Groundhog Day Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

Another day! Another Constitutional Crisis!  It’s Groundhog Day KKKrelim Caligula Style!

Ezra Klein of VOX has written an extensive article based on How Democracies DieHis basis is the book and an interview with the authors available in podcast.

Where Levitsky and Ziblatt make their mark is in weaving together political science and historical analysis of both domestic and international democratic crises; in doing so, they expand the conversation beyond Trump and before him, to other countries and to the deep structure of American democracy and politics.

They also offer a lesson that should ring in our minds as we watch congressional Republicans agitate to release a memo designed to smear the FBI — setting up a confrontation between a president with authoritarian impulses and the FBI that’s investigating him — and cheer lustily as Trump delivers his State of the Union address.

Demagogues and authoritarians do not destroy democracies. It’s established political parties, and the choices they make when faced with demagogues and authoritarians, that decide whether democracies survive.

“2017 was the best year for conservatives in the 30 years that I’ve been here,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week. “The best year on all fronts. And a lot of people were shocked because we didn’t know what we were getting with Donald Trump.”

The best year on all fronts. Think about that for a moment. If you want to know why congressional Republicans are opening an assault on the FBI in order to protect Trump, it can be found in that comment. This was a year in which Trump undermined the press, fired the director of the FBI, cozied up to Russia, baselessly alleged he was wiretapped, threatened to jail his political opponents, publicly humiliated his attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation, repeatedly claimed massive voter fraud against him, appointed a raft of unqualified and occasionally ridiculous candidates to key positions, mishandled the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, and threatened to use antitrust and libel laws against his enemies.

And yet McConnell surveyed the tax cuts he passed and the regulations he repealed and called this not a mixed year for his political movement, not a good year for his political movement, but the best year he’d ever seen.

Speaking of Republicans who have completely sold out our country, you may read Rep. Devin Nunes (R- RUSSIA) at this link at WAPO.

The Nunes memo is a document created by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority, particularly when it sought a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser. The FBI and the Justice Department had lobbied strenuously against its release. On Wednesday, the FBI had said it was “gravely concerned” that key facts were missing from the memo. President approves release of GOP memo criticizing FBI surveillance

The White House released the memo with no redactions but a lot of stern tweet lying and shaming.

President Donald Trump has declassified the GOP memo and approved its release by the House Intelligence Committee without redactions, a White House official tells ABC News.

The White House transmitted the president’s opinion to the committee in a letter this morning, the official said.

As ABC News has previously reported, the memo is critical of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his role in renewing a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page after Trump took office.

Trump’s Republican allies have suggested that Rosenstein — who is also overseeing the Mueller investigation — is guilty of political bias toward the president because he supported surveillance on Page based in part on information from a Democrat-funded dossier.

“Does it make you more likely to fire Rosenstein? Do you still have confidence in him after reading the memo?” a reporter asked the president in the Oval Office.

“You figure that one out,” Trump responded.

Here’s some VOX analysis of why the Republicans (RUSSIA) think the memo will destroy the credibility of Mueller and his team.9

1) A FISA court judge reviewed evidence and approved a warrant to wiretap a Trump associate

In fall 2016, FBI investigators applied for a warrant with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump adviser. They presented evidence that Page may be acting as a Russian agent and the judge approved the warrant.

There isn’t much disagreement up to this point.

2) The core of the Nunes argument

The FBI says it got its evidence from several sources, and typically FISA warrant applications require corroboration of the information.

But the Nunes memo implies the case was primarily built on the Steele dossier — and points out that it was funded partially by a law firm on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

And here’s the important part: Nunes says investigators misled the judge by not saying they were relying on the Steele dossier.

3) Rod Rosenstein is dragged into this as well

The Nunes memo points out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved the application for a renewal of the warrant knowing they were relying heavily on the DNC-funded Steele dossier.

This part is crucial because it is saying Rosenstein knew about the warrant and approved of it. And since Nunes believes the warrant application was mostly from a DNC- and Clinton-funded report, he is trying to imply Rosenstein has an anti-Trump bias.

This is clearly a move to remove Rosenstein and replace him with some one that will fire Mueller.  It’s also beyond Nixonian.

It’s always been held–but not determined by the Supreme Court–that a sitting President cannot be indicted. This is being challenged by two lawyers with connections to lawyers familiar with the investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has gathered enough steam that some lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates are considering the possibility of a historic first: an indictment against a sitting president.

While many legal experts contend that Mueller lacks the standing to bring criminal charges against Trump, at least two attorneys working with clients swept up in the Russia probe told POLITICO they consider it possible that Mueller could indict the president for obstruction of justice.

Neither attorney claimed to have specific knowledge of Mueller’s plans. Both based their opinions on their understanding of the law; one also cited his interactions with the special counsel’s team, whose interviews have recently examined whether Trump tried to derail the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” said one of the lawyers.

The second attorney, who represents a senior Trump official, speculated that Mueller could try to bring an indictment against Trump even if he expects the move to draw fierce procedural challenges from the president’s lawyers – if only to demonstrate the gravity of his findings.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the attorney said. “Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get.”

I’m sure will hear all about this on news today. Meanwhile, share what you think and what you’re hearing!



33 Comments on “Groundhog Day Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    “Obstruction of Justice” is blinking away in neon!

    What is taking so long to bring the evidence forward?

    Flynn has pled. Papadopolous has pled. It looks as if one or two others are making deals with Mueller.

    Someone must be working on a report somewhere. Is this thing going to limp on for another year? Think what could happen in the meantime.

    I am beyond the point of frustration. So many lawyers have indicated that there is enough now to charge obstruction.

    We cannot wait until the 2018 elections since it is not a surety that the Dems will succeed in turning over congress. Too much can happen between now and then, primarily another “attack” by the Russians to impede the voting process.

    I applaud Mueller’s methodical handling but we are slipping into very dangerous territory here and nothing so far has convinced me that justice will be served.

    We no longer honor the truth.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Tim Weiner, who wrote a book on the history of the FBI at the NYT:

    In Trump vs. the F.B.I., Trump Will Lose

  4. quixote says:

    From the article about why “white women” vote for bigots: “To understand the “white woman story,” we must first acknowledge that white supremacy remains the prevailing force in electoral politics”

    Sorry, but no. Just no. If 2008 and 2016 proved anything, it’s that misogyny is a bigger force by about a factor of ten. (Simple thought experiment for any doubters: who was elected in 2008 with how much experience against which other politician? Repeat for 2016. Q. E. D.)

    It’s so big and so many people are so close to it, they can’t even see it.

    And, excuse me while I scream, we have to acknowledge ALL the biases before they’ll lose their power.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Fair point. I am astounded at the depths of misogyny revealed in those two election cycles.

      BUT don’t forget that one of the reasons why Hills was so vulnerable with whites and viewed with such contempt by so many people, was a lifetime as an on the record friend to blacky (and LGBTs).

      White women and black women who know their own mind, and who refuse to except white male rule are probably hated a tad more than white male liberals or black males (unless of course they are in any way threatening or appear to be in sexual competition for white females. Obama was neither of those).

      Patriarchy and Racism are Evil Siamese Twins.

      But it is impossible to tease out all the variables of who is hated the most and why.

      What we have to figure out is how can ANY of us still be fooled by these LYING RACIST HYPOCRITES!?!

      • quixote says:

        Patriarchy and Racism are Evil Siamese Twins.

        ^^^ This.

        You can never get rid of one and ignore the other. The core of the problem is cheap shots at self-worth by standing on somebody else. That’s what we have to make unacceptable. Not just some specific configuration of doormats and standees.

      • NW Luna says:

        And Hills was there, early in her career, on the ground, getting the evidence to charge the fat white bankers and mortgage companies for their racist lending policies. It’s bad enough she’s a woman, but she’s on black people’s side too! think Republicans.

        Republicans are mostly OK with their own women in political office (as long as it’s not too high) because their Republican women will continue Republican racist and sexist policies. Example: Invanka Trump and her laughable claims of empowering women.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Thank you.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I totally agree. In some ways, misogyny is as pervasive as racism.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Like I said yesterday, I don’t think there will be a woman president in my lifetime.

        I’m thinking that tRump is going to be the last “elected” (cough cough) President as it is…democracy is dead.

  5. quixote says:

    I’ve never read anything by Judith Kohler before, and after that article, I’m not likely to again.

    The research she cites points to *fundamentalism* as the driving force behind “white women” conservatism. Even the married women parameter is mostly a proxy for that. And yet by the end of the article, she’s still talking about “white women” likely never being terribly progressive.

    (And, of course black fundamentalist women aren’t infected by the same prion disease. They belong to different fundamentalist churches when they’re fundies. The white fundies only have token blacks, as far as I’ve ever seen. A lot of white fundamentalism grew out of a hatred of the civil rights movement. Racism is a huge motivation there. That doesn’t mean it applies to women generally, white or otherwise.)

    The level of analysis that insists on misreading the problem so it fits in her I’m-not-a-racist framework can’t lead to an actual solution.

    • quixote says:

      Michelle Bachman sure is Exhibit 1 in what happens to people who get fundie prion disease.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Now, I have to say this about black fundamentalists of both genders, they can be very narrow minded on many things. Case in point LGBT issues.

      However racism has more or less kept them voting rationally in spite of their religious prejudices.

      I think/hope that the black church is getting better though. Empathy SEEMS to be growing.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Can someone help me with this, “White women do not – and likely will never – constitute the progressive base.

      Huh? Why not?

      The successful trolling and fear mongering of Russians and racists on Face Book aside, I have been viewing white female voter’s role in the Trumpocalypse as an aberration.

      Trump propagandists convinced them that white people as a whole are under threat and blah, blah, blah…Seig Heil!

      But under normal circumstances I have always viewed white women as progressive allies. Just natural comrades in arms against an oppressive system.

      Have I just been naive?

      • quixote says:

        I don’t think so. From what I’ve seen, white women *except* fundie white women really are progressive by a landslide. I think I remember differences of +30% or even more. (Nate Silver’s 538 site? I’ll have to dig up where I saw that.)

        The problem is their churches, not their white womanhood, and the way you change people’s convictions which they think are based on some kind of god are not the same as realigning social prejudices. For the latter, making it illegal and uncool can help. For the goddy stuff, I don’t know. I get the impression it’s Katie-bar-the-door.

      • NW Luna says:

        Thank you Ron! I keep getting angry about the “all white women” — it doesn’t reflect reality in my blue state. Far and away the majority of the white women I know despise Trump. My immediate neighborhood is mostly white and there are BLM and Rainbow signs up on most blocks. My good friend and colleague is a white, church-going Catholic who prescribes birth control, treats her gay and trans patients just as compassionately as she does all of her other patients, and always votes Dem. We worked together at a community clinic, which BTW treats people without official documentation because we all knew that healthcare is a basic human right. I could go on, but these progressive characteristics are … just normal here.

        Though there are areas of this blue state you’ll see “gawd hates fags”-type signs, and even a Trump sign still up (usually with “fuck” scrawled on top though), specially in small towns where the churches and the bars outnumber the schools.

  6. Kirafa says:

    I’m actually nauseous over this crap and absolutely furious. Is there nothing we can do besides sit back and watch this damn buffoon take over our country? We all know Trump supporters will watch Fox and believe everything that is said. They will turn to their “deep state” conspiracy theories and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them don’t go off the deep end. The memo will be used to fire Rosenstein and then Mueller will be over before he started. There is some serious shit Trump is guilty of somewhere in all of this and I don’t think it is just obstruction or collusion. It’s money laundering and other things and that’s why we have never seen those tsx returns. So now I’m a conspiracy theorist, I guess.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s all going to come out. Trump can’t stop it the way he’s going around advertising that he’s deliberately obstructing justice.

  7. TheRealKim says:

    Can you tell I’m pissy?

  8. RonStill4Hills says:

    It is absolutely clear that the memo is a total farce, but Trump may well use it to take the next step in his rolling treason show. But the important thing will be whether or not we fucking revolt when he doesi it.

    There has to be a million patriot impeachment march.

    We need to fill the mall like Cheeto-Face imagined his inauguration to be.

    We may not be able to enact impeachment until after midterms but the country needs to go absolutely batshit!!! And immediately.

  9. NW Luna says:

    Oh those blacks “muddling” POTUS*’s message. Trump always lies, you bigoted reporter.

    The black unemployment rate spiked in January, muddling Trump’s message

  10. NW Luna says: