The Rise of the ‘Never Bidens.’ Plus. . .

Nellie Bowles on ‘Honestly.’ Ben Kawaller meets the reggae heads. Another Tinder inquisition. And much more.

On today’s Front Page from The Free Press: meme stocks are back, Biden buries his head in the sand, Nellie Bowles on Honestly, Ben Kawaller asks if reggae heads can unite America, and more. 

But first, Eli Lake charts the rise of the “Never Biden” donor: 

Joe Biden’s threat last week to freeze arms shipments to Israel along with reports that his administration is withholding intelligence about Hamas leaders’ whereabouts has reverberated throughout U.S. politics. Now, some Never Trump donors say the Biden administration’s policy toward the Jewish state is such a betrayal they’re considering jumping on board the Trump train. 

Call it the rise of the Never Bidens, donors who once were more worried about Trump but now see Joe Biden’s bid for a second term as the greater threat to America. The Free Press spoke with four donors who contributed tens of millions of dollars in the last election cycle. They say they are reconsidering their political giving in light of the president’s approach to the Israel-Hamas war. All of them expressed their frustration with Biden’s CNN interview last Wednesday, in which he said of Israel, “if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah.” 

Cliff Asness, a Republican donor who says he “spent well over seven figures” to support Trump’s primary opponent Nikki Haley, told The Free Press that “My ‘Never Again’ is trumping my ‘Never Trump’ these days.” Continue reading.

WATCH: Is America Racist? Reggae Fans Aren’t So Sure

Ben Kawaller’s nationwide search for the ties that bind continues this week with a trip to the Dallas Reggae Festival. What advice does the “one love” crowd have for a divided America? Read about Ben’s time at the festival, and then watch to find out if Ben has “racist energy.” 

I arrived at last month’s Dallas Reggae Festival in a state of near-total ignorance, as is typical. I can name exactly one reggae artist (Bob Marley), who I am fairly but not completely certain is dead. As for reggae culture, all I knew was that it is about “one love,” which I thought had something to do with our common humanity. That’s in fact what drew me to the festival in the first place. Given that my series Ben Meets America! is all about learning from different communities and attempting to bridge our sociopolitical divides, this crowd seemed like my kind of people.

Interviewing folks at a reggae festival introduces no small degree of selection bias: the “Don’t worry, be happy” crowd probably have unusually sunny outlooks. But the responses I got at least complicate the idea that Americans are living in a pre–race war hellscape.

  1. The latest Gallup survey of Americans’ views on abortion shows a modest uptick in the number who support legalized abortion. Sixty-three percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. (Gallup

  2. The head of Britain’s GCHQ spy agency warned that Vladimir Putin is preparing “physical” attacks against the West. Last month, UK prosecutors accused a British man of conducting hostile state activity after an arson attack on a warehouse belonging to a Ukrainian-linked business in London. (The Telegraph)  

  3. What the right gets right, according to center-left commentator Matthew Yglesias: “Markets, patriotism, and the brutality of human history.” Read this, then his recent essay on what the left gets right. Something to annoy everyone! (Slow Boring

  4. Russia’s supreme court dismissed the dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza’s appeal against a twenty-five-year treason sentence. Read his speech, on the occasion of his conviction in 2023. (Reuters) 

  5. Sweetgreen loses money on its salads. Stock in the yuppie lunch spot of choice is up, but the business still isn’t profitable. The Sweetgreen salad goes for $15, but costs $17.56 to make. (Sherwood)

  6. Portal, we barely knew thee. The video link between Dublin and New York City was supposed to bring two cities—and cultures—closer together. Instead it attracted lewd behavior—from a flashing OnlyFans model to Irishmen brandishing swastikas. And so the Dublin City Council is temporarily pulling the plug on the portal from NYC to the Irish capital. (AP)

  7. First frat bros were guarding the Stars and Stripes; now they’re singing the national anthem at parties. Patriotism is cool again, it seems. (Stanford Daily

  8. A declining share of economic output is going to workers in the form of wages—and no one knows exactly why. Tyler Cowen weighs the various theories. (Bloomberg

  9. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s charity Archewell has been declared “delinquent” and barred from raising or spending any money by the California Attorney General. I guess they’ll have to double down on the jam business! (New York Post)

  10. The British actress Judi Dench has had it with trigger warnings. “If you’re that sensitive, don’t go to the theater,” said the James Bond star. The only theatrical trigger warnings I need relate to uncomfortable seats and overpriced intermission ice cream. (Radio Times

In case you haven’t heard, and we’ve been super subtle about it, my Free Press colleague, TGIF supremo Nellie Bowles, has written a book. It’s called Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches from the Wrong Side of History, and it’s about what the hell happened in 2020 and how Nellie went from paid-up member of the progressive club to apostate. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, get ’em while they’re hot. (And if you have, why not buy another for a friend?) 

And if you still need convincing, Nellie talks about her book on this week’s episode of Honestly. She and Bari (her wife—totally normal workplace over here) talk about the book, what it feels like to walk away from a political movement so central to your identity, and who is cooking dinner tonight. Okay, I’m hearing that last topic didn’t make the final cut, but it’s still worth your time.

Listen here: 

→ Biden buries his head in the sand: While one presidential candidate still refuses to accept that he lost the 2020 election, the other refuses to believe he is behind in the 2024 race, according to new reporting in Axios. After another round of dire polls—including one survey published this week that showed Joe Biden trailing Donald Trump in five of six swing states—the president and his team reportedly don’t believe the numbers. 

“The polling data has been wrong all along,” he said in an interview with CNN last week. 

Biden’s campaign points to national polls, where things aren’t quite so grisly. “In the last twenty-three national polls, I’ve been ahead in ten of them, Trump has been ahead in eight, and we’ve been tied in five,” Biden said at a campaign event in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday. Parking the fact that the election is decided in the swing states, the national picture isn’t exactly reassuring: Trump is narrowly ahead of Biden in both the Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight national averages. 

It’s one thing to spin bad results, but the senior Democrats who spoke to Axios say the pushback is sincere. Their confidence presumably comes from their experience of the midterms, when the polls underestimated Democratic support. The White House is also betting that as Election Day approaches, independents will balk from voting for Trump and break for Biden. Maybe. But it seems as though the Biden campaign is betting everything on the idea that their candidate is obviously superior to the alternative. Is that the best strategy for the most unpopular president in sixty years?   

“Your profile bleeds Judaism”: The Tinder Inquisition continues apace. Take this example from a Jewish single who lives in the South—he wouldn’t give his full name for fear of hurting his dating prospects—who swiped right on Tinder and landed on a woman who had just a few questions about Palestine. “Genocide is taking place. Before we chit chat, are we clear about that?” wrote the match, according to screenshots obtained by The Free Press. The single man never mentioned Israel in his profile, only that he’s Jewish, wants to raise a Jewish family, and likes to host Shabbat dinners. He said he appreciated her honesty but added that Israel is a part of his life, and that he has friends in the IDF. “I don’t think my friends are war criminals. But I respect your opinion and wish you well,” he wrote. The conversation went on, though, and he asked her why she thought to bring up the war in Gaza in the first place. 

“I bring it up because your profile bleeds Judaism. You mention it very overtly and no one needs to say something so loudly if they’re not also trying to cover up and convince themselves of something. It’s overkill. In simple terms. And so I couldn’t help but wonder why.” 

Then, she unmatched him. Two days later, he was permanently banned from the app. He never got a reason for being barred from Tinder—only, on appeal, that “the ban was upheld.” —Suzy Weiss 

Looking for love but fed up with the apps? Send your lonely hearts advertisement to The Free Press Cupid:

→ Kitty comes roaring back: Are we really going to do this whole meme stock thing again? Really? Apparently we are—and all because on Sunday night, the trader known on Reddit as “Roaring Kitty”—real name: Keith Gill, of Reddit’s WallStreetBets fame—posted to an X account he hadn’t used in three years a drawing of a man leaning forward in a chair. Or maybe it was someone else using his account. Who can say?

In any case, that’s all it took for the madness to take hold. GameStop, the struggling video game company that went to the stratosphere in 2021 during the first meme stock bubble, shot up 74 percent on Monday. Another meme stock, the struggling theater chain AMC, doubled Monday morning. Volatility went crazy. Volume was nuts. And all because someone posted a sketch of a guy leaning forward! For those who prefer to live offline, a meme stock, as it’s now defined, is the stock of a money-losing company that rises not for any fundamental reason but because traders far from Wall Street simply will it to.

“Is this just how life is now?” asked Matt Levine, the great Bloomberg columnist, incredulously. As Levine pointed out, back in 2021, after all the exuberance had faded, GameStop “mostly fell back to earth.”

Which is what should happen. You have these moments when the market loses its mind, but inevitably those moments pass, the market corrects, and people who were caught up in the frenzy lose money. Burned by the experience, they put whatever they have left in an index fund.

What’s not supposed to happen is the reinflation of a bubble that ended just three years earlier. It’s as if all those meme stock traders didn’t learn anything the last time around; namely, that you should invest for the long haul. What they learned instead is that when they pushed up the stock of a lousy company, they could inflict a lot of pain on big-shot Wall Street guys who were betting against the stock. And that was fun. They learned that thanks to social media, they could create a community of traders who could be there for each other. They learned that having a Robinhood account wasn’t all different from having a FanDuel account.

Yes, Matt, this is how life is now. Let’s get used to it, pal. —Joe Nocera 

Mary recommends the novels of Wendell Berry: Living in an ultra-liberal small village on the coast of Maine isn’t always easy for anyone who prefers The Free Press to The New York Times. But Wendell Berry’s Port William series reaches across the aisle, softens the hearts of the crustiest of ex–New Yorkers, and offers common ground for talking about what really matters.

Phil recommends an ’80s British sitcom that can help people understand the “crazy, mixed-up world we live in”: Not enough people have watched Yes Minister (and Yes, Prime Minister), a show about government that, decades after it was made, still serves as an accurate—and hilarious—study in how decisions are really made in government. 

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Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

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