Saturday, February 3, 2018

Continued Stray Thoughts on the Current Political Climate

With the cascade of stupid, immoral, illegal, subversive, un-American, and possibly treasonous things emitted by der Sturmtrumper, his pet Congress, his supporters, and his administration reaching levels that make it nearly impossible for any sane person to keep up with, I’ve started just keeping a running list of observations on the matter.  Every time the list reaches critical mass, I suppose I’ll post it and start a new one.  Can’t hurt; might help.  Here’s the most recent list:


1. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has weighed in on the extremist gerrymandering perpetrated by the state GOP in the wake of the 2010 census, and – perhaps surprisingly in this hyperpartisan age – has declared that it “clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional.”  The Court forbid the use of those gerrymandered districts in the May 15 state primary and ordered the state legislature to come up with an acceptable plan by February 9 or it would write its own plan.  “To comply with this Order,” the Court continued, “any congressional districting plan shall consist of: congressional districts of compact and contiguous territory; as nearly equal in population as practicable; and which do not divide any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township, or ward, except where necessary to ensure equality of population.”  In other words, monstrosities such as Seventh district (which would have been mine if I were still living where I grew up) will no longer be allowed. 

Given that the PA GOP got roughly half the votes in that state and still ended up with 13 of 18 House seats, this decision is long overdue.  It is also very unlikely to be overturned in federal court as it rests solely on the state constitution, and perhaps it is a sign that the brazen theft of electoral power committed by the GOP across the country might be coming to an end.  [EDIT: Well, when power is at stake and the law is against them you can always count on the GOP to break the law.  The Pennsylvania GOP has flatly refused to comply with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court order because reasons.  Grab your popcorn!]

2. Yes, theft.  Consider Wisconsin, which is one of the worst-gerrymandered states in the country (along with North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and – just to prove that sometimes the Democrats aren’t any better – Maryland).  In 2012, in the first Wisconsin elections after the Great Gerrymander, the GOP won 47% of the vote and ended up with 61% of the legislature.  If you think that’s democracy, well, I’ll assume you voted for der Sturmtrumper too.

3. The Pennsylvania decision is part of a larger willingness by the courts to address – finally – the corrosive effects of partisan gerrymandering.  Now they have a test to apply to electoral maps – “a district map is invalid if (1) it was enacted with the discriminatory intent of benefiting a particular party and handicapping its opponent; (2) it has produced a discriminatory effect in the form of a large and durable partisan asymmetry in favor of the mapmaking party; and (3) no legitimate justification exists for this effect.”  (James A. Wynn, Jr., who wrote the opinion striking down North Carolina’s shameful map).  Clearly the legislatures won’t solve this problem – they created it, and they benefit from it, so why would they? – and yet it needs to be solved.  Restoring competitive elections would go no small way toward taking the hyperpartisan edge off of American politics and if that happens perhaps we can actually have a government again instead of a braying collection of extremists like the one we’re stuck with now.

4. Der Sturmtrumper and his minions are boasting about the fact that 863,000 women joined the workforce during the first 11 months of his administration, which – given their position on women doing anything other than staying in the kitchen and making them “a home cooked dinner every night at six” (hi there, Missouri GOP Senate candidate Courtland Sykes!  And you seem to have forgotten your dog whistle!) – is rather surprising.   It’s even more surprising when you remember that this is 34% fewer women joining the work force over the same period in each of the previous two years (when, oh, the Democrat was in office, right?), the smallest increase since 2012 (right after the recession and when, who was in charge again?), and below the historical norm going back to 1964.  The GOP: politics for people who can’t math.

5. I made the mistake of engaging with a GOP troll on Facebook a short while ago – he was posting gibberish on a friend’s page, trying to claim for der Sturmtrumper achievements that were the tail end of trends had been happening for nearly a decade prior and being rather snotty about it in the process – and I even went out to the Department of Labor’s website to find a graph that conclusively proved my point, only to discover that he had already posted it in order to cherry-pick a few random statistics lower down on the same page.  Dude, not only can you not write a coherent sentence, you can’t even read your own graph!  That’s when I hit the “turn off notifications for this post” button, because once someone is that far burrowed up into their own lower intestine there is no further point to engagement with them.  Can’t do math, can’t read graphs, can’t write, rah, rah, GOP.

