U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson takes questions from the media after meeting with Jewish students at Columbia University. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

TGIF: Four More Years, Pause

Australia wants to jail Elon. Women tie their tubes. Mike Johnson is sticking around. Plus: China might not have been honest about the pandemic.

Welcome back. I’m workshopping taglines for my book, which comes out in a couple weeks. The latest is: This is the story of how some of the smartest, most educated people in the U.S. lost their minds. . . how I almost did too. . . and how we can get our sanity back. It’s better than my usual, which is to respond to questions with: A book? No, that’s someone else. Anyway, to TG!

→ Is there a secret menu, maybe? About half of American voters look at their options and say they would like to replace both presidential candidates if they could, according to new Pew Research Center survey data. Among Biden supporters it’s even bigger: 62 percent of Biden backers want to replace both Biden and Trump. As an American who is holding out for the Illuminati to switch out our candidates, or for one of the (let’s face it) nominees to wake up and realize I’m too old or I’m too nuts or Why is Hillary standing over me with a revolver? I’m comforted to know I’m not alone in my delusions.  

→ Four more years, pause: Speaking to North America’s Building Trades Union, Biden tried to get the crowd going in a raucous chant. And so you had our daffy 81-year-old president onstage doing his best impression of a barnstorming rally: “Four more years, pause,” he said, glancing around, looking to all the world like a man whose TV remote is attached to a string. It’s a little quiet before the audience realizes what he’s asking for and erupts into “Four more years” chants. 

And our White House staff carefully removed the gaffe and presented a special, clean transcript.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Folks, imagine what we can do next. Four more years (inaudible).

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

It’s a tiny thing, but. . . it wasn’t inaudible. It was audible! It was even kind of sweet. He was just reading an instruction from the teleprompter. After people noticed, the transcript was updated. Related to unreliable White House transcripts, Biden refuses to give interviews to the major American publications, and on Thursday a New York Times spokesperson was pissed off: “Biden has granted far fewer press conferences and sit down interviews with independent journalists than virtually all of his predecessors.” Love to see that vim and vigor!

→ TikTok to go to an American: Remember how TikTok stirred up America’s youth and our vast number of CCP-friendly reporters to pretend like the sky would fall if TikTok transferred to U.S.-based owners? Well, the Senate officially voted for TikTok to be sold to American buyers, and it passed easily: 79–18.

Even this week, when TikTok’s supposed head of public policy, Michael Beckerman, sent a letter to Congress, the metadata on the letter said it was created by a man named Zheng Han. Who is Zheng? An intern? What’s he up to? We have no idea! And isn’t it odd that the CEO of TikTok, who’s about to make a lot of money in a sale, is so upset by all this? The Chinese Communist Party is thinking that when they sell TikTok, they won’t sell the algorithm. It would be too damning if American technologists had a chance to peek under the hood. They’re also considering just shutting the whole thing down. Having unfettered access to America’s youth is an extraordinarily valuable thing for the CCP, who are thrilled to remind our teens that Tiananmen Square never happened, the Uyghurs are happy, Hong Kong Is Part of China Forever, identifying as a part-bird system of multiple personalities is valid, and Death to America. 

→ Oh, Columbia: My dear alma mater is in the news, as you’ve probably seen by now. A group of anti-Israel protesters have taken over the quad and declared it an autonomous zone, with all the usual stuff (essential oil zones, a first aid tent with 5 Band-Aids and some NyQuil, interpretive dances, other interpretive dances with strings). Congressional Republicans have turned it into a political pilgrimage, and the optics are pretty good: the students are literally leading cheers in favor of Hamas and the October 7 attack, like: “It was the Al-Aqsa Flood that put the global Intifada back on the table again. And it is the sacrificial spirit of the Palestinian freedom fighters that will guide every struggle on every corner of the earth to victory.” Students holler with excitement; clearly all this a metaphor for peace and love and liberation. Visibly Jewish students who haven’t been vetted as good Jews are pushed out of the center of campus by protesters, who keep their faces fully covered as they link hands and repeat: “We have Zionists who have entered the camp.” (To be fair, that’s also what I say when Bar comes home too late and I’m annoyed.) One student leader of the protests released a video saying: “Zionists don’t deserve to live comfortably, let alone Zionists don’t deserve to live, the same way we’re very comfortable accepting that Nazis don’t deserve to live, fascists don’t deserve to live, racists don’t deserve to live.” 

Or, as one prominent NBC News reporter put it: “I didn’t see a single instance of violence or aggression on the lawn or at the student encampment. The student-led protest was peaceful and often very quiet.” 

Now, who are some of the other student leaders? Mostly rich-kid hipsters (i.e., me in college, and nothing but respect for my kids who think that a jacket with a lot of pockets hides the boarding school education). Half of these protesters look like girls I dated, which sort of makes me nostalgic for my own Hamas days. Sure, I avoided any actual protest about any topic—all that screen printing and all those meetings!—but you bet I’d bring a box of wine to the after-party and nod along to your story about your fascist comp lit professor. But the most inspiring to me is Isabel Jennifer Seward, the daughter of a top UPS executive. 

A couple years before finding herself cheering for Hamas, young Isabel Jennifer Seward was driving a cool pickup truck—as we do—then crossed a double yellow line into oncoming traffic. She didn’t appear even to try to change course as she drove over the hood of an oncoming car, killing an elderly but not rich couple. She has given “conflicting” reports about whether or not she was texting at the time. Anyway, our adorable Future Houthi of America was given a $220 ticket and the whole episode ended. All I will say is that if you do get away with double murder after a little texting and a little driving, the best thing is then to lay real low. Join the march but don’t intentionally get arrested as a statement, because then the time you killed those old people might get dragged back out. This is secondary, but they don’t train WASPs like they used to. The ancient ancestral wisdom has been lost. When I get away with a murder one day, which I’m sure I will, you’ll know because this column will end. You’ll just never hear from me again. Remember Clarence Kennedy? Exactly. Know that I will still be enjoying myself, but quietly. 

And here is how The Daily Beast described the suspension of the daughter of a sitting congresswoman. 

This is how I feel every time I’m not literally in my house eating: suspended, homeless, without food. . . when will it end?

What exactly are the demands of the encampment? It’s good to read over their own materials. Their demands are that “Zionism” be fully dismantled and that these schools embrace things like declaring Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. And this isn’t a make-peace group hoping for two states; for them, even talking to the other side is evil: “We therefore reject all collaboration and dialogue with Zionist organizations through a strict policy of anti-normalization. The liberation of Palestine requires the abolition of Zionism.” Reasonable! 

→ Good people on both sides: Here’s Biden, as schools across the country are having their quads taken over by people chanting their various little chants: “I condemn the antisemitic protests. . . . I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.” Good people on both sides, Biden says. I condemn the non-understanders too. 

As Jeremy Flood, a union organizer and former Bernie Sanders staffer, put it: “A good law of history is that if you ever find yourself opposing a student movement while siding with the ruling class, you are wrong. Every single time. In every era. No matter the issue.” I’m not a historian, but I’m pretty sure Nazism was very popular among the youth. And the Cultural Revolution really took off with students. On the other hand, Jeremy Flood might think both of those were good movements.

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