Workers removed thousands of social distancing stickers before Trump’s Tulsa rally, according to video and a person familiar with the set-up ~ The Washington Post

Trump Can’t Name One Thing He’d Prioritize if Re-elected ~ RollingStone ~~~ Hard to believe we are worried about this guys re-election…??? rŌbert

Even with Fox News’ Sean Hannity holding his hand, the president drew a blank when asked about a possible four more years


President Donald Trump Fox News Interview.


Trump had it all: Home-field advantage, an adoring audience, a pitcher who was determined to make him look good by serving up nothing but softballs, and yet again the president struck out. Somehow, in the midst of a campaign season, Trump could not name a single thing he’d prioritize if American voters are kind enough to give him another term in office come November.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity teed one up for the president during a Thursday interview that was filled with simple, leading questions.

Hannity asked Trump: “If you hear in 131 days from now, at some point in the night or early morning: ‘We can now project Donald J. Trump has been re-elected the 45th president of the United States’—let’s talk. What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what is one of your top priority items for a second term?”

A completely stumped Trump decided to riff and wound up rambling off a mess of words that were tailor-made for the viral comedic sensation Sarah Cooper’s next lip-synch video.

“Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good,” Trump said while turning to the audience. “I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It’s an, a very important meaning.”

“I never did this before. I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington, I think, 17 times. All of a sudden, I’m president of the United States. You know the story. I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, ‘This is great,’” Trump said. “But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now, I know everybody, and I have great people in the administration.”

Without taking a breath, Trump then pivoted to his former national security adviser John Bolton, whose new book about his time in the White House has gotten under the president’s skin—but also, who has nothing to do with the question Hannity asked.

“You make some mistakes. Like, you know, an idiot like Bolton. The only thing he wanted to do was drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to kill people,” Trump said.

Hannity finally jumped in to help by continuing Trump’s focus on Bolton and left the topic of a second term as though the question was never asked.

With the ongoing pandemic, the economy in shambles, and even some of Trump’s pet issues like immigration, it’s hard to fathom why he drifted the way he did. But thankfully for the president, Hannity was there to hold his hand and guide him through an interview that short on substance, but long on propaganda.

The Unfathomable Stupidity of Rich White Men ~ DAILY KOS

I must preface this piece sent by a friend (with a side-note) who works in the ski industry and has a pretty observant and positive world-view.  I agree with her on most things and did with this article too.  She said to me “I actually know a number of rich white men (my clients) who do not fit into this category at all, but this article says it like it is. I was cheering as I read it.”  
I replied to her “I can agree with you knowing a fair number of wealthy white men who I consider friends that possess a positive and self-actualized view of the world. But I wonder who those greedy, self-centered white boys are that voted for the guy in office?”  I don’t know any of them.


Oh, rich, white men.  You unfathomable idiots.  You could have had it all!

There you were back in 2008, freshly bailed out after almost totaling the economy with your criminal greed, with not a single one of you headed to prison for it.   While working class incomes stagnated, health costs soared, and the young staggered under the weight of student loans, you and your fellow plutocrats sat smugly atop a mountain of accumulated wealth, courtesy of an economy structured for your benefit by legislators beholden to your largesse.

Yes, you were sitting pretty.   And all you had to do to keep it that way was to not wage a racist, scorched-earth war against the first Black President of the United States. That’s all!  That is the only thing you dumb, stupid idiots had to do:  swallow your pride, smile, shake hands, and play nice with one of the most charismatic, inspiring, intelligent and genuinely moral politicians in American history.

Barack Obama didn’t want to ruin you, you dumbasses!  He wasn’t out to confiscate your estates, kill your grandmas, and force you into re-education camps!   All he wanted was a more humane, less cruel, less racist version of the system that made you rich.  You should have wanted that too!  Not because you care about other people — for your own good!   But you were too stupid.

What would it have cost you?  A moderate tax hike?  More oversight from nosy bureaucrats?  Some limits on your environmental depredations and exploitation of workers?  Maybe a few more women and people of color showing up at the Executive Retreat?   And in return, millions of your fellow citizens would have health coverage, a living wage, affordable education and child care, clean air and water, some disposable income and free time – in short, a stake in the system.

You should have seen how providing these things served your interests, you imbeciles!  How a more economically secure working and middle class would be less likely to question the legitimacy of the system!  How living in a society where people are happier because they aren’t beset on all sides by financial and physical insecurity would be more pleasant for you, too!   But most of all, how unbelievably, brain-meltingly stupid it would be to actually burn down a system constructed by rich white guys for rich white guys – just because you can’t stand being told what’s good for you by a confident, competent, superior Black man.

But you couldn’t see that, because you were too greedy, too racist, and – most of all – too stupid.  So instead, you declared open war.  You obstructed.  You “investigated.” You lied – about his policies, about your intentions, about his religion and national origin.  You vilified the man who came to save you from yourselves, thwarted his reasonable agenda, blocked his qualified judicial picks, mocked and slandered him for actualizing the very promise of America: that anyone can rise to the top based on talent, initiative, and the content of their character.  Then, just to drive the point home, you replaced him with the most grotesque caricature of rich white entitled male supremacy imaginable, a man you knew to be an idiot, an incompetent, a degenerate, a xenophobe, a racist, a con man and a criminal.  That’s who you made Barack Obama shake hands with as he departed the White House — and he still managed to do it with dignity.

You elevated this grotesquery to the Presidency, cynically stoking the racist, sexist, xenophobic resentments of the white working as you proceeded to loot the treasury, stack the courts, disenfranchise voters and eviscerate the civil service.  Nothing was off limits to your idiotic greed.  You even looted the pandemic relief fund!    Money that was supposed to go to struggling people and small businesses!   You dolts!   You seriously didn’t think people were ever gonna get sick of your bullshit?  Denying systemic racism!   Denying economic inequality!  Denying police brutality!   Denying climate change, for fuck’s sake?!  You know your mansions, your companies, your real estate holdings are located on planet Earth, right?   You dumb fucking morons!

And now, the people are in the streets demanding fundamental, systemic change.   And, like a bunch of mental defectives, instead of being terrified, you are indignant!   You’re shocked at their behavior.   Castigating hard-working police officers!  Pulling down perfectly good statues!  Demanding the resignation of New York Times editors for the “crime” of publishing the words of a sitting U.S. Senator!   Where can fascism get a fair hearing, if not the pages of the Newspaper of Record?!   You idiots still have absolutely no idea what’s going on – do you?

You should be grateful they’re only coming for the statues.   Maybe you should have thought a little more about how the system protected you before you started hacking away the foundations:  denying the possibility of an impartial judiciary, a fair press, an unrigged election, a well-intentioned law, an unbiased civil servant, a non-partisan scientist, an honest meteorologist, for God’s sake!   Maybe, just maybe, before you noodleheads decided on all-out, us-versus-them, Game of Thrones style partisan warfare, you should have considered that there are more of “them” than there are of you.   A lot more!   And that you liked it that way!

But you were just too stupid.

So here you are.   Your last, dumb stand.  Your castle gates defended by a rabble of red-hatted brownshirts, maskless mouth-breathers, and their Dear Leader, Ramp Boy.  And across the moat, hundreds of millions of angry Americans with torches and pitchforks demanding justice, civil rights, economic fairness, environmental sanity.  If you weren’t so colossally ignorant, you’d see that this is the end of the line for your dumb dream of perpetual white supremacy and dynastic wealth.

Because this movement will not be stopped – not by Donald Trump, not by MAGA nation, not even by Joe Biden should he fail to rise to the occasion, until it returns America to the people who truly make it great.   You should hope to God that will happen peacefully, through the miraculously durable and adaptable/amendable structures of American democracy that our Founding Fathers put in place all those years ago to protect the rights and privileges of white guys like you — and that you’ve done so much to undermine.

If it happens like that, you might even come out OK.  Not as rich, and not in charge, but OK.  And if not – well, good luck to you, dumbasses.  You had a good run, and you probably could have kept it going – but you were too impossibly, unbelievably, unfathomably stupid.


Hickenlooper leads Colorado primary rival Romanoff by 30 points: poll ~ The Hill

Hard Times in the Big Easy ~ VANITY FAIR

0620-NOLA-tout-lede.jpgFifteen years ago Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Now a second storm—COVID-19—has swept in, its death toll eclipsing that of the hurricane, and many in the Crescent City fear the virus could leave untold devastation in its wake.


By sheer luck, I missed Mardi Gras this year. My wife, Jane, and I, longtime New Orleans–area residents, were in Mexico, which had yet to get the memo about not hugging your friends or eating in crowded restaurants. Some three weeks later, on March 17, I stepped off a plane, back home, with reason to wonder if I was a walking, talking vector for the coronavirus.

The 7th annual EndymionUS Walking Parade for Kids  Kids at Heart winds its way through the MidCity neighborhood.
The 7th annual Endymion-US Walking Parade “for Kids & Kids at Heart” winds its way through the Mid-City neighborhood .PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM WIDMER/REDUX.
Bourbon Street is packed with a sea of Mardi Gras revelers on the Saturday night before Fat Tuesday.
Bourbon Street is packed with a sea of Mardi Gras revelers on the Saturday night before Fat TuesdayPHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM WIDMER/REDUX.

Mardi Gras, which more than triples the population of New Orleans to 1.4 million, is a late-winter blowout. In the weeks leading up to it, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, so I later learned, had been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control about whether to cancel the whole extravaganza, and no one at the CDC had raised a red flag. As the holiday approached, there were no recorded cases of COVID in Louisiana. The national death toll, later amended, still stood officially at zero. President Donald Trump had yet to tweet about a “Chinese virus” that would “miraculously” disappear with sunny weather. He had yet to insinuate that Fake News was crashing the Dow just to hurt his chances for reelection. He had yet to try distracting the nation from his failures of leadership during the pandemic by tweeting reckless fantasies about turning “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” on protesters decrying the murder of an unarmed Black man by Minneapolis police. Cantrell was and would remain unpersuaded by the president’s groundless insinuations. In early March she issued orders on crowd size and social distancing.

A week later, gatherings larger than 10 were outlawed and table service at restaurants was suspended, a bold move in a city famous for gourmet dining, a linchpin of the local economy. The overarching message: Shelter in place. A public service announcement from retired Lt. General Russel Honoré, one of the few heroes of the otherwise mismanaged federal response to Hurricane Katrina, ended with a stay-home warning to New Orleans worthy of a pissed-off parent. “Don’t make me come back down there again,” Honoré thundered.

Riding in from the airport, we passed the ornamented necropolises of granite and marble visible from the interstate. For all its joie de vivre, the Big Easy has an easygoing relationship with death, all too easygoing you might surmise from our daunting murder rate. The dead live on among us, in a city with a water table so high that caskets rot within months. The necropolises are above-ground crypts where people of sufficient means shelve their dead. And a new testament to our mortality was already being added to the cityscape: refrigerator trucks. Funeral homes and parish morgues and hospitals were overwhelmed by the death toll and needed a place to temporarily stash the corpses, some of them almost certainly casualties of Mardi Gras.

A week later, gatherings larger than 10 were outlawed and table service at restaurants was suspended, a bold move in a city famous for gourmet dining, a linchpin of the local economy. The overarching message: Shelter in place. A public service announcement from retired Lt. General Russel Honoré, one of the few heroes of the otherwise mismanaged federal response to Hurricane Katrina, ended with a stay-home warning to New Orleans worthy of a pissed-off parent. “Don’t make me come back down there again,” Honoré thundered.

Riding in from the airport, we passed the ornamented necropolises of granite and marble visible from the interstate. For all its joie de vivre, the Big Easy has an easygoing relationship with death, all too easygoing you might surmise from our daunting murder rate. The dead live on among us, in a city with a water table so high that caskets rot within months. The necropolises are above-ground crypts where people of sufficient means shelve their dead. And a new testament to our mortality was already being added to the cityscape: refrigerator trucks. Funeral homes and parish morgues and hospitals were overwhelmed by the death toll and needed a place to temporarily stash the corpses, some of them almost certainly casualties of Mardi Gras.

Sophie Lee is the owner of the currently closed club Three Muses on Frenchmen Street.
Sophie Lee is the owner of the currently closed club Three Muses on Frenchmen Street. PHOTOGRAPH BY STACY KRANITZ.

As I arrived on the 17th, there were no paper shamrocks in the gutters along Louisiana Avenue. Cantrell had canceled the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and then sicced the cops on a boozy throng that gathered anyway at an Irish Channel bar. It would not be the last test of the mayor’s resolve. Within a week, some 50 folk assembled on Audubon Street to stage a second line, a New Orleans funerary tradition. Second-liners—sometimes accompanying pallbearers hoisting a coffin—follow a brass band down the street, sidestepping this way and that, waving handkerchiefs and thrusting umbrellas in the air. The police showed up quickly and read second-liners the riot act. The retinue began to disperse. So the cops left. The second line formed again. The cops circled back, and this time they took names. Enthusiasts claimed the event was a constitutionally protected expression of religious belief. The cops had another name for it: violation of an emergency state proclamation banning crowds. Possible penalty: six months in the slammer.

The mayor had made her point. The lockdown was for real.

By mid-April, Sophie Lee was on a roller coaster. She had good days and bad. A jazz vocalist married to a jazz guitarist, she co-owns Three Muses, one of several clubs and restaurants that, before the virus struck, had made Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny, a nexus of New Orleans nightlife. She had enough in the till to feed their two daughters and cover insurance and rent on the shuttered club for a couple of months. But then what? Lee had applied for a small business loan offered through the federal bailout package, and was livid to discover that the kitty—temporarily depleted before she got a dime—had been picked clean by chain restaurants. “How does Ruth’s Chris qualify as a small business?” she demands to know, referring to the national steakhouse chain started decades ago with a lone restaurant in New Orleans.

Beads left behind from the recent Mardi Gras celebration.
Beads left behind from the recent Mardi Gras celebrationPHOTOGRAPH BY STACY KRANITZ.

Lee was voicing an anxiety widespread in New Orleans as spring weather arrived— and President Trump’s miraculous panacea did not. She was already schooled in disaster. Just ahead of Katrina, Lee and her husband had fled the city, taking part in what was, for all its flaws, the largest evacuation in American history. The city’s infrastructure was savaged; parts of New Orleans to this day are scarred. Now, with COVID, there was no evacuation at all, or, put it this way: New Orleanians like Lee retreated indoors and found refuge in their homes. The buildings would still be there when the lockdown eased and it came time to step back outside, reopen shops and restaurants and hotels and colleges. But would a musical city still be alive in anything like its familiar form?

Not a great many New Orleanians were saddened when former Illinois congressman Dennis Hastert was jailed a few years ago in connection with the sexual molestation of young boys. When Katrina hit, Hastert, a Republican, had been Speaker of the House. With New Orleans on its knees, trying to recover, Hastert went public with the view that maybe the City that Care Forgot was itself forgettable. Maybe New Orleans wasn’t worth rebuilding. Oh, sure, the country would still need some vestige of a port near the mouth of the nation’s mightiest river system. But otherwise? Meh. Half of New Orleans is at or below sea level; people were foolish to live there, Hastert opined. What he didn’t need to say publicly was that most of those people were Black and voted Democratic.

The breezy philistinism—Hastert later apologized for it—had a way of concentrating the mind. What reasons were there, really, to save New Orleans?

Edwarrd Johnson surface cleans the French Quarter.
Edwarrd Johnson surface cleans the French Quarter. PHOTOGRAPH BY STACY KRANITZ.

Well, an irreplaceable cityscape, for one. The French Quarter ranks among the most significant historic districts in America, and New Orleans’s architectural treasures are not confined to the Vieux Carré. Then there’s South Louisiana’s cuisine, a national treasure relished around the world thanks to proselytizing chefs the likes of Emeril Lagasse, Susan Spicer, Tory McPhail, and the late Leah Chase, among many others. And, of course, when it comes to nightlife, substance consumption, and the hospitality trade, few destinations match the city’s appeal to conventioneers, tour groups, cruise ship passengers, millennials, and wedding parties thirsting for an unforgettable bacchanal.

The really unique thing about New Orleans, though, is the music. And even before the corona-related death of the patriarchal Ellis Marsalis, in March, it seemed clear that COVID was a mortal threat to it. Not to the sound itself; online access to hi-fi recording holds the promise of eternal life. But to the vibrant culture that engenders and continuously updates it. Jazz is America’s unique gift to world culture, and New Orleans, which gave birth to jazz, is still on its cutting edge. (Even the Saints, the city’s other civic religion, “come marching in,” to a trad jazz anthem.)

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~


America Is Facing 5 Epic Crises All at Once ~ NYT

This is not the time to obsess about symbolism.


Opinion Columnist

Marchers on the Brooklyn Bridge on Juneteenth.
Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times


There are five gigantic changes happening in America right now. The first is that we are losing the fight against Covid-19. Our behavior doesn’t have anything to do with the reality around us. We just got tired so we’re giving up.

Second, all Americans, but especially white Americans, are undergoing a rapid education on the burdens African-Americans carry every day. This education is continuing, but already public opinion is shifting with astonishing speed.

Third, we’re in the middle of a political realignment. The American public is vehemently rejecting Donald Trump’s Republican Party. The most telling sign is that the party has even given up on itself, a personality cult whose cult leader is over.

Fourth, a quasi-religion is seeking control of America’s cultural institutions. The acolytes of this quasi-religion, Social Justice, hew to a simplifying ideology: History is essentially a power struggle between groups, some of which are oppressors and others of which are oppressed. Viewpoints are not explorations of truth; they are weapons that dominant groups use to maintain their place in the power structure. Words can thus be a form of violence that has to be regulated.

Fifth, we could be on the verge of a prolonged economic depression. State and household budgets are in meltdown, some businesses are failing and many others are on the brink, the continuing health emergency will mean economic activity cannot fully resume.

These five changes, each reflecting a huge crisis and hitting all at once, have created a moral, spiritual and emotional disaster. Americans are now less happy than at any time since they started measuring happiness nearly 50 years ago. Americans now express less pride in their nation than at any time since Gallup started measuring it 20 years ago.

Americans look around the world and see that other nations are beating Covid-19 and we are failing. Americans look around and see state-sponsored violence — rhetorical and actual — inflicted on their fellow citizens. America doesn’t seem very exceptional.

In times like this, you’ve got to have a theory of change.

The loudest theory of change is coming from the Social Justice movement. This movement emerged from elite universities, and its basic premise is that if you can change the cultural structures you can change society.

Members of this movement pay intense attention to cultural symbols — to language, statues, the names of buildings. They pay enormous attention to repeating certain slogans, such as “defund the police,” which may or may not have anything to do with policy, and to lifting up symbolic gestures, like kneeling before a football game. It’s a very apt method for change in an age of social media because it’s very performative.

The Social Justice activists focus on the cultural levers of power. Their most talked about action is canceling people. Some person, usually mildly progressive, will say something politically “problematic” and his or her job will be terminated. In this way new boundaries are established for what has to be said and what cannot be said.

The Social Justice activists sometimes claim that if you don’t like their tactics then you are not fighting for racial equity or economic justice or whatever. But those movements all existed long before Social Justice affixed itself to them and tried to change their methods.

The core problem is that the Social Justice theory of change doesn’t produce much actual change. Corporations are happy to adopt some woke symbols and hold a few consciousness-raising seminars and go on their merry way. Worse, this method has no theory of politics.

How exactly is all this cultural agitation going to lead to legislation that will decrease income disparities, create better housing policies or tackle the big challenges that I listed above? That part is never spelled out. In fact, the Sturm und Drang makes political work harder. You can’t purify your way to a governing majority.

The Social Justice methodology is ultimately not a solution to our problem, it’s a symptom of our problem. Over the last half century, we’ve turned politics from a practical way to solve common problems into a cultural arena to display resentments. Donald Trump is the ultimate performer in this paralyzed arena.

If you think the interplay of these five gigantic changes is going to fit into some neat ideological narrative, you’re probably wrong. If you think we can deal with a racial disparity, reform militaristic police departments and address an existential health crisis and a prolonged economic depression by taking the culture war up another notch, I think you’re mistaken.

Dealing with these problems is going to take government. It’s going to take actual lawmaking, actual budgeting, complex compromises — all the boring, dogged work of government that is more C-SPAN than Instagram.

I know a lot of people aren’t excited about him, but I thank God that Joe Biden is going to be nominated by the Democratic Party. He came to public life when it wasn’t about performing your zeal, it was about crafting coalitions and legislating. He exudes a spirit that is about empathy and friendship not animosity and canceling. The pragmatic spirit of the New Deal is a more apt guide for the years ahead than the spirit of critical theory symbology.

Weather company using tiny satellites inks deals with NASA, top European agencies to improve forecasts ~ The Washington Post

Private-sector satellite companies are increasingly seen as players in weather forecasting

Delta Air Lines passenger planes are parked during the coronavirus pandemic at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Ala., on March 25. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

June 26 at 5:08 PM

When the novel coronavirus pandemic grounded a large portion of air traffic worldwide in March and April, Peter Platzer saw an opportunity. The Luxembourg-based CEO of the satellite firm Spire Global offered up his company’s weather data free to some of the top weather forecasting centers around the world.

With thousands of flights grounded, weather forecasters were sounding alarm bells about lost data that could harm forecast accuracy. Sensors aboard commercial aircraft gather data that augments information from the weather balloon network at observation sites around the world.

Depriving computer models of the aircraft data threatened to erode forecast accuracy for all the major models in use, from the vaunted European model to the main U.S. model, known as the Global Forecast System, or GFS.

Spire, which has 88 tiny satellites, each the size of a loaf of bread, in low Earth orbit, gathers what’s known as radio occultation data, which can be used to develop profiles of moisture and other properties of the atmosphere. To help plug any aircraft-related holes in data gathering, the company offered its data free to the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the United Kingdom Met Office.

So far, it would seem those agencies are pleased by the proof of concept, although it’s not clear the data has been a game-changer for them. In a statement, John Eyre, a fellow at the Met Office, said radio occultation data helps improve weather forecast accuracy in general.

“We have used RO data from other satellites for many years, and we know their value for improving our weather forecasts. The offer of data from Spire is very welcome. It will make a valuable contribution to mitigating the loss of other weather observations during the COVID-19 period,” Eyre said, referencing the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Spire’s satellites, which it has named LEMURs, for low-Earth multiuse receivers, also collect maritime and aircraft tracking information, providing the company with another source of revenue.

Radio occultation can be thought of as akin to a space-based scan of the atmosphere, and it allows meteorologists to gain observations of atmospheric temperature and moisture using a satellite receiver that measures signals sent by GPS and other navigation satellite systems.

The signal between the two satellites gets refracted, and information about the temperature and water vapor content of the atmosphere can be gleaned from the magnitude of this refraction.

NASA deal marks a key step for Spire, and for similar companies

A plume of dust from the Sahara Desert approaches the United States from the Caribbean in an image from the NOAA GOES-East satellite on June 24. (Cira/Noaa/Reuters)

Now the company, which has raised $150 million in five funding rounds, has taken another step that puts it ahead of some competitors in the race to supplement weather data gathered by far larger and more expensive government-procured satellites. The company inked a one-year, $7 million deal with NASA to provide it with radio occultation data, which will be available to agency scientists for use in their Earth-observing missions.

Trump Gets Trumpier Under Stress ~ The Atlantic

An illustration of Donald Trump with cartoon character eyes.

If Donald Trump loses reelection, it will be because the country changed and he did not. Over the past several months, the United States has witnessed a once-in-a-century pandemic, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, and some of the largest protests since the 1960s. Public opinion has swung hard in favor of scientific expertise, a functioning welfare state, and greater racial justice. Yet Donald Trump has responded by becoming an even more cartoonish version of himself.

On Tuesday in The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin puzzled over Trump’s refusal to adapt to the moment. In the face of polling showing that a majority of “somewhat conservative” voters approve of the Black Lives Matter movement, the two Times journalists wrote, Trump has become even more “inflammatory on race.” They added, “No matter how much his advisers and lawmakers nudge him to project unity and bigness, he keeps bingeing on the political equivalent of comfort food.” In trying to explain Trump’s behavior, Haberman and Martin rhetorically throw up their hands. “As political strategy goes,” they write, “it’s confounding.”

As political strategy, perhaps, but not as human psychology. Everything that the public knows about Trump suggests that the prospect of being humiliated by events outside his control is causing him enormous stress. And everything that scientists know about stress suggests that it leads people to fall back into old habits. Stress makes it hard for people to change, even when they need to most.

Scientifically measuring Donald Trump’s stress level is impossible. As Peter Sokol-Hessner, an assistant professor of cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Denver, explained to me, researchers generally induce stress in subjects either by dunking their arm in cold water or making them give a speech on short notice, and then monitoring the way their hormones respond. As far as we know, no one has performed those tests on Trump. But, from afar, people who study stress have made informed guesses about what provokes it in the president.

During the 2016 presidential debates, a company called Sharecare used data algorithms to gauge when each candidate’s voice seemed to manifest the greatest stress. Trump, noted Jayne O’Donnell in a USA Today story about Sharecare’s findings, exhibited low levels of stress when making personal attacks on other candidates and higher levels when discussing the substance of public policy. (By way of comparison, Hillary Clinton showed the opposite pattern.) Sharecare is a for-profit health-care company, not an academic institution. So its findings merit some caution. But two psychologists whom I interviewed came to similar conclusions. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist and violence expert at the Yale School of Medicine and the editor of the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, told me, “On the debate stage, Trump is in his element when he can be not a debater but a fighter. His goal is twofold: to divert away from rational discussions on public-policy issues, which he cannot do, and to attack his opponents viciously and viscerally, since his idea of being a winner is to make a kill.” Melanie Greenberg, the author of The Stress-Proof Brain, suggested that when Trump is “actively doing something to stay in control, he feels a sense of mastery, that he’s stronger than the other person.” By contrast, she said, “it’s hard for him to tolerate not being in control.”

Given this analysis, the pandemic, the recession, and the protests are exactly the kinds of phenomena likely to drive up Trump’s stress level. Little evidence indicates that seeing others suffer particularly bothers Trump. But he is deeply fearful of being judged a loser, and each of the crises he faces could prove potent enough to help bring about his defeat. What’s more, a pandemic or a recession can’t be deflated with insults in the way a political opponent can. As early as last summer, former Trump advisers told The New York Times that the prospect of the economy turning south was making Trump crazy. Last month, Vanity Fair reported that Trump was growing infuriated by his declining poll numbers—and even threatening to sue his campaign manager—because, as one former West Wing official put it, “he is trying to control the narrative and he can’t.”

For months now, observers, including Trump’s own advisers, have suggested that the best way for him to shape public attitudes to his advantage would be through a combination of sound policy, and openhearted, we’re-all-in-this-together empathy—the kind of response that has boosted the political fortunes of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

But that would require fundamentally changing Trump’s normal mode of operation. And research suggests that the more stressed someone is, the harder that sort of recalibration becomes. “What acute stress does,” Sokol-Hessner told me, “is it shifts you away from more complex ways of evaluating your options into habitual shortcuts.” Stress affects people’s capacity to “take into account new information.” It leads them to revert to familiar behaviors even as evidence mounts that those familiar behaviors are not serving them well.

That’s what Trump has done in recent months. He’s employed racist language to blame the pandemic on China, he’s threatened force against protesters, and he’s doubled down on his defense of Confederate statues. Again and again—through attacks on Barack Obama, Joe Biden, the head of the World Health Organization, and various journalists and local officials—he’s tried to turn the coronavirus, the recession, and the protests into the kind of personalized conflicts in which he feels most comfortable. In retrospect, his decision to hold daily press conferences in the early days of the pandemic can be understood not merely as the result of narcissism but as an attempt to set up the ad hominem showdowns—in this case with reporters—that he vastly prefers over substantive policy making. He has also demanded more presidential debates. As Haberman and Martin report, Trump is “answering to his own instincts.”

But this approach is backfiring. As national events have damaged Trump politically, he has responded to the increased stress by becoming an even more extreme version of himself, which has convinced even more Americans that he’s not the right man for this moment. It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s likely to continue until Election Day, if not longer.

Trump administration wants drilling on more than two-thirds of the largest swath of U.S. public land ~ The Washington Post

A bear looks after her three cubs in North Slope Borough, Alaska, between Nuiqsut and Teshekpuk Lake, where the Trump administration is proposing to open the land to oil and gas drilling. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Young turk gives venerable Mountain Gazette a second life ~ The Colorado Sun

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Mike Moore launched the Mountain Gazette in 1966 as the Skier’s Gazette and changed its name in 1972. The influential magazine closed for 20 years before it was revived by M. John Fayhee in 2000. It closed again in 2012 and is now targeted for a second resurrection by Mike Rogge. (Provided by Mike Rogge)

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Young turk gives venerable Mountain Gazette a second life


The legendarily irreverent magazine that featured the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, George Sibley and Edward Abbey was purchased by a young entrepreneur eager to revive the title that has been dormant since 2012.