..Hurricane Harvey’s Floodwaters Were So Extreme That They Warped Earth’s Crust…

…..Wait!…..What? !…………

Hurricane Harvey from The International Space Station.

Hurricane Harvey is set to be one of the costliest natural disasters in American history. It was both unusually wet and extremely slow, and as a result, it dumped a whopping 125 trillion liters (33 trillion gallons) of rain on the US, mostly on Texas – more than four times that unleashed by 2005’s Katrina.

Last week, geoscientist Chris Milliner of NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) sent out a tweet that contained a rather startling map. As various GPS markers across Houston have revealed, the city actually sank a little as Harvey dumped all of its precipitation on the unfortunate city.

Of course, a lot of the metropolis was underwater, but this isn’t quite what we mean here. There was actually so much rainfall that the Earth’s crust itself was depressed by around two centimeters (about 0.8 inches) for a few days. That may not sound like much until you remember that warping the surface of the planet isn’t actually easy.

A simple calculation by The Atlantic suggests around 125 gigatonnes (275 trillion pounds) of water fell from the sky back then. That’s a difficult number to envisage, so let’s just say that the water weighed the same as 155,342 Golden Gate Bridges. It’s about the same as 77 percent of the total estimated mass of Mount Everest.

Mount Everest, by the way, cannot get much taller. If it did, the crust beneath it would begin to sink in response. So it’s safe to say that a veritable mountain of water landing mostly on Houston had the same effect, except in this case, the land was forced downwards.

Someone asked Milliner if the GPS reading was simply due to the compaction of unconsolidated, sandy soil that was simply sinking under the weight of the water. Not so, says the scientist: The “subsidence is beyond noise level.” Although some soil compaction may be a factor here, if the ground rebounds and moves upwards again as the waters recede that will confirm the crustal warping theory.

Another person asked Milliner about climate change. As we’ve previously reported here, climate change doesn’t “cause” hurricanes, but it certainly makes them wetter and more powerful. Thus, it’s safe to say that Harvey’s record-breaking rainfall was worse than it should have been.

In response to the query, Milliner says: “Unfortunately, [climate change] is very real. You don’t have to believe politicians, just look at the data and science.”

By Robin Andrews

18 SEP 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: RANDY BRESNIK/NASA

 

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…….and so ends another exciting episode of What The Hell Can Possibly Get Worse?…….but that is a catchy phrase….”You don’t have to believe politicians, just look at the data and science.”……… has kind of a ring to it……………………..w

RING RING RING RING RING RING RING RING RING

 

….The Unlikely Return of Cat Stevens……….

Cat Stevens was giving us back the songs he’d taken away so many years ago. He was, after all this time, validating their worth again, and with it, our love for them.

Early in a Cat Stevens, a.k.a. Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Yusuf/Cat Stevens, concert in Boston a couple of years ago, there was a hushed pause in the room as the then sixty-six-year-old performer waited for a stagehand to bring him a guitar in between songs. “I’m really happy to be here!” the singer suddenly exclaimed.

It did not sound like ersatz show-biz banter; it sounded humble, childlike even, as if he himself were surprised by the emotion. It sounded like capitulation. The crowd, in response, rose to its feet en masse, producing a sound that was more than just a cheer. It was an embrace. It was an acknowledgment by artist and audience alike: Cat Stevens, a figure who, for all intents and purposes, had ceased to exist more than three decades ago, had come back.

For a long time, it has been hard to love the man once known (and now known again) as Cat Stevens. In the years since he formally retired from the popular music world, in 1978, his name has popped up in the media from time to time.

He would be quoted, or seen in a video-clip interview, and it was difficult to accept the visage of the person whom he now presented himself as—to reconcile this cold, humorless, unhappy, and severe-looking man with the joyful, understanding, goofy, wise songwriter whose music we’d known and loved. For a long time, the man who’d changed his name to Yusuf Islam had completely disowned his artistic output as Cat Stevens—a confusing, dispiriting slap in the face to those it once meant a great deal to.

The man who was Cat Stevens ran Islamic schools for children, spreading the word of Allah, and acted as a spokesperson for Islam. After a while, he began making some children’s albums, but he wasn’t playing the guitar, and the music was not for his traditional fan base. In interviews, he sounded defensive and removed. Some remarks attributed to him seemed to be in line with some of the more distasteful prejudices of orthodox Islam.

Then, in 2006, came “An Other Cup,” his first album of commercial music in twenty-eight years. He’d dropped his adopted last name of Islam, and was now calling himself, simply, Yusuf. Something had shifted, certainly. How welcome it was to hear that voice with that guitar again, after all these years. Still, the album’s opening track, “Midday (Avoid City After Dark),” set a tone of unease, paranoia, and judgment that never really lifted. Elsewhere on the recording, there was a revisit to a much earlier composition (“I Think I See the Light”) and an interesting (if forced-sounding) reworking of a section of his “Foreigner Suite” (“Heaven/Where True Love Goes”), but the bulk of the album felt earthbound. Nowhere was there the joie de vivre that inhabited his best work. The follow-up, “Roadsinger,” in 2009, sounded fresher, but still unconvincing. Which was it—was he wary of us, or we of him? There seemed to be skepticism and distrust on both sides.

Some live performances began to appear here and there online. Yusuf was steadfast about not playing any old Cat Stevens material, save for a select few songs that he could justify in the context of his religious path, such as “The Wind” and “Peace Train.” He had collaborated on a musical called “Moonshadow” that featured actors singing some of his old songs and was having a run in Australia. It proved a critical and financial flop.

I paid attention to all of this because, unhip as this may be to admit, the music of Cat Stevens once meant a great deal to me. I did not grow up listening to it, per se (I was too young), but his music became the soundtrack to my adolescence when I watched “Harold and Maude” for the first time, and my world changed. I went out and got a guitar. I listened to Cat Stevens obsessively, played and sang his songs with friends, hunted down all of his albums. While it was clear that he’d lost his way artistically on later albums like “Numbers” and “Izitso,” the earlier, classic albums that he’s still known for (“Mona Bone Jakon” through “Foreigner”) were full of treasures that could be mined again and again. Indelible melodies, beautiful production, emotionally committed performances, and, most of all, a gentle wisdom, a repudiation of the status quo, a sense that we were not alone. Here was someone who was trying to make sense of life, too; he may not have had the answers, but he was looking for them, and we were encouraged to join him. Here was a friend.

Of course, I quickly learned that Cat Stevens had already ceased to be. My adolescent soul despaired, knowing that there would be no more Cat Stevens albums, no more Cat Stevens concerts. The man who had become a hero to me had long since retired from the music world.

In time, his music, too, would fade from my consciousness. As I grew and matured, so did my musical tastes and sensibilities. I might reach for a Cat Stevens album on rare occasions, to remind myself of something that I’d once treasured, sometimes surprised that a song or album held up as strongly as it did, but his music was no longer a living thing for me. I paid attention when he came out of retirement with the two Yusuf albums, and listened to each of them a handful of times with attendant hopes and (it seemed) inevitable disappointment. It was hard to get excited about his music now. The voice was the same, but the spirit was changed, different, unwelcoming.

Nevertheless, when it was announced, in late 2014, that he was going to perform in America for the first time in thirty-eight years, I put my misgivings aside and became a teen-ager again, queueing up for tickets on the phone the morning they went on sale. I did not listen to his latest album, “Tell ‘Em I’m Gone,” nor did I look for any news about the kinds of shows that he’d been playing of late. I simply drove up to Boston to see my old hero, expectations dimmed to almost nothing. I imagined that there I would see Yusuf Islam, delivering a respectful program of his latter-day music, with perhaps one or two old favorites thrown in as crowd appeasement. I wasn’t going for Yusuf Islam. I was going to pay homage to the singer who had once meant so much to me, for the chance to simply be in the same room with him for the first (and what I assumed would be the last) time.

It has taken some time for me to think clearly about what it was like to be at that show. What happened there was more than just a good concert given by a group of well-rehearsed, talented musicians, backing a pop icon on a comeback tour, though it was partly that. It was more than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane, as a sold-out crowd sang along to songs that many (including myself) never expected to hear played live again, though it was partly that, too. Without resorting to hyperbole, being there, for me, was an unexpected catharsis, something like seeing a ghost.

I didn’t know, until I got there, that the singer was now billing himself with the ungainly but revealing name of Yusuf/Cat Stevens. Was he now acknowledging his former self? This was a surprise, the first of many that the evening would hold.

The once and future Cat Stevens walked onstage to a tremendous ovation (no surprise there) and launched into a solo performance of “The Wind.” O.K., in some way, this was what we’d all come for, and here he’d already given it to us. All the latter-day Yusuf stuff would follow, we’d give him some hearty applause at the encore, and that would be that—or so I thought. What was this, though? He was wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket—not the austere, devotional garb he’d worn in the (admittedly not so recent) appearances that I’d seen him do online. And the stage set—it was elaborate, whimsical, evocative of the old Cat, whose tastes sometimes crossed the line into outright silliness. Most significantly, though, he himself seemed engaged, connected, and—hardest to believe—lighthearted.

“Here Comes My Baby” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest” followed, two pop hits from the infancy of his career, both secular love songs, both jarring surprises. “Thinking ‘Bout You” followed, a more recent song of love and devotion, but it was buoyed by an energy and commitment that sustained the freshness of what had come before, and served as a bridge to the first real shock of the night, as the singer made his way to a piano at the side of the stage and, unaccompanied, launched into the opening strains of “Sitting,” and the crowd seemed to collectively gasp before erupting into joyous, grateful cheers. Here he was again. Cat Stevens. Questioning, seeking, proudly admitting that he did not have the answers, but that he was on his way to find them. Our companion, our friend, had returned.

It was the first of what would be many goosebump-inducing moments in the generous, two-part concert. He followed it with “Last Love Song,” from 1978’s obscure (and mostly uninspired-sounding) “Back to Earth,” the mere fact that he was exploring and reclaiming obscurities from his back catalogue speaking volumes. By the time he reached the end of the first set, closing it with “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,” the message was clear—something had happened. He was giving us back the songs he’d taken away so many years ago. He was, after all this time, validating their worth again, and with it, our love for them. After insisting for so many years, as Yusuf Islam, that there was only one way, only one truth, one law, one path, he’d relented. He was giving us permission, again, to do and think and live how we wanted. And he seemed genuinely happy saying and singing it.

The second set held even more surprises, as song after song from the old œuvre was brought back to life. “Oh Very Young,” “Sad Lisa,” “Miles from Nowhere” (I have my freedom / I can make my own rules / Oh yeah, the ones that I choose). They were presented, for the most part, as set pieces, with hardly any improvisation at all, but that didn’t matter. The faithful Alun Davies was there on lead acoustic guitar, as he has been since 1970. Matt Sweeney was a welcome addition on electric guitar, adding a pinch of verve and danger to the mix, but if old concert footage is any indication, Cat Stevens was never one for taking too many risks onstage musically, choosing instead to eschew spontaneity in deference to the arrangements on his studio recordings.

It was touching to hear the singer-songwriter still tinkering with that beautiful failure “Foreigner Suite,” still trying to get it right. Classics such as “Where Do the Children Play?” and “Trouble” brought with them a great sadness; confronted with the simplicity, the naïveté even, of the sentiments in these gentle lyrics, it was impossible not to think of how the world has changed and darkened since these songs were written and last performed. Even “Moonshadow,” that lullaby of Buddhist acceptance, carried with it the sting of longing for less dire times.

Being at that concert, hearing those songs again, sung with conviction by that man, was like being allowed to spend a night in one’s childhood home, with everything back the way that it was from some preëxistential, innocent moment—with even one’s family members frozen in time the way that they were decades ago. For me, it was eerie, spooky, unsettling, like Emily’s return from the dead in “Our Town.”

At the end of each of these old songs, there was that same sustained applause that followed his aside, early in the show, about how happy he was to be there. It’s a sound I keep coming back to in my mind when I think about the experience of being at that concert, a sound distinct from any that I think I have ever heard. It was an entity, a palpable force, as though the emotion behind every voice and every pair of hands could be heard. There was a sort of desperate celebration to it. It was the sound of reconciliation, of gratitude, of forgiveness.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens has a new album coming out this week, called “A Laughing Apple,” and more tour dates have been announced. I have not heard the new recording yet, but news of its release has led me to reflect on that night, when it felt as though this shape-shifting performer had brought someone we once loved back from the dead, a phantom from another time, and with that act offered tacit acknowledgment that we’re so much better together than we are apart. It’s a notion as naïvely idealistic as any he ever gave us; an echo from the past, finding its way to us past a wall that is, miraculously, no longer there.

by Howard Fishman

 

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……..stay with me for some early Cal Stevens and present day Yusuf/Cat Stevens…………….  Fishman chose not to add any music which is why I’m adding it on this side…..enjoy….

 

…..The First White President…..

The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.

IT IS INSUFFICIENT TO STATE the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.

In Trump, white supremacists see one of their own. Only grudgingly did Trump denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, one of its former grand wizards—and after the clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Duke in turn praised Trump’s contentious claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence.

To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

For Trump, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president

THE SCOPE OF TRUMP’S commitment to whiteness is matched only by the depth of popular disbelief in the power of whiteness. We are now being told that support for Trump’s “Muslim ban,” his scapegoating of immigrants, his defenses of police brutality are somehow the natural outgrowth of the cultural and economic gap between Lena Dunham’s America and Jeff Foxworthy’s. The collective verdict holds that the Democratic Party lost its way when it abandoned everyday economic issues like job creation for the softer fare of social justice. The indictment continues: To their neoliberal economics, Democrats and liberals have married a condescending elitist affect that sneers at blue-collar culture and mocks the white man as history’s greatest monster and prime-time television’s biggest doofus. In this rendition, Donald Trump is not the product of white supremacy so much as the product of a backlash against contempt for white working-class people.

“We so obviously despise them, we so obviously condescend to them,” the conservative social scientist Charles Murray, who co-wrote The Bell Curve, recently toldThe New Yorker, speaking of the white working class. “The only slur you can use at a dinner party and get away with is to call somebody a redneck—that won’t give you any problems in Manhattan.”

“The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes,” charged the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, “is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.”

That black people, who have lived for centuries under such derision and condescension, have not yet been driven into the arms of Trump does not trouble these theoreticians. After all, in this analysis, Trump’s racism and the racism of his supporters are incidental to his rise. Indeed, the alleged glee with which liberals call out Trump’s bigotry is assigned even more power than the bigotry itself. Ostensibly assaulted by campus protests, battered by arguments about intersectionality, and oppressed by new bathroom rights, a blameless white working class did the only thing any reasonable polity might: elect an orcish reality-television star who insists on taking his intelligence briefings in picture-book form.

Asserting that Trump’s rise was primarily powered by cultural resentment and economic reversal has become de rigueur among white pundits and thought leaders. But evidence for this is, at best, mixed. In a study of preelection polling data, the Gallup researchers Jonathan Rothwell and Pablo Diego-Rosell found that “people living in areas with diminished economic opportunity” were “somewhat more likely to support Trump.” But the researchers also found that voters in their study who supported Trump generally had a higher mean household income ($81,898) than those who did not ($77,046). Those who approved of Trump were “less likely to be unemployed and less likely to be employed part-time” than those who did not. They also tended to be from areas that were very white: “The racial and ethnic isolation of whites at the zip code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”
An analysis of exit polls conducted during the presidential primaries estimated the median household income of Trump supporters to be about $72,000. But even this lower number is almost double the median household income of African Americans, and $15,000 above the American median. Trump’s white support was not determined by income. According to Edison Research, Trump won whites making less than $50,000 by 20 points, whites making $50,000 to $99,999 by 28 points, and whites making $100,000 or more by 14 points. This shows that Trump assembled a broad white coalition that ran the gamut from Joe the Dishwasher to Joe the Plumber to Joe the Banker. So when white pundits cast the elevation of Trump as the handiwork of an inscrutable white working class, they are being too modest, declining to claim credit for their own economic class. Trump’s dominance among whites across class lines is of a piece with his larger dominance across nearly every white demographic. Trump won white women (+9) and white men (+31). He won white people with college degrees (+3) and white people without them (+37). He won whites ages 18–29 (+4), 30–44 (+17), 45–64 (+28), and 65 and older (+19). Trump won whites in midwestern Illinois (+11), whites in mid-Atlantic New Jersey (+12), and whites in the Sun Belt’s New Mexico (+5). In no state that Edison polled did Trump’s white support dip below 40 percent. Hillary Clinton’s did, in states as disparate as Florida, Utah, Indiana, and Kentucky. From the beer track to the wine track, from soccer moms to nascardads, Trump’s performance among whites was dominant. According to Mother Jones, based on preelection polling data, if you tallied the popular vote of only white America to derive 2016 electoral votes, Trump would have defeated Clinton 389 to 81, with the remaining 68 votes either a toss-up or unknown.
Part of Trump’s dominance among whites resulted from his running as a Republican, the party that has long cultivated white voters. Trump’s share of the white vote was similar to Mitt Romney’s in 2012. But unlike Romney, Trump secured this support by running against his party’s leadership, against accepted campaign orthodoxy, and against all notions of decency. By his sixth month in office, embroiled in scandal after scandal, a Pew Research Center poll found Trump’s approval rating underwater with every single demographic group. Every demographic group, that is, except one: people who identified as white.The focus on one subsector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life. The idea of acceptance frustrates the left. The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of. Moreover, to accept that whiteness brought us Donald Trump is to accept whiteness as an existential danger to the country and the world. But if the broad and remarkable white support for Donald Trump can be reduced to the righteous anger of a noble class of smallville firefighters and evangelicals, mocked by Brooklyn hipsters and womanist professors into voting against their interests, then the threat of racism and whiteness, the threat of the heirloom, can be dismissed. Consciences can be eased; no deeper existential reckoning is required.

This transfiguration is not novel. It is a return to form. The tightly intertwined stories of the white working class and black Americans go back to the prehistory of the United States—and the use of one as a cudgel to silence the claims of the other goes back nearly as far. Like the black working class, the white working class originated in bondage—the former in the lifelong bondage of slavery, the latter in the temporary bondage of indenture. In the early 17th century, these two classes were remarkably, though not totally, free of racist enmity. But by the 18th century, the country’s master class had begun etching race into law while phasing out indentured servitude in favor of a more enduring labor solution. From these and other changes of law and economy, a bargain emerged: The descendants of indenture would enjoy the full benefits of whiteness, the most definitional benefit being that they would never sink to the level of the slave. But if the bargain protected white workers from slavery, it did not protect them from near-slave wages or backbreaking labor to attain them, and always there lurked a fear of having their benefits revoked. This early white working class “expressed soaring desires to be rid of the age-old inequalities of Europe and of any hint of slavery,” according to David R. Roediger, a professor of American studies at the University of Kansas. “They also expressed the rather more pedestrian goal of simply not being mistaken for slaves, or ‘negers’ or ‘negurs.’ ”

Roediger relates the experience, around 1807, of a British investor who made the mistake of asking a white maid in New England whether her “master” was home. The maid admonished the investor, not merely for implying that she had a “master” and thus was a “sarvant” but for his basic ignorance of American hierarchy. “None but negers are sarvants,” the maid is reported to have said. In law and economics and then in custom, a racist distinction not limited to the household emerged between the “help” (or the “freemen,” or the white workers) and the “servants” (the “negers,” the slaves). The former were virtuous and just, worthy of citizenship, progeny of Jefferson and, later, Jackson. The latter were servile and parasitic, dim-witted and lazy, the children of African savagery. But the dignity accorded to white labor was situational, dependent on the scorn heaped upon black labor—much as the honor accorded a “virtuous lady” was dependent on the derision directed at a “loose woman.” And like chivalrous gentlemen who claim to honor the lady while raping the “whore,” planters and their apologists could claim to honor white labor while driving the enslaved.And so George Fitzhugh, a prominent 19th-century Southern pro-slavery intellectual, could in a single stroke deplore the exploitation of free whites’ labor while defending the exploitation of enslaved blacks’ labor. Fitzhugh attacked white capitalists as “cannibals,” feeding off the labor of their fellow whites. The white workers were “ ‘slaves without masters;’ the little fish, who were food for all the larger.” Fitzhugh inveighed against a “professional man” who’d “amassed a fortune” by exploiting his fellow whites. But whereas Fitzhugh imagined white workers as devoured by capital, he imagined black workers as elevated by enslavement. The slaveholder “provided for them, with almost parental affection”—even when the loafing slave “feigned to be unfit for labor.” Fitzhugh proved too explicit—going so far as to argue that white laborers might be better off if enslaved. (“If white slavery be morally wrong,” he wrote, “the Bible cannot be true.”) Nevertheless, the argument that America’s original sin was not deep-seated white supremacy but rather the exploitation of white labor by white capitalists—“white slavery”—proved durable. Indeed, the panic of white slavery lives on in our politics today. Black workers suffer because it was and is our lot. But when white workers suffer, something in nature has gone awry. And so an opioid epidemic among mostly white people is greeted with calls for compassion and treatment, as all epidemics should be, while a crack epidemic among mostly black people is greeted with scorn and mandatory minimums. Sympathetic op‑ed columns and articles are devoted to the plight of working-class whites when their life expectancy plummets to levels that, for blacks, society has simply accepted as normal. White slavery is sin. Nigger slavery is natural. This dynamic serves a very real purpose: the consistent awarding of grievance and moral high ground to that class of workers which, by the bonds of whiteness, stands closest to America’s aristocratic class.
This is by design. Speaking in 1848, Senator John C. Calhoun saw slavery as the explicit foundation for a democratic union among whites, working and not:

With us the two great divisions of society are not the rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.

On the eve of secession, Jefferson Davis, the eventual president of the Confederacy, pushed the idea further, arguing that such equality between the white working class and white oligarchs could not exist at all without black slavery:

I say that the lower race of human beings that constitute the substratum of what is termed the slave population of the South, elevates every white man in our community … It is the presence of a lower caste, those lower by their mental and physical organization, controlled by the higher intellect of the white man, that gives this superiority to the white laborer. Menial services are not there performed by the white man. We have none of our brethren sunk to the degradation of being menials. That belongs to the lower race—the descendants of Ham.

Southern intellectuals found a shade of agreement with Northern white reformers who, while not agreeing on slavery, agreed on the nature of the most tragic victim of emerging capitalism. “I was formerly like yourself, sir, a very warm advocate of the abolition of slavery,” the labor reformer George Henry Evans argued in a letter to the abolitionist Gerrit Smith. “This was before I saw that there was white slavery.” Evans was a putative ally of Smith and his fellow abolitionists. But still he asserted that “the landless white” was worse off than the enslaved black, who at least enjoyed “surety of support in sickness and old age.”

Invokers of “white slavery” held that there was nothing unique in the enslavement of blacks when measured against the enslavement of all workers. What evil there was in enslavement resulted from its status as a subsidiary of the broader exploitation better seen among the country’s noble laboring whites. Once the larger problem of white exploitation was solved, the dependent problem of black exploitation could be confronted or perhaps would fade away. Abolitionists focused on slavery were dismissed as “substitutionists” who wished to trade one form of slavery for another. “If I am less troubled concerning the Slavery prevalent in Charleston or New-Orleans,” wrote the reformer Horace Greeley, “it is because I see so much Slavery in New-York, which appears to claim my first efforts.”Firsthand reports by white Union soldiers who witnessed actual slavery during the Civil War rendered the “white slavery” argument ridiculous. But its operating premises—white labor as noble archetype, and black labor as something else—lived on. This was a matter of rhetoric, not fact. The noble-white-labor archetype did not give white workers immunity from capitalism. It could not, in itself, break monopolies, alleviate white poverty in Appalachia or the South, or bring a decent wage to immigrant ghettos in the North. But the model for America’s original identity politics was set. Black lives literally did not matter and could be cast aside altogether as the price of even incremental gains for the white masses. It was this juxtaposition that allowed Theodore Bilbo to campaign for the Senate in the 1930s as someone who would “raise the same kind of hell as President Roosevelt” and later endorse lynching black people to keep them from voting.
The juxtaposition between the valid and even virtuous interests of the “working class” and the invalid and pathological interests of black Americans was not the province merely of blatant white supremacists like Bilbo. The acclaimed scholar, liberal hero, and future senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in his time working for President Richard Nixon, approvingly quoted Nixon’s formulation of the white working class: “A new voice” was beginning to make itself felt in the country. “It is a voice that has been silent too long,” Nixon claimed, alluding to working-class whites. “It is a voice of people who have not taken to the streets before, who have not indulged in violence, who have not broken the law.”
The fact of a black president seemed to insult Donald Trump personally. He has made the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. (Gabriella Demczuk)
It had been only 18 years since the Cicero riots; eight years since Daisy and Bill Myers had been run out of Levittown, Pennsylvania; three years since Martin Luther King Jr. had been stoned while walking through Chicago’s Marquette Park. But as the myth of the virtuous white working class was made central to American identity, its sins needed to be rendered invisible. The fact was, working-class whites had been agents of racist terrorism since at least the draft riots of 1863; terrorism could not be neatly separated from the racist animus found in every class of whites. Indeed, in the era of lynching, the daily newspapers often whipped up the fury of the white masses by invoking the last species of property that all white men held in common—white women. But to conceal the breadth of white racism, these racist outbursts were often disregarded or treated not as racism but as the unfortunate side effect of legitimate grievances against capital. By focusing on that sympathetic laboring class, the sins of whiteness itself were, and are still being, evaded.
When David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, shocked the country in 1990 by almost winning one of Louisiana’s seats in the U.S. Senate, the apologists came out once again. They elided the obvious—that Duke had appealed to the racist instincts of a state whose schools are, at this very moment, still desegregating—and instead decided that something else was afoot. “There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration among working-class whites, particularly where there is an economic downturn,” a researcher told the Los Angeles Times. “These people feel left out; they feel government is not responsive to them.” By this logic, postwar America—with its booming economy and low unemployment—should have been an egalitarian utopia and not the violently segregated country it actually was.But this was the past made present. It was not important to the apologists that a large swath of Louisiana’s white population thought it was a good idea to send a white supremacist who once fronted a terrorist organization to the nation’s capital. Nor was it important that blacks in Louisiana had long felt left out. What was important was the fraying of an ancient bargain, and the potential degradation of white workers to the level of “negers.” “A viable left must find a way to differentiate itself strongly from such analysis,” David Roediger, the University of Kansas professor, has written.

That challenge of differentiation has largely been ignored. Instead, an imagined white working class remains central to our politics and to our cultural understanding of those politics, not simply when it comes to addressing broad economic issues but also when it comes to addressing racism. At its most sympathetic, this belief holds that most Americans—regardless of race—are exploited by an unfettered capitalist economy. The key, then, is to address those broader patterns that afflict the masses of all races; the people who suffer from those patterns more than others (blacks, for instance) will benefit disproportionately from that which benefits everyone. “These days, what ails working-class and middle-class blacks and Latinos is not fundamentally different from what ails their white counterparts,” Senator Barack Obama wrote in 2006: Downsizing, outsourcing, automation, wage stagnation, the dismantling of employer-based health-care and pension plans, and schools that fail to teach young people the skills they need to compete in a global economy.Obama allowed that “blacks in particular have been vulnerable to these trends”—but less because of racism than for reasons of geography and job-sector distribution. This notion—raceless antiracism—marks the modern left, from the New Democrat Bill Clinton to the socialist Bernie Sanders. Few national liberal politicians have shown any recognition that there is something systemic and particular in the relationship between black people and their country that might require specific policy solutions.

In 2006 Hilary Clinton acknowledged the existence of systemic racism more explicitly than any of her modern Democratic predecessors. She had to—black voters remembered too well the previous Clinton administration, as well as her previous campaign. While her husband’s administration had touted the rising-tide theory of economic growth, it did so while slashing welfare and getting “tough on crime,” a phrase that stood for specific policies but also served as rhetorical bait for white voters. One is tempted to excuse Hillary Clinton from having to answer for the sins of her husband. But in her 2008 campaign, she evoked the old dichotomy between white workers and loafing blacks, claiming to be the representative of “hardworking Americans, white Americans.” By the end of the 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama, her advisers were hoping someone would uncover an apocryphal “whitey tape,” in which an angry Michelle Obama was alleged to have used the slur. During Bill Clinton’s presidential-reelection campaign in the mid-1990s, Hillary Clinton herself had endorsed the “super-predator” theory of William J. Bennett, John P. Walters, and John J. DiIulio Jr. This theory cast “inner-city” children of that era as “almost completely unmoralized” and the font of “a new generation of street criminals … the youngest, biggest and baddest generation any society has ever known.” The “baddest generation” did not become super-predators. But by 2016, they were young adults, many of whom judged Hillary Clinton’s newfound consciousness to be lacking.

It’s worth asking why the country has not been treated to a raft of sympathetic portraits of this “forgotten” young black electorate, forsaken by a Washington bought off by Davos elites and special interests. The unemployment rate for young blacks (20.6 percent) in July 2016 was double that of young whites (9.9 percent). And since the late 1970s, William Julius Wilson and other social scientists following in his wake have noted the disproportionate effect that the decline in manufacturing jobs has had on African American communities. If anyone should be angered by the devastation wreaked by the financial sector and a government that declined to prosecute the perpetrators, it is African Americans—the housing crisis was one of the primary drivers in the past 20 years of the wealth gap between black families and the rest of the country. But the cultural condescension toward and economic anxiety of black people is not news. Toiling blacks are in their proper state; toiling whites raise the specter of white slavery.Moreover, a narrative of long-neglected working-class black voters, injured by globalization and the financial crisis, forsaken by out-of-touch politicians, and rightfully suspicious of a return of Clintonism, does not serve to cleanse the conscience of white people for having elected Donald Trump. Only the idea of a long-suffering white working class can do that. And though much has been written about the distance between elites and “Real America,” the existence of a class-transcending, mutually dependent tribe of white people is evident.
Joe Biden, then the vice president, last year:

“They’re all the people I grew up with … And they’re not racist. They’re not sexist.”

Bernie Sanders, senator and former candidate for president, last year:

“I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from.”

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, in February of this year:

My hometown, Yamhill, Ore., a farming community, is Trump country, and I have many friends who voted for Trump. I think they’re profoundly wrong, but please don’t dismiss them as hateful bigots.

These claims of origin and fidelity are not merely elite defenses of an aggrieved class but also a sweeping dismissal of the concerns of those who don’t share kinship with white men. “You can’t eat equality,” asserts Joe Biden—a statement worthy of someone unthreatened by the loss of wages brought on by an unwanted pregnancy, a background-check box at the bottom of a job application, or the deportation of a breadwinner. Within a week of Sanders lambasting Democrats for not speaking to “the people” where he “came from,” he was making an example of a woman who dreamed of representing the people where she came from. Confronted with a young woman who hoped to become the second Latina senator in American history, Sanders responded with a parody of the Clinton campaign: “It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’ No, that’s not good enough … One of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.” The upshot—attacking one specimen of identity politics after having invoked another—was unfortunate.

Other Sanders appearances proved even more alarming. On MSNBC, he attributed Trump’s success, in part, to his willingness to “not be politically correct.” Sanders admitted that Trump had “said some outrageous and painful things, but I think people are tired of the same old, same old political rhetoric.” Pressed on the definition of political correctness, Sanders gave an answer Trump surely would have approved of. “What it means is you have a set of talking points which have been poll-tested and focus-group-tested,” Sanders explained. “And that’s what you say rather than what’s really going on. And often, what you are not allowed to say are things which offend very, very powerful people.”
This definition of political correctness was shocking coming from a politician of the left. But it matched a broader defense of Trump voters. “Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and just deplorable folks,” Sanders said later. “I don’t agree.” This is not exculpatory. Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.One can, to some extent, understand politicians’ embracing a self-serving identity politics. Candidates for high office, such as Sanders, have to cobble together a coalition. The white working class is seen, understandably, as a large cache of potential votes, and capturing these votes requires eliding uncomfortable truths. But journalists have no such excuse. Again and again in the past year, Nicholas Kristof could be found pleading with his fellow liberals not to dismiss his old comrades in the white working class as bigots—even when their bigotry was evidenced in his own reporting. A visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, finds Kristof wondering why Trump voters support a president who threatens to cut the programs they depend on. But the problem, according to Kristof ’s interviewees, isn’t Trump’s attack on benefits so much as an attack on their benefits. “There’s a lot of wasteful spending, so cut other places,” one man tells Kristof. When Kristof pushes his subjects to identify that wasteful spending, a fascinating target is revealed: “Obama phones,” the products of a fevered conspiracy theory that turned a long-standing government program into a scheme through which the then-president gave away free cellphones to undeserving blacks. Kristof doesn’t shift his analysis based on this comment and, aside from a one-sentence fact-check tucked between parentheses, continues on as though it were never said.
Observing a Trump supporter in the act of deploying racism does not much perturb Kristof. That is because his defenses of the innate goodness of Trump voters and of the innate goodness of the white working class are in fact defenses of neither. On the contrary, the white working class functions rhetorically not as a real community of people so much as a tool to quiet the demands of those who want a more inclusive America.Mark Lilla’s New York Times essay “The End of Identity Liberalism,” published not long after last year’s election, is perhaps the most profound example of this genre. Lilla denounces the perversion of liberalism into “a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity,” which distorted liberalism’s message “and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.” Liberals have turned away from their working-class base, he says, and must look to the “pre-identity liberalism” of Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt. You would never know from this essay that Bill Clinton was one of the most skillful identity politicians of his era—flying home to Arkansas to see a black man, the lobotomized Ricky Ray Rector, executed; upstaging Jesse Jackson at his own conference; signing the Defense of Marriage Act. Nor would you know that the “pre-identity” liberal champion Roosevelt depended on the literally lethal identity politics of the white-supremacist “solid South.” The name Barack Obama does not appear in Lilla’s essay, and he never attempts to grapple, one way or another, with the fact that it was identity politics—the possibility of the first black president—that brought a record number of black voters to the polls, winning the election for the Democratic Party, and thus enabling the deliverance of the ancient liberal goal of national health care. “Identity politics … is largely expressive, not persuasive,” Lilla claims. “Which is why it never wins elections—but can lose them.” That Trump ran and won on identity politics is beyond Lilla’s powers of conception. What appeals to the white working class is ennobled. What appeals to black workers, and all others outside the tribe, is dastardly identitarianism. All politics are identity politics—except the politics of white people, the politics of the bloody heirloom.
White tribalism haunts even more-nuanced writers. George Packer’s New Yorker essay “The Unconnected” is a lengthy plea for liberals to focus more on the white working class, a population that “has succumbed to the ills that used to be associated with the black urban ‘underclass.’ ” Packer believes that these ills, and the Democratic Party’s failure to respond to them, explain much of Trump’s rise. Packer offers no opinion polls to weigh white workers’ views on “elites,” much less their views on racism. He offers no sense of how their views and their relationship to Trump differ from other workers’ and other whites’.That is likely because any empirical evaluation of the relationship between Trump and the white working class would reveal that one adjective in that phrase is doing more work than the other. In 2016, Trump enjoyed majority or plurality support among every economic branch of whites. It is true that his strongest support among whites came from those making $50,000 to $99,999. This would be something more than working-class in many nonwhite neighborhoods, but even if one accepts that branch as the working class, the difference between how various groups in this income bracket voted is revealing. Sixty-one percent of whites in this “working class” supported Trump. Only 24 percent of Hispanics and 11 percent of blacks did. Indeed, the plurality of all voters making less than $100,000 and the majority making less than $50,000 voted for the Democratic candidate. So when Packer laments the fact that “Democrats can no longer really claim to be the party of working people—not white ones, anyway,” he commits a kind of category error. The real problem is that Democrats aren’t the party of white people—working or otherwise. White workers are not divided by the fact of labor from other white demographics; they are divided from all other laborers by the fact of their whiteness.
Packer’s essay was published before the election, and so the vote tally was not available. But it should not be surprising that a Republican candidate making a direct appeal to racism would drive up the numbers among white voters, given that racism has been a dividing line for the national parties since the civil-rights era. Packer finds inspiration for his thesis in West Virginia—a state that remained Democratic through the 1990s before turning decisively Republican, at least at the level of presidential politics. This relatively recent rightward movement evinces, to Packer, a shift “that couldn’t be attributed just to the politics of race.” This is likely true—the politics of race are, themselves, never attributable “just to the politics of race.” The history of slavery is also about the growth of international capitalism; the history of lynching must be seen in light of anxiety over the growing independence of women; the civil-rights movement can’t be disentangled from the Cold War. Thus, to say that the rise of Donald Trump is about more than race is to make an empty statement, one that is small comfort to the people—black, Muslim, immigrant—who live under racism’s boot.The dent of racism is not hard to detect in West Virginia. In the 2008 Democratic primary there, 95 percent of the voters were white. Twenty percent of those—one in five—openly admitted that race was influencing their vote, and more than 80 percent voted for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Four years later, the incumbent Obama lost the primary in 10 counties to Keith Judd, a white felon incarcerated in a federal prison; Judd racked up more than 40 percent of the Democratic-primary vote in the state. A simple thought experiment: Can one imagine a black felon in a federal prison running in a primary against an incumbent white president doing so well?
But racism occupies a mostly passive place in Packer’s essay. There’s no attempt to understand why black and brown workers, victimized by the same new economy and cosmopolitan elite that Packer lambastes, did not join the Trump revolution. Like Kristof, Packer is gentle with his subjects. When a woman “exploded” and told Packer, “I want to eat what I want to eat, and for them to tell me I can’t eat French fries or Coca-Cola—no way,” he sees this as a rebellion against “the moral superiority of elites.” In fact, this elite conspiracy dates back to 1894, when the government first began advising Americans on their diets. As recently as 2002, President George W. Bush launched the HealthierUS initiative, urging Americans to exercise and eat healthy food. But Packer never allows himself to wonder whether the explosion he witnessed had anything to do with the fact that similar advice now came from the country’s first black first lady. Packer concludes that Obama was leaving the country “more divided and angrier than most Americans can remember,” a statement that is likely true only because most Americans identify as white. Certainly the men and women forced to live in the wake of the beating of John Lewis, the lynching of Emmett Till, the firebombing of Percy Julian’s home, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers would disagree.

The triumph of Trump’s campaign of bigotry presented the problematic spectacle of an American president succeeding at best in spite of his racism and possibly because of it. Trump moved racism from the euphemistic and plausibly deniable to the overt and freely claimed. This presented the country’s thinking class with a dilemma. Hillary Clinton simply could not be correct when she asserted that a large group of Americans was endorsing a candidate because of bigotry. The implications—that systemic bigotry is still central to our politics; that the country is susceptible to such bigotry; that the salt-of-the-earth Americans whom we lionize in our culture and politics are not so different from those same Americans who grin back at us in lynching photos; that Calhoun’s aim of a pan-Caucasian embrace between workers and capitalists still endures—were just too dark. Leftists would have to cope with the failure, yet again, of class unity in the face of racism. Incorporating all of this into an analysis of America and the path forward proved too much to ask. Instead, the response has largely been an argument aimed at emotion—the summoning of the white working class, emblem of America’s hardscrabble roots, inheritor of its pioneer spirit, as a shield against the horrific and empirical evidence of trenchant bigotry.

Packer dismisses the Democratic Party as a coalition of “rising professionals and diversity.” The dismissal is derived from, of all people, Lawrence Summers, the former Harvard president and White House economist, who last year labeled the Democratic Party “a coalition of the cosmopolitan élite and diversity.” The inference is that the party has forgotten how to speak on hard economic issues and prefers discussing presumably softer cultural issues such as “diversity.” It’s worth unpacking what, precisely, falls under this rubric of “diversity”—resistance to the monstrous incarceration of legions of black men, resistance to the destruction of health providers for poor women, resistance to the effort to deport parents, resistance to a policing whose sole legitimacy is rooted in brute force, resistance to a theory of education that preaches “no excuses” to black and brown children, even as excuses are proffered for mendacious corporate executives “too big to jail.” That this suite of concerns, taken together, can be dismissed by both an elite economist like Summers and a brilliant journalist like Packer as “diversity” simply reveals the safe space they enjoy. Because of their identity.

WHEN BARACK OBAMA came into office, in 2009, he believed that he could work with “sensible” conservatives by embracing aspects of their policy as his own. Instead he found that his very imprimatur made that impossible. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the GOP’s primary goal was not to find common ground but to make Obama a “one-term president.” A health-care plan inspired by Romneycare was, when proposed by Obama, suddenly considered socialist and, not coincidentally, a form of reparations. The first black president found that he was personally toxic to the GOP base. An entire political party was organized around the explicit aim of negating one man. It was thought by Obama and some of his allies that this toxicity was the result of a relentless assault waged by Fox News and right-wing talk radio. Trump’s genius was to see that it was something more, that it was a hunger for revanche so strong that a political novice and accused rapist could topple the leadership of one major party and throttle the heavily favored nominee of the other.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” Trump bragged in January 2016. This statement should be met with only a modicum of skepticism. Trump has mocked the disabled, withstood multiple accusations of sexual violence (all of which he has denied), fired an FBI director, sent his minions to mislead the public about his motives, personally exposed those lies by boldly stating his aim to scuttle an investigation into his possible collusion with a foreign power, then bragged about that same obstruction to representatives of that same foreign power. It is utterly impossible to conjure a black facsimile of Donald Trump—to imagine Obama, say, implicating an opponent’s father in the assassination of an American president or comparing his physical endowment with that of another candidate and then successfully capturing the presidency. Trump, more than any other politician, understood the valence of the bloody heirloom and the great power in not being a nigger.
But the power is ultimately suicidal. Trump evinces this, too. In a recent New Yorker article, a former Russian military officer pointed out that interference in an election could succeed only where “necessary conditions” and an “existing background” were present. In America, that “existing background” was a persistent racism, and the “necessary condition” was a black president. The two related factors hobbled America’s ability to safeguard its electoral system. As late as July 2016, a majority of Republican voters doubted that Barack Obama had been born in the United States, which is to say they did not view him as a legitimate president. Republican politicians acted accordingly, infamously denying his final Supreme Court nominee a hearing and then, fatefully, refusing to work with the administration to defend the country against the Russian attack. Before the election, Obama found no takers among Republicans for a bipartisan response, and Obama himself, underestimating Trump and thus underestimating the power of whiteness, believed the Republican nominee too objectionable to actually win. In this Obama was, tragically, wrong. And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.” And in that perverse way, the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled.The American tragedy now being wrought is larger than most imagine and will not end with Trump. In recent times, whiteness as an overt political tactic has been restrained by a kind of cordiality that held that its overt invocation would scare off “moderate” whites. This has proved to be only half true at best. Trump’s legacy will be exposing the patina of decency for what it is and revealing just how much a demagogue can get away with. It does not take much to imagine another politician, wiser in the ways of Washington and better schooled in the methodology of governance—and now liberated from the pretense of antiracist civility—doing a much more effective job than Trump.It has long been an axiom among certain black writers and thinkers that while whiteness endangers the bodies of black people in the immediate sense, the larger threat is to white people themselves, the shared country, and even the whole world. There is an impulse to blanch at this sort of grandiosity. When W. E. B. Du Bois claims that slavery was “singularly disastrous for modern civilization” or James Baldwin claims that whites “have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white,” the instinct is to cry exaggeration. But there really is no other way to read the presidency of Donald Trump. The first white president in American history is also the most dangerous president—and he is made more dangerous still by the fact that those charged with analyzing him cannot name his essential nature, because they too are implicated in it.

This essay is drawn from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new book, We Were Eight Years in Power.Listen to the audio version of this article:Feature stories, read aloud: download the Audm app for your iPhone.

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………..rather not………..well….not now anyway…..

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…9 Nonthreatening Leadership Strategies For Women…..

In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent. One way to do that is to alter their leadership style to account for the (sometimes) fragile male ego.

Should men accept powerful women and not feel threatened by them? Yes. Is that asking too much? IS IT? Sorry I didn’t mean to get aggressive there. Anyhoo, here are nine nonthreatening leadership strategies for women.

When setting a deadline, ask your coworker what he thinks of doing something instead of just asking him to get it done. This makes him feel less like you’re telling him what to do and more like you care about his opinions.

When sharing your ideas, overconfidence is a killer. You don’t want your male coworkers to think you’re getting all uppity. Instead, downplay your ideas as just “thinking out loud,” “throwing something out there,” or sharing something “dumb,” “random,” or “crazy.”

Pepper your emails with exclamation marks and emojis so you don’t come across as too clear or direct. Your lack of efficient communication will make you seem more approachable.

If a male coworker steals your idea in a meeting, thank him for it. Give him kudos for how he explained your idea so clearly. And let’s face it, no one might’ve ever heard it if he hadn’t repeated it.

When you hear a sexist comment, the awkward laugh is key. Practice your awkward laugh at home, with your friends and family, and in the mirror. Make sure you sound truly delighted even as your soul is dying inside.

Men love explaining things. But when they’re explaining something you already know, it might be tempting to say “I already know that.” Instead, have the man explain it to you over and over again. It will make him feel useful and will give you some time to think about out how to avoid him in the future.

Pointing out a mistake is always risky, so it’s important to apologize for noticing the mistake and then make sure that no one thinks you’re too sure about it. People will appreciate your “hey what do I know?!” sensibilities.

When collaborating with a man, type using only one finger.  Skill and speed are very off-putting.

When all else fails, wear a mustache so everyone sees you as more manlike. This will cancel out any need to change your leadership style. In fact, you may even get a quick promotion!

Sarah Cooper is a writer, comedian, and creator of TheCooperReview.com. Her first book, “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings,” is out now. Get it here.

This article first appeared on TheCooperReview.com.

Share image by TheCooperReview.com.

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…The Rocky Mountains’ Largest Glaciers Are Melting with Little Fanfare ….

The glaciers remain some of the least understood ice sheets in North America

oneillbro Getty Images

WIND RIVER RANGE, Wyo. — Here at the roof of the Continental Divide, one of the Rocky Mountains’ largest glaciers is in retreat.

A new world is emerging in the wake of the receding ice. In a vast, glacially carved basin, where towering spires of granite dominate the skyline, a small colony of stunted Engelmann spruce has taken up residence in a pile of rocky debris, some 500 feet above the tree line. Bees flit among the yellow mountain asters dotting the boulder field at the glacier’s base. Grass grows along a stream where there was, until recently, only snow and ice.

“It’s a different place today,” Darran Wells, an outdoor education professor at Central Wyoming College, observed from a research camp near the base of the Dinwoody Glacier on a recent evening. A regular visitor to the glacier over the last two decades, Wells offered a succinct take on its evolution over his nightly meal, a dehydrated serving of shepard’s potato stew with beef.

“Every year, more grass, less snow,” he said.

The largest concentration of glaciers in the American Rocky Mountains are melting, unseen, in this remote corner of Wyoming. More than 100 glaciers cover about 10,000 acres in the Wind River Range, according to a recent study by researchers at Portland State University. No American mountain range outside Alaska and Washington is covered in more ice.

The Wind River glaciers remain some of the least understood ice sheets in North America. Researchers don’t have a firm grasp on the amount of water locked away in the alpine ice, and estimates of how much they contribute to local streams vary widely.

Answering those questions requires penetrating a rugged wilderness nearly the size of Rhode Island and climbing to elevations between 11,000 feet and 13,800 feet, where the glaciers hug the crest of the Continental Divide.

Today, a growing number of scientists are pushing into the backcountry to understand these icy reservoirs. Their concern: The Wind River glaciers are retreating just when Wyoming needs them most.

“If you haven’t had proximity to these glaciers, if you haven’t thought about where water comes from, it would be easy to understate or underestimate the implications of glacial ice loss in a state that has predominantly a semi-desert climate and certainly by contemporary climate models is going to be pretty significantly impacted by climate change,” said Jacki Klancher, a professor of environmental science at Central Wyoming College.

The Wind River Range cuts a 120-mile path across western Wyoming, rising from the wavelike sand dunes of the Red Desert in the south and terminating amid the rolling forests that ring the entrances to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in the north.

The range encompasses two national forests, three federal wilderness areas and the Wind River Indian Reservation. The mountains are popular among backpackers and climbers, but the lack of roads and the remoteness of this area mean the number of people pale in comparison with the crowds that pack Yellowstone and Grand Teton each summer.

Roughly three-quarters of the glaciers here hug the range’s eastern slope. That is where the Dinwoody sits, occupying a stark basin capped by the 13,800-foot summit of Gannett Peak, Wyoming’s tallest mountain.

When Wells first arrived here as a student on a National Outdoor Leadership School course in the late 1990s, the Dinwoody was blanketed in snow. Today, patches of bare ice blot its surface, revealing great twisting crevasses in its face. Each year, the ice climbs a little farther up the mountainside, said Wells, who at 46 maintains the trim physique of an adventure athlete.

The retreat hints at the wider challenges Wyoming faces as the climate warms. But, he said, “I think at this stage there is still a lot of denial, right. People don’t want to admit it’s a possibility because it’s not a pretty picture.”

In 1950, when researchers first measured the Dinwoody, they calculated its area at 850 acres. A follow-up study 50 years later concluded it was 540 acres.

The decline mirrors many glaciers in the range. One study in 2011 using aerial photographs concluded that many of the glaciers in Wind River lost on average 38 percent of their surface area over the latter half of the 20th century.

Glaciologists predict Glacier National Park will lose its ice sheets by 2080. The glaciers of the Cascades, the largest in the contiguous United States, are expected to hang on until roughly 2100. But there are few predictions for the future of the Dinwoody and its close neighbors.

Relatively few teams have tested the depth of the ice or examined other factors that could contribute to its demise. Both are essential to developing a prediction for how long the Dinwoody will last. It is this question Central Wyoming College researchers hope to answer.

In late August, Klancher and Wells led a team of roughly 15 undergraduates and researchers from Central Wyoming College, the University of Wyoming and the University of Redlands on their fourth summer expedition to the Dinwoody.

The trip, officially the Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition, is made possible by a five-year research permit from the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees this wilderness.

The wilderness designation means the glacier is inaccessible by helicopter or car. To reach it, the team loaded nine mules with 900 pounds of food, camping supplies, one ground-penetrating radar (the Noggin 100 MHz) — along with its batteries, cables, antenna and monitor — an incubator for snow samples, solar-powered batteries, test tubes, flow meters and other scientific instruments.

The 20-mile trip took more than two days, leading mules, professors and students 3,000 feet up and over a high alpine plateau and down several thousand feet into a valley, where they slowly weaved their way along a river in the direction of a boulder field until they finally reached the glacier’s base. From there, backpacks replaced mules, and equipment was hauled the last 2 miles over the rocks to a high-altitude research camp at roughly 11,000 feet.

The only signs of people here are the small tent sites that dot the boulder field. Small walls of piled rock ring each site, a testament to the wind that regularly rakes the basin and the ambitions of a few hearty climbers aiming for Gannett’s summit.

“If we didn’t come from the background we did, we would be using remote sensed images and studying it perhaps from a more theoretical perspective,” Klancher said one evening, bundled in a winter parka and windbreaker, the late summer sun having disappeared behind the mountains.

A former wilderness instructor, Klancher, 49, rode her mountain bike the length of the Continental Divide as a summer vacation this year.

Each morning, teams departed for the glacier, ice axes in hand and crampons strapped to their feet. One group dragged ground-penetrating radar across the ice, bouncing sonar off the bedrock below to test its depth. Another flew a kite equipped with a GoPro camera to snap images of its surface, needed to create a 3-D model of the glacier because drones are not allowed in federal wilderness areas. Still another took snow samples to measure black carbon, a component of particulate matter that absorbs sunlight and can speed glacial melt.

After the expedition, researchers will use ArcGIS, a geospatial software program, to map the glacier and compare the data with previous years.

“A lot of the water to irrigate fields for cattle comes from these glaciers and famous snowfields,” said Adam Frank, one of the Central Wyoming College students who helped measure the ice’s depths. “It’s not just trying to prove climate change is affecting the Wind River Range and the glaciers in it, but trying to get tangible data that we can use to show things are changing and changing quickly.”

His classmate, Marten Baur, framed the research in more personal terms. A year earlier, Baur, a baby-faced 22-year-old, hiked to the glacier and was struck by the beauty of the ice sheet and surrounding mountains. He resolved to join this year’s research expedition.

“Realizing my kids further on might not be able to experience this, they may not be able to strap on their crampons and ice axes and roam around on the ice fields — that’s significant,” he said.

But if the glacier is changing, Wyoming politics are not. On an August afternoon, the Wyoming Water Development Office led a tour of the Fontenelle Dam, an impoundment on the western flank of the Wind River Range where the Green River has been corralled to create a reservoir.

 

 

There, state officials discussed plans to bolster the dam, expanding its storage capacity in case an extreme drought triggers a cutback in the water supplied to municipalities and large industrial users like the Jim Bridger power plant, one of the West’s largest coal-fired facilities.

The dam is part of a wider state effort to harbor Wyoming’s limited water resources. Thus far, glaciers have played little role in that initiative.

Glacial meltwater is relatively insignificant to the state, said Harry LaBonde, director of the Wyoming Water Development Office, citing a study that found glaciers only account for 1 to 12 percent of annual stream flow in three local watersheds.

“It is not as significant as you would think,” LaBonde said. “Does it make up the surface water resource? Absolutely. But again, the Green River will not dry up as a result of no glaciers being there, if that’s ultimately what happens.”

