Finally Friday Reads: Press feeds Megalomaniacs!

Le Désespéré , The Desperate Man, self portrait, 1843-184, Gustave Courbet

Good Day Sky Dancers!

This is one of those days that makes me want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. Just about every headline is about some narcissist that should be in a padded cell somewhere.  I will go down that road, but I am not about to obsess about the details or the people.  I’m really sick of Elon Musk and Donald Trump.

Elon Musk is maniacally destroying himself, Tesla, and Twitter.  He’s holed up in the Twitter building 24-7, drawing attention to himself, banning anyone that bothers him, and selling off Tesla stock to keep the lights on in his hidey-hole even if Tesla crashes and burns.  Trump is holed up in Mar-a-Lago 24-7, drawing attention to himself, using his Truth Social to draw attention to himself, and watching the Trump Family Crime Syndicate crash and burn.

Let me make this as painless as possible. This is from the Washington Post, as reported by Paul Farhi. “Musk suspends journalists from Twitter, claims ‘assassination’ danger. Company executives alleged that more than half a dozen reporters endangered Twitter’s owner by sharing his location. But a review of their tweets shows no evidence of it.”

Twitter suspended the accounts of more than half a dozen journalists from CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets Thursday evening, as company owner Elon Musk accused the reporters of posting “basically assassination coordinates” for him and his family.

The Post has seen no evidence that any of the reporters did so.

The suspensions came without warning or initial explanation from Twitter. They took place a day after Twitter changed its policy on sharing “live location information” and suspended an account, @ElonJet, that had been using public flight data to share the location of Musk’s private plane.

Many of the journalists suspended Thursday, including Washington Post technology reporter Drew Harwell, had been covering that rule change, as well as Musk’s claims that he and his family had been endangered by location sharing.

Twitter did not directly respond to questions about the suspensions. But Musk suggested on Twitter, without evidence, that the journalists had revealed private information about his family, known as doxing. “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” he tweeted late Thursday.

Harwell, whose most recent stories covered the ban of @ElonJet and the rise of baseless claims on Twitter, discovered he was unable to log into his account or tweet around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“Harwell was banished from Twitter without warning, process or explanation, following the publications of his accurate reporting about Musk,” The Post’s executive editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement. “Our journalist should be reinstated immediately.”

At least eight other journalists were suspended the same evening, including New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Skull People, c 1827

CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan was suspended shortly after posting a tweet about Musk’s claim that a “crazy stalker” had chased his young son in Los Angeles, according to screenshots.

However, according to NBC News, the reporters actively report on Twitter or Musk.

O’Sullivan said Thursday that all those journalists who were suspended with him were people who cover Musk.

“As we saw with the jet tracker last night, Musk seems to be just stamping out accounts that he doesn’t like,” O’Sullivan said on CNN.

A spokesperson for the network said the suspensions were “impulsive and unjustified” — but not surprising.

“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter,” the network said in a statement. “We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”

Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of The Washington Post, said Harwell’s suspension “directly undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.”

Harwell was “banished from Twitter without warning, process or explanation, following the publication of his accurate reporting about Musk” and should be reinstated immediately, Buzbee said in a statement Thursday night.

A spokesperson for The New York Times, who called the suspensions questionable and unfortunate, said no explanation was provided to Mac or the newspaper about the ban.

Musk sold 22 million shares of his Tesla Stock this week. They were worth around 3.6 billion dollars. The stock has been falling due to concerns over Musk’s time spent on and with Twitter.  This is from CNBC. “Elon Musk sells another huge chunk of Tesla shares.”

Director of research for VerityData, Ben Silverman, wrote in an email to CNBC on Wednesday, “Musk’s prior sales going back to November 2021 were expertly timed, so Tesla shareholders need to pay attention to Musk’s actions and not his words – or lack thereof when it comes to his recent selling.”

However, he continued to sell portions of his sizable holdings in Tesla after agreeing to buy Twitter in a deal worth $44 billion. The acquisition closed in late October. Musk, who is also CEO of SpaceX, a major defense contractor, immediately appointed himself chief executive of the social media company.

After Musk’s Twitter takeover, he told employees there that he sold Tesla shares to “save” their business.

Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tesla shares have been declining this year, and sliding even further since he took on that new responsibility.

Shares of Tesla closed down 2.6% on Wednesday at $156.80, dropping the company’s market capitalization to $495 billion. Tesla shares were down 55% year to date as of Wednesday’s close.

A Card Player, 1630

One last thing on this madman from the Washington Post. “Elon Musk’s role at Tesla questioned as Twitter occupies his attention. Some Tesla investors are concerned that Musk is focusing too much on the social media company and becoming more polarizing.”

Now, some Tesla investors are calling for Musk to hand over the reins at one of his companies as the electric vehicle company’s stock plummets — raising concerns that the billionaire is stretched too thin. Tesla closed Wednesday at $156.80 per share, with an overall valuation of less than $500 billion, sharply down from when Musk signaled his interest in Twitter over the spring and Tesla was valued at over $1 trillion.

Contributing to the losses, Musk sold about $3.5 billion worth of Tesla stock in recent days, according to a financial filing Wednesday night. That added to another more than $3.9 billion in Tesla shares sold by Musk in early November, according to the filings.

Shares of Tesla rose less than 1 percent during trading Thursday as the broader markets fell.

“Wake up tesla [board] — what is the plan? Who is running tesla and when is Elon coming back?” tweeted Ross Gerber, a Tesla investor who supported Musk’s Twitter bid.

He added in a tweet late Wednesday that Tesla needed to buy back shares “to take advantage [of] the low share price Elon has created,” as investors anticipated a potential further blow to the company’s value on Thursday.

Musk did not respond to a request for comment. Tesla and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

It appears Musk can shut up when it’s an inconvenient question.

“La Clairvoyance” — René Magritte, 1936

Trump, however, cannot stop himself in his quest for constant attention.  Sources today say that his crazy NFT superhero cards are sold out. This while, two New York Post headlines seem out to get him.  The first one is “Don’t give any money to con artist Trump and the second reads, “Steve Bannon fed up with Trump’s latest stunts: ‘I can’t do this anymore’.

Kirk Eichenwald elucidates Trump’s latest scam on his substack, The Threats Within. “Trump’s Trading Card Grift is Worse than You Think. Shell companies, rubbing elbows with international criminals, and worse in his scam of scams.”

Funny, yes. But it is far, far worse than you think. And to understand why, we have to begin tracing the web of corporations involved in producing these worthless digital cards. They lead to some sleazy places.

Before we start down the rabbit hole of partnerships, corporations and other entities that lead to criminals and fraudsters, I need to address one question up front: What exactly are buyers of the Trump Trading Cards purchasing? Yes, they are NFTs, but unlike others of these digital art pieces, the people foolish enough to purchase a Trump Trading Card don’t actually own the things they paid for, at least not in the traditional sense. If any buyer decides to sell their Trump card in a secondary market, they don’t get all the proceeds. The fine print reveals that 10% of every secondary market sales goes right back to Trump and his fellow grifters. For more details, buyers are told to click the link to terms and conditions. Buyers have to confirm they read the terms and conditions but…the terms and conditions are nowhere to be found.

“The Flatterers” — Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1592

Makes me wonder what rubes bought these. Maybe Russians are having Trump do money laundering for them again?

Trump himself is not producing the cards, any more than he has developed any real estate projects since 2010. Instead, he has reached a licensing agreement with a company called NFT International LLC. All his licensing agreements, dating back decades (Real estate, Trump Steaks, Trump University etc.) have all had the same terms: The licensor pays Trump a bunch of cash up front, then he gets a share of the revenue produced by whatever the grifty product is. That number has ranged from 10% to 50%, and there is no reason to expect that this time it is any less – in fact, it is almost certainly more.

You may follow the link to go down the dark rabbit hole of NFT International LLC. Be sure to bring a flashlight.

Try these on for size if you want more fun with internecine fighting! “Inside the ugly fight to become the next Republican chair” or “McCarthy’s ongoing speaker battle paralyzes House” from Politico.  Here’s a taste of the Politico article.

