Bill Barr wrote a letter to the Trump administration auditioning for the job of Attorney General. Barr decided at some point that Trump could be used to usher in an age of quasi-religious authoritarian government in the United States that people like him have been working to bring about for decades. He sees himself as carrying out a mission and he will not resign because he is disapproved of by DOJ officials, prosecutors or judges. He, like Trump, has no shame.
In an article (12/5/19) by Damon Linker, entitled “William Barr is shockingly clear about his authoritarianism,” Linker points out that:
In his “…October 11 speech at the University of Notre Dame,” Barr “…embraced a deeply anachronistic vision of religion in American public life. It was a story of a morally upstanding Republican majority upholding biblically based Judeo-Christian piety and righteousness against an aggressive minority faction of liberals and progressives who use positions of cultural and political power to impose an agenda of moral relativism on the nation.”
People like Barr believe that “…it’s crucially important for the future of American democracy that this (Barr’s) side prevail in its battle against godless relativists…” In doing so, “Barr was providing a justification for using all the powers of the federal government to bring about that outcome.” Just think about that. William Barr is providing a justification for using all the powers of the federal government to bring about” the outcome he advocates.
If any more evidence is needed, five weeks after the Notre Dame speech, “…came Barr’s even more alarming speech to…The Federalist Society. Here he described the presidency (and because of that, American self-government itself) as under siege by Congress and the courts. The greatest achievement of the American constitutional framers, he claimed, was the creation of a strong, independent, and unitary executive. And yet the liberals and progressives in charge of these other branches of government do everything in their power to hobble and weaken the presidency, which should, and will, do everything it can to reaffirm its distinctive powers and prerogatives.”
According to Barr, Trump “…would ideally also be free…to impose the travel ban, end DACA, add a citizenship question to the census, and make American foreign policy in Eastern Europe serve his personal whims and conspiratorial obsessions without having to face any pushback from Congress or the courts. No subpoenas. No irritating injunctions. No pesky Freedom of Information Act requests. No endless investigations. Trump would simply lead, and everyone else would follow.”
Then, “at the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing….Barr made a point of singling out those “communities” that fail to show “the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.” Those communities that don’t express the proper “support and respect,” he warned ominously, “might find themselves without the police protection they need.”
“It’s hard to read that passage without hearing it as a threat to minority (and especially African American) communities that have taken a stand in recent years against police brutality and excessive force….”
“It would be hard to think of a purer expression of the authoritarian mindset than this statement.”
“But Barr’s statement isn’t just an expression of authoritarianism. It’s also a reflection of the mob-boss mentality that prevails in the administration Barr serves with such abundant loyalty and enthusiasm….That isn’t how the rule of law is supposed to work. It’s the way authoritarian regimes, crime families, and robber gangs work. Unfortunately, it’s also how the president and his henchman at the Justice Department would very much like American government to work, from the Oval Office on down to the streets of our cities.”
“It’s up to the rest of us to show them both that we don’t share their admiration for rule by thug.”
See “William Barr is shockingly clear about his authoritarianism.” (12/5/19) Damon Linker.The Week.
Yesterday, I spent hours reading about William Barr launching a criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. What struck me most forcefully was the repeated dismissal of the action by various corporate media commentators.
There is a squad of normalizers out there in the corporate news world, working overtime to convince us that we are not seeing what is right before our eyes, an authoritarian take-over of the state.
The attitude was, “Oh well, this is just a distraction.” “Don’t worry, there’s nothing there.” “They don’t even know what they’re investigating.” “The prosecutor (Durham from Connecticut) is a fine man.” “Who could imagine that such a fine man would be participating in anything nefarious.”
The Attorney General of the United States has launched a criminal investigation into the Justice Department’s own Russia investigation. The effect of this investigation will be to harass, to target, and to punish members of the intelligence community and the FBI who dared, dared to follow up credible leads that the Trump Campaign was consorting with Russians in order to steal an election.
As David Lohfman, head of the counterintelligence section at Justice at the time stated Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, “We would have been derelict” had an investigation not been initiated.
But the Attorney General is now using a criminal investigation to punish and silence anyone who participated in this lawful investigation. And, the normalizers tell us that there’s nothing to see here.
They are tying themselves in knots trying to dismiss what has happened. It reminds me of a Time Magazine cover during Watergate where all the principles were surrounded by audio tape, desperately pointing at each other.
The normalizers shout that what Barr is doing is merely a “distraction.”
But it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if it is. It doesn’t make any difference at all why Barr is pursuing this investigation. Once the Justice Department becomes an enforcement tool of the White House you have authoritarianism.
The corporate media refuses, refuses to state what is obvious to anyone who has eyes and ears. Instead, they work overtime to bring on the appeasers to tell us that what we are seeing are “stunts” “empty gestures,” nothing to worry about.
I read a tweet from somebody yesterday wondering if the corporate media would have normalized the rise of Mussolini. I think most definitely so.
I had barely stumbled into my study this morning and turned on the computer before I was confronted with Greg Sargent in the Washington Post making his contribution to the to the normalizing.
Under the headline “Explosive William Barr news points to Trump’s weakness and panic.” (WP 10/25/19), Sargent beings his article with the sentence: “Don’t freak out.” What? We’re not supposed to “freak out” over explosive news?
Sargent proceeds to call Barr’s investigation “deeply worrying” a standard utterance widely used yesterday along with “concerning.” (Concern used to be a noun.)
Then Sargent tells his readers that even though “when we’re talking about Barr, the most nefarious designs imaginable must be treated as a serious possibility,” it’s possible “POSSIBLE” that Barr’s actions are NOT SERIOUS. Well, hell, it’s POSSIBLE that my head is going to fly off into the goddamn air and become a spotted calf, but I’m not going to waste time talking about it, especially not in the goddamn Washington Post.
Sargent, evidently realizing the utter imbecility of his case, drags in the help of the New York Times, saying that the Times comments that Barr’s actions may “raise alarms” that Trump “is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.” May?
Both corporate news outlets refrain from saying what is obvious, that Trump and Barr ARE using the Justice Department go to after enemies. No, The Washington Post and the New York Times must phrase it differently. According to them, Barr’s actions MAY “raise alarms” that this is happening. They don’t say this IS happening, or that we SHOULD BE alarmed, what they say (in all the courage of their convictions) is that these things might be happening, and might raise the alarms of a certain unidentified group of people that it might be happening.
Sargent goes on to state that it is “at least possible” that Barr turning the Justice Department into an enforcement branch to silence Trump’s detractors isn’t “quite as serious as it seems.” I suppose in some goddamn fictional world, that it’s possible that it’s not as serious as it seems, but I don’t know where that is. In the world I inhabit, it is serious, goddamn serious. It is using the investigative branch of the government in a blatant action to silence the President’s enemies.
Sargant says it’s POSSIBLE that it’s not as serious as it seems because the investigation might just be an attempt to calm the president.
Following this logic, it’s O.K. if the Justice Department is pursuing bogus criminal investigations if it’s just to calm the president. WHAT MAKES THAT O.K.? IN WHAT WORLD IS THAT ALRIGHT?
Sargent sees it as reassuring that neither the Times nor the Post are “clear what potential crime Durham and Barr are investigating.” No, that’s not reassuring. That makes it even more terrifying. The very fact that Barr managed to initiate a criminal investigation based on NOTHING, should be terrifying, not reassuring.
Sargent drags the Cato Institute in and uses them to say that the criminal matter “could be something relatively less serious” say a leak from the Russia probe. Again, this is supposed to make us feel better? The Justice Department intends to drag government officials who were doing their jobs through years of investigation and possible prosecution, but if it’s for something relatively minor, we’re supposed to feel better?
Sargent then adopts the Barbara McQuade idiotic statement of the day from yesterday, that this is merely a diversion from the impeachment probe. Whether or not it is a diversion from the impeachment probe it is a criminal prosecution trumped up for no reason, to uncover no known crime which will chill investigations in the future.
Again, this is said as if since the criminal investigation is a diversion, we should all relax and move on. I just don’t understand that.
After repeating McQuade’s ludicrous utterance, Sargent then manages to try to tie himself up in knots by stating: “I’m not saying Barr’s machinations aren’t deeply dangerous. They absolutely are.”
Then why has he has just spent an entire article telling us why they AREN’T deeply dangerous?
“Given Barr’s apparent willingness to place law enforcement at Trump’s political disposal, it’s very possible Barr’s designs are maximally nefarious. But one can also imagine the criminal probe is of some intermediate matter.”
What “intermediate matter?” What difference does that make?
The very fact that Barr has managed to open this criminal investigation is the point. What he intends to do, what crime he is targeting (if any), whether the investigation will “go anywhere” is not the goddamn point.
Barr’s Justice Department tried to keep Trump’s Ukraine plot buried by advising against the transmission of the whistleblower complaint about it to Congress, and by successfully declining to investigate the referral within the Justice Department. He has now successfully launched a criminal investigation targeting Trump’s foes. This is serious. Any attempt to portray it as otherwise is deeply subversive, that includes opinion pieces from the Washington Post.
I’m beginning to believe that the corporate media is more dangerous than Trump and to borrow a phrase from ancient Rome about Crassus, William Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard.