He managed to outlive the great death of comedy of the post-2016 era
Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 was not a victory for comedy. Almost overnight, late night-talk show hosts became political pundits; stand-up comics metamorphosed into preachers; and once-hilarious film stars turned into the goons they were supposed to be mocking. With one exception, the worst thing to come out of it was a genre of Resistance comedy, in which Twitter stars lip-synced the president on Twitter to online adulation.
By 2017, even the almost irreverent South Park creators admitted they were struggling:
Another comedian agreed. “Trump is doing self-parody. Nothing looks dumber than parodying self-parody”. ...
The criminal justice system turns to public health concerns
This week, a Chicago judge ruled that the mother of an 11-year-old could no longer see her son because she was not vaccinated against Covid-19.
According to mother Rebecca Firlit, her vaccination status was not raised as an issue by her ex-husband in their child support hearing, but the judge decided that she posed a big enough health risk to her son that no physical contact would be granted. Until yesterday (when the decision was reversed), Firlit was only allowed to talk to her son on the phone. “I talk to him every day,” Firlit said, “He cries, he misses me. I send him care packages.” ...
The party's relentless focus on identity issues will come at an electoral cost
The British Green Party should be flying high right now. For decades the party has been warning about a looming climate crisis, the results of which are now grimly playing out.
Politically, Boris Johnson’s mixed record in office and Keir Starmer’s lacklustre leadership have left an opening for challenger parties. And having secured nearly a million votes in the 2019 election and a record number of council seats in this year’s local elections, this could be the Greens’ moment.
And yet in the polls, the Greens are still on single digits, languishing below the Liberal Democrats. The party is also leaderless, following the resignations of its two co-leaders last month. ...
Both have bumbling, grandfatherly public personas, which they use to full effect
This week, a clip has been circulating of Joe Biden driving away after a reporter questioned him about Israel. Here is an excerpt of the conversation:
“Mr President, can I ask you a quick question about Israel before you drive away because it’s so important?”
“No, you can’t. Not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it! I’m only teasing… Ok here we go – you ready?”
“Let’s see it sir!”
What is revealing about this interaction isn’t Biden threatening to run over a journalist (he is obviously joking) or even his ducking of the question. It is the behaviour of the journalists, who swoon and coo at the sight of a 78-year-old man speeding off in an electric pick-up. More peculiar still is the applause that follows, with one particularly awestruck reporter muttering “that’s fantastic”. ...
New research shows that even their own voters don't like it
Are Democrats too woke for voters? It’s a charge that’s often levelled at the party from outside – and within. Most recently, former Bill Clinton adviser and Democratic strategist James Carville accused the Democrats of using “faculty language” that alienated ordinary voters. Suggesting that using terms like “Latinx” was “not how people talk”, Carville said that race needed to be addressed through a different lens:
Carville isn’t the only one. A few days ago, former Democratic senator and presidential candidate and Tulsi Gabbard implored Americans to “please stop the racialisation of everyone and everything”. ...
The two former PMs have given their blessing to a new terrorism report
“Extremists are gaining the upper hand” booms today’s Times editorial by Sara Khan, the commissioner to counter extremism and Sir Mark Rowley, former head of counter-terrorism policing. The pair argue that the UK should take a ‘tougher line on extremism’ with legislation that eliminates the gap in our laws between terrorism, which is already illegal, and extremist activity that ‘stops short of the definition of terrorism’.
The editorial is the latest in a long line of articles and think pieces calling for tougher action on online extremism. But what gives this one an added punch is that it has received the blessing of two former prime ministers, David Cameron and Tony Blair, and faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi and the chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board. ...
A report on high levels of vaccine hesitancy inadvertently shows the opposite
A newly published study by King’s College London investigates the link between lockdown scepticism and vaccine hesitancy, suggesting that people who trust prominent lockdown sceptics are less likely to get the vaccine.
Listing a full gamut of influential Covid voices — ranging from Sir Patrick Vallance to David Icke — on who respondents trust, the survey asks a series of vaccine-related questions, such as whether respondents’ vaccine scepticism would put them off a Covid vaccine:
Half (52%) of those who trust David Icke say that opposition to vaccines in general is likely to persuade them not to get a Covid vaccine, as do significant minorities of people who trust other lockdown sceptics like Denise Welch (40%), Laurence Fox (33%) and Nigel Farage (31%). ...
New research presents an entirely different picture
Nigel Farage, Toby Young, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Allison Pearson, Dan Hannan… what do these names have in common? They are all prominent lockdown sceptics, but also (in what seems like a lifetime ago) ardent Brexiteers.
On the face of it, support for Brexit and lockdown scepticism have much in common: an anti-establishment feeling, pro-business and a streak of libertarianism.
But new research from King’s College London presents an entirely different picture. According to the paper, there is no link between lockdown scepticism and pro-Brexit values — in fact, it is quite the opposite. Based on a survey of roughly 2,000 people, researchers asked questions based on 10 values — universalism, benevolence, tradition/conformity, security, power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation and self-direction — to explain a large range of attitudes and behaviours, including political ones. ...