Sunday, March 31, 2019

It is up to us to fulfill the American promise


Billie Holiday
Inventing Myself
“Is it better to have equality at the price of poverty or well-being at the price of inequality?”  Winston Churchill
We get objective reality mixed up with subjective meaning.  We know what we are, but youth will determine what we will be.  They have a shared desire to improve the world, but they have to find the meaning of their lives and the courage to be.  That comes from the inner person.
Unequal Sharing of Blessings
When you are a student, you choose to live a life of poverty.  You put your education first.  This is not the case for the students and parents implicated in the recent Ivy League college admission scandal.  Is education only about jumping through hoops?  Do you win when you lie and cheat?  These students will carry the shame of their parents for the rest of their lives.  There is more integrity in failure than fraud.  Billie Holiday had it right when she sang, “Rich relations give crusts of bread and such.  You can help yourself but don’t take too much.  Mama may have, papa may have, but God bless the child that’s got his own”.
Equal Sharing of Misery
Our Republican legislature wants young people to learn how to work.  Perhaps they are marching to the drumbeat of the Goldwater Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club.  Perhaps they are on the side of the money instead of the people.  A cartoon argued that people just want “free stuff”, but voters approved a minimum wage in 2016.  People would rather live in poverty than in a community where there is no work.  Work gives life a purpose.
HB2523, unanimously approved by the House Republicans, allows businesses to pay less than the minimum wage to part-time workers who are full-time students.  More young people would be hired and get work experience because businesses could pay them less.  It would also create a lower class employee who would compete with the poorest adults in our society.
Churchill apparently saw an interaction between blessings and misery that our legislature seems to not understand.  Their hubris gets in the way of continuous improvement.  It chants “USA, USA” instead of understanding its deficiencies.
Growing Up in the Placid Fifties
My mother died bringing me into the world.  I was raised by my grandparents.  Their doctors ordered them to come to Arizona because of my grandmother’s health, but it was my grandfather who unexpectedly died when I was 12 years old.  His last words to me, as he entered the taxi to go to the hospital were, “Now you will be the man around the house”.  I was stunned.  We had no idea of what was coming down.
Growing up young was typical of earlier generations.  Their youth was before electricity, cars, airplanes, and radio.  Teddy Roosevelt was their idea of the greatest president and the Civil War was not long ago.  My grandfather, a retired policeman, had only a fourth grade education.  He had a library, but could not multiply or divide.  My grandmother was the academic in our family, having completed an eighth grade education.  She was crippled because of a broken hip.  Strokes blinded one eye and twisted her foot.  She had hemorrhaging ulcers and repeated heart attacks.  I bought the groceries, did the laundry, lawn, housecleaning, and everything that took mobility or strength.  There was no one else.   I was her caregiver and she became my mother.
My grandmother had good advice:  “Get a job”, but I wanted to go to college.  Government and private enterprise created accelerated high school courses and summer institutes for teachers.  The world was changing and education was necessary to keep America great.  I lived in Arizona from 1948 and attended Arizona schools continuously.  My grandparents owned property beginning in 1950, but it turns out I was not legally an Arizona resident and would have to pay out of state tuition.  That would make college impossible.  My high school English teacher saw something in me.  One of her students was a lawyer.  She referred me to him, and pro bono, he got me classified as a resident.  Objective law denied amnesty.  But the subjective nature of my situation suggested otherwise.
Time to Strive
We should not be surprised or upset because we have to have to struggle with the frustrations in life.  It’s all in the game.
I learned how to work in the onion and melon seasons.  I remember picking cotton by hand.  We worked seven days a week, typically longer than 12 hour days, and sometimes as much as 18 hour days.  Those jobs paid about half the minimum wage of the time, without overtime or benefits, but a young person who lived at home, not needing to pay room and board, could do well.  I liked the hard physical work and was grateful to get it.
It was too hot outdoors in the summer, but we worked outside anyway.  I remember, all alone, digging up the shed sewer line.  They did not have heavy equipment in those days.  The trench was about fifty yards long, ran through the dirt parking lot, and deeper than I was tall.  I had a hose to help break up the hard soil.  But the objective reality of the trench is not what was significant.  It was the subjective experience that mattered.  I was covered with mud from head to foot from digging the trench and I met a girl I knew.  She was adorned in high heels and fine clothing.  It was clear to me, that I was not a bird of her feather.  It was helping me to learn who I was and what I was.
