Do you ever find yourself wondering what the story is with those thrilled faces behind Donald Trump at his rallies? Unlike us, they’re not spies in a house of horrors. That sea of Make America Great Again hats doesn’t give them the creeps. When Trump cues them, as he did in Phoenix on August 22, to jeer John McCain, they have no ambivalence about belittling a war hero battling brain cancer.
In the contest between crisis and calm, oy has an edge over om. Case in point: Just as I was giving meditation another try to take my mind off Donald Trump, the North Korea fire-and-fury horror show broke out, and Trump’s itchy finger on the locked and loaded nuclear trigger made my strategy for sanity look awfully iffy.
John F. Kelly’s front-stabbing Donald Trump’s new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci only hours after Trump named the four-star Marine general his chief of staff was a sublime first move. But unlike Ivanka or Jared Kushner, Trump isn’t Dad to Kelly. How long can it be before Kelly’s service doesn’t pleasure the president anymore?
Have you seen anything since then that would move the needle away from “idiot”? Or from “ignorant” (the ninth most frequent answer), or “stupid” (12th)? He doesn’t know what’s in the Senate’s health care bill. He’s not reading his intelligence briefings. He’s watching more Fox News than your cranky uncle. His behavior seems engineered to provoke responses like, “Can you believe what an idiot/ignoramus/stupid person Trump is?”
Even if it were someone else, not Donald Trump, pulling the planet’s attention to the world’s three Abrahamic religions; if it were Barack Obama or George W. Bush, say, or even Eleanor Roosevelt, making an ecumenical pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia…
But the episode featured yet another surprise: U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy in dress blues, flanked by Janney and Farris, warns that drug overdoses kill more Americans than car crashes. The families behind these numbers, he tells us, need our compassion. The 30-second PSA ends with a 24/7 helpline number to call. After it ran, calls to 1-800-662-HELP tripled.
I’ll admit it: I’m rarely without my iPhone, even for a few minutes (you know: in case of an emergency, or my kids are trying to reach me, or I don’t want the plumber to go to voicemail). Some studies say that on average, people check their phones every six-and-a-half minutes, 150 times a day; some say – yikes – as many as 2,617 times a day.
“I was clueless about health care policy. Instead of reading my briefing books or even my own bill, I played golf. I bullshitted my way through every meeting and phone call. And when it was explained to me that this dumpster fire of a bill would break my promise that everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they are now, which was a huge applause line by the way, I threw my own voters under the bus.”
The CIA’s finding that Putin hacked the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf is extremely dangerous to democracy. Without firing a single shot, the Kremlin is weeks away from installing its puppet in the White House.