The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem.
1. The Aristocracy Is Dead …
For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan.
Despite what the president says, the question is answered.
Trump aides colluded with foreign governments.
This is a simple, straightforward statement, and by this point, it ought to be an uncontroversial one. There’s ample evidence on many fronts, from legal documents to reliable reporting. This doesn’t mean that a crime was committed, because, as Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others have pointed out, collusion is not a crime per se. But it does mean that attempts to dismiss the Russia investigation as a witch hunt that lacks any evidence are not merely disingenuous—they’re simply wrong.
What do we mean by collusion? As the Columbia Journalism Review explored last year, there are a range of meanings, but a clean synthesis would be a secret compact or conspiracy with an illegal or deceitful aim. The examples of such cooperation, between Trump aides and agents of foreign governments, abound. So far, three people have pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about it. The unresolved question, at this stage of the investigation, is not whether such cooperation was attempted; it’s how successful it proved, how large an impact it actually had, who was involved, and whether they broke any laws.
American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.
As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”
The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.
A short—and by no means exhaustive—list of the open questions swirling around the president, his campaign, his company, and his family.
President Trump speculated on Tuesday that “if” the FBI placed a spy inside his campaign, that would be one of the greatest scandals in U.S. history. On Wednesday morning on Twitter, the “if” dropped away—and Trump asserted yesterday’s wild surmise as today’s fact. By afternoon, a vast claque of pro-Trump talkers will repeat the president’s fantasies and falsehoods in their continuing project to represent Donald Trump as an innocent victim of a malicious conspiracy by the CIA, FBI, and Department of Justice.
The president’s claims are false, but they are not fantasies. They are strategies to fortify the minds of the president’s supporters against the ever-mounting evidence against the president. As Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz show in their new book about impeachment, an agitated and committed minority can suffice to protect a president from facing justice for even the most strongly proven criminality.
A new movement strives for simplicity.
“Persistence is one of the great characteristics of a pitbull, and I guess owners take after their dogs,” says Annetta Cheek, the co-founder of the D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Plain Language. Cheek, an anthropologist by training who left academia in the early 1980s to work for the Federal Aviation Commission, is responsible for something few people realize exists: the 2010 Plain Writing Act. In fact, Cheek was among the first government employees to champion the use of clear, concise language. Once she retired in 2007 from the FAA and gained the freedom to lobby, she leveraged her hatred for gobbledygook to create an actual law. Take a look at recent information put out by many government agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—if it lacks needlessly complex sentences or bizarre bureaucratic jargon, it’s largely because of Cheek and her colleagues.
The advent of a Euroskeptic government in a founding member state of the European Union may be a point of no return.
PARIS—Will a certain dream of Europe end with a bang or a whimper, with a calamity or a thousand paper cuts, with a grand dramatic moment or a tawdry local melodrama? That’s the question that has been swirling around in Europe ever since two populist, Euroskeptic parties triumphed in Italy’s national elections in March. The vote failed to produce a solid majority, plunging the country into weeks of confusing backroom negotiations that have made serious people despair and markets tremble. But this week, the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and anti-immigrant League party, which joined together in an unsettling marriage of convenience last week, announced they’d picked Giuseppe Conte, an unknown lawyer, law professor and expert in “de-bureaucratization,” to be prime minister. On Wednesday, after weeks of twists and turns, Italian president Sergio Mattarella gave Conte a mandate to form a government. The deal isn’t entirely sealed and the government must pass a confidence vote in Parliament, but that’s likely to happen since the two parties have a majority, however slim.
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.
The editor of the site's London bureau was one of the last Steve Bannon allies left within the organization.
Updated on May 23 at 2:23 p.m. ET
Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam has left the company, a source with direct knowledge of his departure told The Atlantic, marking the exit of one of the most visible legacies of the company’s former chairman Steve Bannon within the organization.
Kassam was one of the last staunch allies of Bannon still working there. The former White House chief strategist had parted ways with the site in January after falling out with President Trump over disparaging comments he made to journalist Michael Wolff about the president’s family and campaign.
Bannon brought Kassam to Breitbart in 2014, hiring him to run the site’s London bureau. Kassam is closely associated with the anti-European Union, anti-immigration United Kingdom Independence Party and the pro-Brexit movement. He was also once a top aide to former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and in 2016 launched a failed bid to lead UKIP himself.
Since Kilauea volcano began its most recent eruptive activity on Hawaii's Big Island three weeks ago, the situation has evolved and worsened.
Since the Kilauea volcano began its most recent eruptive activity on Hawaii's Big Island three weeks ago, the situation has evolved and worsened. More than 40 structures have been destroyed and one resident was badly injured when he was struck in the leg by a molten hunk of rock thrown from one of the erupting fissures. The Associated Press reported that some fissures were merging and producing faster and more fluid lava, which began flowing in glowing rivers toward the Pacific Ocean. Over the weekend at least two of the lava flows reached the shore, sending up billowing plumes of steam, and generating “laze,” or lava haze, a dangerous mix of hydrochloric acid, steam, and volcanic glass particles. Geologists continue to urge caution and patience during this event, saying that Kilauea remains volatile with no predictable end in sight for the current eruptions.
To mourn Philip Roth is also to mourn a particular kind of literary celebrity.
If you Google the phrase literary lion, here is one of the first definitions that will be returned to you for the effort: “Noun: a noted author who has reached celebrity status.” And, then: “Examples: Philip Roth is a literary lion.”
With that, once again, Dictionary.com cuts to the chase. Literary lion is, fittingly, being used a lot today, along with “towering” and “preeminent” and “incomparable,” as the world comes to terms with the melancholy fact that Philip Roth is no longer in it. The obituaries’ soaring language is often accompanied, as per the mandates of internet protocol, by searing URLs—“philip-roth-dead,” The New York Times reports of the novelist who, elsewhere, has been “borne aloft by an extraordinary second wind”—and there is a certain aptness to the collision: Philip Roth, literary lion, had little patience for lionizing. Embracing that quintessential writerly mandate, “Write what you know,” he wrote about Newark. He wrote about glove factories. He wrote about fathers. He wrote about sons. He wrote about Jewishness, and lust, and one very unfortunate piece of organ meat. He wrote about America. And he wrote about the body—specifically, through the translucent veneer of fiction, his own: its appetites, its indignities, its absurdities, its inevitabilities.
After her husband was killed in a hate crime in Kansas, an American immigrant reevaluates her dream of the country.
There is a new American aristocracy, and it's bigger than previously thought.
Modeling respectful conflict can foster creativity in children.