…you were lucky [DOT 26/7/22]

if it wasn't for bad luck...

…here we go again…sort of…the tories are down to two candidates…& they had a row…sorry…debate

The newspaper coverage of the increasingly personal battle between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for the Tory leadership reveals a fascinating picture of the party’s divisions.
The Times’ lead story says “Bitter Tory rivals get personal”, reporting that the two candidates ignored pleas from party grandees to end the “blue on blue” hostilities in the television debate.
“Tory leadership rivals trade blows over tax and inflation” is the headline in the Guardian and highlights Sunak’s attack on Truss’s plans to borrow and spend rather than raise taxes.

…except…”turning nasty”…this is “the nasty party” we’re talking about…& an election that’s basically a primary that skips straight to picking a prime minister

When Theresa May warned the Conservatives about their reputation as “the nasty party” in 2002, she was referring to a perceived heartlessness towards the disadvantaged as well as outdated views on social issues. The latter problem has been addressed; the former remains. This is less about Conservative voters, who, as we saw in 2019, are more heterogenous than ever, than parliamentarians and power brokers. Why, you may ask, is there no one in the room to say to Johnson, “Prime minister, spending £200m of tax payers’ money on a yacht will be a hard sell”?
Tory rebranding has been a success, not only thanks to Cameron’s PR drive to address racism, sexism and homophobia in the party (it’s as if austerity never happened), but also because, with a helpful media, they have positioned themselves as the party of normality and common sense, while anything else – even Labour centrism – is aligned outside the mainstream. And yet the nastiness persists when, and perhaps because, they can’t see it in themselves.
The fall of heartland Labour seats in 2019 was one of the most significant political phenomena of the past 40 years and that begrudging trust placed in this government is most likely to be broken not by Johnson’s conduct, but by the sense that the ruling party has an innate propensity for unfairness […]

Eventually the electorate and his party will be exhausted by Johnson. His carelessness will become irksome – after all, he has already performed his primary function of delivering Brexit and seeing off Labour. He will probably tire of the blinding burden of real leadership too. Those two lines may intersect at a single point, most likely some time in 2023, to give a new leader a bounce into the next election. The Conservatives can be as nasty – sorry, willing to make tough choices – about their own as they are about governing. What can you do? Tories gonna Tory.

…& while that GQ piece is from june of last year…the nast party thing has been knocking about for a sight longer…so honestly I can’t really believe any member of the press…or even the rest of us mortals…genuinely thought these things had a shot at being some sort of edifying, collegiate affair

The exchanges at the BBC debate followed a weekend of deeply personal attacks – with Sunak criticised over his wealth and wardrobe, as Truss faced claims she was economically illiterate while being reminded that she was formerly a remainer.

…there was one thing they managed to agree on

Amid reports that Boris Johnson has not yet ruled out a political comeback, despite pledging to step down next month, both candidates also ruled out a role for the current PM in any government they might lead.

…although…boris might have other ideas

According to the Daily Telegraph, Johnson told Lord Cruddas at Chequers over lunch on Friday that he “wants to fight the next general election as leader of the Conservative party”, the peer said.

Cruddas is running a campaign to give Conservative party members a vote on whether to accept Johnson’s resignation as Tory leader. But Downing Street responded by insisting Johnson will leave the post when a new leader is chosen.

…friends like these, eh?

Although [Sunak] comfortably won the leadership race among Tory MPs, Truss is the favourite to win after a series of opinion polls and surveys put her firmly ahead with party members.
In the aftermath of the debate, supporters of Truss argued that Sunak’s interruptions were a result of his entitled background. “He came across like a public school mansplainer,” said one.

One Sunak supporter claimed that Truss did not understand the economy. “She was once again out of her depth,” the MP said.

Party grandees spoke out in the hours before the debate, pleading for both parties to resist from “trashing the brand”.

But the tensions that have been building continued to manifest themselves, with Truss declining to distance herself from comments by a supporter, the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, who outraged some fellow Tory MPs by comparing Sunak’s bespoke suit and Prada shoes to Truss’s £4.50 earrings from Claire’s Accessories.

…there’s going to be another of these things…which will likely be worse since the sun is involved…& if you’re a real glutton for punishment you could check out the interview rishi’s lined up for with andrew neil on friday…if you don’t know who that is…it’s a long story…but the short version is he’s been on the telly talking about politics since the candidates were still in school…think jeremy paxman on university challenge…but with more jowls…anyway…I digress

Truss and Sunak constantly interrupted each other on tax, clashed over who had supported “Project Fear”, and it was difficult to believe that just three weeks ago they were ministerial colleagues in the same government under Boris Johnson.
The former chancellor talked about Truss wanting to put Covid debt on the never-never, and asked whether it was “moral” to leave debt to be paid off by children and grandchildren, bringing out the idea that the country has a credit card and saying the policy was un-Conservative.

Truss hit back by saying again that Covid was a once-in-a-century event, and that no other major economy was trying to raise tax to pay off the debt so fast.

Polling suggests she has the lead with the Tory membership, and it is very possible her “feel” about how to repay debt will win their hearts over Sunak’s harder-nosed fiscal approach.

…the thing is…the actual tories in the parliamentary sense may come off like a toffee-nosed bunch…but the daily mail hasn’t remained profitable thanks to a surfeit of wannabe aristocrats…so there’s a whole dimension to this thing that is easy to lose in translation…& I’m not sure I could adequately explain it on account of how it kinda doesn’t make a ton of sense when you get right down to it…but…this took a pretty decent shot at trying

One of the most bewildering things I’ve come across as an adult immigrant to the UK, after the price of train tickets and separate hot and cold water taps, is how people talk about class. British people from well-off backgrounds will drop, quite unprompted, into conversation that they went to private school but that it was a “cheap” one. Or that they went to a well-known private school but were not as wealthy as the other students, because their parents couldn’t afford skiing holidays. Or that they went to Oxbridge but did so from a comprehensive school and had parents with “normal” jobs. Once, someone gave me (unrequested) their class history, in which they described going from a charmed home life, to private school in London, to Oxbridge and then a job in the media, “but my parents gave me nothing”. I have frequently and desperately wanted to ask, “Why are you telling me this?”

…that’s where that crack from nadine dorries was going, you see…a set of cheap earrings as a token of frugality standing in for salt-of-the-earth moral rectitude contrasted with wealth & privilege…fuck policy…this is politics, y’all…or…depending on who you ask…this is england

It took me a while living in this country to figure out what was going on. It wasn’t class oversharing, but class discounting – a way for people to establish that their status, whatever it was, was earned and not bequeathed. Britain is a country of enormous wealth, much of it inherited. In fact, inherited family wealth is fast becoming, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the most important determinant of how well-off a person will be later in life. Britain is also a place where the alumni of a small number of expensive schools and exclusive universities hold a wildly disproportionate share of the nation’s power, wealth and top jobs.

The result is a privileged class anxiety. For the one in 10 UK adults born in the 1980s who will inherit from their parents more than half as much money as the average person earns in a lifetime, there is a constant need to pre-empt any impression that they are part of an entitled clique with the sort of money and connections that smooth their passage through life. Research conducted by the LSE last year looked into why almost half of people in middle-class professional jobs identified themselves as working class, even when a quarter of them had parents who had done similar jobs. The study identified a “grandparent effect”, by which people from privileged backgrounds over-emphasised the working-class credentials of extended family members, even though they have little impact on an individual’s life chances.

…it’s a funny thing…but there are totally families in which multiple generations worked their asses off to give their offspring the chance to climb the social ladder into what by almost any definition would be considered the comfortably well-off reaches of the middle class…only for said descendants to militantly insist that they’re working class to the bone as though the four yorkshiremen sketch never happened

…it’s a bit of a head-scratcher when you get down to it…but…it’s hard to deny that class is both a good & a bad thing in the UK…you need to have some in the sense of “a class act”…but not too much in a “ruling classes” sort of a way…&…that’s how you wind up with the “appeal” of your boris johnsons & your nigel farages…it’s complicated…but you can’t argue with results…or some shit

A particularly outrageous example of this is unfolding in the absurd class cosplay of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. Sunak, in an enormous reach, has to hark all the way back to his immigrant grandmother to ground himself in a rags to riches story. He likens the pharmacy his mother owned to the greengrocer’s owned by Margaret Thatcher’s father (the difference between groceries and pharmaceuticals is material in terms of class, but he has to work with what he has). There was no way around his father’s comfortable living as a GP, or his own eye-wateringly expensive education (at Winchester College, currently £45,936 a year for boarders), so Sunak, unfettered by the stubbornness of facts, offers this explanation; sure, his education was expensive, but his parents had to work hard and save for it. Only someone of truly out-of-this-world wealth can think that the difference between saving £45,000 and having it lying around is enough to confer upon you some sort of underdog status.

Truss is at it as well. Alumni of her old school, which Truss has claimed “let children down” through low expectations, have criticised her for misrepresenting the quality of schooling they received, and for her false claims that she grew up in a “red wall” seat. Truss’s fibs create her own class mobility mythology – one in which she made it to Oxford and into jobs at Shell and Cable & Wireless despite her childhood. “I was educated at a comprehensive school in the city and went to primary school in Scotland” she boasted to the Telegraph: “I got where I am today through working hard and focusing on results.” Her journey was only possible, she claims, “through aspiration, ambition and enterprise”. Nothing to do with the fact that she grew up in an expensive suburb of Leeds, in a comfortable family, with a father who was a professor of mathematics, and attended a school that at its worst was labelled “satisfactory” by Ofsted.
This normalised dishonesty about how much of your success is down to the stability, networks and affluence of your family is not a harmless national quirk. It is a class disavowal that props up the entire corrosive myth of meritocracy – the belief in which enables and absolves cruel governance and mean citizenry. On a political level, rightwingers fetishise hard work and careful saving to bolster their belief that the state should not support those who cannot work hard or save because, well, it’s their own fault. On a personal level, we are less inclined to vote for politicians who want to share resources more equitably if we convince ourselves that our wealth is a result of good graft rather than good fortune. Note how Britons celebrate lower-class backgrounds – real or imagined – in the most individualistic way. British folktales about class mobility – of the types Sunak and Truss are pedlling – become then not a call to marshal attention and capital towards mitigating the difficult conditions that made rising upwards such hard work for others, but a glorification of the individual who made it out, and then, a stick with which to beat those who didn’t.

…it’s kind of a sick joke that this is how we all get to find out who gets to take the next turn at being in charge of an actual nation of some years’ standing…but here we are, all the same

The two candidates in the race to succeed Boris Johnson represent two parties, although the distinction between them is not acknowledged. Rishi Sunak is the candidate of conservatism as it was until 2019, when Theresa May’s government was still trying to reconcile Brexit ideology with the demands of economic and diplomatic reality. Liz Truss appeals to the successor movement, the “Boris” party, which resolved the tension by denying its existence.

That conflict is buried in a contest that purports to be about other things. […]

But those positions are proxies for different notions of what it now means to be a Conservative. […]

Beyond budget specifics, the battle consists of lunges and postures that are meant to project strength and determination. Sunak would get tough on China. Truss boasts of her toughness on Putin. (Both would be toughest of all on refugees seeking sanctuary in Britain, but there was no mention of that in this debate.)

There is no ballast of gravitas to level out the swagger, so it comes across as playground bragging, or the overcompensating neurosis of careerist nerds, fast-tracked too young into high-ranking ministerial offices. They might have steely cores, but the needy ways they try to prove it show only their plastic shells.

The pettiness of the whole spectacle is exacerbated by vicious skirmishing between unidentified “friends” of the candidates, belittling the other side’s record in government and casting aspersions on their integrity. Team Sunak has poured scorn on Truss’s claims to have endured a hardscrabble education in a tough comprehensive. Truss’s allies hit back at her rival’s posh grooming as an alumnus of Winchester school and his gilded employment by Goldman Sachs.
But the kernel of these disputes is shrouded in euphemism, which renders the whole contest absurd. It is suffused with the spirit of Brexit culture wars and yet Brexit itself is not up for debate. Not the terms of the deal, its economic impact or the wisdom of the Northern Ireland protocol bill that threatens to trigger a trade war with Brussels as the cost of living crisis bites deeper. (On that, the conversation skated glibly over causes and remedies.)

There was only one direct question on the practical consequences of leaving the EU in Monday’s discussion. The candidates were asked whether the current tailbacks of traffic at Kentish ports are a consequence of Brexit. The correct answer is yes. They both said no.

It is self-evidently one of the most pressing issues for the nation and the Tories can only engage with it by way of emotional repression, displacement and denial.

“We are having a really serious discussion,” Truss said at one point, which is the sort of thing that only needs asserting when the opposite is true. It was not a real debate. This is not a safe way to choose a prime minister. It is not a healthy way to run a country.

…either way…although sunak got the lion’s share of the votes from tory MPs…the polling suggests the wider party might be more inclined to go with getting the UK trussed up

Listen to Liz Truss for long enough and she’ll tell you she’s been on a journey. The inexorable rise of a girl who went from a rough Leeds comprehensive to frontrunner for the next Conservative prime minister. Via a brief spell in the Lib Dems. We all make mistakes.

Examine the journey more carefully, though, and it begins to look even more remarkable. The human flotsam who just happens to be carried downstream to the doors of No 10. A journey without any ideas or purpose other than to adapt to her surroundings and rise to the top. The failures have been spectacular, yet also spectacularly successful. Each time, she emerges into a more powerful iteration. Samuel Beckett could only stand back and applaud. She is literally living his dream.
The newest version, Liz 3.0, is almost incomprehensible. She has slid so far through the looking-glass to the Tory right that in some parallel universes she appears to have adopted Marxist economics. Dialectics has never been so confusing. She both reveres Boris Johnson’s memory, saying she wouldn’t have changed a thing, yet trashes the record of the government. Her prescription for getting the economy back on track is to reverse the national insurance hikes and to cut personal and corporation tax. How she would do this, she hasn’t said. Right now it’s enough just to talk in riddles.

It is exhausting, though. To keep up with Radon Liz’s journey, you have to be able to run fast. She is the anti-ideologue. The anti-conviction politician. Not so much a set of ideas looking for their natural home as vaulting ambition in search of some ideas. Any ideas. If you don’t like hers, she’s got some others.

Because here’s the thing. Truss is a tabula rasa – a dodgy 1980s computer with a screen that is permanently buffering. Someone capable of reinventing herself almost at will. And it just so happens that every time she needs some new ideas, she comes up with a set that exactly mirrors those that are needed to enable her to rise still higher in the Tory party. It’s one hell of a coincidence. Imagine one person having that much luck. It’s almost as if she doesn’t believe in anything at all. The ultimate shapeshifter. “Tonight, Matthew, I will be whatever you want me to be.”

For reasons not entirely clear to anyone, Truss has struck paydirt with version 3.0. It’s all but a certainty that her journey is now complete. No one is yet calling the next seven weeks a pointless extended coronation, but we’re not far off that point. Radon Liz’s latest incarnation has hit the Tory members’ sweet spot. Partly by not being Rish! – there are plenty who will never forgive him for betraying the Convict – but mainly by telling them what they want to hear.

Were she a bit brighter, she too would be amazed that so many people could forget that Rish! didn’t increase public borrowing and increase taxes because he’s a socialist. He did so because the country was falling apart in a pandemic. But when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll. And Liz is living her best life as the prime minister in waiting. So much so that she’s almost relaxed. As relaxed as AI gets.
She knew her plan for unfunded tax cuts wasn’t inflationary because Patrick Minford had told her so. This was the economist who had forecast that Brexit would increase GDP by 7% and that food prices would fall. Bring on the Nobel prize.

…if it’s true that we get the governments we deserve then clearly the UK hasn’t worked off that colonialist karma yet…no prizes for guessing why

Anger over the Partygate scandal has been reignited after Scotland Yard confirmed that it did not send questionnaires to Boris Johnson before deciding against fining him for attending two Downing Street lockdown gatherings.
The Good Law Project (GLP), a non-profit campaign group that has brought a judicial review over accusations that the Met failed to fully investigate Johnson’s presence at parties, said: “The Met’s actions have raised grave concerns about the deferential way in which they are policing those in power.
There was an angry reaction from former officials embroiled in the police inquiry, included one who pointed out that Rishi Sunak received a fixed-penalty notice for his presence at the end of Johnson’s birthday party, which the then chancellor was said to have wandered into as he prepared for another meeting.

Jo Maugham, director of the GLP, said: “Johnson isn’t going to be prime minister for much longer. But, for me, this continues to be about what it was always about: trust in policing and the rule of law. Seventy-two per cent of voters think there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. Why won’t the Met address that perception? Why won’t they just say what happened?”

No 10 declined to comment, referring queries to Scotland Yard.

…PR in the sense of proportional representation is effectively persona non grata in the UK (thanks in no small part to david cameron’s “clever” ploy of having a referendum on a specifically dreadful implementation of the idea designed to be as off-putting as possible off the back of which it was claimed that all possible versions of the thing were off the table thanks to a choice as irrevocable as brexit) but the other kind of PR…well…now we’re getting down to what wags the dog

Thirty years ago, a bold plan was cooked up to spread doubt and persuade the public that climate change was not a problem. The little-known meeting – between some of America’s biggest industrial players and a PR genius – forged a devastatingly successful strategy that endured for years, and the consequences of which are all around us.

On an early autumn day in 1992, E Bruce Harrison, a man widely acknowledged as the father of environmental PR, stood up in a room full of business leaders and delivered a pitch like no other.

At stake was a contract worth half a million dollars a year – about £850,000 in today’s money. The prospective client, the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) – which represented the oil, coal, auto, utilities, steel, and rail industries – was looking for a communications partner to change the narrative on climate change.
The GCC had been conceived only three years earlier, as a forum for members to exchange information and lobby policy makers against action to limit fossil fuel emissions.

Though scientists were making rapid progress in understanding climate change, and it was growing in salience as a political issue, in its first years the Coalition saw little cause for alarm. President George HW Bush was a former oilman, and as a senior lobbyist told the BBC in 1990, his message on climate was the GCC’s message.
But all that changed in 1992. In June, the international community created a framework for climate action, and November’s presidential election brought committed environmentalist Al Gore into the White House as vice-president. It was clear the new administration would try to regulate fossil fuels.

The Coalition recognised that it needed strategic communications help and put out a bid for a public relations contractor.

Though few outside the PR industry might have heard of E Bruce Harrison or the eponymous company he had run since 1973, he had a string of campaigns for some of the US’s biggest polluters under his belt.

He had worked for the chemical industry discrediting research on the toxicity of pesticides; for the tobacco industry, and had recently run a campaign against tougher emissions standards for the big car makers. Harrison had built a firm that was considered one of the very best.
Terry Yosie – who had recently been recruited from the American Petroleum Institute, becoming a senior vice-president at the firm – remembers that Harrison began the pitch by reminding his audience that he was instrumental in fighting the auto reforms. He had done so, in part, by reframing the issue.

The same tactics would now help beat climate regulation. They would persuade people that the scientific facts weren’t settled, and that alongside the environment, policy makers needed to consider how action on climate change would – in the GCC’s view – negatively affect American jobs, trade and prices.

The strategy would be implemented through an extensive media campaign, everything from placing quotes and pitching opinion pieces (so-called op-eds), to direct contacts with journalists.
While most climate scientists agreed that human-caused climate change was a real issue that would require action, a small group argued there was no cause for alarm. The plan was to pay these sceptics to give speeches or write op-eds – about $1,500 (£1,250) per article – and to arrange media tours so they could appear on local TV and radio stations.
“Journalists were actually actively looking for the contrarians. It was really feeding an appetite that was already there.”

Many of these sceptics or deniers have rejected the idea that funding from the GCC and other industry groups had any impact on their views. But the scientists and environmentalists tasked with repudiating them – arguing the reality of climate change – encountered a well-organised and effective campaign they found hard to match.
“What the geniuses of the PR firms who work for these big fossil fuel companies know is that truth has nothing to do with who wins the argument. If you say something enough times, people will begin to believe it.”

In a document dating from around 1995, shared with the BBC by Melissa Aronczyk, Harrison wrote that the “GCC has successfully turned the tide on press coverage of global climate change science, effectively countering the eco-catastrophe message and asserting the lack of scientific consensus on global warming.”

The groundwork had been laid for the industry’s biggest campaign to date – opposing international efforts to negotiate emissions reductions at Kyoto, in Japan, in December 1997. By then, a consensus had emerged among scientists that human-caused warming was now detectable. But the US public was still showing signs of doubt. As many as 44% of respondents to a Gallup poll believed scientists were divided. Public antipathy made it harder for politicians to fight for action, and America never implemented the agreement reached in Kyoto. It was a major victory for the industry coalition.
The same year as the Kyoto negotiation, Harrison sold his firm. Rheem decided that public relations wasn’t the right career, while Yosie had long since moved on to other environmental projects for the firm. Meanwhile, the GCC began to disintegrate, as some members grew uncomfortable with its hard line. But the tactics, the playbook, and the message of doubt were now embedded and would outlive their creators. Three decades on, the consequences are all around us.

“I think it’s the moral equivalent of a war crime,” says former US Vice-President Al Gore of the big oil companies’ efforts to block action.

“I think it is, in many ways, the most serious crime of the post-World War Two era, anywhere in the world. The consequences of what they’ve done are just almost unimaginable.”

…not that we really have to imagine those exactly at this point in proceedings

“I think it’s really easy to create a conspiracy theory about really pernicious intent of industry to completely halt any progress,” Rheem says. “Personally, I didn’t see that.

“I was very young. I was very curious… Knowing what I know today, would I have done some things differently then?

“Perhaps, probably.”
The audacious PR plot that seeded doubt about climate change [BBC]

…when even (or for many people especially) cold comfort is apparently too much to ask…well…in a shameless world the unrepentant man surely would like to be king

…I know mostly it seems like at the end of the day the jan 6th committee is what we get in lieu of serious legal consequences for all that law-breaking when it comes to the upper reaches of the MAGA pyramid scheme…but…wishful thinking or no…I still think the waterline on some of this stuff might rise higher than it looks like on the surface

Two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence testified last week to a federal grand jury in Washington investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the highest-ranking officials of the Trump administration so far known to have cooperated with the Justice Department’s widening inquiry into the events leading up to the assault.

The appearances before the grand jury of the men — Marc Short, who was Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, who was his counsel — were the latest indication that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the events surrounding and preceding the riot is intensifying after weeks of growing questions about the urgency the department has put on examining former President Donald J. Trump’s potential criminal liability.
Mr. Short also provided the House committee with testimony that highlighted the sense of threat that built from Mr. Trump’s efforts to derail the congressional proceedings on Jan. 6.

He told the House committee how he had informed Mr. Pence’s lead Secret Service agent on Jan. 5, 2021, that Mr. Trump was about to publicly turn on Mr. Pence over his refusal to go along with the electors plan, potentially placing a target on his former boss’s back. On Jan. 6, some members of the mob of Trump supporters that attacked the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” Mr. Trump reacted approvingly to the chants, effectively saying that Mr. Pence deserved it, according to testimony collected by the House committee.
Prosecutors have also issued grand jury subpoenas to several people connected to the scheme to create false slates of electors saying that Mr. Trump won the 2020 election in swing states that were actually won by Mr. Biden. Those who have received the subpoenas have largely been state lawmakers or Republican officials, many of whom put their names on documents attesting to the fact that they were electors for Mr. Trump.

The subpoenas, some of which have been obtained by The New York Times, show that prosecutors are interested in collecting information on a group of pro-Trump lawyers who helped to devise and carry out the plan.
The pressure campaign against Mr. Pence by Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman also played a central role in a court decision this spring by a federal judge in California who said that Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman had most likely committed federal crimes such as obstruction of a congressional proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

…& I know there’s a valid reason to stand on the principle that everyone deserves a proficient defense on the basis that you’re innocent until proven guilty…but when, as shakespeare put it, “that is an accident of hourly proof”…I’d be just fine with the defense for the fanta-faced fuher-wannabe topping out at giuliani-grade representation

On both the criminal and civil litigation fronts, former President Donald Trump faces a bevya of lawsuits and investigations, with more cases likely to follow. Some are civil suits stemming from his pre-presidential business dealings. Others are defamation claims from women he allegedly assaulted. More still are criminal probes and civil actions that scrutinize his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Chart below tracks all these cases. It will be continually updated as major legal developments occur.
Criminal charges—one would think—would be among the most damaging outcomes. After all, a criminal prosecution of a former president would be a singular event in American history. No former president has ever been indicted, much less convicted. Trump lost any immunity from indictment that he may have possessed as president the moment he left office on Jan. 20. To be sure, most of the criminal probes detailed below are in their infancy, so the odds of an actual conviction at this time remain improbable. Even so, the mere stigma of criminal charges against the former president could reshape the American political landscape and the historical understanding of Trump’s behavior.

The civil cases could certainly do their fair share of damage as well, directly or indirectly. If Trump falters in one of his business-related suits, his companies may be subject to massive penalties, or worse. Even apart from such sanctions, his empire is reportedly struggling under looming debt obligations and reduced revenues, a slump which could worsen if his reputation continues to deteriorate.

With these legal threats bearing down on the former president from nearly every direction, this tracker collects them in one place. Note: we have chosen not to include various cases involving Trump’s properties or the Trump Campaign —including slip-and-fall cases, allegations of bedbugs, water use cases, telephone spam suits, copyright suits, and discrimination suits—as they do not implicate Trump directly or it is very unlikely that they will. Below we’ve included key takeaways from each case along with case charts that explain the case’s main issue, procedural posture, and any upcoming deadlines. We will continue to update this information as new filings are docketed, new details emerge, new plaintiffs come forward or drop out, and other significant developments in the cases occur.

…so…I might not agree with every word…but I’m pretty much on board with the broad strokes of this argument

With the conclusion of this series of hearings about the Jan. 6 insurrection, it has become ever clearer to me that Trump should be charged with multiple crimes. But I’m not a prosecutor. I’m not part of the Department of Justice. That agency will make the final decision on federal charges.

The questions before the Justice Department are not only whether there is convincing evidence that Trump committed the crimes he is accused of but also whether the country could sustain the stain of a criminal prosecution of a former president.

I would turn the latter question around completely: Can the country afford not to prosecute Trump? I believe the answer is no.

…somewhat on principle…but also for more pragmatic reasons

He has learned that the presidency is the greatest grift of his life. For decades, he has sold gilded glamour to suckers — hawking hotels and golf courses, steaks and vodka — but with the presidency, he needed to sell them only lies that affirmed their white nationalism and justified their white fragility, and they would happily give him millions of dollars. Why erect a building when you could simply erect a myth? Trump will never willingly walk away from this.

Now with the investigation into his involvement in the insurrection and his attempts to steal the election, he is learning once again from his failures. He is learning that his loyalty tests have to be even more severe. He is learning that his attempts to grab power must come at the beginning of his presidency, not the end. He is learning that it is possible to break the political system.

Not only does Trump apparently want to run again for president; The New York Times reported that he might announce as soon as this month, partly to shield himself “from a stream of damaging revelations emerging from investigations into his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election.”

…in fact, while we’re talking about pragmatism…I’d bet quite possibly more money than I’ll likely ever see on the notion that the only reason he hasn’t declared a run is down to the interplay between his standing as a potential vs officially-prospective candidate & the legal standing of the proceeds of his grifting vis à vis disposition…& inevitably taxes & book-keeping

Trump isn’t articulating any fully fleshed-out policy objectives he hopes to accomplish for the country, but that should come as no surprise. His desire to regain power has nothing to do with the well-being of the country. His quest is brazenly self-interested. He wants to retake the presidency because its power is a shield against accountability and a mechanism through which to funnel money.
Perhaps most dangerous, though, is that Trump will have learned that while presidents aren’t too big to fail, they are too big to jail. If a president can operate with impunity, the presidency invites corruption, and it defies the ideals of this democracy.
Some could argue that prosecuting a former president would forever alter presidential politics. But I would counter that not prosecuting him threatens the collapse of the entire political ecosystem and therefore the country.

…I’d really love that last part to be hyperbole…but…well…they said the climate stuff was hyperbolic & a lot of people found that persuasive, too…I guess you got to ask yourself…do you feel lucky?



    • Some mischief maker over in Britain did a poll of Conservative Party members (those who get to vote; that’s about 160,000 Brits) and put Boris on the ballot too. He beat both Sunak and Truss. There seems to be an awful lot of regret about the how and why of Johnson resigning. As one columnist put it (I’m paraphrasing), “Boris Johnson ate a slice of birthday cake and has now resigned. Tony Blair consigned hundreds of thousands to their deaths (he cheerled the Iraq War) and he’s still bumbling around, taking cash from every tin-pot dictator willing to pay him (presumably this is reference to his advisory work in Kazakhstan).”

      • …it’s a masterpiece of post-hoc rationalization…but basically however they try to dress it up it comes down to the part where the tories clocked up a bumper majority with him at the top of the ticket…& the part where they don’t think the same would be true with either of the two prospective replacements currently on deck

        …that any sort of wider context might play into electoral results is given curiously (or, for my money, unrealistically) short shrift…but in rough & ready terms there’s enough truth to it to make an attempt to re-seat boris entirely more plausible than it has any business being

        • What’s interesting to me is the widespread loathing of Tony Blair when, at the time, he was one of the most popular PMs ever. The Tories seem to harp on the Iraq War, as if they were the Pacifist Party, and yet they treated the serio-comical Falklands War like it was the 20th century’s Battle of Waterloo all over again. The only positive attachment anyone has to Prince Andrew is that in his long and tumultuous grifting career he once flew planes over those sparsely inhabited midlantic rocks.

          I think here in America there’s still a lot of affection for Bill Clinton, Blair’s all-too-obvious role model, and he is certainly the number one reason Hillary had any political trajectory at all. Imagine Cherie Blair running for public office. She’s a deeply unserious person and yet, as a QC, sometimes presides over trials. I think she still does this, when not on “hols” or various “healing retreats.” And her weird blend of New Age woo/ultramontane Catholicism, who knows how that is going down in Britain. Probably not well.

