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TGIF: This Week in Foot-Shooting

Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Congress, Bill Gates, and Lufthansa.

Pro-choice activists in Boston on May 7, 2022. (Erin Clark via Getty Images)

Welcome back to TGIF. We’re here with the news of the week—and the week with Common Sense. Let’s get into it.

→ Economic news is just plain ugly: The Dow is down more than 12% since the start of the year, and the S&P by 17%. Tech stocks in particular have taken a huge hit. Nasdaq is down 27%. One-time stars like Netflix, Zoom and Peloton are a disaster. The startup world is looking like it’ll be in for a bloodbath. 

And inflation is still rising: 8.3% from a year ago. (Yes, including core inflation, which is now up 7%.) Worker earnings are down 2.6%. 

Here’s a sample of where prices stand from a year ago:

  • Gas: +44%

  • Used cars: +23%

  • Hotels: +23%

  • Bacon: +18%

  • Oranges: +17%

Meantime, the White House continues to push for massive new spending plans, like abolishing student debt. Here’s a smart Bloomberg story on vulnerable Democratic candidates trying to find a way to message this mess ahead of the midterms. The downturn has become impossible to ignore any longer. 

→ Crypto in deep trouble: If people thought the crypto markets would operate independently from equity markets, that appears to have been wrong. Various cryptocurrencies (Ethereum and Bitcoin) have plummeted, though the peak for those two was so high that they are still above where they were at the start of 2021.

Coinbase, however, looks like it’s in real trouble. Its stock has dropped 77% in a year and the company said it could absorb their users’ investments in the case of bankruptcy. “In the event of a bankruptcy, the crypto assets we hold in custody on behalf of our customers could be subject to bankruptcy proceedings, and such customers could be treated as our general unsecured creditors,” the company said, with the CEO later adding that there was “no risk of bankruptcy.” Comforting. 

→ An abortion law fails as it was designed to: Democrats—who, as a reminder, control the House, the Senate and the White House—tried and failed to pass a bill that would have allowed abortion for any health reason (phrased ambiguously enough that it could be for mental health) through all nine months of pregnancy. No surprise, not a single Republican signed on. But it didn’t even get every Democrat. Yet despite garnering only 49 votes, Elizabeth Warren claimed the bill had majority support and called into question our democracy: “I believe in democracy. I don’t believe the minority should have the ability to block things that the majority wants to do.” So now the Dems can say, ‘Well, we tried!’ But did they really? 

Quietly, Tim Kaine, the Democrat from Virginia (remember Tim Kaine?!) and Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine, are working together on a compromise bill, according to PBS NewsHour. A bill that enshrines the right to an abortion in law across the country could actually pass, but it would have to set real limits, likely mirroring most European rules (which ban elective abortion after 12 weeks or so) and allowing for conscientious objectors. That requires completely ignoring the activist class for at least five minutes. Matt Yglesias has a smart essay this week on the need for a first-trimester compromise. And Axios wisely sent out a memo barring its reporters from taking a public stand on abortion—a sober correction after letting them go wild in 2020.

→ Pro-choice activists accidentally making pro-life propaganda: Pro-choice activists have pulled series of stunts intended to go viral this past week. In one, they are dressed in red like handmaids as they storm a predominantly Latino Catholic church service. While someone must have thought this would be effective, to an outsider it looks like crazy people berating families in the middle of mass. 

Groups of pro-choice activists also have marched outside Alito’s home, Kavanaugh’s home, Roberts’ home, and Barrett’s.

On MSNBC, a comedian talked about abortion and how she’d like to thank the Supreme Court leaker with sex: “And if the leaker is a Republican and I get pregnant during our lovemaking, I will joyfully abort our fetus and let them know.” And then there’s the ACLU, which argued that LGBTQ people are “disproportionately harmed” by Roe falling. I’m not a scientist, but I think this is sort of an issue primarily among the heterosexuals (for a deeper dive, The Atlantic has a smart piece this week on how lost the ACLU has become).

At this point if you told me pro-choice activists had decided to shine a light on, say, Wiccans who need abortions for blood sacrifices, I would believe you. If anyone in these planning rooms is actually pro-choice, please attempt to course-correct to any sympathetic messaging at all. But nothing can prepare us for the next item . . .

→ Foot Shooting Award goes to: The House Pro-Choice Caucus has just released official new language guidance: “Choice” is categorized as “harmful language” when talking about abortion. Yes, as the battle of a lifetime heats up, the House of Representatives’ Pro-Choice Caucus announced that their own name is problematic. Instead of “choice,” the better word is “decision.” They’re getting this from a Planned Parenthood document that argues that the word “choice” implies freedom that many black women don’t have.

From that same document: Instead of saying “pro-choice,” the new preferred phrase is: “Pro-abortion.” Yes: pro-abortion. Is this a joke? It is not.

Dems also have formally dropped the quite effective phrase “safe, legal, and rare,” since rare implies there’s anything wrong with copious abortions. Again, that’s real. Where activists once made huge inroads talking about abortion as a private, difficult choice a woman sometimes needs to make, they now argue it’s not a choice, that it’s not about women, and anyway the act should be celebrated

→ Speaking of gender:

→ A formula shortage is no time to shame moms: The formula shortage is worsening. For everything on this disaster, continue to follow Bethany Mandel, who has been early and brilliant on the topic, which involves a mix of supply chain chaos, rules that ban European formula, and an American factory that’s still shuttered. (The most frustrating voices are those on the right saying women shouldn’t need formula at all, which is a good way to know which conservative figures have never become parents.)

Here is a very smart mini-essay from a historian about just how many babies died before the invention of formula. The president met on Thursday with retailers and manufacturers about cutting red tape to ease the crisis.

→ Department of Homeland Security wants to edit your posts: That’s the latest from our Truth Czar, Nina Jankowicz, who announced that she wants there to be a select group of approved social media users with the power to “edit Twitter” and “add context.” 

The media, embarrassed by what they’ve created, are trying to downplay the danger of Jankowicz’s power. Rarely do you see people argue for a very bad idea and then get to see that very bad idea come to fruition so swiftly. When Ron DeSantis wins in 2024, at least it will be sort of darkly entertaining to see the journalists who fought so hard for this Truth Czar suddenly getting edits from the Department of Homeland Security’s Chris Rufo, though he’s probably too smart to accept such a post. (I’ll take it.)

→ Afghan women go back under the burqa: The Taliban announced all women in the country would return to wearing burqas. It’s extraordinarily sad. 

Meanwhile, in a slice of life from the United Nations, there’s a story out this week about a U.N. agency that had $61 million and no idea where to put it. Two top officials gave it all to a family they met at a party, and about half of it promptly disappeared. 

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