Growing fears that Trump is unstable

James Fallows of The Atlantic magazine is a usually sober political analyst, not given to taking sensationalist positions. But in a new article he writes that recent events have pushed him over the edge and convinced him that Donald Trump is in a serious state of cognitive impairment and that there are only two jobs in which he would not be forced out of his job for what his words and actions indicate about his mental state.
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The bicycle: The vehicle that really should not work

Anyone who has ridden the bicycle knows how hard it is to learn to do so. I learned to ride in the time-honored way, with my father holding the seat to keep it from falling to the side and running behind me as I pedaled, and then after some time slowly letting go without my knowledge, while still running behind to catch me if I fell. After a few such attempts, I was able to ride alone. The feeling of exhilaration at not toppling over is something I still remember. I used the same method to teach my younger daughter but my older daughter learned to ride on her own, pedaling a bit and putting her foot down when in danger of falling over, until the pedaling parts got longer and longer and suddenly she was off.
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Another day, another Brexit deadline

While Donald Trump feuds with the prime minister of Denmark over his idiotic proposal to buy Greenland, over in the UK his acolyte Boris Johnson is trying desperately to persuade European leaders that the UK should be allowed to exit the EU without the imposition of the Northern Ireland backstop. They are having none of it, which should have come as no surprise since that is what they have been saying all along.

The European Union has rebuffed Boris Johnson’s attempts to tear up the Irish backstop, in a coordinated response that appeared to close the door on further meaningful Brexit negotiations.

The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, accused the British government of failing to admit that its policies would lead to the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Tusk, who is also expected to meet Johnson this weekend, wrote: “The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found. Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it.”

In a sign of the EU’s carefully coordinated response, the European commission issued its own statement minutes later saying it shared Tusk’s view.

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Hasan Minhaj on the opioid drug crisis

It is hard to be funny when you are talking about the massive destruction that is being caused by the indiscriminate use of pain-killing drugs, and Minhaj’s episode of Patriot Act on this topic is only sporadically funny. It seemed like he felt obliged to throw in some jokes since his is technically a comedy show, but his heart was not really in it, especially since he has known people who succumbed to early deaths due to these highly potent drugs like fentanyl, where even a tiny amount can kill you and many users are not even aware that the drugs they are taking contain fentanyl mixed in.
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Trump’s bizarre behavior on Greenland

In a previous post, I mentioned how Anthony (‘The Mooch’) Scaramucci, Donald Trump’s short-lived communications director, is convinced that Trump’s mental state is deteriorating. As if on cue, Trump this week provided him with a huge piece of evidence in support of his thesis. I am talking about the bizarre Greenland episode.

Greenland is described as an autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark with a devolved parliament. What this means, as far as I can tell, is that while technically not an independent nation, it has almost all the powers of one. It has a very small population of about 56,000, about 88% of whom are Greenlandic Inuit or Inuit-Danish mixed. Its land area is about 2.17 million square kilometers, roughly the size of Saudi Arabia.
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Jeffrey Epstein, shifty and secretive to the end

It turns out that just two days before his death in jail, Jeffery Epstein wrote a will leaving his entire estate of nearly half a billion dollars to a trust. I don’t know anything about trusts except that what I can gather is that they are the product of yet another one of those loopholes inserted into the tax code that benefit the wealthy who can afford to hire tax accountants and lawyers, and that it enables the wealthy to hide their assets and reduce their taxes.
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The Trump administration is consistent in its cruelty

They have announced that they will not be providing the migrant families held in their detention camps with the flu vaccine despite the fact that there children recently died of such infections.

At least three children who were held in detention centers after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico have died in recent months, in part, from the flu, according to a letter to Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., from several doctors urging Congress to investigate health conditions at the centers.

The United States had previously gone almost a decade without any children dying while under U.S. immigration custody.

