Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Retribution Execution, Con't

Team Trump has finally lost patience with House GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and unless he can get out of this hole quickly with the Tangerine Tyrant, he may not be Speaker of the House of much longer.
The former president embraced McCarthy — once dubbed a “RINO” by conservatives — during his time in the White House, elevating the California Republican as he feuded with other GOP congressional leaders. He personally intervened in January to ensure McCarthy won his dream job, ultimately convincing his critics to stand down amid a battle for the speakership.

And just a few weeks ago, Trump notably kept quiet about the debt ceiling deal McCarthy struck with President JOE BIDEN — a major, and intentional, boost for the speaker that was crucial in ensuring the deal could withstand a conservative pile-on.

That’s why it came as a shock yesterday when McCarthy dissed Trump in a CNBC interview, openly questioning whether Trump would be Republicans’ best presidential nominee in 2024 after carefully avoiding the topic for months.

“Can he win that election? Yeah, he can win that election,” McCarthy said, referring to a Biden-Trump matchup. “The question is: ‘Is he the strongest to win the election?’ I don’t know that answer.”

Unsurprisingly, Trump world flipped out. We’re told top aides to the former president and allies who know both men quickly traded messages asking, in short: What the fuck? Some called McCarthy a “moron,” we’re told. Others looked to Trump campaign hand BRIAN JACK, who also advises the speaker and has been a critical bridge between both men, to play mediator as Trump hit the trail in New Hampshire.

McCarthy immediately pivoted into clean-up mode. He called Trump to apologize, according to the NYT’s Annie Karni. He offered Trump-loving Breitbart reporter Matt Boyle an exclusive interview, where he walked the comments back and accused the media of taking them out of context.

“Trump is stronger today than he was in 2016,” McCarthy told Boyle.

This morning, we can report that none of these moves have assuaged the fury in Trump’s inner circle. McCarthy, they feel, has taken advantage of the former president when it benefits him and failed to show unflinching loyalty in return. They don’t understand how he could “misspeak” — as McCarthy, we’re told, put it to Trump — on something so critical.

In fact, McCarthy’s damage control made things worse. After the debacle yesterday, the speaker’s campaign allies pushed out fundraising emails and texts claiming, “Trump is the STRONGEST opponent to Biden!” — then asking for money.

Fundraising off of Trump’s name without permission is a huge no-no for the former president, whose team requires explicit approval for any campaign to use his name and likeness. Trump’s team, we’re told, asked McCarthy’s last night to take down the fundraising pitch.

Now, it’s not the first time McCarthy has been crosswise with Trump. Shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection, McCarthy floated the idea of censuring Trump for his actions and was later caught on tape discussing the idea of asking Trump to resign. Yet the two continued their symbiotic bond: McCarthy quickly assumed a key role in restoring Trump’s prominence in the GOP, and Trump stayed in McCarthy’s corner as he battled for the gavel.

But yesterday’s drama came at a sensitive moment, with a major question already bouncing around Trump world: Why hasn’t McCarthy endorsed Trump?

While it’s unclear if Trump has explicitly asked McCarthy for his support, his silence on the matter has baffled the former president and his close allies.

McCarthy has told some Trump backers that he’s holding off because an endorsement “might hurt” Trump by tying him to the party establishment, according to one GOP campaign consultant who asked not to be named. He’s also suggested that as the highest-ranking Republican in office, just two heartbeats away from the presidency, perhaps he should stay neutral.

But Trump’s allies aren’t buying that. The former president, the thinking goes, will never allow McCarthy to stay on the sidelines in a nasty GOP primary and expects his full support, something many of them think he’ll get eventually — and perhaps, now, sooner rather than later.

“At what point is it okay for Kevin McCarthy not to endorse Trump?” the consultant above asked. “Donald Trump has been very good to Kevin McCarthy.”

Yesterday’s brouhaha also raised questions about how long Trump should — or would — support McCarthy.

Many of the ex-president’s strongest allies in Congress have been stacking up their grievances against McCarthy, waiting for the right moment to make a move. Several would be more than happy to force a vote to oust the speaker if Trump wanted — and Trump knows that.

“If Donald Trump wanted … he could have him out as speaker by the end of the week,” the GOP consultant said
Now, a large part of this is Team WIN THE MORNING high school kabuki bullshit.
But not all of it. 
McCarthy already has had to deal with several of his caucus supporting Ron DeSantis, most notably my own Congressman, Thomas Massie, who took his Rules Commitee slot and then jumped the Trump ship. McCarthy endorsing Trump could cost him his job. 
But Trump wants results: impeachments of Biden, VP Harris, several cabinet members, and more, expungements of his own impeachments (ahich actually aren't a thing but hey) and most of all for McCarthy to directly interfere with Jack Smith's investigation and indictments, and McCarthy can't deliver on those.

Personally I'd love to see this fight go public and for Trump to call for McCarthy's ouster, and if that actually happens, woo boy. Whether or not McCarthy can continue walking a greased tightrope in a hurricane is anyone's guess. He's made it to the six-month mark. But if Trump wants him gone and names, say, Elise Stefanik as his favored replacement, well, get the popcorn.

We all know how Trump treats his contractors and lackies in the end.

Striking Out In Hollywood

The Writers Guild of America is continuing to strike against Hollywood studios and streaming giants in order to secure benefits and pay, and with no end to the conflict in sight, it's looking like the Screen Actors Guild will be joining writers on the picket line at the end of the week.
EARLIER THIS MONTH, members of the Screen Actors Guild voted to authorize a strike if their negotiating committee doesn’t reach an agreement on a new contract with major Hollywood studios by June 30. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher released a video message this week with an update on the negotiations, telling members, “We are having an [sic] extremely productive negotiations that are laser focused on all of the crucial issues you told us are most important to you. We’re standing strong and we are going to achieve a seminal deal.”

But the message didn’t sit right with a lot of actors who are urging SAG not to settle for a deal that doesn’t represent all of their demands. More than 300 actors signed a letter addressed to the SAG-AFTRA Leadership and Negotiating Committee that’s circulating and was allegedly sent to leadership expressing their concern with the idea that “SAG-AFTRA members may be ready to make sacrifices that leadership is not.”

“We hope you’ve heard the message from us: This is an unprecedented inflection point in our industry, and what might be considered a good deal in any other years is simply not enough,” the letter, obtained by Rolling Stone, says. “We feel that our wages, our craft, our creative freedom, and the power of our union have all been undermined in the last decade. We need to reverse those trajectories.”

The message was signed by hundreds of members, including Hollywood stars like Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Rami Malek, Quinta Brunson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ben Stiller, Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Schumer, and Amy Poehler.

Representatives for SAG-AFTRA didn’t immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

With just days left to make a deal before their contract with Hollywood studios, streamers, and production companies runs out, everyone who signed the letter says they’re “prepared to strike if it comes to that,” even though it’s not preferable because it “brings incredible hardships to so many, and no one wants it.” The members addressed a number of issues that are important to them when it comes to negotiations, including minimum pay, residuals that consider the growth of streaming, healthcare, pensions, and regulation around how self-tapes are used in the casting process.
The elephant in the room of course is AI.
It's already possible for folks to use AI to copy voices and likenesses of actors. as well as using it to write dialogue, scripts, and stories. Hollywood's entire creative industry is headed for a cliff as people can increasingly bring their fanfiction stories to life. What was a cautionary tale four years ago and a warning siren two years ago is now a full-fledged red alert in 2023, especially as more and more media giants are burying old shows to avoid paying license fees and residuals to creatives.

This all points to Hollywood studios going virtual across the entire industry and very soon, taking likenesses and voices of famous actors and making movies without actual people in them. Hell, we already have at least one Marvel show using an entirely AI-generated opening sequence.

This is going to be a hell of a fight in the months and years ahead.

I'd go on strike too.

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