I started college at age 17 and did well, but I lost my grandmother, my room and my board in the second semester of my first year.  There was no money and I was broke.  I became 21 years old on paper, because I had to.
Lacking parental supervision there would be no scholarship for me even though my grades supported one.  So, my immediate problem became paying for tuition, room, board, and books.  Because of the Vietnam War, full-time school was mandatory.  Part-time work was almost non-existent.   Businesses not involved in interstate commerce paid far less than the minimum wage. With employees’ mandatory meals and uniform cleaning fees, the take-home pay was actually about one third of the minimum wage.  So, this meant running into financial problems the second semester of every school year.
My grandparents taught me to never use credit.  At first, I had a small bank account but that ran out quickly.  I tried to borrow twenty dollars, but I had no collateral.  Fortunately, they had not yet invented predatory friendly loans.  Unfortunately, I overdrew my bank account by two cents.  The police came to investigate me, but all they could find was a 1930 typewriter.  The bank fined me.  They could not understand why I did not want an account anymore.  Paying the fine took all my income for two weeks, so I lived on only peanut butter and bread, 3 meals a day, during that entire interval. 
So another solution was to work full time while attending school full time.  That led to 3 hours of sleep per night, permanently.  I was free and independent but not as sovereign as I thought.  Friends, the Church, and teachers helped me.  An increase in the minimum wage would have been beneficial.  But it is not fairness or salary that matters.  It is opportunity. 
 Sometimes, what seems to be a disadvantage is an advantage.  My day did come.  Our government was worried about Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles.  I had a good job immediately upon graduation.  I either contributed to the defense of our nation, or to the possible destruction of the world, and I helped in the solid state revolution that changed everyone’s life.  Some people thought I was patriotic and moral.  Others thought not. 
Jesus, an Artist
Is emotion the enemy of intellect?  Winston Churchill explained, “When civilization degenerates, our morals will be gone but our maxims will remain”.
We think that science revolutionizes the world, but Joseph Campbell, the famous mythology professor, explained that artists create the future.  They understand the power of the myth.  You might feel that myths are only lies.  You should consider that Einstein worked more like an artist, by imagination and intuition, than a scientist.   
Every child learns what the colors are, but colors are what philosophers call “qualia”.  We don’t know that our child’s experience of “red” is the same as ours.  An objectivist view holds that colors are properties in the world, there to be perceived.  The subjectivist view holds that colors are mind-dependent secondary qualities.  Was Jesus objective or subjective?  We know he was sincere, compassionate, joyful, disciplined, wise, and never jealous, but these terms embody thoughts, emotions, and actions. 
A handsome, tall, bearded Nordic Jesus walked on the water along with his disciple, Donald Trump.  The picture’s caption explained that they would bring world peace.  What about the big nuclear button that Trump threatened North Korea with?  He has only 7 minutes to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike.  To wait longer would allow our nukes to be destroyed while still on the ground.  Isn’t there something wrong with our system?  It allows this madness to continue, to grow with the new generation of smaller user friendly nuclear weapons.
It was a time and place of religious foment.  There were the Essenes, the Samaritans, the Sadducees, the Zealots, and the imminent coming of a messiah who would set things right.  Did Jesus demonize the poor stranger who came to him suffering from life’s vicissitudes?  Did he explain that he was for the Pharisee’s first and blame everyone else?
We actually don’t know a lot about Jesus.  That has made it possible for people to make up their own idea about him.  Megan Kelly, on the TV, said that Jesus was a white man.  He has been talked about as a capitalist, a socialist, a poor man, a loving friend, and a member of the Nazi party.  Our intercontinental ballistic missiles have been blessed by the clergy in the name of Jesus.  Jesus was a Jew, but not of the Old Testament kind.  He tried to reconcile the individual soul with the laws of society.
The Jesus and Trump picture, pretending to be from Jerry Falwell Jr., went viral.  But it was a fake.  Perhaps its intent was proselytization about emotional beliefs that need no science, weather man, or objective policy.  God, the mysterious unexplainable is their explanation.
Land of the Make Believe
When comfortable facts decide, we become heartless.  Emotional words change their meaning.  It is easy to change minds, hard to change hearts.  As we think in our hearts, so are we.
Many are angry because “xxxx hole” countries don’t respect us, don’t do anything for us, and are not fair to us.  Should we punish them until they are on our side?  This is about how we see ourselves, others, and the world.  No leader can fulfill the American promise.  It is up to us.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

George HW Bush voted for Hillary in 2016, Barbara stopped considering herself a Republican

According to a forthcoming biography by USA Today’s Washington bureau chief Susan Page, the Bush family matriarch and patriarch were so disgusted by the idea of a Trump presidency that he voted for Hillary in 2016—the only vote for a Democrat in his life—and she stopped considering herself a Republican.  She also kept a clock counting down to the end of Trump’s term beside her bed until the day she died. 

USA Today has these and other facts drawn from The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, which comes out April 2.  It is based on exclusive interviews during the last six months of Barbara Bush’s life as well as her diary entries going back decades.
Barbara Bush blamed Donald Trump for her heart attack.
It wasn’t technically a heart attack, though she called it that. It was a crisis in her long battle with congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease that hit her like a sledgehammer one day in June 2016… The tumultuous presidential campaign in general and Trump’s ridicule of son Jeb Bush in particular had riled her. “Angst,” she told me.
Yes, names do hurt people.  The emotional onslaught of Trump’s nonstop personal attacks is causing emotional damage to the entire nation, if not world.  This is a real thing and was part of Putin's plan to weaken the USA, as division and chaos is part of the Russian psyops playbook.

Trump was on Barbara’s radar for decades, for greed to the point of vulgarity:
"The real symbol of greed in the 80s,” she wrote in her diary in January 1990...
She noted that Ivana’s allies said the $25 million settlement in the prenuptial agreement she signed wasn’t enough. “The Trumps are a new word, both of them,” she wrote. “Trump now means Greed, selfishness and ugly. So sad.”
I’m not going to whitewash Barbara or any other Bush too much.  The family played a big part in causing the great informational divide that is ripping America apart—a divide made of a false set of facts created by the GOP, Fox and the rest of the RW noise machine sitting like a malignant tumour on the public discourse, versus actual facts.  The Bushes played a big part in worsening the great economic divide of income inequity, which ultimately destroys a country if not stopped, commenced by Ronald Reagan.  No one should ever forget that her son George W. killed thousands of Americans and millions of Iraqis in a war based entirely on lies, arguably a worse thing than Trump has ever done.

But when you lose a clan that had its hands in things this bad—when you make its patriarch vote Democratic—you’ve hit quite an incredible low.
“Putin endorsed him, for heaven’s sake,” Barbara Bush erupted. “Putin the killer! Putin the worst! He endorsed Trump! That’s an endorsement you don’t want.” 
Page asked Barbara how she thought things were going for the USA in the Age of Trump.
"I'm trying not to think about it," she said in an interview as the first anniversary of Trump's election approached. "We're a strong country, and I think it will all work out.” Even so, she was dismayed by the nation’s divisions and by the direction of the party she had worked for, and for so long.
Did she still consider herself a Republican?
In an interview with me in October 2017, she answered that question yes. When I asked her again four months later, in February 2018, she said, "I'd probably say no today."
This is not an indictment of Trump.  This is an indictment of all the toady Republicans who put party before country by supporting him in violating presidential norms, embracing Nazis and dictators, whipping up hate and bigotry, committing such atrocities as child separation, and every other crime and travesty we know he committed.  Mitch McConnell, Ryan Paul and Jeff Sessions are names that spring to mind, but really it’s the whole filthy lot of them, to which we can now add William Barr.  Mrs. Bush clearly got increasingly disgusted as she saw the GOP degenerate into the Trumpcult.

The female head of a family which was not exactly a paragon of government of the people, by the people and for the people, Barbara Bush still no longer wanted to be in their company in the end.

Friday, March 29, 2019

At the same time, Miss Betsy is giving herself and her staff a 15% salary increase...

Sounds like the beginning of a true dictatorship ...

"Mein hero." -- Donald J. Trump
My professional background is in broadcast radio programming.  As a result, I get several industry e-newsletters each day, including some which simply forward headlines and links to full articles.

One of those is published by the National Association of Broadcasters, which has been the industry’s voice on Capitol Hill practically since KDKA first broadcast the Cox-Harding election returns on November 2, 1920 (NAB came along in 1922 as the National Association of Radio Broadcasters).  Today, they had a link to a story carried both in Politico and Broadcasting & Cable which pretty much terrified me.  Here’s the scary paragraph:
Murtaugh* called on the networks to refuse six commentators who claimed there was Russian collusion: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former CIA Director John Brennan.
(*-Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s campaign.)

Not surprisingly, Vice President Mike Pence also made a statement, saying that the Mueller investigation was accompanied by "reckless accusations by many Democrats and members of the media."

I am reminded of something the late Sen. John McCain said two years ago in Munich:
“If you want to preserve - I’m very serious now - if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”
“They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”
Well, two years later, it seems obvious to me that Trump is moving toward creating a dictatorship.  And I can actually understand why … all of his legal problems would go away if he had the unilateral power to declare that he is immune from any kind of lawsuit or criminal prosecution.

He has taken many actions of the type that would get highlighted in any impeachment proceedings, and even though I agree with Speaker Pelosi that it would create a huge rift in our country, I believe we need to move toward beginning that process, if for no other reason than to bring everything this administration has done to the public’s attention as a huge mass of steaming excrement.  The American people need to be hammered with the reports and the evidence.  The question of “collusion” was never going to be a factor in getting rid of the horrible man who presently occupies the White House.  But this latest move, framed as “Trump only wants you to be told what he wants said” and then shown to be identical to the way other dictatorships prevent the citizenry from knowing the truth is practically the only persuasive argument we have in the 2020 campaign to convince voters to vote him out.

Given that any impeachment proceedings would drag all the way to (and probably past) Election Day, the news reports themselves would serve to bolster Democrats at the ballot box.  The question is, will Pelosi come to see it this way and move in that direction before it is too late?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Everything changed, except nothing did.


Apparently the world as we know it came to an end on Friday, not that I knew anything about it. For me, these last 4 days are my World Series and Super Bowl all tied together. Starting at 9:15 PDT on Thursday, and ending around 8:30 on Sunday night, I am a totally whacked out zombie for 4 days, furiously switching between 4 different TV stations, desperately trying to catch every play of my guilty passion, March Madness.

That doesn’t mean that I was totally disconnected, I caught short bursts of coverage in the scattered breaks between the morning and evening sessions of the tournament. And I must say that I was highly amused. Mueller dropped his report bombshell just before 5 EDT on Friday evening, and of course the networks went all hands on deck. Which was by itself highly amusing, since only in America can an endless assembly line of vapid talking heads spend the next 40 hours earnestly discussing an upcoming release of a report summary that they haven’t seen, and the contents of which they have not the slightest clue.

But Mueller is finally done. After 22 months of angst and despair, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and broken relationships and workplace feuds, Mueller has finally spoken. And as of this moment, we still have absolutely no idea of what he said. because all of the information that we have to go on doesn’t come from Robert S Mueller III, it comes from a company paid shill, William Barr. And his “summary” of the Mueller report sheds about as much light on the subject as a dead firefly. It’s kind of like suffering through weeks and months of anonymous teasers about an upcoming “Blockbuster Movie,” only to find out when it’s finally released that it’s just another damn sequel to The Care Bears Movie.

However, one thing has changed. From here on out, 24/7 for the next I have no idea how many months, we will no longer be referring to the Mueller investigation. We will all now be referring to the Mueller report instead.Because the fight over the release of the whole report is going to be the political version of the release of “Die Hard 37: Die Even Harder Than The Last 36 Times.” It’s going to be the same old, tired plot, with the same basic cast of characters, but with different shit blowing up. We most likely won’t really learn anything really definitive until Barr and Mueller get their asses hauled up to Capitol Hill in the DC version of Battle of the Network Lawyers!

But we did learn a couple of things, at least I think we did, because so far we haven’t heard or read a word that Mueller wrote, all we’re doing is playing “William Says,” For example, William says that Mueller did not find indictable evidence of collusion between any members of the Trump campaign and Russia. Barr had to be careful here, he couldn’t say that Mueller found no evidence of collusion, because sooner or later the facts are going to come out. But this proclamation from the new court jester is giving Trump more nocturnal emissions than Stormy Daniels. But I’m not sure that they’re really thinking this through. They’re bragging that Trump and his Trumplets were telling the truth all along, that they were literally too fucking stupid to collude with a foreign power. But I’m not so sure that having the image of Vlad the Imp sitting in his office in the Kremlin, and telling his lackeys, “What a bunch of dipshits! I guess if we want this done right, we’re going to have to do it all by ourselves,” is exactly the look they are going for.

Also, William Says that Mueller did not find indictable evidence that Trump obstructed justice. Again, notice that Barr can’t say that he didn’t try to obstruct justice, only that Trump is as incompetent at that as he is at everything else.

Obstruction was always going to be difficult to prove, because one has to show intent, an actual plan to obstruct justice, and anybody who thinks that Trump wakes up in the morning with an actual plan to tie his shoes is fooling himself.

So, apparently we’re sitting in a dark theater, and they’re rolling the opening credits in another installment in the “Neverending Story” franchise. But there is a danger here. Because, while there is pretty strong interest in the public to see the actual report, the report itself won’t actually change anything. Those who support Trump will key on the fact that he wasn’t directly implicated, no matter what the evidence shows. And those of us who would like to see Trump riding a rail, covered in tar and feathers, will latch onto whatever sins Mueller did uncover, including the non publicly disclosed attempts to obstruct justice.

But while there is interest in the report, it is not an overriding interest, voters are still much more motivated by core, basic issues. So it would be wise to fight the battles, make the voluntary requests, followed by subpoenas, followed by court battles to get the report released. But don’t fixate over that long and tortured road the way we have for the last 22 months. There are no more indictments coming, the investigation is over. Nobody is going to change their minds over Russia, or collusion, or obstruction  of justice. What we need to key on right now, every day, is the in-p;ain-sight cruelty, corruption, and manifest incompetence of the everyday workings of the worst presidential administration in the history of this country.

Fight those battles, but let them play out in the background, until there’s something actually worth reporting. Because, both through House investigations, as well as just the daily missteps of the Trump White Hose, there are plenty of things going on around us that can seal Trump’s fate in November. Let’s not start throwing our own bright, shiny objets around, shall we?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Barr: White House will have chance to edit Mueller Report before it's public

The fix is in, folks. We have a rigged system, believe me.
Business Insider:
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr told him he would send the special counsel Robert Mueller's final report on the Russia investigation to the White House before the public sees it, in case it wants to claim executive privilege over any parts.
Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said Barr told him it would most likely take "weeks, not months," to make a version of Mueller's final report public.
Oh, it’s only going to take weeks to get a report with basically anything embarrassing and/or unethical completely bowdlerized from it? Awesome!

You know, for some reason I don’t trust the judgment of an attorney general appointed by a pr*sident who just happened to be the primary target of the investigation.
Barr's summary did not provide any details about Mueller's findings in an FBI counterintelligence investigation, later folded into the broader Russia inquiry, into whether Trump was acting as a Russian agent; that investigation was launched in May 2017, after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, citing "this Russia thing" as his motivation. But Justice Department veterans have said the special counsel's full report is likely to answer many of the questions the public still has.
Why do I get the feeling that everything in the “final” report will be blacked out except for a few capital letters spelling out “SCREW YOU, HATERS”?

We can’t stand still for this. Release the full report.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Daily Beast: Moscow 'in ecstasy' over Barr letter

Apparently, Trump’s toadies and hangers-on aren’t the only ones deliberately misinterpreting AG William Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller Report. Russian media and state officials are right behind them. 

The Daily Beast is reporting that the Russians are thrilled with the summary, and are using it to claim the entire Russia meddling story was a big nothing-burger.
Senator Alexei Pushkov, a senior deputy in Russia’s upper-house Federation Council, described the Mueller report as “a mountain that birthed a dead mouse.” Citing Fox News, Russian state news agency TASS reported that the findings represent a complete victory for President Trump. “It’s not every day you get to see [Rachel Maddow] nearly cry live on-air,” rejoiced Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti.

Evgeny Popov, the host of 60 Minutesthe most popular TV program in Russia as of 2018, interpreted Mueller’s findings as a confirmation that “Russia didn’t elect Trump,” but “will most definitely elect him in 2020.” Russia’s Federal News Agency (RIA FAN), an offshoot of the notorious Russian troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), described Mueller’s inquiry as an investigation “against Russia and Trump.”

RIA FAN disingenuously alleged that Mueller never demonstrated any evidence of the Russian trolls’ involvement in Trump’s election. “The Russians are coming—or the Russians were never there?” mockingly asked the troll agency’s surrogate, falsely claiming that the special counsel couldn’t find either the troll factory or any trace of the Russian hackers.
I’ve never seen so many people spiking the ball on the 10-yard line before. First of all, Russia was implicated in the plot to elect Trump, and numerous Russians were indicted. Secondly, hardly anyone in Russia or the United States has seen the full report. Thirdly, what were all those lies about meetings with Russians and Trump Tower Moscow anyway?

Meanwhile, Barr’s letter will do nothing to squelch Vladimir Putin’s plans for more election interference. He has his willing stooge/useful idiot, whether evidence of an overt conspiracy exists or not.

To quote The Narrator from The Big Lebowski: “Sometimes you eat the Barr and sometimes the Barr, well, it eats you.”

But this isn’t over. Not by a long shot.

Source With Knowledge of The Probe - “Mueller was making a case to Congress..."

In his Cliff Notes (I am being generous here) four page summary of the still-unknown-how-many-page Mueller Report, AG William Barr, who is busily obstructing justice right before our very eyes, just like his client, includes one telling Mueller quote from the report — presumably included to inoculate Barr from charges of lying to Congress... 

“The special counsel states “that while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” 

And there is a good reason that Mueller did not conclude that the *resident committed a crime on his own. The DOJ, after all, is effectively neutered by it’s inability to indict and charge a sitting president, thus making the Congress the only body that may impose accountability on the Oval Office.

The Report was constructed to give them the ability to…
Daily Beast
“A source with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Daily Beast that it was their interpretation that “Mueller was making a case to Congress, who (unlike DOJ, in Mueller’s view) is empowered to weigh the lawfulness of a president’s conduct.”
You can read the rest of the Daily Beast article, but there is nothing else there that is not basically a rehash of what a hundred other outlets are reporting.

The above short paragraph is the important part of the article, as it explains that Mueller felt that he was not empowered to act on his own, and as a result made the case for Congress so that they could impose the rule of law on the criminal in the White House.

Of course if the House majority lacks the will to act on Mueller’s evidence and their prerogative, we are well and truly fucked, as their unwillingness to do so will be spun as total vindication of drumpf.

But it won’t be a shagging because Mueller did not do his job.

Monday, March 25, 2019

William Barr Did What He Was Hired to Do

William Barr. (photo: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg)
William Barr. (photo: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
25 March 19

He summarized the Mueller Report in the most favorable light possible to the Trump administration*.

f the president* really had an ounce of empathy in him, he'd issue mass pardons immediately because, otherwise, a number of people are going to feel really stupid going off to federal prison. They will be going off to federal prison knowing that they committed their crimes in defense of nothing. William Barr on Sunday did what he was hired to do. He summarized Robert Mueller's report in the most favorable light possible to the administration* and, where he couldn't do that—specifically, on the crime of obstruction of justice—he just decided to turn Mueller's own conclusion completely upside down. But, in any case, if Barr's summary is taken whole, Paul Manafort et. al. got caught up in a criminal conspiracy in which the only crimes were their own.

To refresh everyone's memory, prior to being appointed Jefferson Beauregard Sessions's successor, Barr wrote a 19-page memo regarding the Mueller investigation in which he pretty much predicted his own summary.
Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction. Apart from whether Mueller a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived. As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law. Moreover, in my view, if credited by the Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch. a further unprecedented step, Mueller would apply this sweeping prohibition to facially-lawful acts taken by public officials exercising of their discretionary powers if those acts influence a proceeding. Thus, under this theory, simply by exercising his Constitutional discretion in a facially-lawful way — for example, by removing or appointing an official; using his prosecutorial discretion to give direction on a case; or using his pardoning power ~ a President can be accused of committing a crime based solely on his subjective state of mind. As a result, any discretionary act by a President that influences a proceeding can become the subject of a criminal grand jury investigation, probing whether the President acted with an improper motive.
So, when you get to the following passage in Barr's summary, you can't possibly be surprised.
After reviewing the Special Counsel's final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.
In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that "the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference," and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President's intent with respect to obstruction.
And thereby hangs the upcoming brawl. Mueller says essentially that he is drawing no conclusions on obstruction of justice. Meanwhile, Barr—and Rod Rosenstein—are saying that, because Mueller drew no conclusions, he did in fact draw a conclusion. The law, as it has been said, is an ass.

There will be insufferable cock-a-doodle-doo'ing from the usual suspects for the next two years, and we all better get used to it. I suspect that both Barr and Mueller will get hauled before various congressional committees. In fact, the basic overriding result of Barr's summary is that the whole matter now has been dumped into the laps of a divided and hyper-partisan Congress in such a way as to guarantee that the Congress will be more divided and more hyper-partisan than ever before. The Democratic House will hold hearings and the Republican Senate will yell about Hillary Clinton. The Internet will be indiscriminately insane for the foreseeable future.

For those of us who are Iran-Contra obsessives—and you know who you are out there—this summary carries a similar aroma. A lot of important people are going to pass the buck around to each other, over and over again, until the country forgets what all the fuss was in the first place. This should be no surprise, again, because, back in 1992, when he was George H.W. Bush's AG, Barr advised that president to pardon all of the people convicted in Iran-Contra—people who, unsurprisingly, all could have testified that Bush's non-involvement was a self-serving lie. Maybe he'll give this president* the same advice. Who knows?

The wild card, of course, is the president* himself. He's got another wankfest scheduled this week and he's liable to say anything. And Paul Manafort still will be in jail simply because he got tied up with a guy who opened the floodgates on Manafort's crimes. He'll sit there forever, hoping for a pardon that will never come because he's not the guy who got to appoint his own attorney general to bail him out.