‘Tis the Cruelest Day: a Tuesday, and in this case Tuesday, December 20, 2022: National Sangria Day, celebrating a refreshing summer drink that shouldn’t be spurned if it’s made with decent wine and isn’t too sweet (a light and not too fancy Rioja is good). Everything you need to know about sangria, including recipes made with white wine or cava, can be found here.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 20 Wikipedia page.
*The Big Nooz is, of course, that the House Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots recommended that ex-President Trump be criminally indicted. NPR has published a 154-page “summary” of the report, which you can find here. I wasn’t arsed to read it immediately, but I suspect I’ll dip into it. From the NYT:
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol accused former President Donald J. Trump on Monday of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one more federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.
The action, the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution, is the coda to the committee’s intense 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in a violent mob of the former president’s supporters laying siege to the Capitol.
The criminal referrals were a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation. The panel referred five other Trump allies — Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro — for potential prosecution for actions the committee said warranted Justice Department investigation. The charges would carry lengthy prison sentences if federal prosecutors chose to pursue them.
. . .The committee’s referrals do not carry legal weight or compel any action by the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into Jan. 6 and the actions of Mr. Trump and his allies leading up to the attack. But the referrals send a powerful signal that a bipartisan committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes. Of 17 specific findings in the report, 15 center on Mr. Trump’s role in the plotting and the resulting chaos.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the referrals.
The referrals came as the lawmakers released an executive summary from their final report into the Capitol attack. The document, a narrative of Mr. Trump’s relentless drive to remain in power after he lost the 2020 election by seven million votes, identifies co-conspirators who aided Mr. Trump. But it singles out the former president as the primary cause of the mob violence.
“That evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: the central cause of Jan. 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the report states. “None of the events of Jan. 6th would have happened without him.”
I’m betting that he won’t spend a day in jail (any takers?), but I’d be happy if they made it somehow impossible for Trump to run again.
*The Washington Post has an article about what the Committee’s referrals to the DOG really mean. A few tidbits from that piece:
No former U.S. president has ever been charged with a crime, and the Justice Department would undoubtedly want to believe it had an airtight case before charging Trump.
. . .Does a criminal referral hold more weight if it is issued by Congress?
Legally speaking, no. But Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University, said the Justice Department would probably take a criminal referral from a congressional committee more seriously than it would referrals from elsewhere.
. . . . Criminal referrals increase public awareness that the committee believes the former president or members of his inner circle broke the law. As a result, the referrals could put more pressure on prosecutors to ultimately press charges, according to Richman [a law prof at Columbia University]. And, he said, they could serve to hold the Justice Department accountable if prosecutors on their own are not inclined to consider charges.
The referrals could also give Trump new ammunition for his frequent claims that the Justice Department’s investigations of him are politically motivated. Most members of the committee are Democrats; the two Republicans have been leading Trump critics. Trump therefore could use the referrals to bolster his claims that any Justice Department action against him is suspect.
*If Elon Musk were honest—and that’s a big “if”—his departure as head of Twitter is a fait accompli. Get a load of this article:
Elon Musk asked Twitter users Sunday if he should step down as head of the social media site. More than 17 million votes were cast and delivered a clear verdict: 57.5 percent said he should quit, in a Twitter “poll” that closed after 12 hours on Monday.
Mr. Musk had said he would abide by the results of the vote. After voting ended, there was no immediate response from Mr. Musk on Twitter.
If he follows through, Mr. Musk will be handing over the reins of the company that he bought for $44 billion in late October. The turbulent weeks since then have been marked by mass layoffs at the company, falling advertising sales, executive resignations and the suspensions of various high-profile user accounts for infractions of newly invented policy.
On Sunday, Twitter announced a policy to prevent users from sharing links and user names from other social platforms, like Instagram, Facebook and Mastodon, and then apparently curtailed the same policy.
. . . Mr. Musk’s latest actions with Twitter were “the last straw,” Paul Graham, a founder of the start-up accelerator Y Combinator, tweeted on Sunday. Mr. Graham had supported Mr. Musk’s takeover, but on Sunday he wrote: “I give up. You can find a link to my new Mastodon profile on my site.” His account was briefly suspended.
I liked Twitter the way it was: I didn’t follow anybody but could see interesting tweets sent to me by other people. I didn’t get a lot of hostile flak because I’m a small fish, and it was convenient. I don’t really care who’s in charge: I’m too old to worry about stuff like that, though it seems to be a social media firestorm. So it goes.
*In an article on Semafor by Ben Smith, Bari Weiss answers a bunch of questions about her new media empire on her renamed site, now called “Free Press.” Apparently it’s partly funded by Elon Musk, but when given access to Twitter files, she was quite critical, biting the hand that fed her without fear. It looks as if we’ll have very little more writing from Weiss as she builds her media empire. It’s an interesting piece. Here’s an excerpt.
“The risk for me is entirely clear,” she told me Friday, when I asked her why she’d decided to build a publication, rather than simply cashing in on her personal brand. “Am I going to be the anti-woke cancel culture girl and feed my audience that kind of political heroin every other day? I don’t want to be that. I want to build something that is bigger than me, that outlasts me, that forces me to question my own assumptions.Weiss, 38, spoke to me from her home-office in Los Angeles, in front of a bookshelf loaded with the works of Primo Levi, Nora Ephron, and the militant Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky, along with one shelf devoted to the works of Philip Roth and her friend Caitlin Flanagan. Another shelf was packed with French-language copies of Weiss’s own “How to Fight Anti-Semitism,” written after a murderous attack on her home synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
These days, Weiss stands at the meeting point of many of the tides washing through American media. She’s a big personal brand in the era of influencers who’s now trying to build an institution. She’s a pariah in New York’s twitter-obsessed left-leaning media circles, and the toast of the town in liberal Los Angeles. She’s a professional crusader against antisemitism who is conflicted over whether Kanye West should be thrown off Twitter.
Weiss bills the Free Press, which evolved out of her personal Substack and now employs about a dozen staff as well as contributors, as a new home for honest, independent journalism. It has so far written on what Weiss sees as the ideological capture of medicine, questioned the use of COVID vaccines for kids, and hosted a round table on the Black-Jewish relationship. (They don’t capitalize “black,” which had been one of the demands of Times employees when Weiss was there.) Attorney General Bill Barr also turned to Free Press to denounce Donald Trump. Depending on the day, it could be seen as heterodox, or as a never-Trump conservative outlet.
Its success or failure will go a long way toward answering the question of what she’s leading: Is it a movement toward some kind of new center? Or is it merely reactionary, a noisy rebellion against the left that will migrate dutifully into the Republican Party?
*And, as they say at the end of NBC News each evening “There’s GOOD news tonight.” Reader Rory, who I guess is from Belgium, sent me this:
In Belgium this week a duck became trapped in an icy pond but was luckily rescued by the local fire fighters.Video from the local news is here.The text at the link is in Flemish Dutch and translates to“In Oud-Heverlee a duck was frozen in the water of ‘t Zoet Water (the Fresh Water). Fortunately, the fire brigade was able to free the poor animal. If you see an animal frozen in the water, do not walk onto the ice yourself, but call the fire brigade.”
The fireman in the video reiterates the warning about the dangers of the ice for humans as well as other animals.
*Finally, Emilio Martinez, the goalie of the successful Argentinia World Cup team, made what the Brits call a “rude gesture”. (h/t Thomas)
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez shocked fans watching the World Cup final with a lewd gesture with the Golden Glove award after celebrating a penalty save with a David Brent style dance.
After the game he was presented with the Golden Glove, a trophy handed out to the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets.
And he proceeded to hold it in front of his groin and make a rude gesture as he made his way back to join his team-mates.
Here’s the “rude” gesture. Oy gewalt!
Let’s review the final once again. I love the very slight hesitation of Messi during his penalty kick, giving him just enough time to see which way the goalkeeper would move.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili gives Szaron the ultimate insult. And I thought Hili liked Szaron!
Hili: I would like him more if he were a dog.A: But you do like him.Hili: You are confusing liking with tolerance
Hili: Lubiłabym go bardziej gdyby był psem.Ja: Przecież go lubisz.Hili: Mylisz sympatię z tolerancją.
From Nicole. This was always my problem, too, as I was born on Dec. 30 and always knew that one of my Christmas presents (yes, we exchanged them) was put aside for my birthday five days later:
From Bruce, a Dave Whamond cartoon:
From Jesus of the Day, a worthy goal:
From Ginger K.: a special Lego gift for Christmas:
The Tweet of God (note that He’s moved to Mastodon):
From Masih; the demonstrations continue:
Awe-inspiring bravery of anti-regime protesters in #Karaj. 4 months of anti-regime protests are only getting stronger. Rape, jail, torture are not scaring them. Iranians want their dignity and an end to this child-murdering regime.#IranRevoIution
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 19, 2022
From Jez. Just wait until that kitten discovers its tail. This is a good one:
Kitten realizes it has 4 paws.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/cTULfWESDI
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) December 18, 2022
An old tweet from Simon that I forgot to post:
This still the most creative Halloween costume I’ve ever seen pic.twitter.com/9yRjUPZh10
— Hoodville (@Hoodville_) October 30, 2022
From Barry, who agrees with me that this was unintentional. Yet people are calling for the puzzle maker to be fired!
Do you see what I see pic.twitter.com/jBO7rBqksx
— JJ in NH (@JustJoshinNH) December 18, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: A girl, dead at 14 or 15.
20 December 1929 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Rudi Tilly Speijer, was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 20, 2022
Tweets from Professor Cobb. The first one is very beautiful:
Nature.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/xObNE2LFzo
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) December 19, 2022
Taken by a guy riding a bike in Buenos Aires when Argentina made its Cup-winning penalty kick:
This is during the last penalty shot. This is downtown. https://t.co/h2bOAAtVyy
— Ezra Jo (@ezrajo) December 19, 2022
This shows the skill of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels:
You're too close! pic.twitter.com/xIWJWWCi21
— jamie (@gnuman1979) December 18, 2022