Three Things: Fraud Trial Begins, Newsom’s Pick, Contingent Aid

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It’s going to be a rather busy Monday. Grab your poison of choice — second LARGE cup of joe underway here — and let’s get at it.

~ 3 ~

It’s rather sad this needed to be said yet again in reference to Donald Trump:

“No matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law,” James told reporters before entering the courtroom. “The law is both powerful and fragile. And today in court will prove our case.”

But the wretched former guy apparently needs it as the civil fraud trial opens today in New York.

The Trump campaign’s post-debate stunt leaving a bird cage outside fellow GOP candidate Nikki Haley’s hotel room likely encouraged the reminder, on top of Trump’s other egregious behavior including insults about New York AG Letitia James.

The stunt, which followed Trump’s insult on social media saying Haley had a bird brain, didn’t go over well abroad. India’s media took note of this trashy behavior unbecoming a former U.S. president and a current presidential candidate.

One can only wonder if Trump would be both stupid and arrogant enough to pull such a gag on AG James as a dig at the prosecutor.

~ 2 ~

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate seat in the wake of Dianne Feinstein’s death.

Butler’s appointment is a statement none of the other possible appointees could make. She’s been president of political action committee EMILY’s List since 2021; the organization’s mission has been to get more women elected to office.

Butler has also been a superdelegate for California during the 2016 election when she supported Hillary Clinton. Originally from Mississippi, Butler has worked as a union organizer, last with SEIU where she worked toward raising the minimum wage and taxing the wealthiest Californians.

In 2018 Butler left the SEIU to join a Democratic communications firm, SCRB (now Bearstar Strategies) where she worked on Kamala Harris’ campaign.

Butler is gay and married; she and her partner have a daughter.

So many boxes checked off by one appointment, so many marginalized and suppressed groups now represented. Worth reading Philip Bump’s graphic-laden piece in WaPo to understand what this means.

~ 1 ~

Americans know Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) this weekend establishing a 45-day extension on the budget. Omitted from the extension was financial aid to Ukraine at a time when Ukraine is preparing ahead of winter warfare against aggressor Russia.

The failure to provide aid in spite of efforts by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is in part the result of ongoing influence operations by Russia targeting GOP members of Congress. Like Trump they have fallen prey to the idea that the US has no interest in Ukraine’s democratic sovereignty and that NATO and the EU likewise should play no role in rejecting Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

But the reasons why financial aid to Ukraine may not have passed with the CR isn’t solely due to hostile foreign influence. It’s also linked to ongoing corruption in Ukraine undermining the nation’s sovereignty while cannibalizing the resources needed to repel Russia and build back infrastructure destroyed by the last 19 months’ war.

Ukraine took a large move toward addressing corruption with its arrest of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi on September 2. Kolomoyskyi, appointed Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in 2014 after the Euromaidan, had already been blacklisted and indicted by the U.S.

This arrest is only one step Ukraine must take. The Biden administration has continued to press the Zelenskyy administration for more measurable efforts on corruption. Without making more substantial headway, it would be difficult for Ukraine to join the EU let alone NATO. Ukraine can’t become a means to drain EU and NATO resources in peacetime.

Zelenskyy will have to make considerable progress over the next 45 days – for this reason alone the near-shutdown and CR have a beneficial effect since both the Biden’s State Department and Zelenskyy can point to a date toward which both will have to work on corruption together.

It’s all the more important that the U.S. at state and federal level also address domestic corruption. The U.S. can’t make a demand of other democracies to tackle corruption without setting an example.

All the more reason why we need to demonstrate and not merely say no person in this democracy is above the law.

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread.

259 replies
  1. Patient Observer says:

    It will be interesting to see the impact that the “corporate death penalty” and ensuing disgorgement financial penalties will have on the former guy’s poll numbers.

    Will such severe consequences finally break through?

    • Golden Bough says:

      My guess is it will not have any impact on the poll numbers, but if the PAC donations start to decrease and that well quickly runs dry (I have no idea it’s current state; I assume it’s vast but being depleted rapidly for legal expenses) that will have the most substantial negative consequence going forward.

      • xyxyxyxy says:

        If Ilillegally being depleted for legal expenses then get that money clawed back to really gut punch him.

      • Patient Observer says:

        You make an interesting point about his PAC’s finances, Golden Bough.

        At play – with respect to both polls and PACs – are people outside of the MAGA base.

        One might suppose PAC donations to attenuate among people who are not themselves MAGA. Perhaps in your suggestion about PAC donations you have in mind large non-MAGA donors who are beginning to have second thoughts as to whether their investment will pay off. A few large donors closing the spigot would have an impact with respect to PAC funding far greater than their drop off in polls.

        Consider, though, people who have been caught up in the momentum of former guy support but are not fanatics about him. I provisionally cling to the notion that this defeat might cause the scales to fall from some of their eyes.

        • velcroman says:

          It is much easier to convince someone of a falsehood than it is to convince them they made a mistake.

  2. bcw says:

    ? Contingent Aid in title? – post incomplete?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. BLACKLIST NOTICE: Your username will be auto-modded until you choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. You have been told four times over the last 10 months this site is moving to a new minimum standard to support community security./~Rayne]

    • Patient Observer says:

      Rayne noted at the end of the post: “11:15 a.m. ET — This third thing is WIP. Stay tuned.”

      The final element is a work in progress.

    • Rayne says:

      I am still trying to draft a section regarding Ukraine, but it’s both a bigger topic than I should have taken on AND it’s goddamned difficult to write and moderate comments at the same time.

      Anybody else have a problem with this? Talk to the (moderating) hand.

      • SteveBev says:

        Apologies for the fact that I seem to have added to the burden by triggering moderation on my last comment on another thread

  3. ifthethunder says:

    “We have a racist attorney general who’s a horror show.” – the Conman-in-Thief

    Lock him up.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          Double ditto, because it’s not only baselessly inflammitory, but it’s also parroting the brain-dead Trumpist line on Hillary.

          It is immeasurably ironic, of course, that Trump is facing what he claimed Hillary deserved, times about 100, so making that comment might feel like “comeuppance,” but it’s really nothing more that a peurile affect on the order of “I know you are but what am I?”

      • Velveeta says:

        Baseless? He’s facing 91 indictments….

        Shocking that people actually hire you to be their attorney.

        • Velveeta says:

          *91 charges, 4 indictments

          [Moderator’s note: Slow. The. Fuck. Down. Your comment was held up in moderation because you typed a n instead of m in your email address. I hate having to spend time on this kind of crap. You’d better use exactly the same email address and username as your first comment here forward. / ~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          Hi “Velveeta”. Thanks. Honestly, I have represented some truly dangerous, bad and stupid people. Based on your complete lack of reading comprehension, doubt I would you though. The comment was about statements Trump made in a civil courthouse in a civil case and, yes, without more stringent orders from the CIVIL judge, and a full hearing thereafter, there is absolutely no basis to “lock him up” as a result of said comments.

          Do try to pay attention better and not conflate different cases. And, by the way, there is little to no chance any of the criminal judges will “lock him up” either. And your little addition of “91 charges, 4 indictments” just further proves you do not have a clue what you are talking about, nor understand the differences between civil and criminal cases, much less steps necessary to enforce conditions on either. Study up a little before coming back, lest you embarrass yourself again.

        • Velveeta says:

          Simply saying “lock him up” is not baseless when the man is facing that many charges.

          I know you’re just looking for any excuse to be a douche to people here. That’s what you do.

          [Moderator’s note: Bashing contributors and moderators here is a no-no. You’re working on my nerves with this. AND you made yet another bloody typo in your email address or used a different one. That’s two times today; three will get you blacklisted. /~Rayne]

        • BirdGardener says:

          When you copy Trump and chant, “Lock him up!” before his trial is over, verdict officially reached/rendered, and sentence given, you are joining the far-right in undermining the fundamental principle that we are all innocent until proven guilty . That is why people are taking exception to your comment.

        • Velveeta says:

          Yea I never said ‘lock him up’, I was just pointing out bmaz’s unnecessary aggression. Something that has been discussed here numerous times, yet continues to happen because he’s protected. Didn’t you guys have a ‘talk’ with him a few months ago about his behavior? Didn’t do much. He ruins what is otherwise a fantastic blog.

          These comment threads are perfect place for an angry narcissist to get their little dopamine hits by needlessly rude and ‘dunking’ on people who are just trying to have a conversation or learn something. He’s got a modicum of power here, which just gives him free reign to act like a child.

          [Moderator’s note: This kind of comment is a form of DDoS — it adds nothing to the discussions here and is intended solely to vent one person’s spleen while attempting to drive a wedge in the community. You’re done, and it’s not bmaz calling the shots; you decided it when you couldn’t stop attacking a moderator. /~Rayne]

        • 3balls2strikes says:

          It does seem that you expect a certain level of respect and decorum from commenters that’s not always reciprocated.

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You updated your username to “3balls2strikes” in August; I’ve edited this comment and replaced “BobS.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • 3balls2strikes says:

          Sorry for that- blame autofill, as well as my not realizing until hitting “Post Comment”.

        • Rayne says:

          For your own personal privacy and security it can’t hurt to clean out your autofill and browser cache periodically. :-)

        • Robot-seventeen says:

          Is it no longer a requirement not to commit crimes while on release? I’ve had attorneys tell me I will be “locked up” if I were to receive a firearm while on pretrial release. Or any other felony for that matter. I assume you’ve said the same thing to clients. I realize that’s not at issue in this case but I’m wondering why this is going pretty much untouched. Chutkan could pretty much terminate that gag in a couple days.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          LOL. A dictator-for-life would like it if being suspected, let alone indicted, were the same thing as being guilty. It’s not, except when you’re down the rabbit hole. There’s no legal basis to “lock him up,” and every legal basis not to. Not yet.

          And, shocking, I know, but getting personal will probably not serve one well on this site.

        • bmaz says:

          Just because it is a semi-open thread does not mean it is open to ignorance. For anybody, like Velveeta, that does not know their ass from a hole in the ground about detention pre-trial, and the difference between civil and criminal jurisdiction, here is how Jack Smith is addressing the issue, even in a criminal case. Note the careful steps, and Smith’s understanding of how to lay the ground even before a hearing. The antithesis of dopes who blurt out “lock him up”, when they can’t even understand which case is which.

      • ifthethunder says:

        For siccing his violent racist followers on his opponents. A long term pattern.

        I don’t like you, bmaz. I guess it’s mutual. Goodbye.

        • Norskeflamthrower says:

          ROFLMAO!! “I don’t like you” said the child to my first grade teacher-wife years ago.

      • ToldainDarkwater says:

        First and foremost, @bmaz, I agree with you. I hate that sort of emotive, hyperbolic speech. There are so many people in the culture these days shouting “Lock him up!” or “Lock her up!”, though, it feels a bit like you are the Little Dutch Boy (who may or may not be Hans Brinker), sticking his finger in the dyke.

        Personally, I would love to see Trump convicted, first and foremost for the crimes related to the election, and second for the handling of classified documents. I don’t much care what sort of sentencing he gets, we just need to get real clear that what he did was wrong.

        But that last paragraph isn’t a slogan one can chant, unfortunately.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, I may indeed be “The Little Dutch Boy”! Am actually educationally and professionally trained for that role. I would very much like to retire and forget about it. But not yet….

        • ExRacerX says:

          heh. It’s “dike,” not “dyke,” so your post paints a slightly different picture in my mind’s eye.

      • ColdFusion says:

        You know full well these comments are due to Trump himself campaigning on never proven allegations against Hillary with the same exact phrase (adjusted for gender.) He deserves a taste of his own medicine at least from meaningless internet comments. Living near enough to his empire of grift, delay and never pay until the other side gives up, it would make me quite happy to see him behind bars for longer than the mobs he has deluded into doing his bidding.
        Unlike his followers, I do want it to be a fair trial, however. He has been found guilty of fraud now, and there’s much lesser fraud normal people do and face jail time, like writing a bad check.

        • Norskeflamthrower says:

          Patience grasshopper, the articulation of charges at sentencing from this and future judges will give you more schadenfreude than you can handle.

        • bmaz says:

          There will be no “sentencing”, as this is merely a civil case. People need to get a grip on this.

        • BirdGardener says:

          A judgment, rather? Thanks for pointing out a distinction that must be glaringly obvious to you, but one that I had heedlessly failed to regard. I’ll try to do better. It seems my legal ignorance is considerably greater than I suspected. (Ack!)

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, sail on wayward sailor. What I “know full well” are the differences of respective courts and what is putatively admissible. And, no, Trump has NOT been “found guilty” of anything. Yet. Please, for the love of everything holy, can people here learn nomenclature and the difference between civil and criminal courts? It would be VERY helpful if everybody did.

        • ColdFusion says:

          I’m sorry, you are right. He wasn’t found guilty, he was found liable. For us laymen, however, the difference is minute in our day to day world.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          LOL. Most people know the difference between writing a check (or promising to pay) and living behind bars.

        • ToldainDarkwater says:

          I think he deserves a lot more censure than just a shouted slogan. I don’t think shouted slogans, or ones in internet comment threads, have much of an impact on Trump.

          Whereas, judgements against Trump will probably have very serious impact on him. But we must be patient, as trying as it is.

  4. Rugger_9 says:

    Laphonza Butler is a good choice and it may explain why Newsom thought he could get away with poking a stick at unions with his veto of the UI strike bill.

    Separately, did Scotland seize any golf courses because of the Engoron ruling last week revoking the business licenses? I’d made a note that this was a possibility depending on how ownership is structured in Scotland. However, I would have expected this after the appeals were concluded, i.e. January-ish.

    Lastly, Defendant-1 is still trying to claim he’s still worth what he says he is. While that might turn into an almost plausible insanity defense claim someday, it’s also ignoring the rampant signs of a cash crunch even before the fines are assessed.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A little over your skis. Engoron’s order is or will be appealed. Regardless, the receiver, who would administer the assets of these Trump entities on behalf of the court, won’t be appointed perhaps for weeks. This will take a while.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Agreed about the appeal, which is why the internet swamp note that Scotland allegedly moved anyway to seize is worth some skepticism. I know the Greens in the Scottish Parliament were only too happy to hand TrumpOrg an Unexplained Wealth Order but FWIW the SNP government has been generally measured in their responses.

        BBC doesn’t have it either, so I guess there is a conflation about a separate UK case about the Aberdeenshire course valuation (sound familiar?).

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Scotland, like every other jurisdiction in which Trump’s businesses do business, may have independent claims against his businesses. They will pursue them or not based on local law, procedure, and, inevitably, politics.

          The case before Justice Engoron relates to the ultimate owners of those far flung businesses, to the extent that they are put in receivership in NY. If they are, the court becomes the owner of those businesses and their assets, wherever located. The court will administer them – asses and sell or transfer them to new owners – through the receiver.

  5. Purple Martin says:

    OK, a picture. The birdcage mentioned. Inside a smallish bird, with a big belly, and Trump’s blond hair-do.

    Caption: Bars seem to flatter him, don’t they?

    Not a meme guy myself but feel free (and perhaps an unobtrusive trio of Letitia-Jack-Fani cats in the background? Maybe licking their lips, or is that too much?)

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump may finally be taking a court case seriously. Chris Kise gave the opening argument before Justice Engoron. Another sign: Trump hates morning meetings, but he showed up for the start of his morning trial. Perhaps out of pique at the early start to his day, and certainly in aid of his fundraising, Trump issued inflammatory statements about Engoron and James, minutes before the trial began. Given that this is a bench trial, Trump’s harsh words were not an attempt to work the court, except to irritate him into a misstep. Trump has no clue about how much that’s notgonnahappen.

    • xyxyxyxy says:

      I don’t know if he showed up because on Tuesday he was supposed to be deposed by Cohen on Trump suing Cohen for $500million and he claimed that he would be busy in court this week. Judge ruled depo this coming weekend as Trump has been continually getting delays and finally judge put his foot down.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      That’s the first time I’ve seen authentic anger and rage from him. It’s usually a feigned, over-the-top spiel, but for once, he sounds genuinely pissed! Gawd, it was wonderful!

  7. BobBobCon says:

    Hugo Lowell had a fun scoop about Trump’s trial happening without a jury — evidently some attorney screwed up the paperwork:

    It’s telling that Lowell got this and not one of the Trump insider reporters. First, the Haberman/Dawsey types are most likely to sit on stories which undercut ideas of Trump being in charge and deciding how events play out.

