“WHY DON’T I JUST FIRE MUELLER?”

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.

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