TGIF: Dark Brandon Edition
Plus: News with Senator Tim Scott.
TGIF. It’s the week, pureed.
In the comments, please give me your best jokes on the news. I keep thinking of Christopher Hitchens essay “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” and I think it’s finally happening to me. Is this a phase of pregnancy or is it forever? Don’t answer that.
→ The Dems Go Dark Brandon: With Biden getting his nearly $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act passed by the Senate, the Dems are celebrating. Here’s the Deputy Press Secretary with the new presidential vibes. (I actually love this particular meme, a play on the funny conservative chant Let’s Go Brandon.)
Republicans are upset about the bill because what it does do is move along many of Biden’s goals: allowing Medicare to negotiate some drug prices; a tax credit to consumers who use solar or electric cars; tax incentives toward air-quality improvements. And no, the act has no impact on Inflation—“statistically indistinguishable from zero,” according to a report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Interestingly, a group of influential progressives and new environmentalists are apoplectic about the bill because it does not also overthrow capitalism. The new environmentalist movement leaders sort of care about the environment, technically, but mostly because climate change is a useful apocalyptic cudgel to approach social issues. Their big argument has been that climate cannot be addressed until we . . . defund the police, end the economic growth mindset, and abolish private property. There’s a great Slate article (yes, Slate!) on this phenomenon: “Why Internet Leftists Are So Pissed About Democrats’ Historic Climate Bill.” I find that comforting.
→ Carried interest? Do we care about that? The carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than their cleaning ladies, is an issue that Democrats love to campaign on. And they were going to finally eliminate it with this big bill! Until, quietly, that got scrapped. The ones who have actually achieved carried interest reform recently are, oddly enough, Republicans. Here from the WSJ Editorial Board this week: "When out of power, they rail against Republicans for not closing what they call the carried interest 'loophole.' But when in power they never get around to changing it. This time they couldn’t even extend the date to qualify for the capital-gains rate to five years from three. Republicans in their 2017 tax bill extended the carrying period to three years from one."
→ Oh and $80 billion to the IRS: The IRS gets a huge new slush fund. And it looks like they’re going to be armed and ready to kill?! Is the IRS allowed to do that? I guess yes! Here is one of the new IRS job listings:
Adhere to the highest standards of conduct, especially in maintaining honesty and integrity.
Work a minimum of 50 hours per week, which may include irregular hours, and be on-call 24/7, including holidays and weekends.
Maintain a level of fitness necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.
Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.
Be willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments.
→ Rachel Maddow’s audience gets what it always wanted: THE FBI RAIDED MAR-A-LAGO. This week started off with a bang when the FBI searched Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago reportedly looking for classified information they believed was being held there. As we went to press on Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that it was nuclear information, in particular, that the FBI was looking for.
It’s hard for those of us with piping hot takes, but we have to wait to learn more before having any serious opinion one way or the other. What is clear, though, is that the American lust to lock up political opposition is disturbing. It’s Lock Her Up on both sides. A lot of liberals basically won’t be happy until Trump is in Shawshank.
Experts are here to tell us this has nothing to do with politics: “Historians, legal experts, others say ex-President Donald Trump's framing of the Monday FBI search of his Florida home as a political attack is wrong,” says USA Today. Nothing to see here.
An interesting and sober response came from ousted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: The “DOJ must immediately explain the reason for its raid and it must be more than a search for inconsequential archives or it will be viewed as a political tactic and undermine any future credible investigation and legitimacy of January 6 investigations.”
In times like these, Matt Taibbi is unparalleled, and I highly recommend his essay on the raid.
→ Sorry, did we say tons? We meant there is no corruption in U.S.-Ukraine aid: A lot of American taxpayer money has gone to help Ukraine. You can argue for or against it, but one thing we probably all agree on is we hope it’s properly spent. This week CBS broke news that U.S. military aid barely gets to people at the front lines: “Like 30% of it reaches its final destination,” said the leader of a nonprofit that supports Ukraine’s armed resistance. Pretty great to expose U.S. money and military corruption, right? Wrong. CBS then took the quote down and profusely apologized, saying that although it was true, things are better now and the U.S. army is on it:
“We removed a tweet promoting our recent doc, ‘Arming Ukraine,’ which quoted the founder of the nonprofit Blue/Yellow, Jonas Öhman's assessment in late April that only around 30% of aid was reaching the front lines in Ukraine. Since that time, Öhman says delivery has improved. Additionally, the U.S. military has confirmed that defense attaché Brigadier General Garrick M. Harmon arrived in Kyiv in August for arms control and monitoring.”
Translation: People got upset, so we’re taking it down.
Meanwhile, the actor Jessica Chastain visited President Zelensky.
→ In Sunni v. Shiite violence, which one is the white supremacist? When four Muslim men were murdered in Albuquerque by an alleged serial killer who drove a dark grey sedan, everyone assumed the killer was some white supremacist. Biden came out to say: “My administration stands strongly with the Muslim community. … These hateful attacks have no place in America.” Turns out, the guy arrested and charged with so far two of the killings is a Sunni Muslim, and he may have been partly motivated by anger that his daughter married a Shiite Muslim. Yes, it’s true: Violence also exists outside of Western culture.
→ Absolutely do not say gay and monkeypox in one sentence: When it came to Covid, there were no lifestyle changes too great. Schools closed for years and toddlers masked perpetually? Absolutely the right call. Churches closed? You bet. Leaving your father to die alone in a hospital? A sacrifice that had to be made. Seniors forced to live in isolation? They’ll be fine. But with monkeypox, all those same devotees are suddenly very wary of asking anyone to change any behavior. And they’re allergic to mentioning who is actually high risk.
It’s tricky because public health leaders don’t want to say that this is mostly spread through gay sex. But also they want to protect gay men from the disease, since it is mostly spread through gay sex. You see the conundrum.
“At times we do feel caught between how we communicate to the general public and then how we have another channel of communication to folks most affected by hMPXV,” said Dr. Tim Menza, a senior adviser with the Oregon Health Authority said on NPR. Because the general public can’t be told the truth? (I’m stealing this quote from a fabulous Josh Barro piece on the topic, which you should read.)