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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.


Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.


The Commentariat -- April 19, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

So the Whiny Baby Sonata in B Flat Begins. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Friday called 'total bullshit' on the damaging information his former aides offered to special counsel Robert Mueller, suggesting investigators skewed his staffers' words and that some of his aides just wanted to make him look bad. 'Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue. Watch out for people that take so-called "notes," when the notes never existed until needed,' he wrote in a string of tweets. Trump complained that he was unable to push back on the claims made by his aides in Mueller's report because of his decision not to sit down with Mueller in person. He also suggested he was unfairly thrown under the bus by those who had spoken freely to investigators. 'Because I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the 'Report' about me, some of which are total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad),' he continued in another tweet.... In one tweet, which trails off and has not been completed by Trump, he condemned the investigation once more as an 'Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened.'" ...

... Maggie Haberman of the NYT points out in a tweet that the aides who spoke candidly to investigators because the White House told them to do so now are "facing Trump's wrath for a position the WH put them in." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Isn't it sad when everybody lies except the guy who's told nearly 10,000 lies since taking office a couple of years ago? Gosh, I hope Trumpelthinskin doesn't, like, get so enraged he tears himself in half. Oops. My mistake. Turns out Trump started whining yesterday:

... Matthew Choi of Politico: "'I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,' Trump wrote on Twitter [Thursday afternoon]. 'I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn't!'... In a separate tweet later Thursday, Trump continued distancing himself from Russian interference in the election, saying it occurred while Barack Obama was president. Trump falsely said Obama did not respond to the threats of Russian meddling, though the FBI did investigate links between Russia and Trump months before the election. 'Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President,' he wrote. 'He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected.'"

Jonathan Chait: Caught in several lies by Mueller's team, Sarah Sanders can't stop lying. "Appearing on CBS This Morning, Sanders was asked, if the lie [about countless FBI personnel calling her to say how glad they were Trump dumped Comey] was a slip of the tongue, what did she mean to say? Sanders refused to answer, instead dissembling: 'Look, I've acknowledged that the word "countless" was a slip of the tongue. But it's no secret that a number of FBI, both current and former, agreed with the president's decision.' Pressed about the lie on ABC, Sanders kept repeating that the statements were made 'in the heat of the moment.' George Stephanopoulos noted that she repeated the same lie twice the next day." Mrs. McC: I'll bet every hound dog Mike Huckabee ever had was a voracious homework-eater.

Rebecca Shabad of NBC News: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Friday subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report as well as the underlying evidence. In a statement, Nadler said that the Justice Department must comply by May 1."

Julian Borger of the Guardian: "The outgoing French ambassador to the US has compared the Trump administration to the court of King Louis XIV, filled with courtiers trying to interpret the caprices of a 'whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed' leader. Gérard Araud, who retires on Friday after a 37-year career that included some of the top jobs in French diplomacy, said Donald Trump's unpredictability and his single-minded transactional interpretation of US interests was leaving the administration isolated on the world stage."


Over to You, Nancy

Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked. -- Donald Trump, upon learning that a special counsel would investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election

Here's the DOJ's pdf of the Mueller report. (Also linked yesterday.)

Here's a pdf of the report, via the Washington Post. (Also linked yesterday.)

NBC News has a copy of the report here. (Also linked yesterday.)

Washington Post: "A team of Post reporters will be reading the redacted Mueller report.... This page will update frequently with key findings as we go through the document." (Also linked yesterday.)

The New York Times is live-updating developments in the redacted Mueller report release. (Also linked yesterday.)

Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times: "Robert S. Mueller III revealed a frantic, monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia's 2016 election interference, cataloging in a report released on Thursday the attempts by Mr. Trump to escape an inquiry that imperiled his presidency from the start. The much-anticipated report laid out how a team of prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, wrestled with whether the president's actions added up to an indictable offense of obstruction of justice for a sitting president. They ultimately decided not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but pointedly declined to exonerate him.... The report found numerous contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russians in the months before and after the election -- meetings in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton -- but said there was 'insufficient evidence' to establish that there had been a criminal conspiracy.... The report ... lays bare how Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power. When a federal inquiry was started to investigate the Russian effort, he took numerous steps to try to undermine it.... It is a far more damning portrayal of his behavior than the one presented ... by Attorney General William P. Barr."

Devlin Barrett & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "The long-awaited report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III details abundant evidence against President Trump, finding 10 episodes of potential obstruction but ultimately concluding it was not Mueller's role to determine whether the commander in chief broke the law.... Trump submitted written answers to investigators. The special counsel's office considered them 'inadequate' but did not press for an interview with him because doing so would cause a 'substantial delay,' the report says.... Investigators paint an unflattering portrait of a president who believes the Justice Department and the FBI should answer to his orders.... Repeatedly, it appears Trump may have been saved from more serious legal jeopardy because his own staffers refused to carry out orders they thought were problematic or potentially illegal.... Mueller made abundantly clear: Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign, and the Trump campaign was willing to take it.... The report detailed a timeline of contacts between the Trump campaign and those with Russian ties -- much of it already known, but some of it new." ...

Plenty of people are in prison for what they planned, not for what they did. -- Akhilleus, at the top of today's thread

Michael Schmidt & Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Mr. Mueller's team systematically dissected and repudiated ... arguments [that a president* cannot obstruct justice], concluding over more than a dozen of the report's 448 pages that obstruction laws did indeed limit how Mr. Trump could use his presidential powers. 'The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,' they wrote.... The special counsel's rationale left the door open to the possibility that after Mr. Trump leaves office, prosecutors could re-examine the evidence Mr. Mueller gathered and charge the president.... The stark difference between Mr. Mueller's rationale and the impression Mr. Barr had created last month was a central takeaway from Mr. Mueller's report.... Mr. Barr wrote that Mr. Mueller had cited 'difficult issues' of law and fact preventing him from deciding the obstruction question.... In fact..., the special counsel cited those 'difficult issues' as preventing him from exonerating the president of illegal obstruction -- not as preventing him from accusing Mr. Trump of that crime.... Mr. Mueller decided it would be unfair to analyze the evidence for now because it created the risk that he would conclude that Mr. Trump committed a crime with no possibility of a speedy trial to resolve whether that was true."

Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "President Trump pushed for obtaining Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's private emails, and his campaign was in touch with allies who were pursuing them, according to the redacted special counsel's report released Thursday. On July 27, 2016, Trump famously said at a campaign rally, 'Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,' referring to emails that Clinton said she had deleted from her private server.... Trump also 'made this request repeatedly' during the campaign, former national security adviser Michael Flynn told ... Robert S. Mueller III's investigation. Flynn 'contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails,' including Peter Smith, a longtime Republican operative, and Barbara Ledeen, a Republican Senate staffer [to Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)] who herself had previously tried to find the emails.... Erik Prince, the private military contractor, Trump supporter and brother of current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, 'provided funding to hire a tech adviser to ascertain the authenticity of the emails' [which Ledeen acquired. The adviser ultimately concluded Ledeen's emails were fake.]"

Eric Lach of the New Yorker: "It's long been known that Trump refused to sit down for an in-person interview with Mueller, and that he opted to answer some written questions from the special counsel instead.The newly released Mueller report reveals what those questions and answers were, and what Mueller made of them. The short version is: the questions pertained to a pretty narrow set of topics, and Mueller was pretty unsatisfied with Trump's answers.... 'We noted, among other things, that the President stated on more than 30 occasions that he "does not 'recall' or 'remember' or have an 'independent recollection'" of information called for by the questions. Other answers were 'incomplete or imprecise.'"' Mueller's team again asked for an in-person interview with the President. Trump said no." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Some enterprising reporter should ask Trump about his answers. If you have a "very good brain," why is it you can't remember anything?... Or were you lying under oath, Mr. President*?

Yoni Appelbaum of the Atlantic: The Mueller report's "most important implication can be summarized in a single sentence: There is sufficient evidence that ... Donald Trump obstructed justice to merit impeachment hearings.... The Mueller report, in short, is an impeachment referral.... [Mueller reasoned that] because a sitting president cannot be indicted, making such a charge publicly would effectively deny Trump his day in court, and the chance to clear his name.... The president ... deserves a chance to clear his name. The public deserves a chance to examine the evidence against him. And his supporters and opponents alike deserve the clarity that only convening impeachment hearings can now provide."

Noah Bookbinder in a New York Times op-ed: "The final report by ...l Robert Mueller is devastating for the president.... The report makes clear that the president's obstruction of the F.B.I. and special counsel investigations crossed constitutional boundaries that could have merited criminal prosecution, if not for the Justice Department's policy against indicting sitting presidents. Mr. Mueller's report notes that his office explicitly considered absolving the president of obstruction of justice, but emphatically chose not to. Instead, Mr. Mueller laid out 181 pages detailing the substantial evidence that Mr. Trump obstructed justice. His team also concluded that even if legal constraints prevented them from seeking to indict a sitting president for obstruction of justice, 'Congress has authority to prohibit a president's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.' Far from ending the matter, the Mueller report is an unmistakable act of deference to Congress's primary jurisdiction over accountability for the president. The House Judiciary Committee must now pick up where Mr. Mueller left off and begin holding proceedings to determine whether Mr. Trump abused the powers of his office."

MEANWHILE, at the Conway House, George & Kellyanne Discuss the Mueller Report:

     ... The President has the right to fire any of us at any moment. He showed his right ... his constitutional right, by firing Jim Comey. He could have fired Mueller. He could have fired McGahn, Sessions, Kellyanne Conway. He didn't do that. -- Kellyanne Conway, yesterday

     ... George Conway, in a Washington Post op-ed: "So it turns out that, indeed, President Trump was not exonerated at all, and certainly not 'totally' or 'completely,' as he claimed.... By taking the presidential oath of office, a president assumes the duty not simply to obey the laws, civil and criminal..., but also to be subjected to higher duties -- what some excellent recent legal scholarship has termed the 'fiduciary obligations of the president.'... The facts in Mueller's report condemn Trump even more than the report's refusal to clear him of a crime.... Mueller's investigation 'found multiple acts by the President that were capable of executing undue influence over law enforcement investigations.'... Nixon was mostly passive -- at least compared with Trump. For the most part, the Watergate tapes showed that Nixon had 'acquiesced in the cover-up' after the fact.... Trump, on the other hand, was a one-man show.... The investigation that Trump tried to interfere with here, to protect his own personal interests, was in significant part an investigation of how a hostile foreign power interfered with our democracy. If that's not putting personal interests above a presidential duty to the nation, nothing is." ...

New York Times "reporters uncovered the biggest findings and shared excerpts and analysis."

Julia Ainsley of NBC News pointed out that, contrary to Barr's contention this morning, (on p. 381 & elsewhere), Mueller invites the Congress to investigate impeachment of the President*, saying that while the Mueller team didn't reach conclusions on criminality, the findings invite Congress to do so. (Barr claimed that determining Trump's guilt or innocence was his job.) Update: Neil Katyal find Mueller's invitation to Congress right on page 2 (of part 2). Glenn Kirschner puts the two pages together & concludes that Mueller decided that since he could not bring charges against Trump under DOJ policies, but the Congress can find wrongdoing. Joyce Vance also views the report as "a roadmap to impeachment." Over to you, Nancy. ...

     ... Several reporters have found Mueller complaining about lack of cooperation from Trump & the White House, contrary again to Barr's false claim that the the President* was totally cooperative. Rep. Eric Swalwell is calling for Barr to resign. I hope that at least, next time Barr lumbers up to the Hill that Democrats harangue him over his lies about the report.

Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the big takeaways from the report, IMO, is that Trump proved that obstruction works. Trump's unwillingness to cooperate & his subordinates' & associates' willingness to lie (and I heard on teevee, destroy documents), meant the Mueller team could not nail down a campaign-Russia conspiracy. The report itself says that all the lies & obfuscation "materially impaired" the investigation. For instance, Mueller could not determine whether or not Trump knew about the Trump Tower "adoption" meeting because he couldn't obtain "documentary proof" of it. He couldn't establish Trump's "state of mind" vis-a-vis Comey's firing, because Trump "couldn't remember" squat. This is why Barr's contention that you can prove obstruction without proving the underlying case doesn't make sense (and therefore is not the law). The greater the obstruction, the lesser the ability to prove the case-in-chief.

