JUNE 2018

6.18 Quartz: When it comes to making the most important and the most long-term decisions, Bezos has a simple rule that’s quite useful: “Focus [your vision] on the things that won’t change.” At Amazon, this means that everything is built around their value of customer obsession. They don’t try to hop on every new fad because they don’t know which one will still matter. They do, however, know that in 20 years, customers will still want faster deliveries and cheaper products. They can build a future around making that a primary area of focus. Similarly, if you’re 30 years old, you may not be able to say exactly how your personal taste will evolve tomorrow, but you can be reasonably sure that if you have enjoyed being creative for 20 years, then the next 20 years likely won’t change that. You can build a career around that.
6.17 Mexico beats Germany, 1-0; ensuing celebration causes earthquake
6.17 Stephen Bannon on ABC: “I think [Trump] speaks in a particular vernacular that connects to people in this country.”
6.17 Fred Hiatt in the Post: He was fired 10 months ago, but Stephen K. Bannon has won. Truculent, anti-immigrant nationalism; disdain for the “deep state”; disparaging democratic allies while celebrating dictators: These are now the pillars of President Trump’s rule. In his administration’s policy, foreign and domestic, and in the compliant Republican Party, Bannonism is ascendant. Corey Stewart, the xenophobic, Confederate-celebrating Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Virginia, is cheered by Trump as the face of this new party. Sen. John McCain, tweeting on behalf of old principles, is a total outsider. Supposed leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Paul D. Ryan fall abjectly into line. This is the victory not only of a Trump personality cult, as it has been described, but also of an ideology, one closer to Putinism than Reaganism.

6.17 Laura Bush: I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.
6.17 “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
6.17 Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”
6.17 On Sunday, The Washington Post reported on a previously unknown point of contact between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and a Russian offering negative information about Hillary Clinton. That new report, involving a Trump campaign staff member and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, means that at least six members of Trump’s broader team knew about offers of dirt from Russians during that campaign — and, depending on how that information was shared, as many as 10 may have, including Trump.

JUNE 16: YANKEES 4, RAYS 1

Ginny and I spent Saturday afternoon at the old ball game, and saw those young Yankees roll on. Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez homered, Luis Severino pitched eight shutout innings, and Aaron Judge blasted two rocket-like doubles. Fun! 1.) Judge 2.) Severino 3.) Sanchez 4.) Us


JUNE 15: LSD TOUR

To celebrate my birthday, Ginny took me to Bethel Woods to see the so-called LSD Tour: Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakum. They really rocked! 1.) The headliners together! 2.) Yoakum; 3.) Lucinda and Steve; 4) The very good opening act King Leg



JUNE 2018

6.7 President Trump, on next week’s summit with North Korea: “I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
6.7 The Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup, defeating Las Vaegas, 4 games to 1
6.4 Eric Trump in Westchester Magazine:“ My father’s life became exponentially worse the minute he decided to run for president.”
6.4 Mueller says Manafort has been tampering with witnesses
6.4 Trump disinvites the Eagles. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney: “Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”
6.4 Americans used more than 100 million hot-coffee cups per day in 2015, and that number is expected to rise to 133 million per day by 2025
6.4 “When he says that he’s a victim, all of his billions of dollars melt away and the power of the presidency becomes irrelevant,” said Michael D’Antonio, a Trump biographer. “What people see and hear is a white man who might have been sitting on his porch complaining about how he was cheated on something. There’s an emotional logic to it that is much more powerful than any exploration of the reality could produce.”
6.4 Supreme Court rules in favor of baker who would not make wedding cake for gay couple
6.4 Knut Heidar in the Post: there is an easy way to ensure voting rights: automatic voter registration. In Norway, all citizens registered in the public census are — if qualified — eligible to vote. Prior to an election, they receive a notification card with the election time and date and the location of their local polling station. It is the duty of the state to update the register, which is identical to the public census. No individual action is required. The register is also used for tax lists, public health care systems, passport issuances and many other public services.
6.4 Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) went to a shuttered Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, that has been converted into a detention center for immigrant children who have been separated from their parents. He asked for a tour. Instead, the government contractor that runs the converted store called the cops. An officer filled out a police report, and the senator was asked to leave.
6.3 Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupts; at least 62 people are dead
6.3 “He probably does,” Rudy Giuliani said, when asked on ABC’s “This Week” if Trump has the ability to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”
6.3 In a letter to Mueller, Trump’s lawyers at the time — John Dowd and Jay Sekulow — pushed an expansive view of presidential power. They argued that Trump has authority to “order the termination of an investigation by the Justice Department or FBI at any time and for any reason,” and also that as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the president could “even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.” “The intent behind the letter is rather obvious — this is position bargaining,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School. “But the position laid out is not as strong as claimed. The letter, for example, suggests that the president can refuse to comply with a subpoena. The existing case law favors the special counsel in forcing the president to appear.”
6.3 “In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Giuliani said to the HuffPost. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.” Giuliani said that impeachment would be the remedy for a president’s illegal behavior. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani was quoted as saying. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
6.3 Robert Samuelson at the Post: What’s powering the economy is the economy. Its forward momentum is less the product of any sophisticated economic theory or partisan policy than the pragmatic rebuilding of purchasing power and confidence. Consumer debt burdens have declined; jobs have increased; incomes have risen. The forward motion is not spectacular, but it is steady.
6.3 AP: “Nearly four years after protests in Ferguson raised concerns about racial profiling of blacks in Missouri, a report from the state attorney general shows that African-American drivers are 85 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites — the highest percentage in the 18 years the state has compiled data.”
6.1 John Brennan in the Post: “Mr. Trump, however, has shown highly abnormal behavior by lying routinely to the American people without compunction, intentionally fueling divisions in our country and actively working to degrade the imperfect but critical institutions that serve us. Although appalling, those actions shouldn’t be surprising. As was the case throughout his business and entertainment careers, Mr. Trump charts his every move according to a calculus of how it will personally help or hurt him. His strategy is to undercut real, potential and perceived opponents; his focus is to win at all costs, irrespective of truth, ethics, decency and — many would argue — the law. His disparagement of institutions is designed to short-circuit legitimate law enforcement investigations, intelligence assessments and media challenges that threaten his interests. His fear of the special counsel’s work is especially palpable, as is his growing interest in destroying its mandate.”
6.1 Washington Post: The U.S. lost track of 1,475 immigrant children last year.
6.1 The summit is back on!

MAY 2018: “I DO IT TO DISCREDIT AND DEMEAN YOU ALL”


5.31 Trump pardons Dinesh D’Souza
5.31 First Group replaces Tim O’Toole
5.31 John Boehner: “There is no Republican party. There’s a Trump party. Republican party is kinda taking a nap somewhere.”
5.30 The Americans comes to an end
5.30 The Russian journalist and dissident Arkady Babchenko, who had been reported murdered on Tuesday, appeared alive at a press conference to explain that his death had been faked as part of a Ukrainian intelligence operation.
5.30 A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, finds a far higher estimate for the actual death toll of Hurricane Maria incPuerto Rico, 4,645, than the official estimate of just 64, Researchers say their estimated death toll — 70 times higher than the official estimate — is “likely to be an underestimate.” The biggest factors leading to the higher death toll were disrupted medical services, including access to medication and medical facilities, the study found.
5.30 Braden Holtby makes an amazing stick save on Alex Tuch, preserves Caps 3-2 win in Game 2
5.30 Samantha Bee: “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child. Let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt. He listens to you.”
5.29 Roseanne Barr tweets “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” insulting Valerie Jarrett. ABC immediately cancels the series.
5.29 Max Boot in the Post: I don’t want to engage in false equivalence by suggesting Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame. Republicans are far worse. They are led by a president who engages in the kind of toxic partisanship we have seldom, if ever, seen from the Oval Office. Consider the tweet that Trump posted on Friday: “Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea. Just like they are coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs, saying that they are individuals & must be nurtured, or asking to end your big Tax Cuts & raise your taxes instead.” He is not just disagreeing with Democrats; he is impugning their motives. This follows his accusation that Democrats are guilty of “treason” and that “they certainly don’t seem to love our country very much.”
5.29 Jennifer Rubin in the Post: The majority of GOP officeholders, along with many conservative think-tankers and pundits, continue to cling to 1980s economic policy, however ill-attuned to 21st-century America. They insist that lowering top marginal tax rates on the rich is the key to economic success, forgetting that the top marginal tax rate is already about half of what it was before President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts (70 percent) and ignoring the huge geographic gaps in wealth and productivity. Cutting top marginal tax rates might give a momentary boost to the economy and help the rich get richer, but it does nothing to address the staggering geographic divide between aging, poorer rural America and richer urban America. Not only do the vast majority of struggling, non-college-educated Americans in rural areas pay little federal income tax (and hence benefit minimally from cuts in federal income tax rates), but they have real needs for which supply-side economic theory has no effective response.
5.28 In The New Yorker, Weegee‘s wife Judith Malina discusses the photographer: “He wanted to see the soul of the person. He wanted to see the essence of the person. And he certainly wanted to see the tits of the person.”
5.28 Down by 11 at the half, the Warriors rout Houston by 33-15 in the third. The sharpshooting Rockets close the game going 7 of 44 from behind the 3-point line.
5.27 Ellicott City receives its second thousand-year flood in two years. In just two hours, more than 6 inches of rain fell, and the Patapsco River rose 17 feet
5.27 Playing the entire game, LeBron James carried his undertalented Cavaliers past the green Celtics and into the NBA finals
5.26 Ireland voted to repeal the constitutional provision banning abortion with a crushing majority. An exit poll says that 68 percent voted yes and 32 percent voted against.
5.24 Trump cancels summit with Kim
5.24 James Clapper on PBS: “As a private citizen, it’s what I would call my informed opinion that, given the massive effort the Russians made, and the number of citizens that they touched, and the variety and multi-dimensional aspects of what they did to influence opinion … and given the fact that it turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states, to me it exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election. And it’s my belief they actually turned it.”
5.24 Oceanographers from the Woods Hole Institute, using a robot called the Remus 6000 that traverses the ocean floor, found the wreckage of the Spanish galleon San Jose, which was sunk in the Pacific off Cartegena during an engagement with the British navy, at a loss of 600 lives. Estimated value of the gold, silver and emeralds that were part of the cargo: $17 billion.
5.23 NFL bans players from kneeling during the national anthem
5.23 Sarah Sanders says it bugs her when people accuse of her lying to the press. “It certainly bothers me,” she told The New York Times. “Because one of the few things you have are your integrity and reputation.”
5.23 Washington Post: “Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately. “We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.” Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”
5.23 Sen. Jeff Flake at Harvard: Not to be unpleasant, but I do bring news from our nation’s capital. First, the good news: Your national leadership is…not good. At all. Our presidency has been debased. By a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division. And only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.
And our Article I branch of government, the Congress (that’s me), is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily. I do not think that the Founders could have anticipated that the beauty of their invention might someday founder on the rocks of reality television, and that the Congress would be such willing accomplices to this calamity. Our most ardent enemies, doing their worst (and they are doing their worst), couldn’t hurt us more than we are hurting ourselves. Now, you might reasonably ask, where is the good news in that? Well, simply put: We may have hit bottom.. . . This is it, if you have been wondering what the bottom looks like. This is what it looks like when you stress-test all of the institutions that undergird our constitutional democracy, at the same time. You could say that we are witnesses to history, and if it were possible to divorce ourselves from the obvious tragedy of this debacle, I suppose that might even be interesting, from an academic perspective. The way some rare diseases are interesting to medical researchers. But this is an experience we could and should have avoided. Getting to this state of distress did not occur naturally. Rather, this was thoroughly man-made. This disease of our polity is far too serious to not be recognized for what it is, the damage it threatens to do to our vital organs is far too great for us to carry on as if all is well. All is not well. We have a sickness of the spirit. To complete the medical metaphor, you might say that we are now in critical condition. How did we arrive at a moment of such peril – wherein a president of the United States publicly threatens – on Fox & Friends, historians will note — to interfere in the administration of justice, and seems to think that the office confers on him the ability to decide who and what gets investigated, and who and what does not? And just this week, the President – offering an outlandish rationale, ordered an investigation into the investigation of the Russian attack on our electoral process – not to defend the country against further attacks, mind you, but to defend himself. Obviously, ordering investigations is not a legitimate use of presidential power. I pick this egregious example of recent presidential conduct not because it is rare in terms of this president’s body of work, but because it so perfectly represents what we have tragically grown accustomed to in the past year and a half. Who would have thought that we would ever see encouragement coming from the White House for chants at rallies calling for the jailing of a defeated political opponent. When you don’t even know that there are limits on presidential power, then you might not even care when you are abusing that power.
5.23 Lesley Stahl, on interviewing Trump after the election: “I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?'” Stahl went on. “And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'”
5.23 Philip Roth dies at 85
5.22 Frank Bruni in the Times: Trump’s mantra is “no collusion,” “no collusion,” “no collusion.” Contrary to what his aides reportedly murmur, he’s no idiot. He knows that if he sets the bar at incontrovertible evidence of him and Putin huddled over a Hillary Clinton voodoo doll, he just might clear it. And he knows that if Americans are fixated on collusion, they aren’t concentrating on much else. That’s good for him and terrible for the country. He could be entirely innocent of soliciting or welcoming Russian help and he’d still be a proudly offensive, gleefully divisive, woefully unprepared plutocrat with no moral compass beyond his own aggrandizement. While we obsess over what may be hidden in the shadows, all of that is in plain sight.
5.22 Trump: “Your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016. Although I’m not sure I really believe that, but you know. I don’t know who the hell wrote that line, I’m not sure. But it’s still important, remember.”
5.25 James Hohmann in the Post: Trump didn’t want to give anyone a heads up for fear the news would leak, despite warnings from some in the White House that it wasn’t worth insulting the South Koreans. Moon, who has staked his political future on rapprochement with Pyongyang and worked to position himself as the intermediary between Kim and Trump, convened an emergency meeting after midnight local time at the presidential Blue House. Then he released a statement that said he was “very perplexed and sorry. America First” is turning out to be America Alone, as the United States isolates itself from the world in ways not seen since the 1930s. Trump has pulled out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In all three cases, the president promised he would negotiate a better deal for the United States. He has not yet done so.The president launched a “trade war” against China, which he said would be easy to win. Then he blinked, with no meaningful concessions from Beijing. Trump said last May that securing peace in the Middle East would be “frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought.” Then he poisoned the well by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, giving up a possible bargaining chip that could lubricate a bigger deal.
5.22 Wynton Marsalis: “My words are not that powerful. I started saying in 1985 I don’t think we should have a music talking about niggers and bitches and hoes. It had no impact. I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it. To me that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”
5.22 Christine Emba in the Washington Post: Last week, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that U.S. fertility had fallen to a record low — for the second straight year. The fertility rate declined to 60.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down 3 percent from 2016. The number of births in the United States fell 2 percent to 3.85 million, the lowest in 30 years. In fact, the only group for whom birthrates have risen this year is women over 40. This slump began, somewhat predictably, during the Great Recession. Birthrates tend to drop during periods of economic distress as people put off having babies, but potential parents usually get back to business once the economy rebounds. What’s worrying now is that the recession has more than ended but the baby numbers haven’t picked back up
5.21 Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: There are not many Trump scandals. There is one Trump scandal. Singular: the corruption of the American government by the president and his associates, who are using their official power for personal and financial gain rather than for the welfare of the American people, and their attempts to shield that corruption from political consequences, public scrutiny, or legal accountability.
5.21 Dana Milbank in the Post: Right now the fear of the United States going totalitarian doesn’t feel quite right. This crowd is too clownish to be Stalinist. Rather, the United States is turning into a banana republic.
5.21 Axios: China controlled 4% of the global economy in 2000, and the U.S. controlled 31%. Today, China has 15% and we have 24%. China’s plan is to dominate all futuristic advanced technologies such as robotics, AI, aviation and space, driverless or new energy vehicles.
5.21 By 2060, if current trends continue, there will be 1.1 people 65 and older for every person who is 18 and younger.
5.21 The Fortune 500, ranked by revenue for 2017 fiscal year: Walmart; Exxon Mobil; Berkshire Hathaway; Apple; UnitedHealth Group; McKesson; CVS Health; Amazon; AT&T; GM
5.20 Asia Argento at Cannes: “In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again. He will live in disgrace, shunned by a film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes. Even tonight,sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women, for behavior that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry. You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are. And we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.”
5.20 Richard Goodwin dies at 86. LBJ‘s speechwriter was, in the words of Joe Califano, “the greatest political public policy speechwriter in the history of this country. Johnson knew all the things he wanted to do, but Goodwin knew how to capture them in glistening, powerful prose.” From LBJ’s Howard University speech on Affirmative Action: “We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”
5.19 Justify wins Preakness
5.19 Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle
5.19 Matthew Stewart in The Atlantic: “So what kind of characters are we, the 9.9 percent? We are mostly not like those flamboyant political manipulators from the 0.1 percent. We’re a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner. In fact, we’re so self-effacing, we deny our own existence. We keep insisting that we’re “middle class.” As of 2016, it took $1.2 million in net worth to make it into the 9.9 percent; $2.4 million to reach the group’s median; and $10 million to get into the top 0.9 percent. (And if you’re not there yet, relax: Our club is open to people who are on the right track and have the right attitude.) “We are the 99 percent” sounds righteous, but it’s a slogan, not an analysis. The families at our end of the spectrum wouldn’t know what to do with a pitchfork. We are also mostly, but not entirely, white. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, African Americans represent 1.9 percent of the top 10th of households in wealth; Hispanics, 2.4 percent; and all other minorities, including Asian and multiracial individuals, 8.8 percent—even though those groups together account for 35 percent of the total population.
5.18 Ten killed, ten wounded at a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas
5.18 David Frum in The Atlantic: Only 30 percent of Americans own guns. Thus far, that minority has sufficed to block substantial federal action on guns. But a one-third minority—and especially a nonurban one-third minority—may no longer suffice to shape American culture. The outrage after Parkland looked less like a political movement, and more like the great waves of moral reform that have at intervals since the 1840s challenged the existing political order in the name of higher ethical ideals. The most important success of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, for example, was not to change laws (although they changed some), but to change hearts: to persuade Americans that drunk driving was not funny, not charming, and not acceptable. American gun culture in the 2010s is as blithely irresponsible as American alcohol culture in the 1960s. According to a Pew survey, only about one-quarter of gun owners think it essential to alert visitors with children that guns may be present in the home. (Twice as many non-gun-owners think so.) Only 66 percent of gun owners think it essential to keep guns locked up when not in use. (Ninety percent of non-gun-owners think so.) Only 45 percent of them actually do it. This carelessness and disregard is taking lives and breaking families. The first step toward correcting a social wrong is opening people’s eyes to see that wrong. America has now tallied still more victims and broken the hearts of still more mourners. It’s a horrible price to pay for a moral reckoning and awakening—but the history of the nation promises that while the awakening may often come tragically slow, it does come in time, with all the power of justice delayed but not denied.
5.17 Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: The Republican bet is that the party can mobilize elevated turnout among their older and blue-collar white base without provoking the young and racially diverse voters who personify the emerging next America to show up on Election Day to defend it. Few things are likely to shape November’s outcome more than whether that bet pays off.
5.17 Michael Gerson in the Post: Trumpism “ has given permission for the public expression of shameful sentiments. People such as Blankenship, Williams, Arpaio and Nehlen are part of a relatively (and thankfully) small political group. But the president has set boundaries of political discourse that include them and encourage them. Even when Trump opposes their candidacies, he has enabled the bolder, more confident expression of their bigotry. The Trump era is a renaissance of half-witted intolerance. Trump’s Christian supporters in particular must be so proud. Second, Trump’s attacks on outgroups have revealed the cowardice of a much broader faction within the GOP — those who know better but say little. Some Republican leaders (see House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin) have been willing to criticize specific instances of Trump’s prejudice. But few — and very few with a political future — have been willing to draw the obvious conclusion that Trump is prejudiced, or to publicly resist the trend toward prejudice among the GOP base.
5.16 Doanld Trump: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
5.16 Rex Tillerson, speaking at the Virginia Military Institute: “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.” Truth, he said, is the “central tenet of a free society.” “It is truth that says to our adversaries, ‘We say what we mean, and we mean what we say.’ ” “When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth — even on what may seem the most trivial of matters — we go wobbly on America.” “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”
5.16 Daniel Russell, who served as senior Asia director at the National Security Council under Barack Obama: “President Trump has forged a new category of international relations that I would call ‘diplotainment,’ and the Singapore meeting is going to demonstrate diplotainment at its pinnacle. Imagine the size the crowd is going to be in Singapore — it’s going to be ‘huge.’ But those are very different deliverables than, say, the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
5.16 Yanny or Laurel?
5.16 Dana Milbank in the Post: Sanders, with one presidential run under his belt, was better than most at articulating a unified theory. He spoke of tuition-free public universities, ending institutional racism and the war on drugs, reforming criminal justice and immigration, and fighting climate change — “but there is one issue out there which is so significant and so pervasive that, unless we successfully confront it, it will be impossible for us to succeed on any other of these important issues.” And that is inequality. “The oligarchy in this country, whose greed is insatiable, is destroying Lincoln’s view of America, our vision of America, and is leading us to a government of the few, by the few and for the few.” This is a big idea. Maybe the big idea. Whoever can best make that case should lead the Democrats in 2020

5.15 Tom Wolfe dies at 88
5.15 Henry Kissinger in the Atlantic: “Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine … The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order. But that order is now in upheaval amid a new, even more sweeping technological revolution whose consequences we have failed to fully reckon with, and whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.”
5.15 Donald Trump’s sudden desire to help Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE came just 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half-billion dollars into an Indonesian project that will personally enrich the president.
5.14 Anne Applebaum, in the Post: “Like Cicero, McCain now stands for a set of ideals, expressed in his action and his words. His refusal to use his status as an admiral’s son to get out of a POW camp during the Vietnam War; his principled opposition to the use of torture; his efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement on immigration; his efforts, more generally, to forge bipartisan consensus around foreign policy; his famous refusal, during his failed 2008 campaign for president, to attack Barack Obama as a “Muslim” or a traitor, as many in his party demanded. All these are things one might very well describe as “the effusions of an exalted patriot.” McCain would be the first to say that he didn’t always live up to all of his ideals, but his lifelong attempt to live them helps explain why, as he is dying, there is a sudden flurry of interest in McCain, a glut of commentary about McCain, a plethora of short anecdotes about McCain circulating on social media. This is also why people close to the White House cannot stop themselves from making vulgar comments or vile jokes about McCain: They know that McCain embodies not just a form of patriotism but a kind of courage and honor that Trump will simply never have. The “odious contrast” is particularly stark because, for the moment, Trump’s vision of America has won. The White House is dominated by a completely different worldview: mean-spirited and partisan, self-serving and corrupt, transactional rather than idealistic, more favorable to dictatorship than democracy. Cicero also lost. But his ideas continued to resonate long after his death, even inspiring America’s founding fathers. We have to hope that McCain’s vision of America and its place in the world will outlast him too – even if his ideals appear right now to be in rapid retreat.”
5.12 Avengers: Infinity Wars, with Ginny and Cara
5.12 USA Today: “We read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by Russians. Their dominant strategy: Sowing racial discord” — Of the roughly 3,500 ads published this week [by the House Intelligence Committee], more than half — about 1,950 — made express references to race. Those accounted for 25 million ad impressions — a measure of how many times the spot was pulled from a server for transmission to a device.”
5.12 Gov. Jerry Brown said yesterday that as few as 15,000 tax filers in the state provide one-quarter of all income taxes.
5.11 John Brennan: Kim is tricking Trump by presenting “an appearance of cooperation” and predicted the Korean leader will never agree to give up his nukes. “Unfortunately, I think (Kim) has been masterful in how he has manipulated perceptions and how he has manipulated, and quite frankly duped, Mr. Trump.”
5.11 Phone giant AT&T paid Trump attorney Michael Cohen $600,000 in the days after the president was sworn in for information, including advice on a pending $85 billion merger with Time Warner. Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti added to Cohen’s woes Thursday, warning the embattled fixer he still has more emails and text messages to release.
5.11 Anne Applebaum in the Post: Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal exposed America’s weak hand. For we left — but then what? In different circumstances — after negotiations, after obtaining proof that Iran was in violation of the deal — it might have been possible to recreate the international coalition that imposed sanctions so successfully in the first place. In different circumstances, it might also have been possible to change the deal: That’s what the French president and German chancellor were offering during their recent visits to Washington, though their efforts were rebuffed. In different circumstances, it might even have been possible to threaten Iran militarily — not a position I advocate, but I can imagine how it could be done. Instead, we are now in the worst of all possible worlds. We have broken the agreement with Iran, but we are unable to impose a new sanctions regime in its place. Instead of making a diplomatic investment, we are shouting and barking orders. Just after Trump’s announcement, the American ambassador to Germany issued a threat on Twitter: “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” As a result, European leaders are not talking about Iran. They are talking about how they can protect their companies from American sanctions, and how they might retaliate.

