Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

A few weeks ago, John Roberts defended the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, claiming “Simply because people disagree with opinions, is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”

It’s noteworthy that Roberts feels the Court’s legitimacy needs defending, but the reasons it needs defending aren’t just that its recent decisions are unpopular. The public has started looking at the justices as politicians with agendas, because that’s what are. I’ll discuss that in this week’s featured post, which is currently titled “The Court’s problems run deeper than Roe.” It should post between 9 and 10 EDT.

The weekly summary covers Donald Trump’s very bad week, which I refuse to devote another featured post to. Also his buddy Vladimir Putin’s doubling down on his Ukraine gamble. (An interesting part of that note: the bizarre take on that war that conservative American media is putting out.) Then we have hurricanes, digging deeper into the fly-refugees-to-Martha’s-Vineyard episode, unrest in Iran, and a few other things, before closing with a Rodgers and Hammerstein interpretation of Rosh Hashanah. I’ll try to get that out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Usually when I take a week off, all hell breaks loose. This time, though, it looks like the only thing that happened was that some English woman died. I didn’t catch the details, but you probably already heard. I hope her family is OK.

Actually, though, there were a few developments: Ukraine suddenly started recapturing territory from the Russians, producing hard-to-evaluate speculation that the Russian army might be collapsing. The new omicron-targeting vaccine was released, and I already got the shot. (You should too.) Republicans keep digging themselves a deeper hole for the fall elections by nominating extreme MAGA candidates and by doubling down on their unpopular ban-abortion strategy. And DeSantis flew a bunch of Venezuelan refugees up to Martha’s Vineyard, for reasons that only make sense inside the nativist echo chamber.

But I’m going to focus on something else: the failure of two big Trump-vindication vehicles — his sprawling lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and anybody who he ever imagined wronged him, and the much-trumpeted Durham investigation. The lawsuit was dismissed (with considerable flair) and Durham’s grand jury has expired without producing any of the high-profile indictments Trump promised. (No “crime of the century” or “high treason”.)

To me, the interesting thing about these two failures is how little they matter to the MAGA faithful. Once, they were going to provide the ultimate comeuppance to Trump’s enemies and critics. But now … oh, never mind. In retrospect, the point was never to accomplish their stated goals, it was to keep the contributions coming in from Trump’s cultists. In that world, it’s important that victory always be imminent, not that any particular battle ever comes out the way it was supposed to.

That grifting pattern struck a chord in my memory: Jesus’ second coming. Specific predictions keep failing, but it’s always just about to happen — so you should send in more money. I think Trump keeps getting away with this because he’s mostly exploiting the same people. That’s the subject of “How the Trump Grift Works”, which should be out before 10 EDT.

The weekly summary — with zero British monarchy coverage — might be delayed a little bit, but should be out before 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week the hole Donald Trump is in got deeper. And as he so often does, he did a lot of the digging himself. In his motion for a Trump-appointed judge to put an independent special master between the Department of Justice and the documents the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago under a search warrant, Trump’s lawyers included so much disinformation and outright falsehood that DoJ felt obligated to respond with a full history of their attempts to recover Trump’s stolen documents. The filing ended with an evidence photo of clearly labeled secret and top-secret documents spread across the floor in Mar-a-Lago and sitting next to one of the flimsy bankers’ boxes where these documents had been stored.

The photo was a holy-shit moment for me and just about anybody else who has ever had a security clearance. There’s no nuance here, no argument to be had about where to draw the line between legal and illegal: He knew he had the documents. He knew he had no right to them. And he lied to the government to keep them. One of the TV talking heads appropriately compared the situation to a drug bust: “If they find the heroin in your basement, you’re in trouble.”

But this week’s two featured posts aren’t about that. In “Fascist is a description, not an insult”, I talk about President Biden’s decision to publicly push back against the anti-democracy trends in the GOP, including labeling the MAGA Republicans as “semi-fascist”.

I started applying the F-word to Trump in 2015. At the time, I felt an obligation to define what I meant and why I thought the word applied, so that it wouldn’t just be another insult to throw at someone I didn’t like. Seven years later, I stand by my definition and my decision to call Trump a fascist. That article should be out shortly.

The second featured post doesn’t have a title yet, but it concerns the politics of abortion. The big shift that has happened after Dobbs is that Democrats have taken what I call the “advantage of fantasy” away from Republicans. The hypothetical cases at the center of the debate these days are ones that favor abortion rights. (What if your 12-year-old gets pregnant from a rape?) Sooner or later, Republicans will try to take that advantage back. (What if some perfectly healthy woman wants to abort a perfectly healthy fetus moments before birth?) How should the argument go then?

