Just sayin’

As you will recall from the two impeachments of America’s Greatest Compulsive Liar, the mere attempt to do something, if done by or on behalf of the sitting president, is not a crime. Ukrainian president Zelensky never actually went on CNN to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, so… no crime, no quid pro quo. On January 6, a mob may have tried to stop the certification of the election, at Trump’s strong suggestion, even succeeded for a few hours, but an ATTEMPTED coup is not the same as a successful coup, which is why Pence, Pelosi, AOC, Liz Cheney, Kevin McCarthy and company are all still alive to talk about it.

We need to recall this principle, even though it might seem absurd, and, also the above purely academic definition, as we march toward authoritarianism.

American history that “should not” be taught

There is a great outcry now, among Republicans and right wing screaming heads on cable, over curricula that does not emphasize only the glorious, totally non-racist, non-sexist, never the least bit genocidal, history of our exceptional land. A hastily written term paper to this effect, making the case that America’s White Christian values are the essence of our remarkable nation’s values and the source of all justice and freedom, was posted by Trump’s 1776 Commission right before the former president left office, an office he never conceded losing. I laughed when I read that the day after he was sworn in, Biden immediately took that shit off the internet and disbanded the “Commission”.

Now we have fascistic governors like that scary clown in Florida basically mandating the teaching of similar ahistorical bullshit and giving teachers, students and universities loyalty tests as the basis for funding and pay. The rallying cry among these history “purists” is against Critical Race Theory.

Their angry critique is based on three things:

it is clearly critical, right there in the name, which, obviously, makes it bad.

It has Race in the name, which makes it racist, on its ugly face, right there in the name.

It is a theory, meaning that it makes an argument based on history, facts, law and logic and requires a strong, well-informed counter-argument to refute — or it needs to be cancelled in its entirety as racist and critical.

No matter that it is taught in graduate schools, and began as a legal theory in law schools (to explore elusive but prevalent areas of systemic injustice) and has nothing to do with what is taught in public elementary, middle and high schools is immaterial (as Barr later characterized the lies fellow Trump loyalist Mike “Q” Flynn pleaded guilty to telling the FBI), it is still CRITICAL, it is RACIST and, worst of all, it is a THEORY.

Readers of history will recognize a rhyme or two with moments of great division in our shared past. A generation after their beloved pappies, brothers and beaus heroically fought the tyranny of a government intent on destroying their way of life, by outlawing chattel slavery, the Daughters of the Confederacy embarked on a project to glorify what they rebranded as the Lost Cause.

We never fought for slavery, their story went (whatever our articles of succession may have said otherwise), we fought for honor and glory and the right of each state to decide for itself how it wanted to live. History books were written to reflect this story and curricula were introduced in schools to teach this quaint revision of history (during decades of racism at law all over the country which included countless lynchings and filibusters of anti-lynching laws). The monuments to the insurrectionists, slave masters, West Point trained murderers of surrendering Black troops began to be erected during this period, as these determined, history-conscious old women, many of whom had inherited slavery-based fortunes, were starting to die off.

By the time these influential women were all dead the story stuck firmly in the classrooms of the former Confederacy and beyond: the South had fought the glorious Lost Cause for States’ Rights and Freedom, no matter what lying n-words and their mindless radical supporters might say to the contrary. It was never remotely about race, you irrationally angry n-word loving whiners!

Yet in the LIBERAL press you can read a paragraph like this, from an op-ed last week:

The former Confederates had failed to build a slave empire, but they would not accept the demise of white man’s government. As the former Confederate general and subsequent six-term senator from Alabama John T. Morgan wrote in 1890, democratic sovereignty in America was conferred upon “qualified voters,” and Black men, whom he accused of “hatred and ill will toward their former owners,” did not qualify and were destroying democracy by their mere participation. Disenfranchising them, therefore, was not merely justified but an act of self-defense protecting democracy against “Negro domination.”

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Imagine the outrage of that to decent “white” people, that former slaves bore

“hatred and ill will toward their former owners”!

Can you imagine the temerity of those formerly owned democracy destroyers, those savage tyrants?

The writer of that op-ed called his piece The Cruel Logic of the Republican Party, Before and After Trump. Cruelty is often the point of the politics of division (and, yes, Tucker, back in 1890 the racist party was the Southern Democratic party, replaced by the post-Civil Rights Act GOP that turned the former Confederacy solid red on the electoral map). The current Republican party is cruel, in its logic and operation, and in how it deals with anyone it regards as an enemy.

Cruelty works, to inspire terror, rage and cringing loyalty. A reputation for cruelty is a powerful thing. When you are known for being deliberately cruel, you inspire fear as you make people angry (or dead, for that matter). Cruelty infuriates your opponents and critics, who then begin whining and attacking, proving that they are the problem not you. It is the childhood sadist’s tic, I keep poking you in the ribs, harder and harder, until you slap me, then I scream “MOM!!!” and you get a whuppin’.

Here’s historian Heather Cox Richardson, from last night’s installment of her long letter from an American, a curriculum Florida governor Roaring Ron DeSantis (or DeathSantis, as many Floridians call him for his stellar pandemic response) would have her fired for teaching in a publicly funded Florida school:

Trump’s Big Lie has a number of elements that echo the argument behind the organization of the Confederacy in 1861. Like the Confederates, the Big Lie inspired followers by calling for them not to destroy America, but to defend it. The insurrectionists of January 6, and those who continue to insist the election was stolen, do not think of themselves as domestic terrorists, but as patriots in the mold of Samuel Adams. 

“Today is 1776,” Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted on January 6.

The Confederates, too, believed they were defending America. In February 1861, even before Republican President Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, lawmakers for the Confederate States of America wrote their own constitution. It was remarkably similar to the United States Constitution—copied from it verbatim, in fact—except for three key changes that they believed made the original constitution better: they defended state’s rights, denied that the government could promote internal improvements, and prohibited any law that denied or impaired “the right of property in negro slaves.” 

Confederate leaders convinced ordinary white men in the southern states that defending the expansion of human enslavement would be defending the nation against the “radicals” who valued the principles of equality outlined in the Declaration of independence. 

On the basis of that powerful patriotism, they took their states out of the Union shortly after Lincoln was elected president, hurrying to secede while tempers were hot.

But, once they declared an insurrection, they found it hard to keep up enthusiasm for it. Confederate leaders approved the firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861 in part because interest in creating a new nation was fading. The new nation that had seemed exciting and inspiring in the holiday gatherings after the election seemed a little silly in the spring, when attention turned to planting. Sparking a crisis made sure that southern whites did not abandon the Confederacy. And, once the war had begun, white southerners were committed. Wars are far easier to start than to stop.

Trump’s insurrection seems to be facing the same waning enthusiasm that Confederate leaders faced. Saturday night, at his first large rally since January 6, Trump spoke at Wellington, Ohio, about 35 miles west of Cleveland. While attendees responded to his complaints about the election, many left early. Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “there’s a growing recognition that this is a bit like [professional wrestling]. That it’s entertaining, but it’s not real. And I know people want to say, yeah, they believe in the ‘Big Lie’ in some cases, but I think people recognize that it’s a lot of show and bombast. But it’s going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair….let’s move on.”

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Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) told CNN’s Jake Tapper:

“there’s a growing recognition that this is a bit like [professional wrestling]. That it’s entertaining, but it’s not real. And I know people want to say, yeah, they believe in the ‘Big Lie’ in some cases, but I think people recognize that it’s a lot of show and bombast. But it’s going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair….let’s move on.”

There was also the recent Atlantic article with new remarks from Trump’s former loyal gunsel, devout and unprincipled culture warrior Bill Barr. Barr is a gigantic piece of shit I will have to return to soon, unfortunately, because … he’s a gigantic piece of shit who enabled Trump to stay in office by lying about Mueller’s findings, helped his Unitary Executive continue to skirt laws and obstruct justice by employing every legal and public relations trick to spin things Trump’s way throughout his tenure as America’s most openly partisan and truth-challenged AG.

Even Barr bailed when it became clear Trump was determined to overturn the fair election by any means necessary. Even after Barr spent months stoking fears of a massively fraudulent mail-in election and announcing a series of criminal investigations into traitors like Robert Mueller and his zealots, and investigations of alleged voting corruption right up through and immediately after the election. Barr didn’t leave out of principle, he left because he knew his boss was in the process of willfully committing crimes, including incitement to insurrection, that Barr didn’t want to go to jail for.

