Your Weekend Reader for Dec. 11-12

by | Dec 11, 2021 | Arts and Entertainment, Journalism, Miscellaneous, Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Happy holidays. Let me ruin your weekend by calling your attention to a blockbuster Atlantic story by Barton Gellman (he’s the reporter who wrote the story outlining the strategy by then-President Trump and others to throw the 2020 election into chaos).

Gellman builds a compelling, and chilling, case that Trump is back at it with an eye toward 2024 — and the strory outlines, in considerable detail, how the foundation for stealing that election already is falling into place. Here’s a quote from near the end that sums it up:

Donald Trump came closer than anyone thought he could to toppling a free election a year ago. He is preparing in plain view to do it again, and his position is growing stronger. Republican acolytes have identified the weak points in our electoral apparatus and are methodically exploiting them. They have set loose and now are driven by the animus of tens of millions of aggrieved Trump supporters who are prone to conspiracy thinking, embrace violence, and reject democratic defeat. Those supporters, Robert Pape’s “committed insurrectionists,” are armed and single-minded and will know what to do the next time Trump calls upon them to act.

Democracy will be on trial in 2024. A strong and clear-eyed president, faced with such a test, would devote his presidency to meeting it. Biden knows better than I do what it looks like when a president fully marshals his power and resources to face a challenge. It doesn’t look like this.

Gellman’s piece is the one must-read in this edition of Your Weekend Reader. Brew another cup of coffee for this one.

It’s not all bad news this weekend (well, it mostly is, but never mind that): To its credit, Lee Enterprises — the owner of the Gazette-Times and the Democrat-Herald — is putting up a spirited fight thus far against a hostile takeover bid from Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that has become notorious for buying newspapers and then making rapacious cuts in their newsrooms. Here’s a good summary of where matters stand, courtesy of The Washington Post. A word of warning is in order: Although Lee is putting up a more vigorous fight than I (and many others) expected, Alden’s battle to acquire Tribune Publishing took two years to play out before Alden finally prevailed. And, even though Alden’s bid to purchase Gannett fell short, the battle forced Gannett into a merger with another company, GateHouse. (The combined Gannett-GateHouse owns the Salem Statesman Journal and the Eugene Register-Guard.)

The Atlantic’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the coronavirus is showing no signs of easing up. Here’s a dispatch from last week, in which writer Rachel Gutman argues that Omicron seems likely to slip the lie to that unfortunate phrase “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” And in case the story doesn’t make it clear, here’s one takeaway: Get your booster shot, if you haven’t already. (The good news here is that The Atlantic continues to make its coronavirus coverage free to everyone, a practice that every news outlet should follow.)

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is pushing efforts to increase taxes on the rich. Some people don’t like the idea — and those people include Wyden’s son Adam, who manages a hedge fund, exactly the sort of enterprise Sen. Wyden wants to pay more taxes. It’s created a bit of family rift between the Wydens, as The New York Times reported Friday.

OPB reporter Tom Banse says that if you think traffic throughout the Pacific Northwest has just about returned to pre-pandemic levels, you’re right. Banse has the details.

Mid-valley state Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin has long advocated for better oversight of the state’s foster-care system. Now, she’s taken home a national award for her efforts. The Gazette-Times had a story about the award in Saturday’s paper. Here’s a story from earlier in the week, from The Oregonian/OregonLive, about the award.

The Pew Research Center has been doing some fascinating work lately on what it calls “political typology.” It’s an attempt, as Pew says, to offer a roadmap to today’s fractured political landscape. The effort creates nine separate political types — and four Democratic-leaning types, four Republican-leading types and one primarily nonpartisan group. Examining the types gives us a tool to examine our political divisions — including the diversity of views within each partisan coalition. (It also shows that many Americans do not fit easily into either partisan coalition.) The fun part of the project involves this quiz, which you can take to tell you which political type is the closest fit for you. And you can create a group version of the quiz that you can send out to your friends and family — and, then, for spectacular conversation over the holidays, share the results.

You know what? I do feel bad about dropping so much bad news into this edition of the Weekend Reader. So here are a couple of fun reads. First, here’s a New York Times story about the latest conspiracy theory that’s caught fire on the internet: “Birds Aren’t Real,” which argues that birds aren’t real and are, in fact, surveillance drones. Ludicrous? Of course — that’s the point; it’s a parody. But the theory would explain the activity of the starlings around our feeders in the backyard.

And now, here’s another story, from The Oregonian/OregonLive, about another bird: It’s about a friendly, foul-mouthed crow who adopted a school in Grants Pass. Reporter Lizzy Acker did terrific work tracking down all of the many loose ends in this one.

If you’re looking for some local arts and entertainment events to help you put off the Christmas chores for another day or two, check out my curated calendar. And good news for you fans of holiday music: Nominations are now open for new additions into my Holiday Music Hall of Fame.

That’s it for this weekend. Now get hopping on that list of Christmas chores. See you next weekend — when you better have all those Christmas cards mailed.


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