Saturday, August 1st, 2020


This One Goes to Eleven

Trump thought having every smart, decent adult hating him was tough? Banning Tik Tok, which he threatened to do this weekend, will unleash an army of 11 year-olds the likes of which this country has never seen. It's unclear whether the president could actually pull off a ban. The threat probably has more to do with promoting a deal that would put the massively popular social network in the hands of an American buyer (Microsoft is rumored to be closest to a deal). Either that, or maybe Trump is just mad at Sarah Cooper, who found the perfect way to parody Trump (by simply repeating his own words). Whatever is driving the POTUS, we better ban Tik Tok quickly. We wouldn't want to allow any social platforms that spread misinformation.

+ Reuters: TikTok's Chinese owner offers to forego stake to clinch U.S. deal.

+ The TikTok-Trump drama explained.


The Answer My Friend, Is Blowing in the Vind

"At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation's values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving." WaPo: Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what's right matters.


Never Forget Means Never

"Far-right extremism penetrated multiple layers of German society in the years when the authorities underestimated the threat or were reluctant to countenance it fully, officials and lawmakers acknowledge. Now they are struggling to uproot it." Fans of liberal democracy let their guards down for too long. And the far right took advantage of that. NYT: Body Bags and Enemy Lists: How Far-Right Police Officers and Ex-Soldiers Planned for Day X.


Welcome to Camp Reality

"The analysis, released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, details an outbreak at a sleep-away camp in Georgia last month in which 260 children and staffers — more than three-quarters of the 344 tested — contracted the virus less than a week after spending time together in close quarters. The children had a median age of 12. The camp had required all 597 campers and staff members to provide documentation that they had tested negative for the virus before coming." Coronavirus infected scores of children and staff at Georgia sleep-away camp.

+ "'We knew it was a when, not if,' said Harold E. Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, but were 'very shocked it was on Day 1.'" NYT: A School Reopens, and the Coronavirus Creeps In.

+ "Homeschooling, this is not. As local and federal governments continue to squabble over the risks of sending kids back to school, parents are frantically gathering groups of similar-age kids to be taught at home. The idea is that they band together to pay for private tuition or delegate supervision to one parent, allowing the rest to get back to work. Pods should also supply some of the social aspect of school without the infection risk inherent in cramming dozens of kids in a room together." MIT Tech Review: American parents are setting up homeschool pandemic pods. (Like everything related to the pandemic, our failure to flatten the curve and get schools open will have a disproportionate impact on the poor.)

+ MLB commissioner warns of shutdown if coronavirus isn't better managed. (The virus has to be managed with a national strategy. How can baseball "manage" anything traveling from state to state?)

+ Consider the environment in which were being told to welcome back sports and send our kids back to school. July marked the worst month on record for new infections. "The United States recorded 1.87 million new cases in July, bringing total infections to 4.5 million, for an increase of 69%. Deaths in July rose 20% to nearly 154,000 total."


Air 404

As per usual, The Atlantic's Zeynep Tufekci asks a key question. "How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we still have so little guidance about this all-important variable, the very air we breathe?" We talk about wiping. We talking about washing. But this is an air based threat. We Need to Talk About Ventilation. (Thanks to my pandemic shower schedule, my family has been talking about ventilation for months...)


Meet Your Maker

"Horowitz wrote that hope and fear are the two strongest weapons in politics. Barack Obama had used hope to become president. 'Fear is a much stronger and more compelling emotion,'s Horowitz argued, adding that Republicans should appeal to voters' base instincts. It is perhaps the most compact crystallization of the relationship that propelled Miller, now a senior policy adviser and speechwriter in the Donald Trump administration, to the White House and of the importance that relationship has had in the administration. The friendship between Miller and Horowitz began when Miller—who did not respond to interview requests for the book from which this article was adapted—was in high school and continued throughout his career." Jean Guerrero in Politico: The Man Who Made Stephen Miller. (None of this just happened. People working towards an agenda found a president concerned primarily with his celebrity and they saw an opportunity to shape America.)


Hen Leaves Fox House

"James Murdoch resigned Friday from the board of directors of News Corp., the publishing arm of his family's media empire, in a very public sign of dissent that typically plays out behind closed doors." James Murdoch Quits Family Media Empire News Corp After 'Disagreements.' James has been a blue sheep in the family for a while, caring about the environment and supporting Biden. What's interesting to me is that this is part of a trend we're seeing. The final year of the Trump term is forcing Americans, brands, and organizations to pick a side.


Well, He Was Just Seventeen

The Verge: Three people have been charged for Twitter's huge hack, and a Florida teen is in jail. "He's being charged as an adult — 'This was not an ordinary 17-year old,' said the state attorney — and the press conference made clear that law enforcement is considering how bad consequences of the hack could have been, beyond the $100,000-plus in bitcoin that the teen is alleged to have scammed out of unsuspecting Twitter users." (He's an ordinary 17 year-old in one way. He wasn't too hard to catch.)


Gameday Programs

I don't cover a ton of the inside-baseball part of politics here, but if you're looking for a little more of that stuff during the last 90-something days leading up to the election, here are a couple suggestions. First, from Howard Dean's campaign to Doug Jones senate victory, Joe Trippi knows his stuff. He's got a new podcast. And Pod Saves excellent Dan Pfeiffer has a brand new newsletter called Message Box. Check it out.


Bottom of the News

"For the couple – who've been married for 21 years and have a 16-year-old son – the parallels with parenting have long been obvious and were underlined by the response of officers they've encountered on the intensive courses they run on how to interrogate terrorists." Improve your relationships – with advice from counter-terrorism experts. (I feel seen.)

+ A Pigeon Perched On Plane Wing Holds On For Dear Life As It Takes Off. (This is basically what it's like to be news curator in 2020.)