TGIF: Temps Are Up, Stocks Are Down
Plus: Suitcases of cash for the Prince of Wales; defunding the police for West Hollywood.
→ Stock markets have had their worst six months since 1970: There are two sure-fire ways to ruin your day: fill up your gas tank or check your Vanguard account. We haven’t had a six-month fall like this for 50 years. And there’s one major cause: Inflation.
California has a plan to fix the problem: The inflation that was caused by our government handing out too much cash can be fixed with—you guessed it—the government handing out more cash. California is spending $17 billion on an “inflation relief package,” including sending millions of Californians $1,050 in cash. Meanwhile, Biden claimed on Thursday that “inflation is higher in almost every other country.” That’s false. Inflation is significantly lower in, to name a few other rich countries: France, Switzerland, Australia, and Japan. Let’s all hold our breath for the fact checks.
I’ve never understood the mentality that allows for Venezuela to become Venezuela. But really it’s very simple: You just keep handing out tons of cash and then say it’s all quite complicated. Here’s the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, this week: “We now understand better how little we understand about inflation.” He said that from a lovely conference in a charming town in Portugal.
As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, we are seeing an unprecedented spike in mortgage rates. And Biden keeps on trucking with the phrases ultra-MAGA and Putin’s Price Hike, though other Dems are realizing the terms are “lame,” according to Politico’s Alex Thompson (a really great White House reporter to follow).
→ January 6 committee getting ahead of their skis: In the midst of real grievances about the riot on the Capitol have been a lot of absurd ones, which, at least for me, undermine the hearings. For example: Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff, claimed that Trump wanted to go join the riot, tried to grab a steering wheel from his secret service driver, and then in a struggle tried to choke the guy. For a few hours this was the big news, even though Hutchinson said she’d heard it second-hand. It was a new Pee Tape! The same day: Secret Service agent Bobby Engel—the lead agent and the guy who drives the president’s car—said he’d be happy to go under oath and deny this account outright. And, poof, the whole thing disappears.
Now, when it comes to Hutchinson’s testimony that Trump apparently threw his lunch against the wall, yeah, ok that I can see.
→ There’s still no movement for a national abortion-rights law: Pro-choice organizations are determined to only pass the already attempted and failed Women’s Health Protection Act, which, in practice, allows abortion up until the latest stages of pregnancy. Any reasonable compromise—say a ban after 12 weeks or 16 weeks—is seen by these activist groups as a nonstarter. So there’s no movement on getting a national abortion-rights bill passed, and a sort of fatalism has set in among top Democrats.
Why? If this is such a high priority, why have Democrats never tried to actually codify Roe into law, even when they’ve had a supermajority, as they did during Obama’s first term? One theory: Both the left and the right benefit from having abortion undecided and contentious because it brings out their voter bases. Meanwhile, pro-life groups are working to stop people from crossing state lines for abortions.
I would like to see a national compromise law that can really pass. But when I look at women’s organizations I can donate to that are working toward this, I can’t find any. All the abortion rights groups seem to spend half their time advocating for unrelated issues (defunding the police, for example), and the other half of their donor-funded time on internal drama. This is a pattern: None of the old guard liberal groups are actually doing the things they were originally formed to do (see: Sierra Club, ACLU, etc).
For a textbook example . . .
→ There are 900 kids without summer camp after staff had a meltdown: A group of Bay Area camp instructors walked into a historic house that had been built in 1929, and they saw three tiles, each approximately 12x12 inches, that featured Buddhist swastikas and a lotus. There was a staff outcry. How could these 100-year-old Buddhist tiles be here!
It didn’t matter that the tiles were bought in 1913 while the camp’s founders were on a trip through Asia. And it wasn’t enough to remove them. Instead, the camp’s leadership team promptly resigned.
The chair of the board sent out an apologetic email this week about those fateful tiles: “It highlights the need for the organization to pause, reflect, and further develop plans of action to address the racial equity concerns shared by staff.” Also in the email: Camp is canceled. Those 900 children can find something else to do because the staff of Hidden Villa camp need the summer to heal together. “We were too slow to respond to the voices that expressed pain and concern over the symbols on the house. . . The decision to cancel Camp has been heart wrenching and staff is still triaging care for all involved.”
→ The Prince of Wales will stop accepting suitcases of cash: Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, used to regularly accept “charitable donations” in the form of suitcases full of cash from Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim. A royal source tells the BBC that, yes, this happened but they will be cleaning up donation practices: “That was then, this is now.”
