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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#19021 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-October-20, 08:50

Perhaps the Dems are doing just fine, as Jonathan Bernstein maintains. Go for 1.9 trillion. Sure.

I have mentioned before we got our roof redone a few years back. The starting price was 45 thou, but they would do it for 40K if I signed today. After a few hours later we signed for something like 13K. I had negotiated with a different company a couple of days earlier and gave up in despair. Talking with the second company I said, after an hour or two, something like "I guess this is how things are done in the roofing business and I just have to cope."

So fine. The Ds can say that they brilliantly got 1.9, or maybe it will be 1.7 or 1.4, by starting with 3.5.

And they say that people have become cynical toward politicians. Can't imagine why.
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#19022 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-October-20, 16:50

View Postkenberg, on 2021-October-20, 08:50, said:

So fine. The Ds can say that they brilliantly got 1.9, or maybe it will be 1.7 or 1.4, by starting with 3.5.


And if you add in the additional $1(was $1.5?) trillion from the bipartisan bill, that adds up to real money to paraphrase Everett Dirksen. Compare that to the $0.00 infrastructure bill passed during one of Trump's many infrastructure weeks/months/years and it still adds up to real money. And assuming these 2 bills pass, the Democrats can campaign against all the Republicans who voted against these bills in 2022 and 2024.
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#19023 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-October-21, 07:58

View Postjohnu, on 2021-October-20, 16:50, said:

And if you add in the additional $1(was $1.5?) trillion from the bipartisan bill, that adds up to real money to paraphrase Everett Dirksen. Compare that to the $0.00 infrastructure bill passed during one of Trump's many infrastructure weeks/months/years and it still adds up to real money. And assuming these 2 bills pass, the Democrats can campaign against all the Republicans who voted against these bills in 2022 and 2024.


Oh yes, I understand. And I think that many, probably not all, of the items are desirable. I am just fretting. There are some things I can't imagine myself doing. When I was 17 I sold women's cosmetics and such door to door. I took many and lengthy coffee breaks. And of course I gave it up. I think it is a preferable profession to being a politician. Ok, maybe not really. But you get the idea. It was obvious that 3.5 trillion was way over the top. So we put it forth anyway, spend a lot of time bragging about it, then we cut it about half, and we brag about that. Proposals get debated and tweaked. I would not call this a tweak. Most people, including me, do not really know what was in the 3.5 version, nor what will be in the 1 point whatever version, and at least part of the reason is that nobody thought the 3.5 version was credible and so why bother studying a fiction. There are reasons why people do not like door to door salesmen. Same for politicians.

I wish Biden well, don't get me wrong. I'll take a look at the short version when they all settle into something. I'm not up for debating the merits of something that won't happen. i might or might not go canoeing on a lake. I will not be discussing the merits of a flight I might take into space.
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#19024 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-October-21, 14:27

Amrith Ramkumar at WSJ said:

Investors piled into shares of the special-purpose acquisition company taking former President Donald Trump’s new social-media platform public on Thursday, igniting a buying frenzy reminiscent of the SPAC craze from early this year.

Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. more than quadrupled to $44 in afternoon trading in the first trading session following the deal announcement. Trump Media & Technology Group said late Wednesday it would combine with the SPAC and soon launch a new social network called Truth Social. The deal values the Trump media company at about $875 million, including debt.

The unveiling of the new company comes after Mr. Trump’s access to several social-media platforms including Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. was restricted following the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. He held discussions with a number of different platforms throughout the year to find a new online megaphone. Mr. Trump had nearly 89 million followers on Twitter.

Digital World Acquisition and its stock ticker, DWAC, were trending on some social-media platforms Thursday with traders rushing to buy the shares.

Such sharp share-price increases for companies going public with SPACs were common early this year, when such stocks were popular among day traders. The big gains have become less common in recent months with many companies that go public this way struggling to meet their growth targets.

Also called a blank-check company, a SPAC such as Digital World Acquisition is a shell company that raises money and trades on a stock exchange to merge with a private firm like Mr. Trump’s and take it public. The private company then replaces the SPAC in the stock market. SPAC mergers have become popular alternatives to traditional initial public offerings, especially for startups that can make business projections. Those aren’t allowed in typical IPOs.

Still, many stocks that soared after deals were announced or even completed have since tumbled, sticking individual investors with losses while many company insiders are protected through unique incentives.

https://www.wsj.com/...d=hp_lead_pos13


Matt Levine at Bloomberg said:

Donald Trump is a very famous person who likes to talk and who has a lot of enthusiastic fans. If he started a television channel that consisted of him talking about whatever for two hours every afternoon, surrounded by 22 hours of other people talking about how great he is, it would probably get a lot of viewers and could carry a lot of ads for pillows or whatever. But this would probably involve a certain amount of work and competence — you’d have to hire people to point the cameras at him and negotiate cable carriage and ad deals — and television is expensive; there would be some real financial risk to it.

Or he could start a social media company for his fans, where he could send out his thoughts without being banned. I am not going to pretend to make a business case for that one — there is a long history of hilarious failure in the “social media for Trump” category — but maybe you can. It is not a sure thing, in any case. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t. When Twitter Inc. went public it had never been profitable and it was, you know, a real social network that people used. Maybe Twitter But Trump would immediately be profitable but boy I have some doubts.

On the other hand if Donald Trump launched a company that was like “I am going to start a social media platform for Trump fans,” could he get people to buy the stock? I think that two fundamental lessons of the last few years are:

1. You can get people to buy any stock; and
2. Donald Trump can get people to buy anything.

So if Donald Trump announced “hey I’m gonna do a social media company, buy some stock,” people would buy some stock. And then he’d get a lot of money.[1] And then if the social media platform did not end up being profitable — as I cannot imagine it would be! — then he would, uh, still have that money? And if the social media platform did not end up being launched — if Trump and his crack team of technologists just couldn’t actually build a well-functioning online social network — then he would, uh, still have that money? And if there was no crack team of technologists at all, if nobody even tried to build the social media platform — then you see where I am going with this right?

The point is that if you launch a company with the goal of making it profitable, you have to, like, have a workable business plan and execute on it and deal with a million different operational complexities. If you launch a company with the goal of selling a lot of stock, you have to get people to trust you and give you their money. There is some overlap between those things! But they are different things!

Now, there are some difficulties with doing an initial public offering that is like “we’re gonna build a beautiful social network, trust me.” But a third important lesson of the last few years is:

3. SPACs!

If you go public by merging your private company with a special purpose acquisition company, then you can just make up whatever you want and no one will check. No, I’m kidding, that is very much not the law! But it is maybe a little bit the law? In particular, there is a view that pre-revenue private companies can go public via SPAC merger and market themselves to investors using wildly optimistic projections of their future revenue, and that if those projections do not come true they won’t get in trouble. Again, this is not quite true — talk to your lawyer before trying this! — but there is an element of truth to it. If you are in the business of raising money to fund a social media company that you haven’t built yet and perhaps never will, the SPAC format has a real appeal.

Anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway:

PALM BEACH, FL -- October 20, 2021 -- Trump Media & Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: DWAC) have entered into a definitive merger agreement, providing for a business combination that will result in Trump Media & Technology Group becoming a publicly listed company, subject to regulatory and stockholder approval. The transaction values Trump Media & Technology Group at an initial enterprise value of $875 Million, with a potential additional earnout of $825 Million in additional shares (at the valuation they are granted) for a cumulative valuation of up to $1.7 Billion depending on the performance of the stock price post-business combination. Trump Media & Technology Group’s growth plans initially will be funded by DWAC’s cash in trust of $293 Million (assuming no redemptions).

Trump Media & Technology Group's mission is to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the "Big Tech” companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.

Trump Media & Technology Group (“TMTG”) will soon be launching a social network, named "TRUTH Social." TRUTH Social is now available for Pre-Order in the Apple App store. TRUTH Social plans to begin its Beta Launch for invited guests in November 2021. A nationwide rollout is expected in the first quarter of 2022. Those who are interested in joining TRUTH Social may now visit www.truthsocial.com to sign up for the invite list.

President Donald J. Trump, the Chairman of TMTG, stated, “I created TRUTH Social and TMTG to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech. We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable. I am excited to send out my first TRUTH on TRUTH Social very soon. TMTG was founded with a mission to give a voice to all. I'm excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH Social and to fight back against Big Tech. Everyone asks me why doesn’t someone stand up to Big Tech? Well, we will be soon!”

Well. That's a real press release filed with the real Securities and Exchange Commission by Digital World Acquisition Corp., which is a real SPAC insofar as a SPAC can be real. It has $293 million in its trust. Traditionally SPAC deals are often announced with PIPEs, private investments in public equity, in which institutional or strategic investors commit hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money alongside the SPAC investment. Here, there is no PIPE; no institutional investors seem to be involved. Trump Very Tech Company Group is raising its money only from public investors in the SPAC.

Ordinarily that would be risky: The SPAC investors have withdrawal rights — they can take back $10 per share in cash instead of leaving it in the pot for the merger — so the company might not get any money. Here, it is not risky. The reason it is not risky is that people who like Trump will buy the stock. (Also: People who think “people who like Trump will buy the stock” will buy the stock; the Keynesian beauty contest applies here too.) Yesterday, before this announcement, DWAC’s stock closed at $9.96, a bit below the $10 per share that it has in its trust, sort of a standard price for a SPAC with no deal yet. At 11 a.m. today it was trading at about $19.38, implying a valuation for Trump Thing of something like $1.7 billion.[2] If you think Trump Thing is worth $19.38 per share, you are not going to take your $10 back; you’re going to keep the stock and let Trump have your $10.[3] He will definitely get all $293 million.

Why would you think Trump Thing, a company with no product and no revenue, is worth $1.7 billion? Are you looking at the wildly optimistic projections of future revenue in the investor presentation? No you certainly are not! The initial SEC filing doesn’t include an investor presentation, but there is a “Company Overview” deck on Trump Thing’s website, and, fun fact, there is not a single dollar sign in the whole deck. There is no financial analysis, no sources and uses of funds for the deal, no capital structure, and certainly no projections of future revenue

Dorothy said:

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#19025 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-October-21, 15:02

The person that you have quoted is paraphrasing the plot of a very old film called "the Producers" - made first with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.
It featured the song and dance number "Springtime for Hitler" and the catchphrase "Be a smarty join the NAZI party."


What these people did not realise was that they were making an instruction manual for Donald Trump.
That's what you get when you show a comedy to people with no sense of humour.


It's hard to satirise things that are completely ridiculous. I suppose that's why Sarah Cooper was so successful.
She simply let him say his own words.




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#19026 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-October-21, 15:27

View Postkenberg, on 2021-October-21, 07:58, said:

It was obvious that 3.5 trillion was way over the top. So we put it forth anyway, spend a lot of time bragging about it, then we cut it about half, and we brag about that. Proposals get debated and tweaked. I would not call this a tweak. Most people, including me, do not really know what was in the 3.5 version, nor what will be in the 1 point whatever version, and at least part of the reason is that nobody thought the 3.5 version was credible and so why bother studying a fiction. There are reasons why people do not like door to door salesmen. Same for politicians.


If Manchin and Sinema had agreed on the 3.5 trillion, the bill would have been passed months ago and nobody would be having a conversion about the bill. Manchin after all these months has finally come out with a relatively clear objection to the bill, how much he thinks the bill should cost, and what he is and isn't for. I don't think anybody knows what Sinema thinks because she refuses to engage in meaningful conversations with other Democrats. If Manchin and Sinema were negotiating in good faith, a compromise plan could have been already passed.

As far as 3.5 trillion being way over the top, that is 3.5 trillion over 10 years, or 350 billion a year. For 2021, the US budget includes 303 billion a year for interest payments, 1.036 trillion on defense, 287 billion on education, and this doesn't include the bulk of spending on fixed expense costs like Social Security, Medicare, pensions, welfare. The total US spending is 10.4 trillion in 2021. So 350 billion a year for this package is a 3.3% increase in the budget. And much/most of the bill is an investment in America that should/could be repaid by more productivity and future savings.

Pie chart of US Budget
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#19027 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-October-21, 15:32

View Posty66, on 2021-October-21, 14:27, said:

Trump stock grift


More proof that Trump is the greatest grifter in the history of the world in case anybody had their doubts.
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#19028 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 05:52

Michelle Goldberg at NYT said:

https://www.nytimes....896ed87b2d9c72a

The climax of Kati Marton’s captivating new biography of Angela Merkel, “The Chancellor,” comes in 2015, when the German leader refused to close her country’s borders to a tide of refugees fleeing civil war and state collapse in the Middle East and Africa.

“If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for,” Merkel said, calling on the other members of the European Union to take in more people as well. “I don’t want to get into a competition in Europe of who can treat these people the worst.” For the usually stolid and cautious chancellor, it was a great political leap, a sudden act of moral heroism that would define her legacy.

By the end of the year, a million refugees had come. Many observers predicted disaster. According to Marton, Henry Kissinger, ever callous, told Merkel, “To shelter one refugee is a humanitarian act, but to allow one million strangers in is to endanger German civilization.” Marton quotes my colleague Ross Douthat writing that anyone who believes that Germany can “peacefully absorb a migration of that size and scale of cultural difference” is a “fool.” She describes former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s fear that the refugees would be Merkel’s “political undoing.”

For a while, it seemed like some of this pessimism was warranted. Douthat’s column was inspired by a hideous outburst of violence in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, in which a mob of largely Middle Eastern and North African men sexually assaulted scores of women. The refugee influx fueled the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, known as the AfD, which in 2017 won 94 seats to become the largest opposition party in Parliament. Some blamed Merkel’s policy for spooking Brits into supporting Brexit. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump seized on it. Though Merkel retained the chancellorship after the 2017 elections, her party, the Christian Democratic Union, lost 65 seats.

But six years later, the catastrophes predicted by Merkel’s critics haven’t come to pass.

In the recent German election, refugees were barely an issue, and the AfD lost ground. “The sense is that there has been comparatively little Islamic extremism or extremist crime resulting from this immigration, and that on the whole, the largest number of these immigrants have been successfully integrated into the German work force and into German society overall,” said Constanze Stelzenmüller, an expert on Germany and trans-Atlantic relations at the Brookings Institution.

“With the passage of time,” Marton told me, Merkel “turned out to have chosen the absolutely right course for not only Germany but for the world.”

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#19029 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 07:55

A morning amusement:
Apparently three Maryland counties wish to secede from Maryland and join West Virginia.
https://www.washingt...-west-virginia/

ok, it's a publicity stunt.

But I have a question:

West Virginia came about during the Civil War. Virginia seceded from the US, and then a portion of Virginia seceded from Virginia and became West Virginia (and stayed in the US). Have there been other instances of such double secession? I realize that there were British colonies in North America, Nova Scotia for example, that did not join the 13 colonies that seceded. But I don't think that counts for what I have in mind. Some colonies seceded, some didn't, but they were at the time individual colonies so this was just different colonies making different choices. Virginia was a state, it seceded, and what became West Virginia was a portion of that state, and it seceded from Virginia. I am trying to think of other instances of such a thing.

Yes, I realize this is not a crucial issue.
Ken
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#19030 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 09:31

Heather Cox Richardson said:

Last night, the “Trump Media and Technology Group” (TMTG) issued a press release announcing the creation of a “rival to the liberal media consortium” which would “fight back against the “Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America.” The new social media site was called “Truth Social,” and his team advertised it as the first piece of a media empire that would take its place beside the leaders in the field. Rather than a “tweet,” a statement on the new site would be a “truth,” and the terms of service prohibited criticism of the former president.

Within hours the site had been hacked. Then it crashed. It also appears to have been built on open-source software whose developer warned that the Trump social media network might have violated the software company’s licensing rules.

Watching Trump’s flailing attempts to create his own media corporation—this is his second attempt—highlights that since 1980, the project of the Republican faction that is now in control of the party has been to take things apart rather than to build them. They have focused on dismantling the government and stopping legislation. It has been a negative project, rather than a positive one, and breaking things takes little of the hard work and creativity that it takes to build things.

When those accustomed to breaking things try to build them, they seem to have little idea of how much work it actually takes. They seem to think that actual accomplishments are there for the taking, and that splashy announcements and dramatic actions can solve intricate problems.

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#19031 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 15:19

View Postkenberg, on 2021-October-22, 07:55, said:

A morning amusement:
Apparently three Maryland counties wish to secede from Maryland and join West Virginia.
https://www.washingt...-west-virginia/

ok, it's a publicity stunt.

But I have a question:

West Virginia came about during the Civil War. Virginia seceded from the US, and then a portion of Virginia seceded from Virginia and became West Virginia (and stayed in the US). Have there been other instances of such double secession? I realize that there were British colonies in North America, Nova Scotia for example, that did not join the 13 colonies that seceded. But I don't think that counts for what I have in mind. Some colonies seceded, some didn't, but they were at the time individual colonies so this was just different colonies making different choices. Virginia was a state, it seceded, and what became West Virginia was a portion of that state, and it seceded from Virginia. I am trying to think of other instances of such a thing.

Yes, I realize this is not a crucial issue.

Would they call themselves "Vermin" or "Marginalia"?
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#19032 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 15:35

View Postpilowsky, on 2021-October-22, 15:19, said:

Would they call themselves "Vermin" or "Marginalia"?


How about Marviricks?
Ken
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#19033 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 15:56

From the newsletter of world traveler and owner of Rick Steve Tours, Rick Steves:

Quote

This is already my second trip abroad during COVID, and I continue to be impressed by how effectively Europe is dealing with the pandemic: Vaccination rates are high, and in many countries (including Italy) proof of vaccination is required to dine inside or tour a museum. Masking is simply automatic, anytime anyone goes indoors. These precautions are treated with a no-fuss, no-muss practicality; they are simply routine. And there's a general sense of getting on with life, while making small and reasonable adjustments to everyday behavior to reduce risk to yourself and others.


I wonder what the U.S. looks like from the outside looking in.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#19034 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 16:08

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-October-22, 15:56, said:

I wonder what the U.S. looks like from the outside looking in.

An overprivileged child, akin to Joffrey Baratheon.
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#19035 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-October-22, 17:22

That's easy.
Google Northern Territory Chief Minister's response to Cancun Cruz' stupid tweet.
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#19036 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-October-23, 01:43

View PostGilithin, on 2021-October-22, 16:08, said:

An overprivileged child, akin to Joffrey Baratheon.


Combined with Augustus Gloop ?
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#19037 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2021-October-23, 03:31

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-October-22, 15:56, said:

I wonder what the U.S. looks like from the outside looking in.


Every country has its crazies -- here in Switzerland we are about to have a referendum on the Covid certificate restrictions and we get literature in the mail from the anti-vaccine people (however, the restrictions have over 60% support in the latest polls). I think the difference is that in many parts of the US, the crazies seem to be in charge! I know the insanity of the Texas governor was a point against traveling to the Austin NABC for several people we talked to here.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#19038 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-October-23, 04:18

View Postawm, on 2021-October-23, 03:31, said:

Every country has its crazies -- here in Switzerland we are about to have a referendum on the Covid certificate restrictions and we get literature in the mail from the anti-vaccine people (however, the restrictions have over 60% support in the latest polls). I think the difference is that in many parts of the US, the crazies seem to be in charge! I know the insanity of the Texas governor was a point against traveling to the Austin NABC for several people we talked to here.


I think this is a key point.
The proportion of crazies is the same but in the USA the total number is so high that when they are crazier than usual really bad things happen.
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#19039 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-October-23, 08:34

View Postawm, on 2021-October-23, 03:31, said:

Every country has its crazies -- here in Switzerland we are about to have a referendum on the Covid certificate restrictions and we get literature in the mail from the anti-vaccine people (however, the restrictions have over 60% support in the latest polls). I think the difference is that in many parts of the US, the crazies seem to be in charge! I know the insanity of the Texas governor was a point against traveling to the Austin NABC for several people we talked to here.

Maybe it’s because in so many areas of the U.S. the minority is in charge
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#19040 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-October-23, 09:54

Happy to see WCers making a distinction between "the U.S." and "parts of the U.S.".

In Portland, Oregon you can see "Dune" in theaters like this one where

  • staff are vaccinated
  • patrons must show proof of having been vaccinated
  • patrons must wear masks when not eating or drinking
  • ventilation system has been upgraded to include ionization and HEPA filters.
  • a one seat buffer between groups is maintained

“The highest function of ecology is understanding consequences.”
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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  1. kenberg