Friday Afternoon Baby Animals Open Thread

Good Afternoon!

I just learned that Dakinikat is under the weather today, so I’m going to pull together some reading material for discussion. Here are some of the stories I’ve been reading today.

Of course there are lots of horrible articles about Trump and his efforts to destroy our country. On of the ways he’s doing that is by encouraging people who like to shoot guns. For that reason, and because it’s such an important story, I want to begin with a long piece at The Washington Post about a school shooting and its after-effects. I’ll post the beginning of the story. Please follow the link to read the rest. It’s powerful and important.

Recess had finally started, so Ava Olsen picked up her chocolate cupcake, then headed outside toward the swings. And that’s when the 7-year-old saw the gun.

It was black and in the hand of someone the first-graders on the playground would later describe as a thin, towering figure with wispy blond hair and angry eyes. Dressed in dark clothes and a baseball cap, he had just driven up in a Dodge Ram, jumping out of the pickup as it rolled into the chain-link fence that surrounded the play area. It was 1:41 on a balmy, blue-sky afternoon in late September, and Ava’s class was just emerging from an open door directly in front of him to join the other kids already outside. At first, a few of them assumed he had come to help with something or say hello.

Then he pulled the trigger.

“I hate my life,” the children heard him scream in the same moment he added Townville Elementary to the long list of American schools redefined by a shooting.

A round struck the shoulder of Ava’s teacher, who was standing at the green metal door, before she yanked it shut. But the shooter kept firing, shattering a glass window.

Near the cubbies inside, 6-year-old Collin Edwards felt his foot vibrate, then burn, as if he had stepped in a fire. A bullet had blown through the inside of his right ankle and popped out beneath his big toe, punching a hole in the sole of his Velcro-strapped sneaker. As his teachers pulled him away from the windows, Collin recalled later, he spotted a puddle of blood spreading across the gray wax tile floor in the hallway. Someone else, he realized, had been hurt, too.

Outside, Ava had dropped her cupcake. The Daisy Scout remembered what her mom had said: If something doesn’t feel right, run. She sprinted toward the far side of the building, rounding a corner to safety. Nowhere in sight, though, was Jacob Hall, the tiny boy with oversize, thick-lensed glasses Ava had decided to marry when they grew up. He had been just a few steps behind her at the door, but she never saw him come out. Ava hoped he was okay.

After reading this heartbreaking story, I want to just forget about our Trumpian nightmare for the rest of the day.

Of course the monster tweeted this morning after taking a long break from his social media addiction. He just can’t quit.

So now the pretend president has accused the former Director of the FBI of a felony–lying under oath.

Philip Bump at the Washington Post: There’s no indication Comey violated the law. Trump may be about to.

President Trump’s declaration that the Thursday testimony of former FBI director James B. Comey was a “total and complete vindication” despite “so many false statements and lies” was the sort of brashly triumphant and loosely-grounded-in-reality statement we’ve come to expect from the commander in chief. It was news that came out a bit later, news about plans to file a complaint against Comey for a revelation he made during that Senate Intelligence Committee hearing meeting, that may end up being more damaging to the president.

CNN and Fox first reported that Trump’s outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, plans to file complaints with the inspector general of the Justice Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee about Comey’s testimony. At issue was Comey’s revelation that he provided a memo documenting a conversation with Trump to a friend to be shared with the New York Times.

As the news broke, I was on the phone with Stephen Kohn, partner at a law firm focused on whistleblower protection. We’d been talking about where the boundaries lay for Comey in what he could and couldn’t do with the information about his conversations with the president. Kohn’s response to the story about Kasowitz, though, was visceral.

“Here is my position on that: Frivolous grandstanding,” he said. “First of all, I don’t believe the inspector general would have jurisdiction over Comey any more, because he’s no longer a federal employee.” The inspector general’s job is to investigate wrongdoing by employees of the Justice Department, which Comey is no longer, thanks to Trump — though the IG would have the ability to investigate an allegation of criminal misconduct.

“But, second,” he continued, “initiating an investigation because you don’t like somebody’s testimony could be considered obstruction. And in the whistleblower context, it’s both evidence of retaliation and, under some laws, could be an adverse retaliatory act itself.”

Vox: Trump’s lawyer: Comey violated executive privilege. 10 legal experts: No, he didn’t.

After the public testimony of former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, released a statement. In addition to being riddled with typos, it contained a curious legal argument.

Kasowitz contended that Comey broke the law by leaking memos about his private conversations with the president — what the statement called an “unauthorized disclosure of private information.”

The not-so-subtle implication here is that any and every conversation with the president is privileged, and therefore protected under the law. That’s a rather broad interpretation of executive privilege, and one that 10 legal experts disputed in interviews with Vox.

Executive privilege exists for a reason: to protect against the forced disclosures of classified or confidential executive branch communications. But here’s the problem: The conversations between Trump and Comey were not classified. Moreover, because the president himself has publicly referred to the conversations in question, he has already waived any claim for executive privilege. That Comey is now a private citizen also weakens the Kasowitz’s claim that he’s bound to secrecy.

There is, however, little settled law on the question of executive privilege. So I reached out to 10 legal experts and asked them if Kasowitz’s interpretation of executive privilege makes any sense. Every one of them said it doesn’t.

Read what the experts said at the Vox link.

The Atlantic: The Incompetence Defense.

During former FBI Director James Comey’s dramatic testimony before the Senate on Thursday, Republican senators settled on a pair of strange arguments for why President Trump hadn’t obstructed justice: He didn’t try very hard, or he was really bad at it.

Comey testified that the president asked Comey to shut down the FBI investigation into former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was ousted after lying about his contact with Russian officials, saying, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey testified that he took that statement as “direction.” Republicans weren’t convinced.

“Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?” Idaho Republican Jim Risch asked. Comey said he did not, but New York Times legal reporter Adam Liptak quickly found one such example.

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma took a similar tack. “If this seems to be something the president is trying to get you to drop it,” Lankford said, “it seems like a light touch to drop it, to bring it up at that point, the day after he had just fired Flynn, to come back here and say, I hope we can let this go, then it never reappears again.”

Texas Senator John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, suggested that firing Comey after not shutting down the Flynn investigation proved Trump wasn’t trying to shut it down. “As a general proposition, if you’re trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an FBI director a good way to make that happen?” Cornyn asked Comey, who replied that “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I’m hopelessly biased given that I was the one fired.”

David Gomez, a senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security and a former FBI agent, said he didn’t find that line of argument persuasive. “I failed to follow Cornyn’s logic. Especially given the public reasons for the firing,” Gomez said. “Firing the man in charge of the FBI—and replacing him with your own man—is exactly what I would expect if you were trying to impede an FBI investigation.”

Republican are at great pains to make excuses for Trump’s behavior. Paul Ryan even claimed it should be overlooked because Trump is new to politics. Do Congressional Republicans even give a sh$t about what happens to our democratic system? That was an academic question.

Matthew Yglesias argues that: The most important Comey takeaway is that congressional Republicans don’t care. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Republicans know something is wrong, but they don’t care

Ezra Klein rightly wrote yesterday that Trump’s presidency is an American crisis.

I would only add that it’s a political crisis. Anyone who has had any occasion to speak to Republican members of Congress or other pillars of the Washington conservative establishment knows they are perfectly aware that Trump is unfit to serve as president.

“Washington conservatives know that reporters are not making up these incredible quotes, or relying only on Democratic holdovers, or getting bits of gossip from the janitor,” as Megan McArdle put it in an excellent Bloomberg View column speaking as a member of the beltway right trying to address the grassroots right. “They know that the Trump administration is in fact leaking like a rusty sieve — from the top on down — and that this is a sign of a president who has, in just four short months, completely lost control over his own hand-picked staff.”

Over lunch, a right-of-center think tanker told me that during the transition his colleagues joked that in this administration, you’d rather get a job in a federal agency than a White House job — because that way you’d stay out of jail when the indictments come down.

But Republicans have decided they aren’t going to address this crisis situation. Instead, they are going to try to manage it in pursuit of the shared agenda of tax cuts, welfare state rollback, and deregulation of banks and polluters.

Anyway . . . what else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below. 

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33 Comments on “Friday Afternoon Baby Animals Open Thread”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Trump just committed to testify under oath in Mueller’s investigation.

    • Enheduanna says:

      WOW BB – did he tweet something to that effect?

      Txs for baby animals (squeeeee) and Happy Friday!

      • bostonboomer says:

        No, he just said it in his press conference with the head of Romania. I’ll try to find a link soon.

        • bostonboomer says:

          WaPo: Trump accuses Comey of lying to Congress, says he’d be ‘100 percent’ open to talking to Russia probe special counsel

          President Trump on Friday accused former FBI director James B. Comey of lying under oath to Congress in the Russia investigation and called him a “leaker,” before suggesting he would be willing to give his side of the story to special counsel Robert Mueller.

          “One hundred percent,” Trump said when asked by a reporter during a Rose Garden news conference if he would be open to testifying in the FBI probe that Mueller is overseeing.

          “I’d be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you,” Trump added.

          I don’t know why the story omitted the “under oath” part. That was in Jonathan Karl’s question.

    • NW Luna says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    BBC News: UK election 2017: Conservatives lose majority

    http://www.bbc.com/news/election-2017-40209282

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Trump’s lawyer also has a Russian oligarch as a client.

    Trump’s connection to Russian billionaire Deripaska.

    • NW Luna says:

      How …. odd. Another coincidence. Gee, that makes …. about the 103rd Russian coincidence. Awfully hard to keep track of them, with new ones popping up all the time.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Miami Herald:

    Did Rubio trade the integrity of U.S. for a Cuba-policy shift from Trump?

    It may be hard to fathom outside of Miami, but the faraway island of Cuba and Cuban-American politics could have played a role in Thursday’s historic hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Did the influential Republican senator from Miami on the committee, Marco Rubio, trade the integrity of this country for the pledge of a U.S. policy shift on Cuba from President Donald Trump? The optics — and the timing of a yet unscheduled visit by Trump to Miami to announce a rollback advocated by Rubio of President Barack Obama’s engagement policy — certainly make it seem that way.

    Before Rubio’s intervention, the testimony by former FBI director James Comey had grown impressively damning to President Trump in the same manner a steady, thoughtful, and detail-oriented prosecutor builds a case.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Love the baby animals, especially the spotty kittens pouncing each other.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I needed those today, especially after reading the WaPo article on children who experienced a school shooting.

      • NW Luna says:

        I read that too this morning. Thinking about all the kids witnessing / experiencing violence, and are living with the effects as they grow up and are adults. The burdens of hypervigilence and stress and knowing there is no safe place.

    • Fannie says:

      Ditto that, luv me some puppies.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Amazing? Sounds sensible to me!

  7. NW Luna says:

    Ooooh!

    • Enheduanna says:

      I think it was MSNBC last night did a montage of all the times tRump has promised something in the “next two weeks” or “in a short period of time” and of course nothing materializes. We’re still waiting for Melania to tell us about her immigration papers for instance. He dangles that “coming soon” promise constantly and nothing ever materializes.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Trump is a pathological liar. He seems to have no conception of reality.

  9. quixote says:

    This post made me realize I’ve never seen a baby walrus. Lifelong biologist, and I’ve never seen a baby walrus! Cute, cute, cute.

    Thank you!

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. dakinikat says:

    Glenn Headley has passed too:

    http://deadline.com/2017/06/glenne-headly-dies-actress-steppenwolf-theater-company-original-member-1202110180/

  12. dakinikat says:

    I’m moving slow today. Still kind of week from yesterday’s flu but I’m working on the the thread!!!

  13. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      go read her entire rightenous rants at english dude Bros …

      • Enheduanna says:

        I hate to say this but I really think English and Australian men are worse than American men. I remember being shocked when I first started travelling to the U.K. in the 1980s to see topless centerfolds in the major daily newspapers. I don’t think they do that anymore but it was jarring to say the least. That was not the only indicator.

      • NW Luna says:

        Loved her thread!