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FOR FREE PEOPLE

Elon Musk carries a sink as he enters the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. (Twitter via Getty Images)

TGIF: Let This Sink In Edition

Elon becomes king of the Twitterverse. Progressives double back Ukraine. Sacheen Littlefeather was a fraud. Plus: Kanye, John Fetterman and much more.

Welcome to the week, reviewed. The baby’s in the backyard learning self-sufficiency.

→ On Common Sense this week: Richard Reeves wrote about the boys feminism left behind and how to help them. Dr. Vinay Prasad argued that adding the Covid shot to the CDC’s recommended childhood vaccination schedule would lower vaccination rates in general. London Breed apologized for acknowledging that San Francisco's drug dealers are sophisticated Honduran cartel operatives. And Peter Savodnik summed up the media coverup of John Fetterman’s health. On Honestly, Kmele Foster hosted a debate between Rafael Mangual and Lara Bazelon on a subject all Americans pretty much agree on I think: criminal justice reform. 

→ Let that sink in: When Elon Musk marched into Twitter on Wednesday to claim his new toy (the company, which he is officially buying today), he entered the building carrying a porcelain sink. Why? To make the joke: Let that sink in! A taunt to his detractors. Let it sink in that I own your favorite place. Let it sink in that Donald Trump is coming back to Twitter. Let it sink in that you’re not in charge anymore. Elon may be a madman—and none of us really know what he plans to do with Twitter—but he is the funniest CEO in America and his billionaire-level trolling is honestly inspirational to low-level trolls like me. 

After Musk floated that he planned to fire 75% of the company, a group of Twitter employees put out an open letter of demands, a draft of which was shared with Time magazine. Like most well-paid white collar employees with Michelin-starred meal plans and nap pods, they called themselves the workers. “We, the undersigned Twitter workers,” the letter begins. Among their demands is that no one be fired. “We demand leadership to  respect the platform and the workers who maintain it by committing to preserving the current headcount.” Honestly, these stock-option Marxists? They are also inspirational to me. 

It didn’t help. Thursday night, Twitter in Musk’s control, the CEO was out. So was the CFO. And so was Vijaya Gadde, the policy chief who led censorship efforts that the company became notorious for, including kicking Trump off. As Musk put it late Thursday night: “The bird is freed.”

Meanwhile, Kanye West this week is settling in as the new owner of the right-wing social media platform Parler, where everyone can just ask some unpopular questions about the Jews ok. And the left is now pushing the progressive Twitter alt called Tribel, which will absolutely not implode in the cancellation of every single person who touches it.

In other tech news, Facebook’s parent company stock is tanking (revenue is going down, but Zuckerberg is so convinced of virtual reality’s success that he’s plowing more into it). And Americans are increasingly getting their news from TikTok, happily owned by a hostile foreign power. Imagine telling your 2019 self: Kanye owns Parler, Elon owns Twitter, and a company called ByteDance owns your kids.

→ How dare you need your politician to talk: This week, John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz debated in the race for Pennsylvania Senate, and it was extremely sad to watch. Fetterman was clearly suffering from his stroke, and what’s unclear to an observer is whether the issue is just in his auditory processing or in his processing processing. His campaign quickly blamed the closed captioning system, saying it was “filled with errors,” but the company who handled that said it suffered no errors at all. Later, Fetterman acknowledged that the debate “wasn’t exactly easy.” Read our piece on how the media played defense. The main thread that emerged: It is ableist to notice Fetterman’s inability to hold a conversation. 

A New York Magazine writer on MSNBC: “There is such intense scrutiny, often ableist scrutiny, on how he was going to communicate.”

In the Atlantic: “Tonight’s hour-long exchange was, in some ways, a Rorschach test of comfort with disability.” (This one sounds like a drunk uncle defending himself at dinner.)

The New York Times: “Doctors and disability rights advocates said John Fetterman’s debate appearance was inspiring for many disabled people and that his halting speech didn’t reflect any cognitive impairment.” I’m sorry: how do you know that?

When friend of TGIF, the writer Olivia Nuzzi said the debate was “painful” to watch (the poor guy started the debate by wishing everyone “good night”), she got a response from the Washington Post’s disability reporter who was working on a story. You see, someone suffering from the after-effects of a stroke, standing on stage and struggling to string a sentence together while competing against a slick TV doctor is not painful to watch. You cannot note the problem. You cannot have empathy for the man. You can just nod and say good, he did so good. 

→ A public shaming in China: This week in China was an incredible example of a public defenestration, or at least the most painful public ghosting ever. Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao was allowed to walk in and take his seat next to President Xi Jinping, then, once all media was assembled, he was asked to stand up and was escorted out. Watch as the confused leader realizes his downfall: 

We’re lucky to not have to live in this kind of authoritarian state. 

→ Actually, wait a second: It turns out China is operating secret police stations across five continents. Want to leave the Communist Party, blow the whistle on something you saw, and find safety in Europe? Or want to be a vocal, dissident student at a European university? Good luck with that.  

→ Progressives flip flop on Ukraine: A group of congressional progressives this week issued a letter to Biden urging him to end the war in Ukraine through diplomacy and a new European security arrangement. “We urge you to make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, engage in direct talks with Russia, explore prospects for a new European security arrangement acceptable to all parties,” the caucus wrote. Then things got awkward. Amid a backlash, they threw their staffers under the bus (it was sent out by staff without final vetting). And then officially retracted it. Which intern mixed up the ceasefire memo with the no-fly zone one again? This person surely does not deserve the GW credits. 

In other news, Russia is gathering up Ukrainian children and giving them to Russian families in forced adoptions.

→ Sign of the times: This fascinating campaign video for Oregon’s Christine Drazan, who is looking like she might be the state’s first Republican governor in 35 years.

→ But seriously WTF is going on in New York’s subways: This year so far, at least 25 people have been pushed into the New York City subway tracks, and two of those shoves were fatal. I used to think they were just aiming for petite people in vulnerable spots close to the edge, but the latest, a father of three, is a normal-sized man being body slammed into the tracks. I don’t stand a chance out there. 

→ Trump continues to be Trump: Hold onto your pussy hats because this week Trump said something nuts. Remember how a Supreme Court draft opinion about the fall of Roe v. Wade leaked to reporters at Politico? Trump said law enforcement ought to threaten those reporters with jail time and rape until they give up their source. “You know how you find the leaker? You take the writer and or the publisher of the paper. And you say, ‘Who is the leaker?’ And they say, ‘We're not going to tell you.’ You say, ‘That's ok, you're going to jail.’ And when this person realizes that he is going to be the bride of another person very shortly, he will say, ‘I’d very much like to tell you exactly who that leaker is, it was Bill Jones, I swear he’s the leaker.’ But they don’t want to do that, they don’t want to do that.” 

As usual this is one of those moments where it’s like, is he joking or is he seriously demanding that police arrest these reporters? I actually think it’s both, which is the worst option. 

→ Don’t bring G-d into RINO discourse: There was a lovely, classic prayer at a Eric Trump and Michael Flynn rally this week. It went like this: “God, open the eyes of President Trump’s understanding, that he will know how to implement divine intervention. And you will not surround him with RINO trash . . . in the name of Jesus.” You know, I think I’ve seen that one sewn onto pillows. 

→ Hillary Clinton goes hard on BlueAnon: Never one to be silent (or silenced), Clinton this week came out swinging for BlueAnon, i.e.: the conspiracy theory that Republicans stole 2016 and will steal more elections. “Right wing extremists already have a plan to literally steal the next presidential election,” she said

→ Kanye’s implosion all but complete: This week, Kanye was finally dropped by Adidas. He then showed up unannounced at the Skechers HQ and had to be escorted off the property. It’s a really sad situation of someone spinning out of control, likely in a manic state, obsessed with spewing antisemitism even as it destroys his life. But it doesn’t look entirely like a random manic moment—Kanye had apparently wanted to name one of his earlier albums Hitler. A production studio that had just completed a Kanye documentary released a statement about shelving the project, and in it they wrote beautifully about what Kanye was doing right now:

Kanye is a producer and sampler of music. Last week he sampled and remixed a classic tune that has charted for over 3000 years—the lie that Jews are evil and conspire to control the world for their own gain. This song was performed acapella in the time of the Pharaohs, Babylon and Rome, went acoustic with The Spanish Inquisition and Russia’s Pale of Settlement, and Hitler took the song electric. Kanye has now helped mainstream it in the modern era.

