Florida Lawmaker Quits Over Use of Racial Slurs

Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles (R), “who unleashed an expletive-laden rant over drinks with two other lawmakers this week, uttering a racial slur for black people and other vulgarities, resigned from his position on Friday,” the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reports Artiles has come under scrutiny for listing a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model as a “consultant” in his latest campaign finance filings.

White House Seems Excited About a Shut Down

Ryan Lizza: “While the potential for a government shutdown has been overshadowed by other events — Syria, North Korea, the attempted repeal of Obamacare — the Trump White House is suddenly seized with the issue.”

Said a top White House official: “Next week is going to have quite high drama. It’s going to be action-packed. This one is not getting as much attention, but, trust me, it’s going to be the battle of the titans. And the great irony here is that the call for the government shutdown will come on—guess what?—the hundredth day. If you pitched this in a studio, they would say, ‘Get out of here, it’s too ridiculous.’ This is going to be a big one.”

Russia Used Trump Advisers to Infiltrate Campaign

“The FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign,” CNN reports.

“The new information adds to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 election, not only through email hacks and propaganda but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit. The intelligence led to an investigation into the coordination of Trump’s campaign associates and the Russians.”

Trump Will Unveil Tax Plan Next Week

President Trump told the AP that businesses and individuals will receive a “massive tax cut” under a tax reform package he plans to unveil next week.

He said the package will be released on “Wednesday or shortly thereafter” — just before his 100 day mark in office.

Jonathan Swan: “Don’t expect to see anything like a fully fledged tax plan. We bet it’ll be a 100,000 foot document, with no real path for how to get there — just targets.”

The Problem with Political Books Today

Matt Bai: “I don’t know the authors of Shattered, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, but they seem like capable and energetic reporters. There’s no lack of industry in the breezy book they apparently wrote in less time than it takes me to finish reading one.”

“No, my problem is with the entire genre of contemporary campaign books, which don’t illuminate the soullessness of our political culture so much as they reflect it. You can’t really treat presidential politics as a form of shallow entertainment and then claim to be shocked when a shallow entertainer wins the presidency.”

“I get why today’s political writers would want to emulate the books a lot of us grew up reading… But you can’t actually write the books that a McGinniss or a Cramer wrote now, even if you have half their talent. That’s because, to quote ‘Hamilton,’ those guys were in the room where it happened. They were witnesses to history, at a time when history hadn’t yet conspired to lock them out.”

Trump Warns 9 “Sanctuary” Cities They May Lose Funds

The Trump administration “sent nine so-called sanctuary jurisdictions letters demanding they help enforce federal immigration law or risk losing federal grants,” The Hill reports.

“The jurisdictions included New York City, Chicago and the surrounding Cook County, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Miami-Dade County in Florida and the state of California, which were all identified in a May 2016 Justice Department inspector general report as in violation.”

The Challenge of Containing Kim Jung Un

The Economist: “For all his eccentricities, Mr Kim is behaving rationally. He watched Muammar Qadaffi of Libya give up his nuclear program in return for better relations with the West—and end up dead. He sees his nuclear arsenal as a guarantee that his regime, and he, will survive. (Though it would be suicidal for him to use it.) Mr Trump can do little to change his mind. Economic sanctions that harm his people will not spoil his lunch. Cyber-attacks, which may account for the failure of some recent missile launches, can slow but not stop him. America can solve the Korean conundrum only with China’s help.”

“China has leverage over Mr Kim. It accounts for 85% of North Korea’s foreign trade and could shut off its oil supply. But its interests are not the same as America’s. North Korea is its ally. China’s leaders do not like the Kim regime, but they do not wish to see it collapse and North Korea reunite, German-style, with the democratic South. That, China fears, would mean the loss of a valuable buffer. There are 28,500 American troops stationed in the South; China does not want them on its border.”

The Crisis of Western Civilization

David Brooks: “In America, the basic fabric of civic self-government seems to be eroding following the loss of faith in democratic ideals. According to a study published in The Journal of Democracy, the share of young Americans who say it is absolutely important to live in a democratic country has dropped from 91 percent in the 1930s to 57 percent today.”

“While running for office, Donald Trump violated every norm of statesmanship built up over these many centuries, and it turned out many people didn’t notice or didn’t care.”

“The faith in the West collapsed from within. It’s amazing how slow people have been to rise to defend it.”

Obama Returns to Public Life Next Week

New York Times: “Barack Obama’s extended post-presidential vacation is about to end. After spending weeks in French Polynesia — including time on the yacht of the movie mogul David Geffen along with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey — Mr. Obama will return to Chicago on Monday for his first public event as a former president.”

“His self-imposed silence since Inauguration Day will end with a series of events over the next four weeks. A Monday town hall-style meeting with students at the University of Chicago will be followed by an awards ceremony in Boston; a series of public remarks as well as private paid speeches in the United States and Europe; and an appearance at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

Trump Condos Worth $250 Million Pose Conflict

USA Today spent four months cataloging every property Trump’s companies own across the country. Reporters found that Trump’s companies are sitting on at least $250 million of individual properties in the USA alone. Property records show Trump’s trust and his companies own at least 422 luxury condos and penthouses from New York City to Las Vegas, 12 mansion lots on bluffs overlooking his golf course on the Pacific Ocean and dozens more smaller pieces of real estate. The properties range in value from about $200,000 to $35 million each.”

“The volume of real estate creates an extraordinary and unprecedented potential for people, corporations or foreign interests to try to influence a president. Anyone who wanted to court favor with the president could snap up multiple properties or purposefully overpay. They could buy in the name of a shell company, making it impossible for the public to know who was behind the sales.”