Tuesday, May 21st, 2019


Subpoena Colada

A subpoena is defined as "a writ ordering a person to attend a court." But apparently that definition is not writ large to everyone. Former White Houser lawyer Don McGahn is the latest Trump official to skip out on a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Jerrold Nadler held the hearings, leaving out an empty chair for its star witness, and explained: "Our subpoenas are not optional." The question is what the Democrats can and will do in the face of delay tactics, stonewalling, and subpoena subjugation. From AP: McGahn defies subpoena for testimony, faces contempt vote.

+ Here's the latest on the McGahn no-show.

+ In other stonewalling news, "a federal judge in Washington, D.C. declined to block a House subpoena to President Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his financial records on Monday." From Judge Amit Mehta: "It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct." The case has been appealed. Next stop, Merrick Garland's court...

+ Meanwhile, the special counsel's team is hesitant about Robert Mueller testifying publicly, because "Mueller does not want to appear political after staying behind the scenes for two years." (There's still one truth that is self evident: Everything is political.)


Healers and Heels

"These are the caregivers working in board-and-care homes across the United States. Many are poor immigrants earning about $2 to $3.50 an hour to work arduous hours, while their employers earn healthy profits from their labor." Another blistering investigative report from the excellent folks at Reveal: Caregivers and takers. "It's a classic tale of human greed. Their entire business model is predicated on not making payroll."


Everything Old Is New Again

"The European Union, which was created to temper those impulses, was ascendant. Jews felt more secure, Königsberg told me: 'We unpacked the suitcase and stored it in the cellar.' Now, he believed, that sense of security has eroded. People aren't heading for the exits yet, he said, but they are starting to think, Where did I put that suitcase?" James Angelos in the NYT Mag: The New German Anti-Semitism.


The Signs of Leo

"Now, rather than continuing to chip away at abortion access, some anti-abortion advocates want to bring a case to the Supreme Court that could lead to the overturning of Roe and allow states to ban abortion completely — a goal that seems possible for the first time in decades because of a new five-justice conservative majority on the Supreme Court." FiveThirtyEight: Here's Why The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Escalating.

+ To understand today's abortion fight, you have to understand the state of the courts. And to understand the current state of the courts, you need to know Leonard Leo. "The story of Leo's rise offers an inside look into the modern machinery of political persuasion. It shows how undisclosed interests outside of government are harnessing the nation's nonprofit system to influence judicial appointments that will shape the nation for decades." WaPo: A conservative activist's behind-the-scenes campaign to remake the nation's courts. (Story includes a short documentary.)


Survivor’s Gilt

"When Mark Olmsted contracted HIV, in the early 1980s, he figured the disease was a death sentence. And so he hatched a scheme to live out his last years in style—swiping credit cards, bilking insurance companies, even faking his own death. What's the problem with some forgery, fraud, and crystal meth if you'll soon be gone? A better question might have been: What the hell happens if you survive?" Nathaniel Penn in GQ: The Curious Cons of the Man Who Wouldn't Die.


Uncivil War

"The general point that people misunderstand about the laws of wars: that they really have their origins in military discipline, that militaries around the world recognized the need to have constraints on soldiers for the sake of having a well-run military. And so it's usually in the military's interest for service personnel to be constrained in the way that they are. I would imagine that many military commanders are unhappy about this move." The New Yorker: A Philosopher of Law on the Dangers of Trump's Plan to Pardon American War Criminals.

+ The Fox & Friends co-host who's been privately lobbying Trump to pardon war criminals.


Huawei Laid

"The decisions by the US government are, in part, the result of an escalating trade war between the US and China. But they also tie into longstanding concerns about potential spying by Huawei and other national security threats." Vox with an explainer about the world's most embattled corporation. The US government's battle with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, explained.


Even Teachers Hate This Math

"Under the California Education Code, teachers get 10 sick days a year, after which they receive 100 days of extended sick leave. It's during this latter period that the cost of a substitute teacher is deducted from their salary." NPR explains how some California teachers can end up paying for their own substitutes.


Filet of Soul

"The 'Save Chick-fil-A' bill explicitly forbids the government from taking 'any adverse action,' against any person, contractor or business for its membership in or affiliation with a religious organization." WaPo: Texas Republicans pass a ‘Chick-fil-A' bill. LGBT advocates are up in arms.

+ Buzzfeed: "Alabama Public Television is refusing to air a recent episode of Arthur featuring a same-sex wedding because it would 'violate' their audience's trust." (The culture wars are back. And they're as ridiculous as ever...)


Bottom of the News

"Their mothers are so keen for them to father children that they usher them in front of promising partners, shield them from violent competitors and dash the chances of other males by charging them while they are at it. For a bonobo mother, it is all part of the parenting day, and analysis finds the hard work pays off. Males of the species that live with their mothers are three times more likely to father offspring than those whose mothers are absent." The Guardian: Pushy bonobo mothers help sons find sexual partners.

+ GQ: Seth Rogen and the Science of Rogenomics. "He's still getting high. He's still making us laugh. But he's kinda running Hollywood now, too." (At least I scored well on two out of three...)

+ New Coke is going to make a brief comeback.

+ The surprising benefits of singing at work. (This one goes out to Radio Madison.)