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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 62,163

Journal Archives

The Pace

“The genius of impeachment lay in the fact that it could punish the man without punishing the office.”
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.


I've heard a number of people – in real life, on the television, and on the internet – say that Trump is goading the Democrats to impeach him. A number of these people are convinced that this alone is reason enough to not try to impeach and convict him. I respectfully disagree.

Although I am an old man who believes strongly in non-violence, I am reminded of a time in my life when I was neither …..as a young man, I really enjoyed fighting. This was mainly in the boxing ring, but not always. While in my late teens, for example, there were a number of times when in social settings (bars or a party) when I had a verbal disagreement with someone, and they would say,”You don't look that tough.”

Their next sentence was usually, “Hell, I don't 'box' in a street fight,” as if I expected a referee to appear. No, sir. If I knew a fight was bound to happen, hearing, “Go ahead – you hit me first” was music to my ears. The next thing they heard was my fists sizzling through the air, marking the beginning of their impeachment ...er, beating.

Perhaps there is some truth to be found in Joseph Campbell's telling Bill Moyers that most of Irish history can be found in the question, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join?” But I outgrew this stage in my early twenties. By the time I became a father, though I was bigger and stronger than in my teens, I had stopped fighting in or out of the ring. And as a father, I taught my sons and daughters that is better to walk away from a fight, if possible.

Of course I taught them how to defend themselves if attacked. Malcolm X was correct in saying that sometimes, the best way to turn the other cheek is by breaking the other fellow's jaw. Now, Malcolm often used stark visuals to communicate symbolically. He knew how to call a cruel, violent bully's bluff. And that is what Trump is – a cruel violent bully. And his goading of the Democrats is a bluff. Nothing but a bluff.

I was talking with a close friend last night. We talk about “politics” on an almost daily basis. She said that she is feeling increasing frustrated by the pace of the Democrats in DC in terms of holding Trump accountable, and hopeless about her ability as an individual to have any influence on these events. Now, I understand this. Yes, I do. In fact, I think that is the same general fatigue that quite a few good people are experiencing. That's why it's good to take rests every so often, just the same as boxers do between rounds.

Do not get fatigued to where you are “burning out.” No, your mind can play tricks on you then. Your mind is more likely to process in-coming information incorrectly. It may be that you mistake Trump for a Teflon don. He isn't. In fact, he knows he is in trouble, and that is exactly why that shit stain on the American fabric is bluffing so loudly. Do not be fooled. Listen to George Harrison's “Beware of Darkness.”

In between rounds of boxing, I did three things: breathed deeply, listened to my coach, and determined what plan to execute in the next round. I was calm in knowing that I could set a pace that my opponent could not keep up with. Patience was key. When the right time came, the last thing he would hear would be my punches sizzling towards him …...and then the referee saying, “....8, 9, 10.”

We are approaching that point with Trump. Beatle George sang, “Beware of greedy leaders, they take you where you should not go.” And Trump was moving this country in that wrong direction. But America is uniting to bring itself in the right direction, and that includes plucking Trump from office. This includes the grass roots, the local Democratic Party headquarters, the state representatives, and our elected representatives in DC. More, it includes the thousand former federal prosecutors that signed the letter, and the federal judges who are deciding the cases where Trump seeks to further obstruct justice.

It's happening. Maybe not as quickly as some want, but it's happening. And it's happening far quicker than Trump wants, because it is at a pace where he cannot keep up.

Peace,
H2O Man

Malcolm X's birthday

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
Malcolm X



Malcolm X was born on this day in 1925 in Omaha. His life story would influence not only American society, but he became significant internationally in his final years. I like to reflect upon his life year-round, but especially on this day.

I remember Malcolm from his days advising a young boxer named Cassius Clay. I still have the May 31, 1963 “Life” magazine with an article on Malcolm and the Nation of Islam. I have a copy of the February 22, 1965 New York Times, reporting on his murder. His autobiography changed the way I saw and interpreted the world around me.

Since those times, I've collected a large number of books of his speeches, and books about him. I have a five LP set of records of his speeches. I love that I can watch many of those speeches and his appearances on a variety of television shows. More, I had a long friendship with a man who was friends with both Malcolm and Martin Luther King.

Last summer, my second cousin visited me one day. He and I have partner in a variety of political and social issue campaigns over the decades, and he was interested in the film of Malcolm that I was watching when he arrived. After about twenty minutes, he said that he was surprised, because he had always had a view of Malcolm's being a fiery speaker,who advocated violence. Instead, he was listening to a highly intelligence, often humorous man who was talking about how America could avoid violence.

Even among those who are familiar with Malcolm in general, too few know about his communications – through an attorney – with King regarding shifting their efforts from “civil rights” to “human rights,” and making it an issue at the United Nations.

It is a shame that Malcolm X was assassinated in the prime of his life. It would also be a shame if the lessons that he taught were lost.

Peace,
H2O Man

Regarding Impeachment

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. ….” – Amendment XVII to the Constitution.


I recently had a brief interaction with a forum member who insists that impeachment is a political process, rather than a legal action. As the person's posts posts verged on insults, I decided to address the topic in an essay here. I have no need to argue about this topic, much less to point out that that someone who believes differently may be ignorant of what the Founding Fathers inserted into the Constitution to protect against a corrupt federal official. Yet the fact that federal judges can be impeached – and indeed have been – should provide a hint that the process is intended to be a legal remedy.

Impeachment is a legal process. It is a civil rather than criminal trial. Indeed, the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court hears the trial when it takes place in the Senate. This is obviously consistent with a legal procedure, as the Chief Justice has no official role in anything outside of issues of law.

This does not mean that “politics” might not infect impeachment. Only the most uninformed among us could think that “politics” has not infected both criminal and civil cases throughout our nation's history. For example, the infamous Mann Act was passed in 1912 as a means to prosecute heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who was immediately charged and convicted of violating that law. Politics were deeply involved – as were sports – yet it was a legal process.

In the mid-1950s, the case Browder v Gayle was decided in federal court. It was a civil case. Yet politics were involved. This is but one of many legal cases dating from the Civil Rights era, where politics were influential in civil law cases. Yet, were one to argue that these were merely political cases, and not legal cases, we would know the person making such a claim did not have a clue as to what they were talking about.

In the 1960s, as older forum members will recall, there were numerous cases that reflected the infection of politics into legal matters. Muhammad Ali's draft case and the trial of the Chicago Seven are but two. Ali would win in the Supreme Court in the '70s, after a clerk had one Justice read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” Hence, it was a legal case about religious freedom.

Now, let's look a bit closer at impeachment in the context of a president, and why having at least a shallow grasp of Amendment 17 is important. But even before we go there, let's look at some important information found in Sean Wilentz's 2005 book, “The Rise of American Democracy.” It has to do with then tensions between being a republic versus a democracy.

Wilentz explains that in its infancy, the US was a republic, but “the republic was not democratic.” The word republic comes from the root “res publica” – “public thing” – meaning “to secure the common good through the ministrations of the most worthy, enlightened men.” The word democratic comes from the root “demos krateo,” meaning “rule of the people.” This was considered dangerous, because it gave the power to he “impassioned, unenlightened masses.” (page xvii)
Hence, in the context of impeachment, the civil case would be heard by the “worthy, enlightened men” of the US Senate. And the US Senators were not elected by the “impassioned, unenlightened masses” until Amendment 17 was passed (with a couple of minor exceptions just before it became the law of the land). Now, one common error is that many people believe that before the amendment, all US Senators were old, rich, white men from the exclusive ruling class. Yet not all were “old” – there were middle-aged rich white men in the Senate, as well.

As we know from reading Akil Reed Amar's 2005 book, “America's Constitution: A Biography,” the Founding Fathers provided the Congress “powers to 'try' and 'judge' sundary issues of law and fact” in cases of impeachment. (page 211) More, we know from the precise wording of the section of the Constitution that impeachment could involve criminal matters, as well as behaviors that do not reach that level. Laurence Tribe's recent book on impeachment documents that the number one concern of the Founding Fathers was that someone be elected president – likely an old, rich white man – who was compromised by financial entanglements with a foreign power that would influence his foreign policy.

The House of Representatives would serve as something similar to a grand jury and determine if the president should be impeached – akin to indicted – for things that include “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Hence, a person claiming that impeachment is indeed a political process could point out that those elected to the House by the “impassioned,unenlightened masses” were prone to act upon purely political motives. And, indeed, we can see today that republicans in both the House and Senate are trying their best to convince the “impassioned, unenlightened masses” that impeachment is exclusively a political issue.

In fact, this coordinated effort by the republican supporters of Trump can be best understood in the context of a “perception management campaign” – the issue I addressed in my last essay here. And this is how politics can infect the processes that define the rule of law in our modern society. Please do not fall for republican misinformation and disinformation talking points.

For the Founding Fathers determined that the cases of impeachment would be heard and ultimately decided by the US Senate – you remember those “most worthy, enlightened” rich white men who work for the “common good” – where mere “politics” would not be at play. These men were not elected by the “impassioned, unenlightened masses” that were at risk of confusing impeachment as a political process.

Amendment 17 was intended to make elections for the US Senate a democratic process. It was not intended to infect the rule of law with the corruption that would make impeachment a political, rather than legal, process. It was assumed that the Senate would behave in a manner that would secure and promote the “common good.”

Today, of course, we are witnessing a coordinated republican attempt to re-define impeachment, and reduce it to mere politics. We saw the insidious nature of putting politics into that process in the 1990s. We should not support or promote the republicans' effort by parroting their current line that the potential impeachment of Trump is only political. We need to hold this issue to a higher standard. A much higher standard, known as the rule of law.

Peace,
H2O Management

P.S. : Isn't it curious that the Tea Party (now known as the alt-right) is strongly opposed to Amendment 17? That, too, is rooted in gross ignorance, but of a slightly different nature.)

Rainy Day, Dream Away

Rainy day, rain all day
Ain't no use in gettin' uptight
Just let it groove its own way
Let it drain your worries away yeah
Lay back and groove on a rainy day hey
Lay back and dream on a rainy day
- Jimi Hendrix


https://


As I prepare my first cup of coffee this morning, I look out the kitchen window. It has been raining for days and days, and my lawn has rapidly grown far beyond needing to be mowed. It is the only thing that the word “rapid” could be applied to around here. I then plop down in front of my computer and go to Face Book while I sip my cup of coffee. A friend from college has posted a drawing of a lady saying, “Ow, my neck! I slept wrong!” and underneath it, “Getting Older Checkpoint: when you get hurt from sleeping.”

After the first cup, I take my dogs out and feed them. Next, I feed the growing array of cats that inhabit my garage. Most of them are “stray” cats from God only knows where. I've had people in cars drop off two in my driveway when they were kittens; one of these now has kittens roaming around the garage. The cat population seems to come and go in cycles. My daughter's rabbit, which escaped its coop two years ago, hangs out with the cats.

Hobbling back inside, I pour my second cup of coffee. I complete my morning routine of stretches, and laugh when I realize that I am not alone in waking up sore in the morning. I had recently run into the lady who was my secretary at the clinic, who had just turned 85. She is active every day, and drives for four hours every week to visit her son. So I suppose not all of us share the same limitations.

Years ago, I remember that another spry older woman – an Iroquois Clan Mother – said that when the outside world is spinning at a rapid rate, it's important to enter a space within yourself to slow things down. Hence, I decide to avoid the television and computer, and even the book of the Mueller Report, and instead sit and listen to the rain. I cannot remember ever being bored – perhaps I'm not smart enough for that – and I've always enjoyed the opportunity to just listen to the rain and let my mind wander.

Still, I'm thinking about that report, and why the Trump administration is so intent upon hiding the evidence they claim exonerates Trump. We know much of the information contained in the two parts that have been released in redacted form. Yet, as Rachael on MSNBC continues to point out, we don't have anything from the counter-intelligence, national security investigation. Or do we? Would Bob Mueller's testimony assist us in recognizing those parts that have been released?

I think about Attorney General Barr's public activities. If we were to consider it in the context of an intelligence program, we could only conclude that it has been a “perception management” campaign, aimed at misleading the public into believing the Mueller Report is the exact opposite of what it really is. That's curious, because I remember when I was first reading Malcolm Nance's book “The Plot to Hack America,” I recognized that the Russian intelligence was running a perception management campaign within the United States. As I think of it now, I realize that Mr. Nance's outstanding book was actually an extremely accurate version of Part 1 of the Mueller Report.

Most of us older folks remember that the idea of “subliminal advertising” was a hot topic in the late 1950s through the early '70s. (I'll wait here until you return with popcorn and coke.) The Beatles' fans may recall Rev. David Noebel, the author of both “Communism, Hypnotism, and the Beatles” and “The Beatles: A study in Sex, Drugs, and Revolution,” warning us of the subliminal messages that Russian scientists inserted into the Beatles' songs. Ringo's drumming was especially dangerous, because it led unsuspecting girls to dance with wild abdomen.

On October 20, 1977, Carl Bernstein published a story on “The CIA and the Media” in Rolling Stone. It remains one of the most important works of journalism in modern history.

http://www.carlbernstein.com/magazine_cia_and_media.php

Luckily, these days we don't have such an influence on the way the media reports stories, unless you include the numerous retired intelligence officers hired by virtually every cable news outlet. One might question the media's role in George H. W. Bush's war with Iraq to that of his son's. But one important difference is that everyone lied for the Elder, while some tried to warn the nation before W's war. Indeed, the Office of the Vice President's attempts to silence critics resulted in a large scandal.

Leading up to the 2016 presidential campaign, Russian military intelligence was focused on interfering with our election process. Trump's entering the race was icing on the cake. It provided the opportunity to move beyond creating discord, and then harming Hillary Clinton – who they anticipated would win – to actually helping Trump “win.” And it is essential to understand, as Malcolm Nance has pointed out, that this was their sequence of goals: first, disrupt, second, hurt Clinton, and eventually third, to help Trump.

Thus Russian military intelligence assessed several things: the divisions in each party during their primaries, the “unfavorable” burden each candidate in the general election carried – and that is not dependent upon if it is an “unfavorable” that is justified by facts, the current technology that allows for mass communications – including tasking organizations to provide “bots” to spread discord, and Wikileaks to publish stolen documents, identifying the best lies and misleading information to cause disruptions and acrimony, and perhaps the most significant, groups in the US that will be helpful in peddling information, disinformation, and misinformation to specific target audiences.

Each of these goals was met at a level that allowed Trump to “win.”

It's interesting, at least to me, to think back to some of the strange things that happened in 2016. The Mueller Report raises questions, I think, about the more than 200,000 voters purged from the rolls in Brooklyn in the six months prior to the primary vote. That has never been explained.

The good news in all of this reminds me of the “cure” for subliminal advertising: if you know it's there, you won't respond to it (or o “they” say). Democratic voters in 2018 were aware of events two years before, and we sure as hell voted accordingly. We need to keep this in mind as 2020 approaches, and not only in the presidential primaries and general election.

Thank you for reading this.
H2O Man

Requiem for a Nun(es)

“Walton said in court Tuesday he could ask to review the highly anticipated document in full confidentially, after the Justice Department releases a redacted version to the public and Congress on Thursday, and then subsequently give it to organizations that requested it under FOIA. That type of review would be a win for those suing for the document because it would bring in a judge to check the executive branch's decision-making on redactions.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/16/politics/judge-foia-doj-redactions-mueller-report/index.html



With the rapid pace of new information being placed in front of us daily, it can be hard to remember all of the important details that became public two years, one year, or even one month ago. Even the media – which I think is as good as it's been since the Watergate era – often fails to provide the recent historical context of their important breaking news stories. That's one of the things that I have long valued about this forum ….while there are not the long and detailed OP/threads we enjoyed in the days of the Plame scandal, there is still room for long-winded old folks to post such information.

I'll start by saying I value William Faulkner's works, especially “Requiem for a Nun.” It contains the wonderful quote, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” We recall that Senator Barack Obama made use of this in “A More Perfect Union,” which I consider to be one of the greatest American speeches.

On March 1, 2017, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration had rushed to preserve evidence that Russia had interfered with the 2016 election. This was due to justifiable concerns that the Trump administration would attempt to make that evidence disappear. This is important to keep in mind, as we consider other more recent events.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/us/politics/obama-trump-russia-election-hacking.html

There were also efforts to keep some intelligence from the Trump administration once he took office. It wasn't hard to keep reports from Trump, who dislikes reading. However, others in the White House who can read – including family members – had access classified information, and were likely to inform Trump of issues. Because several key people were being investigated, attempts were made to keep the information secret.

Also, as shown when Trump met with the two Russians in the Oval Office soon after firing James Comey, and revealed top secret intelligence from Israel, Trump's big mouth poses problems in terms of relationships with allies. This intersects with Trump's anti-NATO positions, which are Putin-inspired. More, several of our NATO allies had red-flagged information about contacts between those in the Trump campaign and individuals in the Russian military-intelligence orbit. These came well before the Steele dosier.

Trump's knowledge of some of these issues resulted from two sources – Rep. Devon Nunes, and Senator Richard Burr – running to the White House to report everything they learned in intelligence committee meetings. It is safe to speculate that some of this information has played a role in Trump's hostility towards NATO. And it is safe to say that the intelligence community is aware of this.

Two days ago, a friend from DU asked me about Rep. Adam Schiff's saying that the House intelligence committee has not formally heard from the intelligence community in some time. This is the result of Barr and especially Nunes's big mouths. But it should not be taken as evidence that Rep. Schiff does or has not have/had access to intelligence individually. Thus, his previous statements about collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

This may also explain much of the timing of events that are now unfolding. I respect that some Democrats (in DC and the grassroots) want to move faster, and others slowly, towards impeachment. And still others think it shouldn't happen, and we should focus on 2020 elections. One factor is the republicans in the Senate. We are all disgusted by their refusal to put country before Trump.

However, there are some positive signs. Senator Burr subpoenaing Donald Jr. is good. Better yet are the 800+ former federal prosecutors signing the letter about Trump's obstruction of justice. Many of these people are republicans. And I'd add to these something that is now happening – and we know it, although it isn't being covered in the media in any detail.

There are four Democratic House committee chairs with good reason to bring Trump to court, for his refusal to honor congressional subpoenas. One option would be to select the strongest case, and file that. Another option is to combine the cases, which might actually make for a stronger case.

There is a very good chance that case would be heard by the Senior US District Judge in the District of Columbia, Reggie Walton. Back in 2007, some on this forum were concerned when Judge Walton heard the Lewis Libby case. I said he was a good choice, because although he is a conservative republican, he believes in the rule of law. Indeed, he had a harsh sentence for Libby, which was interfered with by others, including Presidents Bush and later by Trump pardoning “Scooter.”

Judge Walton is familiar with Barr. He has known Barr since at least 1980. Therefore, he is familiar with Barr's actions including “misleading” Congress and advocating for pardons for felons. It's important to understand that Judge Walton, like Mr. Mueller, believes that public servants should be held to the highest of legal standards. He is considered to be non-political while on the bench, and believes harsh sentences deter future crime. I will speculate that he isn't a fan of felons' sentences being commuted or their being pardoned.

We also know from articles like the one quoted from and linked to at the top, that Judge Walton has serious concerns with Barr's handling of the Mueller Report. If you read that article, I think you'll agree that it would be best if he oversees the Democrats' case against the Trump administration.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Movement You Need

“The movement you need is on your shoulder.”
Paul McCartney; 1968


As we are edging towards seven hundred former federal prosecutors signing the statement about Trump having committed obstruction of justice, there are three things that I think we should keep in mind. First, this statement did not happen in a vacuum. Many of these individuals, including some involved in starting and promoting the letter, have worked with various people on the Mueller Team. Thus, they saw how Attorney General Barr ignored the team members who voiced dissatisfaction with Barr's 3.5 cover (up) letter. They watched Barr mislead the nation in his press conference, and a Senate committee while testifying. And they listened to Barr insult Robert Mueller.

Second, these individuals are fully aware that the investigation relating to Part One of the Mueller Report was not exclusively aimed at identifying Trump's role. Rather, the investigation involved documenting the role of Russians in contaminating the election process, as well as what if any role anyone in the Trump campaign may have had in conspiring and coordinating with the Russian effort. Thus, while this has been overlooked recently by the media, Barr's claim that Trump “knew” there was no collusion is simply false.

