Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

We seem to have lost many of our regular commenters. I hope it wasn’t something I said or did. Maybe, like me, you’re just exhausted and burned out by the awful things that are happening in our country. I just want to say that I miss you all and hope to see you again soon.

I can’t stop doing my posts. It has become a habit and a way for me to sort through the daily shocking events in Trump world.  Will we ever recover from his destructive attacks on the Constitution and on democracy itself? I really don’t know.

Today is the day of Trump’s super-spreader rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His deplorable supporters will travel from other states, stand or sit close together, and shout at the top of their lungs; and if they are infected, they’ll spread the virus to other people near them. And then the rallyers will travel back to their homes and spread the virus there. Trump is actively working to kill Americans.

Jonathan Swan at Axios: Trump: Expect “wild evening” in Tulsa, mask optional.

President Trump defended his decision to move ahead with a controversial large-scale Tulsa rally this weekend amid the pandemic, saying in an interview Friday with Axios that “we have to get back to living our lives” and “we’re going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma.”

Pressed on why he wasn’t using his presidential bully pulpitto encourage rally attendees to wear masks, Trump described masks as “a double-edged sword.” When asked if he recommended people wear them, he added: “I recommend people do what they want.”

Why it matters: Ahead of the rally expected to draw tens of thousands of supporters and protesters, the president’s comments underscore his skepticism of the effectiveness of strict enforcement of masks and social distancing to combat the virus that has killed more than 118,000 Americans and devastated the U.S. economy.

And his advice flies in the face of warnings from Trump’s own government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Later in the interview, talking about China’s renewed trouble with coronavirus, Trump said: “It’s hard to stop it. It’s the most contagious virus anyone’s ever seen. I could look at you, and all of a sudden you have the virus. Or vice versa.”

Trump doubled down on his tweeted threat against protesters.

The president stood by his tweet earlier Friday suggesting protesters in Tulsa should prepare to face physical force from Oklahoma law enforcement, saying, “That’s got to be the least controversial of my tweets.”

“Oklahoma’s much tougher on law and order” than some parts of the country, he said, and insisted that protests are packed with anarchists, agitators and looters. “They’re all together.”

He relished the lifting of a health and safety curfew in Tulsa for his supporters and said he has no intention of wearing a mask at the rally and that people should do what they want.

“I don’t feel that I’m in danger,” he said. “I’ve met a lot, a lot of people, and so far here I sit.” (Everyone who meets with Trump, including this reporter, is tested beforehand.)

That’s right. Around 9:30 last night, Barr tried to fire U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York. The New York Times: Barr Tries to Fire U.S. Attorney in Trump-Related Cases, but He Won’t Go.

Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday night abruptly tried to fire the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, who has investigated several of President Trump’s closest associates, but Mr. Berman said he would not leave.

The clash focused new attention on the efforts by Mr. Trump and his closest aides to rid the administration of officials whom the president views as insufficiently loyal. It also touched off a crisis within the Justice Department over one of its most prestigious jobs, at a time when the agency has already been roiled by questions over whether Mr. Barr has undercut its tradition of independence from political interference.

Mr. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his team have been at the forefront of corruption inquiries in Mr. Trump’s inner circle. They successfully prosecuted the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who went to prison, and have been investigating Mr. Trump’s current personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position,” Mr. Berman said in a statement, adding that he had learned that he was “stepping down” from a Justice Department news release.

Meanwhile, the virus is continuing to spread, especially in Trump-supporting states. NPR: Coronavirus Spread Hits 1-Day High, World Health Organization Says.

The coronavirus pandemic reached a new one-day high Thursday with 150,000 new confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Almost half of those cases were reported in the Americas, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.

“The world is in a new and dangerous phase,” Tedros said. “Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies, but the virus is still spreading fast. It is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.”

Tedros urged countries and organizations to continue to focus on the basics of prevention, including proper sanitation and social distancing. He also pointed to an increased concern about the spread of the coronavirus in refugee communities across the world as well as refugees’ precarious economic situations.

Trump just managed to destroy another U.S. institution–Voice of America. The Washington Post: How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America.

On Monday, President Trump’s long-deferred pick to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media finally started work after a bruising, two-year Senate confirmation battle.

By the end of Wednesday, Michael Pack had achieved a clean sweep of the top offices of every division he oversees — including venerable news outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

The swift purge of former appointees has increased the worry among Democrats and press freedom advocates that the Trump administration is attempting to gain control over an independent but federally funded media organization with among the largest audiences in the world. On its own, the Voice of America delivers television and radio programs to 236.6 million people — and in some countries dominated by state media, it is the only free and unshackled news source.

“USAGM’s role as an unbiased news organization is in jeopardy,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday in a statement. Pack, he added, “needs to understand that USAGM is not the Ministry of Information.”

Yet the machinations of recent weeks also epitomize Trump’s knack for turning a relatively obscure issue or backwater agency into fodder for a culture war — with little more than a tweet.

The president first nominated Pack, who is in his mid-60s, for the USAGM job in 2018. Pack is revered in Republican circles as something of a unicorn — a documentary filmmaker with solid conservative credentials (he served as president of the Claremont Institute, a prominent think tank) who could also make PBS-quality work. His projects have included “God and the Inner City,” about three faith-based organizations; a film on the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress; and an appreciative documentary about the life of Clarence Thomas, featuring extensive interviews with the Supreme Court justice.

More of the redacted sections of the Mueller report have become available. Two takeaways:

Buzzfeed News: Roger Stone Told Trump In Advance WikiLeaks Would Release Documents Harmful To Clinton Campaign, Aides Claimed.

Donald Trump was told in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing documents embarrassing to the Clinton campaign and subsequently informed advisors that he expected more releases would be coming, according to newly unredacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

In July 2016, political consultant Roger Stone told Trump as well as several campaign advisors that he had spoken with Julian Assange and that WikiLeaks would be publishing the documents in a matter of days. Stone told the then-candidate via speakerphone that he “did not know what the content of the materials was,” according to the newly unveiled portions of the report, and Trump responded “oh good, alright” upon hearing the news. WikiLeaks published a trove of some 20,000 emails Russians hacked from the Democratic National Committee on July 22 of that year.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told federal investigators that he overheard the phone call between Stone and Trump. Agents were also told by former campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that Stone had spoken several times in early June of something “big” coming from WikiLeaks. Assange first mentioned having emails related to Clinton on June 12.

The new revelations are the strongest indication to date that Trump and his closest advisors were aware of outside efforts to hurt Clinton’s electoral chances, and that Stone played a direct role in communicating that situation to the Trump campaign. Trump has publicly denied being aware of any information being relayed between WikiLeaks and his advisors.

CNN: Mueller raised possibility Trump lied to him, newly unsealed report reveals.

Special counsel Robert Mueller examined whether President Donald Trump lied to him in written answers during the Russia investigation, a possibility House Democrats have said they continue to look into even after Trump’s impeachment….

A key part of the re-released report Friday highlights how Trump didn’t disclose to Mueller the extent of his conversations with Stone.
Trump was careful to work with his lawyers on any responses he gave to the special counsel. The President ultimately responded under oath in writing to Mueller’s questions, though Mueller conceded in his final report some of the answers were insufficient.
Trump answered that he hadn’t remembered discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. But Mueller found that Trump had had conversations with Stone and others about WikiLeaks, the newly unsealed report says.

Much more on the newly released information from the report at CNN.

Those are the stories that caught my eye this morning. What are you reading and thinking about?

23 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Hey, bb, dak, JJ! I may be one of those “missing in action” for awhile because I just had to take a little break from the madness. Sometimes it becomes so overpowering, knowing that no matter how dire it has become, there is very little we can do about it but try to hang on to a date that is months away from hopefully ending this nightmare.

    But I do manage to read you 3 every day. It is the one place I am assured reflects my own point of view but delivered with facts, insights, and humor.

    We have all been together here in “virtual reality” for so long I have come to regard you as friends. We go all the way back to 2007 and the first Hillary campaign and we have seen and heard a great deal. Some disappointing. Some uplifting. Some so outrageous it hurts.

    But we are thankfully still here. Good, bad, or indifferent, your words spreading across the page day after day reminds me, and I am sure others, that we are not alone. That we share the same values, the same love of country, the same issues that make a difference in a progressive life.

    I am here. So are you. We take comfort in knowing that we are not alone no matter how dark it gets out there. We see the evil and we respond. A post here. A thought there. A shared experience that draws us together whether it be from here in Massachusetts to Georgia and right down to New Orleans!

    You guys rock! So smart! So knowledgable! So turned it! So funny! So kind!

    I am here. Never going anywhere. Keep on doing what you do. You are all that good.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks so much for the feedback, Pat. I have to take breaks too. I used to love following politics minute by minute, but things have gotten so ugly that I’m mostly losing myself in novels now. I can’t watch the nighttime shows on MSNBC that used to love. Trump has ruined everything.

      I’m just glad you’re still here.

      • quixote says:

        Me too. Still here. Feeling decidedly washed up.

        The gentleman with the cat cheered me up, though. So stiff. So incapable of figuring out what to do with that cat. I laughed out loud.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Oh, I’m so glad you liked that one. I loved it. I also loved the one with the rabbits and the mom holding a cat too.

    • dakinikat says:

      This place has been my safe space for so long and the last couple of years have been exhausting and maddening and flummoxing! I just hope my rants of late out of all of that haven’t driven any one off! I’m so sorry if I said anything! I love you all!!!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    My brother shot some video of the Juneteenth/Black Lives Matter celebration in Cambridge yesterday.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      So uplifting! Just hoping these same kids go to the polls and exercise their right to vote in November.

      Vote Blue in 2020 and send that hateful man and his atrocious family packing!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for watching it. John said there were older people there too, but so many young people. It’s encouraging.

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  6. jslat says:

    I read this blog every day. But don’t have the energy to comment. I’m in outrage overload. Thanks to the 3 of you for keeping up the good fight. We are here with you.

  7. Brin says:

    I seldom comment but I come here daily just to hear/read conversations from reasonable people. Right now it’s hard for me to participate but I appreciate all of you.

  8. T says:

    Hello – I, too, read every single day….since 2007! Not sure what I would do without your voices of reason, your knowledge, and your energy to bring us information that I might not ordinarily find. And, I feel as if I “know” you all, that you’re all my friends somehow, people I check in with at the end of the day. We’ve been through a lot together! Just wanted to say thank you!

  9. roofingbird says:

    Even though you show up on FB, I haven’t been able to link through to comment. I thought it was some setting in my new phone, but I’m not sure now. I have to go to WP directly to like or comment on your posts. Maybe others are having problems.
    I’m batch reading because it takes some time. The phone screen is tiny and only shows half a page at a time, or is too tiny or I new glasses, or I don’t know what. It will be better when I get other equipment.
    I agree with all the others, love your stuff, you feel like friends after all this time, and I’m not going anywhere.