Ever since COVID-19 hit the United States in spring 2020, life has had a nightmarish quality. As political journalist Nausicaa Renner notes in a recent piece for the magazine n+1, the national mood seems poisoned by political violence, paranoia, and conspiracy.

“When we feel paranoid, we project our fear outward, locating it in details and experiences that would seem otherwise benign,” wrote Renner in the piece, which we highlight below. “Sometimes this fear is justified; the paranoid fantasy is not always implausible. It is far from implausible that the FBI had informants on the ground on January 6, though their role was likely limited. It was recently revealed that at least one person involved in the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer was an informant who the FBI says went rogue. There are jokes in Muslim communities about entire mosques shutting down after all the informants are removed. In such instances, paranoia feels less like a pathology and more like a by-product of the government using fear  —  of COVID, of being surveilled, of loss of freedom  —  as a method of control.”

In addition to a recap of The Lever’s reporting this week, this edition of Lever Weekly features reporting on a housing boom rising from the ashes of a devastating wildfire, and how the Republican Party is adopting a new strategy to win voters in swing states.

Read all about it in this week’s Lever Weekly, exclusively for supporting subscribers.

Also In This Edition Of Lever Weekly:

• A big name in comedy discusses our reporting on Amazon.

• A piece about “the largest explosion of online misogyny since Gamergate.”

• Why the student debt debate should really be about how “we turned the greatest vehicle of social mobility into a debt machine.”