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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022

Rain Arrives | Gutters Cleaned | Boonville Stadium | Pet Sprout | FFA Booth | Garden Delights | Fair Weekend | Harvest Dinner | Schapmire Prophecy | Pair | Ed Notes | Redwood Dance | Life Sentence | Yesterday's Catch | Grocery Outlet | Lance-a-lot | Garcia Chute | Executive Search | Kniphofia | Marco Radio | Acorn Festival | Water Wars | Measure P | Painful Read | Lazy Jack | Ukraine | Nonworking Hispanic | Screen Images | 7th Branch | Just Nuts | Fat Chamber | Sam Langford | Very Little | Roadkill Day | Fifi Save | Crumb Interview | Sutter Buttes | Renegade DOJ | Trash Trail

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AN EARLY SEASON STORM system will impact Northwest California today through the middle of next week. Significant early-fall rainfall will occur as a result, particularly across Mendocino and Lake Counties. In addition, gusty east-southeast winds are forecast to occur during Sunday afternoon, and thunderstorms can`t be ruled out across portions of the region through Tuesday. Otherwise, drier and warmer conditions will redevelop during late portions of next week as the storm system exits east away from the region. (NWS)

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DAVID EYSTER: 

Bring on the rain! Got the gutters on my place and L's place all blown and cleaned out this morning in anticipation of some amount of rain, whatever that amount may be. 

There's great satisfaction in getting this particular chore accomplished before that inevitable day arrives when you realize the downspouts are blocked, the gutters are full and spilling over, and you have to go outside and play catch up when you'd rather stay dry and warm inside.

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Boonville Stadium by John Toohey

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UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK

Sprout is a 3 month old, mixed breed puppy, who, we imagine, will grow up to be a big dog. Mr. Adorable will need plenty of indoor and outdoor space as he matures. Sprout is a typical happy and lively puppy. He loves toys and appears playful with other dogs. Sprout will be a fun addition to his new family. Sprout weighs in at 50 cheerful pounds.

If you can'€™t adopt, consider fostering. Our website has information about our Foster Program, the on-going DOG AND CAT ADOPTION EVENTS, and other programs, services and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/.  For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453.

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LOCAL EXHIBITIONISTS

Hey all…

Got any garden delights growin’ and wanna show ‘em off? Bring whatever veggies, fruits and herbs you wanna help the AVGrange display this Thursday night Sept. 22 at 6pm in the fairgrounds Agricultural room. This is a special night at the fair for locals to be a part of it all and also get a sneak peek! The 2022 AVGrange exhibit theme is “Lettuce Turnip the Beet!” PM me if’n you’re interested in participating in the parade float also! 

Here’s last year’s award winning exhibit! 

— Chalynne Marie Peterson

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MENDOCINO COUNTY FAIR AND APPLE SHOW - 94TH ANNUAL COUNTY CELEBRATION BEGINS SEPT. 23

The 94th Annual Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show will be held Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25 at the fairgrounds in Boonville.

The fair will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for juniors 13-18, $6 for children 7-12 and free for children age 6 and under. They are available at mendocountyfair.com. Tickets for seniors 65 and over are $6, and children 12 and under will be admitted free on Friday.

Three-day passes for seniors are $20 and available for pre-sale. One-day unlimited rides are $35 presale before fair opens or $40 during the fair. Pre-sale available at the fair office and Lemon’s Market in Philo and Anderson Valley Elementary School and online at mendocountyfair.com.

Horse shows by 4-H and FFA will be Friday from 8 a.m. and held at Rodeo Arena. The Apple Bowl Varsity Football game will be Friday at the arena at 5 p.m. The annual dance will be in the Rodeo Arena on Friday night from 8 to 10 p.m. Live music will be by Scott Forbes Band.

The C.C.P.R.A. Rodeos will be Saturday night at 8 p.m. Saturday night dance will be in the Rodeo Arena from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. Live music will be by Dean Titus, and The Coyote Cowboys Dance is free with fair admission.

On Sunday, the Sheep Dog Trials will be held at the Rodeo Arena at 10 a.m. The Classic Car Show will also be in the Rodeo parking lot on Sunday at 10 a.m. The parade will be Sunday at noon along Highway 128 to Rodeo Arena.

Godfrey the Magician will be performing multiple shows daily at the lawn stage. Cutest Show on Earth and Petting zoo will be daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will also be livestock shows, a parade of champions, floral and garden displays, feature booths, apple displays, arts and crafts, classic car judging, pony rides and a spinning contest. No pets allowed. For more information, visit www.mendocountyfair.com.

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THE SCHAPMIRE PROPHECY

by Mark Scaramella

Retired County Treasurer/Tax collector Shari Schapmire was Karen Ottoboni's guest on her biweekly KZYX talkshow last Wednesday. Readers may recall that Schapmire retired prematurely last March when the board ignored her attempt to block or slow down the consolidation of her office with the Auditor's office in the weeks leading up to her retirement. 

At that time Schapmire said she was retiring early because, “I don’t feel like I can work with the current Board of Supervisors.”

“There are a lot of moving parts,” said Schapmire about the problems that might ensue from an unplanned consolidation. “If you have one person who oversees the whole thing, things will get lost in the shuffle.”

Instead, “The majority of the board [only Supervisor John Haschak was opposed to rushing the consolidation] just wanted to push this through.”

“I’ve been very vocal that I oppose the consolidation because there are risks the board is not looking at.” 

“The disruption of leadership, practice, and scope of work would basically drop a bomb on the two offices.”

“As somebody on the inside, this is absolutely not what is best for the county.”

“I am leaving early,” concluded Schapmire. “After being in this office for 40 years, I cannot watch what it is going to do to staff. Also, I feel like now that this is a done deal, I need to get out of the way.”

Schapmire said the County’s finances were in good shape and in a “stable place” despite the glitches the staff encountered with the installation of a new property tax computer system and some incompatibilities between the County’s existing data and the new software that wasn’t designed to incorporate it.

Since her retirement most of Schapmire predictions have come true. Not only that, but the Supervisors seem intent on placing blame on newly elected Tax Collector/Auditor Chemise Cubbison rather than accepting responsibility for what they have created. 

Schapmire told Ottoboni that the problems shortfalls the Board is now trying to address were "self-induced problems." 

Last week to the board's budget ad hoc committee of Ted Williams and Glenn McGourty presented Ms. Cubbison and with a long laundry list of financial requests and questions that were not only ill considered and misdirected, but a clear attempt to put Ms. Cubbison on the spot for those "self-induced" problems the board created when they rashly consolidated the offices in the vague and unrealistic hope that somehow some money could be saved. (It can’t.)

On Wednesday Ms. Schapmire said that in the months prior to the consolidation former CEO Carmel Angelo had been engaged in "empire building" by creating higher paid positions in the CEOs office which were filled by former Auditor's office senior staff, thus depriving the Auditor's office of important senior staffers.

Schapmire also pointed out that the consolidation has put the county's finances on a very predictable "negative path" which has validated many of the predictions she made in February prior to her retirement.

Ottoboni had some phone problems during her Wednesday show and was unable to take calls. We later heard that Supervisor/Board chair Ted Williams was unhappy with Ms. Schapmire's assessment of the situation and started texting cryptic complaints to Ottoboni in the middle of the show.

Williams claimed that Schapmire’s observations, those of a well-respected and long serving senior county official, were "full of misinformation." Williams also complained about not having a balance sheet which he said jeopardized a state grant, and disagreed that the county had combined any offices in the past — apparently not knowing that they combined the Assessor’s office with the Clerk-Recorder's office a couple of decades ago creating a number of problems in the Assesor's office which took years to straighten out.

Williams was particularly upset that Schapmire described the County's current financial status and reporting as "self-induced," meaning that many of the things the supervisors are complaining about were the predictable result of the ill-considered and ill-timed consolidation.

It is possible that Williams was frustrated at not being able to call in to the show, but if he is so convinced that his committee's financial requests and complaints are defensible, he should do so publicly, not in a series of cryptic private texts. He should also explain his Board's failure to properly staff the offices they consolidated and the Board’s failure to plan the accelerated consolidation which has made the county's financial situation worse than it already is.

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A PAIR TO DRAW TO 

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ED NOTES

“Which commandments of Jesus are ignored the most”?

I was startled this morning when the above question popped up on top of Mendocino County Today our on-line daily news wrap. I could only remember about half the commandments, the simple, commonsense ones about not murdering anyone, honoring mom and pop, or at least being civil towards them, not stealing, not coveting either property or the neighbor's wife. The rest — no idols, no other gods, keeping the sabbath — are pretty sectarian, applying only to Christianity, although the basic rules about murder, stealing, deferring to mom and dad apply to all the mainstream belief systems. 

AND EVERY SINGLE ONE is routinely violated in this country at this time except by that minority of noble souls who structure their lives around the big ten, who include pastor Kooyers of Boonville and his stalwart flock who asked the question in the first place and will, as they always have, conduct Sunday services Fair Sunday.

WHICH COMMANDMENTS are most ignored? I'd say covetness being capitalism's very motor, it's not only ignored the most but is the foundation of our system, with taking the Lord's name in vain running a close second. Bearing false witness feels a bit antiquated, but walk into any of the Mendocino County Superior Court rooms on any random day and you'll hear someone bearing false witness, often the officers of the court themselves.

“REPORTERS have almost universally eschewed the term ‘riot’ to describe January 6th, reflexively using ‘insurrection’ and ‘insurrectionist,’ which again, just happens to the language of the likely charge in play, 18 U.S. Code § 2384, ‘Seditious conspiracy’ (both of those words are constantly used by media also). Some outlets install prejudicial presumptions of guilt in the headline, as in PBS’s ‘Oath Keepers’ lawyer arrested in connection with Jan. 6 insurrection.’ Reporters likely don’t see the problem here, but if part of a lawyer’s defense is that what happened on January 6th was not an insurrection but an ordinary riot, he or she will have a steep hill to climb with a jury pool that by now has heard the word ‘insurrection’ ten million times.” — Matt Taibbi

RIGHT, MATT. Jan 6th was a riot. The diff between a riot and insurrection is an insurrection is planned, armed, coordinated, led by people who have a specific goal in mind. If Trump's Camo Buddies, or even a small portion thereof, had been armed, and had a specific plan to occupy Congress, that would have been an insurrection. What we saw was a riot.

PLEASED TO LEARN that our gifted muralist, Lauren Sinnott, will include the Finns, history of, in her forthcoming Fort Bragg mural. The history of the Finns is fascinating. As immigrants up and down the Coast from Astoria, Oregon to San Francisco, wherever there was work, they were split between white Finns, partisans of the Czar, and red Finns, partisans of the Bolsheviks. The two sides even imported their own editors from the old country for their rival papers, which were headquartered in Astoria. One of the saddest photos I've ever seen is of a group of Finns sailing out of Noyo on a boat they built to carry them home to the revolution. None of them were ever heard from again. Russell and Sylvia Bartley, of Fort Bragg, are the go-to historians on the subject. Mrs. Bartley's father, Oscar Erickson, was a Finn partial to the American left when an American left still existed.

ADD THIS to your endless roster of signs of the apocalypse: The SF Giants, a baseball team, now employs a master sommelier. 

WHAT is the true state of the border with Mexico? If it's collapsed, as the fascists claim, why isn't restoration of an orderly, human immigration system a priority of Biden's? (Or a priority of whoever's writing the old grifter's teleprompter scripts.) Axios puts the figure at an average of 7500 people walking into our imploding country every day, some of them, presumably, arriving with ill intent. The cruel deployment of the desperate by slobs like the governors of Florida and Texas to make the political point that the border no longer exists begs this question: Why aren't they reinforcing it? What's the governor of Texas doing to stanch the flow?

HEADLINE FROM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT: “Ghost Ship defendant could face jail after weapons found at his Lake County home.” The guy lives in Mendo, near Ukiah. The story was bylined AP, but still, where's the paper's editors not to catch the error? The violation alleged was a single bullet found in a art arrangement and professional-quality bows and arrows, and unrelated to his conviction for a terrible accident, not a deliberate mass murder.

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VIOLENT CRIMINAL WHO BRUTALLY ATTACKED A 61-YEAR-OLD WOMAN IN WILLITS SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON

In October 2021, a local man approached and attacked a frail local woman he did not know in a Willits shopping center. He repeatedly beat her before dragging her against her will behind the shopping center’s grocery store where he attempted to sexually assault her. He eventually skulked away, leaving the victim for dead.

Another man riding his bicycle later in the same area happened upon, saw the bloody and obviously injured woman, and thought she may be dead. He immediately called 9-1-1 for help.

The crime investigation by local law enforcement was greatly assisted by shopping center security cameras that captured, among other things, images of the defendant dragging the woman behind a dumpster. Using the images, law enforcement quickly identified the attacker.

Jose Perez

Defendant Jose Miguel Perez, now age 24, formerly of Willits, was convicted by plea in April of felony kidnapping with the intent to commit rape and felony assault by force likely to cause great bodily injury.

The defendant also admitted as true a sentencing enhancement that he personally inflicted great bodily injury that caused the victim to lose consciousness due to a traumatic brain injury.

Friday morning defendant Perez was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison by Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan.

Still engaged in recovery, the victim was present in the courtroom for the sentencing and addressed Judge Dolan and those in the courtroom, making a compelling victim impact statement.

The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence used to convict the defendant were the Willits Police Department and the investigators from the District Attorney’s Office.

The attorney who prosecuted the defendant from arraignment through sentencing was Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.

(DA Presser)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 17, 2022

Ashurst, Brown, Chumbley

ROBERT ASHURST, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

DENISE BROWN, Redwood Valley. False personation of another, suspended license.

KATHRINA CHUMBLEY, Ukiah. Concealed weapon in vehicle.

Gonzalez, Jones, Patereau, Rose

IVAN GONZALEZ-RIVERA, Calpella. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JESSE JONES, Covelo. Leaded cane or similar.

RICKEY PATEREAU, Willits. Failure to appear.

PETER ROSE, Point Arena. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Scott, Tinajero, Wood

STORY SCOTT, Big Lagoon/Ukiah. Controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia, conspiracy.

JAIME TINAJERO, Ukiah. DUI with priors, suspended license for DUI, failure to appear, probation revocation.

KYLEE WOOD, Willits. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

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EVERYONE UP FOR THE KICK-OFF: If the 49ers lose to the Seahawks on Sunday and Trey Lance is unimpressive, coach Kyle Shanahan and his players will have every rational reason not to freak out. With 15 games left in the regular season and the memory of last year’s stirring rally from a 3-5 start fresh in their minds, the 49ers can legitimately claim that there’s plenty of time for a turnaround as Lance grows into his role. 

— Michael Silver

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Garcia Mill Apron Chute Operation, Point Arena, 1887

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THE SEA RANCH READER

NONPROFIT EXECUTIVE SEARCH

CAREER PROSPECTUS MAXIMUS

POSITION: COMMUNITY MANAGER & CEO, THE SEA RANCH ASSOCIATION Sonoma, Nothern California

ORGANIZATION: http://www.tsra.org

ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND

An Extraordinary Community. The Sea Ranch Association (TSRA) is the governing body of an opinionated community of over 2,200 homes and lots along 10 miles of Sonoma County coastline, approximately 100 miles north of San Francisco. The Association seeks a Community Manager whose keen sense of style, design, appetite for the “good life” and social prowess is matched by her exceptional operational and leadership skills.

The basic premise of The Sea Ranch is to “live lightly on the land”, according to one of the early business people or architects involved in The Sea Ranch’s development. Fortunately for you, most of those people are long-gone and the meaning of that phrase is open to interpretation. In fact, whenever you make a controversial decision in this role, you can always counter your opponents with, “my decision is consistent with the ‘live lightly on the land’ ethos that defines this community.” Try arguing with that!

Conceived in the 1960s, The Sea Ranch was once a pretty radical idea. The plan was to have a common architectural style that either blends into or highlights important aspects of the landscape, rather than dominate it. The original landscape architect apparently envisioned a “kibbutz”-like “new town”community here… but nothing too woo woo. This was never a place for hippies, which was made clear by Barbara Stauffacher’s supergraphics and visual designs for the TSRA. Her designs and use of Helvetica were a direct reaction to all of the mediocre psychedelic art in the Bay Area at the time. This wasn’t a place to come and do weird stuff. It was a place you came to read, paint or draw, play some music, play some tennis, and take a swim. Maybe a take hike or a run. And most importantly, not annoy your neighbors with your bad taste.

Nowadays, The Sea Ranch is a relatively conservative community of upper-middle class and lower-upper class residents that like to take pictures of animals in their yards. Newer residents are amazingly tolerant of rocks with inspirational words painted on them and hidden along trails. While some of the newer homes occasionally appear in places like Dwell or The New York Times, between us and you, they’re not all that interesting architecturally—especially not compared to Condominium One, the cluster houses or some of the stuff that William Turnbull or Obie Bowman once did. One of the newer homes that gets a lot of press is on a golf course, for crying out loud. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

We also want to be super clear about one thing, which we’ll repeat throughout this prospectus: The Sea Ranch is a managed landscape. So you can’t let all of those environmentalist wackos tell you that “living lightly on the land” means letting trees grow wherever they want. It’s called The Sea Ranch, and not The Tree Ranch, for a reason.

The Sea Ranch Association is a mutual-benefit not-for-profit organization governed by a 7-member Board elected by the homeowners that are willing to vote on any of the candidates that throw their hat into the ring. The Board is supported by three homeowner committees advisory to the Board: Finance, Planning, and Utilities, and by an autonomous Design Committee.…

thesearancher.com/2022/09/11/the-sea-ranch-association-community-manager-prospectus-1st-draft/

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FROM LARRY WAGNER'S LATE SUMMER GARDEN

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FALL EQUINOX. GOT WOAD?

"Woad's the stuff to show, men. Woad to scare your foemen. Boil it to a brilliant blue and rub it on your legs and your abdo-men."

Here's the recording of last night's (2022-09-16) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0506

Thanks to Hank Sims for all kinds of tech help, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com

Thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which provided almost an hour of that 8-hour show's most locally relevant material, as usual, without asking for anything in return. Just $25 a year for full access to all articles and features (TheAVA.com). And consider helping out wee bravely struggling KNYO itself. You don't have to do it right now. Just think about it. Let it niggle at your conscience until you can't stand it anymore, then do it, and do it hard. Drive it all the way to China. https://KNYO.org

Here's a link to my relatively new dream journal project on Medium that I started at Xmastime of 2020 and have been keeping up. I just posted a fresh week's worth of dreams.* https://MarcoMcClean.Medium.com

Besides All That, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:

The Woad Song, also called the Wode Ode, accompanied by autoharp beneath a staircase, the accepted setting. Flanders and Swann wore wode on stage to sing this in the 1950s (with undershorts, not entirely naked) but no video exists of that, so make do with this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLXtOzMBLqg

Wade in the Water. This is just their sound check.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRpzEnq14Hs

And how memory works. Clever scientists are making machines more and more like us and I, for one, am thrilled.

https://theawesomer.com/flying-into-photos-infinite-nature-ai/681179/

Email me your work on any subject and I'll read it on the radio next Friday night.

— Marco McClean, memo@mcn.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com

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CA WATER WARS - Manufactured California Water Shortage 

Deception: Part of a Three-Part Webinar Series Starting Saturday 

“The drought is real; a water shortage? Not so…” will be the focus Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, for “SOLUTIONARIES,” an ongoing regenerative based Webinar Series dealing with climate change, mega-droughts, mega-floods, water issues including privatization of water, fires, and more presented by Golden Road Productions in collaboration with Earthstock Foundation and Planetary Solutionaries

As part of this online educational, regenerative, solutions based series, Episode 1 will be geared toward dealing with the truth about water issues in California and how Californians are deceived about the facts and evidence behind the claim of a water shortage in the state.

Event: “Solutionaries” Webinar — Sept.17, 2022 from 11am — 1pm PST (includes Q & A)

Patrick Porgans, a long-time forensic water specialist who will be part of the Webinar, charges: “Californians’ Public Trust Resources are being usurped by the who’s who in the Golden State, explaining how an ingenious scheme results in taxpayers paying private and public entities to receive publicly owned water resources, which the entities get for free.”

Porgans will reveal that this is not a conspiracy, but simply a means by which the entities conduct the public’s business.

For example, he notes, during the 2012-2016 drought, the government issued a mandatory 25% cutback in urban water use, and did not implement cutbacks in agriculture usage, which consumes 85% of the water annually. While residential and commercial users paid more for less water, and were fined if they failed to do so, billionaire factory agribusiness were planting 40,000 acres of new almond orchards annually.

Porgans added, the estimated 3.2 million acre-feet of water saved went to expand nut and vineyard crops. Eighty percent of the almonds are exported. The water that was “saved” was used to expand urban growth and reduce the water quality standards designed to protect the Bay-Delta estuary and provide a usable supply of water to in-delta users.

This webinar reveals that our current way of living is not only unsustainable, it is not working.

For more information or To Register for the Webinar: GoldenRoadProduction@gmail.com /530-362-8264

Earthstock Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It focuses its efforts on local, regional and global issues.

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THE RUSSIANS

Dear Editor,

Mueller laid out 10 prosecutable incidents of Donald Trump committing felony obstruction of justice, all to cover up the assistance he was seeking and receiving from Russian oligarchs and the Russian government that ultimately helped him win the 2016 election

There was no question that his campaign colluded with the Russians. The problem was that there is no legal definition of collusion, i.e., it's not strictly illegal, so Muller basically passed on that part of the story.

Trump’s 2016 Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, after all, just last month (according to Thom Hartmann) admitted that during the 2016 election he was handing secret campaign polling and strategy information off to Russian intelligence, presumably so they could successfully use it to micro-target vulnerable voters via Facebook and other social media in swing states.

Seriously, you should read the Mueller Report.

Given all redactions and Mueller's penchant for double negatives, it's a painful read but it's not credible for you to dismiss the whole thing without actually reading it.

As for the Steele Dossier, it was never presented as anything but a list of responses to inquires Steele made to his previous Russian sources when he was head of the Russian desk at MI6. As I recall, none of the items on the list were ever shown to be actually wrong or even misleading.

Douglas George

Eureka

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UKRAINE, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to stay the course in his campaign against Ukraine, warning if counterattacks continue a “more serious” military response will be unleashed.

Putin remained steadfast despite strong evidence that his forces incurred heavy losses in the Ukraine counteroffensive this month.

The Russian leader said the main goal of the campaign continues to be “the liberation of the entire territory of Donbas” – the areas of eastern Ukraine including Donetsk and Luhansk that are largely Russian speaking.

“The plan is not subject to adjustment,” Putin said. “Our offensive operations in Donbas itself do not stop. They are going at a slow pace … The Russian army is occupying newer and newer territories.”

He accused Ukrainian forces of attempts to carry out “terrorist acts” and causing damage to Russian civilian infrastructure.

“We are really quite restrained in our response to this for the time being,” Putin said at a news conference on Friday. “If the situation continues to develop in this way, the response will be more serious.”

(NPR)

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

So many of you people act like you know each other with just your online presence. You don’t. At best you are friendly strangers in a bar. We are all screen images these days, just like the movie stars we used to read about in the fifties. After I was in the service in the late sixties, no relationship (with the exception of my wife and children) was ever as real as my buds in the army. Our lives depended on it.

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THE US MILITARY HAS SEVEN BRANCHES OF SERVICE:

  1. Army
  2. Navy
  3. Air Force
  4. Marines
  5. Coast Guard
  6. Space Force
  7. Mainstream Media

(Caitlin Johnstone)

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THE DANGER OF WINTER here is sinking into a gluttonous stupor. Cold makes you hungry. Eating makes you sleepy. You feed on yourself, a snake biting and its tail. You enter a kind of hibernation, one by one closing down the senses, locking doors behind you, until you exist in a tiny, darkened chamber, deep within a castle of solid fat. When Nadya arrived with her mother the old lady gave me a long stare and snapped: "You are obese!" A friend might have said "putting on weight," an enemy, "getting fat." But Elizaveta Vassilyevna was once a school teacher.

Lenin, as channeled by Alan Brien

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“I FEARED NO MAN. There was one man, he was even smaller than I, and I wouldn't fight him because I knew he would flatten me. I was afraid of Sam Langford.” - Jack Dempsey

“Sam Langford was the toughest little son of a b**** that ever lived.” - Jack Johnson

“My old trainer, Jack Blackburn, told me that Sam Langford was the best of those old-timers, and he saw them all." - Joe Louis

"He was a marvellous fighting man, I'd venture to say unbeatable in his prime.” - Harry Wills

“Sam Langford was the greatest fighting machine I have seen. He could box, he could hit, he could out-think his rivals and display the most consummate ring generalship the sport yet has seen. When Langford hit you on the button, there was no need to wait and count over the fallen fighter.” - Charley Rose

“Having had more than my fair share of Sam's fists during the six rounds I fought with him in London, I can say he was easily the hardest hitter I ever met, and probably the hardest of all time.” - Bill Lang 

(Quotes about Sam Langford by former fighters who knew the power and terror the little guy would cause during his fighting career…Langford stood at no more than 5 feet and 7 inches tall yet could whack as hard as any of the men that would tower over him in height…. Langford is also credited by many historians as one of the greatest pound for pound fighters that ever lived.)

* * *

"as the poems go into the thousands you

realize that you've created very

little.

it comes down to the rain, the sunlight,

the traffic, the nights and the days of the

years, the faces.

leaving this will be easier than living

it, typing one more line now as

a man plays a piano through the radio,

the best writers have said very

little

and the worst,

far too much."

— Charles Bukowski

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WORLD ANIMAL ROAD ACCIDENT AWARENESS DAY is held each year on October 10th. This will be the third year we hold this event, and would really appreciate your support and help in raising awareness with us to help stop animals being driven to their graves.

630 cats are hit by cars every single day in the UK. 25% of these incidents will be fatal. We challenge UK law, or lack of to be more precise, and also aim to change mind-sets and spread awareness to enlighten people on the best ways to help if they hit or find a cat on the road. One good way we thought of doing this was to establish a national remembrance and awareness day which we will use to commemorate, promote and further mobilise action. Our RTA awareness day will be recognised internationally and will be a period to observe the pressing issues of concern and raise awareness, as well as being a day to remember the fallen and pay tribute to lost beloved pets.

Although our campaign centres around cats, we appreciate this is an issue affecting all animals. In Britain, annual road casualties are estimated to account for 100,000 fox deaths, 50,000 badgers, 50,000 deer, 30 million birds and Hedgehogs once topped the death table with 29% of them being killed by cars... that was until they entered on the critically endangered list. Based on statistical analysis of those potentially unrecorded, the realistic death rate is estimated to be around 70 million animals. Highways England states 2,143 dead animals were found on just 4,300 miles of motorway - accounting for just 1% of the UK's entire road network.

Worldwide, Brazil alone recorded 1.3 million animals die every day after being struck by cars, that's 475 million animals every single year in one country alone - about 15 animals every second. The USA acknowledges that one million animals die every single day on roadways, including 26 million cats annually. A waste of life summed up in numbers that are hard to comprehend.

By the creation of an awareness day, we hope to coordinate a message which will be shared internationally, for all animals. We can't stop roads being built, or animals wandering on to them, but we can make people acknowledge what has happened and encourage they help the animal, if not help prevent most collisions happening in the first case just by highlighting the issue and bringing it to the forefront of drivers minds .

No animal deserves to be hit by a car and left in the road alone, scared, in pain, or worse! Our pets are somewhat lucky. With human owners who love them as family, people often say to us things such as, ‘owners deserve closure’, ‘someone will be heartbroken’, or ‘I would want someone to help my cat’. Although these are very true statements, and we know the need for closure first-hand, our primary focus is the animals themselves. Human emotion and heartbreak should be secondary to animal suffering, and we are sure people would first want someone to try all they could to help their beloved pet before considering their emotions. But what then about wild animals who don’t have the luxury of being loved by a human, or have a nice warm bed to go back to every night with a full belly? Do they not matter because there won’t be an upset human behind their death? Of course not, all animals matter and every single one of them deserves a chance at survival should the worst happen. All us drivers have a moral obligation to help all living creatures they injure while driving.

All we are asking is that, on or around October 10th, you consider acknowledging World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day though your platform. It would be hugely appreciated. There is a wealth of advice to either share directly, or pluck sections from it that fits most appropriately for you, on our blog.

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R. CRUMB MEANS SOME OFFENSE

Even from his refuge in France, the comics artist still makes America’s pulse race.

by M.H. Miller

THERE’S A COMIC by Robert Crumb from 1979 called “A Short History of America.” It’s 12 panels, all portraying a single spot of land. In the first, we see a bucolic field abutting a forest, birds flying overhead. In the second, there are fewer trees and a train rolling down a track, ejecting plumes of black smoke. Soon, there’s a log cabin, then telephone poles, then asphalt and cars. Then the trees disappear entirely and the house becomes a general store, the general store becomes a gas station, the gas station becomes a used-car lot and the sky, once so big, is almost completely obscured by crisscrossing electric wires. A small box in the final panel, containing the only text apart from the title, asks, “What next?!!”

This is the work of Crumb’s I keep thinking about on the summer afternoon I arrive in a medieval village in the Cévennes region of southern France. Crumb moved here in 1991 with his wife, the comics artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and their daughter, Sophie, who was 10 at the time. They found a place that feels like it’s almost protected from the march of progress. Cars aren’t allowed in town; to get to the Crumbs’ house, I have to walk across a weathered bridge that traverses a murky canal. Affixed to the front door are what appear to be Catholic prayer cards though, on closer inspection, they depict Elvis Presley in a state of religious ecstasy. Inside, we go upstairs to a dimly lit office, with shelves of 78 r.p.m. records, mostly from the 1920s and ’30s (Crumb owns 8,000 of them; he’s been collecting “old music of all kinds from all over the world” since he was 16), a bulky metal drawing board, various instruments (he’s an accomplished musician), stacks of faded newspapers and books with titles like “Because Our Fathers Lied,” “UFOs and Nukes” and “Grey Aliens and the Harvesting of Souls.” (“I’m very interested in fringe things like that,” Crumb says.) I ask the couple, who have been together since 1971 and married in 1978, how they ended up here.

“Ask her,” Crumb tells me, gesturing to his wife. “It was all her doing. She comes from a long line of salespeople, and she just sold me on the idea of moving to France.”

In the ’80s, the couple lived in California’s Central Valley, in a small town called Winters nestled between Sacramento and San Francisco. “The fabulous ’80s,” Crumb says grimly. “Not a good decade in the United States.” (“It was like now,” says Kominsky-Crumb, “but not quite as bad.”) AIDS was killing their friends. A rising conservative Christian movement was accusing Crumb of being immoral. President Ronald Reagan had cut education funding, just as he’d done as governor, so there were no longer art or music classes at Sophie’s school. The Crumbs volunteered, teaching drawing, though at a certain point fewer students began showing up. A local preacher had been telling families that the Crumbs were “agents of the devil.”

R. Crumb, photographed in his office in southern France on June 28, 2022. (Thibault Montamat)

“So we had to get out,” Kominsky-Crumb says. “And I guess I had some romantic idea about living in the south of France.”

“Some of that romance turned out to be true,” Crumb says. Then he adds, “Maybe you shouldn’t even mention the name of the town. I don’t want people showing up here.”

Crumb used to attend comic conventions and book signings, but now he makes very few public appearances. He never really picked up French (he relies on Kominsky-Crumb for that), and his social circle is small. Crumb’s followed in the long line of artists and writers who have exiled themselves from America, but his life abroad feels far more circumscribed than most. He doesn’t even have a cellphone. (At one point, he looks at his wife’s and says earnestly, “It’s listening to us right now.”) He uses email but “I worry about it,” he says. “Any email you write goes into the N.S.A. computer banks.” He’s only voted once in his life, for Barack Obama in 2008. Yet even living thousands of miles from America, disconnected from its culture by so many moats of his own making, he is, like many of his expatriate predecessors, a dedicated and unflinching observer of home. It was his ability to capture the id of America — in all its decadence, hypocrisy and lecherousness — that established him as an artist; that ability is unmatched nearly six decades later. He’s been called an “equal opportunity offender”: For his entire career, he’s angered the left, the right and everyone in between. It’s why his work remains, more than that of perhaps any other artist today, a litmus test for how much we’re willing to put up with for the sake of art.

CRUMB BEGAN BY publishing his work in the late ’60s in San Francisco’s underground comics scene, which arose alongside Timothy Leary’s acid tests and psychedelia. (Crumb was a regular user of LSD, but he hated what he calls “hippie music.”) American comics — at least, independent, non-superhero comics — were still something of a nascent form then, arguably the era’s least corporate, most anarchic type of expression. Even the Grateful Dead had at one point a deal with a major record label, but comics artists — Gilbert Shelton, Trina Robbins, Joel Beck — had no executives putting commercial pressures on them. Crumb published his early work in humor magazines and underground papers and sold stapled, self-printed comics out of head shops, introducing iconic characters that would become countercultural totems: Mr. Natural, a godlike imp and con man; the sex fiend Snoid; Fritz the Cat, a lampooning of the shallow hipster, who became his most famous character. (The animator Ralph Bakshi made a popular “Fritz the Cat” film, released in 1972; Crumb hated it so much that he retired the character — by having Fritz’s ostrich ex-girlfriend stab him in the head with an ice pick.) To counteract his reputation as “America’s best-loved hippie cartoonist,” Crumb made his work darker, creepier, more twisted and upsetting. By 1969, he was drawing “Joe Blow,” featuring a sweet, smiling all-American family — who fornicate with each other while shouting phrases like “I never realized how much fun you could have with your children!”

Despite such material, Crumb has always had a paradoxically grandfatherly aura. At age 79, he’s skinny and still strangely handsome, his khakis hiked above his waist. While his status as an alt legend has been secure for decades, it’s only in recent years that he’s truly transcended the comics medium to the realm of fine artist. These days, Crumb is shown by one of the largest commercial galleries in the world, David Zwirner, which also represents Barbara Kruger, the estates of Diane Arbus and Alice Neel and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. In 2015, the “Star Wars” creator George Lucas purchased Crumb’s surprisingly faithful 2009 adaptation of the Book of Genesis for $2.9 million (at least according to a 2017 comic called “Aline & Bob in Troubles With Money”). Crumb’s notebooks, which he’s saved through the years, sell for close to a million dollars each. Leonardo DiCaprio, whose father was an independent comics distributor, has said he’s “picked up a couple” of Crumb originals. At a time of increasing conservatism, there is a greater demand for an artist so monumentally lacking in shame, and so averse to self-censorship.

It helps that Crumb is, as the gallerist David Zwirner describes him to me, “an extraordinary draftsman,” one whose style zooms in on “the absurdity of social conventions, and political realities, and stereotypes and sexual fantasies and fetishes.” Early on, the artist forged a singular technique full of crosshatchings and an exaggerated realism that has left many viewers angry and uncomfortable. Everything and everyone was a gruesome stereotype: Women were sex objects with excessive curves, Black people had features that recalled an ugly history of racist caricatures and Crumb himself was frequently seen doing disgusting things like masturbating out a window.

Encountering Crumb today feels like being in a staring match with an artist who’s still almost daring the culture to eject him. “The average people out there,” he tells me, “what they know of my work … either they love it because they are degenerates themselves or they hate it because they stand with the forces of political correctness.” His iconography includes every taboo imaginable: not only incest and racism but also sexual assault, castration, self-mutilation and murder.

Such images feel at once old-fashioned, relics of a less enlightened time, and more relevant than ever in an era when art often seems to be policed for potential sin. There has always been, and continues to be, much debate regarding Crumb’s true nature: Is he a genuine pervert or simply an artist who made perversion his subject? Is he himself prejudiced or satirizing a racist culture in which he came of age? Commentators have emerged on both sides of this debate. The curator Robert Storr has argued that Crumb points out “the extreme illogic of prejudice by mocking it,” though in the ’90s, an American neo-Nazi publication, taking Crumb at face value, reprinted some of his work without permission, much to the artist’s displeasure. In 2011, Crumb canceled his appearance at an Australian festival after an article in The Sunday Telegraph of Sydney described him as a “very warped human being,” and quoted a child abuse activist calling his work “crude and perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind.” Of “Joe Blow,” Deirdre English, the former editor of the progressive magazine Mother Jones, has said, “On the one hand, it’s a satire of the 1950s, the healthy facade of the American family, and it kind of exposes the sickness under the surface. But at the same time, you sense that Crumb is getting off on it. … It’s a self-indulgent orgy, and a fantasy. … It’s part of an arrested, juvenile vision.”

His defenders, who include cartoonists like Alison Bechdel and Lynda Barry, have argued it is a dangerous misreading to claim that, by exploring ugly and evil things, Crumb is endorsing them. “He pushes all limits in order to bring every guilty impulse or thought pattern to light, where it can be examined in all its ridiculous, risible nakedness,” Storr wrote last year. In a 2008 interview, Barry characterized his appeal, especially to artists, most succinctly: “What R. Crumb gave me was this feeling that you could draw anything,” she said.

In drawings and in conversation, Crumb refers disdainfully to “the wokies,” even as he claims to be on their side. “The whole identity politics and L.G.B.T.Q. stuff,” he tells me, “I agree with it. These people need an equal share. I can’t argue with that. But then people get kind of intolerant about anything that could be seen as triggering.” In the fall of 2020, Phoebe Gloeckner, the author of the graphic novel “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” (2002) and an associate professor at the University of Michigan, was accused of “curriculum-based trauma” by students in a comics course, in part because she showed them Crumb’s work. This surprised Gloeckner, who had never had this kind of problem in 18 years of teaching at the school. She started reading Crumb the way a lot of people do — by stumbling upon it as a child (her parents hid his comics under their bed). “When I was a kid,” she tells me, “I was really threatened by images of pretty girls in teen magazines and the idea that, to be taken seriously as a person, I had to look a certain way. When I looked at how he drew women, it was liberating.” Many of her students didn’t agree.

Crumb, who read me emails from Gloeckner, was clearly bothered by what happened, not because the students didn’t like his work — lots of people don’t, and he himself has dismissed his art as “only lines on paper” — but because he felt they had failed to engage with it: Trauma and discomfort were the whole point. The rot of our society is undeniable, he says, so, rather than repress the horror, he wants to make it impossible to avoid.

HE’S BEEN CONFRONTING that rot for most of his life. Crumb grew up in Philadelphia and attended Catholic schools, a scene he has revisited frequently in his work: the young Crumb, sweat dripping down his forehead, mouth agape, staring at the female students in their uniforms, looking not so much lustful as perplexed. As a teenager, he was deeply invested in Catholicism for about a year. “I remember walking around thinking, ‘If these people don’t get their act together, they’re gonna go to hell!’” he tells me. Later, his father would admit to him that he was an atheist all along.

The Crumbs are one of the most dysfunctional families in the annals of contemporary art, and their deterioration was closely examined in Terry Zwigoff’s classic 1995 documentary, “Crumb.” Crumb’s father was in the Marines for 20 years and had a temper. His mother was a housewife and an amphetamine addict. When Crumb was 15, she hurled an ashtray at her husband and missed, hitting her son in the face.

The oldest and youngest children were Crumb’s two sisters, Carol and Sandra, the only two siblings not to participate in “Crumb.” In the middle were the three brothers — Charles, Robert, Maxon — all gifted artists. Maxon began suffering from epileptic seizures as a teenager, which he has said were brought on by sexual activity. He spoke openly in “Crumb” about sexually assaulting women in the 1970s and being placed in a psychiatric ward for two weeks. Charles, who was intermittently institutionalized throughout his life, was a Disney obsessive and got Robert interested in making comics. But Charles wasn’t able to hold a job or leave home, and was treated for schizophrenia. He committed suicide in 1992.

Given his family history, I ask Crumb if he’s ever been to therapy. “No,” he says, though he once made an attempt. He didn’t attend college, and when he was 19, he moved to Cleveland. “I was profoundly, chronically depressed,” Crumb says. “I didn’t have any money for a therapist, but I went to this clinic that was associated with Western Reserve University. These students would give you therapy, practicing to be psychiatrists or whatever. So I talked to this guy for a couple of hours. He didn’t say much. And at the end, I said, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Eh, you’ll probably get over it.’” Instead, creating comics became “therapy, of a kind,” he says. “It just kept me alive, basically. Otherwise, I was nothing — just a cipher, a ghost in the world. I couldn’t do anything else. It maybe saved me from becoming more of a sociopath.”

The critic Robert Hughes has compared him to Bruegel, with his images of hedonism and suffering, but Crumb also evokes a painting tradition in Weimar-era Germany called lustmord, literally “sex murder,” in which artists like Otto Dix and George Grosz painted scenes of rape and mutilated female bodies that captured the nihilism in Europe between the world wars. Yet Crumb is perhaps most directly indebted to the 19th-century political cartoonist Thomas Nast, who helped bring down Tammany Hall and New York’s Boss Tweed political machine. A framed Nast hangs in the Crumbs’ hallway: an 1871 drawing of a tiger (a representation of Tammany politics) mauling a woman, who stands for justice, before an enormous audience in a coliseum. “What are you going to do about it?” reads the caption.

Although Crumb’s work hasn’t softened in recent years, it has changed. He’s now gazing less directly at a bigoted, violent world and instead examining his distance from it. Now he’s a grandfather — Sophie, who has three children, lives a short drive away — and his comics from the past five years are often about that.

But he continues to test the boundaries of audiences. His newest comic is “The Crumb Family Covid Exposé” (2021), made with Kominsky-Crumb, 74, and Sophie — each drawing and writing themselves — and published as a limited-run magazine by David Zwirner. Crumb caught Covid-19 last fall but, well before that, he’d developed extreme conspiracy theories about the pandemic. He calls himself “resolutely anti-vax.” In conversation, he is fixated on his distrust of the medical community though, in his work, he doesn’t present this worldview as correct, or even necessarily valid. He seems to be dissecting a contrarian impulse in himself the same way he used to look at his twisted sexual fantasies. His wife, a cancer survivor, is vaccinated and, at one point in the comic, believing the shot has made her arm magnetic, he tries to see if a spoon will stick to her. “Is this a crazy person?” he asks of himself, drawing himself very much like a crazy person.

“The Crumb Family Covid Exposé” (2021), made with Aline Kominsky-Crumb, documenting Crumb’s paranoia during the pandemic.© Robert Crumb, 2021, courtesy of the artists, Paul Morris and David Zwirner

He’s still willing, in other words, to make himself ugly and unlikable in his work. There’s a question that recurs in a lot of Crumb’s art, which I found myself wondering about as he dismissed the Covid vaccines to me as merely a way to enrich Big Pharma. It’s some variation of “What’s wrong with this guy?” In one comic, called “Anal Antics” (1971), the byline is “R. ‘What-Does-It-All-Mean?’ Crumb,” and the plot features Snoid living inside a woman’s posterior. In the first panel, there’s a subtitle: “More sick humor which serves no purpose.”

“I guess the question,” I say to him, “is ‘what is the purpose?’”

“That’s a question that I often imagine being asked of me by the tribunal that I’m in front of,” he says, “up there on their dais high above me. And I just have to stand there like this.” He shrugs exaggeratedly.

“No artist who’s honest knows why he does something,” Kominsky-Crumb adds.

But what Crumb does know is that he didn’t really have a choice. He describes exploring the darkness buried within him as nothing less than a physical impulse: “I felt like it had to come out.” And people couldn’t help but look. How everybody else responded was their problem. It was never Crumb’s.

(nytimes.com)

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Sutter Buttes, photo by Lance Moores

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THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WAS DANGEROUS BEFORE TRUMP. IT'S OUT OF CONTROL NOW

The latest Trump investigation is just the latest chapter of a long-brewing civil liberties nightmare.

by Matt Taibbi

On Monday, August 8, Justice Department officials spent nine hours raiding the Mar-a-Lago home of Donald Trump, carrying out 12 boxes of material. When criticism ensued, FBI spokespeople in wounded tones insisted the press eschew the harsh term “raid,” and use “execution of a search warrant” instead. 

“Agents don’t like the word ‘raid,’ they don’t like it,” complained former assistant FBI counterintelligence director turned MSNBC analyst Frank Figliuzzi. He added with unintentional irony: “It sounds like it’s some sort of extrajudicial, non-legal thing.”

But it was a raid, as the surprisingly enormous number of people who’ve been on the business end of such actions since 9/11 will report. The state more and more now avails itself of a procedural trick that would have horrified everyone from Jefferson to Potter Stewart to Thurgood Marshall. Investigating, say, one lawyer, prosecutors raid a whole firm, taking everything — emails, client files, cell phones and personal computers — then have a supposedly separate group of lawyers, called a “taint” or “filter” team, examine it all. In this way they learn the private details of hundreds or even thousands of clients in a shot, all people unrelated to the supposed case at hand. 

But, they say, don’t worry, we’re not using any of those secrets, you can trust us. After all, we’re United States Attorneys. (And their paralegals. And legal assistants. And, perhaps, a few IRS or DEA or FBI agents, whose only job is to make cases against the types of people in those files. But still, don’t worry). Just because the whole concept of attorney-client privilege, as well as the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments — guaranteeing rights to free speech, against unreasonable searches, and to due process and legal counsel, respectively — were created to bar exactly this kind of behavior, they insist the state would never abuse this authority.

Taint team targets are unpopular. They’re accused drug dealers, terrorists, corporate tax cheats, money launderers, Medicare fraudsters, and, importantly of late, their lawyers. You can add Trump administration officials to the list now. In cases involving such people government prosecutors have begun making an extraordinary claim. As a citizen cries foul when the state peeks at attorney communications, the Justice Department increasingly argues that affording certain people rights harms the secret objectives of the secret state. 

The Trump case is almost incidental to this wider story of extralegal short-cuts, intimidation, improper searches, and especially, a constant, intensifying effort at discrediting the adversarial system in favor of an executive-branch-only vision of the law, in which your right to stand before a judge or jury would be replaced by secret bureaucratic decisions. “Trump has become the way they sell this,” says one defense attorney. “But it’s not about Trump. If you focus on Trump, you’ll miss how serious this is. And it started a long time ago.” When? “Go back to 9/11,” he says. “You’ll see.” 

What follows is a brief history of the cases leading to the controversial decisions in Donald J. Trump v. United States of America, as told by some of the key figures in those episodes. TV experts have told you Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to appoint a Special Master in Trump’s case is an “atrocious,” “shady as fuck,” “utterly lawless” ruling by a “stupid” and “profoundly partisan” jurist, placing Trump “above the law.” Have you noticed these analyses almost always come from ex-prosecutors, that you’ve been trained to not even blink at headlines like, Ex-CIA officer calls judge’s ruling in Trump case “silly,”and that defense attorneys on television are rarer than pearls?

There’s a reason for that:

On October 31, 2001, in an early preview of what was in store for civil liberties, the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons issued a new rule allowing the monitoring of communications between certain prisoners and their attorneys. Among the first targets was the infamous “Blind Sheik,” Omar Ahmad Ali Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian fundamentalist leader serving a life sentence for a conspiracy to “wage a war of urban terrorism in the United States.” 

After 9/11, the government felt it needed to apply maximum pressure not just on Rahman — whom Osama bin Laden had pledged to free a year before the Tower attacks — but his attorney, New York-based Lynne Stewart. A well-known radical lawyer in the tradition of Bill Kuntsler, Stewart came to represent Rahman on the urging of former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, essentially taking the case because no one else would. This decision would have consequences. 

We may have thought Hunter Thompson’s acid-gobbling Attorney in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was expressing a cherished national virtue when he quipped, “Even a goddamned werewolf is entitled to legal counsel,” but the Bush government was determined to change American thinking on that score. While Bill Clinton’s Justice Department passed on prosecuting Stewart, the new administration saw the lawyers for terror suspects as being among those “enemies of freedom” we needed to pursue “wherever they are.”

The first time Attorney General John Ashcroft tried to criminally charge Stewart, on April 8, 2002, it was a dramatic rollout. Ashcroft had been savaged by David Letterman over his ear-piercing rendition of “Let the Eagles Soar,” but accepted an invitation to be a Letterman guest, using the spot to announce Stewart’s indictment.

“We simply aren’t going to allow people who are convicted of terrorism continue to achieve terrorist objectives by sending messages and directing the activity from prison,” he said, to applause from Letterman’s hep audience.

Ashcroft charged Stewart with providing “material support” to a terrorist organization. The theory was Stewart aided terror by giving a press release to Reuters relaying Rahman’s remarks. The problematic line suggested Rahman was instructing followers to call off a cease-fire with the government of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Stewart, now deceased, later wrote about the message she conveyed:

The Sheik notes that while he does not have access to any real information, he believes the cease-fire has not brought about any real change in Egypt. The jails are full. Torture continues. And people are being arrested daily and tried in front of military tribunals…

Stewart was controversial but well-respected by other attorneys, many of whom were shocked by her indictment, even if they disagreed with her politics. Some were furious with her for communicating a message on Rahman’s behalf, while others felt she was just advocating for her client.

“Issuing that press release fit with the style of lawyer who believes that you have to try political cases in the court of public opinion at the same time,” says Heidi Boghosian, who knew Stewart well, and was Director of National Lawyers Guild at the time.

The government raided Stewart’s law office. They took boxes of rolodexes, audio tapes, and computers, which “had also been used to perform legal work for clients of other attorneys… or for clients of the defendant who were not identified in the warrant and who likely have no relation to this case,” a judge later wrote.

The state’s plan was to assign a “special team of officers” to take possession of all this stuff — a taint team, though it wasn’t called that — start rifling through it, and direct questions about privilege to “a special Assistant United States Attorney” who’d supposedly been “walled off from the prosecuting team.”

Through this method Ashcroft and then-Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney James Comey sought not only the full documentary cavity search of Stewart, but of every one of her clients not named Rahman, along with every attorney who worked with Stewart, and every one of their clients. Under the auspices of an internal privilege “review,” in other words, the government got a free look at the material they would have had the hardest time gaining permission to search through normal means — protected communications between criminal attorneys and their clients.

Stewart balked, immediately demanding a Special Master be put in charge of keeping these protected files out of government hands. At the time, this seemed a no-brainer. Stewart’s son Geoff, also an attorney at the firm, says the fact they had so many other cases involving Comey’s office made the concept of a mass seizure of firm documents a nightmarish proposition. “It really would be like dropping a bomb it to have the same office go through all of our confidential materials,” he says.

The judge in Stewart’s case, John Koeltl, agreed. “It is important that the procedure adopted in this case not only be fair but also appear to be fair,” he said. Koeltl also noted that the government argued that what they’d done was fine, because the Attorney General’s own manual permitted the use of “privilege teams.” This argument was the legal equivalent of the famous quip about Donald Trump being sincere about Making America Great Again because it’s “on his hat.” Koeltl wrote it was nice the Attorney General wrote a manual giving himself permission to do things, but there was no lawgiving these literary endeavors meaning:

The government argues that it has a standard procedure in place for handling law office searches… The United States Attorney’s Manual, which is issued by the Department of Justice, provides a number of highly detailed guidelines… Nevertheless… The government also concedes that it is unaware of any judicial decision in this District that has compared the relative merits of using a Special Master and using a government privilege team…

Notwithstanding Koeltl’s ruling, Ashcroft and Comey kept after Stewart, eventually charging her under a new legal theory that she’d allowed Rahman to receive and give out messages to the world through his translator, during his (monitored) jailhouse meetings with Stewart. She was convicted and initially sentenced to 28 months. The Bush administration felt the term was insufficiently punitive and Stewart was ultimately re-sentenced to 10 years, of which she served three, before being released to die of breast cancer at the age of 77.

Numerous lawyers said the Stewart case changed the way many in the profession plotted their careers. The case “scared the shit out of the radicals,” says one. Others saw a change in young associates.

“The impact was felt largely with altruistic young attorneys, or even law students, people who want to save the world, work for the underdog,” says Boghosian.

“I think in some ways [the case] was probably clarifying for maybe some on the left,” says Geoff Stewart. “There were some that were a little bit pollyanic about being a lawyer, including my mother — you know, the idea that somehow you’re insulated because you’re playing within a game of rules.”

It soon became apparent that in the War on Terror age, rules meant less and less to prosecutors, and tactics like the use of taint teams, once rare, became more common. In one episode from the early 2000s, investigators began looking at the dealings of a company called New Venture and its onetime director, Larry Winget. This case has some similarities with the Trump matter. Winget, the target, asked for an independent review, saying some subpoenaed materials were privileged communications.

The government opposed, saying that by asking for an independent privilege review, Winget was:

Requesting this Court to allow him to insert himself into the middle of a grand jury investigation so that he can be the first to screen documents produced . . . [to] subvert the orderly functioning of the grand jury process.

The government was previewing an argument it would soon be making regularly, and would make in the Trump case: that allowing a defendant to hit pause on a case to make sure his rights weren’t violated would irreparably harm the secret investigation. To avoid this tragedy, the court should just let a taint team handle things.

The lower district court agreed. In an appeal to the Sixth Circuit, judges took a starkly opposite view. They knocked down filter team use in strong language, saying in the procedure, “the government’s fox is left in charge of the appellants’ henhouse.”

This ruling would be among the first of a string of opinions dumping not only on filter-team seizures, but other high-handed methods of getting access to otherwise protected information. Abuses were becoming common, particularly in high-profile cases. The Justice Department had begun costing itself, almost as much as its targets, with a worsening addiction to procedural overreach. Via fiascoes like the Andrew Weissmann-led Enron prosecution — which among other things saw the Supreme Court overturn the conviction of already-destroyed Arthur Andersen — the Justice Department was gaining a reputation for being better at grandstanding and trying cases in the press than performing in front of juries.

They increasingly relied instead on tactics like intimidating potential defense witnesses, including by naming huge quantities of unindicted co-conspirators, who often turn informant to avoid being next. There were nearly 300 unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case, including the Council on US-Islamic Relations, and 114 in just an Enron case with a conspicuously small number of defense witnesses, leading celebrated human rights lawyer Michael Tigar to comment:

I have never seen defendants in a major public trial, especially a white-collar trial, so completely ostracized by witnesses with pertinent information… This level of silence is not normal.

The DOJ also began piling obscene quantities of charges that impress reporters but confuse jurors, like the staggering 362 counts in the drug case of a Tucson doctor, dropped to four when she pleaded out, or the 164 counts, none of which ended in conviction, against certain Enron defendants.

The DOJ threatened companies with prosecution if they paid employees’ legal fees, constantly misrepresented the nature of charges against high-profile defendants to the press (Arthur Andersen was routinely described as accused of obstruction, which requires proof of knowledge of a crime, when the real charge was an obscure theory of witness tampering; even Rahman was never actually convicted of the 1993 Trade Center bombing), and was repeatedly nailed for withholding exculpatory material. Meanwhile the serially unpunished, illegal leaking of grand jury or classified material to dirty up potential defendants and their lawyers has became routine.

All of the above innovations were characteristic of an agency that was improving all the time at bullying defendants into pleas but getting worse and worse at proving cases at trial. This was and is borne out in the numerical decline of trials. After World War II, 20 percent of criminal cases went to court. Today the number is under 2%.

The frustration of courts with deception and intimidation tactics on the part of federal prosecutors came to be expressed in a pre-Trump movement dubbed the “Magistrate’s Revolt.”

Judges were especially upset with prosecutors who were taking advantage of technological changes to seize masses of electronic data — usually computers or cell phones containing private information outside the scope of the warrant request — and, in defiance of courts, keeping that information. In a case involving seizure of emails from a defense contractor suspected of a kickback scheme, a D.C. Magistrate named John Facciola expressed concern that the government would “keep data indefinitely” despite the fact that it is “illegal” to refuse to return “seized documents not described in a warrant.” Facciola, who’d dealt with this issue more than once, blew his top:

For the sixth time, this Court must be clear: if the government seizes data it knows is outside the scope of the warrant, it must either destroy the data or return it. It cannot simply keep it.

Facciola was persuasive, but overturned by a judge, Richard Roberts, who said the government’s take-everything, construct-probable-cause-later method was okay so long as there was “sufficient chance of finding some needles in the computer haystack.” This was the kind of judicial advice the feds liked: seize now, worry later.

In 2019, the DOJ tried, and failed, to take a major step forward in mass-seizing privileged material. The case was a historic and deserved face-plant for the Justice Department, and ended up being the one Cannon just cited in appointing a Special Master in the Trump case.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland had long been pursuing a lawyer named Ken Ravenell, one of the top criminal attorneys in Baltimore, believing he was essentially part of the criminal operation of a Jamaican marijuana kingpin named Richard Byrd.

That the feds raided Ravenell’s office in 2014 was one thing. The real shocker came in 2019, when the U.S. Attorney and the I.R.S. raided the law office of Ravenell’s lawyer, Joshua Treem. If the Lynne Stewart case was about intimidating the lawyer of a suspect, this case was about intimidating the lawyer of the lawyer of a suspect.

The DOJ didn’t just take Treem’s files. It took huge amounts of data and files from the firm where Treem was and is a partner, Brown, Goldstein, and Levy. This group of lawyers had been repeatedly recognized as a top firm by U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers in America, with several attorneys winning annual “Baltimore Lawyer of the Year” awards, including Treem himself. Despite their standing, the Justice Department treated Treem’s firm like terror suspects, delivering a surprise search replete with armed, kevlar-clad agents, on the basis of a warrant issued in an ex parte hearing with a district judge, meaning the firm had no chance to contest the raid.

The Brown, Goldstein, and Levy lawyers were in a state of shock. “For a civil rights law office, mid-morning on a business day, in the middle of Baltimore, they felt the need to get fully armed,” says Treem, laughing in amazement as he recalls the scene.

“They never even sent a subpoena,” says fellow partner Kobie Flowers, who took pictures of the raid. “That was part of our argument later in the Fourth Circuit. We’re all officers of the court. We all have ethical duties to follow. We can’t destroy evidence. Had you just sent a subpoena for this stuff, we would have given it over to you.”

One consequence of becoming a criminal suspect was that Treem, who’d received a target letter six months before, had a conflict of interest that prevented him from defending Ravenell, which of course might have been part of the point. “I had to withdraw from representing my client,” says Treem. “Once I got the target letter, I had to advise my current clients and any people who were calling me to ask for representation.”

Asked if such tactics could be interpreted as a message, that any attorney who wants to stay in business should think twice about representing someone the government is serious about pursuing, Flowers said the intimidation factor goes further than that. “On the one hand, it’s a strategy move. They get to kick Josh off the case,” he said. “But the next step, or a corollary to that thought, is: for many criminal defense attorneys, it causes them to question whether they want to be in this profession?”

Flowers, himself a former prosecutor of corrupt police officers, added: “Who’s going to raise their hand against the most powerful government in the history of humankind, if doing so means that you might be searched, have armed agents raid your offices, and then be wrongly accused?”

The government took 37,000 emails from Treem’s inbox alone, of which only 62 were from Ravenell or contained his name. Treem’s firm had over twenty lawyers, files about whom were taken into the custody of a separate office of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office. As a judge in the case later wrote, referencing Treem and Ravenell as Lawyer A and Client A:

An “extensive” portion of the seized emails were “from other [Law Firm] attorneys concerning . . . other attorneys’ clients that have no connection with th[e] investigation[s]” of Lawyer A and Client A. Notably, some of those Law Firm clients “are being investigated by, or are being prosecuted by, the United States Attorney’s Office [for the District of Maryland] for unrelated crimes.”

In other words, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland decided to cruise through the defense files of clients that same office was already investigating and/or prosecuting. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert King at one point repeated the Sixth Circuit’s fox/henhouse analogy in thunderous tones, and along with chief Judges Roger Gregory and Allison Jones Rushing, blasted the lower court in a written opinion, saying that by endorsing a filter team, it “erred in assigning judicial functions to the executive branch.”

The 4th Circuit ruling is remarkably one-sided. As one attorney pointed out, it chided the state by using the word rummage four times, as in “Federal agents and prosecutors rummaging through law firm materials that are protected by attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine is at odds with the appearance of justice,” and, “Indeed, we discern no harm to the government in barring the Filter Team from rummaging through Law Firm materials that are unrelated to the underlying investigations.” The latter incidentally is a consistent theme in taint-team cases, that not only does the practice make a joke of attorney-client privilege and the separation of powers, the government is clearly not harmed by having to forego it.

“Judge Robert King said very clearly that the determination of privilege is a judicial function,” says Flowers. “It is not an executive function. And try as, as it might, DOJ has never been able to deal with that—taint teams are an unconstitutional abuse of power.”

The 4th Circuit ruling was such a wipeout that the lawyer who argued on behalf of Treem, James Ulwick — if you’re keeping score, that’s the lawyer for the lawyer for the lawyer of the government’s original drug-dealer target — found himself hoping the Justice Department would overreact.

“I was hoping they would take it to the Supreme Court,” Ulwick says now. “But they chickened out.”

Another prominent attorney, unconnected to the Baltimore case, seconded the thought. “No one ever takes this thing all the way up,” he said. “But someone has to.”

Treem was eventually acquitted of falsifying documents, obstructing an official proceeding and conspiring to commit crimes against the federal government in a decision widely seen as an embarrassment to the government. “The jury’s unanimous verdict confirms that Joshua Treem did nothing wrong but rather acted as the superb defense attorney that he is,” the Washington Post quoted lawyer Andrew E. Levy as saying afterward. “I used to have a lot of respect for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I was one of them, but this [prosecution] was wrong,” another attorney, Gerard Martin told the Baltimore Sun.

Even the state’s case against Ravenell was widely seen as a disaster. Accused of racketeering, narcotics, obstruction, and money-laundering, the jury acquitted on all but the money-laundering charge, and even there, conviction rested on testimony from, of all people, Byrd, whom one attorney called “the least credible witness in the history of the federal courts.” A University of Maryland law professor named Doug Colbert said he was troubled by the precedent. “To be convicted on testimony from a former client bodes ill for lawyers being able to develop a trusting relationship with clients,” he said.

Mass searches continued to proliferate outside the 4th Circuit, often disastrously and to the irritation of judges. The Michael Avenatti fraud case ended in mistrial because prosecutors seized computers from Avenatti’s firm and handed them over to a filter team, which then failed to deliver exculpatory material to Avenatti. In Harbor Healthcare LP v. United States of America, the Fifth Circuit ruled the government had shown “callous disregard” when it failed to seek approval from a judge before it seized as many as 4,000 privileged emails without “intent to respect Harbor’s interest in the privacy of its privileged materials.”

Then there was the investigation of Roger Ng, the Goldman, Sachs banker wrapped up in the infamous 1MDB case involving the looting of Malaysian wealth funds. 121,668 pages of discovery material was taken, and just before opening statements, prosecutors disclosed their filter team had delivered to them communications between a witness and his lawyer. A blog at famed firm Boies Schiller commented:

The filter team had permitted the most basic form of attorney-client communications – communications between the witness and his lawyer about the very subject matter of the investigation – to be produced to the case team in bulk.

Two lawyers I spoke with who’d been involved in taint team cases described being told the mass seizure of privileged files was okay because “it’s in the manual.” One recalled thinking: “I don’t give a shit what your manual says.” This may sound like a small/absurd detail, but it’s characteristic of Justice Department thinking in the War on Terror age. In one arena after another, there have been attempts to replace open, adversarial legal proceedings with internal, executive branch procedures, a kind of bureaucratization of law. Former Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the mindset perfectly in a speech explaining the Obama administration’s reasoning in giving itself power to extrajudicially American citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki.

“The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process,” Holder said, in 2012, echoing the exact logic behind the FBI using “filter teams” to do the jobs of judges.

Another example involves so-called “National Security Letters.” The FBI after 9/11 began sending these out by the tens of thousands, demanding Internet companies, banks, consumer reporting companies, and other firms hand over private customer information, while obeying a gag order preventing them from telling customers about the surveillance. When the Electronic Frontier Foundation attempted to challenge the system, the government argued that allowing people to just oppose such searches absent some special legal justification placed an unfair burden on secret investigators.

Watch below, beginning at roughly the 27-minute mark, as a government lawyer first goes on and on about all the stringent rules the Attorney General has put in place forcing FBI agents to make sure secrecy is still necessary in the “tens of thousands” of NSLs sent out every year — as if it’s not insane to begin with that they do this — before he shifts gears to complain that allowing people to object to these searches just because they dislike them would be de minimis, too easy, like “sending a postcard.”

By complaining about the de minimis objections of search targets, the state approaches an argument that people or companies need a higher level of justification, something like probable cause, just to claim 4th Amendment rights. They imply judicial review of such procedures is redundant, since the FBI already “must, on its own, undertake review.” This is not an isolated instance. The state already conducts its own disclosure assessments, its own privilege assessments, and even sets its own bar for approving “lethal action.” These may not be judicial processes, but they are “processes,” which this new version of the DOJ believes genuinely satisfies constitutional obligations.

Which brings us to l’Affaire Trump.

The reviled former president Donald Trump has become a giant media version of a Trojan Horse, inside which the Justice Department has assembled an army for a grand assault on civil liberties. The rout is already on.

In Trump-related cases, the DOJ has pushed the tactical envelope in all the same ways it has with other types of unpopular defendants over the years, only it’s done so with a disturbing (and perhaps correct) presumption that the public wants them to color outside the lines more than ever, and deal even more cruelly with targets. The DOJ has political winds at its back it lacked even in the early War on Terror days as it campaigns openly to replace an adversarial system with Judge Dredd style, guilty-when-charged, one-stop-shopping justice.

Not just the Justice Department but multiple federal enforcement agencies have cheated and bullied in countless cases involving the Orange One, without inspiring a whit of outrage from traditional civil liberties defenders.

Whether it’s the FBI lying to the FISA court to get authority to secretly spy on the obviously minor character Carter Page, or prosecutors falsely claiming Maria Butina sold sexual favors (inspiring countless headlines identifying her as a Red Sparrow-style prostitute-spy) before sending her off to solitary confinement for no reason, or sending undercover agents to spy on Michael Flynn when he went with Trump to a pre-election security briefing held by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (meaning, as Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted, the FBI was effectively spying on the ODNI’s office as well), or burying exculpatory reports from informants about everyone from Page to George Papadopoulous, falsely spreading rumors to journalists that Flynn had an affair with an Oxford PhD candidate, lying to journalists (and even congress) by claiming the release of the name of long-ago outed government source Stefan Halper could “risk lives,” and my personal favorite, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller arguing that obliging the defense’s right to discovery in a case against a Russian suspect “unreasonably risks the national security interests of the United States,” federal investigators have seemed almost proud of their indifference to due process in the last seven years.

One major innovation, however, is the DOJ/FBI investigation that never leads to formal charges or a trial, but is ostentatiously covered in the news media, almost as if that is the point. The DOJ isn’t just involving itself in censoring news stories, even true news stories, it has also become a major generator of news, whispering thousands of headlines into existence in the last seven years, which their own former employees then comment upon on television. The pee tape for instance never got near a courtroom, but the FBI director helped create the “hook” the networks needed to report it by holding a meeting with then-President-elect Trump that was leaked to CNN (and soon, the rest of the world) within about five minutes. The agency has become a driver of public opinion in ways the Pentagon after 9/11 never dreamed of.

Moreover, in a story that continues to be almost totally unreported, virtually every federal agency that’s investigated Trump across the last six years has leaked its balls off, brazenly violating laws against the release of grand jury information or classified material, with the clear purpose to intimidate. The public found out in CNN 72 hours ahead of time that the first two charges in Robert Mueller’s investigation had been dropped by a grand jury, there were countless stories about grand jury proceedings regarding Manafort, officials leaked the contents of U.S. intercepts in the infamous Washington Post story about Michael Flynn talking to a Russian ambassador, intelligence sources leaked, falsely, that Trump officials had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence, there were leaks of material from the supposedly sacred secure reading facility of the Senate Intelligence Committee, CNN leaked word of secret intelligence assessments about Donald Trump’s supposed vulnerability to blackmail, there was the Washington Post story about Erik Prince’s supposed “backchannel” meeting with Russians in the Seychelles that clearly came from intercepted signals intelligence, and on, and on, and on.

Leaks, illegal or otherwise, matter, can destroy reputations and seriously complicate a defense. “We were made aware that my plea deal was leaked to the press by the Special Counsel,” says former Trump advisor Rick Gates. “It’s a tactic. It adds pressure.” Regarding filter teams, Gates has a crazy story about the seizure of his communications. “Their intention is to filter out attorney client privilege, or spousal privilege, but they still read and review the material.” he says. “My wife sent me a scripture reference from the Bible, as encouragement. They didn’t know how to read it, so they showed it to me in one of my interviews. And they’re like, ‘What’s this?’” He laughs. “I said, it’s scripture from the Bible. And I said, where did you get it? And then they just said, okay, let’s move on.”

Again, a lot of what’s gone on in the Trump years involves the same stunts the DOJ pulled in earlier cases. Butina joined Rahman and Arthur Anderson in seeing her charges consistently misrepresented, as law enforcement sources used confusion over the term “agent” to induce news agencies to describe her using phrases like “convicted spy Maria Butina” (she was actually convicted of a much less serious offense, and certainly not of espionage). Even this latest Trump case, just like the Julian Assange case, has all sorts of commentators confusing the “Espionage Act” with espionage. And the January 6th probe, one of the largest investigations in history, looks headed for a record number of unindicted co-conspirators (and reluctant cooperators), eclipsing even cases like the Holy Land extravaganza. Because these cases are Trump-related, few people ponder the implications.

“That’s the story with progressives and people who care about civil rights and liberties,” says Flowers, who now represents some of the January 6th defendants. “You don’t turn on MSNBC and see them talking. Instead it’s a former CIA person, a former FBI person, a former DOD person, a former federal prosecutor… These are all the people we don’t ask to protect our civil liberties.”

Defense lawyers describe a dramatic change in the attitude of federal prosecutors, who in the Trump years especially began giving off a vibe they describe as part activist, part menace, part secret society weirdness. “Cops go home and have barbecues, try to forget,” says one lawyer. “These people never turn off whatever they are now, and whatever that is is creepy. Like Hale-Bopp cultists, except they put people in jail.”

“If you have the wrong client, they talk to you like the help,” says one attorney. “A lawyer half your age gets on the line and expects you to kiss his ass. And you might even do it, because these people are fucking crazy. They’re capable of anything.”

Several lawyers talked about how the government’s willingness to prosecute either under draconian laws like the Espionage Act, or “weird shit like the Logan Act,” as one put it, or stack the deck by invoking national security or peeking at privileged material, will make defendants hesitate to fight back, particularly when they’re armed with so much information. For instance prosecutors, and the inevitable filter agents, took an incredible ten million documents in the case of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Unlike Trump, who waited two weeks to do so, Cohen wisely requested the appointment of a special master to review this material right away. Robert Khuzami, on behalf of the U.S Attorney’s office, sent an amazing letter to Judge Kimba Wood opposing Cohen’s request.

“The Government continues to believe a Special Master is not warranted,” he wrote, adding, “indeed… review of any material by a Special Master would not commence until at least June.” The memo was sent on April 18th of that year, 2018. Speed was basically Khuzami’s only argument against the Special Master. The government was insisting, seriously, that allowing the U.S. Attorney’s office to risk violating attorney-client privilege for the sitting president of the United States was less harmful than delaying its investigation for six weeks.

Meanwhile, prosecutors drew up another over-broad, 41-page warrant in the raid on the home of Manafort, where prosecutors again took anything and everything, and “copied devices and left him the originals.” Bloomberg, like basically all media outlets now, either consciously or unconsciously used language of officialdom in describing the raid, claiming prosecutors “used a filter team to avoid seizing material protected by attorney-client privilege,” even though seizing privileged material is what filter teams exist to do.

Journalists now routinely use language seemingly designed to prep potential jurors for prosecution. In both the case of Julian Assange and the current Trump case, reporters refer to mishandled or stolen “national defense information,” which by an amazing coincidence is exactly the language used in the Espionage Act.

Reporters have almost universally eschewed the term “riot” to describe January 6th, reflexively using “insurrection” and “insurrectionist,” which again, just happens to the language of the likely charge in play, 18 U.S. Code § 2384, “Seditious conspiracy” (both of those words are constantly used by media also). Some outlets install prejudicial presumptions of guilt in the headline, as in PBS’s “Oath Keepers’ lawyer arrested in connection with Jan. 6 insurrection.” Reporters likely don’t see the problem here, but if part of a lawyer’s defense is that what happened on January 6th was not an insurrection but an ordinary riot, he or she will have a steep hill to climb with a jury pool that by now has heard the word “insurrection” ten million times.

Now we have the Mar-a-Lago case, where the Justice Department again asked for the broadest possible search parameters, and once again brought a filter team with them, an up-front admission that they were themselves concerned about privilege issues. However, when Trump asked Judge Cannon to have someone other than the same agency investigating him rule on those issues — to have the correct branch of government decide privilege matters, in other words — there was universal outrage both among law enforcement commentators and media figures, as if catastrophe would ensue from any delay on the road to prosecution.

Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, once a legal authority but now best known as the only person on Twitter crazier than Rob Reiner, wrote in The Guardian that Judge Cannon’s ruling “has to rank high in the annals of the worst reasoned judicial decisions in American history,” because a delay could have political implications, thwarting the obvious “need to prosecute Trump as soon as possible after this November’s midterm elections.”

Tribe isn’t obligated to agree with Cannon and he’s certainly free to loathe Donald Trump, but he should hurl his 2011 “Liberty, Justice, and Equality” award from the ACLU back by catapult if he thinks a judge’s rejection of filter teams — an innovation specifically invented by the executive branch to subvert the judiciary — is one of the worst decisions of all time.

Not that Tribe’s comments are unusual. The resolute lawyer-defender of civil liberties, a sometimes-ponytailed radical who was once a dependable stock character in American society, has mostly chosen to sit this period out. “Progressives and civil libertarians have fallen silent in the age of Trump,” is how Flowers puts it.

The Justice Department’s Espionage Act case against Trump is based on the notion that improper possession of “national defense information” by an ex-president — a walking biological repository of state secrets — can only be stopped by the FBI, the soul of organizational rectitude and the only body we can trust to secure classified material.

Now, Trump’s behavior is eccentric at best and even some sympathetic defense lawyers I talked to suggested this case involving classified material raised “interesting” questions about the difficulty of dealing with such issues in an ordinary criminal court. But the argument that the ex-president needs to be jailed posthaste is a little hard to take seriously when FBI sources are, once again, illegally leaking secrets about their investigative targets as they pursue Trump for… mishandling secrets.

The latest incidents involve leaks of grand jury material, specifically subpoenas headed to perhaps 50 Trump-connected figures, conspicuously involving some of the last people willing to serve as Trump counsel, like Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell and Victoria Toensing and Boris Epshteyn. Many of these people have already been raided, had their phones seized, and even been the subject of FISA surveillance. Now, some of them found out the next subpoena was coming in the middle of the previous week, via phone calls from a Politico reporter who somehow knew grand jury details.

Crimes like the Espionage Act are intentionally drawn up to make conviction easy and punishment severe. Americans need to ask themselves what’s more dangerous: Donald Trump, or a federal law enforcement bureaucracy prosecutes people for the same rules it breaks, regularly argues that national security is harmed by allowing you to see the case against you, and appears ready to start using its vast power to punish political offenses? Is getting Donald Trump worth tossing out constitutional protections? Because that’s where this is all headed.

“When you have principles,” says Flowers, “sometimes those principles even protect people you don’t like.” But we need them, and if we don’t protect them, we’ll lose them.

* * *

7 Comments

  1. Marmon September 18, 2022

    “For six straight years, I’ve been harassed, investigated, defamed, slandered, and persecuted like no other President & probably like no one in American history…”

    -Donald J. Trump last night at the “Save America Rally” in Youngstown Ohio.

    Marmon

    • Bruce McEwen September 18, 2022

      Save America?

      Too late, buddy. This country’s been bought and sold to Lucifer. Happened back in the Seventies when my dear old Uncle Del, dead and gone these many years, used to lament, “Goodbye America.”

      Years later it was Gerry Brown’s “Take back America” campaign slogan. But the money grubbers went for the Clintons instead.

      Shows how out of touch today’s sordid grifters are to come up with such a lame slogan, as if there was anything worth saving left.

    • Marshall Newman September 18, 2022

      Delusional.

  2. Chuck Dunbar September 18, 2022

    Mr. Victim he is. And surely not a patriot or a leader of merit. Grow up and act like a man, Donald.

    • Chuck Dunbar September 18, 2022

      VICTIM MENTALITY—aka D. TRUMP

      Some pathological aspects of victim mentality:

      Angry or resentful of others’ good fortune
      Tells the same negative stories over and over
      Self-pity and a strong sense of entitlement
      Often defensive and sensitive to criticism
      Lacks empathy for other people’s problems 
      Overly concerned about “keeping score” and fairness
      Believes everyone else has it easier than they do
      Never accepts personal responsibility or criticism from others, no matter how gently it’s phrased

  3. Michael Geniella September 18, 2022

    Good to hear the District Attorney has his gutters cleaned out, and he is ready for the rainy season. Now maybe he can find time to publicly answer the questions put to him about the police misconduct cases involving former Ukiah Police Sgt. Kevin Murray, and ousted Police Chief Noble Waidelich.

    • Jimmy September 18, 2022

      Thank you, my exact thoughts too. No one cares about his gutters. The citizens in this country want honest answers about the extemely weak Kevin Murray deal. Eyster disgusts me.

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