The President’s Joseph McCarthy

Attorney General Willam Barr testifying before the Senate Wednesday. Photo by Sarah Silbiger.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Thursday, the Attorney General of the United States refused to testify before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Yes, he skipped school on an important day. Call the truancy officer. He was going to be asked about why he lied to the American people about the content of the Special Counsel’s report into Russian meddling with the 2016 election, and why he lied when he said he did not know Mueller objected to his characterization of what the investigation discovered.

When the Special Counsel’s results were first reported in the media in late March, based on facts in the 448-page document, the headline could have read, “Mueller Confirmed Trump Campaign had 100 Russia Contacts.” It could have read, “Trump Team Destroyed Evidence of Probable Conspiracy.” It could have read, “Trump Tried to Fire Mueller Repeatedly.” It could have read, “Trump Not Exonerated of Obstruction.”

That’s a pretty darned good looking corpse — Roy Cohn, 1964, World Telegram & Sun photo by Herman Hiller.

Instead, The New York Times reported on Sunday, March 24, “Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, Barr says.” The next day, the top headline read, “A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency is Lifted.” The Washington Post said, “Mueller Finds No Conspiracy.” The Wall Street Journal: “Mueller Finds No Trump Collusion.”

This was a complete, 180-degree reversal, done right before our eyes. How was this possible?

The law governing the Special Counsel’s investigation required that Robert Mueller III deliver his report to the Attorney General of the United States, who is William Barr. From there, it was up to Barr to do what he wanted with the information. And what he did was write a memo, delivered to Congress two days later, that said Mueller did not document a criminal conspiracy with Russia and did not charge the president with obstruction of justice.

As I read these headlines going by, I was just astonished over and over again. Not one single journalist or editor had read the report. All they had was the word of the new Attorney General, appointed by Trump to be his Roy Cohn.

You would need to be a bit of a history buff to know who that is. Cohn was chief counsel for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who for eight years was the leading provocateur of the House Committee on Un-American Activities — that is, the witch hunts for communists in the United States. Cohn rose to prominence as a prosecutor of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as Russian spies, which led to their executions in 1953.

There Were No Card-Carrying Commies

When you hear the name Roy Cohn, think “Soviet communist plot” and “Joe McCarthy.” It was McCarthy who famously said, “I have here in my hand a list of 205, a list of names made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party, who are nevertheless still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player, testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, July 18, 1949. He was called to testify for his statement that it was “unthinkable” that blacks would go to war against the Soviet Union.

It was a bluff. The number then morphed over the next days: “207 bad risks,” “81 loyalty risks,” “57 card-carrying Communists,” and so on. But not one was a card-carrying Communist. Was there even such a thing? Many people had their lives destroyed just by being accused of having Communist sympathies, and it was Cohn and McCarthy who led the charge — with the American public cheering. Some got on various lists for being homosexual, others for having liberal views, others for refusing to turn in their friends.

Those accused were usually denied the presence of an attorney, or asked to defend themselves without being able to cross-examine the accuser.

Frustrated with his first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, Pres. Trump famously said he wanted his own “Roy Cohn” in that role. What’s so amazing is that Trump as a younger man knew Cohn personally: Cohn was one of his early mentors. When Cohn was dying of AIDS in 1986, Trump just as famously refused to visit him in the hospital to thank him or say goodbye.

Can you imagine what Cohn would have thought if he knew that Trump’s campaign and transition had more than 100 contacts with the Russians? That the campaign had been offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, and wanted to take it? That Jeff Sessions lied to the Senate during his confirmation for Attorney General? That National Security Advisor Mike Flynn had lied to top FBI agents about his contacts with the Russians?

That’s the irony here, if you can even call it that: today, the modern Roy Cohn is covering up a real conspiracy with the Russians rather than trying to trump up a fake one. Yet to call William Barr “Roy Cohn” is to diminish his role. This is top-shelf hypocrisy that deserves the full recognition of Joseph McCarthy himself, who by the way died 62 years ago today.

Mueller’s Letter to Barr

On March 27, 2019, after all those headlines were flowing, Robert Mueller wrote a letter to the Attorney General, which was published Wednesday.

Mueller wrote, “The summary letter the Department [written by Barr] sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy listens to his attorney, Roy Cohn, during the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. The series of hearings badly damaged the senator’s image and led to a vote of censure by the Senate.

“We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

For Mueller to write, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation,” denies Barr’s agency. The sentence should read, “You have confused the public about the results of our investigation, and made the president look innocent.”

This was an intentional act of deception. Barr knew exactly what he was doing, and he got the result he wanted. In fact, in his report, Mueller writes, “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

They did not. In fact, the Mueller report is a catalog of crime. It is disgusting. And it states how it arrived at its conclusions — including the decision not to bring charges, but rather to defer to Congress.

On the Russia question, destruction of potential evidence was an important factor. Trump team people such as Jared Kushner communicated using WhatsApp — a Facebook-owned program that encrypts messages, and other programs that automatically delete them. Collusion was Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, giving polling data to the Russians and telling them to target certain key states.

Regarding obstruction of justice, there is a standing Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel directive that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, but from what I understand, that was only part of Mueller’s thinking. There were two other factors. Because a sitting president cannot stand trial (different from not being indicted), Mueller felt it was unfair to accuse him of a crime since he could not defend himself at a criminal trial. And Mueller did not want to make it impossible for Trump to exercise his legitimate Article 2 powers as president, though Trump seems to have little interest in this.

Instead, Mueller presented the evidence for Congress to take up. And his fairness and adherence to the rules left an opening that Barr, who has been called General Coverup during a past incarnation working for the Reagan/Bush administration, happily and knowingly exploited. This was one of those scenarios where the lie is halfway around the world before the truth has its pants on — but worse. The delay was a month.

A Gap in Reality

There is also a gap in reality that Barr exploited. I am speaking with as many Trump supporters as I can about this, and they are falling back on the supposed bottom line: “no collusion,” which is simply not true. Part of the reality gap involves denial. When there is a problem, many people decide they don’t want to know about it. That opens the proverbial can of worms.

Trump supporter expresses her unmitigated transcendent ecstasy at actually meeting the candidate. Photo by Brian Snyder.

But there is more: most people you meet tend to be in denial of their own problems and don’t want to take any mental posture that involves digging for the truth. It seems easier to live the lie, or to be in “blissful ignorance” — which means to ignore. Once someone is on notice that a person is lying or defrauding them, both law and common sense require them to take action.

Yet many people, once they discover they’re being deceived, keep on allowing themselves to be deceived. There are many reasons for this, including how it’s seemingly easier to be dead than to be alive.

In his book People of the Lie, Scott Peck writes, “Erich Fromm [author of Escape from Freedom] was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others — to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their capacity to think for themselves, to diminish their unpredectibility and originalty, to keep them in line.”

James Comey, the former FBI director fired by Trump, wrote something similar in an op-ed on Wednesday. “Proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character … to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.”

Well, I guess he would know.

In the end, this is a spiritual issue, because the spiritual journey is the quest for the truth — not for convenience. It takes guts to challenge lies and liars. You may doubt yourself. You may be called an abuser, or branded a liar yourself. You may be treated like an outsider or a heretic. You may be bullied. People may stop talking to you. That is too much for most people to endure, and besides, we’re all so busy living our lives.

Who has time to read and think about a 448-page report? And isn’t the president doing something about those damned Mexicans? The stock market is doing great and man, I could use a beer right about now.

The truth is not for everyone.

With love,

Monday Morning Horoscope #174 for April 29, 2019 | By Eric Francis Coppolino

Aries (March 20-April 19) — These days, your life is about what you have to offer, rather than what you get. It’s true, the whole world is set up to accept credit cards, and it seems like half the people you meet wear a UPC or QR code on their forehead, the better to keep inventory of themselves. What you’re being called to do right now is not part of the economy. Rather, it’s an aspect of the global healing process, where you must essentially offer yourself for free. One challenge is that this happens entirely off the spectrum of the usual motives, and muggles tend not to understand that. The good news is that you don’t have to do much to be helpful. One thing is to provide a sense of home, a refuge for certain select people who come to you seeking such assistance. They may not know it themselves; it may not be an established part of your relationship. You might know the person well; you might have never met them. You might not even like them. It does not matter; you are the place they can feel safe and welcome. So keep the home fires burning.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — The way most people are dealing with sex these days is to not deal with it at all. Count yourself fortunate if you have a lover or intimate friend you can communicate with, and with whom you share mutual affection and goodwill. It’s a jungle out there, and we’re living in a strange, grievous time when any form of eroticism or affection can be weaponized. Notice this when you see it happening. By all means do what you can to never get involved with the games, and to never make sexuality, love or attachment a matter of power. The challenge is that when it’s fair game to turn anything at all into a matter of power, it’s difficult to make an exception. You don’t need to be part of this whole trend or obsession. You have it in you to be impeccably balanced, honest and fair-minded. This is about serving a purpose larger than yourself, and it may feel that way. With Uranus in your sign, your role in the world is to be unequivocally true to your values, and not let anyone, anything, or any seeming social cause push you around. Note to Taurus and Sun and rising: I just recorded your Astrology Studio reading;

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Mars in your sign has just made a series of challenging aspects that have compelled you to honor your truth, and to speak the truth. Usually this is considered an act of charity or extreme courage. For you, it’s a matter of basic survival. That comes down to a few elemental facts, one of which is that you cannot split your character. Yes, it seems to happen a lot — people are one person at work and think they are another person among friends and yet another at home. It’s possible, for a while, to hold two competing sets of values: for example, to believe in truth and integrity, and then toss those values aside when convenient. Integrity means integration. That means being the same person all the time. The challenge here is that so many people are wearing masks, and most of them are terrified of or angry at anyone who has the gall to be sincere. That, however, is not your business. What other people do is what they do. What you do is what you do. Bank on that.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Your charts have a visionary quality early in the week, as if you will be able to glimpse the future, or see through certain situations that would otherwise be foggy or opaque. The question is what you will do with the information, and when you will act on it, if you do at all. Knowledge has potency, even if you don’t specifically use it. Just by maintaining awareness of your environment, you will be stronger and more influential. When it comes time to use your strength, be forthright and persistent. That does not mean pushy, impolite or angry. The truth has momentum, and that is what you want to let carry you. Do not play your whole hand at once. This is a “one card at a time” kind of situation. You will need to be aligned with the deeper elements of your spiritual path, values or commitments. It’s crucial that you listen, and assess all of the available information that you have before taking action again. Context is everything. Keep a wide view, and know when to zoom in and look at the details closely. Then, zoom back out.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — On May 4, there will be an unusual New Moon in the vocation and professional angle of your chart. This is where the new focus is in your life. It’s been brewing for a while, and the time — this time — has finally arrived. One caution first. You may seem like you have to make snap decisions, or seize opportunities the moment they arise. This is unnecessary and it can be detrimental. When an opening presents itself, get all the information you can, be open to residual facts and observations that come in, and then pause and set the scenario on a timer. Use the spontaneous manifestation quality of Uranus, while also using the patient, wait-and-see attitude of Taurus (that is the placement involved). Be sensitive to when something does or does not match your aesthetic. This may seem superficial — to consider whether an office is beautiful enough, or how a person impresses you with their appearance or the sound of their voice. Even if someone or something is a bit eccentric, you need to have a sensory alignment; the situation must feel good, and that will take some time to determine.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Mars in Gemini is moving across the most ambitious angle of your chart. Over the weekend, it passed through a foggy stretch of mental terrain, which you can now see a lot more clearly. If you’re still struggling a little, the thing to get out of the way is anything that seems like a “matter of survival.” Those are almost always exaggerated, and are often the result of a distortion. Step down the urgency and ask yourself what you really want, most probably in the form of what you want to do. The drive of Mars is a little more than you’re accustomed to (being born under a Mercury-ruled sign — the approaches are rather different). There is, however, a Mercury angle: it’s about collaborating. This begins with observing and seeking to understand where a partner, colleague or investor is coming from. You have the ability to do that, though make sure it’s in words and not in some form of acquiescence or tacit agreement. Use language like, “This is what I hear you saying. Am I correct?” and, “Am I missing anything here?” Make sure you’re understood as well. Feel free to ask people to state back to you what they think you just said.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Pallas Athene, the asteroid of politics and diplomacy, is making a long visit to your sign, and is fully engaged at the moment. There are a number of situations you’re in or about to encounter where your skill as a negotiator will be exceedingly helpful. However, you’re going to need to dial this in as a fully conscious act, rather than as something you can just count on happening. You have to ask for help, and access your skill intentionally — and then use it. There are many people in your life right now, probably too many, and it’s been difficult to discern what they are doing, what they want, or what their role is. My suggestion is that you maintain silence and not reveal your opinion or point of view. You may feel like everyone knows what you think or believe; however, you’re far more inscrutable than you may imagine. Just set aside the notion that people can hear your thoughts or that your opinion is written all over your face. The idea here is not to be secretive, but rather to give yourself some space to be objective, and to listen well even to those you disagree with vehemently. Eventually, you will see a point where you may need to speak up, but it’s unlikely to be for a while.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You may be struggling with the question of whether you’re leveling with yourself. You may be wondering whether others are acting in good faith. You learned something, maybe a few significant things, over the weekend, and it will help if you take some time, pause, and evaluate what you now know. Matters that were murky and uncertain may have become more transparent. You may have a better idea where you stand with someone. One potential factor is sexual feelings and feelings of attachment crossing and overlapping. It will be helpful if you sort this out. Another potential factor is that you may feel two ways about a person or situation. While this might seem normal, it’s a sign of inner conflict or denial, and you would be wise to address it. You actually do have underlying feelings that point to one position, not two contradictory ones. You may need to work through some layers to get there, though not if you’re honest with yourself. That is the place to start, and the place to keep your focus.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Take a creative approach if you feel challenged or like someone is stirring up conflict with you. First, though, consider whether that is really their intent, or whether you’re just perceiving it that way. A lot of controversy is in the eye of the beholder, and we live in tense, contentious times. Set aside the expectation of being attacked in some way. Dial that back and get yourself off of hair trigger. Yes, notice what you’re feeling, and pay attention to clues for how others are feeling, but slow down your reaction time, and go more into a responsive emotional frame. One thing I’ve noticed again and again is that people who are oriented on conflict are generally not being productive. The first thing you can do about that is make sure that you, at least, are doing your work or your art. If you’re in a position where you have influence over the choices of others, guide them in this direction. In intimate situations (and some others), sexual frustration is also a factor. Note this if you observe it in yourself. And though you may not be able to say much to someone else, if you think it’s a factor, address it appropriately.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Pluto recently stationed retrograde in your sign, and Saturn is about to do the same. This will set the advance of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction on pause for a while, and give you some room to address certain pressing situations in your life. Make sure you use your time well. Address any important plans that you’ve set aside during the past six months, and do your best to catch up with yourself. It’s less important that you invest your energy in relationships and more important that you emphasize the meaningful tasks that you have at hand right now. Please don’t allow yourself to be distracted by people and their agendas. You need far less socializing than you may think. It’s irrelevant what people think of you, or what you think they think. You can use your time productively if you keep your priorities in order. Some of them may involve your family, though beware: those, too, may be a major distraction. Stick to what you know you simply must do.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — The most significant forces “outside of your control” are the ones in your own mind. And while you may not be able to control your mind or your feelings, you can have an influence. That influence begins with focusing your awareness inwardly, and being honest with yourself about your motives. The inner process work you’re doing, most of which involves certain family and ancestral situations you’ve inherited, is directly connected to your ideas about power, and in particular, how it was wielded over you and certain people you grew up with. Yet this is on a primal level (like one of those apes discovering he can smash a skull with a stick in 2001: A Space Odyssey). That’s the problem: on the core level, the level of what you might think of as machine language, this is all rather crude. The responses that people had around you, and that they may have displayed, were associated with their feeling of powerlessness. Most of the “reasons” they felt that way don’t apply to you. You have many more resources to work with..

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — For the past week or so, Mars has been making a square to Neptune in your sign, which has been something of an antagonizing influence. This may have challenged your confidence. It’s probable, though, that you’re feeling like you’re on much more solid ground. Now, at least, you can see someone or some situation for what it really is. There is likely to be a financial factor involved, and coming from a place of perceiving reality, and knowing the actual, underlying facts, you’re in a much better position to negotiate a fair result. Yet do not falter in your position. Be persistent and insist on above-board communication. This is particularly important in all matters where your home or security is concerned. Don’t fall for the delusion that you are in any way threatened. It’s not that simple, and you have more potential influence over the situation than you may be aware. This is one of those scenarios where, after we address the essential topic of honesty, that it’s all about money, so keep your eye on the facts and figures, and make sure they add up to the same total calculating up the column, and down.

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