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What Happened: November 3, 2021

Tablet’s afternoon news digest: Dems lose elections and referenda across the country while Eric Adams beats Guardian Angel founder and legendary radio host Curtis Sliwa; Max Fried proves himself to be a 21st century Koufax; Israeli cyber surveillance company blacklisted in the US and Israeli companies hacked by an Iranian blackmail org

The Scroll
November 03, 2021

The Big Story

It was a blowout Tuesday as voters across the country rejected Democratic candidates and ballot initiatives. In the critical Virginia governor’s race, underdog Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated the incumbent Democrat Terry McAuliffe 51% to 49% in a state that President Biden carried by 10 points just a year ago. Initial results show voters breaking over education policy, an issue that encompasses COVID-19-related lockdown and masking rules, the influence of “critical race theory” and related ideas on teaching material, and clashes between parents and school administrators over who should have a say in classroom curricula. An early MSNBC exit poll showed 51% of voters saying that parents should have “a lot” of say in their child’s curriculum—a clear response to McAuliffe’s statement in September: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” In New Jersey, where votes are still being counted, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, looks likely to eke out a win over Republican Jack Ciattarelli, but the fact that the race is so close in the deep blue state is significant. In elections across the country, the driving force appears to be deep dissatisfaction with Democrats rather than enthusiasm for Republican candidates. The results of a vote in Minneapolis, where some 56% of voters rejected a ballot measure to replace the city’s police department with a Department of Public Safety, suggest that a centerpiece of Democrats’ agenda is unpopular—including with the city’s black residents, who opposed the bill at higher rates than white voters. But the strongest evidence is that Biden’s approval rating sunk to 42% in October—a historic low.

Today’s Back Pages: The Smug, Liberal Commentator Class: Still Undefeated!

The Rest

→ The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially endorsed Pfizer’s COVD-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 on Tuesday night. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the senior infectious disease expert in the United States, said there was “every reason in the world to get our children vaccinated” in a White House COVID-19 briefing. The vaccine impedes but doesn’t fully prevent transmission of the virus, which poses an extremely low level of risk to children.

→ In related COVID-19 news Tuesday, Pfizer doubled its sales forecast for COVID-19 vaccine sales in 2021 to $36 billion. As the Financial Times reports, the company “predicted bumper revenues in 2022 as well as it expands global distribution and begins shipping jabs for booster shots and children.” Read more

→ A bright spot for Democrats yesterday was Eric Adams’ win in New York, where the ex-cop and Brooklyn borough president was elected as the city’s next mayor, succeeding Bill de Blasio. Of course, Adams was expected to win easily, but he actually managed to do so—largely by running as a pro-law-and-order moderate—unlike some other favorites who stumbled in their races. He takes office on Jan. 1.

→ Two takes on the key dynamic driving Tuesday’s electoral swing:

The Democrats are facing a real dilemma when it comes to Covid. Post vaccines, most people want to resume a more or less normal life. But a not insignificant minority remain fairly scared. That latter group is disproportionately Democratic. This won’t be easy to navigate.

— Helaine Olen (@helaineolen) November 3, 2021
The take: 1) Republican culture war politics work way better when they are a defense of “normal people versus ideologues,” they don’t work as “Let’s make America more Evangelical.” 2) Covid connects the economy and education painpoints. Dems need to find a way out.

— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) November 3, 2021

→ The government of Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency on Tuesday as forces from the northern Tigray region, who have been fighting the government for the past year, advanced on the capital, Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian government called on citizens to arm themselves and prepare to defend the capital.

→ Shares in the online real estate giant Zillow dropped by 24% Wednesday after the company announced that it was getting out of the home-flipping business, which it has blamed on labor costs and pricing volatility in the housing market. Zillow CEO Rich Barton told analysts on an earnings call that the company would lay off 25% of its staff.

→ Max Fried, now and forevermore a credit to the Jewish people, pitched a brilliant game Tuesday night to win Game 6 of the World Series against the Houston Astros, bringing the Atlanta Braves their first World Series championship in 26 years. Fried allowed only four hits in six innings and no runs.

→ More than 10,000 John Deere workers who have been on strike at 12 facilities rejected a contract offer (by a vote of 55% to 45%) that would have raised pay by 10% and included a $8,500 bonus per worker—double the terms of an earlier offer. The agricultural machinery company earned record profits this year, roughly 62% higher than its previous record year in 2013, which appears to be driving the union to hold out for a better contract.

→ Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO was put on a black list yesterday by the United States. Technically known as an “entity list,” the measure enacted by the U.S. Commerce Department applies to companies “engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” NSO sold technology to foreign governments that allowed them to monitor cell phones and was used by some to spy on journalists and dissidents. In a statement, the Commerce Department said that some governments used the technology to “maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers.”

→ A hacking group calling itself Black Shadow attacked Israeli hosting provider Cyberserve, disrupting its services and stealing the databases of its clients, including that of Atraf, a gay dating app. The organization is now threatening to reveal the identities of users of the app along with private information such as HIV status. Black Shadow is linked to the Iranian government and the Pay2Key ransomware strain that is often deployed against Israeli targets. Last year, Black Shadow hacked Shirbit, an Israeli insurance company, demanding a payment of $1 million. The hackers have demanded $1 million in Bitcoin within two days, starting Saturday. They have already leaked a sample of 1,000 dating profiles. Last week, the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company was hacked, closing gas stations nationwide.

The Back Pages

backpagesThe Smug, Liberal Commentator Class: Still Undefeated!

The polls had barely closed Tuesday before the smug liberal commentator script came out. Could it be that voters were fed up with unequally enforced and scientifically unjustifiable COVID-19 restrictions, sick of being told they should butt out of their own children’s education and genuflect to administrators, and generally desperate to get back to something like normal life? No, of course not. We all know the real culprits: racism, whiteness, Trump, bad stupid voters, domestic ISIS MAGA extremists, agghhh!

Treacherous white men swung the vote in Virginia, insisted journalist Julia Ioffe. Just a few years ago, when she was on the masthead at The New Republic, Ioffe was herself the target of spurious racism accusations. Her response, to assume the persona of her accusers, may work as a short-term survival strategy, but it has made her an awfully unobservant journalist, one who apparently missed that the Republican Youngkin got roughly half the Latino vote and made gains with Black women voters.

Virginia also elected a black woman, Winsome Sears, to be lieutenant governor yesterday, but that inconvenient detail was ignored by people like Ioffe and her fellow “whiteness” pundit Wajahat Ali, who declared after the vote, “Whiteness remains undefeated.” A truly brilliant line coming from a highly successful nonwhite member of the single most indestructible group in the entire country, the mighty pundit class that only ever grows more self-righteous and authoritarian the more wrong and out of touch it’s proved to be.

On MSNBC, anchor Nicolle Wallace tried to paint Youngkin as a Trump surrogate—laughable considering Youngkin was at pains as a candidate to keep some distance from the ex-president, lest he scare away moderates. But never mind that—Wallace had her script in hand: “Critical race theory, which isn’t real,” she announced, “turned the suburbs 15 points to the Trump-insurrection-endorsed Republican.” Forget Youngkin, Trump, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and anyone else who might have technically won last night. The real undefeated victor: America’s smug liberal commentator class.

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