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MONTHLY EBLAST

These last two years have had their difficulties, but the silver lining has been the privilege of meeting talented, creative activists. Each month we will focus on a specific issue and share the thoughtful perspective of our contributors. Our Eblasts are posted below.

Contributors

Sajaa Ahmed is a host and co-creator of Spotlight 19, a podcast tracking all things related to New York’s 19th Congressional District. The podcast was an essential tool used by volunteers in 2018 to flip the district blue and will continue to be released monthly in 2019.

JT Compton spent fourteen years in finance before becoming a screenwriter and a political blogger.  He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School and has lived in Dutchess County for nineteen years.

Rep. Antonio Delgado spends every day in Congress focused on creating a vibrant local economy, working with local, state, and federal partners — regardless of party — to get results for the people here. From improving access to quality, affordable health care to expanding rural broadband to protecting our agricultural interests, Rep. Delgado is dedicated to working across the aisle and standing up for what residents need.

Karen Smythe, NYS Senate Candidate in 2018, was the 4th generation to run her family’s Dutchess County union construction business. Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, she is committed to giving back to the community through volunteer and nonprofit work. She currently serves as President of the Dutchess County Woman’s Caucus, is on the Board of the Bardavon Theater and a Trustee of Vassar College.

Assemblymember Didi BarrettGuest Contributor, After a dedicated career as a community activist, writer, and leader of non-profit organizations, Didi Barrett was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2012, where she is now serving her fourth full term. Didi continues to work tirelessly for our community as an advocate for women’s rights, local agriculture, environmental conservation, and all issues affecting the Hudson Valley. She is currently serving as the chair of the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Women’s Caucus, and chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.


Welcome to intelligent life – Veteran’s issues (#4)

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

  • Melanie Whaley, Editor’s Message
  • Sajaa Ahmed – Spotlight 19 / Episode 39 Interview with Major Malia Du Mont
  • Karen Smythe / Thank You for Your Service
  • JTC / Day 921 / GOP Hypocrisy on Veterans
  • Rep. Antonio Delgado / Update on Work Done for Our Veterans
  • Assemblymember Didi Barrett / For Every Veteran, Dignity is an Essential Part of Services

Please email us (msw@Indivisiblethefightison.com) with any comments; we would love to hear from you. Thank you for staying with us! If you do not yet receive our emails you can signup HERE


Welcome to intelligent life – THE ENVIRONMENT (#3)


Welcome to intelligent life – EDUCATION (#2)


Welcome to intelligent life (#1)

The theme for this month’s eblast reflects Women’s History Month.


Day 1126 – Trump’s New Assange Scandal

A debate among the Democratic contenders took place last night in Las Vegas and it was the most dramatic and contentious thus far.  Michael Bloomberg appeared for the first time and from the start was attacked by the other contenders.  It became quickly clear that Bloomberg was not prepared to defend the weaknesses in his record from barbed and penetrating questions, and his performance generated a torrent of negative commentary on social media, including this by @BPMehlman: “Bloomberg brought a wallet to a knife fight.”  When asked by Elizabeth Warren about allegations of fostering a hostile workplace and having to settle with disgruntled women in his organization by using non-disclosure agreements (“NDA’s”), Bloomberg failed to answer the question directly and instead made a remark under his breath that “maybe they didn’t like my jokes,” which brought gasps from the audience.  Bloomberg was the big loser of the evening.  After the debate Warren tweeted this:

I  hope you heard what Mayor Bloomberg’s defense of decades of mistreatment to women was: “I’ve been nice to some women.”

That just doesn’t cut it.

The big winner seemed to be Elizabeth Warren.  She vanquished Bloomberg early-on and as others squabbled with each other, Warren did more than the rest to preserve some tattered sense of unity.  She articulated her policies and record well, and was often the steady voice of reason and good sense among the clamor.

Joe Biden also had a good night, defending his record from attack and showing the down-to-Earth passion and blue-collar sensibility he is known for.

Bernie Sanders had a decent night doing the same thing he has done all along.  He explains and defends his positions well and has facts and anecdotes at his fingertips.  He was also effective at painting Bloomberg in a bad light.

Amy Klobuchar probably lost ground last night.  She was sharply attacked by Pete Buttigieg early on, which put her on the defensive, and then was attacked repeatedly by a moderator for forgetting the name of the President of Mexico.  Elizabeth Warren had to come to Amy’s rescue, reminding the moderator and crowd that everyone on that stage had at one time or another forgotten someone’s name, and that it was not important nor relevant to who should be president.  But angry and defensive is not where Amy wanted to be.

Pete Buttigieg probably lost ground as well.  On one hand, he had several brilliant and well reasoned answers to questions and pertinent criticisms of his opponents, yet his attacks on Klobuchar seemed baldly strategic (she is probably the candidate most in his way at the moment), at times mean spirited (he insinuated that she didn’t know enough), and at times misleading.  He seemed desperate to bring her down, and desperation is never attractive.

One of the main deficiencies of the debate was the absence of an attack by the Democrats on Trump’s dismantling of the rule of law and Barr’s betrayal of his oath of office.  The candidates all mentioned how important it is to dump Trump in November but many spent their time attacking each other rather than selling voters on how they were going to out-campaign Trump and put a stop to his dirty deeds.

Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday that Julian Assange’s lawyer claimed in a British court recently that California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Trump and Rohrabacher.” – Rep McCarthy) relayed in a face-to-face meeting with Assange that Trump would guarantee a pardon for him if he changed his story and denied that Russia hacked the DNC emails.  IF Trump truly offered Assange a pardon in exchange for lying, it would be yet another presidency-ending scandal for anyone occupying the White House prior to Trump.  It would be both a betrayal of the presidential oath, a possibly criminal bribe, and an unAmerican (and impeachable) abuse of power. But will it even register in Trump’s morally bankrupt cult of Senators? Will it even last longer than a 24-hour news cycle?  Trump is a cancer on our democracy.

CNN’s post on the Trump/Assange report:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/19/uk/assange-trump-pardon-rohrabacher-us-gbr-intl/index.html

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

 

Day 1125 – Trump Promotes Corruption

It’s already mid-week.  Here’s what you need to know.

1) Trump granted clemency and/or pardoned 11 people yesterday, most of them well-known public figures, some of them former government officials.  The central theme of their misdeeds was corruption, and several of them had direct ties to Trump.  Nothing says “corruption fighter” like pardoning politicians and public officials who have been convicted of corruption.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?  Trump pretends that he cares about corruption to hurt a political enemy (Biden, Ukraine) when in fact Trump promotes and fosters corruption within his own ranks. And by pardoning prominent white-collars criminals, he’s sending four signals.  One, that his minions can continue to cheat the election and play dirty tricks without consequence, and Two, that those already convicted (Stone, Flynn, Manafort) can expect pardons soon, and Three, that anyone considering blowing the whistle should think twice because nothing will come of it, and Four, that anyone under legal scrutiny who is considering cutting a deal should shut up and sit tight.  Again, Trump makes a mockery of the rule of law and of the clemency process, using it for his own political signalling rather than addressing true injustice–as it was meant to be used.

2) In discussing AG Barr’s violations of DOJ protocol and tradition yesterday in this blog I asked these related questions:

We have to keep asking why the investigation into money laundering at Deutsche Bank seems to have stalled, and why the investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine influence campaign seems to have stalled, and why investigation into hush money payments by Trump seems to have stalled.

In a deep dive last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked the same questions, and the answers that have only just emerged are predictable.  It seems that William Barr’s first act as head of the DOJ was to fly to NYC and meet with the Southern District of New York Federal Criminal Division and review all of the cases that in any way touched the Trump crime family–and he put the brakes on ALL of them.  This, in itself, should be a massive scandal as an obvious betrayal of the bedrock principle of “blind justice,” but instead it’s just Trump Scandal #5945 in our slide toward authoritarian rule. It’s a bad thing when the head of the EPA changes the rules to allow more pollution, or when the Ag Secretary loosens pork inspection standards.  But it’s an entirely more dire threat to the foundation of our republic when the pinnacle of law enforcement can be used as a weapon by a corrupt president.  Trump’s next impulse will be to launch investigations into the Democratic contenders.  And if they get put in jail, we have become every second-rate banana republic that we’ve spent 200 years fighting to convert to Democracy.  After that, it’s only a short distance to citizens with rifles standing next to freshly dug pits.  This isn’t hyperbole.  It’s exactly how Hitler and Pol Pot and Mao started.  They attacked and demonized the intellectuals (“elites”) and spread fear and division.  And this is why I will hold my nose and vote for WHOEVER wins the Democratic nomination.  None of them aspire to turn America into Russia or North Korea.  But Trump does.

3) On the local front, the contest for our NY-19 congressional district is picking up.  Several contenders have announced their intention to run against Rep Delgado on the Republican ticket.  They are all woefully behind in fundraising, which is good for us.  And they will be challenging one of the hardest working Congressional Reps in the country.  Delgado is about to hold his 35th Town Hall this Saturday in Hudson (which is the second most Town Halls by a member of Congress and 35 more than Rep Faso ever held).  Rep Delgado recently spoke to the Cooperstown Rotary and received wonderful press from the event, which you can read here:

https://www.allotsego.com/cooperstown-rotary-applauds-delgado/

Rep Delgado has done an incredible job of listening to his constituents and turning their concerns into legislation.  Some of it has passed, and some of it is stuck in Moscow Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard, but Delgado has clearly been hard at work and his district seems to appreciate him more every day.

4) The Democrats are holding their latest debate tonight on NBC and it will be the first to include Michael Bloomberg.  It is probably worth watching now that the field is narrowing and actual primaries are taking place–and especially if you haven’t made up your mind about who you want to support.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1124 – “Bill Barr is un-American”

The Barr saga continues. After 2,000 former DOJ prosecutors signed a letter calling for Barr’s resignation, a national association of judges yesterday scheduled an emergency conference call to take place today to discuss the unprecedented interference by Attorney General Barr in several cases involving Donald Trump.  The association’s communication noted, “…it is unheard of for the [Justice] department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the president, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case.”  In other words, a cancer is spreading at the DOJ and sirens are now blaring.

Meanwhile, one of the prosecutors who signed the recent letter calling for Barr’s resignation penned a scathing article in the Atlantic yesterday.  Republican Donald Ayer was the Assistant Attorney General under Bush 41 and was a DOJ prosecutor under Ronald Reagan, and was also William Barr’s boss at the DOJ under Bush.  Here’s an excerpt from his article titled “Bill Barr Must Resign”:

The fundamental problem is that [Barr] does not believe in the central tenet of our system of government—that no person is above the law. In chilling terms, Barr’s own words make clear his long-held belief in the need for a virtually autocratic executive who is not constrained by countervailing powers within our government under the constitutional system of checks and balances.

Indeed, given our national faith and trust in a rule of law no one can subvert, it is not too strong to say that Bill Barr is un-American. And now, from his perch as attorney general, he is in the midst of a root-and-branch attack on the core principles that have guided our justice system, and especially our Department of Justice, since the 1970s.

Here’s a link to the full article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/donald-ayer-bill-barr-must-resign/606670/

Incredibly, Barr clearly believes that, despite 200+ years of judicial precedent, the courts should have no role in resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches.  In other words, the president can do what he wants and nobody can stop him.  He’s above the law.  When and if the Supreme Court rules against him, Trump does not need to adhere to their decision.  And this is a truly un-American and terrifying prospect.  No wonder the legal world is freaking out and talking about a constitutional crisis.

Barr has apparently been angry for many decades that poor, abused president Nixon was forced to leave office during the Watergate scandal.  Like Roger Stone, Barr must have considered Nixon a swell guy and hoped one day to push back on the quaint notion that no president is above the law.  But let’s keep things in context.  Old white Republican men like Barr can moan and whine about unfairly abused heroes like Richard Nixon, but their tears and grief can’t hold a candle to the grief, despair and loss that liberals have lived with since three of our heroes–JFK, RFK, & MLK–were assassinated in the ’60s.  And my grandparents were on Nixon’s “enemies list” (version 2) so I know first-hand what an unAmerican scumbag Nixon was.  Fuck Nixon and fuck anybody who nostalgizes that degenerate loser.  And fuck any treasonous rogue who pisses all over the Constitution by pushing incoherent nonsense about the president not having to follow an order by the Supreme Court.

One huge reason we have to take the White House back this November is to take back control of the DOJ.  Until then, we have to keep asking why the investigation into money laundering at Deutsche Bank seems to have stalled, and why the investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine influence campaign seems to have stalled, and why investigation into hush money payments by Trump seems to have stalled.  It’s becoming clearer and clearer that there exists a nexus between Russian money laundering through Deutsche Bank and Kushner payments to Russia and Trump loans from Deutsche Bank backed by Russian oligarchs.  These things are all related and the facts behind them won’t emerge until Trump is out of the White House and previously formed investigations are allowed to properly conclude.  At this point, the American public deserves to know if their president was a massive business fraud propped up by the Russian state.

I’m sick to death of writing about the daily corruption and scandal that flows from Trump and his corrupt cabinet of swamp monsters–and I’m sure you’re sick of it too.  But we can’t turn away or surrender to complacency.  We have to maintain the outrage that this dire emergency demands, and we have to stay focused on the November election.

I’ll keep saying this: while there are several Democratic contenders that I don’t particularly like, I will enthusiastically support whoever is nominated, whether socialist or oligarch, young or old, man or woman.  None of them want to be dictators, none of them are pathological liars, and all of them have the capacity for empathy, which sets them apart from Don The Con.  It boggles my mind that ANY liberal or progressive would stay home in November because their favorite candidate didn’t win the nomination.  Cable news loves to talk about a split party and a brokered Democratic convention.  But the question “Who is electable?” doesn’t matter if every registered Democrat votes.  Only 44% of registered Democrats voted in the 2016 presidential election.  If 48% of registered Democrats had voted, we would have beaten Trump handily.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” by increasing registrations and eventually increasing turnout.

Day 1123 – “They Are Autocracies”

A group of over 1,100 former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials published an open letter yesterday calling for AG William Barr to resign.  The scathing letter was clear and to the point:

Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case. It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.  Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice. In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.

Barr is scheduled to testify before Congress in March and, assuming nothing happens to his job status before then, he’s likely to face harsh questions from Democrats on a range of topics relevant to Trump’s abuse of power and Barr’s misuse of his office. It was rumored over the weekend that Trump was truly angry at Barr for chastising Trump’s use of Twitter, but this could have been yet another tactic to distract from the underlying fact that Trump and the DOJ are working together to re-frame the prosecutions that emerged from the Mueller probe, like Stone and Flynn.  Barr can spew lies all over cable news, but his biased actions speak louder than words.

Say what you will about Mike Bloomberg’s fitness to be the Democratic nominee, but I admire his all-out offensive against Donald Trump.  Our government is being gutted and co-opted by an authoritarian kleptocrat and his white-nationalist minions in a process disarmingly similar to the rise of the Third Reich.  This isn’t hyperbolic melodrama, it’s a cold hard fact. Trump’s use of The Big Lie, his demonizing of political opposition and the press, his demonizing and otherizing of immigrants and people of color, his improper and unAmerican meddling in the missions of the Departments of State and Justice, and his admiration for dictators–including our most determined adversaries–are just a few of the many similarities.

If Trump isn’t beaten decisively in November, it’s easy to imagine the disintegration and death of our Democracy as we know it.  We can never stoop to violence, and we shouldn’t stoop to anything unethical or underhanded, but we can still play hardball.  We can dispense with tact and measured argument, which haven’t worked for us in the recent past.  When liberals appeal the the mind and conservatives appeal to the heart, liberals usually lose.  And that’s what happened in the Impeachment trial.  The facts came from the Democrats but the fury came from the Republicans–and the fury was enough to fuel the Fox lie machine that kept a third of our nation in the dark about what Trump really did.  How many of us yearn for more people in the liberal political sphere like Russ Feingold and Al Fraken and Barbara Boxer to take Trump and his enablers to task in a fiery and emotional way? Few have successfully embraced that role recently until Mike Bloomberg.  We’ve seen moments of it from all of the candidates, but they still adhere to a decorum that Bloomberg has never valued, which is why he can go toe-to-toe with Trump on Twitter and Facebook and best him. My favorite from the weekend was a Bloomberg meme with the silhouettes of a tall fat Trump back to back with a short slim Bloomberg that read: “Less Height, Less Weight, Less Bullshit, More Mike”.  I was considering including it here but I didn’t want anyone to mistakenly think I was pushing a candidate.

I don’t like that any wealthy American can have such an outsized influence on our election, but conservatives have had this over liberals for decades and the playing field has become so uneven, it’s almost impossible to beat them.  While liberal billionaires spent their money curing disease, promoting literacy, and helping the environment, conservative billionaires spent their money buying propaganda conglomerates.  These outlets have already spent billions, along with billions more from giant industries (oil, finance, insurance, agriculture, defense, pharma, guns, etc.), to warp our politics and plant the seeds of fear and division in the minds of their audience.  And they’ve spent billions on projects to buy state legislatures, write laws, enact voter suppression, deepen gerrymandering, foster conspiracy theories, and prop up hundreds of bogus institutes and think-tanks and societies that spread lies and disinformation.  None of this can be attacked or reversed until Trump is voted out of office, and I’m glad on a daily basis that someone has stepped into the fray with far greater wealth than Trump and Murdoch combined–someone with smarter and more savvy media minds who know how to hit Trump where it hurts.  Someone on our side has finally brought a gun to the gun fight.  I still think it’s highly unlikely that Bloomberg can win the nomination, though anything is possible.  But I’m confident he will continue to bash Trump and put his considerable resources to work to help whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be.  That’s a very valuable counterbalance to Fox and Limbaugh and Savage and Beck and Breitbart and Sinclair and Daily Stormer.

I certainly have my favorites for the Democratic nomination, and of course I have my not-so-favorites. But any one of them would be astronomically better than corrupt Trump and I will vote for him or her.  At this point, with our institutions in ruins and the rule of law in the hands of traitorous scoundrels, I don’t give a rat’s ass who the nominee is as long as he or she can win.  To argue incessantly about Medicare For All versus Medicare For Those Who Want It is a monumental waste of time and energy, as is arguing about most of the policy nuances between the candidates.  Those laws will be determined by Congress, not the President.  Candidates should be attacking Trump and we should be deciding which candidate is the most effective at attacking Trump.  They should be making a case for who can energize and motivate the largest coalition of voters to get to the polls to beat Trump.  The rest is just noise and filler.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1120 – Barr Should Resign But Won’t

Corrupt Attorney General William Barr said in an interview yesterday that he didn’t get any direction from Trump to interfere with the sentencing of Trump crony Roger Stone, and he also said that Trump should stop tweeting because it gets in the way of Barr doing his job.  As many observers pointed out yesterday, if Barr can’t do his job, he should resign. But he won’t.

Barr wants us to believe that of the thousands of cases pending in the Federal Justice System at the moment, it was mere coincidence that he just happened to intervene in a case involving his boss Donald Trump.  AND he just happened to intervene in the sentencing recommendation a few hours after Trump tweeted that the sentence was too harsh.  Keep in mind that dozens of former federal prosecutors and justice department officers can’t point to a single instance of an Attorney General interfering in a prior case in this way.  It’s not normal.  It’s corrupt.  And Barr is a proven liar who ALWAYS operates in bad faith, and always slants the playing field in favor of the president.

Barr’s motto should be:

“Trump: I help his criminal friends and hurt his political enemies.”

Keep in mind that Barr has interjected himself in unprecedented fashion into other areas of the DOJ.  He got personally involved in existing cases affecting Trump in the Southern District of New York, including cases of hush money that have since gone quiet.  And it was recently reported that any investigation started into Trump or related to Trump MUST now go through Barr personally.

Meanwhile Trump continues to criticize prosecutors, judges, governors and states via Twitter in a deadly serious way while his supporters in Congress laugh it off as “not serious” or “it’s just Trump”.

A conversation was also raging yesterday about Michael Bloomberg’s unprecedented attempt to purchase the presidency.  He’s been spending a million dollars A DAY on social media ads, and he’s spent hundreds of millions on TV ads mostly bashing Trump.

Some progressives are enraged that “oligarch” Bloomberg can warp our democracy with such a staggering amount of money, and they point to any number of prior positions or statements from Bloomberg that run contrary to the agenda and spirit of the Democratic party.  And these are compelling arguments.  On the other hand, Bloomberg is doing exactly what every candidate wants to do, and what Trump did so well in 2016–he’s flooding the zone with his message and getting attention.

We aren’t going to stop Bloomberg from spending his money, and we aren’t going to stop him from attempting to co-opt the Democratic party.  But IF he isn’t able to gain the nomination, he will still have done the Democratic party a huge and expensive favor.  He will have exposed Trump’s failings to Fox-addicted Americans in unprecedented fashion. And in a world where most of Trump’s voters NEVER listen to any other source of information, exposing them to the real Trump (sleazy, lying, incompetent, petty, second-rate) has value.  He will have forced Trump to focus time and resources battling Bloomberg when Trump could have been smearing and demonizing others.  He will have taken some attention away from the Trump circus and put it somewhere other than Trump.  Trump isn’t good at much, but he’s expert at getting attention, even if he has to do something horrible to get it.

You will notice that whenever the Democrats are about to have a spotlight moment–a debate or caucus or primary–Trump will do or say something grotesque and the cameras will scurry to cover him while taking attention away from Democrats.  This is Trump’s method. ALL attention is beneficial, no matter what he has to do to get it.  Only a real billionaire with vast resources can counter the news-weight that Trump wields by virtue of his office.  So I’m glad Bloomberg is spending his money this way.  It doesn’t change the fact that there’s too much money in politics, but until we change the rules, we might as well have a billionaire with a skillful media company on our side, since the Trump cult have had the Murdoch Empire, Sinclair Media and Premiere Networks for decades.  It will take something close to a miracle for Bloomberg to gain the delegates needed to win the nomination outright.  It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely, especially since WE determine who we vote for.  And the more closely people look at his record, the more difficult his path will become.  However, he was a very popular mayor in a very diverse and progressive city.  All in all, I welcome his attacks on Trump.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1119 – “Safeguard Or Surrender”

The fallout continued yesterday from Donald Trump’s interference in the workings of the Justice Department.  Attorney General William Barr took intense heat from Democratic lawmakers and an army of detractors on social media and cable TV.  The most devastating and chilling analysis came from Rachel Maddow, who focused on a column from 2016 in the New York Review of Books by (former Russian) Masha Gessen entitled “Autocracy: Rules for Survival”.  Maddow highlighted several or Gessen’s rules, including these excerpts:

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hearing others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for rationalization.

Trump said he wanted to lock his adversaries up. He meant it. His supporters meant it.  Trump said he wanted his own Roy Cohn, and he got one.  Maddow went onto this:

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.  The United States has much stronger institutions than Germany did in the 1930s, or Russia does today. The problem, however, is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them–including the ones enshrined in law–depend on the good faith of all actors to fulfill their purpose and uphold the Constitution.

Neither Trump nor his entire administration has ever acted in good faith, and they surely never will.  Which is why we are in deep trouble.

I want to highlight the next of Gessen’s rules:

Rule #4: Be outraged. In the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock.

Here’s a link to Gessen’s article:

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/

Maddow went on to make this precise and chilling declaration (my emphasis):

The most consequential collapse of the Rule of Law is when the law becomes a tool of the political leader, where the power of the criminal justice system and the law enforcement apparatus of this country is employed for the pleasure and the benefit of a president who is supposed to allow it to operate independently, but we have now crossed the line on that. He told us he would do it; he has now done it.

If you have any doubt that the politicization of the Justice Department is an emergency for our Democracy, here’s what Chuck Rosenberg wrote in the Washington Post last night.  He’s a former US Attorney and FBI official.

The rule of law is a construct. It was made by people — and is nurtured and preserved by people. It can also be destroyed by people. And unlike the law of gravity, which works everywhere and all the time (at least on this planet), the rule of law is precious and fragile. As citizens and prosecutors, we either safeguard it or we surrender it. That’s the choice. What political leadership did here — mandating a favor for a friend of the president in line with the president’s publicly expressed desire in the case — significantly damages the rule of law and the perception of Justice Department fairness.

He goes on to this conclusion:

Safeguard or surrender. You choose.

Here’s a link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/12/this-is-revolting-assault-fragile-rule-law/

This is terrifying and sickening stuff.  It’s only a short leap between Barr handing favors to Trump’s convicted buddies and Barr investigating or arresting one of Trump’s political enemies. When an autocrat seizes the power of law and uses it as a weapon, nobody is safe and reasonable people can soon find themselves holding rifles while standing next to freshly dug pits.  This isn’t hyperbole, it’s the history of the last one-hundred years.

We have to stand up for our institutions.  We have to stand up for the rule of law and the fair application of justice.  We have to stand up for an independent legal system and for the rank-and-file professionals who work there to serve us.  The Deep State is just code for our institutions of government that keep corruption and tyranny at bay–institutions that liars and grifters like Trump hate because they stand in the way of his misdeeds.

Take this business with Barr very seriously.  This is not a drill.  We have to put pressure on Congress to take Barr to task, and we have to prevail in November or we may never get another chance.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1118 – Barr’s Latest Disgrace

A lot of important news broke yesterday.  Here’s what you need to know.

1 – All four federal prosecutors working on the Roger Stone conviction resigned in protest yesterday after higher-ups at the DOJ–likely Attorney General William Barr–took control of the case and re-submitted a sentencing memo for Stone far more lenient than the first, which asked for a sentence of 7 to 9 years behind bars. Legal observers were horrified and could find no instance of similar interference in prior administrations, noting that the new memo was written as if by the defense team. Only hours before, Trump had tweeted that the initial sentencing recommendation was unfair, so speculation raged about whether Trump’s tweet had pushed Barr to interject himself into the process and do a legal favor for Trump’s pal Stone. The whole situation reeked of corruption, and many Democratic Senators including Chuck Schumer called for an investigation of Barr and the DOJ.  Nothing smacks of authoritarianism and dictatorship like a corrupt Attorney General doing favors for criminals like Stone while investigating political rivals like Biden.  Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe tweeted this last night:

The Rule of Law is gasping for breath, being suffocated by Trump and his personal henchman Bill Barr. Not even a pretense of legality. The’re doing it because the can. It’s raw, naked, unprincipled, immoral power.

And writer Steven Beschloss tweeted this:

He stonewalls witnesses. He intimidates witnesses. He threatens witnesses who might speak out. Now he’s abusing his office by demanding prosecutors to change sentencing judgments.  Four prosecutors have refused to carry out this travesty.  They’re telling us: Enough is enough.

Keep an eye on this growing scandal, the latest from a thoroughly corrupt presidency.

2 – Trump also tweeted yesterday that the Army should discipline recently fired Colonel Vindman for insubordination, which is yet another absurd abuse of power and a dishonest mischaracterization of the facts of the Congressional hearing.  Vindman simply complied with an official Congressional subpoena and testified under oath–more than any of the direct reports to Trump have done, including Trump himself.  It’s not hard to imagine what a blithering idiot Trump would be in front of a Congressional committee as he tried to spew a torrent of lies.  But Trump is too much a coward to face real lawyers who won’t bend the knee and grovel to him.  He instead bullies others to do his bidding and hides behind the roar of a helicopter engine.

3 – The State of New Hampshire held its primary election last night and, unlike Iowa, it went smoothly.  Bernie Sanders won with roughly 26% of the votes and Pete Buttigieg came in second with 24%.  The big surprise was Amy Klobuchar, earning roughly 20% of the vote, while Warren garnered only 9% and Biden 8%.  To be fair, nobody expected Biden to win New Hampshire, but nobody expected him to get only 8% either, and observers were surprised that Warren, from neighboring Massachusetts, didn’t do well.  Many speculated that Klobuchar was emerging as the most promising moderate alternative to Buttigieg and Biden, especially after her stellar performance in the New Hampshire debate.  And many voters still desperately want a woman in the White House after the electoral college theft of the 2016 election.  It’s worth pointing out that Sanders  got 152K votes in the 2016 primary but only received roughly 74k votes this year–only half of his 2016 total.  Nevada is the next state to hold a primary, on February 22nd, and the electorate there is quite different from Iowa and New Hampshire, so we still have a long way to go before we get any real sense of how the field is shaping up.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”