Mistress of the Mix: Blacked Out

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Over the weekend, one of my friends finally blocked me on social media.

It was a long time coming.

I sort of pride myself on having friends that exist on opposite sides of the fence: the radically liberal, the ultra-conservative, all those who fall in-between, and those who are on the fence. It’s been my opinion that it’s important to keep channels of communication open and ongoing if we – as a nation – are going to move forward. I think we need to learn how to understand each other, even if we don’t agree. And maybe most importantly, we need to learn how to disagree respectfully. That’s just not always so easy to do.

So back to Saturday, when I sat down to start reading the Mueller Report. I didn’t want to read anybody else’s spin on it. Not CNN, not Yahoo News, not Kellyanne Conway or the President himself. I wanted to read it myself, and draw my own conclusion. So I went to the NPR News website, and found the link to the redacted report, all 448 pages of it. It’s really more like 300 pages though, because so much of it has been blacked out. Entire pages, sometimes.

Like page 30:

We, the public are not privy yet – and might never be – to what’s been blacked out from our view in the report. But I can tell you – because I read the thing – that this entire page was somehow related to the investigation of how Russian agents, in service to their employer, the Russian government, not only purchased ads on American social media platforms like Facebook, but also arranged rallies in the U.S. (pro-Trump rallies, pro-confederate rallies, and we don’t what else because its blacked out) and duped their followers on dummy social media accounts to help them. You know what that means? That means that Americans were conspiring with Russians to meddle in the 2016 Presidential election. They just didn’t know it.

I know, I’m just giving you my takeaway on what I think is behind all that black ink, the information that I extrapolated from the written paragraphs just prior to and after the redacted material. So don’t take my word for it that I’m right, read it yourself.

You can even read it right now, for free. It’s right here, at National Public Radio’s website.

When reading a good piece of fiction, I never ever skip to the ending first. But since I am of the opinion that the Mueller Report is the compiling of evidence and facts gathered in a lengthy investigation, I was okay with starting with the conclusion to see for myself if the report was – as stated by Trump himself, a “complete and total exoneration.”

Don’t take my word for it that he said it. Again, you can see/hear that for yourself as well.

But that’s not what the report actually said. And rather than tell you what I think the report concluded, read it for yourself.

Additionally, if you’re interested in checking out Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller Report that explains why he decided not to recommend any further indictments against any of the other players in this modern Game of Thrones, you can also read that for yourself right here, courtesy of the New York Times.

Read it. Draw your own conclusions.

Back to Facebook … where I posted a link to the Mueller Report and encouraged everyone to read it for themselves. One of my friends on the left side of the fence said he felt the Mueller Report showed “the reason (Trump) didn’t commit obstruction is because no one would do what he ordered them to do. So technically the crime didn’t happen but he tried to make it happen. He’s a treasonous piece of human garbage we will be lucky to overcome.”

Now, I don’t know for sure if that friend actually read the report or was sharing his sentiment based on news coverage, but that was his opinion. A friend on the other side of the political fence reacted with, “That was not in the report.” At first I thought she was solely talking about the part where he referred to Trump to as a treasonous piece of human garbage (true, that wasn’t in the report). But now I’m not so sure, because she followed up with “You obviously haven’t read the report. You should, though.”

Curious, I went back to the report, and took in page 370 in the section labeled “Overarching Factual Issues” regarding the President’s conduct, which was fortunate to escape the black marker of death. But it hasn’t escaped my sunshine yellow highlighter.

The Mueller Report, Page 370.

I posted the highlighted material above so she could decide for herself if she still felt the person she’d accused of not reading the report had done a pretty accurate job of paraphrasing (or if maybe she hadn’t actually read the report?), and it was then that my friend on the right deflected with, “One thing that was clear in the report is that the Russians have been using all this to divide Americans and its worked well. Posting this kind of crap is feeding right into their hands.”

At this point I reminded my friend that while I agreed with her 100% about Russians purposefully dividing Americans, that having the freedom to make posts about how we feel about the President is one of the rights that makes this country great.

I don’t know if she even saw that, because the next time I checked, she’d unfriended and blocked me. And that’s her right. Ain’t America great?

