The Daily Valet. - 3/8/24, Friday

Friday, March 8th Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
Do you have TSA Pre-Check? If so, I'll meet you in the self-screening line.

Today’s Big Story

Biden’s Bold State of the Union


The president made it clear that he sees the election as an existential struggle between democracy and extremism



In his third State of the Union, President Joe Biden delivered a speech that was described as “raucous” and “fired-up.” It was definitely a political speech, but that was somewhat expected leading into the unofficial start of the 2024 campaign season.

According to the New York Times, he launched a series of fiery attacks against former President Donald Trump, “a competitor whom he did not mention by name but made clear was a dire threat to American democracy and stability in the world.” It certainly bore little resemblance to his States of the Union past. Intent on displaying his energy and eager to engage with Republicans, Biden was happy to mix it up with his hecklers, during a speech that his aides hope can ease Democratic jitters about his political prospects.

“In my career I’ve been told I’m too young and I’m too old,” Biden said to laughter. “Whether young or old, I’ve always known what endures, our North Star: The very idea of America, that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We’ve never fully lived up to that idea, but we’ve never walked away from it either. And I won’t walk away from it now.”

Foreign policy typically takes a backseat during State of the Union speeches; the intended audience is Congress and the American people and their concerns are usually within U.S. borders. But whether he wants to be or not, Biden is a foreign policy president at a moment of deep global tensions. So it was inevitable that foreign affairs would occupy a larger chunk of Biden’s time than in previous addresses. In his speech that ran for over an hour, he warned what could happen should Ukraine continue to lose ground to Russia, and then ran through a lengthy list of issues, including immigration, abortion, prescription drug costs and the war in Gaza.

Of course, he also reminded Americans just what exactly he’s been up to. Polls show many voters are still sour about the direction the country is heading, despite an economy that is by most measures roaring back from the pandemic years. Asked in surveys, many Americans have little idea of the accomplishments Biden has been working on that have helped bring the economy back. That’s likely why Biden, in his speech, referred to “the greatest comeback story never told”—part brushback against what he views as persistently negative media coverage, part an acknowledgement he could do more to explain his agenda to everyday Americans.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia wore a MAGA campaign hat last night, which is against the House of Representative rules.

Is America Running Out of Power


AI and the boom in clean-tech manufacturing are pushing the U.S. power grid to the brink

Keep those devices charged, because a fully-juiced outlet might become something of a commodity soon. The Washington Post just came out with a staggering report that “vast swaths of the United States are at risk of running short of power” as electricity-hungry data centers and clean-technology factories proliferate around the country, “leaving utilities and regulators grasping for credible plans to expand the nation’s creaking power grid.”

A crippling power shortage might sound like a melodramatic doomsday worry, but the warning also comes as heavily publicized incidents such as the 2021 Texas power outage, which was partially blamed on crypto-farming, exposed how vulnerable the nation's power supply is, especially during emergencies. There have also been warnings from tech moguls such as Elon Musk, who has stated that the United States is primed to run out of electricity and transformers for artificial intelligence in 2025.

The situation is sparking battles across the nation over who will pay for new power supplies, with regulators worrying that residential ratepayers could be stuck with the bill for costly upgrades. It’s also happening at the same time the energy transition is steering large numbers of Americans to rely on the power grid to fuel vehicles, heat pumps, induction stoves and all manner of other household appliances that previously ran on fossil fuels. One thing is for sure: the process of replacing the grid and adapting it to modern-day needs will not be easy or cheap.

Dig Deeper:
America’s electric grids may need to expand by two-thirds by 2035 to handle future growth in clean energy, the Energy Dept. estimates.

That Was the Hottest February Ever


For the ninth straight month, Earth has obliterated global heat records

More not-so-great-news: Last month was the planet’s hottest February on record, marking the ninth month in a row that global records tumbled, according to new data from Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service. I know this news is becoming commonplace, but it’s also … a little unsettling, right?

It’s yet another grim climate change milestone, as the long-term impacts of human-caused global warming are given a boost by El Niño, a natural climate fluctuation. “El Niño is a naturally occurring event, but everything now, all El Niño events, all La Niña events, take place in the context of a climate which has been radically changed by human activities,” a World Meteorological Organization rep told CBS News. “We do expect above-normal temperatures in the coming months.”

The global average temperature for the past twelve months, beginning in March of last year, has also been the hottest on record, at 1.56°C (2.8°F) above pre-industrial levels. This is significant, since these 12 months exceeded the Paris Agreement's 1.5-degree target for a full year. But Axios points out that the pact is aimed at averting multiple decades above that level, meaning the target hasn't yet been officially breached.

Coral bleaching is expected to continue on "multiple, major" reef regions due to ongoing marine heatwaves.

TSA Unveils New Self-Screening


Wait … seriously? How would this work?

Self-checkout annoys many grocery shoppers and causes problems that are prompting a growing number of retailers to pull back on using it. But that’s not stopping the Transportation Security Administration from testing a self-service screening system at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas later this month.

TSA PreCheck passengers at LAS “will be the first travelers to have the option to use the new system starting in mid-March, when the testing begins,” said a TSA news release. “The prototype has a video monitor that provides step-by-step instructions for passengers to complete screening at their own pace,” it added.

So how does it work? Instead of a boxy belt-fed device using a stack of gray trays, the futuristic-looking baggage and personal belongings inspection system looks like a scaled-down starship medical magnetic resonance imaging machine. It uses an automated bin return that sanitizes trays with germ-killing ultraviolet light between travelers. Officials said the objective is not to accelerate screenings but to improve the passenger experience.

TSA found a record number of firearms at airport checkpoints in 2023. Most were loaded.

A Weekend Pairing


‘Damsel’ + a White Dragon Cocktail



Millie Bobby Brown is going through it on these Netflix projects. Coming fresh off of fending off Vecna and demogorgons on Stranger Things, Brown is back—this time starring in Damsel, a movie about a woman literally thrown in the dragon pit by her new in-laws. Seriously.

But despite the name, she’s no damsel in distress. Variety says that in this revisionist fairy tale, Brown makes Rambo “look soft” as she slays her enemy in high heels and a dress. In fact, our tough-as-nails action hero princess uses parts of her dress to engineer her way out of dire encounters with the dragon (voiced by Shohreh Aghdashloo) and the maze of its underground lair. If you’re looking for a wild time and a way to escape for a little bit this weekend, this is the film to do it.

Pair It With


The aptly-named White Dragon appears to be a variation on the classic Margarita at first glance, with lemon juice instead of lime and the addition of egg whites. But the drink’s creator, bartending icon Jim Meehan, says, “it’s actually a variation on a White Lady (the classic gin-based Daisy from the Savoy Cocktail Book). In any case, it seems refreshing and the perfect thing to sip while watching this movie.

Also Worth a Watch:
‘Poor Things’ on Hulu; ‘Ricky Stanicky’ on Prime


What We’re Buying


20 Under $20


Go ahead and treat yourself to a little something. Just to help us ease into springtime. After all good style doesn’t always have to cost a lot. We had the Valet. team round up their favorite affordable finds—nothing over 20 bucks. Any of the following items will have you looking and feeling good while leaving you plenty of cash in your pocket.

Get a Deal:
The Valet. team rounded up their favorite sub-$20 finds.

Morning Motto

You rarely regret being kind.


It costs $0.00 to be a decent human being.




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