My father, once a skinny Jewish kid growing up in Peekskill, NY, was a lifelong Detroit Tiger fan. That’s because when he was a boy the Tigers had a big, slugging first baseman named Hank Greenberg. Greenberg was a large, powerful Jew who hit home runs like Babe Ruth, one season almost breaking Ruth’s record. Jews reportedly went into shock when the 6’3″ athlete ducked into Yom Kippur services in Detroit. I was surprised to see, after my father died, that his 1941 Peekskill High School yearbook, under a picture of my father’s thin, bespectacled face, had printed his name as Irving “Hank” Widem. I always knew he’d idolized Greenberg, I never knew he’d gone by that name in High School.
Babe Ruth was by far the greatest Major League baseball player ever. As a pitcher he was among the best to ever play the game, though he is famous for his batting. Before switching to full-time right fielder and setter of mind boggling home run records (he famously hit more home runs by himself, a couple of seasons, than other full teams hit), he also set pitching records that stood for decades. As a home run hitter, there was really nobody to compare to him (if he’d been up as many times as Hank Aaron, or asterisk Barry Bonds, he’d have hit hundreds more home runs), and the guy hit .342 for his career (tied for sixth highest average among modern players).
When my father was fourteen, a decade after Ruth set the 60 home runs in a season record that would last 34 years, Hank Greenberg hit 58 in a season. I suspect anti-semitism probably played a role in Greenberg getting nothing to hit the last few weeks of that season, when he could have hit home runs 59 and 60, but, if so, that is not something that should be taught in American classrooms (as it would only serve to undermine American Exceptionalism and make beleaguered white Christian patriots feel bad…).
Maybe the most impressive number Babe Ruth left behind was his lifetime slugging percentage of .690. Slugging percentage measures how well a player hits for power, how many extra base hits he gets. Ruth averaged that gaudy number, over his long career. For comparison, superstars Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, two great Hall of Fame sluggers, had career slugging percentages of .5568 and .5575. When a current player is red hot, hitting home runs in bunches, his slugging percentage may approach Ruth’s lifetime average for a time, but by the end of the season it will almost always be below .600. Many modern-day sluggers in the Hall of Fame never approached Ruth’s .690 average slugging percentage in even a single season.
Here is the all-time slugging percentage list. You can cross Turkey, Mule and Oscar off the list (they must have had relatively short, otherwise unremarkable careers, as far as I know — OK, I never heard of ’em, he said, hurriedly and ignorantly ) and check out the six major leaguers in history, who have slugged at least .600 for their careers.
To put that in perspective, five Hall of Famers, Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, Foxx and Greenberg have had lifetime slugging percentages of .600 or more. (Eight, if you include the other three hall of famers, which you should, see FN 1)
* Barry Bonds, is the sixth to do it for a long major league career, (ninth overall) and he had some out of the world slugging percentages in his older years .863 when he was 36 (higher than Ruth’s best one season slugging percentage), .799 when he was 37, .749 at 38 and .812 at 39, after he went on his special asterisk fitness regime. Without those final few superhuman seasons, including the 73 home run season, when he was at an age most baseball players are slowing down, he would have been under .600 for his career. For those who like stats, here are the remarkable numbers Bonds put up for his career.
My bad, for being in a hurry when I wrote and posted this, not spending a few minutes doing easy computer research and instead talking through my ass.
Suttles, Stearnes and Charleston were three superstars of the Negro Leagues, from the racist decades before Major League Baseball became racially integrated. All three are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, inducted decades after each of their deaths, posthumously honored among baseball’s immortals, as they say.
Mule Suttles was a power-hitting first baseman in the Negro Leagues from 1923-1944.
Turkey Stearnes was a five-tool centerfielder who played in the Negro Leagues from 1923-40.
Oscar Charleston, another slugging centerfielder from the Negro Leagues played from 1915-1941.
I would like to be able to think about other things, write about things I love, things that cause me wonder — like the mischievous, versatile diminished chord — but most days, living in Berlin 1932, when 39% of my countrymen believe anything their leader tells them, the Bizzaro world where the “Big Lie” is the one told by people who claim the former president is lying about having won the 2020 election in a landslide, I’m transfixed by the steady stream of revelations of every horror one would expect at a historically perilous moment like this one. Trump is the US manifestation of the “autocratic” (fascist) monster that is rearing its deadly, racist, nationalistic head worldwide, in Poland, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Russia, the Philippines, India and so forth. If this country is to be any kind of bulwark against autocracy, our Department of Justice has a lot of work to do, and not much time to do it.
