Loving Sullivan, loathing Barr!

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2020

Life in these tribalized times:
Friend, do you suffer a famous misfortune? Do you "live in interesting times?"

Let's put that a different way. Is it possible that you live in highly tribalized times?

If you do, you will likely be propagandized every day of the week. Consider Michael Crowley's report in this morning's New York Times, a report about Judge Emmet Sullivan, the federal judge who is handling the Michael Flynn case.

Are you being propagandized when you read Crowley's report? We're going to say that a case could be made.

Below, you see paragraphs 4 and 8 of Crowley's report as it appears in our New York Times print edition. In a bit of a mix-and-match, you also see the the headline which now appears online.

Below, you see paragraphs 4 and 8 from our print edition. In paragraph 4, Crowley is referring to a 2008 case in which Judge Sullivan threw out the corruption conviction of Senator Ted Stevens, charging prosecutorial misconduct:
CROWLEY (5/14/20): Judge in Flynn Case Renowned for His Independent Streak


The [Stevens] case cemented Judge Sullivan’s reputation for fierce independence and low tolerance for government misconduct—a reputation in the spotlight again now that he is entertaining a challenge to the Justice Department’s extraordinary motion to dismiss its criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser.


“He’s ferociously independent,” said Reid H. Weingarten, a prominent criminal defense lawyer and partner at the Washington firm of Steptoe & Johnson who has also argued before the judge. “He doesn’t suffer fools.”
Good lord! By the time we'd read eight paragraphs, we'd been told that Judge Sullivan is both fiercely independent and ferociously independent. We'd also been told that he doesn't suffer fools.

In the the version of Crowley's report which now appears online, some editor has cleaned up the duplicate reference to Sullivan's fierce/ferocious independence. But in the headline, we're now told that the judge is renowned for his independent streak.

Simply put, we're being told that we should place our faith in this particular prince. We aren't being told that this particular judge may sometimes get out over his skis, as he did in the aborted sentencing hearing for Kelly in December 2018.

During that hearing, Sullivan seemed to accuse Flynn of treason, a capital offense. As you may recall, he walked back his peculiar remarks in an afternoon session.

At present, Sullivan seems to be tilting in the blue direction with respect to the Flynn case. He may be right in doing so. Similarly, he may have been right in throwing out the criminal conviction of Stevens, a conservative Republican who lost his Alaska Senate seat during the prosecution which Sullivan dismissed as corrupt.

At any rate, because Sullivan is tilting blue, you may find yourself propagandized with respect to his fierce independence, his ferocious independence, and his independent streak. Such importunings may sometimes occur in highly tribalized times.

You may not find yourself reminded of the fact that Sullivan, like everyone else, possesses imperfect judgment. You may not be asked to recall high-profile examples of same.

Was Sullivan right to dismiss the conviction of Senator Stevens? As we sit here today, we can't tell you, and let's face it:

You have no idea either!

That said, riddle yourself this. In throwing out that conviction, Sullivan was alleging gross misconduct by the federal prosecutors who were trying to put Stevens in prison.

In the current case, Attorney General William Barr is alleging significant misconduct by the federal prosecutors who charged Flynn with a federal crime. In paragraph 7 of his report (as it appears in our print edition), Crowley touches upon the possible conflict raised by these dueling concerns:
CROWLEY: Criminal defense lawyers and legal analysts in Washington said it was hard to predict how Judge Sullivan might act [in the Flynn case]. While he has expressed personal “disgust” in court for Mr. Flynn’s actions, he has also displayed a low tolerance for the sort of prosecutorial misconduct that the Justice Department claims as a justification for ending its case against Mr. Flynn.
Conflict! In fact, Sullivan got way out over his skis in stating his "disgust" for the conduct he suggested might constitute "treason." But he has also displayed "a low tolerance for the sort of prosecutorial misconduct" being alleged by Barr.

Question! So federal prosecutors sometimes display imperfect judgment in the way they conduct their affairs? Do some prosecutors even drift over into the lane which can be scored as "prosecutorial misconduct?"

Obviously, yes—such things sometimes happen. But in this highly tribalized time, we blue consumers will rarely be reminded of that fact. It's even less likely that we'll be encouraged to wonder if that could have happened in the Flynn case, where such upright figures as James Comey were making major decisions.

Comey was once a blue consumer beast. Now he's a tribal untouchable. We blue voters are encouraged to avoid thinking about the possibility that he may have overstepped in the decisions he made—decisions which apparently left Sally Yates, another blue tribe hero, feeling "flabbergasted" and "dumbfounded" at one particular point.

(In the language of Sunday's Washington Post, Yates was "taken aback.")

We blue consumers will never be asked to imagine the possibility that Attorney General Barr, rightly or wrongly, may be acting in accord with his actual beliefs with respect to the Flynn case. In tribalized times, we tend to get handed heroes and demons, and not a whole lot in between.

Let's put that another way. Under current casting arrangements, Barr isn't fiercely independent. Unless you switch over to Fox!

Tomorrow, we may even offer a word on Barr's behalf, joined to a condemnation. For today, though, we will close with something we've long found amusing.

Heroes like Comey chased Kelly around because of his phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak. Right at the start of a frequently awful interview with Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's Marty Harris describes "the heart of who Michael Flynn is" and the heart of the ongoing case:
HARRIS (5/14/20): It’s worth getting at the heart of who Michael Flynn is. Flynn was a shoo-in to be Trump’s national security adviser. Some even floated his name as a potential vice president. Though Flynn had been the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama, his views had moved sharply to the right over the years.

Before Trump even took office, Flynn was getting involved with highly sensitive foreign policy. A few weeks after the election, Sergey Kislyak, who was Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., gave Flynn a call. He was worried about sanctions Obama had put in place as punishment for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. [Kislyak] was wondering: Should Russia respond here and escalate things? And Flynn tells him, Just sit tight. That’s why we’re talking about a criminal investigation into Flynn now, four years later.
According to this fairly conventional summary of the case, Flynn told Kislyak not to retaliate against the U.S. as a result of the new sanctions. As a result, the Russkies didn't!

The Russkies didn't retaliate against the United States! On this basis, we're somehow supposed to be angry at Flynn even "now, four years later."

That has always struck us as a puzzling though comical story. But these are highly tribalized times, and stories like that will take hold.

What we saw on cable TV during the Mueller years

Sullivan over his skis: The Washington Post's Aaron Blake describes Judge Sullivan's semi-meltdown concerning Flynn's possible "treason:"
BLAKE (5/13/20): [P]erhaps the most controversial aspect of the December 2018 sentencing hearing was when Sullivan invoked treason. Sullivan asked the government whether it had considered charging Flynn with that much more serious offense, given that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak shortly after then-President Barack Obama had imposed them on Russia.

“I really don’t know the answer to this question, but given the fact that the then-president of the United States imposed sanctions against Russia for interfering with federal elections in this country, is there an opinion about the conduct of the defendant the following days that rises to the level of treasonous activity on his part?” Sullivan asked.

The government said it hadn’t considered charging Flynn with treason, but Sulivan pressed again: “All right. Hypothetically, could he have been charged with treason?”

Sullivan later clarified that he wasn’t alleging that Flynn might have committed treason
but that he was merely probing how generous the government had been in its plea deal.
According to Blake, Sullivan later "clarified" that he hadn't meant treason when he kept saying treason.

Was that really a "clarification?" The use of such forgiving terms may be common in tribalized times.


  1. Of course in zombie-speak both "fiercely independent" and "ferociously independent" are an equivalent of "blindly follows the orders of our liberal-zombie cult".

    So, if you fluent in the zombie-cult dialect, Mr Crowley's prose actually makes perfect sense, dear Bob.

    Let us also note that worshiping a judge - any freaking judge - is quite typical for a far-right cult, which your liberal-zombie cult obviously is.

    1. Jesus, Mao -- you're really running on fumes these days. Maybe you need to take a break and come back with some fresher trolling.

    2. I, too, liked it better when Mao pretended he wasn't the establishments biggest cheerleader. His denial of his deep, deep reverence for the elites seemed more innocent and light-hearted, in some whimsical way. Ahh, we were all so young, then.

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  2. Bob, the Russians did not retaliate because they had an illegal deal from Trump that he would not enforce sanctions. Trump has continued to not enforce sanctions, this is highly corrupt. We are not angry with Flynn, he did something corrupt and illegal.

    Barr gives every indication he is forfeiting the rule of law to act as Trump's henchman. This is also highly corrupt.

  3. Is the "Kelly" referred in Somerby's entry actually Flynn? I couldn't find other clarifying references to Kelly. I don't mean to be picky about typos, but Kelly pops up at least twice, and I found it confusing.

  4. Trump has failed to respond to Covid-19, we are first in deaths, nearly last in testing.

    Flynn illegally tried to collude with Russia and then lied about it, but then plead guilty.

    Russia hacked the DNC emails and delivered them to WikiLeaks.

    Trump is the least popular president in modern history.

    It is Thursday, May 14 2020.

  5. “You may not find yourself reminded of the fact that Sullivan, like everyone else, possesses imperfect judgment. You may not be asked to recall high-profile examples of same.

    Was Sullivan right to dismiss the conviction of Senator Stevens? As we sit here today, we can't tell you, and let's face it:

    You have no idea either!”

    The fact that Somerby can’t tell us whether Sullivan was right to dismiss Stevens’ conviction doesn’t show Sullivan’s imperfect judgment; it show Somerby’s ignorance.

  6. “You have no idea either!”

    It is actually possible to review the Stevens case, and look at the evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, which was rather egregious, and compare that with Barr’s allegation of misconduct in the Flynn case, and decide whether Barr’s characterization is accurate.

    Barr’s central allegation is
    ‘the government has concluded that [Flynn’s interview by the FBI in January 2017] was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” and that it was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”’

    That doesn’t seem to be true, and judge Sullivan apparently disagrees with it.

    Somerby claims that Sullivan, like all humans, is fallible, as if that is some sort of compelling reason to question his decision in the Flynn case.

    And leave it to Somerby to misstate the reasons that Flynn was investigated: ‘The Russkies didn't retaliate against the United States! On this basis, we're somehow supposed to be angry at Flynn even "now, four years later”’ (As if hoping to see justice done is equivalent to mere “anger”.)

    Perhaps we’ll never know what was said in Flynn’s phone call to Kislyak. Anything is possible, as Somerby likes to say. But perhaps, in the context of Russian interference in our election, that phone call was a bit more sinister than merely getting the Russians not to retaliate.

    1. We were certainly told night and day that it was all so sinister, but now with the newly released transcripts of testimony under oath, we find out that everyone from John Brennen to Susan Rice to Adam Schiff and more, were merely telling each other how suspiciously sinister it all was.


    2. Conservatives deny that context of Russian interference, calling it a hoax and considering Mueller's evidence to be an exoneration of Trump. Of course they don't consider Flynn's actions sinister. That doesn't mean they are right. I consider the whole thing to be treasonous. This is why the right and the left are not going to agree on anything.

    3. "I consider the whole thing to be treasonous"

      Me too. A coordinated attempt to overthrow a duly elected president.

      Well, hopefully they all will get what's coming to them, during Our Beloved Commander's second term.

    4. @cecelia
      Perhaps we might learn more of the truth if we could see the transcripts of the Flynn/Kislyak calls, or the redacted portions of the Mueller report, or the Grand Jury info.

      Wouldn’t it be useful if conservatives, like liberals, demanded the whole truth here? Otherwise, all of us are left to twist in ignorance. Unlike Barr, who knows everything and retains the upper hand as long as he refuses to release all the info. That continues to give life to conservative views of the Mueller investigation.

      Transparency here would be a good thing.

    5. Dembot, needless to say, no transcript would satisfy you and your cult. Your irrational hatred is, well, irrational.

      And this is why people are assumed innocent until proven guilty. And, incidentally, whatever's in those transcripts, no one has ever been charged with any crime contained in them. Even back when your zombie cult controlled the DOJ.

    6. I was thinking that yesterday, mh.

      There were a lot of unmasking requests before the call that Flynn had with Kislyak. That their convo was picked up in routine monitoring of Kislyak is something that needs to be determined too.

    7. Yes, Trump obstructs justice in broad daylight, dangles and awards pardons, threatens and retaliates viciously against witnesses and career law enforcement employees, disgracefully pulled our ambassador out of the Ukraine in order to facilitate his plot to use American aid to extort Ukraine into doing his dirty work in smearing his opponent, and now is loudly and insanely accusing the former 2 term Democratic president and current Democratic opponent of being criminals who should be thrown in jail.

      But let's all worry about traitor Flynn's civil rights. Maybe Democrats should learn something from Donald J Chickenshit - abuse your power in broad daylight and install a partisan hack AG to carry out your dirty work. As they say, "fuck your feelings".

    8. Cecilia - I'm a Democrat, though it almost always comes down to the lesser of 2 evils (or of 2 not perfect ones, which is more like it). However, I thought the dems, the pols and pundits anyway, went off the rails with Mueller and the Russian thing. I watched the 2016 debates, and while Trump seemed like a demagogue who lied and bullshitted as easily as he breathed (pretty much his whole life story), I thought his remarks about not being so hostile to Russia made sense. The dem pols and pundits seem to have gone nuts about Russia and Trump, like it's a new cold war.Russia's interference didn't seem to me to be as big a deal as they made out of it. But that doesn't mean that the GOP doesn't go on these witch hunts themselves all the time - that's their modus operandi. They seem better at it, because they don't seem to have any scruples. This unmasking thing no seems to be right in line with that.

    9. AC/MA, perhaps the most cynical things about being a conservative critter is that you don’t trust any of these guys.

      I don’t view anyone as being a white knight. That includes Flynn.

    10. According to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, there were 9,217 unmasking requests between September 2015 and August 2016 - the latter days of the Obama administration. The number of such requests has risen during the Trump administration. There were 9,529 requests in 2017, 16,721 in 2018 and 10,012 last year.

      The role of Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence and a Trump loyalist, in declassifying the names of Obama officials who had unmasked Flynn, will likely add to criticism that Trump has bent nonpartisan national security agencies to serve him politically. (But of course) The decision follows the Department of Justice's move to drop charges against Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russian ambassador.

      AC/MA - the investigation was initiated by a lifetime Republican FBI director, and subsequently by a lifetime Republican Special Counsel appointed by a lifetime Republican DAG.

    11. mm, what troubles me about it that it’s a sort of map as to how this info is distributed in govt.

      You’d like some clarity with this stuff, but the price is so high.

    12. Sure, Cec, I can see you're sincerely "concerned".

      I'm still waiting to find out the identity of the NY FBI field office persons who were leaking to Joe diGenova and Rudy Giuliani. It seems that OIG investigation is going to take an eternity. I wonder why.

    13. Cec, I should have known better than to expect a intellectually honest response from you.

    14. Cecelia are you ok?

      What Flynn did was highly corrupt. If you actually read the transcripts you will see that the Republican talking points on the issue are bunk. No one said it was sinister, people said it was corrupt and illegal, and it was.

      Republicans try to push the notion that homelessness has gone up, but it actually has gone down over the last decade by a significant margin. Republicans never argue in good faith.

    15. mm, I didn’t see a question to me in your statement and it didn’t occur to me that you somehow thought I could provide clarity to the matter of who leaked and why the investigation of the leaking is taking so long.

      I saw your insinuation behind your mention of those things, but I don’t have to account for any of that. I made a quip. If it’s any help- I’ll throw in a belated bwaahahaha!

      Better late than never.

    16. Anonymouse 8:17pm, I acknowledge your drift.

    17. Holy Newt Gingrich!
      Who expects a Right-winger to make. good faith argument?
      Have you slept through the last 4 decades?

  7. "Simply put, we're being told that we should place our faith in this particular prince."

    Somerby goes from an example of independence to a conclusion that we should put our faith in this judge. I don't see how one dictates the other.

    We all hope that justice will be done. It seems pretty obvious that Barr is corrupt and has little interest in pursuing justice on this or any other matter of concern to Trump and his cronies. It is natural to hope that a fair justice who has shown himself to be independent will give a just result.

    But I don't see those conclusions emanating from the story's description of Justice Sullivan as having an independent streak. All justices should be independent of the kind of cronyism displayed by Trump's appointees. It is part of their job description.

    Somerby has turned a hope for fairness and justice into a plea for a partisan prince. We don't mirror the conservatives by hoping for a biased judge who will rule in our favor. We hope for a fair judge that will administer justice, as all judges should, not just those with an independent streak.

  8. “We blue consumers will never be asked to imagine the possibility that Attorney General Barr, rightly or wrongly, may be acting in accord with his actual beliefs with respect to the Flynn case.”

    Somerby likes to tout experts when it suits him. Bandy Lee and her fellow psychiatrists have credentials, quoted at length by Somerby, and that means we should take their diagnosis of Trump seriously.

    In the Flynn case, Somerby pleads ignorance.

    But there are 2000 former DOJ officials who have condemned Barr’s decision. These officials are experts in the law. Why should we not listen to them and be persuaded, particularly if Somerby is willing to admit his own ignorance in the Stevens case?

    And whether or not Barr is acting in accord with his actual beliefs (whatever that is supposed to mean) doesn’t change the rightness or wrongness of the decision.

    1. Just to clarify, it's 2,000 ex Justice Department employees. Some are not experts in the law. Most are in the law. Experts? Not demonstrably. The Justice Department employs 115,000 people so, 2,000 is appx. 1 percent of ex-employees I would think at a maximum, a tiny fraction. We must make sure to understand that number in context.

    2. Here is how CNN characterized them:

      "The rare statement from the officials -- mostly former career prosecutors, but also some former political appointees"

    3. Your math isn't quite right. The 115,000 are currently employed, not ex-employees. You don't state what the turnover is, but 2000 would be a % of a far smaller number, the former employees not the current ones. Since you are dividing 2000 by a much smaller number (there cannot be 100% turnover), the % would be much larger, not a tiny fraction. Since these are mostly prosecutors, you should divide 2000 by the number of career prosecutors, not the total number of Justice Department employees. Again, that would be a much higher %.

    4. Yes, it's clear that there are quite a few dembots in the DOJ now, and even more, much more, among the former employees. What else is new.

    5. You can tell me what it is then. 5%? It's still a tiny fraction of ex-employees. We just don't want anyone to get the impression there is majority group of vengeful Justice Department law experts demanding satisfaction. It's a tiny percentage of ex-employees, from lawyers to spokespeople, who passed around a Google document & signed a petition in the comfort of their jammies in less than a minute.

      So you could say there are 110,000 employees there now but only 40,000 ex-employees in the entire world, it's 5%, a tiny fraction.

      4:34 you can read the names and titles and years of service on the document on Medium. There seems to be a lot of heavy hitters, a lot of assistant attorneys and some spokespeople and other non legal functionaries. No matter how you slice it, the list is a tiny slice and shouldn't be interpreted as a stated position of all Justice Department ex employees. That's all I'm saying.

    6. You could put it another way and say "a vast and overwhelming majority of ex Department of Justice officials have not commented on the matter at all".

    7. You have to check out all the facts when you see numbers like that presented as representative of a majority or an authority view.

      That's Eddie Bernays propaganda technique number 1.

      Sure enough that stat is being used as propaganda.

    8. Look at the original poster for a view into the effectiveness of propaganda. He sees the number 2,000 and "justice department officials" and "condemning Barr" and that's it. It's game over. There is no reason not to be completely persuaded. Look no further. After all, 2,000 hooded erudite legal Obi Wans in the domed sanctum of divine international jurisprudence studied the facts between chants, hits of opium and reciting the Constitution backward and determined there is simply no reason for anyone to be anything but completely persuaded in Barr's malfeasance, so they attached their holy divination to the tiny foot of a dove which flew it to the city where the king read the proclamation for the entire kingdom so questions would finally be answered and no more questions on the matter would remain or ever again be necessary. Why should we not persuaded? There's simply no reason. 2,000 legal scholars have handed the verdict from the mountaintop. Discussion over.

      It's interesting these propaganda techniques are still so effective.

    9. Bracket,
      So about a tenth of a Hannity, correct?

    10. I'm absolutely shocked Right-wingers are waiving away treason against the United States of America.
      Just kidding, of course. I saw it coming 2 decades ago, when they accused me of hating America, because I criticized blowing $3 Trillion (with a T) of the US Treasury to kick-over the hornet's nest in the Middle East.
      Repeat after me: EVERY Right-wing accusation is a confession.
      Lock her up, indeed.

    11. Whatever fake controversies and zombie-manufactured outrages The Honorable William Barr, Attorney General of U.S. Department of Justice might be targeted with, it all, obviously, pales in comparison with Barry The Demigod's AG Eric Holder, the perpetrator of plentiful real corruption scandals, from his ATF gunwalking scandal, to his steadfast refusal to prosecute corrupt banksters, to his very real stonewalling, resulting in him being held in criminal contempt of congress. By a bipartisan vote, incidentally.

    12. Well, 10:55. Biden and Hillary advocated the crime you describe. They would be in the camp accusing you. And Libya. There's Libya.

      But the issue is Barr and propaganda which affects both sides of your comic book worldview. Both sides. The heroes and the villians. It's important to remember that term. Both sides.

      In the criminal scenario you describe, the crime of the century, both
      sides heartily supported the slaughter and its sweet spoils. Including
      the current Democratic presidential candidate.

    13. 10:35. I don't know what that means but probably. The guy must be a zillionaire at this point being the world's top propagandist for almost 25 years.

    14. This string is a bird's-eye view of the effectiveness of propaganda. 10:55 apparently lived through the Iraq War and still, still thinks Democrats are good. That is nothing less than a massive victory of propaganda.

    15. Meh. It's just a psycho-dembot who makes confessions all the time.

    16. And with Flynn, nobody wants to talk about Flynn and Israel. I brought it up the other day. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about Flynn, Trump, Russia and Israel?

      mm, were you even aware of that? You weren't were you?

    17. You're one to talk jackass.

    18. Barcket,
      So Trump being a Russian asset is pretty much Hillary's email protocols?
      Cool. Would loved to have had your rational thinking on September 12, 2001.

    19. This string is a bird's-eye view of the effectiveness of both sides propaganda. Bracket apparently lived through the Senate waiving away Trump's treason just 4 months ago and still, still thinks Republicans and Democrats are the same. That is nothing less than a massive victory of both sides propaganda.

    20. Bracket,
      Re: Hannity being a propagandist.
      Hannity setting national policy is a bigger concern.

    21. No one wants to talk about Trump and Israel collision?

    22. 11:46 you'll always lose that argument. You are
      deeply propagandized. Just like the 'I believe her' came back and bit liberals in the arse so will the scary treason in Ukraine. Because both sides do it. You'll see.

      Both sides. Both sides is the issue and the problem. Both sides get massively rich while pretending to represent our interests. Both sides are elected from corporate donations. Both sides are corrupt warmongers. You'll come around soon.

      I wish I was wrong. I like comic books too.

    23. But we can all now agree no, we should not be automatically persuaded of Barr's guilt because 2,000, a tiny fraction of ex Justice Department employees, signed a Google Doc.

    24. What is interesting is all this talk about propaganda from someone who clearly has been conned by Republicans.

      Btw, in this case, it does not matter the percent of ex employees, what makes it significant is it is an unprecedented rebuke of a corrupt AG.

      The Trump/Israel collusion was indeed covered when the information was released by Mueller back in 2017. To be accurate, it was really more collusion with Russia as Kushner directed Flynn to influence them on the UN resolution. So the Trump/Israel issue is more about Russia. The collusion with Russia was way worse - it diminished our democracy, Russia is our enemy, Russia is a powerful force of crime, murder, and corruption. This is all obvious and trivial to anyone that is not under the influence of Republican talking points.

    25. We are the world's most powerful force of murder and corruption. (We committed the worst crime of the century by far).

      What collusion?

      The only Trump collusion was between Trump and Israel to try to sway Russia's UN vote (they refused).

      There was no Russia Trump collusion found as the Mueller Report states over and over.

      I can't play games with rookies all day

    26. Also, it was not unprecedented. Haha. Do your research. Unprecedented rebuke is another propaganda phraee you fell for without researching. Sorry man.

    27. Bracket,
      Barr should be judged on his record of corruption, which is extensive.

    28. Bracket,
      Obama had a plan on how to handle a pandemic. Trump didn't.
      How are both sides exactly the same again?

    29. Bracket,
      So Bill Barr told you there was no collusion between Trump and Russia in the Mueller Report, and you bought it hook,line, and sinker.

      Can you give us some pointers on how you became so resistant to propaganda?

    30. If you can show me collusion from the Mueller Report, please do.

      Both sides are not exactly the same. Both sides are corrupt and only pretend to address their constituents interests. I think the Republicans are worse but the Democrats are horrible.

    31. The corruption of both sides will become clear to you over the next few years. Or earlier if you care to research it now.

      There's no shame in being propagandized. It's orchestrated very meticulously by powerful people

    32. And it's natural to find another group to hate. Cowboys and Indians, Crips and Bloods etc etc. That is deeply psychological. The other group becomes an outlet for your deep psychological fears and anger. They've perfected this in politics by now.

      Two groups of people are both getting gouged by healthcare prices, both have had no pay raise in a generation, both see the rich pay less than their fair share of taxes, on and on and on. Each side's leaders manipulate and take advantage of them through propaganda that engages their natural psychological instincts, engaging their constituents to hate the other group of constituents. Meanwhile both groups of constituents are equally taken advantage of and both sides, leaders of both groups both vastly enrich themselves and drink martinis together until dawn toasting the success of the world's oldest scam, divide and rule.

      You should read Eddie Bernays, the godfather of American propaganda.
      The truth is hiding in plain sight.

      Sorry. Comic book world is easier. I will give you that.

    33. Bracket,
      I'm looking for a professional goalpost mover. How much do you charge?

    34. Bracket,
      Which liberals don't notice Democrats corruption?
      Obama putting Dijon mustard on a hamburger, was extensively covered by the media when it happened.

    35. 2:22 I don't know what that means. You should say what you mean directly like a man.

      2:28 Good Lord, where to start?. there's Fast and Furious, the bailout of the banks, the continued endless wars, Libya, healthcare. There's an enormous amount of corruption in Washington on both sides. Sorry to spoil your comic book view on life.

    36. Malfeasance by one bad actor does not nullify that of another, your claim is remarkably dumb.

      The collusion with respect to Israel was an attempt of Kushner to collude with Russia. It was corrupt but a relatively minor issue.

      The Mueller details a significant amount of collusion with Russia, it was the sole purpose of one of the two chapters, he was not able to recommend a specific indictment due to the coverup, he said there was collusion but he could not access enough evidence to indict due to Trump's coverup.

      It was unprecedented.

      Strangely, as you claim to be impervious to propaganda, you furiously attempt to spread propaganda, admittedly to an audience of zero.

    37. "2:22 I don't know what that means. You should say what you mean directly like a man."

      Bracket, you're full of shit, and you changed your tune from "both sides are the same" to "both sides are the same, sometimes" as soon as you were called on it.

      How's that, better?

    38. "There's an enormous amount of corruption in Washington on both sides."

      Turning a blind eye to it by allowing Flynn to lie to the FBI, and Barr to lie about what is in the Mueller Report, shows you are perfectly fine with the enormous amount of corruption on both sides of Washington.
      Or at least one side of it.

  9. "he was merely probing how generous the government had been in its plea deal."

    Sullivan asked whether Flynn could have been charged with treason. That sounds like exactly what his clarification said, an exploration of the seriousness of the charges Flynn was being protected from by his plea deal. Somerby hints that the word "clarification" is generous, as if Sullivan were lying about his intention, but I don't see any reason for Somerby to suggest that.

    Really, I don't see what Somerby's point is with today's essay. He seems to be critical of Sullivan. Is that because he thinks Sullivan is a liberal hope? Or does he resent that Sullivan may disallow Barr's attempt to dismiss Flynn's plea deal? And if so, isn't Somerby once again supporting the right's view of what happened? And isn't that pretty odd, coming from a supposed liberal (as Somerby repeatedly claims to be)?

    And when was Comey ever a blue "consumer beast" (whatever that means)? Comey was always a Republican, but not all Republicans were Trump supporters back in that day, so he was in disfavor because he wouldn't swear allegiance to Trump, upon request. But Comey is the reason that Hillary is not president, and I don't know any blues who think his October surprise was a good thing. So, Somerby not only accuses so-called blues of simplistic thinking, but also of lionizing the man who cost Democrats the 2016 election.

  10. With Barr, there's a lot to loathe.

  11. Was Sullivan right to dismiss the conviction of Senator Stevens? As we sit here today, we can't tell you, and let's face it:

    You have no idea either!

    Well, fuck you very much for assuming that I was as ignorant in 2009, when Stevens’ conviction was voided, as you are today. I knew then and I remember now that prosecutors were guilty of Brady violations, the requirement that the gov turn over all exculpatory evidence to the defense. When I checked on the intertubes, I found out that the prosecution had lied to the court about their malfeasance. Which is likely what set the judge to fuming.

    Barr is claiming that the prosecution of Flynn was unwarranted. That’s as may be, but very unlikely. But it doesn’t make a difference: lying to FBI agents is against the law. Flynn pleaded guilty, acknowledging not only that he lied, but that there had been no undue influence on him. The plea deal with the admissions was made under oath, so he’s either lying then or lying now.

    1. "lying to FBI agents is against the law' only if it's material. The Justice Dept internal investigation determined that Flynn's lies (if there even really were any) were not material.

      Defendants change their plea all the time. Technically speaking, a change in plea presumably means that the initial plea was false. But, nobody is ever prosecuted for changing their plea.

    2. Bill Barr determined that a foreign agent interfering in US policy is immaterial?
      That sounds about right.

      Remember, Barr is the guy that blatantly lied about what was in the Mueller Report.

    3. *** Public Service Announcement ***

      DAinCA is an idiot, in fact, this commentariat's Village Idiot. You may safely ignore anything he has to say, as all he can do is regurgitate here the right-wing talking points that are all he reads.

      That Flynn's lies were material is a matter of fact, to be determined by a trier of fact, which in this case is the judge who reviewed the plea agreement. Guess what he found?

      You may not withdraw a plea agreement once the court has accepted it unless you can convince the judge that you were coerced or that it was your attorney's fault that you didn't understand it.

    4. deadrat - I'm not a lawyer, so I'm going by what I read. The judge is supposed to rubber stamp a prosecutor's decision to drop the charges. He is not supposed to make a separate judgment. The only reason to require the judge's approval is to protect the defendant, if the prosecutor is doing something tricky, such as dropping the case in order to bring charges later.

    5. Norms, David in Cal. Norms.
      Who gives a shit about norms anymore? We're in a new era.
      For instance, it used to be normal for Presidents of the United States of America to side against fascists, but we've cast aside those norms, along with that kind of close-minded thinking.

      Hindsight being 20-20, it probably wasn't the best move for Flynn and his lawyers to fuck with Judge Sullivan, and for Flynn to perjure himself throughout the proceedings.

      Oh well, at least we're discussing this, and not Trump's criminal negligence leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, so good job by you.

  12. “Flynn told Kislyak not to retaliate against the U.S. as a result of the new sanctions. As a result, the Russkies didn't!”

    How does Somerby think Flynn got the Russkies not to retaliate? By saying “pretty please?”

    1. mh - you're just imagining things. According to what we know from he actual conversation, Flynn pointed out that new Russian sanction could lead to new US sanctions and an escalating situation.

    2. "By saying “pretty please?"

      Meh. By saying something like this, I imagine:
      'The goebbelsian liberal cult is done for. They'll be out of the picture in no time. And so for now, for a just little bit while their stink's still thick in the air, please ignore their huffing and puffing and their goebbelsian provocations.'

    3. “According to what we know about the actual conversation...”

      Hoo boy. First of all, there were several “conversations.” And second, the transcripts have not been released.


    4. Why are we still pretending Right-wingers have any problem at all with treason against the United States of America?

    5. David, did you have a chance to catch Dr. Bright testify yesterday? You remember the guy you instantly and reflexively smeared when he was fired and removed from the best job he was qualified for? Remember him, David?

      Well, the funniest part of his testimony was when he said government scientists should not be afraid to speak honestly "without fear of retribution"! What is he crazy or something?
      Vindictive spiteful asinine retribution from Dear Leader (Acting President) is the most funnest part of for deplorables like you, isn't that so?

  13. It’s possible that tribalism has led liberals to believe incorrect things about the DOJ Flynn reversal.

    But Somerby has provided not a single plausible reason to think that.

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