Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The D.O.J. - One Step Closer To Being Like The Nazi Reich Justice System?

Image result for brane space, Trump Hitler imagesNo automatic alt text available."To a frightening degree the masses themselves....showed a suicidal frenzy in breaking with their customary ideals, connections, parties, leaders. They looked on in silence as their political world fell into ruins, and tacitly acknowledged that a new, uncertain, but bold edifice was growing up. This was no sudden general flocking to National Socialism, but a cynical lack of resistance.." - Konrad Heiden, The Fuehrer, 1944,  p. 468.

For those who missed my Sunday update of the May 17th  post let be re-reference the key part here, as it is germane to the content of the current post:

As per a NY Times front page article ('Trump Demands Inquiry Into Whether Justice Dept. Infiltrated or Surveilled His Campaign') Trump tweeted earlier today:
"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes,  and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

This is a confirmation not only of Trump's obstruction of justice ("on steroids" as I put it- by using an investigation to stop an investigation - of him)  but also of Trump's declaration in 2017, in a NY Times interview:

"I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department"

Making clear in no uncertain terms that he is a despot, much like Adolf Hitler (when he took over the German Judiciary - which I will get to) and hence telegraphing that he doesn't believe in any independent judiciary. Now, while it is true that the Department of Justice is included in the Executive Branch of government, it is also true that laws passed since Watergate establish the D.O.J. as an independent entity within that branch. It cannot be otherwise, else the executive can manipulate the judiciary and defile the rule of law - as Hitler did. Trump's Sunday tweet and his earlier declaration disclose he is not of any different mindset from Hitler.

As many of us know, in the film 'Judgement at Nuremberg' the defendants were all members of the German Judiciary who had been co-opted by Hitler and made to act on behalf of the deformed laws of the Third Reich.  As the Wikipedia entry for the film notes:

"The film centers on a military tribunal led by Chief Trial Judge Dan Haywood (Tracy), before which four German judges and prosecutors (as compared to 16 defendants in the actual Judges' Trial) stand accused of crimes against humanity for their involvement in atrocities committed under the Nazi regime. The film deals with non-combatant war crimes against a civilian population, the Holocaust, and examines the post-World War II geopolitical complexity of the actual Nuremberg Trials."

In the film, the judges on trial for their crimes against humanity argue strenuously that they were only "following the law" as it pertained to the Third Reich. But as the prosecutors made clear, this law was a deformation of the actual rule of proper law, based on a foundational grasp of morality.

This elicits the question of what happend that changed the proper German law to the debased form?  To answer that one can do no better than to get hold of the superb book, The Fuehrer (1944) by then German journalist Konrad Heiden.  We learn for example (p. 566) that the first step the Nazis made was to convert the existing judiciary into their own handmaidens  This was done by "enlisting all the officials entrusted with the administration of justice - including the judges- into the National Socialist organization, e.g. The National Socialist Jurists"  which Hans Frank (Hitler's favorite lawyer) had founded.

Effectively then, the initial judiciary of the Weimar Republic became Nazi judges, i.e. National Socialist jurists, if they succumbed to the change and agreed to it. (One of the prosecutor's witnesses in the film was challenged by the defendants' lawyer how he could act so morally superior when he never refused to join the Nazi Jurists).   Heiden, for his part, observed (p. 567) "at least for a time some German judges tried to oppose the rape of the law by the National Socialist"  - for example declaring part of their mission was to "protect the weak". To which Herr Frank responded contemptuously (ibid.): "yes, previous justice did protect the weak and created a morality for slaves."

Ultimately, all this rhetoric and manipulation was to create the deviant judicial path by which Hitler could flout all the original laws and thereby destroy the rule of law in Germany. For example, Hans Frank echoed Hitler when he said (ibid.): "Law should not protect the weakling but make the strong even stronger."  This echoes Hitler's words (p. 257):

"If Germany should get a million children each year and eliminate seven to eight hundred thousand  of the weakest, in the end the result would be an increase in power."

The key point made by Heiden regarding the  Nazis' assault on German justice was:

"The German judges' backbone was broken down when the Government broke down the security of their existence."

This meant that the original tenure for life was abolished. In Heiden's words (ibid.):

"The privilege, designed to ensure the independence of the courts, was eliminated by the National Socialists."

This is important to note in order to make the analogous comparison to what is now happening here in this time, in the U.S. - under Trump.  While the judicial authorities of the DOJ lack tenure - there is still the expectation that they will exercise their authority independent of the executive and not become its political pawns.  As law professor Paul Butler, put it on 'All In' last night: "If Trump can get away with ordering documents, or an investigation for an FBI source, he can do it for anyone, even a sitting Senator."

Carrying on the rough analogy, did Rosenstein give Trump what he wanted? In one way, yes, and in other, no. In the former, Rod Rosenstein went through the motions and just tossed Dotard a bone by agreeing (in a way) by having Trump's twitter frets turned over to the Inspector General for parsing.  This would be roughly like the Weimar judges agreeing (in a way) to do Hans Frank's bidding but not joining the National Socialist Jurists.  Rosenstein absolutely did not give Trump what he really wanted - which was for Rosenstein to resign so Trump could them appoint a new deputy AG - as his personal puppet- to then fire Mueller. 

As former assistant Watergate special prosecutor Jill Wine -Banks put it on 'The Last Word' last night:

"I think Rod Rosenstein   played this exactly right. It's not an ideal world, because in an ideal world the president would not be demanding this.  In the ideal world the answer would be 'we only do this if there is probable cause and there is no probable cause here.'  In this case, we have to play chess with the president - who doesn't know how to play chess- and the fact that Rod Rosenstein is still the deputy attorney general is still a good thing.

I am still outraged the president is asking for this, and I don't believe the president or his base will like the answer when it comes out."

Which latter point makes it even more of an atrocity that The Wall Street Journal yesterday (p. A1) openly published the identity of the FBI source who acted as an informant on the de facto Russian agents, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos et al.  All this while also defending the rights of traitors like Devin Nunes to get their paws on further documents related to the FBI source (see editorial p. A16,) and eliding the Snowden affair with this.(To remind readers, Snowden never disclosed actual source names, but rather the extraordinary utilities, e.g. XKeyscore,  MUSCULAR, etc. that the NSA used to grab citizens' data without their knowledge and in violation of the 4th amendment.)

On the other hand, David Frum diverged  from Wine-Banks take, pointing out:

"Rachel (Maddow) said a very good thing, you respond to the lizard brain, you treat this as a confrontation with a dangerous predator. And you show it what you have. And maybe we're into constitutional crisis territory..  But this slow moving dissolution of normal expectations - maybe crisis is the wrong word - is a corrosion and a corruption,  We're all worse off than we were. At some point, someone is going to have to fight, and maybe today was that day."

I tend to concur with this - in the sense I believe we're at a critical inflection point- not too different in kind from when the Weimar jurists had to make the choice to become National Socialist, aka Nazi, jurists, or be rebuked and lose their positions. Once that 'Rubicon' was crossed - as Heiden notes - and the principle of equality was violated, then "homicide was no longer homicide and murder no longer murder."  In other words, when sanctioned by Hitler or the state, radical differences in kind emerged, and no punishments necessary if committed for the Reich.   This difference was punctuated when amnesty was declared for previous Nationalist Socialist murderers, e.g. who slaughtered trade unionists, Marxists, others.  Thus, the five murderers of Potempa were summarily released from prison, no questions asked.

Perhaps then, Jill Wine-Banks response to Frum is most germane here:

"David definitely made a very compelling case. This is something that concerned me since the election, And I think we saw in Hitler's day - people don't like that analogy - but he didn't change everything all at once, he ate away at the fabric of the society. A little at a time First it was one thing, then another extension, then another. So David's point is that's what we're seeing, one step at a time."

The key difference, as Ms. Wine-Banks noted, is that even if Rosenstein is fired - Mueller as well - the DOJ staff remain and can continue their work. But up to now we don't know if that will happen or not. (During Watergate, after the Saturday Night Massacre, public outcry spared the staff of Archibald Cox) So far, history's negative drumbeat marches on, and no one seems willing or able to turn back the Trump Despot Tide. If we don't, one way or other, we shall rue what transpires even as we cogitate on George Santayana's word: "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

Monday, May 21, 2018

Europeans Still Need To Confront The U.S. Over Scuttling Iran Nuclear Deal

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 "The truth is that the deal had frozen in place a huge reduction in Iran's capacity to pursue nuclear weapons. Trump's false assertion to the contrary comes at a high price, including a weakening of United States credibility in all of its future international negotiations, particularly with North Korea.  That collapse of the U.S. diplomatic reputation will also extend far beyond Trump; the fear that some equally erratic president might be waiting in the wings may take a generation to fade." -  David Goldfischer, 'Trump's Dangerous Decision On Iran', Denver Post, May 13, p. D1.)

Given that every sentient citizen now grasps the full folly of Trump's decision to back out of the Iran nuclear deal, including that the U.S. has now lost the moral high ground to Iran, e.g.

It ought to be incumbent on the European signees and their allies (e.g. China, Russia) to come full force to rescue the deal anyway they can, and trash or ignore all U.S. sanctions.  As reported by Michael Birnbaum in The Washington Post

"The European Union's chief diplomat took a defiant stance Tuesday after meeting with Iran's foreign minister and other top European diplomats to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal following Trump's decision to withdraw the United States.   Federica Mogherini, who negotiated the deal on behalf of the European Union, listed a string of proposals that taken together may not be enough to convince Iran's leaders to hold to the deal but probably will be seen in Washington as a raised fist against U.S. policy."

To which I say, terrific!  Or at least I did - before reading the WSJ  article (Saturday, p. A7) that both Angela Merkel and  Emmanuel Macron had gotten cold feet about challenging the U.S. Trumpies about sticking to the Iran deal. But they need to know the betrayal and rejection of that policy was spawned by a cabal of  international gangsters, grifters, swamp parasites  and traitors trying to pass themselves off as a legitimate government. Trump, the chief 'don' of gangsters and uber traitor (which will be proven after Mueller indicts him for conspiracy with the Russians to undermine and steal a U.S. election) was behind the torpedoed deal - which destabilizes geopolitics on a level that his reptile base can't begin to understand.

That is all the more reason for the EU and allies  need  to have acted to bust the Trumpie Imperium in the snout, and demonstrate there is at least one credible Western side that remains committed. This even while Ms. Mogherini admitted the EU is "operating in a very difficult context" especially given Washington's (aka the swamp's) ability to "strike around the world because of the reach of the U.S. financial system".

But this is why the spectacle of Macron and Merkel throwing their hands up instead of fighting was so dispiriting. Macron himself, as reported by the NY Times Friday- has become a subject of derision by 55 percent of French citizens for his fawning display on his visit with the Dotard in D.C.. This included letting the arrogant swine remove "dandruff" from his suit coat in a display of alpha male supremacy. Most Frenchmen were aghast calling Macron a "serf", a "stooge", Trump's lap dog and worse. Had he no shame, no pride? Plus they regarded him as a loser for doing all the posturing and getting nada. He, above all, could have shown he did possess some few milligrams of testosterone by putting up a fight. (Most French poll respondents didn't believe his subsequent, hard hitting speech to the U.S. congress was good enough to overcome the image of a submissive little whelp to Trump's Top dawg earlier.)

As for Merkel, she has much more power in terms of the German economy - i.e. we know it will be carrying a large surplus forward through 2020. She could easily have committed to a more powerful Iranian deal without losing any face. But I suspect perhaps she's terrified of the rising German "Alt" party nationalists,  especially after the flood of refugees that poured in by Sept. 2015. So maybe by not taking on Trump in an Iran face -off she hopes to curry some favor with the new brand of German fascists.

Or maybe, taking the kindest interpretation, neither Merkel nor Macron knew there were remedies despite the EU having tried them before and succeeded -  with the U.S.  I refer, of course, to the EU's use of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to defy the U.S. embargo against Cuba in 1996.   The WTO ruled in the EU's favor and the Yankee imperialists had to back off. The world's rejection of the U.S. position - including Europe - meant the D.C. "swamp" wasn't able to dislodge the Cuban government and the Castros.  And yeah, I have a dog in this fight - namely with the U.S. in its Cuba posture - given it was the CIA -abetted terrorist Luis Posada, e.g.

Who was responsible for blowing up Cubana Airlines Flight 455  off the southwest coast of Barbados on Oct. 6, 1976, killing all 73 on board. I  was at the Paradise Beach with my five nieces when it occurred. We witnessed the plane come down, and wondered what the hell had happened – then watched in horror barely an hour and a half later as bloody body parts began to wash ashore.  See also the video:
If you are not up to speed on the event. Certainly that act of terror is just as emblazoned in Barbadian neurons as the 9-11 attack for those in New York. Maybe worse,  since the scale of Barbados is radically smaller than New York, or the U.S. On a national scale of devastation, that Cubana Airline bombing took out a percentage of people equal to 0.03% of the total populace, while numerically as a % of NYC, 9-11 took out roughly 0.0001%. Thus, in purely proportionate numerical terms, Cubana 455 was much deadlier. But sadly, it's not on most citizens' radar - certainly not in the US Of A.

