Thursday/ another credibility implosion ☄️

So Nikki Haley* will vote for Trump, she said on Wednesday. She had called him ‘bad’, ‘unqualified to be President’, ‘do not trust him’ blah blah blah.

She didn’t bother to wait for the outcome of Trump’s first criminal trial— 34 felony counts over allegations that he falsified business records to conceal a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. (Closing arguments for Trump’s case are on Tue May 28 and then the case goes to the jury).

*Former governor of South Carolina, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, and the last remaining challenger to Trump in the 2024 Republican primaries until she dropped out of the race after Super Tuesday in March.

Cartoon by Michael Ramirez/Las Vegas Review-Journal for The Washington Post.

Friday/ lost in cyberspace 👨‍🚀

Happy Friday.
Joe Biden arrived in Seattle late in the afternoon.
I hope he raises lots of money for his campaign because he might (will?) need it.

I have had no internet all day, and it is still out. (There is an outage in my neighborhood).
Plan B is to use my mobile phone as a hotspot, which I did, until AT&T texted me late morning and said I had used 75% of my hotspot data for the month.
I guess I will go read  a book now and go to bed early.

YouTube letting me know that I am offline. Yes, that’s how it feels.

Wednesday/ here’s May 😉

The Federal Reserve has signalled that a series of disappointing inflation readings are likely to mean US borrowing costs remain higher for longer.
The Federal Reserve bank held interest rates at 5.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent, a 23-year high that has been in place since the summer of 2023.
– Reporting from the Financial Times


So – six months to go to the 2024 general election here in the United States.
Will a convicted felon be on the ballot for President of the United States?
Will the Fed have started to cut interest rates by then?
Will the Israeli hostages be free— and the war in Gaza be over?
What about the war in Ukraine? (I don’t think so).
Will the highly pathogenic bird flu virus A(H5N1) have mutated and become a threat to humans?

Thursday/ about presidential immunity 😇

[Picture: apnews.com]
The long-awaited hearing about Trump’s claim to ‘presidential immunity’ was held before the Not-So-Supreme-Anymore US Supreme Court today.
(Trump’s lawyers are arguing— implausibly— that the federal charges accusing him of plotting to overturn the 2020 election must be thrown out.
There is no mention of immunity in the US Constitution.
The country had been doing just fine for 248 years).

Here are excerpts of a report from Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer in the New York Times:
Several justices seemed to want to define some level of official act as immune.
The arguments signaled further delay and complications for a Trump trial.
The hearing revolved around two very different ways of looking at the issue, one from the conservative justices (some immunity may be needed) and another from the liberal justices (no absolute immunity).
What happens next?
There did not seem to be a lot of urgency among the justices — especially the conservative ones — to ensure that the immunity question was resolved quickly.
That left open the possibility that Mr. Trump could avoid being tried on charges of plotting to overturn the last election until well after voters went to the polls to decide whether to choose him as president in this election.
And if he is elected, any trial could be put off while he is in office, or he could order the charges against him dropped.

Thursday/ the jury is seated 🧑‍⚖️

The jury is seated, in the first-ever criminal trial for a US president (or former president).

Headlines from The Washington Post.
Someone pointed out that the media loves to call it the ‘Hush Money Case’ but it’s really about so much more than that— the payments were made to enable Trump to salvage enough of his tattered reputation in order to win the 2016 election.
So it is really an ‘Election  Fraud Case’: breaking federal election laws in the state of New York. (And only the first of FOUR criminal cases against Trump). 
This 77-year old man, the Republican party’s candidate for US president— that should have been barred from being a candidate— is finally in court, and facing very serious and very credible accusations of campaign contribution crimes.  
It is already 6 years after Trump’s right-hand man Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty in August 2018 to the two relevant campaign finance charges.
In 2016, Cohen orchestrated a payment from American Media Inc. to Playboy model Karen McDougal, and made an excessive ‘campaign contribution’ for a $140k payment to Stormy Daniels.

Wednesday/ birds of a feather 🐦

South African Constitution (1996) Art. 47.1.e. 
1. Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly, except ­..
e. anyone who, after this section took effect, is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic, or outside the Republic if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic, but no one may be regarded as having been sentenced until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired. A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed.


This year, general elections will be held in South Africa on 29 May to elect a new National Assembly as well as the provincial legislature in each province.

It’s been 30 years since Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first democratic president. The African National Congress has in been in power all this time.

Let’s just say that after Mandela left office in 1999, the ANC has not exactly covered themselves in glory.
Jacob Zuma (elected in 2009) and his ANC cronies in particular, engaged in racketeering, money laundering, and fraud on a grand scale.

Zuma spent time in jail 2021, but only two months of his full sentence of 15 months.  This was due to a ‘remission’ program approved by the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa (the equivalent of a ‘pardon’ in the US).

Now 82 years old, Zuma is back in politics. He wants to become president again.
South Africa’s election court ruled that he cannot be disqualified by the 12 month rule in Art. 47.1.e. of the South African constitution.

Cartoon of an imagined phone call between candidates for presidential elections in America and in South Africa.
Zuma broke from the ANC and is the de facto leader of a brand-new political party called uMkhonto weSizwe (abbr. MKP,  and meaning ‘Spear of the Nation’).
Here’s Antony Sguazzin reporting for bloomberg.com:
Support for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is plunging and a party backed by former President Jacob Zuma may become the country’s third-biggest after next month’s election, a new opinion poll shows. The ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid, may garner just 37% of the vote on May 29, while Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MKP, may get 13%, the Social Research Foundation said in comments sent to Bloomberg on Wednesday, citing a poll it carried out this month.
[Cartoon by Niel van Vuuren for Beeld newspaper]

Thursday/ a text from a strange number 😠

DSCC stands for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
They should write it out to make the message appear less cryptic, no?
I wonder where they got my phone number.
And why is the link for a Yes or a No reply the same?
That looks suspicious.
Maybe they are phishing for me to confirm my phone number, even if I text back STOP?
No. I’m not responding.

I think the Biden-Harris Administration should do much more to stop Israel from killing and starving Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
But whoever the Democratic candidate for President in the 2024 General Election will be (Joe Biden most likely, of course) already has my vote.

But here came a text Tuesday and again today, wanting me to say if I ‘approve’ of Joe Biden.

The problem is that I assume that texts from strange phone numbers out of the blue are spam. Even after checking online and on Twitter, I’m not 100% sure this one is not.

 

Friday 🥊

Happy Friday.

Cartoon by Seattle Times cartoonist David Horsey.
That’s Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson behind President Joe Biden, of course.

Super Tuesday 🗳️

Millions of Americans in 15 states and one territory went to the polls today for primary contests that will set the stage for November’s elections. We call it Super Tuesday because it’s the busiest voting day before November, and typically it plays a central role in the presidential nomination process.
This year, however, is different. President Biden faces no major challengers, making him a lock to win every Democratic primary. Donald Trump is competing only against the dwindling campaign of Nikki Haley, whom he is expected to defeat in most or all of today’s contests.
– Matthew Cullen writing for the New York Times


So: no surprises out of Super Tuesday, really. (Haley eked out a win in Vermont, but that was it).
The 2024 presidential election that nobody had wanted (a Biden-Trump rematch) is still on track for November.

Friday/ my vote is in 📬

Happy Friday.
Time marches on for 2024, and my vote for the Washington State Presidential Primary election is in the mail.
I voted for Biden.
For me as a 2024 Democrat, it is unthinkable to vote for an independent or a  Republican candidate.
That said, the primary election ballot has an ‘Uncommitted’ option on the Democratic side, and some Democrats tick this box to protest against Biden for not opposing the Israel response to the Hamas terrorist attacks more fiercely.

This political cartoon by Thomas Nast, taken from a 1879 edition of Harper’s Weekly, was an early use of the elephant and the donkey to symbolize the Republican and Democratic parties.
[Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images]
My voters’ pamphlet has pictures and profiles of all the Democratic and Republican candidates. Most of the candidates have dropped out already, even though we only have primary election results for 6 states.

Saturday/ karma?

kar·ma
/ˈkärmə/
noun
(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
“a buddha is believed to have completely purified his karma”
INFORMAL
destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.
“there’s something highly satisfying when karma strikes”

A measure of justice for the fraudster and his organization, finally.
It’s only February of 2024, though. The trials for the four criminal cases against citizen Trump are yet to start: the Federal Jan. 6 Case, the Election Interference Case in Georgia, the Classified Documents Case in Florida and the Manhattan Hush-Money Case (2016 election fraud).
As front-runner for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States, Trump has already raided the coffers of the Republican National Committee and his own 2024 campaign fund to the tune of $50 million for legal fees.

Tuesday/ no immunity for you (duh)🗽

‘Today, we affirm the denial. For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution’.
– From today’s 57-page ruling from the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.


What happens next?
The original March 4 start date for Trump’s Jan 6 Insurrection trial had already been pushed back to at least May.
If the Supreme Court judges takes their sweet time, their ruling might not come until the end of the term— in late June or early July.
The Republican National Convention is July 15-18.
Will a convicted-felon-in-the-making be anointed as the Republican party’s Presidential candidate for the November 2024 election?

Tuesday/ another stop-gap funding bill 🏦

Speaker Mike Johnson was forced on Tuesday to rely on Democratic votes as the House passed legislation to keep federal funding flowing into early 2024, after scores of Republicans opposed his plan to avert a government shutdown at the end of the week.

Almost all Democrats and a majority of Republicans overcame the opposition of G.O.P. conservatives to approve the bill under special expedited procedures that required a supermajority. That approach, hatched by Mr. Johnson in his first weeks as speaker, amounted to a gamble that a substantial number of Democrats would rally to help pass a package that Mr. Johnson’s own members were unwilling to back.
-Catie Edmondson reporting from Capitol Hill for the New York Times


Yay! The government will stay open for the rest of the year and into 2024.
Boo! As someone in the comments section of this article says: ‘How is our government supposed to take care of “the people’s business” when it can’t even keep its own business open for more than a few weeks at a time?’

Thursday/ toast? 🍞

In a 79-page filing, Smith’s team articulated its clearest case yet for Trump’s prosecution, repeatedly characterizing Trump’s false claims of election fraud as knowing lies aimed at defrauding election officials — from secretaries of state and governors to his own vice president, Mike Pence. Smith also indicated he intends to introduce evidence in Trump’s March trial that Trump stoked the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and then used it to further his effort to derail Congress’ proceedings that day. Prosecutors say they will rely on Trump’s promise to pardon many of the rioters, his description of Jan. 6 as a “beautiful day” and his decision to record a song with some of the violent offenders imprisoned in the Washington, D.C., jail.
-Kyle Cheney reporting for Politico on Mon 11/6


Trump had one of his stupid ‘campaign’ rallies during last night’s Republican debate (one photo shows a large section of the stands at his rally that is almost empty).

If one reads just the index of Special Prosecutor Jack Smith’s now-published rebuttal of the motions made by Trump’s legal team to get the Jan. 6 allegations dismissed against him, it’s very hard to imagine Trump is going to survive all of this to stand as the 2024 Republican candidate for president. This trial is set to start in March 2024. Yes, it will go on for several months while the presidential primary elections happen. The images and evidence of the Jan. 6 violence will again be front and center on televisions with Trump in court, accused— with hard evidence to back it up— of being the instigator, turning a blind eye when the assault on the Capitol started, and in fact, trying to go there.

Wednesday/ more pointless debating 🤪

Tonight, the night after the 2023 elections in which the Republicans had lost most of the races that had drawn national interest*, there was another (mostly pointless) Republican Party presidential debate.

Two highlights:
Nikki Haley called Ron DeSantis ‘scum’ after he called out her daughter for being on TikTok. (TikTok is owned by a Chinese company and some worry it will use sensitive data from its user, such as location data, for nefarious purposes).
Tim Scott’s girlfriend Mindy Noce (of a year or so) made her first public appearance on stage after the debate.

*Lost Ohio Issue 1: Right to Abortion
Lost Ohio Issue 2: Legalize Marijuana
Lost Kentucky Governor’s Race
Won Mississippi Governor’s Race
Lost Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Race
Lost Virginia State Legislature, both houses

A New York Magazine cover from October. (Seems to me the chase is over even though the primary elections have not even started .. but the guy with the red tie is in serious legal trouble, of course).
From left to right, the little people are Ron DeSantis (governor of Florida), Tim Scott (US senator for South Carolina), Nikki Haley (ex-governor of South Carolina), Vivek Ramaswamy (billionaire), Mike Pence (Trump’s vice president) and Chris Christie (ex-governor of New Jersey). Mike Pence dropped out of the race a few weeks ago and was not on the debate stage.

Monday/ about those poll numbers 🤯

So, with the first of the 2024 primary elections two months away, that Twice-Impeached-Four-Times-Indicted-Conman seems to have the Republican primary all but in his pocket.
(Endorse Ron DeSantis all you want, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, but he’s polling at 16%, still some 30% behind the Conman. It’s over; has been for a while.)

Then there is the New York Times/Siena Poll of the 2024 Battleground States that came out this weekend, that shows Biden at the losing end in 5 states— and prompting David Axelrod (chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns) to publicly question if it’s ‘wise’ for Biden to stay in the race.

Say whaaaaat, David?
Who should take Biden’s place at this point?

The lamestream media* is having a field day with these poll numbers, even with the 2024 Presidential THREE-HUNDRED- AND-SIXTY-FOUR days away.
*A term coined by Sarah Palin in 2008. As someone said, looking back now, she may have been something of a gateway drug for today’s MAGA Republicans that had gotten hooked onto the cult of Trump.

P.S. The fine print of these polls say ‘The New York Times/Siena College polls of 3,662 registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were conducted in English and Spanish on cellular and landline telephones from Oct. 22 to Nov. 3, 2023. When all states are joined together, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points for all registered voters and plus or minus 2 percentage points for the likely electorate. The margin of sampling error for each state poll is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points in Arizona, Michigan and Nevada, plus or minus 4.5 points in Georgia, plus or minus 4.6 points in Pennsylvania and plus or minus 4.8 points in Wisconsin’.
Political analyst Amy Walter sums it up thus: Trump has a ceiling problem (he’s not going to gain voters beyond what he had in 2020), and Biden has an enthusiasm problem (not everyone that came out and voted for him in 2020, may do so again in 2024).

Thursday/ birds of a feather? 🐦

Brutal political cartoon in South African daily newspaper ‘Die Burger’ (The Citizen) from yesterday.
The cartoonist goes by the alias Dr Jack.

Pandor*: Thanks for taking my call.
Hamas Terrorist: It is good to talk to someone that KNOWS how to bring a country to its knees.
*Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa since 2019. The African National Congress party (of which Pandor is a member) continues to demonstrate their abject incompetence and pervasive corruption while governing (make that: supposedly governing) the country.
And lest we forget: the ANC was a terrorist organization in the 1980s in South Africa, killing civilians with pipe bombs and the like. (The South African government of the day engaged in atrocities itself, torturing and murdering ANC party members in return). 
Pandor has flip-flopped about denouncing Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine and in fact, called Russia a ‘valued partner’ after foreign minister Lavrov visited in January.
She has criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) for not having what she called an ‘evenhanded approach’ to all leaders responsible for violations of international law.

Wednesday/ we have a Speaker 🔊

.. but here is what Washington Post opinion columnist Ruth Marcus writes:
If you are feeling any sense of relief that Jim Jordan won’t be the next House speaker, stop and worry again.

The new speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), might be more dangerous than the firebrand Ohio Republican. For Jordan’s shirt sleeves demeanor and wrestler’s pugnacity, substitute a bespectacled, low-key presentation, a law degree and an unswerving commitment to conservative dogma and former president Donald Trump.

This is not an upgrade.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) gives a thumbs-up after he was elected House speaker on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
[Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images]

Friday/ still no speaker 🙃

This Jordan guy is Trump’s guy.
The divisions in a bitterly divided Republican Party where some members have seen death threats over their speaker votes have been on full display, but at least we did not get the Trump coup plotter as speaker.

So what happens now?
Here’s CNN’s reporting:
What Republicans are saying: A number of Republicans left Friday’s closed-door meeting sounding more confused than ever about the path forward and who is best to lead them. Many expressed frustration and some called for reflection after the collapse of Jordan’s speakership bid. “We’re back to square one,” South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson said.
The chamber is still in limbo: The House remains effectively frozen as long as there is no elected speaker. The paralysis has created a perilous situation as Congress faces the threat of a government shutdown next month and conflict unfolds abroad. The battle for the speakership has now dragged on for more than two weeks with no end in sight.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer plans to run an “entirely positive” campaign for speaker and “won’t attack his opponents,” a source close to him says – betting it will be a welcome change in style, following weeks of nasty infighting in a bitterly divided GOP where some members have seen death threats over their speaker votes.

Update Tue 10/24: Tom Emmer was speaker-elect for just a few hours, and then rejected by the Republican conference before there was even a vote on the floor of the House. Are Republicans clowns, all of them?