A tranche of “nothing to see” in Mueller report

Robert Mueller, in the Volume II executive summary, after giving summaries of numerous shady dealings the president had with subordinates, using the power of his office, and his gigantic personality, to intimidate, pressure, attack, cajole, offer pardons, etc. (I offer but one example), writes this (emphasis mine):

Conduct involving Michael Cohen. The President’s conduct towards Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive, changed from praise for Cohen when he falsely minimized the President’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, to castigation of Cohen when he became a cooperating witness. From September 2015 to June 2016, Cohen had pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project on behalf of the Trump Organization and had briefed candidate Trump on the project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia to advance the deal. In 2017, Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the project, including stating that he had only briefed Trump on the project three times and never discussed travel to Russia with him, in an effort to adhere to a “party line” that Cohen said was developed to minimize the President’s connections to Russia. While preparing for his congressional testimony, Cohen had extensive discussions with the President’s personal counsel, who, according to Cohen, said that Cohen should “stay on message” and not contradict the President. After the FBI searched Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the President publicly asserted that Cohen would not “flip,” contacted him directly to tell him to “stay strong,” and privately passed messages of support to him. Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message he would be taken care of. But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a “rat,” and suggested that his family members had committed crimes.

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

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. 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.

In other words, NOTHING TO SEE HERE!!!

Don’t go for the head fakes! Keep your eye on the ball.

We have the report right here, summarized by the investigator, in clear, easy to read prose.   Read the summary of Volume II.   It is not long, and is very lightly redacted (harm to ongoing matters– things still under investigation by other authorities).   Then you will know exactly what Mueller found.   He gives example after example of acts by the president that meet all the legal requirements for obstruction of justice:  criminal intent, an obstructive act and a nexus to a proceeding.

You can read exactly what Mueller found, or go for the clumsy head fake of the pathetic, porcine puppet who lied and distorted the findings.  Barr told America (and the world) that Trump had fully cooperated with the investigation and gave unfettered access to all requested materials.   He said this even though Trump’s lawyers had him answer Mueller’s interrogatories with the standard “I don’t recall” 38 times  in his written answers, refused to answer follow-up written questions, refused to be interviewed by Mueller, as if Trump had not made several attempts to fire Mueller, had not constantly attacked Mueller and the investigation and mocked it as a partisan witch hunt, continually.   A small oversight by the pathetic porcine puppet, it appears, done, one supposes, to color the perception of the lazy American public, a public always willing to have confirmed for them what we already believe.   This Mueller witch hunt report is the work of traitorous Commies trying to bring down the greatest president in American history!

Take a look at the fixed, uneasy expression on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s face, standing behind the pathetic porcine puppet as Trump’s loyal consigliere A.G. explains live on worldwide television why this damning report contains nothing to see here.

You can read the details, set out in black and white, and make your own decision about how damaging this is to Trump or wring your hands about the political optics of impeaching an openly corrupt president who projectile shits on every norm, and thrills a large number, a solid 39% of Americans, by doing so.   It could hurt Democrats in 2020!!  It could backfire, like the Clinton blow job impeachment did for Republicans in 1996!!!   This impeachment is about defending the rule of law as it applies to a Unitary Executive, even one as infallible as our current POTUS.

The only thing to fear is this president not being held accountable for countless cruel, stupid and corrupt acts done with the powers of the most powerful office in the world.  I am encouraged as momentum gathers among elected Democrats to hear what all the witnesses to the president’s attempts to obstruct justice have to say, to subpoena relevant documents, to press on with holding this never-accountable deadbeat winner accountable, finally.  Even Speaker Pelosi, (I call her Nancy), has started to come around, saying now that impeachment is “on the table” if the facts lead us there.

I love what Elizabeth Warren had to say about impeachment.  It is a matter of principle, beyond political calculation, if we are to defend our democratic tradition. Let the American people hear all the facts (like who is involved in the 12 criminal investigations Mueller handed off– every one of which has been redacted by the pathetic porcine puppet).   Hold hearings, on television.   Then let the Republicans, one after another, have to decide which way to vote, after hearing the overwhelming evidence of the president’s guilt.  

In the face of mounting public sentiment that the case against the man has been shown conclusively, let them pretend he is still innocent.   If they stand up and vote to acquit Trump, after making a political calculus, it will be a vote they will carry, like a scarlet letter, for the rest of their lives.   Good for them!

fueled by partisan outrage

It’s worth taking a closer look at what the pathetic porcine puppet said during his forty minute spin session on national TV before he released the redacted Mueller report on the investigation into Trump’s alleged misconduct.  Let’s take this part of his long statement apart, it’s rich in inventive detail.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability.

Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks.   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.

President Trump faced an unprecedented situation, Mr. Barr points out sympathetically.  Just because Mr. Trump was constantly sending out angry tweets that made him look guilty, changing his story constantly, repeatedly lying, raging, acting like a guilty man, he was unfairly attacked by his enemies.

Fair enough.

Also, there was this vicious inquiry into his associates, very few of whom were actually indicted and convicted of serious crimes.  These crimes, outside of the financial ones, were crimes of loyalty to the president, in the cases where only a small handful of his closest former associates lied to Congress and the FBI.   Can you really even call lying out of loyalty a  crime?   Just because some of his closest advisors are heading to prison, and others cooperated with the investigation in exchange for staying out of prison, is no reason to believe there is anything dirty or unethical about the president himself.

There was no collusion.  Fair enough.  Mr. Trump’s personal style is chaos, he is not a collaborative leader, he does not listen to advisors or work well with others.  His mother once noted with a chuckle that little Donald never played well with other kids, he always played to win, even in the playroom, even against his baby brother.

Here is my favorite part, a completely meaningless piece of lawyerly bullshit:

And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks.

OK, Mueller provided ample evidence (much of it seen in real time by every American not turning away in horror from all media coverage of this unique president) that Mr. Trump was sincerely frustrated and angry.   Now we know, informed by Mr. Barr, that Trump’s belief was sincere that they couldn’t lay a finger on him because he was innocent, innocent, innocent!  

So his anger was righteous anger, according to Barr, similar to Boof Kavanaugh’s righteous, perfectly understandable rip-snorting, tearful temper tantrum when confronted with  credible testimony describing how he, while a blackout drunk in an elite Catholic prep school, had traumatized at least one teenaged girl while he was in a drunken state.    That allegation was thoroughly investigated in five days by the FBI and, naturally, no corroboration of the woman’s story was found among the small handful of people interviewed by the FBI.   Nothing to see there, unless you are fueled by pent-up rage over being a loser!

Since the president sincerely knew the  Mueller investigation was totally unfair, a witch hunt, knew that he was totally blameless, perhaps the most blameless president in history, he was absolutely right and morally entitled to be frustrated and angry, according to Barr who says that Mueller “acknowledged” all this.  

What?   Get the fuck out of here.

Mueller was, according to Barr, working for the president’s political opponents, even though Mueller belongs to the same political party as the president and the president’s party was in power when Mueller was appointed– and they oversaw his investigation.

I guess Barr’s point was that since Trump sincerely believed he was completely innocent he would have had to have been Jesus Christ himself not to react in frustration and rage, on a several times a day basis, at all the speculation in the press about how guiltily he was acting.   How would YOU feel if YOU were totally innocent and subjected to that kind of vicious, partisan witch hunt?  And the media would not shut up about it!!!  Wouldn’t you instruct your people to shut that shit down, if you had the power to ?!!! Sure you would.

Last bit of great shit from the pathetic, porcine puppet:

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.

This statement is what used to be called a lie, since it asserts things that are not, strictly speaking, true.  The White House merely refused to answer follow-up written questions from the Mueller team, after the president’s lawyers submitted incomplete written answers (that Trump claimed, ludicrously, to have “written” himself)  the first time.   The White House legal team (of which Barr is now, unaccountably, a member) made it clear that they would not let Trump, a habitual, reflexive,well-documented liar, walk into a “perjury trap” by talking to Mueller (taking the lesson of what happened to perjurer slick Willie Clinton, a much more sophisticated, articulate man– and a trained lawyer–  than the smartest president in human history, the man we have now).  The access was fettered, to say the least.

Meanwhile, the president was continually ordering subordinates to bend or break the law, to stifle the investigation and create the public perception that Mueller had absolutely no grounds to pursue his partisan inquiry into a president who, among other suspicious official acts, innocently met with Vladimir Putin twice, alone, with only a translator, and ordered the American translator to destroy his notes of the meeting he translated.  Nothing to fucking see here!

That’s what the pathetic porcine puppet would call full transparency.  The president was sincere in his belief that he could get away with it.   And he did!   Proving, as always, that Mr. Trump’s sincere belief is the best measure of everything in his world, a world the rest of us just live in.

Pathetic porcine puppet

 

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

Robert Mueller III, end of his executive summary of Obstruction of Justice findings   (read entire unredacted summary here)

William Barr (the titular “pathetic porcine puppet”, in the accurate, alliterative phrase tweeted by constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe), current U.S. Attorney General, our nation’s recently appointed top law enforcement official, pretends that Mueller concluded no such thing.  His spin is an evidence-avoiding counter-conclusion that pleases the boss, at whose pleasure Barr serves, the only thing a loyal consigliere must consider, how to protect the boss no matter what.               

All Barr had for the American public was “nothing to see here” and the indignant opinion that the president was absolutely right to feel “frustrated, angry” and under attack by a politically motivated investigation that found “nothing to see here.”  In addition, the president was betrayed by a long succession of disloyal rats, their leaks fueling the baseless investigation.    Here is what he said in his long, public address to all Americans prior to releasing the report, this was apparently the money shot:

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability.

Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks. [1]  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.

Mueller, you will see, found many troubling things about our angry, frustrated, traitor-betrayed president’s actions over the last two years.  You can read the highlights for yourself in the virtually un-redacted summary here.

There have always been Americans, often the greatest beneficiaries of the unfair status quo, who believe the president should be an all-powerful ruler.   The theory of the Unitary Executive has been put forward, by people like the aptly named Dick Cheney, as an argument that a democracy needs a strong chief executive whose powers cannot be unduly restrained by elected officials in Congress or political appointees in the judiciary branch.  

In practice this “theory” comes from the reasonable fear that the will of a unilaterally ideological president could be counteracted, even hamstrung, by other elected representatives, by judges, absent the special privileges of the Unitary Executive.   It would be disastrous for the interests of the ultra-privileged if poor, despised Americans could vote in huge numbers, in fair elections, to elect people to represent their interests, instead of the interests of the organized super-wealthy who currently fund the election of our presidents.   History shows it’s easier to elect one cynical bought and paid for corrupt fucker than the many needed to control Congress (though, clearly, most of them are for sale too).

The Unitary Executive is good for things like unilaterally dismantling social programs that don’t benefit the rich, removing protections to small investors, consumers, vulnerable earthlings trying to breathe and eat food that is not poisoned.   The Unitary Executive is the counter-theory to “checks and balances”.   The president, under this view, is closer to a king, dictator, strongman or a CEO who also owns the company and has his children/heirs as the board of directors, than to the presidency envisioned by our founding fathers and embodied in the presidency of George Washington, setting the tone for a president bound by law and norms, a cooperative executive carrying out the democratically expressed will of the people, decorously.

This toxic orange turd who presently occupies the Oval Office is a big believer in the theory that he should have the final word on everything that happens in the nation that swept him into power with a historic mandate of around 80,000 electoral college votes.   Otherwise, it’s unfair to him and bad for democracy!    He gets frustrated and angry, as his current attorney general said defending his master’s indefensible attempts to end a lawful inquiry into his overtly suspicious and corrupt-appearing dealings, when people he attacks attack him back.  How dare they?!!!  He is the president, not them!!!

Like one of history’s most famous insane dictators, a man who would have celebrated his 120th birthday yesterday, had he not brought ruin and shame to his nation and almost destroyed it before poisoning his wife and dog and blowing his own brains out, Mr. Trump demands absolute personal loyalty from the people he hires.   Mr. Hitler required an oath of personal loyalty to himself, not to Germany, not to the German constitution.  Many were glad and proud to give that loyalty oath, many others were killed for not giving that oath, for not honoring it no matter what.   Tyrants and mobsters have no patience for “rats”.  A rat is a rat is a rat.

The Unitary Executive can order subordinates to violate the law with no fear of consequences (while in office, anyway).  The Department of Justice has issued two opinions, one in 1973 the other in 2000, that the sitting president cannot be the subject of a criminal prosecution.   The second of these DOJ opinions was written after Bill Clinton was tried, during his presidency, for violating a federal statute about workplace harassment when, as governor of Arkansas, he allegedly tried to get an employee to have sex with him.  

The devilish detail there was that it was not a strictly criminal or civil trial but an alleged violation of a federal law, which is why the Supreme Court denied Clinton’s attempt to not stand trial while president.  

Clinton quietly paid the plaintiff a ton of money to end the case against him.   Painted as a slippery, lying bastard during that prosecution, he was then forced into a corner, under oath, by a partisan Independent Counsel, about blow jobs he received in the Oval Office and impeached for perjury when he tried to weasel out of publicly admitting a young intern had fellated him.   For the good of the country, and the protection of future presidents, the DOJ decided again, as they had in 1973, that sitting presidents should not be put on trial, except by the Senate following articles of impeachment from the House.

The founding fathers, who extreme conservatives are fond of citing as secular prophets similar in stature to the divinely inspired men who wrote the Bible, wisely designed a government of three co-equal branches, to prevent any one branch from imposing tyranny on the country.  A system of checks and balances, it is often called.  

The president is the executive who carries out legislation reflecting the will of the People, expressed through their elected representatives, with the safeguard (created by Justice John Marshall in an early Supreme Court decision) of a Supreme Court to decide, unappealably, whether the challenged law complies with our Constitution.

Now we come to William Barr, our current Attorney General, Laurence Tribe’s “pathetic porcine puppet.”   Tribe added that Barr’s partisan behavior as Attorney General has been shameful.   His lying, wildly spinning introduction of the redacted Mueller report was disgraceful.

Barr openly auditioned  (skip to section below the illustration in the link for details) for the job by publicly offering to do the equivalent for Mr. Trump of what Monica Lewinsky had done for Mr. Clinton.   He wrote a nineteen page legal memo and sent it to Trump.  The memo stated (falsely) that as a matter of law a president cannot obstruct justice.  The memo described exactly how Barr would defend the president, come what may.   He also wrote several op-eds supporting some of the president’s more grotesque, and legally dubious, policies.

The point is, even if William Barr were not a corpulent corporatist (and I’m not one to call a fat bastard fat) even if he was a thin, dapper, handsome man, he would still be a pathetic porcine puppet.   He made it clear to our simple-minded, if cunning, president, that he’d be happy to have POTUS’s hand up his ass and let the president do whatever the president needed done to carry out his historically important work.   Personal loyalty, uber alles.

Barr could have released Mueller’s entire executive summary the same day he put out his summary letter (that he later denied had been a summary) stating that Mueller had cleared the president of all wrong-doing.   Mueller’s executive summary of his investigation ends with these lines (and again, barely a phrase of Mueller’s summary needed to be redacted by the pathetic porcine puppet):

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

CONCLUSION

Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. 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.

(emphasis mine.   From Mueller’s excellent, clear, short summary of Volume II on obstruction which I urge you to read in its entirety here)

 

Barr could have released Mueller’s entire executive summary the same day he put out his misleading, distracting, falsely exonerating, non-summary summary– again, virtually NOTHING in the summary was redacted by the loyal, pathetic, porcine puppet (I counted 4 redactions, “harm to ongoing matters” in Part I and 3 such redactions in Part II).  Bill Barr, and I say this with all due respect, is a fucking disgrace to the law and to our tradition of democracy.   Makes Jeff Sessions (a weasel too racist to be appointed to the federal bench, imagine how racist that is!) look like a man of integrity, a man with at least nominal respect for the norms of American democracy.

Read the executive summary of the obstruction case against Mr. Trump.  It is not long and is an easy read, the facts clearly laid out.   As soon as Mr. Trump felt under threat by the Mueller investigation, the facts show, he went into overdrive, ordering subordinates to violate the spirit (and sometimes letter) of the law to protect him from the groundless witch hunt that made him so angry and so frustrated for so long– as it would have anyone, according to the pathetic porcine puppet apologist.

In the end, not without some irony, president Fuckface’s presidency may have been saved by subordinates who refused to carry out his orders to commit illegal acts.   By not carrying out those orders, detailed in Mueller’s summary, they may have prevented the actual crime of Obstruction of Justice.

That said, there are many, many reasons to impeach the self-serving, corrupt, self-dealing imbecile president.   They are outlined beautifully here.

As the author of that article stresses, having the votes for impeachment and removal from office is not the only consideration.   Impeachment is the only legal way Americans have to hold a corrupt demagogue in high office to account for the harm he is doing to democracy, our standing in the world, and the world itself.  

At the very least, impeachment would show that America will not tolerate this kind of abusive public behavior in our president.   It will place the case before the American people, keep the indefensible fuck on the defensive, angry and frustrated  (and rightfully so, and good for the loser)  and hunkering down against an army of disloyal, leaking, ass-covering rat traitors.   And, fuck him. And the pathetic porcine puppet he is trying to ride off on.

 

[1]  I wonder if Boof Kavanaugh helped Mr. Barr with his remark, the rhetorical style and rhythm of this:

“And as the special counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks.”

is reminiscent of these immortal lines, the winning argument of Boof Kavanaugh, when he cried and blustered his way on to the Supreme Court:

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A few words about liberation

I will practice saying this in an anodyne way, in a manner designed to avoid controversy, to provoke no political knee jerks or piss anybody off.  [1]

Tonight we Jews celebrate our people’s emergence from slavery to freedom, from bondage to liberty.  It is literally a celebration of liberation that requires each of us to imagine herself as a slave and to consider and commit ourselves to the duties of free people towards those who are oppressed.   We are commanded to identify with the slave, the oppressed, the victimized.  It is very, very hard to imagine the pain of slavery if you have never experienced it.

Frederick Douglass wrote about how agonizing it was to take leave of his loved ones forever when he escaped from a slave state to a free state and became, for the first time, a free human being like any other.   He commented that had it not been for these bonds of love, and the heart-crushing thought of never seeing, or even hearing from, any of your loved ones again in this world, thousands more slaves would have escaped.

We cannot dream of what we cannot imagine. The idea of something better comes first.  The vision, born in discontent, is what spurs us to action when we seek to change our condition, change the world.  At one time many ideas we all accept today were unthinkable: abolition of American slavery, the end of unlimited child labor, gay marriage, to name just three that spring to mind.  

Each of these common injustices were accepted by most people for centuries as just part of the legal and moral landscape, however unfair some may have privately agreed these things were.  The Constitution protected slavery, after all, there was no law that said children couldn’t be worked as virtual slaves without no limitation on hours or working conditions, homosexuals were long considered deviants to be punished for their sexual preference.  Today we see these things much differently, and laws were made to ensure these changes were enforced, only because, after a long, determined, principled struggle in each case, a more just idea took root in our society.

A vision of a better way always comes first.  What we can’t imagine, or name, is impossible to work towards.  The firm idea of how intolerable an injustice is must take root before any change can begin.  Before we can take steps to end oppression we need to name it, analyze it, understand it, form effective strategies to defeat it.  We also need to imagine and describe the end goal we have in mind.  

The slave dreaming of escaping, getting rich and buying slaves of his own is no dream at all, it is just more of the same.    

I’m not the only person thinking this way, that we need to dream actively of what we want to become.   Check out this beautiful vision of a better world, by several women I already admired greatly (and a couple of guys too, apparently).

