Mar 17, 2024

The Sunday — March 17

This is the Tangle Sunday Edition, a brief roundup of our independent politics coverage plus some extra features for your Sunday morning reading.

What the right is doodling.

Steve Kelley | Creators Syndicate
Steve Kelley | Creators Syndicate

What the left is doodling.

Marshall Ramsey | Creators Syndicate
Marshall Ramsey | Creators Syndicate

Reader essay.

Mt. Hood from Big Eddy on the Columbia River near the Dalles Dam | PICRYL We’re co
Mt. Hood from Big Eddy on the Columbia River near the Dalles Dam | PICRYL

We’re continuing our series of personal reader essays that advance a somewhat heterodox outlook with today’s piece by Jerry Bryan, a watershed restoration expert from Washington state. Jerry gives an environmentalist argument in favor of a technology that is not popular amongst most environmentalists — nuclear reactors. Regardless of what side of the issue, or the political spectrum, that you’re on, we believe you can appreciate the compelling argument Jerry gives for nuclear reactors, and the uncommon angle he approaches the issue from. Read the piece here!

Have a local or personal story you want to write about? Pitch us! Fill out this form or reply to this email, and we’ll get back to you if we’re hooked.

Reader review.

In this section, we like to include reader responses that counter opinions we publish in the newsletter. On our edition about the bill forcing TikTok’s Chinese parent company to divest its ownership, reader David J Schuler commented:

There is no generalized right for foreign governments to engage in information-gathering within the United States and there is a longstanding principle of law that the sovereign may protect itself from activities outside its borders.

Said another way an outright ban on TikTok would not be contrary to American values although it would be contrary to an absolutist view on free expression that has little basis in law. We're talking about a specific case here and it has to do with foreign governments.

Tangle’s main stories this week were Biden's State of the Union, the TikTok ban, Biden's 2025 budget proposal, and Robert Hur's testimony. For full versions, you can find all of our past coverage in our archive.

Monday, March 11.

Biden's State of the Union. On March 7, President Biden delivered a combative, campaign-oriented State of the Union, contrasting himself with former President Donald Trump while also welcoming exchanges with Republicans who shouted out from the audience. The president spoke for 68 minutes and mentioned his "predecessor" 13 times. Biden began his address by focusing on funding for Ukraine, January 6, abortion and the state of the economy, issues that have already become pillars of his 2024 campaign. On the economy, he called out an unfair tax code and accused Republicans of handing wealthy billionaires and corporations $2 trillion in tax breaks under Trump. You can read a transcript of the speech here or watch it here

  • From the left. The left praised Biden for a rousing speech at a much-needed time. In The New York Times, Ezra Klein wrote “fine, call it a comeback.”
  • From the right. The right criticized the partisan tone of the address, calling it tantamount to a campaign speech. The Wall Street Journal editorial board called the speech “Biden’s partisan state of disunion.”
  • Our take. “In contrast to the 24 hours around the Michigan primary, the 24 hours around the State of the Union were very good for Biden. All in all it was a strong speech, and despite some stumbles the president looked energetic and presidential. The question now is whether Biden can continue to convincingly answer questions about his fitness between now and November.”

Tuesday, March 12.

The TikTok ban. On Thursday, March 7, a bill that could make TikTok unavailable in the United States advanced in Congress, with a committee voting unanimously to bring it up for a full vote. The bill, called Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, could force the company to be sold or face prohibitions in the U.S. TikTok, the popular video sharing app, is owned by the China-based company ByteDance. It is one of the most widely used apps in the U.S., with an estimated 150 million monthly users. In effect, the bill would force ByteDance to either sell TikTok before a six-month deadline or be banned from U.S. app stores and web hosting services. The bill would pass the House the next day and is now likely to face legal challenges, as TikTok has already sued the Trump administration over its attempt to ban the app in 2020. 

  • From the right. The right was mixed on the bill, but most condemned the tactics TikTok has employed to lobby against it. In The Federalist, Nathan Leamer argued “Congress must hold firm against TikTok’s legion of lobbyists.”
  • From the left. The left was also mixed on the bill, with some saying TikTok is a clear national security threat. In Bloomberg, Karishma Vaswani suggested “America’s TikTok addiction isn’t just China’s fault.”
  • Our take. “The risks TikTok poses are very real, and it's worth considering how to address them. I don’t think forcing a sale or banning TikTok is something that meets American values, and this legislation could create a whole slew of other issues. Unfortunately I don’t have a great solution, but I don’t think this bill is it.”

Wednesday, March 13.

Biden's budget proposal. On Tuesday, March 12, President Joe Biden released a $7.3 trillion budget proposal for 2025, which if enacted would raise taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, lower the costs of prescription drugs and housing, and trim the deficit. Budget proposals are aspirational and are rarely enacted in full. Administrations typically release their budget proposals as a mission statement for their plans for the upcoming year, and then begin selling their ideas to the public while whipping votes in Congress in an effort to get legislation enacted to meet their budget. With a Republican-controlled House and a divided Senate, this proposal — which sets spending and revenue plans for a decade — is unlikely to become law. But Biden is expected to make it a cornerstone of his 2024 campaign.

  • From the left. The left thought Biden was smart to tailor his budget toward political issues that are favorable for Democrats. In The New Yorker, John Cassidy called Biden’s proposal “an explicitly redistributive budget for an election year.”
  • From the right. The right was broadly critical of the budget, questioning the necessity of higher levels of government spending. In National Review, Dominic Pino asked “if the economy is so great, why does Biden want another huge budget deficit next year?”
  • Our take.Biden’s budget might sound nice, but isn’t feasible and is hard to take seriously. Omissions like not extending the Child Tax Credit past 2025 make me wonder how seriously the administration takes it, too.Biden missed a chance to capitalize on a strong economy by addressing Social Security and military bloat, instead opting for the status quo of runaway spending.”

Thursday, March 14.

Robert Hur's congressional testimony. On Tuesday, March 12, Special Counsel Robert Hur testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his final report on President Biden's handling of classified documents. Ahead of the hearing on Tuesday, the Justice Department released the transcript of Biden's two-day interview with investigators, which spanned roughly five hours in total. Hur’s testimony before the House were his first public comments since the report’s release. Throughout the hearing, Hur reiterated that he decided not to charge Biden because he didn’t think he could persuade a jury that Biden acted “willfully” in his handling of the documents. As expected, he faced aggressive questioning from both sides of the aisle. 

  • For the right. The right criticized Democrats’ treatment of Hur during the hearing, suggesting they damaged their credibility. The New York Post editorial board said “Democrats’ badgering of Robert Hur only made President Biden look worse.”
  • From the left. The left was unconvinced by Hur’s explanations for why he included an assessment of Biden’s memory in the report. In The Washington Post, Ruth Marcus argued “the special counsel was unfair to Biden and his transcript proves it.”
  • Our take.Democrats say that Hur cleared Biden because of the evidence and Republicans say because of how he’d appear to a jury — both are right. Hur got into it with nearly everyone, and his testimony wasn’t perfect but I thought he came across as reasonable and convincing. I hope that the special counsel’s testimony finally puts this issue to bed.” 

Friday, March 15.

In a subscribers-only Friday edition, Isaac published a breakdown of what you can expect from our coverage of the 2024 election. You can read the full piece here.

Reader surveys.

Monday, Biden's State of the Union:

Tuesday, the TikTok ban:

Wednesday, Biden's 2025 budget proposal: (full ranked-choice results here)

Thursday, Robert Hur's testimony:

Writing for Curbed, Bridget Read tells the story of squatters in Beverly Grove Place, a neighborhood technically in Los Angeles but sharing the exclusive zip code of Beverly Hills — 90210. Read’s story spans classist divides, potentially criminal opportunism, actual criminal medical fraud, surprising generosity, the way things aren’t always as they seem, and the California dream story of American success. Curbed has the story.

On the channels.

Podcast: We have no new co-hosted Sunday podcast this week. What we do have is an interview with Evan Roth-Smith, a campaign consultant and pollster who leads a polling project called Blueprint. Evan spoke with Isaac about the Biden vs. Trump matchup, as well as what issues voters are telling them are most important in this upcoming election. You can listen here!

Instagram: Will breaks down President Biden’s State of the Union address in a reel here.

YouTube: Another week without a YouTube video for us, but we’ll take the moment to explain. A lot of our energy is going into producing our new podcast series — The Undecideds — which will be launching later this week!

Tweet of the week.

Since tax season is coming up, we’re going back in time to highlight this hall-of-fame tweet from Taylor Cox.

Tangle’s favorites.

🇬🇧
BRITISH: Something something Kate Middleton… maybe you’ve heard something about Kate Middleton disappearing, or phony pictures circulating the press. What happened? Why does it matter? Writing for Vox, Constance Grady has the story.

🇮🇪
IRISH: Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday celebrated by many Irish-Americans (and Irish enthusiasts) in the U.S. Ashley Ross gives a historical look into the holiday’s origins in Time Magazine.

🇺🇸
DOMESTIC: Callie, the Australian Shepherd and Tangle editorial assistant, turned 10 years-old this week. She reminds us as we go through life to continue to broaden our horizons while still doing what we love (see below).

Ask the readers.

Last week, we asked readers for a good argument for or against Daylight Savings Time that they don’t think is brought up enough. 

CaliOma from Southern California: It plays havoc with medication dosing schedules. For example, there’s a blood cancer med that must be taken 12 hours apart. No eating or liquids other than water are allowed two hours before taking the meds or one hour after. I can imagine it’s a nightmare twice a year at hospitals.

Because we picked CaliOma’s answer, we gave her a chance to ask a question. She respectfully declined, so we’re posing another question this week:

Question: What was the first news source you ever paid to subscribe to?

You can let us know your thoughts by replying to this email or through this form.

Starting with the first letter, add one letter in any position to the preceding line to answer the clue to each line. 

EXAMPLE:

Click here for the answer.

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