“I can tell you from personal experience that child deaths are rare events,” Harvard pediatrics professor Dr. Jonathan Winickoff said in an email. Winickoff signed on to the Aug. 1 letter with forensic pathologist Judy Melinek and Johns Hopkins public health professors Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and Dr. Paul Spiegel.
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I have moved to California

Within the last two weeks, I have moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Monterey, California and am now pretty much settled in to my new home.

I drove across the country, a distance of 2,700 miles. Although that looks long, the drive was very pleasant and I managed to spend two days with very old friends in Missouri. The trip was not at all tiring, since I limited myself to about 400 miles or six hours of actual driving time each day. I enjoy driving long distances. It beats the hell out of flying.

For the first couple of days of driving, I listened to all nine Beethoven symphonies in sequence, followed by the Leonora, Egmont and Coriolan overtures, something I have wanted to do for some time. But the other five days of driving I drove in silence, without even the radio. I enjoy the silence of driving alone, allowing my thoughts full freedom to wander where they may.

The weather through the entire trip was also pretty much perfect in that it was cool and it only rained for about ten minutes. The traffic was light to moderate with no construction delays. The speed limits west of Nebraska tended to be 75 mph or 80 mph. Once you got to Wyoming, the scenery is spectacular, with Utah being particularly beautiful. I also made a slight detour to see the famous Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California (that was later named after the participants in the infamous 1846 tragedy who are now remembered as the Donner Party) and the view from the top of 7,000 feet was magnificent, with the Donner Lake far below.

Monterey is very pretty. From my living room, I have a beautiful view of the hills surrounding the area. I cannot see the sea, for which I have to drive about three miles. Locals tell me that the sea view areas, apart from being much more expensive, also tend to be foggy, whereas where I live tends to have clearer days. I will definitely not miss the Cleveland winters. As I get older, the risk of having a bad fall on ice and snow becomes much greater.

The Mooch as truth teller

For the longest time, Anthony Scaramucci (who likes to be called ‘The Mooch’) was a punch line. Although he had supported Demcorats like Barack Obama and later Hillary Clinton, he somehow became a member of the Donald Trump transition team after the 2016 election. He was appointed by Donald Trump on July 21, 2017 as White House Communications Director and was fired just ten days later after he gave an expletive-laden interview where he blasted some members of the Trump administration.
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That sums it up pretty well

Kevin Drum says that all the major religions have objectively been having a bad few decades in comparison with science’s achievements, but that despite that religious extremism is on the rise worldwide.

The last few decades sure have been bad ones for organized religion. Conservative Christians have decided that the sum total of the Bible is about reestablishing the sex and gender mores of the 19th century. Liberal Protestantism is so unassuming that hardly anyone even remembers it exists. The Catholic Church has been responsible for the deaths of millions in Africa thanks to its mindless belief that God hates condoms. Much of Islam has been taken over by the toxic Saudi strain. Israel has turned into an apartheid state. Hindus in India are apparently now dedicated to creating a religiously pure state. And even Buddhists have been acting badly lately.

Meanwhile, science keeps churning out new wonders. Cell phones. The internet. Cures for cancer. Robotic prosthetics. Solar panels on rooftops. Talking computers. Antidepressants. Google Maps. Cheap genome sequencing. Virtual reality. Machine learning. Meatless meat. Missions to Mars. Electric cars. Fiber optics.

None of the points he makes surprised me. But what did was his statement that Israel is now an apartheid state. Not only that, he did not get any pushback for that in the comments, either.

Drum is very much in the mainstream of Democratic establishment politics, someone who favors people like Hillary Clinton and Kamal Harris and does not care much for Elizabeth Warren and especially Bernie Sanders. So his casual throwing in of Israel as an apartheid state, a sentiment that the party establishment definitely does not endorse, and the lack of any defense of Israel by his blog’s readers, is another sign that Israel’s discriminatory policies can no longer be denied or ignored and that the Democratic political establishment is increasingly disconnected from its base.