Members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stand for a photo with the 2023 Doomsday Clock. (Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images)

TGIF: 90 Seconds to Midnight

Even more classified docs, this week care of Mike Pence. All the news you need from the week that was.

Hello and welcome back to my show. Bari might be “the founder” who “runs The Free Press,” but I have pride too. And that pride is TGIF. 

→ Thanks for the tanks: The U.S. and Germany are sending tanks to Ukraine. From us, it’ll be 31 70-ton Abrams battle tanks. “These tanks will burn just like the rest,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Not much to say on it except: This war is escalating. At the start of it, I assumed that Russia, looking at American military might, would back down and seek some resolution. Not happening. When Biden restarts the draft, at least there will be good content. We can have fun with stats on how many single young men suddenly self-ID as middle-aged moms? 

Less fun when we realize that the draft will certainly be genderfluid, and I’ll be shipped out, forced to smuggle TGIF through from Sloviansk. 

The next item is Mike Pence related. Before I get there I do want to remind the reader that Pence cut his teeth writing conservative hot takes—like one very upset piece about the Disney movie Mulan arguing that women shouldn’t join the military. I agree: Save me from Sloviansk, Mike!

→ Let’s talk about docs: It’s time we had a conversation about something serious and personal that we’ve noticed you (our elected officials) doing in private. Why are you hiding so many documents in your closets? What do you do with the documents? Has anyone ever asked to see the documents? Are the documents in the room with us right now? 

This week the one asking How did these secret documents get here in my closet is Mike Pence. From the WSJ: “Merrick Garland must decide what to do about documents found on premises of a third possible presidential candidate.”

Serious question: What actually is going on? Are there just too many classified documents and bringing home a pack of sticky notes is top-secret? Or is everyone selling secrets to Iran? If I have a reader who knows anything about classified documents, please explain in the comments. 

→ Mass shootings that defy an easy narrative: There were two terrible mass shootings this week—one in Monterey Park and one in Half Moon Bay. And both of them defy simple political spin. In other words: The shooters aren’t violent white supremacists. The Monterey Park shooter was an Asian man killing Asian people in a dance hall. The Half Moon Bay shooter also happened to be Asian. America is a violent country. 

→ Trump’s time-out is over: Two years after banning him from Facebook and Instagram, the Chiefs of Menlo Park have decided that the former president is docile enough to be allowed back online. His antics are now more about selling NFTs and less about revolution. The former president still has to get out of his Truth Social exclusivity clause, but when has the man ever honored a contract? 

Twitter, not to be outdone, brought back the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, who is very much a nasty antisemite. Fuentes was active on Twitter for about 24 hours, where he hosted a public conversation about (who woulda guessed), yes, Jews! Anyway, he got himself banned again. For as long as Twitter is an ad-supported business, Elon Musk is going to have trouble with lowlives like Fuentes. Kleenex and Seventh Generation and whoever else aren’t champing at the bit to be seen alongside a white nationalist. 

Advertisers are actually a calming, moderating force for media companies. The NYT got more left-wing as it became more of a subscriber-supported business, since that’s what the subscribers wanted. TGIF, another subscriber-supported business, feeds you the Satanic propaganda I know you want, Kleenex be damned

→ In other Twitter news: The company blocked users in India from watching a BBC documentary that’s critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It’s one thing for an Indian university to cut power before students could watch the documentary, but it’s another for Twitter to do Modi’s bidding and censor it. Annoyingly, the actor John Cusack, who is often a jerk online, is a victim of Modi-Twitter censorship, and so fine . . . we stand with John Cusack just this once. Anyway, you know what to do: Watch the BBC Modi documentary.

When I was at Twitter HQ going through the files, Musk told me he was running “a lawsuit deli, take a number,” and the man was not exaggerating. This week’s latest: Twitter is being sued by a San Francisco landlord and by the King Charles’s Crown Estate for millions in unpaid rent. 

→ Good luck getting car insurance in St. Louis: Insurance companies are so sick of paying for stolen cars that they are refusing coverage on a couple of makes and models in St. Louis. So if you have a Hyundai or a Kia and you live in the city of St. Louis, you’re out of luck. In the last year, thefts of Hyundais and Kias have risen 1,450 percent.

Yes, a 1,450 percent rise. (Please tell me again about how fake the crime wave is, please I love it.)

In other news of appalling preventable tragedies: Seattle’s morgue is running out of room for all the people who overdosed on fentanyl. Here is Seattle-King County Public Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan: “Obviously, they have finite space in the coolers they use, and that space is now being exceeded on a regular basis.”

And there’s a new-ish measure of how deep the decline of downtown San Francisco is. Downtown activity was at 31 percent of where it was before the pandemic, determined by GPS location data from 18 million smartphones. Granted, my personal Tinder activity in downtown SF once accounted for 20 percent of regional cell traffic, so this isn’t all on the mayor.

→ Housing market is bouncing back: Americans seem to be settling into the expensive mortgage life. Interest rates are stabilizing and even coming down a bit, and the housing market is rebounding. “The number of Redfin customers requesting first tours has improved 17 percentage points from the November trough,” the listings firm wrote. I put this item here only because it makes me feel better. I bought a house at the peak, you see, and so now I seek solace in the Redfin corporate blog. 

→ Quick reminder:

→ School library battle will never end: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is cracking down on books in schools since HB 1467, which he signed into law in March 2022, went into effect in July. Florida teachers are being told to remove books from their classrooms to be vetted. Any new books ordered have to be vetted by a certified media specialist who’s been trained by the Department of Education, or risk being charged with a felony. Yes, literally a felony. 

So you’ve got a Florida library that’s banned Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Absolutely some Young Adult literature is probably too explicit for school libraries, but the panic is now a maw hungry for anything vaguely complex. Training around the Florida law asks administrators to “err on the side of caution.” Safetyism is a disease on both sides of the political spectrum. 

Anyway, this is all a bunch of bickering millennials and boomers, and it has little to do with actual kids who are, of course, on their phones. Think back to your time in high school: How much did the school library selection influence you? If the school library was deeply sexually formative, I have some follow-up questions. 

Everyone is freaky about food right now: While progressives are arguing for food neutrality, saying there’s no such thing as good or bad food, conservatives are taking a very different tack. Iowa Republicans have proposed a new set of restrictions for people on SNAP food assistance, and the theme seems to be cruelty dressed as health. Under the introduced rules: no baked, refried, or chili beans (only fresh); no sliced, cubed, or crumbled cheese; and no fresh meat.

→ Memphis cops charged with murder: Five Memphis cops, all of whom are black, have been fired and charged with the second-degree murder of Tyre Nichols, who is also black. Apparently, the body cam footage is appalling. The footage is set to be released sometime today.

→ Moderna wants to make the vax a luxury: Moderna is looking to charge around $130 for its Covid vaccine. This has been rumbling for a few weeks now. Yes, American taxpayers paid $2.5 billion to develop that vaccine. Then Moderna turns around and decides to charge Americans $130 for the shot. Makes sense, right?

As I looked into this, I noticed something odd. The mainstream media and big tech companies have been laying the political groundwork to get Americans ready for a $130 vax price since the very beginning. They’ve done this by trying to deny that taxpayers funded the vaccine development. 

Two perfect examples: In 2020, USA Today ran a “fact check” calling it “partly false” to say taxpayers paid for the development of the vaccine, citing tiny other funding sources. USA Today then had to correct their own fact check! But the initial impact is all that mattered. And since 2020, Facebook has been putting fact check: misleading notes on posts that claim U.S. taxpayers paid $2.5 billion for the vaccine development. But . . . taxpayers did pay for the vaccine!

I’d actually prefer a communist media that celebrates tax dollars at work to a kleptocratic one.

Pfizer, meanwhile, is talking about doing “directed evolution” of Covid in their labs so as to create more vaccines. Or at least that’s per the company’s “director of research and development strategic operations” in a new Project Veritas video. And yes, I absolutely will get caught in one of the PV stings. It’ll be a grainy video of me in a wine bar saying something depraved like “And then since I had run out of the organic applesauce, I just gave the baby a Go-Gurt.”

→ Tylenol and autism lawsuits moving ahead: A federal judicial panel has consolidated 18 lawsuits into one big class-action suit against Tylenol, and now there are 104 cases. The claim is that Tylenol, when taken during pregnancy, can cause autism and ADHD, and that manufacturers should have warned moms about this. Exposure to Tylenol in the womb does increase a child’s risk of developing autism—here’s a big study saying just that, from the U.S. Department of Health, and here’s a consensus paper in the medical journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology from major scientists from around the world. The question now is what responsibility does Tylenol’s parent company Johnson & Johnson have here? 

Here’s a disconcertingly simple little chart from the same paper (APAP is the medical abbreviation for Tylenol):

It’s a good thing that this concerning news is coming out at a time when trust in Big Pharma, and the medical system as a whole, is at an all-time high. This won’t get weird, I’m sure!

→ The rich kids of Antifa are still out having fun: We hadn’t heard from Antifa in a while. Had they grown bored of burning down poor black neighborhoods and discovered new hobbies? Anarchist knitting circles? Yacht racing? Molotov cocktail parties? Mostly, yes. But a few stragglers are still out there, letting the good times roll. Recently they’ve had a fun jaunt lighting fires in Atlanta and spraying graffiti in Boston. Among those arrested: An award-winning clarinetist, a vegan, and Riley Dowell, the nonbinary child of House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. Riley apparently spray-painted slogans on a public monument (All Cops Are Bastards) and then even assaulted a cop. So chic. See you at the Cape, Riley. 

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