→ Maybe the Supreme Court itself is fake news? As the reality of the current Supreme Court sets in—yes, it really is a conservative majority—some on the left are raising the question that maybe the Supreme Court is illegitimate? From the NYT: “Dobbs Is Not the Only Reason to Question the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court.” Hilary Clinton called Justice Thomas an angry, resentful man, playing to a stereotype that I always thought was considered quite racist: “I went to law school with [Justice Thomas]. He’s been a person of grievance for as long as I have known him—resentment, grievance, anger.”
→ Cops solve vanishingly few murders now: In 1965, police reported solving 83% of murders. In 2020, that number dropped to 51%. Half of the murders in America go unsolved! I had no idea how easy it was to do a murder and not be caught, but it’s always good to know. It’s especially surprising because you would think it’s a lot easier to solve a murder now thanks to cell phones that track our motion and the proliferation of home security cameras. If someone has a good theory on why cops stopped being able to solve murders, leave it in the comments because I’m baffled.
→ Pro-China agents pretend to be American eco-warriors to block mining: You gotta hand it to the Chinese Communist Party for being extremely good at manipulating Americans. The latest is that pro-China agents started an online campaign where they pretended to be American environmentalists to prevent any mining from happening in the U.S. The CCP wants to keep it all in China! It would be a real problem if America started mining locally in accordance with American labor laws, instead of relying on China’s slave labor. From Bloomberg’s report on this: “The fake accounts claimed that the processing facility would spur irreversible environmental damage and radioactive contamination that could cause cancer and deformities in newborns.” Speaking of strange shadow campaigns:
→ Democrats for MAGAs: Democrat donors are funding extremist Republican candidates in primaries against moderate Republicans in an effort to throw the races, according to a really smart new investigation by The National Journal. For example, in Maryland, the Democratic Governors Association is planning to spend over $1 million “to boost Trump-endorsed Republican Daniel Cox over [current governor Larry] Hogan-endorsed candidate Kelly Schulz.”
→ Homophobia is cool if it’s for the Middle East: When it comes to books being sold to Americans, Amazon employees shout for a referee if even a moderate slips in with a book they don’t like. To protest conservative pundit Matt Walsh being allowed to sell his book on Amazon, a group of employees literally pretended to be dead children on the sidewalk. But in countries with actual homophobia? Countries where being gay is illegal? No problem, sir. For the UAE, Amazon employees carefully filtered through the corporate catalog to remove any gay flags or gay paraphernalia (no search results allowed to be shown to Emiratis for: “lgbtq,” “pride” and “closeted gay”) and also nothing allowed that’s too feminist (sorry Roxane Gay, your book’s banned there). We wouldn’t want to offend a sheikh!
→ No worries about the fentanyl, see you soon! Two men arrested for attempting to transport 150,000 fentanyl pills from Mexico through California and to Washington state were quickly released without bail. They seem like good guys who will do the right thing and make their court date.
→ A tragic mass death: An 18-wheeler driven by a man who was apparently very high on meth was carrying dozens of migrants into America. The truck overheated and 53 people inside died. This is an avoidable tragedy. The truck apparently passed through a border checkpoint . . . but wasn’t checked. (Border Control says there are too many trucks to inspect each one.)
Vice President Kamala Harris, whose set of duties include immigration issues, has been mostly quiet on the tragedy, aside from sniping back at Texas’s governor. This would be an obvious moment for the Veep to get on a plane to Texas and say something—anything—about illegal immigration, the dire situation in many South American countries, and what the administration is doing to stop this tragedy from happening again.
→ The New Yorker thinks doorbell cameras are a conservative thing: A new cover meant to show the divide between red and blue America mostly shows how bizarre Brooklyn’s vision of the rest of the country is. Liberal Americans apparently have lovely old-timey doors and beautiful drapery and mail slots, while Conservative Americans have security cameras and doorbell cameras, and no mail slots, just signs that read: “You’re on camera!” I invite The New Yorker’s art team for a walk through my deep blue neighborhood in Los Angeles. (I also have some questions about both houses displaying an American flag.)
→ Swing voters swinging: More than 1 million voters have switched their registration from Democrat to Republican in the last year. There is a popular idea among Democratic thinkers in recent years that swing voters don’t exist or aren’t important, so politics can be about mobilizing the base with your wildest plans (giving much TGIF fodder). In this philosophy, thinking about nuance and softening your extremes is silly because the base loves the wild stuff! Republicans, whose more hardcore members have loads of unpopular ideas too (abolish gay marriage and ban IVF are the abolish the police of the right), are for now better at downplaying those bits. Voters are responding. This week, predictions for the outcomes of six more midterm congressional races moved toward the GOP.
