Nothing Illegal About Being A Racist

Our ever marketing distractor-in-chief Donald J. Trump pooted out some racist tweets about four women in Congress (all “women of color”) the other day.  He wrote that if they hate his America so much they should go back to the corrupt shit holes they came from.   Three of the four would go back to Michigan and the Bronx, but no matter. 

Mitch McConnell and his pragmatic ilk were quick to defend Trump’s racist tweets against those who call the Orange Menace a racist — McConnell pointing out that, in his view, at least one of the president’s targets is an anti-Semite and that there’s a lot of overheated language on both sides.   Lindsay Graham adorably piled on “we all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of Communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country, they’re anti-Semitic, they’re anti-America, they’re Socialists, they’re anti-Semitic, they stand for all the things most Americans disagree with.”  I like the way the proud single white southern man twice makes the claim that they hate Jews.  Tip of the yarmulke to you, Lindsay!

White supremacists love this shit (Trump’s racism, not Graham’s Jew shit, of course), and Trump was no doubt widely applauded by a solid core of his base for taking no shit from these uppity colored bitches.   As take-a-bullet-for-the-Unitary-Executive Bagpiper Bill Barr would be among the first to point out — there is no law against an American being a racist, outside of certain limited laws that proscribe discrimination based on race and national origin.

Like the Fair Housing Act, for example.  Trump’s father took millions in free government money, subsidies and tax abatements, for building affordable housing for middle class workers.  Fred Christ Trump had a reputation for racism — though there’s no proof that his arrest at a Klan rally in 1927 was because he supported their racist, xenophobic views — it was well-known that he wouldn’t rent his apartments to blacks or Hispanics, or to any people not his preferred shade of white.   

There was also no law against this racist practice during the years he had his agents mark the application folders of  colored applicants with a “C” to identify which prospective tenants would be rejected.   A free country, Fred Christ was free to do what he liked with his property, in spite of the millions in tax abatements and subsidies he got from the government to build his middle class housing units, presumably for everybody.

Then there was a new federal law, the Fair Housing Act, enacted to end racist discrimination in housing rentals and sales, that suddenly made Fred Christ Trump’s long practices illegal.  So UNFAIR!   Enter Roy Cohn, rabid public homophobe and promiscuous closeted homosexual (who died of AIDS he claimed to his last breath was cancer), and his $100,000,000 counter-suit for defamation against the Department of Justice.   

Cohn settled the case without obtaining a penny for the Trumps (which would have been impossible — after all, truth– that the Trumps had been discriminating in the rental of housing on the basis of race and national origin– is an absolute defense to defamation in American courts) but  also, significantly without admitting the Trumps did anything wrong, ever.

At the same time the Trumps made no admission that they had been violating the Fair Housing Act,  page after page of the settlement is the Trumps’ agreement to scrupulously abide by the letter and spirit of the law, and to instruct their agents in nondiscrimination, make them take classes, take out newspaper ads for vacancies (stating explicitly that Trump properties followed the Fair Housing Act) and so forth.   The curious can see the entire “no admission of guilt” settlement HERE. [1]

The son of Fred Christ Trump is clearly not qualified to be the president, not by work or life experience, not by temperament, not by intelligence or basic competence in anything but self-promotion.   He has long been a boastful scofflaw, the biggest beneficiary of his father’s nefarious tax avoidance schemes and outright frauds.   

The president continues to obstruct justice, as he had when he fired Comey for not “letting the Flynn thing go” (and had Sessions and Rosenstein write memos outlining why Comey had to be fired, before boasting on TV that he didn’t care about the memos, he was going to fire Comey anyway for this “Trump-Russher thing”) as he had when he ordered White House counsel McGahn to fire Mueller, and then ordered him to write a memorandum saying the president had never ordered him to fire the Special Counsel.  As he did when he held on to the rejected resignation letter from Sessions as leverage against the surprisingly principled (in terms of recusal, anyway) little racist, and lied to his chief of staff about whether he still had the letter.    As he continues to do with his new Roy Cohn, Bagpiper Bill “how dare you call me bagpiper!!” Barr and the assertion of a blanket protective privilege over everyone and everything that might publicly compromise him or call his asserted “exoneration” into question.  

Trump is a racist, no law against that, but, seriously, in 2019, what the fuck?   They argue in Congress whether its an impermissible slander to condemn a president who acts like a racist, a president who strongly denies he’s a racist.

Trump never had a job he had to apply for, since he took over his brutal father’s lucrative housing empire (sold at a great discount after Fred Christ died, against the old man’s wishes that his life’s legacy never be sold).  Trump lost money in every business he ever had, was bailed out by his father time and again, declared bankruptcy more than once.   He lost billions in the course of his failed career as the Artist of the Deal, but then played the world’s biggest winner on a staged “reality” TV show that went on to fascinate millions of viewers.   He’s a compulsive liar, a loser and– it must be said again, a fucking racist troll.

He made racist attacks on many people over the years, particularly women, (his long Birther-in-Chief gig and taking out full page ads calling for the execution of five boys falsely convicted and later exonerated were two of his most famous, though women were not specifically involved) and as president called black NFL players sons of bitches (and their mothers, of course, bitches) but THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF THAT HE EVER CALLED ANYONE A NIGGER!  (no matter how much they deserved it!)

Comedian George Lopez said it best, and most succinctly, “fuck that puto“.

 

[1] an example, from the settlement

For two years after the entry of this Order, defendant shall notify the Open Housing Center of the New York Urban League, 150 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 10003, of every fifth available apartment in each apartment building owned and/or managed by the defendant which has a black tenancy of less than ten percent at least three days prior to placing that apartment on the open market. During this three-day period, the Open Housing Center shall have the opportunity to refer qualified applicants to the defendant for the purpose of renting the apartment. All applicants referred by the Open Housing Center shall provide the defendant or its representative with an appropriate identification which will serve to advise the defendants that such applicant has been referred by the Open Housing Center pursuant to this subsection. After three days if no qualified applicant referred by the Center has filed an application seeking to rent the apartment, the apartment may be placed on the open market to be rented in defendant’s normal business custom without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Telling the story of my father

I started this post a week back, intending to get back to draft two of my account of my father’s life.  I rarely let a post sit unfinished this way, but the shit has been flying off the fan so continuously with this not-non-Nazi president that I haven’t had a moment to reflect.   The distractions with this fellow are wall-to-wall but it’s my own fault that I’m so distracted.  Sekhnet tells me I lack executive function, the power to focus on and complete a task.   

My mind keeps flipping back to the witnesses who said Trump frequently used the forbidden word “nigger” while posing as America’s greatest businessman on a top-rated “reality TV” show.  Every American knows that Trump paid off women he allegedly had sex with, forced them to sign binding nondisclosure agreements.  The incriminating tapes of him from The Apprentice were also purchased, along with silence.   Does anyone doubt this thoroughly racist German-American ever used the word “nigger” to describe “a low IQ, stupid, ugly” person from a “shit hole country”?  Get the fuck out of here.  I wonder what, if anything, would happen if those tapes of the racist Trump honestly being Trump ever came to light.   Speaking the “n-word” (and fuck that f-ing n-word shit– how about having a real public discussion about American racism instead of banning an f-ing word, you c-words)  out loud seems to be the one taboo this norm busting winner has not broken.

OK, dad, now that I’ve filled the spittoon, let’s continue with you.

When I sat down to make a serious attempt at untangling the contradictory lessons of my poor father’s life– a life lived partly as a monster– I thought I was looking at a unique situation.  Irv Widaen was a bright, funny, sensitive, curious, affable, quick witted, well-read, sardonic, fairly hip, justice-oriented man  who was at the same time the brutal zero-sum Dreaded Unit in the cozy confines of his immediate family.   I imagined that solving this great riddle would be the journey of the book.   It turned out not to be.

1,200 pages and more than a year of pondering later, it dawns on me that my father’s story is not unusual at all,  In fact, it’s all too familiar, a fairly universal story.  The details of what makes somebody a tyrant in the confines of his family home are always somewhat different, but this Jekyll and Hyde personality is on view everywhere if you get a true peek behind the fragile facade of civility we all wear in public.   We are, each one of us, capable of monstrous things, when we are upset and “justified”, if we feel safe acting out.

How do I explain the life-altering brutality of a man who rarely hit his children?  It’s elusive, as, for many years the reasons this otherwise good man, sympathetic to  the underdog and committed to justice, ruthlessly oppressed those he loved the most were carefully hidden.   To understand how a father can be hard-hearted toward his children you must look at the role models he had, the humiliations he underwent, the painful conflicts he never resolved.

If you met Irv Widaen you’d have been struck by his intelligence, his quick-wittedness and how engaged he always was in a conversation.   He was funny.    He was honest.   He was committed to bending the moral arch of history toward justice.   Well-read and interested in the world around him, he could comment intelligently on any subject that came up.    He connected easily with people.  Though he had firm political views, he could argue both sides of virtually any issue, a skill not many people bother to develop.   He was irreverent.   Out of the blue he could hit you with some darkly funny observation that would crack up his friends.  I recognize now that he did the best he could, and I know this for sure from the regrets his expressed the last night of his life.

My sister never recovered from the damage our father did to her.  She feels I had it worse than she did, because, while she usually tried to keep her head down,  I always fought back.   I had it bad enough, and my path through life has been strewn with violent obstacles and sometimes vicious confrontations, though who can really say who suffers more from what?   

In the first draft of the Book of Irv (and I know I probably need a better title, for starters), I wrote everything I could recall about our father’s implacable anger, the black and white world he set out– a world where my sister and I might win individual battles but would “lose the war.”   What was the war, dad?   I mean, can one really comprehend the desperate insanity of a father teaching his children that formulation of  life?   “You might win this battle, but you’re going to lose the war.”   The war?   What the fuck, dad?

In turning over this material, I came to see things from my father’s distorted point of view.  Odd to say, my imagined conversations with the opinionated, voluble skeleton of my father, who spoke from his grave outside of Peekskill, the benighted little anti-Semitic town he grew up in, revealed my father’s point of view in ways I never could have imagined.   I know that I imagined all the responses the skeleton provided, day after day, but some still struck me as surprising revelations.   I actually came to see things through his eyes.

So one major thing I need to convey in the book, I see now, is how a damaged person, desperate to feel whole, and intact, fashions a persona to conceal the shame that tortures him in his private moments.

(more to follow, I have to get back to the protectors of our Klansman-in-Chief…)

 

Trump’s margin of victory in 2016

The numbers on Trump’s actual margin of victory in 2016, once you pop them into a calculator, are pretty stunning.

Trump, although what he claimed was fraud cost him the popular vote (by 2.9 million [1] )  won the Electoral College by a handy margin in 2016.   He did this by taking every single “swing state” he needed to capture to pass the 270 electoral votes needed to become president, under this peculiar democratic safeguard system that was devised during the days of the Peculiar Institution.    

Northern states were less inclined than southern states to support the Peculiar Institution (slavery).   This is because the north was more industrialized and farmed by small farmers, while the less populous southern states, where large farms (plantations) used slave labor to produce monoculture cash crops (tobacco, cotton).   Safeguards were needed to protect the rights of that vulnerable slaveholding minority against the tyranny of a potential slavery hating majority — thus the 3/5 Compromise (one slave equals 3/5 of a white man for apportioning Congressional seats) and the Electoral College.  Fair is fair.  

Trump handily took the Electoral College — 304 to 227.   He won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio by a total of 78,000 votes, combined.    This number is 0.000312% of the estimated 250,000,000 American voters.  Of  course, I intensely dislike the man, so I have jiggered the numbers to make him look less popular than he actually is.  Only about 138,000,000 Americans voted in 2016, in a contest between the two most hated political figures in America.   That means Trump’s robust Electoral College margin was actually closer to a convincing 0.000609375%.   A mandate, a historic mandate, really.   Suck it, Dem losers!

Jeez, no wonder Nancy Pelosi is so afraid of doing anything that might empower him or rile up his base!

 

Business as usual — running out the clock on the American experiment in representative democracy

I’d planned to get back to writing about my father, having had a renewed offer to get the story of my father’s life into printed book form recently.   Business as usual, and what Sekhnet has taken to calling my lack of executive function, has prevented me from starting to reframe the long manuscript into a svelte 250 page telling of the story of my poor father’s life.   I started a post on the reframing several days ago, but it got lost in my morbid fascination with our lying attorney general and the slow-motion horror show that is proceeding in our enraged, ill-informed nation.

My father would be worked up these days too, no doubt, if he were not already an insensate skeleton.  Three and a half months ago Mueller handed his completed report and a fully redacted executive summary to the new A.G., Bagpiper Bill Barr.   Barr, it should be noted, is an accomplished bagpiper.  I believe he may have won bagpiping competitions.   My father, oddly enough, always loved the bagpipes, but I don’t think he would have loved Bagpiper Bill in the least.   Bill is running the clock, like the pro he is.  

My father used to be a bit disgusted to see a college team running out the clock toward the end of a close game, spreading out and passing the ball in a methodical way that made it virtually impossible for the other team to have a chance to score.   Unsportsmanlike, if very pragmatic, to keep passing the ball that way, ahead by a couple of points and freezing the action until the other team desperately fouled, hoping for a rebound and a chance to score, as the clock wound down to 0.

Almost four months ago Robert S. Mueller III handed in his report to the A.G.   Barr spent months spinning the findings with a bravura flair for untruthfulness, is spinning them still.   Mueller was subpoenaed and was scheduled to testify before two House committees on July 17.  Then, as it happened, not enough members of Congress had read his long report, they needed more time to get questions ready for Mueller.  This delay was apparently at the behest of Democrats, looking at their one shot to convince their party’s iron-willed political strategist Speaker Pelosi that what is described in the obstruction section of Mueller’s is much worse than what Nixon was accused of in the third Article of Impeachment against him.

Instead of discussions of the report’s actual contents, partisan spins have been offered on both sides, parsing short cryptical public comments by Mueller, two months ago, and continual, ever flowing less ambiguously exculpatory ones by Barr.  

So Mueller is now scheduled to testify, for three televised hours, on July 24, four months to the day from when Barr presented his misleading conclusions a couple of days after Mueller delivered his finished report, and fully redacted executive summary, to his boss.   Nice way to run four months off the ticking game clock, boys. Mueller will now speak to Congress on July 24, in three hours of must-see TV, and then, two days later, Congress will go on its well-earned six week vacation.

Democracy is on a ventilator — as our unchecked, unmoored president, who came into power on a robust, surgical 78,000 vote victory in several key states to win the Electoral College, has found his Roy Cohn at last — and these public servants are leaving Washington for some nice R & R before resuming their grueling campaign financing schedules in the fall.   My father would dismiss this last bit as within their rights, as business as usual and nothing to get excited about.   People can’t be expected to sacrifice their paid vacations, he would say.

Still, William Barr, the openly corrupt president’s handpicked gunsel, I know would be giving the old man fits.  The latest is that he succeeded in preventing the two former DOJ attorneys who worked with Mueller from voluntarily testifying to Congress.  The NY Times (which the old man read cover to cover every day)  reports:

And, for now at least, Democrats have agreed to proceed without immediate access to Mr. Mueller’s top deputies that had previously been incorporated into his appearance on Capitol Hill. Both House panels had expected to have a chance to question the deputies, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III, in private after Mr. Mueller’s public testimony.

The Justice Department had objected to such questioning and directed the men not to appear. But the reason for the change was not immediately clear.

source

Almost two months ago, Barr told an interviewer on a CBS broadcast:

From my perspective the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.

source

It’s hard to disagree with Bagpiper Bill.   It’s not as if this president was an illegitimate trickster, born in Kenya and living here under a false birth certificate, the real one disqualifying him from running for president, a secret Muslim with a name so suspiciously like Osama that when Bin Laden was killed virtually every newscaster flubbed the name of the executed terrorist, accidentally saying the president’s name instead.  It’s not as if this president never produced his long form birth certificate and college transcripts (well, let’s forget the college transcripts, SAT scores, everything else–not relevant, NOTHING TO SEE!).  

It’s not as if the opposition party, suddenly controlling both chambers of our bicameral Congress, vowed to block everything the twice popularly elected president proposed and denied him his constitutional right to nominate a candidate to replace a deceased Supreme Court justice.   It’s not as if this president’s successor (if any) will take pains to dismantle every deal this guy makes, void every law he has passed, remove his name from history, except as the biggest loser to ever serve in the office.   That’s how you shatter norms.

Sorry, dad, I know you tried to raise me better, but it’s simply too tempting, up to my nostrils in this swirling, stinking Koch-manufactured sewage, to simply say: fuck you, Barr  (and the fucking McConnell you rode in on).

 

 

Son of Criminal Obstructionists

I commented yesterday that Bill Barr is smarter than his boss.   Reading a bit of the transcript of his clumsy (but effective) spin of the Mueller report reminded me that smarter than our extremely stable genius president is not a very high bar.  Let’s have a quick look:

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I think Bob said that he was not going to engage in the analysis. He was, he was not going to make a determination one way or the other. And he also said that he could not say that the president clearly did not violate the law, which of course is not the standard we use at the department. We have to determine whether there is clear violation of the law and so we applied the standards we would normally apply. We analyzed the law and the facts and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction.

JAN CRAWFORD: As a matter of law?

WILLIAM BARR: As a matter of law. In other words, we didn’t agree with the legal analysis- a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department. It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers and so we applied what we thought was the right law but then we didn’t rely on that. We also looked at all the facts, tried to determine whether the government could establish all the elements and as to each of those episodes we felt that the evidence was deficient.

Mueller explained that unspecified DOJ regulations [1] required him to abide by the OLC memos stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted.   He explained that fairness dictated, since placing the president under a cloud of suspicion would impair his ability to do his job, that regardless of the weight of the evidence against him, the Special Counsel had to remain as neutral as possible on the question of his guilt.   He limited himself to collecting, sorting and preserving all the evidence it was possible to gather, “while memories were fresh” and while documents could still be obtained.   Here’s Barr’s vague and untruthful version (of admittedly hazy terrain):

Well, I think Bob said that he was not going to engage in the analysis. He was, he was not going to make a determination one way or the other. And he also said that he could not say that the president clearly did not violate the law, which of course is not the standard we use at the department.

Could Mueller have charged Trump with obstruction, had he not been bound by the OLC memo about not indicting a sitting president, based on the pattern of ten or more separate suspicious incidents he sets out in his report, including the president ordering his White House counsel to make a false record indicating that the president had never told him to obstruct justice by firing the Special Counsel?   Here’s Barr on that important question:

We analyzed the law and the facts and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction.

Aside from the fact that this is neither a sentence nor the expression of a complete thought, let’s parse it.  Many of the instances would not, as a matter of law, amount to obstruction of justice?   That means, by simple logic, that the others would amount to obstruction.  Also, obstruction is shown by a course of conduct– if many instances were not, in Barr’s view, obstruction, and several others were — then what is this irrefutable legal genius talking about?

As a matter of law. In other words, we didn’t agree with the legal analysis- a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department. It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers and so we applied what we thought was the right law but then we didn’t rely on that. We also looked at all the facts, tried to determine whether the government could establish all the elements and as to each of those episodes we felt that the evidence was deficient.

As a matter of law, sounds so categorical, so final.  As a matter of law– CASE CLOSED.   The views of the department?   That something like asking a subordinate to create a false written record to cover up arguable obstruction ais perfectly permissible if the person asking is the Unitary Executive?   Blow it out your bagpipes, Bill.   Way to dismiss the inconvenient “views of a particular lawyer” vs. the views of another particular, more powerful lawyer who gets the last word.  “We applied what we thought was the right law,” (as a matter of law) “but then we didn’t rely on that.”    Of course you didn’t rely on it — it would have harmed your boss!

I know, I know.   I keep acting like the facts matter, like simple logic should trump convoluted sophistry or outright partisan crap, like there is such as thing, in our post-truth society, as a “matter of law.”   Law is almost always decided based on the relative power of the parties.   Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave we have what is called “The American Rule”– unlike in most other civilized nations, each party pays his own legal fees in American courts (except in very limited circumstances).   This means if you have millions to spend against a less wealthy adversary who you can bankrupt in court — you win.   That is why our president is such a happy, satisfied, eternal WINNER who can claim to never to have settled a case (that claim is another demonstrable lie, but what the hey?).    USA! USA!!!!

I pretend otherwise, but in a world where time is literally running out on an inhabitable planet, as cynical old fossil fuel billionaires hire PR geniuses (and release “think tank” reports from their own spin doctors) to convince the pliable and the stupid that what they are seeing all around them has nothing to do with the looming climate catastrophe every responsible scientist on earth has been warning us of, emotion (plus power) beats the humble “truth” every time.

“If I’m so darned stupid — how come I’m the skeptic and you’re the fucking alarmist?   Tell me that, genius ass!”

Consider this piece my caveat about Barr’s supposed brilliance.  To that end I include, for the more ambitious reader (though not ambitious enough to click the link and read the CBS transcript) some more examples of his probity and his smarts.   [2]

Everyone who remains in Trump’s orbit reveals an essential stupidity (or at least moral vacuousness) after a while. They debase themselves by their transactional association with a giant, petulant, conniving, covetous 70 something year-old child.  

But remember, as Trump’s own loyal attorney general says, many of the suspicious things Mueller reported Trump doing to obstruct justice, many of them, as a matter of law (and Barr’s irrefutable, independent, Federalist Society opinion) were not crimes.  So there!

 

[1]   Mueller, speaking on his last day as Special Counsel

“The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” Mueller said.

“Beyond department policy,” he continued, “we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”

source

[2] Some selections of Barr equivicating eloquently, and as a mater of law, directly through his ass:

WILLIAM BARR: Well, we live in a hyper-partisan age where people no longer really pay attention to the substance of what’s said but as to who says it and what side they’re on and what it’s political ramifications are. The Department of Justice is all about the law, and the facts and the substance and I’m going to make the decisions based on the law and the facts and I realize that’s in tension with the political climate we live in because people are more interested in getting their way politically. so I think it just goes with the territory of being the attorney general in a hyper-partisan period of time.

and

JAN CRAWFORD: So instead [of releasing a report not redacted to your specifications], you turned in this four page summary?

WILLIAM BARR: Right, because I didn’t think the body politic would allow us to go on radio silence for four weeks. I mean, people were camped outside my house and the department and every – there was all kinds of wild speculation going on. Former senior intelligence officials who were purporting to have it- or intimating that they had inside information were suggesting that the president and his family were going to be indicted and so forth —

JAN CRAWFORD: And saying that publicly?

WILLIAM BARR: Saying that publicly. There was all kind of wild and–

JAN CRAWFORD: And you knew that to be false?

WILLIAM BARR: Yes, and it was wild and irresponsible speculation going on which the very–

JAN CRAWFORD: Wild and irresponsible. The former intelligence officials’ speculation–

WILLIAM BARR: Right, and talking heads and things like that, and these things affect the United States’ ability to function in the world. We have an economy. It could affect the economy. It can affect – it can affect our foreign relations during very delicate period of time with, you know, serious adversaries in the world. So I felt- that in order to buy time, in order to get the report out, I had to state the bottom line just like you’re announcing a verdict in a case. My purpose there was not to summarize every jot and tittle of the report and every, you know, angle that – that Mueller looked into. But, just state the bottom line which I did in the four page memo.

JAN CRAWFORD: You didn’t say in that four-page memo that the report would not exonerate the president on obstruction. That line–

WILLIAM BARR: I said that, yes. In the- in the- in my four-page memo, I said that Mueller did not reach a decision. He gave both sides and that- and then I quoted that sentence which is, while we didn’t find a crime, we didn’t exonerate the president. That was in the four-page letter.

JAN CRAWFORD: The- did not- we would so clearly state the preface to that.

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah.

[Jan Crawford is right and Barr is lying.   Barr did not include the line she alluded to — if we had confidence the president did not commit a crime we would have said so. Barr’s letter quoted  the line “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” , then followed it immediately, not with Mueller’s constitution-based conclusion that Congress is the proper venue for deciding whether or not the president used his powers improperly — but with his own preferred, pre-drawn conclusion that Mueller had decided to describe the facts without reaching a legal conclusion, which left the ultimate charging decisions up to the A.G.– as a matter of law, you dig….]

JAN CRAWFORD: That, that was not in there, and there was some criticism that in the summary, and the attorney- I mean, the special counsel himself wrote the letter saying, People are misunderstanding. There’s been some confusion, that the summary had caused some confusion–

Indeed it has, Barr’s four page PR release was a tissue of lawyerly cavil and did not reflect the content of Mueller’s findings

WILLIAM BARR: Right, right.

JAN CRAWFORD: That perhaps, and he didn’t say this, but the- the response was that you were too soft on the president, that actually the special counsel was a little sharper on obstruction.

[Barr wrote:  “Our determination [on no obstruction] was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president” — as if, because many of the obstructive acts described were not… ah, if you’re interested, read the handsome true believer’s entire equivocating letter here]

WILLIAM BARR: Well again, I wasn’t trying to provide all the flavor and nooks and crannies of the report. I was just trying to state the bottom line, and the bottom line was that Bob Mueller identified some episodes. He did not reach a conclusion. He provided both sides of the issue, and he- his conclusion was he wasn’t exonerating the president, but he wasn’t finding a crime either. And, for the purposes of the point, I think that that was what was required for the body politic because actually most of the letter then goes on to explain how Rod Rosenstein and I reached a decision and the criteria we applied in finding no obstruction.

JAN CRAWFORD: He wrote the letter taking issue, saying there caused- you had caused confusion. Did that catch you off guard?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, sure. I was surprised he just didn’t pick up the phone and call me given our 30 year relationship, but–

That’s what lawyers call making a record, and it’s especially important to make a record when documenting actual understandings when you know the other party to be a corrupt person with no hesitation to lie “for the greater good” as a “matter of law”.   Like you, Bagpiper.  And it doesn’t explain why you didn’t release the fully redacted Mueller summary already in your possession, instead waiting weeks to make it public.   Now continue spinning your web of spun excrement:

JAN CRAWFORD: Why didn’t he?

WILLIAM BARR: I don’t, I don’t know, but, as I said it in the hearing, I thought it was- the letter was a little snitty and staff-driven–

JAN CRAWFORD: Staff-driven?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah. I personally felt, but we had a good conversation–

JAN CRAWFORD: Because otherwise you would have picked up the phone?

WILLIAM BARR: Right, well, which I did, and we had a good conversation. And I think, I think the matter is now been fully vetted, and I think he was concerned that there should be more context and texture to his work given, and that in the absence of that, the vacuum had been filled with media reports that were then causing confusion, and he wanted it clarified by putting more of an explanation of his reasoning out. And I said that I didn’t want to put out dribs and drabs, I wanted the whole report out

[which is why I didn’t release Mueller’s detailed summary, of course].

And then I wrote a letter again to Congress saying, look, I didn’t- this is not intended to be a full summary. Bob’s thinking is reflected in the report. Everyone’s going to have access to it. They should look at that to determine, you know, what Bob’s reasoning was. So that’s where we let it sit till the report was released.

Sure, whatever you say, Bill, as a matter of law.

One last Barr gem, talking about which is worse, a foreign government interfering in our elections or “allowing  government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.”:

WILLIAM BARR: Well they’re both, they’re both troubling.

JAN CRAWFORD: Equally?

WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they’re there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.

Got only two more words here:  Mitch McConnell. Oh, yeah, and Bill Barr.

Criminal Obstructionists

Our nation’s top law enforcement officer, Bagpiper Bill Barr, Trump’s third and most aggressively protective Attorney General, is instructing all eye witnesses to and those knowledgeable about Trump’s likely obstruction not to testify.  This applies to former DOJ employees who came forward voluntarily and anyone who has received a legally sufficient subpoena to testify.   Barr is fighting all subpoenas in court under a very weak (but effectively clock-running) blanket “protective executive privilege” argument.   Barr is currently trying to prevent Mueller from more than a token appearance before Congress.   Mueller’s July 17th  appearance is now in question, according to Friday’s reports it’s been suddenly rescheduled for July 24th.

NOTHING TO HIDE, YOU FUCKING LOSERS!!!   NO DO-OVERS (except for my boss!)!!!  NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, WITCH HUNT!

Bagpiper Bill is unscrupulous, and dishonest.    His loyalty to his boss, admirable in some circumstances, is despicable in the context of who he’s defending, based on the many sworn witness accounts of ongoing obstruction set out in the Mueller report,  and how he has been defending him– often with outright lies (more about that in a moment).  He shamelessly shills for and doggedly defends his president (who has his own army of lawyers and appointees to do this), rather than serving as the head of a legitimate and fair Department of Justice charged with the administration of justice, which is another word for “fairness”.

Barr echoes each of his boss’s most ridiculous claims, gives them the imprimatur of the head of the Justice Department.   He announced that the DOJ is investigating “spying” on Trump during the Russia-involved Trump campaign (recall, 100 plus instances of coordination between is campaign and Russia do no amount to “collusion”).  Heroic obstructionist Mitch McConnell had told Obama that he would flay him publicly for “interfering in the 2016 election” if Obama revealed the intelligence about and investigation into Russian interference when they were all briefed on it prior to the election.  Barr is investigating the “partisan” Republican-appointed investigators into Trump’s likelier than not obstruction.   Barr is a giddy bully with the power of the Department of Justice to throw behind his threats.   He is currently intimidating witnesses.

We are at a breaking point for this experiment in democracy.  If a one vote majority is good enough to confirm a divisive, ideologically driven partisan Supreme Court justice, and decide, 5-4 (along ideological lines), cases that affect millions and millions of Americans — well, that’s very close to the breaking point of representative democracy.

Oh, yes, just a small bouquet of Barr’s transparent lies.  It is bracing to consider that the new standard for untruth that we need to be concerned with, under this compulsive liar who is the nation’s thrice bankrupt CEO, is chargeable criminal perjury that will result in a 100% conviction.   The Overton Window has been moved radically in the last few years– lying to advance one’s cause is no longer considered anything to be ashamed of.  In the famous phrase of soundly defeated ahead-of-his-time Republican extremist Barry Goldwater “extremism in defense of freedom is no vice”.  Look at Trump, McConnell and Barr.  They’ve learned that this works especially well when done in slow motion.    NO VICE!   LOSERS! 

Here’s Barr, in April, three months back, toward the beginning of his long, slow stalling tactic, designed to run out the clock on legal opposition to his boss’s (and his) obstruction, lying his ample ass off (arguing for no do-over):

Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. 

Only a carping “enemy of the people” would point out the well-known details of the White House’s “full cooperation” (which we all see demonstrated daily, on display alongside the president’s famous sense of fair play):

a) access to campaign and White House documents was extremely fettered.  Trump is currently defying the law and not turning over subpoenaed documents.  He has several cases in court now blocking access to requested documents, financial and otherwise.  In the Deutsche Bank case these documents could be very embarrassing to the president, if not also incriminating.   He’s been ordered to turn them over but has ordered his legal team to appeal the ruling.   Trump has long been what Shakespeare called an “action-taking knave”, a wealthy scoundrel who “lawyers up” to weaselishly get what he wants from people who have the better of the argument.   Delay is the action-taking knave’s best friend and both he and Barr know this well.

b)  key witnesses lied to the FBI and to Mueller, or, like the president and his family members (two of whom are highly placed officials in his administration) simply refused to testify.   The Acosta/Epstein-like deal Trump struck with Mueller was to answer only written queries, each of which, except for the last one, he answered by pleading no memory.  The last question was so unnerving that his lawyers had him actually refused to answer it at all.   Mueller tactfully called this refusal to answer “inadequate”.  Trump also refused to answer Mueller’s follow-up questions.  Inadequate, you know, truly and 100% beyond argument: inadequate..  ONE BITE AT THE APPLE, LOSER!  Senior aides and others were (and are, under this bogus privilege claim) forbidden from giving testimony to anyone, in any sworn setting (NO DO-OVERS, LOSERS!  NO PERJURY TRAPS!)

c) a flimsy protective privilege for all testimony and documents related to the redacted Mueller report has been asserted, on Barr’s written advice to the president.  It is virtually certain that this asserted blanket privilege will eventually be dismissed as groundless, but it might be a crucial year or two before that happens.  In Barr’s defense, it was the one part of his statement he wasn’t lying about, at the time.   Although he later urged the president, in the interest of gaining maximum stonewalling time, to assert this privilege, at the time he spoke, in mid-April, the Orange Menace had asserted no absolute, all-encompassing executive privilege.

As no less an authority than Bill Barr himself said, during a network television interview toward the start of this latest round of blatant obstruction of justice (hey, the top cop from the party that controls 3 of the 4 power centers of our democracy doesn’t have to worry about anyone dropping a dime on HIM):

Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good.  They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system that we have.

They start viewing themselves as the guardians of the people that are more informed and insensitive than everybody else. They can- in their own mind, they can have those kinds of motives. And sometimes they can look at evidence and facts through a biased prism that they themselves don’t realize.[1]    

source

Me?  As soon as the legally gerrymandered election of 2020 is over, I’ll be waiting in line for my tattoo, and instructions about which train to get on, to the designated branch of the independently owned Trump American indigents’ Luxury Detention Center.

 

[1] It’s fascinating, and a bit sickening, to watch this interview, in light of what we know now, having seen more of Mueller’s actual findings, including Trump’s inadequate non-answer to Mueller’s most probing question.   We can now see that this immoral lawyer lies as shamelessly as his current master;  he’s smarter, and much more disciplined, but just as shameless.

Here’s a gem from that interview:

WILLIAM BARR: I’d rather, in many ways, I’d rather be back to my old life but I think that I love the Department of Justice, I love the FBI, I think it’s important that we not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions. I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it’s President Trump that’s shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that, it is hard, and I really haven’t seen bill of particulars as to how that’s being done.

From my perspective the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.

 

Aktions and Trump

Piecing together what we thought we knew about the location of the hamlet in the Belarusian marsh our grandparents came from, my cousin and I settled on a spit of land across the Pina River from Pinsk.   It fit the descriptions we had, though it was not marked on any map anyone could find [1].   Assuming that’s where they lived, it is a simple matter to find out the dates of the Pinsk Aktions, the Nazi mobilizations to round up and liquidate the local population, and we always assumed it was on those dates that the Nazis killed everyone in our family who had not made it to America by 1923 or died before those terrible dates.

Aktion is what the Nazis called these round-ups and “liquidations”.   They’d assemble all the undesirables, the poisoners of the genetic pool, the deadly enemies of the people, down to the tiniest children, and lead them off to their deaths.   An aktion usually involved a bunch of men with guns and a large ditch, sometimes dug, at gunpoint, by the victims.   

The men who did the killing during an aktion, the einsatzgruppen, had a famously hard time, many became alcoholics and drug addicts.   This is one reason the Nazis mechanized the process, to spare their people the horror of what it was necessary to do.  There were simply too many enemies of the people to be killed and it is hard for a human being to shoot dozens, if not hundreds, of unarmed civilians day after day.    No matter how strongly one believed in the ultimate justice of what one was doing.   How many children can you murder before it gets to you?

I would not put that question to our president.   I seriously don’t think the suffering or even the death of an illegal Mexican rapist child means anything to him.   Look at the evidence.  He’s got untold numbers of children from Central America in child prisons, dirty, disease infested, cramped, unhealthy child prisons.  Concentration camps, actually (and recall, these facilities are not nearly as bad as Death Camps where actual mass killing was carried out).   Concentration camps.   For children.   

His spin is that these kids have it great, much, much better than in their shithole countries, even if the food and sanitary conditions are sometimes not fantastic.  Whatever he’s been ordered by federal courts to do about this brutal policy of family separation, he clearly doesn’t give a shit.   Neither do the people running these brutal facilities where kids are not allowed to wash, where they sleep on the floor, where disease proliferates, where every sort of abuse is winked at.

Recently the president has been making a lot of noise, for the benefit of his angry base and to fire them up about his reelection campaign (which began the day he was inaugurated, before a historically gigantic crowd of supporters), about rounding up millions of these illegal alien fuckers and doing whatever is necessary to get these sons of bitches out of our country.  OUT!  NO MORE ROOM!   OUT!   BACK TO YOUR SHITHOLE COUNTRIES, LOSERS!

The president often behaves like an angry psychopath.  His people love it!   He was planning his nonlethal aktion for the July 4th weekend, then decided not to politicize the day, just having military jets fly over him as he made a patriotic speech.   But now he announces it’s going to happen, as promised, a massive round up of perhaps millions, simultaneously in more than ten cities where they are hiding these filthy, violent criminals.   His base, crazed with inchoate fear and hatred that Trump understands intimately, loves this kind of macho no prisoners theatre.

When journalist and legal American resident Jamal Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi embassy where he was strangled and dismembered on the orders of MBS of the Saudi Arabian monarchy, Trump was sympathetic.  To his killers.   He changed his tune over and over as the various transparent lies of MBS and his people came out.  “Well,” he said thoughtfully, “MBS is denying it very strongly, very strong denial.  So, you know.”    Even when it was shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that Saudis close to MBS planned and carried out the grisly execution, Trump shrugged. It was hard to think that Trump wouldn’t love to be able to have some of these fake news enemy of the people fuckers given the old Khashoggi treatment.

You know, without the illegal leaks, and the people who won’t shut up, and the laws, and the courts, the unfair courts that only get it right when they dismiss a suit against Trump for lack of standing or some other technicality, and the press, the goddamned disloyal press — oh, and subpoenas and so-called legal process — but especially the press, the media, with their constant airing of very unfair facts, and photographs, and videos and interviews with lying, disloyal people who won’t shut up, who think they are fighting for some kind of justice (fake justice) there would be no problems.  Trump and his people know what to do.   Get rid of all the fucking illegal immigrants.   Is that too much to ask?

Without the goddamned lying media, A.G. Bill Barr’s (arguably) false public statement:

Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. 

would be an unchallengeable slam dunk, don’t you see?  Only an enemy of the people would point out that access to campaign and finance documents was extremely fettered, that key witnesses lied or refused to testify, that the president submitted only to written queries and answered each one pleading no memory before finally simply refusing to answer at all, that senior aides and others were and have been forbidden from giving further testimony (NO DO-OVERS, LOSERS!) and that a flimsy protective privilege for all testimony and documents related to the redacted Mueller report has been asserted, on fucking Bagpiper Bill Barr’s written advice to the president.

It’s hard to think that someone as childishly impulsive and transactional as Trump wouldn’t jump at the chance to silence a particularly vicious “enemy of the people” by any means he could get away with.  This is a man who paid off women he probably paid to have sex with, had them sign non-disclosure agreements and fought them to a standstill in the courts.  This is a man who repeatedly called for the execution of five NYC boys who were completely exonerated of the crime they were convicted of.   Kill them anyway.  This is one sick puppy.

This planned nonlethal aktion against “illegals”– I’m sure Trump is wishing it could be something even more dramatic.   Imagine the polling numbers if he could actually go on TV and shoot a few of these raping fucks in their ugly, desperate faces?

 

[1]  It turns out, according to a Belarusian geneologist named Yuri that my cousin hired,  the shtetl was not across the Pina from Pinsk, but 40 something kilometers east, closer to Stolin (Plotnitsa being the closest town on a map).  There was, of course, an aktion there too.   The Nazis were nothing if not thorough.