Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s been a busy week for news. Democrats seem to be getting close to a deal on the reconciliation bill, which would also unlock the bipartisan infrastructure bill — but who can really be sure until the votes are cast? The low ebb of the party’s popularity may sink their candidate in Virginia’s governor’s race tomorrow. The world’s leaders are at a climate conference in Glasgow. Texas officials continue to try to limit the books school children are exposed to. The Supreme Court is about to take up a case that could reverse Roe v Wade. We continue to find out more about Trump’s coup attempt.

As I often do when I can’t choose a single story to focus on, I’m going to talk about something else entirely: the history of the word freedom. I love the new book Freedom: an unruly history, and I want to tell you about it. (Teaser: Who came up with the idea that “We’re a republic, not a democracy”? It wasn’t Madison or any other Founder.)

So the featured post is “Freedom Isn’t What It Used To Be”, and it should be out by 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover the stuff I mentioned above, plus pointing you to some fun Halloween images I ran into this week, and closing with a bookshop in China that is somehow both futuristic and magical. If Hogwarts is still around in the Star Trek era, its library might look like this. That should be out by noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I responded to a slice of conservative spam: The Heritage Foundation was offering me its free e-book (well, e-pamphlet, really) on how to spot and combat critical race theory. I had to get it: I keep accusing conservatives of turning “critical race theory” into a pejorative term with no actual meaning, and here was a right-wing think tank offering to tell me what it means. I have to read stuff like this just to keep myself honest (which is probably why I keep getting conservative spam).

The result is this week’s featured post: “What Conservatives Tell Themselves About Critical Race Theory”. The short version: When they feel obligated to define “critical race theory” and attach it to actual quotes from the people supposedly promoting it, conservatives serve a pretty thin soup that is nothing at all like those anti-CRT laws that talk about making white people feel ashamed of their whiteness and blaming them for the crimes of their ancestors. In a nutshell, CRT means teaching people about systemic racism.

Imagine my horror. Innocent children in our public schools are being taught that whites have advantages in our society! Clearly we need to storm the school boards and get this stopped.

Anyway, that post should be out before 10 EDT.

In the weekly summary, Democrats appear to be creeping towards the finish line on the Build Back Better plan. It’s going to look small compared to earlier proposals, but if you’d described it to me on January 5 (when the election of Senators Warnock and Ossoff gave Democrats control of the Senate) I think I’d have been happy. Once something passes, Democrats will have to work on their marketing so that voters realize how much has been accomplished rather than focusing only on what has been left out. Congress has cited Steve Bannon for criminal contempt, moving the case to Merrick Garland’s in-box. The Trumpist spirit is unleashing incredible craziness in Republican primaries, and also in Evangelical churches. And Covid numbers continue to drop everywhere but here in the Northeast.

That should be out sometime after noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The week’s most alarming story, by far, was the claim by a Texas school administrator that teachers might have to offer an “opposing perspective” if they included books about the Holocaust in their classroom libraries. Subsequently, the school district backed away from that public-relations disaster: The Holocaust is not one of the “controversial and widely debated” topics that a new Texas law requires teachers to cover in a balanced way. It is officially “a terrible event in history”, and can be discussed without mentioning any pro-Holocaust perspective.

What a relief!

However, I can’t help but be disturbed by the idea that that’s where the battleline is. And I wonder: What books are Texas teachers tossing out right now because their topics are slightly less one-sided than the Holocaust? So this week’s featured post is “Reading While Texan”. It discusses the Holocaust “controversy” and the law that sparked it. I also look at a different school district — a Houston suburb this time rather than a Dallas suburb — where a Newberry Medal book about a Black seventh-grader got taken off the shelves so that a review committee could decide whether it was “critical race theory”. Again, the story has a “happy” ending: The book is back on the shelves. But if that’s what we’re fighting about, where is the line exactly?

That post is almost ready, and should be out shortly after 9 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover the price Senators Manchin and Sinema are demanding for supporting what will remain of Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Also: the attempt to enforce subpoenas on Trump’s allies, John Gruden, inflation, workers’ reluctance to return to bad jobs, and a few other things. That should be out around noon or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Last week the Pandora Papers were coming out just as I was putting out the Sift, so all I could do was say that it was happening and give you a few links. With a week to think about it, this week’s featured post will discuss what to make of it all. Is there more going on here than just confirmation of the eternal truth that the rich play by a different set of rules?

It’s a holiday and I’m running on a slower schedule, so that post probably won’t appear until around 11 EDT.

The weekly summary has a number of things to cover: the debt ceiling deal, and the continuing negotiations around the Biden agenda; an interim report on the Trump coup; Facebook’s whistleblower testifying to Congress; the back-and-forth court rulings about the Texas abortion law; a discouraging jobs report; worries about China and Taiwan; and the continuing turn-around in the Covid surge — all of which leads up to a closing about the things a puffer fish will do for love.

Look for that around 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s been a week of good news and bad news. The government didn’t shut down, but the debt ceiling is still hanging overhead, threatening a self-inflicted disaster in about two weeks. Neither infrastructure bill passed by the deadline that had been set for it, but the deadlines got extended and negotiations continue. The 700,000th American died of Covid, but a promising new treatment got announced.

There is a certain amount of water in your glass. How do you feel about it?

The featured post this week is something I’ve been meaning to say for a while. My background in mathematics for once has some relevance to a major issue: Whether we beat the pandemic or not balances on the knife-edge difference between exponential growth and exponential decay. If every 10 infected people infect 11 more, we have exponential growth. If they infect 9, exponential decay. Once you grasp that, you see the importance of tactics that change the odds — like masks and vaccines — even if they don’t guarantee your individual well-being.

