I’ll be writing this between bouts with the lights. The Marshall Tree was supposed to go up a week ago, then it rained, so the thing had to dry out. Then last week was consumed with an expert witness report, and now this weird tree with long needles and soft branches is standing in my living room, and none of my usual decoration techniques, and probably only 30% of our ornaments, will work with the damn thing. Yesterday I was supposed to hang the lights, and I was so stressed out I couldn’t do it. But today is the day…
1. Anyone surprised at this? A December survey by the international organization More in Common seemed to show that citizens on the far left are the most likely to report negative feelings about the United States.. Only 34% of the group More in Common calls “progressive activists” agreed with the statement “I feel proud to be American.” It was the only ideological group in the survey that agreed with that statement at a rate below 60%
All other respondent groups, including minorities and Americans identifying as politically conservative, strongly agreed with the statement, including 70% of black Americans and 76% of Hispanic Americans. Whites registered a 75% proportion asserting patriotic pride.
100% of the group categorized as “devoted conservatives” said that they take pride in being Americans. 80% of all respondents surveyed said they were thankful to be American, with more than two-thirds reporting a connection to their local communities and fellow Americans. The weakest sense of belonging to the culture and community came from progressive activists and younger respondents.
2. On priority for vaccines...I have read a lot of unethical nonsense being framed as ethics about the question of who should get the vaccine first. I expect to read a lot more. A Times article on the topic says, “Ultimately, the choice comes down to whether preventing death or curbing the spread of the virus and returning to some semblance of normalcy is the highest priority.” Is that really a difficult choice? Obviously the top priority for society in both the long and the short run is to get back to normal as quickly as possible, not to prioritize trying to delay the mortality of citizens who don’t have that long to live anyway. I haven’t heard the “if it saves just one life” rationalization yet, but I’m sure it is coming.
Then there is this: “To me the issue of ethics is very significant, very important for this country,” Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a committee member and a pediatrics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said at the time, “and clearly favors the essential worker group because of the high proportion of minority, low-income and low-education workers among essential workers.”
There it is: let’s prioritize by race, because not prioritizing by race is racist.
3. If the only news source I read was the New York Times, I would have no idea that Rep. Eric Swalwell had an affair with a Chinese spy. This story is fascinating and fun for many reasons. Swalwell was one of the most over-the-moon accusers of President Trump for having alleged ties to Russia; he’s also on the House Intelligence Committee, making having intimate relations with a foreign spy problematical, but also pinging that other meaning of “intelligence,” as in “What an idiot!” And yet the Times has not reported the story, though Axios, not exactly a conservative cheer-leader, reported two weeks ago that a former campaign bundler and romantic interest of Swalwell’s, Christine Fang, worked on behalf of the Communist Chinese government as part of a significant influence operation.
Searching the New York Times website for articles about the alleged scandal turned up nothing then, and turn up nothing now. “The New York Times has yet to inform its readers that Congressman Eric Swalwell, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, had a relationship with a Chinese spy,” former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted about the lack of coverage back on December 11. “Journalism is broken.”
Gee, Ari, what was your first clue? And if it was broken on eleven days ago, what is it now?
Reporting of Swalwell’s conduct has provoked growing calls from Republicans to remove Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee. On Friday, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was given an FBI briefing on the matter alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While Pelosi left the meeting without making comments to reporters, McCarthy left sounding more convinced than ever that Swalwell should be stripped of the assignment.
“He should not be on Intel,” McCarthy said as he left the briefing. “I just think there are definitely 200 other Democrats that I know could fill that place.”
Swalwell, a primary culprit in weaponizing his role on the Intelligence Committee to perpetuate the Russia hoax — alongside California colleague Adam Schiff, who chairs the committee — has continued to deny any wrongdoing and has reverted a favorite Democratic Party narrative of collusion accusing Trump of leaking the story to Axios. Despite the calls from more than a dozen House lawmakers calling for Swalwell’s removal, including the House minority leader, combined with credible reporting on the scandal from outlets the Times has routinely cited for major stories, the legacy paper has yet to offer a single column to the blockbuster revelations. Given the Times’s relentless four-year coverage of the Russia hoax implicating President Trump as a covert agent of the Kremlin, however, one could easily imagine how the paper might react differently had the representative in Swalwell’s seat held an “R” next to their name.
4. If you have a choice about where you’re going to kill someone, I suggest picking Great Britain over the U.S.
The Minnesota Board of Pardons last week commuted the life sentence of Myon Burrell, who was sentenced to life in prison as a minor. Burrell was accused at 16 off fatally shooting an 11-year old girl who was struck by a stray bullet while doing her homework inside her family’s Minneapolis home. A year long investigation by The Associated Press and American Public Media published earlier this year revealed new evidence and numerous irregularities in the handling of the case, including the absence of fingerprint and DNA evidence, and a missing murder weapon. The case against Burrell built on a teen rival who gave conflicting accounts of the shooting; later, police turned to jailhouse informants, some of whom say they were coached and have since recanted. Some key evidence is missing; other key evidence was never located obtained. The chief homicide detective in the case was even caught on camera offering cash for information.
Burrell was certified as an adult and placed in solitary confinement. After he turned 17 a year after the investigation into the killing of Tyesha Edwards began, the black teen was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. That 2003 conviction was thrown out on appeal, but Burrell was convicted again in 2008 and sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.
The Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted the now 34-year-old’s life sentence to 20 years, saying he could serve out the rest of the time on immediate supervised release.
Oh, about Great Britain: in the recent Netflix documentary about the Yorkshire Ripper, who brutally butchered thirteen women, the sentencing judge is quoted as apologizing for giving the serial killer, who confessed, a 30-year sentence, which he described as “unusually harsh.”