Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big news this weekend — the drone attack on the Saudi oilfields — is still unfolding: We don’t know how convincing the administration’s attempt to pin the blame on Iran will be, or what kind of response against Iran it might carry out. We don’t know whether the disruption in the world oil market will be a blip or a longer-term shortfall in supply. We don’t know whether there will be further attacks.

As I’ve often said, a weekly one-person blog can’t compete with the major networks on breaking news, so I won’t try.  In the weekly summary I’ll set up the general situation, but leave the up-to-the-minute developments to outlets better equipped to handle them.

The featured post this week will focus on the healthcare debate among Democrats. I will argue that the differences between the candidates are overblown in two ways: All the candidates believe in two sweeping principles (that Republicans deny), and (whoever is president, and even if Democrats win both houses of Congress) the program will need the votes of the most conservative Democrats. So the program that gets passed will look very similar to a program that would be passed under a different president.

That post should be out shortly.

The weekly summary will cover the drone attacks, the rest of the Democratic debate, John Bolton, another weekly dose of corruption and deceit from the Trump administration, and a few other things. I hope to get that out by 11 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week the tragedy led to comedy. Trump’s inability to admit even the most trivial mistake led to “SharpieGate”, and a number of very funny responses.

This week also included the CNN climate forums, where ten Democratic candidates faced questions about climate change. (Wouldn’t it have been nice to include President Trump in that? To hear him ramble and bumble and dodge the questions that Democrats all answered adroitly?) I don’t know whether I expected those sessions to resolve something for me, but what it really did is make me sharpen what I’m looking for in a candidate. That meditation will be this week’s featured post “Looking for President GoodClimate”, which should be out by 10 EDT or so. (Am I dating myself with the “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” reference?) Maybe next week I’ll try to apply my new standards to actual candidates.

The weekly summary will discuss SharpieGate, new examples of Trump administration corruption, the political chaos Boris Johnson has unleashed on the UK, the projects that won’t happen because Trump took the money to build his wall, the upcoming Democratic debates, and a few other things. I’m trying to get that out by noon, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in that deadline.

The Monday Morning Teaser

There’s no featured post this week, just a lot of short and intermediate length notes in the weekly summary. Because of the length of the summary, I’m going to try something new this week and put a table of contents at the top. I haven’t decided whether that needs to be a regular feature or not.

What stood out for me this week was the sheer number of moments when I found myself saying: “That’s just wrong.” So, for example, the EPA is proposing to roll back regulations on methane leaks. The only way that natural gas is better for the environment than coal is if methane leaks are below a certain level, and producers can easily stay well below that level if the government makes them do it. So rolling back those regulations is like saying “Screw the climate; we’re just going to keep pumping out greenhouse gases until we all choke on them.”

It went on: We’re going to throw sick immigrants out of the country so that they can go home to die. Trump is urging his underlings to break the law to get the wall built before the election. The attorney general is very publicly giving the president a $30K kickback. One thing after another.

So anyway, I’m going to talk about that, and about the latest mass shootings, and the hurricane, and Prime Minister Johnson’s maneuvering towards a no-deal Brexit, and a few other things. (I read the FBI inspector general’s report on James Comey so that you don’t have to.) It was a discouraging week in a lot of ways. So I’ll close with a heart-warming video of a diver helping a dolphin untangle itself from a hook and some fishing line.

Look for that to be out, say, by 11 EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

A lot of the news this week sounded like it came from The Onion. The fantasy of buying Greenland turned into a rift with our NATO ally Denmark. Our president was talking about being “the chosen one” and retweeting claims that he was “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God”. The chair of the Fed was a US enemy on a par with the dictator of China. American Jews are “disloyal” to a foreign country many of them have never seen.

This week I’m going to treat all that like trolling. It’s meant to make us jump up and down in outrage and ignore the real news: the Amazon basin is on fire, the G7 countries don’t look to the US for leadership any more, and the US/China trade war is nowhere near resolution as it pushes the world toward recession. Yes, our president is dangerously unstable and says ridiculous things that sometimes have real-world consequences, but that’s not news. We all knew that already.

