Question of Fact

I find myself thinking of the good advice to juries and judges, given by Brett “Boof” Kavanaugh’s mother, who went to law school during Boof’s childhood and became a lawyer and then a judge herself.  “Use your common sense — what smells right and what smells like a steaming pile of shit?”  ( I paraphrase).

We’re living in a sound byte and “Social Media” driven, 51-49 SUCK IT, LOSER culture where fact finders are not expected to use common sense after smelling various claims to determine which come closest to making sense.   

Remarks are often taken out of context, edited, framed a certain way, weaponized and offered as doctored proof of the unreliability of things we used to call “facts”, back in the days when we naively believed that what actually happens is more important than the self-serving reframing of reality by highly paid spin doctors.   We are told everything today is strictly tribal, EVERYTHING, and what you believe depends 100% on whether you are a member of the tribe of loyal winners or the tribe of despicable fucking losers.   

As a member of a lost tribe, I find myself recalling times in my own life when I was expected to accept, for the sake of somebody else’s strong, immovable feelings, an absurd or incoherent story.    An innocent remark of mine was sharpened and used to vicious effect in a marriage counseling session as proof that my oldest friend, the husband, was a fucking liar.  His occasional lying never bothered me, nor did I ever agree with the wife that he is a compulsive liar.  Yet, there it is: that he’s an unbearable fucking liar proved by his oldest friend’s candid, strategically quoted remark!   

My old friend confronted me, as he was challenged to do by his wife and couples therapist and, eyelid twitching, put it to me bluntly: “Did you intentionally and viciously try to destroy my marriage or was it just stupidity driven by unconscious hostility?”   I suggested a third choice, which I explained in detail, but, also — what the fucking fuck?!

Granted, to a larger and more open extent than ever before, we are living in a 51-49 SUCK IT, LOSER! culture.   The stories and rationales will keep shifting, polls will be taken, retaken, new stories and rationales will emerge about the same thing explained differently the day before.   Denials will be followed by insistence that nothing was ever denied, admissions, same deal, they can be made and denied in back to back breaths because: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!   

As long as the insula is kept glowing red, there is no need to go beyond the immediate cause of anger (which makes the insula glow).  In fact, when we are angry we are physically and psychologically unable to see the other side of anything, we literally cannot process the explanations that would otherwise pacify us.  The beauty of righteous rage: it makes us feel totally righteous and adrenalized to fight injustice.

If you hate, you will be inclined to easily believe the worst rumors about the person/people you hate.   Hillary Clinton, an internet meme insisted, was running a pedophile emporium in the basement of a popular DC pizza joint.  Child sex slaves, locked up in the basement for pervert Hillary supporters to do with as they pleased.  An outraged citizen arrived at the pizza place with a gun to liberate the poor children in the basement.   The pizza place had no basement.  They arrested the guy with the loaded gun and, thankfully, nobody was harmed.   The claim turned out to be a piece of random propaganda against a political candidate who was either the first or second most hated politician in America at the time (Trump and Hillary were said to be one/two most hated presidential candidates ever, I don’t recall the order).

During that same ugly 2016 campaign I got a call from a friend who told me about a video tape of Sheldon Adelson (piece of shit extraordinaire) and Donald Trump (his record reeks for itself) that allegedly showed them gang-banging a 13 year-old girl.  As much as I dislike both of these creatures, I immediately knew the story was a crock.  Use your common sense: assume either of them actually had sex with a 13 year-old — in what universe would they do it together, sharing the girl — and the possibility of a very long prison term?   It’s not in either of their characters to share. 

Beyond that, how would these two wealthy men, skilled in covering up dark things they feel need to be kept secret, have allowed a video to reach the public?   The videographer would be either well-paid off and sworn to secrecy in an ironclad NDA or discreetly removed from the world, along with the “evidence” of the sensational gang rape of a minor.  The corporate media would be abuzz about it, if such a tape had surfaced or there had been the slightest whiff of truth about its existence.

Believe what you like, it’s certainly your prerogative, like the choice to remain unpersuadable.  For me, I prefer to have as much solid information as I can get before I formulate and state my position.   It’s like being a juror in a criminal trial, you want to hear from what they used to call “fact witnesses”, as many people who were actually at the crime scene as you can get, and see as much other evidence as there is, before you make up your mind about what happened and what didn’t happen and who did what and so on.  Dismiss that principle as “tribal” if you like, I’ll stick with it, prejudiced member of a loser tribe that I am.


Psychological vs. Physical torture

I had a friend, a tortured soul, who’d routinely describe any mildly unpleasant experience as “pure torture”.   Never once, that I recall, was this torture physical.  It was that psychological torture most of us are familiar with, the kind we must endure from time to time in a life that sometimes contains insoluble frustrations.   Psychological torture  can become unbearable, no question about it.   Sometimes the answer to unbearable frustration, from the point of view of people in power, is to torture those who would torture us.   Torture and full-scale infrastructure demolishing military invasions, instead of smart, targeted law enforcement–  indictment, capture, trial– you know, the marks of a civilized response to intolerable crimes against humanity.   The impulse to torture is some sick, primitive, lizard-brained shit, if you think about it.  Once resurrected and tolerated it becomes a feature, rather than a disgusting bug to extinguish once and forever.

After the brilliantly executed terrorist masterpiece of 9/11 the world suddenly seemed a terrifying place.   You’re sitting in your office and a giant plane smashes through the window, turning the building into a crematorium.   On the internet you watch the filmed beheadings of people innocent of anything but being hated by these same terrorists.  These maniacs, many at the time believed, will come to your house and slit your throat in your bed.  In those extraordinarily terrifying days, extraordinary measures were called for.  Cue the cynical public servants and their ambitious, ass-licking lawyers.    I’ll let Amy Goodman and her brother David take it for a moment, from their 2006 book Static [1]:

When the eulogy for American democracy is written, this will stand out as a signal achievement:  how an American president and vice president championed torture, how Congress acquiesced, how the courts provided legal cover for the sadists, all the while sage media pundits politely debated our descent into barbarism.


These are the last words of their chapter on the Bush/Cheney torture regime.  About psychological torture specifically, they write, quoting historian Alfred McCoy’s interview with Amy:

“The second major breakthrough that the CIA had came in New York City at Cornell University Medical Center, where two eminent neurologists under contract from the CIA studied Soviet KGB torture techniques.  They found that the most effective KGB technique was self-inflicted pain.  You simply make somebody stand for a day or two.  As they stand — you’re not beating them, they have no resentment — you tell them, ‘You’re doing this to yourself.  Cooperate with us and you can sit down.’  As they stand, what happens is the fluids flow down to the legs, the legs swell, lesions form, they erupt, they separate hallucinations start, the kidneys shut down.”

Through a process of trial and error, the CIA refined its methods by experimenting with a variety of torture techniques, from beating, to secretly giving American soldiers hallucinogenic drugs.  “LSD certainly didn’t work — you scramble the brain.  You got unreliable information,” said McCoy.  “But what did work was the combination of these two boring, rather mundane behavioral techniques: sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain.”

The CIA codified its findings in 1963 in the KUBARK Counter-intelligence Manual (which can be found online).  McCoy noted that KUBARK presented a “distinctly American form of torture, the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in centuries — psychological torture… it’s proved to be a very resilient, quite adaptable and an enormously destructive paradigm.”

It is a mistake to consider psychological torture — sometimes referred to as “torture lite” — to be the lesser of evils.  “People who are involved in treatment tell us [that psychological torture] is far more destructive, does far more lasting damage to the human psyche, than does physical torture,” insisted McCoy.  Even Senator John McCain stated when he was advocating his torture prohibition in 2005 that he would rather be beaten than psychologically tortured.     [3]

My sister and I were raised by a father who (I learned toward the end of his life) had been brutally tortured as an infant and child.   The regular torture he was subjected to was both physical and psychological.   He was able to exert himself as a father not to inflict physical torture on my sister and me, something I applaud him for posthumously.   The psychological torture he was generally unable to refrain from inflicting.   So I write on this subject with some personal experience and strong feelings about it.  Torture leaves lifelong wounds — even the relatively mild forms of torture I experienced.   My sister still blames herself for the damage that was done to her.  One of the devilries of psychological torture is how it undermines your trust in your own perceptions.

You can shrug off torture done in our names, to strangers who may or may not be terrorists, as you can shrug off many terrible things you can do nothing about.   Why am I starting the new year writing about fucking torture?  A lesson from history, I suppose [4].  2006 is history now, although largely forgotten in our frenzied and fearfully competitive commercial culture, and Amy and David Goodman’s reporting was a first draft of history, and a chilling one.  The efforts undertaken in our name, on the Dark Side, as the personification of righteous evil Dick Cheney famously scowled it on national TV, casts a dark shadow across our culture today.  Ignore it at all of our perils, boys and girls.

After the slaughter of innocents on 9/11, DOJ lawyers John Yoo (tenured professor of Constitutional Law — of all things– at UC-Berkeley) and  Jay Bybee (lifetime tenured federal judge), got busy writing the now infamous (and generally forgotten) Torture Memo, the legal arguments for why America was entitled to use torture against its enemies.  Yoo had the brilliant insight to redefine pain, using a definition he found somewhere, and then to redefine torture as only that which causes the severe and unbearable pain that immediately precedes death.  

The definitions are key, in the law.   A prisoner of war may not be tortured, under international law, but what about an “enemy combatant” or a “detainee”?   Not exactly covered by those pesky Geneva Conventions.  Plus, since the treatment didn’t rise to the level of pain accompanying organ failure, it wasn’t torture, it was now “enhanced interrogation.”   See?  Let “bleeding heart” journalists and other lawyers find our secret memo and fight it out in court.  Fuck ’em.  

Like the neurologists the CIA hired in the early 1960s to create a manual of effective psychological torture (effective, we should note, in breaking the captive’s spirit, not in gaining actual intelligence) Cheney, Addington, Bush and co., soon after 9/11/01, hired two psychologists to create a new “enhanced interrogation techniques” program.   The EIT was based on the theory of learned helplessness.  You teach your captive that he or she is helpless.  You do this by creating debility, dependence and despair.  

There are many techniques.  You can deprive them of sleep for long periods, make them almost freeze, or almost parboil, chain them in stressful positions, lock them in coffins, slam them against walls, gag them on a board, turn them upside down and pour water into their mouths to simulate their drowning.  None of this is torture, by the way, if go by the legalistic Torture Memo and you are an insane fucking sadist on a mission from God. 

The creators of the EIT program, two psychologists, Jessen and Mitchell, were paid $80,000,000 to reverse engineer the SERE Manual (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) used to train Navy SEALS to resist giving up information under actual torture by savage enemies without the foresight and legal chops to set up an EIT program.   $80,000,000 tax payer dollars, boys and girls, for an American torture program that never worked.  Of course, its defenders say it saved countless innocent lives, but they are torturers and their words must be considered as such, however clever their lawyers’ reframing of torture may have been.

There was a study conducted and a massive report written on the extensive EIT program.  The report was compiled over several years, throughout the Obama administration.  The details of the inhuman things Americans and our allies did to “detainees” are sickening, the conclusion that torture does not work in terms of gaining useful information was unequivocal.   The highly redacted report on the most recent CIA torture program was classified, of course, never released to the public.  The summary of the report, which was reported on, was also heavily redacted. It was all very controversial, made America look very bad in hindsight.  Obama didn’t want it released, after all, he was “looking forward not backwards” and had already candidly stated, without any attempt to prettify it, that we “tortured some folks.”  That mea culpa was not enough?   Some very good people, with the best of intentions, did some bad things and some folks got “tortured.”   What more is there to say?  It’s like the banning of the n-word.   Stop people from saying the word in public and “bingo!” no more fucking racism.

Debility, dependence and despair.  It has been achieved on a massive scale, both here and abroad.   The number of American deaths of despair continues to rise.   The world is catching on fire, flooding, cracking open, the oceans are rising, swallowing coastlines.  Globalism has removed any trace of restraint from the corporations that run the planet, many of them hastening the end of the natural world by their heedless pursuit of the “bottom line”.  We are helpless against these forces, as we learn every day.  We depend on the massive international system that delivers our food, our water, our clothing and so forth.  Our only hope, we are told, is consuming things, while we can still get ’em.

Do not despair.  There are far better things to learn than helplessness.   The first task, it seems to me, is to see things as clearly as possible.  Facts exist, honest, they do.  The pain accompanying the shut down of a major organ is not the mark of what is fucking torture and what is not torture.   We live under the whims of a constantly enraged two-year old at the moment, here in the greatest and most exceptional nation God and or history ever created (among others who make the same claim), he serves the small group who already has it all, giving them more, taking from the least of us, but we must not despair.   There is much work to be done.   Time to get busy.

A friend said, when this insane, unfunny clown was elected president, fair and square by 78,000 surgically targeted votes that gave him the Electoral College, that we must remain vigilant.  These motherfuckers have made it extremely hard to remain vigilant, their cynical shit-flinging and “cult of personality” ass-licking is painful to watch.   But vigilant we must remain.

Do not despair.  There is much work to be done.  Time to get busy.  Here’s to a happy 2020, everybody.


[1]  Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back, Amy Goodman and David Goodman (c) 2006

[2] page 167

[3] pp. 161-2

[4]  I’ve also been intending to transcribe these passages from Static for a while now.  No time like the new year.

Democracy in Action

Mitch McConnell:  “Everything I do during this I’m coordinating with White House counsel, there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to  handle this.  There’s no chance the president will be removed from office.”   The “Grim Reaper” on FOX News.

On (Lying) Face the Nation, Lindsey Graham was asked “Should Republicans in the Senate really be taking their marching orders from the person being investigated?”

Graham:  “You know, I understand the president’s frustration, but I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with, I have clearly made up my mind.    I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations and the process.”

Way to answer a question, Lindsey!

These staunch Trump supporting men know “it’s a witch hunt, it’s a scam, it’s a hoax… illegal, unconstitutional, it’s a very bad thing for our country … it trivializes impeachment.”    Their leader told them so, over and over, on television.   And, as we all know, furhrerworte haben Gesetzkraft — the leader’s word has the force of law.

USA!  USA!!!

Quick Timeline of Trump’s attempted shakedown of Zelensky

Using the word “shakedown” in the title gives away my position on what I believe Mr. Trump did.  The president’s attempt to get a foreign leader to announce a corruption investigation into the son of his political rival is the only impeachable offense the fearful Democrats charged Mr. Trump with.   It was bad that Trump held up aid to Ukraine for at least two months, and released it only after the whistleblower’s complaint (submitted a month and a half earlier) finally brought the matter to the attention of our Checks and Balances.   It was two more weeks before the original whistleblower complaint was released, and Trump unaccountably released the “transcript” of the hidden July 25th perfect call.  Now they are impeaching Mr. Trump over that shakedown plan, which included acts within his powers, like dismissing an ambassador who stood in the way of the mischief of Trump’s personal lawyer and the other two amigos.

Limiting the impeachment to only that — and obstruction of the hated Congress (which nobody cares about) —  takes a lot of other important high crimes and misdemeanors off the table.   I suppose the theory is to err on the side of caution, make a clear and convincing case for the most open and egregious story or abuse of power for a corrupt purpose, easily understood, and have that stand in for the rest.  

I’d have preferred at least one more, for obstruction of justice.  Let him refute Mueller’s entire volume two, that would be good.   Limiting the impeachment to this single series of despicable act takes Don McGahn and the rest of the fact witnesses Mueller talked to, under oath, about the president’s seamless pattern of obstruction of justice, off the table.  It also sets the stage for Lindsay Graham to call Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff and Gerald Nadler as hostile witnesses in the Senate trial before McConnell allows an up or down straight majority party line vote to not remove the leader they all defer to, the man who controls the RNC purse strings.   Senate Republicans will have the final word, per the rules, on all procedural decisions during their impeachment trial.

That said, here is the timeline (facts) of how long the appropriated military aid to Ukraine was held up (at least from July 3 to September 11), when it was released (September 11) and why (treason by so-called “whistleblower”).

The source for this timeline is lying NBC.  All quotes are from the article linked here.

July 3, 2019:  A hold is placed on the almost $400,000,000 in bipartisan, mostly military, aid to Ukraine.   July 3 is when Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman learns of the aid being withheld.

July 10:  

A meeting at the White House with Ukrainian officials is cut short when Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, says he has an agreement with the acting White House chief of staff that Ukraine’s president would get a meeting with Trump if Ukraine agreed to launch investigations.

