Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

A variety of non-blog-related distractions grabbed my attention this week, so I didn’t get a featured post written.

The weekly summary will discuss various ongoing threats to American democracy, more info emerging about Omicron, the continuing post-Thanksgiving Covid surge, the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to stop Texas from nullifying federal court decisions, tornadoes, reflections on the economy and a few other things, before closing with a medley of SNL parodies of Christmas movies.

That should appear a little before 10 EST.

The Monday Morning Teaser

These last two weeks saw two significant developments: The Omicron variant of Covid was announced, and the Supreme Court heard arguments on a case it might use to overturn Roe v Wade.

The featured post will focus on Roe. In particular, I went back to read Roe, which impressed me more than I expected. Justice Blackmun wrote an excellent discussion of the issue, and anticipated many of the criticisms that people are making today. I’ll also comment on the extensive gaslighting by the conservative justices, which started in their confirmation hearings and continues to the present.

That post “The Roe v Wade Death Watch” should be out a little after 10 EST.

The weekly summary will cover what little we know about Omicron and how uncertainly we know it. I’ll also discuss the Michigan school shooting, and go back to comment on the Arbery and Rittenhouse verdicts. In other news: Bob Dole died. Congress managed to fund the government until February, but there’s still a debt ceiling crisis scheduled for later this month. Chris Cuomo got fired. A Russia/Ukraine crisis is brewing. And a few other things. I’ll try to get that out around noon or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

It has been an eventful week: Kyle Rittenhouse went free, the House passed Build Back Better, Paul Gosar was censured, and the fall Covid surge continued.

I’ll talk about all that in the weekly summary, but I have little to add to what you’re probably already seeing. (I am deeply disturbed by the implications of the Rittenhouse trial, for example, but for reasons you have probably already thought of.) So this week’s featured post is a book review: David Neiwert’s study of conspiracy theories Red Pill, Blue Pill. That should be out a little after 10 EST.

The summary includes the topics listed above, plus David Roberts’ don’t-panic response to the Glasgow COP meeting on climate change, Beau’s advice on convincing your parents to get vaccinated, a Florida restaurant chain’s ingenious solution to a labor shortage (pay more), and a few other things. I’ll try to get that out a little after noon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Steve Bannon got indicted this week. The legal battle over Trump’s ex-presidential executive privilege continued. The Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery murder trials raised questions about white privilege in the legal system. The New York Times finally recognized the Republican Party’s growing acceptance of political violence. The Glasgow climate conference came to a less-than-ringing conclusion. New Covid cases turned up again. And SNL gave us an episode of “Ted Cruz Street”, which appears on NewsMax Kids as a lead-in to “White Power Rangers”.

I’ll cover all that in the weekly summary, which I’ll try to get out between noon and one EST.

I might spin the Republican-violence note out into its own article, but there definitely will be a featured article about a more tangential concern: The announcement of the new University of Austin by a collection of anti-cancel-culture intellectuals. U of A President Pano Kanelos touched a lot of my educational sympathies with the rhetoric in his announcement essay, but I can’t shake my impression that his new institution will wind up being a safe space for traditional biases that the other universities are finally confronting. A lot of things are wrong with currently popular models of higher education, but giving previously oppressed groups the freedom to talk back isn’t one of them.

“Does America Need an Anti-Cancel-Culture University?” should be out before 10.

The Monday Morning Teaser

There’s no getting around it: Tuesday’s election results were discouraging. A Democratic candidate for governor lost in Virginia and nearly lost in New Jersey, two states Joe Biden carried handily just a year ago. Beltway pundits, especially in The New York Times, were quick to assign blame to progressives and to Biden’s ambitious agenda, which they say needs to be scaled down and moved towards the “center”, wherever that is.

This week’s featured post examines those elections and that conclusion, and proposes a way forward. “How Ominous Were Tuesday’s Elections?” (which includes an aside on the history and usage of the word woke) should be out a little after 9 EST.

The weekly summary will discuss the bipartisan infrastructure bill Congress passed Friday night, Amy Klobuchar’s new book on antitrust, the Aaron Rodgers fiasco, some good economic news, and a few other things, before closing with a touching leonine love story. (Who knew elderly lions could look so cute together?) That should be out around noon.

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.