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Not giving up!
May 11, 2022
[No audio version for today’s newsletter.]
Today’s newsletter will be short and to the point. My Managing Editor and I stole away mid-week to attend an Angels baseball game, where Shohei Ohtani received his M.V.P. award for the 2021 season. After receiving two Ohtani bobbleheads, we watched rookie Reid Detmers pitch a no-hit game. Because of the no-hitter, we stayed until the last pitch. We arrived home at the same hour that I usually hit “send” on the newsletter. Please excuse the rough format tonight. I will be back to usual form tomorrow.
Biden vows to fight inflation.
On Tuesday, Biden’s staff reacted to the narrative that voters care only about inflation, not about losing fundamental liberties. Biden announced that tackling inflation would be his ‘top domestic priority’ and identified a series of actions that can’t possibly affect inflation. Presidents have virtually no control over the economy, despite strong popular belief to the contrary. The best part of Biden’s announcement was that he went on the attack against Republicans, claiming that their plan to combat inflation involves increasing taxes for the middle class while cutting taxes for the rich and corporations. MSN, Biden says inflation is his ‘top priority,’ lashes out at Republican plan.
Biden’s attack on the GOP has the virtue of being true. The disastrous plan proposed by GOP Senator Rick Scott would raise taxes on the 50% of Americans at the bottom of the wage scale while putting Medicare and Social Security on a five-year timeline to expiration. Scott was so incensed at the pointed attacks on his plan that he “went ballistic” with claims that Biden is “incapacitated, confused, and unwell,” and demanded that Biden resign. Scott’s ugly attack is a sign of worse to come, so Democrats should go on the offensive by using Scott’s plan as a millstone to scuttle every GOP candidacy.
Elon Musk says he will restore Trump to Twitter.
Elon Musk claimed that Twitter’s permanent ban of Trump was “morally wrong” and promised to restore Trump to the social media platform. Musk’s statement proves two important points. First, it demonstrates that he does not understand plain words of the English language like “morally” and “wrong.” Second, it proves that Musk is unfit to run a social media company. Trump used Twitter and Facebook as part of his effort to overthrow the US government.
Twitter and other social media companies have value only because they exist in a functioning democracy. If Musk allows Twitter to become a weapon in the destruction of democracy, Twitter will become subservient to the state, a mouthpiece for propaganda approved by an autocratic, thin-skinned dictator. See, e.g., Russia. At that point, Musk’s investment in Twitter will be valued in rubles.
The GOP’s war on corporations.
The GOP has started a culture war and they don’t like the fact that corporations are attempting to protect their employees. We know that Ron DeSantis is trying to run Disney out of Florida by removing special tax breaks and local control that enticed Disney to locate a major theme park in alligator-infested swamps.
White supremacist and insurrectionist Josh Hawley doesn’t want to be left out of the Disney bashing, so he has proposed a bill that would effectively eliminate Disney’s copyright protection for the original Mickey Mouse (the “Steamboat Willy” version, not the “Mickey and Friends” version). See Variety, Sen. Josh Hawley Seeks to Strip Disney’s Copyrights.
For a guy who graduated from Yale Law School and clerked for John Roberts, Hawley seems to be shockingly ignorant of the US Constitution—a fact we already knew because of his effort to block the count of the electoral ballots in 2020. But his efforts to pass legislation designed to strip a corporation of existing copyright protections is “blatantly unconstitutional”—egregiously so in light of the fact that the legislation is designed to punish Disney for exercising its right to free speech.
For a party that purports to support businesses and free speech, Hawley’s legislation sounds a lot like Vladimir Putin’s legislation to punish anyone who calls Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine a “war.”
Public relations firm advising corporations to “remain silent” on draft opinion overruling Roe and Casey.
Judd Legum at Popular Information published an important story about a right-leaning public relations firm advising its clients to remain silent about the draft opinion leaked last week. See Popular Information, PR giant advising corporate clients to stay silent on abortion rights (popular.info). Per Legum, the public relations firm Zeno told its clients,
Do not take a stance you cannot reverse, especially when the decision is not final. This topic is a textbook “50/50” issue. . . . We anticipate the story will dominate newsfeeds for the rest of the week . . . Do not engage with direct questions about your company’s position. Whether in direct messages or public-facing posts, do not respond to questions about where your company stands on this issue.
I have truncated the advice from the public relations firm (Zeno), so to read its statements in context, see Legum’s article. But here is the point: Zeno is wrong. Criminalizing abortion is not a “50/50” issue, nor will it blow over in a week, nor is it appropriate for corporations to remain silent when the constitutional rights of 50% of their employees are on the verge of being abrogated by judicial fiat.
And, of course, the advice by Zeno flatly contradicts its public statements about support for women. As Legum notes, in a March 2021 statement posted to its corporate website, Zeno said that everyone must make “a commitment to a gender equal world,” which includes “speaking up in the face of inequality.”
The forthcoming decision overturning Roe and Casey unduly burdens women while insulating men from responsibility for their actions. There is no “middle ground” for corporations who employ women—either they support gender equality and the right of women to control their reproductive choices, or they do not. It is time to take a page from the GOP playbook and start playing hardball with corporations. Do not let them avoid answering uncomfortable questions.
I am going to resort to a baseball analogy but stick with me—I have point, I promise. The Angels were trouncing the Tampa Bay Rays so badly that the Rays gave up trying before the game was over. In the bottom of the 8th inning, the Rays used an outfielder as a relief pitcher (to keep their real relief pitchers fresh for upcoming games).
Using an outfielder as a relief pitcher is like asking a front-desk receptionist to step in for a brain surgeon who is delayed on the golf course. The Rays outfielder was throwing pitches at 52 miles-per-hour. For comparison, a nine-year-old little league player can throw a pitch at 50 miles per hour. But unlike a nine-year-old little league pitcher, the Rays’ outfielder was throwing to Mike Trout (3x MVP), Shohei Ohtani (MVP), and Anthony Rendon (All Star).
For the Angels hitters, it was like batting practice—with home runs and doubles from nearly every hitter. For the Rays, it was humiliating. It was embarrassing to watch. It was unprofessional for a professional team to signal to a crowd of 40,000 that they didn’t care enough to compete. When the Rays finally got to bat in the top of the ninth inning, their batters were defeated and listless, eyeing the tunnel to the locker room before the last out was recorded. The Rays batters gave up, and a rookie player recorded a no-hitter for only the twenty-second time since 1901.
Here’s my point: Giving up is contagious. In baseball, anything is possible. Trailing 12-0 in the ninth inning does not guarantee you will lose—but giving up does. If we believe the naysayers, we are giving up. Major league teams play baseball games until the last out because they never know what will happen. We should contest every election until the last vote is counted. Giving up is contagious, but so is confidence. Don’t give up!
Talk to you tomorrow!