Thursday, March 2nd, 2023


Drag Race

When you list the top few hundred million complaints you have about public officials, I'm guessing the notion that they're dragging their heels on the issue of men in high heels wouldn't make the list. But in the latest iteration of the culture wars, it turns out that drag shows are a societal scourge overdue for a dressing down. Tennessee is poised to become first state to restrict drag performances. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee who is set to sign into law the bill that will limit 'adult cabaret performances' on public property (because god knows we're all tired of walking into City Hall only to see a drag show break out) ignored questions about the time he dressed in drag, "What a ridiculous, ridiculous question that is, conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject." Meanwhile, Rep. Nate Schatzline who authored a Texas bill restricting drag performances wants to make it clear that the video of him "skipping, running and dancing in a park while donning a black sequined dress and a red eye mask" doesn't count because it was a joke. This whole issue is a joke, but that's not stopping several other states, including Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, from entering the drag race to enact similar bans. Wearing a dress is under attack but impersonating a clown is all the rage.

+ AP: As Tennessee, others target drag shows, many wonder: Why? "The protestations have arisen fairly suddenly around a form of entertainment that has long had a place on the mainstream American stage. Milton Berle, 'Mr. Television' himself, was appearing in drag on the public airwaves as early as the 1950s." And on the 40th anniversary of the MASH finale that drew a cool 106 million viewers, let's not forget the cross-dressing corporal Klinger. A whole generation of children was exposed to his dresses, and somehow we survived.


Northern Exposure

Yesterday, we learned some very interesting details about the wave of immigrants leaving the United States and returning to Mexico and other countries south of the border. Today, let's examine another border crossing you may not have considered. NYT (Gift Article): Canadians Fume as Migrants Surge at Their Border. "Using the kind of anti-migrant language rarely heard in Canada, opposition politicians are calling on the government to deploy the police to shut down the Roxham Road crossing and said that Quebec, the province absorbing many of the undocumented migrants, 'is not an all-inclusive' vacation 'package.'"


Bet the Farm

Should managers of retirement plans be allowed to consider climate change and other environmental, social and governance issues when making investments? Well, an anti-ESG bill just passed the Senate (with a pair of Democrat votes) and is headed for President Biden's desk (and likely, his veto pen). This is yet another culture war lightning rod that promises to plague the 2024 election.

+ All the bluster aside, it turns out that ESG investing has proven to be not only popular, but profitable. It's better to be woke than broke.


To Take a Dumpling

"Late last summer ... word got out that Din Tai Fung was leaving Caruso's biggest mall (in square footage), the Americana. Not just leaving. Din Tai Fung was moving across the street. To the much more indoor, much less "cool" mall: the Galleria. This was odd — definitely unexpected — and great gossip for a certain type of Angeleno who is aware of both the Americana and the Galleria and the garlic green bean situation at Din Tai Fung. In the 1980s teen rom-com movie version of this, it was like the most attractive, high-achieving girl in high school — Din Tai Fung — suddenly dating someone — the Galleria — from a whole different social clique; the Lloyd Dobler of malls." Ryan Bradley in Eater: The Great LA Dumpling Drama. (Now I'm picturing Lloyd Dobler standing in front of his car parked by one of the malls holding a pair of chopsticks above his head.)


Extra, Extra

Sideline Huddle: "U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov met briefly on the sidelines of a meeting of the Group of 20 nations in India. It's the first face-to-face interaction between the countries' two top diplomats since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022." Meanwhile, Putin got some rare good news when it comes to the Ukraine invasion. US support for Ukraine, especially in the GOP-led House, appears to be softening.

+ If the Suit Fits: "The department wrote that although a president enjoys broad legal latitude to communicate to the public on matters of concern, 'no part of a President's official responsibilities includes the incitement of imminent private violence. By definition, such conduct plainly falls outside the President's constitutional and statutory duties.'" Former President Donald Trump can be sued by injured Capitol Police officers and Democratic lawmakers over the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

+ Inside Job: "Mexicans were suddenly catapulted into the same world of blurry constitutional uncertainty faced in the past by (among many others) Poles, Turks, Hungarians, Filipinos, and Venezuelans; more recently by Israelis; and, of course, by Americans. What do you do when a legitimate, democratically elected president or prime minister undermines the rules of the legal system, or of democracy itself? What if that president or prime minister is popular?" Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: How Do You Stop Lawmakers From Destroying the Law?

+ Ship Wrecks: "'We talk about how happy people probably made fun memories on this ship,' Ms. Atay said, adding that she could imagine people dancing on the deck below, where strings of lights swayed above a wooden floor. 'But we are broken.'" NYT: More than 1,000 Turkish residents displaced by the recent earthquakes are staying on a luxury boat in the Mediterranean Sea.


Bottom of the News

The Fungus Among Us: "For months, some residents have complained that a sooty, dark crust has blanketed homes, cars, road signs, bird feeders, patio furniture and trees as the fungus has spread uncontrollably, fed by alcohol vapors wafting from charred oak barrels of aging Jack Daniel's whiskey." NYT (Gift Article): Whiskey Fungus Fed by Jack Daniel's Encrusts a Tennessee Town.