Thursday, May 7th, 2020


Shirt Happens

The moment has arrived. The new NextDraft Store is open. Get ready to be the envy of your housemates, to dominate every Zoom conference, and to wow your neighbors (and their pets) with gear that impresses, even from a safe social distance. There's an incredible line-up of shirts and sweatshirts, including the epic Real News Saves Lives bandanna'd logo, and the cool Sticker Shock shirt that looks like a giant, well, sticker. There's also a one dollar sticker pack. And your price is my price. The motivation to move these products is the pure ego-driven neediness that's defined my personal brand for decades. So fly your chic flag and snag some swag.


Shelf Actualization

One of the most disturbing aspects of the pandemic response has been the complete sidelining of the CDC, an organization made for this moment. Have they been silent or silenced? You know the answer. The AP confirms it. "The Trump administration has shelved a document created by the nation's top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places." You can see the document in the article. It's about what you'd expect. And it's exactly what you've been imagining when you wonder why there are no helpful answers to your many questions.

+ This is part of a trend. In Arizona, Doug Ducey's "health department shut down the work of academic experts predicting the peak of the state's coronavirus outbreak was still about two weeks away."

+ "In a way, by doing all this testing we make ourselves look bad." Trump's New Message: Time to Move On to the Economic Recovery.

+ The other part of the strategy: Trump and some top aides question accuracy of virus death toll.

+ Sideline experts, question reality. We know this tune all to well. Meanwhile, as David Wallace-Wells explains, There Is Still No Plan: "Aside from flattening the curve in critical places enough to ease the burden on the health-care system, the country has accomplished essentially none of the necessary preparatory work required to safely begin to reopen and return to some semblance of normal life." Or maybe Jay Rosen got it right: The plan is to have no plan.

+ Sometimes, reality has a way of sneaking up on you. One of Trump's personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus.


Slaughterhouse Jive

"They said, ‘That's only flu, that's only cough. You're fit to work.'" Meatpacking plants have been viral hotspots. North America's largest started outbreak at this Alberta plant. CBC: Inside the slaughterhouse.

+ Meanwhile, in the US, "the country's top health official downplayed concerns over the public health conditions inside meatpacking plants, suggesting on a call with lawmakers that workers were more likely to catch coronavirus based on their social interactions and group living situations." (Next we'll learn that the chickens are responsible for becoming nuggets...)


Rocky Mountain Cloisters

"It felt improbable that the eyes of the global medical community were fixed on a small town near the Idaho border. But this is far from the first time that Rocky Mountain Labs has changed the way the world understands diseases." Charlie Warzel in the NYT: Is the Cure for Covid in the Rocky Mountains?

+ "Halfway through the school year, Myrtis Bradsher found herself paying close attention to a little girl called Kizzy. She always looked sharp, with ribbons knotted to her ponytails and socks that matched every outfit. But it was the way she rushed to help other fourth-graders with classwork that really stood out. 'She had so much knowledge,' the teacher recalled. "She knew something about everything.'" Kizzmekia Corbett spent her life preparing for this moment. Can she create the vaccine to end a pandemic? (And can she avoid the risks associated with being an expert who speaks the truth?)


Jogging Memories

"One shot rings out as Arbery disappears off camera, swerving around the truck. Another shot rings out as Arbery struggles back into frame as yet another shot is heard. Finally, he falls to the ground." Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was on his regular run through Brunswick, Georgia, when he encountered an armed white father and son. There's video of what was basically a human hunting. And, months after the killing, there have been no charges. (This isn't the American normal we were anxious to get back to.)


The Phony Express

"DeJoy will be the first postmaster general in two decades who did not rise through the agency's ranks. He would have to navigate a financially fraught agency while also working with its powerful labor unions, among the last ­public-sector unions left with significant clout in contract negotiations with the government." WaPo: Top Republican fundraiser and Trump ally named postmaster general, giving president new influence over Postal Service.

+ "Brandon Van Grack, who served as one of special counsel Robert Mueller's top lawyers and remained on the Flynn case even after Mueller's office closed down, signaled his exit from the case in a terse, one-sentence filing." Politico: Top prosecutor in Flynn case abruptly withdraws amid Trump attacks.

+ WaPo: "The Justice Department moved to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition."


Dakota Nostra

"When Ed filed for divorce in 2017, Marie discovered that almost all of the couple's property — from the homes and island to her jewelry and even some of their tableware — had been put into a special trust that shielded the assets from any claims. Rather than getting half of a fortune she estimated to be worth more than $2 billion, she may wind up with little or nothing after paying her legal bills." CNBC: Billionaire divorce uncovers secretive world of trusts in South Dakota.


Dropped Briefs

"These are unprecedented times — and live audio broadcasts made sense in the time of coronavirus, when the justices would be hearing cases by phone for the first time in history, they decided. Without cameras rolling, what could go wrong?" Which Supreme Court Justice Flushed the Toilet During Oral Arguments? (Every now and then, a ruling needs to be vacated.)


Feel Good Thursday

"The coronavirus death toll in the United States is climbing past 70,000, with thousands of new cases every day. But there is still one part of the country without a single confirmed case, much less a fatality: American Samoa." (The Samoans in my house find this hard to believe, but let's hope it's true. Malo Lava!)

+ Coronavirus canceled his Mount Everest climb, so this Seattle man will climb his porch steps 5,683 times.

+ Pop-Up Magazine: Best Friends for 74 Years.

+ The Pee-Chee Folder: Illustrated by the Most Interesting Man in the World.


Axl Never Promised You a Rose Garden

In the inevitable mid-pandemic Twitter flame war, Axl Rose classified Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as "officially an asshole." Mnuchin fired back with the question: What have you done for the country lately? For one thing: He rocked. But, why the hate in the first place? The Guns N' Roses discography and album titles easily double as a soundtrack for the Trump reign. It only takes a quick listen to realize that, in addition to rocking the absolute shit out of his country, Axl, Slash and the boys basically created the ulimate Covfefe Oeuvre. Allow me to show you. Axl Never Promised You a Rose Garden.