Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week, Biden upped the pressure on vaccine refusers, and Republicans freaked out about it. The new-case numbers finally started going down. We marked the 20th anniversary of 9-11. The Justice Department started fighting back against the Texas abortion law. And a big Robert E. Lee statue came down in Richmond.

This week’s featured post, though, backs up a little to address a more general question: Whether or not ordinary people should “do our own research” on the issues of the day. It’s easy to shake your head at the people eating horse paste to guard against Covid and say “Obviously not.” But the issue is actually more nuanced than that. This blog, for instance, is an example of someone doing his own research up to a point. I don’t run my own clinical trials, but if I totally trusted mainstream journalists to turn my attention in the right directions, there’d be no purpose in most of what I do.

So “On Doing Your Own Research” is a bit more sympathetic to the populist view than you might expect. It should appear around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary discusses the developments mentioned in the first paragraph, with particular attention to the legal basis for Biden’s “mandate” order, and for DoJ’s lawsuit against Texas. I’ll also go off on historical tangents about General Lee’s weakness as a strategist, and the similarity of the Thermopylae and Alamo myths. Let’s say that posts around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big news this week was the Supreme Court’s refusal to block Texas’ abortion-banning law. This was a backhanded way to subvert Roe v Wade, and other red states are already moving to copy Texas. There’s a lot to say about this situation — legally, politically, and socially — and there is no shortage of people already writing about it.

With that in mind, I have decided to take this blog’s name literally and do some sifting. Rather than write a long essay of my own, I’m pulling together what other people are saying as concisely as I can. So the featured post will be “[N] Observations about Abortion, Texas, and the Supreme Court”. N is currently up to 12, and I think I may stop there. The post should be out shortly.

Restoring the Roe rights is now another thing Democrats could do, if not for the filibuster. The weekly summary will make a list of these costs of the filibuster.

The summary will also examine the growing number of examples of Republican leaders embracing gangsterism and violence, including Kevin McCarthy threatening telecommunication companies with vague consequences if they cooperate with the investigation of January 6, and Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s threat of “bloodshed” if elections “continue to be stolen”. (Since no elections have been stolen, Democrats can’t avoid this bloodshed by not stealing them. But they could avoid it by not winning, which seems to be Cawthorn’s point.)

Hurricane Ida ravaging the Gulf coast makes this week’s Covid numbers hard to interpret. (Reported infections on the coast are down, but what does that mean?) The summary will include a few other odds and ends, before closing with a more kinetic variation on the domino principle: stick bomb explosions. That should be out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I contributed to the negative-Covid-test statistics. It turns out I had a cold, which is one reason why there’s no featured post this week. The other reason is that Ezra Klein’s article “Let’s Not Pretend that the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem” already said what I wanted to say about that issue. I’ll quote from that in the weekly summary, and add a few late-breaking-news details as tomorrow’s deadline on the Afghan airlift approaches.

In addition to the usual pandemic stats, the summary also contains a perversely satisfying rant about the ivermectin craze. (I suppose I could have broken that out into its own post, but I’m not all that proud of how snide it gets.) Then there’s the hurricane, and a couple of important Supreme Court decisions, one of which I even agree with.

Like last week, there’s a book section. I discuss Charles Blow’s surprisingly radical book The Devil You Know, where he floats the idea of reversing the Great Migration to create Black majorities in several Southern states. Since he’s trying to convince other Black people — the point is to get them moving in, not White people moving out — reading his book as a White man gives me a fly-on-the-wall feeling. The rarity of that experience is a reminder of my privilege: Most people who write books write them for me.

And I’ll close with a Holderness Family music parody about back-to-school paperwork.

I’ll predict that the weekly summary will post around 11 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week’s public discussion was dominated by the ongoing tragedy of Afghanistan. What struck me about that discussion, though, was how one-sided it was. Even ordinarily liberal MSNBC shows, or newspaper outlets like the Times and the Post, were unified in their denunciation of the Biden administration and its plan to withdraw our troops.

