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The new normal

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Daily Point

The week that was

Pundits have declared this week the most consequential week yet in Donald Trump’s presidency. And there’s grist for such a conclusion, given the conviction of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and the guilty plea of his former attorney Michael Cohen. Not to mention news that federal prosecutors have granted to immunity to two other longtime Trump associates — National Enquirer chief David Pecker and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

But these past five August days have been hugely important throughout history, too. Because it was on these days that:

  • Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and killing some 20,000 people (a metaphor for volcanic eruptions on Twitter that bury people in layers of disparagement and lies).
  • British forces fighting Americans in the War of 1812 entered Washington in 1814 and set fire to the White House and Capitol (any number of Americans wouldn’t mind figuratively burning the place down and starting over with a new batch of leaders).
  • Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831 resulted in the deaths of 55 white people and, eventually, Turner’s execution (while President Donald Trump retweets a false white supremacist conspiracy theory about black South Africans killing white farmers in South Africa).
  • The first debate of seven between Illinois senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in 1858 (no, you won’t see such eloquence in Washington anytime soon).
  • Forest fires in Idaho, Washington and Montana in 1910 killed 85 people and destroyed 3 million acres (an eerie presagement of the fires that have ravaged the West this summer).
  • Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston in 1927 for killing two men during a robbery (yes, the demonization of entire ethnic groups on the basis of the actions of a few is still alive and well).
  • Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992, causing $30 billion in damage (as Hurricane Lane lashes Hawaii amid fears of similar destruction).

Anyone ready for just plain ol’ dogs days of August next week?

Michael Dobie

Talking Point

You be the judge

Did Newsday endorse Theresa Whelan for Suffolk County surrogate judge? (Spoiler alert: No.)

The political mailer seen below was sent out by Suffolk Democrats on behalf of Whelan, one of two candidates seeking the party’s line for county surrogate judge in September’s primary. The Newsday logo is front and center just below a quote from a July 20 news story that ironically is about how County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer had to bail from a nine-judge cross-endorsement deal that initially had Marian Tinari as the surrogate nominee. To left of the flyer is a red triangle with the words “endorsed by”; it lists three Democratic groups or officials.

Unsurprisingly, Schaffer chose not to quote from a June 28 Newsday editorial that featured a “Wanted” ad for surrogate judge candidates to step forward “with a backbone to resist pressure from political bosses to reward cronies and donors with big fees.” Tara Scully did step forward.

After that, Tinari was quickly dumped as a candidate by her husband, Frank, chair of the Suffolk County Conservative Party, and Schaffer because Scully, a registered Republican, pulled off a big surprise by petitioning her way on the Democratic ballot to protest Schaffer’s cross-endorsement deals. Scully has the Republican nomination as well.

Schaffer says it’s not unusual for the Democratic committee to take sides in a primary, especially because Whelan’s opponent is a Republican. “It does not say that Newsday endorsed Theresa Whelan, nor does it give the impression that Whelan was endorsed by Newsday,” he says, adding that Scully is the one trying to mislead.

Scully’s camp retorts that the mailer is just “one part of an overall plan that depends completely on the hope that the political bosses will be able to dupe Democrat voters.”

Rita Ciolli

Pencil Point

Tailor-made

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