Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

Today is going to be all brief notes without a featured post. The weekly summary should be out around 11 EST. It will review Tuesday’s elections, look forward to this week’s public impeachment hearings, discuss Mike Bloomberg’s (lack of) impact on the Democratic presidential race, reflect on Veterans’ Day, and link to a few other interesting articles.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Impeachment dominated the news these last two weeks. That’s appropriate in the sense that it’s important, but it’s also not the only thing happening. The world continues to be the world, and doesn’t stop to watch the Trump drama play out: California is burning again. We got economic news that can be interpreted as either reassuring or worrisome. Brexit got delayed again, and a new UK election got scheduled. Elizabeth Warren met the challenge to explain how she’ll pay for her healthcare plan, as Tim Ryan and Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the race. Katie Hill’s resignation from Congress raised all sorts of larger issues about sexism and revenge porn. Dahlia Lithwick wrote a deeply personal essay about why she hasn’t been able to bring herself to cover the Supreme Court in the year since the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

So anyway: impeachment. One featured post explains why I think impeachment is necessary, even if you accept the prediction that it will divide the country and leave Trump in office anyway. A more event-oriented view of the impeachment process will be in the weekly summary.

The other featured post is less timely, but does have a current-events hook: I’ve invented a hypothetical Christian denomination to test the notion that Christians’ religious freedom should allow them to ignore discrimination laws: What if some group took Psalm 90:10 — “The days of our years are three score and ten.” — as prescriptive, and its healthcare professionals insisted on their right to discriminate against those over 70?

The impeachment post should be out soon, maybe by 8 EST. The religious freedom post should follow around 11, and the weekly summary by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It hasn’t been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. The impeachment inquiry rolled on, hearing from a series of foreign-service officers about the subordination of America’s policy in Ukraine to Trump’s re-election. The testimony was behind closed doors, but several of the witnesses released their opening statements.

Meanwhile, the White House Chief of Staff virtually confessed, telling the press that military aid to Ukraine was held up so that it could be exchanged for Ukrainian commitment to investigate Democrats. It took a few hours for Mike Mulvaney to realize he’d given the game away, but then he came out and told the press they hadn’t heard him say what he said.

Trump sent Pence to Ankara to negotiate a “ceasefire” that looks a lot like a surrender. Elijah Cummings died. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally negotiated an agreement to leave the EU, but the drama goes on as the October 31 deadline approaches. Nancy Pelosi stood up to Trump in a photo for the ages. The State Department finally cleared Hillary in the notorious email scandal. And a bunch of other stuff happened.

Anyway, there are two featured posts this week, both of which should be out within an hour or so. The first is my projection of where the impeachment debate seems headed: The evidence against Trump is increasingly clear, and the arguments he’s making in court to obstruct the investigation are increasingly bizarre. So it looks to me like it’s going to come down to a pure loyalty argument: Republican judges and senators should ignore the facts and the law and support Trump as a pure power play. I describe that in “The Leader or the Law?”

The second featured post takes a step back from the Syria question to consider something harder: Is there room to be against Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds without embracing “endless war” and American interventions around the world? I try to square my disgust at what’s going on in Syria with my own history of opposing foreign military adventures in “A Liberal View of Intervention”.

The weekly summary covers everything else, before ending with a cute puppy picture. Because we need that sometimes.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s been a week of interesting times, in the Chinese-curse sense of the term.

When I posted last week’s Sift, Trump had announced that American troops in Syria were pulling back from the border zone that Turkey wanted to occupy, apparently abandoning the Kurdish allies who had defeated ISIS under our guidance. Turkey hadn’t moved yet, but an invasion was expected soon.

Since then, Turkey has invaded, the UN Security Council’s condemnation of that invasion was blocked by the odd couple of the US and Russia, Trump made noises about economic sanctions against Turkey but did nothing, the Kurds flipped their alliances and sought protection from the Putin-supported Assad regime, some unknown number of ISIS prisoners escaped to sow new mayhem, and now the remaining US troops in Syria are making a chaotic retreat to avoid getting caught in a Syrian-Turkish crossfire. The only clear winner in all this is Putin. Funny thing; weird Trump administration stories always seem to come back to Putin somehow.

The Trump impeachment story also got more interesting. Our recently fired ambassador to Ukraine defied Trump’s gag order and testified behind closed doors for nine hours. Two of Rudy’s cronies got arrested for channeling Ukrainian (and possibly Russian) money into Republican campaigns, amid tales of plots to manipulate the Ukrainian national gas company to the advantage of Republican donors. Giuliani himself is said to be under investigation by the SDNY, which he used to run. The administration lost a series of court cases, but that didn’t stop the White House Counsel from staking out a maximal Trump-is-above-the-law position in a letter to Congress.

Meanwhile, Trump announced a breakthrough in the China trade war, which so far looks a lot like his “breakthrough” to denuclearize North Korea. The Democrats are about to hold another presidential debate. Another big Brexit deadline is coming up. Poland’s voters endorsed its authoritarian-populist ruling party. California had a series of brownouts and blackouts. The kettle kept boiling in Hong Kong. And … well, you get the idea. The world kept being the world, even while we were all looking in some other direction.

So anyway, there will be two featured posts this week. The first one, out soon, is my answer to Republicans like Lindsey Graham, who have supported Trump in everything else, but are shocked by his betrayal of the Kurds: “Backstabbing the Kurds is just Trump being Trump”. A trust-is-for-suckers theme has run through his entire life, so you can’t really be surprised that the Kurds are joining Trump U students and his three wives on the list of people whose trust he’s abused. As Trump often says about immigrants, you knew he was a snake when you took him in.

The second featured post will focuses on impeachment, and in particular how the Ukraine shakedown gets bigger and bigger the longer Congress investigates. At first we thought it was just a simple phone call, but now it looks like large chunks of the State Department — and possibly Energy Secretary Perry and VP Pence — got pulled into a months-long corrupt scheme. That should be out around 11 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover more of the operational developments in Syria, plus a lot of important stuff that isn’t getting the attention it deserves while we all focus on Syria and impeachment. It should appear between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

LIke everyone else, I had a hard time paying attention to anything but impeachment this week. Not only is that story important, but it’s moving at the speed of TV. (Who imagined a week ago that Trump would be calling for Senator Romney to be “impeached”, which is not even a thing for senators?) So this week’s featured post will update last week’s: “More Answers to Impeachment Objections”.

But that’s not to say nothing else is happening. Prime Minister Johnson is still steaming towards a no-deal Brexit, ignoring Parliament. Trump has given his OK for a Turkish attack on our Kurdish allies in Syria. The administration is cutting the Food Stamp program through executive action. North Korea is making it increasingly clear that it is not bound by whatever understanding Trump imagines that he has with Kim Jong Un. The Supreme Court is getting ready to gut Roe v Wade. The Democratic presidential campaign is continuing: Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, Elizabeth Warren batted away a poorly conceived attempt at a smear, and nobody knows for sure what effect the corruption smear is having on Joe Biden. There are anti-government protests in Iraq and the ones in Hong Kong continue.

In short, the world is not stopping to watch Trump’s impeachment play out.

And oh, they keep publishing books. I finished Samantha Power’s engaging autobiography this week, and I’m in the middle of Rachel Maddow’s history of the oil industry’s baleful influence on democracy and good government.

So anyway, it’s another Monday where I’m running late, so the featured post may not be out before 11. The weekly summary should follow around 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Last week I was several hours ahead of Nancy Pelosi, claiming Monday morning that Democrats really had no choice but to impeach Trump. The Speaker didn’t publicly announce the same conclusion until late in the afternoon, and all the subsequent developments — the release of the Ukraine telephone transcript and the whistleblower complaint, the testimony of the DNI to the House Intelligence Committee, Trump’s blatant attempt to intimidate potential witnesses by calling them “spies” and hinting at their execution, new polls showing a sharp increase in the number of Americans favoring impeachment — have happened in only a week.

Now it’s on, in a way that it wasn’t on last Monday morning. The battle is joined. So this week I want to point out something about how this battle will be fought. On the surface, there will be a procedural struggle: committee hearings, subpoenas, court cases about enforcing the subpoenas, and so on. There will also be a legal/political struggle, as the House (possibly followed by the Senate) wrangles over exactly what happened and whether or not it constitutes an impeachable offense.

But underneath that struggle will be a much less visible one that happens all over the country, in conversations among friends, in arguments on social media, and so on. Because Congress will almost certainly not move without public support, and people will make up their minds one-by-one and two-by-two. So it matters how many of us go to the effort to sort things out and think clearly. It matters how many of us decide to be outspoken, and to try to shape the opinions of the people around us. And it matters how good we are at that task.

With that in mind, the featured post assembles answers to the objections being made to impeachment, whether they are arguments about the facts or about the wisdom of the process. You’re already hearing those points, and it would help the cause if you could respond clearly and sharply. That post should be out between 9 and 10 EDT.

