Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

Lots to cover this week: Trump’s oddly anti-climactic 4th of July extravaganza, the continuing protests against his concentration camps, the post-debate polls of the race for the Democratic nomination, the increasingly bizarre saga of the census citizenship-question case, and a few other things. I have a book to recommend, and I’ll close with the national anthem played by the Device Orchestra on seven credit card machines.

None of those stories seemed to demand its own article, though, so everything is in the weekly summary this week. It should appear around 11 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The Supreme Court term ended with two bombshells: the gerrymandering and census cases. John Roberts wrote both opinions. The gist: Roberts is still on board with the partisan Republican minority-rule plan, but there are levels of bad faith even he is not willing to tolerate from this administration. Meanwhile, Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Alito continue to be Trump rubber stamps, holding that the courts are obligated to defer to the executive branch’s judgments (at least until a Democrat gets elected).

The first round of Democratic debates happened. I thought the 20 candidates collectively made a good showing, and several individual candidates accomplished what they came to do. Meanwhile, Republican dirty tricks have started against both Biden and Harris.

Mistreatment of families on our southern border stayed in the public consciousness. Congress passed the Senate’s version of humanitarian relief rather than the House’s. Courts continue to block Trump’s “emergency” diversion of funds to build his wall.

This week’s first featured article will be my reaction to the debates. That should be out between 8 and 9 EDT. I’m still trying to put together a Supreme Court article, but I still have a lot of work to do and don’t know when it will be out. Whenever it does appear, the weekly summary should show up an hour or so later.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Apparently we came within ten minutes of war with Iran last week. But John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are still Trump’s top foreign policy advisers, so maybe this week.

The week’s biggest talking-head argument, though, was about whether AOC should have called Trump’s immigrant detainment centers “concentration camps”. For a while it looked like we were going to do the usual thing: get distracted by the Right’s bad-faith outrage and lose track of the original issue. But as the week wore on, the mainstream media started paying some real attention to the conditions in those camps. Call them whatever you want, but don’t stop paying attention to them. By any name, they are a national disgrace.

The featured post this week will try to organize what we learned about the camps this week. It’s called “Concentrating on the Border”, and it should be out around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary covers the near-miss with Iran, the launch of Trump’s re-election campaign, the latest sexual assault charge against the President of the United States, Jon Stewart’s well-deserved attack on Mitch McConnell, the slavery reparations debate, and a few other things. It should be out between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So poof! Last week’s trade war against Mexico is over, at least for the time being. The new crisis is with Iran: Did they attack oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman? Will anyone believe us if we say they did? What will we do about it and why? In the reality-TV presidency, each week needs its cliffhanger.

But I decided that the featured post needed to be about something that isn’t part of the Trump Show, at least not directly. So I call your attention to the speech Bernie Sanders gave this week defining what he means by socialism and explaining why he thinks we need it. That post “Socialism: What’s in a word?” is about not just Sanders’ speech, but the larger context in which other candidates may agree with Sanders on specific programs but still not want to talk about socialism. Why do either Sanders or his rivals care about this label, so that Bernie wants to claim it and all the other candidates want to avoid it?

That should be out between 9 and 10 EDT.

The weekly summary starts out talking about the most recent examples of Trump administration lawlessness: He says he would accept the help of foreign governments in the 2020 campaign, and Kellyanne Conway will continue violating the Hatch Act without consequences. From there it will cover the Mexico deal, such as it is; what we know about the Iran situation; the demonstrations in Hong Kong; the upcoming Democratic debate; and a few other things, before closing with something I haven’t found yet.

Oh, and I went to an impeachment rally in Boston Saturday. I don’t think this is going to happen without people in the streets.

The summary should be out noonish, or maybe a little later.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Remember the trade war with Mexico? Never mind; that’s over now. Until Trump decides it’s on again.

So what else happened this week? The announcement of a Straight Pride Parade for later this summer in Boston stoked a lot of outrage, which was probably the whole point. Mission accomplished, trolling accomplishment unlocked.

Joe Biden gave in to pressure and reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funds from paying for abortions. Biden in general had a bad week and the polls are getting closer, as they were bound to eventually. Trump went to Europe and came back with only the usual amount of embarrassment for the United States, so I guess I’m relieved. He didn’t expose himself to the Queen or anything, so we should all be happy with his behavior.

The weekly summary will talk about all that stuff and a bunch more, including closing with a song from the newly anointed Tony-winning musical Hadestown. I expect that to be out between noon and 1 EDT. (I’m back home in the Eastern Time Zone. Once again I can look at clocks without mentally adjusting for what the time is “really”.)

But before then, probably before 9 EDT, I’ll put out the featured post, “We need hope, not optimism”. I keep running into people who want me to tell them how this is all going to come out: impeachment, 2020, climate change, and so on. Are we all doomed? Do we fix it? What happens? In other words, they are looking for somebody who can decide the optimist vs. pessimist argument that’s going on in their heads.

The point of the post isn’t just I can’t do that job, but that it’s the wrong discussion to be having. What we need now isn’t optimism, it’s hope. That’s a subtle but important distinction I picked up during my writing and speaking about religion, where hope is a central topic. We seldom talk about the difference in the secular world, but we should: A person worried about optimism studies the polls and listens to panels of pundits speculate about what’s going to happen. A hopeful person goes out and does stuff to try to make the future, not predict it.

Don’t worry about optimism; the future will come soon enough and then we’ll all see. Try to be hopeful.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Surprise! There’s a new trade war! This one is with Mexico, and Trump says it will last until the Mexicans solve his border problem.

We also had another mass shooting, but no one is even pretending this will lead to any action on guns.

Robert Mueller made his first public statement since … I’m not sure. Probably since he solved Cain-and-Abel case. Liberals reacted with disappointment, because all he did was repeat what he said in his report. Conservatives were outraged, because how could he say these terrible things they’d never heard before? Wasn’t he directly contradicting what AG Barr has been saying about Mueller’s investigation and everything Fox News has reported about it? How can he do that? Anyway, saying out loud the stuff that he wrote appears to have moved the public discussion towards impeachment.

Missouri’s last abortion clinic can stay open until at least tomorrow, so no worries there. Evidence emerged that the proposed citizenship question for the census is indeed part of a Republican scheme related to gerrymandering. (But will the Supreme Court care?) Jared Kushner’s Middle East Peace Plan is almost ready to announce. It’s the result of intense discussions with the Israeli government and more-or-less complete ignorance of anything the Palestinians want, but I’m sure that won’t be a problem.

All that will get covered in the weekly summary, which I’m hoping to put out by noon EDT. (I’ve made it back to the Central Time Zone this week, which is so close to Eastern it’s hardly worth mentioning.)

But the featured post doesn’t elaborate on any of that. Instead, I’m going back to Trump’s repetition of his self-description as a “stable genius” and trying to imagine how he justifies that in his own mind. True, he’s not a Rhodes scholar like Bill Clinton or a Harvard professor like Elizabeth Warren. He doesn’t speak a bunch of languages like Pete Buttigieg, and he doesn’t possess either the verbal skills of Barack Obama or the engineering chops of Jimmy Carter. But maybe those are just pointy-headed-liberal-elite notions of the signs of genius. Maybe when Trump looks in the mirror he sees a different kind of intelligence entirely.

I took a clue from a comment Trump made in one of his debates with Hillary Clinton. When she suggested he didn’t release his tax returns because they would show he had managed to avoid paying taxes, he said, “That makes me smart.” Once I realized that tax evasion is smart, I looked at Trump’s life and found all kinds of similar evidence of intelligence, which I pulled together into a piece called “What makes Donald Trump so smart?” That should be out before 9 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s another Sift from the Mountain Time Zone (Yellowstone today), so again I’ll be struggling to get posts out somewhere near their usual time.

This week most of the buzz was about impeachment, with more and more Democrats coming out for it and Speaker Pelosi still holding the line against it. This was often presented by the news networks as an internal struggle, but it doesn’t seem as battle-like to me: I think Pelosi wants to end up at impeachment too, but she wants to get there by a less direct route. I’ll discuss that in the featured post “Two Paths to Impeachment”, which should be out around 9 or 10 EDT (7 or 8 MDT).

There’s no lack of other stuff to talk about. Theresa May is resigning (effective June 7) as prime minister of the UK, having failed to resolve the contradictions inherent in Brexit. (A narrow majority voted for “Leave” over “Remain”, but there’s never been a majority for any particular leaving plan.) Trump stomped out of a meeting with Pelosi and Schumer that was supposed to be about infrastructure, because (unlike Nixon or Clinton) he can’t work with Congress while it investigates him. Trump again used emergency powers in an autocratic way (to sell arms to the Saudis this time). Once again, the “emergency” isn’t some unforeseen external development that requires a quick response, it’s that Congress won’t do what he wants.

Bill Barr has been deputized to support Trump’s conspiracy theory about the Russia investigation arising from “treason” at the FBI and possibly elsewhere in the intelligence community. Trump has given him power to review and declassify any information that will make that case (and presumably leave classified any information that refutes it). Julian Assange’s indictment under the Espionage Act has journalists worried.

The weekly summary will discuss all that, before closing with an entertaining piece about recreating the beers of the ancient world. I’m hoping to get that out by 1 EDT (11 MDT).

The Monday Morning Teaser

Much to cover today. I suspect the Sift will run a bit late this morning, because I’m in the Mountain Time Zone (just outside of Glacier National Park). On the other hand, my body is still on Eastern Time, so maybe it will all even out.

Today’s featured post, “The Weakness of America First” will link two big stories that are usually discussed separately: the trade war with China and the prospects of a shooting war with Iran. In both cases, President Obama had a multi-lateral approach in place, which Trump has junked in favor of one-on-one pressure, so far without any positive results. I’ll argue that not only is a go-it-alone approach fundamentally weaker, but that a pure self-interest pitch abandons the persuasive moral force of a policy based on a principled vision of a world order. Imagine being a citizen of Iran or China: Obama wanted your country to become a responsible member of the community of nations, while Trump just wants to push you around.

That should be out around 9 EDT (7 MDT) or so.

The biggest news these last two weeks has been Alabama’s abortion ban, which is the most outrageous of a series of red-state attempts to force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade. If you’re an Alabama man who wants to make sure his genes propagate into the next generation, rape has become a viable strategy.

Two other things shouldn’t get pushed out of our attention, though: A UN assessment of global biological diversity says that a million species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. And Trump’s recent moves in his struggle with Congress greatly increase his threat to American democracy.

That’s depressing enough to call for an optimistic closing: Finland is educating its people on how to spot fake news, and it seems to be working. Those will all be in the weekly summary, which I’ll predict to appear around 1 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m hoping to start driving west this afternoon, so I’ll try to accelerate the usual Monday schedule a little.

The featured post this week is “What should ‘electable’ mean?” Democrats all want a nominee who can beat Trump, but a lot of “electability” talk seems misguided to me. I don’t believe electability corresponds to a demographic profile, a position on the progressive/moderate spectrum, or even (at this point) a big lead in head-to-head polls against Trump. I think it’s pretty clear what Trump’s 2020 campaign will look like. What skills and background would best equip a Democrat to counter it?

That post should be up before 9 EDT.

The weekly summary will start with Bill Barr, Robert Mueller, and the House Judiciary Committee. Then it moves on to the various foreign-policy stories: China, North Korea, Venezuela. A number of short notes follow, before I close with a video fixing some misconceptions about Cinco de Mayo, which was yesterday. I’m hoping to put that out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

No sooner do I say that removing Trump needs to be the voters responsibility than he starts acting in a way that violates my impeachment standards again: Placing himself and his administration above congressional oversight.

But first, I want to talk about something else: A WaPo columnist’s critique of Senator Warren’s free-college plan, and the question it brings up: Is liberalism fundamentally about helping the poor, or about re-shaping the economy so that people don’t become poor? That’s the subject of “Charity Liberalism and Justice Liberalism”, which should be out shortly.

I still haven’t decided whether to break impeachment talk off into its own post or include it in the weekly summary. The summary will also include the census citizenship-question issue, 2020 Democrats, and a few other things, before closing with a real-life fantasy of having one golden moment in your life. That should be out between noon and 1 EDT.