Every day there is more evidence of the depraved indifference, and cowardly cynicism, of one of our two major political parties. They are concerned only with consolidating power and making the country a minority run one-party state. The leaders of the other narrow majority party (though they represent a sizable majority of voters) do not show resolute courage very often, either. We have constant new proofs of the reality TV superstar former president’s corruption, megalomania and destructiveness. Every day, of course, we wait for a moment of possible accountability for past crimes. A reckoning for these crimes is the only way to avoid the clear and present danger the out-of-control violence stoking superstar presents.
Here is the latest, a trove of insane post-election emails from Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff, a former Tea Party Congressman and a founder of the Freedom Caucus, trying to get the acting Attorney General, the man who headed the DOJ briefly (after even Trump gunsel Bill Barr jumped off the sinking ship with other survival-oriented rats) to file a conspiracy- based Supreme Court lawsuit to try to overturn the election results. The Washington Post editorial:
MANY REPUBLICANS want the nation to ignore and forget President Donald Trump’s poisonous final months in office — the most dangerous moment in modern presidential history, orchestrated by the man to whom the GOP still swears allegiance. Yet the country must not forget how close it came to a full-blown constitutional crisis, or worse. Tuesday brought another reminder that, but for the principled resistance of some key officials, the consequences could have been disastrous.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Tuesday releasedemails showing that the White House waged a behind-the-scenes effort to enlist the Justice Department in its crusade to advance Mr. Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. On Dec. 14, 10 days before Jeffrey Rosen took over as acting attorney general, Mr. Trump’s assistant emailed Mr. Rosen, asserting that Dominion Voting Systems machines in Michigan were intentionally fixed and pointing to a debunked analysis showing what “the machines can and did do to move votes.” The email declared, “We believe it has happened everywhere.”
Later that month, Mr. Trump’s assistant sent Mr. Rosen a brief that the president apparently wanted the Justice Department to submit to the Supreme Court. The draft mirrored the empty arguments that the state of Texas made to the court before the justices dismissed the state’s lawsuit. Piling on the pressure, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also dispatched an email asking Mr. Rosen to examine allegations of voter fraud in Georgia. A day later, Mr. Meadows apparently forwarded Mr. Rosen a video alleging that Italians used satellites to manipulate voting equipment. These were just some of the preposterous White House emails claiming fraud in arguably the most secure presidential election ever.
To his credit, Mr. Rosen rebuffed the White House’s entreaties to deploy the Justice Department’s vast powers on behalf of Mr. Trump’s lie, adding his name to the roster of honorable state and federal officials who showed fidelity to truth and duty at that crucial moment. Some have paid with their jobs. Republicans committed to the “big lie” are gunning to replace others, including those with vote-counting responsibilities. If Mr. Trump or another candidate again presses false fraud claims, many Republican officials may find it more difficult to resist the pressure to back the lie — or, indeed, may eagerly participate in advancing it.
Given Mr. Trump’s reckless actions after losing the 2020 vote, and the violence they spurred, the newly released emails are unsurprising. But consider that fact for a moment: It is unsurprising that the president of the United States leaned on the Justice Department to help him try to steal an election. The country cannot forget that Mr. Trump betrayed his oath, that most Republican officeholders remain loyal to him nonetheless — and that it could be worse next time.
The dynamic 47 year-old extremist freshman member of Congress made a ridiculous and hateful comparison last month between officials who mandate the wearing of masks during an infectious airborne pandemic and the Nazi perpetrators of “The Holocaust” who forced Jews to wear “gold stars”. Mask wearing mandates, in her opinion, are the same as what the Nazis did when they forced Jews to wear stars and operated death camps where millions were killed (and the passive voice used).
Asked about her headline grabbing comment afterwards, she did what her savvy fundraising type always does, she “doubled down” to delight her contrarian base. Making someone wear a paper mask is the same as Hitler himself forcing you to wear a gold star, gassing you and shoving your corpse into an oven, so there! Fortunately for her, the party she aspires to lead is very tolerant of this kind of arguable hate speech, the First Amendment (for their speech) is almost as sacred to them as the Second Amendment.
A few weeks later, for some reason, she visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. It is a moving exhibit, as you walk from room to room, floor to floor, you experience the various stages of the mass murder over the course of those horrific final Hitler years. First you are put in a special category, your civil rights stripped away, state sanctioned violence increases. Then you lose your citizenship and are stateless, without the protection of any national government. Then you’re forced to move into crowded disease infested ghettos. Eventually they put you into overstuffed cattle cars and ship you East, where, if you don’t die during the brutal trip, you will either be worked to death or immediately gassed.
Sekhnet and I will never forget the room full of shoes and the mountain of human hair shorn from victims and put to all sorts of uses by the industrious Nazi state. There is a large photo of a woman on the wall, a victim of the Nazis, with a beautiful soulful face, one of her dark eyes not quite aligned with the other. Her face is particularly haunting, staring sightlessly over this room of shoes and hair. The freshman Congresswoman from Georgia was apparently also moved by her walk through the museum.
Then she stepped in front of the cameras to apologize for making the mistaken comparison between mask mandates and Hitler’s insane mass murder project (and doubling down on that comparison, one assumes).
Not easy, to admit being wrong, to express sorrow for a public statement. Many people find it almost impossible to do this, even in their personal lives. Many in her party have never done it, will never do it. Rather than being seen as a sign of humility and sensitivity, apologizing is seen in our culture as an admission of weakness and the cultural reflex against admitting fault is strong. So, you’ve got to hand it to her, she summoned the integrity to admit she was wrong, acknowledge that there really was a deliberate, mechanized Nazi mass murder of millions (contrary to the doubts many of her supporters might have about it) and that perpetrating the Holocaust was much worse than forcing people to wear masks in crowded public places to slow the spread of a highly infectious disease. It had been a mistake, she said, to compare the two things.
That said, the Democrats, in her opinion, are still acting like a bunch of Nazis, with their dangerous “national socialism,” but she was wrong to compare mask mandates to that terrible event that was the crowning glory of the Nazi regime.
Still, you know how unforgiving fucking liberals are. There’s no satisfying some of these loser bastards. Here’s Stephen Colbert:
I try to be fair, so here is the noxious Nazi piece of shit’s apology for her mistake, as edited by Forbes (you won’t see her smiling assurance that Democrats are still Nazis — oh, that doubling down was in response to a reporter’s smart-ass question, after she delivered her heartfelt written apology):
Here is the Washington Post’s take on her learned remarks about the party of powerful Jewish pedophile cannibal Satanists being Nazis:
Despite the name, the Nazi party was not a socialist party; it was a right-wing, ultranationalist party. Even so, Greene told attendees at the rally in May: “You know, Nazis were the National Socialist Party. Just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.”
Asked Monday about that statement, Greene declined to disavow it and instead renewed her criticism of Democrats.
“You know, socialism is extremely dangerous, and so is communism,” she told reporters. “And anytime a government moves into policies where there’s more control and there’s freedoms taken away, yes, that’s a danger for everyone. And I think that’s something that we should all be wary of. … I’ll never stop saying we have to save America and stop socialism.”
It is certainly frustrating waiting for justice to be applied to our former (and future, and present, if you ask him) president. We are a nation of laws, we are told, and most laws are absolute for most of us. Obstruction of justice, which the law-is-for-chumps Mr. Trump did at virtually every turn, is a federal crime that he needs to be prosecuted for and convicted of.
I’m not sure what is taking the Fulton County DA so long about prosecuting the former president for his clear violation of Georgia criminal law. If you listen to the tape of Trump’s 18th post-election call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, with the Georgia law in front of you, it is hard to imagine how any lawyer would be able to defend Trump against the charge that he committed every illegal act listed in the law in his attempt to influence election results, using threats, cajoling, joking, personal appeals to convince the fellas to find him a lousy, stinkin’ 11,780 votes, one more than needed, to give him the state. The search “status of Fulton County, Georgia criminal case against Trump update” brings up March 2021 “updates”, as does every related search. Nothing since then. WTF, y’all?
Since childhood, Trump has never been held accountable for anything, which is why he behaves the way he does. He has never paid a price for anything that wasn’t immediately forgiven or reimbursed by somebody else. His numerous bankruptcies, for incompetent management of a string of business ventures, did not harm his gold-plated luxury brand or his personal fortune. The tax avoidance schemes of his father, of Trump himself, though brazen, are perhaps typical of plans used by the super-wealthy to avoid the payment of taxes. There may be nothing criminal about what appears to be a long history of Trump tax fraud. There may be tax-related criminal charges coming, assuming the Manhattan DA, who let Trump and his children off for their apparent fraud in connection with the Trump SoHo a few years back, makes good on getting an indictment and conviction this time.
We are a nation of laws, and you violate them at your own risk. I know that I am paying about as much in penalties as Trump paid to the IRS in total tax for 2017. I’m being punished for being a year late filing my 2019 taxes. The fine, about the amount of tax I owed (and paid) is on an income perhaps one hundredth of what the former president’s was. Unlike Trump, I have no appeal of that fine under the law. Interest is being added for every day I am late paying the full amount. I can argue all I want, I just have to pay the outrageous, disproportionate (it’s as large as the tax bill I paid — a 100% penalty rate) non-negotiable fine. Fair or not, it’s my punishment for breaking the law and an indelible lesson to me going forward. It is a mistake I don’t plan to make again.
As for Trump, since he never learned a lesson like this, he knows as much now as when he was an out of control five year-old bullying his mom.
Here are some selections from the Boston Globe series making the case that we cannot ensure democracy going forward unless we prosecute our norm, rule and law busting former president (who claims to still actually be the president, Biden is a cheating liar, as illegitimate as the Birther President, Biden’s radical pal, ask any of the tens of millions of the base who believe this). The short Boston Globe series approaches the corruption and irregularity of the troubling Trump presidency from several angles, asking some basic questions along the way.
Is a president, deep in debt ($400,000,000 of it coming due very soon, from Mr. Trump) who continues to operate his businesses (having his sons run them), while fighting to hide all financial records, an obvious target for crafty foreign manipulators to take advantage of? The Globe gives a few examples:
Take Saudi Arabia’s payments to the Trump Hotel, which totaled $270,000 between November 2016 and February 2017. Those payments came just a few months prior to Trump finalizing one of the largest arms deals in US history with the kingdom. He also later went on to protect the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, after the brutal killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “I saved his ass,” Trump bragged to the journalist Bob Woodward, in reference to bin Salman. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.”
To avoid these kinds of conflicts of interest (Saudi Arabia is also a longtime tenant in Trump Tower) the Globe advocates for two laws (you listening, Kyrsten? Joe? Dianne Feinstein? ). One is a law requiring a sitting president to divest from all of her businesses when taking office (generally done, but not by Trump). The other is the mandatory production of tax returns for all candidates for the presidency (another tradition Trump ignored). Pretending to be under audit for five years would no longer be a lawful excuse for a presidential candidate refusing to produce tax returns. The tax returns would show who the candidate got paid by, who he owes money to and whether it is likely he is a crook.
Nepotism, a mark of autocracy and monarchy everywhere, while technically illegal for US government appointees, arguably does not apply to appointments by the president and vice president. It can be accomplished if one finesses the law a little, for example, by not paying wealthy appointees a salary for their public service, even as that service may also enrich them in many other ways, as Ivanka and Jared’s experience as public servants illustrate. Loss of salary is the current penalty for violating the anti-nepotism law, so if you forgo a salary to make a lot more money while in office, well… nobody’s business, under our current laws. The reason for a stronger anti-nepotism law is clear.
That distrust [of officials appointed by nepotism] would be justified. Filling up key government posts with close relatives of the president, for example, will probably result in a staff that’s more loyal to the president than they are to government institutions, or even to democracy itself. Nepotism is also unlikely to produce the most competent government; Kushner, for example, was profoundly unqualified for his wide-ranging role, and the American people paid the price when he took a leading role in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response. . .
. . . When Trump hired Kushner, some legal scholars argued that the president does not have to abide by the federal anti-nepotism statute. That’s why, in order to ensure that this degree of corruption does not take place, Congress should pass a bill to make explicit that the president cannot appoint a relative to any official government post, even if they forgo a salary. In the event that a president’s relative is widely perceived to be the best qualified for a certain role, that appointment should require a waiver from Congress so that the candidate can be evaluated on their merits. Appointments of family members should be the exception, not the norm.
Obstruction of Justice while in office, anyone?Protected, as Mueller concluded, by an Office of Legal Counsel memo, from the days of Nixon, that advises the DOJ against indicting a sitting president for any crime. So, even if you can’t exonerate him in the face of an impressive amount of evidence, you also cannot accuse him of obstruction either, since that would be unfair to the guy who wouldn’t be able to defend himself until out of office. What’s a law-abiding Boy Scout Special Counsel to do?
Right out of the gate, Donald Trump appeared to break the law and brazenly admit it to the entire nation — not with remorse but with pride and conviction. Within four months of being sworn in, Trump fired FBI director James Comey, which the White House insisted was a decision rooted in Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. But Trump rebuffed his Department of Justice’s line of reasoning in a television interview with NBC, saying that he was planning on firing Comey because of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. . .
. . . It might sound reasonable to say that indicting a sitting president could pose political problems — and potential national security risks — because a criminal trial would effectively incapacitate a president. But an indictment does not necessarily mean that the president has to sit through a criminal trial. That could always be postponed until a president leaves office. In that 1973 memo, the rationale for not indicting a sitting president, even if all proceedings are deferred until they are out of office, rests merely on the perceived damage the image of the office of the president might endure. “The spectacle of an indicted president still trying to serve as chief executive boggles the imagination,” the memo said.
A greater spectacle, however, is a reckless, authoritarian president who is seen on the world stage bending the rule of law to his will. That’s why presidents should be indicted for crimes that they commit, with their trials postponed to when they leave office. Had Mueller been able to operate under a guideline that allowed for Trump’s indictment, the former president probably would have faced legal accountability for his early acts of obstruction of justice. That, on its own, could have deterred him from obstructing justice later in his presidency, as he did during his first impeachment inquiry.
So while presidents should not, for logistical reasons, be required to be a part of a criminal trial while in office, they should not be immune from indictments. Because until presidents can be indicted, they will always be, by definition, above the law.
Corrupt presidential pardons given as part of a quid pro quo, a dangled pardon in exchange for lying to protect the president from criminal or civil liability, need to be overturned, and explicitly outlawed. The pardon power has generally been used to correct injustices, Trump wielded his pardon power in a characteristically “transactional” way, arguably to obstruct justice in several famous cases (Stone, Manafort, Flynn, Bannon, etc.).
But Donald Trump has proved that a president can use his pardon power not as a corrective for injustice but in exchange for political and personal favors — or even as a tool of coercion or manipulation — and get away with it. In stark contrast to his immediate predecessor, Trump granted clemency to only 237 people. And though some of those acts of clemency included commuting unjustly long sentences for minor offenses, over 100 of them, according to the Lawfare Blog, were granted to people who either had personal connections with the former president or advanced his political cause. Trump was hardly the first president to use his pardon power nefariously, but his blatantly corrupt use of it should be a wake-up call to lawmakers of both major parties that executive clemency must be reformed to limit its potential for abuse.
Boston sucks! Boston sucks!
The senior senator from California, on why she sees no need to fix the filibuster rule:
“If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it,” she told Forbes on Wednesday. “But I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.”
“Moderate” Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema recently gave her rationale for opposing any change to the crippling filibuster rule, even a carve out for voting rights. She claims that senators need to change their behavior, not make any adjustment to the parliamentary rule, shamelessly abused by filibuster king Mitch McConnell, that allows 35 senators, or even one, to block debate (no debate!) on any bill they, or their big donors, don’t like.
This line about a sorely needed change of heart apparently echoes her predecessor Barry Goldwater, who famously said, in opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act
“This is fundamentally a matter of the heart. The problems of discrimination can never be cured by laws alone.” Or as he told a crowd later: “You cannot pass a law that will make me like you or you like me. This is something that can happen only in our hearts.”
Here is what Martin Luther King, Jr. said to that sensible “laws can’t change hearts” shit:
“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.”
Pretty important, also. The filibuster was used for more than a century to block every attempt to make lynching a federal crime . Lynching, proponents of the status quo argued, was a matter of States’ Rights, something for each local jurisdiction to lawfully decide according to its customs, like common murder, divorce, most other laws. It was left up to a state like Texas (number three in lynchings, US leader in executions since 1976 with 563), or Mississippi (leader in lynchings with 583 documented lynchings), to decide what to do when some goddamn trouble maker/rapist who deserved to die was strung up by righteous patriots as an example to other dangerous raping rabble rousers to keep their damned radical beliefs to themselves. Hell, isn’t lynching one dangerous raping maniac preferable to mass murder of the rapist’s whole raping community?
A federal anti-lynching law may not have changed what was in people’s hearts but it would have allowed a jury that was not composed of local lynching supporters, and lynching tolerant local judges (some of them members of groups like the Ku Klux Klan), to apply a uniform law and decide any case involving the unfortunate death of somebody who, in the considered opinion of the unrepentant murderers, and local authorities, was in desperate need of a hard lesson.
So, yes, Kyrsten, laws cannot change hearts, and you also cannot legislate morality. The best legislators can do is make and enforce laws against things like lynching, defying Congressional subpoenas, lying under oath during a confirmation hearing (whether or not the lies are “material”) and protecting democratic values like universal adult suffrage, non-partisan counting of votes, and so forth.
In the absence of that kind of national consensus about basic right and wrong, good luck changing behavior — especially when behavior to obstruct all debate, including violent behavior, is rewarded by dark money donors and cheering mobs of angry citizens, ready for further orders from their outraged leader.
I’ll continue my presidency in August, assholes
As Adam Jentleson writes in his invaluable 2020 book, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of Democracy: “The filibuster has mainly served to empower a minority of predominantly white conservatives to override our democratic system when they found themselves outnumbered.” He notes that in the almost nine decades between Reconstruction’s end and 1964, “the only bills that were stopped by filibusters were civil rights bills.” A bipartisan team of opponents, but mainly Southern Democrats, filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for roughly two months before it ultimately passed. (In those days, senators actually had to speak and hold the floor in order to filibuster; now they just have to vote to block debate.)
When Adam Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee began investigating the July 25, 2019 Perfect Call between Trump and new Ukrainian president Zelensky (not long after Mueller wrapped up his investigation into the tangled relationships between the Trump campaign and strongman Vladimir Putin, and the obstruction thing), Trump targeted Schiff for personal abuse.
He told an interviewer that Schiff was insane. “I think he is a maniac, I think Adam Schiff is a deranged human being. I think he grew up with a complex, for lots of reasons that are obvious. I think he’s a very sick man.”
He might also have mentioned that Schiff is paranoid, he thinks the president has singled him out for an open-ended dirt gathering investigation, that the FBI is spying on him, his staff and his family. Of course, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the president hasn’t ordered the FBI to spy on you, your staff and your family. It turns out to have been no fantasy, the Trump DOJ was spying on Schiff, and others, including Trump’s own White House counsel.
How the gag orders to the companies who provided the data the FBI used in their snooping into these lives did not expire until years after the illegal, fruitless investigations closed, is another one of those things US lawmakers need to fix. When a baseless secret government investigation is over, the gag order should expire with it.
The communist sympathizers on MSNBC never missed a chance to create a snarky headline at President Trump’s expense. They named one of their segments, in the lead up to Trump’s first impeachment:
A perfect illustration of why Trump is so disdainful of the “free press”. Enemies of the best people, you understand, a bunch of rats releasing sensitive information that could hurt these very fine people. The next thing you’ll have these sick, dangerous terrorists inciting people to demand so-called democracy.
By the way, speaking of releasing sensitive information, fifty years ago this week the New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers. The disclosure of the secret information, hidden from the public and lied about by US president Lyndon Johnson, was the beginning of the end of the long, bloody military project we call the Vietnam War. For those too young to remember:
The Pentagon Papers, officially titled Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study; they were first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of The New York Times in 1971. A 1996 article in The New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress.”
The Pentagon Papers revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scope of its actions in the Vietnam War with coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks—none of which were reported in the mainstream media. For his disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property; charges were later dismissed, after prosecutors investigating the Watergate scandal discovered that the staff members in the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg.
In June 2011, the documents forming the Pentagon Papers were declassified and publicly released.
In a six part series, which any American (or anyone else) can read without encountering a pay wall (Mexicans will pay for the paywall…) the Boston Globe editorial board makes a clear, overwhelmingly strong case for the need to prosecute the former president if we are to save American democracy.
As simpering Trump toady Lindsey Graham put it, after voting to acquit the commander-in-chief who’d incited a violent attack on the Capitol, doubling down on his desperate efforts to prevent the peaceful transition of power (one of his last big crimes in office) “if you believe he committed a crime, he can be prosecuted like any other citizen.” Indeed.
If rich parents pay a very young kid $200,000 a year (from1948-58, before he got a substantial raise), he is a millionaire before he hits puberty. If he remains a bully in adolescence, you send him to military academy, where, to boost his low self-esteem, you visit every weekend with an age appropriate cute rented girl, a model. He poses for photos with these adorable models and is seen by his peers as a ladies’ man. He excels at making his bed and disciplining younger cadets, he looks good in his uniform.
As a young adult you put him in charge of the highly lucrative family business. He soon branches out to running his own other businesses as well. No matter how many times he fails, by taking stupid risks, you bail him out. Teach him how to use the bankruptcy code to preserve his personal wealth each time he dissolves a failed business venture.
It becomes apparent that he will never be satisfied just to be a rich celebrity playboy with his amazing sex life in the tabloids every day, but that is a start. He makes important contacts in tabloid world, including a powerful man named Pecker. He is introduced to important political contacts and he donates money to them, tax deductible donations.
He is eventually seen as a “useful idiot” to extremely wealthy right wing extremists, a block of religious extremists of a certain stripe, a once powerful foreign adversary led by an autocratic former spook skilled in dirty tricks. Aided by a cabal of domestic political dirty tricksters (two of whom he will later pardon for felonies committed in his name) and the profit-hungry mass media (he is a ratings goldmine), he becomes the GOP candidate for president.
He is cheered by millions of tabloid readers, every bigot in the country, as well as every white person with a grievance, tens of millions of whom vote for him. He is also supported by many of America’s wealthiest, to whom he has promised (and will deliver) a huge tax windfall worth many billions of dollars. With the help of the media (everyone loves a star), a huge, skillfully targeted Russian social media campaign enriching America’s richest 32 year-old entrepreneur, and strategic payments to silence two women he had extramarital affairs with, he becomes the 45th US president by a slim, beautifully engineered Electoral College margin.
But he’s the same person he always was– low self-esteem, an angry bully, a person with no idea how to actually run a business (the family business has always been a closely held dictatorship) a man with childishly weak impulse control who has famously never compromised, not once, ever. The times he did have to settle some of his thousands of lawsuits, papers were signed saying he didn’t compromise. The term “doubling down,” a desperate gambling move to appear confident, becomes part of normal American English. He demands loyalty, and when he doesn’t get it, he lashes out, takes revenge. He’s angry, vindictive and increasingly delusional.
