We’ve got the headlines we’re following. We’ve got a summary of this week on the site. It’s TGIF. You know what we do here.
Americans evacuate another country: As America withdraws from the world, other powers step into the breach. First, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban—and China lept to fill the void we left behind. Now Russia is preparing its invasion of Ukraine, and Americans have been evacuated from there, too. On a related note: Saudi Arabia snubbed President Biden’s request to release more oil, which would tame prices at the pump. The Saudis would rather keep their deal with Russia and let American gas prices stay high.
The horror of our forever wars is obvious, and I’ve marched against them all. But over the past few months we have gotten a taste of what a sweeping American withdrawal from the world really looks like.
Curriculum transparency and anti-CRT: Parents have gotten very organized against the unpopular ultra-woke politics seeping into public school classrooms, and a few different backlashes are going on. There is the movement for “Curriculum Transparency,” which would have schools post lesson plans, teacher trainings, and curricular materials so that parents can see what’s up. This idea seems extremely reasonable to me and puts the left in the unenviable position of arguing against government transparency. They’ve taken the bait, of course: The ghost ship that is the ACLU is opposing transparency efforts. We thought they were fans of freedom of information.
But there is also a push from the right for hardcore content bans that seem like something out of the 1950s, and teacher surveillance efforts that are embarrassing for all involved.
Some of the highly specific teaching rules would open teachers to constant threat of litigation, which might be the point. Tennessee HB 800, for example, would ban teachers from ever teaching anything that might “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.” Kansas HB 2662 would make it a misdemeanor to teach any books that depict homosexuality at all, unless specially approved.
The focus on gay issues comes in part as a reaction to the spike in young girls gender-transitioning at school, which teachers seem to encourage and then hide from parents. But there is a vast space between a) asking that teachers inform parents of major social and, ultimately, medical changes a minor child is beginning at school and b) banning teachers from assigning a book with a gay character.
As for surveillance: if reporters and politicians are still lying about the basics of what’s going on in schools politically, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when parents think of dark ways to find out. So now we have a proposed bill in Florida that would have teachers kept on camera and microphone throughout the day so parents can monitor them.
Bills like these undermine other common sense efforts—and will turn off potential new allies.
Please think of actual ways to help stop inflation: Where there ought to be compassion for those who are seeing their savings shrink, or maybe just plans about what to do about inflation, instead our politicians are finger-pointing and shaming.
Here’s Senator Elizabeth Warren this week: “Giant corporations are making record profits by increasing prices, and CEOs are saying the quiet part out loud: they’re happy to help drive inflation.”
Senator Warren is too smart to actually think a sudden rush of wild greed is behind this. As she and other politicians try to spin the situation, Americans just saw their cash savings shrink by at least 7.5% in a year.
Trump derangement syndrome still impacting America’s pundits: Illegal campaign contributions were made from the United Arab Emirates to the 2016 Hilary Clinton presidential campaign, the Intercept reported. For some reason, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Mehdi Hasan assumed these contributions were made to Trump’s campaign and went ballistic online. Finally, some hard evidence of foreign tampering in the 2016 election! Here was the smoking gun! Mehdi wrote: “Some of us warned, when everyone was obsessively focused only on Russia, to also pay attention to the Trump campaign's alleged financial ties to other foreign nations like the Emirates.”
Realizing it was money to Clinton’s campaign, Mehdi deleted the tweet and apologized.
My own mild, persistent TDS: Why was Trump clogging the White House toilets with torn up paper? Ever since I read that last week, I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t mean why was he trying to secretly destroy documents —that’s easy to answer. But more the method. “The fact that he was flushing documents down the toilet in a house that literally has 28 fireplaces should prove that he’s not fit for office,” writes a very funny guy.
Louisville assassination attempt: Quintez Brown, BLM activist and former columnist for the local Courier Journal paper, has been charged with attempting to murder Jewish mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg. Brown allegedly walked into the candidate’s campaign office and fired at Greenberg, missing his body but ripping through the sweater he was wearing. You can read Brown’s social justice-themed Courier columns here. He spoke about George Floyd with the BBC here and was frequently giving impassioned speeches at protests. Or you can read about President Barack Obama’s foundation honoring Brown in 2019 here.
Oddly, some are framing this as right-wing violence. Here’s how the Las Vegas Sun described the shooting: While “there’s been no indication yet that the activist had ties to any right-wing organizations, the shooting comes amid a rise in threats against politicians fueled by increasingly violent rhetoric coming from extremist Republicans.”
Strange how BLM and a community bail fund would send someone in an Angela Davis t-shirt to deliver a $100,000 check to get this possible right-wing agitator out of jail.
Greenberg said he’s shocked Brown is out on bail already. “It is nearly impossible to believe that someone can attempt murder on Monday and walk out of jail on Wednesday,” he said.
Clintonworld and BLM? The Washington Examiner, which has been doing great reporting on the nonprofit, comes now with some news. Longtime Clinton advisors and allies are getting involved to help rescue (or take the last dollars from?) what’s left of the Black Lives Matter organization.
What to make of John Durham: Special counsel John Durham is alleging that the Clinton campaign spied on Trump’s campaign to try to concoct a Trump-Russia connection, which could be Watergate or it could definitely not be. I don’t quite know what to make of all this, and I won’t pretend to have a pithy take. I’d love some smart White House reporters to help explain all this to me, but it seems unlikely. As the Wall Street Journal editorial page puts it this week: “The journalists who gave themselves prizes for pressing the Russia collusion narrative that turned out be false are now dismissing news that their narrative was inflated with false information collected by eavesdropping on Mr. Trump.”
Asian parents are done with the nonsense: Three wokest members of San Francisco’s board of education have been recalled this week in a landslide. The board spent the last two years advocating for the most hard-left talking points you can imagine—a sort of fever dream of Ibram Kendi and Nikole Hannah-Jones articles in school board form. These arguments work great for bullying and smearing moderates on Twitter, but turn out to be incredibly unpopular in real life, even among the ur-liberals of San Francisco. This is the first recall effort in the city in 40 years.
The school board’s greatest hits were: trying to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars covering up a historic mural they deemed offensive; deciding they needed to remove the names of right-wing goons like Abraham Lincoln and Senator Diane Feinstein from the city’s schools; declining to allow a gay father on the parent committee for the reason that he was white; demanding that any discussion of “learning loss” during lockdown be reframed as “learning change”; disbanding the city’s beloved elite public school; and of course fighting against schools being open at all.
The mainstream press smeared the recall campaign as a right-wing movement funded by billionaires who tricked everyone. The city’s Board of Supervisors president said it was driven by “closet Republicans and most certainly folks with conservative values in San Francisco, even if they weren’t registered Republicans.” One recalled school board member wrote: “White supremacists are enjoying this.”
There are so many secret right-wingers in San Francisco, it seems, because about a third of registered voters cast a ballot, a huge turnout. The recall saw support from across the city. Every neighborhood, rich and poor cast votes. It was a massive landslide.
And it was especially galvanizing for Asian parents. Why would that be? Two reasons: Board member Allison Collins had written that Asian parents have a slave mentality, are “house n***ers,” and embody white supremacy, which I guess Asian parents didn’t like. Collins and her former co-board members also eliminated the city’s top elite high school entrance exam, effectively gutting the only public path for high achievers in the city’s school system. And so the landslide was especially stark in more heavily Asian neighborhoods: 84% of Chinatown voters were for recalling Collins, 84% of Richmond voters were for it, and 87% of Sunset district voters were too.
Debanking and taking the dogs: To end the trucker protest, Canada is doing things that would fairly be described as fascism if it were being done to anyone else but in this case is seen as good ole governance. American newspapers are writing sympathetic pieces about people who want Justin Trudeau to call the army in: Send in the troops!
