Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Two reasons for optimism -- and one big reason for pessimism

People don't come here for optimism. My basic message was set to music by Gustav Mahler: Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod. But even I, the gloomiest Gus on the bus, can see two small rationales for a positive attitude.

Reason 1. Roger Stone has signaled that Trump won't run again in 2020.
“I could see him saying ‘You know what? I don’t need this anymore. I’ve made America great again. I have kept my promises to the American people. I’m heading off to the golf course,’” Stone said of Trump to the online web show "Howley Reports."
In an old Simpsons episode, Poppy Bush writes: "Having accomplished everything I wanted in my first term, there was no need for a second."

Reason 2. Near as I can tell, the Republicans in the Senate have made no genuine moves to get rid of the filibuster. In other words, they see the possibility of losing power.

I keep saying that election fraud is real, that the fix is in, that the "blue wave" will become a red victory parade. If the Republican leadership mounts a serious anti-filibuster campaign, you'll know that the fix is in. Change will then be as impossible in the U.S. as it is in Russia.

Here comes the pessimism! The controversy over Stefan Halper's surveillance of the Trump campaign has directed attention to the Inspector General of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz. Basically, Horowitz will run an investigation of the FBI concerning the FISA smear and the Halper smear.

The talking heads on MSNBC keep telling us that Horowitz is a stand-up guy. That was his reputation.

Throughout 2017, Horowitz was the target of a smear campaign which played out on various far-right websites, including those out-of-nowhere "news" sites which might as well have the words "Made in St. Petersburg" embedded into the HTML code. Suddenly, the smear campaign stopped -- and Horowitz began making decisions helpful to Trump.

For example, Horowitz is the reason why those emails between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok went public and became a boon to Republican propagandists. And we never did learn just why McCabe had to be fired in such a way as to assure the loss of his pension. The whole tale of McCabe's dismissal still seems pretty damned fishy to me.

And I'm quite convinced that Horowitz is responsible for the release of the emails which provide the basis for this lovely bit of agit-prop concerning the "infamous" Steele dossier. The right keeps pretending that the Steele dossier was classified, even though it was no more "classified" than are the words you're reading right now. The dossier was written by a foreign national, who was free to share his work with anyone he pleased. Similarly, anyone in our government was free to field questions about the thing from journalists, just as anyone in our government is free to discuss this very blog post, should they have a mind to do so.

In preceding posts, I've speculated that someone got to Horowitz. Does Mr. Clean have a secret which renders him open to kompromat? I don't know. All I know is that his behavior has suddenly become very Trump-friendly.

Turns out I'm not the only one who believes that something odd is up with Horowitz. Although I may still be the only one irresponsible enough to give voice to such thoughts in public, certain notable people behind the scenes have started to ponder the same "forbidden" idea.

(How do I know this? A little birdy. Maybe two birdies.)

Everyone -- at least, everyone on the left -- has forgotten about the upcoming IG report on the FBI's handling of Hillary's emails. Given Horowitz' recent behavior, I expect the worst -- and I'm not the only one with dire forebodings.
Of all the politically charged reports accusing law enforcement of misconduct since President Donald Trump took office, this one from the Inspector General's office -- now 17 months in the making -- has the potential to deliver the stiffest blow for officials who formerly occupied the highest positions within the FBI and Justice Department.

"It's not going to be good, it's just a question of how bad it's going to be," said one former Justice Department official.
Of course, it's possible that Horowitz could tell us what really happened concerning that clique of FBI agents loyal to Giuliani. At the time, much reporting suggested that this clique played a role in the exposure of the Anthony Wiener laptop.

But I don't think we're going to get the truth about that. I think that this report will be a propaganda bonanza for the GOP. I think we're going to be inundated with more Comey-bashing, more Hillary-bashing, and definitely more Rosenstein-bashing. Further attacks on Rosenstein could be truly disastrous, as Asha Rangappa details here.

Just look at the advance peeks we received yesterday. Here's Fox:
There are suspicions about whether there was an effort to delay pursuing those Clinton files. The Washington Post first reported in January that Horowitz was investigating whether McCabe wanted to avoid taking action on the laptop findings until after the presidential election.
Horowitz’s investigation has looked at a variety of allegations, including whether it was improper for Comey to make a public announcement about not recommending prosecution over the Clinton email arrangement.

Horowitz’s review has already put McCabe in legal jeopardy. The Justice Department’s internal watchdog sent a criminal referral for McCabe in April to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.

That was in response to Horowitz’s finding that McCabe leaked information to the press about the investigation and later lied about it to Comey and federal investigators, prompting Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire him in March.

The report is also expected to criticize two FBI officials who exchanged derogatory text messages about Trump while they worked on the Clinton investigation.
Here's The Hill:
The report, which will be released next month, according to the AP, will fault Comey and other top FBI officials for not acting more quickly on reviewing the emails. Some officials reportedly knew weeks earlier about the emails, but delayed obtaining a warrant to investigate them.

The inspector general report on the Clinton emails, which is also expected to criticize the two FBI agents who exchanged anti-Trump text messages, is the result of an investigation launched in early 2017, according to the AP.
All of this is designed to buttress Trump's argument that the FBI was party to a pro-Democratic conspiracy. The charge is bullshit, of course. (If the FBI was pro-Hillary, why didn't the Bureau reveal that it was investigating Trump?) But with Horowitz now in the Trump camp, as he seems to be, the propaganda will gain formidable sticking power.

Folks, we're about to get punched. It'll be the kind of punch that can make your face explode in blood.

As I said: People don't come here for optimism.

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