🥞 Happy Sunday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,505 words ... 5½ minutes.
This was the worst week for Democrats since Donald Trump’s election-night shocker of 2016.
What we're hearing: There's a new fatalism in my conversations with Democrats, with many telling me that what once seemed unthinkable — Trump's re-election in November — is now starting to look more likely than ever.
Reality check: A New York Times live fact-check blog on Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday came up with 8 statements labeled "misleading," 7 "lacks"/"needs context," 6 "false," 5 "true," 4 'exaggerated," 3 "mostly true," 2 "partly true," 1 "weighted but mostly true" and 1 "lacks evidence."
Between the lines: Talk to well-wired Republicans and they'll tell you Trump is fully capable of self-sabotage — that enough exhausted voters will finally say: "Just make it stop." But here's why Dems are apoplectic about the terrain:
What's next: Recriminations over the botched count of the Iowa caucuses are continuing into a second week. Rep. James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in the House, told C-SPAN "Newsmakers" (via AP):
⚡ Breaking ... Perez told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the Iowa fiasco is “undeniably unacceptable. I'm frustrated. I'm mad as hell. Everybody is. And I think what we're going to do at the end of this cycle ... is have a further conversation about whether or not state parties should be running elections."
P.S. Changing tides:
A joint is roughly 25% THC — the chemical in marijuana that gets you high. But a "dab," increasingly popular with young Americans, can be up to 90% THC.
Most Americans are clueless about dabbing. Axios CEO Jim VandeHei did a deep dive into the topic, and here's what he found:
By the numbers: Half of the 18-24 year-olds in our SurveyMonkey poll said they have either used a dab or know someone who has.
Done responsibly, THC concentrate — which also includes edibles, not just dabbing — can offer a more controlled dosage and fewer toxins than smoking.
Academic research is mixed. At least one study found that dabbing is no more dangerous than smoking marijuana, but others point to individual medical reports of “seizure-like activity” or hypertension.
Ross Douthat posits in a brilliant New York Times column: "[T]he meltdown at the Iowa caucuses, an antique system undone by pseudo-innovation and incompetence, was much more emblematic of our age than any great catastrophe or breakthrough."
The truth of the first decades of the 21st century, a truth that helped give us the Trump presidency but will still be an important truth when he is gone, is that we probably aren’t entering a 1930-style crisis for Western liberalism or hurtling forward toward transhumanism or extinction.
Instead, we are aging, comfortable and stuck, cut off from the past and no longer optimistic about the future, spurning both memory and ambition while we await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.
Why it matters:
[T]rue dystopias are distinguished, in part, by the fact that many people inside them don’t realize that they’re living in one, because human beings are adaptable enough to take even absurd and inhuman premises for granted.
If we feel that elements of our own system are, shall we say, dystopia-ish — from the reality-television star in the White House to the addictive surveillance devices always in our hands; from the drugs and suicides in our hinterlands to the sterility of our rich cities — then it’s possible that an outsider would look at our decadence and judge it more severely still.
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Two U.S. soldiers were killed and six wounded in a so-called insider attack in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province late yesterday when a shooter dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire, AP reports.
The context: There have been numerous attacks by Afghan national army soldiers on their allied partners during 18 years of America's protracted war in Afghanistan.
Situational awareness: While you revel in a Twitter pic of an orange-faced President Trump or ridicule a speech-shredding Pelosi, please remember two U.S. soldiers who were killed, and more injured, in a war few understand or follow.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont holds his lead ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, but Pete Buttigieg is swiftly gaining, according to a CNN poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
After winning nearly every major lead-up award, Sam Mendes' "1917" — about a pair of British soldiers sent to deliver an urgent message through recently-held enemy territory — is favored for Best Picture at tonight's Oscars (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).
Some believe Bong Joon Ho's South Korean thriller "Parasite," a class satire, has a chance to become the first non-English language film to win Best Picture.
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