J Scott Applewhite / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Thursday, January 31. The Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance legislation that would express strong opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, at the White House, Trump was confident that the U.S. and China would reach a comprehensive trade deal, and said he would likely meet with President Xi Jinping next month.

Trump wasn’t so confident, however, that the lawmakers on the bipartisan conference committee tasked with reaching a deal on border security would be successful:

Over on the Hill: The legislators working on a border-security deal have until February 15 to reach a compromise. And at least one thing has become clear as they start the negotiation process: They’d like Trump to leave them alone.

In 2020 Land: The billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn’t yet committed to a presidential bid. But he has already started work on a major 2020 project: a multimillion-dollar campaign to crush Donald Trump. And as Democratic candidates propose replacing the Affordable Care Act with a single-payer health-care system, they might run into the same problems that Republicans faced in 2017, when they tried to repeal the ACA, writes Ronald Brownstein.

Chris Christie’s New Book: In a wide-ranging interview, the former New Jersey governor defends his brand of confrontational politics, and attempts to explain the president’s operating style. “If he thinks you’re very loyal, he doesn’t pay any attention to you,” Christie told McKay Coppins. “He’s trying to win over the people who he doesn’t perceive as loyal.”

Elaine Godfrey


Snapshot

President Donald Trump listens as he meets with China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday. (Jim Young / Reuters)


Ideas From The Atlantic

Could Black English Mean a Prison Sentence? (John McWhorter)
“A black man on the phone from a jail in San Francisco said, in 2015, ‘He come tell ’bout I’m gonna take the TV,’ which meant that this man was not going to do so. The transcriber listening in couldn’t understand the first part, apparently, and recorded the whole statement as ‘I’m gonna take the TV.’” → Read on.

The Threat of Threat Assessments (Peter Beinart)
“For all his lies and crimes, Trump over the past several years has asked some legitimate questions about America’s expansive role in the world, questions shared by many Americans in both parties. The threat assessment is a case study in how to evade them.” → Read on.

The Unstoppable Spread of Lethal Drones (Conor Friedersdorf)
“Drones capable of taking down a commercial aircraft are already easy to get. And even as non-state actors marshal the least sophisticated drones to mount attacks, state actors are pouring money into more sophisticated drones that will proliferate as surely as their predecessors.” → Read on.


What Else We’re Reading

How Abortion Law in New York Will Change, and How It Won’t (Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker)

A Black Legacy, Wrapped Up in Fur (Jasmine Sanders, The New York Times)

How the Geography of Climate Change Could Make the Politics Less Polarizing (Mark Muro, David G. Victor, and Jacob Whiton, Brookings)

The Deported Americans (Brooke Jarvis, The California Sunday Magazine)


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