Sunday Reads: 3 Mexican Countries

 

Ugh….and that isn’t a joke, or the Onion…

 

Seriously…it was actually on Fox News, as tweeted by editor in chief of Politico:

Check out some of the replies to that tweet. Some are very funny.

I am pretty sure this has been discussed:

 

(I still have my card in my wallet too.)

 

Fucking disgusting.

Under the bridge: migrants held in El Paso tell of dust, cold and hunger | US news | The Guardian

Migrants are held for processing under the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso.

For three days and nights, Maria and her 14-year-old son were penned behind barbed wire, under a bridge in El Paso. Cold, hungry, surrounded by sick and crying babies and with only the stony ground for a bed, her first experience of America was not as she had imagined.

“I came here to work and get a better future for my family,” she said. “I never thought I would go through this.”

Maria (who is from Guatemala and who requested the Guardian not use her real name) and her son are among hundreds of Central American migrants who have been detained by US immigration agents in an area of dirt under the Paso del Norte bridge. The full brutality of the conditions in this makeshift prison-cum-shelter is only now starting to emerge.

Reporters are being kept away from the area under the bridge, which connects El Paso with Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. But migrants who have been held there, some for hours, others like Maria for several days, have begun to tell their stories.

El Paso Migrant Holding Pen ‘Looks Like a Concentration Camp’ Says Women’s March Spokesperson

As immigration advocates sound the alarm over “inhumane” conditions for asylum seekers who have been forced to wait under an overpass outside a Border Patrol station in El Paso, Texas, some activists have started to draw comparisons between the holding site and “concentration camps.”

Commenting on photos showing hundreds of predominantly Central American asylum seekers, including many families, being forced to wait under an overpass in El Paso for their asylum claims to be processed, Women’s March director of communications and digital outreach Sophie Ellman-Golan said on Twitter that the site “looks like a concentration camp.”

 

 

Who knew you could get a succulent ass for only $6.99!

 

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Congress Must Stop The “Cover-Up General” Bill Barr

Hillary and Bill with Socks on the White House lawn

Good Morning!!

Some folks are beginning to catch on to the “Cover-Up General” Bill Barr. I’ve been writing about this for the past couple of weeks. Barr did what even Jeff Sessions wasn’t corrupt enough to do. He shut down the Russia investigation and now he’s stalling for time in order to keep the American people from learning what Robert Mueller found about Donald Trump, his crime family, and his evil goons.

Barr knows how to shut down an investigation and cover up the results. Way back in 1992, The New York Times’s William Safire raged in column after column against Barr’s cover-up of the Iraq-gate scandal, but Barr won in the end by getting George H.W. Bush to pardon the top conspirators.

Audrey Hepburn with Paris 1957

Read a recap of the scandal and Barr’s victory in The Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 1992: Iraqgate–A Case Study of a Big Story With Little Impact. Bush had illegally armed Saddam Hussein from 1986 and 1990. He handed Hussein “the very weapons he later used against American and allied forces in the Persian Gulf War.”

Bill Barr shut down both Iran Contra and Iraqgate by shutting the investigation down, first refusing to appoint a special prosecutor for Iraqgate and then recommending the pardons of the top Iran Contra officials.

NPR, Jan. 14, 2019: William Barr Supported Pardons In An Earlier D.C. ‘Witch Hunt’: Iran-Contra.

Barr….ran the Justice Department once before, under President George H.W. Bush.

Back then, the all-consuming, years-long scandal was called Iran-Contra. On Dec. 24, 1992, it ended when Bush pardoned six people who had been caught up in it.

“The Constitution is quite clear on the powers of the president and sometimes the president has to make a very difficult call,” Bush said then. “That’s what I’ve done.”

Then-Attorney General Barr supported the president’s decision in the Iran-Contra case, which gave clemency to people who had been officials in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He had been set to go on trial to face charges about lying to Congress.

To the man who led the Iran-Contra investigation, however, the pardons represented a miscarriage of justice.

Cat Stevens

“It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office, deliberately abusing the public trust without consequences,” said Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in the case, at the time of the pardons.

Barr said later that he believed Bush had made the right decision and that he felt people in the case had been treated unfairly.

“The big ones — obviously, the Iran-Contra ones — I certainly did not oppose any of them,” Barr said as part of the Presidential Oral History Program of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.

From Bloomberg, Jan. 19, 2019:

The most significant single act of Barr’s career in the Department of Justice was to advise President George H.W. Bush to pardon six officials from Ronald Reagan’s administration, including Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, for crimes associated with the Iran-Contra affair. At the time, Barr was — you guessed it — attorney general. His recommendation gave Bush the cover he needed to issue the pardons.

And Bush needed the cover. The investigation led by independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was closing in on the president himself. Walsh had demanded that Bush turn over a campaign diary that he kept in 1986. Bush failed to do so, presumably because the diary showed he knew more about Iran-Contra than he had let on. Walsh publicly condemned Bush’s failure to produce the diary as “misconduct” by the sitting president.

Jackie and Croline Kennedy, Hyannis Port, MA 1961

Issuing the pardons killed Walsh’s investigation — and saved Bush. When the targets of the investigation were off the hook, Walsh had no leverage to continue.

Don’t take my word for it. When the pardons came, Walsh went on ABC’s “Nightline” and said that Bush had “succeeded in a sort of Saturday Night Massacre.” The comparison was intended. Walsh was saying that Bush had saved himself by effectively ending an investigation that was leading to the Oval Office — the aim that Nixon failed to accomplish when he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Leaving little to the imagination, Walsh also said at the time that he had “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.”

The architect of this pardon strategy was Barr. In an oral history interview he gave in 2001, Barr said he didn’t consult with the pardon office at his own Department of Justice, which was playing its “usual role — naysayers” against issuing pardons.

Instead, Barr said he spoke to “some seasoned professionals” at Justice. Then, “based on those discussions, I went over and told the President I thought he should not only pardon Caspar Weinberger, but while he was at it, he should pardon about five others.”

Read more of Barr’s corrupt history in this piece by Lloyd Green at The Guardian from March 25, 2019: William Barr: attorney general plays Republican spear-catcher again. From the article, some examples of Barr’s obfuscation techniques:

Doris Day

House Democrats demanded Barr appoint an independent counsel to investigate the sins of the Bush administration. They were rebuffed. In a letter to the House judiciary committee, Barr tossed around such phrases as “not a crime”, “simply not criminal in any way”, “nothing illegal”, and “far from being a crime.”

As to the separate question of whether administration officials deliberately altered commerce department documents in an effort to conceal military sales to Iraq and purposely misled Congress about Iraq policy, Barr contended the Department of Justice was up to that task.

He wrote: “These are the kinds of allegations that are routinely investigated by the Public Integrity Section and there is no conflict of interest that precluded their handling these matters in the normal course.” [….]

From the looks of things, Trump has the attorney general of his dreams. Like the supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh, Barr is a loyal conservative who comes with a Bush family seal of approval. For this president, it doesn’t get better than that.

Fortunately, this time we have more engaged House members than in 1992. Let’s hope they’ve researched Cover-Up General Barr’s history and are ready to fight back. We have to stand with Adam Schiff.

 

 

Two more relevant reads:

The Washington Post: Sally Yates: William Barr should release the full Mueller report as soon as possible.

America’s justice system is built upon one thing — truth. When witnesses give testimony, they are sworn to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The word “verdict” derives from the Latin term “veredictum,” meaning “to say the truth.” Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a public servant with impeccable integrity, was entrusted to find the truth regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election and has spoken through a comprehensive report that details the facts that he uncovered.

Christina Ricci

Yet a week after Mueller issued his report, we don’t know those facts and have only been provided with Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s estimated 400-page report. It is time for the American people to hear the whole truth. We need to see the report itself.

First, as the attorney general’s letter to Congress notes, the Mueller report “outlines the Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts.” Congress has a solemn responsibility to protect our democracy. Without access to the full factual record of what the special counsel uncovered, it cannot fulfill that mandate. As you read this, the Russian government is undoubtedly hard at work to undermine our next election. Each day that passes without Congress having access to the full Mueller report is a day that Congress is prevented from doing its job of keeping our elections free from Russian espionage efforts.

Second, Barr’s letter leaves important questions unanswered concerning what then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates knew about Russian interference, and how they responded to Russian overtures to assist the campaign. While Barr’s letter states that the investigation did not establish that the campaign reached an agreement with the Russian government to take actions to impact the election in Trump’s favor, it reveals that the campaign did field “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” Yet President Trump and others have repeatedly claimed that they had no contact with Russians, or knowledge that Russians were acting to assist his campaign.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

David Corn at Mother Jones: Here’s the Real Trump-Russia Hoax.

Elvis Presley

Two fundamental facts were established long before Mueller completed his investigation. First, the Russians attacked an American election in order to sow chaos, hurt Hillary Clinton, and help Donald Trump. Second, Trump and his top advisers during the campaign repeatedly denied this attack was underway, echoing and amplifying Moscow disinformation (the false claim that Russia was not attacking). Whether or not the Trumpers were directly in cahoots with the Russian government, they ran interference for Vladimir Putin’s assault on the United States, and they even did so after the intelligence community had briefed Trump on Russia’s culpability.

So to determine if the Barr triumphalists are acting in good faith, you need only ask them a simple question: do you accept these basic facts and acknowledge the profound seriousness of each one?

The Russian attack on the 2016 election was an attempt to subvert the foundation of American society: the democratic process. How can Americans have faith in their government, if elections are undermined by secret schemers, including a foreign government? It is certainly arguable that the Russian intervention—particularly the stealing and drip-drip-drip dumping of the John Podesta emails across the final four weeks of the election—was one of several decisive factors in a contest that had a narrow and tight finish. Consequently, there is a strong case that Moscow helped shift the course of US history by contributing to the election of Trump….

