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Married to the Mob
Joy Sticks and Stones, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday.
Donald Trump was made fully aware that all of the stolen election nonsense was, in the words of his own attorney general, bullshit. Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by," and (after a big membership boost) they did. Donald Trump summoned the mob. The insurrection wasn't a crowd that got out of control, it was a planned attack on American democracy. Although Mark Meadows tried to convince Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to pretend that Trump did something helpful during the attack, he never requested any assistance from the national guard or anyone else. Only Pence did. Speaking of Pence, when the attackers were chanting "Hang Mike Pence" Trump responded, "Maybe our supporters have the right idea." We got many new details from night one of the January 6 hearings, but mostly we got confirmation of what we saw and heard ourselves. Peter Baker: "In the entire 246-year history of the United States, there was surely never a more damning indictment presented against an American president than outlined on Thursday night in a cavernous congressional hearing room, where the future of democracy felt on the line. Other presidents have been accused of wrongdoing, even high crimes and misdemeanors, but the case against Donald Trump mounted by the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol described not just a rogue president but a would-be autocrat willing to shred the Constitution to hang on to power at all costs." There are plenty of leaders and journalists who have been describing Trump this way for years. My dad who lost his whole family in the Holocaust before crawling on his hands and knees into the Polish forest to join the Partisans and fight the Nazis warned me repeatedly during 2020 that Trump would never willingly leave office, regardless of the election results. Trump led a coup. His enablers are numerous. We have seditionists who are sitting senators. We learned last night that several members of Congress requested preemptive pardons from Trump (one wonders why). What you saw is what happened. Will Americans believe their own eyes? Will the doubters learn to love America more than they hate the other side? We'll see. Trump Is Depicted as a Would-be Autocrat Willing to Hang Onto Power at All Costs.
+ NPR: New revelations and 3 other takeaways from the first Jan. 6 committee hearing.
+ CBS: 6 new things we learned from the first public Jan. 6 hearing.
2. Joy Sticks and Stones
The military has designed videogames to get kids playing and thinking more positively about the armed forces. When they couldn't keep up with the gameplay of the popular titles, they started having soldiers play the better games "while interacting with large audiences and touting military life." It's all part of a movement to recruit a new kind of soldier who grew up with a lethal joystick in his hands. But not everyone in the military is a fan of these recruits. "In February, Army major Jon-Marc Thibodeau, chief of medical readiness at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, decried video games as a reason for why young recruits are physically unfit for the military. “The 'Nintendo Generation’ soldier skeleton is not toughened by activity prior to arrival. So some of them break more easily." (This contrasts with those of us in the Internet Generation whose bodies have become too soft and rubbery to break.) WaPo (Gift Article): Inside the Pentagon’s long debate: Do gamers make good soldiers?
3. Peter Needs to Pay the Piper
Two bad signs for Ukraine. First, Putin is now comparing himself to Peter the Great. "Peter the Great waged the great northern war for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned [what was Russia’s]. Apparently, it is also our lot." As I've been saying for more than 100 days, Putin is not going to stop. He needs to be stopped. And for that, Ukraine needs more weapons, quickly. We’re almost out of ammunition and relying on western arms, says Ukraine.
4. Weekend Whats
What to Read: "Anyone offended by the sight of the suffering is just judging someone who’s having a mental-health episode, and any liberal who argues that the state can and should take control of someone in the throes of drugs and psychosis is basically a Republican. If and when the vulnerable person dies, that was his choice, and in San Francisco we congratulate ourselves on being very accepting of that choice." Nellie Bowles in The Atlantic: How San Francisco Became A Failed City. A lot of the pressures facing San Francisco are pandemic and opiate related, and therefore face other cities as well. And I worry that we're all focusing on one city without putting its struggles into a broader perspective. But Bowles is right that wokeness and identity politics have overtaken the city. For years, everyone at Bay Area dinner parties talked about Trump. These days, they talk about the extremity of identity politics. It's of course a counter to the white supremacy and racism of the Trump era. But it's not a productive counter.
+ What to Hear: I've been digging Luke Bryan's American Heartbreak. Start with "From Austin."
+ What to Book: The Jan 6 hearings give you a good taste of reality. But there's another story in America. It's not true, but it's powerful. It nearly ruined democracy. And it's ongoing. No one explains this stuff better than Dan Pfeiffer. Grab his new book now. Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America.
5. Extra, Extra
Inflation Nation: I cover a lot of stories. Right now, one story is the focal point for most Americans. It's this one: Inflation soars to an over 40-year high.
+ Have Suitcase, Will Travel: US will end Covid-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the country.
+ I've Got the Brains, You've Got the Ron: NYT: "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested Wednesday that he might urge the state's child protective services to investigate parents who take their children to drag shows." It's so stupid it's almost funny. But that's how this shit sneaks up you.
+ Running on Venti: "The coffee company opened its bathrooms to the public in 2018 after two Black men were denied use of the bathroom in a Philadelphia Starbucks while they were waiting for a friend to arrive. When they then sat down in the store without ordering anything, a Starbucks employee called the police, and they were arrested for trespassing." Starbucks may close its bathrooms to the public again.
+ Idiotarod: "Sarah Palin is running, though many Alaskans would rather she weren’t. A man named Santa Claus is running. One bottom-tier candidate’s stance on abortion rights hinges on reversible vasectomies for “sperm creators.” Another lives in a remote town of five people and in 2017 pleaded guilty to threatening to assault employees of the Bureau of Land Management, because, he says, they were obstructing his mining ambitions. The volume of candidates means that one could theoretically squeak into the finals with just a sliver of the vote." Alaska is having the wildest election of 2022. Palin is Real. Santa Claus isn't. I wish it were the other way around.
6. Feel Good Friday
"There’s one member of the family who’s not here right now. Christy’s 71-year-old mother, Mary, has gone home for the day. Her shift ended at 5 p.m. Sugar and Spice is almost certainly the only sex toy store in the Deep South run by three generations of women from one family. So, just how did these women end up hawking dildos to lawyers, correctional officers and preachers’ wives in a conservative city whose biggest claim to fame is being the birthplace of blues legend W.C. Handy?" The Deep South’s Dames of Dildos.
+ "He’s learned the ropes of parenting in the most unconventional way: experiencing dozens of children, all from different mothers, who serially appear in his life as adults. Collectively, they’re now pioneering a new type of family — one that begins decades into the kids’ lives, without preparation. Peter’s children have varying religions, hometowns, and emotional needs. He is thriving in this untraditional kind of fatherhood. Unexpectedly, it’s made him a better man." Peter Ellenstein’s donated sperm produced 35 (and counting) kids who taught him how to be a dad.
+ Woman reunited with skates after 40 years in modern-day Cinderella story.
+ A couple of really fun videos about a really weird baseball team. How the Savannah Bananas have become the greatest show in baseball and Are the Savannah Bananas the future of baseball?
+ This Louisiana man thought he was rescuing one kitten — then 12 more appeared. (I agreed to having one pet. I have five.)