Let’s Have a Show of Hands
Some modest suggestions for the GOP debate.
Welcome to roiling, boiling Milwaukee, where the temperatures are expected to hit 99 degrees as the GOP candidates (sans Trump) arrive to take the stage for their first debate.
The state of play:
The former president will be absent, prepping for his fourth perp walk Thursday. He now faces 91 felony charges and will counterprogram the Fox News debate with a recorded mutual tongue-bath with former TV guy Tucker Carlson on X. The accused felon leads the GOP field by 40 points.
The guy in distant second place, Ron DeSantis, is still trying to explain that leaked memo suggesting that he defend Trump, attack the Hindu guy, and try to act like an actual human bring.
The hot newcomer with the momentum, Vivek Ramaswamy, is tangled up in his suggestion that 9/11 was an inside job. Despite his attempts to laugh it off, and deny he ever said what he said, there are tapes. So it’s likely to come up tonight.
There will be eight (8) candidates on the stage, so they will have on average about 12.5 minutes each in which to have a breakout, viral moment to make everyone forget about DJT.
NIKKI HALEY will likely hit VIVEK RAMASWAMY over his isolationist-like foreign policy views. MIKE PENCE will lean into his own role on Jan. 6 and chide an absent DONALD TRUMP for putting personal self-interest ahead of the Constitution. CHRIS CHRISTIE will go after everyone and their mother. TIM SCOTT will more than likely be his authentic Mr. Congeniality self, with his aww-shucks-like quips and references to Scripture. And DeSantis will be taking incoming fire from all sides.
“It’s impossible to overstate how surreal this moment is that the former president of the United States will be perp walked for the fourth time, will face a more than a dozen new felony charges, will have his mugshot taken, will be out on bail and yet is by far the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States.
“We have been numbed and battered and bruised for the last eight years but this is an extraordinary moment, the split screen in American politics where you have these Republican candidates running for president over here, Donald Trump facing more felonies, and Republican voters looking at that and going, yeah, we’re pretty much OK with the guy – orange is the new black.”
Happy debate pre-perp walk day.
A modest suggestion
Tonight’s moderators face an unenviable task. Time is at a premium and they will have to find way to cut through the prepackaged talking points and stump-speech blather.
Getting straight, defining answers will be a challenge.
So I offer a modest suggestion. How about asking a series of direct yes-or-no questions and ask for a show of hands. A short (and admittedly only partial list) of possibilities:
Please raise your hand if you:
Believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election?
Trust Vladimir Putin more than U.S. intelligence services?
Think Mike Pence did the right thing on January 6th?
See how this would go? How about a show of hands from the candidates on whether they would:
Support defunding the special counsel investigation into Donald Trump?
Support a convicted felon for president of the United States?
Pardon Donald Trump if he is convicted of any and all crimes, including felonies if he is convicted by a jury?
Ban Muslims entering the country?
Sign a nationwide six-week abortion ban? (Yes or no, please.)
Think Russia’s war on Ukraine is just a “territorial dispute”?
Withdraw the United States from NATO?
Think climate change is a hoax? (After mentioning temperature outside.)
Again, let’s have a show on hands. How many of you:
Think 9/11 may have been an inside job?
Think 1/6 was an inside job?
(Make sure you read the Wapo’s Philip Bump here: “The inevitable overlap of Jan. 6 and 9/11 trutherism.”)
Feel free to add your own suggestions here:
Our Surreal Moment
Crazy and Cruel
We’re not lawyers, but this seems like a BFD. “Witness in Trump docs case changed testimony after switching lawyers, special counsel says.”
A key witness against former President Donald Trump and his two co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago documents case recanted previous false testimony and provided new information implicating the defendants after he switched lawyers, special counsel Jack Smith’s office said in a new court filing.
Yuscil Taveras, the director of information technology at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's club in Palm Beach, Florida, changed his testimony last month about efforts to delete security camera video at the club after he changed from a lawyer paid for by Trump’s Save America PAC to a public defender, Tuesday's filing says.
[The] Govt’s filing yesterday in USA v Trump (MAL) is devastating. It was responding to Judge Cannon’s inquiry—acting on her own—suggesting there was something abusive about govt’s continued use of DC grand jury after M-a-L indictment was handed down.
It all began when the govt asked for a hearing on whether atty Stanley Woodward had a conflict of interest because he (a) reps def Nauta; (b) previously rep’d Trump Employee 4 (Yuscil Taveras)—now a govt witness vs. Nauta et al—& (c) reps two other potential witnesses. ...
... Govt tried to accompany that motion with a sealed filing discreetly explaining the potential conflicts, but Judge Cannon—acting on her own—instantly struck it & then demanded to know why DC grand jury was still sitting ...
On Cannon’s cue, Woodward accused the special counsel of trying to “diminish [Cannon’s] authority” by abusively using DC grand jury to gather evidence for an already indicted case. ...
... Woodward also asked to strike former client Yuscil Taveras’ proposed incriminating testimony against his current client Nauta to preserve integrity of proceedings & Nauta’s right to counsel of his choice. ...
... Yesterday—Cannon having giving it no choice but to outline Woodward’s potential conflicts on the record— govt provided the extraordinary & damning timeline. ...
.. In Mar 2023, govt called Taveras—then rep’d by Woodward—before DC grand jury. Beforehand, govt warned Woodward of a potential conflict, but Woodward said he knew of none. Taveras then perjured self, denying discussing destroying video surveillance footage with De Oliveira.
... Govt notes in passing that Taveras had been referred to Woodward by a Trump lawyer and his fees were then being paid by Trump’s Save America PAC. ...
On June 8 the Florida grand jury handed first USA v Trump (MAL) indictment. It did *not* yet name De Oliveira or Taveras. On June 20 govt advised Taveras, thru Woodward, that he was the target of perjury investigation in DC—where the perjury occurred. ...
Govt says the target letter “crystallized” Woodward’s conflict, because having Taveras correct his g.j. testimony, to avoid prosecution, would implicate Nauta, Woodward’s other client.
.. Woodward still declined to recognize a conflict, insisting that, per govt, Taveras could choose to tough out his indictment by going to trial and hoping for the best. He said he’d also told Taveras of his right to cooperate, too.
On Jun 27 govt asked for a conflicts hearing before chief judge Boasberg in DC, who supervises the DC grand jury, where the perjury occurred. Govt advised Judge Cannon same day in sealed filings. Woodward did *not* object. ...
Judge Boasberg asked an independent counsel, Shelli Peterson of DC Federal Public Defenders, to advise Taveras on potential conflicts. Taveras asked Peterson to represent him and then retracted his false testimony, implicating Nauta, De O, & Trump, per govt.
Govt cites numerous binding federal appellate precedents allowing grand juries to investigate “other persons” not named in an existing indictment or to explore “additional charges” against existing defs. All seem to be apply here.
Govt notes that it could find no precedent in which a district judge struck incriminating testimony against a defendant in order to protect that def’s “right to counsel of his choice”—except one case in which the judge was overturned on appeal for having done so. ...
Pretty powerful filing, IMHO. Unnecessarily embarrassing to Woodward, Nauta, De Oliveira, Trump—and Judge Cannon.
This also seems like a good time to re-up Carl Sagan’s uncanny prediction from 1995. (It appears in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.)
I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), the lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
1. Culture Warriors: GOP Hypocrisy and Lies About the Armed Forces
The party of “national security” is subordinating military readiness to snowflake cultural sensitivities. Specifically, Republicans are demanding that military personnel who refused orders to get vaccinated against COVID during the pandemic—and were discharged for their defiance—should be reinstated with back pay.
At the same time, many of these politicians are calling for a ban on transgender service members. They’re pretending that the “woke mind virus” is a threat to military preparedness, but an actual virus isn’t. These Republicans aren’t serious about preparing for a real war. To them, the armed forces are just another battleground in the culture war.
2. Debunked: Man Who Murdered California Store Owner Over Gay Pride Flag Was Not Her Brother
The actual suspect, who has since been named by police, was 27-year-old Travis Ikeguchi. He is not related to Carleton. Instead, he is what you might expect.
Ikeguchi’s social media feed is littered with anti-gay posts. He pinned a picture of the rainbow flag engulfed in flames, posted that people should “stop compromising on this LGBT dictatorship,” and frequently reposted right-wing media figures such as Dinesh D’Souza and Matt Walsh. Shocker.