Dear Weekend Jolter,
There’s something amusing about watching cowed corporations finally summon the nerve to swim against ideological tides that never should have overpowered them. Like the bully standing up to his tormentor, the spelling-bee champion.
Charles C. W. Cooke weighed in recently on Netflix’s having discovered “the magical healing power of ‘No,’” with updated guidelines telling staff, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”
Which is . . . a completely normal piece of advice for a person working at a company. In this climate, however, articulating it takes a certain degree of mettle. Netflix, it appears, is not the only corporate voice rediscovering this quality, and in arenas beyond the culture wars. The Biden administration’s inflation gaslighting, too, is eliciting boardroom rebukes.
Jeff Bezos, granted, is a difficult man to root for, what with his army of robot dogs — but in calling out President Biden’s nonsensical claim that corporate taxes are the way out of inflation, he is taking a necessary swipe at the “greedflation” theorists distorting this policy debate. Hooray for Bezos? Feels kinda dirty, but — yeah.
His Twitter reply to the president reads: “The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead. Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection.”
Woof. For Bezos, this level of sass was downright Muskian. As the White House hit back, he reminded his 4 million-plus followers that the administration had attempted to spend another $3.5 trillion which would have further exacerbated inflation.
NR’s editorial elaborates on what is agitating Bezos types so much:
As Bezos was quick to acknowledge, there is a case to be made for raising corporate taxes (we are not persuaded by that case, but there is a good-faith argument there), and certainly there is a crying need for an anti-inflation policy — but to pretend that these are the same thing is economic illiteracy. . . .
The administration’s suggestion that Bezos’s criticism is only a cover for his disinclination to pay taxes is cheap demagoguery and deserves to be regarded with contempt. It is only the latest in a long line of contemptible inflation dodges: First it was “transitory,” until it wasn’t, and then it was the “Putin price hike,” even though the inflation started long before the war in Ukraine, and now it is Republicans or Jeff Bezos or — give it a couple of days — systemic racism. Anything other than the obvious: flooding the economy with money during a worldwide supply-chain disruption and keeping Covid-era emergency economic policies in place long after the economic emergency has passed.
The related effort by congressional Democrats to point the finger at “price gouging” ignores that the purported gougers also are hurt by inflation, as the editorial notes. Andrew Stuttaford flags that Walmart just missed its quarterly earnings expectations, bigly, followed by Target. Veronique de Rugy highlights here the growing bipartisan dissent to this faulty narrative, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO recently pushed back at Senator Elizabeth Warren & Co.’s corporation-blaming by telling CNN, “They’re just plain wrong.” Meanwhile, a Morgan Stanley analysis bluntly blames “excessive” government stimulus for the inflation surge, echoing Bezos’s concerns.
Speaking of Muskian — the other billionaire brazenly amassing a robot-dog mercenary force (pray that PAW Patrol is only dystopian fiction, folks) has sided with Bezos on inflation, too, while assailing the mentality of endless spending and speaking quite freely about his views toward the Biden administration. “The real president is whoever controls the teleprompter,” he quipped on a podcast interview Monday. (He also says he plans to vote Republican.)
None of this is to herald the demise of “woke capitalism” or the rekindling of the GOP–Big Business relationship. As Michael Watson writes, it’s been difficult to follow the allegiances of American business in recent years. Those shifts were not arbitrary, however: Dan McLaughlin offers a sensible theory here on the strategy that has enabled progressivism to prosper in influential institutions.
Which brings us back to Netflix, and the significance of that company’s message to staff. Play us out, Charles:
Small though it may be, Netflix’s move portends a broader shift in corporate America and beyond — a shift that, once completed, is likely to alter our politics for the better. For nearly a decade now, American progressivism has been engaged in an all-hands-on-deck attempt to brute-force its way to the political change that its most vocal adherents desire. . . . Given the right levers of power, progressives can force Americans to do all sorts of things. Netflix cannot — which means that if Dave Chappelle is popular and Meghan Markle is not, and if shareholders start sending warning signals about the company’s creative direction, the company must adapt. Eventually, even America’s stubborn progressives will be forced to adapt, too.
NAME. RANK. LINK.
NR published a number of posts this week explaining how the Buffalo shooting doesn’t fit into neat political narratives. That aside, a consistent condemnation of violence would be preferred to the current practice of highlighting only those acts that superficially implicate one’s ideological opponents: The Buffalo Massacre
Congress made the right move on Ukraine: Senate Was Right to Pass Ukraine-Aid Bill
Choose wisely, Georgia voters: Yes on Kemp, No on Greene
More on the Bezos–Biden tiff: Jeff Bezos Is Right about Joe Biden and Inflation
Dan McLaughlin: How to Capitalize Politically on Mass Murder
Charles C. W. Cooke: Democrats Can’t Fix What’s Wrong with Joe Biden
Kyle Smith: Biden Calls for More Cowbell
Andrew McCarthy: Durham’s Biggest Challenge: The Jury
Naomi Schaefer Riley: How We Can Actually Help Native Americans
Jack Butler: UFOs Return to Congress
Nate Hochman: R.I.P., Disinformation Governance Board, 2022–2022
Benjamin Zycher looks at what the Biden Interior Department’s lease cancellations are really about: Canceling Federal Oil and Gas Leases Isn’t about Climate Change
As a long-suffering Metro rider, I found this from Dominic Pino to be cathartic: Why More Americans Don’t Ride Public Transit
Marc Joffe poses a hopeful question: Have We Reached Peak China?
LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.
Kyle Smith has some helpful, additional advice for Netflix: The Other Netflix Problem
Armond White praises a gospel doc: How They Got Over — A Miraculous Documentary
Brian Allen pops by an exhibition of ceramicist Simone Leigh’s work in Venice, but some semblance of coherence is lacking: The Dud American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
EXCERPTS: LIKE A TIME-SHARE, FOR ARTICLES
ICYMI, Isaac Schorr and Andrew McCarthy have tag-teamed for some top-notch trial coverage in John Durham’s case against Michael Sussmann. Isaac is on the scene, and Andy’s providing the legal analysis. From Isaac’s opener:
Deborah Shaw, a prosecutor working on Special Counsel John Durham’s team, began her opening statement in the trial of Michael Sussmann by accusing the attorney of lying to the FBI as part of a plot to plant an “October surprise” that would derail the Trump campaign just weeks ahead of the 2016 election.
Addressing the assembled jurors, who were selected Monday, Shaw accused Sussmann of leveraging his “privilege” as a former FBI employee and an attorney at the high-powered Perkins Coie law firm to use the bureau as a “political tool” in service of his then-client, the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“The evidence will show that this is a case about privilege . . . the privilege of a lawyer who thought he could lie to the FBI without consequences,” Shaw said.
Team Biden is misreading the president’s problems, and therefore what to do about them, as reflected in a recent Politico piece. From Charles C. W. Cooke:
Over at Politico, Jonathan Lemire offers his readers a hallucinatory missive, ordered direct from an alternate universe. It’s a good example of the sort of reported essay that begins to crop up ineluctably whenever it dawns upon the D.C. press corps that its personal hopes for the incumbent Democratic president are likely to be dashed. The problem with this president, Lemire suggests throughout, is not that he has attempted to govern in a manner unwarranted by his support in Congress and his popularity in the country at large, but that the “bygone era of D.C. may, indeed, be gone,” and that the White House is only just starting to recognize it. The solution? Going forward, Biden must be “less scripted and more on the offensive.” Out in the distance, one can hear Republican ad-makers popping the champagne. . . .
Throughout Lemire’s piece there is a pervasive implication that bipartisanship is a good in and of itself, and that Republicans are abjuring it once again out of obstinacy, extremism, and spite. To bolster this insinuation, Lemire quotes Biden’s 2020 prediction that “the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House . . . you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” and compares it to Barack Obama’s equally fantastical 2012 prediction that “the GOP’s ‘fever’ of opposition would ‘break’ after his 2012 reelection.” “Both men,” Lemire concludes with a sigh, “were wrong.”
Of course they were “wrong.” Their underlying hypothesis was nonsense. Time and time again, the Democratic Party has promised aloud that, in a few years’ time, the Republican Party will either cease to exist completely or will become an anodyne rubber-stamp. And time and time again, the press has repeated this as if it were serious analysis. There was never a good reason to believe that the election of 2012 — or the election of 2020, or the election of any year — would sweep away the Democratic Party’s institutional opponents. There was never a good reason to believe that the Republican Party’s longstanding political objectives would evaporate when Trump lost his reelection bid. There was never a good reason to believe that Republicans in Congress would simply give up their power once Barack Obama had won reelection. That Biden and Obama seem to have believed otherwise says less about the nature of the Republican Party than it does about the Democrats’ remarkable capacity for totalitarian self-delusion. . . .
It may suit the Democratic Party to pretend that Biden came into office as an elbow-less Santa Claus who couldn’t wait for poker night with John Cornyn, but no respectable journalist should be playing along. Before he was even sworn in, Biden backed the abolition of the filibuster that he’d spent 50 years defending, hinted that he’d be open to destroying the Supreme Court, and began muttering wildly about using the Senate’s reconciliation rules to pass an unsolicited spending package that would have made the tab for World War II look like dinner at Denny’s. Simply put, Lemire has missed the story — which is not about bygone eras or Republican intransigence or a dearth or surfeit of elbows, but about Biden himself, who, no matter his means, chooses the wrong ends as a matter of unlovely routine.
Brittany Bernstein reports on how check-ups have changed:
When Suri Kinzbrunner took her 14-year-old son for a check-up at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s pediatric clinic recently, she expected to be asked to step out of the room for a portion of the visit so her son could discuss private things with the doctor, like whether he feels safe at home.
What she did not expect, however, was for her young homeschooled son to be asked questions about sexual orientation and gender identity which she said left him feeling confused and uncomfortable.
Kinzbrunner, whose husband is active-duty Navy and is stationed in Virginia, says she has long taken her children to Walter Reed for appointments, but missed a few during the pandemic. Although she has eight children, she had never before had these types of questions asked at an appointment.
The appointment began like any other: The doctor asked about the teen’s diet, physical activity, and what his favorite subject is. Then, the doctor asked Kinzbrunner to step out, saying it was standard procedure to ask children over the age of eleven a list of questions in private.
“It wasn’t presented as an option,” she said, adding that she didn’t mind stepping out because she assumed the doctor would ask the types of questions that had been asked in the past.
The teen was confused when the doctor asked whether he identifies as a “he,” “she,” or “they.”
“She just examined my genitals. Why would she ask me that?” Kinzbrunner’s son asked his mom.
More from the Buffalo-shooting editorial:
The Biden administration has been rightly quick to condemn the racial hatred that appears to have fueled the carnage in Buffalo. But it was tongue-tied a month ago when racial hatred appeared to fuel a black man’s shooting spree at a Brooklyn subway station, omitting abundant evidence of that shooter’s racist rants from the complaint it filed in district court. The Capitol rioters are portrayed as white-supremacist domestic-terrorist insurrectionists, while Black Lives Matter anti-police demonstrations are presented as “mostly peaceful protests” no matter how violent they get.
The occasional rioters who do something heinous enough to get charged — such as the left-wing radical lawyers who firebombed a police squad car in New York — are regarded as overzealous activists who merit our sympathy rather than throw-the-book-at-’em condemnation. In a routine that would be comical but for the egregious circumstances, jihadist aggression is met with bemusement over whether we’ll ever know the motive, and progressive admonitions that “violent extremism” is the preferred label since “terrorism” is so “Islamophobic.”
How much easier and healthier it would be to condemn all such violence, whatever the rantings of the perpetrators — to convey a single message, applicable in every such case, that the use of force is the redline in our democracy, warranting universal vilification and vigorous prosecution.
The atrocity in Buffalo raises serious issues: how fringe ideologies interact with mental illness to cause violence; whether our law-enforcement agencies are taking enough action on warning signs; whether they are hamstrung by law and mores that need to be rethought. We would be in a better position to answer these fraught questions if we avoided the farce of politicizing an event when we have barely begun to understand it.
Aaron Morrison, at the Associated Press: Black Lives Matter has $42 million in assets
Greg Ip, at the Wall Street Journal: Crypto Meltdown Exposes Hollowness of Its Libertarian Promise
A. B. Stoddard, at RealClearPolitics: Trump — Maker of Clusters, Not Kings
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, at UnHerd: The desperation of Biden’s Disinformation Board
This just in: National Review cruises are back! National Review Institute is continuing NR’s 20-year tradition. The November 2022 Eastern Caribbean cruise will be similar to past NR cruises but will include new programming, such as breakout sessions, book clubs, and exclusive events for NRI’s 1955 Society. Cruisers are invited to join NRI for a special reception in Fort Lauderdale the evening of November 11. A seven-day journey on the Sky Princess begins at the port of Fort Lauderdale on November 12 and will include stops in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Turks & Caicos, before returning on November 19. Visit nricruise.com for more information and to register.
Apropos of nothing: To me, this is just one of the most plaintive, arresting songs ever performed acoustically. Alice in Chains’ “Nutshell” was a popular one in the dorm rooms of South Jersey when I was dwelling there. It’s also a remarkably depressing song, and its lyrics by Layne Staley do contextualize his overdose death years later.
Wasn’t intending to end this on a downer, really. Got something more uplifting? Shoot a song — something jubilant — this way, for sharing with fellow Joltarians: email@example.com. Thanks for reading.