          • …the blair thing is a mixed bag…in a bunch of ways the blair-esque bits of the labour party continue to maintain that his patented brand of tory-lite is their only route to electability…& a decent number of folks I know personally still tend to give him a fair bit of credit for doing some non-dreadful stuff…or at least presiding over a period in which that stuff got done

            …personally speaking I always felt like he seemed to think over-wrought sincerity was indiscernible from genuine integrity & basically lacked what you might call real conviction…which was not a popular take in the run up to his version of “new labour” getting voted in…but aged better than a lot of takes from around then wound up managing to

            …so…the loathing may get a little overplayed…though I’d argue it’s well-deserved?

  1. While I definitely support prosecuting Trump, I don’t think it’s going to happen. At one extreme end, Biden will step in to let him off the hook. Joe clearly doesn’t want this pursued, but that’s a major tactical blunder, from a conciliatory perpetual stooge. The Jan. 6 coverage + abortion is giving the Democrats the best chance they have of retaining Congress. Democrats suck at strategy and tactics, in case you’re not paying attention.

    That means “make the whole thing go away” (the other extreme end) is also a nonstarter. It’s gotten too big to sweep under the rug. Not should it be. “Can’t we all just get along” is not even remotely tenable at this point.

    The third alternative, which is what I think is being pursued, is to just slow-walk the whole thing, dripping out tidbits until November and beyond. It keeps Trump on the defensive, and despite the doom-and-gloom presentation of the popular press, it’s slowly eroding his support. It will never touch the extremists, but it is peeling off less insane “supporters.”

    The end game here is Trump dies, and then there’s nobody left to punish. And let’s be clear — it’s not hapless Democrats that are working this strategy. They can’t find their asses with both hands. It’s Liz Cheney, padawan of Darth Cheney, who’s masterminding this. I’m sure she’d love to see Trump behind bars, but she’d rather see herself running a revised Republican party. She won’t object to losing elections right now — Republicans are perpetual victims and being the minority party is a gold mine of grifting for them. She’s playing the long game here.

    • …if there’s a unifying theme between the mueller report & the jan 6th committee it’s got to be the whole stem-the-bleeding-&-salvage-the-remains-of-the-GOP thing…seems like bob & liz would see eye to eye about what ought to be subordinate to that concern

      …but in terms of charges…a lot may rest with garland but I think there’s a bunch of other folks in the DoJ who ultimately determine that stuff…& it just seems like there’s too many avenues of prosecution to really believe that none of them are seen through to the end…at least to me?

      …I’m not sure any judgement against him or his will survive an appeal to the current supreme court…& obviously they’ll continue to do any & everything to drag it out & hope to invalidate it…or just persuade people to pay little attention & care even less

      …but…all the same…I think prosecution(s) are more likely than not on the balance of probability…could be that winds up seeming naïve…but people who are better informed than I about the moving parts seem to suggest it’s more likely than not…it takes a frustratingly long time (particularly where encrypted stuff is concerned as seems to have been the case with a bunch of seized phones in that orbit) but I guess my money is on every thread they follow pulling up enough in the way of loose ends to make not keeping the snowball rolling ever harder to justify

      …whether it does any good in a sense other than some sort of eventually-historical-context I don’t know…certainly even cheney’s slice of the GOP seems likely to be on board the idea of not burning their electoral bridges so there’s doubtless a lot going into not trashing the party wholesale before the mid-terms…& very likely right through the next round of presidential elections a couple of years hence

      …but…there’s just so much of this shit…& if it sometimes seems like november might be coming up too fast for the really big chickens to come home to roost…it also seems like the part where some will is still more likely than not?

      …if I worry about that…which, let’s face it, I do…it’s mostly about the part where it could happen but not matter/make a difference on account of a combination of the supreme court & the results of the mid-terms

      …but I’m thus far not persuaded by suggestions that the legal jeopardy these folks are in is illusory…ymmv & all that sort of thing…but that seems to be where I’m at?

      • I could see popular pressure forcing some form of prosecution, but it will be slow-walked as well, hoping that Trump will simply die and solve the problem for everyone but his worshippers. They can claim he returned from the dead in three days and move to the desert.

        • …any given day could be the day he ODs on bile or otherwise pops his clogs in a manner that seems long overdue…& trying to make anything court-related take as long as possible is certainly a mainstay of their approach to legal defense…but I think the screaming urgency of whole surely-something-must-be-done thing makes it hard to factor in how long some of that stuff takes even when the brakes are off

          …at least the more I look into how the mechanics of the legal stuff works, the more that’s how it seems to me?

          • They will focus on toadies like Bannon first. There are a gracious plenty of bootlickers they can drag to court, claiming they’re “working up” to Trump. I mean, it’s not an awful strategy. Keeping him twisting in the wind waiting for the subpoenas is a pretty good way to hasten his inevitable rage stroke.

  2. Well. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this optimistic (overly optimistic, in my view) hot taek in the Washington Post:

    The first major prescription drug legislation in nearly 20 years. More than $50 billion to subsidize computer chip manufacturing and research. A bill that would enshrine protection for same-sex marriage.

    After a turbulent stretch in which much of President Biden’s legislative agenda seemed to be foundering, the president and his party may be on the cusp of significant wins in Congress that the White House hopes will provide at least a modest political boost.


    Joe Lieberman, Al Gore’s technically Democratic running mate in 2000 (D, then I-Aetna Insurance Company) must be apoplectic about the prescription price thing. It was Lieberman, the crucial final vote when the ACA passed, who almost single-handedly nixed the public option from the ACA bill and made it so that if you wanted to avail yourself of its benefits you would have to obtain insurance through a private company, many of them headquartered in Hartford. Thanks Joe. I was surprised to see this list of the major benefactors of pharmaceutical company largesse. Eight of the Top 10 are either Democrats or Bernie Sanders. Number 1, by a long shot, was The Big Guy himself, Joe Biden. I was almost certain it was going to be Bob Menendez or Cory Booker, NJ’s two Senators, because tons of pharma companies have set up shop in the Garden State, but no.


    I also wonder why Elizabeth Warren ranks so highly. I guess she shovels lots of Federal money to Cambridge-based research organizations.

    The computer chip stuff would be a good thing, I suppose. We shouldn’t be relying on mercurial yet ever hostile China for much of anything, but they do have that vast pool of practically slave labor. Not that an iPhone still doesn’t cost something like 7X the cost of its components. The problem is if a domestic manufacturer could figure out a way to profitably produce computer chips, they’d be doing it. They wouldn’t need bribes. And in the scheme of things $56 billion seems like a drop in the bucket. Kathy Hokum, Andrew Cuomo’s more than worthy successor when it comes to backroom deals, has already pledged over $1 billion for that ridiculous stadium up in Buffalo, another $1.3 billion (at least) in tax breaks to Steve Roth, the head of Vornado, who will add millions of square feet of office space to the area around Penn Station, in a market already saturated with dark office towers because so many work from home, and $637 million to a little known family firm that provides Covid tests to the government at prices higher than CVS charges. They, in what is nothing more than a coincidence, have donated collectively $300K to her. Their contract to provide these overpriced kits is a no-bid one, because every month she keeps extending her Covid emergency powers. This is the stupidest thing the New York legislature ever did, allowing Cuomo and now Hokum to govern this way, unfettered. Public emergency. It’s been more than two years. You’d think they would have figured out an action plan by now.

    And same sex marriage! Good for the Republicans for joining in. I think they’re finally figured out that gay people who get married tend to be stable and stabilizing forces, often white, often middle class and above, and sometimes, although I don’t know this firsthand, vote Republican. The Radical Faeries we are not.


    • …it’s a weird quirk of poorly-handled messaging but there are more than a couple of things biden et al have actually gotten through the senate that people in general either don’t know about or actively believe didn’t make it

      …the whole build back better bill being a good example…the parts that made it through were missing some things it would have been better if they hadn’t…but I recall reading something about a poll where the majority of respondents swore blind it never passed at all?

      • That’s very true, and the drawback to any infrastructure spending is it takes ages to get anything going. In 2008 when we had “shovel-ready” projects, like repaving a stretch of exurban highway, you’d sometimes see odd little signs that said something like “Funding provided by [whatever the enabling act was called]” but that was about it. Here in New York we recently got tens of billions, maybe hundreds of billions, out of the Feds, for mass transit and the schools and God knows what else, but that’s already been spent/squandered, disappeared like the occasional rains in the Sahara.

      • I posted this yesterday:

        I also read the WaPo article Matthew notes, and I was surprised to see the somewhat hopeful tone. Mostly everything is a “severe blow to Biden’s agenda” and “devastating to Democrats running in November” and so forth.

        • …apologies…was busy trying to remember where I’d read a non-twitter thing that talked about that kind of polling & it slipped my mind you’d put that up…I blame the low-grade frustration of not being able to figure out what it was I read that overlapped with it & a degree of I-really-ought-to-get-on-with-something-else…but it was an unintentional oversight on my part, either way

  3. Although I would  love to see trump perp walked and put in jail – at this point I’m more interested in going after the Insane Clown Posse of republican grifters and Nazi’s. Right now that’s the clear and present danger in my opinion. They’re brazen and loud and don’t care who they hurt. Trump is just a smokescreen to distract.

    It’s like the GA voter suppression laws – everyone was up in arms about not giving water to voters in line but hardly anyone was mentioning the fact that the GA republicans were making sure that they could change the vote if they didn’t like the outcome.

  4. Love this:

    The study identified a “grandparent effect”, by which people from privileged backgrounds over-emphasised the working-class credentials of extended family members, even though they have little impact on an individual’s life chances.

  5. Biden says Trump “lacked the courage” to do anything about Jan. 6.  Hoping this is a shrewd way of goading Trump into his Col. Jessup moment during this “policy speech” in Washington.

  6. welp…the farmers protest is now officially ruined


    i actually support the farmers…they are getting screwed hard by climate measures that dont seem to make a whole lot of sense to me (i mean…its a little odd that heavy industries and oil barely get measures but farmers get put out of business)

    getting hard to support the protests now the right and Qanon have decided its theirs too tho

    really…when trump and le pen are supporting you…well…it may be time to think about what your doing

      • eh…the farmers…most of them…are just thinking about their livelyhoods

        this whole fighting the tyranical gubment shit got tacked on as more groups decided to join in and ruin the whole thing

        but fair point

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