The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Happy Jury Selection Day

Happy First Day of Jury Selection/Tax Day. The two things I’m going to watch for today is (1) will Judge Merchan address Trump’s continued violations of the gag order? And (2) will Trump try to behave himself? So far already the Judge has denied another  Trump request that he recuse himself.

I want to address what happened in Israel over the weekend. The Wall Street Journal is reporting Israel’s defense depended a lot on the U.S. and Arab partners. This is behind a paywall, but the Jerusalem Post reports Saudi Arabia acknowledges helping defend Israel against Iran. And Jordan also has been public in its participation in Israel’s defense. Basically, Jordan and the Saudis are saying this was more about their own self-defense than it was about helping Israel. And now President Biden is publicly telling Netanyahu to not retaliate.

The United States remains “committed to defending Israel,” a senior administration official said, and “what you saw last night,” as Israeli air defense — supplemented by U.S. planes and warships — shot down 99 percent of the Iranian fires, “is what that means in practice. … We are ready to do it again if we have to.”

But this official and others who spoke in official briefings, background interviews and on television throughout the day, emphasized that the United States would not participate in any offensive Israeli response against Iran.

“Our aim is to de-escalate regional tensions” and prevent the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza from becoming a wider conflagration, the senior official said.

There are reports that Netanyahu is still considering what he will do next regarding Iran. This tells me Netanyahu an idiot. He has no real choice except to declare victory and do nothing more. If he goads Iran into further violence, Jordan and the Saudis may not be so helpful next time.

I keep reading that Netanyahu is massively unpopular in Israel, but this is mostly because he never made retrieving the hostages a priority and because he was blamed for Israel being unprepared for October 7. What the Israeli public thinks about the suffering in Gaza isn’t clear to me.

But what is clear to me is that younger generations of Americans are learning to hate Israel. In the Social Media Version of Revisionist History, Israel has been a hostile warmongering state from the beginning, picking on all the innocent countries around it, and should be wiped from the face of the earth. I actually ran into somone today who declared that the creation of the state of Israel was part of Hitler’s Plan. Some of the dimmer bulbs on the anti-war Left are cheering for Iran and Hamas. To make any public statement suggesting that maybe given its history it’s a bit understandable why Israel would be a tad defensive is to support genocide. As soon as those of us who are old enough to remember the Yom Kippur War, Yitzhak Rabin, and the 1972 Munich Olympics are no longer in power, the U.S. is likely going to stop all aid to Israel. And yes, we probably should have dialed it back a long time ago. But as long as Israel was seen as a pro-western power in the Middle East standing against anti-western powers such as Iran and Iraq, one could argue that propping up Israel made some sense to U.S. interests. And of course American politicians of both parties have been way too obsequious toward AIPAC. But that will probably be less true going forward also. Way to go, Bibi.

Back to the trial. It doesn’t look as if there will be any penalties for breaking the gag order issued today.

Update: See Swalwell accuses Clay Travis of jury tampering in Trump trial.

17 thoughts on “Happy Jury Selection Day

  1. I keep reading that Netanyahu is massively unpopular in Israel, but this is mostly because he never made retrieving the hostages a priority and because he was blamed for Israel being unprepared for October 7. What the Israeli public thinks about the suffering in Gaza isn’t clear to me.

    His unpopularity is longer than the war – I know I saw grumblings and rumblings, especially when he said "and the courts have no power over me!"

    The problem is, Bibi's a right winger, and right wingers only know force. And force can't work, unless he's going to engage in literal genocide.

    Philosophically, I think right-wingers are addicted to what I call the "slavery principle" – the idea that if you want peace, you need to be a terrorist, just as the south was, during slavery and Jim Crow years. The idea that, e.g., the Palestinians would respond better to a path to self-rule, rather than virtual imprisonment and perpetual occupation, is foreign to right wingers. The "violence is needed" mindset can never make the switch to "we don't need violence any longer," because there will always be small rebellions to put down.

    Unfortunately, right wing thoughts are so natural to people who are in danger, or who have been hurt, that it takes real wisdom, and a commitment to peace and justice, to handle an attack like that of Hamas. Unless Israel changes government, there's no real chance of seeing any wisdom, much less a commitment to peace or justice.

  2. The DA has filed a motion regarding Trump's violation of the gag order, and so expect this to be taken up at some point.

    We should start a pool as to when the judge will order Big Baby to sit in the corner. Will it be 1) during jury selection, 2) first week of trial…

    It's been widely reported that Trump started dozing off in the morning. But not on Fox News. Looking forward to "Sleepy Don" in the Biden ads.

  3. Interesting stuff today, for sure. There were a variety of pitches that the judge called, some for the prosecution, some for the defense. That's a good sign. The judge isn't out to get Trump – he's serious about a fair trial. Entirely as am opinion, if Merchan would be pleased to see Trump convinced, he's determined not to be overruled in an appeal. 

