Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Assange vs Snowden: A Tragicomedy. And the war on science gets explicit.

First, a bit that says it all, from a top Republican factotum: Science is a Democrat thing.”  Um. They say it proudly, even explicitly, as when DonaldTrump just this week attacked meteorologists. "Trump ridicules weather forecasters for getting it ‘wrong the most’ when they made a spot-on prediction." 

They have to. Disdain geniuses who predicted the paths of every recent hurricane with uncanny accuracy 5 days out, saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Because virtually all of them (along with every Naval officer) confirm global warming.

Yes, science, but also every fact-based profession. Including medicine, law, teaching, journalism and the "deep state" enemies of the Intel/FBI/military officer corps (who are fleeing the GOP in droves, despite their crewcuts, because, well, fact and science (and climate change) are real. 

There is some guilt to go around. Any and all liberals who reject crewcut refugees from this madness, know this -- you are doing Putin's work. But if you head forth to lure just a couple of RASRs (Residually Adult-Sane Republicans) into the light, then you are doing your part to save civilization.

== Assange Theatrics and WikiTantrums ==

What a tragicomedy. We needed something like WikiLeaks (which I predicted in The Transparent Society). But this jerk turned it into a tool wielded by Putin against the west. He meant us harm. As we'll discuss below, In contrast, I don't believe that was ever Edward Snowden's aim.

What's astonishing is how little actual damage Assange and Snowden (two very different men, I avow!) did to U.S. processes or government or even officials. In a few cases, light caused some ruction followed by incremental reforms (more below). Which somewhat-guardedly pleased Snowden and drove Assange absolutely nuts. But no surprise there. Read about his behavior at London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Says Albert Gross: “Somebody has to write a farcical screenplay  (or TV series)  about this. The comic potential is too great. Sort of a mixture of two classic plays: The Man Who Came To Dinner and Molière's Misanthrope.”

And yes, some of my agency friends may fume about a few wikileaks harms… some spy methods revealed, some sources endangered or compromised. (There was one pretty bad steal from NSA.) But on any grand scale, it was reassuring to see how little “heinous” was going on… much less than Assange raved, or than many fevered folks expected. Take this discussion of “harms”:

“On the diplomatic front, WikiLeaks shared many examples of U.S. diplomats writing in unflattering terms about foreign leaders, causing the U.S. embarrassment.”

Um… I followed all this at the time. The Chelsea Manning leaks revealed a quarter of a million State Department cables and that was not good. Yet, what “unflattering” things were our diplomats saying? They were caught privately dissing vile dictators like Hosni Mubarak, despising tyrants and wishing they did not have to deal with them! These cables were outed just before and during the Arab Spring, proving that these vile dictators were not U.S. agents, but actually hated by our diplomatic corps. 

Result? Amid all the Arab Spring protests by students and liberals across that region, no American flags were burnt.

Thanks Chelsea! (Should she get a medal?) Seriously, that musta really stuck in Assange’s gorge. That and the fact that light seems only to help us, never to bring us crashing down. (Though I hope some “leaders” get seared into dust, by light. One of our innovations -- the leader is not the state. Much as the present Louis crise "l'etat c'est moi!" See "Trump team sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One to keep them from turning over financial records to Congress.")

What Snowden’s better-targeted leaks did was cause a partial (I admit insufficient) overhaul of the FISA process, turning the 'FISA Court' into an actual court with adversarial ombudsmen to speak against each filing. It's not enough! But it was a step in right directions and hence Snowden has some cause to call himself an “Ellsberg.” Moreover, Snowden openly avows his civil disobedience merits some punishment! (Showing a rare understanding of “civil disobedience,” which only counts if there’s some punishment! We'll blog about this, soon.) 

That punishment must be satiable and proportional in a free and improving society, especially if our standards change because of the civil dispobendience, as ML King changed our standards. 

And no, I am not calling them equivalent. I will not pre-judge, but will leave it at this: Assange and Snowden are two very different cases. Two very different qualities of men.

== A metaphor for the perennial liberal problem ==

Watch this biopic about Hannah Arendt.  (I was visiting scholar at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. My father sat next to her, at the Eichmann Trial.)

The biopic is a fascinating story about a rift in most progressive movements -- the choice between  complexity (moving progress forward by analyzing how things work, including the obstacles ahead) and ideological purity (mobilizing the forces of progress with simplified incantations.) I sometimes get in trouble for doing the former, though I understand the need for the latter.  