He framed Wyoming’s efforts as a natural response to the state’s arid environment. People here have long built reservoirs to capture spring runoff for use at other times of the year. Climate change does not figure in the state’s planning efforts, he said.

“We rely on the period of record. In that period of record, you’re going to find drought periods and wet periods,” LaBonde said. “So we prefer to stay focused on this as an arid climate. Will we have droughts in the future? Absolutely.”

Meanwhile, the Dinwoody continues to melt. The glacier is transformed in late afternoon. Puddles of slush emerge out of solid ice near its base. A spiderweb of small rivers form, cutting channels in the ice and spilling into a series of glacial tarns at the mouth of the basin. The water continues downward, gaining power as it winds through the boulder field, before plunging into a river valley where it combines with runoff from the nearby Gannett Glacier to form Dinwoody Creek.

The creek cuts its way through a deep valley, arriving at Dinwoody Lake on the Wind River Indian Reservation, where it finally dumps into the Wind River, a major tributary of the Yellowstone River.

Like much of the West, the vast majority of the water here is used for irrigation, sustaining the hay and alfalfa needed to see Wyoming’s cattle herds through harsh winters. And like much of the West, most of that water comes from the snow that blankets Wyoming’s mountains in the winter and melts in the spring.

Glaciers contribute a relatively small amount of water by comparison, but they do play a stabilizing role by serving as a savings bank of sorts for the state’s water needs.

In late summer, when the last of the winter snow has melted, glacial runoff sustains the streams flowing off the Wind River. The glaciers’ importance only grows during drought, which climate scientists expect to be more frequent and severe in coming years.

One 2012 study estimated that late summer glacial contributions accounted for 23 percent to 54 percent of stream flow in several local watersheds. It also found that glaciated basins experienced less variability in stream flow than those without glaciers.

“There is a run on the savings bank. We’re not collecting interest anymore,” Klancher said. “We are dipping into the savings, and the interest we counted on for June, July, August, those hot summer months, is in great jeopardy.”

Federal officials are increasingly concerned by the glaciers’ disappearance. Forest Service officials recently began a study of the Mammoth Glacier, on the western slope, and have signed off on a field study by researchers at the University of North Dakota.

Officials at the Bureau of Land Management’s Lander field office have taken interest in Central Wyoming College’s research because it will help the bureau plan for an increasingly arid climate, said Kristin Yannone, the office’s planning and environment coordinator.

“The information we’re seeing is the glacier is changing, not in glacial terms but in immediate terms,” she said.

Few outside Wyoming are likely to be affected by the Wind River glaciers’ retreat. The meltwater does not help to feed orchards or generate electricity like the glaciers of the Cascades. They are not the prized jewel of Glacier National Park, their disappearance the subject of extensive study and concern. And while the Wind River Range is the headwaters of tributaries feeding the Colorado, Missouri and Snake rivers, glaciologists say the ice sheets’ contributions to those basins are relatively small. Their disappearance is unlikely to make a material change in downstream water flows.

“For Wyoming it’s a big deal, but for the world it’s not a big deal,” said Neil Humphrey, a glaciologist at the University of Wyoming who studied the glaciers here before turning his focus to Greenland. “If numbers of people matter, it’s not super-important.”

The Wind River glaciers are nevertheless harbingers of change. Glaciers across the West have been melting ever since the end of the Little Ice Age, a cool period in the Earth’s history that ended around the close of the 19th century.

But their decline appears to have accelerated in recent years. The Continental Glacier, one of the slower melting glaciers in the range, melted 1.6 times faster between 1999 and 2012 than the previous 30 years, according to University of North Dakota glaciologist Jeff VanLooy, who is conducting field studies of several Wind River glaciers.

The Knife Point Glacier, one of the range’s fastest retreating ice sheets, melted three times faster between 1999 and 2015 than it did between 1966 and 1999.

 

Central Wyoming College’s initial research show the Dinwoody sheds 1.3 meters of ice annually between 2006 and 2016. The ice sheet now measures as little as 2 meters at its shallowest and roughly 55 meters at its deepest.

“We’re not going to stop these glaciers from melting. They are going to melt,” VanLooy said. “It does mean we need to make adaptions to what we do in terms of water management. Agriculture and ranching are big to Wyoming. The economy may end up hurting in the future because of a lack of preparedness.”

Back at the base of the Dinwoody, Wells wondered what his students would take from the trip. Maybe they will be inspired by the beauty of this place. Maybe some will want to pursue a career in science as a result. And maybe a few will continue to study these glaciers, helping people in the semi-arid basins below prepare for the icy retreat.

But time is of the essence. Because this laboratory is disappearing.

-30-

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…SEVEN DAYS OF HEROIN : THIS IS WHAT AN EPIDEMIC LOOKS LIKE…

…Clear ……..and Present …………………Danger….

It’s a little after sunrise on the first day of another week, and Cincinnati is waking up again with a heroin problem. So is Covington. And Middletown. And Norwood. And Hamilton. And West Chester Township. And countless other cities and towns across Ohio and Kentucky.

This particular week, July 10 through 16, will turn out to be unexceptional by the dreary standards of what has become the region’s greatest health crisis.

This is normal now, a week like any other. But a terrible week is no less terrible because it is typical. When heroin and synthetic opiates kill one American every 16 minutes, there is little comfort in the routine.

There is only the struggle to endure and survive.

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MONDAY

“I just walked in and my buddy, he hasn’t been answering his phone. I believe he’s OD’d and I think he’s dead.”

7:25 A.M.

Jimmy Doherty arrives at the halfway house on Ravine Street still wearing the blue slippers he got in jail.

He came straight here after his release this morning because he thinks the program at the Pax House in Cincinnati will help him get his addiction under control.

“We’ll get you going,” says the house manager.

Doherty crushes his cigarette and sits down to fill out a form for new residents, but he’s stumped by a question about his history with drugs. It’s a long history.

“Describe all mood-altering substances?” Doherty asks.

The manager shakes his head. “Drug of choice,” he says. “Just put your drug of choice.”

Doherty nods. He turns back to the page and writes a single word.

Heroin.

9 A.M.

On some days, even before she calls their names, Judge Gwen Bender can tell why the defendants are in Courtroom A.

Their bones look as if they might poke through their skin. Their eyes are sunken, their hair a tangled mess. Some are unsteady on their feet. Others scratch at sores on their arms.

A few lean on the table in front of the judge as if it is the only thing holding them up.

“This is a heroin case?” the judge asks.

This morning, as on most mornings, one in four felony cases on this Hamilton County court docket is directly connected to heroin.

There’s a 70-year-old Army veteran who stashed a bag of syringes in a basement crawl space. A Taylor Mill woman who tried to hide needles in her vagina after shooting up. A St. Bernard woman who overdosed when a friend injected her with heroin.

The woman from St. Bernard looks confused, as if she’s unsure how she got here. She was on the floor of her friend’s house, barely breathing, less than 12 hours ago.

Now she’s standing before the judge, eyes sunken and hair tangled, leaning hard against the table.

10:22 A.M.

Tim Reagan’s radio crackles to life as he pulls his late-model sedan onto I-275.

“I’ve got him,” says one voice.

“He drove right past me,” says another.

Reagan is the agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Cincinnati. He’s on the road today with about 50 other agents and police officers.

They’re all on the tail of a man suspected of hauling two to three kilos of heroin to a potential buyer in Columbus. Each kilo, which is more than two pounds, is worth up to $300,000 on the street.

Heroin is big business, but not for the Mexican immigrant Reagan is tailing today. He’s just a suspected courier who might make $500 or so. The real money flows to the gangs that control distribution, and to the drug cartels back in Mexico.

When they finally pull him over, police rip up the floor boards and dig through the driver’s back pack. They check the bumpers and the trunk and look for secret compartments in the doors.

Nothing.

Reagan is frustrated. There have to be drugs in that car, he thinks.

The agents don’t have time to dwell on what went wrong. About 7,000 kilograms of heroin are seized in the United States every year, three times as much as a decade ago. They will be hunting someone new tomorrow.

11 A.M.

Jeremiah Dotson stands before the judge at the Hamilton County Courthouse, hands shackled behind his back.

He’s been in this spot before. Two years ago, he was charged with heroin possession. Since then, he’s missed meetings with his probation officer and failed to submit urine samples for drug testing.

Judge Melba Marsh looks over his record and tells him he has a choice between two doors: One leads to jail, the other to a treatment facility.

“Which one are you thinking you want to go through?” Marsh asks.

Dotson chooses jail.

“You’re not going to change me,” he says.

12:30 P.M.

Derrick Stewart, 26, of Lexington, Kentucky and Rikki Asher, 25, of Cynthiana, Ky., pleaded not guilty during their arraignments in Courtroom A at the Hamilton County Justice Center. According to Cincinnati police, the couple ‘admitted to shooting up heroin in the vehicle’. Their three-year-old daughter was in the car at the time.

The Enquirer/Cara Owsley

Rikki Asher and Derrick Stewart step into Courtroom A, one after the other. They were arrested two days earlier after running a red light on Gilbert Avenue. Police say they admitted to shooting heroin while Asher was driving.

A used needle was on the floor of the car.

Their 3-year-old daughter was in the back seat.

1:16 P.M.

The Clermont County Quick Response Team pulls up to a small ranch house where a couple in their 60s overdosed the night before.

The couple was given naloxone, also known as Narcan, which reverses the effects of heroin and other opiates and can save people who overdose. Both survived.

It’s the response team’s job to reach out to survivors to try to guide them to treatment.

Union Township Fire Lt. Charlie Caudill walks to the front door and knocks. He waits several minutes before a shirtless man, covered in sores, nudges open the door to see what Caudill wants.

This man is younger than the two overdose survivors. A counselor on the team thinks he’s high.

He pushes the door open just a few inches.

Team members explain why they’re there and offer to set up a time to train him to use naloxone. The man doesn’t want their help.

“I’m not the one with the problem,” he says.

1:25 P.M.

“Possible heroin overdose, woman on the corner with her eyes rolling in the back of her head.” – Police scanner call, corner of Melrose and Lincoln.

1:48 P.M.

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/video/embed/105410788?chromeless=true&disablecaption=true&placement=interactive-video

“Possible heroin overdose, subject in main area on the first floor between shelves.” – Police scanner call, Covedale branch library.

2:59 P.M.

“Overdose in a gold vehicle, other subjects are attempting to perform CPR, last seen driving at high speeds.” – Police scanner call, no location given.

3:17 P.M.

Dispatcher: “Cincinnati 911.”

Caller: “Hello! Yes, please, sir, my brother and his friend overdosed in my car. I picked them up at McDonald’s and they overdosed in my car.”

“Where you at?”

“I’m by the Rapid Run Park.”

“Are they breathing?”

“Yes.”

“If they’re breathing, do not do CPR.”

“But what if they’re blue?”

“We’re sending the paramedics.”

“OK. Please try to hurry.”

7 P.M.

The meeting begins, as it always does, with the women taking turns sharing how long it’s been since they’ve used drugs.

“I have 65 days.”

“I have 41 days.”

“I have 20 days.”

Tonight, the two dozen women at the WRAP House in Covington are waiting to hear from a young mother who quit heroin three years ago. Some of the women here have been using drugs most of their adult lives. Some are pregnant. Some have children.

To them, three years is a lifetime.

The young mother sits in the middle of the group with her curly haired daughter on her lap. The girl is 3 now. After she was born, the woman left the hospital to buy heroin. Today, she’s working two jobs, has an apartment and is trying to regain full custody of her child.

Then she asks the question about her recovery that she knows they’re all thinking.

“Is it hard?” she says.

“Yeah, it’s hard.”

7:54 P.M.

The Lost Boys – Part 1: Two sons, two moms, one week

Dispatcher: Campbell County 911. What is your emergency?

Caller: “Yes, um, … I just walked in and my buddy, he hasn’t been answering his phone. I believe he’s OD’d and I think he’s dead.”

Minutes later, Kim Hill’s phone rings. It’s her son Tommy’s girlfriend. She’s hysterical, sobbing, and Kim can’t make out the words.

It sounds like she’s saying her son overdosed. But that can’t be right. Tommy has been doing great. He’s been free of heroin for a year now. He goes to meetings. He’s a mentor to others struggling with addiction.

She hands the phone to a friend. “I think she’s telling me my baby’s dead,” Kim says.

She races to the car and drives to Tommy’s apartment in Newport, where he’s been living on his own for a few months. There are cops on the sidewalk. Someone from the coroner’s office is standing nearby.

This can’t be happening, she thinks. Her baby boy, the son she still calls “Tom Tom” even though he’s now 34, can’t be dead.

She watches the paramedics carry a body bag out the front door and down the concrete steps to the sidewalk. The body is heavy. One of the paramedics loses his grip.

Kim can tell the body inside is hunched over and stiff, as if he’d been dead for hours before anyone found him. As if he were still face down on his bed, alone for God knows how long, a needle in his arm.

Kim screams at them.

“That’s my child! He is not a piece of garbage!”


Later that night, Lizzie Hamblin logs into Facebook and sees a post from Kim about Tommy. Their sons grew up together, played together.

And battled heroin addiction together.

Lizzie’s son, Scotty Hamblin, walks into the apartment and she can tell he knows about Tommy.

Tommy was more than Scotty’s friend. He was a role model. He sponsored Scotty, 24, in a sober living program, and counseled him as he struggled to stay off heroin.

Lizzie hugs her son. He’s cold and clammy, sweating through his white T-shirt. Something isn’t right.

He’s using again, she thinks.

END OF DAY

TUESDAY

“Please don’t let this destroy you.”

7:40 A.M.

The parking lot at the NKY Med Clinic in Covington is bustling. About 1,200 people come here every day for a dose of methadone, a drug that can stabilize brains rewired by heroin.

One man walks toward the glass doors at the clinic’s entrance with a sleeping baby on his shoulder and a girl in pajamas at his side.

Two women with little boys follow a few minutes later.

Then a man in a business suit.

And a woman in a waitress uniform.

And a young man walking his dog.

And five pregnant jail inmates in orange and white stripes shuffling single file from a van to the entrance, wrists shackled, hands resting on their bellies.

Pregnant inmates are led into the Northern Kentucky Med Clinic in Covington where they receive methadone and counseling. Medication assisted treatment is standard care for women battling addiction to protect the fetus.

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

9:19 A.M.

A 36-year-old woman paces the kitchen at Tamar’s Place in Over-the-Rhine, waiting for her frozen pizza to finish cooking in the microwave. She’s in a good mood this morning, but it may not last long.

She’ll start going through withdrawal soon unless she gets some heroin.

Sarah came to Tamar’s to clean up and grab a bite to eat. It’s a safe place for prostitutes and women addicted to heroin, but she knows she can’t stay.

Sarah talks to a homeless woman in the kitchen while eating her pizza. The woman says she’s lost two children to heroin in just the past year. She describes waking up in an abandoned building one morning to find her 25-year-old daughter at her side, cold and dead.

Sarah shakes her head. Her arms are covered with sores and needle tracks. She’s been using heroin since she was 17, almost half her life.

“I’m tired of this shit,” Sarah says.

Tomorrow, she tells the woman, she will go to a treatment center. Tomorrow, she will change her life.

Minutes later, tiny bumps appear on Sarah’s arms. It’s gooseflesh, a symptom of withdrawal.

She grabs her phone and heads for the door, racing down two flights of stairs. Once she’s outside, Sarah calls a man she refers to as her “sugar daddy” and asks him to wire money to a nearby Western Union.

Sarah needs a fix.

11 A.M.

The Lost Boys – Part 2

Kim Hill usually looks forward to the call from Tommy’s brother, Devlin. Not today.

Her oldest son, who is doing time for assault in a Kentucky prison, checks in with her every morning around this time. He doesn’t know yet that Tommy is dead.

Kim tells him.

“Please don’t let this destroy you,” Devlin says.


Lizzie Hamblin hasn’t heard from her son, Scotty, since he walked out the night before. She’s certain he’s using heroin again.

“Scott Hamblin Jr. I need to hear from you,” Lizzie posts on her Facebook page.

She calls him, too. And texts. Each message is more desperate than the last.

“Call me.”

“I need you.”

“I need to hear you are alright.”

12:17 P.M.

Police approach a parked car in Cheviot and find a 33-year-old West Chester woman about to inject heroin into her right arm. She’s holding a syringe filled with the drug and has three other needles in the car.

There’s a man in the car with her. He has a used syringe tucked behind his left ear.

1:10 P.M.

Kacie Rolfes walks into the conference room at the psychiatric hospital and takes a seat across the table from a 7-year-old girl.

The girl is wearing pink shorts and a bright blue T-shirt that reads, “I’m a Dream Believer.”

“Do you know why you’re in this situation?” Rolfes asks.

“Because my mom and dad did drugs,” the girl says.

Rolfes is a Hamilton County social worker. She made the five-hour drive today to the Belmont Pines psychiatric hospital in Youngstown to check on the girl, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric problems.

The girl is from Colerain Township, but she hasn’t been home since she found her mother slumped over the toilet last year, high on heroin and barely conscious. Her father died of an overdose earlier this year.

Children’s services placed the girl with a foster family, but that ended when she tried to drown her foster sister in a YMCA swimming pool. After that, the girl’s doctors sent her here for more intensive treatment.

“Do you need me to do anything for you?” Rolfes asks.

The girl says she’d like Rolfes to bring some things from home.

“I want the picture of me, my brother, sister and mom with my dad,” she says. “A necklace, too. It has a cross on it. My dad gave it to me before he died.”

Rolfes promises to do her best to find the photo and the necklace. If she can, she’ll bring them to their next visit.

When they finish the meeting, the girl leans on the table, looking tired and bored, ready to move on to whatever comes next. Rolfes pats her back softly.

“Take care of yourself, kiddo,” she says.

3 P.M.

Jeff Daunt bounces the baby girl in his arms and makes the kind of goofy face only someone holding a baby can pull off.

“Hi!” he says. “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii there!”

The baby looks up, eyes wide, and gives him a big, toothless grin. This is good, Daunt thinks. This is progress.

Not long ago, Daunt and his wife, Sandy, worried the baby and her 2-year-old sister would never connect to people this way. The children were distant, detached. For months, the baby cried whenever someone tried to hold her.

The Daunts adopted the oldest girl last year and hope to do the same with the baby. They say both kids are the children of heroin users here in Butler, Ky.

Today, the Daunts brought the kids to FIREhouse Ministries for a children’s program. They’re surrounded by a dozen or so other kids who are coloring and playing games. The 2-year-old is right in the middle of it. The baby, still smiling, is taking it all in.

Sandy and Jeff are glad to see them so engaged. Though they have no family relation to the girls, the Daunts, whose biological children are grown, decided they had to help.

They’d looked on for months as the girls’ parents, their neighbors, left the children strapped in car seats for hours, or dropped them off with friends for days at a time. Sandy remembers hearing the girls cry and cry inside the trailer where they lived, wondering why no one picked them up and held them and told them everything would be OK.

Someone should be holding those babies, she’d tell herself.

Someone should do something.

10:06 P.M.

An Indiana man is arrested in Avondale after his mother called police to say she caught him using heroin in her car. Police find him in the passenger seat of the car with a needle containing heroin.

END OF DAY

WEDNESDAY

“I need my kids more than they need me.”

6:06 A.M.

“Good morning!”

Officer Tim Eppstein’s greeting wakes about a half dozen homeless people dozing beneath the I-71 overpass on Butler Street in Cincinnati. Their heads poke out from under dirty blankets, eyes squinting to see who’s there.

“You’re not under arrest,” Eppstein assures them. He’s making the rounds at Cincinnati homeless camps to hand out eviction notices.

As the residents of the makeshift camps slowly get to their feet, Eppstein encourages those addicted to heroin to get some help. He can see by the orange syringe caps littering the ground that many of them need it.

The brightening morning light reveals some familiar faces. Terri Byrd, 26, is here with her boyfriend. Eppstein knows she’s got warrants out for her arrest, mostly on charges of carrying drugs and syringes.

He explains to Byrd that he has to arrest her.

“I’m sorry,” Eppstein says.

The handcuffs snap shut, and tears burst from Byrd’s bright blue eyes.

Her boyfriend stuffs their belongings into a backpack and turns to his girlfriend, now slouched in the caged backseat of the police car.

He blows her a kiss. Then starts walking down Third Street, disappearing into the crowd of people making their way to work.

10 A.M.

The Lost Boys – Part 3

Kim Hill arrives at the Don Catchen & Sons funeral home in Covington to see her dead son.

Catchen buried her parents a few years back. She trusts him to do his best for Tommy, but he warns her it will be a challenge. Tommy was dead for most of the day before his friend found him and made that 911 call.

“All you are going to see is his face,” Catchen says.

Kim walks downstairs to the mortuary. Tommy’s face is purple and swollen. She thinks it makes his red hair stand out even more.

Kim lies across his chest.

“Why would you do this?” she says, over and over. “Why would you do this, Tom Tom? Why, when you were doing so good?”


Lizzie Hamblin’s phone pings and she quickly takes a look at the text message. Finally, she thinks, it’s Scotty.

“You don’t give a (expletive) about ur son mom,” the message begins.

Any doubt she had about him using heroin again is gone. This is what the drug does to him. He’s hurting, so he hurts her.

11:30 A.M.

The green Saturn Ion leaves a trail of smoke and sparks as it weaves around traffic on I-471 in Fort Thomas.

A police cruiser pulls up behind and the Saturn veers across the highway, stopping on the emergency strip. Officer Zac Rohlfer sees a lot of this. He’s a member of the Heroin Interdiction Team, which targets dealers and users on the highway.

Rohlfer walks toward the car and tells the two men inside to get out. Michael Fryman and Terry Ray Caseltine emerge slowly from the car, both wearing basketball shorts, tank tops and flip-flops with socks.

Rohlfer and other officers question the men while they search the car. Both seem indifferent, barely paying attention.

The officers find two syringes, one empty and one filled with heroin. Rohlfer explains why he’s arresting them, but he has a question for Fryman before putting him in the police cruiser.

Why would he drive a car after using heroin?

Fryman shrugs his shoulders, and a sheepish grin crosses his face.

“Because I like to drive.”

1:42 P.M.

Ali, 25, talks about her need to get some money for fentanyl, her preferred drug, as she stand along West McMicken. Sores on her neck are from the heroin/ fentanyl use.

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

Ali walks along McMicken Avenue in Over-the-Rhine, looking for someone willing to pay her for sex.

It’s what she does to get money to buy fentanyl, and to keep a roof over her head. She’s 25 and addicted to the synthetic opiate. She used to take heroin, but now she prefers the more powerful and more dangerous synthetic.

She’s having trouble finding someone to pick her up on this steamy afternoon.

Ali already has changed her dress today. She’s wearing a metallic-studded, purple mini dress. She knows that sometimes her customers want someone pretty. Other times, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Tall and fine-boned, Ali could be a model. But she is emaciated. She has bruises on her neck from shooting up.

She runs a hand through her long, thick hair, grasps it and lifts it from her shoulders before letting it fall back down. Then she does it again. She’s getting anxious. Withdrawal symptoms are starting to set in and Ali thinks she might vomit on the sidewalk if she doesn’t get a fix.

Ali darts across the street, vanishes for a few minutes and returns with her drug in hand. She hides behind a couple of trash cans and uses it.

About 15 minutes later, she’s back, feeling better, walking the street in the hot summer sun.

2:36 P.M.

Amy Parker is talking about accountability to a roomful of people trying to recover from heroin addiction.

She knows better than most that this is a tough sell.

“It requires you to be responsible,” she says. “It requires you to be honest.”

Heads nod in agreement, but Parker is wary. She quit heroin almost five years ago and she remembers how she’d do and say anything to get by, to get money, to get more heroin.

It took her years and more relapses than she can recall to live drug-free. But she did. She got medicine and treatment. She got a job, met a good guy, renewed her relationship with her daughter and had a baby.

Now Parker is here, at Brightview treatment center in Colerain Township, working as a peer counselor with about a dozen people who are where she used to be: Walking the line between sobriety and relapse.

On the drive home, less than an hour later, Parker spots one of the group members in a parking lot. As she sits at a stop light, Parker watches the woman sidle up to a nice car, lean into an open window and walk away with her fist clenched, as if holding something tightly.

Parker’s heart sinks. She’s seen this before. She’s done this before, back when she was using.

She knows what that clenched fist conceals.

3:11 P.M.

Dispatcher: “Cincinnati 911, what is the address of your emergency?”

Caller: “Hatmaker … it’s the school parking lot. It’s like an emergency. I think he overdosed.”

“Is he breathing?”

“Yeah, but he’s like, ahhhhhrrrrrrrrgh, like he’s growling or something.”

“You’re not sure if he’s breathing?”

“He’s breathing. He’s out. He’s passed out. I think he overdosed.”

4:08 P.M.

The woman begins to cry as she tells the social worker about her conversation today with her kids.

Her oldest sons are 7 and 8 years old. They just passed their swimming tests, and one of them won an award at school for being kind to others. Her 3-year-old girl had a big day, too.

“Mom, I ate an apple,” she’d told her.

The woman is locked up at a Talbert House treatment center and her kids are in a foster home three hours away. She’s been separated from her four children since the day last August when she and her husband shot heroin and overdosed at a family picnic.

“I need my kids,” she says, still crying. “I need my kids more than they need me.”

7:54 P.M.

The paramedics are waiting for Doyle Burke when he walks into the Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.

As the chief investigator for the Warren County coroner’s office, he knows these guys pretty well. They’re the ones who try to revive overdose victims, and Burke is the one who collects the bodies when they can’t.

He’s here tonight to collect a 56-year-old Middletown resident. The paramedics found her unresponsive near her TV. They tried to save her with naloxone, but it was too late.

“Was she ever conscious enough to say anything?” Burke asks.

She wasn’t, they tell him.

They look defeated, and Burke understands why. As a former police detective in Dayton, he took tough cases personally, too. He learned long ago that sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much time you invest in someone.

So Burke looks at the paramedics and says the only thing he can think to say.

“You did everything you could do.”

8:35 P.M.

The police officers and medics find the man on the floor of the Speedway bathroom on West Main Street in Newark, sprawled next to the toilet, head under the sink.

They’ve tried spraying naloxone into his nostrils, but it’s had no effect. He’s not breathing. They’re running out of time.

One of the medics takes a drill out of his bag and turns it on. It whirs like a dental drill as he pushes it into the man’s shin bone, trying to create a more direct path for the naloxone to enter the bloodstream.

The medics install a stent and start pushing in doses of the life-saving drug.

The man rouses and tries to stand.

“Lay down, buddy. You overdosed,” a medic says. “We just brought you back to life.”

