Thursday ReadsPosted: August 29, 2019
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I’m running late again, because I’ve been trying to find any good news in this nightmare dystopia we are living in. But there simply isn’t much to be optimistic about. Here’s the latest.
The New York Times: Comey Is Criticized in Watchdog Report Over Handling of Memos About Trump.
The Justice Department inspector general released on Thursday a report that was highly critical of the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey’s handling of memos detailing his interactions with the president, accusing him of setting “a dangerous example” for officials with access to government secrets.
The findings were the result of a lengthy investigation by Michael E. Horowitz, the inspector general, who examined whether Mr. Comey had acted inappropriately when he gave one of the memos to a confidant who later provided its contents to The New York Times. Mr. Comey has said he helped make the information public in part to bring about the appointment of a special counsel.
“Comey violated F.B.I. policy and the requirements of his F.B.I. employment agreement when he chose this path,” the report said.
Oh really? Why should we trust anything that comes out of the Trump/Barr injustice department? And the report also found that Comey didn’t reveal any classified information.
Mr. Comey responded by noting that the report found he had violated no laws and criticized those who had accused him of lying or leaking information.
“I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a ‘sorry we lied about you’ would be nice,” he wrote on Twitter, challenging his critics to stop trusting “people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president.”
He’s right about that. Now when will Comey apologize to Hillary Clinton and the millions of Americans who voted for her?
But DOJ doesn’t care about laws anymore, just what’s best for Trump. Otherwise they’d be revealing what happened to that investigation of the leaks from the NY office of the FBI to Rudy Giuliani in 2016.
Yesterday, former defense secretary James Mattis gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic. Mattis has a book coming out, but will he speak out and inform the public about Trump’s behind the scenes behavior? Of course not. Politico: Mattis says he owes Trump silence, but won’t keep quiet ‘forever.’
Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in a new interview he feels duty-bound to keep quiet his personal opinions of President Donald Trump’s leadership, but revealed his obligation to refrain from criticism of the current commander-in-chief is “not eternal.”
“The duty of silence,” Mattis explained. “If you leave an administration, you owe some silence.”
“When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country,” he continued, arguing that “we have to give the people who are protecting us some time to carry out their duties without me adding my criticism to the cacophony that is right now so poisonous.”
Pressed on whether he bears a responsibility to warn Americans about a potentially unfit president, Mattis insisted it was inappropriate to “endanger the country by attacking the elected commander in chief.”
But Mattis also indicated he may soon more vocally challenge the president and speak out about his time leading Trump’s Defense Department. “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever,” he said.
I have to agree with Sharlet on this one.
Awhile back, I was feeling somewhat hopeful that House Democrats would fight back against Trump, but they seems to have been stymied by his obstructionism. Is anything even happening on the impeachment front?
Abigail Tracy at Vanity Fair: An “Imperfect Strategy”: Even Democrats Sound Confused about Whether They’re Impeaching Trump.
Last week, Congressman Ben Ray Luján, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made waves when he became the 127th Democrat in the House to endorse an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump.“I support moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable,” Luján said. There was just one problem: Hasn’t the impeachment inquiry already begun?
It’s hard to get a straight answer out of Democrats. During a press conference on July 26, days after Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said for the first time that his panel was “in effect” conducting an impeachment inquiry. In court documents filed that day, the committee wrote that articles of impeachment “are under consideration.” About two weeks later, Nadler seemed to break news again when he declared in a CNN interview that “formal impeachment proceedings” were under way. But his exact rhetoric was cagey. No formal vote has been taken by the House. Nadler said he hoped to “vote to vote articles of impeachment to the House floor” by the end of the year. “Or we won’t,” he added. “That’s a decision that we’ll have to make. But that’s exactly the process we’re in right now.”
The key to deciphering Nadler’s rhetorical mumbo jumbo is to understand the political quandary facing Democrats. For Speaker Pelosi, the top priority in 2020 is maintaining her Democratic majority—and that means doing whatever it takes to protect so-called majority makers or frontline Democrats who either flipped Republican seats or won districts that swung for Trump in 2016. “The public isn’t there on impeachment,” she argued during a conference call with her caucus last Friday, according to a congressional source. The numbers back her up: A recent Monmouth University pollfound that 72% of Democrats support impeaching Trump, but only 35% of respondents feel the same.
This leaves Pelosi somewhat torn between the wings of her party. But the polling also explains why the Speaker is leaving the decision to support an inquiry up to her members.
I don’t understand how the public is going to get there if Democrats don’t hold hearings that will shock them into demanding action.
At the New Yorker, Adam Gopnick also tries to explain Pelosi’s strategy: Another Look at Impeachment, at the End of a Long Summer.
Pelosi is focussed on the welfare of the Democratic representatives who were elected in purple districts, or even in red ones, who are telling her, directly and indirectly, that an impeachment inquiry and proceedings will alienate their constituents, and possibly convince them that it is all just playing politics or intended for partisan gain, especially since no conviction is likely to result in the Senate. Nor, given Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s contempt for settled constitutional procedure, is there even likely to be the trial that an impeachment constitutionally demands….
The principled case, now and then, is summed up in three words: Trump’s a crook. If the phrase deliberately left open by the Founders to be defined as “high crimes and misdemeanors” does not apply to the evidence of Trump’s conduct over the past three years, then it would seem to have no meaning at all. Any one of half a dozen scandals that would have been the immediate cause of an impeachment inquiry into—and, before that happened, of universal cries for the resignation of—any previous President are still open. His former personal lawyer is serving a three-year prison sentence for crimes including campaign-finance violations that involved paying off two women, reportedly with Trump’s knowledge, to remain silent about their relationships with him; Trump himself continues to profit while and through holding public office. Above all stands his record of open engagement with foreign autocrats against American interests and against democracy itself, and, with it, a record of attempting to obstruct justice to obscure inquiry into any such engagement. Looking at this record, and remembering Bill Clinton’s impeachment for lying about a consensual sexual encounter, or the attacks on Jimmy Carter for supposedly not keeping his peanut warehouse sufficiently sealed off from the Presidency, and one can almost despair for the country.
Trump is getting away with his criminal behavior because of his blatant, public criminality.
The protection that Trump has is the level and the energy and the somewhat awe-inspiring completeness of his corruption. Not only has there never been anything like it in American history; there has never been anything like it in the modern history of democracies. He makes Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi look like Alexander Hamilton, Richard Nixon like a statesman who set a few feet wrong. Nixon could have promised, explicitly or not, to pardon the Watergate figures whose sentencing by Judge John Sirica opened the dam releasing floods of information about his Administration. He didn’t, because, in that quaint day, it was apparent that a President offering a pardon to his subordinates, even sotto voce, was unimaginable….
The task of holding Trump accountable becomes more urgent for a simple reason: he’s getting worse. Apparently emboldened by what he sees as his acquittal in the Mueller report, he feels free to execute his own vision of the Presidency. His behavior during the past few weeks—from insulting the Prime Minister of Denmark for her dismissal of his desire to buy Greenland, to cravenly defending Vladimir Putin at the G-7 meeting in Biarritz, and touting one of his own resorts as the site of the next—mark a man out of control, now supported only by dutiful and amoral loyalists.
I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.
And what about our hopes of beating Trump next year? Well, if Biden is the nominee, I think we’ll lose. So much troubling stuff has come out about him and I’m sure there will be more to come. We’re still more than a year away from the election. Here’s the latest from The Daily Beast: A Racist Narrative’: Biden Warned of Welfare Moms Driving Luxury Cars.
In the fall of 1988, shortly after Congress had passed the first piece of welfare reform legislation in 50 years, Joe Biden, then a senator from Delaware, wrote a column in his local newspaper that leaned heavily on racial stereotypes in praise of the effort.
“We are all too familiar with the stories of welfare mothers driving luxury cars and leading lifestyles that mirror the rich and famous,” the column read. “Whether they are exaggerated or not, these stories underlie a broad social concern that the welfare system has broken down—that it only parcels out welfare checks and does nothing to help the poor find productive jobs.”
Biden’s argument, delivered in the pages of the Newark Post, was not a full embrace of the rhetoric of conservatives at the time, who warned that the indigent (in their estimation, mainly African-Americans) were using government assistance to supplement lavish lifestyles. But it certainly echoed it, adding to the perception that the problem wasn’t poverty itself but poor people abusing poverty-fighting programs.
“The thing that strikes me about the Biden quote is him acknowledging that it might not be true but then saying that doesn’t matter because perception becomes reality… that people’s attitudes need to be listened to and respected rather than corrected,” said Josh Levin, who wrote a book titled The Queen that traced the roots of the stereotype. Levin added that Biden’s line struck him as atypical of Democrats at the time.
Even if Biden were to win, we’d be stuck with a guy with this history. I don’t trust him.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread. I wish you all a peaceful Thursday.