It’s hard to be an effective populist when you’re not all that popular

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Donald Trump is about to discover that it’s very difficult to govern as a populist when the majority of the populace isn’t with you. One of the most unexpected events in this period of dizzyingly destabilizing socio-political novelties—Trump’s chaotic attempted presidency foremost among them—is the mass resistance to his administration now expressing itself in the streets: The massive post inaugural women’s marches, first of all, and now the stunningly widespread airport protests against his anti-immigrant diktats. The spontaneity, scope and intensity of the latter exceed, I think, anything that occurred at the height of that last great period of popular mobilization, ...

Trump’s First Days in Office: Deeply Sinister

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The trick to making something like sense out of these first stages of Donald Trump’s presidency is distinguishing between conduct that merely is vulgar or idiosyncratic and those ideas, policies and appointments whose implications are genuinely sinister. The difficulty, of course, is that the new chief executive’s bellicose, frenetic, self-aggrandizing and habitually mendacious persona throws up a kind of smoke screen that impedes such sober distinctions.  His appallingly tasteless and offensively egomaniacal performance before the “Wall of Heroes” at CIA headquarters Saturday was a quintessential example of the boorish and dissembling Trump; his cabinet and White House staff appointments are chilling ...

Inside Trump’s Looming War on California

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The media is awash in speculation about the trade wars president-elect Donald Trump may wage or about the ill-defined anti-ISIS campaign he may or may not pursue, but the one conflict the incoming chief executive and his supporters seem sure to engage is a war against California. The Golden State not only went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, but it’s success as the world’s sixth largest economy, its preeminent position on the cutting edge of technology and popular culture and its conduct as a productively multi-ethnic polity also stand as a daily refutation to all the Trumpistas’ darkest fulminations about American decline. ...