Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

It has been an eventful two weeks: Michael Cohen’s testimony, Congress moving towards denouncing Trump’s national emergency declaration, the Trump/Kim summit blowing up, more Democratic 2020 candidates, and a bunch of other stuff.

I’ve been resisting making detailed comments about the Democratic presidential candidates until the campaign gets more seriously underway. (The first debate is in June.) When there are 20 or so candidates, who differ more in emphasis than in goals, I think it’s a mistake to identify yourself with one too soon. (Unless, of course, you’re a professional who needs to sign on with a campaign.)

The main goal, in my mind, is to get Trump out. If we do that, I’ll be happy, whether the 46th president comes billed as a socialist or a moderate. I would encourage everybody to avoid painting themselves into an “If the nominee isn’t my candidate, I don’t care whether Trump wins” corner. If Democrats picked their candidate by tossing the names of all their elected officials into a hat and drawing one at random, I would care deeply about that candidate winning.

With that in mind, this week’s featured post, “Before We Even Think about Candidates for 2020”, looks at how Trump plans to win, and how that should influence Democrats’ counter-strategy. That should be out by, say, 10 EST. I’m targeting the weekly summary for around noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The long-awaited constitutional crisis looks like it might finally be here. Trump’s specious declaration of a national emergency threatens to reverse Congress’ decision not to fund his wall. If this stands, the Republic will be fundamentally changed.

Power has been gradually shifting from the legislative to the executive branch of government since the New Deal, but the one power Congress has retained is the power of the purse. If presidents can now declare a national emergency on any pretext, and redirect money Congress has appropriated for other purposes, then the power of the purse is now a shared power, and Congress has been greatly diminished.

I’ll discuss this in more detail in “One Fishy Emergency”, which should be out soon. That will be followed by a less timely piece, “I See Color”, which is my response to Howard Schultz’ claim that “I didn’t see color as a young boy and I honestly don’t see color now.” That should be out around 10 EST.

The weekly summary will collect some further odds and ends around Trump’s bizarre national-emergency speech, then discuss Rep. Omar’s apology for raising an old anti-Semitic trope (and the bad-faith denunciations of her from people who routinely do far worse), a first-person account of a late-term abortion, Mark Kelly’s amazing campaign-rollout video, Amazon backing out of New York, and a few other things, before closing with a story about one of the most poorly conceived crimes ever. Probably that’s out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week had a number of stories that need a few paragraphs of explanation, but which didn’t inspire me to write a longer piece. So my current plan is not to have a featured post this week. Instead, the weekly summary will be extra long. It’s possible some note from the summary will grow in the telling, so that I’ll pull it out into its own article, but so far that’s not happening.

Anyway, I project the summary coming out about 11 EST.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The news that I found most amazing this week was the drama of the intelligence chiefs. Tuesday, the heads of the major US intelligence agencies testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and directly contradicted many statements by their boss, President Trump. Wednesday, Trump angrily tweeted about how “naive” and “wrong” they were. But by Thursday he was happy again, having convinced himself that the media made up the whole conflict. The hearing had been televised live and the video is still available online, but never mind that. Who are you going to believe: Trump or your lying eyes?

I’ll discuss that in the featured post “Another Week in the Post-Truth Administration”. It should be out shortly.

The weekly summary covers the budget negotiations (mainly by urging you to ignore what everyone else is saying about them), this week’s extreme weather, Governor Northam’s photo, what national emergency declarations are really for, Venezuela, and a few other things. Then I’ll close with video about a strange whistle-language that is still used in the mountains of Turkey. That should be out before noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

After looking like it would never end, the government shutdown suddenly ended. I’m planning two featured posts about that. The first is newsy. It collects how the shutdown ended, and what’s likely to happen next. (I will be amazed if the government shuts down again in three weeks. If it does, I expect Trump’s support in the Senate to crumble very quickly.) That’s nearly done and should be out before 9 EST.

The second is more of an opinion piece about how these extortionist tactics need to end. The Founders pictured Congress working as their own Constitutional Convention had worked: by compromise, where you assemble majority support by giving a lot of people part of what they want. For the last ten years, though, Republicans have recognized extortion as a legitimate tactic: If they don’t get what they want, they’ll do something nobody wants, like shut down the government or let it hit the debt limit. The point of those tactics has been to try to push through something that doesn’t have majority support, like repealing ObamaCare or building a wall.

I don’t think there’s any way to make such tactics illegal, though ideas for preventing future shutdowns are floating around. But we need to restore the idea that they’re illegitimate; the public needs to understand that anybody who proposes such a thing is fundamentally opposed to American democracy.

I hope to get that post out by 11. The weekly summary also has Roger Stone’s indictment to talk about, as well as the peace framework for Afghanistan, the UK’s continuing Brexit crisis, proposals for new taxes on the rich, and a few other things. Let’s imagine getting that posted between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

For a day there, it looked like impeachment would start sooner rather than later: Buzzfeed reported that Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, which is pretty close to what Nixon was impeached for. Then the Special Counsel’s Office put out a cryptic denial, leaving everybody uncertain about what it all meant. Was the Buzzfeed report mostly true, but with some minor inaccuracies? Was it a complete hoax? Who could say?

Maximal uncertainty was probably what the SCO was shooting for, and they achieved it. I’ll try to sort out the divergent tea-leaf readings in the featured post, “The Scoop That Wasn’t”. I’ll try to get that out by 10:30 EST, but if it slips it will probably slip all the way to noon.

In the weekly summary, there’s shutdown news, but nothing that heralds a solution. Brexit continues to flounder; as I said a few weeks ago, all possible conclusions seem unlikely. (I’m reminded of a pregame show where a commentator joked, “I don’t think either of these teams can win this game.”) I can’t help commenting on the MAGA-hat-wearing teens who harassed the Native American elder on the Capitol Mall. An inspector general says the GSA screwed up when it overlooked the constitutional issues in Trump’s ownership of the Trump International Hotel. And that Gillette ad. And I’m in the deep-freeze here in New England, so I’ll be looking for a closing that makes winter seem funny. That’s probably out by 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m tempted to repost last week’s weekly summary and see if anyone notices. The government is still in partial shutdown. Trump is still lying about the Wall and posturing rather than negotiating. Democrats are waiting for him to get real, while simultaneously waiting for Mitch McConnell to remember that he still has a job. If you didn’t watch the news this week, you didn’t miss much, at least not on that story.

The Trump/Russia story got a little racier. At the time of Mueller’s appointment, the FBI was investigating whether or not Trump is a Russian asset. That probe got folded into Mueller’s investigation. Also, Trump has been unusually secretive about his conversations with Putin. And Paul Manafort was sending internal Trump-campaign polling data to Putin allies. But there’s nothing to see here; it’s all a witch hunt.

Meanwhile, Democrats keep lining up to run against Trump in 2020. And the media seems to have learned nothing from the way Trump manipulated them in 2016: They’re still covering his insults as headline news, and crowding out actual substantive information about potential challengers. They’re also doing their best to rev up Democrats-are-fighting-each-other stories, which are easier to cover than Democrats-are-trying-to-govern stories.

But this week’s featured article is more personal than that. My wife is a survivor of two different cancers, and takes a very expensive drug to keep one of them from coming back. That’s given us a window into both the good and bad sides of American health care and health insurance, including an incredible (to me, at least) development this month, as she starts Medicare Part D coverage. I’ll write that up in “My Wife’s Expensive Cancer Drug”, which should come out around 11 EST.

Expect the weekly summary around noon. Or go back and read last week’s.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Before his political career crashed and burned, John Edwards used to talk about “two Americas”: one rich and one poor. This week, though, we’ve been seeing a different two Americas: One America is reality-based. But in the other, illegal immigration is a national security emergency, a sea-to-sea wall will fix it, and this wall is so important that it’s worth burning down the country to get it built.

So we have a government shutdown in its third week, with no end in sight. Also, we have a new Democratic House of Representatives, and lots of interesting new members. And the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is getting started. I’ll talk about all that in the weekly summary.

The featured post, though, focuses on something related but slightly different: The Speaker of that new House, one of its most interesting new members, and the first major presidential candidate out of the gate all have two things in common: They’re women, and they all face an unusual level of vilification.

Coincidence? That explanation is starting to wear thin. I can sort of imagine that Hillary Clinton had some unique nebulous personal quality that made her unlikable to a large number of people (though I liked her myself). But it seems odd that the next three women to gain the spotlight all have some similar quality. I think we need to talk about that. So the featured post is “Are powerful women likable?”

I’m running late today, so it may not be out before 11 EST. Expect the weekly summary between noon and 1.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week is my annual wrap-up, the Yearly Sift. In preparation, this week I re-read all of 2018’s Monday Morning Teasers. I was struck by how repetitive they were: Invariably, I complained that too much happened this week. Stuff that had seemed earth-shaking on Tuesday was old news by the time Monday rolled around, because the Earth had shaken several more times since.

I think I just have to get over that. Yes, the amount of drama and the number of outrageous events is much higher during the Trump Era than at any time in my experience. But this is where we live now, and we’re scheduled to be here for two more years. And even if the Trump Era ends sooner, that ending will provide its own rush of drama. Sifting developments of real substance out of the general clatter and hype is more important now than ever.

With that in mind, I decided to avoid the kind of wrap-up that lists the top ten stories of the year, and instead focus on just one: How did American democracy do in 2018? And the answer, I believe, is “Pretty well, considering the challenges we face.” If the voters had endorsed and ratified the kind of governance we’ve seen these last two years, I think the road to a Putin-style autocracy would be wide open. As it came out, though, we still have a chance to get off that track.

So the featured post this week will be “The Story that Really Mattered This Year”. It should be posted before much longer.

The yearly wrap-up will include an abbreviated weekly summary, a year-end State of the Sift piece, and links to some of the years’ articles that I am particularly pleased with. That should be out by noon (EST) or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

If you thought the news might slow down for the holidays … well, let’s just say that didn’t happen. The big things going on are: troop pull-outs from Syria and Afghanistan got announced (to the great surprise of our allies and a lot of people in our own government), the Secretary of Defense resigned in protest for the first time in US history, a quarter of the government is shut down in a fight over funding Trump’s border wall, the Supreme Court agreed with the “Obama judge” who blocked Trump’s attempt to ignore asylum laws, and a few other things.

I had thought I might slow down and do Christmas stuff, but instead I’ve got two featured posts this week rather than the usual one. The first post “Is this any way to run a superpower?” is my response to the Syria/Afghanistan announcements. It’s complicated: I do wish we’d disengage from these sorts of wars, but not like this. Trump makes up his mind while talking to Erdogan, and the rest of the government just has to adjust on the fly. Meanwhile, the American people get the new policy explained to them in a series of contradictory tweets. White House spokespeople may try to flesh this out, but they’re guessing just as much as we are. Anyway, that post should be out shortly.

The second “Fantasy problems don’t have realistic solutions” is my response to people who want to hear a stronger message from Democrats about protecting the border. Trump has so distorted the undocumented immigrant problem that of course no fact-based approach to the issue will seem adequate. That’s how propaganda works sometimes: It creates fantastic problems that demand grand solutions like the Wall. That should be out be maybe 10 or 11 EST.

The weekly summary has the shutdown and everything else to cover. I’m hoping to have it out by noon, closing with an interview with Santa’s lawyer and an ancient take on the commercialization of Christmas by Stan Freberg.