Tag: tiktok
Trump's TikTok Flip-Flop Follows Meeting With Platform's Big Investor

Trump's TikTok Flip-Flop Follows Meeting With Platform's Big Investor

On Monday, Donald Trump appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box and declared that TikTok shouldn't be banned in the United States.

“Without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger,” he said, “and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people.” This is the exact opposite of Trump’s 2020 position that TikTok should be banned in the United States as a Chinese spying operation. His administration was unsuccessful in getting TikTok removed from app stores, and his executive order attempting to ban the app faced legal challenges and was never enforced.

Trump’s dramatic reversal comes only a couple of weeks after meeting with billionaire Republican megadonor Jeff Yass. Yass’ company, Susquehanna International Group, has a 15 percent stake in ByteDance—the company that owns TikTok. Shocker! When CNBC’s Andrew Sorkin asked Trump about his meeting with Yass and subsequent turnabout on TikTok, Trump claimed Yass “never mentioned TikTok.”

Campaign finance reports have shown a recent and precipitous decline in Trump’s fundraising. The news that Trump’s tap might have run dry comes at a terrible time, as he faces a contentious presidential campaign and owes roughly $542 million in legal debts due to defamation and fraud judgments against him.

Politicoreports that Trump spoke glowingly of Yass—who has previously been a critic of Trump—at a Club for Growth retreat in February, calling Yass “fantastic.”

Yass and Club for Growth spent millions to promote failed presidential candidates like Gov. Ron DeSantis and billionaire autocrat-in-training Vivek Ramaswamy. Trump’s positioning for a little pay-to-play action isn’t guaranteed, but he does have a successful history of transactional presidenting.

Trump’s flip-flop on TikTok also comes during a week when Republican leadership in Congress is set to move against the wildly popular app by proposing legislation that would force the company to be sold or face a ban in the U.S. The lack of integrity at the top of the MAGA food chain is leading to some very awkward moments.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Glenn Youngkin

TikTok Billionaire Funding Glenn Youngkin's Anti-Choice Crusade

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is collecting millions of dollars from rich out-of-state donors as he works to win full GOP control of the General Assembly this November. Two million dollars came from a major investor in the parent company of TikTok, a social media app Youngkin banned as a threat to U.S. national security.

Youngkin’s Republican allies currently hold a narrow majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, and they have used their majority to advance Youngkin’s right-wing agenda. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Virginia Senate, which allows them to block Youngkin’s extreme proposals. They’ve stopped rollbacks of reproductive rights, loosening of gun safety laws, and tax cuts for the wealthiest Virginians.

Voting has already begun for all 100 seats in the House and all 40 seats in the Senate. The election ends on November 7.

Youngkin and his Spirit of Virginia PAC are spending heavily to try to win Republican control of both chambers. If Republicans win control of the Legislature, Youngkin has indicated he will attempt to pass an unpopular 12-week abortion ban.

To make a Republican takeover a reality, Youngkin has been relying on billionaire Republican megadonors who do not live in Virginia. CBS News reported on Tuesday that in just 48 hours, he had raised $4.4 million in PAC funds.

A million dollars of that came from Thomas Peterffy, a business executive from Palm Beach, Florida, bringing his total donations to Spirit of Virginia to $3 million for the year.

Another $2,000,000 came from Jeff Yass, the richest person in Pennsylvania, according to a 2022 report published by the website PennLive.

A Spirit of Virginia spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Yass is co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, which has owned about a 15 percent stake in TikTok parent company ByteDance since 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal. The outlet estimated that Yass personally owns about half of that stake, accounting for about $21 billion of his $28 billion net worth.

Because ByteDance is mostly Chinese-owned, Youngkin announced in December 2022 that he would ban the use of TikTok on all state devices and networks.

“TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American,” Youngkin said. “We are taking this step today to secure state government devices and wireless networks from the threat of infiltration and ensure that we safeguard the data and cybersecurity of state government.”

Democratic legislative leaders accused Youngkin of hypocrisy in a press release issued Wednesday.

“This is the same party that, not even a week ago, tried to hold the government hostage for their own ambitions. So, am I supposed to be surprised at this blatant hypocrisy?” said House Democratic Leader Don Scott. “The Governor, and his party, seem to have one set of standards when it comes to the livelihood of Virginians and another when it comes to himself. He drove away hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ford to create jobs in the Danville area because of MAGA conspiracy theories, but will accept millions of dollars to his own campaign.”

Youngkin refused in December 2022 to support building a Ford Motor Co. electric battery facility in Virginia, claiming China would control the technology.

