Category Archives: Morning tease

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.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Most weeks I face the same quandary: Do I go for the bright, shiny object and focus entirely on Trump’s latest outrage, or do I put aside that immediate emotional rush and call attention to the broader issues facing the country and the world?

This week, though, I give in. I spent most of the week reading the Mueller Report, and just about the entire Sift this week is either about the report itself, how the report was handled, or reactions to the report. Climate change, income inequality, and health care will have to claim my attention some other week.

The first featured post, which is pretty much done and should be out before 9 EDT, concerns the most disturbing thing we learn in the report, a conclusion Mueller refuses to draw himself, but that we can draw from the information he provides: Trump obstructed justice. In “Yes, Obstruction”, I’ll explain Mueller’s reasons for not drawing the conclusion himself, and then go through the ten incidents he examines — six of which have all components of obstruction.

The question that follows is: What should be done about that? Is it time for impeachment? I foresaw this moment (or something like it) last June, and made sure to write down my ideas about impeachment then, precisely to avoid crafting my opinions around the case we happen to have. In today’s second featured post, I’ll do my best to apply those standards to the present situation. That may take a while, so I’ll guess the post will be out around noon. The weekly summary, which is mostly about other people’s reactions to the report, with a little extra about the Notre Dame fire, the Sri Lanka bombings, and a few other things (culminating with Sesame Street characters trying to teach HBO characters about respect) should be out around 1 or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

If AG Barr has been telling the truth, his redacted version of the Mueller Report should be out this week. There’s little point in speculating about what it will say or how much of it we’ll get to see, but all the same it was odd how little of the week the news shows spent discussing it. What we saw instead was Trump’s ability to control the narrative by doing and saying outrageous things.

One piece of news he didn’t control was the back-and-forth between Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg and Vice President Pence, which I’m going to focus on in the featured post. It started eight days ago with Buttigieg’s speech to the LGBTQ Victory fund, in which he pointed out the main theological weakness in the religious right’s anti-gay position: God’s creation includes people born to be gay. If you are one of those people, accepting yourself as gay can be a big piece of making your peace with God.

It has been fascinating to watch Pence (who was mentioned by name in Buttigieg’s speech) and the rest of the religious right wriggle and distort to avoid meeting Buttigieg’s challenge. This is really not a conversation they want to have. My post on this, which includes video of the full 19-minute speech, should be out between 9 and 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will say very little about the Mueller Report, because we still don’t know anything about it. But there’s a lot else to discuss: whether the administration will obey the law on a number of fronts (including the border and Trump’s taxes), Netanyahu’s re-election, Julian Assange, the new Brexit deadline, and a few other things. It should be out between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This Sift doesn’t have a featured post this week. In part that’s because the weekly summary has a lot to cover: the continued delay in either publishing the Mueller Report or delivering it to Congress, the reports that Mueller’s people feel that their work is being misrepresented, Joe Biden’s response to charges that he touches people inappropriately, the ongoing Brexit follies, Kristjen Nielsen’s resignation and a series of other stories about the border (pointing to Trump’s increasing frustration at being bound by US law), Democrats’ attempts to get Trump’s tax returns, and so on. Buried under all that: Congress invoked the War Powers Act for the first time in history, in an attempt to end our role in Yemen’s civil war.

But there’s another reason: I’m not sure exactly what made this week different from all the others, but it got under my skin in a way that most weeks don’t. Whenever I started to write any longer piece, it turned into a rant. Ranting is not what I’m trying to do here. I’m sure you get plenty of that elsewhere, and I’m not convinced that my rants are that much better than the general run of rants. Again and again, I would write some line that felt emotionally satisfying, and then not have a good answer to the question “How does this serve my readers?”

So this week I plan to ramp up my mental hygiene practices and try to get back to my usual relationship with the news.

The weekly summary should be out maybe around 11 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

We’re in this bizarre period where the Mueller Report exists, but we can’t see it. So the advantage goes to whoever can most shamelessly make claims about something they haven’t seen. In other words, this situation is perfectly tailored for the talents of our president.

I, on the other hand, do not feel well suited to this moment. My inclination is to wait until I know something before I comment, and Attorney General Barr’s just-a-little-bit-longer tactic sets exactly the kind of trap I’m prone to walk into. All through the investigation, I’ve tried to resist speculating about what Mueller was up to, or reading between the lines of his indictments. Eventually there will be real knowledge, I’ve kept saying, and then all this speculation will evaporate.

But now here we are, still waiting for knowledge, while Trump and his minions claim to be vindicated and are already starting to demand revenge on the people who dared to challenge them. (The crowd at Trump’s Grand Rapids rally chanted “Lock them up!” about Democratic politicians like Adam Schiff.) So we have to go out and meet this moment, no matter how much we wish we could wait a couple weeks (or maybe longer, if Barr or Trump decide to change the rules) until we could really know what we’re talking about.

That’s what I’ll try to do in this week’s featured post “Mueller By Gaslight”, which should be out around 10:30 or so, EDT.

The weekly summary covers a collection of oddities that is unusual even by Trump Era standards. Betsy DeVos explained to Congress why she was defunding the “awesome” Special Olympics, and then purported to be happy when Trump overruled her. Trump promised his Michigan crowd full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration project, whose only real enemy these last two years has been him. (Still no word on whether the 90% cut is still in his budget proposal.) Trump is threatening to shut down the Mexican border this week, even though nobody who would have to carry that order out seems to know anything about it. The original Brexit deadline passed on Friday, with the British Parliament still having no plan. (The new deadline is April 12.) Oh, and the Trump administration wants the courts to throw out ObamaCare, despite having no healthcare plan of its own.

That post should be out around noon or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

We’re in a particularly strange part of the news cycle: The Mueller Report is finished, but we don’t really know what it says yet. We have a four-page summary by Attorney General Barr, which came out yesterday, but does not completely answer our questions. Barr says he’ll release as much as he can of the rest of the report, after he has combed it to protect the integrity of the grand-jury process. We’ll see if that happens, how long it takes, and whether Barr decides to err on the side of transparency or hide as much as he can get away with.

In the meantime, we have the summary to digest: no further indictments or sealed indictments, a conclusion that Trump was not a conspirator in the Russian effort to make him president, and a decision by Barr that evidence of obstruction of justice (which Mueller collected, but did not make a recommendation about) does not rise to a level that is worth pursuing in an indictment.

I’ll talk about that in one short featured post, which should be out before 9 EDT. The other featured post will be more light-hearted: “Confronting Season-Change Denial”, which makes an analogy between arguments about climate change and the difficulty New Englanders have convincing each other that spring has really come, with summer to follow. That should be out before 11.

The weekly summary will cover developments in the 2020 race, New Zealand’s fast reaction to the mosque shootings, Trump’s strange obsession with John McCain, the World Happiness Report, and a few other things, before concluding with a marvelous graphic presentation of how the world’s largest cities change through time.

The Monday Morning Teaser

When terrorists publish manifestos, I don’t usually read them. They tend to be long, and the people who do read them tell they are rambling and incoherent. But I did read the manifesto of the white nationalist who killed all those Muslims in Christchurch, and I think it’s worth your attention. What struck me is that it actually is coherent: a fairly small number of bad beliefs lead logically to a whole bunch of bad results. What’s more, that ideology links a large number of pathological views that liberals like me often address in whack-a-mole fashion. I think we need to consider white nationalist ideology as an underground stream that unites much of the Trumpist agenda.

With that in mind, in today’s featured post I’ll attempt a deep reading of the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto. There’s still a lot of work to do on that yet, including picking a title, so it may not be out until around 11 EDT. The weekly summary also has a lot to cover — the college admissions scandal, Congress’ rejection of Trump’s emergency, and a few other things — so it may not be out before 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It didn’t get a lot of attention on my social-media feeds, but this week Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Joe Manchin co-wrote an op-ed about climate change that appeared in the Washington Post. It’s frustratingly timid and vague, but this appears to be where the center of the Senate is on the issue. So I decided it’s worth looking at in detail. That’ll be today’s featured post, “Where is Congress’ Center on Climate Change?”. It should be out before 9 EST.

The weekly summary has a lot to cover: Democrats launching investigations, Manafort’s light sentence, a string of economic reports that point to a slowing economy, and a variety of other stuff. That should appear around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It has been an eventful two weeks: Michael Cohen’s testimony, Congress moving towards denouncing Trump’s national emergency declaration, the Trump/Kim summit blowing up, more Democratic 2020 candidates, and a bunch of other stuff.

I’ve been resisting making detailed comments about the Democratic presidential candidates until the campaign gets more seriously underway. (The first debate is in June.) When there are 20 or so candidates, who differ more in emphasis than in goals, I think it’s a mistake to identify yourself with one too soon. (Unless, of course, you’re a professional who needs to sign on with a campaign.)

The main goal, in my mind, is to get Trump out. If we do that, I’ll be happy, whether the 46th president comes billed as a socialist or a moderate. I would encourage everybody to avoid painting themselves into an “If the nominee isn’t my candidate, I don’t care whether Trump wins” corner. If Democrats picked their candidate by tossing the names of all their elected officials into a hat and drawing one at random, I would care deeply about that candidate winning.

With that in mind, this week’s featured post, “Before We Even Think about Candidates for 2020”, looks at how Trump plans to win, and how that should influence Democrats’ counter-strategy. That should be out by, say, 10 EST. I’m targeting the weekly summary for around noon.