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.

AUGUST 2017: “VERY FINE PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES”


8.18 Bannon is out. Upon leaving, he told The Weekly Standard “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” he told the Weekly Standard on Friday. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over.” Also: “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
8.18 DeMarcus Cousins of the New Orleans Pelicans on confederate statues: “Take all them motherfuckers down.”
8.17 Senator Bob Corker: “The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today, and he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that.”
8.17 A car attack in Barcelona killed 13 and injuring scores more. ISIS took credit.
8.17 James Murdoch: “I’m writing to you in a personal capacity, as a concerned citizen and a father. … [W]hat we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people. These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation. I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.”
8.17 Trump: ”Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments​,” he wrote in a series of tweets. ​​”You​ ​can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! “​ ​He continued: ​”the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!​
8.17 Senator Tim Scott: “I’m not going to defend the indefensible…[Trump’s] comments on Monday were strong. His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong. What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happened. There’s no question about that.”
8.17 Mike Allen in Axios: Trump started with a pretty clean slate but has methodically alienated: The public: Gallup has his approval at 34%, down from 46% just after the inauguration; Republican congressional leaders — Senate Majority Mitch McConnell in particular; Every Democrat who could help him do a deal; The media;
CEOs; World leaders; Europe; Muslims; Hispanics; African Americans; Military leaders; The intelligence community; His own staff.
And who’s happy? Steve Bannon. Saudi Arabia. Breitbart. David Duke.
Be smart: The presidency is a lonely job. But Trump is unusually isolated because he thinks he needs no one besides himself. As one of his most ardent defenders told me: “He’s just not as good as he thinks he is. And no one can tell him.”
8.16 The Presidents Bush: “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”
8.16 Howard Fineman in HuffPo: “Having risen to power by dividing the country, his party leadership and even, at times, his own campaign team, [Trump’s] aim now is to divide or discredit any institution, tradition or group in his way, Trump seems perfectly willing to destroy the country to maintain his own power. … The goal, as always with Trump, is to win amid the chaos he sows, to be the last man standing in rubble. And ‘winning’ is rapidly being reduced to the raw, basic terms he prefers: brute survival.”
8.16 Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer: “They tried to kill my child to shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her.”
8.16 Howard Fineman in HuffPo: Donald Trump seems perfectly willing to destroy the country to maintain his own power. He is racing to undermine the federal political system — if not all American public life — before still-independent forces (for now, the federal courts, the press and Congress) undermine him. The goal, as always with Trump, is to win amid the chaos he sows, to be the last man standing in rubble. And “winning” is rapidly being reduced to the raw, basic terms he prefers: brute survival. With a record-setting low approval rating, world crises everywhere and a special counsel on his tail, the main victory he can hope for is staying in office.It’s not only an emotional imperative for Trump, it’s a deliberate ― and thus far successful ― strategy. I am told by lawyers familiar with special counsel Robert Mueller’s methods and those of similar investigations that Mueller almost certainly obtained the president’s federal tax returns long ago. Whether Trump knows that directly or not, he has to assume it — and be driven wild by it. The counsel also has assembled an industrial-strength team of experts in international money-laundering, criminal tax fraud and forensic accounting. So the survival urge is more urgent.
8.16 Spoke to the Phil Kearney Roundtable of Northern New Jersey
8.16 Art of the Deal co-author Tony Schwartz : Trump‘s presidency is effectively over. Would be amazed if he survives till end of the year. More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner. The circle is closing at blinding speed. Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and congress leave him no choice.
8.16 Jon Meecham on Charlie Rose: “The fires of hate burn the brightest when there are moments of economic and social stress. Reconstruction was that kind of moment. The beginning of the institution of Jim Crow into the 1890s. … You have these moments when some part of the white population, frankly, feels alienated and dispossessed. And the reality of 2017 is … globalization and its discontents. The changing demography of the country. The changing idea that Information Age brains matter more than Manufacturing Age brawn. … That’s part of the reason Donald Trump is president …And so on the racial question, with all respect and affection to my friend [and fellow panelist], Reverend [Al] Sharpton, it is not a dog whistle if everybody can hear it. And I think that’s where we are right now. … I think that you have these moments where the extremes — the hate, the people who are giving Nazi salutes after we have spent so much blood and treasure trying to liberate the world from the form of tyranny — … it’s an extreme manifestation of an underlying reality.”

8.16 Baltimore removes four Confederate statues
8.15 Sen. Lindsey O. Graham: “I don’t believe Trump colluded with the Russians, because I don’t believe he colludes with his own staff.”
8.14 Washington Post: This city known for its rain just went a record-breaking 55 days without any. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had not measured any precipitation since June 18 until the wee hours of Sunday morning, when it drizzled. Barely. Some sprinkles also allowed Portland to break its own 57-day dry streak.Climate change is leading to more extreme weather, and no other region has experienced that so much over the last year as the Pacific Northwest. Seattle got 44.9 inches of rain between Oct. 1 and April 30, the wettest such period ever. That means, even with the record dry streak, 2017 remains above normal for rainfall.
8.14 Steve Bannon: “This past election, the Democrats used every personal attack, including charges of racism, against President Trump. He then won a landslide victory on a straightforward platform of economic nationalism. As long as the Democrats fail to understand this, they will continue to lose. But leftist elites do not value history, so why would they learn from history?”
8.14 Charles Krauthammer to Laura Ingraham: “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.”
8.14 HuffPo: President Donald Trump spoke again Tuesday on the white supremacist conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, defending his much-criticized initial statement on the protests and offering an even stronger critique of demonstrators and the causes they fought for during the violent weekend gathering During remarks at Trump Tower, the president blasted protesters “on both sides” of the conflict in Charlottesville, echoing his initial statement that there was hatred “on many sides.” “You had a group on one side who was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,” Trump said, referring to white supremacists, anti-fascists known as “antifa” and counterprotesters who converged in Charlottesville over the weekend. “You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.”“You have people who are very fine people on both sides,” Trump said.
8.14 Washington Post: President Trump denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name Monday, declaring racist hate groups “repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans,” as he sought to tamp down mounting criticism of his response to the killing of a counterprotester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend.
“Anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” Trump said in brief remarks to reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, where he returned after a week of vacation in Bedminster, N.J. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.” Trump added: “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans.” The statement came two days after the president failed to specifically condemn the white supremacist rally during which a woman was killed and as many as 19 wounded by a driver who reportedly espoused racist and pro-Nazi sentiments and had taken part in the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville. Trump, who met Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, reiterated that the Justice Department has launched a civil rights probe into the death of Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio slammed into a group of counterprotesters.On Saturday, Trump condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” sparking sharp criticism from Democrats, civil rights proponents and some Republicans for failing to single out and condemn the white supremacists who sparked the violence.
8.14 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: President Trump, for all his bluster and outward aggression, is a weak man. He eventually backs down when circumstances are right. For example: He hasn’t fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He hasn’t fired special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. He signed the Russia sanctions bill. He fired Michael Flynn (and seems to have regretted it ever since). He reaffirmed our support for NATO. He signed a budget resolution without funding for the wall. He did not withdraw from NAFTA. He now has singled out for condemnation the KKK, neo-Nazis and white nationalists. We do not know if a certain combination of advisers prevailed upon him to do what he had so strenuously rejected. What is clear is that his position with his base is weakening and his overall polling numbers are still sinking. He hit a new low in Gallup at 34 percent approval and new high in disapproval of 61 percent. He therefore may be amenable to even more pressure going forward. So what “works” with him? First, he would rather bully aides into leaving (e.g., Sessions) than take the initiative to remove them himself. If the victim of his bullying ignores him and keeps plugging away, Trump very well may back down. Second, when it’s hopeless to resist (e.g., a veto on Russia would have been overridden) he’ll relent. Third, when many Republicans are on the other side he usually does not have the wherewithal to persist in a ridiculous position. In the case of Charlottesville, even allies such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) singled out and denounced the white supremacist groups. When they are divided or egging him on (e.g., trade restrictionism, a commission to investigate non-existent, massive voter fraud, leaving the Paris climate agreement), he is much more likely to pursue his wrongheaded, even ridiculous position. Four, when he doesn’t have to explain, answer questions or concede he backed down he is more likely to go along with the party. He had no signing statement for the Russia sanctions; he took no questions on Charlottesville Monday. Remember, protecting his ego is his constant task, hearing that he “lost” is unbearable.
8.14 John Podhoretz in the New York Post: This was not a mistake on Trump’s part. This was a deliberate communications choice. It has a discomfiting parallel with the now-forgotten moment one week after Trump’s swearing in when his administration issued a statement on Holocaust remembrance that did not mention Jews.
8.14 Bitcoin hit a new high. The cryptocurrency surged to over $4,000this weekend. As global geopolitical tensions rise, bitcoin is acting like a disaster hedge, much like gold. It’s also moving into the mainstream:
8.13 Sen. Orrin Hatch “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
8.13 Rich Lowry on Meet the Press: “[T]his was a moment … where the president could’ve elevated himself. Instead, he came up small. And that’s one of the reasons … you’ve seen such a premium on the statements from other Republicans on moral clarity, given the president’s ambiguity.”
8.12 What Happened in Charlottesville: Over the weekend, clashes between protesters at a white supremacist rally turned deadly: A man drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people, and two state troopers died in a helicopter crash while policing the protests. President Trump drew heavy criticism for his first response to the events, which blamed “many sides” for the violence—and while he eventually issued an explicit condemnation of the white supremacists who ignited the conflict, he may have failed a crucial test with his initial reluctance to do so. More rallies are scheduled for next week, and their outcome will signal whether the movement is gaining strength.
8.11 Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games
8.10 The Atlantic: Richard Reeves and Isabella Sawhill, researchers at the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families, believe that highly educated women have had the smallest marriage decline, in large part, because they remade marriage into a more appealing institution. These educated, economically independent women now demand men who are interested in more equitable partnerships. “In the past, highly educated women faced an unenviable choice between accepting a patriarchal marriage or forgoing marriage and children entirely,” Reeves and Sawhill write. “Now they are able to raise their children within a stable marriage without compromising their independence.” Such unions are focused on “high-investment parenting” (HIP), rather than romance, sex or money.
8.10 Former Senator Gordon Humphrey: “Donald Trump is impaired by a seriously sick psyche. His sick mind and reckless conduct could consume the lives of millions. The threat of nuclear war is steeply on the rise. You must not take comfort in the system of checks and balances. The president alone has the authority to launch nuclear weapons, the only restraint being the advice of senior advisers who might be present at the time of crisis, and Donald Trump has shown repeated contempt for informed and wise counsel. He is sick of mind, impetuous, arrogant, belligerent and dangerous. Donald Trump should be relieved of the powers of the presidency at the earliest date.

AUGUST 2017 “THIS DEAL WILL MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A DOPE!”

8.11 President Trump said that he will not rule out “military action” against Venezuela.
8.11 Trump: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
8.9 North Korea threatened to attack the US territory of Guam just hours after President Trump warned of “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if threats from Pyongyang continued.
8.9 ​Taylor Swift, testifying in her lawsuit against Denver DJ David Mueller for “a devious and sneaky act” in which he grabbed “a handful of my ass” at a 2013 meet-and-greet: “It was a definite grab, a very long grab. He stayed latched on to my bare ​as​s ch​eek as I moved away from him visibly uncomfortable.”
8.9 Joshua Keating in Slate: “Trump, on the other hand, draws red lines like a kid set loose with a crayon on an Applebee’s place mat, threatening rivals from Mexico to China to congressional Democrats with dire consequences that rarely materialize.”
8.9 Evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress: “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
8.9 Richard Haass: “Potus’s words (fire and fury) [were] counterproductive as it will raise doubts around the world and at home about his handling of the situation when all the attention and criticism ought to be placed on NK.”
8.8 Fiona the hippo will be getting her own book.
8.8 Donald Trump: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
8.4 Trump transcripts of calls with world leaders are leaked to the Washington Post. “Trump tried to pressure Mexican president on wall,” by Greg Miller: “[I]n his first White House call with Mexico’s president, Trump described his vow to charge Mexico as a growing political problem, pressuring the Mexican leader to stop saying publicly that his government would never pay. ‘You cannot say that to the press,’ Trump said repeatedly. Trump to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “This is a killer … This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible. … I look like a dope.”
8.7 Mike Tanier on Blecher Report: “What does Cutler bring to the Dolphins? Tremendous pure passing talent. A degree of dedication normally associated with a substitute teacher earning extra cash until his ska band breaks big.”
8.6 Eric Schmitt in the New York Times: “After more than a decade spent fighting Islamic insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Army is scrambling to relearn Cold War-era skills to confront potential threats from Russia here in Eastern Europe, territory formerly defended by the Soviet Army.”
8.4 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: Confederate’s creators don’t seem to understand—the war is over for them, not for us. At this very hour, black people all across the South are still fighting the battle which they joined during Reconstruction—securing equal access to the ballot—and resisting a president whose resemblance to Andrew Johnson is uncanny. Confederate is the kind of provocative thought experiment that can be engaged in when someone else’s lived reality really is fantasy to you, when your grandmother is not in danger of losing her vote, when the terrorist attack on Charleston evokes honest sympathy, but inspires no direct fear. And so we need not wait to note that Confederate’s interest in Civil War history is biased, that it is premised on a simplistic view of white Southern defeat, instead of the more complicated morass we have all around us.
8.4 Franklin Foer in The Atlantic: “Makers of magazines and newspapers used to think of their product as a coherent package—an issue, an edition, an institution. They did not see themselves as the publishers of dozens of discrete pieces to be trafficked each day on Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Thinking about bundling articles into something larger was intellectually liberating. Editors justified high-minded and quixotic articles as essential for “the mix.” If readers didn’t want a report on child poverty or a dispatch from South Sudan, they wouldn’t judge you for providing one. In fact, they might be flattered that you thought they would like to read such articles.
Journalism has performed so admirably in the aftermath of Trump’s victory that it has grown harder to see the profession’s underlying rot. Now each assignment is subjected to a cost-benefit analysis—will the article earn enough traffic to justify the investment? Sometimes the analysis is explicit and conscious, though in most cases it’s subconscious and embedded in euphemism. Either way, it’s this train of thought that leads editors to declare an idea “not worth the effort” or to worry about whether an article will “sink.” The audience for journalism may be larger than it was before, but the mind-set is smaller.”
8.4 The Economist: “There are no good options to curb Kim Jong Un. But blundering into war would be the worst. If military action is reckless and diplomacy insufficient, the only remaining option is to deter and contain Mr Kim. Mr Trump should make clear — in a scripted speech, not a tweet or via his secretary of state—that America is not about to start a war, nuclear or conventional. However, he should reaffirm that a nuclear attack by North Korea on America or one of its allies will immediately be matched. Mr Kim cares about his own skin. He enjoys the life of a dissolute deity, living in a palace and with the power to kill or bed any of his subjects. If he were to unleash a nuclear weapon, he would lose his luxuries and his life. So would his cronies. That means they can be deterred.”
8.4 George Will in the Washington Post: “Trump is something the nation did not know it needed: a feeble president whose manner can cure the nation’s excessive fixation with the presidency.”
8.4 A company called Yandy is making lingerie based on the Harry Potter books
8.4 Mueller has impaneled a grand jury
8.4 Jean M. Twenge in The Atlantic: “The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.” “[T]he allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009. “Today’s teens are also less likely to date. The initial stage of courtship, which Gen Xers called ‘liking’ (as in ‘Ooh, he likes you!’), kids now call ‘talking’— an ironic choice for a generation that prefers texting to actual conversation. After two teens have ‘talked’ for a while, they might start dating. But only about 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; for Boomers and Gen Xers, the number was about 85 percent.””The decline in dating tracks with a decline in sexual activity.”
8.3 Steve Rattner on Morning Joe: “”Trump has talked a lot about a resurgence of confidence. And it’s true that several measures of optimism – particularly among business, which would be the principal beneficiary of his policies — turned up after his election. But at least one key measure — consumer expectations — has been dropping since February (along with his public opinion approval ratings.)””
8.3 Quartz: Previous studies have found that as many as a third of Americans are lonely, and that 18% of UK adults felt lonely “always” or “often”
8.3 Axios: “A slew of reports finds a fresh reason for the chronic inability of American companies to fill skilled jobs: not a lack of skills, and hence a training-and-education crisis, but a surfeit of drug abuse, per the NYT’s Nelson Schwartz. Simply put, prime-working age Americans without a college diploma are often too drugged-out to get the best jobs. Opioids remain at high levels, but the surge in drug use is now heroin and the powerful contaminant fentanyl.”
8.2 Senator Jeff Flake in Conscience of a Conservative: “We now have a far-right press that too often deals in unreality and a White House that has brought the values of Robert Welch into the West Wing. As a certain kind of extremism is again ascendant in our ranks, we could do well to take a lesson from that earlier time. We must not condone it. We must not use it to frighten and exploit the base. We must condemn it, in no uncertain terms.” As an homage, Flake titled his book “Conscience of a Conservative” — the name of Goldwater’s seminal work. He mostly wrote the 140-page manifesto in secret. He did not even tell some of his advisers that he was working on it lest they try to talk him out of putting these ideas on paper. “I feel compelled to declare: This is not who we are,” the senator writes. “Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, ‘Someone should do something!’ without seeming to realize that that someone is us. … The question is: Will enough of us stand up and wrest it back before it is too late? Or will we just go along with it, for our many and varied reasons? Those are open and unresolved questions. … This is not an act of apostasy. This is an act of fidelity.”

JULY 2017: “IF IT’S WHAT YOU SAY, I LOVE IT”


7.31 Now Scaramuci is out!
7.31 Paul Krugman in the Times: “The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism — that is, during the very era anti-Trump conservatives now point to as the golden age of conservative thought.A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying — or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth.”
7.31 Sam Shepard dies a 73
7.31 Matthew Continenti in the Times: “Mr. Trump has more in common with Jimmy Carter. Neither president had much governing experience before assuming office (Mr. Trump, of course, had none). Like Mr. Carter, Mr. Trump was carried to the White House on winds of change he did not fully understand. Members of their own parties viewed both men suspiciously, and both relied on their families. Neither president, nor their inner circles, meshed with the tastemakers of Washington. And each was reactive, hampered by events he did not control.If President Trump wants to avoid Mr. Carter’s fate, he might start by recognizing that a war on every front is a war he is likely to lose, and that victory in war requires allies. Some even live in the swamp.”


