The Anguish of John Kelly

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly made some extraordinary remarks during Thursday’s White House briefing. They were extraordinary not only because Kelly seldom speaks on the record to the press and was doing so for the second time in a week, but also for the deeply personal nature of what he said—discussing the death of his son in combat, a topic he has in the past been careful to avoid. Yet Kelly’s defense of President Trump, embroiled in a self-inflicted crisis over his condolences for the families of fallen servicemembers, also contained the grain of a strong rebuke to the president.

Kelly began with a description of what happens when a soldier, sailor, marine, or airman or -woman is killed in battle. Then he said:

Who are these young men and women? They are the best 1 percent this country produces. Most of you as Americans don’t know them. Many of you don’t know any who knows any one of them. But they are the very best this country produces and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate but required.

Kelly’s point is correct—as my colleague James Fallows wrote in 2015, the military is increasingly cut off from the mainstream of American culture, with terrible consequences for both. (It is a critique that sweeps in the president, who assiduously avoided serving in Vietnam.)

On Wednesday, Representative Frederica Wilson said that in a call to the family of Sergeant La David Johnson, who died in Niger earlier this month, Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “He knew what he was getting into when he signed up.” Trump denied ever saying that, but as I wrote on Wednesday, it seemed possible that …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Kelly’s Defense

Today in 5 Lines

During an emotional address at the daily White House press briefing, Chief of Staff John Kelly defended President Trump’s handling of a phone call with a Gold Star family and described his own son’s death in Afghanistan. Former President George W. Bush warned against the rise of “nativism” and said bigotry in America “seems emboldened.” Ohio Representative Pat Tiberi said he’s resigning from Congress to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable. Senator John McCain threatened to seek a subpoena to get more information on the attack in Niger that killed four U.S. service members. Former President Obama will speak at a rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam in Richmond at 6 p.m. ET.

Today on The Atlantic

‘How Money Became the Measure of Everything’: It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that Americans started using economic terms to quantify their well-being. (Eli Cook)

Problematic Influence: Publishers like Google and Facebook are increasingly targeting readers with personalized news—a development that comes with a lot of risks. (Adrienne LaFrance)

Is Public Corruption Legal?: Matt Ford explains how a 2016 Supreme Court ruling could have long-term effects on America’s republican institutions.

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by Elizabeth Bruenig

In a short but insightful blog post, Bruenig reasons that the nationalism most closely associated with Trump is more transactional in his mind than it is for many of his devoted followers.

—Senior editor Adam Serwer


‘I’m Crying for My Motherland’: In the past two months, nearly 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Burma to Bangladesh to escape persecution. See photos of the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. (Alan Taylor, The Atlantic)

Question of the Week

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley are two of the oldest and longest-serving members of Congress, and both could …read more

Source:: <a href= target="_blank" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Kelly’s Defense” >The Atlantic – Politics

Is the Supreme Court Corrupting Democracy?

For a few days earlier this month, it looked like the years-long corruption probe targeting New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez would fall apart seven weeks into his trial. At issue was the prosecution’s “stream of benefits” theory, which argues that the steady flow of donations and gifts from a wealthy Florida doctor to the Democratic senator—and the flow of favors from the senator to the doctor—amounted to quid pro quo corruption.

During a hearing last week, Judge William Wells seemed to signal that argument was dead on arrival by citing a recent Supreme Court ruling that has vexed public-corruption investigators across the country. “I frankly don’t think McDonnell will allow that,” Wells told prosecutors, referring to the decision in McDonnell v. United States that fundamentally changed the standard for bribery.

Wells eventually decided to let the case proceed, declining to throw out most of Menendez’s charges. But the close call underscores the continuing fallout from McDonnell last year. That ruling, like a series of others from the Court in recent years, recast actions once eschewed in politics as reasonable behavior for elected officials. The justices have portrayed these rulings as necessary on First Amendment grounds. But the long-term effects could imperil the public’s faith in democratic institutions.

“There’s a way in which a lot of the Supreme Court decisions have been ever narrowing what corruption means,” Tara Malloy, a staff lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, told me. “And McDonnell is one further example of it.”

The case narrowed what could be defined as an “official act” under federal corruption statutes—the quo of a quid pro quo, so to speak. Since McDonnell, it only applies to direct exercises of a government official’s power, like voting for legislation or signing an order. More seemingly mundane activities, like urging other officials to intervene in someone’s …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

Rich City, Poor City

With most big cities’ economies continuing to grow, the most pressing issue they face is how to connect their low-income communities to the opportunities that growth creates. New efforts developing in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chicago show the many creative alternatives cities are exploring to respond to that challenge—and the obstacles they face.

From 2010 through 2015, all of the 100 largest metropolitan areas added jobs, and 98 of them increased their total economic output, according to calculations by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

But in most cities, that revival has largely bypassed communities of concentrated poverty, like large swathes of Chicago’s predominantly African-American South Side or mostly Hispanic East Charlotte. Across the country, many cities have fueled their growth by importing streams of young college graduates from elsewhere, while struggling to place their own low-income kids on a track to obtain the education necessary to compete for those same jobs. Compounding the problem, longtime residents and commercial establishments in moderate- and low-income neighborhoods can find themselves pushed out by rising rents as developers pursue young white-collar workers flocking to urban environments.

These frustrations echoed through a panel I moderated this week in Charlotte at an Atlantic conference on race and criminal justice. Since 2010, according to Brookings, the area has ranked in the top 20 among large metros for growth in terms of jobs and overall economic output. But activists in Charlotte’s African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods uniformly said that dynamism had failed to reach their communities. “It’s growing so much, but it’s leaving a lot of people behind,” said Oliver Merino, an organizer at the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy who works mostly with Hispanic families.

More mayors are confronting these complex issues head-on. They are looking for ways to channel more of their growth into neglected neighborhoods, or trying …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics