use your words

You’ve probably seen the video. If not, I’ve included it below. A young man dressed in black, wearing a helmet, is seized by a pair of anonymous armed men dressed in camouflaged tactical gear, loaded into a civilian rental van, and driven away. On the surface, it looks like some sort of paramilitary abduction.

According to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security (and here’s another thing (with Comrade Trump in office, there’s always another thing) we’ve had an ‘acting’ DHS secretary since April 10, 2019; in his three and a half years as POTUS, Trump has had two confirmed DHS secretaries and three ‘acting’ secretaries) those uniformed men were federal officers employed by US Border Patrol. The official explanation for the events in the video is that the young man “was in a crowd in an area in which an individual was aiming a laser at the eyes of officers.”

Got that? They admit this kid wasn’t actually pointing a laser at anybody; he was just in the area in which somebody was pointing a laser at officers. That’s NOT probable cause to detain somebody. The law is pretty clear about this; you can’t arrest/detain somebody without probable cause.

The official explanation for putting this kid in a van and driving him away is that it was done for safety reasons. “[A]s they approached him they noticed that coming in their direction were other demonstrators who were coming to see what was going on and they wanted to go help so they asked the individual to please get in the van.” That’s a lie. Watch the video again. You’ll notice there are no other ‘demonstrators’ in the vicinity. And as far as I can tell, the officers don’t speak to the kid at all, let alone politely ask him to get in the van.

Wall of Moms. What are you doing? Use your words. “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.”

We do, though, hear the person making the video ask the officers who they are and what they’re doing. And she tells them, “Use your words. What are you doing? Use your words.” That’s a phrase made popular by parenting magazines a few years ago. It’s used to get children who are acting out to clearly express what they’re trying to do. It’s used to make them explain their behavior, and to see if they understand whether or not that behavior will be effective in achieving their goal.

What are you doing? Use your words. What are these federal officers really trying to do? Do they understand if their actions are effective in achieving their goal? The goal of detaining this kid, clearly, wasn’t to protect federal buildings. The goal appears to be intimidation. The goal appears to be to allow Trump, to use his phrase, “to dominate the streets.” The goal appears to be to produce content for Trump 2020 presidential adverts. Is the behavior effective in achieving Trump’s goal? Maybe. Just last month, he stated:

“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

This isn’t the US military, but they look like it. And the appearance of toughness is what Trump wants for his presidential campaign.

What are you doing? Use your words. The amazing Wall of Moms sing, “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.” What are these moms really trying to do? Do they understand if their behavior is effective to achieving their goal? The goal appears to be discouraging police violence. Is their behavior effective? Yes, I think so. Even if they fail in the short run, they’re showing the sincerity of their resistance.

Sometimes all we’ve got to resist with is our words and our bodies. One sign carried by a woman in the Wall of Moms read, “I am so disappointed in you.” The maternal tone is perfect. We are so very disappointed.

I’m going to go all literary for a moment, so I’ll apologize in advance. Sorry. But as I was looking at photos and videos of the Wall of Moms, I kept think of some lines T.S. Eliot wrote in an unfinished verse drama.

I gotta use words when I talk to you
But if you understand or if you dont
That’s nothing to me and nothing to you
We all gotta do what we gotta do
We’re gona sit here and drink this booze
We’re gona sit here and have a tune
We’re gona stay and we’re gona go
And somebody’s gotta pay the rent.

What are you doing? Use your words. I gotta use words when I talk to you. Somebody’s always got to pay the rent. Right now, that rent is being paid by the young folks in Portland, with makeshift shields and umbrellas. It’s being paid by young dads, using leaf blowers to disperse tear gas. It’s being paid by the women wearing bicycle helmets, standing bravely in the Wall of Moms.

post-SCOTUS campaign adverts

That swirling sound you heard earlier today? That was Comrade Trump’s argument (that as POTUS he has the absolute authority to do — or not do — pretty much anything he wants) getting flushed down the porcelain facility by the Supreme Court. Although the final rulings weren’t unanimous, there was unanimous agreement by all of the Justices that “we cannot conclude that absolute immunity is necessary or appropriate under Article II or the Supremacy Clause.”

Democrats rejoiced, of course, because this is good news for representative democracy. It doesn’t mean everybody — or anybody, for that matter — will get to see those records in the very near future, but it does mean that at some point Trump’s (allegedly) corrupt business practices will almost certainly be publicly exposed.

Democrats today.

Republicans (at least those who are complicit with Trump) did not rejoice. They saw their leader suffer an apparent mortal wound. It’s not an immediately fatal wound, but they know he’s bleeding badly and is going to fail — and when he starts to fail, he’ll fail quickly. It’ll be interesting to see how many of his Congressional supporters remain loyal as the end approaches.

So you’re probably wondering Given the spanking SCOTUS just delivered to Trump, what are the good patriots and constitutional scholars of FreeRepublic saying about it? Well, folks, I’m here to tell you. They are sad. Or angry. Or confused. Or something.

Republicans today.

Some Freepers are completely certain there’s nothing damning in Trump’s tax and financial records. Or if there were something damning, he’d have covered it up by now, so there’s nothing to be found. Or even if there’s something to be found, Trump will escape:

What do they expect to find? And Trump hires others to do his taxes…would they commit fraud for him?? — Fawn

I run a business (no where near the size of Trumps!), and taxes would only give Democrats talking points, such as amount of taxes paid (maybe low), or large deductions taken, or special programs or tax exemptions requested. to attempt to prove any kind of fraud, they would need to find discrepancies within company records, actual invoices, emails, etc…. And that’s a whole different investigation. I assume Trump is smart and destroys those after 7 years anyway. — PGR88

There is an excellent chance DJT’s lawyers can run out the clock before the election. — CurlyDave

Trump 2020: Running Out the Clock Like It’s Never Been Run Out Before. A great campaign motto. Other Freepers seem to lack a solid grasp on how criminal investigations work:

if the state has a CRIMINAL case against the president in which his records are subpoenaed, he should comply, right? What CRIME is POTUS Trump being CHARGED with? Or is this just another fishing expedition without justification because that’s what leftists do? — normbal

How can they rule for prosecutors, when all prosecutors have is, “We think he’s committed fraud?” — Jonty30

They can subpoena him and his documents all night long. Doesn’t mean anything will be turned over. Appeal, appeal, appeal. Butt, knowing the commies/socialists they’ll simply, once again, claim he’s hiding something and the lame stream will be right there with them. If there’s no evidence of criminal activity, the should not see the light of day. NO FISHING! — rktman

Trump 2020: Subpoena Him All Night Long! Another great campaign slogan. A few Freepers demonstrated a vague and rather questionable understanding of how the Supreme Court — or law in general — works:

The august Supreme Court is dead wrong on immunity. The justices fell for the fictitious argument application to the presidency that no one is above the law. The Constitution provided for the removal of a rouge president committing illegal acts by implementing the impeachment process. — odawg

So if Congress gets Trumps tax returns, the Manhattan district attorney will have committed a felony by sharing them with congress. — blackdog

Now, with this decision, any jerk who can get a local corrupt DA to start an investigation can ruin you. — RicocheT

Since the 5th amendment means nothing, how does edicts from the rulers in black mean anything anymore? Their power is enumerated in the very Constitution they nullify. — American in Israel

Does this mean that anyone can accuse anyone, even an ordinary citizen of something, then the accused can have his/her tax returns made public? — Doche2X2

Trump 2020: NOPE, Not a Rouge President! An absolute gem of a campaign advertisement. In the end, there were some Freepers whose opinions were…well, they might have been almost sort of tangentially related to…I don’t know, you decide:

another day..another wait to find out if John Roberts is THAT John Roberts And whether Maxwell is the person in the Jon Benet Ramsey photo. — RummyChick

How bout throwing in zeros birth certificate while we’re at it. — lilypad

The Democrats are very very desperate that are really trying to do anything and everything to prevent are great and wonderful president from getting a second term. They’re desperate asked to try to keep the Blackford from slipping away are quite obvious -the kente cloth thing was laughable The BLM and antifa riots in the streets are obviously all of their supporters that they unleash to try to create chaos and scare people and then somehow blame that on our great president which is not gonna fly. — truthoverpower

The whole ‘virus’ sham is another money-making ‘business’ for Liberals They can’t think of enough ways to stuff their pockets — SMARTY

Trump 2020: Just Say No to Kente Cloth! A campaign ad as good as the candidate, right there. The SCOTUS ruling will hurt Trump, no matter how the subpoenas are eventually resolved. Trump being Trump, his reaction to the SCOTUS ruling will likely hurt him as much or more than the ruling itself.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I don’t read a lot of Shakespeare (which makes it sound like might just dip into his work casually and occasionally, which is definitely NOT true) but I recently happened across a line from King Lear that made me think of Comrade Trump. It’s Kent’s opinion of Oswald, and it seems appropriate here:

A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking whoreson, glass-gazing, & super-servicable, finical rogue; onetrunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch.

Now THAT is a campaign ad.

more than a little odd

First thing this morning, a text: Greg, old sock, this Berman thing, it’s a little odd, don’t you think? I think you should stop calling me ‘old sock’. But yes, it’s a little odd. Well, it’s odder than that. It’s really seriously odd.

Late on Friday Attorney General William Barr announced, “Geoffrey Berman is stepping down as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.” Later on Friday, Berman announced, “Nope.”

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York ain’t going nowhere, thank you very much.

That just begins to touch the surface of how odd this is. Normally (and c’mon, nothing has been normal since Trump slithered into the Oval Office) a US Attorney is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. That pretty much gives POTUS the ability to fire a US Attorney if he wants to. And that’s exactly what Trump did to the prior US Attorney for SDNY, Preet Bharara (which is a whole nother scandal). Trump being Trump, after he fired Bharara, he wanted to put his own guy in the SDNY slot. He made an interim appointment of a guy who’d done some part-time volunteer work for the Trump transition team. Geoffrey fuckin’ Berman. That’s right, the guy Trump is now trying to fire.

But here’s the thing (in case you were wondering what the thing is): Trump being Trump, he got distracted by some shiny object and never bothered to actually nominate somebody to fill the SDNY position. That meant the Senate never had anybody to confirm. So after about four months, the Chief Judge of SDNY “entered an order on behalf of a unanimous court appointing Berman U.S. Attorney pursuant to its authority under 28 U.S.C Section 546(d).”

This probably means Berman has the appointment indefinitely, until the Senate confirms someone nominated by the president. Since he was appointed to the gig by the federal court, he can probably only be fired by that court. (I keep saying ‘probably’ because I don’t think this has ever been tested; no other administration has been this incompetent.) The only other way for Trump to get rid of Berman is to formally nominate somebody to be the US Attorney of SDNY, and for the Senate to confirm them.

Attorney General William Barr after meeting with President Trump checks to make sure he still has his wallet.

So there’s that. Now the real question is this: why does Trump (through Barr) want to get rid of Berman five months before the presidential election? We can only speculate, of course, but the speculation can be based on what we know Berman has been investigating. For example:

  • campaign finance violations that grew out of the indictment against Michael Cohen
  • the Jeffrey Epstein case and any allegations that Trump may have been involved
  • Rudy Giuiliani’s potentially illegal campaign contributions as well as his shenanigans in Ukraine.

That suggests Berman may be on the verge of announcing some legal action against one of Trump’s associates. Or one of Trump’s children. Or Trump, though that seems the least likely possibility. In any event, firing–or attempting to fire–Berman at this point in time seems like the act of a desperate administration.

Just as important — no, wait. More important is that the attack on Berman is just the latest of AG Bill Barr’s blatant attempts to interfere with the course of justice to benefit Comrade Trump. In the 16 months since he was appointed, Barr 1) misrepresented (okay, lied about) the Mueller Report, claiming it found no evidence of obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, 2) interfered in the sentencing of Roger Stone (also regarding the Russia investigation), 3) is attempting to dismiss the case against confessed felon Michael Flynn in regard to the Russia investigation and related corruption, 4) is dropping the case against the Russian individuals and agencies known to have interfered with the 2016 election, 5) authorized a political appointee to conduct a second investigation into the investigation of Russian interference apparently because he didn’t like the result of the DOJ Inspector General’s earlier investigation of the investigation, 6) issued a DOJ opinion that extorting a foreign nation to investigate a political opponent was NOT a violation of the law, 7) lied about the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square AND 8) deployed armed DOJ personnel from various agencies (with their affiliation deliberately masked) to clear those protesters from Lafayette Square in order for Comrade Trump to hold a three minute photo op.

So yes, this situation is a little odd. Everything about William Barr is odd. Everything about the entire Trump universe is so fucking odd that the scale and scope of the oddness is impossible to understand without a spreadsheet the size of Utah.

The good news, though, is that Berman doesn’t appear willing to go quietly. Or at all. The bad news is, just like everything else related to the Trump administration, this ugly situation is going to get even uglier before it’s resolved.

Note: Just learned that Jay Clayton, who Trump and Barr wanted to replace Berman, has absolutely NO prosecutorial experience. Worse, Clayton used to represent Deutsche Bank, the only western bank that would lend Trump money after his numerous bankruptcies. Deutsche Bank has been in trouble for laundering money from Russian organized crime.

Odder and odder by the minute.

really most sincerely dead

Well, that’s it then. The rule of law is dead. Officially dead. Medically dead, legally dead, dead in every meaningful way. Stone dead. Dead as Marley’s ghost. Deader than that, in fact, since Jacob Marley at least came back in an attempt to set things right. That’s not going to happen here. The rule of law in the United States is as dead as the Wicked Witch of the East. Not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

Comrade Donald Trump killed it. Attorney General Bill Barr helped. Trump pushed it out the window and left it crippled and bleeding in the gutter; Barr finished it off by dropping a cinder block its head. 

I’m not a fan of the FBI, although I recognize their dedication and, to some extent, their sincerity of purpose. What they did to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was no different from what law enforcement officers at all levels–federal, state, county, and municipal–do every day. They gathered their facts, they interviewed the suspect, they gave him a chance to tell the truth. He didn’t.

That’s routine interviewing technique. Say you arrest a kid for shoplifting. You have him on the store’s CCTV sliding a pair of expensive sunglasses up his sleeve. You detain the kid and say, “Tell me what happened.” If the kid fesses up, that tells you something. It shows some contrition and you take that into consideration when deciding what to do. If the kid lies, that also tells you something. You know he’s still hoping to get away with it, and you take that into consideration.

Flynn got caught. He was given a chance to tell the truth, and he lied. He pleaded guilty to lying. Then he tried to take it back. Then he re-affirmed his guilty plea. Then he tried to take it back again. That tells you something. He was still hoping to get away with it. And hey, he did.

He betrayed his country, and thanks to complicit political appointees in the Department of Justice, he got away with it. Never spent an hour in jail. Nor will he.

The only hope this nation has of returning to some semblance of the rule of law is if voters turn out in massive numbers–numbers large enough to overcome whatever barriers are put in place to hamper voting. Because if we know one thing for certain, it’s that Trump will cheat. He’ll lie, cheat, steal, connive, do anything he can get away with to win. Because he’s learned there’s nothing to stop him–not the Department of Justice, not Congress, and certainly not his conscience.

Ain’t nothing going to stop him. Unless it’s us.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay alive. Vote your ass off.

 

speaking of guns…

Imagine this scenario: a guy wearing an ‘antifa’ baseball cap stands in front of the mayor’s house, where he uses a bullhorn to shout, “If Trumpers get to the point where they start killing us, I’m going to kill them next. I’d slaughter them and I have a detailed plan on how I would wipe out Trumpers.” He then goes on a national radio program and describes that detailed plan. It involves identifying Trump supporters, finding out where they live, breaking into their homes at night, and killing them while they’re asleep.

Do you think that might make the news? Do you think that might get widely reported? Do you think you’d see segments on that in the evening television news? Do you think FOX News would devote entire opinion shows to the threat of violence against conservatives?

Bet your bony ass they would. And hey, guess what. That actually happened. The first part, I mean. You know, the guy yelling in front of the mayor’s house and going on national radio and outlining a half-baked plan to murder folks in their sleep. That’s the part that actually happened. Except the guy was a Trump supporter, and the plan was to slaughter members of antifa. And it barely made the news at all.

Shane Kohfield.

I am NOT making this up. This guy Shane Kohfield (a Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq) went on the Lars Larson radio show and laid out his plan to organize a mass slaughter. It was a stupid, ridiculous plan that had no chance to actually be implemented, but still. This is what Kohfield said:

“First​, veterans ​[will] join antifa social media pages and groups and get names of most active members of social media, along with getting the arrest records from rallies and write down all the names they see, as well as use arrest records. The veterans will use background check programs to find home addresses of all the members of antifa using the intelligence they had gathered​.

The veterans will take a map of the cities where members of antifa are known to live there. Grid overlays will be placed over the maps of the cities. The veterans will be broken down into squads. Each squad will be assigned its own grid and given a list of names and addresses in their assigned grid square. … The veterans would use Route4Me to find the most expedient route to hunt down the most violent members of antifa in their beds at night until every one of them was gone and every city in America, if need be, in a single well-coordinated night.”

Kohfield told Larson he didn’t actually intend to USE the plan. He just created the plan. You know, just in case. The plan, he suggested, was his response to the threat antifa posed to conservatives and the Constitution. Kohfield apparently believes the next step in the logical progression of anti-fascist violence is to go from 1) punching nazis during a demonstration to 2) tossing milkshakes on nazis to 3) murdering conservatives and Trump supporters.

Kohfield also sent his plan to Republican Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy Seal now representing Texas in Congress. He reportedly told Crenshaw that if Congress didn’t act to stop antifa, he’d have no choice but to begin systematically killing them. Crenshaw gave the letter to the U.S. Capitol Police, who forwarded it to the FBI, who handed it to the FBI’s Portland office, which tossed it to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. Clackamas County is in Oregon.

Why does that matter? Because back in 2017 Oregon passed an ERPO law. ERPO stands for Extreme Risk Protection Order. That’s the fancy name for a red flag law. These laws allow family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court directly in order to temporarily restrict an individual’s access to firearms IF that person shows signs of being a danger to themselves or others.

Shane Kohfield

Kohfield lives with his dad, who apparently told the police, “I can’t say that he won’t kill someone.” Kohfield’s dad also said his son was taking medication for bipolar disorder, drinking heavily, and had become increasingly agitated. So the police did what they were supposed to do.

They took Shane Kohfield’s guns away. A pistol, a shotgun, and two rifles — one of which was an AR-15.

But here’s the thing. Don’t hate Shane Kohfield. Disagree with his politics. Be afraid of him, maybe. Be glad he doesn’t have access to firearms right now. But don’t hate him. Have some compassion for him. He did his time in military harness, and he’s paid a price for his service; Kohfield receives disability payments for the physical and psychological injuries he sustained during his tours in Iraq. He deserves a measure of respect for that.

Here’s the other thing: red flag laws work. They not only help protect the general public, they also help protect folks like Shane Kohfield from doing something they’d probably regret later. Assuming they’re still alive. I doubt Kohfield appreciates it — and I can’t blame him for that. But the laws work.

