Weekly Review — September 25, 2018, 12:27 pm

Weekly Review

Brett Kavanaugh’s calendars; Stormy Daniels describes sex with Trump; China sponsors content in the Des Moines Register

Brett Kavanaugh will submit calendar pages from June, July, and August of 1982 to the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to demonstrate that he could not have attacked Christine Blasey Ford, who went into hiding after receiving death threats, because he was either out of town or at the beach with his parents.1 2 Deborah Ramirez has gone public with her allegation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, which occurred sometime during the 1983–1984 school year at Yale; Kavanaugh, whose female law clerk interviewees were coached by the Yale professor Amy Chua to dress in an “outgoing” and “model-like” manner, has denied Ramirez’s allegation.3 4 Michael Avenatti, an attorney and professional race-car driver, has claimed he has evidence that “Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” and says he is representing a third accuser.5 6 7 Excerpts from a book written by Stormy Daniels, who retained Avenatti’s services to invalidate a non-disclosure agreement about the affair she had with Donald Trump, were released, and they include descriptions of the president’s genitalia and phone calls.8 “It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion,” writes Daniels. Trump, who has continued to support Kavanaugh, denies having a relationship with Daniels, and claimed “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” visited areas affected by Hurricane Florence, telling one man who had a yacht wash onto his deck, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”9 10 11 At least 110 hog-waste lagoons in North Carolina have overflowed because of the hurricane.12

An Indian naval commander who was competing in a nonstop, 30,000-mile solo yachting race without the benefit of modern technology was rescued after his boat hit a storm, an Indonesian teenager was rescued after being lost at sea for 49 days when his rompong, a floating fishing hut anchored to the ocean floor, broke free, and archeologists believe they have discovered the wreck of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavor off Newport, Rhode Island.13 14 15 Scientists have proposed towing icebergs to South Africa to deal with the country’s extreme and persistent water shortages, and rising sea levels are threatening endangered birds that live in coastal areas.16 17 Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services denied a request by the owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound to administer marijuana to lobsters before they are boiled; Coca-Cola is in talks with Aurora Cannabis, a Canadian marijuana producer, to create drinks with CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis; the state of California decriminalized the selling of street food in the hopes of reducing deportations.18 19 20 The Department of Homeland Security proposed a new regulation that will reject applications for immigrant admissions and green cards based on the likelihood the applicants will use or have already used public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, continued US support for the Saudi war in Yemen after being warned by the head of the State Department’s legislative affairs team, a former Raytheon lobbyist, that a cutoff could imperil $2 billion in weapons sales.21 22 Italy’s government has adopted a security decree that will suspend asylum protections for migrants who are considered “socially dangerous” and loosened requirements on child immunization; in Florence, an artist hit Marina Abramovic over the head with a portrait of herself.23 24 25

Two city officials in Bogotá have been jailed for threatening teachers with termination if they did not vote for far-right politicians.26 Melania Trump’s communications director received a warning of a potential Hatch Act violation for tweeting a photo from a 2015 Trump campaign rally with the hashtag “MAGA,” and a cop in Detroit was fired for posting a photo of himself in uniform with the caption “Another night to Rangel up these zoo animals” on Snapchat.27 28 Thirty-one people were shot over the weekend in Chicago.29 A state-run Chinese newspaper ran a four-page spread in the Sunday edition of the Des Moines Register criticizing President Trump’s soybean trade tariffs as “the fruit of a president’s folly” and cited a book about President Xi Jinping’s “fun days in Iowa.”30 A psychic in Maryland who asked clients to give her large cash payments so that she could place the money in front of an altar to ward off evil spirits and faked clairvoyant abilities by spoofing phone numbers was sentenced to six years in prison.31 Investigators determined that a string of cat murders dating back to 2015 in Croydon, England, was perpetrated by foxes.32Violet Lucca

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Weekly Review October 16, 2018, 12:44 am

Weekly Review

Nikki Haley resigns; Jamal Khashoggi murdered; Kanye visits the White House

Podcast October 12, 2018, 2:10 pm

Fall Books and Rachel Kushner

On Lacy M. Johnson’s The Reckonings, Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad, and Kristen M. Ghoddsee’s Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism; plus: an interview with the author of The Mars Room

Weekly Review October 10, 2018, 11:45 am

Weekly Review

Kavanaugh is confirmed; Earth’s governments are given 12 years to get climate change under control; Bansky trolls Sotheby’s

Get access to 168 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2018

Checkpoint Nation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Checkpoint Nation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Laura Sandoval threaded her way through idling taxis and men selling bottles of water toward the entrance of the Cordova International Bridge, which links Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas. Earlier that day, a bright Saturday in December 2012, Sandoval had crossed over to Juárez to console a friend whose wife had recently died. She had brought him a few items he had requested—eye drops, the chimichangas from Allsup’s he liked—and now that her care package had been delivered, she was in a hurry to get back to the Texas side, where she’d left her car. She had a three-hour drive to reach home, in the mountains in New Mexico, and she hated driving in the dark.

Sandoval took her place in the long line of people waiting to have their passports checked by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). When it was her turn, she handed her American passport to a customs officer and smiled amicably, waiting for him to wave her through. But the officer said she had been randomly selected for additional screening. Sandoval was led to a secondary inspection area nearby, where two more officers patted her down. Another walked toward her with a drug-sniffing dog, which grew agitated as it came closer, barking and then circling her legs. Because the dog had “alerted,” the officer said, Sandoval would now have to undergo another inspection.

Checkpoint on I-35 near Encinal, Texas (detail) © Gabriella Demczuk
Article
The Printed Word in Peril·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February, at an event at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York, while sharing the stage with my fellow British writer Martin Amis and discussing the impact of screen-based reading and bidirectional digital media on the Republic of Letters, I threw this query out to an audience that I estimate was about three hundred strong: “Have any of you been reading anything by Norman Mailer in the past year?” After a while, one hand went up, then another tentatively semi-elevated. Frankly I was surprised it was that many. Of course, there are good reasons why Mailer in particular should suffer posthumous obscurity with such alacrity: his brand of male essentialist braggadocio is arguably extraneous in the age of Trump, Weinstein, and fourth-wave feminism. Moreover, Mailer’s brilliance, such as it was, seemed, even at the time he wrote, to be sparks struck by a steely intellect against the tortuous rocks of a particular age, even though he labored tirelessly to the very end, principally as the booster of his own reputation.

It’s also true that, as J. G. Ballard sagely remarked, for a writer, death is always a career move, and for most of us the move is a demotion, as we’re simultaneously lowered into the grave and our works into the dustbin. But having noted all of the above, it remains the case that Mailer’s death coincided with another far greater extinction: that of the literary milieu in which he’d come to prominence and been sustained for decades. It’s a milieu that I hesitate to identify entirely with what’s understood by the ringing phrase “the Republic of Letters,” even though the overlap between the two was once great indeed; and I cannot be alone in wondering what will remain of the latter once the former, which not long ago seemed so very solid, has melted into air.

What I do feel isolated in—if not entirely alone in—is my determination, as a novelist, essayist, and journalist, not to rage against the dying of literature’s light, although it’s surprising how little of this there is, but merely to examine the great technological discontinuity of our era, as we pivot from the wave to the particle, the fractal to the fungible, and the mechanical to the computable. I first began consciously responding, as a literary practitioner, to the manifold impacts of ­BDDM in the early 2000s—although, being the age I am, I have been feeling its effects throughout my working life—and I first started to write and speak publicly about it around a decade ago. Initially I had the impression I was being heard out, if reluctantly, but as the years have passed, my attempts to limn the shape of this epochal transformation have been met increasingly with outrage, and even abuse, in particular from my fellow writers.

As for my attempts to express the impact of the screen on the page, on the actual pages of literary novels, I now understand that these were altogether irrelevant to the requirement of the age that everything be easier, faster, and slicker in order to compel the attention of screen viewers. It strikes me that we’re now suffering collectively from a “tyranny of the virtual,” since we find ourselves unable to look away from the screens that mediate not just print but, increasingly, reality itself.

Photograph (detail) by Ellen Cantor from her Prior Pleasures series © The artist. Courtesy dnj Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Article
Nothing but Gifts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

If necessity is the stern but respectable mother of invention, then perhaps desperation is the derelict father of subterfuge. That was certainly the case when I moved to Seattle in 1979.

Though I’d lived there twice during the previous five years, I wasn’t prepared for the economic boom I found upon this latest arrival. Not only had rent increased sharply in all but the most destitute neighborhoods, landlords now routinely demanded first, last, and a hefty security deposit, which meant I was short by about fifty percent. Over the first week or so, I watched with mounting anxiety as food, gas, and lodging expenses reduced the meager half I did have to a severely deficient third. To make matters even more nerve-racking, I was relocating with my nine-year-old son, Ezra. More than my well-being was at stake.

A veteran of cold, solitary starts in strange cities, I knew our best hope wasn’t the classifieds, and certainly not an agency, but the serendipity of the streets—handmade for rent signs, crowded bulletin boards in laundromats and corner grocery stores, passersby on the sidewalk; I had to exploit every opportunity that might present itself, no matter how oblique or improbable. In Eastlake, at the edge of Lake Union between downtown Seattle and the University District, I spied a shabby but vacant one-story house on the corner of a block that was obviously undergoing transition—overgrown lots and foundation remnants where other houses once stood—and that had at least one permanent feature most right-minded people would find forbidding: an elevated section of Interstate 5 just across the street, attended by the incessant roar of cars and trucks. The house needed a new roof, a couple of coats of paint, and, judging by what Ezra and I could detect during a furtive inspection, major repair work inside, including replacing damaged plaster-and-lath walls with sheetrock. All of this, from my standpoint, meant that I might have found a solution to my dilemma.

The next step was locating the owner, a roundabout process that eventually required a trip to the tax assessor’s office. I called the person listed on the rolls and made an appointment. Then came the moment of truth, or, more precisely, untruth, when dire circumstance begot strategic deception. I’d never renovated so much as a closet, but that didn’t stop me from declaring confidently that I possessed both the skills and the willingness to restore the entire place to a presentable—and, therefore, rentable—state in exchange for being able to live there for free, with the length of stay to be determined as work progressed. To my immense relief, the pretense was well received. Indeed, the owner also seemed relieved, if a bit surprised, that he’d have seemingly trustworthy tenants; homeless people who camped beneath the freeway, he explained, had repeatedly broken into the house and used it for all manner of depravity. Telling myself that inspired charlatanry is superior to mundane trespassing—especially this instance of charlatanry, which would yield some actual good—I accepted the keys from my new landlord.

Photograph (detail) © Larry Towell/Magnum Photos
Article
Among Britain’s Anti-Semites·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

This is the story of how the institutions of British Jewry went to war with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. Corbyn is another feather in the wind of populism and a fragmentation of the old consensus and politesse. He was elected to the leadership by the party membership in 2015, and no one was more surprised than he. Between 1997 and 2010, Corbyn voted against his own party 428 times. He existed as an ideal, a rebuke to the Blairite leadership, and the only wise man on a ship of fools. His schtick is that of a weary, kindly, socialist Father Christmas, dragged from his vegetable patch to create a utopia almost against his will. But in 2015 the ideal became, reluctantly, flesh. Satirists mock him as Jesus Christ, and this is apt. But only just. He courts sainthood, and if you are very cynical you might say that, like Christ, he shows Jews what they should be. He once sat on the floor of a crowded train, though he was offered a first-class seat, possibly as a private act of penance to those who had, at one time or another, had no seat on a train.

When Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, the British media, who are used to punching socialists, crawled over his record and found much to alarm the tiny Jewish community of 260,000. Corbyn called Hez­bollah “friends” and said Hamas, also his “friends,” were devoted “to long-term peace and social justice.” (He later said he regretted using that language.) He invited the Islamist leader Raed Salah, who has accused Jews of killing Christian children to drink their blood, to Parliament, and opposed his extradition. Corbyn is also a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a former chair of Stop the War, at whose rallies they chant, “From the river to the sea / Palestine will be free.” (There is no rhyme for what will happen to the Jewish population in this paradise.) He was an early supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its global campaign to delegitimize Israel and, through the right of return for Palestinians, end its existence as a Jewish state. (His office now maintains that he does not support BDS. The official Labour Party position is for a two-state solution.) In the most recent general election, only 13 percent of British Jews intended to vote Labour.

Corbyn freed something. The scandals bloomed, swiftly. In 2016 Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, was suspended from the party for sharing a Facebook post that suggested Israel be relocated to the United States. She apologized publicly, was reinstated, and is now a shadow women and equalities minister. Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London and a political supporter of Corbyn, appeared on the radio to defend Shah and said, “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.” For this comment, Livingstone was suspended from the party.

A protest against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in Parliament Square, London, March 26, 2018 (detail) © Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty Images

Chances an American who voted for Ross Perot in 1992 can no longer recall having done so:

1 in 2

People tend to believe that God believes what they believe.

Nikki Haley resigns; Jamal Khashoggi murdered; Kanye visits the White House

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today