October 22, 2022

Can Trump resist starring in the drama of testifying?


Can Trump resist starring in the drama of testifying?
By Hal Brown
Previous editions in archives >>>:

From The NY Times: In the most basic sense, any legal arguments seeking to get Mr. Trump off the hook would merely need to be weighty enough to produce two and a half months of litigation. If Republicans pick up enough seats in the midterm elections to take over the House in January, as polls suggest is likely, they are virtually certain to shut down the Jan. 6 committee, a move that would invalidate the subpoena. NY Times


A few words (my bold) in The New York Times subtitle ("If the ex-president turns down the drama of testifying, his legal team could mount several constitutional and procedural arguments in court") of all that I've seen, comes the closest to addressing my speculation though there's nothing about it in the article itself. 

The photo they used does suggest how much Trump likes to have the spotlight on him.

I am stuck on this subject because it seems that anybody with a public forum is saying Trump will wait out the clock hoping that the GOP takes control of the House in January and dissolves the J6 Committee.

This presupposes he doesn't want to have the ginormous megaphone which such testifying would give him as long as the Committee acceded to his demand that his appearance be televised live. I am hearing that he could end up testifying for two or three days.

Accepting the subpoena and testifying live would make must-see television for both his cult who want to see him make fools of his interrogators and those who want to see the J6 Committee members and their lawyers eviscerate him. 

He does have another option, albeit a lesser one, aside from insisting his testimony be live.

What Steve Bannon did after his trial, which wasn't televised, gives him another way to gain public attention. 

Steve Bannon is a boisterous buffoon and I doubt many hardcore Trumpers take him all that seriously. Some may even wonder why Trump allows himself to have his photo taken with him, even when it looks like he's holding his breath so as not to inhale the noxious fumes I can imagine emanating from the man who looks like he hasn't bathed in a week.
You may notice that if you do an image search for the two of them most show them a fair distance apart from each other.
Click above to enlarge

Donald Trump, to his cult, is their epideictic emperor, not that many even know the meaning of the word epideictic. 

Trump could decide that he could testify behind closed doors because he knows that he'd have the opportunity to say anything he wanted and have his remarks (or rant) televised on every station afterwards.

Bannon took only a few minutes but Trump could go on like he does at his rallies for as long as he wanted to. He knows that networks, even Fox News, have stopped broadcasting his rallies.  I am sure Trump misses this. Each network just broadcasts what they think are newsworthy snippets. 

Trump may not be willing to admit it to himself, at least not fully, but at some level I think he knows he needs to revamp his act because his performance has gotten stale to all but his most loyal cult members.

If he made a speech after testifying in private I think it would be covered, if not in its entirety, for a long time on most networks. I can see MSNBC and other stations cutting away if and when he starts repeating himself and lapses into an unhinged string of lies and grievances.

Regardless, he would be able to star in his own show without being interrupted by pesky interrogators and, like Bannon did, he'd refuse to take questions from reporters

More recent blog editions:

October 21, 2022

Will Trump comply with J6 subpoena? Don't be surprised if he does.

By Hal Brown

Archives of previous editions >>

It's hard to believe you haven't heard this news:

What we saw:
If he read HUFFPOST this is what Trump would see:

There still seems to be a presumption among those making predictions that he will defy the subpoena. I base my own prediction on an assessment of the personality of the man.

I still maintain that there's a reasonable chance Trump will end up testifying before the January 6th Committee despite the following reporting:

"Trump also appears to have become more aware about the pitfalls of testifying in investigations, with lawyers warning him about mounting legal issues in criminal inquiries brought by the justice department and a civil lawsuit brought by the New York state attorney’s office."
Trump is a man who has always been guided by his own grandiose beliefs in his being the smartest person in the room. The "room" as he defines it is the country, hell, the world if not the cosmos.

