Molly Jong-Fast/Vanity Fair:

Why Is It So Hard to Return to Normal?

But the problem with “getting back to normal” seems to be two-fold. One problem is that some people don’t want to go back to normal. As Anders Melin and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou noted in Bloomberg, “A May survey of 1,000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work.” Working from home has created a culture of families that eat lunch together, of pets that enjoy midday strolls, of life that is just a little bit calmer. My husband, who used to spend one week a month in California for work, no longer makes his regular cross-country trips. As Sigal Samuel writes for Vox, “The pandemic has proven that remote work is totally feasible for many jobs, validating people’s suspicions that our standard model of office work is arbitrary, unnecessarily taxing, and ultimately exploitative, sometimes forcing people to choose between their well-being and their career.” Why go back to the elements of normal life which were, in themselves, completely pointless?

Politico Magazine:

How Political Parties Can Win Converts

Political parties rarely run ads to try to win over long-term loyalists. New research suggests it’s actually possible—and worthwhile.

Eighteen percent of Americans do not affiliate with either party; among eligible voters under 30, there are nearly 10 million such people. Winning over those voters, as well as converts from the other side, would be a huge boon for either party. Loyalists don’t only vote for the party in one election, after all. They vote for the party in every election, up and down the ballot, year after year. And this kind of behavior isn’t on the wane: The last election featured the lowest levels of ticket-splitting in decades. In our polarized age, partisanship—and party loyalists—rule.

Yet, remarkably, neither party devotes substantial advertising effort to cultivating converts. Roughly $8.5 billion was spent on TV and digital ads in the 2020 election, but those ads were almost entirely focused on candidates and policies, not partisan attachments. If the parties want to be smarter about how they spend their advertising dollars, our findings suggest they should consider focusing at least as much on building party identity as they do on supporting individual candidates.


Adam Serwer/Atlantic:

The Capitol Rioters Won

Although some Republican leaders deplored their violence, most have come to support the rioters’ claim that Trump’s defeat meant the election was inherently illegitimate.

But Republicans are not blocking a bipartisan January 6 commission because they fear Trump, or because they want to “move on” from 2020. They are blocking a January 6 commission because they agree with the underlying ideological claim of the rioters, which is that Democratic electoral victories should not be recognized. Because they regard such victories as inherently illegitimate—the result of fraud, manipulation, or the votes of people who are not truly American—they believe that the law should be changed to ensure that elections more accurately reflect the will of Real Americans, who by definition vote Republican. They believe that there is nothing for them to investigate, because the actual problem is not the riot itself but the unjust usurpation of power that occurred when Democrats won. Absent that provocation, the rioters would have stayed home.


Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg:

Trump’s Planned Return Isn’t Really a Joke

By several reports, the former president is talking about being “reinstated” to office this year. Don’t laugh it off.

It’s tempting to treat the whole thing as a joke. But there are reasons to take it seriously. Political science Twitter takes us through it:

Seth Masket: “If Trump is trying to recruit allies for his reinstatement, at what point to we treat this not as a delusion but as a coup attempt? He kinda has priors.”

Lilly Goren: “Usually this turns into a civil war of some kind, at least if the deposed king is still wandering around. #Machiavelli had a lot to say about what to do with bloodlines, though that was much more in keeping with principalities and monarchies and not elected democracies/republics.”


Magdi Semrau/Editorial Board:

There is no causal link—none—between ‘defund the police’ and the rise of murder rates nationally

Anyone saying otherwise is just making things up, writes Magdi Semrau.

Well, first of all, contrary to Republican propaganda, violent crime is not generally on the rise. Homicides and aggravated assaults have risen—and this is concerning—but other forms of violent crime are actually in decline. Additionally, while we might be seeing the beginning of an actual increase in homicide and aggravated assaults, we can’t really tell at this point. Crime rates fluctuate quite a bit from year to year, so we can’t actually extrapolate a broader pattern based on one or two increases. Such fluctuations also seem extreme given that violent crime is a low probability event.

To put this in context, the homicide rate in the United States has dramatically fallen since the 1990s. However, within this decline, there have still been fluctuations, which can be seen in data from the FBI. Homicides rose after 2000 and declined after 2007, culminating in a record low in 2014. Homicide rates then rose again in 2015, before beginning a decline in 2017. Even the surges were below 90s levels. That said, however, “HOMICIDE SPIKE” makes a much more compelling than the real story, which is this: there is a lot of variation and criminologists can’t completely account for it.


Donald G McNeil Jr/Medium:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Lab-Leak Theory*

For about a year, that was the general wisdom among science writers. The “lab-leak theory” migrated back to the far right where it had started — championed by the folks who brought us Pizzagate, the Plandemic, Kung Flu, Q-Anon, Stop the Steal, and the January 6 Capitol invasion. It was tarred by the fact that everyone backing it seemed to hate not just Democrats and the Chinese Communist Party, but even the Chinese themselves. It spawned racist rumors like “Chinese labs sell their dead experimental animals in food markets.”

And now to the present day.

An excellent timeline.


Republicans dive into politically fraught push for Covid’s origin story

Some want to lean on President Joe Biden’s party over the theory that the pandemic began as a lab accident. Others want to tread more carefully.

Republicans finally found a commission they can get behind.

Feeling vindicated after Democrats, scientists and the media gave new oxygen to the theory that the coronavirus was born out of a laboratory accident in China, Republicans are now ramping up efforts to prod President Joe Biden’s party into opening a thorough investigation into the origins of the virus — through an independent commission or at the congressional level.



JBS Cyberattack Shines A Spotlight On The Biggest Risk To Big Meat: Consolidation

But it begs the question: why is America’s meat supply so at risk of price fluctuations and shortages in the first place? The answer is simple: the industry is too consolidated. More than 80% of the beef industry is controlled by just four companies—JBS, Tyson, Cargill and National (owned by Brazil’s Marfrig)—and two of them are foreign businesses. Brazil-based JBS is responsible for a quarter of the U.S. beef market through its JBS USA subsidiary. The company is the country’s largest beef producer and its No. 2 producer of pork and chicken. That hyper-concentration makes any shocks to the system feel seismic.

That kind of concentrated control, flagged by critics as a national security threat for years, is currently being investigated in Congress. JBS acquired iconic American meat-packing assets in the past decade, largely from corrupt funds and a bribery scheme in Brazil, and has been weighing a U.S. IPO. It’s unclear whether JBS paid a ransom, as was the case with the attack on the Colonial Pipeline last month, which led to gas shortages in several states. Colonial Pipeline paid the Russian hacking group DarkSide, which claimed responsibility for the hack, a reported $5 million.  


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