All posts by mallagher

Exonerated? Not on this Planet!

Put yourself in this position.

You are Bill Barr and you have just received Bob Mueller’s final report. Aside from the Mueller team, only you know what is in the report. And you know that the report is explosive. It shows a president and closest circle in a highly negative light.

But there is good news too. Mueller did not interview Trump on the record (he just got written answers to questions).  Nor did Trump have to testify before a grand jury. So the president was not caught out directly in lies. And Mueller did not conclude that Trump committed crimes.

Would you do what Bill Barr did and write an open letter to Congress that  suggests that  the president did nothing wrong?  I would not do that. And I don’ think you would do that. Why not? Even if we wanted to do it, it was obvious that the dirt would come out. And if we tried to hide the dirt, we would like dirtbags ourselves.

But that is what Bill Barr did. And now that the redacted version of the Mueller Report is out, we already see a picture of Donald Trump as not fit to be president. A man who repeatedly acted outside of the law for his own self-interests. A man who repeatedly tried to stop normal  legal proceedings when they put him at risk,

If there is any goo news in the redacted report for the American people, it is that some folks refused to go along with Trump’s extra-legal orders. They said “no”. Good for them.

But here we are in early 2019, around a year  and a bit less than a half from the nomination conventions for the 2020 elections. Here we are already KNOWING what sort of man sits in the White House. And knowing what sort of man is our AG.

So what should happen now? Republicans — no matter what they do now — are screwed. They have facilitated Trump’s take over of their party. They own his record. If they repudiate him, they will still carry the stench to the elections. If they do not, they are in an even worse position. Democrats — it is time to unite around a core, simple vision that the country can do better than this. We have to do better than this to maintain our self-respect and the respect of our kids.

We need unity around this idea. Because as the fight to get the full Mueller Report, Trump’s taxes, etc. goes on, we need to look beyond the Trump era and reclaim our dignity.

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Christopher Lee was Quite a Fellow!

You probably know Christopher Lee as Saruman from the film version of the Lord of the Rings. He was very good in that role.

My favorite story from the making of those films has to do with sound effects.  The director was fooling around trying to get the right sound for a neck snapping. Finally one was selected. Lee came up and said “That is not what it sounds like at all. ”

Errr … and Lee knew because of his war experience as a secret agent tracking down Nazis in Europe. There is a lot more to Lee. Did you know, for example, that he could have been an opera star? Check out this fun video and be prepared to be amazed.

Cocktail Hour: The White Lady

Sadly, I am on a diet for the time being, and am forbidden alcohol. Perhaps that is why I am more interested in reading about cocktails than ever.

This post by Dave Lebovitz caught my eye. In answer to Dave’s question about the egg whites — of course you add them! This is a cocktail, not a bloody glass of cold water I do agree with him about the need for the right kind of glass.

Image result for cocktail White Lady

Go for it!

Assessing the Damage at Notre Dame

It could have been so, so much worse

The roof is gone, the spire is gone, but the north and south towers of Notre Dame have withstood the conflagration. The rose windows survived, which is a freaking miracle. I thought they were goners for sure. The bells, including the great 13-ton bourdon Emmanuel, the only bell of Notre Dame to survive the cultural holocaust of the French Revolution, are intact. The artistic and religious treasures it held are safe in an undisclosed location.

Some things have been lost. But Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Of that, I am sure.

Bill Barr’s Lesson in how to Destroy Your Credibility in Just a Few Easy Steps!!!

When Bill Barr first appeared before the Senate for his confirmation hearings, he was given the benefit of the doubt. Everyone knew that he is “conservative” but few were shouting out that he is a political hack. To the Contrary, he was given some respect. And there was hope that Barr would play a critical role in ending the Mueller investigation in a credible fashion so that the American people understood what happened in the 2016 elections.

Barr dropped a nuclear bomb on his reputation when Mueller gave his final report in to him. Instead of handing it over to Congress — as he should have done — he held onto it for a few days, and then released his own summary of the principal conclusions reached in the report. Surprise, surprirse, Barr wrote that Mueller found that Trump did nothing wrong. The key phrase is “Barr wrote that Mueller found …”.

While the country had placed its faith in Bob Mueller, now Bill Barr was essentially saying “Forget Mueller. Trust me.”

