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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Journal Archives

Drew Magary: Reaction to the Mueller Report News Has Been a Goddamn Embarrassment


Reaction to the Mueller Report News Has Been a Goddamn Embarrassment
Drew Magary
March 25, 2019 5:03 PM


And here, naturally, are the hobgoblins over at The Wall Street Journal, gleefully declaring the libs owned for good:

All Americans should be pleased with the end of the collusion illusion.

Hey, that rhymes! You can smell the giddiness emanating from your phone when you read all that shit. From the day Trump started his presidency until now, the political class in America has kept their standards for him so low that he can elicit favorable coverage simply by not murdering a puppy on live television. The issuance of Barr’s letter—which clears Trump of obstruction charges but shouldn’t be taken at face value otherwise—represents a victory for Trump not over Mueller, but over a mainstream press that, in order to dodge charges of bias, always holds Republicans to the lowest possible standard. Donnie Jr. is gonna go shoot down a spotted owl to celebrate the occasion.

This is the Republican Party’s big prize for years of gaming the refs and viciously spinning any news in their favor. They made it so that it’s widely portrayed as good news that the president is somehow not a Russian double agent. Again, not exactly a high bar to clear, but this asshole needed two years to clear it. The investigation itself led to a ton of indictments for dozens of people and actual jail time for the likes of Paul Manafort, but I guess it's a win because there was no pee tape/evidence of active collusion? Meanwhile, a Democratic 2020 candidate gets raked over the coals for farting in a bowling alley, and liberals as a whole get framed as a bunch of Seth Abramsons who put all their eggs into Mueller’s basket. Their “hysteria” over this Russia business was definitely just that and nothing more. No hysteria gets to be real. For now, the culmination of waiting for this inquiry to wrap up is just another occasion for liberals like me to eat shit, as if we haven’t done enough of that for years now.

That’s the most depressing aspect of what’s happened so far. Even without knowing what the Mueller Report will contain, the past two days serve as a painful reminder that whatever is in it—and I’m still foolishly hoping for piss-tape screen grabs on every page—will get both sides–ed into oblivion anyway. For both sides of the D.C. power structure—media, party leaders, lobbyists, etc.—Trump potentially beating the rap was always the preferred outcome, because it meant everyone could go back to business as usual, and it meant no pesky impeachment would prevent them from getting another two-plus years of Trump coverage. Steny Hoyer probably went out for fucking pizza to celebrate. Here was the New York Times editorial board two days ago, saluting Trump even BEFORE Barr had written his missive, and declaring the Mueller report “a vindication of the rule of law.” As if the rule of law weren't partially responsible for this country currently being a shitshow. They were just happy Trump didn’t have Mueller arrested and shot, I guess. The process mattered to them more than the result, which means Trump’s inherent awfulness could be dexterously avoided.

This is what happens when you hand coverage of a vital investigation over to a bunch of procedural fetishists: Members of the political machine who were perturbed by Trump’s willful disregard of their precious norms and hoping those norms would survive his onslaught. They had no better paladin for their cause than Mueller, a respected D.C. establishment lifer who has spent the past two years wearing white shirts to work and doggedly investigating the president without getting chesty about it. David Von Drehle of The Washington Post, no stranger to propping up D.C. elites, even went so far as to call him “a real-life Atticus Finch.” The Times is adamant that Mueller’s full report should be released for public consumption, seemingly less because of what could be in it and more because they deem it the proper course of action. It’s what Bob would have wanted.

This is the system at work. The American political system feeds on corruption from the right and complacency—plus also some corruption, too!—from the left. It’s the system that gave us Trump, and it’s the system that exists almost exclusively to perpetuate itself. Liberals like me had to rely on Mueller to somehow blow this presidency apart, because there was no reason to have faith in any other political faction to do the job capably. But that was stupid now, wasn’t it? Everything about our political class was set up to lead to this very moment. That’s the biggest downer of all. For today, Trump wins. Of course he has. The game was always rigged in his favor. And if Mueller doesn’t exonerate the president, I bet the system will still leave enough wiggle room for everyone else who matters to do so.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 08:11 AM (12 replies)

Ex-CIA Officials Give 'Briefing Book' to Candidates


Ex-CIA Officials Give ‘Briefing Book’ to Candidates
March 28, 2019 at 7:11 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

“Two former top CIA officials have compiled an unclassified report on the major national security challenges facing the United States, which they are distributing to every candidate running for president,” the Washington Post reports.

“The report, which former acting CIA directors Michael Morell and John McLaughlin call a ‘briefing book,’ is modeled on the classified oral briefing that the intelligence community provides to the nominees of each major political party running for president, usually after the nominating conventions.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 07:58 AM (0 replies)

Trump Fed pick Moore owes $75K to IRS, government claims

Trump Fed pick Moore owes $75K to IRS, government claims
By Naomi Jagoda - 03/27/19 05:32 PM EDT

The U.S. government is claiming that Stephen Moore, President Trump's pick to serve on the Federal Reserve Board, owes more than $75,000 to the IRS, according to court records.

A lien was entered against Moore in January 2018 for unpaid taxes from the 2014 tax year and additional taxes and penalties that may accrue. The unpaid balance was $75,328.80, according to a filing in circuit court in Montgomery County, Md.

A court clerk told The Guardian that Moore hasn't yet satisfied the claim.

Moore told The Guardian that he disputed the IRS's claim but was hoping to reach an agreement with the agency.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 06:07 PM (3 replies)

The NRA Is Trying to Block the Violence Against Women Act

March 27, 2019 5:05PM ET
The NRA Is Trying to Block the Violence Against Women Act
The gun lobby wants to arm abuse victims rather than remove weapons from the home
By Tim Dickinson

The National Rifle Association is preparing to punish lawmakers for voting to protect women from their stalkers and domestic abusers. The gun lobby announced this week that it will dock its grades for politicians who vote to renew the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, first passed in 1994, is up for reauthorization this session — augmented by a provision that could give law enforcement officials the power to confiscate guns from men who hurt or menace women.

NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker told the National Journal that this “red-flag” provision — intended to protect women against gun violence from men who are exhibiting violent or dangerous behaviors — is an unacceptable encroachment on individual gun ownership rights.

“It is a shame that some in the gun-control community treat the severity of domestic violence so trivially that they are willing to use it as a tool to advance a political agenda,” Baker told the publication. She added that the NRA opposes domestic violence — but is focused on adding more guns to such combustible dynamics, seeking to arm women and train them in self defense. (The NRA did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)

The NRA’s call to vote down the Violence Against Women Act could help some Republicans justify their opposition to the landmark legislation, though it could also wrongfoot some GOP moderates who are now forced to choose between protecting their female constituents and maintaining their A-rating from the fearsome gun lobby, the loss of which can invite a primary challenge.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has framed the vote in stark terms:


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 05:26 PM (4 replies)

GOP lawmakers offer paid parental leave legislation linked to Social Security

Just who exactly are they trying to impress?

GOP lawmakers offer paid parental leave legislation linked to Social Security
By Naomi Jagoda - 03/27/19 03:54 PM EDT

A group of Republicans on Wednesday introduced legislation that would allow people to pull forward some of their Social Security benefits to use for paid parental leave — the latest effort from Republicans on paid leave in recent weeks.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced legislation in the Senate, while Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) offered a companion bill in the House.

"Our proposal would enact paid family leave in America without increasing taxes, without placing new mandates on small businesses," Rubio said in a news conference.

Under the legislation, new parents would have the option to get early Social Security benefits for up to three months to finance paid parental leave. A fact sheet from Rubio and Romney said most parents below the median household income would be able to receive a benefit that would replace about two-thirds of their wages.

In exchange for receiving the paid parental leave benefit, people would either have to increase their Social Security retirement age by several months or get a reduction in their monthly Social Security benefits for the first five years of their retirements.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 05:06 PM (7 replies)

GOP senator says Special Olympics cuts will not be approved

GOP senator says Special Olympics cuts will not be approved
By Chris Mills Rodrigo - 03/27/19 03:04 PM EDT

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines Department of Education funding levels, on Wednesday rejected the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the Special Olympics.

"I’m a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics and proud that Missouri is home to the largest Special Olympics training facility in the world," Blunt said in a statement.

"I was just at the World Games and saw, as I have many times before, what a huge impact the organization has on athletes, their families, and their communities. Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program," he added.



Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 04:57 PM (43 replies)

Mueller's many loose ends

What's posted is just the tip of the iceberg...

Mueller’s many loose ends
What comes next now that the probe is finished.
By Andrew Prokopandrew@vox.com Mar 27, 2019, 8:00am EDT


On the topic of obstruction of justice, Mueller’s report specifically says it “does not conclude that the President committed a crime,” but that it “also does not exonerate him,” according to Barr. (Barr then proceeded to exonerate Trump himself.)

That, of course, raises the questions of what exactly Mueller found on obstruction. Here, the special counsel is known to have investigated:

The circumstances around Trump’s firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
Trump’s conversations with FBI Director James Comey and his eventual firing of Comey
Trump’s pressures on Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the Russia investigation
Trump’s treatment of and contacts with various other Justice Department and intelligence officials, with regards to investigations implicating him or his associates
Whether Trump or his associates may have hinted at or offered pardons to witnesses in exchange for not incriminating him
False testimony from Trump associates to congressional committees investigating Russian interference
Trump’s involvement in crafting a false public story about Donald Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer

Barr’s letter also says that “most” of the presidential actions Mueller analyzed in the obstruction report have “been the subject of public reporting.” But most is not all, so there appear to be some potentially obstructive Trump actions we don’t yet know about. So what are they?


Barr writes that Mueller did not find that any Trump associates conspired or coordinated with the Russian government on the Kremlin’s two main efforts to interfere with the election: the Internet Research Agency’s social media propaganda operation, and the hacking and leaking of Democrats’ emails.

Yet Barr’s summary mentions nothing about ... well, many, many other topics related to the Trump team and Russia that we know Mueller has investigated. These include:

The Trump Organization’s business dealings related to Russia
The Trump Tower Moscow talks
Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower
Russian efforts to influence US policy on sanctions and Ukraine, both during the election and afterward
Paul Manafort’s handing over Trump polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik
Manafort’s efforts to reach out to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska
Connections between the NRA
Potential efforts to coordinate with WikiLeaks over the stolen emails
An offer from Gulf princes to the Trump team for election help on social media
Russia and other foreign-tied donations to Trump’s inauguration
Efforts by Jared Kushner to set up back-channel communications with Russia after the election

Barr’s summary tells us nothing of what became of Mueller’s inquiries into all these matters. But there are a few possibilities.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 08:32 AM (0 replies)

So Trump Didn't Collude -- He's Still the Most Dangerous President in U.S. History


So Trump Didn’t Collude -- He’s Still the Most Dangerous President in U.S. History
Harold Meyerson
March 26, 2019
With or without Russia, the president poses a grave threat to our republic.

This article originally appeared at The Los Angeles Times. Subscribe here.


Trump’s most glaring misdeeds never involved, or required, collusion. He didn’t need Putin’s help to slander Clinton—or to become the most dangerous president in our history.

When great nations topple, it’s usually because they’re rotting from within, with one set of their residents pitted against another.Trump’s chief contribution has been to accelerate America’s rot by demonizing a large portion of the nation’s citizenry. His deep-seated racism has resonated with many anxious, provincial whites and set the stage for the rise we’ve seen in hate crimes. His fragile narcissism—deeming anyone, dead (John McCain) or alive, who fails to extol him to be an enemy worthy of destruction—has poisoned an already vituperative public discourse.

To be sure, Trump doesn’t pry apart our republic all by himself. He has plenty of help from the echo chamber of Fox News and talk radio, and from complaisant and cowed Republican elected officials who fear that their party’s voters will oust them in primaries unless they support Trump’s broadsides or at least mute their criticism of him.

For that matter, Republicans have been playing the race card and waging culture wars ever since Richard Nixon realized that the votes of many Southern (and some Northern) whites were his for the taking by demonizing the same minority activists, antiwar protestors and intellectuals whom Alabama Governor George Wallace, in his failed bids for the presidency, had flayed. But Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and their Republican successors had to appeal to more moderate voters as well; their attacks came in dog whistles and more genteel prose. They didn’t divide us quite so starkly, or encourage Klansmen to take their hoods out of mothballs.


Trump’s affinity for blood and soil nationalism and the violence that frequently accompanies it is evident in what passes for his foreign policy, which mixes his manifest indifference to our democratic allies with his admiration for thugs of all nations, no matter their ostensible ideology: Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, and, yes, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

But Trump didn’t need help from that rogues’ gallery to incite the worst in us. Decades of economic stagnation and the prompting of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News rabble-rousers, combined with nearly half a millennium of racism, paved the way for him. In accepting the Republicans’ nomination in 2016, he claimed, “I alone can fix” what ails America. And, with no assist from Putin, he—if not alone, then with no foreign assistance—has betrayed our promise and imperiled our land.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 08:20 AM (3 replies)

Pete Buttigieg Crushes Trump's Laughable Claim That The GOP Is The Party Of Health Care

Posted on Tue, Mar 26th, 2019 by Sean Colarossi
Pete Buttigieg Crushes Trump’s Laughable Claim That The GOP Is The Party Of Health Care

Rising Democratic candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, said on Tuesday that he is “mystified” by Donald Trump’s decision to try – once again – to take health care away from millions of Americans.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Buttigieg laughed off the president’s prediction that the GOP will soon become the “party of healthcare.”

“I’m mystified that the president thinks this will help them become the party of health care,” the mayor said. “I don’t know how you can become the party of health care when you’re now making it abundantly clear that your position on health care is to take it away from millions of Americans.”


Buttigieg said:

As a matter of policy, I’m not surprised because this seems to be the position they hold deep down. Just take this health care coverage away from millions of Americans. As a matter of political strategy, I’m a little bit surprised because most Americans want this and so at this moment when they were going to take a victory lap around what was happening in Washington, suddenly they’re reminding us why so many of us are Democrats. One thing I’ve been thinking about is the amazing shift between 2010, when I was a young nominee for state treasurer and watching as a Democrat on the ticket how we were getting absolutely beat up. I mean health care and the ACA was a toxic issue for the Democrats. And then by 2018, it was the winning issue for Democrats. What happened in those years? Well, it’s very simple. The bill was actually implemented and people liked it. Back in 2010, they were talking about all these theoretical things that might be like death panels. By 2018, in the town halls that happened then, you had regular Americans getting in the faces of members of Congress saying this is what this bill has done to make my life better. And it turns out it’s just harder to lie to somebody about their everyday life. So the idea that they would want to do this is a little strange to me politically. But again, this is their policy. They call themselves — I’m mystified that the president thinks this will help them become the party of health care. I don’t know how you can become the party of health care when you’re now making it abundantly clear that your position on health care is to take it away from millions of Americans.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 06:53 AM (17 replies)

2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg makes gains in crowds, TV spots and campaign cash

2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg makes gains in crowds, TV spots and campaign cash
Politics Mar 26, 2019 3:08 PM EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is riding in the back of a rented minivan to his last event of the day in South Carolina, munching on cold french fries and critiquing his stage performance so far.

The enthusiastic crowds of hundreds who’ve packed his first two stops have been much larger than the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and his team expected. It’s “wonderful,” he says, but the cheering and prolonged applause are messing with his delivery. Sometimes he neglects to pause, and his next words are drowned out. Other times people start clapping when he doesn’t expect it.

“I need to relearn the timing of my stump speech,” Buttigieg says. “I’ve been used to a format where I go in, there’s 50 people, I do my little spiel and then we have some Q&A and hopefully they walk away impressed. Now every one of these things we put on the calendar as a meet and greet is turning out to be a rally.”

Buttigieg, a veteran and Rhodes scholar, was the longest of long shots when he announced a presidential exploratory committee in January. No mayor has ever been elected president, much less one from a community of roughly 100,000 people in the middle of America, and Buttigieg is barely old enough to be eligible for the job.

But his underdog bid is gaining momentum, and the clean-cut guy known to most people as “Mayor Pete” can feel it. Now he has to figure out how to turn one of the first surprises of the nascent race for the Democratic nomination into a full-fledged presidential campaign — and one that isn’t remembered as a mere quirk.

“The buzz helps,” Buttigieg says. “But you want to make sure that you have enough substance and enough organization that any kind of flavor-of-the-month period is something you can outlive.”


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Mar 26, 2019, 06:26 PM (3 replies)
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