That Was Now
This is zen
Links are at the end, and they are hungry.
The adage that “less is more” is routinely overused and takes on a new life every couple of years.
Ivan Fernandez reviewed a new book by the Axios founding journamalism bros—Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz—and found “Smart Brevity” wanting.1
Brevity isn’t a problem in and of itself. It can be necessary in journalism depending on the story. Not everything needs to be written in the style of Proust. However, brevity built on the foundation of the needs of a specific elite who demand decontextualized information in easily digestible bits is a problem. It’s ultimately an upper-class version of the original Buzzfeed listicle.
That’s harsh, but I’m uncertain that the Axios guys would object to the Buzzfeed comparison; either way, they’d not take it seriously.
Axios is aimed primarily at what once-prominent/now-disgraced journamalistic asshole Mark Halperin described as “The Gang of 500”—the 500 people in D.C. who matter, or who mattered to the then-political director of ABC News.2
The review is a good, quick read. Check it out.
“Only months before the rescue talk began, the bank waged a battle to deter federal banking regulators from considering stronger measures to prepare for the potential failures of regional banks like First Republic.”
The Lever has the story on the teetering bank’s efforts to torpedo new regulations which would require banks like it to hold sufficient reserves to either ride out a run and avoid collapse, or close its doors without requiring federal intervention.3
A 2018 regulatory rollback reduced many requirements on regional banks, including that they draw up annual plans, known as “living wills,” to safely wind down failing banks. But as those banks rapidly ballooned in size, federal regulators solicited public comment last fall on whether additional precautions were needed to limit the risk of financial contagion in the event of “uninsured depositors suffering loss” at one bank.
That is the very prospect now facing customers of First Republic, about two-thirds of whose deposits are uninsured because they surpass the $250,000 guaranteed by the federal government.
It’s like history doesn’t exist for the people who run these banks, and the people who entrust their uninsured deposits to the banks. Lever reporter Rebecca Burns notes that First Republic has something in common with the recently bailed out Silicon Valley Bank.
First Republic and SVB share another key commonality: They both had assets sitting just below the $250 billion threshold at which banks are subject to annual stress tests and other enhanced regulations.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law set that threshold at $50 billion, but a 2018 bipartisan deregulatory law raised it. SVB CEO Greg Becker personally pressed Congress to reduce scrutiny of regional banks like his own, as The Lever reported earlier this month.
Happenstance, one guesses. Coincidence.
You’ll note that the unraveling of Dodd-Frank has been a bipartisan effort all along. The law was passed less than 15 years ago in the wake of a devastating financial collapse, but a lot of people have no use for it, many of them in Halperin’s Gang of 500. It’s overused, but Upton Sinclair’s (no longer gender-excusive) aphorism remains on the money and always will: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
“Under His wings,” one lobbyist wrote in an email. “The Devil never sleeps”
Vice News has a story, reported elsewhere first but I’m pressed for time, about a widespread effort—a holy war, in Vice’s estimation—to eliminate trans people, or at least keep them safely in a dark corner somewhere. The plot, which is what it is, is documented in a trove of leaked emails.4
The emails, which are available online for journalists and others to read and were first reported on by Mother Jones, include revelations about some of the ways that anti-trans lobbyists—and elected Republicans like Deutsch and Idaho Rep. Julianne Young—collaborate and strategize to write and endorse policies that directly target trans people on a national scale.
I thought I read a story recently about Vice getting their plug pulled, but evidently the day hasn’t yet dawned. Regardless, this story is infuriating, and illustrative of Niemöller’s “First they came for” poem. We have a fascist infestation.
A little mellow music, mostly
That, Comrades, is all there is
Still out wandering; hence a bit rushed. If you like the stuff here, please share it. If you’ve not already, please consider subscribing—it’s free unless you want to pay.
Be well, take care.