The White House’s Steady State of Crisis
TrumpLand in Bad Decline
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Maybe it’s time to revive and tweak that color-coded terrorism-threat chart, to let us know just how close to “apocalyptic” President Donald Trump’s White House is at any given moment.
It must be at threat level orange, at least, given Bob Woodward’s new book and that New York Times op-ed by an anonymous “senior official.” Both tell of a White House in which staffers have basically seized power from an incompetent oaf in the Oval Office. The op-ed writer said his colleagues want to avoid the “constitutional crisis” of 25th Amendment proceedings to remove Trump. But Tim O’Brien writes this situation itself constitutes a clear and present crisis: “So these same unelected and unknown officials, all appointed by a president they see as unfit, are now running the country without oversight and accountability? If that’s not a crisis, what is?” Read the whole thing.
Some are describing this as a low-key coup. TREASON, even. Noah Feldman disagrees, suggesting White House staffers have always slow-walked presidents’ demands. What’s different now, he says, is all the flair being pinned to fairly standard bureaucratic wrangling – and the widespread consensus in and out of the White House that Trump has a solid-gold void where his character should be.
One big mystery is why, exactly, the op-ed writer did what he/she did, writes Ramesh Ponnuru. After all, we’ve long known the White House is dysfunctional. And publishing this manifesto in the “Failing” New York Times should only make Trump double down on behavior that worried staffers in the first place.
Bonus Trump reading:
Over the Moonves
Too little, too late, CBS Corp. is reportedly talking to CEO Les Moonves – long under a cloud of accusations about sexual harassment and creating a toxic work culture – about a lucrative early retirement. Tara Lachapelle writes there are a lot of lessons to learn from this sordid episode, about sexism in Hollywood and Corporate America generally and about CBS specifically. For example: “The boardrooms of corporate America, in the face of the next controversy, should ask themselves, what would CBS do? Then, probably, do the opposite.” Read the whole thing.
Big Tech in Big Trouble
One of the most relatable things Google has ever done was not even bothering to show up for a Senate hearing about technology yesterday. Such clambakes usually involve mostly ignorant lawmakers going on about largely fake controversies, and who has time for all that?
This nonchalance shouldn’t be mistaken for wisdom, however: Google and many of its Big-Tech brethren are in big-time trouble, warns Shira Ovide. Yesterday’s hearing was about stopping foreign fiddling with America’s Internet, which Google should take seriously. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is looking into the (false) allegations Google results are biased against conservatives. Then there are the frequent attacks from Trump’s Twitter feed, along with grumblings from the FTC and FCC and from national and state legislators and attorneys general. To name a few. On top of that, consumers are lately questioning how much they use tech products. “The last two years of technology crises have hurt the tech superpowers, and we’re just beginning to see the fallout,” Shira writes. Read the whole thing.
Edward Tenner suggests Google might want to use this moment as an opportunity to rethink its outdated mission statement: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The complexity of the Internet and Google’s business interests have made that increasingly problematic.
One Punishment Does Not Fit All Schools
The Obama administration’s heart may have been in the right place back in 2014, when it threatened to investigate school districts with high rates of suspensions and other severe punishments for minority children. After all, black students often receive such measures more than white students, which can set them back emotionally and developmentally. Still, Bloomberg’s editors write, the government’s by-the-numbers approach doesn’t work in every district.
Those Amazing Shrinking Campaign Finance Laws
Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing continued today. One big issue he’ll probably consider at least once in the decades ahead is campaign finance reform. One guess as to how he'll lean on it: against. In fact, the Supreme Court, contradicting public opinion, has been chipping away at campaign-finance laws since 1976, writes Justin Fox, who lays out the whole legal history.
Bonus Kavanaugh reading:
It hasn't been Infrastructure Week in a long time, writes Justin Fox:
Global infrastructure investors need to worry about flooding at airports as the planet warms, writes David Fickling.
Don’t let the latest selloff scare you away from emerging markets now, Nir Kaissar tells investors; they’re always volatile.
Dell Technologies Inc.'s good quarter won’t quiet doubts about a complex deal. – Brooke Sutherland
Trump’s Middle East peace plan strips away what little leverage the Palestinians have. It’s almost as if he doesn’t really want a peace deal at all. – Hussein Ibish
How China went from No. 1 business opportunity to Public Enemy No. 1. – Hal Brands
Indonesia is being unfairly punished in the emerging-market rout. – Shuli Ren
Canada can declare its independence from the U.S. by doing what America refuses to do now: be even more open to skilled immigrants. – Noah Smith
John Kerry’s new book has one hero, and that’s John Kerry. – Eli Lake
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Note: Please send lottery tickets, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.
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