Wednesday, March 7th, 2018


California Poppycock

"We are going to fight these irrational, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you and our federal officers. It cannot be that someone who illegally crosses the border and two days later arrives in Sacramento, Dubuque, Louisville, Central Islip, New York is home free, never to be removed. How can that be?" A day after the Trump administration sued the state over its immigrant sanctuary laws, Jeff Sessions started a California Bear knuckle brawl with a series of tough statements.

+ Unsurprisingly, California's leadership plans to fight the suit, and Governor Jerry Brown was unimpressed by the Sessions speech: "We know the Trump administration is full of liars. What Jeff Sessions said is simply not true. I call upon him to apologize to the people of California (for bringing) the mendacity of Washington to California and trying to insert this kind of division and, I might add dysfunctionality, in a state that is really working. Let's build some bridges, not walls."

+ Brown also said that by bringing the suit, the federal government was "basically going to war against the state of California." Here's the latest from the LA Times.

+ Vox: Jeff Sessions's lawsuit against California's sanctuary laws, explained.


Steely Don

"As each new disruption set off waves in the political realm, something totally unexpected happened in the markets: They ignored it. Stocks, already on an eight-year upward march, just kept rising, calmly breaking one record after another." Even after an extremely long boom cycle, the stock market's climb has been impervious to the chaos in DC. Trump won the election. Stocks went up. The investigation into the Russian scandal picks up steam. Up. Pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and threaten to dump NAFTA. Up. Threaten war with North Korea? Up. Make positive comments about starting a trade war. Meh. Gary Cohn leaves. Ho hum. In Politco, Ben White ponders a question that's been running through the minds of many investors: Why Isn't Wall Street Freaking Out About Trump?

+ The New Yorker on the steel tariffs that pushed Gary Cohn over the edge and out the door.

+ WaPo: Canada and Mexico could be spared as Trump is poised to sign steel and aluminum tariffs by week's end


Kim Jong Uncharacteristic

"Say what you will about Little Rocket Man. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is the chief thief of a family-run kleptocracy. Like his father and grandfather, he'll starve his own people to get what he wants. Torture and murder are preferred tools of statecraft. But he ain't stupid." WaPo's David Von Drehle with a very interesting examination of why Kim Jong Un is suddenly talking about peace.

+ If talks really happen, the US will be faced with two immediate questions. One, does America still have a leading role? And two, if the answer is yes, then who do we send to the talks (the State Dept is so depleted, the White House may have to hire a contractor).


Krem Fatale

"Although further details are awaited, the suspicion in Downing Street will be that the Kremlin has attempted another brazen assassination operation on British soil. Moscow will furiously deny involvement, but Theresa May will have to consider how the government might respond should the police and other evidence point to Russia and its multiple spy outfits." The Guardian: Sergei Skripal was deliberately poisoned with nerve agent.


Going the Paper Route

The NYT's Farhad Manjoo took a couple months off from the deluge of digital news. This is what he learned. "I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I'm embarrassed about how much free time I have — in two months, I managed to read half a dozen books, took up pottery and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father." (My own kids know that if they want more of my attention, they just have to do something newsworthy...)


Forward with an Assist

"So for 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else's problem. Sure, I knew on some level that some people benefited from asking for help or opening up. I just never thought it was for me. To me, it was a form of weakness that could derail my success in sports or make me seem weird or different. Then came the panic attack." The Cleveland Cav's Kevin Love in The Player's Tribune: Everyone Is Going Through Something. (It's nice to see that fewer professional athletes have a cavalier attitude about mental health...)


Brick and Mortals

"The bricklayers work with ruthless efficiency, scraping and slathering mortar brick after brick, tamping each down to ensure everything is level. By the end of a single hour, with thousands of spectators watching, they have built a stretch of wall that would be a day's work for a mason building at a normal pace." They're racing against each other. But they're also racing against the future. From the NYT Upshot: Bricklayers Think They're Safe From Robots. Decide for Yourself.


Watching Porn for the Dialogue

"Adult film star Stormy Daniels has filed a civil action against Donald Trump, asking a California court to declare that the nondisclosure agreement between them is not valid because Trump never actually signed it." NBC News: Stormy Daniels didn't sue Trump for money, but for the right to speak out.

+ WaPo: The 7 most interesting aspects of Stormy Daniels's lawsuit against Trump. (The most interesting aspect of the whole story is that, with all the other craziness, we really don't have any time to focus on this...)


Hoop Troop

"What could have happened was this: The bomb could have created a crater eight football fields wide. It could have destroyed every building within 4 miles. It could have killed every human in the open within a diameter of 17 miles." Spoiler alert: That didn't happen. What did happen was this tiny town became the NBA capital of the world. Baxter Holmes in ESPN: America's Basketball Heaven.


Bottom of the News

It's every fear you've ever had about your smart assistant all rolled into one. Alexa devices are spontaneously laughing at people. (It's never happened to me. But then again, I'm a Prime member.)

+ How dumpster fire became an official dictionary entry. (Is there any other way to describe the era?)

+ Headline of the day: Michael B. Jordan fan broke retainer after seeing him shirtless.