We Can Make This Worse – Or Better

In 1974 Gerald Ford, the guy whose only professional ambition had been to one day be Speaker of the House, found himself to be President of the United States. That followed the crystal clarity of the breathtaking criminality of Richard Nixon that drove Nixon from office just ahead of a Senate impeachment posse. With Nixon’s disgrace on view across the globe and the passions in this country still white hot over Watergate, what would Ford do?

According to his public statement, Ford gave Nixon,

“a full, free, and absolute pardon…for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon .  .  . has committed or may have committed or taken part in”

Ford excused his accountability-killing action by saying that prosecution of the perp would,

“cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.”

And so Nixon avoided being held accountable. That left us wondering if the pardon was part of a shady deal that had made Ford Vice-President following former Vice President Spiro Agnew’s sordid bag man criminality and forced resignation.

In his third interview with David Frost, Nixon declared that, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” That stunning Nixon moment of Through The Looking Glass lunacy left many of us dumbfounded and enraged. This is the man who abused his power by ordering the Watergate break-in, obstructing justice, illegally bombing Cambodia and using the apparatus of government (FBI, IRS, etc.) to persecute everyone on his “enemies list.”

According to Nixon’s idiotic declaration, all of those crimes he committed weren’t crimes because he was President when he committed them. He was a self-serving, counter-factual, inherently evil man making a statement that matched his derangement. Yet Ford had pardoned him even before he was indicted, much less convicted.

The Nixon get-out-of-jail-free card wasn’t the last one issued. In fact it was modern history’s bedrock upon which an expanding avoidance of accountability has been built.

From 1985 – 1987 Ronald Reagan’s administration committed multiple crimes captured under the banner of the Iran-Contra affair. The basic framework was that a team headed by Vice-President George H.W. Bush sold arms to Iran, then funneled the proceeds to the Contras in Nicaragua to help them overthrow the far left government ruling their country.

The problem was that only Congress has the power of the purse, not the Chief Executive. As well, Congress had made specific law that prohibited the actions of the Reagan-Bush cabal. Once the illegal activity was exposed, we got an “Oh, golly” from Reagan, as he took responsibility in scripted Hollywood fashion, playing nothing more than a pretend role. The significant part came later.

Eleven administration officials were indicted, convicted and sent to prison for their Iran-Contra crimes. Both Reagan and Vice-President Bush were implicated in the scandal, but not a thing was done about that. When Bush became President he pardoned all of the convicts – on advice from his attorney general, William Barr. Yeah, that William Barr. And all the criminals were freed. So much for accountability.

Barr was and is a strong proponent of the “unitary executive,” the main point of which is the belief that the President, as head of his own branch of the government, is not subject to oversight or check on his actions by Congress or the courts. That theory would make a President a dictator, completely above the law and any accountability. Hello Viktor Orbán.

In 2004 George W. Bush told us that he was a strong proponent of that cockamamie notion, which is handy for him, because he had lied us into two intractable wars. And he refused to accept intelligence warnings before the 9/11 attack, leaving us completely unguarded and unprepared. And he led us into the Great Recession of 2008. When a CV includes such things, it’s good to have a Get Out of Jail Free card in order to avoid accountability.

Look at the progression:

Nixon sent out thieves and then obstructed justice and the Congress.

Reagan flagrantly violated the law and covered it up.

H.W. Bush pardoned all the criminals of the Iran-Contra affair.

W. Bush’s lies led to wars that killed hundreds of thousands and his dereliction of duty led to 9/11 and the Great Recession.

Lack of accountability does exactly what you would expect: it leads to greater and more harmful wrongdoing, because the message is that if you’re high enough in government you’ll never pay a price for your criminality or incompetence.

Which brings us to today.

The doomsday predictions of far right violence if Trump is indicted and convicted might actually come about. But what we know with certainty will happen is that if he isn’t indicted for his alleged string of crimes, like incitement to riot and sedition, obstruction of justice, election interference, wire fraud, money laundering, extortion, violations of the Presidential Records Act, lying to federal agents, violations of the Espionage Act and more, we’re setting the stage for – wait for it – worse things to happen.

Because as horrid as Trump’s alleged crimes are, if Trump gets away with them, the next President will do far worse, because s/he will know in advance that there won’t be a price to pay for breaking the law. We’ve seen the continuing descent into ever worsening lawlessness, so we know how this works.

And the next guy may be – probably will be – way smarter, more manipulative and far more clever than Donald Trump. That will be the moment when everything is lost.

But we don’t have to wait for that and then cry “woe is us.” All we have to do is to establish solidly that nobody – not anyone – is above the law. All we have to do is to hold Trump and his operatives fully accountable for every one of their might be, could be, likely are crimes.

Hey, Merrick Garland: got a minute to chat?


Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
Fire the bastards!
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
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  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Potpourri v10.0

Reading time – 4:31; Viewing time – 7:49  .  .  .

First, some stories you may have missed because of the torrential downpour of coverage of the primary elections and COVID-19. And don’t miss the BREAKING GOOD NEWS at the end.

First Story: Drugs

It is notable that our government is at least putting on a show of wanting to help people hooked on opioids. What makes it notable is that this is the polar opposite of the way we dealt with people hooked on heroin, cocaine, crack and other drugs. Those were commonly (but mistakenly) believed to be primarily a devil in communities of color. Instead of helping those people, they got locked up. But today opioids are slamming white people, so now we go all goodie two-shoes and they get help. Like I said: notable.

Now, A Justice Update

It was easy to miss the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC chickening out Friday before last. Nevertheless, chicken out they did, by refusing to rule on the House of Representatives’ lawsuit to force Don McGahn to testify. They chicken-clucked that they don’t have jurisdiction to consider the case.

You may recall that McGahn was the White House Counsel who twice refused Trump’s order to fire Robert Mueller. He resigned his post over that conflict. Regardless, he was caught in the net of Donald Trump’s baseless, unconstitutional assertion of absolute immunity.

Trump ordered everyone who could so much as spell “Executive Branch” to refuse to testify before House committees. McGahn received a subpoena from the House, ordering him to testify in committee hearings. He defied that subpoena and obeyed He Who Just Makes Stuff Up In Order To Serve Himself and the House sued to force McGahn to show up and testify. The District Court declared the obvious, that there is no absolute immunity and ordered McGahn to testify. The appellate court is the one that chickened out.

By saying that they didn’t have jurisdiction to consider the case they abdicated a primary role of the judiciary. They left no way to resolve disputes between Congress and the Executive Branch. All that’s left is a showdown on the National Mall at high noon between the House Sergeant at Arms and the Secret Service. It’s insanity.

And how very cowardly a way that is to refuse to hold the President accountable. The DC Court of Appeals has enabled this President to vastly expand executive power all the way to authoritarianism, and that’s exactly where he wants to go.

Thanks a lot, D.C. Court of Appeals, for your cowardice in selling out our democracy and the Constitution. Because of your refusal to bring Trump’s stonewalling to justice, you are, indeed, chickens. Buck-buck.

Have you noticed how pervasive is cowardice when it’s time to stand up to this lawless President? It has now infected all three branches of government and has allowed the continuing destruction of Constitutional protections.

On to the Elections

Here Are Three Take-Aways From Super Tuesday

First, it is impossible to overstate the importance and impact of Rep James Clyburn’s (D-SC) endorsement of Joe Biden. His passion, his gravitas and his clarity drove thousands of South Carolinians to the polls to vote for Biden. That tsunami of a win influenced voters across the country, as did the endorsements of Biden from Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke. But it’s more than that.

It’s also the highly energized, impassioned hordes of Bernie supporters who didn’t bother to vote. Sure, they show up at rallies for the sugar high, but when it counts, they’re nowhere to be seen. Further, their volume is out of proportion to their numbers. So much for the dramatically increased turnout of young people Sanders has promised. That’s the second point.

Third, and most powerful, this is a Watergate moment.

By the time the break-in, the cover-up, the investigations and hearings were over and Richard Nixon had resigned in disgrace, our country was reeling from Watergate. Passions ran high, nearly every other issue had been put on a back burner and the country was in pain and exhausted. We needed a way to calm down. Enter Gerald Ford.

Ford had been a congressman from Michigan forever. Everyone knew him as a really nice guy, a decent guy, an honest guy, a count-on guy. His big dream was to one day become Speaker of the House. Then suddenly he was President of the United States following Watergate. Perhaps his pardoning of Nixon was his notion of a first step toward calming the nation. Regardless, his calm voice was what the nation needed. But because he was tainted by association with the Watergate scandal, it wasn’t enough.

So, in 1976 we elected a preacher-style peanut farmer. Electing Jimmy Carter President was a complete divorce from everything Watergate and was what the nation most needed. We’re in that kind of moment now.

Beyond the well-earned anger over the destruction of so much of what we hold dear and our horror over the ongoing violation of our values, beyond a desire to set all of that right, we have a hunger for order to replace the chaos. We want an end to the vile language and the abhorrent behavior. We’d like to feel safe and just breathe normally once more.

And that is why so many people voted last Tuesday for Joe Biden instead of pugnacious Bernie Sanders. It wasn’t about policies at all.*

And Finally, The General Election

From this President, his supporters, SuperPACs promoting Trump, SuperPACs denigrating the Democratic nominee, the 501-c4s, slimy Republican operatives, foreign countries’ infiltration and infestation of social media to subvert our election, attempts to misuse parts of government, like false criminal investigations and all the rest  .  .  .

.  .  .  the Democratic nominee can expect filth, lies, false associations, fear mongering, muck making, more lies, voter suppression, plus nonstop lies.

The Democratic candidate will have to stand up to all that and more. He will continually have to focus the election to be a referendum on Trump, his lies, betrayals, incompetencies, his law breaking, his imperiling of our national security and his destruction of our democracy. The candidate must not become defensive or inappropriately angry as lies are spread about him, lies about his record, his qualifications, lies accusing him of illegal acts and personal lies designed to gouge out his heart. He’ll require a backbone of steel to stay focused on attacking Trump again and again. There will be no rest until November 4.

Oddly, people are fighting to get that job. Now, though, it’s our turn.

People are standing in line for up to seven hours to vote in their primaries. The wait is largely because of Republican voter suppression caused by the closing of so many polling places. Good on those voters for their fortitude and their insistence on doing the right thing in the face of Republican voter suppression.

When it’s your turn to vote in your primary and in the general election, get in line and stay in line, no matter how long it takes.

Do it to honor those who went before you, who stood in line all day to do a most American thing. Do it for yourself. Do it for your country.


Quote of the Week

Elizabeth Warren was “incredibly competent, pragmatic, intelligent and well-spoken — in other words, she never had a chance.” Seth Meyers


Thanks to the untiring work of the good foiks at www.Represent.US, the Virginia state legislature has put on the November ballot a proposed amendment to END GERRYMANDERING. The citizens of Virginia will at last have the opportunity to stop this politically manipulative practice that effectively robs the people of fair representation. Quoting Joe Biden as he described to Barack Obama the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, “This is a BFD.”

Click the pic to the left to have a look at the FaceBook page detailing this wonderful achievement. As well, go to their website and watch the video narrated by Michael Douglas at the top. And have a look at this most informative video Jennifer Lawrence narrates. I promise you’ll learn plenty


* See Bret Stevens’ column here. Many thanks to J.C. for pointing it out.


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.


The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Your Lyin’ Eyes and Impeachment

Reading time – 3.47; Viewing time – 5:20  .  .  .

The Mueller Report is out and I haven’t had time to go through all 448 pages, although you can do that yourself by getting the PDF from the DOJ website here. Click on the 4th line beginning “Report on the Investigation” for the download. Or if you prefer you can get an indexed and searchable version here.

There is big stuff in that report, including that the lack of indictments of the president is due to the Justice Department guideline that a sitting president can’t be indicted. Also, because so many documents were destroyed by various perps.

Nevertheless, Mueller let us know that he was unable to declare that the President of the United States isn’t a criminal. Stunning! My more chilling takeaway, though, is about Attorney General William Barr.

Barr was promoted as a legal institutionalist, even after his unsolicited, 19-page job application that made it clear that he believed that, metaphorically speaking, a president really could get away with shooting someone on 5th Avenue. That view works for Trump and Barr got the attorney general post.

In each of his public appearances and writings as attorney general, Barr has gone out of his way to exonerate the president. His rhetoric vacillates between cherry-picked, out of context phrases to outright lies all in favor of President Trump. Did he think we wouldn’t notice? In listening to Barr I’m reminded of comedian Richard Pryor’s line, “Who you gonna believe: me or your lyin’ eyes?”

The scary part is that Barr sounds like the president’s defense counsel, instead of the attorney for the Constitution of the United States of America.

In his piece in New York Magazine entitled, “Congress Should Impeach William Barr,” Jonathan Chait wrote,

“The Justice Department is an awesome force that holds the power to enable the ruling party to commit crimes with impunity .  .  .”

We should have seen this coming.

From The Onion, of course. Click the pic

Barr is the former attorney general for President George H.W. Bush. Barr recommended to Bush that he pardon the convicted Iran-Contra felons. Click through the link and scroll down to the Indictments section and you’ll see that these guys did a lot of really bad things, including thwarting the explicit will of Congress. You need to appreciate how significant that is.

Doing that is an attack on Congress itself, and it encourages an imperial presidency. William Barr cemented that by recommending those pardons. And now he’s defending this power grabbing, dictator wanna-be president.

If Barr is an institutionalist, exactly what institution does he serve?

Read more about this here.

And another thing .  .  .

Now that most of the Mueller Report is released, the talk of impeachment is spiraling upward. I’ve long called for the removal of this cheating, lying, fraudulent, self-aggrandizing, democracy damaging president, but now I have significant doubt about that notion.

President Gerald Ford set a woeful precedent by granting, “.  .  .   a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in .  .  .” Nixon got a free pass for his criminal wrongdoing and wasn’t held accountable in any way.

That is the precedent that Mike Pence will inherit should he become President. That means that our criminal president will likely be pardoned for any and all crimes which he may have committed (think: conspiring with the Russians to disrupt our 2016 election, obstruction of justice; money laundering; and fraud).

Further, if Trump were to be impeached, whether convicted in the Senate or not, he and the Republicans will wail about him being a poor victim, suffering unfair discrimination by the evil Democrats and the Washington swamp. That could lead to another Republican in the White House in 2021 and a Congress controlled by the same spineless legislators who are enabling Trump right now.

The solution that makes the most sense to me is to Benghazi Trump: just keep his wrongdoing in the public eye through November 3, 2020 with ongoing Congressional hearings.

I often have difficulty rationalizing the impact of the bypassing of punishment for wrongdoing in favor of some greater good, but this one looks obvious enough even for me.

No impeachment.


Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,


  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.


Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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