Later, at the hospital, the man hops off the gurney and runs outside, the stent still embedded in his leg.

END OF DAY

THURSDAY

“Taxpayers are paying for this crisis, but they didn’t create this crisis.”

6:16 A.M.

“Good morning Zachary Ziehm I just wanted to say I love you.” – Facebook post by Tami George of Crestview Hills, whose son, Zachary, died of a heroin and fentanyl overdose in 2016.

8:22 A.M.

Subject: Desperate need of help

My family is in desperate need of help. Both my fiancé and I have a substance abuse problem. We have two children one we are about to lose to the state due to our problems. we’ve battled with these addictions most of our lives. We love our daughter and we have tried so hard … I know if we could get away from our area and the poor influences we could succeed and keep this family together. please please help us. – A post on the website of Transitions, Inc., a Northern Kentucky treatment center.

9:47 A.M.

“The taxpayers are paying for this crisis, but they didn’t create this crisis.” – Clermont County Commissioner David Painter, announcing a lawsuit that claims wholesale pharmaceutical distributors fueled the heroin epidemic.

11:07 A.M.

Stephanie Gaffney is cuddling her baby when the nurse practitioner walks into the examining room.

“She got so big!” says the nurse, Patsy Uebel.

Elliana, who turns eight months old today, is here for a checkup at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She’s a patient at a special clinic that treats babies for neonatal abstinence syndrome, which occurs when babies are born to mothers addicted to heroin.

The infants can suffer tremors, sleeplessness, seizures and other withdrawal symptoms.

Elliana gurgles and wobbles a bit when Uebel sits her on the examining table. As she checks out the baby, Uebel quizzes Gaffney on Elliana’s progress.

“Is she holding things?”

“She takes stuff and then drops it out of her chair,” Gaffney says. “She looks at it, then she looks at me and laughs.”

“Good,” Uebel says.

The clinic’s goal is to monitor the babies, but also to support the mothers. Many, like Gaffney, used heroin and other opiates for years.

Gaffney, 28, quit cold turkey after learning she was pregnant. She’s living now with the baby at First Step Home, a treatment center in Walnut Hills. They plan to move into an apartment together soon.

After years of addiction, Gaffney’s goals are modest. She wants to raise her child in a normal home. She wants a normal life.

Uebel finishes the examination. “She looks real, real good,” she says.

Gaffney is relieved. She scoops Elliana into her arms and takes her appointment card for her next visit to the clinic in December.

“See you then,” she says.

(Ten days later, Gaffney is dead from a heroin overdose.)

11:53 A.M.

Scarlett Hudson is on a mission. Her nonprofit, the Women of Alabaster Ministries, Inc., has been on West McMicken for almost two years. It’s faith based and assists women caught in human trafficking and struggling with addiction. Hudson often drives the women to appointments. The women know they can call Hudson and she’ll come. Twice a week, she also does outreach ministry on the streets in Over-the-Rhine and Covington. In the building, women can get food, shower, a nap, clothes and see a nurse once a week. But most important, Hudson says, is not judging what these women are going through.

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

Scarlet Hudson pulls over when she spots the woman in fuzzy slippers walking along West Pike Street in Covington.

Hudson, known around town as “Momma Scarlet,” is with Women of Alabaster Ministries, a group that helps prostitutes with drug addictions. Many of them, like the woman in the fuzzy slippers, are addicted to heroin.

Today, Hudson packed 20 hamburgers from McDonald’s and plastic bags filled with toothpaste, shampoo, wet wipes and other toiletries.

She hands out the food and supplies because the women need them, and because she wants them to know someone cares.

Each bag comes with one of Hudson’s “Momma Scarlet” business cards bearing her phone number.

The woman in the slippers opens one of the bags. “Oooooooh!” she says, smiling.

She’s 53 and a long-time heroin user. Hudson encourages her to give up the street life.

“When you’re ready, sweetie, we’ll help you find a way.”

12:30 P.M.

Despite a steady drizzle, the neighbors gather in the parking lot to gawk as the cops and medics rush inside.

The lot in front of the Middletown apartment complex is small, so there isn’t much room. A rental sign out front says, “Mature Adults — $400.”

After several minutes inside, a police officer walks out of the building, smiling broadly.

“Hallelujah!” she says. “Narcan works!”

They’d just used the drug to save someone who’d overdosed on heroin. A woman in a purple shirt emerges from the apartment soon after. She’s disheveled with stringy blond hair, walking unsteadily and looking around, as if in an unfamiliar place.

A medic keeps his hand on her elbow as she makes her way to the fire truck.

“Big step,” he says, leading her inside.

2 P.M.

The needle exchange van pulls to a stop alongside a vacant building in Middletown, out of sight from passersby on the road.

Two women hop out and set up a large blue umbrella to hide the faces of clients. They run the Cincinnati Exchange Project like a covert operation: For the next hour or so, drug users will anonymously drop off used needles and walk away with new ones.

The goal is to prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other viruses that thrive when drug users share needles.

It quickly becomes a popular stop. Skinny young men. Middle-aged women in yoga pants. A guy in a lawn care truck.

One by one, they slip behind the blue umbrella, emerging moments later, new needles in hand.

4:28 P.M.

Dispatcher: “Cincinnati police and fire. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Yes, I’m currently at the Burger King on Glenway and there’s somebody passed out in the women’s bathroom … Yeah, she’s OD’d.”

“Are you sure it’s a drug overdose?”

“Yes, the needle was right by her arm.”

8:30 P.M.

Brandon McCormick finds a seat in the back of the conference room and waits for the others to arrive.

It’s his first meeting with the “Bedtime Breakfast Club,” a support group at Dorman Products in Warsaw, Ky.

McCormick, 32, is new to the auto parts supplier and to the group. He was worried about coming because he thought it might be held against him, but he was more worried about trying to stay off heroin on his own.

“I’ve been on pills and heroin for the better part of the last seven years,” he tells the group.

He hasn’t used drugs in a month, he says, but he knows he’s not out of the woods. He tells them he thinks about using every day, multiple times a day. He’s afraid of what he might do next week when he cashes his first paycheck and has some money to spend.

“I have nobody to talk to,” McCormick says.

The group leader tells him he’s wrong.

“Now you have a whole big ol’ family,” he says.

10:30 P.M.

The Lost Boys – Part 4

Kim Hill searches through the boxes filled with her son’s belongings, unsure what she’s looking for. There’s a box for Tommy’s clothes, sneakers and hats. There’s a box for his cologne.

She can smell him on the clothes he’ll never wear again, and on the green comforter from the bed he’ll never return home to sleep in.

Kim decides to take the comforter home with her.

She will hold it close tonight, in her own bed, while she tries again to sleep. And she will think, “This is what is left of my child.”

END OF DAY

FRIDAY

“She looked bad. She didn’t look like my mom.”

8:01 A.M.

“This has been a crazy light week for ODs.” – Andrea Hatten, chief administrator for the Hamilton County coroner’s office, in an email to law enforcement and the media. So far this week, there have been at least 96 overdoses and 10 deaths in Greater Cincinnati.

10:34 A.M.

“This is a heroin run.” – Police scanner call regarding ambulance taking someone to Mercy West Hospital.

11:08 A.M.

The door swings open and Tammy Isbel’s two children run to her.

“Give mommy a kiss!” she says, arms enveloping the kids. “A big hug, a big hug.”

Isbel is here at the Family Nurturing Center to celebrate her son’s birthday. Bentley will be 6 in a few days, but she won’t be able to have a party at home with him and his little sister, 3-year-old Bailee.

The children are in the custody of Hamilton County children’s services because Isbel recently relapsed and overdosed on heroin. She’s struggled with addiction for 16 years. The only way she sees the kids now is through supervised visits like this one at the center.

The center is divided into 35 family visitation areas, each 24-by-24 feet. A camera records everything and a social worker watches and listens.

Still, Isbel does her best to make the room feel like home. She and the kids’ dad, Eric Inabnitt, decorated with streamers and balloons. They brought pizza and chips for the kids and a Batman birthday cake for Bentley.

The kids laugh and tear open presents. About an hour into the party, the social worker says: “OK, you guys have a half an hour.”

The family quickly poses for pictures. They hug and kiss and say goodbye. And when the kids say they need to use the bathroom, Isbel takes them by the hand and leads them out of the room. They laugh and squirm.

“Oh no,” she says. “You are not getting away from me.”

11:15 A.M.

“Three white males just sold heroin. Should be a large amount of heroin in the vehicle.”– Police scanner call about vehicle heading north on I-71.

11:44 A.M.

“Prostitute and possible heroin users present in apartment.” – Police scanner call about possible break-in at home in North Avondale.

NOON

The Lost Boys – Part 5

Lizzie Hamblin pulls a plastic bag filled with photographs from her purse and hands it to Kim Hill.

They sit together on a couch in Kim’s living room, trying to pick which photos to use in the collage they’re making for Kim’s son’s funeral.

There’s one of Tommy and his brother at Easter. Another of Tommy at Christmas.

“I want copies of that,” Kim says.

“You’ll get them,” Lizzie says.

They’ve been friends for so long that many of these memories are shared. Kim asks if Lizzie remembers how people would think Tommy was a girl when he was little because his hair was so long.

Lizzie smiles and they laugh together on the couch, still staring at the photos in their hands.

12:40 P.M.

A 35-year-old woman in a blue tank top and yoga pants collapses on the floor of the public restroom at Findlay Market. A syringe loaded with heroin is at her side when a shopper pushes open the door and finds her, struggling to breathe.

Police and medics are called, but a woman at the market takes action first. She has naloxone packs in her purse and administers the drug before medics arrive.

The woman regains consciousness. Medics take her to the hospital.

1:05 P.M.

Janie Foxx sits at the kitchen table of her Middletown home and imagines the funeral she would like to have for her sons.

Her youngest son, Kevin, died in 2014 from an infection he got using dirty needles. Her oldest, Darrell, overdosed on heroin and died last summer. She keeps their ashes in two black, shoebox-sized containers on a shelf in her family room.

A candle and photos of the boys stand nearby on the shelf. But Foxx wants to do better for them.

She wants to have a memorial service where people could remember her boys as they were before heroin turned their lives to ash. She wants to release white doves and find a nice place to spread their remains.

Foxx is 70, though, and her husband is sick with cancer. They have bills. More money going out than coming in.

So Foxx sits at her kitchen table, drinking coffee reheated from this morning, planning a funeral she may never see.

2:33 P.M.

It’s 86 degrees in Piatt Park when the middle-aged man passes out on a bench in front of Café de Paris.

A bike cop spots him and calls for paramedics. He shoots naloxone into the man’s nostrils, but it doesn’t work.

“He don’t hurt nobody. He’s my friend,” a bystander says.

“He’s drunk,” says another.

No one else pays much attention. Men in business suits walk by. A woman pushes a stroller.

When paramedics show up, they insert an IV and give him another naloxone dose. This time, the man rouses. The medics tell him he should go to the hospital, but he ignores them.

He gets to his feet and slowly walks away.

3:18 P.M.

Bree Schreck, a case worker with South Central Ohio Child Protective Services, runs her hand through a young client’s hair as she tells her how much she likes the new bright red color. Schreck carries a caseload of a 23 families and must meet with each one at least once a month. Photo shot Friday 14,2017.

The Gazette/Matthew Berry

Bree Schreck walks around the girl’s bedroom, checking out the bright butterfly stickers on the ceiling and the lava lamp on the night stand.

Schreck, a children’s services caseworker, is visiting the 12-year-old girl at her aunt’s house in Chillicothe, where she’s been staying for months because her mom is addicted to heroin.

The girl seems to be doing well. She’s eager to show off her hair, which she’s dyed bright red and braided, like a crown. Shiny bracelets dangle from her wrist and her room is as neat as it is colorful.

But her mood turns when Schreck asks her about the last time she saw her mom. It was in court, the girl says quietly, eyes fixed on the floor.

“How was that?”

“She didn’t look good. She looked bad,” the girl says. “She didn’t look like my mom.”

4:19 P.M..

Dispatcher: “Butler County 911, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “Yeah, I got a possible overdose.”

“Do you know this person?”

“Yeah, it’s my son.”

“Is he awake right now?”

“No.”

“Is he breathing?”

“No … Well, yes. Lowly. I can’t see his chest rising up and down or anything.”

“You probably need to start CPR.”

7:30 P.M.

“It made me crazy, so insanely hating everything.

I tried to change the pain. I cannot take it.

I’m breaking down, hoping the next shot of dope I took

Would take me down.”

– Aaron Young raps at the Community Life Church recovery block party in Mount Healthy about his recovery from heroin addiction.

8:36 P.M.

Dispatcher: “What is the address of your emergency?”

Caller: (Gives address in Fairfield Township) “She looks like she’s overdosing. The girl just drove off and left her.”

“She dropped her off at the house?”

“She just pulled up and put her out of the car. We need to hurry, please!”

“Is she breathing at all?”

“I don’t know. You need to hurry.”

8:50 P.M.

The 24-year-old woman is wearing a green jumpsuit with silver buttons that barely cover her pregnant belly when she walks into the booking area of the Richland County jail in Mansfield.

She’s starting to experience withdrawal symptoms, which are dangerous to her baby, so corrections officers are going to send her to the hospital.

One of the officers locks a chain to her ankle and another to her hands, across her belly.

“Try not to put it on too tight,” the woman says.

She sits to answer some medical questions, rocking back and forth. She taps her fingers on the chain. Tink, tink, tink.

“How often do you use heroin during the pregnancy?” the medic asks.

“Every day,” she says.

END OF DAY

SATURDAY

“This is a war. There are casualties.”

8:30 A.M.

Gary Moore steps to the podium at the Boone County Sheriff’s office and looks over the crowd.

About 80 people are here, preparing to hand out thousands of pamphlets and door hangers packed with information about addiction and treatment. Some wear T-shirts proclaiming “NKY Hates Heroin,” or “Hope over Heroin.”

Moore, the county’s judge-executive, asks for a show of hands from anyone who’s been touched by the heroin crisis. Nearly every hand goes up.

Then he turns to the few people without hands in the air.

“You are touched by it,” he tells them. “You just don’t know it.”

11:15 A.M.

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/video/embed/105412038?chromeless=true&disablecaption=true&placement=interactive-video

Cars skid and swerve wildly on I-75, near the Western Hills Viaduct. Two slam into a semi-truck and the rest of the cars stop in the middle of the highway.

Horns honk. Tempers flare. Traffic comes to a standstill on the region’s busiest interstate.

Motorists get out of their cars to see if they can help. One peers into the window of a black Chevrolet and sees a woman sitting on a man’s lap in the driver’s seat. The man is turning blue and the woman is tapping on the window, trying to escape the car as she loses consciousness.

Paramedics arrive moments later and revive them both.

Police charge the driver, Kevin Dwayne Pearson, with operating a vehicle under the influence of heroin.

2 P.M.

Becky Neal stands with a small group of protesters, holding a sign bearing the image of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.

“Have a heart! Carry Narcan! Save Lives,” it says.

She’s part of a protest against Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones, who won’t let his deputies carry Narcan. He’s the only sheriff in southwest Ohio whose department doesn’t use it. Two doses of Narcan cost about $75.

Across the street from Neal, counter-protesters gather to support Jones. They carry very different signs.

“Police are Not Doctors.”

“Heroin Addicts Can Buy Their Own Narcan.”

As TV cameras swarm, one of Jones’ supporters sums up the attitude of his crowd. “This is a war,” he says. “There are casualties.”

3:53 P.M.

An 11-year-old girl dials 911. She can’t wake up her dad. Neither can her brother.

“Are you there, sweetheart?” the dispatcher asks.

“Me and my brother’s here.”

She tells the dispatcher she can’t get her dad up. He’s been like this since last night. He snores, but they cannot wake him.

“I’m afraid that he’s gonna wake up and get mad that I called you guys. But I’m just trying, because I don’t want him to die.”

The two stay on the line, waiting for police and paramedics to show up. But the father’s girlfriend arrives first and takes the phone.

“Oh my God!” the woman yells.

“He’s turning purple!”

Police and paramedics arrive and begin treating the father for an opiate overdose. The little girl takes back the phone.

“You did a great job of calling, OK?” the dispatcher tells the girl.

She’s sobbing, but manages to answer.

“You’re welcome.”

5 P.M.

The Lost Boys – Part 6

Lizzie Hamblin’s phone keeps buzzing while she gets ready for her cousin’s wedding. The text messages quickly fill up the screen.

“How could you call yourself a mother?”

“You are a rat.”

“Stay out of my life.”

It’s her son, still lashing out. She wants to talk to Scotty, to see him, but she doesn’t respond. Not to messages like these.

Lizzie finishes getting dressed and drives to the wedding in Warsaw, Ky. She decides it will be good for her to get away for a few hours, to be where no one is talking about Scotty or Tommy or heroin.

7:43 P.M.

“Happy Birthday in Heaven.” – Facebook post from Kimberly Wright, in memory of Nicholas Specht, who died of a heroin overdose in Fort Thomas in 2013.

8 P.M.

The sun cascades through the enormous oak trees in Maureen Sharib’s front yard as her grandchildren drop into the grass and roll down the hill, giggling most of the way.

Sharib can hear their laughter from the back deck, where she’s sipping lemonade and watching the sun set.

Sometimes, Sharib wonders how they can be so happy. Jaxon is 4 and Brianna is 9 and they have plenty of reasons not to be. Their mom, Natalie Bauer, overdosed and died in January after a decade of battling an addiction to heroin and painkillers.

Sharib, Natalie’s mom, is raising Brianna now, and Sharib’s sister is raising Jaxon. They’re doing their best to provide safe and happy homes, but it’s hard.

Some nights, Brianna will cry out, “I want my mommy! I want my mommy!” Some nights, she climbs into the closet and digs out an old framed photograph of her mom that Sharib hides away, for fear it will upset the kids.

The children will spend the night together, as they do most weekends, here at Sharib’s house in Mount Lookout. They go to bed around 9:30, but Brianna keeps getting up and coming back into the living room.

She finally climbs onto her grandmother’s lap. Sharib strokes her hair and kisses her forehead until Brianna closes her eyes.

END OF DAY

SUNDAY

“There are no perfect people. It’s important to understand we all make mistakes.”

10:35 A.M.

“There are no perfect people. If you think you’re perfect, think again, because you’re not. It’s important to understand that we all make mistakes.” – Pastor Troy Gray in a sermon at Zion Baptist Church in Chillicothe, which runs a program to help men after addiction or incarceration.

3:30 P.M.

Covington paramedics find the woman on the floor of a flop house on Howell Street, barely breathing.

Her name is Gracie and they aren’t sure about her age. She’s in pretty bad shape. A neighbor said he gave her three doses of naloxone before the cops arrived. The paramedics are hooking her up to an IV to give her more.

“Gracie? Wake up, Gracie,” one of them says, kneeling next to her.

They rub her chest and continue setting up the IV. They talk about the possibility she took something even worse than heroin, like carfentanil, a synthetic opiate that’s blamed for a growing number of overdoses.

“Either she got a new dealer, or her dealer hosed her,” a paramedic says.

“Gracie? Gracie? Gracie? Want to wake up?”

She gasps and moves her arm.

“Gracie, wake up.”

She moves again and jerks her arm. They warn her to watch the IV line.

“I’m fine,” she says, sleepily.

They ask her to sit up, and she does. “Thank you,” she says.

The cops and paramedics laugh, relieved she’s going to make it. “You’re welcome,” one says.

They tell her they’re going to take her to the hospital, but she doesn’t want to go. She keeps saying she’s fine, that she doesn’t do drugs. Maybe, she says, she just drank too much alcohol and passed out.

They tell her naloxone doesn’t work on alcohol, only on heroin or a synthetic opiate.

“Gracie, you overdosed.”

“No, I didn’t. I don’t do drugs.”

8 P.M.

When the music stops at FIREhouse ministries, Michael Cummins begins to speak.

“A year ago yesterday,” he says, “I lost my 30-year-old son to heroin.”

Many of the 60 or so people who came for evening services at FIREhouse Ministries in Butler, Ky., nod their heads.

“For 15 years, he struggled.”

The music begins to play again, and the people raise their hands and sing.

“Some bright morning when this life is over,

I’ll fly away.

To that home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away.”

8:56 P.M.

The young man wobbles back and forth, struggling to stand, as the deputy at the Hamilton County Justice Center instructs him to take off his shoes.

He manages to get them off, barely, and sits in a plastic chair. A dirty bandage tinged with blood hangs from his arm. His head bobs up and down and he’s slurring his words so much the nurse can barely understand him.

“It’s going to be all right,” she tells him. “It’s going to be all right, baby.”

His name is Dan Stieritz. He’s 24 and he’s the last person sent to the Justice Center this week on charges related to using opiates. The nurse, Tammy Hopkins, is trying to ask him questions before he’s booked into the jail.

“Did you use heroin?”

He doesn’t answer. His head bobs. His eyes flutter.

“Dan? Dan?”

“I heard you,” he says.

Hopkins cleans the wound on the man’s arm and wraps it in white gauze and a new bandage. When she’s finished, Dan looks at his arm and then at the nurse who patched him up.

“Thank you,” he says.

10:30 P.M.

“Saying so long until I see you again little country girl.” – Facebook post by Candace Brewer of Covington, in memory of  Devany Mariah Stroude, who died on Wednesday from a heroin overdose.

She was 18.

11:41 P.M.

The Lost Boys – Part 7

Lizzie Hamblin stands in the doorway of her son’s room. It’s mostly empty now.

Scotty returned while she was gone and took almost everything of value that he owned. He’ll probably sell it, she thinks, so he can buy heroin.

Lizzie told him not to come home if he’s using drugs. She told him she’d call his parole officer if he did. She wants Scotty safe, but for too long she’s let her love for him stand in the way of doing what’s best for him. He needs to get treatment.

Earlier today, Lizzie talked to Kim Hill. She’ll see her tomorrow at the funeral for Kim’s son, Tommy.

Kim told Lizzie she’s praying Scotty gets arrested and locked up before it’s too late.

Lizzie scrolls through her text messages from Scotty. They have been angry, cruel. He blames her for his problems. It’s what he does when he’s using heroin.

She types a message to him: “Love you.”

She will keep saying those words until he hears her.

Her phone pings and she picks it up. It’s a message from Scotty.

“Love you too.”

END OF DAY

It’s almost midnight on the last day of another week, and the heroin epidemic has done its damage.

18: Deaths known or suspected to be the result of overdoses.

180: Overdoses reported to hospitals in the region. This figure underestimates the actual number of overdoses because it only includes those requiring hospital treatment.

210: Inmates in the Hamilton County Justice Center, the region’s largest jail, who admitted to using heroin or other opioids. Jail officials have estimated that as many as half of all inmates, about 870 this week, have an opioid problem.

$95,550: Cost to taxpayers to house those 210 inmates for one week. If the inmate total is closer to the estimated 870, the cost would be $395,850.

15: Babies born with health problems because their mothers used heroin or other opioids.

34: Investigations opened in southwest Ohio into the well-being of a child whose parent or guardian was known or suspected of using heroin or other opioids.

102 hours, 42 minutes: Time it took first responders to tend to overdose patients. This figure is considered low by dispatch supervisors because many overdose runs are not initially called in as such.

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/video/embed/105463288?chromeless=true&disablecaption=true&placement=interactive-video

About this project: From the editor: Why we did this

This story was written by Dan Horn and Terry DeMio.

Reported and photographed by Kim Armstrong, Jessie Balmert, Matthew Berry, Keith BieryGolick, Carrie Blackmore Smith, Dana Branham, Sarah Brookbank, Bethany Bruner, Daniel Carson, Mark Caudill, Carrie Cochran, Shae Combs, Chris Crook, Alex Coolidge, Sharon Coolidge, Mark Curnutte, Terry DeMio, Maria Devito, Phil Didion, Liz Dufour, Kareem Elgazzar, Kevin Grasha, Chris Graves, Sam Greene, Dan Horn, Jeanne Houck, Amber Hunt, Jona Ison, Jennie Key, Chad Klimack, Cameron Knight, Lara Korte, Chris Mayhew, Kelly McBride, Courtney McNaull, Emily Mills, Jason Molyet, Carol Motsinger, Sydney Murray, Mike Nyerges, Cara Owsley, Mariel Padilla, Jessica Phelps, James Pilcher, Melissa Reinert, Amanda Rossmann, Anne Saker, Shelly Schultz, Deirdre Shesgreen, Brian Smith, Kathryn Snyder, Hannah Sparling, Jon Stinchcomb, Trista Thurston, Monroe Trombly, Randy Tucker, Sheila Vilvens, Meg Vogel, Sarah Volpenhein, Scott Wartman, Lou Whitmire and Jason Williams.

Edited by Amy Wilson, Chrissie Thompson, Amanda Rossmann and Cara Owsley.

(These statistics were gathered for Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren counties in Ohio, and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Kentucky. Sources include: coroner’s offices in every county, dispatch centers in every county, Job and Family Services in Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren counties, Hamilton County’s Department of Pretrial and Community Intervention Services, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton County Job and Family Services, and The Health Collaborative on behalf of all regional hospitals. Overdose statistics could include a small number of cases involving a drug other than heroin or other opioids.)

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……….that….in my opinion…..is a fine piece of journalism…….clear and present……………..w

 

…The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea…

  ……..parsing our way ever closer to justifying a first strike…………begs the question………….

On the ground in Pyongyang: Could Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump goad each other into a devastating confrontation?

A guard at the D.M.Z. This summer, the prospect of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and North Korea, the most hermetic power on the globe, entered a realm of psychological calculation reminiscent of the Cold War.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

1. The Madman Theory

The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, so there is no embassy in Washington, but for years the two countries have relied on the “New York channel,” an office inside North Korea’s mission to the United Nations, to handle the unavoidable parts of our nonexistent relationship. The office has, among other things, negotiated the release of prisoners and held informal talks about nuclear tensions. In April, I contacted the New York channel and requested permission to visit Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The New York channel consists mostly of two genial middle-aged men: Pak Song Il, a husky diplomat with a gray brush cut; and his aide-de-camp, Kwon Jong Gun, who is younger and thinner. They go everywhere together. (The North Korean government has diplomats work in pairs, to prevent them from defecting, or being recruited as spies.) Under U.S. law, they can travel only twenty-five miles from Columbus Circle. Pak and Kwon met me near their office, for lunch at the Palm Too. They cautioned me that it might take several months to arrange a trip. North Korea periodically admits large groups of American journalists, to witness parades and special occasions, but it is more hesitant when it comes to individual reporters, who require close monitoring and want to talk about the nuclear program.

