Ladies and Gentlemen, Roger Stone

With the firehose of right-wing diarrhea running full bore all the time, much of it echoed daily in the mainstream “liberal” media, it is hard to recall the recent details of how the Party of Lincoln (so hated his election forced the immediate secession of eleven US states) morphed into the Party of Trump (so loved that his violent attempt to overturn an election is just a reflection of his indomitable, winning spirit, the rascal!). The January 6 Committee, investigating the riot that Trump and his co-conspirators organized, funded, whipped up and unleashed, has recently subpoenaed one of Trump’s biggest backers and strategists, political dirty trickster Roger Fucking Stone. Who is Stone?

the review

Roger Stone, self-proclaimed political dirty trickster, is, how to put it delicately? A toxic piece of shit, I suppose is the least offensive way to describe him. He is the living incarnation of Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn, without the law license. Cohn, as cunningly evil a man as ever lived, is currently spending eternity in hell, at Satan’s right hand.

Self-proclaimed rat fucker Roger Stone continues to do what he has always done, fuck rats. He has been well-paid for this act, during his long, dirty career as agent provocateur and political scam artist. He’s come a long way from being the youngest person implicated in the Watergate cover-up. During the witch hunt of his protege Trump, when he repeatedly lied to Mueller’s investigators, he did his best to keep the boss safe. Afterward in federal court Stone continued to play the buffoon (as when he playfully trolled the judge by putting a rifle target on her face) and be as defiant as the law would allow. He was convicted of lying, threatening witnesses and obstructing justice, as a loyal friend will do in an exchange of political favors. At one point experts felt he could face up to fifty years behind bars, the DOJ asked the judge for nine years, before Barr later cut the recommended sentence by a hefty slice of years.

Here is the skinny on the man who made lobbying what it is today by the innovation of working on an electoral campaign and then selling access to and influence with those people when they are elected — a political influence machine that raked in millions during decades of political dirty tricks, with his equally amoral partner, fellow Trump-pardoned felon Paul Manafort.

A longtime friend of Donald Trump,[10][11] Stone has been variously described as a “renowned infighter”, a “seasoned practitioner of hard-edged politics”, a “mendacious windbag”, a “veteran Republican strategist”,[12][13][14][15][16] and a political fixer.[17] Over the course of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, Stone promoted a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories.[18][19][20][21][22] He has described his political modus operandi as “Attack, attack, attack – never defend” and “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack.”[23] Stone first suggested Trump run for president in early 1998 while he was Trump’s casino business lobbyist in Washington.[24] The Netflix documentary film Get Me Roger Stone focuses on Stone’s past and role in Trump’s presidential campaign.[25]

Stone officially left the Trump campaign on August 8, 2015. However, two associates of Stone have said he collaborated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton. Stone and Assange have denied these claims.[26][27] Nearly three dozen search warrants were unsealed in April 2020 which revealed contacts between Stone and Assange, and that Stone orchestrated hundreds of fake Facebook accounts and bloggers to run a political influence scheme on social media.[28][29][30]

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A moment of research reveals a connection between the young Roger Stone and Roy Cohn:

Stone, the “keeper of the Nixon flame”,[51] was an adviser to the former President in his post-presidential years, serving as “Nixon’s man in Washington”.[52] Stone was a protégé of former Connecticut Governor John Davis Lodge, who introduced the young Stone to former Vice President Nixon in 1967.[53] After Stone was indicted in 2019, the Nixon Foundation released a statement distancing Stone’s ties to Nixon.[54][55][56] John Sears recruited Stone to work in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, coordinating the Northeast.

Stone said that Roy Cohn helped him arrange for John B. Anderson to get the nomination of the Liberal Party of New York, a move that would help split the opposition to Reagan in the state. Stone said Cohn gave him a suitcase that Stone avoided opening and that, as instructed by Cohn, he dropped off at the office of a lawyer influential in Liberal Party circles. Reagan carried the state with 46% of the vote. Speaking after the statute of limitations for bribery had expired, Stone later said, “I paid his law firm. Legal fees. I don’t know what he did for the money, but whatever it was, the Liberal party reached its right conclusion out of a matter of principle.”[4]

The reviewer of Get Me Roger Stone (linked above and recommended) is even more explicit about the connection between Cohn, Trump and Stone, going back decades:

The documentary also sketches a political family tree that could be its own movie and that has Cohn, the chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy, at its head and branches out to include Mr. Stone and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone wasn’t yet 30 when he met Cohn in 1979. (At the time, Mr. Stone was helping to run Reagan’s presidential campaign.) Cohn served as Mr. Trump’s lawyer for years and, by many accounts, assumed the role of mentor. It was Cohn who introduced Mr. Stone to Mr. Trump; Mr. Stone decided that Mr. Trump was presidential material and, years later, has become identified as one of the president’s outside advisers.

the review

On January 25, 2019, Stone was arrested at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home in connection with Robert Mueller‘s Special Counsel investigation and charged in an indictment with witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and five counts of making false statements.[31][32] In November 2019, a jury convicted him on all seven felony counts.[10][33][34] He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.[35][36] On July 10, 2020, days before Stone was scheduled to report to prison, Trump commuted his sentence.[10] On August 17, 2020, he dropped the appeal of his convictions.[37] Trump pardoned Stone on December 23, 2020.[10][38]

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Stone, convicted of lying under oath, obstructing justice and witness intimidation, tweeted, shortly before he was to report to prison to start serving a sentence Barr had already intervened to reduce, that he didn’t want a pardon from Trump for his criminal conviction, just a commutation of his prison sentence. Trump obliged. In the end, in an abundance of caution, two days before Christmas, Trump also pardoned his long time adviser and political dirty trickster.

Merry Christmas, Rog!

As for Stone’s work as a highly paid lobbyist:

In 1980, after their key roles in the Reagan campaign, Stone and Manafort decided to go into business together, with partner Charlie Black, creating a political consulting and lobbying firm to cash in on their relationships within the new administration. Black, Manafort & Stone (BMS), became one of Washington D.C.’s first mega-lobbying firms[57][58] and was described as instrumental to the success of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign. Republican political strategist Lee Atwater joined the firm in 1985, after serving in the #2 position on Reagan-Bush 1984.

Because of BMS’s willingness to represent brutal third-world dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, the firm was branded “The Torturers’ Lobby“. BMS also represented a host of high-powered corporate clients, including Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp, The Tobacco Institute and, starting in the early 1980s, Donald Trump.[59][60][61]

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The GOP’s highly moral voice of conscience in the Senate (this is a VERY relative term) Mitt Romney (now gone silent for months on end, while voting in lockstep with the GOP to thwart Biden at every step) immediately called Trump’s commutation of Stone’s reduced sentence an “act of unprecedented, historic corruption.” And so it was.

But Stone, to his credit, promptly repaid his debt to his friend the defeated president by helping to organize the January 6 Stop the Steal rally/riot, just as he had with a Stop the Steal movement in 2016, anticipating his boy Trump could well lose that election. Rat fuckers will be rat fuckers.

The elderly leaders of our democracy don’t seem to have the collective spine to challenge Trump’s clearly corrupt quid pro quo pardons in court (let’s say just Stone’s, Manafort’s and Flynn’s, for starters), but if Stone tells Congress to fuck off with their subpoena there should be no hesitation to test the unchallenged legality of the House’s power of Inherent Contempt and lock the rat fucker up in a hotel room until he testifies, under the penalty of perjury.

Words worth heeding

Stephen Fry, well-known author and wit, delivers a short, powerful statement about how dehumanizing language is always used to organize and justify hatred and violence against a targeted group. This language of hate precedes every atrocity.

He gave these remarks at least ten years ago. Well worth considering, as the war on “traitors” continues to escalate

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Democracy on a respirator, but don’t despair, yet

If we are a nation of laws, and nobody here is above the law, then we can only save ourselves from the crisis we are in by the just application of law. The rule of law saved democracy during Trump’s baseless attempted litigation challenging the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, even judges appointed by Trump were required, by the law itself, to rule against a litigant who produced no evidence of wild conspiracy claims or who made baseless claims requiring the suspension of disbelief and the disregard of actual evidence in order to win. Including the obvious fact that many Republicans were voted into office across states on the same ballots that Trump lost and baselessly insisted were subjected to massive fraud and rigging by a bipartisan cabal of traitors and insurrectionists.

Law is a human construct, and far from perfect, but it is also the most perfect thing we have as citizens to preserve any kind of justice, as well as our form of representative democracy itself. If we have a law against conspiring to stop the functioning of government, which we do [1], it needs to be deployed against those who more and more openly believe, in the words a speechwriter wrote for Barry Goldwater, an extremist Republican candidate sixty years ahead of his time in terms of party politics:

“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

Goldwater, you will recall, was the far-right presidential candidate from Arizona who advocated nuking America’s enemies back to the stone age and lost virtually all fifty states in the 1964 election [2]. He is most famous today for the so-called Goldwater Rule [3], a policy made by the American Psychiatric Association, a voluntary membership organization, that states no therapist may venture a public opinion as to the mental and emotional fitness of a political candidate unless he or she has personally examined the person and the patient has consented to have psychiatric details disclosed to the public.

The Goldwater Rule is not a law, or a rule that is binding on anyone who is not a member of the APA, nonetheless, the media often treats it as a law binding on all psychiatrists, even in the face of a candidate or elected official posing a publicly observable imminent threat to our nation. The rule, which was “doubled down” on by the APA soon after Trump became president, has been cogently challenged by many American psychiatrists recently, most outspokenly Dr. Bandy Lee.

