Monday Reads: Fire Engulfs Notre Dame de Paris

57160074_10100942793795501_4442485167621144576_nWell Sky Dancers, we made it to another week!

Right now, I’m watching CNN cover the catastrophic fire  destroying Notre Dame de Paris.  It’s been quite awhile since I visited this beautiful old Cathedral but I cannot imagine Paris without its spires. All I can think about is that incredible organ.

There is very little that appears to be going on to stop the fire.  Its cause is unknown. Its spires look like bones eaten by the flames of bright red lava.

It is unlikely that the release of the Mueller Report Thursday will create the flames required to purify the stench of the Trump family crime syndicate from our Republic.  We know that the new Attorney General is well skilled in burying constitutional scandals undertaken by lawless Presidents.  We need look no farther than what we have learned about the Iran Contra  Debacle and Barr’s role in suppressing justice, evidence, and the law.  Ryan Goodman–writing for tJust Security-– has this headline: “Barr’s Playbook: He Misled Congress When Omitting Parts of Justice Dep’t Memo in 1989”.

On Friday the thirteenth October 1989, by happenstance the same day as the “Black Friday” market crash, news leaked of a legal memo authored by William Barr. He was then serving as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It is highly uncommon for any OLC memo to make headlines. This one did because it was issued in “unusual secrecy” and concluded that the FBI could forcibly abduct people in other countries without the consent of the foreign state. The headline also noted the implication of the legal opinion at that moment in time. It appeared to pave the way for abducting Panama’s leader, Gen. Manuel Noriega.

Members of Congress asked to see the full legal opinion. Barr refused, but said he would provide an account that “summarizes the principal conclusions.” Sound familiar? In March 2019, when Attorney General Barr was handed Robert Mueller’s final report, he wrote that he would “summarize the principal conclusions” of the special counsel’s report for the public.

When Barr withheld the full OLC opinion in 1989 and said to trust his summary of the principal conclusions, Yale law school professor Harold Koh wrote that Barr’s position was “particularly egregious.” Congress also had no appetite for Barr’s stance, and eventually issued a subpoena to successfully wrench the full OLC opinion out of the Department.

What’s different from that struggle and the current struggle over the Mueller report is that we know how the one in 1989 eventually turned out.

When the OLC opinion was finally made public long after Barr left office, it was clear that Barr’s summary had failed to fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. It is better to think of Barr’s summary as a redacted version of the full OLC opinion. That’s because the “summary” took the form of 13 pages of written testimony. The document was replete with quotations from court cases, legal citations, and the language of the OLC opinion itself. Despite its highly detailed analysis, this 13-page version omitted some of the most consequential and incendiary conclusions from the actual opinion. And there was evidently no justifiable reason for having withheld those parts from Congress or the public.

There was some scuttlebutt last night that the West Wing had seen at least some of the report and that KKKremlin Caligula was on a rampage.  It’s really still unknown what will see what and it’s likely we’re in for some court time.

Since those findings were announced, congressional Democrats have been sharply critical of Barr’s handling of the Mueller report, accusing the attorney general of soft-pedaling the findings to protect the president.

The House Judiciary Committee is poised to issue a subpoena for the report’s redacted portions.

Barr has spent weeks redacting sensitive information from the report in preparation for its public release. Barr is shielding four specific categories of information: grand jury material, details whose public release could harm ongoing investigations, any information that would “potentially compromise sources and methods” in intelligence collection, and anything that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”

That last category of redaction suggests Barr wants to keep secret any derogatory information gathered by investigators about figures who ended up not being central to Mueller’s investigation.

This analysis is from Darren Samuelsohn of Politic:  “The Insiders’ Guide To the Mueller Report. How experts and political operatives are gearing up to read the juiciest Washington info dump in two decades.”

The 400-page Mueller report, expected to land this week, is the most anticipated political read since Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky and the stained blue dress—and potentially even juicier. But how do you wring that juice out of a behemoth of a legal document, full of redactions, at the speed of social media?

