Friday, September 27th, 2019


Do You Wanna Go Faster?

Note: NextDraft is off on Monday for Rosh Hashanah. Please help me sweeten the New Year in today's Feel Good Friday section...

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing cable news... The county fair I used to go to as kid featured a roller coaster that went around in a circle as the Carny at the controls yelled through a staticky microphone, "Do you wanna go faster?" As with today's hyperspeed (and hypernuts) news cycle, it had little impact when I screamed, "No!" Today's news consumers already had to keep up with what was out in the open, and now the stuff that was covered up is being added to the mix. Like many of the elements of the whistleblower's complaint, the coverup story is being confirmed. From AP: "A senior administration official acknowledged that the rough transcript of Trump's July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council at the direction of attorneys." And from WaPo: The effort to shield Trump's call with Ukrainian leader was part of broader secrecy effort. (I wouldn't have used the word effort twice in one headline, but I view this as more evidence that the current news cycle that has overwhelmed everyone. At this point, the 2020 election could come down to a simple question: Which candidate would you rather have a Xanax with?)

+ Even Fox News has been thrown off track. Vanity Fair's Gabe Sherman on a Trump identity crisis at Fox.

+ "Could impeachment still backfire? I asked. 'It doesn't matter,' she said. 'We handled this with such care. It isn't like we ran into this. He has taken us to this place.'" The New Yorker's David Remnick talks to the Speaker about the week that changed everything. Nancy Pelosi: An Extremely Stable Genius.

+ Trump is determined to find and punish the leakers. But the most damning information so far is the call summary he released himself. That fact won't alter what has become a familiar theme of the victim in the bully pulpit. McCay Coppins in The Atlantic: Victimhood is at the core of the president's identity—and it's likely to shape his approach to the coming battle. In the meantime, there will be tweets. And they will be weird.

+ Recent history has shown how Trump will play the crisis. What about Rudy? "It is impossible that the whistle-blower is a hero and I'm not. And I will be the hero! These morons—when this is over, I will be the hero." (I'd take that bet...)

+ I could go on, but I'm late for a News Curators Anonymous meeting. So here's the latest from CNN and WaPo.


Scars and Stripes

"Asked about the deaths in the crew of the aircraft carrier, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, 'I wish I could tell you we have an answer to prevent further, future suicides in the Armed Services. We don't. We are caught up in what some call a national epidemic of suicide among our youth.'" NBC News: Military suicides reach record high among active duty members. (I've long wondered whether this increase could be related to an increased use of psychopharmaceuticals which are often associated with suicidal ideation.)


Weekend Whats

What to Hear: It's not clear whether you can still label Sturgill Simpson's music Country. And from the opening guitar riffs on his latest album, to a song called, Make Art Not Friends, I'm pretty sure he doesn't care what you label it. That seems like the right attitude, and this seems like a killer (and aptly named) new album: The Sound and the Fury. (It even comes with a trippy animated Netflix movie.)

+ What to Book: "Every paragraph of this book will make you laugh, but it will also (I promise) change the way you think. Joel has written a brilliant exploration of the supposed divide between elites and populists, cleverly disguised as a humorous personal excursion." That's Walter Isaacson on the excellent Joel Stein's much-anticipated book: In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You're Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book. Maybe Andy Borowitz put it even better: "With this indispensable book, Joel Stein firmly establishes himself as the Ted Nugent of elitism." (Full disclosure. Joel Stein is a friend of mine. That said, I still hope his book sells well.)

+ What to Watch: Woody Harrelson is the host and Billie Eilish is the musical guest as SNL returns for it's billionth season (I'm rounding up, but not by much).


I Think I Cannabidiol

"Scientists believe CBD is doing something to alleviate chronic pain and inflammation, but what exactly that is, and what the proper doses or best delivery methods are, remain a mystery. 'Large numbers of people are seeing anecdotal benefits, so there's something there,' says Jeffrey Raber, a chemist and CEO of the Werc Shop, a cannabis lab in California. 'I don't think we're very close to having figured it out yet.'" Wired: Lots of Athletes Say CBD Is a Better Painkiller. Is It?


Haven Can Wait

"President Trump has decided to slash the American refugee program by almost half, greatly dimming the United States' role in accepting persecuted refugees from most parts of the world." NYT: Trump Slashes Refugee Cap to 18,000, Curtailing U.S. Role as Haven.


This Tea Bagging Story is Nuts

"Most teabags are made from paper, with a small amount of plastic used to seal them shut. But some premium brands have switched to using greater amounts of plastic mesh for their product instead. This is usually so that the tea bag is held in a pyramid shape, which producers claim helps the tea leaves infuse better." BBC: Microplastics: Premium teabags leak billions of particles. (I'm not sure how accurate this study is, but I wanted to use the headline and besides, I drink coffee...)


Road Warriors

The NYT with a political story that won't make you sick to your stomach. This Politician Lives in His Mom's Basement and He's Campaigning on It. "Josh Lafazan is one of the youngest legislators in New York. His interns — some of them only 12 years old — are part of his youth movement ... Mr. Lafazan, a registered Independent and self-described 'hyper-local' politician, is staying put in Woodbury, Long Island, where he is running for re-election. 'Potholes are not partisan,' he said. 'There is no Republican or Democratic way to pave a road.'" (That reminds me. Isn't this Infrastructure Week?)


Adam Raised a Cain

"The old business model, in case it's not obvious from this McKinsey-ified chart, had been to make stupid graphics to show investors in hopes that they give ex-CEO Adam Neumann more money. The new business model will be to beg investors to give money to the new co-CEOs, who will radically change the company by wearing suits to investor presentations instead of ill-fitting t-shirts." Matt Stoller: WeWork and Counterfeit Capitalism.

+ Does it make you feel any better that WeWork's plan for a brighter financial future includes firing nearly 20 of Neumann's family and friends and selling his $60 million private jet?



"The Shane Gillis controversy ... has become a flashpoint revealing a deep and widening rift in the comedy world. Like every other aspect of American life in the Trump era, stand-up is turning polarized, pitting comic against comic in an escalating civil war over what's acceptable humor and what's unfunny hate speech." The Hollywood Reporter: Comedy's Civil War: How an 'SNL' Firing Exposed a Growing Rift in Stand-Up. (It will be interesting to see if/how SNL deals with this issue this weekend...)

+ NYT: Eddie Murphy Is Bringing Eddie Murphy Back.


Feel Good Friday

I'm gonna kick off this week's Feel Good Friday with a call to action. My friend Kara Parsons was a tireless advocate for those fighting cancer and one of Swim Across America's top fundraisers. Earlier this year, Kara lost her own battle with the disease. Her husband John (who is a great guy, but not a swimmer) decided to fill in for Kara at this year's event. He's been training in the SF Bay for months and, like Kara, he's near the top of the fundraising list. Kara was a force for good in my community and beyond, the Parsons are a great family, Swim Across America is a great organization, and Facebook users can donate with one click. I'd really appreciate it if you took a few seconds to support this cause.

+ This hero airman saved a child's life on the way to pick up an award for doing a bunch of other heroic things. "Kenneth O'Brien was named one of the '2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year' after serving as a member of the president's security detail during one of the historic summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saving a civilian from a burning vehicle in Korea, helping rescue a group of Thai soccer players trapped in a cave, and saving the life of a Thai Navy SEAL."

+ He won the lottery twice in four months — so why does he still live in a trailer?

+ Fresh wave of climate strikes takes place around the world.

+ NPR: Mattel Launches New Gender-Neutral Dolls.

+ The Cat With a Campus Wrapped Around His Paw.

+ Teacher carries student with spina bifida on back so she can enjoy field trip.

+ A Houston mattress salesman again turns his showroom into a refuge for flood victims.

+ Jewish and Arab Astronauts Head To Space Together. (Just don't send Jared with them...)