The dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association in Washington D.C. last night was defined by the man who wasn’t there. “It isn’t hard to figure that President Donald Trump will regret not being at the center of the kind of adulation and mutual self-congratulations that the media annually shared with former President Barack Obama,” wrote Michael Wolff in the Hollywood Reporter, adding: “At the same time, he apparently is self-aware enough, or combative enough, to refuse to swallow the slights and indignities that former President George W. Bush was said to annually feel amid the spring rites of the liberal media — slights and indignities that would, presumably, be much worse for Trump.”
According to Michael Wolff, Donald Trump would have loved being the centre of media attention last night, but his presence among the “elites in their protected bubble” would “offend the populist heart and soul of Trumpism.” And then he wades into the fray:
“The White House Correspondents’ Dinner by any reasonable measure has become a very bad political symbol. It’s an exclusive and exclusionary event that celebrates power and influence for power and influence’s sake. It’s public narcissism, wherein all the celebrities become ecstatic at the sight of one another. (Of note, I have never known anyone invited to the dinner to say they actually wanted to go — rather, it is a burden of celebrity, a self-satisfied martyrdom.) The event is too, in its form, a kind of kin to late-night television — invariably hosted by a late-night star or a comedian aspiring to be a late-night star. It extols a cultural knowingness that, to say the least, excludes Trump and the Trump base, who are the reverse of cultural knowingness. One of the most notable aspects of the dinner for the past eight years, and one of the most notable aspects of Obama’s character, is how much, stepping out of presidential earnestness, he resembles — in timing, sensibility and archness — a late-night host.”
Indeed. But no late-night host is trousering a $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee.Tweet
American adults trust President Trump more than the national political media, according to a poll released yesterday. Thirty-seven percent trust the White House against 29 percent who believe the political media in the Morning Consult survey (PDF). Thirty-four percent are unsure or have no opinion.
Morning Consult found that nearly half say the national political media is tougher on Trump than past presidential administrations. Forty-eight percent said America’s political journalists are harder on Trump, compared with 16 percent who say they are easier. Twenty-three percent say they are “about the same,” while 13 percent have no opinion.
Yesterday’s results found a slight majority who say the national political media is “out of touch with everyday Americans.” Twenty-eight percent said it “understands the challenges everyday Americans are facing,” and 21 percent were undecided.
Morning Consult conducted its survey of 2,006 US adults via online interviews from 25 to 26 April. It has a margin of error of two percentage points.Tweet
Profits at Amazon surged more than 40 percent, to $724 million, in the first three months of the year, Reuters reported last night. The growth was driven by web services and subscriptions, such as Amazon Prime, and the company highlighted its international expansion in India, Mexico and the UK.
Talking of the UK, Amazon will increase its British headcount to 24,000 when it adds 1,200 new jobs at warehouses equipped with advanced robotics. “The introduction of Amazon robotics in Warrington and Tilbury is the latest example of our commitment to invention in logistics on behalf of our employees and our customers,” Stefano Perego, director of UK customer fulfilment at Amazon UK, told The Guardian.
Talking of robots, Christian Schürch is a Swiss student of mechanical engineering and he had to make a toy train go in a circle as part of a project. He used a FANUC M-2iA/3S, which he says is “controlled by two languages Fanuc developed for themselves. The main language is called Teach Pendant and the other one, which I only used for a few programs, is called Karel.” The Luga Trade Fair opens today in Lucerne and Christian Schürch’s train will run and run and run there. A bit like Amazon, it is, really.Tweet
As a foretaste of her forthcoming album, Rise, which will be available on June 2, the mighty Molly Tuttle has released the track Save This Heart. She’s backed here on fiddle by John Mailander, bass, Todd Phillips, lap steel guitar, Darrell Scott, and percussion, Jano Rix. The video was directed by Bill Filipiak.Tweet
Jam Koum? Yan Koum? Jan Koum? Russian journalist Darya Luganskaya, who writes cryptic English, snags a rare interview with the reticent co-founder of WhatsApp, who co-trousered $19 billion with Brian Acton when Facebook acquired the app in 2014.
Darya Luganskaya notes that the messenger generation is not that into making phone calls and asks, “Why people turn to text communication so fast?”
Jan Koum: “I can not speak from the others. I personally prefer not to call, because I am afraid to disturb people. Everybody has very rich life, and it seems to me I can distract them from something important. Somebody could have dinner with his family, prepare the homework with his children or attend an important meeting. And then all of a sudden his phone rings, but my call could be absolutely unimportant. I may just want to ask: how is it going?
Usually I try to plan the call. I ask in the messenger if I could call, for example, in half an hour. For me it is much easier to chat via messengers.”
