TOC Ready Room 30 March 2023: Trump; Saving Twitter; Missing piece from J6

What’s wrong and right with the world; Trump indictment edition.

Ham sandwich on the Manhattan court docket

The indictment for Donald Trump, which came down on Thursday 30 March, interrupts our regularly scheduled programming.

At the moment we’re hearing the number “34 counts,” which legal experts assume means 34 counts of the same indictment, presumably “falsified business records.”

The problems with the indictment are numerous, starting with the fact that falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York and the statute of limitations is long past.  Even if Manhattan DA Bragg “bootstraps” it to felony falsification by tying it to a separate felony crime, a key problem is there’s no New York felony that can be tied to it.  Moreover, there’s no federal felony, as demonstrated by the choice of the DOJ and Mueller investigation not to charge any such crime when looking at the same underlying predicate (monetary transactions surrounding the Stormy Daniels payoff), and the Federal Election Commission finding that there was no there there.

And that’s all before getting to the problem of Michael Cohen as the witness whose testimony would frame the business records in question as falsified.  And even if he were a credible witness, Trump himself would have had no hand in falsifying the records.  It will be easily demonstrable that he didn’t.

This is a political prosecution, meant to affect Trump’s viability in politics.  Many people think the blatant politicization will only boost Trump.

My main concern is for America, and the precedent this will set if it goes forward with little drama and merely results, as it should, in early dismissal of the case or acquittal.  If no one is really hurt out of it, people could be lulled into thinking it was unfortunate, but not that big a deal.

It is a big deal.  It’s an abuse of the judicial system to go after a political opponent.  It mustn’t become standard, not only because it would catastrophically corrupt politics and government, but because it would be wielded more cheaply and in an even more deadly fashion against the American people.  We’re all subject to becoming ham sandwiches if this episode merely slides by with no reckoning.

Trump, Destroyer of Worlds.

I’ll hold fire for now, except to say that this is one more major factor in the indispensable requirement for a watershed reckoning and a reset of America’s course for the future.  There’s no going “back” from here.  “Back” isn’t even available anymore.  The safe-seeming old days people yearn for are no longer an option.  We can have a bright future again, but not without a reckoning to repudiate too much that would try to sneak into the “future” on the coattails of sentiment and relief, if we’re offered just a little bit of the familiar to console ourselves with.

Twitter sideways?

After the horrible shooting at the Covenant Presbyterian School in Nashville, in which six students and school officials were killed, a number of pundits pointed out the prior plans of activists whose scheduled “Day of Vengeance,” not long after the shooting, may be related to the mental disturbance apparently involved in the massacre.

In doing this, they quoted from and included screen caps of the activists’ own online notice about the rally.  The activists had been allowed to post the notice for some time.  (Reportedly, after the shooting, Twitter did then sweep for and remove the original activists’ posts.)

But when it was called out by others, Twitter suspended the user accounts of the observers.

The Federalist’s Sean Davis is one of those whose account has been suspended, and naturally enough he recognizes that as biased censorship.  That’s what it is.  Claiming it’s about the suspended user – Sean Davis – inciting violence by quoting others who advocate for “vengeance” is a dishonest dodge.  Everyone can see that.  Debating it is laughable.

Sean Davis has seen enough, and says there’s no fixing Twitter.  “It’s Time For Free Speech Proponents To Let It Die,” he says.

It may be that Twitter will have to die, and perhaps at some point rise, a different kind of bird, from the ashes.

I don’t intend to have a comprehensive dialogue here about the woes of social media.  But I do want to advance this idea.  To a significant extent, I think Elon Musk got off track when he tweeted back in January that “Twitter is the source of truth.”

That’s a problematic premise.  It’s incompatible with what Twitter and other social media should be.  I realize it’s an aspirational statement, but even in that sense it’s problematic.  It posits that there’s an overriding standard by which to determine what truth is, on most if not all the myriad topics debated on Twitter, and Twitter is a means of presenting truth as a solution.

But in no circumstances will we ever be able to establish what truth is, by checking to see what solution Twitter has reached on it, or even what content Twitter is allowing on the topic.  That’s not a knock on Twitter.  No human venue for exchanging opinions, facts, and analysis has ever achieved that status.  In the realm of human-designed and human-guided institutions, there’s no such thing as “the source of truth.”

And that’s OK.  Being realistic and recognizing that is just being wise and balanced.  If we’re seeking some approved, applauded truth and think the infosphere of social media is the place to look, we’re way off track.  We’re looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing.

