CaturSaturday, June 10, 2023: Sabbath for all Jewish cats, and National Iced Tea Day. It’s a good drink, but I usually drink it sweetened, especially when eating barbecue, for which it is the perfect drink. Here I am chowing down on a chicken-fried steak and a quart of sweet tea (best served in big Mason jars) at Hoover’s Cooking in Austin, Texas. Look at the size of that monster!
It’s also National Black Cow Day (a root beer float), World Gin Day, National Herb and Spice Day, National Rosé Day (the wine), and the running of the Belmont Stakes, the last race in the “triple crown” series.
Today’s Google Doodle goes to a YouTube video (click on screenshot) honoring Willi Ninja, described this way in Wikipedia as. . .
. . . American dancer and choreographer best known for his appearance in the documentary film Paris Is Burning.
Ninja, a gay man known as the godfather of voguing, was a fixture of ball culture at Harlem’s drag balls who took inspiration from sources as far-flung as Fred Astaire and the world of haute couture to develop a unique style of dance and movement. He caught the attention of Paris Is Burning director Jennie Livingston, who featured Ninja prominently in the film. The film, both a critical and box office success, served as a springboard for Ninja. He parlayed his appearance into performances with a number of dance troupes and choreography gigs.
Here’s another short bio with scenes from “Paris is Burning”
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 10 Wikipedia page.
*All eyes are on The Donald, the first ex-President to face federal charges. But there’s a bit of a respite for him in that the judge before which he’ll be arraigned is a judge he appointed, and who gave him a couple of breaks in the early stage of the investigation.
Mr. Trump is expected to appear in Federal District Court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Judge Aileen M. Cannon is scheduled to preside over that initial hearing, according to people familiar with the matter. It was not clear whether Judge Cannon, who was criticized by a higher court for handing Mr. Trump a series of unusually favorable rulings during the early stages of the investigation, would remain assigned for the entirety of the case.
The indictment, handed up by a grand jury in Miami, is the first time a former president has faced federal charges. It puts the nation in an extraordinary position, given Mr. Trump’s status not only as a onetime commander in chief but also as the current front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to face President Biden, whose administration will now be seeking to convict his potential rival of multiple felonies.
Mr. Trump continued to rail against the indictment on Friday, calling it the “greatest witch hunt of all time,” in a Truth Social post.
Here’s what else to know:
The indictment reaches back to the end of Mr. Trump’s term in January 2021, when the documents — many of which were said to be in the White House residence — were packed in boxes along with clothes, gifts, photographs and other material, and shipped by the General Services Administration to his private club and residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
Two lawyers, James Trusty and John Rowley, have left Mr. Trump’s legal team, and will no longer represent him in the documents case. “I will be represented by Todd Blanche, Esq., and a firm to be named later,” Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social.
A recording of a meeting involving Mr. Trump in July 2021, six months after leaving the White House, is expected to be a key piece of evidence against him. During that meeting, he described a document in front of him as “classified” and “highly confidential,” according to a person briefed on the matter.
*The Washington Post has a handy summary and explanation of the crimes Trump’s accused of. There are four of them, and 37 charges total (!), but remember that he’s (also) under three other criminal investigations involving, respectively, the falsification of his business records in relation to the Stormy Daniels affair (a state crime in NY), his attempts to overturn the last election (a state crime in Georgia), and a federal investigation of similar attempts as well as trying to raise money from false allegations.
Trump is accused of violating seven federal laws but faces 37 separate charges. That is because each classified document he is accused of holding onto illegally is charged in a separate count, and his alleged efforts to hide classified information from federal investigators is charged in several different ways. His longtime aide Walt Nauta faces six charges, all but five of which are also lodged against Trump.
Espionage Act/unauthorized retention of national defense information: Trump is charged with 31 counts of violating a part of the Espionage Act that bars willful retention of national defense information by someone not authorized to have it. Such information is defined as “any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”
Conspiracy to obstruct justice: Trump is charged with one count of conspiring with longtime aide Walt Nauta to hide the classified material from federal investigators, by lying to the FBI about what was found at Mar-a-Lago and moving boxes of documents out of a storage room before agents searched the home.
Tampering with grand jury evidence: Trump and Nauta face two counts of trying to keep evidence out of grand jurors’ hands: one for withholding the classified documents and one for corruptly concealing them.
Concealing evidence in a federal investigation: For the same alleged conduct of hiding the classified information still at Mar-a-Lago, Trump and Nauta separately face one count of concealing evidence with the intent to obstruct an FBI investigation.
False statements: Both Trump and Nauta together face one count of scheming to making false statements for allegedly hiding from the FBI and the grand jury that the former president still had classified documents in his possession. Trump faces a separate count for causing his attorney to falsely claim in June 2022 that all classified documents in his possession had been handed over in response to a subpoena, according to the indictment
That is a LOT of charges! I’m beginning to think that, in conjunction with the other investigations he’s facing, The Donald is going to The Slammer.
*Why should Trump be indicted for keeping classified information when Hillary Clinton got off scot-free for storing classified information on her private devices? That’s a question that James French, and explains clearly, in his new op-ed “Is it right to make Donald Trump answer for the crimes he is accused of.” French’s answer is a firm “yes.”
As Comey said of Clinton’s storing classified information on a private server, “There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
But Comey declined to recommend prosecution because he said he couldn’t find evidence that the Justice Department had prosecuted any case under similar facts: “All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct or indications of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice.”
That’s the Comey test: no prosecution absent evidence of one or more of the factors above. I disagreed with the decision at the time and still disagree. I’m a former Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer, an Army lawyer who helped investigate classified information breaches when I served in Iraq, and I feel confident that I would have faced military charges under similar facts.
But once the Comey test was articulated, it should be evenly applied. And thus the critical question for the political legitimacy — and not just legal sufficiency — of the indictment is whether there is evidence of intentionality or obstruction in the Trump case that was absent in Clinton’s. (This is the same question that should be asked of the mishandling of classified documents by Joe Biden and Mike Pence.)
As of Thursday night, we had not yet seen the indictment, so there is a chance my assessment will change. But a review of the publicly available evidence indicates that Trump’s conduct likely does meet the Comey test. There is evidence of intentionality and obstruction.
*The latest edition of Nellie Bowles’s weekly and snarky news summary at the Free Press is called “TGIF: Tangerine squeeze and marmalade skies“, and this week it’s written by Nick Gillespie, editor at large of Reason (Nellie’s on vacation). I attach three items, but nobody’s as good at this as Nellie.
→ Joe Biden’s popularity has fallen, and he can’t get up: In last week’s TGIF, Nellie noted that the octogenarian President Biden took a couple of serious falls in plain view. A very public collapse by Jimmy Carter during a 1979 fun run and George H. W. Bush barfing on the Japanese prime minister in 1992 helped firm up the idea that those guys should be one-termers. Biden’s tumbles and bespoke word salads certainly aren’t helping his approval ratings, which remain stuck in the low 40s. In fact, his approval ratings have been very similar throughout his term to Trump’s, and we know how that worked out for the Liege of Mar-a-Lago. It must be worrying to Biden that his main Democratic challenger, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., seems to be maintaining or even gaining traction while pushing conspiracy theories and a hardcore anti-vaccine line, including the idea that his father was not killed by convicted murderer Sirhan Sirhan. (Read Peter Savodnik’s story about RFK Jr. here.)
→ More signs of the apocalypse, Taylor Swift edition: Hellish fires, check. North Dakota governor appearances, check. Revelations of contact with aliens, check. The return of Tucker, check. Here’s one more possible sign of the End Times: fans of Taylor Swift are reporting amnesia after her concerts, where tickets cost thousands of dollars. “It just feels like I blacked out for a whole day lol and now I’m just living life?? With no memories of the highlight of my year??,” wrote one attendee on Reddit. Our friends at Forward put a biblical spin on forgetting things after such a peak experience: “In the Talmud, rabbis discuss how after Moses’ death, Joshua forgot a large portion of the Jewish laws Moses had explained to him, and the halacha was lost to the Jewish people.”
But that was just Jewish law communicated on Mount Sinai via God. Imagine missing the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”
This next one really ticks me off. Increasingly, the stuff on the shelves at my local Walgreen’s and CVS are being put behind locked glass, and I have to ask to get shaving cream. OY!
→ Lululemon CEO defends firing workers for challenging thieves: Two employees at a Lululemon store in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, were fired for telling shoplifting thieves not to steal and filming the incident as the bad guys made off with handfuls of athleisure wear. Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald took to CNBC to defend the firing, saying that the company “has a zero-tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft.” (The word educators is Lululemon-speak for “employees.”) The way McDonald explains it, the policy is there to keep workers safe, but something is obviously deeply wrong when “educators” get canned for protesting brazen theft.
*Andrew Sullivan went to see the new movie The Little Mermaid this week, and had a mixed reaction. He liked Halle Bailey as the black mermaid, but then said that much of the movie was “woke stereotypes”. On the upside, read this (and watch the video):
The one saving grace was Halle Bailey’s spectacular performance — and her early show-stopper, “Part of Your World,” brought a classic gay Disney lump to my throat.
Her race? Completely irrelevant to the plot — but, it seems to me, a case study in why minority representation is well worth doing, if done right.
There was no clunky, ideological message attached. And there’s no reason a mermaid has to be “white”. Giving the starring princess role to a non-white actress was a completely cost-free way to give young girls of color a sense they belong in the Disney universe — try to watch this reax without tearing up. The casting also had the advantage of giving us an inter-racial (as well as inter-species!) love story.
And then he dilates on the infusion of wokeness, via minority characters, in movies and plays (the title is “When diversity works on stage and screen“). Much of the time it works, especially when you just forget about the character’s ethnicity, but sometimes it goes too far:
What’s bad, it seems to me, is representation by quota and representation as a form of virtue-signaling. By quota, I mean the hideous bean-counting of special interest groups demanding certain percentages of all casts be black or female or Latino or “LGBTQIA2S+”, regardless of the content. (Take a look, if you must, at GLAAD’s “Studio Responsibility Index.”) I mean casting with an eye to the story rather than “social justice.” Does anyone care that Succession barely had a single minority character? I know it helps in Hollywood if all the white people are evil, but still. Ditto the movie masterpiece, Dunkirk. Or the recent All Quiet On the Western Front.
By virtue-signaling, I mean demanding that straight actors be barred from playing gay roles — looking at you, Tom Hanks — and vice-versa, as if acting doesn’t allow for anyone to play any character, within reason. And I mean crude modern morality tales imposed on stories that cannot bear the weight: an ahistorical “nonbinary” version of Joan of Arc (at London’s Globe theater); a black lesbian version of Richard III (in Central Park right now); or a white female version of Othello (just kidding, we all know that would never happen).
Even in these cases, however, it’s possible to pull it off, and not merely be a political statement but an actual enhancement of the material itself. It’s just that sometimes, the wokeness detracts, rather than adds. In the current Richard III, for example: “Ali Stroker plays Queen Anne in a wheelchair, deaf actress Monique Holt plays the Dutchess [sic] of York and uses sign language, and Greg Mozgala, who plays both Edward IV and Henry VII, has cerebral palsy.” I suppose it’s possible to see through these woke gimmicks to the actual plot and characters (I haven’t seen the production), but I doubt it. The point of virtue-signaling is that the signals are seen and heard — above anything Shakespeare might have wanted to say.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is thinking in Cat:
Hili: I’m thinking.A: I can see it but I don’t know what you are thinking about.Hili: And I don’t know how to tell you.
Hili: Myślę.Ja: Widzę, ale nie wiem, o czym myślisz.Hili: A ja nie umiem ci tego powiedzieć.
And a lovely photo of Szaron:
From the B. Kliban Appreciation Society via Stash Krod:
From Masih, a heartwarming tweet from Iran:
“With or without the hijab, we all stand for the revolution”
This is a message from an Iranian woman who sent me this video from the city of Babol in Iran. Yes! We the people of Iran all agree. We don’t want the present authoritarian Islamic regime.#WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/zzh85Tbhwc
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 9, 2023
From Malcolm, the naked truth:
Difference between dogs and cats.
Cats don't care! 🤣🤣
— The Best (@Figensport) June 6, 2023
From Luana; the CIA does a crossword-puzzle AND an acronym version of Pride Month celebration:
CIA's 2023 theme for #Pride Month is WELCO-ME!
— CIA (@CIA) June 8, 2023
I found this one; a great volley ending with a point for Jimmy Connors:
Jimmy Connors won 109 tournaments including 8 grand slams, but this point is the defining moment of his entire fucking career. Enjoy.
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) June 9, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a 13-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:
10 June 1931 | A Hungarian Jewish girl, Zsuzsanna Bleier, was born.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 10, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. Wouldn’t you like to be the person in the first one? Sound up!
If you're having one of those days where only a penguin being tickled will do, here's a penguin being tickled. 🔊🆙️
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) June 7, 2023
The dexterity (and cleverness) of a snail:
— スズカ🗾🐌 (@pTeLaNOGHRtRPQ6) June 2, 2023
CRAB FIGHT IN SECOND TWEET! But who won?
— Sophie, formerly a lophotrochozoan (@biologizing) June 2, 2023