Challenge Accepted

Our job, as we see it, is to summarize for our readers, as best we can, the most relevant events of the fortnight. To compensate for the relative modesty of our resources, we have tried to offer more than the typical ration of historical context.

We have recently realized that our editorial judgment must henceforth be tempered by an additional consideration. Given the events of the past decade, existing trends, and their possible outcomes, is it even possible to accurately reflect the times without plunging our readership into despair and catatonia?

Without further ado, let’s find out.

It’s Good to be King

The Miscreant-in-Chief has once again provided we, the peasantry, with a backhanded bit of remedial civic education. His lesson, first articulated by Mel Brooks in 1981’s “History of the World,” was that it’s good to be king.

A federal grand jury has charged the former president with violating the Espionage Act by instructing his minions to haul box after box of national secrets down to his cheesy lair in Florida, storing them in a chandeliered bathroom, lying about having done so, refusing to cough them up when ordered, and so forth. Leaving aside his other transgressions, such an apparent crime wave by a Chief Executive would have a fiction editor flinging an apiring writer’s manuscript out the window, possibly followed by its author.

This already improbable trial, known as United States vs. Trump, was to have begun next Monday. Fans of courtroom drama who enjoy watching cartoonish villains getting crushed by draconian justice had their hopes up.

A week ago last Tuesday, though, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon ruled that it would be “imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court…to present this case to a jury.” Therefore, the entire shebang is postponed “indefinitely.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is rather unfortunate. The suspect is not just a former president. According to recent polls, he stands a good chance—well, let’s call it a significant chance—of being the next one, too.

We’re supposed to pick our leaders by making well-informed decisions. Here we have one of the major candidates seeming to have stolen boxes full of national defense secrets, potentially including OPLAN 8010-12, our current strategic nuclear war plan.* But we won’t know whether or not he’s guilty until after the election!

Just to put the boot in it, as the Brits say, if he does win he will have the power to pardon himself for this and whatever other federal crimes may be listed on his rap sheet.

Judge Cannon was appointed to the federal bench by the defendant in this case. That fact suggests to us the possibility of a conflict of interest. We lack, however, a fancy-schmancy law degree from Harvard, Yale, or even Trump University, whereas notable legal scholars seem to think the matter is not worth mentioning. So, having thus revealed our naïveté, we will simply move on.

In expiation for having doubted her, we will give Judge Cannon the benefit of the doubt, and assume she is not using her position to troll for an appointment to the Supreme Court. However, if she gets down off the bench and starts sitting at the defense table, we may reconsider.

Liz Dye, writing at the aptly named blog, Above the Law, is less inhibited.

She wrote on May 8th, “Citing the evidentiary issues under CIPA which [Judge Cannon] herself has failed to rule on as a reason this case can’t go forward is pretty ballsy. On November 3rd, Judge Cannon stayed the November 15th deadline, scheduling a hearing for March 1st to argue about scheduling, and then, after the hearing, taking an additional 40 days to set a new deadline of May 9th. …

“In other words, she’s let Trump and his henchmen spam the docket with garbage motions, been totally dilatory in ruling on them, and is now allowing the defendants to reap the reward from their bad faith behavior by postponing the trial. …”

  • Talk about a retirement package! What might that be worth to a certain shirtless, very strong leader?


The Heroine Gotham Deserves?

While Judge Cannon fritters away the public’s right to know whether the GOP’s certain nominee for the presidency is guilty of violations of the Espionage Act, that same defendant is actually on trial in another case. In our relentlessly-driven, market-based, “Be Your Brand” economy, multi-tasking is often necessary. Rarely, though, is it put to such sordid use.

Where the Florida espionage trial draws on the sort of materials Tom Clancy would use in a thriller starring Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford, the New York hush money and campaign finance trial brings to mind the late Larry Flynt and Ron Jeremy. If you don’t know who they are, good for you. Everyone, whatever their reading or viewing habits, knows who Stormy Daniels is by now. She gave her testimony last week.

Reading it, the person begins to emerge from behind the image of the porn star. Daniels attended a very strict Christian elementary school. Her parents divorced when she was four. Despite having a neglectful mother with a low income, she applied herself in school. She edited her high school newspaper, and graduated in 1997 in the top ten percent of her class for the country.

She loved horses and hoped to become a veterinarian. “I taught handicap rider lessons at the stable where I kept my horse in exhange for board and feed for my horse and riding lessons. And I shoveled manure. (Laughter). And then later I went on to dancing. … I started dancing on the weekends because I made more …in two nights than I did shoveling manure eight hours a day. (Laughter).”

Resiliance and a sense of humor were apparently key traits accounting for Daniels’ survival through an underprivileged life. Fast-forwarding to a golf tournament at Harrah’s, in 2006, she meets a man whose name is synonymous with overprivilege.

Q. – “Did you notice what [Trump] was wearing at the time he came when he came to greet you?”

A. – “Yes. He was wearing silk or satin pajamas, like, two-piece pajamas, that I immediately made fun of him for, and said, ‘Does Mr. Hefner know you stole his pajamas?’”

Q. – “What did Mr. Trump do when you said that?”

A. – “I told him to go change, and he obliged very politely.”

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s better behavior did not last. To her credit, Daniels wasn’t having it.

A. “At this point, I pretty much had enough of his arrogance and cutting me off and still not getting my dinner. So, I decided someone should take him on. So I said, ‘are you always this rude, arrogant and pompous? You don’t even know how to have a conversation,’ and I was pretty nasty. And I snapped. And he seemed to be taken aback. And I said, ‘someone should spank you with that. That’s the only interest I have in that magazine [with your face on it.] Otherwise, I am leaving.’”

Unfortunately, shortly after this valiant challenge, the latent power imbalance between a supposed billionaire and an adult film actress reasserted itself.

Will Daniels’ testimony result in the former president going to jail instead of back to the White House? Hard telling, not knowing. But at least we know this: for a brief, shining moment, someone stood up to him.


The Four Doofi of the Apocalypse

Meanwhile, in front of the New York court house referenced above, Rep. Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House, and thus the second person in line of succession to the White House, made a ritual appearance of subordination and fealty to the defendant. He was not alone. In fact, this seems to be becoming a new court ritual. Or perhaps that should be, “a courtly ritual”—as in, say, “the court of Louis XIV.”

In the those days men at court wore lace and ruffles and high heels and wigs and make-up—exactly the sort of getup that would get you jailed in Florida if you wore it while read to kids at school. Nowadays everybody’s much more up tight. So much so that it’s almost as if wearing a uniform were mandatory.

Johnson and a raft of other GOP politicians have been making pilgrimages from Swampville to New York, invariably dressed in blue suits with red neckties. Perhaps it’s our imagination, but we seem to have seen several different photographs of these Tweedledums, all in bunches of four.

On the one hand it’s disheartening to see such abject supplication to such an unworthy object of reverence. On the other hand, if they’re not in D.C., they can’t be voting to sell their consituents any further down the river.


Flynn Marker Supporters Say Goals Met, Will Not Appeal

Tuesday, May 14, Concord, New Hampshire—The sponsors of a historical marker about the life of Concord native Elizabeth Gurley Flynn said today they will not appeal a judge’s ruling that they do not have legal standing to sue the State for the marker’s removal. But they say that even in the marker’s absence, they have achieved their major goal, educating the public about Flynn’s history-making life.

Mary Lee Sargent and Arnie Alpert, who three years ago initiated the proposal for the Flynn marker in accord with established Division of Historical Resources (DHR) procedures, said they still believe the 20th century labor leader, civil libertarian, and advocate for women’s equality merits local recognition.

“The stated purpose of the marker program is educating the public about places, events, and people of historical significance, a category which certainly includes Elizabeth Gurley Flynn,” said Mary Lee Sargent, who taught American history and women’s studies at colleges and universities for several decades.

Sargent and Alpert said they will look into getting the State to release the marker to a local government or an educational organization which could protect and display it.

The Flynn marker was dedicated on May 1, 2023, but taken down two weeks later on the orders of Governor Chris Sununu. In August, Sargent and Alpert filed a lawsuit claiming the marker’s removal violated DHR procedures and statutes governing the marker program. The State objected, stating that the marker’s sponsors had no legal standing to challenge the governor’s action. Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger agreed, dismissing the complaint on March 20th.

Represented by Attorney Andru Volinsky, Sargent and Alpert asked Kissinger to reconsider his decision, but Kissinger declined.

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