authority as commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military and its most sophisticated nuclear arsenal, then you should continue to endorse Donald Trump. But for sure, when the election’s over, you’re locked into that position for all time. And the question is, if we haven’t hit the line where you can say, “I can’t support the nominee of the party” — then where is the line?”
10.14 Daniel Halper in the New York Post: “Donald Trump’s campaign says a British man is countering claims that the GOP presidential nominee groped a woman on a cross-country flight more than three decades ago. The man says he was sitting across from the accuser and contacted the Trump campaign because he was incensed by her account — which is at odds with what he witnessed. “I have only met this accuser once and frankly cannot imagine why she is seeking to make out that Trump made sexual advances on her. Not only did he not do so (and I was present at all times) but it was she that was the one being flirtatious,” Anthony Gilberthorpe said in a note provided to The Post by the Trump campaign. Gilberthorpe made headlines in 2014, when he went public with a claim that as a 17-year-old he procured boys (some who “could have been” underage”) for sex parties with high-ranking British politicians. Gilberthorpe has no evidence to back up his claim — just his self-described excellent memory.”
10.13 Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature
10.13 Michelle Obama: “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable, and it doesn’t matter what party you belong to. No woman deserves to be treated this way — none of us deserves this kind of abuse. I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” the first lady told several hundred voters at a university here. I can’t stop thinking about this — it has shaken me to my core.”
10.13 The United States is no longer a majority white, Christian country, and that is already beginning to have profound social and political implications. At 45 percent of the population, white Christians are a shrinking demographic—and the backlash from many members of the group against the increasing diversification of America has been swift and bitter. “People fight like that when they are losing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of the country that they understand and love,” says Robert P. Jones, the author of The End of White Christian America, in this animated interview. “How do they reengage in public life when they can’t be the majority?”
10.12 Barack Obama in Wired: the truth is, if you had to choose any time in the course of human history to be alive, you’d choose this one. Right here in America, right now.
10.7 On a video taped in 2005, Donald Trump is recorded saying: ““I moved on her [Nancy O’Dell} and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. And then all of a sudden I see her, she’s not got the big phony tits and everything. Whoa, I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her . . . You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything . . . Grab them by the pussy.”
10.6 Hurricane Matthew skims Florida
10.5 Tom Topoussis, Maxwell, Pam Widener
10.5 Mets eliminated by Giants in one game playoff, despite brilliant effort by Noah Syndegaard
10.2 Vin Scully signs off: “Romo out of the stretch, and the 2-2 pitch on the way. Sergio deals a slider hit in the air to left center, coming over is Pagan — he puts it away!
And the Giants are the wild-card team. The city is going wild, appropriately enough, and they are heading for New York. No runs, one hit for the Dodgers, who managed to leave four men on base because they were the only four they got on base. The Giants in the Western division are 45-31, the Dodgers are 43-33, so inside the division, they certainly were the better team. That was awfully nice. The umpire just stood up and said goodbye, as I am saying goodbye. Seven runs, 16 hits for the winning Giants, 1-4-1 for the Dodgers. The winner, Matt Moore, the loser, Kenta Maeda. I have said enough for a lifetime, and for the last time, I wish you all a very pleasant good afternoon.”
10.1 The New York Times: Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show. The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.
From Atlas Obscura, the Ian Fleming Literary Map, an essential guide to the locations of every assignation and allegation, as well as other information, from Fleming’s fourteen James Bond novels.
7.21 Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech at the RNC: ““I alone can fix it.”
7.21 Billionaire tech mogul Peter Thiel won loud applause at the GOP convention: “Every American has a unique identity, I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But, most of all, I am proud to be an American.”
7.21 Roger Ailes resigns from Fox News
7.21 John Podhoretz in the NY Post: “Ted Cruz intended to offer his challenge subtly — through a text that did not explicitly endorse Trump and instead called for “leaders who stand for principle. Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody.”
Subtle it may have been, but not subtle enough to evade the rage of the Trump campaign. Evidence suggests the Trump camp had decided it was going to punish Cruz for this impertinence.
After Cruz spoke those sentences, the New York delegation began to yell at Cruz from the floor — demanding an explicit endorsement of the candidate. It is highly unlikely such a thing happened without direction from the Trump campaign.And when Cruz continued by telling the audience to “vote your conscience [and] vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution,” the hall erupted in catcalls — something I don’t ever remember happening at any nominating convention.”
7.20 Thomas Friedman in the Times: “Anyone who has been following Turkey closely knows that Erdogan has been mounting a silent, drip-by-drip coup of his own against Turkish democracy for years — jailing reporters, hounding rivals with giant tax bills, reviving an internal war against Turkish Kurds to stoke nationalist passions to propel his efforts to grab more powers — and by generally making himself into a modern-day sultan for life. I’m glad the coup failed, especially the way it did — with many secular Turks who actually opposed Erdogan’s autocratic rule, and had been abused by it, nevertheless coming out against the plotters on the principle that Turkish democracy must be upheld. That was a truly impressive act of collective wisdom and a display of democratic sensibilities. The maturity of the Turkish people resulted in Erdogan’s getting what golfers call a mulligan, or a do-over, to demonstrate that he is committed to the universal precepts of democracy. Will he? Or will Erdogan go right back to his preferred means of staying in power: dividing Turks into his supporters and enemies of the state, weaving conspiracy theories and using the failed coup as a license for a witch hunt, not only for plotters but for anyone who has dared to cross his path?
7.20 David Brooks in the Times: “Occasionally Trump will attempt a sentence longer than eight words, but no matter what subject he starts the sentence with, by the end he has been pulled over to the subject of himself. Here’s an example from the Mike Pence announcement speech: “So one of the primary reasons I chose Mike was I looked at Indiana, and I won Indiana big.” There’s sort of a gravitational narcissistic pull that takes command whenever he attempts to utter a compound thought.
720 T.A. Frank in VF.com That Melania Trump’s big night turned into another example of the Trump campaign’s inability to hold onto on a positive news cycle seems sadder than most of the blunders that have plagued the billionaire’s ramshackle operation. Melania has openly, repeatedly said this is not a role she wanted, to stand in front of a stadium and the world talking about her private life. At times, that showed during her speech, before the controversy over her words broke out. When she stumbled over the teleprompter, for example, or when when the shade of recognition that she had mispronounced a word crept over her face, her eyes would widen from their typical smolder into a look of terror—a deer caught in front of a million headlines coming at her at full speed.”
7.20 Ben Carson at the RNC: “Now, one of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors was Saul Alinsky, and her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone she greatly admired. And let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky. So he wrote a book called Rules for Radicals. It acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. Now think about that. This is our nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator; a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are one nation under God. This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?”
7.19 Yasmin Yonis: “I’m not surprised Melanie plagiarized from Michelle. White women have spent centuries stealing black women’s genius, labor, babies, bodies.”
7.19 In “an impressive feat of political gymnastics”, Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort takes on the plagiarism flap by saying, “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she tries, seeks out to demean her and take her down.”
How Manafort turned Melania Trump’s words, borrowed from Michelle Obama in front of tens of millions of people, into a problem for Hillary Clinton, is an impressive feat of political gymnastics.
7.19 Speaking on the opening night of the Republican convention, Melania Trump plagiarism Michelle Obama
7.14 In France, a tractor trailer plowed into a large crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on Bastille Day Thursday, killing at least 60.
7.14 Trump selects Indiana’s Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.
7.14 Nicholas Kristoff in the Times: “An even bigger civil rights outrage in America than abuses by some police officers may be an education system that routinely sends the neediest black students to underfunded, third-rate schools, while directing bountiful resources to affluent white schools.’’
7.13 Justice Ruth Ginsburg: “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
7.13 Trump on Ginsburg: “Her mind is shot.’’
7.12 George W. Bush, at memorial for slain Dallas police officers: “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions, and this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.”
7.12 Bush sways during Battle Hymn of the Republic
7.12 President Obama at memorial service: “We ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves. As a society, we choose to under-invest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs. We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book. And then we tell the police, “You’re a social worker; you’re the parent; you’re the teacher; you’re the drug counselor.” We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs and do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience; don’t make a mistake that might disturb our own peace of mind. And then we feign surprise when periodically the tensions boil over. We know those things to be true. They’ve been true for a long time. We know it. Police, you know it. Protesters, you know it. You know how dangerous some of the communities where these police officers serve are. And you pretend as if there’s no context. These things we know to be true. And if we cannot even talk about these things, if we cannot talk honestly and openly, not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with those who look different than us or bring a different perspective, then we will never break this dangerous cycle. In the end, it’s not about finding policies that work. It’s about forging consensus and fighting cynicism and finding the will to make change.
7.12 In the UK, David Cameron leaving as PM: “I have addressed 5,500 questions from this despatch box; I’ll leave it to others to work out how many I’ve answered.” Theresa May in. Boris Johnson named foreign minister
7.12 Jeb Bush on Morning Joe: “Conservatism is temporarily dead.”
7.12 Dallas police chief David Brown: “Every societal failure, we put it on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas we have a loose dog problem. Let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, give it to the cops. 70 percent of the African-American community is being raised by single women, let’s give it to the cops to solve as well. That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems. I just ask other parts of our democracy along with the free press to help us.’’
7.12 Richard Cohen in the Washington Post: “This is madness. Hillary Clinton may have lied about her emails, but Donald Trump lies about everything . Still, for the Justice Department to upend a presidential campaign over a matter as trivial as a violation of email policy approaches an anticipatory coup. If there were lies deserving of punishment, let the voters mete it out.
7.11 Washington Post: Young Americans, particularly millennials (ages 18 to 35), have lost their zest for buying and driving cars . . . Just recently, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published figures indicating that the number of licensed drivers 16 or younger in 2014 had dropped 37 percent since 2009 and, at 1.08 million, was “the lowest number since the 1960s.”
7.10 Protestor in Baton Rouge
7.10 Jabari Parker, NBA player, on Twitter, answering Ex-Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, who said “Obama, Watch Out’’: ‘You Ain’t Landing a Single Finger on Obama. No body is. Chicago and myself going to make sure of that,”
7.9 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “It says a lot about our relationship with Hillary Clinton that she seems well on her way to becoming Madam President because she’s not getting indicted. If she were still at the State Department, she could be getting fired for being, as the F.B.I. director told Congress, “extremely careless” with top ¬secret information. Instead, she’s on a glide path to a big promotion. And that’s the corkscrew way things go with the Clintons, who are staying true to their reputation as the Tom and Daisy Buchanan of American politics. Their vast carelessness drags down everyone around them, but they persevere, and even thrive….. the email transgression is not a one off. It’s part of a long pattern of ethical slipping and sliding, obsessive secrecy and paranoia, and collateral damage. Comey’s verdict that Hillary was “negligent” was met with sighs rather than shock. We know who Hillary and Bill are now. We’ve been held hostage to their predilections and braided intrigues for a long time. We’re resigned to the Clintons focusing on their viability and disregarding the consequences of their heedless actions on others. They’re always offering a Faustian deal. This year’s election bargain: Put up with our iniquities or get Trump’s short fingers on the nuclear button.’’
7.8 Henry Porter on VF.com: “The similarities between the invasion of Iraq and the Brexit vote are rather striking. First, the arrogance of Britain’s decision to storm Baghdad over the protestations of leaders in France and Germany, among other nations, is in line with some 40 years of uncooperative and aloof dealings with the country’s European partners. Second, just as Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw failed to plan for the peace in Iraq, the Cameron government, which included ministers who campaigned to leave as well as remain, failed to devise a strategy for Britain’s departure from Europe. As I keep repeating with increasing astonishment, no one on either side of the debate thought to even sketch a post-conflict road map.’’
7.8 Bob Dylan at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium
7.7 “ ‘You shouldn’t have taken it down,’ ” Mr. Trump told a campaign worker. “I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it. That’s just a star.”
7.7 After police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, five police officers in Dallas who were protecting a protest march were shot and killed by a sniper. He late was killed by bomb-bearing police robot.
7.5 FBI Director James Comey: Mrs. Clinton and her team “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
4.30 Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Association dinner: “The republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan. And there is one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable and that’s closing Guantanamo because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground. Alright, that is probably enough. I mean I’ve got more material. No, no, no. I don’t want to spend too much time on The Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint. Because I think we can all agree that from the start he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. Ha. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we are praying that Cleveland makes it through July.”