5.10 At 3 Am, Trump goes to Andrews to greet three captives North Korea released
5.10 “I’m crushing it,” Michael Cohen said. Cohen quickly leveraged his role as Trump’s personal attorney, developing a lucrative sideline as a consultant to companies eager for insight into how to navigate the new administration. The rapid flow of millions of dollars to Cohen shows the rush by corporations — unable to rely on the influence of Washington’s traditional lobbying class in dealing with a new, populist outsider president — to lock in relationships with Trump’s inner circle.
5.10 While acknowledging Gina Haspel‘s patriotism, John McCain opposed her nomination as CIA director, saying, “I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty. But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”
5.10 Gina Haspel: “My parents raised me right. I know the difference between right and wrong. … I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that is immoral, even if it is technically legal.”
5.10 Ben Terris of the Post: “For Democrats looking for details, getting a straightforward answer from Haspel was like interrogating vapor.”
5.10 Fareed Zakaria in the Post: Iran is a repressive and anti-American regime that has spread its influence in the Middle East, often to America’s detriment. But it is also an ancient civilization, with centuries of power and influence in the region. The notion that the United States could solve all of its problems with Tehran by toppling the regime is fanciful. It has withstood U.S. pressure and sanctions for nearly four decades. And even if it were somehow possible to topple it, look around. The lesson of the past two decades in the Middle East is surely that regime change leads to chaos, war, refugee flows, sectarian strife and more. It opens a Pandora’s box in a land already rife with woes.
5.9 Reuters: Iranian Parliament speaker Ali Larijani: “ President Donald Trump is not fit for his job. Trump does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues.”
5.9 CNN: Asked by a reporter while holding a Cabinet meeting at the White House whether he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, the President replied with a large smile: “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it.”
5.9 George F. Will in the Post: Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.
5.9 Dana Milbank in the Post: “Tom Cotton is no ordinary guy. Colleagues and staff on the Hill report that he can be as nasty privately as he is publicly, as uncivil to Republicans as he is to Democrats. He imputes ill motives to those who disagree with him. He served in the military but now treats politics as war.He is, in short, an embodiment of what ails Washington: no compromise, and no disagreement without disagreeability.
5.9 Axios: America’s highest paid CEOs are Hock Tan, Broadcom, $103.2 million; Les Moonves, CBS, $69.3 million; W. Nicholas Howley, Transdigm, $61 million; Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner, $49 million; and Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor, $47.9 million


5.8 Trump withdraws US from Iran deal
5.8 Albany
5.8 Pablo Picasso’s 1905 painting “Fillette à la corbeille fleuri,” sold for $115,000,000 at Christie’s record-breaking auction. on Tuesday night. Priscilla Frank on the Huffington Post: “We know the painter referred to her as Linda, and according to a description on Christie’s website, she lived on the “mean streets” of Paris’ bohemian Montmartre district. (It’s also possible, given that Picasso was Spanish, that “Linda,” which translates to “pretty,” was just a nickname.) We know she supported herself financially through sex work and flower sales. We know she posed for other artists, including Amedeo Modigliani and Kees van Dongen. We also know that when Picasso painted her, she was a pubescent girl. We know what her body looks like ― thin, pale and hairless, breasts not yet developed.But the majority of Linda’s story remains undocumented: Her true identity, her age, where she came from, where she ended up, or what transpired when she took off her clothes and posed for a then-21-year-old Picasso, not yet the “greatest artist of the 20th century” as Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s America, would later describe the man. (The same man who allegedly beat one of his muses unconscious and threatened to put out a cigarette on the face of another.) Linda’s is a paradoxical position many women deemed “muses” occupy, their images iconic and their identities irrelevant. “Known and nameless, it’s that dichotomy that stands out,” Shelly Bahl, an artist, curator and educator at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, told HuffPost. Throughout her career, Bahl has worked with museums and public galleries to diversify and re-contextualize their programming and collections, towards challenging institutional sexism and racism. Not even the sudden newsiness of Picasso’s painting ― on the auction block after sitting in Peggy and David Rockefeller’s possession since 1968 ― has provoked substantial academic inquiry into its subject’s identity. (It was purchased over the phone by an unknown bidder at $102,000,000, plus $13,000,000 in additional fees.)Indeed, Porter’s lot essay cataloging the painting’s provenance is well over 4,000 words long, yet it does not delve deeply into Linda’s life, save for the detail that she probably “died sadly young.”She was “the female equivalent of ‘p’tit Louis,’” Porter writes, referring to the model for Picasso’s “Garçon à la pipe,” presumed to have died at a young age on the streets. “We do not know what became of Linda, but the long-term odds of evading a similar fate were not in her favor.”
5.7 Scarlett Johannsen at the Met Gala
5.7 Albany
5.7 Oliver North was named president of the NRA. On Hannity the next night, he said, ““Never believe an Iranian, because if their lips are moving, they’re lying.”
5.5 Paul Krugman in the Times: What employers learned during the long slump is that you can’t cut wages even when people are desperate for jobs; they also learned that extended periods in which you would cut wages if you could are a lot more likely than they used to believe. This makes them reluctant to grant wage increases even in good times, because they know they’ll be stuck with those wages if the economy turns bad again.This hypothesis also explains something else that’s been puzzling me: widespread anecdotes about employers trying to attract workers with signing bonuses rather than higher wages. A signing bonus is a one-time cost; a higher wage, we now know, is more or less forever. If there’s any truth to this story, the protracted economic weakness that followed the financial crisis is still casting a shadow on labor markets despite low unemployment today.

5.5 Citi Field with Ginny and Ron Swoboda. Rockies beat Mets 2-0. Above, Steven Matz, who pitched well, giving up just one run over siz innings, faces Charlie Blackmon
5.4 Rudy Giuliani has warned special counsel Robert Mueller not to target Ivanka Trump in his probe — but said her husband, Jared Kushner, is “disposable.”
5.4 Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted Friday, with lava flows sparking mandatory evacuations
5.3 Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic: He’s not an undisciplined golden boy whose private behavior, if exposed, could destroy his image. He is the first truly shameless president, the first porn president, and that is why it is Stormy Daniels—more than the FBI or the IRS or the string of women who have claimed sexual harassment or abuse by him—who just might take him down. Daniels and Trump built their careers in different industries. She is entirely self-made, he is not. But the business approach she has taken to her porn career is similar to the one he has taken in his real-estate and political enterprises, and although the asymmetry of their respective powers—the aging sex worker and the president of the United States—might seem insurmountable, in many respects they are equally matched.
5.3 Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now a member of President Trump’s legal team, told Fox News that Trump had reimbursed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment made to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Giuliani’s comments suggest that the payment was made to protect Trump’s campaign from Daniels’s allegations of an affair with the then-candidate—meaning that the deal may have violated campaign-finance law.
5.2 Harold Bornstein, the doctor who released a glowing, controversial health assessment of Trump in 2016, now claims that the then-candidate dictated the letter.
5.2 Elizabeth Bruenig in the Post: that our government arises (as national mythology holds) from our own will says something about the government and something about us. If this is the kind of government we want and deserve — one permanently mired in controversy, much of it sordid and exploitative; one that never seems to operate with anything approaching full transparency or honesty; one that mercurially sets its sights on a rotating cast of enemies, blundering from one to another faster than it can dispense with its own personnel — then what kind of people are we? But then there’s the clincher that turns a typical democratic concern into our current nightmare: You actually don’t have much control over what goes on in government, not because of widespread voter fraud or whatever fantasy but because a few wealthy donors and their underlings have the privilege of setting the political agenda, of selecting the choices you will be offered long before you have the opportunity to make them. A sense of bitter impotence underlies the political mood on both the left and right, I think, for precisely this reason. When you know that nothing you do matters very much, even victory is frustrating; defeat, meanwhile, feels like utter despair. It is an unlivable paradox, knowing both that you’re implicated in the authority of your government and that you have little say in which decisions you will eventually be credited with, at least in part. Our condition is particularly tense at the moment because the scandals, intrigues and crusades of the Trump administration are so egregious, meaning that people are even likelier to be drawn into the question of: What binds me to this government, and it to me?
5.1 Richard Cohen in the Post: the term “Trumpism” works best because it describes something uniquely American. It’s true that nations all over the world have moved to the authoritarian right, but China, Russia, Poland, Hungary and others are returning to their histories. These nations were never democracies for very long. The United States is different. The closest thing we previously had to Trump was Huey Long, the 1930s-era governor and then senator from Louisiana. He had the makings of a dictator, but he was killed before he could mount a presidential campaign. Long, to his credit, actually had a program. Trumpism has no such program. He sometimes mentions jobs, but that’s just a talking point. His most consistent reference points are his own grudges. For all his wealth, Trump is a bundle of insecurities and resentments. In that way, he validates similar feelings in others. If they loathe the establishment, so does he. If they loathe foreign aid, so does he. If they misunderstand trade agreements, so does he. If they fret over an America that is less white and more tolerant of homosexuality and immigrants, then so does he. If they recoil from a news media that talks the PC language they abhor, so does he. They are him. He is them. That’s the program.
5.1 NBC: “He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,” Kelly allegedly said during a meeting about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and overall immigration policy. “We’ve got to save him from himself.”

APRIL 2018: “WHY DON’T I JUST FIRE MUELLER?”

4.30 E.J. Dionne Jr in The Washington Post: “One of the many costs of the Trump era is the dumbing down of our political discourse. The incoherent spoken and tweeted outpourings from President Trump and the daily outrages of his administration leave little time for serious debate about policy or meaningful dialogue about our larger purposes. In a normal environment, the Republican Congress’s assault on food-stamp recipients, the administration’s waivers allowing states to erode Medicaid coverage, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s proposed rent increases for some of the country’s poorest people would be front and center in the news.”
4.29 Raul Grijava in the Post: “Marriage equality, long championed by progressives and once opposed even by Democrats such as President Bill Clinton (who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996), is now the law of the land. The progressive-led opposition to Bush’s invasion of Iraq, formerly considered irresponsibleby would-be guardians of “serious” liberal politics, has been vindicated. Progressive ideas once treated as unrealistic – the need to more strictly regulate big banks, for instance, another area in which Clinton was on the opposite side — are now largely treated as common sense.These examples are not as disparate as they may appear. For progressives, the central questions of public policy revolve around who has power, why they have that power and how it can be more fairly distributed. Progressives do not believe anyone should have the power to deny an adult the right to marry the person they love, the power to wage an expensive and destructive war under false pretenses, or the power to destroy millions of lives through economic greed and irresponsibility. We also question the system that granted anyone those powers in the first place, and ask whether a better way of doing things is possible. Anyone who agrees with this approach is more of a progressive than they may have imagined. Power comes in many forms — economic, cultural, political — and in our view, too few people have wielded power throughout American history. This imbalance has hurt millions of hard-working families who haven’t gotten a raise in years. It has also hurt our neighbors the old American political consensus ignored or forgot about — and let’s not forget, they work too and also haven’t gotten a raise in years. Any politics that accepts such harmful power imbalances, or denies some Americans their full rights in the name of moving cautiously, is not “liberalism.” It’s conservatism that doesn’t want to admit what it is. Lyndon B. Johnson was right to sign the Civil Rights Act and enforce desegregation even though it made people uncomfortable and brought political consequences. Those were progressive acts. Anyone looking at today’s political landscape should consider whether they would have had the same courage. The alternative for Democrats, at the time, was suggested by Johnson’s “liberal” critics such as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (N.Y), who wrote a now largely debunked 1965 report blaming African American poverty rates not on discriminatory policies or deeply rooted economic disenfranchisement but on single parenthood. Moynihan’s report, which confused symptoms for causes and suffered a lack of rigorous scholarship that has only become more apparent over time, became a foundational text of the victim-blaming mythology now popular on the political right. Where conservatives, broadly speaking, consider most forms of government activity excessive, and where the non-progressive left is often content to sand down the rough edges of the status quo, progressives often seek deep systemic reforms. Waiting for a broken power structure to right itself is a recipe for failure. Our recent focus on economic fairness, an approach dismissed as “populism” by conservatives uncomfortable with questions about capitalism’s imperfections, is a case in point. It’s worth remembering, especially with President Trump in the White House, that the richest 1 percent in this country hold about 38.6 percent of all privately held wealth — more than is held by the “bottom” 90 percent, otherwise known as the vast majority of Americans. This is not just a wealth imbalance. It’s a power imbalance that threatens our way of life. Progressives are hardly alone in this view. Dating back to the 1980s, voters of all political stripes have consistently said that wealth distribution in the United States is unfair. It’s no accident that progressives today are at the forefront of campaigns for a higher minimum wage, for stiffer bank regulations and government anti-monopoly crackdowns, and for single-payer health care, an idea now supported by more than half of Americans after facing years of condescension even from many liberals. If Democrats take nothing else from our moment of self-reflection, we should remember that on issue after issue, what was once pigeonholed as the “progressive” position has since become the popular position, or become law, or both.
4.29 Franklin Foer in The Atlantic: “The current era of ‘fake news’ may soon seem quaint. Video manipulation is eroding society’s ability to agree on what’s true — or what’s even real.”
4.29 Axios: President Trump tells people he keeps the world guessing with his wild unpredictability. But those who work most closely with him say he’s a one-trick pony in negotiations. The trick: Threaten the outrageous, ratchet up the tension, amplify it with tweets and taunts, and then compromise on fairly conventional middle ground. ​“His ultimate gamble is: ‘You don’t have as big of stones as I do,'” a source close to Trump told me. “‘You’re going to feel too uncomfortable where I go. The stakes are too high. This is too far outside your comfort zone.'” Consider these threats: To withdraw from Syria (he reengaged with missile strikes), withdraw from Afghanistan (he settled on the more-of-the-same strategy recommended by his generals), withdraw from the U.S.-Korean trade deal (Trump’s team negotiated with the Koreans and announced modest changes to the deal), veto the government spending bill (he signed it), and impose severe worldwide tariffs on steel and aluminum (he offered a bunch of exemptions). Sources who’ve been in the room with Trump for negotiations over NATO and various trade deals tell me they’ve at times felt “awkward” watching Trump go in hard against foreign leaders. They say Trump seems immune to awkwardness — but then rarely follows through on his most extreme rhetoric.
4.28 John McCain: “The appearance of toughness, or a reality show facsimile of toughness, seems to matter to Trump more than any of our values.”
4.28 Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Dinner: “There’s a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering, like, three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people who remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving. . . . You guys [the media] are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off him. And if you’re going to profit off Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.
4.27 Richard Haass: “I don’t know how to say ‘charm offensive’ in Korean, but that is what we are seeing. What matters, though, in the context of N-S relations is what the North is prepared to do to reduce the conventional military threat it poses to the South.”
4.27 Reuters: “Smiling and holding hands, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries on Friday, pledging to pursue peace after decades of conflict.”
4.27 Rose‘s funeral. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”
4.26 Philadelphia Inquirer: “A jury in Montgomery County found Bill Cosby guilty of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a verdict that delivered the first celebrity conviction of the #MeToo era.”
4.25 Kanye West in a tweet: “ You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
4.25 Michael Gerson in the Post: “a message of cultural nostalgia will eventually lose in a nation growing more diverse and progressive in its social views. But not yet. And not everywhere. Much about the quality and bearability of U.S. politics going forward will be determined by the grace and understanding of the ascendant group. Views about diversity, sexual norms and the nature of gender are changing. But that transition will be peaceable only in a society committed to genuine pluralism — allowing people with more traditional views to inhabit voluntary institutions (including religious institutions) that reflect their values.”
4.25 Elizabeth Breunig in the Post: “There’s a balance to be struck where it comes to work and rest, but in the United States, values and laws are already slanted drastically in favor of work. I would advise those concerned about Americans’ dignity, freedom and independence to not focus on compelling work for benefits or otherwise trying to marshal people into jobs when what they really need are health care, housing assistance, unemployment benefits and so forth. Instead, we should focus more of our political energies on making sure that American workers have the dignity of rest, the freedom to enjoy their lives outside of labor and independence from the whims of their employers.”
4.24 Mick Mulvaney Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, at the American Bankers Association conference: “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
4.20 David Frum in The Atlantic: Those memos have enhanced James Comey’s testimony, and left Trump looking guiltier than ever. The big news in the Comey memos is that Comey directly told Reince Priebus that a federal court had issued a FISA warrant against his national-security adviser. The president presumably knew this—and kept Flynn on the job while pressuring Comey to end the investigation of Flynn. The leak of the Comey memos has succeeded only in more deeply implicating Trump in the gravest espionage scandal of recent decades.
4.20 Rose dies
4.18 Robert Kagan to Jonathan Capehart: My argument is that the liberal world order is an incredible achievement. It, in fact, is sort of an aberration from history,” Kagan told me during an interview for the latest episode of “Cape Up” recorded in Brussels on March 9. “We need to understand that this liberal world order is an artificial construction. It isn’t just an evolution of mankind, humankind, and it won’t stay. And that the forces of nature, human nature, and the forces of history going back centuries, inclines to overrun this order, unless it’s actively protected.” That jungle regrowth, Kagan said, can be seen already. “You could see it in the upheaval against liberal democracy in Europe, all the populist nationalist movements,” he said. The election of President Trump is part of this upheaval. But because of the United States’ role in the world, it has tremendous consequences. “The remarkable thing that the United States did after World War II, which no country in history had ever done before, was in a way to define our national interest so broadly that they became international responsibilities,” Kagan explained. “Normal nations don’t have international responsibilities. They look out for their own. The United States basically made itself an onshore power in Europe and in Asia, in a way to create zones of peace there, putting an end to German and Japanese ambition, steering Germany and Japan toward economic ambition, economic success, which then made it possible for the neighboring countries in those regions to worry less about being attacked.” As a result, Kagan argues, “The United States basically provided the underpinning which allowed this great economic growth that we’ve seen over the past five decades to take placeBut after the end of the Cold War, Kagan says, “A lot of Americans increasingly [began] asking, ‘Why are we doing this?’” The question got louder as the United States began ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early part of the last decade and as the economy collapsed in 2008. “Trump came in and really ran on the premise, insofar as he talked about foreign policy, that this liberal world order was bad for us, that we were getting screwed in the liberal order,” Kagan told me. “There’s no way in the world that an American public that was concerned about America’s role in the world could have voted for Donald Trump.”
4.18 David von Drehle in the Post: President Trump 2.0, and versions beyond, will take the Trumpian tools of hype, novelty and shock that are so compelling on social media and deploy them with less frenzy, heat and bluster. They’ll resemble Elon Musk — with the proper birth certificate.
4.16 Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer Prize In Music For ‘Damn’
4.15 James Comey on ABC: on impeaching Trump: “I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they’re duty bound to do directly. People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values.” On Charlottesville: “A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. On Trump’s intelligence: “I don’t buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who’s tracking conversations and knows what’s going on.” On the most salacious allegations in the Steele dossier: “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know.” On Trump’s reluctance to criticize Vladimir Putin: “I can understand the arguments why the president of the United States might not want to criticize the leader of another country…But you would think that in private– talking to the F.B.I. director, whose job it is to thwart Russian attacks, you might acknowledge that this enemy of ours is an enemy of ours. But I never saw. And so I don’t know the reason.”
4.15 Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on 60 Minutes: “CEOs with one button on one computer can pay every man and every woman equally. We have the data.”i
4.13 Trump bombs chem weapons stronghold in Syria. Trump tweet: “A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” Trump speech: Assad‘s “evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.” Perhaps his most consequential line: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” Mattis: strikes are a “one-time shot”: “Right now, we have no additional attacks planned.”
4.13 Albany


4.13 William Nack dies at 77. “Oh, I knew all the stories, knew them well, had crushed and rolled them in my hand until their quaint musk lay in the saddle of my palm. Knew them as I knew the stories of my children. Knew them as I knew the stories of my own life. Told them at dinner parties, swapped them with horseplayers as if they were trading cards, argued over them with old men and blind fools who had seen the show but missed the message. Dreamed them and turned them over like pillows in my rubbery sleep. Woke up with them, brushed my aging teeth with them, grinned at them in the mirror.”
4.13 Michael Steel, a former senior aide to John Boehner: “Speaker Ryan is an embodiment of a particular kind of optimistic, pro-growth, pro-free market inclusive conservatism, and that is a very different feel and tone of where the party is going under President Trump.”
4.12 James Comey in A Higher Loyalty: “This president is unethical, and untethered to the truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty.” In a discussion of a White House meeting with Trump and then chief of staff Reince Priebus in February 2017, Comey says that “because he never stops talking”, Trump “pulls all those present into a silent circle of assent”. “The encounter left me shaken,” he writes. “I had never seen anything like it in the Oval Office. As I found myself thrust into the Trump orbit, I once again was having flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and the truth.” Of Trump’s now famous demand over dinner at the White House in January 2017, “I need loyalty”, Comey writes: “To my mind, the demand was like Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony – with Trump in the role of the family boss, asking me if I have what it takes to be a ‘made man’.”
4.11 Yankees, Red Sox brawl
4.11 Paul Krugman tweets: Ryan failed at both his pretended goals and his real goals. He pretended to be a champion of fiscal responsibility, convincing naive centrists that he really meant it; but his legacy is one of bigger deficits. That’s not a surprise, because anyone who actually looked at his plans realized that the alleged deficit reduction was all magic asterisks; take those out and his plans were actually deficit-increasing, because of tax cuts. His real goal was to eviscerate the social safety net, under the pretense of doing it in the name of fiscal responsibility. In particular, his signature proposal was to voucherize, privatize, and defund Medicare. But that’s not happening. Meanwhile, as Speaker, his main achievement, if you can call it that, has been as enabler of corruption and contempt for rule of law. It’s unclear whether the end game will be Democratic takeover of the House or autocracy, American style. But either way, what a legacy
4.11 The Washington Post: “The lesson of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) retirement announcement Wednesday, after less than three years in the position and at the relatively young age of 48, is that no such party exists. Today’s Republican Party is in thrall to President Trump and the 40 percent of the electorate that supports him — and for whose favor candidates in Republican primaries are now competing. That is to say, Republicans are decreasingly conservative and increasingly reactionary.”
4.11 Paul Waldman in the Post: Paul Ryan was always a fraud. He pretended to be a wonk’s wonk, but his budget and policy plans were full of sleight-of-hand and magic asterisks that fell apart on the most superficial examination. He pretended to be terribly worried about the deficit, but he happily jacked it up when he got the chance. He pretended to care deeply about the poor, but would have made their lives impossibly more miserable had doing so been politically tenable. And he pretended to be scandalized by Trump’s repugnant words and actions but, after a few regretful words and a furrowing of his brow, would always go right back to supporting the president. So while he will surely be remembered as one of the least effective speakers we’ve ever had, you can’t say Ryan didn’t faithfully represent his party.


4.10 “Why don’t I just fire Mueller?”
4.10 Speaker Paul Ryan announced he will not seek reelection. “I intend to full my serve term,” he announced.
4.9 Trump: “I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down. We’ve given, I believe, over a million pages worth of documents to the Special Counsel. They continue to just go forward. And here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things. We’re the greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now — and actually, much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination, it started. And it’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
4.9 According to Doug Cruetz, the managing director and senior research analyst covering media and entertainment for the financial services company Cowen, “Grand Theft Auto 5” has made more money than any film, book or game ever.
4.9 The Washington Post: “Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”
4.7 Great Lectures near Bryant Park. Prof. Charles Dewof Williams was only OK; gave a nice talk about “Making of a Racist,” but didn’t speak to his assigned topic; Prof. James Oakes of CUNY was better on subject “Did Lincoln Really Want to Free the Slaves?”
4.4 The high school I attended wasn’t segregated, strictly speaking–there were about dozen African-American boys among the 1200 students. And there was also a black man on the faculty–a French teacher named Paul Robertson. He was tall and lean and young, surely under 25. This may have been his first job. He was my teacher for first year French, and we got along well. And, may I say, he taught me well. La plume de ma tante est STILL sur la table, if you know what I mean. In April 1968, Dr. King‘s assassination was hugely disturbing. Not only the murder, but the riots that followed, where I lived in Baltimore, but all around the country. In the first class after the assassination, Mr. Robertson did an unusual thing. Instead of conjugating verbs, he led us in a discussion about King, and race. It was the first time I had ever talked to a black person about race, and if one my classmates had more experience, he wasn’t showing it. I wish I remembered what any of us said; part of me fears that the whole effort petered out, and we returned to lessons. But over the years, I became more aware of the courage that Mr. Robertson’s effort entailed, of his sense of responsibility in trying to engage the adolescent half-apes in his charge. That took great commitment. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur, wherever you are.
4.4 David Brooks in the New York Times: “Putin has established himself as one pole in the great global debate of the era, the debate between authoritarianism and democracy. All over the world political regimes are adjusting, becoming either a little more authoritarian or a little more democratic. [T]he momentum is clearly in the authoritarian direction. [W]hen you pause to ask who is the global leader of the liberal democratic camp, you come up with no name at all.”
4.3 DiDi Gregorius‘ 2 HRs, 8 RBIs lead Yanks over Rays in home opener
4.3 Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention: “Conservative Christians must be careful to remember the ways in which our cultural anthropology perverted our soteriology and ecclesiology. It is to our shame that we ignored our own doctrines to advance something as clearly demonic as racial pride. So, regardless of our backgrounds, it is appropriate that we pause and consider not only Dr. King’s life and legacy, but also our own past and future. As we do so, we are reminding ourselves of how far we have to go as Americans to see the promise of racial justice realized.”
4.3 The study from Ohio State University finds that fake news probably played a significant role in depressing Hillary Clinton‘s support on Election Day. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed but which may be the first look at how fake news affected voter choices, suggests that about 4 percent of President Barack Obama‘s 2012 supporters were dissuaded from voting for Clinton in 2016 by belief in fake news stories.
4.3 Bloomberg: “Elon Musk, in a testy Twitter exchange, said he is ‘back to sleeping at the factory’ while trying to fix production delays with the Model 3 electric car.”
4.2 Villanova beats Michigan for the men’s NCAA basketball title


4.1 Ginny and Molly spend a few days in New Orleans
4.1 Notre Dame wins the women’s NCAA basketball title.

MARCH 2018: “THIS IS A MAJOR BREACH OF TRUST, AND I’M REALLY SORRY”


3.29 Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant and rec league goalie, entered the Blackhawks game agains the Jets, played as an emergency goalie, made seven saves, and was named player of the game.
3.29 Rusty Staub dies
3.26 Washington Post: “Why are white Christians sticking so closely to President Trump, despite these claims of sexual indiscretions? And why are religious individuals and groups that previously decried sexual impropriety among political leaders suddenly willing to give Trump a “mulligan” on his infidelity?
Our new study points to . . . Christian nationalism — their view of the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation.”
3.26 Roger Cossack in the New York Times: “He is looking for the guy who can say, ‘I know how to handle Mueller. I know you think he is bad, and we’ll take care of it.’ Problem is, you can’t find that lawyer, because no one will be able to do that.”
3.26 Blitt in The New Yorker
3.25 Stormy Daniels discusses her affair with Trump on 60 Minutes. She says she was threatened.
3.25 New York Post: “Oy vey! Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday made fun of the “rhythm” of “our Jewish brothers and sisters” during a speech at a predominantly black church in Harlem. Cuomo strayed onto the risky terrain of religious humor and stereotypes while thanking the congregation at Mount Neboh Baptist Church for the invitation to speak. “I want you to know as a matter of full disclosure, I am a Catholic. Catholics basically believe the same teachings that Baptists believe,” he said. “We just do it without the rhythm. But we try. We are not as without rhythm as some of our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Cuomo even singled out the off-beat swaying of Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, a former campaign adviser who is Jewish, who was sitting in the front row wearing a yarmulke. “I was watching Mr. Sheinkopf here in the front row moving to the music,” Cuomo said of the politico, who was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi in 2011. “It was ugly, I’ll tell you the truth,” the governor added.
3.24 Author Philip Kerr dies
3.24 Dinner at Living Social in Mt. Kisco with Greg and Susan and Cathy and Ginny
3.24 Kansas State and Loyola Chicago become the first 9 vs. 11 teams to complete in an Elite Eight game in an NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Loyola Chicago wins, becoming the fourth No. 11 seed to move into the Final Four
3.24 Rick Santorum on CNN: “How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations where there is a violent shooter and you can actually respond to that? They took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I as an individual deal with this problem? How am I gonna do something about stopping bullying in my community? What am I gonna do to actually help respond to a shooter?’ ”
3.24 800,000 people march against guns
3.24 David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, announced a plan to stop school shooters: “Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks, and they will be stoned.”
3.23 Trump names John Bolton National Security AdvisorGeorge Will in the Post: “Because John Bolton is five things President Trump is not — intelligent, educated, principled, articulate and experienced — and because of Bolton’s West Wing proximity to a president responsive to the most recent thought he has heard emanating from cable television or an employee, Bolton will soon be the second-most dangerous American. On April 9, he will be the first national security adviser who, upon taking up residence down the hall from the Oval Office, will be suggesting that the United States should seriously consider embarking on war crimes.”
3.23 Congress passes $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill
3.22 Samantha Bee: “Hope Hicks, thanks to your force field of bland, pretty whiteness, you’ll probably escape this nightmare presidency unscathed. You’ll disappear into the nice, wealthy anonymity in a nice town somewhere and someday you’ll go to the gates of the nice, white Protestant heaven where St. Peter will laugh in your face and say, ‘You think you’re getting in here? You helped burn down democracy, bitch. Get your ass downstairs.’”
3.22 Carl Sagan in 1995: “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”
3.22 Cheri Jacobus, a Republican PR/political consultant, compared “Hicks’s role as White House communications director to that of a ” ‘comfort goat’ placed in the stall of Secretariat to keep him calm. ”
3.22 Edward Stack, chief executive of Dick’s: “The kids in Florida and across the nation have taken a stand and been brave enough to make their voices heard. The majority of Americans are demanding that members of Congress take a stand and be brave enough to do their jobs.”
3.22 Charles Lane in the Post, on Vaclev Havel‘s Power and the Powerless: Havel memorably asked his readers to imagine a greengrocer who obediently posts a hackneyed slogan — “workers of the world, unite!” — in the window of his shop. He asks us to imagine as well all the people who unthinkingly pass by each day. Everyone takes the slogan for granted; it’s part of the “panorama.” Havel defined the panorama as an ideologically manipulated urban landscape that communicates to people “where they are living and what is expected of them,” and what they must do, lest they lose “their peace and tranquility and security.” The panorama included not only shop-window slogans but also statues of Joseph Stalin, Vladi­mir Lenin and other Soviet heroes. What would happen, Havel asked, if one fine day that greengrocer stopped going along to get along? If he started thinking about the panorama, instead of accepting it? Suppose he takes down the sign and begins “to say what he really thinks at political meetings,” or “even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support.”
3.21 Mark Zuckerberg: “‘This is a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened.’
3.21 John Brennan on Morning Joe: “I think he’s afraid of the president of Russia.”
3.21 Peter King ran a letter from me in SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback’s Tuesday Mailbag! Says Pete: “Great email, Jamie.”
3.21 Another nor-easter.
3.21 Texas bombing suspect blows self up during police chase
3.21 Washington Post: Republicans in Congress are hesitant to antagonize President Trump ahead of ahead of difficult midterm elections, wary of sparking a backlash from a committed grassroots base more loyal to the White House. Amid sky-high Democratic enthusiasm and a developing “blue wave,” Republicans can’t afford a war with Trump that depresses GOP turnout. Republicans might be worried about Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, but they are reluctant to push back, much less support legislation to curtail the president’s ability to fire Mueller and sideline the federal probe . “The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature,” said Sen. Bob Corker, who decided to retire when his second term concludes at year’s end, after periodically sparring with Trump. “People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not,” Corker added.
3.21 Fox commentator Ralph Peters: “[Fox is] “a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”
3.21 Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Well, I think what the president will have done is stopped an investigation in whether or not his campaign colluded with the Russians, what effect the Russians had on the 2016 campaign. I can’t see it being anything other than a corrupt purpose.”
3.20 Student gunman in Maryland dies after shooting two others
3.20 Bomb in Austin explodes, apparantly fifth in a series
3.20 “Disturbing undercover interviews with executives from U.K.-based political research firm Cambridge Analytica have revealed admissions of bribery, entrapment and the use of sex workers to sway political elections around the world, according to an investigative series airing Monday.” U.K. authorities have taken over the investigation into Cambridge Analytica.
3.19 Cynthia Nixon announces her bid for governor
3.19 Olivia Nuzzi in New York: ““Hope!” he’d scream. “Hopey!” “Hopester!” “Get in here!” Many requests were mundane. “He doesn’t write anything down,” one source close to the White House told me. “He doesn’t type, he dictates. ‘Take this down, take this down: Trump: richest man on Earth.’ ” A second source who meets regularly with the president told me that Hicks acted almost as an embodiment of the faculties the Trump lacked — like memory. “He’ll be talking, and then right in the middle he’ll be like, ‘Hope, what was that … thing?’ ” When the name of a senator or congressman or journalist came up, Trump would prompt Hicks to provide a history of their interactions, asking, “Do we like him?” “And she fucking remembers!” (Trump has said his own memory is “one of the greatest memories of all time.”) “She’s the only person he trusts,” the second source continued. “He doesn’t trust any men and never has. He doesn’t like men, you see. He has no male friends. I was just with one of them the other day, someone who’s described as one of his closest friends, and he doesn’t know him very well. But a small number of women, including his longtime assistant back in New York, he really listens to them — especially if he’s not banging them. Because, like a lot of men but more so, Trump really does compartmentalize the sex and the emotional part.”
3.19 Finland topped last year’s winner Norway in the annual World Happiness Report. Finland placed well across all indicators – income, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, trust and generosity – in the United Nations report, which ranked 156 countries on happiness levels using data from Gallup World Poll Surveys from 2015 to 2017. The US fell four places to 18th.
3.18 Elizabeth Bruenig in the Washington Post: “Sanders pointed out that the top 1 percent of earners would rake in roughly 83 percent of the benefits of President Trump’s tax cuts, a series of policies for which Koch-led groups spent more than $20 million. As Yale University political scientist Jacob Hacker pointed out in The Post, the decision to supply a generous tax cut to the rich — greatly encouraged by the vast wealth of billionaire donors — is a de facto decision to reduce expenditures that help ordinary Americans, “like public investments in infrastructure, education, research and development, and the regulation of labor and financial markets.” Put simply, inequality allows the wealthiest Americans to exert undue control over politics, thereby maintaining the conditions that made them rich in the first place, and hamstringing government efforts that could increase opportunities for the rest of us.”
3.17 The New York Times and The Observer of London say that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, had used the Facebook data to develop methods that it claimed could identify the personalities of individual American voters and influence their behavior. The firm’s so-called psychographic modeling underpinned its work for the Trump campaign in 2016, though many have questioned the effectiveness of its techniques. Facebook did not inform users whose data had been harvested, however. The lack of disclosure could violate laws in Britain and in many American states.
3.17 Former CIA director John Brennan on Twitter: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”
3.17 Howard Dean on Twitter:: “Based on what Brennan has said and what the Mercers did, I am thinking there will be treason charges before we are done with all this.”
3.16 The Economist: “America is rattled. An investigation is under way that is expected to conclude that China’s theft of intellectual property has cost American companies around $1trn; stinging tariffs may follow.”
3.16 Elevator
3.15 Max Boot in the Washington Post: “What would the West do if it were to get serious about Russian aggression? Putin and his cronies have billions of dollars stashed in the West. London is a particular favorite of Russian exiles. Freeze the money. Seize the properties. Hurt them where it counts. The United States can also designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, just like North Korea, which also used a nerve agent for an assassination abroad. Stop treating Russia like a legitimate state: Putin has already been kicked out of the Group of 8 gatherings; he can be removed from the G-20, too. Kick Russia out of the SWIFT system, denying Russian banks access to international monetary transfers. Invoke NATO’s Article 5 collective-defense clause.”
3.14 British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered Wednesday the immediate expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed to be involved in espionage, in the first reprisals against Moscow for a chemical attack against a former double agent.
3.13 Stephen Hawking dies at 76. Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York: “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.”
3.13 James Hohmann in the Washington Post: Republicans tried to run on the tax cuts, which they’ve promised for months will be the centerpiece of their 2018 messaging. Commercials highlighted Lamb’s opposition to reform and relief for the middle class. When these spots didn’t move the needle, GOP groups stopped talking about them. Politico’s Kevin Robillard pulled the data to show what was on the airwaves: “For the weeks of Feb. 4 and Feb. 11, roughly two-thirds of the broadcast television ads from Saccone’s campaign, the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee mentioned taxes … For the week of Feb. 18, that dropped to 36 percent, and to 14 percent the week after. … Since the beginning of March, tax ads have been essentially nonexistent.” These groups then hammered Lamb, a Marine Corps veteran and former prosecutor, as pro-sanctuary cities. Then they accused him of letting dangerous drug dealers get off the hook for their crimes with lenient sentences. (The dark turn the ads took in the final weeks foreshadows a particularly nasty fall campaign. If you live in a battleground and have young children, you might want to keep them away from the tube.) Something similar happened in last year’s Virginia governor’s race.Republican Ed Gillespie initially made a proposal for tax cuts the centerpiece of his campaign. When that failed to excite conservatives, he embraced divisive wedge issues. Gillespie defended Confederate monuments, attacked his opponent on sanctuary cities and called him weak on the MS-13 street gang. Democrat

