Tuesday, February 18th, 2020


Howdy, Pardoner!

I’m on the road with the fam, so ND will arrive at odd times, and maybe not at all, because these days, the news drives me more crazy than my kids do. (And that’s not because my kids have changed.)

Who let the dogs out? Two decades after hearing that question, we finally have our answer. Interestingly, it's the same as the answer to the even older question, who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Donald Trump, that's who. From WaPo: "President Trump on Tuesday used his sweeping presidential pardon powers to wipe away the crimes of a list of boldface names, including disgraced politician Rod R. Blagojevich, convicted junk bond king Michael Milken and former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik." The key to Trump's pardons is the timing: First, if all convictions are political, then his impeachment must be too. Second, the move sends a clear message of protection to those cronies currently (or soon to be) under indictment. And third, aside from his tweets, Trump hadn't done anything supportive of lawlessness in days.

+ The list of pardons is a veritable who's who of WTF. NYT: A Complete List of Trump's Pardons and Commutations Today.

+ From Buzzfeed, an era-defining headline: Trump Has Commuted The Sentence Of Former Illinois Governor (And 'Apprentice' Contestant) Rod Blagojevich. (I'm pretty sure Trump commuted the sentence of Blagojevich because he was running out of free political scumbags to hang out with...)

+ The NY Daily News chooses to focus on the positive: Unity. Revenge of the swamp creatures: Left and right, Trump pardons corruption.

+ Meanwhile, Trump called for Roger Stone to receive a new trial. "The president's latest tweets about the Stone case show he's completely ignored Bill Barr's advice." (I'm sure Bill Barr will resign in protest any second now.)

+ And speaking of Barr, Federal judges' association calls emergency meeting after DOJ intervenes in case of Trump ally Roger Stone. "The unusual concern voiced by the judges' group comes in the wake of an equally unusual protest. More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials called on Barr to resign."


Poorboy Scouts

From NPR: Boy Scouts Of America Files For Bankruptcy As It Faces Hundreds Of Sex-Abuse Claims. "The organization says it will use the Chapter 11 process to create a trust to provide compensation to victims. Scouting programs will continue throughout." (That could be the least effective marketing message of all time. Our childrens programming schedule will not be impacted while we are paying people off for sexually abusing children.)

+ Bloomberg: "The organization isn't broke. In its bankruptcy petition, BSA estimated that it had between $1 billion and $10 billion in assets and less than $1 billion in liabilities. Instead, the Boy Scouts appear to be using bankruptcy to limit the the amount of money it will have to pay to settle its sexual abuse cases." (Moral bankruptcy and financial bankruptcy, together again...)


End of the World as We Blow It

"Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are trying to get out of Syria. Yahya Jamal, 21, was trying to get back in. His father had just died, he said. His family had fled their home under bombardment and were sleeping under the trees. So even though he had smuggled himself into Turkey several months ago, he was going back to Syria to help them. 'There is nowhere to take them," he said, his face white with shock. "It is impossible to find a safe place.'" The NYT's Carlotta Gall at the Turkish border with Syria, on an endless disaster that somehow keeps getting worse. ‘It's Like the End of the World.'


Billionaire Freshener

"This gift is undeniably important. It could, by some estimates, virtually double the amount spent on climate change by American philanthropists today. And it will likely reveal something counterintuitive about the state of global climate action. Even if you believe, as Bezos does, that climate change is 'the greatest threat facing our planet,' spending $10 billion to fight it is still pretty difficult." The Atlantic: Jeff Bezos has pledged more money to battling climate change than anyone ever has before. But where will it go? (I'm thinking $9 billion to ameliorate the cardboard box scourge, and then another billion to spread around.)

+ "If executed, the scale of Bezos's giving would be tremendous. As New York Times climate reporter Brad Plumer notes, 'The UN Green Climate Fund — funded by wealthy governments and meant to be a key vehicle to help developing countries adapt to climate change — is currently at about $9.8 billion.'" NY Mag: Jeff Bezos Pledges $10 Billion to Fight Effects of Climate Change. (And he's promised two generation shipping...)

+ Still need a little nudge to convince climate deniers? Try this headline from Bloomberg: Locust Swarms Ravaging East Africa Are the Size of Cities. (Richard Dawkins thinks that's some biblical shit...)


Tijuana Great Deal?

"The exterior paint of the clinic was peeling and there were bars on the windows. We parked and stared at the clinic silently without getting out of the truck. I'd hoped $2,000 for orthopedic surgery was going to buy us something a little nicer than this." My Journey Through Tijuana for the Best Surgery $2,000 Can Buy.



"Although the average catalog costs about a dollar per copy to produce and ship, compared with pennies per email, Krepsik says that they're particularly effective at prompting large purchases (up to twice as expensive as those made by noncatalog shoppers) and luring back customers after first purchases. Higher receipts and consumer loyalty are exactly what a plucky upstart needs to become a standard-bearer—or for a long-standing business to fight back against Amazon." Amanda Mull in The Atlantic: Why the Restoration Hardware Catalog Won't Die. (You may know these better by their military name: Bunker Busters.)


Teenage of Reason

"These moments feel ripe for connection. Why do they so often turn sour? Almost always, it's because we're not giving teenagers what they're really looking for. Consciously or not, here's what they most likely want." Why Teenagers Reject Parents' Solutions to Their Problems: It's usually because we're not giving them what they're really looking for. (Counterpoint: It's usually because they're a-holes.)


Tylenol In This Together

It adds "to a body of research that shows that acetaminophen dulls emotional pain – potentially because similar brain circuitry is engaged when we feel physical pain. Which leads to the question – if you can use pain medication to deal with emotional pain, does it follow that you should?" There are some signs that suggest Tylenol could be an effective tool to deal with emotional pain.


Mexico Will Pay for the Condoms

From the NYT Weddings: Katie Waldman and Stephen Miller Wed at Trump Hotel. During their first encounter, she said talk dirty to me, and he said, "Hola."


Bottom of the News

"Pospisil lost the match, but he won a war none of us knew we were fighting. Maple syrup, the stuff of endurance athletes and waffle enjoyers, has now been validated as a performance-enhancing tennis food, and the changeover may never be the same." These Boys Get That Syrup In ‘Em.

+ Woman brings mini-service horse onto plane, into first class. (That would be a hell of lot less disruptive than if I brought one of my beagles on board...)

+ And let's end on a positive. RompHim Is Going Out Of Business After Making Male Rompers Go Viral In 2017.