Amazon Bends the Knee, Again

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Our Amazon Eye Candy du Jour is a typical item you can find on their website via a cursory search for book censorship products. Designed to appeal to the insufferably smug, who need (in this case) a throw pillow to signal their virtue.

If that applies to you, please feel free to click away and buy it via my paid link. But if you really want to impress me with your commitment to free expression, buy a banned book from Amazon instead, like When Harry Became Sally by Ryan T. Anderson.

Oh, wait. You can't. Amazon banned it from their shelves back in 2021.

Okay, old news. But that's not all, according to CongressCritter Jim Jordan::

That leads off a thread, so click over if you'd like the gritty details. Or you can pop over to this NYPost story: Amazon ‘censored’ COVID-19 vaccine books after ‘feeling pressure’ from Biden White House.

The Biden administration pressured Amazon to censor books related to COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021 citing concerns that the material contained “propaganda” and “misinformation,” internal company emails released by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appear to show.

The documents were obtained by the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government via subpoena, Jordan said in a X thread Monday, which he dubbed, “THE AMAZON FILES.”

“Who can we talk to about the high levels of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation of [sic] Amazon?” Andrew Slavitt, a former White House senior advisor for COVID-19 response, wrote to the online retailer in a March 2, 2021, email, released by Jordan.

Amazon didn't tell Slavitt to bleep off and read the Constitution. Instead their internal discussion was how to mollify the White House thug while not making the mistake of…

“We will not be doing a manual intervention today,” an email between Amazon executives reads. “The team/PR feels very strongly that it is too visible, and will further compound the Harry/Sally narrative (which is getting the Fox News treatment today apparently), and won’t fix the problem long-term … because of customer behavior associates.”

Yes, they were getting bad publicity from their overt "Harry/Sally" censorship, and needed to avoid being "too visible" in suppressing the anti-vax products.

On a related note, Stephen Moore describes the opening of a different offensive front in Biden's War Against the Internet. After he relates the general decades-long success of Uncle Stupid's general laissez-faire policies:

But now the Biden administration -- which never saw an industry it didn't want to regulate and control -- has deputized the Federal Communications Commission to police the internet. They are doing so under the guise of "preventing digital discrimination."

President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill appropriated $65 billion to help expand access to high-speed internet -- even though nearly everyone already has it. Worse yet, he is playing the race card, and the new law empowers the FCC to effectively establish internet "equal access." The FCC lawyers then chose a standard known as "disparate impact," which means if they can find a minority neighborhood somewhere at any time that lacks the same internet access as a high-income area, they can slap the telecom companies with a lawsuit. You can almost hear the trial lawyers drooling.

Have we mentioned our general fill-in-the-blank rule lately? "There's nothing wrong with        that government can't make worse." Today's answer is "the Internet".

Ahem. We were talking about book banning, right? Author Jonah Winter notes that the censors don't need to ban books, if they can stop them from being published in the first place, and publishing companies are doing that just fine on their own: Cancel Culture Dominates Children’s Literature.

In 2016 Scholastic canceled the children’s book “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” two weeks after publishing it. The book’s images of smiling enslaved people set off a social-media tsunami and a petition demanding cancellation. It didn’t matter that the illustrator was black, or that the editor, Andrea Pinkney, was black and also a towering figure in the children’s book world.

What mattered was that a social-media mob could force a major publisher to stop distributing a book. When the news broke, one of my editors phoned. I had a contract with him for a children’s book about slavery, and though he’d approved the final draft, he was nervous. It didn’t matter that my manuscript did the opposite of sugarcoating slavery. It didn’t matter that I had won awards for “Lillian’s Right to Vote,” one of many books I’d written on racial justice. My editor worried about public perception of a book “by a white male author, edited by a white male editor, about a white male slave owner.” Seventeen months later, after many pointless revisions, the contract was canceled. No book.

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Last year, we looked at the flap over the removal of a Jonah Winters book about Roberto Clemente from a Florida school library shelves. That removal was reversed a few days later. Now, Winters reflects:

Note that because I am white, I wouldn’t be able to publish a book about Clemente today, thanks to “progressive” activists’ illiberal code.

If you don't feel like buying that throw pillow, Winters' Clemente book is available at Amazon too. Link at your right.

Also of note:

  • To be followed by the bankruptcy of a lot of other stuff. Peter Suderman writes in the current issue of Reason on The Bankruptcy of Bidenomics. About that term, by the way:

    The term had begun as a derisive label for the president's economic foibles. An unsigned July 2022 editorial in The Wall Street Journal bore the headline "Bidenomics 101." It took issue with Biden's public demand that "companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump" bring down their prices—a sort of Nixonian jawboning where you respond to inflation by trying to bully companies into keeping prices low. The president, the editorial charged, "doesn't appear to know anything about how the private economy works."

    Nearly a year later, in a speech in Chicago, Biden set out to claim Bidenomics as his own. The president framed his approach as "a fundamental break from the economic theory that has failed America's middle class for decades now."

    Rather than "trickle-down economics" that helped only the already well-off, Biden said, he was pursuing an economic agenda that rejected the "belief that we should shrink public investment in infrastructure and public education." He touted his record,crediting three major laws he'd signed—the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act—with helping to set the U.S. economy on a better track. "Guess what?" he said. "Bidenomics is working."

    Suderman goes on to describe how dishonest Biden's rhetoric is, but that reference to "trickle-down economics" really deserves extra scorn. As he notes: "Bidenomics was, at heart, a philosophy of throwing money at programs, people, political allies, and favored constituencies." And (somehow) that firehose of taxpayer money was supposed to somehow show up in peoples' wallets.

    Or, more accurately, show up back in their wallets after they'd sent it to DC in the first place.

    Doesn't that richly deserve the "trickle-down" epithet?

  • "Lord, give me fiscal sanity, but not yet!" Damien Fisher does not report that our state's representatives recited that prayer the other day, but they could have: NH Delegation Goes Postal Over Possible Closure of Manchester Facility.

    The check, they say, is in the mail. But where is the Democrats’ plan to end the billion-dollar losses at the U.S. Postal Service?

    All four members of the New Hampshire federal delegation held a press conference demanding the USPS keep its processing and distribution center in Manchester fully up and running.

    The USPS recently announced the Manchester facility will undergo a euphemistically titled process called an “operational evaluation.” That evaluation could mean layoffs or closure for the center.

    Democrats Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas spoke outside the center Monday, vowing to keep the facility operating in the face of dire financial losses. The four even penned a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy demanding he keep the Manchester site open.

    In case you're not familiar with St. Augustine of Hippo's famous prayer: here's St Augustine’s Battle With Chastity.

    And in case you're not familiar with the Pun Salad position on the United States Postal Service, see USPS Delenda Est and The USPS's "core problem" is its continued existence.