Never Leave

Prior to these hearings, Republicans tried to claim that tonight was going to be a nothingburger. They were wrong. … It was such a juicy burger that Fox News knew that even their viewers would be tempted to take a bite. Which is why — and this is true — for the first hour of his show opposite the hearings, Tucker Carlson took no commercial breaks. [Neither did Sean Hannity.] Do you understand what that means? Fox News is willing to lose money to keep their viewers from flipping over and accidentally learning information. … But I’m not surprised. That’s the first rule of any cult: Never leave the compound.

Stephen Colbert

This week’s featured post is “The 1-6 hearings begin.

This week everybody was talking about the 1-6 hearing

If you only get one thing out of these hearings, it should be a response you can give to anybody on social media who thinks Trump really won the 2020 election: “Not even Ivanka believes that.”

I cover the first hearing in the featured post. The second hearing is going on as I write this, but I’m writing rather than watching, so I’ll have to cover it next week.

In the featured post I mentioned the WSJ’s opinion that Trump is morally but not criminally responsible for the 1-6 insurrection. Arkansas’ Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson is taking that line as well.

and Ukraine

Russian forces continue to advance slowly into eastern Ukraine, with high casualties on both sides. From the outside, it’s hard to tell who can keep this up longer.

and the pandemic

Two trends are fighting each other, so national case numbers are more-or-less flat, as a continuing decline in the Northeast is canceled out by increases in other regions. Hospitalizations are bending upwards, and deaths have been bouncing around in a 250-400 daily range for nearly two months.

and Senate compromises

Bipartisan committees of senators have reached compromises in two areas: mass shootings and revising the Electoral Count Act that Trump tried to abuse on 1-6.

The mass-shooting compromise gives credibility (probably more than they deserve) to Republican talking points about mental health and school vulnerability as causes. Vox summarizes:

The framework itself is heavy on mental health interventions, like setting aside funding for in-school mental health and support services, as well as telehealth services for individuals and families in mental health crisis. It also calls for a national expansion of community mental health services for children and families. … [A]lthough the framework is thin on details, it suggests investing in “programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.”

But there is some gun control included as well. One carefully worded part of the framework:

Provides resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections.

It also may close the “boyfriend loophole” in an existing law that prevents gun ownership by people under restraining orders for domestic violence, and also enhance background checks for gun purchasers under 21 years old.

Everything depends on the final wording, which remains to be worked out. Any of the ten Republicans involved in the negotiations could torpedo a bill, since all ten would be needed to break a filibuster.

According to Susan Collins, the group negotiating to revise the Electoral Count Act

has already drafted language that would make clear that the vice president’s role is ministerial in the process of counting Electoral College votes. The new language also raises the threshold for triggering a challenge to a state’s slate from one member in each chamber to 20% of the members in each body. There would be a majority vote for sustaining an objection.

and you also might be interested in …

The May consumer price index came in higher than expected: Inflation is running at 8.6%. Many economists had been theorizing that the peak inflation rate had been reached in March. But apparently not.

Obviously, this is an issue that drives down Biden’s approval numbers, but it’s not clear what he can do, what he should have done in the past, or what Republicans would do differently. Inflation would probably be lower if the American Rescue Plan hadn’t passed, but unemployment would be considerably higher. I doubt that would be a win for the country.

Inflation is happening around the world, and is worse in many other countries than it is here.

Some Republicans want to blame Build Back Better or even the Green New Deal for inflation, but it’s hard to see how that’s possible, since neither of them passed Congress.

In view of the attempted right-wing coup being exposed by the 1-6 Committee hearings, the ongoing rash of mass shootings caused by our insane gun culture, and the pandemic that has already killed a million Americans, it makes perfect sense that Republicans would want to focus on … kids going to drag shows.

Yep, that’s this week’s outrage, and public officials like Ron DeSantis are talking about siccing child protective services on parents who allow such a thing.

Because apparently seeing men dress like women will do some kind of permanent damage to a minor. I can’t quite imagine what, but probably my imagination has been stunted by my childhood trauma of seeing Flip Wilson’s Geraldine character, Corporal Klinger in MASH, and various Monty Python men-dressed-as-women skits. An earlier generation of American youth had to recover from seeing Milton Berle in a dress, as well as Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot.

It’s a miracle the Republic has survived.

A related outrage I forgot to mention last week: Right-thinking folks are boycotting Pizza Hut because the Hut’s Book-It program (to encourage children to read more) endorsed the book Big Wig, about a boy who creates a drag character. I personally favor local pizza places, so I’ve been unofficially boycotting the national chains for many years. But if you find yourself ready to flip a coin between chain pizzerias, you might want to give the Hut an edge.

A question to meditate on: Unless they go bare-chested at the beach, women dressing like men is hardly ever a big moral issue, and a kids’ book about a girl creating a hyper-masculine fantasy character wouldn’t be worth national attention. Why is that? Extra credit if your answer also accounts for the Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. Old Testament), which denounces gay men but doesn’t mention lesbians.

A guy was arrested Wednesday for plotting to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It’s kind of a bizarre story: He called 911 on himself, and gave the police his description. He was arrested with multiple weapons. As motive, he cited both the Court’s pending decision to reverse Roe v Wade and the possibility that Kavanaugh might vote to loosen gun laws.

My IRL friend Abby Hafer has published an article fleshing out one of the strongest arguments for abortion rights: The law should not be able to commandeer parts of one person’s body, even to save the life of another person. In “Do pregnant women have fewer rights than the dead?” she points out that not even a corpse can be forced to donate a kidney or liver unless permission was granted before death.

Yet the anti-abortion lobby feels that [a pregnant woman] must donate her entire body, and not for her own good. She is being required to make this sacrifice of her own organs and tissues without her consent, in order to help someone else, even though our society does not require this at any other time, from any other kind of person.

Poland is an example of what can happen when anti-abortion radicals get their way. The NYT tells the story of Izabela Sajbor, who died of sepsis after her water broke prematurely, and doctors refused to intervene for fear of killing her fetus. Shortly before dying, Sajbor wrote something that echoes Abby’s point:

They cannot help as long as the fetus is alive thanks to the anti-abortion law. A woman is like an incubator.

and let’s close with something to make us all feel smarter by comparison

People under pressure tend to say stupid things — like when they’re on TV, a clock is running, and a game show host is looking at them expectantly.

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  • rwforce  On June 13, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    “A question to meditate on: Unless they go bare-chested at the beach, women dressing like men is hardly ever a big moral issue,”
    When I was in college (Iowa State, 59-63) women were forbidden to wear slacks to class unless the temperature was below zero. Not lady-like.

    • weeklysift  On June 15, 2022 at 7:38 am

      I remember that era, which lasted into the 70s. But to me that seemed to be about propriety than morals. Children weren’t going to be harmed by seeing women in slacks.

  • David Weissbard  On June 13, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Is Steve’s House of Pizza still going in Bedford?

    • weeklysift  On June 15, 2022 at 7:34 am

      I believe so. Express Pizza on Loomis is in walking distance, so that’s where I usually end up going.

  • tony prost  On June 19, 2022 at 10:24 am

    Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. Old Testament), which denounces gay men but doesn’t mention lesbians. The patriarchs had no idea what was going on back in the harem tent.

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