Obstruction 101

If people are investigating you, to see if you had the intent to obstruct their legal investigation, the first thing you do is block everything they might want to see or hear, anything that could be used against you.

Did you launder money or knowingly do business with international criminals you may still be in business with?   Block access to all of your financial transactions, particularly the shadier ones, like dealings with a bank that loaned you $40,000,000 to make a court-ordered $40,000,000 payment to that same bank.   The second loan was given after you lost in your attempt to avoid repayment to that same bank using a wildly creative, legally implausible interpretation of force majeur (a natural disaster, an “act of God”, that can void a contract).  source    [1]

That’s why we have aggressive lawyers, to tie things up in court for as long as possible.   If the buzzer goes off before the court rules against you– you win.   That’s what winners do, win.

Did your lawyer speak under oath to federal prosecutors and say things that are very damaging?   Perjury may be your only hope, smearing the guy as a perjurer, because the lawyer, and others, like your loyal personal assistant, gave sworn testimony that makes you look guilty of knowingly and deliberately obstructing justice.   Their testimony, if truthful, goes to your clear intent to block the investigation.  If they testify to Congress on television, your ass might well be cooked.   Forbid them to testify by abusing a privilege that could take a year for a court to rule on!   Meantime, call their credibility into question, along with their loyalty.   Nobody the public hates more than a rat.

Are you accused of abusing the tremendous powers of your office?  Double down.   If they can’t prove you’re abusing the powers of your office before the buzzer goes off, you could skate on the whole abuse of power thing.

If your consigliere insists on following the law, say in the matter of recusal, which is triggered by the mere “appearance of impropriety”, humiliate the guy publicly in hopes that he will quit.   If he doesn’t quit, as the heat is turned up on you, simply ask for his resignation.   When he resigns, find more pliable, tough, ruthless hitmen to take a bullet for you.    If you can find a really smart, loyal one with a history of having absolutely no shame, so much the better!   You can ride out anything with someone who is a genius of playing out the clock and covering up evidence for decades!

Of course, you refuse to speak to investigators and answer all written questions “I don’t recall”.  It turns out you can actually read a detailed recent example of this technique, employed by our current US president, here.

The main thing is never to cooperate with somebody with the power to hurt you.  The world is dangerous, everyone can hurt you.   Rule of thumb– don’t give an inch, to anyone, ever.   What are they going to do, impeach you?

 

[1]  from the Trump, Inc. episode linked above:

➧ Deutsche Bank’s private wealth unit loaned Trump $48 million — after he had defaulted on his $640 million loan and the bank’s commercial unit didn’t want to lend him any further funds — so that Trump could pay back another unit of Deutsche Bank. “No one has ever seen anything like it,” said David Enrich, finance editor of The New York Times, who is writing a book about the bank and spoke to Trump, Inc.

To use or not to use the F word

How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,  by Jason Stanley

(book review, or, more accurately, my recommendation of a thought-provoking book I am still reading)

It’s tempting, when a leader panders to ethnic hatred, relies on propaganda and attacks the press as the “enemy of the people”, consolidates power by demanding personal loyalty and threatening all opponents, exhibits excessive cruelty in his policies (like tearing children from the arms of their mothers), defends his actions by constantly attacking enemies he villainizes, rewards loyal cronies by appointing them to key positions they are unqualified for, openly monetizes his office for his own gain, is openly contemptuous of democracy and all law, except when laws can be used against enemies,  is compelled to publicly brag at every opportunity… it’s tempting to call such a leader a fascist.

Fascists, it’s true, also despise intellectuals, reasoned debate, media that is not fawning (and party-controlled), anyone in a position to apply reason and demonstrable facts in an argument opposing the leader’s will.  Dissent is seen as treason in a fascist, one-party state.   Anything not broadcast on the state-run channel is attacked as fake.   Fascists do many of the things our Orange Menace does here, it’s true, but is it correct to call Mr. T a fascist?

Jason Stanley, Jewish egghead know-it-all from Yale [1], son of holocaust survivors, makes an excellent case in his slim, very readable book How Fascism Works.   One can quibble, as some historians apparently have, that some of the economic policies of “classical fascism” are not in play in the USA and therefore… blah blah blah, but Mr. Stanley makes a very compelling case that we are dangerously close to becoming a fascist state, certainly as far as our politics goes.    He goes through ten characteristics of fascist regimes, focusing on fascist politics, and Trump scores beautifully on each of them.  (At the risk of seeming to ape Mr. Trump’s twitter style, I will put each of these characteristics in ALL CAPS)

The philosophy of fascism, if we may call a crude and violent system of coercion like fascism a “philosophy” (Stanley, a philosopher, reasonably takes no position on this) is born in struggle.  An eternal, existential struggle is a necessary element of the fascist worldview.   Like the titanic struggle Mr. Hitler heroically waged, after realizing the Jews were at the root of all evil, decadence and humiliation in Germany, and then overcoming a million enemies and a thousand obstacles to attain the leadership of Germany in order to finish the struggle against Jews and lead a pure Germany for the next thousand years.    Fascism is a philosophy of perpetual heroic war against evil, devious, inhuman enemies that must be eliminated.

Stanley starts with the MYTHIC PAST conjured in every fascist worldview. At one time our nation was great, the myth goes, it had the greatest culture and was glorious and undefeated in war.   Then X destroyed that greatness, by treacherously injecting our culture with fatal weakness.   To make our country great again, we must destroy X, inoculate our people against the residue of their poison, and eliminate anyone who has sympathy toward X and their repellant ideas.

PROPAGANDA is essential to the rise of a fascist state.  Masses have to be convinced of this mythic past and the necessity of a ruthless war to make the nation great again.  The only chapter in Hitler’s Mein Kampf that is not the incoherent blathering of a rabid dog (my words, not Stanley’s) is his shrewd, ruthless analysis of propaganda.   Stanley quotes historian W. E. B. Du Bois, who wrote in a discussion of propaganda in history that once the ideals of historical scholarship, truth and objectivity are bent strictly toward advancing a political goal you have propaganda, not history.   This rewriting, or forced forgetting, of fact-based, inquisitive history is a primary aim of totalitarians.  History itself must be replaced, in a fascist regime, by propaganda.

Stanley writes “political propaganda uses the language of virtuous ideals to unite people behind otherwise objectionable ends.”  He gives the example of Nixon’s “war on crime”, a campaign that concealed the racist intent behind Nixon’s selective (it was the blacks, Nixon believed, the goddamned blacks) crime control policies.  War, whatever reason it is actually waged for, is always couched in stirring, moral terms.  You cannot sell an idea like war without powerful slogans to persuade the public it is morally necessary.

In a commercial, advertising-driven democracy like ours, we are bombarded by a free flow of messages, increasingly so since we began carrying tiny personal computers in our pockets.  It is this free flow of ads and other “content” that gives a repressive ideology a chance to flourish (this is not one of Stanley’s points, but follow me here).   Stanley quotes Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda and public enlightenment, who famously said “this will always remain one of the best jokes of democracy, that it gave its deadly enemies the means by which it was destroyed.”   Goebbels also shrewdly noted (it should be noted), that the Nazis, if they won their war against Jews, would be regarded as history’s greatest benefactors, if they lost, they’d be remembered as the world’s most notorious criminals.  Word, history is written by the victors, in the blood of the vanquished.

Stanley’s third characteristic of fascism is ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM.   Traditionally intellectuals debate each other based on a great deal of reading, citing other intellectual’s studies, theories and conclusions to bolster their arguments.  The free exchange of ideas is essential to intelligent discussion of any problem.  Fascists despise this kind of thing.  In fact, the first thing they do is round up all the eggheads and kill as many as needed to get the cooperative silence they need to have only the fascist point of view heard.

OK, you can say, if you love Mr. Trump, he’s not anti-intellectual, he’s an extremely stable genius who has read many books, or at least one book, and he uses the best words, unbelievable words, and doesn’t rely on bullying anyone who criticizes him.  You get the idea.  

The shamelessly intellectual Jason Stanley, to the great annoyance of people who hate criticism of a great man, keeps quoting other sources, as his type (and mine) always seems to do, in support of his conclusions.   As no less an authority on fascism than Mr. Hitler himself wrote, in Mein Kampf:

All propaganda should be popular and should adapt its intellectual level to the receptive ability of the least intellectual of those whom it is desired to address.  Thus it must sink its mental elevation deeper in proportion to the numbers of the mass whom it has to grip… the receptive ability of the masses is very limited, and their understanding small, on the other hand, they have a great power of forgetting.  This being so, all effective propaganda must be confined to a very few points which must be brought out in the form of slogans. 

Hitler made it clear that the aim of propaganda is to “replace reasoned argument in the public sphere with irrational fears and passions” (Stanley’s words).  Bingo.  Fear of a hoard of illegals who rape, kill, torture, smuggle drugs, hate freedom replaces all reasonable discussion of solutions to a massive refugee crisis that is complicated and difficult to solve.

In terms of “messaging” which of the following resonates more powerfully and is easier to retain as the definitive end of the subject?

“No collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.”

or

“The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

One fits on a T-shirt (or red baseball cap) the other would require you to read hundreds of pages to even know what the fucking long-winded, lawyerly fuck is even talking about.  You choose!

Stanley then moves on to UNREALITY.   Language, traditionally used to clarify and elucidate, is co-opted to serve the needs of the fascist ideology. Words are often repurposed to mean the opposite of what they have always meant.  For example, sonderbehandlung “special handling” used to indicate the delivery of fragile and precious cargo, was stamped on the papers of stateless Jews on their way to Nazi death camps.

You cannot believe, according to a fascist leader, the things you see with your own eyes, these things are recast in some other, more purposeful, way.    Observable facts are rightfully opposed by equally compelling “alternative facts.”   Hannah Arendt points out that a “normal” person in Nazi Germany (normal from any traditional notion of morality), where mass-killing of enemies was considered necessary and highly moral, would have been considered abnormal, immoral enough to lawfully execute.  

In a society where it is normalized to take crying babies from their mother’s arms and lock the kids in cages you compare to “summer camp”, the person who objects to this admittedly tough but necessary measure, is called hysterical and an enemy of freedom.  Unreality becomes the new reality in a fascist state.

As for the famous liberal notion of a “marketplace of ideas” where reason rules and wise opinions vanquish stupid ones, forget that.  “…in politics, and most vividly in fascist politics, language is not used simply, or even chiefly, to convey information but to elicit emotion,” notes Stanley.  “Attempting to counter such rhetoric with reason is akin to using a pamphlet against a gun.”

HIERARCHY is Stanley’s fifth criterion of a fascist state.  Equality of citizens is seen as a ridiculous and destructive myth in fascism, which celebrates strength and despises weakness.   The greatest, chosen because of their clear superiority, lead the fascist state, the citizens follow their leader without question, recognizing the leader’s superiority.  Like the modern corporation, or any bureaucracy, really, accountability flows in one direction only.   Pawns and drones are obliged to obey orders from unaccountable superiors without question, because the person giving the orders is recognized as superior in every sense.  

The notion of human equality, is seen under fascism as a vice of the weak, and an affront to nature, which clearly favors the strong over the weak.  Fascists consider democratic debate, consensus and compromise related vices of the weak, who try to compensate for the fact that they lack the vision and infallible wisdom of the leader by some warped notion of wisdom residing in the memory and values of a community that is responsible for each other. 

One way to make a large mass of burdened people feel better is to assert their innate superiority over another mass of people.   Men are superior to women, whites to blacks, agrarians to urbanites, party members to dissenters.   This little hierarchical trick has worked beautifully for centuries.

Stanley next discusses the essential fascist trope of VICTIMHOOD.  In the fascist worldview the good, blameless people have clearly been victimized by implacable, evil enemies.  Justice demands this be redressed.  These villains should be hanging from lamp posts, from the unabashed fascist point of view.   A victim has every moral right to destroy their longtime abuser.  

I couldn’t help but notice this Hitler-in-the-bunker trope in one of our president’s many angry tweets after the Mueller Report (that totally exonerated him) was released (he is, after all, our Victim-in-Chief):

It is finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even spying and treason!

LAW AND ORDER, is Stanley’s next chapter (I have not read this chapter or beyond yet, though I will soon).  Law and Order, of course, are always things to be selectively applied, to enemies only.    Nixon’s henchman John Erlichmann told an interviewer in 1994 that it was impossible to criminalize being black or opposing Nixon or the Vietnam war, but that it was quite possible to make possession of certain drugs a felony under federal law, and that gave the lawless Mr. Nixon an enormous hammer to wield against his many enemies.  

The first thing Trump did when he announced his run for president was to summarily criminalize immigrants and asylum seekers, calling them rapists and murderers.   Which leads us to Stanley’s next criterion of fascism, sexual anxiety.

SEXUAL ANXIETY is a famous driver of murderous lynch mobs everywhere.   Blacks were often accused of raping white women before they were violently removed from prison, often under the watchful eye of local authorities, tortured and killed.    One wonders why there were virtually no accusations of black male slaves, left on the plantations down south while most of the able-bodied white men were fighting the Civil War, raping the wives and daughters of their owners.   It would be easy to understand their motivation, if such violence had happened.  

The absence of  stories of black on white rape during the war underscores the fallaciousness of most of the rape allegations in the years after the war.  The rape charges routinely used to justify a century of unpunished lynching were the product of the sexual anxiety of the racists who committed these bestial acts and used their own sexual anxieties, and righteous, if irrational, sense of victimhood, to justify them.  

