This is Why You Hate Me

Today we're as divided online as we are regionally. And our regional segregation is epic. These divisions leave us vulnerable to being defined by those who -- for money or for power -- gain from us remaining divided. That's why you in your rural town and me in my metropolitan city only know each other as the caricatures we see beamed through our completely separate sources of news, entertainment, and political messaging. It's a big problem. And the tools we thought would make it better have made it worse. My latest post: This Is Why You Hate Me.


Need to Have Your Head Examined?

The Senate just took its first major step towards repealing Obamacare, and the President-elect has left no doubt that this is a top priority. So NPR asked voters what they really think (and maybe more importantly, what they really know) about the Affordable Care Act. It turns out only about 14% of us want the act repealed without a clear replacement. And about half of those polled "believed that the number of people without insurance had increased or stayed the same, or said they didn't know what the law's effect has been on insurance coverage." In reality, about 20 million additional people are covered.

+ Then there was the Obamacare hater who didn't realize he has Obamacare. (exception, or rule?)


It’s All About the Base

We can see how the Trump transition is playing in the media capitals. But, as we learned in 2016, we need to pay attention to how it's playing in other parts of the country. The NYT's Trip Gabriel spent more than a year living in Iowa. He went back this week and found that Trump voters are unfazed by controversies: "Washington may be veering from one Trump pre-inaugural controversy to another: unproved reports of Russia's holding embarrassing information against him, possible ethical conflicts, the donors and billionaires of his cabinet, his pushback against intelligence findings on Russian hacking in the election. But there does not seem to be much angst in Iowa among those who voted for Mr. Trump, including some Democrats and independents."

+ "The operative -- identified today by the Wall Street Journal as Christopher Steele, a former Russian operations officer for Britain's MI6 intelligence agency -- had worked as a consultant for the FBI's Eurasian organized crime section, helping to develop information about ties between suspected Russian gangsters and FIFA." Meet the spy behind the world's most famous dossier. Christopher Steele is currently in hiding.

+ Julia Ioffe in The Atlantic: "After years of covering and reporting from Russia, it is bizarre to me that this term has surfaced in U.S. domestic politics, but here we are. Kompromat is a Russian squishing together of two words: compromising material, which Americans refer to as blackmail."

+ WaPo: Justice Department to investigate FBI's handling of Clinton email case.

+ The latest from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto: Oh no we won't.

+ That time Fox News defended CNN.


Confirmation Class

As we enter day three of confirmations (James Mattis, Ben Carson, and Michael Pompeo were questioned), an incredibly interesting theme has emerged. Many of the nominees have drawn clear distinctions between their views and those expressed by their future boss. Rex Tillerson indicated he did not oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. James Mattis expressed his views that America needs to be tough with Russia and described NATO as "the most successful military alliance probably in modern history, maybe ever." Mike Pompeo said that as the head of the CIA, he would refuse to restart enhanced interrogation techniques. He also views the recent intel report on Russia's efforts to hack the election to be "sound."


The New Abnormal

"Wednesday was a big, weird moment in the lurching transition of federal power. Did it reach peak weirdness when a group of protesters began to march around the U.S. Capitol in dinosaur costumes? Or was it reached only when President-elect Donald Trump, in Manhattan, denied kinky new allegations about himself by announcing that he was 'very much a germaphobe, by the way?'" Someone should create a new energy supplement just for news curators. (Either that or I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.) The news cycle has been relentless and chaotic (which benefits those in power) over the past few weeks. From WaPo: Yesterday was a mad, mad day in American politics. Is it also our new normal? It really is relentless, and I didn't even get to the President-elect's tweet about LL Bean...


Emit Happens

Earlier this week, the US filed criminal charges against six Volkswagen executives involved in the company's efforts to cheat federal emissions standards. And now the EPA says that Fiat Chrysler also used software to enable emissions cheating.


Living on the Edge

CNN asked this question: "If you were suddenly hit with a $500 unexpected bill, would you be able to cover it?" According to a new study, "only 41% of adults reported having enough in their savings account .... to cover a $500 or $1,000 unplanned expense."


La La Brand

"Today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers." As the deadline approached, the Chargers made it official. The team is moving to Los Angeles. So, in a single year, LA went from having no NFL teams to having two pretty bad ones. Congrats.


Like Minded

"A secretive hardware research division that Facebook created last year is developing 'brain-computer interface' technology that sounds a lot like the mind reading and telepathy of science fiction movies." I don't care if Facebook reads my mind. At this point I don't what to think anyway...


Bottom of the News

"In an age when most music exists on the boundless, only somewhat navigable reservoir of sound called the internet, splintered across streaming services, YouTube embeds, torrents, and message board threads, there's something to be said for the tangibility and simplicity of physical media." OK, so you think we're talking about the vinyl revolution being led by snooty audiophiles, bearded hipsters, and suburban dads suffering from peak mid-life crisis. Well, forget vinyl. Cassettes are making a comeback.

+ Why some Peso traders want Mexico to buy Twitter and shut it down.

+ On the similarities between Indianapolis and Kim Kardashian.

+ "There's a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring." From the NYT: The very unusual, but pretty interesting, musings of Peter Thiel. (Ever get the feeling that most people, even really successful ones, are totally nuts?)