On Good Friday, we closed the trip in Lisbon, or as we insiders like to refer to it, Lisboa (to find out why, we would have had to stay another day.) At the Praca do Comercio, facing wide, impressive Tagus, this magnificent arch dominates a huge plaza, which is anchored by this statue of King Jose I. This was the site of the Royal Palace until the Great Earthquake (and subsequent tsunami) of 1755 Lisbon earthquake. After the earthquake, the square was completely remodeled as part of the rebuilding of the Pombaline Downtown, ordered by Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal, who was the Minister of the Kingdom of Portugal from 1750 to 1777, during the reign of Dom José I, the dude on the horse. Pombal is one of the figures depicted on the arch. We took a trolley tour, saw more churches and statues.
4, we went to southern Atlantic Coast, where we saw the perfectly perfect coast of Albufeira, but which was altogether too orderly and civilized in comparison to the rocky, wild Praia De Gale, which was about ten miles away. On close inspection, all those rocks reveal themselves to be composed of thousands of shells and fossils. Very cool.
The beautiful Atlantic Coast town of Cascais was just lovely. We saw the bathers and fishing fleet along the quay; enjoyed the disorienting tile pattern on the sidewalk; say a replica of the Schtandart, an early 18th century Russian frigate; and a had an excellent lunch outdoors on the quay at a restaurant called Baia do Peixe. For some reason, I photographed the olives, when it was the oysters that were spectacular. Somehow, on our way, instead of going to Torres Verdes, we went back to Sintra; and then, instead of utilizing Portugal’s fine modern highways to get back to the hotel, we followed a GPS that took us through miles and miles of Portugal’s hills and valleys. Snacks and gin in the bar when we got back.
After visiting the Quinta da Regalaira, we then took on another enormous estate, the the amazing Pena Palace, the brainstorm of the amazingly accomplished King Ferdinand II (1816-1885), who along with being king,was an artist, poet, landscape architect, father of eleven, as well as nephew of King Leopold I of Belgium, and thus a first cousin to Leopold II of Belgium and Empress Carlota of Mexico, as well as Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Albert. The place is famous for its use of color and for its greenery. Not surprisingly, he had a great trophy room, dining room, and a place where he kept his paintings of “nymphs and satires.” Later we saw, at a distance, the ruined battlements of an eighth century Moorish castle; and a small house that for a couple years was the home of Hans Christian Andersen, who called Sintra a paradise. Hard to argue his point. On the way back to Dolce, we had trouble finding a restaurant, but we did stumble on the Palacio of Mafra, a Baroque Franciscan monastery built in 1755, and today, perfectly situated for drive-by tourism. Some shack
Portugal, Day Two: Sintra. Beautiful, charming, enchanting, Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, and a literary heritage that has made a important site in Portuguese culture. Touring the town via Tuk Tuk (a three-wheeled golf cart, complete with guide), we visited: Quinta da Regaleira, a
beautiful palace full of lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, and fountains. Said to be an example of “exuberant architecture” (now that’s a euphemism for miscellaneous), the place originally belonged to the Viscountess of Regaleira, the head of a family of wealthy merchants from Porto. In 1892, it was sold to in 1892 to Carvalho Monteiro (hence the joint’s nickname, “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire”), who enlisted Italian architect and set designer Luigi Manini to remake the place. Wild, whimsical, exuberant, fun!
After bolting several scores of kilometers in the wrong direction, Jamie and Ginny (Jack Lemmon, Sandy Dennis) begin a long, bickery, endlessly comic trek over the many hills and through the valleys of western Portugal. Proficient non-speakers of Portuguese, we somehow blunder their way to Dolce, their hotel in Torres Vedras, which turns out to be pretty damn dolce. Torres Vedras, for the uninitiated, are the Twin Cities of Portugal. Why, I cannot say. Wellington set his lines there in the Peninsular campaign. Linhas, in the vernacular. In the evening, we dined at the hotel. I had a drink made with a Portuguese gin and a slice of pear. Lighter and weeter than a gin and tonic. I liked it.
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.”
4.7 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
4.6 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.”
4.5 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
2.12 Stephen Miller on “Face the Nation”: “To say we’re in control would be a substantial understatement.”
2.10 Jim Vanderhei and Sara Fischer in Axios: “Our brains have been literally swamped and reprogrammed. On average, we check our phones 50 times each day — with some studies suggesting it could three times that amount. We spend around 6 hours per day consuming digital media. As a result, the human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since 2000, while the goldfish attention span is nine seconds.”
2.10 Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post: “Good news: In two years, we’ll have a new president. Bad news: If we make it that long. My “good” prediction is based on the Law of the Pendulum. Enough Americans, including most independent voters, will be so ready to shed Donald Trump and his little shop of horrors that the 2018 midterm elections are all but certain to be a landslide — no, make that a mudslide — sweep of the House and Senate. If Republicans took both houses in a groundswell of the people’s rejection of Obamacare, Democrats will take them back in a tsunami of protest. Once ensconced, it would take a Democratic majority approximately 30 seconds to begin impeachment proceedings selecting from an accumulating pile of lies, overreach and just plain sloppiness. That is, assuming Trump hasn’t already been shown the exit.”
2.9 Chris Cilizza in the Post: “Confrontation is what energizes the bases of the two parties. And energizing those bases is what politicians spend most of their time focusing on these days. Unfortunately, the byproduct of all that confrontation is an increasing cynicism and disgust among the large swaths of people who aren’t part of either base. The election of President Trump seems to have proven that those people don’t matter all that much, that the way to win is to relentlessly vilify the other side so that your people are mad enough at the other side to turn out to vote. Rubio is positioning himself as the counterweight to that strategy, betting big on the idea that the Trump era won’t last forever. It’s a noble effort although one with a very uncertain future.
2.9 Federal appeals court eviscerates Trump’s travel order, calling it poorly drafted, overly broad and overreaching. Will he come back to court, or issue tighter, more defensible entrance restrictions for entrance by migrants?
2.9 The Atlantic: “Yesterday, the president of the United States lashed out at Nordstrom on Twitter for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, then moved on to continuing his attacks on the federal judges reviewing his travel ban. Then, this morning, Trump scolded Senator John McCain for describing the recent U.S. raid in Yemen as a “failure.” It all sounds petty, but there are greater implications: Trump’s highly personal and politicized attack on the judiciary is unprecedented even by Andrew Jackson, whose infamous clash with the Supreme Court had constitutional grounds. The attack on McCain frames public review of military action as disloyalty. And Kellyanne Conway took the Nordstrom affair a step further by telling TV viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff”—almost certainly a violation of ethics laws, and a worrying enlistment of White House staff in Trump’s ever-growing web of conflicts of interest.”
2.9 Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told Senator Blumenthal that Trump‘s criticism of the judiciary was “disheartening” and “demoralizing”
2.9 Washington Post: “[Spicer] took an extraordinary position Wednesday, saying anyone who questioned the success of the raid in Yemen that led to the death of a Navy SEAL was doing a disservice to the SEAL’s memory. The target was McCain. Then NBC News tracked down McCain (R-Ariz.) to get his response to Spicer. And it was something. “Many years ago when I was imprisoned in North Vietnam, there was an attempt to rescue the POWs,” McCain began, mentioning details of his biography that everyone knows but McCain included for emphasis. He continued: “Unfortunately, the prison had been evacuated. But the brave men who took on that mission and risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes. Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were held captive. Mr. Spicer should know that story.”
2.9 Snow Day! 10-12 inches.
2.8 Ted Cruz on Fox News: “The Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan. You look at the most racist — you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats.”
2.8 Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank described President Trump as “an asset.” On Wednesday, one of the company’s most highly paid ambassadors, Steph Curry said “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et.’ ”
2.8 Mitch McConnell‘s fateful words: “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
2.6 An attorney for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday that an article falsely alleging that she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.” The suit — filed Monday in New York Supreme Court, a state trial court, in Manhattan — against Mail Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose “significant value” as well as “major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.” The suit said the article had damaged her “unique, once in a lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand.”
2.6 Scott Pelley on CBS News: “Today President Trump told a U.S. military audience there gave been terrorist attacks that no one knows about because the media choose not to report them. It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality. Mr. Trump said this morning that any polls, that show disapproval of his immigration ban are fake. He singled out a federal judge for ridicule after the judge suspended his ban and Mr. Trump said that the ruling now means that anyone can enter the country. The President’s fictitious claims whether imaginary or fabricated are now worrying even his backers, particularly after he insisted that millions of people voted illegally giving Hillary Clinton her popular vote victory. There’s not one state election official—Democrat or Republican—who supports that claim.”
2.6 Sen. Mitch McCOnnell: “I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way that the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does,” he said, adding: “I’m not going to critique the president’s every utterance, but I do think America is exceptional. America is different. We don’t operate in any way the Russians do. I think there’s a clear distinction here that all Americans understand, and no, I would not have characterized it that way.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) weighed in on Twitter: “When has a Democratic political activists been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa? We are not the same as #Putin.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) “Let’s be clear: Has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course,” Sasse said. “Is the U.S. at all like Putin’s regime? Not at all. The U.S. affirms freedom of speech. Putin is no friend of freedom of speech. Putin an enemy of freedom of religion. The U.S. celebrates freedom of religion. Putin is an enemy of the free press. The U.S. celebrates free press. Putin is an enemy of political dissent. The U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places where our ideas are in conflict.
2.5 Before the Super Bowl, Bill O’Reilly interviews President Trump. “I do respect him [Putin]. Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get along with them,” Trump told O’Reilly. O’Reilly pressed on, declaring to the president that “Putin is a killer.” Unfazed, Trump didn’t back away, but rather compared Putin’s reputation for extrajudicial killings with the United States’. “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers,” Trump said. “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
2.5 Behind 28-3, Patriots rally and defeat Falcons 34-28 in first overtime Super Bowl. Tom Brady performed in spectacular fashion. Julius Edeman made an astonishing catch. Lady Gaga excelled at halftime.
2.5 Bernie Sanders on CNN: “This guy is a fraud. This guy ran for president of the United States saying, ‘I, Donald Trump, I’m going to take on Wall Street. These guys are getting away with murder.’ Then suddenly he appoints all these billionaires, his major financial adviser comes from Goldman Sachs, and now he’s going to dismantle legislation that protects consumers.”
2.5 In an interview with President Trump on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly said “[Putin}’s a killer,” O’Reilly. “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump replied. Said Gen. Barry McCaffrey: “One could argue that’s the most anti-american statement ever made by the president of the United States, to confuse American values with Putin, who is running a criminal oligarchy, who kills people abroad and at home, who imprisons journalists and takes away business property, who shares it with his former K.G.B. Agents, who invades and seizes crimea in eastern Ukraine.”
2.5 Donald Trump on Twitter:
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2017
2.4 Melissa McCarthy plays Sean Spicer on SNL
2.4 President Trump’s personal physician recently revealed that the president takes finasteride, a drug used to combat male-pattern baldness. . . .The constellation of potential [side effects] , sometimes referred to as post-finasteride syndrome, may include sexual, physical and psychological changes. Of these, the sexual side effects are perhaps the most extensively reported. In fact, in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration required the manufacturer to warn that the medication may be associated with “libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after discontinuation of the drug.”
2.3 Kellyanne Conway on Chris Matthews: During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.”
“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered,” Conway said.
2.2 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Never mind the utter falsity of the claim that bad people are “pouring in,” or for that matter of the whole premise behind the ban. What we see here is the most powerful man in the world blatantly telegraphing his intention to use national misfortune to grab even more power. And the question becomes, who will stop him?. . . In the end, I fear, it’s going to rest on the people — on whether enough Americans are willing to take a public stand. We can’t handle another post-9/11-style suspension of doubt about the man in charge; if that happens, America as we know it will soon be gone.”
2.2 President Trump opened his first appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington with a prayer for the television ratings of the man who succeeded him as host of “The Apprentice.” “They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out. The ratings went down the tubes,” Trump joked, prompting laughter from the audience. “I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”
2.2 Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC: “I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
2.2 The Atlantic: “At the National Prayer Brakfast, in a speech emphasizing the importance of religious liberty, Trump took time to discuss a personal favorite topic: The Apprentice. As he has noted before, the reality TV show, for which he still serves as an executive producer, has seen its ratings decline under its current host (and the former governor of California), Arnold Schwarzenegger, and new name, The New Celebrity Apprentice. Discussing his relationship with Mark Burnett, the creator of The Apprentice and a keynote speaker at the event, Trump emphasized his own success with the show, adding, “They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place, and we know how that turned out. The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster, and Mark [Burnett] will never bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”
2.1 Finished Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr. Pretty good! Joan Acocella in The New Yorker on the Gunther novels: “Those other novels, by those cleaner-minded people, are about the banality of evil, and good for them. We need to know about that. But Kerr’s books are about the banality of goodness. And if it can be highlighted by disgustingness, then bring on the disgustingness. After all, a banal goodness is all we really require. We’re not all Mother Cabrini or even Ralph Nader. What we need is just the ordinary recoil, the ordinary knowledge that at a certain point people can’t go on looking at their fingernails when there are thieves in the store.”
2.1 Jeremi Suri in The Atlantic: “The latest drafts of executive orders, several of which the president will reportedly sign Friday at the Pentagon, are bold and breathtaking in their reach. They are strategic and transformative. They are also poised to destroy the foundations for the last 70 years of American-led peace and prosperity. The orders question the very ideas of cooperation and democracy, embodying an aggressive commitment to “America First” above all else. So much for the “defense of the free world,” and the “march of freedom”—obvious soft-headed “loser” ideas for the new team of White House cynics. Trump is launching a direct attack on the liberal international order that really made America great after the depths of the Great Depression. It is a system of multilateral trade and alliances that we built to serve our interests and attract others to our way of life. Through the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organization), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, among other institutions, the United States led a postwar capitalist system that raised global standards of living, defeated Soviet communism, and converted China to a market economy. Through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe and a web of alliances in Asia and the Middle East, the United States contained aggressive states, nurtured stable allies, and promoted democratic reforms when possible. American power is unmatched around the world because it can work through consensual relations with partners in every region. None of our rivals have as many friends, and none of our rivals can count on as much support abroad.”
2.1 David Rothkopf in the Post: “Bannon is the precisely wrong person for this wrong role. His national security experience consists of a graduate degree and seven years in the Navy. More troubling, Bannon’s role as chairman of Breitbart.com, with its racist, misogynist and Islamophobic perspectives, and his avowed desire to blow up our system of government, suggests this is someone who not only has no business being a permanent member of the most powerful consultative body in the world — he has no business being in a position of responsibility in any government.”
1.29 Taraji P. Henson at the SAG Awards
1.31 Last night, within hours of refusing to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration, Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general.
1.30 Senators McCain and Graham object to the travel ban. Powerful GOP Senators John McCain, of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, issued a joint statement blasting Trump’s move as so hasty that it may “become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.” “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” they said.
1.30 In Albany, Governor Cuomo addresses Planned Parenthoo. “We will never go back!”
1.29 Dinner with Paul and Ann at Xavier’s XO
1.28 Steve Bannon in the Times: “I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president. The media should . . . keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”
1.28 Administration issues so-called Muslim Ban. Chaos ensues. Public erupts in spontaneous demonstrations, clogging airports. Before dawn, the ill-considered, clumsily-drawn, unnecessisarily punitive, and possibly unconstitutional order is stayed.
1.26 Charles Blow in the Times: “We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.
1.25 Mary Tyler Moore dies at 80.”
1.25 Mike Allen on Axios: “There is a dominant faction inside the White House that believes fervently this is shrewd, long-term, disruptive politics that will forever change the country.”
1.25 James Kwak in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The rhetoric of economism was taken up first by think tanks such as the Foundation for Economic Education and the American Enterprise Institute, then by the National Review of William F. Buckley, who helped make free-market economics part of the conservative synthesis. From Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan, the conviction that all economic problems could be boiled down to first principles and solved by the magic of competitive markets became a central tenet of conservative ideology. In the memorable words of Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, “The market is rational and the government is dumb.” . . .Economism presents itself as an abstract, value-neutral representation of the world — one that invokes the prestige of economics, a discipline that many people find intimidating. “It’s just Economics 101,” one often hears. The role that it plays in contemporary society, however, is deeply ideological. Economism naturalizes one possible state of affairs — in which individuals and companies are left to compete in unregulated markets — and, like Doctor Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide, celebrates the outcomes that result as the best of all possible worlds.”
1.24 Jim VandeHei on MSNBC: “This is not about crowd sizes — crowd size has no bearing whatsoever on how someone is going to govern. … [Y]ou’re talking about an allegation that goes to the heart of our democracy, … [E]veryone keeps thinking, ‘Ah, he’s gonna change — he’s in office.’ … It’s Donald Trump. He’s not going to change. … [P]eople have to take a deep breath and understand that sometimes facts are facts.”
1.24 Variety: While no actors of color were nominated the last two years, this year saw every acting category recognizing a person of color. A record-tying (with 2007) seven minority actors were recognized, including a record six black actors.
1.24 Garrison Keillor in the Post: ““American carnage,” my Aunt Sally: The correct term is “American capitalism.” Jobs are lost to automation, innovation, obsolescence, the moving finger of fate. The carriage industry was devastated by the automobile, and the men who made surreys and broughams and hansoms had to learn something new; the Pullman porter union was hit hard by the advent of air travel, and the porters sent their sons to college; the newspaper business was hit hard by Craigslist. Too bad for us. I know gifted men who were successful graphic designers until computers came along and younger people with computer skills took their place and those gifted men had to do something else. T-shirts are made in Asian countries because Americans don’t want to pay $20 for one. Coal yields to natural gas as renewable energy marches forward. Who doesn’t get this? The idea that the government is obligated to create a good living for you is one the Republican Party has fought since Adam was in the third grade. It’s the party of personal responsibility. But there he is, promising to make the bluebirds sing. As if.”
1.24 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: The Post reports that as events unfolded on Friday and Saturday “Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged.” We know two things from this: 1.) He’s an emotional train wreck before much of anything has happened and 2.) Those close to him already started spilling the beans, perhaps to exonerate themselves and perhaps to communicate to their boss through the media. Trump’s ire simply confirms what we already knew, namely that his insatiable need for approval and his rage when he does not receive it make for an alarmingly unpresidential demeanor.
1.23 Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: “This is not a conventional dispute over the facts. It is not about “relations” between the press and the White House. It is about truth and power. The message this is designed to send is that Trump has the power to declare what the truth is, and the news media does not. The Trump White House is maintaining this posture while telling enormous, demonstrable lies, but no matter — according to the new White House Ministry of Disinformation, the truth is what Donald Trump says it is. Bank on it: This will hold true even when Donald Trump contradicts Donald Trump.”
1.23 Emily Ratajkowski walks her dog for Sports Illustrated
1.23 Jenna Johnson in the Washington Post: “In the opening hours of his first formal day in the White House on Monday, President Trump welcomed leaders from several of the country’s largest corporations and promised to wipe out at least 75 percent of government regulations that hinder their businesses, fast-track their plans to open factories and cut taxes “massively.” And he again threatened to impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move production out of the country. “We’re going to be cutting regulation massively,” Trump told a large group of business chief executives over breakfast, which was briefly open to the news media. “Now, we’re going to have regulation, and it’ll be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can’t do anything. … I have people that tell me that they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.” Those who do not heed this advice, Trump said, could face new tariffs that he described as “substantial” and “major.” This threat is one that many Republicans disagree with, worried that it could increase prices for consumers and unfairly punish some companies. International trade experts said Trump may not have the authority to punish individual companies, while broad-based tariffs would violate existing treaties. Trump defended this proposed tax on Monday as “fair.”
“Somebody would said: ‘Oh, Trump is going to tax.’ I’m not going to tax. There is no tax, none whatsoever,” Trump said. “And I just want to tell you: All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people in the United States. We have the greatest people.”
1.21 Aziz Ansari on Saturday Night Live: “I think Trump should make a speech. A real speech denouncing the lower-case K.K.K. Don’t tweet about me being lame or the show. Write a speech. A real speech. Because these people are out there, and it’s pissing a lot of people off. And I think it could make a difference. Because other presidents have done things like this, and it has helped. Hate crimes and stuff that went down.Now George Bush, George W. Bush made a speech after 9/11, and it really helped. Things changed. This what he said in his speech, and I’m paraphrasing slightly. He said, “Islam is peace. The perpetrators of these attacks, they don’t represent Islam. They represent war and violence. Our enemies are not our Muslim brothers and sisters. Our enemies are a network of radical terrorists.” And everyone applauded. Democrats, Republicans, it didn’t matter. Because it’s not about politics. It’s about basic human decency and remembering why the country was founded in the first place. And I was sitting there and I’m watching this speech and I’m like, “What the hell has happened? I’m sitting here wistfully watching old George W. Bush speeches?” Just sitting there like, “What a leader he was!” Sixteen years ago, I was certain this dude was a dildo. Now, I’m sitting there like, “He guided us with his eloquence!”
1.21 In cities across America and across the globe, approximately 4 million women (and some men) marched against Trump’s policies, among them Ginny, Susan, and Ann and Nadia Lindstrom.
1.21 The Washington Post: “More than 1 million people gathered in Washington and in cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became an unprecedented international rebuke of a new president that packed cities large and small from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia. The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday that as many as half a million people participated. On Sunday, Metro officials announced that Saturday was the second-busiest day in the Washington subway system’s history, with 1,001,613 trips. (By contrast, on Trump’s Inauguration Day, the system recorded 570,557 trips.) Many in the nation’s capital and other cities said they were inspired to join because of Trump’s divisive campaign and his disparagement of women, minorities and immigrants. In signs and shouts, they mocked what they characterized as Trump’s lewd language and sexist demeanor. The marches provided a balm for those eager to immerse themselves in a like-minded sea of citizens who shared their anxiety and disappointment after Democrat Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency ended in defeat. “We just want to make sure that we’re heard,” said Mona Osuchukwu, 27, a D.C. native.”
1.21 Gregg Popovich: “The march today was great. The message is important. It could have been a whole lot of groups marching. Somebody said on TV, ‘What’s the message?’ The message is obvious. Our president comes in with the lowest rating of anybody whoever came into the office. There’s a majority of people out there, since Hillary won the popular vote, that don’t buy his act. I just wish he was more … had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive, rather than just talking and saying, ‘I’m going to include everyone.’ He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it. But so far, you’ve gotten to the point where you really can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. You really can’t. All those thousands that were on the rooftops after 9/11? There were two. ‘We went to Hawaii and checked his birth certificate, and my investigators couldn’t believe what they found.’ There wasn’t anything there. It’s over and over again. The CIA today, instead of honoring the 117 people behind him where he was speaking, he talked about the size of the crowd. That’s worrisome. That’s worrisome. I’d just feel better if someone who was in that position showed the maturity and psychological and emotional level of someone that was his age. It’s dangerous, and it doesn’t do us any good. I hope he does a great job. But there’s a difference between respecting the office of the president and the person who occupies it. That respect has to be earned. It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist and make fun of handicapped people. And what really bothers me are the people around him, the Sean Spicers, the Kellyanne Conways, the Reince Preibuses, who know who he is and actually have the cynical approach and disingenuous attitude to really defend him and try to make it look like he didn’t say what he said. When he’s mad at the media for them reporting what he said, it just boggles my mind. When Kellyanne Conway said he wasn’t really making fun of the handicapped person, it’s incredible. It really makes you wonder how far would someone go to actually cover for somebody that much. I think the comment was ‘You had to look in his heart. You don’t know what’s in his heart. He wouldn’t do that.’ But he did it. And all the things he said during that time, if our children would have said it, we would have grounded them for six months. Without a doubt. But we ignore all that, because … because why? That says something about all of us. And that’s what’s dangerous. That’s what scares the hell out of me to this day and makes me uneasy. But I felt great today watching the march, in protest to how he has conducted himself, because it tells me I really do live in a country where a lot of people care. We have to be vigilant, to make sure that although we all hope he does good things for our country, we don’t get embarrassed by him and roll back liberties that have been worked for for so long in so many different areas.”
1.21 NewYorkPost:“President Trump’s press secretary is declaring that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in history “both in person and around the globe.” Sean Spicer insists, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
Modal TriggerBarack Obama’s 2009 inauguration (top) compared to Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Spicer offers no evidence to support the claim. It is not known how many people watched the ceremony on television around the globe. In the US, Nielsen estimates 31 million viewers watched TV coverage, but that’s less than Barack Obama’s and Ronald Reagan’s first inaugurations. On the ground in Washington, crowds on Friday were noticeably smaller than those at some previous inaugurations. Spicer convened reporters at the White House during Trump’s first full day in office to accuse them of engaging in “deliberately false reporting.” He’s claiming that photographs of the inauguration were intentionally framed in a way to minimize the crowd.
Photos of the National Mall make clear that the crowd did not extend to the Washington Monument, as it did for Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
1.21 Nicolle Wallace, in response to a query from Mark Halperin about “costs of untruths from WH podium”: “Credibility they don’t value, goodwill they don’t think they need, professionalism they aren’t capable of, humility they wouldn’t recognize.”
1.20 Jim Brown, to the Wall Street Journal, on his support for Donald Trump: “We’re a country that has been snoozing. Now we are alert. Whether it’s negative or positive, energy has risen. People are engaged. They’re studying. They are thinking more. And I think that’s good. You can’t get that without someone being bold enough to say things people don’t agree with.”
1.20 George Will in the Washington Post: “Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be “elegant.” This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described “American carnage.” That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration. Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” and an education system producing students “deprived of all knowledge.” Yes, all. But cheer up, because the carnage will vanish if we “follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.” “Simple” is the right word.
1.20 Donald Trump is sworn in as America’s 45th president. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”