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Journal Archives

New WSJ Poll is devastating for DeSantis and his 'anti-woke' policies

"Florida is where woke goes to die," according to the Sunshine State's governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, who has based much of his expected 2024 presidential campaign on being "anti-woke."



But a new poll from The Wall Street Journal is devastating to many of the policies being promoted and enacted by Governor DeSantis in his "free state of Florida," calling into question how he and other Republicans who embrace his ideas will fare on the national stage.

"Patriotism, religious faith, having children and other priorities that helped define the national character for generations are receding in importance to Americans," warns the WSJ, with some on social media pointing to a graphic that purports to capture how much America has changed in the past 25 years. The importance of issues of patriotism, religion, having children, and community involvement have dropped dramatically across America. The one that has increased? Money. One Democratic strategist calls it "eye-popping."

Money is also the only issue on which Democrats and Republicans both agree.

But the real siren for Republicans comes in answers to so-called "culture war" questions. The gap between Democrats and Republicans, expectedly, is huge, but DeSantis – should he launch a presidential run – will confront conservative and independent voters (not to mention, of course, Democrats) who aren't as keen on, say, banning books, as he might like.

Asked, "Which of these concerns you more about schools today?," a whopping 61% chose "some schools may ban books and censor topics that are educationally important." Just 36% opted for "some schools may teach books and topics that some students or their parents feel are inappropriate or offensive." And more than half the country (56%) say they have some or a great deal of confidence in public schools. Just one-third (33%) said very little or none.


Molly Jong-Fast: Donald Trump Has Hijacked the News Cycle With Indictment Watch.

Since announcing his impending “arrest” (which hasn’t happened yet), the former president has resumed his role as the media’s main character—he’s even returning to Fox News—and has Republicans rallying behind him. It’s feeling eerily like 2016.



For the past week or so, we’ve been hostage to another strange Trump news cycle, a flashback to the many we lived through in the half dozen years between his escalator ride at Trump Tower to his helicopter exit from the White House. For a while, it looked like Donald Trump was out of our lives and retreating to his own Palm Elba. Now all of a sudden everything is 2016 again and we’re glued to CNN news alerts.

After initial reports of possible charges in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, the “Trump arrest” news cycle truly kicked into gear early on the morning of March 18 with post on Truth Social: “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” Two hours later, a spokesman said the former president had not written his post with direct knowledge of the timing of any arrest, while adding, “President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system.”

But it didn’t matter that Trump’s spokesman seemed to walk back Trump’s “truth,” as posts on his Truth Social platform are ironically called, or that “TUESDAY” (March 21) came and went with no indictment from the Manhattan DA’s office. (The grand jury is reportedly meeting again Monday.) None of those things mattered, as Trump, yet again, hijacked the news cycle—this time by announcing his impending arrest. As The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser wrote of this chaotic moment: “The political class’s collective capacity for analyzing and digesting events that have not yet occurred, which still might not occur, and whose details are presumably crucial to understanding how they will play out, was on full display.”

Here we get to the central dilemma of covering Trump. By virtue of the fact he was president, and is currently leading the 2024 Republican pack, much of what Trump says and does is arguably newsworthy. But Trump is at best a bad actor and at worst a complete sociopath, known to “flood the zone with shit” in the immortal words of Steve Bannon. So the idea that we, in the media, should take his word for it when he makes some wild claim seems at best misguided. Though it would be impossible to ignore a pending indictment of a former president, could the breathless, nonstop indictment watch have been avoided? Theoretically, yes? But there is a muscle memory many of us have from covering Trump, a kind of Stockholm syndrome from the constant nonstop flood of news. And it’s easy to fall back into old patterns.


Fake images of Trump arrest show 'giant step' for AI's disruptive power (the pics added as a bonus)

The tech’s capabilities and accessibility have vastly outpaced regulatory and legislative responses, as well as corporate controls



Eliot Higgins, the founder of the open-source investigative outlet Bellingcat, was reading this week about the expected indictment of Donald Trump when he decided he wanted to visualize it. He turned to an AI art generator, giving the technology simple prompts, such as, “Donald Trump falling down while being arrested.”

He shared the results — images of the former president surrounded by officers, their badges blurry and indistinct — on Twitter. “Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump’s arrest,” he wrote. “I was just mucking about,” Higgins said in an interview. “I thought maybe five people would retweet it.”

Two days later, his posts depicting an event that never happened have been viewed nearly 5 million times, creating a case study in the increasing sophistication of AI-generated images, the ease with which they can be deployed and their potential to create confusion in volatile news environments. The episode also makes evident the absence of corporate standards or government regulation addressing the use of AI to create and spread falsehoods.

“Policymakers have been warning for years about the potential misuse of synthetic media to spread disinformation and more generally to sow confusion and discord,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “While it took a few years for the capabilities to catch up, we’re now at a point where these tools are widely available and incredibly capable.”



Central Park Is the Newest Hotspot for Pickleball in NYC

The hottest new baddie of the sports world is taking over Wollman Rink.


Pickleball is the newest baddie of the sports world. And on the heels of the latest (and astonishing) statistic that there are more than 36 million picklers across the country, Wollman Rink and CityPickle have teamed up to transform the iconic Central Park rink into a temporary home for 14 bright blue pickleball courts.

From Friday, April 7 to Monday, October 9, New Yorkers will be able to play the mix of tennis, badminton, and ping pong at one of the city’s most legendary landmarks through hour-long court rentals (from $80 per hour) every day of the week from 7 am–9 pm.

For all the newbies out there, each game of pickleball spans around 10 to 15 minutes, so each rental period affords plenty of time for working on form and getting the competitive energies flowing. CityPickle, New York City’s official pickleball club, will also be offering $6 paddle rentals for those who haven’t committed to purchasing a personal kit. And if the shiny new courts inspire you to up your game, picklers can also sign up for lessons, clinics, leagues, and tournaments run by CityPickle.

CityPickle and Wollman Park Partners (Equinox, Related, HB Sports & Entertainment) are also behind meaningful programming with organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Boys Club of New York, YMCA of Greater New York, Solutions Now, and Fountain House to provide free play, coaching, and camps at the new courts, in an effort to uplift our local community. CityPickle at Wollman Rink opens on Friday, April 7 at 7 am in Central Park.


Hungary's 'propaganda machine' attacks women

Report highlights gendered disinformation online and calls for women-centred reform of ‘social media’ platforms.


Ágnes Kunhalmi, a vocal critic of Viktor Orbán, speaking with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, at the Party of European Socialists congress in Berlin last October

Women in Hungary who speak out against the autocratic actions of the government of Viktor Orbán face vicious misogynistic attacks online, according to a new report from #ShePersisted, a global initiative based in the United States combating gendered disinformation against women in politics. The study, A Perfect Propaganda Machine, investigates how Orbán’s far-right Fidesz party uses ‘social media’ to silence and undermine political opponents, especially women, through disinformation campaigns, online harassment and doxxing. The research involved interviews with Hungarian women political leaders, public figures and activists, as well as the monitoring of ‘social media’ in the country.

‘This “perfect propaganda machine” element was unique to Hungary,’ said the Italian gender expert Lucina Di Meco, co-founder of #ShePersisted and co-author of the report. ‘The media environment has been entirely taken over by the governing party.’ Since 2018, the Hungarian government has consolidated more than 450 media outlets under the pro-government Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA), which is controlled by an ex-Fidesz leader. Almost 78 per cent of Hungary’s news and public affairs media are pro-Fidesz, according to the media monitor Mertek.

Big Tech failure

Hungary is the first of five country case studies to be released in #ShePersisted’s ‘Monetising Misogyny’ series. The other countries are Brazil, India, Italy (whose report was published on the same day as Hungary’s, March 21st) and Tunisia. Across these countries, #ShePersisted found that Big Tech companies had failed to address gendered disinformation attacks against women in politics on their ‘social media’ platforms. The initiative is calling for the reform of digital-platform standards via negotiations driven by women leaders.

In Hungary, the most common disinformation narratives used against women in politics include portraying them as ‘untrustworthy’ or ‘foreign agents’ trying to ‘destroy conservative norms’, tied in some way to the Hungarian-American businessman and philanthropist George Soros, the report says. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, with whom Orbán often aligns himself in defending ‘traditional values’, banned Soros’ Open Society Foundation, along with other pro-democracy groups, from operating in Russia in 2015. Women leaders and activists who stand up for human rights and champion democracy are also denigrated as ‘unqualified’, ‘stupid’ and ‘unfit for office’, the report finds. They are further accused of misappropriating public funds for personal gain or acting as ‘weak puppets’ for powerful male leaders on the left.


Profit margins of US companies have reached levels not seen since the aftermath of WWII

Unchecked corporate pricing power is a factor in US inflation


There is a strong correlation between the rising share of corporate profits in gross domestic product and the sharp price rises in the US after the Covid pandemic, according to a paper published by the University of Massachusetts.

Having made windfall profits on the back of commodity price fluctuations and supply bottlenecks, large companies have been emboldened to raise prices further to increase profit margins.

They found that there was little evidence that the models used to explain the inflation of the 1970s — such as excess aggregate demand, money supply expansion or increased wage costs that prompted a spiral — applied to this recent rise. Covid-19 price rises are predominantly a sellers’ inflation, they say. Where cost increases are being experienced by all their competitors, companies have felt safe to pass them on in the expectation of an “implicit agreement” that rivals will do the same.

Library of America Presents: Back to the Future Is Female!: Visionary women science fiction writers.

From Pulp Era pioneers to the radical innovators of the 1960s and ’70s, visionary women writers have been a transformative force in American science fiction. For Women’s History Month, acclaimed SF authors Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Pamela Sargent, and Sheree Renée Thomas join Lisa Yaszek, editor of LOA’s The Future Is Female!, for a conversation about the writers who smashed the genre’s gender barrier to create worlds and works that remain revolutionary.

We thank our promotional partners: the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, Dottir Press, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association.

The Library of America (LOA) is a non-profit publisher of classic American literature. Founded in 1979 with seed money from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the LOA has published over 300 volumes by authors ranging from Mark Twain to Philip Roth, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Saul Bellow, including selected writing of several U.S. presidents.

The Paranoid Style in American Politics - by Richard Hofstadter (Harper's Magazine, 1964)

It had been around a long time before the Radical Right discovered it—and its targets have ranged from “the international bankers” to Masons, Jesuits, and munitions makers.


American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent. Here is Senator McCarthy, speaking in June 1951 about the parlous situation of the United States:

Now turn back fifty years to a manifesto signed in 1895 by a number of leaders of the Populist party:

Next, a Texas newspaper article of 1855:

These quotations give the keynote of the style. In the history of the United States one find it, for example, in the anti-Masonic movement, the nativist and anti-Catholic movement, in certain spokesmen of abolitionism who regarded the United States as being in the grip of a slaveholders’ conspiracy, in many alarmists about the Mormons, in some Greenback and Populist writers who constructed a great conspiracy of international bankers, in the exposure of a munitions makers’ conspiracy of World War I, in the popular left-wing press, in the contemporary American right wing, and on both sides of the race controversy today, among White Citizens’ Councils and Black Muslims. I do not propose to try to trace the variations of the paranoid style that can be found in all these movements, but will confine myself to a few leading episodes in our past history in which the style emerged in full and archetypal splendor.

Illuminism and Masonry

I begin with a particularly revealing episode—the panic that broke out in some quarters at the end of the eighteenth century over the allegedly subversive activities of the Bavarian Illuminati. This panic was a part of the general reaction to the French Revolution. In the United States it was heightened by the response of certain men, mostly in New England and among the established clergy, to the rise of Jeffersonian democracy. Illuminism had been started in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, a professor of law at the University of Ingolstadt. Its teachings today seem to be no more than another version of Enlightenment rationalism, spiced with the anticlerical atmosphere of eighteenth-century Bavaria. It was a somewhat naïve and utopian movement which aspired ultimately to bring the human race under the rules of reason. Its humanitarian rationalism appears to have acquired a fairly wide influence in Masonic lodges.