Boom.  Wile Donald Trump danced a jig in the White House, everyone else scratched their heads. Barr’s conclusions simply do not mesh with (1) what we already know ourselves about what happened, and (2) the fact that Mueller’s investigation went on for 2 years and his report is over 400 pages. And there are probably an additional 300 pages of grand jury evidence. How could Barr have knowledge of all that  after reading the report over the weekend? And isn’t it funny that Trump’s newly appointed attorney general has come out saying Trump did no wrong?

And now it comes out that Barr is a trickster. He is pulling a trick that he pulled before when he worked in the Department of Justice during the George HW Bush era. That time, Barr wrote a memo to the White House that justified the FBI arresting foreign leaders abroad without local government consent. The leader he had in mind was sitting in Panama at he time — Manuel Norriega.  News of the memo leaked out, caused a stink, and Congress asked Barr to hand it over. He refused. He gave instead … a summary of the principal conclusions. Years later the actual memo came out, and it was discovered that Barr’s summary grossly misrepresented what he wrote. It took the political sting out of the content. But by then, most people had forgotten about the incident. In short, Barr got away with it.

It is difficult to resist the temptation to conclude that Barr is at it again. That, in my humble view, explains why Barr now will take the extraordinary step today of holding a press conference BEFORE he even gives his REDACTED Mueller report to Congress. And Mueller — the guy who knows the most about what Barr will talk about — is not invited. Nor is his team. Barr is desperately trying to control the message as long as he can.

Is there a chance that I am wrong, and Barr is accurately representing what the report says? It is impossible to know until we see it, or if Mueller himself or his team members tell us what is actually in the report. In the meantime, we know enough to suspect that Barr is not the innocent victim of partisan infighting. And I, for one, will not excuse Barr even if it comes out that his summary is correct or remotely close to the truth. Why not? Because his actions have had the reverse effect that the Mueller investigation was supposed to have. Instead of informing the public and putting the matter to bed, Barr has made the affair ever more toxic in terms of public trust. And he is demonstrating gross disrespect to Congress.

BTW, there is ye another issue. It has also come out that he Justice Department has briefed he White House on Mueller’s report before releasing it to Congress. There would be no reason to do his, except if the Justice Department wanted to provide political assistance in coping with the conclusions. In other words, Barr is acing as Trump’s lawyer rather than as the attorney general should act — as the nation’s lawyer. You might wonder whether the Justice Department will make a habit or practice of consulting with the targets of their investigations about their findings before taking action on them.

Very peculiar, I would say!

Here are he key questions — if Barr is telling the truth, why hasn’t he released to the report as it is to Congress? And why is he interjecting his own conclusions instead of letting the report speak for itself? In fact, there is no reason for Barr to be interjecting his views at all. Only Congress has the power to do anything about the report, and in order to maintain the Constitutional balance of power between Congress and the Executive, Congress needs to know WTF is going on. It does not need Barr’s grandstanding or Barr’s own legal judgment. Congress needs to make its own decisions.

The nasty thing is that Barr evidently thinks he can get away with this. He is likely to have redacted out as much sensitive aspects of the report so that his reporting on it looks almost ok. And he will probably fight like a tiger to block access to the unredacted  report and underlying grand jury evidence, hoping to delay that as long as possible.

Meanwhile, he also is likely crossing his fingers that Mueller himself and his team will not go public with contrary testimony to Congress about their work. And so what will Mueller do? Good question. Mueller is going to do what he thinks is right. And he is a team player. He may refuse to comment on Barr’s actions. And he may agree that redactions should be made in certain areas. But it is difficult to believe that Mueller would support the notion that Congress cannot see — even behind closed doors — the full report and grand jury evidence.

Stay tuned! We are watching a huge story unfold, and like other things in Trumpland, it appears to be unsavory.

The Ben Simmons Roller Coaster

It is easy to forget how young Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are. They are just beyond their rookie seasons. For most NBA players, this is too early to expect them to dominate games and win. The Warriors, for example, with Seth Curry took a few years before they started to dominate.

But our expectations with this Philly team is higher. We are in a “win now” frame of mind. This puts huge pressure on Simmons and Embiid who are expected to carry a heavy load.

Embiid seems to be adjusting. He does not turn the ball over as much as he did last year, and he is cagier with his post moves — aware of when a double team is coming.

And Ben? The frustrating thing is that he still does no have a jump shot. And there are those games when he just doesn’t seem to know what to do. The first game of the Nets series was one of those games. And the fans let him know that they were not happy.

But game 2 was a different story. We saw the Ben Simmons that makes everything ok. A dude who can carry a team.

Here are a few peeks at his performance.

My take — for a young guy, this is damned good stuff. And he will sooner or later develop a jump shot.