Nothing whatsoever to see, or smell, here

From a recent Washington Bezos exclusive:

Prospective jurors in [Roger] Stone’s trial had completed confidential questionnaires that asked for their views on Trump, Stone and others caught up in Mueller’s investigation. Stone’s lawyers agreed to keep the responses confidential, and no details had been disclosed publicly. Questionnaires completed by those selected as jurors were later leaked to right-wing operatives, prompting an FBI investigation. No findings were ever publicly disclosed.

Striving, belatedly, to be a mensch

The Yiddish word mensch, (a word European Jews took from the German word for “man” [1]) refers to a person who acts the way we all recognize everybody should act.   A world populated by mensches, with mensches in charge of governments and communities, would be much different, and much fairer, than the one we live in now.

When a mensch makes a mistake she doesn’t justify it, or blame someone else, she rectifies it as quickly as she can.   When a mensch sees somebody being attacked, she steps in to try to prevent harm.   When a mensch sees you’re hurt, she comforts you.  You can be confident taking a mensch’s word they will do what they say, knowing they’ll do everything they can to keep a promise.   Here’s google’s first hit when you ask for a definition of mensch:


  1. A person of integrity and honor.
  2. Alternative spelling of mentch.
  3. a decent responsible person with admirable characteristics

It is my experience that most people consciously try to be a mensch, challenging though it is in many situations.   We all do what we believe is right, we try to treat others in ways that wouldn’t be hurtful to ourselves, we try to extend understanding to loved ones who hurt us. 

The hardest part of being a mensch is when we are hurt, especially if we are blamed for being hurt.  In that situation it can suddenly be impossible to act according to your better nature, your pain blocks the way.  You can find yourself isolated in an emotional dead-end with no way out, unless your hurt is acknowledged by the person who hurt you.  That situation can be a mensch-trap, since hurt caused accidentally is very hard to take responsibility for.  Hurt you actually, objectively, didn’t cause, though insistently blamed for it, is almost impossible to acknowledge or seek forgiveness for, because, truthfully, what am I expected to apologize for?

I put somebody I love in this position recently, for a long time, blamed her for an impossible, almost year-long stand-off and couldn’t see the unfairness of my position until yesterday, when I finally wrote a chronology that helped me see her role in a very difficult situation differently.  She is not to blame for any of this ugly shit, she and I actually worked out what we needed to on the phone almost a year ago.   

I feel awful for blaming her and will try my best to get her to accept my apology, express my understanding of why she had every right to be upset with me,  why it was wrong of me to demand an apology for her doing the best she could under circumstances so emotionally tangled that right now I can’t imagine how to explain them to her at the moment without making things worse.   I’ll stick to making amends. She would be perfectly within her rights to still be mad at me, but I hope she won’t be.

Trying my best to belatedly fix things with somebody I hurt doesn’t make me a mensch, but it hopefully makes me less of a schmuck.    If I can manage to reassure her of my love without bringing in too much of the impossible tangle (not her fault) that may need a professional’s help to untangle, I will have done the best day’s work in a long time.  I hope she’ll be able to forgive me.

[1] A certain generation of Germans refined this term to classify menschen by category, there were menschen, regular guys, ubermenschen — supermen — and üntermentschen, subhuman, contemptible excuses for humans that needed to be dealt with as harshly as possible to avoid contamination of the rest of the population.

I hope this doesn’t sound judgmental

You deserve friends who make you laugh, feel loved, comfort you when you need comforting, accept your limitations and quickly work out any problems with you when they see you are unhappy.   

You deserve friends who always give you the benefit of the doubt, who accept when they’ve hurt you and always do their best to make amends and not let you sit in pain. 

You deserve friends who return your best efforts at kindness and friendship with their own best efforts.   We all deserve that. 

We are lucky when we find real friendship and should remember to be grateful for every day of it.  Friendship should never be taken for granted, it is mortal, just like us.


My best advice to you when times are tough for you — and what I’m going to say might seem like very, very tough love — never, ever lose your patience with people who hurt you, no matter what.

Once you lose patience, and the ability to hold pain inside, forever, if necessary, you become the problem and the focus of everyone else’s defensiveness. How can you be worthy of friendship when you make people who hurt you feel so defensive?

Think about it like this, my constantly complaining friend, giving in to frustration is like inconsolably protesting that it’s wrong for the corpse you loved so much in life to keep lying there like it’s dead and not getting up to hug you.

I may not be able to take this advice about endless, limitless patience myself, you understand, but if you don’t, you are going to have big problems. Trust me on that one.

Jennifer Rubin — homerun

Writing in the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin makes an irrefutable argument against the popular media talking point that prosecuting those who participated in a many tentacled plan to overturn a democratic election would somehow make us look like a Banana Republic.

Here is her short list of things a democracy must prosecute such people for if it is to protect democracy itself:

How do you know democracy is unraveling? It is when an incumbent does these sorts of things:

Refuses to acknowledge he lost an election.

Uses captive media outlets to undermine the sanctity of elections and lie about election “fraud.”

Ignores mounds of evidence showing the election was legitimate.

Attempts to use the Justice Department to throw doubt on the legitimacy of an election.

Pressures state officials to “find” just enough votes to change the result of a key state.

Pressures state officials to retract voting certificates and create fraudulent documents to override the will of the people.

Cooks up a scheme to retain power that his own counsel understands would be illegal.

Pressures his vice president to disregard his oath and help facilitate the coup plot.

Calls angry people to show up at the nation’s capital just when the legislature is counting electoral votes and promises the gathering will be “wild!”

Invites an armed, unhinged mob to march on Congress and promises to join them in confronting the elected leaders carrying out their constitutional duties.

Incites the crowd to hold his vice president responsible for not having the “courage” to overturn an election, even as the violent mob moves in on him.

Refuses to use law enforcement or national security personnel to put down his supporters’ violent insurrection.


Let Heather tell it:

This morning, Jon Swaine and Dalton Bennett of the Washington Post reported that on October 11, 2019, at Trump’s National Doral golf resort in South Florida, Danish filmmakers caught an unguarded conversation between Trump allies talking about their legal exposure because of their work for the president. 

Recording a documentary about Trump’s friend and operative, Roger Stone, the filmmakers caught Stone and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Stone’s lapel microphone talking about Stone’s upcoming trial for lying to Congress and witness tampering during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. . .

. . . [Trump advisor and campaign chief executive Steve] Bannon viewed Stone as the Trump campaign’s access point to WikiLeaks.” Stone lied to Congress five times, interfering with their Russia investigation, and threatened another witness to try to keep him from exposing Stone’s lies.

At the time the new tape was recorded, Stone was complaining that prosecutors were pressuring him to turn on Trump, and on the tape, said he might “have to appeal to the big man.” Gaetz can be heard agreeing that Stone was “f*ck*d,” but Gaetz didn’t think he would “do a day” in prison. Claiming he had heard it directly from Trump, Gaetz said: “The boss still has a very favorable view of you,” and continued, “I don’t think the big guy can let you go down for this.” “I don’t think you’re going to go down at all at the end of the day,” Gaetz told Stone.

Gaetz sits on the House Judiciary Committee and thus had seen portions of the redacted sections of Special Counsel Muller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the committee members were prohibited from talking about it except among themselves, Gaetz talked with Stone about it, telling him that he was “not going to have a defense.” 

And it just gets deeper and deeper as Bagpiper Bill Barr waltzes in, at the big guy’s urging. read on:

Why it is better to write than to bang your head against the wall

Sometimes the quiet focused conversation you need to address vexations is best done on a page, between yourself and an imagined reader.  In a tense real-time conversation about things that trouble us, tempers can quickly become inflamed.  As soon as people feel defensive it becomes a tit for tat pissing contest between righteously offended parties instead of a productive conversation.   People will sometimes expect much more from you than they do from themselves.   

“You made them feel defensive!  No wonder they attacked you!” a crying loved one will conclude afterwards, when anger erupts and all attempts at peacemaking have been angrily batted away.  Your loved one will be too upset to help you much at that point and you will strain things between you by continuing to try to puzzle through it aloud.

So, a blank page.  And the opportunity to finish the thoughts angry, upset people won’t let you finish, a time to puzzle through, find and state a difficult thing clearly without static, interruption, endless challenges before you complete a sentence.   

Look, right here I can pause (with no pause showing), in a way that’s impossible to do when someone is indignant at something you are saying, will not hear it, glares and angrily points to your inability to control your emotions.

Anger happens between people when there is hurt.   In my experience, when you are upset, the best thing to do is start with a thought and a blank page.   Look how many times you can stop, read, reflect, remove a distracting word, add a sentence that clarifies what you need to express, to make your thoughts and feelings understood.  The primary benefit of this exercise, this struggle toward clarity, is for yourself, I have learned.

Others will not often be persuaded, by even the most gentle statement of something they don’t want to hear, are incapable of hearing.  It is hard to read something intended to make you question your own certainty, the rightness of your own behavior.  We live in a defensive, competitive society, a litigious culture.   In this place, if you have a problem, be prepared for a battle, even if (or especially if, perhaps) you write with the dispassionate  mildness of a sage.

“See, you’re using your talent and training, and fifty years of daily practice, to get an advantage over me because you don’t have the courage to confront me to my face!”

Be under no illusions about anyone else being influenced or moved by what you write, no matter how carefully you try to treat their injured feelings.  I had a tremendously long email correspondence with an argumentative old friend who had exploded at me several times, angrily hanging up on me the last time we spoke, after firing off a string of curses.  Some, perhaps many, would have pronounced the friendship dead at that point, but. realizing he’d been at the end of his rope, I tried to patiently lay out the tensions between us, trace what had led to his anger, point to ways we could repair our frayed friendship and become better friends to each other.   

He wrote back thanking me for my patience, and for showing him understanding instead of anger or blame, but told me he still didn’t grasp what I was actually trying to say and therefore was unable to respond to any of it.  He asked me to try to make it clear for him. I clarified each thought I’d sent him, in detail.  He thanked me for my efforts, but indicated he was still at such a loss that he was unable to respond to any point I’d raised.  Perhaps if I dropped the mildness mask, he suggested, and just honestly and directly told him why I’d been upset with him (I had, but not in a way this longtime lawyer could understand, apparently).   When I did, he was outraged and claimed to have read all of my long emails again “searching in vain for the slightest clue” about why’d I’d been so upset, though I was certainly making my anger at him clear.  Case closed.  I gave him the last word.

You may write something so clear that in the writing of it you finally understand a thing that has been too painful to confront.  The beloved child you have been carrying on your back for so long, the kid who hasn’t been responding when you talk to her, is actually dead.  The most beautiful poem ever written will not bring her back.

You deserve love

You deserve friends who make you laugh, feel loved, comfort you when you need comforting, accept your limitations and quickly work out any problems with you when they see you are unhappy.   You deserve friends who always give you the benefit of the doubt, who accept when they’ve hurt you and always do their best to make amends and not let you sit in pain.  You deserve friends who return your best efforts at kindness and friendship with their own best efforts.   We all deserve that.  We are lucky when we find real friendship and should remember to be grateful for every day of it.  Friendship should never be taken for granted, it is mortal, just like us.

The hard part of friendship is when you are deeply hurt by a friend who then feels defensive and needs to feel understood themself about why they hurt you, tells you why you shouldn’t have been so hurt, why they couldn’t respond to you any differently, why what you needed by way of honest acknowledgment of what happened was impossible for them for a list of perfectly valid reasons — and, perhaps most importantly, how hurt they were by you saying they hurt you.  Your emotional emergency, they might explain, does not make it their emotional emergency, since they are very busy with many responsibilities and loved ones to take care of.   It can sit, until there’s time, until people are not under stress, until everyone is nice and calm.  That period of silence will give the hurt party time to heal, presumably, and then cooler heads will prevail and everything that is bothering everybody can be left in the past as the simple human mistake that it was.

The hardest part about friendship is the expectation that, no matter what, you need to take our undying love as beyond question or doubt, to understand things we can never explain, acknowledge or stop justifying.  We all have reasons for our actions and inaction, we all believe we are justified in what we do or don’t do, that we are not emotionally volatile assholes who hold in a lifetime of painful feelings and simply lash out in frustration and misplaced anger sometimes.   

“OK, fine, you want to blame us for your pain, your childish need to be the eternal victim?  Yes, we could have behaved better, we could have listened, we could have responded, we could have reached out after you reached out to us, but we didn’t, so just get over it, either accept our understandable human limitations, and our love (which you obviously don’t know how to return) or be on your miserable way.   Our life is good, and full, and fulfilling and we can’t really help you with your immense reservoir of pain, anger and need to blame others for your own problems.” 

If we are filled with infinite love, patience, wisdom and compassion we may be able to understand that position as a somewhat defensive expression of true, deep friendship, in spite of its seemingly harsh nature.  If not, we remain hurt, locked in a childish feeling of being unloved and ready to lash out even when our old friend drives hours after a day of work to prove his friendship by being there, even if unable to offer any actual comfort, to absorb a final, typical, angry outburst or two.  Push an asshole far enough emotionally, et, voila, they revert to their sickeningly aggressive, threatening, childish type.   

Nobody wants to hear your justifications for why you felt entitled not to continue to hold your pain and frustration in, after way less than a year of simply not being heard.  It’s just sad that you need to weaponize a few months of innocent, perfectly understandable silenceFriends don’t make you sad, friends help you.”

Joseph fucking Caffari finally makes the news

If this Washington Post caption is not the most chilling one you’ve read this month, I’d hate to see the one that chilled you more:

Chad Wolf, a former secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, during the America First Policy Institute’s America First Agenda summit in Washington, D.C., US, on Monday, July 25, 2022. The nonprofit think tank was formed last year by former cabinet members and top officials in the Trump administration to create platforms based on his policies.

“To create platforms based on his policies.”   Trump’s policy is simply self-promotion and the corrupt exploitation of everyone else for the profit and glory of himself and his gold-plated brand.  Similar to the GOP party platform for 2020 — whatever the Orange Autocrat wants, baby.

Breaking news:  Joseph V. Caffari, Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, Trump-appointee, has been hiding his knowledge of the destruction of evidence of likely crimes for months.  Also implicated in the destruction of January 6th evidence story (although not the cover up), surprisingly, are Trump’s former acting  DHS secretary (Trumpie said he loved acting, can hire and fire ’em at will, no vetting, no pesky Senate advice or consent) Chad Wolf, and another totally like non-corrupt Trump appointee, former acting deputy untersharführer for DHS Ken Cucinelli, all of their texts from that period also, unfortunately, accidentally deleted in the routine “reset”.   America first, baby.

Carol Leonnig reports in the Washington Post:

Text messages for former President Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are missing for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to four people briefed on the matter and internal emails.

This discovery of missing records for the senior-most homeland security officials, which has not been previously reported, increases the volume of potential evidence that has vanished regarding the time around the Capitol attack.

My man Cuffari doesn’t enter the story til paragraph six, but it’s a pretty good role the tireless watchdog’s got, nonetheless:

The office of Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari did not press the department leadership at that time to explain why they did not preserve these records, nor seek ways to recover the lost data, according to the four people briefed on the watchdog’s actions. Cuffari also failed to alert Congress to the potential destruction of government records. . .

. . .In a nearly identical scenario to that of the DHS leaders’ texts, the Secret Service alerted Cuffari’s office seven months ago, in December 2021, that the agency had deleted thousands of agents’ and employees’ text messages in an agency-wide reset of government phones. Cuffari’s office did not notify Congress until mid-July, despite multiple congressional committees’ pending requests for these records.

The telephone and text communications of Wolf and Cuccinelli in the days leading up to Jan. 6 could have shed considerable light on Trump’s actions and plans. In the weeks before the attack on the Capitol, Trump had been pressuring both men to help him claim the 2020 election results were rigged and even to seize voting machines in key swing states to try to “re-run” the election.

Hmmm, the coincidences here, all amounting to lost evidence of likely criminal conspiracy among top-ranking Trump loyalists, really are amazing, especially since they all seem so eerily like deliberate destruction of evidence and a hamfisted coverup of that destruction of evidence, during an investigation that evidence is extremely pertinent to.   To a paranoid person it could almost seem like part of a long, seamless pattern of ongoing obstruction of justice.


Neither Cuccinelli nor Wolf responded to requests for comment. DHS’s Office of Inspector General [Cufarri] did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Wolf and Cuccinelli had remained at DHS as Trump openly challenged the 2020 election results, even though the agency led efforts to help state and local governments safeguard the integrity of the election results.

Starting in late December, numerous DHS intelligence units across the country were warning of extremely worrisome chatter in white nationalist and pro-Trump social media platforms that were promoting coming armed to Trump’s Jan. 6 rally and using violence to block Biden from becoming president.

In late December, Trump railed in a Cabinet meeting that his secretaries were failing to properly help him investigate fraud that had corruptly “given” the election to Joe Biden, but cited unsubstantiated claims. Trump fired Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in a tweet after Krebs countered Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud, and complained that Wolf should have moved faster to force Krebs out. . .

. . . Wolf had resigned five days after the attack on the Capitol, and cited “recent events” as well as legal rulings questioning his legitimacy to continue leading the department as an acting secretary for 14 months. . .

. . . A Government Accountability Office report in 2020 found that Wolf and Cuccinelli were ineligible to serve in their positions because their appointments had not followed the proper order of succession, an issue the GAO referred to the DHS Office of Inspector General. [that would be our boy Joseph V. Cuffari, for those keeping score at home]

Oh, my God!  Is there no end to the unfounded partisan insinuations against poor Mr. Trump?!  Here is the rest of Carol Leonnig’s scabrous story: