On the difficulty of having the Department of Justice in the executive branch

Once upon a time, Hillary Clinton had an email server. And also, once upon about that very same time, Hillary Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State. And finally, once upon about that very same time, Hillary Clinton received and sent classified—including some very highly classified—emails on that server, all in breach of the law. The ensuing scandal, Clinton’s own obfuscation, and her probable cover-up dogged her throughout 2015 and 2016, when she was running for president. Then-Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey was in charge of the investigation and both his and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s handling of the the investigation and the publicity surrounding it sometimes seemed dubious, as he and the FBI were sometimes suspected of favoring Donald Trump. Comey eventually twice, after once re-opening the investigation, declared that Clinton couldn’t be indicted, which led a number of people (including me) to suspect he was letting Clinton off the hook for a crime that a lower-ranking person would surely have been indicted for.[1] She lost the election for numerous reasons, which is why Trump is now president. (I strenuously objected to both major party candidates.)

A Department of Justice Inspector General report now clears Comey of partisan bias[2] but suspicion of a conflict of interest dogged the investigation as people doubted that the administration of Barack Obama, a Democrat, would bring charges against Clinton, the mainstream Democratic Party favorite in the primaries for the presidential nomination, and even more so after she won the nomination.

Now, there is a not inconsiderable risk that Donald Trump will fire Robert Mueller, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, and a few other things that are turning up along the way.[3] Mueller’s investigation might not even have begun had Trump not fired Comey.[4] And in his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, Comey was attempting to navigate the appearance of Loretta Lynch’s conflict of interest.[5]

In two successive administrations now, the first Democrat and the second Republican, there has been a perception that a president or his administration might somehow intervene in or obstruct an investigation of a high-ranking member of the party. Neither would be the first: While I was still a teenager, Richard Nixon conducted what became infamous as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” as he fired top-ranking officials at the Justice Department until he could find one to fire the prosecutor investigating Watergate. And I’m not claiming that was a first either—this I simply don’t know.

But it’s clear that the Department of Justice lacks sufficient independence from the executive branch. And I don’t know the answer.

In some countries, like Spain, judges have investigatory powers but this only moves the problem of a conflict of interest from the executive to the judiciary. And at the moment there is reason to doubt that even if clear evidence against Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors” were to emerge, that a Republican or even, possibly after the midterm elections later this year, a Democratic-controlled congress would impeach. The legislative branch also fails.

The next presidential election is in 2020. If Comey’s investigation of Clinton seems an eon ago, imagine what two more years of Trump might be like.

I’m also skeptical of the possibility of creating a fourth, investigative branch of government. Jay Edgar Hoover, who presided over the national law enforcement apparatus for nearly fifty years, from well before there even was an FBI, until his death, is rumored to have kept “dirt” on numerous politicians. It’s hard not to suspect his hand in an ominous letter sent to encourage Martin Luther King, Jr., to commit suicide.[6] If Germans fear any revival of the East German Stasi, we should be at least as cautious about creating anything like what could much too easily become a secret police force.

But what we have right now isn’t working. And that’s a problem.

  1. [1]Spencer Ackerman, “‘The FBI is Trumpland’: anti-Clinton atmosphere spurred leaking, sources say,” Guardian, November 4, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/03/fbi-leaks-hillary-clinton-james-comey-donald-trump; Hannah Allam and Tim Johnson, “Clinton’s handling of email went beyond carelessness, experts say,” McClatchy, July 5, 2016, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article87848077.html?rh=1; Cooper Allen and Kevin Johnson, “New emails under review in Clinton case emerged from Weiner investigation,” USA Today, October 28, 2016, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/10/28/fbi-director-clinton-emails-investigation/92889594/; Associated Press, “Hillary Clinton’s emails, data erased from server before handed to FBI,” Guardian, August 19, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/20/hillary-clintons-emails-data-erased-from-server-before-handed-to-fbi; Associated Press, “Highlights of FBI notes on Clinton email investigation,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 3, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/highlights-of-fbi-notes-on-clinton-email-investigation/392234511/; Associated Press, “FBI announces latest Clinton emails don’t require further investigation or charges,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, November 6, 2016, FBI announces latest Clinton emails don’t require further investigation or charges; Rachael Bade, “FBI steps up interviews in Clinton email probe,” Politico, November 10, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/hillary-clinton-email-fbi-probe-215630; Rachael Bade, “Clinton aides unite on FBI legal strategy,” Politico, April 1, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/hillary-clinton-fbi-strategy-emails-221435; Rachael Bade, “5 ways Comey contradicted Clinton’s email claims,” Politico, July 5, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/hillary-clinton-emails-comey-225121; Rachael Bade and Josh Gerstein, “Hillary Clinton camp: Email ‘thumb drive is secure’,” Politico, July 30, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/hillary-clinton-email-thumbdrive-security-120833.html; Rachael Bade and Josh Gerstein, “Watchdog: Clinton’s server had classified material beyond ‘top secret,'” Politico, January 19, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/hillary-clinton-email-server-top-secret-217985; Rachael Bade and Josh Gerstein, “Judge rules Clinton staff can be questioned about emails,” Politico, February 23, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-staff-questioned-email-219678; Rachael Bade and Louis Nelson, “FBI hands over Clinton email probe documents to Congress,” Politico, August 16, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/fbi-clinton-email-documents-to-congress-227069; Devlin Barrett, “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe,” Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/laptop-may-include-thousands-of-emails-linked-to-hillary-clintons-private-server-1477854957; Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous, “FBI to Hand Over to Congress Notes From Hillary Clinton Email Probe,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/fbi-to-hand-over-to-congress-notes-from-hillary-clinton-email-probe-1471282035; Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz, and Gloria Borger, “Sources: Comey acted on Russian intelligence he knew was fake,” CNN, May 26, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/26/politics/james-comey-fbi-investigation-fake-russian-intelligence/index.html; Brian Beutler, “The FBI director’s pronouncements about Hillary Clinton were extremely unusual—and she has herself to blame,” New Republic, July 5, 2016, https://newrepublic.com/minutes/134865/fbi-directors-pronouncements-hillary-clinton-extremely-unusualand-blame; Michael Biesecker, “Clinton failed to hand over key email to State Department,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 24, 2016, http://www.startribune.com/clinton-failed-to-hand-over-key-email-to-state-department/384235951/; Bill Blum, “Could a President Hillary Clinton Be Impeached Over Her Emails?” Truthdig, February 9, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/could_a_president_hillary_clinton_be_impeached_over_her_emails_20160209; Bill Blum, “In a Rigged System, Hillary Clinton Is Too Big to Indict,” Truthdig, October 28, 2016, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/is_hillary_clinton_too_big_to_indict_20160705; Jordain Carney, “Top Republican questions Lynch on Clinton Foundation probe,” Hill, August 12, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/291240-top-goper-questions-lynch-on-clinton-foundation-probe; Chris Cillizza, “Hillary Clinton’s e-mail issues have become a massive political problem,” Washington Post, September 14, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/09/14/hillary-clintons-e-mail-issues-have-grown-into-a-massive-political-problem/; Chris Cillizza, “Hillary Clinton STILL doesn’t have a good answer for questions about her emails,” Washington Post, January 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/26/hillary-clinton-still-doesnt-have-a-good-answer-for-questions-about-her-emails/; 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DePetris, “The End of the Beginning of Hillary Clinton’s Email Problem,” National Interest, July 5, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/the-end-the-beginning-hillary-clintons-email-problem-16856; Ken Dilanian, “Investigators found classified information in Clinton’s email, but what does that mean?,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, July 31, 2015, http://www.startribune.com/what-s-considered-classified-is-a-judgment-call/320244911/; Stephen Dinan, “State Dept. concedes ‘gaps’ in Clinton email record; could result in perjury charge,” Washington Times, September 14, 2015, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/14/state-dept-cites-gaps-hillary-clinton-email-record/; Stephen Dinan, “Judge: State Dept. ‘lackadaisical’ in processing Clinton files,” Washington Times, November 10, 2015, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/nov/10/judge-state-lackadaisical-processing-clinton-files/; Stephen Dinan, “Judge suspects ‘bad faith’ from Obama administration on Hillary Clinton emails,” Washington Times, February 23, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/feb/23/judge-threatens-subpoena-against-clinton-emails/; Stephen Dinan, “State Dept: Review of Clinton secret emails may wait until after November election,” Washington Times, March 1, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/1/review-clinton-emails-may-come-after-election/; Stephen Dinan, “Judge orders feds to release details of Clinton email probe after FBI refused request,” Washington Times, August 31, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/31/judge-fbi-must-disclose-hillary-clinton-email-prob/; Stephen Dinan, “FBI says time crunch necessitated immunity deal for Clinton aide Cheryl Mills,” Washington Times, September 27, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/27/fbis-comey-cheryl-mills-immunity-was-not-irregular/; James Freeman, “How Comey’s FBI Treats Non-Clintons,” Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-comeys-fbi-treats-non-clintons-1467890791; Nicole Gaouette, “Former Obama intel official: Hillary Clinton should drop out,” CNN, February 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/12/politics/hillary-clinton-michael-flynn-email-fbi-investigation/index.html; Nick Gass, “Democratic rep: Clinton email flap ‘could upend her campaign’,” Politico, August 20, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/john-yarmuth-hillary-clinton-email-2016-campaign-121555.html; Nick Gass, Josh Gerstein, and Rachael Bade, “Obama drawn into Clinton email controversy,” Politico, October 30, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/hillary-clinton-emails-classified-release-215359; Josh Gerstein, “Source: Key Clinton emails did not contain highly classified secrets,” Politico, November 6, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/hillary-clinton-email-no-highly-classified-215599; Josh Gerstein, “Intelligence agencies say 2 Clinton emails were ‘top secret,’ but one is no longer,” Politico, December 15, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/hillary-clinton-emails-top-secret-216802; Josh Gerstein, “Judge irked by State Dept.’s delay in releasing rest of Clinton’s emails,” Politico, February 9, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/judge-holds-hearing-on-clinton-email-delays-219004; Josh Gerstein, “State Dept. marks three more Clinton emails at ‘secret’ level,” Politico, February 13, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-emails-secret-level-219241; Josh Gerstein, “FBI’s Comey: I feel ‘pressure’ to quickly finish Clinton email probe,” Politico, May 11, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/hillary-clinton-email-investigation-fbi-james-comey-223071; Josh Gerstein, “Comey denies Clinton email ‘Reddit’ cover-up,” Politico, September 28, 2016, http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2016/09/clinton-email-reddit-james-comey-228832; Josh Gerstein, “Comey on Clinton email probe: ‘Don’t call us weasels,'” Politico, September 28, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/james-comey-not-weasels-clinton-email-228835; Josh Gerstein and Nick Gass, “Clinton’s email woes deepen as classified messages pile up,” Politico, September 30, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/hillary-clinton-email-state-department-release-214246; Charles E. Grassley and Lindsey O. Graham, “Transcripts: Comey Drafted Conclusion in Clinton Probe Prior to Interviewing Key Witnesses,” August 31, 2017, https://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/transcripts-comey-drafted-conclusion-clinton-probe-prior-interviewing-key; Julian Hattem, “Clinton may not have turned over all her emails,” Hill, September 25, 2015, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/254980-clinton-may-not-have-turned-over-all-her-emails; Julian Hattem, “FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation not letting up,” Hill, January 28, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/267269-fbis-clinton-investigation-not-letting-up; Julian Hattem, “Pressure on Lynch to step aside in Clinton email probe,” Hill, February 8, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/268456-pressure-on-lynch-to-step-aside-in-clinton-email-probe; Julian Hattem, “CIA leaker: Clinton ‘given a pass’ for emails,” Hill, February 22, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/270271-cia-leaker-clinton-given-a-pass-for-emails; Julian Hattem, “Lost emails from Clinton server discovered,” Hill, March 24, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/274230-lost-emails-discovered-from-clintons-server; Julian Hattem, “Decision time for FBI on Clinton,” Hill, May 8, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/279077-decision-time-for-fbi-on-clinton; Julian Hattem, “Justice’s reputation hangs in balance of Clinton probe,” Hill, May 11, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/279455-justices-reputation-hangs-in-balance-of-clinton-probe; Julian Hattem, “Clinton email headache is about to get worse,” Hill, May 28, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/281554-clinton-email-headache-is-about-to-get-worse; Jon Gabriel, “Hillary Clinton: Too Big to Jail,” Ricochet, July 5, 2016, https://ricochet.com/hillary-clinton-too-big-to-jail/; Evan Halper, “Federal investigators want Justice Department probe of Hillary Clinton emails,” Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-clinton-email-20150724-story.html; Julian Hattem, “Clinton’s IT aide keeps email server shrouded in mystery,” Hill, June 5, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/282188-clintons-it-aide-keeps-email-server-shrouded-in-mystery; Julian Hattem, “Lynch pressured to recuse herself after Clinton tarmac meeting,” Hill, July 1, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286202-lynch-pressured-to-recuse-herself-after-clinton-tarmac-meeting; Julian Hattem, “FBI director takes center stage in Clinton email case,” Hill, July 2, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286349-fbi-director-takes-center-stage-in-clinton-email-case; Julian Hattem, “FBI recommends no charges against Clinton,” Hill, July 5, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286472-fbi-no-charges-against-clinton; Julian Hattem, “Seven ways FBI contradicted Clinton’s email claims,” Hill, July 9, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/287052-seven-ways-fbi-contradicted-clintons-email-claims; Julian Hattem, “State Department to release all of Clinton’s deleted emails,” Hill, August 16, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/291610-state-dept-to-release-all-clintons-deleted-emails; Julian Hattem, “GOP preps tough perjury case against Clinton,” Hill, August 19, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/291884-gop-preps-tough-perjury-case-against-clinton; Julian Hattem, “FBI director, House GOP face off in dramatic hearing,” Hill, July 7, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286821-fbi-head-clinton-had-no-intent-to-break-law-leading-to-no-charges; Julian Hattem, “Poll: Majority believes Clinton broke the law,” Hill, July 15, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/287884-huge-majority-believes-clinton-either-broke-law-or-made-poor; Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, “Clinton, on her private server, wrote 104 emails the government says are classified,” Washington Post, March 5, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-on-her-private-server-wrote-104-emails-the-government-says-are-classified/2016/03/05/11e2ee06-dbd6-11e5-81ae-7491b9b9e7df_story.html; Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Carol D. Leonnig, “Tech company: No indication that Clinton’s e-mail server was ‘wiped’,” Washington Post, September 13, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tech-company-no-indication-that-clintons-e-mail-server-was-wiped/2015/09/12/10c8ce52-58c6-11e5-abe9-27d53f250b11_story.html;  Mark Hensch, “Poll: Majority believe Clinton lied about emails,” Hill, August 14, 2015, http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/251192-poll-most-think-clinton-knowingly-lied-about-emails; Mark Hensch, “Some Clinton emails classified from Day 1: report,” Hill, August 22, 2015, http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/251719-some-clinton-emails-classified-from-day-1-report; Spencer S. Hsu, “U.S. judge orders discovery to go forward over Clinton’s private email system,” Washington Post, February 23, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/us-judge-weighs-deeper-probe-into-clintons-private-email-system/2016/02/23/9c27412a-d997-11e5-81ae-7491b9b9e7df_story.html; Spencer S. 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Memoli, “Hillary Clinton will turn over private email server to Justice Department,” Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-clinton-private-email-server-20150811-story.html; Harper Neidig, “Clinton interviewed by FBI as part of email server investigation,” Hill, July 2, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286366-clinton-interviewed-at-fbi-headquarters-over-server; Next Web, “Hillary Clinton email saga continues as 33,000 erased emails may not be ‘missing’ after all,” October 26, 2016, http://thenextweb.com/politics/2016/10/26/hillary-clinton-email-saga-continues/; Peter Nicholas and Byron Tau, “Email Questions Haunt Hillary Clinton,” Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/email-questions-haunt-hillary-clinton-1470958940; Kelly J. O’Brien, “Answers to all the questions journalists might have about Hillary Clinton’s emails,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 5, 2015, http://www.cjr.org/analysis/answers_to_all_the_questions_journalists_might_have_about_hillary_clintons_emails.php; Robert O’Harrow, Jr., “How Clinton’s email scandal took root,” Washington Post, March 27, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/how-clintons-email-scandal-took-root/2016/03/27/ee301168-e162-11e5-846c-10191d1fc4ec_story.html; Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, and Shimon Prokupecz, “FBI interviews Clinton aides including Huma Abedin as part of email probe,” CNN, May 5, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/05/politics/fbi-interviews-huma-abedin-clinton-aide/index.html; Paul Pillar, “The Clinton Emails: What Is and Is Not Damaging,” National Interest, February 9, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/the-clinton-emails-what-not-damaging-15160; Nadia Prupis, “Government Report on Clinton Email Scandal Much Worse Than Expected,” Common Dreams, May 25, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/25/government-report-clinton-email-scandal-much-worse-expected; Reuters, “Clinton emails: records suggest state department pressured FBI,” Guardian, October 18, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/18/hillary-clinton-emails-records-suggest-state-department-put-pressure-on-fbi; Valerie Richardson, “Pagliano’s immunity deal could indicate grand jury probe into Clinton email server,” Washington Times, March 3, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/3/brian-paglianos-immunity-deal-could-indicate-hilla/; Sean J. Rosenthal, “The Shoddy Legal Reasoning Used to Clear Clinton,” Foundation for Economic Education, July 7, 2016, https://fee.org/articles/the-shoddy-legal-reasoning-used-to-clear-clinton/; John R. Schindler, “Game Over: EmailGate Just Crippled the Clinton Express,” Observer, May 26, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/05/game-over-emailgate-just-crippled-the-clinton-express/; Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo, “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” New York Times, July 23, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/24/us/politics/criminal-inquiry-is-sought-in-hillary-clinton-email-account.html; Jack Shafer, “Hillary’s Drip-Drip-Drip Email Scandal,” Politico, August 19, 2015, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/08/hillarys-drip-drip-drip-email-scandal-121546.html; John Solomon, “Congressional investigators find irregularities in FBI’s handling of Clinton email case,” Hill, January 2, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/367141-congressional-investigators-find-irregularities-in-fbis-handling-of; Jonathan Swan, “Clinton on being indicted over emails: ‘It’s not going to happen,'” Hill, March 9, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/dem-primaries/debate-hillary-clinton-indicted-email-drop-out-not-going-to-happen-jorge-ramos; James Taranto, “Laws Are for Little People,” Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/laws-are-for-little-people-1467742661; Byron Tau, “Emails Are Likely to Keep Complicating Hillary Clinton’s Campaign,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/emails-are-likely-to-keep-complicating-hillary-clintons-campaign-1463001566; Byron Tau, “Watchdog Faults Hillary Clinton’s Email Practices at State Department,” Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/watchdog-faults-hillary-clinton-email-practices-at-state-department-1464188308; Byron Tau, “Most of Clinton’s Recovered Emails Will Be Released After Election Day,” Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/most-of-clintons-recovered-emails-will-be-released-after-election-day-1474650119; Byron Tau and Peter Nicholas, “Hillary Clinton Emails Had a Two-Month Gap,” Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clinton-emails-had-a-two-month-gap-1443647120; Trevor Timm, “Sorry, Hillary Clinton fans: her email errors are definitely newsworthy,” Guardian, August 1, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/01/hillary-clinton-email-errors-newsworthy; Hanna Trudo, “FBI could leak Clinton email investigation, Grassley warns,” Politico, April 22, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/hillary-clinton-emails-chuck-grassley-fbi-leak-222345; Jonathan Turley, “Clinton: ‘Pretty Clear’ No Emails Were Classified Despite Contrary Findings Of Inspector General,” July 26, 2015, http://jonathanturley.org/2015/07/26/clinton-pretty-clear-no-emails-were-classified-despite-contrary-findings-of-inspector-general/; Jonathan Turley, “State Department Classifies Dozens of Additional Clinton Emails,” August 3, 2015, http://jonathanturley.org/2015/08/03/state-department-classifies-dozens-of-additional-clinton-emails/; Jonathan Turley, “The State Department Flags More Than 300 Clinton Emails As Possibly Classified,” August 18, 2015, http://jonathanturley.org/2015/08/18/the-state-department-flags-more-than-300-clinton-emails-as-possibly-classified/; Jonathan Turley, “Federal Judge Says Hillary Clinton Violated Government Policy In Using Personal Server While Secretary of State,” August 21, 2015, http://jonathanturley.org/2015/08/21/federal-judge-says-hillary-clinton-violated-government-policy-in-using-personal-server-while-secretary-of-state/; Jonathan Turley, “Former Clinton Aide To Invoke The Fifth Amendment In Refusing To Testify On Email Scandal,” September 3, 2015, http://jonathanturley.org/2015/09/03/former-clinton-aide-to-invoke-the-fifth-amendment-in-refusing-to-testify-on-email-scandal/; Jonathan Turley, “Inspector General: Clinton Emails Contain Special Access Material Above The Top Secret Level,” January 20, 2016, http://jonathanturley.org/2016/01/20/inspector-general-clinton-emails-contain-special-access-material-above-the-top-secret-level/; Jonathan Turley, “Report: Clinton Emails Contained Human Intelligence Classified At Highest Levels,” January 23, 2016, http://jonathanturley.org/2016/01/23/report-clinton-emails-contained-human-intelligence-classified-at-highest-levels/; Jonathan Turley, “State Department: 22 Emails Will Not Be Released As ‘Top Secret,'” January 29, 2016, http://jonathanturley.org/2016/01/29/state-department-22-emails-will-not-be-released-as-top-secret/; Jonathan Turley, “Report: Clinton Emails Contained ‘Operational’ Information and Put Lives At Risk,” February 1, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/02/01/report-clinton-emails-contained-operational-information-and-put-lives-at-risk/; Jonathan Turley, “Federal Court Orders Discovery Into The Clinton Emails And Suggests The Possibility of Subpoenas To Force Disclosures,” February 24, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/02/24/federal-court-orders-discovery-into-the-clinton-emails-and-suggests-the-possibility-of-subpoenas-to-force-disclosures/; Jonathan Turley, “Clinton Declares That She Will Never Be Indicted And Insists That Her “Predecessors Did The Same Thing” On Emails,” March 10, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/03/10/clinton-declares-that-she-will-never-be-indicted-and-insists-that-her-predecessors-did-the-same-thing-on-emails/; Jonathan Turley, “Clinton Aides Agree To Be Represented By The Same Lawyer In Answering Questions On Email Scandal,” April 3, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/04/03/clinton-aides-agree-to-be-represented-by-the-same-lawyer-in-answering-questions-on-email-scandal/; Jonathan Turley, “‘We Do Investigations Here At The FBI’: FBI Director Reportedly Contradicts Clinton On Email Investigation,” May 11, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/05/11/we-do-investigations-here-at-the-fbi-fbi-director-reportedly-contradicts-clinton-on-email-investigation/; Jonathan Turley, “State Department Refutes Key Statements By Clinton On Email Scandal; Finds That She Violated Clear Rules,” May 26, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/05/26/state-department-refutes-key-statements-by-clinton-on-email-scandal-finds-that-she-knowingly-violated-rules/; Jonathan Turley, “‘The Mystery Emails’: State Department Report References Key Emails That Were Not Previously Turned Over,” May 27, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/05/27/the-mystery-emails-state-department-report-references-key-emails-that-were-not-previously-turned-over/; Jonathan Turley, “New Evidence Indicates Multiple Hacking Attempts and the Disabling Of Security Protections For Clinton Server,” June 24, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/06/24/new-evidence-indicates-multiple-hacking-attempts-and-the-disabling-of-security-protections-for-clinton-server/; Jonathan Turley, “ABC/Washington Post Poll: 56 Percent of Voters Believe That Hillary Clinton Should Have Been Charged After FBI Investigation,” July 12, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/07/12/abcwashington-post-poll-56-percent-of-voters-believe-that-hillary-clinton-should-have-been-charged-by-the-fbi/; Jonathan Turley, “Clinton Admits That It Is ‘Fair’ To Question Her Truthfulness But Then Denies That The FBI Found That Any Of Her Emails Were Classified,” August 1, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/08/01/clinton-admits-that-it-is-fair-to-question-her-truthfulness-but-then-denies-that-the-fbi-found-that-any-of-her-emails-were-classified/; Jonathan Turley, “Newly Released FBI Records Raises Question of Intentional Destruction of Evidence By Clinton Staff,” September 6, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/09/06/newly-released-fbi-records-raises-question-of-intentional-destruction-of-evidence-by-clinton-staff/; Jonathan Turley, “The Curious Role Of Cheryl Mills As Both Witness and Lawyer In The FBI Investigation,” September 7, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/09/07/the-curious-role-of-cheryl-mills-as-both-witness-and-lawyer-in-the-fbi-investigation/; Jonathan Turley, “Clinton Contractor Who Reportedly Destroyed Emails After Preservation Order Was Given Immunity By FBI,” September 9, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/09/09/clinton-contractor-who-reportedly-destroyed-emails-after-preservation-order-was-given-immunity-by-fbi/; Jonathan Turley, “Stonetear’s Secret: Immunized Former Clinton Aide Allegedly Sought Advice On Removing Email Address For ‘Very VIP’ Official,” September 21, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/09/21/stonetears-secret-immunized-former-clinton-aide-allegedly-sought-advice-on-removing-email-address-for-very-vip-official/; Jonathan Turley, “House Committee: FBI Cut Side Deal To Limit Search Of Computers Of Key Clinton Aides And To Allow The Computers To Be Destroyed,” October 4, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/10/04/house-committee-fbi-cut-side-deal-to-limit-search-of-computers-of-key-clinton-aides-and-to-allow-the-computers-to-be-destroyed/; Jonathan Turley, “Quid Pro Quo: Top State Department Official Offered Deal To FBI If It Would Change Classification Of Clinton Emails,” October 18, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/10/18/quid-pro-quo-top-state-department-official-offered-deal-to-fbi-if-it-would-change-classification-of-clinton-emails/; Jonathan Turley, “‘They Wanted To Get Away With It’: Newly Released Emails Show Raising Concern Over Clinton Aides Withholding Information On Email Scandal,” October 26, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/10/26/they-wanted-to-get-away-with-it-newly-released-emails-show-raising-concern-over-clinton-aides-withholding-information-on-email-scandal/; Jonathan Turley, “Comey Sends Letter To Congress Citing New Evidence (and An Investigation) In The Clinton Email Scandal,” October 28, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/10/28/comey-sends-letter-to-congress-citing-new-evidence-and-an-investigation-in-the-clinton-email-scandal/; Jonathan Turley, “Reid Alleges That Comey May Have Violated Federal Law In Disclosure To Congress,” October 31, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/10/31/reid-alleges-that-comey-may-have-committed-crime-in-disclosure-to-congress/; Jonathan Turley, “High-Ranking Justice Official Involved In Email Investigation Found To Have Close Friendship and Ties With Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta,” November 2, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/11/02/high-ranking-justice-official-involved-in-email-investigation-found-to-have-close-friendship-and-ties-with-clinton-campaign-chairman-john-podesta/; Jonathan Turley, “FBI Director Comey Announces That There Is No Basis For Criminal Charges In Newly Discovered Emails,” November 7, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/11/07/fbi-director-comey-announces-that-there-is-no-basis-for-criminal-charges-in-newly-discovered-emails/; Jonathan Turley, “Something Borrowed, Something Classified? Leaked Emails Raise Allegations Over Role Of Chelsea Clinton,” November 7, 2016, https://jonathanturley.org/2016/11/07/something-borrowed-something-classified-leaked-emails-raise-allegations-over-role-of-chelsea-clinton/; Josh Voorhees, “Clinton’s ‘Classified’ Problem Just Got Worse,” Slate, August 31, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/08/31/clinton_s_classified_emails_state_department_says_august_release_includes.html;Wall Street Journal, “Clinton’s Email Jeopardy,” March 4, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/clintons-email-jeopardy-1457136207; Wall Street Journal, “The FBI on Classified Material,” July 6, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/notable-quotable-the-fbi-on-classified-material-1467847339; Wall Street Journal, “The Legend of Saint Comey,” September 28, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-legend-of-saint-comey-1475105155; Del Quentin Wilber, “Clinton email probe enters new phase as FBI interviews loom,” Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-clinton-email-probe-20160327-story.html; Del Quentin Wilber, “Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch defends meeting with Bill Clinton amid email probe,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-trailguide-updates-attorney-general-loretta-lynch-defends-1467311246-htmlstory.html; Del Quentin Wilber, “Lynch to accept recommendation of FBI, career prosecutors in Clinton email probe,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-lynch-clinton-email-probe-20160701-snap-story.html; Katie Bo Williams, “Pressure grows on Clinton aides to lose security clearances,” Hill, July 11, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/287070-pressure-grows-on-clinton-aides-to-lose-security-clearances; Katie Bo Williams, “Lynch: Clinton not investigated for Federal Records Act violations,” Hill, July 12, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/287397-lynch-clinton-investigation-did-not-look-at-federal-records-act; Katie Bo Williams, “Clinton hazy on server details in FBI interview, notes show,” Hill, September 2, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/294354-clinton-hazy-on-server-details-in-fbi-interview-notes-show; Katie Bo Williams, “Clinton IT aide pleads Fifth, skips hearing,” Hill, September 13, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/295620-clinton-it-aide-does-not-appear-before-oversight-panel-despite; Katie Bo Williams, “House panel looking into Reddit post about Clinton’s email server,” Hill, September 19, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/296680-house-panel-probes-web-rumor-on-clinton-emails; Katie Bo Williams, “Top Clinton aide granted immunity deal in FBI probe,” Hill, September 23, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/297465-top-clinton-aide-granted-immunity-deal-in-fbi-probe; Katie Bo Williams and Cory Bennett, “Immunity deal raises stakes in Clinton email investigation,” Hill, March 3, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/271718-immunity-deal-raises-stakes-in-clinton-email-investigation; Matt Zapotosky, Ellen Nakashima, and Rosalind S. Helderman, “FBI obtains search warrant to search newly discovered emails potentially relevant to Clinton investigation,” Washington Post, October 30, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-agents-knew-of-clinton-related-emails-weeks-before-director-was-briefed/2016/10/30/657ed266-9eb1-11e6-8d63-3e0a660f1f04_story.html
  2. [2]Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, “6 takeaways from the Justice watchdog report on the Clinton email investigation,” CNN, June 14, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/politics/takeaways-ig-report-comey-fbi/index.html; Chris Strohm, “Comey Broke From FBI Procedures in Clinton Probe, Watchdog Finds,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/comey-broke-from-fbi-procedures-in-clinton-probe-watchdog-finds
  3. [3]Alexander Bolton, “GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone,” Hill, March 20, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/379419-gop-leaders-to-trump-leave-mueller-alone; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Is Taking Out His Enemies And Turning Toward Robert Mueller,” New York, March 17, 2018, http://amp.nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trump-is-taking-out-his-enemies-and-turning-toward-mueller.html; Chris Cillizza, “The White House just let slip a big secret about firing Robert Mueller,” CNN, April 10, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/10/politics/donald-trump-robert-mueller-fire-fbi/index.html; James Hohmann, “Prospect of Trump firing Mueller keeps becoming more untenable,” Washington Post, June 16, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/06/16/daily-202-prospect-of-trump-firing-mueller-keeps-becoming-more-untenable/5942f946e9b69b2fb981dd36/; Victor Morton, “Mueller reportedly crossing Trump ‘red line,’ investigating Kushner’s business dealings,” Washington Times, February 19, 2018, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/19/robert-mueller-investigating-jared-kushner-busines/; Adam Serwer, “McCabe’s Firing Chips Away at the Justice Department’s Independence,” Atlantic, March 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/presidential-target-andrew-mccabe-was-just-fired-from-the-fbi/555857/; Niall Stanage, “Republicans fear disaster if Trump fires Mueller,” Hill, March 20, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/379230-the-memo-republicans-fear-disaster-if-trump-fires-mueller; Jeff Stein, “There’s now a bipartisan bill to protect Mueller’s investigation from Trump,” Vox, August 3, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/8/3/16090436/mueller-trump-bill-senate; Melanie Zanona, “Ryan: I’ve ‘received assurances’ Mueller won’t be fired,” Hill, March 20, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/house/379289-ryan-ive-received-assurances-mueller-wont-be-fired
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “The White House explanations for Comey’s firing are crumbling before our eyes,” Washington Post, May 11, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/11/the-white-house-explanations-for-comeys-firing-are-crumbling-before-our-eyes/; Philip Bobbitt, “The Comey Firing and the Rule of Law,” Just Security, May 9, 2017, https://www.justsecurity.org/40761/comey-firing-rule-law/; Josh Dawsey, “Behind Comey’s firing: An enraged Trump, fuming about Russia,” Politico, May 10, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/10/comey-firing-trump-russia-238192; Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima, “Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence,” Washington Post, May 22, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-asked-intelligence-chiefs-to-push-back-against-fbi-collusion-probe-after-comey-revealed-its-existence/2017/05/22/394933bc-3f10-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html; Michael S. Schmidt, “Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation,” New York Times, May 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/us/politics/james-comey-trump-flynn-russia-investigation.html; Jordan Fabian, “Trump’s warning to Comey deepens White House crisis,” Hill, May 12, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/333212-trumps-warning-to-comey-deepens-crisis-for-white-house; Andrew Prokop, “More and more reporting is suggesting that Trump fired Comey because of the Russia investigation,” Vox, May 10, 2017, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/10/15616344/trump-comey-russia; Andrew Prokop, “Trump has now admitted he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation,” Vox, May 11, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/5/11/15628276/trump-comey-fired-russia; Julian Sanchez, “Some Obvious Thoughts About the Comey Firing,” Just Security, May 10, 2017, https://www.justsecurity.org/40770/obvious-thoughts-comey-firing/; Byron Tau, Del Quentin Wilber, and Paul Sonne, “Acting FBI Head Says Agents Supported Comey, Contradicting White House,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/acting-fbi-head-to-testify-days-after-comey-firing-1494495005; Del Quentin Wilber, “Trump Sought Comey’s Loyalty, Ex-FBI Director to Say,” Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-told-comey-i-need-loyalty-i-expect-loyalty-ex-fbi-director-to-say-in-prepared-remarks-1496858755
  5. [5]Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz, and Gloria Borger, “Sources: Comey acted on Russian intelligence he knew was fake,” CNN, May 26, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/26/politics/james-comey-fbi-investigation-fake-russian-intelligence/index.html; Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett, “How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, May 24, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/how-a-dubious-russian-document-influenced-the-fbi-s-handling-of-the-clinton-probe/424132973/; Julian Hattem, “Lynch pressured to recuse herself after Clinton tarmac meeting,” Hill, July 1, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/286202-lynch-pressured-to-recuse-herself-after-clinton-tarmac-meeting; Katie LaPotin, “Witness to the ‘Secret’ Airplane Meeting in Phoenix Speaks Out – And It Does Not Look Good for Bubba,” Alexandria Independent Journal Review,” July 4, 2016, http://ijr.com/2016/07/642468-witness-to-the-secret-airplane-meeting-in-phoenix-speaks-out-and-it-does-not-look-good-for-bubba/; Andrew C. McCarthy, “Comey Confirms: In Clinton Emails Caper, the Fix Was In,” National Review, April 28, 2018, https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/comey-confirms-in-clinton-emails-caper-the-fix-was-in/; John Solomon, “Congressional investigators find irregularities in FBI’s handling of Clinton email case,” Hill, January 2, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/367141-congressional-investigators-find-irregularities-in-fbis-handling-of; Del Quentin Wilber, “Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch defends meeting with Bill Clinton amid email probe,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-trailguide-updates-attorney-general-loretta-lynch-defends-1467311246-htmlstory.html; Del Quentin Wilber, “Lynch to accept recommendation of FBI, career prosecutors in Clinton email probe,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-lynch-clinton-email-probe-20160701-snap-story.html
  6. [6]Beverly Gage, “What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals,” New York Times, November 11, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/magazine/what-an-uncensored-letter-to-mlk-reveals.html

The callousness of the moment

There is an occasional consolation in being sick. Yes, extremely unusually for me, I am sick, apparently due to having breathed too much of the ammonia in Patches’ urine when she soaked my clothing.[1]

More precisely, the consolation comes from being on the mend. My sinuses are finally clearing and my cough is productive. And I was awake at around 2 a.m. Continue reading “The callousness of the moment”

  1. [1]David Benfell, “About Patches,” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/06/10/about-patches/

About Patches

Update, June 10, 2018: After consulting with the rescue folks at Animal Assist, the successor organization to Lake Pet Rescue, I have agreed to let them take Patches for two or three weeks to get her back on track with the litter. After that, I am expecting to take her back. This is an option I was not expecting.

It’s been a real roller coaster ride for me these last few days as I felt compelled first to put her up for boarding at the veterinarian’s office last night and second to surrender her today. It’s unlikely she understands what’s going on either, so this is surely hard for her as well.


After Admiral Janeway, a cat who had been with me since 2003 died on February 9, 2018, I rapidly came to the conclusion that the best way I could thank her for being in my life and being such an awesome cat was to welcome another cat to a forever home.

So on Monday, the 12th, my mother and I went down to the PetSmart in Rohnert Park—all the other adoption agencies were closed—and adopted Patches, a tortoise shell calico.

Patches was in the first cage I opened. She immediately grabbed onto me with all she had, showering me with an affection that never dimmed and bringing a smile to a face that has smiled too rarely. This is a cat who has adorable down pat. I think somebody must have told her when she was a kitten to never forget how to do that.

She manifested ringworm a few days later, we put her up at the veterinarian for a long, long month while we deep cleaned the house and let people who are actually good at giving pills to cats give her her medicine. I went down every day that they were open to visit, sometimes just for a few minutes, sometimes for over an hour.

It was in triumph that we brought her home, but of course on the Saturday of a three-day weekend (Memorial Day), she started peeing on my bed. She had a urinary tract infection which we had her treated for but I guess the prominent—at least to a cat—effect of such an infection is painful urination. She associated that pain with the litter box and would no longer pee in the box.

It’s been a very long couple of weeks of astronomical laundry bills as she peed on my bedding and peed on my clothing but, after following all the advice I could, and after an especially catastrophic morning yesterday (June 9), I have been forced to conclude that I can no longer trust her in the house. I am giving her back to the agency we adopted her from.

To say this is an unhappy moment does not even begin to cover it.

To Patches: Thank you for all the love you offered me. I wish with all my heart I could have done more for you. Never forget that knack you have for being adorable.

I, Donald

Update, June 9, 2018: Neil Lloyd points to 1) essentially the scenario I describe in the first paragraph of this post, and 2) a “150-year-old [U.S. Supreme Court] case frequently quoted as the definitive authority for the president’s unfettered prerogative to pardon, Ex Parte Garland” which also established “that, at least in some circumstances, the limit of the pardon power can be a legal question,” by which he means that it is subject to court review. Such a use of presidential power, he notes, would “facilitate[] one or more crimes.” Accordingly, he calls for the Supreme Court to review the matter.[1] I’m unclear on who would have standing to bring this case but I guess somebody had standing to bring Garland.


It’s becoming much too easy to imagine waking up one morning to learn that Donald Trump has simultaneously fired Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice,[2] and has issued a blanket pardon for himself[3] and all who he perceives remained loyal to him[4] and were convicted or even face trial under Mueller’s prosecution or any of a number of legal challenges Trump faces.[5]
Continue reading “I, Donald”

  1. [1]Neil Lloyd, “Presidential Pardons Are Reviewable by the Courts,” Slate, June 8, 2018, http://amp.slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/06/the-supreme-court-could-review-a-trump-self-pardon.html
  2. [2]The suggestion that Donald Trump might fire Robert Mueller never goes away, even as Republicans try to convince themselves that he won’t: Alexander Bolton, “GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone,” Hill, March 20, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/379419-gop-leaders-to-trump-leave-mueller-alone; Jonathan Chait, “Trump Is Taking Out His Enemies And Turning Toward Robert Mueller,” New York, March 17, 2018, http://amp.nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trump-is-taking-out-his-enemies-and-turning-toward-mueller.html; Chris Cillizza, “The White House just let slip a big secret about firing Robert Mueller,” CNN, April 10, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/10/politics/donald-trump-robert-mueller-fire-fbi/index.html; Jonathan Easley, “Anger at Mueller burns hot on the right,” Hill, November 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/361610-anger-at-mueller-burns-hot-on-the-right; Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, and Benjamin Wittes, “Trump’s Effort to Fire Mueller: Reactions to the New York Times Report,” Lawfare, January 25, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/trumps-effort-fire-mueller-reactions-new-york-times-report; James Hohmann, “Prospect of Trump firing Mueller keeps becoming more untenable,” Washington Post, June 16, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/06/16/daily-202-prospect-of-trump-firing-mueller-keeps-becoming-more-untenable/5942f946e9b69b2fb981dd36/; James Hohmann, “Five takeaways from Trump’s thwarted effort to fire Mueller,” Washington Post, January 26, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/01/26/daily-202-five-takeaways-from-trump-s-thwarted-effort-to-fire-mueller/5a6aa8d130fb041c3c7d73cc/; Peter Nicholas, Aruna Viswanatha, and Erica Orden, “Trump’s Allies Urge Harder Line as Mueller Probe Heats Up,” Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-allies-urge-harder-line-as-mueller-probe-drags-on-1512748299; Politico, “Trump Tried to Fire Mueller. So What?” January 26, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/26/trump-tried-to-fire-mueller-so-what-216539; Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Matt Apuzzo, “Trump’s Lawyers, in Confidential Memo, Argue to Head Off a Historic Subpoena,” New York Times, June 2, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/02/us/politics/trump-lawyers-memo-mueller-subpoena.html; Niall Stanage, “Republicans fear disaster if Trump fires Mueller,” Hill, March 20, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/379230-the-memo-republicans-fear-disaster-if-trump-fires-mueller; Jeff Stein, “There’s now a bipartisan bill to protect Mueller’s investigation from Trump,” Vox, August 3, 2017, https://www.vox.com/2017/8/3/16090436/mueller-trump-bill-senate; Melanie Zanona, “Ryan: I’ve ‘received assurances’ Mueller won’t be fired,” Hill, March 20, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/house/379289-ryan-ive-received-assurances-mueller-wont-be-fired
  3. [3]Maegan Vazquez and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Preet Bharara says Trump pardoning himself would be ‘almost self-executing impeachment,'” CNN, June 3, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/03/politics/rudy-giuliani-donald-trump-pardon-himself/index.html; Morgan Winsor, “President Trump ‘probably does’ have the power to pardon himself: Giuliani,” ABC News, June 3, 2018, https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Politics/president-trump-power-pardon-giuliani/story?id=55611418
  4. [4]Del Quentin Wilber, “Trump Sought Comey’s Loyalty, Ex-FBI Director to Say,” Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-told-comey-i-need-loyalty-i-expect-loyalty-ex-fbi-director-to-say-in-prepared-remarks-1496858755
  5. [5]Warren Richey, “Mueller aside, Trump now faces legal peril from a host of sources,” Christian Science Monitor, May 11, 2018, https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2018/0511/Mueller-aside-Trump-now-faces-legal-peril-from-a-host-of-sources

Control over profit: Why to doubt that companies will overcome ageism

My last “real” job, a job I define as fulfilling the criteria in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),[1] meaning among other things that it actually pays rent, was at Axis Personal Trainers and Spa. Today, I think Axis has only one store (its first), in Menlo Park, but at the time, it was headquartered in another store in Mountain View, had another, struggling, store in Los Gatos, and had ambitions to expand to 100 stores by the end of the year (2001).
Continue reading “Control over profit: Why to doubt that companies will overcome ageism”

  1. [1]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm

Admiral Janeway, rest in peace

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Admiral Janeway, October 30, 2017. (Photo added to this post on February 12, 2018.)

I was noticing, this morning, as I turned to get up this morning, how much more spry Admiral Janeway, my cat, seemed than I. As I sat down at my desktop system, I think she brushed my calves with her tail, as she sometimes does, and I would have reached down to offer a pat.

She went outside, presumably, to find a spot in the sun and, having found it, went to sleep. She did not wake up. My mother found her this evening.

Authoritarian populism in the age of Donald Trump

Introduction: An almost willful ignorance on the Left about Donald Trump’s supporters

As I peruse social media, it is evident that there is a lack of understanding and, indeed, a lack of interest in understanding Donald Trump’s base. I can do little about the latter, though I’ve certainly tried.[1] The man is president, and for the time being, his party controls both houses of Congress. Sickening as it is, we have to deal with that reality and the products of that reality.

Which means that understanding the animus that Trump’s base holds for the rest of us is important. At the same time, as all this proceeds, I am gaining a richer understanding of authoritarian populism. Continue reading “Authoritarian populism in the age of Donald Trump”

  1. [1]Recent writings include David Benfell, “What’s the end game?” Not Housebroken, October 2, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/10/02/whats-the-end-game/; David Benfell, “Failing the test, again,” Not Housebroken, October 4, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/10/04/failing-the-test-again/

Tragedy for sale, at an eye-poppingly low price

I’m not quite sure why, but somehow I’ve recently started receiving real estate listings in my e-mail for the Sonoma County area. (I don’t view these messages as spam; I have registered with these sites in the past.)

You might have heard about the fires in this area, which were, if I’m recalling correctly, briefly the worst in (recorded) California history, until there were more fires in Southern California, all in 2017. It all seemed apocalyptic around here for a few days until, suddenly, and I’m still not quite sure how this happened, it all started seeming normal again. Continue reading “Tragedy for sale, at an eye-poppingly low price”

On the possibility of a President Pence

Update, January 18, 2018: There is, at this point, little reason to doubt that Donald Trump acts under some form of psychological impairment. But I added a footnote pointing to articles where this is discussed, including one published in the Times (of London) today.

Apparently, a certain Lee Camp shared this on Facebook about four years ago:
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This is, of course, a parody on social and traditionalist conservative opposition to sexuality education and contraception. Which is a timely thing to remember about as Donald Trump stumbles and stumbles and stumbles and because I think the Republicans will find a way to push Trump out by August for fear not so much of a Democratic wave in this year’s midterm elections but rather something more like a Democratic tsunami.[1]

Because if Mike Pence, now the vice president, ascends to the presidency, we might be in for a heavier dose of these attitudes than we’ve seen for awhile. I say that because I’ve tentatively and, it has to be said, more from a gut feeling than an actual compilation of evidence, associated Pence as traditionalist conservative. Traditionalists tend not to be prominent in politics, so this would be unusual, but they punch far above their weight in influence on conservative thought.[2] And of course they oppose abortion and sexuality education. They also oppose contraception and divorce. If Pence is indeed traditionalist, I would expect him to deploy the full power of the presidency toward a patriarchal (in even the minimum sense of that word), sexually-repressive, and misogynist agenda.

Would he be worse than Trump? I would prefer to say, pick your poison: I hardly need to describe Trump at this point beyond speculation that he might be removed by either impeachment or a 25th amendment process.

Pence, on the other hand, seemingly knows how to behave (as long as he isn’t alone with a woman who isn’t his wife), can (I’m being charitable here) be shamed. The shit-show of the Trump presidency would be at an immediate end. We might worry less that a raging delusional narcissist[3] has the nuclear command codes. But in some other ways, it will be an even scarier time to be alive, for down this path lies Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.[4]

  1. [1]Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Sean Sullivan, “New alarm among Republicans that Democrats could win big this year,” Washington Post, January 14, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/new-alarm-among-republicans-that-democrats-could-win-big-this-year/2018/01/13/9be31acc-f8a8-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html
  2. [2]I would suggest citation searches for each of two names: Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk. There are others, of course, but these two alone will begin to offer a sense of the scope of traditionalist conservative influence.
  3. [3]Update, January 18, 2018: George Simon does not name Trump but describes him in an explanation of “grandiose narcissism” in George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counseling Resource, July 24, 2017, http://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/ while John Gartner labels Trump’s condition as “malignant narcissism” which apparently (a paraphrase) “combines a narcissistic personality disorder, paranoia, antisocial personality disorder and sadism” in Rhys Blakely, “Are Donald Trump’s test results fake news?” Times, January 18, 2018, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/are-donald-trumps-test-results-fake-news-xxzgm6zxf See also Henry Alford, “Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!” Vanity Fair, November 11, 2015, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/donald-trump-narcissism-therapists; Aaron Blake, “The American Psychiatric Association issues a warning: No psychoanalyzing Donald Trump,” Washington Post, August 7, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/07/the-american-psychiatric-association-reminds-its-doctors-no-psychoanalyzing-donald-trump/; Matthew Goldenberg, “A professional opinion: You don’t need a psychiatrist to know there’s something wrong with Donald Trump,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-goldenberg-trump-mental-health-20160823-snap-story.html; Dan Hannan, “The real reason Donald Trump is unfit to be president,” Washington Examiner, May 16, 2016, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-real-reason-donald-trump-is-unfit-to-be-president/article/2591147; Bandy Lee, ed., The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President (New York: St. Martin’s, 2017); James Mann, “Damage Bigly,” New York Review of Books, December 21, 2017, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/01/18/donald-trump-damage-bigly/; John Noonan, “I was a Minuteman III nuclear launch officer. Take it from me: We can’t let Trump become president,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-noonan-trump-nuclear-20160809-snap-story.html; Will Pavia, “The psychiatrists’ verdict: Donald Trump is a man incapable of guilt, with inner rage,” Times, May 20, 2017, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/psychiatrists-verdict-on-trump-a-man-incapable-of-guilt-with-inner-rage-zsrlt707b; James Poniewozik, “A National Descent Into Trump’s Pants,” New York Times, March 4, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/arts/television/a-national-descent-into-trumps-pants.html; David Remnick, “The Increasing Unfitness of Donald Trump,” New Yorker, January 15, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/15/the-increasing-unfitness-of-donald-trump; Brian Resnick, “Psychiatry’s “Goldwater Rule” has never met a test like Donald Trump,” Vox, May 25, 2017, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/25/15680354/psychiatry-goldwater-rule-trump; Jennifer Rubin, “The ‘stable genius’ isn’t even functioning as president,” Washington Post, January 6, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/01/06/the-stable-genius-isnt-even-functioning-as-president/; Gail Sheehy, “At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their ‘Duty to Warn’ About an Unfit President,” New York, April 23, 2017, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/yale-psychiatrists-cite-duty-to-warn-about-unfit-president.html
  4. [4]Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (New York: Anchor, 1998).

Road rage

Note, December 20, 2017: Due to time constraints, I was unable to edit this posting when I initially published it. That editing is now complete.

I need to begin this with the trivial; road rage isn’t the product of any single provocation, but rather of myriad ‘micro-aggressions,’ which accumulate beyond a breaking point.

Case in point: I was driving through Sebastopol today. Traffic has gotten worse in town lately, and yes, traffic can and often does drive me nuts. But today really and truly was nothing unusual. Continue reading “Road rage”