Friday, October 8th, 2021


Time After Time

After the Civil War, a lot of states passed laws that banned those from being convicted of a felony from ever voting again. You're smart enough to guess why. Most states changed those laws as we became a more equal society. But not all of them. "Florida remained a holdout — until 2018, when Floridians overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to nearly everyone with a criminal record, upon the completion of their sentence ... Immediately, as many as 1.4 million people in the state became eligible to vote. It was the biggest expansion of voting rights in decades, anywhere in the country. That should have been the end of it. But within a year, Florida's Republican-led Legislature gutted the reform by passing a law defining a criminal sentence as complete only after the person sentenced has paid all legal financial obligations connected to it." This is part of a much broader strategy to use voting laws and gerrymandering to limit the impact of minority votes. As America's demographics have changed, voting limitations have become increasingly important to those clinging to power, and increasingly damaging to democracy. Jesse Wegman and Damon Winter with a photo essay in the NYT (Gift Article for NextDraft readers, even those with a record). When It Costs $53,000 to Vote. And before you look away and think, "Yeah but we're talking about felons," consider Sergio Thornton. He "has been out of prison since 2012, but he still owed about $20,000 when he was photographed — 'all fines and fees, just for selling $40 worth of drugs,' he said. His original debt was more than double that amount, upward of $40,000, as he recalls." (You know what a white guy gets for selling $40 of drugs? $40.)


Aug Slog

"A few months ago, forecasters thought September would be a banner month for hiring. Schools would reopen, freeing parents to go back to work. Supplemental unemployment benefits that some employers blamed for keeping workers on the sidelines would expire. Most importantly, widespread vaccinations would put the pandemic in the rearview mirror. It hasn't exactly worked out that way." August's jobs numbers were bad. September was even worse, but there's room for hope.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: RCA's Studio B in Nashville is one of the most famous and epic recording studios in music history. In Leftover Feelings, two Nashville music icons, John Hiatt (who is finally being celebrated for what he is, one of America's greatest songwriters) and Jerry Douglas, combine their talents during the pandemic to record an album in Elvis's favorite studio. Check out Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival. (Use the code studiob for half off.)

+ What to Hear: Living in a highly vaxed area, I think I'm just about ready to return (masked) to some live concerts. And there is no band I look forward to seeing live more than The Record Company. Their new album just dropped. The title is also a directive. Play Loud.

+ What to Watch and Hear: Brandi Carlile made an appearance on Howard Stern this week and performed two amazing songs. Her own Right on Time, and a cover of Elton John's Madman Across the Water. If you have Sirius, catch the whole interview. If not, here are the key outtakes and songs.

+ What to Book: What made the 2020 election like a barium enema? How did I end up with a rash that was a reaction to another rash? Why do I compare Steve Kondracki to the pile of cocaine snorted by Al Pacino in Scarface? All that and much more is in my book, Please Scream Inside Your Heart. Stop delaying and order the damn thing. You're gonna love it. Amazon | | Green Apple (signed copies).


Enemy of the Authoritarians

"The committee singled out Ressa and Rappler for exposing what it called Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "murderous anti-drug campaign," which has cost many thousands of lives. It also praised her for highlighting how political actors use social media to spread false information to manipulate public discussion. The committee also cited Muratov for his decades of work defending freedom of speech in Russia 'under increasingly challenging conditions.' A founding member of the journalist collective that launched Novaya Gazeta in 1993, Muratov has overseen the newspaper's investigations and critical reporting on Kremlin politics, corruption, war and human rights." Journalists, who are most definitely not the enemy of the people, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

+ BBC: Working with the Nobel Peace Prize winners.


The Bachelor

"A new study from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce finds a growing number of people without a bachelor's degree are now out-earning those with one. The study found that in the years 2017 through 2019, on average, 16% of high school graduates, 23% of workers with some college and 28% of associate degree holders earned more money than half of all workers with a bachelor's degree." You don't need a bachelor's degree to land a high-paying job. (As an English Major, I concur.)


Poorly Informed

As Congress debates the budget plan, and some warn that we're teetering on the edge of becoming an entitlement society, take some time to read this piece by Andrea Elliott, that makes it clear just how hard it is to claw one's way out of poverty. NYT Magazine (Gift article for NextDraft readers): When Dasani Left Home. What happens when trying to escape poverty means separating from your family at 13?


Still The One

"Trump is being written about less, and thus talked about less on social media—fifty per cent less since March, according to Axios. But look at where our politics are, nine months after the insurrection, and they tell a radically different story. Trump is, per Pew and other recent polls, both the overwhelming favorite among Republicans for 2024 and their continuing spiritual leader. (Two-thirds of the Republicans and Republican-leaning independents that Pew surveyed wanted Trump to continue to be a major national figure, a total that's gone up by ten points since January. Yes, that's not a typo—it's gone up.) Just as important, he has succeeded in selling his party on his Big Lie about the 2020 election, on January 6th revisionism, and on taking a series of specific actions—from changing how states certify elections to purging state Republican officials who did not go along with his 2020 coup attempt—that will affect American democracy for years to come, whether or not Trump runs again." Susan Glasser in The New Yorker: The Battle of January 6th Has Just Begun. (We need the pro-democracy crowd to fight a whole lot harder.)


Crack Heads

"They have touted their supplements as alternatives to vaccines, written doctor's notes to allow patients to get out of mask and immunization mandates, donated large sums of money to anti-vaccine organizations and sold anti-vaccine ads on Facebook and Instagram." Anti-vaccine chiropractors are a rising force of misinformation. (Wow, that's weird because their main business is so legit...I know I'll get some backlash for that, but maybe that will heal my spine.)


The Clown Isn’t Around

"At one point, the fast food mascot was more recognisable than Jesus Christ. What happened?" Amelia Tait in Vice: The Death of Ronald McDonald.The Death of Ronald McDonald. (Maybe the gig came with free food.)


Feel Good Friday

"Some U.S. coins will soon feature female trailblazers from different eras of American history, representing their accomplishments in fields spanning civil rights, politics, humanities and science."

+ Google, YouTube ban ads on climate misinformation.

+ Russian double amputee scales world's eighth-highest mountain.

+ Ontario government makes deal with Shoppers Drug Mart to offer free menstrual products in all schools.

+ Martinis and Red Meat With Kieran Culkin: The ‘Succession' Star on Childhood, Co-Stars and Fame. (This is feel good because the new season of Succession is almost here!)

+ The Unlikely Fashion Explosion of Squid Game.

+ Surviving on oranges they'd packed, coconuts from the sea and rainwater they collected, they floated about 400km in the Solomon Sea and were lost for 29 days before being rescued. Their key reflection: "It was a nice break from everything."

+ "The US Marshals Service is back to the drawing board in it search for a fugitive on the run for 23 years. They had just identified someone at a Dodgers baseball game who resembled the wanted man. But it turns out they were looking at the wrong guy." But they arrested him anyway. The charge? Being a Dodgers fan. (That feels good for Giants fans, and that's my focus now, folks. Have a good weekend.)