September 7, 2023
Opinion: How Trump Became a Sympathetic Figure
Few recent stories have captured the imagination in the world of politics quite like the relentless pursuit of former president Donald Trump by his political adversaries. From the tumultuous 2016 election to his turbulent term in office, and even well beyond his departure from the White House, the saga continues unabated. But as the drama unfolds, a critical question looms: Have the Democrats overplayed their hand?
It all began with the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server during her tenure as Secretary of State, a probe that sought to divert attention from her. The subsequent allegations that candidate Trump was somehow an agent of Russia plunged the nation into a whirlwind of controversy, casting a shadow over his campaign and presidency for three long years. Yet, to this day, no one has been held accountable for what might have been the dirtiest political trick in history.
Disappointed by the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Democrats pivoted to Trump’s July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. This call, in which Trump requested an inquiry into possible corruption during then-vice president Joe Biden’s time overseeing Ukraine matters, led to Trump’s first impeachment. Later, the explosive Hunter Biden laptop story emerged in October 2020, sparking concerns of a family influence-peddling scheme—showing that Trump was right to be wary. Democrats, in cahoots with Big Tech and the media, sought to suppress the story. Fifty-one former intelligence community leaders penned a letter casting doubt on the laptop’s authenticity, a letter orchestrated by then-Biden campaign adviser and current Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Amid FBI reports warning of potential violence at the Capitol prior to January 6, 2021, Trump offered National Guard troops for protection. Astonishingly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser declined this offer. After the ensuing riot, House Democrats impeached Trump again, alleging he incited an insurrection, a claim they continue to stand by.
Despite Senate acquittals in both impeachment cases, Democrats had set a perilous precedent and emerged unscathed, emboldened by their actions.
Now, with an eye on the 2024 presidential election, Democrats have taken their tactics to new extremes, levying a staggering 91 criminal charges across four indictments against Trump. These charges, if proven, could lead to a potential sentence of 600 years behind bars. The timing of trial dates, coinciding with key GOP primary schedule events, adds a political dimension to the Democrats’ strategy.
The prevailing narrative suggests that the Democrats’ relentless pursuit of Trump was designed to galvanize sympathy among Republican primary voters, ensuring his nomination as they believe he would be a more beatable candidate for President Joe Biden. They also seem to presume that independent voters, disillusioned by Trump’s perceived “lawless” behavior, would rally behind Democrats and Biden for the general election.
However, the Democrats may have gone too far. In their zealous pursuit of Trump, they have strayed beyond mere election interference into the realm of election rigging. They may have inadvertently turned Trump into a sympathetic figure among independents.
It remains to be seen whether this phenomenon will manifest in the general election, assuming Trump wins the GOP nomination, with independent voters and perhaps even some disenchanted Democrats rallying behind the former president.
Have the Democrats unwittingly transformed Trump into a sympathetic character? They just might have.
Quote: “You have no choice, because they’re doing it to us.” –Donald Trump
The former president told conservative Glenn Beck that he will “lock up” his political opponents if he returns to the White House. Trump argued that he not only could, but must do so, because it’s a tactic that Democrats are using against him.
To review, the former president, who is also the current front-runner for the GOP nomination for president in 2024, has been indicted four times this year in connection with his personal business dealings, handling of classified documents, and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
Recovering From Idalia
Hurricane Idalia made landfall at about 7:45 a.m. last Wednesday in the Big Bend area of Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. Homes were ripped to shreds by storm surge and extreme winds in the hardest-hit areas of Florida’s Gulf Coast, and trucks were tossed around like toys by the destructive force of water driven inland by the hurricane.
The hurricane moved on to Georgia and the Carolinas as a weakened storm, still powerful enough to batter cities and towns across the states. But, when all was said and done, everyone was alive.
The destruction Hurricane Idalia inflicted is expected to cost billions of dollars in damages and lost output, but the price tag will likely be much lower than other major hurricanes.
Moody’s Analytics said that preliminary estimates put the cost of damages and economic disruption from Idalia between $12 billion and $20 billion. Ian, which ravaged the more populated areas of southern Florida last year, had a price tag of $112.9 billion.
Horror in Johannesburg
A devastating fire claimed the lives of 76 people and left scores of others injured in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. The tragedy unfolded in a five-story structure in the center of the city that had been repurposed as makeshift housing for homeless individuals and families.
The structure was what is referred to as a “hijacked” building. This term describes structures that have been abandoned by property owners and subsequently commandeered by various groups, including gangs, who then rent out the premises, primarily to migrants and South African citizens facing financial constraints and unable to secure traditional housing alternatives. These “hijacked” buildings have become a common sight in many areas of downtown Johannesburg, emblematic of the housing challenges faced by marginalized communities in the city.
Ukraine Finally Gains Ground
Ukraine’s military appears to be gaining the upper hand against Russian troops, three months after it began its long-awaited counteroffensive that quickly turned into a slog.
US officials said last week there had been notable progress in the fight to retake occupied land in the country’s south after months with no substantial advances against heavily fortified Russian defense lines.
The growing air of positivity was reinforced over the weekend by Ukrainian Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, who heads the country’s army in the south, saying that his forces had breached Russia’s first defensive line near Zaporizhzhia and were now pushing out on both sides of the breach.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky announced a major change in the country’s military leadership. Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, who has spearheaded Ukraine’s defense since Russia invaded last year and played an important role in securing foreign military aid, submitted his resignation Monday.
He said Sunday that the ministry needed “new approaches” and “other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large.”
Zelensky said Reznikov will be replaced by Rustem Umerov, but the decision must first be approved by Ukraine’s parliament.
The End of Truth?
Truth Social, Donald Trump’s attempt to create a right-wing clone of Twitter, might be days away from taking its last breaths.
Why? Well, back in October 2021, Trump Media & Technology Group—the platform’s parent company—announced its plans to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp. The deadline for the merger to close, which has been extended at least five times, is now scheduled for Friday.
If the vote fails, which is more likely than in regular merger cases, Digital World Acquisition Corp. will be required by law to liquidate and return $300 million to its shareholders, leaving Trump’s company high and dry. And if that happens, Truth Social will almost certainly cease to exist.
Musk Threatens To Sue ADL
Elon Musk on Monday blamed the Anti-Defamation League for lost advertising revenue since his acquisition of X/Twitter, writing that he may have “no choice” but to sue them.
Musk alleged that the ADL has been “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it and me of being anti-Semitic.”
The ADL posted a report in March accusing Musk’s platform of failing to take action against hate speech. The group’s ADL Center for Technology and Society found that only 28 percent of posts flagged for anti-Semitic content were taken down or sanctioned.
“If this continues, we will have no choice but to file a defamation suit against, ironically, the ‘Anti-Defamation’ League,” Musk wrote. “If they lose the defamation suit, we will insist that they drop the ‘anti’ part of their name.”
Advertisers have been pulling back from X as companies worry about the changes Musk is making to the social media platform since he purchased it for $44 billion.
McConnell Freezes Again
At the start of a press conference last Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly stopped speaking and stared straight ahead for about 30 seconds. Ironically, McConnell had just been asked for his thoughts about running for reelection.
The episode echoed a similar health scare in July, when McConnell suddenly froze and was briefly unable to speak at a news conference, raising legitimate concerns about the 81-year-old McConnell’s physical wellbeing.
Following an exam the next day, the attending physician for the US Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, said that McConnell is “medically clear” to fully resume his duties.
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” the doctor wrote.
Monahan was referencing a concussion that McConnell had suffered in March after a fall at a political fundraiser.
Marines Get Iron Dome
The US Marine Corps said it will procure three Iron Dome batteries, along with 44 launchers and 1,840 Tamir interceptor missiles, in a deal expected to total nearly $200 million. With over 2,000 claimed intercepts, the Iron Dome is among the most combat-proven air defenses in history.
According to the announcement, the Iron Dome batteries are intended to contend with cruise missiles, but, as demonstrated in Israel, the Iron Dome is capable of taking out UAVs and rockets, as well.
The US Army has already purchased several Iron Dome batteries, but they have been controversial, as some argue that they do not integrate well into the Army’s current defense system. The simple problem is that Iron Dome, designed as part of Israel’s layered air defense network, cannot currently be integrated into the US Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).
ISIS Border Fears
The FBI is scrambling to locate immigrants from Uzbekistan who were released into the United States after they illegally crossed the southern border with the help of a human smuggler who has ties to the ISIS terror group.
When federal investigators realized that the group’s smuggler was an ISIS sympathizer, concerns are growing that the sieve-like border has been exploited to push potentially dangerous people into the US.
Furthermore, several of the Uzbek nationals are now being investigated as possible criminal threats.
The incident was of such concern that government officials drafted an urgent, classified intelligence report and printed it in the morning briefing book of President Joe Biden’s top Cabinet officials, according to reports.
The FBI says no terrorism plot has been identified related to the incident, but the incident highlights what Republicans have warned for years could happen as millions of people come over the border illegally: terrorists hiding within the masses.
No Nuclear Progress
“No progress.” That’s the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency’s latest assessment of international efforts to monitor and verify Iran’s nuclear program.
“The IAEA Director Generals’ reports published on Iran demonstrate once again that Iran is not complying with the requirements of the International community… no further installment of new cameras on its nuclear facilities, no access provided to the cameras,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said.
“The most dangerous regime in the world is close to acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities and this grave threat should have been addressed by the Security Council a long time ago… We must act before it’s too late,” he added.
A developer has built an AI “disinformation machine” using ChatGPT. The project, named CounterCloud, costs less than $400 a month to operate, a worrying display of how cheap and simple it can be to create mass propaganda.
The developer said it didn’t take much work to coax the AI bot into “creating fake stories, fake historical events, and creating doubt in the accuracy of [a real] article.”
In just two months, the developer had a fully autonomous AI-powered system that generated “convincing content 90 percent of the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The threat AI poses through its ability to accelerate the creation and spread of online disinformation has been one of the biggest concerns in the overall artificial intelligence debate.
Inflation may be on the decline, but the battle is far from over. As of July, 61% of adults said they are living paycheck to paycheck, slightly more than last year’s 59%, according to a report from LendingClub.
As much as 78% of consumers are earning less than $50,000 a year, and 65% of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 were living paycheck to paycheck in July. Of those earning $100,000 or more, 44% reported living paycheck to paycheck.
A separate survey by CNBC found that 70% of Americans admit to being stressed about finances, and just 45% of adults said they have an emergency fund.
Nazi Charged for Holocaust Crimes
A 98-year-old former Nazi concentration guard has been indicted on charges of aiding and abetting the murder of more than 3,300 people during the Holocaust.
Officials said the man, whose name was not released due to German privacy laws, worked at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1943 and 1945. He is accused of “having assisted in the cruel and insidious killing of thousands of prisoners.”
The man will face a juvenile court because he was under the age of 18 when he served at Sachsenhausen.
Sachsenhausen was built by prisoners and opened in 1936. Of the roughly 200,000 mostly Jewish inmates who passed through the camp until 1945, around 100,000 are believed to have been murdered there.
Last year, another former Sachsenhausen guard, aged 101, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the camp.