1

Imagine

For the past several years, I've used the digital inbox space you've so graciously afforded me to warn about the potential doom that Donald Trump represents. During this period, I've often been asked by readers why NextDraft became so much more political. Look outside. You'll understand. The pandemic failures, the economic collapse, the polarization, the attacks on the press, the destruction of norms and institutions, the moral and ethical degradation that enables us to look away from kids in cages, the poisoning of the party of Lincoln, America's freefalling world leadership role, the wanton racism, the dictator love, the emolumental illness, the fleecing of the nation, the firing of people for doing their jobs, the embrace of enemies and insulting of allies, the acceptance of traitorous behavior, the climate denial, the treaty torching, the unearthing of the nation's darkest impulses, the lie after lie after lie ... all of this and more leading us into a bleak new reality heralded by the once and current reality TV star, have proved my warnings to be, while understated, all too prophetic. Being right couldn't feel more wrong. The writing was on the wall that Trump promised to build. Birtherism has become a full grown adolescent. Angry. Hateful. And now, more dangerous than ever; cornered by unpleasant polling numbers, lashing out, eyes fixed on a TV screen, hands flailing about, slapping screeds on social media, and a knee pressing down on democracy's neck as enablers chant, cheer, or maybe worse, stand by and shrug. What many saw coming is here. Now what? Here's The New Yorker's David Remnick—not today, or this week, but the day after the 2016 election: "All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine." Imagine that.

+ A few weeks after Remnick wrote that article, Derek Black, a former golden boy of white nationalism who courageously renounced the movement, tried to explain the storm ahead. "A substantial portion of the American public has made clear that it feels betrayed by the establishment, and so it elected a president who denounces all Muslims as potential conspirators in terrorism; who sees black communities as crime-ridden; who taps into white American mistrust of foreigners, particularly of Hispanics; and who promises the harshest form of immigration control. If we thought Mr. Trump himself might backtrack on some of this, we are now watching him fill a cabinet with people able to make that campaign rhetoric into real policy ... Mr. Trump's victory must make all Americans acknowledge that the choice of embracing or rejecting multiculturalism is not abstract. I know this better than most, because I've followed both paths. It is the choice of embracing or rejecting our own people." Your move, America.

2

It’s Always Darkest After the Don

Did Trump cause all the problems facing America today? Of course not. But he makes them all worse. Peter Baker in the NYT: In Days of Discord, President Trump Fans the Flames. "Over the last week, America reeled from 100,000 pandemic deaths, 40 million people out of work and cities in flames over a brutal police killing of a subdued black man. But Mr. Trump was on the attack against China, the World Health Organization, Big Tech, former President Barack Obama, a cable television host and the mayor of a riot-torn city. While other presidents seek to cool the situation in tinderbox moments like this, Mr. Trump plays with matches."

+ "There are those who argue that President Trump's endless disparagement of the news media is harmless — perhaps a little extreme at times, but mostly just a lot of talk. Sure, he throws around terms such as 'enemy of the people,' claims that accurate reporting unflattering to him is 'fake news' and gleefully insults individual reporters — especially women of color ... But, come on, what has he really done that's so bad? On Friday, the bottom dropped out of that argument." Margaret Sullivan in WaPo: Trump has sown hatred of the press for years. Now journalists are under assault from police and protesters alike.

+ Journalists Detail Being Hit By Rubber Bullets, Attacked While Covering Nationwide Protests.

3

Streets of Fire

"In more than a dozen cities across the country — including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Chicago — authorities ordered curfews for residents. There have been 1,400 arrests in 17 US cities since Thursday, the Associated Press reported. In Minneapolis and Los Angeles, scores of National Guard members were called in." Buzzfeed: Violent Protests Against Police Brutality Are Once Again Sweeping The Country.

+ NYT: Photos From the George Floyd Protests, City by City.

+ Images of police using violence against peaceful protesters are going viral.

+ There were plenty of scenes of unity as well, including in Flint, where County Sheriff Chris Swanson joined protesters in a peaceful march.

4

Center Point

"What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, 'They certainly aren't social distancing.' Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, 'Well, that just hurts their cause.' Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, 'That's putting the cause backward.' You're not wrong — but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the LA Times: What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge.

5

This Too Shall Pass

How deadly will these protests be? We may not know the answer for a month or two as we wait to see the extent to which the pandemic rears its ugly head. WaPo's Eli Saslow with the latest in his amazing series, Voices from the Pandemic. "I know they're trying to make me feel better, but it's a lie. I had everything to do with it. This virus doesn't just appear in your body out of nowhere. It has to pass from one person to the next. It has to come from somebody, and this time I know it came from me." Francene Bailey, on passing the coronavirus to her mother.

6

Globalization, meet Universalization

For the first time since 2011, astronauts have launched into orbit from the US. The private-public effort spearheaded by Space-X delivered two American astronauts to the international space station. (All we need is a 164 million more rockets and we can all get out.)

+ Elon Musk and SpaceX pull off another feat few thought possible. "Beyond flying humans to the station in low Earth orbit at about 240 miles high, SpaceX ultimately wants to fly people to the moon, some 240,000 miles away. It recently won a contract from NASA to build a spacecraft capable of landing humans on the lunar surface. Ultimately, though, Musk wants to send humans to Mars, a hugely ambitious goal." (Martians are like, "Uh, no thanks, we're good...)

7

Seeding Doubt

"In the multibillion-dollar sperm bank industry, stories of mix-ups have become increasingly common. While federal regulators require that samples be tested for communicable diseases such as HIV, there is little to no national regulation beyond that: No laws punishing sloppy record-keeping at the clinics, no laws mandating that the personal information provided by donors is verified, no laws ensuring that women are being inseminated with the exact samples they have selected. And there's currently no major lobbying effort to change any of that." Buzzfeed: They Grew Up Believing They Were Half Brothers From The Same Sperm Donor. A DNA Test Revealed The Truth.

8

Steve’s Jobs

"He was hit by a car and a bus as a kid, was once stabbed in a bar fight, volunteered as a firefighter during 9/11, and somewhere along the way became one of the most accomplished film actors of his generation. And then tragedy struck." GQ: The Remaking of Steve Buscemi.

9

Prison at Jail Prices

"It's only if you look closer that you'll get a sense that this neighborhood is a mite different. Consider the street names: Reformatory Way. Sallyport Street. Or check out that artfully aged metal sign that greets visitors. That's not a lighthouse in the logo. It's a guard tower. It turns out that this swath of suburbia was until recently one of the most violent and overcrowded prisons in the United States." Washingtonian: A Notorious DC Prison Is Now a Classy Suburban Development.

10

Feel Good Sunday

"Volunteers poured into downtown Seattle Sunday morning to help clean up after a peaceful protest turned violent Saturday."

+ For his 100th birthday, a WWII veteran is walking 100 miles to raise money for coronavirus relief.

+ Mom Makes Coronavirus Masks for the Tooth Fairy at 7-Year-Old Daughter's Request.