Media reports, including the XPOTUS's own social-media posts, suggest the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York will issue an historic indictment on Tuesday:
The Manhattan district attorney's office is expected to issue criminal charges against Trump in a case centering on a payment that Michael Cohen, Trump's attorney and fixer at the time, made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen told CNN Thursday that he believed an indictment of Trump was "imminent."
Trump has maintained his innocence in the case and claims he did not have an affair with Daniels. His attorneys have also argued the investigation is politically motivated. Trump attacked Daniels Wednesday on his social media platform Truth Social.
To secure a conviction, prosecutors would have to prove Trump knowingly broke state law by reimbursing Cohen for his payment to Daniels and then falsifying his business records to cover it up.
There is also no guarantee the case will go to trial.
Of course this won't go to trial. The XPOTUS may have massive lacunae in his higher functions, but I'm sure he's canny enough to realize that he can't afford politically to have Stormy Daniels take the stand.
If you think the Democratic Party wouldn't be as hard on one of our own as we think the Justice Department should be about the XPOTUS, here's just one of the things I wrote about Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich—who I fucking voted for—when it turned out he was unfit for office. Heck, read all of the things I wrote.
See, it's not about partisan politics; it's about not wanting our politicians to do crimes. And it's about wanting something approaching ethics based on a simple fear of consequences to guide these narcissists, as actual moral philosophy is simply beyond them.
Also, this is likely only the first indictment coming for the XPOTUS. There are at least two other grand jury investigations in other jurisdictions, operating on their own timetables. The next election will not be fun.
Twenty years ago today, the United States invaded a neutral country that hadn't taken a shot at us for over a decade. This had predictable results for the region, including making our long-time adversary Iran a major player:
The invasion “was the original sin,” said Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow for Middle East security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank. “It helped Iran bolster its position by being a predator in Iraq. It’s where Iran perfected the use of violence and militias to obtain its goals. It eroded the U.S.’s image. It led to fragmentation in the region.”
All of that was enabled by the political changes that the American invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, set in motion. Later on, the 2014 takeover of a large swathe of northern Iraq by the Islamic State terrorist group prompted Iraq to turn to Iran as well as the United States for help, cementing Iran’s grip.
Under the Iraqi dictatorship, the Sunni minority had formed the base of Mr. Hussein’s power; once he was killed, Iran set up loyal militias inside Iraq. It also went on to dismay Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies and Israel by supporting proxies and partners, such as the Houthi militia in Yemen, that brought violence right to their doorsteps.
People on my side of things in 2003 felt incandescent rage at President Bush and Secretary of State Powell lying through their teeth about Iraq's supposed cache of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Robert Wright points out that the invasion's premises were already dishonest, since the United Nations was already there doing what we claimed our invasion would do:
The fog of time makes it easy to lose sight of one of the most amazing facts about that war: In order to invade Iraq and start looking for weapons of mass destruction, the US had to first kick out UN inspectors who were in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction.
And they’d been looking intensively! Over the previous four months they had inspected more than 500 sites and found no WMDs and no signs of a WMD program.
Given that those inspected sites included the sites US intelligence agencies had deemed most likely to yield paydirt, this result—zero-for-500—suggested to the attentive observer that information coming from the US government about Saddam Hussein’s activities was not to be trusted.
But let’s leave that aside. Suppose the US government hadn’t been thus discredited—suppose that on the eve of the invasion there was still good reason to think that WMDs were out there somewhere. Why not let the UN inspectors—who had been allowed by the Iraqi government to inspect every site they had asked to inspect—keep looking? There just isn’t an answer to this question that holds water.
By dividing our attention between Iraq and Afghanistan, we failed to accomplish any of our claimed long-term goals in either country—and made the world a much more dangerous place in the process.
As I'm feeling a bit under the weather, I will defer intelligent comments until later. Until then:
To paraphrase Hemingway, the pandemic began gradually, then suddenly. Three years ago today, we started March 12th with some trepidation and ended it by closing the world.
What a strange three years we've had.
I'm in Phoenix for my company's Tech Forum, where all the technology professionals come together for a few days of panel discussions and heavy drinking networking events. This morning's lineup, including the keynote speaker, emphasized to me the dangers in the United States' declining ability to teach kids English and history.
I will have more details later, but for now I'll mention these three things. First, if you show the ubiquitous graph of the growing gap between productivity and wages that the US and UK have experienced since the mid-1970s and blame technology for this gap, I'm going to point you to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and the history of capitalism as possibly contributing factors. I mean, there was a similar wage-productivity gap in the southern US from about 1800 to 1865, which technology certainly made possible, but ultimately public policy had a lot more to do with it.
Second, if you present your company's most exciting new AI technology, and someone in the audience asks you if you can show some non-scripted input, saying "no" calls your entire presentation into question. But that's OK; it was already the most boring presentation on an exciting topic I'd seen in years, so I the guy may have challenged them to go off-script with less-than-honorable intentions.
Finally, to the junior developer presenting for the first time to other professionals: if your slide has content on it obviously copied and pasted from the previous slide, your colleagues will forgive you with a little razzing. If you then cannot for the life of you figure out what the content should be, your colleagues—particularly the more senior ones—will think you've blown off your homework and as a consequence your presentation has wasted their time. Because what am I learning from you anyway, if you have not learned it yourself?
What does this have to do with humanities education? I guarantee all of these presenters were engineers without much history or English study, and their lack of breadth showed.
Next up: the "Sonora Desert Hike" experience, with 45 of my best friends. It's cool and cloudy right now so I anticipate I will enjoy it immensely.
Perhaps the first day of spring brings encourages some spring cleaning? Or at least, revisiting stories of the recent and more distant past:
- The Navy has revisited how it names ships, deciding that naming United States vessels after events or people from a failed rebellion doesn't quite work. As a consequence, the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62, named after a Confederate victory) will become the USS Robert Smalls, named after the former slave who stole the CSS Planter right from Charleston Harbor in 1862.
- Author John Scalzi revisited whether to stay on Twitter, given its "hot racist right-wing trash" owner, and decides why not? It's not like Musk will ever benefit financially from the app.
- Charles Blow revisited the (long overdue) defenestration of cartoonist Scott Adams, deciding it doesn't matter whether Adams was lazy or stupid, throwing him out the window was appropriate.
- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul revisited the Equal Rights Amendment, but the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decided yesterday not to.
- WBEZ revisited the only other two Chicago Mayors who lost their re-election bids in the past century, Michael Bilandic and Jane Byrne.
- A group of US intelligence agencies revisited Havana Syndrome, without finding sufficient evidence to blame either an adversary government or an energy weapon.
Finally, here's a delightful clip of US Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) patiently explaining to Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and her banana-republican party the difference between an adjective and a noun:
For the first time since 1983, a sitting Chicago mayor failed to win re-election*, sadly keeping the total proportion of women not being re-elected at 100%. So the April 4th runoff will see the Chicago Public Schools candidate face off against the Chicago Teachers Union candidate:
Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson are headed to an April 4 runoff for mayor of Chicago after Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded defeat Tuesday night, sealing her fate as a one-term mayor.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Vallas secured 34 percent of the vote, followed by Johnson with 20 percent and Lightfoot with 17 percent. Under city election rules, if no one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the race will go to a runoff.
Although opponents attacked Vallas as a conservative during the campaign, he affirmed his support for abortion rights during his speech, and pledged to be a mayor for “all Chicago.”
“I am a lifelong Democrat,” Vallas said.
(Sure, for a very forgiving value of "Democrat.")
Johnson, a Cook County commissioner representing the county’s 1st District on the West Side, thanked the unions that buoyed his campaign in his speech, including the powerful, progressive Chicago Teachers Union. He said he would work to level out Chicago’s historic inequities, and spoke in personal terms about his background and his progressive vision for the city.
“I know what it’s like to have a long orange extension cord from our window to our neighbor’s window,” Johnson said. “We are finally going to retire this tale of two cities, and usher in a much better, stronger, safer Chicago.”
The race marks the third consecutive mayoral runoff, after [US Representative Chuy García faced off against incumbent Rahm Emanuel in 2015 and Lightfoot defeated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in 2019. The city switched to non-partisan elections in 1999, allowing for runoffs if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote.
My guess is that Vallas' 34% represents almost all of the support he's going to get, so I believe (and hope) Johnson will win. As one of my readers pointed out, both CPS and CTU are awful, but I have a strong enough bias in favor of teachers and against school district administration that I'd rather have the CTU guy than the CPS guy. Oh, and Vallas got an endorsement from our unhinged police union, so there's that.
* Michael Bilandic (1979) and Eugene Sawyer (1993) both lost their first elections, not re-election.
The first female Speaker of the House of Commons died Sunday:
She served as Speaker from 1992 to 2000, before going on to become a baroness in the House of Lords from 2001.
The current Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle described her as "an inspirational woman" who was known for her "no-nonsense style".
She was the Labour MP for West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000.
"To be the first woman Speaker was truly groundbreaking and Betty certainly broke that glass ceiling with panache," Sir Lindsay said.
"Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty and formidable woman - and I will miss her."
Here is Speaker Boothroyd presiding over Tony Blair's first Prime Minister's Questions in May 1997:
The rain has stopped, and might even abate long enough for me to collect Cassie from day camp without getting soaked on my way home. I've completed a couple of cool sub-features for our sprint review tomorrow, so I have a few minutes to read the day's stories:
Finally, Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse hope to tap into National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act funds to turn their organization's namesake into a museum. That would be cool.
I spent way more time than I should have this morning trying to set up an API key for the Associated Press data tools. Their online form to sign up created a general customer-service ticket, which promptly got closed with an instruction to...go to the online sign-up form. They also had a phone number, which turned out to have nothing to do with sales. And I've now sent two emails a week apart to their "digital sales" office, with crickets in response.
The New York Times had an online setup that took about five minutes, and I'm already getting stuff using Postman. Nice.
Finally, I've got a note on my calendar to check out the Karen's Diner pop-up in Wrigleyville next month. Because who doesn't want to be abused by servers?