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Story Time With Leader McCarthy
The GOP Leader kept a lot of people up late, but at least he had stories.
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I should have gone to bed last night at a decent hour, but the former Hill staffer in me was curious to see how long Kevin McCarthy could drone on. So, I turned on C-SPAN.
Republicans staged a cast of several members behind McCarthy during his speech, with some tag-teaming in and out as it wore on. They would chuckle when it was clear McCarthy was joking, like an animatronic laugh-track or a coterie of junior employees trying to flatter the boss into believing that he’s a wit. This was awkward because unlike his predecessor, John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy is not a funny man. If Boehner was Rodney Dangerfield, then McCarthy is Tommy Wiseau. Funny, yes, but in unintentional ways.
By the time I tuned in, McCarthy had already been going for a few hours and the first story I heard him tell was about Teslas. We learned that he is friends with Elon Musk, which is good for him, I guess? Maybe he’ll become the first House speaker to ride a Falcon Heavy. Although he also said that despite earning $193,400 a year, he cannot afford a Tesla. He even said that it costs money just to test drive a Tesla. This claim appears not to be true, but even if it did, one assumes that McCarthy could always bang around in one of his pal Elon’s Model S’s if he really wanted to.
As he rambled, McCarthy shared the tidbit that he became a Republican in sixth grade after Jimmy Carter told America to wear sweaters. He talked about the artwork he keeps in his office, including a copy of Washington Crossing the Delaware and a lithograph of Abraham Lincoln. He then made a digression speculating on what would have happened in America had Lincoln not been assassinated. McCarthy also said that he would “love to debate Jim Crow one day.” On this point, it was unclear whether McCarthy thought Jim Crow was a person, or that he was eager to have a debate about Jim Crow laws in the year 2021 from the well of the House.
Or maybe it was just a verbal slip, as when he began to question whether or not the Chinese “would buy our bongs.” Not a typo.
People are actually quite resilient, but when young students are told they can be harmed by words, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Greg Lukianoff from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.
Kleptocrats and Autocrats
Two great pieces today on the site from SHAY KHATIRI and CASEY MICHEL.
The IOC may have been founded with the aim of bringing nations together in the peaceful pursuit of athletic excellence, but today it is bringing the world to China while enabling the persecution of its athletes. The supposed separation of politics and sports is inconsistently enforced so as to protect the interests of autocrats. If the IOC wishes to regain any semblance of credibility, disciplining or at least criticizing Iran’s treatment of its athletes would be a good way to start—as would be either lifting the embargo on speech or enforcing the charter consistently.
And Casey has a worthwhile read on how Trump’s real estate holdings are like fly trap for kleptocrats.
Look wherever you want, and the pattern repeats itself. Trump International Hotel Waikiki in Hawaii? Nearly 20 percent of sales went to these buyers, for $161 million. Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago? Nearly 15 percent of sales went to these buyers, for $93 million. Trump International Hotel Las Vegas? Over 20 percent of sales went to these buyers, for $56 million.
Some of these shell companies chomping through Trump properties, like the one funneling Baby Doc’s dirty money, were based elsewhere, in places like Panama or the British Virgin Islands. But plenty of suspect buyers availed themselves of anonymous American shell companies to purchase anonymous American real estate. Delaware, for instance, provided shell companies for some 75 separate Trump-related purchases, good for keeping nearly $130 million perfectly anonymous.
Not that Trump was himself any stranger to Delaware’s services. Trump turned to the state time and again for his corporate needs, registering some 378 companies in the state for all sorts of corporate and “tax minimization” schemes. (“It’s a lot,” Trump would later admit, though how many other anonymous Delaware shell companies Trump himself personally oversaw is anyone’s guess.) And of course, Trump has been connected time and again to a range of other Delaware shells, even the ones he doesn’t nominally oversee. When it emerged in 2018 that Trump had helped steer $130,000 in hush money to former porn actress Stormy Daniels, his since-jailed lawyer, Michael Cohen, knew just where to turn for the anonymity they desired: Delaware.
Apologies for the late newsletter! The funeral at Arlington was very moving and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, even if it was a little cold.
That’s it for me. We’ll see you Monday.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.