It’s not the first time that’s happened to me over a political discussion on Facebook. The last time was during a discussion thread about Brett Kavanaugh’s blackouts. That time it was a former liberal college friend who ditched me after I defended another friend on the right. The friend on the right was, ironically, the same gal who just blocked me over the Mueller Report.

Oh yeah, the Mueller Report. I have to admit that I still haven’t finished the entire report, although I will. There’s just so much to digest. But I feel really fortunate that we have been given the opportunity to be able to read it for ourselves, even with all that black ink obscuring much of it. You might share my former friend’s opinion that the report is simply airing our dirty laundry, but hey, it’s our dirty laundry. We can air it, toss it, burn it, or read it.

I am of the opinion that knowledge is power. So take advantage of the opportunity.

Read it.

You can do so right now by clicking on the NPR link to the Mueller Report online, or buy it at Barnes & Noble with versions running between $7.40 – $24.99 depending on whether you want to read it plain or buttered up with prefaces from Sean Hannity, Alan Dershowitz, or the Washington Post. B&N is even giving away the report for free if you want to download it onto your Nook.

Then let’s talk.

In the spirit of working together, I’m starting off today’s streaming Blacked Out Playlist, but I want you to help me finish it. Please feel free (along with any comments you might have on the subject) to make your own suggestions for songs that might fit in with the theme and I’ll add them. Together, we can build this.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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33 Responses

  1. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    Excellent analysis Valerie. I have also been blocked by some that refuse to listen to opposing views. Oh well, their loss.
    I have a few takes on the Mueller report. My work schedule has prevented me from reading it as of yet, so I am accepting the finding that there was no collusion. My first take of the report is that the media and most Americans are ignoring the Russian meddling in our elections findings. This is very serious and no one is talking about it. It’s all about Trump
    I have interacted with many Trump haters since the report came out and I ask them a simple question…”Are you pleased it relieved that Mr Trump did not collude with Russia? Or are you disappointed in the conclusion?” You can imagine the response.

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      Doug, when you do get around to reading it, the report is broken up into two separate sections. The first half is about Russia’s campaign to influence the campaign, and all of the people known to have participated in communications with Russia regarding the emails they stole from the Clinton campaign and planned to release to damage her. The second half is about how Trump reacted to the concept of an investigation into Russia’s interference. There’s even a handy index that breaks it down further, so you can start with whatever interests you. Ultimately, I hope you’ll read the entire thing, and then I’d be interested in your opinion again. In fact, you might just want to read the conclusions to start with.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        I’m looking forward to reading the report. I normally do in these cases. I read all 8 Benghazi reports. I’m just surprised that the Russian meddling is not getting very much attention. But…of course everything is all about Trump these days

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          Maybe you hadn’t noticed that Trump leads the executive branch. Trump and his underlings have repeatedly downplayed the importance of Russia’s meddling, refusing to take it seriously. Just last week, Jared Kushner said it wasn’t important, and that the investigation into Russian interference did more harm to America than the meddling.

          I agree. You *should* be alarmed that Russian interference in our election is being ignored…by Orange Mussolini.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      My answer to your question, Doug…

      I am neither pleased nor displeased that Mueller did not find evidence that Trump collided with Russia. It’s a finding of fact by a careful investigator, and I accept it.

      I am displeased that the Trump campaign was clearly *willing* to collude with Russians. I am displeased that part of Trump’s defense was that he was saying so in broad daylight—his lack of impulse control negating criminal intent. I am displeased that he clearly tried to obstruct justice, and the primary defense is that his underlings refuses to follow through on his worst impulses. And I am displeased that the report supports the assessment that the POTUS is a compulsive liar and a narcissistic authoritarian. Such a compulsive liar, in fact, that his attorneys would not let him testify in person because that would have been a “perjury trap.”

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        I don’t see it that way with obstruction. Trump was clearly frustrated and was blowing off steam. The fact that he apparently forgot about his rants and his advisors clearly said no, shows to me he wasn’t serious. If I got frustrated about the amount of taxes I was paying and yelled to my accountant to not file my taxes ever again and he refused. My guess is I can’t be charged with tax evasion

        • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

          So every single time he told his attorney to tell Sessions to fire the special counsel, and every time he told people to lie to the special counsel, and when he actually fired Comey, he wasn’t serious and was just blowing off steam? He was just upset? Well, I guess that makes it all cool.

          You can’t read his mind, and neither can we. What he did was obstruction, regardless of what was in his head. His deeds were a crime. As the president, what he does affects us all and it takes an obscene amount of mental gymnastics to attribute all of these crimes to “blowing off steam.”

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Keep moving the goalpost. For years now all we have been hearing about is Russian collusion and how the president is a traitor. Now it’s…well nevermind..he obstructed justice. Ridiculous. When Obama directed his AG to not turn over evidence concerning fast and furious to which he was charged with contempt of Congress, was that obstruction too? Worthy of impeachment. My guess is that you think not. Double standard perhaps?

          • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

            I guess “what about…” is the answer to everything. You moved the goalposts by calling treason just blowing off steam. If what Obama did outrages you so much, the Trump Treason must really set you off. But I guess that’s not a double standard.
            Sure Jan.

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          Doug — Did you get rid of your tax advisor for refusing your orders? Trump got rid of FBI Director Jim Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for refusing to do his bidding—he flat out said so.

          Mueller made it very clear he wasn’t vindicating Trump regarding obstruction, and referred the issue to Congress.

          Mueller also said that he accepts the DOJ memorandum explaining why the DOJ can’t indict a sitting POTUS, and said that last the reason why—even if Trump had committed a crime of obstruction—Mueller wouldn’t recommend filing federal charges.

          I think I’ll take Mueller’s legal opinions over yours.

  2. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I would never block those who hold opposite opinions from me, I always need a good laugh.
    As far as song list, I think Sunday Morning Coming Down would be the perfect fit for our present day politics.

  3. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Added! Thanks for joining in!

  4. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    SUSPICIOUS MINDS . . . . That title fits both sides . . . . and most of us who like to think we are somewhere in the middle.

  5. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    After reading the Mueller report, it’s plain to see Trump intended to obstruct the investigation on numerous occasions. Intent to obstruct justice is a high crime and misdemeanor, and it’s up to the House to impeach him. The only song I can think of that sums this whole mess up is the Rolling Stones “Lies.”

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      The legal theory that there can be no obstruction of justice if the underlying crime isn’t proved is something that the Trump administration simply pulled from their collective rectal orifice. At first blush and upon closer examination, it’s 100% moronic. It’s a crime to attempt to obstruct a federal investigation, all on its own.

      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point that so many people with catcher’s mitts for brains are buying the argument.

  6. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    My favorite of the anti-Trump protest songs is probably “Million Dollar Loan” by Death Cab for Cutie. But there are several other good ones on the linked list.

    http://time.com/4643778/trump-protest-songs/

  7. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    I admit, my comment of Trump being a treasonous piece of human garbage was solely my opinion (although I would argue the report in its totality implies it), but the fact that Trump was unsuccessful in his attempts to obstruct justice because his staff wouldn’t do his bidding *did* come from the report, just as you illustrated. I haven’t read the whole thing (I should), but I’ve read pieces and parts and all of it should freak everyone out. Right and left.

    I agree with you that it’s important to keep friendships on both sides of politics because we need all views to be heard. I have dropped a handful of friends (but haven’t blocked them) when I felt like their opinions were too extreme to ignore or overlook. Racism and homophobia are non-negotiable for me and I just pull the plug and move on. But I’ve got many friends on the right who I know and care about, and I don’t have to understand them to love them and I’m glad they didn’t dump me either.

  8. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I only recall been unfriended on FB once.

    Friends of ours have two grown sons. The older is an ex-Marine who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan—we used to send him the occasional care package.

    When he came back from his second deployment, he immediately began taking issue with some of my political posts on FB. I’m generally fine with that, but his were a 50/50 mix of talking points lifted directly from Breitbart, etc., and flat-out personal insults. The former I can deal with. The personal insults shocked me, frankly. I don’t blame his parents—I’m sure he was raised to understand at some level that it’s not okay to hurl demeaning insults at your parents’ friends.

    Anyway, one day following the posting of a relatively benign comment by me on some extreme right-wing nonsense he’d posted, he unfriended me. I asked his kid brother the classic rhetorical question: WTF? Kid brother responded, “My brother can’t handle being told that he might be wrong. He wants affirmation, not debate.”

    As of late, I’ve tried with mixed success to keep the political stuff to a minimum on FB and treat it more as a tool for keeping up with family and friends.

  9. Avatar Candace C says:

    Doug, that’s your analogy? You’re equating you blowing off steam to your tax advisor to the president of the United States blowing off steam in the form of telling his advisors to do things they clearly thought were illegal and thus didn’t follow through with his requests? The president of the United States. Wow. I agree with Matt, impressive mental gymnastics.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Yes it is… It’s a good anology. Again, for 3 years now I’ve been hearing how Trump is some kind of dictator. A dictator wouldn’t allow his underlings to ignore his orders. Trump was justifiably upset about these allegations. Yes, he was blowing off steam. Why didn’t he force the firings? How can you obstruct justice if nothing was obstructed?

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      The other thing is Candace… nobody is talking about the Russian meddling in our elections. THAT is the real issue that should concern everyone. If you are obsessed about Trump. Find a candidate that can beat him. You have at least 20 to pick from.

      • Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

        Doug, your guy eagerly benefitted from Russian interference. He lifted Russian sanctions, praised the Russian dictator, basically kissed Putin’s ring.

        We ARE outraged about Russian meddling and we are concerned about it! It put your guy in power! If that’s a source of pride for you…well done.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Trump had been much tougher on Russia than Obama ever was or Clinton would have been. When Obama said wait until I’m reelected and I’ll have more flexibility..was that kissing Putin’s ring? Trump bombed Syria, armed the Ukraine rebels which both pissed off Putin. He ordered the shuttering of consulates…and I could go on and on

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          “…your guy eagerly benefitted from Russian interference” I wouldn’t call him my guy, I didn’t vote for him. What was the purpose of the meddling? Nobody thought Trump had a chance to win. On voting day, Clinton had a better than 90% chance of winning. The purpose of the meddling was to try and damage a Clinton presidency. Putin hated Clinton.

          • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

            I think it’s important to ask the question: Why does Putin hate Clinton? In your previous post, you mentioned that Trump has been tougher on Russia than Clinton ever would have been. If that was true, why would Putin’s govt work so hard to try to do everything they could to harm Clinton’s campaign? People are definitely talking about Russians interfering in our election, but I think the most important thing people need to be talking about is why.

  10. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thanks for the great article Val. I’ll start on the Mueller report right away. By the way, if you haven’t read James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty”, do. I have boundless admiration for people who value honesty and integrity above the lure of personal gain.

  11. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Again I’m reminded that Daniel Webster said, “What you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say!” And I agree that we as a nation should be outraged and doing more to guard against outside meddling in our voting system. THAT is where the focus needs to be.

  12. Avatar Candace C says:

    Doug, I don’t see where I said I was obsessed with Trump but if that’s your takeaway from me challenging your analogy, ok I guess. I’m not. Also, I do have my eye on a couple of candidates out of the 20 running.

  13. Avatar Carla Clark says:

    I have rolled up my FB account. Too much posting of really stupid memes that these people don’t seem to realize originate in some Russian troll factory. Why would would they? They don’t take in any source of news that has journalistic standards. That would be the “lame stream media”. Since they are also family members, it’s easier to ditch the whole thing. Maybe I’ll spend the time saved by reading the Mueller report.

  14. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    And then there’s this… (Mueller’s letter to Barr claiming that the Attorney General’s summary failed to fully capture the actual conclusions of Mueller’s investigation.) I feel like it really justifies why I felt like I had to read the report myself to draw my own conclusions, because everybody has their own spin on it. Glad the author finally got to speak for himself. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_bcq0WcWuxWNWVmb291QUpBQkViN2dhRW84a2U4WDVLNmQw/view