Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020


The Blair Witch Hunt Project

Run for your life! The scary urban people wearing Powell's Books T-shirts and hopped up on artisanal ice cream are rioting in the streets, and the chaos, if not contained, could break through your white picket fence. No one is safe. Board up your windows, pull your children close, and whatever you do, don't change the channel from Fox News. That's the imaginary America Donald Trump is looking to create; where he'll ride in by November to defeat an imaginary enemy as his administration fails to confront the real threat of Covid-19. Ron Brownstein breaks it down in The Atlantic: Trump Is Determined to Split the Country in Two. "In deploying federal forces, Trump appears to be trying to provoke clashes with protesters, which he can use to convince white suburban voters that he's the last line of defense between them and the chaos allegedly incubating in cities, Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago mayor, told me. Referring to the street battle between construction workers and anti-war protesters in Manhattan in 1970, Emanuel said, 'Trump is trying to create his own hard-hat riot, and they are wearing [law-enforcement] helmets.'" (Too bad there's not room for all of us in the White House Bunker...)

+ Not scared yet? You will be after you see the bloodthirsty eyes of the members of the Wall of Moms. (I haven't been this afraid since my proofer RD and I nearly got caught smoking weed in his tree fort.)

+ Don't buy the idea that this is a political invention, not a real crisis? A post by Donald Trump's official Facebook account purports to show violence in the US, but it's really happening in 2014 Ukraine. (What is it with this guy and Ukraine?)

+ The nation's first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge: "Had I been governor, even now, I would welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime or lawlessness in the cities. But I would tell you, it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to an uninvited, unilateral intervention into one of my cities." (It's been like twenty degrees in hell for more than three years.)

+ WaPo: "Lawmakers and former government officials have intensified calls for federal officers to shed the camouflage and return to wearing uniforms that clearly identify them as law enforcement." (I suggest they wear orange concealer.)

+ And for an on the scene backgrounder: What You Need To Know About The Battle of Portland.


Donors Choose

"At a time when billions of people are struggling with the pandemic and the ensuing economic collapse — on top of long-running disasters like famine, drought or unrest — more, not less, money is urgently needed. " But many of the top donor countries are spending what they've got to keep their own economies afloat. Humanitarian aid from top donors drops as need soars.


Purdue Process?

"What they propose instead is to be shielded from all OxyContin lawsuits, protecting their tremendous personal wealth from victims' claims against them. What's more, a full liability release would provide the Sacklers with more immunity than they could ever obtain in a personal bankruptcy filing, which would not protect them from legal action for fraud, willful and malicious personal injury, or from punitive damages." NYT: The Sacklers Could Get Away With It.


Chinese Checked Out

"China's foreign ministry said it had been given notice on Wednesday to restrict all events at its consulate in Houston and to move out all its employees by July 24. Hours earlier, local Houston media began reporting that employees at the Chinese consulate in the city were burning documents in the consulate courtyard." U.S. Orders China's Houston Consulate To Close, Ratcheting Tensions. (Maybe the Astros weren't the only ones stealing signals...)


Forget the Fair Way, Get Me the Green

"The ambassador's deputy, Lewis A. Lukens, advised him not to do it, warning that it would be an unethical use of the presidency for private gain, these people said. But Mr. Johnson apparently felt pressured to try. A few weeks later, he raised the idea of Turnberry playing host to the Open with the secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell." NYT: Trump's Request of an Ambassador Woody Johnson: Get the British Open for Me. (Using the power of the presidency for personal gain? No way! In any other administration this would result in impeachment hearings. Turnberry should be renamed Turncoatberry...)

+ Why would an ambassador agree to something that a third grader would know is classic corruption? Meet Woody Johnson.

+ Meanwhile, Trump on Ghislaine Maxwell: "I wish her well."


Prison Breaking Point

"Since March, the more than 3,400 incarcerated people inside San Quentin have been on lockdown; they're barred from having visitors or making regular phone calls, and they have limited opportunities to mix with other prisoners. But Covid-19 found its way into the 168-year old prison anyway. The first case was detected in June. As of July 21, there were 869 active cases, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR); another 36 people tested positive and were released, and 1,173 had the virus but recovered. Thirteen men have died." CityLab on the added urgency to decrease prison populations: The Imprisoner's Dilemma.

+ Covid-19 didn't exactly find its way into San Quentin. It was quite literally sent there. And the person who made that decision still has a job. (Someone could write a great book on the decision to send sick inmates into a healthy prison population, and California's failure to stop what they could see coming the second the move was made.)


Aisle Hopping

As I shared a few days ago in a section titled, Cleanup on Aisle WTF, "Winn-Dixie said it would not require shoppers to wear masks in its stores, even after its competitors announced that they would. But the southern grocery chain changed its mind only a few hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that 'it is patriotic to wear a face mask.'" (America has lost its mind...)


Kim’s Chi

"We as a society talk about giving grace to the issue of mental health as a whole, however we should also give it to the individuals who are living with it in times when they need it the most." I'm a not a big Kanye fan. And I'm not a big (or even little) Kim fan. But I am a fan of having honest discussions about mental illness, so I'm glad Kim Kardashian made this statement. (It's really been a bummer to see so many news outlets covering Kanye's recent antics as something other than a mental health crisis.)


Uncuttable Gems

"Our architecture derives its extreme hardness from the local resonance between the embedded ceramics in a flexible cellular matrix and the attacking tool, which produces high-frequency vibrations at the interface." In other words, it's gonna be a lot harder for someone to rip off your bike.


Bottom of the News

Earlier this week, Representative Ted Yoho (of Florida, which goes without saying) referred to AOC as a f--king b-tch. Today, he took to the House floor to deliver what was probably the worst apology in an age of terrible apologies. Seriously, this apology wouldn't have been any worse if he just stood there and repeated the epithet over and over.

+ Ukraine Hostage Standoff Ends After President Agrees To Promote Joaquin Phoenix Film.

+ Here's How Toilet Paper Companies Kept Up With The 845% Spike In Demand.

+ Venice is restricting the number of passengers that can board a gondola. "And it's not social distancing that prompted the change -- it's the ballooning average weight of tourists flocking to the destination." (I can drop this pandemic weight in no time...)

+ Faced with no crowds and not much to do, museum curators are launching a competition to see who has the best museum tush.