Psychological vs. Physical torture

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

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

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

[2]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

[2] page 167

[3] pp. 161-2

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

A few facts on the two previous presidential impeachments

In 1868 Andrew Johnson faced an impeachment trial in the Senate of the 40th Congress that was 57-9 Republican, according to the Senate’s website.  At the time, immediately after the Civil War,  the Republican party was united in its advocacy of Civil Rights for the freed slaves and its commitment to federal enforcement of those rights.   Johnson, a fierce opponent of Reconstruction, and an intemperate racist given to insulting his critics, was impeached by Radical Republicans.   His removal from office failed 35-19, one vote short of the required two thirds majority, (and apparently, every one of the 54 senators, not 66 as the Senate website has it, voted yay or nay).    Below is the gist of the case against Johnson (outside of violating the later invalidated Tenure of Office Act when he fired his Secretary of War without Senate advice and consent).   [1] 

Impeachment Articles ten and eleven against Johnson have great resonance for today’s impeachment of Mr. Trump, though nothing like them is contained in the two articles the Democratic House recently passed:

Ten:  Making three speeches with intent to “attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States”.

Eleven:  Bringing disgrace and ridicule to the presidency by his aforementioned words and actions.

As one would expect, there was evidence of chicanery on both sides of the Senate vote that narrowly acquitted the nonetheless disgraced Mr. Johnson. [2]

The 1998 Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton took place in the 105th Congress, the composition of which (according to the official, yet unreliable, U.S. Senate website) was 55 Republicans and 45 Democrats.  On Article One, Clinton’s perjury during a deposition about receiving oral sex from a White House intern, ten Republicans, and all Democrats, voted to acquit.   On Article Two, obstruction of justice, Clinton seeking the intern’s help in keeping their sexual relationship secret in an unrelated sexual harassment civil suit against the president, five Republicans voted with the Democrats to acquit.

I think is it interesting, and worthing noting,  that neither time, even with an overwhelming party majority, was either presidential malefactor removed from office.   It’s hard to get one of these creatures out by impeachment.   To paraphrase one of the legal masterminds who got OJ off the hook for double murder (the Juice is still out their looking for the real killer):  If the shit don’t fit, you must acquit.   

 

 

[1] Wikipeida:

Though a Democrat from Tennessee, Johnson had been a fierce critic of the Southern secession. Then after several states left the Union, including his own, he chose to stay in Washington (rather than resign his U.S. Senate seat), and later, when Union troops occupied Tennessee, Johnson was appointed military governor. While in that position he had exercised his powers with vigor, frequently stating that “treason must be made odious and traitors punished”.[5] Johnson, however, embraced Lincoln’s more lenient policies, thus rejecting the Radicals, and setting the stage for a showdown between the president and Congress.[6] During the first months of his presidency, Johnson issued proclamations of general amnesty for most former Confederates, both government and military officers, and oversaw creation of new governments in the hitherto rebellious states – governments dominated by ex-Confederate officials.[7] In February 1866, Johnson vetoed legislation extending the Freedmen’s Bureau and expanding its powers; Congress was unable to override the veto. Afterward, Johnson denounced Radical Republicans Representative Thaddeus Stevens and SenatorCharles Sumner, along with abolitionist Wendell Phillips, as traitors.[8] Later, Johnson vetoed a Civil Rights Actand a second Freedmen’s Bureau bill; the Senate and the House each mustered the two-thirds majorities necessary to override both vetoes,[8] setting the stage for a showdown between Congress and the president.

[2] Wikipedia:

After the trial, Butler conducted hearings on the widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson’s acquittal. In Butler’s hearings, and in subsequent inquiries, there was increasing evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards. Political deals were struck as well. Grimes received assurances that acquittal would not be followed by presidential reprisals; Johnson agreed to enforce the Reconstruction Acts, and to appoint General John Schofield to succeed Stanton. Nonetheless, the investigations never resulted in charges, much less convictions, against anyone.[37]

Moreover, there is evidence that the prosecution attempted to bribe the senators voting for acquittal to switch their votes to conviction. Maine Senator Fessenden was offered the Ministership to Great Britain. Prosecutor Butler said, “Tell [Kansas Senator Ross] that if he wants money there is a bushel of it here to be had.”[38]Butler’s investigation also boomeranged when it was discovered that Kansas Senator Pomeroy, who voted for conviction, had written a letter to Johnson’s Postmaster General seeking a $40,000 bribe for Pomeroy’s acquittal vote along with three or four others in his caucus.[39] Butler was himself told by Wade that Wade would appoint Butler as Secretary of State when Wade assumed the Presidency after a Johnson conviction.[40]

Quick Timeline of Trump’s attempted shakedown of Zelensky

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 10:  

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

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

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

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

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

AUGUST: The questions

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

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

August 28: Politico publishes article on the withheld aid.

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

SEPT. 9: The investigations begin

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

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

September 25:  August 12 whistleblower complaint released to Congress.

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

Thank you and have a very nice day.

SAD!

The saddest part, I think, is how “alternative fact” turns everything to mud– no facts, no facts!!!  The resulting no-holds-barred mud wrestle and shit flinging contest makes all but the strongest of stomach turn away from an impeachment inquiry every American should be following closely.

I wish these were in the articles of impeachment, under the president’s ongoing campaign to undermine American’s faith in the essential fairness of our own democratic institutions, the Department Of Justice and Congress among them.  This is the final bit of Trump’s April 19th tweet storm after Barr confidently and incorrectly announced that Mueller’s report exonerated the innocent president:

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“Very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even [capital offenses]”   These menaces are DOJ employees, these very sick and dangerous criminals, perhaps even traitors, people who, perhaps even need to be executed for their sick and very serious crimes. 

Note the display of the president’s high-minded due process concern for the presumption of innocence for these dangerous (if un-indicted) criminals he has already marked for punishment, perhaps even execution.

This is what the president told a reporter at the NATO summit last week when asked about the newly released House Intelligence Committee report on its impeachment inquiry:

20191206_234910.jpg

Leaving aside the obvious projection of these comments — What the FUCK?   Seriously, are we actually fine with this kind of response from the president of the United States?  Every time you think we have come to the bottom, there is a new bottom under that one. 

If you have any doubts about whether Trump is right about Shifty Schitt, FOX star Tucker Carlson will set you straight.    In dismissing the impeachment farce he calls Adam Schiff a “bug-eyed lunatic.”  Great minds think alike!

A few words about the Ukraine and the involvement of the president’s top men there (personal lawyer/bagman Rudy Giuliani is currently, unaccountably, in Ukraine, reportedly working on a “documentary” about how Ukraine illegally helped Hillary Clinton narrowly defeat Trump in 2016 while hiding Biden’s open corruption):

The Ukrainian presidential candidate that Paul Manafort advised, groomed and put into power in 2010 over a gigantic deficit in the polls (32%, I think), was a Rusnsian-backed thug named Viktor Yanukovych.  Yanukovych, by the way, is currently in exile in Russia and wanted by Ukraine for high treason [1].  

Manafort was paid $60,000,000 for his valuable polling, campaigning and PR advising help, before the unpopular, corrupt Yanukovych was overthrown and ousted by Ukrainians in a democratic coup in 2014.   Manafort (long time partner of convicted felon and self-proclaimed “political dirty trickster” Roger Stone in their lucrative lobbying/consulting/campaign management and PR business) is in prison for tax evasion (he hid $30,000,000 from Yanukovych in some Cayman Island tax dodge using a shell corporation and got caught) and lying to federal prosecutors to protect Trump — in addition to a bit of witness tampering in his own trial. 

In the months before the 2016 election “former unpaid campaign manager” Manafort gave polling data to a Putin connected oligarch (also indicted by Mueller), that included polling research on the key swing states Wi. and Mi. that Trump won by a combined 0.9% or 33,500 votes (see below, email I sent to my sister a few weeks back).   

The mountain of damning facts, first-hand witness testimony (in addition to numerous key fact witnesses blocked from testifying), the numbingly seamless regularity of Trump’s corruption —  overwhelming, sickening and, in some odd way, complicated.  That odd way is the constant lying spin FOX, Barr and Trump himself are always spewing– the constant invocation of conspiracies, no matter how ridiculous and debunked, hardens already inflexible minds to hate instead of reason.  In the war of pure hate and pure reason… well, history is not much consolation there.    I still cling to my belief that Americans are not, by far, the stupidest and most grievously manipulated populace in history… you know what I’m sayin’?

A note on the 2016 electoral mandate that sick, dangerous, unprincipled traitor Democrats are trying to unethically overturn using a fake, illegitimate, illegal, foul-smelling, inferiority complex-fueled, insane, corrupt, conspiracy-based partisan impeachment:

According to the final tallies, Trump won Pennsylvania by 0.7 percentage points (44,292 votes), Wisconsin by 0.7 points (22,748 votes), Michigan by 0.2 points (10,704 votes). If Clinton had won all three states, she would have won the Electoral College 278 to 260.

These figures, and that stunning second sentence, are from the conservative weekly rag Washington Examiner which recently wrote that impeachment has caused Trump’s popularity to soar to 48% and cites a poll showing he beats each and every one of the Democrats in 2020 with the exception of Bernie.   They have Bernie beating Trump 50-49, which they point out is well within the margin of error.   Everybody else, Trump whips handily, according to the trusty Washington Examiner.

I’ve seen the same numbers (the 2016 margins) in more reputable sources, but even these John Birch assholes report the accurate, paper thin margin of Electoral College victory, which calculates to a margin of 0.000609375% of the 136,000,000 votes cast in 2016.   Trump won Florida by a whopping 1.2 percent, six times his margin in Michigan.

Build that wall!   Build that wall!!!

 

[1]   the skinny on Viktor Yanukovych:

In February 2014, Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war, as violent clashes between protesters and special police forces led to many deaths and injuries.[12][13][14] On 21 February 2014, Yanukovych claimed that, after lengthy discussions, he had reached an agreement with the opposition.[15] Later that day, however, he left the capital for Kharkiv, saying his car was shot at as he left Kyiv, and travelling next to Crimea, and eventually to exile in southern Russia.[16]

On 22 February, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove him from his post, on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his duties.[17] Parliament set 25 May as the date for the special election to select his replacement,[17][18][19][20] and, two days later, issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of “mass killing of civilians.”[21] After his departure, Yanukovych conducted several press conferences. In one of these, he declared himself to remain “the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state elected in a free vote by Ukrainian citizens”.[22] On 18 June 2015, Yanukovych was officially deprived of the title of President of Ukraine by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.[23] On 24 January 2019, he was sentenced in absentia to thirteen years’ imprisonment for high treason by a Ukrainian court.[24]

Religious Fanatic, Polished Partisan Liar, Authoritarian and ‘Pathetic Porcine Puppet of a Puerile President’

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A few recent sickening details HERE.

The burning soul of fellow religious fanatic lawyer Antonin Scalia lives on in Bagpiper Bill Barr,  the relentless, moralistic worldview that justifies every outrage in lawyerly cavil.  They are the moral equivalents of the original Jesuits, lawyers for the Spanish Inquisition, defenders of the faith and the auto de fe. 

The over-the top, in-your-fucking-face-asshole stuff this man spouts is horrifying.   He was careful not to tip his hand during the confirmation process, not to mention his fervent willingness to protect the president for anything and everything, erring on the side of caution.  Now that he’s the top law enforcement officer in Trump’s United States of America, he’s playing with house money.  He’s in like Flynn, like Kavanaugh, like Trump himself.

His moralistic war-like view of life, Christian Good versus Secular Evil, stems from his conservative, religious worldview — if Jesus tells you what to do, you never have to worry about not being right.  Anyone who opposes you, for any reason, is irredeemably evil, end of story.   This merciless worldview flows from an enraged morality, the logic cold and final, expressed, even if ineloquently, in provocative terms no law can touch.

If I was a better person, a better Christian, I might be able to take a less violent view of this latest incarnation of that power-drunk, unappealably assertive religious zealot who wants to make you do the thing whether you want to do it or not, whether its fair or not.   I’m just not that good, yet. 

If you want to get your guts in an uproar, go  read this short insightful article about this righteous, wrathful, Christian warrior and the latest outrage from Trump’s personal Roy Cohn, the (historically corrupt) Attorney General of the United States (for fuck’s sake).

 

transcribed for you…

In Atlanta on Friday, America’s greatest winner said (to a smattering of applause from an all-time record crowd, a historic crowd, gigantic, standing room, lined up outside the immense, overflowing hall all the way to the Georgia/Florida border):

“Now Democrats and the media have launched, and they are partners, you know that, the deranged, hyper-partisan impeachment witch hunt, a sinister effort to nullify the ballots of sixty-three million patriotic Americans, it’s not happening, by the way, it’s failing, it’s failing fast, it’s all a hoax, it’s all a hoax, it’s failing fast… Democrats are willing to destroy the foundations of our society and the pillars of our justice system, and judicial system, in their craven pursuit of power and money.”

And God bless these United States.  (See my previous post for a quick fact check, I’ll get off this nauseating subject soon, hopefully)

Republican talking point about impeachment — not entirely true

Update:  This is what you do when you fuck up and say something that is factually wrong.  You acknowledge your mistake and correct it.   Novel idea, I know.  Here we go.

WHOOPS, this Republican claim about Clinton’s impeachment not starting until his second term is entirely true. I was wrong about the date, completely and clearly wrong.   He was elected to his second term in 1996.  The impeachment began well after that date, as the Republicans have been pointing out in support of their idea that Democrats are trying to nullify the will of the voters who put Trump in office. (see footnote 3)

It’s not that Republicans didn’t do everything possible to hobble, compromise and humiliate Clinton before impeaching him, it’s just that they didn’t have firm grounds for it yet during his first term.  The story line of how they got the Clinton perjury and obstruction charges gets a little complicated.

The Supreme Court didn’t allow Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit against sitting president Bill Clinton to go forward until 1997, during Clinton’s second term.  It was a unanimous Supreme Court decision, by the way.   Once that lawsuit was allowed to go forward the Jones lawyers were able to subpoena Monica Lewinsky.  Monica Lewinsky was grabbed by the FBI under Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s direction (they called the grab “Prom Night”) and threatened her with a long prison term for her perjury in an affidavit (denying having had sex of any kind with Clinton) she wrote in connection to her subpoena in the Paula Jones suit.  Kenneth Starr’s team got the goods on Lewinsky and her affair with Clinton from her confidant Linda Tripp, who gave them audio evidence of the affair and led them to the Blue Dress with Clinton’s DNA (in the form of his semen) on it.  

The impeachment was started in October 1998, during Clinton’s second term — well AFTER his reelection in 1996, after Starr’s team had secured Clinton’s perjury relating to Lewinsky also lying about it in the Jones case (thrown out of court, appealed and settled by Clinton prior to the appeal being heard with an $850,000 payment) [1].   Familiar conservative lawyers played key roles in the case. {2]

I don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I wrote this piece I posted the other day  — and apologies to Brian Lehrer, he was right as rain.  Take the following with a grain or two of salt– my facts are dead wrong in relation to WHEN the impeachment started, it wasn’t right before the 1998 presidential election, that’s for sure.   I’ve corrected the errors in the original, like so:

Republicans have taken to calling the Trump impeachment inquiry an unprincipled, anti-democratic Democratic end-run around the will of the People. [3] Let the American voters decide in 2020, they say.   They point out that when they were in power they didn’t start the impeachment against the hated liar and fornicator Bill “Slick Willie” Clinton until after his re-election.  I heard Brian Lehrer repeat this inaccurate statement the other day on his otherwise excellent Impeachment, a daily podcast (I need to drop Brian a line, he’d want to know).

History is history and, although it is easily enough forgotten and ignored,  you can look up the dates that certain things happened and read certain undisputed details of public events.   You can make a confident declaration about some verifiable event in the past and simply be — inaccurate.  (AS I WAS IN THIS POST, AS TO THE TIMING OF CLINTON’S IMPEACHMENT)   It’s very easy to verify things like dates using the phone in your pocket 24/7– if you’ve got the time (or if you think for as long as it takes to recall that presidential elections occur every four years, 00, 04, 08, 16 etc.) . Just the facts, ma’am (though no longer in support of my original idea):

The impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated on October 8, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives voted to commence impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, for “high crimes and misdemeanors“. The specific charges against Clinton were lying under oath and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones and from Clinton’s testimony denying that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.  The catalyst for the president’s impeachment was the Starr Report, a September 1998 report prepared by Independent Counsel Ken Starr for theHouse Judiciary Committee.[1] 

You can look it up, or just read the summary here.  One month before the 1998 presidential election [WTF?  the election  was two years earlier, the date is always a multiple of four– ed.], Newt and the boys started taking America back.   Talk about your October surprises.

Just sayin’…

 

[1]   Wikipedia:

Jones’s suit was dismissed as lacking legal merit prior to Clinton’s impeachment and the exposure of the Lewinsky affair. But in August 1998 Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky, and compelling evidence that he had lied about it under oath in the Jones suit, was brought to light. At that point Jones appealed the ruling, and her appeal gained traction following Clinton’s admission to having an affair with Monica Lewinsky in August 1998.[1]

On appeal, Clinton agreed to an out-of-court settlement, paying Jones and her lawyers $850,000 to drop the suit; a substantial portion of the settlement was expected to pay Jones’s legal fees.[2] Clinton’s lawyer said that the President made the settlement only so he could end the lawsuit for good and move on with his life.[3] Jones and her lawyers have said the payment is evidence of Clinton’s guilt.

[2]  Wikipedia:

[Ann] Coulter first became a public figure shortly before becoming an unpaid legal adviser for the attorneys representing Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton. Coulter’s friend George Conway had been asked to assist Jones’ attorneys, and shortly afterward Coulter, who wrote a column about the Paula Jones case for Human Events, was also asked to help, and she began writing legal briefs for the case.

Coulter later stated that she would come to mistrust the motives of Jones’ head lawyer, Joseph Cammaratta, who by August or September 1997 was advising Jones that her case was weak and to settle, if a favorable settlement could be negotiated.[21][137] From the outset, Jones had sought an apology from Clinton at least as eagerly as she sought a settlement.[138] However, in a later interview Coulter recounted that she herself had believed that the case was strong, that Jones was telling the truth, that Clinton should be held publicly accountable for his misconduct, and that a settlement would give the impression that Jones was merely interested in extorting money from the President.[21]

 

[3]  Leave aside that the will of the People was to elect the almost equally unpopular Hillary Clinton, by about a 3,000,000 vote margin.  Trump won the Electoral College, fair and square, by about 78,000 votes in three brilliantly played key states.