Thursday Reads

Cliff Walk at Pourville, Claude Monet

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.

Boaters on the Seine at Bougival, Pierre Auguste Renoir

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 Twitterchallenging 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.”

Edward Henry Potthast, Children Playing at the Beach

“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.

Asshole.

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.”

Two Women Running on the Beach, Pablo Picasso

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….

Children playing on the beach, Mary Cassatt

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….

T Harbor at Lorient, Berthe Morisot

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.

 


40 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s an interesting non-political story.

    • dakinikat says:

      I love the beach pictures …

    • Enheduanna says:

      Very cool article BB. Thanks!

      Also agree the paintings especially lovely today. We could all use a day at the beach. 🙂

    • NW Luna says:

      Somehow I love this situation!

      This discovery challenges the long-held notion of linear evolution, in which one species disappears and is replaced by a new one.

      multiple different lineages coexisted…

      • dakinikat says:

        Yup. That’s really kewl isn’t it?

      • quixote says:

        The linear view of evolution was fading fast in the early 1900s already. It’s just taken this long to start to filter down to the media. Among evolutionary biologists it was a relic by the 1950s.

        Evolution prunes among a multitude of branches, which is another reason diversity is so important. Without diversity, evolution peters out and you’re left with same-old, same-old for the rest of all time. It works for some bacteria, but that does seem like a rather boring existence.

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. RonStill4Hills says:

    Beautiful paintings. If I ever saw the Monet at the top I don’t remember it.

    Brightened my day from afar!

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    I’ll admit to having a difficult time dealing with all the news lately. I never would have thought it would get this bad even knowing how awful Trump has been for years.

    But the truth is that no one has stopped him from behaving this way as POTUS. Those who could refused outright to confront him as we have come to learn many of them too are in the pockets of Russian oligarchs who write checks to their campaigns and interests. It appears that the entire congressional GOP has some relationship with a hostile nation bent on destroying our democracy and are just as happy to consent to their whims as is Trump himself.

    And there is no one as powerful as Moscow Mitch. He holds the keys to our democracy in his grubby little hands as he obstructs and obstructs to the detriment of the nation no holds barred.

    We accept the corruption out of the Dept of Justice under Barr. It is unimaginable that this separate entity is now in total control of going about the business of protecting Trump. It makes me sick to my stomach.

    I am committed to voting whoever the Dem nominee turns out to be. But I am not enthused. I cannot wrap my head around a Bernie Sanders or a Beto O’Rourke. Don’t get me started on Biden. Which leaves Booker, Harris, Warren. I like Castro but I doubt he has a chance to overcome the others. And I predict that Klobuchar will be gone soon after Iowa.

    It’s depressing. It weighs on me that this criminal in the White House continues to hold office when it is apparent that not only is he unfit, he also has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors”. I am unable to follow or accept Pelosi’s reasoning.

    Anyway, I feel terribly let down. No end in sight. A con man is running the country into the ground and nothing is happening to put a stop to the insanity.

    But as an aside I do love the paintings! At least there is still some small glimmer of beauty that can be admired before the world comes crashing to an end.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m glad I could cheer people up, even with the paintings. I have to admit I’m feeling really down these days. Every time I think it can’t get any worse, it does!

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    I’m looking forward to this! Goddess I miss Molly Ivins.

  7. NW Luna says:

    It keeps getting worse.

  8. Pilgrim says:

    BBoomer, I feel same as you about Joe Biden. I like Harris, Buttigieg. Warren would be ok; she is coherent. I like listening to Andrew Yang.

  9. NW Luna says:

    They hate women so much.

  10. RonStill4Hills says:

    Face it, Biden was a liar when he was at the top of his game. The fact that he his now a doddering confused retiree trying to hold on, isn’t helping.

    He is the wrong choice. It is not his FAULT that he is no longer fit, but it is obvious. IMO.

    • quixote says:

      He’s another Republican Not-So-Lite. He got elected since forever in Delaware because he always took care of the corporate interests sheltering behind the state’s welcoming rules for every sketchy business out there. If the Big Money can’t have the Dump (and they may not want his loose cannon methods much longer), then Biden is their safety bet.

      And then there’s all the racism and misogyny which he can’t even figure out why people hate it.

      Plus the fact that he’s obviously doddering at this point.

      What IS this Dem talent for pulling defeat from the jaws of victory?

  11. RonStill4Hills says:

    So let me get this straight, a woman whose kids was being bullied meets the school bus with an assault rifle? What? I meanwait a minute, WHAT? And she is not charged with anything? Not even terroristic threats?

    So when the next one shows up AT the school, what? Or the kids shows up at the bus stop with the weapon, then what?

    Unbelievable. They are so bound and determined to not get on the wrong sid eof gun worshipers that they are putting us ALL in the cross-hairs.

    The woman now claims that the bullying is a coincidence and that there were coyotes in the area that needed to be scared off. Add BIG FAT LIAR to the list of charges please.