Thursday, October 3rd, 2019


Trumping the Shark

For a guy producing the ultimate made-for-TV presidency, it's a little shocking that Donald Trump just spoiled the season's most intriguing cliffhanger. After he and his defenders spent the week deflecting and denying charges that he made an impeachably-inappropriate request of the Ukrainian president, Trump made the same request publicly, in front of TV cameras. (And he didn't even say, "spoiler alert" before doing so.") To hammer home the point, Trump also asked China to get in on the fun. AP: Not just Ukraine, Trump now calls for China to probe Bidens. It'll be difficult to blame the whistleblower when the latest leak came right from the president's own pie-hole. Normalize that.

+ David Graham: The president's new strategy for fighting impeachment? Raise the cost of the proceedings higher than Democrats are willing to pay. (To paraphrase Mastercard, some things are priceless.)

+ Will the committing of an impeachable offense on camera cause Trump's supporters to lose their enthusiasm? It's unlikely. Why? Because they've gotten so used to not listening to him. Adam Serwer on The Mad King's Enablers. "American democracy rests on the willingness of bureaucrats to ignore the commands of their democratically elected chief executive."

+ "Mitt Romney has some explaining to do — answering for ties to the Ukrainian gas company that put Joe Biden's son on its board, and accounting for conversations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about Republican support for impeaching President Trump.
In reality, neither claim is true" WaPo: How Republicans who speak out against Trump become targets of viral disinformation. (If this were a college course, it would be called Putin 101.)

+ Trump finally offended Twitter to the point that they were forced to act. He posted a Nickleback video.


Even Audits

"Congress asked the IRS to report on why it audits the poor more than the affluent. Its response is that it doesn't have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly. So it's not going to." ProPublica: IRS: Sorry, but It's Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor. "The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%."


MGM 16

"The killer, Stephen Paddock, holed up inside his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, which MGM owns, and then fired into the crowd at a country music festival below. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history." NYT: MGM Agrees to Pay Las Vegas Shooting Victims Up to $800 Million. (Because we know it's not the guns that kill people, it's the hotels...)

+ "They do work that most of us would find unbearable: examining and collecting dead bodies, notifying families of the newly deceased, assisting with autopsies. Coroners are often depicted as frumpy gray-haired men, antisocial and drawn to the dead because of some reluctance to connect to the living. But the field is now overwhelmingly female—in Clark County, well over 85 percent of the employees are women. The death examiners I've met are charming, sociable, and motivated by a deep sense of empathy." GQ's Ann Givens on the death investigators who witnessed the atrocities of the Vegas shooting, then had to grapple with the difficult task of healing themselves: Everything That You're Feeling Is Okay.


U Haul

"Some of the donations arrived before recent lawsuits blaming Purdue Pharma for its role in the opioid crisis. But at least nine schools accepted gifts in 2018 or later, when states and counties across the country began efforts to hold members of the family accountable for Purdue's actions. The largest gifts in that span went to Imperial College London, the University of Sussex and Yale University." AP: Colleges got millions from opioid maker owners. "Prestigious universities around the world have accepted at least $60 million over the past five years from" the Sackler family. (This is the opposite of being well endowed.)

+ The Guardian: Doctor gets 40 years in prison for prescribing over 500,000 opioid doses. (So the street dealer gets 40 years in the can and the cartel bosses get their name on a university lecture hall...)


Quit Stalling

"About 1 in 4 adults age 65 and older is now in the workforce. That number is expected to increase, making it the fastest-growing group of workers in the country." NPR: The New Realities Of Work And Retirement. (Full disclosure: I've got enough headline puns to last me until I'm about 80, but then I'm out.)


Imposter Syndrome

"A BuzzFeed News investigation — based on an analysis of millions of comments, along with court records, business filings, and interviews with dozens of people — offers a window into how a crucial democratic process was skewed by one of the most prolific uses of political impersonation in US history." Millions of comments were posted in opposition to seemingly popular Net Neutrality laws. What explains the disconnect? The comments were fake. Buzzfeed: The Impersonators. "Annie Reeves ... barely knew her way around the web, let alone held strident views on how it should be regulated ... But Sarah Reeves had a more conclusive reason to feel sure her mother's name had been taken in vain: Annie Reeves was dead."


Twin Engine Planes

"The leading theory for the trend reversal is that fertility treatments — generally thought to have caused the twin boom in the first place — have gotten more sophisticated." NPR: Twin Birthrate Drops For First Time Since The '80s.


Brothers in Arms

"The younger brother of Botham Jean, who was shot and killed by Amber Guyger in his own apartment, hugged the former Dallas police officer and offered his forgiveness after a jury sentenced her to 10 years in prison Wednesday. 'If you truly are sorry — I know I can speak for myself — I forgive you,' Brandt Jean said in court. 'I love you as a person and I don't wish anything bad on you.' He then walked over to Guyger, 31, and embraced her as she cried in his arms." If you need a reminder that all public grace has not been lost, make sure you watch this.


They Like to (Over)Watch

"'This game is my life,' said Ms. Papagni, a 20-year-old from Newark who was dressed as D.Va, an Overwatch character who fights in a mechanical exoskeleton ... Like many of the 12,000 fans who converged at the sold-out tournament to see the San Francisco Shock take on the Vancouver Titans, Ms. Papagni was drawn to the game because of its inclusionary nature and ease of entry." And those factors are drawing big crowds to e-sports competitions. The NYT takes you to The Overwatch League Grand Finals at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.


Bottom of the News

"Some of these 'quirkier' records include bottle flipping, gravy wrestling, and dinosaur flash mobs, while records like 'most drumbeats with a prosthetic arm' and 'largest humanoid vehicle' shine a light on how new technologies are expanding human potential." 19 of The Most Bizarre World Records You Never Knew Existed.

+ World championship 'crotch cams' rolled back after athletes' complaints.

+ Is Donald Trump Really Just Andy Kaufman in Disguise? An Investigation. (If Donald Trump were president, Latka Gravas never would have been let into the country.)