We’ve got several fans of Kanye’s music on staff here at Common Sense, and there’s been an ongoing discussion about separating the art from the artist. Those interested in that question should listen to Eli Lake’s excellent podcast episode on this.

→ Rishi Sunak, a Hindu, becomes Britain’s new prime minister: It’s pretty great to see someone whose family came from a former British colony now become the head of state (actually that’s Charles III, but I refuse to learn more about British political structure, beyond obviously ordering Harry’s new memoir, whose title was announced Thursday . . . it’s called Spare). Because Sunak is a Tory, it’s still being considered a win for white supremacy since he is “a racial minority who is happy to enable white majoritarianism,” according to Al Jazeera. I’m thrilled for Sunak not because of his Indian heritage but because of his California one—he’s a Stanford bro— and I hope his reign outlasts all recently harvested iceberg lettuce. Also: It’s amazing to see scenes like a Tory MP this week casually saying Inshallah (one hopes in Arabic). 

→ Native American is a state of mind: The woman known as Sacheen Littlefeather, the woman who famously accepted an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando for his role in “The Godfather,” made up her Native American status, according to her own sisters. The quotes are brutal: “It was more prestigious to be an American Indian than it was to be Hispanic in her mind,” said one of her sisters. Littlefeather appears to be the latest in a long line of those faking Native American heritage (our friend Nick Gillespie’s piece on the greatest hit “Fake Indians” here). I was wondering why this news wasn’t bigger, and I texted my friend about it. “Too big to fail,” she explained. And it’s true. 

As one Indigenous writer put it: “Even if Sacheen wasn’t born Native, her activism for Native Americans – and the Apache and Yaqui nations claiming her *validates* her.” I…but…ok fine. 

→ Corruption at Stacey Abrams campaign: It looks like the buzzy voting rights nonprofit Fair Fight, founded by Stacey Abrams, is spending its donors’ money in highly questionable ways. This week a very impressive investigation from Brittany Gibson at Politico found that the nonprofit has spent about $25 million mostly on one legal case (very odd) and is paying above average legal fees (also odd) and the lawyer is one of Abrams’ college and then law school buddies (you get the picture). 

So that’s Stacey Abrams’s nonprofit. What about her Fair Fight PAC, which lobbies for voting rights? The director of that PAC, Andre Fields, paid his sister (a basketball coach) $120,000 for “consulting services.”

No one start digging around our fine newsletter finances. I had to pay a friend a couple hundred K to consult for us just for this item but I swear there’s no one who understands basketball like her.  


Make it stop:


→ There is no Antifa: A Fact Check by Newsweek’s Fact Check Team found a Ted Cruz statement FALSE. Cruz had gone on The View and referenced Antifa riots and cities burning. False! There is no Antifa, Newsweek checkers checked. Here’s Newsweek: “Labeling the protests as ‘antifa riots’ is misleading as there is no organization or group known as such.” Funny because here’s Newsweek in 2021: “Antifa activists vow to keep fighting.”

→ Media has become significantly more negative: According to a new analysis from some New Zealand researchers, the American media has become angrier, more fearful, and less joyful. Some pretty stark charts below. 

I like to think what I’m bringing you is in the joy category, though I will happily settle for neutral-disgust. 

→ California is poised to become the world’s fourth largest economy: We’re right about to overtake Germany, according to Bloomberg news. It’s unfortunate but true: Western Europe is a museum. I rag on my home state every week but only because I think it’s the most interesting slice of land on Earth right now. And if all these money and smarts can’t make a liveable place, then what can? No matter, the important thing is to cinch our domination. 

Germany is number four. We’re about to beat them, but our tech stocks falling doesn’t help. And so my message to Elon Musk is simple. Grow Twitter. Grow it so big that we beat Germany. Grow it so big that you buy the rest of America. And we pay our taxes by figuring out your meme riddles.

I got carried away. See you in the comments. 

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