Sunday, July 16, 2023

Last Call For Trump Cards, Con't

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon is running the show in Donald Trump's trial over federal documents kept illegally at Mar-a-Largo, and he made clear today that appointing her to the federal bench in the first place is a favor he expects to be paid back.
Former President Trump praised the judge overseeing his classified documents case as his legal team seeks a postponement of his trial in Florida.

Trump’s motion for a continuance of the trial, filed last Monday, awaits a decision by Judge Aileen Cannon, an appointee of the former president who presided over his initial challenge to the FBI search of his Florida home.

Asked on “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News whether he believes the judge will grant the motion, Trump said he did not know.

“I know it’s a very highly respected judge. A very smart judge, and a very strong judge,” Trump said.

When host Maria Bartiromo noted that Trump appointed the judge in the case, Trump said, “I did, and I’m very proud to have appointed her.”

“But she’s very smart and very strong, and loves our country,” Trump said. “We need judges that love our country so they do the right thing.”
Trump wants Judge Cannon to delay the trial until 2025 or so, after the election, where he expects to be back in the Oval Office and he can then order the Justice Department to drop the case. It's glaringly obvious what's going on here, but nobody's going to do anything about it.

Given her history with this case, everyone should expect Cannon to "do the right thing" for Trump, and soon.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

With 2nd quarter fundraising numbers upon us for 2023, Ron DeSantis is now entering the crash and burn phase
Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign has fired roughly a dozen staffers — and more are expected in the coming weeks as he shakes up his big-money political operations after less than two months on the campaign trail.

Those who were let go were described to NBC News by a source familiar as mid-level staffers across several departments whose departures were related to cutting costs. The exits come after the departures of David Abrams and Tucker Obenshain, veterans of DeSantis’ political orbit, which were first reported by Politico.

Sources involved with the DeSantis campaign say there is an internal assessment among some that they hired too many staffers too early, and despite bringing in $20 million during its first six weeks, it was becoming clear their costs needed to be brought down.

Some in DeSantis’ political orbit are laying the early blame at the feet of campaign manager Generra Peck, who also led DeSantis’ 2022 midterm reelection bid and is in the hot seat right now.

“She should be,” one DeSantis donor said.

“They never should have brought so many people on, the burn rate was way too high,” said one Republican source familiar with the campaign’s thought process. “People warned the campaign manager but she wanted to hear none of it.”

“DeSantis stock isn’t rising,” the donor added. “Twenty percent is not what people signed up for.”

The person noted that DeSantis has a penchant for switching out staff, which means that he has no core team that has worked together before. DeSantis had three different campaign teams for each of his three runs for Congress, and notably had a huge campaign shakeup during his first run for governor in 2018.

"Americans are rallying behind Ron DeSantis and his plan to reverse Joe Biden’s failures and restore sanity to our nation, and his momentum will only continue as voters see more of him in-person, especially in Iowa. Defeating Joe Biden and the $72 million behind him will require a nimble and candidate driven campaign, and we are building a movement to go the distance," DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo told NBC News.
Did I mention that DeSantis is losing his home state of Florida by 20 points to Trump? Because he is, and that's not going to get any better in the months ahead for him. Remember, everyone else in the race is running for Trump's veep slot and that includes DeSantis, even if nobody in his campaign will admit it.
DeSANTIS IN DISARRAY? — This morning, with FEC filings in hand, one thing is clear: Serious doubts now cloud the future of RON DeSANTIS’ presidential campaign.

When you’re running for office, there are a few words and phrases you never want to see up top in news articles about your campaign …

1. ‘SOLVENCY’: If that’s in the lede of an article, good news is almost certain not to follow. And yet, there it was in an NBC piece that blew up group chats all over D.C. shortly after being published last night:

“DeSantis tapped out top donors and burned through $7.9 million in his first six weeks as a presidential candidate, according to an NBC News analysis of his new campaign finance disclosure,” wrote Jonathan Allen, Bridget Bowman, Ben Kamisar and Alexandra Marquez. “The numbers suggest, for the first time, that solvency could be a threat to DeSantis’ campaign, which has touted its fundraising ability as a key measure of viability.”

Those numbers, in brief: DeSantis raised $20.1 million between mid-May and the end of June.About $3 million of that can only be used in the general election — making it irrelevant to his fight against DONALD TRUMP.Of that $20.1 million, more than two-thirds came from donors who are now maxed out and can’t give him any more money.About 40% of the money DeSantis raised has already been spent. A decent chunk of that went to payroll: Notably, DeSantis had 92 people on his campaign staff — “by far the biggest staff footprint of the GOP presidential candidates,” NBC notes. Which brings us to number two …

2. ‘SHEDDING STAFF’ and ‘CASH CRUNCH’: “DeSantis’ presidential campaign is shedding staff as it navigates a cash crunch and looks to refocus resources on Iowa,” Alex Isenstadt scooped last night.

“Fewer than 10 staffers were let go by the Florida governor’s campaign Thursday … Each of the aides was involved in event planning, and some of them may soon wind up at an allied outside group. Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis super PAC, has received resumes from staffers who’ve been let go.”

3. ‘SKEPTICISM’ and ‘PRIVATE CONCERNS’ and ‘INSULARITY’: “More than seven weeks in, skepticism about the Florida governor’s 2024 bid has grown,” report WaPo’s Hannah Knowles, Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer and Marianne LeVine. “Some people who have advised and supported DeSantis have raised private concerns about his message, and the effectiveness and insularity of his campaign operation, according to people familiar with the comments, among the more than 30 people interviewed for this story.

“The doubts extend to long-friendly Fox News … and its owner, the conservative media magnate RUPERT MURDOCH, according to another person who speaks regularly with Murdoch about the presidential race. ‘He was excited about him at the beginning, but the more he shows himself, the less appealing he is,’ said this person, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations and talk more freely. Murdoch will ‘come back to Trump if he thinks Trump can win,’ this person added. A representative for Murdoch declined to comment Saturday.”

How is the DeSantis camp shifting in response? “The campaign has started rolling out national policy — economic issues next, then foreign policy in August — and plans to do more mainstream media interviews around those proposals,” the Post reports.

Those lines caught the eye of Bill Scher, the savvy politics editor at Washington Monthly: “Lordy, the ELIZABETH WARREN white paper strategy is not going to help,” Scher tweeted. “Team DeSantis refuses to see the race for what it is. The race is not about who has the best tax plan. The race is: Trump, yes or no.”

One sign the DeSantis media pivot is underway: CNN just announced that on Tuesday the Florida governor will sit down with JAKE TAPPER for an interview in South Carolina.

WHAT IT ALL ADDS UP TO: The “DeSantis in decline” storyline is a body blow to one of the central arguments for his campaign: that he’d be a competent, disciplined version of Trump. Trump without the chaos. Trump, but with a more professional operation.

That’s an easier sell when things are going well: People on the team are generally satisfied, and there’s no need to point fingers.

But things are not going well for DeSantis. At the start of the year, the average national GOP primary poll had Trump at 43% and DeSantis close behind at 37%, according to FiveThirtyEight. Compare that to today: Trump averages just under 50%, while DeSantis has sunk to 21%. Since DeSantis announced his campaign on May 24, he has gained just 0.4 percentage points in the national polling average.

This is not just an issue of financial solvency. It’s an issue of strategy.

A negative narrative is taking hold about his campaign — that it is bloated, is overconfident, lacks a clear strategy, etc. Pair that with preexisting negative impressions about the candidate himself (that he is combative, not personable, awkward in retail settings, etc.) and a press corps that is — let’s be honest — somewhat tired of Trump and remains fascinated by the Florida governor, and there are real hurdles ahead for DeSantis.

The good news for him, if we can call it that, is that narratives can change, and the six months between now and the Iowa caucuses provide ample time to turn things around. But that’s also a whole lot of time for new articles to be published about him and his campaign — and they may contain phrases altogether more damning than “cash crunch” and “private concerns.”
If DeSantis has lost Team WIN THE MORNING, he's in dire straits. 
Having said that, Trump is not 100% inevitable as the 2024 GOP candidate. There are things that could stop him, and most of all that's Trump himself.

More indictments for Trump will be coming. Whether or not that will be enough to break his run and give DeSantis a window, we'll see.

Bottom line is these are still very much the bad guys. Anyone not named Trump will still try to implement 99% of Trump's racist, hateful, bigoted and unconstitutional policies. Don't be fooled. They're all just as bad.
Or worse.

Sunday Long Read: The Neighbors From Hell

Our Sunday Long Read this week comes from the Washington Post's Tim Carman, detailing a small-town northern Virginia restaurant ran by a gay couple that was doing perfectly fine until their new neighbors moved in, and started a war against the idea that a restaurant ran by a gay couple in small-town anywhere should be allowed.
As soon as she spotted the lifeless vermin, Tiffany Foster had a hunch about how it appeared near the trash bins behind the Front Porch Market and Grill in The Plains, Va. The general manager went inside, pulled out her phone and reviewed security-camera footage. Her suspicion was confirmed: The dead rat had been tossed onto the property.

The suspect? Mike Washer. The businessman and his wife, Melissa, first complained to the Front Porch proprietors about pre-dawn vendor deliveries in 2019, not long after the conservative Christian couple moved their financial firm right next door to the restaurant, which flies a gay Pride flag. The renovated building doubles as the Washers’ residence, where they have a front-row view of the Front Porch’s operation.

By the time the rat appeared last summer, the relationship between the two businesses had devolved. A year earlier, the Washers had started filing complaints about their neighbor’s trash with the health department. Fed up with what they viewed as harassment, the Front Porch owners filed a no-trespassing order against their neighbors. The Washers responded by installing signs to prevent diners from parking in spaces the Washers own in the shared lot. They confronted or towed drivers who ignored the signs. Their attorney threatened legal action against the restaurant’s suppliers if their trucks continued to “trespass” in the lot. The same attorney wrote a town official, challenging the restaurant’s right to operate under its existing permit.

Still, when she spotted the rat last August, Foster was not prepared for what she saw on the video: Mike Washer flipping the rodent onto the Front Porch’s property and taking photos of it, in what she assumed was a staged effort to flag health officials about an infestation. Foster remembers thinking, “I cannot believe that someone would stoop so low to try to put someone out of business.”

The Washers don’t deny Mike’s actions but dispute the motivation: They say they have no interest in closing the Front Porch. They claim the rat was first dumped near their back door by restaurant employees, and Mike was returning the favor.

What’s more, the Washers say, the dead rat was just one more insult that the couple, who once planted an “all lives matter” sign in their front yard, have endured since moving next door to a restaurant owned by a gay couple. They are not the harassers, the Washers argue. They are the harassed. They say they are being treated unfairly because they are conservative. They say they have been insulted by staff, including Foster, have lived with a bright security light shining into their home, and have found used chewing tobacco next to their car doors.

“We still feel like somebody put it there to, excuse me, eff with us,” Melissa Washer said about the rat. “Because they had done so many other little s---ty things to us.”

This conflict has dragged on for years, creating friction where friendships used to be and often forcing residents to pick sides. The conflict has dragged on so long that some people in The Plains, population 250 or so, have been left to develop theories about what’s driving it, some perhaps more rooted in reality than others: Some fear the Washers’ actions could break the town financially with hearings, lawsuits and paperwork. They even fear the couple’s legal challenge could end up compromising The Plains’ ability to maintain its old-world charm.

“Part of what makes our community special are long-standing social networks and special traditions built on trust,” the Rev. E. Weston Mathews, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

“But like so many places in our country, our community is not immune to dangerous conspiracy theories, extremism and tribalism,” Mathews continued. “In my view, what began as a difficult dispute between two neighboring businesses has become something much greater, is accelerating through social media and is damaging our sense of trust in each other as neighbors in a close-knit village.”

The Washers — the newcomers in a village where families that have lived there 20 years still feel like outsiders — say they’re misunderstood. They love this tiny town. They’re not out to destroy it, or remake it.
This is a story of the classic conservative "I'm the real victim here having to put up with those people!" fight that consumed an entire village. One side of the fight is an older Gen X gay couple making pancakes and the other side is an older Gen X straight couple who went to DC on January 6th, 2021. Not even the WaPo's bothsiderism can hide the level of pure hate radiating from the right-wing assholes here. The rat was just one part of it.

As a bigger picture in America of the 2020's, this one is going to stick with you.
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