The WhatsApp user base of more than one billion messaging people is cool with that.Tweet
If you add Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s 19 percent to the 21 percent Marine Le Pen got in yesterday’s French presidential first-round vote, you have 40 percent of the electorate now radically opposed to “the system” of which Emmanuel Macron is a product and a symbol. Still, he will be elected president of France in a fortnight’s time says Arthur Goldhammer, writing in Prospect. Why? The youthful Macron has three main advantages over the hapless Hollande. Snippet:
“First, he did not pretend to be anything but what he is: a reformist social-liberal technocrat.
Second, he is not saddled with the baggage of 30 years of maneuvering among party factions and a hundred past compromises.
Finally, and most importantly, he has the knack of reassuring the Germans, who in my estimation have recognized that some modification in their approach to strict budgetary discipline is in order if the European Union is to be preserved, as they hope it will be because they have profited from it so handsomely. Regardless of whether Merkel or Schulz is the next German chancellor, the Germans will have found in Macron someone they can work with, and that is long overdue good news for Europe.”
Given the nature of the French administration, being president is a critical part of the constitutional puzzle, but governing is a very different story. Or, as they say in France: c’est une autre paire de manches.Tweet
The English poet Rupert Brooke died of sepsis on this day (St. George’s Day) in 1915 on a French hospital ship off the Greek island of Skyros, while preparing for the landing at Gallipoli. He was 27. His brother, William Brooke, a member of the London Regiment, was killed in action near Le Rutoire Farm on 14 June 1915. He was 24.
Rupert Brooke was famous for his good looks, which prompted the poet W. B. Yeats to describe him as “the handsomest young man in England”, and he had a large circle of powerful friends, including Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill. He lived his short life with passion: poet, scholar, dramatist, critic, traveller, activist, soldier. He is best known for his sonnets written during the First World War, especially The Soldier.
The Hill, a meditation on fate, contains some of the great lines of modern English poetry: “We have kept the faith!” and “We shall go down with unreluctant tread / Rose-crowned into the darkness!”
Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, “Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old.…” “And when we die
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips,” said I,
— “Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!”
“We are Earth’s best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!” we said;
“We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!”… Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
— And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.
Rupert Brooke (1887 – 1915)
The full title of this sobering piece by Spengler (David P. Goldman) on tomorrow’s French election is “Come to Me, My Mélenchony Baby” and it’s a thoughtful take from the American side of the Atlantic on the options that face voters in a contest that’s powered by “rage against the country’s complacent and corrupt Establishment.” In a choice between Macron and Le Pen, Spengler would opt for Fillon. Snippet:
“Macron is pure bubble; if the bubble pops, right and left could unite with some elements of the Establishment to put Le Pen in power. She is the only candidate to warn about the danger to French society posed by Muslim migrants. But she also wants to take France out of the European Union, which would mean the end of the EU. The main winner in that case would be Putin. If I were French I would at least consider voting for Le Pen; as an American, I hope she loses as a matter of pure American strategic interest. The best outcome from an American standpoint would be the victory of the conservative Catholic free-marketeer Francois Fillon.”
Only Mélenchon or Le Pen would challenge the rotten elites, but neither France nor the EU might survive their radical approaches. Which, then, is the lesser of the electoral evils? That’s what the voters must ponder, but regardless of the outcome, the decline of France will continue.Tweet
“The Twilight of the French Elite” is the English translation of Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut, the most recent book by Christophe Guilluy, who describes himself an urban geographer. Guilluy is best known for his concept of France périphérique and Christopher Caldwell examines the idea and the works of Guilluy in the Spring issue of City Journal and his essay, The French, Coming Apart, is as enlightening as it is disturbing.
On many levels, France gives the appearance of stability, but signs of crisis abound. The ruling elite has lost its legitimacy and there’s a dangerous vacuum where the centre once was. Meanwhile, there’s terror on the streets, despair amidst the squeezed middle and a draconian political correctness. Snippet:
“French elites have convinced themselves that their social supremacy rests not on their economic might but on their common decency. Doing so allows them to ‘present the losers of globalization as embittered people who have problems with diversity,’ says Guilluy. It’s not our privilege that the French deplorables resent, the elites claim; it’s the color of some of our employees’ skin. French elites have a thesaurus full of colorful vocabulary for those who resist the open society: repli (‘reaction’), crispation identitaire (‘ethnic tension’), and populisme (an accusation equivalent to fascism, which somehow does not require an equivalent level of proof). One need not say anything racist or hateful to be denounced as a member of ‘white, xenophobic France,’ or even as a ‘fascist.’ To express mere discontent with the political system is dangerous enough. It is to faire le jeu de (‘play the game of’) the National Front.”
Tip: For excellent observations on the French elections, read the French Politics blog of Art Goldhammer, “a student and observer of French politics since 1968.”Tweet