As we head into the holiday season, and then into primary and caucus season, the runaway leader in the "race" for the Republican nomination for president - former President Donald J. Trump - has a turkey stuffed with indictments (93) and stockings stuffed with retribution.
It has been hard to keep up with all of the legal actions at play in Donald Trump's life at present. As of this date (11/19) there is a trial underway in New York state court, where the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has brought charges against the Trump organization for misrepresentation of property values for the purpose of getting lower interest rates on bank loans. Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump's organization has engaged in fraud. Still to be decided are six additional charges in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, Allegations include conspiracy, falsifying business records, and insurance fraud.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Cases include the aforementioned Mahattan DA's case, plus:
And then there is the Georgia election interference case, in which former Trump lawyers Sidney K. Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Jenna Ellis have already pleaded guilty..
AP News endeavors to stay abreast with it all, and you can follow this link for their most recent update.
All of these civil and criminal court cases will coincide with Trump's campaign schedule in both the primary season, and the general election. The whole world knows that Trump is pinning all of his hopes on regaining the Office of President so he can essentially pardon himself from some of these legal challenges, and delay and bully his way out of the rest.
There are problems with that hopeful strategy. One is the unlikelihood that he could win a general election given the inevitable weight these legal actions will have on his support. It seems highly likely that a certain number of soft Trump supporters will be pealed away by the stinch surrounding his 2024 candidacy. Those are the voters who could be enticed to support a third party candidate on the No Labels, or some other ticket. Trump lost to Biden by 7 million votes, and he isn't going to get more votes in 2024 than he did in 2020.
Democrat voters have been turning out in elections since 2020, and are far more motivated by abortion rights and other issues than are Republican voters faced with another Trump presidency. Especially one that would be focused on some really ugly obsessions, like revenge, never more awful than that without justification.
Retribution for what? Has there ever been a more shameless demogogue than Donald Trump? The Donald is promoting himself with religious language, even equating himself with Jesus Christ. It's enough to make an agnostic cry "Jesus Christ!"
The Old Deceiver - a more fitting analog - knows that his fate is totally dependent upon his ability to position himself as a martyr, exact nature unspecified, because he isn't. He's the iconic shady character trying to get around accountability for a lifetime of scamming and cheating others out of their money, and their reputations. Fruit seems to rot in his presence, flowers to shrivel. People who arrive in his court with good intentions get thrown to the wolves like fallen angels, fetid cheese. Trump plots the elevation of his own corrupt self. That's why he is looking at 93 counts of criminal activity, not because he's a victim of a criminalized justice system.
If Trump is Christ, his followers may be asked to explain why Christ has become so mean spirited. Shouldn't that be out of Christian character? (HINT: It actually comports pretty well with Christian history.)
The Democrats don't know what to do with themselves. Their man Joe has done a good job, on most accounts, but the public just isn't buying. Their best political thinker, Obama mastermind David Axlerod, says Joe, who just turned 81, should step aside. But for who? Kamala Harris? Everybody hates Kamala. There are some candidates announced as challengers for the Democrat Party nomination - Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson - but they stand a snowball's chance in hell of unseating the incumbant. Williamson is actually a weaker candidate in 2024 than she was in 2020, which is to say that hers is a vanity candidacy. Ditto for the recently announced Dean Phillips, who simply has the money and would like some attention.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is a big Biden supporter, but he'd like for Joe to graciously get out of his way. Might happen for Newsom, though some think Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker is building the better apparatus to steal Biden's thunder, or whatever he's doing on that throne. No one knows Pritzker. Newsom has the higher profile, and he's been baiting Ron DeSantis, candidate-style, even arranging a debate with DeSantis on FOX. Whoever heard of an unannounced presidential candidate debating another candidate, who has no chance of getting the nomination unless the leading contender dies or goes to jail, on a national platform? This seems to be the election cycle where most of the excitement is taking place outside of the usual conventions of electoral politics.
While the two-party system is taking a beating in the U.S., where now Independents are in the majority, history tells us that further splintering of the political pie tends to favor authoritarians.
Here is the current breakdown of political registration in the U.S.:
The trend away from traditional two-party affiliation has been so extreme that now both Democrats and Republicans are dependent upon entering into coalitions to gain and hold power.
In the upcoming presidential election, the coalition partners for the Democrats and the Republicans will be from the Independent, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties, but it is the No Labels party that is most unsettling to the political establishment.
Black activist professor Cornell West is announced as an Independent, as is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Jill Stein is running as a Green Party candidate. Chase Oliver is this cycle's Libertarian.
No Labels has no announced candidate, yet, but West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is not seeking re-election to the Senate, instead planning to travel the country to talk to voters about their needs. Otherwise put, Joe Manchin is going to run on the No Labels ticket.
It seems entirely possible that either Manchin and/or Kennedy could pull so many votes away from the Democrat and Republican candidates that somehow deals would have to be made.
It was deals that have kept Bibi Netanyahu in power in Israel, and it was coaliton deals that brought Adolf Hitler to power in Germany. Hitler never received more than 35 percent support at the polls and still managed to create the Holocaust. Palestinians may feel Netanyahu is presently achieving similar results in Gaza.
Third party candidates tend to ride waves of public doubt, despair, and skepticism, offering insights that no traditional poltical voice would.
Here, third party candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. names exactly who the man was who killed his father at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968. He fingers factions of the U.S. government, the one he hopes to control as the next President of the United States.
Whatever the Bibi Netanyahu administration in Israel was going to do, following the Hamas terrorist assault on Israeli settlers and concert goers, it was going to be dramatically wrong in the eyes of large percentages of people.
There were 1,400 Jews murdered in the October 6th Hamas attack, and in Israel passion for retribution runs high, aimed not only at Hamas, but also at Netanyahu. There is a conspiracy theory that his administration allowed the assault to happen. It is a story similar to the 9-11 story in the U.S., with a government working in passive collaboration with terrorists for the purposel of manipulating the public.
Israeli politics aside, the entire world community understands Israel's need to bring the terrorists to justice, but the Israel Defense Force (IDF) tactics in executing military operations against Hamas have neutralized that support. The IDF has been indiscriminate in their bombing of Gaza City, expressing by their actions that they consider all Gaza residents to be complicit in the murders of the Jews.
By all accounts, Netanyahu, in deference to the coalition of hardline anti-Palestinian leaders he has depended upon to stay in power, has determined that complete eradication of Hamas is the only acceptable response. It is demanded that he ignore the liklihood that Hamas' action created a trap for Israel that was perhaps their only hope to retain any power in Israeli relations.
Much of the Islamic community surrounding Israel was on the verge of normalizing relations with Israel. That would seem disastrous for Hamas, who was becoming a little isolated in their neighborhood. They likely felt that they needed to do someting dramatic to interupt what seemed to be the course of affairs. They created a field resetting event, turning the Palestinian people into victims recognized on a global scale, even rivaling the victim narrative that created the very Zionist state that is trying to annhilate them.
Is this really necessary to say? You should never, under any circumstances, bomb a hospital or a refugee camp or a civilian, residential community. In truth, you shouldn't be bombing anyone at all, especially when you are on a mission to find, and bring to justice, a defined group of murderers. To proceed with bombing under any tortured rationale of any kind makes you as much of a criminal as those who committed the initial crimes.
Have you noticed that the American media has begun the process of rebranding antisemitism? That dusty old word is believed to have lost its meaning, so it has been simplified to "Jew hate". It is more direct, but does a name change matter?
One senses that the powerful Jewish lobbey believes the old Holocaust language is no longer triggering the response they want, which is an end to the senseless demonization of the Jewish people, and acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel.
"Hate" has become a trademarked word, worming its way into everything from social-political slogans to Taylor Swift songs. It has been commodified, and in the doing of that it has been generalized and largely ignored, achieving the opposite of what has been intended with the use of the word. Now people hate "haters", and people who talk about "hate".
Conspiracy types, who feel certain that influential Jews own the media and spin the narratives to their own purposes, likely find it confirming that media coverage of the Ukraine war has virtually disappeared pending events in Israel.
U.S. Congressional support for continued funding is in jeopardy, and many Americans are wondering why public money is going to Ukraine when workers at home can't afford gas.
If you are a Baby Boomer and younger, which now could just about be restated as "if you are alive", you have grown up with actor/filmmaker Rob Reiner, son of comedy legend Carl.
Rob was 16 years old, in November 1963, when shots rang out in Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas, and changed the course of history.
We have all experienced national trauma. Israelis and Palestinians and Ukrainians and Russians are experiencing it right now. For Americans living in 1963, the trauma was televised. We saw the alledged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald be murdered, shot by a nightclub owner named Jack Ruby, on live TV. We were glued to the television for days, until the young president was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Rob Reiner remembers all of this first hand, and how immediately the lone gunman theory was developed and answered everything. But then, as years passed, books were published throwing the Warren Commission findings into doubt. There developed a sense that big influencers were at work making certain that their narratives were put forth as the absolute truth, even as new evidence continued to be revealed that indicated otherwise. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has helped to open cracks in the accepted storyline.
"Who Killed JFK?" is a podcast available on iHeart.
Rather than Miracle Grow and egg shells, try miraculous lies and bombshells.
Don't bother trying to make sense of that chart, other than to see that a significant percentage of the American population just doesn't believe in much of what they are told by the U.S. government.
This level of distrust is sufficiently high to challenge the very structures of our civic and civil infrastructures, from the court systems to the regulatory agencies to the defense and intelligence communities.
In the Rob Reiner podcast, Soledad OBrien states that only 15 percent of Americans now believe what they are told by the U.S. government. In 1976, belief in the government had been generally strong, but that period saw the 1975 Church Committee Hearings into activities of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and IRS. It created a foundation for citizens to openly believe things they had suspected could be true, and more.
The death of Princess Diana has added another chapter to the diary of how some among the public have lost faith in the stories that official narratives demand they believe.
If you are a member in good standing in the Writers' Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, or the United Auto Workers, you probably end 2023 with a measure of satisfaction. After all the turmoil, all the striking and walking around with signs demanding fairness, unions made real strides this year in the wages and benefits they could demand in their work places.
Why has this happened now, in a period in which traditional union Democrats are melting into a big lake of disenchanted Independents (and, to a lesser extent, angry MAGA Republicans)?
ANSWER: Tipping point. The income disparities between workers and owners have become so extreme that working class folks are finally fed up enough to risk everything to gain some level of improvement in their lives.
This probably couldn't have happened without the Covid-19 pandemic. That two-year long event sent people home and gave them time to assess their lives outside of the usual sound and fury, and they realized they are being screwed by a predatory capitalistic system that is not geared to their needs.
This is the zeitgeist inherited by Joe Biden, and it is the reason why his considerable accomplishments in office are going unappreciated. The unhinged, unregulated Trump administration had given people a temporary sense of economic gain, even as it was leveraged against spending and borrowing ($7.2 trillion) unlike anything the "spendthrift" Democrats had ever done. The numbers don't really support the notion that the economy was healthier under Donald Trump, but then Trump is a guy promising a return in America to a time of unspecified greatness.
Trump's effectiveness at mobilizing populist sentiment has had much to do with energizing the very folks he rails against: union members, the common working persons.
Remember when Elon Musk was promoting his flame thrower? I don't think we humans realized that the gleefully dancing, flamethrowing plutocrat, realized that it was just another chapter in his coming out party as a villain in a comic book movie.
We've gotten to know so much about Elon, who is presently destroying the "X" media platform, previously known as Twitter. Musk has turned the platform into a Nazi Party-oriented post sewer.
Elon entered the world in apartheid South Africa, was bullied as a nerdy school boy, endured a parental divorce, escaped to Canada, escaped to America, co-founded PayPal, made a fortune, married and remarried and had kid-after-kid, founded Tesla and SpaceX and Neuralink, and he filled the skies with unauthorized satellite chains and turned world governments into dependents.
Along the way he morphed into The Joker, becoming more-and-more unhinged in the manner of the television game show host (Donald Trump) he endorses.
Elon remembers being picked upon to much the same effect as does Trump, who always felt disrespected by the New York City business community that he was born into. Trump's problem was that the NYC financial elites knew Trump for what he was and is.
We are only now getting to know Elon Musk, the world's richest man. It turns out that what he has in common with Donald Trump is a love of authoritarian leaders like, dare we say, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Vladmir Putin, and Xi Jinping.
Like Trump, Musk has been revealed mean, and instead of repenting, shamed by some mistake he feels sorry about making, he has doubled-down, just like Trump (and Roy Cohn) would.
It's not going to end well for either Trump or Musk, which carries the very real possibility, given the influence of each man, that things won't end well for any of us.
RAR NOTE: I must admit that when ChaptGPT was introduced, I felt certain that my career as a writer, or content developer, was over. Then I started learning about how to use it in all aspects of my career - in my vocation and avocations - and I grew to love it.
Unfortunately, I also grew to accept it as a valid instrument, a quick way to get at the bottom line of things.
In my day job, I have come to use AI business applications, though the technology has already been deployed to everything from Photoshop to video simulation games.
My involvement has been with the version of ChatGPT deployed through Microsoft's Bing search engine, which I call "the Bing Robot".
That AI technology has burned me time and again.
It's biggest problem is that it scrapes the internet and then pieces together content that is often wrong, often contradictory. Part of this is "user error". You really need to develop skills around how you word your prompts, because the content you get back will be largely dependent upon how the AI interpreted your prompt (or query, to put the exercise in the context of API operations).
Another part of the problem is that AI content is developed in templates that are designed by the various companies leveraging the open source technology.
The templating of content represents a type of curation that places huge importance on the knowledge and insightfulness of the curator. As AI is deployed in various business sectors, AI product developers must be wizard-like in their understanding of their sectors' business needs.
Where the curation gets weird in pedestrian usage of AI has to do with Microsoft and Google and other search engine providers' nervousness over "hate speech".
My experience is that if you issue a prompt to the Bing robot asking for information on any topic deemed controversial, you are likely to get blocked. You'll get a little lecture on hate speech, with the AI assuming that your prompt is in service to a desire to spread hate and disinformation.
This is incredibly frustrating, limiting the AI as a search tool, because sometimes people just have questions about controversial topics. You can access information through regular Google searches, but getting that same information with the help of AI is a little tricky. You have to have your intent approved by the robot.
Often, the Bing robot is simply wrong, but stubborn about it. Yesterday I used the AI to get information on the legal proceedings against Trump in Georgia, which involves vote tampering. The Bing robot would not accept that three of Trump's former lawyers, indicted in that case, have pleaded guilty. I was told that was a false claim, and I got a little lecture about spreading disinformation.
When I quoted a New York Times headline about these guilty pleas, the robot apologized for its confusion, and then repeated exactly the same wrong information, and lecture, it had spat out with my initial prompt.
I got the impression, initially, that ChatGPT technology was alarming its creators by the extent to which it is doing networked learning.
I wonder if Microsoft has attempted to put guardrails on that technology by developing these curating algorithms that first assume we humans are up to no good, and even after being given evidence to the contrary, still may not provide any real help.
Don't you wish that someone would tell Michael Smerconish that his self-righteous insights into politics, media, and culture, become undermined significantly by his devotion to product sales?
One might ask, what is it about alternative media types like Smerconish and Alex Jones and their shameless sales pitches for whatever advertisers support them, and whatever products they profit from selling?
The answer is obvious. They are "snake oil" salesmen by their very natures.
Every time I hear Smerconish reading advertising copy, right alongside his earnestly serious deep dives into all the baloney he deep dives into, I wonder what kind of an operation SiriusXM is running. Can they not afford dedicated commercial pitch people?
Or is it that Smerconish can't get his gig at SiriusXM unless he gets down on both knees and reads the ad copy with great devotion?
Whatever, it seems like prostitution and is sick-making and undermining to the notion that Michael Smerconish is a legitimate analytical and media person.
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