    Second, because their source networks are highly attenuated. They don’t reach out to people who might challenge the narratives they want to tell, and sources rightly don’t trust them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If the comment is dated today, I don’t see how that would be a scoop. It’s been rumored for days and previously questioned in comments on earlier posts.

      • BobBobCon says:

        Good correction. Maybe Lowell is reporting on the nitty gritty of how the screw up occured?

        At any rate, I find it a problem how stories about his team’s incompetence get written out of “this trial will only make him stronger” narratives. He may not mind being be charged, but he still wants to win.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Definitely not a scoop, but it is worth repeating since Defendant-1 has been howling he was denied a jury trial. However, Alina Habba failed to file the demand anywhere close to on time, and the default is a bench trial.

      Meidas Touch has been laughing about this for a couple of weeks now.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, that has been around awhile, and it is purportedly Alina Habba. Have no personal knowledge on that though, so take with a grain of salt. But always demand a jury, then waive it later if appropriate.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, no, not at all. If that was Trump’s decision, and not her screw up, she ought have a signed waiver of jury trial demand in her file. I’ll bet she does not.

        • ernesto1581 says:

          Or — a genius thought — maybe she did so at the defendant’s direction, a top secret strategy to keep NYer’s away from the jury box. The ones up and down Fifth Ave who are dying to know whether he bought that nine millimeter or not.
          And after all, who are Donald Trump’s peers, truthfully?

          The clever men at Oxford
          know all that there is to be knowed.
          But they none of them know one half as much,
          as intelligent Mr Toad.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Doing so at Trump’s direction is Trump doing it. As bmaz points out, though, if Habba did it at Trump’s direction, she better have a signed waiver, because he’ll throw her under the bus later. But she doesn’t seem experienced enough to practice defensive lawyering.

        • punaise says:

          Digby weighs in:

          By the way, Trump has been whining that he should have a jury trial…
          But he had the chance to ask for one two years ago and opted not to have one.

          “Donald Trump’s lawyers screwed up again,” trial lawyer Michael Popok said when talking about the development. “His then-lawyer Alina Habba screwed up the procedures in New York, didn’t file the appropriate paper on time, and therefore, Donald Trump was properly denied a jury trial.”

          Habba is cute but she’s a terrible lawyer. Trump is sticking with her anyway….You’d think he’d be a little bit more practical when it comes to his fortune but you have to remember that he’s living in his MAGA bubble and believes that he’s somehow going to be saved when he becomes president again.

          [FYI — your a href was broken because you used a greater than sign when you needed a less than sign. Slow down, boo, and check your HTML at W3C School’s Try It Yourself tool before publishing. /~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Earlier in her career, digby worked in Hollywood. She knows how power uses a desirable face to make it seem more human.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’s a legitimate observation. You might not have noticed, but Trump has spent a lifetime hiring desirable- and available-looking women to work close to him. If they resemble his daughter, so much the better. Talent optional.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          The 6th amendment specifies an impartial jury, not a jury of one’s peers. Though in Trump’s case finding an impartial jury may be a bit more difficult, it’s possible. I’d hate to think of Trump’s peers on a jury.

          The “jury of one’s peers” was from the Magna Carta, ensuring barons were tried by other barons and not the King’s proxies.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          I’s sure that by dredging some of the Italian restaurants in Queens, as well as the offices of the ‘waste management’ firms in the boroughs, a jury of his peers could be scraped together.

        • nord dakota says:

          I’ve wondered about that, esp after Jean Carroll. If he thinks it’s all going to go south, easier for him to blame a communist judge, etc, much more humiliating to have NY jurors declare him a fraud.

  8. scroogemcduck says:

    Trump turning up in NY Court scowling like a ten year old schoolboy is my highlight of the day.

    He has at various points described the case as a sham, fake and a witch-hunt, and criticised the judge as a deranged, trump-hating, political hack.
    “It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for him.”

  9. GSSH-FullyReduced says:

    The bird cage stunt is typical sandbox mentality but not out of character for Trump. I just wonder how it got past hotel security; could’ve been a more serious threat from one of his nut job minions.

    • scroogemcduck says:

      I mean, it’s not funny. It’s not clever. It makes him look like an insecure, thin-skinned idiot. What was the point?

      • DrFunguy says:

        The rudeness, misogyny and racism are the point. They’re what he does. Plus anything that gets his face riled brings in donations.

        • GSSH-FullyReduced says:

          Haley takes the high road and answers appropriately via social media that Trumps attention just “made her case”. She’s gaining ground.
          She should beef up her security detail in any event…the goading could escalate and who knows what was in the bird food bag.
          Trumps cloaca droppings?

    • Chirrut Imwe says:

      I wonder if, even after this stunt, Haley would still accept an invite to be TFG’s running mate.

      Actually, I probably don’t need to wonder too hard…

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There’s no bloody reason other than clickbait for MSNBC and other media to give Matt Gaetz so much live air time. It’s the same shit they did with Trump when he entered politics.

    • scroogemcduck says:

      Matt Gaetz reminds me of the bad guy “Robbie Rotten” from the Insanely European kids TV show “Lazytown”.

      I digress.

      Not even Republicans like Matt Gaetz. We are perfectly safe from him “doing a Trump” and getting elected as President. The media will do what the media does, which is to chase every passing shiny object like a cat chasing a laser pointer.

        • Rayne says:

          I think Gaetz is one of a handful or two of most-hateds in the House — all those GOPrs who suck up oxygen and enforce Trumpism while damaging the ability of other GOPrs to bring home benefits to their constituents. I have to imagine Boebert, Greene, Gosar, Santos are toward the top of the list.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Don’t forget Gym Jordan.

          BTW, Gaetz’s father just filed to run for the Florida State legislature, again.

      • Rayne says:

        LOL Yeah, I guess I can see the resemblance (though not in the character’s physique). The show was Nordic, by the way, not European, which is why it went even a little further out there. Gotta’ love Iceland.

        • Chetnolian says:

          Iceland, home of Lazytown, though an island and not in the EU, is European, as are all the rest of the Nordic countries.

        • Rayne says:

          Perhaps a member of EEA but not the EU. Still has its own currency, still speaks a Scandinavian language.

          You want to use the EEA/EFTA membership as a criteria, then Iceland is more European than the UK thanks to Brexit.

          Iceland is located farther away from Europe than the Falkland Islands are located from Argentina.

        • SteveBev says:

          Iceland is directly on top of the mid-Atlantic ridge
          The western part of this island is on the North American plate and eastern part on the Eurasian plate. Iceland emerged as a result of the divergent, spreading, boundary between these two plates and the activity of Iceland´s own hotspot or mantle plume and it continues to spread
          1,472 km
          Distance from Iceland to Norway
          1,612 km
          Distance from Iceland to Oslo
          1,986 km
          Distance from Svalbard to Norway
          2,030 km
          Distance from Svalbard to Oslo

          Cf distance from Hawaii to the continental United States, the closest point is Los Angeles, California. The distance from Honolulu, Hawaii to Los Angeles, California is roughly 2,470 miles (3,975 kilometers).

          Both Iceland and Svarlbard are historically culturally linguistically and politically European Islands, with longstanding and enduring Nordic Scandanvian roots.

        • holdingsteady says:

          Interesting info about Iceland.

          To be accurate, Adak, Alaska is closer to Honolulu, Hawaii than LA. Alaska is part of the continental US, although not contiguous.

        • SteveBev says:

          The mice on the Azores (1400 km from Lisbon, and at the triple junction of the North Atlantic, Eurasian and African plates) have Scandinavian mitochondrial mouse DNA.

          Viking mice -squeak !!!

          I’ll get my longboat.

        • SteveBev says:

          There are several European languages that remained fairly ‘conservative’ in the sense they remained fairly isolated and intact due either to little interaction between it and neighbouring languages or idiosyncratic absorption of elements.
          Finnish and Estonian ( non Indo-European languages which have Uralic roots)
          Albanian (Its own branch of Indo-European languages, wholly unrelated to any modern language in the world)
          Basque (wholly unrelated to any other language in the world)
          Maltese (Afro-Asian Semitic language which combines features of Arabic and Romance – wholly unlike any other language either Arabic or Romance)

        • Norskeflamthrower says:

          Ahhh Iceland, soon to be a tropical island before it sinks beneath the waves of melting arctic ice. For me it will always be the home of Bill Holm, author of “Coming Home Crazy”.

      • JAFO_NAL says:

        For me it’s always been tough deciding which one of Mike Judge’s two famous knuckleheads he most resembles.

  11. Doctor My Eyes says:

    I’ve been steeping myself in Rebecca Solnit’s timely, brilliant, on-point book, Orwell’s Roses. Most chapters are more or less stand-alone contributions to her over-all theme: pleasure, beauty, and joy are acts of resistance. “We need bread, but we need roses, too.” This book is not an easy meditation on this theme, as those familiar with Orwell’s life and work will immediately understand.

    I write today because the last chapter I read, Empire of Lies, left me crying and stunned at its complete examination of the ways in which truth can be exterminated by authoritarian regimes. Representing her theme most clearly and heartbreakingly is the story of Nikolai Vavilov, the magnificent Russian agronomist who devoted decades to research and to collection of food crop seeds as a reservoir of diversity in order to combat hunger. In Stalin’s empire of lies, Vavilov was arrested and ended up starving to death in Siberia while the fraud and huckster Trofim Lysenko became the driving force behind horrendous anti-science policies which led to the starvation of millions. Her chilling description of the destruction of scientific inquiry is a sobering mirror to the trends we see in our country. In my opinion, it is no accident that these trends so closely resemble what happened in the USSR under Stalin.

    Solnit tells us that Orwell’s friend Malcolm Muggeridge “wrote that showmanship was ‘the most characteristic product of the Soviet Union’, conjuring up illusions to conceal ugly realities rather than ameliorate them.” Sound familiar?

    As an interesting point, I learned that the famous insistence that “2 + 2 = 5” from 1984 derived from an actual campaign in the USSR purporting to compress a five-year plan into four years. Enormous neon signs in the USSR proclaimed “2 = 2 = 5”. There’s nothing so strange as fact.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Muggeridge’s explanation of the use of “showmanship” is manifestly not limited to politicians in the former Soviet Union. As a minor example, Rishi Sunak and his entire Cabinet engage in it every day.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Interesting. I’m sadly ill-informed about the details of what is happening in India beyond knowing it’s driven by what we euphemistically call “the right” and is bad news for ordinary people.

        I was thinking more of similarities closer to home, such as the GOP enterprise. To keep us sober it would be helpful to imagine the Biden impeachment hearings as consisting solely of Rep bs with no opportunity for pushback from Dems in the context of a populace cowed to accept whatever gets handed down. Such was the state in the USSR. Fake scientist Lysenko’s claiming that wheat could transform itself into rye under duress reminds one of Trump’s proposed cures for Covid or, more recently, his brilliant plan to end wildfires in California.

        This is on my mind when I think of the trials today because another aspect covered in the chapter under discussion is the show trials. If he were president, Trump would rejoice in trying the likes of General Miley for treason and having him executed. Adam Hochschild: “Execution was the favored solution to every problem, including those caused by previous executions.”

        I believe it crucially important that we Americans have the imagination to know that such skewed non-realities can actually be created, and that there is a concerted effort to do so in our country, much of it coming from Putin, who admires Stalin. I rejoice in the persistence of the rule of law, of testimony in which lies can be sanctioned. I always loved science because it is a system for discerning fact from fiction. My affection for the law arises from the same place. May we appreciate what we have and appreciate its fragility.

        Btw, millions died from Stalin’s fake-science agricultural policies. The stakes are even higher today; we’re looking at the extinction of our species.

        • RipNoLonger says:

          I’m not catching the linkage to India – please clarify. Rishi Sunak is the current Prime Minister of the UK who has inherited the mantle of right-wing politics from BoJo. Sunak, while being of Indian heritage, was born in the UK. Of course he’s also filthy rich, as if that has anything to do with being a RW politician.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          There was no “linkage” to India. Rishi Sunak is the current Prime Minister of the UK. He and many in recent Cabinets (e.g., the current Home Sec’y, Suella Braverman, and her immediate predecessor, Priti Patel) are from immigrant families originally from South Asia or the South Asian diaspora in the old empire. Ironic, given their cruel and vehemently anti-immigrant policies, especially at the Home Office.

    • bmaz says:

      Not to mention Alina Habba also made an opening statement. It appears it may not have gone well. Lol.

      • SteveBev says:

        Justice Engoron stated in his preamble

        “Engoron said that the less he has to say during the trial, the better. He expects to just have to say, “Let’s take a 10 minute break,” “sustained,” and “overruled” while the trial is ongoing, Engoron said.”

        Obviously he hadn’t taken Habba’s advocacy ‘style’ into account in that prediction.

    • drhester says:

      I look forward to the cross and wonder whether Trump will be able to refrain from lying under oath.

      Imho he won’t be able to refrain from lying. It’s what he does best. Most of the time.

      [Moderator’s note: Until you acquire some expertise I suggest checking all your HTML before hitting Publish by using the W3C School’s Try It Yourself tool. I’ve fixed your bad blockquote here which held up your comment in moderation; sometimes the simpler approach is better, like quote marks instead of HTML. /~Rayne]

  12. BirdGardener says:

    From the BBC:

    Trump attorney Kise argued with Judge Engoron about a range of matters, such as whether expert opinion counted as testimony.

    I’ve been googling this without advancing my understanding. This sounds important; can anyone explain? I’m not on social media and haven’t even found a more detailed description of what went on in the courtroom than that bbc account, let alone an explanation of this particular argument or its significance. My thanks to any who can help me understand!

    [Moderator’s note: Your a href link didn’t contain https colon and included an extra non-ASCII quote mark. Please check your HTML before hitting Publish by using the W3C School’s Try It Yourself tool until you gain some consistent proficiency. /~Rayne]

  13. LaMissy! says:

    The WaPo reports that Trump tried out intimidation techniques on DA James, not unlike what he did to Clinton on stage during their debate:

    “By Shayna Jacobs
    Courts, law enforcement and criminal justice
    The proceedings paused for a lunch break shortly before 1 p.m. On his way out of the courtroom, Donald Trump hovered right over New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was still seated in the front row. Standing about a foot away from her, Trump leaned over and glared. Afterward, she appeared to laugh off the incident.”

  14. RitaRita says:

    I apologize if this has been previously asked and answered but why didn’t Team Trump appeal the partial summary judgment and ask for a stay of this part of the trial?

    I suspect Trump appeared at the opening session today because he thought he could turn legal hay into political gold. The more legal defeats Trump suffers, the more he will ratchet up the rhetoric about corrupt judges and prosecuting attorneys.

    I am seeing reporting that hints at Bernie Kerik cooperating in Georgia. And apparently the US has filed something with court stating that Sam Lazar has provided the government with information but the information remains under seal.

      • Stacy (Male) says:

        At the risk of nit-picking–unless things have changed since I retired–it would be technically kosher to appeal under the CPLR, but the appeal wouldn’t be heard until long after the trial. Given the case’s ripeness for trial, a request for a stay pending such an appeal would be summarily denied. (Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried it given his immunity to embarrassment.) The time for such an appeal hasn’t run yet.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As I recall, NY’s rules for interlocutory appeals, NYCVP 5701, are looser than most other states.

          The big issue seems to be if and when Engoron appoints a receiver. I believe that’s when the Trump’s lose ownership and control over their principal companies.

          The Trumps would be owed the net value of their companies, of course. That is, after paying such things as the costs of administering the receivership, the cost of defending claims by Trump himself, and payment of liabilities.

          Agonizingly for Trump, a receiver would pay legitimate creditors in full, something Trump has rarely, if ever, done. Then there would be the tax consequences recognized on the sale or transfer of all those assets.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yep, Justitia and FindLaw refer to NY CVP in their headers and discussion, but then use the correct citation, NY CPLR, New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.

    • Konny_2022 says:

      Business Insider (link in ExRacerX’s comment at 1:16 pm) reports that Trump’s appearance in court today let him dodge a deposition “for now,” scheduled in “a lawsuit” (I think his lawsuit) against Michael Cohen.

      Another observation in that article which I haven’t yet read elsewhere: Trump was accompanied also by Jason Miller and Steven Cheung.

  15. morganism says:

    (so, SCOTUS won’t take a hearing on whether Scott has standing to sue on the 14th. No comments)

    Washington CNN —

    The Supreme Court said Monday that it will not take up a longshot challenge to Donald Trump’s eligibility to run for president because of his alleged role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

    The case was brought by John Anthony Castro, a little-known candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, who sued Trump earlier this year in an effort to disqualify him from running for president and holding the office “given his alleged provision of aid or comfort to the convicted criminals and insurrectionist that violently attacked our United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

    The case was denied without any comment or recorded vote.
    A doorman stands outside of Trump Tower, in New York, New York, on April 3, 2023.

    Trump Org. tries to figure out the future of its business after fraud ruling

    Castro’s case against Trump leans on a post-Civil War provision of the 14th Amendment that says any American official who takes an oath to uphold the US Constitution is disqualified from holding future office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

    This case is separate from the other 14th Amendment challenges against Trump in Minnesota and Colorado, which are scheduled for trials later this year.

    The Constitution doesn’t spell out how to enforce this ban, and it has been applied only twice since the late 1800s, when it was used extensively against former Confederates.

    “The framers of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment specifically designed it to remove overwhelming popular pro-insurrectionists from the ballot. As such, Castro is not simply within the ‘zone’ of interests; Castro is the precise type of person that the framers of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment specifically sought to politically protect while Trump is the precise type of person they sought to disqualify,” Castro told the justices in court papers.

    A lower court had thrown out Castro’s case, ruling that he lacked the legal right – or standing – to bring the challenge, and his petition to the high court had asked the justices to decide whether he did have standing in the matter.

    “A primary candidate has judicial standing to bring a claim challenging the eligibility of a fellow primary candidate for competitive injury in the form of a diminution of votes and/or fundraising if the primary candidate believes that the fellow primary candidate is ineligible to hold public office and to prevent actions irreconcilable with the U.S. Constitution,” Castro told the justices in court papers.

    Castro isn’t a serious contender for the 2024 GOP nomination. He hasn’t met the requirements to participate in any of the GOP debates, and said in court papers that his campaign activities have largely centered around building a website and various photo-ops.

    The chance of Trump winning another term is very real

    At least two other similar challenges to Trump’s eligibility have been brought in recent weeks by groups seeking to keep the former president from returning to the Oval Office. Those cases – in Minnesota and Colorado – are far more serious legal endeavors than Castro’s challenge, and they have the backing of a wide array of legal experts and constitutional scholars, though they still face long odds to prevail.

    Trump denies wrongdoing and has vowed to fight to remain on the presidential ballot

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, I said Castro’s junk was going nowhere long ago. Of course SCOTUS was not taking up that deranged bunk.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Denial without comment is what happens to the vast majority of Denial of Cert. cases. It’s about as unusual as not winning the lottery.

  16. timbozone says:

    Newsom’s pick of Butler also demonstrates that he’s maybe looking for/gaining support from Harris’ supporters in the DP; Butler was Harris a campaign advisors in the 2020 election. I think Schiff, Porter, and Lee will not have liked this pick so much as Butler is also reputedly a good campaign and financial organizer. DP politics in California, and the extension of that to the national level, are definitely in big flux at the moment. Whether this signals that Butler is now going her own way in supporting Newsom or some other message should be gleaned from this announcement, some other shift is afoot, is not clear at the moment… has Harris made a statement about Newsom’s decision yet?

    • Susan D Einbinder says:

      Harris posted an enthusiastic thanks to Newsome on X, I think – I read it on Balloon Juice.

  17. rosalind says:

    yes, Newsom kept his word to name a black female, but reneged on his vow to name a placeholder only who would not run for the job. he now says it is up to Butler to choose whether to run or not run.

    • bmaz says:

      How could he say anything different? So what? If Butler is qualified (she is, if she changes her registration), she can always run. Not too worried about it, doubt she can beat Porter or Schiff.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      In my opinion, Newsome and his ability to influence the California senate race are now irrelevant. This is all he could do to keep space for Adam Schiff from Katie Porter and the mayor of LA.

      • elcajon64 says:

        Which is fine. Schiff and Porter are interchangeable policy-wise (They’ve voted the same way 96, 99 and 98% over the three years they’ve both been in office) although Porter has a better handle on navigating the current state of politics and is therefore more likely to get her hands dirty.

        That said, Butler is a better choice for now for a few reasons including the fact that there isn’t going to be an empty congressional seat in CA ahead of schedule. I hope I get the opportunity to give her my vote next round.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I think your statistics underestimate their differences. They can only vote on what comes to the floor. Porter is more progressive than Schiff, which is one reason Pelosi wants him to replace the centrist Feinstein.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If their situations were reversed, it seems unlikely Schiff would ever have named Butler, so there is that.

  18. SunZoomSpark says:

    RE: Jury trial

    Per. Michael Popek @ Meidas Touch Ms Habba neglected to check the box to request a jury on her filing.

    Hobbled by Habba.

  19. SaltinWound says:

    Butler’s work for Uber and Airbnb is worth mentioning as well. She seems willing to put her expertise to use for both sides. Not surprising for a Newsom choice, but I’m not so sure we’re dealing with a union firebrand here.

    • Rayne says:

      Would you go and look at her Wikipedia entry and do the goddamned math? You’re claiming working decades as a labor organizer is somehow less important than a year at AirbNb and less than three years as a communications consultant at SCRB whose clients included Uber.

      Do better. You’ve been here long enough to know better. Reflexive anti-capitalism isn’t going to do you any favors.

      • SaltinWound says:

        In what universe was I saying her labor experience is less important than her capitalist pursuits? I’m saying in the last few years she has used that experience to make money. Not a crime. Your summary seemed two-dimensional to me. And now you seem defensive. You do better.

        • Rayne says:

          This is you, right?

          Butler’s work for Uber and Airbnb is worth mentioning as well. She seems willing to put her expertise to use for both sides. Not surprising for a Newsom choice, but I’m not so sure we’re dealing with a union firebrand here.

          Only surprised you didn’t have a dig about her appointment as a regent at UofC during the same time period she was a consultant at SCRB and at AirbNb.

        • Rayne says:

          Still looks like a dig on your part and a pretty piss poor one considering just how much Butler had on her plate 2018-2021.

        • SaltinWound says:

          Here is what you wrote: “You’re claiming working decades as a labor organizer is somehow less important than a year at AirbNb and less than three years as a communications consultant at SCRB whose clients included Uber.” That was bad-faith on your part, inventing a claim I never made. I gave you opportunities to walk it back and you doubled down instead. I didn’t appreciate it. You won’t hear from me again.

  20. Norskeflamthrower says:

    Thanx for the Monday morning semi-ot wakeup. Now my wife and I can finish our 3 day hide out in the forest along the North Shore of Lake Superior and we won’t plug in until we stop at Betty’s Pies tomorrow morning. If anyone out there has a favorite pie from Betty’s let me know and I’ll have a piece for you. (Burp)

    • SunZoomSpark says:


      The wife and I honeymooned in Paradise MI on the East coast of the UP in 82. We canoed the Two Hearted and now I drink the Bell’s IPA of the same name.

      Beware the Black Flies my wife got bit in the forehead 2 minutes into our canoe adventure. Our marrage survived that and continues.

      • Norskeflamthrower says:

        No Black Flies up here at this time of year. We ‘ve been up on the Big Two Hearted river and it must be incredible this time of year.

    • MT Reedør says:

      Team pie. Pie is always better than cake.

      Betty’s? I like tart. The bumbleberry, blueberry or a little less tart the Great Lakes crunch are always amazing.

    • Eschscholzia says:

      Serious question:
      Is Betty’s Pies pie better than Norski Nook’s (my regional standard for comparison)?
      And do they have sour cream raisin pie? Or just the pies their website shows available for shipping?

      I might not get to that neck of the woods any time soon, but I value scouting reports just in case. And pie.

      [I was a postdoc in a lab that generated a little black book of good places to eat on phytogeographic expeditions long before even the “Road Eats” books existed, and ran on pie. Lab meetings / journal club was Biology 314, “Progress In Ecology”. 3 times a year everyone brought ingredients and 20+ pies were made & frozen, so 2 could be baked each lab meeting.]

  21. Matt Foley says:

    “You’re supposed to pay no credence to what we say whatsoever.”
    –sworn testimony of Donald Trump regarding his property valuations

    Even HE doesn’t believe his own lies.

    • P J Evans says:

      Also trying to claim that his signature doesn’t mean the information provided is accurate or true, despite the statement above the sig line.

  22. Matt Foley says:

    For sale:

    1̶5̶0̶0̶ 4500 sq. ft. rancher in Philly suburbs.
    1̶/5̶ a̶c̶r̶e̶- 3 acre lot.
    Appraised at $̶3̶0̶0̶,0̶0̶0̶ $3,500,000.
    Annual taxes: $̶4̶0̶,0̶0̶0̶ $4000

  23. MT Reedør says:

    This is for moderators:
    Is it not workable to post some quick reminders at the login or comments screen permanently that people trip over or ignore all the time? It seems like there’s a ton of work to do in the back end after the comments happen.

    Stuff like (or your own):
    Write your comment in a text doc first, copy and paste. Incorrect logins will bounce.
    Use 8 character logins, pick one and stick with it.
    Don’t fight with moderators, advocate violence or against due process, constitution, etc.
    We’re super bored with stupid nicknames for stupid people, you should be too. Stop.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks but the next iteration of the comments system is a work in progress. Just let us deal with it.

      But after one year of prompting users to adhere to these simple rules,
      — username must be unique;
      — username must be at least 8 letters long;
      — use the same exact name each time;
      — use the same email each time even if it isn’t valid;
      — omit URL for homepage if user doesn’t have one but fill this exactly the same way each time if user fills it the first time.

      it’s not looking like folks will comply even with prompts each time they comment.

      As for the edit feature: it’s not clear when that will return as it was removed by WordPress during an update including security fixes.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah. Please stop with that bullshit. We are still here, please quit whining about things you know nothing about.

        And, no, very much do not mean Rayne by that.

        • punaise says:

          Geez, I think MT Reedør was just trying to helpful? I didn’t read it as whining, but I do get that there’s plenty going on backstage.

        • Rayne says:

          It borders on mansplaining, though. It’s not as if we don’t know it takes a lot of work which could be reduced with some programming changes which we are pursuing. And it’s not as if we haven’t said as much in the past.

        • Rayne says:

          I can predict with absolute certainty that when the changes are made to the comment system — some just as MT Reedør describes — there will be a hue and cry here among commenters. Complaints will run the gamut:
          — they had no idea changes were coming in spite of this last year of in-comment pokes to change comment practices;
          — why didn’t their comment clear;
          — we’re censoring them;
          — we’re hurting their First Amendment right to free speech;
          — why did we code it like [X] instead of [Y] or [Z] or the entire alphabet prime;
          — but sometimes it IS really RICO or treason;
          — what happened to their last comment;
          — they want a refund (for services they didn’t purchase);
          — how come we didn’t use a paid comment service like privacy-violating Disqus;
          — they don’t like us, especially bmaz because he’s so mean/hard ass/a cactus lover;
          — they’re never, ever going to get back together with us;
          — and about a dozen other variations.

          Been there, done that as an IT project manager. Wholly predictable.

          Why it’s better than 50/50 odds someone will reply with a smartass remark to this comment.

  24. Chuckless says:

    Who actually is “the assessor” who assessed Shangri-lardo at the stated value?
    I ask because of the hue and cry and carpet-chewing going on amongst the MAGA class who are convinced “the judge” made that assessment (which predictably is beside the real point).
    Palm Beach tax assessor office?

    • velcroman says:

      Here’s what the “assessor” had to say.

      In an attempt to rebut the OAG’s demonstration, defendants rely on the opinion affidavit of Lawrence Moens, who they purport is the most accomplished and knowledgeable ultra-high net worth real estate broker in Palm Beach, Florida (22). Moens claims that the SOFC were and are appropriate and indeed conservative” NYSCEF Doc. No. 1292 at 35-36 ( emphasis added). The Moens affidavit states in a conclusory fashion that because he believes “this unique property offers to an elite purchaser the unparalleled opportunity to own an exclusive and extensive family compound in the most desirable sections of Palm Beach…the valuations in the SOFC were reasonable and below my estimate for the market value of the property each year.” NYSCEF Doc. No. 1435. Moreover, Moens opines that “[i]f Mar-A-Lago was available for sale, I am confident that in short order, I would be in a position to produce a ready, willing and able buyer who would have interest in securing the property for their personal use as a residence, or even, their own club.” Id. at 29. Critically, Moens does not opine at what price he is “confident” he could find a buyer (although he opines separately, without relying on any objective evidence, that he believes that as of 2023 the property is worth $ 1.51 billion (23).

      (22) At oral argument, his domain of expertise was enlarged to nationwide status.
      (23) In his sworn deposition, when asked “[w]ho were the dozen or so [qualified] buyers that you were referencing in your report, Lawrence Moens replied: could dream upanyone from Elon Musk to Bill
      Gates and everyone in between. Kings, emperors, heads of state. But with net worths inthe multiple billions. I don’t know how many people in the world have a net worth of more than $10 billion, but I think it’s quite a number. There are a lot.” NYSCEF Doc. No. 1428 at 184-185. Obviously, this Court cannot consider an “expert affidavit” that is based on unexplained and unsubstantiated “dream[ s]”

      Engoron ruling, page 26

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        MAL is, of course, not approved for use as a single family property or multi-family compound. Until those restrictions are removed, Moens’s valuation isn’t worth the price of a busted faucet.

  25. Matt Foley says:

    Fun fact:
    In 2020 Trump disputed Mar a Lago’s value of $26.6 million by Palm Beach County. He got it lowered to $18 million.

    But yeah, technically his free speech allows him to stand outside the court room and blame the judge.

    Let the MAGA tears fall like soothing rain.

    • Matt Foley says:

      Fact checking myself:
      I was wrong. Trump did not get it lowered from $26.6 million to $18 million. But he did TRY to get it lowered.

      I’m looking at Palm Beach County property records online right now. Mar a Lago shows “Total Market Value” for each year. It does not say “Assessed Value” as MAGAs are falsely claiming.

      Sorry for my mistake.

  26. KathyS EastEuropean says:

    Military aid to Ukraine should not be linked to the level of corruption in Ukraine because the money spent for the weapons and the ammunition is actually spent in US and other countries US buy from. Ukraine receives military aid in kind, not in money. The money remain and benefit the military complex and military production in US and in the other NATO countries which provide the aid. They do not enter Ukraine. The level of corruption in Ukraine must go down considerably because it suffocates Ukraine’s own economy and ability to withstand the war as society and to attract back it’s own population after the war ends. But it should be done lawfully, the court process takes time. This is a huge war, the same WWII Eastern Front of 1300 km and with the same incredible intensity as in WWII, something the world have not seen later and does not imagine even. 10 000 artillery shells are needed every month and this is the minimum quantity, it gives “the advantage” to the Ukrainian Army to fire 1 shell to every 7-5-3 fired by the Russians and the Ukrainians state that they can manage with that ratio and even take back the occupied territories. The problem is that they do not have for already a year and a half even that! They do not have actually air force, their pilots are dying because the few old aircrafts they break and almost all are worn out, their air force cannot support the infantry. The war will not end till autumn 2024 and that is the best case scenario. When the military support is not given on time this costs the lives of dead Ukrainian soldiers and of civilians, every single day! The Russian army succeeded to dig in during the winter of 2022 and the spring of 2023, and now every meter of freed Ukrainian land costs Ukrainian lives. I do not even want to start the topic about the lives of the civilians in the occupied territories! Or about the corrupted Victor Orban, corrupted to the tips of his ears, I am just reminding you that Hungary is a NATO and EU member.

      • KathyS EastEuropean says:

        Thank you, I am deeply sorry that I am not born native English speaker, and that my use or not use of paragraphs bothers you so much when I post about a war. I just happen to understand (I can’t speak) Russian and Ukrainian almost 99% and to follow the war every day, it’s near my country’s borders, that explains my emotions.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for your comment. We’re aware budgeted aid isn’t necessarily monetary; Trump screwed with budgeted aid to Ukraine by messing with release of budgeted defense aid during 2019, for example. Further back, aid in the form of lethal weapons to Ukraine was a bone of contention within the GOP during the RNC convention in 2016 with Trumpists undermining support for the benefit of Russia.

      A helpful hint for future comments: please consider using paragraph breaks as large blocks of unbroken text are difficult for readers using mobile devices with small displays.

      • KathyS EastEuropean says:

        Military aid for Ukraine now is in kind – ammunition and tanks, military vehicles, devices, etc. Besides it Ukraine receives humanitarian and budget aid in money in order to pay for the salaries of the soldiers, to provide healthcare and to provide support to the internally displaced, to cover the Ukrainian budget deficit, the Ukrainian economy functions with 30% from it’s prewar level. The second (the monetary) type should be a target for checks how it is spent.
        Any delay in the delivery of the military aid means prolonged war, more costly in taxpayers money and in lives. The war can last 10 years actually or until Putin’s end, literally. Putin hopes that Trump will win the elections in 2024 and he will stop the aid for Ukraine completely, that’s why Russia continues to wage the war.