The rest of the week nearly got lost. But the UN met and Greta Thunberg spoke for her generation, calling on adults to take their responsibilities to future generations seriously. Israel struggled to form a government after another close election. Boris Johnson got soundly rebuked by the UK’s Supreme Court, raising questions about whether his government will survive long enough to complete Brexit. The weekly summary will discuss all of that, and then close with an XKCD timeline of the global temperature. That should be out maybe noonish.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Another week where not much happened: Trump’s DNI is breaking the law to prevent Congress from hearing about yet another impeachable offense. Millions of people around the world rallied to demand action on climate change. Trump discussed attacking Iran, but instead sent “defensive” troops to protect the Islamist monarchy of Saudi Arabia, because they “pay cash”. (And does he mean cash to the US arms industry, or to the Trump Organization?) Israel had an election, and once again it looks like Netanyahu is out. The EPA is trying to take away California’s ability to set higher emissions and fuel-economy standards on cars. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

In the featured post, I’ll focus on the illegally suppressed whistleblower complaint, which apparently concerns Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Ukraine into digging up dirt on Joe Biden. After reviewing what we know so far, I’ll pull back to make a larger point: The impeachable offenses aren’t going to stop. There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way Trump views his presidential power, and that wrongness is going to lead to increasingly outrageous abuses of that power. Anybody (like, say, Speaker Pelosi) who thinks we can just go on from here and talk about healthcare is kidding herself.

I’m running a bit late today, so that post may not be out until nearly 11 EDT. The weekly summary will cover all the other stuff I listed, plus some unimportant stuff like the Democratic presidential race, a striking decrease in abortions, and the return of junk health insurance. Let’s predict that for about 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big news this weekend — the drone attack on the Saudi oilfields — is still unfolding: We don’t know how convincing the administration’s attempt to pin the blame on Iran will be, or what kind of response against Iran it might carry out. We don’t know whether the disruption in the world oil market will be a blip or a longer-term shortfall in supply. We don’t know whether there will be further attacks.

As I’ve often said, a weekly one-person blog can’t compete with the major networks on breaking news, so I won’t try.  In the weekly summary I’ll set up the general situation, but leave the up-to-the-minute developments to outlets better equipped to handle them.

The featured post this week will focus on the healthcare debate among Democrats. I will argue that the differences between the candidates are overblown in two ways: All the candidates believe in two sweeping principles (that Republicans deny), and (whoever is president, and even if Democrats win both houses of Congress) the program will need the votes of the most conservative Democrats. So the program that gets passed will look very similar to a program that would be passed under a different president.

That post should be out shortly.

The weekly summary will cover the drone attacks, the rest of the Democratic debate, John Bolton, another weekly dose of corruption and deceit from the Trump administration, and a few other things. I hope to get that out by 11 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week the tragedy led to comedy. Trump’s inability to admit even the most trivial mistake led to “SharpieGate”, and a number of very funny responses.

This week also included the CNN climate forums, where ten Democratic candidates faced questions about climate change. (Wouldn’t it have been nice to include President Trump in that? To hear him ramble and bumble and dodge the questions that Democrats all answered adroitly?) I don’t know whether I expected those sessions to resolve something for me, but what it really did is make me sharpen what I’m looking for in a candidate. That meditation will be this week’s featured post “Looking for President GoodClimate”, which should be out by 10 EDT or so. (Am I dating myself with the “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” reference?) Maybe next week I’ll try to apply my new standards to actual candidates.

The weekly summary will discuss SharpieGate, new examples of Trump administration corruption, the political chaos Boris Johnson has unleashed on the UK, the projects that won’t happen because Trump took the money to build his wall, the upcoming Democratic debates, and a few other things. I’m trying to get that out by noon, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in that deadline.

The Monday Morning Teaser

There’s no featured post this week, just a lot of short and intermediate length notes in the weekly summary. Because of the length of the summary, I’m going to try something new this week and put a table of contents at the top. I haven’t decided whether that needs to be a regular feature or not.

What stood out for me this week was the sheer number of moments when I found myself saying: “That’s just wrong.” So, for example, the EPA is proposing to roll back regulations on methane leaks. The only way that natural gas is better for the environment than coal is if methane leaks are below a certain level, and producers can easily stay well below that level if the government makes them do it. So rolling back those regulations is like saying “Screw the climate; we’re just going to keep pumping out greenhouse gases until we all choke on them.”

It went on: We’re going to throw sick immigrants out of the country so that they can go home to die. Trump is urging his underlings to break the law to get the wall built before the election. The attorney general is very publicly giving the president a $30K kickback. One thing after another.

So anyway, I’m going to talk about that, and about the latest mass shootings, and the hurricane, and Prime Minister Johnson’s maneuvering towards a no-deal Brexit, and a few other things. (I read the FBI inspector general’s report on James Comey so that you don’t have to.) It was a discouraging week in a lot of ways. So I’ll close with a heart-warming video of a diver helping a dolphin untangle itself from a hook and some fishing line.

Look for that to be out, say, by 11 EDT.