Unfortunately, the latter impulse results in the Good Side of this struggle often eating their own, and I fear it may do us harm in 2020.

A moment in the film struck me. Arendt has fled to America. She is critical of many of our flaws. But when asked what she thinks of us, overall, she sighs, remembering Europe, and says "paradise."

Compare her to another Jewish emigré Leo Strauss, who ranted that America should be more like the Europe that had just committed suicide with imperialism and madness.  Strauss trained most of the "Neocons" who fed the right's Bush-era imperialist ravings.  ... till Rupert Murdoch decided he could do without any intellectuals at all, and flushed them like toilet paper.

I guess my point is that we don't have to motivate our reform efforts by saying all is crap... or that there's equal amounts progress and crap... or that we've fallen backwards.  Clearly, every generation of (especially) Americans has taken on new issues of inclusion and with some exceptions (the 1870s and 1920s) risen to the challenge of widening the circle at least a little.

The classic liberal worry is that any admitting of our prodigious progress might lessen the imperative to forge ahead. But each plateau only shows us how desperately urgent is the need to keep going.  May I attempt a metaphor?

We're like allied prisoners escaping a sunken U-Boat, rising 90 meters, then nine, then 0.9...  and each stroke brings us closer to the light that feels like it is receding!... Because each stroke upward feels a more burning urgency and a sense that we're running out of time.  And meanwhile, some damn nazis are grabbing at the ankles...

Yipe, what a metaphor. But the point is that urgency doesn't vanish if you admit that you've come a long way. Indeed, that admission empowers! Try it.

And speaking of metaphors…

“I told you once before that there were two times for making big money, one in the up-building of a country and the other in its destruction. Slow money on the up-building, fast money in the crack-up. Remember my words. Perhaps they may be of use to you some day. 
Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind

In contrast, this SMBC cartoon makes a seldom mentioned point. That consumerism is hard on the planet… but has lifted more humans out of poverty, elevated more children, and enabled billions of women to rise up enough to control and limit their birth rates… which has in turn fundamentally saved the planet. Ironies abound. But simplistic anti-globalism is not an answer. And the American consumer, especially, may be recognized someday as an agent of hope and salvation. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

More incredible space stuff

Today it's the Poway shooting. Each day more evidence that our crisis is not about left-vs.-right, but a mob that's been riled-up against modernity.

And so... we turn to what should be the non-political world of SPACE! Yep, let's focus this weekend on the 99.999999% of everything in the universe that may be within reach of our grandchildren, if only we leave them a positive civilization.

== Cosmology ==

Phil Plait makes the discovery of a relatively nearby and very ancient dwarf galaxy sound like the most exciting thing since Battlestar Galactica got rebooted!

A central black hole (CBH) in a galaxy half a billion light years away has a mass similar to the Milky Way’s CBH, but has recently eaten a star, making it very bright. And a sharp lump near the event horizon appears to be spinning round it at half the speed of light! Another was clocked at 84%!

Reason to believe that clumping dark matter may have led to the formation of many black holes in the earliest universe… and their numbers may be large, today.

News articles miss the point about this newly-chosen, relatively inexpensive NASA mission. Every six months, SPHEREx will survey the entire sky in 96 color bands. That won’t give you a complete, scientific spectrum of any one object. But it will provide a very telling rough spectrum of half a BILLION objects out there. That’s with a “B.” This is not a system to 'learn about universal origins.' It is one dedicated to alerting astronomers: “These 10,000 or so objects are weird. Look at them closer.” Combine this with the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at Palomar Observatory that seeks fast-changing sky events and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile, that will deep survey an enormous area of sky, repeating every few nights, and what we’ll get is something I've long said we need - an incredible alert system to say “Huh! lookadat!.”

And see news about the OCO-3 mission below.

== Exploring our solar system ==

Cool and stunning and gorgeous. A SpaceX launch seen from the International Space Station.

Alan Stern and the New Horizons team have a great year ahead, revealing bits from the doughty space probe’s latest marvelous encounter, nine light hours from the sun. This brief image glances backward as the probe leaves the Ultima Thule realm. New Horizons scientists can confirm that the two sections (or "lobes") of Ultima Thule are not spherical after all. The larger lobe, nicknamed "Ultima," more closely resembles a giant pancake and the smaller lobe, nicknamed "Thule," is shaped like a dented walnut. 

