Why Does Al-Qaeda Have a Problem With Norway?
After all, it's an international peacemaker
After all, it's an international peacemaker
Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself.
I have seen the future, and it is in the United States.
After a several-year immersion in parts of the country that make the news mainly after a natural disaster or a shooting, or for follow-up stories on how the Donald Trump voters of 2016 now feel about Trump, I have a journalistic impulse similar to the one that dominated my years of living in China. That is the desire to tell people how much more is going on, in places they had barely thought about or even heard of, than they might have imagined.
In the case of China, that impulse matched the mood of the times. In the years before and after the world financial crisis of 2008, everyone knew that China was on the way up; reporters like me were just filling in the details. In the case of the modern United States, I am well aware that this message runs so counter to prevailing emotions and ideas as to seem preposterous. Everyone knows how genuinely troubled the United States is at the level of national politics and governance. It is natural to assume that these disorders must reflect a deeper rot across the country. And indeed, you can’t travel extensively through today’s America, as my wife, Deb, and I have been doing in recent years, without being exposed to signs of rot, from opioid addiction to calcifying class barriers.
A CNN interview this weekend provided a case study in the mendacious ways this White House defends itself.
Kellyanne Conway has become a media legend for her snowblower method of dissimulation: scoop up everything and hurl it into the air, with no concern for where the stuff lands. So it was perhaps not surprising that when Dana Bash asked Conway an unwelcome question on CNN this weekend, Bash got buried under particulate matter.
The exchange, which has gotten a lot of play in the past 24 hours, is a case study of the Trump White House’s methods in action.
First, some background. Conway’s husband George is a highly distinguished and successful lawyer. He also operates a Twitter account on which he often posts cutting remarks about the Trump presidency. George Conway’s comments do not deal with policy, but with more fundamental issues of character and integrity. For example, on the morning of Sunday April 22—just minutes before Kellyanne Conway’s appearance on CNN—George Conway retweeted the following:
A new study finds that Trump voters weren’t losing income or jobs. Instead, they were concerned about their place in the world.
For the past 18 months, many political scientists have been seized by one question: Less-educated whites were President Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters. But why, exactly?
Was their vote some sort of cri de coeur about a changing economy that had left them behind? Or was the motivating sentiment something more complex and, frankly, something harder for policy makers to address?
After analyzing in-depth survey data from 2012 and 2016, the University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana C. Mutz argues that it’s the latter. In a new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she added her conclusion to the growing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship.
What if the problem isn’t the president—it’s the presidency?
I. A Broken Office
Donald Trump often appears to be a president in rebellion against his office. A president, we have come to expect, hastens to the scene of a natural disaster to comfort the afflicted. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Trump arrived tardily and behaved unseriously, tossing rolls of paper towels at storm-battered residents as if he were trying to drain three-point shots.
We have come to expect that when the national fabric rends, the president will administer needle and thread, or at least reach for the sewing box of unity. After white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, shouting “Jews will not replace us,” President Trump’s instinct was to emphasize that there were good people among the neo-Nazis.
When Kanye West and Shania Twain express admiration for the president’s communication style, they forget what’s at stake.
As Donald Trump’s approval ratings hover around 40 percent, two glimmering celebrity names appeared to come to his defense this weekend. Shania Twain, the Canadian country-pop pioneer, told The Guardian that if she could have participated in the U.S. election, she would have voted for Trump because “even though he was offensive, he seemed honest.” Kanye West, the rap institution who paid a controversial visit to Trump before his inauguration, tweeted about his fandom for Candace Owens, a conservative commentator who thinks Trump is the “savior” of Western civilization.
Both statements led to a predictable cyclone: liberals howling that musicians they once loved were “canceled,” and conservatives who’d shown little interest in these stars showering praise on them as brave truth-tellers. Twain apologized; West kept tweeting. Taken together, the two episodes lay bare the seductive danger of treating politics as entertainment, and politicians as entertainers.
The New York governor recently repeated a common, but dubious, explanation for the epithet.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently attracted criticism from immigration advocacy groups for describing himself as “undocumented” during a bill-signing ceremony in Albany. “You want to deport an undocumented person, start with me, because I’m an undocumented person,” he said.
What drew less attention was how he explained that provocative conclusion. “I came from poor Italian Americans who came here,” Cuomo said. “You know what they called Italian Americans back in the day? They called them ‘wops.’ You know what ‘wop’ stood for? ‘Without papers.’”
Cuomo’s attempt to express solidarity was a bit overheated, to say the least: He isn’t really undocumented, of course, and as the son of a former governor, he wasn’t exactly marginalized growing up. But his historical justification for the parallel is similarly dubious. While his Italian immigrant forebears may indeed have had the epithet wop slung at them, there is no evidence that the word originated as an acronym for “without papers.”
“Alexa, play Jeopardy!” my son will bark. And she follows his command.
When I was a kid, in the early 1980s, I programmed a little in a language called BASIC. Recalling that long-ago era, I see myself, bowl cut and braces, tapping at the keyboard of some ancient computer:
10 PRINT “[Whatever]”
20 GOTO 10
And when I hit “return,” up jumps a digital column of whatever I’d entered between the quotation marks to fill the screen:
And so on. Later in my life, there were more advanced computing experiences—my parents eventually got me a TI-99/4A with Extended BASIC—but 20 GOTO 10 lingers. Those early days at the computer enabled me, for the first time, to issue commands. I was—suddenly, shockingly—a person to be obeyed. My commands didn’t carry any grand force, as do commands in, say, a military context, but issuing them did make me happy. The Nobel laureate Elias Canetti described the dynamic well some 60 years ago in Crowds and Power:
An upcoming case might show how the justices would react to the special counsel being dismissed.
An upcoming Supreme Court decision in a case most Americans have never heard of, and even lawyers will find obscure, could offer a clue about how the justices would react to President Trump firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Technically, the case of Raymond J. Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, being argued Monday, involves only the arcane question of whether SEC Administrative Law Judges are “officers” or “employees” of the United States. The Trump Administration’s handling of the case reveals it, however, to be the latest chapter in a right-wing campaign to weaken independent administrators and to enlarge the power of presidents to bend the bureaucracy to their will. It may be one of the Court’s most important decisions for the future of the rule of law.
Off the coast of Yemen, in the Arabian Sea, lies the isolated Socotra Island, where hundreds of plants and animals have developed into unique species.
Off the coast of Yemen, in the Arabian Sea, lies isolated Socotra Island, where hundreds of plants and animals have developed into species unique to the island. Socotra is the largest island in an archipelago that includes three other islands. The Socotra Archipelago has been isolated from any large landmass for millions of years, and is now home to a surprising display of biodiversity. Probably the best-known of its endemic flora is the dragon blood tree, with red-colored sap and tightly-clustered branches that look like roots turned upside down. Below, a collection of images of the landscape of Socotra, and the plants and animals that call it home.
A look at the available evidence
It only took five minutes for Gavin Schmidt to out-speculate me.
Schmidt is the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (a.k.a. GISS) a world-class climate-science facility. One day last year, I came to GISS with a far-out proposal. In my work as an astrophysicist, I’d begun researching global warming from an “astrobiological perspective.” That meant asking whether any industrial civilization that rises on any planet will, through their own activity, trigger their own version of a climate shift. I was visiting GISS that day hoping to gain some climate science insights and, perhaps, collaborators. That’s how I ended up in Gavin’s office.
Just as I was revving up my pitch, Gavin stopped me in my tracks.
In 2012, Kansas passed one of the largest income tax cuts in the state’s history. Today, it serves as a cautionary tale.
“We will have among us a young adult population that doesn't know how to ‘hashtag adult.’”
Seventy years ago, Albert Einstein presaged atomic war.