→ West Hollywood votes to defund their police: If you love chaos, you’re going to love the new West Hollywood. While national Democrats are pretending they’ve never met the defund movement, liberal strongholds in the middle of cities are still gaining traction with ousting their cops. This week, West Hollywood’s City Council voted to modestly defund their police force, eliminating four deputies. The money will be spent on hiring 30 unarmed “security ambassadors”’ to walk around the neighborhood and also on making the sidewalk gay decorations more “inclusive.” Plus: $50,000 will go to rescue the city’s Russian Culture festival, which is in a tricky situation given the invasion of Ukraine and so will not actually celebrate Russia this year. True story: I was in West Hollywood recently in the middle of the day, and a nice man ran up to me and said you gotta go, there’s a dude with a machete heading toward us. And there was! So I ran! Right into a cafe for a cappuccino. I’m certainly not in charge of tackling the machete man. Can’t wait for an unarmed community ambassador to handle it.
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→ What an odd mistake: Hundreds of thousands of people in the state of California with a concealed carry permit have had their names, addresses, and other information leaked.
→ Oh no, disinformation people had a conference: I can’t believe I wasn’t invited for a summer in Oslo to meet with my reality czars. They call themselves the “fact-checking movement” and have formed an “International Fact-Checking Network” with regular conferences featuring big tech executives. And the Washington Post’s fact-checker is part of it. Funny because when I emailed the Washington Post’s corrections department to get comment on why they still hadn’t corrected the by now well-trodden inaccuracy in our favorite tech reporter’s work, the paper never wrote back. Some facts are more facts than other facts. Invite me to FactCon next year, guys.
→ George Washington University refuses to cancel Clarence Thomas: After students organized a petition to oust Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from his teaching role at George Washington University, the school responded by saying: Nope. And it works! If they did fire Thomas, then 100% the next drumbeat would be that they rename their school. (Cornell this week removed a bust of Abraham Lincoln and a plaque commemorating the Gettysburg Address.) No children’s book prepared me more for our current age than “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
→ Another detransitioner—and another lawsuit: The Sunday Times in London this week brings a devastating account from a young detransitioner, Ritchie Herron, who is suing the National Health Service after having his penis removed. He claims he was fast-tracked into a surgery that made him infertile and incontinent. It seems obvious to say that doctors ought to pause and try to understand what issues a patient may be facing beyond gender dysphoria before immediately removing someone’s penis. The only way the shoddy medical care around this is going to stop is through lawsuits.
Meanwhile, Ricci Tres, a Navy veteran who transitioned from male to female, absolutely crushed in a women’s skateboarding competition called The Boardr, held in New York. Second place was a 13-year-old girl. Tres denies having any advantages over the competition, telling the Daily Mail: “I don't think I have physical advantage. Look at me. I’m not buff or anything. . . . If I have any advantage it’s that I’m extremely determined.”
And, my favorite, a text from Melania Trump to her comms director:
This Week in Common Sense:
Biden’s Sex Police: Emily Yoffe reported on the Biden administration’s new Title IX guidelines, which effectively remove due process for college students accused of sexual misconduct.
The Post-Roe Era Begins: Right after the Court overturned Roe, Bari laid out some political practical questions about the future of America without a constitutional right to abortion. More than anything, she emphasized the importance of persuasion—not violence—in deeply emotional moments like this one.
What We’re Reading About Abortion: The next day, we compiled some of the most clear and compelling essays in the wake of the Dobbs decision. Read for a wide array of insights.
The January 6th Hearings Changed My Mind: Inflation is soaring and so is crime, so Batya Ungar-Sagon was skeptical of the January 6th hearings, which seemed irrelevant compared to the urgent issues Americans are facing. But watching the proceedings changed her mind.
The Women Who Have Choices. And Those Who Do Not: Suzy Weiss wrote a moving piece about the story of two 27-year-olds living in two realities in America after Dobbs.
This Week on Honestly:
We hosted a roundtable with two mothers, Katherine Mangu-Ward (pro-choice) and Bethany Mandel (pro-life) They were joined by Jeffrey Rosen, the head of the National Constitution Center. Listen here.
And dropping today: a conversation with Mike Pompeo about power and politics. Find it—and all of our episodes—here.
TGIF! And Happy Independence Day. See you next week.