One more treasure from Bill Barr’s 11/15 speech to the Federalist Society

 I can’t help it.   Just read the remainder of Barr’s recent remarks in detail  (looking for his apparent, and telling, ad lib about Secularists — not found in the original text) and this gem was too beautiful to ignore.  In arguing about how wrong it is for courts to second-guess the actions of a conservative president, he offers this:

To my mind, the most blatant and consequential usurpation of Executive power in our history was played out during the Administration of President George W. Bush, when the Supreme Court, in a series of cases, set itself up as the ultimate arbiter and superintendent of military decisions inherent in prosecuting a military conflict – decisions that lie at the very core of the President’s discretion as Commander in Chief.  [1]

This usurpation climaxed with the Court’s 2008 decision in Boumediene.  There, the Supreme Court overturned hundreds of years of American, and earlier British, law and practice, which had always considered decisions as to whether to detain foreign combatants to be purely military judgments which civilian judges had no power to review.  For the first time, the Court ruled that foreign persons who had no connection with the United States other than being confronted by our military on the battlefield had “due process” rights and thus have the right to habeas corpus to obtain judicial review of whether the military has a sufficient evidentiary basis to hold them.

 

This Nazi motherfucker needs to be removed and disqualified from any office in a democracy.  He is sullying the Department of Justice with his highly virtuous deistic partisanship, couched in beguiling intellectualism that can justify any position, in keeping with his piety. 

I rest my case.

 

[1]  Leaving aside, of course, a probably far more consequential recent Supreme Court over-reach, Bush v. Gore, a one-off 5-4 partisan decision that instructs history not to cite it was any kind of precedent. 

Bill Barr defends the Unitary Executive

In Bill Barr, president Trump has found his long sought Roy Cohn, the fiercest, most powerful attorney a president could have — Trump appointed him  head of the Department of Justice.  Barr has been tireless in protecting his boss.   He is currently traveling the world to assemble evidence that the Special Counsel’s report, which according to Barr exonerated the president of all wrongdoing, having found insufficient evidence of indictable crime, and was a baseless partisan witch hunt — the six convicted close presidential aids charged pursuant to the investigation notwithstanding.

To me, the most shocking thing about Bagpiper Bill Barr’s recent partisan speech, delivered to the Koch-backed Federalist Society, is that the full text of it is on the Department of Justice website.   Talk about chutzpah, talk about balls!   Nobody can accuse Barr of being meek.   That’s a big reason the president hired the hard-charging doctrinaire conservative and declared defender of the Unitary Executive (sometimes called the Imperial Executive)  to oversee the administration of justice in his United States.  You can read Barr’s queasy, lawyerly marriage of church and state HERE.

Bear in mind that Barr, a true believer, is completely consistent in these remarks.  He is, militantly, what he always was.  He’s part of a modern conservative movement, along with other powerful luminaries like Antonin Scalia, Richard “Dick” Cheney and Boof Kavanaugh, guided by “originalism” (the real and imagined intent of the Framers) and dedicated, for a hard to fathom reason, to a strong, unfettered Chief Executive [1].  These are also the values of the Federalist Society — as long as the Chief Executive is not a partisan liberal traitor, or somebody not born here, or a scoundrel and libertine who lies about oral sex.

The traditional balance of powers between the branches was restored after President Nixon’s criminal abuses of presidential power.  The Executive Branch, the Judiciary and Congress were conceived of as three co-equal branches, keeping each other honest, protecting all of us from a would-be tyrant, or a cabal of such persons in any one branch.   The desire to avoid presidential abuse of  his oath of office, committing, covering up and obstructing investigations of crimes while president, led to efforts to curtail expanded presidential power.  The eventual curtailment of the criminal excesses of Richard Nixon were a vivid example, to many Americans, of the genius of the separation of powers in our constitution. 

The perceived limitations on executive power were seen as an intolerable insult by certain conservative stalwarts, Nixon loyalists like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Bork, Roger Stone, the recently decorated Ed Meese.  Don’t ask me why ultra-conservatives  support an Imperial President, since half of the presidents are Democrats who would, theoretically, rule with the same unchallengeable prerogatives as the Republican ones.  I can only surmise that the doctrine relates to the conservative Social Darwinist love of “Order”, protection under law, by a powerful CEO, of the power of the powerful to retain all of their privileges and immunities without government interference — and let the weak fend for themselves.  Makers vs. Takers, Dogg.

