More cash assistance helps brains? Plus, the covid divide; casting doubt on elections; and what Republicans stand for.
By Gary Abernathy
NYT: More cash aid helps brains (so feel guilty, please)
This headline from the New York Times just made me shake my head: “Cash Aid to Poor Mothers Increases Brain Activity in Babies, Study Finds.”
What political motivation would lead the Times to push a narrative from a study that cash assistance helps baby brains? It only took three paragraphs into the story to find the answer (boldface added for emphasis):
[E]vidence that a single year of subsidies could alter something as profound as brain functioning highlights the role that money may play in child development and comes as President Biden is pushing for a much larger program of subsidies for families with children.
And later in the story, there was this:
A temporary federal program of near-universal children’s subsidies — up to $300 a month per child through an expanded child tax credit — expired this month after Mr. Biden failed to unite Democrats behind a large social policy bill that would have extended it. Most Republicans oppose the monthly grants, citing the cost and warning that unconditional aid, which they describe as welfare, discourages parents from working.
There you go. In other words, anyone who opposes Biden’s push for more government subsidies, or didn’t support the extension of the child tax credit (i.e. “most Republicans”), is against improving children’s brains.
You have to go deep into the story to find this qualifier:
The scientists wrote that the money “appeared” to cause the changed brain patterns, though they were less equivocal in interviews. Dr. (Kimberly) Noble said the evidence, though strong, was not “airtight,” in part because the coronavirus pandemic allowed them to test only 435 infants.
Our continuing immersion into socialism is being pushed unabated by every means imaginable, including now suggesting that if you don’t support the government giving more money to people, you’re essentially causing underdeveloped brains.
NYT’s Leonhardt continues best coverage of the pandemic
I’m happy to go from scolding the New York Times to praising it, the latter in regard to the continued excellent reporting of David Leonhardt on the covid pandemic.
Leonhardt, particularly through his “Morning Newsletter” feature, has offered the most rational, balanced reporting on covid. He avoids the preachy, partisan accusations and blame games found in too much coverage. His latest piece examines a recent poll on “the two Americas” — in other words, the different attitudes about covid from the left and the right.
As Leonhardt notes:
Many Democrats say that they feel unsafe in their communities; are worried about getting sick from Covid; and believe the virus poses a significant risk to their children, parents and friends. Republicans are less worried about each of these issues. Who’s right? There is no one answer to that question, because different people have different attitudes toward risk. An acceptable risk to one person (driving in a snowstorm, say, or swimming in the ocean) may be unacceptable to another. Neither is necessarily wrong.
You don’t find that kind of balance in most covid reporting.
Millions of Republican voters have decided that downplaying Covid is core to their identity as conservatives, even as their skepticism of vaccines means that the virus is killing many more Republicans than Democrats. Millions of Democrats have decided that organizing their lives around Covid is core to their identity as progressives, even as pandemic isolation and disruption are fueling mental-health problems, drug overdoses, violent crime, rising blood pressure and growing educational inequality.
Leonhardt dives deep into the latest polling and what it reveals about partisan differences on the topic. I highly recommend reading it, at this link.
‘Fox & Friends’ covid debate gets heated — and fun
Speaking of the covid divide, it made for good TV on Tuesday watching “Fox & Friends” co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade get into a heated exchange about covid, while Ainsley Earhardt tried to referee.
This isn’t the first time Doocy and Kilmeade have disagreed on covid, but it was more aggressive than usual. Doocy always comes down on the side of caution, etc., while Kilmeade takes the position of “let’s get on with our lives.”
One thing on which I strongly disagree with Doocy (and Earhardt) is the notion that how you feel about this breaks down along generational lines. Earhardt implied that people 60 and above are more in agreement with Doocy. Not true, at least not necessarily. I know people well into their 80s who are on Team Kilmeade — in other words, lift the restrictions and let us make our own choices.
I’m with Kilmeade on this one, but whichever side you’re on, check it out at this link.
Thank goodness Biden has restored civility to Washington
A consistent complaint about former President Trump was that he was too uncivil, and occasionally even profane. Joe Biden, we were promised, would restore civility to the White House. And he would treat the press corps with more respect, everyone agreed.
But Biden has hardly been that guy. He regularly disparages questioners he thinks are too tough on him, especially if they’re conservatives not feeding him softballs. On Monday, when Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked an innocent — perhaps even a softball — question on inflation, Biden responded, “What a stupid son of a b——.”
Doocy later reported that Biden called him — not to apologize, exactly, but to insist it was “nothing personal.” Actually, that kind of slur is personal. It’s a slur not only on the individual it targets, but on his family, too.
It’s been interesting to read responses from people defending Biden — many of them the same people who roasted Trump for such behavior.
To his credit, Doocy is doing exactly what other reporters should have done more of during the Trump years — shrugging it off. Rather than engage in a sermon on the sanctity of the First Amendment, and how Biden was attacking it by attacking the media, Doocy joked that no one had yet fact-checked Biden’s statement, and it may well be true. Good for him.
Biden casts doubt on coming elections. That’s bad, right?
It’s interesting to watch President Biden rip Donald Trump, rightfully, for erroneously casting doubt on the 2020 election — but then turning around and casting doubt on elections to come.
By claiming that Congress’ failure to pass a bill federalizing elections will open the door to voter suppression — even a return to the “Jim Crow” era, many claim — Biden and others are doing exactly — exactly — the kind of thing Trump is accused of doing.
Completely without evidence, Biden and others are claiming that changes made in various states will disenfranchise thousands, even millions, of minority voters. Sure, they can point to changes and then express an opinion. That’s fine. But they have no evidence. It would be interesting to be presented with one person — just one — who is legally qualified to vote but will not be able to vote because of the changes made at the state level.
The laws are not perfect, for sure. It’s wrong to place election disputes in the hands of partisans, and that should be revisited. Keep in mind, though, that there’s really no such thing as “nonpartisan” when it comes to elections. Secretaries of state are one party or the other, as are the members of election boards, and partisanship is always at play. But some of the changes have increased the likelihood of additional favoritism.
But limiting mail voting, controlling the number of drop boxes, shortening the window for early voting and strengthening identification standards will not prevent one legal voter from casting a ballot. As I’ve argued many times, voting should actually require some thought and effort. That is, in fact, a good thing. Overcoming apathy should not be done by making it so easy to vote that people can’t avoid it, even when they have no real interest in it.
The sign of a good election is not sky-high turnout. The sign of a good election is ensuring that every legal voter who is motivated to vote can do so, whether that ends up being a lot or a few.
What does the GOP stand for? Don’t worry about it.
When President Biden and others mock the Republican Party by asking what it stands for, Republicans shouldn’t worry about it. It’s not necessary to figure it out this year. Just being the alternative to the Biden administration is all that’s needed to win in 2022.
What the GOP should be doing is spending this time divorcing itself from Donald Trump. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, and they share Trump’s policies and positions, as I make clear in my latest Washington Post column. Check it out here.
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