“The future of the commonwealth, reproductive healthcare in the south, and fundamental freedoms of all Virginians depend on it,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee communications director Abhi Rahman in a press release. “We are all hands on deck to show Youngkin and his billionaires that they cannot buy an abortion ban in Virginia.”

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Danziger Draws

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City and Vermont. He is a long time cartoonist for The Rutland Herald and is represented by Counterpoint Syndicate. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

What Online Disinformers Dish Out Is Killing The Befuddled And Benighted

What Online Disinformers Dish Out Is Killing The Befuddled And Benighted

Possibly you recall the “Information Superhighway,” a phrase popularized by then-Vice President Al Gore to describe the internet. The expectation was that universal connectivity would lead to widespread enlightenment and social progress. Instead, we got QAnon, TikTok, metastasizing superstition, and the cult of Donald J. Trump — a speedway to delusion and disorder. We got social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, the newspaper where you may be reading this probably runs an astrology feature — an ancient belief system based upon a pre-Copernican understanding of the heavens in which stars were believed to orbit the Earth and to influence human events.

To most, astrology’s a harmless diversion. I once had a neighbor, a banker, who cast elaborate horoscopes and offered personal advice based upon the stars. His readings were amazingly complex and detailed. Once, he overheard my wife and me bickering about what she saw as the appalling chaos of my office.

The astrologer chuckled in his deep-voiced way and said, “It’s a sure thing he’s not a Virgo.”

Now, to the question “What’s your sign?” I quote Arkansas humorist Mike Trimble: “Slippery when wet.”

My September birthday, however, definitely makes me a Virgo. With odds 12-to-1 in his favor, the astrologer had gotten it dead wrong.

If you think his views were shaken, you’ve never known a serious practitioner. Evidently, my messy office signified a deeper passion for order. Or something. I forget. And while I haven’t seen the fellow in years, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d become a COVID conspiracy maven and vaccine-denier. I hope it didn’t kill him.

Mere reality isn’t enough for some people. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say it’s too much. For millions, contemporary life far surpasses their ability to assimilate and absorb conflicting information. So they turn to social media, where cranks and charlatans are happy to provide them with magic and circuses: storybook mysteries hidden from ordinary mortals but discoverable by an enlightened few.

Check out Alex Jones’ Infowars website. A contemptible fraud, Jones became a billionaire by popularizing such off-the-wall notions as the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre being a government-sponsored hoax featuring “crisis actors” masquerading as bereaved parents. It’s all a plot to seize your guns, of course. Guns being the magical totem that will protect you against what Scripture calls “the malice and snares of the devil.”

Hillary Clinton, that is. Along with international Jewish conspirator George Soros. Also Dr. Anthony Fauci. But hold that thought.

On his website, Jones also peddles survivalist gear, toxic dietary supplements, and miracle “cures” for COVID-19. It’s not clear if Jones inspired Trump’s nutball advice to inject bleach.

Even after the courts ordered Jones to pay almost $1.5 billion last year in damages to the parents of slain children he has slandered, he retains millions of online followers. Utterly shameless, he was among the invited speakers at Trump’s January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally.

“We will never back down to the satanic pedophile, globalist New World Order and their walking-dead reanimated corpse Joe Biden,” Jones announced at a post-election MAGA rally, “and we will never recognize him.” It sounds like self-parody, but he kept a straight face.

Oddly, he’s since fallen out with QAnon, the political cult holding that a cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles fixed the 2020 election.

Anyway, here’s the thing: From the Black Death of the 14th century to COVID-19, lurid fantasies have always arisen to explain the inexplicable. Human beings crave simple stories with villains and heroes. History has to have a meaning and a moral — the more melodramatic the better.

Social media, meanwhile, allows crackpot imaginings and idle fantasies to develop into full-blown conspiracy theories more quickly and circulate more widely all the time.

The saner among us must be thankful that Dr. Fauci is not Jewish. Otherwise, there’s no telling to what craven depths the conspiracist wing of the House Republican majority might have been willing to take their announced plan to investigate him.

Even the tycoon Elon Musk, who received his own medical education at the prestigious University of Twitter, wants Fauci prosecuted. Not to be outdone, exhibitionist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — she of “Jewish space lasers” fame — jumped right on board.

Perhaps the most eminent public health official in American history, Fauci retires this week at age 82 from his job as director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He says he has nothing to hide and no problem testifying.

“What really, really concerns me,” he told The New York Times, “is the politicization of public health principles. How you can have red states under-vaccinated and blue states well-vaccinated and having deaths much more prevalent among people in red states because they’re under-vaccinated — that’s tragic for the population.”

Quite so.

Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of The Hunting of the President.