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Why cruises float the boats of the Instagram generation

Millennials become the biggest market for luxury liners as they share holiday moments using onboard wifi

When Emma Le Teace, 25, tried to get her boyfriend to go on a cruise with her, he didn’t want to go. She booked it regardless – and he loved it. “I think he’s been on five now.”

She has been on 21 cruises, and is planning three more this year. “I love visiting new places and, with a cruise, you know your view is going to be completely different each morning when you wake up. A kind of excitement builds up as you get closer to a new destination.”

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Inside the minds of the Yankees’ now and future AL East rival
This 2020 Major League Baseball season, should it actually launch, will feature fewer games, less travel and quite possibly zero fans. More Yankees-Rays games, tho (as the kids spell it). Or at least a higher percentage of them. That would be good for baseball and, at best from a Bronx perspective, challenging for the Yankees....
nypost.com
German club plans mass virus testing to fill stadium again
German soccer club Union Berlin is offering free coronavirus tests for more than 20,000 fans as part of a plan to hold games in a full stadium in September.
foxnews.com
Mazars Is a Victory for Rule of Law
The Supreme Court knows how to go out with a bang. On Thursday, the justices closed the (virtual) courthouse doors for the summer after finally releasing two long-awaited rulings on President Trump’s efforts to block the release of his financial information to prosecutors and Congress. The Court took its time in handing down the decisions, thanks in part to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the drama and importance of the opinions themselves measured up to the frenzy of speculation that preceded them.The litigation over whether or not the president can prevent the release of his records is significant at multiple levels. On one level, the cases spoke immediately to Trump’s electoral fortunes: Would the House of Representatives be able to obtain these documents in enough time to inform the public of the president’s hidden financial dealings before the November election? The Supreme Court’s Thursday rulings mean the answer is almost certainly no.But on another level, Trump’s efforts threw into question the balance of power between Congress and the president and suggested a vision of the presidency largely unaccountable to criminal law. The Court decisively rejected this vision—and though much else about the opinions remains muddled, this, at least, is a victory for the rule of law.[Adam Serwer: The Roberts court completes Trump’s cover-up]The cases began roughly a year ago, when the House subpoenaed financial records concerning Trump and his businesses from two banks—Deutsche Bank and Capital One—and Trump’s personal accounting firm, Mazars. Separately, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance sought records from Mazars in the course of a New York state criminal investigation. Trump stepped in to bar the institutions from handing over the material, arguing—with regard to Congress—that the legislature had failed to voice an appropriate rationale for its request, and—with regard to Vance—that Trump’s high office shields him from state-level investigations for as long as he remains president.Compared with Trump v. Mazars, Trump v. Vance both received less attention in the run-up to the decisions and proved to be the easier case for the Court to untangle. As to Trump’s claim to what his legal team once characterized as “temporary absolute presidential immunity,” the Supreme Court’s answer was simple: No. All nine justices agreed that a total shield from state criminal process was out of the question. This is a thrashing for Trump, but it’s also a reflection of how absurd the president’s assertion of immunity was to begin with. Even the Justice Department, which chimed in during oral arguments as a “friend of the court” in support of Trump’s personal legal team, didn’t endorse this aspect of the president’s argument.Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented on other aspects of the case, so the nine-justice unanimity was not complete. But in an era when contentious issues often split the justices five to four, the seven-to-two ruling registers as an overwhelming rebuke to Trump—especially given that both of Trump’s appointees to the Court, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, voted against the president.Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in both Vance and Mazars, and to some extent he seems to have tried to knit the two together as a matching set: The majority opinion in Mazars is studded with references to Vance, and the lengthy yarn about Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson that opens Vance pops up in Mazars as well. And the same six justices ruled with Roberts in both cases. But the Court’s decision in Mazars is a more complicated story. As scholars and analysts puzzled through the ruling over the course of the day, nobody seemed to be able to agree whether Congress had won or lost.[David Frum: Trump is losing credit where he may soon need it most]The majority steered away from Trump’s argument that Congress must clear a consistently high bar in order to subpoena information relating to the president, whether the material is protected by executive privilege—as were the Watergate tapes in United States v. Nixon—or not, as in this case. This would have been an enormous blow to Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of the executive branch. But the chief justice also declined to embrace the House’s view of broad congressional investigative authority with little constraint from the courts, worrying that this would place “essentially no limits” on Congress’s power. The majority instead suggested that courts weighing these cases should pay greater attention to the balance of power between Congress and the presidency, encouraging the legislature to provide judges with more evidence that the subpoenas are sufficiently focused and relevant to congressional work.All of this sounds reasonable enough. Yet there is a great deal of precedent establishing Congress’s authority to investigate as extraordinarily broad—so much so that every single lower court that considered the subpoenas at issue in Mazars came down in favor of Congress before the case slammed into a wall at the Supreme Court. From one one point of view, the high court’s ruling suggests a road map for how legislators might craft subpoenas that will withstand judicial scrutiny. From another, though, it’s both constraining and condescending. Mazars “basically tells Congress that it needs to do homework in just the precise way that the Court wants it to, or it can’t oversee the president,” Josh Chafetz, a law professor and scholar of Congress, told me. “This is both wildly pro-presidential and dismissively anti-Congress.”In both Vance and Mazars, the Supreme Court passed the cases back down to the lower courts to reconsider in light of Thursday’s rulings. It’s not quite clear what will happen next, or on what timeline. The Manhattan district attorney may well obtain the financial documents from Mazars sooner rather than later, but laws protecting grand-jury secrecy mean that the public likely will not learn the contents soon. Meanwhile, as both David Graham and David Frum have noted, the plodding pace of litigation means that courts are unlikely to hand Trump’s records over to Congress before the November election. So whatever may be hiding in those documents, voters will not have the benefit of knowing about it before they fill out their ballots.On the other hand, how many swing voters are really out there for whom the contents of Trump’s financial records would have been the deciding factor in their vote for president? Trump survived the Russia investigation and impeachment with his political fortunes more or less intact; it took his catastrophic bungling of a pandemic and his hostility toward Black Americans protesting against police violence for his poll numbers to drop. It’s hard to imagine what could be in those documents that would be more of an indictment of Trump’s fitness for the presidency than his presiding over the deaths of 130,000 Americans.[Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes: Trump is campaigning on a platform of abject failure]The more significant effect of Mazars and Vance was always going to be on the level of institutions rather than individuals—the positioning of the presidency in relation to Congress and state law enforcement, rather than Trump in relation to the coming election. In the words of my colleague Margaret Taylor, who writes about Congress, the decision could have been a “bloodbath for congressional power.” It wasn’t, but whether and how the ruling might reshape the relationship between Congress and the presidency, for better or worse, is an open question—one that might be answered in the months and even years to come as Congress regroups following the Court’s decision. Perhaps the legislature will be more successful in litigation once it hones its requests for information along the lines of the Court’s suggestions. Or perhaps, as the Mazars majority seemingly encouraged, the legislature will be spurred to work out a renewed process of cooperation and negotiation with the executive branch outside the space of the courts.As enthusiastic as the chief justice seemed about the latter possibility, though, it’s hard to imagine that Congress will find a willing negotiating partner in the current president, who once announced that his administration was “fighting all the subpoenas.” The long-term effects of Mazars for relations between the political branches may look very different depending on who wins the November election.Yet despite these broader institutional questions, Trump appears incapable of understanding the rulings in any context other than the purely personal. “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” he tweeted in the hours before the Supreme Court released the opinions. And then, after the decisions came down: “Courts in the past have given ‘broad deference.’ BUT NOT ME!” There is one line in Roberts’s opinion in Mazars, at least, that Trump should be able to wholeheartedly endorse: “There is not always a clear line,” Roberts wrote, “between [the president’s] personal and official affairs.”
theatlantic.com
Pac-12 joins Big Ten in eliminating nonconference games
The Pac-12 has become the second major conference to shift to a conference-only fall schedule amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
foxnews.com
Top writer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson resigns
The top writer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson has for years been using a pseudonym to post bigoted remarks on an online forum that is a hotbed for racist, sexist and other offensive content, CNN Business learned this week.
edition.cnn.com
Knicks’ new leadership team gets crash course in ‘Spurs Way’
If this extended coaching search Knicks president Leon Rose and William Wesley have embarked on still leads to Tom Thibodeau being hired, the rest of the interviews won’t have been a waste of Zoom time. At least Rose and Wesley, who have never worked for an NBA team, got a crash course in “The Spurs...
nypost.com
Statue to tennis star Arthur Ashe to stay put in Richmond
On Richmond's Monument Avenue, the collection of towering statues honoring Confederate veterans was interrupted by one noticeably different: a monument to Black tennis legend and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe.
foxnews.com
White Sox top pitching prospect Kopech opts out this year
Chicago White Sox prized pitching prospect Michael Kopech chose Friday not to play this season and the team put star third baseman Yoán Moncada and pitcher Jose Ruiz on the 10-day injured list because of unspecified ailments.
foxnews.com
She was competing before Simone Biles was born. Now they compete against each other
At age 45, Oksana Chusovitina is the oldest gymnast ever to compete in the Olympic Games. She has two Olympic medals, nine world medals and a ticket to compete in her eighth Olympic Games.
