something to think about

In his letter summarizing the findings of the Mueller final report, AG Barr says this about his decision not to pursue an obstruction of justice case against Comrade Trump:

After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.

I highlighted that one section for a reason. There’s actually a Department of Justice manual that articulates the Principles of Federal Prosecution for criminal and civil matters. It lays out reasons for initiating or declining prosecution. The manual says:

[A]s a matter of fundamental fairness and in the interest of the efficient administration of justice, no prosecution should be initiated against any person unless the attorney for the government believes that the admissible evidence is sufficient to obtain and sustain a guilty verdict by an unbiased trier of fact.

Admissible evidence. Not all the evidence, only the evidence that’s admissible. Since Mueller’s mandate includes a counter-intelligence aspect, it’s possible — and maybe even likely — evidence exists that can’t be admitted in open court without compromising counter-intel methods and practices.

Remember too, that it’s Barr’s opinion that Trump didn’t commit obstruction — an opinion he’d actually argued for prior to being selected by Trump to be the Attorney General. Mueller, according to Barr’s memo, “did not draw a conclusion” whether Trump should face obstruction charges.

Why would Mueller decline to make that decision? The answer might be in that same Principles of Federal Prosecution manual. In the section that describes conditions for declining prosecution, the manual includes this:

[T]he attorney for the government’s belief that a person’s conduct constitutes a federal offense and that the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction is not sufficient standing by itself to commence or recommend prosecution. The prosecution must also serve a substantial federal interest, and the prosecutor must assess whether, in his/her judgment, the person is subject to effective prosecution in another jurisdiction; and whether there exists an adequate non-criminal alternative to prosecution.

In other words, the prosecutor can believe there’s enough evidence to convict the accused BUT still decide NOT to prosecute the case IF

  • he feels prosecution wouldn’t serve a federal interest. Mueller might feel that charging a sitting president with a crime would be harmful to governance.
  • the accused is subject to prosecution in another jurisdiction. We know Trump is facing possible criminal charges in the Southern District of New York, in the Eastern District of Virginia, in the District of Columbia, and in New York state. Perhaps Mueller thought one or more of those jurisdictions had a better case against Trump.
  • there’s a non-criminal alternative to prosecution. Like, say, impeachment.

Obviously, I don’t know what Mueller was thinking. What I do know — and what Mueller’s prosecutions demonstrate — is that every guilty plea or guilty verdict he obtained included the accused lying to Congress and/or the FBI. And what did they lie about? Their connections with Russia. Those connections might not directly link them to collusion, but there’s a pattern of behavior that’s obvious.

There was some seriously nasty skullduggery taking place between Trump, his people, and Russian agents. It may not have been actually criminal. It may have been criminal but not prosecutable. It may have been criminal and prosecutable, but not convictable. It may have been criminal and prosecutable and convictable, but not in the best interests of the US government.

But there’s a Russia-shaped piece of the puzzle that’s missing, and right now we can only guess what it represents.

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trump 2020: never indicted!

Jesus suffering fuck. I’m already seeing folks declaring Comrade Trump is going to be re-elected because of AG Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller report.

Take a breath, people. Remember who Bill Barr is. Last year he was a lawyer with Kirkland & Ellis (the firm that also employed Brett Kavanaugh, Robert Bork, Ken Starr, and several lawyers now serving in the Trump administration). Last June Barr wrote an unsolicited 19 page memo to Rod Rosenstein (who oversaw the Mueller investigation) arguing that Mueller’s approach to investigation possible obstruction of justice by Trump was ‘fatally misconceived’ and ‘legally insupportable.’ He said Mueller shouldn’t even be allowed to interview Comrade Trump.

And hey, what a surprise, Trump picked Bill Barr to be his new Attorney General. So having spent part of his weekend reading the report of Mueller’s two-year investigation, Barr concluded he was right last June. He agreed with himself; no obstruction of justice. In other words, Bill Barr did the job he was hired to do: he protected Trump.

Republicans toss confetti, set off fireworks, wear party hats. Democrats weep, rend their garments, cast themselves into the Pit of Despair. And the news media, bless their simple little hearts, repeat that narrative and cast it into the cement blocks Democrats will use to drown themselves.

Trump 2020: Never Indicted!

