Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

Back in March, when Ohio was the first state to cancel school, I don’t think a lot of people expected schools around the country to close for the rest of the year. And surely by fall we would have this whole coronavirus thing figured out, as the world’s well-governed countries more-or-less do. Well, now it’s time to make decisions about the next school year, and it’s not at all obvious what to do. And the process is made that much harder, because it can’t just be about the kids now. Trump has made reopening schools a loyalty issue for his cult, so it has to be about him too.

That’s the topic of this week’s featured post “Back to School”, which should be out around 9 EDT or so.

That’s far from all that happened this week. There were also some major new moves in the Trump Crime Family’s assault on the rule of law. Roger Stone got his payoff for not ratting out the Boss, and Consiglieri Bill Barr put out a hit on the Eastern District of New York, where Trump-related investigations might have been brewing, but now presumably are sleeping with the fishes. Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, who violated omerta during the impeachment hearings, has been forced out of the military. The Family’s allies on the Supreme Court showed mixed loyalties: They rejected Trump’s claim to be completely above the law, but still his taxes and business records will remain hidden until after the election. Complete victory over the law will have to be a second-term project.

Meanwhile, coronavirus continues to rage out of control. By some counts, the number of new cases surged over 70,000 on Friday, up from 20,000 a few weeks ago. And the months-long decline in deaths ended, as experts had been predicting. The official word in MAGAland is that there is nothing to see here: More testing is turning up more cases, and everyone should go back to normal life as fast as possible.

I feel an obligation to report some good news too: The Washington Redskins are finally changing their name, hopefully to something not racist this time.

Anyway, that’s all in the weekly summary, which should come out around noon or so.

BTW, I don’t know what to predict about next week. My wife is having surgery on Thursday. I could imagine either being completely absorbed in that, or sitting around the hospital with an internet connection and nothing to do but wait and watch her sleep. So the Sift might or might not happen at all next week, and if it does, I can’t guess how much effort will go into it.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So this week the US started finding 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day, and on Wednesday Arizona had more new cases than the entire European Union. Meanwhile, our President responded to this deepening crisis by using our tax dollars and military bands to put on two big campaign rallies — one at Mouth Rushmore and the other at the White House. Reading those speeches, I learned that I (and probably most of my readers) are “far-left fascists” who are trying to “overthrow the American Revolution”. And here I thought I was just trying to finally make good on the Declaration of Independence’s unfulfilled promises of equality and government based on the consent of the governed.

I stand corrected. But I still don’t see why I had to pay for him to insult me. I mean, when Hillary gave her “deplorables” speech, at least her campaign rented the space and Obama didn’t order the Blue Angels to fly overhead.

Anyway, this week the featured post will be “In the Land of No We Can’t”. It puts Trump’s surrender to the virus in the larger context of Republican fatalism, which holds that nothing can be done about school shootings, climate change, economic inequality, systemic racism, or most of the other problems Americans face. Either we’re supposed to deny the problems exist, cope with them through our individual actions, or just live with them, because collective action to solve them is off the table.

No we can’t.

That should be out between 10 and 11 EDT.

The weekly summary has the virus surge to cover. Also: the jobs report, Biden’s VP options, Trump’s bizarre 4th of July celebrations, the Supreme Court, a new chapter of SharpieGate, and a number of other things, before ending with a bit of nostalgia about Karen when she was just a girl.

The Monday Morning Teaser

So I was off for a week. Did I miss anything?

Two weeks ago, the rise in Covid-19 cases nationally was still debatable, and even the outbreaks in states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas could be optimistically interpreted as blips that happened to coincide, but didn’t necessarily add up to a trend. Now it’s clear we’re back in the soup nationally, and it’s the Northeast, where cases are still flat or declining, that looks like the anomaly.

In some ways, we’re worse off now, because the President is AWOL, the federal government has no plan, and common-sense measures the public needs to take — like mask-wearing and avoiding crowds — have turned into culture-war issues. Instead of leading a patriotic response to the virus, the President is out there promoting anti-social anti-public-health activities like large-scale political rallies. All the expense and sacrifice of the lockdown seems to have been wasted, except in the Northeast and a few counties near San Francisco.

Lots of other stuff has been happening, but that’s the most serious development, which I’ll discuss in “Back to Square One”, which might not be out until 11 EDT. The weekly summary then somehow has to cover the revelation that Putin offered bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan (and Trump has done nothing about it), the ongoing story of the corruption of the Justice Department, the huge lead Joe Biden is building in the polls, Trump’s push to get the Supreme Court to invalidate ObamaCare, and DC statehood. I’ll try to find space to mention Mississippi changing its flag and an appeals court ruling against Trump’s border-wall emergency, which might have been lead stories in more normal times. And then I’ll close with a new video by The [formerly known as Dixie] Chicks.

Let’s predict that to appear around 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Anti-racist and anti-police protests continued this week, and Atlanta police gave the protesters a new martyr: Rayshard Brooks, who drew police attention by falling asleep in his car, and was shot to death while running away. The national conversation about how to stop excessive police violence (particularly against people of color, but occasionally against whites also) continued to progress, ranging from simple reforms like banning chokeholds to more radical proposals that have gathered under the umbrella of the slogans “Abolish the police” and “Defund the police”.

Those slogans themselves are what drew my attention this week. Like many liberals, I support most of the proposals that the police-abolitionists put forward, but I shy away from endorsing the slogans themselves. I was happy to hear Joe Biden refuse to support abolishing or defunding the police, because I believe a Biden blunder like that is one of the few ways Trump could salvage his re-election. So I’ll discuss the divergent interests of issue activists and politicians trying to get elected in the featured post “What’s in a Slogan?” That should be out before 10 EDT.

The weekly summary will cover the continued demonstrations, the Rayshard killing, Covid-19’s refusal to go away for the summer, the debate over Confederate monuments and memorials, developments in the Flynn case, and Trump’s moves against the International Criminal Court. Then I’ll close with a musical tribute to a great Confederate general. That should be out somewhere between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

By the end, it turned into a good week. The violence from looters and police faded, but the protests grew and spread across the country. Without the distraction of burning buildings and troops in the streets, more and more attention went to the substance of the protests: How do we get the police under control?

I’m going to cover this in two separate articles. The first follows the sequence of events, from Trump’s authoritarian stunt at St. John’s Church on Monday to the massive peaceful protests over the weekend. That should be out a little after 8 EDT. The second will look at the proposals for changing how police operate in America, from simple rule changes to “abolishing” policing as we know it. That will be out before 11.

The weekly summary may be a little late this week. It has a pandemic to cover. (Remember that? It’s bound to come roaring back after the massive crowd scenes.) Also the push and pull as the Republican Party decides which way to move. And plans for the return of the NBA. That should be out by 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Here’s where we’ve gotten to: The coronavirus epidemic in the United States officially passed the 100,000-death mark this week, and that’s not the lead story.

George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police last Monday, and by the weekend local protests had turned into nationwide riots. There’s a lot to untangle here, and I’m going to do my best. In my mind, this is really three, or maybe four, stories knotted together. First, there’s what happened to Floyd: what the police did when, who’s been charged with what, and so on. Second, there’s the long, sorry history of racist policing in America, and why this is a festering wound that almost every black American feels the pain of. Then there’s the story of angry protests turning into riots, with local officials (many of them black) struggling to calm things down while the President almost gleefully makes them worse.

Finally, and this fourth story I don’t know enough about to discuss intelligently yet, is the extensive anecdotal evidence that something sinister is going on behind the scenes, that agitators — many of them white — are doing their best to catalyze violence out of an already tense situation. Many people are speculating about who these bad actors are: white nationalists hoping to start the race war they’re always talking about, antifa anarchists, undercover police trying to discredit the protests — but nobody really knows. It could be Putin’s “little green men” for all I know. So far, all the sweeping statements made about this look irresponsible to me, and I’ll try not to muddy things up worse.

Everybody has their own particular ax to grind in discussing a complicated situation like this, and here’s mine: Racist policing was the issue that Colin Kaepernick was kneeling about before football games, and the main result of that peaceful protest was that he got drummed out of the NFL. When you suppress peaceful protests of longstanding injustices, you can’t really be shocked when violent protests break out.

So anyway, I’m planning a long article broken into sections to try to cover all those bases. That should be out by 10 or 11 EDT, and I haven’t picked a title yet.

Stuff that was happening before our cities started to burn seems like ancient history now, but it isn’t, and in a few days it will seem important again. So the weekly summary will discuss news about the pandemic, including the 100,000th American death. (And who knows how many people caught Covid-19 during the demonstrations and riots this week?) Also: Trump’s attempt to strike back at Twitter for fact-checking him, his heartless abuse of a woman’s death to make trouble for Joe Scarborough, the SpaceX launch, and release of the Flynn/Kislyak transcripts. And we’ll close this week with video of an attempt to protect a backyard birdfeeder from squirrels that turned into something much more. It’s hard to predict when that will appear, but let’s say before 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It’s been one of those kind of weeks: A lot of things deserve a little of your attention, but nothing jumped out at me as demanding a long article. So there will be an extra-large helping of notes in the weekly summary, but no featured post — unless one of the notes unexpectedly expands as I get into it.

Some of what to expect in the summary: reflections on a Memorial Day where the people risking their lives to defend us are mostly not in the military; states continue to reopen, even though virus cases are still rising in about half of them; Georgia, the leader in reopening, is proving nobody’s point so far; reopening churches at this stage is a bad idea; the Mike Pompeo scandal; China’s Hong Kong crackdown; my assessment of Joe Biden’s mental acuity; Scott Walker re-emerges as a deficit scold; and a few other things.

I’ll try to get that out by about noon, eastern time.

The Monday Morning Teaser

After I focused on corruption last week, I thought I might be able to ignore it for a while. But no such luck. This week we saw another inspector general get fired to protect another Trump crony. And a guy with Big Pharma stock options is running the “warpspeed” vaccine effort. And David Fahrenthold revealed that the federal government has spent nearly a million dollars on Trump properties.

But the featured post is something I’ve been putting off week-to-week for some while now, because there was always something more immediate to pay attention to. I keep noticing otherwise sensible people (who usually appear to understand Trump’s cognitive and psychological limitations) raising their blood pressure fretting about the Master Plan that is going to keep him in power. I mean, it may look like he’s blundering his way towards November — making the virus worse, screwing up the reopening of the economy, letting the elderly voters who put him in office realize just how little he values their lives, and so on — but it’s all part of an ingenious scheme to steal the election or declare martial law or something.

I don’t think so. So the featured post this week is “Trump Has No Endgame”. The impatient spoiled child you see trying to make the virus go away by shutting his eyes and holding his breath until he turns blue — that’s the only Trump there is. He doesn’t turn into Lex Luthor or Victor von Doom as soon as the subject changes to his re-election. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry about weird things happening later on, when he finally realizes that the electorate is going to vote (or already has voted) to throw him out. We have to be ready for the poorly planned tantrum he’ll throw then. But his screw-ups in the meantime are real screw-ups; they aren’t steps leading up to some final fiendish maneuver.

I expect that piece to appear around 10 EDT. The weekly summary has the new corruption stuff to cover, the debate over easing anti-virus restrictions, Ahmaud Arbery, and some other things. That should be out around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Week after week, the pandemic has dominated the news. That’s what happens when you kill 80K Americans in two months.

But this week, the pandemic has competition: new highs in the corruption of the Trump administration. Bill Barr once again made a mockery of the Justice Department’s independence by serving Trump’s political interests; the Department moved to drop the indictment of Michael Flynn, who had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. As in the Roger Stone case, a prosecutor resigned rather than have his name tainted by this dirty deed.

Also, the recently removed director of BARDA, a biological research organization inside HHS, filed a whistleblower complaint. In that complaint, he describes a history of political “cronyism” overruling the judgment of BARDA’s scientists, culminating in a corrupt move to push hydroxychloroquine, the drug Trump was promoting as a miracle cure for Covid-19, but which had not been proven to be either effective or safe.

And tomorrow, the Supreme Court considers Trump’s claim to have “absolute immunity” against any form of investigation, either federal or state. If the Court signs off on that, there’s really no limit.

So one of this week’s featured posts will be “This Week in Corruption”. I still have some work to do on that, so it probably won’t be out until around 11 EDT. Before that, I want to examine something I know a lot of people are wondering about: how the stock market can be so high when the economy is so awful. “What’s Up With the Stock Market?” should be out before 9.

The weekly summary still has a lot to cover after that, most notably that Covid-19 deaths seem to have leveled out, even as states start relaxing their shelter-in-place restrictions. Deaths are dropping in the New York City area, but rising elsewhere. Meanwhile, the virus has reached the White House. Baseball is back, but in South Korea, not here. The Tara Reade conversation continues. And I’ll close with a quarantine version of Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” performed by the Phoenix Chamber Choir. Let’s say that gets out before 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I want to focus more on what we do and don’t know about the virus and the pandemic, and less on the politics of it (though of course the politics can’t be ignored). So the featured post does not have “Trump” in the title, and may not mention him at all. He’ll turn up in the weekly summary, but there’s no need to dwell on him.

A lot of the articles that my social media universe brings to my attention express knowledge of one sort or another: The virus is like this; this tactic works and this one doesn’t; there will or won’t be a vaccine by such-and-such a time; this treatment is or isn’t a breakthrough; and so on. But I went looking for articles that give due respect to our ignorance, or that point to something we think we know, but really don’t. (Those stats people toss around about annual flu deaths aren’t nearly as solid as they look, for example.) And looking at countries that are ahead of us in dealing with the pandemic shows that whatever they are getting back to, it isn’t “normal” by any means. “Normal” is still quite a ways off, if we ever get there at all.

The point is not to cheer you up or get you down, it’s to build a stock of knowledge carefully, so that we don’t whipsaw back and forth between “It’s going to be OK” and “Millions of people will die.” Anyway, that should be out sometime this morning. (I’m being vague because I’m still making decisions about what’s in or out.)

The weekly summary will, of course, get into the politics of the lockdown, those armed yahoos trying to intimidate legislators, the accusation against Joe Biden and his response, the Republican president who did look like a statesman this week, and so on, before closing with a great piece of lockdown art: over 100 Julliard students, faculty, and alumni coming together virtually to play and dance their way through “Bolero”. When it came to my attention, I thought, “No way I’m watching the whole nine and a half minutes.” But I did.

I’ll try to get the summary out between noon and 1 EDT.