Happy Friday. Some of you have written to me sharing your TGIF reading ritual. You seem to take this catalog of horrors and make it into a delightful Friday morning read, maybe in a certain café with a specific coffee, or as a back and forth with a husband, or, if you’re in San Francisco, your husband and his girlfriend. And I love that.
I also see that as free content for my purposes. So, tell me: How Do You TG? Email a line and/or a picture of the scene to TGIF@thefp.com. And next week I’ll feature my favorites. (I’m cribbing here from my friend Andrew Sullivan, who has his readers send him pictures of the view from their windows.)
Okay, let’s get to it.
→ A data leak shows Ukraine war going badly: The documents demonstrate just how much America is running the show; that U.S. and NATO troops are on the ground; and that the war is not going very well for Ukraine. The Pentagon doesn’t think the war will end in 2023. Also, the docs show that (shocker) America is spying on a lot of countries.
A great rundown of how these documents gurgled up through a gaming chat room can be found on my most trusted source, Wikipedia. And for a rundown of the findings, I turn to my other trusted source (I’m only half-kidding), the World Socialist Web Site. Or, fine, there’s The New York Times: The Pentagon has ID’ed and arrested the suspected leaker as Airman Jack Teixeira of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, whose motivations, at least right now, seem to be bragging rights among his friends (the leak is not wildly embarrassing to the U.S.).
Now, secret documents showing the U.S. government being a little shady about the state of a war might seem like great fodder for reporters. But instead, the response from old world media has been to collectively panic about the fact of a leak. Read The Washington Post’s official Editorial Board take:
The most damaging part of the leaked Ukraine documents is the leak itself. . . . If most of the documents are genuine, as they appear to be—with apparent alterations intended to exaggerate Ukrainian casualty estimates and minimize Russian ones—then U.S. authorities will urgently need to trace the leak’s provenance. The Justice Department has launched an investigation intended to do just that. The Biden administration will also be faced with some damage control.
Stop thinking about dying Ukrainians, stop thinking about what we’ve learned about the war from this breach. Let’s think of how hurtful this must have been to the Pentagon and how really unfair it is to ask Joe Biden to do damage control about the war when he’s already so busy all the time. Sincerely, The Washington Post. P.S.: New slogan is Democracy Also Dies in Light If It’s Too Bright.
→ Interesting data on our war spending: Thanks to Matt Stoller for pointing this out.
→ A family murdered in Israel: Last Friday, a Palestinian terrorist gunned down an Israeli family headed out for a family holiday. Sisters Rina (15 years old) and Maia (20 years old) were murdered. Their mother, Lucy, died from her injuries a few days later. I have nothing clever to say here, only sadness and awe at the way Rabbi Leo Dee and his three surviving children have handled this unspeakable tragedy. Lucy’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys were transplanted to five people.
→ A lot of tech workers were hired to do nothing: I’m not happy about anyone losing a job. But among the tens of thousands laid off from big tech companies, some people are coming out to admit that they did literally nothing at their jobs. I’m convinced that every big tech company is five really sweaty guys in a basement and then gleaming, open-plan offices of people like me: delightful humanities grads who have meetings about the best protein powder for our green smoothie (pea!) and the gender implications of unread messages being bold (masculine aggression). Every once in a while, one of the five tries to leave the basement and we quickly convene a series of meetings to get him fired.
Meanwhile, now that bosses are accustomed to all their mid-level remote employees who never come to the office, they’re realizing that the jobs can actually be super remote, like maybe in Bangladesh.
→ Abortion battles get thornier by the week: Trump-appointed judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Northern Texas this week suspended the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a pill that induces miscarriage early in a pregnancy (and that was approved by the FDA two decades ago). But minutes after the Texas ruling was publicized, Judge Thomas O. Rice in Washington State issued an opposite ruling forbidding the FDA from pulling mifepristone from the market. And then, late Wednesday night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the Texas judge’s ruling, allowing the drug to remain on the market—but under strict conditions. The Justice Department immediately confirmed they will ask the Supreme Court to weigh in, and the Court’s 6–3 conservative majority looks rough for mifepristone.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board, not exactly a liberal bastion, slammed Kacsmaryk’s ruling: “[P]laintiffs cherry-pick evidence on the drug’s safety and ask the judge to second-guess FDA judgments, which isn’t the role of the courts.” And Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement: “We will be seeking emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and protect Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care.”
All this chaos is a disaster for women, who are having to navigate constantly changing laws and terrified doctors, who err on the side of not getting involved. I just heard a story of a friend who was forced to travel for a medically necessary abortion, and it was a great tragedy compounded by having to be away from her home. Woe unto the woman who can’t afford a plane ticket and hotel and taxis and childcare.
If you’re a true believer who sees abortion at any stage as murder, then I get it, and I don’t fault someone in that camp. But a lot of pro-life talk is just loose rage at the idea that all these women aren’t having enough kids. If you’re a pragmatic conservative who actually wants to win another election, being a hardline pro-lifer is a shockingly bad strategy. There’s a great Unherd story on that topic this week. Me, I’m still just annoyed because shrapnel from this battle keeps hurting my favorite centrists (Rick Caruso, you’re the mayor of my heart!).
→ Don’t tell DeSantis: He’s going all in on a six-week abortion ban, which recently passed the Florida Senate and is making its way to his desk. Good luck with that one.
→ Florida, please get smarter book censors: This headline really just says it all: “Florida DOE releases list of approved books—misspelling 9th and 12th grade over 60 times.” No notes.
→ Trump crushing polls—and Haley rising! Trump is polling at 41 percent among Republicans to DeSantis’s 20 percent, according to a new poll from Winthrop University in South Carolina. And I doubt he’ll take as much of a hit on the abortion issue because no matter what Trump actually says about being pro-life, the vibe he gives off is someone who’s for sure paid for an abortion or ten, and that’s appealing to voters.
Nikki Haley, meanwhile, is polling at 18 percent. That’s pretty good for my Haley hive! I love to see a happy collection of neocons, neolibs, friends, and globalists who will eventually re-fragment back to being depressed Biden or Trump voters.
→ The Fox Dominion lawsuit keeps looking grimmer: The judge in the Fox News defamation case thinks the network has been withholding evidence. Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis said: “I am very concerned. . . that there have been misrepresentations to the court. This is very serious.” He may open things up so more witnesses can be called. Logan Roy, I’m looking at you.
→ Someone has kids in high school: Hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin donated $300 million to Harvard and got the whole Graduate School of Arts and Sciences renamed after him. The irony is that Griffin—a DeSantis supporter, a man who complained about wokeness in Chicago’s schools and moved to Miami—will now be propping up a factory that specializes in producing people who hate him. There’s nothing a father won’t do for his descendants, and TGIF would like to be the first to congratulate Kenneth C. Griffin’s children, his unborn grandchildren, and their children on their acceptance to Harvard, presumably to study restorative justice. I cannot wait for their dissertations on how terrible their father is and also how racist it is that the school frozen yogurt machine has only two flavors.
And now, an interlude from Free Press resident cartoonist David Mamet. . .
→ 30,000 spots empty in NYC pre-K: No one can figure out why parents don’t want to send their kids to free preschool in New York. After the city expanded pre-K for all and advanced a huge campaign to get parents interested, 30,000 seats remain empty. The Times article about it basically argues that the problem is the city needs to spend more money on outreach, and maybe some parents are scared of immigration enforcement. This doesn’t quite add up for me as the full explanation. Do any TGIF readers know what’s actually going on?
→ Two skirmishes in the gender wars: First, swimmer Riley Gaines, who had to compete against transwoman Lia Thomas (who was a mediocre male swimmer and then an outstanding female swimmer), has become an activist for women’s sports. When she spoke at San Francisco State University, the rage and violence she faced was disturbing.
People really don’t like letting biological women do things just among each other.
Now, the other news in this general area is that some are outraged about a young transwoman named Dylan Mulvaney, who has sponsorships with Nike and Bud Light, and is generally hamming it up to much acclaim. Kid Rock shot a bunch of Bud Light to protest. People are burning their Nike sports bras. On Dylan, I’m with Howard Stern, who this week said of the outrage: “I thought there must be a piece of the story that I’m missing.” Dylan’s just out there having fun. If the Bud Light ad doesn’t work for you, okay. Buy Coors tonight. Don’t let the radicalism of the movement radicalize you in return. Keep your bras on, ladies.
→ Dalai Lama put on my watch list: The Dalai Lama was caught on camera this week asking a prepubescent boy to “suck my tongue.” (He’s since apologized.) Now, at first I thought: maybe this is cultural? But I am learning that it is indeed not cultural. So a dark alternative explanation: maybe he’s been doing this in private a lot but now is 87 years old and just accidentally did it publicly this week. Lotta pedos out there, guys.
When I shared this theory with my beloved wife, she called me “literally Pizzagate,” which seems a little déclassé. All I’m saying is the Dalai Lama seemed really comfortable asking that kid to suck his tongue and that we need the Free Press budget to include armed guards who immediately shoot anyone who talks to our daughter. And the vapor that comes out of the back of planes does seem to evaporate a little too quickly. And. . .
→ What to make of Elon: This week, Elon Musk fell out with the two remaining Twitter Files reporters—Matt Taibbi and (my favorite) Michael Shellenberger. How do I know this? Oh, because Musk posted screenshots of his texts with Taibbi and then unfollowed them both. Also this week, Musk successfully covered up part of the massive TWITTER sign that displays outside the company’s downtown headquarters, so now it reads TITTER. Yes, he painted over the W so that you can drive past and see the word TIT. Meanwhile, Twitter added a label to NPR’s account calling it “state-affiliated media,” which honestly I sort of love but is trollish, and NPR has now up and quit the platform.
The amount of drama one man generates is truly Kardashian at this point, minus the sex tape, and I don’t consider us in the clear on that.
→ A golden age for doing crimes: This I saw thanks to Zaid Jalani. With a one percent arrest rate for thefts over $500, are we all fools for not going to Chicago and stealing some watches? If you’re paying for earrings in Chicago, you’re a mark.
→ Professor cooked his data to make it seem like America is more racist than it is: A prominent professor has lost his job after apparently faking the results in at least six studies about race in America. A fellow of the American Society of Criminology, Eric Stewart made a name for himself with research showing just how racist Americans are. One study “showed” that as black and Hispanic communities grew, the white people around them wanted more discriminatory sentencing. But it turns out his data was all fake. And then everyone around Stewart worked to hide that fact.
The revelation came from one of his own coauthors, Professor Justin Pickett, who published a deep-dive skeptical review of Stewart’s work in 2020, writing: “The findings suggest that the five articles were likely fraudulent” and “several coauthors acted with negligence bordering on complicity after learning about the data irregularities.”