    I was disappointed that neither the judge nor the prosecutor seemed to be taking Trump's social media attacks seriously. The prosecutor is asking for $1,000 per offense, a total of 3K today and no incentive for Trump to stop. The judge put the hearing off for a bloody week. I understand that if anyone overreacts it might provide grounds for an appeal or possibly a new trial. But any other defendant would simply be in jail. 

    Trump falling asleep is interesting. The lawyers may have a serious problem – if they medicate Trump to stay awake, he's probably going to misbehave. From a legal point of view, they'd probably prefer if Trump WAS asleep for most of the trial rather than pissing off the judge and jury with his antics. I do expect they will try a chemical intervention and if karma works, it might backfire spectacularly. These are the details on which history turns sometimes.

    Trump is trying to grandstand outside the courtroom. He's not taking any questions. The media should not let Trump filibuster with obvious lies in his preferred one-way bombast. If Trump won't agree to answer questions, they can run video with no sound from Trump and critique the factual vacuume or the outright falsehoods. But shut that MF up. 

    This will develop slowly – jury selection alone will take a week or two. Once we get into testimony, it will get more interesting. Hope Hicks may testify – I understand she MAY know from that time period that the payoff happened and it happened to aid in the election. Cohen will testify to the paper trail of checks Trump signed to repay Cohen for the payoff Conen advanced. Cohen can testify to what he knows but it won't be worth much unless it's backed up by evidence (like signed checks) or other witnesses known to be Trump loyalists. (Like Hicks.) Making the case stick as a felony requires proof that the payoff to Stormy Danials was to prevent the previous damage of the Access Holywood tape from peeling off votes. That component – making the payoff for the election – is the thing that makes the misdemeanor a felony. 

    I also think the pressure of Melania's scorn will weigh on Trump. It's not that DJT is a good man who made a mistake in his marriage. He's a sleaze who is used to casting women aside and trading up. I have no inside information but if Melania is (or does) stop returning Donald's calls, hanging out wherever she knows that bag of shit won't be, he's gonna melt down. This is the least of the four criminal trials, but it may be devastating to Trump.

  4. It should be interesting to see how a steady drone of how unfair and unamerican this scam and witch hunt perpetrated by the evil prosecutors and the radical left plays out for the next 6 to 8 weeks. Unless Trump changes up his repetoire of grievances its going to get old real quick. It's going to be as tiresome as listening to God bless the USA at all of Trump's rallies. People tend to get sick of hearing the same shit over and over.

    Donny had to have the rules on how to conduct himself explained to him and the judge made him acknowledge that he understood he's a criminal defendant and has to obey the rules. I don't think Donny liked that. It sorta like the same attitude my cat has when he goes to the vet and gets his temperature taken. He don't like it.

  5. Netanyahu is also unpopular because he is corrupt, tried to rewrite law to cover that, and supported Hamas. If his coalition loses power, he will be on trial. All members of the coalition are probably toast after the next election.

    Much of the US support for Israel is driven by evangelical zionists; that may last. The pro-Palestinian protesters seem determined to alienate as much of the US public, notably in cities with large Jewish populations, as possible; I am not sure that will stick.

  6. This may be wishful thinking, but maybe this trial is not the least of them all. Here's my thinking: TFG will, of course, go to any length to wiggle out of each case on a technicality. (He knows he's guilty in all of them.) So, he's all in on getting elected. For that he needs to scam the moderate independent and traditional republicans. He's putting all of his eggs in the "court of public opinion" basket. Today, Nicole Wallace pointed out that in all of the other cases, he admits to the actions which led to indictments. But in this case, he's not admitting to a) falsifying the records, b) the affair c) the payoff, d) the cover-up. The problem is that this case is very straightforward: The evidence is going to come out that he was afraid he would lose the election if he didn't do the hush money. The lying on business records, the cheating on his wife, they hush money, and the deal with the enquirer rag; all of that is easy for anyone to understand. The other cases are all more complicated and legalistic. This NY case is easily understood and exposes him as a cheater and a liar. That won't sway any of the hardcore supporters, but the political middle won't be fooled. 
    Maybe wishful thinking, but this is the best explanation I can think of for how demoralized he looked in his little campaign speech outside the courtroom during a break. Many will say that this weak performance was simply because he's incapable of dealing with any situation where he cannot dominate everything. But I think he knows what's coming in this trial, and it will be reported on media that the swing voters consume. Doesn't matter if he wiggles out of hard time, the truth is coming out and he can't blame it on the "Biden" DOJ. He decided to merge his defense in these legal matters with his campaign, and now he's got unexpected consequences staring him in the face.    

    • Here's a good article by The Big Picture and Jay Kuo – "Trump’s Brain Is Not Okay – An expert’s view of Trump’s mental slide into dementia."

      In reading more about the symptoms of dementia, I ran across this:

      "What sleep behavior could be a warning sign of dementia?

      These include wakefulness at night and problems falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as drowsiness and napping during the day. These sorts of sleep disturbances are associated with many kinds of dementia, most notably Alzheimer's disease."

      The article I referenced discusses and gives examples of Trump's behavior that mental health experts consider signs of increasing dementia…and the constant twitlering at night and the falling asleep at the trial fits the pattern.

  7. Nixon was a crook and Trump seems to have followed in his footsteps.  Money and its misuse of it to bend election results is the common element.  Michael Cohen did hard time for his part, turning false legal fees into money that was used for payoffs.  Payoffs which quelled information about Trump's true character.  The alleged crime came from violation of campaign money laws, which are quite strict. 

    Nixon had his plumbers, employed for digging dirt on his political opponents.  They called them third rate burglars, but they were criminal political operatives on a mission for Nixon.  This too was exposed by following the money.  

    Yes, elections are way too expensive in this country, and that much money attracts crooks, cheaters, and charlatans.  We think strict laws will keep them from corrupting the system.  We will find out soon if that was a good plan.  Laws seem to work best if people try not to violate them.  This wing of the republican party seems more interested in getting around them and using them only against their competition.  We will see if the justice system can perform as advertised and control all this money with its rules.  The opposition prides itself on its ability to cheat any system.    

    • Nixon was a crook and Trump seems to have followed in his footsteps. 

      Nixon was a crook, but compared to Trump he was a paragon of patriotism. The word "crook" doens't begin to cover Trump's many pathologies. 

  8. Falsely claiming the judge won't let him go to Barron's graduation (like he wanted to go) accomplishes a couple of things; he's made up an excuse not to go, trying to further inflame his supporters with this supposed cruelty inflicted upon him, he doesn't actually want to be photographed next to Barron who is noticeably taller.

    • Watching teevee today, when they reported that Judge Merchan warned TFG about talking during voir dire as intimidation that TFG would be deprived of his right to attend the proceedings…
      It crossed my mind that just yesterday or the day before TFG was complaining about the fact that NY law requires the defendant to attend all proceedings, because he claimed it prevented him from being out on the campaign trail. As crazy as it may seem, I wonder if he is trying to goad the judge into kicking him out of the courtroom; in effect circumventing the NY law requiring him to sit obediently at his own trial.
      If you're DJT what are the potential benefits from being in the room and what are the downsides?  Benefits: intimidation of jurors.  Downsides: Being there puts a big psychological dent in his ability to put on his bravado act during breaks when he goes outside to lecture his followers.   

  9. For the first several decades of its existence, the modern state of Israel was viewed positively by American Liberals for several reasons.  It was a Democratic Socialist state, where health care and education were guaranteed for all; and the Kibbutz system was a refreshing alternative to the obviously perverse Soviet version of Communism.  Israeli society was Modern and European in a region which was still largely tribal, brutal, and "Oriental".  And of course, American Jews were a core part of the American Left, when it was hip & rebellious for young [college] WASPs to associate with Jews and "Negros".

    Traditionalist WASPs (and the GOP) were far more skeptical of Israel; Harry Truman rejected the advice of the Ivy Leaguers in the State Dept by quickly recognizing the new Jewish State.  That partisan divide on Israel persisted through the 1950s & 60s, with Nixon's hiring of Henry Kissinger as Sec State a big step toward GOP acceptance of Israel; this was followed by decades of near-universal bipartisan support for Israel.

    American Jews continued to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, but there was a slow shift toward the GOP based on changing class interests.  Carter's Camp David Accords pushed Israel supporters toward Reagan, who appointed a cadre of proto-NeoCons to their first government posts.  Of course, they later formed the team which managed our invasion of Iraq, which was viewed as "good for Israel" as it destroyed a regime which had supported various non-state groups fighting Israel (which does *not* include Al Qaida).

    After the collapse of the USSR, a million (?) Russian Jews migrated to West Bank Settlements, shifting the electorate to the right and making it impossible for Israel to accept a viable Palestinian State there.  The Oslo Accords died with Yitzak Rabin – killed by a Jewish Israeli pro-Settlement assassin – and the Israeli Left is still in a coma.  The demographic increase of the Ultra-Orthodox minority there has made this (and other things) even worse.

    Collapse of the USSR also interrupted the supply of weapons to Israel's (many) enemies in the region.  Russia has recovered enough to restart some of that, but in the meantime, Israel became the dominant Regional Power.  It regularly bombs its neighbors (mostly Syria & Lebanon) – and of course, most of those bombs are "Made in USA". 

    Israel – once the plucky underdog we admired for surviving in a dangerous region by its wits alone – has become the Neighborhood Bully.  Bibi Netanyahu exemplifies this perfectly, but – like Trump – he is a symptom of the deeper sickness in his society, *not* the cause.

    This is the Israel that young people see – not the one we saw decades ago. And across those same decades, the US has changed; (non-Ivy?) college students are more likely to meet & befriend other students from Palestinian/Arab/Muslim immigrant families. Their stories mesh with the anti-racist and anti-colonial framework which has been popular in Liberal Academia for some time now; I find it easy to see how they identify with the [new] underdogs *against* Israel (and the US).

    OTOH, young people are exceedingly clever but rarely wise, so they often fall into the trap of believing their own BS and getting really nasty to people who disagree; so, yeah, they alienate potential allies through Maha’s (as yet insufficiently) famous Rule of the Bigger A-hole.


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