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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 60,754

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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.

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.

H2O Man

What do you think?


No Country for Brown Children

“I read the news today, oh boy
about a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
well, I just had to laugh.
I saw the photograph ….”
John Lennon; A Day in the Life; 1967

Actually, I was re-visiting Erich Fromm's 1973 book, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” while listening to the Beatles. That song summed up my feelings about the news that I've seen thus far this week. But before we take a gander at some of the news' low-lights, let's do a brief review.

A number of times over the past 15 years, I've spoken about how I study “systems,” and do so by visualizing them like a mobile over an infant's crib. Add or subtract a piece, and all the others have to shift to stay in balance. That is the nature of healthy systems, be they a family, a school, a work place, or a community.

In an unhealthy system, the dynamics can be different in several ways. Other pieces can become entrenched in their positions, to prevent a smooth addition of another piece. Likewise, they can become entrenched in order to cut off a piece already on the mobile.

But the worst potential for an unhealthy system is of the type described in Fromm's book. Though he does not use the mobile model, I'd like to stick with it. Thus, the central piece on this mobile is what Fromm defined as a malignant narcissist, also known as a sociopath or psychopath. This piece, usually male, has a significant gravitational pull upon the other pieces e is surrounded with.

Before we go further, we should remember that malignant narcissists' actions, both as individuals and as a group, cover a wide spectrum. One may be a glib, thieving businessman, while another may be a murderer. And within this wide range, there are those who will, under extreme pressure, escalate in their potential level of threat. More, while the majority act out as individuals – those who are frequently said to live a “double life,” such as the BTK killer Dennis Rader – there is another type that are found smack-dab in the middle of a system.

The systems sociopath is generally more difficult to place upon psychiatrist Michael Stone's rankings of murderers. They generally do not commit the acts of gross violence themselves – rather, they have others do the dirty work. To accomplish this, they take advantage of situations by convincing those around them that they are “at risk” of being invaded or attacked by an enemy they define as “others.”

To fully appreciate this, we need to go back to the Angelo-Saxon word “yfel,” which translates to “beyond.” Society tends to make a distinction between killing in self-defense, in war, and murder. That line blurs sometimes, such as when we consider a soldier in WW2 and William Calley in My Lai. But what most sane people recognize as going “beyond” includes finding satisfaction in causing prolonged fear and suffering, by torturing and then murdering. These are sadistic features.

Now, let's focus on those pieces of the mobile that tend to surround the central character. In the cases that we are considering, we will look at a malignant narcissist who exercises political-social power. These tend to surround themselves with bureaucrats who fall into two groups: those who would normally never participate in “yfel” activities aimed at “others,” and those who may appear to be stable, but daydream about being others' nightmare.

In the first case, these individuals are often afraid of their leader on some level. When the leader says they are being invaded or attacked, they might know deep down that this is a lie. But they lack the character to take a stand opposing the leader, or to even quit their job. Instead, they bury their conscience, and obey orders. For they are bureaucratic cogs in the wheelhouse of a sick system. They will continue to be obedient until the leader gets a sniff of dissent, at which time he will cut them from the mobile.

In the second instance, we find the Stephen Millers of the world. They view the ability to cause suffering as a power they are entitled to yield against “others.” Their leader merely gives them license to do so. And their conscience never troubles them.

George W. Bush used the public's feelings of being threatened with invasion and attack to justify the invasion of Iraq. He was surrounded with individuals not unlike Stephen Miller – bureaucrats like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a dozen other necroconservatives. But even earlier in his life, in the part-time position of governor of Texas, Bush found pleasure in suffering. Rubin Carter told me that when he met with Governor Bush to discuss the death penalty, Bush was “giddy” about his ability to send people o their deaths. As president, when he was preparing to invade Iraq in a manner distinct from previous wars, DC was filled primarily with bureaucrats afraid to challenge him, or eager to inflict suffering and death on “others.”

Today, of course, we are confronted with Donald Trump. We are witnessing his attempts to convince the public that we are being invaded and attacked by non-white others – all the while denying that we are indeed being attacked from within by white nationalists. We've seen his attempt to deny Islamic people the ability to enter the country. We are seeing his on-going war on immigrants from Central America. We've witnessed his administration's separating children from their parents, and placing them in metal cages. This is, by definition, going far beyond anything that could be mistaken for “normal.”

If we read about an adult who kidnaps a child, and tortures them by keeping them in a metal cage, we know that is “yfel,” the root of today's word “evil.” Average citizens are able to identify this as evil just as easily as theologians, philosophers, doctors, and lawyers. People had respect for John McCain's surviving being held as a POW in a cage, yet Trump consistently has said that McCain was not a hero. Is it any surprise that Trump and his followers are good with putting little children in cages? For that is surely a form of torture that causes great pain and suffering on a long-term basis.

These are the things I think about as I watch the world go round.
H2O Man

Weekend Update

Being old and of often forgetful mind, when the news that some of the federal prosecutors who were on the Mueller Team were voicing distaste for Barr's letter on the Mueller Report, I began reading through my most recent OP and responses. Had I not said that the leaks would begin to spill out over the weekend? Yet, I could ot locate any evidence of my stating this on DU:GD. How could this be?

Had I missed an opportunity to inform the DU community of the good news about to unfold before our very eyes? Or, as others who read my posts may believe, a chance to show off? But I was sure that I had discussed the upcoming reports of leaks with a DU member that I frequently tell my predictions to. Then it hit me: check your e-mails with her. So I did.

Thus, I reviewed a conversation that we had engaged in on the night of Thursday, March 28, and found what I had been looking for. I shall only post one of my comments, which I believe will suffice for documenting the general discussion:

“I don't think Mr. Mueller is surprised by Barr's nonsense. But he isn't happy. He won't leak, but others in the FBI/DOJ will likely tomorrow night or this weekend.” (Her response was, “Can't wait!”)

The initial “leaks” – conversations between former Mueller Team investigators and their current co-workers and associates – had already begun by the time I wrote that, of course. But it wasn't until the following day (Friday, March 29), that they made clear that they expected their co-workers and associates to share their feelings of distaste for Barr's 3.5-page summery with specific journalists. And that process began over the weekend and early in April, resulting in reports starting Wednesday.

Why is this important? Hadn't Barr already poisoned the public's perception of what the report did and did not say? Weren't the Democrats in DC sore losers, demanding the full report go to Congress and be made public? Indeed, had not Barr dictated a nasty response to these reports, noting that each and every page had been marked “confidential,” without exception?

It's good news for many reasons. First, the public understanding of, and reaction to, Barr's summary of the report is not set in stone. It raised more questions than it answered for 70-plus percent of the public. Finding out what it really reports versus Barr's toady letter will highlight the distinctions. Trump and those around him are documented as, to use one of Trump's frequent insults, “losers.” And much worse.

More, it is showing the increasing discomfort that Barr is feeling. For he is caught between two rocks and the decaying Trump operation. Congress has every legal right to the full report. And there will be systematic leaking of information in the report – particularly the summaries that the Mueller Team intended to be made public – as we move forward, if Barr continues to fight the inevitable. You can count on this.

The last thing that I believe is important is that, in situations such as this, the public's perception often involves personalizing a conflict. When he spoke to the Senate, Barr noted that he and Mr. Mueller were old friends, and that their wives were friends as well. Yesterday, we saw a wedge …. Barr knows that although Mr. Mueller might not have given the okay for the leaks, he could sure as hell put a stop to them. But Barr realizes that is not going to happen.

Enjoy the weekend.
H2O Man

The Orange Plague

“...But I respect his frankness. I respect his frankness for the same reasons that a ship's captain has the moral obligations to his passengers to avoid a shipwreck, if he can, and a civilized person has the same moral obligation to not only themselves to be skeptical and to demand the proof of any and all statements that claim to be one of fact! Because in the final analysis all tyranny rests in fraud and deceit, in convincing people to accept false assumptions on face-value, and any people or person who for one moment abandons or suspends that questioning spirit has, at that very moment, actually betrayed all of humanity.”
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; February 20, 1979

If you are a Democrat, this has been a somewhat intense week. First, Attorney General Barr released a 3.5 page letter to congressional leaders, outlining his interpretation of Robert Mueller's report. While in the first couple of days that followed, some viewed the Mueller Report with suspicion. But soon enough, most recognized that this was simply what is known in political-social actions as an inoculation. Older folks here can recall several others from past times when scandal was fast approaching.

Before we look at the outstanding response from Speaker Pelosi and the six democratic party chairmen, it might be worth taking a brief look at the White House response. Before even considering Trump's shrieking that the report “totally exonerated” him, let's think …..hadn't Rudy G yelped on previous interviews that Trump's lawyers had already prepared a 92-page response to a report that hadn't been completed, and which they had not even seen?

By golly, he did! Even today, Rudy was blabbering about releasing his 92-page response to a report he still has not read. Why? This is not the only defense-mode activity we have witnessed from the president, the White House, and Trump's legal team during the second half of the week. We can be sure Rudy's 92 pages were not penned as a reaction to being exonerated. Rather, it was prepared to react to bad news.

When Trump was busy conducting what he believes is his most important activity – watching news coverage – he saw that both MSNBC and CNN were contrasting his claim of exoneration with Mr. Mueller's saying that he had not exonerated Trump. Hence, Trump contacted one of his most trusted advisers, who we will call Stephen Miller. The pair had discussed how to react to bad news from the Mueller Report numerous times. Indeed, Stephen had a secret plan.

We witnessed that plan being activated in real time: the Trump White House and administration would unleash a flurry of distractions to take attention away from what they had been calling the good news of complete exoneration. The White House revealed that the DOJ had decided to totally wipe out “Obama care.” The republican party would become the party of health care. He called for a DOJ investigation of a case in Chicago. End funding for the Special Olympics – until even the base that supports putting brown-skinned children in cages reacted against the cruelty of cutting this funding. Shut down the border with Mexico! Yeah, right. I expect that President Obama's prediction that Trump would focus on determining if the moon landing was real will come true next week.

Now, let's turn to the Democratic Party's response. Some of our Senators have been very good, of course, but it's the House leadership that has most impressed me. They reminded me of the wisdom of my friend Rubin's message in the above quoted letter to me, some 40 years ago. Barr's letter did not come close to convincing them that there was no need to read the actual report, and to then question both Barr and Mr. Mueller. I assume that they will question Rod Rosenstein, as well.

Chairman Adam Schiff's response to the republican spiders and snakes of his committee was classic. It will take its place in political history, and high school and college students will be studying it for many decades to come. Schiff's powerful presentation reminded me of Malcolm X's saying that the louder his opponents screamed, the better he knew he was doing. I can only imagine what the blubber-neck president does every time it gets played on the news.

The Mueller Report stated that they did not find enough evidence of a coordinated conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to result in legal charges. Yet, as Schiff stated, there is plenty of evidence of collusion. Thus, the Democrats want full access to the report to determine how close of a call it was. If, for example, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being reason for indictment, did Mr. Mueller think the evidence rose to six? Eight? Because if it were zero, the republicans would surely want it released.

I've stated numerous times that Barr is from the House of Bush. He was loyal to Bush the Elder. That is not a compliment. He's not our friend, nor on our side. But he may not be fully for Trump. By any definition, Barr is a part of the “deep state.” If nothing else, his apparent reasoning for withholding some of the report from congress is weak, and will not hold up in federal court. As I noted last year, Nancy Pelosi has a track record of winning when she goes to court to gain access to documents a republican president seeks to withhold. And she put together a legal team for exactly this purpose around the time she was again named Speaker of the House.

One last thing. I've read a large number of questions and comments on why Mr. Mueller ended his participation in the investigation he was appointed to conduct. Was it due to Barr's unholy influence? This is a situation where the saying “he who knows 'why?' masters he who knows 'how'.” Though “how” is important – had Barr pressured Mr. Mueller, rejecting proposals to continue the investigation, he would be required to inform Congress – “why” is much more important.

Again, let's turn to Malcolm X. He often said that in conflict, don't aim at the puppet, but focus instead on the puppeteer. Barr's 19-page job application showed he was wiling to serve Trump with strings attached, and Trump alone is pulling the strings in the White House. Bob Woodward's book “Fear” – among others – described an emotionally unstable, often out-of-control president. The New York Times op-ed by “Anonymous” that came out with the book's release reinforced that image.

We know that sometime around the time Mr. Mueller spoke with Don McGhan, and learned that Trump had ordered him to fire Mueller, that Mr. Mueller began systematically handing off cases to other federal prosecutors. This resembles the Obama administration spreading documentation to numerous agencies in late 2016, so that it would not disappear under Trump. The “why” here is self-evident.

We know that people with the mental disorder that Trump has will almost always lash out when extreme pressure is put on them. (One can simply consider Trump's actions this week as an example.) People in the White House and the rest of the administration knew that he was becoming increasingly unhinged as the Mueller investigation continued over the past 90 days. We know that this was closely related to Rod Rosenstein's preparing to retire, then unexpectedly staying on until the report was released.

It is safe to say that Mr. Mueller was fully aware of the essence of Trump's being, and conducted his investigation in the best manner to protect it from Trump. It's also safe to say that both Barr and Rosenstein were aware of Trump's private rantings about the investigation, and made sure that Mr. Mueller was also aware of the increasing likelihood of Trump taking some action (or actions) to deflect and derail the investigation. Trump is aware that his republican support in DC will erode when the report becomes public. Thus. Mr. Mueller set out the information regarding obstruction – pro and con – specifically for Congress. When that happens, it is a mere matter of time before the public finds out what is in it. And that will include information about both coordination with Russia and obstruction.

H2O Man

The Shroud of Trump

try it again
with a double axe.”
-- Thomas Merton; Notes for a Cosmic Meditation.”

I was reading some of Thomas Merton's “Raids on the Unspeakable” (1960). In fact, I brought it to the gym this evening, to keep reading more of it, as I helped train five boxers, ages 8 to 30. There are some periods where I have to concentrate on the training – especially sparring sessions – but shorter spots where I could read a few pages.

Towards the end of training, a women I met at work and remain good friends with stopped to ask what I was reading? I showed her, and said a few words about my impressions of Merton. She'd never heard of him. She's much younger than me, and it got me thinking how many young people are unaware of one of the great influences on my generation. I think it would help people put things in perspective, and help define what is possible – and what role we have to play.

In my mind's eye, which is admittedly limited, the combination of training people to fight in the ring while reading Merton, is similar to watching the news about the Mueller Report and reading Merton during commercial breaks. This became evident to me when I got home from the gym, and had a conversation with another friend.

I met this lady on the Democratic Underground many years ago. Although she, too, is much younger than I, she is familiar with Merton. However, yesterday she was feeling mighty frustrated with AG Barr's odd interpretation of the Mueller Report, and extremely annoyed by much of the media coverage it was getting. As I am of extremely little intellect and shallow grasp of understanding, I immediately responded by way of the discussion I had had an hour previous, with the two fighters that will be competing in the finals of the NYS Golden Gloves on April 14, for I am convinced that all that is important in life imitates the sport of boxing.

In a tough bout, there will be times when one's opponent unleases their best blows. At those times, one needs to keep moving, so as not to be a stationary target. Avoid as many punches as possible, and block those that you can't slip. Recognize that as unpleasant as this is, t is an essential part of the struggle. Do not watch your opponent's eyes; instead, focus on their mi-section. Know that the opponent will become over-confident – this being an important key – and thus will load up on their punches, which always results in their getting winded. Always. That is when you catch them coming into your power, as you dig in some hard body shots. When his/her hands come down (and they will!), you go to the head.

This weekend, our opposition started throwing punches at us. When Barr produced his brief interpretation of the Mueller Report, we could anticipate the over-confidence we saw on Monday. The republican base has been cheering wildly, assuming that meaningful shots are overwhelming our side. But most of those punches completely miss the mark, and the few that “land” are being blocked. More, we have some elected representatives landing some meaningful counter punches. And within a week's time, the Trump supporters will have shot their wad.

Now, back to the gym, at least figuratively. Before training, I had a rather long conversation with a close friend. He and I have worked on political activities for three decades or more. He asked for my impressions of what was going on per the Mueller Report, including the risks of accepting Barr's bit on face value. I will attempt to edit my long and winding response, as my response was even longer and more boring than my essays here.

Mr. Mueller determined that there was not enough evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to warrant legal charges. It is not as if Mr. Mueller was unaware of Don, Jr's meeting, etc. Rather, the report shows that the Russians made repeated efforts to influence the campaign, and that the Trump people were by and large unwitting dupes. What type of people do the Russians mark as easy targets for such things? As Malcolm Nance has repeatedly said, they look for people who are greedy, ambitious, and narcissistic. Surely Mr. Mueller is aware of this.

Mr. Mueller did not include a conclusion regarding obstruction of justice. Instead, he laid out the evidence pro and con. He knew that the DOJ has a policy of not indicting a sitting president. There is no evidence that he took the steps he did, and included the documentation he put in the report, as a means of asking Barr if he would overturn policy, and indict Trump. That is a very weak interpretation of what happened.

Instead, Mr. Mueller laid the case out for Congress to consider. Indeed, in our political system, it is Congress that determines if a president has attempted to obstruct justice, and/or has abused the power of his/her office. One of the primary reasons for this is that obstruction and/or abuse of power does not have to rise to the 95% level of certainty that I spoke of in my last essay here, in order to press charges. It's clearly the responsibility of Congress, not Barr, to interpret this.

Thus, we see republicans parroting the line that grand jury testimony cannot be legally released. In general, of course, this is true. The reason, as we all know, is to avoid damaging the reputation of a person who testified, but was not charged by the grand jury. Yet, there are exceptions, and the republicans are terrified of them.

Let's consider but one example. Take Hope Hicks, who quit the White House days after testifying in front of the grand jury. Gracious, I wonder why? Oh, that's right – among other things, Hope was with Trump on Air Force One when he dictated the cover-lie for Don, Jr., per the Trump Tower meeting. She has also admitted lying to help Trump. Now, if her testimony that is included in the Mueller Report is released – to both Congress and the public – it isn't going to hurt her reputation. No, there is still a future in plastics.

But it will knock the wind out of the republicans. And it is only one of a very large number of body punches that we are preparing to land …..because the law absolutely allows for the release of grand jury testimony in certain circumstances. And this is definitely one of them. It's coming.

Thomas Merton reminds us that we are participants in these great events. To not allow ourselves to be reduced to mere spectators, arguing the points that our opposition throws at us. No, it's time to work with our elected representatives in DC. Let's roll.

H2O Man

Trump, Capone, & Syphilitic Dementia

“By late March, the crimes of Trump, his family, and his associates will much more fully exposed. More republicans will find it impossible to defend the Trump mob. The legal cases in the courts and the House committee investigations will be plowing the decaying feces known by the brand name “the Trump administration” under. And much of what might seem to be rotting will instead be understood to be part of the necessary process of germination. And between late March and June, those of us at the grass roots level will have the opportunity to plant the seeds of democracy as a follow-up to the fantastic efforts made for the last elections.”
H2O Man; White House Rats; 12-25-2018


A lot of people are concerned about the “end” of the Mueller Team's investigation. This includes many who are worried about what is being said about reports that this part of the investigation will not produce further indictments. And some are repulsed by the republicans gloating that there was “no collusion.” All of this, without any knowledge of what Mr. Mueller's report to Attorney General Barr says or doesn't say.

Let's take a closer look. To begin with, we know that what became the Mueller investigation started with a counter intelligence effort by the FBI. It expanded, due to evidence that numerous people connected to the Trump campaign were in contact with Russians and Russian-connected interests. This, as Malcolm Nance has pointed out, raised the question of if they were witting or unwitting dupes.

If they were witting dupes, it was possible that criminal charges would follow. If, on the other hand, they were merely half-wits being duped by Russia, their actions may or may not have been legal. An examination of this could lead prosecutors to charge them with other crimes related to their activities.

In either case, there are two factors to keep in mind. First, the counter intelligence investigation involved “intelligence” from both other domestic agencies, and information from at least three other countries. Much of this is from levels that federal prosecutors rarely, if ever, can use as “evidence” in a court case. Hence, we hear former federal prosecutors and intelligence people on the news making the distinction between “intelligence” and “evidence.”

This intelligence is almost never used when a related counter intelligence operation is ongoing. This can, unfortunately, tie the hands of prosecutors in a large case such as Mr. Mueller was investigating. Yet that does not equal the entire case being “over.” (Mr. Mueller's indictment of the Russian military intelligence members was based upon “intelligence.”)

The second factor is that federal prosecutors only indict when they know the evidence they have provides a higher level of certainty of a conviction than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” instruction a jury receives. This concept is essential for our understanding of what will be coming after the Mueller report. I've been told that a federal prosecutor needs to believe she/he has a 95% chance of getting a conviction to move forward.

There has been speculation -- from sources reliable and unreliable – that there were sealed filings in the court where the Mueller team filed indictments and other related documents. Based upon the sequence of those filings, some thought they might be indictments from Mueller. The fact that none were unsealed on Friday indicates they are not from Team Mueller.

However, recent court activities relating to Rick Gates, as well as Michael Flynn, indicate that investigations relating to the Trump crime family are on-going. As has been reported numerous times, Mr. Mueller began shifting cases to at least three other offices.

What does all this mean? I tend to listen closely to Nick Ackerman, when he is on MSNBC. I also have great respect for a retired investigator I speak with from time to time. Among other things, he helped put mobsters from the construction industry in the federal pen.

I like people who think outside the box. For example, can a president be indicted? The same part of the Constitution that addresses impeaching the president also covers the vice president and federal judges. Think Agnew. Consider a federal judge, Robert Collins, being incarcerated in 1991 before being impeached. No one is above the law.

Why no indictments for conspiring with the Russians? This can't be answered until Roger Stone's case is completed. But it may be due to the counter intelligence nature, as well as the 95% rule. Manafort's first trial showed that a single juror might disrupt justice. The Scooter Libby case showed that if one defendant refuses to tell the truth, even when facing conviction for lying, it makes it difficult to prosecute at the next level.

Yet, I was reminded that Patrick Fitzgerald openly called upon Congress to investigate VP Cheney's role per the Libby case. Justice requires coordination between those agencies and institutions tasked with insuring the rule of law.

Finally, I was reminded of the “Capone Rule.” Often, it is more of a “sure thing” to follow the money with mobsters, to get the sure conviction.

We don't know – yet – what the Mueller Report contains. It's unlikely we will, even if Barr shares his impressions with some in Congress today. Be patient. There is much more to follow.

H2O Man

Yesterday & Today

Yesterday, Trump kept growling about how he “didn't understand” how a man “who got no votes” got to “write a report.”

Keep that in mind as you process today's event.

Things are good. More later.

H2O Man


“There are people who take rumors and embellish them in a way that can be devastating. And this pollution has to be eradicated by people in our business as best we can.”
-- Bob Woodward

A fact: George Conway tweeted that Trump is spinning out of control, due to psychological impairment, and thus poses a threat to U.S. National security.

A rumor: the White House is attempting to spin this in a way that distracts from Conway's message. With the help from some surprisingly silly journalists, the White House is attempting to make it all about trouble in the Conway marriage.

The truth: let's think back to something I wrote about here in 2017. Kellyanne Conway has on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” at the time the show's hosts were beginning to comprehend how horrible of a human specimen Donald Trump actually is. Ms. Conway vigorously and obnoxiously defended Trump ….while the cameras were rolling.

During a commercial break, however, Conway stuck a finger in her throat, then began yelping about what a horrible man he was, and how darned awful it was to work for him. I noted then, based upon the hosts' later off-air reactions that day, that Conway was unlikely to ever be invited back.

In September of 2018, a letter signed “Anonymous” appeared in the New York Times. The letter, which generally described Trump as a horrible man who is darned awful to work for. The op-ed was authored by someone who describes him/herself as serving in a heroic manner to protect America from the mad king. Despite attempts to identify who wrote and delivered the piece, which appears to have been done by someone with a legal background, the White House has been silent about their effort.

(Note: It is possible the letter was authored by a lawyer, and delivered to the Times by that lawyer's spouse. Especially if that spouse is also a noted lawyer. That would give the author plausible deniability, as he/she could honestly say that he/she did not deliver such a letter to the editors of the paper.)

In early 2019, former White House aide Cliff Sims published a book, “Team of Vipers.” Among other things, he called Conway a “cartoon villain,” and described how she was the source of various leaks to journalists. One in particular was curious – Sims described Conway's efforts to deny what had taken place off-camera on Morning Joe when she trashed Trump. Gracious!

The truth is that Kellyanne was complaining to George over the weekend about how horrible a person Trump is, and how darned awful it is to work for him. She was reacting to a number of things, not limited to his splattering of sick tweets. George, who has read at least part of Dr. Bandy X Lee's 2017 book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” decided to take action.

This is not to say that there are not “issues” in the Conway marriage. They are both vile creatures. It's worth noting that before finding each other, George dated Laura Ingraham, and Kellyanne dated Fred Thompson. Eventually, Ann Coulter introduced George and Kellyanne. Also, although she lived in Trump Towers from 2001 to 2008, Kellyanne did not originally back Trump in 2016 – rather, she worked for Ted Cruz. Yikes!

So we are talking about two poison snakes. The reason that George attacked Trump this week in the manner that he did was entirely in response to what his wife told him over the weekend. Thus, there is absolutely no need – none whatsoever-- to go where Greg Gutfeld did yesterday on Fox's “The Five,” when he literally said he was thinking about the pair's sex life.

I apologize to any readers who were about to eat.

H2O Man
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