Friday Talking Points -- Not Unlike Mr. Trump

[ Posted Friday, May 10th, 2024 – 17:40 UTC ]

This week saw a real climax in the criminal court case against Donald Trump...

(No wait... sorry about that... let's try again, shall we?)

Donald Trump's trial coverage finally had a big "money shot" during this week's testimony...

(OK, we sincerely apologize, but we just couldn't resist!)

You'll have to forgive us, but nobody really has any experience with this sort of thing -- an adult film actress/director testifying under oath in a criminal trial about a sexual encounter with a man who would go on to become president. Even Bill Clinton's got to be shaking his head in disbelief somewhere, one assumes.

Stormy Daniels spent the better part of two days testifying in a New York City courtroom, and from all accounts she did an outstanding job of it. She faced a withering cross-examination from Donald Trump's lawyers, but she weathered the storm (so to speak) and didn't back down. Trump's lawyers have been put in the impossible position of arguing that the sexual encounter simply didn't happen, and therefore Daniels made the whole thing up -- which precisely nobody believes. They tired to discredit Daniels as some sort of money-grubbing grifter who was profiting off of the whole thing, which (again) is a pretty impossible thing to plausibly argue when your client is the biggest grifter to trod the planet since P. T. Barnum. The high point of her testimony, for us, was when Trump's lawyer asked her: "You're celebrating the indictment by selling things from your store?" to which she replied with perfect aplomb: "Not unlike Mr. Trump."

Trump had to just sit and seethe during all of this. At one point he interjected: "Bullshit," which got him a swift reprimand from the judge (who politely instructed his lawyers to have a word with him immediately, saying: "You need to speak with him. I won't tolerate that"). But the key takeaway is that Trump finally seems to have met his match, at least in the playground-insults department. Daniels was downright eager to share her thoughts on Trump, in fact:

[Stormy] Daniels, by contrast, seemed to be having a blast. On the witness stand, she mugged for the jury, played with her hair and laughed at her own asides. ("People underestimate women, especially people in the adult industry, when they see blond hair and big boobs," she said.)

. . .

She portrayed Trump, naturally enough, as a sleazy old man. "I knew he was probably as old or older than my father," she said of Trump, 32 years her senior. When she arrived at the hotel penthouse to meet him, "he was wearing silk or satin pajamas... that I immediately made fun of him for and said, "Does [Hugh] Hefner know you stole his pajamas?"

Daniels also revealed one particularly sleazy detail, that should come as no surprise to anyone:

She testified that Trump had told her: "You remind me of my daughter because she's smart and blond and beautiful, and people underestimate her as well."

Even the defense couldn't resist introducing their own insults (which was admittedly rather bizarre). At one point, Trump's lawyer read aloud a tweet Daniels had sent which called Trump an "orange turd." And that was from his own lawyer, mind you.

Meanwhile, Karen McDougal -- the other woman who had sex with Trump and got a hush-money payoff to keep quiet -- will not be testifying, according to the prosecution. However, she did get in a subtle burn on Trump by tweeting out a picture of her in the bath preparing to read the book: "Catch And Kill."

In other "Trump legal woes" news, Trump had to pony up the $9,000 fine (the first one) for violating the judge's gag order this week. But Trump also got some good news this week, from two other places where he faces criminal indictments. In Georgia, the state appellate court agreed to hear Trump's challenge to having Fani Willis continue as the lead prosecutor on the case (due to her relationship with a lawyer who worked for her). The appellate court is notoriously slow, so this could delay things almost indefinitely. Down in Florida, the judge Trump himself appointed finally did what everyone was expecting and announced that the trial date in the national security documents case would be pushed out indefinitely to the future -- which pretty much guarantees that neither one of these cases is going to go to trial before the presidential election happens.

In "Trump minion legal woes" news, Steve Bannon lost his appeal of his contempt of Congress conviction. He could still appeal to the full appellate court or to the Supreme Court, but neither path seems likely to succeed. Also, former Trump lawyer John Eastman has had his law license temporarily suspended in Washington D.C., after losing his disbarment case in California. There are still some appeals to work out in these as well, but the end of the road seems to be Eastman getting fully disbarred as a lawyer. One can only hope, at any rate.

Speaking of ex-Trump lawyers, Rudy Giuliani seems to be in a hole and digging himself deeper all the time. Rudy's in trouble with the bankruptcy court because apparently he couldn't hold himself to a budget of only spending $43,000 each month. Hey, times are tough all over, right? To add insult to injury, Giuliani's radio show was just cancelled by the station which aired it, due to Rudy refusing to stop spouting lies about how the 2020 election was "stolen." So he just ended one of his only sources of income, which will certainly make his bankruptcy problems worse (one assumes).

Trump's campaign is in the midst of holding a sort of reality show for vice-presidential hopefuls. Almost all the candidates on Trump's not-so-short list appeared at his Florida golf resort and fell all over themselves proclaiming their fealty to the Dear Leader. Trump even mocked some of them to their faces, pointing out their shortcomings, which must have been at least a little humiliating. They then fanned out to the Sunday-morning political shows and tried to compete in the "refusal to admit reality" contest.

The basic thing all Republicans (especially those trying to become veep) must swear to these days is that they won't accept the 2024 election results if Trump doesn't win. This is downright dangerous for American democracy, since the peaceful transfer of power -- which begins with accepting an election loss -- is the absolute bedrock of our governmental system.

But denying reality is emerging as the new "principle" (if you can call it that) of the Republican Party all around. Just ask Kristi Noem! Not only is she still trying to live down bragging about shooting her puppy (and a goat, and three horses to boot), she's also refusing to actually admit that she flat-out lied about meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in her memoir. In any sane universe this would automatically disqualify her for seeking higher office, but Trump hasn't seemed to mind and is reportedly still considering naming her his vice-presidential running mate.

What else? Ann Coulter confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt precisely how racist she is (which wasn't really news to anybody).

Barron Trump is going to graduate high school next week, and Trump pretty much has to show up at the ceremony, since he used it as an excuse to get out of the courtroom for the day. Hopefully by then he'll have figured out how old Barron is (which he flubbed this week). Not exactly the warm and loving family man his lawyers are trying to portray him as, eh?

Barron was also briefly in the news when it was announced he would be one of Florida's delegates to the Republican National Convention, where he could cast his vote for his dear old dad. But then (trouble in paradise?) Melania's office announced Barron would not be a delegate, citing "prior commitments." But have no fear, nepo babies will be well-represented at the shindig, since Eric, Donald Jr., and Tiffany Trump are all still going to be delegates. One other family footnote: only Eric has bothered to show up for any of Trump's court appearances, so far.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, is out there being presidential. He gave a speech this week decrying antisemitism at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony. He also halted a weapons shipment (of offensive weapons) to Israel as a warning to Bibi Netanyahu not to launch a full-scale attack on Rafah, which is the first time Biden has used any real leverage in the war.

Biden also handed out 19 Presidential Medals of Freedom this week, to a varied bunch that included (in no particular order): Nancy Pelosi, Mike Bloomberg, James Clyburn, Elizabeth Dole, Phil Donahue, Al Gore, John Kerry, and (posthumously) to Jim Thorpe and Medgar Evers.

The best news of the week for journalists, though, was hearing that ProPublica won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for exposing all the seedy payoffs certain Supreme Court justices have been raking in for years now. It's good to see them get the recognition they deserve for bringing this tawdry story to light.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Representative Jerry Nadler deserves at least an Honorable Mention this week, for his explanation of why he voted against the "Antisemitism Awareness Act." He is, as he puts it, "an observant Jew, a proud Zionist, a strong supporter of Israel and a member of Congress who has spent a career fighting antisemitism," which is what gives such weight to his opinion. The whole thing is a very nuanced subject, which is why Nadler's piece caught our eye.

But we really only had one possibility for the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week, for a speech given on the floor of the House of Representatives:

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) stepped to the microphone on the House floor Monday to speak about one of her latest pieces of legislation, as she has done many times before during her five years in Congress.

But the voice that gave the speech wasn't hers -- it was from a text-to-voice application, an assistive device she uses to help her navigate a degenerative brain condition with which she was diagnosed last year.

Wexton's disorder -- progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) -- has largely affected her ability to speak, hear and move. With the help of the assistive app, the congresswoman on Monday spoke about legislation she introduced to rename a post office in Purcellville, Va., after former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who lived in nearby Hillsboro, Va.

"PSP makes it very difficult for me to speak, and I use an assistive app so that you and our colleagues can understand me," Wexton said in her remarks. "I am proud to be here today speaking in support of my bill to rename the Purcellville, Virginia, post office in honor of my former constituent."

Wexton went on to explain that Albright "was a fixture" at the post office, "which she visited often while living on her farm."

P.S.P. is "a rare neurological condition" that "typically progresses rapidly and has no cure." Wexton has already announced she will not be running for re-election this year.

But she is still being an inspiration in the time that she has left, and her speech this week by unconventional means showed bravery and grace even in the worst of circumstances.

Which is why Representative Jennifer Wexton is easily our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week. Oh, and in case you were wondering, her bill passed the House.

[Congratulate Representative Jennifer Wexton on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

Sadly, we have two contenders for this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, both of which we would file under "casual racism."

The first was New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who made this rather jaw-dropping statement:

On Monday, the governor was highlighting her $400 million artificial intelligence initiative at a meeting of billionaires and business leaders in California when she said, "Right now, we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don't even know what the word 'computer' is. They don't know these things."

Hochul was then forced to issue an apology, saying she "misspoke," and that she "regrets it." But we feel it was worthy of a (Dis-)Honorable Mention, at the very least.

Edging Hochul out this week, however, was Representative Jared Moskowitz, who tried to make a joke about South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem which promptly blew up in his face:

Moskowitz posted on X Monday about a CBS interview with the South Dakota GOP governor, who's facing national scrutiny for an upcoming memoir that discusses her killing of her dog and falsely claims she met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The Florida Democrat wrote of Noem: "Why am I getting the feeling that she wanted to eat dog with Kim Jong Un?"

The tweet, while referencing Noem's controversial admission to shooting her dog Cricket dead, also invokes a broad ethnic stereotype about Asian Americans.

"It was a joke about Kristi Noem and the dictator of North Korea -- 2 people, no one else. I took the post down as I didn't want it to be misconstrued and offend the broader community. I condemn those stereotypes and would never want to feed into them," Moskowitz told Politico in a statement.

"Misconstrued"? Actually, we think we all construed it perfectly, Representative Moskowitz. Condemning the use of such stereotypes is admirable, but not when you were the one to use it in the first place. Maybe next time think twice before shooting off tweets that you consider hilarious? For now, please accept this Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Contact Representative Moskowitz on his House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 751 (5/10/24)

A mixed bag this week, and we didn't even mention Trump's trial anywhere!

One note about our final amusing talking point -- we've heard this joke so many times this week it is impossible for us to properly credit any of the late-night comedians with the line. It's a pretty obvious retort to the most bizarre news item of the week, after all.


   Trump didn't build a damn thing

This one came from President Biden, in a speech he gave this week in Racine, Wisconsin. He chose the town for a reason -- to announce a new $3.3 billion facility to be built by Microsoft, as a direct result of Biden's policies. This news was welcomed by the locals, and Biden didn't hesitate to remind them of how Donald Trump had failed them after not only promising the town a factory to be built by Foxconn but actually showing up for a groundbreaking ceremony. After over 500 million taxpayer dollars were invested by the Trump administration and over 100 houses and farms bulldozed, the factory was never built. Biden is going to lean into the whole theme of "I got stuff done, Trump just made empty promises" for his whole campaign, and this was an excellent example of it. Here's what Biden had to say about Trump in Racine:

He promised a $10 billion investment by Foxconn. He came with your senator, Ron Johnson, with a golden shovel and didn't build a damn thing. They dug a hole with those golden shovels and then they fell into it.


   Border problem getting better

This will come as a shock to Fox News viewers, no doubt.

"Republicans make a lot of political hay out of the issue, but the news from the southern border is actually getting better. For the first four months of this year, illegal border crossings have dropped a whopping 40 percent. So the next time a Republican politician talks about the border crisis, I really wish some enterprising journalist would point out the facts, because illegal border crossings are actually way down this year."


   Crazies gotta crazy...

Republicans in disarray, once again.

"Marjorie Taylor Greene just tried to depose the Republican speaker of the house... again. I guess she wanted to get her face on television this week, or something. Thankfully, only ten other Republicans voted with her while the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats essentially told her to sit down and shut up. Even with Trump begging her not to do it, she still plowed ahead anyway. She was even loudly booed by members of her own party while she was speaking on the House floor. But the moral of this story is that this is what happens when you make House rules that pretty much guarantee the inmates will attempt to run the GOP asylum. Just chalk it up to 'crazies gotta crazy,' I guess, that's all you can really say."


   A one-time offer

Democrats let it be known, however that this was a one-time offer and that the next time the situation arose they'd be looking for Speaker Mike Johnson to offer up some payback for saving his skin once again. This quote was from Representative Pramila Jayapal, and we could not have put it better ourselves:

This is a one-time get-out-of-jail-free card. This is not a continued thing. And if we're going to be in a situation where Marjorie Taylor Greene puts forward more motions to vacate, then we need to be getting something.


   Republican ideologues throw in the towel

It's not political science... it's a personality cult.

"FreedomWorks announced this week that they would be closing their doors forever and dissolving their organization. The right-wing group had been instrumental in the rise of the Tea Party Republicans, but they just couldn't adapt to the party under Donald Trump it seems. FreedomWorks was an ideologically libertarian group that held certain values and promoted Republicans who reflected those values. But with Trump, there can be no cohesive value system, since Trump does what Trump feels like doing on any particular issue no matter what anybody else thinks about it. So FreedomWorks got tired of the complaints from both sides -- those who wanted them to help Trump and those who wanted them to instead stand up for their principles. As we've all seen, principles -- no matter what they may be -- simply have no place in Trump's Republican Party any more."


   A pretty weak showing

Taunt him -- he hates that!

"Seems like Donald Trump isn't all that popular with his own Republican base. The media has made a huge deal out of protest votes in Democratic primaries, but not so much for the Republican side of things. So you may not have heard that in the Indiana GOP primary this week Nikki Haley -- who dropped out of the race two months ago -- just pulled in almost 22 percent of the Republican vote. That is more than one-in-five Republican voters refusing to pull the lever for Trump! You'd think it'd be big news that Trump keeps getting rejected by a large chunk of Republican voters... after all, this might not bode well for him in November, right?"



This one is just too, too easy. Short and sweet is the way to go....

"What's that? R.F.K. Jr. says a worm ate part of his brain a while back? Oh... OK... well, that certainly does explain a few things!"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


9 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Not Unlike Mr. Trump”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    **Dept. of Wish I Thought this Up**

    “Worm Leaves Scathing Yelp Review of RFK Jr.’s Brain”

  2. [2] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    This week's MIDOW is newly-elected Texas state Senator Cook:
    "Cook, who came out as bisexual in 2021, will be the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to serve in the upper chamber, her campaign noted in a press release."

  3. [3] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Week after week, RFK Jr deserves at least a dishonorable mention; though he's running for President as an independent, he's a Democrat.
    'In a US presidential campaign season growing more bizarre by the day, the independent candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr offered “to eat five more brain worms and still beat” Donald Trump and Joe Biden in a staged debate.'

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The foreign policy failures of the Biden administration - certainly not a phrase I ever thought I would tap out, by the way - don't seem to be among the issues of concern to voters, as per usual. And, this time around, that's a good thing!

    What is on voters' minds, however, does indeed seem to be the economy, personal and in the overall. That is not surprising and is really par for the course.

    What does surprise me, though, is how Trump, in particular, and Republicans, in general, are still seen by voters to be the best stewards of the economy. It never ceases to amaze how Democrats have been unable to change this false narrative and make a clear case with reality-based arguments for why Democrats generally have the best pro-growth tax and fiscal policy prescriptions for the US economy, in good times and bad.

    Why can't Democrats finally, at long last, drive a stake through the heart of the Republican cult of economic failure!?

  6. [6] 
    dsws wrote:

    Well, because we're Democrats.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, get ready for a second Trump administration, in other words ...

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It would be one thing if Biden had something going for him other than the economy but, alas, he doesn't.

  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:

    Trump's lawyers have been put in the impossible position of arguing that the sexual encounter simply didn't happen, and therefore Daniels made the whole thing up -- which precisely nobody believes.

    I know, right!? Here's essentially what his lawyers are being asked to prove on behalf of Trump:

    Donald Trump never slept with Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, but if Donald were to have actually done that, it would have (obviously) been to protect his family from finding out and not because of any other reason, and also -- even though Trump has admitted on multiple occasions (through pleadings in a lawsuit, via Twitter, in a federal financial disclosure, through Rudy Giuliani and his own statements on live television, etc.) that he actually did reimburse Michael Cohen for paying off Daniels, Trump also wants you to believe that the parties involved obviously extorted him at the time (unbeknownst to him, of course) and then he reimbursed Cohen who insisted in a court of law that the NDA was enforceable against Daniels because Trump reimbursed Essential Consultants (Cohen's bogus company).

    Got all that?

    In his opening statement, Trump's lawyer actually stated that Trump did not reimburse Michael Cohen... despite the fact that Trump actually tweeted that he did to the entire world, Trump also filed a conflict of interest form to that effect, and Trump also filed a document in another court of law that stated he reimbursed Essential Consultants for the $130,000.

    I promise you the prosecutors are going to have a field day in closing arguments with all the inconvenient obvious bullshit that Trump's defense lawyer said to the jury in opening statements versus Trump's own tweets and statements to the contrary.

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