Monday Reads: This is Crazy! This is Crazy!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I give you exhibit one (see the twitter below) demonstrating that White Nationalist Christianity is a threat to this country.  There is absolutely nothing normal, usual, or whatever about this suggestion or response given by the Russian Potted Plant occupying the White House.  Jerry Falwell Jr. is a monster.  Read on.

How do we explain all this?  White Nationalist Christians want to revive the same brutality they inflicted on Black Americans and Indigenous Americans and Trump is their vehicle. They want him in office for as long as possible and the Wisdom Beings know he wants to be there until death sweeps him into the darkness.

This is from Gideon Rachman writing for the Financial Times:  Donald Trump is updating America’s historic ruthlessness. Promising US voters ‘greatness’ has led the president to celebrate a brutal past”

 

Donald Trump says so many strange and outrageous things that it is impossible to remember them all. But one Trumpian remark that has stuck with me is the US president’s repeated insistence that, after conquering Iraq, “we should have kept the oil”. To the ears of the Washington establishment, this was yet another Trump gaffe. Even Dick Cheney, the former vice-president and most hawkish of hawks, had never portrayed Iraq as a war of conquest. But Mr Trump’s deliberately provocative remark was an insight into both his philosophy and his appeal to voters. When many Americans feel frightened that both US power and their own living standards are in decline, Mr Trump is making an appeal to American ruthlessness. The US president says to voters that the country cannot afford to be “politically correct” any more. The way to Make America Great Again, in the words of his slogan, is to rediscover the ruthless instincts that made America great in the first place. In a nod to past American ruthlessness, Mr Trump has hung the portrait of Andrew Jackson, US president from 1829-1837, on the wall of the Oval Office. Jackson was once seen as one of the great builders of the American nation and his statue stands in Lafayette Square, opposite the White House. But a more recent generation of historians has accused Jackson of complicity in genocide for ordering the forced removal of Native Americans from their land — a policy that led to the “trail of tears” in which thousands died. By honouring Jackson, whom he praised as a “very tough person”, Mr Trump is honouring the brutal policies that allowed the US to conquer the west.

This is completely insane and ignores the rule of law and our constitutionally defined government institutions. I think Nancy Pelosi is right …. if he’s thrown out of office he will not leave either by ballot or impeachment. From WAPO this morning: “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime”.

President Trump on Sunday seemed to warm to the idea of reparations — for himself, and in the form of an unconstitutional, two-year addition to his first term in the White House.

He retweeted a proposal offered by Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, that he be granted another two years in office as recompense for time lost to the Russia investigation. Half of his first term, Trump wrote in a Twitter dispatch of his own, had been “stolen.”

The argument was perhaps tongue-in-cheek, leading some legal experts to dismiss the comments as bravado. Others, however, saw the president’s apparent longing to overstay his four-year term in office as an assault on the rule of law. That it was raised playfully, they said, was small comfort, especially given Trump’s playful refusal, in the fall of 2016, to say that he would accept the outcome of an election that polling suggested he was destined to lose.

“I will keep you in suspense,” he said at the time.

None of this is normal. All of this is crazy.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said they will vote Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress after Barr missed a deadline to produce a complete version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

The panel had set a deadline of 9 a.m. Monday for Barr to provide the unredacted version of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. It announced the planned vote in a statement Monday.

“Although the Committee has attempted to engage in accommodations with Attorney General Barr for several months, it can no longer afford to delay, and must resort to contempt proceedings,” reads the text of a contempt report released by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “The Committee urgently requires access to the full, unredacted Mueller Report and to the investigatory and evidentiary materials cited in the Report.”

The only good news is that Mueller has firmed up his commitment to address a hearing.  In response, we have a Trumpf Twitter Meltdown:. This is via TBogg at Raw Story.

Reacting to news that special counsel Robert Mueller has made “tentative” plans to appear before a House Committee, President Donald Trump went on a furious Twitter rampage demanding Mueller not show up.

On Twitter, Trump ranted, “After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats & 49 FBI Agents – all culminating in a more than 400 page Report showing NO COLLUSION – why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller” before adding, …”to testify. Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!”

And to that we remind Trumpf and all his minions of a simple definition that bit Nixon in the ass too. Barr can read up on Nixon’s jailed and disgraced AG John Mitchell.

I doubt any one as old as me will forget the day they actually arrested a US AG.

I was dreaming of my first year in college and just trying to wait out high school during this.  Now, we’re living the nightmare again.

On March 2, 1974, a federal grand jury indicted Mitchell on six counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, false statements to the F.B.I., false statements to the grand jury and perjury. The charges stem from testimony in which he denied having any knowledge of Nixon’s efforts to spy on his Democratic political rivals.

Eleven months later, Mitchell was convicted on five counts and received sentences “from 20 months to five years on the conspiracy and obstruction counts, to run concurrently; to be followed by three concurrent terms of 10 months to three years for the three counts of lying under oath, for a total of 30 months as a minimum, after which Mr. Mitchell would be eligible for parole, and eight years as a maximum,” the New York Times reported at the time.

Mitchell was also slapped with a $10,000 fine.

Barr may face a similar fate. Democrats in Congress have begun demanding that Barr resign or face impeachment after a letter from Mueller to Barr was released on Tuesday.

In it, Mueller “expressed a frustration over the lack of context” in Barr’s summary of Russian election interference, contacts between Russians and members of Trump’s campaign, and Trump’s efforts to sabotage the investigation.

Barr’s four-page memo to Congress was fuzzy, Mueller wrote, because it downplayed the significance of the evidence Mueller collected, specifically on whether Trump obstructed justice.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller said.

Barr took it upon himself to clear Trump of any wrongdoing, however, Mueller was clear in his report that Trump is not innocent and that he can and should face impeachment and/or criminal charges upon leaving office.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Instead, Barr made a surprising excuse for Trump. The president, he said, was upset about the investigation, and his alleged attempts to thwart the probe should be viewed as emotional and without criminal intent.

“There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,” he said.

But the fact that Mueller had informed Barr of his misgivings about how the report was presented to the public conflicts with testimony Barr gave to the Senate last month.

During a hearing on April 10, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked Barr if Mueller “supported his conclusion” about Trump’s criminal culpability.

“I don’t know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion,” Barr replied.

Mueller’s letter is proof that Barr was not being truthful, and Beschloss’s hat tip to the past has struck a nerve.

I’m going back to the beginning of the year and an article from The New Yorker that might put some perspective on this creature who is determined to out-Nixon Nixon.  This is from Sarah Larson: “Slow Burn”: What Can Watergate Teach Us?  You should read it.  I may have to strart listening to podcasts more and “Slow Burn” seems like a good place to start.

“I’m going to start with a story that you’ve probably never heard,” Neyfakh says at the beginning of the first episode. It’s the story of “the mouth of the South,” Martha Mitchell, whose husband, John Mitchell, is a former U.S. Attorney General and, at the time of the Watergate break-in, in charge of the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Martha Mitchell, Neyfakh says, enjoyed snooping on her husband and talking to the press, and was “treated by Nixon’s men as someone who knew too much.” First, Neyfakh says, “she was kept against her will in a California hotel for days. Then she was forcibly tranquilized while being held down in her bed. Later, when she went public, Nixon loyalists tried to discredit her in the press as an unreliable alcoholic.” She was called crazy; she seemed crazy. “But it turned out that she was onto something.”

Imagine John Mitchell’s conundrum, Neyfakh says: “You’re the President’s closest confidant, and you’re in charge of all kinds of political skullduggery. Meanwhile, your wife is famous for listening in on your meetings, getting hammered on whiskey, and blabbing to reporters.“ When John Mitchell heard of the break-in arrests, he and Martha were in California. He didn’t want Martha to learn the identity of one of the burglars, because she knew him: James W. McCord, a former C.I.A. officer who had worked in security for the Mitchells. “So when he left for D.C., Mitchell put a former F.B.I. agent named Steve King in charge of Martha, and he told him to keep her away from newspapers, TV, news, any coverage of the burglary,” Neyfakh says. She was “literally held a prisoner within four walls,” we hear Martha telling David Frost, in her languid Southern accent. She managed to get a copy of the L.A. Timesand call her friend Helen Thomas, the longtime White House correspondent; midway through the call, Thomas says, she heard Mitchell say “Get away! Get away!” We hear Mitchell say that King “rushes in and jerked out the telephone”—tore the cord out of the wall. Later, Neyfakh says, Martha and King got in a scuffle and she put her hand through a plate-glass door. King, now the Ambassador to the Czech Republic, appointed by Donald Trump, did not respond to Neyfakh’s request for comments.

