August 2022

Big Picture

John Darkow for the Columbia Missourian – apparently the smallest US paper with its own editorial cartoonist


August 31:

Oh. Dear…

No legal expert, but maybe now might be a good time for the former President’s lawyers to stop talking?

Meanwhile, Trump’s increasingly unhinged behaviour on his increasingly troubled social media platform continues to give the GOP second thoughts about his influence in the run-up to November’s midterms. Unless and until he’s on the 2024 ballot, though, surely it’s too late for them to be thinking that way. Whether any charges are filed before polling day is another issue altogether, though…

Meanwhile, Democrat Mary Peltola defeated former Governor Sarah Palin in a run-off election for the open House seat in Alaska. She will serve out the remainder of Republican Rep. Don Young’s term, which ends in January. Young, who died in March, held the seat for 49 years.


August 30:

Traditionally, the November elections really only start to come into focus for the country after the Labor Day weekend, but tonight President Biden, bolstered by a rebound in his personal approval ratings, pushed ahead with defining the parameters for how the campaigns will be fought – the “battle for the soul of the nation” – while his predecessor, whose shadow hangs ever-heavier over the GOP, continues to make politics about himself; desperately seeking a way out from under the Mar-a-Lago documents mess while agitating the most extreme of his supporters to stir up more of the chaos on which he thrives.


Aaron Judge hit his 50th Home Run last night in Anaheim – becoming the 10th player (and third Yankee) in MLB history with multiple 50 HR seasons and only the 2nd player in AL history to hit 50 before September. The other was Roger Maris in 1961.



August 29:

Congratulations to the Hawaii kids who won the Little League World Series yesterday, beating Curacao 13-3. In six games, all of which they won, Hawaii outscored opponents 60-5. The closest margin was four runs. It’s Hawaii’s fourth LL title.

Meanwhile, in a Little League story from yesteryear…

Interesting potential developments in the structure of Minor League Baseball , with the MLB Players Association taking steps towards possible unionization.



August 28:

We appear to have reached the stage where Donald Trump’s allies are raising the threat of civil disruption or worse if the former President is charged. It comes as Trump’s legal team tries to find a defence for their client’s actions regarding the classified documents recovered from his residence.

The ratcheting up (still further) of the pro-Trump rhetoric also follows the White House taking on a more aggressive stand against what President Biden calls “MAGA Republicans” in an effort to distinguish Trump followers from whatever might be left of a “moderate” GOP. When veteran strategist Karl Rove objected to Biden’s use of “semi-fascist” to describe Trump supporters, you can’t help but think it’s because he knows the GOP has missed its window to do the same.

If the GOP fails to call out extremism it will end up being tarred with the same brush, with likely consequences at the polls in November. As the case against Trump deepens, they may have left it too late to separate themselves, even in terms of optics.

Cartoon by John Darkow for the Columbia Missourian – apparently the smallest US daily newspaper to have an editorial cartoonist.


August 27:


26 August:

As expected, the 38-page affidavit justifying the warrant for the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was heavily redacted, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t revealing.

As Brad Moss writes at The Daily Beast, this may, actually be the ball game.


24 August:

Ukraine marked its Independence Day, on the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. Celebrations in the capital Kyiv were muted due to the threat posed by Russian forces, while there is still uncertainty over the possible fate of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, at Zaporizhzhia.

Meanwhile, as the US argued over President Biden’s plan to offer (some) student debt relief – it’s either too much or not enough, predictably, as well as having a disputed political impact – more details emerge about the extent that Bill Barr’s DOJ went to in order to protect the former President from obstruction charges in the wake of the Mueller investigation.



23 August:

Some interesting outcomes in last night’s primaries in Florida, Oklahoma and New York.

In Florida, Charlie Crist defeated Nikki Fried for the right to go up against Republican Gov Ron De Santis in November, as well as the possibility of Gen Z’s first member of Congress; while a Democratic win in a special election in New York may give an indicator on the importance of abortion as a midterm issue.


22 August:

According to a new NBC poll, “threats to democracy” is the main issue of concern for voters. Except that Democrats and Republicans will likely consider democracy under threat for different reasons – either “illegal voting” or “voter suppression”. Nonetheless, the poll shows that the issue is more salient regardless of party affiliation, than say, Abortion, which Dems will be pushing, or Crime, which Republicans will.

In any case, it’s strange that the pollsters split the “economy” issue into two (cost of living and jobs) when taken together they would total 30%, far ahead of the “democracy” topic.

And, of course…

The final edition of CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ aired on Sunday night, with the network parting company with its main media reporter, Brian Stelter, as it pushes in what it believes is a more “centrist” direction.


Albert Pujols just keeps on going, seemingly growing younger by the day as he passed Stan Musial for second-place in all-time bases and closing in on 700 HRs.

And he’s a good guy…


19 August:

After another week of intensifying legal troubles for former President Donald Trump and his associates – prompting further uncertainty as to his next move – the political spotlight fell on one of his potential rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held back-to-back rallies in Pennsylvania and Ohio in support of right-wing candidates as he publicly tested his popularity with the Maga base outside his home state. Earlier in the week, he had appeared at a rally in Arizona with a supporting cast of Trump-endorsed election deniers.

Speculation over the GOP’s next standard bearer comes amid apparent concerns about the quality of the party’s candidates for November and the possibility that retaking both houses of Congress might not be the simple task many had assumed.

While the image of the former President looms large over the party, its immediate future is inextricably tied to his.


16 August:

President Biden today signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, which includes what his supporters describe as the biggest climate package in US history. The legislation gives Democrats a platform to campaign on come November, regardless of what might be happening in the opposing party.

As expected, Rep Liz Cheney was defeated in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Wyoming, former President Donald Trump’s biggest victory of the GOP primary season. In her concession speech, Cheney said: “Two years ago I won this primary with 73% of the vote. I could have done so again. The path was clear. But it would’ve required that I went along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election.”

Cheney was the last of the ten Republican House members who had voted to impeach Trump over the Jan 6th attack on the Capitol. Of the ten, only two survived the primary process. The other eight were either defeated or chose not to seek re-election.

Her father, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, said this morning after casting his vote that “this election, win or lose, is the beginning of the battle for the future of democracy.”

There were also primaries today in Alaska as the former President’s revenge tour finally rolled into some lesser-populated states, with Sen Lisa Murkowski projected to hold on against a Trump-backed opponent and former Governor Sarah Palin attempting an electoral comeback, which would would make for quite a through-line.

As for Trump himself, a full week after the search of his Florida residence, he has still not offered any explanation for why he took the documents, why he didn’t return them, or what he was actually doing with them for more than a year. By contrast, he continues only to offer convoluted excuses and loudly appeal for the release of the DOJ’s affidavit that led to the search warrant – clearly it’s killing him not knowing who dropped dime on him. He also appears to be having trouble hiring a good lawyer. Meanwhile the pressure on Trump’s allies ramps up still further in the Fulton County, GA investigation.

As some Trump supporters in Congress might be considering their position, is the penny starting to drop over at Fox? First it was morning host Steve Doocy calling out Trump supporters over anti-FBI rhetoric, now one of the channel’s high-profile personalities may be thinking about what comes next.

Dominion’s $1.6bn legal case, of course, helps focus the mind…

Tucker Carlson meanwhile, is warning of impending doom for the nation if the legal process plays itself out against the former President, but somehow at the same time accepting that such an outcome may be inevitable.

Eric Lutz writes in Vanity Fair: “There, in the latter half of Carlson’s comments, is the rub. Trump and his cronies aren’t committing to bringing down the temperature. Instead, they want it “brought down” by the “corrupt” and “radical” Democrats who have supposedly sicced the FBI on Trump and will soon, they say, start coming down on his supporters, too. “Pray they pull back before it’s too late,” Carlson said Monday night.”


Nice piece here to take our minds off the imminent implosion of our society. When you think about it, though, it’s only been around for 246 years – America is still breaking democracy in…



15 August:

It looks like Republican voters in Wyoming are set to oust Liz Cheney in Tuesday’s primary, in part because of her role on the House Jan 6th Committee and consistent stance against Donald Trump and the threat he poses to our democracy. GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy seems to want to read more into the expected outcome than perhaps it deserves.

Cheney is doubtless expecting what used to be the party of her father to turn against her, but at the same time is likely already looking ahead to a post-Trumpism political world.

Talking of Trump, the fallout from the FBI search of his Florida residence gets increasingly bizarre and conflicted by the day, while the walls seem to be closing in a little tighter on his allies Rudy Giuliani and Lindsey Graham. Things are also quickly coming to a head in the investigation into the Trump Organization.


14 August:

The ongoing schizophrenia among Republicans over exactly how much further they should edge out on that limb in support of the former President has had one supposedly positive outcome for the party – the firestorm in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago raid last week has largely overshadowed the actual legislative accomplishments of his successor.

As EJ Dionne writes in the Washington Post:

“Whatever else they were doing, the voters who put Biden into the presidency in 2020 were seeking something closer to a functional, normal democracy. This was the opposite of what we had when Trump rampaged around the White House, obsessed only with himself, his image and the attention-grabbing havoc he could wreak.

“That normality means Biden does not grab the headlines, particularly on cable news and social media, the way Trump still can. No one who runs for president lacks ego, but Biden is a fundamentally decent man who has spent his life thinking about what legislation he could pass, which problems he might start solving, and how he could tilt the economic playing field a bit more toward the kinds of people he grew up with in Scranton, Pa., and Delaware.”

And Dionne argues that “Only history and future elections can decide the matter, but Biden may go down as achieving something like Ronald Reagan did, but in reverse. His time in office is altering the nation’s assumptions about government and its role in our economic life.”

And yet…


12 August:

Widespread global condemnation followed the attack which left writer Salman Rushdie fighting for his life. Rushdie, whose 1988 novel The Satanic Verses led to a fatwa against him for what many Muslims consider to be blasphemy, was about to deliver a lecture – ironically about the safety of writers – at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York when a man rushed the stage, stabbing him several times.


The Cubs overcame the Reds in last night’s Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa. Nothing could overcome Hologram Harry, though…


11 August:

Wow. Just wow…

In a world where literally every damn day there’s something that too many people are too quick to call a game-changer, this might just actually be one.

Earlier, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a televised statement that the Department of Justice had moved to unseal the search warrant that presaged Monday’s FBI search of the former President’s residence at Mar-a-Lago.

The Attorney General also said that he had personally approved the warrant.

The short statement essentially amounts to the AG calling the former President’s bluff, since Trump, who was first to publicly confirm the search via a post on social media, and his GOP allies have been claiming – and fundraising off those claims – that the search was primarily political rather than criminal in nature.

There has been a recent uptick in violent rhetoric and threats against law enforcement agencies and this morning there was an incident involving an apparently armed man at the FBI office near Cincinnati. The Attorney General did not make reference to what had happened , but strongly condemned attacks on the integrity of FBI and Justice Department employees.

The man, who was identified as having been present at the Jan 6th riot, later died after a six-hour standoff with FBI agents.

Quite a day. More to come tomorrow…


10 August:

Former President Donald Trump, who once famously asked a rally crowd “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” today took the Fifth Amendment under questioning by NYAG Letitia James.

As, of course, is his right, and likely a sensible option in the circumstances.

Meanwhile, everything seems totally normal, not at all like the denouement to a Scorsese movie.


This week marks the tenth anniversary of the abduction of journalist Austin Tice in Syria.


Chandler Redmond of the Cards’ AA franchise hit for the Home Run Cycle – apparently only the second time the feat has been accomplished in professional baseball.


9 August:

Fallout from yesterday’s search of Mar-A-Lago continues amid (mostly) official silence, speculation and a continuing series of legal setbacks for the former President.

A court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee could – finally – get access to his tax records, while he could find himself sitting down tomorrow for a deposition in NYAG Letitia James’ investigation into his family’s business practices.

Meanwhile a Trump loyalist, PA Congressman Scott Perry, said the Feds had seized his cellphone and former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was ordered to testify in person before a Grand Jury investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results in Georgia.

But amid the continuing uncertainty, it’s not all bad news for the former President. For one thing, yesterday effectively distracted from a much-needed week of good news for the current incumbent. Whatever they might think of the legal and moral imperative, it’s hard to imagine the White House being ecstatic about the timing.

Philip Bump at the Washington Post writes that Trump had been laying the groundwork for a day like yesterday for most of his time in office.

“Trump spent a lot of time and a lot of energy casting the FBI as untrustworthy. It meant misrepresenting the bureau’s work and making false claims about their motivations. He worked even harder to enforce a structure of loyalty within his base.

On Monday night, all of that work paid off.”

As elected Republicans and media rallied round Trump (and he ramped up his fundraising efforts on the back of yesterday’s events) it’s hard to see past the narrative that the FBI raid has made it much more likely both that Trump will now declare his 2024 candidacy sooner rather than later, and that – absent any legal restraint – he would easily become the GOP nominee.

There were primary elections tonight in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington state and Connecticut, with victories for a number of pro-Trump candidates.


Maybe there’s hope for the future after all…


8 August:

On the anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation the nation is going through another historic day, with the FBI searching the home of a former President.

So, what were the Feds looking for? What did they get? No-one knows yet, but it doesn’t stop us from speculating. And, of course, half the country is watching what just happened through a completely different lens than the other half. What effect will that have on upcoming primary elections, November’s midterms – and beyond?

Garrett Graff tweeted: “Taken together, this is one of the most significant, sensitive, and politically explosive actions the US Justice Department and FBI has ever taken – one of a tiny handful of times it’s ever investigated a president. Bottom line: The FBI & DOJ must’ve known they had the goods.”

(Brian Stelter wraps the first hours of coverage here…)

This is a classically great story because none of us have any idea what’s going to happen next but stay tuned, because in the interests of keeping the country – relatively – calm, there’s going to have to be some kind of public statement soon.

But maybe it’s already too late for that..


3 August:

The big winner in last night’s elections wasn’t an individual candidate, but an issue, as the people of Kansas overcame obfuscating language in their ballot initiative question to vote to reject more restrictive laws on abortion.

In the first electoral test since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, anti-choice Republican legislators and their supporters, including the Catholic church, discovered that their policy agenda is less popular than they imagine – with all the implications of that for November’s elections.


Baseball lost one of its greatest voices with the passing of Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.


2 August:

With 99 days to go to November’s midterms there are primaries today in five key states, as well as a vote on abortion access in the state of Kansas – the first Post-Roe test of voter sentiment. Meanwhile…

Today will be yet another test of the sway of former President Donald Trump in an increasingly schizophrenic GOP – with Trump even endorsing both candidates in Missouri – leading one political observer to remark: “I think what’s going to be clarified here over the next few weeks, is have the lunatics really taken over the asylum?”

Read post on previous primaries: Not Your Father’s GOP


It’s baseball’s Trade Deadline day, with growing speculation as to the future of superstar outfielder Juan Soto, who looks set to wind up in San Diego.


1 August:

President Biden announced that a CIA drone strike in the Afghan capital Kabul had killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Al Qaeda and the US’s “most wanted terrorist”.

The operation provides a 9/11 “bookend” to the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, and while the announcement projects resolve at a time of growing tensions with China, it’s still uncertain what impact foreign policy moves might have on November’s midterms or the President’s languishing personal approval.