edition.cnn.com
Madrid beats Alavés 2-0 for 8th straight win in title march
Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid move one step closer to dethroning Lionel Messi’s Barcelona on Friday.
foxnews.com
No high-fives? No spitting? MLBers adjust in COVID world
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez wanted to hug, high-five and fist bump his players. After all, the defending World Series champions spent nearly four months apart before resuming workouts last week.
foxnews.com
Wimbledon to allocate prize money despite cancellation
Wimbledon will pay out $12.5 million in prize money to 620 players despite the tournament's cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic, the All England Club said Friday.
foxnews.com
This 45-year-old gymnast is set to compete in her 8th Olympics
Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina is revered as a gymnastics icon for setting the world record as the oldest gymnast to compete in the Olympics. CNN's Don Riddell reports on her legacy as she trains for her 8th Olympics in Tokyo.
edition.cnn.com
Instagram and Facebook ban all content promoting conversion therapy
Instagram will ban any content that promotes conversion therapy, the tech company told CNN on Friday, after campaigners called on the platform to block providers from advertising their services online.
edition.cnn.com
Leonard Williams, Saquon Barkley and Sam Beal facing big expectations
Part 5 in a five-part series — a Giants trio of note. The heat of the summer is not the only heat applied to players scheduled to assemble for the start of Giants training camp later this month. For some, there is heat to show they are worth the money. For others, the heat is...
nypost.com
Trump confirms he OK’d US cyberattack against Russia in 2018: report
President Trump acknowledged this week that in 2018 he authorized a covert U.S. cyberattack against a Russian “troll farm,” according to a report.
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foxnews.com
Opinion: Is it too much to ask police to enforce L.A.'s fireworks ban? Readers fume
Readers have been complaining, as they often do, about fireworks. This year, they're especially troubled by lack of enforcement.
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latimes.com
Column: In Peter Beinart's latest article, a liberal Jew rejects the two-state solution
Once again, liberals are jolted by a rejection of the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
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latimes.com
'Republicans are really fed up': GOP increasingly splits with Trump as his polls drag
Weeks before Trump accepts his party's nomination, cracks are deepening among Republican lawmakers, who have sought to distance themselves from him.        
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usatoday.com
Inside an Arizona hospital battling a global COVID-19 hot spot: Exhausted staff, not enough beds and a silent fight
As COVID-19 brutalizes Arizona, a look inside Tucson Medical Center provides a snapshot of what hospitals in the state are experiencing.       
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usatoday.com
'Say Yes to the Dress' star Lori Allen: How to 'say yes' to what's next amid uncertainty
COVID-19 barreled into our world and turned it upside down, forcing all of us to pivot.
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foxnews.com
Letters to the Editor: A PPP loan for Jelly Belly? Here's how real small businesses are suffering
If companies like Jelly Belly are getting loans intended for small companies, the federal government needs to change its definition of "small business."
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latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: Michael Drake is the UC president California needs right now
The UC president-elect brings a strong record of leadership and was a champion of racial equity as UC Irvine's chancellor.
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latimes.com
Farmers' milk prices rising, easing dairy farm losses, but for how long?
Boosted by government purchases of dairy products and the reopening of restaurants, farm milk prices have been rising.       
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usatoday.com
Despite local and national calls to defund police, Louisville didn't. Here's why.
Louisville, in the national spotlight after the death of Breonna Taylor, declined to shift funding from its police department.        
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usatoday.com
Letters to the Editor: What white people are finally starting to understand about antiracism
Many people of privilege are beginning to see the cause of justice for Black people as a way to create a fairer society for everyone.
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latimes.com
2020 Hyundai Venue SUV packs features and value into small package
The Venue is an outstanding value that belongs on the shopping list of parents looking for max quality and safety.       
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usatoday.com
Dear Care and Feeding: My Stepdaughter Wants to Live With Us Now. How Should She Tell Her Mom?
Parenting advice on home changes, adoption names, and angry mothers.
