It’s also National IPA Day (the proliferation of overhopped beers, usually IPAs, is a schande), Clean Your Floors Day, Grab Some Nuts Day, and, in Niger, Independence Day, celebrates the independence of that country from France in 1960. Now, however, it’s all messed up by a military coup.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 3 Wikipedia page.
*A NYT article describes all the twists and turns in the new Trump indictment, which represents an incursion into new legal territory. (See a similar article in the WaPo.). BTW, Trump will appear in court in Washington this morning, undoubtedly pleading “not guilty.”
Let’s have a poll!
But not since the framers emerged from Independence Hall on that clear, cool day in Philadelphia 236 years ago has any president who was voted out of office been accused of plotting to hold onto power in an elaborate scheme of deception and intimidation that would lead to violence in the halls of Congress.
What makes the indictment against Donald J. Trump on Tuesday so breathtaking is not that it is the first time a president has been charged with a crime or even the second. Mr. Trump already holds those records. But as serious as hush money and classified documents may be, this third indictment in four months gets to the heart of the matter, the issue that will define the future of American democracy.
At the core of the United States of America v. Donald J. Trump is no less than the viability of the system constructed during that summer in Philadelphia. Can a sitting president spread lies about an election and try to employ the authority of the government to overturn the will of the voters without consequence? The question would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, but the Trump case raises the kind of specter more familiar in countries with histories of coups and juntas and dictators.
In effect, Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought the case, charged Mr. Trump with one of the most sensational frauds in the history of the United States, one “fueled by lies” and animated by the basest of motives, the thirst for power. In a 45-page, four-count indictment, Mr. Smith dispensed with the notion that Mr. Trump believed his claims of election fraud. “The defendant knew that they were false,” it said, and made them anyway to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”
. . .Despite prognostications to the contrary, the last two indictments succeeded only in enhancing his appeal among Republicans in the contest for the party nomination to challenge President Biden next year.
In a court of law, however, the challenge for Mr. Trump will be different, especially with a jury selected from residents of Washington, a predominantly Democratic city where he won just 5 percent of the vote in 2020. Mr. Trump’s strategy may be to try to delay a trial until after the 2024 election and hope that he wins so that he can short-circuit the prosecution or even try to pardon himself.
The most essential facts of the case, after all, are not in dispute, nor did he deny any of the assertions made in the indictment on Tuesday.
Pardoning himself, of course, opens up a whole new legal can of worms, and I’m not sure whether he can short circuit the prosecution, save claiming that he can’t do his duties if he’s on trial. If he gets elected, the rabbit hole gets even deeper. I was ashamed of America when he won his first term but now that he’s
*Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo answers a number of questions you might have about the new indictment, including, “Can we get Trump off the ballot?” Here are a few Q&A’s:
Will Trump’s co-conspirators be charged?
It is altogether appropriate that Trump stand alone for the conspiracies that led to Jan 6. The historic, serious nature of the crime is emphasized with Trump being the only defendant. But what of the co-conspirators? They should be held accountable, too. They can be charged separately, but when is it likely to happen?
It is very likely they will be charged, too, unless they cut a deal. Still, keeping the case focused on Trump increases the chance of a speedy trial and holds out the potential that these people testify. It’s also worth noting that since five of the six people referenced in Trump’s indictment are lawyers, their status as co-conspiractors (indicted or not) largely disables the defense that Trump was simply following the advice of counsel. (You can’t use that defense if the lawyer is part of the criminal activity.)
Can we get Trump off the ballot?
Given the charges outlined by Jack Smith in Tuesday’s indictment for Trump, and those undoubtedly coming from Georgia for trying to interfere with the election there, could secretaries of state rule that Trump is ineligible to appear on their ballots under the 14th Amendment? Would it take some other entity to accomplish that? Obviously we can’t look to Congress.
Jennifer RubinIf a state attempts to do so, he would no doubt sue, and the case would likely eventually reach the Supreme Court. If he were first convicted on federal charges, there might be a better argument to invoke the 14th Amendment, although Trump was not charged with sedition. I think it’s unlikely he’ll be taken off the ballot this way. Maybe Republicans should finally put country over Trump and not vote for him? If not, the rest of the country surely must prevent a catastrophe for democracy.
How could it possibly be legal for Trump to pardon himself?Danella
That would clearly puts him above the law. Why do so many people continually suggest this is a possibility? I’d like to see it legally answered before the election.
