Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 23rd, 2018

Donald Trump and the Craven Firing of Andrew McCabe

leave a comment »

Jeffrey Toobin has an excellent column in the New Yorker:

If you wanted to tell the story of an entire Presidency in a single tweet, you could try the one that President Trump posted after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the F.B.I., on Friday night.

Every sentence is a lie. Every sentence violates norms established by Presidents of both parties. Every sentence displays the pettiness and the vindictiveness of a man unsuited to the job he holds.

The President has crusaded for months against McCabe, who is a crucial corroborating witness to Trump’s attempts to stymie the F.B.I.’s investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia. McCabe had first earned Trump’s enmity for supervising, for a time, the F.B.I.’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail practices, which ended without charges being filed against her. In these roles, McCabe behaved with the dignity and the ethics consistent with decades of distinguished service in law enforcement. He played by the rules. He honored his badge as a special agent. But his service threatened the President—both because of the past exoneration of Clinton and the incrimination of Trump, and for that, in our current environment, he had to be punished. Trump’s instrument in stifling McCabe was the President’s hapless Attorney General, who has been demeaning himself in various ways to try to save his own job. Sessions’s crime, in the President’s eyes, was recusing himself in the Russia investigation. (Doing the right thing, as Sessions did on that matter, is often a route to trouble with Trump.)

Sessions’s apparent ground for firing McCabe, on the eve of his retirement from the Bureau, thus perhaps depriving him of some or all of his retirement benefits, involves improper contacts with the news media. As an initial matter, this is rich, coming from an Administration that has leaked to the media with abandon. Still, the charges seem unfair on their face. After McCabe was dismissed, on Friday night, he said in a statement that the “investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. It was the type of exchange with the media that the Deputy Director oversees several times per week.” The idea that this alleged misdeed justifies such vindictive action against a distinguished public servant is laughable.

In his statement, McCabe spoke with bracing directness. “Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” he said. In other words, McCabe was fired because he is a crucial witness in the investigation led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. The firing of Comey is the central pillar of a possible obstruction-of-justice case against the President, either in a criminal prosecution or in an impeachment proceeding. By firing McCabe, Trump (through Sessions) has attempted to neuter an important witness; if and when McCabe testifies against Trump, he will now be dismissed by the President’s supporters as an ex-employee embittered by his firing. How this kind of attack on McCabe plays out in a courtroom, or just in the court of public opinion, remains to be seen.

What’s clear, though, is the depth of the President’s determination to prevent Mueller from taking his inquiries to their conclusion, as his personal attorney, John Dowd, made clear. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Dowd said, “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.” Of course, notwithstanding Dowd’s caveat that he was speaking only for himself, Rosenstein is on notice that his failure to fire Mueller might lead to his own departure. And Sessions, too, must know that his craven act in firing McCabe will guarantee him nothing. Trump believes that loyalty goes only one way; the Attorney General may still be fired at any moment.

To spin matters out further, Sessions could be replaced with someone already confirmed by the Senate—perhaps Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A.—who could take office in an acting capacity. At the moment, Mueller’s investigation is supervised by Rosenstein, the deputy Attorney General, but presumably a new Attorney General, without Sessions’s conflict of interest, would take over that role. And that new Attorney General could fire Mueller. Such scenarios once seemed like the stuff of conspiracy theories. Now they look like the stuff of tomorrow’s news. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 4:22 pm

Teenagers Have Become Lovely Human Beings. But Why?

leave a comment »

Kevin Drum has a chart that shows the remarkable changes, and also a reason why: this is the first generation to grow up in an environment that is almost completely free of lead pollution.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 1:59 pm

Attorney says Roy Moore supporters offered him $10,000 to drop client who accused the Senate candidate of sexual impropriety

leave a comment »

Republicans really are something. Shawn Boburg and Dalton Bennett report in the Washngton Post:

Days after a woman accused U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual impropriety, two Moore supporters approached her attorney with an unusual request.

