The action came with such speed and from enough varying angles that, even for those paying close attention, it was sometimes difficult to absorb and process one event before the nexttook precedence. At this week’s end came dueling decisions from two federal judges who issued contradictory rulings late Friday about access to an abortion drug, creating a legal standoff over mifepristone that seemed destined for the Supreme Court.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: April 8, 2023 Filed under: cat art, caturday, Donald Trump | Tags: abortion pills, Clarence Thomas, corruption, Elon Musk, Harlan Crow, Hitler artifacts, Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, Kamala Harris, Matthew Kacsmaryk, mifipristone, Nazi memorabilia, release of classified documents, Substack, Tennessee legislature, Tennessee Three, Twitter 18 Comments
This has been one hell of a week. It was just a few days ago that Donald Trump was charged with 34 felony counts and arraigned in a Manhattan court, but that earthshaking event has been eclipsed by subsequent shocking news stories
There was the Tennessee legislature’s racist treatment of two young black representatives–Justin Jones and Justin Pearson–ending in their expulsion from the state legislature for protesting last week’s school shooting in Memphis; the election in Wisconsin that put a Democrat on the state supreme court, giving liberals a majority for the first time in many years; the stunning revelations about Clarence Thomas’s acceptance of millions of dollars worth of gifts from wealthy Republican donor Harlan Crow; and finally the insane ruling by Texas judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk that could ban the abortion pill mifepristone nationwide.
Two more stories to watch broke yesterday: Elon Musk has banned linking to Substack newsletters in a move that could actually kill Twitter, and a number of classified U.S. documents that reveal top secret information have been published on line.
I’ll touch on as many of these stories as I can.
Dan Baltz writes at The Washington Post: A dizzying, divisive week in politics spotlights America’s raging battle.
Few weeks may beas revealing of the current state of American politics as the one that just passed. In New York, Wisconsin and Tennessee, what transpired highlighted the raging battle underway over the direction of the country, a struggle that seems destined only to intensify as the 2024 election approaches.
Americans may be exhausted by the turmoil and chaos of the Trump years, but there seems no slackening or pulling back. Each event in the past week seemed to reinforce the overall stakes. There could be more such weeks ahead. Each iteration of this past dizzying week was a reminder of how much the coming election in 2024matters and how unsettled things remain.
Former president DonaldTrump faces more possible indictments, federally and in Georgia, which could addboth strength and weakness to his political profile while further roiling the electorate. Republican legislatures continue to push boundaries on abortion, with legislation calling for bans after six weeks of pregnancy in contradiction of public sentiment. Racial politics remain at the forefront, and there seems no likelihood of a calming on that front as Republicans attack Democratic “wokeness” and Democrats fight against efforts to minimize the power and voice of Black voters.
For Republicans, last week’snews was almost uniformly bad, although some in the party probably do not see it that way. The damage inflicted by past and present actions continues to define a new Republican Party, one that has been consolidating power in many red states but vulnerable elsewhere — especially in states that could decide the next presidential election.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
The Tennessee Three
Natalie Allison at Politico Magazine: No One Should Be That Shocked by What’s Happening in Tennessee. I covered the statehouse for years. It’s been heading in this direction for a while.
The world of politics experienced a collective shock this week as Tennessee Republicans expelled two young, Black, Democratic House members for protesting gun laws on the chamber floor after a deadly school shooting in Nashville.
But for those who have closely watched the chamber in recent years, the events were of little surprise. The place has been defined by partisan vitriol, pique, scandal, racism and Olympic-level pettiness for years.
I know. I covered it.
The protest and subsequent expulsion over decorum rules took place in a chamber where a GOP member, for years, rang a cowbell every day of session as a raucous, attention-grabbing substitute for applause.
When I covered the Tennessee Capitol from 2018 to 2021, the family-values espousing Republican House speaker had to explain why his text message trail included discussions of pole-dancing women and his chief of staff’s sexual encounters in the bathroom of a hot chicken restaurant.
After a Republican lawmaker was accused of sexually assaulting 15- and 16-year-old girls he had taught and coached, he was made chairman of the House education committee.
Protesters filled the halls week after week, year after year, calling for the removal of the bust of the Ku Klux Klan’s first Grand Wizard, a piece of art featured prominently between the House and Senate chambers. Democrats pushed for its removal, while Republicans resisted.
A Democrat who declined to support the current speaker’s reelection had her office moved into a small, windowless room. In a twist of fate, that same Democrat, Rep. Gloria Johnson, a white woman, narrowly escaped expulsion on Thursday. (Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson fared differently.)
And then, of course, there was the famous peeing incident, where a legislator’s office chair was urinated on in an act of intraparty retribution over shitposting. The actual identity of the Republican urinator is a closely-held secret among a small group of operatives who have bragged about witnessing it. But it’s generally accepted that former state Rep. Rick Tillis, a Republican and the brother of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, did indeed have his chair peed on in the Cordell Hull legislative office building.
Read the rest at Politico.
The Guardian: Kamala Harris praises courage of ‘Tennessee Three’ on visit to Nashville.
About 500 people packed the chapel at Fisk University, a historically Black college in Nashville, Tennessee, and sang the civil rights anthem This Little Light of Mine while they waited for US vice-president Kamala Harris to appear. When she did, the crowd erupted in cheers.
Harris and her listeners were there to show support for her fellow Democrats and state lawmakers Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson – Jones and Pearson were ousted from the Republican-controlled Tennessee house of representatives after joining a protest in favor of gun control at the capitol in Nashville, and Johnson narrowly survived an expulsion vote.
“We are here because [Jones, Pearson and Johnson] and their colleagues in the Democratic caucus chose to show courage in the face of extreme tragedy,” Harris said, alluding to how the targeted representatives stood with gun control advocates after the killings of three students and three staffers at the Covenant elementary school in Nashville on 27 March. “They chose to lead and show courage and say that a democracy allows for places where the people’s voice will be heard and honored and respected.”
The vice-president said they also added another chapter to a vibrant local history of civil rights activism that previously saw sit-ins at segregated lunch counters led by the late US congressman John Lewis and his movement colleague Diane Nash, saying it was on their “broad shoulders upon which we all stand”.
What the Tennessee Three did:
Harris’s visit punctuated a dramatic week for the so-called “Tennessee Three”, who faced expulsion proceedings after talking without being given the floor by the Republican house speaker Cameron Sexton. Johnson, Jones and Pearson said they spoke out in that manner because capitol staff had cut their microphones off when they attempted to bring up gun control and regulation efforts in response to the shooting deaths at Covenant.
Jones and Pearson led chants from protesters in favor of their proposed measures with a bullhorn while Johnson stood by them silently in solidarity.
Their colleagues then drew up papers to expel all three from the seats in the chamber to which they were democratically elected. Votes on Thursday left Jones and Pearson – two Black men and the house’s youngest members – ousted while Johnson, a 60-year-old white woman, managed to keep her seat by a single vote.
“A democracy says you do not silence the people, you do not stifle the people, you do not turn off their microphones when they are speaking,” Harris said, outraged. “These leaders had to get a bullhorn to be heard.”
Clarence Thomas’ Corruption
Josh Meyer at USA Today: In defending gifts from a GOP billionaire, Clarence Thomas raises more questions among his critics.
After two decades of criticism over the lavish trips and other gifts he’s accepted from billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally went public on Friday to defend himself.
In a statement, Thomas said “colleagues and others in the judiciary” not only blessed his cozy relationship with the Texas real estate developer but determined that he didn’t have to publicly disclose the gifts on his annual financial disclosure statements.
Legal experts and Democratic lawmakers, however, said Thomas’ explanation raises a lot more questions than answers.
“And these are questions that he should answer under oath, under penalty of perjury,” said Lisa Graves, the former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.
“He needs to name every person he spoke with who gave him such advice, and whether they’re in government or outside the government,” Graves told USA TODAY. “Because I would be shocked if he actually told any official the specifics of what he was doing and that they said it was okay not to disclose it.” [….]
Ethics and legal experts told USA TODAY on Friday that Supreme Court law and policy is indeed vague when it comes to such gifts. While the justices are required to report gifts they have received on their annual financial disclosure reports, an exemption is allowed for hospitality from friends.
Several ethics experts, including Graves, said the hospitality exemption intended for the receipt of small personal gifts from longtime friends, not lavish gifts like weeklong resort stays and international jet and yacht trips….
Late Friday, congressional Democrats responded by calling on Chief Justice John Roberts to launch an investigation into Thomas’ “unethical, and potentially unlawful, conduct at the Supreme Court.”
“We believe that it is your duty as Chief Justice ‘to safeguard public faith in the judiciary,’ and that fulfilling that duty requires swift, thorough, independent and transparent investigation into these allegations,” the lawmakers, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), wrote in a letter.
Read more at USA Today. See also ProPublica’s response to Thomas’s weak excuses: Clarence Thomas Defends Undisclosed “Family Trips” with GOP Megadonor. Here Are the Facts.
Interesting story about Thomas’ “dear friend” Harlan Crow at The Washingtonian: Clarence Thomas’s Billionaire Benefactor Collects Hitler Artifacts. Harlan Crow also reportedly has a garden full of dictator statues.
When Republican megadonor Harlan Crow isn’t lavishing Justice Clarence Thomas with free trips on his private plane and yacht (in possible violation of Supreme Court ethics rules), he lives a quiet life in Dallas among his historical collections. These collections include Hitler artifacts—two of his paintings of European cityscapes, a signed copy of Mein Kampf, and assorted Nazi memorabilia—plus a garden full of statues of the 20th century’s worst despots.
Crow, the billionaire heir to a real estate fortune, has said that he’s filled his property with these mementoes because he hates communism and fascism. Nonetheless, his collections caused an uproar back in 2015 when Marco Rubio attended a fundraiser at Crow’s house on the eve of Yom Kippur. Rubio’s critics thought the timing was inappropriate given, you know, the Hitler stuff.
“I still can’t get over the collection of Nazi memorabilia,” says one person who attended an event at Crow’s home a few years ago and asked to remain anonymous. “It would have been helpful to have someone explain the significance of all the items. Without that context, you sort of just gasp when you walk into the room.” One memorable aspect was the paintings: “something done by George W. Bush next to a Norman Rockwell next to one by Hitler.” They also said it was “startling” and “strange” to see the dictator sculptures in the backyard.
In 2014, when Crow’s house was included in a public tour of historic homes, a reporter from the Dallas Morning News visited. Apparently, Crow was visibly uncomfortable with questions about his dictator statues and Hitler memorabilia, preferring to discuss his other historical collections: documents signed by the likes of Christopher Columbus and George Washington; paintings by Renoir and Monet; statues of two of Crow’s heroes, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
But despite Crow’s discomfort, the reporter did manage to see the garden of dictator statues, describing it as a “historical nod to the facts of man’s inhumanity to man.” Among the figures in the “Garden of Evil” are Lenin and Stalin, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, and Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk thinks he knows more than the FDA scientists
The Washington Post: Texas judge suspends FDA approval of abortion pill; second judge protects access.
The status of a key abortion medication was cast into uncertainty Friday night when rulings from two federal judges reached contradictory conclusions, with one jurist blocking U.S. government approval of the drug while the other said the pill should remain available in a swath of states.
The dueling opinions — one from Texas and the other from Washington state — concern access to mifepristone, the medicationused in more than half of all abortions in the United States and follow the Supreme Court’s elimination of the constitutional right to the procedure last year. It appears inevitable the issue will move to the high court, and the conflicting decisions could make that sooner rather than later.
The highly anticipated and unprecedented ruling from Texas puts on hold the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, which was cleared for use in the United States in 2000. It was the first time a judge suspended longtime FDA approval of a medication despite opposition from the agency and the drug’s manufacturer. The ruling will not go into effect for seven days to give the government time to appeal.
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, a nominee of President Donald Trump with long-held antiabortion views, agreed with the conservative groups seeking to reverse the FDA’s approval of mifepristone as safe and effective, including in states where abortion rights are protected.
“The Court does not second-guess FDA’s decision-making lightly,” Kacsmaryk wrote in the 67-page opinion. “But here, FDA acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns — in violation of its statutory duty — based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions.” He added that the agency had faced “significant political pressure” to “increase ‘access’ to chemical abortion.”
In a competing opinion late Friday, a federal judge in Washington state ruled in a separate case involving mifepristone that the drug is safe and effective. U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, who was nominated by President Barack Obama, ordered the FDA to preserve “the status quo” and retain access in the 17 states — along with D.C. — that are behind the second lawsuit, which seeks to protect medication abortion.
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: The Lawless Ruling Against the Abortion Pill Has Already Prompted a Constitutional Crisis. This unprecedented abuse of judicial power with no basis in law or fact will soon force the Supreme Court’s hand.
On Friday evening, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas issued an unprecedented decision withdrawing the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, the first drug used in medication abortion, 23 years after it was first approved. His order, which applies nationwide, marks the first time in history that a court has claimed the authority to single-handedly pull a drug from the market, a power that courts do not, in fact, have. Kacsmaryk’s ruling is indefensible from top to bottom and will go down in history as one of the judiciary’s most shocking and lawless moments. It goes even further than expected, raising the possibility that he will impose “fetal personhood,” which holds that every state must ban abortion because it murders a human. Within an hour of its release, the decision also spurred the start of a constitutional crisis: A federal judge in Washington swiftly issued a dueling injunction compelling the FDA to continue allowing mifepristone in 17 states and District of Columbia, which brought a separate suit in Washington.
Kacsmaryk stayed his decision for one week to let the Biden administration appeal, but his ruling stands a good chance of being upheld at the radically conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If his order takes effect, the FDA will be faced with competing, mutually exclusive court orders requiring the agency to simultaneously suspend mifepristone nationwide and preserve access to the drug in 18 blue jurisdictions. The agency cannot comply with both orders at once. And because Kacsmaryk’s is broader, covering all 50 states, it guarantees that mifepristone will be suspended in much of the country. Only the Supreme Court can resolve this looming crisis, and it has a very limited window of time in which to do so. It has been less than a year since the court claimed to rid itself of the abortion issue. Now it must decide whether American patients will lose access to an abortion drug that has been on the market for 23 years and proven safer than Tylenol—on the order of a single, rogue judge.
It is probably impossible to count how many errors, exaggerations, and lies Kacsmaryk, a Donald Trump appointee, put in his decision. The judge appears to have largely copied and pasted the briefs filed by the anti-abortion group that filed the suit, the Alliance Defending Freedom, rephrasing their arguments as his own analysis. (This was predictable—Kacsmaryk himself is a staunch anti-abortion activist—and might be why ADF handpicked him specifically to hear the case for them.) His decision repeats the ridiculous and objectively false conspiracy theory about mifepristone—that the FDA illegally rushed its approval in 2000 at the behest of former President Bill Clinton, the pharmaceutical industry, and population control advocates. Kacsmaryk flyspecked the FDA’s assessment of the drug, concluding that its studies were insufficient and that the agency “acquiesced to the pressure to increase access to chemical abortion at the expense of women’s safety.” And he claimed that he had authority to revisit an FDA approval that occurred 23 years ago because the agency happens to have changed rules around the dispensation of the drug several times since.
This is all completely absurd, an outrageous abuse of power that no judge has ever even attempted before. Challenges to agency actions have a six-year statute of limitations. That means plaintiffs get a full six years to file a lawsuit, after which point they’ve waited too long. It has, just to reiterate, been more than two decades since the FDA approved mifepristone. Kascmaryk ignored that limitation in his quest to block the drug because, he insisted, the agency hadn’t responded quickly enough to citizen petitions opposing the drug. That is not the law.
Read the rest at Slate.
Classified Documents Released
The New York Times: New Batch of Classified Documents Appears on Social Media Sites.
A new batch of classified documents that appear to detail American national security secrets from Ukraine to the Middle East to China surfaced on social media sites on Friday, alarming the Pentagon and adding turmoil to a situation that seemed to have caught the Biden administration off guard.
The scale of the leak — analysts say more than 100 documents may have been obtained — along with the sensitivity of the documents themselves, could be hugely damaging, U.S. officials said. A senior intelligence official called the leak “a nightmare for the Five Eyes,” in a reference to the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the so-called Five Eyes nations that broadly share intelligence.
The latest documents were found on Twitter and other sites on Friday, a day after senior Biden administration officials said they were investigating a potential leak of classified Ukrainian war plans, include an alarming assessment of Ukraine’s faltering air defense capabilities. One slide, dated Feb. 23, is labeled “Secret/NoForn,” meaning it was not meant to be shared with foreign countries.
The Justice Department said it had opened an investigation into the leaks and was in communication with the Defense Department but declined to comment further.
A bit more:
Early Friday, senior national security officials dealing with the initial leak, which was first reported by The New York Times, said a new worry had arisen: Was that information the only intelligence that was leaked?
By Friday afternoon, they had their answer. Even as officials at the Pentagon and national security agencies were investigating the source of documents that had appeared on Twitter and on Telegram, another surfaced on 4chan, an anonymous, fringe message board. The 4chan document is a map that purports to show the status of the war in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the scene of a fierce, monthslong battle.
But the leaked documents appear to go well beyond highly classified material on Ukraine war plans. Security analysts who have reviewed the documents tumbling onto social media sites say the increasing trove also includes sensitive briefing slides on China, the Indo-Pacific military theater, the Middle East and terrorism.
Read more at the NYT.
Reuters: Russia likely behind U.S. military document leak, U.S. officials say.
Russia or pro-Russian elements are likely behind the leak of several classified U.S. military documents posted on social media that offer a partial, month-old snapshot of the war in Ukraine, three U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday, while the Justice Department said separately it was probing the leak.
The documents appear to have been altered to lower the number of casualties suffered by Russian forces, the U.S. officials said, adding their assessments were informal and separate from the investigation into the leak itself….
An initial batch of documents circulated on sites including Twitter and Telegram, dated March 1 and bearing markings showing them classified as “Secret” and “Top Secret.”
Later on Friday, an additional batch appearing to detail U.S. national security secrets pertaining to areas including Ukraine, the Middle East and China surfaced on social media, the New York Times reported….
The U.S. Justice Department said late on Friday it was in touch with the Defense Department and began a probe into the leak. It declined further comment.
A leak of such sensitive documents is highly unusual.
“We are aware of the reports of social media posts and the Department (of Defense) is reviewing the matter,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said.
A CIA spokesperson said the agency was also aware of the posts and was looking into the claims.
The New York Times: Twitter Takes Aim at Posts That Link to Its Rival Substack.
On Wednesday, the newsletter service Substack announced that it had built a Twitter competitor. On Thursday, Twitter prevented Substack writers from sharing tweets in their newsletters. And on Friday, Twitter took steps to block Substack newsletters from circulating on the platform.
Twitter’s move to swat an upstart was an abrupt deviation from normal behavior among internet companies and publishers. It also provided more grist for critics who say that while Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has often hailed the importance of free speech, he has not shied from restricting competitors and content that he doesn’t like.
The new fight with a young company is the latest controversy in MTr. Musk’s chaotic ownership of Twitter, which he acquired about six months ago. He has laid off more than 75 percent of its employees, has been sued by commercial landlords for failing to pay office rent and has lost advertisers.
While Mr. Musk has long clashed with mainstream news outlets, targeting Substack largely affects independent writers, some of whom depend on Twitter to drive readers to their work….
Substack’s founders, Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie and Jairaj Sethi, said in a statement that they were “disappointed” by Twitter’s decision to stifle engagement with any tweets that featured a Substack link.
“Writers deserve the freedom to share links to Substack or anywhere else,” they said. “This abrupt change is a reminder of why writers deserve a model that puts them in charge, that rewards great work with money and that protects the free press and free speech.”
Read more at the NYT.
One hilarious result of this decision by Musk is that Matt Taibbi–Musk’s chosen “Twitter Files” propaganda author–has left Twitter because his mainly uses it to drive readers to his Substack page. Musk responded by unfollowing Taibbi. This guy really is worse than Trump.
Ars Technica: Twitter lawyer quits as Musk’s legal woes expand, report says.
After the Federal Trade Commission launched a probe into Twitter over privacy concerns, Twitter’s negotiations with the FTC do not seem to be going very well. Last week, it was revealed that Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s request last year for a meeting with FTC Chair Lina Khan was rebuffed. Now, a senior Twitter lawyer, Christian Dowell—who was closely involved in those FTC talks—has resigned, several people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
Dowell joined Twitter in 2020 and rose in the ranks after several of Twitter’s top lawyers exited or were fired once Musk took over the platform in the fall of 2022, Bloomberg reported. Most recently, Dowell—who has not yet confirmed his resignation—oversaw Twitter’s product legal counsel. In that role, he was “intimately involved” in the FTC negotiations, sources told the Times, including coordinating Twitter’s responses to FTC inquiries.
The FTC has overseen Twitter’s privacy practices for more than a decade after it found that the platform failed to safeguard personal information and issued a consent order in 2011. The agency launched its current probe into Twitter’s operations after Musk began mass layoffs that seemed to introduce new security concerns, AP News reported. The Times reported that the FTC’s investigation intensified after security executives quit Twitter over concerns that Musk might be violating the FTC’s privacy decree….
If the Times’ report is accurate, it’s unclear who will replace Dowell as Twitter’s senior product counsel overseeing FTC negotiations. Musk recently stopped relying on his personal lawyer to chip in at Twitter, but the Times reported that he has seemingly continued to seek guidance from lawyers at SpaceX, one of his other companies.
While the FTC probe remains ongoing, Musk’s layoffs have seemingly ensured that Twitter’s legal woes will continue compounding. Not only is Twitter seeking legal action against the suspected ex-employee who leaked Twitter source code on Github, but Twitter is also currently involved in individual arbitration with hundreds, if not thousands, of ex-employees who were not allowed to join a class-action lawsuit over allegedly missing severance payments and lost wages.
Click the link to read the rest.
I know I’ve given you a lot of reading material, so take what you want and leave the rest. I hope you all have a nice Easter weekend, however you choose to celebrate or not celebrate. The good news is that Spring is on the way.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: April 1, 2023 Filed under: cat art, caturday, Crime, Criminal Justice System, Donald Trump, racism | Tags: accelerationism, Alvin Bragg, anti-semitism, blue checks, Douglass Mackey, Elon Musk, George Soros, Manhattan District Attorney, Twitter 17 Comments
Today is the day that Elon Musk said he would remove the blue checkmarks from “legacy” verified accounts on Twitter unless the users paid $8 per month. For businesses and government entities, the cost is much higher. The blue checks identify notable people who provide most of the engagement on the social media site. But so far today, the blue checks are still in place. Over the past few days, news organizations and the White House have said they will not pay, and a number of celebrities have also declined to pay. It doesn’t look like Musk will get much income from this stupid policy.
CNN Business: News organizations reject Elon Musk’s demand of paying to keep checkmarks on Twitter.
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO, and Vox all scoffed at the notion on Thursday that they would pay Twitter for the feature, which has been free since it was introduced years ago but will soon be phased out.
CNN said it has no intention of paying for Twitter’s subscription service for its accounts but would make a few exceptions for some key staff.
“As of right now, we do not plan to pay for Twitter Blue subscriptions for either our brand or individual accounts, except for a small number of select teams who need this verification as an essential part of newsgathering and reporting,” said Athan Stephanopoulos, CNN’s chief digital officer, in a staff memo Friday.
Twitter announced last week that it will begin “removing legacy verified checkmarks” starting April 1. Musk has aimed to charge organizations that want to retain a checkmark adjacent to their account name $1,000 a month, plus an additional $50 a month for each affiliated account.
Historically, a blue checkmark placed next to the name of an account has indicated that the social media company has confirmed the identity of the person or business operating it. The feature has been helpful to Twitter’s entire community, giving the public an easy way of distinguishing between authentic and inauthentic users.
But Musk, who has sought to change Twitter’s business model and make it less reliant on advertisers — many of which have fled the company since he took over last year — wants to charge for the coveted check.
Musk earlier this year launched Twitter Blue, a subscription service that costs $8 a month. The main benefit? A blue checkmark.
Axios: Scoop: White House won’t pay for Twitter verification.
The White House will not pay to have its staff’s official Twitter profiles continue to be verified, according to guidance issued to staffers via an email obtained by Axios….
Official White House staffers rely on their verified accounts to inform the public on behalf of the administration. Verification, combined with the designated Twitter profiles, helped to ensure the public could trust those messages….
“It is our understanding that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service. Thus, a blue check mark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user,” White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty told staffers in an email sent Friday afternoon.
The guidance, which was sent internally to White House staffers, doesn’t necessarily apply to government agencies, but a source familiar with White House plans said it may send guidance to some agencies and departments in the future.
This thread by a former Twitter employee provides a great deal of information about the past policies on Twitter verification and why making people who provide most of the content on the site pay for the privilege is really stupid.
It’s a long thread, but very interesting. Read the rest on Twitter.
Zeeshan Aleem at MSNBC: It looks like Elon Musk played himself with Twitter Blue. Elon Musk wanted to monetize blue checkmarks. It’s blowing up in his face.
Beginning April 1, Twitter will start removing “legacy verified checkmarks” from the profiles of celebrities, journalists, civil servants and other public figures. Twitter is making the move in an attempt to force more users to pay for “verified” check marks, as part of its agenda to monetize a service that was previously handled by the company for free.
But so far, the plan isn’t going well. As CNN reports, many media organizations, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO and Vox, are already saying they have no plans to dish out money for Twitter Blue, the fee-based service that includes those blue check marks. The White House will also not be paying staffers for verified accounts, according to Axios. And Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James promises that he “ain’t paying.”
This was an entirely predictable case of Twitter CEO Elon Musk playing himself. Why would media outlets — or anyone else — rush to pay for verified badges when he’s systematically destroyed their meaning? [….]
Musk believed he could turn verified badges into a key source of new revenue for making Twitter profitable, a goal that’s surely growing more difficult as advertisers have fled Twitter en masse after Musk took over the company last year. But now key demographics that he would’ve hoped to have secured for paying for the service — journalists, famous celebrities, and government workers — might be checking out altogether. And that’s because Musk unraveled the purpose of the very thing he wanted to make money off.