Barr is a hyper-partisan.   He’s a smart, if unprincipled, lawyer.  He knows how to sound extremely reasonable and definitive when explaining his legal rationales.  He is capable of persuasively misleading without lying outright, in any actionable way.   He authoritatively defanged and neutered the Mueller report, (a misguided attempt by Mueller to be scrupulously fair-minded while investigating incriminating facts that led to the convictions of six close presidential associates who lied to DOJ investigators, obstructed his investigation and committed other crimes in service of the president), and made the findings of his report a dead letter in the mind of American voters weeks before he released a single excerpt of it.   

The report, Barr said, left the ultimate call about the damning facts contained in the report up to him as Mueller’s boss  — not to a divided Congress as Mueller concluded was the only constitutional mechanism for addressing colorable presidential abuses of power in the face of a DOJ policy against criminally indicting the president — and made the call, weeks before releasing the report, or even Mueller’s carefully vetted Executive summaries, that the report  found insufficient evidence to charge the president with anything …  it basically exonerated the president.   Barr made a formal, binding decision, he declined to prosecute, on behalf of the Department of Justice.   Case closed.

Barr suggested, and later affirmed by opening a criminal investigation into his own DOJ, that the president had been the victim of a government conspiracy against him.   This gave gravitas and authority to Trump’s theme of personal persecution by sick and dangerous enemies.  Barr set out to investigate whether the investigation itself had been a possibly criminal partisan conspiracy against the president.   

Barr claimed Mueller’s report exonerated the president, the guilty-looking subject of volume two which detailed numerous acts of presidential  obstruction of justice.  Like a skilled magician, Barr made the ten troubling and dramatic scenes of presidential misfeasance, in that seamless and ongoing pattern of corruption disappear.  Barr stated there was “insufficient evidence” though an ongoing investigation into Roger Stone would, a few months later, demonstrate that Stone had also lied to protect the president.  The truth that emerged at Stone’s trial showed that Trump lied in his written answers to Mueller when he claimed, as Stone falsely did, that the president had no advance knowledge of political dirt that Wikileaks or the Russians had ready to go.   

Barr, in a written letter to the president published in newspapers, encouraged the president to make the broadest blanket immunity claim in American history– to defy all subpoenas for all testimony of anyone who ever worked for you and to refuse to produce any documents that could damage the presidency– and fight it all the way to the Supreme Court, to run out the clock on all the Congressional subpoenas, if nothing else.

Barr singlehandedly, acting on his strongly-held principle that the Chief Executive has unfettered powers that must not be unfairly encroached on by “checks and balances”, headed off the impeachment of Trump, the Congressional investigation that should have followed the release of the opaque but damning Mueller report.   He also improperly intervened in an attempt to bury the whistleblower report that had been found credible and urgent by the Inspector General.

Back to the Mueller report– there is a pile of strong, specific evidence of wrongdoing in the report, even as it didn’t find sufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy (in part because many key witnesses lied to investigators, played for time as pardons were dangled, several  destroyed evidence) it also, pointedly, could not exonerate Trump for obstruction of justice.   The arguments over the report dragged on in public, the hopes of opponents of the president decisively dashed once after Mueller reluctantly testified before Congress, answering questions laconically and continually citing his immense, detailed, legalistic report as his last word on the subject.  After Mueller testified in Congress, tepidly and against his will, months after his expurgated report was released,  Trump crowed again about how the $30,000,000 witch hunt into the Russia Hoax hadn’t touched him, had, as Barr suggested resulted in “complete and total exoneration”. 

The very next day, we learn, the president called the new Ukrainian president and told him he’d be happy to release the weapons a rare bipartisan Congress had approved for his country’s defense against Russian aggression– as soon as the Ukrainian made a public announcement that he’d reopened a corruption investigation into Joe Biden’s role in getting his son Hunter a cushy job for a corrupt Ukrainian gas company.    Partisans are now trying to impeach the president, in spite of the president’s constant protestations of innocence, in the face of his constant attacks on witnesses and demands to know the identity of the whistleblower, a person whose identity protected from vengeful superiors like Trump by the Whistleblower Act.

Last Friday, in front of his philosophical brothers at the Federalist Society, Barr laid out what he portrayed as the fundamental corruption of those trying to impeach the president.  He did this in the course of a speech on originalism and the Founder’s apparent intent that the president basically rule like a king.  Barr considers himself a virtuous person pursuing a deific end (he deftly turns this description of himself into an insult on his enemies on the left — his audience of one smiling). 

Typically, Barr put politics in rigid  black and white partisan terms, triggering the libs, as the kids who love Trump say.   The in-your-face “I know you are, but what am I?” projection of these remarks, by a man who believes it is his virtuous duty as a religious Christian to defend his sovereign, is — in-your-fucking-face.  I’ll do my best to refrain from commenting on Barr’s remarks, outside of asking you to assess his assertions based on our current political climate and the respective actions of each party.

Indeed, measures undertaken by this Administration seem a bit tame when compared to some of the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama Administration’s aggressive exercises of Executive power – such as, under its DACA program, refusing to enforce broad swathes of immigration law.

The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.  This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day.  It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic. 

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion.  Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection.  Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end.  They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications [2].   They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides [3].

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise [4]. We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized – that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances? [5]

For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means [6]. And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media [7].

earlier in his speech, Barr had invoked the frightful, irrational hostility of millions to the duly elected president.

Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration.  Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power.  It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate.  This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.  What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government [8].

By the way, Barr’s repeated invocation of Malcolm’s “by any means necessary” is not a dog whistle wasted on his prosperous, ambitious, status quo protecting white audience at the Federalist Society.   Raising the specter of an angry, uncompromising black man, and comparing all political opponents to this dangerous type, is catnip for a right wing audience, especially in our current white nationalist times.

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By the way, Barr also declares that he thinks it’s wrong to use the courts for political purposes [9]. 

 

NOTES

[1]  Barr smugly dismisses the entire ‘nefarious’ argument about the Unitary Executive thusly:

One of the more amusing aspects of modern progressive polemic is their breathless attacks on the “unitary executive theory.”  They portray this as some new-fangled “theory” to justify Executive power of sweeping scope. In reality, the idea of the unitary executive does not go so much to the breadth of Presidential power.  Rather, the idea is that, whatever the Executive powers may be, they must be exercised under the President’s supervision.  This is not “new,” and it is not a “theory.”  It is a description of what the Framers unquestionably did in Article II of the Constitution.

[2] Unlike freedom and democracy lover Mitch McConnell, denying, on behalf of his political backers, President Obama his constitutional duty to nominate a Supreme Court replacement for the Senate’s consideration. Or not allowing a hearing or vote on any House Bill the president has not already indicated he approves of. 

[3] see note 2

[4] Unlike godless Secularist so-called progressives, men like Barr devoutly believe in a universe ruled by Christ where our reward, presumably,  is in a glorious afterlife in the real paradise.

[5] see note 2

[6] see note 2

[7] The only legitimate holy war, as men like Barr see it, is for Christ’s rule on earth as it is in heaven.  The inherent disadvantage of beleaguered conservatives has been, many might say, nullified by the Supreme Court’s embrace of unlimited “dark money” in political campaigns, methinks.  More than nullified, actually.

[8] See note 2

[9]  talk about yer virtuous, deistic hypocrites:

The “constitutional means” to “resist encroachment” that Madison described take various forms.  As Justice Scalia observed, the Constitution gives Congress and the President many “clubs with which to beat” each other.  Conspicuously absent from the list is running to the courts to resolve their disputes.

 

 

Religious Fanatic, Polished Partisan Liar, Authoritarian and ‘Pathetic Porcine Puppet of a Puerile President’

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A few recent sickening details HERE.

The burning soul of fellow religious fanatic lawyer Antonin Scalia lives on in Bagpiper Bill Barr,  the relentless, moralistic worldview that justifies every outrage in lawyerly cavil.  They are the moral equivalents of the original Jesuits, lawyers for the Spanish Inquisition, defenders of the faith and the auto de fe. 

The over-the top, in-your-fucking-face-asshole stuff this man spouts is horrifying.   He was careful not to tip his hand during the confirmation process, not to mention his fervent willingness to protect the president for anything and everything, erring on the side of caution.  Now that he’s the top law enforcement officer in Trump’s United States of America, he’s playing with house money.  He’s in like Flynn, like Kavanaugh, like Trump himself.

His moralistic war-like view of life, Christian Good versus Secular Evil, stems from his conservative, religious worldview — if Jesus tells you what to do, you never have to worry about not being right.  Anyone who opposes you, for any reason, is irredeemably evil, end of story.   This merciless worldview flows from an enraged morality, the logic cold and final, expressed, even if ineloquently, in provocative terms no law can touch.

If I was a better person, a better Christian, I might be able to take a less violent view of this latest incarnation of that power-drunk, unappealably assertive religious zealot who wants to make you do the thing whether you want to do it or not, whether its fair or not.   I’m just not that good, yet. 

If you want to get your guts in an uproar, go  read this short insightful article about this righteous, wrathful, Christian warrior and the latest outrage from Trump’s personal Roy Cohn, the (historically corrupt) Attorney General of the United States (for fuck’s sake).

 

Political Genius

During yesterday’s  public testimony by former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, baseless, witch hunt, lynch mob testimony POTUS claims to be too busy working to MAGA to watch, the president, an intuitive  political genius, intervened in real time, tweeting, in effect:  

 SHE’S A SMELLY BITCH.  WHAT SHE DOES IN THE BATHROOM IS DISGUSTING! [1]   I WOULDN’T FUCK HER WITH PENCE’S DICK! [2]

The tweet attack (the latest example of Mr. Trump’s famous soft spot for women) was in response to testimony Yovanovitch gave regarding an intimidating smear campaign launched against her by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuiliani and his indicted henchmen, Lev and Igor, prior to her ouster as ambassador to Ukraine.

Asked later about the social media attack on a witness, during her live testimony, which had every appearance of real-time witness intimidation, the president was lightning quick to cite his constitutional right:  FIRST AMENDMENT!

Same First Amendment, presumably, that gave convicted witness tamperer, obstructionist and liar to Congress Roger Stone every right to say whatever he wanted to the illegitimate, vindictive, partisan Deep State hacks who unfairly and viciously attacked the most popular president in American history (while completely and totally exonerating him, by the way).  By not cooperating with a rabid lynch mob, and helping to obstruct the so-called investigation, Stone was only exercising his First Amendment rights! 

 NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

 

[1]  See Trump debate with Hillary when he got back from a bathroom break a moment before his opponent and shudderingly conjured the image of the disgusting things women do in the bathroom.  

[2] One of Trump’s go-to arguments against women accusing him of sexual assault. “Look at her, I fuck Playboy centerfolds, I can have any woman I want at any time I want, why would I grope her?”

A-B test (from Wednesday’s opening statements in impeachment inquiry)

A: 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Although we have learned a great deal about these events in the last several weeks, there are still missing pieces. The president has instructed the State Department and other agencies to ignore congressional subpoenas for documents. He has instructed witnesses to defy subpoenas and refuse to appear. And he has suggested that those who do expose wrongdoing should be treated like traitors and spies. These actions will force Congress to consider, as it did with President Nixon, whether Trump’s obstruction of the constitutional duties of Congress constitute additional grounds for impeachment. If the president can simply refuse all oversight, particularly in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered. That is not what the Founders intended. And the prospects for further corruption and abuse of power in this administration or any other will be exponentially increased.

B: 

REP. DEVIN NUNES:  But we should not hold any hearings at all until we get answers to three crucial questions the Democrats are determined to avoid asking. First, what is the full extent of the Democrats’ prior coordination with the whistleblower, and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with? Second, what is the full extent of Ukraine’s election meddling against the Trump campaign? And third, why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, and what did he do for them, and did his position affect any U.S. government actions under the Obama administration? These questions will remain outstanding, because Republicans were denied the right to call witnesses that know these answers. What we will witness today is a televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats.

 

In comparing and contrasting the factual basis for these two opening statements, use Judge Martha Kavanaugh’s famous formulation, the one that underlies all of her scrupulously impartial son’s decisions, now as a lifetime Supreme Court justice: ‘use your common sense, what has the ring of truth?  what rings false?’

Which way the facts ring, of course, will be a matter of hot emotional debate in our black and white, white is black America of 2019.

Junior High School posters employed by Grand Old Party

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In what used to be called propaganda, Republicans placed large posters conspicuously on the podium behind the leaders of the Intelligence Committee, for viewers at home, whenever the committee chairman spoke.  The signs underscore what they continue to portray as a corrupt, partisan lynching.   Adam Schiff (“Shifty Schitt”) stated several times, and reiterated in closing, that to this day he doesn’t know the identity of the whistleblower.