Americans are accustomed to eruptions of hostility with North Korea, but in the past six months the enmity has reached a level rarely seen since the end of the Korean War, in 1953. The crisis has been hastened by fundamental changes in the leadership on both sides. In the six years since Kim Jong Un assumed power, at the age of twenty-seven, he has tested eighty-four missiles—more than double the number that his father and grandfather tested. Just before Donald Trump took office, in January, he expressed a willingness to wage a “preventive” war in North Korea, a prospect that previous Presidents dismissed because it would risk an enormous loss of life. Trump has said that in his one meeting with Barack Obama, during the transition, Obama predicted that North Korea, more than any other foreign-policy challenge, would test Trump. In private, Trump has told aides, “I will be judged by how I handle this.”

On the Fourth of July, North Korea passed a major threshold: it launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile powerful enough to reach the mainland United States. In response, on July 21st, authorities in Hawaii announced that they would revive a network of Cold War-era sirens, to alert the public in the event of a nuclear strike. Trump said that he hopes to boost spending on missile defense by “many billions of dollars.” On September 3rd, after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon far larger than any it had revealed before—seven times the size of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, warned that a threat to America or its allies would trigger a “massive military response.”

A few days after the July 4th missile test, Pak told me that I could book a flight to Pyongyang. I submitted a list of people I wanted to interview, including diplomats and Kim Jong Un himself. About the latter, Pak only laughed. (Kim has never given an interview.) After Pak stopped laughing, he said I could talk to other officials. I wanted to understand how North Koreans think about the kind of violence that their country so often threatens. Were the threats serious, or mere posturing? How did they imagine that a war would unfold? Before my arrival in North Korea, I spent time in Washington, Seoul, and Beijing; many people in those places, it turned out, are asking the same things about the United States.

About a week before my flight to Pyongyang, America’s dealings with North Korea deteriorated further. On August 5th, as punishment for the missile test, the U.N. Security Council adopted some of the strongest sanctions against any country in decades, blocking the sale of coal, iron, and other commodities, which represent a third of North Korea’s exports. President Trump, in impromptu remarks at his golf club in New Jersey, said that “any more threats to the United States” will be met “with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” A few hours later, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the Pacific Ocean near the American territory of Guam, from which warplanes depart for flights over the Korean Peninsula. Trump replied, in a tweet, that “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”

Suddenly, the prospect of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the most hermetic power on the globe had entered a realm of psychological calculation reminiscent of the Cold War, and the two men making the existential strategic decisions were not John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev but a senescent real-estate mogul and reality-television star and a young third-generation dictator who has never met another head of state. Between them, they had less than seven years of experience in political leadership.

Brinkmanship, according to Thomas Schelling, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who pioneered the theory of nuclear deterrence, is the art of “manipulating the shared risk of war.” In 1966, he envisaged a nuclear standoff as a pair of mountain climbers, tied together, fighting at the edge of a cliff. Each will move ever closer to the edge, so that the other begins to fear that he might slip and take both of them down. It is a matter of creating the right amount of fear without losing control. Schelling wrote, “However rational the adversaries, they may compete to appear the more irrational, impetuous, and stubborn.” But what if the adversaries are irrational, impetuous, and stubborn?

Three days after Trump’s “locked and loaded” tweet, I flew from Beijing to Pyongyang. The flight was mostly empty, except for some Chinese businessmen and Iranian diplomats. I was accompanied by the photographer Max Pinckers and his assistant, Victoria Gonzalez-Figueras. In the air, I deleted from my laptop some books about North Korea; the government is especially sensitive about portrayals of the Kim family. (When you buy a North Korean newspaper with an image of Kim Jong Un on the front page, the clerk folds it carefully, to avoid creasing his face.) The airport was quiet and immaculate. At customs, when I opened my suitcase, I saw that I had forgotten to discard two books: “The Great Successor,” an account of Kim’s ascent, and “The Impossible State.” The customs officer called over a colleague, who flipped through the pages and alerted his superiors. I was led to a room, where an officer told me that the books are “very disparaging about the D.P.R.K.” He wanted to know where and when I had bought them, and whether I had read them. After some discussion, I was told to write a statement promising “never to bring them to the D.P.R.K. again.” I signed it, the books were confiscated, and I hustled on.

I was approached by a smiling man in a crisp white short-sleeved button-down shirt with a small red pin on his left breast, bearing a likeness of Kim Il Sung—Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, and the first leader of North Korea. (Citizens over the age of sixteen are expected to wear a badge celebrating at least one of the Kims.) He introduced himself, in English, as Mr. Pak, of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies, and said that he would be my guide. I followed him outside, where the air was clear and still. Pak presented the others who would be accompanying us: two drivers and a slim young man with a military bearing named Mr. Kim, who provided only one-word answers to my occasional queries. Pak and I climbed into a Toyota S.U.V.

Pak—by coincidence, he has the same full name, Pak Song Il, as the senior member of the New York channel—is thirty-five years old, with short bushy hair and a placid demeanor. Most of North Korea’s twenty-five million people are not permitted to travel abroad, but Pak’s job has allowed him to visit several countries, which he described in terms of their cleanliness: Switzerland (very clean); Belgium (not so clean); Bangladesh (not clean at all). In 2015, he went to Utah (clean) for a nongovernmental exchange affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The experience convinced him that Mormons have a lot in common with North Koreans. “When the L.D.S. started, they were hated,” he told me. “They were sent to the desert. But they made it thrive. They are organized like a bee colony, where everyone works for one purpose and they would die for it. And they make huge output, as a result. We understand each other very well.”

Pak spends most of his time analyzing American politics and news reports, trying to divine America’s intentions regarding North Korea. Since the election of Donald Trump, he said, the task had become more demanding. “When he speaks, I have to figure out what he means, and what his next move will be,” he said. “This is very difficult.”

That would probably please Trump, who prides himself on being unpredictable. Many commentators have drawn comparisons to Richard Nixon and his “madman theory” of diplomacy, in which Nixon sought to leave his adversaries with the impression that he possessed an unstable, dangerous state of mind.

Later, I asked Pak what he and other North Koreans thought of Trump.

“He might be irrational—or too smart. We don’t know,” he said. They suspected that Trump’s comment about “fire and fury” might be part of a subtle strategy. “Like the Chinese ‘Art of War,’ ” he said. “If he’s not driving toward a point, then what is he doing? That is our big question.”

For Pak and other analysts in North Korea, the more important question about the United States extends beyond Trump. “Is the American public ready for war?” he asked. “Does the Congress want a war? Does the American military want a war? Because, if they want a war, then we must prepare for that.”

Commuters on the Pyongyang Metro. The capital, marooned by politics, presents a panorama from another time.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

A chair used by Kim Jong Un during his visit to the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, in a room dedicated to commemorating his visit.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

We arrived at the Kobangsan Guest House, a small, three-story hotel on the outskirts of Pyongyang, surrounded by corn and rice fields. The place had an air of low-cost opulence—chandeliers, rhinestones, and pleather sofas. We were the only guests. The Foreign Ministry uses the hotel for “Americans and V.I.P.s,” Pak said. (In 2013, Eric Schmidt, the former C.E.O. of Google, was put up there.) In North Korea, no visitor is left unattended, and Pak had a room down the hall from mine. I paid a hundred and forty-one dollars a night—a month’s income for the average citizen. “From time immemorial, there is a tradition of giving foreigners the best service,” Pak explained. “The No. 1 thing is to protect them, unless they are spies or enemies.”

We had dinner that night with Ri Yong Pil, a Foreign Ministry official in his mid-fifties, who is the vice-president of the Institute for American Studies. Gregarious and confident, he served eight years in the Army, learned English, and became a diplomat. He raised a glass of Taedonggang beer and toasted our arrival. We were in a private hotel dining room that felt like a surgical theatre: a silent, scrubbed, white-walled room bathed in bright light. Two waitresses in black uniforms served each course: ginkgo soup, black-skin chicken, kimchi, river fish, and vanilla ice cream, along with glasses of beer, red wine, and soju. (The U.N. says that seventy-two per cent of North Koreans rely on government food rations, and the country is experiencing a historic drought. But in Pyongyang a foreign guest eats embarrassingly well.)

Ri made a series of points, waiting for me to write each one in my notebook:

“The United States is not the only country that can wage a preventive war.”

“Three million people have volunteered to join the war if necessary.”

“Historically, Korean people suffered because of weakness. That bitter lesson is kept in our hearts.”

“Strengthening our defensive military capacity is the only way to keep the peace.”

“We are small in terms of people and area, but in terms of dignity we are the most powerful in the world. We will die in order to protect that dignity and sovereignty.”

After several more toasts, Ri loosened his tie and shed his jacket. He had some questions. “In your system, what is the power of the President to launch a war?” he asked. “Does the Congress have the power to decide?”

A President can do a lot without Congress, I said. Ri asked about the nuclear codes: “I’ve heard the black bag is controlled by McMaster. Is it true?” (He was referring to H. R. McMaster, the national-security adviser.)

No, the President can launch nukes largely on his own, I said. “What about in your country?”

His answer was similar. “Our Supreme Leader has absolute power to launch a war,” he said.

I turned in early. My room was furnished in the style of Versailles by way of Atlantic City—champagne-colored leather and gold-painted trim. The room was equipped with a TV, but, instead of North Korean programming, the only options were Asian satellite channels. There was no news to be found. I flipped past a Christian evangelist and a Singaporean cooking show, and drifted off to the sight of sumo wrestlers colliding.

Trump is the fourth U.S. President who has vowed to put an end to North Korea’s nuclear program. Bill Clinton signed a deal in which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear development in exchange for oil and a civilian reactor, but neither side fulfilled its commitments. George W. Bush refused bilateral negotiations, then switched tacks and convened negotiations known as the Six-Party Talks. Obama first offered inducements, and later adopted a stonewalling policy called “strategic patience.” Under Trump, the U.S. has led the U.N. Security Council in its passage of the eighth round of sanctions against North Korea in eleven years. The Kims’ nuclear program is still going. “They have managed to play an abysmally bad hand for more than seventy years,” Evans Revere, a former head of Korean affairs at the State Department, told me.

U.S. intelligence has often underestimated the progress of North Korea’s weapons development. But now the basic facts, accumulated by American, European, and Chinese intelligence agencies, are clear. North Korea has between twenty and sixty usable nuclear warheads, and ICBMs capable of hitting targets as far away, perhaps, as Chicago. It has yet to marry those two programs in a single weapon, but American intelligence agencies estimate that it will achieve that within a year. The U.S. is in the process of upgrading its ability to shoot down an incoming missile. It reportedly tried to derail North Korea’s weapons development through cyber sabotage, but it only delayed the progress. A former U.S. official said, “You spend millions putting it in place and then you ask, ‘Did it work?’ And the answer comes back: Maybe.”

In recent talks, when Americans have asked whether any combination of economic and diplomatic benefits, or security guarantees, could induce Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons, the answer has been no. North Koreans invariably mention the former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. In 2003, when Qaddafi agreed to surrender his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, Bush promised others who might do the same that they would have an “open path to better relations with the United States.” Eight years later, the U.S. and nato helped to overthrow Qaddafi, who was captured, humiliated, and killed by rebels. At the time, North Korea said that Qaddafi’s fall was “a grave lesson” that persuading other nations to give up weapons was “an invasion tactic.”

After-school swimming lessons at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

A view of the Ryugyong Hotel from the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, who visited Pyongyang in 2014, told me, “The North Koreans are not going to give up their nuclear weapons. It’s a non-starter.” The American national-security community is now nearly unanimous on this point, but the government cannot say so openly, because that would cede leverage in a future negotiation, and raise the risk that other countries will try to follow North Korea’s example. “Whether it’s pressuring, threatening, negotiating, or trying to leverage China, everybody’s tried all of that—and it’s not working,” Clapper said.

Inside the Trump Administration, there is disagreement about how to handle North Korea. Shortly before Steve Bannon, the President’s former chief strategist, was fired, in August, he told an interviewer, “There’s no military solution here, they got us.” But Mattis and McMaster argue that Kim Jong Un must be contained. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in June, Mattis called North Korea “the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security,” supplanting Russia as the No. 1 threat to the U.S. In an e-mail, McMaster told me, “Their provocations seem likely to increase—not decrease—over time. The North Koreans have also proliferated just about every capability they’ve ever produced, including chemical weapons and a nuclear reactor. Then there’s the matter of what other countries do—in the region and beyond—when they see that a rogue regime developed nukes and got away with it.”

Experts can’t say definitively why Kim wants nuclear weapons. Are they for self-defense, as North Korea claims, or will Kim use them to achieve the unfulfilled ambition of the Korean War—forcing reunification with South Korea? A senior Administration official told me that members of Trump’s national-security team are not convinced that Kim will stop at self-protection. “There are fewer and fewer disagreements about North Korea’s capabilities now, and so then, inevitably, the question of their intentions becomes critical,” he said. “Are they pursuing these weapons in order to maintain the status quo on the Peninsula, or are they seeking to fundamentally alter the status quo?” The official added, “Sometimes dictators are able to kid themselves that ‘Hey, once I’ve got that weapon, I’m invincible, and I have a free hand to launch conventional wars and subversion and assassination campaigns against my neighbors.’ ”

The White House could try to deter North Korea from using or selling its weapons—or it could start a preventive war. Deterrence relies, at bottom, on the assumption that an adversary is not suicidal, but this Administration suspects that Kim’s recklessness could trigger his own destruction. The official said, “Saddam Hussein was not suicidal, but he committed suicide.” In 2003, as the U.S. threatened to attack Iraq, Saddam was surrounded by sycophants and cut off from reliable information. He doubted that America would actually launch a full-scale attack, and, as a result, he miscalculated the odds of destroying himself and his regime.

A warm drizzle was falling on Pyongyang the morning after my arrival, as we left the Kobangsan Guest House to see the city. More than any other capital that has been marooned by politics—Havana or Rangoon or Caracas—Pyongyang presents a panorama from another time. Soviet-era Ladas and ancient city buses ply the streets, while passengers stick their heads out the windows in search of cool air. Buildings are adorned with Korean-language banners hailing the “Juche ideology,” the official state credo, which glorifies self-reliance and loyalty. On an embankment near a major intersection, workers in gray coveralls were installing an enormous red sign that praised the “immortal achievements of the esteemed Supreme Leader, comrade Kim Jong Un, who built the nuclear state of Juche, the leader in rocket power!”

Pyongyang is a city of simulated perfection, without litter or graffiti—or, for that matter, anyone in a wheelchair. Its population, of 2.9 million, has been chosen for political reliability and physical health. The city is surrounded by checkpoints that prevent ineligible citizens from entering.

For decades, there were few cars on the streets, but now frequent foreign visitors marvel at the growth in traffic. Pyongyang is the emptiest, quietest capital in Asia, but it is changing, slowly, driven by the legacy of famine. Between 1994 and 1998, a combination of mismanagement, droughts, and flooding paralyzed North Korean food production, killing up to three million people. Hundreds of thousands of people went to China in search of food and work, and many returned to their families having seen a better quality of life.

Since the famine, “the majority of today’s North Koreans have learned to lead an economic double life in order to make ends meet,” according to “North Korea Confidential,” a study of markets and daily life, by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson. North Koreans, outside their state-assigned jobs, sell homemade noodles in thriving markets; they drive private buses; they rent out apartments by the hour for courting couples. Government insiders import housewares, medicine, and luxury products from China, giving rise to an entrepreneurial élite known as donju—“masters of money.” Kim has allowed limited economic reforms, letting people accumulate profits, which has fuelled the growth of black markets, including in real estate. Officially, there is no private homeownership, but, in practice, people pay for better units. An ordinary one-bedroom apartment in Pyongyang costs three or four thousand dollars; the most luxurious offerings sell for hundreds of thousands.

The weak enforcement of sanctions, and continued demand from China and Russia, has allowed North Korea’s economy to grow with surprising speed in recent years. According to South Korea’s central bank, North Korea’s G.D.P. grew an estimated 3.9 per cent in 2016, the fastest pace since 1999. (South Korea’s, by comparison, grew 2.8 per cent.)

Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?”

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

On the streets of Pyongyang, there are flashes of modernity, even style. Some women can be seen wearing stilettos and short skirts, though these can be no higher than two inches above the knee, according to Workers’ Party regulations. (Jeans are still practically taboo, because of their association with America.) Now and then, I saw people hunched over cell phones. Since 2013, Pyongyang has had 3G mobile service, but most people have access only to North Korea’s self-contained intranet, which allows them to send e-mail inside the country and to look at some Web sites. But many North Koreans have had some exposure to Chinese, American, and South Korean entertainment, smuggled over the border on SD cards that are small enough to be inserted into a phone. (Kim Jong Un, sensing the danger that information poses, has denounced foreign movies and music as “poisonous weeds.” In 2015, his government warned that people caught with illegal videos could face ten years of hard labor.)

“The regime does not really want the living standards to rise fast and too much, because that could shake the nation,” Alexandre Mansourov, a North Korea analyst who did an advanced degree at Kim Il Sung University and served as a Soviet diplomat in Pyongyang in the nineteen-eighties, said. “It’s the revolution of rising expectations. They want to manage that.” Kim Jong Un promotes economic growth on his own terms. Every year since assuming power, he has unveiled a new residential complex in the capital, as well as theatres, a water park, and a new airport. This past spring, he attended the opening of more than three thousand new apartments on Ryomyong Street, and Mr. Pak was eager to show off the buildings. The green-and-white complex, which includes a seventy-story high-rise, has circular columns and bulging round balconies that give it a “Jetsons”-like look.

I passed couples whispering on park benches, and a grandmother following a toddler across fresh asphalt. A black Lexus, buffed to a high shine, honked its way through pedestrians. (Officially, most private cars are provided as gifts from the Supreme Leader, but insiders acquire cars by registering them in the names of state enterprises.) We came upon a van fitted with oversized loudspeakers on its roof. Pak said that the message it played was a “warning about American aggression.” He explained, “We have a propaganda unit in every district.” Nobody seemed to be paying much attention.

I spent ten years abroad as a foreign correspondent, mostly in China, Egypt, and Iraq, but little of that experience is comparable to reporting in North Korea. Based on my requests, the government gave me an itinerary and then escorted me from place to place. A reporter cannot venture out into the city or the countryside independently without risking detention or compromising the safety of any North Korean who coöperates. But the country has become incrementally more open to scholars and reporters. In 2000, journalists who accompanied Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on a visit travelled on a bus with covered windows and were warned not to take photographs. Today, the constraints are more subtle. I asked to visit an ordinary apartment in Pyongyang—any apartment—and was told that it was “too late to be arranged.”

I’d asked to see some schools, so I was taken to the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School—a brand-new brick-and-steel complex with an Astro-Turf field for four hundred lucky pupils. The principal, Pak Yong Chul, ushered me into a permanent exhibition on the ground floor, dedicated to the two-hour visit that Kim paid to the school on July 2, 2016. The walls of the exhibition are lined with photographs of Kim in his signature gray suit, striding through the facilities, holding an unlit cigarette between his fingers. On a large wall map, a red dashed line marked Kim’s route through the corridors. The students visit the exhibition every month, to “move along in the footprints of the Supreme Leader,” the principal said.

I stood in front of a large photo of Kim touching a red fuzzy blanket. The principal stepped aside, and, with a flourish, revealed, in a Plexiglas box, the blanket. “He personally touched it,” he said. So it was with other specimens—the white painted chair that he blessed with his presence in the lunchroom; the simple wooden chair from the language lab, on which he rested from his labors—all preserved under glass, like the relics of a saint. I asked Pak Yong Chul how it felt to be visited by the leader, and his eyes widened. “That moment is unforgettable. I would never have dreamed of it,” he said.

Upstairs, I stopped by a history class, where ten- and eleven-year-old students sat in perfect rows. I introduced myself as an American and asked if anyone had a question for me. After a long pause, a skinny boy with two medals pinned to his chest stood and asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us? And what right do they have to block us from building our own nuclear weapon?” This did not seem the occasion for rigorous analysis or debate. I mumbled some bromides about hoping that things would get better. The boy seemed unimpressed.

II. A Marxist Emperor

Before Kim’s accession, in 2011, he was almost completely unknown, even inside the country. His name had first appeared in the state press a couple of years earlier. The C.I.A. had little more than a single photo of him—as an eleven-year-old, according to Sue Mi Terry, a former Korea analyst at the agency. In 2008, when Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke, Randal Phillips, a senior C.I.A. officer overseeing operations in Asia, met a Chinese counterpart to share analyses, as they sometimes did. But Phillips discovered that Chinese intelligence “didn’t know what was happening,” he told me. “I think the Chinese know a hell of a lot less than people assume.” Compared with other American adversaries, North Korea is the “hardest target,” Terry said. “There’s no other country that’s like that,” she told me. “It’s just pieced together.”

Kim Jong Il suffered a heart attack, and died in December, 2011. At the funeral, Kim Jong Un, the youngest of his seven children, appeared pale and childlike, weeping as his father lay in an open casket. Afterward, he led the pallbearers, including spy chiefs and Army bosses, decades his senior. Some prominent analysts predicted that Kim would not be as secure in his power as his grandfather and father had been; his regime could succumb to a coup or could implode for other reasons. Victor Cha, who had been George W. Bush’s lead adviser on Korea, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Times, “North Korea as we know it is over.” Cha told me recently, “I thought he would not last for more than a couple of years.”

At first, Kim worked under the guidance of three Party elders who served as “regents,” according to Ken Gause, a specialist in North Korean politics at the Center for Naval Analyses, a nonprofit research group in Washington. Kim and his mentors made shrewd choices that helped to establish his authority. Physically, he transformed himself into a near-reincarnation of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who was much more popular than Kim Jong Il. He bore a natural likeness to his grandfather, and, to accentuate it, he gained weight, cut his hair in a shorn-sided pompadour, and began wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a panama hat. (When foreign media suggested that he had undergone surgery to enhance the similarity, the state news agency condemned the speculation as “sordid hackwork by rubbish media.”)

Politically, Kim put himself forward as a more candid and practical leader. His father never permitted discussion of flaws in the socialist paradise, but in April, 2012, Kim acknowledged the failure of a rocket that, upon launch, quickly crumbled into the Yellow Sea. The next month, during a televised inspection of the Mangyongdae amusement park, he made a show of bending down to pull weeds from the sidewalk, and chastising the managers: “How could you not see these? How could you be so negligent and complacent?”

Kim gradually shed the control of his regents and presented himself as a socialist of the modern age—he was seen in North Korean media flying on a luxuriously appointed Ilyushin jet, typing on a MacBook, and enjoying an amusement-park ride at the Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground. He appeared in public with his wife, a stylish former cheerleader named Ri Sol Ju, whom he married in 2009. (They are believed to have three children.) As always, the propagandists were attentive: foreign analysts who track the use of Photoshop on North Korean state images say that official pictures of Kim are often altered around his ears, possibly to mask some sort of blemish.

Kim also sought to convey an ease with brutality, and embarked on North Korea’s most violent Party purge in decades. He executed two of his father’s seven senior pallbearers—his uncle Jang Song Thaek and the Army chief Ri Yong Ho—and expelled three others. His father had also executed senior cadres when he came to power, but killing Jang, an influential family member with deep ties to China, was an act of extraordinary boldness. The charges against Jang ranged from “treachery” to applauding “halfheartedly” when Kim entered the room. Many of Jang’s children and aides were also put to death, in ways that were intended to capture attention. Some were killed by flamethrowers; others were shot by anti-aircraft guns before outdoor audiences. (Media reports that Jang himself was fed to dogs proved to be false. He was executed by firing squad.)

Evan Medeiros, who was President Obama’s chief Asia adviser, told me that Kim Jong Il’s “approach to managing élites appeared to be more incentive-based than coercion-based, making sure that they all got goodies and spoils. The son’s approach appears to be ‘If you screw with me, I’m just going to kill you—and I’m going to kill you in a really nasty way.’ ”

That principle was expressed most dramatically earlier this year. The target was Kim’s estranged half brother, Kim Jong Nam, who had been living in semi-exile in Macau for more than a decade. In recent years, Kim Jong Nam had given interviews that were critical of the young leader, telling Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist, that North Korea was “likely to become weak under the third generation.” In a fateful comment, he called his half brother “just a figurehead.”

On the morning of February 13th, Kim Jong Nam was at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Malaysia. At home in Macau, the Chinese government provided security guards, but he travelled alone. An airport security camera captured his arrival and movements. He wore jeans and a summer blazer, and carried a backpack. As he stood before a check-in kiosk, two young women approached, smeared liquid on his face, and then fled. Agitated, he approached a security guard. He grew dizzy and was taken to an airport clinic, where his condition rapidly deteriorated. In a photograph, he is slumped in a chair, arms splayed, eyes closed. He died in an ambulance, less than twenty minutes after the attack. Based on samples taken from his eyes and skin, Malaysian authorities accused North Korea of its first known assassination by the nerve agent VX, a tasteless, odorless chemical weapon. South Korean and Japanese media reported that he may have enraged his brother by preparing to defect or by aiding foreign intelligence services.

The killing caused a diplomatic crisis: North Korea demanded the return of the body and of several North Korean citizens, who were sought by police for questioning. When those demands were refused, North Korea sealed its borders to departing Malaysians, trapping nine embassy workers and their families. After two weeks, Malaysia released Kim Jong Nam’s body, and North Korea allowed the workers and their families to leave. The two women involved in the attack, who face first-degree-murder charges, are in custody in Malaysia; they have told investigators that they worked in local night clubs and were paid ninety dollars each for what they thought was a TV-show prank. After the attack, the women washed their hands, suggesting that each may have been given separate, harmless chemical components that became toxic when mixed together. They are scheduled to go on trial in October.

Six years into Kim Jong Un’s reign, some analysts in Seoul argue that senior Party officials can overrule or direct him, but U.S. intelligence believes that Kim is in sole command. The assassination of the half brother could not have happened without Kim’s approval, a U.S. official who works on Korea told me. “He’s the top decider, you might say,” the official said. “He’s the only guy that counts.” Many analysts worry that, as Kim moves deeper into confrontation with America, he does not have advisers who speak candidly to him. “We can’t identify an internal or external channel of information flow that’s effective in communicating the risks of the course that he’s on,” Scott Snyder, a Korea specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “What general is going to be willing to risk his stars, if not his life, in order to tell Kim Jong Un he’s doing the wrong thing?”

The U.S. has investigated the question of Kim Jong Un’s hold on power and has found no evidence of a potential coup or a challenge from disaffected élites. At the moment, Kim’s most visible vulnerability is his health: he is overweight and perhaps diabetic. In North Korea, the leader’s health is closely monitored by an agency called the Longevity Research Institute. Barring the unforeseen, Kim could rule North Korea for decades.

On the way to lunch one afternoon in Pyongyang, I noticed that the latest American threats had already been inscribed on the cityscape. A full-color billboard depicted a barrage of missiles descending on a bombed-out shell of the U.S. Capitol. Across the wreckage of Washington, it said, according to Pak’s translation, “Preëmptive Strike” and “Military Option.”

In the days after the President’s “locked and loaded” remarks, the U.S., following the doctrine of a standoff, was seeking to convey ambiguity—the sense that North Korea should tread carefully because it doesn’t know what might trigger a violent American response. But the message was getting garbled en route to Pyongyang. That morning, we had awoken to discover that Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had published a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that was clearly an attempt to ratchet down the tension. They wrote, “The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea.”

Pak, who is one of the government’s seasoned interpreters of American media, had a hard time following it all. In the car, he turned and asked, “How common is this, for the Secretary of State and the Defense Secretary to write a joint editorial?” Not very common, I said. He nodded, and turned back around. He could not understand how the two Cabinet members could so clearly contradict the President. At other points during the week, Pak tried to clear up some confusing details about the American media. “So the Wall Street Journal is conservative?” he asked. The editorial page is conservative, I said, but the news coverage is straight. He took this in and nodded again.

Occasionally, Pak misread something that was hard to discern from far away. He told me, “The United States is a divided country. It has no appetite for war.” On some level, that was true—the United States is a divided country, and it is tired of fighting wars in the Middle East, in South Asia—but he would be wrong to assume that these facts would, with absolute assurance, prevent the Trump Administration from launching a strike on North Korea.

We pulled up to a large blue-and-white boat that doubles as a restaurant, moored on the banks of the Taedong River. A sign over the entrance memorialized two visits by the Supreme Leader: “General duty ship Moojige received on-the-spot guidance by the esteemed comrade Kim Jong Un.” The restaurant’s distinguishing charm is that you can catch your own lunch in its tanks. On the way to our table, we passed a man standing on a ladder, holding a net, trying to nab a large fish with long whiskers. We reached a dining room where several tables were occupied by families, whose members ranged in age from a grandfather in a Mao-style suit to a couple of kids chasing each other around the table.

We ordered beef, cold noodles, rice cakes, and sashimi. A television in the corner was tuned to the main state channel. Three other channels, devoted to sports, entertainment, and education, broadcast only occasionally. Pak said that we were watching a classic North Korean drama called “The Lighthouse.” He patiently explained the plot: “A man lived alone on a remote island with a lighthouse. Under the Japanese, he was like a slave, but, when the Great Leader Kim Il Sung came to power, he said this man should be acknowledged, and—”

The movie cut off abruptly and a matronly news anchor appeared on the screen.

“There’s news,” Pak said.

New apartment buildings on Ryomyong Street.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Women along a street in Pyongyang.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

The broadcast showed photographs of Kim Jong Un in a dark pin-striped suit, surrounded by military men in uniform. The announcer reported that the missile unit had been tasked with preparing to strike the Pacific Ocean near Guam. Another photograph showed Kim beside a screen bearing a satellite image of Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam. The announcer quoted Kim as saying that he “would watch a little more of the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before making his final decision to launch. The segment ended with orchestral music over a video montage of missiles soaring from the launch pad, rockets blazing out of their launchers, and soldiers cheering as fighter jets screamed overhead. I glanced around the room and noticed that the other diners were engrossed in lunch.

I was confused. “So is he going to launch them or not?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Pak said. “It depends on whether the United States sends another nuclear asset, like a B-1B, over the Korean Peninsula.”

“Does the U.S. know that’s the determining factor?” I asked.

“We haven’t told them! But they should know, because we said they should not send any further ‘nuclear provocations.’ ”

The mentions of war and weaponry were everywhere: on television, on billboards, in the talk of well-rehearsed schoolchildren. When I attended a show at Pyongyang’s Rungna Dolphinarium, in which dolphins flipped and jumped and performed tricks, the finale featured a video montage that included the image of a missile soaring across the sky. I asked Pak what connected dolphins with missiles. He said, “It’s inspiring to the people. We’re going to have everything we want. A dolphinarium. Nuclear weapons. One by one.”

At lunch, I asked Pak, “If your country would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, why are you really entertaining the idea?”

North Korea, he said, is no stranger to devastation: “We’ve been through it twice before. The Korean War and the Arduous March”—the official euphemism for the famine of the mid-nineties. “We can do it a third time.” The argument is embedded in North Koreans’ self-image. They are taught to see themselves as inhabitants of a land shaped by a history of suffering, a sense of hostile encirclement, and a do-or-die insistence on survival.

But, to state the obvious, I said, risking a premature end to a friendly meal, a nuclear exchange would not be comparable.

“A few thousand would survive,” Pak said. “And the military would say, ‘Who cares? As long as the United States is destroyed, then we are all starting from the same line again.’ ” He added, “A lot of people would die. But not everyone would die.”

“We must envelop our environment in a dense fog,” Kim Jong Il once said, “to prevent our enemies from learning anything about us.” As a result, interested parties have to be creative. The South Korean intelligence service employs lip-readers to watch what Kim says away from the microphones at political events. To chart who is gaining and losing power, American scholars and analysts, like Cold War Kremlinologists, monitor the choreography of official funerals and dissect photo captions and propaganda reports. Over time, those efforts have started to cut through the fog around North Korea’s first family.

The Kim dynasty began in 1945, after the defeat of Japan. In a hasty redrawing of the map, the Americans and the Soviets divided the Korean Peninsula; in effect, each would control half. The Soviets installed Kim Il Sung, a nationalist guerrilla who had been living in the Soviet Union, as the leader of North Korea. After the humiliations of occupation and war, Kim presented himself as a Marxist emperor of sorts, who would revive Korea’s racial superiority and rebuild the nation as a fortress, impenetrable to imperialists. He restricted the entry of foreigners and curtailed his people’s freedom to leave or dissent. As he aged, Kim Il Sung sought to avoid the havoc that followed the deaths of Stalin and Mao by appointing his son as his successor, in the first hereditary transition in the Communist world. But Kim Jong Il, who assumed power in 1994, was not a natural demagogue. He was a cinéaste, plump and sedentary, who made his own version of “Godzilla.” (His favorite films also included “Rambo” and “Gone with the Wind.”)

Kim Jong Il grew isolated and paranoid. He allowed his voice to be heard in public only once, when he said, at a 1992 parade, “Glory be to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People’s Army!” On foreign trips, his aides brought home his feces and urine, to prevent foreign powers from hijacking the waste and evaluating his health. He was five feet two inches tall, and insecure about his height. In 1978, he ordered the kidnapping of his favorite South Korean actress, Choi Eun-hee, and greeted her by saying, “Small as a midget’s turd, aren’t I?” (Choi was forced to act in North Korean films until 1986, when, during a trip to Vienna, she escaped.) Jang Jin-sung, a poet and a high-ranking propagandist who defected to South Korea in 2004, told me that, when he was brought to meet Kim Jong Il, an aide instructed him, “Don’t look him in the eye. Look at the second button down from his collar.” Jang went on, “Before you met him, you were given a moist towelette to wash your hands and asked to remove your wristwatch or any metal in case it could do him harm.”

And yet Kim Jong Il came closer than any other North Korean leader to forging peace with the United States and ending his country’s isolation. Madeleine Albright, the only U.S. Secretary of State who has visited Pyongyang, spent more than twelve hours with Kim over two days, in 2000, negotiating the terms of a deal regarding his missile program. She found him odd—he personally choreographed a dance that was performed for her delegation—but also pragmatic and well informed. When members of the delegation asked highly technical questions, he answered many of them without consulting experts. Wendy Sherman, a diplomat who accompanied Albright on the trip, and later became President Obama’s chief negotiator with Iran, sensed the single-mindedness that has driven North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. “We think in two-year, four-year, six-year time frames. They don’t. They’ve had a long-term vision since Kim Jong Il’s father, and they have stuck with it,” she told me.

In the final months of the Clinton Administration, Albright and Sherman believed that Kim was close to accepting a freeze on long-range missile tests. But the disputed election of 2000, and Clinton’s pursuit of a deal in the Middle East, consumed the Administration’s final weeks. They never returned to Pyongyang. Sherman told me, “If our team had gone, and if Kim agreed to our terms, I would have had a date in my pocket on which the President of the United States would have come.”

Once in office, George W. Bush declined to reaffirm a Clinton-era communiqué that pledged “no hostile intent” toward North Korea. Then, in his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush included North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, in his famous formulation, the “axis of evil.” The relationship has deteriorated ever since. In 2009, when Clinton visited Kim to secure the release of two imprisoned journalists, Kim lamented that, once Bush came in, “we found ourselves missing the earlier, better relationship with the previous Administration.” According to American notes from the meeting, which were later divulged by WikiLeaks, Kim added, “The United States would have had a new friend in Northeast Asia in a complex world.”

For all Kim Jong Il’s eccentricity, he cultivated his relationship with America in ways that his son has not. Jerrold Post, who founded the C.I.A.’s psychological-profile unit, and later studied Kim Jong Il’s decision-making, told me, “He always seemed to know the boundaries of his adversaries’ tolerance for provocation. He would go so far, then pull back just in time. He had finely tuned antennae.” Post said that he worries that Kim Jong Un has been thrust into a complicated scenario with little time to hone those skills. “His father had two decades in the wings before he formally took over,” Post said. “The son had two years.”

There was nothing preordained about which of Kim Jong Il’s children would run the country. Evans Revere, the former Korea expert at the State Department, said that Kim Jong Un became the successor largely on the basis of attitude and aggression. When Kim was a child, he would wear a Soviet military uniform on his birthday. The palace staff took to calling him Comrade General. He gave off an “inner strength,” according to Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese chef who spent part of his time as a playmate for the children. Fujimoto, who later wrote a memoir, entitled “Kim Jong Il’s Chef,” gave the young Kim video games and remote-controlled cars as gifts and, because the boy loved basketball, arranged for his sister to send VHS tapes of Chicago Bulls games.

In 1996, Kim joined a brother, Jong Chul, in Bern, Switzerland; they stayed with an aunt. At school there, Kim went by a pseudonym, Pak Un, and was introduced to other students as the son of the North Korean Ambassador. “One day, he said to me, ‘Yeah, I am the son of the leader of North Korea.’ But I didn’t believe him, because it was a normal school,” his classmate João Micaelo recalled, in a television interview. “He was very quiet. He didn’t speak with anyone. Maybe it was because most of the people, they didn’t take the time to understand him. He was competitive at sports. He didn’t like to lose, like every one of us. For him, basketball was everything.” Kim drew pictures of Michael Jordan and slept with a basketball, according to Ko Yong Suk, the aunt who cared for him. She took him skiing in the Alps, swimming on the French Riviera, and to the Disney park in Paris. He showed flashes of stubbornness. If he was scolded for not studying, he’d refuse to eat. “He wasn’t a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered,” Ko told the Washington Post last year. (She and her husband defected to the U.S. and now run a dry-cleaning business, under assumed names.)

When it came time for Kim Jong Il to choose an heir, his four daughters were ineligible, because of their gender. His eldest son, Jong Nam, was more a playboy than a statesman, and, in 2001, he was caught trying to enter Japan on a forged passport, to take his four-year-old son to Tokyo Disneyland. The next-oldest son, Jong Chul, was reserved and gentle. While in Switzerland, he had written a poem called “My Ideal World,” which began, “If I had my ideal world I would not allow weapons and atom bombs anymore. I would destroy all terrorists with the Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme.” According to Fujimoto, Kim Jong Il said that Jong Chul was unfit to rule “because he is like a little girl.” (He now works as an aide to his brother, and is thought to be his natural successor.)

At lunchtime on a boat on the Taedong River, the state TV channel broadcasts images of artillery, missiles, and fighter jets.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

That left Jong Un, who had received a degree in physics from Kim Il Sung University, had trained as an artillery officer, and was active in security and political work. In 2009, North Korea specialists began hearing that Jong Un, then twenty-five, was the likely successor. “He had never been in charge of anything, had never checked any of the boxes that you would normally expect someone to check on their way up through the ranks,” Revere said. “But clearly he had some personality characteristics and traits that appealed to his father, and those included a level of authority and aggression and self-confidence—some traits that his father didn’t have.”

Before assuming power, Kim involved himself in a brazen military operation that provided a preview of his tolerance for risk, according to U.S. intelligence. In March, 2010, the North torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, killing forty-six personnel. It also shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing two people. These acts could have generated a fierce response, but, in the end, Seoul did not retaliate.

Alexandre Mansourov, the former Soviet diplomat in Pyongyang, told me that Kim’s role in the attacks reassured élites that he wasn’t averse to confrontation. “It was domestic positioning,” Mansourov said. “He needed to prove to them and his father that he could stand up.” That fall, Kim was promoted to the rank of general and made his first public appearance by his father’s side, signalling to the world that he was the chosen successor.

In his rapid rise, Kim acquired defining habits of mind. Mansourov said, “He’s a person who was never told no. Nobody drew the red line, and said, ‘Not a step further.’ Nobody punched him in the face, made him feel hurt. We say, ‘A man begins to grow his wisdom tooth when he bites more than he can chew.’ With Kim Jong Un, he has never yet bitten more than he can chew. Whatever he sets his sights on he gets. He keeps pushing, and pushing, and pushing. We don’t know where his brakes are, and I suspect he doesn’t know where he can stop.”

III. “Single-Hearted Unity”

After a couple of days in Pyongyang, I was eager to get some glimpses of life beyond the capital. My minders agreed to an outing. Up before dawn, we climbed into the Toyota and headed toward the demilitarized zone, which marks the border with South Korea. Leaving Pyongyang, we passed through a checkpoint, and smooth asphalt eventually gave way to potholes brimming with rainwater. The nation’s wealth and modernity, such as it is, is largely limited to the capital. The road emptied first of cars, then of bicycles, until we passed only clusters of farmers. A woman balancing a load on her head walked along railroad tracks to a point unseen. Without the industrial haze that hovers over much of East Asia, the North Korean landscape is an incandescent green, with layers of hills beyond. Eighty per cent of the country is mountainous. (American military planners liken the terrain to Afghanistan’s.)

We stopped to stretch our legs beside a closed restaurant and spotted two busloads of foreign tourists. On September 1st, American tourists would be banned from visiting North Korea, under a State Department order prompted by the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who had been convicted of “a hostile act against the state,” for trying to remove a propaganda poster from the wall of a hotel in Pyongyang. In June, American officials, having discovered that Warmbier had been in a coma for more than a year, secured his release. He died six days after returning home.

I mentioned the upcoming ban, and Pak said that it was a pity, because, after years of internal deliberations, North Korea had been preparing to accept more foreign visitors. “The military used to be very unhappy about tourists coming here, because they might see the secrets of what we’re doing. But now we have gained strength.”

In recent months, I’d spoken to American negotiators involved in Warmbier’s case, and they wondered why it had ended tragically. (In the past two decades, at least sixteen Americans have been detained while visiting North Korea, but no others have suffered as much harm.) Warmbier was arrested in January, 2016. After a show trial, he was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. Pyongyang reported that Warmbier contracted botulism, was given a sedative, and entered a coma. But doctors in Cincinnati who treated him after his release found no traces of botulism. Many North Korea specialists wondered if he fell ill and was given a catastrophic overdose of medication. Others suspected that he was beaten or interrogated to the point of collapse, but that would be out of the ordinary; most American detainees in North Korea are not beaten, because they are considered bargaining chips.

Negotiators for the Warmbier family, such as Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, had been frustrated in their efforts, and I asked Pak why the government had stonewalled them. Pak blamed an Obama Administration decision, in July, 2016, to impose personal sanctions on Kim Jong Un and other top officials. “Obama blacklisted our leaders, and smeared them by name,” Pak said. “At that point, we could not accept it. We cut off the New York channel and we adopted wartime measures. From then on, we said, the situation will stay as is.”

A mural at the Museum of Natural History.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Families enjoy National Liberation Day (August 15th) at the Rungna Dolphinarium.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

I told him that Warmbier’s death had done more damage to North Korea’s reputation in the U.S. than he probably realized. Pak was unmoved. “He broke our rules, and we take that very seriously,” he said. That morning, the news from America was about the racist demonstrations in Charlottesville, and Pak explained, “In the D.P.R.K., the military thinks Americans come here and try to do whatever they want, like white supremacists are doing in the United States.” (Three Americans are still detained in North Korea: Kim Dong-chul was convicted of spying and is serving a ten-year sentence; Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim are being held on unspecified charges.)

By midmorning, we had reached the D.M.Z., an open gash across the Peninsula, a remnant of the Korean War. For most Americans, the war is overshadowed by other dramas of the twentieth century, but it’s impossible to understand North Korea’s hostility toward the U.S. today without looking at the history. In June, 1950, North Korea, seeking to unify the Peninsula under Communism, invaded the South. The United States and China entered the war on opposing sides, and by 1953 President Eisenhower had concluded that the conflict had reached a stalemate. That July, after more than four million people had been killed, the sides signed a ceasefire, but not a peace treaty.

The regime’s efforts to cultivate paranoia and contempt for America are rooted in the scale and the devastation of the bombing during the war. Dean Rusk, who later became Secretary of State, recalled, in an oral history in 1985, that the United States bombed “every brick that was standing on top of another, everything that moved.” General Curtis LeMay, the head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984, “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off—what—twenty per cent of the population.” After the ceasefire, each side walked back two thousand metres, creating the D.M.Z., a buffer zone two and a half miles wide. Large numbers of troops are stationed on both sides, and outbreaks of violence have killed several hundred soldiers over the years. In the most recent incident, in August, 2015, two South Korean soldiers were wounded by land mines.

The Korean People’s Army assigned Lieutenant Colonel Pang Myong Jin to show me around. Pang is in his late thirties, with prominent cheekbones and a sharp chin. He wore a green uniform and an officer’s cap as broad as a dinner plate. We drove down a narrow road, through a gap in the tank traps and the barbed wire, to a clearing in the forest, which the North Koreans have turned into a shrine, called the North Korea Peace Museum. In their version of the conflict, the United States started the Korean War; the singular leadership of Kim Il Sung led to a humiliating defeat of the Americans, who have tried, ever since, to provoke another war. “This was the first time that the U.S. was defeated by the Korean people,” Pang told me. He led me to a tall stone tablet with a Korean inscription:

The great leader, Comrade Kim Jong Il, visited this spot four times, including on July 19, 1972. The esteemed high commander, Comrade Kim Jong Un, visited on March 3, 2012. They taught us the valuable lesson of preserving and passing on this historic site—where invading Americans knelt before the people in surrender—to the next generation, in a reunified homeland.

Every country valorizes its war record, but North Korea’s mythology—the improbable victory, the divine wisdom of the Kim family, and America’s enduring weakness and hostility—has shaped its conception of the present to a degree that is hard for the rest of the world to understand. In something close to a state religion, North Korea tells its people that their nation may be small, but its unique “single-hearted unity” would crush a beleaguered American military. That’s a volatile notion. Robert Jervis, a Columbia University political scientist, who studies the origins of war, once observed, “War is most likely if you overestimate others’ hostility but underestimate their capabilities.” It can be hard to know where North Korea’s reverie ends and realism resumes.

At our last stop, we drove through a grove of ginkgo trees, and arrived at a blue-painted hut that straddles the border with South Korea. North Korean guards in helmets watched us approach. When the two sides hold negotiations, they meet at a heavy wooden table that sits in both countries. I took a seat. “The microphones are the dividing line,” Pang said. I walked across the hut to stand, for a moment, in South Korea. When we stepped back outside, Pang said, “This is a very dangerous place, but the respected leader came here during the military exercises, at the highest level of tension. Do you think Trump would dare to come here?”

Yes, I said. He looked disappointed.

I asked Pang if he thinks the U.S. and North Korea will find themselves at war again. He reminded me that Kim had threatened to fire missiles into the Pacific Ocean. “We will fire a warning shot at Guam, and if that doesn’t work then we will fire a warning shot at the mainland United States. We want to achieve world peace, but if this isn’t possible then we are prepared for war.”

Citizens over the age of sixteen are expected to wear a badge celebrating at least one member of the Kim family.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

If you fire at Guam, I asked, how do you expect the U.S. to respond? He thought for a moment. It was quiet, except for the drone of cicadas. Then Pang cited a comment by Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, in a recent appearance on the “Today” show, which had filtered through translations and reached Pang more or less intact. Graham recounted his conversations with Trump, in which the President said he was prepared to strike Korea because the casualties will be “over there.”

“Trump said if there is war, then it will happen in the D.P.R.K., not in the U.S.,” Pang said. “So clearly he is preparing for war. He understands what he’s saying.”

What, exactly, are America’s options with North Korea? Many Korea specialists in Washington favor a major increase in pressure tactics, known as “strategic strangulation.” The U.S. would expand the use of cyber hacking and other covert methods to disrupt missile development and unnerve the government; it would flood the North with smuggled flash drives loaded with uncensored entertainment and information. It would also attempt to close off North Korea’s illicit trade networks, by interdicting ships, expanding sanctions against Chinese companies, and freezing the assets of individual leaders. “Make hundreds of millions of dollars of North Korean deposits in a Swiss bank disappear,” Evans Revere said. “The goal of this is not to cause the collapse of the regime. The goal of this is to convince the North Koreans that collapse is just over the horizon, and, if Kim Jong Un is a rational actor, then he will understand that.” Critics of the plan say that North Korea has perfected its ability to absorb pain, and that the plan is not fundamentally different from what previous Administrations have attempted.

There is also scattered support for a less confrontational option, a short-term deal known as a “freeze for freeze.” North Korea would stop weapons development in exchange for a halt or a reduction in U.S.-South Korean military exercises. Proponents say that a freeze, which could be revoked if either side cheats, is hardly perfect, but the alternatives are worse. Critics say that versions of it have been tried, without success, and that it will damage America’s alliance with the South. Thus far the Trump Administration has no interest. “The idea that some have suggested, of a so-called ‘freeze for freeze,’ is insulting,” Nikki Haley, the U.N. Ambassador, said before the Security Council on September 4th. “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard.”

Outside the Administration, the more people I talked to, the more I heard a strong case for some level of diplomatic contact. When Obama dispatched James Clapper to Pyongyang, in 2014, to negotiate the release of two prisoners, Clapper discovered that North Korea had misread the purpose of the trip. The government had presumed that he was coming in part to open a new phase in the relationship. “They were bitterly disappointed,” he said. Clapper’s visit convinced him that the absence of diplomatic contact is opening a dangerous gulf of misperception. “I was blown away by the siege mentality—the paranoia—that prevails among the leadership of North Korea. When we sabre-rattle, when we fly B-1s accompanied by jet escorts from the Republic of Korea and Japan, it makes us feel good, it reassures the allies, but what we don’t factor in is the impact on the North Koreans.”

Clapper went on, “I think that what we should do is consider seriously, in consultation with South Korea, establishing an interest section in Pyongyang much like we had in Havana for decades, to deal with a government that we didn’t recognize. If we had a permanent presence in Pyongyang, I wonder whether the outcome of the tragedy of Otto Warmbier might have been avoided. Secondly, it would provide on-scene insight into what is actually going on in North Korea—intelligence.”

A fruit stall outside a station of the Pyongyang Metro.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Table-tennis gear at the Kobangsan Guest House, on the outskirts of Pyongyang.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Ultimately, the Trump Administration must decide if it can live with North Korea as a nuclear state. During the Cold War, the United States used deterrence, arms control, and diplomacy to coexist with a hostile, untrustworthy adversary. At its height, the Soviet Union had fifty-five thousand nuclear weapons. According to the rand Corporation, the North Koreans are on track to have between fifty and a hundred by 2020; that would be less than half the size of Great Britain’s arsenal.

Susan Rice, who served as Obama’s national-security adviser, argued, in a Times Op-Ed last month, that the U.S. can “rely on traditional deterrence” to blunt North Korea’s threat. But McMaster is skeptical that the Soviet model can be applied to Pyongyang. He told me, “There are reasons why this situation is different from the one we were in with the Soviets. The North Koreans have shown, through their words and actions, their intention to blackmail the United States into abandoning our South Korean ally, potentially clearing the path for a second Korean War.”

If the Administration were to choose a preventive war, one option is “decapitation,” an effort to kill senior leaders with a conventional or even a nuclear attack, though most analysts consider the risks unacceptable. Such a strike could rally the population around the regime and cause a surviving commander to respond with a nuclear weapon. Another option is akin to Israel’s 1981 stealth attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor, the linchpin of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons development, which set back Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons by at least a decade. “That’s a textbook case of a preventive war,” the senior Administration official told me.

But the comparison between Osirak and North Korea is limited. In 1981, Iraq had yet to make a bomb, and it had just one major nuclear target, which was isolated in the desert and relatively easy to eliminate. North Korea already has dozens of usable nuclear warheads, distributed across an unknown number of facilities, many of them hidden underground. Even destroying their missiles on the launch pad has become much harder, because the North has developed mobile launchers and solid-fuel missiles, which can be rolled out and fired with far less advance notice than older liquid-fuel missiles.

The Obama Administration studied the potential costs and benefits of a preventive war intended to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Its conclusion, according to Rice, in the Times, was that it would be “lunacy,” resulting in “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.” North Korea likely would retaliate with an attack on Seoul. The North has positioned thousands of artillery cannons and rocket launchers in range of the South Korean capital, which has a population of ten million, and other densely populated areas. (Despite domestic pressure to avoid confrontation, South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, has accepted the installation of an American missile-defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or thaad.)

Some two hundred thousand Americans live in South Korea. (Forty thousand U.S. military personnel are stationed in Japan, which would also be vulnerable.) A 2012 study of the risks of a North Korean attack on Seoul, by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, estimates that sixty-five thousand civilians would die on the first day, and tens of thousands more in the days that followed. If Kim used his stockpiles of sarin gas and biological weapons, the toll would reach the millions. U.S. and South Korean forces could eventually overwhelm the North Korean artillery, but, by any measure, the conflict would yield one of the worst mass killings in the modern age.

In dozens of conversations this summer, in the United States and Asia, experts from across the political spectrum predicted that, despite the threats from Trump and McMaster, the U.S. most likely will accept the reality of North Korea as a nuclear state, and then try to convince Kim Jong Un that using—or selling—those weapons would bring about its annihilation. John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University, in Seoul, said, “If, one day, an American President comes along—maybe Trump—who understands the problem is the hostile relationship, and takes steps to improve it, then the slow train to denuclearization could leave the station.”

Managing a nuclear North Korea will not be cheap. It will require stronger missile defenses in South Korea, Japan, Alaska, and Hawaii, and more investment in intelligence to track the locations of North Korea’s weapons, to insure that we pose a credible threat of destroying them. Scott Snyder, of the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “I think we’re going to end up in a situation where we live with a nuclear-capable North Korea, but it will be a situation that is incredibly dangerous. Because, at that point, any unexplained move that looks like it could involve preparations for a nuclear strike could precipitate an American preëmptive response.” Even that risk, by almost all accounts, is better than a war.

IV. “We’re Not Going to Die Alone”

On the morning of August 17th, I awoke and found a new tweet from @realDonaldTrump: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable.” What decision was the President referring to? After poking around online, I discovered that Trump had picked up on Kim’s comment that he “would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before deciding whether to fire missiles at Guam. To Trump, this was Kim standing down. He was pleased. (A few days later, Trump told a rally in Phoenix, “He is starting to respect us.”) But, it seemed, Trump was misreading the signals. “He only read one half of the statement,” Pak said, in frustration.

That morning, I was scheduled to interview a senior diplomat named Jo Chol Su, who had served in the Embassy in Geneva before being assigned, recently, to work on the United States. We spoke at my hotel, seated in a pair of giant armchairs, beside an especially large pair of Kim portraits.

Jo arrived with a young colleague to translate for us and carried a sheaf of printed remarks. Jo asked if he could begin with “an overview of the current situation and the history” of relations between our countries. He studied my face and added, “I’ll make it brief.” He spoke for seventeen minutes, lambasting the latest sanctions and hailing the ICBMs as a new era. “Today, we’ve got everything we need in our hands, and it’s preposterous to think that new sanctions and new threats will change anything.”

When he finished, I mentioned that, overnight, Trump had issued a tweet about Kim Jong Un. Jo looked stricken. There was nothing in his prepared remarks about it. He asked me to read it aloud, and he jotted it down as I read it. When I was done, Jo looked up and said, through his translator, “Once more, please.”

I read the tweet again. Jo stared at his paper. After a pause, he reiterated some of his speech and then improvised: “The U.S. should put an end to its high-handed practices and unilateral compulsion toward the D.P.R.K. and just leave us alone.”

Commuters reading the official newspaper on a Pyongyang Metro platform.

Photograph by Max Pinckers for The New Yorker

Jo wrapped up with a grand farewell. “I know that The New Yorker is very influential and I’ve received good feelings through our dialogue today,” the translator said. “I’d be grateful if you just write articles which are conducive to the improved bilateral relations between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S.”

The three of us walked to the lobby. Jo lit a cigarette, ordered a coffee, and turned to me and said, in nearly perfect English, “I’m sorry—I should’ve asked first if you’d like a coffee. Can I order you one?”

Diplomats, no matter what their language skills, often use a translator on formal occasions, but I was impressed by how swiftly Jo eased out of his official mask. We chatted, and I asked him if he’d been to the United States. Never, he said. I had wondered what it must be like to experience the United States through the fog of Twitter. It turned out that it wasn’t much different from Americans trying to make sense of North Korea through its propaganda.

After breakfast one morning, Mr. Pak drove me to a subway station in downtown Pyongyang, and announced, “This is for the nuclear war.”

By now, I was accustomed to his chipper declarations about an imminent cataclysm, but this one baffled me. He explained, “Everything here has a dual-use purpose.” He pointed to an underpass, beneath an intersection, which he said can serve as a shelter. In the back yards of apartment blocks, residents can take cover in storage cellars. Surrounded by commuters, we boarded an escalator, heading down to the station.

Built in the seventies, with Russian help, the Pyongyang Metro lies a hundred metres underground, nearly twice as far as the deepest platform in the New York City subway. Pyongyang stations are equipped with large blast doors. “During the Korean War, we were threatened by nukes,” Pak said. In 1950, President Truman raised the possibility of using the atomic bomb in Korea. “It touched our people’s minds,” he said, adding, “We don’t want that to happen again. And now we’ve got nukes and we can comfortably say, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

In the event of a nuclear war, American strategists assume that North Korea would first launch a nuclear or chemical weapon at an American military base in Japan or Guam, in the belief that the U.S. would then hold its fire, rather than risk a strike on its mainland. I mentioned that to Pak, but he countered with a different view. “The point of nuclear war is to give total destruction to another party,” he said. “There are no moves, no maneuvers. That’s a conventional war.”

When we reached the subway platform, we were treated to patriotic orchestral music playing on the loudspeaker. Broadsheet newspaper pages were hung behind glass for people to read while they waited for the train. The scene reminded me of thirty-year-old photos I’ve seen of Beijing. We rode the train awhile, and then got on the escalator for the long ascent to the surface.

I was glad to be back in the open air. We got in the Toyota, and Pak said, “If the U.S. puts sanctions and sanctions and sanctions and sanctions, if they drive us to the edge of the cliff, we will attack. That’s how the world wars have started.” He thought awhile and then said, “Don’t push us too hard, because you’re going to start a war. And we should say, we’re not going to die alone.”

This was a familiar refrain. Some of the American officials in Washington who are immersed in the problem of North Korea frequently mention the old Korean saying “Nuh jukgo, nah jukja!” It means “You die, I die!” It’s the expression you hear in a barroom fight, or from an exasperated spouse—the notion that one party will go over the cliff if it will take the other down, too. Krys Lee, a Korean-American author and translator, said, “My mother also used it on me!” Lee finds that it’s hard for Americans and Koreans to gauge each other’s precise emotions because Koreans tend to use “more abstract, dramatic, and sentimental language.” She has heard that many Korean literature students find Raymond Carver—the most laconic of American authors—“very dry, and that he didn’t translate well.”

On my last morning in Pyongyang, I visited the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. Shortly after Kim came to power, he renovated and expanded it; the museum is now nearly three-quarters the size of the Louvre. Choe Un Jong, a captain in the Korean People’s Army, showed me around. We were the only visitors. (It was a Friday, when, Choe said, the museum is open only to foreigners.) A tall woman in her twenties, Choe had stylish wavy hair that fell to her shoulders. She said, apologetically, “Today I cannot show you all of the museum. It takes three or four days.”

We stood beneath a three-story granite statue of a barrel-chested young Kim Il Sung, looking indistinguishable from his grandson. I told Choe that I had trouble telling their statues apart. She was thrilled. “Without any explanation, people think that that’s Marshal Kim Jong Un!” she said. The exhibits made use of life-size wax figures: there was a Korean commando crouching in the woods, and a dead American soldier with his eyes rolled back and a raven picking at his chest. We walked past captured howitzers and tanks, and a U.S. plane that she said delivered “germ bombs” loaded with “malaria, cholera, and typhoid.” (That claim has been widely debunked.) Choe sat me down for a video called “Who Started the Korean War?,” in which the narrator said, “The Korean War was precisely a direct product of the aggressive foreign policy of the United States to dominate the world.”

The mythology was no surprise, but one exhibit contained a stark implication for the current crisis. Beside the museum, we boarded the U.S.S. Pueblo, a Navy spy ship that was captured in January, 1968, long after the end of the Korean War. The seizure—during a surge of hostilities not unlike the present—was an audacious gamble on North Korea’s part. One American crew member was killed and eighty-two were detained. Lyndon Johnson considered retaliating with a naval blockade or even a nuclear strike. But he was consumed by the war in Vietnam, and, in the end, he did not retaliate. After eleven months, the U.S. apologized for spying and won the release of the prisoners.

The Pueblo incident nearly started a war, but Kim Il Sung drew a powerful, and potentially misleading, lesson from it. In a private conversation in 1971, Kim told Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian President, that the Pueblo and other standoffs had convinced him that Washington backs down. “The Americans don’t want to continue this fight,” he said, according to documents in Romania’s state archives. “They let us know it’s not their intention to fight the Koreans again.”

Van Jackson, a scholar of international relations who served in the Pentagon from 2009 to 2014, spent years analyzing the Kim family’s handling of crises, including the seizure of the Pueblo. The grandfather’s theory of victory still drives North Korea toward provocation, he said, but the regime also knows its limits; to survive, it chooses violence but avoids escalation. “When South Korea blares giant propaganda speakers at the North from the D.M.Z., North Korea fires warning shots nearby but doesn’t dare attack the speakers themselves,” he said. “When South Korean N.G.O.s send propaganda leaflets into North Korea using hot-air balloons—which really pisses them off—North Korea threatens to attack the N.G.O.s but instead just fires at the unmanned balloons.” In Jackson’s view, North Korea is not irrational, but it very much wants America to think that it is.

Jackson believes that the Trump Administration’s threat to launch a preventive war opens a new phase. “Trump may abandon the one thing that has prevented war in the past: U.S. restraint,” he told me. In embracing new rhetoric and rationale, the U.S. risks a spiral of hostility in which neither side intends to start a war but threats and intimidation lead to ever more aggressive behavior. Trump and Kim may goad each other into the very conflict that they are both trying to avoid.

In 1966, Thomas Schelling, the deterrence expert, wrote that brinkmanship hinges, above all, on “beliefs and expectations.” Our grasp of North Korea’s beliefs and expectations is not much better than its grasp of ours. To go between Washington and Pyongyang at this nuclear moment is to be struck, most of all, by how little the two understand each other. In eighteen years of reporting, I’ve never felt as much uncertainty at the end of a project, a feeling that nobody—not the diplomats, the strategists, or the scholars who have devoted their lives to the subject—is able to describe with confidence how the other side thinks. We simply don’t know how Kim Jong Un really regards the use of his country’s nuclear arsenal, or how much North Korea’s seclusion and mythology has distorted its understanding of American resolve. We don’t know whether Kim Jong Un is taking ever-greater risks because he is determined to fulfill his family’s dream of retaking South Korea, or because he is afraid of ending up like Qaddafi.

To some in the Trump Administration, the gaps in our knowledge of North Korea represent an argument against deterrence; they are unwilling to assume that Pyongyang will be constrained by the prospect of mutually assured destruction. But if the alternative is a war with catastrophic costs, then gaps in our knowledge should make a different case. Iraq taught us the cost of going to war against an adversary that we do not fully understand. Before we take a radical step into Asia, we should be sure that we’re not making that mistake again. ♦

This article appears in other versions of the September 18, 2017, issue, with the headline “On the Brink.”
Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, and covers politics and foreign affairs.

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……..and now what Buckwheat?…..that’s a long read and I understand that few will read  it all ….which I really don’t understand but who gives a hoot?……. I’ll go back for another read before Updating with any comments at there end.  May not be any….or there could be too many…….remains to be seen. ……………..w

……..if no comments…this will be it……. as in

 

…..this is how we should deal with all those General Lees….and their whitewashed history

Op-Ed by Lisa Richardson

I’m a black daughter of the Confederacy, and ..move the monuments into museums ….there tell the story of their lives…………end their utility as flashpoints for racism and division, and, once and for all, allow them to retire from their long service as sentries over a whitewashed history.

Attack, assault, erasure, destruction — well, truth and justice in the face of denial and dissembling can certainly feel like that. But there is no such thing as whites-only history, there never was, not even with regard to the Confederacy.

Like millions of African Americans, I am the descendant of a Confederate soldier. True, we are most likely descendants through coerced sex and rape, but we are descendants all the same. According to Ancestry.com, the DNA of the average African American is 29% European. These bronzed southern soldiers are literally our forefathers too.

In the peculiar, perverted institution of slavery, white men sired, enslaved and often sold their own children; black nieces and white nephews played together before adulthood drove them to disparate destinies. Whites owned their black siblings. Thomas Jefferson was 45 when he fathered the first of six children on the 15-year-old Sally Hemmings, who was his wife’s half sister and also her property. My great-great-grandmother Mary Ellen Fulton was her mistress’s niece.

None of this is new or secret information. But the Southern states established powerful “don’t ask, don’t tell” rules that were essential to both their social structure and the economics of slavery. With power on one side and humiliation on the other, our mythical, segregated history took shape.

Of course, most white Southerners of the period were neither villains nor heroes. The majority did not enslave other people, but neither did they advocate the end of slavery or even the softening of slavery. They did not work to halt the worst practices of the era — the sale of children away from parents, the separation of husbands and wives — nor did they seek to end the concubinage of enslaved girls and women. Many did not own slaves simply because they couldn’t afford them.

Blacks and whites will have different perspectives on their entwined history. War victory for my white great-great-great grandfather, Jeremiah H. Dial, who enlisted in the 31st Arkansas infantry regiment and was wounded in the battle of Stone River, Tenn., in December 1862, would have meant defeat for my great-great-great-grandmother Lavinia Fulton and their daughter, Mary Ellen. Instead, Lavinia died a free woman, living to play with her grandchildren and give thanks to God every Sunday in church in Birmingham, Ala. I thank God my great-great-great-grandfather lost. Every right-thinking person should be glad he lost.

Yet the monuments debate isn’t really about the past. It’s about a present-day assertion of white supremacy and whether our nation is going to stop making excuses and stare it down. Most of the statues, as has been widely discussed, were erected long after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. They were hoisted into view to assert white dominance at specific points in time when African Americans gained a measure of political influence — during Reconstruction and the civil rights era. With the bronzes came domestic terrorism, lynchings, bombings and cross burnings. The current uptick in neo-Nazi and white supremacist activity was entirely predictable. With clockwork precision it surged at the time of the nation’s first African American president.

So why do some people treat modern icons as if they were ancient relics, like marbles from the Parthenon?

Fear. History isn’t being erased, but it is being corrected. Relocating a Confederate statue to, say, a museum, is an acknowledgment that we see the naked emperor; we see through the contorted logic that it is possible to separate the Confederacy from the institution of slavery, that it’s a whites-only story and slavery is blacks-only, and that treason is the same as patriotism.

The president has asked, “Where will it end?” Will the removal of General Lees lead to upheaval for Thomas Jefferson? Trigger the end for George Washington?

I would ask, How could a patriot be confused with a traitor? How can leading a war to bring forth a new country be confused with leading a rebellion to tear it in two?

The two kinds of monuments do, however, have something in common. The memorialized men serve as avatars, as conduits for the values they espoused. Revolutionary-era monuments lead us to contemplate and revere Revolutionary-era values. Confederate monuments do the same for Confederate ideals. The men of both ages were flawed, but the values of one age bind and sustain us as a nation. The values of the other do not.

As for my Confederate ancestor, I consider him without bitterness. He was a man of his time, his family, his community and his culture. He probably wasn’t particularly evil — just an ordinary man, without the advantage we have: 152 years’ perspective on the Civil War. I have met a few of his white descendants — my cousins — and we regard each other with genuine affection.

To those who would keep Jeremiah Dial frozen in time, forever trapped at the moment he chose a cause on the wrong side of humanity, I believe you do him a disservice. To those who use him as an excuse to fly the flag of modern-day anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry, you have no right.

To all the bronze Confederate soldiers, in whom I see the image of my great-great-great-grandfather, I would extend this grace. Without resentment or rancor, I would move them into museums and there tell the story of their lives. I would end their utility as flashpoints for racism and division, and, once and for all, allow them to retire from their long service as sentries over a whitewashed history.

Lisa Richardson is a former member of the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board.

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…thanks to Lisa and the LA Times…….w

….what would you do if I sang out of tune?…….would you stand up and walk out on me?……….

 

 

….Moose and Squirrel Must Die…….OR NOT…..Weekend Edition…..

….the only free press is the one you own….

 (MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP/Getty Images)

Responding to a Russian government demand to drastically slash its diplomatic staff in Russia, the Trump administration Thursday ordered Moscow to close three of its consular offices in the United States.

Russia will be required to close its Consulate General in San Francisco, the chancery annex in Washington and the consular annex in New York, the State Department announced.

The move was the latest tit-for-tat action in worsening relations between Washington and Moscow, despite President Trump’s expressions of friendliness toward President Vladimir Putin.

Angered over a package of congressionally mandated economic sanctions, Russia had ordered the U.S. to cut its staff in Russia by around two-thirds, to 455.

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…..But Wait!….There’s More!…..on  ……”the Russian thing”……………

Just so there’s no confusion: Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer emailed Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman? Seeking help from the Kremlin on a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow? During the presidential campaign?
Yes, this really happened. While most attention was rightly focused on the devastating flood in Houston, there was quite a bit of news on the Russia front — all of it, from President Trump’s perspective, quite bad.The revelations begin with a Trump business associate named Felix Sater . A Russian émigré who bragged about his Kremlin connections, Sater was a principal figure in development of the Trump Soho hotel and condominium project in lower Manhattan. Sater wrote a series of emails to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, touting the Moscow Trump Tower project as a way to help Trump win the presidency.In November 2015 — five months after Trump had entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination — Sater wrote to Cohen that he had “arranged” for Trump’s daughter Ivanka, during a 2006 visit to Moscow, “to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin.”The email went on, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this.”

Felix H. Sater, right, attends the Trump Soho Launch Party in 2007 in New York with Donald Trump, left, and Tevfik Arif, center.

Could Sater be just a blowhard who exaggerated his influence with the Russian president? Perhaps. But Ivanka Trump did tell the New York Times that she took a “brief tour of Red Square and the Kremlin” during that 2006 visit. The Times reported she said that “it is possible she sat in Mr. Putin’s chair during that tour but she did not recall it.”

There is no evidence that Cohen, one of Trump’s closest associates, found anything improper in Sater’s pledge to get Putin “on this program.” Nor did Cohen or anyone in the Trump Organization bother to disclose the emails — or the Trump firm’s effort, even during the campaign, to profitably emblazon the Trump name on the Moscow skyline — until the correspondence was turned over to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

And there’s more: In January 2016, with the Moscow project apparently stalled, Cohen went straight to the top to get it back on track — or at least tried to. He sent an email to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s longtime personal spokesman, “hereby requesting your assistance.”

Peskov confirmed that the email was received but said he did nothing about it and that it was not given to Putin.

So Trump was lying when he tweeted, shortly before his inauguration, that “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” The truth is that in October 2015, on the same day he participated in a GOP candidates’ debate, he signed a letter of intent for the Moscow Trump Tower project.

That is a “deal,” and Trump’s hunger to keep it alive may explain his reluctance to say anything critical about Putin. Or it may tell just part of the story.

The other part involves the whole question of collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign to meddle with the election and boost Trump’s chances. Sater’s boasts, by themselves, are hardly definitive. But of course there is the larger context, which includes the infamous meeting that Donald Trump Jr. convened in New York at which he hoped to receive dirt, courtesy of the Russian government, on Hillary Clinton.

Thus far we have the president’s son, son-in-law Jared Kushner (who was at that meeting), then-campaign manager Paul Manafort (also at the meeting) and now his personal lawyer all seemingly eager for Russian help in the election. Who in the campaign wasn’t willing to collude?

All of this is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the various congressional committees that are conducting investigations. Some have suggested that Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, the unrepentant “birther” and racial profiler, might have been a message to Trump associates facing heat from prosecutors: Hang tough and don’t worry, you’ll get pardons.

But there was more bad news for the president: Politico reported that Mueller is now cooperating and sharing information with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Presidents can only issue pardons for federal offenses, not state crimes. Uh-oh.

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 …………whatcha make of that tRump ?…your pardon gun may be shooting blanks!…..

####

……..g wiz folks….you’d think people would be getting tired of this………hit it Joe!..

Trump fatigue comes early 

Americans eventually tire of the presidents they elect. The political skills that fuel the rise of Roosevelts, Reagans and Obamas always seem to lose their allure over time as the promise of “Morning in America” and “Hope and Change” devolves into the cynicism of “Been There, Done That.”

Lyndon Johnson won in a landslide in 1964 but was pushed out of office four years later. Ronald Reagan breezed to reelection by winning 49 states in 1984, but two years later his power of persuasion was gone. In 1986, the Great Communicator couldn’t persuade voters living through the last days of the Cold War to support anti-communist allies in Central America. Even in the afterglow of Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection, the biggest political star in the world couldn’t pass gun reforms that 90 percent of Americans supported following the Sandy Hook massacre.

President Trump is, of course, the most radical example of this negative political phenomenon. Seven months into his maniacal presidency, Trump is driving his approval ratings to record lows and causing friends and foes alike to experience premature presidential fatigue.

Video Link

Former allies on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Examiner now criticize Trump for leadership failures and his abuse of power. Republicans on Capitol Hill more frequently call out the president’s aberrant behavior. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) questions the president’s ability to survive. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questions Trump’s stability.

By now, the president’s low poll numbers rarely raise an eyebrow. Newspapers have repeated ad nauseam that Trump is saddled with the worst approval ratings in U.S. history at this stage of his presidency. But this week, those lame approval ratings collapsed to a new low of 34 percent. A Fox News poll released Wednesday found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe Trump’s presidency is “tearing America apart.” And only 20 percent of younger voters now support the 71-year-old former reality television star.

President Trump likes to trumpet his “tremendous” support and strong base, but polls show that his approval rating is declining, even among key demographics that voted for him in 2016.

And even Trump’s famously forgiving base is growing tired of the commander in chief’s reckless routine. Trump supporters in a Pittsburgh focus group talked about how their patience with the petulant president was reaching an exhausting end. “Everybody knew he was a nut, but there comes a point in time where you need to become professional. He’s not even professional let alone presidential. Chill out, man,” was a woman’s advice. Another Trump supporter said that Trump’s manic need to dominate news cycles was driving him crazy. “He’s on the television all the time.” Another weary supporter said, “He’s such an incredibly flawed individual who has articulated many of the values that I hold dear and the messenger is overwhelming the message.”

That focus group sounded a lot like recent phone calls I had with friends in Pensacola and Birmingham who have been Trump supporters from the start. Not long ago, most were telling me that I needed to back off the president and give him a chance to succeed. But after Charlottesville, that began to change. One friend after another tells me they have had enough of Trump’s self-destructive behavior and are tired of the president being his own worst enemy. Like the focus group, my Republican friends are growing impatient with the man they once believed could change Washington and make America great again.

The president keeps bleeding support, Democrats remain rudderless, Washington is still gridlocked, and the problems that propelled Trump to the presidency are getting worse. From Pittsburgh to Pensacola, many Trump voters would prefer a leader who stops attacking allies, stays off Twitter and lets Congress get something done before Democrats retake control.

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……………hey Joe……where you going?…………O nevermind….here comes Eugene again…….Mr. Robinson…..Headline Opener….

Trump is delusional about his popularity

Enough, already, with all the takeouts and think pieces about how President Trump’s loyal basecontinues to support him. That’s neither surprising nor impressive — and it’s certainly not the point about this shameful and appalling presidency.

Also, it’s not entirely true. Trump won 47 percent of the popular vote in November’s election. That’s less than Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent but means nevertheless that nearly half the country put its trust in a man who had already shown himself to be a liar, a buffoon, a demagogue and a self-proclaimed sexual harasser.

This week, Gallup reported Trump’s approval rating at 36 percent, with 60 percent of those polled disapproving of the job he’s doing. Since the advent of polling, no president has been so unpopular at this point in his tenure. Clearly, some who voted for Trump have had second thoughts. But most have not, and why, at this point, should anyone expect otherwise?

It might feel like six years, but it’s only been six months and change since Inauguration Day — far too soon for even Trump to have alienated everyone who trusted him with their hopes and dreams. Give him time. He’s working on it.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Trump has a solid base of about 35 percent of voters who will stick with him no matter what. Much of his base lives in small towns, rural areas, the South and the Rust Belt — which has inspired countless lazy op-eds about how the jaded sophisticates of the East and West Coasts are too smug and insular to have a clue about the “real America.”

Please. Just stop.

This country is riven by many fault lines, race and educational attainment being perhaps the most important. But no citizen’s America is any more “real” than anyone else’s. The voice of a laid-off West Virginia coal miner is no more authentic than that of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, a Hollywood production assistant, an Upper West Side advertising executive or — and this may be shocking — an opinion writer for a mainstream news outlet. If people such as me live in an elite, progressive “bubble,” it must be an awfully big one; indicators such as the popular vote suggest there are more Americans inside than out.

I accept that most Trump voters — those who were not heeding his campaign’s dog-whistle appeals to white supremacy and racial grievance — had an understandable motive: Frustrated with a political system that seems incapable of getting much of anything accomplished, they decided to lob in a grenade, blow it to smithereens and start over.

I get that. I get how Trump’s outrageous statements on Twitter and in campaign-style rallies sound fresh and encouraging to his die-hard supporters, not vicious and loopy. Trump gets it, too, and that’s why I doubt anyone will ever be able to pry his smartphone from his dainty clutches. Some of his tweetstorms are primal screams from an insecure man who is in way over his head, but others are carefully crafted to show that he is keeping the faith with those who elected him to break the rules.

But Trump is genuinely delusional about both his talents and his popularity. On Thursday, a day after he grudgingly signed the Russia sanctions bill, he tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”

Apparently he’s never heard of the Cuban missile crisis, in which Washington and Moscow came close to nuclear war. But why is he going out of his way to attack a Congress led by his own party? Senators, especially, do not take kindly to such abuse, as Trump should have learned from the health-care vote. It might be different if he were a popular president. But he is not.

How long will Trump’s base stay with him? I don’t know, but clearly he’s worried. Even Rasmussen, the generally conservative survey that usually shows him as having more support than other pollsters detect, released a poll this week showing Trump’s approval below 40 percent for the first time. He makes laughable claims about having accomplished more than any other president in his first months because he knows his support will slowly leak away if he fails at his central promise, which is to get stuff done. Thus far he has been a failure.

Trump voters are not blind to that fact. And their patience won’t last forever.

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…….The Racist and The Pussy Grabber…..

 ….so…?…Heard the one about The Racist and The Pussy Grabber?………

Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff, represents in miniature what President Trump would like to be more maximally—a successful American authoritarian.

The White House Press Office issued a statement that President Trump had pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

President Trump had little to offer that was specific or coherent in the rambling, hate-filled speech that he delivered in Phoenix this week—the one that he later assessed in a self-congratulatory tweet as “enthusiastic, dynamic, and fun.” The speech lurched between schoolyard bragging (“I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment” than the “élite” and “I live in the White House, too, which is really great”), the usual whining about reporters (“sick,” “bad,” “dishonest” people), and insults to Arizona’s two Republican senators, one of whom is currently battling brain cancer. The rhetorical flourishes borrowed from Fascist tropes, with their distinctive mix of vague language and unmistakable menace: the virtuous “we” and the unspecified “they,” who are trying to take away “our” customs and culture; the “thugs,” who protest the leader’s vision of America.

But there were a few moments when Trump got very particular, and one of them was when he chose to express his keen admiration for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County. In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court, for defying an earlier court order to stop detaining people solely on suspicion of their immigration status. In Phoenix, Trump hinted that he would pardon Arpaio. He said that he wasn’t going to cause controversy by issuing a pardon then and there, but Sheriff Joe “can feel good,” he pledged, and was “going to be just fine.” Trump is likely a fan of Arpaio’s because Arapio is a fan of his—an early supporter who also went all in for birtherism, at one point sending members of a so-called Cold Case Posse to Hawaii to dig up something incriminating about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

But Trump probably also likes Arpaio because the former sheriff represents in miniature what the President would like to be more maximally—a successful American authoritarian. Earlier this month, in a conversation with Fox News, Trump called Arpaio “an outstanding sheriff” and “a great American patriot.” It’s worth considering what it takes, in Trump’s view, to deserve such tributes. Arpaio, who served as the sheriff of Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, from 1993 until he was voted out of office, in 2016, has a long-standing reputation for flouting civil rights, particularly those of Latinos.

In 2011, an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that Arpaio’s sheriff’s department engaged in egregious racial profiling in its traffic stops and discrimination in its jailing practices. In Maricopa County, Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than “similarly situated non-Latino drivers,” and about a fifth of traffic stops, most of which involved Latino drivers, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable seizures. Sheriff’s department officers punished Latino inmates who had difficulty understanding orders in English by locking down their pods, putting them in solitary confinement, and refusing to replace their soiled sheets and clothes.

The investigation found that sheriff’s department officers addressed Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.”

Arpaio, throughout his tenure, specialized in meting out theatrical punishments both petty and cruel. He required that detainees wear old-fashioned, black-and-white striped uniforms and pink underwear, presumably for the dollop of extra humiliation such costuming offered. He brought back chain gangs, including for women and juveniles. He housed detainees outdoors, under Army-surplus tents, in Phoenix temperatures that regularly soar well above a hundred degrees. “I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,” Arpaio told my colleague William Finnegan, who wrote a Profile of Arpaio, in 2009. The sheriff called detainees “criminals” when they had not been convicted and once referred to his jail as “a concentration camp.” Finnegan described a federal investigation that found that

deputies had used stun guns on prisoners already strapped into a “restraint chair.” The family of one man who died after being forced into the restraint chair was awarded more than six million dollars as the result of a suit filed in federal court. The family of another man killed in the restraint chair got $8.25 million in a pre-trial settlement. (This deal was reached after the discovery of a surveillance video that showed fourteen guards beating, shocking, and suffocating the prisoner, and after the sheriff’s office was accused of discarding evidence, including the crushed larynx of the deceased.)

Like Trump, Arpaio regards reporters, activists, and critics of his policies as personal enemies as well as enemies of the people. The Justice Department investigation found that his department had “engaged in a pattern or practice of retaliating against individuals for exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.” It had “arrested individuals without cause, filed meritless complaints against the political adversaries of Sheriff Arpaio, and initiated unfounded civil lawsuits and investigations against individuals critical of MCSO policies and practices.” As Finnegan wrote, when the Phoenix New Times ran an investigation of Arpaio’s real-estate dealings that included his home address, the paper received a “broad subpoena, demanding, among other things, the Internet records of all visitors to its Web site in the previous two and a half years.” Sheriff’s deputies then “staged late-night raids on the homes of Michael Lacey and James Larkin, executives of Village Voice Media, which owns the New Times. The deputies arrested both men for, they said, violating grand-jury secrecy. (The county attorney declined to prosecute, and it turned out that the subpoenas were issued unlawfully.)” Local activists who applauded when someone made critical remarks about Arpaio at a Board of Supervisors meeting were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Arpaio had a private investigator follow the wife of a judge who had ruled against him. And so on.

Plenty of Maricopa County’s residents evidently liked Arpaio’s “colorful” reputation as America’s toughest sheriff. Crime rates in the county decreased during some years of his tenure, though crime rates declined across the country, too, so it would be difficult to ascribe the reduction to Arpaio’s policing practices. And his “toughness” came at considerable cost to the taxpayers, who have had to pay for the tens of millions of dollars it has cost the county to respond to lawsuits against the former sheriff. Meanwhile, reporting by the Associated Press and several Arizona media outlets revealed that Arpaio’s department, preoccupied with going after illegal immigration, had failed to properly investigate some four hundred sex crimes over a three-year period in the mid-two-thousands.

Arpaio was scheduled to be sentenced for the contempt-of-court charge on October 5th, and he could have served up to six months in prison. Choosing to pardon him is a gift to the white nationalists. But it also signals a broad-brush contempt for fundamental rights in this country. As Paul Charlton, a former U.S. Attorney in Arizona, told the Washington Post earlier this week, “If you pardon that kind of conduct, if you forgive that behavior, you are acknowledging that racist conduct in law enforcement is worth the kind of mercy that underlies a pardon—and it’s not. And it’s an abuse of the President’s discretion. It’s an injustice, and speaks volumes about the President’s disregard for civil rights IF this pardon takes place.

…….perhaps there are more chapters to this one……..

Last week, President Trump tried to use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to deflect attention away from his abrupt pardon of notorious racist and human rights abuser Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But instead of having the whole affair slip under the radar, Trump and the Justice Department are now looking at a protracted and very public legal fight, according to the Arizona Central.

While District Judge Susan Bolton has approved the request to throw out Arpaio’s sentencing hearing, she’s not letting him walk away so easily.

This morning, Bolton ordered that the Department of Justice file a memo and scheduled a hearing for October 4th where the Trump team must publicly argue why a man who was so racist he was convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to end his discriminatory racial profiling policies deserves to walk free.

The state of Arizona will have their own chance to argue why Arpaio should not be pardoned, allowing them to publicly, and in great detail, list the full extent of the heinous crimes and misdeeds of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which include running what he refers to as a concentration camp, torturing his inmates, forcing a woman to give birth in shackles, and refusing to investigate sex crimes against Latina children.

160 people have died in his jails, with little explanation and no consequences for the abusive guards or entire absence of oversight.

Trump is about to find out the hard way that in the United States of America, the President is not king. He cannot simply clap his hands and subvert the legal and judicial system of our nation because he wills it – a warning that all those currently under questioning in the Trump-Russia investigation would do well to remember.

 

 

…..the diversity police say we’re too elitist……….

………..to which I reply………..HeeHaw HeeHaw HeeHaw…..

 

 

WonderWhoRollsFirst?

….for crying out loud…..peeking …..at leaking?………….

HOLD

……..this is like playing pin the tail on the donkey……….with a Real Donkey…………

Justin Sullivan/Getty

The leaks won’t stop

There’s a solution, but they’re not going to like it.

The Trump administration can sure try. It can make a renewed effort to identify and punish leakers in intelligence agencies — something Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to do in the coming days. It might prevail on FBI director nominee Christopher Wray to entertain the possibility his predecessor James Comey reportedly balked at: throwing reporters in jail for leaked information. It can even turn against itself: On Wednesday night, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of leaking Scaramucci’s financial disclosure forms, and threatened to call the FBI to have Priebus investigated.

It won’t work.

This isn’t just because the president himself is allegedly cavalier with classified info, like the details he reportedly told Russian emissaries in May that could lead to the identification of Israel’s best source on ISIS, or his tweet in July that confirmed a covert program in Syria(in the course of insulting a Washington Post story about it).

It’s because of the way the president runs his government.

Donald Trump and his advisers have created an administration in which there is no way to get the president’s attention, or to resolve problems, through normal channels.

The only way to make sure an issue will get any attention whatsoever — much less have a prayer of actually getting fixed — is to leak.

Trump doesn’t read memos. But he watches Fox & Friends.

Imagine you’re a somewhat senior government official — one who doesn’t get a lot of face time with the president, but who has access to pretty important information — and you need to send a message to President Donald Trump.

You can try to write him a memo, or get the message into a briefing paper his staff is preparing. But the staff is trying to squeeze a ton of information into the incredibly narrow aperture of “what the president is actually going to read.”

Your message had better be less than a page (ideally a lot less, so that it can fit on a page with all the other messages all the other officials like you are trying to send). It had better include a visual aid — a map is good.

If you can find some way, however gratuitous, to mention the president’s name in the text, that’s great — unless he’s already stopped reading before he even gets to what you’re trying to say because someone else didn’t jam his name into a paragraph.

You’d better not need the president to actually make a choice between multiple options. You should be able to tell him the pros and cons of how something will play in the press — which doesn’t give you a lot of options if you’re trying to get him to deal with something that shouldn’t be publicly known. And whatever you do, don’t tell him he can’t do something: That’s reportedly “the quickest way to get him” to do just that.

Or you can go the easier route: You can just leak the information to someone so that it ends up on Fox & Friends.

You know the president watches Fox News’s morning show, because everyone knows the president watches Fox News’s morning show. His early-bird tweetstorms are timed to the topics of their segments. He even favorably tweets about articles about how much he loves Fox & Friends. Advertisers, including lobbyists, are paying a premium to air on shows Trump is known to watch.

Why should lobbyists outside the government have a more reliable way of reaching the president than people inside it? You go where the president is likely to see you.

This isn’t a product of the federal government. It’s a product of organizations Trump runs. His campaign was famously leaky. His transition team was so leaky that pretty much every major Cabinet appointee was known in advance. His White House is hardly in a position to lecture executive branch agencies about leaking, given how liable they are to dish about their boss and each other to any of several reporters.

It’s perfectly understandable. They, too, are simply giving themselves the best chance of reaching the president’s ear.

If you refuse to take bad news the easy way, you force yourself to deal with it the hard way

The information flow could, in theory, be fixed — if Trump wanted to. But to want to fix it — to be willing to slog through detailed memos and limit his screen time — he’d have to confront a deeper problem: The most powerful man in the free world is simply unwilling to hear bad news.

This is one of the biggest reasons the information he gets from staff is so limited — reports indicate that to keep him in a good mood, staffers deliberately pad packets of press clips with positive coverage. But even dissent that manages to get through to him might go unheard or rejected — it could even ruin his mood and cloud his decision-making for the rest of the day.

That defeats the whole purpose of telling the president bad news in confidence. It makes leaking the obvious choice.

Erick Erickson wrote about this back in May, when discussing a friend who witnessed the meeting in which Trump divulged classified information to the Russian officials:

The President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.

So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt. Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up. The President cares vastly more about what the press says than what his advisers say.

This is a feature of Trump’s personality, but it isn’t confined to Trump. You can see it throughout his administration — in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s distance from staff, in Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly’s insistence that any criticism of his agents is a direct attack on morale.

Trump appointees can’t be trusted to be objective when dealing with internal issues because the president appears to feel no compunction about attacking people for disloyalty — as his sustained attack on Attorney General Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has made painfully clear. Obama appointees run the risk of getting shoved out at any time if they cause any problems. And then there are all the positions in government sitting empty, simply preventing conflicts from being resolved because there’s no one senior enough to resolve them.

The Trump administration, to all appearances, has only one way to deal with bad news: shoot the messenger. If the messenger stands up and identifies himself in a private meeting or a memo or a recusal, they know where to shoot. If the messenger leaks to a reporter, they don’t — and besides, they might, just might, realize it was their problem to begin with.

Bad news doesn’t simply go away if you don’t want to hear about it. The Trump administration has created an environment in which leaks are fulfilling the function of basic executive processes, like resolving internal disputes, correcting course, and simply giving the president an accurate sense of what’s going on.

If the Trump administration really wanted to stop the leaks, it would change to make leaking unnecessary. But that would require the president to shut up and listen to people he’s already decided are part of the “deep state” out to get him. It would require him to acknowledge that he can’t drain the swamp without getting drowned in leaks.

…thanks to VOX 

Updated by Jul 27, 2017

-30-

……..for crying out loud……

……….and this …I am the pussy grabber …….mistake we have in the white house …..is the commander in chief of the most destructive force ever……… great work America …..

….should The government be able to block Facebook from telling people about government’s searches of their Facebook account?

 

HOLD

Government Should Not Be Able to Block Facebook From Telling People About Searches

Police battering in a door with Facebook logo

If the government wants to search your Facebook account—snooping through everything from your posts, photographs, and videos to your private messages, check-ins, likes, and search history—shouldn’t you know about it in time to protect your constitutional rights? We certainly think so. And that’s what we told the D.C. Court of Appeals last week when we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a largely secret case concerning the government’s search of Facebook accounts.

In practice, the targets of electronic searches of Facebook accounts and similar data often don’t learn about them until months after they have occurred and the materials have already been handed over to the government. That’s because the government regularly obtains gag orders to prevent Internet companies like Facebook from notifying their users about government searches of their data. In our brief, which we filed together with the ACLU of DC and Public Citizen, we argued that, absent an overriding government interest in secrecy, the government should not be allowed to block Facebook from notifying its users about the search warrants targeting them.

The case is entirely sealed, save for a three-page public notice drafted by Facebook announcing its effort to lift the gag order and calling for friend-of-the-court briefs in support of its position. From that notice, we know that the government issued search warrants to Facebook demanding “all contents of communications, identifying information, and related records” over a three-month span for three accounts. Along with the warrants, Facebook received a gag order that prohibits the company from telling the targets of the search about the warrants.

That gag order was issued under the same statute that Microsoft is challenging in a separate case, and for good reason. Microsoft has said that, of the more than 5,000 federal demands for customer data it received over 18 months, almost half came with gag orders—and most of those were indefinite, resulting in an alarming number of secret searches.

To our knowledge, Facebook has not challenged the warrants themselves in the D.C. case, but it has argued that the accompanying gag order is unconstitutional. A lower court limited the gag so that it would expire 30 days after Facebook produced the records to the government. Laudably, Facebook refused to accept that limitation and appealed the order, arguing that notice should not be delayed because 1) the events underlying the investigation are public, 2) the search targets anonymous political advocacy and speech, and 3) Facebook has already retained all of the relevant records, which means that the subjects of the search can’t destroy them when they receive notice.Given the limited facts presented, it is hard to imagine how these warrants can be lawful. The government’s demand for “all contents of communications” over a three-month period is extraordinarily broad. It almost certainly defies the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that a search warrant describe with particularity what the government may search and seize, especially where the search targets materials protected by the First Amendment and threatens to unmask anonymous speakers. The warrants at issue in this case would allow government investigators to examine the targets’ communications with an untold number of Facebook users, including family members, romantic partners, and political allies. They would also reveal the targets’ political affiliations, reading habits, and their views on everything from politics and religion to movies and television shows.

The Constitution exists to prevent such harms, but it can do so adequately only if targeted users know their rights are in jeopardy. The users are in the best position to show how the warrants infringe their constitutional rights—and to do so before production to the government brings about the very harms the First and Fourth Amendments are meant to stop, including unwarranted invasions of privacy, unmasking of anonymous speakers, and chilling of protected speech. Without a convincing reason for secrecy, the government should not be allowed to prevent Facebook from telling its users that their accounts are being searched. We hope the D.C. Court of Appeals agrees.

-30-

Note: I don’t usually include the comment section from the content I “relocate”….but this run of comments made me want to consider including them…

ADD A COMMENT (18)

okbluzman79

My first commandment is to never put anything, ANYTHING, online that you don’t want EVERYONE IN THE WORLD TO KNOW!!! This also goes for telephone, email (I’m a fan of GNUpg for this reason), basically everything!
I’m a disabled stroke survivor living in an small studio apartment, so I can sometimes go for days without saying a word or hearing another voice.
Bottom line is that in these times, anything you utter, every word you say, is subject to being public domain.
Just my two cents.

Anonymous

Thank you for your words. I couldn’t agree more

ACLU Privacy

Straight from the ACLUs website:

We work with a variety of vendors who help us process data, facilitate the operation of the ACLU site and deliver messages to you on other platforms.  For example, outside vendors may help us analyze traffic on our site, process credit card transactions, or facilitate activities such as the collection and delivery of petition signatures.  To the extent that any vendor has access to personally identifiable data about you, by virtue of the fact that it participates in the operation of the ACLU site, we require that vendor to promise that it will keep that data confidential and use it only for the purpose of carrying out the functions we have engaged it to perform (with a limited exception for certain aggregated data, as described immediately below).  That is true both as to passively collected data and as to voluntarily submitted data, and also as to data from any cookie or other tracking device.

In some instances, we may agree to allow a vendor to take aggregated and anonymized data about activity on the ACLU site, and use that data for other purposes such as improvement of the vendor’s products or benchmarking for the vendor’s other clients.  But we won’t agree to that unless we believe, in each instance, that the data won’t be recombined with other information to create any record about you as an identifiable individual.

https://www.aclu.org/american-civil-liberties-union-privacy-statement

My personal comment: Practice what you preach. Keep everyone’s data private and confidential. No selling it or sharing it with third party’s just because you forgot to got privacy settings and opt out. Hell, in many cases the opts don’t even work.

The ACLU should not preach data privacy until they themselves start living by their own demands.

Marketers

When is the ACLU going to take on the privacy violations Walmart, Target, and many other large retailers commit everyday!?

Walmart has a technology center near Betonville, just across the border in Missouri. This data collection site is connected to every Walmart camera in the country where it collects your photo, what your purchased, how frequently you visited etc… They even have agreements with Visa and Master card to collect data they can then collate to your specific purchase history. However, they don’t really need it, because once your face is identified by the camera they can track your movements throughout the store and tag it to every barcode that passes the register.

And to think you thought your shopping habits were private! Doh!

Anonymous

I think this is ridiculous. I think people pretty much know that anything they put on Facebook or the Internet in general is not protected or safe. I think as long as the police are searching specific accounts, all is well. Facebook should not have the authority to notify the user. That’s like a search warrant being served at someone’s job but the employee called in sick for the day so the boss calls the employee and tells them that the police are looking for him. Why would anybody think that would be OK? Your Facebook posts are not protected speech in this way.

Michael J. Motta

Says the guy who posts anonymously!

Look, there is a difference between a Fourth Amendment right and skepticism as to whether or not such right will be respected. Skepticism doesn’t denote a ceding of rights but rather a healthy distrust of government.

Anonymous

Yeah you fucking douche bag. Go fuck your mother

Anonymous

Unless explicitly told not to call the employee that the police are coming, I would tell my employee. You’re a douche!

Bobby

Your comparison doesn’t make sense. Facebook warning a user wouldn’t prevent them from deleting that information (read above, Facebook already saves everything so even if a user deleted stuff, the law would still get access to that deleted info).

A more accurate comparison would be the police showing up at your house with a search warrant. They are required to have a warrant, and show it to you. If the police wanted to sneak into your house when you weren’t there and do a search without you knowing, they would need to demonstrate to a judge the need for such a secret search, and then receive a warrant for such a secret search. In the article above, this secrecy is akin to the “gag order” but the problem is that judges seem to be handing out gag orders much more easily than they should be.

If the police wanted to plant a bug to listen to my private conversations with my friends, they would either need to get + present a search warrant, or demonstrate the need and justification for a secretive search and corresponding warrant. It sounds like judges are too easily willing to allow secretive searches in these cases, probably because they don’t understand the technology (which really shouldn’t have anything to do with it). Facebook simply wants to be able to relay that warrant to the user, just like a police offer showing up at your door with a warrant is REQUIRED to do.

William Hamilton

Facebook needs to grow a pair and tell the government to piss off.

#### -30-

…..well you can’t beat piss off for an ending……

……but then again…….

 

 

Nice Shooting

……Ending the Ronald Reagan lie….

…..ending the Reagan lie….or

 By Jeffrey D. Sachs    

As they return from the July Fourth break, the Republican leadership is twisting in agony on the Obamacare repeal and it couldn’t happen to a more miserable bunch. President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have been trying to jam through a deeply unpopular and cruel piece of legislation, but for once the public is being heard over the lobbyists. And the public is shouting a loud and hopefully decisive “no.” But the problem is deeper than health care, and goes back to Ronald Reagan’s great lie.

Our current political travails can be traced to Reagan. In his jovial way, Reagan would quip, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” With his sneering disrespect for government, Reagan ushered in nearly four decades of tax cuts, deregulation, and rising inequality that now threaten to devour our future. Trump, Ryan, and McConnell are the scheming and vacuous politicians at the end of a long process of decline.

Aristotle invented the Western study of political science; in his view, politics was about the community expressing its common interests and promoting virtues among the citizenry. It was a vision the Founding Fathers well understood. Yet somehow that positive view became transposed in today’s right-wing political thought into the idea that government is inherently evil and must be vanquished.

It’s not hard to find the peculiar American roots of this extremist view. The country was born in a rebellion against a monarch. America’s great diversity led constantly to calls for limited government, especially from the slave-owning southern states that championed “states’ rights” to try to keep the federal government off their backs. Historians have been clear that the current wave of anti-federal sentiments emerged in the South and West in response to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Yet something more happened as well.

In the 1960s few Americans would have understood Reagan’s quip about government being terrifying. The federal government had won the war, developed the atomic bomb, put Americans into space, and built the greatest ribbons of highways in the world. The federal government had promoted dazzling technological breakthroughs in medicine, space, telecommunications, and other areas.

What changed was the marriage of anti-civil rights politics in the South, West, rural America, and the suburbs, with big money in politics. Presidential aspirants had always had their financial backers. But with the advent of expensive television ads, mass mailings, and big data, campaigns became expensive. Big campaign money flooded in and federal politics became the playground of billionaires.

And nobody played it better than David and Charles Koch. They played the long game. With their lavish funding of libertarian think tanks, advocacy groups, university departments, and political action committees, the Koch Brothers and their brethren (including Robert Mercer, Sheldon Adelson, and the late John Olin) bought the Republican Party and turned it into a radical antigovernment force. It’s be all and end all became tax cuts and deregulation.

The deregulation had one more crucial effect. It enabled the rise of “too big to fail” businesses, and their lobbies in four key sectors: Big Oil, Wall Street, Big Health, and Big Armaments. Antitrust became a dead letter. The billionaires successfully championed tax cuts, deregulation, and deregulated companies that became more influential than government itself, and that when necessary could call on the federal government to do their bidding.

The Democrats, of course, have their own watered-down version of the same phenomenon. Wall Street, for example, proved to be an equal-opportunity employer of politicians of both parties.

The stunning result is this: A small group of wealthy interests has hijacked the federal government, driving policies that are strongly against public opinion and the public good. Legislation is drafted in secret, pushed without deliberation, and if possible, adopted without regard for the voters. This is obviously the case with the Obamacare repeal, but it’s also true regarding climate change, environmental protection, tax cuts for the rich, antitrust enforcement, and foreign policy.

Obamacare repeal and the Trump agenda have exposed the big lie. Yes, the Koch Brothers have bought the Republican majority, but the policies they espouse, such as slashing health care coverage, are not the policies desired by the American people. We are therefore at a reckoning.

My own belief? We will soon swing back to an era of grass-roots democracy, led especially by young people, in which public activism will trump big money in politics. Stay tuned.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is University Professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and author of “The Age of Sustainable Development.”

-30-

………ok Jeff but I’d have preferred you stuck around a bit longer and given us an example or two of the…. “young people” and “public activism”…you’re betting the farm on……but wtf?…..what do I know?……w

 

. WhoTheHellAreWe ? @straight_arrow

Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea – The New York Times

…….before anybody gets carried away with this particular GOP Ken doll…….

……and in this Fun Facts Edition of Who Is This?.. new …..candidate….for FBI Director?….Christopher Wray ….and where have we heard that name before?…..

FBI Building

This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a confirmation hearing for Christopher Wray, President Trump’s nominee to be director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The director is a critically important position, as the FBI has the power and responsibility to safeguard civil liberties and rights, though the agency has often claimed powers that violate the fundamental freedoms of citizens and noncitizens alike, at home and abroad.

The Senate Judiciary Committee must — in addition to reviewing Wray’s record as a top official in the Bush Justice Department — consider how that record and the circumstances around his nomination relate to any role the FBI director may have in the Russia investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The position is vacant only because James Comey was fired over the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign and associates.  In considering the Wray nomination, the Senate must ensure that Mueller have full independence to investigate and that Wray  not cave to any White House pressure to interfere in any investigation.

Wray’s record on civil liberties — from his apparent but unclear role in the Bush-era torture program to his advocacy for the passage and implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act to his support for “material support” prosecutions that have targeted, often unfairly, minorities and the vulnerable — is cause for alarm and requires rigorous scrutiny by the Senate.

From 2001 to 2005, Wray worked in the Department of Justice with many key architects of the unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral Bush torture program, including Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and Steven Bradbury. During his tenure, Wray is mentioned in numerous documents related to the torture program obtained by the ACLU through litigation. But because of redactions, his role and opinions remain largely secret.

Still, we know that John Yoo, an architect of the torture program, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 2008 that Wray, as principal associate deputy attorney general, may have been one of the recipients of a secret legal opinion from 2003 that justified the Bush administration’s use of torture. Nothing in the public record indicates that Wray objected to torture and cruel treatment. But we do know that he was apparently involved in torture-related investigations that did not result in any prosecution.

Wray was also a strong advocate for the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, which provided the government with vastly expanded authority to surveil people, including American citizens, even as it eliminated or watered down safeguards like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court.

In 2003, Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that “the Patriot Act has helped preserve and protect liberty and freedom, not erode them,” and insisted that safeguards were in place to prevent abuse. Contrary to his view, the Justice Department’s inspector general audits later confirmed widespread FBI abuse of Patriot Act powers. The courts later struck down parts of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional.Wray also played a role in the arbitrary detention of almost 800 Arab or Muslim men who were held for prolonged periods, at times in maximum-security prisons, and cut off from access to their families and lawyers. Many of these men were held without a legitimate basis and some continued to be detained even after judges had ordered their release or deportation.

The FBI has a long history of abusing its authority; overstepping the law; profiling and discriminating against journalists, immigrants, and minorities; and violating the Constitution. That Wray, as director of the FBI, would also claim such broad powers should concern all of us.

As senators take up Christopher Wray’s nomination, the public deserves to know if he supports the torture, wrongful detention, and unlawful surveillance that were the hallmarks of the Bush years — aspects of which continued during the Obama years. In the Trump era especially, Americans will need an FBI director who knows how to say no to unconstitutional policies and practices and shows a commitment to abiding by the Constitution.

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COMMENTS

……..including the comments is becoming a regular thing around here……. Anna is my favorite….ran through the Goggle Translator…….Mike needs more fibre……fun is where you find it folks!

Anna Vasil’yevn…

Конечно, семья Трампа дала нам информацию. Мы дали им столько информации, сколько хотели. Мы вступаем в сговор с Trumps на выборах. Мы также вступаем в сговор с Бушем.

Mike F

Dear God what a load of crap. He worked for justice when bad things happened so did half the Obama Administration. ACLU talking about morality and integrity is something they sold off to be partisan long ago. Sad to think these people and a few ignorant old people who still believe the hype are worried about the “critical question” Bipartisan to a liberal means the right bends over to accommodate. Those days are over. The true liberal in the old school sense has be silenced with a high fiber substitute for reason. The results just keep piling up.

-30-

……Anna said it all….didn’t she?……..I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure……..w

to support this goober….. you have to get past the part when he was one of George W’s cadre of lawyers talked with finding the clean end of that turd…….. he was ok with waterboarding and the other “enhanced techniques” that those bastards administered on our behalf when the Bush administration ran off half cocked bombing the shit out of everything……..

Say No To THIS CRACK

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