Citation does not necessarily equal endorsement.
“In true police states, surveillance and repression sustain the powers of the authorities. But that’s not how power is gained and sustained in backsliding democracies. Polarization, not persecution, enables the modern illiberal regime.” David Frum (The Atlantic)
“Trump doesn’t care if we think he’s telling the truth — he just wants his supporters to doubt that anyone’s telling the truth.” Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama (Twitter)
“I don’t like the phrase ‘constitutional crisis’ because it has this contention that unless the whole system is up for grabs, we shouldn’t care about an 18- or 19-year-old kid in Chicago who is so anxious about being deported, he takes his own life. Crises happen everywhere on a micro scale. Just because they are happening on the margins doesn’t make them less important.” Aziz Huq, constitutional scholar at the University of Chicago (Vox)
“The President of the United States has accomplished more in just a few weeks than many presidents do in an entire administration.” Trump adviser Stephen Miller (CBS Face the Nation)
“Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce; they should be making six-figure salaries. Education should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense.” The character of Sam Seaborn on The West Wing (Aaron Sorkin)
1– Today is the first weekday of the Trump presidency that Donald Trump has not tweeted by 8:15 am ET. (CNN)
28– Since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, 28 species have been delisted due to population recovery. (Gizmodo)
78– The percentage of Americans who voted for Trump who believe that crime in the U.S. had risen during the Obama presidency is 78 percent. (David Frum, The Atlantic)
170– The actions of humans are thought to be changing the earth’s climate 170 times faster than natural processes, according to new research. (Australian National University; CNBC)
1,105– James Joyce averaged 1,105 exclamation points for every 100,000 words he wrote. Jane Austen averaged 449 per 100,000 and Ernest Hemingway averaged 59. (Ben Blatt; The Atlantic)
Required Reading: (1.) “How to Build an Autocracy” David Frum (The Atlantic) (2.) “I Asked Eight Constitutional Experts If We’re in a Constitutional Crisis. Here’s What They Said.” Dylan Matthews (Vox) (3.) “A US-Born NASA Scientist Was Detained at the Border Until He Unlocked His Phone” Loren Grush (The Verge) (4.) “Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down” Schmitt, Baker, and Sanger (New York Times)
Some Serious Questions for Stephen Miller:
On Face the Nation last Sunday, you stated that “And President Trump is going to go to Congress and ask them to invest in our military so once again we will have unquestioned military strength beyond anything anybody can imagine.” Question: when did our military strength actually become somehow questionable? The U.S. military ranks first of all nations counted (126) in global firepower (a measure of overall strength including numbers and diversity of weapons available); our military expenditures are roughly the same as the next seven countries’ spending combined and make up 37 percent of all global military spending. Sure, the number of active duty military in our country ranks second in the world. China has more actual soldiers; India, at last count, was within 75,000 personnel. But, acknowledging that we are not in the age of large foot-battle warfare any longer, our weaponry and technological sophistication, our spending, our training, and our wealth ensure that we have one of the most powerful militaries the world has ever seen. So, Mr. Miller, what exactly would it take to have “military strength beyond anything anybody can imagine?” This seems like a vague goal, for one thing. How would success be measured here? What do you mean by that? What more is the Trump administration wanting for the military?
And, when you said that “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned,” would that include the normal checks and balances provided by the co-equal legislative and judicial branches of government? Is questioning by a citizen, a reporter, an ethics council included? When you say “will not be questioned,” are you in any way implying that there is an element of permission from the executive branch that would come into play? Is that not antithetical to the origins and values of this nation?
(You can read the full transcript of Miller’s interview here.)
Dinner Special at Mar-a-Lago: On the menu at the so-called Winter White House over the past weekend? A security discussion between the leaders of the United States and Japan regarding North Korea’s missile test. In full view of other diners and, oh, yes, the mobile phones being used for light. This, during the same week that a key to classified documents was left out in full view on the President’s desk in the Oval Office. And photographed there. But, hey, what server is President Trump using? Are his e-mails being deleted or just his tweets (in violation of federal law, but, whatevs. Is that important?)
Tonight’s title brought to you by the New York Times article referenced above: “And while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.
‘The president likes maps,’ one official said.”