Friday, December 11th, 2020


Where’s the Brief?

"The challenge here is an unprecedented one, without factual foundation or a valid legal basis." That's how Michigan is responding to a Texas lawsuit to invalidate millions of votes that have been cast, counted, and certified in several states that aren't Texas. That sums up the Trump transition so far: No effin' facts and no effin' legal basis. Why am-i-cus-sing so much? Because this isn't just one crazy, legally challenged attorney general. It's 18 state attorneys general, 106 Republican members of Congress who signed an amicus brief on behalf of this frivolous nonsense, and a sea of GOP Senators and House members who have refused to acknowledge Biden's win in an election that wasn't close. This isn't just the last gasp of a canceled reality show or the final rantings of a sociopathic narcissist. This is a movement to overturn an election, an international humiliation, and an American tragedy. And believe me, I'm as sick of writing about it as you are of reading about it. But this is happening. The Atlantic: The GOP Abandons Democracy. "Instead of Republican officeholders waiting out Trump's postelection tantrum, he is waiting them out, and slowly bringing the party around to his side. In this way, Trump is ending his presidency just the way he won it: by correctly recognizing what Republican voters want and giving it to them, and gradually forcing the party's purported leaders to follow along."

+ "In filing so many lawsuits and having so many courts across the country reject them, Trump has produced an unintended result: a resounding judicial affirmation of the integrity of our system. Trump appointees have rejected his cases; Obama appointees have rejected his cases. State courts have rejected them. The Supreme Court has, too. But is that what we will remember of this covid-and-constitutional-crisis season? I'm quite sure we will remember that Donald Trump is a sore loser; the sorest loser, in fact, who ever was President. But what about the Republican Party—is this the moment when the G.O.P. abandons its belief in democracy and the simple nonnegotiable principle that the losing party must accept the results of an election?" Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker: It's Not Just Trump's War on Democracy Anymore. (I think we'll remember an administration and its enablers who were more focused on saving hopeless attacks on democracy than they were on trying to save American lives during a pandemic.)

+ WaPo: Trump expands his cable diet to Newsmax and OAN.

+ And in related news from the NYT: For a Nation on Edge, Antacids Become Hard to Find. (Luckily, there are still plenty of barf bags.)


Your Package is On the Way

During a year we spent much of our time waiting for packages carrying our essential goods, it seems somehow fitting that we'd receive the vaccination in much the same way. The first doses should hit American arms early next week. And when they do, it will mark the beginning of a major logistical challenge that is taking place at the same time as the usual December logistical challenge of getting presents into the grubby mitts of our ungrateful children (OK, that got a little too personal). NYT: How the Vaccine Will Get From the Lab to You. "The companies will truck their vaccines from production and distribution centers to airports, where UPS and FedEx will handle the final legs of the trip."

+ In the meantime, we need to try to mimimize the death count which is now at 3,000 a day. WaPo: Military-grade camera shows risks of airborne coronavirus spread. (This is a very interesting and informative way to show you what you've been told for months.)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: I've recommended Euphoria on HBO in the past, and I still do. But whether you've seen the series or not, the bonus episode that just came out is worth a view. Zendaya is as solid as usual, and Domingo Coleman gives a remarkably compelling performance.

+ What to Consider:: My friend Jeffrey Eggers, a former Seal team leader and member of two administrations, shares some of his learnings on what makes a good leader. He wrote a book on the topic and has been studying it, and living it, for much of his adult life. This is a very interesting talk.

+ What to See: Every year, Alan Taylor puts together a great collection of the most memorable images of the year. This year is one for the time capsule. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. And a few bonus shots from the BBB: The most striking images of 2020.

+ What to Hear: Run the Jewels and Royal Blood, two NextDraft-approved groups, come together on one ripping song. The Ground Below.


Defense Mechanism

"Trump has vowed to veto the bill unless lawmakers impose limits on social media companies he claims were biased against him during the election. Trump has also said he wants Congress to strip out a provision of the bill that allows renaming of military bases that now honor Confederate leaders." Both the House and Senate ignored those demands and sent Trump what looks to be a veto-proof defense bill.

+ Meanwhile, there's still no stimulus bill. One of the key holdups is Mitch McConnell's demand for liability shields for companies to prevent employees or customers from suing in cases where coronavirus rules were disregarded.


See You Real Soon. Why? Because of Our IP

"As Disney rolled out show after show ... methodically ticking off Marvel character after Marvel character, Star Wars spinoff after Star Wars spinoff, Pixar movie after Pixar movie (The Verge did you a favor and culled the list of announcements to the most important 52) — I couldn't help but think about how Disney is playing the streaming video game at an entirely different level from its competition." CNBC: Disney shows off the unstoppable power of its franchises as stock hits an all-time high. (The TV migration from rabbit ears to mouse ears is nearing its conclusion.)

+ That's the story of the Disney stock price and the shows coming to those of us who can easily afford paid TV apps. The other half of the 2020 Disney story is about a Disney World waitress struggling to hold onto her middle-class life amid a pandemic and catastrophic layoff. The excellent Greg Jaffe: I Didn't Make It.


All In on Execution

"The Trump administration Thursday carried out its ninth federal execution of the year in what has been a first series of executions during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years, putting to death a Texas street-gang member in the slayings of a religious couple from Iowa more than two decades ago. Four more federal executions, including one Friday, are planned in the weeks before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration."

+ From November: I helped put Brandon Bernard on federal death row. I now think he should live.


We Found It

"As Cardi B prepared the release for her new song "WAP," she checked off all the usual components of her promotional plan, including magazine covers, Instagram posts and a raunchy YouTube video. Then she added one more: OnlyFans, a site where people charge admirers for special access to videos and photos." Bloomberg: OnlyFans Is a Billion-Dollar Media Giant Hiding in Plain Sight. If charging people for often dirty pictures and videos is hiding, then the whole internet has been hiding since day one.


Distorted Reality

From The Guardian: Iranian teenager who posted distorted pictures of herself is jailed for 10 years. No, you're not reading that headline wrong.


Family Time

"In his first newspaper interview, the adopted son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen talks about an atmosphere of anger and hatred in his family, the problems of transracial adoption – and his certainty that his sister was not abused by their father." After months of quarantine, you might be interested in reading about a family that's probably a lot more screwed up than yours. Moses Farrow: ‘I'd be very happy to take my father's surname.' (I'd rather take the surname than the first name.)


Feel Good Friday

I have a feeling you need this Buddhist monk cover of Metallica's Enter Sandman right about ... now. Come for the first half, stay for the second half.

+ High school-run grocery store takes good deeds as payment.

+ This Alberta dad sat through 30 hours of tattoo pain so his son would feel better about birthmark.

+ Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are Time's people of the year. The NextDraft Person of the Year: If it's a group, it's health care workers. If it's a bigger group, it's the millions of people who picked up the slack in their communities when we needed them the most. If it's an individual, it should be Dr Li Wenliang who warned the world about the virus and later died of it.

+ "Hugs are like hand sanitizer for your internal anatomy — no need to drink bleach." The plastic barrier that's enabling hugs in a retirement community.

+ A Florida man just paid off the past dues for 114 families at risk of having their utilities shut off. (Yes, a good story about Florida Man! When I say Feel Good Friday, I mean it!)

+ Brian Baumgartner, Kevin from the Office, pulled in a cool million on Cameo this year.

+ Dolly Parton saved the life of a 9-year-old actor on set of new Christmas movie. Of course she did.