The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Most Important Measuring Stick of the Trump Era: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Good morning! The short week has ended.

The Most Important Measuring Stick of the Trump Era: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

This morning the unemployment rate stayed the same — 4.3 percent — and the economy added 138,000 jobs in May — not great, but not bad. What’s perhaps most intriguing is that the economy added 6,000 jobs in mining and almost 8,000 jobs in “support activities for mining.”

I wonder how many of these are up in Alaska, where there’s been a flurry of activity:

Canadian company Quaterra Resources Inc., said last week that it will invest in copper exploration 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. Another Canadian firm, Graphite One Resources, is looking at developing a graphite mine near Nome. White Rock Minerals, based in Australia, plans to conduct field work this summer at a mineral deposit just south of Fairbanks. In Willow, just north of Anchorage, residents are preparing for the restart of the Lucky Shot Mine in Hatcher Pass. Alaska Gold Torrent LLC wants to reopen that mine next year.

Pechanga Resort in California is hiring 560 new people. Amazon has begun hiring for 2,500 full-time positions at its new robotics fulfillment center in Houston and another 1,000 in Georgia. Facebook is hiring 3,000 new content monitors (although it’s a tough job, spending your days looking for disturbing or criminal activity).

The Impasse in the Debate About Climate Change

We’re at an impasse.

For years, professor Glenn Reynolds, a.k.a., the Instapundit, has examined high-profile climate-change activists and responded skeptically, “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when they start acting like a crisis” — i.e., they believe the problem can only be solved with punitive measures like higher energy costs, but refuse to make any discernable sacrifices themselves.

There’s no shortage of glaring contradictions. When the Paris Conference certified itself as carbon-neutral, they didn’t count the carbon emissions of the 40,000 attendees traveling to and from the conference. One round-trip flight from New York to the West Coast or Europe has a warming effect equivalent to two or three tons of carbon dioxide per person. Richard Branson, who owns an airline, spoke at a march about climate change recently. Self-described environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio continues to crisscross countries in his private jet. Al Gore made $500 million selling his television network to Al Jazeera, a network owned and funded by the Qatari royal family, which enjoys the world’s third-largest oil and natural gas reserves. Gore has a giant home in Tennessee, although maybe not as big as Thomas Friedman’s 11,000-square-foot mansion in Maryland; he wrote in one of his books the construction of the giant house “prevented it from being redeveloped into a subdivision of a dozen more houses.” He’s willing to live in luxury to avert the carbon footprint of those other families.

The celebrities are the most glaring examples, but you can find non-famous cases of environmentalist hypocrisy, too. Residents of Park Slope, Brooklyn, filed a lawsuit against a bike lane. Cape Cod, Mass., residents fought the construction of a wind farm off the coast. Berkeley, Calif., residents fought the establishment of bus-only lanes on roads.

Now, in the years and years Americans have been debating climate change and what to do about it, have you ever heard an environmentalist say, “You know, you’re right. We really do look like we’re not practicing what we preach. We really do look like we’re telling other people to make sacrifices we’re not willing to make ourselves. The glaring hypocrisy of these figures really undermines the message we want to communicate”? If so, please point out those statements; I haven’t found many.

Environmentalists and climate-change activists know that a lot of people on the right see them as egregious hypocrites, and they don’t care. To them, this is getting wrapped up in petty details; when the core of your argument is “the fate of the planet and humanity itself is at stake!” you can hand-wave away a lot of the details.

Environmentalists fume at the average voter’s inability to see the big picture and the long-term consequences. They think Americans are insufferably entitled, way too focused on their own individual material and financial circumstances, unwilling to see how their decisions collectively impact everyone else, and stubbornly resistant to data, numbers, and bad news. They insist that the collective shrugging belief that someone else will solve the problem someday is willful blindness. They fume that the status quo is one of worsening circumstances, but moving so slowly and gradually that most people can ignore it. By the time the crisis is really visible, it will be too late; the only way to mitigate the problem at that point will be drastic, unpopular action and widespread sacrifice. They believe that whatever pain they’re proposing now, it’s exponentially milder than the pain that awaits us if we do nothing.

Perhaps we should have a little sympathy. When they talk like this, they sound a lot like us conservatives when we talk about the ticking time bomb of our entitlement programs and the need for reform.

Making Sense of Showtime’s Twin Peaks, Episode 4

As episode four begins, Dale Cooper’s soul is back on earth, but it’s now in the body of shlubby lookalike “Dougie Jones.” He’s barely coherent and wandering in a stupor, but he’s been guided by visions to insane winnings at slot machines at a casino in Las Vegas. Strangely, the casino managers aren’t suspicious of his unimaginable luck and merely send him on his way home in a limo.

Dougie makes it to his home in the Vegas suburbs as an owl flies overhead. (Owls are a bad omen in Native American mythology, and in a previous season, a benevolent spirit warned Cooper, “The owls are not what they seem.”) His wife has been in a panic about him being missing for three days. She’s relieved that he’s home and has won thousands of dollars in cash from the casino, declaring cryptically, “there’s enough here to pay them back.” She’s bizarrely nonchalant about the fact that her impassive husband is acting like he’s had a stroke.

Back on the East Coast, FBI regional director Gordon Cole meets with the Bureau’s new chief of staff, Denise Bryson, the transvestite DEA agent who appeared in a few episodes of the show’s second season, played by David Duchovny in his pre-X-Files days. In one of the most cringe-inducing scenes yet, Bryson contends Agent Tamara Preston is too young and beautiful to be qualified agent. Maybe this is David Lynch mocking himself and his own taste in casting young, beautiful actresses.

Finally, we return to the town the show is named after. Lovable and ditzy sheriff’s office receptionist Lucy Moran screams and faints at the sight of Sheriff Truman — the new Sheriff Frank Truman, played by Robert Forster, instead of the old show’s Sheriff Harry Truman, played by Michael Ontkean. Lucy’s freak-out is sort of a wink to the audience that one of the show’s key characters has been replaced, and that Ontkean’s inability to come back meant that the show had to sort-of recast the role and invent an older brother no one ever mentioned before.

Some fans speculate we’re seeing another aspect of Lucy this season; she’s not merely ditzy, she actually has Alzheimer’s and that’s why she’s confused by cell phones and why the actual police dispatch work is done in a back room. We see that the problems of Twin Peaks, Wash., of today are like a lot of other small towns across the country: domestic disturbances, drunk drivers, and a high-school student overdosed on drugs. “When the bell rang, he never got up from his desk.”

We also learn that Bobby Briggs, once an angry, coke-dealing punk, grew up to be a sheriff’s deputy and now catches drug smugglers. Sheriff Frank Truman seems a lot more skeptical of the Log Lady’s cryptic warnings, and if I had to guess, he’s keeping Deputy Andy and Lucy on staff simply out of loyalty to his brother’s wishes. Deputy Bobby sees Laura Palmer’s picture, and for the first time in four episodes, we hear the show’s classic music. Bobby’s briefly overcome with memories of his high-school girlfriend’s untimely murder, and mentions that Dale Cooper was the last man to see his father, Major Garland Briggs alive. We’re left to surmise that the BOB-possessed Cooper murdered Major Briggs.

Then we head outside the sheriff’s station, where Lucy and Andy’s son, “Wally Brando,” has returned to town. Played by Michael Cera, Wally is apparently obsessed with Marlon Brando and imitates Brando’s accent and quotes his movies. Some fans love this scene, some hate it; it’s definitely one of the silliest we’ve seen so far. He portentously declares, “My shadow is always with me . . . sometimes ahead, sometimes behind, sometimes to the left or sometimes to the right . . . except on cloudy days or at night.” Sheriff Truman seems to find the whole Brennan family sweet but hapless.

Dougie/Cooper has a vision of the One-Armed Man in the Red Room, who has figured out that BOB has stuck Cooper’s soul into another body. “You were tricked. Now one of you must die.” He finds he has a young son, Sonny Jim, who seems to instinctively know a new soul is in his dad’s body, and takes it all in stride. With a first scalding taste of coffee and a smile, there’s a hint that Cooper’s old soul might finally be reawakening.

In South Dakota, the FBI team of Gordon Cole, Albert Rosenfeld, and Tamara Preston arrive at the prison where the BOB-possessed body of Cooper is being held. (The late Miguel Ferrer’s performance as Albert is muted, and one can’t help but wonder if his health was a factor.) They conduct a distinctly unnerving interview with Cooper behind glass, where a slowed-down, deeper demonic voice tries to imitate the “normal” Cooper but can’t quite get it right, repeating phrases and pausing oddly. “I never really left home, Gordon.” The FBI agents are deeply confused, but concluded something’s terribly wrong with Cooper. This ominous, unnerving scene might be the best one in the new season so far.

Outside the prison, in a heavily blue-tinted scene, Albert confesses that 25 years ago, another long-missing FBI agent named Philip Jeffries — played by David Bowie in the movie — called him up and asked for some information to pass along to Cooper: “Who our man was in Columbia. A week later, that man was killed.” Cole is deeply disturbed by Albert breaching this trust. Cole asks if Albert understands what’s going on. Albert answers, “blue rose” — the FBI’s code phrase for a case that involves the supernatural or otherworldly.

“It doesn’t get any bluer,” Cole agrees. He concludes they need one certain person to take a look at Cooper. “Do you still know where she lives?”

“I know where she drinks,” Albert answers.

Throughout the first two seasons, Cooper dictated notes and instructions into a handheld tape recorder, addressed to “Diane.” While some fan speculated she was imaginary, he would send her requests and his requests arrived in the mail, suggesting she was someone in the FBI. Will we meet Diane next week?

ADDENDA: Kathy Griffin will hold a press conference about “the bullying from the Trump family she has endured.”

Yes, go ahead and play the victim card after depicting the beheading of the president and posing like ISIS.