Dumb & Dumber Pt. 1 — Forgive Us Our Debts
Hitler is making a comeback! Who knew that college campuses and Neo-Nazis could find so much common ground?
In a month when an astonishing number of people support Holocaust 2.0, and while innocent Palestinians are being used as human shields (and Egypt refuses to let them in), there’s been a tidal wave of horror and stupidity.
Dumb & Dumber focuses on the stupidity, because the horror is unspeakable.
Once again, there’s too much to talk about, so I’m breaking this up into two parts — quick hits today, followed by the actual D&D list tomorrow.
Here we go.
— Musk-e-tears! The big banks that loaned Elon Musk $13 billion to help finance his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter expected to offload that debt to investors months ago. Well, put a big X on that balance sheet. Given Musk’s management style and a plunge in ad revenues, no one wants to buy the debt, so the banks are stuck with loans that they probably provided at special terms with lower interest rates. Doh! Now the Wall Street Journal reports that the banks — including Bank of America and Morgan Stanley — are preparing to sell the debt at a $2 billion loss.
— Americans are often told we need to worry about the deficit, but no one ever takes it seriously. We just keep printing more money. The amount of annual government borrowing has leapt to 6.3% of US GDP. Meantime, the amount that Greece owes only adds up to 1.6% of GDP. Yes, GREECE, the poster child for bad financial behavior.
— The Pentagon keeps spending taxpayer dollars on the most expensive military program in history. The F-35 — a super cool and versatile jet facing a trove of technical issues that have often kept it from flying “fully mission capable” — is (inhale) getting more expensive. Back in 2001, when Lockheed Martin won the contract to build the next-generation fighter, the fleet was supposed to cost $233 billion. That’s now nearly doubled to $438 billion. When you add in maintenance and other costs over the projected life of the program, the total price tag is $1.7 trillion. That’s $5,000 from every American, including the kids. For one plane. Worth it? Let’s hope we never have to find out.
— Speaking of planes, sheesh. I’d rather fly an F-35 across the country than a commercial aircraft. It’s not just the off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot trying to take down an airplane after consuming magic mushrooms “for the first time.” It’s not even the JetBlue Airbus tipping back on its tail as passengers deplaned.
I’m not even gonna bore you with how understaffed air traffic controllers are, with more than a half dozen near-misses at U.S. airports this year, while planes keep running into each other.
No, here’s what got my attention this month.
The airlines are so busy trying to churn out new pilots to replace old ones that you gotta wonder who’s coming out of flight school. One student at an international flight academy in Florida allegedly sabotaged 10 aircraft after being denied the opportunity to fly solo. (Hmmm, Florida flight academy, international students, I feel like this should ring a bell.) The student was “visiting the United States,” (RED ALERT, RED ALERT), and the local sheriff says “something terrible could’ve happened” if the damage hadn’t been discovered.
— Thank goodness that the registered trademarks for “Taco Tuesday®” have finally been lifted so we can all use it. Taco Bell filed legal paperwork against two smaller restaurants that had trademarked the phrase, but they gave up after Taco Bell successfully argued that Taco Tuesday “should belong to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos.” Nothing says “America®” like a legal fight over tacos.
— Penn scientist Katalin Karikó doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She can be blunt and quick to point out errors in the work of others. She championed mRNA research even though few believed in it. Penn demoted her, and she had trouble winning grants. This month Karikó won the Nobel Prize for medicine along with her collaborator, immunologist Drew Weissman. Their work led to Covid vaccines, and who knows what else? The University of Pennsylvania has made millions off her work, and now it suddenly loves her! A far different attitude than it had in 2013, when Karikó left the university to go work in the private sector. As she walked out of her lab for the last time, she told her boss, “In the future, this lab will be a museum. Don’t touch it.” My kinda gal.
— Meantime, this month’s Dumb&Dumber Chutzpah Award® goes to Universal Meditech, the illegal and secretive lab allegedly containing various viruses — including Covid — run by Chinese nationals in Fresno. The company has filed $80 million in lawsuits against the city and county, demanding compensation for destroyed biological agents and lab mice.
— GM is cruisin’ for a bruisin’. The company has lost $1.9 BILLION on Cruise, the driverless taxi project now on hiatus after losing its permit to operate in California. “The DMV said that Cruise’s vehicles aren’t safe for public operation and the company has misrepresented information related to the safety of the technology of the vehicles,” reports the Wall Street Journal. That “safety” includes a Cruise robo-taxi coming to rest on top of a woman it hit.
— California home prices have officially jumped the shark. A San Jose home raided by the FBI for being a drug hub is on the market for $1.5 million. Potential buyers can’t even enter the premises yet until everything’s cleaned up. “Home has inactive Meth lab and meth contamination,” reads the Zillow listing.
— The 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles will include flag football. Can pickleball, cornhole and professional slapping be far behind?
— Speaking of the Olympics, I’m happy to read that Mary Lou Retton is recovering from a dangerous and rare form of pneumonia.
That said, I’m surprised she didn’t have health insurance. Here’s a woman who seemed to be everywhere after the 1984 Olympics. She’s continued to make commercials over the years, including ads for menopause products and a brand new one promoting Colonial Penn Life Insurance. Yet this American icon had to resort to online fundraising to cover her hospital bills.
Health insurance is expensive, but her financial planning isn’t winning gold.
— Finally, fights breaking out at Disneyland are becoming a thing. Maybe because the Magic Kingdom has gotten so expensive.
Had enough? I’m just getting started. Tune in tomorrow for October’s Dumb & Dumber winners — Shirtless CEOs, Barbie “Scabs,” and more Hitler!
(Correction: a previous version of this article said U.S. debt equals 6.3% of GDP instead of annual borrowing.)