It’s me, back again, just in time for a Mar-a-Lago bathroom scene.
→ Any news on Donald J. Trump? Oh, the usual. The former president has been indicted, arraigned, and has pleaded not guilty to a slew of felony counts—37! Among them: concealing possession of classified documents and withholding national defense information. The photos of his alleged crimes are the best part: boxes and boxes of documents haphazardly stacked around Mar-a-Lago, heaped along the lip of a stage, hidden in a bathroom under a chandelier (a heavy, ornate gold mirror visible in the corner of the photo). Was he selling the documents? Could be! Hiding them? For sure! But there’s a certain chaos to it that just doesn’t scream Russian Secret Service.
Also a distinct possibility: he just thought they were cool and wanted them around to show off. That’s what former national security advisor John Bolton said on CNN: Trump thought they were “cool” and wanted them as “souvenirs.” Like how most people want a bobblehead, except he wanted dossiers on Benghazi and sleeper cell coordinates. DJT should’ve just stolen a few boxes of White House pens and called it a day.
Biden had made a promise about Trump in 2022: “[W]e just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by—if we—if he does run. I’m making sure he, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become the next President again.” That quote is going viral again now, and the press is freaking out adding fact checks (it’s FALSE, the AP says, because Biden said that last year!), but he definitely said it.
→ Although: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has announced he’s running for president. The Free Press got accused of sexism this week for describing the Cavinder Twins—two female college basketball players—as getting famous in part from their good looks. Which is my perfect segue to say: Mayor Suarez is the best-looking man running for president so far (by far), and TGIF’s endorsement hinges on that alone. He should consider getting a brand deal with Jake Paul’s company for empowerment reasons.
→ Tale of two sides: On the left, CNN and MSNBC refused to carry Trump’s “potentially dangerous” post-arraignment speech this week, even though it is extremely newsworthy. On the right, Fox News ran a chyron that made me wonder a tiny bit about their “fair and balanced” motto.
So fair. Much balanced.
→ RFK’s star rises: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. seems. . . immune. . . to the usual slings and arrows (sorry, I’m trying to make a vax joke and it’s hard; a pox on my house for failing). Last week former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the good liberal who oversaw pre–Elon Musk Twitter, came out to endorse RFK. Joe Rogan just had the candidate on. And this week, a YouGov/Economist poll shows RFK’s favorability is quite high.
→ Fortune does not favor the brave at all: Crypto.com, a cryptocurrency exchange, shut down for institutional investors this week, citing “limited demand.” You might recall Matt Damon’s ad for the scam, er, company, in which he marches toward the camera and says these words: “In these moments of truth, these men and women, these mere mortals, just like you and me. . . as they peer over the edge, they calm their minds and steel their nerves with four simple words that have been whispered by the intrepid since the time of the Romans: ‘Fortune favors the brave.’ ” But these men and women were not taking Carthage; they were tapping a keyboard to put their life savings into NFTs, truly the world’s dumbest creation. When you find yourself thinking about putting a lot of money into an NFT, I want you to pause, pick up your phone, and call any person over the age of 40 to get their take.
→ Fox tries to stop Tucker’s videos: Tucker’s been releasing his show as ten- to fifteen-minute Twitter streams. They’re getting millions and millions of views. The network sent him a cease-and-desist. After watching so much infighting for so many years among liberals, it’s kind of relaxing to see the right get catty like this.
→ Student loan payments to resume: The years-long pause on paying back student loans is lifting, sending the White House into spasms. You see: Biden staffers’ favorite constituency is educated cultural elites with student loans. Which is why this line in the Politico story stood out to me: “White House officials have described the agreement as a relatively narrow one, noting that it ends only the current payment pause. They’ve noted, for example, that it would not prevent the Education Department from pausing payments in response to future national emergencies or if it’s otherwise justified under existing law.” Thank god! I think the climate emergency is calling, and it says it needs debt-free modernist literature PhDs and all mortgages (in Fort Greene, Rockridge, and Silverlake) to be forgiven.
→ Deep dive into the Covid grift: You might wonder how 10 percent of the $4.2 trillion in Covid funding was “misspent” and stolen. As a new AP investigation puts it, there was no great secret code: “The grift was just way too easy.” They quote Dan Fruchter, chief of the fraud and white-collar crime unit at the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Washington: “Here was this sort of endless pot of money that anyone could access.” Anyone? What about me? Where was I when this endless pot of money was being passed around? Anyone who didn’t grab a billion Biden bucks is a fool. When the climate emergency slush fund comes, you better believe I will run. . . an endangered squirrel refuge in my backyard and need $20 million for. . . acorns.
→ Why are people like this? A Harvard Medical School employee was selling human body parts to (and I mean this) real freaks. People who have museums of freaky stuff. Here’s the full indictment, but all you really need to know about these sophisticated criminals is this:
→ Zuckerberg says the establishment asked them to censor true things: We’ve known for years, of course, that tech platforms censored inconvenient truths about Covid. They did so under pressure from the White House and from Biden’s staff reporters at The New York Times, who really, really, really, don’t care where Covid came from because it doesn’t matter and why do you need to know? What, are you into virus origin kink? Now, even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is admitting that the pressure to censor facts is exactly what happened. He said: “Just take some of the stuff around Covid earlier on in the pandemic, where there were real health implications, but there hadn’t been time to fully vet a bunch of the scientific assumptions. . . Unfortunately, I think a lot of the establishment on that kind of waffled on a bunch of facts and asked for a bunch of things to be censored that, in retrospect, ended up being more debatable or true. That stuff is really tough, right? It really undermines trust.”
→ San Francisco loses its biggest hotel and biggest mall: My hometown came two steps closer to socialist utopia recently as two rapacious capitalist enterprises announced they would be fleeing in the face of The People United Will Never Be Defeated. First, owners of the city’s largest hotel, the 1,921-room Hilton Union Square announced they are surrendering the hotel to their lenders. Then, the city’s largest mall operator, Westfield, announced they are walking away from the mall. They had earlier cited “unsafe conditions” and “lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity” for falling occupancy.
The thing about San Francisco is, sure, there is crime, but the crime stats don’t capture the real issue. The general havoc and chaos of fentanyl-fueled mental illness is hard to quantify since it’s usually not that violent. Let’s take one example from the Chronicle story on the Westfield mall closing: “At one point at the Ted Baker store, employees locked the doors and someone banged on them, ‘threatening to bring a gun to shoot everyone, and telling our team that they will wait for them and rape them on their way home.’ ” That doesn’t rank highly on a crime index (no one was raped, no one killed), but it certainly ranks highly in the mind of the mom buying a floral dress, suddenly trapped in Ted Baker.
Anyway, it’s a big win for San Francisco activists, who finally are getting rid of the gentrification they hate (i.e., art galleries and cafés, a hotel, shops, disgusting). I’m always so confused how our activists adapted the language of the European left but somehow oppose all their goals (safe, clean parks, nice little apartments, showering slightly less frequently). If you have the politics of a moderate Swede, well, in San Francisco that makes you a full-blown fascist.
Here’s an interesting chart of the cities that are gaining lots of people—and the cities that are losing them.
→ A plastics treaty: This month in Paris, the world’s governments (via the UN) agreed to come up with a plastics treaty. The UN says the treaty could cut plastic production by 80 percent in 2040. It seems world governments are seeing this as a crisis akin to ozone depletion, which was miraculously staved off, proving the UN is good for this one thing. Microplastics end up in our blood and brains, in placentas and lungs. We don’t know half of what this stuff does to our bodies. I’m looking at you, Saran wrap.
And this is cool: Montana kids are suing the state for violating their right to a healthy, clean environment. This particular suit seems more like a stunt, but I’m all for eco-stunts, as long as they don’t involve blocking my commute.
In other news, the North Atlantic Ocean reached record high temperatures this week. Good news for a summer swim.
→ Philip Morris gets higher ESG rating than Tesla: Before anyone gets too excited about America making a sensible turn on climate change, let’s check in on our eco-investing program. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scores are meant to be guides for ethical investing, and a company’s score is extremely influential for where big investors put their money. It’s also fully corrupt, and data firms award high scores only to companies that give money to the most bizarre causes. So for example: Tesla now has an overall score of 37 out of 100, compared to Philip Morris International, which has a score of 84. Never mind that cigarettes accelerate the deaths of 8 million a year. (Read Rupa Subramanya’s Free Press article about ESG.)
More news below, but first, an interlude from our friend and Free Press cartoonist-in-chief David Mamet:
→ Starbucks pays $25 million for racial discrimination: White women are out of control. First 95 percent of them are TERF tennis lesbians, and now they also want to keep their jobs? You’re telling me discrimination laws apply to Karens too?
You might remember the situation that started things: in Philadelphia, in 2018, in a Starbucks, a worker called the cops on two black men who had not ordered anything and were waiting for their friend. Pretty shitty! Trouble is, the Starbucks location manager was black. Tricky situation. But Big Coffee needed a big scapegoat, and slowly they settled on Shannon Phillips, a relatively random regional manager who had great reviews and nice bonuses, but who was white and seemed super fireable.
First, her boss, Camille Hymes, made Shannon suspend another white Philadelphia Starbucks manager who also had nothing to do with the offending branch, saying the cause was that the manager underpaid workers of color. When Phillips pointed out that was impossible because the guy didn’t set worker wages, Camille waved her on and said basically whatever, get rid of him. But Camille remembered Shannon’s resistance. And soon after that Shannon was fired too, and the only reason given was that “the situation is not recoverable.” Repeated over and over.
I’m getting this all from the original complaint, which is hilariously dark reading for those who know no greater joy than the bloodbath of corporate office politics.
Now that Starbucks has to pay $25 million thanks to Camille, she’s probably skulked away, right? Nope. Last month she got a big promotion. She’s now the COO of Smoothie King. This woman is committed to the drink game.
→ Insider union drive: Workers at media start-ups love unionizing. For a good sense of what usually happens next, read this Columbia Journalism Review piece on how Pop Up magazine’s union destroyed the company (the piece obviously doesn’t frame it that way, but you’ll see what I mean if you read it). Anyway, this week my favorite images were of Insider EIC Nicholas Carlson on a Citi Bike in Brooklyn, wearing a helmet like a nerd, cruising around and tearing down pro-union posters that targeted him. There was a standoff. There were phones waved in faces in Windsor Terrace. It was all very 2020.
Obviously, we stand with Nick. And to the employees of TGIF: please unionize after we IPO. I will be the greatest evil villain boss, but let me get a pool first.