The Daily Escape:
Man of War Bay, Dorset, UK – 2019 photo by bluecalxx
Yesterday at lunch with long-time friend and blog reader Fred, he asked about what we have lost in the time of Trump. I answered that America has lost experiencing the difference between following the spirit, and the letter of the law.
We always have had politicians who cut corners, but they understood their obligations as servants to the community at large. They were people who understood that they had an obligation to represent the best of our ideals to the rest of us.
Politicians now stick (barely) to the letter of the law: “If it doesn’t say I can’t do it, I’ll just do what I want.”
But this age didn’t begin with Trump’s 2016 win. In 1973, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote “The Imperial Presidency” in which he argued that the power of the presidency had exceeded the limits set by our Constitutional checks and balances.
Schlesinger was focused on the Nixon presidency. Yet, for all his flaws, Nixon was unwilling to tear down our government to save himself. Trump has shown us that when a president is absolutely willing to cross the line of what we formerly called the spirit of the law, nothing holds him back.This is a deep flaw in our Constitution.
And now, 35 years after Nixon, our government might just get torn down by Trump and his sycophants.
On Thursday, Trump gave AG William Barr authority to conduct a review into how the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia were investigated. The intention is to portray Trump as the real victim of the Russia investigation. Trump also granted Barr the power to unilaterally declassify documents of the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies. More from the NYT: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“The move — which occurred just hours after the president again declared that those who led the investigation committed treason — gave Mr. Barr immense leverage over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation.”
The declassification process will be selective, in service of a predetermined narrative. Barr now has the ability to again control the narrative, much like his “summary” of the Mueller Report that mischaracterized the Report’s content.
And there won’t be any way to distinguish between selective declassification and flat-out lies. This is the equivalent of a judge who announces at the start of the trial that he’s going to allow every objection by the prosecution, while ruling against every defense motion. It will be a show trial.
“The mission he has assigned them: Fight to suppress documents properly subpoenaed by Congress to answer important public questions, then pick and choose US national secrets to defame career professionals who sought to protect the integrity of the nation’s elections against foreign adversaries who manipulated those elections in Trump’s favor.”
Worse, we the people will have to rely on the media to tell facts from spin without seeing all of the classified information. Information that caused the intelligence agencies to worry about the Trump campaign’s Russia connections in the first place. That evidence led them to request warrants. A federal court reviewed that evidence, and authorized and subsequently, reauthorized the warrants. Frum asks:
“Will that evidence be declassified?”
If you’re an FBI agent, and you’ve been chasing down what Deutsche Bank knew about Trump’s dealings with overseas oligarchs, and you hear that your ultimate boss, Barr, is about to investigate the investigators, you’re probably not sleeping well tonight. Particularly after Trump says that the investigators committed treason.
And that’s the point.
Time to downshift into our long Memorial Day weekend, beginning with that ritual we call the Saturday Soother. There is no need for coffee this weekend, we’re already overly amp’ed up by the news.
So, let’s move on to music to soothe the savage within. Find a comfy chair and your wireless headphones, and listen to a Mexican waltz, “Sobre las Olas” or “Over the Waves” by Juventino Rosas. It was first published in Mexico in 1888. You have certainly already heard the piece if you’ve been on a carnival ride. In 1950, the music was adapted for the movie The Great Caruso as the song, “The Loveliest Night of the Year”. Later, Mario Lanza recorded it, and it reached Number 3 in the 1951 US Billboard Charts:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.