Friday Reads: Right-Wing Overreach Seems to Be Upon Us

The Foxes (German: Die Füchse), 1913, Franz Marc.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There are signs of backlash to moves by the Libertarian Right, the White Evangelical Nationalist Crusade, and the advance of global Fascism. They’re little signs mind you, but they are definitely there.

The major obvious overreach is the Putin invasion of Ukraine. But, we have some small hints that our markets and our political system may be waking up and pushing back.

Nothing made me happier today than to see the announcement I expected this morning after the crazy cryptocurrency market took a major dive and Tesla fell drastically. Nothing like a good dose of market discipline to kick a guy when he thinks he is winning. From WAPO: “Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter deal is temporarily on hold. The Tesla CEO, who has been seeking Twitter investors as his EV company sheds $400 billion in value, later says that he’s ‘still committed’ to the acquisition.”

I did mention a while ago that the entire thing could blow up in many different ways for many different reasons. Tesla has been overpriced for quite some time and cryptocurrency is basically a wild gamble no matter what they say about it. Sometimes, the favorite gets outfoxed.

Elon Musk tweeted early Friday that his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter was temporarily on hold, injecting fresh doubt into his ownership push just as a stock downturn had forced him to scramble for new investors.

Musk said the deal was on hold as he examined the number of spam accounts on the site, appearing to tie the delay to due diligence on an issue he has raised as a motivating factor to become Twitter’s owner. But the revelation sent the company’s stock down sharply, as investors signaled their doubt about whether the deal would go through.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” he tweeted, linking to a Reuters article from last week citing a Twitter filing.

Roughly two hours later, he added: “Still committed to acquisition.”

My guess is he’s looking for a reason to lower the offering price. My youngest daughter–the Market Maven–and I frequently discuss that we do not understand the demand for cryptocurrency. My Brother-in-law who also has been into investing for some time and is a Tax Attorney/CPA sneers at it too. I just come at it as a Financial Economist who believes currency needs to be backed up by actual production and a country’s laws. Maybe, I’m seriously old-fashioned. The last time I heard all the crypto bots tweet “To the Moon” I realized a crash was on the horizon for them. My jaded attitudes based on too-good-to-be-true have served me well in every market crash I’ve lived through. I bail. New York Magazine has this headline: “The Crash of Crypto’s Perpetual Wealth Machine” written by Kevin T. Dugan.

Just about four months ago, billionaire and Wall Street legend Mike Novogratz went to a Brooklyn tattoo parlor a few blocks down from Jim Cramer’s bar and, at 58, made permanent his devotion to a speculative new cryptocurrency. The result, on his left arm, was a large wolf howling at the moon. “I’m officially a Lunatic!!!” he tweeted to his more than 400,000 followers.

The ink refers to Luna, one half of a duo of digital currencies that were supposed to act as a perpetual wealth-creation machine, a way to always make money through the magic of code and financial engineering. At the time, Luna was on a massive run, up more the 1,000 percent over the prior six months. Novogratz is known as much for his career in the buttoned-up world of high finance — he’s an ex-partner at Goldman Sachs and Fortress Investment Group, an investor who lost two ten-figure fortunes and is on his third — as for being someone who has chafed against those boundaries. Several years ago, he was among the first high-profile Establishment finance types to dive all-in on crypto. (The ex-Princeton wrestler also hired Hilary Duff to play at his birthday party a few years ago.) But even for Novogratz, the tattoo seemed a little over-the-top. When someone tweeted their bewilderment that Novogratz would have gone so far, Do Kwon, the creator of Luna, chimed in, unprompted: “don’t worry it wasn’t much.”

This week, though, the critics who warned that Kwon’s perpetual wealth machine was too good to be true and that Novogratz might come to regret that tattoo before long were vindicated when Luna and its partner coin, Terra, both imploded in spectacular fashion. Terra is supposed to be trade reliable at the value of exactly one U.S. dollar, but it plummeted to 29 cents on Wednesday morning. Luna was down 99 percent since its highs last month. More than $40 billion in wealth — no small part of it from retail investors — was gone in a matter of hours. The shock of the sudden collapse sent the price of bitcoin falling to its lowest point since July, exposing how a coin labeled a Ponzi scheme by its critics had impacted the larger market in digital assets. Meanwhile, shares in leading U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase were off by 25 percent, and the trillion-dollar-plus crypto industry is teeming with rumors about large funds or companies that may be on the brink of failure.

Le Petit Prince et le renard, Antione de Saint Exupery,1943

Does this sound like a rational market to you?

The Oil and Gas Industry is also overreaching which caused me to once more troll one of my senators on Twitter. This is what’s going on and the Oil and Gas Industry is once more outfoxing the people who are supposed to regulate their failed oligopoly market so they can’t restrict quantity or price fix. From Time: “Oil Companies Posted Huge Profits. Here’s Where The Cash Will Go (Hint: Not Climate).” Nor is its goal the production of more gas and oil. They are perfectly happy with the high prices.

As consumers grapple with high fuel prices and politicians scramble to knock them down, oil companies are not making any sudden moves. That’s because, after years of low fuel prices, they are now enjoying a financial upswing, as demonstrated by lucrative first quarter earnings reports released in late April and early May.

Oil prices started to creep up in late 2021 due to supply constraints, but then turbocharged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. For Chevron, the upshot was $6.3 billion in profits last quarter, up from $1.4 billion a year ago. For Exxon Mobil, profits more than doubled in the same period, to $5.5 billion. The numbers were also rosy for European firms—even among those that took a hit from severing ties with their Russian investments. TotalEnergies, a French company, netted nearly $5 billion, a 48% boost from last year, while U.K. companies Shell (at $9 billion) and BP (at $6.2 billion) are hitting profit levels that they haven’t seen in about a decade.

For the most part, major oil companies aren’t going to pour these billions of dollars into climate-mitigation investments like carbon capture technologies. Nor have they signaled any immediate intention to bolster oil production, despite calls from heads of state to do so. Their inaction has spurred U.S. and European countries, which are under pressure to keep fuel affordable, to release oil reserves and replace Russian crude oil and liquid natural gas from other sources. Despite those government efforts, oil prices have stayed above $100 per barrel, sustaining an influx of money to fossil fuel companies that are passing it on to stockholders and investors in the form of increased dividends and share buyback initiatives that drive up companies’ share values.

One analysis from the Wall Street Journal found that the nine largest U.S. oil producers spent 54% more in share repurchases and dividends in the first quarter than they invested in new oil developments. Similarly, a recent report covering the 20 largest U.S. oil companies published by the environmentalist organization Friends Of The Earth and consumer watchdog organizations Public Citizen and BailoutWatch, tallied $56 billion in new share buyback authorizations in the roughly seven months since last October, compared with $11 billion announced in the nine months before that.

I think they’re being deliberately political and obtuse about this. It’s also not helpful because they could solve this problem by passing laws. They are stopping oil production. You are letting them Senator by not forcing them to produce or give up their damned excessive profits to an extraordinary income or price gouging tax.

So, it looks like Republicans are going to be bringing more guys like this one to the ballot in the fall midterms. More power to them. I’m not sure any rational voter of either part is going to want more of this guy. From Politico: “‘He’s Not OK’: The Entirely Predictable Unraveling of Madison Cawthorn. A string of embarrassing incidents has led many to question whether the young congressman from North Carolina was really ready for the job.” The little dude is not an outlier. Ask his Maga Buddies in Congress now subpoenaed by the Jan 6 committee.

Four and a half years after Cawthorn contemplated suicide, he was running for Congress. Turning a stirring story of conquering adversity into a shocking political victory, he achieved his most ambitious career goal at a staggeringly early age. And within weeks if not days of being sworn in — at 25 years old one of the youngest members in the history of the House — he had put himself on a short list of the chamber’s most known figures. Now, though, heading into his first reelection, Cawthorn is mired in controversy, facing the very real possibility that the end of his electoral career might come as quickly as it began. Emboldened by Cawthorn’s miscues, misdeeds and array of indiscretions, seven Republican challengers have lined up to try to take him out in Tuesday’s primary, party leaders have abandoned him, and other MAGA firebrands are keeping their distance what with the escalating storm of even just the past few months.

Police stopped him for driving with a revoked license (again). Airport security stopped him for trying to bring a gun onto a plane (again). He made outlandish and unsubstantiated comments on an obscure podcast about orgies and cocaine use by his Capitol Hill colleagues. He called the Ukrainian president a “thug,” he suggested Nancy Pelosi was an alcoholic (she doesn’t drink), and the seemingly ceaseless gush of unsavory news has included allegations of insider trading, pictures of shuttered district offices, a leaked tranche of salacious images and videos, and ongoing proof in FEC filings that he’s a prodigious fundraiser but a profligate spender as well. All of this comes on top of multiple women in multiple places accusing him of sexual harassment, his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6 of last year, his growing catalogue of alarming provocations on social media and on the House floor, and his politically imprudent decision to announce he was switching districts only to reverse course. His marriage amidst all this lasted less than a year.

Common foxes in the snow, 1893,Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Kuhner

Seems a lot like Gaetz, Jordan, Taylor Greene, and others except they didn’t spill the beans on the Grand Old Pervert’s Orgies and Cocaine parties. Then there’s the Hand Maid on the Supreme Court. Move on, she’s perfectly normal too right?

Check out this in The Atlantic by Margaret Atwood. “I INVENTED GILEAD. THE SUPREME COURT IS MAKING IT REAL. I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Although I eventually completed this novel and called it The Handmaid’s Tale, I stopped writing it several times, because I considered it too far-fetched. Silly me. Theocratic dictatorships do not lie only in the distant past: There are a number of them on the planet today. What is to prevent the United States from becoming one of them?

For instance: It is now the middle of 2022, and we have just been shown a leaked opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States that would overthrow settled law of 50 years on the grounds that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and is not “deeply rooted” in our “history and tradition.” True enough. The Constitution has nothing to say about women’s reproductive health. But the original document does not mention women at all.

Women were deliberately excluded from the franchise. Although one of the slogans of the Revolutionary War of 1776 was “No taxation without representation,” and government by consent of the governed was also held to be a good thing, women were not to be represented or governed by their own consent—only by proxy, through their fathers or husbands. Women could neither consent nor withhold consent, because they could not vote. That remained the case until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, an amendment that many strongly opposed as being against the original Constitution. As it was.

Women were nonpersons in U.S. law for a lot longer than they have been persons. If we start overthrowing settled law using Justice Samuel Alito’s justifications, why not repeal votes for women?

Reproductive rights have been the focus of the recent fracas, but only one side of the coin has been visible: the right to abstain from giving birth. The other side of that coin is the power of the state to prevent you from reproducing. The Supreme Court’s 1927 Buck v. Bell decision held that the state may sterilize people without their consent. Although the decision was nullified by subsequent cases, and state laws that permitted large-scale sterilization have been repealed, Buck v. Bell is still on the books. This kind of eugenicist thinking was once regarded as “progressive,” and some 70,000 sterilizations—of both males and females, but mostly of females—took place in the United States. Thus a “deeply rooted” tradition is that women’s reproductive organs do not belong to the women who possess them. They belong only to the state.

Alito of the poison pen is “reluctant to discuss state of Supreme Court after Roe leak” according to the Washington Post. Do you think he enjoys being the most hated man in America?

In his first public address since the explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion he wrote that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. breezed through a detailed examination of statutory textualism, and renewed a disagreement over the court’s decision saying federal discrimination law protects gay and transgender workers.

But he was a little stumped by the final audience question from a crowd at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University: Are he and the other justices at a place where they could get a nice meal together?

“I think it would just be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, are you all doing okay in these very challenging times?” the questioner asked.

The fact that Alito was speaking via closed circuit from a room at the Supreme Court seven miles away, rather than in person, was a sign these are not normal times.

Foxes, Kawanabe Kyosai

The snowflake can’t even handle his neighbors serving wine and cheese plates and opening their home bathrooms to protestors by his house. They needed a law to protect him from a cocktail get-together with a point? What did he think would happen? That 60% of the population was going to take his little diatribe based on a guy that believed in and killed witches? And he was at fucking George Mason which barely qualified as an educational institution and is more like an indoctrination center that teaches false narratives and pogrom generator.

What about the overreach of the White Nationalists and Militias that stormed the Capitol and January 6. Ever wonder what a nightmare it would be to be raised by one or married to one? What sense of relief you must feel to find your violent and manipulative father/husband in federal prison!

You may read the stories of the three grown kids of Steward Rhodes at The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Prosecutors’ most recent allegations against Rhodes include that he attempted to contact then-President Donald Trump through an intermediary in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. They further alleged that Rhodes, in a conference call with Oath Keepers members in the days following Trump’s election defeat, characterized Trump’s opponents as a cabal of pedophiles.

In February, Hatewatch met with and interviewed Rhodes’ adult children: son Dakota Adams, 24, and daughters Sedona Adams, 23, and Sequoia Adams, 19, in Kalispell, Montana. Rhodes and his ex-wife, Tasha Adams, have three other children who are still minors, and are not included in this interview.

The conversation shed important new light on the psychology of the Oath Keepers founder and provided the untold story of the impact of his public activities on his family.

The more these stories get out, the more outraged the sane majority in this country should be convinced that voting Democratic is our only hope. Even, if that party isn’t exactly the party that stands up for right, we have no other rational choice.

What’s on your writing and blogging list today?


10 Comments on “Friday Reads: Right-Wing Overreach Seems to Be Upon Us”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a great weekend! I’m heading towards the deadline for final grades so I will be here just doing the paperwork!

    I know a lot of this looks depressing but it might be a sign of a turning point.

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. roofingbird says:

    Am I wrong? I thought I remembered Musk bought a 10% stake in BitCoin a few months ago. Maybe he thought he was going to use that as collateral.

    • dakinikat says:

      Bitcoin is thin air though. Tesla has buildings and holds copyrights, etc. Bitcoin has no intrinsic value in terms of an asset going bankrupt. If you hold stocks they’re equity and last on the food chain should a company go bankrupt. Tesla is less risky because it’s an actual product and service-producing company with stuff.

      • quixote says:

        This here (citing you in the post, dak) “I just come at it as a Financial Economist who believes currency needs to be backed up by actual production and a country’s laws.”

        Not sure what is so hard about that concept. I’m just a biologist, not anything to do with economics, and it’s an obvious fact, if you can think well enough to break out of a paper bag!

  4. bostonboomer says:

    That story about Cawthorn is so sad. He needs to spend his time dealing with his severe trauma. He doesn’t belong in Congress. It will be a blessing for him if he loses the election.

    • dakinikat says:

      I know. Doesn’t appear like anyone around particularly cares if he gets to heal all too. Is father was off suing the friend for cash rather than figuring out what Cawthorn needed.


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