It is one thing to say that Trump is aware of "the pitfalls of testifying" and quite another to say that's he's convinced that the so-called pitfalls described by lawyers who he probably believes aren't nearly as intelligent as he is ought to be heeded.
He knows that if he wants to have the eyes of the nation riveted on him, whether in prime time or during the day, he will push his demand for live coverage of his testimony however it is given. He may agree to testify in a deposition as long as it is televised live. The key is that he wants to feel that he is in control and have a huge TV audience will be the major influence on his decision. He wants a Superbowl size audience that he can brag about.

He also thinks by insisting on going live, no matter the actual venue, he will be pitching a curveball to the committee believing that they are bluffing and don't really expect him to testify.

He will be daring them to demand that however he appears be done behind closed doors. He knows that even those who aren't members of his cult will want transparency and that he can accuse them of trying to pull a fast one by keeping his testimony secret.

The massive narcissistic part, or put another way, the egomaniacal aspect of his malignant and sociopathic narcissism thinks he will be able to outwit members of the J6 Committee and their lawyers.

He thinks he can showboat his way through a hearing and he desperately wants a nationally televised megaphone.

Most recent editions:

Blowhard Bannon's belligerent bluster begs bighouse stay

 By Hal Brown

Bannon get the Blues

Just announced: Bannon will get four months in prison and minor $6500 fine but can stay out of prison while he appeals and this could take a year.

It is being reported that his appeal will rely on his claiming he relied on an a "advice of counsel" defense. 

First his lawyer spoke and said they had a "bulletproof" appeal.

Then Bannon took to the microphone and made a diatribe. He lambasted the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi. He said the Biden regime will end after the election and Merrick Garland will be the first attorney general to be brought up on charges and impeached.

My impression of Bannon's affect and demeanor belied what his words were saying. He seemed far more subdued than usual. He claimed he'd win an appeal but he isn't delusional. He knows that the chances of winning the appeal are slim despite what his lawyer said and down the road there is a very good chance he will spend time in jail. 

Where would be held if he was indicted? 

"Since contempt of Congress is a federal misdemeanor being prosecuted in DC, White suggested that Bannon would be held in the DC Jail for lockup. The jail holds inmates who either have been sentenced for a misdemeanor, or are awaiting trial. However, depending on space and other factors, the Bureau of Prisons could decide to send him to another minimum security lockup outside of the District." Reference.
It's obvious that the accommodations are a far cry from what he's used to. Four months isn't four years. It isn't even a year. He might even get time off for good behavior. Still, any time spent living in a cell and having to comply with orders from prison guards will be a new experience for Bannon.
This is where Bannon lived in Washington:
It isn't a mansion but obviously non-too-shabby compared to the DC slammer.

Remember this Steve Bannon form November 16, 2021?
This is an explanation of why this conviction and sentence matters from CNN:

It was a victory for the House Jan. 6 select committee as it continues to seek the cooperation of reluctant witnesses in its historic investigation. It was also a victory for the Justice Department, which is under intense scrutiny for its approach to matters related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Bannon is one of two uncooperative Jan. 6 committee witnesses to be charged so far by the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro was indicted by a grand jury last month for not complying with a committee subpoena and has pleaded not guilty.

Backing up:

Lot's on news when I started watching TV this morning about how much jail time Steve Bannon will serve this morning. Below is Bannon expressing his usual defiance before entering court this morning:

I was looking forward to seeing his being led out the the courthouse in cuffs to the Department of Corrections paddy wagon. Unfortunately because this is a misdemeanor he won't be taken into custody immediately. Rather he'd be given a date when and where he has to surrender to the authorities.

Bannon lost this Hail Mary Mother of Me pass (below):

Then there's this from the Above The Law website:

The subtitle says it all: Good luck, buddy.

In preparation for Steve Bannon’s sentencing hearing Friday, he and the government both submitted sentencing recommendations today. Unsurprisingly, they have very different thoughts on what should happen to the rightwing podcaster after a jury found him guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for documents and testimony from the January 6 Select Committee.

