Monday, August 28th, 2023


When Your Head Explodes

In December of 2020, when Trump's Big Lie was in full throttle and he was openly making the attempts to overturn the election that have landed him in multiple courts, the New Yorker's Barry Blitt published one of his most incisive cartoons: Donald Trump is on a therapist's couch. In the chair next to him sits a psychologist holding his pen to a notepad. But when you scan up, you realize that the shrink's head has exploded. Back then, a lot of us felt the same way the therapist did. These days, as we watch indictments, trial dates, and mugshots fail to dampen the enthusiasm of Trump's base of devotees or the steady, callous enabling of GOP party leaders, even more of us have that head-exploding feeling. Why don't the lies and crimes hurt Trump? How can current polling be accurate? In short: what the hell? I simultaneously covered 2020 in NextDraft and wrote a book about 2020. I effectively lived through the craziest American year twice. So pieces of my exploded head were scattered from coast to coast a long time ago. Some days, all that's left when I think about this stuff is a torso, a laptop, and a shrug emoji. So today, I'll leave it to others to provide explanations of Trump, trials, and the election that could determine the future of American democracy. First, a must-read from Will Bunch in The Philadelphia Inquirer: Journalism fails miserably at explaining what is really happening to America. "These are the stakes: dueling visions for America — not Democratic or Republican, with parades and red, white, and blue balloons, but brutal fascism or flawed democracy. The news media needs to stop with the horse-race coverage of this modern-day March on Rome, stop digging incessantly for proof that both sides are guilty of the same sins, and stop thinking that a war for the imperiled survival of the American Experiment is some kind of inexplicable 'tribalism.'"

+ Michael Tomasky in TNR: Trump's Trials Don't Interrupt His Campaign—They Are His Campaign. "This makes no sense in normal Earth logic. But under the logic of fascism, normal Earth logic is reversed. This is what people—and far, far too much of the mainstream media—don't understand."

+ None of this is to suggest that Trump isn't facing deep, deep legal trouble. Trump trial set for March 4, 2024, in federal case charging him with plotting to overturn election. (Given the above stories, it's worth noting this is the day before Super Tuesday.)

+ Trump used to flood the zone with so much information people wouldn't know what to believe. Now he floods the zone with court dates. When Will Trump Be in Court? These Are the Dates to Watch.


Dream Team

Sixty years ago there was a historic march on Washington culminating with MLK's most famous speech and no one lied about the size of the crowd. As we mark the memory of that day, let's also note a pre-speech suggestion made by Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. "Tell them about the dream, Martin."

+ An Oral History of the March on Washington.


Joint Account

"She arrived in a white Range Rover, wearing Gucci and Prada, and carrying a small dog in her purse. She said her name was Indiana. As she walked around the property, she FaceTimed her husband, then told West that it wasn't quite what they had in mind, and that he should keep looking. West said that he'd need a retainer. She reached into her purse and pulled out five thousand dollars. 'That was a little unusual,' West recalled." Charles Bethea in The New Yorker: How a Man in Prison Stole Millions from Billionaires. "With smuggled cell phones and a handful of accomplices, Arthur Lee Cofield, Jr., took money from large bank accounts and bought houses, cars, clothes, and gold."


Mother’s Nature

"The weather forecast the day my mother died called for an isolated tornado, which is the best description of her I've ever heard. My mother, the artist Jennifer Bartlett, brought her own atmosphere with her wherever she went — a cloud of perfume, a cloud of smoke, a cloud of utter f-cklessness." Alice Carrière in The Cut: My Mother the Creator.


Extra, Extra

Good Times, Bad Times: Judd Legum: "The leading economic indicators show the U.S. economy is performing well, but most Americans still believe economic conditions are extremely poor — as if the country was mired in a deep recession. What explains this discrepancy?" (Two big divides: the political one and the economic one.)

+ America First? "Blending a tough-on-China stance with lavish federal subsidies for favored industries, the president is reshaping the U.S. approach to cross-border commerce to focus on the needs of Americans as workers rather than consumers." WaPo (Gift Article): Biden's course for U.S. on trade breaks with Clinton and Obama.

+ The More You Know: "He was in possession of an AR-15-style weapon and a handgun; he left manifestos about his hatred toward African Americans; he was wearing a tactical-style uniform, as if going to war. There are still questions about how he acquired the guns, his mental state, and whether he had accomplices. But the basic storyline is written. He made it easy. He wanted us to know." The Jacksonville Killer Wanted Everyone to Know His Message of Hate. (It's a message of hate that's been adopted by plenty of people for political gain. The bigger problem is that some people translate these messages into actions.)

+ Do you kiss your mama with that mouth? The story about the post World Cup kiss is far from over. "The mother of embattled Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales has locked herself in a church and said she is on hunger strike in protest at her son's treatment."

+ Robitusslin: "The move comes after months of debate over the wearing of abayas in French schools, where women and girls have long been barred from wearing the Islamic headscarf or face coverings. A March 2004 law banned 'the wearing of signs or outfits by which students ostensibly show a religious affiliation' in schools. That includes large crosses, Jewish kippahs and Islamic headscarves." France bans Islamic abaya robes in schools.

+ Florida Storm Watch: "Tropical Storm Idalia is now expected to grow into a 'major hurricane' by the time it reaches Florida late Tuesday."

+ "Bob Barker, Come On Up!" "Barker, whose career spanned more than eight decades, was best known as the longtime host of The Price Is Right on CBS. In 2002, he broke Johnny Carson's record for continuous performances on the same network TV show." Longtime 'Price Is Right' host Bob Barker dies at 99. (It was incredible how many people around my age shared similar stories about watching Barker on days they were home sick from school.) A look back at a couple fun Letterman Top Tens with Barker.

+ Breath of Fresh Air: Whatever happened to the brothers who save birds whose wings are cut by kite strings? Catching up with the guys from the excellent documentary All that Breathes.


Bottom of the News

"Thousands gathered in the city of Tilburg in the Netherlands this week to celebrate redheads and "gingers" at an annual summit, complete with campfires, photo booths, portrait painting, dancing and even an info session on skin cancer." WaPo (Gift Article): Thousands gather at annual Redhead Days Festival in the Netherlands.

+ With Hollywood striking, there are a whole lot more celebrities offering their services on Cameo.