HCR Connects The Dots

One of Heather Cox Richardson’s recent Letters clarified–in a way I’d not seen elsewhere–the stakes of our upcoming election. She began by reporting on a recent interview in which Bill Barr, who headed the Department of Justice under Trump, acknowledged Trump’s volatility and unstable behavior, but then indicated his intent to vote for him.

When the interviewer asked him why he planned to vote for someone he knew had tried to subvert the peaceful transfer of power–someone incapable of achieving his own policies, who lies repeatedly, and faces multiple criminal charges–Barr responded, “I think the real threat to democracy is the progressive movement and the Biden administration.”

Just wow.

Later, Richardson shared a speech Barr had delivered that illuminates that otherwise incomprehensible response. The speech was a defense of the so-called “unitary executive” theory (a “president as king” theory, the origin of which has been attributed to Samuel Alito.)

In 2019, Barr explained to an audience at the University of Notre Dame the ideology behind the strong executive and weakened representation. Rejecting the clear words of the Constitution’s framers, Barr said that the U.S. was never meant to be a secular democracy. When the nation’s founders had spoken so extensively about self-government, he said, they had not meant the right to elect representatives of their own choosing. Instead, he said, the founders meant the ability of individuals to “restrain and govern themselves.” And, because people are willful, the only way to achieve self-government is through religion.

Those who believe the United States is a secular country, he said, are destroying the nation. It was imperative, he said, to reject those values and embrace religion as the basis for American government.

The idea that the United States must become a Christian nation has apparently led Barr to accept the idea that a man who has called for the execution of those he sees as enemies should be president, apparently because he is expected to usher in an authoritarian Christian state, in preference to a man who is using the power of the government to help ordinary Americans.

That is the unbridgeable gulf we face. The over-riding question Americans will face in November is whether the United States will continue to be the secular democratic republic bequeathed to us by the nation’s founders, or a Christian Nationalist theocracy.

As Richardson noted, a number of pundits have shared a recent, blistering diatribe by George Stephanopolis, focusing on the numerous other differences between the upcoming election and previous contests.

“Until now,” he said in the show’s opener on Sunday, “[n]o American president had ever faced a criminal trial. No American president had ever faced a federal indictment for retaining and concealing classified documents. No American president had ever faced a federal indictment or a state indictment for trying to overturn an election, or been named an unindicted co-conspirator in two other states for the same crime. No American president ever faced hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments for business fraud, defamation, and sexual abuse….

“The scale of the abnormality is so staggering, that it can actually become numbing. It’s all too easy to fall into reflexive habits, to treat this as a normal campaign, where both sides embrace the rule of law, where both sides are dedicated to a debate based on facts and the peaceful transfer of power. But, that is not what’s happening this election year. Those bedrock tenets of our democracy are being tested in a way we haven’t seen since the Civil War. It’s a test for the candidates, for those of us in the media, and for all of us as citizens.”

Stephanopolis’ passionate summation was absolutely correct–but it was also incomplete. What he neglected to add was that those who are prepared to ignore all of it–prepared to cast a ballot for this wretched joke of a man– are motivated by an underlying philosophy utterly incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Christian Nationalism–not to be confused with genuine Christianity–often cloaked in legal jargon about a “unitary executive” and MAGA slogans about putting America First–is at the root of Trump support. MAGA Republicans are all about remaking America into their version of a “Christian Nation,” and we are just now beginning to see that movement for the racist, misogynist, utterly regressive effort it is.

This is no time to debate the merits of this or that policy. We can argue policy later. In November, we need to prevent MAGA Christian Nationalists from turning America into the country of Bob Barr’s wet dreams.


  1. Wow, lol!
    Not that this is a revelation, but, that individuals seem to believe that it is.

    This is the exact course that the Germans took in the last century. They played with it for a while, but in the end, the allure towards that particular shiny object was way too difficult to ignore.

    Yesterday, I mentioned that history is the ultimate truth teller. Because we can see cause and effect, we can see the positive and negative from decisions made, and why those decisions were made. The horrendous misery that certain pathways can bring, The historical evidence that we have of this certainty, and yet, you have supposed intellectuals screaming “Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead!”

    It always goes back to having authority, the ultimate authority, decisions made, it doesn’t matter the impact, just that they are made! No paralytic debates stalling decisions, no political infighting, just spin the cylinder and put the gun to your head and pull the trigger and see if that bullet is the one needed or another spin is in the offing.

    Religion really has nothing to do with it, it’s more of a rallying cry, something meant to unite those of a specific mindset. It has nothing to do with God, or, justice, it has a lot to do with power and authority, ultimate dictatorial fascistic authority.

    It’s called The Hive mind. Those workers, that turn into soldiers when necessary, mindlessly protect the hierarchy, which is the queen. These worker soldier bees, as long as they are fed What the queen deems necessary, will sacrifice themselves without hesitation. It doesn’t matter the amount of attrition, just save the queen. Humanity is supposed to be much more intellectual than a hive of insects, but in reality, The upper echelon, the oligarchs as Todd would say, realize and have identified this as the quickest way to complete authoritarian control.

    They deem it much more sustainable, and more easily controlled. But it does have limitations, hence the French revolution as one example, the Bolshevik revolution as another example, and the Boxer revolution has another example. Unbounded misery brings about unbounded slaughter and change, which replaces the former misery with with more incomprehensible misery. Because humanity will never learn from its own mistakes. Doomed to make them addinfinitum until there literally will be nothing left.

    Let’s face it, this experiment has already failed. Just as previous experiments throughout history have failed. You cannot receive perfection from imperfection. It just doesn’t work that way.

  2. How do we get information to those who are living what is referred to by Nichole Wallace as earth 2. A short trip to FAUX NEWS shows that facts are no longer things we can agree on. They will admit that the economy is doing very well, but they then turn to an interview with a fan who tells them that it might be good for the elites, but not for him. Those darned elites, whoever they are, ruin everything, don’t they?

  3. Bill Barr and Donny ordered the killing of a Washington man accused of shooting a “Patriot” at a local rally. It was self-defense, but they publicly executed the man using the FBI and DHS staff. The guy was unarmed and gunned down in the streets because he was a member of ANTIFA. Both Trump and Barr bragged about their murder in interviews.

    As John said, there is nothing “religious” about this movement. IMHO, they use the word “Christian” to get self-proclaimed Christian voters. Period.

    If we were conceived as a “Christian nation,” we’ve failed at that miserably. We are the most violent country on the planet. We are accomplices in genocide and subverted at least 50 different governments across the globe. The Chinese call us the largest warmongering country in the world and the evidence supports it.

    Again, as John said, if the Founders set us up as a democratic Constitutional republic, we’ve failed at that too. We were an oligarchy at inception, and an oligarchy when Einstein acknowledged it in the 40s, and we’re even worse today.

    Washington politicians don’t belong to the people. These hacks don’t serve the people. I follow a large sampling of them on X and they are habitual liars. All of them, with few exceptions.

    Our comeuppance is arriving from all angles. We are trying desperately to cling to an outdated rules-based order where the criminal US sets the rules because we are economically and militarily powerful. Might makes right. We ignore international law as a rule. Every time the public is asked if we are heading in the right direction, regardless of what party rules in Washington, the answer is a resounding NO. Trust in the media has made it to the single digits because we know they are lying to us.

    We are a “Christian Nation” without any values or principles. Not sure what that makes us but we’ve failed miserably. The only solution I see is mass protest in the streets but our oligarchy would turn on us in a second. Look how they are treating the college protesters who display a moral conscience. We call them terrorists!

  4. “The buttoned-down, establishment-seeming Barr is actually neck-deep in a web of extremist conservative Catholic institutions, and he has been for the last three decades.” This quote comes from “The Nation,” and one of the groups is Opus Dei. So, his interest, belief in a unitary president is just another version of his religious, may I add dangerous, beliefs. He was, and may still be, on the board of Opus Dei.
    Thus, his point of view on politics, and the constitution, is simply not to be trusted.

  5. The Seven Mountains Mandate. Project 2025. Barr’s speech. Christian Nationalism. Wokism.

    Apparently the extreme right wing feels safe to come out of the closet about ending the freedom of our Constitutional liberal democratic Republic.

    We have had 250 years of unity under the belief of an idea, freedom because of equality under the law. It could all be lost to the power of theocracy like what failed the Middle East due to Islam.

  6. Todd, true Dat👍

    If one would take a glance at the wording, “separation between church and state,” you would think that would mean the founders absolutely wanted to keep religion out of government.

    In reality, those founders did not practice that separation themselves. Their Protestant roots always got in the way. It did work though, on keeping that hive mentality focused on protestantism, even though much of it wasn’t practiced. It did keep those who claimed to be believers cloistered together in that particular fold. Power and control were retained.

    Bumps in the road have occurred along the way of course. Other religions became more prominent, Islam expanded, so did Judaism, other Christian sect’s with different bents on dogma, like, Catholicism. With the portion of power that the Protestants or concerned about losing, they became more fanatical. More controlling, more dictatorial in a supposed secular or secularistic society and its government.

    True intentions and meanings are always revealed when the going starts to get a little more tenuous. The claws come out! When you think about it, many in this human society looked for a freedom that was actually mythical. They came or attempted to come by the boatload! When the ships carrying Jews out of Europe in the ’30s, made it to the United States, they were turned around and sent back. They weren’t the right type that was wanted En Mass here.

    The byproduct of the slave trade brought this country a whole bunch of Abrahamists, or Muslims. Something that wasn’t exactly hoped for.

    Also, the theft of millions upon millions of acres from the native population in this country. Constantly reversing treaties or ignoring treaties and moving people off of land given to them by the government as reservations when valuable resources were found. After all, at that time, Protestant religions considered the natives in this country less than human. Just as they considered those brought here for slavery and forced labor. And we can include the Chinese in that group. They were basically persona non grata!

    A rat can stand up to a coyote if it’s backed into a corner. I watched a mother rat keep our German Shepherd at bay for hours, until, The inevitable happened. The rats are cornered, and they are flailing. Instead of attempting to use compassion and empathy, and, as Christ said to “love your neighbor,” (fellow man)’ that seems to be a bridge too far.

    The founders didn’t want to fight for their slice, they wanted to control religion from the back room full of smoke and mirrors. Tocqueville saw American Romanticism for what it was, a dishonest and hypocritical delusion embraced by its creators. Christianity without the Christ, impossible you say? No more than Ford motor company without Henry! It’s just another thing, one of many!

  7. Yes. Bill Barr missed those classes on our founding and the emergence of the Constitution. This quote confirms what Mitch D. just posted: “And, because people are willful, the only way to achieve self-government is through religion.”

    Yeah, Bill … how did that work out during the Inquisition, or why so many fled the Church of England/Monarchy to go camping with the natives?

    For once, mostly, Todd gets it right. The emergence of American capitalism and its bastard stepchild, slavery, led to much of the discord we see today – and I don’t mean pure economics; it’s about power. Power over others – just like the surplus grain distributors of thousands of years ago.

    Finally, Bill Barr is an over-inflated intellectual dwarf with a large vocabulary. But, hey! “I only pick the best people.”

  8. The people who lapped up all the right-wing lies about Hillary Clinton are now lapping up the right-wing lies about Joe Biden. It was pizza gate, now it’s genocide Joe. The people who got their news from Fox and called everything else fake are now getting their news from X and calling everything else censored or corrupted by oligarchs. Or maybe the latter is a different set of people making the same mistake, i.e., letting their emotions overwhelm their ability for rational thought
    and letting their self righteous outrage disconnect them from reality.
    We still operate under the rule of law, even when it is imperfectly administered by imperfect people. If we want to keep it, we have the opportunity to do so in November. And between now and then we have the opportunity to work toward that end.

  9. I am acquainted with the unitary executive theory and that is what it is, a theory. Barr and other court-choosers are telling us that the Founders did not really mean what they said, as though they (Barr and others) were present at such conversations in the runup to adoption of the Constitution. I choose to believe that they did mean what they said since their product clearly calls for separation of church and state.

    What Mitch D wrote.

  10. Technically, the separation of church and state does not appear in the Constitution per se, but rather in the First Amendment thereto (the Bill of Rights), perhaps showing up in the very First Amendment because the Founders wanted to make sure that the freedoms listed there enjoyed precedence in the order of things; perhaps not. I don’t know. Like Bill Barr, I wasn’t there and need research help from The Federalist Papers, old libraries and case law in order to solidify my suspicions of favoritism in the order of the then-proposed Amendments. I can report, however, that I have seen nothing whatsoever in the historical record left by the Founders appertaining to unitary executive theory.

  11. I recall my blood boiling back in 2019 when Barr’s speech to Notre Dame law students hit the news. Yes – his speech was to their law students! The nicest thing I can say about Bill Barr is that he is despicable.

    Every IN republican candidate is claiming to be a strong trump supporter, so I am hoping that will turn away the intelligent republican voters.

  12. I still believe we are screwed either way in November. If Donny wins, we’re screwed as we all know and recognize. If Joe wins, Donny’s gun-toting zealots will begin a real civil war. The state GOPers and the MAGA wing of Congress will egg them on. Everyone laughs when I say this and says “Who are they going to shoot?” My answer is anyone they want to because they have the guns and “God” on their side. And there are plenty of police in the MAGA crowd (as we can witness in the brutality by police against campus demonstrators) who will join the fray. I have a bumper sticker with “Biden/Harris” on it and I get the middle finger from men in large trucks gunning their engines as they pass me. I live in the belly of the beast – SC. So get ready, people, we are not immune to a violent take over of our government. And, I soooo hope I am wrong.

  13. E.G. On April 16, Kari Lake, the extremist, leading Republican Senate candidate from Arizona, twisted Scripture at a recent campaign rally to encourage her supporters to arm themselves ahead of the election. Lake told the crowd, “We are going to put on the armor of God. And maybe strap on a Glock [handgun] on the side of us just in case.” Lake accused Democrats of having a “demonic agenda” — while she aggressively undermined our electoral system, promoted conspiracy theories, and propped up Donald Trump.

    I rest my case.

  14. We have to vote straight “Blue” no matter what while we still can. I am afraid that even that isn’t going to save our once great nation in which I was born. However, I have found out it hasn’t always been great if you are not born “white”. Education is so important and it needs to begin with toddlers.

  15. This is the expression of pre-Enlightenment illiberalism vs. Enlightenment liberalism. The Church, founded by an Emperor, was always simply part of the power structure.

    What we face today is the imposition of Catholic Natural Law in conjunction with near-dictatorial power. As usual, those who sense the danger from this looming power, those with the greatest wealth, will line up behind it, trailed by those who wish to use the chaos to make their own fortunes.

    It’s never really about religion. Religion is how you keep the dumbs in line, how you convince peasants to behave themselves. The Catholic Church, however, is 100% complicit in this power grab, as demonstrated by Barr, Leo, American bishops, Notre Dame, and others.

    They have always been appalled by human freedom, they are declaring themselves the enemy of democratic government, and they will destroy it if they can.

  16. It seems since the supreme Court has shown deference for tfg with decision to keep him on Colorado state ballot and give him some formative time in delaying the immunity question, wind has been put in the sails of unitary executive theorists. Bill Barr after having criticized tfg publicly regarding 1/6 and the lies of the stolen election, now is publicly supporting him. Barr’s fear that tfg might regain official power is showing.
    I’ve heard a theory that tfg might not be who the RNC nominates for Potus this summer at their convention in Chicago? Maga Party’s surprise switcheroo nominating a younger more viable candidate without the baggage hoping to win back most of Republican party and moderates. The Maga VP hopefuls are chomping at the bit to be in that position.
    I’m thankful for Americans like Richardson who are riveting in tying the facts and events together in such a clear way. Sheila’s like that too!

  17. Lester, Lol. Time will tell. I usually work to stay with just the facts, but during war have to be prepared for anything.

  18. Lester and Rose,
    It’s absolutely 5:00 somewhere, even if the clock is wrong, lol!

  19. Not looking good folks:
    “Former President Donald Trump surged to a dead heat with President Joe Biden among suburban women, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found in May, reversing another key demographic that previously favored Biden.”

Comments are closed.