A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That
The Culture War Cult.
"While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise." That's Idaho Gov. Brad Little on his state's Texas-style abortion law "that relies on private citizens, not the state, to enforce it through the threat of ruinous financial penalties. When the Idaho law takes effect in 30 days, anyone who performs an abortion after the detection of fetal cardiac activity can be sued for at least $20,000 by 'the father of the preborn child, a grandparent of the preborn child, a sibling of the preborn child, or an aunt or uncle of the preborn child.'" While Little had some little misgivings about the bill (unconstitutional and unwise pretty much covers everything), he still signed it into law, because, in certain quarters, today's politics have nothing to do with either the constitution or wisdom. Maybe we should have a law that allows citizens to sue government officials who cravenly sign bills into law even when they admit those laws are both stupid and illegal?
+ In Utah, Gov Spencer Cox was presented with a bill limiting the participation of transgender kids in interscholastic sports. Unlike Gov Little, he vetoed his legislature's bill, and had the guts to publicly explain why. "I must admit, I am not an expert on transgenderism. I struggle to understand so much of it and the science is conflicting. When in doubt however, I always try to err on the side of kindness, mercy and compassion. I also try to get proximate and I am learning so much from our transgender community. They are great kids who face enormous struggles. Here are the numbers that have most impacted my decision: 75,000, 4, 1, 86 and 56. 75,000 high school kids participating in high school sports in Utah. 4 transgender kids playing high school sports in Utah. 1 transgender student playing girls sports. 86% of trans youth reporting suicidality. 56% of trans youth having attempted suicide. Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few." Now why would a state legislature be wasting its time targeting one child? We know why. For the same reason people like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Lindsay Graham turned this week's SCOTUS hearings into Q-Anon-esque (and Q-Anon loved) disgrace focused on pedophilia and critical race theory. For the same reason that at least 35 states have passed or considered legislation on race education. Because the culture wars sell. And the culture wars use fear and rage to distract voters from what they should really focus on: Whether their elected officials are voting for things that benefit them and their families. But that's not what people like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Lindsay Graham vote for. They vote to give guys like me tax breaks while giving their constituents the satisfaction of knowing that a handful of transgender kids will be less of a perceived threat and the pleasure of watching SCOTUS hearings in which they deny racism while performing it.
2. Evil Spirits
"Among adults younger than 65, alcohol-related deaths actually outnumbered deaths from Covid-19 in 2020; some 74,408 Americans ages 16 to 64 died of alcohol-related causes, while 74,075 individuals under 65 died of Covid. And the rate of increase for alcohol-related deaths in 2020 — 25 percent — outpaced the rate of increase of deaths from all causes, which was 16.6 percent ... Drug overdose deaths also reached record levels during the first year of the pandemic, with more than 100,000 Americans dying of overdoses during the 12-month period that ended in April 2021, a nearly 30 percent increase over the previous year." NYT: Alcohol-Related Deaths Spiked During the Pandemic, a Study Shows.
3. Wanna Getaway?
"Ukraine accused Moscow on Thursday of forcibly taking hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered Ukrainian cities to Russia, where some may be used as 'hostages' to pressure Kyiv to give up. Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, have been taken against their will. The Kremlin has said that those who were relocated wanted to go to Russia." (This is how brazen the lies have become. Russia is kidnapping civilians and marketing it as Spring Break.)
+ "Putin was banking on Nato being split. From my conversations with him it was clear he didn't think it could sustain this cohesion. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he thought he was going to get when he went into Ukraine. Nato has never been more united than it is today." At a NATO meeting, Biden called for more sanctions and for members to maintain unity. The U.S. will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Zelensky asked for more weapons. Here's the latest from BBC.
+ Sergey Lavrov’s stepdaughter was sanctioned after her luxury london life was exposed. Her fortune was surfaced by Maria Pevchikh on Twitter. Her latest tweet-thread is on what sure seems to be Putin's Yacht. Have a look at this wonderful yacht called Scheherezade...
4. Control, Halt, Delete
"As you know from our recent conversations and presentations, I believe that Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations of the Penal Law in connection with the preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition. His financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, the national media, counterparties, and many others, including the American people. The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did." NYT(Gift Article): Trump Is Guilty of ‘Numerous’ Felonies, Prosecutor Who Resigned Says. "Mark F. Pomerantz, who had investigated the former president, left after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, halted an effort to seek an indictment." (It figures a guy named brag would side with Donald Trump.)
5. Extra, Extra
Oxford Drama: "Lapsus$ is relatively new but has become one of the most talked about and feared hacker cyber-crime gangs, after successfully breaching major firms like Microsoft and then bragging about it online." Its leader just got arrested in London. He's a 16-year-old from Oxford .
+ Your Mileage May Differ: "The two stations, one Shell and one BP, are suing the station of a local grocery chain called Woodman’s. In the suit, the stations allege that Woodman’s prices violate Wisconsins’s Unfair Sales Act. This law prohibits companies from selling goods below cost." Two Gas Stations Sue Their Competitor Because Its Prices Are Too Low.
+ Great Scott: "The philanthropist announced new donations to Ukraine aid and Planned Parenthood, and said she would soon debut a database of all her giving." It's gonna have to be a pretty big database. NYT: $12 Billion to 1,257 Groups: MacKenzie Scott’s Donations So Far.
+ Photo Finish: "Steve Wilhite and his wife, Kathaleen Wilhite, had just purchased a new truck and camper in hopes of camping at some of their favorite spots in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan when everything suddenly changed. On March 1, Steve Wilhite ... contracted COVID-19. He died a couple weeks later." You may not know the name. You know his work. Steve Wilhite created the GIF.
6. Bottom of the News
There's a new trend in publishing. Using the effing eff word in your effing title to sell more effing books to the ungrateful effs who get your daily newsletter for free. (OK, that got more personal than I had intended.) Take a look at all these covers.
+ Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon is going to perform a DJ set at Lollapalooza. (In this market, he probably needs the side-gig.)