The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

$350 million in fines

New York Justice Arthur Engoron just handed the XPOTUS a $350 million fine and barred him and his two failsons from running a business in New York for years:

The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron caps a chaotic, yearslong case in which New York’s attorney general put Mr. Trump’s fantastical claims of wealth on trial. With no jury, the power was in Justice Engoron’s hands alone, and he came down hard: The judge delivered a sweeping array of punishments that threatens the former president’s business empire as he simultaneously contends with four criminal prosecutions and seeks to regain the White House.

Mr. Trump will appeal the financial penalty — which could climb to $400 million or more once interest is added — but will have to either come up with the money or secure a bond within 30 days. The ruling will not render him bankrupt, because most of his wealth is tied up in real estate.

Of course he'll appeal, but New York doesn't give him many grounds to do so. And given the scale of the fraud he perpetrated on the State, even this eye-watering sum will probably survive scrutiny from the appellate court.

In other news this afternoon:

Finally, the Tribune has a long retrospective on WGN-TV weather reporter Tom Skilling, who will retire after the 10pm newscast on the 28th.

Ukrainian engineering

With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.

In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:

Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."

Any news? No, not one single new

Wouldn't that be nice? Alas, people keep making them:

Speaking of excoriation, David Mamet has a new memoir about his 40 years in the LA film industry, Everywhere an Oink Oink. (Expect to find that on next year's media roundup.) And I still have to read Linda Obst's Hello, He Lied, which I keep forgetting to liberate from my dad's bookshelf.

The tragedy and pathos of Rudy Giuliani

Back when I was growing up, Rudy Giuliani destroyed the Italian mob in New York City. Today he declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid paying a $148 million defamation verdict—the day after the people he defamed sued him again for repeating the same defamatory statements outside the courthouse after the judgment was handed down:

Lawyers for the two Georgia election workers who won $148 million in damages from former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani last week filed a new lawsuit Monday, asking a federal judge to order him to stop repeating his damaging debunked claims about the poll workers and to immediately enforce the jury’s massive award before his assets are dissipated.

Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Arshaye “Shaye” Moss asserted that Giuliani is continuing to baselessly accuse the former Fulton County election workers of manipulating the absentee ballot count to steal the 2020 election from former president Donald Trump in Georgia. The former New York mayor repeated the allegations during and after his defamation damages trial last week, even as his lawyer conceded in court the claims were wrong.

“Everything I said about them is true,” Giuliani told reporters outside the courthouse after the first day of his trial on Dec. 11, adding, “Of course I don’t regret it. … They were engaged in changing votes.”

I'm no doctor, but it looks like Giuliani has suffered from dementia for a long time, and it's getting worse. He appears to have no self-awareness or self-control at this stage. Other circumstantial evidence suggests late-stage alcoholism. Whatever the cause, the man stopped making sense long before he started working for the XPOTUS—even before he tried to cancel the 2001 New York mayoral election:

Once he was the toast of town. As a federal prosecutor he sent a congressman to jail, locked up mobsters and indicted white-collar criminals. As mayor, he made the streets again feel safe. Love him or hate him, crime precipitously dropped on his watch.

In the days and months following 9/11, he projected strength, confidence and reassurance. He had braced himself for a calamity; he just didn’t know its source or when it would happen. He was steady when crunchtime arrived.

As mayor, his tenure was consequential. His eight years at city hall rank up there with Fiorello La Guardia, Michael Bloomberg and Ed Koch. All that feels like aeons ago.

Yet Giuliani’s latest woes cannot be described as wholly surprising. He always possessed a penchant for drama and a tropism for the transgressive. He loved the opera and his life emerged as operatic. As a prosecutor, he dressed up “undercover”. Then as mayor, he performed onstage in drag with Trump.

All that came with a darker side. The warning signs were there. We just chose to ignore them.

Amid his first campaign for mayor, in 1989, a story broke of a concentration camp survivor, Simon Berger, being held in federal custody, facing a blackboard that read “Arbeit Macht Frei” the slogan written across the gates of Auschwitz. Berger would be acquitted. Decades later, Dunphy alleged that Giuliani has a problem with Jews.

I lived in New York City while Giuliani was mayor, though. As Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union reminded me while researching this post, even at his most popular, he was a bit unhinged:

Whatever may be going on with Rudy Giuliani personally, let’s be clear: while, for one brief moment in his career he served as a cheerleader for a devastated city and a shocked nation, the rest of Rudy Giuliani’s mayoralty was driven by a hostility to free expression, police brutality and violence, and an authoritarian disregard for democracy.