4.30 George Will in the Washington Post: “Donald Trump’s damage to the Republican Party, although already extensive, has barely begun. Republican quislingswill multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history. These collaborationists will render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction. . . .Trump would be the most unpopular nominee ever, unable to even come close to Mitt Romney’s insufficient support among women, minorities and young people. In losing disastrously, Trump probably would create down-ballot carnage sufficient to end even Republican control of the House. . . .Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life. Second, conservatives can try to save from the anti-Trump undertow as many senators,representatives, governors and state legislators as possible.”
4.27 Ted Cruz selected Carly Fiorina as his running mate. I wondered why the media doesn’t ask our dog Wendy who her running mate is going to be, because she and Cruz have exactly the same chance of winning
4.27 John Boehner called Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.” He added: “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” Boehner said he would not vote for Cruz, even if he somehow wins the nomination, but would back frontrunner Donald Trump, a frequent golf partner and tanning “texting buddy.” Boehner called Bernie Sanders “the most honest politician in the race.” He mocked Hillary Clinton—saying “Oh I’m a woman, vote for me”—echoing Trump’s recent “woman card” comments, while saying he finds her to be “very accomplished and smart.” Boehner also summed up his record in Congress: “I think my proudest accomplishment is walking out of there the same jackass I was 25 years before.”
4.26 Trump says “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she would get 5 percent of the vote.” Replies Clinton, “Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”
4.21 Prince dies at 57.
4.19 Trump romps in New York and four other states; Hillary takes four of five.
4.16 HBO TV movie “Conformation” about the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill confrontation was pretty good, but it didn’t beat “Gag Rule”, the article by Lynda Thomas that we ran in Spy.
4.15 Timothy Egan in the Times on “the latest institution-shifting document from Pope Francis, “Amoris Laetitia” — the Joy of Love. The title sets the tone for the continuation of a quiet revolution. Note that it’s not called the Job of Love, the Duty of Love or the Unbearable Burden of Love. Instead, the pope implies that there’s considerable fun to be had in human relationships. You can even find in its 256 pages a mention of the “erotic dimension” of love and “the stirring of desire.” Yes, sex. The pope approves of it, in many forms. . . .[T]he document signals the end for one particular kind of medieval millstone — Catholic guilt, especially in regard to sex. . . .The new teachings, from a self-professed less-judgmental church, go to the everyday lives of people who don’t believe that they should be constantly reminded of their inadequacies. By emphasizing the inclusive and the positive, the church under Francis strives to be more “modern family” than “monastic denial,” and will even let some things go. “No one can be condemned forever,” says the pope, which seems to rule out that burn-in-hell-for-eternity thing. He offers tips, as well, for how to keep “the passion” alive. It wasn’t so long ago that hearing the word “erotic” from a man who’s taken a vow of chastity was blush-worthy. Catholic doctrine, as laid out in spiritual statutes governing human conduct, featured an exhaustive list of enumerated offenses. Sex was dirty. Sex was shameful. Sex was unnatural. Thinking about it was wrong. Premeditation itself was a sin, and so was flirting. Sex had one purpose: procreation, the joyless act of breeding. “The sixth commandment forbids all impurity and immodesty in words, looks and actions,” was admonition No. 256 in the Baltimore Catechism, the standard text used to teach the faith from 1885 to the late 1960s. No. 257 then warned about the dangers of “sinful curiosity, bad companions, drinking, immodest dress and indecent books, plays and motion pictures.” If that sounds now like the dynamics of a good dinner party, you can also see this pope joining the fun at the table. I can’t tell you how many
Catholics I know who are trying to work through the consequences of those sexual strictures. They wonder if there are still people doing time in purgatory because of the misdemeanor sins of masturbation or premarital sex. Life was all don’ts and dark thoughts. As Jack Donaghy, the character played by Alec Baldwin in “30 Rock,” explained: “Whether things are good or bad, or you’re simply eating tacos in the park, there is always the crushing guilt.” The old message was: If you break the rules, you’re condemned. Shame, shame, shame. The new message is: Welcome, for forgiveness is at the heart of this faith. Sex “is a marvelous gift from God,” Francis wrote. “The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy.” Those living less than ideal marital unions are no longer vilified as sinners to be scorned. “Irregular unions” is the term coined by Pope Francis. “Hence it can no longer be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situations are living in a state of mortal sin,” he wrote. You can read that as a papal pardon of sorts.”