Then-national security adviser John Bolton “stiffened” and ended the meeting, later telling colleague Fiona Hill to report it to the National Security Council’s lawyer, she testified.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and (acting White House chief of staff Mick) Mulvaney are cooking up on this,” Hill said Bolton told her.

July 18:  White House Office of Management and Budget announces presidential order to hold up aid to Ukraine.

July 25:  Mr. Trump’s perfect call to Volodymyr Zelensky.

AUGUST: The questions

Catherine Croft, the special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department, says two Ukrainians reach out to her to ask about the status of the military assistance. She told lawmakers she couldn’t recall the exact dates, but believes the outreach took place before the Aug. 28 publication of a Politico article detailing the hold.

August 12, 2019:  Whistleblower complaint about withholding of aid to Ukraine and concerns about “perfect” July 25 phone call filed.  DOJ does not forward complaint to Congress, as required by law.  (It gets to Congress on September 25, 2019, weeks after House investigations begin.)

August 28: Politico publishes article on the withheld aid.

August 29:  acting US Ambassador to Ukraine begins getting desperate calls from Ukrainians about the withholding of aid.

SEPT. 9: The investigations begin

Three House committees launch a wide-ranging investigation into the allegations that Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and possibly others, tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to help the president’s reelection campaign by digging up dirt on a political rival.

September 11: most of the appropriated aid to Ukraine is released.

September 25:  August 12 whistleblower complaint released to Congress.

December 13, 2019:  Democrats deliberately time their vote for Friday the Thirteenth to approve two baseless, partisan articles of impeachment against the president AG William Barr has repeatedly called innocent and totally justified to be enraged by the sneaky unscrupulousness of his many enemies.  

Thank you and have a very nice day.

Always himself, our man POTUS

TIME magazine named its Person of the Year the other day. Unaccountably that Person was not Mr. Trump, TIME selected Swedish high school climate activist Greta Thunberg. 

You can predict what happened next — the most powerful man in the world took to his phone to cyberbully a sixteen year-old girl. 

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Here’s Trevor Noah— and Greta:

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click on frame above for Trevor’s great segment.

The Most Dangerous Man in America


Trump is a flawed vessel for God’s will.  You’ll get no argument from anyone on that score.  His flaws, including an inability to refrain from constant lying and self-aggrandizement, are endlessly on display.  We see this tic constantly because one of his other flaws is a childish need for attention, a need to be the center of attention. Another is his seeming incapacity for the demanding duties he has assumed as the world’s most powerful man.  

William Barr, on the other hand, is a highly skilled flawed vessel for God’s will who controls federal law enforcement in the United States of America.   He has shown a zeal to defend the president, no matter what, comparable to the zeal of the fierce zealot lawyers, Defenders of the Faith, who argued to the death the right of the Church to torture and kill heretics in the name of Jesus Christ.   He has no hesitation to make bold, strong, authoritative-sounding pronouncements that are not strictly supported by actual facts.   Because of his power, his zeal, his lawyerly chops, and his Scalia-like devotion to carrying out “God’s will”, he is the most dangerous man in Donald Trump’s revolving, mostly incompetent, crew.

The Department of Justice, created after the Civil War to enforce the rights of newly freed slaves, opened an investigation into the origins of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s entanglements with Russia regarding the 2016 election.  The DOJ, in the Mueller Report, found Russian efforts on behalf of Mr. Trump were “sweeping and systematic”, and though there were many points of contact, even open invitations for Russian help from candidate Trump (jokes, jokes!), Mueller’s team was thwarted in getting sufficient evidence of a chargeable criminal conspiracy between Team Putin and Team Trump.   Several top Trump aides are in prison, or awaiting sentencing, in part over their roles in making sure the DOJ never received sufficient evidence of widespread “collusion”.

Former Attorney General and Trump loyalist Jeff Sessions made the fatal mistake of following DOJ ethics attorneys’ advice and recusing himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.  After Sessions was publicly humiliated by his boss and forced to “resign”, a snorting weightlifter was inserted into the post temporarily until Trump was able to get his new Roy Cohn confirmed by the Senate. Barr was as good as his promise to Trump during his audition for the job — I will protect you no matter what, so-called damning facts be damned.

“Insufficient evidence” to establish every element of the crime of criminal conspiracy became, after Barr’s authoritative, deliberately misleading public spin in the weeks before he released the redacted Mueller Report, “complete exoneration”.   Mueller immediately protested this distortion, in a letter to Barr. Barr waited a month to disclose Mueller’s letter, giving time for his authoritative counter-narrative to become cemented in the public mind.  The ten instances of obstruction of justice described in detail by Mueller, America was told by the always certain Barr, were irrelevant because the actual crime of obstruction of justice hinges on intent, in this case the intent of an innocent man clearly within his rights to be understandably enraged by an unfair partisan investigation against him and to do whatever was within his considerable powers to stop it.

The zealous defender of  Trumpism is at it again.   The recently released report concluded the DOJ investigation (begun under Obama) into Russian influence in Trump’s campaign was not motivated by bias or political animus against candidate Trump.  It also noted at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in how the FBI obtained the original FISA warrants to surveil four Trump aides.  It should be noted that the investigation, once it was pursued by the Independent Counsel, ultimately led to numerous convictions of top Trump aides and a raft of indictments of Russians beyond the reach of American law.   Of the four initial targets of the FBI investigation that the DOJ Inspector General  investigated, three have pled guilty or been convicted of related crimes. 

Barr announces that the DOJ report concluded that the “intrusive” investigation was opened by the FBI on the “thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.  He also called the investigation  “completely baseless”.   He is not buying the conclusions of Inspector General Michael Horowitz until Barr’s own investigation of possible criminality by investigators and other members of Mueller’s team is concluded.  

For sheer shamelessness, this might have been his best comment:

“From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government used the apparatus of the state, principally the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies, both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election,” he said [of Obama’s “spying” on the Trump campaign –ed.].


Barr  said, among other things:

“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years, I think, based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press, and I think that there were gross abuses of FISA and inexplicable behavior that isn’t tolerable in the FBI,” Barr told NBC News.

Fake news,   completely bogus narrative.  [1]

“[Horowitz’s] approach is to say, if I get an explanation from the people I’m investigating that is not unreasonable on its face, then I will accept it as long as there’s not contradictory testimonial or documentary evidence… And all he said is people gave me an explanation. And I didn’t find anything to contradict it. So I don’t have a basis for saying that there was improper motive. But he hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive,” Barr said.

(emphasis mine)

source for both quotes

Barr dismisses the findings as the easy conclusions of a cursory and inconclusive look into what he considers possible, even likely, “bad faith” by the FBI.  It matters not a whit that, as he frankly concedes, he has no basis for saying there was an improper motive for the FBI probe, he just knows it because… God told him.

Indeed.  Remarkably, Trump says exactly the same thing about the latest baseless, sick, illegal witch hunt against him.  Who are you going to believe, a dense 435 page report by a partisan bureaucrat intent on letting his suspiciously error-prone colleagues off the hook or the clear words of the unambiguous leader of the Free World and his top law enforcement official?

If only the Democrats had the spine to impeach Mr. Trump for his seamless pattern of obstruction of justice as well as his many other misdeeds as America’s Top Executive.   Why are the findings of the Mueller Report a dead letter?   Barr said so, unequivocally.   The Democrats, it seems, made a political calculation about the uphill nature of that fight against America’s top lawyer and the impossibility of getting Americans to tune back into that “old news”.  

Too bad impeachment of Barr is off the table, that would be a great show, watching the most dangerous man in America wrestling other lawyers like the snarling, heavyweight, snarling alligator he is.   I’d watch that shit show gavel to gavel.


[1]  Inconvenient facts?  Easily disposed of:

Barr also reiterated his opinion that the FBI did not have enough evidence to open up a full investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 — which diverges from the conclusion reached by Horowitz.

According to the Horowitz report, the FBI investigation — codenamed Crossfire Hurricane — was opened exclusively on a tip to the FBI from an Australian diplomat that George Papadopoulos, then a foreign policy aide on the Trump campaign, had displayed knowledge of a possible plan by the Russians to release information damaging to Hillary Clinton.

In the interview, Barr dismissed Papadopoulos as a “28-year-old campaign volunteer” and suggested that the information he communicated could have been conflated with contemporaneous news reports about Russian hacking.