Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020


The Tear Gas of a Clown

The Bible. A Church. Religion. The First Amendment. The Presidency. The Military. America. All these and more were desecrated in the course of a few minutes as President Trump ordered the teargassing of peaceful protesters outside The People's House to set the scene for him to chickenhawk another divisive message before strolling from the Rose Garden to St Johns, and to a new a low in a presidency the naively optimistic keep thinking has already hit bottom. NYT: Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church. Mariann E. Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, on the president posing in front of her church, with a bible raised in the air: "I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop ... Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence. We need moral leadership, and he's done everything to divide us." (Has Trump ever cracked open a bible or spent a Sunday at St John's? It would have been more authentic if he held up a seven iron.)

+ "The president had staged an elaborate photo op, using a Bible awkwardly held aloft as a prop and a historic church that has long welcomed presidents and their families as a backdrop." Inside the push to tear-gas protesters ahead of a Trump photo op. (I photoshopped the image of Trump to give him a more appropriate book.)

+ Thomas Wright in The Atlantic: "We began with the axis of adults that imperfectly constrained him. We then entered the age of hubris and action during which he systematically rid himself of the adults and was free to follow his whims. The third phase was the reckoning as he began to bump up against the contradictions of his own approach, on China and Iran in particular. Now we have finally arrived at the long-feared crisis and unraveling."

+ David Rothkopf: "The state of the union is deplorable, and all signs suggest things are going to get worse, perhaps much much worse, before they get better."

+ Biden: "The presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won't either. But I promise you this. I won't traffic in fear and division. I won't fan the flames of hate."


Accessories to the Climb

At the GOP convention, Trump famously proclaimed, "I alone can fix it." The truth is that a president can't do much of anything alone. Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic with today's must-read: History Will Judge the Complicit. "First Trump's enablers accepted lies about the inauguration; now they accept terrible tragedy and the loss of American leadership in the world. Worse could follow." Why have so many sold their souls for this president? Applebaum lists the many reasons, including the most basic: "For those who have never experienced it, the mystical pull of that connection to power, that feeling of being an insider, is difficult to explain. Nevertheless, it is real, and strong enough to affect even the highest-ranking, best-known, most influential people in America."

+ The least surprising headline of the day: Top Republican senators defend Trump's church photo-op after peaceful protesters cleared out.

+ McCay Coppins: The Christians Who Loved Trump's Stunt.


Flames and Extinguishers

Another night of mostly peaceful protests were marred by looting, and yes, shooting, as several police officers were shot. Reuters: Tensions rise in U.S. cities after police shot. But there have also been moments of remarkable unity. Police officers are joining protesters for prayers and hugs in several US cities. In Lubbock, police and protesters joined together for a Silent Solidarity Walk. A protester asked the Tennessee National Guard to lay down their riot shields. They did. BBC: Uplifting moments from peaceful protests. And from Buzzfeed: 27 Powerful Moments Of Hope During The Protests.

+ Spike Lee: "I've been very encouraged by the diversity of the protesters. I haven't seen this diverse protests since when I was a kid. I'm encouraged that my white sisters and brothers are out there."

+ No one knows more about the relationship of black Americans and the legal system than Bryan Stevenson. He talked to The New Yorker about The Frustration Behind the George Floyd Protests: "To be honest, it's not that hard to protest. It's not that hard to go someplace. And it doesn't mean that it's not important. It doesn't mean that it's not critical. But that's not the hard thing we need from people who care about these issues. We need people to vote, we need people to engage in policy reform and political reform, we need people to not tolerate the rhetoric of fear and anger that so many of our elected officials use to sustain power."


Wrap Battle

"I'm trying to understand why wearing a mask — which is meant only to protect the most vulnerable among us and slow the spread of the virus to everyone else — has become the political equivalent of wearing a bumper sticker on your face. It makes me weep to think about it: Our one ready-to-hand tool for getting this country back to normal as quickly and as safely as possible has become yet another symbol of the seemingly insurmountable schism between Americans. It's enough to break a true patriot's heart." Margaret Renkl in the NYT: What It's Like to Wear a Mask in the South.

+ Masks, along with physical distancing and eye protection, are the three of the most recommended practices to protect individuals.

+ Need a cool mask to show your colors. We've got NextDraft masks and they look so good, even the naysayers will want to wear one.


Canada’s Double Standard

"Some Canadian provinces have begun allowing people to form 'double bubbles.' That means two households can now make a pact to hang out with — and even hug — each other, so long as they agree to stay distanced from everyone else. The hope is that doubling the family bubble will reduce isolation and its toll on mental health, while also helping with things like child care. This is meant to be an intermediate step before opening up further." (Maybe it's just me, but the last thing I need at this point of the quarantine is another family in my bubble.)

+ Yes, though it's hard to remember this week, we're still in the middle of global health crisis: Nearly 26,000 Nursing Home Residents Have Died From COVID-19.

+ China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO.


The Sounds of Silence

The music industry is observing a 'blackout day' and a day of silence for George Floyd. I appreciate the spirit of this effort, but doesn't it seem like we've had enough silence from musical artists over the past three years? Where is the protest music? I'm constantly reminded of this line from Bruce Springsteen's Jungleland: "The poets down here don't write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be."


Uncommon Stock Trades

"Even as critics accused Moderna of overhyping the results released on May 18, a series of transactions were executed before its share price fizzled over the next week. The timing of those deals, former SEC officials said, appear to be 'highly problematic' and should be investigated for potential illegal market manipulation." And Gilead trades that made millions on COVID-19 drug news raise eyebrows. (While eyebrows are up, I'd love for someone to take a look at who benefited financially from the Hydroxychloroquine hype.)


In Deep

"There's a whole city's worth of stuff underneath the White House and other government buildings in and around Washington, D.C. But what exactly do we know about the bunker." Popular Mechanics: President Trump retreated underground amid Washington, D.C. protests. But how far down did he actually go? (They mean physically, not ethically.)


Let’s Spend the Night Together

"The greater the degree of synchrony, the study found, the more the audience enjoys the performance. This result offers insight into the nature of musical exchanges and demonstrates that the musical experience runs deep: we dance and feel the same emotions together, and our neurons fire together as well." Music Synchronizes the Brains of Performers and Their Audience. (I'd rather synchronize with the performer's brain during the after party...)


Feel Good Tuesday

"Welcome to the madcap world of competitive marble racing, which you might describe as a spoof sport were it not, to its growing number of fans, so very serious." Lack of sports drives fans to madcap world of marble racing.

+ Two local teens grocery shopped for their grandparents. Soon it became a national volunteer effort.

+ The winners of The International Photography Awards are here and they're gorgeous.

+ Where were they when Canadians needed them most? I don't know. But, Cool Ranch Doritos are back.