Let's Fix This Country

Durham Report Trashes the FBI, Fortifies the Right’s Mythology

Four years and $6.5 million has brought us the long-awaited Durham Report, a withering critique of how the FBI went about its investigation into the Trump campaign's extensive contacts with Russian sources, and the Clinton campaign's efforts to sow suspicion of collusion. At least, that was its intention.

Right-wing media exploded in euphoria, warping the report's conclusions behind recognition. The first words on the lead-off primetime show on Fox that night had host Will Cain saying, "It's confirmed that the FBI worked to rig the outcome of an American presidential election". Truth has not won out at Fox after the Dominion debacle.

The left pretended a yawn with its hosts saying there is "nothing new" in 306 pages article illustration
Special Counsel John Durham

never seen before and repeating the vacuous "there's no there, there".

Durham's report is devoted to criticizing the FBI. Other than storytelling, it deals with little else. This plays perfectly into the Republican narrative that the Justice Department and its Federal Bureau of Investigation have been "weaponized" against the Right. On his Fox show when the report was released, Sean Hannity's first words were, "The Left's Russia hysteria has officially come to an end". Durham's narrow focus on the FBI has given the Right the false ability to claim that is all there was in 2016. We can expect them to cite the report reflexively from this moment forward, especially in response to every indictment of Donald Trump, as proof of a corrupt "deep state", even though the report says nothing of the sort.


John Durham, the U.S. attorney for the district of Connecticut, was tapped by Attorney General William Barr to look for criminality in the 2016 campaign, election, and beyond. Barr believes in a "unitary" theory of…


Scandal Peaks for Clarence Thomas as the Right Tries to Explain It All Away

With respect for the Supreme court already at an all-time low, one would have thought the exposé by ProPublica cataloguing the extravagant gifts bestowed upon Clarence Thomas and wife Virginia would have silenced even the Court's most ardent conservative supporters.

Not so. Conservative media immediately took to the ramparts to defend the justice. article illustration
Clarence Thomas and wife Virginia
The Wall Street Journal fired off an editorial titled, "The Smearing of Clarence Thomas" with the incendiary subtitle, "The left gins up another phony ethics assault to tarnish the Supreme Court." The paper's editorial board wrote,

"Justice Clarence Thomas has a rich friend who has hosted the Justice on his private plane, his yacht, and his vacation resort. That’s it. That’s the story."

The story goes well beyond that, of course, for beyond the peculiarly suspicious flow of gifts from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow over a long stretch of years, Justice Thomas failed to report any of them in accordance with the ethics law enacted after Richard Nixon's presidency.

The secret acceptance of gifts — "lavish" was the media's most frequent adjective — has prompted questions of whether others of the justices have similarly been enjoying the largesse of those hopeful of influencing the Court. Three weeks after the first ProPublica story, The New York Times burst forth with a 5,000 word piece that spanned two full pages of the broadsheet's print edition about George Mason University's law school cozying up to a number of the justices by paying for their travel and accommodations abroad.

ProPublica #2: Crow buys Thomas property

But before a closer look at that, ProPublica followed up with a second story that a Harlan Crow company had in 2014 bought a house and two nearby empty lots …

the nation

Fox settlement, Afghanistan exit, Meta vertigo, Role reversal in NYC

A few items accumulated that we thought worth the telling as a reprieve from the usual long-form single subject tract:

1. disappointed that Fox and Dominion settled?

There's no end of print about Tucker Carlson's removal but let's go back to the $787,500 settlement that helped send him on his way.

Many had hoped for the day-by-day combat of a trial, for the schadenfreude of watching media titan Rupert Murdoch and the network's stars humbled as they took their turns in the dock.

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell disabused his viewers of thinking article illustration
Dominion Voting Systems could have done better with a savvy disquisition on the practicalities of civil suits that we believe few are aware of, not this writer anyway.

First, in civil suits no one goes to jail. Accountability can be meted out only in the form of money.

"The jury would only have a form to fill in the amount that Fox would have to pay...And if that jury awarded an amount that a judge or an appeals court considers excessive, they can simply reduce that amount of money, and reduce it dramatically."

Judges reduce jury verdicts in civil cases all the time because the damages awarded by the jury have to make some economic sense. "The jury can't just pick a huge number to make themselves feel good."

Moreover, the judge ordered no cameras and no recording devices in the courtroom, "You were never going to hear Tucker Carlson's or Rupert Murdoch's voice answering questions under oath. All the public would get would be a recitation by television hosts reading from a transcript. "It is extremely rare to have any surprises in civil litigation like this", said O'Donnell. The prosecution lawyers would be asking the same questions they had already asked in the under-oath depositions,…

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No Sign of Change at Fox

Last Friday, the media got hold of Trump's deposition in the E. Jean Carroll case in which he says that unfortunately "or fortunately" stars like himself. can grab women by the p***y and doubled down by then insulting the questioning attorney as not his type. On "Hannity" that night, no mention of the video on his show. Safe to say no mention on the other two shows as evident from the following two nights.

Monday is when the video got heavy playback on other channels. On the three primetime shows — "Fox News Tonight", the substitute for Carlson now hosted by Kayleigh McEnany, a former Trump press secretary; "Hannity" at 9:00 o'clock; and Laura Ingraham's "The Ingraham Angle" — no mention anywhere of the deposition videos even though they were thought to have a big impact with the jury.

The jury verdict came down on Tuesday. With one perhaps inadvertent exception, no coverage at all on all three hours of the three shows, even on a program that calls itself "Fox News Tonight". You have to wonder just how much Fox viewers ever hear about what is happening in the real world. All of these programs literally every night go on about the border and Hunter Biden. Legitimate subjects, but it's constant, endless.

The only "coverage" of the trial verdict came from guest Alan Dershowitz, who has claimed to be a Democrat but who's been all-in for Trump and appears on Fox often. Mention of the decision against Trump in the Carroll case does… Read More »


Biden Wants an All-Electric America. The Grid Has a Problem

President Biden expects to reduce U.S. emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to arrive at net zero emissions from all the nation's power plants by 2035. "The gap between wishful thinking and reality is vast", says naysaying scientist Vaclav Smil.

"People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic. People toss out these deadlines without any reflection on the scale and the complexity of the problem."

Writing in The New Yorker, environmental journalist Elizabeth Kolbert underscores Smil's bracing caveat, telling us that the U.S. electrical article illustration

”…comprises more than eleven thousand generating plants, more than six hundred thousand miles of high-voltage transmission lines, and some six million miles of distribution lines."

Our grid has been called “the largest machine ever built by man.” The U.S. electrical system is becoming less reliable. Fossil-fuel power plants are going out of service faster than renewable sources are being installed, which could lead to increasing brownouts and blackouts. In 2000, there were fewer than 50 major outages. In 2020, the number approached 200.

Much of its transmission infrastructure is in need of upgrade, having been built just after World War II and even before, and weighing on that, it is now to undergo a total transformation to accommodate Biden's flank speed conversion to wind and solar.

a far piece

Power plants have typically been built close to existing transmission lines because such connections are costly to build. But with wind and solar, a power project doesn't get to pick a convenient location. That means thousands of miles of new transmission lines are needed criss-crossing the country to bring power generated where the wind… Read More »


In Five Years, Medicare Runs Short of Money. Republicans to Nix Biden Fix.

President Biden made known his priorities with the release of his budget plan early this month. One feature is a modest increase in the Medicare payroll tax ("huge" and "giant" says the tax-averse Wall Street Journal editorial board) meant to extend the viability of Medicare for another 25 years beyond 2028 when the trust fund's reserves will otherwise run dry.

The president's offering will be negotiated over the coming months along with budgets from the House and Senate, and the tax increases are destined not to get past Republicans in the House. But the White House proposals do serve to remind that some action needs to be taken article illustration
about Medicare by a Congress that resolutely chooses to ignore what's coming at us in the future.

We pay 1.45% of income for Medicare, as do employers, for a 2.9% total. single individuals on income over $200,000 and marrieds filing jointly on income over $250,000 pay an extra .9% for a 3.8% total. For income over $400,000 Biden wants to increase the 3.8%… Read More »

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