Living on a Prayer
Church State Reunion, Peeling back the Oxo story
How do you explain Mike Pence's almost religious devotion to Donald Trump? Trump is a purely transactional politician. No hardened opinions. No steadfast positions. You offer your support for him, and you get his support for what you want. Pence knew exactly what the religious right segment of the base wanted, and he delivered Trump’s speeches, tweets, signatures, and judges. And the strategy is paying off, bigly. In the latest win, "the Supreme Court said Tuesday that Maine cannot exclude religious schools from a tuition assistance program that allows parents to use vouchers to send their children to public or private schools. The 6-3 ruling is the latest move by the conservative court to expand religious liberty rights and bring more religion into public life, a trend bolstered by the addition of three of former President Donald Trump's nominees." Justice Sonia Sotomayorin a dissent: "What a difference five years makes ... In 2017, I feared that the Court was 'leading us ... to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment ... Today, the Court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation." Mike Pence paired his religious devotion with the GOP base's religious devotion to Trump. In his mind, he's doing god's work, and, of course, Pence's big prize, the overturning of Roe v Wade, is still to come.
+ Trump's transactional nature explains why so many politicians support him, even now as we learn of his deep betrayal of the American electoral process. From policies to power, everyone gets something in return, and whatever that something is has become more important than democracy. These enablers won't be surprised by anything they hear in today's Jan 6 hearings. We all know Trump pressured state officials to overturn the election after every knowledgable person in his administration told him he lost fair and square. For some, enabling that attack on America was worth whatever they got in return.
2. Abjection Overruled
"Police had enough officers on the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, and they never checked a classroom door to see if it was locked, the head of the Texas state police testified Tuesday, pronouncing the law enforcement response an 'abject failure.'"
+ The Texas Tribune goes deep on the story. Officers in Uvalde were ready with guns, shields and tools — but not clear orders. "During most of those 77 minutes, despite the urgent pleas from officers and parents amassed outside, officers stayed put outside rooms 111 and 112, stationed on either end of a wide hallway with sky blue and green walls and bulletin boards displaying children’s artwork. Ramos fired at least four sets of rounds — including the initial spray of fire that likely killed many of his victims instantaneously." (What if this story is really about a group of police officers who were just plain afraid to enter a room where there was a person armed with a killing machine no sane society would make available for easy purchase? What if that's really the abject failure?)
"Few drivers park next to crosswalks in Hoboken, because they can’t. Those spots are blocked off with bike racks or planters or storm drains or extra sidewalk space for pedestrians or vertical plastic pylons that deter all but the boldest delivery-truck drivers. Stand at a corner, and you can see what is coming toward you, and drivers can see you too, and you don’t have to step out into the road and risk your life to do it." Hoboken Hasn’t Had a Traffic Death in Four Years. What’s It Doing Right? (We can fix a lot of problems by copying policies from places getting it right. We touched on this notion last week in regard to Houston's success reducing homelessness. Houston: We Have a Solution.)
4. The Apple Store
"Ms. Zhyvaga, a self-described entrepreneur, strolled through the wreckage around noon unhindered, a shopping bag and purse at her side and her blue sandals delivering a striking contrast to the detritus around her. Returning from her shopping trip, she climbed down the ladder to the collapsed section and walked up a sheet of metal to cross a gap created by the collapse." NYT (Gift Article): A Shopping Trip for Apples, Over the Last Bridge in Lysychansk.
+ "The Nobel Peace Prize auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees sold Monday night for $103.5 million ... Previously, the most ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal was $4.76 million in 2014."
5. Extra, Extra
Lat Pull: "The pandemic hit the economies of this region harder than almost anywhere else in the world, kicking 12 million people out of the middle class in a single year. Across the continent, voters have punished those in power for failing to lift them out of their misery. And the winner has been Latin America’s left, a diverse movement of leaders that could now take a leading role in the hemisphere." Really interesting piece on the changing political winds. WaPo (Gift Article): As Latin America embraces a new left, the U.S. could take a back seat.
+ Summer of Soul Searching: "There was water everywhere, but not a single drop to drink." We're gonna be covering the weather a lot this summer. And more next summer. And so on. India floods destroy millions of homes and dreams. And from CNN: A 3,400-year-old city in Iraq emerges from underwater after an extreme drought.
+ Big Green Drops Big Red: Dartmouth "will no longer offer loans in its financial aid packages for undergrad students, and instead, replace them with more grants."
+ Turn Out the Israelites, the Party's Over: "Israel's most diverse government in history, formed for the first time with an Arab political party, is disbanding over a disagreement about the future of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank." Think you're sick of nonstop crazy politics? Israel is set to have its 5th round of elections in 3 years.
+ A Tex Upon Ye: The new Texas GOP platform: "President Biden is the 'acting' president because he didn't win legally; Texans should vote on seceding; the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be repealed; any gun control is a rights violation." (Watch your back Florida. Texas is coming on strong.)
+ From Serving to Being Seafood: "The restaurant encountered "adverse conditions" on Saturday as it was passing the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea, and water entered the vessel and it began to tip." Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsizes at sea.
6. Bottom of the News
"OXO revolutionized the salad spinner, to be sure. But to see this humble prototype—Frankenstein’d out of a child’s toy top and some hand-carved plastic, dull with age—swaddled inside a gorgeous Tiffany box made me laugh. OXO, with its embrace of dutiful, functional design and every-cook utility, certainly wasn’t Tiffany. Right? Maybe not, but don’t tell that to the people who love OXO. The people who love OXO really love OXO."
+ The greatest literary magazine around is making a comeback. In 2003, McSweeney's launched The Believer. Now they're fundraising to continue publishing it and carry on its essential literary legacy. (They're so close! Let's get them over the edge.)
+ And, to an almost unimaginable extent, I buried the lede today. Beyonce's new song just dropped. Break My Soul. Summer has arrived, for real.