Thursday, February 8th, 2024

1

The Skeptic Tank

I'm searching for the right word to describe the Supreme Court's reaction to Colorado's citing of the 14th Amendment to remove Trump from the ballot. Dubious? Doubtful? Incredulous? Mistrustful? Suspicious? Unconvinced? Wait, I think I've got it: Skeptical. I saw that word in nearly every headline covering Thursday's oral arguments. "Their main concern was whether Congress must act before states can invoke a constitutional provision that was adopted after the Civil War to prevent former officeholders who 'engaged in insurrection' from holding office again. There also were questions about whether the president is covered by the provision. Without such congressional legislation, Justice Elena Kagan was among several justices who wanted to know 'why a single state should decide who gets to be president of the United States.'" The Supreme Court seems poised to reject efforts to kick Trump off the ballot over the Capitol riot. In the face of all this skepticism, a little cynicism is in order. So allow me... There's today's SCOTUS hearing on the 14th Amendment, there are the Jack Smith Cases, there's the Georgia Case, there are the NY cases, but in the end, the big, horrific problem facing America is that one political party still massively supports a treacherous, deranged, criminal. No court case can undo that reality.

+ Trump's reaction to the hearing? He said there were no guns used by insurrectionists on January 6th and that the insurrection was caused by Nancy Pelosi. Here's the latest from CNN.

+ The Atlantic (Gift Article): Welcome Back to the Chaos of the Trump Era. Can we stomach much more of this? I'm skeptical.

2

This Bet is a Lock

"The world of gambling, once so anathema that the NFL refused to air a television ad for Las Vegas, has become woven directly into the fabric of pro sports. Online sportsbooks like FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. — which allow bettors to wager on games straight from their phones — have signed big-money sponsorships with major leagues, feeding casual TV viewers a constant stream of gambling analysis and oddsmaking. The bookies that once haunted Old Las Vegas are now in your pocket, leaving the city free to host the games directly." Bloomberg (Gift Article): Once a Sports Desert, Las Vegas Bets Big on Luring Pro Leagues.

+ The Atlantic (Gift Article): The Long Odds of This Year's Super Bowl Location. (Always bet on money.)

+ How's it going so far? Ask Carrot Top. Even he's having a hard time scoring a ticket the the Super Bowl. NYT (Gift Article): Can a Vegas Legend Get Super Bowl Tickets?

3

Money Talks (and Talks)

One of the weirder aspects of our weird era is that people who have the biggest, loudest, and most covered voices are often the biggest and loudest voices of concern over free speech. William D. Cohan on one aspect of this weirdness in the NYT (Gift Article): How Loud Billionaires Convert Their Wealth Into Power. "Whether you think Mr. Ackman is a billionaire blowhard or a courageous iconoclast, he is part of a paradigm shift in social media in which rich people are increasingly able to convert financial capital into social capital. He's hardly even the first or most outrageous beneficiary of this unfortunate reality: That distinction probably belongs to his fellow billionaires Donald Trump and Elon Musk, who, like Mr. Ackman, have also discovered that unfiltered, limitless social media platforms are heaven for those with unconventional opinions and God complexes." (I've got both of those and I still can't seem to go viral.)

4

Metal Medal Mettle

"It's the opportunity for the athletes to bring back a piece of Paris with them ... The absolute symbol of Paris and France is the Eiffel Tower." Eiffel Tower metal will be included in Olympics and Paralympics medals. (Let's hope they don't take it from the bottom.)

5

Extra, Extra

Iraq and a Hard Place: "A leader of Kataib Hezbollah and two of his guards were in a vehicle when it was targeted in the east of the Iraqi capital. All three of them died.
The Pentagon said the commander was responsible for directing attacks on American forces in the region." US drone strike kills Iran-backed militia leader in Baghdad.

+ Coup Review: "Brazil's ex-President Jair Bolsonaro has been given 24 hours to surrender his passport amid an ongoing investigation into the 2023 storming of Brazil's Congress by his supporters. Police accuse him of having led a failed plot to remain in power after losing the election to his left-wing rival." Brazil's ex-leader Bolsonaro to have passport seized over coup probe. Coups are illegal in some places? Interesting.

+ Disarming News: "Ukraine's president has sacked the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. It follows speculation about a rift between the president and Gen Zaluzhnyi, who has led Ukraine's war effort since the conflict began."

+ Crypto the Line: "Crypto did not level the playing field. It exposed the vulnerable to fraud and scams." The cruelty of crypto.

+ Big Brother Tucker: "Tucker Carlson is not a useful idiot. Not precisely. The term implies naïveté, but he seems to know exactly what he's doing. He claims to be in Moscow to interview Putin because the rest of the press refuses to do so. In fact, Putin's press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, was just one of many who have pointed out that major press organizations have repeatedly requested interviews and been rebuffed. Peskov explained that Carlson had been approved because 'he has a position that differs from the rest of [Western media].' Yes, supine." Tucker Carlson's Fatal Attraction.

+ May I Ask Who's Calling? "The agency's chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel [Editor's note: A national treasure] said bad actors have been using AI-generated voices in robocalls to misinform voters, impersonate celebrities and extort family members. 'It seems like something from the far-off future, but this threat is already here.'" AI-generated voices in robocalls can deceive voters. The FCC just made them illegal.

+ Purdy Purdy Purdy Good: OK, we waited long enough for the hype in my mind to bleed into the newsletter. Let's go! Super Bowl Cheat Sheet: The 25 Things You Need to Know About the Chiefs-49ers Matchup.

+ A Night to Remember: According to a preliminary study, there are signs that Viagra May Lower the Risk of Alzheimer's.

6

Bottom of the News

"A lawsuit filed on Tuesday accuses Walmart and Post Consumer Brands of hiding boxes of Snoop Cereal and incorrectly saying it was out of stock." Snoop Dogg and Master P sue Walmart over cereal sabotage claim. (Hopefully this will be resolved quickly because for some reason, I'm starving.)

+ An Entire 200-Foot Tower Stolen From WJLX-AM in Jasper, AL.