Saturday, August 31, 2019

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John Bolton

In Age of Trump Classic, national security adviser is kept out of the loop on key national security matters, per dishy Washington Post anecdote-laden gripper.

My take: It is, of course, not unusual for the U.S. government to have competing spheres of influence on foreign policy issues, but the trend in recent administrations has been national security advisers who consolidated power inside the White House and away from the Pentagon and State.  Even David Rothkopf couldn’t draw a diagram of this messy situation.

Donald Trump

In Age of Trump Classic, president tweets spy photo of Iranian missile explosion, sending spooks and those who love them into a tizzy.

My take: Was this provocative presidential action meant to taunt the Iranians or keep hopes of bilateral talks alive? Or, most likely, both?

Madeleine Westerhout

In Age of Trump Classic, Oval Office gatekeeperforced out for off-the-record comments about First Family to small group of reporters.

My take: There is certainly more falling action to come here. How did White House officials learn what happened at this dinner? And this triptych from the New York Times caught my eye:

“Current and former officials also expressed alarm about what information Ms. Westerhout could share down the road, not just about the president, but about her colleagues.”

“Adding to the concern was the fact that, unlike most other officials, Ms. Westerhout was not thought to have signed a nondisclosure agreement, a document that Mr. Trump has frequently used in effort to tamp down on leaks.”

“At least one publishing house on Friday had discussions about trying to approach Ms. Westerhout for a book, according to one person familiar with the discussions.”

Michael Flynn

In Age of Trump Classic, former national security topper makes last-minute case to delay his sentencing.

My take: With good odds this one ends with a presidential pardon before Flynn serves time, all this legal toing and froing appears to be a colossal waste of time and money.

Roger Cohen

In essential-reading op ed, New York Times columnist explains why Trump’s confrontation with China was necessary (even as Cohen decries the current tactics).

My take: Trump deserves credit for taking on China, but he won’t get (or deserve) credit if he doesn’t take the Chinese on successfully.  Leverage, luck, and long-term patience are what were required when Trump took office — and he is now in short supply on all three.

Steven Greenhouse

In essential reading op ed, longtime labor watcher writes in Washington Post about the irony of Republicans focusing more on the political potency of unions than Democrats.

My take: The sources of political power and money on the left are certainly different than when Mr. Greenhouse began his reporting career.  But big Democratic wins still rely to an extent on Big Labor, a fact Republicans have spent decades trying to do something about, while Democrats mostly talked about it.  This is a history story, to be sure, but with real-life 2020 implications.

Valerie Harper

RIP Rhoda.

My take: For certain generations of viewers, as iconic as it gets. After Princess Diana, the biggest wedding of the TV era.

Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos

Hanging around Venice.

My take: For the foreseeable future, full employment for worldwide paparazzi, courtesy of this pair.

Top sports story: Game Day Kickoff: Auburn, Oregon give Week 1 an added boost

Top business story: Amid Recession Worries, Trump Points Finger at American Businesses
New York Times

Top entertainment story: Disney World & Universal Orlando “Closely Monitoring” Hurricane Dorian; ESPN & Rolling Stones Shift Scheduled College Football Game & Concert

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