Demi Lovato at Jimmy Kimmel Live on July 14, 2022. (RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

TGIF: They/Them/She/Her

Nancy Pelosi goes to Taiwan. Demi Lovato becomes a woman again. And your trusty correspondent prepares to become a birthing person.

We’ll get to the news of the week. But first, news from your narrator: I’m some 35 weeks pregnant at this very moment. Pretty soon, I’ll be taking a month or so off to meet this new soul. In my stead will be a rotating cast of brilliant TGIF guest hosts to skewer the news. Bari, my wife and the person running this whole operation, will take some time off too (a few hours at least). We’re so excited to start our family. I cannot wait to be able to begin political rants with: “As a mom, I do think…” and to say things like, “My most important job title is ‘mom’ but yes I am also the CFO of Lockheed Martin, what was your question again?”

Here’s me in the flesh. I look sweet, but TGIF readers know My Truth.

Enough about me. We know what we’re here to do.

→ Funny how that famous terrorist was just hanging out in Afghanistan: 9/11 key plotter and Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was finally killed, 20 years after the Twin Towers came down. The big “surprise” here is that he was found in Afghanistan, where it seems the old gang is getting back together. It’s so crazy because I read a Taliban leader’s lovely essay in The New York TimesWhat We, the Taliban, Want—and there he told me they only want peace and harmony, so it was great for us to help them flourish again. The author promised us in the essay: “I am confident that, liberated from foreign domination and interference, we together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work.” Now it’s all women banned from schools and old 9/11 terrorists back having house parties. We at TGIF can’t believe the Taliban lied.

→ Pelosi goes abroad: Everyone seems upset about Nancy Pelosi going to Taiwan. The Biden admin was against it, and so were Donald Trump and Mitt Romney. Personally, I love to see Nance popping over in a pink suit and a string of pearls stirring up a little drama, angering China. 

In two related items: Some users are reporting that TikTok, the app more or less openly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which now has a grip on tens of millions of American kids, is only showing negative news about Pelosi’s trip. And in news that relates in my mind, new stats dropped about long Covid: 2.4% of America’s working population is out of the workforce thanks to Covid’s long term damage to their bodies, or about four million full-time U.S. workers, according to data analyzed by the Brookings Institution. The Washington Post Editorial Board has a great op-ed on how China has worked to hide the origins and how important it is to find out what happened: “Six million died. We still don’t know how the pandemic began.”

→ Don’t say “recession:” Nothing is creepier then Big Tech’s obsessive control over the word recession, a saga which continues from last week. Wikipedia is keeping the recession entry with the new Biden-approved definition locked for edits. In George Orwell’s 1984, at least our main character had to work slicing and dicing archives to fit his moment. There could be mistakes. Not so much anymore. As for me? I define recession as . . . THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS DOING A GOOD JOB WITH THE ECONOMY. THERE IS TECHNICALLY NO AGREED-UPON DEFINITION OF RECESSION. GAS IS VERY CHEAP. 

→ Crime? Recession? The rise of teen girls identifying as trans? These are all in your mind: You might perceive changes happening around you. But your eyes are lying, as the media tells us in three different ways this week. 

First, on crime. A new analysis by Bloomberg shows that sure, yes, crime is up, but stories about crime are up even more. Don’t journalists know they are only allowed to write one story per murder? As Bloomberg explains: “Perhaps nowhere has the perception of rampant crime overpowered the reality more than in New York City, where the murder rate has certainly increased in recent years but is nowhere near where it was in the 1980s and 1990s.” Yes more people are being murdered, but it’s not as bad as the peak of murders. Or from a Washington Post piece about Starbucks closing in D.C.’s Union Station: “A rise in high-profile incidents in and around the hub has boosted a perception of insecurity.” I for one hate when my perception harrasses me when I’m trying to buy coffee. 

As for that recession? Your bad thoughts are causing that too, says an opinion writer for the New York Times this week. “Right now, with worsening data, many people’s expectations have come together to expect a recession. And those expectations could very well lead to one.” If we are in a recession, it’s your fault for not believing in Biden hard enough. 

And finally: The American Academy of Pediatrics has a new paper out saying no, of course the number of young women transitioning has always been this high. How did they prove that? Comparing the years 2019 with 2017, which is when time began. The author is a hardcore activist with a prolific Twitter account who holds a position as an incoming Assistant Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at UCSF. 

→ Trump is still our funniest politician: With Al Franken long-canceled, I’m sorry to say but Donald Trump is our funniest politician by far. This week, two candidates—Eric Schmitt and Eric Greitens—ran in the Republican primary for one senate seat in Missouri. They both wanted that Trump endorsement. Who would he pick? Well, Trump endorsed Eric. Yes, Eric. The former president writes: “I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Both immediately claimed the endorsement. One Eric was “honored,” the other Eric was “grateful.” Both were Eric. 

→ Alex Jones faces well-deserved humiliation: Alex Jones, the barrel-chested bully, spent a long time claiming on his extraordinarily popular and lucrative show that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax (this was the one where a gunman shot and killed 26 people in a school, most of them between six and seven years old). Jones argued that the small children and their parents were crisis actors and that the whole thing was concocted to take America’s guns away. This week Jones has been on trial in Texas for defamation in a case brought by the parents of one six-year-old boy, Jesse, who was killed in that shooting. These parents are still being harassed by Jones’s followers. Some have had to move homes half a dozen times

Jesse’s mom, Scarlett Lewis, spoke to Alex Jones at the trial: “Jesse was real. I am a real mom,” she said. “My son existed. I am not deep state . . .  I know you know that . . . And yet you’re going to leave this courthouse and say it again on your show.” On Thursday, the jury decided Jones had to pay Jesse’s parents $4.11 million dollars in compensatory damages. Good. I think it could have been closer to the $150 million they were asking for. Jones faces a similar case in Connecticut

→ Gender is back, theyby! The pop star Demi Lovato “came out” last year, announcing they were not a woman. Lovato was nonbinary. Lovato would be going by they/them pronouns. If you had mistaken those pronouns, let slip an errant she, you’d have been a horrible transphobic monster and would have to seek shelter at J.K. Rowling’s pad. This week, Lovato is a she again. “Recently, I've been feeling more feminine,” the pop star announced. Lovato is re-integrating she/her pronouns but will also accept they/them. Two international news cycles for this. CNN reporting on it with a breaking news banner.

Now, I remember the early days of they/them in college back when it was cool and no one had heard of the band. And I think people playing around with neopronouns or whatever in their pronoun-focused communities is a great hobby for people in need of activities. But my they/zie/birds, we live in a society. We have to communicate. 

Last note on this: For anyone who says identities like “being nonbinary” are fixed rock solid, and no one ever changes their sense of gender, well, clearly that’s just not true. If you want to read more about detransitioners, an interesting place to start is the detransition Subreddit (warning, it’s not easy to tell which are real, so take it all with a grain of salt). 

→ Shaun King used donor funds to buy a $40k dog: As the biological mother of two deranged shelter dogs, I actually didn’t know that you could spend $40,000 on a dog. But the Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King reportedly did just that, buying a very well-bred mastiff using donated money. Apparently rattled by the coverage, King defended the purchase and then took to social media to call for his followers to help him stalk two reporters who have covered his finances: “This is Kevin Sheehan of the @NYPost. ⁣He has been attacking me and my family. Send me photos of his home. Send me photos of him. ⁣And his family.”  And of Isabel Vincent, he wrote: “The amount of pain this woman caused my family is incalculable. Send me details and photos. Of her. And her home.” The key for King and others in the movement who’ve used money in sketchy ways is to terrify reporters away from covering it. Many are already too scared of their colleagues’ rage to look into BLM finances. But for anyone willing to get past that, King adds a little extra risk: He’ll make sure you’re physically unsafe that night. 

→ What am I supposed to do with this Ukrainian flag then? U.S. officials are starting to grumble about Ukraine and possible corruption. After months of having Americans bake Ukraine flag cupcakes and fly Ukraine’s colors outside our houses, there’s a bit of hedging going on now. The government seems to be soft-rolling it, like in this Thomas Friedman piece: “Privately, U.S. officials are a lot more concerned about Ukraine’s leadership than they are letting on. There is deep mistrust between the White House and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine—considerably more than has been reported.” This is, after all, a former Soviet republic full of rent seekers and minigarchs, and you don’t become president without fraternizing with those people, and those people, well, they don’t just go away once you’re in power, and all the Vogue covers in the world can’t whitewash that.

→ The head of Goldman Sachs performs again at Lollapalooza: All I want is a youth rebellion that doesn’t immediately slap a Shell logo on its back. But that’s not the era we’ve been given. Instead, we have the CEO of Goldman Sachs DJing at a major music festival remixing “We Are the Champions.” Great.  

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