The Atlantic Daily: Military Matters

Trump’s surprising thanks to Putin, what his “locked and loaded” tweet means, the problem with plea bargains, and more

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

What We’re Following

Commander in Chief: Trump’s latest threat to North Korea, via Twitter, says “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.” Despite the strong words, there’s still no direct military threat to the U.S. In Seoul, residents are taking the exchange of threats in stride—especially young Koreans, who have grown up with a constant risk of North Korean provocation but no direct experience of war. And back in the U.S., a lawsuit against Trump’s proposed ban on transgender services foreshadows how the president may have compromised his military authority.

Dubious Gratitude: President Trump said he wanted to thank his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for his retaliatory expulsion of U.S. diplomats, stating that with a smaller payroll, “we’re going to save a lot of money.” The remark could have been a joke, but fits into a pattern of refusing to criticize Putin that risks making Trump appear easily intimidated—though Putin isn’t the first authoritarian leader he’s praised. Meanwhile, Trump has been attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter—even though he might need McConnell as an ally more than McConnell needs him.

Protecting the Innocent: Across the U.S. criminal-justice system, plea bargains are a common way to save time and resources by keeping cases out of court—with the result that defendants can often plead guilty for crimes they would be cleared of in court. And interactions between police and those with mental illnesses can turn tragic when officers use tactics that escalate the confrontations, but a training program implemented in Florida’s Miami-Dade County has helped save lives and money by preparing police for mental-health-related calls.


Katie Posner created this GIF to illustrate Caty Green’s interview with Dave Meyers, the director of iconic music videos from Britney Spears’s “Lucky” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”—not to mention the iPod silhouette campaign. Read it here.

Evening Read

Stephen Phillips on how Dan McLaughlin set out to become a professional golfer:

Seven-plus years ago, aged 30 and unsure even of which hand to grip a golf club in, McLaughlin quit his job as a commercial photographer, took in lodgers to cover the mortgage, husbanded his savings for green fees, and set out to make the PGA Tour, home to the world’s elite golfers.

He created a catchily named blog to document his quest, and in short order the Dan Plan commanded magazine spreads and TV spots. Along the way, it drew an avid community of followers riveted by the spectacle of a regular Joe living out an everyman fantasy. No less captivated: a salon of leading figures from the science of learning and human performance.

What could you achieve if you committed to something completely, all-in, no excuses? How far could you go?

Keep reading here for how far McLaughlin got, and what he learned about mastery on the way.

What Do You Know … About Culture?

The theme of criminality is having a moment in the arts and entertainment world. This week, movies dealt with the subject through several different lenses: A documentary captures the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal, Robert Pattinson’s latest film places him in New York’s seedy underbelly, and Al Gore’s follow-up to 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth paints climate change as a battle between world-saving heroes and senseless villains. And in a murkier realm of cultural taboo, two new works attempt to understand how people’s consumption of porn might be changing the world—for better or for worse.

Can you remember the other key facts from this week’s culture coverage? Test your knowledge below:

1. In baseball, the all-time record for wins in a season is ____________, a number achieved by the Chicago Cubs in 1906 and the Seattle Mariners in 2001.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. The only original cast member from Wet Hot American Summer not in Netflix’s recent sequel is ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. “Paper Planes,” one of M.I.A.’s most popular songs, was released 10 years ago on her sophomore album, ____________.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 116 / bradley cooper / kala

This Week on Radio Atlantic

Kurt Andersen on America’s Magical Thinking: In this week’s episode of the podcast, the man who brought us the phrase “short-fingered vulgarian” talks with Jeffrey Goldberg, Alex Wagner, and Matt Thompson about the long history of fantasy winning out over truth in the U.S., and what he learned from his years of covering Donald Trump for Spy magazine. Listen and subscribe here.

Poem of the Week

This one is more like a poem of the month—H.H.’s “August,” from 1876:

Silence again. The glorious symphony
Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease,
Save hum of insects’ aimless industry.
Pathetic, summer seeks by blazonry
Of color to conceal her swift decrease.

Read more here.

Reader Response

In response to Olga Khazan’s article on “queen bees” in the office, Valerie Purdie Greenaway explores the role race might play in these bullying dynamics—an issue that many readers also brought up. Nicole writes:

As a black woman I always feel as though I’m under intense pressure to not only be perfect but to also not be better than my supervisor. I believe that white privilege is a major source of this. Feeling entitled to success makes it easier for individuals to dehumanize those that they feel are in their way. I don’t think my supervisor wants me to succeed. I think she wants to maintain a dynamic of superiority that she’s unable to get with men.

Another reader, a doctor, has a different hypothesis based on her difficult interactions with female nurses:

I often think that women can be resentful of each other because of all the sacrifices we have to make to succeed in competitive fields. Sadly, as a young black doctor, some of my worst critics have been other women of color, who I suspect (and this may sound juvenile to say) are jealous of my potential and ambition. I try to counter these attitudes by championing other women coming up in the ranks behind me, because I genuinely hope that there is room for all of us at the top.

Read Greenaway’s essay here.


Cable news criticized, activist benched, crisis anticipated, preschool teachers taught.

Time of Your Life

Happy birthday to Loretta (born around the time Guam became an unincorporated U.S. territory); to Rachna (twice the age of Spotify); to Lauren (a year younger than Game Boys); to Priscilla (the same age as Vladimir Putin); to Mike’s daughter Kimberly (born around the time the Iran-Iraq war ended); to Tim’s spouse (the same age as the state of Hawaii); from Mom to Fitzgerald (a year younger than hip-hop records); to Jeffrey’s wife, Patricia (the same age as Larry Bird); and to Sarah’s phenomenal mother, Pamela (a year younger than the Beatles).

Tomorrow, happy birthday to Michael’s friend Gary (a year younger than credit cards); to Claudio (twice the age of Shark Week); to Anne’s daughter Maeve (twice the age of the iTunes Store); from Beth to Neil (the same age as Caroline Kennedy); to Jennifer’s son Michael (a year younger than the World Wide Web); and to Shay’s son Alex (twice the age of the International Space Station). Ken (a year younger than The Lord of the Rings) shares a birthday with his mother, Dolores (twice the age of cellphones).

Do you or a loved one have a birthday coming up? Sign up for a birthday shout-out here, and click here to explore the Timeline feature for yourself.

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