Monday, December 6th, 2021


We’re Talking ‘Bout Practice

As I recount in my book, throughout the year leading up to the 2020 election, my dad (who was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust and fought heroically with the Partisans) continually warned me that the presidential election polls didn't mean anything because Trump would never accept the results if he lost. My dad knew this because, having witnessed the slide into authoritarianism firsthand, he had seen this show before. So it was with great interest that we both read Barton Gellman's article that came out during the September before the election when he predicted what was coming: "Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged. Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before." So I'd say it's a pretty good idea if we listen to what he's predicting now. "Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect. The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already." Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun. "January 6 was practice. Donald Trump's GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election."

+ George Packer in the The Atlantic: To head off the next insurrection, we'll need to practice envisioning the worst. (It makes it easier to envision when we're seeing the plot roll out right before our eyes.)


Medal Stand

"The Biden administration said it would not send senior U.S. government officials because of China's mass detention camps and forced sterilization campaign against Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the country's western province -- policies that the U.S. government has determined constitute genocide and crimes against humanity." US announces diplomatic boycott of Winter Olympics in China over human rights. To really move the needle, diplomatic moves need to be paired with corporate ones. We'd need the WTA's response to Peng Shuai to be the norm, not an extreme outlier.


Winner or Sinner

Russia hacked America's elections in 2016. The American people were repeatedly lied to by their president about that. So Reality Winner told the truth by releasing classified information. Was she a whistleblower or a spy? She just got done serving four years in prison. In this 60 Minutes segment, she explains why she leaked a classified document. "I am not a traitor. I am not a spy. I am somebody who only acted out of love for what this country stands for." (Maybe we all need a reminder of what that is.)


Clean Energy’s Messy Future

"Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect." Jason Bordoff and Meghan L. O'Sullivan: Green Upheaval. The New Geopolitics of Energy.

+ In the meantime, oil companies' profits soared to $174bn this year as US gas prices rose.


Paul Revered

"Paul Austin and his wife, Tenisha Tate-Austin decided to get another opinion three weeks later, they say in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco. This time, they enlisted the help of their White friend Jan who agreed to pretend to be the homeowner for a different appraiser, the lawsuit alleges. The Austins 'whitewashed' their house by removing their family photos and stripping the walls of their African-themed art. Jan helped on this front, too, by staging photos of her own family, the lawsuit states." WaPo (Gift Article): A Black couple says an appraiser lowballed them. So, they ‘whitewashed' their home and say the value shot up. (Paul Austin is a friend of mine and the story behind this lawsuit, as well as his leadership in Marin City, is in my book as well.)


Dole Model

"He fought for America, nearly died doing it, and America rebuilt him with years of treatment and multiple surgeries, and rehabilitated him as well: It was his doctor who told him to use his brain instead of his broken body. Don't think anymore about what you've lost, the doctor said. You have to think about what you have and what you can do with it." Bob Dole, Senate Legend Who Championed Compromise, Dies at 98.

+ Bob Dole, a man of war, power, zingers and denied ambition. (I can relate to those last two for sure...)

+ Christopher Schroeder: "Every Saturday Senator Dole came to the World War II Memorial and sat under a tree to greet other veterans."


Variant Colony

"'Though it's too early to really make any definitive statements about it, thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it,' Fauci told CNN's State of the Union, as he expressed confidence that existing vaccines will confer 'some degree, and maybe a considerable degree, of protection against the omicron variant, if, in fact, it starts to take hold in a dominant way in this country.'" The variant is in at least 17 states. NYC will make vaccinations mandatory for private employers. (Oh those nutty big city folks and their stubborn obsession with staying alive.) Here's the latest.


Cap Schmear

"Zabar's is running low. Tompkins Square Bagels is down to sticks. Pick-a-Bagel has only a few days' supply left. All over New York City, bagel makers say, a schmear shortage is threatening one of the most treasured local delicacies: a fresh bagel with cream cheese." NYT: How a Cream Cheese Shortage Is Affecting N.Y.C. Bagel Shops. The supply chain appears to be lactose intolerant.



"Conventional assisted-suicide methods have generally involved a chemical substance. Inventor Philip Nitschke of Exit International told the website SwissInfo that his 'death pod' offers a different approach." Switzerland Approves Assisted Suicide Capsule. (Not the kind you swallow. The kind you climb into.)


Bottom of the News

"When I asked Strong about the rap that Kendall performs in Season 2, at a gala for his father—a top contender for Kendall's most cringeworthy moment—he gave an unsmiling answer about Raskolnikov, referencing Kendall's 'monstrous pain.' Kieran Culkin told me, 'After the first season, he said something to me like, ‘I'm worried that people might think that the show is a comedy.' And I said, ‘I think the show is a comedy.' He thought I was kidding.' Part of the appeal of "Succession" is its amalgam of drama and bone-dry satire. When I told Strong that I, too, thought of the show as a dark comedy, he looked at me with incomprehension and asked, 'In the sense that, like, Chekhov is comedy?' No, I said, in the sense that it's funny. 'That's exactly why we cast Jeremy in that role,' McKay told me. 'Because he's not playing it like a comedy. He's playing it like he's Hamlet.'" Michael Schulman in The New Yorker: Jeremy Strong Doesn't Get the Joke. (Well then let's not let him in on it. Because whatever he's doing is working.)

+ Jim Belushi Left Hollywood to Grow Weed and Heal His Soul. (That's usually why I leave the family room and head to my man cave.)