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AOC not being arrested. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images)

TGIF: Prince Harry, Dave Chappelle, and AOC

Plus: Communists make the best pizza.

Welcome back to another Friday. We’ve got all the headlines we’re talking about this week, in group chats I need to learn to mute. See you in the comments. 

→ Biden got Covid: And yet, at 79-years old, this is the least of his concerns. Biden’s approval has dropped to a new new low: about 37% of Americans like how he’s running the place. A lot of the people polled say they are worried about his age. And something’s changed in the media coverage and I don’t think it’s just me. The drum beat is starting: maybe Biden should go. Those beating the drum are hoping, no doubt, for a new Democrat in charge who will pack the courts and keep the money hose turned on. 

The parlor game everyone I know is playing: Which Democrat could possibly run in his stead? Kamala Harris is right there with Biden. And the cost of a photo with her drops faster than the value of my crypto investments (just kidding I sold my bitcoin at the top). 

Gas prices are dropping a lot this week thankfully, so that ought to help Biden’s numbers a bit, though one weird thing he’s doing is selling off our strategic oil reserves in the middle of all this. Inflation still plagues him and rightly so. The effects of it are everywhere: This week, New York’s iconic Central Park boathouse announced imminent closure, citing impossible costs of labor and goods. The boathouse will close in the coming months and 163 people will be out of work. 

→ House passes same-sex marriage and birth-control access bills: Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to rely on the Supreme Court to guarantee core issues on the progressive agenda, namely gay marriage, abortion and contraception. That’s one of the lessons learned in the wake of Roe being overturned. 

 So the time is right to get these issues on better footing, especially given that they have the support of the majority of Americans. Some 71% of Americans think gay marriage should be legal. Condoms and the pill? About 90% of Americans think they ought to be legal. That’s why this week, Dems put gay marriage and contraception up for votes. First the House passed a marriage rights bill (with 47 House Republicans coming on board, there could be a surprising path to success in the Senate). Then it passed a birth control access bill (with only eight Republicans joining in, the majority fearing that it could be used to legalize abortion or to persecute religious pharmacists, etc). 

Leaders on the right are now calling for the Senate to vote against the gay marriage bill. The logic, though, is nutty. The National Review this week argues both that gay marriage absolutely should be abolished and then, a few lines later, says that I shouldn’t worry one bit about gay marriage being abolished and the only reason people want to pass this bill is to “demoralize social conservatives” and “to cast the opponents of same-sex marriage as a dwindling band of bigots.” 

It’s not just the National Review. Ted Cruz said gay marriage should be overturned but also that it’s not going to happen. Ohio’s Jim Jordan, speaking against the gay marriage bill this week, said something similar about how Republicans should vote no on gay marriage because no one needs to worry about gay marriage.

I’m sorry, wasn’t this the same argument used about Roe? That we didn’t need to worry about it because it’s settled law? 

→ The midterms might be tight: A new national poll has Democrats +7 over Republicans if a congressional election were held today. Dems have been effectively highlighting the more irrational elements of the right. And the Jan. 6 hearings seem to be taking a toll (the latest is video showing Josh Hawley sprinting out of the capitol and the Secret Service “missing” their texts from that day). Another poll that focused just on battleground house districts, however, points to a GOP wave, led by concerns over the economy and eroding support for Dems among Hispanic and Asian American voters.

→ Prince, please, this is not your country: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, the Prince turned celebrity, has decided it is his new job to be America’s top woke-scold, weighing in on various topics when he sees fit to leave Montecito. The latest: He was invited to the UN (?!) and spoke about U.S. abortion law (!?!?) “The rolling back of Constitutional rights here in the United States" is part of a “global assault on democracy and freedom”? Who is this guy? Why exactly is he getting a stage anywhere at all? He is not the monarch of any country, but least of all ours. 

→ America is too fat to fight: The Army is projecting that they’ll miss their recruiting goals by nearly 40,000 over the next two years. The challenges? Low unemployment means people have better options. Maybe also: The touchy feely Gen Z-oriented ad campaign seems to have backfired. But the big problem according to the NYT: “In recent years, the Pentagon has found that about 76% of adults ages 17-24 are either too obese to qualify or have other medical issues or criminal histories that would make them ineligible to serve without a waiver.” We all got too fat. 

→ Wait, New Yorkers, I thought you wanted an open border? After asylum seekers from Arizona and Texas started showing up on buses in Washington, D.C., and New York City, our very welcoming friends on the east coast began freaking out. Here I thought we all agreed on an open border! And I’m pretty sure the consensus was that all complaints from southern states about a strained social safety net and the need for federal help were just that old Texas racism. Now, NYC mayor Eric Adams, citing the strain on the social safety net, has this to say: “We urgently need federal support.” The D.C. mayor’s Muriel Bowser also wants the federal government involved. “We have called on the federal government to work across state lines to prevent people from really being tricked into getting on buses.” 

→ Starbucks CEO says the safety-related closures are “just the beginning:” Starbucks bathrooms started their open bathroom policy in 2018 after accusations of racism (a Philadelphia store manager called the cops on two black men who hadn’t ordered anything). Once you didn’t have to buy a coffee to pop a squat, Starbucks bathrooms across America became de facto showers for the homeless, as well as private spaces to shoot up. This was a good deal for city leaders: They didn’t have to build or maintain any of this great bathroom infrastructure. All that work fell onto a highly trained group of people, a group who definitely signed up for that job: baristas.  

In leaked video from an internal meeting, CEO Howard Schultz said he was shocked to learn that “one of the primary concerns that our retail partners [baristas] have is their own personal safety.” And: “In my view, at the local, state, and federal level, these governments across the country and leaders—mayors, governors, and city councils—have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness.” 

The cynical take would be that the reason these shops are closing is that Starbucks wants to cut down places that might unionize. More likely: the locations that might unionize are in rich uber-progressive areas (Portland and L.A.) where homelessness is pervasive and efforts to intervene are considered verboten, even when someone is, let’s say, out of their mind high and screaming in your coffee shop. 

One chain that probably is union-busting: Up in Maine, Chipotle is closing the first restaurant that’s unionized. The burrito-bowl chain is citing labor issues. That seems a little more suspicious. 

→ Speaking of crime: The bodega worker is freed. After public outcry led by New York City’s great tabloids, the bodega worker who defended himself against an attacker was freed from Rikers, and his murder charge rightly dropped. Manhattan’s ultra progressive district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who initially set bail for the bodega worker at $500,000, has been chastened by the public and the mayor. Good. The city’s last mayor would probably have been leading a BLM protest outside the bodega, posting a lot of 👏 self-defense 👏 is 👏 not 👏 ok 👏. 

Meanwhile, Bill de Blasio, my favorite Sandanista, dropped out of his campaign for Congress in New York after polling at 3% in his district. Pleasantly surprised. 

→ Nice summary of what that bodega worker deals with: From the tabloid that probably got him free. 

 

→ NYC schools hemorrhaging students: Our last New York City item is that the city’s public schools are losing a huge number of students. The Dept of Education is projecting 30,000 fewer students next year. “We have a massive hemorrhaging of students—massive hemorrhaging," New York’s mayor said. Already, more than 120,000 students have left over the last five years.

One idea for a fix: Schools could pivot from seven hours of antiracism training to instead incorporate a few minutes each day on subjects like Reading and Math. But seriously, it’s not all bad news. Getting into the elite Stuyvesant High School is easier by the day. 

→ Maybe the family who was shot at is the victim here? Protestors gathered to express their rage that police shot Andrew “Tekle” Sundberg, a black man who was shooting into his neighbors apartment where Arabella Yarbrough and her children live, leaving bullet holes in their kitchen. As Yarbrough stands outside trying to get the crowd to disperse, protestors scream at her: “You’re alive, shut up!” When she says, “there’s bullet holes in my kitchen,” a protester shouts back: “Not in you, though!” 

I can’t do this one justice. Watch this remarkable video:

→ Sometimes a headline is too perfect: A classic left-wing magazine called CounterPunch brings us one of the finest takes of the week. 

→ Sometimes it takes two headlines: h/t Cabot Phillips

 

→ We need to help our communist bakeries: Another week and another funny investigative report from Libs of TikTok, this time about a Portland lesbian bar, Doc Marie’s, that closed a week after opening. Why? The employees canceled the owners of course! Doc Marie’s staff “felt misled about the space being safe and welcoming,” and demanded that the bar be turned over to them within 24 hours. 

Earlier this month, it was Mina’s World in Philadelphia, now this. Perhaps Libs of TikTok thinks this is all good riddance. For me, this is yet another tragedy! It is simply the truth in blue states that socialists make the best baked goods and open the best gay bars, and I desperately need those socialists to be getting along among themselves. It’s a delicate balance: They do need to be crazy enough to nurture and name sourdough starters, but then we have to stop them right before they collapse into self-hate and Instagram posts declaring harm has been done. Please send a thought to their god (tarot cards) for balance to return. 

(And if you crave more about these tempests, you’re in luck: Our friends at Blocked and Reported have episodes on both Mina’s World meltdown and Doc Marie’s.)

→ Virile be-penised individual causing predictable outcome in women’s prison: A trans woman, Demi Minor, with working male reproductive parts requested to be transferred to a New Jersey women’s prison. And what do you know, two imprisoned women are now pregnant by Minor, who has been transferred out

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