Good TGIF to one and all. See you in the comments.
→ The big, exciting Trump arrest that wasn’t: All this week and last we’ve been told that former president Donald J. Trump was about to be arrested. There hasn’t been this level of anticipation from the #Resistance since Robert Mueller was just about to find that Trump was a Russian spy with a pee-pee tape (oh, sweet pee tape). Now a big bad new district attorney is at the helm in Manhattan, and he does not care about petty “quality of life” crimes like armed robberies. No, he is laser-focused on the big stuff: that Trump misclassified his hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels as legal fees rather than properly labeling the payment as hooker hush money—and, who knows, Trump potentially even used campaign funds for it.
The anticipation was palpable. Twitter-heads fantasized about a perp walk. People started making Trump arrest fan art. It kept being the appointed day. . . but the days came and went.
Alvin Bragg, who is part of the new Progressive Prosecutor movement, has not yet gotten his arrest. But he has gotten glowing profiles in the mainstream media, which is a justice just as sweet. Politico called Bragg a “low-key, politics-averse prosecutor.” Politics. . . averse? Interesting.
Reread his famous memo from January where he outlined all the crimes he will not prosecute (armed robbery, in some settings, should be charged as a misdemeanor petit larceny), and remember that he immediately dropped the probe into Andrew Cuomo’s covering up Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes. I’m ready to believe Trump committed major crimes, for sure, always, and I personally would like to jail every former president when their term ends as standard practice (good time to reread this Italo Calvino short story). But Alvin Bragg, blinded by his politics, does not seem like a serious man here. Speaking of. . .
→ “Or possibly a man”: Trump is very active on Truth Social these days, so, in the name of journalism, I’ve had to make an account there to read the daily deluge issuing forth from our former president’s mind. This week he’s been railing against the Manhattan DA (obviously) and also against his top competition, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. One Trump post that stood out to me: “Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are ‘underage’ (or possibly a man!).” Donald.
But he might not even have to get so down and dirty. The latest Monmouth Poll shows Trump with a strong lead over the Florida governor and his own former UN ambassador:
It’s been very interesting to watch the hard right go for DeSantis, slamming Trump as a pro-vax, pro-immigration softy. To my Nikki Haley stans—my Haley Hive—hanging strong: I see you. TGIF will think long and hard about our endorsement next year. Current front-runner is me.
→ Fox’s Dominion scandal getting worse: Now for a conservative legal brawl that actually has some teeth: Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News is getting messier, as a Fox employee implicated in the scandal turns against the network. One top Fox producer has filed suit against the company, saying she was pressured into being the scapegoat. Abby Grossberg, who worked as senior booking producer for Tucker Carlson, alleges in her suit that the network was rife with misogyny and general nastiness—and that she was pressured to take the fall in the Dominion case: “Fox’s legal team coerced, intimidated, and misinformed Ms. Grossberg as they ‘prepared’ her in connection with deposition testimony.”
Also in the lawsuit is the allegation that in the New York office were “many large and blown-up photographs of Nancy Pelosi in a plunging bathing suit revealing her cleavage. The images were plastered onto her [Grossberg’s] computer and elsewhere throughout the office.” That the decor in Fox’s New York newsroom is like a truck stop bathroom is not entirely unbelievable to me.
→ In other Fox News news: Rupert Murdoch is engaged at 92. His bride-to-be: Ann Lesley Smith, a former Bay Area police chaplain and a socialite. (Ann, are we cousins? It’s me, Nellie Bowles, B-O-W-L-E-S.) Rupert, speaking to Page Six’s Cindy Adams, had this to say: “We’re both looking forward to spending the second half of our lives together.” At 92, the man has more vim than I do at 34, already shriveled of face, aching of back, sagging of. . . all right, moving on.
→ Night cereal: It’s hard that food corporations have only three meals a day to shovel corn and vegetable oil down our gullets. To solve for this, they have invented a new meal: bedtime cereal. “Post Consumer Brands is looking to help make your sleep dreams come true with Sweet Dreams—the first ready-to-eat cereal designed to be part of a healthy sleep routine,” the marketing copy reads. At 10 p.m., when you are watching YouTube, slack-jawed and looking like the peak of sleep hygiene, you might as well complete the scene with some Sweet Dreams Honey Moonglow.
In what can only be described as a hate crime against millennial women, they call the night cereal “self-care.” From that same press release: “ ‘More than ever, consumers are looking to embrace acts of self-care, particularly as it relates to bedtime routines and we believe a relaxing bedtime routine is key to a good night’s sleep,’ said Logan Sohn, Senior Brand Manager.” The worst part is that I ordered some.
→ Jamaal Bowman for TikTok: Here we go. A rising star in the progressive caucus, Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York, has come out swinging in favor of social media giant TikTok, standing at a mic at a TikTok influencer rally and saying the following: “Republicans ain’t got no swag. That’s why they want to ban TikTok.” Fine, okay, yes, Jamaal is correct on the first point. But he also said: “Let’s not be racist toward China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok, because American companies have done tremendous harm to American people,” a point met with cheers. And: “Let’s not marginalize and target TikTok.” The whole thing, to Bowman, is a “red scare.”
Here we have the perfect example of how Chinese propaganda shows up in America. First, he calls any questioning of China “racist.” Right. Then, he points to the fact that America is bad too, with our companies causing “tremendous harm,” so we have no legs to stand on. Okay. And so, in conclusion: the Chinese government must be allowed to continue hacking our phones and minds undisturbed.
Here’s a quick summary from Politico of the main allegations against the app. Or, for an interesting read, here’s a Forbes piece about how India banned TikTok, but TikTok still has sensitive data on 150 million Indian users, data just about anyone at the company can access. An employee calls one of TikTok’s social mapping tools “NSA-To-Go.”
And if Jamaal thinks Republicans do not have “swag,” how exactly does he explain THIS.
→ TikTok CEO gets grilled: While progressives rallied, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled in Congress yesterday. Chew claimed that TikTok doesn’t give any data to the Chinese government, a statement that California Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo called “actually preposterous.”
Here was hearing leader and House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington State, in her opening statement: “It’s been said it is like allowing the Soviet Union the power to produce Saturday morning cartoons during the Cold War but much more powerful and much more dangerous.”
→ New end times prediction just dropped:
Wow. Interesting. And what do climate groups propose should be done? Simple! Consolidate all world power in the hands of climate activists. Here’s Europe’s major eco-group Extinction Rebellion explaining their demand: “Governments must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.”
It’s lame and bougie to talk about silly things like organizing for better air quality and clean water. It’s global revolution with a new all-world eco justice leadership board or bust!
→ Twitter gives a 💩: When you email Twitter’s comms team, all you get back is a poop emoji. Try it: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy for all of America’s little boys. Some more ideas: handing a whoopee cushion to everyone who walks into the building. Rock, paper, scissors to decide who the next Trust and Safety head is. Swirlies for shipping bad code.
→ Robin DiAngelo for segregation: The famous author of White Fragility has spent years arguing the case for racial segregation, but now people are starting to notice how creepy it is. Here’s this week’s installment from DiAngelo: “I’m a big believer in affinity space, in affinity work. I think people of color need to get away from white people and have some community with each other.” She’s asserting that it can be damaging for black people to be around white people all the time, especially during hard conversations. Reminder: DiAngelo is white. Imagine for a second that these exact words were said by a white conservative.
Anyway, Robin, just speaking Karen to Karen: if you’re gonna say things like that, you probably should give “people of color” a little space.
→ Florida parents uncomfortable with Michelangelo’s David: After complaints from three parents, a Florida charter school principal was pressured to resign and did. Her crime? She allowed Renaissance art to be taught. Specifically: Michelangelo’s David. Who’s not wearing his fig leaf, if you know what I mean.
From The Independent story on the incident: “Two of the three parents who complained about the Renaissance art lesson said they wished they’d been notified before it was taught. The third parent complained the lesson was pornographic.”
One irony: The school is called Tallahassee Classical School, and Renaissance art is required by law to be taught to sixth-graders.
