Crooks and Liars
Citing Attorney General William Barr as "a grave threat to the fair administration of justice," hundreds of former DOJ attorneys have signed an open letter calling for him to step down.
Here's an excerpt:
The Justice Manual — the DOJ’s rulebook for its lawyers — states that “the rule of law depends on the evenhanded administration of justice”; that the Department’s legal decisions “must be impartial and insulated from political influence”; and that the Department’s prosecutorial powers, in particular, must be “exercised free from partisan consideration.”
All DOJ lawyers are well-versed in these rules, regulations, and constitutional commands. They stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.
And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle, most recently in connection with the sentencing of President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, who was convicted of serious crimes.
Tucker Carlson smeared the jury forewoman in the Roger Stone trial, thus setting her up for harassment or worse. Fox News editor Gregg Re dragged her even further through the mud, along with two other jurors for good measure.
While outrage mounts over Attorney General William Barr’s interference in Stone’s sentencing, Tucker Carlson has openly demanded that Fan-in-Chief Trump pardon Stone or commute his sentence. The Daily Beast reports that Carlson has proved such a reliable on-air advocate that “Trump allies who seek leniency for Stone have specifically sought to appear on the Fox News show in order to get the message to the president.” Much less apparent, as Erik Wemple nicely points out, is Carlson’s personal friendship with Stone and how that puts the lie to Carlson’s populist cloak.
During a panel discussion on Trump and the rule of law, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin did a fine job taking apart Trump's base and the dangerous road to authoritarianism we're on now, where his supporters and enablers have no problem whatsoever with Dear Leader behaving as though he's above the law, and what's going to be left of our democracy if this is allowed to continue.
Rubin called Trump's supporters "cultists" and"idolaters" and then was immediately proven correct by the response to MSNBC host Joy Reid's questions by right wing Ohio radio host Tracey Winbush.
Larry Kudlow, who appeared under the influence of something, joined Jesse Watters on Watters World late Saturday night to talk about issues the working class are concerned about (which clearly Larry and Jesse know all about), the Trump administration efforts to help the middle class (snort) and regulations that hurt business owners. To say it was an odd interview would be an understatement.
Sit back and enjoy the professionalism and high caliber staff that the Trump administration has placed in the Cabinet:
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested on Sunday the coronavirus, which has killed over 1,000 Chinese citizens, is a biological weapon developed by the Chinese military.
Cotton made the remarks on the Fox News program Sunday Morning Futures. The senator insisted that reports that the virus started in a Chinese food market were incorrect.
"This virus did not originate in the Wuhan animal market," Cotton said. "We don't know where it originated but we do know that we have to get to the bottom of that. We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China's only biosafety level four super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases."
Cotton admitted that he has no evidence that the disease originated at the laboratory.
Fox News host Maria Bartiromo pointed out that Cotton has been criticized by Chinese officials for promoting idea that the virus could be "biological warfare."
"We have such laboratories ourselves in the United States, run by our military," Cotton explained. "The burden of proof is on the Chinese Communist Party... we do want to err on the side of caution."
Trump's newest Medal of Freedom winner was apparently terribly concerned about presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband on stage during an ugly rant on his radio show last week, where he said this during his attack on the former mayor's sexuality:Now, there may be some Democrats who think that is the ticket. There may be some Democrats who think that's exactly what we need to do, Rush. Get a gay guy kissing his husband on stage, to ram it down Trump's throat and beat him in the general election. Really. Having fun envisioning that.
Buttigieg was asked if he wanted to respond to Limbaugh's remarks this Sunday by Dana Bash on CNN's State of the Union:BASH: Last, before I let you go, Rush Limbaugh, who the president recently awarded the nation's top civilian honor, described you as a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, who loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage. Now, there has been bipartisan criticism of him for those remarks. I wanted to give you a chance to respond if you would like to.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I love my husband. I'm faithful to my husband. On stage we usually just go for the hug, but I love him very much, and I'm not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
White House aide Kellyanne Conway asserted on Sunday that President Donald Trump is being mistreated by a "two-tier justice system."
During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Conway for the president's reaction to a Justice Department decision not to prosecute former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was forced to correct misstatements to the inspector general.
"The president recognizes, as many people do, it feels like there's a two-tiered criminal justice system," Conway opined. "If you're President Trump or people associated with him, those prosecutions have gone one way."
Conway went on to say that McCabe is a "serial liar whether he's prosecuted or not."
Sen. Susan Collins has done her best to walk back her ridiculous statement that impeached president Donald Trump learned a lesson from the impeachment process, and to absolve herself of any responsibility for a now totally unfettered Trump. The thing is, though: She can't. Because Trump himself is yelling out the real lessons he learned every damn day. Like on Thursday, when he trashed another presidential norm meant to keep chief executives in check and to protect national security.
In a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, Trump talked about one of the lessons he’s learned: not to let officials listen in on his phone calls with world leaders. "Well, that's what they've done over the years," Trump said. "When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely." This came about in a discussion about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who Trump was bitching about in the interview, calling him "insubordinate" for raising his concerns about Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "I'm not a fan of Vindman," Trump added. Surprise.
If I were in charge of messaging for the Democrats, I would make this my mantra: Donald Trump is a crook who is abusing his office using our tax payers' dollars to enrich himself and his pals (and we see right through him). Our bloggers today see right through him, too.
Eclectablog cannot believe that everyone is cool with it.
The Rational Optimist looks at Prznint Stupid's insane war on immigrants.
Crazie Eddie's Motey News explains why the Electoral College exists.
Bonus Track: Notes to Ponder puts our troubled world in perspective. It really is a small world afterall.
As I write this on Saturday, my 2020 Voter Pamphlet just arrived, and I'm already feeling my mood improve! Thank you for letting me be part of your week! I hope you've enjoyed the links this week as much as I have.
Round-up by Tengrain who blogs at Mock, Paper, Scissors. You can follow Tengrain on the Twitters, too. Send tips, requests, and suggestions to email@example.com (with For MBRU in the subject line).
President Donald Trump recently suggested there is “tremendous fraud” in government welfare programs.
I hope you all realize our kids are a bazillion times smarter and cooler than we are.
Me: Got any homework?
Me: Whatcha gonna do?
Anna: Have a map I’m working on.
Just found this on her desk. pic.twitter.com/9uulpX1Pve
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) February 12, 2020
This caused the internet to swoon and have, of course, a billion questions for Anna, not to mention marriage proposals, probably.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) February 12, 2020
My 16-year-old daughter just red pilled us all.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) February 12, 2020
And because the world is how it is, now, this ended up an actual story on CNN. Poor dad.
Jo Firestone in her TED-X talk from 2016.
She was also on The Tonight Show this past week.
Open thread below...
Valentine’s Day marked the two-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shooting that galvanized the survivors into action against gun violence. Current Stoneman Douglas senior Sari Kaufman visited AM Joy with a status report on their accomplishments.
Kaufman said that what she’s most proud of is how gun violence, once “the third rail of politics,” is now “front and center” in our national dialogue. She noted that the presidential candidates are putting forth plans to combat gun violence and that states are passing legislation such as red flag and background check laws. “We’re definitely proud of the amount of action that has happened over the past two years,” Kaufman said, but “we still keep fighting for more gun violence prevention, especially on a federal level.”
Even pro-gun Florida has passed red flag laws, Kaufman pointed out. She said she lobbied in Tallahassee two weeks ago for new legislation providing stronger background checks. “There's a lot more work to do but we've definitely seen a good progression in Florida,” she added.
Donald Trump is America’s bully-in-chief, and too many kids are following his lead. An analysis by The Washington Post finds more than 300 cases of Trump-inspired bullying in schools bad enough to make news reports over the past four years; “At least three-quarters of the attacks were directed at kids who are Hispanic, black or Muslim.” (For anyone who wants to both-sides it, more than 45 students have faced bullying at school for supporting Trump.)
But those are stories that made the news. Trump-inspired bullying is much more widespread, according to a 2016 survey of teachers in which close to one in four “described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric,” with 476 cases of bullies saying, “Build the wall” and 672 talking about deportation.
In 2018, a group of students in Washington state unfurled a “Make America Great Again” flag at a high school football game and chanted, “Build the wall”—but of course their bullying didn’t stop there. One of those students had previously sat on the floor in class rather than sit next to Cielo Castor, a Mexican American student who’d said she opposed Trump. Castor was also booed and heckled when she stood up against the “Build the wall” chants.
As usual, Joy Reid gathered the best of the esteemed best to discuss the weightiest issues of the day: Glenn Kirschner, Maya Wiley, David Jolly, Elie Mystal, and... and... well, let's not call Sam Nunberg "esteemed," exactly, but you get my meaning. The segment's topic was Bill Barr's and Donald Trump's complete degradation of the Justice Department. No longer a secret, the DOJ is functioning as Trump's personal private law firm, paid for with your tax dollars. No longer quiet are Trump's calls for his criminal pals to be exonerated and his detractors to be jailed. No longer covert are the threats to any legislator or judge who dare cross him with a vote or ruling. We're not traveling the road, people, we're at the Destination Despot.
After Kirschner and Wiley held master classes in strength combined with quietude, Elie Mystal blew the lid off the studio with impassioned (and frankly, righteous) calls for mass DOJ resignations. The former are brilliant at making you quake in your boots with a quiet condemnation or a raised eyebrow, and the latter blasts the grand slam to get you on your feet. Reid, Kirschner, and Wiley all expressed empathy with the plight of prosecutors now in the position of having to consider consequences of doing their jobs with impartiality and protection of the people in mind. But Mystal was like, "Yeah, yeah, me, too, but these people can get jobs ANYWHERE, OKAY? They need to get in the DAMN STREETS!"
Alksne visited AM Joy this morning to discuss Attorney General William Barr’s laughable attempt to paint himself as independent from Donald Trump. “He’s destroyed his reputation,” Alksne said about Barr. “The question is, what happens next.”
Alksne finds no reason to be optimistic. Despite Barr’s public admonition to Trump to stop tweeting and the subsequent announcement that there would be no prosecution of former FBI official Andrew McCabe, she said, “I don't see him exerting any independence at all and it's very dangerous for the country and for the department."
“Not to be a little black helicopter,” Alksne said ominously, but at the same time that he was making a showy rebuke of Trump’s attempts to interfere in DOJ cases, Barr was also "reinvestigating the Russia case, they're reinvestigating Flynn, they're looking at the Stone case. I just don't see Andrew McCabe as being out of the woods, because everything is being reinvestigated.”
Even worse, when host Joy Reid asked if Barr will jail members of the Russia investigation team such as McCabe or even former FBI Director James Comey, Alksne thought that quite likely. “I think he will do everything in his power to do that and I also think he will stand by when the president pardons Flynn and Manafort and Stone.” Also, “absolutely” Rudy Giuliani.
The RNC has a history of mailing out mailers that look like anything but RNC mailers. I guess that is the best way to get people to read their money grabs and propaganda paperwork. This week the Census Bureau's director, Steven Dillingham, was brought before the House Oversight Committee to discuss myriad issues, including Census Day. But one issue that was on the forefront of Rep. Katie Porter's mind was the fake RNC mailer that pretended to be from the Census Bureau - and what the Census Bureau plans to do about it.
In addition to discussion surrounding the Trump administration effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census (which was shot down), there is also a major concern about disinformation. Rep. Porter asked Dillingham whether he would request that the RNC stop sending out fundraising mailers that are designed to appear as though they are coming from the Census Bureau.
Porter asked: “This is not the first time that we have seen the RNC . . . try to confuse voters by sending them a mailer that imitates the census. Have you asked the RNC to cease and desist from using the term '2020 Census' or "Official census' in its mailings?”
Dillingham responded: “I would have to look and see. I’m not sure who sent that out.”
Porter responded: “I am," and then she pointed at small print on the form indicating it was from the RNC.
Dillingham reluctantly said: “We will study this problem."
NARRATOR: He will not study this problem.
“Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, “you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down. A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2020
.....biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.” Peter Baker @nytimes The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2020
When Attorney General William Barr told ABC News that President Trump's tweets are distracting him from doing his job, some observers naively saw it as a sign of a genuine rift with the president (until Trump signaled that he wasn't upset), while others saw it as a transparently phony effort to conceal the fact that Trump and Barr are working in sync.
And then there are the people who post in right-wing comment sections, who suspect Barr isn't enough of a hatchet man for the president. Here's how commenters at Gateway Pundit responded to news of the Barr interview:
There were white-supremacist rallies scheduled Saturday in two American cities a continent apart—one in Washington, D.C., and the other in Portland, Oregon—and the outcomes at each of them proved to be very revealing about the nature of fascist organizing in the 21st century. The main lesson: Their claims that “antifascists help our recruitment” notwithstanding, racists deeply loathe and fear being confronted about their hate, particularly (but not necessarily only) by antifascists, and especially when they are outnumbered.
Of the two events, the march by the explicitly fascist group Patriot Front through downtown Washington, D.C., was by far the most disturbing: Over a hundred white men wearing identical white masks and ballcaps, carrying specially designed travesties of the American flag with the stars replaced by a fasces (a bundle of bound rods with an ax head), the original symbol of fascism.