J6 Committee closing argument.
October 13, 2022
As is increasingly the case, there are many stories that deserve attention on Wednesday evening—most of which could be the “top” story. Finding the right balance between “important” and “urgent” is challenging. The work of the January 6th Committee meets both criteria, so let’s start there.
January 6th Committee nears completion of its work.
The January 6th Committee will hold its final hearing on Thursday, October 13, at 1:00 PM Eastern / 10:00 AM Pacific. Committee members have suggested that the hearing will focus on Trump’s “state of mind” during his attempted coup. The role of the Secret Service will draw scrutiny, including possible communications between a Secret Service member and the leader of the Oath Keepers. One member of the Committee suggested that there would be new “revelations” of importance. Finally, we should expect a “closing argument” from the Committee that Trump continues to be a clear and present danger to democracy.
No discussion of the Committee’s work would be complete without acknowledging that it has provided the definitive historical judgment on Trump’s efforts to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. In creating that record, the Committee has also changed the collective judgment of the American public regarding the events of January 6th. See Talking Points Memo, The Jan. 6 Committee Is Having A Measurable Impact On Voter Attitudes.
The TPM article above discusses a survey that tested the attitudes of the American public over the course of the J6 hearings. Here is an excerpt of the findings:
Many of those [who believed the] Big Lie changed their original view that Jan. 6 was a peaceful protest. Nearly twice the number of Americans who view the 2020 election as “stolen” and Jan. 6 as peaceful now view the events of Jan. 6 as a violent attempt to overthrow the government.
As the hearings continued, we also saw an increase in the proportion of Americans who viewed the committee hearings as fair and who believed that the Committee’s recommendations should be taken seriously.
Despite the modest changes in public opinion, there are tens of millions of Americans whose beliefs are insulated from facts, logic, and reality. But the J6 Committee has had an effect on persuadable Americans. That counts for a lot during these divisive times. All Americans owe the J6 Committee a debt of gratitude for the professionalism and fairness with which they have pursued the truth. Our democracy is stronger for its efforts.
CNN’s interview with President Biden
In a story that is receiving almost no coverage in the media, President Biden was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday evening. The full interview is here: Watch the full exclusive interview with President Joe Biden | CNN Politics. For anyone who was harboring doubts about Joe Biden’s mental acuity, I urge you to watch the first six minutes of the interview, where Tapper peppers Biden with difficult questions about Putin’s nuclear brinksmanship. Although Tapper was respectful, he was aggressive and tried to land several “gotcha” style questions. Biden handled those questions with ease, chose his words carefully, and corrected Tapper when the journalist tried to put words in Biden’s mouth.
Biden’s performance was both impressive and reassuring during a time of nuclear tensions not seen since the Cuban missile crisis. Biden’s performance was so good that Fox News was reduced to claiming that Tapper resorted to “soft serve” questions to make Biden appear to be mature, rational, and presidential. Ah, well! There’s no satisfying the propagandists posing as journalists at Fox News.
On the substance, Biden opined that Putin is a “rational actor” who “made a significant miscalculation” in invading Ukraine. At points, it was clear that Biden was talking directly to Putin. Tapper asked if Biden had requested the Pentagon to come up with a plan to retaliate against Russia if it used nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Biden looked straight into the camera and said, “I didn’t have to.” And Biden said that his reference to “Armageddon” was not meant to alarm the public, but to warn Putin that the cost of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be catastrophic for Russia. In dealing with such weighty and delicate matters, it is good that we have Joe Biden at the helm during this fraught moment in world history.
President Biden releases “National Security Strategy” document.
On Wednesday, President Biden released the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Security Strategy. The strategy document is worth your time to peruse (or read in depth). As noted by the NYTimes, the document is important for its acknowledgment that the US is facing different but related threats from China and Russia. Per the National Security Strategy document,
Russia and the PRC pose different challenges. Russia poses an immediate threat to the free and open international system, recklessly flouting the basic laws of the international order today, as its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has shown. The PRC, by contrast, is the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to advance that objective.
And, as noted by NYTimes,
Mr. Biden’s strategy is notable for its erasure of the distinctions between domestic and foreign policy; it argues that the source of U.S. strength will come from a reaffirmation of the nation’s democratic traditions.
Point taken! As globalization increases, the world shrinks, and the political dynamics in the US affect other nations—and vice versa! If we want to advance democracy around the world, we must protect it in the US, first.
Damning evidence of Trump’s criminal intent in obstructing justice and committing espionage.
An exclusive report in the Washington Post provides compelling evidence (if true) of Trump’s personal involvement in efforts to deceive the US government about his illegal possession of national defense secrets. See WaPo, Mar-a-Lago witness told FBI that boxes were moved at Trump’s direction. The key disclosure in the article is that Trump directed employees to move stolen documents from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago to his personal residence quarters after Trump received a grand jury subpoena for the documents. Thereafter, Trump returned a portion of the documents to the National Archives along with a false declaration (from a Trump lawyer) attesting that all classified documents had been returned.
Although there is much that can be said about this development, less is more: If true, the disclosures mean that evidence of Trump’s guilt is overwhelming, and it will be impossible for the DOJ not to seek a grand jury indictment. Stay tuned for more.
Trump must testify in defamation trial alleging that Trump raped E. Jean Carroll.
Trump’s misdeeds are catching up with him (finally). In a defamation lawsuit, E. Jean Carroll is suing Trump for calling her a liar for claiming Trump raped her in the 1990s. Trump is claiming that he was acting in his official capacity as President of the United States when he defamed Carroll and is asking the US government to intervene in the case. Trump asked for a stay of his deposition while the DC Circuit Court of Appeals rules on Trump’s request for intervention. That request for a stay was denied. See The Hill, Judge rules Trump must sit for deposition in rape accuser’s lawsuit next week.
Jury awards parents of Sandy Hook victims nearly $1 billion in damages against Alex Jones.
Alex Jones promoted the lie that no children or teachers were killed during the Sandy Hook school massacre. His listeners harassed the families of the victims in cruel and grotesque ways. On Wednesday, a Connecticut jury awarded the victims’ families nearly $1 billion in compensatory damages. See Vox, Alex Jones ordered to pay $965 million in Connecticut Sandy Hook trial.
The verdict is significant for several reasons. First, it will serve as a deterrent to others who peddle baseless conspiracy theories, including Fox News, Breitbart, OAN, etc. Second, the large compensatory damages award suggests that the jury will award an equally large punitive damages award (to be decided by the same jury next week). In general, damages based on willful or malicious injury (such as punitive damages) cannot be avoided in a bankruptcy proceeding—which Jones has already filed. In other words, Jones’s life will be a living hell from this point forward as he dodges judgment creditors—but that hell will be an infinitesimal fraction of the pain and suffering he inflicted on the victims’ families.
Rebutting Covid disinformation being spread by Florida.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a Covid anti-vaxxer and appointed an anti-vaxxer as the state’s surgeon general. One misinformation theory being promoted by DeSantis and the state’s surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, is that mRNA vaccines cause cardiac arrest in young men. That claim is false, but it has not stopped Ladapo from releasing an “analysis” (not a “study”) that claims mRNA vaccines lead to an increased risk of death among young men.
The “analysis” has red flags all over it—including the facts that it (a) has no authors willing to list their names on the article, (b) is not peer-reviewed, (c) uses an unusual approach that does not include a control group for comparison purposes, and (d) engages in data manipulation (known as “p-hacking”) to find groupings where a statistical effect appears in artificially combined subgroups that disappears when the study’s original subgroups are used. See Ars Technica, That Florida “analysis” on COVID vaccines is—you guessed it—total garbage.
There are simply too many criticisms to list, but here is one that leaps off the page: Because the study did not use a control group, it compares the same participants in the “risk” period and the “control” period to assess the risk of fatal outcomes after vaccinations. As explained in the article above,
continuing to count people who died during the risk period as if they were alive during the control period—is essentially calculating the risk of death among ghosts, which some epidemiologists say is a strange way to assess risk of death.
Ron DeSantis and his surgeon general are promoting Covid vaccine disinformation based on junk science in the month before the next wave (from Europe) is about to hit the US. Shame on them!
Are you going to a fundraiser in LA on Thursday? Say “Hi” if you see us!
My wife (a.k.a. Managing Editor) Jill Bickett and I will be attending a fundraiser on Thursday evening in the greater Santa Monica area. I assume we will be issued nametags, so if you see us, say “Hi.” If we don’t have name tags, I used to have a full head of blond hair and a mustache, but I don’t anymore. Hope that description helps!
Opportunities for reader engagement.
Please read my note in Comments section regarding Blue Wave Coalition Miami Dade.
Based on comments and emails from readers, many people are working at a frenetic pace to help ensure successful outcomes in November. Keep up the good work and don’t waste energy worrying about factors you cannot control! Maintain a bias toward action in all things, and remember to be a source of leadership, comfort, and community to those working by your side. Everyone is anxious and a bit overwhelmed, so a kind word or stray compliment can go a long way to lifting up someone who is worrying in silence. And remember, no effort to register voters or get them to the polls is wasted. Progress is incremental and accretive. New voters we engage in 2022 will be voters for life! Keep up the good work!
Talk to you tomorrow!
Here is a note from Blue Wave Coalition / Miami Dade:
Can you help us here at Blue Wave Coalition Miami Dade. It's crunch time now and WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP! Here is the situation:
We want to mail out 85,000 "slates" to 85,000 Democratic households in 8 swing race areas in Miami Dade. We mailed out all 30,000 slates to Vote by Mail (VBM) households on October 3 so VBM voters have them while filling out their ballots.
On October 19, we want to mail out an additional 55,000 slates to all non-VBM voters in the same swing districts but still need another $12,000.
Can you help us with a contribution? Any amount helps. $500 will pay for 1000 slates, $5,000 will pay for 10,000. We need enough money for 24,000 slates to complete our mailing.
Here’s the link: https://bluewavecoalitionmiamidade.com/elections/
Chairman Thompson's role in guiding the hearings has received insufficient attention due to the media spotlights directed at Representative Cheney. He's managed to wrangle a pile of cats unraveling a knotted ball of yarn with effectiveness and gravitas. Bravo, Mr. Thompson.