I totally understand why folks are disheartened and glum. We have a corrupt president supported by corrupt administrators put in place by corrupt senators. But remember this: we haven’t even seen the actual Mueller report yet. We don’t know what it says. But we know this:

  • in the course of the Mueller investigation, grand juries and federal judges approved 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, and 50 pen registers to gather evidence, which we haven’t seen.
  • that evidence resulted in 199 criminal charges against 34 individuals and three companies.
  • seven of those individuals were either members of Trump’s presidential campaign team or closely associated with Trump’s campaign — all of whom have either pled guilty, gone to prison, or are still awaiting trial.
  • at least six other individuals were referred to career prosecutors in the DoJ on related criminal matters; there may be other referrals that haven’t been made public.

Those facts would end any other administration. But there are other investigations still progressing out there. Comrade Trump may have dodged this particular bullet (and ‘may‘ is the operative term), but he’s still facing a whole lot of trouble.

For example, there’s the New York Attorney General’s Office, which is investigating:

  • allegations of illegal operations by the Donald J. Trump Foundation
  • allegations of tax fraud by the Trump family and the Trump Organization
  • allegations of tax evasion by the Trump family and the Trump Organization

And there’s the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is investigating:

  • irregular Political Action Committee activity by the Trump campaign and by Rebuild America
  • matters relating to Russian intelligence operative Maria Butina and her interactions with the National Rifle Association
  • allegations of violations of the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution by Comrade Trump and the Trump Organization
  • irregular spending by the Trump Inaugural Committee

And there’s the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which is investigating:

  • the Russian disinformation campaigns
  • improper Turkish influence in the Trump campaign and administration

And, of course, there’s the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is investigating:

  • various violations of campaign finance laws
  • unregistered foreign lobbying

So even though Comrade Trump and his fluffers are celebrating the end of one investigation, there’s still a metric ton of ugly fetid shit hanging over his head. Some of it’s going to land on him. He may survive his first term, but he’s going to have a hard time convincing anybody but his most loyal supporters that Trump 2020: Never Indicted! is a winning campaign slogan.

guilty af

Okay, so Robert Mueller has punched his time card. He’s done his job. He’s going home, he’s gonna kick off his shoes, crack open a cold one, and sit on the porch with his dog, and later catch up on Game of Thrones. Well done, Bobby Three Sticks.

But today we don’t know what’s in his report (and more importantly, what’s not in his report) and a whole lot of folks are freaking out. People need to follow Mueller’s example. Take off your shoes, have a drink, relax a bit. There’ll be work ahead and plenty of freaking-out time to come. But let’s not forget that regardless of what’s in/not in the Mueller report, there’s one thing we know with mathematical certainty.

Comrade Trump is guilty as fuck. Guilty of a wide range of crimes and misdeeds. Guilty in a legal sense, in an ethical sense, in a moral sense, and in a spiritual sense.

This is what we know:

  • For years Putin’s Russia has been cultivating right-wing, hate-inspired political groups in democratic nations. He’s done this with semi-legitimate business transactions with right-wing leaders, he’s funneled money to right-wing groups through illegal donations, and he’s used both traditional and social media to spread propaganda supporting right-wing leaders and to create division in opposition groups. He’s done this in France, in Italy, in Great Britain, and of course in the U.S.
  • Prior to the 2016 presidential campaign, most of Comrade Trump’s financial support came from Russian banks or banks with close ties to Russia. In addition, many of Trump’s most expensive condos and apartments were sold to Russian oligarchs and folks with ties to Russian organized crime–sales often made in cash.
  • Before and during the 2016 election season, Trump was negotiating to build Trump Tower Moscow. He also sought to build Trump Towers in the former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. He lied when he said he had no business matters involving Russia.
  • Around the same time Trump announced he was running for POTUS, Russian hacker teams began phishing operations targeting the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Other Russian intel operations targeted social media in an effort to support Trump, suppress Democratic voting, and create dissent within the Democratic Party.
  • Many folks on Trump’s campaign team (Flynn, Manafort, Stone, Gates, Page, Ross) had major business interests in Russia during the campaign and after the election.
  • After Trump won the nomination, the only change his team made in the Republican Party Platform was to water down opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Crimea.
  • During the campaign and during the transition period, members of the Trump team met with Russian government officials and operative more than 100 times, and initially lied about–or failed to report–those meetings.
  • Since his election, Trump has revealed classified information to the Russians in the Oval Office, stalled the implementation of sanctions against Russia, denied Russian interference in the election, fired the head of the FBI who was investigating that interference, met privately (without staff and without any record) with Putin on at least three occasions, openly stated he believed Putin rather than the US intelligence community, defended the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, denigrated the NATO alliance (created to provide a collective defense against Soviet/Russian aggression), and continuously undermined the Special Counsel’s investigation.

That’s what WE know. That’s what’s in the public record. That’s what anybody who reads the news can know. Mueller knows more. The other investigations into Trump criminality and malfeasance will know more than we do as well. And that’s just the Russia stuff. Trump criminality is a LOT wider than that.

We also knew Mueller wouldn’t indict Comrade Trump. I mean, he basically said that at the beginning; he said he’d abide by the Department of Justice memorandum that said a sitting president couldn’t be indicted. So there’s no point in whinging about that. Still, Mueller has indicted, convicted or gotten guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies. That ain’t bad.

Again, it’s important to remember that Mueller’s investigation was limited to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Yeah, there was a provision for him to look into “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” but it seems he interpreted that as “I guess I’ll just hand the stuff that’s not directly linked to Russia to other prosecutorial agencies.” Which he did.

But here’s the thing: we’re not done. Mueller’s report is just one step on the path to restoring some semblance of normality and lawfulness to US politics. We’ve still got lots of other investigations churning away. We’ve still got a long, ugly way to go. There are a lot of Trumps and a shit-ton of Trump criminality to look at.

We probably won’t ever get real justice, but I firmly believe that eventually some of those fuckers will end up disgraced and shunned — and hopefully in orange jumpsuits. Because c’mon, they’re guilty as fuck.

how we got where we are (October 28, 2013 at 9:26am)

In order to avoid the work I ought to be doing, I spent the last half hour or so deleting drafts of old blog posts that were begun but not finished. This one is dated October 28, 2013 at 9:26am. There’s a beginning and an ending, but the middle never managed to get written. The middle is always the hardest part.

The situation has deteriorated radically since 2013.


Well, the Republicans are right about one thing: it all began with Ronald Reagan. The modern GOP is the direct legacy of the Reagan Worldview. Not his politics — lawdy no, Reagan was much too liberal to fit into the current Cone of Crazy that constitutes the Tea Party. But his approach to the world is deeply imprinted on Republican DNA.

We see it in a couple of ways. First, the total abandonment of science and rationality for anecdote and ideology. Reagan had no use for facts that didn’t fit well with what he already believed. He was fond of quoting Sam Adams, saying “Facts are stupid things” (what John Adams actually said was “Facts are stubborn things”). Just a couple of examples: Reagan repeatedly claimed “There is no word for ‘freedom’ in the Russian language” (there is: svoboda). He believed nuclear missiles, once fired, could be ‘recalled’ (they can’t). He claimed the Environmental Protection Agency had suppressed a report demonstrating that “eighty percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees” (they didn’t, and it doesn’t). And on two different occasions Reagan publicly stated he’d personally assisted in liberating some of the Nazi death camps during WWII (he hadn’t; he spent the war in Hollywood making training films for the U.S. Army).

Major source of air pollution

Major source of air pollution

This is now standard Republican drill. Make shit up to support your belief, repeat it often, repeat it with passion, repeat it even after you’ve been told it’s wrong, claim the people who disagree with the shit you made up are trying to suppress the truth, present yourself as a victim of liberal elites, repeat it all again.

The Republican casual disregard for reality is troubling

Second, the notion that government has no value.

Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.

Here’s a classic example of the Reagan Approach. He’d twice flown over the Mount St. Helens volcano, and he’d come to the following conclusion:

“I have a suspicion that one little mountain has probably released more sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere of the world than has been released in the last ten years of automobile driving or things of that kind that people are so concerned about.”

And there you have it. In reality, the volcano emitted about 2,000 tons of sulphur dioxide per day at its peak output; cars in 1980 produced approximately 81,000 tons per day. But Reagan didn’t need or want stupid facts; it was enough to have belief. And why listen to anybody who might challenge that belief?

And right there, you have the modern Republican party. The political party whose elected representatives actually believe women are biologically prevented from getting pregnant through rape, who believe wind is “a finite resource” that will be “slowed down” by windmills, who believe vaccines are dangerous and that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists in order to…something,

a conversation between knur and gary

Knur: You are called Listening?
Gary: Negative. Listening is the process by which I attend auditory input. I am Gary.
Knur: Before I die, Gary, I request information.
Gary: I am listening, Knur.
Knur: My onboard televison-o-scope reports many of your fellow beings on a distant island were recently rendered exanimate. I offer comfort and support.
Gary: Your offer is accepted. On Earth we refer to these events as ‘massacres’.
Knur: These mass exanimation events, they are ceremonial? Ritualized?
Gary: Negative. They are unplanned, yet expected.
Knur: Curious. Confirm for me, please. Multiple exanimation events are regrettable, correct?
Gary: Confirmed. We experience sorrow.
Knur: My understanding is limited. This mass exanimation was implemented through the manipulation of a device intentionally designed to rapidly launch multiple projectiles driven by expanding high-pressure gas produced chemically by exothermic combustion of a propellant sealed within a prefabricated cylindrical package. Accurate?
Gary: Accurate.
Knur: Logic suggests the elimination of projectile-launching devices would decrease the incidence of mass exanimation.
Gary: Affirmative.
Knur: Therefore, would it not…
Gary: No.
Knur: And yet…
Gary: No. The elimination of such devices cannot be achieved.
Knur: Explain.
Gary: It is prohibited by the normative rules inscribed and certified by our progenitors.
Knur: Hail the progenitors!
Gary: Hail the progenitors!
Knur: The normative rules are immutable?
Gary: Mutable, but intractable.
Knur: By what manner, then, does your society attempt to reduce mass exanimation events?
Gary: By a twofold process. First, we offer an aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations intended to extend compassion to the victim’s consanguineous groupings and associations. Second, we appeal to an invisible being who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It is anticipated the two processes when combined will lead inevitably to a reality-oriented conclusion.
Knur: …
Gary: Also, the existence of the invisible being is not subject to proof or evidence.
Knur: …
Gary: …
Knur: Ineffective?
Gary: Affirmative.
Knur: …
Gary: …
Knur: That’s fucked up, Gary.

screaming

I watched the video with the sound off.

I’m not a dispassionate person by nature, but much of my professional experience and training (as a medic, as a counselor in the Psych/Security unit of a prison for women, and as a private investigator specializing in criminal defense) has taught me to be a detached observer/participant. Well, as detached as possible. You can’t be effective on the job if you allow yourself to fully experience the shock, the horror, the revulsion while you’re doing the job. The emotional distance between you and what you’re doing and seeing is the only thing that allows you to do the job well. You put all that ugliness aside and deal with it later. The problem, of course, is that you always have to deal with it

That’s why, last night, I watched the video of the attack on the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand with the sound off. I didn’t want to hear the screaming. It’s harder to be a detached observer when you hear the screaming.

“I am just a regular white man, from a regular family, who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people.”

How do you even begin to explain all this, to understand it? Do you start with Brenton Tarrant, the shooter? He doesn’t really believe he’s just a regular white man, of course. He’s a white supremacist who thinks shooting unarmed people in a house of worship somehow makes him a hero. But if you focus on individual shooters — the Brenton Tarrants, the Anders Breiviks, the Dylann Roofs — it’s easy to overlook the connections that link so many of these white supremacy shooters.

“The origins of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European, my philosophical beliefs are European, my identity is European and, most importantly, my blood is European.

We must crush immigration and deport those invaders already living on our soil, It is not just a matter of our prosperity, but the very survival of our people.”

There it is. Tarrant’s ‘justification’ for murdering Muslims at prayer. Fear and hate born out of the irrational notion of white victimhood, then transmitted, promoted and amplified by the Internet. Tarrant referred to this in his Great Replacement ‘manifesto’ (they all seem to have manifestos, these shooters; without a manifesto you’re just a fucking nutcase — with a manifesto you’re a hero).

This Great Replacement conspiracy theory didn’t originate with Tarrant. It’s been banging around in white supremacy circles for almost half a century. It began with a 1973 French novel, Les Camps des Saints, in which Western civilization is destroyed through the mass immigration of Third World peoples. The author of the novel, Jean Raspail, said he got the idea for the plot when he was visiting the Riviera.

“What if they were to come? I did not know who “they” were, but it seemed inevitable to me that the numberless disinherited people of the South would, like a tidal wave, set sail one day for this opulent shore, our fortunate country’s wide-gaping frontier.”

There it is again. The ‘justification’ for the Great Replacement theory. The fear and belief that white European Christian populations are being systematically replaced by non-European brown-skinned populations through mass migration and demographic growth. If you’re in Europe the immigrants are Middle Eastern, North African, and Sub-Saharan; if you’re in the US, the immigrants are from Central and South America. This notion of white European culture being overrun by non-white alien cultures resounds throughout the online white supremacy community.

Would Tarrant have acted in the absence of that community, in the absence of the reinforcement and amplification of that conspiracy theory? I don’t know. But the thing is, the echoes of Great Replacement filter through mainstream US and European politics.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Does this make Trump responsible for the Christchurch mosque massacre? No, of course not. But it helps white supremacists like Tarrant justify their actions. Tarrant stated he viewed Donald Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” When Trump refers to an influx of families fleeing violence and poverty as an ‘invasion’ on the Southern border, he’s feeding the conspiracy theory. When he claims people seeking asylum is a ‘national emergency,’ he’s feeding the conspiracy theory.

When it was revealed that an audio tape of the torture and murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi existed, Trump refused to listen to it.

“I don’t want to hear the tape. No reason for me to hear the tape. I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it “

I totally understand that. It’s why I watched the video with the sound off. It’s harder to be detached when you hear the screaming.

But the truth is, even with the sound off I still heard the screaming in the mosque. I’m still hearing it this morning. That business about dealing with the horror later? That’s mostly bullshit that allows you to do what you need to do. But if you’ve ever heard the screaming in any context, you can never unhear it.

If you have any humanity at all, if you have any decency at all, you never stop hearing the screaming.

[orders beer]

— I mean, this Chinese massage parlor sex thing?
— What about it?
— I mean, well, it’s an actual thing. It sounds like a bad movie, but there’s an actual Chinese massage parlor sex thing. Young Chinese women living in the US as sex slaves, what the hell, you know?
— I know.
— I mean, we’ve got President But Her Emails nattering like a nutjob about South American gangs bringing bound and gagged women over the border five or six at a time in the backs of vans, and ten miles north you’ve got actual real no-shit sex trafficking going on.
— Yep.
— I mean, it’s not just rub-and-tug wink-and-nod stuff, it’s actual sexual slavery. Also money laundering. On, like, a massive scale.
— Sure looks that way.
— I mean, the woman who started the massage parlor sex thing? She’s, like, an Asian MAGA queen or something. Donates money to President Witch Hoax, joins his golf club, takes selfies with every Republican big hat she can stand next to.
— I know.
— I mean, she actually runs a business that promises to sell access to President No Collusion to Chinese businessmen, some of whom may not actually be businessmen at all, if you know what I mean.
— I know what you mean.
— I mean, you know, Chinese intelligence agents. Operatives. Whatever they’re called.
— Yes, I already said I know what you mean.
— I mean, this is, like, a national fucking security issue. It’s not just your basic influence peddling, introducing businessmen to President I Never Paid Hush Money to a Porn Star, stuff like that. This could be some serious national security problems.
— It could.
— I mean, like, let’s say there’s an owner of a popular sports team who’s a buddy of President Did You See the Size of My Inauguration Crowd, and has been getting handjobs at a strip mall. Chinese agent, operative, whatever, says “Sure would be nice if IBM was allowed to share some tech secrets with China, maybe you should mention that to your buddy the president.”
— Does IBM still exist?
— NOT THE FUCKING POINT.
— Okay.
— I mean, that could happen. We know President I Won 380 Electoral Votes is easily manipulated by flattery, right? So it’s possible Chinese agents…
— Operatives…
— Whatever. I mean, it’s actually possible they could shape foreign policy just by leaning on some influential jamoke whose been getting his chicken choked down at the Flowers of Szechuan Spa, right?
— That’s what I’d do if I was a Chinese agent. Operative. Whatever.
— I mean, c’mon, shape foreign policy, peddle influence, AND make some serious coin all at the same time?
— It’s the Chinese version of the Russian model of the criminal American Dream.
— I mean, all it would take to work is somebody like President I Hire the Best People sitting in the Oval Office.
— And then there’s Russia.
— I mean, Russia, fuck me with a chainsaw. Russia. Let’s not even talk about Russia right now.
— [sigh]
— [deep sigh]
— [orders beer]