Friday, March 25th, 2022


Gov and Marriage

Everything you thought was happening behind the scenes during the Trumpian attempt to overturn the 2020 election was actually happening—with the caveat that it was all a lot worse than you imagined. And now we've learned that Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence, sent at least 29 text messages to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in an unhinged effort to push the team to somehow invalidate America's free and fair presidential election. Ginni's full-throated support of the big lie included gems like this: "Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America's constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History." The courtship of Clarence and Ginni is none of our business, but the Court is, and in this case, the groom is wearing a judge's robe and the bride is wearing her divorced-from-reality views on her sleeve. Our union is supposed to be stronger than theirs. The heart wants what the heart wants, but so does the Constitution. At the very least, Justice Thomas should match his wife's irreconcilable differences with the electoral system with a conscious uncoupling from any case related January 6th and the big lie. But, alas, it's too late for that. "This January, Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenter in a proceeding in which Trump asked the Court to stop the House investigative committee from obtaining records of his communications relating to efforts to subvert the 2020 election results." From Jane Meyer in The New Yorker: Legal Scholars Are Shocked By Ginni Thomas's 'Stop the Steal' Texts. Aside from the matters of law and judicial ethics, it's deeply concerning how high up the chain the crackpot conspiracy theories and rabid religious beliefs traveled. Little did we know that when Clarence and Ginni's marriage was consummated, the whole country would be getting screwed. Maybe Supreme Court appointments should come with a prenup.


Complete Disaster

"Russia's defence ministry said on Friday that the first phase of its military operation in Ukraine was mostly complete and that it would focus on completely 'liberating' eastern Ukraine's Donbass region." Reuters on what looks like major backtracking of goals from Russia: Russia says first phase of Ukraine operation mostly complete. Unify NATO. Unify America. Destroy Russian economy. Ruin Putinism. Kill thousands of Russians. Murder Ukrainian civilians. Make Zelensky an international hero. Convince Europe to re-arm and drop Russian energy. Mission accomplished.

+ "That just gives an insight into perhaps some of the morale challenges that Russian forces are having." A Russian colonel was reportedly run over by his own men, Ukraine is reoccupying some towns, Biden is meeting with officials and US troops in Poland. Here's the latest from BBC.


Wastin’ Away Again

"'True story,' Murphy said. 'We read about Latitude Margaritaville. It was 2019. April-ish. I said, ‘Oh, my God, this f-cking place is going to be awful. All these people with parrots on their heads. Jimmy Buffett playing twenty-four hours a day.' We thought, Let's go look, as a goof.'" At the time, the Murphys had retired to a third-floor oceanfront condo down the coast, in Melbourne Beach: the perfect forever home. 'We gutted it and did it up like we were going to die there,' he said. They walked up and down the beach every day, but even a beach can get old. 'In four years, we made four friends. Everyone was a part-timer. So we did some retirement math. We assessed the carrying costs.' The math, and a yearning for friends, told the Murphys to move to Margaritaville." Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker: Retirement the Margaritaville Way. "At the active-living community for Jimmy Buffett enthusiasts, it's five o'clock everywhere." This doesn't seem like my kind of scene. But I might be interested if Cheech and Chong open a retirement community, where it's five o'clock everywhere, but it's never dusk.


Weekend Whats

What to Ukraine: "Oksana Baulina had been reporting from Kyiv and the western city of Lviv ... she previously worked for Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption foundation." This week, Oksana Baulina became the seventh journalist killed covering the Ukraine invasion. The risks being taken to get the truth through Putin's wall of lies is one of the reasons I wanted to have a NextDraft fundraiser. I said for every custom NextDraft T-shirt you purchased at cost, I'd donate $20 to Ukraine-related causes. You bought a lot of them (and you still can). On Wednesday, I spread more than $20,000 across three organizations. Media Lifeline Ukraine is working to keep Ukrainian reporters safe. Meduza is made up of Russian journalists trying to get the truth to Russian citizens. And Tikva works to care for the homeless, abandoned and abused Jewish children of the Odessa region of the Ukraine. During the Holocaust, my mom lived in an amazing children's home in France. So this one hits close to home. The Tikva fundraiser is being run by an impressive young girl and a family friend named Blooma. It's closing in on its goal if you want to give it a push.

+ What to Watch: Pachinko is one of the most anticipated shows in recent memory and it's getting tomato-red hot reviews. I'd expect nothing less from the excellent producer Michael Ellenberg and his team at MediaRes. They're on a hot streak and this sweeping saga that chronicles the hopes and dreams of a Korean immigrant family across four generations looks like their best show yet. Check out Pachinko this weekend.


Extra, Extra

Confirmation Bias: By a near-historic margin, Americans want to the Senate to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. We'll see if the Senate reflects the will of the people after the ugly hearings. For now, Manchin is on board and the confirmation seems likely. (Ted Cruz hammered Jackson about a private school that had antiracist policies. His daughters go to just such a school.)

+ Zona Fide: "The Arizona Legislature passed bills Thursday to prohibit gender reassignment surgery for minors and ban transgender athletes from playing on girls sports teams, joining a growing list of Republican-controlled states attempting to restrict transgender rights as they gain more visibility in culture and society." So pathetic. I hit this topic (pretty hard) yesterday. A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That.

+ Mitski Conditions: "It was a simple request, one that the average music fan would likely scroll by without so much as raising an eyebrow. Live music, Mitski continued, offers 'the feeling of connection, of sharing a dream, and remembering that we have a brief miraculous moment of being alive at the same time.' But when her fans watch her perform live through their phone screens, she said, 'it makes me feel as though those of us on stage are being taken from and consumed as content.'" Mitski Asked Fans to Put Their Phones Down. Then Things Got Ugly. I touched on the topic of phones at concerts about, well, twelve damn years ago. NPR: The iPhone I Can't Keep In My Pants. "Once the concert started and the camera phones got pulled out of thousands of pants pockets, I saw the benefit of being phoneless. I was just about the only person in my section who had no device between my eyes and the stage. I was basically alone with Beyonce." Memories. Let's add one more Weekend What: Mitski.


Feel Good Friday

"Saint Peter's isn't your average Cinderella, and its path was more difficult than that of Davidson, or Oral Roberts, or UMBC. Coaches and players who've spent time at the school, and opposing teams who've played against the Peacocks, can tell you all about the challenges presented in building a program at a place with as limited resources as Saint Peter's. From significant budget constraints to repeated flooding in the basketball offices to swimmers in Speedos walking through the visiting locker room on game days, the stories from the last decade paint a picture of a program that has had to overcome plenty to get into this remarkable position." SI: Inside a Real Cinderella Story. (Even Cinderella had a shoe deal...)

+ The dangerous tour: Ukraine's top rock star takes music to the bunkers.

+ NYT: The Funniest Travel Account on Instagram is Run by the T.S.A. Seriously.

+ Fortnite owner Epic Games raises $50m for humanitarian efforts. (And kids see the importance of such efforts.)

+ Experience: I let a baby bird nest in my hair for 84 days. (Anyone who stops short of three months isn't a true animal lover.)