6. Well, the Satanic Temple has finally done what I’ve been threatening to do and use the religious “freedom” bills so beloved of the blasphemous Dominionists of the GOP against them.  They successfully challenged one of the punitive abortion restrictions implemented in Missouri on the grounds that they violated the sincerely held religious beliefs of one of their members, and the Missouri GOP backed down.  For those who want to know, the Satanist Temple does not believe in a literal Satan but sees the Biblical figure as a metaphor for rebellion against tyranny.  And don’t we need that these days.

7. Former RNC Chair Michael Steele certainly has figured out the truth behind the blasphemous Dominionists who make up the evangelical right wing base of der Sturmtrumper, a bit late but better than never.  Tony Perkins – the doofus who runs the right-wing noise factory known as the Family Research Council (really, that’s what it’s called!) – recently said that der Sturmtrumper should get a “mulligan” (a do-over, for those not rich white men and up on their golf lingo) for his affair with a porn star shortly after the birth of his child and for the six figures of hush money that he paid her to keep it quiet.  Steele’s response was simple.  “Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again.  I don’t want to hear it,” he said.  “After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter?  The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter?  The outright behavior and lies don’t matter?  Just shut up.”

8. But lies don’t matter, not to the “Christians” of the far right.  John Pavlovitz put it pretty well, really. “Dear White Evangelicals,” he wrote.  “I need to tell you something: People have had it with you.  They’re done.  They want nothing to do with you any longer, and here’s why.  They see your hypocrisy, your inconsistency, your incredibly selective mercy, and your thinly veiled supremacy. … They recognize the toxic source of your duality.  They see that pigmentation and party are your sole deities.  They see that you aren’t interested in perpetuating the love of God or emulating the heart of Jesus.  They see that you aren’t burdened to love the least, or to be agents of compassion, or to care for your Muslim, gay, African, female or poor neighbors as yourself.  They see that all you’re really interested in doing is making a God in your own ivory image and demanding that the world bow down to it.  They recognize this all about white, Republican Jesus – not dark-skinned Jesus of Nazareth. … You’ve lost an audience with millions of wise, decent, good-hearted, faithful people with eyes to see this ugliness.  You’ve lost any moral high ground or spiritual authority with a generation.  You’ve lost any semblance of Christlikeness.  You’ve lost the plot.  And most of all you’ve lost your soul.”

9. And so the #TrumpShutdown ended with a whimper rather than a bang, as some of the more responsible people on both sides of the aisle finally managed to work out a deal and someone convinced der Sturmtrumper to sign it (maybe he thought it was a check to another porn star?).  In exchange for a six-year funding of CHIP – enough to get past the next presidential election, you’ll note – and a public, explicit promise from Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on a mutually acceptable compromise on DACA, the Democrats agreed to vote for the continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8.  Naturally there has been much uninformed shouting about how the Democrats “caved” and abandoned the Dreamers.  Really?  Are people that blind?  Yes, McConnell is the least trustworthy man in Washington, which is saying something.  But two things here: First, the GOP holds unified control over the federal government and was perfectly happy to let 9,000,000 American children go without health care in order to fund their tax breaks for the wealthy.  Mere days beforehand it looked like that was a done deal.  But now that is off the table – children’s health cannot be used as a partisan weapon by the GOP anymore, which is a tremendous political and moral victory for the Democrats that removes a big club that the GOP could have used and had been using.  Second, folks, get real – Democrats expect McConnell to break his promise, because precedent says that’s pretty much the sure thing here.  And then where are the Democrats?  Three weeks down the line (i.e. not much time, really), without having to defend CHIP, with the clear and public betrayal by McConnell to make the blame for the shutdown even more obviously GOP-centric, and with exactly the same leverage and power as they had when the government shut down in January.  So zero cost and a big win on CHIP?  Yeah, I don’t think that counts as caving.

10. There’s a lot of frankly nonsensical talk about DACA among the sort of right-wing extremist happy to destroy families and deport taxpayers in order to prove an ideological point, and eventually the rational mind just rebels.  If you’re one of those goons (and honestly, what are you doing here if you are?), please get the following through your head: 1) The Dreamers pay taxes – over $11 billion in income taxes last year – which is more than der Sturmtrumper can say.  2) They are not eligible for welfare benefits, unlike der Sturmtrumper’s supporters.  3) They cannot have a criminal record if they are to qualify for DACA, also unlike der Sturmtrumper’s supporters.  And 4) they came here as children and therefore have no green cards or permanent residency cards and no path to citizenship.  They’ve been here their whole lives.  To deport them is morally senseless, economically unsound, and politically shortsighted, all very much like der Sturmtrumper’s supporters, alas.

11.  Folks, keep an eye on North Korea, as der Sturmtrumper’s administration seems to be maneuvering to get us into nuclear war there soon.  We have an unusual number of aircraft carrier groups in the area, and for the first time ever both of the nuclear-capable bombers in the US arsenal are now positioned within range of North Korea.  In all probability this will come to just more sabre-rattling and dick-waggling, particularly since South Korea seems to have taken some of the wind out of these sails by actually talking with the North Koreans, at least one hopes it will, but it’s worth paying attention to nonetheless.  Watch out for a “Wag the Dog” scenario here.

12. House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes – the self-righteous partisan warrior who tried to crush the Mueller investigation last summer – has now declared that he has a Secret Memo describing some kind of plot within the FBI to besmirch the good name of der Sturmtrumper and bring about a coup of some kind.  He’s got the “highly classified” secret intelligence to prove it!  Except he can’t show it to you, because it’s “highly classified”!  You’ll have to trust him, good citizen!  And so, apparently, will the Senate, since it’s somehow too classified to be shown to the Senate Intelligence Committee – a fact that seems to be pissing off its Chair, GOP Senator Richard Burr, to no end, as Jim Wright notes.  Nobody can see it!  Not the Senate, not the FBI, not even the Justice Department!  The intelligence is just too secret!  Though not secret enough that Nunes and apparently half the GOP caucus can’t be blabbing about it ad nauseum to the press, mind you.  [NOTE: apparently he changed his mind about showing it to people: see below.]

As Jim Wright noted in a Facebook post (since expanded into a full blog post that is one of the more damning indictments of the abuse of power that likely led to this memo that you will ever read), “What intelligence?  What agency produced this intelligence?  No, think about it. Who's tasked and empowered to investigate the FBI? Who is that? Who is empowered by force of law to investigate the FBI's Russia Investigation? Who?  I mean, it's not the CIA or DIA or NSA or any other federal intelligence agency. That's not their job. Their job is foreign intelligence. They don't investigate domestic law enforcement. In fact, there are a couple of very specific laws preventing them from doing so.  So, who investigated the FBI?  It's not a police department, because the FBI *is* the federal police department and with the exception of the Capitol Police or the Park Service, the rest of the police are STATE or LOCAL agencies who don't answer the House Intel Committee. And who are most certainly NOT empowered to investigate the FBI.  The Secret Service doesn't do this kind of work.  So, who does that leave? The Department of Justice Inspector General?  Well yes, that would be the correct answer, the DOJ IG would be the only agency empowered to investigate the FBI.  But the DOJ IG answers to Jeff Sessions and ultimately Donald Trump. And why would the Inspector General, a member of the EXECUTIVE BRANCH turn over the results of such an investigation, assuming they actually conducted one, which they haven't, to the HOUSE Intelligence Committee without a subpoena? Of which there hasn't been one?  More, if it was the DOJ IG, why would Nunes deny a request by the Department of Justice to see the memo? And why couldn't Sessions just ask HIS OWN INSPECTOR GENERAL for the information?  So I'll ask again, WHAT INTELLIGENCE?” 

As a former Naval Intelligence Officer, he asks the right questions but he isn’t happy with any of the answers.  And if a trained expert like Jim Wright isn’t happy when it comes to these things, I really can’t see myself being happy either.  If you’re not following Jim on Facebook or reading his blog, you really are missing out.

