Category Archives: Morning tease

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”.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So I’m back from the Berkshires, where people were complaining because the temperature got into the 90s. Meanwhile, it was 116 in Portland.

And that’s where the first featured post starts. I think we’re entering a new phase in the national conversation about climate change. For a long time, climate change was either some invisible thing scientists teased out of the statistics, or horrifying projections made by mysterious computer models. Then we got into a debatable period, where you could point to anomalous weather events like Superstorm Sandy as signs of climate change, or you could just say that weird things happen from time to time.

But 116 in Portland, at the same time that the hurricane season is setting records in the Atlantic — it’s too much to explain away. People are feeling in their guts now that something’s not right.

So the first featured post this week is the kind of argument I think we need to be making. Not “Hey you idiots, we were right and you were wrong.” But something more like “I get why you haven’t wanted to believe this, but things are different now.” We need to invite people to switch sides, not herd them into reeducation camps.

Anyway, that’s the point of “Climate Change is Here”, which should be out shortly. I intend it to be the kind of thing you can send to your skeptical cousin. (Let me know if it works.)

The second post covers the Trump Organization indictment that came out Thursday. You’ve probably heard a lot of the details already, so I’ll talk mainly about what I think it means more broadly. Personally, I was surprised by how simple and obvious — and downright stupid — the tax-evasion scheme was. I thought I was immune to the Trump-the-great-businessman myth, but I had expected something much more clever than this. It makes me wonder how honest, or at least semi-honest, business owners are taking this. Maybe you fudge the numbers a little on how much personal use you get out of your company’s car, but your wife’s car? your kid’s apartment? your grandchildren’s tuition? It probably never occurred to you to claim them as business expenses, but the Trump Organization did. And they got caught.

Let’s say that post gets out before 11 EDT.

What does that leave for the weekly summary? The January 6 committee, Covid case numbers turning up again, the June jobs report, some Supreme Court decisions, and a few other things. And then we’ll end with what happens when a female singing duo takes a conservative boyfriend’s advice on songwriting. I’ll predict that for maybe 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m on vacation this week, the first time I’ve slept away from home since February of 2020. So I’ll be taking it a little bit easy this morning: There’s no featured post, in spite of several parts of the weekly summary that are getting a bit long. As you read this, picture me sitting on the deck of a time-share condo, gazing out at the Berkshires and listening to the morning birdsong.

Wait. Where was I? OK, the weekly summary: The saga of the infrastructure bill or bills continued this week, and is likely to keep having its ups and downs for several months. That high-rise condo building in Florida collapsed for no obvious reason, making me wonder about this third-floor deck that I’m sitting on. (All over the country, I imagine, Americans are thinking about construction details they used to take for granted.) The Catholic bishops appeared to be about to deny communion to President Biden, and then backed down when the public focused more on the bishops’ greatly diminished moral authority than on Biden’s unwillingness to toe their line. The New York City mayoral primary happened, but due to ranked-choice voting, we may not know the result for some while. It was a bad week in TrumpWorld, as the Big Lie started to crumble on several fronts at once and the Trump Organization was warned about possible looming indictments. Derek Chauvin was sentenced. We found out just how bad Trump’s bout with Covid was, and how far his treatment diverged from what you or I would have received.

That should be out by 10 EDT, assuming I don’t lose too much time to the mountains and the birds.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Joe Manchin finally laid out what he wants in a voting-rights bill. It’s a significant compromise, but it’s not bad. Sadly, it’s not going to get Republican support either. So what happens next? Is the point just to frame an issue for 2022, or is something actually going to get done?

President Biden’s meeting with Putin was blessedly uneventful. Juneteenth became a national holiday. The Supreme Court refused for the third time to end ObamaCare. The heat wave has the West worried about the looming wildfire season.

That stuff, and a few other things, will get covered in the weekly summary. This week’s featured post focuses on George Packer’s framing of the four narratives of American politics: Free America, Smart America, Real America, and Just America. I think he’s done a good job of listening to the rhetoric of the current moment, and I believe we’ll be hearing about his four narratives for years to come. That post should appear between 10 and 11, EDT. I’ll try to get the summary out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Every week gives me a new reason to rejoice that Donald Trump is no longer president. This week, it’s the G-7 meeting in England, where President Biden did not insult our democratic allies, tweet something petulant, or stand in the way of shared commitments to confront climate change. Admittedly, being happy that a president can go overseas without embarrassing our country sets a low bar for Biden. But it still feels refreshingly strange to me.

Inside our borders, the question of how to repair the damage Trump did to the presidency and to the government in general is starting to come to a head. The Boston Globe did a week-long series on the reforms that are needed, culminating with prosecuting Trump himself. A new scandal emerged concerning Trump’s use of the Justice Department to go after his critics in Congress. Don McGahn’s testimony to Congress, after all this time, was both enlightening and frustrating, pointing out how completely the Trump administration defied congressional oversight. And Attorney General Garland is beginning to come under fire for standing by various questionable (or even corrupt) decisions made by his predecessor.

This looks like another two-featured-post week. The first, “Critical Race Theory is the New Boogeyman” looks at conservative efforts to make “critical race theory” a new content-free buzzphrase, in the tradition of “cancel culture” and “political correctness”. It should be out soon.

The second is still untitled, and concerns the what-to-do-about-Trump question. Biden seems to want to move on without calling the previous administration to account for its corruption and its endangerment of democracy, maybe hoping that some local jurisdiction will prosecute him for his pre-presidency crimes. Like many others, I am questioning whether that response is adequate. That still needs work, so it might not appear until noon, eastern time.

The weekly summary has the G-7 and a few other things to cover. Let’s say it gets out by 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m still deciding which of the weekly summary notes will get spun off into their own posts. There will definitely be at least one featured post, “Trump’s Next Coup”, which looks at the Trumpist chatter about him being “reinstated” in August. Trump incited the January 6 riot by encouraging his followers to believe the election could be reversed on that day, and then giving them the assignment to go do it. He never specifically told them to do anything illegal, but there was no legal method to do what he wanted. The same thing is happening now: There is no legal way to reinstate Trump in August, but he’s raising that expectation.

The other notes that are straining for more space concern Manchin’s announcement that he won’t support the For the People Act, and the implication — which I believe but he doesn’t — that there will be no federal defense of voting rights at all. Also, Biden’s Tulsa speech, and the general significance of recognizing how White violence has been erased from the history taught in schools, as well as the impact of such violence on the Black community’s ability to generate and sustain wealth.

With that much in flux, it’s hard to make predictions about what will appear when. The coup article should appear between 10 and 11 EST. Beyond that, I can’t say.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big development this week was the Senate’s unwillingness to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Beyond the issue of the insurrection itself, the fact that only six Republicans would vote to end this filibuster exposed the hopelessness of bipartisanship. They won’t even support investigating an attack on their own workplace that endangered their own lives. What are the odds that they will support anything else the country needs?

I’ll discuss all that, plus the grassroots GOP craziness being promoted by Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, in “The Bipartisanship Charade is Almost Over”, which I’ll try to get out by 9:30 EST.

The weekly summary will discuss the Manhattan grand jury deciding on Trump indictments, what the disheartening anniversaries of George Floyd’s murder and the Tulsa race riot mean for police reform and teaching racial history, the continuing good trends for the pandemic, second looks at the lab-leak theory and UFOs, and a revealing study of what motivated the Capitol insurrectionists, before closing with one of the wildest plays in baseball history.

Let’s say that gets out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

One thing I appreciate about the Biden administration is that the rate of news has slowed a little. That gives me time to think about longer-term issues once in a while rather than constantly react to the most recent threat to democracy.

This week I take advantage of that freedom to reflect on Bitcoin, which crashed 30% against the dollar on Wednesday. I can’t guess what the market will do day-to-day or even month-to-month, but long-term, I’m bearish on Bitcoin. In order to catch on as a currency for everyday use, it’s going to need a aura of coolness; using it should impress your friends. But the environmental disaster of Bitcoin mining is anything but cool. I’ll develop that point — and make some rude observations about the paradoxes of money in general — the in the featured post “The Problem with Bitcoin”. That should be out shortly.

The weekly summary does have stuff to cover: Congress’ looming failure to authorize a bipartisan commission to investigate the Trump Insurrection, the Israel/Palestine ceasefire, the usual run of Republican scandals, and a few other articles that are taking advantage of breathing space in the news to reflect on the possibility of global population decline, or the reasons life expectancy doubled in the 20th century.

Let’s predict that to come out around noon EST.