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Attorney General William P. Barr made a bit of news Monday when he said he was "appalled" that Jeffrey Epstein managed to kill himself while in federal custody. As he should have been, although it's also appalling that the conditions at the Manhattan jail where Epstein died are seen as nigh unto torture by civilized countries. But some other words coming out Barr's mouth-hole Monday haven't gotten nearly as much attention. Barr gave a speech to the national convention of the Fraternal Order of Police in New Orleans where he explained some very simple facts about how the Trump administration sees law enforcement: It's all about a war to impose order on evil people who keep thinking they have rights. It was an impressive display of support for Tuff Guy policing, if you're impressed by a bit of casual fascism.

Barr's speech used all the expected cop-loving tropes you'd expect from the Right, repeatedly invoking the "thin blue line" that stands between civilization and anarchy, as if Errol Morris's 1988 film hadn't weighed the phrase down with irony even before Barr's first stint as attorney general under George H.W. Bush. Cops, you see, are brave and fearless and they protect us all. For a certain value of "us all."


To my mind, there is no more noble profession than serving as a police officer. You put your own life and well-being on the line to protect your communities.

Your families spend anxious nights, so we can sleep in peace. You never know what your day may bring — what uncertainty, danger, or threat you might face. But you still get up, put on your uniform and badge, kiss your loved ones, and head out to face whatever risks might come your way.

Barr recalled how all Americans (except for radicals who didn't matter) cheered The Troops when they went off to liberate Kuwait, and held ticker tape parades when they came back victorious. But where are the parades for cops? (Except for every time cops march in a local parade?) Well, there should be parades, because cops are at war, too. Yes, war, endless war:

One reason for this is that law enforcement is fighting a different type of war. We are fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society. While there are battles won and lost each day, there is never a final resolution – a final victory is never in sight.

It takes a very special kind of courage to wage this kind of fight – a special kind of commitment; a special kind of self-sacrifice.

It also takes tanks and as much military gear as you can get your hands on, too! And really canny crooked cops can steal some of the surplus, too. It's a war, after all, so a certain margin for profit is always tolerated. Officer Minderbinder says it's fine, and everyone has a share.

Barr returned to the theme later, because remember, it's war, and the enemy -- those monstrous predators that can never be wiped out -- lurks among us, hiding among the civilians like the VC, so it's best to treat everyone as a suspect. Guess what the nation's top cop learned from the nation's three most recent mass shootings, two of which were motivated by white supremacy and the desire to help Donald Trump eliminate Hispanic invaders? He learned that many Americans are subhuman scum, so be vigilant and support the troops:

The recent atrocities also remind us of a basic truth. Human beings are capable of great good, but also of the basest evil. Even in a healthy society, violence, lawlessness, and predation lie just below the surface. In the final analysis, what stands between chaos and carnage on the one hand, and the civilized and tranquil society we all yearn for, is the thin blue line of law enforcement. You are the ones manning the ramparts – day in, and day out.

How has America come to this sorry pass? Well, you see, we've forgotten to worship George Washington!

The Framers believed that a free society can only exist if the people have the personal virtue and self-restraint to control their own worst passions and appetites.

If people lose the values and moral discipline to control themselves, then government would increasingly have to use external force to keep order, and the community would gradually lose its freedom. This is what James Madison was talking about when he said, "We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves."

Sadly, says Barr, The People, or really, those people, have lost their way, probably because of liberals!

We live in an age now when the institutions we have relied on to inculcate values and self-restraint have been under constant assault for over 50 years. As a result, we see about us increased social pathology: boys growing up without fathers; alienated and angry young men; gangs engaged in the most brutal violence; mass shootings; increasing mental illness and suicide among young people; a drug epidemic inflicting casualties beyond what we would sustain in a major war; growing domestic violence; an increase in sexual assaults and child exploitation.

Worse, many communities, and Barr's sure we know who they are, no longer believe in compliance with lawful commands from the boys in blue, because there's just no respect anymore.

So when a cop has to put down some monstrous 10-foot-tall 12-year-old within two seconds of arriving on the scene, the "officer's every action is dissected, but the suspect's resistance, and the danger it posed, frequently goes without mention." Even when the suspect's resistance was only perceived by the cops, but you should take their word for it -- they're professionals, and also soldiers keeping us safe. Again, for certain values of "us" and "safe."

Fortunately, Barr has a recipe for restoring order: Immediate compliance with police, OR ELSE.

We need to get back to basics. We need public voices, in the media and elsewhere, to underscore the need to "Comply first, and, if warranted, complain later." This will make everyone safe – the police, suspects, and the community at large. And those who resist must be prosecuted for that crime. We must have zero tolerance for resisting police. This will save lives.

There was more, like a pandering attack on "District Attorneys that style themselves as 'social justice' reformers" -- in the cities, where the enemy lurks. And a promise to speed up the death penalty for mass shooters and for cop killers, both of which are the enemy, too. The enemy is everywhere, but Barr assures us our village will be saved, no matter how many times we must burn it to the ground.

Have a nice day, and OBEY.

[Department of Justice via Carl Takei on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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