Sexual anxiety, or course, is a patriarchal tic, the product of the same hyper-manly “toxic masculinity” that fascist leaders always project.   Why is intolerance of homosexuality often part of the fascist mindset?   Homophobia, literally a “fear of homosexuals”, always plays a large part in the anxieties of patriarchal types.   Who else is scared of somebody else’s sexual preference?

SODOM and GOMORRAH is Stanley’s next chapter.  This refers to the common fascist myth that cities, like universities not strictly controlled by the one-party state, are hotbeds of degeneracy, sin and potential violence, while the countryside is where true human decency prevails.   Cities that give sanctuary to raping hoards of illegals, tolerate homosexuality and transgender people, worship the false, unnatural ideals of equality and democracy are not reflections of the real values of the people.  

The morality of a nation is rooted in its soil, says the fascist myth, the people who live outside of the morally polluted cities are the truly great citizens, denizens of cities are hopelessly corrupt and need to be kept in check, punished.

ARBEIT MACHT FREI  is Stanely’s final chapter.   It is the logical extension of fascist ideology.   Your enemies have been stealing from and undermining the good people for generations, now it is time to turn them into slave laborers.   The name of the chapter is taken from the notorious sign that was worked into the top of the iron gates of the Auschwitz death/work camp. It meant “work liberates”. One of the most famous Nazi practical jokes, that slogan.  

Vernichtung durch Arbeit (extermination through work); i.e., hard labor until death, was an integral part of the Nazi extermination scheme.   Might as well generate capital from the labor of these vicious people you were exterminating, while you worked them to death.   The arbeit macht frei myth/lie reinforced the importance of unquestioning work for the benefit of the most important members of society.   If work could also liberate by enslaving and working your enemies to death?  Win win.

As the child of people whose parents’ entire generation was wiped off the face of the earth by fascists in the space of a few months in 1942, I don’t take any of these signs lightly.   The shit all lines up a little bit too symmetrically.  All indications are that Trump would love to be a fascist dictator, and that he’s pretty close already, with unquestioned support from a lock-step political party, an ideological mass media megaphone/echo chamber  and a sizable part of our population.    

If a leader who is openly contemptuous of law, and has always used the courts to avoid any liability for his many dishonest schemes, is not held accountable by the laws that govern democracy, we are already at the end of the joke Goebbels so enjoyed about democracy providing the means to achieve a fascist state.   If “politics” are nervously invoked by the timid and divided opposition party who fear strengthening a leader they claim belongs in prison, leaving the decision to the voters a year and a half from now rather than using the law to hold him to account, we are already very close to the end of our long experiment in democracy.

If the law is not enforced against unscrupulous people “too big to indict”, out of fear of electoral or other repercussions, we should just resign ourselves to the inevitable.   Line up, get our tattoos, and get into whatever cattle car they send for us to take us wherever they decide we need to end up.  

We have laws that can stop these determined, ruthless motherfuckers, there is no good choice but to use them.  Now.

Meantime, read Jason Stanley’s book, if you need any further convincing on the need to act.

 

[1] I can say this without fear, because I am a Jewish egghead know-it-all from the City College of NY.  Fuck off, Nazis.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President, sir

It is not often, if ever, in history that our president is born on June 14th, Flag Day.  We finally have such a man as the CEO of our great nation.  What better day for an American president to be born!   Happy birthday, sir!

No president in history (with the possible exception of Andrew Jackson, an unbelievable populist who did unbelievable things with slavery and Indian removal) has ever made good on as many campaign promises as you have.  In spite of so many sick, criminal traitors dogging you at every step.

You promised us all an unbelievable health care system, cheaper and better than what your Kenyan-born secret Muslim predecessor tried to foist on America.    You delivered.   Americans no longer need to live in fear of going bankrupt to receive treatment for life threatening medical conditions.    You are the man!

You promised unbelievable tax breaks, and you delivered them!

You promised to protect us from the hordes of raping, murdering, thieving illegals from disgusting places like Mexico.   Although the great WALL you promised is still under construction, in spite of its being sabotaged all along by open borders traitors, you have nonetheless done unbelievable things at the southern border.  Your incarceration of thousands of illegal children grabbed from their “parents” is but one unbelievably great thing you’ve done down there.   Way to show those criminal fucks who’s boss, sir!  (We all know that “asylum” is just Spanish slang for “we want to rape your precious white children”!)

You gave us a solid, loyal right-wing Supreme Court majority!   And a record number of Federalist Society-vetted ideologically pure federal judges for life.   A grateful nation of unborn embryos (as well as captains of industry) salutes you, sir!

Whatever your many enemies constantly say about you, sir, and most of it can be dismissed as the partisan BULLSHIT that it is, you are an unbelievable winner and they are unbelievable, complete and total losers!   You will fight until everybody is dead, which is why so many people love you!

Happy birthday, my man!  Many, many more!

Who is John Dean and why are Trump and FOX attacking him so hard?

Americans are famously, and tragically, uncurious about history and placing anything that happens today into any kind of historical context.   My own beloved Sekhnet tells me frequently that she always hated history class in school.  We attribute that to bad teachers giving her crap history books to read.   Anytime she sees a great documentary about the past, she finds it fascinating.  The past is fascinating.

John Dean testified the other day, and was slammed as a perjurer by Republicans intent on shutting him up about whatever he had to say about the parallels between Nixon’s downfall and what is coming for the even more openly corrupt and disdainful Trump.    One angry Judiciary Committee member hammered Dean at length about his perjury as an intro to his main point: who can believe a convicted liar like you, Dean?   How dare you come here and lie again, trying to bring down the greatest American president in history?!!!  

History, again.   Whatever this Trump thing is, it’s not a great president.

At the start of the Watergate investigation that led to Nixon’s resignation, John Dean committed perjury to obstruct justice, to defend Nixon, a man he knew to be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, a man he’d advised to come clean.  He lied to protect his boss, he was a loyal soldier.   Then the feds flipped him.   

In Trumpworld rather than a penitent truth-teller, John Dean became a rat.   John Dean, the fucking rat, brought down the Nixon presidency by telling the truth, after lying to protect him.   How can America trust a goddamned rat like that?

Here’s a short article that will give you the bones of what fucking rat John Dean did and how it ended in a corrupt president being forced to resign in disgrace.  You wouldn’t want somebody like Don McGahn getting any ideas from an article like this!

Braying, strutting and attacking sometimes impresses the weak

I just watched a Republican Congressman named Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) angrily hector John Dean, who was in Congress yesterday to testify about the mechanics and progression of the 1973 Nixon impeachment.   He upbraided Dean without pause and spent some time emphasizing that Dean was a convicted perjurer.   Dean had lied under oath to obstruct justice in order to protect his boss and himself, before he signed an immunity deal to testify truthfully against Nixon.  The short intro to John Dean is that perjured himself while obstructing justice to defend Nixon before becoming a “rat” for the feds, not a very rosy thing for Trump supporters to consider at this moment. 

Jordan had good reason to avoid the details of what Dean had lied about — he harped on Dean’s perjury to undermine anything Dean might have to say.  How could anyone trust a man who had already been convicted of perjury?   Why should anyone listen to a known, convicted liar.   The real scandal, Jordan thundered finally, is that the Judiciary Committee is not investigating why the Russia election meddling investigation was started in the first place.   (This is a Republican talking point, say what you want about ’em, they stay on message).   

Think about that for a second.   Jordan angrily interrupted Jerald Nadler when he spoke after Jordan’s time was up.  Nadler was chiding Jordan, and admonishing the rest of the Republicans, that he would not tolerate anyone casting aspersions of the witness.  Jordan behaved like bullies always behave, angrily interrupted Nadler to insist that he’d cast no aspersions on the goddamned liar and then yelled  “you’re wrong!” when Nadler again said that he’d cast aspersions on John Dean.   If you want to feel a little sick to your stomach (or be inspired, if you wear a red MAGA hat)  watch the exchange for yourself.

To answer Jordan’s central point: the investigation began because there was a strong appearance that Russia coordinated with members of the Trump campaign and actively meddled in the 2016 election to try to get Trump elected.  Mueller provided ample evidence of these things in his report (what he could not prove were all the elements of criminal conspiracy). 

In a democracy, a foreign adversary’s ability to influence an electoral outcome, particularly in a presidential election, is seen as bad, something to make sure doesn’t happen again.   That is why it has to be investigated when there are multiple signs it may have happened.   When an FBI director is fired, legally, because he won’t close down an investigation that could compromise or undermine the president’s legitimacy (a corrupt purpose for the  firing), it is entirely reasonable to begin an independent  investigation. 

Mueller, a lifelong Republican, ultimately protected the president with obscure legalistic language that did many double negative contortions not to not provide conclusions that were not unharmful to POTUS, even as he found massive Russian interference, many involvements with the campaign and indicted a bunch of Russians for their role in it.  He took a last public opportunity to warn again of the danger of more Russian interference in the 2020 election.  The Mueller report describes something like 140 documented instances of coordination between the Russians and people in Trump’s campaign.  But that means nothing to the team that controls the Senate and the veto.

Jim Jordan ended his session with one giant, already asked and answered rhetorical question for John Dean (barked out to impress the audience of one all Republicans seem to be playing to):  why isn’t the judiciary committee investigating the origins of the partisan Mueller witch hunt?  (which, paradoxically, according to the unintendedly ironic lawyerly arguments of Bill Barr, basically exonerated the president).  Barr’s DOJ, by the way, is supposedly investigating the origins of this traitorous Deep State conspiracy against Trump.

Let’s take a step back.   Why do people fight counter-factually, irrationally like that?  To win.   Winning is the only point of being in it, this type believes, if you’re not in it to win, you’re a loser.   There is no more important value than winning, and if you believe there are other factors to consider, other values, it just proves you’re a loser.  People who compromise are weak, they’re suckers, ultimately losers.   We play hardball and we win, we won,  you lost, fuck off and die, loser!   Nice game, asshole.

This attitude is childish and destructive in the way an angry child’s tantrum can turn deadly if the enraged kid has easy access to a deadly weapon.  Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe how you play the game and your sportsmanship (as it was called in the old sexist days) is more important than being willing to do anything, including cheating, to win.   

I’m not saying Trump cheated to win, but I’m not saying he didn’t not cheat.  If I had confidence that he didn’t not cheat, I would so state.   We simply have no ironclad, bullet-proof, beyond a reasonable doubt proof either way, outside of the reasonable doubt provided by his abrasive, defensive personality and the lies he tells daily, the thousands he has told since becoming president.  To which, to be fair, Republicans have a good answer:

“NOTHING ILLEGAL ABOUT THAT!!!  NO LAW AGAINST A PRESIDENT CONSTANTLY LYING, NO LAW, YOU FUCKING COMMIE FUCK!   PROVE ITS A CRIME TO LIE WHEN YOU’RE NOT UNDER OATH, AND YOU HAVE EVIDENCE, SMOKING GUN EVIDENCE, AND PROOF THAT HE TOOK AN ACTUAL LEGALLY BINDING OATH BEFORE ANY OF HIS SO-CALLED LIES!!!!  YOU GOT NOTHING!!!   WE WIN!”

And let me also say, there is nothing untoward, unethical or illegal about having a team of quants create algorithms to pinpoint exactly how many districts in swing states must be won in order to win the all-important Electoral College vote.  It’s a smart thing to do, in a system like ours, designed to be overseen by those who know the importance of compromise with slaveholders.   

The Trump team engineered the Electoral College victory brilliantly, on behalf of Mr. Trump and billionaire math genius Robert Mercer, a former Lyin’ Ted Cruz supporter, who likely organized, funded and oversaw the effort.  The 78,000 votes needed in those four states were targeted brilliantly and achieved the aim of winning the needed Electoral College votes.   Game over, Trump president, whatever the homosexuals and transexuals in California and New York may think about the “popular vote” they rigged by showing up, along with those millions of dead Mexican “voters”.  Nothing illegal or unethical about Trump’s  win, nothing whatsoever.   

Sometimes it is helpful to see political and historical disputes in the context of personal clashes we experience.  I recently found myself in an alarming situation with an old friend who is suddenly enraged at me, implacably so.    The only real cause I could find, after trying to figure out where this stream of angry attacks was really coming from, is that this fellow has low self-esteem which is, apparently, enflamed by my smug sense of maturity.   That’s the same kind of thing that plagues Donald Trump every time he erupts into his rages.   

Because an “inferiority complex” always makes the sufferer feel at an unfair disadvantage in the world, for whatever reason, they attack.   It makes them feel strong, proactive, vital and masculine to punch, kick and scream at those they feel belittle them.   I recall days before I started questioning my own frequent anger when the adrenalized, righteous fury I felt was a kind of drug.   A very addictive drug.  It’s exhilarating to feel righteous and aggressively fighting your abuser.  Not a good long-term strategy for living a calmer, better life with others, but certainly an appealing option in the short-term.

The personality profile of someone who feels like a “loser” usually includes collecting grievances, assembling an airtight prosecutorial case against anyone  who, for whatever reason (or sometimes no reason that survives any scrutiny) makes them feel worse about themself, and going on the attack, armed with this list of unforgivable offenses.      A person who feels shame and humiliation is often ripe for manipulation by people who play to their sense of injustice.

Unscrupulous demagogues find fertile ground in the shame and humiliation of their audience.  These beaten people need something to galvanize their resistance to unbearably painful emotions about themselves.    Hitler was famous for his insistence that Germany had been humiliated, “stabbed in the back”, by ruthless, cunning  Jews who orchestrated the undefeated German army’s capitulation at the end of what was then called The Great War.   Yelling to crowds of unemployed, hopeless, angry, desperate, impoverished, shame-filled Germans he gave them a potent, intoxicating sense that he would make Germany great again, avenge this Jewish betrayal once and for all, that the enemies of Germany would be hanging from lamp posts, etc. 

It wouldn’t be like me not to add that Mr. Hitler won approximately the same percentage of electoral support, less than 40% of the German voting public, at the Nazi party’s electoral peak,  as Mr. Trump won and keeps, using a similar strategy of manfully exploiting the psychological vulnerabilities of his audience.   

You feel hopeless and betrayed, and ashamed, because your job is gone.  It’s nothing personal, on one level, there are millions in the same boat as you, but still, it hurts a lot.   Global corporations have no allegiance to country, they make things wherever workers can be hired most inexpensively, or automate away your job, to increase their profit margin.   This is good business for investor returns and the corporate bottom line, bad for workers who have to try to find several shit jobs to replace the lost decently paying ones that are never coming back to America, no matter how great Trump makes America again.   

It makes you angry, as it should [1], that nobody is watching out for you, that people with obscene wealth are taking your job and shitting on your life because they can.  No reason on earth not to be angry about that.  Who did that to me, goddamn it?!!  I would like to punch them in their fucking smug faces!

Enter Trump, with every reason you could want for your anger.  He fingers the real culprits to the appreciative roar of the crowd at his perpetual campaign rallies.

Fucking Mexicans, Muslims, Democrats, you see, they’re all in on it, they’re in it with the so-called transexuals and the homosexuals that Jesus Christ Himself abhors.  And turncoat Republicans like Mueller who is a disgrace and a traitor, no matter that he totally exonerated me.  And freedom-hating scientists who claim all the burning fossil fuel and massive deforestation and the meat industry are increasing carbon in the atmosphere, fuck those lying communist hacks too.   Oh, yes, and the blacks and hispanics are out of control, completely out of control, American cities are war zones, total disasters, in addition to being Sodom and Gomorrah.   Mobs of traitors and enemies of the people are trying to organize to illegally overthrow the greatest winner our country has ever had as president.   A man with, by the way, by far, the largest penis of any American president, a whopping male member the size of all previous presidential penises combined.  Prove any of that’s not true, you disloyal treasonous, traitor fucks!

I know you are, but what am I?

 

[1   The only good use for anger is as motivation.  Like a sharp pain that sends you to a doctor who diagnoses the problem your body is trying to tell you about with the pain.   Anger is a huge subject, of course, and among the most important to consider, but fuck trying to go into that any further in this footnote, yo. 

A few thoughts from Mueller’s Volume II summary of the obstruction case (he refrained from making) against the president

Here are some of Mueller’s own carefully chosen words, from his executive summary of Volume II — Obstruction of Justice.   I have broken them into smaller paragraphs, and inserted comments, to aid in the mastication and digestion of a few key points.

Overarching factual issues. We did not make a traditional prosecution decision about these facts,

Because, according to Mueller, regulations obliged him to obey the OLC opinion about not indicting a sitting president and fairness prevented charging him when the president would have no opportunity to immediately clear his good name,

but the evidence we obtained supports several general statements about the President’s conduct.

Several features of the conduct we investigated distinguish it from typical obstruction-of-justice cases.

First, the investigation concerned the President, and some of his actions, such as firing the FBI director, involved facially lawful acts within his Article II authority, which raises constitutional issues discussed below.

At the same time, the President’s position as the head of the Executive Branch provided him with unique and powerful means of influencing official proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses—all of which is relevant to a potential obstruction-of-justice analysis.

Second, unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.

Although the obstruction statutes do not require proof of such a crime, the absence of that evidence affects the analysis of the President’s intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct.

It was this second point that Bill Barr chose as the center of his supremely lawyerly but plainspoken talking points, his best (and only) grounds for defending Trump against the weight of the evidence in the Mueller Report.   

According to Barr, Mueller “acknowledged” that the President had been “angry and frustrated” about the unfair investigation of an innocent man– and so his “intent” — a key to obstruction and criminal conspiracy as well, cannot, according to Barr,  be proven to be corrupt, or obstructive, beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law– therefore— since any innocent man would have, arguably, acted the same way the president did:   NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

Third, many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view.

That circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws.

If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system’s integrity is the same.  

Every time details of Trump’s pattern of acts to thwart investigation into himself and his administration emerge, the public groans “we heard that one already!  He tweeted it!”.   FOX thunders “old news!  already litigated!”     Here Mueller reminds America that the many likely obstructive acts detailed in his report are no less obstructive if done by tweet.

Although the series of events we investigated involved discrete acts, the overall pattern of the President’s conduct towards the investigations can shed light on the nature of the President’s acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent.

In particular, the actions we investigated can be divided into two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the President’s motives.

The first phase covered the period from the President’s first interactions with Comey through the President’s firing of Comey. During that time, the President had been repeatedly told he was not personally under investigation.

Mueller writes briefly about the original investigation, based on allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, and triggered by the firing of FBI director James Comey when he wouldn’t let the “Flynn thing” go, and then the need to expand it when the president began actively trying to thwart the investigation at every turn. 

This is the crux of Mueller’s unspoken (but carefully laid out) case against Trump– willful and ongoing obstruction of all legal investigations involving him.   Trump’s furious response to the investigations kicked into higher gear once the Special Counsel was appointed to conduct his “witch hunt.”

Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry.

At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.

Judgments about the nature of the President’s motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence.

The totality of the evidence looks pretty bad here, if you add it all up, and points to an unwavering and corrupt intent to obstruct legal process, a felony.   

The number of close associates of the president who were fired, who quit, resigned, were implicated in unethical behavior, indicted, convicted, locked up, the many ongoing (and redacted) investigations into Unindicted Donald and numerous associates, do not appear to be factors in the presumed-innocent president’s favor.  Nor does his blanket, openly contemptuous refusal to obey any and all subpoenas and his standing order to everyone with pertinent information not to speak to Congress.  

Or, we can go with Bill Barr’s generous, loyal, exculpatory view:   

The president’s motive was, as Mueller himself “acknowledged,” that the president was (righteously) angry and frustrated, which anyone would have been in the president’s position, particularly if they knew they were innocent.  The president, said Barr, has been proven as innocent, of everything, as viciously villainized pious Christian girls’ basketball coach and scrupulously fair Justice Boof Kavanaugh himself, unfairly besieged on every side by enraged, irrational partisan spies and traitors, funded by a cabal of wealthy extreme leftwing freedom haters,  who don’t base their actions on fact and reason, but on irrational hatred of a good and unfairly, illegally, attacked man whose only crime is trying to restore lost greatness to our divided nation.  As Jesus Christ Himself desires, most ardently.

Here is  Mueller’s immediate written reaction to Barr’s purposeful misinterpretation of the findings of his investigation, which Barr only withheld from public view for less than a month, while he pressed on with his false and misleading narrative about Mueller’s findings.  In common language Mueller’s short letter boils down to: dude, why are you lying?

You decide which side of the scale the totality of the evidence that Trump obstructed (and continues to obstruct) justice comes down on, now that you’ve considered both sides.   You have a strong summary denial, on one side, and hundreds of pages of sworn testimony and doggedly uncovered unflattering facts on the other.  

And more than a thousand former federal prosecutors, from both parties, signing a letter that asserts the obvious: but for the fact that this man is the president, he’d have been indicted on several counts already, based on the evidence that Mueller laid out.

As for who is to make the final determination on holding a colorably corrupt president accountable to the rule of law, Mueller wrote:

The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of the office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.

Public Service Announcement

To make it as easy as possible to understand the necessity for holding our unaccountable rogue president accountable, in the only constitutional way remaining, I provide three links.   

The first is a two minute clip that shows how radically public opinion can change as more information is provided live on TV.   It goes on to a short, compelling presentation of the importance, in a democracy, of nobody being above the law.   It’s cued up for you here.

Few Americans are going to read a 448 page report to decide if Trump deserves to be impeached or not.   Here is the summary Bob Mueller prepared for Bill Barr to release, a day or two before Barr wrote his own “summary” that spun the findings “no collusion, no obstruction, basically exoneration.”  Scroll down to Volume Two on obstruction, the cover-up.  A ten or fifteen minute read that will reward your time by fleshing out the evidence and giving you hope about justice ultimately prevailing.    It also contains some fascinating details and is a very easy read.  

The third item to consider is Mueller’s remarkable one page letter to Barr, his boss.  It was written in response to Barr’s deliberate public distortions of Mueller’s findings and politely but firmly says “what the fuck?  You are fucking lying, dude!”

Here is a copy of the letter on FOX News.   Ooops.  Nothing to see here, but spin (you can actually read it, but you have to figure out how).

Here is a direct link to Mueller’s March 27 letter to Barr, written as soon as Barr started publicly distorting the substance and findings of the Mueller report. 

A concerned citizen doing what he can to keep fellow citizens informed by facts, rather than enflamed by inflammatory talking points repeated over and over and over.