Carlson used to be a brilliant writer. He's now a racist demagogue. He's a story in one person of how degenerate and disgusting much of American "conservatism" has become.
I frequently reference the story of George Wallace's evolution. Wallace was once a sensible politician who generally was seen as fair-minded by black leaders in Alabama. But he lost the gubernatorial election after being tarred by John Patterson as too friendly to black people. Wallace subsequently vowed to never be "out-niggered" again and thus began his long dark march into history.
You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.
What is vexing about Wallace's story is not simply that did he know he was wrong, the man who initially "out-niggered" him, John Patterson, knew that his stance was wrong too. In 2009, Patterson endorsed Barack Obama, saying the following of his past:
As governor, his administration was considered progressive. But in both offices, he was the state's leading defender of segregation and paved the way for the segregation policies of George Wallace.
"When I became governor, there were 14 of us running for governor that time and all 14 of us were outspoken for segregation in the public schools," Patterson said. "And if you had been perceived not to have been strong for that, you would not have won.
"I regret that, but there was not anything I could do about it but to live with it."
We imagine the American past as filled with rabid bigots. But there have always been at least as many people who have some sense that bigotry is wrong, though they may say nothing. And then there are a select few who are fairly clear on right and wrong, but simply see more upside in being wrong.
To the extent that Carlson raises the ire of people like me, it is because he inhabits that latter group which decides to profit from wrong. Carlson's comments on The New York Times and conservative media were dead-on, not just for conservatives, but for any media with a partisan leaning. In short, Carlson knows what the problem is. He knows that there is a difference between heckling and reporting. He knows that Obama's speech from 2007 is not a scoop. But he also knows that there is a lot of clicks to be had from those who will never accept black people as their equals.
This is race hustling, at its most quintessential. The hustler isn't simply scapegoating one group, he is betting on the thick wittedness of the other group to which he alleges fealty. He is banking on their ignorance. He is profiting from their most backward impulses. He is stoking and then leeching off of their hate. They do not hear Carlson, cash in hand, laughing at them. They are too busy stomping the floor.
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.
When so many students have outstanding grades and test scores, schools have to get creative about triaging applicants.
For generations, two numbers have signaled whether a student could hope to get into a top college: his or her standardized test score and his or her grade-point average.
In the past 15 years, though, these lodestars have come to mean less and less. The SAT has been redesigned twice in that time, making it difficult for admissions officers to assess, for instance, whether last year’s uptick in average scores was the result of better students or just a different test. What’s more, half of American teenagers now graduate high school with an A average, according to a recent study. With application numbers at record highs, highly selective colleges are forced to make impossible choices, assigning a fixed number of slots to a growing pool of students who, each year, are harder to differentiate using these two long-standing metrics.
“Bird hunting” has become a pastime and a side hustle for teens and young professionals, but for some it’s a cutthroat business.
Every afternoon around 4 p.m., when school lets out, Brandon, an 18-year-old high-school senior in Los Angeles who asked to be referred to only by his first name, goes “Bird hunting.” He heads for his minivan and, on the drive home, he’ll swing through convenient neighborhoods, picking up about 13 Bird electric scooters along the way, tossing them into the back of his car.
“I have a whole system,” he says. “I’ll go home, put the 13 I initially caught on the chargers. They’ll charge for about three hours until around 7 or 8 p.m.”—when Bird makes more scooters available for charger pickup. “Then I’ll go back out.”
Over the course of the next few hours, Brandon loops around his Santa Monica, California, neighborhood collecting as many scooters as possible. He brings back his bounty and, as his parents sleep, neatly sets them up to charge in batches overnight.
In one of the loveliest scenes of Book Club, the newest addition to the Diane Keaton oeuvre, our beloved matriarch sits across from her dashing pilot paramour (Andy Garcia) as the two dine with the hilariously CGI-ed Santa Monica sunset behind them. Their banter is sweet, the current between them electric even though the recently widowed Diane had been apprehensive about returning to the world of dating. When the pilot asks Diane about her first kiss, she becomes suddenly transfixed.
As Diane stares off into the distance, she breathily recalls the moment she shared with a boy named Terry Sanders, who kissed her with passion and urgency even though neither knew what they were doing. Diane seems to blush with her whole body as she tells the story, fluttering her hands upto her own face as she describes the way Terry held it in his awkward, passionate grip. The pilot watches Diane with awe, eventually joking that he wishes he had been kissed by Terry Sanders. Diane smiles, returning once again to the man in front of her.
The 9-year-old has built a huge following with profane Instagram posts, but the bravado of “the youngest flexer of the century” masks a sadder tale about fame and exploitation.
In mid-February, a mysterious 9-year-old by the name of Lil Tay began blowing up on Instagram.
“This is a message to all y’all broke-ass haters, y’all ain't doing it like Lil Tay,” she shouts as she hops into a red Mercedes, hands full of wads of cash. “This is why all y’all fucking haters hate me, bitch. This shit cost me $200,000. I’m only 9 years old. I don’t got no license, but I still drive this sports car, bitch. Your favorite rapper ain’t even doing it like Lil Tay.”
Referring to herself as “the youngest flexer of the century,” Lil Tay quickly garnered a fan base of millions, including big name YouTubers who saw an opportunity to capitalize on her wild persona. In late January, RiceGum, an extremely influential YouTube personality dedicated an entire roast video to Lil Tay.
Several new studies suggest yogurt might reduce inflammation—a process linked to different types of diseases.
A couple years ago, I was taking a swim with my very pregnant friend when I asked her if it was hard to keep straight all of the doctors’ health recommendations for expectant mothers.
Not really. For practically every symptom, she said, their recommendations were roughly the same: “Take a walk, eat a yogurt.”
It was another example of the Cult of Yogurt. Even though some varieties have more sugar than a Twinkie, perhaps no other man-made food is so often recommended by medical professionals—and to treat such a wide variety of ailments.
Whenever I’ve been prescribed antibiotics, I’ve always been told to eat a yogurt so that the antibiotics don’t eat up all the “good” bacteria in my system and leave me with a yeast infection. (Recently, I interviewed a doctor who suggested this is bogus; there’s no way for the yogurt cultures to make it all the way down there.)
The president’s unpredictability once worked to his advantage—but now, it is producing a mounting list of foreign-policy failures.
“Gradually and then suddenly.” That was how one of Ernest Hemingway’s characters described the process of going bankrupt. The phrase applies vividly to the accumulating failures of President Trump’s foreign-policy initiatives.
Donald Trump entered office with more scope for initiative in foreign policy than any of his recent predecessors.
In his campaign for president, Trump had disparaged almost every element of the past 70 years of U.S. global leadership: NATO, free trade, European integration, support for democracy, the Iraq War, the Iran deal, suspicion of Russia, outreach to China. Trump’s election jolted almost every government into a frantic effort to understand what to expect. Other countries’ uncertainty enhanced Trump’s relative power—and so, perversely, did Trump’s policy ignorance and obnoxious behavior. After eight years under the accommodating Barack Obama, the United States suddenly turned a menacing face to the world. In the short run, that menace frightened other states into attempted appeasement of this unpredictable new president.
The interplay between the two helps explain the confusion whirling around the North Korea summit.
Why did the Trump administration cancel its much-hyped nuclear summit with North Korea? And why the confusing semi-backtrack the following day, in which Trump embraced North Korea’s “warm and productive statement” regretting the cancellation, and left the door open to a meeting he’d ditched barely 24 hours before? The answer lies in the toxic interplay between Donald Trump’s instincts and John Bolton’s. Each man’s foreign-policy views are dangerous enough in and of themselves. Put them together and you have the perfect cocktail for the decimation of American power.
Bolton is a Manichean in the tradition of his hero, Barry Goldwater. He has spent his career depicting America’s adversaries—the Soviet Union, Cuba, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and these days, Iran and North Korea—as evil. He denies that they have any legitimate security concerns. He abhors compromise. He demands maximum American economic, political and, if necessary, military pressure. He basic negotiating posture is: Once you give in on everything, then we’ll start talking.
Human technology is responsible for more loss from fire than any other cause. But reducing fire’s impact will require changes to how people live, not just to the infrastructure that lets them do so.
In October 2017, 250 square miles burned in Northern California, destroying 6,000 homes and businesses and killing 44 people. For now, the cause of these fires has not been determined. The private utility company Pacific Gas and Electric, known to Californians as PG&E, is under investigation. Total damage for the Northern California wildfires comes to $9 billion. PG&E has started stockpiling cash.
In California, this is a familiar story. Three years ago, in February of 2015, one-third of the houses in my remote neighborhood in Eastern California burned down. Here, before the fire, 100 houses lay scattered across the leeward flank of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The people who live here spend their time walking steep roads, listening to crickets, chasing mule deer out of the garden, and looking over a desert valley below. Days after the fire, my neighbor, Cassie, wasn’t doing any of these things. Instead, she stood inside her smoking foundation. Tall and easygoing with freckles on her nose, Cassie had come home from college that winter to sift rubble with her mom and dad. Under different circumstances, we might have hiked together or skated frozen ponds. I used to carpool with her family to school, and I remember her house, wooden and gorgeous and overlooking a ravine from which flames later rose.
A giant glowing puppet in Australia, a cat rescued in Colombia, lava flows in Hawaii, devastation in Damascus, a balanced taxi in New York City, biking into the river in Germany, and much more.
A giant glowing puppet in Australia, a cat rescued in Colombia, lava flows in Hawaii, Ramadan observed in India, devastation in Damascus, a balanced taxi in New York City, biking into the river in Germany, bats in India, and much more.