By Jeff Childers
Good morning C&C, it’s Monday, a fresh new week! Your oversized roundup today includes: Musk cancels deadbeat corporate media blue checks; OPEC cuts production to punish us for Joe Biden’s broken promise; Florida Senate passes teachers’ union-busting bill; low-cost fast food giant announces corporate layoffs; Cracker Barrel joins Wal-Mart and Nike to bail out of crumbing Portland, Or.; WSJ opines Biden will bail out blue states and cities; Florida judge gets sudden and unexpected death penalty; China and Brazil drop the dollar; Utah outlaws abortion clinics; major election player resigns after OMG scrutiny; and your manic Monday entertainment clip.
🗞💬 *WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 💬🗞
🔥 The worm is turning, or something. MediaIte ran a delicious story yesterday headlined, “Elon Musk Makes His First Big Strike in the Great Blue Check Purge, Pulls the NY Times’ Badge: ‘Their Propaganda Isn’t Even Interesting’.”
The “blue check” is the little colored circle with the blue check mark that appears right after folks’ names on Twitter. Pre-Musk, Twitter called it a “verification” mark, and while anyone could apply to receive it, not everyone got one. But every corporate media account and reporter, every Democrat politician, every government-aligned covid expert, and nearly every celebrity received one of the highly-desired “blue checks.”
Blue-checked accounts enjoyed special Twitter privileges; their posts were more prominent (so their accounts grew faster), were immune to shadow-ban penalties for being blocked, and so forth. The blue check was free — or more accurately, government-subsidized — a special benefit bestowed by Twitter on what it deemed “relevant” accounts, supposedly measured by the numbers of right-thinking followers.
But conservatives couldn’t get a blue check, no matter how many followers they had, or how influential they were. Even after Twitter’s algorithm marked me as a “social media influencer” for having enough followers, they still denied my application. The liberal bot army often mocked us for lacking the little badges in scoffing posts like, “this guy doesn’t even have a blue check,” or “no blue check!”
One of the first things Musk did after buying Twitter — right after most major advertisers pulled their contracts to protest “disinformation” — was to sell blue checks on the open market to anyone for $7 a month. The subscription includes a few other perks, like fewer ads, the ability to edit tweets for 30 minutes after posting, and so forth.
But liberals were madder than sprayed hornets because blue checks are SUPPOSED to only be for “good people.”
Musk’s rationale for the policy change was one, Twitter needed the money, and two, a credit card was enough proof of identity to satisfy “verification” as well as anything else. I bought a blue check the first day it was offered, easily calculating that since I use Twitter daily and get a ton of value out of it, fair’s fair.
So far, so good. But that left the problem of legacy blue checks, who refused to pay for their treasured badges. What would happen to THEM? Nearly every liberal blue checker, proud of their “awarded” mark of approval, pledged they would never give in to extortion from the awful billionaire who moved his car factory from California to Texas.
They don’t want to give up their blue check marks, no. They haven’t refused to be associated with the little blots of pixels. They still WANT the blue check. It’s a status icon to them, a confirmation of their rightful place in the world. To them (and nobody else) it means they officially aren’t “misinformers,” because they are “approved sources.”
For example, CNN reported yesterday that the Washington Post announced it “will not pay for Twitter Blue service as an institution or on behalf of our journalists” because “it’s evident that verified checkmarks no longer represent authority and expertise.”
Haha, sure, “authority and expertise,” as decided by the unaccountable spooks pretending to work at the old Twitter before Elon Musk laid off 80% of the company, after which it ran even better.
After all, these folks feel like they EARNED their free blue checks, not like dumb conservative hicks who have to pay. And in a way, they are right. They DID “earn” their cute little check marks — performatively. The liberal blue checks virtue-signaled their deserving reward, they played the game, they followed the rules.
True, the “rules” were invisible, unstated, completely unfair, one-sided, changed faster than in Calvin-ball, and at the end of the day were repugnant to any thoughtful person. It was really more like a club.
And now they’re letting ANYBODY in.
So recently Musk announced a soft deadline for people to either pay up or lose their treasured check marks, provoking hatred and angst from legacy check mark holders. Corporate media accounts cost $1,000 a month plus $50 for ‘affiliates’ (think reporters).
Yesterday Musk followed through on repossessing a blue check, on a single account: the New York Times:
Who else thinks it’s INSANE that Elon Musk took away @nytimes’ blue check verification because they refuse to pay him for a subscription? This renders the blue check MEANINGLESS.
1:37 PM ∙ Apr 2, 20233,475Likes720Retweets
I fully understand the problematic bits about the brain chips and everything, but this is the kind of thing that makes me enjoy Elon Musk so much. It’s a guilty pleasure, but folks are already responding to New York Times’ posts with sarcastic skepticism:
@nytimes Not sure if I should believe this unverified account.9:03 AM ∙ Apr 3, 2023
This silly blue check story somehow illustrates the swing of reality’s pendulum’s back toward sanity. The way blue checks used to work was completely bonkers, a dystopian Alice-in-Wonderland game where the house always won, and a few hours on Twitter always felt a shift in the insane asylum. After putting in a tough day on Twitter, you’d have to take a minute or two to decompress and quietly confirm your own sanity.
Musk — who seems to be making sure he gets his money’s worth — is disrupting the existing order. In a bigger sense, by down-regulating corporate media’s influence, Musk is also pushing back against the outsized significance of Twitter in public life. It’s a long-overdue correction, and you can trace the entire thing back to one illiterate California state official’s stubborn refusal to be reasonable about pandemic restrictions.
In other words, it’s another covid miracle.
🔥 The AP ran a story yesterday headlined, “Saudis, Other Oil Giants Announce Surprise Production Cuts.” In other words, get ready.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, which Joe Biden just drove into the arms of the Russia-China axis, announced surprise production cuts totaling up to 1.6 million barrels per day for the rest of the year, a move that the AP drily noted “could raise prices worldwide.”
It could, maybe.
But don’t worry! Biden’s Energy Department has ALREADY calculated it will “only” be about $.33 per gallon. That was fast work, Energy Department. Anyway, whew. You can take that figure to the bank. Well, you’d better check and make sure the bank isn’t going under first.
But it’s not just the Saudis. Other cutters include Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Algeria, and Oman. Oh, haha, I forgot one — Russia. Russia will also cut 500,000 gallons of production this year.
In other words, Russia and Saudi Arabia are already working together.
When the Saudis announced previous cuts back in October — before the midterm elections — goofy Joe Biden promised there would be “consequences,” and democrats called for sanctions against the Saudis. So much for that. The current surprise action from OPEC is retaliation for another broken Biden promise, according to the Financial Times:
Although price recently fell below $80 a barrel, Joe mumbled we WON’T refill the depleted Strategic Reserve like he’d promised, for some reason. So OPEC naturally responded. What did he THINK they were going to do?
Thanks Joe Biden! Hey, what do you want, we’re in the middle of World War III (fifth generation edition).
🔥 In good news, Florida’s Voice News ran a story late last week headlined, “Senate Passes Bill Ending Automatic Teachers Union Deductions.”
Under the bill, which narrowly passed the Senate 23-17, requires unions to:
- have annual audits
- stop automatically deducting union dues
- disclose to members the top-five highest-paid union employees and salaries
- revoke membership immediately upon request
- respect “right to work”, making it illegal to require union membership for employment
- be re-certified anytime membership drops below 60% of eligible employees
In 2021, I circulated a proposed bill that would have done many of these same things plus allowed for competing teachers’ unions to be formed in each district. This bill is almost as good, better in some ways, and both my earlier bill as well as this one directly respond to the havoc and destruction wreaked by teachers’ unions during the pandemic.
Some pro-union Republicans who opposed the bill say it is ‘really’ intended to bust up the unions altogether. Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota (a CPA), said annual audits would be unaffordable for smaller unions and “tells me that the only intent of the bill is to kill off the unions here in Florida, and I cannot vote yes.”
That sounds like a reason to vote FOR the bill, not against it. Two years ago I told everyone who’d listen that, sooner or later, the day would come when the bill for covid overreach would come due. Time to pay up.
A companion bill in the House has passed one committee and is working its way through the system. I’ll keep you posted.
🔥 In a salty report on the Biden economy, CNBC ran a story yesterday headlined, “McDonald’s Reportedly Temporarily Shuts Its U.S. Offices and Prepares Layoff Notices.”
In an internal email last week to U.S. employees and some international staff, McDonald’s unexpectedly asked its corporate staff to work remotely through Wednesday, so it can virtually deliver pink slips. In other words, some of them won’t need to come back to the office, ever.
McDonald’s also asked its corporate team to abruptly cancel all in-person meetings with vendors and other outside parties. It’s not too good for the Biden economy. Low-cost fast-food providers usually do well in a traditional economic downturn. It takes a very deep recession to get folks to stop eating out altogether.
It is “unclear” how many McDonald’s employees will be laid off, but we’ll find out shortly.
🔥 Fox Business ran a fleeting story late last week headlined, “Cracker Barrel Becomes Latest Company to Flee Portland Amid Rising Crime, Retail Theft.” The sub-headline added, “Walmart announced earlier this month it is closing all of its Portland, Oregon, locations.”
The politically-correct breakfast giant generally blamed the pandemic for its surprising decision that was effective immediately. A corporate statement explained, “[W]e are saddened that we have been unable to overcome the impact the pandemic had on our business and have made the difficult decision to close the Beaverton, Tualatin, and Bend locations on March 20. The decision to close a store is never one we take lightly, and our focus right now is in assisting our impacted employees during this transition.”
Another one bites woke Portland’s crime-ridden dust.
Fox Business asked Cracker Barrel to explain what EXACTLY about the pandemic forced closing the Portland restaurants, but corporate officials carefully declined to provide any specifics, saying only that the Portland stores were financially under-performing.
For some reason.
In recent months, Wal-Mart and Nike also shuttered their Portland locations after record shoplifting and petty crime. Not to mention dangerous environments for employees. So.
Eventually these rapidly-dissolving woke cities will need someone smarter or stronger to take over.
🔥 The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed this weekend with the self-obvious headline, “The Coming Biden Bailout of Blue States and Cities.” The subheadline explained, “Taxpayers will be on the hook for mismanaged pensions and projects from stadiums to subways.”
As one example, the article cites San Francisco’s latest boondoggle: a mega-expensive subway system that requires more walking than riding:
Take San Francisco’s 1.7-mile Central Subway, which opened in January at a cost of $1.95 billion, three times as much as initially estimated. The subway is drawing fewer than 3,000 daily riders, no doubt because the design doesn’t make sense: Riders have to walk the equivalent of three football fields to connect to other transit lines and take three escalators to reach platforms 12 stories underground.
That’s a cost of $666K per rider for the first year. I didn’t make that up, you do the math.
Now that the Federal Reserve is jacking interest rates to fight out-of-control inflation — obvious to everyone except hardened democrats — borrowing money through bonds or commercial loans just got a lot more expensive. In fact, borrowing is now TOO expensive for many state and local governments who’ve been on spending sprees to manage.
In addition to liberally-designed subways, there is the problem of super-generous but unfunded pension commitments, like Chicago’s four different pension systems, which only have enough assets to cover about 25% of what the city owes workers and retirees — even less than Detroit’s pension fund reserve back when the Motor City declared bankruptcy a decade ago.
Unlike cities, states are not allowed to file bankruptcy.
The op-ed’s author Allysia Finley easily predicted that Biden will have to bail out broke democrat cities and states, because they are too big to fail. It will be challenging though, what with a Republican-controlled House, which holds the pin code to the nation’s bank account.
💉 The Tallahassee Democrat ran a story last week headlined, “‘A Legal Giant’: North Florida Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll Dies.”
Florida Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll, 67, described by colleagues as a well-tempered “legal giant” who spent more than a decade on the bench, died suddenly and unexpectedly of “apparent natural causes” on Wednesday. But was the judge’s sudden and unexpected death penalty just?
Lawyers in the Second Circuit said they were “stunned and saddened” at the news. No further information about the judge’s cause of death are available, and never will be.
🔥 Over the weekend, media reported on a new agreement between China and Brazil — the second-largest economy in the southern Western Hemisphere — where the two countries agreed to deal with each other in their own currencies, and NOT the dollar. Yesterday, Marco Rubio noted “we won’t have to talk about sanctions in five years because there’ll be so many countries transacting in currencies other than the dollar that we won’t have the ability to sanction them.”
Brazil and China are liberating themselves from the US dollar. This means not paying the cost for US inflation, and also reducing vulnerability to US sanctions.
4:45 AM ∙ Apr 3, 20231,577Likes537Retweets
Is it possible to over-sanction the rest of the world? I guess we’re about to find out.
🔥 Gateway Pundit ran a story last week headlined, “Utah Governor Signs Law Banning Abortion Clinics From the State.”
The bill completely bans all abortion clinics starting in January 2024 (but allows medically-necessary abortions to be performed in hospitals). It also criminalizes anyone other than doctors licensed in Utah to prescribe abortion pills, outlaws abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy from rape or incest, and allows doctors who unlawfully abort unborn babies to be disciplined for unprofessional conduct .
Here’s a thought experiment: Could this have happened absent the pandemic?
🔥 James O’Keefe’s OMG media group is already getting results. After last week’s debut with its ActBlue overdonations story, at least one key figure from the pandemic election mandates abruptly announced her resignation.
O’Keefe Media Group @OKeefeMedia
BREAKING: The top Election Administrator in Maryland Linda Lamone has resigned the day after declining to comment on an OMG News investigation
9:52 PM ∙ Mar 29, 202329,087Likes9,070Retweets
Maryland’s Elections Administrator Linda Lamone was instrumental in setting up the so-called ERIC system, a national electronic voter-roll database that North Carolina and two other states recently banned due to questions about its bona fides.
Immediately after receiving a call from an OMG reporter for comment on the developing ActBlue story, Lamone announced she’s resigning. To spend more time with family or something.
Progress! And, nifty work by the OMG team.
🔥 Finally, to start you off right, here’s a darkly-funny side-by-side comparison of the nation’s two-tiered justice system that will give you a rueful chuckle:
Preston Parra @ThePrestonParra
Guess which side the media is on!
4:30 PM ∙ Apr 2, 202393Likes49Retweets
Have a marvelous Monday! I’ll see you guys back here tomorrow for even more.
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© 2022, Jeff Childers, all rights reserved
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.