Archive

January 12th, 2017

The Most Interesting Intelligence Briefing in the World

    "'It may be that [Donald Trump] is more suited to intelligence briefings essentially in the form of tweets - short, punchy statements that leave out some of the nuances but give him the core message without giving him the sense of being talked down to or getting repetitive text,' [David Priess] said. 'Sometimes you've got to come up with a way to make this more interesting.'" - The New York Times

    "A U.S. intelligence report on the hacking was scheduled to be presented to [President] Obama on Thursday and to Trump on Friday, though its contents were still under discussion on Wednesday, officials said." - Reuters

    They have been in this conference room for nearly 48 hours, and it is starting to smell like an intoxicating combination of dry-erase marker, sweat and that stuff that collects on your mousepad despite your best efforts.

    "We have one day left," a Senior Intelligence Official says.

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Rumors of Hillary Clinton’s Comeback

    Hillary Clinton as New York City mayor?

    Imagine the fun:

    City building inspectors start to show up daily at Trump Tower, where they find a wobbly beam here, a missing smoke detector there, outdated wiring all over the place. City health inspectors fan out through Trump’s hotels, writing citations for clogged drains in the kitchens and expired milk in the minibars.

    The potholes near his properties go unfilled. Those neighborhoods are the last to be plowed. There’s a problem with the flow of water to his Bronx golf course, whose greens are suddenly brown. And the Russian Consulate keeps experiencing power failures. It’s the darnedest thing. Clinton vows to look into it, just as soon as she returns from the Hamptons.

    She makes Alec Baldwin her cultural affairs commissioner, Alicia Machado the head of the city’s office of food policy. She invites the Rockettes to perform at every official city event. Without any hand-wringing, all of them accept.

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January 11th

It doesn't matter if Sessions is racist

    Next to the White House, the most talked-about federal entity in my world of the '50s and '60s was the Justice Department. Few editions of the Washington Afro American newspaper or weekly Jet magazine failed to contain mention of a DOJ action in civil rights enforcement. Bring up the scourge of discrimination, and Justice was there, or so it seemed.

    The Justice Department's role in promoting equal justice for all was, and remains, indispensable.

    Which draws attention to President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to the position of attorney general of the United States. Confirmation hearings are scheduled for next week.

    It was no small moment when NAACP protesters, led by their national president, Cornell Brooks, staged a sit-in and got arrested Tuesday at Sessions's Mobile, Alabama, office. Or when more than 1,100 professors from 170 law schools in 48 states wrote to urge the Senate to reject Sessions.

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As Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die

    She is just a frightened mom, worrying if her son will survive, and certainly not fretting about U.S. politics — for she has never heard of either President Obama or Donald Trump.

    What about America itself? Ranomasy, who lives in an isolated village on this island of Madagascar off southern Africa, shakes her head. It doesn’t ring any bells.

    Yet we Americans may be inadvertently killing her infant son. Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from the United States, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says.

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Arms and the Trump

    When a man at a Florida airport retrieves his luggage, takes out a gun and kills five people, the only part people are surprised about is that it happened at an airport.

    In the grand sweep of U.S. gunfire in the 21st century, all we can say about Friday’s Fort Lauderdale tragedy was that it was the worst mass shooting so far in 2017. But there have already been six incidents with more than three dead or wounded victims. On Wednesday, three family members in Fontana, California, were killed in their home and another was critically wounded. A 73-year-old relative was charged. Never even entered the national conversation.

    But the Fort Lauderdale case was personal — almost everybody travels through airports. “You just can’t imagine how this could ever happen in a state like ours,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott at a news conference. A few minutes later he did remember to refer to the fact that last year 49 people were shot to death in a gay nightclub in Orlando.

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Welcome to the Trump era

    President-elect Donald Trump, still officially only in the wings of power, had no hesitation horning in on the opening of Congress the other day. He castigated his own party's leaders for giving priority to a matter of House housekeeping rather than addressing his urgent call to make American great again.

    Of their decision to call a vote on killing off the Office of Congressional Ethics that ultimately failed, Trump tweeted: "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog ... their number one act and priority?" There were, he lectured, "so many other things of far greater importance."

    Talk of the pot calling the kettle black. Here is the man who has refused to reveal his income-tax returns lecturing his party colleagues for paying more attention to attempting to bail out errant House Republicans for alleged bad behavior than to his urgent agenda.

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Obama's coalition included rural whites

    From a Democrat's perspective, the political map of Missouri looks like a blood-red sea with three little blue boats -- Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis -- bobbing on the murderous waves. Donald Trump won the state by 19 points on the strength of rural, exurban and suburban votes. It's a pattern that was repeated across the Midwest.

    Roy Temple was chairman of the Missouri State Democratic Party during the 2016 election. He is a partner in the political multimedia advertising agency, GPS Impact. I spoke with him, via email, about his experience in a state that has moved more securely into the Republican column in recent years.

    Wilkinson: If Democrats are going to win in states like Missouri, they will have to attract nonurban white voters. You've been dealing with this in your state for a while. What advice do you have for your party?

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My three maddening, futile years inside the broken Senate confirmation process

    The 114th Congress ended this week, and with it went the confirmation chances of more than 80 qualified men and women nominated to government positions at all levels. On this Going Nowhere List are Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and many others whose names had been put forward for less-exalted positions. I was one of them.

    My concept of public service was framed by the civics of "Schoolhouse Rock": A president nominates men and women who have particular skills and experience that qualify them to hold specific government positions. Backgrounds and references are checked, nominations are submitted, and the Senate consents or not to confirmation. The process is straightforward, civil, expeditious and based on merit.

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If Trump really knows the art of the deal, he'll embrace free trade

    Trade protectionism could be the biggest risk to President-elect Donald Trump's growth-and-greatness agenda. Trump the dealmaker needs to decide whether to play case-by-case defense or to use America's leverage to open markets.

    The United States has free-trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countriesthat account for 10 percent of the global economy but nearly half of U.S. exports. In the first five years of these deals, U.S. exports on average increased three times as rapidly as export growth globally.

    The United States enjoys a manufacturing trade surplus with FTA partners, while about 60 percent of imports are for intermediate goods that lower costs for U.S producers. U.S. free-trade agreements support innovation by incorporating new rules that help cutting-edge businesses. Congress, the co-owner of these agreements, should push for more.

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I made my autistic son cannabis cookies. They saved him.

    It took me awhile to perfect the cookie recipe. I experimented with ingredients: Blueberry, Strawberry, Sour Diesel, White Widow, Bubba Kush, AK-47 - all strains of cannabis, which I stored, mixed with glycerin, in meticulously labeled jars on a kitchen shelf. After the cookies finished baking, I'd taste a few crumbs and annotate the effects in a notebook. Often, I felt woozy. One variation put me to sleep. When I had convinced myself that a batch was OK, I'd give a cookie to my 9-year-old son.

    At the time he was consumed by violent rages. He would bang his head, scream for hours and literally eat his shirts. At dinnertime, he threw his plates so forcefully that there was food stuck on the ceiling. He would punch and scratch himself and others, such that people would look at the red streaks on our bodies and ask us, gingerly, if we had cats.

    But when I got the cookies right, he calmed down. His aggressions became less ferocious and less frequent. Mealtimes became less fraught. He was able to maintain enough self-composure that he even learned how to ride a bike - despite every expert telling us it would never happen.

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