July 2022

Big Picture

30 July:

The death toll in the Kentucky floods rose to 28, with more storms on the way.


29 July:

At least 15 people are dead in Kentucky following severe flash-flooding, with more bad weather overnight. The state’s Governor, Andy Beshear, said he expects this to be “one of the most significant deadly floods” in Kentucky history.

The controversial Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament is teeing off today at former President Trump’s Bedminster NJ club, leading to protests from 9/11 families’ advocates and disgust on the part of most normal people who aren’t driven entirely by money. Bedminster had originally been scheduled to host a PGA tournament this year, but that was withdrawn after Jan 6th.

The GOP easily won last night’s glorified Little League match-up that is the Congressional baseball game at Nationals Park amid climate protests and some ill-tempered exchanges. The “jokes” write themselves.


28 July:

“If this is America First, America is f*cked”.

An emotional Jon Stewart railed against Republican Senators – and in particular PA Sen Pat Toomey – who voted against what was originally bipartisan legislation which would expand veterans’ healthcare.  The bill, which had already passed the Senate in June, will return to the floor for another vote on Monday.

The extent of the ‘alternate electors’ plan in the context of the events of Jan 6th is coming into clearer focus; while more former senior members of the Trump White House have been talking with the Jan 6th Committee, which now has what it calls a “formal path” to share evidence with the Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, more important stuff seems to have gone missing.


27 July:

Sen Joe Manchin, long the obstacle to Democrats’ progress on a domestic economic agenda, appears to have enabled a deal loosely based on President Biden’s original Build Back Better plan for climate and human infrastructure investment. No word as yet on whether Manchin’s fellow frequent hold-out, Sen Krysten Sinema, will back the plan since she has said in the past she is opposed to one of it’s provisions, finally taxing “carried interest”.

Earlier, there was another win for the White House when the Senate passed a Bill to boost US semiconductor production to counter China, before Manchin’s reversal set off a GOP scramble to try to take their ball home.

Meanwhile, thanks largely to the work of the Jan 6th Congressional committee, the walls appear to be closing in – little by little – on Donald Trump with regard to his role in the events surrounding that day. Now it seems like the Department of Justice is running with the ball (remember, their investigations focus on conduct, rather than specific individuals), we should probably expect even greater displays of desperation, while the GOP tries to figure out next steps.

(The party has already told Trump it would stop covering his legal bills if he ran for President – although exactly why they’re paying them anyway is a good question…)

Finally, Norman Lear, the man responsible for Archie Bunker, turned 100 with his ability to reflect the American mood in popular culture seemingly as sharply insightful as ever.


26 July:

With the Jan 6th Committee having paused its public hearings until September, there are some interesting developments worth watching in Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Willis’s investigation into potential election interference.

As Willis said recently, “this is not a game.”

Meanwhile, this was a rather disturbing – if not totally unexpected – piece by Dave Weigel in the Post the other day, looking at Dan Cox’s win in last week’s Maryland primary and the rhetoric of GOP candidates across the country.

Weigel writes: “[Cox and GOP nominee for Attorney-General Michael Peroutka] described a country that was not merely in trouble, but being destroyed by leaders who despise most Americans— effectively part of a civil war. In both swing states and safe seats, many Republicans say that liberals hate them personally and may turn rioters or a police state on people who disobey them.”


22 July:

Well, that was – relatively – quick. Bannon found guilty on both counts of contempt. He faces a maximum of two years in jail.


21 July:

President Biden tested positive for Covid. So there goes the day’s news agenda, lost under a sea of “finally, something positive..” memes.

The eighth hearing of the Jan 6th committee concentrated on former President Donald Trump’s “dereliction of duty”.


20 July:

President Biden stopped short of declaring a climate emergency but the White House said such a move was still possible. Biden tweeted: “Since Congress is not acting on the climate emergency, I will. And in the coming weeks my Administration will begin to announce executive actions to combat this emergency.”

Meanwhile, could something approaching bipartisanship be stirring on Capitol Hill? Will be interesting to watch the progress of a bill protecting same-sex marriage, as well as a proposed reform of the Electoral Count Act, which could tighten the rules affecting the transition of power at the center of the Jan 6th insurrection.

Or, indeed, not…

In Maryland’s primary election yesterday, Trump-endorsed, stolen-election advocate Dan Cox won the GOP nomination for Governor. The race shouldn’t be close in November, whether he’s up against Tom Perez or Wes Moore, BUT it again raises the question of exactly how wise it is of Dems to contribute to extreme GOP candidates’ primary campaigns, with the expectation they would be easier to beat…?



19 July:

With dramatic scenes of extreme weather across Europe and the US sweltering under its own heatwave, pressure grew on the White House to declare a climate emergency. But any restrictions on fossil fuels right now don’t exactly sit easily with Biden’s immediate push to reduce gas prices and increase production.

Rachel Maddow at MSNBC obtained a DOJ memo from Merrick Garland laying out rules for investigations of political candidates and operatives, under the heading “Election Year Sensitivities” – although it’s being interpreted in different ways, it certainly puts the Rolling Stone exclusive earlier into some context:


18 July:

Jury selection began in the contempt trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

New numbers from Axios show GOP fundraising totals to be disappointing compared with their potential Democrat opponents. Josh Krushaar writes:

Why it matters: It’s as if big GOP donors either don’t realize a Senate majority is in reach or wrongly think it’s a sure thing. And it’s clear they don’t like a lot of the Trumpy candidates.

Context: Democratic Senate candidates are posting blockbuster hauls.

RIP the Bat Man…


17 July:

The January 6th Committee is looking for answers from the Secret Service after it emerged that text messages from agents’ phones sent at the time of the insurrection had been “lost.”

(A later article from Ben Jacobs at Vox lays out how the whole story unfolded.)


16 July:

Fresh off *not* fist-bumping Boris Johnson at the Nato summit, President Biden’s trip to the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, has turned out to be exactly the fraught, optic-obsessed, no-win situation it was expected to be. It’s all about oil, of course, and Ukraine, but the relationship between the two countries in light of the 2018 murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi will probably not change much after this week.

Everything in perspective, though…


15 July:

West Virginia Sen Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, owner of extensive coal interests and the man who has taken more fossil fuel industry lobbying money than any other politician, again derailed Democrats’ plans for legislative action on climate change by saying he would not support his party’s proposed ‘Build Back Better’economic package.

Manchin represents a coal state that Trump won by 39 points. It’s long past time to stop pretending the Democrats control the Senate.


14 July:

As the various investigations (Jan 6th Committee; DOJ; Fulton County Georgia) into former President Donald Trump appear to be reaching a denouement there are growing, predictable noises that he could be preparing to declare his candidacy for 2024. Understandably, the rest of the likely Republican field aren’t too happy about the prospect of him potentially disrupting the midterms, but a lot can change in five months.

But, like I say, it might never happen…


13 July:

The latest revelations from the Jan 6th Committee appear to be moving the country closer to understanding exactly how co-ordinated and pre-meditated events were leading up to the day the US Capitol was attacked. In doing so, they provide an increasingly clear roadmap for accountability, with the Committee apparently now prepared to let the Department of Justice move forward with its own action.

Meanwhile former Trump adviser Steve Bannon – whose contempt trial is set to open next week – appears to have just said it all out loud ahead of the insurrection, according to a piece in Mother Jones.


12 July:

The latest hearing of the Jan 6th Committee – the seventh so far – will today focus on potential connections  between the Trump White House and far-right extremist groups, specifically the latter’s role in preparations for the attack on the Capitol.

The session will begin at 1pm Eastern and will be led by Reps Jamie Raskin and Stephanie Murphy. Raskin previewed the hearing at the weekend, saying that what happened on Jan 6th “makes the Watergate break-in look like the work of Cub Scouts.”

“When you add all of this up together,” the Maryland Democrat said, “it is the greatest political offense against the union and by a president of the United States in our history, nothing comes close to it.”

The Committee also announced that the hearing set for this coming Thursday has been postponed to an as-yet unknown date.

Meanwhile, the distraction story around Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon seems to be prompted primarily by his impending contempt trial, which is set to proceed next week.

Among other acolytes of the former President, Sen Lindsay Graham was ordered to testify before a grand jury in Fulton County, GA, in the investigation into Trump’s alleged interference in the state’s election. Graham said he will fight the subpoeana.

With President Biden’s personal approval ratings continuing to languish – prompting the predictable jitters among Democrats – a new poll shows Biden still the head-to-head preference over his immediate predecessor.


10 July 2022:

Are the Democrats losing their way ahead of this year’s crucial midterms? Robert Reich seems to think so.

“Why hasn’t Biden done more to rally the working class and build a coalition to grab back power from the emerging oligarchy? Presumably for the same reasons Clinton and Obama didn’t: the Democratic party continues to prioritize the votes of “suburban swing voters” who supposedly determine electoral outcomes, and it still depends on money from big corporations and the wealthy.

“The most powerful force in American politics today is anti-establishment fury at a rigged system. There is no longer a left or right. There is no longer a moderate “center”. The real choice is either Republican authoritarian populism or Democratic progressive populism.

“Democrats cannot defeat authoritarian populism without an agenda of radical democratic reform – a pro-democracy, anti-establishment movement. Democrats must stand squarely on the side of working people against oligarchy. They must form a unified coalition of people of all races, genders, and classes to unrig the system.

“Trumpism is not the cause of our divided nation. It is the symptom of a rigged system that was already dividing us.”



4 July:

Picture by Brian Cassella of the Chicago Tribune

The events at Highland Park, Illinois are just heartbreaking. The fact that they happened during a celebration of supposed “freedom” is almost a grotesque parody. As a friend who lives there put it – having thankfully managed to get his daughters to safety – “living in this country is just exhausting.”

It is the 309th mass shooting in the US this year.



24 July:

No politics today, since it’s Hall of Fame induction day. I’ve always believed that the HoF ceremony should be part of the All-Star Game break. We should celebrate the game’s history and continuity as much as its present; then finish the day at Cooperstown with a game at Doubleday Field to officially start the second half of the season.


22 July:

The Toronto Blue Jays scored a franchise record number of runs tonight in Boston, with a 28-5 blowout of the Red Sox, who have now given up 55 runs in their last three games. The win – which included an inside-the-park grand slam – was two runs shy of the modern MLB record for runs in a game, set by the Texas Rangers in a 30-3 win against the Orioles on Aug. 22, 2007.


20 July:

After the American League racked up its ninth-straight All-Star Game win last night, baseball can get back to important things, like what happens next for Juan Soto.

Meanwhile, there’s a new debate – when was there ever not – around the economics of the game, from the cost of a game for a family of four…

combined with remarks by Commissioner Rob Manfred on Minor League salaries…


17 July:

Juan Soto turned down a monster $440 million, 15-year contract extension offer from the Washington Nationals – potentially the most lucrative deal in baseball history – and there’s now an expectation he will be traded.

Meanwhile, as the 2022 MLB draft began, the Baltimore Orioles selected 18-year-old Jackson Holliday, son of former big leaguer Matt Holliday, as the first pick overall.


16 July:

Last night, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw took a perfect game into the eighth inning against one of the worst teams in baseball that just happens to have the two best players in baseball.

It’s the first time in the last 60 years that the same pitcher has taken a perfect game through seven innings twice in a season.

Sandy Koufax threw the only perfect game in Dodger history on Sept. 9, 1965.


14 July:

The Baltimore Orioles swept the Chicago Cubs last night to continue a 10-game winning streak, making them the hottest team in baseball (at least this week…) It’s the Birds’ longest winning streak in a single season since they won 13 in a row in September 1999 and they’re now over .500 for the first time this season.

Finally, take a few moments to read this lovely piece in the Wall Street Journal


10 July: