June 21st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

I Am, I Said. To No One There. And No One Heard it Not Even the Chair.

We’ll lead today with a little help from a song that should be on heavy rotation during the remainder of Donald Trump’s campaign. Neil Diamond’s, I Am I Said. I am… I said/To no one there/And no one heard at all/Not even the chair… In fairness to the president, it’s impossible to say for sure what the chairs heard, but there was definitely nothing blocking their line of sound. Of course, crowd size is meaningless in reality. But in Trump fantasyland, it’s everything. It was a lie about the inaugural crowd size that kicked off this presidency. But after planning an outdoor-overflow speech that never happened because no one was there, and drawing around 6,000 people to an arena that holds three times that many, Trump’s ill-advised return to the rally circuit was an epic fail. Even Putin was like, “Bro, I can only do so much…” Trump gives grievance-filled speech to unfilled arena as protests stay mostly peaceful.

+ Well I’m New York City born and raised/But nowadays/I’m lost between two shores/L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home/New York’s home/But it ain’t mine no more… They say you can’t go home again. That will be especially true if there’s a warrant out for your arrest. Hence, the importance of strong turnouts in places like Tulsa. So how did a rally that Trumpians said had over a million ticket requests end up with six thousand attendees? NYT: TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally. “TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank.” (My kids promised me Father’s Day breakfast in bed and I’m still the only one awake. Maybe I should check Tik Tok.)

+ Did you ever read about a frog/Who dreamed of bein’ a king/And then became one/Well except for the names/And a few other changes If you talk about me/The story is the same one… The story’s the same one … up to that point. But there’s a final chapter where the king reverts back to a frog. Then the frog’s prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the Southern District of New York, and is thrown into prison after Adam Schiff delivers his closing argument—livestreamed to packed arenas across the country—to a jury made up entirely of immigrant epidemiologists and climate scientists. The administration’s covid response has been like boiling a frog. During the rally, Trump said he asked his team to do less testing. “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.'” The campaign tried to say he was joking. But we can see in his actions that he wasn’t. Atul Gawande: “He acknowledges what we’ve seen—active obstruction of testing in a pandemic which claimed 120K lives so far. If I did this for 10 people at my hospital, it’d be a crime.” (I used to call on cable networks to stop showing these campaign ads live. This one actually felt more like a Biden campaign ad.)

+ But I got an emptiness deep inside/And I’ve tried/But it won’t let me go/And I’m not a man who likes to swear/But I never cared/For the sound of being alone… Ok, that emptiness has a name. It’s called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And you’ve got an extreme case. When Narcissus looks into the pond, he sees Donald Trump. And that’s not the sound of being alone. That’s the sound of a new podcast featuring Geoffrey Berman and Preet Bhahara being played on a continuous loop.

+“I am”… I cried/”I am”… said/I And I am lost and I can’t/Even say why. The being lost is one clue. The dry mouth is another. I’m gonna guess it’s the adderall. Whatever it is, it’s going to get a lot worse in the coming weeks as Trump feels more polling pressure. While I’ve had some fun in this section, this is probably the key takeaway from the event: The lawlessness and institution bashing are likely to accelerate following this Rally fail. And it was so bad heading into Tulsa that the President of the United States canned a prosecutor for working on cases that involve that president.


Joffrey and Geoffrey

“Why replace Berman now, just six months before the election? The answer lies in the firing earlier this year of Jessie Liu, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. By firing Liu, Barr and his team took control of the Washington, D.C., U.S. attorney’s office. Until they did that, the office was following up on various indictments and charges that had been brought against Trump’s associates.” The Atlantic: Why Bill Barr Got Rid of Geoffrey Berman.


Spread Dread

Of course, the biggest concern about the Tulsa rally is that it will become a viral superspreader event. And the biggest concern in America is the one that the administration is pretending is over. This is one time when we all wish the magical thinking would come true. But, here in reality, “the U.S reported some 30,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number of daily infections recorded since May 1.”


Voting Marginalized

Stats about rally numbers are meaningless. The real stat to watch in November is who gets to vote. And so far, 2020 has been rough for democracy. Next stop, Kentucky. “In a typical election year, Kentucky has about 3,700 polling sites, according to most reports. When Election Day arrives on 23 June, there will be just 200 polling sites across the state — with some of those sites having to serve upwards of 600,000 residents.”

+ “Republicans, Democrats, state officials, grandmothers, first-time voters, the politically engaged, the anti-institutionalists—pretty much the only thing they could agree on was their doubts about the integrity of our democracy.” The Atlantic: Why Americans Might Not Trust the Election Results.


Japan Handle

“When the coronavirus hit Japan, Mari Nagata, a single mother who works in a restaurant, had a lot of worries. Her children’s school closed, and she feared what would happen to them if she got sick. But there was one thing that Ms. Nagata, unlike millions of service industry workers in the United States, did not fret about: her job security.” NYT: Why Japan’s Jobless Rate Is Just 2.6% While the U.S.’s Has Soared.


Juneteen Age Wasteland?

“In its majority, the American public reacted not against the scattered instances of looting but against the original injustice, the sickening refusal of a white police officer to recognize the humanity of a black man whose alleged offense was to pass off a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill.” The New Yorker’s David Remnick: After Juneteenth. (Are we seeing the beginning of real change? We just might be.)


Siberia de Janeiro

“To put this into perspective, the city of Miami, Florida, has only reached 100 degrees one time since the city began keeping temperature records in 1896.” So it’s pretty surprising that they just hit that mark in Siberia.


Board Games

“Unable to attend games in person, diehard fans are ponying up $20 to $30 to have their photos printed out and affixed to the seats at Korean baseball games, German soccer matches, and more.” Why sports stadiums are suddenly full of cardboard fans. (These would have been useful in Tulsa.)


Sex Post Facto

“In a world of social distancing, touching can be a turnoff—even on-screen. With productions being allowed to resume in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and abroad, industry guilds and labor unions have drafted proposals for new on-set safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic. A common recommendation? Limit the amount of time actors have to closely interact.” The Atlantic: Will Sex Scenes Survive the Pandemic? (If my personal life is an indication, no.)


Feel Good Sunday

“When Jay Flynn was homeless, he packed up his worldly belongings every morning so that London tourists wouldn’t see his plight. Now he’s being watched by millions across the world, and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity in the process. This is how he did it.” How One Man Created The Biggest Virtual Pub Quiz In The World.

+ My trusted proofer RD and I have been seeing John Hiatt shows since his kids were babies. Like everything, this year’s tour was cancelled. So, we’ll have to settle for moments like this: John and Lilly Hiatt perform Through Your Hands. Happy Father’s Day to JH and all the other dads out there.

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