NOVEMBER 2017

11.21 More powerful earthquakes could rock the globe in 2018 because of infinitesimal changes in the speed of the Earth’s rotation, scientists warn. A minuscule slowing of the Earth’s rotation over years, which can extend the length of a day by a millisecond or more, appears to be linked to an increase in major quakes.
11.21 Embattled Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has resigned
11.21 Joshua Bernstein on Buzzfeed: “National security adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly mocked Trump’s intelligence during a private dinner with the CEO of Oracle, saying the president has the intelligence of a “kindergartner.” “Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who has been mentioned as a candidate for several potential administration jobs — McMaster bluntly trashed his boss, said the sources, four of whom [said] they heard about the exchange directly from Catz. [McMaster] dismissed the president variously as an ‘idiot’ and a ‘dope’ with the intelligence of a ‘kindergartner’ … A sixth source who was not familiar with the details of the dinner [said] McMaster had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council.”
11.21 CBS fires Rose
11.21 Charlie Rose, Glenn Thrush, John Conyers join Al Franken et all in the pillory
11.20 Olivier Vernon of the Giants: “At the end of the day, there’s a First Amendment right as an American citizen. You have a right to protest peacefully. Protests aren’t supposed to be comfortable.”
11.16 Ron Swoboda
11.16 Al Franken accused of sexual harassment

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

COUSINS AHOY!

A covey of cousins? My cousin Elaine Warner(in blue)! came from San Diego to Maryland for a ceremony at the Naval Academy honoring her late husband Bob Craig. She brought three of their six children. My sister Rose and I reconnoitered with them at Harborplace in Baltimore for a traditional celebratory feast of cooked crustaceans. Fun! Right to left: cousin Steve, his wife Jan, cousin Diana, Rose, Elaine, cousin Robin, your correspondent

NOVEMBER 2017: “THE REASON THE STOCK MARKET IS SO SUCCESSFUL IS BECAUSE OF ME”

11.8 Brad Paisley and Carrie Undewood at the Country Music Awards: “Maybe next time he’ll think before he tweets.”

Quintana Roo Dunne with parents John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion in Malibu 1976

11.8 Bob Costas on the NFL: “The cracks in the foundation are there,” Costas said. “The day-to-day issues, as serious as they may be, they may come and go. But you cannot change the nature of the game. I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football. The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.”
11.8 E.J. Dionne Jr.in the Post: “Tuesday’s Democratic sweep obliterated a series of outdated story lines in American politics and opened a new era.Forget those repetitious tales about some piece of President Trump’s base still sticking with him. It’s now clear, from Virginia and New Jersey to Washington state, Georgia, New York, Connecticut and Maine, that the energy Trump has unleashed among those who loathe him has the potential to realign the country.In droves, voters rebuked his leadership, his party and the divisive white-nationalist politics that was supposed to save Republican Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor’s race, the centerpiece of the GOP catastrophe. . . .Widespread reports of new organizing and activism on the progressive side of politics were often written off before Tuesday because earlier this year Democrats lost four special congressional elections in very Republican constituencies. Typically overlooked were sharp shifts away from the GOP in all these districts. It’s now clear that the backlash against Trump is the most consequential fact of American politics.”
11.8 Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post: “The mood of the country a year after Trump’s victory may not be as anti-government as some thought. Instead of unrelenting hostility toward government, verging on nihilism, we see voters going for pro-government candidates, even ones seeking to expand health care. You never know what you stand to lose until you look into the abyss and see the loss of a politically sane and functional government. In sum, maybe the 2016 race was about a very, very bad Democratic candidate, not primarily or only a rejection of government. Maybe the road back to political normalcy goes through the suburbs and educated voters, especially women. It could be that Democrats just need a centrist candidate without baggage, not a democratic socialist, to lead them to victory. And perhaps #NeverTrumpers, cut loose from the GOP, become the new, sought-after voting contingent (like soccer moms!), who will look for rational, knowledgeable candidates whatever the party designation, so long as the candidates are committed to good government and restoration of American democratic institutions.
11.7 Big Dem wins in Virginia, New Jersey, elsewhere. Axios: “On a day that set the opening tone for the midterm elections of 2018, voters rejected President Trump, handed Democrats a big win in a swing state in a racially charged moment, and provided hope that they can win back power in Washington.” Washington Post: “34 percent of voters said expressing opposition to Trump was a reason for their vote, with almost all of this group favoring Northam. . . 17 percent sought to express support for the president. . . .Women made the difference. White women with college degrees — a group that split evenly in the 2013 Virginia governor’s election – favored Northam by 16 points over Gillespie in preliminary exit polling, 58 percent to 42 percent. . . . Married women voted for Northam by 10 points. . . . In the 2016 presidential election, Trump eked out a one-point lead with this group, 48 percent to 47 percent.
11.7 Roy Halladay dies in a plane crash at 40.
11.7 Trump in South Korea: “I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us.”
11.7 Albany
11.7 Peter Beinart in The Atlantic:“Conservatives need liberals to stop abusing their cultural power. Although conservatives dominate America’s elected offices, liberals wield the greater power to stigmatize. In the 1950s, conservatives could exile liberals from polite company by calling them Communists. Being called anti-American can still sting. . . But in most elite institutions, being accused of bigotry is now more dangerous than being accused of insufficient patriotism. In 2014, Brendan Eich was forced out as the head of the tech company Mozilla for having donated to an anti-gay-marriage initiative. He probably would not have been forced out for donating to, say, a campaign to eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance from California’s schools. Conservatives feel their cultural vulnerability acutely. In 2011, researchers at Tufts University observed that conservatives consume more “outrage-based” political radio and television than liberals do. One reason, they suggested in a follow-up paper, is that conservatives are more fearful than liberals of discussing politics with people with whom they disagree, because they dread being called a bigot. “When asked how they feel about talking politics,” the researchers noted, “every single conservative respondent raised the issue of being called racist.” Liberals expressed no comparable fear. As a result, they felt less need to take refuge in the “safe political environs provided by outrage-based programs.”
11.6 Michael Gerson in the Post: Where does this leave us at Year One of the Trump era? With two very sick political parties that have a monopoly on political power and little prospect for reform and recovery. The stakes are quite high. If America really develops a political competition between ethno-nationalism and identity socialism, it will mean we are a nation in decline — likely to leave pressing problems (educational failure, unconstrained debt, a flawed criminal-justice system) unconfronted. Likely to forfeit global leadership, undermine world markets and cede to others the mantle of stability and firm purpose. There is a serious prospect that the president will truly crash and burn in a colossal fiasco so disastrous as to be undeniable proof against all things Trump. But that would be so bad for the country that it is hard to wish for.
11.6 Albany
11.5 Lawrence Summers in the Washington Post: Unfortunately, the proposal on offer by House Republicans may well retard growth, reward the wealthy, add complexity to the code and cheat the future, even as it raises burdens on the middle class and the poor. There are three aspects of the proposal that I find almost inexplicable, except as an expression of the power of entrenched interests. First, what is the rationale for passing tax cuts that increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion in this decade and potentially more in the future, instead of pursuing the kind of revenue-neutral reform adopted in 1986? There is no present need for fiscal stimulus. The national debt is already on an explosive path, even without taking into account large spending needs that are almost certain to arise in areas ranging from national security to infrastructure to addressing those left behind by globalization and technology. Borrowing to pay for tax cuts is a way to defer pain, not avoid it. Ultimately, the power of compound interest makes necessary tax increases or spending cuts that are even larger than those tax reductions. But in the meantime, debt-financed tax cuts would raise the trade deficit and reduce investment, thereby cheating the future. Second, what is the case for cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent? For at least five years under the GOP proposal, businesses would be able to write off investments in new equipment entirely in the year that those investments are made. So the government would be sharing to an equal extent in the costs of and returns from investment, eliminating any tax-induced disincentive to invest. The effective tax rate on new investment would be reduced to zero, or less, even before considering the corporate rate reduction. A corporate rate reduction serves only to reward monopoly profits, other rents or past investments. Given the trends of the past few years, are shareholders really the most worthy recipients of such a windfall?
11.5 Gun kills 26 at a church in Texas. It was 307th mass shooting in America this year.
11.5 Trump: “[T]he reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. I’ve always been great with money, I’ve always been great with jobs, that’s what I do. And I’ve done it well, I’ve done it really well, much better than people understand and they understand I’ve done well. But we have a tremendous amount of strength because of what’s happened. You know, think of it — $5.5 trillion worth of value.”


11.3 Andrew Sullivan in New York: Northam seems to me almost a classic Democratic politician of our time. I have no idea what his core message is (and neither, it seems, does he); on paper, he’s close to perfect; his personality is anodyne; his skills as a campaigner are risible; and he has negative charisma. More to the point, he is running against an amphibian swamp creature, Ed Gillespie, and yet the Washington lobbyist is outflanking him on populism. Northam’s ads are super lame, and have lately been largely on the defensive, especially on crime, culture, and immigration. He hasn’t galvanized minority voters, has alienated many white voters, and has failed to consolidate a broader anti-Trump coalition. In Virginia, Trump’s approval rating is 38/59, but Northam is winning only 81 percent of the disapprovers, while Gillespie is winning 95 percent of the approvers. Northam’s early double-digit lead has now collapsed to within the margin of error….go to Northam’s website and you see a near-copy of Clinton’s agenda last year. Drenched in wonky micro-policies, one of its exhausted themes is actually “Working Together.” If you plumb the message, behind various poll-tested good-government bromides, he even has policy proposals on concussions and STEM curricula, and a smoking ban. This is Establishment Democratic boilerplate. And Democratic turnout, in response, looks wobbly, especially among minority voters.
11.1 Quartz: Stanford’s Siegel, who was a manager at GE and Intel between 1994 and 2007, says Amazon’s unique strength (control over customer data and logistics infrastructure) means the parallels with GE may not apply. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” he says. “Amazon is combining the digital and physical in a way that we’ve never seen before.” Because Amazon controls household consumption data, competitive intelligence about sellers, as well as a vast logistics infrastructure, it has unparalleled insights into what people want, and how to deliver it most efficiently. New features like the Alexa home assistant and Amazon Key(allowing Amazon to monitor and grant access to people entering your house) will make the company virtually omniscient. Amazon sports a sky-high valuation because investors are banking that every customer gained today will pay off handsomely in the future. . . . “You want to put off profitability in certain businesses because you aggregate more data, and you can monetize it down the road,” says Siegel. “You can argue that is what Amazon is doing. The old GE had no data.” Soon, Amazon will be able to anticipate, suggest, and deliver almost any of the physical goods people routinely buy elsewhere (clothes, stores, supermarkets, boutiques, online retailers), making it the path of least resistance for everything people purchase. That’s been the plan for years. The patent for “anticipatory package shipping,” to ship people goods before they even order them, was filed in 2012 (a feature that could save 10% to 40% on logistics costs, say researchers). Now it’s coming to fruition.
11.4 George Will: The political philosopher Harvey Mansfield, Harvard’s conservative, says education should teach how to praise. How, that is, to recognize excellence of character when it is entwined, as it always is, with flaws. And how to acknowledge excellence of achievement amid the contingencies that always partially defeat good intentions.”
11.4 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia tightened his grip on power. He detained 38 of the nation’s wealthiest and most prominent citizens over the weekend. The extraordinary weekend roundup against alleged corruption included arrests of high-profile Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Bakr bin Laden of the Saudi Binladen construction company. Additionally, a senior Saudi prince and seven other officials have been killed in a helicopter crash near the country’s border with Yemen. No official explanation has been issued. One fifth of the world’s oil reserves are in Saudi Arabia.
11.4 Saw Thor: Ragnorak qith Molly, Shawn and Ginny. Loved it! Fabulous use The Immigrant Song.
11.2 Pope Francis: “When I pray, sometimes I fall asleep.”
11.2 Bloomberg Businessweek: “The world economy should grow nicely again in 2018. (Unless someone does something dumb.) After several disappointing years, all the major economies are expanding at the same time … Healthy growth makes it easier to deal with the next downturn We’ve gotten so used to complaining about sluggishness that it’s a shock to realize the global economy has quietly accelerated to a respectable and sustainable cruising speed. Market volatility is historically low. The big story for 2018 is likely to be how to manage the continued expansion. A turning point may come at the end of September, when the European Central Bank might stop or curtail monthly bond purchases. Bloomberg economists predict the U.S. will grow 2.5 percent in 2018; China, 6.4 percent; Japan, 0.9 percent; and Germany, 1.6 percent. In most cases those numbers are in line with the growth expected for 2017, which has turned out to be a better year than many forecasters expected.


11.1 In Biology Letters coined a new word: Kleptropredation, a previously unknown behavior which occurs when a predator eats prey that has just hunted and has a full belly—such that the predator ends up eating its prey’s prey as well.
11.1 Trump to the Times: “I’m not under investigation, as you know. And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there. It has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said.
11.1 The Astros beat the Dodgers 4 games to 3, and win their first World Series

OCTOBER 2017: “HE’S A MORON”


10.31 Truck driver gunman from ISIS kills eight in Manhattan; the Halloween Parade goes on.
10.31 Anne Applebaum in the Post: “If this indictment is correct, Manafort is the living embodiment of this Russian-American convergence. And Trump, of course, is its apotheosis.”
10.31 Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes in Lawfare.com: “[Mueller’s] opening bid is a remarkable show of strength. He has a cooperating witness from inside the campaign’s interactions with the Russians. And he is alleging not mere technical infractions of law but astonishing criminality on the part of Trump’s campaign manager, a man who also attended the Trump Tower meeting. Any hope the White House may have had that the Mueller investigation might be fading away vanished . . . Things are only going to get worse from here.”
10.31 The Washington Post: “The charges are striking for their breadth, touching all levels of the Trump campaign and exploring the possible personal, financial wrongdoing of those involved, as well as what appeared to be a concerted effort by one campaign official to arrange a meeting with Russian officials.”
10.30 Michelle Goldberg in the Times: “Trump, more gangster than entrepreneur, has long surrounded himself with bottom-feeding scum, and for all his nationalist bluster, his campaign was a vehicle for Russian subversion.
10.30 David Leonhardt in the Times: “Having lavished so much money on the wealthy, the tax package — or at least the vague framework that the administration has released — doesn’t have much remaining to spend on middle class and poor families. For them, the package is a mix of pluses and minuses. Many face a lower tax rate, but some face a higher one, and many families lose deductions. The combination creates a lot of losers. Reduced deductions for children, for example, hurt large families, notes N.Y.U.’s Lily Batchelder. And the deduction for state and local taxes — also a target for cuts — now benefits 30 percent of households nationwide. It was the main reason for last week’s House defections, and the tensions over it haven’t been resolved. hen there are the long-term problems I mentioned earlier. First, Trump’s plan takes a skimpy approach to inflation adjustments, which will push many families into higher tax brackets over time. Second, the plan would radically increase the federal deficit, and when it comes to the deficit, what goes up must eventually come down. At some point, the government will need to pay its bills, through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Virtually any future deficit-reduction plan — except for a repeal of the Trump tax plan — would hurt most families more than his plan helps them. This chain of events has happened before. The Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts may have at first seemed to help the middle class and poor. But the deficits led to later cuts in education, medical research, transportation and anti-poverty programs that almost surely erased the benefits of a modest tax cut. Already, today’s congressional leaders are talking about sizable cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
10.30 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: The intensity of Trump’s frenzy underscores the peril in which the president now finds himself. Beyond the indictments unsealed this morning, Trump does not know what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has uncovered; which witnesses are flippable; what financial documents have revealed about the Trump business empire; and whether, for example, Mueller finds support for an obstruction of justice charge from Trump’s own public dissembling (e.g., hinting at non-existent tapes of former FBI director James B. Comey). For someone who insists on holding all the cards and intimidating others, Trump finds himself in a uniquely powerless position.
10.30 Manafort indicted
10.28 Albany. Saw the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Washington Park
10.27 Albany
10.24 Sen. Jeff Flake: When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do – because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum – when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.
10.24 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: Whether it is a pregnant Gold Star widow such as Myeshia Johnson or a powerful U.S. senator whose help Trump needs both on Iran and the do-or-die tax plan, Trump is incapable of disengaging from a fight that he is obviously losing. He cannot cede the field to anyone, no matter how destructive the prolonged fight is to his own goals. Everything comes back to a personal battle of wills in which Trump cannot stand to be seen on the losing side. For Trump, all human and personal interactions are reduced to a test of his ego; any perceived defeat is intolerable for him. Extending these exchanges, of course, leads to bigger and more serious defeats, but those he can justify as the result of “fake media” or hapless Republicans. Corker is demonstrating that the GOP sycophants who feed Trump’s ego have it all wrong. The president cannot be cajoled into being a responsible, effective president. He cannot be pinned down to any specific position. No loyalty can be expected from him. Rather than lose one’s political soul and waste endless time trying to placate the impulsive, irrational president, the best course of action is to expose his craziness, minimize his influence and then ignore him.
10.24 Greg Sargent in The Washington Post: When Corker told the New York Times this month that he worries Trump might trigger World War III and that most Senate Republicans know Trump must be regularly constrained by his inner circle from unleashing large-scale global damage, Corker revealed two things. Corker didn’t just unmask the fact that Trump’s temperament and character pose an ongoing danger to the country and the world. Corker also revealed that Republicans are fully aware of this threat and that their failure to testify to it constitutes a massive abdication that could have unthinkable consequences.
10.24 A Montreal man received a $117 traffic ticket for singing in his car. In September, Taofik Moalla was driving home and singing along to “Gonna Make You Sweat,” a 1990 dance music smash by C+C Music Factory. Y’know, the one that goes, “Everybody dance now!”
10.24 Steve Bannon: “There’s nobody in the United States that wants to be engaged in combat operations, special forces operations, drone operations (for multiple generations.) That’s just not where the American people are. It’s not the way our country was founded or formed. … We’re prepared to be allies. What we don’t want is these countries to be protectorates. It’s not our fight.” He said Petraeus was too focused on “nation building.” “We have to build a nation called the United States of America. The way you can have Pax Americana is if we’re a robust and strong society ourselves, not trying to impose our way of life and our beliefs on other people. . . .In Afghanistan, I believe . . . I believe we’re trying to impose a liberal democratic system on a society that clearly to me doesn’t seem to want it. … We’re not looking to transform the world into our values. The world has got to come to its own conclusions about how it wants to govern themselves.”
10.24 Within the next three decades, floods that used to strike the New York City area only once every 500 years could occur every five years, according to a new scientific study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “[R]ising sea levels could mean that floods of 7.4 feet … or more that struck the New York city area roughly once every 500 years before 1800, and which occur roughly every 25 years now, could happen once every five years between 2030 and 2045.”
10.24 Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: Thirty years ago, University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind” began with the words: “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: Almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” Bloom found this deeply problematic, because the ability to determine truth from falsehood, right from wrong, is essential to personal flourishing and civic health. I wonder what Bloom would make of a political philosophy in which truth is determined by 25,000 screaming partisans and reality is a function of fabulism. Conservatives were supposed to be the protectors of objective truth from various forms of postmodernism. Now they generally defend our thoroughly post-truth president. Evidently we are all relativists now.Not quite all. Some of us still think this attack on truth is a dangerous form of political corruption. The problem is not just the constant lies. It is the dismissal of reason and objectivity as inherently elitist and partisan. It is the invitation to supporters to live entirely within Trump’s dark, divisive, dystopian version of reality. It is the attempt to destroy or subvert any source of informed judgment other than Trump himself. This is the construction of a pernicious form of tyranny: a tyranny over the mind.
10.23 Dinner with Chris Napolitano at Cafe Centro
10.23 An annual survey published last month by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 37 percent of Americans cannot name even one of the five rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. About half of those surveyed got freedom of speech but couldn’t get any of the others.
10.23 John McCain: “One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we’re going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”
10.22 Reuters: Zookeepers at Berlin’s main animal park are hoping to cure a young female panda’s habit of walking backwards by introducing her to sex.
10.22 New York Times: “Last January, six months after Fox News ousted [Roger Ailes], … Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst [Lis Wiehl] to settle new sexual harassment allegations. The next month, 21st Century Fox “granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.
10.21 Washington Post: “[A]nalysts … see signs that Mount Mantap, the 7,200-foot-high peak under which North Korea detonates its nuclear bombs, is suffering from ‘tired mountain syndrome. Chinese scientists … have warned that further nuclear tests [by North Korea] could cause the mountain to collapse and release the radiation from the blast.”
10.21 The Astros eliminate the Yankees, four games to three
10.21 The 37th Annual Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival
10.19 George W. Bush: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgetting the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments – forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge. In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity.”
10.19 Barack Obama: “Why are we deliberately trying to misunderstand each other and be cruel to each other and put each other down? That’s not who we are!”
10.19 George W. Bush: “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. . . . .Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”
10.18 New York Law Journal: Paul Feinman on Wednesday was sworn in as an associate judge on the state’s highest court, making him the first openly gay member of the Court of Appeals. Feinman, a former appellate justice in Manhattan, was nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June . . . “Our judiciary was built to help us navigate tumultuous times. When our ship is battered by storms of controversy, when waves of fear and anger and anxiety send us off course. When tides of emotion drives us from paths of reason, the Constitution of New York and the Constitution of the United states are the compasses that steer us forward,” said Cuomo’s top counsel Alphonso David.
10.18 Forbes: “America’s richest are richer than ever” Forbes releases its list of the 400 richest Americans … The minimum net worth hit a record high of $2 billion, up from $1.7 billion in 2015 and 2016 … 169 billionaires who did not make the cut … Average net worth of a Forbes 400 member hit $6.7 billion, also a record high, up from $6 billion last year.
10.17 David von Drehle in the Washington Post: “I don’t think we’ve ever been led by a person with such a low opinion of America. . . .The president insists that football players show respect for the national anthem, yet he has no respect for the good faith of those who served before him. He complains that critics are unfair to him even as he unfairly maligns his predecessors. At 71, Trump is experiencing public service for the very first time. We can but hope that the value of it will eventually dawn on him.”
10.17 Tom Verducci in si.com: “Stop for a moment and appreciate it, the way you might by pulling your car over to the side of the road to dwell on the majesty of a mountain or the expanse of a river. We’ve never seen anything like it. The largest position player to ever play Major League Baseball heaved his 6’ 7”, 282-pound body at the culmination of sprints into a wall and into the turf to make catches of hard-hit line drives. In between, he smashed a high-and-tight 93-mph cutter into the first row in leftfield for a three-run homer. Aaron Judge is, in the manner of the highest complement to athleticism, a freak. The Yankees rightfielder played an astounding game in an 8–1 New York win over Houston in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. He is a natural wonder.”
10.17 The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 23,000 for the first time today.
10.16 Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: Do religious right leaders have any clue how foolish they appear? Rather than confidently and persistently representing a set of distinctive beliefs, they pant and beg to be a part of someone else’s movement. In this case, it is a movement that takes advantage of racial and ethnic divisions and dehumanizes Muslims, migrants and refugees. A movement that has cultivated ties to alt-right leaders and flirted with white identity politics. A movement that will eventually soil and discredit all who are associated with it.”
10.17 Trump: “There’s no such thing as Obamacare anymore.”
10.17 Steve Bannon: “McConnell and the GOP Establishment have sown the wind — now be prepared the reap the whirlwind.”
10.17 Trump: “I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest.”
10.17 David Jolley, ex GOP congressman: “We do know that we have a president who very well might put this nation at risk and this Republican Congress has done nothing to check his power,” he added. “Democrats could, and we might be better off as a republic if they take the House in 2018.”
10.16 Trump: “The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents ― most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” Trump said. “They have made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass.”
10.16 Washington Post: Scientists detect gravitational waves from a new kind of nova, sparking a new era in astronomy
10.16 Rep. Ro Khanna in the Washington Post: “ This is a defining moment for the valley — a chance to respond to the challenges facing our country. Techies are no longer the iconoclasts or the math whizzes who didn’t quite fit in at homecoming. They are now the largest winners in a 21st-century global economy. Their platforms are used by the vast majority of citizens. The hope is that they will answer the nation’s call to advance the common good, from expanding job opportunity to communities across the country to ensuring that online platforms do not contribute to polarization or misinformation. Tech companies must offer an aspirational vision of how all Americans, regardless of geography, can benefit from a tech-driven economy. This means making investments not just in California, Massachusetts and New York, but also in start-ups and entrepreneurs in cities and rural communities across the nation. It means offering apprenticeships to help build tech capability in the heartland.”
10.16 John McCain: “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to. I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have served America’s cause – the cause of our security and the security of our friends, the cause of freedom and equal justice – all my adult life. I haven’t always served it well. I haven’t even always appreciated what I was serving. But among the few compensations of old age is the acuity of hindsight. I see now that I was part of something important that drew me along in its wake even when I was diverted by other interests. I was, knowingly or not, along for the ride as America made the future better than the past.”
10.16 Trump on Obamacare: “It’s dead. It’s gone. It’s no longer — you shouldn’t even mention. It’s gone.”
10.14 Blade Runner 2049. Yecch.
10.14 Axios: Jaw-dropper from NBC News, on Paul Manafort‘s “$60 million relationship with a Russian oligarch”: “Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, … released a statement … saying, in part, ‘Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.’ He later revised the statement, removing that sentence entirely.”
10.13 31 dead in California fires
10.13 85 percent of Puerto Rico without power
10.13 Karen Attiah in the Washington Post: “With Pence’s stunt, Trump’s tweets, Jones’s edict and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement saying players should stand, the debate about players standing for the national anthem is no longer about the flag. This is not about the anthem. This is not about supporting the troops. This is about putting outspoken black people back in their place in America — subordinate, and silent about the racism, police brutality and white supremacy that affect our lives everyday. This is about controlling what are considered “acceptable” ways for black people to protest. ”
10.12 Trump: “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.”
10.12 Trump twice threatened to shut down media outlets. After posturing to pull NBC’s broadcast license on Monday, the president sent another tweet saying network news licenses “must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked.” An NBC report about Trump reportedly wanting a tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal was what provoked his ire.
10.12 Trump signs executive order to unravel ObamaCare, bypassing Congress
10.11 Eminem wows BET Awards with “The Storm”: “That’s an awfully hot coffee pot Should I drop it on Donald Trump? Probably not But that’s all I got ’til I come up with a solid plot Got a plan, and now I gotta hatch it Like a damn Apache with a tomahawk I’ma walk inside a mosque on Ramadan And say a prayer that every time Melania talks She gets a mop–ahh, I’ma stop But we better give Obama props ‘Cause what we got in office now’s a kamikaze That’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust And while the drama pops and he waits for shit to quiet down He’ll just gas his plane up and fly around ’til the bombing stops Intensities heightened, tensions are rising Trump, when it comes to giving a shit, you’re stingy as I am Except when it comes to having the balls to go against me, you hide ’em ‘Cause you don’t got the fucking nuts like an empty asylum Racism’s the only thing he’s fantastic for ‘Cause that’s how he gets his fucking rocks off and he’s orange Yeah, sick tan, that’s why he wants us to disband ‘Cause he can not withstand The fact we’re not afraid of Trump Fuck walkin’ on eggshells, I came to stomp That’s why he keeps screamin’, ‘Drain the swamp’ ‘Cause he’s in quicksand It’s like we take a step forwards, then backwards But this is his form of distraction Plus, he gets an enormous reaction When he attacks the NFL so we focus on that Instead of talking Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada All these horrible tragedies and he’s bored and would rather Cause a Twitter storm with the Packers Then says he wants to lower our taxes Then who’s gonna pay for his extravagant trips Back and forth with his fam to his golf resorts and his mansions? Same shit that he tormented Hillary for and he slandered Then does it more From his endorsement of Bannon Support from the Klansmen Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that’s black And comes home from Iraq And is still told to go back to Africa Fork and a dagger in this racist 94-year-old grandpa Who keeps ignoring our past historical, deplorable factors Now, if you’re a black athlete You’re a spoiled little brat for tryna use your platform or your stature To try to give those a voice who don’t have one He says, ‘You’re spittin’ in the face of vets who fought for us, you bastards’ Unless you’re a POW who’s tortured and battered ‘Cause to him, you’re zeros ‘Cause he don’t like his war heroes captured That’s not disrespecting the military Fuck that, this is for Colin, ball up a fist And keep that shit balled like Donald the bitch ‘He’s gonna get rid of all immigrants’ ‘He’s gonna build that thing up taller than this’ Well, if he does build it, I hope it’s rock solid with bricks ‘Cause like him in politics, I’m using all of his tricks ‘Cause I’m throwing that piece of shit against the wall ’til it sticks And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his I’m drawing, in the sand, a line You’re either for or against And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split On who you should stand beside I’ll do it for you with this: ‘Fuck you!’ The rest of America stand up We love our military, and we love our country But we fucking hate Trump”
10.11 Robert Kagan in the Washington Post: “Rarely has a political party more deserved the destruction the Republican Party may be about to suffer at the hands of President Trump’s former strategist, ideological guru and onetime puppeteer Steve Bannon. It was obvious during the earliest days of the campaign that Trump never intended to be either the leader or the protector of the Republican Party. He had contempt for the party. For one thing, it was a proven loser. For another, it crumpled like stick figures under his steamroller. Who could respect people who fell so easily, and so willingly? Party leaders were especially contemptible in Trump’s eyes. They couldn’t even see what he was doing to them, or if they did, they were too cowardly to stop him. He had contempt for them when they tried to distance themselves from his racist, sexist and all around antisocial behavior. But he had even more contempt for them when they nevertheless came crawling back to him, again and again, pledging their fealty. He knew they came back not because they approved of him but because they feared him and the political following he commanded. He had stolen the hearts of their constituents, and therefore he owned them. He would use them as needed, and dispose of them when he could, knowing they could do nothing about it. “I saw them at Munich,” Hitler said of his British and French counterparts, whom he dubbed “little worms.”
10.11 Behind stout pitching from Sabathia, Robertson and Chapman, two homers from Gregorius, and Gardner‘s two epic 12 pitch at bats, the Yanks defeat Cleveland 5-2 and win the series. Nxt stop: Houston. Tom Verducci of SI: “The modern game is a brutally simple one. Home runs and power arms have knocked out subtlety, lessened the impact of our hallowed “little things” that for generations we liked to believe made the difference between winning and losing. It’s smashmouth baseball now. And nobody plays it better than the New York Yankees.”
10.10 His net approval (approval minus disapproval) on health care (-24 points), the economy (-10 points), national unity (-13 points) and immigration (-17 points) have dropped precipitously since he was elected. T
10.10 Charlie Cook: Given their current disarray, Republicans will need to fight hard to gain any new [Senate] seats, and losing one or two of their own seats would put their majority in jeopardy. The stakes are even higher in the House where their majority status is in real danger. The party needs to sublimate its divisions, get mainstream Republicans to the polls, and persuade the Trump base to cast ballot for non-Trump Republicans. That’s a tall order.
10.10 Weinstein allegations now include rape
10.10 “I think it’s fake news,” Trump said, “but if [Tillerson] did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”


