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Yelena Mizulina: “…what is the rule of law? That’s the biggest unfreedom! The more rights you have, the less free you are, because rights, unlike prohibitions, are when you are supposed to act strictly in the way that accords with the law.”


This is quoted from a New Yorker article about the perversion of meaning to meaninglessness especially in authoritarian/ignorant governments when they try to justify their policies.  It is written by Masha Gessen, who is an expert in this sort of thing.  Masha spent formative years under the old Russian government, the grandfather of these policy-words ( like “sovereign democracy” and “national interest”) that have been turned into meaningless “emanations” or even hints at more adverse decisions.

Commands are delivered in a unique language that is understood by speaker and auditor, but not outsiders.  This is a conversation between the supporter of the government and skeptical outsiders.  Words and phrases are contorted so that they become incomprehensible to the listeners yet seemingly freighted with meaning.  Concepts that are objectively described as national fascism are disguised as “grassroots democracy” or “sovereign democracy”– anything to take away the real meaning of local democracy and substitute fascism with xenophobic characteristics.

The language of our national leader appears to conform to this standard, of incomprehensible verbiage mixed with appeals to patriotism, outright lies that can be easily debunked that supposedly contribute to his status as “the greatest president ever”, exaggerated praise of first responders, and poorly disguised dog whistles to white supremacists.



NY Times: Unemployment, Housing Instability, and economic hardship cause increases in crime, but illegal immigrants do not

THE UPSHOT|Is There a Connection Between Undocumented Immigrants and Crime?– a New York Times article that summarizes the research — real research — being done on the connections, if any, between illegal immigrants and crime rates in large populations throughout the United States.  This research was only possible because, in the last Census in 2010 and for fifty years before that, there was no question that said, “are you a citizen or an illegal immigrant?”  Now the * administration has gone to the Supreme Court and it appears that they will win a case that allows them to add that question to the next Census in 2020.  Inclusion of this question has been alleged to dramatically reduce cooperation with the Census by anyone with questionable citizenship.  You can see the relationship.

Comment of the Day III: “What is the President trying to hide?”


Rockport, MA
Times Pick

This is when the Democrats need to be relentless in their repetition of the simple question, “What is the President trying to hide?” each and every time they have access to a microphone. Yes, I get all the legal possibilities, predictions, suppositions. But for friends and family who don’t (and don’t want to), the doubt has to take hold in the simplest possible way. Leave all the excruciating details to congressional committees. Simple, direct mantras for public consumption. Repeated. And repeated. And repeated. Bumper sticker talk. Print up T-shirts and mugs. Again: What is the President trying to hide? “Simple and repeated” works so beautifully for Republicans and Bernie. Enormously frustrating that spotlight Dems cannot seem to take the KISS lesson from Marketing 101.

Comment of the Day II: executive privilege doesn’t cover criminal activities. If he gets away with this lame excuse, it will make a mockery of our constitutional form of government.

Michael Tyndall
San Francisco
Times Pick

This is just ridiculous. Executive privilege only makes sense if it’s necessary for the operation of a criminal enterprise run by the Trump crime family. Executive privilege doesn’t cover criminal activities, and that question is exactly the point of further congressional investigation. That constitutionally mandated oversight doesn’t disappear because Trump wants to shut it down. It just doesn’t. The Mueller report is the result of the special counsel‘s investigation of Russian interference, possible conspiracy by the Trump campaign, and obstruction of justice by Trump himself. It supposedly exonerates him from ‘collusion’ with the Russian government, itself a meaningless legal concept, as well as any acts of obstruction. Except that the report details multiple Russian government efforts to interfere with our election on Trump’s behalf, multiple knowing contacts by senior Trump campaign members with Russian proxies and cutouts, multiple knowing lies about those contacts, and the report explicitly doesn’t exonerate Trump of multiple possible counts of obstruction of justice. This is desperation time for Trump, Inc. If he gets away with this lame excuse, it will make a mockery of our constitutional form of government.


@kojak The report didn’t clear the president of obstruction of justice, and specifically stated so. It did lay out significant evidence across multiple events, many of which do amount to criminal obstruction of justice. The report explained clearly that, per OLC policy, a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller intentionally left the next steps in the hands of Congress to decide on impeachment. If impeached and convicted, only then could the president be charged criminally and indicted. Congress should be using the report as a roadmap to inform their decision. Unfortunately, they do not have the full report. The very person that is the subject of the report is witholding it and obstructing its resolution. The bipartisan House Committee on Oversight and Reform has the security clearance, and should be given the full report and its underlying evidence. Despite the attempts to spin the report as exoneration, it is in fact very damning for the president. It may not show specific coordination and conspiracy with Russia, but it does have a lot of evidence of corruption and obstruction of justice. Furthermore, it outlines attempts by the Trump campaign and associates to gain help from Russia; just nothing amounted to criminal conspiracy (cue Giuliani “Collusion is not a crime” Why obstruct so much if you’re innocent?

Comment of the Day: Democratic leaders need to sell the view of [] as a thief and a liar to the public: they need to wipe out the [] brand. It’s time for some truthful propaganda about his wholesale theft from, and lies to, the American public.



@Ms. Pea Barr misled and took great liberties in interpreting Mueller’s investigation and conclusions. However, The reports provided more than material for mere speculation – they presenting the case for obstruction of justice. Of course the House Judiciary Committee is entitled to see more, and require testimony from any official. However, the obstacle is that those who support Trump and his policies DO NOT CARE that he attempted to obstruct the investigation, and seem indifferent to his gargantuan conflicts of interest, and deliberate pursuit of personal gain as President, which involves Russian interests, past the point where it endangers this country. AS the Dem leaders pursue the information, they have to sell the view of Trump as a thief and liar to the public : they need to wipe out the Trump brand.

San Francisco

@William Case Actually, William, Barr concluded insufficient evidence to prove the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, the public saw the coordination happen on live television, and Mueller also noted a disturbing pattern of encrypted messages, destroyed messages, and witnesses such as Donald Trump who refused to testify. (The very sort of thing – “Hillary’s e-mails” that Trump ranted on about for years). If multiple investigations were good for Hillary, I can’t think of anyone more deserving, and obviously criminal, than Donald Trump.


William Case, Robert Mueller memorialized with his two letters to AG Barr that Barr had mischaracterized the report and asked that he include executive summaries that were prepared purposely for release to the public. Mueller did not exonetate Trump. The special counsel’s report instructs Congress how to proceed in holding Trump accountable for obstruction of justice.

Max Boot, Washington Post: “I am in despair as I have never been before about the future of our experiment in self-rule… This nation is at the mercy of a criminal administration.”


Max Boot’s column today in the Washington Post details the fall of our democratic government as exposed by the testimony of William Barr before the Senate on Thursday.  He who must not be named has advanced the position (through his Attorney General) that he is above the law.  If he feels that he has been unjustly accused (he knows he’s innocent) he can shut down a special counsel’s investigation of his actions and not be obstructing justice.  Barr said, he “does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course.  The president could terminate the proceeding and it would not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused.”

This is reminiscent of the old Nixon formula: “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.”  Epic stonewalling is perfectly justifiable in his mind because he “just knows” he’s innocent of any underlying wrongdoing.  Those of us who have our doubts as to the legality of his behavior may be excused for their skepticism, but it’s clear to his narcissistic/sociopathic personality that he can do no wrong.

Max Boot concludes that there is little that we can effectively do to investigate the president, much less remove him from office, for the next eighteen months.  Unless a true smoking gun is found or tapes with his voice on them confessing his criminality, the Senate would never vote to convict him.  With his obstructive ability and the impotence of the House when it comes to enforcing their subpoenas, there is a good chance that no more information about his taxes or his business affairs will be unearthed before the next presidential election.

Thus his despair: “This nation is at the mercy of a criminal administration.”

(photo courtesy of

Michelle Brané (dir. migrant rights and justice program, Women’s Refugee Commission): “I think that the people making policy decisions don’t want [the system] to work … they want to create chaos.”


The strategy behind many of the decisions put out by the White House seems to be to create maximum confusion: gutting many agencies, leaving vacancies in critical positions, closing offices, cutting budgets, appointing heads of agencies who had been lobbying against them for years, reversing the policies of the previous administration at every turn.  Their agenda is described as “virulent” anti-immigration.  Another pretext is the addition of a citizenship question to the census; the forms go to the printers on June 30 and the Supreme Court is poised to allow the question despite evidence that the question will reduce participation and add a roughly 5% undercount.

Immigration (legal, that is) has plunged from 100,000 people in the last year of the Obama administration to 25,000 this year.  Additional layers of red tape have been added to programs that were barely functional to begin with.  A man with terminal cancer whose case was discovered while he was in prison was given perhaps 3 months to live; he was swiftly deported to a land that he hadn’t seen since childhood– where no-one was available to take care of him in his last days.  A physician practicing medicine in a shortage area was detained and deported over a twenty-year-old misdemeanor.

The White House has refined cruelty to a remarkable degree and maximized chaos in systems that were already on the verge of breakdown.  There is only a small step from here to concentration camps for refugees– indefinite detention has already been endorsed by the Attorney General.    It now takes as much as two years for an asylum case to be judged.  The practice of “indefinite detention” could mean that many or most of the 100,000 refugees who now surrender each month could be detained for two years and then deported.   This could mean as many as two million people in custody after two years– not just men but women and children as well.

No-one in the administration has made any effort to reduce the backlog of asylum cases by increasing the number of judges or streamlining the process.  Their efforts toward easing the backlog were limited to a tweeted declaration that refugees should not be allowed access to a judge to state their cases.  Apparently the judgement as to who deserves asylum is to be left to the arresting officers at ICE.  There seems to be a feeling in the executive branch that the US has no obligation to accept refugees– even when it is responsible for the conditions that created the refugees in the first place.

The latest wrinkle in the campaign of deliberate chaos is the discovery that there are 2,000 detention beds sitting empty while the Border Patrol claims they are running out of space and is releasing people to the street.  Charitable organizations have been overloaded with released refugees who need housing, food, and transportation to a safe place (many have relatives already in the US.)  The production of chaos has been maximized.

The alternative, humane strategy would be to determine what places in the US need an infusion of young people.  At first sight, there are many places in the Midwest where the population has been dropping for years, with the average age rising at the same time.  Resettlement of refugees in places where there has been a loss of population would make it possible for the immigrants to begin work at the jobs where they are needed, such as nursing homes.  Families from farms in central America could be integrated into farms in the US, benefitting the locals.

The point is that the United States can readily integrate refugees into areas in this country that have lost population due to movement of citizens to the cities.  There is no need to turn these people away.  There is plenty of room in this country for refugees.

(photo courtesy of and StockSnap)