The Goldwater Rule, we are told, applies even when you have a president who publicly shows himself daily to be a petulant, churlish, childish, vindictive, paranoid, attention seeking, megalomaniacal, corrupt, punitive, bullying, illogical, incoherent, amoral, transactional, compulsive liar. Even if this leader deliberately stokes an infuriating lie and organizes a rally and march based on that lie, to inspire a fight to overturn the election he lost, on the day the government is officially taking the ceremonial last step in the peaceful transition of power, and he sends a violent mob down to the Capitol to stop it. The Goldwater Rule prevents any shrink from talking about any of that, in their capacity as a psychiatrist, unless the unhinged elected official himself consents to a session and then the disclosure of a clinical diagnosis. Anything beyond “man, woman, camera, TV” is protected by the Goldwater Rule. Of course, anyone as critical of an American president as I am in this paragraph is clearly suffering from what Germans once called “Hitler Derangement Syndrome”.

There’s no law against going on TV and simply lying about whatever you want. Sad but true, in very few cases can anyone be prosecuted for simply making shit up, no matter how ugly or how likely destructive, and braying about it to the public. There is, however, a law against conspiring to stop the government, which is what the “Stop the Steal” riot did for hours on January 6.

It is frustrating to many Americans that the Department of Justice is so slow and deliberate in regard to holding the organizers of the conspiracy that led to a direct attack on democracy accountable. There is not even any apparent movement in this direction, though DOJ investigations are supposed to be conducted secretly without fanfare. We’d like to see some sign!

The law often grinds on slowly. It seems impossible, for example, that the Fulton County DA has not yet indicted Trump for what appears to be a very clear violation of the Georgia law against trying to interfere with, or coerce others to interfere with, a certified election result. The last act of that concerted attempt to overturn the Georgia election results is a recording millions of Americans have heard, for fuck’s sake, during which Trump violated every subsection of the Georgia law. The theory, I suppose, is that when taking a shot at a dangerous predator, be sure that shot is carefully aimed and powerful enough to actually stop the creature.

The Watergate-related indictments took two years to happen. The January 6 indictments are apparently going to take a while longer to assemble airtight cases for, aggravating though that is while the brazen co-conspirators are freely talking their ugly talk and broadcasting it to their increasingly enraged followers on shows like Steve Bannon’s The War Room.

If those indictments don’t happen within a reasonable amount of time, certainly well in advance of the heavily gerrymandered 2022 election (and full restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by passing the two House bills is also critical, CRITICAL), stick a fork in our democracy, boys and girls, we’ll have Speaker of the House Donald Trump and the immediate censure of every non-white Democrat and traitor Republican in the House. There will also be summary expulsions for enemies of the Speaker, and probably also televised public book burnings, the kinds of things that always precede even worse barbarity.

And, as for the rule of law, we’ll have plenty more proud, angry, armed vigilante boys like Kyle Rittenhouse, free to take illegally possessed assault rifles into combustible situations like an angry protest over the perfectly legal police shooting, seven times in the back, of an American citizen, and then get acquitted in a trial presided over by a seemingly unrepentant Ku Klux Klansman.

And remember, folks, there’s no law against being in the Ku Klux Klan, it’s that American judge’s first amendment right of association and puts him in good stead for a future career as a celebrity opiner for Rupert Murdoch, OANN or Newsmax.

The law to keep an eye on is the one below, 18 U.S. Code § 2384. And if Merrick Garland doesn’t bring some indictments under this law, of the people who were in that war room in the Willard Hotel on January 5th and 6th and the guy who stood to gain the most from the conspiracy, had his co-conspirator’s bills paid and spoke regularly with them during the riot, we all ought to get down on our knees and, in the words of XTC, while we’re down there, kiss our asses goodbye.

[1]

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

[2]

Johnson carried 44 states and the District of Columbia, which voted for the first time in this election. Goldwater won his home state and swept the states of the Deep South, most of which had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since the end of Reconstruction in 1877. This was the last time that the Democratic Party won the white vote, although they came close in 1992.

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[3]

The Goldwater rule is Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association’s Principles of Medical Ethics, which states that psychiatrists have a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health, but they should not give a professional opinion about public figures whom they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health in public statements. Wikipedia

Trump does not contest Judge Chutkan’s statement of facts

Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed Judge Chutkan’s recent executive privilege ruling that denied former president Trump’s demand that as former president (defeated only by fraud) that he is privileged to conceal all records of the lead up to January 6 and on the day itself. We’ll find out how that argument goes on November 30th. Judge Chutkan ruled that the public need for solid information about the planning and implementation of the January 6 MAGA riot, which violently stopped the constitutional duties of a joint session of Congress, coupled with the agreement between Congress and the Executive Branch that evidence needs to be seen, means that Biden’s waiver of Executive Privilege claims made by Trump is the last word on the matter. Trump insists he has a right, as the unindictable president at that time, to hide anything that could cause him irreparable harm. It is the same stance Trump, insister on iron-clad, global, lifetime non-disclosure agreements, has always taken about everything. It is a position that appeals to many Americans– you fucking fight them until you win, no matter what.

Although Judge Chutkan offers it as background, to put her decision in context, we should note that Trump’s lawyers are not able to contest any of the facts the judge, as finder of fact, provides in that section of her decision. The only “answer” to her reconstruction of events leading up to January 6 is by reframing everything so that the most important detail is the frame: in spite of everything, the election was stolen! What did you expect the rightful president to do, sit by while it was being stolen?! Chutkan does not even go into the almost hour of detailed lies Trump told that crowd about how the vote was stolen in state after state, to make them madder than hell, in the minutes leading up to the planned permit-free march down to the Capitol. Is this something that needs public attention? You be the judge:

While not material to the outcome, some factual background on the events leading up to and including January 6, 2021, offers context for the legal dispute here. In the months preceding the 2020 presidential election, Plaintiff declared that the only way he could lose would be if the election were “rigged.” See, e.g., Donald J. Trump, Speech at Republican National Convention Nomination Vote at 22:08 (Aug. 24, 2020) in C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?475000- 103/president-trump-speaks-2020-republican-national-convention-vote.

In the months after losing the election, he repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged, stolen, and fraudulent. For example, in a December 2 speech, he alleged “tremendous voter fraud and irregularities” resulting from a late-night “massive dump” of votes. See President Donald J. Trump, Statement on 2020 Election Results at 0:39, 7:26 (Dec. 2, 2020) in C-SPAN, https://www.cspan.org/video/?506975-1/president-trump-statement-2020-election-results. He also claimed that certain votes were “counted in foreign countries,” that “millions of votes were cast illegally in the swing states alone,” and that it was “statistically impossible” he lost. Id. at 12:00, 14:22, 19:00.

After losing the election, Plaintiff and his supporters filed a plethora of unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn the results. See, e.g., Current Litigation, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTION LAW, Apr. 30, 2021, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/election_law/litigation/.

The United States Supreme Court also denied numerous emergency applications aimed at overturning the results. Id. In response, Plaintiff tweeted that the Court was “totally incompetent and weak on the massive Election Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election.” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), TWITTER (Dec. 26, 2020, 1:51 PM), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu /documents/tweets-december-26-2020.

He continued his claim that “We won the Presidential Election, by a lot,” and implored Republicans to “FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away.” Id. (Dec. 18, 2020, 2:14 PM), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/tweets-december-18- 2020. A Joint Session of Congress was scheduled to convene on January 6, 2021, to count the electoral votes of the 2020 presidential election and to officially announce the elected President, as required by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.

In the days leading up to January 6, Plaintiff began promoting a protest rally to take place hours before the Joint Session convened. On December 19, 2020, he tweeted “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), TWITTER (December 19, 2020, 6:42am), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/tweets-december-19-2020.

During a rally, he warned that “Democrats are trying to steal the White House . . . you can’t let that happen. You can’t let it happen,” and promised that “[w]e’re going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now.” See Donald J. Trump, Remarks at Georgia U.S. Senate Campaign Event at 8:40, 14:19 (Jan. 4, 2021) in Campaign 2020, C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?507634-1/president-trumpcampaigns-republican-senate-candidates-georgia.

On January 6, Plaintiff spoke at the rally at the Ellipse, during which he repeated claims, rejected by numerous courts, that the election was “rigged” and “stolen”; urged then Vice President Pence, who was preparing to convene Congress to tally the electoral votes, “to do the right thing” by rejecting certain states’ electors and declining to certify the election for President Joseph R. Biden; and told protesters to “walk down to the Capitol” to “give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” “we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” and “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.” See Donald J. Trump, Rally on Electoral College Vote Certification at 3:33:04, 3:33:36, 3:37:20, 3:47:02, 3:47:22, 4:42:26, 4:41:27 (Jan. 6, 2021) in Campaign 2020, C-SPAN, https://www.c-span.org/video/?507744-1/rally-electoral-collegevote-certification.

Shortly thereafter, the crowds surged from the rally, marched along Constitution Avenue, and commenced their siege of the Capitol. 

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The long moral arc of fucking history

One Sunday late afternoon, three months before my ninth birthday, I was sitting by myself in my parents’ bedroom, at the foot of their bed. I don’t know why I was there, perhaps watching their large TV. It would not explain my memory of hearing the news that Malcolm X had been shot dead in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights from my father’s alarm clock radio. I knew what it meant right away, and it felt like a punch in my young stomach. It was not that long after the JFK assassination and not long before several more lone gunmen would kill other leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

I read today that two of the three men who’d been convicted and jailed — fifty-five years ago — for the killing of Malcolm X (who by then had renamed himself El Hadj Malik el Shabbaz) will be exonerated tomorrow, one posthumously. The FBI, NYPD and prosecutors had withheld evidence that would have likely prevented the conviction of each of the “murderers” who spent decades in prison. The one assassin who was caught at the scene confessed in court and said he didn’t know the other two guys, that they hadn’t been the other shooters. It turns out he wasn’t lying.

The New York Times reports:

A trove of F.B.I. documents included information that implicated other suspects and pointed away from Mr. Islam and Mr. Aziz. Prosecutors’ notes indicate they failed to disclose the presence of undercover officers in the ballroom at the time of the shooting. And Police Department files revealed that a reporter for The New York Daily News received a call the morning of the shooting indicating that Malcolm X would be murdered.

Investigators also interviewed a living witness, known only as J.M., who backed up Mr. Aziz’s alibi, further suggesting that he had not participated in the shooting but had been, as he said at the trial, at home nursing his wounded legs.

Altogether, the re-investigation found that had the new evidence been presented to a jury, it may well have led to acquittals. And Mr. Aziz, 83, who was released in 1985, and Mr. Islam, who was released in 1987 and died in 2009, would not have been compelled to spend decades fighting to clear their names. . .

. . . Representatives for the two exonerated men said that the moment meant a lot to Mr. Aziz, and to Mr. Islam’s family. But Mr. Shanies, one of the civil rights lawyers representing them, said their convictions had a “horrific, torturous and unconscionable” effect that cannot be undone.

The two men spent a combined 42 years in prison, with years in solitary confinement between them. They were held in some of New York’s worst maximum security prisons in the 1970s, a decade that bore witness to the Attica uprisings.

Mr. Aziz had six children at the time he was convicted; Mr. Islam had three. Both men saw their marriages fall apart and spent the primes of their lives behind bars.

Even after their release, they were understood as Malcolm X’s killers, affecting their ability to live openly in society.

“It affected them in every way you could possibly imagine, them and their families,” Mr. Shanies said.

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We learned, decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., that the FBI had been secretly recording King in hotel rooms and had sent compromising materials to him along with at least one letter urging him to kill himself. That’s just the way it was in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s, and the two hundred or so years before that. Racism was out of control, American Blacks were organizing and fighting for civil rights (Malcolm rightly called them Human Rights) and even a nonviolent pastor was considered an enemy of the state by the guardians of American power, since he was seen as galvanizing a tremendous moral force.

It’s hard to untangle how fucked up all of this is, or to overstate that the final crime for which King was condemned to death was his sermon opposing the War in Vietnam (one year to the day before his murder) and his Poor People’s campaign (on behalf of all of America’s poor). Once you stray from fighting for the right to use the same water fountain as whites to criticizing the power structure of the country itself, it is probably time for you to be shot through the voice box by a lone gunman with a shady past.

I try to imagine what it’s like to be exonerated fifty-five years after your life is destroyed, or posthumously. Then I consider that this re-investigation and exoneration would never have happened at all, but for an excellent documentary Who Killed Malcolm X? by a dogged historian/researcher who thoroughly investigated the killing of his hero. Netflix aired the documentary and outgoing Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance opened a re-investigation as soon as he considered the letter from the filmmaker, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, and watched the compelling film.

I think of the long game of history. In 2060 or so perhaps the final story of the party-line confirmation of deeply divisive uber-conservative partisan Boof Kavanaugh will finally be told, once his forty year reign on the court is done and the appropriate amount of time has elapsed for the release of the thousands of pages of Kavanaugh-related documents the judicial committee was not allowed to see. Citizens, if there any left by then, will also learn the details of the 4,000 tips the FBI received, during a rushed farce of a five-day investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh, tips that went directly to Kavanaugh’s sponsor at the White House, fellow Federalist Society all-star Don McGahn, who promptly rejected them all.

Had these documents been seen, and publicized, had the FBI followed up on any of the tips, or even interviewed Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge and Christina Blasey-Ford, the Justice’s fiery, angry, paranoid, hyper-partisan speech in defense of himself as a victim of a cabal of powerful lying enemies would not have won the day.

For now, all we have are the words he uttered that day, after Blasey-Ford’s credible testimony, angrily snorted, slightly unhinged words that should have disqualified him from sitting on the Supreme Court, words he proudly (and unaccountably) told the world he wrote himself:

And this capsule biography of the longtime right-wing partisan, from Wikipedia:

Kavanaugh studied history at Yale University, where he joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He then attended Yale Law School, after which he began his career as a law clerk working under Judge Ken Starr. After Starr left the D.C. Circuit to become the head of the Office of Independent Counsel, Kavanaugh assisted him with various investigations concerning President Bill Clinton, including drafting the Starr Report recommending Clinton’s impeachment. After the 2000 U.S. presidential election, in which he worked for George W. Bush‘s campaign in the Florida recount, he joined the Bush administration as White House staff secretary and was a central figure in its efforts to identify and confirm judicial nominees.[3] Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003. His confirmation hearings were contentious and stalled for three years over charges of partisanship. He was ultimately confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in May 2006 after a series of negotiations between Democratic and Republican U.S. senators.[4][5][2] Two law professors performed an evaluation of Kavanaugh’s appellate court decisions in four separate public policy areas for the Washington Post. It found he had been “one of the most conservative judges on the D.C. Circuit” from 2003 to 2018.[6]

Once this ambitious Zelig of right-wing absolutism (he was involved in each of this century’s most outrageous pre-Trump right-wing stunts– Ken Starr’s most zealous assistant, involved with stopping the Florida recount in 2001, secret rulings for Dubya as White House staff secretary, rewarded by quick lifetime elevation by Bush II– after an ugly confirmation fight) has ruled on countless cases, restricting the rights of workers, voters, consumers, poor women, his political enemies, once all the unappealable damage is summarily done — and bitterly recorded in dissents — our descendants will get to learn the rest of the story of how this entitled partisan warrior managed to get a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court and steer that court for decades. I imagine they will feel like the previous generations (and they, themselves) got fucked, just the way those two guys who had nothing to do with the killing of Malcolm X got fucked, and then exonerated, in the long moral arc of fucking history.

Fascist-style Populism

Populism is a political appeal to what is popular among the population, and can be of the left or the right. It seems, most usually, and especially here in the US of A, it is harnessed by the right, as in the Koch-funded “spontaneous” “grass roots” Populist Tea Party, a national movement that appeared to spring up over night across the country, in a phenomenon gawked at by mass media as strong proof of a massive popular uprising against the self-proclaimed Hope and Change president, and swept a host of unapologetically angry Tea Party radicals into Congress to transform the Republican party and the US government. What we see on TV, and via social media, becomes our reality.

Just off hand, you might think that populism is good for democracy, the will of the people expressed through a mass movement. It can go either way. Most often populist movements are taken over by demagogues. The ideas are already popular — the government is a bunch of clueless elitist eggheads who don’t share our values. deciding, against our will, what we actually want! Harness this anger and you are a populist. When times are tough, populism swings right, toward authoritarianism. Here is an insightful bit from a discussion with David Sirota on a recent Deconstructed podcast:

So, in other words, human beings being thrown out of their homes, were the foam on the runway for the banks, which really tells you what you need to know about what the overall policy goal of the Obama administration was. They made a decision that they had to save Wall Street which, not incidentally, had given the most amount of money to Barack Obama’s campaign in the history of presidential politics. They made the decision that to save the economy, they had to first and foremost save Wall Street.

Now, maybe you could say it’s not corruption. Maybe you say it’s ideology. Maybe you just say it’s a principled disagreement or a principled belief. And there’s one phrase that that Geithner, I believe it was Geithner, who said: That’s how we saved the economy, but lost the country.

And what’s important to know is how historically anomalous that is from the Democratic Party itself. FDR, not that he was a perfect president, but he came in during an economic crisis. And there’s a lot of evidence — a lot of his quotes, a lot of the things he said — that he understood that if there was going to be a bailout or investments, it had to be bottom up. And he understood that it had to be bottom up for three reasons: It was morally right, people were starving; it was economically a better policy; and then he also made all sorts of statements, saying that this is the way to stop the rise of fascism — that if you do not help the working class in a crisis, then you are creating the conditions for authoritarians and fascists to take advantage of the desperation. And fascism was on the rise in the Great Depression here in the United States!

And so what 2009-2010 leading into the Trump-era suggests is that FDR was right, because the Democrats, the modern version of the Democrats, didn’t do what FDR did. And it ended up creating the conditions for Trump.

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FDR, not that he was a perfect president, but he came in during an economic crisis. And there’s a lot of evidence — a lot of his quotes, a lot of the things he said — that he understood that if there was going to be a bailout or investments, it had to be bottom up. And he understood that it had to be bottom up for three reasons: It was morally right, people were starving; it was economically a better policy; and then he also made all sorts of statements, saying that this is the way to stop the rise of fascism — that if you do not help the working class in a crisis, then you are creating the conditions for authoritarians and fascists to take advantage of the desperation. And fascism was on the rise in the Great Depression here in the United States!

Think of the enraged army of MAGA populists across the country who now routinely call to violently threaten Republican legislators who “disloyally” voted for an uncontroversial bipartisan infrastructure bill they negotiated, a bill that will benefit their communities, a long overdue allocation of resources for the mutual good — and the good of US big business, by the way — that Trump touted when he was president (though he was too busy with other things to do anything about it). According to our right-wing populists, all we really need are strictly constitutional gun laws that respect our sacred Second Amendment right to bring our non-regulated guns wherever we want, as part of goddamned political speech. If you think that’s a problem, cucks, suck lead.

This kind of enraged populism is the necessary precondition for mob rule and autocracy.

Mr. Biden? Mr. Garland? Congress? Senate supporters of the sacred filibuster over the right to vote?

Nice subpoena

[The House January 6 Select Committee] also subpoenaed John McEntee, a young Trump loyalist who had been the former president’s baggage handler before Trump installed him as the White House personnel director, in charge of hiring for the executive branch. McEntee was reportedly present for many of the key conversations around trying to overturn the 2020 election. 

An article today in The Atlantic by Jonathan D. Karl, the chief Washington correspondent for ABC News, calls “Johnny” McEntee “the man who made January 6 possible.” McEntee purged the administration of anyone he did not consider sufficiently—that is to say, totally—loyal to Trump.

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John McEntee, I’ve been waiting for more news about this promising young man. He had MAGA greatness written all over him, think of Matt Gaetz with athletic ability.

Three faces we should all know

John Durham

John Durham, Special Counsel appointed by Bill Barr to investigate and root out the “traitors” who brought the “baseless, lying, partisan witch hunt” investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to the Department of Justice. Durham has now been at his work longer than Mueller was. He recently issued a third indictment, arresting a man who allegedly did the same kind of thing Mike Flynn did — lying to conceal the fact that he was lying.

In Flynn’s case the lies were eventually deemed ‘immaterial’ by Barr. In the case of the indicted Clinton-supporting alleged liar who gave unfounded rumors to the author of the anti-Trump Steele Dossier (a document which was not, in fact relied on by Mueller – the definition of ‘immaterial’ lies when investigating the oringes of the “Rusher thing”), and allegedly lied about it to Durham’s investigators, he will face justice.

Durham’s face (and this seems to be his official DOJ photo) says a lot about him — he is fierce, implacable, deeply conservative, a devout Catholic (like fellow Christian dominionists [1] Bill Barr, former White House Counsel Pat Cippolini, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo) and a dogged ratter.

So as not to appear “political” Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland has authorized Durham to continue hunting for the partisan liars who brought the fake and embarrassing “Rusher thing” in an attempt to compromise and humiliate the honest and never the least bit corrupt or “transactional” Donald Trump.

Presumably the same fear of appearing partisan has restrained Garland from convening grand juries to indict any of the people we now know conspired with the defeated former president1 to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Not Rudy Giuiliani (who brought numerous baseless post election lawsuits promoting Trump’s Big Lie and, prior to the election, played a key role in the smearing and ouster of US ambassador Marie Yavonovich, so as to promote a fake Ukrainian investigation into Hunter Biden), not either of the two lunatic fringe Federalist Society lawyers, Jefferey Bossert Clark and John C. Eastman, who energetically served the mad former president in his mission to remain in office after losing the election.

Jeffrey Bossert Clark

Clark is the ambitious Trump appointed weasel [2] who wrote a letter based on Trump’s lies and tried to pressure the acting Attorney General into signing the letter to top Georgia officials falsely claiming there had been massive voter fraud in Georgia, that there was an ongoing DOJ investigation into that fraud. Both claims were false, knowing lies, in Barr’s phrase “bullshit.” Clark gave it his best shot in the days immediately before the January 6 riot, he was ready to step in as acting AG, sign the lying letter himself, if Trump said the word. Trump backed down under pressure from DOJ officials and his own White House Counsel.

On January 14th Clark resigned his post at the Department of Justice and immediately went to work for a far right nonprofit that brought lawsuits against mask and vaccine mandates and abortion providers. The latest on this fucker, who cited a vague privilege instead of testifying before the January 6 Committer on Friday:

“The Trump taint is sticking to Jeffrey Clark,” Business Insider reported Thursday. “In the 10 months since the would-be Justice Department coup, Clark’s name has been scrubbed from the conservative legal group where he’d landed his first post-Trump job. He lawyered up in the face of congressional scrutiny. But, just days before his Friday interview with the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Clark parted ways with the defense lawyer Robert Driscoll, Politico reported late Wednesday.”

Clark is just the latest attorney to suffer repercussions for their relationship with Trump.

“In the eyes of several former colleagues, Clark has joined the ranks of once respected conservative lawyers — including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former prosecutor Sidney Powell, and the constitutional scholar John Eastman — who have been burned flying too close to Trump,” the report noted.

After Clark stonewalled the January 6 Committee last week he should have been found in contempt and locked up pursuant to Congress’s power of inherent contempt, until he agreed to testify truthfully. Unfortunately, while legal, it would appear as “political” as the prosecutions Merrick Garland is thus far not pursuing. To the party that honors rules and norms, and places a quaint reliance on empirical facts, this kind of hardball tactic is apparently inconceivable.

Which brings us to another Federalist Society stalwart and former dean of a presumably right wing law school, John Eastman.

This jackass, who spoke at the January 6th Stop the Steal rally and subsequently lost his job, turns out to have authored a battle plan for Mike Pence to defy the Constitution, and more than 200 years of precedent, on January 6th and insist that since there were alternate slates of electors from each swing state Trump lost (there were no alternate electors — every state had certified its electors a month earlier) he was invoking his (imaginary, counter-factual) Twelfth Amendment power to disqualify the electors in those disputed states, call the election undecided for lack of an Electoral College majority and send it to the gerrymandered House for a straight party-line vote (that would, under the rules for deciding a deadlocked election, bypass the actual majority in the House) where Trump could be declared president by the loyal members of his own party, who enjoyed a majority in the House for this purpose only. You can read this braying jackass’s short, to the point, memo to Pence HERE.

Under Eastman’s learned constitutional analysis, the Vice President who loses a re-election bid, under powers arguably (but only by someone insane) granted by the convoluted, procedural 12th Amendment, has the absolute final say on whether or not he lost his re-election bid. Clearly the intent of the Framers, no?

The absurdity of this claim aside, Eastman provided step by step instructions for how Pence needed to proceed, to sidestep constitutional and procedural objections and silence Democrats when they “start to howl”. Eastman was in the war room at the Willard Hotel, taking the short walk over to exhort the crowd to go to the Capitol, shortly before the January 6th Stop the Steal rally unaccountably turned into a violent assault on the Capitol. His hotel bills, we learned recently, were paid by the Trump/Pence 2020 campaign.

Of course, indicting him for anything — and how can you indict a lawyer for a good faith argument for illegal actions to overturn a certified election? — would only play into the hands of the really hardcore right wingers who want a violent overthrow of democracy. And so, in Biden and Merrick Garland’s judgment, you dig, we must avoid the appearance of being overtly on the side of not overturning US elections, because, you know, it would only infuriate powerful American Nazis.

Makes me wanna holler.

[1]

Dominionism, or Christian Dominionism is a term coined by social scientists and popularized by journalists to refer to a subset of American Christianity that is conservative, politically active, and believes that Christians should, and eventually will, take control of the government. The term is sometimes used as a “catch-all” by bloggers to describe any politically active Christian, but not every conservative, politically minded Christian is a Dominionist.

Christian Dominionists believe that God desires Christians to rise to power through civil systems so that His Word might then govern the nation. The belief that “America is a Christian nation” is sometimes called “soft dominionism”; the idea that God wants only Christians to hold government office and run the country according to biblical law is called “hard dominionism.”

Dominion theology’s beliefs are based on Genesis 1:28, which says, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (emphasis added).

This verse is taken by Christian Dominionists as a divine mandate to claim dominion over the earth, physically, spiritually, and politically. However, this is taking a large step away from the text, which only says to have dominion over the creatures of earth, and to “subdue” the earth. It is likely that this verse simply means for humanity to a) multiply and expand over the face of the earth instead of staying in one place and b) keep and take care of all other living things. There were no political entities in Genesis 1.

However, dominion theology goes even further with this verse, leading to two other philosophies: Christian Reconstructionism and Kingdom Now theology. Christian Reconstructionism is an intellectually high-minded worldview, most popular among the more conservative branches of Christian faith. Reconstructionism says that dominion will be achieved by each Christian excelling in his or her individual field (Christian artists taking dominion of the art world, Christian musicians taking dominion of the music world, Christian businessmen taking dominion of the business world, etc., until all systems and fields are “subdued”).

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[2] From a January 24, 2021 story in the New York Times

WASHINGTON — It was New Year’s Eve, but the Justice Department’s top leaders had little to celebrate as they discussed Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the civil division, who had repeatedly pushed them to help President Donald J. Trump undo his electoral loss.

Huddled in the department’s headquarters, they noted that they had rebuked him for secretly meeting with Mr. Trump, even as the department had rebuffed the president’s outlandish requests for court filings and special counsels, according to six people with knowledge of the meeting. No official would host a news conference to say that federal fraud investigations cast the results in doubt, they told him. No one would send a letter making such claims to Georgia lawmakers

When the meeting ended not long before midnight, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen hoped that the matter was settled, never suspecting that his subordinate would secretly discuss the plan for the letter with Mr. Trump, and very nearly take Mr. Rosen’s job, as part of a plot with the president to wield the department’s power to try to alter the Georgia election outcome.

It was clear that night, though, that Mr. Clark — with his willingness to entertain conspiracy theories about voting booth hacks and election fraud — was not the establishment lawyer they thought him to be. Some senior department leaders had considered him quiet, hard-working and detail-oriented. Others said they knew nothing about him, so low was his profile. He struck neither his fans in the department nor his detractors as being part of the Trumpist faction of the party, according to interviews.

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