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slate.com
China’s Xinjiang Policy: Less About Births, More About Control
For years, when I was giving talks or discussing my reporting on China’s one-child policy, well-meaning audience members would inevitably ask a question that I had come to expect: “Of course forced abortions and sterilizations are bad,” they would say, “but isn’t the one-child policy good, in some ways? Doesn’t it help lift millions of people out of poverty?”This has always been the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative. The one-child policy, it claimed, was a difficult but necessary move that was crucial for the country’s advancement. Deng Xiaoping, then China’s paramount leader, insisted in 1979 that without a drastic fall in birth rates, “we will not be able to develop our economy and raise the living standards of our people.”Recent reports from the Associated Press and the noted Xinjiang scholar Adrian Zenz about forced sterilizations imposed on China’s repressed Uighur minority should quash this lingering, pernicious fig leaf. If the one-child policy was designed to boost economic growth and benefit citizens, why is Beijing actively suppressing reproduction among Uighurs—who are Chinese citizens—when the country’s birth rate has plunged to its lowest in 70 years, imperiling future growth? Why is the party telling Han Chinese to have more children, even as it sterilizes more Uighur women than the population of Hoboken, New Jersey?The answer, of course, is that China’s birth-control policies have always been less about births, and more about control. Those who drafted the one-child policy were cynically more concerned with the preservation of power than helping lift people out of poverty. That’s why China’s leaders long resisted calls to end the policy, even though economists had persistently warned that it was shrinking China’s workforce, diminishing productivity, and storing up a future problem in pension shortfalls. The alternative would’ve meant giving up a powerful tool for social control (as well as one that reliably generated at least $3 billion annually in fines for violations, by Beijing’s own admission).[Read: Don’t believe the China hype]I know this because I covered China’s economic miracle as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and spent years researching and writing an award-winning book examining the costs and consequences of the world’s most radical social experiment, which began in 1980 and tapered in 2016, when Beijing increased the number of children a family could have to two. In my quest to understand how the state policed the womb, I heard many chilling stories: I spoke with women forced to have abortions as late in their pregnancy as seven months; officials who described how they cornered and chased pregnant women like prey, and mothers who recounted heartbreaking acts of abandonment and infanticide. The bulk of these stories, though not all, involved the country’s majority Han population, who were subject to more stringent restrictions than China’s ethnic minorities, including its Uighur population.Now the scales have tipped. What’s happening in Xinjiang is astonishing. According to Zenz, two counties in the province targeted the sterilization of 14 and 34 percent of women of childbearing age, respectively, in a single year. Per capita, that represents more sterilizations than China performed in the past two decades. Uighur women who had been held in internment camps have recounted being given injections that altered or halted their menstrual cycles. Several media outlets have also reported that Uighur women were forcibly fitted with contraceptive devices. In 2018, a stunning 80 percent of all newly placed IUDs in China were fitted in Xinjiang, even though the region makes up only 1.8 percent of the country’s population, according to Zenz’s findings, which are based on an analysis of official Chinese documents.Genocide is an ugly word—but it should be applied to what’s happening in Xinjiang, which has been the target of more and more repressive policies following deadly riots in the region in 2009. Since then, Beijing has been on a campaign to eradicate Uighur culture, forcing an estimated 1 million Uighur Muslims into “reeducation” internment camps, razing mosques, subjecting residents to Orwellian-style surveillance, and separating Uighur children from their parents.Eugenics is another ugly word. Both it and genocide revolve around the repugnant idea that some groups of the human race should be wiped out, or bred out. Eugenics was an underpinning of the one-child policy that many of its admirers chose to overlook. A common slogan for the policy was its stated intent to “Raise quality, reduce quantity.” In 1988, Gansu province in northwest China prohibited the “reproduction of the dull-witted, idiots or blockheads.” In 1995, China passed the National Maternal and Infant Health Law, forbidding people with “genetic disease of a serious nature” to procreate. (These conditions included mental disability and seizures.)[Read: How China sees the world]Yet the United Nations in 1983 still chose to award China a gold medal for its population policies. In 2014, The Economist ranked the one-child policy as one of the most important stratagems that slowed global warming—more effective than preserving the Brazilian rain forest—even though the magazine acknowledged that this was “something of a cheat” because Beijing had not created the policy with climate protection in mind. (It also based its assessment on Beijing’s own projection that the one-child policy had reduced births by 300 million, a number that has been disputed by prominent demographers, such as Wang Feng, who say these projections failed to account for global trends in declining fertility.) “It is very easy to criticize the one-child policy: it was surely stern medicine and its application was unnecessarily severe,” the Israeli environmentalist Alon Tal wrote in 2015, before pivoting to the conclusion that “it is well to remember how lucky China is today that the policy was adopted.”Imagine if eminent scholars today argued that the Holocaust had some good points, such as boosting manufacturing, or that American slavery, despite all its evils, made a positive contribution to the Deep South’s economic engine. There are some places where moral outrage should triumph materialism. Instead of saying, “Yes, they violated human rights, but … ,” sometimes we just need to say “They violated human rights.” Egregiously. Appallingly. Full stop.The one-child policy has resulted in a hugely imbalanced population that is too male, too old, and too few. It has so tilted gender and age imbalances that in a little under a decade, there will be more Chinese bachelors than Australians, more Chinese retirees than people in Western Europe. China’s pension shortfall has reached $540 billion, according to China’s Academy of Social Science. Middle-class Han Chinese women now say the national two-child policy and its attendant propaganda put additional stress on them to replenish a shrinking labor force, and have led to a surge in workplace discrimination. The dearth of women in China’s countryside has resulted in a boom in sexual slavery and trafficking, affecting not just Chinese women, but women from Cambodia, Myanmar, North Korea, and Pakistan.[Read: Hong Kong is a colony once more]Beijing’s early response to this demographic decline is still more stick than carrot—social shaming, curbs on divorce and abortion, state-sponsored workshops to encourage female subservience, and more talk of fines, this time for not having children. Even polyandry has been suggested. There are fears that China’s still-evolving social-credit system could be used to control for the one-child policy’s negative social effects, shoring up declining army enlistment rates from China’s so-called pampered cohort of Little Emperor singletons, for example. What next? Points for having more kids, demerits for staying single? This scenario might seem like one out of Black Mirror, but it cannot be discounted, given China’s historically extreme measures to control reproduction.The sad truth is that the harsh strictures of the one-child policy were unnecessary for economic prosperity. In fact, China’s remarkable growth and poverty eradication had more to do with deregulating state-owned enterprises than regulating birth control. Many other countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand, managed to slow population growth and prosper in the same period as China—without putting their people through such generational trauma. Even China itself proved it could limit population growth with a less repressive regime: A full 10 years before the one-child policy’s onset, the country’s “Later, Longer, Fewer” campaign encouraged couples to get married when they were older. It was a stunning success in curbing China’s soaring population numbers. In that decade, families in China went from having six children, on average, to three. Many experts maintain that China could have kept that course and still enjoyed healthy economic growth.Indeed, the evidence is clear: We can curb population growth without endorsing anything as brutal as the one-child policy, or its more vicious cousin, the genocide in Xinjiang.
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theatlantic.com
Christopher Buckley on Satire in the Age of Trump
In 1999, when Donald Trump was first toying with the idea of giving his countrymen the honor of voting for him for president, the notion was so absurd that Christopher Buckley took to The Wall Street Journal to publish his rendition of a Trump inaugural address. “My fellow Americans,” Buckley’s Trump began, “this is a great day for me personally.”Twenty years later, Buckley remains the master satirist of Washington life. To be sure, it’s not the most crowded or competitive professional category in the world, but he has again cemented his position at its apex with the publication of Make Russia Great Again. In his 19th book, Buckley takes on a subject that would seem beyond satire—indeed, would itself seem a manifestation of some wild, dark satiric impulse: the Trump presidency. Buckley and I talked about Trump, the book, the Republican Party, and much else in a conversation last week. The transcript has been edited for clarity and length.Andrew Ferguson: I guess my first question is: How did you work up the nerve? You’re satirizing a moment that seems to be unsatirizable. A couple of years ago, you said you’d stop writing satire because contemporary politics in America had become “sufficiently self-satirizing” and no longer required your help. Yet here you are, taking it on.Christopher Buckley: I suppose the answer is desperation. I did retire the mantle of satire some years ago. Which reminds me of one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons, which is Washington-based. It shows a secretary approaching a congressman’s desk, around which is sitting the congressman and a number of his aides. She’s walking in holding what looks like a folded cloth in her hands. And the caption is “No, no, Miss Clark! I asked you to bring in the Mantle of Greatness, not the Cloak of Secrecy.”So I retired the cloak of satire, and I turned to historical fiction, which I had a jolly fun time doing. I wrote two [books]: One is called The Relic Master, which is set in 1517 and the Holy Roman Empire, and the other is called The Judge Hunter, which is set in 1664 New England.Ferguson: Both of those had satirical elements to them.Buckley: Yeah. I was sort of pleased when one of the reviewers of The Relic Master said it was a cross between The Princess Bride and Oceans 11, which may be the first and only time those two paragons have been so yoked. They did okay, but they didn’t knock, you know, Hilary Mantel off the mantelpiece. They didn’t seem to be what my audience—to the extent I have an audience—wanted. But people kept asking me, “Hey, you do satire, why aren’t you writing about this?” And to them, I said, why bother?In the end, I think I tend to respond to what you might call the muse of annoyance. I finally got tired of hearing people say, “What does Putin have on Trump anyway?” And I also was continually wondering why we weren’t retaliating against Russia.Why aren’t we interfering in their elections? Although it’s pretty hard to interfere. I mean, if you put all the organs of U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence to work, they’d probably succeed in reducing Putin’s plurality from 97.6 to 94.2 percent.So I came up with this notion that’s frankly borrowed from the greatest satire ever done, namely Dr. Strangelove. Deep in the bowels of Fort Meade, at the national-security agency, is a doomsday device, code-named Placid Reflux. When Russia interferes in one of our elections, if there’s no counteraction to that, if the United States doesn’t retaliate, this machine will assume that the president has been decapitated, and will automatically respond. And in this case, Placid Reflux elects the head of the Russian Communist Party as Russian president. So that’s the kickoff.[Timothy Kudo: Our complacent commander in chief]Ferguson: You do finally reveal what Vladimir Putin has on Trump. I don’t want to give the game away.Buckley: No, no, we mustn’t deprive the many avid readers who are at this moment logging on to Amazon to purchase the book in bulk orders.How many times have we heard this plangent cry: What does Putin have on this guy? Most recently there’s the story in The New York Times saying that Putin was offering the Taliban bounties to kill U.S. soldiers. And all we hear from our commander in chief is “This is just another hoax!” And so, once again, the plangent cry is raised: For God’s sake, what does Putin have on him?So I decided to come up with my own thought on what it is.Ferguson: Well, it actually kind of parallels what a lot of people have been thinking. And it’s only two or three clicks beyond the worst you can think of Donald Trump. It’s not completely out of the realm of plausibility.Buckley: Actually, it’s a little more innocent than the realities we’re being forced to confront. One reality is—and this doesn’t have anything to do with Putin—when the final COVID death tally is tabulated, there will be some mathematical revelation of how many lives were forfeit because of his inaction and dithering and utter indifference.This most recent Putin bounty scenario—it’s hard to imagine one more loathsome. Now, we don’t know if it’s actually true. I will give Mr. Trump the, you know, I will afford him the … [sigh] Will I really? A presumption of innocence?Ferguson: I was wondering where you were going with this.Buckley: Anyway, my scenario is rather more playful. It has to do in fact with the 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow. I was quite attracted to that as an occasion of sin.Ferguson: Trump was quite attracted to it too, obviously.Buckley: Yes, he was! He kept referring to it as the greatest Miss Universe contest ever. I thought, Hmm, well, why would he think that? What made it so great? Let’s just imagine.[Read: Putin is well on his way to stealing the next election]Ferguson: One thing I thought of while I was reading this book: There is a school of thought abroad in the land that Trump can’t really be made fun of, because he’s such a disaster. I’ve seen this firsthand. For some people, he’s like a big Hoover vacuum cleaner that just sucks up people’s sense of humor. If you try to make light of this really sort of ridiculous man, the response is: “That’s not funny! How dare you!” Did you think about that at all?Buckley: I did. What you say reminds me a little bit of what, in a different context, Samuel Foote once said of someone—that he was not only dull but the cause of dullness in others.There’s power in ridicule as a countermeasure. There was a movie recently, and a very fine one, called Jojo Rabbit. It’s the work of a talented director [Taika Waititi]. And in that, he manages to make Hitler a comic character—I emphasize: up to a certain point. Or look at another fairly recent film, which I thought was incredibly deft and wonderfully done: Death of Stalin. Imagine if I’d said to you, “I’ve got this idea for a comedy. You want to hear the title? The Death of Stalin!” You might logically assume I’d been overserved at lunch with martinis. And yet it’s an incredibly brilliant film about an ultimately uncomic occurrence.I think Trump is fair game for ridicule. Why do I think this? Because it drives him nuts. After one of the Saturday Night Live episodes, in which he’s portrayed quite brilliantly by Alec Baldwin, he tweeted that this ought not to be allowed. So the president of the United States is up tweeting at two o’clock on a Sunday morning, demanding that the FCC make Saturday Night Live illegal. You know you’re batting a thousand when you’re annoying the president of the United States that way.And thank heavens this is the United States. You can’t do this in Hong Kong anymore. You can’t do this in Russia. I’m guessing we still can do it here—although if Mr. Trump had his way, you and I would be having this conversation in Cell Block B at Rikers Island.The thing is, it’s not particularly funny, what’s happening. It’s ghastly. But does that mean we shouldn’t ridicule it? I’m not so sure. If nothing else, laughter is the best revenge.Ferguson: It’s interesting—that late-night tweet about Baldwin is a perfect example. I’m always astonished to consider that the president isn’t a drinker. He’s up at four in the morning tweeting strange and incomprehensible things, giving answers 12 and 14 minutes long at his own press conferences, repeating himself. He behaves like one of the worst drunks you could ever imagine.Buckley: I think they call it a “dry drunk” at AA. I’ve only heard this, mind you, from other people.There will be many psychological biographies written about this guy. At one level, I don’t think he’s that complicated. I think he’s a malignant narcissist who is ignorant and defiant and amoral. I don’t think I can imagine this guy shedding a tear over anything. To the extent he rises to the level of tragic hero—and I’m not sure he does—it would be only in the sense of the majesty of his self-involvement. One gropes for other historical or literary comparisons.I have to force myself to watch things like the Tulsa rally for forensic reasons. Was it only last Saturday? It seems like several years ago. He began in on the ramp rant—about the West Point ramp. I actually started timing him, and he went past 10 minutes. I thought, How long is this going to go on? This is Eugène Ionesco on steroids. This is theater of the absurd meets Nightmare on Elm Street.[Andrew Ferguson: Signs that Trump was furious in Tulsa]Ferguson: We were both speechwriters, briefly, for the first George Bush. I find myself trying to imagine being a speechwriter in the White House today, having to sit and listen to Trump, where every sentence you’ve written just becomes an occasion for him to start off on another one of his riffs, usually something he’s said a hundred thousand times.Buckley: If you’re inviting me to feel sorry for Stephen Miller, I think I’ll pass. But it’s remarkable how lifeless Trump sounds when he is speaking from a script. You can almost see the thought bubble going up over his head: This is sooo boring.And, of course, he told us this himself a couple of years ago. At one of these rallies, he said something like “People tell me, you know, I should be presidential. Why do I want to be presidential? Presidential is so boring.” There’s no reason we should expect dignity and majesty coming from him.He has in him the totalitarian oratorical inclination to go on and on. This is, I suppose, one of the symptoms or by-products of narcissism—the absolute certainty that you are being compelling. As I watched the Tulsa rally, though, I noticed the yawns, and people turning to their iPhones. I thought, This might be a tipping point—this might just be the tipping point where they finally see the emperor has no oratorical clothes—where he has become boring.Of course, this guy has taken us past more tipping points than an Olympic hurdler.Ferguson: Let me ask you another thing about the new book. Your second book, your first novel, The White House Mess, was in the form of a White House memoir, and Make Russia Great Again is also a White House memoir. You seem to have an affinity for that very particular literary form.Buckley: Yes, my first novel was a faux—or as we say now, a fake—Washington memoir by a White House chief of staff named Herb. This is my 19th book, a fake memoir by a White House chief of staff named Herb. So I’m ready for the reviewers to say, well, Buckley has traveled the gamut from A to B, or from A to A.Ferguson: Probably best to say you’ve come full circle.Buckley: Well, it’s a kind of bookend. I probably won’t be writing another White House memoir. But it’s a fascinating, very rich subliterary genre. Everyone who works at the White House for more than five minutes writes a memoir. The White House dog keeper wrote a memoir. I think it was like 500 pages. They all tend to have two themes: One, it wasn’t my fault; and two, it would have been much worse if I hadn’t been there.Herb, the main narrator in the new one, he’s sort of a likable schlub. He’s basically an innocent. He used to be the food and beverage manager at Trump’s other resort, Farago Sur Mer. Trump calls him, and he’s fired his six chiefs of staff at this point, and he begs Herb to come on board. I’d say he’s a good guy in a bad place. His observations are naive and innocent, and therefore, I think, the comedy is amplified.Ferguson: There’s a peculiar psychology to White House staffers—maybe it’s true in all of politics. They all have an element of hero worship—they’re there to serve this superior person in rank and stature—and yet at the same time they, of all people, are more exposed to the weaknesses that all aspiring great men and women are heir to.Of course, with Trump there’s an additional complication in the psychology. You have a great line in which Herb finally becomes self-aware.Buckley: He says, “It had gotten to the point where I felt virtuous merely by not saying something that was false.”Yeah, in a normal White House, which this seems not to be, the relationship between principal and staffer could probably be called a healthy codependence. They’re both there for their own reasons. A good leader like Bush 41—you loved the guy because he was lovable, and he was good, and it wasn’t about him. He may well be the most selfless man ever to occupy the White House.With this guy, it’s different. It’s frankly hard at this point to imagine why anyone would want to work for him. I think the “I’m doing this for the good of the country” explanation rings a little bit hollow.Ferguson: Have you read John Bolton’s book? It’s only 600 pages.Buckley: It just arrived yesterday, and I can’t wait to plunge in. I should point out that it is published by Simon & Schuster. My book is published by Simon & Schuster. And the Mary Trump book [is also soon to be published by Simon & Schuster], which I’m very much looking forward to reading. So we have a trio of Trump memoirs coming out.Mine is the little guy. Bolton’s book has sold 780,000 copies. And Mary Trump’s book is going to be a monster. I feel a little bit like the stick of chewing gum between these two main courses. My only consolation in being the Lilliputian here in this triad is that mine’s fiction. So we’ll see whose book is still being read 10 years from now.In our lifetimes, we’ve gone from Emmet John Hughes, a speechwriter for Eisenhower, who wrote a book in the 50s while Ike was still in power, or maybe just after, called The Ordeal of Power, the first modern White House memoir, and the reaction was appalled. By today’s standards, it was as bland as cream of wheat. He said nothing untoward. He didn’t reveal confidences. I don’t think he even quoted anyone in any meetings. And yet it was considered monstrously inappropriate to write such a book. We have traveled that distance in our lifetime to this.[Graeme Wood: John Bolton tries to recover his dignity]Ferguson: Your novel The White House Mess was published in 1986, toward the end of the Reagan administration. It opens with Ronald Reagan, who’s slightly dotty at the end of his second term, refusing to leave the White House on Inauguration Day. If Trump loses, do you foresee anything similar happening next Inauguration Day?Buckley: Yeah, that’s how the book started, and it got the book a lot of attention, that prologue. I certainly don’t claim any prescience. I mean, President Reagan was having the occasional dotty moment toward the end of his term. But he was also having some pretty cool non-dotty moments—as when he said, “Tear down this wall.”That was just sort of a fun idea. Reagan’s not not leaving for malevolent reasons; he’s just a little dotty, and he just doesn’t feel like leaving right then. Maybe he’ll leave tomorrow. Meanwhile, the motorcade is waiting; the world is waiting.I was interviewed about the book by The Washington Post, and I expressed worry that, you know, this might not seem funny to the Reagans, both of whom I had known since I was 13 years old, because my father [the journalist William F. Buckley] was close to them. Four days later, I get a handwritten letter from the White House. I opened it and it was from the Gipper, saying that he was delighted to have played a small role in the success of my book.Did I weep at this man’s funeral? Yes.Several years later, he wrote that one-draft letter to the American people telling us that he, as he put it, like “millions of other Americans” had Alzheimer’s. Note, by the way, how he put that: He was basically saying he was just unum among the pluribus. The refusal to take center stage. And we all wept at that letter.Now flash forward to a different era. Trump is essentially issuing threats that if he loses this election, it will be because it was rigged. And so we face that possible drama. He may put us through hell.Ferguson: Well, all he has to do is try, and he can put us through hell.Buckley: I’d say we’re already in hell. It’s just a question of what circle of hell.[David A. Graham: Who wants to be seen with Trump anymore?]Ferguson: As a onetime Republican, do you have any thoughts about what the Republican Party is supposed to do after Trump is gone? Will it still exist?Buckley: The Republican Party that you and I once knew and loved is over. It’s gone. One looks at the Republican Senate and, with one or two exceptions, despairs. There’s something, to me, almost more odious than Trump himself in the sum of his enablers and apologists and lickspittles.My favorite character in the book is a certain southern senator, Squigg Lee Biskitt.Ferguson: Of the great state of South Carolina. The president gives him a particularly pungent nickname.Buckley: Yes, he does, which I’m not going to say. But, yeah, it’s in there. I had fun with that character. Lindsey Graham was once John McCain’s wingman, as he used to describe himself. I don’t understand how he could have made that journey from being John McCain’s wingman to Donald Trump’s lapdog. I don’t get it.It’s fallen to Mitt Romney to express what once would have been the opinion of the majority. I am proud to say that my uncle Jimmy Buckley, when he was U.S. senator from New York, was the first Republican to urge Nixon to resign—in early 1973, well over a year before Nixon left office. I say this with frank family pride: I look in vain trying to find a Jimmy Buckley in the Republican Senate today.Ferguson: One last thing: You were great friends with Christopher Hitchens, a writer much beloved by Atlantic readers for many years. He’s been gone for—Buckley: He left us way too early, age 62, in 2011, so we’re coming up on a decade.Ferguson: Do you ever think about what he’d be writing?Buckley: I think about it all the time. He was so brilliant and so eloquent that I tremble to attempt to put words in that golden mouth. Being with Christopher was, as he might say, always a feast of reason and a flow of soul.I think it’s certainly likely that he would be appalled—in particular by, say, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and Trump’s cosseting of the man who might as well have held the bone saw: Mohammed bin Salman. Hitch was always saddled up and put on the buckler and lance in defense of his colleagues, and I think he would have considered Khashoggi one of his colleagues. I think he would have been appalled by the recent revelation that Trump told President Xi of China that he was perfectly fine with his putting a million Uighurs in concentration camps.I wish we could have Christopher’s take on a thousand things—on Boris Johnson, on Prince Harry and Meghan. Certainly he would have given us a very fine descant on the cravenness of the Republican Senate.In his posthumously published book, Mortality, he quotes a poem that always makes me think of him. “They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead / They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed / I wept when I remembered how often you and I / Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.” I miss him. A lot of people miss him.Ferguson: That’s a perfect place to close. It’s very Hitchens-like of you to be able to recite that off the top of your head.Buckley: Well, I managed stanza one. He would have done one, and then stanzas two, three, and four.
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