My friend, publicity shy but otherwise admirable, has an odd way of spending his free time. He flies to some of the world’s most Godforsaken places and tries to help some of the world’s most Godforsaken people. This is how he got to the Dadaab refugee camp on the Somalia-Kenya border, a moonscape of sun-blanched trees adorned with errant ...Read more
In the last week or so, Donald Trump has decided not to be totally Donald Trump. He has changed his positions on many issues, often by simply contradicting himself and sometimes by repudiating what he once said. However he does it, it comes down to this: If policies were sexual identities, Trump wouldn’t know which bathroom to use.
Trump has ...Read more
Last week was bad for two nations. The first was Syria, which got 59 Tomahawk missiles slammed into it, destroying part of its air force, causing some casualties and losing the confidence that it could use a nerve agent with impunity. The second was the United States, which launched those missiles and then, with some exceptions, roared its ...Read more
Nikki Haley, the new ambassador to the United Nations, came before the Council on Foreign Relations last week to, among other things, pronounce human rights as at “the heart” of her mission. She mentioned the term “human rights” about 30 times, leaving no doubt about her seriousness. Later that day the State Department announced that it ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On what seems a regular basis, the United Nations takes a poke at Israel -- for its settlements policy, its treatment of Palestinians and, once, in the 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism, merely for existing. Altogether, the U.N. and its agencies have condemned Israel so many times that, on one of those proportional maps,...Read more
It is a story oft-repeated and, at first, quite moving. It is the story of Marty Bannon, father of the chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon, and how he lost much of his nest egg when the financial system cratered in 2008. He had worked for AT&T for 50 years, buying the stock when it was safe as gold (only gold paid no dividend) and ...Read more
Call her Seo-yeon. She’s an infant, cute as could be, and she will be born in the city of Busan, South Korea, in the year 2030. When she emits her first cry, this statistical abstract will have a life expectancy of about 90. Maddison, on the other hand, born the same year but in, say, Kansas City, will die seven years earlier. The cause of ...Read more
Donald Trump, clever guy that he is, has come up with a new reality show. It’s called “President for a Day” and the way it works is that, every so often, maybe once a month, Trump acts presidential, gives a speech in which an aide is not standing by with meds, and many in the media and politics hug themselves and roll around on the floor, ...Read more
Despite his jutting jaw and comical bravado, Donald Trump is not another Benito Mussolini. The Italian dictator had six children, one wife and several mistresses, the most loyal of whom, Claretta Petacci, chose to die with him and was hung upside down in a Milan gas station. Most of Trump’s women have fared better.
On the other hand, the ...Read more
For reasons he cannot fathom, Donald Trump has been asked recently about anti-Semitism, not just the rising number of incidents both here and abroad but also -- as he oddly interpreted a question at his latest news conference -- his own attitudes. As for the latter, he is, by his own testimony and that of others, no anti-Semite. If he were, he��...Read more
Sooner or later in any administration, Casey Stengel comes to mind. The great Yankee manager, ending his career with the then-hapless New York Mets, looked down the dugout one dismal day in 1962 and asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” The answer for the Mets was no. It is the same now for the Trump administration.
Michael Flynn ...Read more
My friend has a teenage son. He’s a good kid, well-behaved, impeccably mannered and exasperatingly unpredictable as many teenagers are -- a man one minute, a boy the next. My friend has schooled his son in the verities of life -- be truthful, be reliable, be civil, be patient and, above all, be humble. Now, though, my friend does not know what...Read more
Early in World War II, my friend’s father put on his Civil Defense helmet and scanned the Coney Island beach for the arrival of German saboteurs. Maybe because he was so alert, Nazis never landed near the roller coaster, but on the West Coast similar no-shows nevertheless produced a panic. Soon enough, Japanese-Americans were incarcerated in ...Read more
Sean Spicer is the appropriate face of the new Trump administration. He is the White House press secretary, the spokesman and all of that, and he came into the briefing room on Saturday wearing the blank expression of Laurence Harvey after turning over the queen of diamonds in “The Manchurian Candidate.” You’ve heard of a Molotov cocktail....Read more
WASHINGTON -- Whether he knows it or not, the specter of Lyndon Baines Johnson haunts Donald John Trump. There are some jarring similarities -- two big fleshy men given to vulgarities and gauche behavior, boastful, thin-skinned, politically amoral, vengeful, unforgiving and, most important, considered illegitimate presidents. For Johnson that ...Read more
Donald Trump is a one-man basket of deplorables. He is a braggart and a liar. He is a bully and a demagogue. He is an ignoramus and a deadbeat, a chiseler and either a sincere racist or an insincere one, and his love for himself is matched only by my loathing of him. He is about to be president of the United States. A constitutional coup may be ...Read more
In Chinese culture, this will be the year of the rooster. It will be celebrated in the usual style with firecrackers and dragon dances. In the culture of political Washington, this will instead be the year of the chicken. It will be celebrated by mute men, uniformed in dark suit and red ties, nodding insincerely as the president of the United ...Read more