Live Blog: Second night of Second Debates

Image result for images democratic debates 2019 tonightYup Sky Dancers!  It’s happening again!

 

Will tonight be any better or will Jack Tapper out dud the Chuck Todd?The first night didn’t got so well … or says us all and The Atlantic: “CNN Was Ill-Equipped for This During the debate it hosted yesterday, the news network made its best effort to convert discussions of policy into the thing it knows best: punditry.”

The melodrama, it would turn out, was fitting. Throughout the debate, the first of a two-night doubleheader set at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the event’s moderators—Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Don Lemon—did what the network’s trailer suggested they would: They asked questions that might turn this fight for the heart of the party into a plain old fight.

One of their questions: “Senator Warren, you make it a point to say you’re a capitalist. Is that your way of saying you’re a safer choice than Senator Sanders?” Another: “Congressman Ryan, are Senator Sanders’s proposals going to incentivize undocumented immigrants to come into the country illegally?” Another: “Congressman O’Rourke, you live near the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso and disagree with Mayor Buttigieg on decriminalizing the border crossings. Please respond.” The chyrons gave away the game: “QUESTION: Congressman Delaney, do you think Sen. Warren’s wealth tax is a fair way to fund child care and education?” Here was another: “QUESTION: Sen. Klobuchar, who are you referring to when you say candidates are making promises just to get elected?”

Let’s get READY to RUMMMMMMMBle!!!!


Wednesday Reads: Just die already!

Been binge watching the final season of OITNB… I never liked his show. Only when you put so much time and effort into crap, you have to stick it out till the end…

And even this shit is better than the reality we do have in our tRump hell TV, that runs on a 24/7 cycle.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Life in the Twilight Zone

Good Afternoon!!

Living in Trump world means you wake up almost every day to situations that previously could only exist in an Onion story. Now they are our reality.

This morning I opened Twitter to find trending topics based on satirical tweets sent by a guy named Dan Lyons. This morning he was mocking Trump’s claim to have been helping first responders on 9/11.

Pretty funny, right? But lots of people took them seriously, and it’s not difficult to figure out why that happened. Because we’re living in the Twilight Zone now.

#ObamaandBiden is still trending. Will some reporter ask Jim Jordan about it?

Also trending on Twitter: #MoscowMitch and #MoscowMitchMcTreason. The Moscow Mitch nickname was created in response to Mitch McConnell’s continual blocking of election security bills. Then yesterday McConnell had a tantrum on the Senate floor in which he claimed he was being targeted with modern date McCarthyism.

The Hill: #MoscowMitchMcTreason trends after McConnell defends blocking election security bills.

The hashtag #MoscowMitchMcTreason began trending on Twitter Tuesday morning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired back against the nickname “Moscow Mitch” in a fiery speech from the Senate floor.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP lawmaker, dubbed McConnell “Moscow Mitch” after McConnell on Friday blocked two election security measures.

The hashtag #MoscowMitch quickly began trending on Twitter following Scarborough’s comments.

McConnell responded on Monday, decrying the attacks against him as “modern-day McCarthyism.

“I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies. I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I’ve singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years, Vladimir Putin,” McConnell said.

“These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They’re lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed,” he added. “They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy.”

Sorry Mitch, but everyone knows you blocked President Obama when he wanted to issue a bipartisan warning about Russians interfering in the 2016 election to help Trump.

Trump continued the Twilight Zone theme this morning as he left the White House. He issued an extended attack on Baltimore, claiming the city’s problems are all Rep. Elijah Cummings’ fault (nothing to do with the Mayor, Governor, or federal government). Next he responded to a question about Dana Millbank’s article calling Mitch McConnell a Russian asset by saying

“I think the Washington Post is a Russian asset, by comparison … Mitch McConnell is a man that knows less about Russia and Russian influence and even Donald Trump, and I know nothing.”

Of the people of Baltimore, he said:

“Those people are living in hell in Baltimore. They are largely African American, you have a large African American population. And they really appreciate what I’m doing, and they’ve let me know it.”

Really? Oh yes, Trump said, African American have been calling the White House and telling him how happy they are with his policies.

TRUMP: “The African American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy as what a president has done.”

That Abraham Lincoln, he was such a loser, right Donald? For more of this nonsense, check out Aaron Rupar’s Twitter timeline.

 

In more serious news, the second Democratic primary debate begins tonight. NPR: Your Guide To Tonight’s Democratic Presidential Debate.

The Democratic presidential candidates take the stage for the second round of debates Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit. A lot is on the line for the candidates, who have been engaged in back-and-forths over race and health care coming into this round of debates.

On Tuesday, progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren face off for the first time in this campaign. And several other candidates will be scrambling for a breakout night to get back on voters’ minds.

Viewers will also see an odd dynamic onstage — by luck of the draw, all the candidates onstage on Night 1 are white….

In order of their placement onstage, left to right: Spiritualist and author Marianne Williamson; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas; former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.; former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.; and Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont.

The first meeting between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be the marquee match up. Read more at the link above.

John Ratcliffe

The most terrifying news of the day is that Trump is on the verge of taking control of the U.S. intelligence infrastructure. He has appointed Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coates as Director of National Intelligence, even though Ratcliffe has no intelligence background and is completely unqualified. If this appointment is approved by the Senate, we may never learn anything about Russian support of Trump in the 2020 election and Democrats in the House could be cut off from getting any information from the intelligence agencies.

If you watched the Mueller hearings, you may recall Ratcliffe’s unhinged attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Ryan Bort at Rolling Stone: How John Ratcliffe Nailed His Audition to Become Trump’s New Intelligence Chief.

A week ago, Rep. John Radcliffe (R-Texas) was a largely anonymous congressman serving on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. On Sunday night, President Trump announced he would be nominating him to oversee America’s intelligence community, a position for which Ratcliffe is woefully under-qualified. Why? Look no further than Ratcliffe’s performance during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony last Wednesday.

In lieu of asking questions of Mueller, Ratcliffe used his five minutes to make a show of excoriating Mueller for noting that the special counsel report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. Ratcliffe argued that, considering Mueller chose not to prosecute the president, it was outside of his legal purview to elaborate on a decision he chose not to make.

When Mueller tried to explain why the situation was “unique,” Ratcliffe cut him off and continued to rant. “Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not,” Ratcliffe concluded with a flourish. “But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume 2 of this report puts him,” Ratcliffe said.

Back to Rolling Stone:

It was exactly the kind of sound bite designed to earn plaudits from Trump. So too was his appearance on Fox News Sunday morning. “I’m not going to accuse any specific person of any specific crime,” he told Maria Bartiromo. “I just want there to be a fair process to get there. What I do know, as a former federal prosecutor, is, it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration.”

Trump announced the nomination hours later. “I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.”

Ratliffe is looney tunes and his only qualification is his loyalty to the mad king.

David Ignatius at The Washington Post: Trump’s intelligence shake-up could be his most dangerous move yet.

Among intelligence professionals, President Trump’s nomination of an inexperienced, partisan politician to oversee America’s spy agencies prompted deep dismay — but also a stolid reaffirmation of the spymaster’s credo: Let’s get on with it.

This combination of incredulity and stoicism was voiced by a half-dozen current and former officers I spoke with Monday about Trump’s choice of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to become director of national intelligence. The worry is partly that Ratcliffe lacks any real experience, and perhaps more that he has embraced Trump’s “deep state” conspiracy theories about the CIA and FBI.

“This makes the workforce wonder, what are we doing here?” said one veteran CIA station chief. But a few moments later he affirmed: “This place is under siege. People say, carry on, protect the mission, avoid the firing range.”

“Analysts will be asking how well [Ratcliffe] will represent our product downtown,” said a second former officer who served in a senior position under Daniel Coats, the departing DNI. This former official predicted that it would take Ratcliffe a year just to understand the vast array of 17 intelligence agencies he will oversee, if he’s confirmed.

The deepest worry among intelligence professionals is how the Ratcliffe nomination, and the intense partisanship that fueled it, will be perceived by the United States’ intelligence partners overseas. “They’re in wait-and-see mode,” said a former senior CIA officer after canvassing a group of intelligence colleagues.

If the White House exerts political control through Ratcliffe, “foreign governments will be wondering if they should be sharing information” with the CIA and National Security Agency, said the veteran station chief.

More articles to check out on this topic:

NBC News: Intel officials worry Trump’s pick for top spy will politicize the job.

The Washington Post: Some officials fear Trump will get the intelligence he wants, not the intelligence he needs, from DNI pick.

ABC News: Trump’s pick for intelligence director misrepresented role in anti-terror case.

The Daily Beast: Trump Intel Pick John Ratcliffe Started Theory of FBI Anti-Trump ‘Secret Society.’

The New York Times: Republican Senators Are Cool to Trump’s Choice for Top Intelligence Post.

Before I wrap this up, I want to call your attention to this long profile of Alan Dershowitz at The New Yorker by Connie Bruck, you really should. It’s devastating: Alan Dershowitz, Devil’s Advocate.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

 


Monday Reads: Racism defines that Basket of Deplorables

Image result for paintings black and brown children vintageGood Morning Sky Dancers!

Racism has always defined the life and times of the Slum Lord’s son occupying the White House who was undoubtedly planted there with hacking by Russians as well as baskets of deplorables.  Will racism continue to define the future of this country as well as its past? What can we do to end our national nightmare?

The much publicized Trumpkins Twitter Rampage we endured the last few weeks comes from a sick mind and heart of some one who is very insecure about his unearned success.  This same some one is very much aware he’s out of his league, probably facing jail time if he loses the election, and likely to learn more every day that he is a joke among national leaders who recognize him for the small minded bigot and thug he is.  So, rather than do a little soul searching, he blames completely innocent people whose only discernible distinction is how their skin handles melanin.

We never think these Twitter Rampages could get uglier but they always do. The uncouth, hateful bigot that occupies the Oval Office keeps finding new lows since there are no more functioning guards on the man and few guardrails to contain his sociopathic behavior.  The last one will go this week, the stoic Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates  His replacement will undoubtedly purge what ever he can of evidence showing the Russians–with the help of the Trump Family Crime syndicate–stole our elections.

But meanwhile, Esteemed Congressman Elijah Cummings and the city and people of Baltimore are under systemic racist attack. He’s angry so why not pick on good people of color and others? The rest of us must come to their defense or lose our souls.  We all must rid our country of Trump or lose our hope for democracy and a more perfect union.

Here is some commentary that might interest you on the topic.

Most of us laughed when the many in the media went out of their way to say that the Republican base just faced “economic uncertainty” and Trump was simply a result of that. These are people that have ignored the systemic race baiting of the Republican party since Nixon–the so-called Southern Strategy–and the howls of white evangelicals in the south who wanted their schools kept segregated and found no quarter in the Democratic Party under LBJ. Trump’s Racism defines that party and any one that doesn’t damn his bigoted public attacks on the many shades of brown and black Americans to whom this country owes much is complicit and racist.

<i>Echoes of Harlem</i>, 1980, By Faith Ringgold (American, b. 1930); Acrylic on canvas; 79 1/2 x 80 1/2 inches; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of Altria Group, Inc.; Courtesy American Federation of Arts; ©1980 Faith Ringgold

Echos of Harlem, 1980 Faith Ringgold

From Bloomberg Opinion and Timothy L O’Brien:  “Trump’s Racism Infests the Republican Party”.

Over this past weekend Trump put Cummings and his Baltimore district in his crosshairs, tweeting at him 17 times in a racially-charged salvo of alternately bigoted, hostile and inaccurate insults that commenced at 7:14 a.m. on Saturday and concluded at 6:49 a.m. on Monday. Baltimore and its neighboring areas, the president allowed, were a “very dangerous & filthy place” and a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Cummings was “incompetent” and a “brutal bully” responsible for Baltimore’s problems, a “racist” who “spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people.” As he has done before, Trump also retweeted the musings of a far-right British pundit who is a self-described racist to make his case against Cummings.

A broad, diverse swath of Baltimore residents and supporters responded to Trump by coming to Cummings’s and their city’s defense, acknowledging that Baltimore had myriad problems, including crime and poverty, but was hardly the noxious monolith the president was slagging. #WeAreBaltimore became a ubiquitous hashtag and a rallying cry on social media. Perhaps the most poignant and powerful voice in all of that was a CNN anchor, Victor Blackwell, who was born in Baltimore and noted during a pointed, emotional broadcast on Saturday that Trump frequently uses the words “infested” and “infestation” when describing the homes or countries of people of color.

“Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times. He’s insulted thousands of people, many different types of people. But when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people,” Blackwell said. “There are challenges, no doubt. But people are proud of their community. I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but people get up and go to work there. They care for their families there. They love their children, who pledge allegiance to the flag just like people who live in districts of congressmen who support you, sir. They are Americans, too.”

One person who has yet to speak out on Cummings’s behalf is his good friend, Meadows. The congressman from North Carolina, like his entire political party, has remained silent while Trump – an inveterate racist– has spent yet another weekend targeting a high-profile Democrat of color in heinous, prejudiced ways. In that context, Meadows is a proxy for the lack of political courage and moral clarity in Trump’s Republican Party.

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, sat for an interview with Fox News on Sunday and said there was nothing racist about Trump’s comments. “If I had poverty in my district like they have in Baltimore,” Mulvaney said, “I’d get fired.” (Mulvaney’s old South Carolina district does have poverty rates like Baltimore’s – as do many of the ruralred state districts that Trump avoids criticizing).

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944, Museo Dolores Olmedo Broken Column frida kahlo

The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo

Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post reminds Republicans that ‘32,000 JEWS LIVE IN BALTIMORE DISTRICT, TRUMP: ‘NO HUMAN’ WANTS TO” and that “Elijah Cummings, bashed by Trump, helps sponsor month-long summer program in Israel for black students”.

Elijah Cummings, the African-American Baltimore congressman who found himself on the receiving end of a Twitter thrashing from US President Donald Trump, has a LARGE number of Jewish residents in his district, is close with the local Jewish community, and for the last two decades has helped sponsor a trip to Israel for black students from his district.

In 2014, Maryland’s 7th district, where Trump said “no human would want to live,” housed some 32,000 Jews, 4.46% of the population in the district. According to data in the Jewish Federations of North America’s Berman Jewish Data Bank, this district would rank in the top 65 of America’s 435 congressional districts with the largest Jewish population.

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings has been sharply critical of Trump’s immigration policies. Earlier this month he slammed acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a Congressional hearing over border conditions along the Mexican frontier, and his committee has launched a number of investigations of the Trump White House.

On Saturday, Trump hit back.

“Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump tweeted. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA.”

Cumming’s district, Trump said, “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.” The president said that Cummings’ district, WHICH INCLUDES western Baltimore, “is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately.”

For the last two decades, Cummings has partnered with the Baltimore Jewish Council in backing the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel (ECYP), a two-year leadership fellowship that aspires to build leadership and bridges between the African-American and Jewish communities.

Some 200 students have participated in the program, with its centerpiece being a month spent in Israel. The students live at the Yemin Orde Youth Village south of Haifa and are paired, as its promotional literature says, “with displaced teens from over 24 countries, including Ethiopia, Israel, South America, Europe and the former states of the Soviet Union.”

Jonathan Capehart of WAPO does not mince words “In Trump’s America, the ‘basket of deplorables’ is overflowing”.

When you’re a person of color — whether in politics, journalism or regular life — you’re accustomed to folks demanding that you criticize or denounce people, especially if they look like you. Some of them deserve criticism for what they’ve said. (See Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.) Some of them aren’t worth the oxygen required of denunciation because they are marginal characters who don’t have any power. (See Louis Farrakhan.) But we do it because it is the moral and right thing to do.

Yet, the president of the United States goes on a racist tear against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House oversight committee, and his Baltimore district, and there is virtual silence from the president’s supporters. The president of the United States goes on a racist tear against Omar and three other women of color elected to serve in the House of Representatives, and there is virtual silence. The president of the United States stands back for 13 seconds as his bread-and-circuses crowd brays “Send her back!” about Omar, and there is virtual silence. Actually, it’s worse than that. Excuses are made.

Facing a grilling from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said of Trump’s racist tweets: “It has absolutely zero to do with race.” He told Margaret Brennan, the host of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” about the racist tweets about Baltimore, “I understand that everything that Donald Trump says is offensive to some people.”

Image result for mexican american art paintings images

Woman with a Basket of Calla Lilies, mural details, José Clemente Orozco,

So, there’s this op ed also from WAPO and it’s not that the facts on the ground are wrong, because they aren’t.  It’s not that a lot of things under Trump are wrong, because they are.  It’s not even that the list of Trump’s evil is longer than one issue, because it’s way longer.

It’s this.  The discussion today is and should be about Racism and the evil that the Republicans and Trump are doing to people who are Americans and people that want to be Americans simply because they are some shade of brown.  Racist  screeds and actions inciting white nationalists to violence are enough to Damn The Occupant of the White House to hell and Impeachment.

Fred Hiatt warns people not to be complacent under Trump just because the Recovery is still present today.  Coming from a chocolate city with a lot of recent South Amercan and Mexican transplants, I can tell you that the only people that could possibly be complacent under Trump because of the economy are white people.  And white people of a certain DEPLORABILITY at that.  I cannot imagine a black or brown person living in this country today that is complacent about Trump.

To the world, it is not just Trump taking these positions. It is America. The damage will be long-lasting.

And his ignorance and cynicism reverberate through some of the biggest stories of our time: the confidence of authoritarian strongmen in China, Russia and beyond; their distortion of technology from a liberating force into a malevolent tool of surveillance and suppression; the destructive warming of the climate, which the United States ignores and abets. None of these is easily reversible.

The story is similar, if more familiar, at home. The constant, willful lying; the attacks on the press and on the very idea of truth — these are not harmless. They draw from but also foster a lack of trust that will persist long after his presidency.

So does the racism. So do the ugly attacks on immigrants. So do the contempt for science and the refusal to stand up to foreign attacks on our elections. So do the disparaging of public servants and the casual threats to wield the vast powers of the federal government against perceived political enemies. These things used to be not okay. Now they are okay. There will be no easy return.

Yes, we’ve avoided recession, the nation is (mostly) at peace, the government will not default. Naturally, we are thankful.

Image result for portrait barack obama

Official portrait of President Barack Obama , Kehinde Wiley Official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald

Dear Fred (fellow white human being).  The racism is not a side show or an afterthought.  It’s not one point in a long list today.  It’s the central theme (Send them Back), the ongoing theme (Many Good People on both sides), the first spoken theme (Drug Dealing and Rapist Mexicans), and the ever present theme (shit hole countries and infested American cities). The dog whistles and race baiting Republicans have employed to wink and nod at bigots have finally come full circle.  The policies of Voter Suppression, Family Separation, and White Nationalism are a pogrom. They are a Republican Pogrom worthy of the KKK.

Jeet Heer has something to say about that in The Nation and it harkens back to something deeper and stated here for quite some time.

The contrast between Trump’s utter disdain for non-white lawmakers and his willingness to chastise an American ally on behalf of a jailed musician is partly traceable to the president’s special warmth for celebrities, especially if they praise him. It’s a bluntly personal response: if you criticize Trump, as Cummings and others have, you’re his enemy. If you are Trump’s pal, he’ll go the extra mile to help you out.

The priority Trump gives to transactional relationships gives some credence to Senator Lindsey Graham’s argument that the president is a narcissist rather than a racist.

But Graham’s formulation is too simple. It’s more accurate to say Trump’s racism and narcissism are both facets of his desire to rule like a feudal lord. If we see Trump as a would-be baron or an aspiring king, then his varied reaction to people of color makes sense: he loves those who pledge loyalty to him and hates those who defy him in any way.

Writing in the November/December issue of The New Left Review, University of California sociologist Dylan Riley challenged the popular view, found across the political spectrum, that Trump is a fascist. Using the ideas of Max Weber, Riley argued that Trump was rather a practitioner of patrimonialism, the style of governance built on personal loyalty that was found in “the later Roman Empire and medieval Europe.”

It is patrimonialism that links Trump to oddball cronies like Wilbur Ross, Jared Kushner, Thomas Barrack, Stephen Miller, and Matthew Whitaker. As Riley observes, “Bonds of purely personal loyalty bind the seedy milieu of lumpen-millionaires (Ross and Kushner inside the Administration, Thomas Barrack outside) and hangers-on of various sorts (Miller, Whitaker) to Trump.” Patrimonialism also explains Trump’s use of the presidential pardon power on behalf of his political supporters such as Dinesh D’Souza, Conrad Black and Joe Arpaio.

Structurally, the American presidency has always been an elected monarchy. But Trump has ruled more like a king than most presidents, transforming the traditional bonds of partisanship or ideology into relationships of personal fealty.

Trump’s essentially feudal conception of politics is surely traceable to his long-standing connections to the Mafia, perhaps the modern organization that most closely resembles the patrimonial governance of the pre-modern world. In the mob, the Godfather is a de facto lord, who offers protection in exchange for respect and tribute.

Still, the underlying thing of all things Trump has been racism.  This was true of his first ventures in being a slum lord right up and through the Central Park Five lynching calls.  It’s his response to Charlottesville. It’s his attack on the women of color in Congress. He enjoys going on racist screeds.  He gets some kind of sadistic thrill from it.

He has underlying motivations that can probably be carved out in the territory of a number of personality disorders and venal sins.  But, there is something pervasive and overtly deep felt about his actions and words that show a special hatred of women and an even deeper hatred of people of color.  Again, he gets off on being an outspoken race war baiting racist and he should not get a pass, a side wink, or even an excuse.

That is something we cannot ignore, trivialize, or bury in a list of all his evil deeds. And, that’s really how I feel.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

By Olga Kost

Good Afternoon!!

The occupant of the people’s White House began his morning with more racist attacks on people of color. This time it was Rep. Elijah Cummings and the people of Baltimore. I won’t subject you to the tweets, but he claimed that Cummings’ district in Maryland is “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and “very dangerous & filthy place” and that “no human being would want to live there.” He also called Cummings a “brutal bully” because he criticized Trump’s concentration camps.

Apparently the occupant was watching TV this morning before he heads out to play more golf.

Cummings also announced recently that he has subpoenaed the White House for employees’ emails sent on personal accounts. That would include Ivanka and Jared.

This morning, CNN’s Victor Blackwell gave an eloquent response to the occupant’s ugly tweets.

Of course the real source of Trump’s rage is the fact that Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have opened an impeachment inquiry into his crimes.

Joshua Matz at The Washington Post: The House has already opened an impeachment investigation against Trump. (Matz is the co-author of To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.

Has the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry? That question is starkly presented by a petition that the House Judiciary Committee filed in federal court on Friday. It is also answered by that petition. No matter what certain House Democratic leaders might say about the politics of the matter, there can now be no doubt that the committee is engaged in an investigation of whether to impeach President Trump.

Flora Merleau, Dear Alexander

Through its petition, the committee seeks access to portions of the report by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that were redacted to protect grand jury secrecy. The panel also seeks grand jury testimony bearing on Trump’s knowledge of criminal acts, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Russian connections to his campaign. Finally, the committee seeks grand jury testimony about actions taken by former White House counsel Donald McGahn; this last request probably anticipates the committee’s rumored plans to seek an order compelling McGahn to testify.

It is settled law that House committees can obtain grand jury materials as part of impeachment investigations. So the legal dispute will probably center on whether such an inquiry is underway.

The Constitution itself does not use phrases like “impeachment investigation” or “impeachment proceedings.” This has led some to mistakenly assume that the House is disregarding its impeachment power because it has not yet held a floor vote approving articles of impeachment (or expressly instructing the Judiciary Committee to deliberate on such articles).

But to those who specialize in these matters, that all-or-nothing vision of the impeachment power is mistaken. The Constitution’s text and structure — supported by judicial precedent and prior practice — show that impeachment is a process, not a single vote. And that process virtually always begins with an impeachment investigation in the judiciary committee, which is already occurring.

Here is the historic announcement made by Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

At The Atlantic, four members of the House of Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon, David Cicilline, Pramila Jayapal, and Veronica Escobar write: Why We’re Moving Forward With Impeachment.

Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees was a watershed moment. At this point, it is up to Congress to act on the evidence of multiple counts of obstruction of justice committed by the president, and to continue our investigation into whether he has committed other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Beryl Cook, The Great Cat

Despite assertions to the contrary by the president and his allies, the special counsel’s report and testimony are not the end of our investigations. We have now filed a petition in court to obtain the grand-jury documents referenced in the special counsel’s report. In that filing, we have made clear that we will utilize our Article I powers to obtain the additional underlying evidence, as well as enforce subpoenas for key witness testimony, and broaden our investigations to include conflicts of interest and financial misconduct.

While many people believe that beginning an impeachment investigation can begin only with a vote of the full House of Representatives, this is not true. Article I authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to begin this process.

As members of the House Judiciary Committee, we understand the gravity of this moment that we find ourselves in. We wake up every morning with the understanding of the oath that binds us as members of Congress, and the trust that our constituents placed in us to uphold that oath. We will move forward with the impeachment process. Our investigation will seriously examine all the evidence as we consider whether to bring articles of impeachment or other remedies under our Article I powers.

Our Constitution requires it. Our democracy depends on it.

An so finally, it is happening.

Yesterday, Mitch McConnell blocked two more election security bills in the Senate. Twitter responded by getting the hashtag #MoscowMitch trending. Newsweek:

The hashtag #MoscowMitch was trending on Twitter on Friday morning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election bills designed to deter interference by Russia and other states, claiming it was “partisan legislation” by the Democratic Party.

It followed special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday that Russia is still attempting to interfere in American democracy, further to its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with a view to disrupting the 2020 contest.

Barbara Perrine Chu, Woman with Black Cat

Then on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report detailing Russian interference dating back to at least 2014 through to 2017 that targeted U.S. election infrastructure with an “unprecedented level of activity.”

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough used the moniker “Moscow Mitch” in reference to McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, multiple times during his MSNBC show on Friday, and tore into the congressional leader for several minutes.

Scarborough made reference to an effort in 2016 ahead of the election by President Barack Obama to sound the alarm to American voters about Russian interference by urging congressional leaders to sign a bipartisan statement condemning it publicly.

At the time, according to The Washington PostMcConnell rebuffed Obama’s suggestion, and said he would view the White House talking publicly about Russian interference before polling day as an act of partisanship designed to aid the then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

As everyone here knows, Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska has promised to pour millions into McConnell’s home state of Kentucky by opening a new aluminum plant there. In addition, Newsweek reports that Mitch McConnell received donations from voting maachine lobbyists before blocking election security bills.

This morning Dana Millbank went there at The Washington Post: Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.

Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.

This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.

By Mariana Kalacheva

Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.

Robert Mueller sat before Congress this week warning that the Russia threat “deserves the attention of every American.” He said “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious” challenges to American democracy he has ever seen. “They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” he warned, adding that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.”

Millbank provides specifics of McConnell’s unpatriotic behavior:

McConnell has blocked all such attempts [to protect our elections], including:

A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence.

A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies.

A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election.

A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes.

McConnell has prevented them all from being considered — over and over again. This is the same McConnell who, in the summer of 2016, when briefed by the CIA along with other congressional leaders on Russia’s electoral attacks, questioned the validity of the intelligence and forced a watering down of a warning letter to state officials about the threat, omitting any mention of Russia.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

On Hardball yesterday, John Brennan discussed McConnell’s behavior in 2016.

This days, the GOP is filled with Russian assets like Trump’s suck-up golf buddy Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, who tried to block funding to help 9/11 first responders but fights sanctions on a Russian pipeline. The Daily Beast:

Advocates for a massive Russian natural gas pipeline project have a powerful, quiet ally in Congress: Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and close friend of President Donald Trump. He has quietly worked against sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project, which would dramatically expand Russia’s shipments of natural gas to Germany. Critics say it would also dramatically expand Russia’s influence in Western Europe while harming Ukraine. The Trump administration has weighed sanctioning the project, but has yet to do so. And Trump himself has criticized it.

On Thursday, the senator postponed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s mark-up of legislation that would have put sanctions on the project, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the committee’s proceedings. And while Paul hasn’t publicized his opposition to the proposed sanctions, he sent Senate colleagues a letter before the mark-up explaining his stance. The letter, which The Daily Beast obtained, argues that the legislation in question—a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeanne Shaheen—doesn’t clearly state which entities would be sanctioned.

That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?


Friday Freak Out Reads: Orange Shit Gibbon democratizes “Toxic Stress”

Image result for relax poster vintageGood Morning Sky Dancers!

I remember the days of being part of the Katrina Diaspora. I spent most of it on the sofa of a friend in Omaha watching endless live coverage on CNN wondering if they would ever figure out the difference between the lower and the upper ninth ward and if all this carnage meant my little kathouse was gone. Finally, satellite photos were released and I happily saw the roof of my house and no water any where.

But, six weeks in a place you vowed you would never return to while not knowing when they’d let you go home is not a pleasant experience. At some point, my late great friend Jane introduced me to binging Law and Order episodes plus the various spins offs like Major Crimes, Criminal Intent, and SVU instead of stressing myself with Anderson Cooper daily. Some how it was quite comforting to watch a program where there were good cops and they always caught the really really bad guys no matter what their position in society. I especially love SVU. It was one way I could relax. I later turned to disaster movies and survival series when I got home, but that’s another story.

Lady with the Dog, Relaxing on the Lawn Konstantin Somov

I am back binging SVU and Criminal Intent. This is probably why: “How Trump is democratising toxic stress. The US president will probably leave America considerably less mentally healthy” via the UK Financial Times and Edward Lucas. We all just need to admit that having a person with multiple personality disorders, a godfather mentality and swagger, and a bigoted, hateful agenda has us all feeling like a big huge battered family.

A few days ago a psychologist friend told me something that was at once startling and unsurprising; she is seeing far more patients than before Donald Trump was elected — and they tend to be suffering from deeper anxiety. Some people call this the Trump Anxiety Syndrome (TAD), or Post Trump Stress Syndrome (PTSD). People of a more Trumpian flavour might dismiss it as Liberal Snowflake Disorder (LSD), or old-fashioned anecdotal exaggeration. I concede that there is no definitive data to back it up. Other than rising anti-anxiety Xanax prescriptions and surveys such as this from the American Psychiatric Association, it is hard to find incontrovertible statistics. Moreover, some of the deteriorating social indicators, such as rising suicide rates (which in 2017 hit a post-second world war high), and falling life expectancy, precede Trump’s election, even if they have got worse since he took office.

Blaming everything on Trump is facile. Yet omitting him from the equation would be just as mistaken. My own view is that Trump will leave America considerably less mentally healthy than how he found it. His election was the product of an increasingly anxious society. But we find ourselves collectively far more anxious as a result. Trump is a rocket-booster to our toxic stress. He is a cure worse than the disease.

Medical professionals will tell you that acute stress tends to be self-perpetuating. The more we worry, the less we sleep. The shorter our fuses, the worse our decisions. And so on. That is as true of the body politic as it is at the personal level. Individuals can at least ask their doctor for medication. Unfortunately there is no such thing as Xanax for society as a whole. Liberal democracy cannot consult a doctor. The nearest thing America used to have to help them deal with collective stress was a unifying presidential figure. Whether it was FDR after Pearl Harbor, Reagan after the Challenger shuttle exploded, Clinton after the Oklahoma bombing, or even George W Bush after 9/11, most US presidents at least tried play the role of healers-in-chief. Trump does not even make the pretence. He seeks to profit from divisions by exacerbating them. Where others see fear, Trump smells opportunity. That is his re-election strategy. He is good at it. But it comes at a deep social cost. His strategy depends on keeping people at each other’s throats. It makes all of us, including his critics, less thoughtful and more contemptuous.

Two dancers relaxing (pastel) – Edgar Degas

This is true for every one I know and I hear this all the time. Here’s another take via WAPO and Daniel W. Drenzer; “Donald Trump is stressing out America. Why the economy doesn’t help the president as much as he thinks.”

If the economy is doing well but average Americans aren’t feeling it, that is bad news for Trump. And looking beyond the economy, there is an awful lot of evidence suggesting that Americans are not feeling too well. The polling data is one obvious metric. According to Gallup, in 2018, more Americans were stressed, worried and angry than at any point in the last 12 years. That is extraordinary when you consider that the past dozen years includes the 2008 financial crisis and multiple terrorist attacks. Furthermore, American stress levels are among the highest in the world. Seriously, Americans were as stressed as Iranians and more stressed than citizens of Rwanda, Turkey, and Venezuela. That’s nuts.

Does Trump have anything to do with this? It is difficult to determine causality, but the data is pretty suggestive. Trump inspires a whole host of negative reactions in most Americans. Pew polled Americans in the spring and asked them to describe how Trump’s comments and statements made them feel. The top seven responses, in order: concerned (76 percent), confused (70 percent), embarrassed (69 percent), exhausted (67 percent), angry (65 percent), insulted (62 percent) and frightened (56 percent). I am not a psychologist, but I would reckon that there might be something going on here. If these are the dominant emotions that Trump elicits, and if Trump is everywhere, then hey, it’s going to stress a lot of Americans out!

Even more concrete evidence has come to light in the past week. As my Post colleagues William Wan and Lindsey Bever reported recently, “Researchers have begun to identify correlations between Trump’s election and worsening cardiovascular health, sleep problems, anxiety and stress, especially among Latinos in the United States.” One disturbing JAMA study looked at premature births, an easily quantifiable metric of stress during pregnancy. After analyzing approximately 33 million births between 2009 and 2017 researchers found 3 percent more preterm births than expected among Latina women in the nine months after the election.

It’s not just Latina women who are feeling the stress of America under Trump. The Boston Globe’s Zoe Greenberg reports that psychologists are having to treat a number of anxiety-related maladies among minority clients, including insomnia and hypervigilance. When they dig deeper, the underlying cause becomes apparent:

As Trump doubles down on attacks against the four women of color in Congress known as “The Squad,” which includes Omar and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, some people of color in the Boston area describe a psychological toll that the episodes, and Trump’s frequent overt hostility, have had on their daily lives — not just this month, but in the many months since the 2016 presidential campaign began.

Some have tried to guard themselves against the everyday tumult coming from the White House; others have become more vocal in politics. Some have found a grim silver lining, because the scourge of racism that some white people recently claimed had disappeared is now impossible to ignore or explain away. Many said it reminds them of other dark moments of personal and national history, when racial hostility and tension reared up….

“We have now 20 years of research that connects racism with just about every mental health issue that has been studied,” said Monnica Williams, a professor and the director of the laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities at the University of Connecticut. The effect of “vicarious racism” — seeing, for example, videos of police shootings of unarmed black men, or hearing chants of “Send her back!” — has not been studied as much, according to Jessica Graham-LoPresti, an assistant professor of psychology at Suffolk University, but social media indicates the experience is certainly on the rise.

“People are being now not only exposed to their own experiences of racism, but they’re being vicariously exposed to everyone’s experience of racism,” she said, adding that patients often exhibit symptoms very similar to those from post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as depression and social anxiety.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby “Predeccessors” detail.

Well, there’s the evidence that it’s true, it’s true. He’s driving us all crazy and making us nervous wrecks to the detriment of our mental, emotional and physical health.. The crazy thing is he can brag all he wants about the economy but it’s not doing as well as he promised or as it appears to people not familiar with the underlying economics.

Trump promised these huge growth rates and he’s failed to deliver. The coverage of downward revision in economic performance for 2018 is from Bloomberg and Rich Miller And, of course he’ll lie about it and scream that some one is cheating, because, well that’s what he does in his daily Gas Light the Nation tweets. These growth rates are pretty average during the peak of a boom. Remember. this boom did not start recently but somewhere during the last recovery and the Obama years.

President Donald Trump failed to achieve his much-ballyhooed 3% target for economic growth in 2018 after all.

Updated government figures show that gross domestic product expanded 2.5% on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis last year. That compares with a previous estimate of 3% and an upwardly revised 2.8% in 2017, the first year of Trump’s presidency.

Behind the 2018 markdown: Slower growth of business investment and exports, along with a greater output in the fourth quarter of 2017 that made the comparison less favorable.

“Relax on the beach ” Edward Henry Pottast

Meanwhile, it appears that Republicans under Trump and McConnell will not be taking any interest in stopping Russian interference in elections. Why should they? It works so well for them.

Today’s NYT outlines Russian interference in the 2016 election in all 50 states. Can we just keep saying the election was stolen from Hillary quite loudly until Trump dies of a massive coronary or something?

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time.

But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out.

The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.”

While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems.

Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet) Vincent Van Gogh

McConnell has stopped bipartisan legislation to do something more about this (via The Hill). He announced that the Orange Shit Gibbon had done enough already and nothing to see here. I’m not a fan of Joe Scarborough but I do agree with his characterization of “Moscow” MItch. All of this keeps me wondering what exactly did the Russians get when they hacked the RNC?

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Friday lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him “Moscow Mitch” over his inaction on legislation to address Russian election interference.

Scarborough made the comments about the Kentucky Republican during a segment on “Morning Joe” after McConnell blocked two election security measures. The hashtag #MoscowMitch quickly began trending on Twitter following his comments.

Scarborough, a former GOP lawmaker, called McConnell’s actions “un-American.”

“How can Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye not only this year to what his Republican chairman of the Intel Committee is saying, to what Robert Mueller is saying, to what the FBI director is saying, to what the DNI [director of national intelligence] is saying, to what the CIA is saying, to what the United States military intel community is saying,” Scarborough asked.

“How can Moscow Mitch keep denying that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin continues to try to subvert American democracy?”

Scarborough accused McConnell of “aiding and abetting Vladimir Putin’s ongoing attempts to subvert American democracy” and said it was “un-American” for McConnell to block the Senate from taking up election security legislation.

#MoscowMitch is trending on Twitter right now.

This is from the Raw Story article cited in the above Twitter.

Reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills aimed at helping to secure America’s election process from Russian interference infuriated Twitter commenters with his action — or inaction — coming right after ex-special counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Kremlin will seek to interfere just as they did in 2016.

The Senate majority leader blocked two election security bills twice this week and commenters were quick to note that the Republican leader also prevented the Obama administration from warning Americans about Russian meddling in 2016.

With the 2020 election right around the corner, McConnell’s decision to look the other way had one Twitter user calling him “Putin’s other puppet” — a reference to a nickname aimed at Donald Trump who was helped in his 2016 presidential run by Vladimir Putin.

Buddha Relaxing Buddha by Artist Renu Thomas

Oh dear, now have to start doing my mantras again while popping Valerian Root. Tomorrow is Saturday and an entire day of SUV. Until then … om mani padme hum … om mani padme hum … now where is one of my comfort furbabies? Temple? Keely? Dinah? om mani padme hum!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Media Works Tirelessly to Help Trump Destroy U.S. Democracy

Good Afternoon!!

If Trump succeeds in destroying our democracy and becoming Hitler 2.0, the responsibility will be equally shared between the GOP and the U.S. political media. Yesterday Robert Mueller confirmed that Trump has committed high crimes and implied that Congress should impeach him. The media responded by reviewing the style and “optics” of his presentation, paying little attention to its content.

The ever-shallow Chuck Todd led the charge on Twitter. I won’t subject you to the video.

So-called leftist Michael Moore agreed with Todd.

The Columbia Journalism Review critiqued Chuck Todd’s remarks as well as those of other MSNBC hosts: MSNBC public editor: The Chuck Todd show.

Todd’s focus on the “entertainment” aspect of politics coverage is often in evidence—for example, in his own recent performance as moderator in the Democratic presidential debate. He managed to talk more than all but three of the candidates, even as he demanded that they keep their own answers brief….

For Chuck Todd all the political world’s a stage, and he’s the star….

And it’s not just Todd. Other MSNBC anchors reacted to the Mueller hearings similarly, finding fault with the Democrats’, and Mueller’s, lack of pizazz as performers. Brian Williams referred to “the caffeine gap” in the Judiciary Committee’s questioning. I can’t help pointing out that excessive concern with caffeinated pizzazz can warp a journalist’s judgement pretty severely, and is best avoided.

At a moment of particular gravity for the country, with the sitting president credibly accused of obstructing justice, and many of his campaign staff and associates under investigation and indictment, may I suggest that if you, a journalist, are bored with the politics of this—if you are demanding somehow to be entertained, right now—you’re not doing your job.

Politics isn’t entertainment, it is not a performance to be critiqued. Reporting on national politics is a public trust of solemn importance that affects hundreds of millions of people.

A sample of headlines from the “savvy” Washington press:

Peter Baker at The New York Times: The Blockbuster That Wasn’t: Mueller Disappoints the Democrats. [I skimmed the story, and could find no quotes from Democrats holding elected office. Several prominent experts were quoted arguing Mueller’s testimony was valuable.]

Sharon LaFraniere, Michael S. Schmidt, Noah Weiland and Adam Goldman at The New York Times: Mueller’s Labored Performance Was a Departure From His Once-Fabled Stamina.

Susan Glasser at The New Yorker: “Accountability”? The Mueller Hearing Is How Trump Escapes. [FYI: Susan Glasser is married to Peter Baker of the NYT.]

Some serious reactions to Mueller’s testimony:

Former Republican Jennifer Rubin: Mueller didn’t fail. The country did.

Being thousands of miles away from home in Portugal, a country that 45 years ago was in the grasp of a brutal dictatorship, gives me an interesting perspective on former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Wednesday testimony and on the now nearly forgotten — was it only a week ago? — racist call for four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

I worry that we — the media, voters, Congress — are dangerously unserious when it comes to preservation of our democracy. To spend hours of airtime and write hundreds of print and online reports pontificating about the “optics” of Mueller’s performance — when he confirmed that President Trump accepted help from a hostile foreign power and lied about it, that he lied when he claimed exoneration, that he was not completely truthful in written answers, that he could be prosecuted after leaving office and that he misled Americans by calling the investigation a hoax — tells me that we have become untrustworthy guardians of democracy.

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

David Corn at Mother Jones: Mueller Reminds the Public: Trump Betrayed the United States.

There’s an old saying in newsrooms: News is stuff that people have forgotten. Robert Mueller’s dramatic appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning was a striking reminder of this adage. The former special counsel did not drop any new revelations about the Trump-Russia affair. Yet in a simple but important manner, he reiterated the basics of this scandal—perhaps the most consequential political scandal in American history. These are the fundamentals that have often been subsumed by all the never-ending partisan squabbling and by the ongoing crusade mounted by Donald Trump and his defenders to distract from his perfidy. These are the facts that Trump has refused to acknowledge, and they are the facts that taint his presidency and undermine its legitimacy.

In his opening statement, Mueller emphasized the key finding from his report: “The Russian government interfered in our election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And during the questioning, Mueller repeated the conclusion previously reached by the US intelligence community that Russia conducted this covert operation to help Trump get elected. “Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?” Mueller was asked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). He replied with one word: “Yes.” Lofgren followed up: “And which candidate would that be?” Mueller responded, “Well, it would be Trump.”

So Russia attacked an American election to help Trump. And what did Trump do? “The Trump campaign wasn’t exactly reluctant to take Russian help,” Lofgren remarked to Mueller. “You wrote it expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, isn’t that correct.”

Mueller answered with another brief sentence: “That’s correct.” That is, Trump sought to exploit a foreign adversary’s clandestine assault. And as Mueller noted in his report, during the campaign Trump dismissed the notion that Russia was intervening in the election, and after he was elected he continued to deny “that Russia aided his election.”

Click the link to read the rest.

David Graham at The Atlantic: The Most Revealing Exchange of the Mueller Hearing.

There’s a logical disconnect in volume 2 of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that is unmissable to any careful reader.

As Mueller explains in the report, a charge of obstruction of justice requires three elements: an obstructive act, a nexus with an official proceeding, and corrupt intent. And in the report, Mueller’s team laid out several cases where President Donald Trump committed an obstructive act, in connection with an official proceeding, with what Mueller’s team concluded could be a corrupt intent.

But because Mueller had decided at the outset of his report that he could not and would not charge the president with crimes, thanks to Justice Department guidance and in the interest of fairness, Mueller did not make the otherwise obvious jump from laying out the ways that Trump’s behavior met the three-prong test to actually stating that Trump obstructed justice.

During today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries sought to demonstrate the disconnect by walking Mueller through the three-prong test.

“Let me refer you to page 87 and 88 of volume 2 where you conclude the attempt to remove the special counsel would qualify as an obstructive act if it would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand-jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry. Correct?” Jeffries asked.

“Yes,” Mueller said, confirming the obstructive act.

“Yes,” Mueller said, confirming the obstructive act.

“Your report found on page 89, volume 2, that substantial evidence indicates that by June 17, the president knew his conduct was under investigation by a federal prosecutor who would present any evidence of federal crimes to a grand jury. True?” Jeffries asked.

“True,” Mueller said, confirming the nexus to an official proceeding.

Jeffries then moved on to the third element, corrupt intent, and Mueller once again effectively affirmed the point:

Jeffries: Is it fair to say the president viewed the special counsel’s investigation as adverse to his own interest?

Mueller: I think that generally is true.

Jeffries: The investigation found evidence, quote, “that the president knew that he should not have directed Don McGahn to fire the special counsel.” Correct?

Mueller: Where do you have that quote?

Jeffries: Page 90, volume 2. “There’s evidence that the president knew he should not have made those calls to McGahn,” closed quote.

Mueller: I see that. Yes, that’s accurate.

Mueller, seeing the trick, tried to cut it off. “Let me just say, if I might, I don’t subscribe necessarily to your—the way you analyzed that. I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark, but I’m not supportive of that analytical charge,” he said.

Graham writes that Mueller tried to backtrack, but the cat was out of the bag. Ted Lieu did something similar; head over the The Atlantic to read more.

This piece by Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg is worth a read: Worst Part of the Mueller Hearings? Republican Conspiracy Theories.

Instead of reading carefully into the evidence and finding contradictions or loose ends, House Republicans largely busied themselves with conspiracy theories. It wasn’t Donald Trump and his campaign who welcomed and benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election; it was Hillary Clinton! Never mind what U.S. intelligence agencies and Senate investigators have concluded. Never mind that this reality-denying line of inquiry left lawmakers defending Wikileaks and even, seemingly, the Russian agents indicted by Mueller.

For these Republicans, it’s still supposedly inexplicable that the FBI started investigating in the first place. In their stated conception of things, only partisanship and hatred of the president could explain such an otherwise odd decision to look into the rich web of shady contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians. And yet those partisan and hateful investigators didn’t leak anything about the probe when it would’ve put Trump’s election in jeopardy; didn’t indict or recommend impeachment of the president; and didn’t rush to testify to Congress about any of it.

Meanwhile, with the notable exception of Texas Representative Will Hurd, Republicans showed no interest at all in the national-security implications of Russia’s interference. And remember, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still blocking bipartisan legislation to strengthen U.S. defenses against future attacks.

These are the same Republicans, after all, who spent years looking into conspiracy theories about the deaths of Americans in Benghazi in 2012 without ever attending to the real security vulnerabilities that contributed to them. It was far more important to feed the Republican marketplace with loony ideas about how President Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) actively welcomed the disaster than to figure out what had actually gone wrong or what to do about it.

I’ll end with this tweet from the woman who should be president, written after Trump’s latest Nazi/KKK rally.