1. Lone eagle scout
“‘Think about it,’ one of the aides I spoke to told me. ‘Tillerson was contemplating his retirement from Exxon, after which he could do whatever he wanted—travel the world, sit on corporate boards. Now he’s got to feel like he’s covered in shit. I can’t imagine this is what he expected.’ Another official told me that Tillerson’s sole reason for staying was loyalty to his country: ‘The only people left around the President are generals and Boy Scouts. They’re doing it out of a sense of duty.’” The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins with a sweeping look at the man who, as of last week, most Americans know as the guy who called Trump a moron. The situation is a lot more complicated, and a lot more critical, than a little name-calling. This article provides a good overview of the complexities of America’s most important internal relationship, what America’s foreign policy (to the extent we still have a coherent one) aims to achieve, and what a trip it must be for a guy who used to rule Exxon to now be taking orders (many via social media) from Donald Trump. Rex Tillerson at the breaking point.
2. Ash monday
Last night, the smell of smoke was so strong that I walked the perimeter of my house to see if there was a fire on my property. This morning, everything from my car to my window sills was covered in ash. It turns out that cause of the smoke and ash was nearly an hour’s drive away, where a string of massive fires has ripped across Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa. At least 1,500 structures have been lost in the Northern California firestorm, which is already among worst in state’s history. So far, one death has been reported, and there have been a huge number of evacuations (including several close friends in the area). Here’s the latest from the LA Times and SF Chronicle.
3. Nancy and Chuck wonder what the …
It was headline news when president Trump reached a handshake deal with “Chuck and Nancy” to protect the Dreamers in exchange for some increased security on the border. But on Sunday night, the White House released a list of demands that go far beyond what what was discussed—including major changes to the immigration system, and yes, building the wall.
+ The DACA demands have Stephen Miller’s fingerprints all over them. Here’s the NYT’s Matt Flegenheimer with a profile of Miller, the powerful survivor on the president’s right flank. The piece includes what amounts to a near apology from Miller’s rabbi, and some weird high school anecdotes: “He jumped, uninvited, into the final stretch of a girls’ track meet, apparently intent on proving his athletic supremacy over the opposite sex. (The White House, reaching for exculpatory context, noted that this was a girls’ team from another school, not his own.)”
+ WaPo: “Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt told coal miners in Kentucky on Monday that he will move to repeal a rule limiting greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, assuring them, ‘The war against coal is over.’” (The war on common sense continues.)
4. Drug war
“Cancer now kills about 450,000 Africans a year. By 2030, it will kill almost 1 million annually, the World Health Organization predicts. The most common African cancers are the most treatable, including breast, cervical, and prostate tumors. But here they are often lethal. In the United States, 90 percent of women with breast cancer survive five years. In Uganda, only 46 percent do; in Gambia, a mere 12 percent do.” From the NYT: As cancer tears through Africa, drug makers draw up a battle plan. The plan includes much cheaper drugs and improved distribution of information on how they should be given.
5. The art of the deal or no deal
“I will try to spend it as irrationally as possible!” So said Richard Thaler after winning the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in behavioral economics. Thaler’s helped to to explain how we make irrational choices when it comes to economics, and came up with a series of methods to “nudge” people towards better choices. (I wish he’d do the same for voting.)
+ Want to read a paper by a Nobel prize-winning economist that is actually sort of accessible? Deal or No Deal? Decision Making under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show. (Oddly, Thaler and his co-authors failed to mention the Howie Mandel effect…)
6. World War tweet
“It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Pretty much everyone on social media read that retort issued by Senator Bob Corker after he became the latest target of a presidential tweetstorm. The comments from the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee grew more ominous in a follow-up interview with the NYT in which he suggested “that President Trump was treating his office like ‘a reality show,’ with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation ‘on the path to World War III.’”
+ The Atlantic’s James Fallows argues that saying what everyone else is thinking isn’t enough: “This situation is not normal. It is not safe. And the group which for now has a monopoly on legislative and investigative power in Washington, Corker’s own Republican Party, has an obligation to the country’s past and its future to do something about it. Talk is better than nothing, but action is what counts.”
7. Plot twist
“It is a stunning fall from power for the mogul, whose tenacity and ruthlessness put him at the nexus of Hollywood, Wall Street, and the Beltway. Not just a movie producer, Weinstein was also a political player and major force in New York City and Hollywood’s cultural and corporate life.” A couple days after announcing he’d take a leave of absence from the firm he founded, Harvey Weinstein was forced out of his own company by a board a directors that includes his brother.
+ The board made it’s decision based on Weinstein’s attempted apology and the series of stories they were hearing, including this one: TV journalist says Harvey Weinstein masturbated in front of her.
+ Meryl Streep once jokingly referred to Weinstein as god. After reading the reports of his behavior, she’s officially losing her religion. “The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.” (Sad Irony: 2017 is the year we finally woke up to sexual harassment and the year we have an unapologetic perpetrator as president.)
8. Of Googles and rubles
“The revelation is likely to fuel further scrutiny of the role that Silicon Valley technology giants may have unwittingly played during last year’s election.” We’ve already heard about the Russian ad buys on Facebook and Twitter. Now, it’s Google’s turn.
+ The Daily Beast: “Wannabe YouTube stars and diehard Donald Trump supporters ‘Williams Kalvin’ totally swear they’re from Atlanta. In reality, they were working for the Kremlin.”
+ “These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people on the West and East Coast. And we figured out how to use it to push conservative values. I don’t think they thought that would ever happen.” Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale tells 60 Minutes how he used Facebook to his advantage.
9. Flag football
In a move that seemed a little too well orchestrated, VP Mike Pence walked out of a Colts/49ers game after some players kneeled during the anthem. After leaving the stadium, Pence released a statement that began, “President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” (They weren’t disrespecting those things. They were disrespecting innocent black people being shot.)
+ Cowboys owner Jerry Jones now says he will bench any player who disrespects flag.
10. Bottom of the news
You know where you can stick it. If not, you better decide now. As I mentioned on Friday, I made some NextDraft stickers and I want you to have one for free (I’ll even spring for the stamp!). Just give me your address and I’ll take care of the rest. We’ve got to stick together! I’ll keep the address book open until we hit 3,000 stickers.
+ Ivana Trump joked that since she was Trump’s first wife, she’s really the First Lady. Team Melania was not amused.
+ One company churns out a third of the butter consumed in America. (How is there not a Nobel Prize for that?)
+ Dove apologizes for an ad showing a black woman basically washing herself into white one.
+ Tom Petty before his last song of his last concert: “I wanna thank you for forty years of a really great time.”