Linky Friday: All The News That’s Fit To Link
The Elite Strike Force legal team of President Trump loses. Again.
The state Supreme Court rejected a request Thursday by President Donald Trump to revoke the certification of his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
The 4-3 decision left room for Trump to bring a new challenge to the election results and the president quickly did so. But the high court’s ruling provided a serious setback for him because even some of the dissenting justices signaled they do not support Trump’s call for throwing out hundreds of thousands of ballots.
Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn and the court’s three liberals declined to take the case he filed directly with them because state law requires election challenges like his to be filed in circuit court.
“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high-profile cases,” he wrote. “Following the law governing challenges to election results is no threat to the rule of law.”
Important to note the 4-3 decision was on whether or not to hear the case, not on the merits or accusations therein.
[LF2] Why He Fights. 207 Million Reasons, Actually
He may be losing in court at a record clip, but the fundraising numbers for President Trump are making it rain:
President Trump has raised $495 million since mid-October, with $207.5 million of it pouring in after Election Day — an extraordinary haul resulting from Trump’s post-election fundraising effort using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the integrity of the vote.
The sum raised since Oct. 15 far exceeds fundraising records set by the Trump operation in roughly comparable time periods at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign and is an unusually large amount to raise after the election.
That means between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, Trump raised an average of nearly $13 million per day — a massive amount fueled by a deluge of email and text fundraising appeals sent out by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the president’s campaign, the Republican Party and Trump’s new leadership PAC, Save America.
Another interesting tidbit in the financial numbers:
Since late October, the Trump campaign spent $8.8 million on bringing legal challenges to election results in key states, including recounts. Of that amount, $30,000 in legal consulting fees went to Jenna Ellis, one of the most prominent lawyers on Trump’s post-election legal team, according to federal filings made public Thursday night. More legal fees are expected to be reported in upcoming filings.
By far the most common theme in the hundreds of donation requests sent in November was an appeal for contributions to the “Election Defense Fund,” a nonexistent fundraising account that the president’s campaign has been touting in hyperbolic language about voter fraud and election integrity.
* * *
According to the fine print in the latest fundraising appeals, 75 percent of each contribution to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee would first go toward the Save America leadership PAC and the rest would be shared by the campaign and Republican Party committees. This effectively means that the vast majority of low-dollar donations under the agreement would go toward financing the president’s new leadership PAC instead of buttressing efforts to support the party or to finance voting lawsuits.
Leadership PAC funds cannot be used for campaign purposes, including campaign-related litigation. But beyond that, there are few other restrictions on how the leadership PAC money can be spent.
On Nov. 18, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee struck a formal agreement with Save America, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to raise money together through the joint fundraising committee and share the funds, according to federal records. By Nov. 19, the contribution share to Save America PAC had changed to 75 percent from the 60 percent it had been for more than a week, according to a review of the fundraising appeals.
[LF3] Meanwhile, Down Under…
Australian PM Morrison appears to have gone a bit wobbly in his country’s current trade row with China that exploded after the latter saw an official posted a “truly repugnant” doctored image of an Australian soldier:
A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone.
Morrison’s change in approach came even after he was thwarted in getting his views out directly to Chinese people over the messaging app WeChat, after the Chinese company deleted his post on the grounds it could distort historical events and confuse the public.
China has angrily rejected Morrison’s complaints, but its foreign ministry on Thursday declined to comment further on the controversy. Spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing that WeChat’s management had their “own rules and regulations, and they have the right to handle business concerning WeChat according to their own rules.”
Earlier this week, Morrison expressed indignation and anger at the tweet posted by a Chinese official that showed a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat.
The post took aim at alleged unlawful killings and abuses by Australian soldiers during the conflict in Afghanistan.
Morrison called the tweet “truly repugnant” and “deeply offensive” and demanded an apology from China. But China did not back down, saying that Australia should be the one examining its actions.
On Thursday, Morrison took a much different approach, telling reporters in Canberra that his aim was for the two countries to have a “happy coexistence.”
“My position and my government’s position is to seek constructive engagement,” he said. “The relationship with China is a mutually beneficial one. It supports both our countries, it is good for both of our countries.”
China is Australia’s largest trading partner.
Morrison said Australia had made its views very clear on both the tweet and the WeChat message. WeChat is ubiquitous in China and is used for everything from getting news to making electronic payments. The company is held responsible for ensuring content doesn’t attract negative attention, and censorship is relatively common.
[LF4] Razing Arizona, The Arizona GOP At Least
Oh look, Kelli Ward is making a hash out of the Arizona Republican Party:
During a news conference on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey responded to a rather confrontational tweet made by Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward on the certification of the November election.
On Nov. 30, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified the election, which formalized President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow victory over incumbent President Donald Trump in spite of baseless claims by Trump’s lawyers of electoral fraud.
In the final tally, Biden won by 10,457 votes, 0.3 percent of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast. Eleven Democratic electors will meet Dec. 14 to formally pledge Arizona’s electoral votes to Biden.
After the certification, Gov. Ducey made a series of tweets defending Arizona’s voting process.
Ward would later criticize Gov. Ducey on Twitter. In a reply to the tweets made by Ducey, Ward wrote “#STHU #ElectionIntegrity is missing in Arizona.” According to dictionary.com, STHU is an internet acronym that means “shut the hell up.” During the news conference, a reporter asked Gov. Ducey for a response to what Ward tweeted.
“I think what I would say is the feeling’s mutual to her, and practice what you preach,” Gov. Ducey responded.
If only there had been some warning that putting a documented, certifiable wackadoo like Kelli Ward in charge of a swing state’s party apparatus might end badly.
Oh, wait…we did. From January 2019, right here in Ordinary Times, The Kelli Ward Guide to Turning Red Into Purple when she ascended to the chair:
More likely, traditionally red Arizona is going to start trending more purple…and having a party head who has offered little more than MAGA talking points and controversy is not likely to stem that tide. Indeed, Kelli Ward is more likely to be last in a long line of bad decisions that caused the red dam to break. The Arizona GOP better pray the damage done is only confined to election results. Someone with Kelli Ward’s track record is very likely to do far more damage than just the loss of votes and the traditional fundraising base—who are already making noise about finding other places for their support.
…the response and pattern of behavior is a harbinger of what is to come with Kelli Ward leading the party. Every criticism of Ward personally will be defended as an attack on the whole of the Arizona GOP, and every questionable thing Ward does will be laid on the whole of the party. Expect plenty of defenses of “fake news” every time something negative comes out. In letting Ward carry their banner and be their public face, not only is the chance of major gaffes and errors high, but there will be no benefit of the doubt because of her long history of such things. Before Saturday she was a rejected candidate with problematic behavior and incidents dismissed as attributable only to her. On Sunday morning, she IS the Arizona GOP, as far as the wider public is concerned.
Everything in an organization rises and falls on leadership. Power has never, in the history of ever, increased a person’s chances of changing into something other than an amplified version of what they already are. It enables them to fully embrace and expose what they really desire to accomplish. With years of book on how Kelli Ward conducts herself, treats opponents, and the company she chooses to keep in seeking power, the Arizona GOP can say whatever they want when they look back on her tenure leading the party. What they cannot say is they didn’t know, or that they were not warned.
[LF5] Not Your Average Biden Cabinet Story
I’m as much a defender and appreciator of the arts as my Philistinian troglodyte self can possibly be with my inherent societal limitations, but this seems to be a bit much:
When a president calls a meeting of the Cabinet, most vital sectors of the economy — from soybean farmers to auto manufacturers — have an appointed government representative in the room, a secretary of agriculture or transportation, to speak for them.
You know what doesn’t get a seat at the table, and never has? The arts. And in this crisis moment, when a pandemic threatens ruination for museums, theaters, concert halls, opera houses, dance studios, cineplexes and amusement parks — and the 5.1 million arts workers who staff them — the time has come to rectify this glaring oversight.
Now, more than ever, we need a secretary of arts and culture.
As President-elect Joe Biden rolls out his circle of close advisers, the notion is gaining momentum among leaders and advocates of nonprofit groups and for-profit companies: that someone should be named to coordinate arts funding, unite assorted agencies and underline the value of arts and entertainment to the nation’s financial, social and psychological well-being.
A national advocate. An Anthony Fauci — but at the Cabinet level — for the arts.
The United Kingdom has a culture secretary. Canada calls the job minister of Canadian heritage. France employs a culture minister; South Africa, a minister of arts and culture; Vietnam, a minister of culture, sports and tourism; Australia, a minister for communications, cyber safety and the arts. More than 50 nations designate an official in the top ranks of government whose portfolio includes nurturing artistic endeavors. In Germany, for instance, the minister of state for culture, Monika Grütters, has been an ardent proponent of aid to artists during the covid-19 crisis — a backing that helped secure a staggering $54 billion in aid for those in cultural, media and artistic pursuits. The United States, by contrast, operates the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities as shoestring-level grant-makers, each with a budget of $162.5 million, which is smaller than that of the city of Enid, Okla.
We were kicking around a list of “most obscure big city in America” on the Twitter and Tulsa, Oklahoma would be a fine addition to said list. Heck, they’ll even pay you to move there:
Are you working remotely but bored and ready to start a new chapter in life, or simply tired of paying a lot in rent for a small apartment? If so, Tulsa Remote will pay you $10,000 to move to Oklahoma. The program wants to attract “talented and energetic people” to Tulsa who care about making a difference in their local community, spokeswoman Katie Bullock told CNN.
Funded by George Kaiser Family Foundation, the program launched in 2018 and has so far received more than 20,000 applications from people all over the world looking for a new place to call home.
“We started with the goal to introduce Tulsa to the nation and create a vibrant and diverse talent ecosystem within our community,” said Ben Stewart, interim executive director at Tulsa Remote. “We seek to bring people from diverse industries and skill sets that bring jobs with them into our economy, and at the same time, population growth is always important.”
Jodi Lewis is growing her custom wall decal business on Amazon Handmade from her home in rural Idaho. Small businesses selling on Amazon.com have created 1.1 million jobs. The rules are simple. Applicants must be full-time remote workers or be self-employed outside of Oklahoma and eligible to work in the United States. They must be older than 18 and be able to move to Tulsa within six months. Once accepted, recipients agree to live in Tulsa for at least one year.
Admissions are rolling, so there is no deadline to apply. The money, $10,000 in cash, comes in the form of a grant and is distributed to the recipient over the course of a year. Recipients get more than just a stack of cash. The program provides free workspace, housing specials on certain apartments and opportunities for community hangouts and meetups.
And it’s working.
Since 2018, Tulsa Remote has accepted 400 people into the program — only three of which left the city.
[LF7] The Artist Formally Known as Baby Yoda is Making Bank
Friday’s have become Mandalorian Day for Star Wars fans, as 14 episodes in the series has become more popular than ever. But it has also been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year for Disney’s bottom line:
Like anything in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian is rooted in deeper Star Wars lore. It was this week’s episode, however, and the appearance of Ahsoka Tano that finally convinced me to start Clone Wars. And based on data provided to The Verge by Parrot Analytics, I’m not the only person who’s looking to marathon Dave Filoni’s animated series to keep up with The Mandalorian.
The Mandolorian has caused jumps in Clone Wars views before. When The Mandalorian first came out in November 2019, Clone Wars saw its first massive spike. Interest remained high until the second spike in spring 2020 when the seventh season of Clone Wars was released on Disney Plus. It dropped after that, but the show saw a third spike accompanying The Mandalorian’s second season premiere in October. It’s been trending high ever since, according to the analytics firm.
When looking at data from January 1st, 2017 to present day, the team’s researchers found that by the end of 2019, Clone Wars saw a “level of demand from US audiences that is many factors greater than anything it has experienced before,” according to Samuel Stadler, vice president of marketing at Parrot Analytics.
To put that into additional context, Clone Wars now — a year after The Mandalorian debuted — is over four times as popular as it was before the live-action series came around, according to Parrot (which measures demand by how much time people are spending watching a show through social media, fan ratings, and piracy to calculate overall interest). And while data for Star Wars Rebels wasn’t provided, Google Trends shows a similar spike in interest for the show over the last week, which likely has to do with the big Admiral Thrawn reveal at the end of “The Jedi.”
This makes sense. People sign up for or sign into Disney Plus to watch the wonderful adventures of Grogu (forever Baby Yoda in my mind), and then spend the next several weeks making their way through Clone Wars. For Disney, it’s the best possible outcome. An October report from research firm MoffettNathanson found that daily usage on Disney Plus has declined over the last six months. There have been some spikes in viewership; Hamilton brought in a number of subscribers and convinced people who wouldn’t sign up for Disney Plus to do just that, but getting people to use the platform every single day was getting tougher.
Without being able to flood the streamer with TV shows and film as often as competitors like Netflix, Disney Plus has to rely on opportunities to grow. The uptick in Clone Wars viewership and interest helps to solve part of that problem. The Mandalorian pushes more people every single week to check out Clone Wars — a show with seven seasons — which in turn might encourage fans to revisit one or two of the main Skywalker saga movies.
[LF8] Of course…
A tiger attacked and seriously injured a volunteer at a big cat sanctuary in Tampa, Florida, run by Carole Baskin, who was featured prominently in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King.”
The Big Cat Rescue volunteer, Candy Couser, was feeding a tiger named Kimba on Thursday when she noticed he had been locked in a section away from where he is usually fed, the sanctuary said in a press release.
As Couser went to raise the second door of a guillotine tunnel, she noticed it was clipped shut and reached in the enclosure to unclip it when Kimba “grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder,” according to the animal rescue.
The clipped door is a “universal signal” to not open a gate without a coordinator to come assist, and it is against protocol for anyone to “stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat it in,” the rescue stated.
Streaming has it’s good and bad points, but it might already be challenged for most important way to get your music.
What’s the fastest-growing profit center in the record business?
For years, there’s been one easy answer: streaming. Yet that’s not the case anymore, according to someone in the know — Steve Cooper, the CEO of Warner Music Group.
Warner generated over $3.8 billion in recorded music revenues in the last year, with some 63% of that coming from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. But Cooper made an oddly-under-the-radar revelation to analysts when Warner released its latest financials on November 23rd: “With an expanding number of partnerships including Facebook, TikTok, and Snap, among others, social media is already a meaningful nine-figure revenue stream for us and is growing at a faster rate than subscription streaming,” he said.
I’ve double checked with a Warner rep, and Cooper was referencing a nine-figure annual revenue stream for Warner, which is bouncing up by a double-digit percentage every year.
On the surface, this hardly seems surprising. Massive social media companies are paying massive money to massive music companies for use of their music. But we mustn’t be guilty of short memories about this stuff. As recently as the first quarter of 2018, Facebook, TikTok, and Snap were paying Warner precisely zero dollars for the use of music (and, in the case of Facebook, actually infringing music copyrights with abandon). March 2018 saw Warner ink its first-ever “holistic” licensing deal with Facebook and its child company Instagram; it wasn’t until August 2020 that Snapchat inked a music licensing agreement with Warner. TikTok, which launched in the U.S. in August 2020, still remains without a long-term licensing deal with Warner’s recorded music operation.
In two years, social media has gone from being a thorn in music’s side to becoming a total cash cow.
When it comes to spotting trends in the blockbuster music business, Warner is worthy of particular attention because, as it boasts in its own SEC filings, the company “adapted to streaming faster than other major music entertainment companies and, in 2016, were the first such company to report that streaming was the largest source of our recorded music revenue.”
Now, as subscription streaming’s growth slows down, Cooper is pointing a big neon finger at the potential of social platforms to take the record industry into its next phase of growth — not just in terms of artist marketing and promotion, but also cold hard cash. “We’re standing on the threshold of a new golden age of music and the opportunities are everywhere,” said Cooper on Warner’s November earnings call. “We see subscription streaming as just the beginning. It’s only one of our many avenues for long-term growth.”
The Week That Was At Ordinary Times
Sunday Morning! “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Riot Baby” by Rufus
This week, If Beale Street Could Talk and Riot Baby, two stories, 46 years apart, about young Black men imprisoned, a disturbingly perennial theme
Voting for Nothing For the Last Time By Steve Pittelli
We get from the Democrats a not-so-polite “no,” with a hint of self-righteous anger and condescension, when we dare demand better from them.
Harsh Your Mellow Monday: ‘Tis The Season to be Harshing by Andrew Donaldson
HYMM has business w/Sidney Powell & associated wackadoos, the NLRB doesn’t find it funny, Moors/Moops, & Biden rounds up the usual comms team
McCumber’s Magic Cybersecurity 8-Ball by John McCumber
I am going to get a jump on my cybersecurity colleagues and get those mandatory predictions out there now before the rush.
Scott Adams and Me by HeiLun Chan
Did Scott Adams’ support for Trump change who he is, or was he always like this and I just never saw it because I agreed with some of what he said before?
We Don’t Need ‘City-Slicker Elegy’ by Kristin Devine
Stop normalizing pathological snobbery, such as “everyone who voted Trump is an inbred, lardlicking oaf ripped from Hillbilly Elegy”
Wednesday Writs: Brief Edition, Including Van Buren v United States by Em Carpenter
If the federal government has its way, according to arguments before SCOTUS, lying on a dating website profile will be a federal crime.
I Left My Heart in Arecibo by Dennis Sanders
It hurts to say Arecibo “was.” Not simply because it isn’t the largest telescope anymore, but because it is no more.
Thursday Throughput: Death of a Titan Edition by Michael Seigel
“Sitting at control in Arecibo, watching that behemoth move around and thinking, “You know…this wouldn’t be a bad way to make a living.”