Any empirical measurement of the contents of my mind would surely reveal that 2 percent of my brain cells still occupied by the various forms of symmetry hammered into them during a sweat-inducing semester in crystallography , 3 percent are holding out for the day when I will again need to diagram the complete Krebs Cycle, and at least twice that number are cheerily engaged in storing the Latin names for North American freshwater fishes.
But these are minor players in the brain game when they’re stacked against the three largest mental regions: theme music to 1960s and 70s sitcoms, obscure actresses, and, of course, B movie quotes.
In 2008, I was lucky enough to attend the Democratic National Convention. I was there at the stadium in Denver to see Barack Obama accept the nomination. It was an exciting, tears-of-joy, unforgettable evening. And I did my best to make it even more unforgettable for the poor woman who happened to be sitting next to me over the in the press section, when at some point I favored her with my best Nicol Williamson impersonation to go with this Excalibur snippet.
Be silent! Be still!. That's it. Look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night ... with Arthur, the King!' For it is the doom of men that they forget.
So, this week … it wasn’t that great. It wasn’t a mountaintop with Arthur, beginning of Camelot, let’s order up a round table sort of week. But hey, as weeks of the Orange Occupation go, this was a pretty good one.
Donald Trump turns out to be not just far less than a master deal maker, but someone who gives up after two weeks of half-hearted effort punctuated by three golf outings. The Freedom Caucus turns out to be as problematic for Republican leadership as ever with their need to make the truly hellish the enemy of the merely malicious. And Paul Ryan turns out to be Paul Ryan.
Those are all things to celebrate. So rejoice with at least medium gladness, then come on in and read some pundits.
Jennifer Rubin is the first of several Republicans getting ink-space this week, because of outstanding internecine warfare.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) avoided total humiliation in wriggling out of the president’s order to take what he knew would be a losing vote on the American Health Care Act. That he had to go, whip list in hand, to the White House, tells us how far he has been reduced in stature by this process.
The degree of totality in Ryan’s humiliation is a matter subject to debate. In fact, couldn’t the House set aside a few minutes to debate the topic “Just how totally humiliated was Paul Ryan”? America deserves to know.
Ryan will remain speaker because no one else wants the job, but in a sense he does not “lead” the House Republicans, let alone the House. He is continuously caught in the crossfire between the moderates and the far right, just as his predecessor was. He will have his hands full keeping the House together in the future on controversial, “hard” votes. The lesson members learned was to look after their own interests. Calling Ryan and Trump’s bluff worked well for them.
Actually, for the party whose goal is destruction of the government, it’s never clear that total incompetence on their part can’t be turned into evidence for their position.
Kathleen Parker has something to say about Trump’s offer-you-can-refuse negotiating style.
Trump got a good sense of what governing is like — hard, hard, hard. And it’s bound to get more difficult given the president’s tactics of consent: Do as I say or you’re dead to me.
Even bolder, Trump told congressional Republicans that if they didn’t pass the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace Obamacare, he was finished. Done. He’d walk away and move on to other things, he told recalcitrants. (To perhaps a new resort project, many were overheard praying.)
Seriously, the best thing about the whole week may have been Sean Spicer saying that Trump “left everything on the field” when he didn’t make a single speech about healthcare, spent no time trying to sell healthcare to the public, couldn’t be be bothered to develop his own plan, and gave up after two weeks.
Trump, who promised repeal and replace (as has nearly every Republican the past seven years), has no patience with process. As the chief executive of his own company for most of his life, and notwithstanding his reverence for his dealmaking skills, he prefers quick results. And, hey, if things don’t tumble his way, well, there are other greens to sow and mow. And, certainly, a 30-foot wall to build.
I am waiting for the day when someone breaks it to Trump that his wall is unbuildable.
Frank Bruni takes a swing or two.
For seven years — seven years — Republicans thundered about the evils of Obamacare, yearned for the day when they could bury it and vowed to do precisely that once the ball was in their hands.
In a Republican perfect world, they’d keep right on thundering and never write a bill. It’s called having your Obamacare and making it as awful as you can so you can be proved right about people not liking it.
On Saturday morning [Trump] tweeted: “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”
THE PEOPLE shouldn’t hold their breath. …
Republicans have already been doing things to try and make this a self-fulfilling prophesy, such as closing down the ACA ads. Things are going to get harder, whether they like it or really like it.
Hugh Hewitt and Ross Douthat are both tied for the “and why do these people have work?” award this week, with Hewitt in the Washington Post to explain how the GOP had a great week, and Douthat continuing his “what if all horses were purple and...” series of writing about anything except the mess that is his party.
Dana Milbank checked the bottom line on Trump’s promises.
How many Americans does it take to keep President Trump and his family in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed?
Wait. I think I have a reaction to that via Twitter-stream.
The average family of four in the United States pays about $4,000 a year in federal income taxes. That means the entire tax bill for 15,000 families for the year will go toward these additional protection measures for Trump. And the Secret Service is just a slice of the overall expense. Figure in costs incurred by authorities in Florida and New York, the Pentagon and others, and costs related to the Trump sons’ international business trips, and we’re well over $100 million a year.
That’s a lot of Meals on Wheels.
Corey Robin on why Friday’s non-vote reveals a lot about the Republicans.
Give Donald Trump this: His travel ban enraged only half the country. The House Republicans’ attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act, meanwhile, has alienated everyone, including members of the Republican Party itself.
Nope. Trump “left everything on the field.” He owned it.
It’s not simply that President Trump and the Republicans are incompetent and inexperienced, though they are: The overwhelming majority of the party’s congressional delegation wasn’t even in the House of Representatives when Barack Obama was first elected to the White House, and despite his reputation as a savvy pol, Paul Ryan, who became House speaker only in 2015, has almost no record of legislative achievement. (In his time in the House, which he joined in 1999, he’s managed to get signed into law only three of the bills he originally sponsored.)
Incompetent and inexperienced are Trump’s selling points.
Yascha Mounk become a citizen, then engaged citizenship.
I am middle-class and highly educated, white and with a valid visa. I know that I’ve always had it far better than millions of other immigrants. Unlike them, I had little reason to think that an open-container violation might mean getting kicked out of the country.
This month, the long-awaited day finally came. I put on a bright blue suit, a white shirt and a small black button with a quotation from the protest movement against the Vietnam War: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” As I drove to my citizenship ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, I thought about all the reasons I want to be an American.
Colbert King does a Deep Throat impersonation.
This week, FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress that the bureau is “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Based upon what has come to light thus far, expect the FBI to be joined by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the IRS. They are the agencies best equipped to conduct financial investigations into any possible crimes dealing with or motivated by money — as in money laundering.
Follow that money. Follow it!
If, during the investigation of links between Russians and Trump campaign associates, the feds come across financial transactions aimed at evading taxes on illegal income by concealing the source and amount of profit, those associated with such activities should prepare to hear the words: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury . . . ”
Now that would be a good moment. Anyone sitting next to me should be prepared for a little Excalibur.