Elon Musk’s mouth

Twitter

I said that Elon Musk had yet to meet his comeuppance.[1] That might be about to change (quoting at length):

Elon now has a fine mess on his hands, and he’s not going to be able to easily extract himself from it anytime soon, unless, say, he agrees to pay some sum—oh, I don’t know, perhaps $5 billion—that few people have on their Bingo cards. That prediction, pulled out of thin air, is obviously more than the $1 billion walk-away fee that no longer seems viable, or in play legally, but less than what Elon might have to pay per a court order, should he be required to close the deal as he agreed to do on April 25. It’s the kind of number that might get this sad dispute resolved outside of court more quickly.

My friend Scott Galloway suggested with merit on Pivot the other day that Elon will have to pay something more like $16 billion, the difference between the $44 billion he agreed to pay for Twitter and Twitter’s market value after the judgment in Delaware court goes against Elon, if it does, of course. (As a proxy for what that might be, I used Twitter’s roughly $28 billion market value these days.) Whatever the case may be, as I have written before, Elon is now operating from a position of weakness. He has signed a “seller friendly” merger agreement, and his buyer’s remorse over the alleged preponderance of bots on Twitter’s platform seems thin, despite what his lawyers wrote in a Friday filing that “false and spam accounts” are “fundamental to Twitter’s value.”

Indeed, the depths of Elon’s legal troubles are clearly laid out in the complaint that Twitter’s attorneys at Wachtell Lipton and Potter Anderson & Corroon filed on July 12 in the Delaware Court of Chancery against Elon and the two holding companies he set up to acquire Twitter. Elon and his attorneys at Skadden and at Quinn Emanuel will have the opportunity to rebuke the Twitter filing, of course, which they started to do on Friday by rejecting Twitter’s request for a speedy trial. But in the meantime, the new allegations—including heretofore private emails and letters—about Elon’s behavior since he signed the merger agreement on April 25 is both pretty revelatory and pretty damning.[2]

It’s not like this’d be the first time Musk’s mouth has gotten him in trouble.[3] But it really, really doesn’t look like Musk’s lawyers can get him out of this one. Musk will need to settle.[4]

William D. Cohan, “The Case Against Elon,” Puck News, July 17, 2022, https://puck.news/the-case-against-elon/


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Elon Musk’s Achilles’ heel,” Not Housebroken, July 15, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/07/10/elon-musks-achilles-heel/
  2. [2]William D. Cohan, “The Case Against Elon,” Puck News, July 17, 2022, https://puck.news/the-case-against-elon/
  3. [3]Niraj Chokshi and Eric A. Taub, “Elon Musk Is Cleared in Lawsuit Over His ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet,” New York Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/06/business/elon-musk-defamation-verdict.html; John C. Coffee, Jr., “How the SEC can be the babysitter Elon Musk needs,” Cable News Network, April 23, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/23/perspectives/tesla-elon-musk-sec/index.html; Tim Higgins, “Elon Musk Cleared by Jury in Defamation Case Over ‘Pedo’ Tweet,” Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-cleared-by-jury-in-defamation-case-over-pedo-tweet-11575678498; Russ Mitchell, “‘Free speech absolutist’ Elon Musk has a long history of opposing speech and transparency,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-04-20/news-analysis-what-does-elon-musk-know-about-free-speech-or-transparency-or-truth; Alistair Walsh, “Elon Musk won’t stop calling diver a pedophile,” Deutsche Welle, September 9, 2018, https://www.dw.com/en/elon-musk-wont-stop-calling-diver-a-pedophile/a-45372611; Li Zhou, “Elon Musk and the Thai cave rescue: a tale of good intentions and bad tweets,” Vox, July 18, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/7/18/17576302/elon-musk-thai-cave-rescue-submarine
  4. [4]William D. Cohan, “The Case Against Elon,” Puck News, July 17, 2022, https://puck.news/the-case-against-elon/

On the meaning of a fist bump

Systems of social organization

George Monbiot, “Enclaves of Democracy,” July 17, 2022, https://www.monbiot.com/2022/07/17/enclaves-of-democracy/


Nova Scotia

Ryan MacDonald and Stephen Wentzell, “Mi’kmaw officially recognized as Nova Scotia’s first language,” CTV, July 17, 2022, https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/mi-kmaw-officially-recognized-as-nova-scotia-s-first-language-1.5991298


Saudi Arabia

Early in my communication studies (my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree are in this field), I learned about the three A’s: language is abstract, arbitrary, and ambiguous. This is even more true for, ahem, “body language” (non-verbal communication).

It was the fist bump seen ’round the world—though diplomatic body-language experts and their newfound colleagues in the press saw it differently. Some reporters and commentators suggested that President Biden snubbed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when, on Friday, Biden climbed out of a car at a palace in Jeddah and proffered a closed fist rather than an open-palmed hand to shake. Others felt (correctly, in my view) that Biden had in fact offered MBS something more than a handshake: the fist bump, Fred Ryan, the publisher of the Washington Post, said, was “worse than a handshake—it was shameful,” projecting “intimacy and comfort.” Still others didn’t seem to see much of a difference. Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., a Post reporter, said it was important to note that however Biden greeted MBS, the latter got “what he’s longed for: a very public display of validation by the leader of the free world.”[1]

A lot of folks are projecting their own meanings of a fist bump onto Joe Biden and onto Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). I can tell you with perfect confidence that, even if it happens that any of them happen to be right, this is an egregious error. There are a few components to this communication: Biden, MBS, the Saudi Arabian state media that captured and relayed the image,[2] and a multi-faceted world as audience. Each may have their own interpretation of the gesture and it is a fundamental error in interpersonal communication—really, this is what that entire class (interpersonal communication) is really all about—to assume that any message has the same meaning for all concerned.

Oh, and by the way, there is no such thing as a “body-language expert.” It’s a pseudo-science, on par with astrology. On par, by the way, also, with handwriting analysis. You’ll be on as solid ground with a fortune teller.

The fist bump could indeed have been a relatively COVID-19 safe version of a handshake. It could indeed have been an attempt to be “cool”—think of Biden driving, or at least posing in, a sports car with sunglasses on early in his campaign (and yeah, that’s a topic in itself)—that conveys “intimacy and comfort.”[3] We don’t know. Let me say that again because more than a few people seem unclear on the concept: We don’t know.

As interpersonal communication, the significance of the gesture lies in what Biden and MBS each meant it to mean. We don’t really even know that. As a mass communication to the world, which may or may not have been intentional, it may have meant something else. We still don’t know.

So get the fuck over it, assholes. You don’t fucking know and you ought to be focusing on the substance of the meeting, including the human rights issues it raises, rather than on a thoroughly and hopelessly ambiguous gesture.

Jon Allsop, “Biden’s Saudi trip, Manchin’s power trip, and a missing climate link,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/biden_mbs_meeting_manchin_climate.php


  1. [1]Jon Allsop, “Biden’s Saudi trip, Manchin’s power trip, and a missing climate link,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/biden_mbs_meeting_manchin_climate.php
  2. [2]Jon Allsop, “Biden’s Saudi trip, Manchin’s power trip, and a missing climate link,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/biden_mbs_meeting_manchin_climate.php
  3. [3]Jon Allsop, “Biden’s Saudi trip, Manchin’s power trip, and a missing climate link,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 18, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/biden_mbs_meeting_manchin_climate.php

Joe Manchin, ‘stunningly,’ keeps on being Joe Manchin and the Democrats keep on being Democrats white Christian nationalist enablers (updated)

Apparently Greyhound is having trouble keeping enough bus drivers to keep their routes running.

I took a lady from the downtown Pittsburgh Greyhound station to New Jersey, really the far side of the Philadelphia metropolitan area, yesterday. She said Greyhound had missed the run she’d planned on and she was lacking confidence that a bus scheduled for 9:00 pm would actually run.

I can now confirm that Pennsylvania is lovely from the western edge of the state to the eastern. (At least along Interstate 76.)

A lot of drivers turn down these rides because they assume they’ll have to return empty, which is what I did (as it was, I didn’t get back home until nearly 4:00 am). That deadhead back is costly: My revenue (not counting Uber’s commission) for yesterday was over $400 but after expenses, I probably made less than $100. (I don’t calculate depreciation and I don’t even have a total for tolls on multiple turnpikes yet.)

Oh, and by the way, to give you an idea of the value of a hybrid, I made it there on the tank of gas I’d started the day with, finishing the trip with a little over 100 miles of estimated range remaining (I don’t like running below a quarter tank). I spent a little time searching for a Sunoco station there, and then gassed up again a few miles short of home (my usual Sunoco station isn’t open at even anything close to that hour).

Update, July 20, 2022: Total tolls on the trip exceeded $90. My calculations spread this amount over the now over 65,000 miles I have on that car, but the reality is that this trip, the third and final of the day, was, for all practical purposes, a wash. I made nothing.


Infrastructure

Joe Manchin has been playing this game pretty much since the 2020 election, but somehow it is, according to Tony Romm and Jeff Stein, “stunning.”[1]

The stunning setback late Thursday [July 14] came despite weeks of seemingly promising negotiations between [Chuck] Schumer and [Joe] Manchin in pursuit of a broader deal that would have delivered on the promises that secured Democrats control of both chambers of Congress and the White House in 2020. Without Manchin, the party cannot proceed in the narrowly divided Senate, since Democrats need all 50 votes in the caucus, plus Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote, to use the special process known as budget reconciliation to overcome Republicans’ expected filibuster.[2]

For the record, I am sick and tired of hearing about President Manchin. Apparently some folks haven’t noticed that West Virginia is not the United States and I am absolutely not interested in Democrats’ excuses for not getting anything done; these are offered far too consistently to be taken seriously, for the Democrats to be acknowledged as an actually governing party, even when they putatively control the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.

This[3] is, rather, further evidence of a Democratic Party determination not to win, but emphatically to lose elections (see especially voting rights,[4] in which passing a bill would at least keep Democrats in the game against the all but certainly forthcoming establishment of a white Christian nationalist regime[5]), so they can sit in opposition, a vantage point from which they can take potshots at Republicans without being expected to accomplish a damn thing.[6]

We may despise the Republicans. We must also despise the Democrats for what is inescapably their complicity with Republicans, inescapably their complicity with white Christian nationalists.[7]

Tony Romm and Jeff Stein, “Manchin says he won’t support new climate spending or tax hikes on wealthy,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/07/14/manchin-climate-tax-bbb/


  1. [1]Tony Romm and Jeff Stein, “Manchin says he won’t support new climate spending or tax hikes on wealthy,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/07/14/manchin-climate-tax-bbb/
  2. [2]Tony Romm and Jeff Stein, “Manchin says he won’t support new climate spending or tax hikes on wealthy,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/07/14/manchin-climate-tax-bbb/
  3. [3]Tony Romm and Jeff Stein, “Manchin says he won’t support new climate spending or tax hikes on wealthy,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/07/14/manchin-climate-tax-bbb/
  4. [4]Mike DeBonis, “Senate Republicans block voting rights bill, dealing blow to Democrats’ effort to overhaul election laws,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-brace-for-likely-defeat-of-voting-rights-push-due-to-gop-filibuster/2022/01/19/2f9a734c-792d-11ec-bf97-6eac6f77fba2_story.html; Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, “Sinema and Manchin confirm opposition to eliminating filibuster, likely dooming Democrats’ voting rights push,” Washington Post, January 13, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-set-to-visit-senate-democrats-in-a-final-improbable-pitch-for-voting-rights-action/2022/01/13/fde533b6-7475-11ec-8b0a-bcfab800c430_story.html; Matt Ford, “The Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill Is Dead,” New Republic, July 13, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/162974/democrats-voting-rights-bill-dead; Carrie Levine, “Why there’s even more pressure now on Congress to pass a voting rights bill,” Center for Public Integrity, July 9, 2021, https://publicintegrity.org/inside-publici/newsletters/watchdog-newsletter/why-theres-even-more-pressure-now-on-congress-to-pass-a-voting-rights-bill/; Sam Levine, “Voting rights advocates frustrated by ‘same-old, same-old’ meeting with White House,” Guardian, December 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/03/voting-rights-advocates-frustrated-meeting-white-house; Greg Sargent, “The damage done by Joe Manchin is likely to get much worse,” Washington Post, December 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/10/manchin-filibuster-protecting-our-democracy-act/; Greg Sargent, “Joe Manchin finally makes it plain: He is in favor of minority rule,” Washington Post, January 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/19/joe-manchin-filibuster-voting-rights-minority-rule/; Jewel Wicker, “Georgia activists warn Biden against a ‘photo-op’ visit that lacks voting rights plan,” Guardian, January 11, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/11/georgia-biden-harris-visit-voting-rights-bill
  5. [5]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, June 21, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/10/my-2024-forecast/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Democrats and contradiction,” Not Housebroken, July 2, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/18/democrats-and-contradiction/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “The Democrats as the danger within, enabling the Republicans,” Not Housebroken, July 1, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/06/14/the-democrats-as-the-danger-within-enabling-the-republicans/

No, neither Elon Musk nor his banks can easily get out of the deal to buy Twitter.

Yes, this is two issues in rapid succession. Maybe I should have held off on publishing that earlier issue a little longer. But hey, it’s the Irregular Bullshit. You were warned.


Twitter

It appears my assumption that the banks financing Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter can easily get out of that deal, thus undermining Musk’s ability to follow through,[1] was incorrect. Like Musk, they signed legally binding commitments.[2] Like Musk, though he seems not to give a damn,[3] they face reputational risks for reneging. And “[e]ven if they [the banks] do find a reason to get out of the deal — for example, by arguing Musk’s about-face has made the agreement significantly riskier for them — Musk could be forced by a judge to find another source of funding.”[4] Quoting at length:

The banks are only on the hook to fund the deal if it closes, and many people don’t believe Twitter will be successful in getting a court to force Musk’s hand. A more likely outcome is that the judge in Delaware Chancery Court, where the trial will take place, will force a compromise, making Musk pay Twitter a hefty fee for putting it through so much trouble, but letting him walk away in the end, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

In that case, the banks will still get a small fee from Musk for doing the work and they no longer have to lend him anything.

There’s another reason they might be sticking with Musk for now — they want to stay in his good books, and arguing that he’s acting in bad faith might jeopardize that. Musk is still the world’s wealthiest man and will have a lot of need for debt financing in the future regardless of how the Twitter situation ends, Tobias said. “You want to keep his business if you’re a bank, because I think it’s pretty lucrative,” he said.[5]

And “Musk’s agreement with Twitter has a clause that requires him to go through with the deal even if his debt financing becomes unavailable.”[6]

Gerrit De Vynck, from whose report I quote so liberally in this update, doesn’t say how Musk might raise the money if so ordered. But based on past performance, Tesla might be in for a fall.[7]

Gerrit De Vynck, “Why Elon Musk can’t get out of Twitter deal even if his lenders bail,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/15/elon-musk-debt-financing-twitter/


Gilead

Abortion

Hardliner abortion opponents might welcome the opportunity to compel a ten-year old rape victim to carry the resulting pregnancy to term,[8] and some politicians, like the Indiana attorney general, might relish the political points they can score by threatening the doctor who, in the event, performed the abortion,[9] but those Republicans who count votes worry that all this won’t go over so well with swing voting suburban white women.[10]

Zachary Groz, “Out-of-state patients surge at Allegheny County abortion clinics as bans enacted elsewhere,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 13, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2022/07/13/out-of-state-patients-surge-at-allegheny-county-abortion-clinics-supreme-court-dobbs-jackson/stories/202207120095

Megan Messerly and Adam Wren, “National Right to Life official: 10-year-old should have had baby,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/anti-abotion-10-year-old-ohio-00045843

Alice Miranda Ollstein, “Indiana AG eyes criminal prosecution of 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion doc,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/indiana-abortion-rape-ohio-00045899

Katie Shepherd, “Texas sues Biden administration for requiring abortions in medical emergencies,” Washington Post, July 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/14/texas-sues-biden-emergency-abortion/

Matt Ford, “Why Aren’t Conservatives Celebrating the Post-Roe Future They Created?” New Republic, July 15, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/167055/post-roe-america-conservatives-future


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Elon Musk’s Achilles’ heel,” Not Housebroken, July 12, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/07/10/elon-musks-achilles-heel/
  2. [2]Gerrit De Vynck, “Why Elon Musk can’t get out of Twitter deal even if his lenders bail,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/15/elon-musk-debt-financing-twitter/
  3. [3]William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/
  4. [4]Gerrit De Vynck, “Why Elon Musk can’t get out of Twitter deal even if his lenders bail,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/15/elon-musk-debt-financing-twitter/
  5. [5]Gerrit De Vynck, “Why Elon Musk can’t get out of Twitter deal even if his lenders bail,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/15/elon-musk-debt-financing-twitter/
  6. [6]Gerrit De Vynck, “Why Elon Musk can’t get out of Twitter deal even if his lenders bail,” Washington Post, July 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/15/elon-musk-debt-financing-twitter/
  7. [7]William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Gamble: Imagining Tesla Stock Judgment Day,” Puck News, April 27, 2022, https://puck.news/elons-gamble-imagining-the-tesla-stock-judgment-day/
  8. [8]Megan Messerly and Adam Wren, “National Right to Life official: 10-year-old should have had baby,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/anti-abotion-10-year-old-ohio-00045843
  9. [9]Alice Miranda Ollstein, “Indiana AG eyes criminal prosecution of 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion doc,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/indiana-abortion-rape-ohio-00045899
  10. [10]Matt Ford, “Why Aren’t Conservatives Celebrating the Post-Roe Future They Created?” New Republic, July 15, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/167055/post-roe-america-conservatives-future

Imagine thinking a ten-year old rape victim should carry the resulting pregnancy to term

Gilead

Abortion

Texas thinks an existing federal rule, which it claims should be subject to the rule making process, that requires emergency rooms provide appropriate emergency care[1] “transform[s] every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.”[2] That’s really all you need to know there, but remember it and this story of the Indiana attorney general threatening an abortion doctor’s license, apparently, utterly without any basis whatsoever in fact,[3] whenever any conservative accuses anybody of ‘politicizing’ anything.

Zachary Groz, “Out-of-state patients surge at Allegheny County abortion clinics as bans enacted elsewhere,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 13, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2022/07/13/out-of-state-patients-surge-at-allegheny-county-abortion-clinics-supreme-court-dobbs-jackson/stories/202207120095

Megan Messerly and Adam Wren, “National Right to Life official: 10-year-old should have had baby,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/anti-abotion-10-year-old-ohio-00045843

Alice Miranda Ollstein, “Indiana AG eyes criminal prosecution of 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion doc,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/indiana-abortion-rape-ohio-00045899

Katie Shepherd, “Texas sues Biden administration for requiring abortions in medical emergencies,” Washington Post, July 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/14/texas-sues-biden-emergency-abortion/

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

The Donald Trump faithful will undoubtedly accuse all these conservatives, who systematically refuted Trump’s ‘stolen’ election claims, of being Republicans In Name Only (RINOs). Many have indeed opposed Trump.[4]

But you know what? I challenge you to find anybody, left, right, or center, who is neutral on Trump. You’re either for him or against him and it’s highly likely you feel strongly about him. Most Republicans have been in denial about the coup attempt since before Trump’s second impeachment;[5] it’s not like they are neutral either.

Even less-than-avid supporters, who say they don’t like Trump’s style, like what he did and they especially echo xenophobic talking points on unauthorized migrants. You don’t even have to probe with these people; the truth is they want him back in office.

But really, all that is beside the point, which is that Trump’s defenders can’t actually refute a systematic analysis finding that Trump’s claims of a ‘stolen’ election are utterly without merit.[6] And of course, ultimately, this report is of far greater value to future historians than in the present day, for we are, these days, all preaching exclusively to our own choirs.

Brian Rokus and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims,” Cable News Network, July 14, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/14/politics/conservatives-report-trump-2020-election-claims/index.html


Pittsburgh

Unauthorized violence

Authorities said a passerby called 911 thinking the man, who was in the driver’s seat of a vehicle at the intersection of Vine Street and Fifth Avenue, was overdosing. The passerby administered Narcan.

When police and paramedics arrived, they determined the man had been actually been shot in the side. He was transported to a hospital, where he later died.[7]

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Man killed in overnight Hill District shooting,” July 14, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2022/07/14/pittsburgh-hill-district-shooting-police-ems-narcan-overdose/stories/202207140093

Infrastructure


Fig. 1. Swinburne Street, from Google Street View, August 2021, fair use. It connects to the Swinburne Bridge, yet another Pittsburgh bridge in poor condition, which they propose to replace with a new bridge with a bike lane. There are no bicycle paths or lanes connecting to the bridge,[8] nor is there room for a bicycle lane on this road or on high-traffic Greenfield Road, a hop, skip, and a jump from the bridge on the other side.

This bridge crosses a narrow canyon. It connects to relatively narrow Greenfield Road with its heavy (and likely to increase) traffic. There are no bike lanes on the roadways connecting to the bridge. But they want to add a bike lane to a new bridge to open “a lot of potential for the future.”[9] Pittsburgh can’t afford to fix its bridges, can’t even afford to maintain them, can’t even afford to fix its roads. The work that’s happening now is largely on a single shot of federal funding[10] that will not likely ever be seen again. But they’re pissing money away on this.

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh could spend $1.95 million to repair 30th Street Bridge,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 13, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-looks-to-hire-company-for-1-95-million-in-30th-street-bridge-repairs/

Ryan Deto, “First details of Swinburne Bridge replacement project revealed by city,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/first-details-of-swinburne-bridge-replacement-project-revealed-by-city/


John Fetterman

[John] Fetterman’s campaign has provided little detail about Fetterman’s health since early June, though it acknowledges he has not completely recovered from the stroke [in May 2022] and sometimes struggles to speak smoothly. But they don’t intend to wait for a full recovery and say Fetterman will be on the campaign trail soon.[11]

They really, really, really don’t want to talk about John Fetterman’s health. The information they provide is incomplete. They leave questions unanswered or inadequately answered. And yeah, Mehmet Oz’s campaign has noticed.[12]

Marc Levy, “Fetterman absence raises stakes for Dems in key Senate race,” Erie News Now, July 15, 2022, https://www.erienewsnow.com/story/46878937/fetterman-absence-raises-stakes-for-dems-in-key-senate-race


  1. [1]Katie Shepherd, “Texas sues Biden administration for requiring abortions in medical emergencies,” Washington Post, July 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/14/texas-sues-biden-emergency-abortion/
  2. [2]Ken Paxton, quoted in Katie Shepherd, “Texas sues Biden administration for requiring abortions in medical emergencies,” Washington Post, July 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/14/texas-sues-biden-emergency-abortion/
  3. [3]Alice Miranda Ollstein, “Indiana AG eyes criminal prosecution of 10-year-old rape victim’s abortion doc,” Politico, July 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/14/indiana-abortion-rape-ohio-00045899
  4. [4]Brian Rokus and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims,” Cable News Network, July 14, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/14/politics/conservatives-report-trump-2020-election-claims/index.html
  5. [5]Steve Almond, “The GOP’s Final Act In A Long Public Surrender,” WBUR, February 13, 2021, https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2021/02/13/donald-trump-impeachment-insurrection-gop-mcconnell-acquittal-steve-almond; Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; Stephen Collinson, “Trump’s army takes aim at 2022 touting his election lies,” Cable News Network, March 23, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/23/politics/trump-mo-brooks-election-lie/index.html; Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett, and Marianne Levine, “Trump on path to acquittal despite stunning evidence,” Politico, February 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/10/trump-acquittal-despite-stunning-evidence-468540; Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/; Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue,” Politico, February 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/12/republicans-weighting-conviction-trump-impeachment-468862; Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today; Bess Levin, “Trump Has Reportedly Been Telling People He’s Going to Be President Again by August, Which Would Suggest He’s Planning a Coup (Or Has Fully Descended Into Madness),” Vanity Fair, June 1, 2021, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/donald-trump-august-reinstatement; Eric Levitz, “The GOP Got Away With All of It,” New York, November 3, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/virginia-election-glenn-youngkin-win-analysis-trump.html; Brian Rokus and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims,” Cable News Network, July 14, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/14/politics/conservatives-report-trump-2020-election-claims/index.html; Greg Sargent, “As the MAGA-land crackup gets worse, a few voices plead for sanity,” Washington Post, August 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/20/maga-land-crackup-gets-worse-few-voices-plead-sanity/; Alex Shephard, “Trump’s Republicans Want a Coup,” New Republic, June 1, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/162586/michael-flynn-trump-myanmar-coup; David Siders, “‘It’s almost like insanity’: GOP base continues to lash out over Trump’s defeat,” Politico, April 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/20/trump-georgia-gop-election-fraud-483193
  6. [6]Brian Rokus and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims,” Cable News Network, July 14, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/14/politics/conservatives-report-trump-2020-election-claims/index.html
  7. [7]Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Man killed in overnight Hill District shooting,” July 14, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2022/07/14/pittsburgh-hill-district-shooting-police-ems-narcan-overdose/stories/202207140093
  8. [8]Ryan Deto, “First details of Swinburne Bridge replacement project revealed by city,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/first-details-of-swinburne-bridge-replacement-project-revealed-by-city/
  9. [9]Ryan Deto, “First details of Swinburne Bridge replacement project revealed by city,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/first-details-of-swinburne-bridge-replacement-project-revealed-by-city/
  10. [10]Ryan Deto, “First details of Swinburne Bridge replacement project revealed by city,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 14, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/first-details-of-swinburne-bridge-replacement-project-revealed-by-city/
  11. [11]Marc Levy, “Fetterman absence raises stakes for Dems in key Senate race,” Erie News Now, July 15, 2022, https://www.erienewsnow.com/story/46878937/fetterman-absence-raises-stakes-for-dems-in-key-senate-race
  12. [12]Tom Avril and Julia Terruso, “John Fetterman got a defibrillator after his stroke. But doctors say the campaign’s story ‘doesn’t make sense,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 26, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/john-fetterman-stroke-health-pacemaker-defibrillator-afib-20220526.html; Marc Levy, “Fetterman absence raises stakes for Dems in key Senate race,” Erie News Now, July 15, 2022, https://www.erienewsnow.com/story/46878937/fetterman-absence-raises-stakes-for-dems-in-key-senate-race; Dan Merica, “Fetterman’s cardiologist says Democrat, who had stroke, suffers from atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy,” Cable News Network, June 3, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/03/politics/john-fetterman-health/index.html

Calling Elon Musk’s bluff


Twitter

Twitter has sued Elon Musk over the Musk’s attempt to back out of his agreement to buy Twitter, accusing him of damaging Twitter’s business, and asking the court to enforce the agreement, forcing Musk to consummate the deal.[1] This would be the first of Danny Fortson’s options, one he thought unlikely to succeed.[2] (I concurred.[3]) Of course that’s a very long ways from saying Musk will prevail. I’m still not seeing anyone say he has a legal leg to stand on.[4]

Cara Lombardo and Sarah E. Needleman, “Twitter Sues Elon Musk to Enforce $44 Billion Merger,” Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/twitter-sues-elon-musk-over-attempt-to-walk-away-from-44-billion-deal-11657660307


Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, “‘His own choices’: Select panel says Trump — not his advisers — set Jan. 6 in motion,” Politico, July 12, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/12/jan-6-panel-trump-direct-hand-00045470

Maggie Haberman, “Tears, Screaming and Insults: Inside an ‘Unhinged’ Meeting to Keep Trump in Power,” New York Times, July 12, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/12/us/politics/jan-6-trump-meeting-screaming.html

Abortion

Zachary Groz, “Out-of-state patients surge at Allegheny County abortion clinics as bans enacted elsewhere,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 13, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2022/07/13/out-of-state-patients-surge-at-allegheny-county-abortion-clinics-supreme-court-dobbs-jackson/stories/202207120095


Electric vehicles

When you see a headline like the one in Tom Randall’s article, and the subheading that accompanies it, “Once 5% of new-car sales go fully electric, everything changes — according to a Bloomberg analysis of the 19 countries that have made the EV pivot,”[5] it’s immediately time to ask some questions.

First, if those other nineteen (really eighteen[6]) countries are relatively compact, densely populated countries, then “range anxiety,” the concern about how far your car can take you on a charge diminishes considerably in those countries. Show me countries like Canada, Mexico, or Russia: If they’ve made this transition, then the comparison holds more water.

Second, more of a quibble: The number turns out to be eighteen, not nineteen. In its headline for Randall’s article, Bloomberg is counting the U.S. as among the nineteen because it has passed the five percent threshold. But the claim that “[i]f the US follows the trend established by 18 countries that came before it, a quarter of new car sales could be electric by the end of 2025,” is a forecast, explicitly yet to be realized,[7] that discounts other variables that could be—and I think likely are—important.

The other countries are mostly European, compact, densely populated. China has vast rural regions, but as I understand it, much less communication between rural and urban areas. For purposes of the comparison, we might accordingly treat the cities of China as city states. It turns out New Zealand and South Korea also appear within the eighteen;[8] I think we can treat South Korea as similar to China, with Seoul hosting a likely concentration of electric vehicles, and New Zealand as similar to the compact countries of Europe.

So far, 90% of the world’s EV sales have come from the US, China and Europe. That means countries responsible for about a third of global annual auto sales haven’t passed the tipping point. None of the countries in Latin America, Africa, or Southeast Asia has made the jump. If they do, it’s uncertain whether global miners will be able to keep up with demand for battery metals.[9]

I’m going to leave aside the battery question: It’s important, obviously, not just for the resources they require for their manufacture but the range they offer. But it’s also an area where I see enormous resources being poured into development. The picture with battery technology might very well look very different ten years from now and, frankly, that’s what I’m expecting. If my present car (a hybrid) holds up long enough for this to happen, I’m keeping my mind open to the possibility that the next one will be electric.

That also affects the picture in “countries responsible for about a third of global annual auto sales [that] haven’t passed the [alleged] tipping point” of electric vehicle adoption. If these countries—they aren’t listed—are more like the U.S. geographically and in population distribution, than it is these countries path to adoption we should expect the U.S. more to follow. Randall’s analysis, however, dubiously relies on five percent adoption as a universal tipping point across dissimilar countries.[10]

Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone


Pittsburgh

Infrastructure

Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh could spend $1.95 million to repair 30th Street Bridge,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 13, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-looks-to-hire-company-for-1-95-million-in-30th-street-bridge-repairs/


  1. [1]Cara Lombardo and Sarah E. Needleman, “Twitter Sues Elon Musk to Enforce $44 Billion Merger,” Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/twitter-sues-elon-musk-over-attempt-to-walk-away-from-44-billion-deal-11657660307
  2. [2]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Elon Musk’s Achilles’ heel,” Not Housebroken, July 11, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/07/10/elon-musks-achilles-heel/
  4. [4]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt; Cara Lombardo and Sarah E. Needleman, “Twitter Sues Elon Musk to Enforce $44 Billion Merger,” Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/twitter-sues-elon-musk-over-attempt-to-walk-away-from-44-billion-deal-11657660307; Cara Lombardo and Robert Wall, “Twitter Didn’t Seek a Sale. Now Elon Musk Doesn’t Want to Buy. Cue Strange Legal Drama,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-twitter-strange-legal-fight-11657488572; Faiz Siddiqui and Gerrit De Vynck, “Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is in peril,” Washington Post, July 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/07/elon-musk-twitter-jeopardy/
  5. [5]Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone
  6. [6]Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone
  7. [7]Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone
  8. [8]Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone
  9. [9]Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone
  10. [10]Tom Randall, “US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption,” Bloomberg, July 9, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-09/us-electric-car-sales-reach-key-milestone

California passes more gun control laws anyway

(dis)United Kingdom

Prime minister

There is a striking resemblance between the Tories with Brexit and Republicans with Donald Trump and white Christian nationalism.

Save for Jeremy Hunt and Tom Tugendhat, they [candidates for British Conservative Party leadership] have all been part of Boris Johnson’s thoroughly rotten government. They have all been complicit in or defended his many transgressions over the past three years – his lawbreaking, his serial lying, his betrayals, his stoking of divisions, his trashing of the ministerial code, his assaults on independent institutions, his curtailment of civil liberties, his awarding of lucrative contracts, jobs and honours to cronies, his acceptance of improper gifts, and his protection of bullies, Covid rulebreakers, alleged sexual predators and shady lobbyists.

Time and again, they dutifully went on air to perjure themselves by defending the manifestly indefensible. They obediently tweeted their support when instructed to. They seldom, if ever, voiced even the mildest criticism of their leader as he routinely breached all the accepted standards of public life.[1]

The resemblance lies in dishonesty and delusion, sprinkled with xenophobia. I do not think Britain is headed down precisely the same path as the U.S., at least not yet, and I hope not ever.

Perhaps, Britain remembers its own lengthy history of religious conflict that, among many other things, sent many of its evangelical Protestant zealots, whom we celebrate every Thanksgiving, to the American colonies,[2] where, nurtured by religious freedom, they now pervert that “freedom” to their own theocratic ends.[3] It would be better if we, too, remembered this history.

Martin Fletcher, “The Tory leadership candidates are all peddling dangerous delusions,” New Statesman, July 11, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/comment/2022/07/tory-leadership-candidates-peddling-dangerous-delusions


Gilead

Gun nuttery

On Tuesday [July 12], [Gavin] Newsom signed one of the highest-profile bills on a list of more than a dozen he prioritized this year amid a nationwide surge in gun violence. Assembly Bill 1594 establishes a “firearm industry standard of conduct” and allows local governments, the state Department of Justice and gun violence survivors to sue for egregious violations of state sales and marketing regulations.

Democratic lawmakers said they crafted the legislation, which was sponsored by Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, to work within the boundaries of a federal law that shields manufacturers and dealers from certain lawsuits.[4]

Gavin Newsom signed other gun control bills into law on June 30th, and gun nut organizations have already indicated they’ll sue.[5] I’m thinking of an old proverb that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” If it were only these assholes, I’d be satisfied.

Hannah Wiley, “California enacts sweeping gun control laws, setting up a legal showdown,” Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-12/gavin-newsom-signs-firearm-laws-supreme-court-gun-rights


  1. [1]Martin Fletcher, “The Tory leadership candidates are all peddling dangerous delusions,” New Statesman, July 11, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/comment/2022/07/tory-leadership-candidates-peddling-dangerous-delusions
  2. [2]Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994).
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Freedom of religion,” Not Housebroken, December 31, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/28/freedom-of-religion/; Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson, “Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell,” New York Times, December 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/29/opinion/william-barr-trump.html
  4. [4]Hannah Wiley, “California enacts sweeping gun control laws, setting up a legal showdown,” Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-12/gavin-newsom-signs-firearm-laws-supreme-court-gun-rights
  5. [5]Hannah Wiley, “California enacts sweeping gun control laws, setting up a legal showdown,” Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-12/gavin-newsom-signs-firearm-laws-supreme-court-gun-rights

Elon Musk says, sue me. But he doesn’t seem to have a defense

Twitter

Corporate-law experts say Twitter appears to be on sounder legal footing than Mr. [Elon] Musk. The filing [by Musk to withdraw from the Twitter purchase agreement] didn’t provide evidence to back up his assertion that the estimate [of spam bots on Twitter] was inaccurate or an alternate calculation. “This isn’t even in the ballpark,” said Zohar Goshen, professor of transactional law at Columbia Law School, adding that the impact on a company’s value needs to be so dramatic that its value would be halved, for example. . . .

The question remains whether it is really possible to force the eccentric billionaire—known for eschewing norms even when it gets him in legal trouble—to buy a company he doesn’t want to own.[1]

For the world’s richest man, Elon Musk is supposedly cash poor. He had to arrange financing for the deal to purchase Twitter and there was some uncertainty as to whether he could or would pull it off.[2] So I continue to believe that it wouldn’t be very difficult at all for all this financing to collapse.[3] That leaves me extremely skeptical that Musk can be forced to buy Twitter.

Another of Danny Fortson’s possibilities was that Musk will really push his claim that Twitter breached the deal. I’m just not seeing anyone say Musk has a legal leg to stand on here. He waived due diligence and was well aware of the bot problem well before he initiated his purchase. But he’s effectively claiming he didn’t know what he was getting into.[4] This is unlikely to carry much weight in the courts[5] and I don’t see judges doing anything but rolling their eyes at this one.

Of Fortson’s possibilities, that leaves a settlement, with Musk purchasing Twitter at a lower price.[6] Everything I’ve ever heard about civil proceedings is that judges lean heavily on parties to settle out of court and so this is what I expect to happen here. Short of a bankruptcy, where I assume Musk would be required to liquidate many of his Tesla shares, which had already fallen in price as Musk was putting his deal together,[7] and would presumably fall further, Musk will be forking out a lot of money, certainly no less than $1 billion and maybe many billions of dollars.[8] It doesn’t follow, however, that he necessarily gets to own Twitter as part of such a settlement. And I think that’s really the remaining question.

Cara Lombardo and Robert Wall, “Twitter Didn’t Seek a Sale. Now Elon Musk Doesn’t Want to Buy. Cue Strange Legal Drama,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-twitter-strange-legal-fight-11657488572


  1. [1]Cara Lombardo and Robert Wall, “Twitter Didn’t Seek a Sale. Now Elon Musk Doesn’t Want to Buy. Cue Strange Legal Drama,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-twitter-strange-legal-fight-11657488572
  2. [2]William D. Cohan, “How Elon Can Get That $40B,” Puck News, April 20, 2022, https://puck.news/how-elon-can-get-that-40b/; William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Gamble: Imagining Tesla Stock Judgment Day,” Puck News, April 27, 2022, https://puck.news/elons-gamble-imagining-the-tesla-stock-judgment-day/; Rob Copeland, Rebecca Elliott, and Cara Lombardo, “Elon Musk Makes $43 Billion Bid for Twitter, Says ‘Civilization’ At Stake,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-offers-to-buy-rest-of-twitter-for-54-20-a-share-11649932296; Spencer Jakab and Dan Gallagher, “Musk’s Twitter Deal Is No Sure Thing,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/musks-twitter-deal-is-no-sure-thing-11652287373; Cara Lombardo and Will Feuer, “Elon Musk Says He Has Commitments for $46.5 Billion in Financing for Twitter Deal,” Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-says-he-has-commitments-for-46-5-billion-in-financing-for-twitter-deal-11650549097; Cara Lombardo and Robert Wall, “Twitter Didn’t Seek a Sale. Now Elon Musk Doesn’t Want to Buy. Cue Strange Legal Drama,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-twitter-strange-legal-fight-11657488572; Douglas MacMillan et al., “Elon Musk acquires Twitter for roughly $44 billion,” Washington Post, April 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/04/25/twitter-elon-musk-deal/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Elon Musk’s Achilles’ heel,” Not Housebroken, July 10, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/07/10/elon-musks-achilles-heel/
  4. [4]William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/
  5. [5]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt; Cara Lombardo and Robert Wall, “Twitter Didn’t Seek a Sale. Now Elon Musk Doesn’t Want to Buy. Cue Strange Legal Drama,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musk-twitter-strange-legal-fight-11657488572; Faiz Siddiqui and Gerrit De Vynck, “Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is in peril,” Washington Post, July 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/07/elon-musk-twitter-jeopardy/
  6. [6]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt
  7. [7]William D. Cohan, “Elon’s Gamble: Imagining Tesla Stock Judgment Day,” Puck News, April 27, 2022, https://puck.news/elons-gamble-imagining-the-tesla-stock-judgment-day/
  8. [8]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt

Are those scam auto warranty robocalls gone yet?

Robocalls

Ina Fried, “FCC cracks down on spam ‘auto warranty’ robocalls,” Axios, July 7, 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/07/07/fcc-spam-auto-warranty-robocalls


Twitter

[William D. Cohan] asked if, in his forty-plus years of M&A [merger and acquisition] experience, this banker [a longtime Wall Street banker friend] had ever seen anything before like what Elon [Musk] had just done: thoroughly embarrassing and discrediting himself by signing a merger agreement to buy a company and then reneging on that deal in a fit of buyer’s remorse. “Yeah,” he replied. “When he tried to take Tesla private,” a reference to Elon’s last pathetic M&A failure, in 2018, when he tweeted that he was going to buy Tesla for $420 a share and that he had “funding secured” to do it. Elon did not, of course, have “funding secured,” and paid a $20 million fine, among other penalties, for misleading shareholders.

But Elon has well and truly screwed the pooch this time. As a result of this little stunt, he and his companies—Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company—will now be as big pariahs on Wall Street as Donald Trump, as a result of all his shenanigans over the years. Who on Wall Street is going to want to do business with Elon after he ginned up a takeover of Twitter, signed a legally binding agreement to do so for $44 billion in cash, put the biggest banks to work on the deal (and thereby used their credibility to help legitimize his offer) and then manufactured a half-assed excuse for why he no longer wanted to do it?[1]

William Cohan is referring, of course, to Elon Musk’s claim about “bots,” which he is deploying as an excuse to back out of his deal to purchase Twitter,[2] and which is unlikely to carry much weight in the courts.[3] It might be an understatement to suggest that Cohan holds Musk’s attempt to back out of the deal in extreme disdain but he forecasts it’ll be in the courts for many years to come.[4] This, of course, excludes entirely the possibility that Musk is just trying for a better deal.[5]

One way or another, these are all very rich people battling over vast sums of money. Time will tell whether this is just Musk holding out for a lower price or this really ends up as a lengthy court battle[6] or, somehow, a combination of both. As I’ve previously noted, Musk has some growing up to do,[7] so it’s impossible, really, to rule out any of Danny Fortson’s three possibilities[8] (two of which reduce to Cohan’s lengthy court battle[9]); the simplest thing would indeed still be for Musk to settle for a lower price,[10] but at least from afar, it looks to me like Musk often thinks he’s the only person with any brains in whatever room he happens to be in, and there most definitely is that adolescent sense that the world’s problems would all be solved if everyone just did everything Musk’s way. You know, like nuking Mars.[11]

William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/


  1. [1]William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/
  2. [2]William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/
  3. [3]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt; Faiz Siddiqui and Gerrit De Vynck, “Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is in peril,” Washington Post, July 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/07/07/elon-musk-twitter-jeopardy/
  4. [4]William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/
  5. [5]Danny Fortson, “Erratic Elon Musk leaves Twitter with three unbearable choices,” Times, July 9, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/erratic-elon-musk-leaves-twitter-with-three-unbearable-choices-g3tg5zlbt
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  9. [9]William D. Cohan, “The Musk Reckoning,” Puck News, July 10, 2022, https://puck.news/the-musk-reckoning/
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