13. Speaking of Mueller, apparently der Sturmtrumper actually did order him fired last June, something Mueller only recently learned about as he interviews current and former White House officials.  Recognizing an impeachable offense when he saw one, White House Counsel Donald F. McGahan II informed der Sturmtrumper that this would have catastrophic consequences and threatened to resign rather than ask the Justice Department to carry out such an order, and der Sturmtrumper backed down.  Keep that popcorn popping, boys and girls!

14. According to de Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper, the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD was instrumental in alerting American intelligence to the scope and success of Russian agents interfering with the 2016 election.  They penetrated the home network of Cozy Bear, a Russian hacker group located near Red Square in Moscow known for attacking governments, energy corporations and telecom companies, and were able to observe them in real time for about two and a half years.  They even hacked a security camera in the building and could observe and identify the Russians in real time.  It is this Dutch intelligence that is the foundation of the American intelligence community’s knowledge that Russia actively worked to subvert the American election on behalf of der Sturmtrumper.  The NSA and FBI worked closely with the Dutch to counter the Russians whenever possible and were able to observe the Russians penetrating der Sturmtrumper’s White House.  It’s the one of the foundations of the collusion investigation that Mueller is running.  And it’s coming to a criminal trial near you!

15. Here in Wisconsin, where the GOP has been testing out its petit-Fascist programs for almost a decade now, the GOP-ruled State Senate voted to remove the top elections and ethics officials without any public hearings whatsoever.  They are apparently annoyed that these officials had the absolute temerity to do their actual jobs rather than kowtow to GOP partisan demands, and of course we can’t have people obeying the laws when there is power at stake.  Personal and party loyalty is the only currency this group of authoritarian wannabes accepts, after all.  The Election Commission voted 4-2 (including one GOP yes vote, so credit where due) to reinstate the guy the Senate got rid of, and now it will go to the courts, so we’ll see how this pans out.  The Founding Fathers would have taken these wannabes outside and had them flogged. 

16. This country saw 11 school shootings in 23 days to start the new year.  Eleven.  And more since then.  This doesn’t happen anywhere in the civilized world.  It doesn’t even happen in war zones like Afghanistan or Iraq, where guns are commonplace.  There has been no outcry, no particularly focused news coverage, and no possibility of any real change – we just accept this as normal because GUNZ AND FREEDUMB AND MURCA and fuck those kids we’ll just make more.  There are no words to express my contempt for the people who can look at this sorry state of affairs and see nothing worth changing.

17. Isn’t it at least somewhat revealing that the five states with the highest gun death rates (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Alabama, and Nevada) have an average gun ownership rater of exactly 50.0% while the five states with the lowest gun death rates (Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York) have an average gun ownership of 14%, just over a quarter of the high death rate states?  And yet you hear ammosexuals cry out constantly that guns make you safer.  Again – politics for people who can’t math.

18. 82% of the wealth created in 2017 went into the hands of the richest 1% of the population.  The three wealthiest Americans have as much wealth as the poorest 160,000,000 (roughly half the population of the United States).  But sure, GOP – tell me again why those people need a tax cut.

19. Der Sturmtrumper has now slapped a 30% tariff on imported solar panels, which will – according to Now1Solar, one of the companies hurt by this – cost somewhere north of 20,000 American jobs in a growing field that will confer global power on the country that can master it.  One company – SunPower – has already announced that it will halt a $20,000,000 expansion and all of the jobs that were to go with it.  “These were positions that we were recruiting for that we are going to stop,” noted SunPower CEO Tom Werner.  More people work in solar than in coal and oil combined in this country, and a competent administration would be working hard to promote American jobs and energy independence.  But no, we have to protect a coal industry that died in the 1920s and just hasn’t had the grace to fall down yet.  The level of malicious incompetence of this administration just boggles the sentient mind.

20. Remember how der Sturmtrumper and his enablers, lackeys, minions, and yes-critters all gathered round the burning fire of the economy to insist that his trillion-dollar giveaway of a tax plan would be used by the corporations receiving all that money to create jobs?  Remember how the CEOs publicly denied this, much to the shell-shocked amazement of der Sturmtrumper’s lead economic minion?  Remember how the insistence just got louder after that?  How’s that working out for ya, America?  Kimberly-Clark, the mega-conglomerate that makes Kleenex and Huggies, among other things, just announced that they will cut over 5,000 jobs and pay for the administrative costs with their share of the tax cut.  Walmart made a big splash by announcing bonuses and then laid off thousands of workers by closing more than 60 Sam’s Clubs.  Folks, when people show you who they are, believe them.

21. My friend Jack has been keeping track of the “fine-tuned machine” that is der Sturmtrumper’s administration, and notes that as of the one-year anniversary of der Sturmtrumper’s inauguration, 392 (62%) of 633 top level federal positions that need to be filled by presidential appointment are vacant, and 244 (39%) don’t even have a nominee.  On top of that, 60% of senior career diplomats have resigned or retired.  I think there’s some sand in those gears, son.

22. Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) on the fabled Nunes Memo that the GOP is all hot and bothered about: “As a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I read the partisan, classified Nunes House Intel memo.  I can’t talk about it.  However, here’s an analogy.  Remember Geraldo Rivera and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults?  It’s like that, but Geraldo Rivera has more integrity.”

23. So der Sturmtrumper has decided that he’s completely above the law now and doesn’t actually need to do his Constitutionally-mandated duty of executing legislation that has been duly passed by Congress.  The Senate voted to put sanctions on Russia by a bipartisan majority of 98-2, and the House vote was 419-3.  Der Sturmtrumper is now refusing to enforce this.  This is a direct threat to the separation of powers, a willful violation of both law and Constitution, yet another impeachable offense, and nothing of any concern to a GOP determined to enable a dictatorship.  The fact that the GOP Congress is now investigating the FBI and the Department of Justice – two groups that exist to check executive power – is just icing on the Fascist cake.  MAGA, right?

24. At what point do we just admit that der Sturmtrumper and his enablers, minions, cronies, sycophants, and lackeys in Congress have declared war on our own government in order to further their own despotism?  The longer you wait to see the obvious, the more likely they will succeed.

25. And now the GOP has decided that it can release Nunes’ fabled memo after all!  Of course, you’re not going to get to see the response to this memo, the one that tries to put it into some kind of context rather than just cherry-picking whatever suits the predetermined conclusion.  Nor are you going to see the intelligence that went into it – just Nunes’ opinion.  In other words, there is no way to check any of the accusations that will be made in that memo – it’s just Nunes’ opinion, and Nunes has made his opinion on such matters clear, so this will add nothing to the discussion.  As Jim Wright, who spent a career as an intelligence officer in the Navy, observes, “Nunes’ education, training, and experience is in agriculture.  Specifically: Cows.  He is a certified expert in BULLSHIT.  And without the intel, without corroboration, this memo is exactly that, nothing but bullshit.”

26. Shep Smith on Fox agrees.  "Devin Nunes wrote the memo currently in question. He will not share it with investigators. The Trump Justice Department wants to see it—he won't let them. The same Trump department says it should not be made public, as it would damage the nation. … Many who've seen the memo say it's misleading, distracting, and lacking context.  The memo itself is in the conservative discussion mix while the special counsel investigating Russian interference into our democracy is apparently about to interview the president of the United States while seeking to determine whether he's colluded with the Russians or obstructed justice.  A memo can be a weapon of partisan mass distraction, especially at a pivotal moment in American democracy when it behooves the man in charge for supporters to believe the institutions can't be trusted, the investigators are corrupt, and the news media are liars. Context matters."  And when the GOP is trying its best to destroy any check on dictatorial authority, then not presenting the context matters even more.

27. For those of you who still aren’t convinced that the modern Republican Party is rapidly heading down the same path as the NSDAP from the 1930s (those were the Nazis, kids – try to keep up), there is always GOP candidate Paul Nehlen, who is running for Congress because he thinks Paul Ryan is some kind of closet liberal.  Nehlen is annoyed that people are criticizing his “America First” positions (uh, dude, you are aware that “America First” was the slogan of the American Fascists in the 1930s and the KKK in the 1920s, right?) so he got onto the Twitter machine and tweeted out “a list of ‘verified’ Twitter users who have attacked me *in just the last month alone* for my #AmericaFirst positions.  Of those 81 people, 74 are Jews, while only 7 are non-Jews.”  He then appended a helpful list of names, Twitter handles, and religious affiliations.  And he’s just astonished that people think he’s a Nazi.  ASTONISHED!  This guy is a malignant stain on the x-ray of the American body politic, and he’s right at home in the modern GOP.

