Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman, Spin Dictators

At Amazon, Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman, Spin Dictators : The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century.

Christopher Rufo at New College, Sarasota, Florida (VIDEO)

This man is amazing.

NFL Divisional Championships

Ms. Katie's pumped up!

Bengals or Chiefs? On Twitter.

Monday, January 23, 2023

When Students Change Gender Identity, and Parents Don't Know

This is outrageous. Nothing good will come of sidelining parents like this --- it's tantamount to having the state take your kid away from you.

At the New York Times, "Educators are facing wrenching new tensions over whether they should tell parents when students socially transition at school":

Jessica Bradshaw found out that her 15-year-old identified as transgender at school after she glimpsed a homework assignment with an unfamiliar name scrawled at the top.

When she asked about the name, the teenager acknowledged that, at his request, teachers and administrators at his high school in Southern California had for six months been letting him use the boy’s bathroom and calling him by male pronouns.

Mrs. Bradshaw was confused: Didn’t the school need her permission, or at least need to tell her?

It did not, a counselor later explained, because the student did not want his parents to know. District and state policies instructed the school to respect his wishes.

“There was never any word from anyone to let us know that on paper, and in the classroom, our daughter was our son,” Mrs. Bradshaw said.

The Bradshaws have been startled to find themselves at odds with the school over their right to know about, and weigh in on, such a major development in their child’s life — a dispute that illustrates how school districts, which have long been a battleground in cultural conflicts over gender and sexuality, are now facing wrenching new tensions over how to accommodate transgender children.

The Bradshaws accepted their teenager’s new gender identity, but not without trepidation, especially after he asked for hormones and surgery to remove his breasts. Doctors had previously diagnosed him as being on the autism spectrum, as well as with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, PTSD and anxiety. He had struggled with loneliness during the pandemic, and, to his parents, seemed not to know exactly who he was yet, because he had repeatedly changed his name and sexual orientation.

Given those complexities, Mrs. Bradshaw said she resented the fact that the school had made her feel like a bad parent for wondering whether educators had put her teenager, a minor, on a path the school wasn’t qualified to oversee.

“It felt like a parenting stab in the back from the school system,” she said. “It should have been a decision we made as a family.”

The student, now 16, told The New York Times that his school had provided him with a space to be himself that he otherwise lacked. He had tried to come out to his parents before, he said, but they didn’t take it seriously, which is why he asked his school for support.

“I wish schools didn’t have to hide it from parents or do it without parental permission, but it can be important,” he said. “Schools are just trying to do what’s best to keep students safe and comfortable. When you’re trans, you feel like you are in danger all the time. Even though my parents were accepting, I was still scared, and that’s why the school didn’t tell them.”

Although the number of young people who identify as transgender in the United States remains small, it has nearly doubled in recent years, and schools have come under pressure to address the needs of those young people amid a polarized political environment where both sides warn that one wrong step could result in irreparable harm.

The public school that Mrs. Bradshaw’s son attends is one of many throughout the country that allow students to socially transition — change their name, pronouns, or gender expression — without parental consent. Districts have said they want parents to be involved but must follow federal and, in some cases, state guidance meant to protect students from discrimination and violations of their privacy.

Schools have pointed to research that shows that inclusive policies benefit all students, which is why some education experts advise schools to use students’s preferred names and pronouns. Educators have also said they feel bound by their own morality to affirm students’ gender identities, especially in cases where students don’t feel safe coming out at home.

But dozens of parents whose children have socially transitioned at school told The Times they felt villainized by educators who seemed to think that they — not the parents — knew what was best for their children. They insisted that educators should not intervene without notifying parents unless there is evidence of physical abuse at home. Although some didn’t want their children to transition at all, others said they were open to it, but felt schools forced the process to move too quickly, and that they couldn’t raise concerns without being cut out completely or having their home labeled “unsafe.”

Many advocates for L.G.B.T.Q. youth counter that parents should stop scapegoating schools and instead ask themselves why they don’t believe their children. They said ensuring that schools provide enough support for transgender students is more crucial than ever, given the rise of legislation that blocks their access to bathrooms, sports and gender-affirming care.

These disputes are unfolding as Republicans rally around “parental rights,” a catchall term for the decisions parents get to make about their children’s‌ upbringing. Conservative legal groups have filed a growing number of lawsuits against school districts, accusing them of failing to involve parents in their children’s education and mental health care. Critics say groups like these have long worked to delegitimize public education and eradicate the rights of transgender people.

But how schools should address gender identity cuts through the liberal and conservative divide. Parents of all political persuasions have found themselves unsettled by what schools know and don’t reveal.

Mrs. Bradshaw said she wouldn’t align herself with Republican lawmakers who sought to ban L.G.B.T.Q. rights, but she also felt as though her school’s policy left no room for nuance.

“It is almost impossible to have these discussions,” Mrs. Bradshaw said. “There is no forum for someone like me.”

Other self-described liberal parents said they registered as independents or voted for Republican candidates for the first time as a result of this issue. Although they haven’t sued, some have retained lawyers affiliated with the largest legal organization on the religious right to battle their children’s schools.

In November, Erica Anderson, a well-known clinical psychologist who has counseled hundreds of children over gender identity-related issues and is transgender herself, filed an amicus brief in a Maryland lawsuit in support of parents represented by a conservative law group. The parents have argued that their district’s policy violates their own decision-making authority.

Transitioning socially, Dr. Anderson wrote, “is a major and potentially life-altering decision that requires parental involvement, for many reasons.”

She told the Times that she had to push aside her qualms about working with conservative lawyers. “I don’t want to be erased as a transgender person, and I don’t want anyone’s prerogatives or identity to be taken away from them,” she said, “but on this one, I’m aligned with people who are willing to advocate for parents.”

The debate reflects how the interests of parents and those of their children do not always align, said Justin Driver, a Yale Law School professor who has written a book about constitutional conflict in public schools...


Monday, January 16, 2023

Anya Kamenetz, The Stolen Year

At Amazon, Anya Kamenetz, The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children's Lives, and Where We Go Now.

In a First, South Korea Declares Nuclear Weapons a Policy Option

Seoul could go nuclear in a heartbeat. Given the sketchy security situation in East Asia, I wouldn't blame them.

At the New York Times, "President Yoon Suk Yeol said that if North Korea’s nuclear threat grows, his country may build a nuclear arsenal of its own or ask the United States to redeploy in the South":

SEOUL — President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea said for the first time on Wednesday that if North Korea’s nuclear threat grows, South Korea would consider building nuclear weapons of its own or ask the United States to redeploy them on the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking during a joint policy briefing by his defense and foreign ministries on Wednesday, Mr. Yoon was quick to add that building nuclear weapons was not yet an official policy. He stressed that South Korea would for now deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat by strengthening its alliance with the United States.

Such a policy includes finding ways to increase the reliability of Washington’s commitment to protect its ally with all of its defense capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

Mr. Yoon’s comments marked the first time since the United States withdrew all of its nuclear weapons from the South in 1991 that a South Korean president officially mentioned arming the country with nuclear weapons. Washington removed its nuclear weapons from South Korea as part of its global nuclear arms reduction efforts.

“It’s possible that the problem gets worse and our country will introduce tactical nuclear weapons or build them on our own,” said Mr. Yoon, according to a transcript of his comments released by his office. “If that’s the case, we can have our own nuclear weapons pretty quickly, given our scientific and technological capabilities.”

South Korea is a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, which bans the country from seeking nuclear weapons. It also signed a joint declaration with North Korea in 1991 in which both Koreas agreed not to “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.”

But North Korea has reneged on the agreement by conducting six nuclear tests since 2006. Years of negotiations have failed to remove a single nuclear warhead in the North.​ (American and South Korean officials say that North Korea could conduct another nuclear test, its seventh, at any moment.​)​​

As North Korea vowed to expand its nuclear arsenal and threatened to use it against the South in recent months, voices have grown in South Korea — among analysts and within Mr. Yoon’s conservative ruling People Power Party — calling for Seoul to reconsider a nuclear option.

Mr. Yoon’s comments this week were likely to fuel such discussions. ​Opinion surveys in recent years have shown that a majority of South Koreans supported the United States redeploying nuclear weapons to the South or the country’s building an arsenal of its own.

Policymakers in Seoul have disavowed the option​ for decades​, arguing that the so-called nuclear-umbrella protection ​from the United States ​would keep the country safe from North Korea​.

“President Yoon’s comment could turn out to be a watershed moment in the history of South Korea’s national security,” said Cheon Seong-whun, a former head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, a government-funded research think tank in Seoul.​ ​”It could shift its paradigm in how to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat.”

Calls for nuclear weapons have bubbled up in South Korea over the decades, but they have never ​gained traction beyond the occasional analysts and right-wing politicians.

Under its former military dictator Park Chung-hee​, South Korea embarked on a covert nuclear weapons program in the 1970s, when the United States began reducing its military presence in the South, making its people feel vulnerable to North Korean attacks. Washington forced him to abandon the program, promising to keep the ​ally under its nuclear umbrella.

Washington still keeps 28,500 American troops in South Korea as the symbol of the alliance. But in recent months, North Korea has continued testing missiles, some of which were designed to deliver nuclear warheads to the South. Many South Koreans have questioned whether the United States would stop North Korea from attacking their country, especially at the risk of leaving American cities and military bases in the Asia-Pacific region more vulnerable to a nuclear attack. Washington’s repeated promise to protect its ally — with its own nuclear weapons, if necessary — has not dissipated such fear.

In its 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, a document that outlines Washington’s nuclear policy for the next five to 10 years, the Pentagon​ itself noted the “deterrence dilemmas” ​that the North posed to the United States. “A crisis or conflict on the Korean Peninsula could involve a number of nuclear-armed actors, raising the risk of broader conflict,” it said.

“If South Korea ​possesses ​nuclear weapons, the United States will not need to ask whether it should use its ​own ​nuclear weapons to defend its ally​,​ and the alliance will never be put to a test,” said Cheong Seong-chang,​ a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea. “If South Korea owns nuclear weapons, the U.S. will actually become safer.”

By declaring an intention to arm itself with nuclear weapons, South Korea​ could force North Korea to rethink its own nuclear weapons program and​ possibly prompt China​ to put pressure on Pyongyang to roll back its program, Mr. Cheong said. China has long feared a regional nuclear arms race in East Asia.

South Korea would need to quit the NPT to build its own arsenal. Analysts said that quitting the NPT would be too risky for the South​ because it could trigger international sanctions​. ​

Some lawmakers affiliated with Mr. Yoon’s party and analysts like Mr. Cheon want the United States to reintroduce American nuclear weapons​ to the South and forge a nuclear-sharing agreement with Seoul, similar to the one in which NATO aircraft would be allowed to carry American nuclear weapons in wartime.

The American Embassy had no immediate comment on Mr. Yoon’s statement.


Cousin of Patrice Cullors, Black Lives Matter Co-Founder, Dies from Cardiac Arrest After Being Tased by L.A.P.D. (VIDEO)

The spin from the Los Angeles Times: "LAPD’s repeated tasing of teacher who died appears excessive, experts say."

Right. Here's the full context:

The Big Problem With the Biden Documents Story

From Byron York, at the Washington Examiner, "The biggest problem with the Joe Biden documents story is this: We know only what Joe Biden's lawyers have told us. And the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the case will make the problem worse."

Konstantin Kisin at the Oxford Union (VIDEO)

His speech was a bit of a sensation on Twitter.


Donald Trump's 2024 Campaign Is Sputtering Out of the Gate

At Vanity Fair, "'HE IS IN A WEIRD BUNKER'":

Holed up at Mar-a-Lago, and hawking NFTs, Trump has yet to hold a rally since announcing his run. “Money is a real issue,” one source said. Rather than freezing the field, the campaign would now like to see it fill up—the recipe for a 2016 repeat."


Merve Emra

She's an associate professor at Oxford, and a contributing writer to the New Yorker --- and something of a literary social media sensation, it turns out.

On Twitter.

Trevor Lawrence Threw Four Interceptions — Then Led an Epic NFL Playoff Comeback

I was shocked, like everybody else, no doubt. I like Trevor Lawrence, but I like Justin Herbert too, and after Lawrence gave up four --- four! interceptions, by halftime it seemed impossible for Jacksonville to come back. But they did. Boy did they ever.

At WSJ, "The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback led his team past the Los Angeles Chargers on a game-winning field goal after trailing by 27 points":

The Jacksonville Jaguars trailed the Los Angeles Chargers 27-0 in the opening round of the NFL playoffs and just about everything that could go wrong had gone wrong.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence had thrown four interceptions—in the first half. The Jags muffed a punt. They looked precisely like the sort of team that squeaked into the playoffs with a middling record simply because they played in a crummy division. And that’s because that’s how they reached the postseason.

Then came a comeback that was nothing short of epic. When the Jaguars beat the Chargers 31-30 on a field-goal as time expired, it marked a stunning turnaround for Lawrence; a massive choke by Los Angeles; and the brilliance of a game-changing call by Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson.

By erasing a 27-point deficit, the Jaguars completed the third-largest comeback ever during the NFL playoffs. It also comes just weeks after the Minnesota Vikings’ historic 33-point comeback against the Indianapolis Colts during the regular season. Lawrence became just the second quarterback ever to throw four touchdowns and four interceptions in a playoff game...

Keep reading.


AFC Wildcard: Sam Hubbard Fumble Recovery Seals It for Cincinatti (VIDEO)

I was dumbfounded like everybody else. The worse thing is for the life of me I couldn't see the actual fumble until the closeups of the replay. I was just, "What?!!"

At WCPO News 9 Cincinnati, "WATCH IT AGAIN: Cincinnati's own Sam Hubbard runs 98-yard fumble recovery for TD in Bengals-Ravens wild card,"and WGPH Fox 8, "Ravens’ John Harbaugh: QB Huntley Erred on Goal-Line Fumble: The Baltimore coach blamed improper execution on the play that ultimately decided the Ravens’ playoff fate."

Plus, "Bengals' Sam Hubbard on game-winning fumble return: 'You can't replicate a feeling like that in life'."


Americans Pessimistic on Congress

A new USA Today/Ipsos poll, "What's going to happen in Washington over the next 2 years? Americans don't expect much: An exclusive USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll shows pessimism about the prospect for compromise or action by a divided government."

Via Susan Page:

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Resqme Quick Car Escape Tool

At Amazon, RESQME Family Pack of 6, The Original Emergency Keychain Car Escape Tool, 2-in-1 Seatbelt Cutter and Window Breaker, Made in USA, Black, Yellow.

Prince Harry, Spare

At Amazon, Prince Harry, Spare: The Duke of Sussex.

House Passes Rules Package as Republicans Regroup After Speaker Fight

At the Wall Street Journal, "Procedures are set for new Congress, clearing way for GOP to pursue legislation."

Prince Harry's Bridge-Burner of a Memoir Signals a Bigger Royal Rift

This is something.

At the New York Times, "The self-exiled royal has given the world a warts-and-all look at his family — with an emphasis on the warts":

LONDON — King Charles III has long pushed the idea of slimming down the British royal family. If his younger son’s unsparing new book is any indication, he has achieved his goal, though not in the way he intended.

The publication of Prince Harry’s memoir on Tuesday — with its scorched-earth details about his rupture with his family — seems likely to dash any near-term prospects that Harry will return to the fold by reconciling with his father; with Camilla, the queen consort; or with his older brother, Prince William.

The book, titled “Spare,” paints a portrait of a hopelessly divided House of Windsor. Far from the smooth-running operation known as The Firm, it comes across as a collection of warring fiefs, where family members jockey for advantage with a complicit tabloid press, trying to buff their images by dishing dirt on one another.

With Harry and his wife, Meghan, estranged and living in Southern California; the king’s disgraced younger brother, Andrew, in internal exile following his settlement of a sexual assault lawsuit; and the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September, the family’s senior ranks have dwindled to a handful of figures.

Even those who remain are caught in a poisonous public-relations contest that pits family members against one another, according to Harry. He writes that an aide to his father and stepmother planted negative stories in the London newspapers about William and his wife, Catherine — a practice that he said also tormented him and Meghan and contributed to their decision to leave.

“I was displeased about being used this way, and livid about it being done to Meg,” Harry said in the book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “But I had to admit it was happening much more often lately to Willy. And he was justifiably incandescent about it.”

Buckingham Palace has stuck to its policy of not commenting on the book or on the cavalcade of television interviews Harry has done to promote it. But as the disclosures reach a clattering peak this week, royal experts predicted Charles and William would have to reach some kind of accommodation with Harry, if only to prevent the rift from overshadowing the king’s coronation in May.

The Harry-and-Meghan drama, several royal experts said, has become the gravest crisis confronting the monarchy since the fraught aftermath of the death of Harry’s mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales, in a car crash in the late summer of 1997, when the queen came under rare criticism for not showing enough sympathy.

“The key thing that rescued them every time in the past was that the queen was above reproach,” said Peter Hunt, a former royal correspondent for the BBC. “But we now have a king who is himself a divisive figure.”

The palace has signaled that Harry and Meghan might be invited to the coronation, suggesting that Charles still hopes to play a healing role. But in an interview Sunday with an ITV correspondent, Tom Bradby, Harry was noncommittal about attending. “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then,” he said.

So much has already happened that it is hard to imagine Harry in dress uniform, marching to Westminster Abbey with his father and brother.

“This seems unsustainable,” said Ed Owens, a historian who has written about the relations between the monarchy and news media. “It suggests an institutional failure, and a complete contradiction to how historians think of The Firm as always working together. They’re just as often at odds with each other.”

Mr. Owens said William, one of the most popular royals, had been particularly damaged by the book. Harry, the “spare” to William’s heir, portrays his elder brother as ill-tempered, entitled and prone to violence, knocking Harry to the floor in one altercation and grabbing his shirt in another.

“They’ve got to get a grip on how they deal with Harry,” Mr. Owens said.

The latest drip of disclosures began last week with teasers for a promotional TV interview Harry did with ITV and another with the CBS program “60 Minutes.” It accelerated after the book, published by Penguin Random House, leaked out nearly a week before its publication date, first in The Guardian and later in other papers after it was mistakenly put on sale in Spain. The Times obtained its copy in London.

For days, nuggets from the book have been splashed across front pages. “Outrageous boast,” The Daily Mirror said Saturday of Harry’s claim that he had killed 25 Taliban fighters as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. “Wills lunge at me after Philip’s funeral,” The Sun said on Sunday, referring to Harry’s account of a tense meeting with his brother after they buried Prince Philip, their grandfather, in 2021.

On Monday, after the TV interviews, the tabloids played up the claim that Harry had walked back one of the most explosive accusations made by him and Meghan in their interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021: that a member of the royal family had spoken in racist terms about their unborn child.

The episode is not mentioned in “Spare,” which is curious since Harry skips little else, from his recreational drug use to how he lost his virginity in a field behind a pub. Speaking to Mr. Bradby, Harry did not retract the couple’s claim that a family member had speculated anxiously about the skin color of the child. But he said it was an example of “unconscious bias” rather than racism.

Questions of racism reverberated for weeks after Ms. Winfrey’s interview, forcing William to deny that the royal family was racist. They resurfaced again recently when a former lady-in-waiting to the queen, Susan Hussey, was stripped of her duties and forced to apologize after subjecting a Black British guest at Buckingham Palace to insistent questioning about where her family came from.

For a few royal watchers, Harry’s decision not to reprise those accusations left the door open for some sort of peacemaking...

Massive Sinkhole Opens Up in Chatsworth as Heavy Rains Pound the Southland (VIDEO)

The Los Angeles Times has continuing rain and flood reporting here, "Southern California faces another day of punishing rains: ‘We are definitely not out of the woods yet’."

And at CBS News 2 Los Angeles:

Representative Katie Porter Announces U.S. Senate Bid (VIDEO)

She's nasty. I never paid her that much attention, even though she's my congresswoman. But recent news stories have highlighted how disagreeable she really is, and that's putting it nicely.

In late December, Reason had this: "California Congresswoman Katie Porter Blamed, Punished a Staffer For Allegedly Giving Her COVID-19."

And at Fox News: "Rep. Katie Porter used racist language, ‘ridiculed people for reporting sexual harassment,' ex-staffer claims: California Democrat accused of running toxic office."

She's vile, and now she's going to inflict her reprehensible personality on the entire state.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Rep. Katie Porter announces bid for Feinstein’s Senate seat."

You can see just how nasty she is at the video:

Monday, January 9, 2023

How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities

From John Sailer, at the Free Press, "An obsession with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion threatens students, professors, and the very credibility of higher education in the U.S."


On Instagram.

'Life-Threatening' Flooding Feared in Northern California as Storms Cause Rivers to Swell (VIDEO)

At the Los Angeles Times, "A string of atmospheric rivers that has left more than 400,000 without power in California will be followed by two major episodes of heavy rain and mountain snow in the next several days, forecasters say."

And watch, at KCRA News 10 Sacramento, "Some Wilton residents choose not to evacuate ahead of strong storm," and "Here's a look at rainfall totals from Sunday night to Monday morning, levels at Arcade Creek."

Jonathan Malesic, The End of Burnout

At Amazon, Jonathan Malesic, The End of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives.

Brazil Detains Hundreds More People, Ousts Capital's Governor After Attacks (VIDEO)

At the Wall Street Journal, "President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s newly elected government says supporters of former leader Jair Bolsonaro tried to overthrow it."

Also, at the BBC, "Brazilian forces regain control after Congress stormed," and Memeorandum.

And Sky News, here:

Cold War II

From Michael Lind, at the Tablet, "The U.S. is losing its economic advantage in a new era of global conflict."

Monday, January 2, 2023

Robert Kagan, The Ghost at the Feast

At Amazon, Robert Kagan, The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900-1941.

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Najee Harris Rips Microphone Out of Sideline Reporter Melissa Stark's Hands (VIDEO)



The mofo is brazen.

At Total Pro Sports, "Steelers’ RB Najee Harris Snatches Microphone From Melissa Stark Following Win vs. Ravens on SNF (VIDEO)."

At 2:40 minutes below:

'Covidiots Sheeple'

This dude, at Liberals Leaving, has the rap down!

From Claire Berlinski:

Big Banks Predict Recession, Fed Pivot in 2023


Let's see if these predictions hit gold.

At the Wall Street Journal, "More than two-thirds of economists at 23 major financial institutions expect the U.S. to have a downturn this year."

The Privatization of Policing

From Emma Freire, at Compact, "David, 26, is shoplifting peanut butter from the Stadium Shopping Center in Portland, Ore. He has been living on the streets for about a month. Already addicted to heroin, he had started using fentanyl four days earlier. The store’s personnel spot him and call their private security firm Echelon Protective Services. They know that if they call the police, they might have to wait up to two hours. And this situation needs to be dealt with right away. The shopping center’s management pays Echelon to patrol the area at all times."


Sunday, January 1, 2023

How the 2022 Midterms Rewrote American Politics

At Vanity Fair, "Honey, We Dumped the Playbook: 10 Ways the Midterms Rewrote American Politics in 2022":

The counterintuitive takeaways from November’s Big Blue Surprise election.

One of the few absolute constants of American politics is that every election cycle brings its own surprises. Which, like good drama, makes elections interesting and entertaining—and, often, real nail-biters.

Inevitably, no matter how much analysis or how many polls are conducted, the results prove the experts wrong. In fact, arguably—despite advances in knowledge, data, and technology—we’ve been getting it more wrong than ever before. How does that happen?

Well, this election was a good example of how we become seduced by convenient narratives. One of the obvious tools we use is history. We look back at the accumulated experience of past elections to project what might happen in the future. But this can be extremely misleading and misguided. Because it leads to the kind of thinking I hear all the time from political insiders: “X won’t happen because X has never happened before.”

Then you have a Black man elected president. And a real estate huckster from New York City. And a peanut farmer from Georgia. And an actor from California. All things never thought possible. Until they happened. So, the only real rule here is: Things aren’t possible in politics—until they are.

Let’s look back at the Big Blue Surprise of November 2022. In this election, by using history as a guide, a red wave was predicted. In only two midterms since 1934 has the president’s party not lost seats in the House, and one of those was simply due to a post–9/11 blush of support for the incumbent.

Also, over the last decade, Republicans had won most redistricting fights and were therefore expected to pick up seats simply as a result of more GOP-favorable electoral maps.

On top of that, the Republicans seemed on the offensive on three key issues that were plaguing the Democrats: the troubled state of the economy, crime, and immigration.

Reporters are often criticized for reporting and writing analysis and predictions from their offices in places like Washington, DC, and never getting their boots on the ground around the country.

But, wait a moment. I can testify to how misleading this sort of anecdotal canvassing can be. For the work I do for the weekly political series The Circus, on Showtime, I spent most of the fall traveling all over America, going to coffee shops, truck stops, bus tours, house parties, and small-town rallies. In fact, since 2016, I have adopted a sort of “momentum test” based on what I see on the ground in the last two weeks leading up to an election. My fieldwork out on the hustings six years ago, for example, told me something tangible during that Hillary Clinton–Donald Trump face-off. Yes, I certainly believed, along with 99% of the rest of the country, that Clinton was likely to win. But about seven days before voters went to the polls, I made the assertion on Megyn Kelly’s show, on Fox News, that a person out in the heartland—in the political thick of things during the last week of a campaign—usually gets a sense which direction the momentum is headed. And I said that Trump seemed to have some winds at his back.

This past November, as well, those winds were all blowing in a seemingly discernable direction. Our team from The Circus put on a full-scale blitz and went to 17 states in the final few days of the campaign. And if you judged what the outcome might be—simply by the size and enthusiasm of crowds—you’d likely have guessed: red wave.

New Hampshire was a good example. Democratic senator Maggie Hassan had seemed in solid shape until the final weeks when polls showed the race tightening. I went to an event at her campaign headquarters, which by any objective standards was modest. A small group of supporters appeared earnest, committed, and dutiful, but hardly excited. On the other hand, Hassan’s MAGA-leaning, Trump-endorsed opponent, retired Army general Don Bolduc, held one of his many town hall meetings and he drew an SRO crowd of supporters who were enthusiastic, committed, and energized.

Hassan won comfortably by 10 points.

So who are you gonna trust? The partisans and hucksters or your own lyin’ eyes?

With this in mind, let’s go down the list of some surprises and counterintuitive lessons we learned in these topsy-turvy, down-is-up midterms...

Keep reading.


In New Orleans, CNN Missed the Central Time Midnight Countdown

Oh brother. 

Alcohol's not the problem over there, it's incompetence. *Eye-roll.*

At Mediaite, "OOPS! CNN Misses Midnight Countdown in New Orleans, Ringing in New Year to ‘Back That Azz Up’ as Don Lemon Throws Beads to Crowd."

The Year the West Erased Women

It's Ayaan Hirsi Ali, at UnHerd, "Progressives care more about semantics than emancipation."

As COVID Turns 3, Experts Worry Where the Next Pandemic Will Come From – And If We'll Be Ready


Beautiful Emily

On Instagram.

Nellie Bowles Newsletter: TGIF: One Last Time for 2022

Now at the Free Press, the new version of Bari Weiss's Common Sense, "Greta Thunberg and Andrew Tate give this long, strange year the send-off it deserves":

Welcome back to the news, holiday edition. In solidarity with thousands of other Americans, I too was stranded by Southwest, an airline that woke up and decided it didn’t feel like it anymore. They canceled more than 16,000 flights, including two of mine. I was worried at baggage claim that I might run into Biden’s former nuclear waste expert. But eventually, I, Bari, and our nepo baby made it home to L.A. in time for me to say:

Happy New Year to all of you Common Sensers now Free Press-ers. I hope it’s a beautiful one. I don’t love this holiday. I want each deranged week to last a thousand years and hate the passage of time. But I’m resigned to mortality, especially if I get to spend the days writing, thanks to you. TGIF.

Ok, one last time for 2022, here we go . . .



Note From San Francisco

From Matt Taibbi, "On the way home after the holidays, notes on "cherry-picking" and a few other odds and ends":

Having seen the redwoods with the boys by day, sampled dim sum last evening, and overdosed nights on San Francisco movies (Bullitt, Vertigo, the underrated Zodiac), I’m headed home tonight. A terrific trip, which I won’t forget.

In the coming days you’ll find a new thread on Twitter, along with a two-part article here at TK explaining the latest #TwitterFiles findings. Even as someone in the middle of it, naturally jazzed by everything I’m reading, I feel the necessity of explaining why it’s important to keep hammering at this.

Any lawyer who’s ever sifted though a large discovery file will report the task is like archaeology. You dig a little, find a bit of a claw, dust some more and find a tooth, then hours later it’s the outline of a pelvis bone, and so on. After a while you think you’re looking at something that was alive once, but what?

Who knows? At the moment, all we can do is show a few pieces of what we think might be a larger story. I believe the broader picture will eventually describe a company that was directly or indirectly blamed for allowing Donald Trump to get elected, and whose subjugation and takeover by a furious combination of politicians, enforcement officials, and media then became a priority as soon as Trump took office.

These next few pieces are the result of looking at two discrete data sets, one ranging from mid-2017 to early 2018, and the other spanning from roughly March 2020 through the present. In the first piece focused on that late 2017 period, you see how Washington politicians learned that Twitter could be trained quickly to cooperate and cede control over its moderation process through a combination of threatened legislation and bad press.

In the second, you see how the cycle of threats and bad media that first emerged in 2017 became institutionalized, to the point where a long list of government enforcement agencies essentially got to operate Twitter as an involuntary contractor, heading into the 2020 election. Requests for moderation were funneled mainly through the FBI, the self-described “belly button” of the federal government (not a joke, an agent really calls it that).

The company leadership knew as far back as 2017 that giving in to even one request to suspend this or that set of accused “hostile foreign accounts” would lead to an endless cycle of such demands. “Will work to contain that,” offered one comms official, without much enthusiasm, after the company caved for the first time that year. By 2020, Twitter was living the hell its leaders created for themselves.

What does it all mean? I haven’t really had time to think it over. Surely, though, it means something. I’ve been amused by the accusation that these stories are “cherry-picked.” As opposed to what, the perfectly representative sample of the human experience you normally read in news? Former baseball analytics whiz Nate Silver chimed in on this front:

Still more at that top link.

The Boomers in the Twilight Zone

Following-up, "Three-Quarters of Generation Z 'Not Interested In Sports'."

From Andrew Sullivan, "How exactly are they going to die? And how much choice should they have in it?":

I’m not particularly afraid of death. But I’m afraid of dying.

And dying can now take a very, very long time. In the past, with poorer diets, fewer medicines, and many more hazards, your life could be over a few months after being born or moments after giving birth or just as you were contemplating retirement. Now, by your sixties, you may well have close to a quarter of your life ahead of you. In 1860, life expectancy was 39.4 years. By 2060, it’s predicted to be 85.6 years. This is another deep paradigm shift in modernity we have not come close to adapting to.

For some, with their bodies intact and minds sharp, it’s a wonderful thing. But for many, perhaps most others, those final decades can be physically and mentally tough. Increasingly living alone, or in assisted living or nursing homes, the lonely elderly persist in a twilight zone of extended, pain-free — but not exactly better — life.

We don’t like to focus on this quality-of-life question because it calls into question the huge success we have had increasing the quantity of it. But it’s a big deal, it seems to me, altering our entire perspective on our lives and futures. Ricky Gervais has a great bit when he tells how he’s often told to stop smoking, or eat better, or exercise more — because leaving these vices behind will add a decade to his life. And his response is: sure, but the wrong decade! If he could get a decade in his thirties or forties again, he’d take it in an instant. But to live a crepuscular experience in your nineties? Not so much. “Remember, being healthy is basically just dying as slowly as possible,” he quipped. Not entirely wrong.

Anyone who has spent time caring for aging parents knows the drill: the physical and then the mental deterioration; the humiliations of helplessness; the often punitive absorption of drug after drug, treatment after treatment; multiple medicinal protocols of ever-increasing complexity and side effects. Staying in a family home becomes impossible for those who need 24-hour care, and for adult children to handle when they’re already overwhelmed by work and kids. Home-care workers — increasingly low-paid immigrants — can alleviate only so much.

All this is going to get much worse in the next couple of decades as the Boomers age further: “The population aged 45 to 64 years, the peak caregiving age, will increase by 1% between 2010 and 2030 while the population older than 80 years will increase by 79%.” I’ll be among them — on the edge of Gen X and Boomerville.

I mention all this as critical background for debating policies around euthanasia or “assisted dying” (a phrase that feels morbidly destined to become “death-care.”) Oregon pioneered the practice in the US with the Death with Dignity Act in 1997. At the heart of its requirements is a diagnosis of six months to live. Following Oregon’s framework, nine other states and DC now have laws for assisted suicide. Public support for euthanasia has remained strong — 72 percent in the latest Gallup.

But this balance could easily get destabilized in the demographic traffic-jam to come. In 2016, euthanasia came to Canada — but it’s gone much, much further than the US. The Medical Assistance in Dying (or MAID) program is now booming and raising all kinds of red flags: there were “10,000 deaths by euthanasia last year, an increase of about a third from the previous year.” (That’s five times the rate of Oregon, which actually saw a drop in deaths last year.) To help bump yourself off in Canada, under the initial guidelines, there had to be “unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be relieved under conditions that patients consider acceptable,” and death had to be “reasonably foreseeable” — not a strict timeline as in Oregon. The law was later amended to allow for assisted suicide even if you are not terminally ill.

More safeguards are now being stripped away:

Gone is the “reasonably foreseeable” death requirement, thus clearing the path of eligibility for disabled individuals who otherwise might have a lifetime to live. Gone, too, is the ten-day waiting requirement and the obligation to provide information on palliative-care options to all applicants. … [O]nly one [independent witness] is necessary now. Unlike in other countries where euthanasia is lawful, Canada does not even require an independent review of the applicant’s request for death to make sure coercion was not involved.

This is less a slippery slope than a full-on, well-polished ice-rink. Several disturbing cases have cropped up — of muddled individuals signing papers they really shouldn’t have with no close relatives consulted; others who simply could not afford the costs of survival with a challenging disease, or housing, and so chose death; people with severe illness being subtly encouraged to die in order to save money:

In one recording obtained by the AP, the hospital’s director of ethics told [patient Roger Foley] that for him to remain in the hospital, it would cost “north of $1,500 a day.” Foley replied that mentioning fees felt like coercion and asked what plan there was for his long-term care. “Roger, this is not my show,” the ethicist responded. “My piece of this was to talk to you, (to see) if you had an interest in assisted dying.”

It’s hard to imagine a greater power-dynamic than that of a hospital doctor and a patient with a degenerative brain disorder. For any doctor to initiate a discussion of costs and euthanasia in this context should, in my view, be a firing offense.

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Then this: in March, a Canadian will be able to request assistance in dying solely for mental health reasons. And the law will also be available to minors under the age of 18. Where to begin? How do we know that the request for suicide isn’t a function of the mental illness? And when the number of assisted suicides jumps by a third in one year, as it just did in Canada, it’s obviously not a hypothetical matter.

Ross Douthat had a moving piece on this — and I largely agree with his insistence on the absolute inviolable dignity of every human being and the unquantifiable moral value of every second of his or her life. I’m a Catholic, after all. At the same time, we have to assess what this moral absolutism means in practice. It can entail a huge amount of personal suffering; it deprives anyone of a right to determine how she or he will die; and it hasn’t been adapted to our unprecedented scientific achievements, which have turned so many medical fates into choices we simply cannot avoid.

Does the person who lives the longest win the race? So much of our medical logic suggests this, but it’s an absurd way to think of life. I’m changed forever by losing some of my closest friends when they were in their twenties and thirties from AIDS a couple decades ago. They died; I didn’t. Wrapping my head around that has taken a while, but it became a burning conviction inside me that their lives were not worth less than mine for being cut so short; that life is less a race than a performance, less about how many years you can rack up, but how much love and passion and friendship a life can express, however brief or interrupted.

I still think this. Which is why I do not want to force terminally sick people to live as their bodies and minds disintegrate so badly that they would really rather die. Dignity goes both ways. My suggestion would be simply not aggressively treating the conditions and illnesses that old age naturally brings, accepting the decline of the body and mind rather than fighting like hell against it, and finding far better ways to simply alleviate pain and distress.

And at some point, go gentle. Treating those at the end of life with psilocybin, or ketamine, or other psychedelics should become routine, as we care for the soul in the days nearer our deaths. (Congress should pass this bipartisan bill to waive Schedule 1 status when it comes to the terminally ill.) We can let people die with dignity, in other words, by inaction as much as action, and by setting sane, humane limits on our medicinal power — with the obvious exception of pain meds.

Even Ross allows that “it is not barbaric for the law to acknowledge hard choices in end-of-life care, about when to withdraw life support or how aggressively to manage agonizing pain.” But that should be less of an aside than a strong proposal. What kind of support for how long? In my view, not much and not for too long. What rights does a dying patient have in refusing treatment? Total. What depths of indignity does she have to endure? Not so much. I’m sure Dish readers have their own views and unique experiences — so let’s air them as frankly as we can in the weeks ahead ( There has to be a line. Maybe we can collectively try to find it

I think of Pope John Paul II’s extremism on the matter of life — even as his body and mind twisted into a contortion of pain and sickness due to Parkinson’s and old age. His example did the opposite of what he intended: he persuaded me of the insanity of clinging to life as if death were the ultimate enemy. There’s little heroism in that — just agony and proof that we humans have once again become victims of our own intelligence, creating worlds we are not equipped or designed to live in, achieving medical successes that, if pursued to their logical conclusion, become grotesque human failures.

Moderation please, especially in our dotage. And mercy.


Three-Quarters of Generation Z 'Not Interested In Sports'

Generation Z, along with Millennials, are strangling this country. 

It's not just a change in the modernist, 20th century America economic, political, and social culture, but the annihilation of it.

I find it very strange, though I worry less about it as I get older.In any case, at Axios, "Gen Z more likely to stream live sports events."

Andrew Tate Is Charged With Human Trafficking and Rape in Romania

I don't know much about this guy and have never listened to or watched.

Jedediah Bila practically swears by him, though, below.

And at the New York Times, "Mr. Tate, an online personality known for making misogynistic comments, and three others will be held in custody for 30 days, the authorities said":

Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer and online personality who frequently made misogynistic comments to his large following on social media sites, has been remanded into custody for 30 days by a judge in Romania after the police charged him and three others with human trafficking, rape and forming an organized criminal group.

Prosecutors with the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism in Romania said in a statement on Thursday that two Britons and two Romanians were being detained for 24 hours as part of the investigation. The statement did not name Mr. Tate, but the police in Romania confirmed on Friday that he and his brother, Tristan, both of whom have dual citizenship in Britain and the United States, were among those detained. The brothers live in Romania, according to Mr. Tate’s website.

Late Friday, a judge in Bucharest ordered all four parties to be held for an additional 30 days. A lawyer for Mr. Tate, Eugen Vidineac, said he was “disappointed” in the outcome and that an appeal had been filed. An appeal’s judge will decide whether Mr. Tate will remain in prison for the entire 30 days, Mr. Vidineac said, adding that a decision could come as soon as Monday.

Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, confirmed the charges. It was unclear whether the other two people were acquaintances of Mr. Tate or his brother.

Prosecutors said that the local authorities had carried out searches of homes they believed were connected to human trafficking and rape. The authorities said they were investigating whether the suspects created a criminal group in 2021 to engage in human trafficking in Romania, the United States and Britain.

Six victims, who were allegedly coerced into performing sexual acts, were housed in buildings outside Bucharest, prosecutors said. On two separate occasions in March, one of the suspects used violence and psychological pressure to rape a victim, prosecutors said.

Mr. Tate, who is in his mid-30s, rose to prominence in 2016 after appearing on the British version of the reality television show “Big Brother.” He has continued to build his online presence, often making hateful comments, including that women who are raped are partly responsible for the attacks.

Mr. Tate drew attention again this week after getting into a spat on Twitter with the 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, bragging about his collection of exotic cars and their “enormous emissions” and asking for her email address. Ms. Thunberg replied with an address ending in “”

Speculation online centered on whether a distinctive pizza box featured in one of Mr. Tate’s tweets to Ms. Thunberg had helped lead the authorities to him, but Ms. Bolla told The New York Times on Friday that that was not the case...

Jedediah says that Tate's been released.