Let’s start with the First Amendment. The New York Civil Liberties Union was involved in 34 First Amendment lawsuits against the Giuliani administration – and prevailed in 26 of them. Those cases successfully challenged the firing of Police Officer Yvette Walton in retaliation for testifying before the City Council about racial profiling; the attempt to censor the Sensations exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum; the ban on press conferences and demonstrations by Giuliani critics on the steps of City Hall; the ban on condom distribution as part of AIDS education in City Parks; police harassment of homeless people sleeping on the steps of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church; and singling out political demonstrators charged with minor offenses so that they could not get appearance tickets to return to court and often had to stay in jail overnight.

In the seven-and-a-half years before 9/11, let there be no mistake: racial bias, fear-mongering, and police brutality were the hallmarks of Giuliani’s mayoralty.

As mayor, Giuliani oversaw a policing regime repeatedly engaged in persecution and brutal assaults and killings of Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, using unlawful stop-and-frisk policies to jail Black and Hispanic New Yorkers in service of his ‘broken windows’ policing. Every time the NYPD killed a Black man, Rudy Giuliani was right there not only defending the police, but attacking the victim.

I will never forget his tirade against Patrick Dorismond, a 26-year-old Black security guard and father of two, after undercover police officers killed Dorismond after initiating a scuffle while on the job in Manhattan. Giuliani attacked Dorismond’s character and publicly revealed his legally-sealed juvenile record. It was Giuliani‘s notorious street crimes unit that killed Amadou Diallo in the lobby of his apartment building.

Rudy Giuliani has always had an authoritarian streak coupled with a belief that the rules didn't apply to him. Fortunately, he behaved so badly for so long that no one ever gave him more power after his mayoralty ended in 2001. And I mention all this because, as bad as Giuliani has always been, and as far as he's descended into dementia and insanity...the XPOTUS is worse.

Polls open in 319 days.

Long day

I have tickets to a late concert downtown, which means a few things, principally that I'm still at the office. But I'm killing it on this sprint, so it works out.

Of course this means a link dump:

I promise to write something substantial tomorrow or Saturday. Promise.

Tuesday Night Links Club

Just a few:

  • US Representative George Santos (R-NY) faces another 21 felony charges in New York, with prosecutors alleging he stole donors' identities and misappropriated their donations.
  • Isabel Fattal attempts to explain Hamas, the terrorist organization that attacked Israel on Saturday.
  • Alex Shephard is glad the news media have gotten better at reporting on the XPOTUS, but they've still missed the biggest part: he's a "singular threat to American democracy."
  • Jason Pargin pays homage to celebrity worship, and goggles at how weird it's gotten.
  • Molly White explains the evidence presented at Sam Bankman-Fried's trial yesterday that (allegedly) shows how they perpetrated the fraud in code.
  • McSweeney's has a helpful template for right-wingers who are upset with Taylor Swift.

Finally, National Geographic gets cozy with the history of bedbugs and their relationship to humans. Fun evening read, y'all!

He's as big a fraud as everyone suspected

New York Supreme Court (i.e., trial court) judge Arthur Engoron ruled yesterday that the XPOTUS's eponymous family business committed fraud on such a scale that the company is no longer allowed to do business in New York State:

The surprising decision...is a major victory for Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Mr. Trump, effectively deciding that no trial was needed to determine that he had fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals.

Ms. James has argued that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion and is seeking a penalty of about $250 million in a trial scheduled to begin as early as Monday.

Justice Engoron wrote that the annual financial statements that Mr. Trump submitted to banks and insurance companies “clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business.”

While the trial will determine the size of the penalty, Justice Engoron’s ruling granted one of the biggest punishments Ms. James sought: the cancellation of business certificates that allow some of Mr. Trump’s New York properties to operate, a move that could have major repercussions for the Trump family business.

In his order, Justice Engoron wrote scathingly about Mr. Trump’s defenses, saying that the former president and the other defendants, including his two adult sons and his company, ignored reality when it suited their business needs. “In defendants’ world,” he wrote, “rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air.”

The judge also levied sanctions on Mr. Trump’s lawyers for making arguments that he had previously rejected. He ordered each to pay $7,500, noting that he had previously warned them that the arguments in question bordered on being frivolous.

Wow. Who would have imagined that possibly the biggest grifter the United States has ever known, a man psychologically incapable of telling the truth, would have lied about his businesses? I mean, other than the sentient beings who have been laughing out loud at the man's self-description as a "billionaire" ever since he first uttered the word.

We've known for years that his "business empire" was a Potemkin village of naming rights and loans, with so many bankruptcies and defaults literally no respectable bank (and few disrespectable ones) would lend him any more money. Anyone who lived in New York as far back as the 1980s knew then that any nickels he could rub together came from someone else. But knowing he was full of shit and relying on fraudulent financial disclosures are two different things under the law.

