Wednesday, March 4th, 2020


OK, Boomerang

Joe Biden's campaign was on the fritz. So someone unplugged it and plugged it back in. It worked. During the next 72 hours, Biden's campaign went from dead in the water to delegate leader, as three former rivals dropped out and endorsed him, helping him to surge to one of the most surprising comebacks in recent political history. The former Dem free-for-all has turned into a two man race. For Biden, the turnaround was a classic case of better late than never. "Biden's strength among late-deciding voters was further evidence of his stunning turnaround since the Nevada caucuses — rising from a distant second to Sen. Bernie Sanders and competing with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the race's front-runner." FiveThirtyEight: Biden Won Super Tuesday Because He Won Voters Who Decided Late.

+ Bern Notice: Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: "The evening's clearest message was that while the senator from Vermont has inspired a passionate depth of support, the breadth of his coalition remains too limited to win the nomination." Bernie Sanders Gets a Rude Awakening.

+ Biden also won a new endorser, one with particularly deep pockets. Mike Bloomberg is suspending his presidential campaign, says he's endorsing Biden. "We have long-term leases and long-term contracts with the team and the intention was always to put this big machine we have built behind whoever the nominee is."

+ NY Mag: "Malfunctioning technology, higher-than-expected voter turnout, and recently closed polling places were blamed for extensive delays and hours-long lines for voters in California and Texas." Some Super Tuesday Lines Were So Long Voters Cast Their Ballot Wednesday. (No American should have to wait more than a few minutes to vote. A couple centuries should have been enough to work out the kinks.)

+ Super Bruise Day: Jill Biden's epic tussle: In split-second blocking maneuver, she protects husband from lunging vegans.


Rental Disorder

"Strategic Acquisitions was but one of several companies in Los Angeles County, and one of dozens in the United States, that hit on the same idea after the financial crisis: load up on foreclosed properties at a discount of 30 to 50 percent and rent them out. Rather than protecting communities and making it easy for homeowners to restructure bad mortgages or repair their credit after succumbing to predatory loans, the government facilitated the transfer of wealth from people to private-equity firms." NYT Magazine: The Great Wall Street Housing Grab.

+ Aaron Glantz and the great team at Reveal have been all over this story for a long time. Catch up here, and grab a copy of Aaron's book: Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream.


Numb and Number

"Preparing for a sizable outbreak seemed absurd when there were fewer than 20 cases on American soil. Now we know that the disease was already spreading and that it was the U.S. response that was stalled." Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic: The Official Coronavirus Numbers Are Wrong, and Everyone Knows It.

+ In the Seattle area, people already know the official national numbers are a farce, especially inside the Life Care nursing center in Kirkland. NYT: "The news that two people from the center died of coronavirus days before officials identified the emerging crisis suggested that the virus had been circulating inside the facility even longer than had been understood." From NBC: The Trump administration last year moved to roll back regulations aimed at preventing infections from spreading in nursing homes. And, the administration cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs. But, of course, Trump is blaming Obama for the botched federal government response. (I need a facemask for reading the news.)

+ "All sporting events in Italy will be played sans fans until April 3 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak." And James Bond producers will delay the latest edition for several months. Apparently, it's No Time to Die at the box office.

+ Here's the latest on the virus from CNN.


Text Mess Age

"That text message was generated using one of a new breed of peer-to-peer texting apps that exploit a gap in communications law to hit up your phone without your permission. They allow campaign volunteers to send a large numbers of texts to voters one at a time. The apps were a novelty in 2016, a staple in 2018, and will be indispensable for campaigns at all levels in 2020, with over a billion such texts expected to be sent by both Republican and Democratic candidates." FastCo: Inside the 2020 campaign messaging war that's pelting our phones with texts. (The question is whether or not these texts, that I'm guessing make you angry, will ultimately have a paradoxical effect.)


Bin There, Done That

"The thirteen thousand tons of food waste produced daily in South Korea now become one of three things: compost (thirty per cent), animal feed (sixty per cent), or biofuel (ten per cent)." The New Yorker on How South Korea Is Composting Its Way to Sustainability. "Automated bins, rooftop farms, and underground mushroom-growing help clean up the mess." (This story is both one about an amazing transformation and one about the vital need to address this issue across the globe.)


The Shart of the Deal

"After a period of calm leading up to the deal, the Afghan government said the Taliban subsequently launched 76 attacks across 24 provinces (of 34) prompting the U.S. to bomb Taliban fighters in Helmand, the first American airstrike in 11 days." Taliban Launches Dozens of Attacks in Afghanistan After Striking Deal With U.S. to Withdraw Troops.

+ NYT: Iran Crosses a Key Threshold: It Again Has Sufficient Fuel for a Bomb.


Tennesse Titans

"This music community is strong and that is felt nowhere more closely than in Nashville. We saw this with the flood of 2010 and you can feel it again now: This city will lift one another up and come back stronger through it all." NPR: Deadly Tornado Leaves Nashville's Music Community Reeling – And Sticking Together.

+ InFocus: Photos of the tornado damage in Tennessee.


Horrors D’oeuvre

"A perfect storm of variables, many of which have little to do with food, has already changed restaurant culture—and the coming decade may make the current disarray look like nothing." The American restaurant is on life support. (One assumes self-quarantining isn't going to make matters any better.)


Pack Rat

"Monahan says they just don't understand him or crowdfunding, in general. He's not a bad guy, he says. It's just that businesses fail sometimes, which is what he invited me to Texas to prove. Poking at Monahan's past, however, suggests this isn't a man with a one-time flub, but rather someone with a trail of failures. Is he a con-artist? An irresponsible businessman? Does the difference even matter?" The Verge: This Backpack Has It All: Kevlar, Batteries, and a Federal Investigation.


Bottom of the News

"Performer Little Squirtles skips into her front door, kicks off her shoes, and shouts, 'Daddy, I'm home! And so horny.' Her partner Chase Poundher emerges from the hallway wearing a face mask, his hand stuck out to stop her. 'Wait, don't you move a foot closer. Haven't you heard of COVID-19?'" Vice: Coronavirus P-rn Is Going Viral.

+ 8-year-old boy wins $200 worth of cannabis products at hockey tournament.