 

[1] Tomorrow I’ll go back to business as usual, fuck this anodyne shit.  I  will thoroughly dissect pathetic porcine puppet Bill Barr’s sickeningly misleading, ass-kissing, partisan spin on Mueller’s report, the executive summary of which ends:

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

CONCLUSION

Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. 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.

 

(from Mueller’s excellent, clear, short summary of Volume II on obstruction which I urge you to read in its entirety here)

Understanding Anti-Semitism and other irrational hatreds

If you start with a slight prejudice, and have it confirmed a few times by your own experience, you will often come away with the firm belief that you were right to dislike the suspect fucks all along.

I am Jewish, from a once-large family ruthlessly pruned by European anta-semits almost eighty years ago.  As one of the few left from a family wiped from the world, strictly on the basis of our religion and social status, I am aware of the murderous power of rage channeled into an ignorantly opinionated and violent belief system. It is the same anywhere, where one group kills another simply because they hate and feel righteous doing so.

Jews were hand in hand with blacks catching hell down south during the Civil Rights movement.   Both of my parents were reviled as “Nigger Lovers”, which was the common phrase for their type back then.  Now, more often than not, Jews and blacks find ourselves on opposite sides of a divide that benefits only powerful haters.   The way of this imperfect world, I suppose, to randomly divide and control groups of people, and a subject for another time. [1]

Yesterday I had a graphic illustration of how this hatred of groups works.   I waited on a long line in a health food store in Queens to buy some vegetarian burgers we like.   At the cash register I was surprised when the bill was $1.20 more than I expected to pay for the two items.  

 Before you say I’m conforming to the stereotype of the cheap, penny-pinching Jew who only thinks about the price of everything and is always looking for the best deal, consider me as an aware consumer who knows how much the thing he buys regularly is supposed to cost.    The price ranges from $4.99 to $5.49, everywhere.   This store charged $6.09.

The line had been long, it was raining out, a 60 cent surcharge for each item was not hard to pay. Nonetheless, I was a little disgusted at the greed of the store owner, a store doing a brisk and lucrative business, as I went back out into the rain.

On the way home I stopped in another store to pick up something else.  The price was a little higher for this item than at other places, but I was happy to find it so I bought it.

  The cashier rang it up and charged me almost a dollar more than the price on the item.  I paid and left, then looked at the price again and thought “what the fuck?”

I went back in, the manager was called over and I was subjected to a convoluted rationale for why the store was legally required, contrary to the actual law, to charge tax for this tax-free item.  I have never paid tax for this item in any of the dozen stores I bought it in.  That’s because it is illegal in New York City to charge tax for this kind of ready-to-eat item.  I looked at the young Korean manager, who stood firm on store policy, said nothing, left the store, later ate the food.   Now, for the insight.  

Both stores were run by Koreans, no doubt future crazy rich Asians.   I called an old friend and told her I’d had a graphic insight into the workings of antisemitism.   I was disgusted by the practices of both greedy store owners, both of whom happened to belong to a certain ethnic group, and that, therefore, it felt quite natural to draw a conclusion about the group personality of these “Jews of east Asia”.  

Much to my surprise, my friend immediately jumped, with surprising vehemence, into an animated and detailed discourse on the sometimes shady practices of Korean store owners.

“Koreans are famously greedy bastards,” she said, adding a few of her direct experiences with greedy Korean store owners, reminding me how brazen they’d been at the laundry after losing articles of our clothes more than once. This happened because they combined the washes of customers, to be a little more efficiently profitable.

She gave them some credit for having invented the salad bar, though, of course, it was also a way to charge inflated prices for rotting food that they cut the bad parts off of.    

“Some of them are greedy bastards, no doubt, but we can agree that not all Koreans are like that,”  I said, but the point was made.   She was really disgusted by greedy fucking Korean store owners in New York City.   It was a pet peeve of her’s, being ripped off by the snippy, greedy, entitled fucks.

We all swim in a sea of outrage.  Our fellow swimmers are constantly kicking and clawing us.  It is good to remember, somehow, that succumbing to hatred of everyone else, while easy to do, is important to resist.   Every one of us is an individual with a soul of infinite worth.  Even greedy fucking bastards.

Oh, yeah, here’s yet another example of Korean entrepreneurship in a disappointing context.  This occurred between my trips to the two Korean-owned grocery stores and, even though completely innocent  on the part of the school operators, would have sealed the deal, if I was the sort to make that kind of deal.  

I went to pick up a couple of whole wheat everything bagels at the bagel place on Horace Harding yesterday.   The place has been there since I was a kid, open 24 hours a day, selling hot bagels (boiled and baked in the back) for easily fifty years.    I was in there about a month ago, the place smelled great, the bagels were delicious.    

Yesterday the bagel place was a storefront school where local immigrant parents send their children so they will all get into medical and law school.  

How many more examples do you need?

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[1]   Though it was hard to ignore the spectacle of Jews of various political orientations coming together to denounce an elected official, a black woman, a Muslim, who’d bluntly stated that Israel is immune from criticism in America, no matter how extremely it behaves, because it has a powerful, well-funded political action network here in our pay-to-play democracy.   Imagine that, a fucking Muslim woman complaining about a group of Jews using their wealth to influence American foreign policy!   How dare she?!!!  (Even if it is true).   Fucking anti-Semite!  

The case for her anti-Semitism strikes me as thin, particularly in light of what she said afterwards, the content of her apology for insensitivity, what she said in the actual remarks from which the indictment of her was drawn.   She made the point that you cannot criticize Israel’s actions without being called an anti-Semite.  The almost universal reaction to her selected remarks showed that this point was true.   She also said that we dehumanize humans who are being brutalized, in order to remove their brutalization from the discussion of right and wrong.   I agree.  

Did any Iraqi civilian child have anything to do with the tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein?  No, but many were killed, a fact made much easier to bear if they can be made “other”…   This is an ancient technique.  You are justified in killing a terrorist, always.  If you kill freedom fighters, on the other hand, you are evil.   Now just tell me which one is which.

The clip of her uttering the offensive phrase “dual loyalty” (of American Jews to Israel) was played over and over, and referring to hundred dollar bills, called “Benjamins” by rappers, (after notorious Jew Benjamin Franklin)  to make the irrefutable case that this African Muslim bitch is out of line.  

Personally, I believe what she’s said, both in the remarks she was condemned for and her interviews and statements since the “sensational” story, which blew up big time because attacking the power of AIPAC is as politically stupid as denouncing the NRA or Big Pharma, or the Oil Industry.    

A black woman, a Muslim, criticizing the decisive role of  money coming through the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) in determining American foreign policy– well, the only explanation is that she’s an anti-Semite, and possibly, also, a supporter of terrorism.  That or a freedom fighter, but fighting for the wrong freedom…

 

Stop Lying, Dogg

I hate this tribal, partisan shit, I really do.   The division into angry “tribes” is an old, time-tested practice to keep us divided.  It is the ultimate triumph of those who seek to distract the millions of us who are desperately fucked by our political/economic system.   The real enemy of all of us is not the “other side”, with its infuriating buzzwords, it’s the small elite class of super-wealthy activists, and their army of career true believers.   They buy politicians and privilege-protective laws in our pay-to-play democracy.    

People born into great wealth, folks like hereditary billionaire Betsy DeVos, her brother Erik Prince, Charles and David Koch,  Rebecca Mercer, daughter of Robert Mercer, sponsors of Steve Bannon and Mr. Trump, are prominent examples.   These members of the top 0.01% exert a heroic influence on public affairs in our great experiment in rule by the people.

We hear there are billionaire activists on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s true.  One side, however, the extreme right, has played the game much more strategically, systematically, ruthlessly and practically than the other.  I’m talking about the group that has created dozens of influential “think tanks” and partisan membership organizations, founded and funded “grassroots movements” like the Tea Party. endowed university chairs, compiled lists of carefully vetted ideologically sound judges, “primaried” non-compliant party members out of office, and so forth.

What distinguishes this story about a small cabal of wealthy, powerful manipulators from conspiracy theories like the old conspiracy about all-powerful international Jewry is that it can be easily shown to be true.   Journalist Jane Mayer laid it out very clearly in a well-researched book called Dark Money, historian Nancy MacLean built on Mayer’s work by tracing the “philosophical” roots of this hidden ideology of raw power in Democracy in Chains.   The truthfulness of these two accounts is proved because neither author was ever sued (although Mayer was threatened by aggressive Koch brother lawyers and investigators while she was writing her book).

Although they have generally worked in the shadows (their actual ideas appealing only to their own tiny cohort), it’s not very hard to follow the Koch network’s money and influence.   They fund, among other things, Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute [1] and my favorite (also Charles Koch’s) the Institute for Humane Studies.  They also fund the influential Federalist Society, a society of right wing fellow traveling lawyers and judges started by the Kochs during lifetime member Boof Kavanaugh’s first year at Yale Law School.

There are valid political arguments to be had, important debates that should be vigorous and nuances that need to be laid out, difficult solutions found.  Climate catastrophe is upon is, that fact is beyond dispute.  We need to discuss ways to avoid the worst of it — yet the well-funded “Climate Change Skeptic” movement (fossil fuel industry millions, including Koch money)  that denies fossil fuels role in the crisis, makes actual discussion of solutions virtually impossible.  The despair of tens of millions of Americans, and our suicide epidemic, needs to be dealt with, the answer is not more privatized prisons (unless you own that stock).  

Yet we are usually confronted with other black and white issues, and must reflexively take sides.  Is abortion murder?  I don’t really know, it’s something that could be discussed, if guns weren’t pointed at doctors and family planning groups.   Is allowing a pregnant rape victim to die from her pregnancy because abortion is banned murder?   I think it probably is.  There are rarely simple answers to these kinds of questions, questions that immediately divide us.  

These emotional triggers keep us from having any intelligent talks about anything.  By design, these super-charged religious/humanist issues are kept eternally before us.   Which is exactly what grinning fossils like Charles Koch want. Betsey DeVos smiles too, pretty as a Barbie doll, and equally bright, as she defends the Bible over every other book ever written.   God’s word, after all, y’all.

All that said, and at the risk of sounding partisan, Mr. Trump, you’ve got to stop lying, Dogg.  I know you can’t help it, but still, you have to try.

The other day he was complaining about Germany not paying its fair share to NATO, insisting they double their contribution.  In a videotaped Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday he said (and you can watch him say it here):

President Donald Trump: “Germany, honestly, is not paying their fair share. I have great respect for Angela, and I have great respect for the country. My father is German—right?—was German and born in a—a very wonderful place in Germany.”

Democracy Now! reported this, and then the facts as printed on Fred Christ Trump’s actual Kenyan birth certificate:

Fred Trump was in fact born in the Bronx, in New York City. It was not the first time Trump made the claim. He made the comments as he once again demanded Germany and other NATO countries increase their military spending from 2 to 4 percent of GDP.

So, while I hate to be disrespectful to a man as powerful as POTUS– goddamn it, man, can you just shut the fuck up with the fucking compulsive lying?

This just in (an old headline from the Onion)

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[1]   The venerable American Enterprise Institute, to take one example, styles itself nonpartisan, as their blurb on google reads.  From their website:

We are committed to making the intellectual, moral, and practical case for expanding freedom, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening the free enterprise system in America and around the world. Our work explores ideas that further these goals, and AEI scholars take part in this pursuit with academic freedom. AEI operates independently of any political party and has no institutional positions. Our scholars’ conclusions are fueled by rigorous, data-driven research and broad-ranging evidence.

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Others would beg to differ:

Founded in 1938, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, known simply as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is a Washington, D.C. based conservative think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare. The current President of AEI is Arthur C. Brooks.

According to their about page: “The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. The work of our scholars and staff advances ideas rooted in our belief in democracy, free enterprise, American strength and global leadership, solidarity with those at the periphery of our society, and a pluralistic, entrepreneurial culture.” 

Funded by / Ownership

The American Enterprise Institute is a think tank funded through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. According to Sourcewatch,they are funded by many corporations connected to the fossil fuel industry.

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