Beware the Perfect Storm

There is no court in Manhattan today, but I understand Stormy Daniels will return tomorrow for more cross examination. The best thing I’ve read about her testimony yesterday is by Jeremy Stahl in Slate, which begins,

On Tuesday, the main event of Donald Trump’s criminal trial swept through the courtroom as the woman at the center of the hush money scandal, Stormy Daniels herself, showed up to testify against the former president. Trump previewed that it would be a big day when he posted on Truth Social—and then deleted—his apparent frustration that she was being allowed to testify. But the emotional intensity of having the woman at the center of this scandal describe her sexual encounter with Donald Trump that led to his arrest 17 years later—in front of the former president and his son, Eric, who was also present—is hard to describe.

There was a heaviness in the air, even if the former president’s main reaction to Daniels’ testimony was—as he’s done throughout the proceedings—to simply close his eyes. (Longtime Trump reporter Maggie Haberman wrote for the New York Times that an adviser told her Trump does this to “keep from blowing up,” adding that on Tuesday, he was “looking like his face is going to crack from tension.”)

I can’t know how the jury took this in, but Trump probably didn’t help himself when he started cursing and shaking his head. As I remember, the judge decided that he didn’t want the E. Jean Carroll sexual assault brought up during this trial, but the jury had just heard testimony on the infamous Access Hollywood tape. From that it would seem logical to conclude that Trump is sexually manipulative, at least. Noah Berlatsky wrote in Public Notice,

On the stand, Daniels provided ugly details about how Trump treated her, and about how Trump treats, and views, women. These insights are notable, but they’re not new. In 2016, leaked audio of Trump making grotesque and sexist comments about women to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush almost derailed his presidential campaign. Last year, Trump was held liable for sexual assaulting and then repeatedly defaming advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

But Daniels’s testimony is a reminder that contempt and mistreatment of women is a core theme of Trump’s life and politics. Both the press and Democratic opponents have struggled to make this issue central to 2024, even though abortion rights and women’s health care are the key issues of the campaign. It’s unclear whether the trial will spark more reporting and discussion of Trump’s treatment of and attitudes about women. But it should.

Daniels received some criticism for adding details that went beyond what she was asked, but as someone said on MSNBC last night, Daniels was telling her truth. This was a painful memory, and she was telling it in the way she knew how to tell it.

In other news: RFK Jr. says doctors found a dead worm in his brain. This explains a lot.

In more other news: There is now a lot more reporting on the pause in arms shipments to Israel. This is from NBC News:

The United States halted a large shipment of offensive weapons to Israel last week in a sign of its growing concern over a possible military offensive on Rafah, senior administration officials told NBC News.

The decision comes as President Joe Biden pushes for Israel and Hamas to compromise and reach a cease-fire deal that would head off a large-scale assault on the city in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering in dire conditions.

The New York Times reports that the director of the CIA is to meet with Netanyahu in Israel this afternoon. Otherwise, nobody’s talking.

Possibly the Biggest News: Yesterday Loose Cannon put the MAL documents case on indefinite hold. It’s just too complicated for her, or something. I think most people had long already written off any possibility of this case being tried before the election, and Loose has pretty much nailed that shut. But last night on MSNBC Neal Katyal tried to look on the bright side. Had the documents trial gone forward this summer, he said, it might have delayed the J6 trial, which might still happen if the SCOTUS gets in the mood to kill Trump’s immunity case before it’s too late to hold the trial. This comes under the heading of “not holding my breath,” but whatever.

Recently grand jury testimony related to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was unsealed. Some right-wing websites have seized on this testimony as “proof” that the FBI rigged the documents scandal. I have looked at some of their “arguments,” and they amount to a sensational headline about FBI rigging mounted over several paragraphs of word salad. But righties don’t read, so the headline is persuasive enough. It is an article of faith among Trump supporters that Trump was entitled to hoard nuclear secrets in his basement, and the Biden administration is making some BFD over it just to make Trump look bad.

Marcie Wheeler has an excellent commentary today headlined How We Got to a Place Where Right Wingers Cheer Stealing Nuclear Documents. I am not going to quote it here; just read the whole thing. But I’m thinking now of a book published about three years ago that I haven’t read, just heard about, called It Was All a Lie by Stuart Stevens. Stevens is a former consultant for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney who came to realize that all of the principles he thought the Republican Party stood for were just marketing slogans. And most people still in the party won’t admit what’s happening.

This self-deception extends to other areas, notably foreign policy, in which “the Republican party has gone from ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall’ to a Republican president who responds to Vladimir Putin like a stray dog, eager to follow him home”. All without much protest from those who know better.

Stevens believes Donald Trump “just removes the necessity of pretending” Republicans care about social issues. Instead, it’s all about “attacking and defining Democrats”. The idea that “character counts”, so prominent in earlier decades, is forgotten.

In short, stripped “of any pretense of governing philosophy, a political party will default to being controlled by those who shout the loudest and are unhindered by any semblance of normalcy”. The first casualty is the truth. “Large elements of the Republican party have made a collective decision that there is no objective truth” and that a cause or simple access to power is more important.

Rather than saying the sky is green, the new strategy is “to build a world in which the sky is in fact green. Then everyone who says it is blue is clearly a liar.” 

Remember when the GOP marketed itself as the “party of ideas”? Even then they were mostly ideas about zombie policies held over from the McKinley Administration, but they were ideas nonetheless. Now they don’t even have that. The whole party has given itself to promoting and defending Donald Trump, a ruined caricature of a human being who through a perfect storm of circumstances stumbled into the White House and took over leadership of the party.

The conditions that created the storm have been building for a long, long time. But here we are. The courts are compromised; the House of Representatives is dysfunctional; several state governments are already trying to “fix” the election system to help Republicans stay in power; news media on the whole are doing a piss poor job warning people of what’s really happening. We’re all hanging by a thread here.

Well, have a nice day.

11 thoughts on “Beware the Perfect Storm

  1. you have to wonder how it took so long for Stevens to find his 'come to Jesus' moment.  I suppose, like most of his ilk, that they never really came into contact with the base of their own party.

    anyone paying attention has known that the Republican Party has been one big bag of shit since at least the Reagan administration, if not long before.   he seems to embody the 'living in a bubble' condition that affects most of the right wingers that I run across in daily life.   it's related to that specious reasoning, 'that election must have been rigged; everyone I know voted for (fill in right wing politician).

    Stevens consulted in the Bush administration, and came out of that with all his talking points and beliefs intact?  WTF?   sentient people knew it was all bullshit then, and it has only gotten worse.

  2. I think for so many of us, the issue comes down to this: why stand by this guy, of ALL people? Republicans have had so many opportunities to wipe their hands of Trump, send him away and let somebody do his schtick with none of the drawbacks. The problem IS the Republican base, who refuses to let Trump go and sees every threat he poses to democracy as a reason to keep supporting him. And when that's the main obstacle you're facing… it's hard to stay fully optimistic. A population can only get better if they WANT to get better. And most of GOP voters don't. 

  3. There is an article in Crooks & Liars discussing Cannon's husband's work association with a mob figure previously connected to tRump; "Trump palled around with Colombo buddies John Rosatti & John Staluppi in the 1980s – Staluppi went into business with Trump in 1988. Cannon's husband worked for Rosatti later, 2011-14".

    Small world. 

    • Oh yeah Stump put her in Florida for a reason, he knew an honest AG would be forced come after his big fat crooked ass after he left office. I still don't believe her appointment to the Documents case was random. There is a bunch of rot in the federal courts thanks to the GQP.

  4. "principles he thought the Republican Party stood for were just marketing slogans"

    It's good that a few GQP'ers are seeing the light but I'm not sure how they couldn't figure out the meaningless slogans before?

    "There is now a lot more reporting on the pause in arms shipments to Israel"

    Yes Biden confirmed it on camera yesterday, maybe the protests here at home helped just a little!

  5. Sure.  Blame it on a brain worm.  I suppose he never even thought of getting a second opinion.  

    Come to think of it, would he know a correct diagnosis from a smudge in the scan?  Just because your last name is Kennedy does not assure you have solid critical thinking skills.  He has a history of getting tied to some real buggy notions.  Too bad there is nowhere to get one's BS meter recalibrated when it goes on the blink.  I hear many try tin foil hats to keep the bugs from getting in.  It has become quite the fashion item for politicians these days.  At least we get a warning about what we are up against when they wear them.  

    • There's an article at Washington Monthly that accuses RFK Jr. of using steroids. He was also once diagnosed with mercury poisoning. There's a dead worm in his brain. Plus he's got a neurological condition called spasmodic dysphonia that makes his voice so raspy. The boy ain't right. 

  6. Even the best opposition research company couldn't do a better job of painting RFK Jr. as a mental timebomb than he managed to do to himself. He's got more than a dead worm in his head, he got a loose screw in his head also. I have to believe if he's going to pull votes from either candidate it's going to be from Trump's ledger. Anybody who would get behind him would naturally fall into Trump's type of followers. Everybody is out to get you…it's one big conspiracy.


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