CBS News reporters are sifting through the report & reporting its "highlights" here. (Also linked yesterday.)

"This Is the End of My Presidency. I'm Fucked." Peter Baker & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: the appointment of Robert Mueller "has not been the end of his presidency, but it has come to consume it. Although the resulting two-year investigation ended without charges against Mr. Trump, Mr. Mueller's report painted a damning portrait of a White House dominated by a president desperate to thwart the inquiry only to be restrained by aides equally desperate to thwart his orders. The White House that emerges from more than 400 pages of Mr. Mueller's report is a hotbed of conflict infused by a culture of dishonesty -- defined by a president who lies to the public and his own staff, then tries to get his aides to lie for him. Mr. Trump repeatedly threatened to fire lieutenants who did not carry out his wishes while they repeatedly threatened to resign rather than cross lines of propriety or law. At one juncture after another, Mr. Trump made his troubles worse, giving in to anger and grievance and lashing out in ways that turned advisers into witnesses against him." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The one & only good thing to come out of the Trump presidency: the Gray Lady printed the word "fucked." Not "(expletive)" or even "f**ked". But "fucked."

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "The vivid portrait that emerges from Mueller's 448-page report is of a presidency plagued by paranoia, insecurity and scheming -- and of an inner circle gripped by fear of Trump's spasms. Again and again, Trump frantically pressured his aides to lie to the public, deny true news stories and fabricate a false record.... Mueller's report is singular for its definitive examination of the events -- and will not easily be dismissed by Trump and his aides as 'fake news.'... Trump officials frequently were drawn into the president's plans to craft false story lines.... President Trump's drumbeat to end the investigation was driven by his belief that the U.S. intelligence community's conclusive determination of Russian interference threatened the legitimacy of his election. It was, as [Hope] Hicks told Mueller's investigators, his 'Achilles heel.'" Includes summaries of Trump's trying to rid himself of his meddlesome investigator & AG.

The Mobster. Susan Glasser of the New Yorker: "The President himself comes across as a mobster, often lamenting that his lawyers are not as good at representing him as was his early mentor Roy Cohn, an actual mob lawyer. It comes as no surprise that Trump lies about so many things, big and small, though it is still remarkable that he does so even in the midst of a high-stakes legal investigation. Concerning a dinner with the soon-to-be-fired F.B.I. director James Comey at which Trump asked for 'loyalty,' the report said, Trump later lied even about the fact that he had invited Comey to dinner, claiming falsely, in public, that he thought the F.B.I. director had requested the meeting. The report goes to great lengths to disprove this one small example, among many, of Trump's falsehoods, presenting evidence that includes 'The President's Daily Diary,' which records that Trump 'extend[ed] a dinner invitation' to Comey on January 27, and sworn testimony from Priebus."

The Hustlers. Masha Gessen of the New Yorker: "The Mueller report exposes the mechanisms and the motives..., but doesn't tie anything together in the end. Rather than the story of a single crime masterminded by a single actor or entity, this is the story of many hustles, most of them unsuccessful. You'd be hard-pressed to find collusion among these hustlers -- each of them has his own game." Gessen recounts many of the two-bit hustles Mueller exposes. "Everyone was exaggerating his importance and selling more than he had. Conspiracy assumes a common purpose, but these people didn't have one -- not even, it seems, the hustle ultimately perpetrated on the American people by the election of Donald Trump."

"Yes, Collusion." Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "The president and, particularly, his attorneys have gone to great lengths to narrow the definition of 'collusion,' which is itself not a legal term. In their hands, only a proven conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials -- a stated and agreed upon quid pro quo in advance of any illegal conduct -- could qualify as collusion. Mueller's team's inability to find proof of that conspiracy, in Team Trump's opinion, is all they need to show that the president has been completely exonerated.... The text of the Mueller report, however, offers a very different picture.... The report -- even with all its redactions -- is full of instances in which Trump and a number of his aides, advisers, and family members are talking with figures linked in various ways to Russia.... Mueller considered bringing charges based on [the infamous Trump Tower] meeting.... But Mueller concluded that he 'could not obtain admissible evidence likely to meet the government's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these individuals acted "willfully," i.e. with general knowledge of their conduct.' In other words, Mueller couldn't prove that Donald Trump Jr. was smart enough to know that what he was doing was illegal." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As I've said before, I always thought it was quite possible Junior could get off on grounds of stupid. His response to release of the report, BTW, was "TOLD YA!!!" Clearly, he didn't read it, even the part about himself. Or, if he did, he couldn't understand what the report said about him. ...

... David Moye of the Huffington Post: "... Robert Mueller's team of investigators declined to prosecute ... Donald Trump's eldest son for campaign finance violations mainly because they concluded he was too ignorant to have knowingly committed a crime.... Luckily, there were many fine people who were happy to explain that he still doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the Trump Tower shed."

Bill Barr Is a Big Fat Liar. Garrett Graff of Wired: "Special counsel Robert Mueller&'s 448-page report ... outlined over nearly half of those pages how the president reacted to and fumed over the Russia probe, seeking to undermine it, curtail it, and even fire the special counsel himself.... In at least 10 episodes over the ensuing months Trump sought to block or stop that very investigation. He did so even as Mueller doggedly made public the 'sweeping and systematic fashion' in which the Russian government attacked the 2016 presidential election, and brought serious criminal charges -- and won guilty pleas -- from a half-dozen of the president's top campaign aides.... Barr appears to have misled the public about the severity of the evidence on obstruction of justice. He also misrepresented Mueller's reasoning for not making a 'traditional prosecutorial decision' on the obstruction half of his investigation. The attorney general has implied that Mueller left that choice to Barr. In truth, the report makes clear that Mueller felt constrained by the Justice Department policy that a sitting president could not be indicted. Don't mistake lack of prosecution, in other words, for absence of wrongdoing.... Barr further praised Trump for 'fully cooperating,' ignoring the president's refusal to sit for an interview with Mueller's investigators, along with the fact that Trump tried at least once to fire the special counsel, consistently attacked the legitimacy of the investigation in public, and openly encouraged witnesses not to cooperate.... The Mueller report also clarifies some questions about the Trump campaign and Russia -- again offering a corrective to Barr's enthusiastic exoneration of Trump."

Joan Walsh of the Nation: "... before releasing the report, Barr delivered a disgraceful performance Thursday morning that essentially acted out his dishonest four-page letter and expanded on its ludicrous judgments. Though Mueller wouldn't exonerate Trump on the obstruction charges, Barr did -- with a bizarrely sympathetic nod to the 'context' of Trump's potentially obstruction.... [Barr claimed that] the fact that Trump was frustrated and angry exonerates him from obstruction charges.... Within 30 minutes, Congress and reporters had the redacted report -- and it ... was obvious that Barr lied. Mueller found 10 separate occasions in which Trump might have obstructed justice, or tried to.... On the obstruction question..., it's clear that Mueller thought the next step belongs to Congress -- not to Barr.... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must immediately rethink her repeated insistence that Congress will not pursue impeachment...."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "On Thursday, in an extraordinary news conference 90 minutes before he released the report of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Mr. Barr acted more as a defense lawyer for Mr. Trump than as the leader of the Justice Department. He repeatedly declared that Mr. Mueller had cleared the president of a conspiracy with Russia and sympathized with the frustration Mr. Trump felt at the 'relentless speculation' over his purported ties with Russia. After taking a handful of questions and ignoring many others, he walked off the stage.... For the president's critics, it merely confirmed what they already believed: Mr. Trump was getting the attorney general he always wanted.... [A 19-page] memo [Barr wrote in June 2018 castigating the Mueller investigation], which critics have characterized as a kind of audition tape to serve as [AG Jeff] Sessions's replacement, turns out to be an accurate road map to Mr. Barr's handling of the Mueller report."

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Attorney General William P. Barr has twice ensured that he had the first word on the conclusions drawn by ... Robert S. Mueller III after Mueller's almost-two-year probe into President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia's efforts to interfere in that election.... On Thursday..., Barr repeatedly declared that Trump had been cleared of collusion, for example, words that were music to Trump's ears. But Mueller didn't look at collusion, as such.... '[C]ollusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law,' the Mueller report reads.... Barr offered a colloquial use of 'collusion' that Mueller specifically rejected -- clearly in part to accord with Trump's repeated insistences about collusion between his campaign and Russian actors.... Mueller explains where and how members of the Trump campaign or his broader circle brushed against the boundaries of the law, often not crossing it so clearly that Mueller felt a case could be proved in court. As instructed by the regulations establishing the special counsel position, Mueller is offering his legal analysis about what happened. Barr, in his news conference, took those descriptions and transformed them into political exoneration." Bump outlines a number of instances in which Barr mischaracterized Mueller's conclusions.

Jonathan Chait: "House Democrats are going to face a difficult decision about launching an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.... But in the meantime, Attorney General William Barr presents them with a much easier decision. Barr has so thoroughly betrayed the values of his office that voting to impeach and remove him is almost obvious.... Nearly two more years of this Trumpian henchman wielding power over federal law enforcement is more weight than the rickety Constitution can bear."

Sean Spicer & Sarah Sanders Are Big Fat Liars. Dara Lind of Vox: "... it's striking that the Mueller report -- in which [Sean] Spicer and his successor, Sarah Sanders, are peripheral figures at best -- still manages to incidentally document at least seven instances of Trump's press secretaries lying, four of them in the 24 hours after Trump summarily fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017." Spicer lied about who decided to fire Michael Flynn (Don McGahn & Reince Priebus; not Trump, as Spicer told the press), & who decided to fire Jim Comey (Trump; not Rod Rosenstein, as Spicer said). "Of all the lies, this is the one that Sanders herself admitted was a lie to Mueller: the claim, expressed both in the May 10 press conference and in other interviews, that she had heard from 'countless' members of the FBI who did not support Comey and were glad he was fired.' Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from "countless members of the FBI" was a "slip of the tongue." She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made "in the heat of the moment" that was not founded on anything.' Of course, these too appear to be lies...." And Sanders lied when she claimed that Trump didn't dictate the fake "Donald Junior" statement about the Trump Tower fake "adoption" meeting." ...

... Watch Mrs. Huckleberry lie. Mrs. McC: I don't think Sarah knows what "slip of the tongue" means. It's when you accidentally call on "Tim Acosta" instead of "Jim Acosta." It's not when you fabricate a story, then repeat it, then embellish it:

Mrs. McCrabbie: The part about Rosenstein's actual role (or lack thereof) in firing Comey is interesting. This CBS News story by Kathryn Watson lays out most of the blow-by-blow, but Erica Orden of CNN adds to it: "On the night of May 9, 2017, hours after Trump fired Comey, officials in the White House press office called the Justice Department to say the White House 'wanted to put out a statement saying that it was Rosenstein's idea to fire Comey,' according to the report. Rosenstein told Justice Department officials that he wouldn't participate in putting out a 'false story,' he told the special counsel's office. Trump then called Rosenstein directly ... and told Rosenstein he should have a press conference. 'Rosenstein responded that this was not a good idea because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth that Comey's firing was not his idea,' the report says. Meanwhile, according to a footnote in the report, the White House chief of staff at that time, Reince Priebus, was 'screaming' at the Justice Department's public affairs office in an attempt to force Rosenstein to conduct a press conference. Later that evening, the White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, told reporters that, 'It was all (Rosenstein). No one from the White House. It was a DOJ decision.' And Sarah Sanders, then a White House spokeswoman, told reporters that Rosenstein decided 'on his own' to review Comey's performance and that Rosenstein decided 'on his own' to approach Trump days earlier with 'concerns about Comey.'" ...

     ... This now-fleshed-out story of Comey's firing is strong evidence of two things: (1) Trump's obstructing justice by firing Comey in an attempt to quash the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the election; & (2) covering up that obstruction by enlisting staff (Priebus, Spicer, Sanders, Don McGahn, Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner & possibly others) or trying to list others (Rosenstein & Jeff Sessions) to pretend Comey's firing was Rosenstein's idea. If you just skim the report, or reports on the report, you'd have to be dumb as a post not to appreciate "a frantic, monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia's 2016 election interference," as Mark Mazzetti of the NYT put it (linked above). The better place to see these efforts is in Articles of Impeachment.

Burgess Everett & Marianne Levine of Politico: "The Senate GOP found itself ensnared in special counsel Robert Mueller's report Thursday, with new revelations about Sen. Richard Burr's communications with the White House and details about a GOP aide's quest to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails.... Senate Intelligence Chairman Burr (R-N.C.), for instance, apparently supplied the White House counsel's office with information about FBI investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.... The report says that on March 9, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed congressional leaders and intelligence committee heads on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference. That briefing included 'an identification of the principal U.S. subjects of the investigation.' Burr then corresponded with the White House a week later about the Russia probes, and the White House counsel's office, led by Don McGahn, 'appears to have received information about the status of the FBI investigation,' the special counsel report said.... On March 16, 2017, the White House counsel's office was briefed by Burr on '4-5 targets' of the Russia probe, according to notes taken by McGahn's chief of staff, Annie Donaldson." The report outlines the effort of Chuck Grassley's aide Barbara Ledeen to find Clinton's e-mails. A Grassley spokesperson said her e-mail search was "not authorized by the Judiciary Committee." "Ledeen remains an aide on the committee."

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed News: "This Jan. 18, a day after BuzzFeed News reported that Michael Cohen told prosecutors that the president had directed him to lie to Congress, the special counsel's office issued a vague but forceful rebuttal of our story." Smith explains how the reporters got their story & why he is going to amend it. The original story was solid & based on first-hand documentation. Mrs. McC: A good lesson in how journalism works & why even an impeccably-sourced story can sometimes bite you.

Arwa Mahdawi
of the Guardian: "[N]ot content with simply empowering the women of the US, the patron saint of nepotists, hypocrites and grifters [Ivanka Trump] has altruistically taken her talents on tour. On Sunday, the first daughter and presidential adviser set off on a four-day trip to Ethiopia and Ivory Coast to promote the US government's Women's Global Development and Prosperity initiative (W-GDP), which aims to benefit 50 million women in developing countries by 2025. The programme was launched with a $50m (£38m) fund, which is less than the cost of the president's trips to Mar-a-Lago.... I am sure she has taught Sahle-Work Zewde, a respected career diplomat and Ethiopia's first female president, a thing or two....[After her charade in Africa] it is back to the US, where she will no doubt remain silent as her father continues to vilify immigrants, separate migrant mothers from their children, advance an anti-abortion agenda and incite violence against one of the first Muslim congresswomen." --s

The Middle East Eye: "White House senior advisor Jared Kushner was 'surprised' when Saudi officials expressed criticism of US President Donald Trump's so-called 'deal of the century' during a meeting in Riyadh, and told him that King Salman emphasised the rights of Palestinians, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.... '[Kushner] did listen to critical points and questions but wasn't willing to think about criticism and was defensive,' the source told the Washington Post.... Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has derided the US plan as 'the slap of the century,' and has said he will not commit 'treason' by agreeing to it." --s ...

... Khaled Abu Toameh & Tovah Lararoff of The Jerusalem Post: "The Palestinians are urging Russia to play a greater role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as they embark on an international campaign to bypass the Trump administration's peace plan, which is scheduled to be released in the coming months, Palestinian officials said on Tuesday. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to visit Moscow in the coming months to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has spoken multiple times of hosting a Middle East peace process that would include direct talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said on Tuesday that Abbas was prepared to meet with Netanyahu without preconditions if Russia is prepared to host such a summit." --s

James Griffiths of CNN: "North Korea's Foreign Ministry has issued a stinging rebuke of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, hours after the country claimed to have tested a new tactical weapon.... Foreign Ministry official Kwon Jong Gun ... appeared to blame Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi talks.... Kwon's statement concluded, 'Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the US, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.'" --s

Elizabeth Shogren of Mother Jones: "Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters. But in part due to ... Donald Trump's interior secretary nominee, David Bernhardt, whose confirmation awaits a Senate vote, the wildlife cop is no longer on the beat. Bernhardt pushed a December 2017 legal opinion that declared the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies only when companies kill birds on purpose. Internal government emails obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting provide evidence of federal wildlife agents opting out of investigations and enforcement, citing that policy change as the reason." --s

Matthew Brown & Ellen Knickmeyer of TPM: "Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is quickly parlaying his time in President Donald Trump's cabinet into a lucrative private career. He's landed a more than $100,000-a-year post at a Nevada mining company and is pursuing involvement in natural gas exports that have surged under Trump.... Zinke told AP that his work for Nevada-based U.S. Gold Corp., which focuses on mining exploration and development, would not constitute lobbying. But the company's CEO cited Zinke's 'excellent relationship' with the Bureau of Land Management and the Interior Department in explaining his hiring as a consultant and board member.... The Nevada project, known as Keystone, is on bureau land. A 2017 executive order from Trump said executive-branch appointees cannot lobby their former agency for at least five years after leaving their government post." --s

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Allana Ahktar of Business Insider: "Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund ... recently released a report on how US corporations have seen revenue soar relative to cost over the last two decades. Yet while companies are seeing profit margins surge, the share of the profit that workers get declined significantly. In what Bridgewater calls 'the most pro-corporate environment in history,' the last two decades have seen corporate taxes and labor bargaining power fall, as globalization and automation increase. The biggest driving factor behind soaring profits, Bridgewater reports, is the decline in the share of profit that workers receive.... In companies that had union membership decline, wages fell at a greater level than sectors where union membership remained in tact.... As a whole, union members went from being around one-fourth of the workforce to just over 10% today.... [The report] warn[s] that these conditions will ultimately weaken the US economy...." --s

Edmund Lee of the New York Times: "The National Enquirer, President Trump's favorite supermarket tabloid, is about to have a new owner: James Cohen, a son of the founder of the Hudson News franchise. American Media Inc., the Enquirer's publisher, announced the deal Thursday. The money-losing title was put up for sale several weeks ago, after its principal owner no longer wanted to be associated with the magazine, which attracted the attention of federal investigators for its role in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to several people familiar with the matter.... American Media, led by David J. Pecker, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump's, has also agreed to sell the Globe and the National Examiner as part of the deal with Mr. Cohen. The Washington Post first reported on the sale, which it pegged at $100 million."

Sam Levin of the Guardian: "Facebook's controversial factchecking program is partnering with the Daily Caller, a rightwing website that has pushed misinformation and is known for pro-Trump content. The social network said Wednesday it had added, which is part of the Daily Caller, as one of its US media partners in an initiative that has faced growing backlash from journalists and internal problems.... The Daily Caller, co-founded by the far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson, publishes conservative news stories and commentary and has faced repeated accusations of running false and offensive content. In January, the site was widely condemned for the way it reported on a fake nude photo of the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez...."

Beyond the Beltway

Puerto Rico. Andrew Rice & Luis Ortiz of New York: "Since 2016, Puerto Rico has been buffeted by a natural disaster and several overlapping, man-made catastrophes. Its government is bankrupt and owes $74 billion to bondholders: a staggering sum that amounts to 99 percent of the island's gross national product.... Under a law Congress passed in 2016, the island's finances are overseen by a federally appointed board, which hired McKinsey [& Company, perhaps the world's most influential management consulting firm] as its 'strategic consultant.' [Bertil] Chappuis, in turn, is the firm's point man.... Among the many mind-blowing figures in the fiscal plan [proposed by the federally appointed board], one stands out: the $1.5 billion earmarked over the next six years for costs related to the restructuring process itself -- more than a billion of which will go to lawyers, bankers, and consultants, McKinsey included.... All those fees are being footed by the taxpayers of Puerto Rico, which is far poorer than any U.S. state[.]" --s

Wisconsin. Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times: "Gov. Tony Evers [D] of Wisconsin is dubious that Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics giant known for making iPhones, will fulfill its promise of creating 13,000 jobs at a planned plant in the state. So he wants a redo of the contract.... The project, once championed by President Trump as evidence of a manufacturing renewal, has been mired in mixed signals. Mr. Evers wants to revisit the arrangement that Foxconn made with the state in 2017 and 'figure out how a new set of parameters should be negotiated....' The deal initially envisioned the company making display screens for televisions and other electronics at a $10 billion facility, with the state offering $4 billion in tax credits and other inducements over 15 years. The agreement was drafted under Scott Walker, the Republican governor whom Mr. Evers ... replaced."

Way Beyond

North Korea. AFP: "The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will visit Russia in late April for his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, Moscow has said." --s

Sudan. Reuters: "Huge crowds formed outside Sudan's defence ministry to demand the country's transitional military council hand over power to civilians. Hundreds of thousands packed the streets by early evening on Thursday -- the largest crowds to gather in the centre of the capital since last week, when the former president Omar al-Bashir was ousted and the military council took over.... The council has said it is ready to meet some of the protesters' demands, including fighting corruption, but has indicated that it would not hand over power to protest leaders." --s

Reader Comments (20)

The trick now, regarding the crystal clear examples of Trump's many attempts to obstruct justice, is whether he gets the "No harm, no foul" treatment or is handled the way we handle other people who plot to commit a crime.

In other words, here we have a Muslim extremist who has a plan to blow up the Statue of Liberty. His friends dissuade him from this goal, but the FBI finds out about it. Do they:

A) Say "Hey, no prob, he didn't actually blow 'er up, did he?" And let him go?


B) Say "Well, he's the president of Terr'ists R Us, a group financed by certain bigwigs abroad" and decide that since his pals talked him off that ledge, everything is hunky dory?


C) Arrest his ass, throw him into a black hole in Rikers, have him tried, found guilty on all 724 counts, and send him to a state where they can sentence him to three days in the electric chair?

Seriously, that disturbed woman who went to Colorado didn't do a single thing. Except post something online about how she was hot for Columbine. Now she's dead. And half the state's law enforcement was after her.

Plenty of people are in prison for what they planned, not for what they did. Look for Trumpbots to scream that he "didn't do nothin'" and demand that all those plots of his to obstruct justice be completely overlooked.

Cuz that's how things roll in Trump's Amerika.

April 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

One up on @ AK

After an exhausting NPR summary of the Mueller report reveal on how that lying sac of feces has seemingly managed to evade justice, Seattle's local news broke in to report that the lead story of the day was how the Goodwill Industries has been the target of a high incidence of theft...largely by homeless people, and that on average the thieves spent 12 days in a cost of $2000 each arrest. City officials are up in arms about the cost. What a contrast!

I don't know about you, but I give to Goodwill and Value Village to help those less fortunate. If ever there was a time to turn a blind eye toward wrongdoing for the cause of charity it is this. Regarding blind eyes in DC, perhaps Pelosi and the no-impeachment democrats who want to "move on" should come an work for our local government to provide "insight" on the Goodwill theft problem.

April 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeriscope

Whew. What a mess. So who are the biggest winners and losers here in the aftermath of the Barrdlerized Mueller report’s release?

One would be tempted to pick Trump as the biggest loser, but really, what has he lost (in some ways he’s lost a lot, but credibility is not one of them)?

Did the Democrats win something? Not really.

No, the biggest winner is Vladimir Putin. A famous teetotaler, he and his tovarisches must be throwing down the vodka given the chaos he has incited in his longtime enemy, the United States.

For a relatively tiny investment, without firing a shot, and with the immense assistance of a narcissistic clown, his dim witted, greedy spawn, and a hopelessly corrupt and inept political party, he has ratfucked America but good.

Parties and people and even spouses clash viciously on an hourly basis, democracy shows signs of terrible stress fractures, truth is on life support, and America's Standing in the world as a powerful force for good diminishes daily even as Putin’s is on the rise (see the story, linked above about Russia being asked for help in the Middle East), and America’s two most dangerous enemies, China and Russia, rush in to fill the gaps while Trump sits in his darkened chambers watching Fox, studying his navel, and expanding his enemies list, when he’s not off playing golf, that is.

We are the losers. Putin is the winner.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

If Trump looks this bad even with all the redactions, how bad must he look in the unredacted version?

Oh, and one other thing: Mark Zuckerberg has fingered himself as a sworn enemy of truth and democracy. Hiring Tucker Carlson (Tucker Carlson?!?!) as a “fact checker”? It’s like the CDC putting Typhoid Mary in charge of the national response to epidemics. Fuck me.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Having had my tuckus deep into Mueller's great American long story practically all day yesterday I am all tuckered out. Last night hopped over to Fox just to see how they were handling all this and there was Hannity in a huff with a picture of Obama on screen saying that all these Russian Schnattergans started WAY before Trump and was on Obama's watch and "we had better start looking into this." Then, in a flash he switched to interviewing Sarah Sandbags and I abruptly switched back to sanity, unable to stomach any more of this "collusion."

Something puzzles me: Why would Barr put himself in the position he has put himself? It's crystal clear he is shilling for Trump but why? He's already been an A.G.–-his reputation, although sullied somewhat by the Panama fiasco under Poppy Bush, was still intact. What could he possibly gain here.

So now the fun begins. We finally have the whole cake although many other sweets will come from "ongoing" investigations. Just in time for Easter––a celebration of someone's rise to somewhere–-but in this case it may–-some will pray–- turn out to be someone's fall to nowhere.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Finally figured it out. Should have months ago but didn't.

For the insight I have to thank the details in the Mueller report and the logic behind Mueller's decision not to prosecute the Pretender president for his many misdeeds.

With the support of a complicit and abject Republican Party our unindicted and apparently unindictable Pretender is waging a successful war against the real Deep State.

The bulk of the Ten Commandments.

Can't have those quaint proscriptions against stealing, lying and murdering around any more. They just get in the way of what a guy's gotta do.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@PD Pepe: Like you, I can't figure out why Barr would take a huge pay cut to shill for Trump. My only guess is that he's used to it. He was a disgusting toady when he worked in the Bush I administration, too.

I just turned from my music station to see if there was any news, & Garrett Haake was interviewing "the man on the street" in Florida, & the man said, "Look, I think Trump is a despicable human being, but he's done a lot for the country." So he would vote for Trump again. Of course I wanted to yell at Garrett: "Ask that bozo WTF Trump has done for the country." I can't think of one damned thing -- except all the horrible stuff. I suppose the Fox "News" virus ate that guy's brain. Back to Telemann.

April 19, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

I think the tax returns will be the straw that breaks the camel's*
back. There's just gotta be a lot of evasion and borrowing from
shady sources. Why else would anyone want to hide their tax
returns if everything is on the up and up?

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris


I'm guessing that Barr, like so many in the DC revolving door, misses the high life, misses being in the middle of things and having his every nasty whim take corporeal shape and slither out into the world to do damage. For these guys, no seven figure salary can compensate for that kind of power. Plus, I'm sure Trump promised him that as long as he covered his very expansive (and guilty) ass, he could do whatever he wanted.

And Marie, Trump or Telemann? It's not even a question. I listened to his Trumpet Concerto in D on the way home from work last week (unearthly) and wondered why we don't hear more of the guy. Instead we get a never ending replay of Trump's Whiny Baby Sonata in B flat.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Nice to see that despicable liar, Sarah Sanders, outed as, well, a despicable liar. Just making shit up on the fly. These people all know the immediate power of the blatant lie. Just say whatever it is you need in order to win, to win the moment, to win the second, to win, win, win. The problem, for those members of the public for whom trust and truth matter, is that "winning" for the Trumpies, ALWAYS involves lying. If they had to run on their actual deeds, they'd lose every time out.


April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The lying continues...

One can easily see how at least a few (probably way more) of Mueller's investigators were incensed at Barr's shameless lies about Trump being cleared of everything. In order to work for Trump, you must fail every lie detector test you're given. If you tell the truth even about whether or not the sun is out, you go on the enemies list.

"All politicians lie" is a truism that most people take for granted. But there is a huge difference between lying on occasion or shading the truth to fit your agenda and what we're seeing now in real time coming from this shabby bunch of disgraceful and ubiquitous liars. There's never been anything like it in US history. Never. Not even close. Nixon comes off like a choirboy next to Trump and his band of mendacious crooks and caitiffs. They lie with every breath. BUT, as someone noted in yesterday's tidal wave of analysis, obstruction works. So does lying. I'm sure the guy Marie heard in that interview, the guy who believes Trump to be an untrustworthy creep--but will vote for him anyway--is not alone.

The right has made lying a standard tool in its war. Trump has weaponized lying to an extent that even the most shameless Republican liars, like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, must look upon in awe.

And even more impressive, he very well could be reelected.

At which point the lying will be the only thing that is left of America. George Orwell could not have imagined a more frightening fate. At least the Party in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" had a goal. Trump's only cause is his personal glory and enrichment.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Okay, one more...

For those of us concerned with well written narratives, conveyed in (mostly) plain English, without unnecessarily dry and dreary subsidiary clauses, the Mueller Report is surprisingly good. It's easy to read, provides support for conclusions, offers a wealth of information but does so without making the reader feel like they're mired in Book Two of the Iliad, the Catalogue of Ships, which reviews in immense detail who was on each ship sailing to Troy, the names of their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and any house pets, as well as what they wore to their high school proms:

"From Buprasium, from that tract of Elis which Hyrmine, Myrsinus by the shore, Olen’s Rock, and Alesium enclose, came the Epeians in four squadrons of ten ships. Their four leaders were Amphimachus son of Cteatus, Thalpius, son of Eurytus, these two of the House of Actor, third Amarynceus’ son, the brave Diores, and fourth godlike Polyxeinus, son of king Agasthenes, son of Augeias."

Yeah. And like that, for about 300 pages. Jesus.

So Mueller beats Homer in that regard.

Naturally, there are the usual references to US code, chapters and verses sprinkled liberally throughout (as one would expect) but so little of the usual lawyerly opacity that one expects the the writers paid careful attention during their expository writing classes in college.

They also seem to have boned up on the essence of good comedy writing:

“[Sanders'] statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made 'in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything."

That "not founded on anything" is a capper that any stand up comedian would relish.

Well, it's none of it funny, but it is well written, so thanks for that, Bob.

Just imagine if one of Trump's lackeys was detailed with writing something like this. The corkscrew, barely literate English with misspellings, dangling modifiers, run on sentences, pronoun-antecedent errors, unintelligible footnotes, and weird comma placement would have the average reader reaching for the bottle by page three.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Interesting and possibly instructive to catalog the various ways RC'ers have sought solace or as antidotes to the many frustrations occasioned by the Mueller report.

It seems we are all dealing in our own ways with the report's reminder of how deeply corrupt are the Pretender and his crew of caitiffs (Wow, Akhilleus!) and how little we can do about it.

There's the fuming and outrage of course, but for some there's also beautiful music and as Akhilleus notes, even a little unredacted comedy buried within the report itself.

Last night I chose comedy, big time, and saw "The Life of Brian" for the first time.

Not cheery, but rueful laughs aplenty.

But then back to the reality from which "The Life..." really didn't stray too far.

At the movie's final crucifixion scene, as the credits rolled, I thought how fitting it would be to replace Brian and his hapless companions with the Pretender and his low-life cronies.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I had to turn off the man-on-the-street interviews also. They simply illustrate how stupid half the populace is, and how in-the-tank these morons are. I'm sure the report did nothing to cause indecision or redecision about the Corrupter-in-Chief, and it only serves to make those of us paying attention to have hung our mouths open all day long. That Barr is as inspirationally a liar as his boss is a given. And I too don't know why he inserted himself. Some biographer years from now will uncover the huge gift of fame and glory that was promised if he came through, and by then, meh, no one will care if we are the USA or Indonesia. The report supports all the suppositions of the writers on this blog, but since it involves everyone from the rotting head of the fish down, there is no one to hold him accountable. Congress hasn't the ghost of a chance of proving the Greedy Old Party is as corrupt as their head-of-state, and honesty is a lost art. I am not pinning any hopes on Pelosi since it matters not what she decides as long as the nasty turtle holds the entire future in his diseased hands. Yeah, hope is in short supply today, but I am open if anyone else can see a glimmer...

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

@Akhilleus: I splurged this morning & bought a paperback copy of the report so I can sit back & read it. Don't know when it will arrive. I almost didn't buy it at all because the first (and what I thought for a moment was the only) publication of the report had an intro by Alan Dershowitz. Assuming Dershowitz would get royalty checks, there was no way I'd buy that.

Speaking of the Iliad, I had a friend who was the only poet I ever knew of who got rich on his poetry. He wrote translations (into English) of the Iliad & the Odyssey for Norton Anthologies, & gazillions of college students had to buy them.

April 19, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


"Life of Brian". Yes. Although I doubt Trump nor any of his band of mendacious malefactors would be looking on the bright side of life while enjoying the comfort of crucifixion, although Trump has been crying for years now that people are out to crucify him.

As funny as the ending musical number is, I've always been partial to the Latin Lesson scene, in which John Cleese's officious centurion tries to correct Brian's Latin. Brian, who is painting what he believes is "Romans go home" on a wall, is braced by the centurion who gives him a thorough going over in Latin grammar. The funniest part of this "lesson" comes when he demands that Brian spit out the locative case of domus (home), which both of them get wrong, even though they end up with the right word.

I admit that I missed this the first time I saw the movie, but after checking the declensions later, I realized that the Pythons purposely make Cleese's overly dogmatic grammar Nazi get it wrong, which makes it even more hilarious.

That being said, another favorite scene is the one involving Pontius Pilate (who speaks with a lisp). I defy anyone to watch this scene and not collapse in a fit of giggles. Biggus Dickus, indeed.

Ah, me. We shouldn't lose our sense of humor, even in the face of the existential craptitude of the White House, where lives Weirdus Dickus.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


Ah...those Norton anthologies. What would intro lit courses ever have done without them?

I recently ran across the Norton Anthology of Light Verse which I snatched off the shelf. Sometimes you just need a little Ogden Nash and Edward Lear to jollify your lexical neurons, because after a few hours with Ginsberg or Rimbaud or Pound, you might be ready for "Dere vas a shtormtrooper from Shtuttgart..."

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I'm tired of the DOJ's lame excuse on not going after Trump. The
Judiciary is a Co-Equal branch of the government. We have multiple safe guards around our government for a reason. Such as traitorous Republicans who will not uphold their constitutional duties. The OLC memo is just that, a memo. It's not an actual law. They could change it with the snap of their fingers. Mueller says Trump is guilty, but he cannot do anything about it. It's like the Justice Department keeps saying "I would love to have a baby, if only I hadn't cut off my junk and made myself a eunuch." The DOJ may be impotent right now, but they could rectify that easily.

Also, how does Mueller finish an investigation into the Trump campaign without actually speaking to any members of the Trump family?

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS


April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

The Poet Knows (which is why the poet is rarely elected)

I have great respect for Nancy Pelosi. I was one of those Democrats who felt that the Young Turks demanding her defenestration after the 2018 election were way out of line, especially considering her experience, abilities, and understanding of How Things Work.

But in the case of impeachment, I now find myself firmly against her, against Nadler, and against the Democratic Old Guard (Ancien Régime?) who declare that impeachment is beyond the pale, or an insupportable move without rock solid evidence.

What do you need, guys?

Mueller has provided you with far more evidence of impeachable offenses than were arrayed against Johnson, Nixon, or Clinton.

I don't give a fuck if you think it won't work. IT WON'T! Mitch McConnell is every bit the traitor (perhaps more so) that Trump is. But the fact that he is a bag-man for Republican Party malfeasance does not absolve you of your responsibility.

Force these traitors to vote to keep a lying, treasonous obstructor of justice in office. If you don't, how can you EVER make the case that Trump does not belong in the White House?

Since we've had a bit of a poetical sidebar out here today, here are two reminders from Mark Strand about what is going on, what is in front of us, and what we have to consider:

Coming to This

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

And then there is this:

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

C'mon kids. Let's not let the stench of Trumpian-Republican perfidy, lies, and treason move in to fill the spaces where our bodies have been.

Let's keep things whole. Ruin is NOT an impossible habit to break. And let's have a place to go. Otherwise, we're no better than the McConnells and Trumps and might as well throw ourselves on the mercy of the mob.

Time to lead. And if we lose, at least we won't be the agents of our own destruction, at least we will have stood up for the Constitution.

For what is right.

For America.

We'll have a reason to remain.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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