I haven’t seen that level of unanimity since the post-911 era, when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started. A lot of bad ideas sneaked into the discussion around that time, and didn’t get criticized because there was no room for criticism. I think the same thing is happening now. That’s the subject of “Afghanistan, Biden, and the Media”, which should post around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will also cover the ongoing Covid surge, which seems to be slowing down, but hasn’t turned around yet. I also want to call your attention to some longer reads that are well worth your time: Geoffrey Cain’s new book The Perfect Police State about China’s high-tech oppression of the Uyghurs, CNN’s article on the Colorado River, and the NYT’s report on “superweeds”, plus a couple of long interviews that are worth streaming.

I can’t decide how much attention to give the truck-bomber-without-a-bomb who terrorized central DC Thursday. The incident itself is of little consequence, but it points to the ongoing threat of Trumpist terrorism. The Sackler family is hoping to escape their role in the opioid crisis with their wealth largely intact. And I’ll close by marking the 20th anniversary of a legendary act of guerrilla public service: the guy who improved an LA freeway sign so well that nobody noticed until he announced it.

That should post around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Lots of news this week, but I don’t believe I have any special insight into most of it, so there won’t be a featured post. Instead, I’ll collect other people’s takes in the weekly summary and make short comments.

The big event is the fall of Afghanistan. Nobody is surprised that the Afghan government couldn’t hold the country against the Taliban without our help, but the speed of the collapse has been stunning. Kabul fell yesterday. A broad consensus of Americans wanted this war to end, and understood that the Afghanis would suffer after we left. But it’s hard to watch all the same.

Against my predictions, Republicans in the Senate voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Charlie Brown really did kick the football this time! I’ll outline what’s in this bill, what’s expected to be in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, and what’s likely to happen next.

The IPCC put out a new climate report, which is hard to evaluate if you’re not an expert, so I’ll link to some experts. The 2020 census found surprisingly few white people in the US, or at least it looks that way. Despite predictions, Trump was not reinstated on Friday. Barack Obama had the audacity and nouveau-riche bad taste to celebrate his 60th birthday. (I mean, who does that? And why didn’t Beyoncé come to my 60th birthday party?) Haiti had an earthquake. And the closing video proves that elephants can play basketball. They don’t dribble well, but they’re unstoppable on the alley-oop.

I’ll predict that the weekly summary comes out a little after 10 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big story this week was the series of revelations that came out about Trump’s interactions with the Justice Department prior to January 6. After Rudy Giuliani’s dripping hair dye and the clown show at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a lot of us began thinking of Trump’s attempt to hang on to power as a dark comedy. But it now looks like his coup attempt got further than we thought. With just a little more corruption in DOJ, he might have pulled it off.

Those discoveries, together with Republican attempts to make a coup easier next time, are the subject of this week’s featured post “The Once and Future Coup”. It should be out shortly.

The weekly summary will cover the infrastructure bill creeping towards passage in the Senate, the endgame of Governor Cuomo’s harassment scandal, the continuing surge of Covid cases, Tucker’s homage to the EU’s most authoritarian government, the end of an odd Olympics, Rudy’s resemblance to an Underdog villain, and a few other things. I’m still looking for a closing. That should be out before noon, EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This is a tough week to cover, because so much of what happened requires an explanation. The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection kicked off its hearings with moving accounts from four police officers, and there are also tea leaves to read in Liz Cheney’s behavior and the Republican response to the police testimony. (Hint: Blue lives don’t matter any more.) The Delta variant looks even scarier than we had thought, and mask mandates may be coming back. A chain of screw-ups has made millions of American renters vulnerable to eviction. The long-awaited bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill actually has a text now, and could be voted on soon. Georgia’s Republican legislature is laying the groundwork to take authority over elections in the state’s most Democratic county. The Simone Biles controversy erupted. (What are “the twisties” anyway?)

None of that is stuff where I feel comfortable just saying “this happened” and providing a link.

But I also want to take a longer view than just this week. I recently read Ben Rhodes new book After the Fall, which raises a provocative question: What happened to America, and to democracy in general, these last 30 years? After the Soviet Union fell, the United States seemed all-powerful, and progress towards democracy around the world seemed inevitable. How did we screw that up?

So one featured post will be my commentary on After the Fall. That should be out around 10 EDT. I may or may not split off my Simone Biles commentary as its own post a bit later. If not, it will be part of the weekly summary that should show up around 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The announcement that the Cleveland Indians will become the Cleveland Guardians next season may not be the most significant thing that happened this week, but it struck me as a good opening to explain what systemic racism is and what anti-racists want.

People who hate the change are saying all the usual stuff: cancel culture, erasing history, they want us to feel guilty about everything, and so on. But the point is simple: There is no necessary connection between rooting for Cleveland’s baseball team and insulting Native Americans, but things have worked out that way because of decisions that got made more than a century ago. Nobody currently alive is responsible for that decision, but the injustice got embedded in an institution, with the result that people end up participating in it today even if they bear no malice. That’s what it means for the problem to be systemic.

Anti-racists don’t care whether or not Indians fans feel guilty; fan guilt doesn’t help them. They also aren’t troubled by your happy memories of famous players and pleasant days at the ballpark with family and friends. Continue to cherish them if you want. What anti-racists want — and what they’re getting from the name change — is for the ongoing harm to stop. That’s all.

So: Going forward, rooting for Cleveland’s baseball team won’t involve dissing Native Americans. Yay, Cleveland!

That post is more-or-less done, so it should be out shortly. The weekly summary will discuss the 1-6 investigating committee, the continuing Covid surge, the sham Kavanaugh investigation, Tom Barrick’s arrest, and a few other things. It should be out around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Many stories competed for attention this week. Democrats from the Texas legislature dramatically arrived in DC, simultaneously denying a quorum to Republicans pushing a new voter-suppression law, and drawing attention to federal legislation protecting voting rights. It’s attention-grabbing, but will it work?

Also in Congress this week, negotiations continued on two tracks of infrastructure bills: a bipartisan bill that might pass through the regular process, and a much larger bill that Democrats hope to pass through the reconciliation process.

Or maybe the important thing that happened this week was that a fourth surge of the coronavirus was confirmed by a turnaround in the daily death statistics. Or maybe we should be focused on the revelations in the new last-days-of-the-Trump-administration books. Or on the climate-related fires in the Northwest and floods in Europe.

I decided to focus on the federal judge in Texas who blocked new applications for DACA protection. Not because the order was so significant in itself: It’s going to be appealed, so the ultimate result of the case is uncertain and probably still a year or more away. But that story is a hook on which to hang the larger and more amorphous story of the dysfunction of American democracy.

Think about it: It’s been nine years since President Obama created DACA as a “temporary stopgap” to let Dreamers stay in the country until Congress came up with a more permanent solution. Almost nobody wants the Dreamers deported, and yet that more permanent solution is still nowhere on the horizon. It’s yet another issue like universal background checks on gun purchases, or maintaining America’s roads and bridges, or closing loopholes that allow billionaires to dodge taxes. The American people want it to happen, but their elected representatives can’t get it done.

The spotlight is always on the tug-of-war between the executive and judicial branches, but those battles keep being fought because the dysfunction of Congress creates a void where a power center should be. The real story isn’t what’s happening, it’s what’s not happening.

Anyway, that article should be out around 10 or so EDT. The weekly summary should follow between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

For months, we’ve been hearing about the race between the vaccines and the Covid variants. At first the vaccines were winning, but in mid-June the number of Covid cases started ramping up, particularly in red states with low vaccination rates. Recently, hospitalizations have been rising as well. Deaths are still in a downward trend, but how long can that last?

This week’s featured post, “Vaccines vs. Variants” looks at the constellation of issues involved in that turn: How well the vaccines handle the virulent Delta variant, what’s happening to the numbers, the heated rhetoric around vaccine resistance, and so on. That should be out around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary has a lot of other issues to cover: the Afghanistan pullout, the Haiti assassination, Trump’s lawsuit against social media companies, climate change infrastructure priorities, voting rights, plunging numbers of White Evangelicals, and a few other things. Finally, we’ll close with a spot in England that may (or may not) be named “Hill Hill Hill Hill”.