Weekly Review — August 28, 2017, 5:19 pm

Weekly Review

A storm brews

Days before the Mexican government offered to send aid for the victims of a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in eastern Texas and caused catastrophic flooding in up to 50 counties and drove an estimated 30,000 people from their homes, one-time pornographic-film extra and current U.S. president Donald Trump issued a pardon for Joe Arpaio, a former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County who, during his 24-year tenure, held inmates in Korean War tents that reached temperatures of 141 degrees; referred to those tents as a “concentration camp” and the place “where all the Mexicans are”; called complaints from Latinos “civil rights crap”; said it costs more to “feed the dogs than it does the inmates,” whom he fed rotten green bologna; ran on his office’s website a “Mugshot of the Day” contest inviting visitors to vote for their favorite inmate images; shot footage of female inmates that could be viewed online; forced hundreds of inmates not yet convicted of any crime to march from one jail to another in pink underwear; oversaw guards who referred to Latino inmates as “wetbacks” and “Mexican bitches,” strapped to a chair a paraplegic inmate and then tightened the restraints until his neck broke, and forced a female inmate to give birth in shackles; said he was the “first in the world” to put women in a “chain gang”; admitted that his counsel had hired a private agent to investigate the wife of a judge who ordered him to stop racially profiling Latinos, a ruling he was later found in contempt of court for ignoring; claimed that all people crossing the Mexican border had swine flu; said he was “doing something good” because the Latino community was “leaving town”; asked a Latino waitress if it was “safe” to drink a glass of iced tea she had given him; was found to have inadequately investigated or ignored hundreds of sex crimes; opened a rape investigation into a political opponent and investigated for child molestation a former Phoenix mayor who disagreed with his treatment of Latinos; oversaw deputies who threatened to arrest a reporter for viewing public records and forced a man’s dog back into a burning house that they had set on fire; ran a jail with four times the suicide rate of county jails for Chicago or Miami; banned his inmates from drinking coffee and possessing pornographic magazines, and created an in-house radio station that broadcasted songs by Frank Sinatra; referred to his Italian-American bodyguards as his “mafia”; and chained together teenage inmates and forced them to bury the corpses of poor people. “More rain coming,” tweeted Trump.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

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It has become something of a commonplace to say that Mike Pence belongs to another era. He is a politician whom the New York Times has called a “throwback,” a “conservative proudly out of sync with his times,” and a “dangerous anachronism,” a man whose social policies and outspoken Christian faith are so redolent of the previous century’s culture wars that he appeared to have no future until, in the words of one journalist, he was plucked “off the political garbage heap” by Donald Trump and given new life. Pence’s rise to the vice presidency was not merely a personal advancement; it marked the return of religion and ideology to American politics at a time when the titles of political analyses were proclaiming the Twilight of Social Conservatism (2015) and the End of White Christian America (2016). It revealed the furious persistence of the religious right, an entity whose final demise was for so long considered imminent that even as white evangelicals came out in droves to support the Trump-Pence ticket, their enthusiasm was dismissed, in the Washington Post, as the movement’s “last spastic breath.”

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Just after dawn in Lhamo, a small town on the northeastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, horns summon the monks of Serti Monastery to prayer. Juniper incense smolders in the temple’s courtyard as monks begin arriving in huddled groups. Some walk the kora, a clockwise circumambulation around the building. Others hustle toward the main door, which sits just inside a porch decorated in bright thangka paintings. A pile of fur boots accumulates outside. When the last monks have arrived, the horn blowers leaning out of the second-floor windows retire indoors.

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The truth—that thing I thought I was telling.—John Ashbery To start with the facts: the chapter in my book White Sands called “Pilgrimage” is about a visit to the house where the philosopher Theodor Adorno lived in Los Angeles during the Second World War. It takes its title from the story of that name by Susan Sontag (recently republished in Debriefing: Collected Stories) about a visit she and her friend Merrill made to the house of Adorno’s fellow German exile Thomas Mann in the Pacific Palisades, in 1947, when she was fourteen. It seemed strange that the story was originally …
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