That’s what the tribes of American politics are gearing up to do this week.

From the moment it drops, the scramble will be on—to defend the president, to plan new lines of attack, or to put this whole big crazy story into the wider context of American history. So much material released all at once raises the question of how to dig in on something so dense, with so much buildup, where the feeding frenzy will be instant among the cable TV chattering classes and Twitter piranhas.

The capital has already evolved one model for processing a big tell-all book: “the Washington read,” where you scan the index (assuming there is one) to find everything it says about you, your boss and your enemies and then fake like you’ve read the rest. But this time that won’t be enough. The goods might not come easily. They might be buried in an obscure subsection. And there’s way more at stake than in the typical gossipy memoir.

The report by special counsel Robert Mueller could be the biggest oppo dump in history. It could be a fizzle. Although Mueller didn’t find enough evidence to charge President Donald Trump for conspiring with Russia to win the White House, and Attorney General William Barr has concluded that it doesn’t show Trump obstructed justice, the report itself is expected to be rich with details uncovered by the sweeping 22-month investigation.

We already know something about the way the report will look, courtesy of Barr. The attorney general last week told Congress that the document will be color-coded to explain why lawyers for Mueller and DOJ have redacted some of the most sensitive material. But he promised that, for all the gaps, the report won’t end up looking totally like Swiss cheese. “You will get more than the gist,” Barr told a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

So, of course, Trump is staging side shows to disrupt the news we may get from the release.  Here are some headlines for that effort.

From  Greg Sargent  at the Washington Post: Just say it: Trump’s attacks on Ilhan Omar are designed to incite hatred

One cannot conclusively establish one way or the other whether Trump actively wants to see physical harm befall Omar. But here’s what we can say right now: Trump’s attacks absolutely are designed to incite hatred of Muslims, and the fact that this could have horrifying consequences does not weigh on him in the slightest.

We know these things, because Trump’s monumentally dishonest treatment of Omar’s quote, as well as his own long history, leave no doubt about them. Trump has used 9/11 to stir up hatred of Muslims before — relying on massively deceptive agitprop to do so — and he has repeatedly continued trafficking in various tropes even after they have been confirmed to potentially play some kind of role in inciting hate and even murder.

From Andrew Desiderio / PoliticoTrump attorneys warn accounting firm not to hand over financial records.

President Donald Trump’s attorneys are warning of potential legal action if an accounting firm turns over a decade of the president’s financial records to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Trump attorneys William S. Consovoy and Stefan Passantino are urging Mazars USA not to comply with a subpoena that Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) plans to issue on Monday for Trump’s financial documents, calling it a politically motivated scheme to take down the president.

“It is no secret that the Democrat Party has decided to use its new House majority to launch a flood of investigations into the president’s personal affairs in hopes of using anything they can find to damage him politically,” Consovoy and Passantino wrote to Jerry D. Bernstein, Mazars’ outside counsel.

The attorneys said they were formally putting Mazars ”on notice” — an implicit threat of legal action. They also urged Bernstein to hold off on providing the documents to Cummings until the subpoena can be litigated in court, suggesting that a protracted legal battle is likely to ensue.

“The Democrats’ fervor has only intensified after the special counsel squelched their ‘Russia collusion’ narrative,” the attorneys continued, outlining a series of legal precedents that they argue prevents Mazars from complying with Cummings’ subpoena.


Here are some headlines on the Democratic contenders for the nomination for candidate for President:

Benjy Sarlin / NBC News:Cory Booker unveils plan to cut taxes for half the country

Elizabeth Warren / Team WarrenMy plan for public lands

Chris D’Angelo / HuffPost:
Elizabeth Warren Lays Out ‘Climate Solution’ Vision For Public Lands

Jonathan Easley / The HillSecret tapes linger over Buttigieg’s meteoric rise

Also, Speaker Pelosi was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on Sixty MInutes last night.  If you’re interested in what she said, you may follow this link.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: The Mueller report is about an attack on our elections by a foreign government. And we want to know about that. We wanna know about that in terms of being able to prevent it from happening again. So it’s bigger even than Donald Trump.

She says she doesn’t trust Attorney General William Barr.

Lesley Stahl: Do you think that the attorney general is covering anything up?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: I have no idea. I have no idea. He may be whitewashing, but I don’t know if he’s covering anything up. There’s no use having that discussion. All we need to do is see the Mueller report.

Lesley Stahl: And asking for the president’s tax returns?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: It should not have taken this long for the president– he said he was under audit. When I was in a– I was going to a Martin Luther King breakfast in San Francisco and one of the waiters there said to me, “Madame Speaker, when the president says the Mueller report’s going on too long just tell him not as long as your audit.” (LAUGHTER) Everybody has released their returns and we will have legislation to say that everyone should– must, but for the moment he’s been hi– so what’s he hiding?

She’s just hit her 100th day as speaker. She recently called the president to ask for a meeting on infrastructure, but there’s no sign that the gridlock that has plagued Congress for years is easing.

Lesley Stahl: One of the complaints we’ve heard is that you don’t reach across the aisle because it seems like right now nothing is getting done. You pass things– whatever it is dies in the Senate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Nothing died. Nothing’s died. We already put together 100 days, the fact that we even passed them in the House is a victory. Let’s figure out the places– figure out where we can find common ground. There’s always been bipartisan support for Dreamers, bipartisan support for gun safety, bipartisan support for infrastructure.

Lesley Stahl: But why doesn’t anything get done–

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: We just started.

Lesley Stahl: –with the Dreamers?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: We just started. We’re three months since we were in– in office.

Lesley Stahl: But you’re talking about 100 days. This president’s been in office for two years plus.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: And we’ve been here three months. Hey, may I introduce you to the idea of the spout– power of the speaker is to set the agenda. We didn’t have a speaker who would bring a gun bill to the floor. We didn’t have a speaker who would bring a Dreamers issue to the floor. We do now. And that’s a very big difference. The power of the speaker is awesome. Awesome.

But her becoming speaker was in doubt last December when a group in her caucus agitated for a change to someone younger. It was the president, of all people, who rescued her, in that now famous Oval Office meeting.

President Trump in Oval Office meeting: You know, Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now.
That did not sit well with her.

Speaker Pelsoi in Oval Office meeting: Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength I bring to this meeting as a leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory…

Right after the meeting, she walked to the mics in her orange coat, with a whole new image, her ascendance to the speakership no longer in jeopardy.

Lesley Stahl: You seem to be one of the very, very few people who have stood up to him and won.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: No, people do. People do. It– it is–

Lesley Stahl: Maybe not so much in public the way– this was televised.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Well, that was his problem. In other words I tried to say let’s not have this conversation in the public domain because you’re saying things that we have to contradict because they’re not true. And he said, “Oh, I want the public to see it.” Well, you want them to see that you don’t– don’t know what you’re talking about? Really?

Lesley Stahl: Here’s what you’ve said. You’ve said, “If someone’s ripping your face off. You rip their face off.” (LAUGH)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Oh yeah, I would do that.

So, I’m off to enjoy the sunshine and my very brief spring break.  Temple and I are going to walk down to the river and contemplate as much of nothing as possible.  And, I will call wordpress about whatever these ads and problems are …

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Silent film version of Victor Hugo’s novel about a hunchbacked bellringer who is flogged for trying to kidnap a gypsy girl at the order of an archdeacon’s evil brother. He then saves her from being hung for a false murder charge. Stars whose parents were deaf, Lon Chaney Sr., Ernest Torrence, Patsy Ruth Miller, Brandon Hurst. Public domain film.

42 Comments on “Monday Reads: Fire Engulfs Notre Dame de Paris”

  1. dakinikat says:

    One of the spires just fell.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’m just in tears – to lose something so precious to history. Those stained glass windows – and all of it irreplaceable.

      Has the dump reached out to Macron yet? I wonder if he can top his idiotic comments about history at Mt. Vernon.

      • dakinikat says:

        He actually said appropriate things at some tax conference in Minnesota but not sure if he’s called Macron

        • Enheduanna says:

          I’m reading he’s already called the renovation theory in to question. He really wants this to be arson caused by someone brown.

          He also suggested they water-bomb the cathedral with water planes. The French government had to rebuke the stupidity of course.

          • bostonboomer says:

            He tweeted that they should drop water from a plane, which would have collapsed the entire structure.

          • dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      It seems the two square bell towers have been saved. The spire that fell was that kind of weird little addition that was put up around 1845. One of the rose windows made it through, I think maybe the one in your first picture. Don’t know about the others, and I’m pretty sure the organ is done for. :tears: But also glad that at least one of those rose windows is still here.

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I can hardly believe it, but it looks like the entire cathedral may burn to the ground. All of the stained glass windows are gone.

    I don’t understand why they have to use blowtorches when renovating these old buildings. There’s no comparison of course, but we lost a magnificent historic church building here in my town–Arlington, MA–back in 1975. It started when workmen were using blowtorches to remove old paint in the bell tower. The First Parish Church (Unitarian) had first been built in the 1600s. It was rebuilt in the ’80s, but it’s nothing like the original. See a photo of the 1975 fire here.

    • bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Bernie promised to released 10 years of his taxes today. There’s still no sign of them.

    • NW Luna says:

      Was just thinking that today — it’s Monday, where are Bernie’s tax returns? Gov Inslee’s released his, so have Harris, Warren, Klobuchar, GIllibrand, I think Booker. But the rest of the ‘bros? Nada.

    • quixote says:

      I gather he finally released something. Lots of schedules missing and people are talking about what look to them like curious photoshopping effects. Can’t say I can see it myself from the pics posted, but I wouldn’t put it past him.

      And the omitted information contains the vast sums that went to Jane Sanders, so, I guess, we can safely double the stated amounts?

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Shocking thread on the Oleg Derapaska gift to Mitch McConnell.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Some good news:

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. dakinikat says:

    and also …

    BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 4/15/19 AT 4:58 PM EDT

  12. RonStill4Hills says:

    I am not French, I am not Catholic, I am not much of a tourist and I don’t even like that college with all the sports teams in South Bend,Indiana. Still, I feel the loss and potential loss of the Cathedral is Paris very personally. It is something we all own together as humans. I would feel the same if the Taj Mahal burned down or if the Smithsonian were blown up.

    Praise and thanks to the firefighters who saved what they could save.

    I hope they rebuild even if it costs a billion dollars.

    On the one hand it is just a church, on the other hand it is a monument to humanity.

    I feel bad about the Black Churches and the Mosque that burned. I know that they are equally important. I hope they are rebuilt too. In fact, I will probably donate to the restoration of the Louisiana churches.

    Still, even as a proud black American it is not quite as emotionally jarring or as personal as watching Notre Dame in flames.

    • NW Luna says:

      Yes, “a monument to humanity.” To creativity, to the stonemason’s art, to the human ability to make an enclosure a numinous space.

      I’m not Christian but I respond to cathedrals as places which help us feel surrounded by the great universe of which we are a part.

    • quixote says:

      I’m with you, Ron. The black churches burning is worse than Notre Dame because what some arsonist is trying to destroy is our common humanity. The buildings themselves aren’t going to be hard to rebuild.

      Nobody intended to destroy the cathedral, it’s just a horrible, horrible, horrible accident. But what’s lost is awe-creating beauty and evidence of our ability to work together for centuries to make it.

      It does sound like more has been saved than we feared. At least one rose window is still in place. I hear rumors even the organ may have made it through. And the whole world seems determined to rebuild. May we live long enough to see it done!

  13. NW Luna says:

    Man charged with throwing boy off mall balcony had history of accosting women, authorities say

    He indicated to investigators that “he had been coming to the mall for several years and had made efforts to talk to women in the Mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive.”