Something is rotten in the state of Denmark – but the smell is coming from somewhere else.
This week, after calling President Donald Trump’s idea to purchase Greenland “absurd,” the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, joined the ranks of an exclusive but growing club of women, the one with people Trump calls “nasty.” Its members? Latest count: a former Secretary of State, a current Speaker of the House, a handful of US Senators, the CEO of General Motors, the Duchess of Sussex. (There are also over a dozen guys, many of whom were running for president at the time of their induction.)
As Frida Ghitis pointed out, “nasty” is “one of the insults he [Trump] generally” deploys when going after “strong women.” Kara Alaimo concurred, suggesting that Trump’s predilection for dismissing women who challenge him is an example of his troubling misogyny.
In this case, Ghitis assessed, his disparagement of Frederiksen is also a sign of Trump’s obsession with Scandinavia and the Nordic countries. “There’s just something about Trump and Scandinavia,” she wrote, from Trump’s false claim in “The Art of the Deal” that his grandfather was Swedish (he was German) to his plaintive question during the notorious meeting where he allegedly complained about people coming from “shithole countries”: why don’t more Norwegians want to come to the United States?
With Trump handing out insults to world leaders and christening himself the “chosen one” (even though he later claimed he was kidding), the G7 meeting – happening this weekend in Biarritz – may be a spicy affair.
A view on the G7 meeting:
The United States of America isn’t the first country to endure an “unhinged” leader, observed John Avlon, but the nation may be facing a new threshold with Trump’s triptych this week: making the “chosen one” comment, retweeting a conspiracy theorist who called him the “second coming of God” and joking about giving himself a Medal of Honor. “There is no universe where the President approving of comparisons of himself to the Messiah is not strange and disturbing,” Avlon declared. And after Trump leveled his rage at Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Friday and the markets tanked, the message was clear, said Avlon: “President Trump seems to see himself as invested with the powers of a king, constrained only by the generosity of his will. Which is why he rails against any individual or institution who attempts to hold him accountable.”
The President is “seemingly devoted to making our country the Divided States of America” wrote Michael D’Antonio, calling out as “evil” the words Trump used to describe American Jews who vote for Democrats: Trump said they have “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Lev Golinkin noted that the “disloyalty” charge carries a dark and twisted history, one that invokes “blood-soaked” and “historically lethal” forms of anti-Semitism. Trump’s comment was “sickening coming from an American president,” wrote Philip Klein for the Washington Examiner.
More smart takes:
Dean Obeidallah: Trump’s hypocrisy on extremist groups
Julian Zelizer: Under Trump, the deficit has ballooned, exploding a GOP myth
Help us say goodbye to summer
More opportunities to share your story:
About leaving for college – Marjorie Rosenthal: Having an empty nest isn’t what I expected
About the challenges of air travel – Lori Bassani: What new FAA chief needs to do to keep the misery out of flying
The deepest betrayal of America
Against the backdrop of the documented rise of domestic extremism in the United States, another instance emerged this week of students appearing to use Nazi gestures – this time in California. We must address this recurring problem of young people evoking a “nightmarish past,” wrote David Vigilante, with an understanding that white supremacy and Nazism, while directed at Jews and people of color, are a betrayal of every single one of us – any expression of them harms us all.
Vigilante urged readers to remember what’s at stake in a Nazi (or Nazi-sympathizing) gesture, song, image or idea: “To admire Nazism is to be a racist. To admire Nazism is to betray your country. And to admire Nazism is to torture the souls of those Americans who paid the ultimate price to save our democracy from the Nazis. That is how we all must see anyone who venerates Nazis.”
Trump’s empty promises on guns
Trying to trace Trump’s position on guns can feel like a trip through the looking glass. After the Parkland shooting in 2018, he pledged he would “do something” and, according to Democrats who attended meetings with him, he expressed openness to banning assault weapons and support for universal background checks. But after speaking with NRA leaders, those prospects evaporated.
Enough is enough, emphasized Michael Dowling for CNN Business Perspectives, issuing a call for fellow health care CEOs to take a stand on gun control. Dowling outlined five immediate steps health care CEOs can take to mobilize employees, and called gun violence “a national tragedy and a public health crisis that demands we use our political capital and advocacy. Health care CEOs and the 18 million men and women who are part of the nation’s health care workforce can be an incredibly powerful voice for change.”
Jennifer Rubin, writing in the Washington Post, identified another way of addressing the crisis: “Practically speaking, the real way forward might be for Democrats to run on gun safety in 2020 and call out Trump and his Republican allies as cowards. That would be smart politics given that the NRA’s approval is underwater and new gun laws are exceptionally popular with the same groups of voters already fleeing the GOP (e.g., women, college-educated voters, suburbanites).”
The immigration disaster
Two crucial and controversial elements of the United States immigration system came under fire this week. The first – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) – has been “living on borrowed time” ever since Trump first tried to end it in September 2017, wrote Elie Honig. But the “skies are darkening” for DACA, Honig said, as the Trump administration’s effort to terminate the program – backed this week by the Justice Department – heads to the Supreme Court in its upcoming term. Honig speculated that on this issue, as on so many others, the deciding vote may rest with Chief Justice John Roberts.
The Trump administration’s message on immigration is clear, contended Raul Reyes: “When all else fails, lock up children.” That’s what Reyes deduced from the administration’s new regulation replacing the Flores settlement agreement, which sets minimum standards for migrant children in government custody and limits their detention to 20 days. Without Flores in place, Trump claimed, migrants will find it “impossible” to come to the US “illegally.” For Reyes, by contrast, the new regulation “won’t… help solve the humanitarian crisis at the border. The new rule is legally and logistically suspect. The only thing it guarantees is that more children will suffer greatly.”
Acknowledging the Trump administration’s efforts to “make life harder for child migrants and migrants in general,” Tina Rosenberg pointed out in the New York Times that the “system’s horrors run deeper.” Most unaccompanied immigrant children don’t get deported when they have a lawyer, Rosenberg reported, but most children face a judge alone and those who don’t rely on a network of volunteers, essentially sustaining the “safety net for these children” by the “legal equivalent of a bake sale.”
Planned Parenthood makes a choice
Planned Parenthood, upon facing what Jill Filipovic described as an “impossible choice,” opted in a historic move to discontinue its receipt of funds from Title X, the federal family planning program that provides affordable birth control. To continue in the program, Planned Parenthood would have to both stop providing abortions and stop telling women where they could get legal abortion procedures. “That’s an unconscionable encroachment on free speech,” argued Filipovic, because “it effectively gags doctors and nurses from giving patients accurate information about their completely legal health care options.”
Finding our best and body-positive selves
Talk about pregnancy bubbled up on social media this week as well, thanks to model Ashley Graham and her viral Instagram post featuring a picture of her own pregnant body, which, Peggy Drexler opined, “calls out pregnancy for what it is for so many: large and layered and pretty uncomfortable,” while giving women permission to not always be perfect.
That pressure to be body-perfect – or even just to be smaller – worried Holly Thomas, who called out a new WW (formerly Weight Watchers) app for children and adolescents. Wrote Thomas: “A tragedy of encouraging children to listen to an app, rather than their stomachs, is that it robs them of weight-regulating tools they already had. And while it’s up to parents — the ones who have the resources to do so – to try to ensure their kids’ access to good food, regular meals and plenty of exercise, offloading that responsibility onto a weight-loss app administered by non-professionals whose first interest is not in the health of these kids but in the health of its bottom line is quite possibly setting them up for an eating disorder.”
Think before you share this video
Lilit Marcus, who is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), and whose first language was American Sign Language, had a message for hearing folks who are sharing the now-viral video of ASL interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego working at a Twista performance: stop, think and ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Marcus, noting that many of those watching Gallego and sharing the video cited “raising awareness” about the Deaf community as a reason, said those folks have more work to do: “Watching a signer communicate and thinking you’ll learn ASL along the way is sort of like walking into a library and thinking you’ll absorb all the information in the books just by looking at their covers. When people tell me they recently attended a live program that had an interpreter and that they loved watching him or her perform, I ask what new vocabulary words they picked up. Invariably, the answer is none. Seeing ASL as something cool to watch instead of as a vital service also gives us a peek into why we still have so much work to do in this country around accessibility.”
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Christopher Leonard for CNN Business Perspectives: David Koch was known for his political influence. This is his business legacy
Mark Green: How to end the Ebola crisis
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A message from the 1990s
How do beloved 1990s films and shows stack up? That was a question on a lot of people’s minds this week.
First HBO Max announced “Rules of Magic,” a 1960s prequel to the 1998 witch-mania favorite, “Practical Magic.” That earlier Sandra Bullock vehicle, with its pop feminism and romantic love plots, doesn’t hold up as well as she thought, wrote Breena Kerr, but that only emphasizes why she thinks this new 1960s prequel is just the right kind of magic needed in the age of Trump: “Magic is a metaphor for personal power and the things that we can do when we set our minds to something. That’s why movies about wizards and witches are so relatable — most people have a sense of stirring within them when they think about something they believe in, a sense of possibility that they could change the current reality.”
Next up: “Seinfeld” and “Friends” are both celebrating big anniversaries this summer – 30th and 25th respectively – and while that’s sparked some debate on social media about which show is the best, Melissa Blake declared it’s not even close: “Seinfeld,” hands down. Its characters address all phases of life, not just a free-wheeling (and financially unrealistic) version of being in your 20s and 30s. As Blake reflected, “while we may have wanted to be as cool and chic as Rachel Green in ‘Friends,’ in reality, we were all much more similar to awkward Elaine from ‘Seinfeld.’ Just think about it in contemporary terms. If Rachel were a real person living in 2019, she would be an Instagram influencer posting her #OOTD full of #sponsored clothing from hip places like Madewell or J. Crew. If Elaine were a real person living in 2019, she would probably swear off social media – or use it to spy on her exes.”
Enjoy those last few days of summer and don’t forget to share your stories with us, so this newsletter can be in your words come Labor Day weekend!