Let's Fix This Country
politics

Investigating Investigators: Attorney General Barr on a Mission of Revenge

His search for what fits his preconceptions

Attorney General William Barr's zeal to come up with an alternative origin story for why intelligence agencies probed Trump-Russia contacts in the 2016 campaign brings to mind a quote from the Bush administration's insistence that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. Richard Deerlove, head of MI6, Britain's intelligence service, on his return to London after a trip to Washington, where he learned of U.S. manipulation of intelligence to fabricate a case for war, gave us a tidy phrase. He said, “The intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy".

That, we'll wager, is what we will see when Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham conclude their investigation. All known accounts of what led U.S.
Attorey General William Barr

intelligence agencies to secretly look into whether the Trump campaign was conspiring with Russians during 2016 are somehow suspect for them. Impatient for the report from his own inspector general, 18 months in the making so far, Barr tapped Durham to run a parallel inquiry.

In Barr, Trump has found an attorney general who wants to prove that the FBI lied about the origins

of its investigation to cover up that it was politically motivated and therefore illegal. He has already decided that the FBI was "spying" and said to Congress,

"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was adequately predicated. But I need to explore that".

In conducting his own investigation, he is carrying out the wishes of the president, who hopes Barr will conclude that there was no adequate predicate, that there should have been no investigation by the FBI or Mueller's team in the first place, and several…

impeachment

Cracks Appear in Trump’s Stonewall

President Trump forbade those in his administration from testifying before the House impeachment inquiry, and a number at first failed to show up, flouting the subpoenas that demanded their presence. But in recent days several have broken ranks to give statements and answer questions in sessions that run nine and ten hours. Republicans are furious for
Republicans stage a stand-in outside the Capitol's
subterranean SCIF

being denied access to the committees' hearings. We'll review their case, but first a quick rundown.

Among the apostates were former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch; national security official Fiona Hill, a Russia and Europe specialist; the Pentagon's Ukraine expert, Laura Cooper; and Gordon Sondland, a hotelier and…

policy

Attorney General Bill Barr Says We’d Better Get Religion

In October, Attorney General Bill Barr managed to fit into a wide-ranging itinerary that takes him to places as improbable, given his office, as the U.K., Italy and Ukraine, a stop in South Bend, Indiana, where he gave a speech at Notre Dame. It proved quite controversial.

He tells us of a Hobbesian world where "Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large". He says the nation's founders were unsure whether the citizenry "could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary" for this new form of government to survive.

Barr wants to apply those missing restraints. "No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity" but if we left that to government, it would lead to tyranny. Restraint can't be left to the people, either. That leads to "licentiousness" and "the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good".

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foreign policy

Why Would We Want Saudi Arabia
As An Ally?

We needed their oil. Midway through World War II, the Roosevelt administration was warned that the U.S. was running low, having almost single-handedly fueled the allied war effort. There in Saudi Arabia lay a resource that had hardly been tapped. Oil became the core of the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship for decades
They need no introduction, but where are Clinton and Obama in this gallery? They were equally accommodating of the Saudis, but their years lacked incidents such as those we recount.

thereafter: We would buy their oil, they would buy American weapons, we'd guarantee their security. So it was that we would have as an ally one of the world's most repressive countries ruled by a royal family that hoarded to itself the unimaginable riches found beneath its desert floor.

But that calculus has changed. First, the U.S. is now the world's biggest oil producer: 12 million barrels a day thanks to shale, subsurface geologic rendering, and technologies such as directional drilling. Besides, the Saudi kingdom presents us with problems. The war they are waging against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The king gave the reins to run the country to a crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who a year ago is believed with certainty to have ordered the gruesome murder of Washington Post opinion writer, Jamal Khashoggi, by a gang of 15 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In the year since the killing, President Trump has never acknowledged that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination, managing no more than, “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”.

The killing of a journalist is of no moment to Trump, who cares only that… Read More »

energy

Seems There’s No Stopping Fossil Fuels

U.S. oil production is running at 12.2 million barrels of oil a day this year, up from 11 million a day last year. American shale now accounts for roughly 10% of the world's oil supply, reckons The Wall Street Journal.

Oil, natural gas, and coal account for 81% of the world's energy consumption, reports Axios.com, a figure that hasn't changed in 30 years despite the rapid growth of renewables such as wind and solar. Fossil fuel consumption has grown along with them.

Comment?
military

Air Force Costs in the Wild Blue Yonder

The Air Force spent $326,785 since 2016 to keep replacing its special coffee mugs that can reheat fluids on refueling tankers and cargo aircraft while in fight. The mugs cost $1,280 apiece and break easily when dropped. Other than the outlandish cost, there is also the unanswered question of why what we calculate to be 255 mugs were dropped. Comment?

foreign policy

No Quid Quo Pro in Trump’s Chat With Ukraine? Read On

Before President Trump's conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was released, he said to reporters that it was a "perfect conversation". Half a dozen separate video clips — chopper talk, at his desk — had him saying over and over that it was "perfect".

Who ever thinks of conversations as "perfect" (or imperfect)? It made one think that his aides, prepping him for the call, which we are told is routine, had coached him not to make any mention of the funds release being contingent on Zelenskyy agreeing to investigate Biden, that he must be extremely careful not to suggest any quid pro quo. So when Trump came away from the call without having made that slip, his celebratory mood had him calling the call "perfect".

That equipped Republicans in the hallways of Congress and Fox News hosts to say, as did Tucker Carlson,

"It says none of the things the news anchors claimed it would. Read it… Read More »

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