When he loses his re-election bid, he manages to convince tens of millions of people, not defaming any particular religion, that wealthy Jew Cannibal Pedophile Satanists have stolen the election from him, in league with America hating Muslim-American terrorists, dead Mexican rapists, angry Black terrorists (with irrational anger at a system that gives them everything), a few million Asian disease spreaders (causing a pandemic to support the usurper Biden), vicious anti-fascist doom squads laying waste to American cities (out of an irrational hatred of fascists), traitorous Republican state officials, Socialists, Communists, Reds, Anarchists (entire illegal jurisdictions of them!) enraged homosexual and environmental extremist terrorists and so on.
Angry people, we note, will believe anything that supports their rage.
Oh, during the lead up to his first impeachment he was in a rage about the sick, dangerous enemies who were arrayed against him. Daily he’d vent about the maniacs out to get him, simply because he was the greatest genius ever to be the American president. One day he said this:
Two years later we find out he ordered the Department of Justice to investigate Representatives Schiff, Eric Swalwell, their staffs, and their families. The DOJ issued subpoenas, with gag orders to the subpoenaed companies (Apple and Microsoft), to conduct a long “leak” investigation looking to turn up dirt to discredit these vicious enemies of America’s greatest president. Apparently they didn’t turn up anything useful, and this illegal misuse of the government to hunt the president’s enemies was hidden, but not that well. Now it is public knowledge, among about 61% of the population.
Still, the disclosure that agents secretly collected data of a sitting White House counsel is striking as it comes amid a political backlash to revelations about Trump-era seizures of data of reporters and Democrats in Congress for leak investigations. The president’s top lawyer is also a chief point of contact between the White House and the Justice Department.
The question before us all now is how strenuously will Attorney General Merrick Garland defend America’s greatest former, and future, president against these scurrilous charges that he innocently (and within the scope of his duties) used the FBI to engage in numerous personal witch-hunt fishing expeditions against a small handful of his many nefarious enemies?
Let us all remember the great man’s pronouncement, via twitter, the day after he was completely exonerated of any and all wrongdoing by the “conflicted” partisan traitor Robert Mueller III.
 from that lying article, about the timing of the DOJ subpoena of McGahn:
Because Mr. McGahn had been the top lawyer for the Trump campaign in 2016, it is possible that at some earlier point he had been among those in contact with someone whose account the Mueller team was scrutinizing in early 2018.
Notably, Mr. Manafort had been hit with new fraud charges unsealed the day before the subpoena. Subsequent developmentsrevealed that Mr. Mueller’s investigators were closely scrutinizing some of his communications accounts in the days that followed.
Another roughly concurrent event was that around that time, Mr. Trump had become angry at Mr. McGahn over a matter related to the Russia investigation, and that included a leak.
In late January 2018, The New York Times had reported, based on confidential sourcing, that Mr. Trump had ordered Mr. McGahn the previous June to have the Justice Department remove Mr. Mueller, but Mr. McGahn had refused to do so and threatened to resign. The Washington Post confirmed that account soon after in a follow-up article.
The Mueller report, and Mr. McGahn himself in private testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this month, described Mr. Trump’s anger at Mr. McGahn after the Times article, including trying to get him to make a statement falsely denying it. Mr. Trump told aides that Mr. McGahn was a “liar” and a “leaker,” according to former Trump administration officials. In his testimony, Mr. McGahn said that he had been a source for The Post’s follow-up to clarify a nuance — to whom he had conveyed his intentions to resign — but he had not been a source for the original Times article.
NOTE: McGahn was a liar, according to Mr. Trump, because he refused to memorialize the lie that Mr. Trump had never asked McGahn to do the thing McGahn refused to do, and in the process of that refusal becoming public, had made Mr. Trump look like a liar. Which, of course, would make McGahn a complete fucking liar, as well as a leaker, and, of course, he probably lied about the extent of his leak to the enemy press. Hence, the subpoenas.
FURTHER NOTE: just because Trump had the investigation into his own White House counsel started the day he learned that Mueller brought new fraud charges against his campaign’s point man with Putin (via Konstantin Kilimnik), Paul Manafort, who lied repeatedly to Mueller, is no reason to add these leaked leak investigations to the long list of Mr. Trump’s alleged “pattern and practice” of using the DOJ in the course of “obstructing” justice, or whatever you want to call the crazy five year conspiracy by sick and dangerous traitors to bring our greatest American to his knees, something that will never happen.
Don McGahn, Trump’s first White House lawyer, is a dedicated conservative who was largely responsible for the selection and lifetime appointments of Messrs Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. After Trump fired FBI director Comey, for refusing to commit to personal loyalty to the president and for not dropping the “Flynn Thing” (Mike Flynn’s illegal contacts with Russia that he lied about), the DOJ appointed a Special Counsel to investigate numerous connections between the Trump campaign and Russia and Trump’s suspicious loyalty to Vladimir Putin, a foreign leader who had openly (and secretly) helped Trump win the “close” election of 2016.
During his famous Oval Office reaction to the news of Robert Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel, Trump said “this is the end of my presidency, I’m fucked!” according to sworn witnesses. You can look it up.Trump was outraged at this intrusion on to his unlimited executive powers. Partisan witch hunt was a common cry, conducted by “sick and dangerous individuals” who he would punish when the time was right. After a moment of self-pity Trump exploded at his team for letting this witch hunt start in the first place, and his vendetta against the loyal, but not loyal enough, Jeff Sessions began in earnest.
Members of Trump’s inner circle lied to Mueller’s investigators, in exchange for the promise of a pardon from the big guy, which they got. Mueller found 140 instances of coordination, working together, direct communication, collusion, between members of Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, a foreign actor who worked tirelessly to swing the election to Trump. Mueller found there was no doubt of the ongoing collusion, which is not a legal term, but that there was “insufficient evidence” of a criminal conspiracy. Mueller also noted evidence had been withheld and numerous witnesses had lied to him. Hence Barr’s finding of “no collusion” and the announcement that Mueller had “exonerated” Trump of all wrong-doing.
When Mueller started digging he encountered so much lying from Trump’s people, the president’s refusal to answer even written questions his lawyers had agreed to have him answer, defiance of every subpoena and numerous other maneuvers to avoid production of evidence that he began to investigate Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice. One of the ten instances Mueller gave to illustrate what appeared to have been a consistent pattern of obstruction (a substantial pattern that did not allow Mueller to exonerate Trump, even if he also couldn’t directly accuse him of — per DOJ memo about accusing a sitting president of a crime — Mueller took that extra step– if he can’t be prosecuted, it’s unfair to accuse him) involved White House counsel Don McGahn.
At one point Trump asked McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn advised the president that firing the Special Counsel investigating obstruction of justice would look bad, could bite him hard. As McGahn told Mueller’s investigators, he’d refused to fire Mueller, consulted his own lawyer, packed up his office and wrote a letter of resignation to Trump. Trump didn’t accept McGahn’s resignation, instead asking him to write a memo stating that they had never discussed firing Mueller. McGahn revealed all this, under oath, to Mueller’s investigators.
When Congress sent McGahn a subpoena to appear before a committee looking into impeaching Trump, McGahn filed a federal suit seeking a ruling on whether Congress had the right to subpoena him, whether such a subpoena would violate attorney-client privilege and any other defense to giving testimony that he could think of. The suit dragged on for a couple of years, long past both Trump impeachments. The predictable delay prevented McGahn from giving public testimony that could have seriously hurt his demanding, sometimes lawless, former client. While nothing McGahn did was illegal, it certainly fits into Trump’s pattern of doing everything possible to obstruct any investigation into anything he has ever done.
In a nation of angry, divided, freaked out citizens, this McGahn shit is a dead letter, ancient history, irrelevant, Trump already got away with obstruction of justice, and nobody is going to do anything about his incitement to riot, we’ve seen it a hundred times over now — he publicly did many things far worse than asking his lawyer to lie for him and make a written record of the lie.
Moderate Merrick Garland’s DOJ is so far following up on all of Barr’s objections to investigations into Trump’s monkeyshines. No public disclosure of Barr’s lying, falsely classified memo, we appeal the judge’s ruling, no prosecution of Trump and Barr for using teargas, horses and batons against a peaceful protest for Trump’s photo op, we move to dismiss the lawsuit, no penalty for a president defaming a private citizen “during the scope of his duties,” we appeal the denial of our right to substitute ourselves for the former president in this lawsuit according to federal law.
I may be the only person, certain the only poor bastard I know, who is wondering “what the fuck?!” as I read the words from the McGahn transcript “although this interview is not under oath” you’re still not allowed to lie, you know.
My only hope, I think, is that my head will explode before too much longer. We live in Berlin 1932 and we are watching the principled, decent, reasonable, elected Weimar government let the angry right call all the shots, many of them based on outright, easily demonstrable lies. Alternative facts, driving new laws that could help Trump loyalists overturn the next election, if Americans turn out in large numbers to vote the wrong way again, next time. What could fucking go wrong?
You can say “seig heil!” can’t you you? I know you can.