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March madness, DNC fundraising records and the difference between “cheesy” and “corny”
Plus: Texas Democrats’ recruitment problem and how TV is attempting to break up the internet’s love affair with tech founders.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Tuesday morning and Happy Equal Pay Day. I’ll have a special report this afternoon for premium subscribers on pay inequality in the online creator industry. Subscribe to get it sent straight to your inbox. In the meantime, let’s catch up.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
— The White House is reportedly discussing President Joe Biden traveling to Europe in the coming weeks for a trip focused on Ukraine. The trip, which the White House declined to confirm, could include Brussels, home to NATO and the European Union. [Josh Lederman, Carol Lee, Mike Memoli / NBC News]
— Police are still searching for a man they believe is responsible for shooting at least five unhoused people, two of them fatal, in New York City and Washington, DC. “Homelessness should not be a homicide,” NYC Mayor Eric Adams said Monday. “This was a cold blooded attack. When you look at the premeditative actions of this shooter, it sends a clear and loud message that we need the help from the public.” It’s worth noting Adams and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York last month unveiled an aggressive plan to remove all homeless people from the transit system, which advocates say relies on criminalization and policing strategies to address what is fundamentally a housing and mental health crisis. [Jordan Freiman / CBS News]
— Related: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $2.6 billion in awards to help unhoused people move into permanent housing with access to supportive services. “Access to stable housing is a basic necessity — the safety of a home is essential, especially as we continue to fight the COVID-19 virus,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement. “The grants will deliver communities the resources needed to ensure that every person in a respective community has the equitable opportunity to a safe and stable home.”
— The number of children ages 3-17 years diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29 percent and those with depression by 27 percent between 2016 and 2020, according to a new Department of Health and Human Services study. The findings also point to the onset of the pandemic as the trigger to these changes in child and family well-being.
— The Democratic National Committee raised $14 million in February, marking its best February in history. More than half of these dollars came from major donors and are a direct result of President Joe Biden and Vice President participating in more in-person events ahead of this year’s midterm elections. [Natasha Korecki / NBC News]
— Lyft has added a temporary fuel surcharge to offset rising gas prices and will pay the entirety of its surcharge to drivers, which it says is intended to soften the burden of higher prices, not cover all of the cost of gas. Uber announced a similar move last Friday. [Jay Peters / The Verge]
— 45 million people plan to bet an estimated $3.1 billion on this year’s March Madness college basketball championship tournament, according to the American Gaming Association. These wagers will include legal bets as those placed with illegal bookies or offshore websites and 17 percent of American adults will place at least one bet on the tournament. [Wayne Parry / AP News]
— Twitter switched back its timeline so that the latest tweets are shown first. Last week all hell broke loose on the blue app after it updated the user interface to prioritize its algorithmic feed. [@TwitterSupport / Twitter]
TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President Harris. This afternoon, he will then sign the comprehensive government funding bill that Congress passed late last week before speaking at an event on Equal Pay Day to celebrate Women’s History Month. The vice president and First Lady Jill Biden will also speak. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Acting Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse, Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman and members of the US Women’s Soccer Team will attend the event.
— Vice President will also attend the president’s bill signing with Acting Director Young and host the White House Equal Pay Summitt where she’ll speak and participate in a conversation with current and former members of the US Women’s National Team at the Summit. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja and White House Gender Policy Council Jen Klein will also speak.
— The first lady will also welcome Eliza Jean Reid, the first lady of Iceland, to the White House.
— The second gentleman will also meet with AmeriCorps members and participate in an environmental community service project at an urban garden and park in Northeast Washington, DC, in honor of AmeriCorps week. AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith will join him for the visit.
— The House is in and will consider 10 bills including legislation to commemorate, honor and interpret the history of Japanese Americans during World War II, and preserve World War II Japanese American confinement camps.
— The Senate is in and will continue to debate the nomination of Shalanda Young to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson will meet with Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia ahead of her confirmation hearings next week.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
— Lindy Mockovak on what she lost and found when she froze her eggs:
What happened instead was this: with each perfectly-calibrated hormone shot, I released myself from the pressure and the outcome of what would happen next. I gave myself permission to let myself see other paths of life more clearly, including the independent, self-sufficient, privileged life full of love that was already my own.
For years, I placed so much emphasis on the moment love would enter my life in the form of a romantic partner and then children. And yet, by living without these things, I created space in my life for all the other kinds of love and relationships that are as meaningful, particularly the love for self.
My fertility journey helped me loosen my grip on romantic love. I’ve always been open to adopting children and still am if that is where my life path takes me. There are many ways to build and create family; I had many forms of love and support in my life, and saw all of this love in a different light throughout this process.
— Christopher Hooks on Texas Democrats’ recruitment problem:
The Democratic slate for 2022, winnowed down by the primary election on March 1, will be no more experienced. Several races are heading to runoffs, but the only candidate with a substantial track record in elected office is once again O’Rourke. To say that the lineup beneath him is weak is not to slight the candidates who are running: many, if not most, are doubtless hard-working and smart folk. But it should be infuriating to rank-and-file Democrats that the slate of candidates the party is putting up for important statewide offices is less formidable than it was in 1998, or in most elections since, after all these years of effort and promise after promise of a blue wave that never arrives.
The Democratic party faces a structural disadvantage in recruiting credible statewide candidates. The pool of those who have won elections is thin, given the party’s 27 years of failure in statewide races, and the gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts. There are plenty of Democrats with experience leading Texas’s most populous cities and counties, which are more liberal than the state at large. But they are choosing not to run, and that is, in part, a vote of no confidence in their party.
— Yana Tallon-Hicks on parenting with multiple partners during a pandemic:
When I had envisioned becoming a parent, I never imagined doing so in isolation with one person. I never desired to be anything like a stay-at-home parent. And I was committed to maintaining rich and varied relationships, both new and established. And yet, there I was with one partner, working from my child’s nursery, isolated from my other relationships.
As someone planted firmly in the spheres of sex positivity and nonmonogamy, I often hear that sexual exploration, pleasurable experiences, and partners outside of a dyad are extraneous, not essential. And though I’ve never personally or professionally agreed, when forced into a pandemic reality, I acted as though I did. The question of what (and who) is “essential” has been asked over and over again during the past few years — and I’ve slowly come to realize that my relationships are vital, that I am willing to take relational risks to allow myself to be the fullest version of myself, and that not taking these risks is damaging to my sense of personhood.
— Clarissa Brooks on rapper Saucy Santana:
Growing up listening to artists like Trina, Jackie O, Gucci Mane, and Khia gave Santana an ear for freestyling and for the kinds of club anthems that have been critical to his growing profile among the latest class of hip-hop stars. His tracks have staying power, too. Santana’s releases tend to blow up and stay viral on different platforms for years. Audio of the infectiously danceable “Walk,” released in 2020, has been used in more than 300,000 TikToks after becoming a popular track on the platform last year. The song generated its own #WalkChallenge and has gained Santana nearly 13 million streams to date. With “Material Girl,” also from 2020, Santana fostered one of the biggest trends on TikTok today thanks to various remixes and edits of the track.
— Caleb Madison on the difference between cheesy and corny:
Although this may have played a role in ushering it into the lexicon, I have a hunch that what gave cheesy its semantic staying power is something much more delicious. Cheesy and corny, terms both used to denigrate aesthetic taste, latch on to our strong neural associations with physical taste. Cheese and corn are both cheap but delicious sources of bodily fuel—in the same way that cheesy or corny music might be catchy and enjoyable but not exactly the sublime and soul-sustaining symphony the heart yearns for. The difference in gustatory experience also aptly illustrates the subtle semantic distinction between the two: something corny might be light and sweet, but ultimately small and insignificant, whereas something cheesy pours on a heavy and pleasing coat of coagulated fat to disguise a lack of substantive meat. Despite their negative connotations, I think corn and cheese, used in moderation, are important components of the arts, culinary and otherwise. I mean, who doesn’t love an arepa?
But by elevating these stories in the way they do, they might be falling into the same trap they intend to warn against. These founders have already been given too much cash and attention. Putting them at the center of TV shows, even if they’re critical, risks reading like a hagiography rather than a cautionary tale.
And perhaps it’s no coincidence that these stories of tech hubris are being produced by other tech platforms like Hulu and Apple TV, as well as premium cable network Showtime, which are engaged in their own questionable battles. The streaming wars — in which tech companies are tripping over themselves to produce ever more content for already-saturated audiences — are just one more indication of the continued frothiness around tech companies. While fighting to quickly bring their audiences the content they want, they might not have time to fully internalize the lessons of the stories they’re telling. Like with the easily gotten venture capital that drove Theranos, Uber, and WeWork to bad behavior and, by extension, to the silver screen, we have to wonder: Is it sustainable?
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