Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

I got a late start this morning, so everything is likely to show up later in the day than usual.

The big news this week is the debt-ceiling deal, but it’s still too soon to say whether Congress will pass it without major changes, or at all. The weekly summary will discuss what we know and the deal’s prospects.

There’s also another Trump indictment looming. The special counsel’s investigation of the Mar-a-Lago classified documents seems to be winding up, and the possible charges are looking more serious than originally expected. Meanwhile, the leader of the Oath Keepers got sentenced to 18 years in prison for the seditious conspiracy he participated in on January 6. The open question is whether Jack Smith can trace that conspiracy all the way up to Trump.

Ron DeSantis is officially a presidential candidate now. He announced his candidacy on Twitter in an interview with Elon Musk. It’s a curious choice and the event was embarrassingly glitchy. Those two seem to me to deserve each other.

Ken Paxton got impeached. Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan got re-elected. Tina Turner died, and a bunch of other things happened that I’ll cover in the weekly summary. I hope to get that out by 1 EDT.

But the featured post isn’t about any of that. One of the head-shaking facets of our political system — which the DeSantis announcement and the debt-ceiling deal bring into focus — is that many of our most serious problems, the ones that have the biggest impact on Americans’ lives, aren’t being discussed at all.

This week’s featured post is the first of what I hope will be a series on these neglected issues. It will focus on the decline in Americans’ life expectancy over the last few years, and the decades-long trend of American life expectancy falling behind that of comparable countries. We often tell this story in terms of individual moral failure — bad diet, lack of exercise, etc. — but each of the major factors is rooted in political decisions that could be reversed, if we had the political will to do so.

I’ll try to get that out by 10.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So here we are, watching closed doors while Biden and McCarthy negotiate behind those doors over how much ransom Biden will pay to avoid a global economic catastrophe. It’s the kind of news situation I hate: I obviously have to cover it, but I don’t actually know anything I can tell you.

So there’s that. There’s another round of authoritarian legislation being passed in red states. House Republicans are protecting George Santos, who is under indictment. Rudy Giuliani had a bad week. It looks like Georgia’s Trump indictment will drop in August. Ukraine will get F-16s.

But the featured posts aren’t about any of that. John Durham’s long-awaited report trying to discredit the Trump/Russia investigations came out, marking the end of one of the biggest wastes of time and money in Department of Justice history. It’s hard to know exactly what to say about the Durham investigation, because its whole point was to distract us from the reality of the Trump/Russia scandal. So doing an involved critique of Durham’s report is just taking the bait.

Instead, I went back to the original questions I wanted the Mueller investigation to answer, and notice that they’re still unanswered: Why did the 2016 Trump campaign have so many contacts with Russians? And why, when Trump’s people were asked about their Russian connections, did almost all of them lie? After all this time, we can speculate, but we still don’t know. That post “Summing Up at the End of the Trump/Russia Investigations”, is more-or-less done and should post soon.

The second featured post isn’t really about the news at all. It’s a meta post about a topic that keeps coming up for me, and probably comes up for you too: how to evaluate the sources you run across on social media.

As you might expect, I run into this question fairly often, and have developed a standard technique for answering it, which I’ve never shared in so many words. “How I evaluate sources” should post before 10 EDT.

The weekly summary has the debt ceiling and all that other stuff to cover. I’ll try to get it out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

One measure of how busy a week has been is how distant Tuesday’s news seems by the next Monday. Last Tuesday is when the E. Jean Carroll verdict was announced: The jury refused to say definitively that Trump had raped Carroll, but it did rule that he sexually assaulted her and then maliciously lied about her when she went public.

Seems like a while ago, doesn’t it?

Immediately after the verdict, this conventional wisdom seemed to be everywhere: Satisfying as it is to see that Trump’s lies don’t fly in a court of law, the verdict won’t actually mean anything politically. If anything, Trump’s personality cult will just double down on the Deep-State-persecution narrative and support him more than ever.

In this week’s first featured post, I’m going to challenge that view. The Carroll verdict might matter, even to dyed-in-the-wool Trumpists. But if you’re waiting for one of them to announce their re-evaluation of Trump on television, you’ll wait in vain. That’s not how sea changes happen on the Right. But they do happen sometimes. So in “Why the Carroll Verdict Might Matter”, I’ll describe how conservatives actually change their minds, and what you should be listening for. That’s ready to go and should be out shortly.

The second featured post concerns the Trump town hall that CNN aired Wednesday. I’ll let other people correct all the lies Trump told and lament how he mistreated the “nasty” moderator. (It’s amazing how many Trump lines sound like they could come from Gollum. Somebody needs to redub Trump clips with Gollum’s voice.) In “Normalizing Trump normalizes political violence” I’ll focus on his unapologetic embrace of January 6. Can we really debate a violent attempt to overturn an election as if it were an ordinary political issue? That should be out between 10 and 11 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover the end of Title 42 on the southern border, the start of Ukraine’s spring offensive, Turkey’s election, Elon bending his knee to Erdogan’s demands for censorship, and a few other things. That should appear sometime around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

As we rush ever closer towards a debt-ceiling disaster, I’ll continue my series on the national debt with “Does the US have a spending problem?” That should be out maybe around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will catch you up on the latest Clarence Thomas scandals, which have turned into a regular feature of a typical week’s news. The various cases against Trump have continued to advance, with the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit going to the jury this week, and eight of the fake Georgia electors from 2020 taking immunity deals from the Fulton County DA. Proud Boy leaders were convicted of seditious conspiracy for January 6. There was another mass shooting and a mass homicide-by-car in Texas. A new El Nino cycle points to new global temperature records later this year. And a few other things happened. That should be out around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Most of the news that attracted my attention this week happened at the state level, where Republican majorities and supermajorities have gotten increasingly extreme. Separately, these are stories that might travel below your radar (like the Texas Senate passing a bill to eliminate tenure in the state universities), so I’ve pulled several of them together in a piece I’m calling “Laboratories of Autocracy”. Among other things, the post will explain why you need to learn the German word gleichschaltung. That should be out maybe around 10 EDT.

In another era, President Biden announcing his reelection bid would be the week’s lead story. But there are continuing scandals at the Supreme Court, everybody’s still speculating about the real reason Tucker Carlson was fired, and a civil trial just started that will hang on whether a jury believes the previous president committed rape. So Biden gets pushed well down the page. One of the things Biden promised was not to be in our face 24/7 like Trump was (and largely still is). That’s a promise he’s kept, but it must be frustrating not to be able to grab public attention when you really want it.

Oh, and there’s been another mass shooting. We still cover those, don’t we? They haven’t quite reached the dog-bites-man stage yet.

Anyway, I’ll aim to get the weekly summary out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

After about a month on the road, I’m back home and producing the Sift on its usual schedule.

None of the major news stories this week — the Fox/Dominion settlement, the bizarre series of people getting shot for making common mistakes, the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the lower-court ruling banning mifepristone — seemed to me to need an in-depth analysis beyond what’s available in your usual news sources, so this week’s featured post is a more general reflection on driving through the empty places of America.

I grew up in the rural Midwest, so I understand the economic story of why the area was settled in the first place: The Homestead Act, then an economy grew up around the small family farms, and then industry came.

But then industry moved to Mexico or China, and farms don’t require that many people any more. So what’s the future of this place? Why won’t it all turn into endless fields where robot combines are powered by windmill electricity?

Living in a place that you love, but which has no obvious path into the future, might make you paranoid or depressed or resentful. And it more or less has. Maybe there’s a reason the Trump base in rural America seems so insane to the rest of the country.

Anyway, those reflections should appear by 10 EDT or so. The weekly summary will cover the stories I listed above, before closing with the most charming podcast I listened to on the drive. That should post around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Not much happened this week: The FBI caught the guy who leaked all those documents (and Trump supporters rallied around him). The abortion-pill injunction rose through the judicial system, but is still unresolved. The Fox News trial is about to start. Clarence Thomas is even more corrupt than we realized last week. The Justins made a triumphant return to the Tennessee legislature. Idaho outlawed “abortion trafficking”, while the Missouri House tried to defund all the state’s libraries. Alan Bragg sued Jim Jordan in an attempt to stop his interference in the Trump prosecution. Something something something Bud Light. Oh, and we had another mass shooting of teen-agers.

Hardly anything, in other words.

But I decided to take a step back and look at something longer term: Why is all this happening? Yes, it almost all revolves around the Republican Party’s continuing descent into fascism. But why is that happening? Why now? What global trend opened up opportunities for the likes of Trump, Modi, Orban, Netanyahu, et al?

I found two recent essays that look at this question from different directions, but coalesce around this framing: Fascism is an eternal temptation of modern politics. The mystery isn’t why we have to deal with it now, but why we didn’t have to deal with it for so many years after World War II. How did those lessons get lost?

That post still needs work, so it probably won’t show up until 10 or 11 EDT. (I’ve made it back as far as the central time zone, but I’m trying to run on my usual east-coast schedule today.) The weekly summary will cover the other stuff, and appear by about 1 or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Some weeks history seems to be moving faster than usual. A week ago, all anyone could talk about was the Trump indictment, which existed but was still under seal. The drama of his arraignment was still in the future, and it was all the news networks could talk about. In the Sift, I reiterated my usual warning against speculation: We’ll know soon enough what the indictment says; wait for it.

Well, the arraignment and the unsealing of the indictment happened on Tuesday, which seems like a very long time ago. In the meantime,

  • An injunction banning one of the two drugs used in medication abortions is set to take effect Friday, unless appellate courts intervene, or a contradictory injunction from a different judge holds in most of the blue states.
  • The Tennessee legislature responded to popular protests against its inaction on gun violence by ejecting two young Black legislators who took that protest to the floor of the General Assembly — essentially telling the Black voters of Nashville and Memphis that they don’t get their choice of representative. They need to pick again until they settle on someone acceptable to the White Republican supermajority.
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, it turns out, has been taking high-luxury gift vacations from a major Republican donor for decades, and not reporting them as the law demands.
  • And (I almost forgot; it was Tuesday), Wisconsin voters tipped its Supreme Court liberal in a stunning landslide for the usually-closely divided state.

Plus, there’s been some kind of intelligence breach I haven’t even thought about yet, DeSantis is escalating his war against Disney, and Texas Governor Abbott is offering to pardon a guy just convicted of murdering a protester during the George Floyd demonstrations. (I mean, murdering somebody Abbott doesn’t like can’t really be a crime, can it?)

Wait, wasn’t I supposed to talk about Trump? It was just Tuesday.

Anyway, the Trump indictment does get a featured post, which should come out by 9 or 10 EDT (which is 7 or 8 to me, on vacation in Santa Fe). The weekly summary (with lengthy sections on Tennessee and abortion that maybe should have been split off into their own posts) should have everything else, and come out around noon EDT, 10 MDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

There are two things to know about this week’s Sift.

  • It’s not all about Trump.
  • It’s going to run a little later than usual.

I’m not going to talk a lot about the Trump indictment, because there’s not much to know yet. Reportedly, Trump will be arraigned tomorrow, and then the indictment will be unsealed. Until then, nobody really knows what the charges are or why DA Alvin Bragg thinks he can convince a jury to convict. He might have everything nailed down tight, or the case might be shaky. I could speculate, but tomorrow we’ll know. So my inclination is to wait. I’ll analyze the indictment next week.

My head is still stuck in the Nashville school shooting a week ago. And in particular, I’ve been struck by the public anger that is beginning to swell against the pro-NRA politicians who see these massacres and just shrug, like Rep. Tim Burchett from Tennessee, who went viral saying “We’re not going to fix it”, as if mass shootings were a plague from God that defies human intervention.

A few years ago, a mass shooting produced horror and sadness, but also some hope. “Maybe now everyone will see that we need to do something about guns.” But shootings keep happening, so often you’ve probably missed a bunch of them, and we now know that some people will never see. And that has produced a kind of anger I didn’t used to feel in myself or see in others.

So the featured post will be “I’m radicalizing against guns”. It will close with this point: If it really is true that the Second Amendment won’t let us do anything about our gun problem, then the Second Amendment has to be repealed.

That may seem like an impossible dream at this point. But if it’s the only way, then it will eventually happen. I don’t believe America will watch its children be massacred forever.

Anyway, that post will come out late, probably not until nearly noon EDT. The reason is that I’m in Arizona, which is on Mountain Standard Time, which matches Pacific Daylight.

Easterners may not see the weekly summary (which will mention the Trump indictment and chastise people who are taking radical positions based on almost no knowledge) until around 2.

The Monday Morning Teaser

After a long wait, it looks like Trump is about to be indicted for something. It’s not for the worst things he’s done yet, but any indictment, if it happens, would be the beginning of accountability for a long record of lawlessness. Even so, that’s not the main thing I’m writing about this week, because months of speculation means that there’s not much more to be said about a thing that hasn’t happened yet. Give me an indictment to read, and maybe I’ll decide to examine it in more depth.

So what am I writing about this week? Two things:

  • The bizarre federal court in Amarillo that is wired for outrageous conservative lawsuits, and how it might soon issue an injunction banning one of the two main abortion drugs nationwide.
  • How a viral interview started a discussion about the meaning of “woke”.

The first featured post is ready to go and should be out by 9 EST. The second still needs a lot of work, but I predict it gets out by 11.

The weekly summary will discuss the looming Trump indictment, the perils Ron DeSantis faces as his candidacy stops being an idea and starts to become real, the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin, Texas taking over Houston’s schools, and a few other things. Let’s guess it shows up a little after noon.