Never one to use a scalpel when there is a machete at hand, the president denounced the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a dunderheaded move but a reason for giving thanks today because it elicited from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., 2018’s most exquisitely mixed metaphor: “He shot from the hip with a sledgehammer instead of using a scalpel.” Sifting this year’s other detritus, let us also be thankful for the following amusements:
Finding fresh reasons for indignation is a challenge in fury-saturated America, but Halsey, a singer, rose to it, saying that hotels’ “white people shampoo” furthers the “disenfranchisement” of people of color. A Dutch man, 69, noting that advanced thinkers think gender fluidity is real, wondered why not age, too, and demanded that all records of his birthdate be revised to say he is 49 because that is how he “feels.” To Abelard and Heloise, and Romeo and Juliet, add another torrid romance, that of Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, the latter saying of the former, “He wrote me beautiful letters and we fell in love.” Listening to testimony she disbelieved, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D., Calif., responded, “I may be elected but I’m not a fool.”
Under Utah’s “free-range” parenting law, parents need not fear being sentenced to parenting classes if they allow their children to go alone to buy bread at the corner market. The California professor who said of Barbara Bush, “I’m happy the witch is dead,” and said Bush was a racist who raised a war criminal, also said she, the professor, could not be fired because she has tenure in her $100,000 job instructing California’s young. Yale’s ban on pets in dorms was bent to accommodate “emotional support animals,” which are needed when Yalies are micro-aggressed by culture-appropriating Halloween costumes. Frontier Airlines found the limits of its patience, disembarking a woman and her emotional-support squirrel.
By the grace of their government, and over the objections of some worry warts, Oregonians in some rural counties got permission to pump their own gas. Combating occupational-licensing lunacy, Missouri said hair braiders could skip the mandatory 1,500 hours of training and instead watch a video. North Carolina had second thoughts about the 12-count criminal indictment against Tammie Hedges for practicing veterinary medicine without a license when, during Hurricane Florence, she offered shelter and first aid to pets left behind by their evacuating owners. Praise the Lord and pass the scissors: When Nike used national anthem-kneeler Colin Kaepernick in ads, an Alabama pastor received a standing ovation from his congregants when he shredded Nike merchandise. In another sign of contemporary religious courage, at a Maryland clinic providing late-term abortions, four Christian pastors and a rabbi gathered not to protest but to bless those who dismember babies: “May they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”
First things first: San Francisco, where feces of the homeless soil the streets, banned the sale of fur and mandated that 30 percent of public art featuring nonfictional people depict women. New York’s Legislature banned police officers from having sex with people in custody. A mystery: Young Americans were found to be having less sex. Mystery partially solved? One in four Americans said they are “almost constantly” online. It was reported that in the first six months of last year pedestrian deaths in traffic declined, except in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Pedestrian deaths nationally are significantly higher than a decade ago, perhaps because drivers and pedestrians are digitally distracted: The number of smartphones in use tripled between 2010 and 2016.
Anything we can do they can do bigger: Eclipsing its previous record of $25.3 billion in sales in a 24-hour period, the Chinese internet company Alibaba sold $1 billion worth of stuff in the first 85 seconds and $30.8 billion during the day. Scientists said that they were almost certain that bones found on a Pacific island in 1940 were those of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. The government revised the official death toll from last year’s Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. It was 2,975, not 64. Awarding him the Medal of Freedom, the White House said that Babe Ruth, of the Red Sox, Yankees and, for 28 games, the Braves, played for four teams. Close enough for government work. Aretha Franklin, dead at 76, was shown R-E-S-P-E-C-T by the president, in his fashion: “I knew her well. She worked for me.”