Many wise men, from Aristotle to Einstein, have admitted to themselves that the more you know, the more you realize how little you actually know.
I’ve hit that wall where I am simply struck dumb during political discussions. We have been on such a steep learning curve because our malfeasant, reality-twisting president is stressing our very system of government to the point where nothing is true, and everything is permitted.
The wife, she of her own credo, “nothing is going to go right, ever”, is demanding answers to why the fuck Trump and his cronies get away with the things they do. Today, she wanted to know why the fuck Don McGahn, former counsel to Trump, can be instructed to ignore a congressional subpoena and that would somehow be OK.
Now, since journalism (thank heavens) is not my job, I’ve had the luxury of generally ignoring the hourly transgressions of this administration since the Mueller report was accepted by the attorney general, summarized, and dismissed. I hung in there as long as I could, comrades, I did. But when AG Bill Barr did the bare minimum he was obliged to do, which was read Mueller’s summation- and decide within 48 hours that there was nothing actionable in the near 500-page report that required further scrutiny, well, I decided that was it. He’s probably gonna get away with it all and we will need a fucking political Superfund to deal with the mass of toxic garbage that Trump will have released into our way of government by the time he is done. Hell, into our very American way of life in general.
It’s not for lack of trying on the Democrats’ part to pinch Trump, mind you. They are in there in the suck, doing what they can with what they have, holding the hearings, following the money, pressing for full publication of Mueller’s report, and compelling testimony as best they can. And they don’t want to waste time on an impeachment that will not result in a removal because Mitch McConnell has the troops lined up to resist even if Trump does shoot someone on 5th Avenue. I donate quietly to people whose work I admire, but I am not going to get excited any more while the tectonic plates of justice slowly grind. I’m done with “bombshell” journalism because they are mere duds when the nation’s cops are covering for the crooks. If it is to be that Trump goes to the stocks because he’s as lazy at being a criminal as he is at everything else in his wretched life, then huzzah. But there is nothing I, your humble diarist, can do to hasten that day along. The only thing that would snap a finger in the face of the Republican party is a general strike or something on that level, and since you all need your jobs very badly and 40% of the voting-age population doesn’t give a shit what Trump does illegal or otherwise, that level of civil disobedience is not in the offing. So I’m saving what’s left of my sanity and declining to read the tea leaves anymore- hell, declining to read much in depth at all for that matter, waiting instead for sweet release in 2020, and while I am on that subject you lefty motherfuckers out there had better not fuck this coming election up with your boutique candidates with your boutique ideals, thinking somehow that sitting on your hands and allowing more Trump will hasten the breakdown of the system and then your revolutionary sweetheart can come along and rebuild society with compassion and mutual assistance for all. No. Society for the least of us (and most of us) will simply get exponentially worse. There’s no magic, not in this lifetime. Just a few scraps of wisdom a bunch of bookish slave owners cobbled together and we gotta make do with it as best we can. We are on this train till the end of the line, wherever that may be- and I will be damned if I have to sit with a second term of Donald Trump and his party full of troglodytes just because you couldn’t get your nebulous dreams of how society should be ordered on the general ballot. Fuck you. You’ll take what little communitarian legislation you can get for now and you’ll like it because the hard truth is that the cousin fuckers in flyover country are too retarded to know what’s good for them and their states get an extra senator no matter how barren of population they are and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ticker cannot hold the line forever. Just wait. Everything will come in its time, even your vaunted revolution. Don’t get me wrong. Keep dreaming, keep pushing, just not at the expense of having the advantage. In the meantime, it is incumbent on all of us to vote hell the fuck no to another four years of this insane clown posse running shit now and say yes to whomever can defeat it. Myself, I’m a Warren guy, but I will screw a smile on in a New York minute and vote for empty suit Joe Biden and his shiny fucking veneers and tell everyone I know and love to do the fucking same without hesitation in my heart.
Now that I have that out of the way, back to my wife, who demands answers.
“Why is it OK for Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena? Isn’t that a legal demand to appear somewhere that must be obeyed?”
This is a great question.
“Because it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t know. There’s no consequences so there is no need to show up. If they say they don’t have to testify they don’t.”
This is not a satisfactory answer.
Sadly, it’s the naked truth.
Most of you who are sharp already know why no one is accountable anymore, and where all of this sounds familiar. Slip inside the eye of your mind and go back to the Bush administration, circa 2003, well after the lie that the mission was accomplished in Iraq. We wanted information on the resistance, where Saddam was, where Osama was, and traditional methods of gathering that intelligence from captured “terrorists” and “enemy combatants” were not producing the answers the Bush adminstration needed to help explain why we invaded Iraq.
Enter the OLC, the Office of Legal Counsel. This is a peculiar area in the Justice Department. It literally interprets the US Code on the president’s behalf, and issues binding opinions about what it says. In other words, if the OLC says something is legal, then it is. That’s an amazing power to have and until someone sues or someone in oversight or a judge nullifies it, it has the force of law. So anyway, Jay Bybee and John Yoo of Bush’s OLC crafted and released a memo freeing the CIA and the armed forces to torture prisoners who did not fight under uniform or flag. It took years for someone to invalidate the legal reasoning that they used and no one went to jail for the horrors that memo unleashed. Even the Obama administration hard passed on prosecuting the architects of the torture program, choosing instead to shoot the messenger.
So today, Trump’s OLC is taking executive privilege as far as it can. His former lawyer is being compelled to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee about Trump/Russia, and the OLC is suggesting that he need not do so because their opinion is that the President is immune from prosecution as long as he holds the office, and therefore no one who works for the sitting president can be compelled to testify against him. Says Trump’s new counsel,
“Congress may not constitutionally compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”
“Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the office of the presidency, the president has directed Mr. McGahn not to appear at the Committee’s scheduled hearing on Tuesday.”
And that’s about where we are at, kiddies. I fold.
Bill Barr has an easy job right now, content that Trump writes his own laws. In fact, he’s ignored his own subpoena as well, and even though he is in contempt, as I said, it just doesn’t matter anymore. The congressional duty to oversee has been neutered. The fix is in but good right about now. I don’t think it’s an overstatement that we are living under a ruler who can’t be challenged on any front. A terrifying power has been conferred to the executive branch, and frankly I couldn’t care less what party he or she belongs to-no President should ever be able to hide wrongdoing or any sort of doing on this scale ever again.
PS: As I was writing this, a “bombshell” dropped from a judge, invalidating the OLC’s directive that McGahn need not testify. Even so, since it is demonstrated that there’s no downside to blowing Congress off, what will it amount to?