Tuesday, September 17th, 2019


Brett Cetera

"We combined our notebooks with our common sense and came to believe an utterly human narrative: that Ford and Ramirez were mistreated by Kavanaugh when he was a teenager, and that Kavanaugh over the next 35 years became a better person. We come to this complicated, seemingly contradictory, and perhaps unsatisfying conclusion based on the facts as we found them." People have been arguing all week about their findings. Let's take a minute and read what they actually wrote. Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin (co-authors of The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: We Spent 10 Months Investigating Kavanaugh. Here's What We Found. (Watching the outtakes of the Kavanaugh hearings over the past couple days has been a reminder of the nonstop, stressful moments we've experienced, obsessed over, and raged about over the past few years. I'm guessing that we're dramatically underestimating the trauma we're incurring and the amount of our own real lives we're missing.)

+ "The White House and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee so roundly constrained the investigation that the two main witnesses themselves were never questioned." In some ways, this story is about a lot more than Brett Kavanaugh (and about more institutions than just the Supreme Court). The always compelling Dahlia Lithwick: The New Kavanaugh Reporting Shows How Far Trump's Control Goes.

+ Meanwhile, the beat goes on (and on, and on). CNN: Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifies.


Gitmo Money

"Set up nearly 18 years ago to house detainees in the war on terrorism, the prison on the remote naval base has grown into what appears to be the most expensive on earth." NYT with an interesting look into some seriously high-priced digs. The Cost of Running Guantánamo Bay: $13 Million Per Prisoner. (That's about what WeWork would need to charge per seat to justify its $47 billion valuation.)


Like Oil and Plotter

CBS News: "The United States has identified the exact locations in Iran from which a combination of more than 20 drones and cruise missiles were launched against Saudi oil facilities over the weekend."

+ "The kingdom's vulnerability is highlighted partly by military technology ... Cheap twenty-first century technology can literally fly under the radar of twentieth-century missile and defense systems—and not get picked up." The New Yorker: In Saudi Arabia, World Oil Supplies Are in Flames.


Teen Idol

"She was the Joan of Arc of climate change, commanding a global army of teenage activists numbering in the millions and waging a rhetorical war against her elders through the unapologetic use of generational shame. The comparison might seem hyperbolic and may come to look even more strained than that, depending on what the future brings for Greta and for climate action. But for the moment, there is simply no other appropriate analogy from political history to draw on in describing just how much she has achieved at such a young age and in so little time." David Wallace-Wells in NY Mag: It's Greta's World. But It's Still Burning. The extraordinary rise of a 16-year-old, and her Hail Mary climate movement.

+ WaPo: Trump administration to revoke California's authority to set stricter auto emissions standards.

+ The silenced: meet the climate whistleblowers muzzled by Trump. (At some point, they won't have enough clear air to whistle...)



"It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are. I'm a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can't be taken away. Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction." After some of his old "racist, homophobic, and misogynistic" comments were dug up, Shane Gillis has been dropped from Saturday Night Live. (Oh well, he can always get into politics...)


Children of the Cornucopia

"The sharp decline in childhood mortality reflects work by governments and international aid groups to fight child poverty and the diseases that are most lethal to poor children: neonatal disorders, pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. But the results are also highly imbalanced. In some places, children's health has improved drastically. In others, many still die very early." NYT Upshot: Almost Everywhere, Fewer Children Are Dying.



"Ask Norman Lear what the past couple of months have been like for him, and he responds with a joke. 'It's been 60 days of waking up,' he says. 'I love that. I love waking up. And I love going to bed too.' But what the legendary producer really relishes is going to work, and at age 97, Lear is enjoying yet another career renaissance." He's 97 and he's got a lot of projects in the pipeline (I'll be surprised if my pipeline even works at that age.) Variety: Norman Lear Won't Stop: TV Legend's Sony Deal Renewal Takes Him to Age 100. (Norman is a great artist and a great guy...)


One Tough Cokie

""It is such a privilege — you have a front seat to history. You do get used to it, and you shouldn't, because it is a very special thing to be able to be in the room ... when all kinds of special things are happening." Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75. (With Cokie Roberts' death, America becomes a little less decent at a moment when it needs all the decency it can get.)


Jew Jitsu

"I believe her comment ‘Jew down' was more in reference to negotiating not ‘I hate Jews.' Inappropriate in today's PC culture absolutely, but to Jew someone down is a verb and is not-anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people." Trenton councilwoman Robin Vaughn claims anti-Semitic slur 'is a verb,' demands leak investigation. (If she's interested, I can get Robin Vaughn a great deal on some diversity training…)


Bottom of the News

"Every good love story has a moment in which the precious ingénue, blind to the complexities of the world, misinterprets the lover's move. Sally mistakes Harry's interest for friendship. Romeo, believing Juliet to be dead, poisons himself. The folly of love is not so much about what we do when we are flooded with feelings, but what can happen when we have incomplete data. This is perhaps why a crop of new apps has arrived, harnessing the powers of artificial intelligence, to offer relationship advice." Wired: Flirty or Friendzone? New AI Scans Your Texts for True Love. (I've been married for a couple decades. At this point, the AI should just scan my texts for errands.)

+ An iPhone 11 Pro Review For Dogs.

+ Premature Dissemination: "Australian firefighters were in for a load of trouble after a fire at a cattle services building caused 100 vats of bull semen to blow early."