7.31 James Hohmann in the Washington Post: “Trump’s die-hard supporters see themselves as members of what counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has taken to calling “the Oct. 8th coalition.” These are the people who steadfastly stood by Trump last fall on the day after The Washington Post published a videotape of him boasting crudely about being able to get away with groping women because he’s a celebrity. When Trump ousted Reince Priebus on Friday, a senior White House official explained that the president has questioned the depth of his chief of staff’s loyalty ever since that day. Trump has often noted that Priebus, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, suggested that he drop out of the race when the 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview emerged. The senior official told my colleagues that Priebus’s advice was “a stain he was never going to remove: The scarlet ‘A.H.’” But make no mistake: Being a member of the “Oct. 8th coalition” does not actually ensure that the president will have your back.Just ask the “beleaguered” Jeff Sessions.”
7.31 Jeanne Moreau dies at 89. The Guardian: “While Bardot did the dippy blonde sex bomb thing, Moreau was as sharp as cold air and mercilessly clever.”
7.30 Mike Allen in Axios: “If the President doesn’t see a quick turnaround under General Kelly, he’ll be out of excuses: That will mean it’s him.”
7.30 Quoted in Axios, Maggie Haberman told the “Longform Podcast” that President Trump is “some version of Harold [and] the Purple Crayon.” It’s a children’s book about a boy named Harold who has a purple crayon and the power to create his own world by drawing it. “[Trump] is drawing his own reality and he wants you to kind of follow him down that path,” Haberman says. “In his view, all reality is subjective and it can be kind of twisted and played with.”
7.30 Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair: “If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is a downside to knowledge. It makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.”
7.30 Jimmy Carter in 1979: Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.”
7.30 From the Times‘ obituary of luthier Bill Collings: “Success is succession, over and over and over, and it comes from failure,” he said. “Failure, failure, failure — knowing that if you stop, you’re done.”
7.30 Book of Mormon last night with Ginny, Molly, Cara and Shawn. It had it’s moments, but the South Park boys have never been to my taste. Oddly, on Sunday Morning, I saw a clip of Groucho Marx talking to Dick Cavett. “That’s too easy, that kind of laugh.” said the master. “Anybody can say something dirty and get a laugh. But to say something clean and get a laugh–that requires a comedian!” Exactly.
7.29 According to WashPo, Priebus was once summoned by President Trump to the Oval Office to kill a fly.
7.29 Van R. Newkirk II in The Atlantic: “McConnell had created a legislative process so convoluted that he ended up asking his party to vote for a law that they didn’t want to actually become law. And they almost did. If not for a late switch from Arizona Senator John McCain and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s ability to withstand withering pressure from the White House and her fellow senators, the skinny repeal would have passed, and the House would have been under no obligation whatsoever to amend it. Although McConnell’s gambit failed, the real story might be what almost was: Faced with the real possibility of knowingly passing an Obamacare “repeal” into law that only would have destabilized markets and sloughed more people off coverage, and would have met none of their stated policy goals to reduce premiums and make insurance work better for patient, Republicans almost caved. The incentive to do anything to destroy Obamacare, even while damaging their own party, leaving millions uninsured, and “owning” the fallout, was almost too great.”
7.28 Trump before an audience of law-enforcement officials: ““When you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see ’em thrown in — rough — I said please don’t be too nice,” Trump said. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know? The way you put your hand — like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody? Don’t hit their head? I said, you can take the hand away, okay.”
7.28 Priebus canned
7.28 Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal: “The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity. Half his tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.” The President’s primary problem as a leader isn’t that he is brash and stupid, “It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity. He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen. It was once said, sarcastically, of George H.W. Bush that he reminded everyone of her first husband. Trump must remind people of their first wife.”

7.28 The Times of London: “He went to bed on Wednesday a very wealthy man. He woke up yesterday and became the richest person in the world — for about three hours.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was worth $90.6 billion after the company’s shares opened 1.6 per cent higher in advance of its earnings report. This added $1.4 billion to his fortune, putting him $500 million ahead of Bill Gates. By the time the markets closed, however, the shares had dipped by 0.6 per cent and Mr Bezos’s fortune to $89.8 billion. This meant that he did not make it to the top of Bloomberg’s chart.”
7.28 Daniel Hoffman in the Times: The evidence that has emerged from this meeting strongly suggests that this was not an effort to establish a secure back channel for collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign but an influence operation with one simple objective: to undermine the presidential election.
7.27 Washington Post: Republicans’ seven-year quest to wipe out President Obama‘s Affordable Care Act came to a crashing halt around 1:30 this morning, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) shockingly bucked his party and voted against a scaled-down repeal bill that emerged as the Senate’s last-ditch effort. It’s now clear that replacing Obamacare — or even repealing small parts of it — may be forever a pipe dream for President Trump and the GOP, whose deep divisions over the U.S. health-care system proved unbridgeable in the end. Gasps broke out around the Senate chamber early this morning as McCain walked to the dais and uttered “no” on the “skinny repeal” bill. Two other Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — had already opposed it, making McCain the third GOP no vote and the senator to ultimately sink the measure.


7.27 Ryan Lizza quoting Anthony Scaramucci in The New Yorker: “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ” (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.) Scaramucci was particularly incensed by a Politico report about his financial-disclosure form, which he viewed as an illegal act of retaliation by Priebus. The reporter said Thursday morning that the document was publicly available and she had obtained it from the Export-Import Bank. Scaramucci didn’t know this at the time, and he insisted to me that Priebus had leaked the document, and that the act was “a felony.” “I’ve called the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice,” he told me. “Are you serious?” I asked. “The swamp will not defeat him,” he said, breaking into the third person. “They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to work. I’ve done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves.” Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.) He reiterated that Priebus would resign soon, and he noted that he told Trump that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign against him. “He didn’t get the hint that I was reporting directly to the President,” he said. “And I said to the President here are the four or five things that he will do to me.” His list of allegations included leaking the Hannity dinner and the details from his financial-disclosure form. I got the sense that Scaramucci’s campaign against leakers flows from his intense loyalty to Trump. Unlike other Trump advisers, I’ve never heard him say a bad word about the President. “What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the President’s agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people,” he told me.
7.27 John McCain: “The President’s tweet … regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter. … There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military—regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are.”
7.27 Frank Rich in New York magazine: At this juncture the priorities of Donald Trump have winnowed down to a single agenda item: saving himself and his family from legal culpability for their campaign interactions with the Russians and their efforts to cover up those transactions ever since. Almost everything this president does must be viewed through this single lens. If you do so, you’ll find his actions usually make sense.
7.27 New York Post: A new sex robot that can speak, smile and even sing – all with the push of a button – will hit shelves next year.
7.26 Trump: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
7.26 Jenna Johnson in The Washington Post: “To Trump, this part of America is still covered with ‘rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape’ … [But] some of the largest employers in the Youngstown area are local governments, Youngstown State University, and a major hospital and health-care companies that would likely suffer under the GOP’s proposed cuts. [Now], those living in Youngstown and its suburbs are worried about health care, the schools … the opioid crisis … the care of military veterans, and the region’s overall economy — access to full-time, good-paying jobs in place of the ones their parents and grandparents once had in the mills.”
7.26 Axios: Sperm count falling sharply in Western world — Reuters: “Sperm counts in men from America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have dropped by more than 50 percent in less than 40 years … [Researchers] said the rate of decline is not slowing. Both findings … pointed to a potential decline in male health and fertility. … ‘This study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world.'”
7.25 Washington Post: “Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99% of the brains donated by families of former NFL players (110 of 111) showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease.”
7.25 Trump: ‘I think, with few exceptions, no president has done anywhere near what we’ve done in his first six months. . . With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president who has ever held this office.’”
7.25 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “The president’s 36-year-old son-in-law … explained his repeated lapses — he had to amend one disclosure form three times — by saying, essentially, that he was new to politics and so terribly busy that he couldn’t keep up with everything. And he used the hoariest excuse of all: He blamed his assistant. … A ‘miscommunication’ led his assistant to file his form prematurely. He said he omitted not only meetings with Russians, but ‘over one hundred contacts from more than twenty countries.’ And this is supposed to help him? … He’s essentially arguing that he isn’t corrupt — he’s just in over his head. … Why is a man of such inexperience in charge of so much?”
7.25 Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post: “If not evidence of malicious deception, the story reveals a young man who is in over his head and out of his depth to such a degree that he does not know he is in over his head and out of his depth. The thought of summoning people who actually knew what was going on, checking with the administration as to the background of people with whom he was communicating or showing healthy skepticism about the people who were approaching him never occurred to him? Possible, but what a damning alibi.”
7.25 Greg Sargent in The Washington Post: “What Trump Jr.’s email chain showed is that the campaign jumped at the chance to collude, even if it ended up not happening at that meeting. Recall that Trump Jr.’s original statement covered up the real reason for the meeting, and that President Trump himself reportedly signed off on that initial false statement, which means the president actively participated in an effort to mislead the country about his own campaign’s eagerness to collude with Russia to help him win. Kushner’s statement offers nothing to challenge these underlying facts. It just separates him from them.”
7.25 Julia Ioffe in The Atlantic: “Taken together, the Trump Jr. emails and Kushner’s statement. . . describe a search, a process of poking and testing, of trying to find a pressure point or an opening. This is consistent with the intelligence on the Russians’ election-meddling effort, which has been described as a multi-pronged and opportunistic one. ‘The Russians had a line of, say, 1,000 ways to attack,’ an intelligence official told me recently. ‘They don’t need all of them to get through. Just a few are enough.’”
7.25 David French in National Review: “ Here we are, six months into his first term, and aside from the Judge Gorsuch nomination, meaningful conservative victories have been few and far between. Scandals and self-inflicted wounds abound. Planned Parenthood is still funded, Obamacare is still alive, and tax reform is still mainly a pipe dream. Trump has proven that he can and will blow up any and all news cycles at will. He’s proven that he sees loyalty as a one-way street: “You’re for me, and I’m for me.” No matter your record of previous support or friendship, you must do what he wants or face his public wrath. Yet still the GOP wall holds. Already Republicans have proven their capacity to defend conduct they’d howl about if the president were a Democrat. Trump has lost a campaign chair, national-security adviser, and foreign-policy adviser as a result of deceptions or problematic ties to Russia and its allies. His campaign chair, son, and son-in law took a meeting with Kremlin-linked Russian officials in furtherance of a professed Russian-government plan to help him win. He impulsively shared classified information with the Russian ambassador to Washington. He fired FBI director James Comey, unquestionably misled America about his reason for doing so, and trashed Comey’s reputation in front of our Russian foes. He and his team have made so many false statements about Russia that an entire cottage industry of YouTube videos exists to chronicle them. One must ask: Is there a line that Trump can’t cross? Does the truth matter, or will the GOP act as his defense attorneys all the way to the bitter end? It’s safe to say that not one Republican officeholder ever thought they’d be defending conduct like Trump’s. It’s also safe to say that not one ever thought they’d do so for such meager political gains. Nor could they have imagined fearing mean presidential tweets or crude presidential insults. Yet here we are. Trump commands his legions, and GOP careers seemingly hang in the balance. Call me pessimistic, but we’re moving toward a political reality where GOP silence and loyal GOP defenses may lead Trump to believe he can do virtually anything and escape accountability. The GOP is enabling his worst instincts. Because of its current capitulations, the GOP may find itself facing a president truly out of control, willing to do or say anything to escape meaningful scrutiny or accountability.’’
7.24 Jared Kushner, after speaking to Congress: ‘Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.’
7.24 Washington Post: In 47 states, a smaller part of the population now approves of Trump than voted for him. The 17 states in which he is at or above 50 percent yield only 99 electoral votes
7.23 Historian Thomas Fleming dies at 90. “You are what we used to call a magazine man.”
7.23 Lawrence Tribe in The Washington Post: “The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.”
7.23 Dunkirk, with Ginny, Molly, Cara, Shawn, Greg, Cathy and Tim. Underwhelming! The cinematic qualities were incredible, and the pleasures of seeing Spitfires and Messserschmidts careening across the sky were thrilling. But in an effort to be unconventional, the storytelling missed the mark. The story of the people’s evacuation wa all but lost. The film’s emotional climax lacked emotion. Disappointing.
7.23 Chuck Schumer: “When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself.”
7.23 Anthony Scaramucci on Face the Nation,” on health care: “I don’t know if he’s going to get what he wants next week. But he’s going to get what he wants eventually. Because this guy always gets what he wants. OK? What I know about President Trump is that … he’s got very, very good karma.”
7.21 Sean Spicer quits
7.21 Maggie Haberman to David Remnick: “I think that he has an amazing belief in his own ability to will what he thinks into reality. And I think that he thinks of reality as something that is subjective. So I think that what people characterize as ‘he’s out of touch’ or ‘he’s not understating this’ or ‘he seems off,’ or whatever — I think he has an amazing capacity to try to draw the world as he wants it.”
7.21 Pollster Geoff Garin writes a memo criticizing the new Democratic message: “[T]he Democratic policies related to curbing excessive corporate power that are being highlighted in the first day of the rollout have real resonance with voters and are strongly supported by a significant majority of Americans. The agenda’s big idea: “Too many families in America today feel that the rules of the economy are rigged against them. Special interests have a strangle-hold on Washington — from the super-rich spending unlimited amounts of secret money to influence our elections, to the huge loopholes in our tax code that help corporations avoid paying taxes.” “If the government goes back to putting working families first, ahead of special interests, we can achieve a better deal for the American people that will raise their pay, lower their expenses, and prepare them for the future.”


7.21 Axios: Mueller is taking “a broad view, an expansive view of his mandate,” going back at least a decade … Bloomberg scoops that Mueller “is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates.” FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.” “The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”
7.20 OJ Simpson paroled after serving nine years for armed robbery
7.20 Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says he has “verbal” approval from the federal government to build an ultrafast “hyperloop” tube train on the East Coast.
7.20 The Atlantic: Japan’s population is shrinking. For the first time since the government started keeping track more than a century ago, there were fewer than 1 million births last year, as the country’s population fell by more than 300,000 people. The blame has long been put on Japan’s young people, who are accused of not having enough sex, and on women, who, the narrative goes, put their careers before thoughts of getting married and having a family. But there’s another, simpler explanation for the country’s low birth rate, one that has implications for the U.S.: Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy. In a country where men are still widely expected to be breadwinners and support families, a lack of good jobs may be creating a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they—and their potential partners—know they can’t afford to.
7.20 Senator John McCain is diagnosed with a brain tumor
7.20 President Trump spoke on Wednesday with three New York Times reporters — Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman — in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office. The following are excerpts from that conversation, transcribed by The Times.

He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.
HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.
TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.
_________
TRUMP: We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner.
[crosstalk/garbled]
HABERMAN: You must have been so tired at, by that point.
TRUMP: Yeah. It was beautiful. We toured the museum, we went to Napoleon’s tomb …
[crosstalk]
TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled]
[crosstalk/unintelligible]
TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.
[crosstalk]
But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.
So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.
_________

TRUMP: So anyway, in my opinion, [Comey] shared it so that I would think he had it out there.
SCHMIDT: As leverage?
TRUMP: Yeah, I think so. In retrospect. In retrospect. You know, when he wrote me the letter, he said, “You have every right to fire me,” blah blah blah. Right? He said, “You have every right to fire me.” I said, that’s a very strange — you know, over the years, I’ve hired a lot of people, I’ve fired a lot of people. Nobody has ever written me a letter back that you have every right to fire me.
[crosstalk]
BAKER: Do you think in hindsight, because of what’s happened since then——
TRUMP: Comey wrote a letter.
HABERMAN: Which letter?
SCHMIDT: To you? To the F.B.I. staff or to you?
TRUMP: I thought it was to me, right?
BAKER: I think he wrote it to the staff, saying——
TRUMP: It might have been——
BAKER: That “the president has every right to fire me.”
TRUMP: It might have been. It was just a very strange letter to say that.
BAKER: But do you think in hindsight, given that——
TRUMP: What was the purpose in repeating that?
BAKER: Do you think what’s given that——
TRUMP: Do you understand what I mean? Why would somebody say, “He has every right to fire me,” bah bah bah. Why wouldn’t you just say, “Hey, I’ve retired …”
[crosstalk]
TRUMP: It was very — a lot of people have commented that.
BAKER: Given what’s happened since then, though, was it a political mistake to have fired him, given what’s happened?
TRUMP: I think I did a great thing for the American people.
_________
TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.
BAKER: Was that a mistake?
TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.
HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?
TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.
HABERMAN: Rosenstein.
TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

7.19 The Big Sick with Cara at the Burns.
7.18 Last night, the White House confirmed that while President Trump was at the G20 summit, he had a second, undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
7.17 Two more Republican senators declared on Monday night that they would oppose the Senate Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, killing, for now, a seven-year-old promise to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
7.17 Jamie Dimon, the oft-genial C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, on an earnings call. “I’m going to be a broken record until this gets done. We are unable to build bridges, we’re unable to build airports or industries. School kids are not graduating. I was just in France. I was recently in Argentina. I was in Israel. I was in Ireland. We met with the prime minister of India and China. It’s amazing to me that every single one of those countries understands that practical policies that promote business and growth is good for the average citizens. Somehow [in] this great American free enterprise, we no longer get it. We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet. It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country.”
7.16 Shepherd Smith to Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace: “It’s pilin’ up. … We’re still not clean on this, Chris. If there’s nothing there — and that’s what they tell us: They tell us there’s nothing to this and nothing came of it, there’s a nothingburger, it wasn’t even memorable, didn’t write it down, didn’t tell you about it, because it wasn’t anything so I didn’t even remember it — with a Russian interpreter in the room at Trump Tower? If all of that, why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie? … The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling. And there are still people who are out there who believe we’re making it up. And one day they’re gonna realize we’re not and look around and go: Where are we, and why are we getting told all these lies?”
7.15 Quartz: “Increasingly, empathy will be treated as a luxury. We’ll pay more for a real human whose job is to understand us just as we are. As with bespoke shoes, artisanal coffee, or handmade clothes, we’ll shell out a premium for financial services, medical care, and even companionship that isn’t machine-made. Normally it’s the rich who benefit first from new technology; the irony of the AI revolution is that the rich will be those who can afford to benefit last.”
7.14 Paul Krugman in the Times: Previous iterations of Trumpcare were terrible, but this one is, incredibly, even worse.
7.14 David Brooks in the Times: “I don’t think moral obliviousness is built in a day. It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a person’s mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing … It took a few generations of the House of Trump, in other words, to produce Donald Jr.
7.14 Charles Krauthammer in Washington Post: “Bungled collusion is still collusion”: “This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. … [T]he Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.”
7.13 Vox: The more important things we can remember in a given time period, the more we assume a greater amount of time has passed. “In general, it seems that passage-of-time judgments are strongly affected by the number and ‘intensity’ of ‘events’ that have occurred in a time period,” John Wearden, a psychologist and author of The Psychology of Time Perception, says in an email. “You’d tend to say that the last few months seemed to last a long time if lots had happened, and to be faster if not much had.”
7.13 Trump on Air Force One: “One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.”
7.13 Trump on Air Force One: “What I said, I asked him, were you involved? He said, very strongly — said to him a second time — totally different — were you involved? Because we can’t let that happen. And I mean whether it’s Russia or anybody else, we can’t let there be even a scintilla of doubt when it comes to an election. I mean, I’m very strong on that. . . . and I did say, we can’t have a scintilla of doubt as our elections and going forward. I told him. I said, look, we can’t — we can’t have — now, he said absolutely not twice. What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, okay?”
7.13 Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia case, threatened a stranger in a string of profanity-laden emails Wednesday night: : “I’m on you now. You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch.”
7.13 Craig Ungar in The New Republic: Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics.”
7.13 Mike Allen in Axios:
One of the casualties of the first six months of the Trump presidency is a common understanding of what is normal in our politics. It’s easy to grow numb to abnormal actions, words and tactics. But even our readers who love or feel loyalty to Trump need to remember:
It’s not normal for the presumptive nominee’s son to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claims she has dirt compiled by Russian governmental forces who want to see your guy win.
It’s not normal for the President to sign off on a public cover-up of that meeting when confronted with the facts.
It’s not normal for the President to hold a Cabinet meeting that consists of his staff gushing over him.
It’s not normal for the President to undermine his West Wing staff by continually asking friends and visitors for their opinions on various replacement options.
It’s not normal for the President to make a deal with his Russian counterpart for an “impenetrable Cyber Security unit,” let his Treasury Secretary out on a Sunday show to enthusiastically defend the idea, then pull the plug that night after ridicule from fellow Republicans.
It’s not normal for the President to interrupt his day to watch the press briefing on TV, and critiquing the answers à la “SportsCenter.”
It’s not normal for the President to obsess about cable-news coverage of himself, and instantly react to stories before checking the specifics.
It’s not normal for the President to irritate and offend key allies by failing to re-articulate the country’s devotion to their alliance, only to offer the reassurance weeks later, after the damage is done.
It’s not normal for the President to publicly criticize the mayor of London on the basis of flawed facts, right after a terror attack that killed seven.
It’s not normal for the President to attack TV news hosts by name, including a personal attack on a woman’s intellect and appearance.
7.11 New York Times: Upon receiving an email promising incriminating information on Hillary Clinton sourced to the Russian government, Donald Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

7.10 Ron Brownstein on CNN: “If you look at everything they are doing, both in style and substance,” Brownstein said. “The agenda on health care, the agenda on taxes, even the way they are doing infrastructure. This is not designed to be a presidency that is a 50-plus one presidency. There is no vision about expanding the base that he came in with…It is about rallying and mobilizing and stoking what was 46 percent of the electorate last November and polling somewhere is now closer to 40 percent.” Brownstein added, “I think the way you heard Kellyanne talk about the media in the first half hour here is indicative of a presidency that is more about mobilization than persuasion and is giving up on the idea of speaking to a broader country.”
7.10 New York Times:The eldest son of President Donald Trump met with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016, under the pretenses that she had damaging information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Campaign Chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, were also in attendance, Trump Jr. stated.
7.10 Tech Crunch: “Google’s Digital News Initiative has committed £622,000 ($805,000) to fund an automated news writing initiative for UK-based news agency, The Press Association. The money will help pay for the creation of Radar (Reporters And Data And Robots), snappily named software designed to generate upwards 30,000 local news stories a month.”
7.9 Lawrence Summers in the Washington Post: “A corporate chief executive whose public behavior was as erratic as Trump’s would already have been replaced. The standard for democratically elected officials is appropriately different. But one cannot look at the past months and rule out the possibility of even more aberrant behavior in the future. The president’s Cabinet and his political allies in Congress should never forget that the oaths they swore were not to the defense of the president but to the defense of the Constitution.”
7.8 The Mirror: Daniel Craig has changed his mind and is set to sign up for his fifth Bond movie – with Adele lined up to join him.
7.8 When Trump steps away from a session at the G20 meetings, Ivanka takes his seat
7.8 Trump begins his summit with Putin by saying “I’m going to get this out of the way: Did you do this?”
7.8 Macolm Gladwell on NBC: “We take one step forward and then we take two steps back. That doesn’t happen in the same way in [Gladwell’s native] Canada or in other parts where I’m most familiar with. It’s a very American kind of thing. And I wonder whether we aren’t at the beginning of an extended period of backlash in this country, which is a very typical American period …[I]n the face of overwhelming amounts of change in a very small time, what people basically do is they say, ‘Stop. Enough. Let’s process through this.’ So there’s this angry, vicious backlash. But when change happens in a hurry, … people … have to find some way to make sense of it. … I feel like maybe we are on the cusp of something similar.” See the video.
7.7 Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post: “Across 25 years and five administrations, we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road.”
7.7 David Friedlander in Politico: Crack open Andrew Cuomo, and you won’t find Ted Kennedy. You probably won’t even find Mario Cuomo, someone who treated Albany like it was the Athenian agora. But you will find someone consumed with winning, who throttles anyone who looks like he or she might stand in the way of that winning. Is Andrew Cuomo really a warrior for social justice? Maybe, but probably not, but if you get a higher minimum wage and paid family leave and free college and gay marriage and gun control and a fracking ban and the first reversal of harsh Rockefeller-era drug laws in four decades, who cares? “I’ll just be brazen and say it. If he decides to run for president, he’d be a really good president,” said Ken Sunshine, a public relations consultant for A-list celebrities and a longtime adviser to both Cuomos. “Yes, Andrew doesn’t come from lefty intellectual circles. Fine. But I defy anyone to make a substantive argument that Cuomo isn’t a progressive. The fact that we keep having these over-intellectualized arguments is why we keep losing to morons. I’ll put my progressive credentials against anybody, but I tell you something: I like it when Democrats win. And the alternative is a catastrophe.”

7.6 Spoke about Cushing at the Camp Olden Roundtable in Trenton NJ. Interviewed by Krista Smolda on rvntv.tv in Mt. Lauren NJ.
7.6 The president said during a speech in Warsaw that he’s considering “some pretty severe things” in response to North Korea’s latest missile launches.
7.6 Wall Street Journal: “Volvo Gives Tesla a Shock, As Others Plan Electric Push … Jaguars, BMWs and Fords, among others, will offer a system that uses battery technology to comply with emissions rules” “Nearly all global vehicle makers are mounting their own electric-car push, powered by ever-cheaper prices for batteries, stricter emissions rules and lucrative government incentives for customers.” “Tesla’s shares fell more than 7%, … the steepest decline in a year in which the company passed both General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. in stock-market valuation.” Why it matters: “The Volvo announcement is ‘the hard-reality case that Tesla will face intense competition by next decade from legacy [auto makers] … Musk’s lead isn’t as sizable as often believed.'”
7.6 Press Gazette: “The Press Assocation has been awarded €706,000 by Google to develop a robot reporting project which will see computers write 30,000 stories a month for local media. It is among the latest UK grant recipients from Google under its €150m three-year Digital News Initiative. The project, which as been going for two years, seeks to encourage new ways of helping journalism to survive in the digital age. The PA project is called Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR) PA said in a statement: “RADAR is intended to meet the increasing demand for consistent, fact-based insights into local communities, for the benefit of established regional media outlets, as well as the growing sector of independent publishers, hyperlocal outlets and bloggers.” A team of five journalists working on project will use open government and local authority databases, and story templates, to create automatic stories about health, crime, employment and other subjects.
7.5 investigators believe they have discovered the “smoking gun” that would support a decades-old theory that Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.

7.4 The Trump administration on Tuesday confirmed North Korea’s claim that it had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, and it told Pyongyang that the United States would use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat.”
7.3 Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker: “America’s Future Is TEXAS: The state’s exploding population, immigration crackdowns, waning white influence, aggressive redistricting, brutal reproductive laws, and rapidly shifting politics make it a bellwether of the country.” “Texas has been growing at a stupefying rate for decades. The only state with more residents is California, and the number of Texans is projected to double by 2050, to 54.4 million, almost as many people as in California and New York combined.”
7.2 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent part of the weekend lounging on a state beach he ordered closed to the public amid a local government shutdown.

JUNE 2017: “LORDY, I HOPE THERE’S TAPES”

6.30 David Frum in The Atlantic: “The ACA needs a replacement funding stream that yields more revenue and that taxes more broadly. This was the deal that Republicans should have demanded in 2009-2010. It will be harder to achieve today (because with ACA an accomplished fact Republicans now have less to trade), but it still should be their goal. One way to achieve that more difficult goal is to propose funding streams that are not only larger than the surtaxes on high incomes, but that Democrats and liberals will find even more attractive. I’ve long urged a carbon tax as a way to fund health-care expansion. President Trump’s abrupt and unconsidered call for a federal internet sales tax raises another possibility. The U.S. has entered a revolution in retailing that threatens literally millions of jobs. The continuing de facto subsidy to online shopping looks even less justifiable now than ever. Why not a federal tax set to some averaging of state sales taxes on physical stores? Such a tax would raise far more than $35 billion and would equalize the playing field between retailers in a way that helpfully slows the creative destruction of retailing jobs. At the same time, Republicans should also welcome higher excise taxes on choices that raise healthcare costs: on alcohol, on processed sweeteners, on marijuana where it is legal. (My own wish, and I recognize how impossible this is, would be to tax bullets as well, but that too radically challenges present political dogmas.)”
6.30 The Economist: “[T]his July 4th Americans are riven by mutual incomprehension: between Republicans and Democrats, yes, but also between factory workers and university students, country folk and city-dwellers. …His approach is not working. … Trump presides over a political culture that is even more poisonous than when he took office. His core voters are remarkably loyal. Many businesspeople still believe that he will bring tax cuts and deregulation. But their optimism stands on ever-shakier ground.
“The Trump presidency has been plagued by poor judgment and missed opportunities. The federal government is already showing the strain. Sooner or later, the harm will spread beyond the beltway and into the economy.”
6.29 Cuomo declares subway state of emergency
6.29 Trump tweets about Morning Joe


The whole thing said: “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..
…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
6.29 Wall Street Journal: Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers. In conversations with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump. “He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Mr. Smith’s behalf for people who might have access to the emails. Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest. That’s the shot, here’s the chaser: Those investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence.
6.28 “Boy, did CNN get killed over the last few days … These are really dishonest people. Should I sue them? I mean, they’re phonies. … I mean, these are horrible human beings. … It’s a shame what they’ve done to the name CNN, that I can tell you … But as far as I’m concerned, I love it. If anybody’s a lawyer in the house and thinks I have a good lawsuit — I feel like we do. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
6.28 Knicks fire Phil Jackson
6.28 John Podhoretz in the NY Post: “Our public-transportation woes are the key marker that New York City has become a “catastrophic success” — something so popular, it outstrips its own capacity to serve the people flocking to it. The city’s quarter-century comeback from the muck of disorder into which it had descended — from its near-collapse in 1975 through the crime wave of the early 1990s — has been one of the wonders of our time. But it has strained the city’s infrastructure to the breaking point.
If this were 1982 and the A train had derailed of its own bizarre accord near the 125th Street station at 9:50 a.m., as it did on Tuesday, it would’ve been far less meaningful. Why? Because so many fewer people were riding the subway in 1982. In 1982, the system logged 899 million rides. Last year, it was 1.7 billion rides. The busiest station in the system, Times Square, had 37 million riders annually in 1975 — and 66.4 million in 2015. This is of a piece with the population numbers. In 1980, the census found 7.07 million living in New York City. That grew to 8.5 million in 2016. The number of commuters coming into Manhattan has grown dramatically. How about tourism? Thirteen million out-of-towners visited New York in 1990. In 2016, it was 60 million. It’s right and proper that the politicians who run the transportation system — especially Gov. Cuomo — are getting raked over the coals. Cuomo is always ready to cut a ribbon. What needs to happen to save the city’s transportation network is the opposite of that. We have a decades-old maintenance deficit. Everyone involved in keeping the system healthy has been more interested in showing off shiny bells and whistles than in the unglamorous scutwork that keeps our multifarious marvel of urban engineering — New York’s subways, trains, buses, bridges, streetscape, roads — on the move.
6.28 Gov. John R. Kasich: “There may be some philosophical, you know, kind of textbook disagreement. But when you sit in a room and you say to people, ‘Should we strip coverage from somebody who’s mentally ill?’ I’ve never heard anybody say yes.”
6.28 A Tax Policy Center analysis showed that the top 0.1% of earners in America would receive, on average, a $207,390 tax break from the BCRA.
6.27 Trump “This will be great if we get it done,” he said. “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s O.K., and I understand that very well.”
6.27 Janet Yellen, at a question-and-answer event in London: “Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? … You know probably that would be going too far but I do think we’re much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be.”
6.27 David Brooks in the Times: “Republican politicians believe that government should tax people less. The Senate bill would eliminate the 3.8 percent tax on investment income for those making over $250,000. Republican politicians believe that open-ended entitlements should be cut. The Senate health care plan would throw 15 million people off Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (This is the program that covers nearly 40 percent of America’s children.)Is there a vision of society underlying those choices? Not really. Most political parties define their vision of the role of government around their vision of the sort of country they would like to create. The current Republican Party has iron, dogmatic rules about the role of government, but no vision about America.Because Republicans have no governing vision, they can’t argue for their plans. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price came to the Aspen Ideas Festival to make the case for the G.O.P. approach. It’s not that he had bad arguments; he had no arguments, no vision for the sort of health care system these bills would usher in. He filled his time by rising to a level of vapid generality that was utterly detached from the choices in the actual legislation



6.27 Great set of tweets sent by Ben Winkler. First Cory Booker and John Lewis met on the steps of the capitol and sat down and started to chat. Before long they were met Kirsten Gillibrand, Chris Murphy, Chuck Shumer, and many others. Democracy!
6.27 David Leonhardt in the Times: “I hope the senators will also take the time to ask themselves why virtually no health care expert supports the bill. Conservative health care experts have blasted it, along with liberal and moderate experts. The Congressional Budget Office says it will do terrible damage. Groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals and retirees oppose the bill. So do advocates for the treatment of cancer, heart disease, lung disease, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and, yes, cerebral palsy.I hope the senators grasp the weight of the decision they face, for the country and for themselves. I hope the senators will watch a two-minute video created by doctors around the country. In it, each one looks into the camera and explains how the bill would damage medical care. “This bill would dramatically affect my patients,” said Dr. Gregory Lam of Circleville, Ohio, “and my ability to care for them.” It takes only three Republican senators to prevent millions of their fellow citizens from being harmed. Which of them has the courage to make the right choice over the easy one?
6.27 NY Post: “The European Union’s competition watchdog has slapped a record 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine on internet giant Google for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service. European regulators said Tuesday that “Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.”6.27 NY Post: Glitter boobs are the new beauty trend hitting festivals this summer,
6.27 NY Post: The image of the United States has deteriorated sharply across the globe under President Donald Trump and an overwhelming majority of people in other countries have no confidence in his ability to lead, a survey from the Pew Research Center showed. Five months into Trump’s presidency, the survey spanning 37 nations showed US favorability ratings in the rest of the world slumping to 49 percent from 64 percent at the end of Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House.
But the falls were far steeper in some of America’s closest allies, including US neighbors Mexico and Canada, and European partners like Germany and Spain.
6.26 A highly anticipated report from the Congressional Budget Office says the Senate Republican health-care bill (called the Better Care Reconciliation Act) would result in 22 million people losing their insurance over the next decade. That’s little improvement over the unpopular House version, though the bill’s deep spending cuts would reduce the deficit by $321 billion in the same period.
6.26
6.26 Glitter boobs have become the summer’s hottest festival trend
6.26 Michele Moody-Adams, a professor of political philosophy and legal theory at Columbia University, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival: Ensuring continued peace and prosperity in the United States depends not only on our ability to restore trust in government and the officials who run it. It is just as critical “that we figure out how to reawaken a sense of solidarity with each other as citizens, and to revive the belief that solidarity is best expressed by a commitment to shared sacrifice and an openness to constructive compromise.” How to rebuild that sense of solidarity that has defined American life in moments of shared crisis, like World War II, and appears to have waned in more recent decades? “The sacrifices and compromises that matter are not just those associated with the demands of war or other national crises. We must learn, for instance, to relinquish resentments towards the ‘opposition’ when we lose out in a political contest and to refrain from smug self-righteousness when we win. We must encourage our political leaders to be open to constructive compromise when political consensus is out of reach. We must also be more willing to tolerate the public expression of attitudes with which we disagree, and we must accept that even the best-designed legal institutions and practices may yield decisions which many believe to be mistaken. Democratic cooperation will always produce what John Rawls called the “strains of commitment,” and our continued flourishing as a democracy depends upon a readiness to acknowledge and accept these strains. Moody-Adams added that “if we are to sustain the solidarity that encourages acceptance of the strains of democratic cooperation, we must learn to more fully appreciate those contexts in which our common humanity is more important than our differences,” for example, “by admitting that it is often possible to recognize and respect the moral integrity of others even when we disagree with them about matters of moral and political significance.” What’s more, we must remain open “to the possibility of empathizing with the concerns—and especially the suffering—of those whose experiences and values are different from ours. Contemporary life erects many barriers to respect and concern for our common humanity, but the future of our democracy demands that we learn how to transcend them.”
6.25 Unconfirmed revelation: Banksy is Robert Del Naja, the British artist, musician, and founding member of Massive Attack.
6.25 David Lieb of the AP: “The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year.”
“The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.”
“Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.” “[E]ven if Democrats had turned out in larger numbers, their chances of substantial legislative gains were limited by gerrymandering.”
8.25 Peter Baker in the Times: “Trump asks fair question: What did Obama do about Russian meddling before election? Also fair question: What has Trump done about it since?”
6.25 Axios: “[V]oters’ complicated views of Trump may give Republicans more running room than his popularity figures suggest. The votes cast by individual Republican incumbents [like healthcare in the Senate this week] may be more important to their survival than any linkage with the president.”
6.23 Sam Baker in Axios: The 142-page Senate bill: It “would not replace the Affordable Care Act. It would replace Medicaid.” The biggest winners: young people who don’t use much health care — the “losers” under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Those consumers would no longer face a penalty for going uninsured. They’d get bigger subsidies than they’re getting now. And the broader shifts in the healthcare market would favor people who don’t need to use it. The losers, broadly, are older consumers and the poor. Although the bill phases in its Medicaid cuts more slowly than its House counterpart, once they took effect, the Senate’s cuts would be deeper. And in the individual insurance market, older consumers would see their financial assistance shrink.
6.23 Margot Sanger-Katz in the Times: “Obamacare raised taxes on high earners and the health care industry, and essentially redistributed that income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. “The draft Senate bill … would jettison those taxes while reducing federal funding for the care of low-income Americans. The bill’s largest benefits go to the wealthiest Americans … and its biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support.”
6.22 George Will in the Washington Post: “In the accelerated churning of today’s capitalism, changing tastes and expanding choices destroy some jobs and create others, with net gains in price and quality. But disruption is never restful, and the United States now faces a decision unique in its history: Is it tired — tired of the turmoil of creative destruction? If so, it had better be ready to do without creativity. And ready to stop being what it has always been: restless.”
6.22 “Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become ‘toxic’ in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as ‘not being able to connect with the issues they care about.’ ‘Our brand is worse than Trump.'”
6.22 David von Drehle in Time: “It goes back to the Greeks, who understood that the peril of kings was hubris, and that hubris was an invitation to the avenging goddess called Nemesis. In Robert Mueller, Trump may have found his.”
6.21 Fast Company: Most leaders “vastly underestimate the power and necessity of positive reinforcement,” Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman, CEO and president of Zenger/Folkman, write in Harvard Business Review. An abundance of research shows that giving positive feedback increases employees’ sense that they’re learning and growing at their jobs, makes them feel valued, and leads to increased confidence and competence. A 2015 Gallup survey found that 67% of employees whose managers communicated their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to 31% of employees whose managers only communicated their weaknesses. One study found that high-performing teams receive nearly six times more positive feedback than less effective teams—evidence that positive reinforcement really does help the bottom line.
6.21 The Atlantic: Subjects under the influence of power, [the UC Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner] found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.
Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, recently described something similar. Unlike Keltner, who studies behaviors, Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the “power paradox”: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.
6.21 Wired: “Global cybersecurity analysts have a theory about the endgame of Ukraine’s hacking epidemic: They believe Russia is using the country as a cyberwar testing ground — a laboratory for perfecting new forms of global online combat.”
6.20 Republican Karen Handel beats Democrat Jon Ossoff 52-48 in a high-stakes special election in Georgia’s sixth district. In a race in South Carolina, a Republican narrowly beats the Democrat

Gregg Henry plays a Trumpian Julius Caesar in Shakespeare in the Park
6.19 Richard Reeves in The Guardian: “The upper middle class families have become greenhouses for the cultivation of human capital. Children raised in them are on a different track to ordinary Americans, right from the very beginning,” he writes.The upper middle class are “opportunity hoarding” – making it harder for others less economically privileged to rise to the top; a situation that Reeves says places stress on the efficiency of the US economic system and creates dynastic wealth and privilege of the kind the nation’s fathers sought to avoid. “The US labor market is mostly meritocratic and not some kind of medieval cartel,” Reeves told the Guardian, “but it’s what happens before that that is unfair.” The problem, he says, is that people enter the race with very different levels of preparation. “Kids from more affluent backgrounds are entering the contest massively well prepared, while kids from less affluent backgrounds are not. The well-prepared kids win, and everybody pretends to themselves it’s a meritocracy,” he says. Reeves believes we have to think much earlier about equality of opportunity, including the way the education system, labor and housing markets work. Without reform, society continues with a system that replicates inequality, he argues.
6.19 Mike Allen in Axios: “The Bannon wing of the White House would like to take on the lords of the Valley now over outsourcing, the concentration of wealth and their control over our dand lives. But this fight is on hold for a later date, officials tell us. The bigger problem for tech is that many Americans are rethinking their romantic views of the hottest and biggest companies of the new economy. As people look for villains to blame, tech might get its turn: Some shine has come off Facebook (though not in user data, Dan Primack points out: People still love the service), as executives fend off grievances about fake news, live violence and the filter bubble. Silicon Valley makes itself a juicy target with its male dominance, concentration of wealth (in both people and places), and reliance on foreign workers. Robots will soon be eating lots of jobs, with working-class, blue collar workers — an engine of the Trump coalition — at the most immediate risk. Many think this will be the story of the next 10 years. Anyone familiar with military intelligence will tell you cyber-risk is much greater than most people realize. Russians used cyber tools to try to throw the 2016, and electronic attack is perhaps the greatest U.S vulnerability to an international power. People increasingly distrust technology, and the companies will increasingly be in the crosshairs. Richard Edelman — president and CEO of the global communications firm — wrote in introducing Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer: “[O]ngoing globalization and technological change are now further weakening people’s trust in global institutions, which they believe have failed to protect them from the negative effects of these forces.
6.19 Recode: “Musk estimates the cost of getting 12 people to Mars to start a colony is about $10 billion per person at this point. … He thinks they might be able to get the cost down to less than $100,000.” Musk: “If we can get the cost of moving to Mars to be roughly equivalent to a median house price in the United States, which is around $200,000, then I think the probability of establishing a self-sustaining civilization is very high … I think it would almost certainly occur.'”
6.19 Steve Coll in The New Yorker: “The Constitution does appear to be alive and well: prosecutors and the F.B.I. have vigorously defended their independence; judges appointed by Presidents of both major parties have blocked the Administration’s discriminatory travel ban; and a robust and well-sourced Washington press corps is keeping the public apprised of the Administration’s activities.”
6.18 Megn Kelly‘s interview with Alex Jones a ratings bust
6.18 Dinner at Fig and Olive with Paul and Anne
6.17 Bret Stephens in the Times: “The United States has too many people who don’t work hard, don’t believe in God, don’t contribute much to society and don’t appreciate the greatness of the American system. They need to return whence they came. I speak of Americans whose families have been in this country for a few generations. Complacent, entitled and often shockingly ignorant on basic points of American law and history, they are the stagnant pool in which our national prospects risk drowning. On point after point, America’s nonimmigrants are failing our country. Crime? A study by the Cato Institute notes that nonimmigrants are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants, and at more than three times the rate of legal ones. Educational achievement? Just 17 percent of the finalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search — often called the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of United States-born parents. At the Rochester Institute of Technology, just 9.5 percent of graduate students in electrical engineering were nonimmigrants.”

Zeman-Karine-Vanasse-00021

6.17 Binge-watched the Canadian series Cardinal. Most excellent. Billy Campbell is terrific. So is his counterpart, the fetching Quebecoise actress Karine Vanasse.
6.16 Finished House of Cards Season 5. Too over the top.
6.14 House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was among five people shot during a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, marking the first shooting that’s targeted a federal legislator in six years. President Trump praised Capitol Police officers for intervening in the attack and confirmed that the gunman, who law enforcement identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, died of his injuries.
6.14 A Fire in London: At least 58 people were killed and dozens of others were left in critical condition after a fire broke out in western London’s Grenfell Tower, prompting fears that the 24-floor apartment building might collapse.
6.13 The Cabinet Praise-a-thon. “Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, taking his turn to genuflect for a beaming Trump, said: “On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.”
6.13 The Atlantic: The embattled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced he is taking a leave of absence for an unspecified amount of time following a string of scandals that have engulfed the ride-sharing app
6.12 Warriors top Cavaliers, 4 games to 1
6.11 Penguins beat Predators in 6 games
6.10 Robert Reich in The Guardian: “[Trump’s infrastructure plan] boils down to a giant public subsidy to developers and investors, who would receive generous tax credits in return for taking on the job. Which means the rest of us would have to pay higher taxes or get fewer services in order to make up for the taxes the developers and investors would no longer pay. For example (in one version of the plan I’ve come across), for every dollar developers put into a project, they’d actually pay only 18 cents – after tax credits – and taxpayers would contribute the other 82 cents through their tax dollars. No one should be surprised at this scheme. It’s what Trump knows best. After all, he was a developer who made billions, often off sweeteners such as generous tax credits and other subsidies. The public would also pay a second time. The developers would own the roads and bridges and other pieces of infrastructure they finance. They’d then charge members of the public tolls and fees to use them.”
ee71f976febf25bf6cad11e038b9c0cc-16.10 Adam West dies
6.9 David French in National Review: “I don’t believe a civil-war mentality will save America. There are simply too many differences and too many profound disagreements for one side or the other to exercise true political dominance. Red won’t beat blue in the same way that blue beat gray. Adopt the civil-war mentality and you’ll only hasten a potential divorce. No, absent a presently unforeseen unifying ideology, event, or person, the idea that will save America is one of the oldest ideas of the Republic: federalism. So long as we protect the “privileges and immunities” of American citizenship, including all of the liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights, let California be California and Texas be Texas. De-escalate national politics. Ideas that work in Massachusetts shouldn’t be crammed down the throats of culturally different Tennesseans. Indeed, as our sorting continues, our ability to persuade diminishes. (After all, how can we understand communities we don’t encounter?)”
6.9 GEOFFREY KABASERVICE in the Times: “Toxic polarization means that Congress is unlikely to pass any significant legislation on infrastructure and tax reform that once might have attracted cross-aisle support. Mr. Trump also lacks the popularity that allowed presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton to rally the public behind their proposals and compel Congress to go along with them, and he doesn’t seem to understand that their skillful use of the reputable media was an integral part of their success.
Mr. Trump cast himself during the election as the sole candidate able to break through Washington gridlock and get things done. Will his failure as a problem solver cause his supporters to abandon him? I doubt it. Scratch a Trump supporter, and you’re likely to find someone deeply pessimistic about America and its future. Few believe that he will be able to bring back the good times (however they define them) because they’re convinced that the system is rigged: The “deep state” is too entrenched, the demographic tide too advanced and the global elite too powerful to allow real change. Still, they appreciate President Trump for fighting the fight, especially when it involves going against the wishes of his own party and the customary norms of presidential behavior. The Comey hearing, then, is unlikely to change their minds. Anything short of blatant evidence of illegality will simply play into their narrative of the president’s battles against his diabolical enemies. They will continue to see President Trump as the ultimate political independent, taking on the whole world. Even if it’s an empty performance, it’s bound to win applause.
6.9 More than 8,000 U.S. brick-and-mortar stores could close this year — twice the number as 2016, per Axios’ Steve LeVine. Among the chief victims are retail workers. Amazon says it’s adding 100,000 employees, but a multiple of that number have lost their jobs in recent years. One in 9 Americans work in bricks-and-mortar retail, almost 16 million people in all.
6.8 Hung Parliament. Teresa May‘s gamble fails, as conservatives lose majority.
6.8 Comey testifies; Trump claims vindication. “The reason this is such a big deal is, we have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods, tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other — we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.”
6.8 Benjamin Wittes in lawfare.come: “this document is about a far more important question to the preservation of liberty in a society based on legal norms and rules: the abuse of the core functions of the presidency. It’s about whether we can trust the President—not the President in the abstract, but the particular embodiment of the presidency in the person of Donald J. Trump—to supervise the law enforcement apparatus of the United States in fashion consistent with his oath of office. I challenge anyone to read this document and come away with a confidently affirmative answer to that question.”
6.7 In anticipation of his testimony, James Comey releases his prepared remarks, which include details of his three private meetings and six private phone calls with Trump. Highlights:
January 27 Dinner: “. . . My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch. I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President. A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, . . .Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things 4 about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation.”
February 14 Oval Office Meeting On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing. . . . The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me. When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned 5 the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President.. . .“He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.”. . . Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened – him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply.
March 30 Phone Call On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, . . . .The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him. I
April 11 Phone Call On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel. He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended. That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.

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6.6 New York Fights Back rally at the Javits Center. “We believe that we are all connected, that there’s a cord that connects me to you, to you, to you, to you,” Cuomo said, pointing to people in the audience. “And that cord weaves a fabric and we call that fabric called community. And when one of us is raised, we’re all raised, and when one of us is all lowered, we are all lowered. We believe the New York credo that we are not at our best until every man, woman and child has the right to develop their God-given gifts and to contribute to society.”
6.6 Scooter Gennett of the Reds hit four home runs in four at bats in a game against the .St. Louis Cardinals.
6.6 Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland : The United States has truly been the indispensable nation, Mr. Speaker. For their unique, seven-decades-long contribution to our shared peace ‎and prosperity, and on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to profoundly thank our American friends.
As I have argued, Canada believes strongly that this stable, predictable international order has been deeply in our national interest. And we believe it has helped foster peace and prosperity for our ‎southern neighbours, too. Yet it would be naive or hypocritical to claim before this House that all Americans today agree. Indeed, many of the voters in last year’s presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership. To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact.
Canada is grateful, and will always be grateful, to our neighbour for the outsized role it has played in the world. And we seek and will continue to seek to persuade our friends that their continued international leadership is very much in their national interest—as well as that of the rest of the free world. Yet we also recognize that this is ultimately not our decision to make. It is a choice Americans must make for themselves. The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order.
We will follow this path, with open hands and open hearts extended to our American friends, seeking to make common cause as we have so often in the past. And indeed, as we continue to do now on multiple fronts—from border security, to the defence of North America through NORAD, to the fight against Daesh, to our efforts within NATO, to nurturing and improving our trading relationship, which is the strongest in the world. And, at the same time, we will work with other like-minded people and countries who share our aims.
6.5 Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old NSA contractor and Air Force veteran, was arrested and charged with leaking classified information to a news organization.
6.5 Trump doubled down on his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his “no reason to be alarmed” statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!
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6.4 Maureen Dowd in the Times: “America is living through a fractured fairy tale, in the grip of a lonely and uninformed mad king, an arrogant and naïve princeling, a comely but complicit blond princess and a dyspeptic, dystopian troll under the bridge. American carnage, indeed. On climate change, the troll, Steve Bannon, got control and persuaded Donald Trump to give a raspberry to the world. Bannon had better watch out or rising waters will wash out his bridge to the past. Even though Jared, Ivanka, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, Elon Musk, Bob Iger and Lloyd Blankfein pressed the president to stay in the Paris climate accord — which is merely aspirational about the inhalational — Bannon won the day because Trump loves to act like the fired Mr. Met.”
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6.3 Saw Wonder Woman with Ginny, Cara, Molly and Shawn. Excellent. Gal Gadot is a star.
6.3 Roy Larner, 47, is a lifelong Millwall supporter and was in a steakhouse near London Bridge when three knife-wielding attackers barged in and began slashing diners.
“They had these long knives and started shouting about Allah. Then it was, ‘Islam, Islam, Islam,’” Larner told The Sun. “Like an idiot I shouted back at them. I thought, ‘I need to take the p— out of these b—ers.’” Before he actually stepped into the path of the attackers, Larner made sure they knew he was affiliated with the notoriously rough and tumble South London club.
“I took a few steps towards them and said, ‘F– you, I’m Millwall.’ So they started attacking me,” Larner told The Sun. Larner was left with eight knife wounds on his head, neck, chest and hands, but his actions allowed dozens of his fellow diners to rush out of the building. He is being hailed as The Lion of London Bridge, a reference to the Millwall mascot.
6.3 Seven murdered in knife-and-vehicle terrorist attack in London,
6.3 Gideon Lichfield in Quartz: “Chinese firms will dominate the alternatives, while enjoying the most clout in setting global energy policies. What’s at stake isn’t just opportunities in the cleantech industry (solar already employs more than twice as many Americans as coal). It’s a world in which China stands to become not only the biggest economy within a decade or so, but, eventually, an energy superpower. Its growing military muscle and wide-ranging global investments in infrastructure will add to its influence, and its pro-globalization (and now pro-climate) stance will even lend China a grudging moral authority with the world’s other rich nations. This is an entirely new geopolitical order—one in which, unless Europe overcomes its splits, an opaque autocracy will be the chief agenda-setter. Because of its size and weapons, the US, like Russia, will never not be a superpower. But, like Russia, it is on its way to becoming a second-tier one. China will take the throne. And Trump, for all his complaints about China’s ambitions, has just dusted off the cushions and invited it to have a seat.”
6.2 Bill Maher: “Senator, I am a house nigger.”
6.2 Ireland’s ruling party has elected a new prime minister, and the results are historic: Not only will 38-year-old Leo Varadkar be the youngest leader in Ireland’s history, he’ll also be its first prime minister who’s openly gay and its first who’s a person of color.
6.2 David Brooks in the Times: “In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest. We’ve seen this philosophy before, of course. Powerful, selfish people have always adopted this dirty-minded realism to justify their own selfishness. The problem is that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases. The error is that it misunderstands what drives human action. Of course people are driven by selfish motivations — for individual status, wealth and power. But they are also motivated by another set of drives — for solidarity, love and moral fulfillment — that are equally and sometimes more powerful. People are wired to cooperate. Far from being a flimsy thing, the desire for cooperation is the primary human evolutionary advantage we have over the other animals. People have a moral sense.”
June 2 Michael Grunwald in Politico: “Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from this carefully crafted multilateral compromise was a diplomatic and political slap: It was about extending a middle finger to the world, while reminding his base that he shares its resentments of fancy-pants elites and smarty-pants scientists and tree-hugging squishes who look down on real Americans who drill for oil and dig for coal. He was thrusting the United States into the role of global renegade, rejecting not only the scientific consensus about climate but the international consensus for action, joining only Syria and Nicaragua (which wanted an even greener deal) in refusing to help the community of nations address a planetary problem. Congress doesn’t seem willing to pay for Trump’s border wall—and Mexico certainly isn’t—so rejecting the Paris deal was an easier way to express his Fortress America themes without having to pass legislation.”
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6.2 Joe Scarborough: “Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about policy. Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about politics. Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about anything. He can get up and give a good speech. You listen to him talk about any topic and he wanders from sentence to sentence to sentence. So Steve Bannon is now the President of the United States. And that was more clear yesterday than ever before.”
6.1 Megan Garber on Wonder Woman in The Atlantic: “The character suits the times … not just because of the fights she fights, but also because of one of the weapons she uses to fight them: the Lariat of Hestia, otherwise known as the Golden Lasso, otherwise known as the Lasso of Truth. The device was forged of the chain mail worn by Diana’s mother, the warrior queen; if someone finds themselves ensnared within the lasso’s golden grip—as Steve learns in the new Wonder Woman—that person will be compelled to tell the truth. The lasso features prominently in the director Patty Jenkins’s film, as both a weapon and a tactic: In it, Diana uses the glimmering device repeatedly to whip, to entrap, to win. Most of all, though, she uses it for precisely the purpose its name suggests: to force people, usually against their will, to admit to reality.”
6.1 NY Times: “Asked about suspicions that Russia might try to interfere in the coming elections in Germany, Mr. Putin raised the possibility of attacks on foreign votes by what he portrayed as free-spirited Russian patriots. Hackers, he said, “are like artists” who choose their targets depending how they feel “when they wake up in the morning.” Any such attacks, he added, could not alter the result of elections in Europe, America or elsewhere. Artists, he said, paint if they wake up feeling in good spirits while hackers respond if “they wake up and read that something is going on in interstate relations” that prompts them to take action. “If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia,” Mr. Putin added, apparently referring to Hillary Clinton.”
6.1 Kathy Griffin holds up severed head of Trump, gets fired from CNN.
6.1 Eric Roston in Bloomberg Businessweek: “An exit would undermine America’s economic competitiveness, technological innovation, and global leadership. Not to mention the, um, planet.”
6.1 Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein: “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.” Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger tweets: “As a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweets: “Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
6.1 Fareed Zakaria on CNN: “This will be the day that the United States resigned as the leader of the free world.”
June 1: President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Accords. He claimed that stipulations in the agreement were unfair to the US saying, “The Paris Accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.” He pointed to rules regarding coal production as being particularly disagreeable. “This agreement is less about the climate and more about others gaining financial advantage over the US,” he said.
June 1 New York Post: “Couples trying for a baby have sex an average of 78 times before becoming pregnant, a new study reveals. Typically, it takes a total of 185 days from deciding to conceive to getting a positive pregnancy test — the equivalent of six months and three days. It also emerged couples have sex 13 times each month while attempting to make a baby.”

MAY 2017: “A TRAGIC DUMBASS COMEDY”

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5.31 Kevin Williamson at National Review: Time was when “the American shopping mall was the reincarnation of the downtown business district, moved indoors where it could be air-conditioned” and “efficiently policed.” Yet now this “new downtown is dying” — we’re down to 1,100 malls (400 of which are soon set to close) from the high-water mark of 5,000. But “shops and jobs go together: One in ten employed Americans works in retail,” and they tend to be “workers who for various reasons — sometimes lack of skill and education, but also things such as the need for flexible scheduling or physical limitations — often do not have a great many desirable options.” The real crisis is “not so much a matter of jobs lost in the present but of jobs that never come into being in the future.”
5.30 John McCain: “The Russians tried to destroy the very fundamental of democracy, and that is to change the outcome of an American election.”
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5.30 H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn in the Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors, and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural, and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.”
5.29 Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker: “A 2012 study by a University of Pennsylvania researcher found that black patients were thirty-four per cent less likely than white patients to be prescribed opioids for such chronic conditions as back pain and migraines, and fourteen per cent less likely to receive such prescriptions after surgery or traumatic injury. But a larger factor, it seems, was the despair of white people in struggling small towns. Judith Feinberg, a professor at West Virginia University who studies drug addiction, described opioids as “the ultimate escape drugs.” She told me, “Boredom and a sense of uselessness and inadequacy—these are human failings that lead you to just want to withdraw. On heroin, you curl up in a corner and blank out the world. It’s an extremely seductive drug for dead-end towns, because it makes the world’s problems go away. Much more so than coke or meth, where you want to run around and do things—you get aggressive, razzed and jazzed.”
5.28 Heidi Klum has a new book
5.28 Robert De Niro, at Brown’s commencement yesterday in Providence, R.I.: ‘”When you started school, the country was an inspiring, uplifting drama. … You are graduating into a tragic, dumbass comedy.”
5.28 Angela Merkel sats Europe cannot rely on others
5.28 Frank Deford dies at 78
5.27 Gregg Allman dies at 69
5.27 Zbigniew Brzezinski dies at 89
5.26 Two men from Portland OR, Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were stabbed to death after attempting to intervene on a Portland train when a man was harrassing two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

MIDNIGHT RAMBLE, MAY 26

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Greg Schmidt and I went to the Ramble in Woodstock on Friday night, on what would have been Levon Helm‘s 77th birthday. Another fabulous show: Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Bryan Mitchell, Amy Helm, Jim Weider, Jay Collins, Steve Bernstein, Eric Lawrence, Shawn Pelton and Jacob Silver were joined by many special guests, including Billy Payne, Marco Benvenutto, Cindy Cashdollar, Conor Kennedy, and Catherine Russell. A great show. Very happy to have attended.
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MAY 2017: “I HOPE YOU CAN LET THIS GO”

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