Thursday, April 6th, 2017


DC’s Nuclear Meltdown

While House battles often raged in extremist and incoherent directions, Americans could always count on the Senate to be the Congressional body where cooler heads prevailed. Well, those cooler heads just went nuclear. Mitch McConnell pushed to alter the Senate rules to "allow the confirmation of [Neil] Gorsuch and all other Supreme Court nominees by a simple-majority vote." The move was an expected response to the Democratic filibuster (which itself was largely a reaction to the GOP's refusal to give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing during the final year of the Obama era). The phrase "nuclear option" may be a bit extreme, but the Senate definitely dropped a few bunker busters on any hopes Americans had for the return of at least a hint of bipartisanship among members of the country's most exclusive club. As WaPo reports, "the change is also likely to make an already bitterly divided Senate even more partisan, with several senators warning in recent days that ending filibusters of presidential nominees could lead to the end of filibusters on legislation -- effectively ending the Senate's role as a slower, more deliberative legislative body." In today's America, slow and steady no longer wins the race. And for bipartisanship, nuclear winter is coming.

+ Vox with some background on what just happened and how we got here.


He Said, Xi Said

President Trump is getting ready to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago for a much-anticipated first meeting. Quartz has compiled a list of the nine charts you need to understand the US-China relationship. (China is famous for blocking social media. For Trump's sake, let's hope Xi hasn't been reading Twitter over the past couple years.)

+ North Korea is certain to be a hot topic of discussion among the two presidents. The Economist has a very informative look at a question many Americans might have: Why doesn't China rein in North Korea?


Chemistry Test

"Yesterday's chemical attack, a chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity." Assad's monstrous behavior is not news to most of the world. But it appears to have had a significant impact on President Trump who "has told some members of Congress that he is considering military action in Syria in retaliation for this week's chemical attack." And according to the NYT, the Pentagon is weighing military options.

+ "The three defense officials told BuzzFeed News they believe Assad may have launched Tuesday's attack to test the president, particularly after members of his administration had indicated Assad could stay in power. Most notably, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that: 'I think the status and the longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.'"

+ Meanwhile, this from Syria: "If the world wanted to stop this, they would have done so by now. One more chemical attack in a town the world hasn't heard of won't change anything ... I'm sorry. My son died yesterday. I have nothing left to say to the world."


Fight Club

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. But when that fight club is in DC, then the second rule is: go ahead and leak everything you saw and heard in Fight Club. And that's how things are playing out in Washington's main event, the clash between Steve Bannon (and his followers) and Jared Kushner (and his). From The New Yorker: Steve Bannon Is Losing To The Globalists.

+ GQ: Steve Bannon calls Jared Kushner a cuck and globalist behind his back. (DC is basically Twitter in real life.)

+ NYT: Devin Nunes to Step Aside From House Investigation on Russia.


Don of the Dead

"Make yourself comfortable, Frank -- hit somebody ... Frank, believe me, I'm telling you this as a friend: Your voice is gone." Those jokes aimed at Frank Sinatra began Don Rickles rising career that lasted for decades. Was he mean? Was he too critical? Was he just an insult comedian? No, no, and no. He was one of the greats, and he had one of the fastest minds in comedy. (And I'm sure he'd see my headline as the tribute it is.) Don Rickles has died at the age of 90.

+ Howard Stern called Don Rickles the best guest in the history of talk shows. So here he is on Letterman with Stern. And here's his last appearance with Carson.

+ With Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

+ And the documentary on Rickles: Mr Warmth.


Tubes Tied

You turn on the TV. Your kids turn to YouTube. And those worlds are colliding. Enter "YouTube TV, an attempt to marry the world's most popular platform for streaming video with the programming of traditional television. For $35 a month, subscribers will get access to the four major broadcast networks and a bundle of over 40 cable channels." Ultimately, the internet will take us from overpaying one company for TV to overpaying another company for TV. (Plus we all hate each other.)


Mall Drats

"Many major chains find themselves victims of a problem of their own making, having elbowed their way into so many locations that the United States has more retail square footage per capita than any other nation. To use the industry vernacular, they are simply overstored." From WaPo: The troubles at the American mall are coming to a boil.


Welcome Back, Kotter

"In addition to a college acceptance letter, high schools will also accept a military enlistment letter, job offer, job program placement, trade apprenticeship, or a gap-year program placement." Chicago is looking to add another requirement to what it takes to get a diploma. You need to have a plan for after high school. (I seriously hope there's no grandfather clause...)


An Arm and a Leg

"I was interested in how nutritious are we actually? Whenever I talk about the topic, I always get a slight sort of side view from my colleagues." Just in case you're wondering, eating an entire human body would add up to around 125,000 calories during the Paleolithic era. (The key is to try to fill up on the spleen.) From the NYT: Ancient Cannibals Didn't Eat Just for the Calories, Study Suggests.


Bottom of the News

"When JDate launched in the late ‘90s, she got a reputation in her social circle for being a savvy dating-profile writer. Since then, she has helped several friends find their matches online. She started charging for her services almost two years ago, when strangers began asking for her help." Meet the matchmaker who flirts on dating apps for you.

+ "Consider granola: The word used to be a derogatory term. Now it's a supermarket category worth nearly $2 billion a year." From the NYT: The hippies have won.

+ Give Pepsi and Kendall Jenner some credit for doing the impossible. They unified the internet.

+ We're damn sure not going to let NextDraft lose the Webby's people's choice award for best newsletter to a couple of podunk outlets like Buzzfeed and the Washington Post. Come on my people, let's crush them...