Noel Francisco, Trump’s Tenth Justice

Cristian Farias

Noel Francisco attending his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for the post of Solicitor General, Washington, D.C., May 10, 2017

The sole client of the solicitor general, the Department of Justice lawyer who represents the federal government before the Supreme Court, is the United States. With Noel Francisco at the helm, Trump’s solicitor general’s office has—to a far greater extent than its modern predecessors—aggressively changed the government’s litigating positions midstream, staked out extreme stances in pending cases where the government is not even a party, and made extravagant requests of the Supreme Court. And in several cases, the Court has acceded to those requests. Assuming Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as Justice Kennedy’s replacement, and with a 5-4 conservative majority on the Court all but locked in, Francisco will be in the driving seat to guide a new era of conservative jurisprudence at the high court.

‘It Feels Like a Derangement’: Menopause, Depression, & Me

Rose George

Vilhelm Hammershøi: Rest, 1905

I took my new boxes of patches, a pump gel of estrogen to top up with on the bad days, my precious testosterone, and went home with hope. It took months, but things stabilized. Now, there is never more than one bad day at a time of these “low moods.” The phrase is belittling. My depression is not simply feeling miserable or glum. I know what that feels like. I know that that can be fixed by fresh air or effort. This depression is dysfunction, derangement. I hate myself so hard. And I miss myself, the woman who didn’t feel like this. On the good days, I am at peace with my age, with what I have done, with who I am, menopausal or not. I delight in what I can do, and when I run, I hurtle headlong down a steep descent with the joy of a child, aged nearly fifty. But on other days, that woman seems like someone else.

What’s the Right Way to Legalize Prostitution?: An Exchange

Barbara G. Brents, reply by Julie Bindel

A sign for the Love Ranch Las Vegas brothel, Crystal, Nevada, October 14, 2015

Brents: The Nevada brothel industry is small, but it is one workable alternative to criminalizing prostitution. Bindel’s conclusions fly in the face of the majority of the evidence we have. If we want to help sex workers, we should support better working conditions.
Bindel: Brents talks the language of workers’ rights, but without backing up the rhetoric with data of her own. In fact, there is extremely low membership in prostitutes’ unions in the legalized regimes of the Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand. Furthermore, labor unions can’t offer what most women want: economic alternatives to prostitution.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and the Tyranny of Language

Francis Wade

A boy writing on a blackboard in Lokichogio, Kenya, 2002

Thirty years after graduating from his missionary-run high school near Nairobi, the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o had gained enough distance to reflect on the lasting effect of colonial education policy in Kenya. “Behind the cannon was the new school,” he wrote in Decolonising the Mind, the 1986 exposition on cultural imperialism in which he examined how the colonial classroom became a tool of psychological conquest in Africa and beyond. “Better than the cannon, it made the conquest permanent,” he wrote. “The cannon forces the body and the school fascinates the soul.”

The Surrealist Eye of Lee Miller

Lucy Scholes

Lee Miller: Nude bent forward (thought to be Noma Rathner), Paris, 1930

Gathered together in the excellent new show “Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain” is a selection of candid snaps both Miller and Man Ray took during their Cornish adventure. Most arresting is Miller’s photograph of an all-but-nude Carrington reclining in the sun, eyes closed, a smoldering cigarette clutched between the fingers of her left hand, with Ernst sitting behind her, his veiny hands clasped over his lover’s bare breasts, his head resting lovingly on hers, one half of his face hidden in a cushion of her thick, curly dark hair. This sudden Surrealist invasion is integral to the story told in the Hepworth exhibition.

Does Literature Help Us Live?

Tim Parks

Illustration showing St. Marcia painting a self-portrait, from De Mulieribus Claris by Giovanni Boccaccio, fifteenth century

Generalization is treacherous, but let’s posit that at the center of most modern storytelling, in particular most literary storytelling, lies the struggling self, or selves, of individuals seeking some kind of definition or stability in a world that appears hostile to such aspirations. In short, at the core of the literary experience, as it is generally construed and promoted, is the pathos of this unequal battle and of a self inevitably saddened—though perhaps galvanized, too, or, in any event, tempered and hardened—by the systematic betrayal of youth’s great expectations.

What Russia Understands about Trump

Michael Weiss

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace during the Helsinki Summit, Finland, July 16, 2018

The notion of Trump in certain precincts of the media as a Manchurian candidate, a Russian asset owned and run by the Kremlin, is ridiculous to Burton Gerber, a thirty-nine-year veteran of the CIA. He says, “Trump is basically a man with low self-esteem, which he has worked against by being a bully and a narcissist… The Russians would never want to recruit him, just continuously have access to him and be able to influence him.” Gerber compares Trump to Harry Hopkins, an architect of the New Deal whom the Soviets cajoled because of his closeness to Roosevelt, rather than to Alger Hiss, whom the KGB actively recruited as a spy within the US government. “If you’ve got someone like Trump, an agent of influence,” he asks, “why would you then try to make him more than what he is? It would be irresponsible from an intelligence point of view.”

In the Review Archives: 1975–1979

The Editors

Billie Holiday

To celebrate The New York Review’s fifty-fifth anniversary, we are featuring one article from each year of the magazine’s publication. Today we survey the end of the 1970s, with Saul Bellow on boredom, Elizabeth Hardwick on Billie Holiday, Simon Leys on Maoist China, Susan Sontag on illness, and Michael Wood on Apocalypse Now.

Flynn, Comey, and Mueller: What Trump Knew and When He Knew It

Murray Waas

Donald Trump with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at a presidential campaign stop in Grand Junction, Colorado, October 18, 2016

In an effort to persuade the American people that the president has done nothing wrong, Trump and his supporters have blamed those they identify as their political adversaries—from President Barack Obama to Jim Comey, and including entire institutions such as the FBI and CIA, and an ill-defined “Deep State.” But the most compelling evidence that the president may have obstructed justice appears to come from his own most senior and loyal aides. The greatest threat to his presidency is not from his enemies, real or perceived, but from his allies within the White House.

Pakistan’s Promised Day?

Rafia Zakaria

A man on his cell phone sitting in front of a poster showing Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which won this past week’s elections, Islamabad, Pakistan, July 28, 2018

Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketer turned playboy turned right-wing politician, swept Pakistan’s elections last week. Pakistanis, drained after the drama of electoral vigils, delayed results, and allegations of rigging and meddling, will likely cleave to the promise of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry. They console themselves by believing that they’ll one day “see that day that has been promised” them, as Faiz’s famous lines go. That they do not have a united vision for this future day seems not to be of Imran Khan’s—or anyone’s—concern.