Jennifer RubinI find the concept ludicrous. The pardon power comes from English common law, which allowed the sovereign extended mercy to others. In short, the president is not a king, and he is not his own subject. If the president could pardon himself, Nixon certainly would have. Moreover, if the president could pardon himself, there would be no need for a debate about whether a sitting president can be indicted. The Framers did not conceive of the presidency as a ticket to go on a crime spree without accountability.
*It’s astounding how Republican voters and politicians can justify all the indictments falling on Trump, and continue to support him. This lunacy is described in a WSJ article, “Indict, rally, repeat: reactions to latest Trump charges follow similar script.”
The new charges divided the GOP field running against Trump for the 2024 nomination, while triggering key Republicans on Capitol Hill to rally to the former president’s side. Among voters, the latest legal action appears likely to energize Trump’s most ardent supporters and exacerbate national divisions as the presidential race heats up.
. . .“Unlike the previous indictments, this could be a real political liability for the former president,” said Republican consultant Alex Conant, who led communications for Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign and served as a spokesman in the second Bush White House. “But only if his Republican challengers actually try to exploit it.”
That wasn’t the initial approach taken by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s closest current challenger for the nomination. “I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans,” he said in a tweet that made no mention of Trump or his actions after the 2020 election.
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy repeated his pledge that if he is elected and the former president is convicted, he would pardon Trump.
. . . Most of Trump’s challengers have been reluctant to directly attack him because he enjoys solid support with roughly a third of GOP primary voters. That means contenders have to find a way to try to knock him from the lead without alienating his supporters amid a large field that is splitting the anti-Trump vote.
. . .Democrats in Congress praised the indictment. “It’s about damn time Trump joins the thousands of domestic terrorists charged for participating in the January 6th insurrection,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D., Calif.) said.
Republicans called the case a partisan sham. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) alluded to the indictment as a diversion from President Biden’s current problems with his scandal-plagued son, Hunter.
“Everyone in America could see what was going to come next: DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the front-runner for the Republican nomination,” McCarthy said.
So it goes. Both parties are going to have trouble with Republican support for Trump, but in different ways. Democrats, on the side of the angels with this one, nevertheless have to worry that the indictments could improve Trump’s chances for reelection. Republicans, or at least the candidates, have to walk that fine line between calling attention to Trump’s crimes and alienating his supporters. I’d like to see the approval ratings in a month
*Robert Bowers, 50, who killed 11 Jews worshiping at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, was convicted earlier, but yesterday got the death penalty from the jury, a recommendation that the judge cannot overturn.
The jury’s decision, which is binding on the judge, was announced Wednesday in the same federal courtroom where the jurors in June convicted the gunman, Robert Bowers, 50, of carrying out the massacre during sabbath services nearly five years ago. The judge will formally impose the sentence at a hearing on Thursday morning, when families of some victims are expected to address the court.
Since I oppose state-sanctioned killing, and am opposed to all capital punishment, I think this next rabbi is sensible:
Rabbi Jon Perlman of the New Light congregation, who was leading services on the morning of the attack and lost three members of his congregation, said in an op-ed published on Wednesday that he did not believe executing Bowers “would bring either justice or peace.” Writing in The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, the rabbi said: “Revenge will not bring our slain loved ones back to life. And seeking it may even hurt ourselves and extend our sadness.”
This was a federal sentence, which means the execution should be carried out in Terre Haute, Indiana, but there are also state charges pending. Is there any sense in having another trial, though? Yes, because this one could be overturned on appeal.
After a jury determined on Wednesday that Robert Bowers, the gunman who killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, should face the death penalty, loud sobbing could be heard in a hallway of the courthouse and several relatives of victims of the shooting could be seen crying as they walked out of the courtroom.
Since the attack in 2018, there has been no consensus among victims’ family members and the members of three congregations at the synagogue about whether the government should seek the death penalty for Mr. Bowers.
. . .The election in 2020 of Joe Biden, who had pledged to end the federal death penalty, prompted speculation that prosecutors would reverse the decision to seek death for Mr. Bowers. But despite offers from Mr. Bowers’s lawyers to have him plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without possibility of release, the government stuck to its plan.
. . . The decision in the Pittsburgh case, prosecutors said in a motion in April, was based not only on the factors that make a crime eligible for the death penalty under the law — like the substantial planning that went into the attack, or the particular vulnerability of older adults and intellectually disabled victims — but also on other considerations.
If Biden is serious about ending the death penalty, he has the power to commute the federal sentence to life without parole. Will he do it? If he doesn’t, I’ll lose a lot of respect for the man. A promise is a promise!
There could be a new contender for heaviest animal to ever live. While today’s blue whale has long held the title, scientists have dug up fossils from an ancient giant that could tip the scales.
Researchers described the new species — named Perucetus colossus, or “the colossal whale from Peru” — in the journal Nature on Wednesday. Each vertebra weighs over 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and its ribs measure nearly 5 feet (1.4 meters) long.
“It’s just exciting to see such a giant animal that’s so different from anything we know,” said Hans Thewissen, a paleontologist at Northeast Ohio Medical University who had no role in the research.
The bones were first discovered more than a decade ago by Mario Urbina from the University of San Marcos’ Natural History Museum in Lima. An international team spent years digging them out from the side of a steep, rocky slope in the Ica desert, a region in Peru that was once underwater and is known for its rich marine fossils. The results: 13 vertebrae from the whale’s backbone, four ribs and a hip bone.
. . .The massive fossils, which are 39 million years old, “are unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said study author Alberto Collareta, a paleontologist at Italy’s University of Pisa.
After the excavations, the researchers used 3D scanners to study the surface of the bones and drilled into them to peek inside. They used the huge — but incomplete — skeleton to estimate the whale’s size and weight, using modern marine mammals for comparison, said study author Eli Amson, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany.
They calculated that the ancient giant weighed somewhere between 94 and 375 tons (85 and 340 metric tons). The biggest blue whales found have been within that range — at around 200 tons (180 metric tons).
Its body stretched to around 66 feet (20 meters) long. Blue whales can be longer — with some growing to more than 100 feet (30 meters) in length.
This means the newly discovered whale was “possibly the heaviest animal ever,” Collareta said, but “it was most likely not the longest animal ever.”
In contrast, the massive Brontosaurus is a flyweight, clocking in at a mere 34 tons. Here’s its size compared to a human and then its position on the scale of vertebrate weight. Look how big it is compared to an elephant! (Figures from paper.)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats have taken over the Staff Bed:
Hili: Aren’t you asleep as well?Szaron: Yes, but I’m pretending to be asleep.
Hili: Czy też nie śpisz?Szaron: Też, ale udaję, że śpię.
From Merilee (click to enlarge):
From BuzzFeed, and every word is true! All Chicago residents feel queasy when they see an uninformed tourist put ketchup on their dog.
From Masih, an Iranian actress arrested for doffing her hijab, and then sexually abused in prison:
A Young Protestor’s Harrowing Abuse by Agents of the Islamic Republic
This is Tabasom Jamalpour, a 20-year-old Iranian actress, standing bravely in front of a religious place in Tehran. She was arrested weeks ago for this photo, but was temporarily released yesterday. In prison,… pic.twitter.com/lPP57McImd
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 2, 2023
From Bryan: Dawkins and Helen Joyce discuss the difference between politely using pronouns and believing in a genuine sex transformation:
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 1, 2023
From Malcolm, a glass harp:
From Barry; look at Astaire go at age 70!
FRED ASTAIRE turned up at the 1970 Oscars and proved he still had it at 70 years old. pic.twitter.com/bqfD9DNGvV
— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) July 11, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a rare woman rabbi who died in the camp at 42:
3 August 1902 | German Jewish woman Regina Jonas was born in Berlin.
In 1935 she became the 1st woman ordained as a rabbi by the liberal rabbi Max Dienemann. Arrested in Nov 1942 she was deported to Theresienstadt & in mid-October 1944 deported to #Auschwitz where she perished. pic.twitter.com/p8VctzlDZd
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 3, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. These “gladiator crabs” may be on the road to speciation.
Emanuele Biggi's photograph 'Gladiator Crab' shows one of the resident freshwater crabs that live beneath Trajan's Forum in Rome. The river crabs choose not to inhabit the Tiber, but the ancient channels of the Cloaca Maxima Roman sewer system. Since their discovery in 1998,… pic.twitter.com/o1QhxgLom6
— Gareth Harney (@OptimoPrincipi) August 1, 2023
— Gabriel Finkelstein (@gabridli) July 29, 2023
A later version:
And a wonderful duckling rehab video from Dodoland!
Guy rehabs a wild duckling — who flies back to visit with his girlfriend! pic.twitter.com/iHqXIj9tLt
— The Dodo (@dodo) July 22, 2023