Undead Testify: Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse

[NB: Come on, look at the head, byline, and blurb. Of course it’s me. /~Rayne]

The zombie apocalypse wasn’t supposed to look like this; it should have been more cinematic. And yet here we are, surrounded by the undead.

You think I’m joking, right?

That bloated grey mass seated in the witness chair before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week is a revenant.

Yes, a revenant — from the French word, revenir, meaning one returned, revived from the dead. Revenant describes more than one type of undead reanimated being, including zombies and vampires.

We’ve seen revenants in culture more frequently over the past two decades. Some argue they represent the same biases we’ve seen before; for example, the popularity of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was attributed to xenophobia, aimed at eastern Europeans migrating west. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla may have been an expression of fears of lesbianism. And we’ve seen fears of immigrants and LGBTQ people used by the right-wing to rally and control their conservative, authoritarian base since the Reagan administration.

More recently the re-emergence of revenants in culture has been attributed to anti-capitalist sentiment, in addition to traditional xenophobia — the unthinking drive of consumerism underpinning toxic capitalism mirrored by zombies’ ravening hunger for living brains or vampires’ unending thirst for fresh blood in the form of human labor.

But the undead animus we all watched and heard this week was both simpler and more serious — it was the dark remnants of corruption in Reagan’s administration.

If you think about it, Reagan should not have held office as long as he did; his son Ron said he was already suffering from early symptoms of Alzheimer’s while in office. Illegitimate activities went on under his nose which may have relied heavily on his slowly-fading mental competency.

And Barr was the fixer who swept up after Iran Contra.

Now we have a president — who may have been illegitmately seated with help by hostile foreign entities — with a tenuous grasp on mental competence.

(How many raving tweets has he published this week? How many lies has he uttered or written in his 28 months in office?)

Once again, a fixer is needed. The GOP, a walking dead vamipiric party which is killing itself with its toxic xenophobia and its dogmatic insistence on ending government’s oversight power for the benefit of unfettered capitalism, summoned the undead spirit of the Reagan administration to deal with the threat to its deathgrip on power.

Lo, the bloated grey mass bubbled forth from entombment last summer with a letter persuading the vampires it would address the ongoing obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation with more obstruction.

And obstruct the zombie did.

He wasn’t alone in his obstruction. He had the help of other undead, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who both obstructed the public’s view of the Russian interference in the 2016 election and who ensured the judiciary would be infected with unqualified appointees, who further ensured the approval of Barr as attorney general.

And Senator Lindsey Graham, who was clearly bitten by the Zombie-in-Chief while playing golf one day. Graham exemplifies best how insidious they are, how rapidly revenants can infect those who are too close to their reach — one minute victims are anti-zombie and the next they are happily chomping on brains, distorting reality.

Given the presence of so many revenants covering Barr’s back, expect a return of the same acts we saw after the Iran Contra hearings: Barr will encourage pardons if he doesn’t ask for commutations. The shades behind him will do their best to obscure other criminality and unethical behavior in a fog of decaying right-wing rhetoric. Favors will be paid back somewhere along the way; did Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly do anything for George Bush’s dad or Bill Clinton which might yet need repayment?

The only way to deal with the undead is wrest them out fearlessly and stake them out in the sun — there is no better disinfectant. Examine the corpses for weaknesses, cut off reviving animus in full view of the public, and purge their glorification from history. Impeachment will label them as anathema for future generations.

Then seek out and dispatch all the other lingering revenants before they sneak up on us.

Don’t be surprised if some of them arrive wearing candidate’s clothing, either; you’re already seeing the ghost of Clarence Thomas’s wretched nomination walking among the living.

This is an open thread.

254 replies
  1. REG says:

    Slightly off target… but very important:

    Barr responds to Durbin’s contention that “Trump never exerted executive privilege and may have already waived his right to exert executive privilege” by stating


    WE? WE? Barr represents Trump, PERIOD What other proof does anybody need to understand that?


    Barr should be impeached and disbarred!

    [Hey, we get it. You didn’t need to repost this across multiple threads. Once was enough. Your duplicates have been removed. /~Rayne]

    • P J Evans says:

      Barr needs to review the legal limitations on privilege. (And the state of his soul – has he even made a full and free confession of sins in the last 30 years?)

    • Rayne says:

      Yup. That. Barr doesn’t seem to understand his job description nor understand we the people are paying his wages.

      • P J Evans says:

        I understand that Tr*mp spent an hour on the phone with his BFF Vlad, and the Mueller report was discussed (or at least mentioned – depending on whose version you believe). If they talked about it – privilege is gone, because Vlad ain’t on the approved list for any of that.

        • Mainmata says:

          I assume (ok hope) that the NSA is monitoring Trump’s calls with Vlad because Trump is a traitor. Presumably, they chatted about how Russia would once again hijack the 2020 election for his favorite asset.

          • e.a.f. says:

            It was interesting that Kim 3 got on his train to go see Vald, then comes home, fires a few whatever they ares around. then Donnie and vlad have a chat. Guess they have their ducks all in a row.

            Perhaps Vlad was giving Donnie a pitch for low cost workers, i.e workers from North Korea, which are in Russia, China, any number of countries in Africa and Asia and now Polish ship yards, in contravention of E.U. game rules..

      • William Bennett says:

        I think the bufonian smirk on Barr’s face was the clearest indication one could want that they are at the point of not pretending any more. Now that Trump has an AG whose only loyalty is to him, personally, and will do his bidding, attack any political enemy Trump puts in his sights, along with the open defiance of Congress’s Constitutionally mandated oversight powers, we have pretty much officially crossed the threshold into an authoritarian system. As Randall Flagg said to Lloyd Henreid, “we’re going to move very fast.” I think they’re already in motion to make as much use of those powers as they can in advance of the elections and bulldoze their way into a second term. See Josh Marshall and the NYT on Giuliani’s current overseas escapades, including striking a deal (for cash) with the Ukraine to torpedo Biden. I’m sure that’s just the surface ripple of a big ugly already underway underneath. Trump is an idiot in a lot of ways, but when it comes to arrogating power to himself and using it to crush people he doesn’t like, you can trust a narcissistic psychopath to know how to do it.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Love the Randall Flagg ref. That was a great read – Lloyd the firebug who nuked Las Vegas. We need a Lloyd pointed right at the Repubs.

          A good friend of mine is a quite eminent psychiatrist. Last week we were discussing current affairs and he told me that tr*mp is a psychopath – no question, no doubt, no two ways about it. I was a bit taken aback until he explained. He’s right. The clown in the WH is certifiable DSM-5 material. Unless he strokes out or something akin, we’re screwed. An English buddy of mine wrote me recently wrt Brexit, tr*mp, and the RF, “how did we get here?” An excellent question that gets answered piece-meal here at EW every day by Marcy, Rayne, bmaz, and the commentariat. The Russians found their own Lloyd Henreid and he’s trying to blow us all up.

          Bufonian! Lol

          • William Bennett says:

            Well, to be accurate, Lloyd was the half-smart con Flagg rescued from prison and made into his right-hand man. You’re thinking of Trashcan Man. But I think the Flagg quote is apt. It’s all about speed and faits accompli with this kind of fascist authoritarian takeover.

      • david says:

        Where’s Arya Stark when you really need her? I’m sure after dispatching the Nightwalker she’d have no problem with a few rotting revenants.

    • fpo says:

      Methinks the ’eminent executive privilege’ proclamation came straight from the bloody lips of Emmet Flood. Surely there’s a role for him in this nightmare.

      • errant aesthete says:

        Indeed, it did.

        “White House lawyer slams Mueller report for making ‘political statements’” [https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/02/white-house-lawyer-slams-mueller-report-for-making-political-statements.html]

        “Flood’s five-page letter to Barr claimed that the report on Mueller’s far-reaching probe should not be legitimized or taken as precedent, and argued that Trump has retained his executive privilege rights related to the probe.”

  2. Badger Robert says:

    All the things we would rather not talk about with respect to a deceased President, rise up from the grave and fill the nights with their hauntings. Two escapes: the electorate lets them off the hook which has a low %, or they hang with cheating distance and win a rigged election. That depends on hundreds of state and local officials.

  3. Silence Hand says:

    True fact: as a high school student back in early 1984 I played in a little brass band that did “hail to the chief” and “ruffles and flourishes” for a short Reagan speech at an event related to education. We sat on the side of the stage, so I got to watch the guy in profile reading the Teleprompter. I remember all of us being stunned by how incoherent and out-of-it he seemed. He looped back and repeated himself at least twice, all this in a speech that probably lasted about 5 minutes. It was like a glitch, or something.

    That administration was a real hothouse for the foul and corrupt; basically nobody in charge. Just like now. The truly sad part is that we have a whole new crop of fresh zombies.

    • Rayne says:

      I think it says something that both Reagan and Trump were entertainment-made presidents, just a generation apart — one film+TV, the other TV+internet.

      Got to give it to Putin for figuring out how to construct a Potemkin village for which just enough Americans would suspend disbelief.

      • Scorpio Jones, III says:

        “Got to give it to Putin for figuring out how to construct a Potemkin village for which just enough Americans would suspend disbelief.”

        God Damn, Dude….just…..God Damn

        THE most cogent explanation of where we at I have read.

        And the devil has a henchman to convince us he does not exist.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m sure, myself, that that was when his family was sure he had dementia. (It was about that time that the annual reports on his health stopped mentioning his mental health.)
      I never voted for him – I remembered him as governor entirely to well, and he didn’t like women, students, and minorities then, either.

    • Tech Support says:

      I have been frequently reminded of this old Firesign Theatre sketch during the current administration, but it serves as an especially poignant reminder of a situation where people basically knew what was up and weren’t able to stop it:

      Firesign Theatre – The Breaking of the President:


      • Mooser says:

        Once in my life I get to say this: I have been saying that senility and/or dementia is the Republican leadership style ever since Reagan. Okay, thanks.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’ve been wondering for the last several years if Ronny had some kind of communicable, infectious dementia, that’s been passed on to successive generations of GOP-T “leadership” and down through their House and Senate members and governors. It seems to be especially common where they have complete or nearly-complete control of state governments.

      • Steve13209 says:

        The satire of the early 1970s is still relevant today. I was listening to some Vietnam-era music and it struck me that the issues that seemed to have a chance of changing back then were pushed back eventually and then fully extinguished during the Reagan Administration. If things continue as they have, we’ll be taken back to the age before the New Deal and back to robber barons and child labor.

        BTW Pete Buttigieg should be in the Funny Names Party. More sugar!

        • Mainmata says:

          I believe Trump Administration is preparing to propose legislation (or maybe executive orders) rolling back child labor laws so we’re already there.

          • P J Evans says:

            It would require legislation – and states also have laws on child labor, which would still be in effect.

      • Silence Hand says:

        “Hey man, you broke the president!” One of my favorite FST bits.

        For a little Easter egg, ask Siri: “This is worker speaking”

  4. Rapier says:


    It’s pretty easy to see how some of us have been a little naive about how this is all going to go. Eyes on Mueller. Odds are he will bend over backwards not to throw Trump Barr under the bus. Even as the rabid want to put him in jail. Now that’s a good soldier. I could be wrong of course.

    I use an odd metric to measure all of this; the stock market. The stock market is MAGA. All history suggests the run in stocks these past 10 years and especially since election day 16 will end, badly. The alternative is that it really is different this time, a new era. I will tell you one thing if the DOW is 30,000 next November Trump just might win. If it’s 20,000 he loses, period.

    • Areader2019 says:

      I have to wonder… is this the ‘endgame’ (to reference Avengers) that Mueller wanted?

      That Barr would grab the report and slap a ‘nothing to see here’ sticker on the cover?

      Does Mueller want to testify, and get his viewpoint out in public? When career bureaucrats write memos, they do it for a reason, to create a record. I like to think there is some strategy here to preserve the rule of law. Not so sure anymore.

      • Mooser says:

        Mueller “testify”? If what Trump and his herd of ilk have been saying they want to do to Mueller is even a bit true, Mueller will have to fight to keep himself and his staff out of jail or off the scaffold. ‘Treasonous investigations’ ‘Coup attempt’ At the very least, he comes off as a time and resource waster. Yes, he had better do some testifying.
        Yet Barr and Trump and the rest seem very confident they can go on using Bob Mueller as a punching bag. Maybe Trump is dangling a pardon for Mueller, to keep him quiet…okay, I am going nuts.

        • Rajpier says:

          “Graham told Mueller that if he felt Attorney General William Barr misrepresented the content of their phone call following Barr’s release of a summary of Mueller’s report, during his congressional testimony, he was welcome to come in and testify.”

          My take is that it has been telegraphed to Graham that Mueller will smooth things over on all these matters. I can’t imagine it any other way.

          As to the rabid dogs calling for Mueller’s head that isn’t going to happen anyway.

          Mueller served in combat in Vietnam and likely was and still is a true believer in the cause. He was made FBI head a week before 9/11 and knows where all the bodies are buried as to the FBI and intelligence failures that let it happen and was perfectly happy to run cover for everyone with the absurd congressional investigation.

          Mueller is the soldiers soldier. I suspect if Trump ordered him shot he would stand at attention at the wall, no blindfold, no complaints.

          • Tom says:

            For Graham to announce publicly that Mueller is “welcome” to testify before Congress about any concerns he may have re: the AG’s handling of his report is not the same thing as specifically requesting him to appear. Graham may be gambling that the publicity-averse Mueller will not take him up on his offer; but if he does, then I’m sure Graham and his fellow GOP will use the opportunity to have Mueller confirm what his team was NOT able to find in the course of its investigation (i.e., sufficient evidence to lay more charges), and, of course, they will resurrect the whole Hillary email saga and ask him to explain in detail why he felt it necessary to remove Peter Strzok from the Russia investigation. The GOP will try to twist anything Mueller says to support their ‘investigate the investigators’ plot.

            • Tom says:

              Correction: I see that Graham did send Mueller a letter inviting him to appear before the SJC.

        • bmaz says:

          Where do you come up with this nonsense? Reddit or QAnon? It sure as hell is not from a deep reading of this site. What is your goal, to feed BS here?

  5. jaango says:

    Patience, my friends, Patience.

    Years ago, we, the military vets from the Sonoran Desert, came together to propose and establish, what will become in the next twenty years, our National Monument to Criminal Stupidity. As such, the starting point commenced on January 1, 1980, and which continues to this day, and further, 40,000 ‘names’ have been submitted and the approval of 3,000 ‘names’ being granted for this chartered/incorporated effort. Consequently, the Sons and Daughters and of course, the grandkids, will be in for a large surprise.

    And as such, historians will be worth their weight in gold.

  6. SteveR says:

    Two unrelated thoughts: First, rather than “revenant,” I might lean toward “hysteropotmoi” (primarily because I’ve been seeking an opportunity to use the word since I stumbled across it some 30 years ago). Notably, though one might think the term was used to connote celebration at the return of one thought to be dead, it conveyed the sense of dread attendant to encountering someone who bore the stain of death.

    Second, Marcy has already astutely documented how DOJ sources have played various folks at NYT. As Barr’s deliberate deception is assessed, one must certainly consider the sourcing of the April 4, 2019 NYT (Schmidt, et. al.) declaration that “the special counsel’s office never asked Mr. Barr to release the summaries soon after he received the report.” Ummm, (1) by April 4, any source with an increment of relevance prepared to confirm that negative would have known the assertion to be a lie, and (2) methinks Mr. Barr tried to spin a tale, learned his lifelong friend had the (rather impressive) integrity required to call Barr on his bullshit, and that Barr probably engineered the anticipatory media cover-up. And however the lie published by the NYT was communicated to the NYT, I expect it has direct relevance to any assertion that Mr. Barr lied to Congress.

    • Rayne says:

      With regard to hysteropotmoi: as much fun as it may have been to pull that out of a dusty repository, it’s probably not the right word. Its root, ὑστέρα (hystera-), suggests reborn as if from a woman’s body. No fucking way is this beast slouching along of woman reborn.

      A better fit would be deuteropotmoi which describes a second life or fate, like those who were nearly killed in battle and given up for dead but revived and recovered to live on. And yet these bêtes noires don’t have honor earned from earnest battle.

      If we’re going to throw some Greek myths around, it might be better to think of vrykolakas (βρυκόλακας), which are blood-sucking unholy undead. Much more accurate.

      With regard to the 04-APR-2019 article: yup. Would be nice to know the genesis so that the earliest pre-decision/declination could be pinpointed.

      • SteveR says:

        Points well taken. Only question relates to the 4-4 NYT article. I’m not convinced it reflects the genesis of the declination. I think it reflects the first moment Barr realized he needed to start pre-spinning lies about Mueller’s push back–we’re probably saying the same thing, but I’m ready to attach more criminality to the event.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Re: the blood-sucking, unholy dead.
        In Greek tragedy, the Erinyes.
        They have a big role in the Orestia, which was written as a way to describe the shift from tribalism to urbanization among the ancient Athenians. We are still living a version of this story, but to our peril we don’t recognize that zombies are still with us, and they are still after our souls.

        The unholy, blood-sucking dead were the upholders — and enforcers — of the tribal Honor Code: you killed my brother, so if I am to call myself ‘a man’, I am called upon (by the ghosts) to revenge his death by taking your life. And if I fail to extract a ‘full blood price’ for my dead kin, his unappeased ghost will wail through the world as an unholy, blood-sucking wraith — cursing me as a lickspittle, a cowering hound, until I ‘honor’ his memory via retribution. (Curses are a *very* big deal among the blood-sucking, unholy dead…they can’t rest without retribution.)

        The failure of American policy makers to grasp the honor code implicit in tribal cultures is horrendous. The consequences have been grim, and created more unholy dead ghosts moaning for more blood.

        I’ve only ever seen two people who seemed to thoroughly grasp the profound significance of tribal ‘honor’ codes and their significance for policy and administration: (1) Col Patrick Lang, former head of DIA, who once wrote an incredible essay called, “Drinking the Kool-Aid”, about the period leading up to the Iraq War: https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2005/09/drinking_the_ko.html

        And (2) was an Australian military officer (Kilcullen), who had been in Afghanistan among the tribal warriors and warlords, and who was advising Condi Rice. (He once gave a superlative interview to Rachel Maddow, but I’ve never got round to actually reading his book about guerillas. Note to self: summer reading…)

        We disregard the significance of blood-sucking, unholy dead — and zombies — at our peril. They are all about revenge, and never about justice. Dangerous, tormented fiends.

        They are always, and everywhere, calling for blood.
        Justice and harmony, however, are their mortal enemies.

        • Rayne says:

          Oh yes, the Erinyes (Furies) — not so much Megaera but Alekto and definitely Tisiphone must be summoned to deal with the accursed oath-breakers and the undead who serve them.

    • timbo says:

      Maybe it was someone at the White House or Guiliani who leaked this non-fact. I wouldn’t put it past either source to be working with information that was stale; zombie facts that when resurrected make the scene stink and the elocutioner be anything but. Or perhaps it’s worse than that—certainly there’s the distinct possibility of that too.

  7. J Barker says:

    At the Wednesday hearing, Barr said this: “Special Counsel Mueller stated three times to us in that meeting in response to our questioning that he emphatically was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.”

    Barr is deviously clever. I don’t think he’d assert so starkly under oath that Mueller said these words to him unless Mueller did in fact say these words to him….So here’s what I think may be going on.

    Mueller himself– and the rest of his team– do in fact believe both of the following two propositions:

    (1) the evidence is more than sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump criminally obstructed justice.

    (2) were it not for the OLC memo, Mueller would have recommended indicting Trump for obstruction.

    However, as Mueller makes clear on pp. 1 and 2 of Volume II, because he accepts the OLC opinion prohibiting the prosecution of a sitting President, he thinks considerations of fairness prevent him from writing his belief in (1) down in the report as a formal accusation of criminal wrongdoing. Mueller’s thought is that, since the prosecution process is the established method for the criminally accused to publicly dispute the accusation of criminal wrongdoing, it would therefore be unfair to make the formal judgment that someone who cannot be prosecuted has committed a crime.

    My thought is that these very *same* fairness considerations, may have prevented Mueller from explicitly stating his belief in (2) anywhere in the report itself. And maybe he felt that, for the same reason, he was obligated not to articulate his actual belief about what the evidence shows in the March 5th briefing of the Attorney General.

    Look at it this way: in terms of public perception, is there any real difference between, on the one hand, a prosecutor formally making the judgment that x committed a crime but that charges will not be brought and, on the other hand, a prosecutor formally stating that, were it not for a legal opinion prohibiting prosecution of x, the prosecutor would have recommended bringing charges against x? I doubt it. In this case, Mueller may think that publicly stating “but for the OLC opinion” charges would have been brought is morally and prudentially equivalent to publicly stating “yes, criminal obstruction, but OLC says I can’t indict.”

    Thoughts? Am I losing my mind?

    • pjb says:

      I am also flummoxed by how Mueller has applied his “fairness consideration.” On the one hand, he says that given the OLC memo he is powerless to indict or prosecute Trump for obstruction and that fairness considerations impel him not to air his prosecutorial views since trump is without recourse to answer and defend in Court. But then, he says he’d exonerate him if he could – but he cannot based on the evidence so he won’t. This seems a one-way street. If fairness dictates he not give his view that Trump committed a crime why would it be fair to be at liberty to say he didn’t. Is this additional statement solely a set up sentence so he can say he does not “exonerate” Trump, anticipating what Trump would trumpet (and maybe what Barr would mislead)?

    • vicks says:

      Losing your mind? Maybe.
      Slowly but surely I think we ALL are.
      I believe this is the “gaslighting” that has been talked about since Trump got in office.
      Your quote;
      “At the Wednesday hearing, Barr said this: “Special Counsel Mueller stated three times to us in that meeting in response to our questioning that he emphatically was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.”
      Keep in mind Barr is the fella that in the hearing was struggling with the word “suggest” when questioned by Senator Harris.
      Try looking at everything he says as propaganda and every word chosen carefully to change the narrative.
      The actual question everyone wants answered is “did Mueller fail to INDICT or recommended Trump be indicted because of the OLC opinion?”
      Barr instead gave an answer to a question that wasn’t asked but served him better and that is “was the opinion of the OLC the reason Mueller FAILED TO FIND obstruction?”
      Stupid question and of course if actually asked (3 x’s!) using the words described by Barr, Mueller would of course answer “no” and point to his big fat pile of Trump crimes.
      The whole thing is insane to a thinking person, but we are dealing with incredible bias along with laziness, and a groomed distrust of anything that is not pro-trump.
      There are real people in my life telling me about things that don’t exist in the Mueller report (and suggesting I read it) claiming there is no proof of things captured on video or print and of course the many crimes committed by “HILLARY!!” and the deep-state-secret society.
      Congress has to get better at asking follow up questions and while they are at it figure out their own slogans or trigger words to shut down or get in front of team Trump’s strategy of reframing events before they hit the ground.

      • timbo says:

        The question to really be asking is why is Congress, particularly House Democrats, reliant on Mueller for anything? It is the House that gets to decide impeachment, not Mueller.