Trump – if he was truly not involved and unaware of the numerous contacts between Russians and his campaign – could only be certain of his knowledge and actions. It is, of course, difficult to believe that Trump was unaware of Don, Jr., Jared, and Manafort's meeting to “get dirt” on his opponent, especially in light of the timing of Trump's saying he would be holding a press conference to release Hillary's “corruption.” However, even if Trump actually is as stupid as he often appears to be, this does not grant him a license to obstruct the investigation. Thus, another bald-faced lie by Barr.

Third, it is important to recognize that there is direct links between members of the Mueller Team (indirectly) conveying the message to the media that they were unsatisfied with Barr's 3.5 summary, Mr. Mueller's letter to Barr, and the new letter signed by hundreds of former federal prosecutors. More, it is essential that we understand the letter is not simply to apply pressure to those in the House and Senate who continue to say the investigation cleared Trump of any wrong-doing.

It is also a serious effort to inform the public, and to spark citizen action. The success of their effort will be determined, in large part, on the public's response. They are counting on citizens – concerned by the corruption in the White House and Department of Justice – to speak up, loud and clearly. Contact all of your elected representatives in Washington, DC, and demand action. Write a letter to the editor of all of your local and area newspapers. Be actively involved, knowing that our constitutional democracy is at risk.

One last thing: we will win.

Peace,
H2O Man

Food for Thought

“You own your lies. And even if it takes a while, every lie you tell will eventually catch up to you. So try very hard to tell the truth. That's what I think. It's better to tell the truth.”
Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman


The above quote is from my first interview with the late Chief Waterman. At the time, he was in the hospital in Syracuse, having suffered a stroke 36 hours earlier. In time, I would conduct three more interviews with Paul, which were first published in a Native American newspaper, and later in a book.

I worked as Chief Waterman's top assistant for decades. In doing so, I was frequently reminded of the differences in character between native leaders, and many of those in our local, state, and federal representatives. Let's consider the case of William Barr. Were I composing a memo on Barr's “character” for Chief Waterman's consideration, or to send a Democrat in the House, here are a few things I'd include:

Barr has donated more money to political campaigns than any other Attorney General. He gave $55,000 to the Jeb Bush political action committee, then another $2,700 to the Trump campaign, during the 2016 campaign. This raises obvious questions about the extent that his personal political beliefs influence his overall thinking.

It's not just that he is on the record saying the Supreme Court made the wrong decision in Roe v. Wade, or that he is strongly against the legalization of marijuana. Barr is on the record as saying that Hillary Clinton should rightfully be investigated for “crimes,” and that Trump should not have been. We will return to this shortly, but keep in mind Senator Kamala Harris's questioning of Barr earlier this week.

Barr penned an op-ed for the Washington Post on 10-31-2016, titled “James Comey did the right thing.” A sub-heading notes Barr was supporting Donald Trump for president. In commenting on the FBI director's notice to Congress that he was re-opening the investigation of Clinton e-mails, Barr refers to Democrats' concerns as “flatly wrong” and “absurd.” Always prone to self-righteousness to the point of delusion, Barr states that the need of the moment was for “honesty” and “truthfulness.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/james-comey-did-the-right-thing/2016/10/31/7fcf0018-9f84-11e6-a44d-cc2898cfab06_story.html?utm_term=.de0b3a7ff8af

On February 1, 2017, Barr had another op-ed published in the Post, arguing that Trump was right to fire Sally Yates.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/former-attorney-general-trump-was-right-to-fire-sally-yates/2017/02/01/5981d890-e809-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html?utm_term=.4d463a43af7b

Michael Isikoff reported that in the late spring of 2017, Trump sought to hire Barr as his personal attorney, to represent him in the Mueller investigation. They met at the White House, but Barr did not accept the position at that time. Yet this did not stop communications between the White House and Barr.

https://news.yahoo.com/trump-first-wanted-g-pick-bill-barr-another-job-defense-lawyer-231509009.html

Barr would tell the media that there was “nothing inherently wrong” with Trump's demand for a criminal investigation of his political opponents. This is, of course, a view shared by the alt-right, but unheard of in a democracy. Due to Barr's comments supporting Trump the Trump White House stayed in touch with Barr about joining Trump's personal defense team. They wanted him to join the personal defense team, but there was a change in plans when they hired Rudy Giuliani. (see Isikoff)

It was then that Barr submitted his “unsolicited” 20-page memo to Trump's defense team, attacking the Mueller investigation. More, he had discussions with Trump's personal legal team regarding his memo.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/14/politics/barr-mueller-letter/index.html

Now, let's do a quick mental exercise. Why might Trump have then nominated Barr to become Attorney General? And are there any possible conflicts of interest that might have called for Barr to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation? Is there any hint of a glaring conflict between first saying that James Comey did the right thing with the e-mail case, but then claiming Trump was correct in firing Comey for having done the right thing? For claiming there was a conflict of interest for some of the Mueller team, because they had donated to the Clinton campaign?

There's a lot to, um, grapple with there. That's probably why Barr was unable to answer Senator Harris's rather pointed question regarding if anyone in the White House – including but not limited to Trump – had advocated for investigations and prosecutions of other people. Had Barr gone in front of the House committee, he would have been asked specifically about discussions he has had with the White House about investigating and prosecuting individuals such as Hillary Clinton and James Comey. And he knew it.

The difference between a Chief Paul Waterman and an A.G. William Barr, as the old saying goes, is the difference between sugar and shit. And those are rather distinct choices in any food for thought.

A Long, Strange Walk


“We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.”
– Henry David Thoreau; Walking


There was snow in the air and on the ground this morning. As I prepared for my daily walk, I thought of a line from one of Rubin Carter's letters 45 years ago, when he stated, “Everything under the sun is exactly as it should be, or it wouldn't be.” Had he anticipated this weather?

Since my dogs were intent upon sleeping late inside our warm house, I decided that I would drive to an area near where I grew up, and walk along the river on a path I had enjoyed as a youth. As an old man, I find myself thinking, “This isn't the country I grew up in” frequently. I thought of a quote from Sitting Bull as I drove: “If a man loses anything and goes back and carefully looks for it, he will find it.”

I parked near the house that my childhood “best friend” grew up, and walked through a field where we used to box and play football and baseball. When I got to the river, I could look across to see my parents' house, now empty. When my father started building the house, several neighbors put up “For Sale” signs, as the were upset that an Irish-Catholic family was moving in.

Nearby was the spot where my friend and I, around the ages of 4 and 5, would sneak to in order to watch our older brothers; they had formed a “club” that they called the Swamp Kings. In more recent years, I found some scattered Indian artifacts on the site.

From where I stood, I could see the road that my siblings and I used to walk upon. One day, when I was ten, a guy driving a station wagon swerved across the double lines, towards my oldest brother, then 17. He stopped to confront my brother about his hair, as he found it highly offensive. Itching for a fight, this large hostile man grabbed my brother by the shirt collar, and asked, “What are you going to do about it?” My brother, who was about 125 pounds, likely looked too small to do much. There was a pause, and then my brother said, “This,” as he staggered the fellow with a left hook. A vicious fight took place, and my brother – a top amateur boxer at the time – beat the fellow unconscious. Then he tossed the limp body into the ditch. “Guess his kids won't be afraid of him any more,” my other brother said as we walked away.

About a quarter of a mile further, and I came to a spot where, along with a few flint chips, some long-broken items from the contact/colonial era. During the Revolutionary War, Colonel Jacob Klock had written to Governor Clinton about the camp of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant in this area. Brant had an estimated total of 1,700 men there that summer.As Klock noted, this included a number of runaway slaves.

Growing up, I learned that the black people who had joined Brant's ranks had camped on the bank where I was now standing. Looking across the river, I could see my sister and brother-in-law's house. When my father and I started building it, the same neighbors again put up “For Sale” signs, upset that a black man and his family were moving in.

No houses sold, and within a few years, those people had come to like and respect their black neighbors. When, two decades ago, a racist hate group attacked my nephew because they resented media coverage of a black high school scholar-athlete, leaving him unconscious and seriously injured in a dark field, those neighbors were among the most vocal opponents of the racist gang.

A half-mile further, and I began to come across a few flint chips and shattered red sandstone fragments. Soon, I came across the hearth, with several of the stones that had been heated in a fire long ago. Among them was the fire-pocked base of a projectile point known as a Brewerton, dating approximately 2,000 bc. It was not an artifact most collectors would treasure, by any means, much less of museum quality. But I was happy to encounter it. I was happy for the rest of my walk, and then for the drive home.

Shortly after arriving home, I learned of the hate crime at the synagogue. I felt sick. A bit later came a report about some white nationalists disrupting a presentation at a bookstore. I felt anger. But then I got an e-mail from Stosh Cotler, the CEO of Bend the Arc.

“We will not accept an America where massacres in synagogues become normal,” the first sentence of this powerful message read. It gave me confidence. Here is a link to the web site:

https://www.bendthearc.us/

I laid down to take a rest, as old men often do. As I closed my eyes, I remembered a couple of people I remember from where I lived, before my father completed our house. We lived in an apartment in a neighborhood known as the “Project.” Our neighbors included a king old man named Erik Sonnefeld. He had lost all of his family in the Nazi death camps. He gave my siblings and I gifts, ranging from a coin collection to a stuffed animal.

One morning, I overheard a neighbor telling my mother, “Erik was really climbing the walls last night.” In my small child's mind, I tried to picture that literally. I recently asked another neighborhood resident if she knew what ever became of him? She did not know either, but noted that he was a talented artist, who gave her a painting that she still has.

And I thought of one of my brothers' friends, who visted us often. His being black did not seem strange to me. But finding out, years later, how a school teacher beat him in her classroom seemed unacceptable. She beat him until he was bloody once, yet remained employed as a 3rd grade teacher.
His brother and him, along with a friend, were murdered at a local bar in the late 1970s. The guy with the shotgun was frustrated that he lost a card game. He had been friends with the three for years. I often saw them at his house when I was out on walks.

Last year, my friend's son contacted me. I hadn't seen him since he was a little boy, 40 years ago. His mother moved far away then. I look forward to getting to know him. I have some good stories to tell him about his father.

I think of my reaction, 45 years ago, to Rubin's message. There was so much wrong in America then, including a criminal in the White House. I was young and confident – perhaps overconfident – that my generation was going to right the wrongs in our country. It's been a long, strange walk since then. And we still have a long ways to go.

People Are Strange

“People are strange.” – Jim Morrison


People in the intelligence community are known to read. For example, we know that Robert Mueller has read the Constitution. He understands the role that Congress needs to play in the cases he outlined in his two-part report. People who have read about Mr. Mueller for years know that virtually all his co-workers over the decades have noted he sees things involving crime in black and white terms. Plus, he is recently on the record saying those in high office must be held to a high standard.

Others in the intelligence community read, as well. Dr. Bandy Lee's 2017 book on Trump, for example. There are those in their ranks who are tasked with creating psychological profiles of foreign leaders, especially those deemed to be potential threats to international security. Military intelligence, people my age will recall, spied on President Nixon. Though he didn't dare confront them on this, it made Nixon paranoid. The “plumbers” were among the results.

I'm confident that their evaluation of Trump is nearly identical to Dr. Lee's. And they recognize that Trump would rather be the leader of this country under conditions similar to “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland, than be humiliated and forced from office by the rule of law. Trump poses a threat to our national security on both foreign and domestic fronts.

He has enlarged the divisions between different groups, by exploiting the anxieties and fears found within the nation. He has called upon white nationalists to become active agents in society, even calling Nazis “good people.” He repeatedly calls the media “the enemy of the people,” encouraging threatening behaviors at his rallies. He has attacked law enforcement and judges. He insults Congress. With all of this on the domestic front, it is no surprise that some disturbed individuals have lashed out violently. Indeed, the only surprise is that more right wingnuts haven't struck out at innocent victims.

Any psychological profile of Trump will focus upon his inability to deal with stress without lashing out. The greater the stress, the greater the outburst. More, this is directly tied to Trump's inability to accept responsibility for anything “bad.” Let's consider an example that sheds light on the situation with Barr. After Bob Woodward's book “Fear” was published, Trump blamed Bill Shine for the press coverage. Indeed, Shine was forced out of his job, because Trump held him fully responsible for a book that focused onTrump's presidency, before Shine was officially drafted from Fox. (Obviously, Barr was aware of this, and it has influenced his cheer-leading for Trump since the Mueller Report was completed.)

The tendency for “leaders” such as Trump to behave like a rabid dog furiously biting itself by humiliating, firing, or killing someone in their orbit is well-documented. Someone has to be to blame, after all. With intelligence operations seeking to bring down such rulers, it is important to place pressure on these fracture points. And that is often a good political strategy, too. Let's consider two fracture points that are currently being served up to Democrats, shall we?

The first is on full display in a curious manner. We recall Barr talking about being “family friends” with the Muellers when he was before the Senate seeking confirmation. Yet since Barr released his 3.5 page review of the Mueller Report, there has been tension. While Mr. Mueller would not leak, several of his team members did – and with the specific goal of having their disgust reported in the media.

Barr's attempts to get Mr. Mueller to publicly endorse his letter to Congress began as a “friend.” When Bob declined, Barr attempted to pull rank as Attorney General. This, too, failed. In fact, Barr's pompous behavior added pressure to the growing fracture. When Barr gave his press conference, complete with the wax statue of Rod Rosenstein borrowed from Madame Tussauds' museum backing him, he had wanted Mr. Mueller there, too. That, of course, did not happen. This is important because, in applying pressure to a fracture, there are benefits of making use of a three-person triangle. When Rosenstein ends up testify to Congress, this benefit will be evident.

Now, let's look at a second triangle. The current divide between Trump and McGahn is now public. This is not surprising. McGahn was not a “true believer” in Trump. He is an ambitious fellow (in the most negative sense) and an opportunist. His goal with Trump was to stack the Supreme Court with religious right-wing zealots, such as his buddy Brett Kavanaugh. It is said that he takes greater pride in getting Brett on the USSC, than he does in his mint-condition collection of The Cowsills' record albums.

Since the information involving McGahn's role in the Mueller Report was explained to him – including by Fox News – Trump has been obsessed with punishing McGahn. His efforts to do damage will increase rapidly when McGahn is scheduled to testify before Congress. It will include, bu not be limited to, tweets and live phone calls to various Fox shows. This from a man who, like Nixon, expects the justices he appointed to the USSC to kiss his fat ass as publicly as Barr has.

Yet, we know Kavanaugh can be moved to tears when talking about his friends. We've seen that. And so he will be remembering those afternoons and evenings he spent with McGahn, drinking beer (Brett likes beer, you know), rocking out to the Cowsills, and not blacking out. Brett will be looking at his prize collection of calendars to get the inexact dates of those wild and crazy times. And, eventually, he may have to make a decision that, in effect, forces him to choose between McGahn and Trump.

There are other triangles within the White House and administration. Think of the descriptions in books such as “Team of Vipers,” “Fear,” “Unhinged,” and “Fire and Fury.” The more triangles used to exert pressure upon the growing fractures, the better.

