TikTok Takes Center Stage in U.S.-China Cold War - The Friday AM Quickie 3/23/23

Exciting news! A new writer will be joining the Quickie next week. Robert Hitt will be coming to us from The American Prospect; he's also studying for a master's in public policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Please join me in welcoming Robert on Monday! - Corey

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Is Jamaal Bowman 'Brainwashed,' or Are His Colleagues?

Progressive Democratic New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman is all but alone in pushing back on the anti-China fervor in Congress, which manifested yesterday in a notably hostile House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing featuring TikTok CEO Shou Chew.

"Why the hell are we whipping ourselves into a hysteria to scapegoat TikTok?" Bowman asked the New York Times, which tempered accusations that he's some kind of shill for the company by noting that he doesn't accept corporate campaign donations.

Bowman said he wants to see Congress take a more holistic approach to regulating social media giants — rather than just targeting one company. "We didn't talk about a ban on Facebook" after Russia used it to influence the 2016 election, he said.
But his unexpected campaign has left many of his colleagues baffled or outright hostile, particularly as some of his arguments have echoed TikTok's own talking points.
"Anyone defending TikTok is either too caught up in being a social media celebrity or they've been brainwashed by the Chinese government's propaganda,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer, a moderate New Jersey Democrat in favor of banning the app or forcing its sale. "Both put our national security at risk."

There are legitimate concerns about surveillance and propaganda on TikTok but, as Bowman points out, the same is true for many made-in-America apps. China's commerce ministry said yesterday that it will "firmly oppose" any efforts by the Biden administration to force a sale of TikTok; it seems to me that the trade war is the real story here.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin justified the Pentagon's $842 billion budget request as being "driven by the seriousness of our strategic competition with the People's Republic of China." Finally, for what it's worth, the U.S. Navy is denying China's claim that the USS Milius destroyer "illegally" entered Chinese territorial waters this week. Everybody chill out a little please!

Trumpdates: No Explanation for Grand Jury Postponement

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office yesterday told House Republicans to buzz off after they demanded documents related to his pending prosecution of Donald Trump over his hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. Bragg's office rejected the GOP demand as an illegitimate and "unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution," but left the door open to a meeting with House Reps. to assess the legitimacy of their concerns. Bragg's grand jury did not meet yesterday as expected, Insider reports; an indictment could still drop next week, or maybe never -- nobody really seems to know! HuffPost offers an analysis of the possible charges that argues that even if the legal case against Trump is solid, "the real difficulty will be managing the political fallout."

Strike Report: Labor Is Making Gains in California

The Los Angeles Times reports that this week's three-day strike by Los Angeles Unified School District workers is the tip of the spear for struggling workers in California, with Democrats in the state legislature pushing multiple bills to improve conditions and increase wages.

Bills introduced this year include a mandate for a $25 minimum wage for health workers; a proposal to more than double paid sick time; and new regulations for fast-food franchisees regarding wages and hours. Meanwhile, a ballot measure will ask voters next year if they support raising the statewide minimum wage to $18 an hour, which, if passed, would make it the highest in the nation.

Meanwhile in New York, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Amazon engaged in illegal union busting. Worker unrest is intensifying in France over the government's plan to raise the retirement age; and in Germany, transport workers are planning a one-day nationwide strike on Monday over pay.


  • India Court Convicts Opposition Leader of Defaming Modi Rahul Gandhi of the Congress Party was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday for calling fascist Prime Minister Narendra Modi a thief in 2019. via the Guardian.
  • Mass Arrests in Israel as Knesset Moves to Shield Netanyahu from Justice "On Thursday, at least 75 people across the country were arrested, including 18 who police said sprayed red paint on a police station in southern Tel Aviv, and one person who allegedly used a flagpole to hit Avi Dichter, a minister and senior member of [far-right Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's Likud party." via the Guardian.
  • Anti-Trans Bills Advance in Iowa, Nebraska State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha has officially given up on her filibuster; meanwhile, Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds signed two bills persecuting trans kids. via the Associated Press and NBC News.
  • Police Will Interview Peter Thiel About His Romantic Partner's Possible Suicide "Miami police have been in contact with [far-right billionaire] Thiel, and will interview him as part of the probe." via the Intercept.
  • Fetterman's Recovery Going Well, Return Expected Soon Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman's office says he's more than a week out from returning to the office after receiving treatment for post-stroke depression. via the Associated Press.


5 million

That's how many gallons of fresh drinking water have been wasted every day for the past seven years due to a single leaking mainline pipe in Jackson, Mississippi, where residents "endure chronic boil water notices that traverse the city like rolling blackouts." Another unresolved leak, the New York Times reports, "is spewing water 30 feet in the air like a geyser and losing the city as much as one million gallons a day."


3/24: It's an All Calls Casual Friday! Sam is back from sunny Florida after his appearance on the PBD Podcast. Him and Emma are then joined by comedian Andy Kindler, host of the Thought Spiral podcast!


Crowder and Alex Jones Beg Trump to CHILL

Alex Jones, voice of moderation and restraint.

Tulsi Grifting International Women's Day

How much of a following does she really have anymore?


"This isn't about helping public schools. It's a program to give a break to affluent parents who want to send their children to private Christian schools. Period."

-- Glennda Hardin, a 73-year-old retired teacher, speaking to NBC News about a Republican plan called the The Texas Parental Bill of Rights, which, in addition to imposing Florida-style censorship, "would give parents who want to pull their children out of public school $8,000 a year to cover home-schooling expenses or private school tuition."

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