The big thing going on in Sift-world this week was the accidental viral outbreak of last week’s featured post “How Should We Rewrite the Second Amendment?” It caught on, but with an audience I never intended: NRA types who hated it. A typical featured post these days gets 500-1000 page views (in addition to being seen by subscribers through email), but this one racked up 10K page views its first day, and eventually settled out just over 15K. At last glance, it had 290 comments, overwhelmingly negative.

I decided not to try to answer all the comments individually, so this week’s featured post will respond in general to the comment stream, which is an interesting artifact, revealing a chunk of the blogosphere that Sift readers may not see very often. That should be out soon.

The weekly summary — which, as I said, will try to skip quickly over the week’s various evidences of presidential instability and talk instead about the issues we’re meant to be distracted from — should be out around noon or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I felt like it was silly season this week. I mean, news networks spent serious amounts of time discussing whether or not Trump really thought he could buy Greenland.

It’s not that nothing important was happening, but we’ve gotten so shell-shocked — by mass shootings, impeachable offenses, attempts to take away our health insurance, putting people with serious anger issues on the Supreme Court, and so on — that this seemed like a slack week.

I decided to step back and take a longer-term look at the gun problem, which always ends up in arguments about the Second Amendment. I have a radical opinion about why these arguments are so interminable: Given how much has changed since the late 1700s, the Second Amendment doesn’t actually mean anything any more. We’re like middle-aged siblings arguing over what Dad wants, when Dad has advanced Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know where he is or who any of us are.

If the Republic were actually working, we’d leave the 1700s behind and write ourselves a new amendment protecting rights that are important to us today. Maybe we wouldn’t all agree with all of it, but at least we’d know what it meant. Interpreting it wouldn’t be like sitting around a Ouija board trying to contact the ghosts of the Founders.

So that’s what I’m doing in this week’s featured post: “How Should We Rewrite the Second Amendment?” It should be out around 9 EDT.

The weekly summary will not talk about Greenland, other than to repeat an Amy Klobuchar quip about it. Instead I’ll discuss the new anti-Statue-of-Liberty immigration rules and the two members of Congress who won’t be going to Israel. I’ll explain what an inverted yield curve is, and why it is one of several recent signs of the economic apocalypse — or at least an approaching recession. A bunch of writers made further attempts to understand Trump supporters. And I’ll mention a few other things that got drowned out by the Greenland discussion, like the fact that July was the hottest month in recorded history. I’ll try to get that out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I want to look at the common discussion-diversion technique called Whataboutism, where a criticism of one (usually conservative) politician gets derailed by a competing (and often bogus) claim against someone on the other side. (“What about Hillary’s emails?” is the most recognizable example.) So I look at this week’s two biggest whatabouts in detail: “What about the liberal views of the Dayton shooter?” and “What about Rep. Castro outing the Trump donors in his district?”

That post is just about done and should be out around 9 EDT.

The weekly summary covers the growing clamor to do something about gun violence, the big ICE raids, Trump’s bizarre behavior in Dayton and El Paso, Joe Biden’s up-and-down week, the Epstein suicide (which I have little to say about because I don’t know anything), and a few other things. (I’m still looking for a closing.) That should be out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Two more mass shootings this weekend, one of them apparently committed by someone who believed Trump’s talk about an “invasion” on our southern border. When you use war rhetoric, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone starts shooting.

And the trade war with China heated up. Trump announced more tariffs — this time on consumer goods made in China, so you’re likely to notice price increases in stores — and Beijing responded by letting its currency drop. Both moves sent global markets into a tailspin.

I found an insightful podcast on disinformation. McConnell hates his well-earned “Moscow Mitch” nickname. And I’ll close this week with a list of the best places to get ice cream in each state.

But I also wanted to talk about the second round of Democratic presidential debates, which I found so disappointing that it was hard to keep watching. There are a lot of details to criticize — the crowded stage, the format, the questions, and so on — but it took me a while to get to the bottom of what was really bothering me: A debate about policy proposals makes it seem like this is a normal election, when the country is in a very abnormal situation.

One of the mysteries of the Democratic field is Marianne Williamson, who not only has no qualifications for the job, but occasionally wigs off into invocations of the power of Love. Pundits have spilled a lot of ink trying to explain her attraction, but I wonder if it’s as simple as this: She’s the one candidate who makes it clear that this election is about something deeper than a policy disagreement. Trump has traumatized America, and the next president is going to have address that trauma somehow. A new health plan and a new immigration policy — while welcome — will not be nearly enough.

I don’t have the answer here (and I’m not recommending people vote for Williamson), but I want to raise the question in “Campaigning in a Traumatized Nation”. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll have that out, but probably not before 10 EDT. I’ll try to post the weekly summary by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So Bob Mueller testified, and neither side was totally happy with what he said. He repeated key findings from his report, directly contradicting Trump’s claims on many points. But he did not make the impression on public opinion that Democrats wanted. He spoke in precise legal terms rather than viral sound bites. He looked old, tired, and at times confused. On the subject of impeachment, probably not many minds were changed.

Where does that leave us? Lots of debates had been put on hold while we waited for Mueller, and he didn’t resolve them for us. I’ll discuss where we are now in “Reset: Impeachment Post Mueller”. That still needs a lot of work, but I hope to have it out before noon EDT.

In the meantime, you can look at “A New ICE Policy Endangers Everyone”, which should be out shortly. The Trump administration has broadened “expedited removal” to include not just people captured crossing the border, but anyone who can’t prove they’ve been in the country for at least two years. Now a much larger class of people can be deported purely on the say-so of DHS officials, without any judicial oversight.

This brings me back to an old topic from the Bush administration: Whenever you define a process in which some group of people have no right to a hearing, you create a hole in the system that anyone could fall through. (In the Bush days, the hole was labeled “enemy combatant”.) ICE makes mistakes — sometimes really horrible mistakes. And if it classes you with the people who have no right to a hearing, there’s no way for you to fix that mistake before you wind up on a plane to Guatemala.

I’ll try to have the weekly summary out by 1. It includes Trump’s latest racist distraction (attacking Baltimore), what the new GDP numbers mean, the European heat wave, and a few other things.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This was one of those weeks when you had to take the bait, even if you knew Trump was creating a controversy intentionally to troll you. The go-back-where-they-came-from tweets against American congresswomen, the send-her-back chant against Rep. Ilhan Omar — it was just too much. This kind of blatant racism can’t be treated as normal, even for a president whose political career began with the racism of the birther smear.

I’ll cover the various factual angles of that outrage in the weekly summary, but first I want to say a few words about our emotions: I think a lot of us, when we heard the chant, felt a sinking feeling, as if this moment were a long-suppressed nightmare breaking into reality: “This is how he wins,” we thought. “This is how the American experiment ends.”

It’s not. It’s frustrating that we’ll have to wait 16 months to see, but this is not a genius political move. It’s a one-trick pony doing his one trick. He tried it in 2018 — remember the “invasion” of the caravans? — and it didn’t work. I’ll talk that through in a fairly short post called “Don’t Panic”. It should be out before 10 EDT.

Before that, I want to toss out another short post, which is my response to the question Kirsten Gillibrand faced about white privilege. Gillibrand’s answer was widely lauded among people who already get the point she was making, and I don’t disagree with what she said. But I wonder if the white woman who asked the question — or the millions that I think she represents — really heard what Gillibrand said, or understood it well enough that they could repeat it to their friends. I’ll take my shot in “The Privilege of Being Normal”, which should be out shortly.

I’ll try to get the weekly summary out by 11.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Lots to cover this week: Trump’s oddly anti-climactic 4th of July extravaganza, the continuing protests against his concentration camps, the post-debate polls of the race for the Democratic nomination, the increasingly bizarre saga of the census citizenship-question case, and a few other things. I have a book to recommend, and I’ll close with the national anthem played by the Device Orchestra on seven credit card machines.

None of those stories seemed to demand its own article, though, so everything is in the weekly summary this week. It should appear around 11 EDT.