Greetings on Monday, October 24, 2022, and National Bologna Day. (I prefer “Baloney”). It is tolerable on a sandwich, and can be fried, as it often is in the southern U.S.:
It’s also the start of Diwali, an important Hindu holiday that lasts five days, World Tripe Day, National Good & Plenty Day (a candy I used to eat in the movies as a child), Food Day, International Day of Diplomats, United Nations Day, the anniversary of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, and World Polio Day.
Remember this Good & Plenty commercial? If you do, you’re a geezer!
Readers are invited to add in the comments notable events that happened on this day; to do so, look at the October 24 Wikipedia page.
*Da Nooz is not so good this week, unless you’re a Republican. But let’s start with something that seems a bit good. FIRE has forced the University of Minnesota Medical School to stop requiring a ludicrous ideological “white coat” pledge seen in the tweet-video below (I wrote about it here; FIRE writes about it here). But they didn’t do away with that batty pledge: no, the University only assured FIRE that no student would be punished for refusing to say it. I doubt, though, that they were punished before. From FIRE’s report:
Thankfully, the senior associate general counsel at UMMS assured FIRE that students “who decline to participate in the oath are free to do so without pressure or repercussion.” We’re glad to hear the university clarify that “[f]irst-year medical students are not required to recite the oath or participate in it in any way, and their progress in medical school does not depend on the recitation of the oath.”
But were there “repercussions” before?
Congratulations to FIRE on another important campus free speech victory. Students at UMN Med School will not be required to say an ideologized oath. The truth is there should NOT BE ideologized oaths, particularly at state and other non-sectarian institutions. https://t.co/iLDxvyV8Qg
— Robert P. George🇻🇦🇺🇸🪕 (@McCormickProf) October 22, 2022
*The midterm elections are drawing nigh, and the closer we get, the better the prognostication for the GOP. Here are some data from Five Thirty Eight, and if you’ve been following along in the past several months, you can see that the probability that the Republicans will win the Senate have increased (though still less than 50 out of 100 simulations), while the House seems more likely than ever to go to the GOP (80 out of 100 simulations).
In a three-minute video on the site addressing this shift, Galen Duke expatiates on”Why Republicans’ odds of controlling Congress have improved.” The answer is, as you expect, “it’s the economy, stupid!” Polling voters revealed that inflation and the economy were by far the most important issues: 44% of voters considered this the most important issue, while all other issues (including abortion) were in the single digits. The Republican party is viewed by American voters as being more “reliable” on the economy—by a long shot.
And the Master himself, Nate Silver, wrote a piece called “Why I’m telling my friends that the Senate is a toss-up.”
But let’s get real. If a friend asked me to characterize the Senate race, I’d say “it’s pretty fucking close,” and emphasize that neither party has much of an advantage. Here’s why.
For one thing, as of Thursday afternoon, Republicans realized a slight lead (of 0.1 percentage points) in the FiveThirtyEight generic ballot average for the first time since Aug. 2.
Obviously, a lead of a tenth of a percentage point isn’t much. The advantage may have flipped back by the time that you’re reading this. But the tied generic ballot overstates the case for Democrats. That’s because our polling average takes generic ballot polls as they come, which are a combination of polls of likely voters, registered voters and all adults. Our model, however, takes an additional step and adjusts polls of registered voters and adults to make them more similar to polls of likely voters, which this year have been more favorable to Republicans. So a tie on the generic ballot among all polls translates to a slight GOP lead with the likely voter adjustment.
. . . But the main reason why I think of the race for control of the Senate as a toss-up — rather than slightly favoring Democrats — is because there’s been steady movement toward the GOP in our model over the past few weeks. In principle, past movement shouldn’t predict future movement in our forecast and it should instead resemble a random walk. (We put a lot of effort in our modeling into trying to minimize autocorrelation.) This year, though, the forecast has moved in a predictable-seeming way, with a long, slow and steady climb toward Democrats over the summer, and now a consistent shift back toward Republicans.