3.15 At Spoken Interludes in Hastings, the reading authors included my pal Bruce Handy (Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult); James Hamblin (If Our Bodies Could Talk: Operating and Maintaining a Human Body)and Amy Bass (One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together)
Ralph Northam won anyway.
3.13 Democrat Conor Lamb narrowly elected to Congress in solid Republican district in Western Pennsylvania, a further indication of the coming blue wave. Washington Post: “Lamb stressed the importance of organized labor to the future of the Democratic Party, spoke up for the value of unions and work, and emphasized the importance of maintaining bedrock programs such as Medicare and Social Security. He had also campaigned against the GOP tax cuts as a giveaway to the rich — and, importantly, blasted the tax cuts for creating deficits that would require deep cuts to entitlements, harming the middle class.”
3.13 President Trump‘s fires-via-tweet of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Axios: White House officials say that it’s getting ever more difficult for aides to disagree with Trump, or stand up to him about the consequences of decisions great and small. . . .Trump trusts his own instincts and counsel more than he did a year ago.” New York Times: “Tillerson’s dismissal, on the heels of Gary D. Cohn’s resignation, pulls the Trump administration further out of the economic and foreign policy mainstream and closer to the nationalist ideas that animated Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
3.13 Albany
3.12 Albany
3.12 Tim Berners-Lee: “What’s more, the fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponise the web at scale. In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data. We’ve looked to the platforms themselves for answers. Companies are aware of the problems and are making efforts to fix them — with each change they make affecting millions of people. The responsibility — and sometimes burden — of making these decisions falls on companies that have been built to maximise profit more than to maximise social good. A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions.”
3.9 Three weeks after a school shooting claimed 17 lives in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) defied his longtime allies at the National Rifle Association on Friday to sign into law a new set of gun regulations
3.6 Took the Push the Cush Tour to the Stamford Historical Society. First Nutmeg State Appearance! Thanks to all.
3.8 Trump said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May in an effort to achieve permanent denuclearization.
3.7 Yascha Mounk, in The Washington Post: “The evidence of the past years seems to suggest that popular support for democracy has always depended on what political scientists call “performance legitimacy”–the ability of a political system to deliver the goods–to a much greater extent than we realized. So as people have grown frustrated with the ability of the democratic system to give them what they want, they have rapidly changed their attitudes about the system.”
3.5 Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez: “This isn’t Red vs. Blue. This is Death vs. Money.”
3.4 E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Post: “How did we get a government of this sort? For decades, our country has been witness to a war on public life. Legitimate dissatisfaction with government has turned into contempt for government itself and a denial of the indispensability of politics. We value expertise from our doctors, nurses, engineers and scientists. But when it comes to government, there is a popular assumption that those who spend their lives mastering the arts of administration, politics and policymaking must be up to no good. This inclination, by the way, is prevalent in other democracies, too. It is an attitude that leads voters to mistake inexperience for purity and outsider status (often, as in Trump’s case, a feigned outsiderism) for an exceptional understanding of the people’s wishes. It has turned the word “politician” into an epithet, even though most of our best presidents (Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt especially) have been politicians through and through. The cliched and supposedly high-minded distinction between “a politician” and “a statesman” was always wrong. It’s coming back to haunt us.”
3.4 The Shape of Water, Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney win Oscars
3.4 Jeffrey Fleishman in the LA Times: “There has been a shift … in the cult of celebrity. Selfies, Instagram and YouTube have made us our own celebrities; the real ones posing beside us at film premieres and restaurants have become extras in our videoed romans à clef. They don’t seem as otherworldly as they once did. Notions of fame have been reinvented, and the audience has become the star in an endless loop of blurred lines.”
3.4 Optimum out
3.3 Optimum out
3.3 Alex Baldwin as Trump on SNL: “I said I was going to run this country like a business; that business is a Waffle House at 2 a.m. Crazies everywhere, staff walking out in the middle of their shift, managers taking money out of the cash register to pay off the Russian mob.”
3.3 Sen Tom Cotton at the Gridiron Club: “More than a few reporters have strained to find the sources of the electrifying personality that’s carried me so far in politics … This is what you get when you combine the common touch of Harvard, the sensitivity of the Army, and the personal mentoring of Dick Cheney.”
3.3 Washington Post: Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility — with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center. These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much farther President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: “We haven’t bottomed out.” Trump is now a president in transition, at times angry and increasingly isolated. He fumes in private that just about every time he looks up at a television screen, the cable news headlines are trumpeting yet another scandal. He voices frustration that son-in-law Jared Kushner has few on-air defenders. He revives old grudges. And he confides to friends that he is uncertain about whom to trust.
3.2 Robert Kagan in the Washington Post: “It is impossible to imagine Trump and his repeated big lies that go viral except in the digital-video age. It is impossible to imagine our present political polarization except in the age of the Internet, which drives people to sites of extreme views that validate their preexisting prejudices. And, in the spirit of Hollywood, it is impossible to imagine the degree and intensity of emotional and sensory manipulation, false rumors, exaggerations and character assassination that decay our public dialogue except in this new and terrifying age of technology which has only just begun. Digital-video technology, precisely because it is given to manipulation, is inherently controlling. Think of how the great film directors of the 20th century were able to take over your mind for a few hours: a new experience for audiences that previous generations had never known. Theater may be as old as the ancient Greeks, but the technology of film lent a new and powerful force to the theatrical experience. Moreover, it was contained within a limited time period, and afterward you came back to the real world. In the 21st century, dictators may have the capability to be the equivalent of film directors, and the show never stops. Indeed, Joseph Goebbels would undoubtedly thrive in today’s world. As for warfare itself, it will be increasingly about dividing and demoralizing enemy populations through disinformation campaigns whose techniques are still in their infancy. The Chinese, eventually with the help of big data, are working on following the Internet searches of their citizens, and then determining who needs to be singled out for further observation. If a government or a company knows the destination and sequence of all of your searches, it is virtually inside your mind. The possibilities are frightening, and the vistas for oppression unbounded. The digital age, originally sold to us as empowering, could yet become the greatest threat to free thought and democracy in history. The very idea of something going viral is an expression of the mob more than of the individual. The fact that Google partially ranks search results in terms of how many other sites have linked to them reinforces groupthink, not individuality. The entire logic of the Web works toward popularity, not quality, and certainly not toward truth. Never before have we had to fight for democracy and individual rights as now in this new and — in some sense — dark age of technology. We must realize that the fight for democracy is synonymous with the fight for objectivity, which lies at the core of professional journalism — a calling whose foundational spirit was forged in the print-and-typewriter age, when mainly the movies were fake. We will fight best by thinking tragically to avoid tragedy. This means learning to think like the tyrants who feed and prosper on misinformation so we can keep several steps ahead of them. Only in that way can we build safeguards against the specific dangers of the digital experience. The pioneers of Silicon Valley were inherent optimists who simply believed in connecting the world. But it is precisely such integration that provides our authoritarian enemies with access into our own democratic systems. The future will be about wars of integration rather than wars of geographic separation. So now constructive pessimism is called for. The innocent days when illusions were the province of movie stage sets are way behind us.”
3.2 Nor’easter strikes. Bombogenesis is expected
3.1 Steve Bannon: “In the modern digital age — and [Obama chief strategist David] Axelrod saw this very early on, and we a little bit copied it — there’s three things that are important: It’s authenticity of candidate. The one thing the Internet has done is blown through phonies. Number two is the importance of actionable ideas. Obama had a series of actionable ideas. Donald Trump had a series of actionable ideas. It’s the reason my office was called the war room. Number three is — and this is also an Obama and Trump [characteristic] — a volunteer army of dedicated people.”

FEBRUARY 2018: “TAKE THE GUNS FIRST, GO THROUGH DUE PROCESS SECOND”

2.28 Albany
2.28 The Beast from the East: Snow storms from Siberia blasted Britain and Ireland on Thursday with the worst weather since 1991
2.28 Quartz: Rhesus macaques prefer evocative imagery in advertising, preferably featuring female macaque backsides or dominant males.
2.28 President Trump: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
2.27 Hope Hicks tells Congress that she tells `little white lies’ for Trump
2.26 Daily Kos: “The intensity of feeling is hardening against the president. The percentage who “strongly disapprove” of him is more than double the percentage who “strongly approve,” 39% compared with 16%.
2.26 Daily Kos: By almost 2-1, 61%-33%, they say tightening gun-control laws and background checks would prevent more mass shootings in the United States. By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, they say semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, used by the Florida shooter, should be banned. By more than 6-1, 76%-12%, they say people who have been treated for mental illness should be banned from owning a firearm.
2.25 Anne Applebaumin the Washington Post: “Enrage the base. Use violent language. Create fear and anxiety. Talk the country down, tell everybody that things are getting worse. Promote division — sort Americans into “us” and “them,” in speech and online. Undermine democracy itself: Hint heavily that the vote is rigged, that the system is broken, that the nation’s ideals are trash. Engage in voter suppression, too: Discourage potential opponents from going to the polls at all. Imply that your rivals are crooks or thieves, and lie about their records. These were the tactics used by the Russian “Internet Research Agency” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, brilliantly exposed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s indictment. . . . . There’s only one thing we’ve forgotten: These were the same tactics used by Donald Trump himself.”
2.26 Donald Trump: “”I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon.”
2.25 Cynthia Heimel, author of Sex Tips for Girls, dies at 70. “A sense of humor isn’t everything. It’s only 90 percent of everything.”
2.24 Quartz: $105,000 is the point at which greater household income in the US is not associated with greater happiness. The technical term for this cutoff is the income “satiation point.”
2.24 Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel: “Instead of rushing in, several Broward sheriff’s deputies waited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while a killer gunned down schoolchildren, according to other officers on the scene.”
2.24 Miami Herald: “Despite … dire warnings and the FBI’s awareness of a September 2017 tip … labeling Cruz as a potential ‘school shooter,’ … the [FBI] call center intake specialist and a supervisor decided not to take further investigative action, … according to … Republican Sen. Charles Grassley,” chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating.
2.24 Fig and Olive with Paul and Anne and Ginny
2.24 The US men’s curling team beat Sweden and captured Olympic gold for the first time in history on Saturday – and then was awarded the wrong set of medals. Four of those five US curlers were given medals meant for the winners of the women’s competition.
2.23 Albany
2.23 Trump reads `The Snake’ at PAC. “ ‘Oh, shut up, silly woman!’ said the reptile with a grin. ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in,’ ” Trump will say, his voice often rising to a growl. The lyrics were written in the 1960s by Oscar Brown Jr., an outspoken singer, songwriter, social activist and former Communist Party member from Chicago.
2.22 Shepard Smith on Fox News: White House senior aide Jared Kushner’s multiple omissions on required financial disclosure forms for his security clearance would “be a crime, punishable by prison” for other people. “Apparently not in this case.”
2.22 Daily Kos: Samantha Fuentes, who was shot in both legs during the Parkland assault, said she had felt no reassurance during a phone call from the president to her hospital room last week. “He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she said in an interview after being discharged from the hospital. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life.He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.” Ms. Fuentes, who was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye, said Mr. Trump had called the gunman a “sick puppy” and said “‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like, seven times.”
2.22 Albany
2.22 Fareed Zakaria: “In just one year in office, Trump has already done damage. Besides denigrating critical media outlets and lauding friendly ones, he has threatened to strengthen libel laws, strip network licenses and tax the owner of a particular newspaper. His administration has blocked the merger of a news organization he considers biased, while facilitating the merger of an organization with more favorable coverage. “An institution,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Institutions are collections of rules and norms agreed upon by human beings. If leaders attack, denigrate and abuse them, they will be weakened, and this, in turn, will weaken the character and quality of democracy. The American system is stronger than most, but it is not immune to these forces of democratic decay.”
2.21 The US Women’s Hockey Team beats Canada in a shootout, wins the gold medal
2.21 U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney: “Yeah, well, obviously there is a lot of politics in it, and it’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but the media doesn’t talk about that either.”
2.20 David Hogg, 17-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior, to CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I am not a crisis actor. I’m somebody that had to witness this and live through this and I continue to have to do that. The fact that some of the students at Stoneman Douglas high school … are showing more maturity and political action than many of our elected officials is a testament to how disgusting and broken our political system is right now in America. But we’re trying to fix that.””
2.20 Philip Bump in the Post: “We’re just four presidential lives away from the Founding Fathers. John Adams — or Thomas Jefferson, if you want to talk about an author of the Declaration of Independence — was alive at the same time as Andrew Johnson. Johnson was alive at the same time as Herbert Hoover. Hoover was still alive when Trump was born. But as a commenter noted after that original article, we can collapse American history even further. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, Martin Van Buren was 6 years old. He died when William Howard Taft was 4. Taft died when George H.W. Bush was 6.”
2.20 Trump orders Sessions to draw up regulations banning bump stocks
2.20 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy. That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. . . .Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here’s an imperfect but close analogy: It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”. . . It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it. . . . That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.
2.20 Andrew Ross Sorkin in the Times: “What if the finance industry — credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express; credit card processors like First Data; and banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — were to effectively set new rules for the sales of guns in America?”
2.19 Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir not only won the gold in ice dancing, but broke the world record in total points.
2.19 Philip Rucker in the Post: “For everyone, [the Florid school shooting] was a distraction or a reprieve,” said the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”
2.19 Eugene Robinson in the Post: “Late Saturday night, well past his usual bedtime, Trump was wide-awake and still tweeting: “The only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Stop laughing, Vladimir Putin. You’ll hurt yourself.”
2.18 Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “For whatever reason, Trump is unwilling to accept the reality of what happened in 2016 and, more alarming, unwilling to do his duty to seek to prevent it from happening again. We are at war with an enemy plotting to undermine our democracy, and our supposed leader, far from working to halt this, seems determined to ignore it. Where is Trump’s outrage now that the evidence against Russia is public, not that he needed to wait for that? It is invisible.”
2.17 After dinner at Rye House in Port Chester, saw Black Panther with Ginny, Molly Cara and Shawn.
2.16 Quinta Jurecic in the Washington Post: “Trump is presiding over a great destabilization in American life, and his attacks on institutions are a key aspect of this uprooting. He appoints Cabinet secretaries whose main goal seems to be destroying their own agencies, and he directs bile toward institutions personally. He began his presidency in a battle with the intelligence agencies, mocking their report on Russian election interference and comparing them to officials in “Nazi Germany.” He has since moved on to attacking the FBI and the Justice Department for failing to display adequate loyalty. He regularly complains about the civil service, saying he is being thwarted by a malignant “deep state.” He dubbed a federal judge who ruled against his immigration ban a “so-called judge” and accused the courts of putting the country in “peril.” He suggested that the news media is the “enemy of the American people.” With each new outrage, Trump smashes assumptions about the things a president would never do or say. Nonpartisan norms we thought we could depend on, such as the independence of the Justice Department and the importance of a free press, appear under threat.”
2.16 LeBron James: “When I was growing up, there were, like, three jobs that you looked to for inspiration, or you felt like these were the people that could give me life. It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was like the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you could grab inspiration from them. If there was a neighborhood African American cop, and he was cool as hell coming around, I felt like I could be him. I never felt like I could be the president of the United States, but I grabbed inspiration from that. At this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.” Kevin Durant in response: “What’s going on in our country, it’s all about leadership, and I learned that playing basketball — I learned a lot of life skills from playing basketball. You need to empower people, you need to encourage people, and that’s what builds a great team. And I feel like our team, as a country, is not run by a great coach.” James: “It’s not even a surprise when he says something. It’s laughable.”
2.16 Max Boot in the Washington Post: “Politicians, primarily but not exclusively Republicans, are turning their idolatrous worship of the Second Amendment into a suicide pact. If the United States had been under assault from Muslim terrorists, they would have acted long ago. But apparently homegrown mass murderers are of scant concern even though they kill far more people than terrorists do.”
2.16 James Hohmann in the Washington Post: “Donald Trump could have gotten his border wall. Democrats were willing to cave on that in exchange for saving the “dreamers.” That would have fulfilled the president’s single biggest campaign promise, and he might have taken a triumphant victory lap. But Trump moved the goal posts, demanded dramatic reductions in legal immigration and then mobilized to kill a bipartisan compromise that would have given him much of what – until very recently – he said he wanted. The White House demanded all or nothing. For now, he gets nothing. Savvy insiders from both parties who have worked on this issue for years were taken aback by Trump’s rejection of the deal brokered by Sens. Susan Collins and Mike Rounds, which Democratic leader Chuck Schumer pushed many members of his caucus to back against their will. Then, in a stinging rebuke, only 39 senators voted for Trump’s four-prong immigration framework. He needed 60. The president’s refusal to accept a meaningful victory, because he wanted a bigger one, is just the latest illustration of the degree to which he has fallen under the thrall of his most rigidly ideological advisers. From entitlements to infrastructure and even Russia, Trump has moved toward the hardliners who work for him this week. After Trump purged and then disavowed Steve Bannon, the conventional wisdom on the D.C. cocktail party circuit was that the president would probably move more toward the GOP establishment and perhaps even moderate. That was always wishful thinking on their part. This week has shown it was wrong.”
2.16 Former ambassador Michael McFaul on MSNBC: “The Internet Research Agency is run by a close, personal friend of Vladimir Putin. They would have never undertaken … this audacious operation without the blessing of the Kremlin. And nothing in Russia happens without Vladimir Putin being involved. . . .three cheers to the FBI and to … Robert Mueller and to everybody that was involved in this — and probably more than just the FBI. This was an incredible achievement, and that will get people’s attention … That’s an instance of deterrence. We were attacked. Our sovereignty was violated. Spies came into our country.”
2.16 Mueller indicts 13 Russians for tampering with the 2016 election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “The nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists.”
2.15 Lita Taufatofua, cross country skier from Tonga, finished in 114th place in the 15km cross-country skiing event, taking 56:41.1 to complete the course, finishing third from last. However, he met his goals: “The first step, finish before they turn the lights off; that’s number one. Don’t ski into a tree, that’s number two.”
2.15 Shepard Smith on Fox: “Forget your political arguments, why can’t we come together as a society and say, ‘We’re going to study this; we’re going to research this; we’re going to put our best and brightest together. Put them all in a room, give them funds and give them whatever they need to figure out why are our children killing each other more in the United States than anywhere else in the world?'”
2.15 Joe Scarborough, on MSNBC: “I grew up in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, for most of my life. You went to church with people that went hunting with their kids. … After something like this happens, it’s not like it’s just my friends in the media, … it’s my friends who have taken their children hunting, whose fathers took them hunting when they were 5 years old, that are saying: ‘I don’t need an AR-15 to go hunting. And I don’t need an AR-15 to protect my family and my home in Pensacola. If somebody walks through my front door, I’ve got all the firepower I need.'” Jon Meacham, to Scarborough: “There’s a huge opening here for a significant moment of leadership. If you’re a United States senator or if you’re the president of the United States, this is moment where you can speak out against the interest group that has an outsized influence over the lives of our children [the NRA]. Speak out, take them on. We remember political leaders, we remember generations — because this is not just the leaders, it’s also us. Because we have to make it possible for them. We remember those leaders and those generations who stand up against clear, self-evident wrongs. This is a self-evident wrong. And if I were in the United States Senate today or the White House today, I’d be thinking that this is a moment to stand up and be counted.”
2.15 EJ Dionne in the Washington Post: “Here is a bet that there is also a quiet revolution of conscience in the country among those who are sick to death of the chaos they see every day on the news, a White House whose energy is devoted to stabbing internal foes in the back and a president who can’t stop thinking about himself. In the face of this, demanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”
2.15 Albany
2.14 Jimmy Kimmel: “You like to say this is a mental health issue but one of your very first acts as president, Mr. Trump, was to actually roll back the regulations that were designed to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. You did that. Your party voted to repeal the mandates on coverage for mental health. So, I agree, this is a mental illness issue because if you don’t agree we need to do something, you’re obviously mentally ill.”
2.14 Albany
2.13 Omarosa, on “Celebrity Big Brother”:“As bad as y’all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence. We would be begging for the days of Trump back if Pence became president. (Pence is) extreme. I’m Christian. I love Jesus. But he thinks Jesus tells him to say things. I’m like, ‘Jesus isn’t saying that.’”
2.13 The Atlantic: Top officials from the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, and other agencies told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia plans to interfere with America’s upcoming midterm elections after successfully targeting some states’ voter data in 2018.
2.13 Todd Howe: “I’m in a boatload of trouble altogether.”
2.13 Shaun White comes from behind to win gold in spectacular fashion
2.13 Washington Post: “Balancing the budget is the latest Trump campaign promise to fall by the wayside. The. . . White House is preparing to propose a budget that fails to get rid of the deficit over 10 years and instead seeks to merely reduce its growth by $3 trillion. This is not what Trump told voters he would do during the 2016 campaign — and even as recently as last year, when the White House claimed (based upon questionable math) his previous budget proposal would have eventually balanced the budget if enacted. At times Trump has even said he would not only get rid of the deficit, but he would somehow wipe out what was then nearly $20 trillion worth of the national debt.”
2.13 Washington Post: “As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.”
2.12 Michael Gerson in the Post: “The institution of the presidency does not require perfect men or women. But by even the most generous standards, Trump is a figure of monumental smallness. He describes himself in terms that would have embarrassed King Louis XIV. He conducts himself with the decorum of a spoiled and nasty child — lashing out at enemies, elevating lackeys, treating professionals at the FBI or CIA like minions, blurting out conspiracy theories and obvious lies. He regularly brings the presidency and the country into disrepute. And the White House staff — leaky, incompetent, embittered, backbiting — has generally followed his example.”
2.10 Barron’s: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed on Friday at 2619.55, rallying 1.5% on the day, but down 5.2% for the week. At Thursday’s close, stocks were down more than 10% from their previous all-time high—the traditional definition of a correction—of 2873, set Jan. 26. The downturn last week ended a streak of 404 trading days without a 5% drop in stock prices from the previous high—the longest such streak in market history. The last correction came in February 2016, when stocks dropped 15%.
2.9 According to a suit against the Weinstein Co. and its founders filed by the New York Attorney General, the Weinstein Co. “employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany [Harvey Weinstein] to events and to facilitate [his] sexual conquests.” “[T]heir primary responsibility included taking [Weinstein] to parties at which he could meet young women … These women were described by some witnesses as … his ‘wing women.'” “One of the members of this entourage was flown from London to New York to teach [his] assistants how to dress and smell more attractive.”
2.9 Pence stands not ten feet from Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korea’s reclusive dictator, but ignores her.
2.9 Carter Eskew in The Washington Post: “The immediate consequences of the tax cut seem to be benefiting Trump: Wages are rising, and so is his popularity. But the tax cut will accelerate the need to raise interest rates, as the economy overheats and the deficit expands. And it could very well shock the system and set off a vicious economic cascade leading to rapid economic deceleration and whiplash.”
2.9 Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: Ironically, it took a GOP-led Congress and a Republican president following the anti-tax (never raise no matter how much we spend, cut no matter how much revenue we need) to put a stake in the small-government mythology. As soon as the $1.5 trillion tax cut was passed, the arguments for fiscal restraint and specifically for the Budget Control Act of 2011 went out the window.
2.9 In China, police are now wearing sunglasses equipped with facial-recognition technology to catch criminal suspects.
2.8 Former President George W. Bush in Abu Dhabi: “There’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled. Whether they affected the outcome is another question.”
2.8 Sen. Rand Paul: “If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?”
2.7 Donald Trump Jr.: “I know him [the president]; I’ve seen him my whole life. I’ve seen the things he’s done. You know it’s amazing — all the rappers, all his African American friends, from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton — have pictures with him.”
2.7 Washington Post: “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

2.7 Nancy Pelosi speaks on the floor of the House for eight hours, the longest speech there in a century, She used the time to tell the stories of more than 300 DACA kids.
2.6 SpaceX’s 27-engine Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched, and two of its three boosters successfully returned to earth

2.4 Philadelphia 41, New England 33. The Eagles win their first Super Bowl, and first NFL championship since 1960. Tom Brady: “The Eagles played a better game. They deserved to win. That’s why we’re not world champs. It sucks. But no one is going to feel sorry for us.’’
2.2 Heather Timmons on the risks of dismissing the FBI’s Russia memo: “For the country and its people, the system that apportions specific powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches stands as a guarantee of the rule of law and a bulwark against authoritarian rule. When the intended balance is disturbed by one branch failing to follow the law or even long-standing standard protocol, the very idea of a representative democracy is threatened.”
2.1 Albany

JANUARY 2018

1.25 Frank Bruni in the Times, on the bro vibe among Trump, Tom Brady, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick: “These titans stick together in the way that many titans do, not because they share some special affection or particular philosophy but because each sees in the others’ stature an affirmation of his own. They’re a cluster strut.”
1.25 Wall Street Journal: “The New Dating No-No: Asking for a Last Name — Now that smartphone apps are the primary way people meet, some things have become too awkward to ask” Why it matters: “Asking for a last name ‘is definitely a modern social cue’ that trust is building in a relationship.”
1.24 George Will in the Washington Post: It cannot be a sign of social health that the number of tweets per day worldwide exploded from 5,000 in 2007 to 500 million six years later. And this might be related, by a few degrees of separation, to the fact that whereas in the 1992 presidential election more than one-third of America’s 3,113 counties or their equivalents had a single-digit margin of victory, in the 2016 presidential election, fewer than 10 percent did. And to the fact that in 2016, 1,196 counties — about 2.5 times the average over the preceding 20 years — were decided by margins larger than 50 percent. All of which are perhaps related to rising skepticism, without scientific warrant, about the safety of vaccinations and genetically modified foods. And to the fact that newspaper subscriptions have declined about 38 percent in the past 20 years. And that between 1974 and 2016, the percentage of Americans who said they spent significant time with a neighbor declined from 30 percent to 19 percent.”
1.24 Washington Post: There’s growing cohesion among executives — cutting across industry and even geography — that Trump‘s tax plan is going to deliver massive new investment in the United States, which should, in turn, boost growth and employment.”
1.24 The Big Apple Circus clown Grandma stepped down after being accused of coercing a teen acrobat into taking sexual photos
1.24 NBC: Researchers say remains of a wooden ship found embedded in mud in a river delta in the southern US may be the Clotilda, the last-known vessel to bring slaves to the US nearly 160 years ago.
1.24 Disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar gets 175 years in prison for sex assaults. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina: “I’ve just signed your death warrant,”
1.23 Washington Post:“ Google for the first time spent more than any other company in 2017 to influence Washington, highlighting both the sprawling reach of the country’s thriving tech industry and the rising concern by regulators and lawmakers of its ascendance.”
1.22 Simona Mangiante, fiancee of George Papadopoulos: “I believe history will remember him like John Dean.”
1.21 Stormy Daniels: “It’s crazy how one moment can overshadow 15 years of work.”
1.21 Sen. Tammy Duckworth: “I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger. And I have a message for ‘Cadet Bone Spurs.’ If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger.”
1.21 Pats overtake Jags, Eagles clobber Vikings
1.20 Ginny, Molly and Cara go to the Women’s March in NYC
1.20 Government shut down
1.19 Paul Waldman in the Post: “For every American who really loves Donald Trump, there are about two Americans who really hate him.”
1.19 Elizabeth Bruenig in the Washington Post: “When it’s time for dessert, Trump gets two scoops of ice cream and everyone else gets one, and if, after all that and a sack of McDonald’s, he still decides he has the height and weight of an athlete, then he does. There’s the greed, the hoarding of wealth and gold objects, with vanishingly little given to charity, even just to add a touch of decorum. Decorum doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s something you undertake with regard to other people, and Trump does not regard other people. Unseemliness is a kind of liberty, and Trump has perfected that, too.”
1.19 Albany
1.18 Albany; Melissa: “insanely condescending”
1.18 2017 was Earth’s second-hottest year since 1880.

JANUARY 2018: “SHIT HOLE COUNTRIES”


1.14 In a thriller, the Vikings upset the Saints with a desperate pass for a touchdown on the last play of the game.
1.13 Dinner at Pete’s Tavern with Ginny, Greg, Susan and Margaret, followed by The Post. A very good film. I particularly liked how Meryl Streep‘s Katherine Graham found her way to her position of principle by feeling personally betrayed by Robert McNamara.

1.13 A fake text warns Hawaii of imminent nuclear destruction.
1.11 Trump: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
1.10 Shepard Smith on Fox News: “All of that about libel laws, that was just a word salad of nothingness, because none of that means anything, except ‘look over here.’” He couldn’t change the libel laws if he wanted to change the libel laws, he couldn’t change them if he got the Congress in there. These are state laws, and that was nothing. He’s not a dictator. He’s not a king, He can’t change the libel laws. That’s preposterous.”
1.10 NJ.com: Christie “leaves office in a week as the state’s most unpopular governor in modern times, a once-rising star whose presidential ambitions were dashed by the Bridgegate scandal and the rise of Donald Trump.”
1.9 Bannon out at Breitbart
1.9 The reliably entertaining Major Crimes ends a much-appreciated run.
1.8 Bill Gates in Time: “In 1990, more than a third of the global population lived in extreme poverty; today only about a tenth do. A century ago, it was legal to be gay in about 20 countries; today it’s legal in over 100 countries. Women are gaining political power and now make up more than a fifth of members of national parliaments—and the world is finally starting to listen when women speak up about sexual assault. More than 90% of all children in the world attend primary school. In the U.S., you are far less likely to die on the job or in a car than your grandparents were. And so on.”
1.8 An 18 year old freshman quarterback named Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench at halftime with his team trailing 13-0, and led Alabama to an overtime victory that gave the school its fifth national championship under head coach Nick Saban.

1.8 Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist and former Obama pollster: “Running for president is . . . an ugly, nasty, grueling slog through all of these multiple states. It’s going to unglamorous places and showing up at fish fries. To successfully run, you need several things: money, infrastructure and a niche. That said, I think in this current environment — and I cannot believe I am saying this — but if Oprah would throw her hat in the ring, she would be the front-runner.”
1.7 Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes: “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.”
1.6 On a frigid night, a heart-warming show. With Ginny, Cara, Molly and Shawn. Preceded by dinner at Joe Allen’s.
1.5 Steve Schmidt on MSNBC: “When you look at their comportment, they couldn’t be more vile than if they were a group of monkeys throwing their excrement at each other in a cage.”

1.4 “Bomb cyclone” hits east coast.from Floida to New England/ Polar vortex to follow
1.3 Trump “When (Steve Bannon) was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
1.3 Charlie Sykes: “I can’t help thinking of Bannon as the Robespierre of this Trumpian revolution, ultimately devoured by the forces he helped release. He helped create a pro-Trump media ecosystem that demanded loyalty, not ideological consistency. Now that he is perceived as disloyal (and perhaps dangerous), he is going to get the same treatment he used to give the globalist, establishment types.”
1.3 Bannon: “The three senior guys in the campaign … thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor — with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
1.3 Steve Bannon: “They’re going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV. They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”


1.3 Albany today for the State of the State. The New York Times: “With a re-election campaign and potentially treacherous political terrain ahead, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo laid out his 2018 agenda on Wednesday, painting a portrait of a state battling the effects of terrorism, sexual harassment and opioid addiction, and under siege from the Trump administration. In his 90-minute State of the State speech, Mr. Cuomo said the state would challenge the new Republican-led federal tax plan in court — earning a standing ovation from the crowd — and asked the Legislature to restructure the state’s tax code by adding a statewide payroll tax and to counter the effects of the so-called carried interest loophole. . . .with New York facing billions of dollars in budget gaps, and swaths of suburban voters possibly looking at tax increases as a result of the new cap on income and property tax deductibility, the initial reaction in Albany suggested the idea had a puncher’s chance, including among some State Senate Republicans representing moderate districts.”
1.2 Trump tweet: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
1.2 Albany
1.1 New Year’s Day brunch with Greg and Susan and Cathy and Tim