I’m not sure what to expect from a “Mueller report,” really. I could see it being a damning indictment outlining all of Trump’s many crimes, or a report that points fingers and provides evidence against tons of people in Trump’s circle, but not Trump himself. I mention that second one because there’s an off chance that maybe Trump managed to insulate himself well enough from his crimes that they can’t nail him on much of anything.

I don’t know how much of a chance there is that the second one happens. Trump and his cronies are not smart guys. Trump’s own stupidity and arrogance may have gotten in the way of any attempts to insulate him.

Anyway, here’s a few things to read this morning.

Photo credit: Donald Trump, by Gage Skidmore. (Source and licensing.)

So Bernie Sanders threw his hat in the ring, to no one’s surprise, and, I mean… Okay, let’s be honest here. I’m voting the Whomever Isn’t Trump 2020 ticket almost irregardless of who the Democrats run. They could run a literal turnip, and that’s probably who I’m voting for.

I mean, at least a literal turnip is not in a criminal conspiracy with Russia, right? That seems highly unlikely.

But am I excited for another Bernie Sanders run? Not really. I was done with Sanders when I realized what a pile of rabidly awful fanatics his fanboys were. No one who inspires that kind of behavior is going to be at the top of my Happy Favorites List.

Anyway…

  1. Politico: Emails reveal coordination between Chao, McConnell offices
  2. NBC News: Bernie Sanders enters 2020 presidential race: ‘Complete the revolution’
  3. NPR: Poll: 6-In-10 Disapprove Of Trump’s Declaration Of A National Emergency
  4. National Centers for Environmental Information: January 2019 was third warmest on record for the globe
  5. AV Club: The Newsroom might come back to finally fix journalism once and for all

Of particular interest today is item number 3, from the News & Observer, which is live-blogging the investigation into the absentee ballot tampering scandal in North Carolina. Also worth a look is #5, where an engineer on Twitter tackles the Monsters, Inc. “scare floor” and redesigns it for better safety and efficiency.

  1. CNN: California AG Becerra says states to sue over Trump’s national emergency declaration
  2. Politico: McCabe: ‘I was fired because I opened a case against the president’
  3. News & Observer: Bladen County operative ‘told us what we were to say’ at hearing, worker testifies
  4. LA Times: Rare L.A. mega-storm could overwhelm dam and flood dozens of cities, experts say
  5. Twitter: Engineer takes on Monsters, Inc. “scare floor”

Settle in for another shutdown, kids. It looks like they’re gearing up for it in Congress.

5 Things to Read Today

🤬 New York Times: Talks Over Border Security Break Down, Imperiling Effort to Prevent Shutdown

Negotiations over the spending bill crapped out on Sunday. If Congress doesn’t get it together by this Friday at midnight, we’re shutting down again. And hell, even if they do get it together, there’s a fair chance Trump just won’t sign the damn thing, because it doesn’t have his wall money.

🛫 The Hill: Flight attendant union calls for general strike if government shuts down again

Meanwhile, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a huge flight attendant union, is calling for a general strike if they shut the government down again. Reminder: it’s usually flight problems that gets the government open again once they shut down, because it turns out senators and representatives don’t like being trapped in DC.

😲 Pew Research Center: About a third of Americans say blackface in a Halloween costume is acceptable at least sometimes

I cannot believe that this still needs saying in 2019. Blackface is never, under any circumstances, for any reason, acceptable. Never ever, not even one time, no matter how “funny” or “clever” or “topical” or whatever you think you are. Do not. Just don’t.

⚕️ Vox: Utah Republicans have officially blocked their state’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion

Back in November Utah voters voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Republican legislature in Utah decided, Naaaah, and instead passed a bill that only allowed a partial expansion. The bill’s on the way to the Utah governor to be signed.

💉 The Oregonian: Proposal would eliminate personal vaccine exemption for Oregon school kids

In Oregon you can get a personal exemption from vaccinations and still send your kids to school. This is how anti-vaxxers get their kids into classes, and anti-vaxxers are the reason why we have a measles outbreak in Oregon. State rep Mitch Greenlick (D) has a bill proposed that would eliminate non-medical exemptions for kids, meaning you’d have to have an actual reason for not vaccinating your kids to get them into school.

Jeff Bezos, By Steve Jurvetson
Photo Credit: Jeff Bezos, by Steve Jurvetson. (Source and licensing.)

Back on Jan. 9, Jeff Bezos and his soon-to-be former wife announced they were divorcing. Shortly after that, the National Enquirer published “reports” of Bezos’ affair, complete with text messages and claims of dirty photos.

Bezos apparently got to wondering how the National Enquirer got his texts and photos, so he hired all-star security consultant and author Gavin de Becker and his firm to investigate. And once the investigation started turning up dirt, the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, owned by David Pecker, apparently tried to blackmail Bezos by threatening to publish his dick pics.

But of course, publishing photos of Jeff Bezos’ wiener is only embarrassing – it’s not going to actually hurt him. He’s a powerful, ridiculously rich straight white dude involved in a pretty tame affair. The National Enquirer can’t actually hurt him with dirty pics, so yesterday Bezos published a blog post to Medium basically telling the National Enquirer, “🖕🖕🖕,” and published their emails to boot.

Once that happened, journalist Ronan Farrow announced, “Hey, the National Enquirer tried to blackmail me, too, along with some other prominent journalists.” Those journalists included folks at the Daily Beast and the AP.

Some links:

So, yeah, turns out, the National Enquirer? Hella shady. But of course, we already knew that.

Some more links:

The National Enquirer, for their part, says, “Nuh-uh!” and promises to investigate the situation, for whatever that’s worth. 🙄

One last quick thing. This morning Paul Krugman tweeted, “I never expected to see Jeff Bezos emerge as a hero of democracy. But he has. A profile in moral courage.”

I saw a few other folks tweeting similar sentiments last night and this morning, so I don’t mean to pick on Krugman in particular, here, but let’s tone this kind of “moral hero, profile in courage” bullshit down a bit, eh?

Bezos has umpteen gazillion dollars and more power than god. A few dick pics being made public were never going to hurt him. Also, he’s in charge of Amazon, a company that is a mass-consumerist hellscape that treats its employees like garbage.

I mean, good on Bezos for not buckling to blackmail and bringing it to light and all, but let’s not pretend that he’s some saint or anything.

Read this: Inside the UAE’s Secret Hacking Team of American Mercenaries.

[Lori Stroud] had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the United Arab Emirates engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights activists critical of the monarchy.

Reuters

This one’s a long read detailing how the United Arab Emirates launched a cyber intelligence team made up of American contractors. It’s a fascinating read.