  27. KathyS EastEuropean says:

    So, the moderators will delete all my comments about the military help for Ukraine because they do not actually care what happens in Eastern Europe. They do not want to know how the biggest war after WWII develops. And what happens in the trenches. Until Putin meddles again in US elections. Well, I perfectly understand what “real politik” is.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Frequent readers know that if a comment goes into moderation, it can take a while to come out. Give it time.

  28. DChom1234 says:

    Can something non-tangible and as ephemeral as the Trump brand be valued in an actuarial dollar amount?

    • bmaz says:

      I could hire an “expert” tomorrow to do so. What would the evidentiary value of that be? That is a different question.

      • DChom1234 says:

        I guess I am not clear on evidentiary value vs an “experts” valuation and who has the final word given that Trump’s’ brand is like crypto or NFTs. Worth a billion one day and nothing the next.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          They’re the same thing. Bmaz’s point, I believe, is that a so-called expert evaluator’s opinion would not be much help, because valuations are inherently subjective. (Getting three offers would be different.) While that helps Trump at the margins, it doesn’t help much, owing to his exaggerated abuse of the system.

          As Engoron said in his partial summary judgment ruling, reasonable people might argue over 10-20% variations in square footage or value. But reasonable valuations would vary up and down, and not be always in Trump’s favor. Nor would they be as high as 300% or higher. Trump’s valuations are a fantasy.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If you circled the earth with economists laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion. The same applies to valuers of the goodwill in the Trump brand. Its value would be peculiar to each property, along with its financial statements and prospects for future business. But who would rely on the financial statements or predictions about future business of a property, prepared by a company that’s already been convicted of criminal tax fraud?

      It seems likely that the receiver of Trump’s businesses, if any, would have a hard time selling many of them for at or above book value. Not good for paying all the bills and leaving a lot left over for the family, but good for generating tax losses.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Not an expert opinion, but I would hazard a guess that the “Trump” branding is now considered a negative asset – or a liability. Wonder how this opinion could be played into the trump family’s favor…

  29. Narpington says:

    “No matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law,” James told reporters before entering the courtroom.

    “Although”, she might have added, “how much your lawyers cost is a pretty good indication of your chances of beating it”.

  30. Synergies says:

    I love the emptywheel blog. I’m 72. I learn a lot. Not into law but that’s what is fun about this, learning definitions for example. 1st time posting. Am a Gay leftist so I will remind remember lawyers of Newsom’s HUGE accomplishments.
    Newsom was the first politician to break open Gay Marriage. Legally offering marriage licenses, for a while. I was blessed to know some of the early Gay/Lesbian founders. What was so interesting about them is a good group of them had found their lifetime (now marriage) partners and in the synergy construct (two could pull a large weed out, whereas one couldn’t) fought and started the movement.
    During the AIDS devastation of the loss of many, many lives, an extreme but not unusual example: One of a couple would die, the relatives would come and clear out the joint bank account & take everything. They didn’t like (hated) the Gay partner. The partner may have been HIV+ themselves. What a nightmare of cruelty.
    A lot of Gay people are activists. They have the time. Post legally now being able to marry, the money stays in the community and or shared in the event of dying.
    What that has accomplished, Thank You to Gavin Newsom, is Gays being able to contribute to the Democrats. Being able to fight, and not ripped off.
    In this appointment Gavin is reminding us where we were & what we can accomplish. How incredible.
    Laphonza Butler. 10 years as the president of one of the SEIU affiliates. Goodness, how many marches for all kinds of left issues has the SEIU been a major group of, in the march for all sorts of fellow groups. I’ll never forget when police kettling 1st came out getting kettled-SCARED could lead to abuse by some officers, luckily SEIU families were marching… TY memories…
    Gavin Newsom has always been a builder of the Democratic “Roosevelt” Party. I hope he’s elected President someday.

    • bmaz says:

      Welcome to Emptywheel. If you have known us long, you know how we covered the Prop 8 trial. I’d like to throw a bit of appreciation out to Judge Vaughn Walker too. Join in more often!

      • Synergies says:

        Thank You. Appreciated. I wasn’t here then. Reading Wikipedia now: “In July 2023, the California State Senate passed ACA-5 in a unanimous vote, after a first unanimous vote took place in the California State Assembly in June 2023, therefore placing the proposal to repeal Prop 8 on the ballot in 2024.”
        Thereby if approved removing it from the California Constitution. UNANIMOUS. Tears…

    • KathyS EastEuropean says:

      Whatever the mistakes of Fukuyama and the US military, intelligence, policy, diplomacy, etc. in 1989 and for the next 30 years have been, I will not discuss. I will not discuss even that US is a guarantee of Ukraine’s safety and independence in the Budapest Memorandum. “Ukraine is corrupt and that’s why it must receive no aid, especially military one, Ukraine is not worth the effort” is a Russian propaganda narrative, which is all over the place on all Russian TV channels 24/7/365 since 2014. “The help for Ukraine drains US economy” is another Russian propaganda point, here that myth is debunked:

    • KathyS EastEuropean says:

      I would like to focus on 3 major western intelligence failures, for me it is difficult to understand why they exist at all:
      1. Why all intelligence agencies were so sure that Kyiv will fall in 2 days and the Ukrainians will not defend their right to live in the way they want to live, all embassies left and Ukraine were given only light weapons for partisan fight? Actually, the Russian grand plan was to take Ukraine for 3 days and to continue south to Moldova, Romania and (probably) Bulgaria, north to the Baltic countries and Poland and in Caucuses to Georgia and Armenia, forcing the Ukrainians to fight in the Russian army in the way they are forcing now the occupied population in Mariupol. Putin wants to restore USSR.
      2. Why there were at least 2 efforts “to negotiate a peace plan with Putin” by US officials and non-officials, in the autumn of 2022 and in spring of 2023, this is published by Newsweek? Putin does not want peace, he wants a negotiation pause to gather more weapons and mobilize more people and continue the war. Putin clearly states that he is waging war against NATO and EU, why no one believes what he publicly declares many times. Why someone has decided that he is able to push Ukraine to give up and forget about it’s occupied territories where live Ukrainian citizens? Without Crimea and the Black Sea ports Ukraine cannot defend itself and is not a economically viable country.
      3. Why NATO intelligence was surprised that the Russians have mined every square meter in the occupied Ukrainian South, have built trenches and fortified resistance points and they did this in the winter of 2022/2023? The trenches and the building activity was seen from non-military satellites and their map was published by journalists in the spring of 2023. This activity was reported many times by the Ukrainian military publicly. How the intelligence agencies “missed” that?

      • timbozone says:

        Re in response to your questions:

        1. Why are you even worried about any of this now? Basically, what the West believed at the beginning of the current Ukrainian war is immaterial. It’s the failure of Russian intelligence, logistical capabilities, military estimates, etc, the success of Ukrainian military, mobilization, logistics, diplomatic initiatives, etc, that have resulted in the Russian retreats. Clearly the US was well aware of what Russia intended and kept warning Ukraine well in advance that an invasion was going to occur for months prior to Putin’s 2022 invasion.

        2. What Ukraine decides is up to Ukraine. Any side negotiations are meaningless unless both Ukraine and Russia are able to reach an agreement. NATO is going to do all that it can politically and economically finagle to keep Ukraine as a bulwark against Russian dominance in Eastern and Central Europe, especially given the cavalier nature in which Putin decided it was okay to seize Crimea, followed in 2022 with an attempt to occupy the rest of Ukraine. And that’s the current reality. Realistically, where US help to Ukraine is concerned, the political situation in the US would need to remain stable. If it’s any consolation, the fact that China and Iran are supplying the Russians with munitions, etc, means that US policy towards Ukraine is likely to remain stable, as most folks in the US are not happy about Chinese or Iranian military expansion. While Trump likes bloviating about leaving NATO, commitment to the NATO alliance in the US is still relatively strong.

        To the point of negotiations, alleged or real, diplomacy is to be desired rather than the continuous ramping up of war production around the world. A world greatly re-armed is going to be much more dangerous, an even more crises filled world than the current one. I do not fault those who want to try to keep this military production ramp up from happening, even if they might or might not be misguided and/or disingenuous in their aims.

        3. Is Western Intelligence surprised…or simply just following the Ukrainian leaderships game plan? This year, the policy of the Ukrainian government was to have “a summer offensive”…which is, as far as I know, still officially happening. In the long term, the Ukrainian government’s plan is to gain overwhelming technological and logistical superiority over Russian forces on Ukrainian soil. How the current “offensive operations” fit into the long term plan, over what may be years of fighting, is something that the Ukrainian government is no doubt more keenly aware of than the rest of us. Do you also assume that the Ukrainians do not have good intelligence about what is happening in most areas of the conflict? How would they not given all the drones, big and small, at the disposal of their military and intelligence services?

  31. GSSH-FullyReduced says:

    Great post Rayne. As to efforts aimed at stopping ongoing Ukrainian corruption, just hope Team Biden doesn’t step into the same bear trap as they did with Shokin, Burisma, Hunter, etc. Seems like dangerous territory. Dummies like me may equate all those investigations to the current (so far), failed GOP house shenanigans. Perfect cannon fodder for more RWM disinformation.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, that’s the problem — if the Biden administration doesn’t press for anti-corruption measures, sending aid in any form by any NATO country means that aid could be used against NATO. But pressing for anti-corruption also creates opportunities like the Burisma crap which can undermine members of NATO like the US through the Biden administration. It just sucks.

  32. Rugger_9 says:

    Read this from Borowitz (via barkbarkwoofwoof) and guess when I spit out my coffee:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a sign of the worsening feud among congressional Republicans, Representative Matt Gaetz lashed out at Kevin McCarthy, accusing the Speaker of “behaving like an adult.”

    “Listening to others and striking a compromise are adulthood at its worst,” he charged. “Kevin McCarthy needs to look at himself in the mirror and ask if he wants to be an adult, or a Republican.”

    Gaetz said that, now that McCarthy has “crossed a red line into adult behavior,” there was “no telling” what he might do next. “Soon he’ll be sitting still and keeping his hands to himself,” he said.

    “I guess when it comes down to it, Kevin likes adults,” he noted. “I’ve always preferred children.”

    Speaking to reporters, McCarthy bristled at being called an adult by a member of his own conference. “I don’t see how name-calling solves anything,” he said.

  33. Rugger_9 says:

    As expected, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty in DE on the gun charges, and I’m wondering how recent SCOTUS rulings would affect the ability to bring these charges even before the recent videotape of Defendant-1 buying a Glock in violation of the law and his release conditions. The scuttlebutt was that because gun restrictions were reduced by SCOTUS there was no longer a crime to prosecute. I’m not sure that’s true.

    I’d noted before that someone like Hunter was at the time would be a target for the usual drug-related reasons as well as a kidnapping option because of Joe Biden. At some point it could be argued that the ability to defend oneself is a fundamental right, and FWIW that’s what the 2A types are screaming. Note that the 2A types take it far beyond any rational limits when they’re OK with gunning down unarmed kids at the door and FWIW they don’t apply the same logic to Hunter or whatever ‘them’ they don’t like.

  34. The Old Redneck says:

    Let me start with the caveat that none of us know for sure. But I’m not buying the conventional wisdom that Trump’s failure to demand a jury trial was an oversight. It’s much easier to call it a kangeroo court and illegitimate if you don’t have regular people from the community convict you. If you know you’re guilty as hell and that the evidence to convict you is out there, you might feel like your best move is to attack the legitimacy of the judge and the entire process. That’s a whole different thing when the judge is the finder of fact.
    So once again we don’t know, but I would hesitate to just make assumptions.

    • Rayne says:

      Game it out. Let’s say this was a deliberate move on his part to create the illusion the system screwed with him. The potential price is a loss of money-making properties if they are seized, worth hundreds of millions. Does this price seem rational?

      The loss of properties also means a loss of income to his kids. Were they also willing to go along with this? What’s their angle here?

    • Peterr says:

      I could also envision Trump betting that a bench trial would be faster than a jury trial, and thus get this off the front page sooner rather than later. No lengthy jury selection process, no lengthy explanations for the jury about objections, no very lengthy debates about instruction for the jury, and no breathless waiting for a jury to return a verdict. There was no way of dragging this case out past the election, says this theory, so get it out of the way faster with a bench trial. Let the appeals be the place for dragging the process out.

      • Matt___B says:

        Well maybe it will be even shorter now with Judge Engeron placing a narrow gag order on Trump for speaking publicly or writing in social media, lies about his chief clerk:

        So…will the pre-trial, lunchtime, and post-trial propaganda conferences on the courthouse steps stop now? Or merely alter their content?

  35. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSNBC coverage of Newsom’s pick of Laphonza Butler is typically lame, focusing as it does on the “shake up” of the party it will cause if she decides to run in 2024. That’s what primaries are for; they’re not meant to bless the incumbent and award them lifetime tenure.

    It also made too much of Butler’s two years in MD at Emily’s List. It ignores that she spent two decades before that heavily involved in organizing and fund raising for Democrats in California. She still owns a house in LA and will take up voting residence again in California. It’s not as if she spent decades in Texas and then made herself the VP nominee, “moving” to Wyoming with a gesture of her hand.

    MSNBC has a legitimate point about whether Newsom went back on his promise not to appoint someone who intended to run in 2024.

    • Rayne says:

      We’ll agree to disagree. EMILY’s List is a pretty big indicator to women that Newsom is committed to supporting women’s civil rights including reproductive rights.

      But what do I know? I’m just a woman. Oh, and one who’s donated to EMILY’s List to ensure more women ran for office.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There’s nothing to disagree about and I never know what you know: I’m not that smart. The reference was not about what Emily’s List does or why it’s important, just that it took her to MD.

        I was critiquing MSNBC’s coverage, which only used it as a placeholder to explain why she wasn’t in California, which was their big beef. Complain to them.

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      As a constituent, I was disappointed by Newsom’s choice of Butler. I was hoping for someone more tied to the state. As for Newsom going back on his word to appoint someone who would be a placeholder, how he would know that she wants to run for the office once her term is up? I know people are speculating about that, but has she said she will run?

      • Rayne says:

        What other Black woman was in the pipeline who was under retirement age? All the CA Black women I’ve seen named were either north of 60 years of age and/or had a role as an elected official which if they exited would cause more problems (ex. Karen Bass, age 70), or had a resume which didn’t match the weight of Butler. I’m looking at Nichelle Henderson Los Angeles Community College Board trustee; Cheryl Turner, former candidate for California State Senate-District 28; Jan Perry, former Dist. 9 council member Los Angeles City Council who lost her race for CA-37 in 2022; Sydney Kamlager-Dove, House Rep for CA-37.

        I have a suspicion one reason Butler was appointed wasn’t whether she’d run as Senator in 2024, but whether she’d be up to running as a future VP candidate. The appointment would groom her for that future candidacy.

  36. Was_Alan K says:

    Perhaps a bit late for this rant, but I wanted to point out something that MSM consistently gets wrong and the Trump defense (Crise) consistently harps on. This is the claim that “no bank lost money lending money to Trump” so there is no victim.

    The point is that no bank ever “lends” hundreds of millions to anybody. Banks that deal in those kinds of sums are just brokers. Brokers make money from fees and (if they are lucky) trading. The banks are definitely not victims, so where’s the fraud?

    The fraud is being perpetrated on those – losers in Trump parlance – who buy the bonds from the brokers. Here’s how the art of the steal works: Trump builds up an image. He convinces the brokers that they can sell this stuff because Trump is Trump. So they go out and flog this stuff. Then Trump files for bankruptcy (four or six times so far depending on how you count) and the “losers” – who are actually really losers at this point – get to stand in line for what’s left.

    After a few bankruptcies, banks on Wall Street refused to broker Trump’s projects. Including Deutsche Bank. (And as we know, Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi convinced DB to continue lending and we are all very interested to learn what Ms Vrablic is going to say when (if?) she appears as a witness in the fraud trial.) The banks refused to lend not because they lost money doing business with Trump, but because important customers lost money buying product they were selling. What’s tricky for the banks is that they want stuff to sell and Trump was generating stuff to sell.

    So who were the victims of Trump’s fraud? Investors, contractors, employees. This is why James is prosecuting.

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