FOR FREE PEOPLE

FOR FREE PEOPLE

TGIF: Congress Is Back. Let the Insanity Begin.

Kevin McCarthy needs more friends. Cardi B talks stagflation. Jordan Peterson resists re-education. And so much more.

Happy Friday. The endless California rain means everything outside our door is a mud sty. But I’ve been long prepared for this. My workdays (11:00 A.M. to 11:45 A.M.) were already spent in bed. TGIF.

→ Kevin McCarthy needs more friends: The Republicans, now in control of the House, are trying to complete a fairly basic thing which is to choose their next speaker. It’s not going well. 

Longtime California Congressman Kevin McCarthy is the obvious would-be winner but he can’t quite scrounge together enough votes. Eleven times–eleven!—McCarthy has been put up for a vote. And ten times he has fallen a few votes short. Why? The right flank of the party hates him. He is now reportedly offering his dissenters deep concessions: More members of the Freedom Caucus joining the House Rules Committee and the ability for just one irate member of the lower chamber to call a whole new vote to oust the speaker at any time (currently requires half the GOP). 

Mainstream media coverage of the situation is basically just the word LOL typed out over and over, so I’ve had trouble understanding what is actually happening. One good read is in the American Conservative: “For anti-McCarthy Republicans, it’s not about finding a better alternative. It’s about proving they can and will hold a Republican leader accountable.” 

Maybe. Perhaps the bigger problem facing the nationalist-populist wing of the GOP is, nearly six years after Donald Trump took office, it has little idea of how to articulate a vision for the America it wants to build. (Consider Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s justifiable rant directed at the anti-McCarthy holdouts.)

Michigan Libertarian and former Congressman Justin Amash wrote of McCarthy: “He’s unprincipled, dishonest, vindictive, and focused solely on gaining and maintaining power.” 

To get this kind of endless in-fighting you used to have to go to a socialist potluck. 

→ Amazon to lay off 18,000: There’s a new word I’m learning. The word is stagflation. It is, per Fortune, “when a stalling economy, high inflation, and rising unemployment all collide.” In other words: the toxic brew of inflation caused by the Biden administration’s endless, blind Covid stimulus mixed with American businesses not growing fast enough. The Sherwin-Williams color of the year might be Terra, but according to Bloomberg, “Stagflation Will Rule 2023.” 

And so into the maw go 18,000 people’s jobs at Amazon. The layoff is hitting the corporate teams (versus warehouse workers), and it represents about 5% of that workforce. 

→ Cardi B for Speaker? The hip hop star didn’t use the word stagflation, but she captured the crux of it on a Twitter rant, calling for “anybody that is responsible for these f****** prices to put that s*** the f*** down.” The rapper noted that her lettuce used to be $2, and it is now $7. Despite her $62 million net worth, Cardi “can only imagine what middle class people or people in the hood is m***** f***** thinking, so yes I'm going to say something.” TGIF stands with Cardi B.

→ Latest from the Twitter Files: The Twitter Files—internal documents, emails and chats involving the past Twitter regime—continue to show how the U.S. government sought to silence its critics. The latest, from Matt Taibbi, shows that Adam Schiff, a Democrat and the head of the House Intelligence Committee, specifically asked the social network to ban a journalist, Paul Sperry. Even Twitter employees, usually perfectly happy to censor the politically inconvenient, balked at this

→ Wait . . . now Democrats are busing migrants to New York? Gov. Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, is busing migrants to New York City. And New York mayor Eric Adams is not happy about it, saying: “This is just unfair for local governments to have to take on this national obligation.”

Recall not three months ago, when busing migrants to New York was considered outrageous, potentially human trafficking, worthy of huge splashy headlines and endless features about the suffering these trips were causing. When the buses come from Colorado, surely the response will be the same? Of course not.

I just checked, and there is not a single story on The New York Times homepage right now. Polis describes his busing program to NYC versus the essentially identical Republican busing program to NYC as “night and day.” Because, Polis says: “We are respecting the agency and the desires of migrants who are passing through Colorado. We want to help them reach their final destination, wherever that is.” 

→ We’re all going to be sent to New Jersey for re-education: Two bits of news from New Jersey public schools. First, masking is back for a lot of students. Once educators got ahold of the mask and the sweet quiet of social distancing, they apparently couldn’t get enough. Now, with various respiratory viruses ripping through schools (in large part because of children’s weakened immune systems from Covid isolation), various districts are bringing back masks

The much bigger update this week is the New Jersey governor signed into law a state-wide requirement for all K-12 students every year to undergo “media literacy” training because “democracy is under attack.” I cannot believe the disinfo mafia has now gotten into state-wide requirements. Here’s Gov. Phil Murphy: 

“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse. It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”

The flashcards for these classes will be easy to make. One side: Substack. Other side: Bad. 

→ Another fantastically insane fake Native American: I’m beginning to think that any high profile Native American influencer should be assumed to be a white girl with a spray tan. The latest Pretendian, who is quite literally a white girl with a spray tan: Kay LeClaire. A major leader in the Indigenous movement, LeClaire has claimed Métis, Oneida, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Cuban and Jewish heritage. She was a co-owner of giige, a “Queer and Native American-owned tattoo shop and artist collective in Madison, WI.” She was a community leader-in-Residence at UW-Madison's School of Human Ecology and was part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force. She has had copious speaking engagements, and she even led a name-change-mob, forcing the local music venue Winnebego to change its name for Indigenous sensitivity (it was named after its street). She sold crafts and clothes, all while pretending to be a Native American (that’s a federal crime, by the way). Obviously she also claims to be Two-Spirit, a sort of nonbinary identification long-practiced in Native cultures. 

She is in fact German, Swedish and French Canadian. An anonymous blogger identified the fraud.

On a related note, it’s a good time to read this article about how the official “Native American” population in the U.S. between the years 2010 and 2020 . . . doubled. Pretty soon every high school senior will be Native American. Little Harrison and Haisley will be touring the Princeton campus like, “why, yes, this is my ancestral feathered headdress, thanks for asking.” 

→ Jordan Peterson under Canadian review: The Canadians are trying to take Jordan Peterson’s psychology license. The College of Psychologists of Ontario which governs the profession up north, is demanding that he apologize for various comments like calling Elliot Page “she,” calling Prime Minister Trudeau a “prick,” and commenting on a plus-size Sports Illustrated model: “Sorry. Not Beautiful.” 

Here’s what the College had to say: “The comments at issue appear to undermine the public trust in the profession as a whole, and raise questions about your ability to carry out your responsibilities as a psychologist.” 

Now, is Mr. Peterson the man I personally would choose to see for therapy? No. But most therapists in my neighborhood are demisexual faeries who think therapy is white supremacy and happiness is impossible to achieve until the revolution comes. I wouldn’t see them either. There’s a great Wall Street Journal defense of Peterson here.

Of course this would never happen here in the U.S. . . . 

→ Of course this is happening in the U.S.: A new law in California paves the way for doctors to lose their license for “dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.” That sort of behavior is now considered “unprofessional conduct.” 

Longtime TGIF readers know my stance, but for all the newcomers: Misinformation and disinformation are real phenomena. But most of the time these days the words are political terms applied to any information a ruling clique doesn’t like. Often, it’s used by progressive journalists who want to see various voices censored on social media. 

In the case of Covid, many, many very real facts were considered mis-and-disinfo. Like: The vaccine does not prevent transmission of Covid. That was considered fake news, verboten. Had this law been in place you would have lost your medical license for saying it. In that case, people saw with their own bodies that, although vaccinated, they were very much coughing. But thanks to this new law that muffles doctors, who knows what we won’t know going forward. 

→ Vaccine-skeptical, sit this one out: When Damar Hamlin, a football safety for the Buffalo Bills, got hit in the chest and collapsed on the field, who was ready to jump in and opine but the vax skeptics. On Tucker Carlson, there was speculation that Hamlin was suffering vaccine-induced myocarditis. 

Obviously there are vaccine side effects that were under-reported and lied about, but that does not mean anyone with an injury or anyone who dies young was killed by Pfizer. Just like progressives see a twinge in their ankles as #longcovid, the conservative vax skeptic movement is a hammer looking for nails. 

In very good news, Damar Hamlin is stable and seems to be making a recovery. 

→ A flurry of sexual abuse suits: In California in 2020, a law passed that granted a special three-year window for people to report on historic childhood sexual abuse that had passed the statute of limitations. Thousands filed suits (including 2,000 against the Catholic Church alone). As that window closed on December 31, a final flurry of suits came through. Many were young people saying that, as teens, they were taken advantage of by celebrities. One woman (now in her 60s) says she and Warren Beatty (now in his 80s) had sex when she was 14 years old. Steven Tyler (now in his 70s) has been sued by a woman (in her 60s) who spent three years as his girlfriend starting when she was 16. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who starred as Romeo and Juliet in the 1968 movie, had a brief and partial nude scene. The stars are both in their 70s now, and although Hussey said a few years ago there was nothing wrong with the scene, she and Whiting now want more than $500 million in damages

As this window closes, another is opening: In both New York and California a one-year lookback window has opened for those who say they were abused as adults. Hundreds of women have sued New York over past prison sexual abuse. And there are new suits against Trump and Cosby

As with all complicated things, some of this will be people getting long-delayed justice and some will be scammers looking for cash. Hopefully the justice system can tell the difference. 

→ Fine, call me trad: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has signed a new law requiring proof of age to watch porn online. You have to upload a valid state ID before you can enter the site and watch the porn. Now, do I love that the state of Louisiana could start creating a database of anyone who watches porn? No. Will the Louisiana porn-watcher list leak? Absolutely. But you can’t deny that free, streaming porn has transformed sexual mores. I’d say it’s for the worse. Standing with me is Josh Hawley, who this month encouraged young men to “log off the porn and go ask a real woman on a date.” 

That’s right, I’ll say it, and call me Andrea Dworkin if you must: TGIF is anti-teens-streaming-porn. And it’s worth collectively joining a porn database to get us there. To my libertarian friends at Reason, and to Nick Gillespie personally, please don’t cancel me, I still want to have dinner.

And now a brief interlude from The Free Press’s own fashion police, Suzy Weiss . . . 

→ Fashion Watch at the 118th Congress: Say what you will about Nancy Pelosi but, kente cloth notwithstanding, she dressed the part. Her waist was almost always cinched. Her hair (whatever flack she caught getting it done during Covid, it was worth it) was always coiffed, but never had that helmet look. And between the statement brooches and her pearl necklaces—she never did dainty—the woman knew how to accessorize. 

As the 118th Congress gaveled into session, my eyes were scanning the floor for the next House fashionista. I wasn’t impressed. 

The okay-dressed included Massachusetts’ Katherine Clark who looked nice enough in a maroon suit, but would it have killed her to have an intern to steam the sleeve? California’s Judy Chu had on a fabulous plaid cardigan, but the shoes looked like they were made for a filibuster, if you know what I mean.

There were a lot of congresswomen sporting blue power suits, including Illinois’ Nikki Budzinski, Connecticut’s Jahana Hayes, and my own rep, Summer Lee. Though I have to respect Rep. Hayes's choice to bust out the same jewel-buckled Manolos that Carrie wore to her wedding in “Sex and the City.”

I get what Rep. Ayanna Pressley was aiming for with this dress, but between the necklace and the neckline, it was just too much. Ditto Rep. George Santos in his powder blue sweater, which isn’t doing him any favors, and which he paired with a nearly-$8,000 Cartier Santos watch, which raised the obvious question: Is it counterfeit? And I respect that Rep. Nancy Mace went form-fitting, if nipple-freeing, in that tight black leather number, but people, if we’re going to go for a power dress, just take some of that insider-traded money and splurge on the tried but true Roland Mouret Galaxy dress. 

My one request for all congressional representatives is this: Have some fun (like Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro clearly is). You're a congressperson for possibly the last session of America. Go big or go home.

OK, me again:

→ ADHD prescriptions are out of control: A full 41 million Americans are currently on Adderall (i.e.: amphetamine mixed salts). The DEA is trying to crack down, investigating the various startups and remote therapy companies that are prescribing the stuff. Here’s a chart I’m stealing from the Daily Mail, my main source of news, The New Yorker of my homestead, to show just how much this diagnosis has grown:

I certainly believe that a lot of people need medication. But I just don’t buy it that this many Americans need to be on amphetamines. It’s absurd. Is everyone going to the club after work and I’m not invited? 

At the same time, it’s not all about self control. I believe these newly diagnosed people genuinely cannot focus or complete tasks without this medication. 

For the vast majority of them: Screens are the disease. The pleasure these devices give us is the root of the distraction. That pleasure is simply stronger than a natural human level of self-control can fight. Speaking personally, it would take amphetamines to get my eyeballs off the newsfeed. Thankfully, I’ve found a way to monetize my addiction.

→ Frosted Mini-Wheats are healthier than eggs: My last health-related item is on the government-funded food rating system that is supposed to help people make healthy choices and actually says stuff like Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and orange juice are healthier than chicken breast and steak. It’s called The Food Compass, and it is bonkers. 

This came to my attention from Calley Means, who is launching a company to expand FSA-deductible items, called TrueMed, and who went on Tucker Carlson this week to talk about the need for better public health guidance. Now, I’ve complained a lot about how healthy eating has been coded right-wing, while progressives have embraced the all junk food is beautiful movement, but Calley Means is also calling out the Heritage Foundation for, he says, “being paid by Coke.” All of this brings back memories of Big Corn and Monsanto. The nineties are back!  

There was a great essay on this topic featured on Pirate Wires this week (although the author blocked me online, so TGIF friendship with Pirate Wires is over). 

→ The Jihadi from Maine: A young Jihadi—Trevor Bickford, 19 years old and from Wells, Maine—attacked three police officers in New York City this week. He stabbed them with a machete and tried to get one of their guns. Trying to kill a police officer means a mandatory minimum of life in prison. Young Trevor was a Muslim convert and apparently his journey to radicalized Islamist was quite complete: He’s reportedly been ranting about how the U.S. government supports Israel. Bickford is currently being held in Bellevue.  

→ Zadie Smith, my favorite literary contrarian: Now for a literary note: I love Zadie Smith, the very elegant novelist and essayist, who is also a sharp critic of the various progressive panics. She has a new essay out, and I loved how she summarized Gen X versus Millennial taste. 

I am of that generation whose only real shibboleth was: "Is it interesting?" Into which broad category both evils and flaws could easily be fit, not because you agreed with them personally but because they had the potential to be analyzed, just like anything else. Whereas if you grew up online, the negative attributes of individual humans are immediately disqualifying. The very phrase ad hominem has been rendered obsolete, almost incomprehensible. An argument that is directed against a person, rather than the position they are maintaining? Online a person is the position they're maintaining and vice versa. Opinions are identities and identities are opinions. Unfollow! 

These opposing sensibilities make perfect sense to those born into them. Both appear moronic and dangerous to the other side.

I know that’s a little highfalutin for our collective taste. So I look to you to take it to the gutter in the comments. Just kidding, keep it kosher. TGIF.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this piece said the governor of New Jersey is named Chris Murphy. In fact, he is Phil Murphy. Apologies for the error.

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