Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to email@example.com; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
You can go to various outlets like Talking Points Memo, Lawfare and Just Security (and ACS Blog) to get a sense of the Attorney General Barr testimony yesterday. Dahlia Lithwick, who I at times don't like, also had another good piece per a recent series of them. Overall, there was some value to the process of him publicly answering questions, putting things on the record and having the Democrats in particular put their views in front of the American public. There is some grandstanding here but such is politics. Also, some of the senators in particular are fairly good questioners.
My general sentiment brought to mind the Laura Penny "b.s" definition -- a basic disrespect for the truth. It is a step beyond lying. See also, Sen. Lindsey Graham who afterwards said "it's over" when asked if Mueller would be called to testify. Good thing we have the House Democrats. But, Nancy Pelosi, their leader and third in line to the presidency, did say Barr "lied" to Congress, a crime. [ETA: Perhaps, it is not a crime. Realistically, at least, Barr is not likely to be prosecuted. The piece reaffirms my "b.s." sentiment. Plus, impeachment and appeals for him to resign go past crimes. My basic concerns hold.]
Let's see how that goes. Suffice to say more being "concerned" isn't enough for me. Even if, per my addendum, he did not break a criminal law, he is violating a basic rule of appropriate behavior here. Clear law and explicit constitutional barriers are not the only concern. We saw this with blocking Merrick Garland from even having a hearing. Barr refused to testify there when staff attorneys were going to be involved in the questioning. Republicans chose to have a surrogate do some of the questioning in the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing and an official party counsel doing questioning would be ideal.
Republicans have in general gone full Trump, but here and there, they have done more than being concerned at times. One thing they did was send a message that troll candidates to the Federal Reserve Board was not a good idea. This, along with their own problems, led to Herman Cain and Stephen Moore to eventually withdraw their nominations. The odd judicial nominee (the black Republican from South Carolina found a couple at least too racially problematic) and executive official (e.g., the food king guy dropped out but the eventual Secretary of Labor [Acosta] has issues too) was found wanting. Nonetheless, we are not talking much of a check.
The brief that agrees with an out there (even for people who supported past bogus related litigation) district court ruling that would declare ACA as a whole unconstitutional dropped yesterday. A less reported on decision was not to defend a federal law against FGM, a move that is at least somewhat reasonable. Still, not defending a federal statute is a weighty move and it is best if possible that the matter gets judicial review. So, the House of Representatives move to intervene (which should have some bipartisan support though who knows) seems like a good idea.
Meanwhile, today is the National Day of Prayer, which is pursuant to congressional legislation (joint resolution). Thus, the target of any concern ala Jefferson about such a thing is shared. The link there provides a means to read the current proclamation. There is a condemnation of hate and disruption of worship, including at places of worship, which is tragically not merely theoretical these days. This and a general respect for religious liberty is fine enough though Obama was careful to note those who do not believe in God. As recently noted, "prayer" is a broad thing.
Our Nation acknowledges that religious liberty is a natural right,
given to us by our Creator, not a courtesy that government extends to
us. The First Amendment recognizes the freedom of religion and
safeguards this right against government infringement. The United
States’ steadfast commitment to upholding religious freedom has ensured
that people of different faiths can pray together and live in peace as
fellow American citizens. We have no tolerance for those who disrupt
this peace, and we condemn all hate and violence, particularly in our
places of worship.
The specific law speaks of a "national day of prayer" and that's it. This need not, though many who voted for it might have thought so, include references to "our Creator" or "God’s guidance and continued protection" or "dependence on God's love" and so forth. Over the years, I have voiced my opposition to a day set out to honor a sectarian religious practice. But, this sort of thing underlines that there can be an added problem in application. I also caught one more thing on close reading:
I invite the citizens of our Nation to pray, in accordance with their
own faiths and consciences, in thanksgiving for the freedoms and
blessings we have received, and for God’s guidance and continued
protection as we meet the challenges before us.
So, non-citizens are SOL, or what? Yes, I see the "in accordance" language, which is mildly appreciated. But, really.