Category Archives: Authoritarianism

Afternoon Notes: Epstein, the House Intelligence Committee Report, MSNBC,Ukraine

ukraine scandal

 

House Intelligence Committee Report

The House Intelligence Committee has released their preliminary impeachment report.

Included are phone records that document phone calls between Giuliani and OMB, made from the White House.  This makes it impossible to maintain the fiction that Giuliani was conducting a “rogue operation.”

Epstein

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told The Miami Herald on Wednesday that he does not believe investigating the outcome of pedophile multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s case is a wise move, saying it would set a “dangerous” precedent of second-guessing prosecutorial decisions.” The Intellectualist.

If you don’t know just how outrageous this plea deal was, you need to do some reading.  The plea deal immunized not only Epstein, but anyone associated with him, unnamed.

Ukraine Scandal

Seth Abramson pointed out on Twitter that the Trump/Ukraine story is far worse than the Democrats are presenting.  They are conducting a concerted attempt to dumb down the impeachment inquiry to the most elementary story hoping that then, people will understand it.

Abramson writes: “It’s much worse than we’ve been told.”

Trump, Pompeo, Giuliani, Nunes, Solomon, Parnas, Lutsenko and Fruman, Abramson notes began their plotting much earlier than is being considered.  (Note: Schiff referred to this in his statement today after the report was released).

The plotting began at a time when the participants didn’t know if Mueller would take down Trump.  It started when Trump learned he was being investigated over Russia.

Trump, Abramson argues, believed that Mueller would take him down.  The push towards Ukraine was a defense to allegations he knew were being made against the Kremlin, which he believed were going to be connected to him via Manafort.

This was not a plot against Biden.  Biden was just the icing on the cake.

“This was a plot to exculpate Trump, Putin and the man who connected them: Manafort.  It was a plot to end sanctions and pave the way for Trump deals in Russia.”

The key events started before anyone knew that Biden was going to run for president.

Duncan Hunter and Sentencing

Duncan Hunter is going to be allowed to plead guilty to corruption charges he vehemently denied for years.  Hunter claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and a (sign) “witch hunt.”  He refused to admit his wrongdoing, publicly claimed that he was being persecuted and still holds his position in the congress, but he is being allowed to plead guilty to one charge.  Even though he has been charged with multiple crimes, and potentially faces five years in prison, the reporting is that he will most probably get a little over a year.

There is no functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and state criminals in this country.  That’s why Trump and Manafort and others like them were running around free to engage in political campaigns.  This must stop or we will have no democracy left.

The Corporate Media

At this extremely serious time, Nicolle Wallace has Donnie Deutsch on her show as a member of the panel.  Deutsch is a “marketing expert.”  This, folks, is where we are as a country, and where the corporate media is.

Authoritarianism: Ain’t it Grand?

 

“A …report by the Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to sharply criticize lower-level F.B.I. officials as well as bureau leaders involved in the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, but to absolve the top ranks of abusing their powers out of bias against President Trump…”

 

As Nick Confessori (NYT) pointed out this morning, the very investigation of FBI “spying” or wrongdoing in the investigation of the Trump campaign, is a victory for Trump.

 

Donald Trump made a wild accusation at a campaign rally, based on nothing, and the Justice Department devoted time and resources investigating it.  So, even though they now say that there was nothing untoward in the investigation we have devoted serious attention to a wild accusation.

 

This is exactly what the corporate press does every day.  A substantial part of “Meet The Press” on Sunday was handed over to John Kennedy to propagate Russian propaganda, arguing that the “earth is flat” and that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in the same way as did the Russians (who have been indicted).   Everyone knows that’s fiction, propaganda, so why does Chuck Todd book this liar and give him a platform?

 

The world is moving toward authoritarianism, and corporate media darlings like Nicolle Wallace laugh and joke and just have a wonderful time talking about the minutiae of Trump’s intentions and mind.

 

This is the way a country moves into authoritarianism without realizing it.  If there was something serious going on, wouldn’t the news anchors be talking about it as if it were a serious matter?  That’s what most people think, whether consciously or unconsciously.  When they see Nicolle Wallace having a high old time and Chris Hayes turning the news into a comedy show, they are relieved that they don’t have to take what is a move to a one-party authoritarian state seriously.

 

The corporate media repeatedly presents “both sides” and allows the right to vomit up endless streams of propaganda, treating it as if it were a reasonable narrative.

 

Just as the corporate media presents “both sides” the rational and the bat- shit crazy, Mueller and now the Justice Department Inspector General create a world of legal “bothsidesism.”

 

“The early accounts of the (Inspector General’s) report suggest that it is likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it (Sound like Mueller?), by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication for their rival worldviews.”

 

We can’t let them get away with this.

 

Quotes from NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/us/politics/russia-investigation-inspector-general-report.html

Essential Reading: Cheating Justice

 

Reviewer of Cheating Justice:

“…no one in our government has the backbone or balls to do the right thing.”

Not then, and not now.

Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t remember this book getting a lot of play in 2013. It should have. And, it should be getting a lot of play now in the context of the take-over of the government by a transnational organized crime group otherwise known as the Trump administration.

Elizabeth Holtzman has been on numerous news programs in the past three years, but I cannot remember once, once, hearing her asked about this book, which every news pundit needs to be reading and talking about.

I remember being 20 years old and watching Elizabeth Holtzman on television as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. I stayed home from work to watch her vote for articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1973.

Years later, Holtzman became an outspoken advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.

In this book, Holtzman points out that legal accountability (for Bush and Cheney, et. al.) could have come many years after the president and his staff were out of office.  when she wrote the book, it wasn’t too late.

But, accountability didn’t come.  There was no legal accountability for Bush and Cheney and others who conspired to deceive the American people about the need for a war against Iraq, who broke surveillance law against wiretapping, and who authorized and used the form of torture known as waterboarding.

I live in fear that this is exactly what will happen with Trump and the rest of his chronies, Barr, Mulvaney, Bolton, Sondland, Conway, Bannon…

As Holtzman’s book clearly illustrates, the Trump administration is not the first to use the Office of Legal Counsel as a mechanism to create the impression that their illegal behavior is legal.  The Bush Administration used the Office of Legal Counsel to craft opinions so absurd that they then made the decisions classified so people couldn’t see how rationally tortured they were.   So, this is not the first time the OLC has been an essential part of Executive law breaking.  The OLC is a tool in the kit of unscrupulous authoritarians.

I don’t hear anybody, though, pointing this out.  I don’t hear any discussion of the long history of using the OLC as a weapon.  I don’t remember anyone having Holtzman talk about the OLC and Mueller’s use of the opinion preventing presidental indictment as a dodge to hold him accountable.  I don’t hear anyone having Holtzman talk about the centrality of the OLC in the Republican campaign to install a one-party state in which authoritarian government rules.

This is not the first rodeo for these folks (the Barrs, the Mulvaneys, the McConnells). They know how to play this game and are playing it for all it’s worth. Nobody in the corporate media is talking about it. Instead, the corporate media is mired in the ins and outs of what amounts to Trump psycho babble and hours of analysis of polls they themselves admit are no longer accurate because of changes in technology.  There is endless discussion of the minutia of legal reasoning, whether criminal intent can be established in white collar and corporate and government cases without a verified videotape of the offender committing a specific crime and confessing to it.

There is no discussion of why the laws regarding state, corporate and white collar crime have been rewritten to make them almost impossible to convict on.  There is no discussion of the cowardice of state and federal prosecutors to go after the crimes of wealthy people and the loss of expertise to prosecute complicated cases.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.”)  Where is this discussion?

The Republicans have been laying the groundwork for this take over of democracy for decades. William Barr has been intimately involved in crafting the mechanisms of state to accomplish this purpose. He saw that Trump could be the man they could use to achieve this end, and he auditioned for the job.

These guys aren’t playing. They have been at this for decades and they are not going to give up. People need to stop deluding themselves that this is politics as usual. It is not.

The Chris Coons of the world will sell us out. While congratulating themselves and having the corporate media heap them with praise for “bipartisan” effort,  the Coons will make deals and compromises.  Coons did just that and helped Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court.  The Joe Bidens of the world just want to go back to business as usual – the regular corruption with good manners. The corporate news pundits like Nicolle Wallace will laugh us through normalizing the end of democracy, having a grand old time doing it. The Chuck Rosenberg’s of the world will sooth us and tell us that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, the professionals will save us. They will not. And we must not let them fool us into thinking so.

The leadership of the Democratic party is culpable as well. George W. Bush should have been impeached.  He should have been put in jail along with Cheney.  The man knowingly lied us into a war where almost 5,000 Americans were killed and God knows how many Iraquis.  But he is now treated like a sweet, dottering old fool.  The fact that he is spending his time painting the faces of dead servicemen isn’t even considered weird as hell.

And, we have Nanci Pelosi publicly joking that people wanted her to impeach Bush.  She makes this statement and waits for people to laugh.  How stupid, how naive that people wanted her to impeach Bush.  This is where we are.

“Cheating Justice” is a book that is essential reading for anyone who thinks Trump is different, that Trump is not the logical culmination of Repubican starategy launched decades ago. It is essential reading for anyone who believes that Republicans have been led down an immoral rabbit hole by Trump. It is essential reading for anyone who believes (as Biden purports to) that the Republicans will go back to being rational and honest people after Trump is gone. THEY WILL NOT.

Republicans were corrupt before Trump and they will be corrupt after Trump.

 

Comments on Cheating Justice:

The crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration were exposed but unpunished. “Extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, torture: we cannot live with this legacy, but neither can we seem to escape it. No one is better qualified than Elizabeth Holtzman—prosecutor, congresswoman, member of the Watergate committee—to confront this legal and moral conundrum and show the way forward. Cheating Justice, like its author, is fierce, bold, and unflinching. A powerful, necessary book.”—Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body
Gloria Steinman: The Bush/Cheney administration “subverted civil liberties, human rights and the law itself and then used”… 9/11 to cover it up.”

JohnConyers, Jr.: Holtzman’s book could provide us important insights into “how we can prevent those (actions) from recurring.”

Trump was Organizing a Propaganda Campaign: Against the American People

ukraine scandal

Yet another impeachable offense.  What Trump and Giuliani (and Sondland, Perry and Volker) were organizing was a covert propaganda campaign designed to fool the American people.  And, Republicans are fighting for their right to do so.  This article by Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent, explains the most important point of the Ukraine dirt for money scandal.

Article

Running Covert Propaganda Against Americans Is Illegal. Trump Tried It Anyway.

 

 

The Corporate Media and the Wet Dreams of a Man Who Controls the Nuclear Codes: We Can’t Let Them Get Away with it.

impeach mf

 

It’s been a bad few days, a shocking few days, a disorienting few days.

First, late last week, the story broke that Bill Barr had launched a criminal investigation into the 2016 FBI probe of Russian attacks on the election.  In doing so, the Justice Department became an authoritarian enforcement arm for the White House.  The clear purpose of this criminal inquiry is to harass and punish people in the FBI and the intelligence communities who dared to investigate a transnational criminal who was running for, and then became president, Donald Trump.

But, no sooner had the story broken than the corporate news normalizers (Chuck Rosenberg, et. al.) hit the air waves to tell us that this wasn’t what it was – the use of the Justice Department to prosecute Trump’s enemies.

“It’s only a diversion from the impeachment inquiry,” we were told.  “Barr’s co-conspirator John Durham is a man of integrity, an adult in the room. He would never be involved with anything improper.”  “The investigation is going nowhere.”  “They haven’t even said what crime they were investigating.”  “Let’s wait and see what they come up with.”

There’s a fundamental kind of disorientation you experience when what is right in front of your eyes is denied by others looking at the same thing.  I am used to it from the corporate media, but the past few days have just been crazy-making.

Sunday morning, I turned on the television and before I had a chance to take the first sip of coffee, I was confronted with Donald Trump’s ugly face staring out of the television screen, making some sort of announcement.  I felt like the deer in the headlights.  My partner and I sat propped up in bed, speechless, and listening first to a dead-toned reading of a prepared statement about Bathdadi’s death and then to a totally unhinged Trump wet dream about the actual killing.

When Trump talks about violence he does so with relish.  He draws out the phrases and words almost as if he were tasting them on his tongue.  Sunday, he was visibly savoring the details of Baghdadi’s death.  He was enjoying the video of the man’s humiliation, his crying, his whimpering, his terror.

I have listened to Trump enough to know when he’s pulling shit out of his ass.  I knew even then he was making this up.  What we were listening to was a violent wet dream inside the diseased head of a man who controls the nuclear codes.  I felt nauseous.

Donald Trump’s brain is filled with sick-making fantasies.  Some of these fantasies are of the terrorizing, humiliation and utter destruction – in slow motion and in technicolor – of his enemies.  What we were listening to Sunday morning was what he would like to do to anyone who opposes him.  What we were listening to was what he would do to anyone who opposes him if he thought he could get away with it.  What we were listening to was what he will do to anyone who opposes him if we don’t stop him.

By the time Trump finished and I got to the study to turn on the computer, the corporate media was doing its job.

I sat and stared with disbelief into the face of a young woman reporter who had listened to the same public statement I had.  “Trump” she said “is a vivid storyteller.”  He has an “unconventional style.”

What the corporate media then did throughout the day was transform an obscene display of crassness, mental illness and sadism into a question of style. Donald Trump is not a vivid storyteller. Donald Trump is not unconventional.  Donald Trump is a madman.

I tried to spend most of the day dealing with cats, Naan, and working on a seminar about the 1960 film, Elmer Gantry.

Monday morning, I hadn’t even turned on the television when my Twitter feed went wild.  Reaching over to get the Mini, I read a stream of comments that made me groan out loud.

The two worst people in the entire world (Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika) were evidently on air lecturing the rest of us and calling us “unAmerican” for booing Donald Trump and chanting “lock him up” at a ball game.  These two narcissistic, self-promoting, vacuous and disgusting examples of what this society has become had the audacity to scold and shame American citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.

These two people helped get Trump elected by giving him millions in free air time.  Trump himself referred to them as his “supporters.”  They got his permission before they asked him difficult questions in an interview, and they were partying at Mar-a-Lago after the election.  They saw themselves in the White House.  Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski turned on Trump only after he threatened to (and eventually did) out their adulterous affair.

Morning Joe is usually good fodder and provides such delicious examples of wretched corporate media coverage (not to mention obsequious butt kissing from the panel), but I couldn’t even turn on the television.  I knew I would throw something and I enjoy that television.

By mid-morning my Twitter feed was telling me that the most hypocritical, sanctimonious and compromised of all Democrats, Chris Coons, had joined the Joe and Mika team admonishing Americans for spontaneous political expression.  Coons, while presenting himself as being “bi-partisan” and oh such a good guy, helped arrange a sham “investigation” of Bret Kavnaugh that helped him get to the Supreme Court.

The one true point of all this is that the Club of Elites (including the corporate media and the political establishment) wants to handle the Trump fiasco itself.  They do not want the American people empowered.  They do not want legitimate outrage, protests, boos, chants, action.  They are terrified that people in this country might realize they have the power to throw the bastards out whenever they choose to.  They are terrified that people might realize that they have the power to provide themselves with adequate health care, good public schools, living wages and jobs, a fair criminal justice system.  They have the power to demand that the white collar, corporate and political criminals be put under the goddamn jail for their blatant thievery and gutting of the American economy.

The sheer fact of the matter is that the Joe Scarboroughs, Mika Brzezinski’s, the Chris Coons, the Nancy Pelosis, the Ellens, the Danny Deutschs of the world have more in common with each other than they do with us.

They want Trump out because he’s upsetting the game, but they want to handle it themselves.  That way, the polite in-house corruption, cheating, self-dealing and graft can continue.

The corporate media is not even remotely on our side.  They will debate minutiae, trivialize political division, suppress radical expression, flood the air waves with normalizers. They will never, unless they are forced to by the American people, admit that what we are experiencing is a disaster, a terrifying crisis, the transformation of a once proud democratic country into an authoritarian state.  For as long as they can get away with it, they will tell us to “move along.”  “Don’t freak out.”  Go enjoy yourselves, look the other way.

We must not let them get away with it.

The Most Dangerous Bulls in the Herd: Greg Sargent, William Barr and the Corporate Media

sargent

Yesterday, I spent hours reading about William Barr launching a criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.  What struck me most forcefully was the repeated dismissal of the action by various corporate media commentators.

There is a squad of normalizers out there in the corporate news world, working overtime to convince us that we are not seeing what is right before our eyes, an authoritarian take-over of the state.

The attitude was, “Oh well, this is just a distraction.”  “Don’t worry, there’s nothing there.”  “They don’t even know what they’re investigating.”  “The prosecutor (Durham from Connecticut) is a fine man.”  “Who could imagine that such a fine man would be participating in anything nefarious.”

The Attorney General of the United States has launched a criminal investigation into the Justice Department’s own Russia investigation.  The effect of this investigation will be to harass, to target, and to punish members of the intelligence community and the FBI who dared, dared to follow up credible leads that the Trump Campaign was consorting with Russians in order to steal an election.

As David Lohfman, head of the counterintelligence section at Justice at the time stated Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, “We would have been derelict” had an investigation not been initiated.

But the Attorney General is now using a criminal investigation to punish and silence anyone who participated in this lawful investigation.  And, the normalizers tell us that there’s nothing to see here.

They are tying themselves in knots trying to dismiss what has happened.  It reminds me of a Time Magazine cover during Watergate where all the principles were surrounded by audio tape, desperately pointing at each other.

The normalizers shout that what Barr is doing is merely a “distraction.”

But it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if it is.  It doesn’t make any difference at all why Barr is pursuing this investigation.  Once the Justice Department becomes an enforcement tool of the White House you have authoritarianism.

The corporate media refuses, refuses to state what is obvious to anyone who has eyes and ears.  Instead, they work overtime to bring on the appeasers to tell us that what we are seeing are “stunts” “empty gestures,” nothing to worry about.

I read a tweet from somebody yesterday wondering if the corporate media would have normalized the rise of Mussolini.  I think most definitely so.

I had barely stumbled into my study this morning and turned on the computer before I was confronted with Greg Sargent in the Washington Post making his contribution to the to the normalizing.

Under the headline “Explosive William Barr news points to Trump’s weakness and panic.” (WP 10/25/19), Sargent beings his article with the sentence: “Don’t freak out.”  What?  We’re not supposed to “freak out” over explosive news?

Sargent proceeds to call Barr’s investigation “deeply worrying” a standard utterance widely used yesterday along with “concerning.”  (Concern used to be a noun.)

Then Sargent tells his readers that even though “when we’re talking about Barr, the most nefarious designs imaginable must be treated as a serious possibility,” it’s possible “POSSIBLE” that Barr’s actions are NOT SERIOUS.  Well, hell, it’s POSSIBLE that my head is going to fly off into the goddamn air and become a spotted calf, but I’m not going to waste time talking about it, especially not in the goddamn Washington Post.

Sargent, evidently realizing the utter imbecility of his case, drags in the help of the New York Times, saying that the Times comments that Barr’s actions may “raise alarms” that Trump “is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.”  May?

Both corporate news outlets refrain from saying what is obvious, that Trump and Barr ARE using the Justice Department go to after enemies.  No, The Washington Post and the New York Times must phrase it differently.  According to them, Barr’s actions MAY “raise alarms” that this is happening.  They don’t say this IS happening, or that we SHOULD BE alarmed, what they say (in all the courage of their convictions) is that these things might be happening, and might raise the alarms of a certain unidentified group of people that it might be happening.

Sargent goes on to state that it is “at least possible” that Barr turning the Justice Department into an enforcement branch to silence Trump’s detractors isn’t “quite as serious as it seems.”  I suppose in some goddamn fictional world, that it’s possible that it’s not as serious as it seems, but I don’t know where that is.  In the world I inhabit, it is serious, goddamn serious.  It is using the investigative branch of the government in a blatant action to silence the President’s enemies.

Sargant says it’s POSSIBLE that it’s not as serious as it seems because the investigation might just be an attempt to calm the president.

Following this logic, it’s O.K. if the Justice Department is pursuing bogus criminal investigations if it’s just to calm the president.  WHAT MAKES THAT O.K.?  IN WHAT WORLD IS THAT ALRIGHT?

Sargent sees it as reassuring that neither the Times nor the Post are “clear what potential crime Durham and Barr are investigating.”  No, that’s not reassuring.  That makes it even more terrifying.  The very fact that Barr managed to initiate a criminal investigation based on NOTHING, should be terrifying, not reassuring.

Sargent drags the Cato Institute in and uses them to say that the criminal matter “could be something relatively less serious” say a leak from the Russia probe.  Again, this is supposed to make us feel better?  The Justice Department intends to drag government officials who were doing their jobs through years of investigation and possible prosecution, but if it’s for something relatively minor, we’re supposed to feel better?

Sargent then adopts the Barbara McQuade idiotic statement of the day from yesterday, that this is merely a diversion from the impeachment probe.  Whether or not it is a diversion from the impeachment probe it is a criminal prosecution trumped up for no reason, to uncover no known crime which will chill investigations in the future.

Again, this is said as if since the criminal investigation is a diversion, we should all relax and move on.  I just don’t understand that.

After repeating McQuade’s ludicrous utterance, Sargent then manages to try to tie himself up in knots by stating: “I’m not saying Barr’s machinations aren’t deeply dangerous. They absolutely are.”

Then why has he has just spent an entire article telling us why they AREN’T deeply dangerous?

“Given Barr’s apparent willingness to place law enforcement at Trump’s political disposal, it’s very possible Barr’s designs are maximally nefarious. But one can also imagine the criminal probe is of some intermediate matter.”

What “intermediate matter?”  What difference does that make?

The very fact that Barr has managed to open this criminal investigation is the point.  What he intends to do, what crime he is targeting (if any), whether the investigation will “go anywhere” is not the goddamn point.

Barr’s Justice Department tried to keep Trump’s Ukraine plot buried by advising against the transmission of the whistleblower complaint about it to Congress, and by successfully declining to investigate the referral within the Justice Department.  He has now successfully launched a criminal investigation targeting Trump’s foes.  This is serious.  Any attempt to portray it as otherwise is deeply subversive, that includes opinion pieces from the Washington Post.

I’m beginning to believe that the corporate media is more dangerous than Trump and to borrow a phrase from ancient Rome about Crassus, William Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard.