No Time for Truth

We don’t have enough time to fact-check every lie he told.

Jake Tapper, hosting the wrap-up of Trump’s CNN town hall

This week’s featured posts are “Why the Carroll verdict might matter” and “Normalizing Trump normalizes political violence“.

This week everybody was talking about the border

Title 42 was always a pretext. At a time when Trump was denying the seriousness of the Covid epidemic, his administration invoked a public-health law from 1944 as an excuse to stop migrants from legally seeking asylum in the United States.

At the same time, our system for processing asylum seekers is swamped, and Congress has refused to fix it. So the Biden administration, believing it had no better option, continued the policy until Thursday night, when the government’s declaration of a Covid emergency officially lapsed.

Ending the policy resulted in a surge of people crossing the border from Mexico, though apparently not quite as large a surge as had been expected. Resources to deal with migrants have been strained, particularly in border communities like El Paso, but also in Northern cities like New York or Chicago, where migrants often end up while they wait for their asylum cases to be adjudicated.

and George Santos

George Santos leaped into the headlines after being elected to Congress in 2022, because his entire biography was almost comically false. Now he’s been indicted for a variety of crimes. One charge is that he created a false campaign PAC and got people to donate to it, then used the money for personal purposes. Another is that he falsely claimed unemployment payments while making a six-figure salary.

The indictment had the same comical quality as most Santos news. Reading it, you have to wonder why he thought he could get away with any of this.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy is refusing to ask Santos to resign from Congress, because he represents a swing district in New York that could easily go for a Democrat in a special election.

If you’re not following North Carolina Rep. Jeff Jackson, you should be. He blogs and posts a video on Twitter every week, describing what’s going on in Congress in a very down-to-Earth way. Here’s what he says about the Santos situation:

Normally, if one of your co-workers gets arrested for a bunch of felonies related to their job, they don’t get to just come back to the office the next day. But he did, and it was really weird.

and the Carroll verdict

A jury in New York federal court found Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation. It awarded his accuser E. Jean Carroll, $5 million in damages. I discuss the implications of that verdict in one of the featured posts.

Trump’s attempt to spin the verdict focused on two things: The jury did not rule that Carroll had proved Trump raped her, and “you can’t get a fair trial” in New York City.

As he did with Russian collusion in the Mueller report, Trump is claiming vindication when in reality there just wasn’t enough evidence to condemn him. The jury did not say Trump hadn’t raped Carroll, just that she hadn’t proved it. The sexual assault was enough to invoke the damage claim, so I imagine there was not a big effort to reach unanimity on the rape claim.

The verdict makes a certain amount of sense when you consider the evidence presented. On the Access Hollywood tape, Trump confessed to a pattern of sexual assault — grabbing women “by the pussy” — but didn’t confess to rape. And the two witnesses who described being attacked by Trump told about attacks that were interrupted. So the rape claim was a purer he-said/she-said case, while sexual assault had more support.

Still, as I talk about in the featured post, being guilty of sexual assault is nothing to brag about.

Trump is appealing to federal appellate court. (The case was already in the federal court system, because the two parties were from different states.) But an appeal is not an automatic do-over. He’ll have to convince the appellate court that the original judge’s rulings were illegal in some way.

and CNN’s Trump town hall

The day after being found liable for sexual assault and defamation, Trump appeared on CNN with an audience of New Hampshire voters who had been pre-selected to be favorable to him. I discuss that in one of the featured posts.

For the most part, Republicans haven’t been willing to go after Trump, despite all the material lying around in plain sight. But Liz Cheney narrates this anti-Trump ad.

and you also might be interested in …

The Ukrainian spring offensive may be starting, as Ukrainian forces gain territory around Bakhmut. But so far it’s slow going.

The House Oversight Committee released a 65-page memo about its investigations of the Biden family, which so far have been a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

The House GOP accused Joe Biden and his family on Wednesday of engaging in business with foreign entities—but were unable to provide any actual evidence linking the president to any wrongdoing.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer released a 65-page memo detailing a sprawling investigation into Biden and some of his relatives, particularly his son Hunter Biden. Nowhere in the massive document was there a specific allegation of a crime committed by Biden or any of his relatives. During a press conference explaining the investigation, Comer was asked if he had evidence directly linking Biden to corruption. The Kentucky Republican hemmed and hawed but ultimately admitted he didn’t.

[As a commenter pointed out below, I have confused two cases: Daniel Penny is the guy who killed Jordan Neely in New York. Daniel Perry is the guy in Texas who killed a protester during a Black Lives Matter protest. Both cases are discussed in Jamelle Bouie’s NYT column Tuesday.]

Conservatives are defending Daniel Penny (the guy who killed homeless man Jordan Neely on the New York subway) as a “Good Samaritan”. (Examples: Ron DeSantis, National Police Association.)

It’s one more example of making the Bible say whatever you want. Anyone who knows and respects the Bible ought to respond similarly to David Roberts:

No way to exaggerate how fucked up and dystopian it is that the reactionaries are transmuting the parable of the Good Samaritan from “he helps the person having problems” to “he kills the person having problems but who’s making everyone else uncomfortable.”

Penny has been charged with manslaughter. Here’s the background on the story.

At this point there’s no way to quantify what race might have had to do with this incident and people’s reactions to it. (Neely was Black, Penny is White.) But if anybody is wondering what “Black Lives Matter” is supposed to mean, this is it: OK, Neely was creating an incident on the subway, though he had not actually attacked anybody. There’s an argument to be made for someone stepping in to restrain Neely until some authority takes charge of the situation. But restraining Neely with a chokehold until he dies is only a “solution” if Neely’s life doesn’t matter.

Maybe Neely being Black had nothing to do with why his life didn’t matter. Maybe it was because his behavior was outside normal subway behavior, or some other reason. But if Neely’s life did matter to Perry, he’d have handled the situation differently.

Turkey had an election yesterday. President Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, has been accused of instituting one-man rule. But it looks like Turkey is not so far gone towards autocracy that he can’t be voted out.

The upshot seems to be that no one got a majority of the vote, so Erdogan will face a runoff later this month.

A sidebar to the Turkish election is Twitter giving in to the Erdogan government’s demands to censor opposition tweets.

In response to legal process and to ensure Twitter remains available to the people of Turkey, we have taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey today.

Elon Musk defended the decision by making a lesser-evil argument:

The choice is have Twitter throttled in its entirety or limit access to some tweets. Which one do you want?

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales answered that question:

What Wikipedia did: we stood strong for our principles and fought to the Supreme Court of Turkey and won. This is what it means to treat freedom of expression as a principle rather than a slogan.

And Matt Binder points out:

Twitter used to routinely challenge Turkey’s takedown requests. Erdogan actually had Twitter banned in Turkey in 2014 for refusing to comply. (the courts later ended the ban.) but that was on the “censorship” version of Twitter, not this new “free speech” one

I’ll add this: An authoritarian government can always use its power to manipulate lesser-evil thinking. No matter what it wants you to do, it can make something worse happen if you refuse.

And maybe it’s just a coincidence that another Musk company, SpaceX, has a business relationship with Erdogan’s government.

Are you conservative? Do you think America has gotten too “woke” to be livable? Good news: Russia wants you!

In general, Grist is a good source for environmental news. Here’s an interesting article about green steel, i.e., steel produced without fossil fuels.

Relating to the normalization issues discussed above: Joe Biden should not debate unless and until a more legitimate challenger emerges. Currently, only RFK Jr. and Marianne Williamson have announced their candidacy. RFK Jr., in particular, is someone who should not be normalized. He is an endless font of anti-vax misinformation, from his vaccines-cause-autism days to more recent lies about Covid vaccines. He shamelessly repeats stuff that has been authoritatively debunked, and keeps misquoting scientists after they’ve asked him to stop. Watch SkepChick’s RFK Jr. takedown.

In general, sitting presidents running for re-election don’t participate in debates. There’s an argument for Biden breaking that tradition in order to challenge the perception that age has addled him. And I could see that if it meant sharing a stage with candidates of stature, like say, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, California Governor Gavin Newsom, or maybe Elizabeth Warren. But he shouldn’t give a platform to RFK Jr at all, and I don’t see what he gains by debating Williamson.

From the MAGA translation of the New Testament:

and let’s close with something adorable

An animal rescue shelter found Nibi when she was a week old. She’s never seen another beaver, but she seems to know how to build dams.

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  • Anonymous  On May 15, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Daniel Perry, (right-wing “hero”) is in Texas; Daniel Penny, (right-wing “hero”) is in New York.

  • George Washington, Jr.  On May 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    I’m not a lawyer. Can someone explain why George Santos and Sam Bankman-Fried were indicted so soon after their crimes were revealed, while we’re still waiting for action on Fani Willis’ case in Georgia and the DOJ prosecution for Jan. 6 that Jack Smith was supposed to speed up? Everyone said the document theft was a slam-dunk, but nothing seems to be happening. At some point, the standard explanations (“these are complex cases,” “they have to dot every I and cross every T to go after a former president,” and “federal cases usually take years”) sound more like excuses to waste time until we’re in the middle of election season, and the explanation will be “we can’t prosecute a presidential candidate, that would look bad.”

  • susanmbrewer  On May 16, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    Somewhat similar to George Washington Jr’s question, can anybody explain when Disney’s suit against Ron deSantis will move forward? Extra credit for context/circumstances affecting schedule.

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