That still needs work, so don’t expect to see it before 11 EDT.

That leaves a lot for the weekly summary to cover: the Trump stuff, the water problem in Jackson, CNN’s apparent desire to move to the right, a biography of a great American you probably haven’t heard of, and a few other things. And it’s not just Labor Day, it’s Labor Day falling on 9-5, which means we have to hear from Dolly Parton.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week continued the contrast between the parties that I wrote about last week. You could focus on President Biden fulfilling one of his campaign promises by cancelling a portion of the outstanding student debt, or you could watch Republicans struggle to defend the increasingly indefensible legal position Donald Trump finds himself in.

I’m making a choice to stay positive and focused on reality rather than what-ifs: Biden’s debt forgiveness program is an actual piece of governance. Trump’s legal jeopardy is a bright shiny object that it’s easy to obsess over. Every day produces a few new details that feed new rounds of speculation, but the legal gears are turning now and they will grind out something without our constant attention.

I don’t mean you should ignore Trump and the wild gyrations of his defenders, but watch it from a distance. Check in once or twice a week, not several times a day.

So anyway, this week’s featured post puts a context around the Republican attempt to raise outrage against Biden and the beneficiaries of his student-debt policy: Plutocracy survives by pitting working people against each other. But young adults have been put in a difficult position by government policies, and a little debt cancellation is the least we can do. “The Return of the Bitter Politics of Envy” should be out shortly.

The weekly summary will catch you up on the Mar-a-Lago search controversy, which (as I said) I recommend viewing from a distance rather than analyzing each new detail. Also, a memo from the Barr Justice Department sheds some light on why Trump was never indicted for obstruction.

In other news, NASA is testing out a rocket that could send people back to the Moon. The Ukraine War is six months old, and we still don’t know where it’s going. A dark-money group gets $1.6 billion from one donor. And a few other things. The summary should be out noonish, EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

As Lloyd Bridges says in Airplane, “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” After taking last week off, I now have the whole Mar-a-Lago FBI search controversy to cover, together with the capstone of President Biden’s legislative agenda, the Inflation Reduction Act.

Those two stories make interesting bookends, because they show what each party has become. Democrats are focused on passing laws that improve people’s lives and safeguard their future. Republicans’ top priority is protecting Donald Trump against any form of accountability, no matter what he has done or how absurd his defenses are. I’ll make that case in “Governing Party vs. Personality Cult”, which should be out by 10 or so EDT.

That leaves a lot for the weekly summary to cover: Republicans candidates are doubling down on unpopular positions, and voters are starting to notice. The pandemic might be letting up again. The beginning of the school year highlights right-wing meddling with public education. The one-year anniversary of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is coming up. Women appear to be raising their dating standards. And a few other things have been happening. The summary should appear between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Two big themes dominated last week: Biden got things done, and punishments were handed out to wrong-doers.

Yesterday, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which may pale in comparison to the Build Back Better plan the President originally proposed, but is a big deal all the same. The House is expected to follow suit, and so finally Congress is doing something to fight climate change. The drama is no longer centered on executive orders and whether the Supreme Court will sustain them. The third branch of government is weighing in.

This would not be happening if Biden had not won in 2020, or if Georgia hadn’t sent two Democrats to the Senate in 2021. So if you’re tempted not to vote in the fall because elections never make any real difference, think again.

In addition, Republicans relented and let the PACT Act pass, so veterans affected by toxic fumes from burn pits will get their health care paid for. And this is on top of the CHIPS Act that passed last week, not to mention the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed earlier in Biden’s presidency.

It hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been everything we wanted or the country needed, but the steamship of American government is finally pointed in the right direction and beginning to chug. We need to vote in November so that it doesn’t stall again.

The week’s other theme was punishment. A jury told Alex Jones to pay nearly $50 million to two parents of a Sandy Hook victim, and an NFL arbitrator handed Deshaun Watson a six-game suspension. I found the Jones verdict satisfying (assuming it gets enforced) and the Watson ruling frustrating. That raised some interesting issues about punishment, which I’ll discuss in this week’s featured post “What’s the Point of Punishing Trump?”. That should be out around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will discuss legislation, the stunning victory for abortion rights in Kansas, the weirdness of the late-pandemic economy, and a few other things, before closing by celebrating a voice that could make a grocery list sound interesting. I’ll try to get that out a little after noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

When you consider how much power the Constitution theoretically gives Congress, it’s amazing how seldom that body is the focus of our national political conversation. When we do talk about Congress, it’s usually because Congress is investigating somebody else (as in the 1-6 hearings) or because it’s taking some symbolic vote that won’t actually change anything (like all the progressive legislation that gets through the House but predictably dies in the Senate).

This week, though, the focus was on Congress legislating, believe it or not. The CHIPs bill passed. Joe Manchin finally agreed to a climate reconciliation bill, which now is all lined up to pass (assuming Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t torpedo it). And a bill that looked like a slam dunk, the PACT Act to provide healthcare to veterans suffering the effects of toxic burn pit fumes, unexpectedly got blocked by Republicans in the Senate — apparently as a temper tantrum about the Manchin-Schumer deal. That was a huge self-inflicted wound on the GOP, and I think the pressure to reverse it will be irresistible once the August recess ends.

The opportunity to focus on meaningful legislation is so novel that I have to make that the featured post this week. “A Week When Congress Mattered” should appear around 10 or so EDT.

The weekly summary will also cover tomorrow’s primaries, including the referendum on abortion in Kansas. Also, why I think the newly announced centrist Forward Party is doomed. With the 1-6 Committee in recess, attention has shifted to the DoJ’s investigation, which might be aiming higher than it has sometimes appeared. WNBA star Britteny Griner is still on trial in Russia, and NBA legend Bill Russell died at the age of 89. How the Right’s tactics for avoiding the unfortunate results of their abortion policies resemble their tactics for avoiding the unfortunate results of their gun policy. Plus a few other things. I’ll aim to get that out around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Thursday was the final 1-6 Committee hearing of the summer. The weekly summary will link to a complete video and transcript, plus summarizing the main points.

I thought this was a good time to take a step back and reflect on the larger picture. In particular, I wanted to answer the objection that the hearings are “one-sided”, because no one on the committee is representing Trump. I summarize that objection’s flaw in the featured post “Trump doesn’t have a side of the 1-6 story”, which should be out shortly.

From the very beginning, the effort of Trump and his allies hasn’t been to tell his side of the 1-6 story, but to prevent any discussion of the incident at all. Mitch McConnell blocked the proposal for a bipartisan commission, and Kevin McCarthy pulled his nominees off the House committee in an attempt to discredit it. Fox News has been refusing to air the hearings. Many of Trump’s closest allies have refused to testify, and Steven Bannon seems ready to go to jail rather than tell his “side” of the story.

People who complain about not hearing Trump’s “side” during the hearings should instead be asking Trump what his side is.

The weekly summary will also discuss the further response to the Dobbs decision, the bizarre speeches at the Young Fascists Turning Point USA conference this weekend, the House’s attempt to codify rights before the Supreme Court takes them away, the European heat wave, and a few other things. It should be out a little before noon EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week we were all talking about a girl whose name none of us know: the pregnant 10-year-old who was denied an abortion in Ohio and had to go to Indiana. Maybe years from now she’ll decide to tell her story, but until then I hope we never know her name.

She was significant because she became a symbol of the fact that abortion decisions are not as simple as the Mike Pences and Kristi Noems would have you believe. Each story of a woman or girl who is pregnant but doesn’t want to become a mother is unique. Any one-size-fits-all decision made by a legislature is going to lead to outcomes we can all recognize as wrong — like forcing a 10-year-old to carry her rapist’s baby.

The aspect of the story most interesting to me, though, was watching how right-wing media handled the story, because the girl’s existence called into question one of the false assumptions central to the right-wing narrative: Right and Wrong are simple concepts, and it’s easy to draw the line between them.

For that reason, the story had to be short-circuited somehow: swept under the rug, denied, or diverted into some other story. That’s what I examine in the featured post “No Victims Allowed”, which should be out shortly.

The weekly summary will cover new developments in the 1-6 hearings and related investigations, the new Covid surge, the Uvalde shooting report, the continuing aftershocks of the Court’s reversal of Roe, and a few other things, before closing with some of the most spectacular photos ever, courtesy of the James Webb space telescope. That should be out noonish, EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s been another week with too much news: the Highland Park shooting; the Abe assassination; Boris Johnson resigning, sort of; wondering what Pat Cipollone told the 1-6 Committee; Georgia handing out subpoenas to Trump’s people; states racing to take away women’s rights, now that they’re allowed to; a surprisingly good June jobs report; and probably a bunch of stuff I’ve forgotten.

I’ll do my best to cover it in the weekly summary. This week’s featured post is short: I use the Highland Park shooting as an example of how our inability to enforce sensible rules makes us less free. Yes, you can easily walk into a store and buy an AR-15. But what you can’t do is take your kids to a Fourth of July parade without regularly glancing up at the rooftops and planning your escape route in case all hell breaks loose. That’s not freedom.

The featured post should be out shortly. The weekly summary should take until noon or so EDT.