Stay strong. We've got this. Our elected representatives in DC are doing exactly the right things at this time. Don't let the media nonsense about “divisions” among Huse Democrats bother you, for they are not true. Have confidence in the process.

Peace,
H2O Man

The Mueller Report Unplugged

“There's no right way to do wrong, and no wrong way to do right.”
Smokin' Joe Frazier


I find myself thinking about the simple wisdom of the former heavyweight's saying, that his son Marvis shared with me years ago. In my mind, it applies to two of the issues that are currently on my mind – the terrible behaviors documented in the Mueller Report, and the response of the Democrats in Washington, DC. I'll start by saying that in reading redacted versions of two of the three-part Mueller Report, I am fully aware that I am viewing two of the most important documents in our nation's history. And that it would be a shame if such documents served only to delineate the end of our constitutional democracy.

(Note: the “part three” of the Mueller Report is on the counter-intelligence investigation. It goes to top people in the intelligence community. It will not be made public, and at most, only eight members of the House and Senate will learn a limited amount of what it contains. I will speculate that it includes more damning information on the Russian influence on our 2016 election, and on the Trump mob.)

Now, let's briefly consider what information was revealed in parts one and two of the Mueller Report. Perhaps the most ironic thing is that documents that there was a great deal of “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign and transition. Collusion, of course, is not a crime. It was, however, unethical and unpatriotic.

The investigation did not find evidence of conspiracy that reached the level needed for indictments. It did catch a number of Trump people lying about their contacts with Russians and people connected to Russia. The report notes that some were able to destroy records that likely would have been important to the investigation. Most importantly, in my opinion, it showed that direct coordination was avoided by the tried and true tactic of creating a triangle: Russian military intelligence stole e-mails, provided them to Wikileaks, which then made them public, for the Trump campaign's use.

As most have figured out, the best example of using a cut-out (or third party) to conceal the conspiracy relates to Don Jr.'s infamous meeting at the Trump Tower. This was attended by Jared, Manafort, and a collection of Russians, who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The investigators concluded that Junior and Jared were eager to get the dirt, but too stupid to know they were violating campaign finance law. But Manafort had run campaigns before, and he understood the deal. He sent coded messages on his cell phone, which remain unexplained.

Because Manafort would not cooperate, this obvious link in the chain could not be proven. Hence, he was prosecuted Al Capone style. Junior would later have communications with Wikileaks, and Trump would order a top aide to find out what information would be “dumped” at future dates. And, of course, Roger Stone would have contact with Wikileaks, at very least using another cut-out. More, Trump would help draft the lie about “Russian adoptions” when the media began reporting on this.

Report Two documents a long-term campaign by Trump to obstruct both Mr. Comey's and Mr. Mueller's investigation(s). This report makes clear that, were it not for DOJ policy, Trump would be indicted. The evidence clearly reaches the threshold of a 95% chance of conviction. And, very importantly, Mr. Mueller repeatedly makes clear that he intends this documentation to be used by Congress in a manner delineated in the Constitution – and to be available for use by federal prosecutors in the future, when Trump is no longer in office. Also, Mr. Mueller sent 14 cases to other prosecutors.

Thus, we can conclude that try as they might, there was no right way for the Trump people to do all of the wrong they did. The question at hand is what is the best way for the rest of us – those in office in DC, the media, and citizens – to seek justice? There are a number of options.

First, there are those who are opposed to the thought of impeachment hearings. Within this group, there are sub-groups. Some believe that republicans in the Senate will never convict Trump if the House impeaches him. Others think the public will confuse the issues in the Mueller Report with the Clinton experience, and turn against Democrats in 2020. And still others think the process would prove time consuming for the many Democrats in the House and Senate running for the Democratic nomination. I think the first and third concerns are legitimate and deserve our attention,

There are other Democrats who believe that, rather than (or at least before) beginning impeachment hearings, Democrats should focus on getting a vote to censure Trump. While I do not think that alone is satisfactory, I recognize that it, too, is a legitimate issue for further discussion.

A significant number of people want Congress to begin impeachment hearings very soon. Strike while the iron is hot. Again, that is a legitimate position. I'm not opposed to it per se, but there is a related position that I believe is better. It's true that a committee holding potential impeachment hearings has the superior claim to access to any and all official records. Yet, the current House committees that are seeking those records do have a solid legal case to justify their demands.

This includes things beyond what the two Mueller Reports contain. Perhaps the most significant is Trump's financial records, including his tax records. The emoluments clause needs to be included in any effort to impeach Trump. There need to be several solid articles of impeachment, covering a wide range of Trump's behaviors, for the republicans in the Senate. And there is a significant amount of further information that will come out in the next few months. That includes information from documents, as well as members of the White House, prosecutors, and the intelligence communit testifying to Congress. And there will be leaks.

Also important is that Democrats have to alter the perception that impeachment is merely a political activity. That it is two teams – Democrats and republicans – fighting for political advantage. No, this is about what the United States stands for, and what it means. There will be 20-25% of Trump's base that is too stupid, too ignorant, and/or too hateful to withdraw their support for Trump. But there are others in our country who will benefit from being informed by congressional hearings, and then support impeachment. For they will recognize that Trump's presidency is a skid mark on our nation's history.

Peace,
H2O Man
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