I guess he'll have a few more bankruptcies under his immense belt soon. They'll go nicely with the 91 criminal charges against him.

And still, a third of the country think this man can do no wrong. Homines liber volunt credunt.

If our guy's corrupt, arrest him

US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has gotten himself indicted again for stupefying corruption:

The three-count federal indictment depicts a brazen plan hatched during furtive dinners, in text messages and on encrypted calls — much of it aimed at increasing U.S. assistance to Egypt and aiding businessmen in New Jersey.

Mr. Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, is accused of acting as a go-between, passing messages to an American-Egyptian businessman, Wael Hana, who maintained close connections with Egyptian military and intelligence officials, the indictment said. In one text, to an Egyptian general, Mr. Hana referred to the senator, who held sway over military sales, financing and other aid, as “our man.”

Friday’s charges describe an intermingling of the bare-knuckle, back-room dealings of Mr. Menendez’s home state of New Jersey and delicate matters of security in the Middle East. They represent the latest episode in a decades-long political career that took Mr. Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, from the Union City, N.J., school board to the halls of the Senate, a career marked by accusations of corruption and an earlier federal indictment that ended in a hung jury.

Dan Friedman marvels at the indictment:

Prosecutors say the New Jersey Democrat and his wife took hundreds of thousands of dollars via gold bars, mortgage payments, a Mercedes-Benz convertible, and cash that investigators found hidden in envelopes inside jackets bearing the senator’s name.

But what’s particularly striking about this indictment—besides the sheer brazenness of the alleged bribery—is that this is the second time Menendez has faced corruption charges in less than a decade. In 2015, he was charged with using his office to do favors for a Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, who lavished Menendez with luxury items and free travel. Menendez, who claimed he and Melgen were simply friends who exchanged gifts, avoided conviction after a hung jury caused a mistrial in 2017. Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud in 2017, but President Donald Trump commuted his 17 year prison sentence.

In 2018, the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Menendez, noting that despite the mistrial, Menendez had admitted to taking official actions to help Melgen while accepting gifts from him that the senator failed to disclose “as required by Senate Rules and federal law.” The committee said that Menendez’s actions “reflected discredit upon the Senate.”

The new charges suggest that the unusually sharp condemnation from his colleagues did not cause Menendez to cease ethically questionable, if not illegal, conduct. And Senate Democrats did nothing to stop him. Menendez’s 2018 reelection to a third Senate term, and an agreement by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to allow Menendez to return to a top spot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—he became chairman when his party took control of the chamber in 2021—gave Menendez the power that the Justice Department now alleges he used corruptly.

I lived in New Jersey years ago—in fact, just after I started The Daily Parker—so I get that the state has a rep to uphold. But wow, the man needs to resign right now. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is also a Democrat, so should Menendez unexpectedly do the right thing, Murphy would appoint a new senator immediately. (As long as Murphy doesn't start marveling at "this thing [that's] fucking golden," we should be all right.)

Two more senior Navy jobs blocked by Coach Tuberville

Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, now a United States Senator grâce a the wisdom and good sense of the fine people of Alabama, continues to degrade the United States military by preventing the US Senate from confirming 301 (and counting) general and flag officers from formally taking the jobs they're already doing. Earlier this month, the commanders of the Naval Air Forces and Naval Sea Systems Command retired, passing their responsibilities—but, crucially, not their policy-setting powers—to their putative successors. US Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), a retired US Navy Captain and 4-time Space Shuttle astronaut, stopped just short of calling Tuberville an idiot on today's NPR Morning Edition.

In other news:

Finally, John Scalzi's blog turned 25 today, making the Hugo-winning author a relative new arrival to the blogging scene, at least when compared with The Daily Parker.

It's XPOTUS indictment day...again...

An Atlanta grand jury charged the failed fascist and 18 of his mooks with another 41 counts, including orchestrating a "criminal enterprise," following his attempts to steal the election in Georgia:

The 41-count indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election.

Mr. Trump, who is running again for president in the 2024 election and is the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race.

Although that case covers some of the same ground as the one in Georgia, there are crucial differences between state and federal charges: Even if Mr. Trump were to regain the presidency, the prosecutors in Georgia would not report to him, nor would he have the power to attempt to pardon himself if convicted.

The 13 counts against the XPOTUS bring his total charge sheet to 84 items, most of them felonies, and most of them with the potential of jail time.

The defendants include Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, and Sidney Powell.

I thank the editors of Politico for keeping track of all of the XPOTUS's criminal cases. We have only 448 days until the 2024 election. We are unlikely to see any of these cases resolved by then. That said, I agree with Josh Marshall: in these dominance contests between the XPOTUS and the People of The United States, the People of Georgia, and the People of New York, the People must win.