What is most perilous for our country now, would be to journey through a second epic crisis of authority in recent times without anybody facing the consequences of crimes they might have committed. The result will be a people turned utterly cynical, with no faith in their institutions or the rule of law, and no way to imagine a restoration of their lost faith within the bounds of law. It will be a deadly divorce between truth and reality. It will be an invitation to civil violence, a broken social contract, and the end of the framework for American life that was set up in 1788. The first crisis of the era was the Great Financial Crash of 2008 based on widespread malfeasance in the banking world, an unprecedented suspension of
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What is most perilous for our country now, would be to journey through a second epic crisis of authority in recent times without anybody facing the consequences of crimes they might have committed. The result will be a people turned utterly cynical, with no faith in their institutions or the rule of law, and no way to imagine a restoration of their lost faith within the bounds of law. It will be a deadly divorce between truth and reality. It will be an invitation to civil violence, a broken social contract, and the end of the framework for American life that was set up in 1788.
The first crisis of the era was the Great Financial Crash of 2008 based on widespread malfeasance in the banking world, an unprecedented suspension of rules, norms, and laws. GFC poster-boy Angelo Mozilo, CEO and chairman of Countrywide Financial, a sub-prime mortgage racketeering outfit, sucked at least half a billion dollars out of his operation before it blew up, and finally was nicked for $67 million in fines by the SEC — partly paid by Countrywide’s indemnity insurer — with criminal charges of securities fraud eventually dropped in the janky “settlement.” In other words, the cost of doing business. Scores of other fraudsters and swindlers in that orgy of banking malfeasance were never marched into a courtroom, never had to answer for their depredations, and remained at their desks in the C-suites collecting extravagant bonuses. The problems they caused were papered over with trillions of dollars that all of us are still on-the-hook for. And, contrary to appearances, the banking system never actually recovered. It is permanently demoralized.
How it was that Barack Obama came on-duty in January of 2009 and got away with doing absolutely nothing about all that for eight years remains one of the abiding mysteries of life on earth. Perhaps getting the first black president into the White House was such an intoxicating triumph of righteousness that nothing else seemed to matter anymore. Perhaps Mr. Obama was just a cat’s paw for banksterdom. (Sure kinda seems like it, when your first two hires are Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.) The failure to assign penalties for massive bad behavior has set up the nation for another financial fiasco, surely of greater magnitude than the blow-up of 2008, considering the current debt landscape. Not a few astute observers say they feel the hot breath of that monster on the back of their necks lately, with all the strange action in the RePo market — $500 billion “liquidity” injections in six weeks.
But now we are a year into Attorney General Bill Barr coming on the scene — the crime scene of RussiaGate and all its deceitful spin-offs. The Mueller investigation revealed itself as not just a thumping failure, but part of a broader exercise in bad faith and sedition to first prevent Mr. Trump from winning the 2016 election and then to harass, obstruct, disable, and eject him from office. And six months after Mr. Mueller’s face-plant, out comes the Horowitz Report tracing in spectacular detail further and deeper criminal irregularities in the US Justice agencies. What’s more, tremendous amounts of evidence for all this already sits on-the-record in public documents. The timelines are well understood.
And so, an anxious nausea creeps over the land that Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham are dawdling toward a goal of deflecting justice from the sick institutions behind the three-year coup — that our polity is so saturated in corruption nothing will be allowed to clean it up. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that hopelessness, and I will say why. But I must also say that if Barr & Durham fail to deliver a bale of indictments, they will be putting a bullet in the head of this republic. There will be no hope of restoring trust in the system and the hopelessness will inspire serious civil violence.
It ought to be obvious that we are well into Strauss & Howe’s Fourth Turning, the generational climax of a grand political cycle tending towards darkness and ruin (and eventually the birth of a new cycle). But the God of History-in-the-Making is a prankster. For instance, in the Fourth Turning there is the archetypal figure they call “the Gray Champion,” specifically a Baby Boomer who emerges as the national leader to turn back the gathering darkness. Well, you order up a Gray Champion and cosmic room service sends up a New York real estate grifter with a twenty-three-word vocabulary, an impulse control problem, and a mystifying hair-doo. It becomes extremely difficult to defend this ludicrous character — except that the conduct of his antagonists has been much much worse, and probably more destructive to the long-running American experiment in liberty.
Exactly because the misconduct against Mr. Trump was so deep and broad, bringing actual cases to court will require extreme care, especially if these cases are folded into a RICO rap. Mr. Barr has been surprisingly transparent in his procedures and his motives. He made it quite clear in speeches last fall at Notre Dame and the Federalist Society that he deplores the lawless anarchy of “Resistance” efforts to engage “in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.” He stated recently that he expects Mr. Durham to act by late spring. Many are discouraged that he did not bring a case against James Comey on an earlier referral by IG Horowitz in the Hillary email server matter. Mr. Barr averred that it was not the strongest case against the former FBI chief. I took that to mean that graver charges await and there was no point going through the motions with a weaker Mickey Mouse count — and possibly losing in court. Point taken. We’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, there is the impeachment ceremony, connoting a trial in the senate to resolve the charges. Just days after it was voted out in the house — and in the limbo between Christmas and the New Year — nobody seems to know what will come out of all that. The president seems eager for a senate trial. His counselors could call witnesses until the cows come home, and probably do a great job of humiliating and disarming the rabid forces of the Resistance. But hauling in the likes of Brennan, Comey, Strzok, McCabe, et. al., might only queer any cases to be brought against them by Mr. Durham. Limiting the witnesses to the Ukraine “whistleblower” scam that provoked the impeachment — Eric Ciaramella, Michael Atkinson, Adam Schiff — would be a capital entertainment, but it might also queer federal cases against them, a necessary corrective in the big picture.
On balance then, whatever happens in the senate, the briefer the better, and the most obvious tack would be a simple summary dismissal of the house’s charges as devoid of merit. And then a season of patience while events are allowed to play out. What’s at stake beyond the fog of concerted deception and bad faith is whether we’ll return to the principle that actions bring consequences, which is also the basic principle of reality. The departure from that since 2008 has just about wrecked the foundations of this country.
Reprinted with permission from Kunstler.com.