Out on the weekend.
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered: “Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”
During the reign of President* Trump, doing this job is like being a fireman in hell. No days off. No weekends free. I understand that it’s even worse on those plucky souls who actually have to cover this White House. The president* gets up every day at stupid o’clock and insults a friend, or an enemy, or a newscaster, or the pope and we’re off and running. This week’s off-the-clock surprise came from a different—and vastly more lethal—quarter.
Early Friday evening, CNN reported that the grand jury working with special prosecutor Robert Mueller had returned the first indictments in the investigation into Russian ratfcking in the 2016 election.
The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Mueller was appointed in May to lead the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Under the regulations governing special counsel investigations, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has oversight over the Russia investigation, would have been made aware of any charges before they were taken before the grand jury for approval, according to people familiar with the matter.
Unless CNN has screwed the pooch in epic fashion, this changes the game completely. You had to know something like this was coming; the sudden frenzy over the Steele dossier and the revival of the roundly debunked Uranium One story, two news events which I decline to believe were coincidental because I am not someone who bought an admission to Trump University, were pretty clear tells that bad news was coming from someone. (Note to any legitimate journalists who are pursuing the uranium story: you are refs who have been worked.) Now the stories to be pursued do not involve when Mueller and his people will move, but against whom they already have moved, and who might those people give up to save their own hides. This is now a crime story. That makes all the difference. The mist is beginning to clear across the Great Grimpen Mire.
It would be easy to bask, or to wallow, or to soak for days in the pure schadenfreude of what’s happened to Mark Halperin. But people I respect have convinced me that rejoicing in his downfall would be to disrespect the great harm done to his victims. So, instead, let me just say that I welcome his departure from elite political journalism because his effect on it has been so universally vile. It began when Halperin came up with The Note, a list of various movers and shakers inside the Beltway. If you’re looking for the birth of what the redoubtable Digby calls The Village, then The Note is its Jamestown. It’s where obnoxious and completely unwarranted self-regard set up its first colony in political journalism.
If there was something trivial that could be blown up into mock significance, Halperin would find it. If there was power somewhere in the vicinity, he would bow and scrape in its direction with a kind of autonomic reflex. (Scholars debate whether or not Halperin’s insipid photo on the Trump helicopter reached deeper into the abyss of sycophancy than did his fawning interview on Glenn Beck’s show. This is a timeless debate that may never resolve itself.) In recent years, of course, he became quite successful as a purveyor of poisonous gossip and of narcotic conventional wisdom. I am happy that the business will be without him, but not entirely sure that his exile will be permanent. There is still a Village and he’s just going to have to wear the bell for a while.
“I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children,” Trump said in the Oval Office, surrounded by about 10 kids in costumes. “How the media did this, I don’t know.” “You get treated better by the press than anyone in the world,” the president told the kids, prompting laughter from some in the room.
Also prompting some serious therapy some years down the line.
As we keep track of the all-talk-no-action, all-wind-and-no-rain performance of the president*’s critics in the Senate, we find that none of them seem to be much bothered by the prospect of Mitch McConnell’s proposal to fill a big chunk of the federal bench in one gulp next week. From Politico:
The top Senate Republican on Thursday teed up votes to install four nominees to the powerful appellate courts, which give the final word on the vast majority of cases that don’t reach the Supreme Court. The nominees are Allison Eid for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Stephanos Bibas for the 3rd Circuit; Joan Larsen for the 6th Circuit; and Amy Coney Barrett for the 7th Circuit. Eid and Larsen are among the names Donald Trump floated during the presidential campaign last year as potential Supreme Court picks, adding more significance to their confirmations to the appellate courts.
Judge Eid should be of particular interest to us all because, as Politico reports, she may be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, and also because she’s from the Outer Limits. The Alliance For Justice has watched her career with fascination and dread. Intriguingly, and ominously, Eid is another conservative jurist who has problems with one-man-one-vote.
In a 2001 article entitled A Spotlight on Structure, Eid suggests that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims unwisely opened the door to judicial intervention in elections. Eid commented that the Court, in those cases, “brushed aside concerns that it would be embroiled in the quagmire of politics.”
She also ruled that a woman injured in a fall at work was not entitled to workman’s compensation because she couldn’t prove that her employer was at fault (This one got overturned.) If Eid makes it all the way, at least Justice Neil (Let ‘Em Freeze In Their Trucks) Gorsuch will have somebody with whom he can eat lunch who won’t throw food at him.
The Guardian ran a concerning the ongoing internal revolt within HMC against the papacy of Papa Francesco. The basic outlines of the uprising have been known for a while, as has been the central role played by Raymond Cardinal Burke, an obnoxious American conservative cleric with a taste for the medieval and the theatrical.
Burke, a bulky American given to lace-embroidered robes and (on formal occasions) a ceremonial scarlet cape so long it needs pageboys to carry its trailing end, was one of the most conspicuous reactionaries in the Vatican. In manner and in doctrine, he represents a long tradition of heavyweight American power brokers of white ethnic Catholicism. The hieratic, patriarchal and embattled church of the Latin Mass is his ideal, to which it seemed that the church under John Paul II and Benedict was slowly returning – until Francis started work.
Naturally, because, for five decades now, the papacy has reduced Catholic moral theology to, in Garry Wills’s memorable phrase, “the smithying of chastity belts,” most of the current fireworks revolve around marriage and sexuality. Papa Francesco has tried to reach out to divorced Catholics and to gay Catholics because he has dedicated his papacy to the concept of mercy. And, you know, I’ve read a great deal in the gospels about Christ’s mercy but very little about his having worn lace-embroidered robes and a ceremonial scarlet robe so long it needs pageboys to carry its trailing end. (Although something like that would have commanded a heavy price in that dice game on Calvary.) Funny about that.
I’m also very curious as to how long it will take N. Leroy Gingrich, spouse of our newest ambassador to the Vatican and leader (perhaps) of the civilizing forces, to exercise his culture warrior chops in this particular fight.
Meanwhile, Papa Francesco is enjoying his work. On Thursday, The Guardian:with the gang up in the International Space Station. From
“What gives me the greatest joy is to look outside every day and see God’s creation – maybe a little bit from his perspective,” Bresnik, 50, told Pope Francis. Far from wars, famines, pollution or human folly, he said “the future of humanity looks better from up here”. The pope replied that Bresnik had “managed to understand that the Earth is too fragile and it passes in a moment”.
The man likes his job.
OK, The Hill:From
According to emails retrieved by one of the plaintiffs in that case through an open records request and provided to The Hill, information technology (IT) staff first confirmed deleting files from the system on July 7 – four days after the suit was filed. In March, the CES was notified by researcher Logan Lamb that a vulnerability in web security allowed attackers to read internal files not meant for public consumption. Those files included voter records which contained the date of birth and Social Security number of 5.7 million Georgians. They also included memos containing credentials to the state’s ExpressPoll brand electronic poll book.
If American elections had any credibility left anymore, this could be waved off as a harmless error. And speaking of that very thing, according to NBC News, have grown curious about what Kris Kobach’s voter-integrity dumbshow has been all about.
The Government Accountability Office plans to probe the voter fraud panel’s funding, internal operations and how it is protecting and sorting the tens of millions of sensitive voter files the commission has collected. The announcement comes after three Democratic senators — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Cory Booker of New Jersey — sent a letter last week urging the agency to investigate the commission, saying it had ignored several requests from Congress aimed at understanding its work. The senators said the panel’s creation and operations were “cause for serious concern.” The senators wrote that they fear the way the commission is conducting its work will “prevent the public from full and transparent understanding of the commission’s conclusions and unnecessarily diminish confidence in our democratic process.” In a letter Wednesday to the lawmakers, the GAO said it had accepted the request. The agency said the investigation would begin in about five months.
The quicker that noxious kabuki show closes out of town, the better we’ll all be.
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Some Day” (Fats Domino): Yeah, I pretty much still love New Orleans.
Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: Here are some Irish fishermen protesting restrictions. “No man has the right to own a river or its wealth.” Somewhere in Washington, Ryan Zinke just felt a chill. History is so cool.
BBC? It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!,
They were able to discern the dinosaur’s colour patterns, showing that it had a banded tail and “counter-shading” – where animals are dark on top and lighter on their underside. They were able to discern the dinosaur’s colour patterns, showing that it had a banded tail and “counter-shading” – where animals are dark on top and lighter on their underside…Instead, the team thinks the bandit mask served a similar function to the one seen in modern birds – which makes sense given the evolutionary relationship between the two groups. Scientists think one reason birds have it is to reduce glare from light reflected on feathers around the eye. This might be particularly important in environments where there’s lots of direct sunlight. “The analogy is athletes who paint a dark stripe under their eyes… it’s really beneficial for increasing your visual acuity,” said Dr Smithwick.
Thus, thanks to evolution, was an industry born, and all because dinosaurs lived then to make us happy now.
The Committee was confident that this week’s Top Commenter of the Week would come from the folks who commented on the president*’s warm relationship with someone he calls “the King Of China,” and Top Commenter Steve Dike-Wilhelm came through gloriously.
Next up: A diplomatic crisis with the Duke of Earl.
I’ll be back on Monday with some exegesis from the JFK files, which already have started to screw people up again. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line and, remember, y’all own the rivers.