        In this, we see the DP leadership looking for cover from an outside source…in order to right the ship that is our flailing Enterprise. Instead of looking towards others for this, they need to look into their own personal sense of what is right and wrong and not rely on an external source for any sense of indignation, etc, at is what apparent and blatant violations of the laws emanating from the White House, the current AG, the President’s family, etc. The House can investigate these things but they don’t want to be seen to be on a fishing expedition when the fish are whoppers? Why do they have poles in the first place then I ask—why? So they can wring their hands and not do any fishing unless someone else comes along and writes them a report on what fish they may find, fish that in plain sight? They seek someone to blame other than themselves if they don’t catch any fish… and so they do not fish. Or the alternative explanation that they just aren’t as good at hiding their own fish from others in the Congress who too have poles… the so-called GOP, who now holds sway over Washington, protecting the biggest fishes of theirs, the likes of which has not been seen certainly since GWB’s torture regime, perhaps not since ever.

      • Tom says:

        Democrats and radio/TV journalists should IMMEDIATELY interject and push back every time they hear a Trump defender utter the words “no collusion”, “no conspiracy”, or “no obstruction” because YES! there WAS collusion, there WAS conspiracy, and there WAS obstruction. And the obstruction is still going on!

        • Tom says:

          So this morning on “Face the Nation”, Margaret Brennan lets Doug Collins get away with saying “Mueller found no collusion and no obstruction.” She started to interject when he claimed that Mueller’s March 27th letter to AG Barr was only intended to express his concerns about the press coverage of Barr’s four-page summary, but then she let that pass, too.

          Margaret had Byron York as one of her panelists today. Now there’s a guy who glories in his hair.

          • Vicks says:

            A journalist’s job as I understand it is to hold those in power accountable.
            What is a news anchors job exactly?
            I guess a fair and impartial one allows both sides to present their case and give American viewers enough credit to make up their own minds, however a little clarification would help when guests are deliberately conflating the facts with wishful thinking.
            In the case you are describing Collins is deliberately telling viewers that what Barr claimed was said said during a phone call (that Barr will not release the notes of) and what was written by Muller in his letter are the same. Republicans take for granted no one will read the letter
            I will say it again. Democrats keep losing because they allow team Trump to get out front and define every situation and frame every argument however they wish.
            Dems at face value are holding all the cards yet here we are….

    • Jeffrey Samuel says:

      You are perfectly correct. And it is a constitutional disaster.

      This is because Mueller’s misguided scruples have combined with Barr’s special mix of bad faith and unitary-executive hardball to produce a complete, if convoluted, authoritarian doctrine regarding the president’s relationship to the criminal law and his prerogatives in dealing with any who try to hold him to its standards through the normal executive channels . It is this:

      (a) The OLC opinion on indicting a sitting president is the starting point of any criminal investigation of the president and is of paramount importance.

      (b) It must be assumed that the OLC opinion is equivalent to law and can never be changed or waived.

      (c) A person accused of crime by the government is a victim of unfairness unless he or she is provided an opportunity to defend on the merits in court. For example, any time a prosecution is filed and dismissed or otherwise fails to reach final judgment on the merits, the defendant has been mistreated, because he or she has been unable to resolve the matter in court. This would apply to accusing but not indicting a sitting president.

      (c*) As a policy matter, the fairness issue in (c) outweighs the public’s interest in obtaining an objective, widely credited determination of whether or not they are being governed by a criminal, regardless of how universally assumed it is that the latter determination is the purpose of an investigation.

      (d) Because of (b), the unfairness of accusing but not indicting a sitting president is not dispelled by the fact that the president could order OLC’s rule waived or suspended if he or she preferred indictment.

      (e) To avoid the possibility of this unfairness, any investigation of the president must be designed, as to both methodology and questions to be investigated, so as not to result in a judgment that the president has committed any crimes.

      (f) From (e) it follows that the possible conclusions of any such investigation are limited to ‘evidence insufficient to charge a crime’ or ‘no traditional prosecutorial judgment.’

      (g) If, despite the diligent application of (e), the investigation uncovers strong evidence of all the elements of a crime committed by the president, this evidence must be reported, but (f) still applies.

      (h) Issuing the official interpretation of the results of the investigation is a privilege retained by the attorney general.

      (i) That no crime took place is an acceptable interpretation of either of the conclusions allowed by (f).

      (j) It is not legally possible to obstruct an investigation that does not result in a prosecution.

      (k) It is not legally possible to obstruct an investigation unless the person allegedly obstructing it is its target.

      (l) From (j) and (k) it follows that, whenever an investigation evaluates facts relevant to obstruction of justice by the president to protect himself or others, or by others to protect the president, the only possible conclusion of that investigation is ‘evidence insufficient to charge a crime.’

      (m) ‘Evidence insufficient to charge a crime’ is readily shortened to ‘no crime.’

      (n) From (h), (l) and (m), it follows that successful obstruction of justice by or on behalf of the president leads to the president’s exoneration of both the underlying crime and the obstruction.

      (o) From (f)-(i), it follows that an investigation of unsuccessful obstruction of justice, or concealed crimes with no obstruction of justice, or open, public, and freely acknowledged crimes would also lead to the president’s exoneration.

      (p) If an investigation of the president results in his or her exoneration, the investigation was politically motivated and undertaken in bad faith.

      (q) From (n) through (p) it follows that all investigations of the president are politically motivated and in bad faith.

      (r) An investigation without a predicate is unlawful.

      (s) Because of (q) and (r), every investigation of the president is a predicate for a counterinvestigation of the investigators, anyone who cooperated with them, and all the president’s political rivals.

      (t) From (q) through (s), it follows that all investigations of the president, at least by the executive branch, are unlawful, and all counterinvestigations of investigators, witnesses, and political rivals are lawful.

      (u) From all the foregoing, it follows that the president is immune from the criminal law, and his power is limited only by what the other branches can bring to bear against him or her, with no executive cooperation and with any degree of executive resistance the president chooses to deploy.

      Trump’s impunity is overdetermined by these propositions, as is that of any future criminal president. Barr put it all together, but Mueller supplied many of the most important pieces (namely a through g). That he was naive and not cynical is shown by his ‘snitty’ letter to Barr. For Mueller, the circumlocutions were a solution to an agonizing problem about whether his legal judgment would be an improper intervention in the political processes of the republic. For Barr, Mueller’s conscience was a weakness, which created an opening to be exploited. So we have this result. Can we call it the Barr-Mueller Doctrine, or would that be too cruel?

      • J Barker says:

        I hadn’t quite put it all together like this but, yes, I think this is exactly what’s going on. Anyone who reads Jeffrey’s reconstruction of the Barr-Mueller argument and thinks, “surely this line of reasoning is too complicated and obscure to be what’s really going on in Barr’s head!” should go back and re-read his 2018 obstruction memo. Much of the above reasoning is laid out explicitly there.

        Barr’s strategy is devilishly clever. Since the confirmation hearing, he has made public statements about what a President can and cannot do that *sound* simple and reasonable to members of Congress, media analysis, and the general public. Whenever he makes one of these statements, though, he simply fails to mention that those apparently simple and reasonable English words have a very different meaning when *he* says them.

        For example, at his confirmation hearing, Barr said things like this: “Of course a President who tampered with witnesses or dangled pardons in exchange for non-cooperation would thereby be committing the crime of obstruction of justice.” This gave us all the impression that, if Mueller turned up evidence that Trump had, say, threatened Cohen or promised Manafort/Stone pardons in exchange for their lies or silence, that Barr would conclude– or let Mueller conclude– that Trump had committed a crime. Of course, Mueller turned up exactly this pattern of facts, and on Wednesday we saw Barr refuse to call these acts obstructive. Why? Because, the whole time, Barr has been hiding his own insane view that no member of the executive branch may attribute the requisite corrupt intent to Trump’s actions so long Trump or his lawyers have articulated some merely possible, logically coherent non-corrupt motivation for the acts.

        • Rayne says:

          In other words we have no choice but to insist on impeachment — the House must be forced to investigate obstruction and other unlawful acts by Trump, campaign, and administration. Only Congress can make a criminal referral to get past Barr’s argument though no man is supposed to be above the law whether the enforcers work for them or not.

          • J Barker says:

            Yes, I think that’s the position I’ve come around to as well.

            Unfortunately, I also agree with EW that Barr’s handling of the Mueller report have effectively weakened impeachment as a source of genuine accountability. He of course gave three-weeks for the “total exoneration” narrative to settle into the public consciousness, which has decreased the political incentive for Dems to begin impeachment proceedings. But he’s also given Republicans the talking points needed to argue forcefully against the legitimacy of impeachment proceedings. Having spent two years arguing that the Constitution envisions *political* rather than legal accountability for a lawless president, they’ll now turn around and tell us that the standards for impeachment are entirely legal and that because Barr has declared Trump committed no crimes, there’s no case for impeachment in Mueller’s report.

            • bmaz says:

              But this posit assumes that “impeachment” is a binary full impeachment with articles of impeachment voted out, or….nothing. This is the same bunk framing Pelosi and the concern troll Dems are making.

              It is bogus, and a lie. The House needs to solidify its investigatory powers by opening an impeachment inquiry. That is all. That does NOT mean they ever have to vote out articles of impeachment for trial in the Senate.

              The discussion in this regard has been, almost uniformly, asinine. There seems to be no level of discussion on the topic that can pierce the stupidity of the public framing to date.

              • CitizenCrone says:

                “The House needs to solidify its investigatory powers by opening an impeachment inquiry. ”

                I’ve read this here and a couple of other places, but I don’t quite understand.

                The House already has subpoena power. What, practically speaking, additional power is gained by turning the inquiry into an impeachment inquiry?

                • timbo says:

                  There have been previous federal court rulings that the House, during impeachment inquiries, is constituted as a >federal judicial proceeding< with the same standing to documents and grand jury testimony as any federal court. AFAIK, there have not been similar rulings with regard to regular non-impeachment hearings by Congress. Thus, currently, legally, a priori, based on earlier rulings by the judicial branch of the federal government, impeachment hearings are to be given more weight when deciding which side to come down on in decisions made by the judicial branch of the federal government. Further, in theory, an impeachment panel of the Congress should have ultimate authority over any documents created by the federal branch of government. That is to say, for impeachment to work as a legal mechanism, it would make little sense if the Congress cannot access and seize any documents generated by other federal organs of government to investigate the bringing of articles of impeachment forward under the Constitution. The same cannot be said of regular Congressional business… although, frankly, it makes little sense that Congressional subpeonas cannot access any and all federally generated business, nor cross-examine any employee or agent of the US. Thus, the if the House was to form an impeachment committee, that committee would have greater standing when it came to the strength of its subpeonas.

                  Note: The idea of "executive privilege" is something that is used to thwart the original powers that the Framers intended for the Congress. There is no mention of such a privilege in the Constitution, nor in any ratified Amendments. It is a made up thing and therefore should have much less "legal" standing than things enumerated in ratified Constitutional law. It's a legal theory that has never been written down as law, Constitutional or otherwise. The theory masquerades as commonsense by those who want the holder of the Presidency to have less oversight from the Congress than the Constitution permits.

                  In the modern era, people forget that the Congress was intended to be the superior of the three "co-equal" branches. It's reflected in the Constitution itself, with the Congressional articles first, the Executive articles second, and the judiciary article third. Congress has the impeachment power as a way of reining in the other two branches and the President as necessary. And while the Executive branch through legal enforcement may arrest and try members of Congress for breaking the laws that Congress has passed, only Congress may remove members of Congress from itself, or remove members of the Executive or Judicial branches if the leadership in those respective branches refuses to do so. Sadly, in the US, the mystique of the Presidency has gained such ascendency that the person in the office of such is given much more deference than is due, and certainly more than is wise.

                  • vicks says:

                    That is helpful thanks.
                    Can you also clarify whether there is a different legal weight of a congress making demands that is holding a impeachment “inquiry” vs an impeachment “hearing” OR any room for a fellow like Barr to turn a “3 into an “8” in yet another situation if its not crystal clear

                    • bmaz says:

                      Yes, an impeachment inquiry stands head and shoulders above a normal oversight function because impeachment is directly specified as the remedy in the Constitution. It is such a direct constitutional power that even conservative courts are loath to impinge on it. I have been saying this for a long time, and Timbo’s comment was pretty good as to explaining it.

                  • vicks says:

                    I will rephrase my question.
                    Because an impeachment inquiry would NOT necessarily lead to an impeachment hearing it seems there should be some checks in place to prevent abuse.
                    Everyone seems to be saying that starting an impeachment “inquiry” will force Trump’s hand.
                    I think it is safe to assume that if there is a crack in this logic Barr will exploit it.
                    Many people including Timbo seemed to use impeachment “inquiry” and “hearing” interchangeably and my question is if, as I believe, they are two separate events what (if any) are the “checks” put on the the “inquiry” phase to prevent the majority in congress from performing real witch hunts and can those be used by Barr and Co, to keep building the wall?
                    FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK another school shooting 3 miles from where I am now. Small STEM schoo,l my son graduated from there and is now in his last stretch of college they are saying 1 dead. We just did the 20 year anniversary for Columbine. We have done NOTHING to protect these kids!!

                    • bmaz says:

                      The checks and balances are in the Constitution. Are you suggesting that the Democratic House should be so feckless and terrified of using the Constitutionally specified powers that they can’t do it because [fainting here] the Republicans might abuse authority? Were you around for Watergate? Have you noticed what the GOP, Trump and McConnell have done over the last five years?? Just how terrified of doing their job should the Dems be? Should they do anything, or just hide in a closet???

                      Very sorry to hear about the shooting, that sucks.

                  • Vicks says:

                    I said none of that.
                    People I believe know more than I do about the subject seem to randomly interchange the words “inquiry” and “hearing” after the word impeachment. Clearly there is a difference between the two and my question was, is there a difference in the legal standing of congresses demands during the “inquiry” phase (when they are poking around trying to see what has legs) and the “hearing” phase when they are fully committed?
                    I am not saying don’t do it . I am saying Dems need to start driving this thing, they will lose (again) if they don’t expand their audience beyond the choir, and look for the cracks before they get clubbed from behind,
                    Bad info on the shooting. No deaths! Several injuries, two in custody they are still looking for a third.

                    • bmaz says:

                      You did infer, if not directly say, that. The difference is that “hearings” can only be had on an impeachment “inquiry”. You cannot have one without the other. And the inquiry is used to collect evidence for potential hearings.

                      And, yes, they need to get on with it.

    • Stacey says:

      And I have another question regarding this situation where Mueller doesn’t want to say he thinks Trump committed crimes. Rachel Maddow pointed out recently that a future defense council could claim Mueller’s statement in the affirmative might ‘prejudice a jury’ in the event that Trump was charged after leaving office, which he mentions in the document is a distinct possibility, so he’s obviously thinking of that outcome. If that is a good observation on her part, is Barr’s actions essentially pushing Mueller to speak on exactly that question going to jeopardize that strategy of protecting the future trial from the taint of his publicly stating his opinion on that?

      • Jeffrey Samuel says:

        A future jury would be faced by a prosecutor’s accusation by definition anyway, so it’s not very likely that having heard of the same or a similar accusation in the past by Mueller, another prosecutor, would be particularly prejudicial. And in high-profile cases, courts screen jurors for prejudice from exposure to the news all the time. So this does not seem like a very persuasive explanation for Mueller’s behavior.

        Mueller’s choices are distinctly odd. They have defied everyone’s expectations, including the Trumpworld people. Most of the explanations that suggest themselves are unflattering: he was naive about how the White House would spin his words; he didn’t understand his political role or thought he could avoid having one; he didn’t think through the implications of his approach for the future of the whole idea of the rule of law; he feared becoming a pariah within his party; he had a sense of self-importance that caused him to think he had to make a difficult and momentous policy decision for the good of the country when really he just had to do an ordinary legal analysis. Who knows? But his stated reasons are insufficiently compelling to justify the heads-Trump-wins, tails-the-national-interest-loses character of the upshot.

        • J Barker says:

          There is one other, slightly more Mueller-favorable possibility here.

          It is possible that Mueller and his team spent weeks prior to March 5th trying to convince Rosenstein/Barr to let them officially conclude that Trump had obstructed justice and perhaps recommend that the OLC opinion be reconsidered.

          If Barr/Rosenstein were pushing for a declination on obstruction, and Mueller wanted to at least conclude a crime had occurred, the non-decision-decision may have been Mueller’s attempt to compromise and at least get the report out to the public and Congress ASAP.

          (This would explain some of the odd features of Volume II, especially Mueller’s insistence on saying explicitly: “if we could exonerate, we would so state” and “the report does not exonerate the President.” In other words, hey, Barr, we *cannot* make an official declination in this case given the very damning evidence we’ve uncovered.)

          • Jeffrey Samuel says:

            That might be the most plausible scenario. It would mean they’re counting on Muller to keep quiet about their interference. And maybe he would.

            Another thought: I remember long ago Mueller was pressed for an assurance that Trump was not a target of the investigation. If I remember right, he did sort of give that assurance. So maybe he made good on that in this way.

            • bmaz says:

              Not necessarily. Since Trump could not be arrested or charged, he really could not be a “target”. He could be a very substantial “subject” though, and clearly was. So, to the extent any such thing was inferred, it may have been the legal truth being used to keep Trump at bay. It was legally accurate he was not a target.

              • timbo says:

                It was more policy that he was not a target, correct? The OLC opinions are not laws, right? This is more an issue of what someone’s employer permits in the conduct of a job or project than it is a matter of following any particular laws. There is no federal law on the books that gives the President such immunity from being considered the target of an investigation and being indicted, correct?

          • Vicks says:

            I think it is crucial that Mueller is asked about the effect that the appointments of Whittaker and then Barr had on his team’s process. What exactly were their demands?
            Mueller could have been getting squeezed and this document was some sort of compromise .
            Or not.

  8. viget says:

    There’s lies…. damn lies…………… and statistics…….

    And then there’s whatever the hell Barr is doing.

  9. Nehoa says:

    Love the zombie trope! Hope that there are not 5 zombies on the Supreme Court. Could be though, and we need to consider what to do if the Democratic-controlled House is the only institution in the federal government that has not been taken over by the zombies. Democrat states need to start getting organized to coordinate political and legal defenses and counter-offensives.

    • Rayne says:

      Sadly, Kavanaugh is a revenant. Dude has probably died a few deaths between his alcohol abuse, his treatment of women, and whatever it was that spurred a couple hundred thousand in debt paid off with vapor. Just a meat puppet somebody will operate at will.

    • Stacey says:

      I wrote this before I read Molly Pitcher’s piece just above, since my reply was to what was above that, but then I read her like suggestion of “Brain Dead”. Hahahah! So yes, look it up!!!

      What I originally wrote before editing: There was a series on Netflix a few years ago called “Brain Dead”. It’s a satirical political show whereby the premise is that an insect crawls into the ear of a politician or staffer and makes them batshit crazy partisan. When the bug infects someone they go off the rails and as the show progresses more and more people get infected. It’s got the tin-foil-hat crowd chasing the phenomenon, still normal people observing the phenomenon, and various level of staff and elected officials succumbing to the infection. It got cancelled after it’s second season, I think, and my husband and I swore the reason was it hit too close to home!!!! It’s well worth a watch, I think, especially now, that it’s sort of hard to make the case that there’s NOT some sort of brain-eating bug that crawls into people’s heads after someone gave them a branch off the cherry trees in Washington.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Much better synopsis of the show than mine, Stacey. I agree with you and your husband, that the show was canceled because it was much too close to the truth!

  10. Peacerme says:

    Awesome job Rayne! Couldn’t agree more. I have a whole thesis about how invalidation, and power and control psychologically stunt, damage and distort our relationship with feelings and emotions. Explaining how just as borderlines self harm to make their pain visible and valid, sociopaths seek to experience the pain of others. Hurting others validates the power. Without recognizing the pain. Narcissists cannot empathize. They struggle to experience emotion for connection. They are limited to experiencing emotion to control others. These are polar ends. Winded way to say, it’s a metaphor that could be more valid than you realize. From a mental health perspective zombies exist. Using Pete Walkers 4 F’s of trauma responses: fight, flight, frozen and fawn, each are a form of dissociation, distortion, and disconnection. Two thumbs up! Invalidation is the invariant mechanism to violence.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        My take is that Doug R is confirming Rayne’s metaphor of GOP conservatives being the equivalent of the undead/zombie hoard.

        • P J Evans says:

          Also that they aren’t about to do anything about Tr*mp, as long as he signs bills they want. (Which is, IMO, a very iffy proposition.)

  11. mrtmbrnmn says:

    The undead are the entire Dementedcrat and GOP Zombies political establishment. And their Media Amen Corner. Their “world” spins in reverse and they are all talking backwards. The Mueller “Miracle” proved to be a dud. And none of these Congress Creatures have the slightest interest or incentive to legislate anything for the common good. It is all about the Benjamins, after all.

    • P J Evans says:

      I don’t know what your news source is, but it’s not doing you any favor: you’re missing everything that the Dems are doing. (Hint: They’re passing bills that will benefit the majority of the people in the US. They’re doing it knowing that they won’t get through McTurtle’s logjam in the Senate.)

  12. Jockobadger says:

    Thanks Rayne. Appreciate the open thread. Since it is an open thread, I’d like to know what’s become of Norskieflamethrower? Norskie generally joins in when things warm up.

    ~ Keep the faith, but pass the ammunition ~ Namaste

    • Jockobadger says:

      God Damn it, where’s Norskie? Is he/she in jail or something? I’ll bail you out my brother (sister.) Wouldn’t be the first time and friends have gotten me out in similar circumstances. JHFC.

      A pandemic is coming. I bet it won’t matter who you are and it cant get here soon enough. Ideally it’ll wait til after college football.

  13. Stew says:

    ‘It was a mountain that ended up being a mouse’

    POTUS has mixed his metaphors
    chaos theory incarnate

      • Eureka says:

        (That’s) *from or *”repeats”

        (Not to make a mountain out of a molehill…)

        Anyway, ‘mistakes’ end up being useful to track who’s guiding the conversation, programming the bots, and/or who is being repeated.

        Julia Davis cites another variant; there’s a convo on her tweet that’s quite interesting because of the push for the Aesop and foundational Western origin by one commenter, as if that negates its popularity with Russian speakers, or consistent, recent use by Russian government officials. Everybody doesn’t carry forward or recycle the identical parts– much less ‘wholes’– of ‘history’ :

        Julia Davis: “When Putin described the outcome of the Mueller report as “the mountain that gave birth to a mouse” (a popular Russian idiom), he was slamming our entire justice system as “the mountain.” I hope Trump didn’t mindlessly giggle along, but I fear that he did.”

        “Here is some context as to the expression Putin used during his chat with Trump. It’s popular in Russia. ”Senator Pushkov, a senior deputy in Russia’s upper-house Federation Council, described the Mueller report as “a mountain that birthed a dead mouse.”””

        commenter: ““the mountain gave birth to a mouse” isn’t a Russian idiom. It’s a reference to a fable of Aesop, who lived in Ancient Greece over 1000 years before there were any people calling themselves Russians.(links wiki)”

        Davis: “I’m aware of its origins, but it is widely used by Russian speakers. ”

        commenter: “ok, but Aesop’s fables are like the Bible or The Iliad, part of the common heritage of Classical Western Civilization. No one people can make them into national idioms by mentioning them more frequently.”

        Davis: “Trump obviously wasn’t familiar with it, in spite of his famed education.”

