Theater, much like Japan's Kabuki -- that's all the Supreme Court confirmation process is. Donald Trump's presentations of his two nominees, Judge Neil Gorsuch last year and Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Monday, were uncharacteristically graceful -- a worthy theatrical innovation, in the view of even some Trump critics.
Will NAFTA survive? Last week, Mexico elected as president longtime NAFTA critic Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (always called "AMLO") by a wide margin. He promptly had a cordial telephone conversation with longtime NAFTA critic President Donald Trump, who remains U.S. president for the next 30 months and, if re-elected, for all of AMLO's six-year term.
It became official just after lunchtime on Wednesday, just after the Supreme Court announced its final decisions of the term and went into recess. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 104th person to serve on the court, is retiring, effective just after his 82nd birthday next month, after 30 years of service.
"I would prefer not to." That was the invariable reply of the title character of Herman Melville's 1853 story "Bartleby, the Scrivener," when asked by his employer to perform a task.
It has been a week full of wins for President Donald Trump -- at least for those who share Trump's view of the way the world works, and perhaps even for some who don't.
Exhibit A is Trump's summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In their self-congratulatory joint statement, they said that North Korea committed to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and the United States agreed to "provide security guarantees" to North Korea.
The nation is just past halftime in the 2018 primary election cycle. Twenty states -- containing the majority, 228 of 435, of House districts -- have held their primaries, and all but the three with runoffs have chosen their nominees.
"Across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its institutions and the most supportive of authoritarianism." So wrote political researcher David Adler in The New York Times after analyzing responses to two multi-country surveys on values.
"F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims," read the headline on a lengthy New York Times story May 18. "The Justice Department used a suspected informant to probe whether Trump campaign aides were making improper contacts with Russia in 2016," read a story in the May 21 edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Isaac Newton's third law of motion states that for every action in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It can operate in politics, too. For example, Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith recently wrote, "It is part of Trump's evil genius that he elevates himself by inducing his critics to behave like him."
Seventy-three years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt, on his trip back from the Yalta conference with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, held his last meeting with foreign leaders, aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal's Great Bitter Lake. One was with the desert warrior king, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who sailed in with seven live sheep and a tent to sleep in on deck.