Afternoon Thoughts: Impeachment, Narrow Focus, Jerry Falwall Jr., Bill Barr and Universities

barr

Some thoughts at the end of the day:

  • Matt Miller said on MSNBC tonight that the Democrats were trying to hurry along the impeachment investigation out of fairness. He maintains they don’t think it’s fair to drag it out longer because it’s an election year.    Is this really what they’re saying?  Can they be that absolutely feckless?
  • When they bring this investigation to a close and vote on the Articles of Impeachment is that it? That’s the end of holding Donald Trump et. al. accountable for all the myriad crimes of this administration?  I simply don’t see how that can stand.  What are the Democrats thinking?
  • I can’t see them bringing another impeachment investigation after the election. They’re going to let the Senate vote not to impeach and then just what?  Ignore everything from them on out?  Let Bill Barr destroy the Justice Department?  Let the Supreme Court destroy the ability of the government to delegate functions to the agencies?  I just don’t understand this.
  • Jerry Falwell Jr. has launched a new think tank. What a ridiculous notion.  The last thing these people do is think.  He and another religious zelot are saying that they are just trying to educate people since the universities have become “liberal indoctrination camps.”  I taught at a number of universities and I can swear that they are nothing of the sort.  The universities are bastions of conventional thinking and teaching.  They sit on top of vast funds and hire professors who can write lucrative grants.  They are concerned with endowments and grants and let me tell you, left wing thinkers don’t get those grants.
  • Republicans widely condemned the auto bailout in the middle of an economic crisis. But, Trump’s farm bailout will cost more than twice what the auto bailout cost.

Some lingering questions:

  • Why won’t the Congress investigate Trump’s financial dealings including his past?
  • Why did Robert Mueller (King of the Chickenshits) purposefully exclude Trump’s finances from his investigation?
  • Why did Robert Mueller give Trump Jr. a “get out of jail free” card with regard to the Trump Tower meeting?
  • How could Mueller possibly say that there was no conspiracy to defraud the government in the Trump administration dealings with Cambridge Analytica and the Russians?
  • Why does the corporate media continue to behave as if this is just politics as usual?

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.”