Also Reading: Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, 8 May 2017

Many scholars believe that the most plausible bases for a Trump impeachment are corruption and abuse of power. Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in constitutional studies, argues that, even without evidence of an indictable crime, the Administration’s pattern of seemingly trivial uses of public office for private gain “can add up to an impeachable offense.” Last week, after the State Department took down an official Web page that showcased Trump’s private, for-profit club, Mar-a-Lago, Feldman told me, “A systematic pattern shown through data points would count as grounds for impeachment.”

And self is nowhere near the end of this article. It’s taken her days just to get this far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading Evan Osnos’s New Yorker Article, “Endgame: What would it take to cut short Trump’s Presidency?”

Self hopes dear blog readers appreciate that she is giving up precious time she could have spent writing her most kick-ass story to date (pagophilics, a Captain, a woman, an alien invasion launched from the Bering Sea) to continue reading the Evan Osnos article (in the 8 May 2017 issue of The New Yorker):

Trump has embraced strategies that normally boost popularity, such as military action. In April, some pundits were quick to applaud him for launching a cruise-missile attack on a Syrian airbase, and for threatening to attack North Korea. In interviews, Trump marvelled at the forces at his disposal, like a man wandering into undiscovered rooms of his house. (“It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant.”)

and:

The White House recently stopped releasing visitors’ logs, limiting the public’s ability to know who is meeting with the President and his staff.

This is indeed a very enthralling piece, dear blog readers. Self can’t wait to read how it ends.

Stay tuned.

#amreading: “Endgames” by Evan Osnos (The New Yorker, 8 May 2017)

  • By this point in George W. Bush’s term, Bush had travelled to twenty-three states and a foreign country. Trump has visited just nine states and has never stayed the night. He inhabits a closed world that one adviser recently described as ‘Fortress Trump.’

Sentence of the Day: Léa Outier for AIR FRANCE Magazine

You need to turn off the road taking you to your destination, watching out for elusive signposts while hugging the white beaches, to realize that this Pacific Caledonia shares more than verdant mountains and damp spells with Scotland: a certain predilection for solitude, for creating deserts.

— Léa Outier, “Conversations from the Other Side”

Andrew O’Hehir on Salon.com

Thought-provoking piece in Saturday’s Salon.com by Andrew O’Hehir in which he tries to parse how much of the blame for the Trump debacle rests on the media themselves, or on the distortion created by reliance on social media.

Since self is sure she is the only person in the world dealing with her excoriating disappointment over the U.S. political process while reading a book about a 1755 U.S. political crisis, let’s just say her opinions are probably based on comparisons between 1755 America and now.

And what self has concluded is that Trump reminds her of the English Prime Minister in 1755, the Duke of ______ (It was several hundred pages back; self will look up the name in a bit), who was endlessly campaigning, even when he had already won, and who was so quickly bored with the responsibilities of his position that he went to war and cared not a whit about sending suitable men and material with which to execute this war, and thus many people died on the American frontier, without gaining the English any political advantage (that English officer class, though — “Ours but to do or die” to the last!) — not that the Duke/Prime Minister cared all that much. After all, it’s not as if anyone expected him to pick up a musket! What a horrible, disagreeable, rude idea!

On to O’Hehir’s piece:

Quoting Samuel Greene of King’s College London by way of Thomas B. Edsall of The New York Times: “Our information landscape is open and fluid . . . voters’ perceptions have become untethered from reality. Thus, the news we consume has become as much about emotion and identity as about facts.”

Can you blame us? We’re stuck reading POTUS tweets every single day. Every single one of those tweets comes at us from an emotional angle. Granted, they all have the same emotional tone: that of a needy five-year-old. We’re so fascinated we can’t look away. Come on, media: even you must admit you’ve been hypnotized by posts that say SAD and BIGLY and YUUUGE. And if you professional journalists can’t resist this tsunami of unfettered emotion coming from POTUS, how do you expect us to?

O’Hehir on Fake News and how we got here: “In a universe shaped by the blatant untruths and racist fantasies of right-wing media, where Barack Obama’s birthplace was a mystery, the Sandy Hook shootings might have been staged and millions of people who were not obviously suffering from severe mental illness took the Pizzagate scandal seriously, the difference between news and fake news comes to seem like a matter of taste or opinion.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Talk of the Town, The New Yorker, December 19 & 26, 2016

. . .  congressional Republicans are feeling bullish about finally achieving a goal that they’ve sought for years: getting rid of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides health services like cancer screening and contraception, as well as abortion. If a Trump Administration succeeds in dismantling the Affordable Care Act, or simply in eliminating the mandate that health plans include contraception coverage, many more women will lose access to health care and, especially, to more expensive, but also more effective, long-acting contraceptive methods, such as the I.U.D.


Under Jeff Sessions (new Attorney General), the Justice Department is unlikely to provide robust protection for abortion clinics.


For Labor Secretary, Trump has in mind Andrew Puzder, the C.E.O. of the company that runs Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. An opponent of raising the minimum wage and of expanding overtime pay, Puzder, referring to the company’s ads, told the magazine Entrepreneur, “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

Trump won the Presidency despite a well-documented penchant for the vulgar belittlement of women, and with the help of a fan base energized by chants of “Lock Her Up.”

#amreading: Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker Article on Kellyanne Conway, “Taming Trump” (17 October 2016)

Conway went to Trinity Washington University, a Catholic college in Washington, DC, and received a law degree from George Washington University. She pointed out that, while Hillary Clinton failed the D.C. bar exam in 1973, before passing in Arkansas, Conway was allowed into the D.C. bar after passing the exams in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Conway said she thought about that during the first debate: “Boy, she really can cram a lot of information into her head for one performance. How the heck did she fail the D.C. bar?”

#thatlastquestion #snark

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Vanity Fair, the Hive

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato is not sure whether this (Sean Spicer vs. the Press) is a long-term strategy or a tactic designed to divert attention from self-generated controversies.

He’s proven the ‘value of devil figures’, says Sabato. “Against all odds, he catapulted into the Presidency by skilfully using a series of devils (Obama, Clinton, Mexicans, Muslims, China). To keep his 46% together, he must continue to target a great big devil figure. The news media does nicely.”

(James Warren, Chief Media Writer, Poynter.org, writing for the Warren Report in Vanity Fair’s Hive, 23 January 2017)

Quote of the Day: Graydon Carter, Editor’s Letter, Vanity Fair, December 2015

The political arena has always held its attractions for business leaders who believe that wisdom picked up at the coal face of American industry can be applied to civics. On the surface, this seems like a natural transition. But it isn’t. Most people who succeed at business do so with a relentless, single-minded ego thrust that crushes the opposition and tosses aside the weaklings who stand in the way. Wait, that does sound like what it takes to win at national politics.

What’s interesting is . . .  the way voters keep seizing on the idea that someone from the business world (Lee Iacocca? Ross Perot?) is the ideal candidate to lead us into the Promised Land when the only real business titan we’ve ever had as president was Herbert Hoover. And look how that worked out.

A Surgeon’s Life

Fascinating review by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker of 18 May 2015 (Self is sooo behind in her reading!) of a memoir by London neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. It’s an unflinching look by Marsh at his medical career and the failures that haunt him (“It’s not the successes I remember, but the failures.”) Incredibly, so much of his success or failure depends on, not training, not intelligence, not skill, but luck.

Rothman compares a neurosurgeon’s life to a soldier’s. Both are “deeply shaped by” something called “moral luck.” To perform under the burden of this awareness is impossible unless Marsh can successfully control “his own emotions. If he can’t control how a surgery turns out, he will control how he feels. He tries not to let his feelings add to his patients’ fear and unhappiness; at the same time, he tries never to lie. He yearns for feelings that are strong but realistic, fully voiced but even-keeled.”

In writing his book, “Marsh has seemingly violated his code; he expresses many of the feelings that he’s worked very hard to keep hidden.”

Fascinating.

Marsh’s book is called Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery.

Subsequent research on Goodreads shows that it’s garnered a number of nominations and one prize: the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography.

Stay tuned.

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