Bill Barr’s Tactical Boredom

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S1: The following program may contain explicit language and.

S2: It’s Tuesday, July 28th, twenty twenty from Slate’s The Gist, I’m Mike Pesca.

S3: And now going to talk about lack of leadership, planning and accountability at the highest level of a vital national institution. Pandemic response, which has been wholly inadequate, bordering on negligent. It was exposed. There is no accountability and no real communication as to why. OK, it’s baseball. So you may check out a little I talked about baseball yesterday. Am I still going on about baseball? I am. And yeah, baseball is a form of entertainment, a distraction, not a matter of life and death, except that it is. And what the commissioner of baseball is doing in addressing an outbreak among one team is unconscionable and in ways that matter for more than baseball. So the facts are this. As of this recording, the Miami Marlins have had a reported 19 positive covid cases among their players and coaches. Before the baseball season started, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked by Dan Patrick what could possibly cause a shutdown.

S4: If we have a team or two that’s really decimated for with the number of people who have the virus and can’t play for any significant period of time, you can have a real impact on the competition. We have to think very, very hard about what we’re doing.

S3: Well, decimate means eliminate by a tenth and the Marlins are way past that. But now that a Major League Baseball team has become a full blown hot spot, a sort of traveling Smithfield meat plant, what will the commissioner do here? He was on his one interview on the MLB Network, which the MLB owns.

S5: We talked about the situation. I think most of the owners realize that we built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season, that the protocols were built in order to allow us to continue to play through those positives. And I think there was support for the notion that we believe that the protocols are adequate to keep our players say you went on to say protocol some more. I don’t put this in the nightmare category. I mean, obviously, we don’t want any player to get exposed. It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play. That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players and we think we can keep people safe and continue to play, you know, as protocols.

S3: The CDC does. And they say if you come into contact for more than 15 minutes with an infected person, you should quarantine for 14 days. I’ve done a lot of research into it. 14 would catch ninety nine point seven percent of Corona cases. If you want to go just 10, you’ll probably be safe ninety percent of the time. But you know what? Baseball did not the quarantine 14, not even my very reasonable little little risky ten day plan. No, they authorized the Marlins to play tomorrow. Now, within the last few hours of this recording, they have backtracked on that insane plan. But do you want to know why it was because the Washington Nationals, which was the team that was set to fly to Miami to play the sports version of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, said, no thanks, we’re out. And just as the Marlins themselves, via a team vote, decided to play on Sunday, even though a number of their players were infected, Major League Baseball busy pine tarring their bats full of protocol, waited for a different team to set the sports policy. Blessedly, this policy was the first non baffling one in some time. So baseball is dumb. The owners are greedy, the Marlins are a shambles. What’s it mean for you and me? Well, we do take our cues from sports. The closest thing that we have to when the lockdown started was dictated by the NBA when they stopped playing. When regular people look around for cues, they look to their political leaders and finding inadequate guidance there, they turn to cultural forces. So entertainment. But most entertainment is planned beforehand and presented as a work of fiction. The late night shows are different and then broadcasting from home, that is one signal. But pro sports and the response of pro sports is another big, big signal. If baseball had handled this properly, which sorry, would it necessitated the withdrawal of those legendary Miami Marlins from baseball activity for ten days? Well, then maybe a lot of school districts would get wise to, but baseball didn’t. And now all these schoolchildren will not have the benefit of having someone in leadership say, well, maybe we should rethink this. The national pastime badly mangled their own response, but it also indirectly affects millions of people who didn’t even know or care that there was a team named after a game. Fish whose claim to fame, by the way, is trying to lose on purpose most years on the show today, Bill Barr appears before the. House of Representatives, not much has learned some blows were landed, but first, Lawrence Hunter is a veteran police captain of the city of Waterbury, Connecticut. He has trained officers under his command and he now hosts a podcast where he discusses issues of law enforcement, justice, race and activism. Captain Hunter.

S1: Up next, the town of Waterbury, Connecticut, has a little over hundred thousand residents and a police force of 350, which is to say it’s about in terms of police force, a tenth the size of Minneapolis, one percent of the size of the NYPD. But someone who served on that police force for twenty four years, Lawrence Hunter, Captain Lawrence Hunter, can provide an excellent bit of analysis and insight, because when you’re on a city police force that’s that small, you can really know everything that’s going on. You could have been exposed to so many aspects of policing. And this amount of information comes to bear. In Captain Hunter’s podcast, which I’ve been listening to, it’s really excellent. He talks matters of policing. He talks about aspects of just being a black man in America. He talks about all communities, the black community. It’s a very good lesson that I stumbled upon and I’m pleased to bring him here. Hello, Captain Lawrence Hunter. Hello.

S6: Thank you so much for having me. Those are high praise. Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much.

S1: It’s been a really interesting lesson and it’s been interesting to listen to you grapple with what’s happened since the death of George Floyd. And I wanted to ask, did you always think after Ferguson, after all the intervening examples of police violence that were getting more attention, Eric Garner, were you of the opinion that this would one day have to come to a head in something like the form that we’re seeing now? Did you think that this was inevitable?

S6: That’s a really good question. I don’t know if I thought it was an inevitable. I certainly thought that something has to give and something has to break. I mean, maybe I kind of took the Trump in type of mindset that these things was just kind of fade away and eventually police would just get their act together. I did not see this type of mass protests coming along, although there have been many voices crying in the wilderness before, many former police officers who said we need to change.

S1: I do not think that collectively they would change on their own. What do you think the most important forms of change that are needed are?

S6: A grappling with history. And I think that that is change that not only pertains to law enforcement, but society at large. And what we have seen with these particular protests is black people, white people, Hispanic people, Asian people all across America and yet the globe wrestling with this idea of racism. And so that is one of the most fundamental things that has to change.

S7: When I was in the police academy, we talked about the Robert Peel principles and how Robert Peel was one of the founders of the London Police Department. It wasn’t until I graduated from the police academy, became a supervisor that I said to myself, you know what?

S6: What is happening? Why is why is all this confrontation going on?

S7: Why is it when I as a black man, tell people I’m a police officer, either I get looks of high praise or I get incredulous looks as to how can you do that type of job? And so it was when I started reading more that I found out that police departments are outgrowths and the forerunners were slave catching patrols. And so when I start to wrestle with this, it really became a problem. So we in this country, in the United States, have not dealt with race. And the people who have been tasked with keeping other citizens in their place to keep those black people in place and other minority in place was the police department.

S6: So we need a reckoning as to race in this country. That is the first and most fundamental change that needs to happen in police departments.

S1: Yeah. And what are your recent podcast? I heard you and a guest talking about how a lot of these kids really are not required to go to college, come to the academy and they are out on the street policing a district. And in many cases, they literally have never heard of the concept of, say, redlining and maybe some basic education in terms of America’s racial history would actually help them in community relations and policing.

S6: Yeah, absolutely. I was an instructor. I taught implicit bias. I taught human behavior and whatever I taught those particular classes, I stressed that exact point.

S7: They don’t understand redlining. They don’t understand the Tulsa bombing that happened with the government’s approval. They don’t understand what happened in North Carolina when the city officials were overthrown and how ghettos were created. So if you don’t understand these types of things and the people aren’t equipped with that knowledge, then what you’re going to have is disastrous problems.

S1: And when you look at a lot of the flashpoints and if you look at a lot of the killings, I don’t know how much implicit bias Persay caused a killing of an unarmed. Civilian, right, I don’t know, like it wouldn’t shock me if Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Eric Garner and Eric Garner died, it wouldn’t shock me if not only he had some training, but maybe got in touch with his implicit bias. And the problem wasn’t that he was implicitly biased against Eric Garner as a black person. It was that there were rules of how to effectuate an arrest. And he thinks he followed the rules and then Eric Garner died. I mean, implicit bias is so far down, the causal elements of what happened that with that killing and I think with a lot of the killings that we’re talking about, I don’t know that Derrick Shervin had or didn’t have implicit bias, but he had a totally bizarre definition of what to do when someone claims that they can’t breathe. Yeah. So I actually disagree with that.

S6: I actually think that implicit bias deals a lot with that. You cannot convince me that Daniel Pantaleo would have policed whatever nicer neighborhoods there are in New York City in the same way.

S7: I mean, if he sees a guy who’s selling cigarettes or he sees a kid on a skateboard skating on the street, nice white kid who is in a nice community, there’s no way he’s choking him out. So I absolutely think that there’s something in the back of his mind that says these people don’t deserve the same protections as everyone else. I think that that’s the same thing that Derrick Trovan was dealing with and wrestling with. Yeah, I absolutely think that that that’s part of the problem. And remember, Daniel Pantaleo, here’s the biggest problem I have with Daniel Pantaleo.

S6: In nineteen ninety three, New York City banned chokeholds.

S7: He did something that was against the rules and he got away with it because the prosecutor didn’t want to prosecute. When they did, that took it to a different jurisdiction and the grand jury refused to indict. So once again, this is the prosecutor being reluctant and the grand jury of citizens saying we don’t see anything wrong with how this man policed. And that is the problem. Other people do not see how other people are police.

S6: And that’s why, in one respect, I’m glad about what’s going on today as far as the reforms that are being talked about. But I wonder why now, this is the second time that we’ve heard where someone has said I can’t breathe. The United States in the policing system should have acted and responded to the situation that happened in New York and they didn’t. And what was the result of that? Officers were emboldened. And here you have Derrick Shervin, you know, six years later ignoring the complaints of I can’t breathe bad training, that tactics, and then once again, believing implicitly or explicitly that he will be protected by the criminal justice system. And that is the problem.

S1: So there are rules. There is a body of evidence about the phrase and the expression, I can’t breathe, because I guess the folk wisdom is if you say I can’t breathe, you’re actually being able to breathe enough to say it. Therefore, you’re lying. But there is a lot of better evidence that says this is often an accurate precursor to losing the ability to talk because you lose consciousness. So a cop in in Waterbury, for instance, would they be going out into the street with the idea, look, if someone says they can’t breathe, they’re probably lying because they’re talking?

S7: Well, there was certainly talk when I was a police officer. I was also a defensive tactics instructor. And we talked about that before. Daniel Pantaleo. We talked about this. Listen, you put someone down, you get off them, you put them on your side so there’s no compromised airway. Once again, this science is known. This is not a mystery to police officers. You go through a defensive tactics and course you should be taught this.

S6: You should know this. If somebody is telling me that I can’t breathe, we’re going to adjust and readjust and make sure that this is not a problem.

S7: When people told us that their handcuffs were too tight, we examined the handcuffs. When people told us that they can’t breathe, we’re talking to them and monitoring them the whole time, making sure that they’re on their side. And so that whole excited delirium is not happening. What was going on in Pantaleo mind and then Chauvin’s mind? I do not understand. They may have a mindset that, of course, they can talk, they can breathe, but that is not a chance that I ever took when I was an officer. It’s not one that I took as a sergeant, as a lieutenant or as a captain. It’s not one. I talked about a roll call. I don’t understand it.

S1: How much real reform can happen if police unions still have the power to help almost any accused member escape? Real consequence?

S6: Yeah, that’s a good question to all the listeners out there. I did speak with an attorney, Jonathan Smith. We did an art podcast episode about unions, and they’re part of the problem. They are certainly part of the problem. They have a lot of power, unfortunately.

S7: Once again, this is a societal problem where society is backing the police, the police unions.

S6: And so as long as that continues to go on, this is going to be a problem. We have to get people to change their minds, change their votes, and then therefore, the slow reforms that we want will come about. So the police unions have a lot of power. They are allowing a lot of abuses and mistreatment, so this is a problem that society must look at and say this is a problem that we have with our police officers. Will we kill thousands?

S7: Let me say that again. The police we call to save us, you dial nine one. You are calling people to save you or help you out in some way, are killing thousands of our people, whether they’re mentally disturbed or dealing with autism or whatever. And we have to look in the mirror and say this is a problem and it is unacceptable.

S1: Well, I have said on my show again and again, it’s because of our gun culture, because police have a reasonable expectation that someone could have a gun and also because police have to carry guns and then they have an expectation that someone could be going for their guns. So I don’t know how you’re really going to root out the problem. You know, 80, 90 percent of the killings, if we still have a gun culture in America, I absolutely agree with you.

S7: I when I was a police officer, we talked about the plus one rule. It was the concept of when I walk through the door of someone’s home and domestic violence dispute or even if I pull over a car, I already know that there’s one gun there. And it’s the back of my mind that there might be another gun there. So therefore, I have to approach the situation in that way. I know where my gun is on scene. I know that for sure. Right. And I assume that there’s another gun. Yes.

S6: If we confirmed that there’s one gun, you can believe that there may be more guns.

S7: Yes, but it’s not to be assumed. But yes, that is the way we are trained and it put us on edge at all times. That’s why you have officers yelling and screaming, watch your hands, show me your hands. So that’s exactly the culture. So we really have to deal with this gun culture. We really have to understand what we’re going to do about the Second Amendment. People are buying up guns because they’re so scared. So this is certainly a problem. I absolutely agree with you. Until we solve that riddle, we’re going to continue to have more problems.

S1: Yeah. So I have to say, I’ve talked to a lot of police officers about this and usually, I guess the police officers I talk to or at least, you know, maybe the ones that I know personally or family members think of themselves as good cops. I think they’re good cops. And they all look at, you know, Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown and they all look at some many of these other cases and say, I would never have done that. Here’s what he did wrong. Here’s how he didn’t de-escalate. Here is how he let a situation get out of hand because he wasn’t a skilled enough officer. And by the way, I believe them. If you look at the track record of a lot of these guys, like they are bad cops. But the problem I have is. And then what? And then do you say but we’re still going to go on being police officers, not demanding change, not questioning the union, saying to ourselves, there are so many good cops, why do we get lumped in with the bad? I mean, I don’t know if it should only be on police officers, but it should be more on police officers who I respect and who I actually believe wouldn’t have committed these bad shootings to do something more about it.

S6: Yeah, so I certainly think that that is the frustration of the community and that’s why many people are saying enough of this. Right. The whole system has to go because it’s the system of what people would call silence. Right. Not enough people are standing up. So this is the problem where people are saying the whole system deep on the police, everybody’s corrupt, everybody’s looking out for each other. You don’t care. You’re in line with the union.

S7: Your silence is violence. If you’re not speaking up in your part of the problem and you’re not part of the solution. So you have to go to and honestly, I can’t blame people for thinking that way. The question has to be asked, where were you before? And this and this is self-critical. I’m not I’m not excusing myself just because I’m retired from from law enforcement. I’m saying that they have to speak up now while you’re in uniform and saying we don’t allow this, we don’t accept this. A lot of people are getting on Facebook and saying we’ve got to support our police. I’m talking about police officers are getting on social media platforms saying we’ve got to stand behind the police and all that kind of stuff.

S6: The non law enforcement community, the citizens need you to say when things are going bad, too, and saying, listen, we’re not going to stand for this.

S7: People have to step up, speak up and stand up for what they believe is right and be willing to risk being fired, ostracized, not backed up on calls, even sometimes have violence threatened, threatened against them. And this is what many law enforcement officers have felt when they did try to speak up.

S3: One of the suggested reforms about the idea of reimagining entirely, reimagining what we want police to be is to have existing forces essentially have to all reapply for their jobs. How do you think that would go down?

S6: I don’t know if I would like the idea of reapplying. I mean, officers who join the force they joined because of sometimes selfish reasons. Right? They want a pension at the end of doing twenty, twenty five years or whatever it is to have them to kind of reapply. I don’t know if I would go along with that. I think that better processes in place to monitor officers, psychological evaluations, to make sure that they are up to speed up to snuff after they’ve been through some things officers see a lot through their careers.

S7: I’ve held dead babies in my hand. People just toss them to me. You know, we perform CPR.

S6: We’ve seen literally brains blown out, horrific car accident. So.

S7: There’s a decompression that needs to happen with that, there’s a psychological evaluation that needs to happen with that post-traumatic stress disorder is real thing that happens to police officers. We also have a high range of suicides.

S6: So I think that we need to get officers, the mental help officers need to stay physically fit to be able to deal with and cope with. They’re seeing on the job a little bit better. So I think that there’s other things that we can do while they’re in their careers to make sure that their careers are healthy rather than having them reapply.

S3: Captain Lawrence Hunter is the host of the Captain Hunter podcast, where he talks about these issues, the 24 year veteran of the Waterbury, Connecticut police force. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been my pleasure. The pleasure’s all mine. Thank you so much for having me. And now the U.S. attorney general, William Barr, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today, and I would like to respect the solemnity of the proceedings by not using the phrase shit show. So let’s call it an excrement exercise. True, the majority of the fault for that lies at the feet of the man who frequently lies at the feet of our lying president. The titular chief law enforcement officer of the United States is a smart man, but he has mostly deployed his mental acuity in an effort to dissemble and deflect any real effort to be held to account. There are several actions and decisions made by the attorney general that deserve scrutiny and probing. This was not the forum for such colloquies. Here’s Representative Hank Johnson pursuing very legitimate questions. And you see the sort of tactics at play and how it was hard to get anywhere.

S8: Know what is correct is that what is corrected? On February 10th, Monday, I gave instructions as to what in my time I’m answering your question. You got to let him answer, claiming by the time you filed a sentencing recommendation hours after President Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the stone recommendation. And you changed that recommended. I did. The night before. The night before that as well. Monday night. I know your story, but I’m asking. Well, I’m telling my story. That’s what I’m here to tell you. Well, I do. That’s why the question. Well, I’m here to tell my story. And on the night before. The night before. On February 10, sir. On February 10th. Reclaiming my time, sir. Reclaiming my time. And I know you don’t want to answer, but the facts are clear. Sentencing recommendation made in the morning tweet in the afternoon. You changed the sentencing recommendation. That tweet tweet was not made in the afternoon. The tweet was made it, I think, one 30 or two in the morning.

S3: Most interactions weren’t even as fruitful as that. Well, there was the vast majority of Democratic questioning in which the Democrats pursued very legitimate avenues of inquiries, but then didn’t let the AG say anything. They took back their time. They gave a speech. They gave a lecture, they gave a scolding, and that was it. I can understand the lawmakers frustration yet. I, as a citizen, had frustrations of my own that not much was being learned or gained. Let me give a small example of Barzeh technique of dilatory obfuscation. So this is what they were up against. He was confronted with that infamous footage of the Navy veteran being beaten and eventually his hand was broken by police forces in Portland.

S9: That video is of Christopher David, a Navy veteran, being beaten and tear gassed by the officers. Do you think that was appropriate?

S8: Well, I didn’t see him tear gas. There was seems to be gas in the area. I don’t know what kind of gas it was, and I don’t know whether it was directed at him.

S3: Yes. So let’s spend a few minutes together debating if Christopher David was being tear gassed or maybe the tear gas was being Christopher. David had important distinction. Let’s spend five minutes on that so I understand reclaiming my time. I’m not going to let you dance over facts. I’m not going to let you deleteriously waste the committee’s time. But still, what we got was a lecture and an upbraiding and an attorney general not looking particularly contrite. The Republicans, on the other hand, were just flat out stupid. Here’s Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana.

S9: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. What purpose does the gentleman? Is it permissible for a member of this committee to accuse the sitting attorney general of the United States of murder? Because that’s what we just heard those words and did we struck from this record. This is outrageous.

S3: Yeah, but we didn’t hear that. We didn’t really come close to hearing that. The accusation by Representative Debbie McCastle Powell was that the president and his attorney general were allowing her Florida constituents to die needlessly. That is not a charge of murder. It is also, quite frankly, accurate. There were a couple of shocking moments during the proceedings, including when Democrat Joe Nagase of Colorado Tretbar into a backpedal.

S9: You stated, quote, that the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation. You’re aware that. Today, yes or no, Mr. Barnier, the penalty of perjury, do you testify that that statement was true at the time you made it? I thought it to be true at the time I made it on why isn’t it true a June?

S8: I’ll get to that. I mean, it does. It does. It has to be quick. We’ll get to that. Reclaiming my time. You answered the question. I have another question for you on June 19th. Actually, I need to answer that. Mr. Attorney General, you did answer the question. You said under penalty of perjury. I’m going to answer the damn question. You said the answer and this is what you said. Well, are you saying no?

S3: He kind of was, but he kind of wasn’t, which is what he kind of wanted to be doing the whole time. And during this string of questions from the juice bar never broke from his body language, which was like an old man forced to sit through a six hour stage play in a language he didn’t speak. His hands were propping up his face as if they were scaffolding. But his jowls still spilled over his splayed fingers, threatening to fall upon bystanders below. Bar was a little more alert for Eric Swalwell, who also elicited a notable moment.

S10: At your confirmation hearing, you were asked, do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate? You said no, not to one. That would be a crime. You were asked, could a president issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him? And you responded, no, that would be a crime. Is that right? Yes, I said that you said a crime you didn’t say would be wrong. You didn’t say it be unlawful. You said it would be a crime. And when you said that that a president swopping a pardon to silence a witness would be a crime, you were promising the American people that if you saw that, you would do something about it. Is that right? That’s right. Now, Mr. Barr, are you investigating Donald Trump for commuting the prison sentence of his longtime friend and political adviser, Roger Stone? No. Why not?

S3: Why should I be costs to the first part of the question? Obviously, because Trump pardoned a hired hand in exchange for his silence. Oh, my God. Overall, today, the Democrats spoke truth to power and power, just sat there sullen eyed and denied the premise. It wasn’t so much a hearing as it was an airing. And the grievances, though legit, went unanswered. And that’s it for Today Show Margaret Kelly at the annual Free to Produce the Just the executive producer of Slate podcasts, Alicia Montgomery. They watched all of the hearings except for except for Representative Steve Cohen. But they were glad that there were no real crazy conspiracy theories aired.

S11: I mean, but what could Steve Cohen have to say? Maybe what happened was your secret police were poorly trained, just like your Bureau of Prisons guards were poorly trained and allowed the most notorious inmate in our nation’s last several years, Jeffrey Epstein, to conveniently commit suicide.

S3: The just this time to Chairman Nadler.

S9: I would remind Mr. Jordan, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Johnson to stop violating the rules of the committee, to stop violating the safety of the members of the committee, to stop holding themselves out as not caring by refusing to wear them. And wait.

S3: Representative Jim Jordan, now that I think about what you think of masks, were you telling us all along that suit jackets were an infringement on your liberties, right to bear arms, baby room temperature? And thanks for listening.