. . . But the bottom line is this: If you’d asked me a month ago — or really even a week ago — which party’s position I’d rather be in, I would have said the Democrats. Now, I honestly don’t know.
*I suppose this is good news for Brits, though I really know nothing about Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer who’s the overwhelmingly favored candidate to succeed the ephemeral Liz Truss for Prime Minister now that Boris Johnson’s stated that he’s not having another go at the job.
In a statement, Mr. Johnson said he believed he had a path to victory in the contest to replace Ms. Truss. But he said, “I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do.”
Mr. Johnson said he did not believe he could govern effectively without a unified party in Parliament. Despite what he said were his efforts to reach out to Mr. Sunak and his other rival, Penny Mordaunt, “we have sadly not been able to work out a way to do this.”
Mr. Johnson’s decision ends a feverish couple of days in which he mounted a lively bid to reclaim the job he gave up three months ago amid a cascade of scandals. The former prime minister’s campaign never gained momentum, however, as prominent members of the Conservative Party threw their support to Mr. Sunak as a better option to try to reunite a deeply divided party.
Mr. Sunak, who formally declared his candidacy with a promise to “fix our economy,” had lined up at least 146 votes by late Sunday afternoon, according to a tally by the BBC, more than double the 57 votes pledged to Mr. Johnson.
Sunak is only 42, and previously lost to Truss in a contest for the Tory party leadership. I’m woefully ignorant of British politics, but I’m guessing he’d be the first Prime Minister of Indian ancestry.
*Over at the NYT, conservative columnist Ross Douthat analyzes what he sees as “The three blunders of Joe Biden.” Two of them involve his unexpected adherence to what the “progressive” wing of his party favors, the other one, according to Douthat, a failure to compromise with Republicans.
The first fateful course began, as Matthew Continetti noted recently in The Washington Free Beacon, in the initial days of the administration, when Biden made critical decisions on energy and immigration that his party’s activists demanded: for environmentalists, a moratorium on new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and, for immigration advocates, a partial rollback of key Trump administration border policies.
What followed, in both arenas, was a crisis: first a surge of migration to the southern border, then the surge in gas prices driven by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
. . .The second key failure also belongs to the administration’s early days. In February 2021, when congressional Democrats were preparing a $1.9 trillion stimulus, a group of Republican senators counteroffered with a roughly $600 billion proposal. Flush with overconfidence, the White House spurned the offer and pushed three times as much money into the economy on a party-line vote.
What followed was what a few dissenting center-left economists, led by Larry Summers, had predicted: the worst acceleration of inflation in decades, almost certainly exacerbated by the sheer scale of the relief bill. Whereas had Biden taken the Republicans up on their proposal or even simply counteroffered and begun negotiations, he could have started his administration off on the bipartisan footing his campaign had promised while hedging against the inflationary dangers that ultimately arrived.
. . .The third failure is likewise a failure to hedge and triangulate, but this time on culture rather than economic policy. Part of Biden’s appeal as a candidate was his longstanding record as a social moderate — an old-school, center-left Catholic rather than a zealous progressive.
His presidency has offered multiple opportunities to actually inhabit the moderate persona. On transgender issues, for instance, the increasing qualms of European countries about puberty blockers offered potential cover for Biden to call for greater caution around the use of medical interventions for gender-dysphoric teenagers. Instead, his White House has chosen to effectively deny that any real debate exists, positioning the administration to the left of Sweden.
Then there is the Dobbs decision, whose unpopularity turned abortion into a likely political winner for Democrats — provided, that is, that they could cast themselves as moderates and Republicans as zealots.
Biden could have led that effort, presenting positions he himself held in the past — support for Roe v. Wade but also for late-term restrictions and the Hyde Amendment — as the natural national consensus, against the pro-life absolutism of first-trimester bans. Instead, he’s receded and left Democratic candidates carrying the activist line that absolutely no restrictions are permissible, an unpopular position perfectly designed to squander the party’s post-Roe advantage.