Anyway, that is why I fully backed the EU end around using the WTO of the then Cuban embargo. Not because I am necessarily a fan of the Castros, but because the Cuban nation suffered at the hands of U.S.-backed terrorists who've yet to receive their just deserts. 
The European governments have as much right now to protect their own companies and business interests vis-à-vis the Iran nuclear deal  -especially given France's Total SA and Airbus SE have billion dollar projects in the works that stand to be scuttled.   This despite the WSJ's  Dan Henninger recent caterwauling ('America's So-Called Allies' , May 16, p. A13) that the Europeans were "only in the Iran deal for the money they could get". To which my response was a pronounced, "Meh".

If the US. stood to lose such business does anyone believe it would stand idly by? Does anyone with more than air between the ears not believe it would jump at a similar nuke deal?  In addition, France's financial system still has $163 million in cross -border claims on Iranian banks as of the last quarter. - according to the Bank of International Settlements (WSJ, May 12, p. A3)
Another option would have been for the EU to draw up counter legislation to the U.S. and also order European companies to ignore U.S. sanctions, equivalent to the thumb in the eye of the Amerikkan Trumpie nationalists and warmongers.

Meanwhile, it's since been learned the U.S. "wants to restart nuclear talks with Iran" with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "outline a new strategy today" (NY Times, May 19, p. A8).  This would be nothing more than a brain fart effort given it "is centered around a demand  that the European allies have already rejected."   What is this hare brained scheme? It basically entails putting indefinite limits on Tehran ever gaining access to nuclear weapons. (Whereas the deal just scuttled set a ten year limit).  The plan is hare brained because the Iranian hardliners had even barked loudly about the original deal and 10 year delay. SO why would they now accept an "indefinite" postponement? Fact is, they wouldn't,  and the Europeans know that too.

This is why the  Europeans -  perhaps with Russian and Chinese help -  need to do something to beat aback the Trump- Nazi cabal.  The WTO gambit seems like the best bet, combined with alternate legislation to neutralize the Trumpite treachery.  It's an issue of essential peace, not to mention saving the U.S. from itself - given it's being run by money pirates, conspirators and gangsters.  
See also:

Why The Parkland Students #Never Again Movement May Founder

Image result for delaney tarr photos
Delaney Tarr, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland FL, three months ago, warned the NRA backing pols: "We are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action, demanding that you make a change!" 
People gather at the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. Galvanized by a massacre at a Florida high school, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to take to the streets in cities across the United States on Saturday in the biggest protest for gun control in a generation. (NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Part of the crowd which showed up for the "March for our lives" in Washington, D.C. two months ago.

No fully conscious citizen can forget how the Parkland #NeverAgain protest movement began with great fanfare three months ago, marking its high point with the "March for our lives" on March 24. The event featured stirring speeches from a number of the students whose Parkland FL school was the scene of the worst ever mass shooting for a high school.  In one of the first speeches, Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior Delaney Tarr told the crowd of the students’ demands, including background checks and a ban on assault weapons.

“When you give us an inch, that bump stocks ban, we will take a mile. We are not here for breadcrumbs, we are here to lead.

Before her D.C. march appearance, Ms. Tarr appeared a number of times earlier, including on CNN, and MSNBC, warning NRA-backed politicos that "we are coming after you".  She achieved much prominence, as did the other Parkland students  - including Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Cameron Kasky  - based on their poise, knowledge and ability to articulate the anxieties of millions of kids nationwide, trapped in an out of control gun culture. (An estimated 300 million guns are possessed by a minority of U.S. citizens.)

Parkland student Jordan Khayyami, 15, warned: “I think that legislatures should be aware that the next generation of voters is right in front of them so if they don’t want to promote change then we will vote for change.”

The scenes of  hundreds of thousands of activated students was overwhelming to many of the victims of earlier gun violence, including Mark Barden, whose seven-year-old son Daniel was one of the 20 children murdered at Sandy Hook in 2012, Barden told a reporter from the UK Guardian:

“I did not expect this. I’m still astounded,. To me, it looks like our entire nation is finally on board, on the right side of this issue. It’s so inspiring and encouraging and overwhelming, and beautiful to me.”

The students - including speakers from other gun-victimized high schools, e.g. in  D.C., Maryland, Chicago,  also took time to set up voter registration booths, to prepare as many 18-year olds and others eligible to vote this year as possible.

But what has transpired since the last marches in April? Not much, and this bespeaks why the #Never Again movement may now be running out of steam.   This also highlights the bane of too many incipient mass movements that begin with energetic protests but soon expire - especially in the modern era (including "Occupy Wall Street"). The cautionary note being that even the most sensational mass marches and activism are often interpreted in hindsight as merely temporary shows of enthusiasm.  

Indeed, as we discovered in the 1960s, it is extremely difficult to translate march protests into sustained mass movements that can change history.  In fact, for most of American history -  going back to the "Wobblies" in the 1920s and even before - it was understood that movements required months or even years of planning and effort as well as determined commitment. It couldn't simply be a case of rousing the masses to concerted action, then say going off to college and forgetting about them, or assuming they will organize on their own.

This is why starting in the mid 1960s one was often asked to be part of "the movement", which was understood to mean committing your heart, mind and soul to the work at hand and then showing up whenever and wherever bodies were needed. That included not only in march protests like the kids from Parkland put on, but also appearing in Southern diners alongside African American students - say in Birmingham or Jackson, Mississippi in the fall of 1964, or on buses as "Freedom Riders".

I learned early at Loyola, in September, 1964, at a rapidly- called meeting by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) that I was not cut out for such commitment.  I came out of curiosity to the meeting, held at nearby Tulane - with about 35 other Loyola freshmen - expecting to learn ways we could contribute. But when we were told we needed to board buses that weekend to go to Montgomery, Alabama as "Freedom Riders", many of us balked. For me it was a matter that I'd just commenced my college first year and was on scholarship - which I didn't want to risk. For others, it was that they simply didn't feel the amount of time  needed was feasible,  For others, it was a fear of actual physical harm since we'd already read of Freedom Rider buses being set on fire.

As it turned out, whose who joined in the CORE campaign were not seen at Loyola from the next year. The word was most had either dropped out to join the movement full time, or had been injured, or flunked out and left.   This brings us to the #Never Again movement.

Recall how two beat writers (Arian Campo-Flores and Nicole Hong)  on the staff of The Wall Street Journal wrote a stirring article ('From Shooting To Gun Control Movement')  of why these Stoneman  Douglas students were different, noting:

"The students at Stoneman aren't like those who witnessed previous mass shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, or Virginia Tech in 2007. They are digital natives, at one with the language and power of smartphones and social media.  That is one reason why the movement they started, dubbed #NeverAgain, has become a nationwide phenomenon in barely a few days, and shows signs of becoming the kind of campaign success that a company or politician can only dream of."

And this and other media attention naturally prompted vast expectations.  It prompted the expectation - especially after a number of states had enacted new gun laws in response  - that this was just the beginning. But one little element appeared to escape the attention of the movement optimists: Most of the Parkland activists were Stoneman Douglas seniors who were now in the midst of Advanced Placement preparations (the AP Calculus test, for example,  was last Tuesday a.m.) and are going off to college. How then can the needed motivation and commitment be sustained if one must take on new commitments? As many of us learned in our first year at Loyola, it can't. You can't honor two masters at the same time. If you honor your education with first priority you have to let full commitment to the movement go.

This is what Parkland's ambitious student activists are now learning and the rest of us as well.  That is, just dispatching social media texts  from an office and organizing to show up on the streets and in schools,  does not necessarily presage a movement or earn you enduring credit.  While jump starting a movement is easy, making it stick is a helluva lot more difficult - especially to translate into concrete change.

Make no mistake the latter has been achieved by the Parkland kids and victims, in terms of new state gun laws (see previous post), but much more could still be done - especially mustering the numbers to get 18 years registered to vote for the mid terms. Who will see this through?  What is possible, of course, it that the younger Stoneman Douglas students, e.g. 15 year old Jordan Khayyami and 16 year old Morgan Williams, can now take up the banner from their older peers.

If they don't, or can't - say because of time constraints or academic priorities - then the #Never Again movement that held so much promise three months ago, may now founder on the rocks of lower energy and inattention.

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