Ethics Quote Of The Year: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr

“One of the ironies today is that people are saying it is President Trump who is shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of ‘resisting’ a Democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him, and really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president. That’s where the shredding of our norms and institutions is occurring.”

—The Attorney General, on CBS This Morning today.


I couldn’t say it better, but I’ve certainly been trying, repeatedly, since the 2016 election.

Barr appears to be a patriot and a man of integrity who took on his thankless job not because of any special reverence for President Trump, but because he correctly perceived the danger to our democracy of the vicious partisan assault on him and the Presidency was allowed to succeed.

[To read a wonderful example of  Trump Derangement in its late stages, complete with denial of reality, inversion of the English language, and legal ignorance and bias so extensive that it allows him to mock a distinguished attorney without realizing how silly it makes him sound, enjoy  this from New York Mag’s Jonathan Chait. The smoking gun of “bias makes him stupid” is that Chait resorts to claiming Trump’s obvious joke asking the Russians to track down Hillary’s missing emails was evidence of “collusion.”  Chait has also proven himself incapable of rational thought regarding President Trump. In 2016, he reacted to Trump’s election with the jaw-dropping nonsense, “The 2016 Election Is a Disaster Without a Moral.” As I explained, it is difficult to imagine an election with more morals.]

24 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Year: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr

  1. Chait—who really drives me crazy–makes two especially irritating assertions. One is the the reflex cheap shot that if you assess the Democratic Party’s plot to sabotage the President as the calculated strategy it is, that means you are mindlessly channeling Fox New and Sean Hannity. Funny, I figured out what was going on years ago, without ever hearing Hannity’s opinion on the subject, since he’s an idiot. Democrats started calling Trump’s election illegitimate before they settled on why. With all we have learned about the FISA warrant process and the Steele memorandum, how can Chait argue with a metaphorical straight face that Barr is spitting out talking points?
    As for the comparison between the Birthers and the Russian Collusion fantacists, it’s an excellent analogy. Both proceeded with no evidence and continued in bias faith, relaying on distrust fed by bias. Both were based on guilt by association: Obama had Muslim relations and “links” to Islam, Trump’s associates and campaign members had “links” to Russian, and Trump’s international operations had dealings in Russia, all legal. It never made sense that Trump would make a deal with Russia to rig the election—a. there was no reason, and still isn’t, to think they could, and b,, because it would be an insane risk and an un-American thing to do for someone who has never done or said anything that hints of that kind of perfidy.

    • Jack, I hadn’t seen Chait’s piece till today. The headline—“In Terrifying Interview, William Barr Goes Full MAGA”—reads as satire!

  2. Texbarry2@yahoo Very good and to the point. I like Barr’s comment

    Love ya,

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  3. Unfortunately the left’s concerted effort to delegitimize Barr will probably not cause many reading this quote to do a bit of introspection and perhaps tamp down their own TDS.

  4. Chait and his ilk are the enemies of justice and civilization. All so they can wield power as they wish. None are smart enough to know they aren’t smart enough to pull it off.

    • It sounds so arrogant and worse, so I don’t write it as often as I think it……but it has been so obvious to me from the first time I had to deal with reporters that this just is not a profession that attracts the best and the brightest, or even close. With very rare exceptions, these just are not smart people.

    • Chait and his ilk are the enemies of justice and civilization. All so they can wield power as they wish. None are smart enough to know they aren’t smart enough to pull it off.

      That is a very encompassing and broad statement. There are a few problems:

      It could be said to be ‘political projection’. Perhaps my view is simplistic, it is definitely Jungian, yet I notice what seems to me to be ‘political projection’ often. It is easily noticed when one resorts to extreme condemnations, calling someone (or a party, or a faction, or a movement) ‘Nazi’.

      So here, the use of the term ‘ilk’ and then ‘enemy of justice’ in respect to something so large as ‘civilization’ seems hyperbolic. This does not mean that I cannot recognize the power-imperative of the American Left. I define that as a power-dynamic (will-to-power if you wish) that is clearly operative, clearly present and visible, but which employs any particular rhetoric at hand to explain and justify itself. So, there is a popular will, encouraged and inflated by journals of opinion with ties to power-centers within the American state, that is opposed to the election of D. Trump and which is using any and every tactic at its disposal to keep ‘the resistance’ enlivened and emotionally keyed-up.

      But American politics occurs within a ‘dynamic’, doesn’t it? If it is not the Left accusing the Right of any and every crime and misdeed, it then shifts to the Right accusing the Left of the same. It seems that these two poles are dependent on one another. It is like a dysfunctional relationship that yet endures. A political, and a managerial game is played, a sort of elaborate political theatrics which obfuscates and conceals — and here is my suggestion — a range of machinations that are destructive in a truer or fuller sense. The implication being that one has to step back from the entire game and examine it from a removed perspective. Yet, the nature of the political theatrics is that it plays to people’s emotions and, like a situation comedy and like ‘reality television’, compels people to take a partisan stance.

      Paul Gottfried wrote:

      “I have also grown critical of “value talk,” which in the context of American politics means placing a rhetorical veil over one’s political intentions. I no longer find a critical difference between the American Right and the American Left; and except for a certain disparity in power and economic resources, I believe the moving along the same trajectory as Western and Central Europe, away from a bourgeois or older Western civilization, toward some form of post-Christian, postmodern culture presided over by a vast administrative apparatus.”

      If what I suggest here is so, then it does stand to reason that all spectators, to one degree or another, are being duped and participate in being duped.

      So, we have to see through the ‘value talk’ that is a rhetorical ploy that pervades every dimension in American cultural discourse: every dimension. From sales and marketing up through politics and directly into the academia. The ‘veil’ has to be removed and the real power-machinations seen.

      If there is no real and substantive difference between the American Right and the Left as Gottfried suggests, this has a range of different implications. One, that a ‘farce’ is being enacted that diverts intention from real and important issues.

      What does it mean, then, to suggest that “the U.S. is moving along the same trajectory as Western and Central Europe, away from a bourgeois or older Western civilization, toward some form of post-Christian, postmodern culture presided over by a vast administrative apparatus.” There is a great deal here to unpack. And I would suggest that if it were unpacked well and cleanly, that then the real machinations of power could better be seen and understood.

      You say that ‘these people’ — this ‘ilk’ — is harming the Republic and destroying ‘civilization’. But by focusing narrowly in what seems obviously to be ‘political projection’ you could be deceiving yourself that you have ‘located the enemy’ and ideed know what, and who, the ‘enemy’ is. You avoid then understanding what Gottfried suggests (if you were to take it seriously and consider it relevant that is) that the US is moving on a trajectory away from former ‘bourgeois forms’ and into a Post-Christian and Postmodern culture determined and controlled by an ‘administrative apparatus’. It is this ‘apparatus’ that would have to be examined, wouldn’t it?

      Locating your ‘enemy’ as you have — and I do not dismiss that there are ‘adversaries’ within a co-dependent, enmeshed political system and culture — might keep you from actually seeing and understanding the *real enemy* of ‘justice’ as you say and also of ‘civilization’. If these are really concerns, then they need to be turned into a group of poignant questions and pushed forward vigorously.

      • None are smart enough to know they aren’t smart enough to pull it off.

        Yet, a vast ‘administrative apparatus’ has taken shape and it could be said to have supplanted the republican forms that were originally established. I find that I cannot avoid stating what I clearly see, and what I think everyone should be able to see. I am supposing that Gottfried is referring to The Managerial Revolution? by James Burnham? Here is George Orwell on the topic:

        Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic. The rulers of this new society will be the people who effectively control the means of production: that is, business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers, lumped together by Burnham, under the name of “managers”. These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organise society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands. Private property rights will be abolished, but common ownership will not be established. The new “managerial” societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great super-states grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.

        Therefore, when he later says: “All talk about democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, all revolutionary movements, all visions of Utopia, or “the classless society”, or “the Kingdom of Heaven on earth”, are humbug (not necessarily conscious humbug) covering the ambitions of some new class which is elbowing its way into power” we have a clear means to understand Gottfried’s “I have also grown critical of “value talk,” which in the context of American politics means placing a rhetorical veil over one’s political intentions”.

        It is not in any sense that they are not smart enough to pull it off, but rather that it is being pulled off and in truth has been pulled off, and that we now live in the *shadow* of our former hopes and suppositions (sentimental desires?) about What Once Was (and no longer is).

          • I definitely know who my enemies are.

            Fine. I say you deceive yourself.

            It is so hard to talk with you and people like you. Your style of thinking, or this infliction you call thinking, cannot but reduce things — everything you look at — to the rawest of binaries. You look, and you cannot *see*. Your seeing is projection just as I said. In this, you reveal, and yet you cannot yourself understand, how deeply you are bound up in the problem that we confront in the present.

            Just as Orwell is talking about Burhham, and Burnham is dealing on the Machiavellian aspect of modern politics (the modern world really) Chomsky in his communistic-leaning way is applying a Machiavellian type of analysis: examining *power and the machinations of power*. Chomsky is reductionist according to his peculiar lights, that much is clear (if you had ever read him and it is doubtful you have). But he still is dealing with ideas that are part-and-parcel of the Occidental canon. If you knew this, you could distinguish how his orientation can be useful even when his larger communistic-socialistic vision can be rejected.

            You are unable — I think this is where the infliction is most evident — to understand that there is, there was and there is, a genuine American populist movement, and this is to say a pole within the American polity that is concerned for the welfare of people and their communities. That is where the idea of ‘America First’ came from. You seem incapable of disentangling your patriotism from a bizarre, thoughtless support of the State. And you cannot in any critical way, with any degree of intellectual liberty, examine the present state and its associations.

            You are a walking talking example of failure in a group of different senses. Intellectual, moral and ethical.

            • Get ahold of yourself. Calm down.

              Sorry if you have difficulty understanding someone who has clear picture of right, wrong, friends, and enemies.

              • Again, it is so hard to communicate with *you and people like you* because your intellectual parameters are excruciatingly narrow. If you are an “American Conservative” this is one of my principle complaints. You don’t really think. Or when you think you think along established lines, and you all run in the same ruts. It is pathetic and disheartening. The most resistance — contempt really — that I get here comes from people who cannot bear a more in-depth, probing analysis. In brief, they detest the *questions*, and what you have just written here must be turned into a series of questions.

                I certainly believe that you do have a “clear picture of right, wrong, friends, and enemies”. That is, that you do have a picture of some sort that you reference. But I assert that if pressed to defend your ‘enemy list’, and also your ‘friend list’, as well as how you define what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’, that you would encounter difficulty upon difficulty and would demonstrate incoherence: a worldview that is arbitrarily determined by incomplete ideas, sentimentalism, absorbed thought, idées reçues, patriotic conventionalism, and different manifestations of ‘complicity’ as I employ the term.

                And you despise that I say this and that I challenge you! When challenged, you turn the one who challenges you into The Enemy. Thirty percent of the folks who write on this blog have shown this characteristic. And I have been calumnified by Spartan, Alicia Klein, Chris, Zoltar, you, Michael West, Slick and numerous others. This is what you do. This is how your minds work.

                You are terrified by contrary ideas and when confronted you react as a pack of hyenas. And you assume the complete justice of your cause! However, my strategy has been, and is, not to get stuck in reaction against your reaction, but to try to understand why you choose to maintain your intellectual life within such narrow limits, and to proceed beyond them. This in itself is a complex topic and the forces that determine your *thinking* are various. But essentially *you* are conformist thinkers. And American conformism is extreme. You have to get permission from those around you to make *statements* and when you do make a *statement* it is like that of Steve Witherspoon, a recent arrival.

                Steve wrote: “Everything that our culture has ever held dear WILL come under attack from the totalitarian fascists in the extreme political left. Their goal is to destroy our culture from within because they been brainwashed into truly believing that our culture is evil. The only way they can destroy our culture is from within is to smear everything that makes up our culture as evil and intimidate the masses into submission. / I agree with others; the evidence is all around us, the left’s totalitarian fascists are winning the battle of the minds.

                It is sent out as an ‘agreement statement’ in order to then sidle into the *conversation* of endless complaint against the *identified enemy*. But it is an idea ‘manoeuvre’ that is much more complex than meets the eye, and it must be examined. I examine it and, naturally, earn contempt. There, in the contempt received, is an indication of why such narrow groupthought is not a ‘good’ thing, but a very bad thing. You circle the wagons against the ‘invading enemy’ who threatens your fragile certainties, and then the pack-instinct begins to kick in. Ridicule, insult, diversion, silence.

                So, tell me who is the ‘enemy’ in this peculiar dynamic, this rehearsal, this charade of failed the intellectual? Hmmmmm? Name the ‘enemy’. Obviously, you can’t. Because what I am presenting to you you have never thought about before. In the limited conversation-circle of shared agreements you engage with you certainly do not challenge each other and thus, how about that? avoid being challenged. Tell me then: how different is this from the closed-mindedness of the college kids and the ‘dumbed down America’ you refer to with such scorn? Huar huar huar: you are part of the same problem. And that is just one smallish aspect.

                Because you have established yourself (there are millions and millions of *you*) within a narrow circle and a closed loop, you can only point to a brand ‘the other’ who is on the other pole opposite you. While not the same, you share common features. But within the *safe space* of your limited intellectual stance anyone outside of your purview is, almost by definition, an ‘enemy’. Your like intellectual housewives!

                According to Slick this is being ‘insulting to the end’. But what you do not grasp is that I don’t have any intention to insult, and nothing is gained from it. What I desire is to expand the narrow limits of a too-closed-down intellectual conversation having to do with right and wrong, friend and enemy in the widest sense that has relevancy within our Occidental canon. The conversation hardly gets off the ground because time and again you-plural, in a pack, do everything in your combined power to shut it down! And here, I hope it is obvious, I am referring to the larger, wider conversation that is developing and which is being resisted tooth & claw from all side and on all fronts. (That conversation which is resistant to the hyper-liberal idea-management régime that dominates ideation in our present).

                Now, tell me, Who Is The Enemy?

  5. The accusation is now flying around the Internet that Barr contradicted his May 1st written testimony in this interview, à la Newsweek:

    During an exclusive interview with CBS, the attorney general said the Department of Justice “didn’t agree with the legal analysis” in the special counsel’s final report on the two-year probe into Russian election interference—especially when it came to obstruction of justice.

    “It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers and so we applied what we thought was the right law but then we didn’t rely on that,” Barr said, adding that the Justice Department looked at the facts and decided there was not enough evidence to charge President Donald Trump with a crime.

    But Barr’s remarks seemed in direct contrast to what he told Congress in written testimony on May 1 during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. At the time, the attorney general repeatedly said he had accepted Mueller’s legal framework in making a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice.

    “Although we disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories… we accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion,” Barr’s testimony read.

    In both the interview and his written testimony, he says that he disagreed with Mueller’s “legal analysis/theories” about obstruction, but reviewed the evidence as present by Mueller and found it deficient as a matter of law. I’m not seeing the alleged inconsistency here, but perhaps you could comment, Jack.

    • I should clarify that Barr said, as a matter of law, he disagreed with Mueller’s theories, but that he examined each of the potentially obstructive episodes in their own right as presented by Mueller; e.g., did this action objectively have the probable effect of obstructing the proceeding? was the there a clear indication of corrupt intent on Trump’s part? etc.

  6. More breathtaking lucidity from Barr (I love the Roman history reference):

    WILLIAM BARR: And look, I think if we — why are we worried about foreign influence in the campaign? We should be because the heart of our system is the peaceful transfer of power through elections and what gives the government legitimacy is that process. And if foreign elements can come in and affect it, that’s bad for the republic. But by the same token, it’s just as, it’s just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system, republic that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.

    JAN CRAWFORD: So it’s just as dangerous- So when we talk about foreign interference versus say a government abuse of power, which is more troubling?

    WILLIAM BARR: Well they’re both, they’re both troubling.

    JAN CRAWFORD: Equally?

    WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they’re there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.

    Finally, a grown-up in the room. Maybe once he’s done at the DOJ, my college’s trustees will hire him to clean up the administration and faculty there.

  7. The biggest problem with the #Resist movement is not their resistance to a president they don’t like. Conservatives similarly resisted former president Obama in some of the same ways. But there is a big difference nonetheless.

    The Left has rejected all norms as inapplicable to this president because they have decided he is an existential threat to the America they want. About that, they are absolutely right in theory, but the reality is that political leaders in America are highly transitory.

    It is unlikely that Trump will be able to accomplish in even eight years what the Leftist establishment has been putting in place for decades: a monolithically left-liberal education establishment, a complete takeover of big city and big state governments, a complete takeover of the news and information media, a substantially complete takeover of the career positions within US government.

    These will all still be in place when Trump leaves. The only thing Trump can substantially affect is the federal judiciary, and again, even though potentially a longer-term problem for the Left, that too is transitory.

    The Left has everything they need to complete a takeover of the US Government and attempt to institute their version of Utopia, except for one thing — patience. They were tremendously patient reaching this point, and anyone would have to admit they have been almost completely successful in obtaining control of enough levers of power to get the job done.

    But Trump has undone that patience, and left them mentally off-balance (some might say deranged), and that instability threatens to extend Trump’s influence beyond his presidency and expose the corruption required for the Left to obtain their dominant position. Trump, by his unorthodox and often unethical actions has and continues to dangle bait that the Left simply cannot resist, hooking themselves almost every time. It is a completely unforced error, with long-term results nobody can foresee.

    It may seem odd to suggest this, but like my comments about MLK the other day, where I suggested both his vices and virtues may have saved us, Trump could actually be in a similar position. Except in his case, it could actually be his vices more than his virtues (a weird, accidental ethical jui-jitsu) that act to save us by motivating the Left to expose themselves and the deep totalitarian reflex behind their entire enterprise, and a glimpse of a frightening, almost dystopian future (at least in terms of the Constitution and country as founded) that lies ahead if their plans are not thwarted.

    Barr’s comment is an apt description of events, but it lacks intuition of the motivation behind them. That’s as it should be, after all, since he is first a lawyer and second a political creature.

    • The Praetorian Guard wanted nothing other than to maintain its power. That’s why Barr’s use of the term is so eloquent.

      • Can’t argue with his use of the term at all, especially when he included the

        They identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state.

        Hard to deny that’s exactly what we’ve seen.

        • Agreed, Glenn.

          Funny how often he says “you know.” My mother used to scold us whenever we did so, saying, “If the person you’re talking to already knows what you’re saying, why are you telling them again!”

          • It’s an incredible performance by Barr. I can’t believe CBS ran it. They deserve a bit of credit for doing so, even though the astounded interviewer tried to make Barr sound as if he was a lunatic for not toeing the resistance’s line.

            • Well, they had little choice but to run it. Sometimes, when you try to set someone up to hang themselves, you find out they are actually smarter than you.

              CBS was convinced Barr was just another Trump crony, a dumb political hack in the mold of Eric Holder, because they’ve allowed the “woke” Left to literally write the narrative they try to follow. Imagine their surprise when they were hoist upon their own petard.

    • …it could actually be his vices more than his virtues (a weird, accidental ethical jui-jitsu)…

      This comment is COTD worthy, as it makes several salient points we have been circling here at EA for months. President Trump makes the mask slip, and we will see if common Americans are paying attention and will fight against the plans the Left has for our nation.

      Well written!

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