William Barr Should Almost Certainly NOT Release The Entire Mueller Report

William Barr Should Almost Certainly NOT Release The Entire Mueller Report

William Barr Should Almost Certainly NOT Release The Entire Mueller Report

Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will now review the report, submit an initial summary to Congress, and then further determine how much, if any, of the report should be seen by the public. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to make the report public, and there are similar calls from many in the press, the public and other areas to release the report in its entirety in the name of government transparency. Yet there are legitimate reasons not to do so, and those reasons should be supported by sensible and justice-seeking Democrats and Republicans.

The key conclusions of the Mueller report should absolutely be made public. The American people deserve to know as much as possible about, as Richard Nixon put it, “whether or not their President is a crook.” Americans have waited patiently for those conclusions for two years, paid millions of dollars for the investigation, and the key findings can help somewhat reunite the public around a shared reality.

But Robert Mueller’s investigation was limited to three main topics:

  • Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump;
  • Any federal crimes that arise directly from the investigation into that; and
  • Any federal crimes committed in the course of – with intent to interfere with – the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses

While this may appear to be a rather broad scope, it should be noted that Robert Mueller appears to have employed two practices during the course of his investigation.

First, he has farmed out a number of issues and pieces of evidence to other parts of the justice system such as the Southern District of New York. He may have done this for a combination of reasons:

  • Desire not to burn through more resources than absolutely necessary during his own investigation
  • Too small a staff to investigate all criminal activity that was uncovered during his investigation
  • Desire to ensure that information about possible criminal activity by the President (not directly related to Russia) be disseminated as far and wide throughout the justice system as possible to make it difficult for the President to extract it and stop investigation into the crimes prematurely
  • Desire to ensure that Mueller is not seen as overstepping his bounds by investigating matters outside of his jurisdiction

It also appears that Mueller’s team may have already filed a number of sealed indictments. These are indictments that cannot be acted on until after the person is arrested. Since they are still sealed, we can assume that those individuals have not yet been arrested. Mueller may have done this for a combination of reasons:

  • Consistent with stated Justice Department policy, a sitting President cannot be indicted. It is possible therefore that some of those indictments relate to the President and/or members of his family, and will not be opened until after the President leaves (or is removed from) office
  • Mueller anticipates that further evidence of the crimes in the sealed indictments will be produced in the course of the investigations that he has farmed out to organizations like the Southern District of New York

All of these likely actions by Mueller indicate that, while his own investigation may be largely over, there are investigations related to the President that are still active. If that is the case, publicly releasing all of the information in his report could jeopardize the integrity of those investigations. Such information could tip off criminals to currently undisclosed lines of investigation, enabling them to cover their tracks, destroy evidence, or learn of sources and methods currently being used to investigate them.

Additionally, given the nature of what Mueller was investigating, it is quite likely that some information in his report is classified for national security reasons. The public should not take that lightly. More than two years of intensive open discussion in our nation’s press has no doubt already provided Russia with valuable marketing information on what parts of their activities worked well, which ones didn’t, and how to better avoid detection in the future. We don’t need to give Russia and other hostile foreign powers – via public disclosure – what little information is still being held close to the vest by our national security community.

For these reasons, we should expect – and embrace – William Barr’s release of a redacted (lines blacked out) version of the Mueller report. While many people on the left argue for full transparency, and may have deep suspicions of anything less, a redacted report likely indicates that the U.S. criminal justice system is still proceeding exactly as it should. It also may indicate that criminal charges for activities like money laundering, witness tampering, RICO, bank fraud and insurance fraud may still be in the President’s future.

– rob rünt

Yet Another Reason to Impeach

Yet Another Reason to Impeach

Yet Another Reason to Impeach

The September 5th New York Times Op-Ed by an anonymous senior White House Official confirms what many have long believed about the President and his leadership capabilities. President Trump is described by the senior staffer as amoral, anti-democratic, ill-informed, erratic, reckless, “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” While these character traits are about as undesirable as one can imagine in a President, it is the response that they inspire from his staff that gives a very clear reason to seriously consider impeachment.

The senior staffer describes efforts by those around the President to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” and “preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” It is hard to find precedent for this, particularly as a long-term daily dynamic within the White House.

That things have come to this point is evidence of how truly broken our government system has become, particularly under Donald Trump. The staffer and his/her allies within the White House apparently (and rightly) have little faith in the Trump-intimidated, Republican-led Congress to respond appropriately to protect the nation from an unstable President. This particular staffer has thus instead chosen to go to the media, and the others have resigned themselves to grimly serving as an internal “resistance” to the Commander in Chief.

This is a risky situation under normal global conditions, which thankfully is all that our nation has thus far been confronted with during the Trump Presidency. But what happens in a crisis – particularly a military crisis? We have seen nations like Russia and China taking note of the global leadership vacuum left by Trump’s erratic and isolating approach. Such a void of steady, trusted leadership – which the United States and its western allies have imperfectly provided since World War II – can cause unscrupulous and power-hungry adversaries to test the boundaries, to try to fill the void.

So what happens if a foreign adversary were to launch a nuclear missile at the United States? In a normal White House, the President would have a scant few minutes to verify that the threat is real and decide how to respond. After that decision, it is imperative that the system operates smoothly, and that smooth operation is dependent on trust in the President’s judgment.

But what happens with this President under such a scenario? Do his staff respond by immediately rallying to his side, or do they reasonably write off his commands as the latest delusion or impulse? They have only minutes to choose the right path through their justifiable uncertainty.

If the pictures painted in the Op-Ed and the upcoming Bob Woodward book are accurate, we have a President who is incapable of leading his staff, and who, in his ineffectiveness, poses a danger to the country. There are two remedies for this.

One is to view the senior staff as the problem. In this case, the solution is to weed out these disobedient bad apples and replace them with senior staff who are more comfortably aligned with amoral, anti-democratic, ill-informed, erratic, reckless leadership. It is hard to see how this would benefit our nation.

The other is to use the impeachment process to remove the President and replace him with a leader whose judgment can be trusted by White House staff and the military. In general (Trump excepted), this would be anyone who has risen to the level of being elected to high-level national public office. In this case, of course, that replacement would be Mike Pence.

I personally disagree with Mike Pence on virtually every issue. I have disagreed with the policies of many Presidents. However, Mike Pence fits the bill as someone who can be trusted (as much as most Presidents in our nation’s history) by his White House staff and the military to show judgment that is within the spectrum of “reasonable,” and to make decisions accordingly – particularly on military issues. In short, he can lead. Trump cannot.

The New York Times Op-Ed on its own may not be sufficient justification to impeach Donald Trump. However, it absolutely warrants confidential, closed-committee House and Senate hearings to determine how widespread the apparent chaos and “resistance” within the White House actually is, and to learn what some of the President’s thwarted impulses have been. If what is revealed matches the White House described in the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed, impeachment is appropriate and necessary for the security of the nation.

– rob rünt

August 2017

 

 


Featured Articles and Editorials:


Main Stories


White Supremacists in Charlottesville


Remarkable documentary by VICE about the events in Charlottesville, including interviews with people on both sides of the protest:

Doxxing White Supremacists Is Making Them Terrified
(VICE – 8/15/17)

In January, Fox News Posted a Video of Cars Mowing Down Protesters That Urged Viewers to “Study the Technique”
(Slate – 8/15/17)

How the Charlottesville Attacker Became Radicalized
(VICE – 8/14/17)

Charlottesville Suspect Allegedly Hit His Mom in Fight Over Video Games
(VICE – 8/14/17)

What We Know About James Alex Fields, Driver Charged in Charlottesville Killing
(New York Times – 8/13/17)

Car Hits Crowd After White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville Ends in Violence
(New York Times – 8/12/17)

“Why we voted for Donald Trump”: David Duke explains the white supremacist Charlottesville protests
(Vox – 8/12/17)

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Posted on Facebook:

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Trump’s Response to White Supremacists in Charlottesville


Trump’s deleted cartoon dramatically altered the message, says Indianapolis Star creator
(Washington Post – 8/15/17)

Trump Defends Initial Remarks on Charlottesville; Again Blames ‘Both Sides’
(New York Times – 8/15/17)

Read the transcript of Donald Trump’s jaw-dropping press conference
(CNBC – 8/15/17)


Consequences for Trump’s Response to White Supremacists in Charlottesville


Mnuchin responds to nearly 300 former classmates calling for his resignation
(The Hill – 8/19/17)

After Charlottesville, Republicans remain stymied over what to do about Trump
(New York Times – 8/19/17)

Now charities are dumping Trump, too
(CNN – 8/18/17)

Text of James Murdoch’s Email Condemning Trump’s Response to Charlottesville
(New York Times –  8/17/17)

Trump’s Embrace of Racially Charged Past Puts Republicans in Crisis
(New York Times – 8/16/17)

Trump disbands CEO advisory panels
(Politico – 8/16/17)

Inside the C.E.O. Rebellion Against Trump’s Advisory Councils
(New York Times – 8/16/17)

Trump tweets he knows plenty of CEOs to replace the ‘grandstanders’ who resigned from his manufacturing council
(New York Times – 8/15/17)


North Korea


North Korea warns of ‘merciless strike’ ahead of US-South Korea drills
(CNN – 8/21/17)

Mullen: Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea ‘has taken away options’
(Politico – 8/13/17)

Trump Says Military Is ‘Locked and Loaded’ and North Korea Will ‘Regret’ Threats
(New York Times – 8/11/17)

Trump threatens North Korea with “fire and fury

Trump: Maybe ‘fire and fury’ statement on North Korea wasn’t tough enough
(CNBC – 8/10/17)

Meet Kim Jong-un, a Moody Young Man With a Nuclear Arsenal
(New York Times – 8/10/17)

North Koreans stage massive rally in show of defiance against Donald Trump
(The Independent – 8/10/17)

North Korea Guam missile strike plan ‘ready by mid-August’
(BBC – 8/1017)

‘God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,’ evangelical adviser says
(Washington Post – 8/9/17)

A 25-Year Army Vet Explains the North Korea Warning Sign He’s Waiting For
(Esquire – 8/9/17)

North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say
(Washington Post – 8/8/17)


Trump and Russia


Trump Praises Putin Instead of Critiquing Cuts to U.S. Embassy Staff
(New York Times – 8/10/17)

Unarmed Russian Air Force jet overflies the Pentagon, Capitol, CIA
(CNN – 8/10/17)

Low-Flying Russian Surveillance Plane Flies Over Capitol and Pentagon
(Time – 8/10/17)

Interactive Timeline: Everything We Know About Russia and President Trump
(Bill Moyers & Company – 8/717)

Maybe What Russia Wants From Trump Is Permission to Launder Its Dirty Money
(Slate – 7/20/18)


Mueller Investigation


FBI conducted predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s home
(Washington Post – 8/9/17)

Why is the FBI so interested in Paul Manafort that agents were literally at his door before dawn?
(Washington Post – 8/9/17)

Trump Seeks to Rally Political Base as Mueller Probe Accelerates
(Bloomberg – 8/4/17)

Mueller Seeks White House Documents on Flynn
(New York Times – 8/4/17)

Mueller impanels grand jury in Russia probe
(The Hill – 8/3/17)

Mueller Plunges Across Trump’s Red Line
(The Atlantic – 8/3/17)

Former Justice Department official joins Mueller team
(Reuters – 8/1/17)


Conflicts of Interest


Secret Service quits Trump Tower in dispute over lease
(BBC – 8/4/17)


Mental Illness


As Trump ranted and rambled in Phoenix, his crowd slowly thinned
(Washington Post – 8/23/17)

Donald Trump ‘handed folder of positive news clippings twice a day by White House staff’
(The Independent – 8/9/17)

Full transcript: Trump’s Wall Street Journal interview
The president sat down with the Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker in the Oval Office on July 25
(Politico – 8/1/17)

Those Calls to Trump? White House Admits They Didn’t Happen
(New York Times – 8/2/17)

‘This deal will make me look terrible’: Full transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia
(Washington Post – 8/3/17)


Impeachment/Resignation


Trump is Going to Resign Soon, President’s “Art of the Deal” Writer Predicts
(Newsweek – 8/17/17)

Trump Impeachment Process Begins as Democrat States President ‘Failed test of Moral Leadership’
(Newsweek – 8/17/17)


National Mood


Missouri official deletes Trump assassination post
(Journal Gazette – 8/18/17)

New ad by the National Rifle Association directed at New York Times: “We’re Coming for You”

… and a previous NRA ad from about a month ago:

 

Poll: Half of Republicans would back postponing 2020 election if Trump proposed it
(The Hill – 8/10/17)


Steve Bannon Ousted


Bannon is back at Breitbart News, and he’s planning to make mischief
(The Atlantic – 8/18/17)

Steve Bannon’s exit from the Trump White House, explained
(Vox – 8/18/17)


National Finances


Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump’s frequent travel, large family
(USA Today – 8/21/17)

Trump to Congress: Fund the Wall or I’ll Shut the Government
(New York Times – 8/23/17)


Other Stories That You Should Know About


Yes, Donald Trump really did look into the sky during the solar eclipse
(CNN – 8/22/17)

Trump Settles on Afghan Strategy Expected to Raise Troop Levels
(New York Times – 8/20/17)

Prominent Supporter of President Trump Admits He Regrets His Vote
(Time – 8/17/17)

Justice Dept. Demands Data on Visitors to Anti-Trump Website, Sparking Fight
(New York Times – 8/15/17)

Venezuela calls Trump’s warning of possible military action a ‘crazy act’
(CNN – 8/12/17)

Trump attacks on McConnell bring rebukes from fellow Republicans
(Washington Post – 8/10/17)

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War & Install Viceroy to Run Nation
(Democracy Now – 8/9/17)

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report
(New York Times – 8/7/17)

With military discipline imposed, Trump getting more time for decisions
(Reuters – 8/4/17)

Attorney general says Justice Dept. has tripled the number of leak probes
(Washington Post – 8/4/17)

Trump’s daughter-in-law hosts ‘real news’ program on his Facebook page
(The Hill – 8/2/17)


Editorials


(Los Angeles Times – 8/20/17)

Trump Thinks About Nuclear Annihilation a Lot, But Doesn’t Know Much About It
(New York Magazine – 8/20/17)

Don’t fall into the Bannon trap
(CNN – 8/18/17)

How To Punish A President
(Just Security – 8/17/17)

‘He is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting’
(Politico – 8/16/17)

A professor of German history explains the true horror of Trump’s response to Charlottesville
(Raw Story – 8/16/17)

How America Lost Its Mind
(The Atlantic – September 2017 Issue)

Jared Kushner Calls Kim Jong-un “Totally Unqualified Person” Who Got Job Only Through Nepotism (Satire)
(New Yorker – 8/18/17 Issue)

Millions Willing to Work for Mueller for Free If That Would Speed Things Up(Satire)
(New Yorker – 8/15/17)

Why Does Trump Still Refuse to Criticize Putin?
(The Atlantic – 8/11/17)

Trump threatened ‘fire and fury.’ Here’s why to some that’s perfectly Godlike.
(Salt Lake Tribune – 8/11/17)

A Trump nuclear strike against North Korea: constitutional or not?
(Politifact – 8/10/17)

Liberals are terrible at arguing with conservatives. Here’s how they can get better.
(Washington Post – 8/10/17)

Sorry, Mike Pence, You’re Doomed
(New York Times – 8/8/17)

The biggest threat to free speech? It’s the left
(Boston Globe – 8/7/17)

The Policies of White Resentment
(New York Times – 8/5/17)

The Democratic Self-Sabotage Continues
(Esquire – 8/4/17)

Trump’s continued attacks on Clinton tell us why the Democrats lost
(Washington Post – 8/4/17)

Trump’s supporters worship him as though he were their personal road to salvation and happiness
(Alternet – 7/31/17)


Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe


Posted on Facebook by former Navy SEAL sniper:

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Cartoons, Images & Video


Source: Unknown

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Source: Unknown

Cartoon by Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe:

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Tina Fey’s Takedown of Trump

Source: Unknown:

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Posted on YouTube by “Liberal Redneck” (warning: profanity):

Source: Unknown

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Cartoon by David Horsy, LA Times:

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Cartoon by Dave Granlund:

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Cartoon by Ann Telnaes, Washington Post:

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Cartoon by Dave Granlund:

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Cartoon by Dave Granlund:

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Cartoon by Jeff Darcy:

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Cartoon by Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal:

Cartoon by Kevin Siers:

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Cartoon by Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal:

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Source: Unknown

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T-shirt available at this link: www.teevelo.com/hillar00794

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America’s Cult Culture

America’s Cult Culture

Cults absolutely fascinate me: Scientology, the Manson family, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Zendik Farm, Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, the Branch Davidians, Warren Jeffs, Heaven’s Gate. Part of the draw is marveling at the wacked out belief systems and blind loyalty, and part of it is a lingering question in the back of my mind: could I ever be susceptible to something like that? I have thrown myself passionately into causes and felt a strong loyalty to charismatic individuals. What separated those periods in my life from the kind of personality capable of joining a cult has, in retrospect, at times seemed like a very thin line.

Things that cults tend to have in common include:

  • Passionate and unquestioning loyalty to the leader
  • The leader’s words and beliefs are seen as the absolute truth, even when evidence is presented to the contrary
  • Doubt or dissent are discouraged
  • Members are isolated: communications with friends and family who might raise questions about the new beliefs are ended or severely limited
  • Members have a sense of superiority over nonmembers and outsiders, often viewing them through an us-versus-them filter
  • Leadership is unaccountable
  • The cult’s goals and beliefs can be used to justify actions and events that members would otherwise see as unacceptable or unethical

Looking from the outside at the bizarre beliefs and practices of a cult, it can be easy to dismiss cult members as dumb, gullible, crazy, or weak in character. Yet many intelligent, well-educated, reasonable people join cults. What would cause an otherwise sane person to come under the sway of something so illogical?

Nearly every human being is motivated by a desire for belonging, significance, and meaning. A cult fills those needs, and provides something else that can be intoxicating for many: a sense of moral, spiritual or intellectual superiority. Cult members believe that they are privy to a level of understanding and truth that the rest of the world is oblivious to. They are special. And challenges to that truth are by extension challenges to their specialness. When self-esteem is low, such challenges can feel deeply threatening and cause cult members to double down on the beliefs that have given them such a self-satisfying feeling of being special.

American politics has evolved into something that powerfully and dangerously combines many traits of the cult mentality – on both sides, but particularly for Trump supporters. In a recent CNN interview, a very articulate entrepreneur stated emphatically that if Jesus Christ came down from the cross and told him that the President had colluded with the Russians, he wouldn’t believe it unless Donald Trump verified that it was true. While this is an extreme example, Trump’s “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue” statement is not far off base for many of his supporters.

The information age promised to enrich our minds, offering us whole worlds of knowledge and ideas previously inaccessible or difficult to access. Instead, what we have ended up with is a country divided into factions, each of which has largely chosen for itself one “world,” where they stay firmly cloistered within their own silo of information and ideas. Cable news shows, talk radio shows, blogs, social media connections, and personal connections can all be selected to provide daily tailored reinforcement for the ideas and facts that we already want to believe – and deselected to shut out contrary views and information. Spiked by the interpersonal animosity towards differing views that intensified during the 2016 election, many of us have evolved the same sort of self-selected isolation from “outsiders” (i.e., differing views) that takes place in a cult, but on a mass scale, and in a context that feels like we are simply continuing about our normal lives.

That isolation and us-versus-them feeling is bolstered by a smug sense of superiority. Many who oppose Trump look down their noses at Trump supporters as ignorant, racist, hypocritically possessing a warped and selective moral compass, willfully blind to the dangerousness, corruption and self-centered motivations of the President, and easily duped by a compulsively lying charlatan. Trump supporters feel a sense of snickering superiority to those who oppose the President, seeing them as completely disconnected from any meaningful awareness of the hardships endured by rural and working class Americans, willfully blind to the deep systemic flaws that are crushing the American dream for so many, gullibly guzzling fake news from the mainstream media, and hypocritically preaching love and tolerance in the same breath as they hate and shun those who dare not buy into every nuance of their increasingly rigid and narrow liberal ideology. Both worldviews nurture an uncompromising sense of being “better than the other side” – and a growing belief in an inferior, less-than-human mass of “others” living in the same country.

We are in the midst of a perfect storm for something potentially very frightening in America: a powerful, nuclear-armed nation technologically wired for totalitarianism as never before, with a weak-kneed political class of corporate sycophants and a dimly recalled set of Constitutional rights, checks and balances being the only things standing in the way of losing our democracy entirely. Our charismatic leader is seen by his followers as irrefutably having “the truth,” and his reckless, dangerous and impulsive behavior is met with an uneasy shrug from a timid Congress, rather than being met with any real accountability. His supporters seem willing to rationalize anything that he says or does, even if it clearly and directly conflicts with values that they claim to hold dear. The President hardens their faith in him by discounting any uncomfortable facts as “fake news.” Relatives and long-time friends are disconnecting socially and online in favor of those whose beliefs are more in line with their own. Large segments of the population now consider themselves superior to the out-of-touch “others.” And unlike all but the most insulated cults, most Americans immerse themselves daily  in multiple channels of information and ideas that all confirm the chosen reality they want to believe in. In short, many Americans are now part of the foundations of a massive, potent, and self-contained cult.

Lest those who oppose Trump start feeling too smug about all this, look no further than that smug feeling to realize that, under the right circumstances and with your own self-selected relationships and channels of information, you are just as susceptible to this mentality. You are not superior. You just didn’t fall for this particular dogma and misinformation.

There is no easy answer to the situation in which we find ourselves. Attitudes and beliefs have become largely solidified. Impeachment looks unlikely in the near term, and realistically would not address the conditions that have landed us here. A large number of bloggers and news outlets have found a reliable money stream from churning out appealing misinformation, selective facts and innuendo. And our culture and political system are so massive and clumsy as to be capable of changing course with the nimbleness and speed of an ocean liner.

But the path that we are on is unsustainable. If we continue to isolate from one another and dehumanize one another, it can lead nowhere good.

When a loved one is in a cult, one solution is “deprogramming” – kidnapping the cult member, holding them against their will, educating them about the techniques used by cults, encouraging and praising them when they engage in critical thinking, and working to restore an emotional connection with people from their past outside the cult. Given the large swath of the country under Trump’s spell, a deprogramming approach is not practical – much less ethical or legal.

What little solution that I can visualize to America’s current plight is this. Reconnect with people with whom you disagree. Listen to their concerns, their fears, their dreams, and try to understand what in their life experiences make that so important to them. Be humble. Assume the best of them as your fellow human beings, and avoid judging or shaming them, even as you hang on firmly to your values. Frequently and continuously seek out news sources that you know you’ll disagree with – not because they will give you facts, but because they will help you understand what is animating the passions of others, and because it will help you in your conversations with them. And remember that there are many flavors of Kool Aid out there: be sure that you aren’t drinking any yourself.

– rob rünt

June 11 – 17, 2017

 


Articles & Editorials:


Main Stories


Jeff Sessions


Sessions Heatedly Denies Improper Russia Contacts
(Washington Post – 6/13/17)

Sessions Can’t Invoke Executive Privilege, But He’s Using it a Lot
(Los Angeles Times – 6/13/17)

Jeff Sessions’ Explanation for Firing Comey Just Doesn’t Make Sense
(CNN – 6/14/17)

The Memo: Five Takeaways from Jeff Sessions’s Testimony
(The Hill – 6/14/17)

 Full Transcript of Jeff Sessions Testimony
(Politico – 6/13/17)

25 Times Jeff Sessions Had a Convenient Memory Lapse While Testifying
(Rolling Stone – 6/13/17)

GOP senator blocking Trump nominee until he gets answers from DOJ
(The Hill – 6/15/17)


Russian Hacking Update


Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known
(Business Insider – 6/13/17)

Russia Could Hack 2020 Election Too, Report Says: 39 States Hit in 2016
(Newsweek – 6/13/17)

The Hard Truth Keeps Trickling Out, Little by Little
(Esquire – 6/13/17)


Hate Crimes


Lawmaker Steve Scalise Injured in GOP Baseball Shooting. Suspect James T. Hodgkinson Dies After Shootout
(Washington Post – 6/14/17)

Suspect Dies After Shooting At GOP Baseball Practice In Virginia
(National Public Radio – 6/14/17)

Hodgkinson’s Facebook Page Gets Quick Reaction
(Belleville News-Democrat – 6/14/17)


Other Stories That You Should Know About:


Obstruction of Justice


Donald Trump Under Investigation for Potential Obstruction of Justice
(The Guardian – 6/14/17)

Trump Conflates ‘Phony Collusion’ And Possible Obstruction Of Justice Investigation
(National Public Radio – 6/14/17)

President Trump Blasts Report on Possible Obstruction of Justice Probe
(Fortune – 6/14/17)

Law Professor Just Laid Out What The Obstruction Of Justice Investigation Means For Trump
(Washington Journal – 6/15/17)


National Security


Suspected N.Korea Drone Photographed US Missile Defense Site
(ABC News – 6/13/17)

Qatar Buys U.S. F-15s Days After Trump Says Country Funds Terror
(NBC News – 6/15/17)

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes New Russia and Iran Sanctions
(Washington Post – 6/15/17)

White House Wants More Flexible Russia Sanctions Deal From Congress
(New York Magazine – 6/17/17)


Robert Mueller


Republicans to Trump: Hands off Mueller
(Politico – 6/12/17)

Robert Mueller Chooses his Investigatory Dream Team
(Wired – 6/14/17)

Mueller Expands Special Counsel Office, Hires 13 Lawyers
(CNN – 6/16/17)


Media


The Bubble: How conservative and liberal media reacted to Sessions’ testimony
(USA Today – 6/15/17)

Don’t Believe Anonymously Sourced Reports, Justice Official Says
(New York Times – 6/16/17)


Cuba


Trump rolls back some, not all, changes in US-Cuba relations
(Boston Herald – 6/17/17)

Cuba to Trump: US in no ‘condition to lecture us’ on human rights
(CNN – 6/17/17)


Making Trump’s Bank Account Great Again


Trump Reports Hundreds of Millions in Financial Liabilities
(NBC News – 6/16/17)

Donald Trump Reports He’s Getting Rich as President
(The Atlantic – 6/16/17)


Cronyism


Trump Family Wedding Planner to Head New York’s Federal Housing Office
(New York Times – 6/16/17)


 Keeping Track of the Basics:


Editorials


Berkeley author George Lakoff says, ‘Don’t underestimate Trump’
(Berkeleyside – 5/7/17)

Sessions: I can’t discuss conversations with the president. 9 legal experts: Yes, you can.
(Vox – 6/14/17)

Where Trump Learned to Love Ritualized Flattery
(The New Yorker – 6/13/17)


Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.


Trump’s Base in Blue Earth County Stands by Him After Rough Start
(Star Tribune – 6/1817)


Cartoons, Images & Videos


1992 interview has interesting similarities to Comey’s testimony about a loyalty pledge:

Australian Prime Minister mocks Trump:

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Events & Actions


Resources & Organizations


On Moving to Canada

On Moving to Canada

On Moving to Canada

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, I felt strongly that if Trump won, I would move to another country. I have heard others say this in past elections. I never have. I said it this time because I meant it: I believe this President to be mentally ill, disconnected from reality, highly charismatic and influential, and having authoritarian tendencies. I am still in the United States because my spouse was unwilling to uproot.

Am I worried?

Yes.

Do I hate being stuck in a situation that I think can go very badly?

Yes.

Am I glad that we didn’t move?

Yes.

That may not make sense at first, but as I see the massive outpourings of resistance into the streets – good-hearted people many of whom have never protested in their lives – and as I see judges and even low-level government employees defying executive orders whose constitutionality is questionable, I am encouraged that our country’s immune system may be functioning as it should.

In reality, no place in the world is safe right now. A new country may be “offered up” by Trump to Russia or China for invasion as part of his new level of “real estate” deal. Or a country may be a traditional American ally or enemy that randomly prompts a tantrum over some minor slight resulting in a military conflict. And no country is safe from the effects of American financial malfeasance, environmental degradation or, God forbid, the global drift of nuclear fallout.

So I am glad to still be in the United States because the citizens of America have one thing that no other country has: the ability to influence Congress to slow or stop the worst of Trump’s actions, and more importantly, the ability to push Congress loudly and unrelentingly to impeach when the inevitable impeachable or illegal act occurs.

The rest of the world is counting on us to make right our mistake, to protect them. When progressives and other decent-minded people flee the United States, less power is left behind to stop what is happening, which ultimately affects the entire globe.

History is full of examples of authoritarian countries where things went disastrously and violently wrong. The United States of America does not have to be one of those. We can and must use our unique power within America to ensure that history records us as preventing a disaster, rather than choosing to leave that responsibility to others.

– rob rünt

February 27 – March 5, 2017

February 27 – March 5, 2017

 


Articles & Editorials:


Main Stories


Russia and Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce

New Commerce Secretary at Nexus of Lucrative Trump Russia Deal (21:44)
This is a must-watch. If you check out nothing else on this site this week, this story is huge.
(MSNBC – 2/27/17)

Two Trump Companies Discovered in Cyprus, EU’s Russian Off-Shore Banking Haven
(Huffington Post – 12/19/16, Updated 3/2/17)

Here’s Another Trump Cabinet Pick With Close Financial Ties to Russians
(Mother Jones – 12/19/16)


Russia and the Trump Campaign

Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking
(New York Times – 3/1/17)


Russia and Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General

Sessions Met With Russian Envoy Twice Last Year, Encounters He Later Did Not Disclose
(Washington Post – 3/1/17)

Jeff Sessions Denials of Contact With Russians are Falling Apart Quickly
(Washington Post – 3/2/17)

Six Times Sessions Talked About Perjury, Access, and Special Prosecutors – When It Involved the Clintons
(Washington Post – 3/2/17)

“Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington, according to current and former senior US government officials.”

CNN, regarding the Russian individual who met with recently resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions
(CNN – 3/2/17)

 

Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself from Russia Inquiry
(New York Times – 3/2/17)

Meet the Russian Diplomat at the Center of the Sessions Controversy
(The Hill – 3/3/17)

Why Would Jeff Sessions Hide His Talks With Sergey Kislyak?
(New Yorker – 3/3/17)


Yemen Raid

Trump Passes Blame for Yemen Raid to His General: “They Lost Ryan”
(Washington Post – 2/28/17)

Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence: Officials
(NBC News – 2/28/17)

Slain SEAL’s Dad Wants Answers: “Don’t Hide Behind My Son’s Death”
(Miami Herald – 2/26/17)


Other Stories That You Should Know About:


Healthcare

Trump: “Nobody Knew Healthcare Could Be So Complicated”
(The Guardian – 2/27/17)


Trump’s Mental health

Trump Says Obama is Helping to Organize Protests Against His Presidency
(Washington Post – 2/28/17)

Trump Accuses Obama of ‘Nixon/Watergate’ Wiretap – But Offers No Evidence
(Washington Post – 3/4/17)

Posted on Twitter around 6am Saturday, 3/4/17:

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Lawmakers Stunned by Trump’s Wiretap Allegations
(Politico – 3/5/17)

White House Says It Will No Longer Comment on Trump’s Wiretapping Claims
(Huffington Post – 3/5/17)

Director of National Intelligence (2010-2017) James Clapper on Trump’s Allegations of Wiretapping by Obama Administration
(Meet the Press, MSNBC – 3/5/17):

 


Freedom of the Press

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

Former President George W. Bush
Interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show – 2/27/17
(Full Article : NPR)

Trump Moves to Become Master of His Own Messages
(New York Times – 3/2/17)


Hate Crimes

He Yelled ‘Get Out of My Country,’ Witnesses Say, and Then Shot Two Men from India, Killing One
(Washington Post – 2/24/17)

A Sikh Man Was Shot On His Driveway And Allegedly Told, “Go Back To Your Own Country”
(Buzzfeed – 3/4/17)

In Day of Pro-Trump Rallies, California March Turns Violent
(Reuters – 3/4/17)
Editor’s Note: Much of the violence in the rally was committed and/or incited by people who came to protest Trump. When the anti-Trump people behave like this, it serves to discredit the anti-Trump movement, and increases the likelihood that future Trump protests may experience retaliatory violence from Trump supporters.


Keeping Track of the Basics:


Editorials


Trump’s Emotional Moment With a Navy SEAL’s Wife Could Define Him – For Good But Also For Bad
(Aaron Blake, Washington Post – 3/1//17)

Remembering a City Where Smog Could Kill
(Jim Dwyer, New York Times – 2/28/17)

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Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.


I’m a Silicon Valley Liberal, and I Traveled Across the Country to interview 100 Trump Supporters – Here’s What I Learned
(Sam Altman, Business Insider, 2/23/17)


Cartoons, Images & Videos


Photo by Agence France Presse:

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Artwork by Illustrator Kieron Dwyer:

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Posted by ImgFlip.com:

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Artwork posted on Facebook by Rob Brezsny:

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Published by Vox, Graphic by Javier Zarracina:

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Events & Actions

Two major nationwide protests coming up:

  • Wednesday, March 8, 2017: “A Day Without a Woman”
    Women nationwide will not be participating in work – at their jobs or in the home – to bring attention to the importance of women to the functioning of America. Learn more  here!
  • Saturday, April 15, 2017: “Trump Tax Day March”
    Americans across the country will be marching to let President Trump know that it’s not just reporters who care about his undisclosed tax returns – find your nearest rally here!

Resources & Organizations