April 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Throwing America under the bus, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday

Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell saw and heard exactly what the rest of us saw and heard on January 6th and, because they’re not stupid or completely insane, their immediate reactions were similar to yours. But then they checked the polls and realized that Trump was still popular, and so, with their moral compasses having long ago been melted in the molten liquid iron of the Earth’s core, they rose to his defense. NYT (Gift Article): In the days after the attack, Representative Kevin McCarthy planned to tell Mr. Trump to resign. Senator Mitch McConnell told allies impeachment was warranted. But their fury faded fast. (Their ethics faded faster.) “The confidential expressions of outrage from Mr. McCarthy and Mr. McConnell, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the immense gulf between what Republican leaders say privately about Mr. Trump and their public deference to a man whose hold on the party has gone virtually unchallenged for half a decade. The leaders’ swift retreat in January 2021 represented a capitulation at a moment of extraordinary political weakness for Mr. Trump — perhaps the last and best chance for mainstream Republicans to reclaim control of their party from a leader who had stoked an insurrection against American democracy itself.”

How craven and cowardly was the this American betrayal? Let’s consider the case of Kevin McCarthy. Shortly after the insurrection, during a conversation with colleagues, including Liz Cheney, McCarthy said he thought the second impeachment effort would pass and that he was considering making a call to Trump to suggest that he resign. When the story of this consideration broke this week, McCarthy and his office went into full and familiar lie mode and denied he ever made the suggestion. But, Lordy, their are tapes.

Let’s step back and consider what this pusillanimous coward did to Liz Cheney. On a phone call with her he made it clear he understood Trump’s role in the insurrection and that removal from office was a reasonable outcome. Then, faced with the threat of angering the monster his party helped to create, he backtracked, voted against impeachment, visited Trump to publicly kiss his ring, stripped Liz Cheney of her party leadership roles and allowed her to be publicly maligned for the crime of maintaining the same views he actually held himself, and threw her (and American democracy) under a one way bus to Mar-a-Lago. At this point, none of us are stupid or completely insane enough to think this will mark some closing of the chasm between what GOP leaders think of Trump vs what they say about him. That’s one story that will never pivot. But, for history’s sake, it’s worth calling out all the cowardly lyin’ done in the name of the most anti-American president ever, who, like the Wizard of Oz, is ultimately nothing but a common con man.


License to Kill

“While suicides contributed to the toll, the data shows that homicides form the majority of gun-related deaths. More than 390 million guns are owned by US civilians.” Guns overtook car crashes to become the leading cause of death for US children and teenagers in 2020.


The Front Line and the Back Room

“Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the country’s leading companies with a historic opportunity to reverse the decades-long trends of widening inequality and shareholder primacy, making change for workers seem possible.” Brookings looked at the top 22 companies that employ frontline workers to see how they did. Profits and the pandemic: As shareholder wealth soared, workers were left behind. “Far from curbing inequality, the modest gains to workers were dwarfed by the gains to already wealthy shareholders, including executives and billionaires. The 22 companies’ shareholders grew $1.5 trillion richer, while their 7 million workers (more than half of whom are nonwhite) received $27 billion in additional pay—less than 2% of shareholders’ gains. At seven of these companies, the wealth of 13 billionaire founders and heirs alone would have grown by nearly $160 billion since the start of the pandemic—more than 12 times all extra pay to the 3.4 million U.S. workers those companies employed.”


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: CNN is finally going to air the amazing documentary on Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. I saw it streaming from Sundance. It was a riveting, remarkable must-watch before the Ukraine invasion. It’s mandatory viewing now. It airs on Sunday night. And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Bill Browder’s latest book on his experiences with Putin’s murderous corruption. Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath.

+ What to Hear: I’ve been digging Sam Fender’s latest, breakthrough album. Start with Seventeen Going Under. If you get as hooked on that song as I have, then check out the acoustic version with the excellent Holly Humberstone.

+ What to Watch: AppleTV is on a roll and my family has been digging Slow Horses, a story about a dysfunctional team of MI5 agents.

+ What to Read: “These were not the people I imagined seated behind a multiscreen trading setup or moving assets around an investment portfolio. Many were here, trying to make money in crypto, because they felt they had no other choice. People struggling financially, who despise their jobs, who feel the system is rigged and there is no way out. People whose country has been at war for years and want to leave, or who have left and want to help family members who stayed behind. From crypto they draw optimism for the future, the possibility that their lives could change, or that they could change the lives of others.” Sarah Resnick with a really interesting and unique article about cryptocurrency. In the end, so many of today’s stories come back to one underlying issue: the economic divide. Walk Away Like a Boss: Postcard from the cryptosphere.


Extra, Extra

Endless Murder: “Mariupol’s Mayor Vadym Boychenko spoke to the BBC earlier and was asked about the reports of atrocities taking place in the besieged city. Boychenko said: ‘There are already eyewitness statements from Mariupol citizens about the atrocities that they saw and are still seeing, unfortunately.’ He said the number of people killed in Mariupol is frightening, and ‘over 20,000.'” Meanwhile, Boris Johnson said there’s a realistic possibility that the invasion will last through next year. What would be left of Ukraine? Here’s the latest from BBC.

+ No Fuss, No Plus: It’s mostly a case of new management crushing what old management had built, but it was always hard to imagine that people who have watched the last five years of CNN would think, “I think I could use some more CNN.” CNN Plus is shutting down just weeks after launching.

+ Life Imitating Bart: “We’re now at a point in history when generations of people have scarcely known a world without The Simpsons. ‘The first 10 seasons were a defining cultural phenomenon,’ Sachs tells me. ‘Why was it so important? It was mainstream and subversive at the same time. It grew out of punk culture and represented a popular mistrust of government and police, and the corporations who control them. Because it was animated, it got away with murder. It could say and show things that were too violent, outrageous, or anarchistic for broadcast television. And it happened every week for a decade.'” GQ: The Simpsons Enduring Power.

+ Board at Work: ” I caught about 10 waves, and each was more or less identical; they always broke in the same place and in the same direction and never closed out on top of me. It was surfing, but optimized and run like an assembly line. And here’s the thing: It was so, so sick.” The Atlantic: I Went Surfing in an Office Park.


Feel Good Friday

“Senator Lana Theis accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an attempt to marginalize me for standing up against her marginalizing the LGBTQ community…in a fundraising email, for herself. Hate wins when people like me stand by and let it happen. I won’t.”

+ Students Across The Country Are Going Silent To Protest Against Anti-LGBTQ Laws. (We’ve sure given kids a lot to fix.)

+ “Wind is responsible for a growing percentage of electricity generation in the US — rising from 2.3% in 2010 to 9.2% in 2021.” Wind power is blowing up.

+ ‘The sound of money’: Wind energy is booming in deep-red Republican states.

+ More than one million African children protected by first malaria vaccine.

+ B.C. conservation group moves thousands of salmon — by hand — so fish can produce millions of eggs.

+ Nova Scotia taxi driver leaves $1.68 million to local hospital in his will.

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