Month: May 2017

Cicada horror stories

From The Washington Post — Written by Kevin Ambrose — Image courtesy of Kevin Ambrose

The screams were heard by everyone in the Fair Lakes parking lot. A woman, bent over at the waist, was thrashing her torso back and forth while slapping at the back of her head and shoulders, screaming and gasping for air at the same time.

Two men rushed to help. One man quickly noticed what was terrifying the woman — a cicada had become tangled in her hair and was flipping and bouncing against the back of her neck. The bug was making quite a commotion, beating its wings rapidly while emitting a loud, buzzing noise with its tymbals.

The man carefully pulled the large insect out of the woman’s hair and held it out to show her. “Look, it’s only a cicada,” he said. The woman reeled back with horror and exclaimed, “How can you touch that thing?!” Then she quickly walked to her car, muttering, “I’m never going outside again.”

Feeling threatened, Trump will become even more dangerous

From The Washington Monthly — Written by Nancy LeTourneau — Image courtesy of Rex/Shutterstock

Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, wrote this about Donald Trump a couple of weeks ago.

To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it…

He derives his sense of significance from conquests and accomplishments…Any addiction has a predictable pattern: The addict keeps chasing the high by upping the ante in an increasingly futile attempt to re-create the desired state. On the face of it, Trump has more opportunities now to feel significant and accomplished than almost any other human being on the planet. But that’s like saying a heroin addict has his problem licked once he has free and continuous access to the drug. Trump also now has a far bigger and more public stage on which to fail and to feel unworthy.
I thought of that as we watched Trump interact on the biggest public stage of all during his trip abroad. The Saudi’s were deferential and played to the president’s ego. That gave Trump the “fix” for his addiction to conquest and dominance.

But in his dealings with NATO and the G7, he came in with an attitude of belligerence, which triggered a negative reaction from our allies and further confirmed that, when it comes to the world’s liberal democracies, Trump is a threat and Germany’s Angela Merkel (a woman!) is the leader they will turn to. In other words, in the president’s world view, she challenged his dominance.

Trump experiences life through the windshield of a golf cart

From The Washington Post — Written by Catherine Rampell — Image courtesy of Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Last week, at the Group of Seven meetings, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan together walked the streets of Taormina, Italy, to a photo op about 700 yards away.

President Trump, the healthiest man ever elected president (or so his doctor assured us), followed in a golf cart.

Maybe this decision was not about being out of shape, or conserving his finite lifetime supply of energy, or snubbing his international counterparts. Maybe he was just homesick for his natural habitat: a golf course.

Trump clearly prefers to experience life through the windshield of a golf cart. Once you understand that, his policy agenda and worldview make a lot more sense.

If Trump’s venture into politics has proven anything, it’s this: So long as he’s sufficiently entertaining, the public will accept any lie he claims.

How Trump is torturing Capitol Hill

From The Atlantic — Written by Molly Ball — Image courtesy of Yuri Gripas / Reuters

“Morning, everybody!” Paul Ryan chirped. “Busy week!”

It was indeed: Less than a day had passed since the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s involvement in the presidential campaign; just a few hours since President Trump angrily tweeted that the investigation was “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”; and only minutes since the Russia-linked former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, had begun defying congressional subpoenas. A few days prior, the president had been accused of revealing sensitive intelligence information to the Russian foreign minister.

As Ryan earnestly touted his party’s work on “landmark federal IT reform legislation,” there was a grim, haunted look in his bright-blue eyes, and it wasn’t hard to imagine why. What ought to have been the salad days of Republican-led government had instead become a ceaseless, disorienting swirl of scandal, 120 days of self-inflicted chaos and crisis.

A flawed, unpopular health-care bill is stalled in the Senate, the president’s budget proposal has been dismissed out of hand, and hope is fading for other priorities such as tax reform and infrastructure. “How do you pack all that in?” Senator John McCain asked last week, adding, “So far, I’ve seen no strategy for doing so. I’m seeing no plan for doing so.” One Republican congressman suggested that what was needed was for the president to throw “a temper tantrum” to get lawmakers to act—this congressman happened to be named Brat.

Meanwhile Democrats sit back and watch it burn, with no small amount of schadenfreude, and the Republicans who never liked Trump see their worst predictions fulfilled. “You bought this bad pony. You ride it,” the anti-Trump consultant Rick Wilson tweeted recently. A staffer to a Senate Republican who did not vote for Trump told me, “We didn’t have high expectations, so we’re not disappointed. We tried to warn you.”

Washington’s turbulence has yet to redound to the benefit of Democrats, and the Montana victory soothed some Republican nerves. But one GOP lobbyist wondered to me whether longtime members of Congress might soon take the opportunity to retire if the situation doesn’t improve. “You finally have united Republican government, and this is as good as it gets? Why bother?” he said. “A malaise is setting in.”

The fake news is coming from inside the White House

From The Washington Post — Written by Philip Bump — Image courtesy of Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse

To believe Donald Trump, you must believe two largely contradictory things.

You must believe that there are a slew of leakers in the executive branch who are providing damning details to the press illegally, and who must be rooted out and punished.

You must also believe that the press makes up imaginary leakers simply to slowly and incrementally report false stories that are tangentially embarrassing to the president.

Trump, unlike most politicians and, frankly, most people, will nonchalantly argue two logically inconsistent points at the same time. On the campaign trail, he mastered the art of vague assurance that he stood for whatever his audience stood for, and, in office, that skill doesn’t seem to have faded. If it is best that people think a leak was made up by the media then Trump will argue that the media made it up. If the leak is incidental to him or if he’d like to put the heat on someone else he’ll argue that the leakers need to be caught.

As Trump knows, though, there are many reasons for someone to provide information without wanting to be identified. Trump himself used to call news outlets pretending to be his own publicist so that he could share details without revealing the source. And while Trump administration officials often speak on the record to the media, they nearly as often speak only on background as “senior administration officials,” faceless voices praising Trump without being able to be held accountable for what they said. It happens so often that the abbreviation “SAO” is understood immediately by the press.

Incidentally, for those curious about why Trump might think that someone would create a fictitious source to make a ridiculous claim, there is this:


These 8th-graders from New Jersey refused to be photographed with Paul Ryan

From The Washington Post — Written by Peter Jamison

For students across the country, the traditional eighth-grade trip to Washington is a chance to join the throngs on the Mall and perhaps spot some of the world’s most powerful people on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

But a group from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey may remember their trip to the nation’s capital last week for another reason: It was the occasion for a pointed snub of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

Dozens of the 218 students on the trip refused to have their photo taken with Ryan when he briefly joined them outside the capitol Thursday, students on the trip said. Those present were unable to provide a precise tally of how many opted out.

Russian once tied to Trump aide seeks immunity to testify before Congress

From The New York Times — Written by Barry Meier and Jesse Drucker — Image courtesy of Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, has offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but lawmakers are unwilling to accept his conditions, according to congressional officials.

Mr. Deripaska’s offer comes amid increased attention to his ties to Paul Manafort, who is one of several Trump associates under F.B.I. scrutiny for possible collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign. The two men did business together in the mid-2000s, when Mr. Manafort, a Republican operative, was also providing campaign advice to Kremlin-backed politicians in Ukraine. Their relationship subsequently soured and devolved into a lawsuit.