Sean Wilentz: Richard Hofstadter and the “paranoid style” as an American phenomenon


September 15, 2020


Released this spring, Library of America’s collection Richard Hofstadter: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Uncollected Essays 1956-1965 gathers together an indispensable historian’s essential works on the irrationalism, demagoguery, and conspiratorial thinking that have long influenced American politics and culture. The pertinence of Hofstadter’s preoccupations to the contemporary American moment can hardly be overstated: In the last few months alone, for instance, New Yorker writers Jelani Cobb, Luke Mogelson, and David Remnick have all cited Hofstadter’s work as a touchstone for making sense of events in 2020.

The editor of LOA’s Hofstadter volume is Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University. His many books include The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics (2016); Bob Dylan in America (2010); and The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974–2008 (2008). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005) was awarded the Bancroft Prize, and he has received two Grammy nominations for his writings on music. Earlier this year, Wilentz participated in Library of America’s webinar on the anthology American Conservatism: Reclaiming an Intellectual Tradition with that book’s editor, Andrew J. Bacevich. Via email, Wilentz answered our questions about Hofstadter and the unmistakable relevance of his work in 2020.

Library of America: The new Library of America volume argues for Richard Hofstadter’s prescience in understanding the role of resentment, suspicion of elites, and conspiratorial thinking in American political culture. Why do you think Hofstadter was alert to—and interested in—these tendencies ahead of other historians?

Sean Wilentz: Richard Hofstadter, after starting out in the Marxist ’30s, became increasingly alert to the myths and irrationalities of American politics and culture. Other historians in his cohort—like his colleagues Kenneth Stampp and Frank Freidel during their early teaching days together at the University of Maryland—were blazing new trails but were involved in more familiar scholarly pursuits. In grappling with ideas and politics as they did not, with a certain Mencken-like acerbity, Hofstadter quickly detected self-serving fables and folly, though without dismissing the value and honor of his subjects. In The American Political Tradition, published in 1948, he debunked the leftist and liberal myths surrounding mainstream figures from the Founders through FDR. After McCarthyism hit, he turned to the anxieties and obsessions of popular movements and cultural trends, as examined first in Anti-Intellectualism in American Life and then in The Paranoid Style in American Politics.


Dan Kelly appears at event headlined by pastor who advocated for killing abortion providers,

compared COVID-19 policies to Holocaust


MADISON - Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly appeared at an event Tuesday in western Wisconsin headlined by a Brookfield pastor who has called the murder of an abortion provider "justifiable homicide," advocated for the creation of anti-abortion-focused militia and compared coronavirus pandemic-related mask mandates to the Holocaust.

The Wisconsin chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, which characterizes itself as "Christian Patriots dedicated to restoring our Constitutional Republic and defending liberty," hosted Matthew Trewhella at an event in St. Croix County on Tuesday evening, where the pastor compared COVID-19 rules to the Holocaust and told attendees to reject mandates from government officials or else risk being forced to resort to violence.

Matthew Trewhella

"You cannot appease tyrants. You have to defeat them. And the sooner you decide not to comply, and to defeat them privately not comply with evil, publicly join with other good men and magistrates (to) stand against the evil, the better chance you have of stopping evil," Trewhella told a crowd gathered at the Calvary Assembly of God in Wilson. "If you keep accommodating yourself — guess what? — you’ll be swallowed up by evil. It will be too late and then bloody revolution is the only option left.”


