1. The Dream Palace of the Anti-Vaxxers
Axios released a poll this morning that I’m still trying to fully digest. They went into the field and asked both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who they blame for the current surge in COVID cases.
You can guess who vaccinated people blame, right? Overwhelmingly they blame the unvaccinated, with a dollop of blame also going to Donald Trump and conservative media.
But who do you think the unvaccinated people blame?
No, really. I want you to guess.
You’ve got your theory?
Well, the answer is: Foreigners.
Yes, that’s right. Unvaccinated people blame, in descending order, foreigners and the mainstream media for the current wave of COVID. This is who they are.
There’s been a lot of told-you-so about COVID in Florida, where things are pretty bad.
Case counts in Florida are at the highest level ever—worse than the darkest period of last winter. And this is with testing at a lower level than last winter. Hospitalizations are headed way up. The deaths will follow in a couple weeks. Here’s how it currently looks:
That’s right: 39,079 Floridians have died from COVID, so far. That’s the fourth biggest total of all the states. Right now, 58 people are dying every day in Florida and that number is going to get bigger.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that this is somehow bad for the political prospects of Ron DeSantis.
In fact, I would propose the exact opposite: The worse things get in Florida, the better it is for DeSantis’s political future.
For a number of reasons:
Every time DeSantis is criticized by the media, it helps him.
Every additional death is evidence that he didn’t cave to “the lockdowns.”
The more people who die on his watch, the greater a testament it is to his fidelity to the cause of modern conservatism. It proves that he’s not some RINO cuck like Mike DeWine.
If people really believe that COVID is the fault of foreigners, then the bigger the death toll, the more aggrieved DeSantis can be by how these nefarious foreigners hurt his state.
Let me tell you, right now, what the line will be:
Nothing bad happened in Florida. It’s all just a bunch of lies from the liberal media who want to hurt Ron DeSantis. And if anything did happen, then DeSantis did what he did because he’s a patriot who believes in freedom and keeping the economy strong. And it wasn’t as bad as what Andrew Cuomo did. And it’s all the fault of foreigners.
Anyone who thinks that failure to manage COVID could hurt a Republican with political aspirations hasn’t been paying attention. If anything, the opposite is true.
In the near term, Republican voters are going to be deeply suspicious of anyone who acted responsibly on COVID. And so the worse things get in Florida, the better it is for Ron DeSantis.
I am aware that no one else cares about this, but I’m going to keep writing about it.
Things in Afghanistan are very bad right now.
The Taliban has taken over the TV station in Helmand province. There’s a pitched battle for the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, with residents now being told to evacuate. The Taliban is also trying to take Kandahar and has been firing on the city’s airport.
A reminder, in case you needed any, of who these monsters are:
The New York Times reviewed multiple photographs, some provided by Indian officials and others taken by Afghan health workers at the hospital, that showed Mr. Siddiqui’s body had been mutilated. One Indian official said that the body had nearly a dozen bullet wounds and that there were tire marks on Mr. Siddiqui’s face and chest.
One of the health officials in Kandahar said that the body, along with Mr. Siddiqui’s press vest, had reached the city’s main hospital around 8 p.m. on the day he was killed. His face was unrecognizable, said the official, who added that he could not determine exactly what had been done to the body.
The Long War Journal has been putting together an approximation of what the map looks like on the ground.
For a sense of just how pear-shaped this has gone, here’s what the map looked like just before Joe Biden announced a complete American withdrawal:
The strong do what they can while the weak do what they must.
That’s realpolitik in a nutshell. So I get it. I am fully aware that there is currently no political will in America for continuing to hold Afghanistan together. I understand there is no voting constituency that was willing to keep a footprint in that part of the world.
And without political will, no long-term military operation can succeed. No matter how wise, or justified, or necessary it might be.
I also get that the same Republican hawks who were in turtle guard when Donald Trump was trying to pull out of Afghanistan are going to pound the table now trying to make Biden look bad.
But they don’t have to try. This looks plenty bad for Joe Biden. Afghanistan is on its way to a full-blown rout. There will be (another) humanitarian disaster. Nothing good will come of having terrorists control a state (again).
And everyone in America—Trump and Biden, Republicans and Democrats—will share the blame.
3. Soccer + Watches
What could be better than life as a Juventus star from Switzerland?
Retiring and getting into watchmaking.
Lichtsteiner, 37, retired from professional soccer last August after a glittering 20-year career. He played 108 times for Switzerland, appeared at three World Cups, and racked up 16 major trophies, including seven Series A titles with Italian giants Juventus. In Switzerland and beyond, Lichtsteiner is a superstar. And now he’s a watchmaking apprentice at a bijou Zurich watch company.
“My first life was as a footballer,” Lichtsteiner says, reflecting on a journey that took him to France and England, as well as Italy, and that ended last year. “But being a footballer, you have a short career. You need to be ready that it will be over. Of course I miss it, but I have to find the second chapter now.”
I can’t help but ask whether he has the temperament for the finicky business of micro-mechanics. Lichtsteiner, a wing-back who covered so many miles on the pitch that fans called him Forrest Gump, was known as a fiery character, never one to back out of a tackle. Former FIFA referee Jonas Eriksson once described him as “one of the most unpleasant players I have met.”
“I was not the calmest on the pitch,” Lichtsteiner admits. “But Stephan on the pitch and off the pitch are two completely different people. Outside I’m a calm guy. On the pitch, I did everything to win. With watchmaking, in the end, the details are the same. To win. To make the watch work.”