Friday, June 9th, 2023


Docu Drama

He's back. Well, really, he never left. He has dominated our national attention since he rode the Trump Tower escalator into a presidential race and our communal consciousness. His presidency felt as if OJ's white Ford Bronco chase had lasted four years, and his current and future legal woes mean the Bronco just smashed into our amygdala, taking up valuable parking, setting off blaring alarms, and triggering an endless leak of toxic sludge. Every time we think he's out of our gray matter, news events pull him back in. And he we are again. He did the crime. But we'll do the time. From AP: "Donald Trump's indictment on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate represents the most serious legal jeopardy so far for Trump, coming less than three months after he was charged in New York with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Here's a look at the charges."

While this indictment is huge on its own, it's miniscule compared to the looming investigations into Trump's incitement of the Jan 6 insurrection and his extensive efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. We don't need to dig through boxes at Mar-a-Lago to find evidence of these efforts—we witnessed them in real time. Among other crimes, the latest indictment accuses Trump of violating the Espionage Act – which covers a lot more crimes than just spying. As concerning as that is, I'm even more worried about another act, the one being perpetrated by Trump's eternal enablers who know full-well who he is and what he's done but who continue to cravenly pretend he is the victim of some weaponized government attack. It's sad, pathetic, weak, and cowardly, but it's also dangerous for the country.

Unsurprisingly, Kevin McCarthy has been the worst of the offenders. His take: "Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable." McCarthy knows "a President" didn't indict Trump, and that this is not a "grave injustice." But he's more concerned about maintaining the support of the most rabid elements of Trump's base than he is with the good of the nation. It's a familiar story and a bottomless pit. And McCarthy is representative of many in his party who are clinging to this notion of the US government being weaponized against Trump, when they know as well as you do that January 6 was a literal example of Trump inciting a weaponized mob against the government. Even Trump's GOP presidential opponents don't have the smidgeon of courage required to describe a guy they despise as anything other than a victim. David Frum in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Republicans: Quit Pretending to Be Mad. "The conservative world in the age of Trump has coiled itself into a labyrinth of lies: lies about Trump's victimhood, lies about Trump's popularity, lies about Trump's election outcomes, lies about Trump's mental acuity and physical strength. The architects of the labyrinth presumed that they could always, if necessary, find an exit—and that their keys could someday turn the exit's locks. Instead, they have found themselves as lost and trapped in the labyrinth as the deceived people they lured into it."

Trump is the one being indicted by the special counsel, but all these other self-interested liars are self-indicting in real time.

Meanwhile, for Trump, 2024 is now all about a pardon. A self-pardon if he's the candidate. A pardon by a fellow GOP nominee in exchange for his support if he isn't. In the end, what shouldn't be political at all will be dominated by politics.

+ Trump aide Walt Nauta also indicted in classified documents case.

+ You can read the full indictment here. (It's really pretty basic. He took documents. He lied about it. He kept them. He obstructed efforts to get to the bottom of it. In other words: Classic Trump.) And from NPR: Here's a breakdown of the indictment's 37 counts against Trump.

+ "President Biden said he has not spoken to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday. 'I have not spoken to him at all, and I'm not going to speak with him,' Biden told reporters at the end of an event in North Carolina, per the White House pool.
'And I have no comment on that,' he added, referring to the Trump indictment.'" (In today's political messaging environment, there's no comment better than "No comment.") Here's the latest from WaPo.


You Don’t Know Jack…

... but, along with Donald Trump, you're about to get to know him. The special counsel made his first statements about the indictment on Friday. As expected, his comments were brief and to the point. Long story short: This is a big deal, we followed the facts, and you should read the indictment for yourself. If you just read what I wrote about Trump's enablers, welcome to opposite world.


Chug Life

"On a predictable schedule, there's a headline that makes you spit out your Diet Coke. This week, it's that sucralose, the artificial sweetener found in Splenda, as well as Diet Coke with Splenda has been found to be 'genotoxic,' meaning it can break down DNA, which is widely accepted as something that's not good and can lead to unpleasant things like leaky gut syndrome. But not so fast. Epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz ... noted that the study took place in petri dishes, and said that it would take chugging 50,000 cans of Diet Rite Cola over two hours to reach the specific sucralose concentration levels where DNA damage was found to occur in the study." (I drank diet soda at approximately that rate in my heyday.) GQ: Artificial Sweeteners Are Basically Fine, So Why Are We So Desperate to Find Something Wrong With Them?

+ The new generation of energy seekers doesn't need to drink nearly as much as we did. Why? Because the new drinks are loaded with caffeine. "Some servings have nearly the same level of caffeine as a six-pack of Coca-Cola." NYT (Gift Article): Energy Drinks Are Surging. So Are Their Caffeine Levels. (With all the lobbying around food, sugar, and big beverage, we'll need to consume a hell of lot more caffeine to wade through all the studies and reports to figure out what's good or bad for us.)

+ Taurine, found in energy drinks, helped animals live longer. Scientists want to try it on humans, too.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: Being Mary Tyler Moore on HBO "chronicles the vanguard career of Mary Tyler Moore, weaving her personal narrative with the beats of her professional accomplishments, highlighting her groundbreaking roles and the indelible impact she had on generations of women who came after her."

+ What to Read: "As his company was liquidated and law enforcement authorities opened investigations on two continents, Mr. Davies spent his days painting in cafes and reading Hemingway on the beach. He also went sightseeing. He traveled in Thailand, where the fried oysters cost only a few dollars, and admired the local architecture in Malaysia. He posted a photo from a private zoo in Dubai, showing him stroking a tiger chained to a pole. In Bahrain, he attended a Formula 1 event in the run-up to the Grand Prix." NYT (Gift Article): Their Crypto Company Collapsed. They Went to Bali: The implosion of Three Arrows Capital, a cryptocurrency hedge fund, devastated the industry. Its two founders spent the next year surfing, meditating and traveling the world. (Maybe Crypto's most lasting legacy will be its ability to attract jackasses.)

+ What to Gram: A cool collection of photos that shows famous people in the same photo with a younger version of themselves.


Extra, Extra

When Netflix Would No Longer Chill: A funny thing happened when Netflix started its crackdown on customers sharing passwords. It got a slew of new paying customers. Netflix Password Crackdown Drives U.S. Sign-Ups to Highest Levels in at Least Four Years.

+ Chile Children: "Thousands of Chileans, illegally adopted during the Pinochet dictatorship, are now relying on tech to trace their biological families." Rest of World: How Chile's stolen babies are finding their biological families after decades apart.

+ Bad Spaniels: "The US supreme court on Thursday gave a boost to Jack Daniel's in its trademark dispute with a dog accessory company that sold a parody chew toy resembling the distiller's widely recognized black-label whiskey bottle." Whiskey-a-no-no: dog toy cannot mimic Jack Daniel's, US supreme court rules. What divided court? This ruling was 9-0.

+ Cat Out of the Hat: Between the pandemic rush to adopt pets and the increasing cost of caring for them, a lot of New Yorkers decided to set their new cats free. Like, really a lot. NYT: How to Clear 500,000 Feral Cats From New York's Streets.


Feel Good Friday

"The attacker slashed at the 24-year-old Catholic pilgrim with the knife that he used to savagely stab one young child after another. But rather than run, Henri held his ground — using a weighty backpack he was carrying to swing at the assailant and fend off his blade. French media hailed Henri as 'the hero with a backpack' Friday after he was shown in a video grappling with the assailant and charging after him."

+ "After becoming the first player in 72 years to win on her LPGA debut, the 20-year-old American could be what's needed for a tour that's deeper than ever but wanting for household names." Rose Zhang: the US college golf star toppling Tiger Woods' records.

+ A 10-year-old girl was rescued after spending a night lost and alone in the frigid cold Cascade mountains outside of Seattle, Washington.

+ Oklahoma tops Florida State for third straight NCAA softball title.

+ E-bike penetration jumps in India by nearly 40%.

+ In this youth baseball league, fans who mistreat umpires are sentenced to do the job themselves.