. . . A strong president, by definition, should be able to pull his party toward the center when politics demands it. So if Biden feels he can’t do that, it suggests that he’s internalized his own weakness and accepted in advance what probably awaits the Democrats next month: defeat.
There would probably be general Democratic defeats regardless of this, of course, because it’s the mid-term elections.
*I’d almost forgotten about the knife attack on Salman Rushdie that happened last August at a New York literary festival. For a long time many of us thought he wouldn’t make it. But he did, and lives on—minus one eye and the use of a hand.
Literary agent Andrew Wylie told the Spanish language newspaper El Pais in an article published Saturday that Rushdie suffered three serious wounds to his neck and 15 more wounds to his chest and torso in the attack that took away sight in an eye and left a hand incapacitated.
. . . Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, has been incarcerated after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and assault in the Aug. 12 attack on Rushdie as he was being introduced at the Chautauqua Institution, a rurally located center 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Buffalo that is known for its summertime lecture series.
fter the attack, Rushdie was treated at a Pennsylvania hospital, where he was briefly put on a ventilator to recover from what Wylie told El Pais was a “brutal attack” that cut nerves to one arm.
. . Wylie told the newspaper he could not say whether Rushdie remained in a hospital or discuss his whereabouts.
“He’s going to live … That’s the important thing,” Wylie said.
. . . The attack was along the lines of what Rushie and his agent have thought was the “principal danger … a random person coming out of nowhere and attacking,” Wylie told El Pais.
In a jailhouse interview with The New York Post, Matar said he disliked Rushdie and praised Khomeini. Iran has denied involvement in the attack.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is on her own:
A: What are you doing?Hili: I delight in solitude.
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Rozkoszuję się samotnością.
A Leigh Rubin cartoon from Jesus of the Day:
An excellent Scott Metzger cartoon from Merilee:
The Tweet of God. I don’t quite understand this one:
If Jesus were alive today, he'd be dead tomorrow.
— God (Thee/Thy) (@TheTweetOfGod) October 22, 2022
From Masih, showing another act prohibited by the Islamic Republic:
A woman sent this video from Karaj, Iran. In Islamic Republic, Girls & boys are segregated from age of 7. it’s forbidden for men & women to hug each other, to shake hands and attend a mix parties. This couple are breaking law just by hugging.#MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/zYAPTx4A4A
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 22, 2022
I wish this were me!
Me every morning 😴 pic.twitter.com/nKmBGMA2ed
— why you should have a duck 🦆 (@shouldhaveaduck) October 15, 2022
From Gravelinspector: a tweet from the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, who inhabits 10 Downing Street:
— Ffin Cymru 🇺🇦🏴 The Welsh Border (@BorderCymru) October 22, 2022
From Malcom. Yes, this is the face of an ant, and it would make a good horror movie were it the size of Godzilla:
Face of an ant
📸: Eugenijus Kavaliauskas/Nikon Small World pic.twitter.com/GgXBcu5Pi9
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) October 21, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: a family gasse:
23 October 1943 | A transport of 1,035 Jews deported from Rome arrived at #Auschwitz. After the selection 149 men & 47 women were registered in the camp. The remaining 839 people were murdered in gas chambers.
Mario, Mara Cesira & Sandro Sonnino among them. pic.twitter.com/cfbTEL8Z4G
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 23, 2022
Tweets from Matthew: A lovely stag:
— Stuart Parker (@StuartMParker) October 22, 2022
Two Cats of Yore held by disgruntled women. There are more in the thread.
This badass lady from my personal collection. No date/other info known. pic.twitter.com/nNACL8EOD3
— Cats of Yore (@CatsOfYore) October 23, 2022
No wonder the Ukrainians are holding back the Russians!
— Viktor Kovalenko (@MrKovalenko) October 20, 2022