No matter.   Trump says Shifty Schitt is a fucking liar.  

Two days later, as hearings continued, that poster was updated to read 95 days. Consistency is important in hammering home a talking point, sometimes. 

Our Polarized Polity (part 71)

As the impeachment inquiry continues and the former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine testifies, two distinct stories are emerging.   They are two unreconcilable stories, one Red, one Blue (White is conspicuously absent from this patriotic stalemate  — except perhaps for the color of the lies everyone now expects and dismisses as beside the point).   

In one story, the president has abused the powers of his office since the day he was sworn in and credible evidence of that pattern of abuse is mounting daily.   A long string of his closest aids continue to resign or are banished for opposing his will, several were indicted and a few are already imprisoned — as the president continues to defy the law by asserting an unlimited blanket privilege to prevent the release of any and all subpoenaed documents and testimony.  In this story the president is a mendacious monster of vanity and impulsiveness, many of his worst deeds, done openly, have already been seen by everybody.    

In the other story, the president’s term has been near-perfect, his achievements are many, his attackers are a partisan cabal of jealous losers motivated by revenge for the president’s decisive defeat of their party’s monstrous candidate.   In that story, if not for hateful traitors, there would not even be any allegations of wrongdoing against this great American.  In that story the “whistleblower” is a criminal who must be unmasked and confronted publicly.

It’s a familiar tale, and familiar in the sense that many families know these kinds of angry divisions intimately.  The brother-in-law, a jovial un-prosecuted  serial criminal with a history of violence, who one must never criticize, the opinionated uncle freely spouting abhorrent beliefs, the aunt reserving the right to physically discipline her nieces and nephews for their disrespect.

Charles M. Blow put the situation succinctly in the New York Times the other day:

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The Red team and the Blue team, each in its own information silo.  If you wear the red hat, today’s conviction of Roger Stone, political provocateur and longtime Trump adviser, for seven counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, including lying under oath to the Mueller witch hunt, is just more proof of how determined ruthless, partisan “Democrat” liars are to bring down Mr. Trump by any means they can glom on to.    The partisan Mueller team, under DOJ criminal investigation themselves now for possibly treasonous crimes against the president, completely and totally exonerated the president and the corrupt Democrats still won’t shut up about its so-called “findings”!  It’s the same with the secret star chamber testimony given in those depositions Democrats keep releasing full transcripts of– a lynch mob conducting a baseless witch hunt with NO DUE PROCESS for POTUS!   

Ordinary citizen members of the blue team may not examine the evidence very much, or at all, before leaping up, fist in the air, to see Stone convicted for lying to protect Trump when he perjured himself to the Mueller team.   I’m not trying to be even-handed here.  There are stupid bastards, willfully ignorant bastards, stubborn bastards and plain old hateful, angry bastards on both sides.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t facts that can be placed on the table for discussion.  The fact that Republican questions appear all over the released deposition transcripts, and the witnesses were compelled to answer them (Read the Transcript!), clearly and irrefutably debunks the talking point that these were secret “star chambers” where Democrats proceeded in darkness, with no Republicans present, to extract anything harmful to the president.   

But as we all know, nothing can be debunked with plain facts in a fact-free zone and as even a quick glance at FOX news will demonstrate, inconvenient facts will never be presented to FOX viewers.  The point of view they receive will be their own point of view, forcefully confirmed for them by talking heads who confidently inform them of what they already know, while expressing no doubt or hesitation.  Abortionists, fornicators, homosexuals, transsexuals, angry blacks and Hispanics, criminal illegal aliens and their defenders, liberal cucktards, feminists, militant evangelical atheists, liberal elites, Communists, Socialists, insane, privileged “social justice warriors”, climate hysterics, George Soros, Barbra Streisand and other haters of America have an organized, well-funded, insidious agenda to turn the once-glorious United States of America into a weak and despised European-style socialist shit-hole.

At the risk of seeming to take sides here…  this interview with Liz Holtzman, at one time the youngest member of Congress (during the Nixon impeachment) lays the facts out beautifully while comparing the underlying facts of the two impeachments.    Check it out, well worth the fourteen minutes and twenty four seconds of your day.