Tag Archives: Bill Barr

Ring of Fire Podcast: Sam Seder – Barr Hearings and Democratic Party Platform

sam seder

Turn off the corporate media and listen to a really good podcast on Ring of Fire with Sam Seder as he talks about the Barr hearing and interviews John Nichols.

Podcast

 

 

The Barr Hearings: That’s Why my Stomach hurts

barr

     Bill Barr, after being threatened with a subpoena by Jerry Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, appeared before the House on July 28, 2020.  There was no reason for anybody who has watched Barr with increasing outrage and fury, as he has politicized the administration of justice in this country, to hold out much hope that these hearings would reveal much. 

Democrats are hopeless at taking on people with even moderate intelligence in a hearing setting.  They refuse to adopt an aggressive approach to Republican authoritarians.  They are so concerned with being “nice” or “polite” or “well mannered,” they never anticipate the depths of obfuscation and bad behavior to which the Republicans are willing to sink.

     When I switched channels over to MSNBC from TCM where I had been contemplating hiding in escapism for the duration, there was nothing but noise, loud, irritating, obnoxious noise.  Then, the camera switched to a screen inside the committee hearing.  On this screen was a video, displaying images of protesters, tear gas, confrontation, people pounding at fences.  What?  Isn’t this the Barr hearing?

     It was the Barr hearing.  What was going on was that bad-boy Jim Jordan, the crazed ex-wrestler who refused to report his colleague for sexual abuse, had introduced as an “opening statement” a long, selectively edited campaign video purporting to give an accurate representation of the protests occurring in various cities in the United States.  The video employed one of the right’s main strategies, fear, creating fear and therefore anger in their base.  That’s what Fox News does 24/7. 

If you watched the video divorced from any other news, you would think the country was descending into total chaos and violent anarchy.  That is exactly what the Republicans wanted to portray.  They spent the rest of the hearing, pounding home the point and punching the key words over and over – protest, chaos, anarchists, violence, crime, hate…”my constituents are afraid.” As usual, the Republicans had all been briefed on the key words to use during the hearing to drive home the point.  Like faithful soldiers, they complied.  

     This is a strategy they have used for decades.  Even years ago, ten or fifteen Republicans would be interviewed independently on television.  All of them would use the same words and phrases to describe a situation, to get their point across, to insert their frame on the news.  They are good little soldiers, obedient and loyal and willing to do and say anything.  That’s one of the many reasons we need to fear them and fight them.

     But, even though, Jerry Nadler scolded Jordan for violating Committee rules by not notifying committee of the intent to show the video, the damage was done.   

Why are Democrats always like Charlie Brown with the football?  Every time, they stand around and watch Lucy put the ball on the ground, suspecting nothing.  Then, they watch Lucy yank the ball out from under them.  Then, they issue a scolding after the fact, or ignore the behavior with dignified silence.

Why didn’t Jerry Nadler know the Republicans were going to play this video?  Why didn’t he review it?  There had to be people in the hearing room, setting this up.  If I had been burned as many times as the Democrats in hearings, I would have informants everywhere and somebody watching that room from the minute the doors were unlocked.

And, if you want to argue that Nadler couldn’t have known about the video, why didn’t he stop it?  If showing the video violated the rules, why didn’t Nadler stop the video?  Why didn’t he demand it be stopped when he saw that it was – a propaganda campaign ad that grossly misrepresented the situation?  Nadler can’t walk but somebody could have been told to go and stop that video if it violated Committee rules.  But, Jerry Nadler (and other corporate Democrats) refuse to enforce the rules?   

     I watch a lot of politics.  I have spent most of my adult life reading about, watching, writing about, studying politics, specifically politics and crime.  But, now, when one of these big hearings is scheduled, I start feeling queasy in the morning.  I feel obligated to watch, to witness this descent into authoritarianism.  But I don’t want to watch.  As someone said yesterday on Twitter, how can these hearings always end up being a loss for both sides?

I know corporate Democrats are largely cowards, feckless cowards who will not fight, or enforce the rules even when enforcing the rules would be to their advantage.  But, how did we end up with such a sorry lot?  And, what are they afraid of?

I think part of the answer lies in the fact that Democrats are living in a culture in Washington that no longer exists.  They can’t seem to accept, acknowledge, understand, that they are facing ruthless authoritarians who will resort to anything, anything to win. They act like if they just stand erect, stare directly ahead of them and behave in a dignified manner (watch Adam Schiff), this ruthless, gutter fight for power on the part of the Republicans will disappear.

In fact, Joe Biden has said just that.  He has stated that when we get rid of Trump, all his Republican friends are just going to go back to “normal” and we can return to a bipartisan Kumbaya that hasn’t existed for decades.  Republicans haven’t been “normal,” haven’t participated in this gentleman’s club of bipartisanship for decades.  And, they aren’t going to do so now.  People keep saying we need somebody who can “unite us.”  No, that’s not what we need.  We need somebody who can marginalize and neuter these rabid authoritarians, see them for what they are, and push them as far away from power as we can get them. 

     An interesting “tell” here is the ability of the “squad” and some of the other recently elected Democrats to run circles around these career corporate Democrats in hearings.  They are not still living in a culture that doesn’t exist.       

  First, they aren’t afraid.  They aren’t afraid to use their common sense and ask questions that make Republicans squirm.  They ask the sort of questions that these career corporate Democrats would rather die than ask.   Secondly, these women come prepared.  They generally don’t just read a prepared statement like they’ve never seen it before, stumbling over what are supposed to be their own words.  Third, they usually actually show up and listen to the hearings.  They don’t just appear and read a series of questions like bad third-grade actors.  They know what has gone on in the hearing and are capable of adapting to the situation.  Fourth, these women were by-and-large elected in an upset.  They have not been groomed by the DNC.  They were elected with a skill set that was larger than just being able to raise money and kiss butt.  When I watch people who have been on capitol hill for decades perform at a committee hearing, stumbling through the text of canned questions written by their staff, I always think: They are there because they can raise money, lots of money.  That’s the only reason they are there.  The DNC supports these types of candidates over other candidates that are more qualified because they can raise money and will behave. 

The DNC has worked tirelessly to keep new candidates from emerging in the Democratic party and has created a blacklist for consulting businesses who work for candidates challenging incumbents.  The Congressional Black Caucus actually supported an incumbent, Elliott Engels, over a progressive black challenger.  This tells you how institutionalized these Democrats have become.  The DNC is actively working to keep people in Congress who will play ball, who will not enforce the rules, who will not fight, and who will not ask the tough questions.

Recently, I read an interview of somebody in the music industry.  She said: “Oh, they don’t look for talent anymore.  They look for somebody with the right look and a compliant personality.”  That’s what the DNC looks for and they are selling us down the drain by doing so.  That’s why an important hearing makes my stomach hurt.

Epstein and MSNBC

jeffrey epstein

  • Cornell Belcher, former Obama pollster and part of the corporate Democratic elite, tells progressives to “Shut the hell up and grow up.” Silence your criticisms of Biden, Belcher chides, and “fall in line.”  Make no mistake, that is their attitude to all progressives.  Obama and his administration purposefully squelched progressive participation in his administration.  Obama refused to prosecute members of the Bush administration who engineered and carried out torture.  He refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 crash.  Those two decisions helped get us where we are.  Biden will do the same.
  • Ghislaine Maxwell was finally arrested today. There are those who believe that Barr’s firing of Berman was to get more control over this investigation and prosecution.  I am not one of the people who find Berman’s behavior in this situation commendable.  He finally resigned and securing a promise to have his next in command take over the operations is not enough.  He should never have resigned.  He should have made them fire him.  It’s not enough.  I am not optimistic about the Maxwell prosecution.  This is one of those situations where too many powerful people have too much to lose to allow this to go forward.  They will stop it.  We don’t know how exactly, but trust me, they will stop it.
  • Chris Hayes on MSNBC tonight described narratives that question Epstein’s “suicide” as “conspiracy theories.” MSNBC can always be trusted to maintain the corporate Democratic line.
  • The two documentaries on Epstein fail to probe Epstein’s connection with intelligence.  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/06/18/epstein-case-documentaries-wont-touch-tales-of-intel-ties/

The Trough, Jeff Van Drew, The Family Foundation, The War for a Religious State and other Thoughts

van drew

Van Drew and the Trough

Five aides to Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the only Democrat to come out against impeachment, have resigned.  Van Drew announced that he will not vote for impeachment.

In a letter of resignation the staff members told the Chief of Staff: “Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office.”  “Over the past year, Trump Republicans have sided with special interests over the needs of working people,” they said. “Worse, they continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart. They have refused to grapple with how the President of the United States has jeopardized our national security for his own political advantage.”  “Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office.”

It should be a serious subject for discussion just how craven men and women will become to hold onto a position in Congress.  One only has to think of the enormous increase in the personal wealth of Mitch McConnell to understand just how much money these man and women expect to make from their positions of public service.

As I used to tell my students when I taught Criminology – they don’t come to public office and become corrupted, they go into public service because they are corrupted and plan to become more so.

The Republicans Cannot be Shamed

I have a little clue for CNN and MSNBC. Both cable news networks have shown clips of Lindsay Graham asking members of Congress to wait and weigh the evidence before deciding on impeachment when Clinton was the object.  They then show video of Graham proudly proclaiming that he is not an objective juror in the Trump impeachment.

Trying to point out the hypocrisy of Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell  or any other Republican is a waste of time.  THEY DON’T CARE.

The Republican party is trying to install a one-party religious state in this country.  They are fighting what to them is a holy war against the rest of us and against democracy.  They cannot be shamed or embarrassed.  They cannot be reasoned with because they are trying to colonize reason and use it for themselves and their own power.

Appeasers like Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Buttigieg are our worst enemies.  They encourage people to believe that when Trump is gone (if he ever is) things will return to “normal.”  But “normal” is what got us Trump.  The Bill Barr’s, the Mitch McConnell’s, the Jim Jordan’s, will still be there. The Fellowship Foundation will still be there.

Those who don’t see the fight and won’t engage in it, must get out of the way and be left behind.

“I trust him.” Famous last words about Durham and Barr

barr

  • The Bill Barr’s DOJ has initiated a criminal investigation into its own Russia investigation, clearly sending a message that there is reason to believe crimes were committed when the original investigation of the Russia connection was started.
  • This is exactly what Trump promised Hillary Clinton he would do, i.e., start criminal investigation and prosecution of his political enemies.
  • But, the usual corporate news media “our institutions will hold” chorus shrugs it off.
  • Barbara McCabe said it’s a “distraction” from the impeachment inquiry, a stunt.
  • Several commentators (including Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY) dismissed the inquiry in interviews by saying who cares, there’s nothing to find. Chuck Rosenberg, interviewed on Rachael Maddow, said: “I have a feeling that this is going nowhere.”
  • In taking this position, these pundits ignore (n tot for the first time) the clear fact that this is a serious step towards authoritarianism.
  • The chorus of “our institutions will save us” commentators, including chief normalizer Chuck Rosenberg, are praising John Durham, Barr’s co-conspirator who is traveling the world trying not to “find evidence” as corporate media pundits describe it, but to find people who will manufacture evidence to fit their investigation.
  • In an interview Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, Rosenberg said of Durham: “I know, I like, and I admire John Durham. I trust him.”
  • You will remember that Rosenberg (whose podcast MSNBC advertises) also said that William Barr was an institutionalist, implying that Barr would never allow partisan politics to enter the hallowed halls of the Justice Department.
  • He was outrageously wrong then and he is wrong now.
  • Rosenberg pointed out that perhaps there were “discordant” notes sounded by the initiation of a criminal investigation. Dear, dear, discordant notes.
  • Rosenberg continued that if we want John Durham to “get to the bottom of this” we should welcome a grand jury. So, according to the “institutionalist chorus” we should just shrug our shoulders and wait and see.  Just like they advised us to do with Barr.
  • “John,” Rosenberg stressed to reassure, “needs some factual basis in order to open a grand jury.” When Maddow pointed out that Bill Barr was the official deciding what “factual basis” met the threshold, Rosenberg had no answer.  But, his faith in the integrity of the Justice Department was still there.
  • Mine is not.
  • In a ridiculously contradictory set of statements, Rosenberg pointed out that he worried about the “chilling effect” that the initiation of such an investigation would have. But, Durham, he said, was “a credible prosecutor.”
  • Interestingly, Rosenberg noted that Durham “has been asked to do things like this before and…has closed…investigations after several years without bringing charges.”
  • That makes Durham the perfect stooge to investigate, feed into the Republican narrative that it was the Trump Campaign that was wronged in the 2016 election, and then after two years of harassment, quietly drop the investigation.
  • Later in Thursday night’s Rachael Maddow show, David Lohfman, former head of the counterintelligence section inside the Justice Department said, “I have high regard for John Durham.” He is “a distinguished prosecutor.”  “It’s hard for me to imagine that John Durham would associate himself with the frivolous initiation of a criminal investigation.”
  • But, then a few seconds later, Lohfman noted that the people in the Justice department would have been “derelict if we had not pursued that line of investigation.” They would have been derelict not to pursue it, therefore there was no question in his mind that the investigation was appropriate.  But, the “distinguished prosecutor” is perfectly reasonable to lend his credibility to the initiation of an investigation that clearly targets those who started the initial investigation.  There are no people of courage any more.
  • Lohfman ended the interview by saying: “I have every confidence that John Durham will withstand any pressures that may buffet him to go down a road that he thinks is not supported by the facts and law.” But, he has just done that by joining this new criminal investigation.
  • If the investigation is unwarranted, and also will contribute to chilling future investigations, why didn’t Durham if he is such a hero, refuse to take part in it.
  • The job of a prosecutor is not to expend taxpayer money and harass people pursuing frivolous investigations when s/he thinks there’s nothing there. That is an abuse of office.
  • But none of the “our institutions will save us” chorus will say that. No, they just assure us that Bill Barr or Durham are great people of integrity.
  • Let’s not take too seriously the initiation of a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s political opponents. The institutions will save us.
  • I agree with people who have argued that Bill Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard. He must be impeached, now.