Kelly's liberal opponent Janet Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County judge, said Kelly's appearance amounted to support for anti-abortion and anti-democracy views. The two face off in the April 4 general election. "You may have heard me say Dan Kelly is an extremist. Well, although it’s shocking that he would share the stage with this man, it’s not surprising," Protasiewicz said in a statement. "Dan Kelly’s radical views defending the 1849 abortion ban, and generally stopping women from controlling their own bodies, are well-documented. And his support for disrespecting democracy and overturning elections is well-documented. We can’t let him anywhere close to our Supreme Court."



Inside The Anti-Abortion Underground



The Rev. Matt Trewhella, co-founder of Missionaries to the Pre-Born, a Milwaukee anti-abortion group, was boasting to an audience last May about his 16-month-old son, Jeremiah. Trewhella said he already knew to raise his index finger when asked, "Which is your trigger finger?" The crowd at a Wisconsin state convention of the ultraconservative U.S. Taxpayers Party also heard this recommendation from Trewhella: "This Christmas, I want you to do the most loving thing. I want you to buy each of your children an SKS rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition."

Trewhella says he would never kill a physician who performs abortions. Moreover, he insists that anyone in his mission who advocated violence "would be asked to leave." But after last month's murder of Pensacola, Fla., doctor John Britton, federal authorities aren't taking the 34-year-old pastor at his word. According to a confidential FBI document, Trewhella is one of a half dozen anti-abortion activists now under investigation as possible conspirators in a campaign of violence against abortion clinics. Currently serving a monthlong county-jail sentence for disorderly conduct during a demonstration at a Milwaukee doctor's home last year, Trewhella told Newsweek that the government's investigation is "all a big joke." He claims that his gun comments, captured on a videotape and released last week by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, were "a lighthearted moment" snipped out of context.

Abortion-rights groups in Wisconsin aren't amused. Trewhella, a onetime Detroit street tough and convicted arsonist who says he experienced a religious awakening as a teenager, has helped turn Milwaukee into an abortion battleground. Over the last two years his followers, arrested by the hundreds, have strapped themselves to concrete blockades in front of clinics, trapped a doctor in his home and even picketed the soccer game of another's preteen son. One doctor, George Woodward, received an anonymous letter last year warning, "If you continue [to perform abortions] I will hunt you down like any other wild beast and kill you." Says Woodward: "I keep thinking, "Am I the next Dr. Britton?' "

When other Wisconsin anti-abortion groups issued statements condemning Britton's murder, Trewhella responded with a one-sentence communique calling on "pro-abortion leaders . . . to condemn the actions of abortionists everywhere." He also joined other activists last year in signing a statement declaring that Michael Griffin had committed "justifiable homicide" in the 1993 killing of David Gunn, another Pensacola abortion doctor. The author of the statement, Paul Hill, pleaded not guilty last week to charges of murdering Britton and a security escort. Trewhella said last week that he had removed his name from Hill's declaration when he sensed that Hill "had moved from a statement of belief to a position advocating violence."


Domino's Pizza tried to make it in Italy. After 8 years, it's ended in liquidation.



Domino’s Pizza Inc.’s franchise in Italy has entered into liquidation, after a short-lived struggle to win over customers in the birthplace of pizza. A Milan-based judge opened liquidation proceedings for Domino’s franchise partner, ePizza SpA, last week, according to a filing with the local chamber of commerce seen by Bloomberg News.

A court-ordered liquidation could result in a recovery for creditors of 5% of their exposure, according to a draft restructuring plan seen by Bloomberg News that was submitted last year by the Milan-based firm and its financial advisors.

The last of Domino’s 29 Italian branches closed last summer, ending a foray that began in 2015 with the US brand touting pizza toppings that included pineapple and barbecue chicken, an unusual take in a country more accustomed to thin-crust margheritas. Over the years, the American fast-food chain’s partner borrowed heavily for ambitious plans to open 880 stores.

The pandemic, however, hobbled ePizza. Covid-related lockdowns deprived the company of 35% of its revenues from 2020, as did rising competition. Once largely bricks-and-mortar focused, Italian pizzerias ramped up their home delivery offerings through third-party services such as Deliveroo Plc or Glovo, hurting demand for Domino’s pies.

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