Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

Some weeks I get to choose what I write about, and some weeks events choose for me. This week it seems impossible to focus on anything but the Uvalde school shooting and the issues it raises.

But that leads to a challenge: Over the years I’ve written about guns and mass shootings several times. Has the situation changed since then? Have I decided I was wrong? Am I finding new ideas that I hadn’t considered? I went back and read my posts about guns from the last seven years, and decided the answers are no, no, and no.

So should I just rehash it all? Find some clever new spin to put a fresh face on the same ideas I told you several years ago? What about new readers who didn’t see those posts?

What I came up with begins a confession: I have no new ideas here. But I stand by the things I’ve written in the past, which I’m sure a lot of you either missed or have lost track of. (A peculiar kind of egotism is common among writers: We imagine that our readers have total recall of everything we’ve ever posted, including the pieces we’ve forgotten ourselves.) So the featured post links to and summarizes what I’ve written about guns in the past. It should be out shortly.

The weekly summary includes commentary on other people’s responses to the Uvalde shooting, and then covers last week’s primary elections, the apparent turn-around in the Covid surge, updates on the Ukraine War, and a few other things. It should be out around noon EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I have to do something distasteful: defend the integrity of the information system by standing up for somebody I don’t like. In this case it’s Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who took a lot of heat this week for apparently saying that Black women shouldn’t count when you total up maternal deaths.

Except he didn’t actually say anything like that. I am constantly pointing out instances where Democrats are being attacked for things they didn’t really say, but I firmly believe the answer to this problem isn’t to launch similarly false attacks on Republicans. So in this morning’s featured post I’m defending Cassidy. I sincerely doubt that he’ll ever return the favor by defending some unfairly attacked politician I like, but that’s not the point. I want the public debate to be about true things, so I have to discipline my own side, not just the other side.

Anyway, “A reluctant defense of Bill Cassidy” should post before much longer.

The weekly summary will talk about last week’s Pennsylvania primary and tomorrow’s Georgia primary, the abortion laws states are cuing up in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe, the crypto crash, Ukraine, monkey pox, and a few other things. It should be out before noon EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Saturday we had yet another race massacre, this one in Buffalo. We don’t have to debate about the killer’s motives, because posting a manifesto about “white replacement” or “white genocide” has become a standard part of such killing sprees.

The mainstream media tends not to point out this trend, instead focusing on “troubled” young men with “mental health” issues. But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the real issue is much simpler: The killers believe what Republicans are telling them.

I started putting this together after the El Paso shooting in 2019. I can’t say whether or not Robert Crusius was mentally ill when he targeted Hispanics at a WalMart, because his actions made perfect sense if you took seriously what Trump had been saying over and over: Mexicans are invading our country. If your country is being invaded, isn’t the most obvious response to take military gear to the border and kill the invaders? What’s mentally ill about that?

Same thing here. Payton Gendron has been told time and again that there’s a plot to take America away from the white race, and that this plot will eventually result in racial extinction. If he believes that, what’s the logical response?

High-profile people like Trump, Tucker Carlson, and Elise Stefanik may not explicitly tell people to go out and kill Blacks or Hispanics or Jews, but how does anything less deal with the problem they describe?

This would be a perfect time for Republicans to purge their ranks, to openly reject white replacement theory and the people who promote it. But they won’t, because WRT is the underground root system that connects all their issues. Without white replacement, the MAGA playbook is an incoherent mess.

Today’s featured post will flesh out that argument. I’m still working on it, so it’s hard to predict when it will appear.

That leaves a lot for the weekly summary to cover: America has had its one-millionth Covid death. Russia had a very bad week, both in Ukraine and diplomatically. Women (and the men who care about them) continued to react to the prospect of the Supreme Court taking their rights away. There’s an important primary in Pennsylvania tomorrow. John Durham’s endless political witch hunt is finally bringing someone to court this week. Texas got hot this weekend — who could have imagined? — and the electrical grid strained to cope.

The schedule is out the window today. Things will post when I get them done.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week’s Sift is going to center on the Supreme Court and abortion.

If you haven’t been on Mars or under a rock, you know that a draft of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade and eliminating constitutional protection for abortion rights came out Monday night. This is a big deal, both in itself and in what it presages about future decisions. We can expect red states to pass not only laws banning abortion (which are already on the books in many of them), but also challenges to birth control, same-sex marriage, and other previously accepted constitutional rights. This decision may not immediately validate such laws, but the logic it uses could be repurposed to overturn other Supreme Court precedents.

I’ve written two featured posts that consider this issue from different angles. The first, which should be out shortly, is a legal analysis of what Justice Alito’s draft says, assuming that it becomes the opinion of the Court next month. The second asks how we got here, and more specifically “Who’s to blame for overturning Roe?” That should appear around 10 EDT.

Even that doesn’t finish covering the issue, though, so the weekly summary will take up the political implications going forward.

Also in the summary: Today is Victory Day in Russia, and yet the new offensive in Ukraine continues to go badly. Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper has a book giving new reasons to believe Trump is/was unfit to be president, and that we dodged a bullet by getting him out of office without even greater damage to the Republic. The pandemic continues to heat up again. The debate about what to do about student loans continues. And a few other things are going on.

I’ll try to get that out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The most important thing I read this week was an article in Vox: “How Ron DeSantis is following a trail blazed by a Hungarian authoritarian“. The reason it’s so hard to make sense out of what DeSantis is doing is that he’s not imitating Trump or following any other American model; he’s translating a Hungarian model of fascism into an American context. This article fits well with a series that the New York Times is doing on another American Orbánist, Tucker Carlson. This week’s featured post ties the two together in “MAGA 2.0”. It should be out between 10 and 11 EDT.

The weekly summary has a lot to cover: the Russian offensive in Eastern Ukraine continues, the pandemic is now clearly on the upswing, Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter appears to be succeeding, the Supreme Court appears ready to knock a few more bricks out of the wall separating Church and State, and GDP shrank in the first quarter. Plus, a lot of insightful things were written about the future of American democracy, and I’ll link to the talk I gave during my week off.

The summary should appear by 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

There was already no lack of news Wednesday when Elon Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter. We still had the continuing stories of the Ukraine War, the pandemic, a long list of anti-gay and anti-trans bills progressing through red-state legislatures, the drip-drip-drip of revelations about Trump administration corruption and conspiracy, and much else.

But Musk and Twitter are each controversial in their own ways, so the possibility that they might merge was like a pop-music princess dating an action-movie hero. Everything else faded into the background, and I kept waiting for the tabloids to make up a Bennifer name like “Twelon” (which Google tells me is already the name of a song).

I usually go one of two ways with stories like this: Either I decide it’s overblown and mention it briefly with a link to a fuller explanation, or I write a featured post with the intention of cutting through the hype. I’m going the second way today. “Elon and Twitter” should post by 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will try to cover all the ongoing news stories, before closing with a humorous ode to introverts. That should post sometime after noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The war in Ukraine seemed to enter a new phase this week. Russian forces have pulled back from their attempt to encircle Kyiv, and appear to be starting a new offensive in the east, attempting to secure the two Ukrainian provinces Russia has recognized as independent states.

As Ukrainians retook territory north of Kyiv, evidence of Russian war crimes against civilians came out. Russia, of course, claims this is fake news. I had my doubts at first, recognizing how useful war-crimes charges are to the Ukrainian effort to get more help from NATO. But punishing the civilian population of Ukraine lines up perfectly with the kind of rhetoric currently coming out of the Putin regime. I’ll explain that by quoting extensively from an article by a Russian political scientist that was published by a pro-Putin Russian news outlet. My post is called “Why the Russians did it”. It should come out around 9 or 10 EDT.

I’m still undecided whether there will be a second featured post. The most insightful thing I read this week was an interview with Masha Gessen, discussing not just Russia and Ukraine, but the rising tide of autocracy globally. I’ll either write an article about that or quote extensively from it in the weekly summary.

The weekly summary also has Judge Justice Jackson’s confirmation to cover, including Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious back-and-forth with MTG. A Nebraska legislator really cut loose against Christian religious extremism as she successfully filibustered a radical anti-abortion bill. Alabama passed two similarly radical anti-trans and anti-gay laws. A Texas woman who miscarried was charged with murdering her fetus. The pandemic spun its wheels as one surge faded while another began. Disney is now a right-wing political target. And I’ll close by quoting the Five Laws of Stupidity.

I’m running behind today, so the summary may not appear until after 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings this week were an embarrassment for the Senate, as Republican senators pandered to Q-Anon with specious claims that Jackson was somehow pro-pedophile. But they also served a valuable purpose: The senators’ concerns pointed to the issues the Court’s culture-warrior majority will pursue after it overturns Roe v Wade in June.

Same-sex marriage, access to birth control, interracial marriage, and many other currently recognized rights are all based on the same constitutional interpretation as Roe, a doctrine called “substantive due process”. Reversal of Roe will call substantive due process into question, and bring these other rights into the Court’s crosshairs. This week’s featured post “Where Does the Religious Right Go After Roe?” explains how Roe fits into the web of other rights not explicitly listed in the Constitution, and how Roe’s reversal might ripple outwards.

That post should be out shortly.

The weekly summary covers the week’s developments in Ukraine, the Jackson confirmation hearings, the dangerous “grooming” rhetoric of anti-gay and anti-trans extremists, the Ginny Thomas texts, Trump’s crazy new lawsuit, and the apparent bottoming out of Covid case numbers. That should post before noon EDT.

The Monday Morning Teaser

We may be glued to our TVs watching Ukrainian President Zelensky speak to Congress, but the war really starts to affect most Americans’ lives when we go to the gas station. Gas prices hit a record about a week ago, and haven’t fallen much since, even as the price of oil dropped back near pre-invasion levels.

Cars have a special place in the American psyche, so gas prices produce emotional reactions out of proportion to their practical impact. Rather than grumble and pay, as we do when other prices rise, we want to blame someone and take revenge when filling the tank costs more than we think it should.

So this week’s featured post looks at gas prices: How high are they really? What caused the increase and what (if anything) can be done about it? That post should be out a little after 9 EDT.

The Ukrainian War produces such a big chunk of notes for the weekly summary that I was tempted to break it out into a second featured post, but decided not to. The pandemic regains some of the attention I didn’t give it the last two weeks: Case numbers continue to drop, as if we were about to beat Covid for good. But at the same time, a new surge is mounting in Europe and China, and there are a few ominous signs emerging here.

Hearings on Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson start tomorrow, and we can expect to hear any number of scurrilous attacks from Republicans like Josh Hawley.

Other notes include Georgia Senate candidate Hershel Walker saying one of the dumbest things ever about evolution, the Cleveland Browns deciding that 22 sexual-predation lawsuits aren’t really a big deal for a franchise quarterback, and a few other upsetting things. After writing them up, I decided we could all use something soothing, so I’ll close with a video of an otter getting combed. Nobody can yawn like a comfortable otter.

The weekly summary should post around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I’m releasing a post that has been sitting unfinished in my draft pile for months: “How did Christianity become so toxic?”, subtitled “Six ways conservative theology undercuts the teachings of Jesus.”

I started writing this piece to explain what I see as a paradox: Any time you’re out there working to make the world better in some way, chances are that you’re elbow-to-elbow with somebody who goes to church and is trying to live by the Sermon on the Mount. But at the same time, organized Christianity is your biggest enemy. The people who are either creating the problem you’re working to solve, or making it worse, claim to be championing “Christian values”.

How the Hell did that happen?

My answer is that Jesus’ enigmatic, person-to-person teaching style left room for subsequent generations to build a structure around his teachings, one that offers simple answers rather than mysteries and challenges. By now, the structure that got built in Evangelical churches has Jesus completely walled off.

I pick out six particular ways that works, like “Focusing on the Devil opens people to conspiracy theories.” I also explain how denial of evolution blazed a path for denial of climate change, of Covid, of systemic racism, and just about anything else people don’t want to believe. Stuff like that.

Anyway, this article that started with a paradox is itself a paradox: It’s simultaneously a denunciation of Christianity and the most Christian thing I’ve ever written. Go figure.

I’ll try to get it out by 10 EDT. The weekly summary should follow noonish.