Saturday, November 16, 2019

Does Matt Taibbi Grok Bill Barr?


Taibbi has a new article out and the title and subtitle speak volumes:

Deval Patrick’s Candidacy Is Another Chapter in the Democrats’ 2020 Clown Car Disaster
The entrance of the former Massachusetts governor into the presidential race is more proof the party has no clue where the votes are

No clue where the voters are? They could ask Trump--or just listen to Trump! But they're too pround, or arrogant, to do that.

This is interesting. Compare what Taibbi says in the following excerpt with what Bill Barr said in his barn burner--as legal-historical-constitutional analysis goes--address to the The Federalist Society.

First Barr:

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. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides. 
Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise. 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?

And now Taibbi:

The Times said Patrick’s policy prescriptions place him “closer to the ideological center than to the left.” In another story about Patrick and Bloomberg, the Times explained that both men “believe there is room in the race for a more dynamic candidate who is closer to the political middle than Mr. Biden’s two most prominent challengers, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders.” 
People like Bloomberg and Patrick seem to believe in the existence of a massive electoral “middle” that wants 15-point plans and meritocratic slogans instead of action. As befits brilliant political strategists, they also seem hyper-concerned about the feelings of the country’s least numerous demographic, the extremely rich. A consistent theme is fear (often described in papers like the Times as “concern”) that the rhetoric of Warren and Sanders might unduly upset wealthy folk. 
“I don’t think that wealth is the problem. I think greed is the problem,” Patrick told CBS This Morning. He added that “taxes should go up on the most prosperous and the most fortunate,” but “not as a penalty.” 
What does that mean? Should we impose higher taxes on the rich but include a note from the IRS saying, “It’s not because we don’t love you”? 
Along with an alarmingly high number of press figures, politicians like Patrick seem to be trapped in an “electability” concept that hasn’t made sense since the Reagan-Bush years. Outside of a few spots on the Upper East Side and in Georgetown and L.A., the “center” has been gone a long time. 
From Donald Trump to Sanders to Warren, the politicians attracting the biggest and most enthusiastic responses in recent years have run on furious, throw-the-bums-out themes, for the logical reason that bums by now clearly need throwing out. 
America’s political establishment has created vast inequities not only in the economy, but in criminal justice (where street crime is heavily punished, but white collar crime is not), war (it’s mostly not the sons and daughters of politicians and CEOs getting killed in overseas conflicts), health care (where much of the population lives in fear that getting sick will trigger bankruptcy), debt forgiveness (Wall Street bailout recipients got to write off losses, but people suffering foreclosures and student loan defaults are ruined), and other arenas. 
You can’t capture the widespread discontent over these issues if you’re running on a message that the donor class doesn’t deserve censure for helping create these messes. It’s worse if you actually worked — as Patrick did — for a company like Ameriquest, a poster child for the practices that caused the 2008 financial crisis: using aggressive and/or predatory tactics to push homeowners into new subprime mortgages or mortgage refis, fueling the disastrous financial bubble.

OK, obviously Barr and Taibbi would differ on policy prescriptions, I think. But--the common thread is the demise of "rule of law" in America. The Dems don't get that. Trump does, and he's living that demise through Impeachment Theater.


  1. Recall, Bernie got millions of votes, running vs. the demise of "rule of law" applied to Wall St.
    If Trump/ Barr, after spanking the D.S., go after Wall St., Ameriquest, and other firms involved in the $henanigans to which Taibbi refers, they may well've built an electoral coalition rivaling FDR's.

  2. Apparently Taibbi didn't notice that the white collar crime he alleges--Wall Street bailout recipients got to write off losses, but people suffering foreclosures and student loan defaults are ruined--are the result of Democratic administrations, though admittedly with bipartisan support.

    Wall Street bailouts occurred under Obama's watch--any associated or alleged crime were incumbent upon his DoJ to investigate and prosecute.

    Fannie and Freddie sub-prime debacle started with Clinton administration housing policies in 1998. Who can forget Rep. Barney Frank lording over fannie & Freddie policy. Clinton-appointee Franklin Raines basically ran Fannie into the ground, all while claiming no risk to the taxpayer.

    Student loans not dischargeable in bankruptcy was thanks to bankruptcy reform bill sponsored by the Senator from MBNA--Joe Biden.

    Probably too impolitic to point out the partisan background details of these issues. It turns out there is no such thing as a free lunch...

  3. "They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides."

    This sentence, along with the paragraph that follows it and backs it up, makes me a greater Bill Barr fan than ever. It's another way of saying that systematically putting politics over civics will destroy self-govt over time, and truer words couldn't be spoken.

    1. Yeah, the question is: Why do they never ask that? And he supplies the answer.