Kevin McCarthy’s imperiled speakership bid is threatening to incapacitate Republicans during a crucial planning period, virtually guaranteeing a sluggish start for the new House majority.

The GOP leader on Thursday took the unusual step of punting conferencewide races for committee leadership slots until after his speaker election on Jan. 3, a maneuver that could help insulate him from disgruntled members who fall short in those contests and their allies.

But that delay will also mean days, if not weeks, of uncertainty for GOP committees as they begin their stint in the majority. Some of the most important panels, including those charged with tax-writing and border security, won’t be able to prepare bills, tee up hearings, or even hire staff. While some House committees already have uncontested leaders in place, those chairs won’t be able to choose their member lineup or potentially pay staff. The GOP’s subpoena power, too, will be frozen.

“Without question, delays in selecting chairmen and committee members put a lot of pressure on the agenda,” said retiring Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who led the influential House Ways and Means Committee the last time the GOP had the majority.

The decision to formally punt comes as little surprise to many lawmakers, who had speculated that McCarthy might delay contested fights as a point of leverage as he works to lock down support. Still, many Republicans say they’re concerned that limbo could have lingering effects — particularly if the speaker’s election gets ugly and drags on past Jan. 3.

“Youth Making A Face” — Adriaen Brouwer, 1632 – 1635

You can get a Trump v. Twitter twofer at the Washington Post: “Trump reinvents ‘rigged’ election myth around Twitter allegations. Republicans are now following Trump in claiming foul play in the 2020 election took the form of social media censorship, replacing debunked claims of fraudulent ballots.”

Instead, Trump was now advancing a new theory of how the election was “stolen” from him: a supposed scheme among social media companies, the FBI and the Democrats to suppress information that might have helped Trump’s campaign.The claim is fueled in part by new Twitter owner Elon Musk’s decision to release internal documents about the platform’s brief suppression of a 2020 news story about then-candidate Joe Biden’s son amid concerns it might be the result of disinformation efforts.

Well, alright then.  It doesn’t get any more discombobulated than that!

So here I am, looking at 2057 words up there and thinking, I better wrap up the part on the crazy guys. I’ll use a Twitter post here with the HBO documentary about Nancy Pelosi by her daughter Alexandra  (interview with Lawrence O’Donnell at link). She sums my thoughts about Trump things up pretty nicely here.

Oh, and What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


15 Comments on “Finally Friday Reads: Press feeds Megalomaniacs!”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Here you go! More More More!!

  2. dakinikat says:

    And so now I’m thinking more about this NFT thingie. How could you launder the money if you wanted to sell secret documents?

    • dakinikat says:

      The other thing I’m not suspicious about is that Melania Trump did this at one time, and we laughed. Do you suppose it was a dry run to get the “money” in line? The company is a shell company in a house in Caspar, Wyoming. Where’s the real stream of income coming from?

      • quixote says:

        Eeeenteresting. I vaguely remember an article not long ago, about Caspar Wyo, as the #1 place in the world for shell companies laundering money, covering up Russian superyachts, and who knows what else. Something to do with Wyoming’s next to nonexistent financial and incorporation regulation. And that was the best place for Melania’s NFT? ?? Curiouser and curiouser.

  3. dakinikat says:

    Have a good weekend! It looks like we’re all in for a cold spell so take care!

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Meanwhile, NBC has suspended journalist Ben Collins, who writes about extremism, because he tweeted about Musk. Collins is also banned from the NBC and MSNBC airwaves. That is just cowardly. And disgusting.

  5. dakinikat says:

    For those of you on Mastodon:

    For #FollowFriday – the journalists banned from #Twitter, that are now on #Mastodon. :fediverse:

    Follow them all and encourage your friends to:

    ➡️ Donie O’Sullivan @donieosullivan (CNN)

    ➡️ Drew Harnell @drewharwell (Washington Post)

    ➡️ Steve Herman – @w7voa
    (VOA)

    ➡️ Michah Lee @micahflee
    (The Intercept)

    ➡️ Tony Webster @tony

    ➡️ Matt Binder @MattBinder
    (Fee Press)

    #TwitterMigration

  6. dakinikat says: