By Jeff Childers
Good morning, C&C, it’s Tuesday! Your roundup today includes: House creeps toward electing Jordan as Speaker but handful of Republicans hold out; federal judge tries to gag Trump; Biden cruise to nowhere leaves handful of participating Americans wondering about how much they just spent for a 10-hour boat ride; Israelis start wondering what’s taking so long to invade Gaza; the Israelis dissed sad little Zelensky; the U.S. stops another possible peace deal from happening; and Putin confers with China.
🗞💬 WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY 💬🗞
🔥 The Hill ran a nail-biting story late last night headlined, “Jordan builds momentum to Speakership but still faces opposition.”
The House will vote today on whether to elect Representative Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) as the new Speaker of the House. By 8pm last night there were still six Republican “never-Jordan” holdouts: Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.), Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa).
You have to hand it to the six holdouts. It is hard to imagine a higher-pressure setup for them to resist electing a Speaker, given the urgent demands for an Israel aid package (plus that other country that has some kind of conflict going on, I can’t remember the name). Assuming this is just politics and they aren’t really scorched-earth maniacs, the six should get pretty great deals.
If you’re in one of those holdout districts, today would be a good day to make a call.
Talks continue. Jordan is optimistic. Exiting a GOP conference meeting last night, Jordan told reporters, “Look, I felt good walking into the conference. I feel even better now. We’ve got a few more people we want to talk to, listen to. And then we’ll have a vote tomorrow.”
🔥 The Washington Post ran an enthusiastic story yesterday headlined, “Judge Chutkan issues limited gag order for Trump in D.C. Jan. 6 case.”
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Jamaican-born Obama appointee presiding over the Trump January 6th election interference case, issued an oral restraining order directed at Donald Trump. None of “the parties” — meaning Trump — may publicly comment about Special Counsel Jack Smith, Smith’s staff, court staff (presumably including Judge Chutkan), or “potential witnesses” in the case.
The judge’s gag order included a laundry list of stuff the parties may not say or do. They can’t call things the “best ever.” They may not upload any long social media posts about the case IN ALL CAPS. The parties are limited to a maximum of three exclamation marks (“!”) per twitter post. They can’t refer to the United States as a “third-world hellhole” or a “hellhole” of any kind. And they specifically aren’t allowed to give the judge derogatory nicknames like “Judge Chumpy” or “Judge Chubarker.”
Haha, just kidding. Nobody’s actually seen the order yet, the judge announced her ruling in court yesterday and promised a written order soon. To be honest, Judge Chutkan’s order sounds very carefully parsed, appearing balanced, obviously trying to avoid a Ukraine-sized minefield of First Amendment issues more potentially explosive than defective, depleted-uranium cluster bombs (made in the U.S.A.).
Judge Chutkan coolly explained, “This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses. This is about language which presents a danger to the administration of justice.”
There are two Constitutional issues at play. The first issue is Trump’s right to Free Speech under the First Amendment, enhanced in this case because it features the political trial of a running candidate during a presidential campaign close to elections who is also a former President.
In that sense, it’s First Amendment to the tenth power.
But there’s a competing right — the right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment, which courts have interpreted as giving them a lot of leeway in controlling parties’ out-of-court conduct. Recently, for example, you may recall Sam Bankman-Fried was stuffed back in the slammer after the judge found Sam tweeting around trying to tamper with witnesses. No more social media for Sam. Or liberty either.
Similarly, Judge Chutkan claimed her order was to keep Trump from launching a “pre trial smear campaign” that poses a “danger to the administration of justice.” She was presumably referring to the potential jury pool and to witnesses.
Saying this case is unique is like saying Joe Biden sleeps a lot during the daytime. Duh.
Trump plans to appeal to the DC Circuit, which hates him and hopes he will fall into a collapsing black hole somewhere. Social media partisans and trolls see the issue as black and white: either that the appeal is a lock or it doesn’t have any chance. I think the truth is no one has any idea what’s going to happen, although I’d lean slightly toward the Supreme Court upholding the order or maybe just tinkering around its borders, because the case is really all about judges’ authority to control parties who come before their courts.
The truth is the entire case — not the gag order — needs to be thrown out.
Going forward, my guess is the Judge will be reluctant to pull the trigger on any real sanctions, and will probably lay in wait, like judges do, for a really egregious violation to pull the trigger. But one thing is clear: Judge Chutkan instantly manufactured a whole industry of salivating liberal pundits who just can’t wait for Trump to violate the order so they can jump up and down pointing at him with long, witchy fingers of blame.
Witchy fingers of blame like those of former Obama spokesliar Jen Psaki, who appeared on MSNBC last night claiming Trump had already violated the order. Watch:
After Trump made some after-Court remarks last night, obviously trying his hardest to comply with the order, referring obliquely to “a judge” that “doesn’t like me” who issued “an order,” media pitbull Jen Psaki pounced, rounding up cumbrous longshot candidate Chris Christie for bipartisan cover:
PSAKI: “Did he already violate the gag order by complaining about Judge Chutkan?”
CHRISTIE: “He probably didn’t violate the gag order but he will. We know he will.”
That might be the first time I agree with Chris Christie. There is no doubt Trump will eventually violate that order. Probably some time today before lunch.
🚀 Day 10: Middle East War Briefing. Um:
Zelensky jilted by Israelis, even after promising penis piano performance.
💣 In case you missed the marketing email, Royal Caribbean ran a super unique cruise special yesterday, described in Haaretz’s’ article, “‘Very, very mixed feelings’: U.S. nationals escape Israel-Hamas War on emergency cruise.” Joe Biden rented the Rhapsody of the Seas for a quick 10-hour cruise across the smallest part of the Eastern Mediterranean to the closest point to Northern Israel. American citizens (mostly dual-citizens), limited to one suitcase each, were forced to sign a promissory note binding them to reimburse the U.S. government for the cruise’s cost.
The best part was the note did not specify what that amount would be. Haha suckers! As a lawyer, my advice would be to never sign a promissory note where the lender can later fill in any amount they want. It seems obvious, but there you go.
By the time you read this, the reluctant cruisers have been stranded on Cyprus Island after their 10-hour cruise. Which is, one supposes, a marginal improvement over Israel.
Haaretz’s sub-headline spoke volumes: “The atmosphere among U.S. citizens making a five-star getaway from Haifa to Cyprus on Monday was weary. Some didn’t want to leave, Others couldn’t wait to get away – all were wondering if they were going to have to pay for it.”
Oh, they’re not just going to have to pay for it, and pay dearly. They’ll probably also get audited. And that is only if Biden can’t think of what to indict them for.
Frankly, from the carefully staged pictures it doesn’t look like very many people took Biden up on his awesome, mystery-priced “cruise deal.” From what I can tell it could have been as few as only ten or twenty people. I’m not kidding. None of the articles gave a count.
Contrast that with the first DeSantis rescue mission, which returned 293 Americans with 91 kids TO THE UNITED STATES, and not just some random Middle Eastern island next to a war zone.
💣 The Jerusalem Post asked the same question we’ve been musing over since last week, in an article headlined “Why has the Gaza ground invasion been delayed since Friday? – analysis.” The article began by wondering whether IDF officials are starting to suspect Gaza might be a trap, which is exactly what they should be thinking about, and then the article meandered through a whole litany of other sticky problems and questions, like what exactly does Israel plan to do with post-invasion Gaza?
Despite diligent efforts to pry some kind of official explanation or comment from its many government sources, JPost got nothing. Bupkis. The reader is left with the firm impression that the official plan is … there is no plan. Netanyahu’s badly-damaged government is in a jam. He’s been handed the unlimited reins to an unprecedented unified government, and now he absolutely must use them, to do something, something soon — but whatever he does had better work.
The New York Times ran a highly-suggestive article this morning noting that, in all his time as Prime Minister, Netanyahu has never engaged in a full-scale war. The Times is slyly suggesting that Bibi is chicken. That’s probably unfair. Netanyahu has never run a full-scale war because Israel has enjoyed a long period of relative peace until now. But the pressure is building. Netanyahu can’t keep 370,000 reservists circling parking lots in tanks forever. Probably not for very much longer. And he can’t just send them all home either. He’s in a pretty pickle (which is a very weird expression, if you think about it).
UPDATE: Israeli social media influencer Amir Tsarfati opined this morning that the ground invasion will start on Thursday, after Biden leaves town. We’ll see.
💣 Leaving the forlorn former comedian feeling distinctly unwanted, like a distant third cousin who asked to stay with you for “a couple days” but is now going on three months — and just asked to come along on the annual ski vacation with the “rest of the family,” Netanyahu officials politely told Ukrainian president Zelensky yesterday that “the time is not right” for a visit. They just have a whole lot going on right now and will get back to him as soon as their calendar clears up.
Literally translated from the Hebrew, what the Israelis really said was, “It’s our turn. Get lost, jerk.” I think Zelensky might be starting to get the idea.
On the other hand, U.S. Resident Joe Biden will make an “unprecedented” visit to Israel tomorrow to show his ‘unshakable support’. The Israelis don’t realize this yet, but when the State Department said Biden would offer “unshakeable” support, what they meant was Biden is going to fist-bump rather than shake hands. You literally can’t shake hands with him.
💣 Russia Today reported yesterday that the UN Security Council rejected Russia’s cease-fire resolution for Gaza.” The vote was telling. To pass the proposed cease-fire resolution, which would also have required the immediate return of all Israeli hostages, at least nine countries would have had to vote in favor. Any of the five ‘permanent members’ could veto.
Five member countries voted “for” the cease-fire (China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russia, and the UAE), four countries voted “against” (France, Japan, Britain, and the United States), and six others abstained. It didn’t pass.
In other words, the United States just stopped another potential peace deal from happening. If you didn’t know better, you might think the secretive U.S. State Department is intentionally trying to make the world more chaotic and wartorn.
I could be wrong. Hyphenated U.S. Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield explained that the U.S.’s vote against a ceasefire was because, while ceasefires are great and everything, Russia’s resolution did not condemn Hamas harshly enough. “By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, hypocritical and indefensible,” she noted in triplicate.
Permanent U.S. Representative to the U.N. Security Council Linda Thomas-Greenfield
💣 Meanwhile yesterday, Establishment Media foil and Russian president Vladimir Putin went to China to meet with his “dear friend,” China’s president Xi Jinping, as well as Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban. I wonder what they’ll be talking about? Whatever it is, we probably won’t like it.
In his Tucker interview, Hungary’s outstanding Prime Minister Viktor Orban explained that, given his country’s geographic proximity to Russia, it is critical for them to preserve good relations with the former Soviet republic. I find it fascinating that a conservative, majority-Christian nation like Hungary prefers to rely on Russia and not the United States. What do you suppose that means?
Have a terrific Tuesday! And come back tomorrow at the same time for a fresh C&C roundup of news and commentary.
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© 2022, Jeff Childers, all rights reserved
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.