The school board chair gave an interview about the matter to Slate. “We’re not going to show the full statue of David to kindergartners,” he said. “We’re not going to show him to second graders. Showing the entire statue of David is appropriate at some age. We’re going to figure out when that is.”
I’ll admit, Renaissance statues are sensual. All those hands pressed into marble flesh, so perfectly shown in the stone. Yes, Florida’s moms know that David is hot. . . way too hot for their children. And I get it, ladies! Early exposure to The Birth of Venus turned me gay.
And now, a brief cartoon intermission from TFP Cartoonist-in-Chief David Mamet:
→ South Korea has everything except children: South Korea is living in the future, with incredible technology, extraordinary wealth, shiny trains, and just about no children. The fertility rate is now 0.78, the lowest in the world, and a new record. Generally speaking, 2.1 children per woman is the number that maintains a steady population (i.e., if some women have three kids and most have two, then you’re good). Read this smart NPR story on the issue.
And this on the 4B movement in South Korea (the 4B movement refers to women refusing marriage and all the other trappings of heterosexuality), which goes deep into the strange dynamics over there.
→ Fauci’s uncomfortable stroll:
In this PBS documentary, Fauci goes around trying to convince people to get the shot, saying how very, very rare it is to get Covid if you’re vaccinated and how it’s basically not even Covid if you get it then. He’s met with resistance from many who know that’s not exactly true. It’s a little awkward. He should just tell the actual truth: the vax works pretty darn well and makes your inevitable infection milder. That’s good enough for me!
→ The left against housing: In Denver this week, the Democratic Socialists of America celebrated blocking any path for new housing to be built on a private golf course. Here’s the national DSA celebrating this win: “Affordable housing can’t be provided by the market. Reforms offered up by the state and developers that don’t include democratic control and redistribution of land are ultimately false promises that serve only to benefit capital.”
Odd because, as one commentator said: “It’s literally a democratic referendum on how to redistribute land.” Or as local publication Denverite put it: “Socialists and Republicans agree on something: both oppose developing the Park Hill Golf Course.”
Rich homeowners will always fight development, since supply would then meet demand and prices would fall (except for this rich homeowner, who wants to suffer! Build, baby, build! Turn central L.A. into Tokyo! YIMBY!).
But for the last decade at least, the block on new construction in cities has come from the American left, which is really against all new housing unless it is state-owned. That’s not an exaggeration; it’s just that simple. Here’s Denver’s DSA spokesperson Mary Imgrund speaking to Denverite about blocking housing on the golf course: “From a socialist perspective, it seems kind of naïve and silly that people are like, ‘The market got us into this crisis, and by God, the market’s gonna get us back out of it.’ ”
Just in the last few months: in New York, instead of a $700 million high-rise that would include a civil rights museum and hundreds of below-market-rate apartments in Upper Manhattan, they got. . . a truck depot, thanks to the valiant efforts of local councilwoman Kristin Richardson Jordan. Here’s Jordan on the scuttled condo plan: “I also do see it as imperialist. I have strong anti-imperialist views.” In San Francisco, some progressive nonprofit leaders gathered and blocked 57 units from being built on a parking lot. “We do not need any more tiny, expensive units,” said P.J. Eugenio of the South of Market Community Action Network.
I recommend reading this week’s entry in The Nation on how it cannot be legal for developers to build bedrooms without windows, something that would make converting offices into homes much easier. It’s headlined: “We cannot countenance windowless bedrooms: Sunlight is not an amenity; it’s a basic human necessity.”
The author, who runs a blog I love called McMansion Hell, is actually very sweet in her naivete: “I do believe that the city is for all of us, that we as residents and inhabitants deserve basic rights to shelter and that said shelter should be not only humane but also—hopefully after great political effort—beautiful and a joy to live in.” The American left wants no housing built anywhere in any city, and also, all our magic abundant housing must be full of joy and light. And ponies! Ponies, we can all agree, are beautiful, and having ponies is a human right. It’s maddening if you think too deeply, but charming to say over coffee. This is why socialists make such wonderful art teachers and such lovely college girlfriends.