This week, Ruth has written back-to-back updates. In each instance, the situation has gotten worse.
Let’s start with the abortion medication ruling: The 5th Circuit appeals court technically allowed mifepristone to remain available — but for a shorter window in a pregnancy, and only after jumping through additional hoops.
Ruth writes that there’s no mistake this is a “defeat for the rule of law,” especially considering that the court was just meant to decide whether or not to pause Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s initial ban of the medication. The court also accepted the original plaintiffs’ argument for why they had the right to sue — which is ludicrous, Ruth says.
Now for the good Justice Thomas, who, further reporting by ProPublica reveals, not only took luxury vacations courtesy of billionaire Harlan Crow but also sold him real estate — without reporting it. That is an explicit no-no under federal disclosure laws.
“The justice is a repeat offender,” Ruth writes, and is creating a big legitimacy problem for the court. The only remedy is scrupulous investigation.
So what’s going to happen? Tune in next week!
Chaser: Thank God for the 5th Circuit ruling, satirist Alexandra Petri writes: “I have been addled by having too many rights, too much autonomy.”
Leakers? Gotta catch ’em all!
Usually the sort of intel you might find on a gaming server is along the lines of “where to catch Eevee in Pokémon Scarlet.” The fact that actual national security secrets sat on Discord for a month before U.S. officials noticed late this week is, the Editorial Board writes, “damaging and also underscores that the system of managing secrets is in deep crisis.”
The Board calls the debacle, in which a young member of the National Guard leaked fresh intelligence documents to his even younger followers, apparently mostly to show off, “despicable.” But if it leads to an overhaul of the intelligence classification system, the Board writes, some good could come out of it.
Another silver lining: Columnist Josh Rogin notes that one document in the leak shows scary advances in China’s military capabilities. But at least now the public knows — and knows what the United States will have to do to step up its deterrence.
I’m tickled we’re publishing more and more of cartoonist Edith Pritchett, including this one on imagined beer protests, the full version of which goes all the way up to the very real (but equally laughable) fuss over Bud Light’s ad campaign with trans woman Dylan Mulvaney.
Chaser: Bud Light’s partnership is a nice spot of LGBTQ representation, but a 2019 project from Post Opinions is a reminder that pride and profit don’t always play nice together.
The anti-polarization political group No Labels contends that the third-party presidential candidate they pledge to put up could win nearly 40 states. Obviously that’s “sheer fantasy,” write Jonathan Cowan, Rahna Epting and Patrick Gaspard, three Democratic strategists.
But the dream map is revealing, too: Two-thirds of its electoral votes come from 2020 Biden states. That’s because, the authors write, such an independent bid would peel off many more Democratic voters than Republicans — and “help elect a MAGA extremist president.”
Then again, never underestimate Joe Biden. Or do, columnist Gene Robinson writes; being underestimated is the president’s superpower.
So all this chatter about bad polling and Democrats wanting a replacement on the ticket? “He’s got us all just where he wants us,” Gene says.
Chaser: No matter who’s on the ticket, columnist George Will expects voting outcomes to adhere ever more rigidly along lines of class and education.
Bonus chaser: For much, much more politics, sign up for columnist Jennifer Rubin’s weekly newsletter. Its first edition is today.
- It’s gotten harder to borrow money lately. Catherine Rampell explains why that’s a feature, not a bug — though not a fun one.
- Jason Willick argues that allowing Jan. 6 rioters to be prosecuted for “obstruction” could set a precedent for acts of political retribution.
- Author and gardener Camille T. Dungy shares the small joys of leaving her sunflower stalks up all winter.
- TikTok is a Psych 101 example of addiction, Fareed Zakaria writes. Regulate it.
Instead of the usual Bye-Ku, today’s newsletter will honor the winding down of cherry blossom season in Japan (and D.C.!) with a wry example of the real deal, from the Edo-period haiku master Kobayashi Issa: