Bill Barr’s Screed: Blindness about Current Threats

A lot of people are talking about the intemperate speech that Bill Barr gave to the Federalist Society yesterday. I’ll leave the detailed unpacking, about both its legal and historical claims, to others. To me, I find it unsurprising from a guy who used to be a serious authoritarian attorney but who has rotted his brain for the last two decades watching Fox News.

Obviously, Barr makes claims about “progressive” politics while ignoring that some things he celebrates — such SCOTUS letting conservatives gerrymander their fellow citizens out of representation — show that Republicans, not “progressives” are the ones “willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications.” Relatedly, Barr absolutely disappears all trace of conservative opposition to Trump (or, for that matter, any other opposition aside from those who adopt the term “resisistence”), and they’re the people who actually fit the description of “conservative” that he imagines he can still claim.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise.  We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing.  This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard.  The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized – that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?

Donald Trump’s Republican Party is no longer conservative, in any way, and it is sheer denial for Barr to think he merits this moniker any more.

Given that fact, I’m amused, reading the speech, by the possibility that Barr’s own actions may (or may not) bring about the state he claims to fear, with the Executive actually being reined in. It is his own hubris, in fact, that poses the risk here.

I’m also struck by how he admits that his job is to “carry into effect the laws passed by the Legislature,” because it is here that Bill Barr, personally, has failed this country.

To be sure, Executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed by the Legislature – that is, applying the general rules to a particular situation.

Congress passed (and the Executive approved) a law requiring entities to share information that the Federal Election Commission to do his job. This is a law that Barr’s DOJ continues to enforce. But his own DOJ broke the law by failing to share the whistleblower complaint with the FEC.

Congress passed (and the Executive approved) a law requiring Inspectors General to share whistleblower complaints with Congress within stated timelines. Barr’s DOJ broke that law, and in the process allowed the President to continue to extort Ukraine when Congress should have had warning.

Congress passed (and the Executive approved) the Budget Control Impoundment Act, a means of enforcing their power of the purse. If the President fails to spend money appropriated by Congress in the way they intend it to be spent, he must inform them, and provide them a timely way to override his actions. This is a crime that lies at the core of the impeachment investigation, but Barr has done nothing to pursue action even against Mick Mulvaney, who admitted that the Administration violated the law, to say nothing of the President.

Bill Barr complains that Congress is spending too much time conducting oversight and not enough time legislating (though he should take this up with Mitch McConnell, because the House is getting plenty of legislating done). But meanwhile, he has failed to do his duty, as he himself describes it.

But the most striking part of this speech is how he ends it. He suggests that the best moments in history (including Americas genocide of Native Americans and imperialism) have been accomplished through robust Executive power.

At every critical juncture where the country has faced a great challenge –

– whether it be in our earliest years as the weak, nascent country combating regional rebellions, and maneuvering for survival in a world of far stronger nations;

– whether it be during our period of continental expansion, with the Louisiana Purchase, and the acquisition of Mexican territory;

– whether it be the Civil War, the epic test of the Nation;

– World War II and the struggle against Fascism;

– the Cold War and the challenge of Communism;

– the struggle against racial discrimination;

– and most recently, the fight against Islamist Fascism and international terrorism.

One would have to say that it has been the Presidency that has stepped to the fore and provided the leadership, consistency, energy and perseverance that allowed us to surmount the challenge and brought us success.

He may have a point about some of these, especially the Civil War and Civil Rights.

Except Bill Barr appears to have zero clue what the biggest current threats to the country are. There’s no mention of climate change, of course, but President Trump has undercut efforts to respond to that emergency.

Closer to home for Barr, there’s a mention of what he calls “Islamist Fascism,” but no mention of white supremacist terrorism, which the FBI considers an increasingly grave threat. The President Barr enables fuels that terrorism, in large part because no one will rein in his worst behaviors.

Finally, there are the threats to our sovereignty posed by the ability of foreign powers — and Russia is just one — the buy up or compromise our politicians, starting with the President, and set US policy in ways that harm this country. This is the threat that Barr not only denies aggressively, but fosters, by flying around the world to find foreign propaganda to inject into our criminal justice system.

It may be true that some of our greatest moments as a nation were shepherded by a strong Executive. But in this particular case, the Executive that Barr is enabling is accelerating three of the greatest threats to this country. And making Trump stronger only exacerbates those threats.

151 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The America of the Robber Barons was not the America of the Civil War or the pre-steam canal age, let alone the America of the founding fathers – and their slaves. With rare exceptions, the Robber Barons were pikers compared to the tech and finance capitalists of today.

    Barr’s inclusion of “the struggle against racial discrimination,” as an example of the success owed to a strong executive seems to be snark. He’s correct that Johnson made things happen JFK probably could not have done. But his success owed as much to the legislature agreeing with him as to his ability to twist arms. The motivation for their joint effort was also partly the one that FDR put to good use: concede this much or more will be wrested from your cold hands. In short, progress was made by the collective effort of many people.

    Loss of that joint effort can easily lead to the loss of heady gains: the Supreme Court’s recent gutting of civil rights legislation is a good example, one that Barr, Trump and their cohort joyously celebrate.

    The American government needs to upgrade itself as the society underpinning it changes. Barr would resist that change to keep power in the executive’s hands – and to keep his patrons and their party in power, however small their numbers and antisocial their purposes.

  2. rip says:

    Quoting Barr: ” We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing. ”

    And the interpretation of “proper balance” is left totally in the hands of Barr and Associates? No room for congress or the courts?

    “To be sure, Executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed by the Legislature – that is, applying the general rules to a particular situation.”
    Except when they don’t meet this perverted executive’s vision or his personal attorney (Barr)’s direction. (Can’t remember what ghouliani’s title is anymore.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Authoritarians are always interested in maintaining, “the proper balance.” But they shy away from what that looks and how they compromise interests to arrive at it. Decree from on high is more descriptive of their proper balance.

    • skua says:

      There is the question of just what Barr is prepared to do in the short-term to achieve those worthy long-term goals.

      Eugenics and genocide have been positioned by others as necessary short-term unpleasant steps towards worthy long-term goals.

  3. Katherine M Williams says:

    FDR was a strong president who make the most and best changes (New Deal) to the USA, and led a strong war effort that succeeded in conquering two vicious enemies. But I kinda doubt Barr and his cadre admire and want to emulate Roosevelt. Their admired leaders are Hitler and Stalin.

      • Tom says:

        I sympathize entirely. Some days it’s hard to use a screwdriver or other handtools. I understand now why they design can openers and other kitchen gadgets with those big, sponge rubber handles.

    • BobCon says:

      And the dumb history Barr is promoting overlooks that Congress was active during WW2. They held tons of oversight hearings looking into allegations of waste and fraud. They took their role as appropriators seriously. And this even more true in other periods like the Cold War.

      Barr and the Federalists want to obliterate our history in support of their march toward radical right wing authoritarianism.

      • timbo says:

        That is the danger. The premises Barr raises doesn’t do one whit to improve the standard of living for average Americans. It doesn’t say anything about educating the populace. And, it pointedly ignores the founding of the Constitution itself, a document that was not written by one man but by many experienced politicians, radicals, revolutionaries (, smugglers, drunkards, philanderers), etc as a group to form a system of government that would be stable enough to withstand the strains of decades and now centuries of tension and change in the relations of human societies. This is not something one person could have really hit upon upon their own. Barr fails to see the beauty of widely representative deliberative bodies, jumping willingly into the fallacy of some mythical “man of action” being the epitome of human progress…

  4. BobCon says:

    Of course, the civility police aren’t up in arms over the Federalists. Crushing progressives is perfectly civil. Complaining about it is not.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      Man… every time I see that name – Federalist Society – in print, my mind automatically respells it as ‘Feudalist Society’… somehow seems more accurate, no?

      And the next image that comes to mind is the ‘May I have another’ fraternity paddling scene from Animal House…

      This is a group of people I want absolutely nothing to do with…

  5. Eureka says:

    This really hit the spot, beautifully-said and timely.

    May these general times continue to be Burning Man for conservatives (‘find yo’self’ and all).

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Eureka, I’m so sorry about your Mom. Loss can be even more difficult around the holidays. The words you left on a previous post were poignant and insightful and certainly hold true with respect to my own experience.

      It’s sometimes said that a person’s life flashes before them when they pass. I think this might also be said for someone who suffers the loss of a loved one. The mind and heart seek to integrate the past, present and future. Please know that I wish you a peaceful path forward. And apologies for placing this here instead of the other post (which I seemed to have lost track of.)

      • Eureka says:

        SL, you always have the most lovely surprises with your words, thank you so much. The holiday deaths is an ongoing ritual in my family, and mom just moved it back before Thanksgiving (meaningful because I really wanted to make her a nice Thanksgiving dinner).

        My life _is_ flashing before my eyes and I am loving it so far, all the small, real moments– for lack of a better way to put it. A neighbor from when I was like three gave an online condolence, and I could remember– but is she the blonde lady who we baked bread with one day, tossing dough in the air, or the brunette? Only mom (and this lady, if I track her down) would know. I am focused of late on the promise of new life, though of course that will sally soon enough.

        Again, thank you.

        • Ruthie says:

          My condolences.

          My youngest brother died a few weeks ago at the age of 46. He has two young children. Yet the world continues to turn while I feel caught up in a whirlpool of grief. It’s hard knowing that to most people it’s just another November.

  6. dc says:

    “Except Bill Barr appears to have zero clue what the biggest current threats to the country are. There’s no mention of climate change, of course, but President Trump has undercut efforts to respond to that emergency.”

    I think they all know exactly what the biggest threats to America are. They require a corrupt unitary executive to profit off these threats.
    Without checks and balances, everyone blessed by Trump is free to profit like sugar-drunk kids in a Chuck-e-Cheese ball pit from corrupt deals- from energy extraction to arms sales to real estate to rigged elections.

    Bill Barr and all the Trump sycophants have bought in on a (thus far) winning formula for perpetual, unchecked power and profit.

  7. P J Evans says:

    I was seriously disturbed by his claim that Congress has taken power away from the Executive. He should be required to detail exactly how and when, because in my lifetime the Executive has been taking power from Congress, and Barr has had a large role in that.

  8. harpie says:

    Adam Schiff on current threats:
    12:54 PM – 16 Nov 2019

    Schiff: “The most profound threat to democracy today is not from Russia … The most grave threat to the life and health of our democracy comes from within, from a president without ethical compass. Without an understanding of or devotion to our Constitution.” Via The Hill [VIDEO]

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Schiff should have added that the callow support by the Republican party of a President without ethical compass is the problem. The Republicans are giving Trump this power by not fulfilling their Constitutional duty to be a check and balance on the Executive Branch. They enable him to be the head of the parade, instead of the lone voice wandering in the wilderness.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          I keep finding myself trying to dial back the hyperbolic language because I am so angry I don’t want to come across as crazed as I feel. Plus, with things getting more outrageous, day after day, I don’t want to run out of ways to express my indignation/ appalled/outrage/fury as it gets worse

  9. Tom says:

    Please excuse the long excerpt, but I happen to be reading about the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 and came across this passage concerning the origins of the impeachment process in the English Parliament of the 14th century during the Hundred Years War:

    “Equally fundamental was the principle, established during the early years of Edward III’s campaigns in France, that taxation could only be imposed with the consent of the king’s subjects represented in parliament. This gave the House of Commons, in particular, the leverage to hold the king to account and to demand reforms … [including] … that the king’s mistress, chamberlain, household steward and a coterie of rich London merchants should be tried and sentenced by the lords in parliament on charges of financial corruption and illegal profiteering at the king’s expense. This innovation, later known as impeachment, meant that royal councillors and servants were no longer accountable solely to the king, but were also legally answerable to his subjects represented in the public forum of parliament.” — from “1381: The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt” by Juliet Barker published 2014.

    I think we can gather whose side Bill Barr would be on.

    • Sandwichman says:

      Although this point may seem arcane and pedantic, it is actually incredibly important. The peasants’ revolt was put down but the common law principles that eventually evolved in response to it are the foundation of the principle that the common people, and not just the nobility, have political rights. The philosophical arguments go back to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas in their discussion of ‘epieikeia’ (equity) and ‘nociva communitati’ — actions that are harmful to the commonalty, that is to say the commoners.

      What Barr appears to be advocating, then, is unqualified obligation of obedience to the sovereign — nullification of not only of the U.S. Constitution but of its foundation in three centuries of English common law tradition.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        I agree with you, but for DisBarr, that is the word of man versus the word of God. I tried to do some research to see if he was educated by Jesuits. What I did find was that his father was born a Jew, and converted to Catholicism. His mother was Irish Catholic.

        My experience has been that there is no one as doctrinaire a believer as a convert. Perhaps this is the origin of DisBarr’s belief in the unitary executive, because he grew up with one.

        • Eureka says:

          My experience has been that there is no one as doctrinaire a believer as a convert. Perhaps this is the origin of DisBarr’s belief in the unitary executive, because he grew up with one.

          Doubly spot-on.

          • Mooser says:

            If there is anything American Evangelicals are hungering for, it’s to be led into the theocratic future by elite Opus Dei Catholics.

            • P J Evans says:

              They agree on some doctrines, mainly the ones that will keep women under the control of men. After that – even the fundies don’t agree on everything, and I have no desire to go back to the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries.

            • Eureka says:

              Agree, Mooser and PJ, these times are weird. As PJ points, common ground is always about the wimmin.

              Control the women, control the world and all.

  10. klynn says:

    “…This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard…”

    That is pure bull Bill Barr.

    Now if that read “my rule of law” then Bill would get points for telling the truth.

  11. Dc says:

    This whole argument about impeachment going against the will of the people…. some portion of the people who voted for Trump did not do so knowing he would engage in corrupt and illegal acts. The constitution provides that impeachment exists to rectify that mistake.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, exactly. And you do not even have to agree with the actual result of impeachment to say that. Thank you for so noting.

    • Greg Hunter says:

      The Constitution is a fantastic document as we can express “our better angels”, or not…

      It was the best attempt at setting up a process where people could work out the issues and is working even as our world transitioned into the industrial age. Our government is astonishing, actually, for one run by the people, for the people With that said, the original arguments have not changed.
      Resources, Religion and Relationships.

      The Declaration and the Constitution set the Preamble and Vision, while the Electoral Process was a way of making all parts of the Country share in the conversation in picking our political proxies in an age where communication was slower, but robust at the local levels.

      I wish we would have tried Madison’s original idea of having the Governors appoint the Senators and the people elect a Representative, whom are charged with picking a President. I really see this original Electoral College process as putting more focus locally of what these figures are doing. I think it would bring back more local reporting as well as have the benefit of instituting term limits. We would focus a great deal of attention on our Representative and Governor, while exterminating the possibility of the zealots from aligning to elect a demigod.

  12. Katherine M Williams says:

    Barr’s speech to Federalist Society: “The republican philosophy, the noble philosophy of Greed, Hatred and Racism, all centered in indisputable power of a single Ruler (such as FakePresident Trump), is a philosophy based upon the Holy Patriarchal Rule of GOD; it is the only “true” philosophy that should exist in the world. Ergo: democrats and liberal are the REAL traitors! I rest my case!”

  13. Glacier says:

    In case anyone forgot, Nixon’s AG ended up in prison, which is where Barr hopefully will pass his remaining years on Earth.

    After his tenure as U.S. Attorney General, he served as chairman of Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign. Due to multiple crimes he committed in the Watergate affair, Mitchell was sentenced to prison in 1977 and served 19 months.

    On February 21, 1975, Mitchell, who was represented by the criminal defense attorney William G. Hundley, was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison for his role in the Watergate break-in and cover-up, which he dubbed the “White House horrors.” As a result of the conviction, Mitchell was disbarred from the practice of law in New York.[55] The sentence was later reduced to one to four years by United States district court Judge John J. Sirica. Mitchell served only 19 months of his sentence at Federal Prison Camp, Montgomery (in Maxwell Air Force Base) in Montgomery, Alabama, a minimum-security prison, before being released on parole for medical reasons.[56]

    • BobCon says:

      Trump’s co-conspirators should also remember the example of Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, et al — at the end they begged Nixon for pardons, but Nixon was too worried about how pardons would affect his own case, and they all went to prison.

  14. Matthew Harris says:

    William Barr is puzzling to me. He is probably currently the hardest thing for me to understand as far as anyone’s motivations go.

    What I say might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but it basically represents where I am coming from. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and I have never met people like William Barr. The Pacific Northwest actually has its share of conservatives, but they are mostly very hard rural, very evangelical Protestant, and often libertarian or preppers. They usually deliberately separate themselves from what they see as mainstream society.

    So what is hard for me to understand is…William Barr grew up in New York City. He went to Columbia University. His father was a professor at Columbia. I have little to no experience with people who come from urban areas, went to good universities, and are espousing the ideas that Barr is. I mean, I knew libertarians or people who were being conservative to be rebellious, but I didn’t know any “establishment conservatives”, I didn’t even really know that was a thing.

    In Barr’s speech, he seems to have somehow stumbled upon Kant’s categorical imperative. That is great. “Act in such a way that your actions could be generalized to everyone”…that is a sterling moral idea. But what does that mean to Barr? I am trying to think up a line between the Critique of Practical Reason and looking into Trump’s face and thinking “it is my moral duty to let this man do whatever he wants”.

    As far as I can figure it out, it is just normal for middle and upper class kids in the Northeast to learn these types of things, to have access to culture and thought, and they are just like learning to tie a tie—just an external skill, with no internal thinking about what it means.

  15. Frank Probst says:

    It shouldn’t have surprised me, but the zealotry in that speech was so far of the charts that it made stop and realize that he’s even more dangerous than I thought he was.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Did you mean senior Opus Dei figure Bill Barr or were you commenting that fundamentalist toady Mike Pompeo is an equal threat to the Union? Either one could seriously damage American interests at home and abroad.

        Simply picking up the pieces after Trump will be inadequate. We will need to define and create a new normal that works for average Americans. A dreamy, bipartisany, thousand points of Delaware banking is not gonna do it.

        • alfredlordbleep says:

          Another slick Willy former Rhodes scholar like Buttigieg is just what technocracy, plutocracy or establishment types dial-up, eh?

        • Frank Probst says:

          I was talking about Barr. I’ll comment on Pompeo on this thread, too, but I thought that Barr’s insistence that religion is required to be a good person was just jaw-dropplingly inappropriate. He’s the Attorney General. His beliefs, as he’s articulated them, could easily be the deciding factor in whether or not someone gets investigated or indicted. He was WAY out of line.

          • milestogo says:

            It’s also jaw-droppingly false as has been proved a thousand times. Christopher Hitchens whom I did not always agree with but greatly respected was a master at picking apart this “religion is necessary to be a good person” nonsense.

          • P J Evans says:

            If you require rules imposed from outside to behave in ways that are moral and ethical, you don’t have either morals or ethics.

      • Frank Probst says:

        Pompeo’s arc has been one of the saddest profiles in cowardice in this whole story. He refused to issue a statement saying Yovanovich was smeared by Giuliani, and to my knowledge, he hasn’t made a single statement in support of the State Department’s people who have testified to Congress.

        I think Pompeo is one of those people who fervently believed that he was one of the good guys. That’s why he wanted Bill Taylor to fill in as acting-Ambassador after Yovanovich got ousted, as opposed to a Trump flunky. But as this scandal has unfolded, Pompeo has realized that he could have stopped the whole thing very early on by speaking out against Giuliani and his flunkies, and he didn’t. He could have issued a statement praising Yovanovich, and he didn’t. And he could have (and still can, any time he wants to) issued a statement praising the State Department officials who are now testifying in the impeachment inquiry, and he hasn’t.

        Every time he fails to act, it becomes clearer and clearer that he’s NOT one of the good guys. I think what’s happening now is that he’s convinced himself that he’s a passive player in this mess by not doing anything, as opposed to an active player who tried to manipulate Zelensky and/or is trash talking diplomats, so he’s not as bad as the other bad guys in this story. It’s getting harder and harder to hold on to that belief, as he’s lost the trust and respect of almost everyone who works at State. I see him as someone who was a relatively honorable man (that I disagreed with on almost everything) who’s pissed away all of his honor by sitting on the sidelines and watching all of this happen, when it was his job to speak up, all because he doesn’t want to anger Trump, and he’s doing it because he’s afraid Trump will ruin his chances of getting elected to anything in the future if he speak up. That’s pure political cowardice, and I think everyone can see it.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Oh, you mean the Neville Chamberlain of the State Department ? I cannot see any way that Pompeo could be elected to anything after enabling Trump by his inaction.

        • harpie says:

          8:29 AM – 15 Nov 2019

          Mild mannered chuck Rosenberg never speaks like this. But he just put his foot up Mike Pompeo‘s ass [VIDEO] MSNBC

          Rosenberg, transcribed:

          “This makes me very, very angry. Secretary of State is Mike Pompeo. Like any leader, I think he has three obligations.
          First: to the public, the American people.
          Second, to the mission of his agency.
          And third, and just as important to the men and women who serve in that agency.

          His silence is deafening. It is an act of abject cowardice. I am astonished that somebody who went to West Point and was an Army officer does not have the spine to stand up for the people in his organization who are being denigrated by this President. That silence, as I said, is deafening, and it is disgusting. […]
          I know what I see. And what I see from him is a complete failure of leadership.

          I doubt he’s watching this show, and I doubt he’s listening to me, but if he was, I would tell him he’s a coward.”

  16. Scott says:

    A sinister apparatchik who would have been perfectly at home in the Third Reich, or Stalin’s regime.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your fourth user name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  17. rg says:

    “To be sure, executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed…”.
    I think Barr has this muddled. He should have said that executive duties include the responsibility for execution of the legislation. True, adequate power is needed for such execution, without which we have toothless law, a failure of bad legislation. Perhaps this muddled thinking is due to being drunk on power; apparently, this has not been noticed by the Fed.Soc. audience.

  18. Valley girl says:

    Calls for AG Barr’s Impeachment Intensify After ‘Lunatic Authoritarian’ Federalist Society Speech

    ~~The incendiary speech also prompted the widespread use of #ImpeachBarr and #DisbarBarr hashtags on Twitter–criticism that was only amplified after people realized Barr’s broadside against left-leaning lawsuits and subpoenas was promoted by the Department of Justice’s official Twitter account.~~

  19. drouse says:

    To be sure, Executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed by the Legislature –that is, applying the general rules to a particular situation.

    General rules? So in his view the laws are guidelines rather than specific things?

    • John Paul Jones says:

      They have to be, in the limited sense that it is not possible for legislation to encompass every particular way in which a crime might be engineered and carried out. So in spite of the specificity of many laws, when they are applied, there will always be slippage and a slightly imperfect fit to actual criminal actions. I think that’s probably all he meant.

      What I want to know is not what kingly nonsense he was spouting to the Feudalist Society, but whether or not his apparently heated discussion inside the White House the other night was really about how to deal with Horowitz’s report, as CNN speculated.

      • timbo says:

        Federal laws may not be enforced ex post facto. That’s in the US Constitution. AFAIK, this also applies to individual state laws as well.

      • Frank Probst says:

        My bet on the Horowitz report is that it’s going to be pretty negative with respect to a lot of the people Trump has fired, and the DOJ is looking into charging a number of them with various crimes. Andy McCabe is probably number one on the list.

        • Vicks says:

          Oh yeah the Horowitz report.
          Curious it’s taken so long to be release, it seems it’s been “any day now” for so long I can’t remember when they started saying the bomb was about to drop.
          If there is anything to it, perhaps it is being held to be launched against any incoming when/if things start escalating in the impeachment battle.
          Or maybe they correctly feel that releasing a dud will do more harm than good.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Sounds like the wraith Barr has strayed a bit away from his team’s hostility to Chevron, at least for R agencies.

  20. skua says:

    “the fight against Islamist Fascism and international terrorism.
    One would have to say that it has been the Presidency that has stepped to the fore and provided the leadership, consistency, energy and perseverance that allowed us to surmount the challenge and brought us success.”

    Bush/Cheney failed utterly here.
    The number of humans prepared to die to harm the USA in terror attacks, and the number of humans who seek to harm the USA in terror attacks, was increased by, in my estimation, a factor of 800 by their ignorance, greed, hubris and refusal to listen. All enabled by a legislative branch that was en-thralled and aquiescent.

    They structured the global relationships between peoples such that vastly increased risks and death tolls from Islamic terrorists will continue into the forseeable future.
    They set the ground for ISIS.
    And the consequent flood of refugees into Europe.
    They set in motion the deaths of 2 million Iraqis.
    They made the USA as a nation that tortures.
    They installed the Patriot Act.
    To do this took the lives of some 7000 US military humans. And the injuring and maiming of more.

    Anyone counting this as success has lost their perspective and bearings.

    • P J Evans says:

      They made it possible for Trmp to become president and put people like Miller, Nielsen, and Cuccinelli in positions of power.

  21. Vince says:

    “Bill Barr complains that Congress is spending too much time conducting oversight and not enough time legislating (though he should take this up with Mitch McConnell, because the House is getting plenty of legislating done).”

    Well over 400 bills. If stacked on the desk Moscow Mitch was sitting at, you wouldn’t even be able to see him.

  22. Mitch Neher says:

    EW wrote “. . . [T]he ability of foreign powers . . . [to] buy up or compromise our politicians, starting with the President, and set US policy in ways that harm this country . . . is the threat that Barr not only denies aggressively, but fosters, by flying around the world to find foreign propaganda to inject into our criminal justice system.”

    So far FUBarr has been waging a strictly covert, or clandestine, non-military war against The United States government. And even if FUBarr and Durham eventually enter outright fabrications, bought and paid for by foreign oligarchs, into evidence in a United States Court, it wouldn’t exactly be an “overt act of war.”

    I have no idea what to call it other than FUBAR. Heaven help America.

  23. Bay State Librul says:

    My heart breaks each time I listen to the words of William Barr.
    He is the most dangerous person in the Nation.
    My first reaction is anger, but anger never works.
    My second reaction is how do we stop him, since some very bad shit is coming down the pike.
    We live in shameless times.
    Albert Camus felt the same way after World War II.
    He writes, “We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more.”
    (reference: Maria Popova)

    Call to the DOJ: whistleblowers come forward. Follow the State Department and OMB.

    Help us disgrace Bill Barr, and his quest to plunge a sword into the Constitution.

    Thank you Emptywheel for giving light to the darkness.

  24. Tom says:

    OT but I see the President had an apparently unscheduled two-hour appointment at Walter Reed Hospital yesterday. I don’t know how reliable the “heavy” site is, but it was reporting Trump complained of “chest discomfort”. The White House reports this hospital visit was just to complete some parts of the President’s annual physical exam.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As reliable as any other statement coming out of Kellyanne’s shoppe. For starters, Trump seems to hate doctors: physicals demand that he drop the pretense he spends hours a day creating. “Appointment” was a nice touch for what appears to be an unscheduled urgent visit to inquire into painful symptoms.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Much of the Beltway would be relieved – as would his party and the majority of the country – were Mr. Trump to resign owing to ill health. It might be the only way for him to keep his business “empire” intact and to get out of Dodge without visiting Leavenworth.

      Kellyanne will have already prepared talking points urging the country to come together in healing and forgiveness. And it would give hundreds of pundits a reason to look up Schadenfreude.

  25. OldTulsaDude says:

    It’s easy to forget that Prosecutor General Barr is a religious zealot whose worldview is based on a strict father model. That emotive basis clouds his intellect and is most likely the basis for his infallible executive beliefs. It also explains why anyone outside of his sect is viewed as an enemy deserving to be subjected to the Republican Inquisition.

  26. Bobby Gladd says:

    apropos of The Founders:

    When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents . . . is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

    — Alexander Hamilton, 1792

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr’s pre-Thanksgiving FedSoc speech was not selling the standard BushCheney theory of an all-powerful unitary executive. Its ends remain secular. Barr is, instead, peddling something darker: an authoritarian religious fantasy, thinly cloaked in false conservatism and appeals to a gentle balancing of interests.

    There is nothing gentle, however, in Barr’s attack on progressives. It is absolute, compromise with them would be negotiating with the devil. He makes that clear as he projects onto progressives the attributes of his New Republicanism. From his speech, reframing his attack as a description of his cause:

    Religion is his politics. He is engaged in a “holy mission to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in [His] image.” He is willing to use “any means necessary to gain momentary advantage…regardless of… consequences.” Whatever means he uses are justified because he leads, “a virtuous people pursuing a deific end.” His description reminds me of a prophecy:

    “When the Jews return to Zion
    And a comet rips the sky
    And the Holy Roman Empire rises,
    Then You and I must die.
    From the eternal sea he rises,
    Creating armies on either shore,
    Turning man against his brother
    ‘Til man exists no more.”

  28. Molly Pitcher says:

    Things get messy in the Second Coming. Barr wants to be sure he is ascending to heaven, away from we the unwashed hordes.

  29. Mooser says:

    Barr keeps on ranting about something dangerous he calls “the Left”. Is “the Left” a contraction for Democrats?

    • Sandwichman says:

      “The Left” is a euphemism for all those who will not submit to the absolute authority of the capo de tutti capi.

      • Mooser says:

        So he makes all these accusations of imminent attack by “the Left”, but can’t give one name or point out any organisations?
        Anotherwords, anybody can become “the Left”.
        And WTF is all the BS about “secularists”? He’s never heard the phrase “no religious test” or “separation of church and state”?

  30. dude says:

    I think it is possible Barr has already looked past the current battle and is auditioning for a central role on Fox News. He could safely pontificate from there at no risk to himself.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Faux Noise is about money and staying on camera. Baloo Barr has millions and is happy to operate in the shadows. With a few differences, he wants what the FedSoc’s Len Leo wants: to remain an operator and influencer. His sights are probably set a lot higher than a gig on Faux Noise.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Poor Elise Stefanik. Her co-sponsoring the GOP’s trash Amb. Yovanovitch day has earned her Democratic contender in 2020 for NY’s 21st congressional district – Tedra Cobb – over $800,000 in contributions, over $500,000 in one day. She now has over 200,000 followers on twtr. And lots of good new publicity. Keep up the good work, Elise.

  32. Glacier says:

    Republican National Committee To Hold Annual Meeting At Trump’s Doral Resort

    Also see: ““The correct inquiry is not whether injunctive relief requiring the President to comply with the Constitution would burden him, but rather whether allowing this case to go forward would interfere with his ability to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed,” Judge Sullivan said.”

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s surprise visit to Walter Reed will be big news, once the reason for it leaks out. (Nothing accurate will ever come from Kellyanne’s shoppe.)

    The cover story that the visit was part of a previously scheduled “annual physical” holds no water. The visit was a surprise to Walter Reed staff. He’s not due for his annual until next February. He hates doctors and physicals. The idea that he would go early or do it in stages falls flat.

    Plus, the White House has extensive medical facilities. Apart from that the president lives there, it sees a vast number of important, but sick or elderly visitors. Existing WH facilities would have been more than adequate to deal with routine aspects of a complete physical.

    Something has happened to or scared Trump. The American public deserves to know what it is. Besides, the Russians probably already know it.

    • harpie says:

      What if someone just wants people to believe Trump is having some kind of physical problem? Maybe he’s [finally] being pressured to do a Nixon, but needs a “Dr’s excuse”.

      • BobCon says:

        He wouldn’t go along, but you can bet he’s looking hard for anyone on the right angling to push him out.

        There is still a very limited window for someone like Romney to launch a serious primary challenge. Normally I would say it was hopeless, but serious heart trouble might make a challenge viable.

        • P J Evans says:

          Also possible: gallstones (painful), or something like side-effects of diabetes.
          A question that was asked yesterday was, did anyone see him after the motorcade came back from Walter Reed?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Agree with BobCon. Trump’s resignation is a pleasant fantasy, it would solve a lot of problems, but it’s not in him to do it for any reason.

        It’s about half an hour by motorcade from the WH to Walter Reed in Bethesda. It’s only a few minutes by helicopter. The problem is you can’t get the president on a helo on the WH lawn in secret. If he was faltering, in a wheelchair or stretcher, it would be in pictures. Trump would never willingly allow the imagery to go public.

    • porthos says:

      trump has landed in the one place in this world where his every fantasy of infinite superiority and absolute power can come true and never be checked. It is the worst of all possible outcomes for a person so ill and untreatable to land in.Seems to happen a lot in this world these days.

      I watch marines guarding the doors of the oval office and the helicopters and Airforce I, impeccably uniformed and utterly still, and can imagine the donald soaking it in—all this at a snap of his fingers. He is a precious object and dutifully and impeccably served and protected . He has absolute authority and every whim and order is carried out with salutes and deference. It is intoxicating and addictive supporting and feeding his need for absolute authority and unquestioning obedience to orders.

      There is no political power or consequence that will persuade any different course from him. The last 3 years will be the template for whatever he manages to get up to 5 more years of this. It won’t get better because he won’t get better. He replays the same groove he has lived his life in with one big difference—he now has the power of the presidency backing up his pathology. This is bad. It can’t be discussed with him rationally and by pointing to inconsistencies and failures of policies. He cannot be corrected or shamed. He can’t learn. He won’t acquire the human qualities that make a great leader—self awareness and fairness.

      What we can hope for is something will betray him and convince him he is a flawed mortal at the mercy of human frailty. The trip to Walter Reed may be something we can work with. If he is betrayed by his own cells and systems, it may finally throw the fear of morality. mortality and the imperfection of his own being into his personality disorder.Uncontrolled dysfunction by his own body may shake things loose. Waiting to see what the docs come up with

  34. Cathy says:

    Apologies if the following musing has been hashed out in previous discussions…

    Who scrubbed what of which words when?

    According to Tim Morrison’s (former NSC’s Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs) deposition he accepted all of Alexander Vindman’s (NSC’s Director of European Affairs) edits to the Jul 25 call record…

    “Morrison also appeared to contradict Vindman’s view of the accuracy of the edited transcript, testifying that he had accepted all of his deputy’s edits.”

    “Vindman told investigators that the final record of the call left out Zelensky’s mention of ‘Burisma,’ an omission he viewed as ‘significant’ because it signaled he had been well briefed on what President Trump planned to ask him. (”

    Note: The article acknowledges that Morrison went on not to recall that Burisma was mentioned.

    (In separate reporting Mike Pence aide Katherine Williams appears to corroborate Vindman’s recollection of the explicit mention of Burisma.

    Is there a fact pattern for which we accept both Morrison’s and Vindman’s statements on the matter and yet find no mention of Burisma in the version of the call summary released on Sep 25th?

    At the time (late September) most reporting attributed the document release to the White House, some to “the administration.” I suppose the focus, justifiably, was the contents of the document rather than the chain of custody. However, at the time Reuters attributed the release to DOJ:

    “(Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday issued the following White House summary of a 30-minute July 25 phone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. (”

    Who scrubbed what of which words when?

    • Vicks says:

      I didn’t catch that quote but I did hear or see reporting that Vindman was the one that transcribed Trump’s call which caught me as odd.
      And deliberately wrong.
      Perhaps that’s a trumpian muddle of what you are asking?

      • Cathy says:

        Indeed! I definitely think the President’s supporters would wish to portray the call record as released to be a faithful record of the call. That could imply, the supporters could assert, that any discrepancies Vindman notes in his testimony are items he decided to introduce some time afterward for possibly nefarious purposes.

        That scenario – either Morrison’s right OR Vindman’s right – could be used to undermine the testimony of either man. It might also be a false choice because it demands an assumption that the text as released is the text as approved by the NSC folks.

        If DOJ released the memo (I assume it was appropriate for them to coordinate a review for redactions?) then it represents another actor who has had an opportunity to introduce changes to the released document.

        Something else that has been nagging me. We are encouraged to focus on who might have been “hiding” the document. Who caused it to be released? Were reluctant officials bullied by the President into releasing this evidence of his “perfect call” against their better judgement? Or was the President advised and assured that release of this “ellipsed” version would benefit him? If the latter, curious that its release, perhaps pitched as “getting ahead” of the whistleblower complaint, was instead the trigger for Speaker Pelosi’s formal declaration of impeachment. Was that outcome truly not anticipated?

        Inquiring minds may never know. 🤔 [Ach! Thou shalt rue the day I found the emoji doohicky!]

        • Vicks says:

          For whatever reason it seems Team Trump wants people to believe that Trump himself insisted on releasing the memo of the call against the recommendations of his team. I’m not saying he didn’t want it released my point is that claiming he demanded it is probably part of whatever defense they are whipping up.
          WHO on his “team” he “fought” to get it released is left to ones imagination, and another example of a vague throwaway leak that can be just as easily backpedaled as it can be used to build some bullsh*t story if needed.
          IMHO they threw the memo of the call out there (and called it perfect) because someone decided it was their best chance to control the narrative.

          • Cathy says:

            Agreed. To the mind of a crisis manager previous experience would indicate that the President is insulated by the question of intent. Everyone else who involved themselves in this batsh*t scheme could be considered expendable. Defenders of the Executive might actually welcome the chance afforded by exposure to shed those hapless few (provided they themselves are able to step far enough back to survive the fallout). How exhausting.

  35. Cathy says:


    Kuddos to @Anne back on 5 March 2019:

    “Here’s somebody who knows what Paulie was up to in Ukraine: … So, our Ambassador in Kiev, Marie L. Jovanovitch, looks like a no-nonsense, super competent professional who is trying to spread American values of democracy, transparency, justice, honesty in government and so forth… ( [click through to Anne’s comment for the link to Kyiv Post’s article on Yovanovitch])”

    …And on 23 March 2019 (alarm was registered in last entry before Comments section closed for the EW’s associated post, so some folks may have missed it):

    “This is sort of OT but what the heck is going on with a spat between Ukraine and the US? I read about this on Kyiv Post then went back and found it on the Hill: search for Lutsenko. The stuff on The Hill seems exaggerated but I found the same on Kyiv Post which has no axe to grind. Won’t try to summarize it because it makes my head spin and I’d probably get it wrong. ( [click through to Anne’s comment for the link to Kyiv Post])”

    For this and other reasons I so love this Commentariate, including for how you support one another (hugs @Eureka @Ruthie). Now that the kiddos made it to State Finals last week (yayband!) I’m free to monitor my favorite Lance of Light as it skewers The Darkness.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Hey, Cathy! If you are the same Cathy from the past (who IIRC, had an experience with Hurricane Katrina. And who also was great at lifting spirits,) Welcome Back! We missed you!

        • Cathy says:

          Hey SL! Great to be back and so glad to see you here! Volunteering in off-season behind-the-scenes Band Booster stuff keeps me snowed under Spring through early Nov. (the cooling effect of which comes in handy down here). I’ve just finished catching up on site posts since Spring Break; It’s comforting to see these good folks fighting the good fight. Vigilance!

      • Eureka says:

        Hey Cathy– I had put out a batsignal comment for you _awhile_ back, glad to read your unique voice again.

        Thanks for your kindness (Hugs).

        Also, I know nothing of these emojis or editors of which you speak (? blocked by browser stuff / add-ons for some people).

        • Cathy says:

          I found the emojis by right-clicking on the Leave A Reply text box. Abundant compensation for the Post Comment button actually posting my comments…without proofreading delay. (Apologies to all for my more flagrant typos – e.g., the first comment of @Anne’s I cited above was posted 15 March, not 5 March)

          You all have been in my thoughts. I allowed myself to scan Politico now and again, but I couldn’t afford the deep dives – these intoxicating deep dives – while attempting to maintain the Booster Mom persona. Even now I find out that although our competition season is over we’re still on the hook because the football team refuses to lose in play-offs…next stop NRG Stadium in Houston over Thanksgiving Break. yayteam!

          • Eureka says:

            Thanks for the tip of explanation: I still got nothing. Highly-limited old school, though, in a pinch ;)

            Yes, those personality parts seem mutually exclusive– glad your kids did so well and and the band plays on, though! Thriving is all good.

  36. BobCon says:

    Ken Vogel’s Ukraine reporting is getting a lot of unfriendly scrutiny, more than what has appeared here.

    The Washington Post had a rundown of the dispute yesterday, which is rare — there is a gentleman’s agreement among the DC press not to air dirty laundry unless the stink is unavoidable.

    Glenn Kessler (of all people) had a twitter thread attacking Vogel’s reporting, fairly savagely.

    And this piece by Salon writer Roger Sollenberger digs into Vogek’s reporting:

    It is clear that the NY Times has a problem on its hands, a problem worsened by ite editors, and like a lot of problems rooted in institutional failures, they are flailing about as it gets exposed.

    • Valley girl says:

      Many thanks for the two links, BobCon. Read Salon article and Kessler thread with great interest. I’ve followed Jim’s posts of late, and I remember him saying he was agnostic on Vogel at the time. This might change his view. I didn’t even have Vogel on my radar before. Now I do.

      • BobCon says:

        I wish a lot more reporters were more open about encounters with other reporters. Sollenberger seems to be working hard to be fair to Vogel, but he makes it pretty clear that Vogel is not good at connecting dots, not good at all, and his editors give him much too much slack, if not encouragement.

        • Valley girl says:

          Or maybe Vogel doesn’t want to connect the dots. The comments on the Kessler thread were not flattering. My conclusion after reading Sollenberger piece is that Vogel is a thin-skinned prima donna. and yes, the NYT enables him.

    • Rayne says:

      When putting together the timeline of Ukraine-related events, it was pretty obvious that Vogel relied on Giuliani as a key source — like hand-up-his-ass-like-a-puppeteer source. His May 1 article reads like the narrative Giuliani put together as the smear on the Bidens that Zelensky would be expected to parrot. (Apparently John Solomon at The Hill couldn’t do this after doing the smear work on Yovanovitch in March.)

      Vogel’s May 9 piece read like a goddamned press release for Rudy — as if Rudy had called Vogel and dictated what he wanted to see in print. Just read the article and look for sourcing. Given the article ‘announced’ Rudy’s intention to travel to Ukraine, it not only looked like a press release but as if Vogel was yet another channel communicating to someone what Rudy’s intentions were.

      And the piece was published two days after former Amb. Yovanovitch was recalled. Fortunately Giuliani called off the meeting on May after Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) formally requested on May 10 the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations investigate Giuliani’s influence operation in Ukraine.

      I’m going to avoid citing anything by Vogel in future posts so long as he’s covering anything related to Giuliani or Ukraine — unless the post is about Vogel’s work.

      I probably should have put that in a post, been waiting around to write something about Giuliani but I haven’t had a solid news peg on which to build.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks for the thread, I love how NYT only corrected _after_ the thread, claiming that as the date of their awareness of their falsehood. R-i-i-g-h-t.

      Reminds me, as always, of similar problems with Vogel & Haberman over the Manafort- Gates- Kilimnick (etc.) polling data transfer meetings, about which Marcy wrote extensively (incl. the How To Read post).

      • Eureka says:

        In fact I would love to read more about that someday in light of all that’s now known re the shapes of their subterfuges… tho suspect much of it relates at least partially to an uncharged or rather ongoing case…

    • Ruthie says:

      You’re not the first to speculate that’s Barr’s ultimate goal, but I sincerely doubt it. After all, the long term plan of the Federalist Society is to dominate the Supreme Court (for eternity?), and appointing a man of Barr’s age doesn’t further that aim. In fact, he appears to be such a true believer I bet even Barr himself wouldn’t question the need to appoint a young(ish) justice.

  37. BSChief says:

    Have to wonder if George Conway III (Board of Visitors, Federalist Society) was at the Mayflower? His take on Barr’s screed might be interesting…

  38. Desider says:

    The Civil War was a huge *failure* of US democracy and Constitutional law. That most Americans celebrate the guy who presided over internecine killing of over 600,000 Americans makes it harder to evaluate the performance of any President. The principle of slavery was abhorrent, as was the more persistent root of racism and our other discrimination, but our system couldn’t get rid of it through compromise and reasonable measures of legislation and enforcement.
    Lincoln didn’t start his battle to uphold human rights – he did it to stop citizens from peacefully leaving that imperfect union – codifying the drunk husband telling the bullied wife “you’ll leave when I tell you can leave” and smashing her head into the wall. Keeping Union rights to Southern forts in perpetuity was like a dozen Gibraltars, Macaos and Guantanamos, being akin to “you can leave, but you’ll never see your kids again”. English history in Ireland and Scotland provides some useful analogies – not pretty). That Lincoln smoothed over this disgrace with the admirable Emancipation Proclamation edict 2 years later (that didn’t free slaves in non-rebellious states, but did set the stage for post-war 13th-15th Amendments) only accentuates the “mistake” – in quotes, because I doubt if the North would have supported war just to free the slaves, and it’s still debatable whether the trade-off of 2 decades or so more of slavery was worth the mass slaughter – a trade-off most people never consider in depth with all its past and future repercussions (what *were* those supposedly noble ideas going into Iraq and Afghanistan? More Gettysburg addresses mocked up?)
    But what it did give us cement an appetite for the supreme executive’s power over a more distributed power sharing, further codified thru the 17th Amendment turning the States’ Senate representatives into “the people’s”, which in practice is another area for electoral and influence abuse lasting 6 years rather than 2 – but again, debatable as to its merits.
    While on the left we often mock “States’ Rights” due to right-wing abuse, it’s States’ Rights that lets California and others experiment with better environmental standards, gay marriage, legalized marijuana, ranked choice voting, and other needed reforms that were far past foreseeable prognosis of the Founding Fathers.
    That the shifting of population has perversely twisted the original reasonableness of an Electoral College – at one point protecting the North and new West from the whims of the extreme South -shouldn’t make us rush out to “fix” everything to opposite extremes.

  39. Vince says:

    In regards to Pooh Barr’s speech, former Bush White House ethics counsel Richard Painter tweeted:

    “Another lunatic authoritarian speech as Barr goes from attacking ‘radical secularists’ [at Notre Dame Law School] to one month later attacking the ‘resistance’ at [the Federalist Society]. Impeach Barr now!”

  40. earlofhuntingdon says:

    MSNBC doc explains that Trump is publicly known to be at “moderate risk” for coronary artery disease, for which he is under active treatment. He then says Saturday’s surprise visit to Walter Reed might be part of his annual physical.

    That assessment avoids the difference between a routine physical and treatment for an active disease. Neither addresses the surprise nature of Saturday’s visit. Given the high-stress job and the perception that heart disease is a vulnerability in an election, one would think the WH would shield even normal treatment behind its secrecy veil.

    • Rayne says:

      No fucking way was Trump’s visit to Walter Reed an advanced part of an annual physical. My spouse has heart disease, had a heart attack 10 years ago, has never had this much lead time between a physical and any other testing his cardiologist needed in advance. I can’t imagine why the U.S. government wouldn’t be able to produce whatever his doctor needed within hours of a physical.

      Is it possible he had a stress test? Maybe, but he wasn’t dressed for it and I don’t know that they couldn’t have done it in the White House. If he did have a stress test it suggests to me there were symptoms triggering the need for a test. White House communications don’t reflect a normal stress test situation, either, doesn’t reflect anything normal about this health care episode.

      Why would his doctor accompany him, after all?

      • Ruthie says:

        I heard on CNN last night that the type of tests the WH said he went for could have been performed at the WH medical offices – no need to go to a hospital at all. They lie readily, but not always (or often) well.

        • bmaz says:

          Unless the White House has a CT Scan device, that is bullshit. I still think they are lying though, because you set these appointments up ahead of time, but not three months ahead of time do you just wander in and say “I’m here!’

          • Eureka says:

            The loose money in our house, i.e. quick-draw reaction, was on an emergent CT — with contrast (for some color in the guess).

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Trump lies at the drop of a combover, he is obsessed with imagery, and he’s up for re-election. The WH is fully staffed for a wide range of routine and emergency medical situations.

        I agree, no way he hazarded an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed if he could have avoided it. Most of the doctors and staff there, unlike those at the closer GWU and G’town medical centers, are subject to military discipline. They keep schtum or else.

        Something there his Greatness and his court do not want the public to know. It might be in the Moscow papers, though.

      • P J Evans says:

        They only do things that fast if they think it’s an emergency. Otherwise, they’re going to schedule them in advance. (Some of my stuff gets scheduled three to six months out. And I’m in better shape that Trmp.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yea, I hope MSNBC’s doc was using an official rating, because coffee spew would be my take.

        Anecdotally, Trump would seem to be at “high risk” for coronary heart disease or stroke, given his age, obesity, diet, lack of exercise, high-stress job, and anger management issues.

        A hurry up visit to Walter Reed almost certainly resulted from an acute, painful symptom that needed immediate attention. Looking forward to reading about it in Pravda.

        • Eureka says:


          And it’s (perennially now) times like these when we have to trawl Julia Davis’s twitter to get a reverse on a read on what Moscow has to tell us.

          • Naargh Nargo says:

            The brief video clip available from several sources (incl. shows him striding rather rapidly towards his motorcade, carrying what looks like a folder. He’s only visible for a couple of seconds at most, though, but it’s enough to indicate he was at least walking without assistance. Guess we gotta stay tuned.

  41. sls642 says:

    I could go on for pages about Barr and how nuts he is. This is an area I worked in for many years at the state level. Pretty similar but most states have stronger checks on the executive branch than the feds have on theirs. Very unfortunate.

    It’s actually classic conservatism for the legislative branch to set policy, appropriate money and tell the executive how to EXECUTE what the legislative branch says. The Executive was intended to EXECUTE laws and policies, not make them. That is why it is called the EXECUTIVE branch. Duh! The President is not the King, dictator or autocrat except in Barr and his followers very twisted world.

    What Barr thinks is stunningly radical and dead wrong. People like him are the radicals and those who believe in separation of powers and the functions of a democratic, limited government are the actual conservatives. The Democrats have become the classic conservatives that the Repubs used to say they were. No longer.

    This “President is King” theory didn’t start with Barr. I remember when Scalia was confirmed it was amazing to me that anyone in the Senate, Republican or Democrat, would vote for him. Didn’t anyone read his opinions?? It was all there. What was wrong with these people?

    Of course, let’s not forget , they aren’t consistent either. What Barr and the rest of these radical Repubs really are saying is the President has this imaginary unchecked power as long as he is a Republican. That is the bottom line. Just ask Obama or Clinton or any number of Democratic Governor’s in states with Repub legislatures. I’ve seen it first hand in my state and read about it in many others. It’s actually all about maintaining power (and money) for the Repubs not about being a part of the legislative branch or caring about average voters. They are Repubs and that is it. Nothing else matters.

    They are the genuine radicals and that is how they should be labeled. Maybe Pelosi will finally understand this and start calling them what they are, radicals. And she would be 100% accurate. .

    • P J Evans says:

      I’d describe the GOP-T as reactionaries – they want to reset the country to some period they see as ideal – not that there ever was one like that – and they don’t care what anyone else thinks. Barr is an extreme example.

Comments are closed.