That post is called “Pandemics Are Beaten By Communities, Not Individuals”. It should be out between 9 and 10 EDT.

As for the weekly summary, the focus this week is on Congress, and we’re still in the situation I outlined last week: We all desperately want to know what’s going to happen, but we just don’t. For what little it’s worth, I remain optimistic. At least the government didn’t shut down.

Elsewhere: the Covid numbers continue to turn around. The vaccine mandates are working. Alex Jones is going to have to pay the Sandy Hook parents. And I enjoyed the new book about the Alamo. The summary should be out around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So yet another counting of the votes in Arizona — this one by the openly pro-Trump Cyber Ninjas — showed that Biden won. But Trump continues to claim fraud, and his GOP allies still demand similar “audits” in other other states he lost — and even in Texas, where he won by less than previous Republican candidates.

Ostensibly, the audit was going to resolve the doubts — one way or the other — about Arizona’s 2020 election. But instead, the report doubled down on the “raising questions” tactic that undermined faith in the election in the first place. It’s almost like tearing down democracy was the point all along.

So I’ll examine that in the featured post “The Big Lie Refuses to Die”, which should be out between 9 and 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will discuss the increasingly clear picture of Trump’s coup attempt, the Haitian refugees at the border, the agonizingly slow turn-around of the pandemic’s Delta surge, Germany’s election, and a few other things. Look for it around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s another week where many stories require more than a paragraph or two of attention: General Milley’s fears of what Trump might do in his final days in office, and the precautions he took; the California recall election; AOC’s dress; the Durham investigation’s first indictment; and whether or not the Covid surge is turning. Additionally, there’s the fizzling of Saturday’s demonstration in support of the January 6 terrorists, another anti-Trump Republican retiring, and a few other noteworthy things.

For that reason, there’s no featured post this week. I’ll put out a weekly summary around 11, and nothing else until next Monday.

In addition, the summary will include a brief introduction to the concept of “Disney Princess theology”, and close with a link to the Instagram page of a Dad who likes to appear to be endangering his kids.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week, Biden upped the pressure on vaccine refusers, and Republicans freaked out about it. The new-case numbers finally started going down. We marked the 20th anniversary of 9-11. The Justice Department started fighting back against the Texas abortion law. And a big Robert E. Lee statue came down in Richmond.

This week’s featured post, though, backs up a little to address a more general question: Whether or not ordinary people should “do our own research” on the issues of the day. It’s easy to shake your head at the people eating horse paste to guard against Covid and say “Obviously not.” But the issue is actually more nuanced than that. This blog, for instance, is an example of someone doing his own research up to a point. I don’t run my own clinical trials, but if I totally trusted mainstream journalists to turn my attention in the right directions, there’d be no purpose in most of what I do.

So “On Doing Your Own Research” is a bit more sympathetic to the populist view than you might expect. It should appear around 10 EDT.

The weekly summary discusses the developments mentioned in the first paragraph, with particular attention to the legal basis for Biden’s “mandate” order, and for DoJ’s lawsuit against Texas. I’ll also go off on historical tangents about General Lee’s weakness as a strategist, and the similarity of the Thermopylae and Alamo myths. Let’s say that posts around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The big news this week was the Supreme Court’s refusal to block Texas’ abortion-banning law. This was a backhanded way to subvert Roe v Wade, and other red states are already moving to copy Texas. There’s a lot to say about this situation — legally, politically, and socially — and there is no shortage of people already writing about it.

With that in mind, I have decided to take this blog’s name literally and do some sifting. Rather than write a long essay of my own, I’m pulling together what other people are saying as concisely as I can. So the featured post will be “[N] Observations about Abortion, Texas, and the Supreme Court”. N is currently up to 12, and I think I may stop there. The post should be out shortly.

Restoring the Roe rights is now another thing Democrats could do, if not for the filibuster. The weekly summary will make a list of these costs of the filibuster.

The summary will also examine the growing number of examples of Republican leaders embracing gangsterism and violence, including Kevin McCarthy threatening telecommunication companies with vague consequences if they cooperate with the investigation of January 6, and Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s threat of “bloodshed” if elections “continue to be stolen”. (Since no elections have been stolen, Democrats can’t avoid this bloodshed by not stealing them. But they could avoid it by not winning, which seems to be Cawthorn’s point.)

Hurricane Ida ravaging the Gulf coast makes this week’s Covid numbers hard to interpret. (Reported infections on the coast are down, but what does that mean?) The summary will include a few other odds and ends, before closing with a more kinetic variation on the domino principle: stick bomb explosions. That should be out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I contributed to the negative-Covid-test statistics. It turns out I had a cold, which is one reason why there’s no featured post this week. The other reason is that Ezra Klein’s article “Let’s Not Pretend that the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem” already said what I wanted to say about that issue. I’ll quote from that in the weekly summary, and add a few late-breaking-news details as tomorrow’s deadline on the Afghan airlift approaches.

In addition to the usual pandemic stats, the summary also contains a perversely satisfying rant about the ivermectin craze. (I suppose I could have broken that out into its own post, but I’m not all that proud of how snide it gets.) Then there’s the hurricane, and a couple of important Supreme Court decisions, one of which I even agree with.

Like last week, there’s a book section. I discuss Charles Blow’s surprisingly radical book The Devil You Know, where he floats the idea of reversing the Great Migration to create Black majorities in several Southern states. Since he’s trying to convince other Black people — the point is to get them moving in, not White people moving out — reading his book as a White man gives me a fly-on-the-wall feeling. The rarity of that experience is a reminder of my privilege: Most people who write books write them for me.

And I’ll close with a Holderness Family music parody about back-to-school paperwork.

I’ll predict that the weekly summary will post around 11 EDT.