Sunday, March 24, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller handed a report in to Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday, and Barr released a letter to Congress "summarizing" the report, spun primarily to let Trump off the hook. Publication of the full report would be a fairly major news story, but all we have to go on now is just Barr's spin. For example, see: Tierney Sneed: Barr: Evidence Mueller found not 'sufficient' to charge Trump with obstruction. That's always seemed to me to be the probable outcome. Anyone who thought Robert Mueller would treat Trump like Ken Starr and his crew did the Clintons clearly knew nothing about the man. Moreover, letting Barr break the news is resulting in much different headlines than, say, when James Comey announced that he didn't find sufficient evidence to charge Hillary Clinton with any crimes in her email case. At the time, Comey buried the conclusion and spent 90% of his press conference berating Clinton for her recklessness and numerous other faults. You're not hearing any of that from Barr, although when the final report comes out -- and presumably if not released someone will manage to leak it -- the odds that someone else less in Trump's pocket could have reported it more critically of Trump are dead certain. As I write this, reactions are pouring in. For instance: William Saletan: Look at all the weasel words Bill Barr used to protect Trump.

No time to unpack this now, and probably no point either. I started to write something under Matt Taibbi below, wasn't able to wrap it up neatly, and left it dangling. I'll return to the subject at some point, hopefully with better perspective. But I would like to make two points here. One is that anyone who tried to pin the word "treason" on Trump has committed a grave mistake. The word assumes that we are locked in a state of war that is fixed and immutable, something that we are not free to make political decisions over. It is, in short, a word that we should never charge anyone with, even a scoundrel like Trump. Moreover, it is a word that through its assumptions indicts its user much worse than its target. Those Democrats who used it should be ashamed and apologetic. (Needless to say, the same goes for Republicans who hurled the same charge at Obama and the Clintons.)

The second point is that we need to recognize that what we allow politicians (like Trump, or for that matter the Clintons) to get away with legally is a much bigger scandal than whether they ever get caught violating the law. Indeed, if you take the Mueller Report as exonerating Trump, you're inadvertently arguing that anything a person can get away with is fair and acceptable.

Little bit of insight I picked up from Greg Magarian on Facebook:

It's so fucking easy to be conservative. That's maybe the gratest under-the-radar reason to hate conservatives: because all they have to do is stand around and let the world keep sucking.

Best news I've seen this week: A century with Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Some scattered links this week:

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