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Week's End Thoughts & Reflections, July 28, 2018

Late-breaking: President expresses buyer's remorse, laments "Jared hasn’t been so good for me," could have had Tom Brady for son-in-law. (Alice Ollstein, NYT: Trump Laments That He Could Have Had Tom Brady, Not Jared, As Son-In-Law, Talking Points Memo, July 28, 2018)

You wouldn't make this stuff up department. "I expected something like this from Cohen. He's been lying all week. He's been lying for years." Rudy Giuliani to CNN's Chris Cuomo, July 27, 2018.

"Michael Cohen doesn't have any incriminating information on the president or himself. He's an honest, honorable lawyer." Giuliani to George Stephanopoulos May 6, 2018

Swimmer Ryan Lochte was suspended for a violation of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) policy on intravenous infusions having to do with the amount of permitted substances allowable through an IV for therapeutic use. USADA sleuths got wind of the offense when they noticed Lochte's Instagram post showing himself receiving an "athletic recovery" IV injection of vitamins.

Is it possible this stable genius is angling for a position in the Trump regime? Maybe create a new cabinet post, Minister of Sport. He appears to be qualified.

For the record, Lochte's line is that the violation is a technicality and he was unaware of this particular restriction. He did not contest the suspension. Other US swimmers said they were aware of the rule and that this is one of the things that comes up in USADA meetings every time a swimmer goes to a training center. Maybe it was an honest mistake. We all make moves that are not among the brightest. I've met my quota and then some.

"Our game [that would be football] is under attack. I fear that the game will get pushed so far to one extreme that you won’t recognize it 10 years from now. And I do believe that if it gets to that point, our country goes down, too."

—Larry Fedora, University of North Carolina head football coach, questioning the connection between football and the traumatic brain injuries suffered by former players. (Aaron Timms, How football coaches became the vanguard of American conservatism, The Guardian, July 25, 2018)

Thomas Frank has a fine column (Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class?, The Guardian, July 27, 2018) on the perversity of right-wing populism and the "continuing failure of liberals to defeat this thing, even as its freakishness and destructiveness became apparent to everyone." I am not completely on board with his analysis, but I do find much that merits coming to terms with. He recognizes that the deeply flawed Democratic Party "is the only weapon we have against the party of Trump," and he puts the stakes for November in stark terms:

Democrats simply have to take one of the houses of Congress this fall and commence holding Trump accountable. Failure at this baseline mission is unthinkable; it will mean the Democratic party has no reason for being, even on its own compromised terms.

Frank and I are on the same page in viewing Trump as more symptom than cause of the present crisis:

Trump may be an oaf, but the vicious strain of rightwing populism he introduced is not going away. Trumpism is the future for the Republican party—it delivered Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Iowa too. Wisconsin, of all places, is now a battleground state. In the hands of a real politician, Trumpism has the potential to romp even farther. Beating the right cannot simply be a matter of waiting for a dolt in the Oval Office to screw things up. There has to be a plan for actively challenging and reversing it, for turning around the fraction of working class voters who have been abandoning the Democratic party for decades. The time is up for happy fantasies of office-park centrism and professional-class competence.

No one has a magic bullet that will bring down Trumpism. We have to throw a lot of stuff out there, reason and think and quarrel respectfully among ourselves as best we are able, and hope we find something that sticks.

What we do not need is sophomoric vandalism passing itself off as activism, resistance, &c. I have in mind the unmooring of Betsy DeVos's yacht (Betsy DeVos' $40 million yacht vandalized in Ohio). This stuff contributes nothing toward resolution of student loan and debt issues and does nothing to advance any progressive cause.

Juan Cole points out that Iran's president Hassan Rouhani is at a disadvantage in a war of tweets with Trump because Persian has no capital letters. (Trump and Iran’s Rouhani Threaten each other with the Mother of all Wars, Informed Comment, July 23, 2018).

Firing Line with Margaret Hoover continues to be worth following. Most recently she interviewed Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. I was struck by Hoover's combativeness with Weingarten. This was in pretty sharp contrast to her approach in other episodes of the show, even with liberal or left-leaning guests like Merkley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I wonder if this is a change in editorial strategy to spice up the show or perhaps a reflection of sponsors' expectation that she take a hard line on unions. Maybe she feels a particular passion for school privatization. It is too early to make too much of it. I look forward to checking out the tenor of the debate in upcoming episodes.

Resist Trump Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Keep the faith.

Memo from the Editorial Desk

Minor edits were made to this piece after it was published. The late-breaking item and the Giuliani quotes were added.

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