Wednesday, June 17th, 2020


The Zoom Where It Happened

The first excerpts from John Bolton's controversial and much-awaited book on Trump are coming out. So far, nothing seems that surprising. Trump serially committed impeachable offenses, is mocked, even by those in the White House, and knows almost nothing about the world which he oversees ("Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain is a nuclear power and asked if Finland is part of Russia."). We already know this. We've seen it and much worse for years. Bolton's book is titled The Room Where it Happened. What happened in that room is that self-serving, power hungry enablers like Bolton sat back and let a madman humiliate America, destroy norms, and endanger democracy—saving the urgent truth for a moment when it could impact book sales. One person should buy one copy of Bolton's book and read it to America over Zoom.

+ WaPo: Trump asked China's Xi to help him win reelection, according to Bolton book. (Reminder: Trump asked China for help winning the election on camera.) There are many more terrible details in the book; actions that will damage America for a very long time. All of them are perfectly believable.


Black and Blue

"The same hell that black people were experiencing on the streets, we were experiencing inside the department." For Black Police, Discrimination Abounds, Complicating Reform Efforts.

+ "I'm not blind to the issues, but I'm torn. As I'm standing there with my riot helmet and being called a ‘coon,' people have no idea that I identify with them. I understand them. I'm here for them. I've been trying to be here as a change agent." NYT: How Black N.Y.P.D. Officers Really Feel About the Floyd Protesters.

+ The Atlanta officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in the back has been charged with murder.


Surfin’ USA

If you're wondering if and when the second wave of the pandemic will hit, you may be getting a bit ahead of the story. The question currently on the table: When will the current wave end? Because we're still riding that wave, and it's still gnarly, dude. "If things stay basically status quo and we continue doing what we're doing, we're going to continue seeing 25,000 to 30,000 additional deaths a month for the foreseeable future." NPR: Coronavirus 2nd Wave? Nope, The U.S. Is Still Stuck In The 1st One.

+ "I think we were careless and we went out into a public place when we should not have. I think we had a whole 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. The state opens back up and said everybody was fine, so we took advantage of that." A Woman And 15 Of Her Friends Have The Coronavirus After One Night Out.

+ Oregon Reports 278 New COVID-19 Cases, Another Record, as Outbreak at Pentecostal Church Ravages Union County.

+ Six states reported record increases in cases, including Texas, Nevada and Oregon. Texas coronavirus hospitalizations surged 11% in a single day. Arizona is on the rise and so is Oklahoma, site of this weekend's indoor arena Trump rally. And later this month, VP Pence plans to to Visit Texas for ‘Freedom' Event at Megachurch. (Freedom from what? Reality?)

+ New Beijing outbreak raises virus fears for rest of world.

+ "Seoul's continued difficulty in controlling new outbreaks demonstrates that governments need a persistent state of vigilance and a willingness to change tack as they attempt to reopen their societies — a state of affairs that many people could find every bit as difficult as the lockdown itself." A warning from South Korea: the ‘fantasy' of returning to normal life. (And their government is throwing everything they have at the problem while ours is pretending there is no problem.)

+ Remember the N95 mask shortage? It's still a problem.


Heavyweight Bout

"Both countries and their nationalist leaders, President Xi Jinping of China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, have taken increasingly assertive postures that pose real risks of the conflict spinning out of control. 'Neither PM Modi or President Xi want a war, but neither can relinquish their territorial claims either.'" NYT: Worst Clash in Decades on Disputed India-China Border Kills 20 Indian Troops. (I think I speak for most of the free world when I say, "Guys, seriously, not now.")

+ "'No shots fired for 45 years, and then at least 20 soldiers dead in one evening in rock-throwing and bludgeoning.' The clash comes amid fresh tensions between the two powers, which have brawled along the border in recent weeks but not exchanged any gunfire."


Sum Nerve

"Three new oversight bodies are barely functional: A special inspector general was only recently sworn in, a congressional panel still lacks a chairman and staff, and President Donald Trump quickly removed the official who was going to lead a separate accountability committee. At the same time, about $2 trillion in stimulus money has already been distributed." Trillions in Stimulus Go Unchecked With Watchdogs Kept Toothless.

+ Judd Legum: "The $500 billion black box. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a hearing earlier this month that the administration will not release the 'names and amounts of specific PPP loans' because it is 'proprietary information' and 'confidential.'" (Proprietary? Confidential? It's our damn money.)


Market Research

"Grocery shopping is no longer one in a long list of mundane errands. For many people, it's the errand—the only one—and it now seems not inevitable, but somewhat amazing to be able to do at all." The Pandemic Shows Us the Genius of Supermarkets. A short history of the stores that—even now—keep us supplied with an abundance of choices. (They're so popular these days that people are literally lining up to get inside...)


Regal Tender

"As income inequality has grown in America, so has inequality in consumption. That means that when the rich spend money, they drive more of the economy than they did 50 years ago. And more workers depend on them. Put another way, this particular economic shock — one that has halted much in-person spending, even by rich people who never lost their jobs — has been devastating for an economy in which many low-wage workers count on high-income people spending money." NYT Upshot: The Rich Cut Their Spending. That Has Hurt All the Workers Who Count on It.


Welcome Back, Squatter

"If Biden were to notch a narrow victory, Trump could look to contest the results and claim he'd actually won. He could put the military and other tools of presidential power in an awkward spot, pressuring them to pick sides and untangle competing claims about who won. A supine Justice Department led by Attorney General William Barr might bolster Trump's claims by putting out statements that the vote was tainted." Trump has already broken almost every norm. Will he break the biggest one of all? The Atlantic: Some of the president's opponents fear that he'll refuse to leave the White House if he loses the election. (Biden can just run the country from the Trump International...)

+ If Trump really wants to participate in some lawless squatting, he could always move to Seattle's So-Called Autonomous Zone. "One major misconception about CHAZ is that protesters 'seized' the space from the police. It's really more like the police left the area, and the protesters who were already invested in a round-the-clock occupation of the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct continued staying there." (See, the whole thing is made up. He'll love it there!)


Where the Rubber Meets the Lode

"Malaysia, a country that produces about 65% of the world's supply for rubber gloves, now counts at least four billionaires whose fortunes were made in the industry, including two new ones this year alone." Bloomberg: The Gloves Kingdom Has Been Minting New Billionaires. (It's nice to know someone has been benefitting from my annual physicals...)


Feel Good Wednesday

"Chabra spends about an hour every evening watching his virtual pet, a golden retriever named Franny, via Skype. Franny lives in a farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi and is looked after by a volunteer." For just $40 a month, Indians can beat lockdown blues with a long-distance pet. (This makes me feel less weird about only interacting with my beagles via Zoom.)

+ Librarian uses drones to deliver books to kids stuck at home due to coronavirus. (My kids would leave the books outside and keep the drone.)

+ The Aunt Jemima brand is changing its name after admitting it's based on a racist stereotype. It took them 130 years to come to that conclusion? "Aunt Jemima is a character that originated in late-1800s minstrel shows, in which white performers in blackface would portray a variety of racist archetypes of Black people as a popular form of entertainment for white people."

+ Mountain lion slinks into San Francisco, seen near Salesforce Tower. (He was overheard saying, "Wait, isn't this building a little tall for earthquake country?)