Thursday, August 24th, 2023


American Cheese

Say Cheese, America. Today Donald Trump will surrender to Georgia authorities and get his first mugshot. But it really should be the rest of us getting fingerprinted, mugshotted, and otherwise processed. After all, we're the ones who have been in a Trump news prison for seven years. Yes, it's good that the slow turning wheels of justice are finally gaining some momentum, but they're driving us straight into the orange haze of the Trump information superhighway. OJ's White Ford Bronco chase lasted 90 minutes. Trump's has lasted 90 months and there's still no sign of an offramp. "Trump had his legal team negotiate his booking to take place during the primetime viewing hours for the cable news networks," as if the cable networks would cover anything else other than Trump during prime time or any other time. Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon coined the term attention economy. That turns out to be the one business or economy Trump hasn't managed to bankrupt. And today, in primetime, he'll drop another IOU into a coin slot on his mirror, mirror on the great big beautiful wall. Some will celebrate the mugshot. But it's just another sad chapter in a never-ending story that's attacked our national psyche and turned the future of American democracy into a cliffhanger. It's not a pretty picture.

+ Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is asking for the trial of all 19 people to begin on October 23. That's speedy. But at this point, things can't be speedy enough. Here's the latest from Georgia, as if you could miss it.

+ Meanwhile, some who could be described as un-indicted co-conspirators seem determined to keep criming. House Judiciary Committee launches inquiry into Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

+ Even when Trump's not there, he's there, as evidenced by the GOP debate, a consolation match to see who can come in 30 points behind an indicted, insurrectionist, traitor—featuring candidates who cynically follow their leader into a bottomless cesspool of lies and corruption. "Only two of the eight Republican candidates debating in Milwaukee — former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson — indicated that they would not support former president Donald Trump if he is convicted of crimes." Is there really anything else that matters when it comes to the debate? OK, maybe this. When Fox News moderators asked for a show of hands of how many candidates believe in human-caused climate change, no hands went up. It's too scary to stand up to Trump. It's too scary to upset the base by telling the truth about climate change. Seriously, what are these subs gonna do if their dom goes to jail?

+ "The eight GOP candidates onstage last night often seemed like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, with their words largely stripped of meaning by the absence of the central protagonist in their drama." Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the Republican Debate. (At least Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had a protagonist who communicated in iambic pentameter, not all-caps.)

+ Frank Bruni in the NYT: "Their debate performances mingled moral cowardice with political malpractice to produce a baffling, exasperating, infuriating spectacle." In other words, he saw a re-run. And sadly for the participants, it's a spectacle that is about to be dwarfed by a mugshot. Imagine selling your soul to be an extra in someone else's reality show.


Kremlin Looking to Hire New Caterer

"In the year and a half that has passed since February 2022, two gas-industry executives were found dead with suicide notes. Three Russian executives were killed, alongside their wives and children, in what appeared to be murder-suicides. The body of the owner of a resort in Sochi was discovered at the bottom of a cliff. Another executive was found floating in a pool in St. Petersburg. Others have fallen out of windows or down staircases in Moscow, India, the French Riviera, and Washington, DC ... So, yes, this is another mysterious death, but it is a new kind of mysterious death. With this plane crash, the violence on the periphery of Russia's empire has now migrated to its very heart." Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Prigozhin's Death Heralds Even More Spectacular Violence. (When madmen aren't stopped, they escalate.)


Bulls Market

"Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles and won five MVP awards, is a cultural icon whose likeness, from his silhouette on shoes to his smiling face on $100 collectible Wheaties boxes, is ubiquitous." So is his income. Bloomberg (Gift Article): Michael Jordan Is the Richest Basketball Player Ever With $3.5 Billion Fortune. (Oh to be an heir Jordan...)


Open and Shut

"A few years ago, Andy Roddick threw away nearly all of his trophies. 'I thought, I don't really need these,' he tells me. 'Anyone who's in our house kind of knows what I did.' We're sitting on the screened-in porch of his lodge-like getaway in Cashiers, North Carolina, a remote village in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's a house that feels lived-in. Shoes can stay on. Coasters are never mentioned. One of the few prizes he's kept, his runner-up platter from the 2006 U.S. Open, lies on the living room coffee table, repurposed as a drink caddy, its surface stained with cocktail glass rings." Roddick is the last American man to win a grand slam. And then came the big three. Let's get warmed up for the US Open with Sean Manning's GQ piece: Andy Roddick's Open Era.


Extra, Extra

This Wasabi Tastes Weird... "The move has led to criticism, particularly from fishermen, that the decision to release the water was made without enough public debate and input from Japan's northeast Tohoku region ... China announced it is expanding an existing ban on seafood imports from Fukushima to include all of Japan." Worries over seafood safety mount as Japan releases Fukushima water into the Pacific. From NPR: 5 things to know about Japan's Fukushima water release in the Pacific.

+ Put a Roark In It: Subway has sold itself to a private equity group called, Roark Capital. Roark now owns Dunkin', Baskin-Robbins, Sonic, Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings Jimmy John's, Auntie Anne's, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister's, Moe's Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky's. And indirectly, they basically created the market for Ozempic.

+ Kissing Ass: "FIFA opened a disciplinary case Thursday against the Spanish soccer official who kissed a player on the lips while celebrating the team's victory in the Women's World Cup final." (You know things are rough when FIFA thinks you're behaving badly.) Minutes before this kiss, "Rubiales grabbed his crotch as a victory gesture in the exclusive section of seats with Queen Letizia of Spain and 16-year-old Princess Sofía standing nearby."

+ Whale Tale: "It may seem like a stretch, the kind that relegates environmentalists deep into woo-woo territory, but as our conversation unfolds, it starts making sense. Whale poop fertilizes ocean plankton. The plankton reproduces rapidly, absorbing carbon dioxide as it photosynthesizes sunlight. Eventually it sinks to the seafloor, trapping the planet-warming gas in layers of sediment. Fewer whales means less plankton sequestering CO, leaving more in the atmosphere. That means more of the heat driving the wildfires that have smoked out much of North America." Time: One Man's Quest to Heal the Oceans—And Maybe Save the World. (Funny, whale poop was not discussed during the GOP debate.)

+ Bears Market: Because I'm sad about the destruction of the Pac 12, I'm following the story pretty closely. The latest negotiations between Cal, Stanford, SMU, and the ACC will give you some idea of what college football has become. "The inclusion of all three schools is being heavily discussed, in part, because they would come with significant financial concessions from each of the schools, according to sources. The conversations within the ACC this week revolved around how that additional money would be distributed among conference members. A small group of ACC presidents met Wednesday morning to discuss different ways to divide that money."

+ Say it Ain't Sho: This is not news any baseball fan wants to hear. "Shohei Ohtani has a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will not pitch again this season."


Bottom of the News

"Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte goes on sale Thursday in the U.S. and Canada, as it does each year when the nights start getting longer and the fall winds gather. It's the coffee giant's most popular seasonal beverage, with hundreds of millions sold since its launch in 2003. And it has produced a huge — and growing — industry of imitators flecked with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove." Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte turns 20, whether you like it or not.

+ "Most recipes include cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and vanilla." What Is Pumpkin Spice?

+ Eater: The Pumpkin Spice Latte Is Just a Hot Milkshake.

+ And, That's the way we all became The Shady Bunch.