The Bagpiper is piping a different tune about “obvious” massive mail-in voting fraud these days:

But, rather than looking like heroic patriots [the January 6 MAGA rioters currently on trial], they increasingly look like dupes. Barr’s effort to rewrite his actions is a good indication of which way he thinks the wind is blowing. When he left office shortly before the election, he wrote a glowing letter to his former boss promising to update him “on the Department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued,” and promoting the rhetoric of those pushing the Big Lie: “At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.”   

Today’s article told a different story: “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”

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William Pelham Barr

You can look him up:

Barr has been angrily pushed by Mr. Trump in recent days to use the power of the Department of Justice to DO SOMETHING! After weeks of blessed silence, Barr eventually produced a carefully worded memo of instruction to federal prosecutors to investigate substantial allegations, credible, evidence-based claims of voter fraud or electoral irregularity (there are very, very few out there) cautioning the reluctant dogs he’d unleashed to “exercise appropriate caution and maintain the department’s absolute commitment to fairness, neutrality and nonpartisanship.”

Barr also wrote, as if it needed to be emphasized: “Specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries” and “Nothing here should be taken as any indication that the department has concluded that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election.”

Yesterday sixteen of Barr’s assistant federal prosecutors formally denounced Barr’s weak, politically motivated memo (apparently written solely to placate his seething boss), complaining of Barr’s politicization of the DOJ and noting that, as Barr himself suggests in the memo, there are no credible, evidence-based voting or vote counting fraud allegations to investigate.

Remember Barr’s fearsome, internationally sourced Durham investigation that was going to lay bare the illegal, baseless, partisan conspiracy among Mueller and his Democratic operatives, to claim that the president knowingly accepted campaign help from Vladmir Putin in 2016? There were going to be public announcements of the indictment of traitors right before the election, in the name of justice.

Recall that Barr, as AG, after nullifying the Mueller Report, also made a good faith effort to prevent the credible and urgent whistleblower report on the Ukraine quid pro quo that formed the basis for the president’s impeachment from reaching Congress, as required by law.

Barr has been at this shit for many years, since long before he was a pugnacious teenaged supporter of the Vietnam war (in which he declined to serve), bringing coffee to policemen and duking it out with protesters on his college campus.

Conservative columnist William Safire dubbed Barr, then George H. W. Bush’s Attorney General, the Coverup General. Safire bestowed this name with ample cause — Barr had just successfully covered up his president’s likely role in the Iran-Contra scandal, a role that would have been revealed in the defendant’s copious notes that would become public evidence, had Barr not engineered the daring pre-trial dismissal of Casper Weinberger’s indictment. Barr has proved the aptness of the title Coverup General over and over as Trump’s Attorney General.

He has always been this way, he acts in accordance with his deeply held religious conservative beliefs:

Drug wars, eh? The fault of the victims of the drug wars, no doubt, made dangerous criminals by the random prohibition of certain intoxicants and the harsh punishments for the breaking of such laws. Law and Order at its finest and most just.

After the videotaped public police murder of George Floyd, Barr insisted there is no systemic racism in American law enforcement, claiming that very few unarmed blacks, a mere twelve or so, are killed by police every year. Earlier in his term as Trump’s Attorney General Barr had made this provocative statement, aimed at recalcitrant blacks.

“They have to start showing more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves and if communities don’t give that support and respect they may find themselves without the police protection they need.”

The highly religious Barr makes no attempt to disguise his objective, morally justified, highly combative culture warrior stance. He told a fellow traveler on a conservative talk show recently:

“The Left wants power because that is essentially their state of grace and their [he laughs] secular religion, they want to run people’s lives so they can design utopia for all of us, and that’s what, you know, that’s what turns them on.”

People on the Left need a secular religion, you understand, because Christ fucking hates them.

Make a bowl of popcorn, sit back, and watch this amusing, educational, not specious or speculative segment about a tremendously despicable culture warrior who was, until the election, probably the most dangerous right winger in America:

An anxiety-ridden nail-biter election, somewhat explained by historian Heather Cox Richardson

We are told by the mass media that this election is too close to call right now, very few votes separate the candidates in several “key” “battleground” states. It is not really that close an election, one candidate is about 4,000,000 votes behind the other.

It is only “too close to call” because of a brilliant device, the Electoral College, created, in large part, to preserve the Great Compromise with slaveholders in less populace states (at the time slaves were not considered humans, though a political deal decreed slave men counted for 3/5 of a man — recall the Three-fifths Compromise — for purposes of representation in Congress and Electoral College votes. Slave majority states like South Carolina got a great boon from this deal.). The Electoral College keeps the final decision about the presidency out of the hands of the riffraff, particularly the descendants of former slaves. It should be gone, for many reasons, but it is still the law of the land, as the Framers designed it as part of their Great Compromise with the beneficiaries of the Peculiar Institution (presumably, according to a pious Originalist like Antonin Scalia or Amy Coney Barrett, after direct consultation with the Old Testament God and Jesus Christ Himself).

The night of Election Day, Heather Cox Richardson laid out a bit of our history of the best, most accomplished and most well-born of us keeping the final say in our democracy out of the hands of the crude, dumb majority, entrusting democracy, instead, to the best people, our most refined people.

I have to admit I was not surprised to learn that quintessential American hypocrite Thomas Jefferson, Author of Liberty and enlightened Renaissance Man, played an outsized role in creating an ugly, unintended invitation to future tyranny. Too soon to know if Trump’s lawyers will, against all the odds, find a way to use the Original Intent of the Framers as the last word on who wins and who loses the presidential sweepstakes, no matter how many votes are cast. The facts might make you scream, but, today, a little screaming is probably good for you.

In 2018, for example, people in Florida voted overwhelmingly to restore voting rights to felons. This would have added about 1.5 million people back to the rolls, many of them African Americans. But the Republican legislature passed a law saying the former felons could not vote unless they had paid all their court fines and fees. A federal judge said that law was essentially an unconstitutional poll tax, but an appeals court overturned that decision. Five of the six judges who upheld the law were appointed by Trump.

Today, as well, there are problems with ballots. This summer, the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a major fundraiser for the Republican Party and a key ally of Trump, changed the rules for mail delivery, slowing it significantly. It turns out that more than 300,000 ballots were checked into the USPS mail system but not checked out of it. U.S. District Judge Emmett G. Sullivan ordered the USPS to sweep 27 processing centers for the missing ballots, but USPS officials refused, saying they already had a system in place and that changing it would be disruptive. Sullivan has called the parties in tomorrow morning to discuss the issue.

The problem of voter suppression is compounded by the misuse of the Electoral College. The Framers originally designed delegates to the Electoral College to vote according to districts within states, so that states would split their electoral votes, making them roughly proportional to a candidate’s support. That system changed in 1800, after Thomas Jefferson recognized that he would have a better chance of winning the presidency if the delegates of his own home state, Virginia, voted as a bloc rather than by district. He convinced them to do it. Quickly, other state officials recognized that the “winner-take-all” system meant they must do the same or their own preferred candidate would never win. Thus, our non-proportional system was born, and it so horrified James Madison and Alexander Hamilton that both wanted constitutional amendments to switch the system back.

Democracy took another hit from that system in 1929. The 1920 census showed that the weight of the nation’s demographics was moving to cities, which were controlled by Democrats, so the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives refused to reapportion representation after that census. Reapportioning the House would have cost many of them their seats. Rather than permitting the number of representatives to grow along with population, Congress then capped the size of the House at 435. Since then, the average size of a congressional district has tripled. This gives smaller states a huge advantage in the Electoral College, in which each state gets a number of votes equal to the number of its senators and representatives.

These injuries to our system have saddled us with an Electoral College that permits a minority to tyrannize over the majority. That systemic advantage is unsustainable in a democracy. One or the other will have to give.

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History is always written in blood

History is always written in the blood of the powerless.  Famously written by the “victors,” it casts the suffering and deaths of those who wound up on the short end of things as somehow necessary, a historical necessity for a greater good.   “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” some winners are prone to saying, by way of expressing minor regret about the inevitable — that some “eggs” had to be “broken” so we could enjoy what we have on the table in front of us now.

We watched the public lynching of an American man recently, under the knee of a cop who kneeled on him for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the last almost 3:00 of which the dying man was already unconscious.  We know the exact time frame because of an uninterrupted video of the slow-motion murder by suffocation. 

The video, taken by a high school girl who filmed the entire 8:46 without flinching, left no doubt that we were watching a lynching, a brutal murder committed with, at minimum, depraved indifference to human life.   The man who was killed was handcuffed, subdued, lying face down on the ground begging for his life, in the end calling for his mother.   

George Floyd’s public murder woke people up.   With a serial scofflaw as president, condemning those who took to the streets to protest this lynching as “antifa” extremists (being anti-fascist was until recently a mainstream American value), invoking police violence against peaceful protesters as “law and order,” the time was past due for an accounting.    America has never had a reckoning of any kind with our murderous history of enforced inequality at law.   

That’s an uncomfortable thought for the powerful (and even more so for the powerless, I dare say).   You cannot have forgiveness without some kind of process of reconciliation, some remorseful acknowledgement by the perpetrator that it was wrong to — say, tolerate lynching for hundreds of years.     The symbols of American racism are all around us.  The Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the recently departed John Lewis had his head split open by police while peacefully protesting, in fact, kneeling to pray, in 1965, was named for a Confederate officer, US Senator and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.   Very uncomfortable!!!

Mike Pompeo, to the rescue.  The Koch Brothers’ former personal congressman from Witchita, one of America’s most powerful religious Evangelical Christians, did a little history writing of his own the other day.   With supreme confidence, he made the following remarks at a recent meeting of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.    Note the several sleights of hands Mr. Pompeo employs to make history right.

“These days, even saying that America’s fundamentally good has become controversial… They want you to believe that America’s institutions continue to reflect the country’s acceptance of slavery at our founding.   This is a dark vision of America’s birth.  I reject it.” 

“They want you to believe…”– how ominous!    Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State, went on to single out and flay a favorite right-wing whipping girl, the New York Times. 

“The New York Times’s 1619 Project, so named for the year that the first slaves were transported to America, wants you to believe that our country was founded FOR human bondage.   They want you to believe that America’s institutions continue to reflect the country’s acceptance of slavery at our founding.     They want you to believe that Marxist ideology that America is only the oppressors and the oppressed.”

You understand the logic here:  only a Marxist (godless Commie) could see any connection between our centuries of race-based chattel slavery, a bloody Civil War followed by a hundred years of unchecked, violent Ku Klux Klan rule in the former Confederacy, racist laws nationwide well into the twentieth century [1], a punitive criminal justice system singling out people of color for incarceration and destroying countless lives for non-violent “drug crimes”, the murder by police, without legal consequences, of unarmed civilians, mostly people of color.   This is clearly a strictly Communist-only reading of our great history.  Only a godless Marxist could see it in that hateful way, real Americans understand that, says Pompeo.  

“The Chinese Communist Party must be gleeful when they see the NYT spout this ideology.   Some people have taken these false doctrines to heart.  The rioters pulling down statues thus see nothing wrong with desecrating monuments to those who fought for our unalienable rights, from  our founding to the present day.  This is a dark vision of America’s birth.  I reject it.”

Reject away, sir.   Historical facts, documented and recited, equal Communist-approved “ideology,” nicely done legerdemain, Mike.  Great men, including men who took up arms against our nation, heroes like Edmund Pettus and Nathaniel Forrest Bedford, daring Confederate general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan (photo below) must be remembered in monuments to their greatness, whatever lawless, godless, Marxist, America-hating  rioters might feel about it.

nathan-bedford-forrest-gettyimages-515298300.jpg

“It’s a disturbed reading of our history, it is a slander on our great people.  Nothing could be further from the truth of our founding.”

That the first slaves arrived on these shores before the Mayflower brought the families of our founding fathers here, false!   A disturbed reading, a slander.  Nothing could be further from the truth!   

What the hell do you actually mean by these fighting words, Mike?

I’m tempted to simply say “fuck that fucking pig-faced puto,” but that will change no hearts or minds.   Assuming hearts and minds are still involved, once this kind of angry, determined erasure of history is forcefully undertaken by powerful men.

Do you have a duty to forgive someone who has badly hurt you and then tells you to just fucking get over it, asshole?   Kneeling on your neck until you’re dead — your problem, jerkoff, not mine.  Critical “history” — a bunch of deliberate Commie slanders, NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.  Who are you going to believe, the lying New York Times or my unidentified riot-geared federal troopers and their tear gas, truncheons and blanket immunity from prosecution for breaking your head?

Ah, fuck that fucking pig-faced puto.  America is better than his ilk.

 

 

[1]  Bill Moyers: Let me read to you. Here’s a quote from a Maryland statute in 1957 — 1957! — that you include in the book:

All marriages between a white person and a Negro, or between a white person and a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, or between a white person and a member of the Malay race or between a Negro and a member of the Malay race, or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, and a member of the Malay race, or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, and a member of the Malay race or between a Negro and member of the Malay race, or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, are forever prohibited and shall be void; and and any person violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of an infamous crime and be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for not less than eighteen months or more than 10 years.

That was Maryland law. 

[not ruled unconstitutional until 1967]

and

Moyers:  Bilbo [powerful racist Senator from Mississippi, Theodore Bilbo] said, “One drop of Negro blood placed in the veins of the purest Caucasian destroys the inventive genius of his mind and palsies his creative faculty.” Is it true that the Nazis thought the one-drop rule too extreme?

Whitman: They did indeed. They never proposed anything nearly as extreme as the one-drop rule.

(source– an excellent, if chilling, rundown of some of America’s racist laws and their influence on racial law in the Third Reich)

Of course, as every real American knows, Bill Moyers, long time PBS talk show host (PBS… yo), who, as a young man, worked for and applauded LBJ for his Civil Rights legislation, is a freedom hating old Marxist who spreads slanders against our great, white, Christian nation.

Mitch, Lindsey and Bolton did nothing wrong!

Any indignation about the processes and procedures involved in “exonerating” our serially “exonerated” president, a blameless man however you slice it, is written off as “Trump Derangement Syndrome”  [1].  This syndrome is the same one performed by a childhood bully who uses the victim’s own hand to smack the victim with while saying, with feigned concern, “why do you keep hitting yourself, are you deranged?”  It is also a witty variation on “Bush Derangement Syndrome”, the wild attacks made by angry liberals on history’s second greatest president, George W. Bush.   

While some Americans would consider the open collusion between Republican Senators and the impeached president’s legal defense team, publicly announced by the Majority Leader on the eve of the impeachment trial, another successful chapter of an impressively detailed book of Obstruction of Justice by an innovatively brazen and lawless administration, we can safely dismiss that belief as a symptom of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

At the risk of expressing a bit more of this serious emotional disease:

Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, two of the president’s most passionate supporters, declared up front that they’d work closely with the president’s defense team and do whatever was necessary to quickly acquit the president after an expedited trial pursuant to baseless partisan accusations based on no direct evidence.  Mitch and Lindsey further stipulated, before the trial, that  previously blocked witnesses and previously withheld evidence would probably not be allowed at the trial.  What would the point be, if the goal is to quickly acquit their leader?   

This is kind of arrangement is generally called “collusion” or “conspiracy to obstruct justice”.  A trial without firsthand fact witnesses or documentary evidence  is usually called a “show trial” and has traditionally been allowed only in dictatorships or theocracies.   Before officially assuming their special roles as impartial jurors (the law stipulates that jurors must be free of obvious bias), Mitch and Lindsey (and their 51 Republican co-conspirators) took an oath,  administered by the impartial Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, solemnly swearing to listen to all evidence and render an impartial judgment based only on that evidence.  Hence, the banning of any and all potentially damaging evidence at the trial.  No harm, no foul, no evidence to ignore, no possible jury bias!

Mitch and Lindsey (and fifty other Republican Senators) did nothing wrong, their apologists will say.    If they had, they’d have been arrested and prosecuted for perjury, the “argument” goes, since we are, as we’re often reminded,  a nation of laws.   As it was argued by the president’s lawyers during the impeachment “trial”– Obstruction of Congress is not a crime, particularly when members of Congress participate willingly in the so-called obstruction.  Taking a false oath is no crime for a Senator, nor is it an ethical matter — except between the taker of the false oath and the God they swear to.  Only an actual provable federal crime, which the president himself cannot be indicted for (or even investigated for) while in office, rises to the level of an impeachable, or even censurable, offense in the United States of Trump.

John Bolton has long been a raging asshole who loves the projection of American power through war.   He has argued for years that the U.S. must destroy Iran.   During the time he was Trump’s national security advisor he was seen as more hawkish that the impulsive  Transactionalist-in- Chief, The Artist of the Deal, Mr. No Quid Pro Quo Why Not Quid Pro Quo? himself.   Bolton was fired by Trump, Trump says now, on September 10, 2019, day 83 of the “hold” on military aid to Ukraine, the day before Trump finally allowed the aid to be released.  Bolton and Trump apparently had serious policy disagreements, one being the illegal hold on military aid to Ukraine.   Bolton seems to have finally won that argument, hence his firing the day before the shakedown on Ukraine was ended by releasing the aid.  Bolton claims to have resigned.   Flip a coin to decide which of these unimpeachable public servants is lying.

In a case of having your cake and eating it too, Bolton after refusing to appear in the House Impeachment Inquiry, publicly offered, if subpoenaed (LOL!), to testify in the Senate during the trial itself.  This was great publicity for sales of his soon to be released tell-all book about his time as National Security Adviser to Trump and a safe bet for Bolton.   He had little worry about anyone actually sending him a subpoena for a trial without witnesses and could appear to finally be doing the principled thing, the correct and patriotic thing, without risking book sales or spoiling the dramatic revelations of wrongdoing set forth in the soon-to-be bestseller. 

In refusing to testify in the House, Bolton lawyered up to wait for the court’s permission to testify over the objections of his former employer who was asserting a blanket privilege to block any testimony that could incriminate him.  Presumably this was a byzantine new, Bill Barr-inspired variation of the famous Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.   

It will require a precedent shattering 5-4 partisan Supreme Court precedent to uphold a president’s right to obstruct an impeachment by any means at his disposal.    Much more limited claims of presidential immunity were made by Nixon and Clinton [2] as their impeachment inquiries proceeded.  Only Nixon’s executive privilege to withhold evidence claims reached the Supreme Court, where they were unanimously denied in a precedent that stands until today.  

No matter, John Bolton did nothing wrong, that is, nothing illegal.   Mitch and Lindsey are cool too, the same way.   These are honorable men we are talking about.  And we all know what they say about honorable men.

 

 

[1]  A paroxysm of Trump Derangement Syndrome:

The last few weeks have featured contradictory, largely incoherent “arguments” about why Abuse of Power is no vice– the Founding Fathers liked it just fine, they liked it so well that they never specifically made it an impeachable offense, by deliberate design.   If they had meant to ban it, obviously, they’d have used those exact words “Abuse of Power” and only those words, clearly, because that’s how they rolled (see, e.g.. the clear and unambiguous language of the Second Amendment — “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” ).   As for an unprecedented claim of  absolute presidential immunity and unlimited powers to  obstruct all testimony and evidence that could tend to incriminate him as corrupt, including in any of the several ongoing legal actions into Trump’s secret, shady financial entanglements droning on, even as the impeached president actively and openly colluded with his 53-47 Senate majority to further obstruct justice and grrrrr… grrr… grrrr!  At least we had blessed silence from fucking Bagpiper Bill Barr during that time… along with the wall of silence from Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pence, Rudy, etc.

 

[2]  Wikipedia:

In 1998, President Bill Clinton became the first president since Nixon to assert executive privilege and lose in court, when a federal judge ruled that Clinton aides could be called to testify in the Lewinsky scandal.[15]

Later, Clinton exercised a form of negotiated executive privilege when he agreed to testify before the grand jury called by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr only after negotiating the terms under which he would appear. Declaring that “absolutely no one is above the law”, Starr said such a privilege “must give way” and evidence “must be turned over” to prosecutors if it is relevant to an investigation.

Note: Ken Starr, as Trump’s lawyer, confidently asserted exactly the opposite.

Always himself, our man POTUS

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

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

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Here’s Trevor Noah— and Greta:

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click on frame above for Trevor’s great segment.

Tucking Melz in (Two)

An illustration of the inherent feebleness of even a well-reputed memory (such as my own).  

I noticed that yesterday somebody had clicked on an old post called “Tucking Melz In” and I told Sekhnet the story.   Later I read the piece and was amazed to find a significantly different anecdote, bearing little resemblance to what I’d just told Sekhnet, which was, minus the first paragraph (which she already knew) which was:

Five and a half years ago an old friend, Melz, succumbed to a rare and deadly form of soft tissue cancer.   When I say succumbed, I mean he died.   The funeral was conducted by his long-time bosom buddy, trained as a rabbi and with a great talent for humanistic public speaking.   He conducted a beautiful funeral.   It’s hard to say how he held himself together the way he did.

Afterwards, at the golf course-like cemetery (no head stones) as we gave our shovels to others who were taking turns burying Melz, according to our tradition, Alan and his wife Terri came up to me.  Alan said (referring to the wonderful funeral oration we’d just witnessed) “you realize, if we die before Sokoll, we’re fucked.  Who’s going to do our funeral?  Think about it!”

I did.  As I was thinking, Sokoll walked by and we told him our concern.  The good rebbe told us not to worry.  “I’ll bury all of you fuckers,” he said, without breaking stride.   Oddly reassuring words.    

After a moment Terri said “let’s go tuck Melz in,” and we walked over and took over the shoveling for a while.

(compare with the original, written a day or two after the funeral)

 

Barr has already been a presidential consigliere

It should not be forgotten, in thinking about William Barr’s long, deliberately misleading infomercial about the alleged non-findings of the Mueller report, (let us not mention his absurd statement about Obama’s “spying” on the Trump presidential campaign or his parroting of other Trump talking points) that the pathetic porcine puppet’s first short term as Attorney General, under George H. W. Bush, was marked by the same kind of toadying personal service to a president threatened by the administration of justice.

George H. W. Bush was defeated in his re-election bid by upstart Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.   Part of the reason Bush lost the election is that the DOJ announced, late in the presidential campaign, that Caspar Weinberger, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defense (while Bush was Vice President), was going to finally be tried for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal.   This prosecution had been delayed for years, but Weinberger was finally indicted by a grand jury in June, 1992, on two counts of perjury and a count of Obstruction of Justice.   The DOJ announced that the trial would begin some time after the presidential election.   Suddenly there was a lot of talk about the role Bush, a former CIA director, may have played in the scandal, a role Bush had always denied playing.

Weinberger was a note taker, and had detailed contemporaneous notes of meetings where the plan to secretly sell arms to the Ayatollahs of Iran, at inflated prices, to fund anti-communist death squads in Central America, in violation of American law, was worked out.   Bush knew he would be in trouble if his attendance at these meetings became public, since he had always denied any knowledge of the meetings that Weinberger had notes of, as he had denied knowledge of the conspiracy.   Weinberger’s notes would become part of the court record and likely made public, during the discovery phase of the trial.  

When Bush lost the election, with Clinton capturing 370 Electoral College votes (almost as many as Trump’s self-proclaimed historic all-time high of 304 in 2016) there was a sudden urgency to do something about Weinberger and his notes.   In late November, very conscious of the threat to his legacy, possibly even his freedom, he elevated William Barr to Attorney General for the very short tenure of his remaining presidential term.  Within a few weeks, Barr helped Bush preemptively pardon Caspar Weinberger– before Weinberger could stand trial for perjury and Obstruction of Justice.  His contemporaneous notes were now a moot point, and just in time.

The pathetic porcine puppet also consulted on the pardons of organizer and funder of right wing death squads and convicted perjurer Elliott Abrams (now one of Trump’s top advisors on how to bring freedom and democracy to Venezuela, natch) and the four other remaining Iran-Contra principals.   When Bush and Barr were done, the Iran-Contra scandal was all but erased from the American collective memory.

Barr was a pathetic porcine puppet then, though loyal to his master.  He is behaving with as much integrity today as he did the last time he was Attorney General.  The shameless fuck is loyal to the president, though, you have to say that for him.