        “Commenter’s” last point is false as to cultural/socio-linguistic variation: use-frequency variations and combos thereof _are_ indicators of differences, at a variety of scales (neighborhood, … region, .. nation).

      • Stew says:

        Thanks for the link Eureka. If Trump is familiar with the etiology of the idiom, that would be surprising.
        Making mountains out of molehills is the metaphor potus seems to be hybridizing with Aesop’s fable.
        Aesop can be excused for promulgating pathetic fallacy of spontaneous generation.

        Come here often to get schooled on what’s going on.
        Thanks to all of you.
        Marcy, Bmaz, Rayne and this great community.

  14. Eureka says:

    bmaz tweeting about Monty Williams new Suns head coach: congrats on the good sports news! Everyone thinks so highly of him, universal well wishes (and outside of that, it seems the modal response is that Sarver (regular bmaz twitter topic) will manage to fire him in a year, maybe he shouldn’t sell his house yet jokes…). Here, it will just reveal more of Brett Brown’s deficiencies (he called Jimmy Buckets “James” the other day, trying to be honorific— then Butler replies ~ my name’s not James, tho. He doesn’t have that man-to-man/ locker-room connection to the team that Williams has, besides all else…).

    But did anyone see that Tor/Phi Game 3 last night? Great game, you had to see it– highlights don’t even do it justice.

    ETA: also have always wondered if bmaz ever wrote about Colangelo (the son) and the whole burner accounts scandal attributed to his wife.

  15. Amers says:

    I am just reading through this. https://www.justice. gov/opa/speech/principal-deputy-associate-attorney-general-jesse-panuccio-delivers-remarks-free-speech
    What does it mean to have no Associate Attorney G?

  16. Eureka says:

    Matt Fuller quoting Media Matters study:
    ““The Twitter feed of The Hill was by far the worst offender we reviewed, producing more than 40 percent of the tweets that pushed Trump’s misinformation without context over the entire study.”(link to below)”

    Study: Major media outlets’ Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average 19 times a day

  17. Tom says:

    Watching the Trump/Putin (Trumputin?) press conference from the Helsinki Summit again leads me to wonder whether they spent part of their two-hour secret meeting beforehand coming up with mutually agreeable answers to the questions they expected to get. Some of Trump’s answers sound a little stilted and non-spontaneous and he looks down at his lectern from time to time as if checking a script. Did Putin tell him how to answer? Putin also gives Trump some cover by denying that he and the President have a close relationship: “Where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or that I trust him?” Or maybe this is so obvious not to be worth commenting on.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      TrumpPutin (pron. trump-poo’-tin)
      PutinTrump (pron. poot’-in-trump)
      PutTrumpin (pron. poot-trum’-pin)
      PuTrumptin (pron. poo-trump’-tin)
      TrumPutinp (pron. trum-poo’-tin-pee)

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Don’t leave out: TrumPutin, as in, I’m TrumPutin on the Ritz or I’m TrumPutin these answers down in writing but I can’t recall what happened.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        And some anagram fun:
        Trump Putin

        Mr Punt It Up
        Mr Nut Pup It
        Tip Up Mr Nut
        Mr Put Nit Up
        Pit Up Mr Nut
        Up In Mr Putt
        Nip Up Mr Tut
        Runt Pump It
        Runt Tip Ump
        Turn It Pump
        Rump Nut Pit
        It Pump Turn
        Put Mr Input
        Tint Rump Up
        Print Tum Up
        Pinup Mr Tut
        Nip Tut Rump
        Putt In Rump
        Trim Nut Pup
        Nut Rut Pimp
        Tut Urn Pimp
        Pimp Run Tut
        Imp Urn Putt
        Rut Imp Punt
        Input Trump

  18. Badger Robert says:

    Trump’s speech is becoming more fragmented. He is having trouble using appropriate adverbs and adjectives, and relies on general intensifiers. Some days he seldom tweets, and instead retweets nonsense. The end is coming.

    • Tom says:

      He speaks in terms of “bad things” and “good things” as if his mind can’t grapple with more complicated words or concepts. Russian news service says his phone call with Putin lasted 90 minutes and you wonder whether most of it was Trump rambling hither, thither, and yon like he does when he phones in to Fox Gnus.

  19. dimmsdale says:

    Thanks for the open thread, Rayne. (Thanks for everything else you do too–since I seldom comment I want to get THAT on record!)

    I sometimes have to hold back from merely skimming threads like these and forcing myself to read in more detail. The impulse to skim grows out of a question I keep hoping to find an answer to on my favorite lefty blogs: “IF all this is true, THEN what?” OK, contempt citations and subpoenas are drawn up, then what. OK, they’re physically served and/or legally communicated; if they are blown off (which seems increasingly to be the administration’s style), THEN what? A series of judicial actions leading to the Supreme Court, which takes years for the process to work, and an eventual ruling (and I have my own suspicions about how that’s going to go); THEN what?

    I realize these are (at this stage) unanswerable questions, and probably a futile attempt on my part to impose some impression of control over a process that is entirely out of hand. But I would feel somewhat better if I knew that somewhere, on the left, among the power players we have, intellects greater than mine are gaming out where this all could lead and seeking ways of impeding the ongoing fascist coup (and by “ways” I mean nonviolent strategies beyond anything the founding fathers dreamed would be necessary when they were formulating our current system).

    How deep is the strategic thinking on “our team” at this point? Is that even an answerable question? If not, this is like one of those amusement park rides that feels increasingly out of control and even possibly fatal, and no assurance the ride will ever stop. I am an optimists by nature, but some of my optimism rests on a degree of denial. Denial, fortunately, seems to be thinning somewhat, to a degree. But, too late?

    • P J Evans says:

      Legal appeals can be expedited – and for stuff involving the WH, probably will be. Months, maybe, but not years.

        • timbo says:

          Is that more or less likely to be the case if the House moves against the AG with a contempt charge? Frankly, the House needs to start forming an impeachment committee pronto. This has been the case since February of course… I’d go with 2017 but, hey, I’m ‘a radical’ who believes the Congress needs to stand up a bit.

    • Rayne says:

      We could use a decision tree laying out all the options but control of the senate remains the biggest bottleneck. I take some comfort in knowing HJC and HPSCI have been staffing for what lies ahead.




      I don’t know where House Oversight, Financial Services, and Ways and Means stand on hiring at this point.


      IMO, our best option is to make as much noise about ALL of the unethical and unlawful behavior so that voters realize they are the ultimate backstop even if we can’t successfully pull off impeachment by August 2020. We should be focused on peeling away as many of the 20 GOP senate seats up for re-election, and our state’s election security.

      • dimmsdale says:

        I understand that, but I am imagining actual “war rooms” on the GOP/oligarch side of the fence, well staffed and financed by the Mercers and their ilk, engaged in gaming out every single step that needs to be taken, to make the will of the voters and the decisions of lower courts irrelevant. Untrammeled interference in the election process itself, creating enough chaos in the process as a whole to throw the election into doubt (all the while remaining in power) and demanding recounts via notoriously malleable election machinery is only part of it; shielding Trump’s lackeys from subpoenas and contempt citations and creating unlawful executive orders which are then enforced by the executive’s enforcement arm—look, I don’t even know enough about the options available to these people to game it out, nor do I know enough about how the military plans for various options to a particular action an enemy might take, but I’m quite sure the other side does. All overlaid by the unspoken rubric “Yeah?? What are you going to DO about it, hold another hearing?”

        I heaped plenty of scorn (still deserved in m opinion) on Rumsfeld and his “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” horseshit, but it strikes me that we have a lot of unknown-unknowns in our future. This is why good presidential debate teams hire the most effective debaters to take the opposite side. I wonder if, beyond the arena of immediate prospective congressional actions, anybody on our team is looking at larger potentialities?

    • Areader2019 says:

      It is interesting that Pelosi streamlined some of the committee rules for obtaining a subpoena. She was thinking back a while ago about dragging people in to testify.

      I don’t know how deep her strategic thinking is. I’m sure she keeps that pretty close to the vest.

      I am a big believer in public televised hearings. Otherwise, Mueller’s report just goes down the memory hole. The NYT will follow the lead of RT and write ‘concern’ articles about Hunter Biden and Ukraine.

    • Marinela says:

      The detailed strategy should not be published by the dems until the moment they are ready.

      The general strategy would be in my opinion similar to what was already said here, prepare for impeachment, televise the hearings, impeach in the house (Barr, Trump), the senate will probably acquit but the senators would be on the record.

      If the house doesn’t impeach before the election, would be dereliction of duty in my view.

  20. Tom says:

    It’s been bugging me for days, but I finally realized who Bill Barr reminds me of—Jabba the Hutt!

      • Tom says:

        Or Barr played by Sydney Greenstreet if it was a 1940s Warner Bros. production, with Peter Lorre as George Papadopolous.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        John Goodman ! That’s the name I was trying to remember ! They certainly look alike

        • Stacey says:

          If you saw John Goodman’s brief role in the West Wing series playing the Republican that was briefly the president while Bartlett was out for a while. You’ll forget he was ever in comedy! He was a William Barr character exactly!!

  21. MattyG says:

    Have to say awesome piece Rayne – provoked a slew of interesting commentary – great read top to bottom.

  22. OldTulsaDude says:

    Bringing up my own personal revenant: I continue to wonder why Mueller and his staff decided on a definition of “coordination” as requiring “more than two parties” when that would exclude two individuals acting in cooperation? Is that due to the fact that two persons might fall under conspiracy law or did Mueller, et al, decide that more than 2 was necessary to implicate the entire campaign of Individual-1?

    • InfiniteLoop says:

      Try reading it as “more than (two parties acting responsively)”, not “(more than two parties) acting responsively”. The presence of an agreement — as opposed to parallel but independent acts — is the important part, not the number of parties.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        I appreciate the response, and I am not trying to win on a dead horse, but are you certain? No lawyer here but to me it looks as though Mueller took pains to explain that coordination had no legal understanding – so he could not have found any crime of “coordination”, yet he had a mandate to look for it. In the context of no possible crime so just looking for “coordination”, “presence of an agreement” might not be as important as the number of participants in that agreement – if that is the viewpoint, then might not it have taken at least 2 campaign members plus an outside third party to satisfy the definition of “campaign coordination” that Mueller used?

        Thanks again.

  23. AitchD says:

    They’ve drunk the Goldwater. If Goldwater’s “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” became manifest as Reagan/Bush-Bush/Quayle-Bush/Cheney; and they pulled off Iran(!)-Contra(!) by lying and getting away with it; and they lied about Iraq’s WMD’s; therefore, lying in defense of extremism is no vice.

    • Areader2019 says:

      Yeah…I’ve thought a lot about the lying. I think it comes from contempt.

      I had a boss who was kinda a Trump type. And I sat in on an interview he was doing with a journalist. And the journalist asked decent questions. But my boss just fed him BS and lies and attacked him. Afterwards my boss was enraged, and said “that guy makes 50k a year, he is a nobody, he has no right to ask me those questions.”

      I think my boss really believed it. He would never treat an investment analyst from Goldman Sachs with that kind of contempt. But a journalist is a nobody, and my boss really believed a mere journalist had no right to get the truth.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      Contempt goes hand in hand with arrogance, and he certainly has that. I just never thought contempt would extend to the Constitution and its oversight mandate.

  24. Tom Poe says:

    The self-confessed sexual predator is a named, unindicted co-conspirator in the Cohen plea agreement. He hid his participation in a crime intended to prevent the voters from discovering he and Cohen paid off a woman to remain silent until his election. Barr may be a “fixer”, but he can’t fix this. The occupant of the White House is illegitimate, and needs to be removed as quickly as possible. There should be immediate launching of impeachment hearings, and let the charges accumulate. The question facing voters starts with, “Would you have voted for a self-confessed sexual predator that rigged his election by committing crimes?”

    • P J Evans says:

      About 30% of the voters would tell you “sure, that’s fine with me” – because they think that rich [white] guys are Winners.

  25. JAG says:

    William Barr Whitewalker? Zombie? Or Undead Keebler Elf?

    William Barr may have the face of a Keebler elf but the rest of him is not so cute and jolly.

    Travel back in time to 1989 when Barr was testifying before Congress on the matter of a memo he wrote concerning the legality of arresting citizens on foreign soil without permission from the nation’s government. Then as now he was less than forthcoming on the details of the document. He hid behind the Office of Legal Counsel –OLC opinions are confidential. Yes they are so confidential, you can go to the website and search for them and get the text. Lying is the default setting for the Honorable William Barr.

    Instead of analysis of his legal memo, he “summarized” the principal conclusions. He declined to offered a legal rationale for allowing detentions on foreign soil. The fact the president was granted power that violated U.N. Charter was omitted. It took almost 2 years to pry the details of his document loose.

    Anyone familiar with his past would not be surprised at his four page conclusion on the Mueller Report. It’s what he does. Anyone who took the time to read his disturbing letter to Rod Rosenstein in June 2018 no doubt anticipated it. It was a love letter to the executive branch; it was an absolute reassurance that the president’s powers cannot be curtailed, questioned or defied. Barr is the best investment trump has made so far in shoring up the crumbling wall of his presidency. Barrs’ jolly elf face, round spectacles, and patina of institutionalist reassured Congress Barr was the guy we needed to bring law and order back to this chaotic presidency. Barr comforted Congress—here was a solid institutionalist. We wish they had all read his letter to Rosenstein before confirming him, but the GOP has no appetite for reading. Or perhaps the GOP is so dead to the rule of law, they agreed with Barr’s memorandum that grants the presidency absolute power and total immunity.

    Barr’s appeal to trump is easy to read—Barr believes in the absolute and unquestionable power of the president based on a broad interpretation of Article II Section 2 powers granted by the constitution.

    Section 2 powers:

    –Commander in Chief of the army and navy
    –Power to grant pardons except for impeachment
    –Can enter in to treaties with 2/3 Senate approval
    –Appoint ambassadors, public ministers, consuls and judges
    –Fill Senate vacancies

    But to these seemingly modest powers Barr gives the president immunity from indictment per the Office of Legal Counsel, the right to terminate any investigation he believes it’s baseless, and the right to terminate any official even if done with corrupt intent. If these powers sound vaguely familiar, they are the underpinnings for any successful dictatorship.

    These weirdly broadened interpretations of presidential power give trump a teflon shield. With Barr in charge of the DOJ, there will never be any successful removal of trump from office.

    We now have a front row seat never granted to this nation in its history to the absolute destruction of the US constitution and the obliteration of the fragile balance of power made possible by the confluence of a malignant personality as president, a complicit AG and a Congress more in love with power than with preservation of the nation.

    Barr through his June 2018 letter to Rod Rosenstein laid out the course the DOJ should take to keep trump from harm. It was more than a job application; it was his broadside into the boundaries of the office of the president that is sinking justice and erecting walls of protection around the executive. Through a series of loopholes, catch-22s and a decades-long power grab by the GOP, the executive in office is now unassailable. There is no branch of government that will act as a check on the office of the president. He is bullet proof.

    We tend to think the constitution is impervious to permanent harm. We believe the founders had some super-power to write a document that can never fail us. It is failing and we are seeing the fragility of democracy and how it’s success depends on the morality of the people we elect. While all presidents have weaknesses and flaws, there has never been such a perfect melding of an amoral president, a Mitch McConnell bent of shaping the judiciary for generations, and an accommodating Senate ready to follow. Barr was the piece that put it all together and made it unassailable.

    Barr may be the most dangerous man in this tragedy of a presidency.

    The loophole in the oath of office for trump is the phrase “to the best of my ability”. We should strike that.

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”[2]

    What about that June 2018 letter to Rod Rosenstein?

    If we read it (and it is tedious and repetitive) we find Barr has a very extra-special interpretation of the Statutes of Obstruction of Justice. There are 21 of them under 18 US Code Chapter73. The statute in contention is SS1512 and that has been further focused on one word: “otherwise”.

    (c)Whoever corruptly—

    (1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

    (2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

    If you read through the 21 obstruction statutes, the obstruction mainly lies in the physical destruction , mutilation, or physical interference with an investigation as is made clear in (1). above. Barr will brook no other interpretation. When Mueller presents evidence /incidents of obstruction, it’s largely based on “otherwise” obstructs, influences and impedes. This transcends the physical act obstruction and opens up interpretation to state of mind ie corrupt intent. Barr claims this doesn’t exist and can’t be proved.

    Here’s the Catch-22. To prove corrupt intent to obstruct, you necessarily need to interview the subject of the investigation. However, per Barr, there is no need for a subject to testify if no crime underlies the obstruction. It neatly invalidates the entirety of Volume 2 and makes Volume 1 a waste of money and digital space per Barr and this administration. Mueller did not interview trump and to his discredit, he should have doggedly pursued testimony in person to the end. Without it, his documentation of obstruction languishes and cannot be acted on especially with Barr in charge.

    Barr accuses Mueller in the letter of being a wild-eyed progressive bent on making sweeping sweeping sweeping (a word he uses ad nauseum throughout) changes to interpretation of obstruction that must be denied to preserve the laws as Barr defines them.

    Additionally Barr makes very clear the president can fire anybody at anytime for any reason and it cannot be charged as obstruction. We cannot ascribe corrupt intent to termination because that destroys a president’s Article II powers and will bring down democracy. This is the Barr interpretation of Article II section 2 of the Constitution. Combine his broad interpretation of Article II with his narrow, bespectacled focus on obstruction and voila!! Barr creates the perfect autocratic/kleptocratic presidency our constitution never envisioned. We got here over a couple of decades of inaction on the left mixed a with a fair dose of complacency in the face of a GOP bent on gaining wide swathes of power in the judicial branch and reshaping the states into a wide red band capable of defeating the popular vote.

    Barr’s Pillars of Wisdom

    1) Barr says in his letter a president is granted the authority in the constitution to oversee and supervise any investigation even if it involves his own interest. Yes, he really wrote this and no it isn’t true.

    2) Per Barr if there is no underlying crime there can be no obstruction.

    3) Corrupt intent to obstruct does not exist, can’t be proved and doesn’t define obstruction

    It’s a pretty tidy little case for a bullet proof presidency. I don’t believe for a minute trump was capable of reading Barr’s letter and interpreting it, but somebody did it for him and put Barr’s name at the top of trump’s list for nomination. Who was that I wonder?

    4) Add to the mix the Office of Legal Counsel’s reg that a sitting president can’t be indicted and the presidency is transformed into the autocracy/kleptocracy the founding fathers were so hellbent on preventing. We did it to ourselves through a host of bad decisions, never picturing how all of it would move together to destroy our beautiful and fragile Constitution.

    As Alice Cooper said

    “Welcome to My Nightmare”.

    • Rayne says:

      Agreed – preaching to the choir. I think the brown bag lunch with OLC in June 2018 deserves more examination. Did Sessions (and possibly Rosenstein) hide a job interview as a casual lunch but under OLC’s presumed confidentiality?

      (I’m letting this 1489-word comment through this time but please remember that many of our readers use mobile devices and comments of this length discourage them. Brevity is the soul of wit and of retention, too; optimum length for uptake is 100-300 words long.)

      • J Barker says:

        Barr also said that, before had written the memo, he discussed his views on obstruction with Rosenstein over lunch sometime in “early 2018.” So Rosenstein may have already adopted Barr’s views about presidential power and the illegitimacy of the obstruction investigation as early as January or February of 2018. If I recall correctly, Mueller was pushing hard for the obstruction interview during those months…

        See pp. 2 -3 of Barr’s letter to Graham: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Barr%20Graham%20Letter%201.14.19%20FINAL.pdf

    • P J Evans says:

      IIRC, it was Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III who was the Keebler Elf. Barr is the one that looks like he’s going to turn into Jabba the Hutt at any moment.

    • AitchD says:

      Is Alice Cooper Fake Blues? Barr is all that, but he’s filled with horror and dread that Trump is that POTUS, here and now. That’s why he got pulled back in, to be the last word on whether Trump stays or goes. Once, I. F. Stone revealed that “all governments lie”. Right, d’uh. Me, I’d rather know I’m being lied to than to have to wonder about it.

      • bmaz says:

        Alice Cooper is my neighbor, and is not fake anything. One of the nicest and most genuinely charitable people you would ever meet. Analogizing him to Bill Barr is some Grade A bullshit.

    • Thebuzzardman says:

      Since sports got mentioned earlier, I feel I can start with “Long time reading, first time replying”.

      I’d like to share a general description of what informs Trump, his base and Barr, though I doubt it’s news to most people here. Though it was written in 2006, still pertains; in fact, more than ever:

      Keeping with sharing a link that probably isn’t news to most readers here, but might be, this Lawfare article has a good analysis of Mueller’s report and Barrs obfuscations around it:

      I believe the author of that article was someone who once thought well of Barr.

      Thanks for all the fine, incredibly detailed and knowledgeable work on here, from the main writers to regular and non regular contributors.

      • bmaz says:

        TheBuzzardMan – Welcome, and please comment more often! You are right about the Authoritarians. Also right about the Lawfare piece. That was by Ben Wittes. While it was swell and whatnot, I guess, a lot of us challenged it back when it first posted. Barr’s record and ideology has been crystal clear for a very long time. And, so it came to be that the new Barr is the same as the old Barr. Who couldda knowd? Welp, pretty much anybody that knows history and doesn’t see fit to repeat it. I actually thought Barr maybe would be a better steward of DOJ than Whitaker, no matter how imperfect Barr’s past was. I was wrong about that.

    • Scott says:

      “A document that could never fail us”

      …..(cough) are you referring to the document that claimed “We the people” but really meant “we the white men”.

      Your constitution like many human projects has always been a mixture of myth, truth, hope, and abject political cynicism. It’s hardly shocking there exist a group today bent on manipulating it for their own gain, it’s always been thus.

      • bmaz says:

        And, yet, it has been the most successful and stable one of its kind in history.

        Your snotty potshots from Canada are getting both tedious and annoying. You have anything useful to add here, or just this dreck?

    • timbo says:

      They can impeach him for failing to uphold his oath to the Constitution. Munichin is arguing that he is following the Constitution and asking the federal courts to rule that that is the case. I’m guessing that this may come down to Congress having to start impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court justices eventually…if Munichin’s arguments somehow gain traction in the judiciary in any significant way.

  26. J Barker says:

    I just found this interesting piece from a few weeks ago: https://theweek.com/articles/832175/did-barr-shutter-mueller-probe.

    The author points out that a February 20th CNN report says *Barr*, who had just been sworn in six days earlier, was preparing to receive the report as early as the following week:

    “Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary of Mueller’s confidential report, according to people familiar with the plans.”

    All by itself, this of course doesn’t mean Barr shut Mueller down early. However, I’m now remembering that the DOJ announcement that Barr would not recuse himself wasn’t made until March 4th, nearly two weeks later! So Barr was both preparing to receive Mueller’s report and he was discussing his plans about submitting a summary to Congress *before* he’d been cleared by ethics officials (whose advice, of course, he had not committed to following anyway).

    IDK, just one more data point!

  27. jaango says:

    When I consider the ‘valuation’ that is today’s white Democracy as the Big Dump, and as represented by Individual 1, or perhaps I should be a tad more tender-hearted and call it somewhat more accurate or as the white Democracy’s Big Slump?

    And yes, the Zombie Apocalypse seems quite accurate, as well.

    However, given my level of civil discourse, and whatever white Democracy’s ills and villains, the responsibility comes down to what we expect as our Responsibility. Thus, implementing Public Financing for all federal and state offices, would change the effective level for what I call an inevitable increase in Decency Personified.

    Consequently, when we fail to establish some seriousness toward campaign financing, our white Democracy will continue to limp-along–at-best, and further along side the the portentious use of grifters and grafters.

    And from Open Secrets, consider the following:

    Jennifer Wexton spent $6 million to flip a seat in VA.
    Jared Golden spent $5.5 million in ME.
    Lucy McBath spent $2.5 million in GA.
    Harley Rouda spent $8 million to turn out Dana Rohrabacher in CA.
    Abigail Spanberger spent $7 million to unseat Dave Brat in VA.
    Sharice Davids spent $4.7 million to win in KS.
    Jason Crow spent $5.6 million to win in CO.
    Dean Phillips spent $6.1 million to win in MN.
    Debbie Mucarsel-Powell spent $4.6 million to win in FL.
    Colin Allred spent $5.9 million to win in TX.
    Ann Kirkpatrick spent $4.5 million to win in AZ.
    Abby Finkenauer spent $4.6 million to win in IA.
    Ben McAdams spent $3.4 million to win in UT.
    Torres Small spent $4.6 million to win in NM.
    Sean Casten spent $6.1 million to win in IL.
    Antonio Delgado spent $9.1 million to win in NY.
    Lizzie Fletcher spent $6.1 million to win in TX.
    Lauren Underwood spent $4.7 million to win in IL.

    Need more be said?

    • P J Evans says:

      Are you taking into account the costs of ads in those states, as part of your complaining about what people have to do to get elected?

      • timbo says:

        Who sets the costs of those ads?

        This is why we need to have federally subsidized federal office campaigns. It gets the money equation more equalized when it comes to ideas rather than just promoting the business of cashing in on elections and electioneering.

  28. greengiant says:

    This is what passes for Murdoch propaganda. Robert Ray: “In hindsight, Barr should have insisted that Mueller read his report summary” Hillary Clinton is exactly wrong Comey is coming unhinged Reminds me of the tactic of sending lawyers into every recount room in 2000 and 2016. A lot of otherwise smart people are still in denial and lapping this stuff up.

    • Scott says:

      I don’t think any of you can see the forest for the trees. Certainly there is much impressive and intelligent analysis on this site (and many others) concerning all of the minutiae of your national slow walk into a de facto authoritarian state. I also watch Daily Joe where an earnest and well spoken daily handwringing keeps me up to date on the latest turn of the screws on your tortured body politic.

      However the eight hundred pound gorilla is never addressed. It’s always “Trump this” or “cabinet secretary that” or “WTF has happened to the GOP?” when the real problem for America (and sadly the rest of world) is that all this corruption and malfeasance is perfectly acceptable to nearly half of your citizenry.

      The slide to the abyss won’t stop untl that fact changes. Why should Trump or the GOP act as if your constitution actually means anything until a solid supermajority (at a minimum) start believing in it as well? Nearly half of America is perfectly fine with your evolving experiment in “No. Let’s be bad George, let’s be real bad..”. Yet day after day I see an read endless tirades and rants which talk about every outrage save the real one, that being that almost 1 in 2 Americans are happy to live in what can only be described as a neofascist state.

      The rest of the inheritors of the great western liberal tradition are increasingly adopting the view that yours is a lost cause. What we have learned and will now always remember about you is that Trump is no aberrantion and that regardless of what happens in 2020 the next potential Trump will always just one election away.

      • P J Evans says:

        Tr*mp actually got fewer than half the votes. And those were from less than half the registered voters. So you might want to rethink that whole theory of yours, as it’s not quite connecting to reality.
        BTW, Tr*mp’s approval rating is stuck at less than 40%.

      • bmaz says:

        The air must be quite rare up there in Canada. Guess you have forgotten about Harper and Ford in your zeal to slam the US. Thanks for all your effort. What in the world are “you” doing, other than ranting about Americans trying to make a difference. What a load of bull.

        • Scott says:

          I note several times “nearly half”. Frankly it’s shocking that someone as corrupt and disgusting as Trump even garners 10% support. So many of you keep talking as if Trump is something that happened to you when in reality he was elected and retains significant support amongst the electorate. How many of you are certain he’ll be defeated in 2020? How many of you would stake your savings on his defeat?

          • bmaz says:

            Clean up your own damn house before bitching, somewhat from an uninformed and hyperbolic position, about ours. Where do you get off? Also, please identify to us each and every time you complained about Ford, Harper, the first Trudeau or anybody else. Give us usable links please. It is the least you can do while whining about a government that is not yours.

            • Scott says:

              My house is not a threat to world peace and ecological sustainability. You people are the whiners who blab ad nauseum about Trump but are seemingly absolutely unable to do anything about it.

              …and that’s because nearly half of you are just fine with him.

              • bmaz says:

                What a load of shit. Whine on. Clean up your own house before getting all sanctimonious here. Seriously, you are getting tiring.

                Would you like to donate to worthy causes to fight Trumpism? How about donating significantly to this blog, and its work, instead of just using it as a vehicle to whine from another country. Again, that bunk is getting tiring.

              • P J Evans says:

                Your personal house, maybe not – but your government is supporting tar-sand extraction, which most definitely is. Fix that.

                • Rayne says:

                  The crisis is looming — a small oil producer walked away from 4700 wells this week, just threw in the towel.


                  This is when foreign interests like Kochs/Aramco/Russian oil sweep in, buy up distressed assets at fire sale prices, sink a bunch of money in elections to capture the regulatory structure, and *boom* the dominoes fall.

                  At the same time deep-pocketed entities continue to fuel political disruption via information warfare (they’ve already had a foothold through SCL/Cambridge Analytica’s Canadian sibling). They spur on the incel/MRA movement which has already taken lives and been partially legitimized through that asshat Jordan Peterson. And they poke the Gilets Jaunes as well. Perhaps they encourage a reemergence of Quebecois separatism. They goad on Ford’s ugly austerity with support from northern white nationalists while widening the schism Trudeau has failed to heal between First Nations and Ottawa.

                  Not a far walk to Trumpist-Brexit-North but hey, it’s easier to bitch at the US than deal with Canada’s problems.

                  • quebecois says:

                    There is no reemergence of Québec’s separatism. We have elected Legault, a libertarian-populist who’s in over his head. His dog whistles are not as egregious as what is happening in the States, but he’s pandering to white supremacists. Any sentient being can see that. Trudeau is cute, takes a great selfy and loves himself a pipeline… Ford has a wonky transmission. Nickelback, we’re certainly sorry for that.

                    • Rayne says:

                      I don’t think you understand my point. If Legault is already cozying up to white nationalists the tinder is already there and vulnerable to the same information warfare deployed in US and UK as just two examples. The presence of Gilets Jaunes Quebec is yet another troubling indicator, and this is just one province.

                      As for Nickelback…eh, je m’en ​fiche.

                  • quebecois says:

                    I am so not a lawyer and often miss the context of what is written. You are right, the base is easily swayed by that info warfare. Wish I was as zen as you are about Nickelback. Thanks for the thread.

          • P J Evans says:

            As if there were not a surprisingly large number of RWNJs in Canada and nearly every other major western country.
            Respectfully – because you might actually be a cousin – start cleaning up your own country, before whining about others, or you can GFY.

        • Scott says:

          I voted for Trudeau because i neither liked Harper nor supported his policies. However Harper supported universal healthcare, multiculturalism, free trade, etc. He was also notably in regards to this discussion not a criminal nor a narcissistic luanatic. There were also no hints he ever engaged in serial sexual harassment.
          As shameful as Doug Ford is he also would be unable to secure even a GOP county commissioner job in the bluest state.

          Guess we need to add reductio ad Trumpum to the fallacy list.

          • Rayne says:

            Wow. You are really quite blind about Canada’s problems and how close your country is to a hybrid Trumpist-Brexit scenario.

            • Scott says:

              Again reductio ad Trumpum. There is no comparison. You clearly don’t understand Brexit which is rooted in rule Britannia nostalgia. We never had an empire to be nostalgic for. Do we have intolerant cranks that watch too much Fox News (thanks for that) sure, but they don’t come close in numbers or extremism as the 42% of your nation who stand solidly behind an obvious criminal and aspiring strongman. My point is that that is your problem, not Trump himself or the GOP. It’s the vast numbers of your fellow citizens who are giving them cover

          • P J Evans says:

            California is about as blue as any state – but we still have GOP-T elected officials. One was in a congressional district just a few miles from where I live – I can see that district from where I live, as it’s several hundred feet higher in elevation. So, stuff your superiority. Harper could get elected in most of the 50 states.

              • P J Evans says:

                that district is the 25th CD, and last year they kicked out Steve Knight, R. (It’s a very odd-shaped district – most of it is Santa Clarita and up toward the Antelope Valley – a more conservative area than this one.)

              • Scott says:

                Nope, and I voted against Harper. Steve Harper didn’t cede his authority to one of his daddies very serious people. Harper for his flaws was erudite in comparison to your frat boy POTUS, and in policy terms Harper would fall into the middle left of the Democratic Party.

          • Tom says:

            Not sure that Harper was all that keen on multiculturalism. Remember the Barbaric Cultural Practices Hotline he was going to set up if he won in 2015?

  29. LeeNLP says:

    I’ve always been interested in the idea of memes and their role in cognition and culture, as first articulated by Richard Dawkins with his gene-centric view of evolution, and elaborated more recently by people like Dan Dennett with his book From Bacteria to Bach and Back.

    We seem to be living in a time when people’s minds are literally infected (in the same way a computer can be infected) by mental viruses propagated through media such as Fox news, and against which much of humanity has no immunity.

    I’m old enough to remember the horrifying scene in the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” when the protagonist looks in the eyes of his companion, the only person he could trust, and realized she was no longer the person he once knew. That fear is primal. And I feel it more and more. The idea of zombies, people whose minds have been overrun by some kind of virus, and whose actions are directed only at spreading those viruses- no longer seems like fiction.

    • Rayne says:

      Considering the nature of memetics — memes being discrete replicable and transferable information — ‘infection’ is literal. Literally literal, if one thinks of written materials as encapsulation of reproduced memetic material for the purpose of distribution and acquisition.

      I’m sure those who are consciously, actively engaged in information warfare take infection into consideration, most specifically inoculation. The worst of the zombies we rub shoulders with every day haven’t only been infected; their consciousness has been shielded from accepting any cure.

      There are people we will have to drag along with us; we can’t change them. And some we will simply have to leave behind in their slavering zombie madness.

      • P J Evans says:

        The die-hards make me consider something like the enclaves in “Shockwave Rider”, where people get tax breaks for doing without all modern conveniences. The one in the story has (apparently) limited computer connections, and we don’t know how many others there might be or what they do without. I wonder how many people would trade tax breaks for doing without something that they consider worthless, but that the rest of us think is necessary. (Maybe we could give them those 1950-style towns they see on TV, in return for them, say, having no effect on elections outside their enclave.)

      • LeeNLP says:

        My older brother is a textbook case of a zombie. His faith in Trump knows no bounds. He is critical of science and evidence, yet will fall for any conspiracy theory, any fad medical idea, any historical narrative involving aliens. It’s as though the memes exist in communities in the brain where one has to do with some particular theory, another with the credibility of the source (e.g. only Fox is newsworthy), another is a straw man fantasy about Liberals, yet another is a belief that being a devout believer in God automatically protects against deception, and on and on. Self reinforcing meme-plexes.

        As the possessed man in the New Testament said “My name is Legion, for we are many”.

  30. OldTulsaDude says:

    OT – but we should all be utterly gobsmacked that the current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went on record with the NYT that she was concerned that Individual-1 may not peacefully leave office if he doesn’t like the 2020 election results.

    • P J Evans says:

      He thinks he’s incredibly popular, because Fox and Hannity tell him so every day. That his approval has never gotten to even 50% doesn’t register on him, if he’s even been told that. That he got fewer votes than Clinton still eats at him, though, and the idea that the country might choose a woman – or a non-white man – next time has to be really eating at him, as he’s a misogynist as well as a white supremacist.

    • fpo says:

      I was on the tele with a neighbor and she related a story about her son…works a horse farm not all that far from where we live…on a REGULAR basis, a couple miles from his place, a group of folks get together and burn a freaking cross.

      Gobsmacked? Not in the least. And it’s absolutely no consolation that I’m a 15 min. ride from the state capital. Pelosi knows exactly what’s going on in this country. And, apropos to this thread, it is a nightmare.

  31. e.a.f. says:

    After reading this, I’m supposed to sleep? All the writing about the undead, zombies, past sins…….omg. Scary but not as scary as the politics of the U.S.A.

    Some of the players actually look like zombies and scary characters from the Walking Dead, well McConnell and trump definitely have that flavour. Some of the Republicans look down right creepy. You could chase small children and a lot of adults.

    The heap of slime sitting in the chair this week, not remembering, not knowing……….

    Great writing! Loved it. Like a horror story, but its real.

    Ebola or the Republicans in office in the U.S.A. They both are deadly diseases. Both can and do result in death.

    Its time to shut off the blogs for the night and just watch Chuckie movies.

  32. Stacey says:

    I have said to anyone who will listen that the idea after Nixon of pardoning him and ‘letting the country heal’ was the worst decision ever made!!!!

    If you do not take the rotting flesh of this behavior outside and stake it in the sun you are doing nothing toward the goal of healing. What contagious disease you discover and do not utterly destroy will mutate and return to you 10-fold. All of Nixon’s sins have grown up and visited themselves upon us, and many of his minions! All of Bush Jr. and Sr.’s sins and many of their personal assistants–Lee Atwater…Karl Rove…Manafort and Stone–have and are still infecting us and will until we utterly destroy that energy. And of course, no modern president has done more to destroy the fabric of this country than Ronald Reagan, although we can’t often see it through the fog of admiration we think we have to bestow on him for reasons I honestly can’t grasp. He largely birthed and made popular the ‘anti-government’ rhetoric that was the train we rode here on, where such a large segment of the population has now contracted the auto-immune disorder that is the self-government/self-hatred of the Reagan era.

    Any virus type organism that we do not completely eradicate will mutate, grow stronger, more resilient, and multiple faster its next time around. If we do not learn this lesson this time, I’m not sure we get another shot at it!

  33. Punctuated Equilibrium says:

    Zombies. He-he. Fits right in with the Bizarro-World Theme Park and Oxygen Bar concept I amuse myself with. The “Merry-go-round of the Unreal” composed of caricatures from the Oval Office employment revolving door; “It’s a ( ) World” featuring Opus Dei, the Federalist Society, Bohemian Grove members… “The Beltway Abyss”, a rollercoaster…

  34. CitizenCrone says:

    Question: why is Mueller still a DOJ employee? Does it have to do with Stone, Miller, the Mystery appellant?

    I’m just wondering because the House seems to be going through Barr to set up a time for Mueller to testify. Can Barr keep Mueller from testifying? Not if Mueller is no longer a DOJ employee, I hope.

  35. P J Evans says:

    The afterlife I’m hoping Barr gets:

    (Short version, for those who won’t go there: Barr wakes up after death, up to his neck in flames, and realizes Dante was right: there is a Hell, with levels of punishment.
    He sees Tr*mp a little way off, only up to his hips in flames, and wonders why Tr*mp is so much better off. Tr*mp leaves off playing with his (equally dead) phone, and replies “I’m standing on Mitch. Say, have you seen Lindsey anywhere?”

  36. OldTulsaDude says:

    Apologies for straying OT, but it occurred to me that Michael Cohen heading to prison tomorrow might tempt Individual-1 to act in the next few days to commute the sentence of Manafort as a message/reward.

    If that were to happen, could the hung jury charges that the SCO has in its pocket still be retried?

  37. Theresa says:

    “That bloated grey mass seated in the witness chair before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week is a revenant.” Good one!!
    My take on him: It was interesting to watch Barr on TV, as his bloated and disheveled self was falling all over the table, appearing unable to sit up straight or even sit still. He kept resting his head on his hand as if his head was going to fall off. He looked wrinkled and unkempt. He came across as some drunk guy pulled off the street by local cops, mumbling incoherently about the meaning of the word “suggest”. He was smirky, disrespectful, condesending and contemptuous. But worst of all, his utter disrespect and disregard for Mueller and his teams work was unconscionable. He will NEVER outlive that disgrace. Barr has probably won the title for the most odious sycophant to Individual1. The stench will stay with him forever.
    And no, I don’t really feel any better for writing that.

  38. galljdaj says:

    I just received word, that President Mad. nominated me to be President! replacing President Trump, and will be sending the Recommendation to Legislators to pass legislation allowing him to proceed in replacing President Trump..He also says Americans need a ‘working man/woman’ President.
    By God, he’s right, so I’d do it. Americans need there own President rather than the one the Billionaires got.

  39. Ewan says:

    Staying in mysteries and ghosts…any update on the mystery appelant who wouldn’t appear before a grand jury?

  40. Tom says:

    Thinking about President Trump attending ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day during his three-day state visit to the U.K. next month and the fact that Queen Elizabeth has seen more military service than he has as a mechanic and truck driver during WWII in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service.

    • MattyG says:

      And how he skipped the WW1 centenary commemoration at Belleau Wood to honor our first AEF war dead – because it was raining… Unforgivable.

      • P J Evans says:

        and apparently not even raining hard – it was more like a light drizzle, I heard, the kind of thing where the rest of us have a raincoat and an umbrella, and don’t stop doing stuff.

        • e.a.f. says:

          his hair, his hair, his hair. Trump just can’t get his hair wet. His make up would run off. People would see the emperor with no make up.

    • Eureka says:

      Next year will be even worse. As I’d noted over SOTU, there’s much with this POTUS (and this sweep of ~year-long anniversaries re ’44-’45) that I cannot abide. From various Operations to the liberations of major stalags and camps (while he inters people in our name) to VE Day…

      And wtf will he and his ‘base’ do April 30th?

      • P J Evans says:

        I knew he wasn’t working at the WH. (I don’t think his actual employer matters for this, as long as it isn’t the WH or the Trump companies.)

        • P J Evans says:

          And now the WH is trying to block Mueller from testifying. They’re using the excuse that it’s a “closed matter”. Like that’s going to fly….

          • Tom says:

            Well, if it’s a closed matter and the President did nothing wrong in 2016, people should start asking Republicans how they plan to work with the Russians in 2020. Have they arranged a debriefing meeting yet to discuss with the Russians what worked in 2016 and what didn’t? Perhaps the Trump team could give the GRU some tips on refining their social media disinformation campaign, and to avoid needless duplication, why not just let the Russians organize all of Trump’s rallies and other events. Why should American political campaign donors be expected pay for such things if the Russians are willing to do it for a price to be determined at some point in the future? How much office space is the RNC setting aside for the Russians? How many Russian speaking staff are they hiring? I checked Amazon and you can already buy red baseball caps printed with the Russian equivalent of “Make America Great Again”. Would be great if crowds started wearing them to Trump appearances. And for music and entertainment at Trump rallies, how about the Osipov Balalaika Orchestra?

        • bmaz says:

          No, Jones Day is significant:

          Two of the firm’s former lawyers are still working in the White House. That group includes William McGinley, a former Jones Day partner who is now assistant to the president and cabinet secretary, and David Morrell, previously a Jones Day associate who now serves as associate counsel to the president.

          Five former Jones Day lawyers are in positions at the Justice Department. Those include: Noel Francisco, solicitor general; John Gore, principal deputy assistant attorney general; James Burnham, deputy assistant attorney general, civil division; Michael Murray, deputy assistant attorney general, antitrust division; and Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general of the civil rights division.

          Gregory Katsas, a former Jones Day partner, is now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Former Jones Day partner Chad Readler, who has served as principal deputy assistant attorney general in the civil division, has been nominated as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

          • P J Evans says:

            They apparently think that they can claim “executive privilege” without having to actually assert it properly. IANAL, but it might fly with the Senate.

  41. OldTulsaDude says:

    I read today David Frum’s article on why Individual-1 might be afraid of releasing his taxes – to me, the seemingly obvious answer is that he is terrified that a forensic analysis could expose criminal tax evasion or money laundering. I can’t imagine another scenario that would cause such fear of exposure.

    • P J Evans says:

      Maybe fear of being exposed as having a much smaller fortune than he wants people to believe. (I’m sure it’s much less than a billion, possibly just a few hundred million.)

      • Jockobadger says:

        Right P J – And I wonder how much of what $$ is actually there belongs to tr*mp and how much belongs to Oleg, Ivan, Sergei, et al. He may be worried about more than simple exposure as a fraud (which we all know he is) and may involve fear of a polonium Big Mac.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        I truly doubt he is concerned about that. Remember, he has a record of lying about his wealth and being found out by his ghost writers and in depositions. His base would not be concerned.

        However, if there were evidence that the properties he owns were actually paid for by “loans” from oligarchs and Individual-1 only looked on paper as the owner, then the criminal element of money laundering, conspiracy, and tax evasion comes into play.

        I am pretty sure Individual-1 feels he can manipulate and win any PR war about his wealth; what terrifies him is being placed in handcuffs – and not by a porn actress.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Thanks OTD. You’re right of course and I was sort of kidding around with that last bit (sort of.) I shouldn’t have because it’s not funny. Anyway, should’ve included a /s. I hope I live to see the day he’s cuffed.

          • P J Evans says:

            … or, preferably on live TV, run down, netted, tranquilized, and wrapped in a straitjacket, before being loaded into an ambulance for a trip to a locked-room medical facility.

            • Jockobadger says:

              LOL – thanks P J – needed that today.

              Just like on Daktari! Hari Rhodes throwing the net.

  42. punaise says:

    I went to Mexico for a news-ignoring week and thought I’d come back to everything all tidily fixed, democratic institutions restored, rule of law, etc.

    Silly me: didn’t quite work out that way.

  43. Molly Pitcher says:

    punaise, maybe this will lighten the mood. The NYT is claiming they have a decades worth of the Electoral College President’s tax returns, from 1985-1994. Not looking pretty for that Forbes Richest list anymore….tsk tsk tsk.

  44. P J Evans says:

    Current headline at SFGate, worth a laugh:
    “Trump Campaign Blasts Scammers ‘Filling Their Own Pockets’ Off His Name”

    I have to admit that my first thought was “Of course, they hate having competition.” (It’s about David Bossie’s group.)

  45. punaise says:

    Housekeeping question, maybe I missed the memo: is comment formatting gone forever? (Embedded links, quote indents, etc.). It used to come and go – c’est la vie – but I haven’t seen it for quite some time.

    • bmaz says:

      Commenters bitched, up one side and down the other, about “the reply button” and inability to nest comments.

      And, we tried to respond, and, yet, here we are. Now that is a problem too??

      Welcome to what we deal with daily. And you still have no idea whatsoever of the scope of it.

  46. fpo says:

    “What Happened to All the Jobs Trump Promised?”

    [ https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/trump-job-promises ]

    “Since the election, Trump has made 35 claims that companies would create 8.9 million jobs in the U.S. thanks to his policies and actions.”

    “The bottom line: Only 797 jobs are attributable to Trump, according to the companies that did the hiring.”

    C’mon…what were you expecting from the world’s biggest loser? Err, liar. Anyway, informative article from Propublica – with graphics even a trumper would understand. I think. And the kind of news swing state voters need to hear.

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