What social media can serve us by being is not “the source of truth” but “the sound of freedom.”  A lot of truth circulates out there in the noise.  But there’s not one single man-Jack of us who’s been appointed to tell everyone else what’s truth and what isn’t.

That’s the very reason – the literal reason – our wise Framers gave us the First Amendment to the Constitution.  It’s because we’re not competent to determine when everyone else should shut up and stop saying what we disagree with.  Government is just us, on steroids, and with a license to steal, kill, and destroy for the purpose of deterrence and order-keeping.  It has no more wisdom or omniscience than we do.  That’s why the Framers sought to hedge it about with prohibitions, limits, and boundaries.

I don’t go to Twitter expecting to find the truth.  I visit Twitter because I have reason to hope there will be a lot of information and opinion, some of it accurate and some of it rational.  I can handle hearing from people I disagree with, including those I think are egregiously wrong (who often adduce “facts” that are demonstrably wrong).

The sound of freedom has the handicap today that fewer and fewer people seem able to communicate without stating everything as a conclusion.  I end up saying nothing quite often, because the dialogue isn’t a dialogue at all; it’s a series of polarized conclusions proclaimed by the “sides,” and engaging the topic would require a wearying restatement of the basic propositions in my own terms.

It’s not helpful to argue from other people’s conclusions (a good example here is the conclusion that religious liberty is code for “anti-LGBTQ+,” with two checked bags’ worth of malevolent baggage tacked on. But another one is the conclusion that everyone who’s unsettled and fractious in a personal “trans” journey is a card-carrying disciple of Saul Alinsky, consciously participating in a Marxist enterprise to undermine Western civilization).  Starting off with other people’s conclusions is mainly a waste of precious time.

But suppressing other people’s conclusions, especially when done one-sidedly, is the opposite of allowing truth to emerge like a steady signal from the noise.  It’s the sound of freedom, and only the sound of freedom, that produces that effect.

It’s not the end of the world that people have their entrenched conclusions.  What would be the end of civilization as we know it, however, is allowing a handful of centralized entities to be the Conclusion Police, and work their way diligently back to suppressing mere facts and observations lest Wrong Conclusions ensue.

That’s the brand of dictators proclaiming themselves demigods, going back to the early Babylonian Empire.  But it’s fairly often the case that valid facts and important truths are being stated mostly by people who lead with their Wrong Conclusions about them.  It’s much rarer to find commentators who will put the facts and truths out there but not insist on their conclusions to go with them.  Sifting out the signal of truth always requires wading through noise.

Sean Davis essentially points out that “Babylonian dictatorship” is where Twitter is today.  There’s a hard problem here.  It’s more counterintuitive than we think it is, to stop insisting on a universally recognized relationship with the truth for our speech institutions, and focus on their relationship with freedom.  Twitter may not be able to do it.  But that’s the post-graduate-level assignment we have, to save our civilization.  Freedom really does produce the best outcomes.

The J6 conundrum

An astounding series of revelations has tumbled out from Julie Kelly’s keyboard over the last few weeks, which I won’t rehash here except to commend to you her recent articles at American Greatness (start with this one), and suggest following her forthwith on social media if you don’t do so already.

The central theme of the revelations, which come from DOJ disclosures in court (and thus are not speculation), is the number of federal informants who were giving the FBI updates in the weeks before the riot at the Capitol on 6 January 2021.  It’s quite as show-stopping that DOJ failed to make Brady disclosures about their existence even when specifically pressed on the matter by some of the defendants’ legal counsel.

This isn’t about the conclusion exercise of assuming this means the whole thing was a set-up by federal agencies.  Leading with that is counterproductive argument.  I’m not closing the door on the possibility, but I’m putting my marker down in a different place.

I suggest a focus on answering two questions of overriding importance.

The first one is this:  if the FBI had so many informants beforehand, and DOJ is able to make what it calls an “insurrection” case against some Proud Boy defendants because of their contribution, why in the name of heaven did the FBI (and DOJ) simply let a “plot” that they knew about go into execution on 6 January?  Why did they let it happen?

There can be no adequate excuse for that, if the FBI and DOJ are speaking the whole truth.

The other question is equally important, and gets to the heart of the concern I’ve had from the beginning.

The FBI has arrested hardly anyone actually involved in the Capitol break-in. That reality hasn’t changed since I first wrote about this basic discrepancy in February 2021.  From his vantage point in the Capitol Police command center, former Chief Steve Sund saw hundreds of people, or more, on security cameras participating in the violent breach at the beginning.  (He estimated thousands in his resignation letter.)  Videos from observers outside the Capitol appear to corroborate hundreds at a minimum.

Yet practically no one has been arrested and charged with what would obviously be a felonious offense in and of itself.  A number of defendants have been charged with attacks on the USCP, but few of the attacks were incident to the actual break-in.  The great majority of them were either outside the Capitol or inside it, with no count in the charges being that the defendant was attempting to break into the building at the time.

YouTube screen cap.

The FBI has instead concentrated on rounding up people who foolishly trooped afterward into a Capitol with its doors open, and took selfies and giggled.

If the Proud Boys charged with an insurrection plot were actually organizing an insurrection, it seems like the original break-in would have been connected with that, and the FBI’s informants should have led by now to a slew of arrests involving the violent breach at the beginning.  (It also seems like Question One needs answering even more urgently.  Why did DOJ and FBI just stand by and let it happen?)

Now here’s Question Two.  If the FBI informants’ contribution has not enabled the Bureau to find and arrest those break-in people, the ones seen in their hundreds on video, then – well, why not?

The potential answers seem to be that (a) the thoroughly-infiltrated Proud Boys’ activities were not related to the break-in, and (b) the FBI and DOJ are uninterested in pursuing the perpetrators of the actual break-in.

We are told that several hundred more people are being tracked down and arrested now for J6-related accusations.  But there were thousands of people there that day, and there is no reason to believe this new group of arrestees will be the breakers-in, as if it took this long to figure out who they were.  The break-in group should have been the priority all along:  the first people to be hunted down, as opposed to the rally-goers who wandered around for a while in the wrong place (or in some cases didn’t even enter the Capitol, but at most “paraded” outside of it).

All those FBI informants and so little to show for it.  An “insurrection” with a handful of plotters but no actual insurrectionist cadre; hundreds of people with misdemeanor plea deals who aren’t accused of “plotting” anything and had nothing to do with what the informants knew about, or with the still-unexplained break-in.  The evidence of our eyes – that there was a violent break-in – remains largely unaccounted for, yet it was the most criminal, important thing that happened that day.

There’s a big missing piece here.  It remains legitimate to ask what was really going on, on 6 January 2021.  I don’t pretend to know for sure, but the new disclosures about all the FBI informants are the opposite of reassuring – and the opposite of convincing. 

Feature image: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Felix Garza Jr. (Via Wikimedia Commons)


6 thoughts on “TOC Ready Room 30 March 2023: Trump; Saving Twitter; Missing piece from J6”

  1. “It remains legitimate to ask what was really going on, on 6 January 2021.”

    One theory is that no one in Congress ever put forth the Resolutions to investigate dual Electoral College slates from some States. The timing of the lockdown suspended the remarks. (I was listening to Sen. Lankford on C-Span when he was stopped and hustled away. C-Span switched to the selfie-takers between ropelines. I finally flipped to CNN to find out what was happening outside the entrances)
    The resumption had very few of the planned prepared remarks, or the actual Resolutions to investigate.

    But, since I have always been more interested in foreign stuff, how about Saudi Arabia agreeing to accept the Kenya shilling for oil? and many more dings, from Brazil, India, and ASEAN, on the USD as global reserve currency. Foreign buyers are selling USTs, the sole way this US can finance the Federal and Trade deficits. BRICS breaking that glass.

    Was Bragg’s suddent indictment one way to “look- a big squirrel” from so much real news? One example:
    H.R.1 – Lower Energy Costs Act passed 225 (4-Ds) Yea to 204 (1 R) Nay, with 6 no voteDs. March 30, 2023. My bet is enough D-Senators from energy states, up for re-election, can force a vote, and pass H.R. 1 in the Senate. After all, Sen. Manchin & Tester +49 Rs passed the ‘cancel Labor Dept ESG Rule’ Resolution that Biden made his first veto. H.R. 1 is a substantial LAW, two years of work by HouseGOP. New House Rules Ctte dealt with >100 proposed amendments very efficiently in less than 6 days.

    One NOT-a coincidence is Sen Whitehouse chairs the 118th Congress BUDGET Ctte, and has held 6 hearings on “Climate Change” since Feb 15. Sen Sanders was chair in 117th Congress, and, over two years, held 12 hearings total, only one on “Climate”.

    1. Yes, I’ve observed numerous times now that the J6 break-in served principally to prevent Ted Cruz and his co-sponsors from introducing the Senate bill to delay Electoral College ratification for a state-by-state scrub of the vote.

      Direct evidence that that was the purpose of the break-in mob is of course not available to us. The point remains an unproven deduction — a possibility.

      All of the issues for America and American power are obviously interconnected. The domestic concerns with our rapid departure from the rule of law, as evidenced by the toweringly manifest double standard in application of it, are linked to the furtive, feral quality of the current administration, which is essential to the all-fronts attack on American national integrity and power from abroad. With a strong, accountably functioning presidency, we wouldn’t see the foreign-based attacks on the global order and American strength that we’re seeing now.

      Trump was a reversion *away* from the conditions of the “Reset” instituted under Obama. The rule of constitutional law is what would protect Trump’s supporters (as well as Trump), if it were applied. So it’s being attacked.

      At the same time, American stability and and resilience are being attacked on every front. The reemerging cartelization of oil and gas is one aspect of that. The watershed deals coming out now to conclude international transactions in currencies other than the US dollar is another. Putin’s willingness and ability to wage an excruciating war of attrition against NATO effectiveness is another. People who think adding Finland and Sweden to NATO is a sign of useful unity are deluding themselves — a *usefully* unified NATO would have deterred Putin from acting in the first place back in Feb 2022. NATO, even as it expands, is increasingly inert for the only purposes that matter.

      The flooding of the US border is another front of the attack. It’s about both infiltrating foreign cadre and vitiating the border’s meaning altogether.

      Violence and breakdown of civil life in our major cities is yet another front, being brought to us by the backers of radical DAs, mayors, and council members and commissioners.

      It’s actively stupid at this point to imagine these things are not all connected. They’re not “just happening.” All of them have a paper trail; some of them originate with China, some with Russia, but ALL of them are projects of the organized global Left.

      At any rate, there will always be hope for restoration and renewal. Failure to see the reality of the present does serve to delay that and make it harder.

      Bragg’s indictment can be used in several ways between now and the primaries in 2024. The judge has already set the next hearing for 4 Dec 2023, which is absurd. If Trump tweets or speaks too effectively between now and then, Bragg can probably get a gag order on some types of communications from him. The judge won’t rule on motions to dismiss until after the December hearing date. It’s pretty clear the indictment is an attempt to hold leverage over Trump. The Jack Smith special counsel effort, at a minimum, will be another such attempt, if it finds its way to another ham sandwich indictment. Letitia James may finally get some concocted NY tax-fraud allegation on the table as well. The NY AG hasn’t been able to after nearly 6 years of acknowledged “investigation,” but if Bragg can get an indictment for a non-existent crime, maybe she can too.

      People who think the GOP can just switch to DeSantis are fooling themselves. Ham sandwich indictments can be used against anyone, even those with no unsavory (but perfectly lawful) things lurking in their past. That’s the purpose of ham sandwich indictments: to dangle a guy like DeSantis if he emerges from the pack. It may not even be necessary; just pumping air into some Big Lies about DeSantis might do the trick.

      The only way to get out of the do-loop of elections decided by imponderables like whether people believe Big Lies, or how much they hate Trump, is to actually investigate and make conclusions about how much the vote is being tampered with, and what impact that has. The Democrats are consistently unwilling to do that, and most Republican leaders are afraid to.

      1. Thanks for your reply.
        I still post in disqus, mostly at powerlineblog, usually post Real News, including everything you cite here, and more, regardless of that blog’s increasingly clickbait-ish ‘topics’.

        Quibble with ” a *usefully* unified NATO would have deterred Putin from acting in the first place back in Feb 2022. ”
        No pundit ever mentions this Nov. 10, 2021 U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership […] United States supports Ukraine’s right to decide its own future foreign policy course free from outside interference, including with respect to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO. […] ><

        Have a Good Easter.

  2. The energy used to get Trump, from the moment of his election in 2016 (or even before, with Strokz’s “insurance policy”) dwarfs the hatred of Reagan and the Bushes.

    This indictment, which even the federal statute of limitations has run out, plus J6 makes it seem the left is terrified of Trump.


    I do have to go back to the WEF and it’s desire to reshape human society. Donald J. Trump is in the way.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, rbj. My response to D4x pretty much responds to your comment, I think.

      We’re in a 150-piece orchestra performance of a symphony of “it all ties together and it all matters” right now. With a chorus clocking in to swell the throng.

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