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.

47 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      Great post … I also don’t think any of these moves actually help them in the next election because they’re still doing things that aren’t in the interest of most people plus the economy is showing signs of recession. This move by the Dems is on the issue that every one cares about. I’m tired of counting the days to Medicare and then wondering if they’ll gut it by the time I get there … I want some one to fix healthcare not blow it up

      • NW Luna says:

        I also am worried if there’ll be anything left of Medicare by the time I’m eligible. I can’t keep working forever.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      It turns out the charges against Smollett were dropped in return for community service and the bond he paid. The charges against him were legit.

  5. Delphyne49 says:

    It’s a great post, BB – what is happening is a horror show on an out of control and speeding train careening down the Rocky Mountains…

  6. Sweet Sue says:

    Good post, BB. I’m sorry I can’t help lift your spirits-I got nothing.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      • Joanelle says:

        Telling us we can’t afford the Affordable care act; we certainly can! What we can’t afford is full salaries for life for senators and representatives. They need to go on a normal pension like those lucky middle class employees who still have pensions left.

        They have gobbled up all of our money for themselves instead of using it to serve their constituents – what it was meant for.

        It’s time to blow the whistle on those thieves and get rid of the Trmp syndicate.

        • NW Luna says:

          The DOJ is supposed to enforce the existing law — that means enforcing the ACA. But now they want to undo existing law.

  8. dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Very cute. Thanks.

      Did anyone watch the video I put up at the top? I hope you will, because it’s adorable.

      • Delphyne49 says:

        I did! Puffballs with short legs and tails just waddling along! So adorable!

        • bostonboomer says:

          It was so cute the way they got squeezed out and then pushed their way back in line.

          • NW Luna says:

            Yes, first one would and then another…just trot a little faster to catch up, push a nose between two sibs, and trot even faster till all the noses are lined up again. Very cute!

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. RonStill4Hills says:

    I have been a bit despondent because the degree to which the fix is in for rich white boys is almost overwhelming.

    And it is not like I’ve got beef with rich white boys, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are personal heroes of mine.

    But bottom line is that the pity party is over.

    Basically we thought Mueller was providing us with transportation, turns out it is actually just a box of moped parts and a maintenance manual.

    If we want transportation we are going to have to build this motherf***er ourselves.

    But what choice do we have? We have places to go.

    Build So let’s build the obstruction case brick by brick and impeach this orange piece of shit.

    The pronouncements of William Barr mean less than nothing.

    We cannot allow these evil bastards to win.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      But they have “won”. The courts, the DOJ, Barr himself all belong to Trump. The Senate is GOP majority and nothing of substance will come from that body as long as McConnell is calling the shots. Trump owns him as well.

      Fox will continue to blare “no collusion” until the majority of us begin to believe it which then proves that lies overcome truth with whoever has the biggest, loudest blow horn.

      Like it or not we have lost. Lost to a corrupt system we cannot control or ever hope to join.

      Trump is emboldened ever more so now that he has been “absolved” by a tribal lackey who pushed his way forward by flattery in saying what Trump was waiting to hear.

      Nothing so far has stopped Trump from doing and saying whatever he wants. There is now no barrier in place to rein him in. The system itself has betrayed us. There is little to nothing we can do.

      We are left looking into the void. There is nothing there.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        All you say is true, but we have to attack.

        We are the proverbial army with no place to retreat to, our ships are all burned..

        It is fight or die.

        • quixote says:

          “turns out it is actually just a box of moped parts and a maintenance manual”

          That is the best summary I’ve seen so far! That’s exactly right.

          It’s not nothing, but, it’s so far from proportional to the disaster that it makes me think of all my favorite sf stories where the Evil Vogons are going to destroy everything and all we’ve got is the plucky kids building a spaceship in the back yard.

          In the stories, the kids win. And in reality, we don’t live like the ancient Assyrians. We have a Bill of Rights. So the stories seem to be true!

          Onward. Armed with monkeywrenches.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        We expected an indictment or close to it, but what we got was a do it yourself kit.

        DIY it is.

        I depressed, but now I am just pissed off.

        We cannot let Barr bluff us into giving up. .

        • NW Luna says:

          You said it! We must keep on keeping on. Giving up is what they want. We’ve got to keep doing whatever we can.

      • dakinikat says:

        Well, Tribe sure isn’t going to cheer us up!


        Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe: Forget Mueller; impeachment won’t save America
        Expert on the Constitution says we now face “enormous peril,” doubts Trump will ever leave office voluntarily

        Is Donald Trump’s election and presidency a failure of the American people? Or is this the fault of the media and the political elites?

        I think it’s everyone’s fault. Ben Franklin gave that famous, perhaps apocryphal response to the woman who asked him, “What have you given us?” He said, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” It clearly required the people to become engaged and to remain engaged. Too many people are not voting. Too many people are not participating in civic life. Too many people have basically checked out into their own social media silos. This has all created a petri dish in which a terrible virus could grow.

        That virus turns out to have the name Donald J. Trump. And I am not among those who think he is only a symptom, not a cause. Trump has certainly contributed actively to the degeneration of the American republic. But Trump is also an expression of what we have allowed to happen. Clearly a country much more educated, much more alert, much less willing to follow the latest trends, much less willing to drink the Kool-Aid would have been more resistant to this virus. But we’ve basically not inoculated ourselves and I think we have ourselves, as a country, to blame for the very dangerous situation that we find ourselves in with Donald Trump.

        Trigger warning for Hillary Shaming !!!

        • NW Luna says:

          I explained this as Hillary Clinton being the wrong candidate at the wrong time and that she was too competent. How could her competency defeat the buffoonery of Donald Trump? It couldn’t.

          Screw them. He lays out all the forces working to tip the balance in Trump’s favor, ignores the popular vote, and then blames the election results on Hillary for being “too competent” and then later “not competent enough.” WTAF?

          I do agree we face enormous peril. It’s a nightmare.

          • quixote says:

            And a significant part of the peril is people who are misogynist enough to say Hillary was both too good and not good enough, and be so far down the rabbit hole they don’t even hear what they just said.

  11. dakinikat says:

  12. RonStill4Hills says:

    Regarding the Mein Kampf dude, Mo Brooks…sometimes projection is as telling as a confession.

    Trump doesn’t know history but Putin does.

    Putin knows very well how Hitler turned a dysfunctional democracy into a totalitarian horror show.

    Keeping the finger of blame pointed at the good guys is part and parcel of the process.

  13. NW Luna says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    They’ll probably redact the whole bloody thing. We need the entire report released.

  15. NW Luna says:

    Well, I sure need cute animal pics. This cougar sounds like it’s still a youngster.

    • lililam says:

      They are beautiful, but we have had so many close sightings that I no longer consider them cute- in real life, they are frightening and have attacked local cats and small dogs.

      • NW Luna says:

        I shouldn’t have said “cute.” I hadn’t heard recordings of them meowing before and thought it was interesting. They have less and less wild habitat each year as humans build farther out in what was undeveloped land, and so turn to domesticated animals and even humans, though the latter seems to be only when they are nearly starving. As a kid we lived in a very rural area, but that changed so much as people moved closer. Then one day my dad looked out because the dog was furiously barking — and saw a young thin cougar facing off at the old dog, only a few yards away. He loaded his hunting rifle, went out, and shot the cougar dead with a clean shot, no wounding. We’d seen cougars around before every so often. I saw one (well, the rear half of one) a couple hundred yards away when I was a child — it was vanishing into the bushes away from me, not interested in this smaller human. But now it really is a problem as they have vanishing territory.

        • lililam says:

          Yes, we have seen more since a number of fires have likely pushed them out and if is now illegal to kill them without a permit after documented livestock killings or threats to humans. Both of my sightings were very elusive and dreamlike, but that seems to be their M.O. One was walking behind the well house and one was swiftly walking through tall grasses when I took my puppy and Newfie out at twilight. Some neighbors have witnessed brazen activity toward domestic pets, although we have large herds of deer, their normal source of food.

  16. Minkoff Minx says:

    It is almost complete, the coup…the final phase will be when tRump has to leave the Presidency and he forcibly remains. My mom kept saying he would get away with it… and he is.