Friday Reads: Disassembling the People’s Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Justice

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The Republicans are doing everything they can to appoint unqualified judges and agency and cabinet heads to ensure nothing  more than white, straight, “christian” hegemony with a radical right bend. Many appointments are political and strictly related to monetizing public goods for the very few.  What has gone on in the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and most of the other institutes of major importance should be criminal and quite possibly is.  Today, the headlines tell us we see the failure of our agencies and the failure of the Trumpist regime. However, isn’t this what they–under the influence of the likes of Steven Bannon– planned all along?  Wasn’t the destruction of our democratic institutions the plan and not the bug?

So much relies on the courts these days that it’s now quite apparent that Moscow Mitch’s wrangling to dominate SCOTUS may pay off big in the fall.  But today, we still see some good coming out of some Federal Judges and today’s news shows that Barr’s justice department may be headed for some trouble.  “Judge cites Barr’s ‘misleading’ statements in ordering review of Mueller report redactions” is the headline from WAPO.

A federal judge in Washington sharply criticized Attorney General William P. Barr on Thursday for a “lack of candor,” questioning the truthfulness of the nation’s top law enforcement official in his handling of last year’s report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, overseeing a lawsuit brought by EPIC, a watchdog group, and BuzzFeed News, said he saw serious discrepancies between Barr’s public statements about Mueller’s findings and the public, partially redacted version of that report detailing the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Because of those discrepancies, Walton ruled, the judge would conduct an independent review of Mueller’s full report to see whether the Justice Department’s redactions were appropriate

“In the Court’s view, Attorney General Barr’s representation that the Mueller Report would be ‘subject only to those redactions required by law or by compelling law enforcement, national security, or personal privacy interests’ cannot be credited without the Court’s independent verification in light of Attorney General Barr’s conduct and misleading public statements about the findings in the Mueller Report,” Walton wrote.

It is highly unusual for a federal judge to publicly question the honesty of the attorney general, but Walton’s opinion comes amid growing rancor between the judicial branch of the government and the executive and legislative branches. Earlier on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he regretted comments he had made about two conservative Supreme Court justices — comments that drew a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. after many Republicans called them threatening. President Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly attacked federal judges, drawing condemnation from Democrats.



From the NYTimes’ Charlie Savage:

A federal judge on Thursday sharply criticized Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that Mr. Barr put forward a “distorted” and “misleading” account of its findings and lacked credibility on the topic.

Mr. Barr could not be trusted, Judge Reggie B. Walton said, citing “inconsistencies” between the attorney general’s statements about the report when it was secret and its actual contents that turned out to be more damaging to President Trump. Mr. Barr’s “lack of candor” called into question his “credibility and, in turn, the department’s” assurances to the court, Judge Walton said.

The judge ordered the Justice Department to privately show him the portions of the report that were censored in the publicly released version so he could independently verify the justifications for those redactions. The ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking a full-text version of the report.

Read Judge Walton’s ruling.

Image: In 1980, President Jimmy Carter met with members of the new National Association of Women Judges, many of whom he had appointed to the federal bench.

In 1979, 23 women were appointed to the federal bench—more than doubling the number of women appointed to life-tenured judgeships in the previous 190 year history of the United States. The doors they opened never swung shut again. Forty years later, women make up one-third of the courts’ full-time, active Article III judges

Here’s some further analysis from Marcie Wheeler of Empty Wheel.

Where this ruling may matter, though, is in four areas:

  • DOJ hid the circumstances of how both Trump and Don Jr managed to avoid testifying under a grand jury redaction. Walton may judge that these discussions were not truly grand jury materials.
  • DOJ is currently hiding details of people — like KT McFarland — who lied, but then cleaned up their story (Sam Clovis is another person this may be true of). There’s no reason someone as senior as McFarland should have her lies protected. All the more so, because DOJ is withholding some of the 302s that show her lies. So Walton may release some of this information.
  • Because Walton will have already read the Stone material — that part that most implicates Trump — by the time Judge Amy Berman Jackson releases the gag in that case, he will have a view on what would still need to be redacted. That may mean more of it will be released quickly than otherwise might happen.
  • In very short order, the two sides in this case will start arguing over DOJ’s withholding of 302s under very aggressive b5 claims. These claims, unlike most of the redactions in the Mueller Report, are substantively bogus and in many ways serve to cover up the details of Trump’s activities. While this won’t happen in the near term, I expect this ruling will serve as the basis for a similar in camera review on 302s down the road.



And we continue to learn that that the Trumpist response to the Coronoa Virus was doomed from the start.  This is from Time magazine.


“We have contained this. I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in a television interview on Feb. 25, echoing Trump’s tweeted declaration that the virus was “very much under control” in the United States.

But it wasn’t, and the administration’s rosy messaging was fundamentally at odds with a growing cacophony of alarm bells inside and outside the U.S. government. Since January, epidemiologists, former U.S. public health officials and experts have been warning, publicly and privately, that the administration’s insistence that containment was—and should remain—the primary way to confront an emerging infectious disease was a grave mistake.

In congressional testimony, in medical webcasts and in private discussions with health officials, they warned that the unique features of this flu-like virus made it impossible to control, and that the administration must use any time that containment measures might buy to prepare the country for an inevitable outbreak. The administration was using all its resources to blockade the doors, they warned, but the enemy was likely already in the house.

“The current U.S. policy to deny visas to travelers from China and to quarantine returning Americans is not the right approach,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and expert in disease outbreak detection and response at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, testified to Congress on February 5. “I am deeply concerned that these measures will make us less safe by diverting public health resources from higher priority disease mitigation approaches.”

Two days earlier, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb had warned “we have to assume it’s already here and circulating.”

When it finally became indisputable that an outbreak was underway in Washington state, the administration was slow to catch up. There were not enough COVID-19 testing kits, hotlines were overwhelmed, and hospitals and public health departments were hobbled by a lack of reliable statistics on the spread of the disease. Experts say the U.S. response is now likely weeks—if not months—behind schedule.

Taking the Political view point is this from WAPO: “The Trump administration’s greatest obstacle to sending a clear message on coronavirus may be Trump himself”.By  Toluse Olorunnipa 

As leading public health experts from across the government have tried to provide clear and consistent information about the deadly coronavirus, they have found their messages undercut, drowned out and muddled by President Trump’s push to downplay the outbreak with a mix of optimism, bombast and pseudoscience.

Speaking almost daily to the public about an outbreak that has spread across states and rocked the markets, Trump has promoted his opinions and at times contradicted the public health experts tasked with keeping Americans safe.

The president has repeatedly misstated the number of Americans who have tested positive for the virus and claimed it would “miraculously” disappear in the spring. He has given a false timeline for the development of a vaccine, publicly questioned whether vaccinations for the flu could be used to treat the novel coronavirus and dismissed the World Health Organization’s coronavirus death rate estimate, substituting a much lower figure and citing a “hunch.”

On Wednesday night, Trump made an uncritical reference to people who continue to go to work while infected with the coronavirus — placing himself at odds with doctors who have strongly urged those with even minor symptoms to stay home.

“If, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by sitting around, and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity in which he disputed the WHO fatality rate.

On Thursday morning, Trump said his comments were misconstrued and blamed the Democrats and the media. “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work,” he tweeted.

Why can’t he just shut up?

So that’s the two stories I’m following today.  I have to go have lunch with a colleague but I’ll be back to check the thread!

My photo choices today mostly come from the article “1979: The Year Women Changed the Judiciary” and is honor of our topic today and Women’s History month.

In 1979, the number of women serving as federal judges more than doubled. In this series, learn more about the trailblazers who reshaped the Judiciary.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


33 Comments on “Friday Reads: Disassembling the People’s Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Justice”

  1. dakinikat says:

    See you later!!! Have a good weekend!

  2. NW Luna says:

    Thanks for putting up the pictures of the women judges — good to learn about these pioneers!

  3. NW Luna says:

    More tax cuts for industry. Somehow I doubt most companies will use it to help their employees. Would be better to go directly to people out of work, which is being considered (!) but would be an addition to the relief for businesses.

    White House is considering tax relief for airline, travel, and cruise industries hurt by coronavirus

    The travel and tourism industries are facing their worst crisis since the 2001 terrorist attacks, prompting White House officials to consider deferring taxes for the cruise, travel and airline industries to stem the economic fallout of the coronavirus, according to two people briefed on the discussions.

    In addition to helping sectors like hospitality and airlines, the White House also is considering helping people unable to work because they are forced to stay home, as well as small businesses who may need some “cash flow” help amid the outbreak, Kudlow said.

  4. I’m of the ‘no wind so ill it doesn’t blow some good’ ilk. That said, this is a particularly perverse application of that philosophy …
    What if all those cranky, old, white, glued to Faux News people buy Trump’s line that CoVid-19 is a hoax and continue to stick their fingers where they don’t belong. Add to them the rabid magats that attend Trump’s rallies. It could be that, by November, so few of the base survive that the Democrats will win by default!

    • Enheduanna says:

      I don’t think this virus cares if you’re a good person. I tend more toward the Malthusian catastrophe line of thought. We’re wrecking the planet and it’s fighting back. Overpopulation + warmer moist climate = pandemic breeding ground. I just hope some of humanity survives and they actually learn from history for once.

      • All true. However, those who reject reality, and don’t take normal sanitary precautions, increase the likelihood of becoming infected. The lethality of the disease increases with age. Faux News caters to a particularly antiquated demographic.

        • Enheduanna says:

          I’ve been hoping demographic change cures our ills for a long time now. But I’ve been flabbergasted by the level of support Dumbo has and the lack of support for putting a woman in charge – no matter how much more qualified she is than the man.

          The problem is – sitting at home in front of the teevee is probably pretty safe. It’s the coastal states that run more risk of exposure due to travel patterns.

          It will be interesting to see how Dumbo rallies look a few weeks from now if the virus keeps spreading.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    Hachette cancels plan to publish Woody Allen memoir

    Hachette has dropped plans to publish a memoir by Woody Allen, the Oscar-winning film director who has been accused of sexually abusing his daughter. “We take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly,” the publishing company said in a statement.

    Allen, 84, denies the accusations by his daughter Dylan Farrow, which were the subject of two investigations. The director was never charged.

    This week, Hachette announced publication of Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, scheduled for April. That prompted controversy including statements by Dylan Farrow and her brother Ronan Farrow, a journalist whose work has documented alleged sexual abuse by powerful men and fuelled the #MeToo movement and who is published by Hachette.

    On Thursday, staff at Hachette’s New York office staged a walkout. “The biggest complaint,” a staff member speaking on condition of anonymity told Refinery 29, “is that we feel strongly about everyone’s right to tell their own story, but we don’t agree with giving Woody Allen a platform with which to tell it that includes distribution, marketing, publicity. “I think we feel he does not deserve a platform, that by publishing him we are in some way validating his story.”

  7. NW Luna says:

    Huh. Thought Dems were supposed to be doing the voter fraud.

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Trump is a fucking moron.

    • bostonboomer says:

      • bostonboomer says:

        He can’t even remember Inslee’s name. Dipshit.

      • quixote says:

        What IS it with him and this verbal tic of shoving in a belligerent Okay? everywhere.

        /*endless screaming*/

      • NW Luna says:

        And that “snake” is doing a helluva better job handling the outbreak than you are, Mr. Orange Bloatus. He’s sticking to the facts of what’s known and not feeding us egotistical blatherings. The UW lab’s been up and running and can do 1,000 tests/day now if needed.

        King County bought a motel with the right HVAC construction to use for isolation for people who can’t have isolation at home. Also modular tiny houses, which may be offered to homeless people who need isolation.

        • NW Luna says:

          Being called a snake by Trump is a compliment. He can’t stand that Inslee stood up at a news conference and told him arming teachers was a bad idea, would not lower risks for school shootings and that we need sensible gun control. Oh, and that our AG Ferguson has sued him 30-some times and won most of them.

    • quixote says:

      I’m going to have to buy a bib. I’ll be reading along, minding my own business, and more and more, stuff like this crops up and there’s tea *everywhere*.

  10. NW Luna says:

    I hadn’t known Biden had a stuttering condition.

  11. NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      It’s this business of fighting the same effin battle over and over and over again.

      People love this stuff. They can do crap and suddenly it has meaning. Yay.

      (There’s something about all the competent women being hounded out of the race and being left with hair-sniffing Unka Joe that has gotten on my last nerve.)

      • dakinikat says:

        yes yes and yes! It makes me want to go to the monastery up there in the Everest Valley of Nepal and see no one and hear no one …