Saturday, July 18th, 2020


Dear John

"When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made." Barack Obama on the passing of John Lewis. I'm sad John Lewis died during this sick, sad era. But I'm glad he got to see Americans take to the streets. As Obama writes: "He could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office."

+ "When Lewis was a few months old, the manager of a chicken farm named Jesse Thornton was lynched about twenty miles down the road, in the town of Luverne. His offense was referring to a police officer by his first name, not as 'Mister.' A mob pursued Thornton, stoned and shot him, then dumped his body in a swamp; it was found, a week later, surrounded by vultures." David Remnick: John Lewis's Legacy and America's Redemption.

+ NYT: Images of his beating at Selma shocked the nation and led to swift passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He was later called the conscience of the Congress.

+ David Von Drehle in WaPo: With the deaths of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, history seems to be sending a message. "Maybe history is saying this: Two of our best, two giants, two heroes, two voices, two glories of peaceful persuasion, of victory without violence, have left the stage arm-in-arm, fists raised in triumph. Take their message to heart. Ours is not the first discouraging moment. Can we resolve, like them, not to falter into despair?"

+ Civil rights activist and politician John Lewis – a life in pictures. There's no smile like the one that says you know you're on the right side of history. There's good trouble happening in the heavens today.


Teach the Children (to Stay) Well

"Clearly children are getting the virus, though they are less likely than adults to experience a severe course of the disease." NPR: What Accounts For High Coronavirus Positivity Rates Among Florida Kids?

+ Eighty-five infants under age 1 have tested positive for coronavirus in one Texas county.


The Inessential Worker

We've justifiably put a lot of focus on essential workers. Let's talk about an inessential one. The president of the United States. From WaPo: "Trump in recent weeks has been committing less of his time and energy to managing the pandemic, according to advisers, and has only occasionally spoken in detail about the topic in his public appearances. One of these advisers said the president is 'not really working this anymore. He doesn't want to be distracted by it. He's not calling and asking about data. He's not worried about cases.'"

+ What is the president doing? The President Is Shilling Beans. What else is the president doing? The president is moving portraits of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from a prominent space to a rarely used room. What is the president doing? Lying, of course. Thankfully, after 3 years, 179 days, 4 hours, someone finally called Trump on one of his straight up lies.


Absentee Gloating

The American leadership vacuum is a clear and present danger to the health of US citizens. It's an even more clear opportunity for our foes abroad. WaPo: U.S. remains on the sidelines in Libya's conflict as Russia extends its reach. "An absence of U.S. leadership in Libya has allowed a dangerous international confrontation to deepen, analysts say, as a spiraling proxy war stokes threats to American economic and security interests and provides Russia a platform to expand its clout in the Mediterranean."


Les Enfants Terribles

"The interviews indicate that the attack was not the work of a single country like Russia or a sophisticated group of hackers. Instead, it was done by a group of young people — one of whom says he lives at home with his mother." (Honey, when you're done hacking the leaders of the free world, can you help me get my email to work?) NYT: Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack From the Inside.


Putin’s First Law of Motion

"We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again," Biden told the group. "The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact ... China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome." Joe Biden is getting intel briefings again (in words, not pictures), and what he's seeing is what he saw four years ago. Biden says he receives briefings warning of Russian and Chinese election interference. (Why would they stop? There was no price to pay and the efforts have worked better than any of our adversaries could have possibly imagined.)


Pop Off

"Ever since Thomas Malthus got it started in 1798, people have been warning that population growth, given enough time, would lead to famine and environmental destruction. There would eventually be too many mouths to feed. But now a new study, published in The Lancet, forecasts new threats to the economic and social order caused by precipitous population decline." Grist: The population bomb didn't detonate. Turns out there's a new problem. (On a positive note, I bet the under...)


Oregon Fishing for Justice

Oregon Sues Federal Agencies Over Protest Enforcement. "It is also asking that federal agents and officers identify themselves and their agencies before detaining or arresting any person, explain to the person why they're being arrested or detained, and not arrest any person without probable cause or a warrant." (It turns out this isn't the Van Life Americans had in mind...)


Zen and Jerry’s

"As of July 16, Vermont has officially gone 30 days without a death attributable to COVID-19, in stark contrast to much of the country, which has in recent weeks seen a surge in new daily cases and fatalities."


Bottom of the News

Cops Are Using Drones to Make Sure People Aren't Nude. "Last Friday, cops in Minnesota flew a drone over a public beach to see if they could spot some exposed boobs." (Sorry, and how is that different from the way everyone else uses drones?)