It was the week when Donald Trump became serious and bipartisan. Maybe.
- At least we got lucky. The good news about Hurricane Irma was that it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. The bad news about Irma is that statement only applies to Florida. Caribbean islands such as Antigua, St. Maarten and the Virgin Islands were nearly wiped out.
- Dreamworld. In the wake of Harvey and Irma, here’s a thought on global warming. Let’s all agree it’s fake. But let’s act as if it’s real: cut carbon emissions, harden seawalls, change construction codes, and so on. That way, when the next fake storm comes along, we’ll be ready — for real.
- Stranger bedfellows. A week after cutting a deal with the Democrats on near-term funding of the government, Trump may have this week cut a deal on DACA — the executive order giving a reprieve to the “Dreamers.” Or at least, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer thought they had a deal. But Trump is now saying maybe not. Perhaps Pelosi and Schumer are beginning to understand just how Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell feel.
- Mister Unpredictable. Does Trump’s rapprochement with Democrats signal a new course for the White House? One early take on the man was that he was a pragmatist. If so, his most recent moves may be a sign he’s returning to those roots. I suspect not though. Trump is more of a provocateur. He likes to disarm folks, needle them, upset them, and leave them uncertain about what it is he’ll do next. The only long-term alliance he’ll ever have in Washington will be with himself.
- Sixteen years later. The president led the country in a dignified, solemn remembrance of 9/11. For most presidents, that wouldn’t be a story. For this president, it is.
- Repeal and replace. Led by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, top Democrats announced their support for single-payer healthcare -- Medicare for All -- because they too, apparently, want to get rid of Obamacare. The GOP must be thrilled to have a new set of allies.
- Snack food dilemma. A new nutrition study (and it has to be true, because it appeared in the New York Times) says that high carb intake is associated with high mortality while high fat intake is associated with lower mortality. My head is spinning. One day, I’m happily munching on my Cheetos. The next, it’s back to pork rinds.
- As long as they’re union jobs. Cities across America perked up with delight at the prospect of Amazon building a second headquarters employing perhaps 50,000. Boston is clearly in the mix and the mayor is enthused; expect him soon to start trotting forth all sorts of celebrities and business figures proclaiming the city’s merits. Likely not among the endorsees? The cast and crew of "Top Chef."
- Samsung knock-off. Apple is a lot like Trump. The then-candidate once declared that his followers were so blindly loyal that he could shoot someone while on Fifth Avenue and they wouldn’t care. The same is true with the Apple-ytes. The company unveiled a host of new products this week to mostly tepid reviews. No matter. When they go on sale, there will be lines around the block.
- Plain meaning. U.S. officials partially blamed Tesla’s Autopilot for a fatal crash last year in Florida while the company said the driver should not have been using the feature. The technology, the company explained, is really just a mix of “driver assistance features” and Autopilot “is not a fully self-driving technology.” Excuse me? It’s called “Autopilot,” right? You know that thing called the “steering wheel”? If it didn’t turn the wheels, then we wouldn’t call it a “steering wheel.” Sorry, Tesla. Words matter.
- Я вижу вас. The feds this week banned the use of Kaspersky computer security software in all U.S. agencies’ computers. The company’s U.S. operations are based in Woburn, but it's headquartered in Russia and allegedly has ties to the Russian government. Kaspersky also happens to be the anti-virus software I use, which means, I guess, there’s only two degrees of separation between Trump, Putin and me. Scary.
- 140 characters. And finally, the founder of Twitter denounced social media such as Twitter itself for helping to “dumb the entire world down” by fostering a culture of simplistic ad hominem attacks instead of reasoned discourse. What an idiot.
This column was first published by Cognoscenti on September 15, 2017.