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It’s good to be the king

Emmet Flood wrote a letter tut tutting Mueller’s suggestion that Congress take up the matter of Trump’s obstruction of justice charges. Here’s the money quote:

“Because they do not belong to our criminal justice vocabulary, the [special counsel’s office’s] inverted-proof-standard and ‘exoneration’ statements can be understood only as politicalstatements, issuing from persons (federal prosecutors) who in our system of government are rightly expected neverto be political in the performance of their duties,” Flood wrote to Barr. “The inverted burden of proof knowingly embedded in the SCO’s conclusion shows that the special counsel and his staff failed in their duty to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors.” 

Ok. There you have it, people. Mueller didn’t indict the president (but probably wishes he had at this point) because the OLC ruling is that it is improper to indict a sitting president, presumably because he has less of a presumption of innocence than a private citizen. Pretty sketchy but that’s the foundation of Mueller’s decision.

But according to Flood, any alternative to indictment is political. And as PROSECUTORS, they can only indict or not indict, which goes counter to the OLC ruling.

Too cute by half.

If no man is above the law, then one of the two statements above can not be true. I’m going with Flood’s assertion. A remedy is baked into the constitution and as far as I know, the writers didn’t say anything about it being political.

So, you know, nice try Emmet.

Besides, Mueller is a Republican.

Has anyone scheduled an appt with Mueller yet? There’s a cancellation. Maybe we can move him up.

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Bill Barrbarino

“Whuh?”

Congrats to anyone who got that reference.

I hope we can all keep a sense of humor in the days to come because when the former head of the FBI sends a scathing letter to the US AG accusing him of misleading the public it’s really not funny.

Plus, if Trump lays a hand on Hillary Clinton over some mythical email cache that never existed, there will be a bigger backlash than the the one that toppled Victor Yanukovych in Ukraine. There will be no replay of the Yulia Tymoshenko trials and prosecution no matter what Lindsay Graham wants. Don’t tempt us, Lindsay.

It just occurred to me that the reason why Nancy doesn’t want an impeachment is because what is going to come out is going to make the USA look like some second world developing country with a succession of corrupt dictators, instability and a shaky economic foundation. Too much of the world relies on a stable dollar. It could be the beginning of a catastrophe.

********************************

Bill Barr says he’s not coming to the House Judiciary hearing because he objects to being questioned by an experienced trial lawyer that Nadler has hired for the occasion. Just a reminder that it’s not a rarity for committees to hire outside counsel to do their questioning. It cuts down on the grandstanding and from what I’ve heard, it was done during the Watergate hearings.

In fact, it was done to Christine Blasey Ford last fall. That was notable in that the Senate chose to put the victim on trial, not the defendant. It was sort of an inversion if the more legitimate process but that’s the Republican Senate for you. They have power and they intend to abuse it.

Back to Barr.

Since Barr isn’t going to show up, why not see if Mueller can come? Oh, sure, he’s not scheduled until May 15. But I think it could be a real Perry Mason moment. Yeah, have Mueller clear up ambiguities and explain why the OLC ruling prevented him from charging Trump but how it didn’t stop him from accusing Trump of corruption that should be followed up by Congressional investigations and impeachment. (Mueller really wrote that. Incredible but true.)

So, get Mueller on the hot seat today. The surprise switch in witnesses will be riveting.

THEN dare Trump and Barr to fire the only honest Republican in Washington. Trump is counting on delays and stonewalling to prevent the sanitizing effect of sunshine from illuminating what this whole investigation has been about. I see no reason why the House has to cooperate with that when it the integrity of our elections and justice system are on the line.

Just do it.

**********************************

Mueller Q&A:

  1. Please explain what the OLC ruling is and how that affected your decision to not indict Donald Trump.
  2. Is Donald Trump Jr. indictable?
  3. Were you in the process of inducting Don Jr. when Barr asked you to deliver your report?
  4. If we could see what’s under the black redaction bars, would we feel alarmed about the safety and integrity of our elections next year?
  5. Is our national security threatened by Donald Trump’s actions?

Add your own questions in the comments.

**********************************

I’ve gained some weight over the past 12 weeks. Most of it is water. My face is rounder. Looks like I just drank a 6 pack. I hate that especially because I haven’t had a drink since the first week of January. It’s mainly due to the steroids. But I have my last round 1 chemo infusion tomorrow. It seems to have done most of the job. Yay. I’ll have a two week break then another round of something else. So two weeks of some serious Austin Powers’ Elimination Complete pees.

The good news is I can still fit into the wide leg tan chinos I bought back in 1995. Apparently, they are back in style. Good thing I saved them. Saves money and all that.

Desperately need a vacation. (Like you have no idea) Taking suggestions for a weekender.

May Day Memories

Me, Beth and friends at Nanakuli Beach

I lived in Hawaii as a child. I flew there on a cold day in January. Well, cold in San Francisco anyway where our flight departed. My mom had dressed us up for the flight. Those were the days. I wore a wool jumper over my turtleneck and pink wool knee socks. She shouldn’t have bothered. It was a no fuss military flight where the “flight attendants” tossed our hoagies to us over the heads of other passengers.

When we got off the plane, it was warm and the air smelled like a greenhouse. A little string of faux pearls I had worn broke as I descended the stairs and spilled all over the tarmac. It was 2 am and I was too warm.

The next morning, my sister Beth and I woke to the sounds of kids playing in a pool. The sun was shining, the plants were weird and wool clothing was all we had. My mom must have wanted us to imitate the missionaries.

Beth and I stared out the window in despair. Our summer clothes were in transit. And it was hot. And the pool was so blue and cool.

One of the parents decided that something must be done so we walked to the local Wigwam Store in Waipahu to buy short muu muus that would become our temporary wardrobe. A green one for me, brown for Beth. There were also bathing suits, because, to be honest, after school, that’s all we were planning to wear.

We went to school where our teachers were mostly Japanese and we were expected to clean our own classrooms and serve lunch. No one complained. And a couple days a week, we had hula lessons. That was in preparation for May Day.

Beth and I knew nothing about May Day in Hawaii. It turns out to be a big deal with a queen and her court representing each of the islands. They sat on a platform covered with ti leaves and flowers while each class performed a hula in muu muus or carefully folded and tucked pieces of colorful cloth. My class’s girl dance was Down on the Beach at Waikiki. I think Beth’s was I Want to Go Back to my Little Grass Shack. The year after that, our dances got more authentic and were sung in Hawaiian. I played an ipu and danced on my knees.

Anyway, in my memory, it’s always a sunny day on May Day with a light breeze and the scent of plumeria, gardenia and awapuhi. All the keikis sing:

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
Garlands of flowers everywhere
All of the colors in the rainbow
Maidens with blossoms in their hair

Flowers that mean we should be happy
Throwing aside a load of care
Oh, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
May Day is happy days out here

Happy May Day Everyone!

An election year PSA

We start elections 24 months in advance in this country but I’d like to reiterate some things I’ve said before about the way these cycles have gone since the advent of social media. Specifically, I’m going to talk about how to protect yourself from undue influence.

Before we start, I highly recommend reviewing Stephen Hassan’s BITE model. This is how high control groups operate. A high control group exerts undue influence by controlling a target’s Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotions. Any group can use elements of these along a spectrum of influence. Just because it doesn’t look like a cult doesn’t mean you’re free from influence.

Additionally, here are some things I learned from DailyKos in 2007-2008 when the Obama campaign took over and flipped the site.

  1. Beware of sites where the comments are liked or scored. If your comments are liked or scored, that element can be used to influence your behavior. Why does this work? It works because people like to be liked. It’s positive reinforcement. So if your site has been infiltrated by people who want to turn sentiment a certain way, a good way to do it is to reward commenters who write things that are close to that sentiment. Unliking is also feedback. No one likes to be unliked. Gradually, a commenter can be nudged to parrot the party line or the candidate’s line. Similarly, if you get enough mojo to become a super user, you become an enforcer with status. If you buck the party line, loss of mojo means loss of status. In general, just stay away from rated comment sites.
  2. Beware of conversion stories. There’s nothing so heart warming as a voter who has seen the light after resisting for so long. They have an emotional “road to Damascus” moment and suddenly Bernie Sanders is the most reasonable, effective and hot 77 year old they’ve ever seen. Conversion stories are incredibly effective because they appeal to our emotions and bypass the rational parts of our brains.
  3. Beware of love bombing. Love bombing is similar to a rated comment system. The unsuspecting is showered with praise. All of the sudden, you are the sexiest, most intelligent person alive and you are part of the family. You might indeed be all of those things. You might also be susceptible to the attention and sense of belonging. Test your environment: disagree about something. If your new family still loves you, great! If you find that the love is conditioned on you not questioning, then you might be dealing with a high control group.
  4. Beware of swarming. I don’t think the media has adequately acknowledged or has planned to deal with swarming. I first noticed swarming on DailyKos among John Edwards’ supporters. How it works: an operative writes a diary. As soon as the diary is posted, it’s recommended by dozens, sometimes hundreds of people. It happens very quickly. Usually, the same recommenders are listed. The result is that the diary rockets to the top of the recommended diaries list. Lather, rinse, repeat. The reader gets the impression that there’s a huge wave of support behind a certain candidate. In 2007, after Edwards was found to be tainted, the phenomenon was repeated by the Obama fans. Obama diaries took over the recommended list in the exact same way. I’ve seen this repeated in online newspaper comment sections. As soon as an article was posted in 2016, hundreds of anti-Hillary commenters would flock to the comments and a particular talking point would be repeated and recommended until it looked like the entire Democratic voter coalition thought she was a corrupt, untrustworthy, unlikeable, calculating, inauthentic hack. I call it swarming because it’s like a hive of bees with the same motivation highjacking a public comment system. It’s very easy to see once you look for it. For all I know there are people at the NYTimes who shaped those swarms. It sure seemed that way. But I have no way to prove they were in on it. I only know that the technique exists.

More thoughts:

Any time you are on a site, like this one, remember that you are part of a unpaid focus group. We used to get a lot of operatives here in the 2008 campaign season. It was through a lot of vigilance by myself, Katiebird and a few others that we managed to keep this site free for the most part from provocative memes and psychological warfare. I used to think I was just being paranoid about these things but ever 2016’s Russian campaign, I’ve learned that I wasn’t paranoid enough.

There are reasons why your comment may end up in the moderation queue. It’s a holdover from 2008 when we had to carefully test certain words to make sure we weren’t being swarmed or converted. I think for the most part that it worked even if it is a bit annoying to those of you whose comments need to be vetted before they are approved.

I’ve always said that this site is where you can be free to be unpopular and to not get rolled by the great mass of Democrats who want an instant consensus for good or ill. In fact, we try to resist consensus reality. Reality is reality. It’s not what the popular group says it is. You should test your reality periodically. That’s why you might see a pain in the ass Republican here occasionally. Get to know what they are thinking. I hate to say “know your enemy” because not all Republicans are enemies but you can be sure that all Trumpers are. They were influenced at some point. We can learn from them, how they were compromised and how to defend ourselves. So, gird your loins and sharpen your snark. They cannot hurt you. They’re just little black pixels on a screen.

Right now, the bigger threat is coming from what appears to be our own side. There seems to be a concerted effort to get many Democrats to make a hard commitment to support one candidate. Yesterday, the pressure was intense to jump on the Biden bandwagon. I recognized the guilt tripping and conversion stories. Here’s the problem with that. We haven’t had even one single primary yet. No one has cast an official vote and we are already being stampeded into voting for a man who has run for president THREE times and has failed to secure the nomination all three times. He’s targeting a very narrow base, ignoring almost every other member of the vast Democratic coalition, especially women. That last bit of info should set off alarm bells. If there is going to be a brokered convention, you can bet that California is going to have a huge influence and that’s Kamala Harris territory. Does anyone here think Harris is going to take second place to Joe Biden? Didn’t think so. But you can see where this would get very dicey, very quickly.

So that’s one possible scenario. But there are many others that we can’t know until they actually happen.

What I don’t want to see happen is for Democrats to take a pledge today to support one particular candidate and then be held to that pledge on pain of social ostracism. That’s what I see happening here. If you’re going to take a pledge, pledge to vote for whoever the nominee is. Don’t pledge a particular candidate until he/she has shown they can compete.

One last thing, stay off of Facebook. Most of you know I have never been a Facebook fan and I’m less so now. To paraphrase JK Rowling, never trust anything where you can’t see it’s brain. We frequently don’t know where our friends and relatives are getting the news they are sending us. In 2016, I sat next to a woman at my nephew’s wedding. She told me that Hillary Clinton and her droogs we’re responsible for the deaths of dozens of political opponents. Imagine a sort of Westchester Ton Ton Macoute. The scary thing was this woman wasn’t kidding. She really believed it. Read it on Facebook.

That’s how we lost central PA. Lots of very vulnerable people who didn’t keep their guard up.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Always let your conscience be your guide. Your values may evolve over time but if you find yourself straying too far from your core beliefs, pull back and test your reality.

Impeachment part deux

Democrats,

Don’t waste your time or breath going on TV to talk about how you want to focus on the issues going into 2020. That would be all great and hunky dory but it’s not going to happen. The Trump administration is going to continue to do more and more outrageous things, poking at you and provoking you.

It’s not in Trump or Mitch McConnell’s interest to have you talking about healthcare or climate change. You know what else you’re not going to get from the Senate besides a conviction on impeachment?

Any cooperation on any vote whatsoever that you find good, desirable or necessary.

That’s the truth.

In fact, die hard Trumpers might even be excited about blocking you on absolutely everything. You’re also not going to lose even one die hard if you impeach the president. These people are locked in. You can safely write the vast majority off.

One exception is that there does seem to be a slight peeling away of support for Trump in the last week. Yep, there’s a softening of support because like I said last week, innocence does mean something and he sure as heck isn’t innocent, isn’t acting innocent and it’s hard to defend him.

To sum it up, you’re going to get the goblet with the iocaine powder in it no matter what you do.

So, go ahead and impeach. It’s what Republicans are daring you to do anyway. They want to bait you into what looks like a year long, fruitless process to bring Trump down. Why should you do this? Couple of reasons.

Nothing else is going to get done and no one is above the law.

Some people have no restraint when there’s no restraint. Just be upfront and honest about it.

“We’d like to be telling you about policy but we’ll let our presidential candidates do that. In the meantime, we’ll be impeaching Trump so that we can focus on election integrity and the fact that no one is above the law. We might not get anywhere but there’s really no other choice. We won’t get anywhere with policy anyway until 2020. We got to this deadlock by the skullduggery perpetrated on voters in 2016. We need to unpack that.”

Then stop worrying about what swing voters may think and start the hearings.

He looks less and less innocent as time goes on.

To impeach or not to impeach, that is the question

If this was a fair world, the answer would be crystal clear. We have never had a president who is more corrupt or willing to violate the constitution. If any other president had done 1/20th of what Trump has done, he would have been impeached after yesterday’s report.

And yet, the House of Representatives still hesitates. It hesitates because it knows that the Senate will never, never, never vote to convict. (Never say never).

That makes the whole impeachment procedure look like Team D vs Team R. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out why Team R, who is constantly wrapping itself in the flag, singing God Bless the USA and is addicted to security porn is so intent on protecting the least patriotic, most cowardly, ungodly, criminal sadist in the Oval Office. But that’s where we are. The perception is that we have two teams, ready to go to the mat over Trump.

You can almost imagine Vladimir Putin taking off his shirt and rubbing, well, whatever it is Russian mafia state leaders rub when they’re excited. What could be better than sowing even more division, enmity and chaos in your adversary’s country? It makes him tingle in places … ok, let’s not go there. You get the point.

It’s just one part of his plan to amp up the entropy. After all, his intelligence units are already making Bernie Sanders an inevitability. He probably likes Mayor Pete too. What better way to divide Democrats than to pit the white guys against all those women whose fury and drive managed to take back the House last year? Eggsellent, eggsellent.

Why impeach anyway? Do Democrats really need this? Do you think my congressman, Conor Lamb, wants to impeach Trump? He thinks he got in office based on the strength of his contingent of older, white guys. He seems to have completely forgotten about the slice of Mike Doyle’s District he got last year through redistricting that made the old white guy vote almost irrelevant. And anyway, are we saying that old white veterans have no concern for the honor and dignity of the country?

So that’s what Nancy’s dealing with. She’s got to make sure her contingent keeps the House next year.

I think there may be a little too much gazing into the crystal ball at this point.

One thing is for sure though. Trump has a history of getting away with things in the past and then doubling down on his worst instincts when he thinks he can get away with even more. You can look it up from the time he was fined by the feds for not renting to African Americans 40 years ago. He’ll do whatever he thinks he can get away with. That’s not forecasting. That’s just his nature.

And what does he want? Who knows but he’s got all his “acting” cabinet officials and Supreme Court justices all lined up. If he is a ruthlessly vengeful man who’s enraged by the damage to his image, I can easily imagine him deciding that if he’s going to go, he’ll take the whole place with him. You know, ship some DACA recipients to the desert in summer via cattle car, take all their stuff, dare anybody to make him stop as the death toll from heat exhaustion starts to climb. Maybe his Supreme Court will finally overturn Roe v Wade. That will cause anger, protests, and chaos. Maybe he’ll do something stupid on the financial front like refuse to pay our debts and watch our global credit rating plummet. Or allow Russia to have a free hand with the election next year, physically prevent African americans from voting, change the voting machines like they do in Minsk or East Bumfuck, Russia. Sure it’s unconstitutional but who’s going to stop him? Attorney General Bill Barr? Lololololol!!!!

He should be encouraged to resign. That would be the best scenario. The rest of us just want to get on with our lives and solve the healthcare issue, fix the consumer financial services problems, tackle global warming, make life more affordable and just and fair for regular people.

If we could strike a deal with Trump, pay him off to the tune of $10 billion and promise not to prosecute him when he leaves the White House, we would be saving ourselves money in the end. He could give some dorky speech where he makes it sound like a great sacrifice on his part and the networks would roll their eyes and read the prepared script that says what a hero of the working class he is who gave up his throne after the biggest inauguration crowd EVER blah blah blah. Then he could jump on his plane to a remote island and we’d all get back to business.

That’s the best scenario.

If I were Nancy, that’s what I’d be rolling around in my mouth with that Lifesaver as I contemplate my next move. Just pay him off for God’s sakes.

Or get rid of all of Trump’s droogs one by one until there is no one left to protect him.

Start with Bill Barr.

Also…

That’s why she was hated. Relentless negative coverage works.

It worked in Ukraine with Yulia Tymoshenko too. She was the Russian test case. Falsely accused of multiple crimes, lots of negative propaganda. Eventually, she was thrown in jail to get her out of the way. She was eventually released and exonerated.

Lock her up indeed.