10.9 New York Times: “The Russian campaign … appears to have been tailored to exploit the companies’ own strategies for keeping users engaged. Facebook, for example, pushed people to interact more in Groups like the ones set up by the Russians. The Russians appear to have insinuated themselves across American social media platforms and used the same promotional tools that people employ to share cat videos, airline complaints and personal rants. Boosted by Russian accounts, the material was quickly picked up by other American users of Facebook, spreading the posts to an even bigger audience. The Russian presence appeared to be layered throughout different platforms:
10.9 Steve Selenfriend: i can’t tell you how wonderful and engaging you biography of william b cushing is. i was just amazed by the depth of your research and your writing skill. you made it as if i was reading a novel or a movie script.
10.8 At Trump’s behest, Pence leave Colts-49ers game when players kneel during national anthem. Cost to tapayers tops a million
10.8 Senator Bob Corker: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”
10.8 The Weinstein Company board fired Harvey Weinstein
10.8 Harvey Weinstein: “My board is thinking of firing me. All I’m asking, is let me take a leave of absence and get into heavy therapy and counseling. Whether it be in a facility or somewhere else, allow me to resurrect myself with a second chance. A lot of the allegations are false as you know but given therapy and counseling as other people have done, I think I’d be able to get there.”
10.7 Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals recorded his second-consecutive hat trick and a total of 7 goals, becoming the first player to score hat tricks in the first two games of the season.
10.6 Princeton professor J. Richard Gott projects that the human race will go extinct: between 5,100 and 7.8 million years from now.
10.6 Trump: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”.
10.5 Amid allegations stretching over three decades, Harvey Weinstein has settled sexual harassment claims with at least eight women.
10.4 NBC: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time. The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said. Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting
10.8 Ginny and I had a lovely if humid weekend in south central Pennsylvania. In more-lively-than-we-remembered Gettysburg, we stayed at the grandish hotel right on Lincoln Square. In Hanover, we saw the home of the best potato chips on earth, and the product of a great Mad Men episode.
10.7 Tanaka twirls a gem, Bird homers, Yanks win 1-0.
10.6 An excruciating Yankee loss. After going up 8-3 against Cleveland’s ace Kluber, New York loses 9-8 in extra innings. Key moment: a hit-batter that loads the bases is revealed on replay to be a foul tip that would have ended the inning. But Girardi doesn’t call for a review. Lindor then hits a grand slam, turning the whole game around.
10.6 Times publishes expose revealing Harvey Weinstein as a serial harrasser who has engaged in at least eight settlements. Weinstein apologizes, claims to be making amends, announces that he will sue the Times anyway. “It’s gross, yeah,” says a lawyer.
10.5 “Do you know what this represents?” President Donald Trump asks photographers taking a group portait. “Could be the calm before the storm.” When asked to elaborate, he said: “You’ll find out.”
10.5 English author Kazuo Ishiguro wins the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.
10.5 Vanity Fair: Haberman’s signature is her preternatural ability to get lots of people telling her lots of things they probably shouldn’t be telling her. She’s regarded as the best-sourced reporter in Washington, the irony being that she only spends part of her time there, working largely out of her home turf in New York. She’s able not only to get inside the room with Trump, but to seemingly get inside his brain—to translate for the masses what he and the people around him at any given moment are thinking about the crisis or controversy du jour. That skill has made her incredibly valuable at a time when juicy, granular, inside-the-room dish has gained massive journalistic currency—Trump watching cable news in his bathrobe, Trump in a foul mood for this reason or that, and so on. “The larger story,” one of Haberman’s colleagues told me, “is the increasingly tabloid-y evolution of the mainstream political press. These stories are fun to read, they’re very of-the-moment, they’re made for Twitter. So I think Maggie’s success is very much part of that tabloid, Twitter-fied sensibility bleeding into the Times, entering the Times’s metabolism.”
10.5 EJ Dionne: “The United States is now a non-majoritarian democracy. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, that’s because it is. Claims that our republic is democratic are undermined by a system that vastly overrepresents the interests of rural areas and small states. This leaves the large share of Americans in metropolitan areas with limited influence over national policy. Nowhere is the imbalance more dramatic or destructive than on the issue of gun control.”
10.4 Washington Post: Former ambassador Eric S. Edelman concurs. “The press appearance was the most humiliating, degrading performance by a secretary of state that I have seen in my lifetime. He was clearly ordered by the White House to go out and lavish slavish praise on the president.” He points out that “Trump’s comment that Tillerson has refuted the story and NBC owes an apology is evidence” that Tillerson was ordered by the White House to go out there. Edelman adds, “His statement was actually the quintessence of the non-denial denial.”
10.4 NBC: Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.
10.4 Washington Post: New York gets 56 cents back for every dollar and California gets 64 cents. But states such as North Dakota, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana get more than two dollars back in federal spending for every dollar in taxes. (There are some outliers: New Mexico, which votes for Democrats, gets nearly $2.50 back for every dollar, while Nebraska and Ohio, both Republican, get back only about a half-dollar.)
10.4 Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal: “There is a sense that society is collapsing — the culture is collapsing. We’re collapsing in crime. The world is collapsing. Crazy people with bad haircuts have nukes. Everything is going bad — terrorism, etc. They want to be fully armed on their hill, at home. … They’re Americans, and they want to go down fighting.”
10.4 Joe Scarborough: “A lot of things brought us Trump. Maybe this is the net result of people … over the past 15 to 17 years … seeing one failure after the other: 1999, impeachment; 2000, the recount, where we can’t even elect a president the right way; 2001, 9/11; … 2002, WMDs; 2003, Iraq; 2005, Katrina; 2006, the meltdown in Iraq; 2008, the meltdown of the stock market. . . .Where confidence in this government has been shattered, … perhaps that’s what leads to the paranoia that you’re talking about. ‘They’re not going to protect me. … They’re not going to defend me. I’ve got to defend myself and my family.'”
10.3 Sen. John Thune on the prevalence of gun violence: “I think people are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions to protect themselves. And in situations like that, you know, try to stay safe. As somebody said — get small.”
10.3 Yankees bet Twins 8-4 in the American League wild card game, New York’s first post-season win in five years. Sports Illustrated: “Before the game the Twins spoke in hypotheticals—“hopefully,” they said over and over. They talked about enjoying the experience and how proud they were to have come this far. “We’ll see what happens,” second baseman Brian Dozier said 30 hours before first pitch. The Yankees were considerably less impressed. “I do plan on winning the game,” Gardner said. And in the end, that was the difference. The Twins wanted to win on Tuesday. The Yankees expected to.”
10.3 Trump in Puerto Rico yesterday: “Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe, like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s sever seen anything like this. … You can be very proud.” The death toll in Puerto Rico is 36; Florida 26; Houston 50; Katrina, 1833
10.2 Spoke at the Robert E. Lee Civil War Round Table in Woodbridge NJ. An alert, book-buying crowd!
10.2 Jimmy Kimmel:
“The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a number of other lawmakers who won’t do anything about this because the NRA has their balls in a money clip also sent their thoughts and their prayers today which is good,” Kimmel said. “They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country because it is — it is so crazy.”
10.2 Tom Petty dies at 66. Bob Dylan: “It’s shocking, crushing news. I thought the world of Tom. He was great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”
10.1 59 killed, more than 500 injured in mass shooting in Las Vegas
10.1 Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook: “Tonight concludes Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews when we reflect on the past year and ask forgiveness for our mistakes. For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness and I will try to be better. For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better. May we all be better in the year ahead, and may you all be inscribed in the book of life.”

SEPTEMBER 2017 “GET THAT SON OF A BITCH OFF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW!”


9.30 Washington Post: “[A]s storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages[,] Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves. Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night [9 days ago] to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally. Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis. Administration officials would not say whether the president spoke with any other top officials involved in the storm response while in Bedminster, N.J. He spent much of his time over those four days fixated on his escalating public feuds with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with fellow Republicans in Congress and with the National Football League. Even though local officials had said publicly as early as Sept. 20, the day of the storm, that the island was ‘destroyed,’ the sense of urgency didn’t begin to penetrate the White House until Monday, when images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration’s response — began to appear on television. Trump’s public schedule Monday was devoid of any meetings related to the storm, but he was becoming frustrated by the coverage he was seeing on TV. At a dinner Monday evening with conservative leaders at the White House, Trump opened the gathering by briefly lamenting the tragedy unfolding in Puerto Rico before launching into a lengthy diatribe against Sen. John McCain. Trump’s rosy assessment of the federal response has … contrasted sharply with the comments of federal officials on the ground.”
9.29 Lt. Gen. Jay Silvera of the US Air Force Academy: “Just in case you’re unclear on where I stand on this topic, I’m going to leave you my most important thought today: If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone from another gender, whether that’s a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can’t treat someone from another race, or different color skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. . . .Reach for your phones. I’m serious: Reach for your phones. … Grab your phones. I want you to videotape this — so that you have it, so that you can use it, so that we all have the moral courage together.” Then he said: “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”
9.27 Michael Rosenberg in si.com: t’s almost certainly over for Pitino now. He is 65 and leaving in disgrace from Louisville, a place with an astoundingly high disgrace tolerance. When the NCAA dusts off its rulebook and hammers the Cardinals again, it will surely hit Pitino with a show-cause penalty, keeping him off the court for a few more years. Even in the swamp of college sports, it’s hard to envision Pitino cleaning himself up enough to get another big-time job. He has gone from the coach everybody wanted to hire to the guy nobody will touch.
9.27 Hugh Hefner dies at 91. One of the most influential men of the 20th century. He changed the world to fit his vision; then the world kept changing, until he was left out.
9.27 Trump: “The NFL is in a box, a really bad box. In my opinion, the NFL has to change or their business is going to go to hell.”
9.27 Garrison Keillor: “Roy Moore‘s triumoh is a ray of sunshine for those of us who’d like to restore stoning to our legal system.”
9.26 Judge Roy Moore beats Senator Luther Strange in GOP Primary in Alabama.
9.26 King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a historic royal decree Tuesday granting Saudi women the right to drive
9.26 Senate Republicans scrap vote to repeal ObamaCare after McConnell, Trump fail to get support needed
9.26 Michael Gerson in The Washington Post: This is a sobering historical moment. America has a racial demagogue as president. We play hail to this chief. We stand when he enters the room. We continue to honor an office he so often dishonors. It is appropriate but increasingly difficult.
9.25 Kurt Andersen in the Times on the future of magazines: “Magazines might eventually gain a cult following akin to the interest around other obsolete media, like vinyl records. Eventually, they’ll become like sailboats. They don’t need to exist anymore. But people will still love them, and make them and buy them.”
9.25 Sen. Collins announces that she will vote against Graham-Casserly, marking the third time the GOP’s attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare has met defeat this summer.
9.25 With two homers, Aaron Judge sets the record for home runs as a rookie with 50.
9.25 Steve Coll in The New Yorker, “Never before have two leaders in command of nuclear arsenals more closely evoked a professional wrestling match”
9.25 Sarah Sanders at White House briefing: “We’ve not declared war on North Korea.”
9.25 North Korea’s foreign minister said Trump “declared war on our country” when he threatened last week to “totally destroy” North Korea
9.24 National Review: “ [W]hile peevishness and carping are effete, magnanimity is manly and disarming. Manliness is a much derided concept these days … Some men aspire to it but bluster, miss the mark, and end up being catty instead. It’s called Twitter. In contrast, competition on the court can still be uplifting.”
9.24 Mike Murphy in Quartz: “The most impressive thing Apple has shown off in 2017, the year that was supposed to be its most impressive in a decade, was a $5 billion campus. Much like everything else the company released this year, the campus seemed to favor form over functionality.”
9.24 Angela Merkel wins a fourth term as German chancellor.
9.24 Terry Bradshaw: “It’s hard to believe that I’m going to say something about the most powerful man in the greatest country in the world, but probably like a lot of you, I was somewhat surprised that the President—the President of the United States came out attacking NFL players for them exercising the Freedom of Speech. While I don’t condone the protesting during our National Anthem, THIS IS AMERICA! If our country stands for anything, folks, what—it’s freedom. People died for that freedom. I’m not sure if our president understands those rights—that every American has the right to speak out, and also to protest.”
9.24 Dozens of NFL players demonstrated by taking a knee during the national anthem on Sunday following President Donald Trump’s criticism on Friday against athletes that kneel. The Seattle Seahawks sat out the anthem, while the Pittsburgh Steelers also stayed off the field. The owner of the Jaguars, who is a Trump donor, linked arms with his players and called the president’s remarks “divisive.” Other woners joined the players. Trump, insisting his criticism had nothing to do with race, called for an NFL boycott to stop the protests.
9.24 Governor Cuomo and Jennifer Lopez raise money for Puerto Rico
9.24 Carlos Lozada in the Washington Post: Trump displays signs of “extreme present hedonism,” the tendency to live in the moment without considering consequences, seeking to bolster one’s self-esteem no matter the risk. Or he exhibits “narcissistic personality disorder,” which includes believing you’re better than others, exaggerating your achievements and expecting constant praise. Combine hedonism, narcissism and bullying, and you get “an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of the tyrant,” Philip Zimbardo (of the famous Stanford prison experiment) and Rosemary Sword write. Others suggest that Trump shows indications of sociopathy, including lack of empathy, absence of guilt and intentional ma­nipu­la­tion. Put it all together and you have “malignant narcissism,” which includes antisocial behavior, paranoid traits, even sadism.
9.22 Trump, at a campaign rally in Alabama: at a campaign rally in Alabama, could not have been clearer, or cruder: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” Also: “15 yards, throw him out of the game! They had that last week — I watched for a couple of minutes. And two guys — just really beautiful tackle. Boom: 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him — they’re ruining the game.”Right? They’re ruining the game. Hey look, that’s what they want to do. They want to hit, OK? They want to hit. But it is hurting the game.”

SEPTEMBER 2017: “THE MENTALLY DERANGED US DOTARD”

9/23 Cara finishes the Hamptons Half Marathon in 2:34.
9.22 John McCain says he won’t vote for Graham-Cassidy bill, dealing a potential death blow to the GOP’s latest health care repeal effort
9.22 David Ignatius column in the Washington Post: “If we see Kim as a regional threat, rather than a global one, then perhaps the right response is an intelligence strategy that begins with the reality of his split with China. [S]ometimes it’s less costly to bribe an adversary than to go to war. What blandishments would get Kim to agree to halt his testing program? Is there a ‘freeze’ option, as suggested by Robert Einhorn of the Brookings Institution, that would stop escalation, prevent proliferation and stabilize the situation — but leave denuclearization for the distant future?”
9.22 Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: he bill eliminates the ACA’s guarantee of affordable health insurance for people with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer. State officials would be able to let insurers charge whatever they wanted to the infirm and the elderly — and also could let insurers reinstitute lifetime caps on coverage. In practice, this means that the old and the sick could be priced out of the insurance market. And it means that those who are insured but have expensive ailments could see their coverage expire after a certain dollar amount had been paid in benefits.At first glance, this looks like a gigantic gift to the insurance industry. But the powerful lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans came out strongly against the bill Wednesday, saying it “would have real consequences on consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market.” The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association opposes the measure as well, saying it would “increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.”
9.22 Catherine Rampell in the Post: Of all the god-awful Obamacare-repeal-and-replace plans that Republicans have proposed, Cassidy-Graham might be the god-awfulest. It’s definitely the most cowardly. Republicans spent nine months fighting over how to repeal Obamacare without shafting the poor and enraging voters, and they failed.”
9.21 Meet with Gov. “Does Jamie Malanowski still work here?”
9.21 Fareed Zakaria in the Post: Trump is tired of being the world’s leader. He whined in his speech that other countries are unfair in their dealings with the United States, and that somehow the most powerful nation in the world, which dominates almost every international forum, is being had. His solution, a return to nationalism, would be warmly welcomed by most of the world’s major players — Russia and China, but also countries such as India and Turkey — which tend to act on the basis of their narrow self-interest. Of course, that will mean a dramatic acceleration of the post-American world, one in which these countries will shape policies and institutions, unashamedly to their own benefit rather than any broader one.Trump grumbled about the fact that the United States pays 22 percent of the U.N.’s budget, which is actually appropriate because it’s roughly equivalent to America’s share of global GDP. Were he to scale back U.S. support, he might be surprised how fast a country like China will leap in to fill the gap. And once it does, China will dominate and shape the United Nations — and the global agenda — just as the United States has done for seven decades.
9.21 Kim Jong Un: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,”
9.21 Kim Jong Un: “Far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors. A frightened dog barks louder.”
9.21 Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaign
9.20 Jimmy Kimmel on CNN: Oh, I get it, I don’t understand because I’m a talk-show host, right? Well, then help me out! Which part don’t I understand? Is it the part where you cut $243 billion from federal health-care assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would be allowed to let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having preexisting conditions? Maybe I don’t understand the part of your bill in which federal funding disappears completely after 2026? Or maybe it was the part where the plans are no longer required to pay for essential health benefits like maternity care or pediatric visits? Or the part where the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, ALS, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the March of Dimes, among many others, all vehemently oppose your bill? Which part of that am I not understanding?”
9.20 Lawrence O’Donnell: “Stop the hammering!”
9.20 Neil deGrasse Tyson on CNN: “Fifty inches of rain in Houston. This is a shot across our bow. A hurricane the width of Florida going up the center of Florida. These are shots across our bow. What will it take for people to recognize that a community of scientists are learning objective truths about the natural world and that you can benefit from knowing about it? . . . The longer we delay, the more–I worry we might not be able to recover from this because our greatest cities are on the oceans and water’s edges historically for commerce and transportation and as storms kick in, as water levels rise they are the first to go and we don’t have a system, we don’t have a civilization with the capacity to pick up a city and move it inland 20 miles. This is happening faster than our ability to respond. That could have huge economic consequences
9.20 George Will in the Washington Post: Americans should consider how, if at all, to respond to “cheap speech.” That phrase was coined 22 years ago by Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School. Writing in the Yale Law Journal (“Cheap Speech and What It Will Do”) at the dawn of the Internet, he said that new information technologies were about to “dramatically reduce the costs of distributing speech,” and that this would produce a “much more democratic and diverse” social environment. Power would drain from “intermediaries” (publishers, book and music store owners, etc.) but this might take a toll on “social and cultural cohesion.”Volokh anticipated today’s a la carte world of instant and inexpensive electronic distributions of only such content as pleases particular individuals. Each person can craft delivery of what MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte called (in his 1995 book “Being Digital”) a “Daily Me.” In 1995, Volokh said that “letting a user configure his own mix of materials” can cause social problems: Customization breeds confirmation bias — close-minded people who cocoon themselves in a cloud of only congenial information. This exacerbates political polarization by reducing “shared cultural referents” and “common knowledge about current events.”Technologies that radically reduce intermediaries and other barriers to entry into society’s conversation mean that ignorance, incompetence and intellectual sociopathy are no longer obstacles. One result is a miasma of distrust of all public speech. Although Volokh leans libertarian, what he foresaw — “the demassification of the mass media” — led him to conclude: “The law of speech is premised on certain (often unspoken) assumptions about the way the speech market operates. If these assumptions aren’t valid for new technologies, the law may have to evolve to reflect the changes.” He warned about what has come about: odious groups cheaply disseminating their views to thousands of the like-minded. Nevertheless, he stressed the danger of letting “government intervene when it thinks it has found ‘market failure.’ ”

9.20 Big Doings in the Office on Wednesday. Governor Cuomo hosted Governors Brown of California and Inslee of Washington and former Secretary of State John Kerry too announce that the US Climate Alliance–, a growing coalition of 14 states and Puerto Rico committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – are collectively on track to meet and possibly exceed their portion of U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement.
9.20 Hurricane Maria knocks out power to all of Puerto Rico
9.19 Trump at the UN: “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime. No one has shown more contempt for their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. If the righteous men do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph, No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.”
9.19 Times of London: The worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided, senior scientists have said after revising their previous predictions. The world has warmed more slowly than had been forecast by computer models, which were “on the hot side” and overstated the impact of emissions, a new study has found. Its projections suggest that the world has a better chance than previously claimed of meeting the goal set by the Paris agreement on climate change to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.”
The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, makes clear that rapid reductions in emissions will still be required but suggests that the world has more time to make the changes.
9.19 Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post: None of what happened should have happened. And it is a mistake to blame Clinton’s character flaws, Trump’s mastery of Twitter or the media’s compulsion to chase every bright, shiny object. Something much bigger and deeper was going on. My view is that the traditional left-to-right, progressive-to-conservative, Democratic-to-Republican political axis that we’re all so familiar with is no longer a valid schematic of American political opinion. And I believe neither party has the foggiest idea what the new diagram looks like.
9.19 Jimmy Kimmel: “This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied to my face. We can’t let him do this to our children and our senior citizens and our veterans or to any of us. I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to. “There’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. It’s called the lie-detector test. You’re welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.”
9.19 7.1 EARTHQUAKE IN CENTRAL MEXICO KILLS 217
9.18 Trump lawyers Cobb and Dowd have a loud conversation at BLT Steakhouse that is overheard by a NYTimes reporter
9.18 “The number of hate crimes rose across the United States in 2016, marking the first time in over a decade that the country has experienced consecutive annual increases in crimes targeting people based on their race, religion, sexuality, disability or national origin,” according to data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
9.18 Max Boot in Foreign Policy: Rex Tillerson is proving to be quite possibly the most ineffectual secretary of state since America’s rise to global prominence in 1898.
9.18 James Hohmann in the Washington Post: To keep her failure in perspective, Clinton thought instead about how good she still has it compared to Fantine in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.”
9.18 Ta-Nehini Coates: “Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist,” Coates notes. “But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.”
9.17 Jack Goldsmith in The Atlantic: We have never had a president so ill-informed about the nature of his office, so openly mendacious, so self-destructive, or so brazen in his abusive attacks on the courts, the press, Congress (including members of his own party), and even senior officials within his own administration. Trump is a Frankenstein’s monster of past presidents’ worst attributes: Andrew Jackson’s rage; Millard Fillmore’s bigotry; James Buchanan’s incompetence and spite; Theodore Roosevelt’s self-aggrandizement; Richard Nixon’s paranoia, insecurity, and indifference to law; and Bill Clinton’s lack of self-control and reflexive dishonesty.
9.16 Wall Street Journal: “According to a January report from the U.S intelligence community, the highest levels of the Russian government were involved in directing the electoral interference to boost Mr. Trump at the expense of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. “Russia’s tactics included efforts to hack state election systems; infiltrating and leaking information from party committees and political strategists; and disseminating through social media and other outlets negative stories about Mrs. Clinton and positive ones about Mr. Trump, the report said.”

SEPTEMBER 2017: “BIGGEST MISTAKE IN MODERN POLITICAL HISTORY”


9.15 Explosion at London’s Parsons Green tube station
9.14 The Indians win their 22nd consecutive game
9.14 California lawmakers late Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would require presidential candidates to make their tax returns public before appearing on the state’s ballot.
9.14 Chuck and Nancy say they cut a deal with Trump to save DACA
9.14 The US has more female bartenders than male ones.
9.14 Ben Thompson in Stratechery: “[E]verything is aligned around Apple being the Apple Jobs envisioned: a company that shows its “appreciation to the rest of humanity [by making] something wonderful and put[ting] it out there.” By making the best products Apple earns loyal customers willing to pay a premium; loyal customers give Apple both freedom to make large scale changes and also a point of leverage against partners like carriers and developers. And then, the resultant profits lets Apple buy the small companies and do the R&D to create the next set of products.”
9.13 Robert Samuelson in the Post: “For years, the black unemployment rate has been roughly double the white rate, and that relationship hasn’t fundamentally changed. In August, the black unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, almost exactly twice the white rate of 3.9 percent.’’
9.13 Press Release: “TIME Editor-in-Chief Nancy Gibbs is stepping down after 32 years at the brand, including four years at its helm,”
9.13 Bernie Sanders proposes a single payer plan
9.13 Following Facebook posts in which convicted swindler Martin Shkreli put a bounty on Hillary Clinton’s hair, a federal judge declared the loudmouth former drug company exec to be a “danger to society,” and ordered him jailed.
9.13 Bill and Melinda Gates warned that the world will miss its development goals. The Gates Foundation said that even under optimistic scenarios, incidences of poverty, maternal and child mortality, child underdevelopment, HIV, and tuberculosis will exceed the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals targets in 2030. Melinda Gates said she was particularly worried about US president Donald Trump’s proposed cuts of US funding for global family-planning programs.
9.13 JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon says bitcoin is “worse than tulip bulbs,” the most famous asset bubble in history.
9.13 John McCain on Vietnam: “Their leaders didn’t lead, whether they were military or civilian. By telling the American people one thing, which was not true, about the progress in the war and the body counts, it caused a wave of pessimism to go across this country, which bolstered the antiwar movement. We can learn lessons today because the world is in such turmoil: Tell the American people the truth!”
9.13 A monstrous fatberg is blocking a London sewer. At 130 metric tons (143 tons), the mass of congealed fat, oil, wipes, and other debris is as heavy as a blue whale.
9.13 Katy Tur in Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History,: “Before I know what’s happening, his hands are on my shoulders and his lips are on my cheek. My eyes widen. My body freezes. My heart stops.” Immediately after Trump kissed her, Tur hoped no one saw it. “Fuck,” she wrote. “I hope the cameras didn’t see that. My bosses are never going to take me seriously.”
9.13 Howard Dean on young voters: “These people are not Democrats. They’re very independent-minded. They don’t like politics. And they mistrust institutions.”
9.12 Eliot A. Cohen in The Atlantic:“ In short, foreign leaders may consider Trump alarming, but they do not consider him serious. They may think they can use him, but they know they cannot rely on him. They look at his plans to slash the State Department’s ranks and its budget—the latter by about 30 percent—and draw conclusions about his interest in traditional diplomacy. And so, already, they have begun to reshape alliances and reconfigure the networks that make up the global economy, bypassing the United States and diminishing its standing.’’
9.12 After @tedcruz liked a porn tweet, Sen. Ted Cruz blamed ‘a staffing issue’
9.11 Jemele Hill of ESPN: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
9.11 A nervous Sergio Dipp makes his MNF debut
9.11 N.Y. Times columnist David Leonhardt: “Extreme rainstorms are up more than a third since the early 1980s. The main reason these storms seem to be more frequent is global warming. Gabriel Vecchi of Princeton compares warmer air to a bigger bucket: It can carry more water from oceans then dump that water on land.”
9.11 Russian politician Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Duma, said on live TV that U.S. “intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States.”
9.11 George Clooney on Steve Bannon: “a schmuck who literally tried everything he could to sell scripts in Hollywood.” Bannon famously wrote a screenplay for a rap musical update of Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” titled “The Thing I Am.”“It’s like a rap Shakespearean thing about the LA riots. It’s the worst script you’ve ever read,” Clooney said of Bannon’s creation. “But he was trying to get it made in Hollywood. And had he, he would still be in Hollywood making movies and kissing my ass to make one of his films. That’s who he is.”
9.11 The most important modern milestone is secondhand knowledge to a fifth of the country.
9.10 Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker in The Washington Post: “In business, his personal life, his campaign and now his presidency, Trump has sprung surprises on his allies with gusto. His dealings are frequently defined by freewheeling spontaneity, impulsive decisions and a desire to keep everyone guessing — especially those who assume they can control him. He also repeatedly demonstrates that, while he demands absolute loyalty from others, he is ultimately loyal to no one but himself. … Foreign diplomats euphemistically describe the president as ‘unpredictable.’”

9.10 In the wee small hours, Hurricane Irma makes landfall in the Florida keys
9.10 In a “60 Minutes” interview that was posted online Sunday night, Steve Bannon was asked whether he considered Jim Comey‘s dismissal the biggest mistake in political history. Bannon responded, “That probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history.” He went on to acknowledge that if Comey had not been let go, it’s unlikely that the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller would have been established. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel, yes,” he said. “We would not have the Mueller investigation. We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for.”
9.9 Sloane Stephens becomes the second unseeded woman to win the US Open after Kim Clijsters in 2009.
9.9 Axios: “We can’t overstate the level of despair among Republicans. One person very close to Republican leadership told us: “He accepted a shakedown when he was holding all the cards. … This is quite literally a guy who watches ‘ER’ trying to perform a surgery.”
9.8 For the first time since 1981 at the US Open, all four semifinalists are American.
9.8 Axios: After suggesting Hurricane Irma is fake news manufactured in a massive conspiracy to boost ratings and businesses and push a liberal climate change agenda, Rush Limbaugh fled his Palm Beach mansion to escape the fake-ish hurricane.
9.8 John McCain: “I have no way of divining his motives. I’m a pretty intelligent guy, but I don’t understand this.”
9.8 A breach at Equifax exposes the personal information of millions.
9.8 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: Trump won white women (+9) and white men (+31). He won white people with college degrees (+3) and white people without them (+37). He won whites ages 18–29 (+4), 30–44 (+17), 45–64 (+28), and 65 and older (+19). Trump won whites in midwestern Illinois (+11), whites in mid-Atlantic New Jersey (+12), and whites in the Sun Belt’s New Mexico (+5). From the beer track to the wine track, from soccer moms to nascardads, Trump’s performance among whites was dominant.

9.8 In Oregon, Golfers continues play as wildfires rage nearby
9.7 Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post: We are living in an age of revolutions, natural and human, that are buffeting individuals and communities. We need government to be more than a passive observer of these trends and forces. It needs to actively shape and manage them
9.7 Cabinet retreat at Bear Mountain
9.7 Graydon Carter announces that he is leaving Vanity Fair
9.6 In a surprising blow to his own party’s congressional leadership, Trump struck a deal with Democrats to package nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief with a three-month extension of government funding and increase in the debt ceiling.
9.6 Trump sides with Chuck and Nancy on raising the debt ceiling
9.6 Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it had found that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on thousands of U.S. ads promoting divisive social and political messages in a two-year-period through May. Facebook, the dominant social media network, said 3,000 ads and 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages spread polarizing views on topics including immigration, race and gay rights. Another $50,000 was spent on 2,200 “potentially politically related” ads, likely by Russians, Facebook said. U.S. election law bars foreign nationals and foreign entities from spending money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. Non-U.S. citizens may generally advertise on issues. Other ads, such as those that mention a candidate but do not call for the candidate’s election or defeat, fall into what lawyers have called a legal gray area.
9.6 Esther Perel in The Atlantic: Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, yet this extremely common act remains poorly understood. Around the globe, the responses range from bitter condemnation to resigned acceptance to cautious compassion to outright enthusiasm. In Paris, the topic brings an immediate frisson to a dinner conversation, and I note how many people have been on both sides of the story. In Bulgaria, women seem to view their husbands’ philandering as unfortunate but inevitable. In Mexico, women proudly see the rise of female affairs as a form of social rebellion against a chauvinistic culture that has long made room for men to have “two homes,” la casa grande y la casa chica—one for the family, and one for the mistress. Infidelity may be ubiquitous, but the way we make meaning of it—how we define it, experience it, and talk about it—is ultimately linked to the particular time and place where the drama unfolds.
9.6 Proceedings of Royal Society B: when wild dogs in Botswana sneeze, they aren’t merely clearing their nasal passages. They are actually voting on whether to go hunting, and some dogs are especially successful at moving the group with just a few sneezes.
9.6 John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse: “Americans do not like gerrymandering. They see its mischief, and absent a legal remedy, their sense of powerlessness and discouragement has increased, deepening the crisis of confidence in our democracy. We share this perspective. From our vantage point, we see wasted votes and silenced voices. We see hidden power. And we see a correctable problem.”
9.6 Barack Obama: “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. … Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.”
9.5 Investigators for MLB have determined that the Red Sox executed a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents’ catchers in games against the second-place Yankees and other teams,
9.5 Stephen Colbert tweet: Repealing DACA in order to MAGA is a load of CACA..
9.5 The Daily News is sold for $1
9.5 Sessions announces that DACA will come to a close
9.5 Margaret Sullivan in Washington Post: “Facebook … has never acknowledged the glaringly obvious — that it is essentially a media company, where many of its 2 billion active monthly users get the majority of their news and information. Would Donald Trump be president today if Facebook didn’t exist? Although there is a long list of reasons for his win, there’s increasing reason to believe the answer is no.”
9.1 James Fallows in The Atlantic: Many people who knew or worked with Kukula Glastris described her as “the kindest” or “the most generous” person they had known. It’s a big world, and titles like that can be contested. But I’ve never met anyone whose combination of personal goodness, plus intellectual and professional abilities, exceeded Kukula’s.’’

AUGUST 2017: “THE PRESIDENT SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF”


8.31 John McCain: Our entire system of government — with its checks and balances, its bicameral Congress, its protections of the rights of the minority — was designed for compromise. It seldom works smoothly or speedily. It was never expected to. It requires pragmatic problem-solving from even the most passionate partisans. It relies on compromise between opposing sides to protect the interests we share. We can fight like hell for our ideas to prevail. But we have to respect each other or at least respect the fact that we need each other. That has never been truer than today, when Congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct. We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.”
8.31 WashPost weather editor Jason Samenow: “Harvey is a 1,000-year flood event unprecedented in scale.”
8.31 While rates of condom use and vasectomy have held steady since 2002, the rate of men who say they use withdrawal, or the so-called pull-out method, has increased from about 10 percent in 2002 to 19 percent by 2015, according to a new study published by the National Center for Health Statistics. [Efficacy remains the same.]
8.29 Harvey sets a rainfall record with 49.32 inches of rain, with more to come
8.29 Kukula Glastris dies at 59.
8.28 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.”
8.27 Rex Tillerson On “Fox News Sunday,” Tillerson became the second top Trump official in three days to distance himself on-record from Trump’s Charlottesville response: Tillerson: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.” Chris Wallace: “And the president’s values?” Tillerson: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.” Wallace: “Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” Tillerson: “I’ve made my own comments as to our vales as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”
8.27 The domestic box office, made up of the US and Canada, marked its lowest turnout of the century with 7.5 million tickets sold during the weekend of Aug. 25, Box Office Mojo estimated. The last time attendance was that low was during World War II,
8.27 Defense Secretary James Mattis to US Troops: “It’s good to see you all out here, young men and women. For those of you that I haven’t met, my name’s Mattis. I work at the Department of Defense, obviously. … And thank you for being out here, OK? I know at times you wonder if anybody knows … The only way this great big experiment you and I call America is going to survive is if we got tough hombres like you. …You’re a great example for our country right now. It’s got a few problems. You know it and I know it. It’s got problems that we don’t have in the military. And you just hold the line, my fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines. Just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other, and showing it — of being friendly to one another, you know, that Americans owe to one another.”
8.26 Quartz: Today Amazon is a titan of e-commerce, logistics, payments, hardware, data storage, and media. It dabbles in plenty more industries. It’s the go-to site for online shoppers and merchants alike, a modern necessity that independent sellers love to hate. Prime, Amazon’s signature $99-a-year membership program, has an estimated 85 million subscribers in the US, equivalent to about two-thirds of American households. To even call it an e-commerce company feels completely inadequate. Behind every Amazon business decision is the “flywheel” philosophy. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos borrowed the term from business consultant Jim Collins back in the early days of Amazon. It describes a cycle in which a company cuts prices to attract customers, which increases sales and attracts more customers, which allows the company to benefit from economies of scale (bundling together logistics and other routine costs), until, ultimately, the company can cut prices again, spinning the flywheel anew.
8.26 Doug Andres, a Ryan spokesman, said in a statement on Arpaio: “The speaker does not agree with this decision. Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”


8.26 Dinner at Xavier’s X20
8.25 Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio
8.25 Gary Cohn: “This administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities. I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position. As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post … because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks. Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK,”
8.25 Hurricane Harvey wallops Texas
8.25 Wind River
8.24 Jay Thomas dies at 69. Funny guy, funny actor. I once played touch football with him and Glenn O’Brien and some other guys in the street in front of Bobby Guccione Jr.’s mother’s house in Teaneck NJ. Now that’s a sentence you don’t get to write every day.
8.23 Trump: “Believe me,if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
8.22 David Ignatius on Trump’s Afghanistan policy on “Morning Joe”: “There’s very little enthusiasm for this policy … in the Pentagon, but … not a single person there, really, can bear the thought of walking away.”
8.21 Jonathan Swan in Axios: “Would President Hillary Clinton or President Marco Rubio have given a different speech? Maybe in some of the rhetorical flourishes and framing, but the substance is what matters and Trump sided with the national security establishment tonight. It was the language of populist nationalism used to sell a very mainstream, consensus, national security strategy.”
8.21 Breitbart News: A “flip-flop”
8.21 Laura Ingraham: “Who’s going to pay for it? What is our measure of success? We didn’t win with 100K troops. How will we win with 4,000 mor
8.21 Washington Post: “Seven months into President Trump’s reign, the elites are striking back. From Wall Street to West Palm Beach and West Hollywood, the past week has been a turning point, perhaps even a tipping point. Since Trump abdicated his moral leadership after Charlottesville, the well-connected have used their leverage — like checkbooks and celebrity — to send a message about what truly makes America great. The growing number of groups canceling galas, stars boycotting ceremonies and chief executives resigning from advisory boards is further isolating Trump. People in his orbit say the president has been in a sour mood about all of this. He stormed the barricades, but now he’s the one under siege. Unlike most of the criticism he’s engendered since taking office, the past week has actually impacted his bottom line. The value of the Trump “brand,” which he once said is worth billions, has taken a bath since he declared that some “fine people” were protesting alongside the neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the University of Virginia.
8.21 Total eclipse of the sun
8.20 Dinner with Greg and Susan
8.20 Logan Lucky with Ginny and Cara
8.20 Jerry Lewis dies at 91
8.20 Dick Gregory dies at 82.

AN UNDESERVED MONUMENT, AN OVERDUE GOODBYE

When I was a boy, when I was very interested in the Civil War. I can’t say why, exactly, but at that time, it was an easy interest to feed. The centennial of the war had begun, and there was a constant flow of features in newspapers and magazines, .shows on television, and movies, and toy gun and toy soldiers and trading cards with gaudy, blood-splashed illustrations of battle carnage. My parents indulged my interest; we lived in Baltimore, and on many Sundays, we went on day trips to pretty nearly anyplace that had a cannon and a plaque: We visited Gettysburg, Antietam, Bull Run, Harper’s Ferry and Fredericksburg more than once. And certainly not for any influence from my parents or family or teachers, I was a fan—that’s the only word that works—of the rebels.

As best as I can discern, I attribute that attraction, in part, to art. In particular, two pieces of art.

One is a painting that appeared in Life magazine. The issue that appeared on January 6, 1961 was dedicated to the centennial, and one of the features was a portfolio of pantings and illustrations executed by contemporary artists of impressive moments in the war. Several paintings really made an impression on me, including a painting depicting the battle of New Market in 1864. For having looked at the painting a million times, it’s a shame that I do not know the artist. IN that battle, cadets from the Virginia Military Academy took the field and defeated the Yankee forces. Although I’m sure I could not have articulated my reasons at the time, I was strongly drawn to the painting. Now the reasons are easier to identify: the heroic flag bearer, the determined boys to his left and right with bayonet and sword, and the cackling triumphant ecstasy of the laughing boy with the bandaged head and unbuttoned blouse. In a war filled with beards, I’m sure their youth wordlessly appealed to my eight year old self.

The other piece of art is a monument to Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

In Baltimore, there is a large park, called Wyman Park. It’s not literally in the physical center of town, but it does occupy a place of prestige; it sits amid a pretty brownstone neighborhood, and along its border sits such institutions as Johns Hopkins University, Union Memorial Hospital, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. In that park sat (until last week) a large impressive statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on horseback. Double equestrian statues are uncommon, and this one, sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser, is really quite brilliant. It captures Lee and Jackson on the eve of the battle of Chancellorsville, their greatest triumph. Fraser did a great job depicting the generals’ roles: Lee is still, solid, calm, implacable, unyielding; Jackson is in motion, the thunderbolt ready to strike. Often when we had to venture to downtown Baltimore, my father would make it a point to drive along one edge of Wyman Park, so that we could pass the large, dramatic statue. Even before I really knew anything about the battle or the stakes, I knew those men must have done something heroic.

My emotional attraction for that statue has never entirely disappeared; I suppose it is some kind of learned response, but in later years I would always feel a frisson of excitement on those rare moments when I would see it. My feelings about Lee and Jackson, however, changed dramatically. Long ago I stopped viewing them as a heroes.

Both of these men had admirable qualities. Lee, dignified, dutiful, aristocratic, was a strong commander who took chances and delivered victories. As the confederacy’s fortunes ebbed, Lee became the essential man on whom the Confederacy’s viability depended. Long after the defeats mounted and the civilian authorities lost credibility, Lee’s integrity held the army together, and by 1864, the army was the confederacy. Jackson, too, inspired the south; a deeply religious Christian and dedicated family men, he used daring tactics to win improbable victories. At home and at war, he became a reflection of the way the south saw itself– gritty, unconquerable, blessed by God. But even as generals, the men were not perfect. Jackson did not perform well in the battles on the Peninsula, nor at Antietam. And long before ordering the disastrous charge at Gettysburg, Lee showed a penchant for frontal attacks which bled his men. After the war, both figured prominently in “what if. . ?” scenarios that envision paths to an eventual Confederate victory. It is nonsense. There was no chance of a different outcome. The South never had a chance to win the war, and the best efforts of Lee and Jackson only fed the fantasy that victory was possible. And on top of everything–and at the root of everything–they served an immoral cause and a dishonorable regime.

I never questioned why the statues were standing in Wyman Park. Baltimore long had the reputation as a northern city in a southern state, and that seems to be true. Certainly southern Maryland was always very southern. During the war itself, slavery was legal in Maryland, but there were more free blacks in Baltimore than slaves. And despite pro-souther sentiments, Maryland did not quite succeed in seceding. About 30,000 Maryland fought for the south; more than twice that number remained pro-union. The funds for the sculpture came from J. Henry Ferguson, the banker who organized the Colonial Trust Company. In his will, he left specific instructions for a monument to Lee and Jackson, his childhood heroes, which was gifted to the City of Baltimore. Ferguson died in 1928. Fraser began work on the sculpture in 1936; it was dedicated in 1948.

I don’t know enough about Ferguson to doubt his stated motives, nor to gauge his feelings about race or integration. But it is true that the statue’s commission and dedication coincides with a period when many confederate statues were erected throughout the United Stated, and particularly in the south. This sentiment, moreover, coincided with efforts to deny black aspirations and progress, and to support the cause of white supremacy.

In 2016, a plaque was placed in front of the statues which sought to provide some context. It pointed out that during the same period that this monument was installed, Baltimore City continued to enforce racial segregation housing ordinances and deed covenants, continued to support segregation policies in public spaces and programs, and unequally funded African American school budgets, infrastructure improvements, and public programs.

On August 16th, the statues were removed.

Long ago, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “When I was a child,” he wrote, “I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.”

And so goodbye to childish things. Good riddance.