As I’ve explained before, Musk fundamentally misunderstood or disregarded the true value of verified badges to most people who had them. Their original purpose was for Twitter to confirm that public figures were who they actually said they were in order to combat impersonation and misinformation. It was the key feature of what made Twitter a reliable source of news: verified accounts helped separate trustworthy statements and reporting from rumors and false claims.
But Musk decided that the reason verified badges were important was not because they verified identity, but because of the way they signaled social clout — and that he could cash in on this by trying to get a bigger network of people to pay for them. So now under his paid verification service, users’ identities are not confirmed, but blue checks can be distributed to anyone willing to open up their wallet. In other words, he’s hollowed out their meaning but kept the trappings intact.
Yesterday, an interesting court case involving Twitter was decided. The case demonstrates how Twitter has been used to promote disinformation.
The Washington Post: Trump supporter found guilty in 2016 Twitter scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton.
Douglass Mackey, a supporter of former president Donald Trump who used Twitter to disseminate false information to redirect would-be voters of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, was convicted Friday on a charge of conspiracy against rights, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn announced.
Tuesday Reads: Tales of Three PsychopathsPosted: March 7, 2023 Filed under: Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Fox News, just because, psychology, Psychopaths in charge | Tags: API, Haraldur Thorleifsson, Tucker Carlson, Twitter 13 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!!
I’ve been reading news for the past few hours, and I’m feeling a sense of unreality–not quite depersonalization, but something similar. Will this country ever return to something resembling sanity? I’m beginning to doubt it. I opened Twitter today to see Elon Musk mocking and defaming a disabled Twitter employee who had been locked out but could not get anyone in the company to tell him whether he had been laid off or fired, and if so, when he would be paid what he was owed.
Gizmodo: Elon Musk Laughs at Twitter Worker Who Asked If He Still Had a Job.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk sank to a new low on Monday night when he laughed at employee Haraldur Thorleifsson, who tweeted at him to ask whether he had been affected by the company’s recent layoffs. Throughout the course of their conversation on Twitter, Thorleifsson confirmed the worst: His days at Twitter were over.
Thorleifsson, founder of Ueno, a digital agency acquired by Twitter in 2021, found himself caught in a Musk-produced chaos a little more than a week ago, when he suddenly lost access to his work computer. The Ueno founder stated that he asked Twitter’s human resources department whether he still had a job but was told they didn’t know. After emailing Musk himself to no avail, Thorleifsson decided to do the next best thing. He tweeted at the Twitter CEO.
“Dear @elonmusk 👋 9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees,” Thorleifsson said on Monday afternoon. “However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve ot answered my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?” [….]
Thorleifsson’s tweet received tens of thousands of retweets and likes and succeeded in capturing Musk’s attention, which experience has shown us can lead to either good or bad things. The Platformer newsletter reported that the Twitter CEO was “furious” after an engineer broke links and images on Twitter on Monday morning, so it’s safe to assume that the chief twit was not having a good day.
Musk started by asking Thorleifsson, who is based in Iceland, what kind of work he had been doing. Thorleifsson stated that he couldn’t discuss that publicly on Twitter without prior approval from Musk’s lawyers, which Musk waved off, giving him permission in a tweet. The employee went on to list a number of things he was responsible for at the company, including heading the effort to save $500,000 on a SaaS contract, leading critiques to level up design across the company, serving as the hiring manager for all design roles, and prioritizing design projects to accommodate Twitter’s smaller team.
A notorious micromanager, Musk proceeded to ask for more details and then responded to Thorleifsson with two “🤣 🤣” emojis….
In a follow up tweet, Musk bombarded Thorleifsson with questions and demanded pictures of the employee’s work….
Thorleifsson told Musk that he couldn’t provide pics or docs because Twitter had locked his computer, adding that he could provide documentation if Musk restored his access to the device. After talking to Musk for about an hour, Thorleifsson tweeted that Twitter human resources had “miraculously” replied to confirm that he no longer worked at the company.
Musk, meanwhile, apparently unsatisfied with laughing at a former employee, decided to trash talk Thorleifsson hours after their exchange. The Twitter CEO cast doubt on Thorleifsson’s disability—he suffers from a type of muscular dystrophy called dystrophinopathy—and said he couldn’t have been fired since he didn’t work.
It was pretty clear in the exchange, which you can read on Twitter, that Musk did not even comprehend Halli’s description of his work for Twitter or that Twitter had bought out Halli’s design company and still owed him money.
Back to Gizmodo:
Thorleifsson responded to Musk’s cruel comments about his performance on Tuesday morning. After pointing out that Musk was revealing confidential health information, he explained the effects muscle dystrophy has on his body. Thorleifsson shared that he started using a wheelchair when he was 25 years old and today needs help to get in and out of bed and use the toilet.
Addressing Musk’s comments about his hands, Thorleifsson said he had told HR that he was unable to do manual work for extended periods of time, but can write for one or two hours at a time.
“This wasn’t a problem in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior director and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, give them strategic and tactical guidance,” Thorleifsson stated. “I’m typing this on my phone btw. It’s easier for because I only need to use one finger.” [….]
Here’s a photo of Thorleifsson:
More information on Thorleifsson, from BBC News:
The Iceland-based entrepreneur had sold his company, Ueno, a creative design agency, to Twitter in early 2021 – after founding the firm in Reykjavik in 2014.
As part of the acquisition he became a full-time employee at Twitter.
“I decided to sell for a few reasons but one of them is that I have muscular dystrophy and my body is slowly but surely failing me,” he told the BBC.
“I have a few good work years left in me so this was a way to wrap up my company, and set up myself and my family for years when I won’t be able to do as much.”
Mr Thorleifsson is worried that Mr Musk will not honour the contract he signed with Twitter when he sold them his company.
“This is extremely stressful. This is my retirement fund, a way to take care of myself and my family as my disease progresses. Having the richest man in the world on the other end of this, potentially refusing to stand by contracts is not easy for me to accept,” he said.
Last month, Elon Musk appeared to fire another 200 Twitter employees. It means that Twitter now has just over 2,000 workers – down from approximately 7,500 in October.“Companies let people go, that’s within their rights,” Mr Thorleifsson said. “They usually tell people about it but that’s seemingly the optional part at Twitter now”.
I’ve probably spent too much time on this story, but I’m really having a hard time dealing with the fact that an ignorant psychopath like Musk has as much power as he does. Fortunately, he’s revealing his psychopathology to the world now, and perhaps that will bring him down a few pegs. On the other hand, it appears his fellow psychopath Donald Trump is never going to go away so maybe I’m just delusional.
And now, more Twitter tales:
This is from yesterday, and might partially explain Musk’s apparent stress level. Platformer: How a single engineer brought down Twitter on Monday.
On Monday morning, Twitter users logged on to find a thicket of connected issues. Clicking on links would no longer open them; instead, users would see a mysterious error message reporting that “your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint.” Images stopped loading as well. Other users reported that they could not access TweetDeck, the Twitter-owned client for professional users.
Chaos took over the timeline, as users tweeted vociferously about the outage — often illustrating their points with images that no one could see, because they wouldn’t load.
In a tweet, the company offered the vaguest of explanations for what was happening.
“Some parts of Twitter may not be working as expected right now,” the company’s support account tweeted. “We made an internal change that had some unintended consequences.”
The change in question was part of a project to shut down free access to the Twitter API, Platformer can now confirm. On February 1, the company announced it will no longer support free access to its API, which effectively ended the existence of third-party clients and dramatically limited outside researchers’ ability to study the network. The company has been building a new, paid API for developers to work with.
API stands for “Application Platform Interface.” Twitter has previously allowed researchers, developers, and other applications free access to Twitter’s API. Now they will have to pay for the privilege. From Endgaget:
Of all the once-unthinkable changes Elon Musk had made since taking over Twitter, pulling the rug out from under developers might seem relatively minor. After banning third-party clients without warning, Twitter announced that it would no longer allow any developer to use its APIs for free.
So far, Twitter has communicated very little about the changes, other than confirming a February 9th cut-off date. Musk has suggested Twitter could charge $100 a month “with ID verification,” but hasn’t elaborated. What we do know, is that once free access is shut off, thousands of apps, research projects, bots and other services will stop functioning (or, at the very least, be interrupted). If you’re a Twitter user, chances are this will affect you in some way, and you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to prepare.
Musk appears to be living in fear of his own workforce. Fortune: Elon Musk’s bodyguards follow him around the office—even to the restroom, Twitter employee says.
During an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama program, a Twitter staff member told the broadcaster that Musk did not appear to trust employees.
He argued that this is evident in the level of personal security Musk, who is acting Twitter CEO, brings with him to the office.
According to the employee—who still works at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco and spoke to the BBC under the condition of anonymity—Musk is always accompanied to work by multiple bodyguards.
“Wherever he goes in the office, there are at least two bodyguards—very bulky, tall, Hollywood movie [style] bodyguards,” he said. “Even when [he goes] to the restroom.” [….]
The same employee—one of many current and former Twitter staffers interviewed by Panorama—also alleged that Tesla engineers were being brought in to evaluate Twitter engineers’ coding. The evaluations, which would take a few days, were being used to decide who to fire, the employee claimed, despite the complex code requiring months before it could be understood.
He said this also gave him the sense that Musk did not trust his workforce at Twitter.
And now on to another powerful psychopath, Tucker Carlson of Fox “News.” On his show last night, Carlson selectively played some of the January 6 footage that Kevin McCarthy gave him, claiming to show that there was no significant violence in the Capitol insurrection.
Sahil Kapur at NBC News: Tucker Carlson, with video provided by Speaker McCarthy, falsely depicts Jan. 6 riot as a peaceful gathering.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday released security video from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, using footage provided exclusively to him by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to portray the riot as a peaceful gathering.
Carlson acquired the tapes as part of a pushby McCarthy, R-Calif., to win the speaker’s gavel. When McCarthy was struggling to gather the votes to lead the House, Carlson used his program to list two “concessions” he could make to win over far-right Republicans.
“First, release the January 6 files. Not some of the January 6 files and video — all of it,” Carlson, the most-watched host on cable news, said after McCarthy faced three failed votes. “So that the rest of us can finally know what actually happened on January 6, 2021.”
In the two months since McCarthy won the gavel, he has granted both. Carlson announced in late February that McCarthy had given him exclusive access to 44,000 hours of security video from the deadly riot before he unveiled some clips of the video on his show Monday night.
Carlson focused Monday’s segment on promoting former President Donald Trump’s narrative by showing video of his supporters walking calmly around the U.S. Capitol. He asserted that other media accounts lied about the attack, proclaiming that while there were some bad apples, most of the rioters were peaceful and calling them “sightseers,” not “insurrectionists.”
“The footage does not show an insurrection or a riot in progress,” Carlson told his audience Monday. “Instead it shows police escorting people through the building, including the now-infamous ‘QAnon Shaman.’”
He continued: “More than 44,000 hours of surveillance footage from in and around the Capitol have been withheld from the public, and once you see the video, you’ll understand why. Taken as a whole, the video does not support the claim that Jan. 6 was an insurrection. In fact, it demolishes that claim.”
Video that Carlson didn’t air shows police and rioters engaged in hours of violent combat. Nearly 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack. About 140 officers were assaulted that day, and about 326 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including 106 assaults that happened with deadly or dangerous weapons. About 60 people pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement. Two pipe bombs were also planted nearby but were not detonated.Carlson also lied about what happened to Brian Sicknick.
Read more at the NBC News link.
Some Twitter commentary on Tucker’s presentation:
Oliver Darcy at CNN: Tucker Carlson, with help from Kevin McCarthy, tries to sanitize the very real violence of the January 6 attack.
The face of Fox News is doing everything in his power to sanitize the horrific violence the nation saw unfold in real-time at the U.S. Capitol in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
And on Monday night, he had a major assist from Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who granted him exclusive access to tens of thousands of hours of January 6 security camera footage.
After continuing to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election (“it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy”), Tucker Carlson used the footage on Monday night to portray those who broke into the U.S. Capitol as mostly peaceful patriots who simply felt wronged by the system. Carlson, who falsely claimed the footage provided “conclusive” evidence proving Democrats “lied” about the events of January 6, aired footage showing some people taking selfies and meandering through the U.S. Capitol.
“Taken as a whole the video record does not support the claim that January 6th was an insurrection,” Carlson claimed. “In fact, it demolishes that claim.”
The whole episode said more about McCarthy than it did Carlson. In effect, McCarthy served as Carlson’s reluctant, but obedient, accomplice, providing Carlson the ink in the Fox News conspiracy theorist’s quest to rewrite the events of the day in which the country’s citadel of democracy was assaulted. Those events were inspired by the very same election denying rhetoric the right-wing talk channel that pays Carlson’s handsome multi-million salary gave platform to in the wake of the 2020 contest.
McCarthy, of course, knew precisely what he was doing when he handed over the footage to Carlson while denying it to actual news organizations.
Read the rest at CNN.
The third psychopath needs no introduction, of course. Trump is the psychopath who gave other psychopaths permission to take their insanity public. Here’s what he is up today.
In the face of all this madness, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m experiencing some dissociation today. Now I’m going to sit quietly for awhile and try to pull myself together.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: December 13, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, Twitter | Tags: Anthony Fauci, anti-LGBTQ hate, Denver Riggleman, Department of Homeland Security, Elon Musk, Hunter Walker, January 6 Committee, Justine Wilson, Mark Meadows texts, Oath Keepers, transgender pronouns, Twitter, Vivian Jenna Wilson 9 Comments
Yesterday, Talking Points Memo released a large trove of Mark Meadows’ text messages. It’s not clear how they obtained them, but the main author of the series of articles is Hunter Walker, who collaborated with Denver Riggleman on the book The Breach, which described Riggleman’s work for the January 6 Committee. Riggleman led the project to identify the senders of text messages that were turned over to the committee. The articles are not behind the usual TPM paywall.
Hunter Walker introduces the series at TPM: A Plot To Overturn An American Election.
TPM has obtained the 2,319 text messages that Mark Meadows, who was President Trump’s last White House chief of staff, turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Today, we are publishing The Meadows Texts, a series based on an in-depth analysis of these extraordinary — and disturbing — communications.
The vast majority of Meadows’ texts described in this series are being made public for the very first time. They show the senior-most official in the Trump White House communicating with members of Congress, state-level politicians, and far-right activists as they work feverishly to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The Meadows texts illustrate in moment-to-moment detail an authoritarian effort to undermine the will of the people and upend the American democratic system as we know it.
The text messages, obtained from multiple sources, offer new insights into how the assault on the election was rooted in deranged internet paranoia and undemocratic ideology. They show Meadows and other high-level Trump allies reveling in wild conspiracy theories, violent rhetoric, and crackpot legal strategies for refusing to certify Joe Biden’s victory. They expose the previously unknown roles of some members of Congress, local politicians, activists and others in the plot to overturn the election. Now, for the first time, many of those figures will be named and their roles will be described — in their own words.
Meadows turned over the text messages during a brief period of cooperation with the committee before he filed a December 2021 lawsuit arguing that its subpoenas seeking testimony and his phone records were “overly broad” and violations of executive privilege. The committee did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Since then, Meadows has faced losses in his efforts to challenge the subpoena in court. However, that legal battle is ongoing and is unlikely to conclude before next month, when the incoming Republican House majority is widely expected to shutter the committee’s investigation. Earlier this year, Meadows reportedly turned over the same material he gave the select committee to the Justice Department in response to another subpoena. These messages are key evidence in the two major investigations into the Jan. 6 attack. With this series, the American people will be able to evaluate the most important texts for themselves.
This one is the real shocker. Hunter Walker, Josh Kovensky, and Emine Yücel at TPM: Mark Meadows Exchanged Texts With 34 Members Of Congress About Plans To Overturn The 2020 Election.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged text messages with at least 34 Republican members of Congress as they plotted to overturn President Trump’s loss in the 2020 election….
Meadows’ exchanges shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it. The messages document the role members played in the campaign to subvert the election as it was conceived, built, and reached its violent climax on Jan. 6, 2021. The texts are rife with links to far-right websites, questionable legal theories, violent rhetoric, and advocacy for authoritarian power grabs.
One message identified as coming from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) to Meadows on January 17, 2021, three days before Joe Biden was set to take office, is a raw distillation of the various themes in the congressional correspondence. In the text, despite a typo, Norman seemed to be proposing a dramatic last ditch plan: having Trump impose martial law during his final hours in office.
“Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”
The text, which has not previously been reported, is a particularly vivid example of how congressional opposition to Biden’s election was underpinned by paranoid and debunked conspiracy theories like those about Dominion voting machines. Norman’s text also showed the potentially violent lengths to which some congressional Republicans were willing to go in order to keep Trump in power. The log Meadows provided to the select committee does not include a response to Norman’s message.
Reached via cell phone on Monday morning, Norman asked TPM for a chance to review his messages before commenting.
“It’s been two years,” Norman said. “Send that text to me and I’ll take a look at it.”
TPM forwarded Norman a copy of the message calling for “Marshall Law!!” We did not receive any further response from the congressman.
Read the rest at TPM.
Two more pieces in the series:
Hunter Walker and Josh Kovensky at TPM: Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry’s Work To Overturn 2020 Election Included A ‘Cyber Team’ And An Italian Job.
Kate Riga and Hunter Walker: As The 2020 Election Slipped Away, Andy Biggs And Mark Meadows Schemed To Reverse The Vote In Arizona.
So you can check those out at TPM. It’s quite a scoop for Josh Marshall’s blog.
Here’s another shocker from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): Hundreds of Members of Extremist Group Oath Keepers Worked for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Leaked Roster Shows.
More than 300 people identifying themselves as current or former employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or affiliated agencies appeared on an internal roster of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing anti-government group whose leader has been convicted of sedition.
Among them is a man identifying himself as a “20 year Special Agent” with the U.S. Secret Service who worked security for two presidents, a person who said he was a “Current Supervisory Border Patrol Agent,” and one who described himself as an IT employee at the headquarters of the Transportation Security Administration.
The Oath Keepers roster analyzed by OCCRP and its reporting partner, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), shows that 306 dues-paying Oath Keepers members listed themselves as affiliated with DHS, including 21 who said they were working for the agency at the time their names were added.
One hundred eighty-four identified themselves as having served in the Coast Guard, 67 as having worked in DHS itself, 40 at Customs and Border Protection or the Border Patrol, 11 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and seven at the U.S. Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting the president, vice president, and visiting heads of state.
The new revelations are troubling, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democratic congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.
“Extremism within our government is always alarming, but even more so in a department with a law enforcement and national security nexus like DHS,” said Thompson, who is also heading the U.S. House’s investigation into the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol….
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-racism group, the Oath Keepers claim to have recruited tens of thousands of current and former U.S. military and law enforcement employees. The Oath Keepers’ top leader, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, wrote in a 2009 blog post that “men like this on the inside … can and do provide information to expose what is going on,” adding that “we are hearing from more and more federal officers all the time.”
Click the link to read more.
Elon Musk continues his pathetic cries for attention from the right wing mob. I’m sure you’ve heard that he attacked Anthony Fauci on Twitter. From The Independent: Dr Fauci hits back at Musk claims he should be prosecuted: ‘Cesspool of misinformation.’
Dr Anthony Fauci, the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who helped steer the country through the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, brushed off criticism from Twitter’s Elon Musk on Monday.
On Sunday, Mr Musk, who has increasingly broadcast far right views in recent months, tweeted: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”
Dr Fauci, who has faced hostility from conservatives for years due to his support of public health measures to limit the spread and severity of Covid, told reporter Max Kozlov of the science magazine Nature that he was not bothered by Mr Musk’s attack.
“I don’t pay attention to that, Max, and I don’t even feel I need to respond,” Dr Fauci told Kozlov. “A lot of that stuff is just a cesspool of misinformation, and I don’t waste a minute worrying about it.”
Kozlov tweeted that a full interview with Dr Fauci is forthcoming.
Mr Musk, who was an early skeptic of Covid public health measures and remote work, at one point tweeted that there would likely be no new US cases of Covid by April of 2020. His lack of public health credentials notwithstanding, Mr Musk’s tweet was amplified by critics of Dr Fauci like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Mr Musk’s tweet also mocked the increasingly common practice of people explicitly stating their preferred gender pronouns, a practice aimed at ensuring that people are not misgendered.
Yesterday, I learned that there could be some personal psychological reasons for Musk’s right-wing radicalization. One of his children, who identifies as a trans woman, has publicly disowned him and changed her surname. She legally changed her name from Xavier Musk to Vivian Jenna Wilson (he mother’s maiden name).
Mercury News: Elon Musk says he lost transgender daughter because of ‘neo-Marxists.’
Elon Musk doesn’t seem to believe he played any role in alienating his 18-year-old transgender daughter, who made the legal move this year to no longer be related to her controversial billionaire father “in any way, shape or form.”
Instead, the Tesla CEO told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday that his child’s decision to distance herself from him was caused by “neo-Marxists” at educational institutions, Page Six reported.
Musk didn’t specify what institutions had worked their influence on his daughter, but he said, “It’s full-on communism and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil.”
Musk apparently sees no connection between his child’s disenchantment with him and his polarizing comments about gender identity issues. The young woman’s mother, Musk’s first wife, Justine Wilson, has characterized the CEO as a difficult, controlling and patriarchal man to live with.
Musk, who has revived his effort to buy Twitter, first came under fire for his views on pronouns in July 2020, when he tweeted that “pronouns suck.” His partner at the time, the singer Grimes, was outraged, saying, “I cannot support hate. Please stop this. I know this isn’t your heart.” Grimes also told him to get off his phone: “I love you but please turn off ur phone.”
Months later, Musk was criticized again for sharing a meme, since deleted, that seemingly mocked people who put their pronouns in their online bios. In response to criticism to that tweet, Musk wrote on Twitter: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare.” [….]
In June, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge officially approved two requests from Musk’s daughter to be legally recognized as a woman. In petitioning for the name change, the daughter also expressed the desire to no longer be related to her famous father. The judge signed documents that said that a new birth certificate would be issued to the young woman, which reflects the change in name and gender.
A bit more about Musk from his former wife:
In a scathing essay Wilson wrote for Marie Claire about their marriage, which ended in 2008, she said that Musk grew up in the male-dominated culture of South Africa.
“The will to compete and dominate that made him so successful in business did not magically shut off when he came home,” Wilson wrote. “This, and the vast economic imbalance between us, meant that in the months following our wedding, a certain dynamic began to take hold.
“Elon’s judgment overruled mine, and he was constantly remarking on the ways he found me lacking. ‘I am your wife,’ I told him repeatedly, ‘not your employee.’ ‘If you were my employee,’ he said just as often, ‘I would fire you.’”
After their daughter’s decision to sever ties with her father were made public, Wilson expressed support for her, tweeting, “I’m very proud of you!”
You can read the October 7 interview by Roula Khalaf at the Financial Times if you sign up for a free account. Here are some relevant bits: Elon Musk: “Aren’t you entertained?”
Why does a serious guy with serious ideas indulge in silly Twitter games that could also cost his followers dearly? “Aren’t you entertained?” Musk roars with laughter. “I play the fool on Twitter and often shoot myself in the foot and cause myself all sorts of trouble . . . I don’t know, I find it vaguely therapeutic to express myself on Twitter. It’s a way to get messages out to the public.”
It is fair to say that Musk is obsessed with Twitter, so much so that he’s been embroiled in an epic on/off buyout of the platform that has captivated Wall Street and the tech industry for months….
I had asked over dinner whether his original offer had been a bad joke. “Twitter is certainly an invitation to increase your pain level,” he says. “I guess I must be a masochist . . . ” But he makes no secret that his interest in the company has never been primarily financial: “I’m not doing Twitter for the money. It’s not like I’m trying to buy some yacht and I can’t afford it. I don’t own any boats. But I think it’s important that people have a maximally trusted and inclusive means of exchanging ideas and that it should be as trusted and transparent as possible.” The alternative, he says, is a splintering of debate into different social-media bubbles, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s Truth Social network. “It [Truth Social] is essentially a rightwing echo chamber. It might as well be called Trumpet.”
Now it’s clear that Musk is turning Twitter into Truth Social or something even worse. This is interesting:
We turn to his views on government and politics and the Twitter Musk appears, the more emotional, unrestrained persona that comes across in his frenetic posts. He is lauding billionaires as the most efficient stewards of capital, best placed to decide on the allocation of social benefits. “If the alternative steward of capital is the government, that is actually not going to be to the benefit of the people,” says Musk.
He is railing against Joe Biden for being in thrall to the unions but also daring to snub him. “He [Biden] had an electric vehicle summit at the White House and deliberately didn’t invite Tesla last year. Then to follow it up, to add insult to injury, at a big event he said that GM was leading the electric car revolution, in the same quarter that GM shipped 26 electric cars and we shipped 300,000. Does that seem fair to you?” [….]
Musk has a dystopian view of the left’s influence on America, which helps explain his wild pursuit of Twitter to liberate free speech. He blames the fact that his teenage daughter no longer wants to be associated with him on the supposed takeover of elite schools and universities by neo-Marxists. “It’s full-on communism . . . and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil,” says Musk. “It [the relationship] may change, but I have very good relationships with all the others [children]. Can’t win them all.”
Musk was abused by his father as a child, and his response has been to become a bully.
He also has a dim view of regulators, whom he sees as bureaucrats justifying their jobs by going after high-profile targets like him. He seems to be in a constant feud with one regulator or another, whether it’s over his own pronouncements or over the treatment of staff. Musk is unabashed about driving his employees hard. He was bullied as a child (and has also spoken of emotional abuse by his father) but is now sometimes accused of bullying others. He shoots back: if anyone is unhappy working for him, they should work elsewhere because “they’re not chained to the company, it’s voluntary.
That explains a lot. Read more at Financial Times if you’re interested. I’m beginning to find Musk even more annoying and repulsive than Trump. And here’s the October 2001 Marie Claire essay by Justine Musk: “I Was a Starter Wife”: Inside America’s Messiest Divorce.”
More Twitter News:
Kayla Gogarty at Media Matters: Anti-LGBTQ hate has increased on Twitter since Elon Musk officially acquired the company.
A new report from Media Matters and GLAAD shows that since Elon Musk took over as Twitter CEO and plunged the company into chaos with erratic decisions, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has increased on the platform, despite his claims and actions to the contrary, including disbanding Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Media Matters has found that retweets of right-wing figures’ tweets that included the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur increased substantially, as did mentions of right-wing figures in tweets containing the slur.
Key findings include:
- Anti-LGBTQ accounts that saw substantial increases in both retweets of and mentions in tweets with the slur included Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, Jake Shield, Gays Against Groomers, Blaire White, Allie Beth Stuckey, Andy Ngo, Seth Dillon, and Mike Cernovich.
- Collectively, these 9 accounts saw an over 1,200% increase in retweets of tweets with the slur, going from nearly 3,600 to over 48,000, and they saw an over 1,100% increase in mentions in tweets with the slur, going from over 5,300 to more than 65,000.
- Other right-wing accounts also saw substantial increases of mentions in tweets containing the slur. For instance, Libs of TikTok saw more than a 600% increase in its mentions, going from nearly 2,000 to nearly 14,000, while Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) saw a nearly 6,000% increase, going from nearly 70 mentions to over 4,000.
- Anti-LGBTQ figure James Lindsay and right-wing satire site Babylon Bee have earned thousands of retweets on posts perpetuating the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur and have been mentioned in thousands of tweets referencing the slur since their accounts were reinstated by Musk.
- Mentions of prominent LGBTQ accounts in tweets with the “groomer” slur also increased during the time frame, with one account seeing an increase of over 225,000% after Musk officially acquired the platform.
Read more at Media Matters.
The Washington Post: Twitter dissolves Trust and Safety Council.
Twitter on Monday night abruptly dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the latest sign that Elon Musk is unraveling years of work and institutions created to make the social network safer and more civil.
Members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council received an email with the subject line, “Thank You,” that informed them the council was no longer “the best structure” to bring “external insights into our product and policy development work.”
The email dissolution arrived less than an hour before members of the council were expecting to meet with Twitter executives via Zoom to discuss recent developments, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
Dozens of civil rights leaders, academics and advocates from around the world had volunteered their time for years to help improve safety on the platform.
“We are grateful for your engagement, advice and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future,” said the email, which was simply signed “Twitter.”
In less than two months, Musk has undone years of investments in trust and safety at Twitter — dismissing key parts of the workforce and bringing back accounts that previously had been suspended. As the body unravels, Musk is tightening his grip on decisions about the future of content moderation at Twitter, with less input from outside experts.
The move is just throwing away “years of institutional memory that we on the council have brought” to the company, said one council member who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to concerns about harassment on the platform. “Getting external experts and advocates looking at your services makes you smarter.”
Read more at the WaPo.
I’ll end there and turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on all this? What other stories are you following?
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: December 3, 2022 Filed under: cat art, caturday, just because | Tags: Boston, climate change research, Earthshot awards, Elon Musk, Hunter Biden, Matt Taibbi, Prince William, Princess Catherine, Trump dinner with Nazis, Twitter 16 Comments
This is going to be kind of a lightweight post, because I’m burned out on serious news at the moment.
There was a big social event in support of climate change research in Boston over the past few days. I wasn’t really paying attention, and neither was most of the national media; but it was for a good cause. Prince William and Princess Kate toured the Boston area for days, and handed out “Earthshot” awards at a ceremony featuring President Biden and some big name celebrities. This was the second Earthshot awards ceremony.
From the Earthshot Awards Website: FIVE WINNERS OF THE SECOND EVER EARTHSHOT PRIZE AWARDS UNVEILED.
Tonight, Prince William and The Earthshot Prize revealed the 2022 Earthshot Prize winners – an accomplished group of entrepreneurs and innovators spearheading ground-breaking solutions to repair and regenerate the planet.
Each winner was awarded a £1 million prize at the second-annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, which will be broadcast Sunday, December 4 at 17:30pm GMT on BBC and will begin streaming on Monday, December 5 at 2:00pm EST on PBS.org and the PBS app.
Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot challenge in the 1960s, which united millions of people around the goal of putting a person on the moon within a decade, The Earthshot Prize aims to discover and help scale innovative solutions that put the world firmly on a trajectory toward a stable climate by 2030 – a world in which communities, oceans and biodiversity can thrive in harmony.
Each year over the course of this critical decade for the planet, five winners will be chosen for their ground-breaking solutions to five of the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet. These five Earthshots are: Protect and Restore Nature; Clean our Air; Revive our Oceans; Build a Waste-free World; and Fix our Climate.
Following a rigorous selection process focused on identifying the most inspirational, impactful, and inclusive solutions, the five 2022 winners are:
Clean our Air: Mukuru Clean Stoves, Kenya – A start-up providing cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya to reduce unhealthy indoor pollution and provide a safer way to cook.
Protect and Restore Nature: Kheyti, India – A pioneering solution for local smallholder farmers to reduce costs, increase yields and protect livelihoods in a country on the frontlines of climate change.
Revive our Oceans: Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – An inspiring women led program that combines 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea.
Build a Waste-free World: Notpla, United Kingdom – A circular solution creating an alternative to plastic packaging from seaweed.
Fix our Climate: 44.01, Oman – Created by childhood friends who have developed an innovative technique to turn CO2 into rock, and permanently store it underground.
Time: Prince William’s Earthshot Prize Winners Include a Seaweed-Based Plastic Startup and Cleaner Cookstoves.
There is no shortage of environmental problems that need to be solved. And today in Boston, Mass.—at a ceremony marked by celebrity appearances and calls to action from around the world—Prince William through his Earthshot Prize handed out over $6 million dollars to help accelerate five solutions to tackling issues on conservation, air quality, oceans, waste, and climate change.
The annual Earthshot Prize, an independent charity founded by Prince William and the Royal Foundation in 2020, awards $1.2 million each to winners in the five categories. The initiative aims to bring the same level of urgency and ambition to today’s environmental challenges as John F. Kennedy’s “moonshot” space-race challenge. (Marc and Lynne Benioff, TIME’s owners and co-chairs, have been among the philanthropic supporters of the effort.)
Among the panel of judges selecting this year’s high-profile awards are naturalist Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett, musician Shakira, and Christiana Figueres, former head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The winners were selected from a group of 15 finalists from 10 different countries, and included, among others, grassroots organizations dedicated to forest protection and biodiversity conservation, along with start-ups exploring clean battery technology and alternative leather derived from waste.
It seems I’m not the only Bostonian who was unimpressed with the royals visit to our city.
The New York Times: Bostonians’ Take on the Royals’ Whirlwind Visit? Whatevah.
Crowds had gathered at rain-swept City Hall Plaza to welcome Prince William and Princess Catherine of Wales, the photogenic royals who touched down on Wednesday for a whirlwind three-day tour.
So were patrons abuzz about the visit two miles away at Santarpio’s, a bare-bones bar and pizza joint, and East Boston institution?
“Not yet,” a bartender said dryly as he hustled crispy pizzas and plates of steaming sausage to a row of diners Wednesday night, his expression suggesting the likelihood of any buzz was quite low.
As breathless online commentary tracked the royal couple’s every movement and designer wardrobe change for a global audience of devoted palace watchers, laconic swaths of their host city remained unimpressed, if not wholly unaware of their presence.
At a Dunkin’ in the diverse Dorchester neighborhood on Thursday, a woman waiting for her order in a puffy winter coat, hood up, declined to talk to a reporter, then asked what the story was about.
Informed of the topic, she curtly shook her head.
“Don’t care,” she said.
The city’s history helps explain its deep veins of indifference, said Brooke Barbier, a historian who also offers guided tours of Boston. Because its identity is so rooted in the American Revolution and its rejection of monarchy, and because its landscape is still littered with vivid reminders of that past, “it makes sense, even centuries later, that Boston can’t care about the monarchy,” she said. “Even if, secretly, they care.”
Commuters cross the site of the Boston Massacre on their way to the subway (the place where it happened, then King Street, was later renamed); at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, actors routinely re-enact the colonists’ famous 1773 protest against British taxation.
Fans of the first-place Boston Celtics seemed to channel vestiges of that feistiness on Wednesday night, when William and Kate attended a game at TD Garden alongside city officials, and were reportedly met with scattered chants of “USA! USA!” amid the louder cheering, when their faces were shown on a giant screen.
Harpers Bazaar: Boston Is Apparently Really Angry That the Royals Are Visiting.
While some in Somerville, Massachusetts, are appreciative of the fact that the British royals will bring some positive attention to Greentown Labs, an incubator for start-ups aiming to tackle the climate crisis with tech-fueled innovation, others are annoyed about the inconveniences the Wales’s visit will cause for the city—traffic, for example.
A main concern on the social channels is how difficult it will allegedly be for residents to get to grocery store Market Basket, located on Somerville Avenue. A block of the avenue, from Dane Street to School Street, will be blocked during William and Kate’s visit to the area today, according to an email city officials sent to residents on Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported.
Both directions of travel, the sidewalks, and parking will also be closed to the public, and the MBTA’s route 87 bus will be temporarily rerouted, the city reportedly said, adding that the move was made “to accommodate security measures for the British royal visit.”
A spokesperson for Market Basket said the store will remain open, with access from the Union Square side, per the Globe. But even the Somerville city councilor is outraged at the possibility of having one entrance to the local supermarket temporarily, partially blocked for the royals’ historic visit—their first to the U.S. since 2014.
“Hey, did you know that the royal family is visiting Ward 2 tomorrow? Yeah, me neither until I read it in the press,” City Councilor Jefferson Thomas Scott wrote on Twitter yesterday upon the royals’ arrival in Boston.
“I didn’t invite these people and was unaware of this visit until you found out too,” he added. “The City is not handling the Prince and Princess of Wales’ itinerary, so the times of these transits and closures ending is unknown.”
In other news, here’s the latest on Elon Musk’s ongoing destruction of Twitter.
Remember back in the days of the 2008 financial crisis when Matt Taibbi seemed like a serious journalist to some people even though his reporting style was a weak imitation of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism? I wasn’t particularly impressed even then. For a time, Taibbi pretended to be a “progressive,” supporting Bernie Sanders for president. But these days Taibbi, like Glenn Greenwald, is a right-winger and apparent Russian asset. Now he has become an Elon Musk puppet. Yesterday he posted a Twitter thread on Hunter Biden’s laptop, at Musk’s request. I couldn’t quite make sense of the thread, but here are some articles about it.
Axios: Musk’s “Twitter Files” spotlights Hunter Biden story ban.
Elon Musk’s Twitter took aim at the firm’s previous management Friday evening with a “Twitter Files” presentation intended to demonstrate “free speech suppression.“
Driving the news: Musk’s team apparently provided newsletter author Matt Taibbi with access to internal documents surrounding Twitter’s controversial decision, three weeks before the 2020 presidential election, to limit access to a New York Post article about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
At the time Twitter said that it was blocking the Post story under a policy against stolen and hacked materials. Conservatives said the company was censoring the news. Within two days CEO Jack Dorsey reversed the decision and apologized.
The Post story alleged that in 2015 Hunter Biden tried to arrange a meeting between his father and an executive at a Ukrainian company Hunter Biden worked for. Biden spokespeople denied the allegations at the time.
Details: Taibbi’s “Twitter Files” unrolled Friday on Twitter, stretched out across nearly two hours of posting.
— The posts show debates inside Twitter over whether the decision to block the Post story was the right call.
— Conservative outrage at Twitter’s action was loud and public at the time, but Taibbi also reports messages from outside organizations and a Democratic politician over the move.
— A text apparently from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to a Twitter executive reads, “Generating huge backlash on hill re speech.”
Between the lines: Musk’s following greeted “The Twitter Files” as evidence that Twitter had operated with bias, but there was no smoking-gun evidence of a partisan conspiracy to censor.
So that’s the gist of the story. It’s also evident that Musk still doesn’t grasp the meaning of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause. Its purpose was to protect speech from government control and interference. A private company like Twitter is not the government and thus has the right to moderate offensive speech on its platform
Zachary Petrizzo at The Daily Beast on the right wing response: Deeply Underwhelmed’: Right-Wingers on Musk’s Overhyped ‘Twitter Files.’
Elon Musk hyped the release of bombshell revelations Friday about Twitter’s controversial decision to restrict stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop on the platform, but the leak was a resounding flop with many right-wing pundits.
“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump administration official turned right-wing radio host, said. His comments came after journalist Matt Taibbi released a lengthy Twitter thread detailing Musk’s touted findings, namely that Twitter executives themselves were at odds over whether to restrict the Hunter Biden reporting and that Democrats (and Republicans) filed moderation requests with the social media giant….
But the right-wing host didn’t leave it to just a single post. He continued by doubling down when pressed by MAGA diehard followers who were convinced the “Twitter files” promoted by Musk were a smoking gun.
Responding to a Truth Social user claiming the Twitter company emails were “a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,” the radio host fired back: “Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.”
The back and forth ended with Truth Social users accusing Gorka of being “deep state.” (The radio host failed to address questions on the matter sent to him by The Daily Beast on Friday night.)
Likewise, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine—one of the first right-wing reporters to begin writing about the laptop—told Fox News host Tucker Carlson it wasn’t the “smoking gun we’d hoped for.”
“I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she then alleged, claiming sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week. “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”
Tim Miller at The Bulwark: No, You Do Not Have a Constitutional Right to Post Hunter Biden’s Dick Pic on Twitter. Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi’s First Amendment follies.
While normal humans who denied Republicans their red wave were enjoying an epic sports weekend, an insular community of MAGA activists and online contrarians led by the world’s richest man (for now) were getting riled up about a cache of leaked emails revealing that the former actor James Woods and Chinese troll accounts were not allowed to post ill-gotten photos of Hunter Biden’s hog on a private company’s microblogging platform 25 months ago.
Now if you are one of the normals—someone who would never think about posting another person’s penis on your social media account; has no desire to see politicians’ kids’ penises when scrolling social media; doesn’t understand why there are other people out there who care one way or another about the moderation policies surrounding stolen penis photos; or can’t even figure out what it is that I’m talking about—then this might seem like a gratuitous matter for an article. Sadly, it is not.
Because among Republican members of Congress, leading conservative media commentators, contrarian substackers, conservative tech bros, and friends of Donald Trump, the ability to post Hunter Biden’s cock shots on Twitter is the number-one issue in America this weekend. They believe that if they are not allowed to post porno, our constitutional republic may be in jeopardy.
I truly, truly wish I were joking.
Miller’s take on what it was all about:
Here’s a synopsis for the blessedly uninitiated:
On Friday, Elon Musk promised to reveal “what really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression by Twitter.” It turns out that he had provided a trove of internal corporate documents to the Tulsi Gabbard of Substack, Matt Taibbi, who said they amounted to a “unique and explosive story”—revealing the juicy details inside Twitter’s decision to suppress the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story, which had previously been rejected by such liberal outlets as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal due to its suspicious provenance. Taibbi agreed to divulge these private emails on Twitter itself rather than via his Substack as part of a “few conditions,” which he does not detail, that were imposed on him, presumably by Musk or a Musk factotum.
The documents Taibbi tweeted on Friday were titillating in the way that reading private correspondence revealing what people were really saying around a controversial subject always is, but nothing new was learned about the contours of the story. The leak mostly relitigates two facts that have already received much ink across the media: 1) How Twitter throttled the New York Post’s initial story about Hunter’s laptop based on what we now know was an incorrect assessment of its source; and 2) How political campaigns and government agencies have worked with social media companies—in this case Twitter—to flag troubling content.
Read more at the Bulwark link if you’re interested.
I’ll wrap up this gossipy post with some HuffPost reporting by Matt Shuham on Trump’s dinner with Nazis: The Mysterious Fourth Man At The Trump-Ye Dinner Tells His Story.
When former President Donald Trump held a now-infamous dinner last month with Ye, the antisemitic rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and a prominent white nationalist, an unnamed additional guest sat alongside the powerful men.
NBC News reported only that the other person in Ye’s group was the parent of a student at Donda Academy, the rapper’s private school in California. But while speaking about the dinner this week, Ye briefly referred to a man named Jamar Montgomery during a livestream with far-right influencer Tim Pool. Ye identified him as a “Boeing engineer.”
HuffPost tracked Montgomery down and spoke with him Thursday night. He is indeed a Boeing employee, though he did not confirm any connection with Donda Academy. Montgomery told a wild tale about how an invitation from Ye, whom he says he barely knew, quickly led to a dinner with the former leader of the free world. Montgomery shared some details from the evening, including some insight into why a mysterious phone call suddenly darkened Trump’s mood, after which he began treating Ye with open hostility.
Montgomery says he didn’t know about Ye’s anti-Semitism and positive views of Hitler when he accepted the invitation.
Montgomery said Ye initially reached out to him about two weeks ago to talk about education, given Montgomery’s experience as an educator and tutor.
Montgomery confirmed he worked for Boeing, but said, “the work that’s most important to me is the work that I do for the people.” He cited his efforts to teach his community about financial literacy, cryptocurrency and political science. A Boeing spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost that someone of the same name works for the company. The spokesperson declined to describe Montgomery’s work, citing privacy reasons, and said “we did not have an employee there representing Boeing in any official capacity.”
Montgomery ran for U.S. Senate in Louisiana in 2020 as a no-party-affiliation candidate, ultimately earning 5,804 votes, and he currently goes by the moniker “The Crypto Politician.”
And as for the dinner? “I was there as a spectator. I was just along for the ride.”
Those are my offerings for Caturday. Feel free to discuss serious issues in the comment thread.