Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

There’s a lot to discuss this week, and no single dominating story.

As always, there are 2016 developments: Trump gave a couple of policy speeches, including calling for African-Americans to vote for him because they have “nothing to lose”, an observation that I’m sure came as a huge surprise to the many blacks who have jobs and homes and families, and particularly the ones who will lose their health insurance if Trump succeeds in repealing ObamaCare. The naked Trump statues appeared.

There are conspiracy theories to debunk about paying ransom to Iran, Clinton’s precarious health, and the plot to corrupt rural areas by introducing lesbian farmers. Two major science/technology magazines decided they needed to break their usual policies and comment on the presidential race.

A bunch of interesting stories also came out of the Olympics, including a debate about what it means to be a woman.

The Justice Department is going to stop using private prisons. Texas students are going to start hanging dildos from their backpacks. There’s a new reason to hate Walmart. And meanwhile, what about that flood in Louisiana? (Who’s God judging now, Tony Perkins?) And finally, I have a great closing: an experimental 3D printer that outputs food.

Covering all that didn’t leave much space for a featured article, so I decided to raise a question instead of trying to answer one: In the 19th century, the Homestead Act gave land to 1.6 million families. You don’t usually hear that discussed in Marxist terms, but it ought to be: In a stroke, the government vastly increased the number of people who had direct access to the means of production. It also established a middle class in the frontier territories. Is there anything similar we could do today? What would play the role of land? Who would the beneficiaries be? What effort would be the equivalent of homesteading? Think about it and if you come up with anything, share it.

The Homestead Act article should be out 9ish, with the weekly summary following by 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I have a long morning in front of me. There are two featured posts this week, and one still needs a lot of work.

The first is about the even more dangerous and destructive turn the Trump campaign has taken since the polls turned bad for him. When he thought he was winning Trump acted like a bully, targeting politically weak groups like immigrants and Muslims. But now that he’s clearly losing, he’s tearing down trust in American democracy. He’s started claiming that he can only lose by fraud, and hinting at violence as the appropriate response.

I’m not terribly worried that this message will work in a literal, immediate sense. He will still lose (legitimately), and his loss will not touch off a wave of riots and assassinations, much less the “civil war” that some of his more extreme supporters are predicting. But the long-term effect will be destructive. Trump began his campaign by uniting a segment of the electorate that feels — not entirely incorrectly — that they deserve better than what recent trends have given them. If many of them come out of this election feeling that peaceful organizing and voting is pointless, that opens the door for the next demagogue to be even worse. I don’t believe that Trump is Hitler, but it’s possible we may look back on him as Hitler’s warm-up act.

That post — which will include lengthy footnotes explaining why his fraud claim is absurd and his dog-whistle to “Second Amendment people” was not just a joke — is currently called “Democracy Will Survive This, With Damage” and should be out between 8 and 9 EDT.

The other story that deserved more attention than it got this week was the Justice Department’s report on Baltimore’s police. In some sense this was the big-city sequel to the report DoJ did last year on Ferguson. We now have very well documented accounts of how American policing shouldn’t work. Hopefully somebody is working on a model of how it should work. My post on the D0J report is called “It’s Not Just Freddie Gray”. It’s the one that still needs work. Let’s hope it gets out by 11.

The weekly summary will cover the latest attempt at raising a Clinton email scandal and a few other topics, before closing with some classics of literature rewritten in Trump style. Noon? 1? I don’t know.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s hard to believe that a week ago I was nervously waiting for a few more polls to validate Clinton’s convention bounce.

The bounce turned out to be just fine, and then Trump spent the entire week demonstrating the truth of the line in Clinton’s acceptance speech: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” He simply could not let go of his disastrous battle with two gold-star parents, to the point of starting to attack Republicans who told him to lay off.

But as arresting as that disaster has been, I am resisting the overall tendency of politics-watchers to focus 24/7 on Trump, because I don’t want Hillary to get to the White House with no mandate beyond not being him. So I’m taking a step back to focus on one of the campaign’s broader themes: sexism. What role has sexism played in building the kind of Hillary-hatred we’re seeing, and could we have expected anything different from the first serious attempt to put a woman in the White House?

In particular, I want to apply what eight years of Obama has taught us about subtle racism: People don’t hate Obama because he’s black, they hate him because they believe terrible things about him. But a big reason they believe those terrible things is because he’s black.

So the featured post will be “Sexism and the Clinton Candidacy”. It should be out before 9 EDT.

In the summary, I will have to focus on Trump, because his bizarre self-destruction really has dominated the news this week. I’ll also tell the story of how I tripped into a significant anti-Trump demonstration this weekend while vacationing in Maine.

But I’ll also touch on the global problem of slow growth, Obama’s last birthday in the White House, how my church is making religious freedom a liberal argument, and maybe a few other things, before closing with a couple Trump songs. That should be out around 11 or 12.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Another week, another convention. There still aren’t enough polls to establish it convincingly, but the early results are validating my intuition that Hillary’s bounce undoes the one Trump got from his convention and then some. Trump is helping by acting exactly like the person the Democrats described, so we may have seen the last of those Trump-leads headlines — at least until some other major event happens.

The convention offers a lot of possible angles. So many of the headline speakers were tremendous, and then there were unexpected knock-outs like the speech from the parents of the late Captain Khan. But today’s featured post focuses on Bernie Sanders: He didn’t just check the box on his Hillary endorsement, like Marco Rubio did for Trump, and he didn’t even make a lesser-of-two-evils argument. He put his heart into it, assured his supporters that “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president,” and went through a list of issues to prove it.

That surprised a lot of people, to the point that conspiracy theories have started about what Hillary could have offered or threatened him with. I will offer a more mundane explanation in “Why Bernie Backed Hillary”. It should be out before 8 EDT.

Last week I brushed off the Trump/Putin story, but it got a lot more solid this week. Then I went back and read exactly what Trump’s been saying about NATO and realized it’s worse than I thought. I’m leaning towards making that a second featured post, but I haven’t decided yet. If I don’t, the new developments will be in the weekly summary.

The rest of the summary will mostly be convention coverage, with links to all the major speeches and a follow-up on Trump’s incredibly dumb decision to go after the Khans. I’m still looking for a closing. I’m aiming to have everything posted by 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

From Melania’s plagiarism on Monday to Donald’s promises on Thursday that “I alone can fix [the rigged system]”, “I will be your voice”,  and “Beginning on January 20th of 2017, safety will be restored”, the Republican Convention dominated the news this week.

Personally, I found the whole thing to be a very scary spectacle. But beyond just quaking, I typically have two constructive reactions to fear: (1) analyze and (2) laugh. The two are hard to fit together in one article, so this week there will be two featured posts: one that analyzes “The Big Lies in Trump’s Speech” in terms of the previous articles I have written on propaganda, and another, “You Have to Laugh”, that pulls together the comedy that came out of the convention, including the return of Jon Stewart.

“Big Lies” will come out first, probably around 8. “Laugh” will follow, maybe 10ish.

The weekly summary includes some notes about the RNC that didn’t fit into either of the articles, some look-ahead to the DNC, my first impression of Tim Kaine, and Roger Ailes’ well-compensated exit from Fox News after sexual harassment charges, before closing with Michelle Obama’s “Car Pool Karaoke” appearance. Figure that to come out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The Baton Rouge shooting yesterday upended the post I had been writing about police reform. Posting it would be like: “Too bad about your friends and colleagues dying. Here’s how you’ve all been doing your jobs wrong.” So I’m scrambling a little this morning. What exactly is going to come out when is hard to predict.

One short post should be out soon. I did a search of past Sift posts to see where Mike Pence has come up before and what I said about him. I figured that was a way to keep myself honest, rather than just posting a knee-jerk reaction of “Trump picked him, so he must be pond scum.”

The result is “Mike Pence. I’ve heard that name before.” It should be out between 8 and 8:30 EDT.

I have a huge number of short notes for the weekly summary — I picked an eventful week to go on vacation — so I could just stop with the one short featured post. But it feels cowardly to ignore the issue most of us are churning over: police killing and being killed. So I’m going to wing something difficult. I want to step back to the larger perspective, in which both police and young black men are victimized by an unjust society that pits them against each other. The working title is “A Real Pro-Police Agenda is Liberal”. Wish me luck on that; it’s still all in my head and could fall completely apart before the glue sets.

Then there will be the summary: Republican convention, Turkish coup, Nice attack, Bernie endorses Hillary, reactions to Hillary’s non-indictment, Baton Rouge, Chilcot report on Iraq. Your typical two weeks in the 21st century.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Tuesday edition

I’ve never been sure what to do with the Sift on a week with a Monday holiday. This time, given that my weekend plans had me driving all day yesterday, I thought about cancelling. But I already knew I’d be cancelling next week’s Sift because I’ll be on vacation. So rather than cancel two in a row, I thought I’d try the experiment of a Tuesday edition.

Anyway, it was 4th of July weekend, so chances are you either heard a lot about the Founding Fathers or made an intentional decision not to hear a lot about them. (If any of you got in to see Hamilton, I’m envious.) On the Right, it seems like preserve-the-Founder’s-vision rhetoric gets more and more intense every year. And since the Right’s version of the Founders is so disconnected from actual history, it’s hard for progressives not to respond with our own Founders rhetoric. (I mean, if you start quoting Thomas Jefferson in support of a fundamentalist Christian point, or make an ideologue out of George Washington, you clearly don’t know these guys.)

We rarely have a conversation about whether this partisan battle to claim the Founders is healthy for America. So the featured post this week is a discussion of David Sehat’s book The Jefferson Rule: How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible. His main point is that once you start invoking the Founders as prophets, you turn political arguments into religious arguments, and cast your enemies as infidels rather than just people with different political philosophies. That’s not good for democracy, and historically it seldom has led to good outcomes. We ought to be debating about what we the living want to do with our country, not what the honored dead wanted us to do with it.

That should be out sometime between 9 and 10 EDT.

The weekly summary has a lot to cover: several terrorist attacks overseas, the last whimper of the Benghazi pseudo-scandal and possibly the home stretch of the Clinton email pseudo-scandal, a stunning victory for abortion rights at the Supreme Court, new gun control laws in California, and the death of Elie Wiesel. And I’ll close with a stunning Hubble telescope photo of a massive aurora on Jupiter. Let’s say that comes out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big news this week was Brexit, which I had barely covered in the Sift because I didn’t expect Leave to win. (If Remain had won, the story would have been “OK, never mind.”) So the consequences of Brexit — the worst of it being the strain it puts on the Northern Ireland peace agreement — take up most of the weekly summary, which also discusses whether Brexit should change our views of the likelihood of a Trump presidency. (I come down with a definitive “yes and no”.)

But the featured post is about the odd and (from my point of view) welcome change of tone among the Democrats in Congress. Suddenly senators are giving 15-hour speeches and representatives are holding sit-ins in the well of the House. If nothing else, such actions are breaking the nothing-to-see-here fatalism of a Congress that can barely keep the government open and can’t hope to accomplish anything positive.

But what’s all that about, why now, and where might it go from here? That’s the topic of a featured post that still needs work and doesn’t even have a title yet. So figure that to appear around 10 or 11 EDT.

Beyond Brexit and the congressional sit-in, the weekly summary discusses the end-of-term barrage of Supreme Court decisions, the odd finances of the Trump campaign, and the continuing signs of a thaw on the Bernie/Hillary front. I’m still looking for a closing, so let’s predict that to appear around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Last week I punted a discussion of the Orlando shooting. But the diverse reactions to it continued to dominate the news this week: It was a human tragedy; it was an ISIS attack; it was a hate crime against the LGBT community; it was yet another mass shooting to restart the gun control debate.

What struck me was the insistence that it had to be just one of these things, rather than all of them. Ted Cruz put it most sharply when he declared to the Senate: “This is not a gun control issue; it’s a terrorism issue.” Gallup more-or-less endorsed that idea when it made respondents choose: Democrats saw the Pulse nightclub massacre as a mass shooting, Republicans as a terrorist attack.

What I decided needed saying is that this distinction has become obsolete: Now that ISIS is actively encouraging lone-wolf attacks like Orlando and San Bernardino, gun control is a terrorism issue. The easy availability of military-grade hardware with near-limitless magazines makes us uniquely vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, and the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress keeps that vulnerability in place.

So this week’s featured post is “Our gun problem IS a terrorism problem”. It should be out within the hour.

The weekly summary discusses some of the other ways the Pulse shooting is being interpreted, the surprising fact that the Senate will even vote on some gun-control measures today, the approach of Brexit, Juneteenth, net neutrality, and of course 2016 developments in both parties, before closing with a little intellectual humor.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I wish I had something important and meaningful and comforting to say about the Orlando shooting. It would be a fine thing to write some words that inspire hope and courage, and if I had those words I would gladly give them to you.

However, the kind of thing I think I do well is slow rumination, not instant response to events whose details are still coming out. I am still digesting the horror in Orlando. I don’t want to use it as an excuse to reprise a canned rant about guns or terrorism or bigotry, so today I will not say much at all about it. That’s not because I want to trivialize or ignore it.

So today’s articles will be the ones I have been working on all week. The first to come out — probably within an hour — will be “What Should ‘Racism’ Mean? Part II.” This week you probably heard more than you wanted about Donald Trump’s diatribes against the “Mexican” judge, and the responses of leading Republican like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney. But I was struck by a detail that didn’t get that much attention: a poll saying that 2/3rds of Republicans disagree with Ryan and Romney; they say Trump’s comments were not racist.

That took me back to the theme of my “What Should ‘Racism’ Mean?” article from 2014. It’s not unreasonable to want to restrict usage of the word racism to extreme cases like the Nazis or the KKK. But if you do that, how do you describe things like Trump’s comments about Judge Curiel? To me, it seems like the Right has taken a lesson from George Orwell: If you restrict words to narrow meanings and don’t provide new terminology to fill the gaps, you can restrict discussion, and ultimately restrict thought. Those poll results, I believe, stem from that restricted thinking.

The second featured article was inspired by a critical comment on last week’s Sift: that I am ignoring or trivializing the Clinton email issue, particularly the new information that has come out in the last few weeks. So I read the State Department Inspector General’s report and The Wall Street Journal‘s latest leak of information about the alleged top secret information on Clinton’s server. My summary will be in “About Those Emails”, which will be out later this morning.

The weekly summary will briefly link to accounts of the Orlando shooting, before going on to political news in each party, the Stanford rape case, Samantha Bee’s summary of the presidential primaries, and a few other things, before closing with a speaker who has reduced TED talks to their generic essence. That should come out around noon.


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