Monday, April 29th, 2019


Corp D’etat

In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin famously wrote "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." While Ben's resume is impressive, he did a poor job of anticipating Amazon. The company paid zero in corporate taxes last year, and they even came out ahead thanks to rebates that can be used in the future. Of course, Amazon is not alone. "For decades, profitable companies have been able to avoid corporate taxes. But the list of those paying zero roughly doubled last year as a result of provisions in President Trump's 2017 tax bill that expanded corporate tax breaks and reduced the tax rate on corporate income." From the NYT: Profitable Giants Like Amazon Pay $0 in Corporate Taxes. Some Voters Are Sick of It. (To add insult to injury, Benjamin Franklin didn't even get free two-day delivery on his letter to Leroy...)

+ "At the core of these hypothetical arguments is the large question of not only how to regulate Facebook but of how to conceptualize an entity that operates largely without meaningful competitors and collects troves of information on more than two billion human beings." Charlie Warzel in the NYT: If a $5 Billion Fine Is Chump Change, How Do You Punish Facebook? (Side question: If Facebook is getting fined billions of dollars for abusing our privacy, shouldn't we be the ones getting the money?)


Control Alt Right

"Experts talk about 'cascading terrorism' when one terrorist draws inspiration from prior acts. Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent and terrorism expert, observed that America "has serious domestic terrorism problem. Imagine any one of these shootings connected ISIS/[al-Qaeda], we'd be talking airstrikes, FBI task forces, [but] instead we get negligence." WaPo's Jennifer Rubin on the weekend shooting at a synagogue in Poway, CA. Coddling white nationalists has deadly consequences.

+ WaPo: As Trump stands by Charlottesville remarks, the rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in 2020 presidential races.


Nut and Bolt

"With Trump's national-security team depleted—no permanent Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of Homeland Security, no Ambassador to the United Nations—Bolton would have extraordinary latitude in a crisis. 'John understands that you have to get the elected leader the approval of the audience that matters ... As long as Trump's base is still applauding, then Bolton can do whatever he wants." We often hear about White House officials who serve as a check on the president's impulses. In the case of national-security adviser John Bolton, the roles are somewhat reversed. The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins: John Bolton on the Warpath. Can Trump's national-security adviser sell the isolationist President on military force?


Mug Shots

"Executives have long suspected this day would come. Separately and together, they've been working on a more environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic-lined, double-walled, plastic-lidded paper cup for more than a decade. It hasn't gone that well." Bloomberg: First They Came for Plastic Bags. Coffee Cups Are Next. To give you an idea of the scope of the issue, Starbucks alone goes through about 6 billion cups a year. (This is one of the several reasons why I usually ask my barrista to deliver my coffee intravenously.)


Claims Adjuster

"This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger." President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims.



"Sabika Sheikh, a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan with dreams of changing the world, struck up an unlikely friendship with an evangelical Christian girl. The two became inseparable—until the day a fellow student opened fire." Texas Monthly: Faith, Friendship, and Tragedy at Santa Fe High.


Raisin Cain

"Mr. Overly said he faced intimidation, harassing phone calls and multiple death threats. With his spouse in the last trimester of a pregnancy, Mr. Overly found a note shoved into a crack of his front door that warned: 'you can't run.'" That was not an excerpt I expected to find in an NYT article about the raisin industry. (Trust me, this is about more than sour grapes.)


One Last Mike Drop

"You are going to find me guilty of campaign finance, with McDougal or Stormy, and give me three years—really? ... And how come I'm the only one? I didn't work for the campaign. I worked for him. And how come I'm the one that's going to prison? I'm not the one that slept with the p-rn star." Jeffrey Toobin sits down with Michael Cohen during his last days of freedom.


Utah Jazz Hands

"I stand before the Lord, my family, my graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God." That's not a line you expect to hear during a college graduation speech. Especially when the college is BYU.


Bottom of the News

There are two reasons I'm not worried about spoling the new Avengers movie for you. First, although I've taken my kids to see just about all of the Marvel movies, I understand little and retain almost nothing. Second, I'm pretty sure you already saw it anyway. Why? Because everyone did. "So far, TheWrap has tallied 144 different box office records that Endgame has broken since tickets first went on sale at the start of April, including advance ticket sales, premium formats, and opening day and weekend records in countries around the world."

+ "When Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel got together to shoot Iron Man in 2007, the two could have been looking in the mirror. They were both down and out and in need of redemption." Now they've created a box office streak few thought was possible. For you kids who don't know Downey Jr's career arc story, let's just say it's had more unbelievable plot turns than any super hero movie. He's fought off demons that make Thanos look like wuss. From his Wikipedia page: "In April 1996, Downey was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded .357 Magnum handgun while he was speeding down Sunset Boulevard. A month later, while on parole, he trespassed into a neighbor's home while under the influence of a controlled substance, and fell asleep in one of the beds."

+ 55 details you may have missed in Avengers: Endgame

+ There are two types of Game of Thrones viewers: 1. What happens next? 2. What just happened? I am in the latter group. But I can tell you this. I don't think I've ever seen more wrap-ups, reviews, and think-pieces about a single episode of TV than today's blanket coverage of the Battle of Winterfell. The Ringer has extensive coverage. You can start there or just open any page on the internet.

+ Wired with a tactical analysis of the Battle of Winterfell. "[This strategy is] particularly ineffective against an endless army of the undead."