Prosecutors suggest six months in the hoosegow plus a $200,000 fine, emphasizing that Bannon has “consistently acted in bad faith and with the purpose of frustrating the Committee’s work.”

Here's more from this article:

Perhaps cognizant that promising to go “medieval” on his opponents and describing Judge Carl J. Nichols as conducting “the Moscow show trial of the 1930s” does not necessarily bespeak chastened regret, Bannon’s brief exhorts the court to look beyond the law and dream big.

The ear of a sentencing judge listens for the note of contrition. Someone was convicted. Did they learn their lesson? This case requires something more. It involves larger themes that are important to every American. Should a person be jailed when the caselaw which sets forth the elements of the crime is outdated? Should a person be jailed for the doing the exact same thing that was done by the highest law enforcement officers in this country, yet they received no punishment?

Bannon seems to be both threatening the judge and daring him to do something about it. It doesn't seem to be an indication that he is thinking rationally. The judge ultimately will decide his sentence. 

I am hoping he gets the full six months that the prosecution is asking for. 

We should know soon. Currently this is what is on MSNBC with report that the outcome will be announced any.moment.

October 20, 2022

Trump supposedly had a bad day yesterday, but did he feel it?

By Hal Brown

 Note the archives are on the right >

According to Lisa Rubin writing on The Maddow Blog Trump's day went for bad to worst yesterday. 

Trump is a man who doesn't experience what you and I would call normal human reactions or emotions. About as normal, or fairly common, a reaction that he experiences may be fury when he doesn't get his way. That sometimes appears to be out of control and might be better referred to colloquially as blind rage if it isn't a performance to incite his crowds. With Trump you can never be sure about such things.

I doubt he moped around Mar-a-Lago last night lamenting how bad his day went. I doubt he stormed around throwing pottery against the wall. 

It wouldn't surprise me if he laughed about how he lied his ass off in his E. Jean Carroll deposition and figured that the news about the Eastman emails was pee-pee in the wind. He knows that few members of his Tucker Carlson watching cult would even be aware of this.

Trump's reaction to news like this and like this.
Click above to enlarge image

If you read articles like 
"George Conway warns of Trump 'meltdown to end all meltdowns'" you might think, or at least hope, that Trump is near the brink of descending into irreversible Mad Hatter madness.
Public domain image adapted by Hal Brown

You might very well be wrong. Trump isn't normal. There's a timeworn cliche in psychology that is used to explain the difference between neurosis and psychosis:

Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them.

One of the primary differences between what used to be called neurosis (and now has other names like anxiety disorder or depressive disorder) and psychosis is that those suffering from a neurosis can discern reality from unreality. To varying degrees those suffering from psychosis have impaired reality testing.

Of course Trump actually owns his version of a castle, but that isn't the point. 

Trump has rigid and primitive ways of dealing with things that happen to him that would devastate most people. In psychology the ways people cope with stress are called defense mechanisms and everyone uses them. 

Some, like humor, are considered by experts to be healthy. Somewhere in the middle is projection. This is unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else. Trump frequently uses this but it may be conscious or partially conscious.  

The most unhealthy defense is denial. This is where everything that doesn't fit into one's belief system is denied.

This is where I trying to decide whether or not to resort to what has become a cheap cliche.

It may very well be that Trump doesn't have a worry in the world, at least a worry he actually takes seriously.

Let's hope that at some point in the near future reality will bite him, and bite him (to use a word he likes) bigly.

You can use your imagination to visualize what part of his anatomy you want reality to sink its teeth into.

Previous four editions:

Comment below.

October 19, 2022

The vicious "art" of political photoshopping

By Hal Brown

One of my favorite illustrations is below. I showed Trump during his hour long outside time in prison playing golf with his little putter. Since I doubt he'd be in the general population I assume he'd be in a segregated cell but he'd still be allowed outside once a day for exercise

It took longer to find the perfect photo of a prison yard which actually had a fenced in area with some grass in it than it did for me to find a picture of Trump putting and add it. I could have tried to put him in prison orange pants but as you can see in the second picture that didn't come out very well.

When I was a kid too old to really read the articles in The New Yorker, which we subscribed to, I always looked forward to each issue to look at the cartoons. Charles Addams was my favorite. This probably says a lot about my personality. I aspired to be a cartoonist when I grow up, but alas I couldn't draw well enough. I remember drawing a cartoon of a severed head floating down a river singing "I ain't got no body." 

It was only when easily to learn inexpensive photo manipulation software became available that I was able to put hopefully better ideas into illustrations. Before I was banned from posting on Daily Kos I was the only one who regularly posted their own illustrations for stories they pit on the website.

Frequently when I end up writing on a political topic I think of an illustration to create to use before I give much thought to what I'm going to write.

I enjoy writing but there is an element of work in this since I have to not only try to come up with an original perspective on an issue in the news, but compose grammatical and coherent sentences and also try to be clever and snarky. Making the illustrations is pure enjoyment. It may take as many as 10 steps to put together an illustration but it never feels like work.

In addition to the simple things I can do on my laptop screen I use two inexpensive programs, InPixio and BeFunky. I don't use Photoshop itself. Years ago Kleenex became cleanex and referred to any facial tissue.Google used to mean any Internet search and now it's a verb, to google. Photoshop is still a product but "photoshop" is often used lower case to mean any image manipulation.

I used InPixio to add a football to a photoshop somebody else made:

Click to enlarge

In yesterday's blog story I also used someone else's image to make my own. I took this image...

and using both BeFunky and InPixio created this one:

Because that story was about Judge Cannon as well as Trump I made this image of her to go with this caption: 

Judge Cannon's reputation among what appears to be the vast majority of legal scholars seems to be in ruins. Does she care? My impression is that she couldn't care less even though she is in dire need of the legal version of a visit to the emergency room.

I often post my images on Twitter:

A caricaturist who calls himself DonkeyHotey (to be pronounced Don Quixote) allows anyone to use his pictures with credit. I often use them, for example the numerous caricatures of Trump which I used to make this one adding the playing cards:

I used BeFunky to change Trump's face and InPixio to add the vomit to this image:

Sometimes I just make an image to post as a comment to an article on RawStory since they allow pictures in the comments section. I used this in an article about Marjorie Taylor Greene. I used BeFunky to turn a color photo of her into the black and white version below, and InPixio to put her in front of an old time KKK rally.

Here's how I turned a Trump frown upside down and a Judge Cannon smile into a frown:

I found the secret stamps online and a stack of file folders and added them to the photo of Mr. Spock. It takes an extra step to copy just his fingers so they seem to be holding the documents.

I added the hot air to this and put the caricature of Musk into space next to his Tesla.

I used these in one blog story:

Even if I could draw I'd be hard pressed to be as creative as the most well-known political cartoonists. For example, Ann Telnaes is a political cartoonist for The Washington Post who creates some of the best in the genre. You can see some of them if you don't subscribe on Twitter. Here's a recent one, click below to animate it.


I have to take a break now. If I have time I'll find some of what I consider my better illustrations. 

October 18, 2022

Investigation: The mystery of how Trump got Judge Cannon, coincidence or not?

Trump managed to get a Trump loving judge to kiss his royal ass, but was it blind luck?

By Hal Brown

I changed the photo of Trump originally depicted in an image someone else made of him on a mocked-up Time cover (here and below) to make him look decidedly unpresidential. I put him in prison and added Lady Justice on the left and an X'ed out altered image I made of Judge Cannon on the right.

Another of my images: Judge Cannon's reputation among what appears to be the vast majority of legal scholars seems to be in ruins. Does she care? My impression is that she couldn't care less even though she is in dire need of the legal version of a visit to the emergency room.

You need a Daily Beast subscription to read this article on their website where you can see the illustration which shows a rendering of a well-worn paperback mystery titled "The Cannon Clue."

You can read the Daily Beast article without a subscription here on YaHoo.

 RAWSTORY provides a good summary:

The Daily Beast story describes how Trump lawyers may have shopped for a judge they presumed would be not merely friendly but lovingly to kiss the ample Trump royal ass. The crucial would here is "may" since so far there's no proof they did this. Was the fix in? Or did they decide to increase the odds that they'd have Judge Cannon assigned the documents case. We just don't know the answer. This has not stopped speculation.

If you couldn't buy an item you needed in a nearby store in this era of online shopping you might get it from Amazon. But they did have the equivalent of an online store to file their case. They claimed the online mechanism was offline but it turns out it wasn't. This was a lie. So they they hit the streets and traveled some distance from the court where the case normally would have filed to Judge Cannon's courthouse. However, there are nine judges there so there would be no guarantee she'd get the case.

This is the gist of what the article reports:

When Donald Trump’s legal team filed their court paperwork protesting the Mar-a-Lago raid, a lawyer took the rare step of actually filing the paperwork in person. At a courthouse 44 miles from Mar-a-Lago. And they got a judge to oversee the case that was outside both West Palm Beach—where the raid took place—and the district where they filed," the Daily Beast reporter wrote. "Those incredible coincidences have led lawyers and legal experts to suggest that something may not be above board with how Trump’s team filed their lawsuit."
It turns out that filing such legal briefs are almost never done at a courthouse in person anymore. In almost all jurisdictions they are done electronically. 

The RAWSTORY article concludes:

Lawyers in the area, who didn't want to give their names, also found the method of filing the lawsuit curious.

According to one, "I don’t know anybody who files in person. I didn’t even know you could do that anymore. It looks like this person was trying to select a particular judge,” while another suggested, "People don’t do this anymore. It’s extremely odd. I guess you could do this if you wanted to get a particular judge—or avoid getting a particular judge."

So far there's no irrefutable proof that the fix was in. It may be that the cards were stacked to favor Cannon's being assigned the case. It may be a coincidence. 

This is from The Daily Beast:

  • “I think somebody pulled a fast one in the clerk’s office to rotate it to a friendly judge. It doesn’t sound like it was done by the blind filing system,” mused another.
  • ...which consists of nine judges. Cannon is in a neighboring division, so she can occasionally get West Palm Beach cases.
  • Theoretically, that would give Trump a 1-in-9 chance of getting Cannon on the case.
  • However, The Daily Beast analyzed new case assignments in West Palm Beach in the week preceding Trump’s lawsuit and found that Cannon actually got a much higher share, nine of the 29 new complaints—roughly a third of all cases.
  • But the system still appears random.
  • On Monday, Aug. 22, in West Palm Beach, Cannon got the first case. Trump’s lawsuit was the second of the day in that division, and she got that too.
  • A head clerk of federal courts in another state told The Daily Beast that lawyers sometimes time filings as if they’re players at a casino. Sometimes it works.
  • “If you play cards and count the cards, I suppose they could say, ‘I’ll hold this here until I see if other judges got assignments.’ But it would be very risky because it’s random,” she said.

 It all may boil down to what you believe:

Perhaps it was just the luck of the draw:


I made my illustration after reading the RAWSTORY article and posted it as a comment there among similar illustrations, below, which other readers posted. I altered this Time Magazine image to make my own:

I changed the photo of Trump to make him look decidedly unpresidential. I put him in prison and added Lady Justice on the left and an X'ed out altered image of Judge Cannon on the right.

Other commenters posted these images:

Compassion doesn't count ballots: Biden does the moral thing on immigration and it will hurt him with many voters. All Trump needs now is his own Willie Horton. by Hal Brown, MSW

In the news today a top story  (read article)  is that President Biden has once again demonstrated that he has a heart and good sense when i...