They asked lawyer Eddie Sexton to drop the woman as a client and say publicly that he did not believe her. The damaging statement would be given to Breitbart News, then run by former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

In exchange, Sexton said in recent interviews, the men offered to pay him $10,000 and promised to introduce him to Bannon and others in the nation’s capital. Parts of Sexton’s account are supported by recorded phone conversations, text messages and people in whom he confided at the time.

The effort to undermine Leigh Corfman’s allegations — beginning on Nov. 13, a month before the election — shows how far some of Moore’s most fervent supporters were willing to go to salvage an Alabama campaign that many hoped would propel a nationwide populist movement and solidify Bannon’s image as a political kingmaker.

In the phone conversations and texts, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Post, one of the men spoke of ties to Moore and Bannon while urging Sexton to help “cloud” the allegations, which included other women’s claims that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

“What they’re saying, all they want to do is cloud something,” Gary Lantrip, who attended at least one private fundraising event for Moore, said during a phone call recorded by Sexton. “They said if they cloud, like, two of them, then that’s all they need.”

Lantrip also made references to money — at one point speaking haltingly about the “the ten [pause] dollars,” a shorthand for the $10,000 offer, Sexton said.

“We got some chance to do something, make some quick little-bitty for you … and then, on down the line, we can go to D.C.,” Lantrip said during the recorded call.

Sexton was initially reluctant to talk publicly about the alleged offer, because the men — Lantrip and Bert Davi, business partners in a small construction firm — are his clients in an unrelated court case, a dispute over a real estate venture. Sexton decided to speak publicly after repeated requests over months from Post reporters, who contacted him after obtaining one of the recordings.

Sexton vouched for the authenticity and accuracy of the recordings and messages.

In a statement, Moore said Thursday that Lantrip and Davi had attended rallies but that the campaign was not involved in any effort to pay Sexton. “I nor anyone else in the campaign offered anyone money to say something untrue, nor did I or anyone else authorize someone else to do such a thing,” he wrote. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Designing Cannabis Supply to Promote Temperance

leave a comment »

Mark Kleiman has an interesting post at The Reality-Based Community:

Today I had the pleasure and honor of testifying before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Canadian Senate. It really was a pleasure; the Senators asked precise and perceptive questions and avoided speechifying.

In my oral presentation, I stressed the idea that cannabis prohibition is no longer operationally feasible in the U.S. or Canada, and that we can get the drug under better control if we recognize that fact and create a well-designed system of legal availability, where by “well-designed” I mean a system crafted to provide convenient access to safe and properly labeled cannabis for moderate use by adults, without creating either a commercial industry or a revenue-hungry public enterprise.  Any entity devoted to making money from cannabis sales will by its nature be devoted to the spread of cannabis use disorder, since temperate majority of cannabis users are of little commercial value compared to the minority of very heavy users, who account for more than 80% of sales.

Testimony of Mark A.R. Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy
Director of the Crime and Justice Program
Marron Institute of Urban Management
New York University

Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Senate of Canada
March 22, 2018

It is an honor to be allowed to offer my views on the design of a legal market for cannabis, a topic that has absorbed a substantial part of my attention throughout my career in government and in academia. Since the topic is complex and time is limited, what follows cannot be a full exposition of all the complexities and uncertainties, and it omits the credit due to the many colleagues whose work it reflects. To be complete and properly sourced, each numbered point below would need to be a chapter.

1. The great gains from legalizing cannabis sales (for non-medical use) are the resulting shrinkage in illicit commerce and the provision of legal supply to adults who wish to use the drug and can do so temperately.

2. The great potential loss from legalizing cannabis is increased intemperate use. (A large increase in use by minors is substantial in terms of potential harm but modest in terms of probability.) While the drug is often represented as “non-addictive,” in fact quite substantial percentages of current users report having difficulty controlling their own behavior around the drug. (Rates of problem use in total use are roughly comparable to those for alcohol, for example.) In the United States, problematic cannabis use has increased very markedly, both absolutely and compared to the total number of users, over the past quarter-century. Of all U.S. persons who report in surveys having used cannabis in the past month, four in ten report having used it every day or almost every day during that month. Of those daily/near-daily users, approximately half self-report the symptoms of cannabis use disorder. That figure amounts to approximately 4 million people nationwide. I’m not familiar with comparable statistics for Canada, but the patterns of use in the two countries seem sufficiently similar that the U.S. statistics constitute a reason for Canadian concern.

3. Insofar as cannabis substitutes (in the economic sense) for other, more harmful intoxicants – including alcohol – legalization might lead to significant gains in public health and public safety. There is some – though not yet definitive – evidence that greater cannabis availability tends to lead to less opiate use (medical and non-medical) and less opiate-related harm. Evidence on substitution for – or, alternatively, complementarity with – alcohol, remains scattered and mixed.

4. Cannabis is, as a legal product, quite cheap to produce. “Farm-gate” costs can be expected to fall below $1/gram, and perhaps quite substantially below that level. Even with normal processing costs and retail markups, pre-tax prices once the licit market is mature should be expected to be a small fraction of illicit-market prices, or even current dispensary prices.

5. Very low prices encourage intemperate consumption.

6. The rapid growth in the estimated number of daily/near-daily users in the United States accompanied a marked decline in the price of cannabis (adjusted for inflation and THC content). The precise causal relationships remain unclear, but there is no assurance that further price declines – already marked in the U.S. states, which first legalized cannabis – will not fuel further growth in daily/near-daily use and in cannabis use disorder.

7. At current prices, a daily/near-daily user can easily spend thousands of dollars per year on cannabis. That fact alone suggests that heavy use is likely to be price-sensitive. On the other hand, price is of little concern to ordinary cannabis consumers. The current cost of cannabis use for someone who has not built up a tolerance is (very approximately) 50 cents per intoxicated hour.

8. Therefore, the social gains from lower prices are unlikely to be significant, while the risks are substantial. This suggests that preventing further price decreases ought to be among the design elements of a prevention-oriented cannabis policy. Preventing the growth of cannabis use disorder requires preventing the collapse of cannabis prices.

9. In Washington and Colorado, post-legalization prices have been falling at the rate of approximately 20% per year, with no bottom in sight. Everyday discounts make high-potency cannabis available at less than $100 per ounce, equivalent to less than $3.50 per gram or about 15 cents per intoxicated hour. “Bargain” prices – still for 16%-THC flower – are now down to $15 per quarter-ounce, or about $2/gram, with no floor in sight.

10. The most direct means of managing prices would be state-monopoly retail distribution, after the pattern of alcohol monopolies in some provinces.

11. However, equivalent results could be achieved by taxation (or by limiting production rights and conducting periodic rights auctions).

12. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government

Accelerating toward tyranny

leave a comment »

I’ll point out that the writer of the column below, Andrew Sullivan, is a conservative, not a liberal. From New York:

Every now and again, when I find myself buried in the latest blizzard of invariably disturbing news emanating from the Trump White House, I go back and remind myself of the core narrative. I read Plato’s Republic again, the prism through which I first raised the alarm about Donald Trump’s emergence. The prism is essentially how a late-stage democracy, dripping with decadence and corruption, with elites dedicated primarily to enriching themselves, and a people well past any kind of civic virtue, morphs so easily into tyranny.

When Plato’s tyrant first comes to power — on a wave of populist hatred of the existing elites — there is a period of relative calm when he just gives away stuff: at first he promises much “in private and public, and grant[s] freedom from debts and distribute[s] land to the people and those around himself” (or, say, a trillion-dollar unfunded tax cut). He aims to please. But then, as he accustoms himself to power, and feels more comfortable, “he suspects certain men of having free thoughts and not putting up with his ruling … Some of those who helped in setting him up and are in power — the manliest among them — speak frankly to him and to one another, criticizing what is happening … Then the tyrant must gradually do away with all of them, if he’s going to rule, until he has left neither friend nor enemy of any worth whatsoever.”

This is the second phase of tyranny, after the more benign settling-in: the purge. Any constraints that had been in place to moderate the tyrant’s whims are set aside; no advice that counters his own gut impulses can be tolerated. And so, over the last couple of weeks, we have seen the president fire Rex Tillerson and Andrew McCabe, two individuals who simply couldn’t capitulate to the demand that they obey only Trump, rather than the country as well.

And because of this small gesture of defiance, they deserved especial public humiliation. Tillerson was warned of his impending doom while on the toilet — a nice, sadistic touch. McCabe was fired hours before his retirement, a public execution also fraught with venom. What kind of man is this? We have become numb to it, but we should never forget how our president is a man who revels in his own cruelty. Revenge is not a dish best served cold for him. It’s the reddest and rawest of meats.

No one with these instincts for total domination over others is likely to moderate the longer he is in power. Au contraire. It always gets worse. And so Tillerson has been replaced by a fawning toady, Mike Pompeo, a man whose hatred of Islam is only matched by his sympathy for waterboarders. Pompeo has been replaced in turn by a war criminal, who authorized brutal torture and illegally destroyed the evidence, Gina Haspel. Whatever else we know about Haspel, we know she follows orders.

Gary Cohn has been replaced by Larry Kudlow — a sane person followed by a delusional maniac Trump sees on Fox, who instantly thought up ways for the president to cut taxes further without congressional approval. And the State Department, indeed the entire diplomatic apparatus, has, it seems, been replaced by Jared Kushner, a corrupt enthusiast for West Bank settlements who no longer has a security clearance.

Then the president’s legal team was shaken up — in order to purge those few who retain some appreciation for the rule of law in a constitutional republic and to replace them with conspiracy theorists, thugs, and the kind of combative, asshole lawyers Trump has always employed in his private capacity. Trump is self-evidently — obviously— preparing to fire Mueller, and the GOP’s complete acquiescence to the firing of McCabe is just a taste of the surrender to come. “Now I’m fucking doing it my own way!” was how he allegedly expressed his satisfaction at the purge, as his approval ratings from Republicans increase, and as the GOP’s evolution into a full-fledged cult gathers pace.

And then last night, we saw McMaster fall on his sword, replaced by John Bolton, an unrepentant architect of the most disastrous war since Vietnam, a fanatical advocate for regime change in Iran, an anti-Muslim extremist, and a believer in the use of military force as if it were a religion. And this, of course, is also part of the second phase for Plato’s tyrant: war. “As his first step, he is always setting some war in motion, so that people will be in need of a leader,” Plato explains. In fact, “it’s necessary for a tyrant always to be stirring up war.”

Trump somewhat confused us on this score at first, because  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 12:23 pm

Buckets of rocks are Pennsylvania schools’ last defense against shooters

leave a comment »

Economical, and probably more effective than the technique Trump would use (charging barehanded at the shooter). Reuters reports:

rural Pennsylvania school district has equipped all 200 of its classrooms with buckets of rocks that students and teachers could use as a “last line of defense” in the event of a school shooting, the district’s superintendent said on Friday.

The buckets are just one of the measures that Blue Mountain School District in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, has put in place this academic year, along with security cameras, secured building entrances and fortified classroom doors, Superintendent David Helsel said in a telephone interview.

“We didn’t want our students to be helpless victims,” Helsel said. “River stones were my idea. I thought they would be more effective than throwing books or book bags or staplers.”

Last month’s massacre of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, sparked fresh debate in the United States over how to prevent school shootings.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to join rallies in Washington and around the country on Saturday calling for tighter gun laws in “March for Our Lives” protests organized by the young survivors of the Parkland shooting.

Helsel said the idea of equipping classrooms with rocks grew out of his reading of the active-shooter defense program known as ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

He first spoke about the rock buckets in testimony at the Pennsylvania state house in Harrisburg last week.

Helsel said his school board approved the rock buckets before they were put in the classrooms at the district’s five schools last fall. Parents in Orwigsburg, about 92 miles (148 km) northwest of Philadelphia, have been mostly supportive, he added.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 11:24 am

Posted in Daily life, Education, Guns

Tagged with

Those who oppose reforms say nothing can be done. That’s demonstrably wrong.

leave a comment »

Robert Gebelhoff writes in the Washington Post:

For far too long, those who oppose gun reforms have said that nothing can be done to stem the violence.

Those claims are demonstrably wrong. Research on gun violence is notoriously underfunded, but the data we do have shows that lawmakers can act to save lives from gun violence.

Thousands of people will descend on the Mall this week to protest gun violence in the United States. This movement should be informed by science, with specific policy proposals that could make a real impact.

Ban weapons of war

The Las Vegas massacre. The massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. The Virginia Tech slaughter. The massacre at the Texas First Baptist Church.

These are the five highest-casualty mass shootings in modern American history. And what did they all have in common? Semiautomatic weapons that allowed the shooter to fire into crowds without reloading.

Based on the evidence we have, banning these weapons probably won’t do too much to curb overall gun deaths. We know this because in 1994, Congress passed legislation to outlaw the sale of certain types of semiautomatic guns and large-capacity magazines, and the effect was unimpressive. Gun homicide rates declined during the ban, but they also fell after the ban expired in 2004. One federally funded study of the ban found that the effect on violence was insignificant, partly because it was full of loopholes.

But banning so-called assault weapons was never meant to reduce overall gun deaths. It was meant to reduce gun deaths from mass shootings — even if these represent a small portion of gun violence.

And in fact, mass shooting casualties dipped during the ban, although a review of studies by the Rand Corporation found the effect of the ban on mass shootings to be inconclusive. We need to know more.

But research shows that semiautomatic weapons and weapons with high-capacity magazines are more dangerous than other weapons in shooting events. One older study of handgun attacks in New Jersey shows that gunfire incidents involving semiautomatic weapons wounded 15 percent more people than shootings with other weapons. Another more recent study from Minneapolis found that shootings with more than 10 shots fired accounted for between 20 and 28 percent of gun victims in the city.

So how do we keep such dangerous weapons from being used in crime? A ban on assault weapons might help, as data from a few cities during the 1994 ban suggest: . . .

Continue reading.

More charts (and convincing charts) at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 9:42 am

Posted in Guns, Law

What Hope Hicks Knows

leave a comment »

Olivia Nuzzi writes in New York:

n the morning of Wednesday, February 28, Hope Hicks arrived at the White House just after 8 a.m. Within a week, it would be snowing in Washington, D.C., but she was dressed for spring in a bouquet of purple, yellow, and blue, as if willing the end of winter with her miniskirt. She held on to her iPhone in the West Wing, in violation of a rule that normally diverted it to a locker secured by a shiny silver key, then retreated to her office, a first-floor broom closet that in the past had been assigned to presidential secretaries.

When the administration began 13 months before, competition among some staffers had manifested as a struggle for real estate here; Omarosa Manigault, a perennial reality-TV contestant, had gone so far as to steal a room that had been designated for Anthony Scaramucci, “the Mooch,” a hedge-fund millionaire obsessed with astrology and the word fuck, because of its status-confirming glimpse of the Washington Monument. Both of them were eventually fired, along with a procession of others who failed to maneuver the chaotic status hierarchy President Trump seemed to cultivate out of boredom.

A view of duck-tour buses circling the mall wasn’t needed for Hicks to know her standing. What her office lacked in flair it made up for in proximity. While others were left wondering what the president was thinking, Hicks could often hear him shouting, even with her door closed. “Hope!” he’d scream. “Hopey!” “Hopester!” “Get in here!”

Many requests were mundane. “He doesn’t write anything down,” one source close to the White House told me. “He doesn’t type, he dictates. ‘Take this down, take this down: Trump: richest man on Earth.’ ” A second source who meets regularly with the president told me that Hicks acted almost as an embodiment of the faculties the Trump lacked — like memory. “He’ll be talking, and then right in the middle he’ll be like, ‘Hope, what was that … thing?’ ” When the name of a senator or congressman or journalist came up, Trump would prompt Hicks to provide a history of their interactions, asking, “Do we like him?” “And she fucking remembers!” (Trump has said his own memory is “one of the greatest memories of all time.”) “She’s the only person he trusts,” the second source continued. “He doesn’t trust any men and never has. He doesn’t like men, you see. He has no male friends. I was just with one of them the other day, someone who’s described as one of his closest friends, and he doesn’t know him very well. But a small number of women, including his longtime assistant back in New York, he really listens to them — especially if he’s not banging them. Because, like a lot of men but more so, Trump really does compartmentalize the sex and the emotional part.”

Hicks looked around her sepulchral space, outfitted with three mismatched chairs. On the desk was a tiny oil painting by her paternal grandmother, Lucile G. Hicks, an abstract work that looked like the sea or the inside of a cyclone, depending on your point of view. Fresh flowers were delivered by the White House florist each week; today they were pale-pink roses. With the president a motorcade ride away on Capitol Hill at the memorial of “the GREAT” Reverend Billy Graham, there was relative quiet.

Hicks took out one of her notebooks, black leather with the Trump name embossed in gold on the front. She’d prayed a lot over the weekend, and also written two lists in the same bubbly print that had recently been photographed on a note card in Trump’s hand, reminding him to tell survivors of a school shooting, among other things, “I hear you.” One list contained reasons to resign as White House communications director immediately; the other, reasons to wait to resign. Not resigning at all wasn’t a consideration.

She’d come close twice before. Over dinner in Bedminster in early August, she told Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump that she was unhappy. She’d thought that being in the White House would feel different than the campaign, but instead, surrounded by eccentrics, maniacs, divas, and guys from the Republican National Committee who seemed to think they were managing a Best Buy in Kenosha, it was somehow sicker there in the stillness of it all. She suggested removing herself from the belly of the psychodrama to work elsewhere in the administration. Sharing her frustrations, Jared and Ivanka engaged her idea with caution; they asked her to give General John Kelly, the new chief of staff, a chance to change the West Wing for the better.

But as time went on, it became clear that the sickness was a feature, that anyone who entered the building became a little sick themselves. And no matter how dead any of the eccentrics or maniacs or divas appeared to be, how far away from the president their status as fired or resigned or never-hired-in-the-first-place should have logically rendered them, nobody was ever truly gone. The people who were problems on the campaign or on the inside continued to be problems. The president’s taste for the other and the new was so established that the most driven among them knew that all they had to do was wait for an opening, or shrewdly create one — a weakened staffer, a particularly demoralizing news cycle — and they could worm their way back in. The madness engulfing the White House, in other words, was not just a matter of staff infighting or factional ideological rivalries, as it was often portrayed in the press, but also, in part, the result of manipulation from the fringes of Trumpworld. In early December, Hicks had seriously considered resigning again. When her apartment’s annual lease came up for renewal, she couldn’t bring herself to sign the papers. Instead, she signed a six-month lease at a significant cost inflation.

Over the weekend, she had sketched out in her notebook various courses of action and how they might play in the press. If she resigned immediately, the assumption would be that it was the result of the bad news that had defined the winter. There was the question of her legal exposure in the special-counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the election; already, she’d been interviewed by Robert Mueller and had appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “She’s never failed to impress me, and I’m not an easy guy to impress, historically. I’m not a cheerleader,” White House counsel Ty Cobb told me. “She’s sort of the last person on my list that I worry about.” Yet Hicks surfaced at pivotal moments that were of interest to investigators, and she was now being mentioned along with phrases like obstruction. Soon she’d testify in the House, where she would take questions for nine hours, one moment of which, when it leaked — her admission that she’d told “white lies”on her boss’s behalf — made headlines around the globe (some suggesting the president was furious with her). And then there was her personal life, which, with a tabloid story that swelled into a background check and classified-information scandal, had collided with the country’s national security in a way that rarely happens outside Netflix.

Yet, if she waited, she probably couldn’t avoid the impression that she was leaving because of a crisis, because there was always a crisis. If she’d resigned in August, they’d have said it was owed to Charlottesville. In December? Mueller or Roy Moore. January? Fire and Fury. From a public-relations perspective, there would never be a right moment to leave, but public relations as it’s traditionally understood had almost no relevance in this White House. By Sunday, her gut had decided for her what her head couldn’t.

When the president returned from the Capitol around noon, Hicks opened her office door, which clasps with a ring at its center, and walked about ten feet to her right, into the Oval Office. Before she could finish resigning, Trump interrupted her. He told her that he cared about her happiness, that he understood her decision, and he would help her do anything she wanted to do in her life. He said he hoped she would go make a lot of money. He also said he hoped that she would come back at some point.

Then the president added something else: “I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through.”

Hope Hicks wasn’t a victim; on this both her allies and critics agreed. She didn’t faint in a field of poppies and wake to find herself on Donald Trump’s campaign, 35,000 feet up and strapped in aboard a Boeing 757. Over the course of three years, she’d spent more time with Trump than anyone, more than his own children and his wife, and she acknowledged his flaws and idiosyncrasies. She had made her choices knowingly, even if she couldn’t know where they’d lead her. But she believed Trump was a good person, and she was angered that his critics didn’t seem open to the parts of his personality that would lead them to believe the same. To Hicks, the president’s policies were secondary considerations — the man himself came first. And at the end of the day, she really liked him. “Part of it is because of the proximity,” a source close to her said, “part of it is human nature.” She even sounded a little like him sometimes, uttering words like loser in her sugary voice.

It would require an extraordinary sequence of events for her to finally quit. According to dozens of interviews conducted, over five weeks, with more than 30 current and former senior White House officials, what Hicks “went through,” to borrow the words of the president, wasn’t really about her at all. She was something more like a pawn in a campaign to upend the White House from afar.

“When I decided to run for president, I said, ‘Hope, lots of luck, hang on!’ ” Trump told me once. It was April 2016, and we were in his office in Trump Tower. He hadn’t yet secured the Republican nomination, but he was about to, and I was there to talk to him about his uncommonly press-shy press secretary, who sat in silence beside me, radiating discomfort. While nearly everyone else associated with the campaign seemed to think of it primarily as an opportunity to get on TV, Hicks feared attention, a quality that worked in her favor — her boss wanted all the attention for himself — until it didn’t.

Hicks was 26 years old in 2015 when she was called to the same office, high above 57th and Fifth, and asked to accompany the future president someplace she’d never been: a political event (the Iowa Freedom Summit) in a caucus state. She didn’t overanalyze her decision to join the campaign, thinking of it almost the way you’d think about a semester studying abroad. “The feeling was, You know what? I’m just going to roll with it. Let’s see what happens until the election,” a source who has known her since before the campaign told me. “She wasn’t someone who was in it for the politics. She was in it because of the person, and the relationship with the family, and the experience.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 8:58 am

Vetiver morning with Creed sample

leave a comment »

The Wife visited the Creed store in Paris and brought me a bottle of a Creed EDT along with some samples. I immediately wanted to try the vetiver, since it strikes me as a fragrance for springtime when, as e.e. cummings wrote, “the world is mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.”

So naturally I chose a vetiver soap, and Jabonman’s Eufros soap, Vetiver de Haiti, is a very nice soap indeed. The Simpson Emperor 3 Best worked up a thick and vetiver-y lather, and the iKon 101 did its usual superb job. Every time I use it now, I try to figure out why I got rid of my first one.

Three passes to a perfect result, and then a few sprays of Creed’s Original Vetiver finished the job. (I spray a small amount into my palm, rub my hands together, and then rub my hands on my face.)

A fine way to start a Friday.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2018 at 8:43 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: