Day 821 – Mueller Fallout

Yesterday’s news was dominated by discussion and analysis of items from the Mueller report. The overall reaction from the politicians and journalists who read the entire report was one of shock.  Many felt the report depicted an even more stunningly dysfunctional White House than was previously known.  And many felt that the accumulation of evidence painted a picture of criminal obstruction of justice by Trump beyond the pervasive unethical and corrupt conduct.

One of the people who drew this conclusion was presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who was the first candidate to publicly call for an impeachment hearing of Trump.  Warren noted that the possible impact of impeachment on the 2020 election was not a consideration–it was the duty of Congress to consider impeachment as a matter of principle, given the extensive corruption in the White House. Even though impeachment would never pass the Senate, a house impeachment verdict would send a signal to the country that no president is above the law and that Democrats were the party upholding the rule of law in the face of a dishonest and corrupt president.

It also seems that Trump believed AG Barr’s dishonest summary of the Mueller report.  Trump seems to have expected that the release of the report would bolster his exoneration and boost his popularity and “ratings”.  But the opposite happened.  The report was a devastating exposé of corruption, lies and abuse of authority and Trump remains under intense criticism with his approval rating sinking three points, going from 40 to 37%.  Trump’s reaction was predictably rash and vulgar.  He went on a Twitter rampage yesterday, calling elements of the report “bullshit”, confirming his place as the least dignified president in modern history.

It’s clear from the Mueller report that Trump deserves impeachment.  As Senator Warren noted, “the evidence is overwhelming.” His conduct was significantly worse than Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, and struck at the heart of our Democratic system while at the same time debasing and besmirching the office of the president.  But while the political calculation ahead will be difficult for the Democrats, it’s important to note that the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton did not hurt the GOP in the next election.  They (barely) won the presidency with Dubya and retained control of the Senate.  It’s also important to keep in mind that the House should, at the very least, vote to censure the president, which is purely symbolic but nonetheless an expression of principle.

Here’s great coverage of the impeachment question in the New York Times by Michelle Goldberg:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/19/opinion/mueller-report-trump-barr-impeachment.html

Setting aside the collusion, corruption, obstruction of justice and pervasive dishonesty of this White House, there is another aspect of the horrible Trump train-wreck that we as activists can’t forgive or forget:

Russia cyber-attacked our democracy and election, and Trump did nothing, and Trump continues to do nothing.

This betrayal alone should merit impeachment.  But it’s also a compelling issue for the 2020 election.  Trump FAILED to protect us from Russian interference, which the Mueller report confirms in a big way.  And he continues to FAIL to protect us.  He’s weak on cyber security, weak on Russia, weak on defense.  We are less safe from Russia, not to mention China, North Korea and Iran, under a Trump presidency.  And this should matter to many voters.

Keep resisting…

 

Day 820 – “Dishonest, Unethical, Immoral and Unpatriotic”

There is WAY too much detail to convey from yesterday’s Mueller report, so let me summarize the major takeaways.

  • William Barr is an unAmerican stooge and lapdog to Donald Trump.  Barr lied to the press about many aspects of the Mueller report, including saying that “Trump cooperated completely” with Mueller, which page after page of the report contradicts.  Trump did everything he could to impede the investigation, including telling subordinates to lie to investigators.  Barr has disgraced himself, though he doesn’t seem to care.  He’s a member of the Trump cult.
  • Trump’s people colluded with Russia, but the collusion (coordinated cooperation) could not be proven to be a criminal conspiracy to the satisfaction of prosecutors.  As Adam Schiff said, the actions of Trump was “unquestionably dishonest, unethical, immoral and unpatriotic, and should be condemned by every American.”  They may not have risen to the level of a crime, but they were disgusting and disqualifying.
  • There was plenty of evidence of obstruction of justice by Trump, and it was Mueller’s expressed desire that since a president can’t be indicted while in office, Congress should see Mueller’s evidence (via the report) and determine whether the obstruction of justice merited action such as impeachment.  This was another area where Barr lied when characterizing the Mueller findings.
  • It is clear that many of Trump’s aides and inner circle endeavored on a daily basis to keep things away from Trump that he might otherwise have screwed up.  Or Trump told them to do something unethical and they agreed to his face, only to ignore the order later on.  Trump isn’t trusted or respected by his own people because he is so often unhinged and impulsive and incompetent.
  • It’s also clear that the Mueller probe spawned many other investigations that are still ongoing.  At least 14 major investigations are still underway by other agencies and jurisdictions that started with Mueller.
  • It appears that Republican Senator Richard Burr passed information on the Mueller investigation obtained from the FBI to Trump and the White House.  In other words, a Senator gave the subject of an investigation inside information on that investigation–which is deeply unethical and possibly illegal.  This alone should be a huge scandal, as it’s a betrayal of the American people to support a corrupt president.
  • The Mueller report is chocked full of scandalous items of information that, at the very least, we should be able to use against Trump and the GOP as we go into 2020.  For example, Trump did NOTHING to stop or impede the hacking of our elections by Russia, despite a mountain of evidence and pleas from our intelligence community.  And Trump and the GOP continue to put our system in danger to this very day.

It’s clear that Trump deserves impeachment, and it’s clear Trump expected to be impeached and his presidency ruined by Mueller’s probe. But with the 2020 election so close, it’s a risky political calculation to make–should Democrats move forward with impeachment knowing that the Senate is run by unethical Trump stooges, or should they save their energy for the 2020 election?  Perhaps they should try to censure Trump in the meantime.

There’s going to be a lot of continuing fallout from the Mueller report.  Barr and Trump are taking a beating in the press, so stay tuned to the developments and keep resisting…

Day 819 – Barr Is Trump’s Stooge

The redacted Mueller Report is scheduled to be released TODAY, supposedly at 11am.  But Attorney General William Barr scheduled a press conference at 9:30am to discuss the report before its release.  Barr’s announcement brought a chorus of criticism from former Justice Department officials who said such a presser went against Department tradition and protocol, while media observers agreed that the presser would simply be another chance for Barr to spin and create a narrative ahead of a report that seems increasingly likely to be damaging to Trump.  The whole circus begs the question, if the report is so exonerating to Trump, why would Trump and his surrogates, along with Barr, go to such lengths to manipulate our expectations and try to control the narrative?

It was also reported yesterday that Barr and the Justice Department have already discussed the Mueller report with the White House ahead of its release to Congress, which is perhaps the most outrageous thing Barr has done as Attorney General.  Barr took an oath to serve the American people, not the president, yet his actions in office have gone in the opposite direction.  Sharing an investigative report with the subject of that report before its release to authorities (Congress) is a massive betrayal of the public trust, and in its own way a perversion of justice, if not obstruction of justice.  It is now crystal clear that Barr is a partisan hack who works for Trump, putting party above country and putting Trump above the law.

Late last evening a group of House Democrats including several committee chairs sent a letter to Barr requesting that he cancel his ridiculous and unnecessary press conference and let the Mueller report speak for itself.  But that request has almost certainly fallen on deaf and unAmerican ears. Barr has revealed himself as a partisan hack and Trump stooge, willing to flush whatever was left of his reputation down the sewer to help a corrupt, dishonest and divisive president maintain power and escape responsibility for consorting with Russia and obstructing justice.  Like so many other people who have worked in Trump’s orbit, Barr’s cumulative actions have dishonored himself and his office.

Late last evening it was also reported by the Washington Post that the Mueller document will be “lightly redacted”, so it will be interesting to see just what “lightly” means, and whether or not the WaPo story was leaked by Republicans to try, once again, to manage expectations and spin a web of BS.

Regardless, today should prove to be an epic media circus, and it’s easy to imagine the day beginning with a storm of Tweets from the angry orange clown.

Set your sights on the 2020 election and keep resisting…

Day 818 – The Republican Subtext

It’s been a long day and I’m tired.  And I’m especially tired of Trump and his cadre of rogues and stooges, hacking away at our democracy one norm and one agency at a time.  To quote Jerry Maguire, every day under Trump is “a pride swallowing siege” as he Tweets ridiculous nonsense and/or grotesque vitriol.  And now, every time I hear his half-screeching, half-whining voice on television I start to vomit in my mouth.  But then I remind myself that my distress is exactly what his supporters want.  Trump could burn our democracy to the ground and shred the constitution and his cult wouldn’t care as long as the lib-tards were angry about it.  Take that for making us feel ashamed about our intolerance, racisim, sexism and homophobia!

But as I’ve written before in this blog, the stage was set for hatred long before Trump.  He is just the inevitable result of decades of Fox fear-mongering and Republican dog whistling.  Jamelle Bouie writes about this in an excellent column in yesterday’s New York Times.

He identifies in this excerpt Trump’s purpose in attacking Ilhan Omar:

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts accused Trump of “inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion.” That, of course, is the idea. Trump believes he benefits from the passions and anger stirred by racist demagoguery.

He then draws an obvious conclusion about the underlying racist, sexist, homophobic rhetoric of conservatives and Republicans:

Donald Trump has simply brought this rhetoric to the bully pulpit of the American presidency. He has taken everything coursing through the last 20 years of Republican politics and made it explicit. It now has an official seal of approval.

Here is the link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/16/opinion/trump-omar-9-11.html

 

Trump will continue to stoke fear, anger and resentment as we head toward the 2020 election.  These are the nefarious forces we must continue to resist…

Day 817 – Will Mueller Matter?

It was announced yesterday that the Justice Department will be releasing the redacted version of the Mueller report this Thursday morning.  The announcement sent the media into a frenzy of speculation because nobody has any idea if AG Barr will try to conceal any damning information, or if the two-year investigation even found anything damning that we don’t already know.

Some people on social media were urging followers to gear up for renewed calls for impeachment.  And there’s no president in our history more worthy of impeachment than Trump.  For starters, he’s an unindicted co-conspirator in felony election fraud. And he utterly failed (and continues to fail) to protect our democracy from hacking by Russia and others.  But consider two things.  First, the Senate is controlled by Republicans who have proven themselves prostitutes to power, especially leader Mitch McConnell, tolerating every scandal and outrage flowing from Trump.  It’s hard to imagine what might be in the Mueller report that could force them to stop putting party above country and greed above people.  Second, even if something horrible pushed Republicans to consider impeachment, the process could easily last beyond the 2020 election.  So as a practical matter, impeachment is an unrealistic long-shot.

Beyond the impeachable actions of Trump, it’s also a fact that he’s the most disgraceful, divisive, dishonest, vile, vain and vengeful president of our lifetimes. He has destroyed or degraded many of our agencies and damaged the legitimacy of many core democratic institutions, like our voting system and our justice system. He’s also harmed many of our international alliances and caused many people outside America to question our standing and legitimacy in the world community.  And he’s done everything possible to ruin and reverse our already lame response to climate change.  There could be no greater priority than to remove Trump from office as soon as possible.

Yet it’s highly likely that the 2020 election will be our only opportunity to end his reign. This route has a silver lining.  Losing the election won’t allow Trump to play quite the victim he would under impeachment.  Sure, he will scream “the election was rigged!” without a shred of evidence, but that’s a far cry from the division and animosity he would generate if impeached.  And it will greatly reduce the anger his supporters could stir up from his ouster. Losing the 2020 election would be a total rebuke of Trump and Trumpism, and winning is within our grasp as long as we remain united beyond the primary.

It’s also important that we help our fellow citizens in any way we can to flip the Senate.  Our Senators in New York State are not vulnerable, but Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been singularly and uniquely ruinous to the Senate, turning the great chamber into a purely partisan tool to subvert the will of the people, so the sooner we wrest control of the Senate from Republicans the better.  Imagine a Democratic president and a Democratic house with a Senate still held by Republicans and controlled by McConnell.  Years of stalling on judicial confirmations, years of denying the president a Supreme Court pick.  We’ve seen this movie before during the Obama years and it was an ugly disgrace thanks to McConnell.

It’s a mistake to expect that impeachment will be a magic cure for Trumpism.  Instead, we need to stay connected to the political process and eventually join in the hard work it will take to keep our district blue and rid the White House of the worst president ever.  Keep resisting…

Day 816 – A Divided Party?

Most of the media conversation over the weekend centered around the Julian Assange situation, Trump’s attack on Ilhan Omar, and the possibility that Trump might send detained immigrants to sanctuary cities.  But much of the social media discussion featured infighting by Democrats around whether or not they should defend Ilhan Omar, and whether or not Bernie Sanders was using Trumpian tactics on the campaign trail.

EJ Dionne published a thoughtful piece last night on which party was the more divided (Democrats) and what it means for the 2020 election.  Here’s an excerpt:

Democrats are more diverse than Republicans in almost every imaginable way: racially, ethnically, religiously and ideologically.  And the Democrats’ diversity is increasing because of the flood of new supporters fleeing President Trump’s GOP. Many of these newcomers are not registered as Democrats, meaning they won’t vote in most of the 2020 primaries and caucuses. But their ballots helped Democrats win control of the House.  As for the Republicans, they are, overwhelmingly, a party of whites and Christians. They tilt male, especially in their leadership: Among women in the House, 89 are Democrats; only 13 are Republicans.  The GOP is the party of older people; the Democrats are the party of the young, partly because of the racial and ethnic heterogeneity of the rising generations. In the 2018 House races, according to the exit polling, Republicans won 50 percent among those 45 and older but only 36 percent of those under 45 — and just 32 percent from the under-30s.

Link to full article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/democrats-need-to-pick-up-this-trait-republicans-need-to-nix-it/2019/04/14/0ea85f6e-5e19-11e9-a00e-050dc7b82693_story.html

I observed a Twitter conversation yesterday between two Democrats.  The first, a Bernie supporter, wrote that he would never vote for a “corporate Democrat” in the general election, while the second was criticizing the position of the first as ridiculous.

Aside from the nebulous meaning of “corporate Democrat,” there is no “corporate Democrat” remotely as corrupt, dishonest, or malignant as Trump.  Any of the Democrats would be a world of difference from Trump.  If we can’t agree on that, we’re screwed.  We can debate all we want about which contender will best represent our aspirations and which will have the best chance of beating Trump.  But if we don’t come together after the primary, we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face.

None of the Democratic contenders perfectly reflect my views on every issue.  Any vote I have ever cast was a compromise.  So it makes no sense to quarrel with the eventual nominee beyond trying to push them towards policies that we want.  It makes no sense to let the perfect outweigh the good.  To withhold a vote, or vote for an independent or write-in, is a vote from Trump.  This isn’t a crazy opinion.  It’s a mathematical and logical fact.  If we want to defeat the worst president (by far) in modern history, we have to come together after the primary.  It will be especially difficult because Russia is already trying to pit Bernie supporters against everyone else, hoping to drive a wedge that will leave a bitter feeling and keep some people from the polls if Bernie isn’t nominated, or keep other people from the polls if he is.

I don’t like Bernie Sanders.  And I won’t vote for him in the primary.  But if he’s the eventual nominee, I’ll vote for him with the same determination I would for any other nominee.  Trump is an epic, historic disgrace, an utter disaster, a wrecking ball destroying years of hard work by liberals and progressives, a petty tyrant who would become a dictator if our system let him, and the GOP seems willing to let him as long as the rich get more tax cuts and the fanatics get another Supreme Court pick.  That’s the bottom line.  Whether we have single payer or Medicare-for-all pales in comparison.  Whether or not we raise the top marginal tax rate pales in comparison.  Policy debates are important, but they won’t matter if Trump is still in the White House in 2021.

Keep resisting…

Day 815 – Reject Bad “Journalists”

In recent years it’s been necessary to demand that various professions not protect their “bad” members.  We want doctors to reject bad doctors.  We want clergy to reject bad clergy.  And we want cops the reject bad cops.  Otherwise, people get hurt.  And it’s the same for journalists.  We need journalists to reject bad journalists.

First, we need the broader body of journalists to acknowledge that Fox “news” employees may have some characteristics in common with journalists, but the network is in reality a propaganda outlet pushing a destructive and divisive political agenda.  For thirty-plus years they have sowed the seeds of hatred, bigotry, misogyny and fear among their viewers.  For thirty-plus years they have worked to demonize science and learning and objective debate–not to mention liberals, feminists, Muslims and non-whites.  No wonder Trump and his core supporters get their marching orders from Fox.  And no wonder so many of them are neck-deep in grotesque and destructive conspiracy theories, like Hillary Clinton runs a pedophile ring!  Or Democrats are evil Communists and want to destroy America!  No other person has had such a negative impact on our culture, politics and democracy than Rupert Murdoch.  So when Trump’s cult shrugs off another one of his vile smears or epic scandals or daily lies or violations of the Constitution, real journalists need to acknowledge that this is the fruit of Rupert Murdoch’s hate machine.

Second, we need to distinguish journalism from crime.  It’s easy to forget that Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in the UK were busted for hacking the phones of many, many celebrities–as well as regular citizens–to publish humiliating tabloid stories.  It was a major scandal that proved Murdoch’s empire rested far more on sleaze than on anything resembling responsible journalism.  Which brings us to WikiLeaks, which may have been something resembling journalism way back when.  But WikiLeaks didn’t stay that way.  Here’s a great Twitter thread I’ve pasted together from writer Greg Olear (@gregolear) that puts Assange in perspective:

Whatever legitimate journalism Assange’s Wikileaks may’ve done previously, by 2016, he was an asset of Russian intelligence. The coordinated released of stolen Podesta emails an hour after the Access Hollywood tape dropped was not journalism; it was an act of cyber warfare.  In general, the indiscriminate dumping of sensitive documents stolen by hackers is also not journalism. This is something the Bolsheviks did with Romanov papers after the Revolution, BTW. It was done to sow chaos.  Assange was intimately connected with Edward Snowden’s defection to Russia. He helped a traitorous spy escape, and he helped implement a propaganda campaign to present that spy as a First Amendment hero.  Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy because he was wanted in Sweden for sexual assault. A guiltless man might demand his day in court, so that he would be exonerated. Assange fled the country & hid out in an embassy basement. You know, like an innocent man would.  Remember some years ago, when we on the left falsely believed Assange was the cat’s meow, and Obama did not? Yeah, Obama had intel we didn’t have. He knew what Assange really was: an opportunistic fame whore & chaos agent with unseemly ties to the FSB. Recent visitors to Assange include: Nigel Farage, Roger Stone, and Sean Hannity.  Hannity has a fishy relationship with Assange:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/sean-hannity-to-interview-julian-assange-at-ecuadorian-embassy

Also, Assange reached out to Hannity, or tried to, with anti-Dem info:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/julian-assange-thought-he-was-messaging-sean-hannity-when-he-offered-news-on-democrat-investigating-trump-russia

Hannity is one of three clients of Michael Cohen, who reportedly met for over 40 hours w/the Mueller team, and was also supposedly in front of the Grand Jury this past week. Wikileaks DM’d with Donald Trump, Jr. during the campaign.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/the-secret-correspondence-between-donald-trump-jr-and-wikileaks/545738/

Wikileaks is “Organization 1” in the Mueller indictment against the 12 Russian hackers. So we know Assange is on his radar.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-the-latest-mueller-indictment-reveals-about-wikileaks-ties-to-russia-and-what-it-doesnt

And now Assange, we find out, is under sealed indictment.  Assange, who coordinated w/Junior & Stone and possibly Hannity during the campaign.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-assange-usa/u-s-prosecutors-get-indictment-against-wikileaks-assange-court-document-idUSKCN1NL0G3

In short: no matter how many anarchists sing his praises, or how many ex-Baywatch babes he boinks, Assange is what Mike Pompeo said he was: head of a non-state hostile intelligence service aligned with Putin’s Russia.

He belongs in US prison.

That’s where he’s going.

Assange is wanted by the United States government not for publishing something they objected to, nor for refusing to give up his sources.  Assange is wanted for helping to hack a government computer, sort of like the Murdoch empire broke British law by hacking phones.  It’s not what real journalists do.  And for this reason, it has little to do with the first amendment, nor does it have grave implications for American journalists as long as they don’t want to become criminal hackers.  The First Amendment is sacred, but I’ve yet to hear or read anything that concerns me about the charge against Assange, who seems to have become a criminal tool of Russia.

Keep resisting…