Everybody knew about Martha Mitchell at the time, but if you weren’t of news-consuming age in the early seventies, it’s fascinating to meet her now. Remembering such figures and anecdotes, Neyfakh says on the show, helps us get a feel for the moment to moment, life in the time as it was lived. Martha Mitchell reminds him of Anthony Scaramucci: they are florid, larger-than-life characters who reveal much about the political moment and then are quickly forgotten. Watergate, he says, has “dozens of Scaramucci-level stories.” He goes on, “I think that’s why hearing Martha Mitchell’s story gives me such a vivid sense of what it was like to live through Watergate. It lets me inhabit that moment when no one knew what was going to happen, when the people involved didn’t know, the reporters covering it didn’t know. Nixon himself certainly had no idea.” Most of us listening are hoping that our unknowns will be resolved as definitively as Watergate’s did.

These days, “We’re living through this crazy time when we wake up in the morning dreading the alerts on our phones, and we have no idea how this is going to end,” Neyfakh told me. “And the last time we can remember it happening on this scale was during Watergate. Did it feel the way we feel now?” In some ways, yes; in others, no. A significant difference, I pointed out, was that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the Russia scandal, while gravely serious, are also seen as a possible savior from the greater disaster of Trump himself, whereas Nixon, while loathed by seventies liberals, was a more run-of-the-mill politician, feared by few. The stakes are higher now. Considering that idea, Neyfakh stuck up for the craziness of Nixon. “I have the impression that people didn’t quite realize the depth of Richard Nixon’s paranoia, emotional instability, anger, and taste for vengeance until after the tapes came out publicly,” he said. In public, “he was very practiced, and he presented as a President in a way that Trump has no interest in doing.” People were more unnerved about Nixon when they learned what he was really like—a problem we really don’t have. He mentioned a moment that I had found chilling in the episode, in which Feldbaum describes watching Nixon’s post-Saturday Night Massacre speech on TV and thinking, This guy is not well. At that moment, he feared where Presidential emotional instability would lead: What might an unstable Commander-in-Chief do? We’ve all wondered that, too. But Trump, in his hubris, often goofs up, and so did Nixon. Nixon’s particular portfolio of eccentricities, of course, included recording himself, not managing to avoid surrendering the tapes to the authorities, and incriminating himself. Neyfakh and I laughed about this, in amazement.

“It’s truly, in the language of the modern Internet, a great self-own,” Neyfakh said.

All of this is rolling on in front of us in one media platform after another.  If Nixon’s tremendous hubris and personality disorders brought him down, I cannot help but believe the same will be done for Trump. It’s just watching this all reach new levels of craziness and lawlessness is not easy.  It’s good to remember that we have been through some of these feelings before.   It’s just that omnipresent media coverage amps up the assaults and insults.

It’s exhausting. Isn’t it?  It is also important to remind ourselves that eventually, Trump never had the support Nixon had at one time. He may fall quicker than we think. However, Nixon loved just enough of the country to leave peacefully when the writing was on the wall.  I worry about this with Trump

Remember Martha?  She was the woman nobody believed.  I don’t believe that Robert Mueller’s appearance before Congress or the folks that worked for him or any other number of Trump whistle blowers that were sent to Martha Land will be silenced by history. That is why Congressional hearings on all of this need to speak louder than the evil likes of Jerry Falwell, Jr. We need to up the volume.  

We have to move public opinion. The only way to do that is with the same kinds of hearings we had with Watergate.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?