Friday, July 03, 2020

America's Reckoning

Americans have been legendary for their near religious belief in the superiority of all things American. From their Oval Office on down, generations have clung to the bizarre notion of American exceptionalism, America the "indispensable" nation while the rest of the world looked on in puzzlement. It all culminates tomorrow, the glorious Fourth of July.

Only this year is different. David Brooks writes that his fellow Americans are experiencing a badly needed moment of humiliation, a crisis of the national spirit.
A third of Americans show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, according to the Census Bureau. Suspected drug overdose deaths surged by 42 percent in May. Small businesses, colleges and community hubs will close. 
At least Americans are not in denial about the nation’s turmoil of the last three months. According to a Pew survey, 71 percent of Americans are angry about the state of the country right now and 66 percent are fearful. Only 17 percent are proud.

Americans are reacting in two positive ways. We’re seeing incredible shifts in attitudes toward race. Roughly 60 percent of Americans now believe that African-Americans face a great deal or a lot of discrimination. People have been waiting for a white backlash since the riots, or since the statues started toppling. There isn’t much if any evidence of a backlash. There’s evidence of a fore-lash. 
Second, Americans have decided to get rid of Donald Trump. His mishandling of Covid-19 hurt him among seniors. His racist catcalls in a time of racial reckoning have damaged him among all groups.
...In 1970, in a moment like our own, Irving Kristol wrote, “In the same way as men cannot for long tolerate a sense of spiritual meaninglessness in their individual lives, so they cannot for long accept a society in which power, privilege, and property are not distributed according to some morally meaningful criteria.” 
A lot of people look around at the conditions of this country — how Black Americans are treated, how communities are collapsing, how Washington doesn’t work — and none of it makes sense. None of it inspires faith, confidence. In none of it do they feel a part.
If you don’t breathe the spirit of the nation, if you don’t have a fierce sense of belonging to each other, you’re not going to sacrifice for the common good. We’re confronted with a succession of wicked problems and it turns out we’re not even capable of putting on a friggin’ mask.

Heatwaves - Hotter and Longer. The World Wilts.

Another (there have been several) study concludes that, around the world, heatwaves have become more severe in both frequency and duration.  And, as predicted by others, they're really setting in across the equatorial and tropical latitudes.
The study found the escalation in heatwaves varied around the planet, with the Amazon, north-eastern Brazil, west Asia (including parts of the subcontinent and central Asia) and the Mediterranean all experiencing more rapid change than, for example, southern Australia and north Asia. The only inhabited region where there was not a trend was in the central United States. 
Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study found a clear increasing trend in the total number of heatwave days within and across regions, and that heatwaves were getting longer across the past 70 years.
A new focus - cumulative heating.
[Cumulative heat measures] how much additional warmth there was in an individual extreme heat event beyond the traditional threshold that defined the start of a heatwave. 
The amount of cumulative intensity across heatwave seasons was found to have increased across the planet and the decades. The average increase per decade was between 1C and 4.5C (an increase of between 1.8F and 8.1F), though in some places – the Middle East and parts of Africa and South America – the rise was closer to 10C a decade.
Like earlier studies this new report appears to corroborate the central thesis of "climate departure." This is a predicted phenomenon whereby a region reaches a point at which every year thereafter, every year, will be hotter than the hottest year in the previous era. The theory of climate departure predicts this shift will spread through the tropical regions during this decade, the 2020s. It is expected to first impact Central America and parts of the Caribbean.  Since this theory popped up seven years ago I've been watching for some new science that refutes or even modulates its predictions.

For people living in the first affected areas, life could become much harder than it already is. Most of those economies are heavily agrarian. Human bodies can only take so much heat before they break down. Some warn that a farm hand's workday could shrink to just a few hours per day. The heat will also take a toll on crop yields none of which is good for areas already food insecure.


As I write this I'm hoping I won't need to put the furnace on today. While people in the east have been roasting, it's been cold and damp out here. The local forecast for the rest of July calls for just two days that will break 20C - and those only by one degree. Lots of cloud. The silver lining? The forest fire situation might not be too severe this year. There's something. And besides there's always August, right? Isn't that right?

Will the Third World Be Our Miner's Canary?

When it comes to the climate emergency, Canada is 'all hat and no cattle.'  We're just not up for it, not yet. Sure we talk a good game and do some gestural things here and there for appearances but, by and large, we treat it as a concern, a worry, but definitely not an emergency.

Winston Churchill defined the critical difference between a concern and an emergency when he said, "Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best. Sometimes we must do what is required."

It's easy to point fingers at Justin Trudeau or his predecessors, especially Stephen Harper. The last environmentalist prime minister Canada had was, wait for it, Brian Mulroney. Every one since BM has been a dud, Jean Chretien very much included.

In their defence, however, the public has shown little appetite for tackling the climate emergency head on. Doing "what is required" is not, for several reasons, palatable to the public. No, I think we would give that a pass and punish any party bold enough to think otherwise at the ballot box.

It's not that we aren't worried about the climate emergency. Most of us are concerned. Most of us want something done about it, just not something that costs much and certainly not something that might impact the economy and all that perpetual exponential growth stuff.

We lack motivation. Canadians are pretty good at "riding to the guns" but this threat, while probably greater than any we've ever faced, is different. There'll be no regiments mustering on some Halifax pier before sailing off to the strains of "Farewell to Nova Scotia." There'll be no Kaiser, no Mr. Hitler to defeat this time. No noble crusades.

So, what's it going to take to shift public opinion? In my humble opinion it is going to take a decade, certainly no more than two, before we're clamouring for urgent action from Ottawa and our provincial legislatures.

It's going to take a few years of watching climate carnage sweep across the Third World and the developing economies, those nations of the tropical latitudes, to remind us that this emergency is real, it is inescapable and that we're next. Someone is always next.

The downside to this scenario is that, by the time the Canadian public have their epiphany, they'll have to deal with conditions as they are then which are likely to be a good deal more challenging than they are now. There's a price to be paid by the tardy.  That's doubly true when we just keep digging our hole deeper and deeper.  Not every problem is going to be fixable forever.

Another factor is that even if climate carnage first ravages the poorest and most vulnerable countries hundreds or thousands of miles distant, we will not be immune to the knock on effects. We're woven into this tightly integrated global economy with its long supply chains. It's powerful yet it's also very brittle, susceptible to disruption. We've already seen some of that emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. If the climate emergency destabilizes just a couple of nations critical to those supply chains, globalism could be irreparably damaged. Then what?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Texas Latest to "Mask Up."

We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast,
there is little margin for error.”

Even "don't mess with Texas" governor Gregg Abbott is reversing course and mandating the use of Covid masks in most counties of the Lone Star State.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican's efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Abbott, who had pushed Texas' aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements. 
But faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalized, Abbott changed course with Thursday's mask order. It requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions."
There are some in our own ranks who, like Greg Abbott once did, dismiss Covid-19 reaction as hysteria by "Covidiots." The Americans are dishing up proof positive of how easily this pandemic can get out of control when our leaders succumb to ideological pressures. It's a medical threat. We have first rate medical experts - virologists, epidemiologists and others - who can tell us what we must do and when. As for the noise, just tune it out.

Could Trump Bail Out Before November?

I've had this hunch lately that Donald Trump may not be on the ballot in November.

The American economy is reeling. A recent poll finds that almost two-thirds of respondents hold Trump personally to blame for many Covid-19 deaths. Now Trump repeatedly shows he's lost interest in the pandemic.

A lot of congressional Republicans are facing a tough battle for re-election this year and they're worried. Trump is falling behind in many of the critical states. Biden has a solid two-digit lead in the polls while Trump is in a slump.

Throughout his life Trump has shown himself to be a survivor. He knows when to cut and run. He will throw everyone else to the dogs while he makes his escape. And it has worked.

Trump is all about "the numbers."  He's a ratings guy. It's rumoured that he's rabid about polls showing him trailing badly in the runup to November. And he knows that, if the Dems take the White House, all that presidential immunity will be gone.

I'm thinking he might just do a Richard Milhouse Nixon and pack it in. Pence will succeed Trump as president, sit down behind the Resolute desk and start signing presidential pardons for Trump and his kids as they fly south to supervise the sandbagging of Mar-a-Lardo.

Interestingly, veteran Democrat campaigner, James Carville, also thinks there's a "significant chance" Trump is going to hit the silk.

FBI Nabs Ghislaine Maxwell. Will She Sing Like a Canary?

Her newspaper mogul dad, Robert Maxwell, died mysteriously, vanishing from his sail boat at sea. Her longtime companion and confidant,  Jeffrey Epstein, died mysteriously in a New York jail cell, ostensibly by suicide.

Now Ghislaine Maxwell is going to have to face prosecution for her role in procuring underage girls for Epstein's deviant pleasures. She seemed to disappear for a while but the FBI tracked her down.

At this point the question is whether the FBI really wants Ms. Maxwell or if they have bigger fish to fry. Are they after Epstein's reputed play pals, notables such as Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz*, Bill Clinton, Clinton's nemesis Ken Starr, Donald Trump, and several others from the ranks of the rich and famous. 

*Dershowitz says he never had sex with Epstein's girls, just a massage, and he kept his tighty whities on at all times (eww!).

Is that $300,000 Non-Refundable?

Tory Party leadership contenders coughed up what, for Canada, is a pretty steep entry fee - $300,000. That's the kind of money you might risk for a shot to become the next prime minister only that's looking like an increasingly remote prospect these days.

The Liberals were in a state of post-election stagnation in late February and early March, averaging about 33 per cent in the polls. That's exactly where they were on election night nearly nine months ago. 
Since then, however, the Liberals have seen their support increase significantly. It has risen to between 39 and 42 per cent support among decided voters, according to a monthly average of national polls. 
The increase in support for the Liberals — which seems to have settled around 7.5 points — eight to nine months after an election is the largest for a minority government since John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservatives surged by 11.5 points in 1957-58.

That's the only case of a minority government experiencing a larger increase in support than the one lifting up the Liberals now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

It's Tesla Time

For years, Toyota has been the most valuable automobile company on Earth.

Until now.

The most valuable auto company today is Elon Musk's Tesla Motors.

Tesla’s stock jumped to a new record high on Wednesday, giving the electric vehicle maker a valuation of more than $208 billion, which means that it is now the most valuable car company on the planet.

Tesla is also now worth more than many of its rivals combined, such as Fiat Chrysler ($20 billion), Ford ($24 billion), Ferrari ($32 billion), General Motors ($36 billion), BMW ($41 billion), Honda ($46 billion) and Volkswagen ($74 billion).
Toyota, valued at $203 billion, is still firmly in control of second place. 

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Nation Where the Few Devour the Many

On April 9 of this year, the editorial board of the New York Times published one of the most insightful editorials I have read in many years,"The America We Need." It's a compelling argument for a progressive restoration that's long overdue in a country that once aspired to democracy but has, instead, become a nation where the many are at the mercy of the few.

Here are some excerpts:

“Liberty,” Roosevelt said at the Democratic Party’s convention in 1936, “requires opportunity to make a living — a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.” His administration, working with Congress, enshrined the right of workers to bargain collectively, imposed strict rules and regulators on the financial industry, and created Social Security to provide pensions for the elderly and disabled.

...Over the past half century, the fabric of American democracy has been stretched thin. The nation has countenanced debilitating decay in its public institutions and a concentration of economic power not seen since the 1920s. While many Americans live without financial security or opportunity, a relative handful of families holds much of the nation’s wealth. Over the past decade, the wealth of the top 1 percent of households has surpassed the combined wealth of the bottom 80 percent.

...For those at the bottom, moreover, the chances of rising are in decline. By the time they reached 30, more than 90 percent of Americans born in 1940 were earning more than their parents had earned at the same age. But among those born in 1980, only half were earning more than their parents by the age of 30. 
The erosion of the American dream is not a result of laziness or a talent drought. Rather, opportunity has slipped away. The economic ladder is harder to climb; real incomes have stagnated for decades even as the costs of housing, education and health care have increased. Many lower-income Americans are born into polluted, impoverished neighborhoods, with no decent jobs to be found.
...The wealthy are particularly successful in blocking changes they don’t like. The political scientists Martin Gilens of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Benjamin Page of Northwestern have calculated that between 1981 and 2002, policies supported by at least 80 percent of affluent voters passed into law about 45 percent of the time, while policies opposed by at least 80 percent of those voters passed into law just 18 percent of the time. Importantly, the views of poor and middle-class voters had little influence. 
...“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence,” Roosevelt told the nation in 1944.
...Advocates of a minimalist conception of government claim they too are defenders of liberty. But theirs is a narrow and negative definition of freedom: the freedom from civic duty, from mutual obligation, from taxation. This impoverished view of freedom has in practice protected wealth and privilege. It has perpetuated the nation’s defining racial inequalities and kept the poor trapped in poverty, and their children, and their children’s children.

...If individual income had kept pace with overall economic growth since 1970, Americans in the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution would be making an extra $12,000 per year, on average. In effect, the extreme increase in inequality means every worker in the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution is sending an annual check for $12,000 to a worker in the top 10 percent.

...The purpose of the federal government, Lincoln wrote to Congress on July 4, 1861, was “to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders, and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”
It's an engineered disaster. As former World Bank chief economist and Nobel laureate, Joe Stiglitz, is always quick to remind us, the rampant inequality that brings America low is neither market- nor merit-based. It is legislated, enshrined in tax codes and ancillary legislation. 

Spiegel Slams Trump - Again

Here's the cover of Der Spiegel. Trump, Der Feuerteufel or Trump the Fire Devil.

It's not the first time Der Spiegel has gone after el Diablo Naranja. A trip down Memory Lane:

Believe it or not, there are more. I think these are enough to give you some idea of the esteem in which the German media hold America's mango mussolini.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

When Justice Dies

It was 1924. The case before the court was R. v. Sussex Justices ex parte McCarthy. That case is famous for the maxim that "Justice most not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done."  If the judgment delivered has that rancid smell of bias, it is not justice. When the fix is in, it is injustice, an abomination of the judicial process. The result shows that someone has his finger on the scale.

Such is the state of American justice in the era of el Diablo Noranja, the Orange Devil, president Donald Trump, and his personal Renfield, attorney general William Barr.

What is manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done in America today is the utter corruption of the judicial system in which Trump orders his underling to skew prosecutions, to fire uncompliant US attorneys, to investigate his political adversaries, even as the Orange Devil stacks every layer of the federal judiciary with reliable judges no matter how unqualified they may be and then, to display that Team Trump is above the law uses the presidential pardon power to take his friends off the hook.

Earlier this week an appeals judge, an unaccomplished Trump appointee with her eye on a slot on the Supreme Court, ruled that the trial judge must grant the DoJ's clumsy application to dismiss all charges against Michael Flynn. Charges demonstrably made out by the evidence. Charges to which Flynn has already confessed. Charges for which Flynn has already been convicted and awaits sentencing.

Just this morning Trump tweeted that he's planning on pardoning his longtime friend and political dirty trickster, ex-Paul Manafort partner, Roger Stone.  Two close criminals who, at the direction of Trump himself, may have committed the crimes that led to their convictions.

Add It All Up - the Real Costs of Covid-19

Things we know - people on holiday are also taking a holiday from Covid-19.  Many of them take a break from wearing masks or social distancing.  Whether gathering on some beach or strolling the streets of a resort town or downing a few beers at a tavern, they're likely to concentrate and, in the crowds they're mingling with, there is apt to be someone or a few someones shedding the virus.

We've got all the object lessons we need. Thanks Florida. Thanks Texas. Thanks to all the states that opened up and are now heading back into lockdown.  And special thanks to all those irresponsible people who have shown that exercising their "constitutional rights" can turn into an economy-wrecker even as it taxes healthcare systems to the breaking point.

Here on beautiful Vancouver Island we're starting to see another wave - the summer tourists. Some, it seems, have heard that for a period of several weeks we were sort of Covid-free. What a great place for a summer holiday.

For a number of these little, coastal towns, tourism revenue is the bread and butter of the local economy.  Many businesses make their real money between the beginning of June and Labour Day. If something goes wrong they may not be around next year.

Things change in the course of a pandemic. For the first few months people in my town were vigilant - masks, gloves, social distancing, hand sanitizer, hand washing, isolating at home.  The whole deal. And it paid off. We drove Covid-19 into the ground and many other similarly transmissible viruses disappeared with it.

Only the sun has returned here and, with it, those masks are disappearing as though they had reached some 'best before' date.  There's probably no way of knowing how many of those mask-liberated people are locals, how many are summer people but either way a return of Covid-19 seems inevitable. Everything we achieved may go straight out the window.

I wonder what that's going to cost?  How does the summer tourism revenue stack up against the prospect of another lockdown and another struggle for the healthcare system?

Time magazine looked at a Boston-area woman who developed Covid-19. Hers was not a severe case. She did not require hospitalization. She did, however, make three visits to the emergency ward, a bunch of tests, and medications that she took at home. Her final bill came out just shy of $35,000. That's a lot of money when you're between jobs with no insurance.  Remember that 'el Diablo Naranja' has chosen this auspicious moment to try to kill off Obamacare.

In Canada the costs are way less but still substantial.  Covid-19 cases require special wards and some patients wind up on ventilators in intensive care units. A day in ICU can cost between $5,000 and $14,000. Daily ward rates run from $3000 to $7000. Even that adds up pretty quick.

While those numbers are, for this discussion, plainly anecdotal, they demonstrate that every new Covid-19 case we may experience from summer tourism will inflict a hefty cost beyond the economic costs of a second possible lockdown.  How those costs would compare to whatever tourism revenue we receive over the summer is unclear. Then there's a question of  to whom that tourism revenue accrues and who picks up the tab for the costs in the aftermath.  Another example of "socialism for the rich'?

Friday, June 26, 2020

Are Climate Scientists Selling Us Down the River?

I always took it as a given that climate scientists always spoke truth to power. Now I'm not so sure.

Kevin Anderson is a professor of energy and climate change. He contends that British climate scientists are failing to give their government the hard facts.
“Academics have done an excellent job in understanding and communicating climate science, but the same cannot be said in relation to reducing emissions,” said Anderson. “Here we have collectively denied the necessary scale of mitigation, running scared of calling for fundamental changes to both our energy system and the lifestyles of high-energy users."

“Many senior academics, senior policymakers, basically the great and good of the climate world have decided that it is unhelpful to rock the status quo boat and therefore choose to work within that political paradigm – they’ll push it as hard as they think it can go, but they repeatedly step back from questioning the paradigm itself.” 
“On mitigation, the academic community and the CCC [the UK government's Committee on Climate Change] have collectively failed the political realm and civil society by tailoring our conclusions to fit with what we judge to be politically palatable – all at the expense of scientific integrity.”
When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, Anderson points the finger at the real villains, the rich.
“Globally the wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all emissions, the wealthiest 20% for 70% of emissions. If regulations forced the top 10% to cut their emissions to the level of the average EU citizen, and the other 90% made no change in their lifestyles, that would still cut total emissions by a third
If we were serious about this crisis we could do this in a year – if we were really serious we could do it in a month, but we are not and our emissions just keep rising.”

Lest We Forget

The coronavirus pandemic can sometimes take all the oxygen out of the room. Here's a reminder of what else is going on - video of Trump's kiddie concentration camps.

Yes, Mr. Trump. Remind Everyone What a Lousy President You Really Are.

Another brain fart from the Mango Mussolini.

Trump wants a fireworks extravaganza to usher in the 4th of July.

Not the 4th of  July, the evening of July 3rd.

Not in Washington, D.C.  No, in South Dakota. Pennington, South Dakota. Mount Rushmore to be precise.

The mountain that is surrounded by tinder-dry forest of ponderosa pines. That's pine as in resin as in extremely flammable.
"It's a bad idea based on the wildland fire risk, the impact to the water quality of the memorial, the fact that [it] is going to occur during a pandemic without social distancing guidelines and the emergency evacuation issues," said Cheryl Schreier, who served as the superintendent at Mount Rushmore National Park between September 2010 and May 2019, to The Washington Post
Bill Gabbert, the former fire management officer for Mount Rushmore and six other national parks in the region, told The Associated Press that shooting fireworks over the extremely flammable ponderosa pine forest should not be done. 
"Burning debris, the burning embers and unexploded shells fall into a ponderosa pine forest and ponderosa pine is extremely flammable," said Gabbert.
On the other hand it would remind the American people that they once had presidents of the stature of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. That should drive home the point of what a lousy president they're stuck with today.

This is a perfect moment to segue to Fintan O'Toole's take on America's Covid-19 president.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Donald Trump is no George Washington, but his descent from commander-in-chief to vector-in-chief is nonetheless dizzying. Trump’s narcissism, mendacity, bullying, and malignant incompetence were obvious before the coronavirus crisis, and they have been magnified rather than moderated in his surreal response to a catastrophe whose full gravity he failed to accept until March 31, when it had become horribly undeniable. The volatility of his behavior during the crucial weeks of February and March, when coherent action could have limited the subsequent loss of life—the veering between flippancy and rage, breezy denial and dark fear-mongering—may not seem to demand further explanation.
Actually, Fintan, it's not "universally acknowledged." Just ask Donald Trump how great a president Donald Trump is.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Let's Keep Throwing Billions into LNG

Whether it's the Justin Trudeau memorial bitumen pipe or strongarming the Wetsuweten to drive the Coastal GasLink project through their sovereign territory, once these projects get underway they're almost unstoppable and it doesn't matter one bit if the economic case for them has collapsed.

There's bad news for British Columbia's LNG fantasy.  The global market for natural gas is tanking.

The natural gas future markets for August have fallen to a 25-year low.

Pandemic? Ah, Screw That!!

Scenes like this are being repeated across the Dorset coast as hordes of Britons have descended on the beaches of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Phil Horton, 57, from Bournemouth, who works in the timber trade, said: “The number of people here makes me very nervous, and there’s absolutely no respect for social distancing. It seems like everyone has forgotten we are living in a pandemic. 
“What can the police do about it? There’s thousands and thousands of people here so they’re massively outnumbered. Good luck telling them to go home.”

Is America's Judicial System Irreparably Broken?

The image is from an ad for the RCA Victrola entitled "His Master's Voice."  Somehow it just keeps coming to mind when I watch the corruption of justice in America in the era of Donald Trump and his personal "Renfield," Attorney General Bill Barr.

Trump and Barr, together with a Republican controlled Senate, have worked methodically to subvert justice and the rule of law in the United States. They have stacked the judiciary with hundreds of pro-Trump judges chosen for their political reliablility, not their legal excellence. These men and women are awarded their lifetime gigs with clear strings attached.

At the same time Barr, at the direction of Trump, has transformed the Department of Justice into Trump's personal prosecution agency. They've sacked not one but two US Attorneys for the Southern District of New York. Why SDNY? That's the district where most of Trump's cronies reside, guys like Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Trump's former minion, Michael Cohen. They've even tried to put their "own" guy in, a SEC stooge with no prosecutorial experience whatsoever.

To Trump and Barr, prosecutorial independence means less than the integrity of the judicial system itself. Barr manipulated the prosecutors' sentencing submissions on Roger Stone, even as Trump was saying he'd pardon Stone, his personal lifelong buddy. That was pretty outrageous. Then another Trump minion got caught in a jam, Michael Flynn. Not only were Flynn's crimes obvious, he confessed to them. Convictions were entered. Sentencing was imminent. Not so fast. Barr, who works for the people of the United States, not Donald J. Trump, directed the DoJ prosecutors to apply to court to have the charges - plainly made out, to which Flynn had confessed his guilt, and on which convictions had been entered - dismissed, erased, wiped out. Think of it as Bill Barr's judicial time machine.

These outrages scream "obstruction of justice." They reveal a judicial system in which both the prosecutorial and the judicial bodies have become manipulated, where they have succumbed to corruption.  Left unchecked this will mean the end of American democracy or what faint vestiges of that still remain in the United States.

Still, it's not over yet. There is a glimmer of hope. Lately I've been following a retired former federal prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner. In the wake of yesterday's appellate court 2-1 decision directing the trial judge to be a good boy and take Michael Flynn off the hook, Kirschner says the trial judge isn't going down without a fight.