Last year's interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua has a lot of scientists abuzz. The head of the Harvard Astronomy department suggests it was likely an artifact, perhaps a jettisoned light-sail. (Eerily like an event in my novel Existence.) Others now calculate that interstellar space may be relatively filled with rocks. "We find that there should be thousands of `Oumuamua-size interstellar objects identifiable by Centaur-like orbits at high inclinations, assuming a number density of `Oumuamua-size interstellar objects of ~10^15 per cubic parsec." That's a fair amount! Perhaps enough to make travel between the stars an obstacle course. See the sci fi flick PASSENGERS.

And...  JPL’s Young-Earth-Ocean-In-A-Glass, combines water, minerals and the molecules ammonia and pyruvate that are usually found near hydrothermal vents, heated to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) and decreasing the oxygen content provided them with a laboratory model of the conditions of the "primordial ocean" … “showing that in geological conditions similar to early Earth, and maybe to other planets, we can form amino acids and alpha hydroxy acids from a simple reaction under mild conditions that would have existed on the seafloor…” Kewl time lapse. 

This article on crew behavior during long space missions suggests that onboard software systems appraise word usage and even body language among crew members to track incipient problems. Um, like a crew psychological profile? Will body language appraisal include… lip-reading?

The “Dragonfly” concept for an air-mobile lander on Titan is a major candidate that NASA may choose, this year.

Fascinating evidence that Mars had an extensive ground water circulation system feeding into deep craters for a long time.  

And I'll be examining ever more cool endeavors in June, in DC, as a member of the advisory council of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program.

And this might be of interest: a deep dive into the ongoing mysteries of quantum physics: A new book released by theoretical physicist Lee Smolin: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum

 == Oh, no! OCO is gonna so find truth ==

There is no scientific program that has been more targeted for hate by the Anti-Science Party than OCO or Orbiting Carbon Observatory.  The Bushites sabotaged or canceled or defunded earlier versions, which finally launched over screaming objections from the Denialist Cult and absolutely verified that human civilization is filling the atmosphere with greenhouse gas that is absolutely warming the planet.

OCO-3 is about to be delivered to the ISS where it will pin down the facts even better, despite desperate Trumpist efforts to slash it. 

Why? Why the hate? Or the commands for NASA and NOAA to cancel Earth observation and even forbid use of the very word "Earth"? Do the plutocrats controlling that party truly seek to preserve coal profits in the very short term over their children's health or possibly survival? Are they so stupid they think their Patagonian ranchos offer them actual security, when the world wakes up, enraged?  (We know where the bolt-holes are. And you will never be able to trust your guards.)

Ask your nutty uncle how he justifies this. Science is the human future. And there's nothing more suicidal than the cultish hatred of smart people.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

An even bigger scandal: when the ringleader went to Jared

You need to read this post by my friend, tech-investor Russ Daggatt about possibly the biggest political scandal in U.S. history: 

"Last August, Jared Kushner, son-in-law and (not coincidentally) the senior White House official in charge of the Middle East, received over a billion dollars from a firm seeking to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Then, the House Judiciary Committee got confirmation Jared uses WhatsApp to communicate with foreign leaders (in violation of US law), including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS known for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi). 

"The Trump administration has kept secret seven authorizations for sharing of sensitive nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that the kingdom hasn't agreed to the anti-proliferation requirements of US law. (Oh, and Trump intervened to get his daughter Jared and Ivanka  and 23 others high-level security clearances when they were denied them through normal national security channels.)

Daggatt continues: 
“Let's go through this step-by-step (links below). In 2007, just before the collapse of the real estate bubble, Jared had the family company buy 666 Fifth Avenue in New York for $1.8 billion, financed by a $1.4 billion loan - the highest price ever paid for a building in New York, and is not among even the top 100 tallest buildings in the city. It was a disastrously overpriced acquisition, about 30% vacant, with its largest tenant saying it planned to leave. The loan was due in February. Jared had been scouring the planet - while serving in the White House - for possible investors to save his family from financial collapse. No rational investor would touch the thing.

But then, last August, a savior was found - Brookfield Asset Management - which took a 99-year lease on the building, paying the entire $1.1 billion in lease payments upfront (!) and allowing Kushner to retain ownership of the underlying land (the one thing of real value). Turns out, Brookfield also owns the nuclear services company Westinghouse (purchased out of bankruptcy last year), which is seeking to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. (Trump's first National Security Advisor (and convicted felon) Michael Flynn, and Trump's buddy, campaign advisor, and the chairman of his Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, were also part of these efforts to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. It gets complicated - among other things, Barrack was the guy who brought Paul Manafort in as Trump's campaign manager. This appears to be among the matters spun off from the Mueller investigation. But I digress.)

‘It was reported last October that Jared has been communicating with MBS, using his personal mobile phone, through the free encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, which conveniently does not store messages on its servers after they are delivered, leaving no record of the communications. (If only Hillary had used WhatsApp.) That appears to have been confirmed recently by the House Oversight Committee. Jared has also been bypassing the State Department and the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia in his direct dealings with MBS, excluding them from communications and meetings (much like Trump's direct dealings with Putin).'

(DB note: Then there's the stunning Qatari angle: they used US foreign policy to shake down the Qataris to help bail out 666 Fifth Avenue. Crum! They didn't even try to hide it behind a series of shell companies! It's almost in the open!)

We know Trump ordered John Kelly, to grant Jared and Ivanka security clearances, despite objections from the CIA and the White House counsel, among others. Trump and Ivanka had both previously stated publicly that Trump did not intervene in the granting of those security clearances after they had been held up for over a year. (What exactly is it that Ivanka does that requires a top security clearance? Getting personal trademarks from China?) Who knows what the hold up was. Maybe it was the 40 times Jared had to amend the paperwork for his security clearance, to disclose foreign government contacts he had previously omitted (in possible violation of law). Maybe it was his efforts during the transition to set up a secret back channel to the Kremlin through the Russian Embassy to evade US intelligence services (just one of those details omitted from his paperwork). Or maybe it was his global hunt for money. 

‘In any event, we have what looks like a possible billion dollar payoff to a senior White House official (and president's son-in-law) by a group seeking to sell nuclear technology to the world's major exporter of Islamist radicalism. And, at the same time, secret approvals of transfers of nuclear technology to that country. And I've really only touched on all permutations of this story. You'd think it would be getting more attention than it has.

‘Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: The National Enquirer, which Trump has used for decades to kill scandals, and (apparently) Saudi intelligence services may have teamed up for a hit on Washington Post owner (and Trump target) Jeff Bezos. No way the Saudis and the Enquirer would be doing that except at the direction (or at least, with the knowledge) of Trump. Saudis aren’t going to be going rogue on something like that. My take is that Trump seems to be using the Saudi intelligence services to do dirty work for him that the professional US intelligence services never would (just as he sought a back channel to the Kremlin through the Russian Embassy to evade US intelligence services).’

Thanks Russ. If even just one of you can wrestle a RASR to the ground and pin him long enough to hear you recite-aloud the above, and get him to WAGER whether ALL of the “Clinton Scandals” he clings to – if all of them together were proved (and none ever were) -- would amount to 1% of just this one aspect of the Confederate-GOP-Putinist treason.... 

Cornered by your demand that he put actual money on it, some RASRs have been known to declare that they now realize we’re ruled by a mafia gang. If you – yes you – can haul just one sinner back to the American Enlightenment, then this will be a good day for us all.








There is more blatant proof here - just lying in the open - than all of the "Clinton-Obama Scandals" that the mad right spent 25 years and half a billion of our dollars "investigating," finding zilch.

A picture is worth…

Lest we forget the most-telling image of them all (and what Hollywood director would have dared with such a wretched-obvious villain cliché?)

Show it again to your aunt and uncle, and ask them if they ever saw James Bond characters who didn't scream more villainy.

== It’s mobs. Everywhere mobs ==

This article offers (duh!) comparisons between the Trump Organization and organized crime. But I take it much further. There are no other models that better map what we're up against. Putin, Kim, MBS (the Saudi leader), Erdogan, Duterte, Assad and the PRC all order assassin hits on opponents around the world with impunity while Trump defends all of them and blocks our institutions from taking counter measures. Some are 'communist' or ex-KGB or Sunni or Shiite or Catholic or casino moguls or U.S. Nazis -- but all those surface rationalizations and incantations are distraction BS.

Fundamental: some human males will be insatiably rapacious, absent of accountability. After 6000 years of feudalism, mafia tactics come naturally, wherever the Western Enlightenment cannot shine its new inventions of light and accountability. And the top shared goal of all these mobs - loosely led by Putin - is utter demolition of those tools and this enlightenment.

There are no other applicable models. (Well, the Chinese are a bit more complex, but the Kremlin has been the same, from the Czarist Okrhana to the Stalinist KGB to the post-communist-but-still-Stalinist oligarchy-mafia. And that one point should be shoved up your mad uncle's MAGA nose.) 

My father infiltrated the 1930s Nazi-Bund. As a gangland reporter he covered Capone. The Greatest Generation came to recognize this perennial threat to our flickering freedom, that strives above all to divide us and staunch our faith in facts and negotiation and a hope for reasonableness. 

And if you haven't yet, at my urging, watched the Costa-Gravas film "Z" then please do so ASAP.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mueller Fundamentals

There’s so much Mueller analysis out there. (A searchable/if redacted version.) But you know I offer angles you'll not get elsewhere. Here are digest-fundamentals that shine through Attorney General William Barr's sycophant spin. 

1. The importance of specific intent. Our rule of law is rightfully biased against prosecution, especially near the borders of free expression. Hence, in each instance of collusion or obstruction, there must be simultaneous actions and specified types of intent.

2. The Report details many acts that were clear obstruction, but Barr several times said illegal intent was missing because D. Trump was enraged and unaware of implications, while uninterested in cogent legal advice. This defense doesn’t work for assault or murder, but several times Barr leaned explicitly into this Rage and Stupidity Defense*.

3. Other acts of blatant obstruction DT did knowingly order, in order to obstruct. But he gets off some of those because underlings refused to carry them out! So, we had intent, but without the fully-completed act. See: “Don McGahn may have single-handedly saved Donald Trump's presidency.”

4. As for Collusion, Mueller does not exonerate. He only says “not decisively-proved” regarding specifically 2016 Trump campaign conspiracy with the Russians. 

Nothing to do with Putin-conniving after Trump became presidentEvents in 2017 and 2018 are still on our doorstep, including major counter-intelligence investigations, and the paper bag is aflame.

As for 2016 collusion, Mueller reports that the Trumpists:

(a) both openly and privately encouraged crimes and acts of war against us by hostile foreign powers. (Mueller separately indicted 16 Russian nationals, many of them oligarchs with blatant-smelly ties to Trump.)

(b) openly expressed gladness to benefit from those crimes and acts of war, and

(c) maintained highly suspicious contacts both during and after, and

You or I would call that a closed loop of treason. But Mueller's team - guided by prim U.S. definitions - needed a fact (e) that clearly was there, but they could not prove.

See it explained in an appraisal from Lawfare
    "This report shows that the Trump campaign was reasonably aware of the Russian efforts, at least on the hacking side. They were aware the Russians sought to help them win. They welcomed that assistance. Instead of warning the American public, they devised a public relations and campaign strategy that sought to capitalize on Russia’s illicit assistance. In other words, the Russians and the Trump campaign shared a common goal, and each side worked to achieve that goal with basic knowledge of the other side’s intention. They just didn’t (provably) agree to work toward that goal together."

Wow, isn’t western jurisprudence… well… prudent? You or I would call all that a huge pile of smoking guns. But our rule of law – gleefully used by enemies against us – requires rock solid proof of coordination during 2016

Hey, while we all know that coordination happened, this is not Russia, and hence what “we all know” doesn’t convict. The state must prove things beyond doubt. (Again, coordination with the Kremlin after 2016 is the treason that’s absolutely blatant in front of everyone’s eyes. It has been passed to other investigations. But the most blatant treason of all is the way that Fox and every single Fox watcher makes writhing excuses for all this.)

5. Can a sitting president be indicted? Mueller cites the infamous Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel's (OLC) opinion paper – not a law, regulation, ruling or precedent, just an opinion -- that indictment would unduly constrain a president's ability to govern, and hence can’t be allowed.

This is insane. It gives any president who has a McConnell in the Senate carte blanche to proclaim himself above the law. Sure, frivolous court actions could harass a constitutional chief executive – it’s what Trump tried doing to Obama with ‘birther’ lawsuits. 

In fact, the same protection could be afforded by "slow indictments" that are constrained so that -- audited by a court -- the president only spends say a maximum of ten hours a week on legal defense. Oh, sure, that too could be abused in stall tactics. But at least the principle is defensible. Depositions and due process could grind forward. And stalling can be fought. A never-indict precedent can’t be.

(Applying the OLC opinion to a president who spends almost no time governing is amazing.)

6. The Mueller report left clear that this is not over. There are at least a dozen ongoing federal investigations. Moreover, New York State will – Madison willing -- ensure that justice still prevails over many of Trump’s eventual pardons.

7. The power of removal. Mueller also added a searing paragraph making clear that Congress can constitutionally correct this travesty… though elsewhere I’ve given many reasons why I oppose impeachment. For now. Hey, I like Elizabeth Warren and the dems should have attack dogs shaking this bone. But McConnell.   

(An aside: See below in notes how Barr's Rage and Stupidity Defense reopens discussion of the 25th Amendment.)

8. Poison fruit. The top rationalization pouring out of Fox and Kremlin basements,  repeated by ol' Two Scoops? The original Steele Dossier - plus a few FBI agents - were biased against Trump!!  Hence the long scroll of subsequent investigations, FISA warrants, revelations, indictments, convictions and lies should be tossed. 

It's a bastard version of the “fruit of a tainted tree” doctrine that prevents cops from ignoring our fourth and fifth amendment rights. Evidence derived from a blatantly illegal search is “tainted fruit.” We’ve all seen this in cop shows, though legal folks are starting to realize there are now better ways to curb bad police behavior than letting felons go free on a technicality.

First irony: Republicans have long howled against the tainted fruit doctrine! 

Second: there is no doctrine against police evaluating biased tips that come through no outright illegality of their own. Nor are cops forbidden to have opinions, or to open investigations based on hunches. (They are forbidden from lazy-ass prejudice and profiling.) 

Note this well: it is juries and judges and courts who need to eliminate all bias. In our adversarial justice system, prosecutors and law officers are allowed to say: “I think this jerk is guilty and I will follow where the evidence leads.”

Third: The harpy screech of Hannity, Pirro and ilk is "stop looking!" Stop Mueller, stop SDNY and New York. Stop Congressional hearings! Despite their own Clinton-Obama investigations costing
 half a billion dollars of our money, that across 25 years total found less criminality than we're finding in the GOP daily

Stop looking? What do innocent people say, vs criminals, when investigation looms? The Clintons, despite their tediously dramatic eye-rolling - never cried "stop looking." 

I could go on with this thread for pages. But suffice it to say, you need to have an answer, when your confederate uncle trots out this Putin-Fox talking point about FISA warrants and Steele Dossiers and biased FBI agents. It's all Kremlin basement stuff and they should be ashamed.  

9. The likely reason why so many are betraying their country and our future. Okay, it’s my job to point at aspects that you’ll see nowhere else. Is it because I think outside the box? Because I am mad? 

Either way, to me the most striking-bizarre aspect of this whole frenzied “Mueller Month” has been the behavior of Attorney General William Barr.

Oh, Barr was a partisan attack dog going back many decades, and a hypocrite, applying opposite standards to Democrats vs. Republicans. Still, he always seemed to stand on just this side of law, honor and prudence. But that’s not what we’ve been seeing lately. Indeed, stop and think. There’s no way that Donald Trump -- after his experience with Sessions, Rosenstein, McGanh etc. -- would appoint anyone without a very taut leash. 

Now admit it… what we just saw from William Barr is a fellow who is very well at-heel.

This is not the only case of someone displaying bizarre obedience to those who are stage managing our national calamity. Am I the only one to smell something funny in the abrupt resignation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy? 

I've hollered for twenty years about what I deem to be the greatest weapon used by our enemies against us, a beloved tool of the KGB all the way back to the czarist Okrahna.

And all it would take is one true hero – just one - to bring it crashing down.  If you haven’t read this, you need to.

MUELLER CONCLUSIONS (for now): I am in no position to dissect the Report in detail. There are skilled men and women out there doing their jobs. Moreover, the newly liberated and assertively constitutionalist House of Representatives is back at work on our behalf. (Oh, the advantages of a parliamentary system!) 

But what’s already clear is that the answer must eventually be political.

== Trump’s best defense: polarization and civil war ==

What hope have we for resolution, if the Law is so prim that herds of Trump’s hapless aides get nailed, but never him? When his own microcephalic obduracy and rage is his best defense?

And our own stupid  inability to use the weapons he gives us? Take the fact that he’s been “betrayed” by more appointees than all other presidents combined! It shows at-minimum that he’s a terrible judge of character – no Foxism can evade that polemical knife.

Alas, Robert Mueller, consummate professional has appropriately punted this to us. As posited above, the way to punish all this is politically.

But as investment guru Russ Daggatt recently put it: the biggest development over the past two years was Trump’s success in rallying his party behind him and making the investigation, led by a lifelong Republican who was probably the most highly respected law enforcement official in the country, yet another matter of partisan polarization.

“Trump spent two years attacking Mueller and his team, seeking to discredit the investigation, calling it a “Witch Hunt” over 170 times. Just today, he called the investigation an “Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened”  (see point #8), with the “Crazy Mueller Report ... written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters” containing “total bullshit”.  Sadly, it worked. By the time the (redacted) Report was made public yesterday, Republicans were fully invested in defending him from anything it might contain. Leading that defense is Attorney General Barr.” (See point #9.)

Daggatt refers back to March 22, 2017, when Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“Mueller’s (redacted) Report quotes Trump saying at that time, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”  (Needless to say, not the reaction of an innocent person.)… Trump had repeatedly insisted there had been no contacts between Russia and his campaign. He had told the American people he had no business dealings in Russia. Trump even refused to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the election to benefit his campaign (“It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, ok?”). That was the starting point of Mueller’s investigation, which initially had strong bipartisan support.”

He continues: “Two years later, there is no doubt whatsoever of the role Russia played in the campaign. As Mueller states, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And there has been documented over 140 contacts between Trump and at least 18 of his associates with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition. Their scope is staggering.” 

Daggatt asserts that across the last two years, while the Republican voter base has shrunk, what remains has rallied every-more volcanically behind Trump, till almost no Republican will dare say a word amid a giant Nuremberg rally of outthrust salutes. (My metaphor, not Russ’s.)

== Stark jibbering… ==
Red-Fox America’s reflexive excuse-making for this tsunami of treason – along with all-out war against every fact-using profession -- can only end at the ballot box, and that repudiation must be overwhelming, or Putin and Murdoch will then turn to their last resort: spurring a more violent phase of civil war.

Each of us knows RASRs – Residually Adult-Sane Republicans – who are writhing unhappily, wallowing in “whatabout” rationalizations and “I know my side’s gone nuts, but democrats are just as bad” incantations. If just half a million of these at-core-decent neighbors get cornered, forced to face the full monstrosity of it all, and peeled away from the Putin-Fox coalition, then a Big Tent can welcome them. A tent of national and world salvation that’s broad enough to offer safety and a voice to Eisenhower… and yes, even Reagan… conservatives. If only they will help.

But first they must be hammered. Grabbed by the lapel. Read-to aloud. As with this article: “Here's the 1 thing the Mueller report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt.” Its most telling excerpt is about
 White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who, in May 2017, said this in the wake of the firing of FBI Director Comey:

"The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey. The DOJ [Department of Justice] lost confidence in Director Comey. Bipartisan members of Congress made it clear that they had lost confidence in Director Comey. And most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director."

Pressed by reporters on that that last comment -- about the "rank and file" losing confidence in Comey -- suggesting that the rank and file were supportive of Comey, Sanders responded this way: "We've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things."

Ah, but here's what Mueller wrote about the episode: "Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from 'countless members of the FBI' was a 'slip of the tongue.' She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made 'in the heat of the moment' that was not founded on anything."

When your RASR shrugs over things like this, counter with WODI: “What If Obama Did It?”

(Someone out there! Take a dozen damning Mueller Report passages and change the names from Trump etc. to Obama/Clinton, with appropriate-minima tweaks. Offer it to us: Benghazi! We can show to our RASRs so they’ll be enraged at that a democratic president did such things! Then spring the trap: “Oops, that wasn’t Obama, after all. Why weren’t you enraged that a GOP president actually did this?”  All right, that’s too-clever, by half. So then stick with facts… and wagers (they always run.)

You need to be part of this.  Yes, you.

If “all Heaven rejoices over a repentant sinner,” then all of America, civilization and all future generations depend on the RASRs we peel off. Them… plus the non-voters, who are actually worse in their smug, dullard-cynicism.




If Rage and Stupidity are now the dfense points held by the US AG, then why aren't we talking again about the 15th Amendment. The House + a critical mass of GOP senators need to slip into a bill some kind of "commission of national sages" for some advisory matter... then add "The Vice President may appeal to this council as an "other body" established by Congress for purposes of the 25th Amendment."