We’ve known each other a long time, so I think I can be blunt.
Unlike Mr. Pudzer, Mr. Acosta, the dean of the law school at Florida International University, has a record of government service, having been a member of the National Labor Relations Board, the chief of the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Hundreds of Syrian rebels and their American military advisers, backed by American artillery and attack helicopters, have started shutting down the western approaches to the city. There is talk of reinforcing the roughly 900 American troops who are now in the country. Instead of conducting airstrikes and relying on Syrian and Kurdish forces for ground operations, as they have done for months, the Americans are now involved with tanks and troops, a more direct and far riskier role.
The student asked me this question because I had been talking about survivors of Stalin’s terror and their widespread tendency to inflate — whether when describing the height of a hill that had to be climbed or how many people had been shot on a single day. I had expressed great sympathy for the underlying cause and the overarching mission of the exaggerations: These people were trying to remember and convey unimaginable tragedy, which had to be described as greater in scope in every retelling — precisely to maintain its unimaginable quality. Every time the mind had adapted to information and images that had once seemed inconceivable, it required more horror to be impressed.
It may feel like a more urgent problem these days, with proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and each year warmer than the previous one.
In 2015, the number of American prisoners declined more than 2 percent, the largest decrease since 1978. By 2014, the incarceration rate for black men, while still stratospheric, had declined 23 percent from its peak in 2001. Even growing numbers of Republicans were acknowledging the moral and fiscal imperative of shrinking the prison state.
The Pentagon had acknowledged on Friday that it was investigating reports that its airstrikes had caused deaths in Mosul. The next phase of the investigation, military officials said, is likely to take about three weeks.
But it is hardly the only one.
Gathered in Philadelphia for their annual congressional retreat, less than a week after President Trump’s inauguration, lawmakers exulted in the possibilities of total government control, grinning through forums about an aggressive 200-day agenda that began with honoring a central campaign promise: repealing the Affordable Care Act.
A precedent-flouting president who believes that Washington’s usual rules and consequences of politics do not apply to him, Mr. Trump now finds himself shackled by them.