Unthinkable? Just read your way through the narratives that precede all the major stories on pages one and two. They are laced with disaster and only their enormity keeps us from realizing how close political calamity may follow on all that nature has done in the recent past to demonstrate the power that could be unleashed against mankind.
That pessimism in general is lessened if not yet saved on the legislative front where a major disaster has been averted by a courageous coalition led again by John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, aided and abetted by others determined not to sacrifice the possibility of universal health care to the clock of partisan politics. Not to mention a groundswell from both business and the public at large both threatened and outraged by the national failure to get it right.
Don West for New Times Always!
President Trump delivered his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, and from the language he used (“Rocket Man”) to the threats he unleashed (to “totally destroy North Korea”) to criticizing the United States’ “embarrassing” Iran deal in front of world leaders, it was a … well … unique experience.
Below are his full comments, along with our annotations of the most important parts. To see an annotation, click on the yellow highlighted text.
Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.
As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.
Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.
Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.
We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.
But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.
Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.
International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people, force dislocation and mass migration, threaten our borders, and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.
To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.
We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred and fear.
Read more at The Washington Post
“Build the Wall.” Three words energized a campaign.
But could it be done? What would it cost? What would it accomplish? Our search for answers became this, a landmark new report, “The Wall.”
The task was massive. We flew the entire border, drove it too. More than 30 reporters and photographers interviewed migrants, farmers, families, tribal members — even a human smuggler. We joined Border Patrol agents on the ground, in a tunnel, at sea. We patrolled with vigilantes, walked the line with ranchers. We scoured government maps, fought for property records.
In this report, you can watch aerial video of every foot of the border, explore every piece of fence, even stand at the border in virtual reality. Still, breakthrough technology would mean nothing if it didn’t help us better understand the issues — and one another.
Keep scrolling for all the news on what we found. Or simply start exploring, right here. Should we build a wall? We invite you to learn, discuss, debate and decide.
Read more at USA Today
“I had an interesting day today,” Jimmy Kimmel said at the top of his late-night show Wednesday, which was quite the understatement. Kimmel saw his monologue about health care go viral after he tore into Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Tuesday night for the “horrible bill” that he proposed with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) as the Senate tries to repeal Obamacare.
Kimmel took particular issue with Cassidy because the Louisiana senator appeared on his show in May and said he would oppose a health-care bill in which people with preexisting conditions were not protected, or had an annual or lifetime cap for insurance companies. Cassidy nicknamed some of these guidelines the “Jimmy Kimmel test,” as it was right after Kimmel had publicly discussed his newborn son’s harrowing open heart surgery, and pleaded with officials to consider the astronomical cost of medical care for families who can’t afford it.
“But unfortunately and puzzlingly, [Cassidy] proposed a bill that would allow states to do all the things he said he would not let them do,” Kimmel said. “He made a total about-face, which means he either doesn’t understand his own bill, or he lied to me. It’s simple as that.”
After Kimmel unloaded on Cassidy, he had lots of supporters — and also lots of criticism. On Wednesday night, although Kimmel joked that he didn’t want to turn this into a Taylor Swift-Kanye West-levelfeud, he doubled down and slammed some of his critics. Here were all his targets:
Sen. Bill Cassidy
Kimmel: “It was a bad morning for Senator Cassidy. He and his co-sponsor, Lindsey Graham, spent the morning defending the indefensible. This morning, the senator sat for an interview with Chris Cuomo, CNN, and pulled the ‘all comedians are dummies’ card.” (Clip of Cassidy saying, “I’m sorry he does not understand.”)
“Oh, I get it, I don’t understand because I’m a talk-show host, right? Well, then help me out. Which part don’t I understand? Is it the part where you cut $243 billion from federal health-care assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would be allowed to let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having preexisting conditions? Maybe I don’t understand the part of your bill in which federal funding disappears completely after 2026? Or maybe it was the part where the plans are no longer required to pay for essential health benefits like maternity care or pediatric visits?
Read more at The Washington Post
She had packed for victory. There had been a white suit for election night at the Javits Center beneath a glass ceiling; white was the color of the suffragists who, a century earlier, had at last won the franchise for women. But now, in the morning hours after Donald J. Trump’s White House upset, Hillary Clinton donned gray and purple for her concession to the country. The sartorial detail, which Clinton shares in her new memoir of the 2016 campaign, is a touch worthy of Plutarch, who observed that “a small thing … often makes a greater revelation of a character than battles where thousands die.” For there had been a different plan. The gray and purple, she writes, was the “one I had intended to wear on my first trip to Washington as President Elect.”
And so Clinton’s starkly titled “What Happened” now joins what we might call the Kempton Collection, after the New York columnist Murray Kempton, who always believed that the real story was to be found not amid the sprays of Champagne among winners but in the tragic bleakness of the losers’ locker rooms. (A classic piece captured the after-action reflections of Sal Maglie, the Dodgers pitcher who lost when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series.) The literature of defeat in the canon of American political memoir is often overlooked, if it’s read and appreciated at all. That’s too bad, for the stories of battles lost tell us as much if not more about the mysteries of political character than do the accounts of battles won.
Clinton’s book, then, offers an occasion to see what those who suffered what she suffered — defeat at the polls after years of toil at once exhilarating and exhausting — have chosen to share with posterity in their own memoirs. Whatever historians and pundits may say about why these candidates lost — and the differing narratives are legion — we can learn a great deal from their own accounts of their ultimate trials. Intentionally and sometimes inadvertently revealing, books by Richard Nixon, Hubert H. Humphrey, George McGovern, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter are by turns self-serving and honest, defensive and brave — rather like the authors themselves.
Some defeated candidates have used wit to cope with loss. “Someone asked me, as I came in, down on the street, how I felt, and I was reminded of a story that a fellow-townsman of ours used to tell — Abraham Lincoln,” Adlai Stevenson told his supporters after losing to Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. “They asked him how he felt once after an unsuccessful election. He said that he was too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.” After his defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan in 1984, Walter Mondale asked McGovern, who had been crushed by Nixon in 1972, when it stopped hurting. “I’ll let you know,” McGovern replied. Others find the pain so enduring that they can’t bring themselves even to joke about it. On several occasions in the decades since he lost the White House in 1992, I asked George H. W. Bush about his defeat. “God, it was ghastly,” was about all the 41st president could muster up.
Read more at The New York Times.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rob Portman is a serious senator. He’s Midwest nice, a little old-fashioned, and in possession of deep wells of knowledge about taxes, trade, and health care. In some alternate universe, you could imagine him as Mitt Romney’s vice president.
This week, in his quiet office on the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Portman shared one way a serious senator deals with this insane moment in politics. Asked how he learns about President Donald Trump’s disruptive and frequently combative tweets, the Ohio Republican grinned.
“I get it two ways,” he began, as he rose from a chair in his office.
He walked behind his desk and grabbed his iPhone.
“I can’t follow everybody right? But guess who I do follow? Donald Trump,” Portman continued as he returned to his seat. “So every one of his tweets, I get on my phone.
“I have an alert,” Portman confirmed as he tapped away at the screen. “You know why? Because when I didn’t have an alert, I would be in the middle of interview with someone like you and they would ask me about something he tweeted, and I would be caught flat-footed.”
And, just to be safe, Portman’s press secretary sends him an email each morning with Trump’s tweets, which more often than not jolt the day in different directions and into various diversions.
During a half-hour interview this week with BuzzFeed News, Portman offered a glimpse of how Republicans like him — a mild-mannered conservative who came of age in the Bush era but now seems moderate when compared to Trump’s far-right champions — are trying to navigate the reality of Trumpism and a president who has taken their party down a more populist and unpredictable path. These days it’s tougher to figure out where a Portman fits.
What does it mean to be a Republican right now? Portman, once an unabashed free-trader who served as George W. Bush’s US trade representative, framed his answer around an issue that was central to Trump’s “America First” message.
“I consider myself a good Republican, but I’ve also been willing to talk about fair trade,” Portman said. “On something like that I feel like, even though I was a little out of the mainstream of my party on some respects there, I’m not uncomfortable with where they’re going, because I do think fairness and a level playing field is consistent with my principles and values as a Republican.”
He also acknowledged his own shift, something that signals just how sharply the party’s dynamics on trade have turned: Portman came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year during his re-election campaign. And though he does not favor withdrawing from North American Free Trade Agreement, Portman said he wants to see substantial changes to that pact.
Read more at Buzzfeed.
What is this midlife crisis among the 30-year-olds I know? Millennial women — at least those who reside in professional bubbles — seem to have it all. They are better educated, more prosperous, less encumbered by cultural expectations than any previous generation of women. They delay marriage (if they marry at all) and children (if they choose to conceive). They can own or rent. They can save or spend. These women have been on familiar terms with their ambitions all their lives — raised by careful parents to aim high (millennial women are likelier than their male peers to have professional jobs, to be managers, and to work in finance), and tutored by their cultural icons to perform their empowerment, and never submit. You know, “Bow down, bitches,” as they say.
So why are the well-employed, ambitious 30-year-olds of my acquaintance feeling so adrift, as discontented as the balding midlife sad sacks whose cliché dissatisfactions made Updike rich? The women complain of the enervating psychic effects of the professional treadmill as white-collar piecework and describe their dread as they contemplate bleak futures — decade after decade, they imagine, unfulfilled. After a lifetime of saying ‘yes’ to their professional hunger — these are the opportunity-seizers, the list-makers, the ascendant females, weaned on Lean In — they’ve lost it, like a child losing grasp of a helium balloon. Grief-stricken, they are baffled too, for they have always been propelled by their drive. They were the ones who were supposed to run stuff — who as girls imagined themselves leaving the airport in stylish trench coats, hailing a taxi with one hand while holding their cell in the other.
Now, “there’s no vision,” one woman said to me. “Nothing solid,” said another. Limp, desperate, they fantasize about quitting their good jobs and moving home to Michigan. They murmur about purpose, about the concrete satisfactions of baking a loaf of bread or watching a garden grow. One young woman I know dreams about leaving her consulting job, which takes her to Dubai and Prague, to move back home and raise a bunch of kids. Another, an accountant with corner-office aspirations, has decided to “phone it in” for a few years while she figures out what she wants to do. Mostly, though, these women don’t bail out. They are too responsible, and too devoted to their wavering dreams. They stay put, diligently working, ordering Seamless and waiting for something — anything — to reignite them, to convince them that their wanting hasn’t abandoned them for good. Any goal would do, one woman told me: a child, a dog — “even a refrigerator.” People have been motivated by less.
Get a grip, I want to tell them, for I am old enough to be, if not their mother then their world-weary aunt. Who ever said that work should be the be-all? You work for money. The money you earn pays the rent. You are the very, very lucky few, in possession of the jobs and apartments that every tier-one college student wants. But the more I listen, the more I think I hear in these young women’s voices the echo of something familiar — the complaints of a long-ago generation but in reverse. The female dissatisfaction chronicled by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique was prompted by a widespread awakening to the bullshit promises of domestic happiness, manufactured by culture to make female containment look good. Now another bullshit promise has taken its place, and another generation is waking up. The men in charge are still in charge. It is impossible for women to continue to have faith in a vision of their own empowerment, when that empowerment is, in fact, a pose. It is not true that a gleaming kitchen floor is the key to female satisfaction. And “Bow down, bitches” is a lie.
Read more at The Cut.
One morning in January 2016, Martin Steltner showed up at his office in the state courthouse building in western Berlin. Steltner, who has served for more than a dozen years as the spokesman for the Berlin state prosecutor, resembles a detective out of classic crime fiction: crisp suit, wavy gray hair and a gallows humor that comes with having seen it all. There was the 2009 case of the therapist who mistakenly killed two patients in an Ecstasy-infused session gone wrong. The Great Poker Heist of 2010, in which masked men stormed a celebrity-studded poker tournament with machetes and made off with a quarter-million dollars. The 2012 episode involving the Canadian porn star who killed and ate his boyfriend and then sent the leftovers home in the mail. Steltner embraced the oddball aspect of his job; he kept a picture of Elvis Presley on the wall of his office.
But even Steltner found the phone calls he received that morning confounding. They came from police officers from towns far outside Berlin, who reported that protests were erupting, seemingly out of nowhere, on their streets. “They are demonstrating — ‘Save our children,’ ‘No attacks from immigrants on our children’ and some things like that,” Steltner told me when I met him in Berlin recently.
The police were calling Steltner because this was ostensibly his office’s fault. The protesters were angry over the Berlin prosecutor’s supposed refusal to indict three Arab migrants who, they said, raped a 13-year-old girl from Berlin’s tight-knit Russian-German community.
Steltner, who would certainly have been informed if such a case had come up for prosecution, had heard nothing of it. He called the Berlin Police Department, which informed him that a 13-year-old Russian-German girl had indeed gone missing a week before. When she resurfaced a day later, she told her parents that three “Southern-looking men” — by which she meant Arab migrants — had yanked her off the street and taken her to a rundown apartment, where they beat and raped her.
But when the police interviewed the girl, whose name was Lisa, she changed her story. She had left home, it turned out, because she had gotten in trouble at school. Afraid of how her parents would react, she went to stay with a 19-year-old male friend. The kidnapping and gang rape, she admitted, never happened.
Read more at The New York Times Magazine.
Gone are the days when euphemisms about President Trump’s mental health insulated the man like so many padded walls. Erratic. Unpredictable. Unstable. Unmoored. Temperamentally unfit. This was what politicians and commentators said when they wished to question Trump’s state of mind but feared the consequences of a more colloquial assessment. Yet the deeper we plunge into this presidency, the more willing people become to call it like they see and hear it.
“I think he’s crazy,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) confided to his colleague Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in a July exchange inadvertently caught on a microphone. (“I’m worried,” she replied.) CNN’s Don Lemon, flabbergasted after a Trump speech last month, concluded that “he’s unhinged. . . . There was no sanity there.” Even some Republicans have grown more blunt, with Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) recently suggesting that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence” to succeed as president.
Now, some psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals are shedding long-held norms to argue that Trump’s condition presents risks to the nation and the world. “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” features more than two dozen essays breaking down the president’s perceived traits, which the contributors find consistent with symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and other maladies. “Collectively with our coauthors, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency,” Judith Lewis Herman of Harvard Medical School and Bandy X. Lee of the Yale School of Medicine write in the book’s prologue.
Read more at The Washington Post