❝ In his new article, “Made in the U.S.D.A.,” Michael Lewis looks at the Department of Agriculture — another federal agency whose name belies its true function. No, it does not primarily pay farmers to grow or not grow crops. The vast majority of its budget — in 2016, $110 billion of its $164 billion — goes to feed impoverished Americans: mostly schoolchildren, pregnant women, veterans, and retirees. Lewis focuses on four of the government’s former employees, many of whom have been displaced by absurdly boneheaded Trump apparatchiks. (In the U.S.D.A., these include a country-club attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company.) What most of the former career public servants have in common is that, although they grew up in strained circumstances, their families survived and flourished because of various forms of federal aid. To show their gratitude, they have devoted their lives to helping the less privileged fight their way out of poverty. What comes across in Lewis’s account is their absolute decency.

❝ If the president’s buffoonery has distracted you from the true, devastating — and lasting — damage he is doing to our country, Lewis’s article is a must-read. Perhaps the most celebrated journalist currently working, he goes straight to the heart of the matter: America is now run by people whose only watchword is greed. They may want to rethink that approach, if only out of grim self-interest…

Read this and weep for a benighted land. Darkness has fallen over the prospect of future accomplishments until – and unless – women and men of good will take control of the political instruments remaining in the death-grip of petty bureaucrats. Those whose concept of self-interest has never expanded beyond self. Those whose only interest in evaluating corruption is how they may benefit themselves from the same corruption – when it’s “their” turn.