Tuesday, August 16th, 2022


War Games

Here's your challenge: Quickly bring together a group of wary allies with a lot at stake to defend a historically corrupt country with a former comedian and political newbie for a president by providing enough military support to maintain the post WWII order, but not so much that you provoke a nuclear war. With some excellent reporting, a group of WaPo reporters take you behind the scenes at The White House during the lead up to the Russian invasion. (Gift Article): Road to war: U.S. struggled to convince allies, and Zelensky, of risk of invasion. "The U.S. intelligence community had penetrated multiple points of Russia's political leadership, spying apparatus and military, from senior levels to the front lines ... Using mounted maps on easels in front of the Resolute Desk, Milley showed Russian troop positions and the Ukrainian terrain they intended to conquer. It was a plan of staggering audacity, one that could pose a direct threat to NATO's eastern flank, or even destroy the post-World War II security architecture of Europe. As he absorbed the briefing, Biden, who had taken office promising to keep the country out of new wars, was determined that Putin must either be deterred or confronted, and that the United States must not act alone. Yet NATO was far from unified on how to deal with Moscow, and U.S. credibility was weak. After a disastrous occupation of Iraq, the chaos that followed the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and four years of President Donald Trump seeking to undermine the alliance, it was far from certain that Biden could effectively lead a Western response to an expansionist Russia."

+ Yesterday, I shared my take on how the reaction to the Mar-a-Lago search and the attack on Salman Rushdie are connected. You can read and share it here: An American Fatwa?


Can You Hear Me Now?

It's about to get a lot easier to turn up the volume. "The Food and Drug Administration said the new regulation cuts red tape by creating a new class of hearing aids that don't require a medical exam, a prescription and other specialty evaluations. The devices will be sold online or over-the-counter at pharmacies and other retail stores." Finally. Expect much cheaper and much better products.


Wyoming Dynasty

"She entered Congress six years ago as a relative celebrity, the daughter of the former vice president who spent several years using Fox News appearances to deliver acid-tongued critiques of the Obama-Biden administration. And she could exit the U.S. Capitol, likely in 4½ months, as the face of an anti-Trump movement that has cost her old alliances but left her with new supporters, clamoring for a next act more nationally focused." Liz Cheney will probably lose her re-election bid in Wyoming today. But her political career is far from over. WaPo: Liz Cheney's political life is likely ending — and just beginning.

+ Who What Where and Wyoming: Like every election these days, Cheney's race will be covered as if it were all about Trump. It's not that simple. Liz Cheney's primary is all about Donald Trump — except in Wyoming. "In the sparsely populated state where their ultra-nationalized race is playing out, this primary is just one more battle in a civil war between factions in the only party with any political relevance."


Walrus to Judgment

A Walrus named Freya achieved celebrity status in Norway. She got so popular that crowds would get a little too close, creating a risk for Freya and for curious humans. But then, "the decision to euthanize Freya ... brought an abrupt end to her summer of stardom." Freya the walrus delighted Norway. Her death has left the country divided.

+ Why Freya the Walrus is the perfect metaphor for our times. "This glorious creature was forced to leave her home because of man, was then deemed a danger because of her proximity to man, and then had her cruelly life taken away by man." Oh, man.


Extra, Extra

What to Expect When You're Expecting Fantacism: "The trial court found, based on the nonadversarial presentation below, that Appellant had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy." A Florida court has ruled that a teen is not mature enough to terminate a pregnancy but is mature enough to be a mother. (You don't have to suffer from morning sickness to be puking right now.)

+ A Show About Nothing: "When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them." Tom Nichols with a solid essay in The Atlantic: The New Era of Political Violence Is Here.

+ Bundle of Oy: "The streaming era was supposed to give consumers more choice, but streaming options increasingly resemble the bloated cable bundles they sought to replace." (Gee, who saw this coming...) The TV bundle is back.

+ Let the Mother Effer Burn: The New Yorker: How Did Fighting Climate Change Become a Partisan Issue? "How did caring about a drowned or desiccated future come to be a partisan issue? Perhaps the simplest answer is money."

+ Monkey See, Monkey Do: "All of this feels like an uncanny echo of the early mishandling of Covid-19. Limited access to testing, a hobbled federal infrastructure to track cases, and the general lack of communication among different agencies and states complicated the federal government's ability to make evidence-based public health decisions." Why monkeypox is a repeat of the data mistakes made with Covid-19.

+ Whatever Floats Your Vote: The NBA schedule won't have games on Election Day this year. That's good. But why not just have games and let folks vote at the stadiums?


Bottom of the News

"I didn't get to know Sean — nobody got to know Sean because he was Spicoli the entire time." ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High' Turns 40: Director, Stars on Concerns Over Sexuality and Its Surprise Success. Execs worried that the movie would come off as p-rnography (which for those of us of a certain age in 1982, it sort of was.)