Friday, June 24, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Calling It Quits

What a week, am I right?  Wow!  Britain exits the EU, LeBron brings a title to Cleveland of all places, and Las Vegas is getting a hockey team thanks to a 1967 USMA grad who ended his introductory press conference with “Beat Navy!”
Oh by the way, this is the last “5 Things on a Friday” for a while, maybe forever.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

Trump spent $6.7 million in May. That’s down from $9.4 million in April, but it’s actually a pretty stunning amount when you consider that he’s not advertising or building a serious field operation. So where did all the money go? Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy report that the campaign paid out more than $1 million to Trump-owned companies and to reimburse his own family for travel expenses. Here are some of the campaign's biggest expenditures:
 -- Campaign swag and printing - $958,836: Hats, pens, T-shirts, mugs and stickers
 -- Air charters - $838,774: “Nearly $350,000 of the money spent on private jets went to Trump's own TAG Air.”
 -- Event staging and rentals - $830,482: This includes the fees for renting facilities such as the Anaheim Convention Center ($43,000) and the Fresno Convention Center ($24,715). But the biggest sum went to Trump's own Mar-A-Lago Club, which was paid $423,317. Meanwhile, the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, got $35,845, while the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fl., was paid $29,715. And Trump’s son Eric’s wine company received nearly $4,000.
This article has lost some of its punch since it came out on Monday.  In the course of this week, Trump has converted some $50 million dollars of loans to his campaign to donations.  That takes some of the sting out of giving to the campaign, knowing that he can’t turn around and gift that money right back to himself to repay the loans.  
Still, Trump seems first and foremost to be running his so-called “campaign” as a for-profit enterprise, primarily to give work to companies that he himself owns.  So his “gift” of $50 million is in reality a lot less than that because almost all of that money has been funneled back through his own corporations.  Though this appears to be legal, it strains the ethics of campaigning to their limits.  I’ve read a few pieces lately in which commentators have noted that Trump’s “campaign” really isn’t, that he is in no way actually “running” for president.  Early in the week, this looked like the literal truth.  He’s made some course corrections since, but if the Democrats had a better candidate, his campaign would already be dead in the water.
2.  HBO’s Westworld

The steps taken by NASA will not translate into all-electric cross-country jetliners. But the agency hopes the technology can be incorporated into smaller, general aviation and commuter aircraft some years from now.
The X-57 will look more like a Cessna, unlike some of NASA’s earlier sleek, futuristic X-planes. Its cruising speed might hit 175 miles per hour. Its wings, however, will be unique — far skinnier than usual and embedded with 14 motors.

Which is cool, right?
The former commander of Iraq and Afghanistan and most celebrated general of our times, forced by a sex scandal to resign his post-Army dream job of CIA director, shamed into retreat from political life, and criminally prosecuted for giving his mistress-biographer classified information—despite this harrowing path of self-destruction, he is now, 3½ years later, a public figure once more, speaking out on the issues of the day to generally respectful audiences.
And some of the things he’s saying are raising eyebrows. To a packed hall at New America’s New York headquarters Monday night, Petraeus endorsed tighter restrictions on gun sales, including the “no-fly, no-buy rule,” under which anyone on an FBI watch list would be barred from purchasing firearms…
And though Petraeus criticized some of President Obama’s policies on Iraq and Syria, he praised the actions taken lately, saying that ISIS forces on the ground are “close to collapse” and that “the odds are,” their strongholds will be cleared by the end of Obama’s term in office.
In short, and to the disturbance of some conservatives who might have thought he was on their side, Petraeus has been sounding a lot like a Democrat.
Slate is a partisan rag, and I should probably have edited out their Democratic triumphalism in reference to Petraeus, especially since it’s irrelevant to the point.  The point is that it looks like he may yet have more to offer to the nation, and frankly, that’s a good thing, major mistakes notwithstanding.
Democratic and Republican views of the opposing political party have sunk to such lows that many say their rivals make them feel afraid…
Majorities in both parties see those on the other side as closed-minded, while significant minorities describe them as immoral, dishonest and unintelligent…  Sizeable minorities — 45 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats — see the opposing party’s policies as so misguided they threaten the country’s well-being, up significantly from two years ago.
The book Tribe talks about this a bit, calling it one of the most corrosive aspects of our modern society.  To paraphrase: Contempt is poison in social situations, and this is what the modern era’s divisive political parties often sell their most strident followers.  Thus is the fabric of society destroyed, making it harder to empathize with neighbors and to live together in a mutually beneficial way.  
In other words--breaking news: Many of today’s political leaders manipulate the public for their own narrow personal ends to the detriment of society at large.
A generally good piece by Olivia Nuzzi that I’ve made no effort to summarize.  The title is misleading, though.  Hope Hicks’ triumph is in no way hard to understand.  Nuzzi lays it out pretty clearly.
Also: Nuzzi is one of my favorite follows on Twitter.  She gets double bonus points for the Daria reference in the background of her Twitter homepage.

So.  I (finally) started working on a new project yesterday, a memoir that Sally and I have been discussing on and off for the past five years or so.  It’s tentatively titled “Swim Bike Run Live Love Repeat”.  I want to try to tell the story of our family and how athletics has saved our lives.  For me, this breaks down in two parts--growing up swimming and becoming a triathlete after my dad died.   I want to wrap this around the story of our marriage, and I want to drop some philosophy into it--workout philosophy and relationship philosophy both.  In my mind, this is equal parts story and how-to book.  I’m not sure how it’s actually going to come together just yet, nor am I entirely positive how to work Sally’s half into it, but this is the concept.
It’s a work in progress.  We’re both outlining events right now, trying to set the narrative and build a structure, but I also wrote two thousand words yesterday by way of checking direction and tone.  It covers my first swim team tryout.  If you want to read that, let me know.
If you’re wondering who this story is for…  well, so am I.  We’re not famous or overly successful, and if we have a better-than-average marriage, so do a lot of people.  You might prefer to take workout advice from someone who is a world-class triathlete, and I don’t necessarily disagree with you.  At least in my own mind, this story is going to be about finding balance.  Work/life balance, swim/life balance, love/life balance.  This is the point.  
How do we get there?  That’s what we’ve got to figure out.
Have a good weekend!

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