January 2023

31 January:

There have been so, so many days in the saga of Donald Trump – both during his presidency and afterwards – where it seemed he was lashing out as various walls were closing in. It became a predictable trait. Now, with the New York grand jury process under way, alongside his other legal woes, Trump turns his ire, yet again, on the press. If he is serious about such a suit it may prove weak, but win or lose would reinforce an image he cultivates among his supporters – and likely aid his fundraising efforts.

Trump’s statement comes a couple of weeks after he and one of his lawyers were fined almost a million dollars for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton and others.

Meanwhile, in news of another fabulist…


30 January:

A New York grand jury began hearing evidence around Donald Trump’s involvement possible campaign finance violations in the 2016 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

Promoting his upcoming memoir, former PM Boris Johnson – a notorious embellisher of what we might call “truth” – claimed Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike. Make of that what you will, I suppose, but it got Nadim Zahawi off the front pages for a day.


29 January:

Military locations in Iran were attacked in a drone strike reportedly carried out by Israel as fears grew that the ongoing proxy war between the two nations is heating up.

Fresh from being reinstated to Facebook, restoring an important fundraising platform, former president Donald Trump kicked off his 2024 “campaign” with events in New Hampshire and South Carolina.


28 January:

Citing a “cloud of dishonor,” the Memphis police chief announced that the unit whose members carried out the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols would be disbanded. Protests continued across the US following release of police bodycam footage of the brutal assault on the 29-year-old.

Violence flared again in the Middle East as – on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – a mass shooting at a synagogue left at least seven people dead. Israeli police said the gunman in Saturday’s attack was a 13-year-old boy and that he had been “neutralized”. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – whose plans for judicial reforms had been the target of public protests earlier in the week – outlined a series of measures against Palestinians.


27 January:

There have been widespread appeals for calm after five Memphis police officers were charged with the murder of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. A video of the incident, which followed a traffic stop on Jan 7th, is set to be released today.

We’ll get an idea of the direction of the Republican party heading into the 2024 cycle with today’s election for RNC Chair. Incumbent Ronna (Romney) McDaniel is not guaranteed to be re-elected, but having two opponents rather than one may mean the vote against her is split.

Update: McDaniel was re-elected for a fourth term.


26 January:

As you might expect, there are mixed reactions to the US decision to send tanks to Ukraine – “too little, too late”, “why not more?” “what’s changed and what next?” and of course what does this mean for the overall conduct of what looks to be the “long game” of the war?. There are also continued performative rumblings over future commitment of the GOP to support for Ukraine – and probably with good reason.

The Republican takeover of the House continues with the apparently petty exclusion of Democratic Reps Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from committee assignments. The “rebalancing” of the committees sends a signal both about Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s short- and medium-term agenda – whatever that might actually be – and the difficulty in store for reaching agreement over the debt ceiling.


25 January:

Saying – perhaps bizarrely – that the risk to public safety “has sufficiently receded” the parent company of Facebook and Instagram said it would restore former president Donald Trump’s access to the platforms. Trump, who was shunned by social media after his behaviour on Jan 6th may yet be charged for his role in the attempted insurrection.

Trump himself is probably “smart” enough to know Meta’s strange rationale is primarily for their benefit. Nevertheless, the “debate” over whether or not he can resist the ego-stroking – and needs the platform to raise money for his presidential bid – will keep him in the public eye for a while.

Meanwhile, the DOJ announced it was bringing an antitrust case against Google, a move which could result in the company being broken up.


24 January:

In a crucial reversal, the US and Germany are now set to send tanks to Ukraine, opening the way for other countries to do the same.

A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, is deciding whether to make public a report of the Grand Jury investigation into alleged election tampering around the 2020 presidential election.

Oh, hey…


23 January:

A retired former senior FBI counterintelligence official who had worked on investigating Donald Trump’s links to Russia was himself arrested over ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The FBI story emerged as four members of the paramilitary Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the attempted insurrection on Jan 6th.

As California reels from the weekend’s mass shooting in Monterey Park, news broke of another incident at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco that left seven people dead. The alleged shooter was taken into custody.


22 January:

Late update:

Earlier: Ten people are dead and several injured after a shooting incident Saturday night in Monterey Park, California. It appears to be the deadliest shooting in the US since Uvalde. The gunman is still at large.

Read related post: Lawyers Guns and Money

A protest turned violent in Atlanta over plans for a proposed police training facility known as “Cop City”.

The optics of the Biden documents episode continue to worsen for the White House; who also now need to replace their chief of staff.

A couple of notable Bay Area passings this weekend: Sportswriter Gwen Knapp,

and the Oakland A’s Sal Bando.


20 January:

Military chiefs from Nato and allied nations gathered in Germany to discuss aid to Ukraine. It doesn’t look good in terms of persuading Germany to allow their Leopard tanks to be sent to the war zone as the Ukrainian government has requested.

Today marks the halfway point in Joe Biden’s presidency.

Meanwhile, a shake-up in the Democrats’ Senate roster…?

And, with “pro-life” protests back on the streets today, there’s probably no big surprise that the “leaker” of the SCOTUS position striking down Roe goes un-identified.

The day after Donald Trump and one of his personal lawyers were fined almost a million dollars for bringing a frivolous law suit against Hillary Clinton, the former president dropped another suit against NYAG Letitia James.


19 January:

As predicted, the US hit its debt limit with a potential – but still unlikely – default and a partial government shutdown set for June 5. The GOP House caucus appears determined to stall on a resolution unless President Biden agrees to cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Every day brings more increasingly bizarre – if such a thing is possible – George Santos revelations, yet still the GOP leadership in the House props him up, apparently aiming to run out the clock until he is likely charged with something.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigns, saying she has “no more in the tank” to run for another term.



January 18:

With Ukraine still reeling from the recent deadly Russian missile attack on Dnipro and continuing bombardments in other cities, a helicopter crash near Kyiv killed the Ukrainian Interior Minister and several other top government officials.

Ongoing US military funding for Ukraine remains possibly on shaky ground in the new Congress – although is apparently locked in for the rest of this year – at the same time as European countries appear to be stepping up their support.

And Republicans continue to sabre-rattle over the debt ceiling, with both sides seemingly digging in. Meanwhile in Davos, our domestic problems are put in a global context.


January 17:

So it looks like we’re headed back to what Robert Reich calls “another horrible, hellish, horrendous, totally absurd battle” over the debt ceiling after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that the federal government will hit the limit on total federal debt on Thursday. While the Congressional back-and-forth is usually mostly performative, with the new GOP-controlled House settling in, this year could be much more dangerous than similar situations in the past.

Oh, and…

Also coming up this week is a re-scheduled deposition of Fox boss Rupert Murdoch in the Dominion Voting Machines case.

A defeated Republican candidate in New Mexico was arrested last night in connection with shooting incidents at the homes of local Democratic officials.

In baseball, a couple of team owners made the classic mistake of actually talking to the media and are then somehow surprised that they get asked questions.

Meanwhile, this is just a superb piece of writing by Rustin Dodd in The Athletic, with some familiar names and a reminder of just how fragile our live are…

But, probably most importantly…


January 16:


January 15:

Hmmm… “Sloppy Joe…”


January 13:

Despite the White House’s protestations, the optics of Joe Biden’s documents row appear to be spiralling. But even though it may not look that way right now, it could still work to his advantage.

And talking of the former president…

Meanwhile, around the nation, there’s mixed news…


January 12:

Attorney-General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate the circumstances by which government documents were found at properties connected to President Biden. The move lets the DOJ say the law is being applied equally in investigating both Biden and his predecessor, even if the two cases seem – so far – to be very different.


January 11:

Not a good start to the day, especially coming on the heels of the Southwest meltdown over Christmas. The nationwide system outage was apparently resolved after a ground stop lasting a couple of hours, but the schedule disruption is expected to drag on into tomorrow.


Meanwhile, as GOP Rep George Santos’s local party officials called for him to resign, Republican leadership in Congress is still ducking and diving. The dude himself, meanwhile, abides.

California’s coastline endured another day of torrential rains.


January 10:

The first full day of the McCarthy Speakership is unfolding pretty much as might have been expected.

Meanwhile, at the ‘Three Amigos’ summit in Mexico, President Biden dodged some awkward questions regarding the timing of the discovery of classified documents at the office of a think-tank.



January 9:

The House of Representatives under the pseudo-Speakership of Kevin McCarthy heads for its first legislative test today when it is due to vote on a Rules package which will set the parameters for the 118th Congress.



January 8:

As if to prove that lessons learned at home eventually spread abroad, supporters of defeated former President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s institutional centers in the capital, Brasilia. The Congress is not in session and the current President, Lula da Silva is in Sao Paolo inspecting flood damage.

Meanwhile, at home…


January 7:

On the anniversary of the attempted insurrection which has largely set the parameters for American political life for the past two years, Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House on the 15th ballot, largely by rewarding people who to varying degrees encouraged the attack on the Capitol.

In Virginia, a six-year-old brought a gun to school and shot his teacher.


January 6:


January 5:

Dysfunction among the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives is set to spill over into tomorrow’s two-year anniversary of the attempted insurrection at the Capitol.

Despite desperate attempts to cut a deal with extremists within his own party, Kevin McCarthy lost five further rounds of voting for the speakership on Thursday, bringing the total now to 11, the most since the Civil War. The record was set in 1856, when it took 133 rounds.



January 4:

The public legislative shambles rolls on as a group of GOP insurrectionists force three more inconclusive votes for Speaker of the House. There must come a point at which the schadenfreude at Kevin McCarthy’s fully-deserved humiliation is overtaken by the need to actually run the country and not hand it over to a small bunch of nihilist thugs. Not sure we’re near that yet, though…

Meanwhile, President Biden and GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell were in Covington KY with local leaders from both parties to mark implementation of the $1trillion infrastructure bill.


January 3:

Latest: In an historic – and chaotic – day in Congress, the House adjourned until tomorrow after failing to elect a Speaker in three ballots where Republican opponents of Kevin McCarthy prevented him from achieving the required majority.

In the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell became the longest-serving Congressional leader while Democrat Sen Patty Murray became the upper chamber’s first woman President Pro Tempore.

Earlier: Today’s the day the passengers in the GOP clown car have to decide who’s driving. Kevin McCarthy’s relentless pursuit of the House gavel could end in tears and he may have jumped the gun in moving into the Speaker’s office yesterday…

Of course, the Speakership isn’t the GOP’s only problem…


January 2:

Ukraine is understood to have killed “potentially hundreds” of Russian conscript soldiers in a HIMARS precision-guided attack on a base at Makiivka on New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, as Benjamin Netanyahu returned to government in Israel, the country’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, hinted at a more pro-Russian policy shift within the new administration.


January 1:

Russia’s bombardment of the Ukraine capital Kyiv continued over New Year.

Elsewhere, in what passes for “news”…



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