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Professional Ratf*cker Roger Stone Has F*cked His Last Rat

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

WASHINGTON—Guilty.

Guilty, guilty.

Guilty, guilty, guilty and, did I mention…

Guilty?

Professional ratfcker Roger Stone, a blight on American politics for five decades, has fcked his last rat. On Friday, during a recess in the committee hearings into one of his former boss’s other abuses of power, Stone was convicted on all seven counts on which he’d been called to the bar, and no sartorial cock-of-the-walk narcissism can save him this time.

I remember being nauseated watching him get treated like a star at the Republican National Convention in 2016, and even more deeply nauseated watching him gallivant around the Capitol dressed like Mr. Peanut’s evil twin during the inauguration that same year. For all his celebrated “eccentricity,” Roger Stone is what democracy finds stuck to the bottom of its shoe on a hot summer’s day. Your time in the barrel has come, Roger, and the barrel’s gone over the falls. The bell has tolled. The cock has crowed, and maybe it wasn’t a good idea to spend the entire pre-trial period playacting the role of political tough-guy at the expense of the judge who now will sentence you on all seven counts on which you were indicted.

This was a big win for Robert Mueller, whose reputation as an investigator has been badly battered in recent weeks as it has become clear that his strict-constructionist view of his mandate left him incapable of confronting the limitless vista of corruption that is this administration*. His prosecutors needed this one to validate their work. In addition, Stone was nailed for lying to Congress, which has to give pause to the people who will be testifying in public next week. (Hi, Gordon Sondland!). The conviction further validates the view that the Russian Story and the Ukraine Story are parts of a reeking whole. The entire noxious fabric is unraveling almost by the hour.

Moreover, to those of us who have followed politics for a while now, watching Roger Stone go to the sneezer is a blessed bit of rough justice for all of the people he has victimized over the years and, indeed, for the system of government that was his most prominent victim of all. He learned the basics of ratfcking from Richard Nixon, which is like learning music from Mozart. In 1977, he was elected president of the Young Republicans with the help of his good friend, Paul Manafort. But his career came to full flower in the 2000’s, which began with his role in disrupting the Florida recount process on behalf of the Bush campaign. (He may or may not have been central to the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot that shut down the recount in Miami-Dade County, but it certainly bore all the hallmarks of Stone’s work.) And he was pushing the idea of a Trump presidential campaign long before one finally was organized in 2015.

He was an A-level predator in the jungle politics that also produced Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, the jungle politics that many Nice Republicans would rather not talk about now that the rot and decay has taken the ground under their feet. The Republican Party was perfectly happy with Roger Stone for as long as it needed his gifts for the dark arts. Now he’s caught, and he’s going to be punished, and he’s going to experience what nihilism is really like. I’d like not to be quite this happy about someone his age going to prison, but I know that his fundamental crimes against democracy will be forever unatoned.

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That Was a Matinee Performance of Bill Barr Covers the Royal Ass

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

“The last stanza of the morning’s performance of the low farce that is William Barr Covers the Royal Ass had the Attorney General of the United States telling Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, that when, at an earlier hearing, he had talked about the possibility that the Obama administration had spied on the Trump campaign, it was just a word that is a word and it just popped right out of his mouth. Bing! Like that. Whitehouse stared down at him as though Barr had grown a second head, and then everybody went out to vote and have a little lunch.

The morning’s performance was shadowed, of course, by the revelation in Wednesday’s Washington Post that Robert Mueller was agitated and upset with the way that his report had been summarized in Barr’s four-page memo released at the end of March. In response, the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to talk about the Steele Dossier, Strzok and Page, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and, god help us all, Her e-maillllzzzzz!

On the other side, the Democratic members of the committee insisted on talking about what Barr has been talking about ever since he put out his memo and pretty much poisoned the well with regard to what Mueller found and what should be done next. Barr tried to tap dance, but he’s not very good at it, and his arguments kept colliding with each other. For example, he kept trying to deny that his four-page summary was actually meant to summarize anything, which, I think we all can agree, is a hard argument to make: that the purpose of a summary is not necessarily to summarize.

In addition, Barr had no answer for the fact that, a couple of weeks ago, while testifying before another congressional committee, he had said he didn’t know of any problems Mueller had with how he’d summarized the counsel’s work. By that time, Barr had received Mueller’s letter expressing those very problems, and he had spoken to Mueller on the phone. Of course, when the chairman of the committee, Senator Huckleberry Graham, starts things off by stating flatly that he hasn’t read the whole report, anything goes, I figure. William Barr is another figure in the Trump Organization wax museum, and he’s melting down like all the others.

 

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William Barr Reads “Moby-Dick,” Finds No Evidence of Whales

From The New Yorker, by Andy Borowitz in “The Borowitz Report”:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Attorney General William Barr has just read the classic American novel “Moby-Dick,” by Herman Melville, and found that the book contains “no evidence whatsoever of whales,” Barr stated on Tuesday.

The Attorney General issued his statement on the absence of whales in the Melville classic in a two-paragraph book report released to the news media.

“Those who read ‘Moby-Dick’ looking for whales will be sorely disappointed,” Barr wrote. “There are no whales here.”

To illustrate his point, Barr quoted the book’s first sentence: “Call me Ishmael.”

“As you can clearly see, that sentence does not have a whale in it,” Barr wrote.

The Attorney General indicated that he hoped his report would put an end to “reckless speculation” about the existence of whales in “Moby-Dick.” “It’s time to move on,” he wrote.

Barr disclosed that, after waiting years to read “Moby-Dick,” he was able to finish reading it in approximately fifteen minutes.

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The Man in the Mirror

From Charles P. Pierce at Esquire:

“Cohen’s guilty plea — his second in four months — is the latest development in a wide-ranging investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Activity in that probe has intensified this week, as one planned guilty plea was derailed and, separately, prosecutors accused Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying to them since he pleaded guilty…Trump has repeatedly said he had no business dealings in Russia, tweeting in July 2016, “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” and telling reporters in January 2017 that he had no deals there because he had “stayed away.”

It always was about the money. The president* always defined himself by it. It was the comforting myth of his public existence, the fairy tale he told himself so he could sleep at night through all the failure and bankruptcy and the whoring after cash, dirty or laundered, all over the world. Take away the money—or, more accurately, the perception of the money—and there simply is nothing left of the man. Take away the money, and he can’t see himself in the mirror. So he would do anything, including imperil his presidency and, therefore, the country, to save himself from the horrible realization that the money was all there was to him and there wasn’t any money anymore.

What the hell? What was the presidency to him but another mirror in which he still could see a man made of money?”

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