May 4th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Herschel Walker's Run, And Putin's Alone in the Dark

“He did 5,000 sit-ups and 5,000 push-ups every evening, he says, during commercial breaks of his favorite television shows. He ran laps on a path his father cleared for him and, later, the five miles to town — and back. At track practice, he dragged a tractor tire his coach loaded with 10-pound shots.” Stories like this about Herschel Walker are common knowledge among football players and fans and they make up just part of the lore related to a guy who is a full on sports hero in Georgia. He’s also very likely to be that state’s GOP nominee for Senate. He may reach that position without having to chat with unfriendly journalists, come up with any definitive positions—or even opinions—on issues, or be able to speak knowledgeably on any of the major political issues of the day. Those should be factors when selecting a person to become a member of what used to be considered America’s most selective clubs. But times have changed and the Bulldog days of a new era is upon us. John Rosengren takes you behind the scenes of Herschel Walker’s last run. (Actually, he only really got in front of the scenes because Walker nixed the interview, explaining, “Someone overheard you say you didn’t think I could win this thing.” WaPo Magazine (Gift Article): Backed by Trump, a Troubled Georgia Football Legend Eyes a Senate Seat. “The devotion of his followers runs deep. Take Sue Hall, who graduated in Walker’s class, still lives in Wrightsville and appears in one of his campaign commercials. When asked about Walker’s violent past, including allegations that he threatened to kill his ex-wife, she told me, ‘He’s probably like every one of us; he’s had his issues and had to grow. All of us have to adjust.’ When I said, ‘Yes, but most of us haven’t threatened to kill someone,’ she responded, ‘I believe in him. He’s a moral person. Even if he were not a former classmate, I’d vote for him because of his values.'” (As someone who has yet to break 5,000 pushups in a lifetime, I’d vote for him, too. But for team captain, not the Senate.)

+ In Ohio, the combination of Peter Thiel’s money and Donald Trump’s endorsement helped JD Vance win the much-contested Ohio GOP Senate nomination. Even after all of it — the lying, the cheating, the insurrection, the attacks on the electoral system, the praise for Putin’s genius invasion — Trump’s endorsement is still the most powerful one in the GOP. And being wildly wrong about the most important conflict in the world doesn’t hurt a bit. Vance stated that, “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” and stuck by that position.


Let’s Get Intuit

“James said her investigation into Intuit was sparked by a 2019 ProPublica report that found the company was using deceptive tactics to steer low-income tax filers away from the federally supported free services for which they qualified — and toward its own commercial products, instead.” Intuit to pay $141M settlement over ‘free’ TurboTax ads. One lesson here is about the vital power of quality investigative reporting. The other lesson is that for large corporations, crime usually pays. Intuit admitted no wrongdoing and the fine basically amounts to a rounding error.


If I Could Turn Back Time

“Aside from rights specifically mentioned in the text of the Constitution, Alito argues, only those rights ‘deeply rooted in the nation’s history in tradition’ deserve its protections. This is as arbitrary as it is lawless. Alito is saying there is no freedom from state coercion that conservatives cannot strip away if conservatives find that freedom personally distasteful. The rights of heterosexual married couples to obtain contraception, or of LGBTQ people to be free from discrimination, are obvious targets. But other rights that Americans now take for granted could easily be excluded by this capricious reasoning.” Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: Alito’s Plan to Repeal the 20th Century.

+ “Within a matter of months, women in about half of the United States may be breaking the law if they decide to end a pregnancy. This will be, in large part, because Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is surprised that there is so little written about abortion in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. As it happens, there is also nothing at all in that document, which sets out fundamental law, about pregnancy, uteruses, vaginas, fetuses, placentas, menstrual blood, breasts, or breast milk. There is nothing in that document about women at all. Most consequentially, there is nothing in that document—or in the circumstances under which it was written—that suggests its authors imagined women as part of the political community embraced by the phrase “We the People.” There were no women among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were no women among the hundreds of people who participated in ratifying conventions in the states. There were no women judges. There were no women legislators. At the time, women could neither hold office nor run for office, and, except in New Jersey, and then only fleetingly, women could not vote. Legally, most women did not exist as persons.” Jill Lepore in The New Yorker: Why There Are No Women in the Constitution.


Alone in the Dark

“It looks like he’s certainly listening to Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council. In the footage of the Security Council meeting where they were discussing recognizing the independence of the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, Patrushev was pretty confident and almost telling Putin what to think. He was the one who was saying that America was using Ukraine to destabilize Russia, that our task is to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that the Ukrainians have been forced and frightened down a path of conflict … That’s where the trail seems to end for me. He’s in an echo chamber with Patrushev of where they drink their own Kool-Aid, it seems, because they will discuss this conspiracy of the West trying to use Ukraine to somehow undermine Russia’s stability. And then this has been projected back to them on state TV. So Putin turns on the TV, hears his own ideas projected back at him, and believes that he and Patrushev must be right.” Julia Ioffe with a really interesting interview of Putin expert Catherine Belton. Puck News (Gift Article): Putin vs. His Oligarchs. Consider that the sociopathic Putin may not just be evil, he may have also lost touch with reality. So how does this end?

+ “Amid all the horrors that have unfolded in the war on Ukraine, the Russian bombing of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol on March 16 stands out as the single deadliest known attack against civilians to date. An Associated Press investigation has found evidence that the attack was in fact far deadlier than estimated, killing closer to 600 people inside and outside the building.”


Extra, Extra

An American Life: As a kid he was shipped off to a Japanese internment camp. As an adult, he was the man who ordered the FAA to ground all 4,638 planes in U.S. airspace on 9/11. Today, his name is on a major American airport. In the internment camp, he “struck up a friendship with a local Boy Scout named Alan Simpson, who came to visit the camp and later became a U.S. senator. Decades later, when Mr. Mineta sought a reparations bill in the House, Simpson sponsored a companion bill in the Senate. ‘He came through all that with the camps by just rising above any kind of resentment or bitterness … You look at the way he’s handled it and how hard he’s worked since then and you say, ‘There’s a person of depth.'” From being a 10 year-old in an internment camp to being a 10 term Congressman to creating the TSA… WaPo: Norman Mineta, transportation secretary who helped create TSA, dies at 90. And more on Mineta’s friendship with Alan Simpson in WaPo: Behind a WWII internment camp’s barbed wire, two Scouts forged a bond. It endured when they both entered Congress.

+ Quitting Grass: “It was a perfectly decent patch of lawn, several hundred square feet of grass in a condominium community on this city’s western edge. But Jaime Gonzalez, a worker with a local landscaping firm, had a job to do. Wrangling a heavy gas-powered sod cutter, Mr. Gonzalez sliced the turf away from the soil underneath, like peeling a potato. Two co-workers followed, gathering the strips for disposal. Mr. Gonzalez took little pleasure in destroying this patch of fescue.” We’re running short on water, a reality being felt most acutely in the Southwest. The latest step to address the issue: Outlawing grass. NYT (Gift Article): Where Lawns Are Outlawed (and Dug Up, and Carted Away).

+ Chapelle Mell: “NBC News Los Angeles reported that the suspect was carrying some kind of replica gun with a blade attachement, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether he tried to use it.” Dave Chappelle Tackled Onstage Mid-Performance at Hollywood Bowl. Immediately after the attacker was subdued, Chris Rock walked onto the stage and asked, “Was that Will Smith?” (And I’m not joking.)

+ Words Worth: “Buying the hit puzzle game Wordle was apparently a good bit of business for The New York Times. The company announced its quarterly earnings on Wednesday and credited Wordle for a huge jump in new subscribers.” Buying Wordle brought ‘tens of millions of new users’ to The New York Times.

+ Jersey Score: “The jersey that Argentina’s Diego Maradona wore when he scored the ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup has sold for a world-record price of $9.28 million at an auction at Sotheby’s in London.”


Bottom of the News

Let’s end with a positive. “During Tuesday’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre, a Jays fan went viral online after gifting a young Yankees supporter the home run ball after Aaron Judge’s sixth-inning bomb.” Trust me.

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