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Tudor Dixon Takes Aim at ‘Single Working Women’

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  The 1/6 Committee Hearings, Day 9: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
      •  Trump Hole Just Gets Deeper and Deeper
      •  The Economic News Is Not So Good
      •  Walker Wins by Not Losing Big
      •  This Week in Schadenfreude: Infowars Has Its Waterloo
      •  This Week in Freudenfreude: Or Was It... Murder?
      •  Today's Senate Polls

Thanks to everyone who sent in their well-wishes about (Z)'s bum knee! (Z) is humbled by, and appreciative of, your kindness and your support.

Below, as promised and predicted, is the post that should have run Friday, which was begun on Thursday night and completed on Friday night. Hopefully it is still cohesive.

The 1/6 Committee Hearings, Day 9: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

The (apparent) grand finale of America's best reality show, the 1/6 Select Committee Hearings, took place on Thursday afternoon. It is theoretically possible they could schedule another, surprise episode, but we kind of doubt it. The committee members have all said this is likely it, and they want to end on a high note (which they did), as opposed to something anticlimactic. Further, the goals are to influence the Department of Justice (already accomplished) and to influence midterm voters (soon to be moot). We suppose that if Mike Pence announced that he'd really like to appear, the Committee might add an epilogue hearing, but beyond something like that, the show is over. If you did not watch, and you would like to, you can do so here:

We've cued it up to the actual start of the hearing, so you don't have to watch 11:40 of the 1/6 Committee title card. You will have to skip over the 15-minute recess yourself, though.

For each of these hearings, we've listed the 10 biggest storylines, in our view. As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and so:

  1. Concluding Paragraph: (Z) often tells his students that, when writing an essay, the concluding paragraph should reiterate the main point(s) of the essay, and should not introduce substantive new evidence. Thursday's hearing was clearly organized along the same lines. The Committee spent most of its time and energy reiterating its main findings, and largely only added new evidence as the icing on the cake that was baked back in August.

  2. Trick, No Treat: The Committee made clear that Donald Trump not only knew he lost the election, he also knew well in advance of Election Day that he was likely to lose, and that there was going to be a "red mirage" on election night, due to the delay in counting strongly Democratic-leaning absentee ballots. Notably, the Committee displayed an October 31 e-mail from conservative activist Tom Fitton warning Trump that the election returns were going to turn against him late, and advising that the then-president should make certain to declare victory early in the evening in hopes of seizing control of the narrative.

  3. Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, Part I: In addition to documentary evidence, like the Fitton memo, the Committee shared testimony from various Trump administration officials speaking to the fact that he knew he lost the election, despite public claims to the contrary. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, for example, spoke of a cabinet meeting in which Trump apparently forgot the lie he was peddling, and declared that, as regards the problem being discussed, "we need to let that issue go to the next guy."

  4. Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, Part II: In addition to occasional screw-ups that speak to Trump's real mindset, there were also occasions where he outright conceded to administration insiders that he had lost. For example, there was new footage of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson recounting a conversation between Trump and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows: "I don't want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out. We need to figure it out. I don't want people to know that we lost."

  5. Afghanistan: A bit that is not getting nearly as much attention as we might expect is the revelation that Trump tried to rapidly pull out of Afghanistan and Somalia, so that Joe Biden could not reverse course and leave troops stationed in those nations. To those who are reporting on this, it's being held out as a further example that Trump knew he lost. Some outlets also observe that this is evidence that the military establishment, which did not follow the former president's order, had concluded he was out of control and his instructions were no longer to be honored. However—and this is an angle we've seen nobody bring up—this also reiterates that the Afghanistan withdrawal was largely Trump's handiwork, which undermines the right-wing narrative that the whole thing belongs on Biden's ledger.

  6. The Inside Poop: Speaking of debunking right-wing narratives, someone has to be responsible for what happened on January 6. And those who do not wish to blame Trump have cooked up what are basically conspiracy theories blaming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), decreeing that she chose not have proper security in place on that date, and that she refused to act even once the insurrection was underway. The Committee absolutely gutted that notion, showing 7 minutes of footage of Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) working the phones, and talking to lawmakers and law enforcement in an effort to allow Congress to get back to work certifying the election. The Pelosi quote that's getting all kinds of attention is this:
    What we are being told very directly it's going to take days for the Capitol to be okay again. We've gotten a very bad report about the condition of the House floor. There's defecation and all that kind of thing as well. I don't think that that's hard to clean up but I do think it is more from a security standpoint of making sure that everybody is out of the building and how long will that take. I just got off with the Vice President, but what we left the conversation with cause he said he had the impression from Mitch that Mitch wants to get everybody back to do it there. I said that, well, we're getting a counterpoint that it could time to clean up the poo-poo that they're making all over the, literally and figuratively, in the Capitol. And that it may take days to get back.
    Obviously, Pelosi & Co. were able to restore order in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, current and future historians get an excellent example of Pelosi in action for future study.

  7. USSS Under the Microscope: The Committee also shared some evidence that the United States Secret Service was much more aware of the risk of violence than the agents have previously let on. Rep. Adam Schiff decreed that when it comes to the statements USSS agents have offered, "Evidence strongly suggests that this testimony is not credible." Although Schiff did not specify anyone in particular, it seems clear he was referring in particular to then-Secret Service agent and Trump White House official Anthony M. Ornato, who pushed back against Cassidy Hutchinson's claim that Donald Trump tried very hard to go to the Capitol to lead the insurrection himself. Recall also that there has been no resolution to the question of the "accidentally" erased USSS text messages. The Committee said they will be putting the USSS under a bit more scrutiny, although with time running short, following up will really be a task for some other entity like, say, the Department of Justice.

  8. Criminal Referrals: Speaking of the DoJ, Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said that the possibility of making criminal referrals is still being discussed by the Committee. In other words, they have yet to reach a consensus on whether or not that is a good idea.

  9. Batter Up: Whether the Committee makes criminal referrals or not, it is clear that the members hope and expect that the DoJ will pick up the ball once the Committee has issued its final report. "[T]he violence and lawlessness of January 6th was unjustifiable, but our nation cannot only punish the foot soldiers who stormed our Capitol," said Cheney. "Those who planned to overturn our election and brought us to the point of violence must also be accountable." Since AG Merrick Garland & Co. have spent much of the past 2 years going after foot soldiers, it could not be clearer to whom this was addressed.

  10. The Finale: The very last thing the Committee did was arrange for a wide-angle camera shot from above, which allowed viewers to see that they had spelled out "GOODBYE" with rocks on the side of a hill:

    A shot from the final scene of
the final episode of M*A*S*H, where B.J. has spelled out 'good bye' for Hawkeye to see as Hawkeye leaves via helicopter

    Oops, wait. That was apparently some other final episode. What the Committee actually did, as its final gesture, was to vote unanimously to issue a subpoena to Donald Trump.

    Trump, as you may have heard, is not known for obeying subpoenas until he has no other choice. And there is zero chance the Committee is going to be able to enforce this one before it expires on Jan. 3 of next year. They might get lucky and goad Trump into showing up voluntarily, we suppose. But the clear purpose here was to end the hearings on a dramatic note that reiterates that the former president is a major part of the story of the insurrection. Further, once he fails to show up, the Committee will be able to say "We gave him a chance to tell his story, and he chose not to do so. Draw your own conclusions."

Overall, it was not a good day for Trump, and that's before we consider the other setbacks he suffered late this week (see below). You can tell it wasn't a good day, first of all, because Trump blew his top in response to the subpoena. You can also tell it wasn't a good day because the right-wing spin machine was operating on all cylinders, advancing a conspiracy theory that the Committee held its hearing when it did in order to distract attention from the CPI report issued on Thursday (see below). This conveniently overlooks that: (1) the hearing was supposed to happen a week ago, before being delayed by Hurricane Ian, and (2) the Committee could not have known if the report would be adverse or not. Oh, well, it's hardly the first time that folks like Marc Thiessen, Jesse Watters and Sean Hannity have revealed themselves to be partisan hacks.

Anyhow, the next (and presumably final) chapter for the Select Committee is the issuance of their report. Then, all eyes will be on the Department of Justice. (Z)

Trump Hole Just Gets Deeper and Deeper

As much as a very large and unpleasant microscope was placed on Donald Trump by the 1/6 Committee on Thursday, that was arguably not the worst news of the week for him. Heck, it might not be in the top three. Here's a roundup of the other stuff:

  • The Box Trot: On Wednesday, the news broke that an employee at Mar-a-Lago told the FBI that Donald Trump ordered a large number of boxes to be moved around before the premises were searched by the G-Men. Needless to say, this further suggests that Trump had something to hide, and that he took steps to do so.

    It's also worth noting that the insider account is not the only evidence the DoJ has of box moving. They also have security footage from Mar-a-Lago that shows the process in progress. Normally, one installs security cameras to provide protection, not to produce incriminating evidence. Maybe they do things differently in Florida, though.

  • Special Master of Trump's Domain: Trump is dangerously close to losing the war as regards the special master that is looking through the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago. To start, the Supreme Court declined to get involved, which means that the word of the Eleventh Circuit—which has shown itself to be exceedingly unfriendly to Trump's claims—is final. Following up on that victory, the DoJ filed a request with the Eleventh Circuit to cancel special master entirely, arguing that Judge Aileen Cannon was wrong to approve the arrangement in the first place.

  • Singing Canaries?: Trump adviser and former national security aide Kash Patel and Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, both testified before the 1/6 grand jury this week. They did not reveal what was said, but the odds are it wasn't favorable to the former president.

  • Don't Forget Tish James, Part I: Of course, the case in New York is still ongoing. New York AG Letitia James filed a brief this week observing that the Trump Organization has recently created a brand new company, creatively named "Trump Organization II." James says that this appears to be an attempt to hide assets, and has asked the court to prohibit any transfers of cash or property without court approval. She probably should have added "classified documents" to that list.

  • Don't Forget Tish James, Part II: Also on the New York front, portions of the deposition done by Donald Trump Jr. were released this week. In them, the younger Trump says he was not involved in the preparation of any of the Trump Organization's financial statements, such as those that apparently used fraudulent property valuations. We can think of two possible explanations here. The first is that the rats are deserting the sinking ship, and that we are approaching "every man for himself" territory in TrumpWorld. The other possibility is that The Trumps have decided that they will all deny, deny, deny, and will dare the government to prove which of them was actually responsible for the wonky financial numbers.

And there you have it. One of these days, they'll be able to do a full season of Law & Order just based on the Trumps. (Z)

The Economic News Is Not So Good

The last CPI report that is going to come out before the midterms was released on Thursday. Joe Biden and the Democrats would have liked it to be good news, because voters tend to be happier when things are headed in the right direction. Unfortunately for the blue team, it was largely not good news.

Here is a rundown of the main findings:

  • Prices rose 0.4% in the past month, and 8.2% over the past year.

  • The core consumer price index (everything except food and energy) rose 0.6% over the past month and 6.6% over the past year. The latter figure is the highest since 1982.

  • Real wages dropped 0.1% over the past month, and 3% over the past year.

  • Rents are up 7.2% relative to last year.

  • The biggest drop was gasoline (-4.9%). However, gas is climbing back up right now, thanks to OPEC production cuts, so it's likely that next month's report will be even worse than this one.

All of this makes it all-but-certain that the Fed will be hiking interest rates again. In fact, the general expectation is that the governors will do so twice, with increases of 0.75% in both November and December. We presume that they will wait until after the election, however, so as to avoid exerting an undue influence. Of course, further increases mean that a recession in 2023 becomes even more likely.

So, was there any good news at all? Well, the stock market was up at the end of the week. Beyond that, while the CPI report was worse than expected, it wasn't as bad as some of the ones from earlier this year. Progress!

There's also one other bit of news that could be good or bad. Social Security recipients are going to get an 8.7% cost-of-living increase, while at the same time Medicare premiums will drop by 3%. That is the largest cost-of-living increase in 20 years, and it's the first time in 10 years that Social Security payments have gone up while Medicare payments have gone down.

We assume that most Social Security/Medicare recipients know that these changes follow from a formula enshrined in law, and have nothing to do with the person occupying the White House. On top of that, the cost-of-living adjustment won't actually keep up with inflation (the average person will get $140 more per month, but will have $200 less buying power compared to this time last year). So, we doubt this will work to the benefit of the Democrats. That said, more money is more money, and you never know how people will react to that. (Z)

Walker Wins by Not Losing Big

Thanks to the delay in posting, we're able to add this item, featuring some Friday evening news. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Herschel Walker (R) met for the only debate they'll be staging this campaign cycle. And Walker managed to avoid any major screw-ups. So, he was able to show that he's not afraid to debate, and was able to do so without harming his candidacy. His campaign staff will take that all day long, and twice on Sunday.

Warnock's strategy for the debate could not have been clearer. He decided that he did not want to hit Walker directly on the abortion that the Republican allegedly paid for. So, instead, the Senator repeated over and over again that Walker is dishonest and that he often lies. It was left to viewers to put two and two together, and to conclude that Walker must be lying when he says he didn't pay for an abortion.

As to Walker, he did reiterate the "I had nothing to do with that abortion" claim. He also worked hard to connect Warnock to Joe Biden, and thus to blame the Senator for the President's failings, like high inflation. As we have pointed out many times, high inflation (or low inflation) has little to do with the person in the White House. It has even less to do with one of 100 U.S. Senators. But Walker is counting on people to not know that.

As you might imagine, Walker did have a few missteps. At one point, during a discussion of law enforcement, he pulled out a badge he'd brought with him. This was ostensibly to show his support for law enforcement, and perhaps to try to salvage his (since debunked) claim that he's a deputy cop. In any case, it came off as very contrived, and led to a rebuke from the moderator, who pointed out that props aren't allowed at debates.

In addition, when Walker was asked whether it is time for the federal government to step in and provide healthcare for the 1.5 million Georgians who are uninsured, he said this:

Well, right now, people have coverage for healthcare is according to what type of coverage do you want—because if you have an able-bodied job, you're going to have healthcare. But everyone else have health care is a type healthcare you're gonna get. And I think that's the problem. And what Senator Warnock want you to do us depend on the government. What I want you to do is get off the government healthcare and get on the healthcare he's got [pointing to Sen. Warnock] to get you a better healthcare. So that's what I'm trying to do to make you independent rather than dependent.

This is not exactly the most comprehensible thing that's ever been uttered, but what Walker was trying to say is that instead of federally provided healthcare, all Americans should get themselves jobs and should be given the same kind of super-awesome healthcare that a U.S. Senator has. Walker is clearly embracing the old, right-wing trope that the members of Congress grant themselves all sorts of special perks not given to John and Jane Q. Public. And he is revealing his ignorance of the fact that senators' health insurance is... federally provided.

So, if this was a forensics competition, then Warnock would have won on points. But from a political standpoint, Walker managed to hold serve and to avoid shooting himself in the foot too badly. That means the tilt is not likely to change the trajectory of the race, which is a big win for the Republican. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude: Infowars Has Its Waterloo

Over the years, there has been a fair bit of armchair psychologizing about the French general Napoleon, and the possibility that his aggressive military style was a form of overcompensation for his short stature or his small... hands, let's say. This strikes our resident historian as improbable; there have been plenty of guys who were short and/or had small... hands, and who did not become one of the greatest generals the world has seen. Further, Napoleon wasn't actually short by the standards of his day; that's an urban legend that originated from the difference between French measurements and British measurements in the early nineteenth century (5'2" in France was the equivalent of 5'7" in the U.K.). Needless to say, Napoleon's enemies were happy to play up the notion that he was short, or that he was small in other ways.

And that brings us to a modern-day American who, unlike the general himself, might well have a Napoleon complex. That would be Alex Jones, who is actually of slightly above average height for a 21st century American male (5'10") but who certainly behaves like he's compensating for some sort of perceived inadequacy. What that inadequacy might be, we do not know; readers can make their own guesses.

We have already made it clear that we view Jones as a worthless piece of human filth. We apologize for our verbiage, but we can't think of a way to say it more strongly without introducing actual curse words. He exploits his own supporters by selling them useless supplements and quack "cures." And then, on top of the grift, he engages in conspiratorial bullcrap that actively, and significantly, harms the people he targets. Most obviously, he consistently preached the message that the Sandy Hook shootings were a false flag operation, and that the parents involved made it all up in service of... more gun control legislation, or media attention, or something. We pretty much can't imagine anything worse than having your child gunned down before their life could really begin. Jones's activities added to that tragedy a vast amount of harassment from right-wing nutters, and online doxxing, and threats against the parents' lives. We honestly don't know how someone could target people so vulnerable, and so in need of support and sympathy, in search of a buck, and then sleep at night.

This week, karma reared its ugly head, as a verdict was reached in the civil case that eight Sandy Hook families filed against Jones. And the jury's decision was unequivocal, and clearly designed to send a message: They decided that Jones must pay $965 million to the plaintiffs. Inasmuch as he's already lost a couple of other, smaller cases, and he's got still others on tap, and the $965 million was just compensatory damages (punitive damages are still pending), his total liability is currently well north of $1 billion.

Jones, for his part, was not in court when the verdicts were read. In fact, he was hosting his godawful show at the time, and as each of the specific awards was announced (there were more than a dozen), he reacted with great merriment, declared "Ain't going to be happening. Ain't no money," and urged his supporters to keep buying his crappy products to "fight this fraud" and "save Infowars."

We suppose, given Jones' faux ultra-manly public persona, there was no other way he could have reacted. And it's entirely possible that he's still in the denial phase, or that he's actually dumb enough to think that he can put one over on the system, and keep the millions he's pocketed over the years. He is almost certainly wrong about this.

Of course, Jones and his attorneys are going to request that the judge in this case reduce the award for being excessive, and will follow that up with appeals. They may have some success in this, but even then, the damages are all-but-certain to remain in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Jones is also going to try to use bankruptcy to avoid paying a judgment, but discharging judgments from intentional torts and/or punitive damages is somewhere between "difficult" and "impossible." And it's not going to help that, on those occasions when he did attend the trial, he flew on a private jet and stayed in a luxurious private villa he leased—not exactly circumstances that support Jones' claims of poverty. Jones might also try to hide his assets with various tricks, but this is not easy to pull off. And, at such point that this kind of trickery was discovered, Jones would be subject to additional sanctions, including additional fines and/or imprisonment.

Truth be told, probably the best option for Jones is to open up settlement talks with the families to whom he now owes money. It's estimated that he's actually worth between $150 million and $250 million. If he offered, say, $100 million to the plaintiffs, they might prefer that bird in the hand as opposed to spending the next 5-10 years fighting for $1 billion worth of birds in the bush. That kind of money would be enough to let them get whatever psychological help they need, to support whatever charitable/activist interests they want to support, etc. That said, Jones' ego and greed might be too great to allow him to consider this course of action. And even if he's amenable, it could be the case that the families' primary concern is burning his evil empire to the ground, and that no settlement will be accepted.

Add it up, and Jones will likely be "broke for the rest of his life," according to former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman. And frankly, we cannot think of any story more worthy for the schadenfreude feature than that. (Z)

This Week in Freudenfreude: Or Was It... Murder?

This week, as many readers will know, the actress Angela Lansbury passed away, just shy of her 97th birthday.

Lansbury had a career that can only be described as "brilliant." If we solely considered her career in movies, she would be one of the great stars in Hollywood history. She was thrice nominated for Oscars, for Gaslight (1944), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). All three of those films are classics, particularly the latter. In addition, she also appeared in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1982) and A Talent for Murder (1983), among other pictures. And, in the final decades of her career, she did much voice work, including the Disney films Beauty and the Beast and Anastasia.

But as impressive as this filmography is, Lansbury's real forte was the theater. Although she never actually won an Oscar, nor an Emmy (setting the record for most noms without a win), she was a five-time Tony award winner, for Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Gypsy (1975), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), and Blithe Spirit (2009). The theatrical chapter of her career, and in particular her work on Mame, made Lansbury an icon in the LGBTQ+ community; she said that she was "very proud of that fact."

And then there is Lansbury's TV career. The thing she will be most remembered for is her run on Murder, She Wrote, which was a stalwart of CBS' Sunday night lineup for more than a decade. The headline of this item is a reference to the main catchphrase of that show; Lansbury played a murder mystery author who was constantly uncovering (and solving) actual murders. Given that the show was set primarily in a small town in Maine, and yet there managed to be a murder every week, it's been calculated that sleepy Cabot Cove had a much worse problem with homicides than modern-day Tijuana, St. Louis, or Caracas. Oh, well, either you buy the bit or you don't.

It is, and has been, fashionable to crap on PG-rated, non-edgy fare like Murder, She Wrote. For example, Celia Viggo Wexler wrote a piece for NBC News this week that had the headline: "The American mystery show was the epitome of a genre that failed to challenge either its stars or their audiences." In the body of the piece, Wexler decrees that "no tears should be shed for [Murder, She Wrote]" and complains that the show "did not take risks" and featured "uninspiring musical cues" and "canned lines." Hm. Ms. Wexler must be fun at parties.

We would observe, in response to this, that 1980s TV was not exactly jam-packed with challenging, edgy fare. That was the last decade in which network television was king, which meant that there were exactly three broadcast slots at any point in the national TV broadcast day (four, once Fox joined the party). That meant that shows had to be broadly accessible. And the fact is that Murder, She Wrote brought a lot of enjoyment to millions and millions of viewers. That includes (Z)'s grandmother, who regarded the program as her favorite show. Brightening people's lives a little bit each week is no small thing, even if you do not also cause them to meditate on the great conundrums of the human condition.

Further, even if the show did not directly challenge viewers, it was sneaky challenging. Maude, featuring Lansbury's best friend Bea Arthur, ran from 1972-78. Murder, She Wrote was on from 1984-96. The Golden Girls, also featuring Arthur (and Betty White, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan) ran from 1985-92. That's three shows, in close proximity, that featured independent, assertive older women. In other words, they were sneaky feminist (OK, Maude was overtly feminist). Such shows are unremarkable today, but in the 1970s and 1980s they were groundbreaking, in the same way that The Cosby Show (1984-92) exposed many Americans to a middle-class, educated Black family for the first time (it is, of course, too bad that Bill Cosby turned out to be a lech).

In addition to her remarkable and inspiring career, Lansbury was also an upstanding human being. For example, she used her pull to get roles on Murder, She Wrote for many co-stars from early in her career who were having trouble finding work. These jobs often allowed these colleagues to maintain their union cards, and thus their health insurance. (Z) actually had some personal experience with Lansbury, as well, as she regularly ate at a restaurant just a few blocks from his residence (makes sense, since the restaurant was owned by Lansbury's daughter). On one occasion, (Z) was entering the restaurant just as Lansbury was leaving, and was able to tell her how much his grandmother had enjoyed her work. The actress was very gracious, even though she'd undoubtedly had that conversation a thousand times before.

In short, Lansbury was pretty much the polar opposite of the person we highlighted in the schadenfreude item this week. We salute her on a life well lived. (Z)

Today's Senate Polls

There was a mistake in part of Illinois where Kathy Salvi's name was left off some ballots. They might as well leave her name off all the ballots and save time. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Illinois Tammy Duckworth* 50% Kathy Salvi 36% Oct 10 Oct 11 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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