28. On that note, it’s instructive that der Sturmtrumper’s minions saw fit to harass Arizona State Representative Eric Descheenie, calling him an illegal immigrant and yelling at him to “Get out of the country!”  Descheenie is Navajo.  His ancestors were here for thousands of years before any of those pasty America First right wing extremists decided that anyone with brown skin must be some kind of intruder here.  But please, don’t confuse the Sturmtrumper minions with reality.

29. No, I didn’t watch the State of the Union.  If I wanted to be lied to by an idiot, I’d buy a used car.

30. William Ruckelshaus served in the Nixon Administration.  He was appointed in 1970 to lead the EPA, which most Republicans today prefer to forget was a creation of the GOP back when it had sanity.  He also was in the Department of Justice and resigned rather than fire the independent prosecutor investigating Watergate in 1973, an even known as the Saturday Night Massacre and one which der Sturmtrumper seems to heading for as a reprise.  Ruckelshaus is not happy with Scott Pruitt, current head of the EPA and boil upon the arse of humanity, or the GOP orthodoxy that climate change must be fictitious because they declare it to be so.  “It’s a threat to the country,” he said of the GOP willful ignorance on climate change.  “If you don’t step up and take care of real problems, and don’t do anything about it, lives will be sacrificed.  They certainly are killing everything.”  He described Pruitt in particular as someone who does not believe in the mission of the department he supposedly leads and who is doing everything he can to destroy it.  Remember when we had a Republican Party you could disagree with and still respect?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have that again?

31. Here in Wisconsin, Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) is actively denying Wisconsin citizens representation in their own legislature by refusing to call special elections to fill open seats in the State Senate and Assembly.  Note that the law specifically says that “any vacancy in the office of state senator or representative to the Assembly occurring before the 2nd Tuesday in May in the year in which a regular election is held to fill that seat shall be filled as promptly as possible by special election.”  Both open seats have been so since 2017.  The last state legislative election saw a reliably GOP seat switch to Democratic.  Do the math.  Like so many other GOP officials, Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) is perfectly happy to break the law if it furthers his own power.

32. So now the Nunes memo has been released, in a breathtakingly cynical ploy to distract the country from the Russian noose and discredit the investigators into der Sturmtrumper’s crimes.  Der Sturmtrumper’s own Justice Department called it an “extremely reckless” move, one that had clear implications compromising national security and intelligence.  But this is just part of a larger war between the GOP and the rule of law, and between the GOP and American security.  “The memo itself is far less important than the fact that GOP Congressmen are now at war with our own law enforcement and intelligence community, something in a lifetime of being a Republican I never expected to see,” said Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College.  “This will end badly.”

33. Oh, yes it will.  CNBC is now reporting that der Sturmtrumper is seriously considering not only firing Robert Mueller but actively prosecuting him, though “it’s unclear what charges Mueller could possibly face in such a situation.”  Make no mistake – if der Sturmtrumper goes through with this, all hell will break loose.  It will be an open declaration of dictatorship, and at that point all bets are off.

34. Well, there has been enough time for Actual Adults to read the Nunes memo and the verdict is pretty much unanimous: there’s nothing there.  As Zack Beauchamp wrote on Vox, “There is no proof in the memo that the FBI is biased against Trump, no proof of abuse of surveillance powers by the FBI, and no proof that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia is fundamentally flawed.  The memo is a piece of partisan spin, and not a particularly compelling one at that.  Republicans who claimed it was anything else have been egregiously misrepresenting what the memo actually says.”  This is a point echoed by legal scholar and former trial attorney Orin Kerr on Lawfare, who eviscerates the central claim that the bias of a source somehow taints the investigation that comes from it.  Kerr uses actual evidence and citations to prove his point, too, which is more than Nunes does.

35. Beauchamp’s takedown is pretty thorough, actually.  The memo does not actually support its most important claim: that the FBI’s use of surveillance under FISA represents an abuse of the process and a deliberate attempt to undermine der Sturmtrumper’s campaign.  But you know, none of the evidence (or assertions, really, since no actual evidence is introduced) actually proves any of that.  And even if you buy the idea that the FBI relied on a source with a grudge to get the FISA approval, well, how is that different from any other criminal investigation?  “People typically don’t go to the authorities with damaging information about people they like,” Beauchamp observes.  “The key question in an application like this isn’t whether the source liked the target; it’s whether the specific claims they’re making are credible.  The memo doesn’t make that case [that they were not credible].”  It is full of innuendo and implication but no actual assertions – largely because actual assertions would a) require actual evidence, and b) would lead to embarrassing revelations about how deeply involved right-wing sources were in the creation of the evidence that Nunes et al are so desperate to use to distract us from the Mueller investigation.  Beauchamp concludes that the memo actually justifies Mueller’s investigation.  In its last paragraph it notes that the investigation is also based on George Papadopoulos, which means that even if you somehow swallowed the happy drugs and decided that all the stuff about Carter Page needed to be tossed, the investigation still has grounding.  “First, the FBI and the Justice Department didn’t base their application to monitor Page entirely on Steele’s work,” notes John Cassidy in the New Yorker, “And second, and more important, the Trump-Russia investigation didn’t begin with the Steele dossier.”

36. Some other reactions from Actual Adults:

“That’s it?  Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen.  For what?  DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”  (Former FBI Director James Comey – remember him?  The guy whose firing led to all this?)

“The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.  The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded.  Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows.  If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”  (Senator John McCain, R-AZ)

“The FBI and Department of Justice are important to our country.  While we must maintain oversight of these institutions, it has to be done in a bipartisan manner – not for partisan reasons or political gain.  The manner in which this was done was wrong and does a disservice to our country.”  (Governor John Kasich, R-OH)

“The President’s decision to publicly release a misleading memo attacking DOJ & FBI is a transparent attempt to discredit these institutions and undermine Mueller’s probe.”  (Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA)

“The release of the Nunes Memo by House Intelligence Committee Republicans and the White House, over the objections of the FBI and Department of Justice, is reckless and demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the truth.  This unprecedented public disclosure of classified material during an ongoing criminal investigation is dangerous to our national security. … Unlike almost every House member who voted in favor of this memo’s release, I have actually read the underlying documents on which the Nunes Memo was based.  They simply do not support its conclusions.”  (Senator Mark Warner, D-VA)

“I had many fights with Congressional Dems over the years on national security matters, but I never witnessed the type of reckless partisan behavior I am now seeing from Nunes and House Republicans.  Absence of moral and ethical leadership in WH is fueling this government crisis.”  (Former CIA Director John Brennan)

“The folks at The Onion after reading the Nunes Memo have sent a cease and desist order to the House Intelligence Committee for stealing their material.”  (Former RNC Chair Michael Steele)

37. I’ll let Eugene Robinson have the last word here, from his Washington Post article.  “Presidents don’t win fights with the FBI.  Donald Trump apparently wants to learn this lesson the hard way.


LucyInDisguise said...

1. Popcorn? Hell, this is going to require 3 bowls of Cheerios and 2 cans of spinach.

12. I believe Jim Wright should be named “Honored Custodian of Our Nation’s Moral High Ground”.

14. So the whole “Little Dutch Boy with a finger in the dyke” wasn’t just a fairy tale after all?

16. Kids are easy & inexpensive to replace using unskilled labor and a decent insurance plan. Once Obama comes for my guns - Oh, wait …

17. Nevada? Really? How dare you impugn the reputation of my chosen home state? Nobody is supposed to know how many guns I (don’t) have! And I don’t have 50% less (fewer?) guns than my neighbors! And if they found that out I’d be less safe. And guns do make you safer! Let me tell ya … once you blow off a body part or kill someone you get yerself some serious safety! I think it may be something like a button or switch or sometin’. Also, since you brought The Chief into this whole post thingy, take a look at THIS:

Should be enshrined in law. Just sayin’. Oh yeah, and almost forgot this: [/sarcasm]

18. ? <<<< that key is Shift / (EDIT: never mind. I read that last sentence as a question, not a request … silly brain, Trix are for wabbits. )

19. The 30% tariff has also been tacked on to Large Imported Washing Machines. Really? Solar Panels and Large Washing Machines??? Where is the fucking logic in that?!!!??!??! We went down to buy Mama her Brandspanking New LG Washer Machine Christmas Present (it’s a very long story) and the damn thing is $137.68 more expensive this week than last week! Someone please explain to me how my not buying that washer helps the economy.

20. And American Icon Harley-Davidson is closing one of it’t US assembly plants and moving the operation to India.

21. And Rachel Maddow is keeping track of just how many of the Rump officials that were appointed have been fired, quit in disgust, or were forced to resign in disgrace. It's a very long list.

22. And the truth will set you free. Or something. (I don't know ... just felt like I needed to say something to acknowledge this!)

23. And I can’t wait to receive and start wearing my MANEA hat.

29. Used Car Salespeople are not idiots. They are unscrupulous, highly trained experts at convincing you to buy more car than you can afford with the money you don’t have the ability to earn, but everything they do is up front, open, and legal. The very fact that you acknowledge the truth that you know they are not above lying is evidence of this. Please do not compare them to Rump in such an insulting innuendo like this. [/snark] :)

34. “Kerr uses actual evidence and citations to prove his point, too, which is more than Nunes does.” [If I may, please allow me to edit for you: “… which is more than Nunes has the intellect to do.” ]

37. And for that, I will actually break out the hot air popcorn machine.

And, I can't believe how many sentences in my not exactly democratic response this post I have begun with the grammatically inappropriate and nearly verboten word 'and'.

I feel like such a dangling participle.


David said...

Hi Lucy! Back in town and ready to write! Even made it home before kickoff... :)

12 - I'd support that. Don't know if Jim would, but I would.

14 - Don't underestimate people who live below sea level right next to the sea. They beat the ocean. They can beat you.

16/17 - I've long maintained that Americans would rather have their guns than their children because guns are craftsmanship but children can be manufactured by unskilled labor. And I've loved the Bang Bang Sanity series since Jim started writing them. He'll never run out of word fodder, because we'll never run out of cannon fodder.

When Americans decide they care more about their guns than they do about their children, things will change. Until then, no.

19 - Well, I suppose when your clothes get too dirty you'll have to buy new ones. Or you'll go naked and support our burgeoning prison industry. Either way.

21 - It is a very long list. Rats. Sinking ship. Etc.

22 - "The truth shall make ye fret." (Terry Pratchett)

23 - Pics!!

29 - Fair point. :)

34 - Also fair point.

Grammar - it's a trap!

LucyInDisguise said...

19. Well, now, doesn't that bring to mind a picture no-one would care to see ...

23. See above.

Out of order, but 16/17 - is it just me, or is there something wrong with that last sentence?

Eagles by 11 - Touchdown and a field goal is not enough. (I'm not really very good at handicapping. I had the Bengals by 2 in XXIII.)


James A. Brown said...

I look forward to these posts above all others except perhaps XKCD webcomics.

David said...

@Lucy - No, it's what I meant. Jim will never run out of material (word fodder) because we'll apparently never do anything about how many children we shoot in this country (cannon fodder).

@James - Well, that's high praise indeed. Thanks!

LucyInDisguise said...

Not that sentence, THIS one:

"When Americans decide they care more about their guns than they do about their children, things will change. Until then, no."

I've re-read that several times. Does not compute.


David said...

Oh, THAT sentence.

"Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you." (Willie Wonka)

It should read "When Americans decide they care more about their children than their guns, things will change. Until then, no."

We already care more about our guns than our kids today, as a culture, and look where it's gotten us.

Nice catch - I've read that half a dozen times and missed it each time. Sigh.

LucyInDisguise said...

That is, in point of fact, what I thought your were trying to say, but every time I read it - it made my brain hurt so I thought I'd ask.

Willie would be proud that you have quoted him here.