Friday Longreads

  1. The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama
    In his crystalline April 2015 piece, Tom Junod indicts the Obama Presidency and specifically, its drone program, with a failure uncharacteristic of the former President: foresight. When Junod wrote the following words, he did not know that an oversized cheetos-based growth would be sitting in the Oval Office.

    But here's something simpler, and more human. You have made sure that you will not be the only Lethal President. You have made sure that your successor in the White House will also be a Lethal President, as well as someone somewhere else in the world.

    What if the next Lethal President is not as good and as honorable as you? What if he is actually cruel or bloodthirsty?

    What if he turns out to be — like you, Mr. President — just a man?

  2. Inside Trump's Cruel Campaign Against The USDA's Scientists by Michael Lewis
    Michael Lewis has always been excellent at explaining systems. But excellent, is only the baseline for Vanity Fair. Lewis has an almost uncanny ability to connect, as Malcolm Gladwell put it, 'his characters with their work.' As Lewis explores the unwieldy and deeply moral organisation chart of the US Department of Agriculture, he leaves us with a sense not only of bureaucracy, science, and an almost idealistic commitment to goals, but also sentiment for bureaucrats and the federal government, which is, to say the least, not easy.

    Zaidi marveled at how hard it was for Americans to see the source of their society’s strength. People who came to the United States from other countries had this one advantage: they didn’t take it for granted. “The immigrant journey has a time compression to it,” he said. “Within a generation you’re able to see how the rungs of the ladder of opportunity are laid out in front of you, and you can see the hands that pull you up. You see people pull you up and you say, O.K., I’ve got to do the same thing for other people.

    “I came up that ladder of opportunity, but even I didn’t know the names of the government programs that made up the ladder itself. Growing up, what was obvious to me was the kindness of community members. But government was less visible. You need to work really hard to appreciate it.”

    And who wants to do that?