One last thing: only 17 states currently have red flag laws.

mueller — itmfa

I watched Robert Mueller’s brief public statement yesterday. And dude, the operative term there is ‘brief’. Under ten minutes. He slid over behind the DOJ podium, said his piece, then was gone like Kyzer Soze.

I know a lot of folks were disappointed by his statement. I guess they were hoping for something dramatic — some sort of revelation maybe, or a political call to arms. But that’s not Mueller. Mueller’s a professional prosecutor. Here’s the thing: political processes always involve some level of passion and partisanship. But we’re supposed to keep that shit out of legal processes. Legal processes are supposed to be sober, deliberate, and dispassionate.

This is where the problem lies. Because Mueller’s legal process has big-ass political implications. In his statement yesterday, he said his report:

“…contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.”

But the work doesn’t really speak for itself on account of 1) it’s a prosecutor’s document and even though there’s juicy stuff in it, the report is written in a legal fashion that’s boring as fuck to read, and 2) the report is almost as long as a Game of Thrones novel, and as a result of 1) and 2), we get 3) ain’t hardly nobody actually reading it.

And that’s a damned shame, because the report is pretty fucking clear. It says Russian military intelligence agents interfered with the 2016 election to help Comrade Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. It says the Trump campaign was hip deep in Russian contacts, all of which had some sort of connection to Russian intelligence agencies. It says folks in the Trump campaign lied their asses off about those contacts. And it says Trump and his people obstructed the investigation in lots of ways, but since he’s the president (and the DOJ has a policy that a sitting president can’t be indicted) they couldn’t consider charging him with a crime.

In his statement yesterday, Mueller reminded everybody — including Congress — that there are options to charging Trump with a crime. He said,

“[T]he Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.”

That’s about as close as Mueller can get to saying, “Congress, y’all need to impeach the motherfucker already.” And let’s face it, when he’s saying ‘Congress’ he basically means ‘Democrats’ because nobody, including Mueller, expects the Republicans in Congress to hold Trump responsible for anything.

I think that’s at least partially why Mueller made a public statement. He’s a Republican his ownself, and I sorta kinda think he’s trying to shame Republicans into stepping up and earning their paychecks. I think Mueller is telling everybody that serious shit took place, and as a nation we can’t allow that to happen. That’s actually the very last thing he said in his statement:

“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Every American. Including Republican-Americans. If gutless Democrats refuse to start impeachment hearings, they’re freeing gutless Republicans from having to take any responsibility for Trump’s behavior. Impeachment proceedings will force Republicans to state publicly if they’re willing to allow the ratfucking of US elections by hostile foreign nations if it helps them win elections.

Mueller isn’t going to show up at demonstrations wearing a ITMFA tee shirt or appear with Colbert drinking from a ITMFA mug. He’s not going to write an op-ed in the New York Times or Washington Post advocating impeachment. That was never his job and he’s not that sort of guy. He’s written his report and he’s made a statement. He’s said what he can say and done what he can do.

It’s up to us and to Congress now.

 

that kind of thing happens

In April of 2008, Lt. Michael Behenna — an Army Ranger and platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division — was part of a convoy traveling north of Baghdad. A roadside IED detonated, killing two of Behenna’s platoon members and badly wounding several others. In war, that kind of thing happens. Bombs explode, people get killed and maimed.

An intelligence report linked a man named Ali Mansur to the attack. Mansur, like a lot of unhappy, resentful Iraqis, was suspected to be a member of al-Qaeda. He may have been al-Qaeda. He probably was, given that he was in Iraq with a Syrian passport. In any event, Mansur was detained and for two weeks he was interrogated by intelligence officers. They were unable to confirm a link between Mansur and the IED, so they ordered him released. That kind of thing happens in modern war; you can’t always distinguish the enemy from the disgruntled, or the disgruntled from the innocent. Innocent people get caught up and punished unfairly; guilty people walk.

Lt. Behenna was ordered to return Mansur to his village. Instead, Behenna and his platoon took the handcuffed prisoner to a secluded location near a railroad bridge. They used their knives to cut off his clothing. Without any authorization, they continued to interrogate him about the IED. Eventually they removed Mansur’s restraints, and at some point Lt. Behenna shot him twice, killing him. In war, that kind of thing happens. Troops under a massive amount of stress sometimes act irrationally and against orders. Sometimes in war, it’s not really clear what counts as rationality. If you send young men and women to war, some of them will commit war crimes.

The next day villagers found Mansur’s naked body, burned, stashed in a culvert below the railroad bridge. In July, Behenna was relieved of his command and charged with murder. Two of his platoon members and his interpreter testified against him at his court martial. The interpreter testified that Behenna told Mansur he was going to kill him, but had assumed it was just a threat to frighten Mansur. Behenna claimed he was acting in self defense when he shot Mansur. He testified Mansur had made an attempt to seize his weapon. Which is entirely possible. If I’d been questioned by military intelligence for two weeks, then told I was to be released but was instead taken to a remote area by the troops who had accused me in the first place, had my clothing cut off me, and was threatened with death while being interrogated again — if they removed my restraints, I might try to grab that guy’s weapon too. That kind of thing happens when you’re desperate and have nothing to lose.

In 2009, Behenna was found guilty of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. After a number of appeals and requests for clemency, his sentence was reduced to 15 years. Behenna was released on parole in 2014, having served less than five years. That kind of thing happens in the justice system, both civilian and military. There’s always a tentative and uneasy balance between justice and punishment.

Lt. Behenna and the men of “Mad Dog 5” — 5th Platoon, Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.

Yesterday, President Comrade Trump gave Behenna a full pardon. Trump has issued eight pardons to date. His other pardons include

  • Dwight and Steven Hammond — cattle ranchers who threatened US Forest Service officials, and whose 2012 convictions for arson of federal property sparked the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by right wing terrorists.
  • Dinesh D’Souza — right wing pundit, conspiracy theorist, and provocateur who pled guilty to campaign fraud in 2014.
  • Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby — Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff who was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and one count of making false statements in regard to leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent in an effort to discredit arguments that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — the pretense behind the Iraq War.
  • Kristian Saucier — a machinist’s mate in the U.S. Navy who was convicted of taking photographs of classified areas of a nuclear submarine, and who destroyed evidence after being questioned by the FBI. Saucier was given a less than honorable discharge and sentenced to a year in prison. His lawyers argued he deserved a lesser sentence because Hillary Clinton had classified information on her personal server and received no punishment. His lawyers also agreed the two cases were different, and that Saucier knew what he was doing was illegal.
  • Joe Arpaio — Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona and birther conspiracy theorist, who was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to comply with the court’s order to stop its racial profiling practices.

See a pattern? You can defy court orders, endanger national security, expose the identify of a NOC CIA agent, commit campaign fraud, commit arson, or murder a suspect in a war zone and burn his body; you do that and still receive a full pardon, if the president likes you. That kind of thing happens when hostile foreign nations influence a US election in order to elect an ignorant, narcissistic, malignant, compliant conspiracy theorist as President of the United States.

NOTE: I have a lot of compassion for Mr. Behenna. He and the men of Mad Dog 5 suffered horribly. In the IED explosion, one of his men was literally cut in half. Nobody can experience that kind of thing and not be affected by it. If he believed Mansur was responsible for that, I don’t blame him for wanting to execute the man. You can read a more detailed account of what happened at SCOTUSblog.

But here’s the thing: if you send people to war, they’re going to commit war crimes. It’s a given; we need to acknowledge that ugly truth. But even in the most horrific conditions we have to maintain military discipline and the rule of law. Behenna was an officer; he swore an oath; he knew what he was doing when he took Mansur to that bridge; he knew it was against orders. He did it anyway, and he tried to cover up his crime.

I have compassion for Behenna. But he’s not deserving of a pardon.

about that witch hunt

There’s something really interesting about the raid on the office of Michael Cohen, Comrade Trump’s attorney — something that’s not getting the attention it deserves. Most of the attention is focused on the raid itself.

I suppose I should spend a moment on the very obvious things about the raid that are interesting. Like the fact that it’s not a raid. It’s raids. Multiple. The FBI raided his office, his home, and a hotel room.

Then there’s this: it’s really uncommon for the State to seize client material from an attorney. The attorney-client privilege is pretty sacrosanct; it doesn’t get cast aside easily. But there are a few exceptions to that privilege, one of which is that discussions between an attorney and a client involve committing or covering up a crime are NOT privileged. They’re not protected.

So for the FBI to conduct those raids, they first had to convince a prosecutor that they knew with a high degree of certainty that 1) the material they were seeking was evidence of a probable crime or cover-up being discussed by Cohen and Comrade Trump, and that 2) they’d find the material in the locations they were searching.

Attorney Michael Cohen

But here’s what’s getting overlooked: the name of the prosecutor who got a judge to issue that search warrant. Geoffrey Berman.

Who the hell is Geoffrey Berman? At present, he’s the interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Why ‘interim’? That’s an interesting story. The office had been held by Preet Bharara, who the NY Times described as “the nation’s most aggressive and outspoken prosecutor of public corruption and Wall Street crime.” When Trump was elected, all 46 U.S. Attorneys were asked to submit letters of resignation. Trump, however, apparently met personally with Bharara and asked him to stay on.

This was a potential problem for Comrade Trump since his financial empire is based in New York City, which is part of the Southern District of New York. That meant any financial investigation into Trump would be conducted by Bharara. Marc Kasowitz, another of Trump’s personal attorneys, publicly stated he warned Trump that Bharara would ‘get him’ on corruption issues. Trump then attempted to call Bharara, who refused to accept his phone call, saying it would be inappropriate for him to discuss legal matters involving the president with the president. He was fired 22 hours later.

Comrade Trump then met with a number of attorneys to decide who would be the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. It’s wildly inappropriate for the president — or any government official — to interview attorneys who might be responsible for investigating his business dealings. But wildly inappropriate is Trump’s calling card. And who did Trump select for that office? A Republican who’d been a partner in the law firm Rudy Giuiliani worked for. A Republican who’d contributed US$5400 to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Geoffrey Berman, interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

That’s right: Geoffrey Berman.

Think about that for a moment. It means 1) a U.S. Attorney who was essentially hand-picked by Comrade Trump was 2) presented with evidence convincing enough for him to believe there was sufficient probable cause that 3) Trump and his attorney had engaged in communications involving either a criminal act or covering up a criminal act that he felt 4) compelled to ask for and convince a judge to 5) issue a warrant to search three locations where evidence of that crime or cover-up would be found.

That is astonishing. And I mean astonishing in the earliest sense of the term (okay, for word geeks: astonish, from the Latin ex, meaning ‘out’ plus tonare, meaning ‘thunder’; in other words, thunderstruck — staggered and dazed by the auditory shock wave created by lightning).

Comrade Trump keeps calling this a “total witch hunt.” If so, that would mean Michael Cohen is a witch’s familiar and Trump is a fucking witch. But c’mon, it’s not a witch hunt. Witches deserve more respect than that. After all, the Wiccan Rede says ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’ That certainly excludes Trump. No decent coven would accept him as a member. Even if he was a witch. Which he’s not.

UPDATE: It appears I got ahead of myself…and ahead of the facts. It appears Berman DID NOT initiate the search warrants for Cohens office and elsewhere. Although the search was executed by the Southern District of New York, it’s being reported that Berman was recused from the process. It’s not clear at the moment whether he recused himself or was recused by his superiors. In any event, the warrant application came from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The problem with these fast-moving events is that…well, they’re fast-moving.