Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy

Hats off to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for personally negotiating the details of the debt deal with Joe Biden and then delivering 149 Republicans to vote for it.

He fell one short of achieving his 150 GOP vote goal.

The final tally of 314 to 117 wasn’t even close and was anti-climactic considering the media drama that played out during the run-up to the vote.

News outlets gave relentless coverage to the hard-right members of the House Freedom Caucus like Rep. Chip Roy (TX), Dan Bishop (NC) and Ken Buck (CO) who skewered the debt deal. The Caucus called the deal “a complete debacle” and refers to it as the “swamp deal.”

Right-wing GOPers now turn their sights on ousting McCarthy from the Speaker post.

Following the vote, Roy promised “a reckoning about what just happened.” More breathless media hype is expected.

The nation would be better served by having the media provide coverage to more moderate Republicans rather than focusing exclusively on the bomb-throwers on the right and left.

Who are the 149 Republicans who voted to prevent a disastrous national default and global recession?

Good luck keeping your job, Kev.

DEI dealt blow. The diversity, equity and inclusion industry, which exploded in growth following the murder of George Floyd, is at its worst expensive and runs from useless to counterproductive, according to a tough article in The Atlantic written by Conor Friedersdorf.

He notes the irony of the DEI link for Floyd. “A poor Black man’s death became a pretext to sell consulting services to corporations, as if billions in outlays, mostly among privileged corporate workers, was an apt and equitable response.”

Rather than tackling the issues that led to his death (police violence, gun crime, drug addiction, poverty, unemployment), DEI trainings are held for “mostly college graduates with full-time jobs and health insurance, as if by chance the marginalized will somehow benefit.

“But in fact, the poor, or the marginalized, or people of color, or descendants of slaves, would benefit far more from a fraction of the DEI industry’s profits.”

Friedersdorf wrote that the professional class should feel good about having done something for social justice not after conducting or attending a DEI session, but after giving money to poor people.

That’s the best way to honor the memory of Floyd.

Dream on… Philip Morris International CEO Jacek Olczak says the company, which sold 621M cigarettes during 2022, is on track to becoming an ESG stock.

He wants investors to start talking up PMI’s revenues from its line of vapor-based nicotine alternatives, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Smoke-free products generated only 35 percent of PMI’s $31.8B revenues during the past year.

Cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths. The American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer caused more deaths in the US in 2020 than breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined.

Eighty percent of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking.

Stamford-based PMI has spent $10.5B since 2008 in developing and commercializing smoke-free products.

On May 23, Olczak told the UnHerd Club in London that cigarettes belong in museums and called on governments to give adult smokers a wide choice of smoke-free alternatives, saying historical tobacco-control measures aren’t working fast enough and may actually prolong smoking.

The reality: more than one billion people around the world use tobacco.

PMI products are sold in 180 markets and the company holds the No. 1 or No. 2 market share in most countries.

The company reported robust cigarette shipments to India, Indonesia, Egypt, Poland and Italy during the past year.

As long as PMI markets its Marlboro, Parliament, L&M, Bond Street, Lark, Chesterfield, Philip Morris and Merit brands, Olczak is just blowing smoke about being considered an ESG company.

Rather than pulling the pulling the plug on cigarette marketing, Olczak told the London club: “When governments and organizations that lobby them—prevent men and women who continue to smoke from accessing less harmful alternatives, and when they perpetuate misinformation about these products, it has a direct correlation to the persistence of smoking.”

That is just passing the buck.

A model for PR content providers... The San Francisco-based Center for AI Safety scored the biggest PR hit of the week with its May 30 warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Containing only 22 words, the one-sentence statement received global coverage.

It did include high-impact words such as “risk of extinction,” “pandemics” and “nuclear war.”

More than 350 scientists, AI researchers signed the statement.

The CAIS was wise not to sketch out various scenarios for an out-of-control AI. For instance, it could have made a reference to HAL, the robot in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," who refused to open the pod-bay doors for astronaut Dave. But that would have diluted CAIS' overall message.

The Center noted that AI experts, journalists, policymakers and the public are discussing the important and urgent risks from AI.

The statement was designed to open up the discussion and show the world that top researchers and scientists take the threat posed by AI very seriously.

CAIS certainly stayed on message and got its point across.