Jimmy Stewart, with Piewackit from Bell Book and Candle

During the campaign and afterward, some Trump backers and some critics on the left, including columnist and media scold Glenn Greenwald, questioned whether the Russians indeed engaged in such skulduggery. (The Nation, where I once worked, published an articlepromoting a report that claimed the Russians did not hack the Democratic National Committee—and then had to backtrack when that report turned out to be bunk.)

For many of these scandal skeptics, it hasn’t seemed to matter that the charge against Moscow has been publicly confirmed by the Obama administration, the US intelligence community (which concluded that Putin’s operation intended to help Trump), both Republicans and Democrats on the congressional intelligence committees, and Robert Mueller, who indicted a mess of Russians for participating in this covert operation. True, there often is cause to question officialdom and government sources. Yet anyone citing the Mueller report, as it is narrowly capsulized by Barr, must also accept his key finding: Russia attacked the United States and intervened in the election. (They must also accept that, as the Barr letter disclosed, Mueller found evidence suggesting Trump obstructed justice but did not reach a final judgment on this question.)

That’s it for me. What else is happening? What stories have you been following?


Friday Reads: Toddler Talk Time with Little Trumpy Dumpkins

It’s Friday!

Can we just find a good way to tell all those Republican Cavemen to stop their crusade against the rest of us?  And then, can we ask them to send their Child of Perpetual Grievance, Greed and Ignorance back to the nursery for a forever nap?  I’m down with giving a Mouse a cookie, but what happens when you give a toddler a microphone?  From The Hill:  “Trump says Great Lakes have ‘record deepness’

President Trump said the Great Lakes have “record deepness” during an unusual moment in his boisterous rally Thursday night in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Trump often likes to use hyperbole to describe the places he visits, and in this case it led him to make a statement in the Great Lakes State that left some people scratching their heads.

“I support the Great Lakes. Always have,” Trump said during his speech. “They’re beautiful. They’re big. Very deep. Record deepness.”

While the Great Lakes are big and many would describe them as beautiful, they are not among the deepest lakes in the United States, let alone the world.

The deepest lake in the country is Crater Lake, a volcanic crater in southern Oregon with the deepest measured depth of 1,949 feet, according to Geology.com.

Lake Superior is the Great Lake with the largest surface area in the U.S. at 31,700 miles. Its maximum depth is 1,332 feet, but it doesn’t make the record books.

Trump’s comments were getting some chuckles on Twitter the morning after.

A parody Twitter account with the name “Lake Superior” tweeted: “I hate to admit this, but … no, not record deepness. Not in the world or in the United States.”

 

This week has pulled out all the stops to demonstrate just how miserable the next two years of relentless campaigning and rallying will be for us all.  I am going to need elephant tranquilizers just to sleep at night at this rate.  Susan Glasser–writing for The New Yorker–characterizes him thusly “Our President of the Perpetual Grievance”.  That’s pretty much what his cult is like too. They’re a bunch of whiny ass white titty babies who want it all and want it now.

What’s been remarkable, this week, is how much Trump triumphant has sounded like Trump at every other point in his Presidency: angry and victimized; undisciplined and often incoherent; predictable in his unpredictability; vain and insecure; prone to lies, exaggeration, and to undercutting even those who seek to serve him. Sure, he appears relieved, but the Barr letter, with its welcome news for Trump, did not come with magic fairy dust that could suddenly transform the seventy-two-year-old President into someone else entirely. The new Time cover shows Trump under an umbrella, smiling in the rain, with the headline “The Trump Reboot,” but that misses the point. There is no reboot, no Trump 2.0—nor will there be. Even without the existential peril to his Presidency that Mueller posed, Trump is still Trump, the same as he ever was.

Before his rally on Thursday, Trump had made eight public appearances after Barr released his summary of Mueller’s findings, most of them short responses to shouted questions from reporters and one long interview with his favorite Fox News host, Sean Hannity. I went back and listened to all of them. There was no new Trump, no moving on. What was striking was how little celebration there was from the President, although he did talk a few times about the “beautiful” outcome. The same was true for Trump’s always-active Twitter feed, which combined the usual fevered mix of insta-punditry, peremptory demands(The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries must “increase the flow of Oil… Thank you!”), and score-settling (“the Fake News Media is going Crazy!”) that has become familiar, if no more Presidential, by now. The main news of Trump’s post-Mueller week, in fact, was the undercutting of his own party, another Trump trademark, as his Administration decided to support a court ruling that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Trump declared a new slogan for Republicans as “the Party of great health care,” although G.O.P. leaders on Capitol Hill view the issue as a political loser that cost the Party control of the House last fall.

Trump appears to have been freed from the fear of impeachment and removal from office, but he remains the public figure he has always been: a weird combination of perpetual victim and perpetual bully, whose one constant is to remain on the attack. In case the President’s plan wasn’t already abundantly clear, on Thursday morning he tweeted out a Fox commentary segment: “Now is the time for President Trump to Counter Punch.” And counterpunch he did. The closest thing to an overture to Democrats in his rally on Thursday night was when he called on the Party “to decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with this ridiculous bullshit . . . or whether they will apologize to the American people” and work with Trump on priorities like fixing “broken trade deals” and building a wall on the southern border. As political overtures go, it wasn’t much of one.

More Toddler Talk with Trump and his nutty Fox Pal Sean Ham-it-up   (From Mary Papenfuss at HuffPo.)  “Trump To Sean Hannity: Wind Energy Won’t Work Because Wind ‘Only Blows Sometimes’.  Hey, he’s a very stable genius, you know.

Wind power won’t work because wind “only blows sometimes,” he explained to Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Trump also insisted Thursday evening at a rally in Michigan that he “knows a lot about wind. If it doesn’t blow, you can forget about television for that night,” he said.

Wind energy can be stored in a variety of ways, including in something called batteries. Most power grids combine energy provided by different sources — as the Trump administration’s own Energy Department explains on its website for anyone who cares to look. “The wind does not always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine,” the site helpfully notes. Yet the power grid “can accommodate large penetrations of variable renewable power without sacrificing reliability.”

Trump shared his energy insights during a rambling, often repeated point that he is the toughest president ever on Russia. That apparently has resulted in a boost in U.S. fossil fuel use and sales, he said in the Wednesday phone interview with Hannity.

Nate Beeler / Columbus Dispatch

I Like to sing a little song when he does shit like this … it goes like this.

Little Trumpy Dumpkins

Head just like a Pumpkin

and his little wiener

neener neener neener

Because, damn the man brings out the pre-schooler in me some times.  It’s got more verses but I’ll spare you.

As for that doing well with women thing ….  Not gonna happen… wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.  Not gonna happen with GLBT community and certainly not the POC.  Not now. Not two years from now. Not EVER.

From NPR: “Nominee For No. 3 At Justice Department Withdraws After Backlash From GOP Senators.”

 

Two sources told NPR that the attorney general got into a “shouting match” with Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, a key figure in opposing Liu’s bid. A spokeswoman for Barr declined comment on the heated conversation with a lawmaker from his own political party. For his part, Barr issued a statement filled with praise for Liu and insisting, “We will all benefit from her universally-regarded expertise and dedication to public service” in her role as an adviser to him.

Four lawyers familiar with the matter said the stumbling block for Liu was a broader concern about her conservatism — specifically, her stance on women’s reproductive rights. Interest groups had begun drafting letters to senators about their fears that Liu would not support restrictions on abortion. Another key factor: Earlier in her career, Liu had an affiliation with the National Association of Women Lawyers, which sent a letter opposing the nomination of Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Philip Alito, a son of the justice, works for the antitrust subcommittee in the Senate, a subcommittee that is chaired by Lee.

And of course, Trumpy Dumpkins and his little playmates were all for equal wage for equal work for women right? From ABC News “House Democrats pass equal pay for equal work act. Women earn just 80 cents to the dollar a man makes for the same work.”

Ten years after President Barack Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, House Democrats voted Wednesday to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act, delivering one of the cornerstone pieces of their “For the People” agenda to the Republican-led Senate.

The vote passed 242-187, primarily down partisan lines, as the full Democratic caucus voted in favor of the bill and seven Republicans crossed the aisle to support it.

Can’t wait until the Senate passes it and the stable genius-who thinks he’s got the women’s votes–signs it!  Lies Lies and more lies!  Every Trump rally and interview is Lyingpalooza.

 

Anyway, you can read and listen to more at the links. Frankly, my old heart and brain can’t take any more..  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads: How Many Pages Are In the Mysterious Mueller Report? The Latest from Crazy Town

“Barr issues his sticky-note summary of the Mueller report” –Ann Telnaes

Washington DC is Crazy Town, and an insane old man is in charge. That’s the simple truth.

Trump installed a partisan old man with a history of leading government cover-ups as Attorney General, and the hand-picked AG promptly shut down the Russia investigation and issued a nonsensical 3-1/2 page summary of a report that is at least hundreds of pages long.

The stenographers in the media bought the bogus summary hook, line, and sinker; and now wannabe dictator Trump is ranting about getting revenge on anyone who dares to question his author-i-tay!

Raw Story: Trump manically launches a barrage of unhinged attacks in all directions over the past 12 hours.

President Donald Trump has not been calmed by Attorney General Barr’s generous public interpretation of the Mueller report. Instead, the Commander-in-Chief appears to be spiraling even further into madness.

Over the past 12 hours – from 9 PM Wednesday through 9 AM Thursday – the President has attacked the press as having “ZERO credibility or respect,” while promising he has a “secret” on them.

He has endorsed a two-minute Fox News diatribe urging Trump to “counterpunch” against the media – featuring images of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews. And he has also attacked NBC News, MSNBC, and CNN as “Fake News,” and claimed ratings for MSNBC an CNN “have gone down by as much as 50%.”

He has falsely claimed that NBC News somehow deceptively edited his now-infamous comments to anchor Lester Holt that he fired FBI Director Jim Comey over “this Russia thing.”

He has threatened to “close the Southern Border!” because, he claims, “Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country.”

He has called the Mueller investigation, which was created by officials he personally appointed, “an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover,” suggesting it was a coup.

Insider: Trump dropped an ominous hint that a revenge campaign over Mueller could spread to the FBI and intelligence officials.

President Donald Trump, in his first lengthy one-on-one interview since the special counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report on Russian election interference, denounced those who initiated the investigation, saying, “Hopefully, they won’t get away with it.”

Speaking with the Fox News host Sean Hannity, a friend who advocates Trump’s positions on the air, the president renewed his attacks on intelligence officials, Democrats, and what he called FBI “dirty cops” whom he has long accused of running a “witch hunt” against his administration.

After criticizing the amount spent on the investigation, Trump said: “How did it start? You had dirty cops. You had people that are about FBI folks.”

He remarked that “at the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly,” adding, “And what they did to our country was a terrible, terrible thing.”

The president went on to express his hope there would be payback for FBI officials who in 2016 began investigating contact between Russians and Trump campaign officials, an investigation that was handed over to Mueller in 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey….

“That was a disgrace and an embarrassment our country, that they were allowed to get away with this. Hopefully, they won’t get away with it.”

Read more insanity at the Insider link.

Hilariously, AG Bill Barr refuses to tell anyone how many pages are in the “Mueller Report,” so now the media is scrambling to find out.

Politico: Nadler ‘disturbed’ that Barr won’t commit to providing full Mueller report.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr would not commit to turning over special counsel Robert Mueller’s entire report on Russian links to the Trump campaign — and would almost certainly miss an April 2 deadline set by House Democrats.

“I’m very disturbed by that,” Nadler told reporters at the Capitol….

Nadler, who described his exchange with Barr in a 10-minute phone call Wednesday afternoon, said the attorney general revealed to him the length of Mueller’s report — which Nadler described as “very substantial.” But Nadler declined to disclose its length, saying he wasn’t explicitly authorized to disclose it. Pressed on whether he considered “very substantial” to be fewer than 1,000 pages, Nadler said, “I would think so.”

Judge Napolitano of Fox News claims the report is 700 pages long. The Daily Beast reports:

“We saw on Sunday a four-page summary of a 700-page report,” the Fox analyst said. “The 700-page report is a summary of two million pages of documents, of raw evidence.”

He continued: “In the 700-page summary of the two million pages of raw evidence, there is undoubtedly some evidence of a conspiracy and some evidence of obstruction of justice, just not enough evidence—I’m thinking the way I believe Congressman Schiff is thinking—according to Attorney General Barr, not enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard.”

Napolitano went on to note that if “there were no evidence of conspiracy and no evidence of obstruction, the attorney general would have told us so,” adding that Barr didn’t, so “there is something there” that Democrats and Trump opponents want to see. And they’ll have a “field day” with it.

Napolitano didn’t explain how he found out the page length of the report.

The New York Times claims another page length: Mueller Report Exceeds 300 Pages, Raising Questions About Four-Page Summary.

The still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, last week was more than 300 pages long, according to American officials with knowledge of it, a length that raises new questions about Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary.

Mr. Barr wrote to Congress on Sunday offering what he called the “principal conclusions” of the report — including that Mr. Mueller had not found evidence that the Trump campaign took part in a conspiracy to undermine the election. But he had notably declined to publicly disclose its length.

The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mr. Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress….

The American officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss details of the report, titled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.”

The Justice Department has continued to decline to publicly give an official page number, though a senior Justice Department official told reporters on the day it was received that the report was “comprehensive.”

LOL! Will we ever learn how long the report is, much less find out what’s in it? Stay tuned to the Crazy Town news.

On Twitter this morning, the mocking hashtag #BillBarrLetters was trending. Some examples:

In order to help their cult-leader get his revenge, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are demanding that Chairman Adam Schiff resign. CNN:

The nine Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have signed a letter calling on House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to resign as chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican who led the panel’s Russia investigation, said Thursday.

Conaway pointed to the release of the special counsel’s summary on Sunday to accuse Schiff, a California Democrat, of having “abused your position to knowingly promote false information.”

“Your actions both past and present are incompatible with your duty as chairman,” Conaway said at the beginning of a public committee hearing on Russian money laundering, reading from the letter. “We have no faith in your ability to discharge duties.”

The call from the Republicans on the committee for Schiff to step down escalate the Republican attacks on Schiff, who has come under fire for his claims of collusion after Attorney General Bill Barr’s letter to Congress quoted special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as saying it “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Trump tweeted on Thursday morning that Schiff should resign from Congress.

That’s pretty rich, considering the crazy antics of former chairman Devin Nunes, who saw his role as spy for the White House.

C-Span tweeted this speech by Schiff just now. He spoke after Republicans demanded his resignation. The speech is well worth watching.

And that ends today’s dispatch from Crazy Town on the Potomic.

 


Wednesday Reads: Conveyance of Jello

Ra travels through the underworld.

I thought I was ready to come back, but I’m not…I feel myself going through the motions, driving and waking up and so forth. But there is a blandness about it, like the packs of vanilla Jello pudding that overwhelms the pantry, pudding that was meant for my mom…

You see she was unable to swallow pills, because of the varices veins in her esophagus…she took her medicine on a conveyance of Jello. My dad, thinking she would be around longer than a week after being put on hospice, purchased so many packages of Jello. So many.

It is all there, no one will eat it.

It remains there.

He will not get rid of the fucking Jello.

And I see it. Like I see everything, for the first time…in my life, without you Mama. And I cannot face this. I’m not ready.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m at my wits end, Sky Dancers. Is it just me or has this country gone completely bonkers? We still haven’t seen the Mueller report, and yet the news media is reporting about it as if they have read the whole thing. Why are members of the media cheering for a man who calls them “the enemy of the people?”

I’m very close to being convinced that the Russia investigation was prematurely shut down. And the Republicans may have been forewarned, because they are shouting down anyone who dares to ask to see the actual full report. Maybe I’m just being paranoid but that’s what I think.

The time has come for mass protests.

This is from DailyKos, because it’s difficult to find anything sensible in the mainstream media right now: Trump uses the Barr letter to defend attacks on media and demands that Democrats be silenced.

No one outside the Department of Justice has seen the Mueller report. Neither Congress nor the public has seen even one full sentence of the Mueller report. All that’s been seen is a summary created by Attorney General William Barr, who, in just over a day, not only turned the report into less than four pages, but took time out to personally absolve Donald Trump of obstruction.

But Trump and Republicans are certainly trying to get the most out of the Barr letter. And that includes trying to smash the First Amendment by silencing critics, demonizing the media, and threatening reporters who provide the facts. Not only is Trump continuing to deploy his violent Stalinist “enemy of the people” rhetoric in describing the media, but Trump’s campaign has actually sent a letter to television stations telling them to not book Democratic politicians as guests because they made statements about Trump’s collusion with Russia. That letter accuses politicians from Adam Schiff to Eric Swalwell of making “outrageous claims” and argues they shouldn’t be allowed on the air.

What the letter doesn’t say is that everything in the quotes included as evidence of these outrageous statements remains absolutely true. Not one of these things is changed by the letter that Barr issued: Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including using military forces to conduct operations that broke into servers owned by U.S. citizens and stealing private emails. The Trump campaign, and Donald Trump personally, were aware that this action had taken place even before it was known to authorities. Trump personally, along with his campaign, welcomed the Russian interference and invited more. Members of Trump’s staff met with Russian officials and operatives over 100 times and repeatedly lied about those meetings to the public, the media, the Congress, and investigators. When his son was caught lying about meeting with Russian operatives at the campaign headquarters in Trump Tower, Donald Trump personally dictated a cover letter from Air Force One that provided a false narrative to mislead the press and investigators. Trump’s campaign chair, deputy campaign chair, national security adviser, and campaign foreign policy adviser were all convicted of felonies alongside the dozens of Russian operatives charged by the investigation.

If the media really wants to improve its on-air accuracy, there’s one step it could take that would bring immediate and enormous improvements: It could stop carrying the man who lied knowingly and openly over 8,000 times in two years. And before the White House pounds on the Barr summary of the Mueller report as a basis to attack anyone, it might think about attacking the man who called that investigation “biased” and “conflicted” and “illegal” and “a hoax” and “a witch hunt” not just dozens, but hundreds of times.

Read more at the link above.

The Washington Post: GOP congressman quotes Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to slam Trump’s adversaries as liars.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took to the House floor on Monday to portray President Trump’s detractors as Nazis but ended up slurring them using an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory drawn verbatim from Adolf Hitler’s writings.

It’s 2019, and the Führer’s magnum opus, “Mein Kampf,” has become a playbook for political combat in Congress, at the very moment that Trump is calling the Democrats “anti-Jewish. ”

Brooks, a five-term Republican, accused Democrats and members of the media of propagating a “big lie” about collusion. The expression was first coined by Hitler to describe how Jews used their “unqualified capacity for falsehood” to blame a top German military commander for the country’s losses in World War I. A lie could be so big, Hitler claimed, that it perversely defied disbelief.

It was unclear if Brooks grasped that by leveling charges of the “big lie,” he had inverted his own analogy, making Democrats the equivalent of interwar German and Austrian Jews. He set out to compare the other side to fascists, but he was the one employing a fascist smear — one that, ironically, came to define Nazi propaganda.

“America can either learn from history or be doomed to repeat it,” Brooks warned.

A spokesman for the congressman didn’t return a query from The Washington Post inviting him to elaborate on his analysis.

Natasha Bertrand is a voice of sanity in the wilderness: The Critical Part of Mueller’s Report That Barr Didn’t Mention.

Mueller’s full report has not been made available to the public yet, so it’s not clear whether it sets forth everything the special counsel’s office learned over the course of its nearly two-year investigation—including findings about conduct that was perhaps objectionable but not criminal—or whether it is more tailored and explains only Mueller’s prosecution and declination decisions. But national-security and intelligence experts tell me that Mueller’s decision not to charge Trump or his campaign team with a conspiracy is far from dispositive, and that the underlying evidence the special counsel amassed over two years could prove as useful as a conspiracy charge to understanding the full scope of Russia’s election interference in 2016.

“As described by Barr, at least, Mueller’s report was very focused on criminal-law standards and processes,” said David Kris, a founder of Culper Partners, who served as the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division under former President Barack Obama. “We won’t know for sure if that is the case, and if it is the case, why Mueller confined himself in that way, until we see the full report.” Kris noted, however, that “there is no question that a counterintelligence investigation would have a wider aperture than a strict criminal inquiry as applied here, and would be concerned, for example, with the motivations and any sub-criminal misconduct of the principal actors.”

A counterintelligence probe, he added, would ask more than whether the evidence collected is sufficient to obtain a criminal conviction—it could provide necessary information to the public about why the president is making certain policy decisions. “The American people rightly should expect more from their public servants than merely avoiding criminal liability,” Kris said.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee said in a statement on Monday that in light of Barr’s memo “and our need to understand Special Counsel Mueller’s areas of inquiry and evidence his office uncovered, we are working in parallel with other Committees to bring in senior officials from the DOJ, FBI and SCO to ensure that our Committee is fully and currently informed about the SCO’s investigation, including all counterintelligence information.”

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

Meanwhile, as the mainstream media allows itself to be absorbed into the Trump cult, the “president” is working overtime to inflict as much damage on the American people as he possibly can. Some cases in point:

Trump administration asks court to completely invalidate Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

In a significant shift, the Justice Department now says that it backs a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act, the signature Obama-era health law.

It presented its position in a legal filing Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge in Texas ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power” and further found that the remaining portions of the law are void. He based his judgment on changes to the nation’s tax laws made by congressional Republicans in 2017.

At first, the Trump administration had not gone as far, arguing in a brief last June that the penalty for not buying insurance was legally distinct from other provisions of the law, which could still stand. Justice Department officials said there were grounds only to strike down the law’s consumer protections, including those for people with preexisting health conditions.

But in the new filing, signed by three Justice Department attorneys, the administration said that the decision of U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor should be affirmed and the entirety of the ACA should be invalidated.

The Washington Post: Puerto Rico faces food-stamp crisis as Trump privately vents about federal aid to Hurricane Maria-battered island.

The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March as it focused on other issues before leaving for a week-long recess. Federal lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has derided the extra aid as unnecessary.

Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials.

And while Congress may address this issue soon, the lapse underscores the broader vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as key parts of its safety net, to the whims of an increasingly hostile federal government with which it has feuded over key priorities.

Puerto Rico will again need the federal government’s help to stave off drastic cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor and disabled, as well as for the disbursement of billions in hurricane relief aid that has not yet been turned over to the island.

Trump wants to cut off all assistance to Puerto Rico. People are going to die.

After initially vowing to reject the food-stamp funding, President Trump has agreed to the emergency request to help Senate Republicans pass a broader disaster-relief package, which may be taken up for a vote this week.

But at an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 22, Trump asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the president’s private remarks.

The meeting — an afternoon session focused on Department of Housing and Urban Development grants — ended abruptly, and Trump has continued to ask aides how much money the island will get. Then, Trump said he wanted the money only to fortify the electric grid there.

Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island.

This man is a monster.

I’m sorry this isn’t much of a post. This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: Has Trump finally found his Roy Cohn?

Our next attorney general: February 9, 2019

It’s Monday and we’re headed towards April Fool’s Day.

Or did that happen yesterday afternoon when it became pretty obvious that a Quid Pro Quo was delivered to Congress by an Attorney General who did pretty much what he was hired to do.  Congress–Our Congress–and we the people have to see the full report of the Mueller investigation. We must determine exactly what is meant by the President wasn’t exonerated and hey, I’ve decided noot no to prosecute but just make it all go away as much as possible because I believe in an imperial presidency and I did this before and got away with it.  So come get it if you can.

I wasn’t exactly expecting a smoking gun from Mueller.  I was, however, expecting a guy that wrote a diatribe on how the entire exercise was a witch hunt and then submitted it to the President for a spot back on the A team was  going to do exactly what he was hired to do. He’s providing cover at whatever the cost for a law ignoring  monster of a man.

Now, we wait for Congress and the Courts to shake it all out of Barr.

Here’s how Neil Katayal sees. it.   You may recall that Katayal drafted the special counsel regulations under which Robert Mueller was appointed.

But the critical part of the letter is that it now creates a whole new mess. After laying out the scope of the investigation and noting that Mr. Mueller’s report does not offer any legal recommendations, Mr. Barr declares that it therefore “leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.” He then concludes the president did not obstruct justice when he fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey.

Such a conclusion would be momentous in any event. But to do so within 48 hours of receiving the report (which pointedly did not reach that conclusion) should be deeply concerning to every American.

The special counsel regulations were written to provide the public with confidence that justice was done. It is impossible for the public to reach that determination without knowing two things. First, what did the Mueller report conclude, and what was the evidence on obstruction of justice? And second, how could Mr. Barr have reached his conclusion so quickly?

Mr. Barr’s letter raises far more questions than it answers, both on the facts and the law.

His letter says Mr. Mueller set “out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the special counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the president’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.” Yet we don’t know what those “difficult issues” were, because Mr. Barr doesn’t say, or why Mr. Mueller, after deciding not to charge on conspiracy, let Mr. Barr make the decision on obstruction.

On the facts, Mr. Barr says that the government would need to prove that Mr. Trump acted with “corrupt intent” and there were no such actions. But how would Mr. Barr know? Did he even attempt to interview Mr. Trump about his intentions?

What kind of prosecutor would make a decision about someone’s intent without even trying to talk to him? Particularly in light of Mr. Mueller’s pointed statement that his report does not “exonerate” Mr. Trump. Mr. Mueller didn’t have to say anything like that. He did so for a reason. And that reason may well be that there is troubling evidence in the substantial record that he compiled.

William Saletan–at Salon–has a take that’s worth considering. “Bill Barr’s Weasel Words. All the ways the attorney general is spinning the Mueller report to protect Trump.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report on the Russia investigation, and Republicans are gloating. They claim a four-page letterfrom Attorney General William Barr, purporting to summarize the report, exonerates President Donald Trump. They’re wrong. The letter says the Justice Department won’t prosecute Trump, but it reaches that conclusion by tailoring legal standards to protect the president. Here’s a list of Barr’s weasel words and what they’re hiding.

“The Russian government.” The letter quotes a sentence from Mueller’s report. In that sentence, Mueller says his investigation didn’t prove that members of the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The sentence specifies Russia’s government. It says nothing about coordination with other Russians. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, gave campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian associate who has been linked to Russian intelligence. Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner met secretly in Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected lawyer. But neither Kilimnik nor Veselnitskaya is part of the Russian government. They seem to be excluded from Barr’s analysis.

223138Read the entire list of Weasel Words.  Then, remember the last time Barr basically did the same kind of thing George HW Bush and Iran Contra.  Why wouldn’t he do it again especially since he was out writing about it for Trump and all to see over the past two years?  Remember all those pardons?

Back then, the all-consuming, years-long scandal was called Iran-Contra. On Dec. 24, 1992, it ended when Bush pardoned six peoplewho had been caught up in it.

“The Constitution is quite clear on the powers of the president and sometimes the president has to make a very difficult call,” Bush said then. “That’s what I’ve done.”

Then-Attorney General Barr supported the president’s decision in the Iran-Contra case, which gave clemency to people who had been officials in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He had been set to go on trial to face charges about lying to Congress.

To the man who led the Iran-Contra investigation, however, the pardons represented a miscarriage of justice.

“It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office, deliberately abusing the public trust without consequences,” said Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in the case, at the time of the pardons.

Barr said later that he believed Bush had made the right decision and that he felt people in the case had been treated unfairly.

“The big ones — obviously, the Iran-Contra ones — I certainly did not oppose any of them,” Barr said as part of the Presidential Oral History Program of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.

Well, he’s has certainly handed a reprieve-at the very least- to a very big one at the moment.

Marcy Wheelers’s conclusions at The New Republic are worth reading.  This headline even sums it up nicely.  “Yes, Trump Obstructed Justice. And William Barr Is Helping Him Cover It Up. The attorney general’s take on the Mueller report goes through contortions to avoid charging the president with a crime.”

It is widely believed that Barr had already categorically ruled out charging a president with obstruction. In a June 2018 memo, shared with Trump’s lawyer before his nomination, Barr argued that the theory of obstruction he believed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be adopting would not be proper. But in that very same memo—on the very first page!—Barr conceded, “Obviously, the President … can commit obstruction in [a] classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function.” Barr envisioned that if a president “suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony … then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.”

That’s important, because we know that Trump has been involved in getting his aides to lie. His own lawyer, Jay Sekulow, reportedly edited the prepared statement Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen gave to Congress about an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen goes to prison in May, in part, for telling lies that Sekulow reviewed.

And Trump has repeatedly dangled pardons to subordinates under investigation, reportedly including former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, former campaign chair Paul Manafort, and Cohen. Indeed, in a hearing in February, Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann argued that Manafort lied about the details of sharing Trump campaign polling data with the Russian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik on August 2, 2016—knowing that the data would be passed on to others including other Russians—specifically to “augment his chances for a pardon.”

Ah Manafort, does he get his pardon now that the President and his enablers are screaming it’s an exoneration even though it really wasnt?
Well, turn the TV news on if you dare.  I’m just going to grade for awhile and hope there’s a plan some where to end this nightmare.