The Weekend Jolt

Media

China’s Disgusting Propaganda Campaign

A screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping during a show commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, June 28, 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Reports have popped up sporadically over the past year that China is upping its online disinformation/propaganda game to give Russia a run for its money. Those in the American media who might elevate this pernicious garbage should take note.

Exhibit A is MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who shared a state-sponsored cartoon mocking America over shooting deaths. It depicted a couple of neatly dressed chaps sharing a toast while a yokel brandishing firearms dances near a fresh grave (representing the victims) against a blood-spattered background. The caption: “How a gun-happy nation spends its #FourthofJuly weekend.”

With thumb and forefinger contemplatively stroking chin, Hayes tweeted, “Continue to be grimly fascinated by how much America’s truly exceptional levels of gun violence figure in the perception of the country around the world.”

As David Harsanyi writes,

First of all, this ChiCom propaganda — written in English — isn’t directed at the Chinese people who are banned from Twitter. It’s directed at folks like MSNBC’s Chris Hayes . . .

And he fell for it. Isaac Schorr also picks up on this:

The problem for Hayes is that the outlet is not a reflection of public opinion in China, much less around the world. It’s operated by the Chinese government itself which — as the United States’ chief geopolitical rival — has an interest in distracting from the genocide it is committing against its Uyghur Muslim minority, among other grievous human rights abuses.

It’s disturbing that Hayes would amplify and affirm such a stereotype propagated by the CCP, but it’s also worth simply noting the category error he’s made, having mistaken the motivated and shoddy sophistry of a genocidal regime for the perception of the United States “around the world.”

This is but a snapshot in Twitter time, but it speaks to a broader strategy of China’s shifting its online propaganda from nation-aggrandizing info ops to more Russian-ized digital campaigns with a malicious bent (including the spreading of disinformation about COVID-19), as detailed last fall by NBC.

What makes the above cartoon effective is that, as David notes, the inherent anti-gun message of it resonates with a certain segment of this country. Yet, once in a while, these operators set aside their M.O. of simply inflaming existing divisions and tell you what’s really on their minds. Jimmy Quinn finds such a message from Li Yang, China’s consul general in Rio de Janeiro, mocking — almost delighting in — the Surfside tragedy.

This is tantamount to a U.S. diplomat trolling Iran over earthquakes. It’s about as gross and bereft of class as one can imagine. And it’s worth remembering any time we see state-run outlets attempting social commentary on America.

Okay, let’s take a break here . . . and move to some in-house business of a much more positive persuasion.

Burke to Buckley Program Deadline Is Almost Here

Before commencing with the linking, let it be stated that applications are due July 15 (that’s just around the corner, folks) for the fall session of National Review Institute’s Burke to Buckley Program. Applicants have two options for in-person programs: Chicago, click here; or Dallas, click here.

These classes generally are designed for mid-career professionals, from a variety of vocations outside public policy. This program is a deep dive into the foundations of conservative thought — and, as a pleasant perk, participants also receive invitations to exclusive networking happy hours and other events when they occur.

For more information, visit the site and see NRI’s crisp description here:

The Program follows a syllabus, designed by NRI trustee and celebrated academic Daniel J. Mahoney, that fosters a rigorous examination of conservative principles and how they apply to the issues of the day. Incorporating readings from Burke to Buckley, the syllabus focuses on the foundations of conservative thought. For each session of the eight seminars, participants are expected to complete a reading assignment which typically takes between one and two hours to complete. During each meeting, participants will discuss the readings with a leading conservative thinker. Past discussion leaders have included luminaries such as Lee Edwards, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Bobbi Herzberg, John Hillen, Yuval Levin, Christopher Wolfe, and John Yoo.

Speaking of luminaries . . .

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

In case you missed it last weekend, here’s why the Founders deserve those fireworks: A Day to Celebrate the American Promise

ARTICLES

Ryan Mills: Welcome to George Floyd Square, a Sacred Space Marked by Murder and Mayhem

Brittany Bernstein: ‘Nearly Impossible’ for Seniors to Find Home Health Aides, amid Enhanced Unemployment Pay

Philip Klein: Republicans’ Narrow Health-Care Window

Isaac Schorr: An Olympic Weightlifter Speaks Out on the Participation of Transgender Athletes in Women’s Sports

David Harsanyi: Was Tucker Carlson Spied On?

David Harsanyi: Andrew Cuomo’s Gun Gambit

Kyle Smith: Good News, Criminals, Manhattan’s Next D.A. Has Your Back

Cameron Hilditch: Ban Critical Race Theory from K-12 Classrooms: A Response to the New York Times

Jack Crowe: No, Evidence of the Lab Leak Is Not a ‘Mirage’

Dan McLaughlin: Joe Biden’s Baseball Tall Tale

John Yoo: How Lawsuits against the Trump Organization Have Weakened the Presidency

Kevin Williamson: Socialism in Action

Victoria Coates: The Life and Times of Donald Henry Rumsfeld

CAPITAL MATTERS

Sally Pipes looks back at the CDC’s record during this pandemic and sees something far short of a success story: America’s Centers for Disease Confusion

Andreas Hellmann calls the latest G-7-backed proposal a “global cartel” for taxation: Biden’s Global Minimum Tax: A Cartel to Raise Taxes and End Competition

Daniel Pilla looks into IRS mission creep: The New Child Tax Credit: Welfare Administered by the IRS

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

In all the senseless bang-bang and boom-boom of the latest Marvel movie, Kyle Smith sees a contender for the worst movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Bland Widow

Armond White looks back at the release of Baby Boy 20 years ago and its lessons that still hold today: Baby Boy, a Timeless Warning

Brian Allen has discovered an exhibition whose target demo is clearly me — a collection of photographs showing state capitols across the country. Aren’t these buildings magnificent? He provides a peek inside here: A Pictorial Tour of America’s State Capitols

And it’s time for the movie industry’s “midyear reckoning.” Armond breaks down his top picks of 2021 to date: Best Films of 2021 So Far

IN THE WORDS OF IAN MALCOLM, THE EXCERPTS . . . FIND A WAY

You may have noticed the Gulf of Mexico was on fire last weekend, thanks to an underwater pipeline leak. The first takeaway here is that the water was doing a bad job at being water. But other elemental forces were at work. Kevin explains how the fire, courtesy of Mexican state-owned oil company Pemex, is “socialism in action”:

When our progressive friends talk about “socialism,” they inevitably point to some rich capitalist European country with a larger welfare state and higher taxes than ours, but actual socialism — central planning, government control of the commanding heights of the economy, state-run enterprises — looks a lot more like Pemex.

National oil companies are the living dinosaurs of socialism. Even as the purportedly socialist Nordic countries spent decades privatizing everything from state-owned banks in Norway to the postal service in Sweden, state-owned oil companies still soldiered on. In many cases (as in Norway’s Equinor, formerly Statoil) even those have been partially privatized and are operated as shareholder-owned firms in which there are private investors in addition to the state. As a rule of thumb, the more completely an oil company is controlled by the state — the more socialistic it is — the less responsibly it behaves on every criterion from the treatment of workers to corruption to environmental impact.

Pemex offers us its most sober assurance that there was no environmental damage associated with the fire that had the Gulf of Mexico doing its best impersonation of the Cuyahoga River in 1969. But only a fool takes such an organization at its word.

Pemex is a state-run enterprise that was created the way socialists prefer: by nationalizing the assets of privately owned oil companies in Mexico and reorganizing that expropriated wealth as a state-owned monopoly. It has one of the worst environmental records of any company in the world, and its executives consistently lie about, minimize, and cover up its misdeeds.

Remember how the CDC (and FDA) paused the J&J vaccine over a one-in-a-million risk? Sally Pipes tracks how that ridiculous decision likely is linked to plummeting vaccination rates since:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deserve much of the blame for plummeting vaccination rates. Public-health officials have botched their pandemic response and messaging nearly every step of the way — inadvertently stoking skepticism of the vaccines.

Take the CDC’s worst mistake: its decision, in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration, to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for ten days because of a risk of blood clots. The risk ended up being less than one in a million.

That overreaction triggered an immediate drop in public trust in the vaccine. Immediately after the CDC advised halting the J&J shot, the number of daily first doses of all vaccines administered plummeted by some 40 percent compared with weeks earlier.

Recent data have confirmed just how damaging that choice was. According to recent polling, more than 40 percent of unvaccinated Americans say that their biggest concern is that the J&J shot causes blood clots. More than one-quarter believe that every vaccine causes blood clots.

Ryan Mills travels to Minneapolis and reports on how the tragedy of George Floyd has been compounded by the tragedy of the city square bearing his name:

For most of the last year, activists have closed this South Minneapolis intersection to traffic, blocking the roads with concrete barriers and junk, and declaring it an autonomous zone, “The Free State of George Floyd.” In the wake of Floyd’s death last year under police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee, activists have been holding this neighborhood hostage, declaring they won’t return the streets until state and city leaders meet their 24 wide-ranging demands.

The streets are partially open to traffic now. The city cleared the barriers in early June. But activists have re-erected some of them, and their demands are still painted on the road.

. . .  And in a city where crime is on the rise generally, violence has been particularly pronounced in and around the “sacred” square. Over the last year, at least two people have been murdered within one block of 38th and Chicago, and dozens more have been raped, robbed, or assaulted.

Neighbors and business owners who spoke to National Review said that living and working in the area over the past 13 months has been “frustrating” and “mentally draining.” Some older residents said they fear for their lives and the lives of their family members.

Victoria Coates gives a different perspective on Don Rumsfeld’s life, in a piece examining its intersection with six historical episodes — drawing from her work as his archivist and research director for his memoir. Here’s an account of how he learned of Nixon’s resignation:

In early August 1974, the Rumsfelds were taking a much-needed vacation in Greece and the south of France. In the days before cell phones, this meant effective isolation from both Brussels and Washington. Rumsfeld had spent the early summer managing the most recent crisis between Greece and Turkey, ostensibly both NATO allies, more or less single-handedly as the administration increasingly turned inward to protect the embattled president. He needed a break. He knew events back home were serious, but it had not occurred to him that Nixon might resign. The end therefore came as a surprise to him. On a drive through Saint-Tropez, Joyce gently insisted he pull over and look at the newspaper she had been reading. The news was sensational. She didn’t want to upset the children in the back seat, as they knew the president. According to the reports, Nixon was close to becoming the first American president to resign, which would make Rumsfeld’s old friend from Congress, Gerald Ford, president of the United States. When they arrived at their destination, there was a telephone message that the vice president’s office wanted Rumsfeld to fly home immediately. He was actually in the air when Nixon dramatically departed by helicopter from the White House on August 9, 1974. Rumsfeld was picked up at the airport by his former congressional aide Dick Cheney in an ancient VW bug. They went straight to the White House to begin the transition to the Ford administration, in which they would both serve at the highest levels.

Shout-Outs

Kat Rosenfield, at Common Sense with Bari Weiss: April Powers Condemned Jew-Hate. Then She Lost Her Job.

Michael Robillard, at Quillette: On the Dangers of Big COVID

Amanda Mayer, at Campus Reform: Bard College course: ‘Abolishing Prisons and the Police’

Aaron Sibarium, at the Washington Free Beacon: 3 Scientists Drop Names From Lancet Statement on COVID Origins

CODA

Looking for a song for your summer? Something that captures the roll-the-top-down, hit-the-road impulse that, if airline and hotel prices are any gauge, we’re all feeling nowadays? Rebirth Brass Band and, specifically, “What Goes Around Comes Around,” should fit the bill and then some.

It’s the rare immediately catchy song that doesn’t get any less infectious on repeated listens. Just try not to swerve whilst driving.

And, for a bonus track, James writes in with a “change of pace” for this section, offering Khatia Buniatishvili’s rendition of Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G-flat Major. The masterful performance can be heard here. Enjoy.

Got a tune? Want to share? Send a link to jberger@nationalreview.com. Thanks for reading.

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