Canadian banks have frozen accounts related to protest fundraising this week, while American fundraising platform GoFundMe froze the millions that had been raised and refused to send it to the truckers or even to automatically refund it (under pressure, they backtracked and agreed to at least refund donors). Now, Ottawa police are threatening to confiscate protestors' dogs: They wrote that after any “police actions” like an arrest that might separate owner and dog, the police will consider that dog “relinquished” after eight days.
Naming and shaming the gelato shop lady for journalism: The people who donated to the Canadian truckers through Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo were all exposed this week after the site was hacked. People can now see who offered financial support to the protestors.
Journalists are having a heyday, naming and shaming those who donated as little as $40. The Washington Post is on it. The Ottawa Sun ran a whole article on a gelato shop owner who gave $250 to the truckers: “The owner of Stella Luna Gelato Café says she regrets making her $250 donation to the truck convoy, saying she thought it was a ‘peaceful, grassroots movement,’” an editor writes somberly.
Not that these kinds of reporters read TGIF, but if one does: Please leave these people alone.
Also: remember when Twitter banned the New York Post for pursuing the Hunter Biden laptop story because it was reporting based on “hacked materials”? Seems like this information is being shared by those “in concert” with the hackers, no? Funny how these rules disappear.
An inconvenient murder: Christina Yuna Lee, 35, walked up to her sixth floor apartment in New York City this week. Her alleged murderer, Assamad Nash stayed slightly behind as he followed her up the stairs and into her home. She screamed for help. Police arrived to the door. They say Nash imitated a woman’s voice at one point, telling them there was no need for any help. When police finally got in, Lee had been killed with 40 jabs to the neck and torso with her own kitchen knife. Nash had been arrested previously at least a dozen times. Basically the new rule in America’s cities is that no one goes to jail until they do a murder, then they get arrested-arrested for reals this time.
Lee’s memorial has been vandalized. The candles were smashed, and the Stop Asian Hate sign was torn.
We have to live differently in a crime wave: Los Angeles likes to give me TGIF content. This week, our car was stolen right out of our own driveway. Not a fancy car, just a regular old Honda, but I’d left the key in the cup holder like an idiot (my dad upon hearing this just laughed). In 2014, there were 13,953 cars stolen in Los Angeles. In 2021, it was more than 24,000. In New York, car theft is up 92% between 2019 and 2021.
When crime rises like this, you feel it. We all have to start living like it, myself included. It doesn’t feel good though. Trusting makes us happy and makes a better, stronger, richer society. The stress of living in an unsafe neighborhood makes for worse pregnancy outcomes and poorer mental health. Having to think a lot about our physical safety is a mental and physical tax.
PJ O’Rourke, the brilliant satirist, died this week. In honor of him, read his dedication in “Give War a Chance.”
Three Good Reads
A Guardian piece about all the prescription medicine in our water supply. The world’s water is now apparently full of pharmaceuticals.
A Wall Street Journal feature about how college students, back on campus, have forgotten how to talk to each other.
Unherd’s Kate Clanchy comes with a piece on what it’s like to work with sensitivity readers.
“Nor should I say that more middle-class than working-class children go to university; nor that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome leaves children unable to progress; nor that a long tight dress restricts movement. All of these things are, for my Readers, ‘hurtful’ notions of mine, not unfortunate facts. Writing, they imply, should represent the world as it ought to be, not as it is.”
This Week on Common Sense
The President of Levi’s, Jennifer Sey, announced her resignation this week on Common Sense. It was a powerful piece that resonated with over one million readers and was picked up by everyone from Tucker Carlson and Megyn Kelly to Andrew Ross Sorkin and Erin Burnett.
Our favorite common sense doctor, Vinay Prasad, wrote about how to save science from nonsensical Covid politics we’ve all grown used to.
And Bari led an open thread for subscribers to debate America’s role in the world today. That’s what Matt Taibbi and Bret Stephens came on the podcast to do this week, too.
Also on Honestly, our favorite China reporter, Josh Rogin, on Beijing’s Genocide Games.
TGIF everyone. I gotta go lease a Honda.