11/07/2019

In the Trump Foundation Lawsuit, Donald Trump Admitted He Broke the Law

Oh, listen, dear children of America. There was a time, a generation ago now, when the financial conduct of president of the United States was enough to prompt an endless investigation by the Justice Department. You might have heard about how, way back in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about getting blow jobs from a White House intern (Monica Lewinsky, who is ten kinds of awesome nowadays).

Except, see, what started the investigation into Bill Clinton was a hinky land deal that both Bill and Hillary Clinton were involved in before Bill became president. Without getting too much into the weeds of Whitewater, there were allegations of fraud and financial improprieties, none of which had anything to do with Clinton's job as president, but it was enough to stoke the engine of the right-wing rage machine for years.

Except, see, the Clintons were cleared of any wrongdoing on it, by the same independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, who ended up finding the blow job lie. They didn't do the supposedly really bad crimes, so the GOP had to settle for the semen-stained dress.

Today, in the New York State Supreme Court, Justice Saliann Scarpulla agreed to a settlement on a case involving Donald Trump, his three terrible older crotch spawn, and his disgraced charitable foundation. The settlement had the president of the United States admitting to breaking the law and being forced to pay a $2 million penalty. Those laws include "breach of fiduciary duty and waste under New York’s Not-for-Profit Corporation Law" and "failure properly to administer Foundation assets and waste under New York’s Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law."

The decision goes on, "A review of the record, including the factual admissions in the Final
Stipulation, establishes that Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and
that waste occurred to the Foundation." I'm no fancy lawyer,  just a big city blogger, but that seems to me that Trump is admitting he broke the law. A "factual admission" here means that the defendant, Trump, agrees with the court.

Scarpulla gutted Trump's big 2016 show where was going to raise and give a bunch of money to veterans: "Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign." Trump has to pay $2 million that will be distributed to charities like the United Negro College Fund and, in an in-yer-stupid-face to Trump's Nazi supporters, the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

The reason the judge gave for no additional penalties is that "Mr. Trump has stipulated to a number of proactive conditions so that the conduct which engendered this petition should not occur in the future." Yeah, tough guy Trump totally punked out and did what Scarpulla wanted. As New York Attorney General Letitia James, who did want more fines, put it, "No one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States." I suppose we shall see about that in the long run.

So this is where we are: Bill Clinton would have been excoriated had any slight illegality been proven on Whitewater, which was over and done before he even ran for president, but he was innocent. Donald Trump admits, in a court document, that he broke laws that govern charities, laws that were broken in service of him running for president. It's a bit worse than Whitewater.

Donald Trump is guilty of bilking people out of money, lying that it was going to help veterans' organizations and instead using charity to further his campaign. It seems like it ought to be a really big deal.

And somehow that's just supposed to be okay now and it's just another log tossed on the scandal bonfire, ready to burn into ash and blown away, forgotten, like the Trump University lawsuit, in the smoke that engulfs and chokes the whole goddamn country now.

11/05/2019

Impeachment Transcripts Reveal That Republicans Continue to Be Utter Dicks

Yes, there are a whole bunch of fascinating things in the transcripts of witness testimony that have been released by the House joint committee looking into whether or not to impeach President Trump. From the unending obsession with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to the mistreatment of people who gave their entire careers to serving the United States, only to see themselves treated like shit when this orange creep got into office, you can find nugget after nugget of pure impeachable gold.

Something else that comes through loud and clear is just how dickish Republicans are. Remember: these hearings were done behind closed doors in order to investigate the alleged crimes, with the knowledge that there would be a transcript. So Republicans on the committee aren't performing for the cameras. They want to go down in history as vigorous nuzzlers of Donald Trump's balls, and they like to do it from behind so they get a face full of taint while rubbing themselves on his walnut scrotum, getting that scent all over them. 

In the hearing with former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Chair Adam Schiff, a Democrat, obviously, patiently allows Republican Lee Zeldin from New York to question Schiff's authority to even hold a hearing. Schiff dismisses the obvious bullshit and attempts to move on, but Trump's loyal "Boo" buddy, Mark Meadows, jumps in to "point of order" the hell out of the situation for no good reason. Schiff is able to get the deposition under way. During the questioning, Meadows goes out of his dickish way to ask Yovanovitch about everyone who has been mentioned in the conspiracy theory quarters of Fox "news" and in even more devolved places, but he gets nothing. 

Even worse was freshman cockknob Scott Perry, who just decides to give shout-outs to all his right-wing crazies. He asks her if her staff was looking into the social media accounts of people like Sebastian "Discount Bin Bond-Knockoff Villain" Gorka, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Pam fuckin' Gellar. And, as if from the fevered, Cheeto-stained fingers of an incel in a Pepe the Frog "Fuck your feelings" shirt, he asks, "Do you know if you promoted the use of the following search terms intersecting with the above people: 'Yovanovitch,' 'Ukraine ambassador,' 'Ukraine Soros,' or 'Ukraine Biden'?" She did not.

The hearings have just gone like this. Schiff brings it to order, makes an opening statement about the witness, and turns to the Republicans. Some asshole like Jim Jordan gives a bitchy whine of a complaint about the process and accuses Schiff of being evil. Then Schiff tries to get to the interview, which prompts another asshole like Meadows to jump in for a point of order or parliamentary inquiry and then, when recognized by Schiff, goes deeper into his own assholishness. 

Sometimes it gets even stupider, as when toothy douche Michael McCaul of Texas asked to make another opening statement after Jordan during the interview with Ex-State Department Adviser Michael McKinley. McCaul tried to say some bullshit about Schiff being unfair and Schiff bitch-slapped by reminding him that "Unlike Watergate and unlike the Clinton impeachment, there is no
special counsel who has investigated the President's misconduct vis-a-vis Ukraine. We are, therefore, forced to do it."

This pattern continued in the testimony of Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, usually led by Jordan, with special appearances by creepy-ass Devin Nunes and others. 

We're getting a wave of revelations in these transcripts (or, in the case of Sondland, in his supplemental testimony which might as well be titled "Please Don't Take My Hotels Away"). Some of it is surprising in how deep this particular pit of bullshit goes. But one thing that hasn't changed is that Republicans are standing firm to their dickish ways. They're not going to ask reasonable questions and they're going to act outraged that anyone is even doing any questioning.

Motherfuckers cannot be reformed. And thus more mothers get fucked.

10/31/2019

Halloween Horror: We're Fucked When It Comes to Climate Change

Man, I want our children and grandchildren to just fucking destroy us. I want them to look on us as the lowest fucking vermin that ever walked the earth. They should want to launch our remains into space so our poisoned minds can no longer pollute anyone's beliefs. Of course, this is all assuming a future, which, frankly, at this point, seems less and less likely.

While you were worried if Trumpy S. Pumpkins gets impeachified good and quick, several more reports came out detailing just how very fucked the world is because of climate change, and this time it's gonna happen in the lifetimes of most of us. So if your plan was like those of most conservatives, which seemed to be "Fuck it. I'll be dead. Let the kids deal," well, that just got wrecked like a melting glacier.

By 2050, which, according to my awesome math abilities, is just a little over 30 years away, sea levels are now predicted to rise to the point where major cities will be underwater during high tide. You got that? You don't? Ask people in Miami what that's like. But this is worse. We're talking Bangkok, Shanghai, and Mumbai being uninhabitable, and we're talking over 150 million people affected. If you really wanted to stop immigration and refugees, you'd do some goddamn thing to mitigate the effects of climate change because, right now, we're facing a migration crisis the likes of which the world has never seen.

It's Halloween, so...boo?

That not scary enough? How about the destruction of entire ecosystems, huh? Maybe the loss of a quarter of all birds in North America or the plunge in insect populations is a little to big to grasp. So check out the destruction of an emperor penguin colony, in part because the sea ice wasn't as strong anymore and storms wiped it out, giving the penguins no place to, you know, live. That's Antarctica. On the other side, Arctic sea ice is at its lowest point for this date ever.

Off the coast of Northern California, kelp forests are dying because of high marine temperatures, which affects the sea urchins and the starfish which then affects the fish themselves which then affects the seals and, aw, hell, the bald eagle, and, holy shit, that is getting mighty close to the food chain for you and me.

Meanwhile, the constant waves of fires upon fires wash across California. Climate science writer and activist Bill McKibben wonders if California is becoming uninhabitable due to this.  This was something that was predicted by Mike Davis in his stunningly prescient book Ecology of Fear, where he saw Southern California and Los Angeles in particular collapsing under its own reckless land development as it collided with environmental degradation. What seemed absurd in 1998 was prophetic.

Our failure to act, our failure to shut shit down until our leaders act, is a monstrous abandonment of future generations. We're past the point where we can reverse any of this. We are now at the "Can we not make shit worse?" part of the equation, and the resounding answer from our feckless, fossil fuel-owned leaders is "Fuck you. Burn more coal."

We are creating a hell out of earth for the future. If you want to bring this back to politics, we should be voting out and, yeah, impeaching any leader who refuses to act and who shuts their eyes to the reality that is melting and burning all around them.

10/29/2019

Trump Is Obsessed With Adam Schiff's Parody of His Phone Call with Zelensky

One of the things we know about President Crimey McPantsshitter is that he brooks no insults (unless he's in on the joke, a la his Comedy Central roast, which, yes, is a thing the president of the goddamn United States has done). You could make a strong case that one reason he ran for president is because Barack Obama said some mean shit about him at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2011 and he wanted to destroy Obama's legacy for it. We know that Obama had other things on his mind that night, like the operation to get Osama bin Laden. We know that Trump was mightily pissed off at all the jokes at his expense all evening. A rational, real billionaire might be able to brush it off, in a kind of "Laugh all you want, peasants. I'm still rich enough to buy your companies and have you fired" way.

But not Donald Trump. And that leads to another thing we know about him: once he gets something in his tiny brain, he will not let it go. Some call that "marketing genius," the idea that if you repeat a phrase or idea over and over, people will love it, no matter how shitty or dishonest it is (see: "We're gonna build a wall and Mexico will pay for it"). However, it's less marketing than it is a kind of dullard's echolalia, along with an inability to move on, like the endless, endless, truly, madly endless replay of Hillary Clinton's missing emails and her acid-washed, missing server. Or whatever the fuck.

In the realm of Trump's batshittery related to the impeachment hearings, one of the weirdest is Trump's utter obsession with Rep. Adam Schiff's opening statement of the impeachment hearings weeks ago, spurred by Trump's phone call with Ukraine's President Zelensky. Schiff gave a paraphrase of the phone call that he said twice was not a quote. Hell, later in the hearing, he called it "at least in part a parody." Before going into a not-un-Trump-like wannabe mobster tone, Schiff prefaced the summary with, "It reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates." Then he does the paraphrase before saying, "This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine."

Now, maybe "essence" and "sum and character" are words that are too fancy for Trump, but in the hearing, a Republican, Mike Turner, declared that Schiff was "just making it up" and "Because sometimes fiction is better than the actual words or the text. But luckily the American public are smart, and they have the transcript. They’ve read the conversation; they know when someone’s just making it up." Apparently, they're not and they don't.

Why is this important? After all, this took place on September 26, which is like thirty years ago in Trump time.

Well, see, nearly every day, Trump attacks Schiff, and, in most of those, he brings up Schiff's parody of him. Just last night, at almost midnight, Trump tweeted, "The only crimes in the Impeachment Hoax were committed by Shifty Adam Schiff, when he totally made up my phone conversation with the Ukrainian President and read it to Congress."

On October 26, he tweeted, " Even Shifty Schiff got caught cheating when he made up what I said on the call!" On October 20: "When do we depose Shifty Schiff to find out why he fraudulently made up my phone call and read this fiction to Congress and the American People?  I demand his deposition. He is a fraud."

Trump has at various times called on Schiff to be sued for "fraud" or "impeached" (which isn't a thing for members of Congress) or arrested for treason because of the characterization of the goddamn phone call.  Here he is yesterday, just losing his shit over it during one of his screaming Q&A's before getting on Air Force One: "Adam Schiff went up before Congress and he made my words.  He didn’t copy what I said.  He didn’t know them, probably, at the time.  Nobody thought I was going to release the conversation.  I got the approval from Ukraine.  Once I released the conversation, this thing all died.  And that’s what they should be looking.  And Adam Schiff went before Congress, and Adam Schiff, what he did, will never be forgotten.  He made up a conversation that was a phony fabrication.  It was a fraud.  And people shouldn’t be allowed to get away.  They say he has immunity because he’s a member of Congress.  People shouldn’t be allowed to do that.  That’s a criminal act.  What he did is a criminal act."

Or on October 12, at another yelling appearance before a Marine One departure, "Schiff made up a story.  Because when Schiff read what I actually said, he said, “I can’t say this because he did nothing wrong.”  So Schiff went out and he made up a lie.  He made up a — it was a fraudulent story.  You know that...And, frankly, he went out.  He made up a fraudulent story.  He then went before the U.S. Congress and the American people, and he reported a fraudulent story.  Now, Schiff — something should happen to Schiff for that.  He shouldn’t have immunity for that.  Why should Schiff be given immunity when he goes out and he says a story about the President of the United States — what the President said — and it bears no relationship?  In fact, every word was different. And I’ll tell you what: I can’t believe that a congressman could be that dishonest and can have immunity from that."

This is fucking nuts.

When your leader is a madman, if you are one of his loyal servants, you must agree with his madness or risk being banished to the hinterlands. So we've been treated to GOP members of Congress acting all outraged over Schiff for the parody, going so far last week as to attempt to censure him. Here it is from the text of their resolution:

"Whereas, in a September 26, 2019, hearing on the whistleblower complaint, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff purported to relay the content of the phone call to the American people;

"Whereas, instead of quoting directly from the available transcript, Chairman Schiff manufactured a false retelling of the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky;

"Whereas this egregiously false and fabricated retelling had no relationship to the call itself;

"Whereas these actions of Chairman Schiff misled the American people, bring disrepute upon the House of Representatives, and make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties..."

Democrats blocked the vote on the resolution because no shit.

But Republicans in Congress, and the conservative noise machine won't give up on this idea that Schiff committed some grave sin by rephrasing Trump's phone call. And it's because Trump won't give it up. He brought it up in an interview with Hannity right near the time of the censure vote.

By the way, before Trump went nutzoid about it, Tucker Carlson, while deriding and degrading Schiff, acknowledged that the congressman "delivered his own prophetic version of what he believed must have happened between President Trump and the president of Ukraine." See? Tucker knew, and that motherfucker is dumber than a bucket of hair.

Maybe this gets back to the first thing we know about Trump: he can't stand to be insulted. Or, maybe, the insults are part of a larger truth about him. Trump has virtually never been held to account for all the terrible shit he's done in his life. When someone speaks truth to power, they are telling the powerful that they know what they're up to.

When that someone can actually bring Trump to account, it scares the hell out of him. As it should.

10/24/2019

Trump's Lawyer: He's a King

Even in the realm of political and legal norms that the Trump administration is forcibly bending over the desk in the Oval Office and reaming out with George Washington's femur, yesterday was a pretty fucking stunning attempt to lay waste to the foundations of the country. For that was when a judge in New York City asked William S. Consovoy, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, if Trump shot someone on Fifth Avenue, "Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it? Nothing could be done? That’s your position?"

And William S. Consovoy, who is this smug fuck...


...responded, "That is correct. That is correct."

This was in the context of a hearing on Trump's appeal of a lower court ruling that said, in essence, "Turn over your goddamn taxes to the Manhattan D.A., you appalling prick, and don't fucking walk into my court with that 'temporary presidential immunity' noise. I oughta ram my gavel up your ass just for saying that shit." Of course, Trump would rather slam his man tits in a door repeatedly than give up his tax returns for any investigation because they would show, presumably, that he's an even bigger liar and thief, up to his man tits in Russian oligarch cash.

The federal appeals court judge here, Denny Chin, pressed a bit: "Your position is that the immunity is absolute. And so if the president were to commit a crime, no matter how heinous" he couldn't even be investigated, let alone arrested. "That’s the position?" Chin asked.

Consovoy, who looks like this in near-profile...


...answered, "Yes...Of course, Congress retains the impeachment power." 

Hold that thought in your head. Hold it in your head that the president could barbecue a baby and eat it, presumably covered in secret sauce, in front of the baby's parents and then have them hanged, and the president would have to be impeached and removed from office before the cops could gather evidence to put him in jail. Or, more frighteningly realistically, President Trump could have Adam Schiff and any Democrats investigating him killed and, unless Republicans decided to do something about it, he'd get away with it as long as he was president, a position he could stay in illegally unless...

You see the problem here? Once you declare the president is above the law, then what's to prevent the president from getting crazy with defying the law? It's not that far a leap from defying a subpoena to jailing your political enemies, especially when this superpower of immunity is in the hands of a short-sighted shit-ogre like Donald Trump. 

This is what we get when we don't fucking punish people for things like, oh, torture in the early 2000s. When law professor and former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo wrote his 2002 memo saying that the president can order torture if he believes it's in the national interest and there wasn't any pushback (as in arresting people who broke the law on torture, up to and including George W. Bush, who is not your cuddly conservative painter friend, but an actual fucking monster). In 2005, Yoo said that the president could order the torture of a child if he wanted to and Congress just had to deal with it. He was asked, "If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?" And Yoo responded, "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that."

Now, according to Conovoy, who looks exactly like someone who would argue this...


...it doesn't matter why the president thinks he needs to do it. He's immune while in office. Done. 

These fuckers believe Trump is a king. He should be bound by no law. He should only answer to God and GOP donors. How pathetic. 

This is what we've come to in the United States during the reign of this depraved lunatic and the repellent human-shaped farts in the GOP. It's actually news that a leader of the NYPD and the mayor of New York City said that they'd arrest Trump if he shot someone. That should not need saying.

Every goddamn day is another step deeper in this shit pit.

10/22/2019

Note to Republicans on Impeachment Hearings: C'mon. We All Know What Happened

Jesus, Republicans. It's embarrassing. It's really fucking embarrassing now. Every time one of you appears on some goddamned news network or another, opening your mouth holes to diarrhea out some absurd defense of Donald Trump, it's just embarrassing. As it would be if you went on TV and literally shit out of your mouths. At least then you might get some pity, a kind of "Oh, poor thing, he's sick" or "God, don't let that happen to me." But in the figurative case, it's just fucking pathetic.

See, we all know what happened. We all know that Trump was extorting Ukraine to get them to go along with weird-ass conspiracy theories he's had skullfucked into him by a constant feed of Fox "news" and its devolved stepchild, One American News, talk radio depravity, and whatever hell-creature Stephen Miller is. This involved both military aid to Ukraine, as well as a promised meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. We all know that Rudy Giuliani is just a savage ghoul in it for however much he can line his filthy pockets. And, hell, if he can pretend he has power, too, and might be able to stick it to Hillary? That's just a bonus. In other words, one vile, mentally-imbalanced shitheel enabled another vile, mentally-imbalanced shitheel, and, together with all their lickspittles and whores, they sought to undermine the United States. All that we need to find out now is what levels of evil, greed, stupidity, and treachery are involved. And how much Russia needed to push anyone to do this shit.

I mean, c'mon, look at the opening statement by William Taylor, delivered today to the House Intelligence Committee. The whole thing is Trump and Giuliani attempting to push Ukraine to say that it was investigating the DNC server or the oil company Hunter Biden was getting paid by, Burisma, while Taylor and others were desperately trying to get Trump to knock it the fuck off.  Here's what Taylor said on page 7 about the hold on the $400 million in military aid: "My understanding was that the Secretaries of Defense and State, the CIA Director, and the National Security Advisor sought a joint meeting with the President to convince him to release the hold."

You got that? Everyone who knew anything about Ukraine knew it needed the promised funds. But they couldn't get that meeting because Trump was too busy watching TV, tweeting, and holding his rallies of the damned. No wonder Rick Perry was involved. He was almost the only cabinet member who thought this was a good idea.

Then there's the whole side of this that's fucking nuts, that crazy-ass John Bolton was the comparative voice of reason. Bolton didn't want Trump to talk on the phone to Zelensky because he thought it "would be a disaster." At one point in July, Bolton and the regular foreign policy team butted right up against EU Ambassador and Trump taint sniffer Gordon Sondland and his shadow foreign policy team, confusing the shit out of the Ukrainians they were in talks with: "Bolton...wanted to talk about security, energy, and reform...Sondland...wanted to talk about the connection between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations."

How willfully blind do you have to be to think none of this was fucked up? It wasn't about uncovering corruption. There's a shit-ton of corruption involving Ukrainians and other Americans that Trump or anyone never fucking mentioned. And the DNC server? What the hell? What the hell? How is this even a thing anymore?

 On July 20, Sondland told Taylor that "he had recommended that Zelensky use the phrase 'I will leave no stone unturned' with regard to the 'investigations'" when Zelensky spoke to Trump. You know who else uses that phrase? Fucking Trump. And he had done so talking about the citizenship question on the census just nine days earlier in a pissy little appearance after the Supreme Court blocked it. So Sondland knows that Trump's a goddamn child who needs to be made to feel smart and special.

The mania with which Trump demanded Zelensky knuckle under to his lunatic conspiracy theories was brazen. Sondland told Taylor that Trump wanted Zelensky "'in a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations." It got so ludicrous that Zelensky asked a pair of visiting U.S. senators if we were still standing by Ukraine. They told him that he "should not jeopardize that bipartisan support [for Ukraine] by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics." The poor motherfucker went from making fart jokes on Ukrainian variety shows to having to deal with our lunatic leader.

And the most utterly, most reprehenisble part of this? The idea that if they say there was "no quid pro quo," if Republicans repeat "no quid pro quo" over and over, the idiot hordes will believe there was no quid pro quo when the quid pro quo is all there fucking is.

Goddamn, GOP.  We all know what went on. Aren't you tired of looking like asses and fools? Or has that just been your identity for so long that you figure why bother changing?

(Note: The attempt to smear Bill Taylor as a "radical bureaucrat," as the White House called him, is beyond laughable. The man worked for Reagan and both Bushes, as well as for Democrats. Step the fuck off on this "radical" and "far-left" bullshit.)

10/18/2019

Christ on a Crackpot: A Pair of Dangerous Speeches from the Attorney General and Secretary of State

Last Friday, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr were giving speeches before different groups in the middle of the country. Pompeo was speaking in Nashville to the American Association of Christian Counselors. Barr was speaking in South Bend, Indiana, at the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. Yet both approached their subjects from a similar perspective: that of the fundamentalist Christian. Separately, Barr's talk is far, far more chilling than Pompeo's. Taken togther, though, they present a vision of government as by design and, to their minds, necessity filtered through a strict, Christian interpretation of the Bible interpolated onto the secular world. The separation of church and state is non-existent in this world; in fact, a merging of Christian doctrine is seen as imperative to the continued existence of the nation and the world.

In one day, Pompeo and Barr played good cop/bad cop on transforming the United States into a theocracy.

Let's put aside for a moment the obvious flaw in this line of thinking: Yes, Donald Trump is the absolute antithesis of pretty much everything that hardcore Christians are supposed to support. He's pretty much a walking advertisement for all Seven Deadly Sins, with Envy, Pride, Wrath, Greed, and Sloth on ready display, and he brags about his Lust and Gluttony. Let's put this aside because, obviously, ultra-Christians have decided that Trump is their imperfect vessel in order to achieve their social and political goals. 

(Brief definition here: Don't ever mistake the word "Christian" to mean "one who follows the teachings of the biblical Christ." Some who call themselves "Christian" do, but mostly it's just a designation that means "people who hate gays and abortion and liberals and modernity and want to justify it by contorting the Bible. Also, they have a weird obsession with Jesus coming back. And guns. Also, racist.")

Pompeo's speech was certainly less offensive, although the title, "Being a Christian Leader," would indicate otherwise. There was a great deal of good ol' fashioned evangelizing, about how he learned to "walk with Christ" and how he and his "wonderful, Christian wife" always "had Christ at the center of our lives." He quoted the book of James: "Everyone should be quick to listen, and slow to speak." Of course, there's more to that quote. The full thing, which is James 1:19-20, goes "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."

Of course, Pompeo couldn't state that last part because we have seen him get angry or heard about it multiple times. And, again, his boss sure as hell is just a giant orange anger machine. (He also quoted Colossians, something about salt in your speech, but Chapter 4, which it's from, starts, "Masters, supply your slaves with what is right and fair." Does no one ever look up context for these quotes?)

Most of Pompeo's speech was pretty anodyne. Hell, he even included a nod to people who "choose no faith if they so choose." But the frame of it was clear: in order to be this gracious, religious freedom loving servant of God and government, you gotta get your Christ on. 

However, William Barr was having none of the slightly conciliatory language that Pompeo used. In a speech that was honestly stunning, Barr embraced an ultra-conservative, evangelical Christian belief in the law while condemning those who would dare to believe that government should be part of the secular world. Here's how he introduced his argument: "If you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny. On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles." 

Then he explained that "Judeo-Christian moral standards...are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society." And we get to the crux of the argument: Over the last 50 years (everything dates back to 1969, man, groovy) "we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square." Then he gave the usual litany of moral failings, like the "illegitimacy rate," drug use, depression, suicide, and mental illness. That's right. The Attorney General of the United States is blaming failure to get churchy for your depression. 

Actually, the problem for Barr is "militant secularists" who "have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values." (Seriously, I heard this kind of stuff from Seventh-Day Adventist preachers and snake handlers back in the 1980s and 1990s.)

Then Barr went after the laws themselves, and that's where this becomes even more dangerous of a speech. The legalizations of abortion and euthanasia are examples of one kind of secularization of the country. But, even more insidious, "we have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith. The problem is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith."

It's always about that damned baker who didn't want to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. That's like the greatest atrocity in the last 50 years for fundamentalist Christians. Just bake the cake. Just do the flowers. 

You might ask, "But did Barr happen to actually mention the gays?" Oh, yes, he certainly did. See, teaching that LGBT people aren't sinful diseased monsters who want to rape your children "is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching." Of course, this led into a part of the speech about how religious schools should be allowed to freely get government money because of course it did. It was Notre Dame. Obviously, he was going there. 

It was a pretty hysterical speech that called to mind Robert Bork, Pat Buchanan, and Anita Bryant. Google them. 

Whether mildly or brutally, these Trump administration officials are casting government in terms that could only be described as "an establishment of religion," which is specifically prohibited by that Constitution they declare is so awesome. 

And if you think I'm being over the top here, let me leave you with this: In two speeches that specifically talked about religious freedom, the word "Muslim" was only used once, by Pompeo, describing the Uighur Muslims being tortured by the Chinese government as an example of religious oppression. Then he immediately jumped from millions of Uighurs to individual Christians. The only other time Islam was mentioned was by Pompeo when he twice called Iran the "Islamic Republican of Iran," as in "Christian pastors today are being unlawfully arrested, beaten, detained inside the Islamic Republic of Iran." Hmm. Wonder what that was supposed to indicate.

And, other than "Judeo," as in "Judeo-Christian" in Barr's speech, there wasn't a single mention of Jews. Or Buddhists or Hindus or any other faith. Nor did the idea come up that some of those who support teaching about LGBT people may just be Christian.

So we're pretty damn clear about whose religious freedom matters.