Tuesday, December 3, 2019

US NEWS & WORLD REPORT BEST STATES

Note:
RED vs BLUE

Washington 
 

 
-    1

New Hampshire

-    2

Minnesota

-    3

Utah

-    4

Vermont

-    5

Maryland

-    6

Virginia

-    7

Massachusetts

-    8

Nebraska
 
-    9

Colorado

-  10

Wisconsin

-   11

New Jersey

-   12

Florida

-   13

Iowa
 
-   14

North Dakota
  
-   15

Idaho

-   16

Georgia
 
-   17

North Carolina

-   18

California

-   19

South Dakota

-   20

Connecticut
 
-   21

Kansas

-   22

Delaware

-   23

Hawaii

-   24

New York

-   25

Rhode Island

-   26

Oregon

-   27

Missouri

-   28

Montana

-   29

Tennessee

-   30

Wyoming

-    31

Maine

-   32

Michigan

-   33

Arizona

-   34

Illinois

-   35

Indiana

-   36

Nevada

-   37

Texas

-   38

Ohio

-   39

Kentucky

-   40

Pennsylvania

-   41

South Carolina

-   42

Oklahoma

-   43

Alaska

-   44

Arkansas

-   45

New Mexico

-   46

West Virginia

-   47

Mississippi

-   48

Alabama

-   49

Louisiana

-   50

TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC BUT:

ADD RED   # S &
ADD BLUE # S

AS IN GOLF
LOW SCORE WINS:

RED    - 701
BLUE  - 574

LINK TO ORIGINAL REPORT


































































































Saturday, November 23, 2019

THE SOUND OF dt

He sues to hide his tax returns and confiscates your notes
He follows Putin’s orders and then tries to block your votes
He wants to build a wall around our border with filled moats
I fear we simply must be rid of dt

He grabs the nearest pussy and he cheats on all his wives
He breaks all laws and gets a pass; the man has many lives
On cheating, stealing, lying and ignoring rules he thrives
This creature is not fit rule in DC

I’d like to say a word in his defense
His ouster gets us Pence

How do you solve a traitor like this dt?
How do you get the Senate on your side?
How do you lose a creature such as dt?
And not allow Mike Pence his own free ride 

Many a thing he’s done and gotten away with
Making deals to get his family cash
But how do you get his fans
To see through his evil plans
How do you get this Teflon don to crash 

Oh, how do you solve the terror known as dt?
Vote ‘BLUE’ and end this evil man’s crime spree!

When you’re with him you’re confused
Out of focus and bemused
And you never know exactly where you are
Unpredictable as weather
He's as flighty as a feather
He's a snarling little demon! He's a scar!
He'd outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
He could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
He’s a gentile! He is wild!
He's a riddle! HE’S A CHILD!

He's a headache! He's a twit!
And he's a shit!


How do you solve a traitor like this dt?
How do you get the Senate on your side?
How do you lose a creature such as dt?
And not allow Mike Pence his own free ride 

Many a thing he’s done and gotten away with
Making deals to get his family cash
But how do you get his fans
To see through his evil plans
And get this putrid Teflon don to crash 

Oh, how do you solve the terror known as dt?
Vote ‘BLUE’ and end this evil man’s crime spree!

Friday, November 22, 2019

NAME THAT CRIMINAL

As head of the nation’s justice department he has departed from every legal norm to protect his lord and master from any hint of prosecution even though in his heart he knows the creature is guilty as hell. 

For a creature who spent his entire life with his head up dt's ass, rotting in jail would seem to be a lateral move for this albino toadywho is getting ready for a lifetimeof picking up the soap!

This man has used and abused his power to block any and all legislation that would help average citizens live healthy fulfilling lives even to the point of ignoring his own political party on legislation against the easy access to gun massacre killing machines. 

Sitting in his spider-like lair hidden from the sun and fresh air this ‘oxy’ moron and putridly rotund creature spins his web of lies on conservative talk radio egging on the uneducated to commit violence against righteous hard working Americans who see through his agenda. 

Airing his dangerous views daily on one particular television station this thing speaks mainly to the White House giving his talking points to be spewed at Hitleresque youth rallies thus making him almost as powerful as a president. 

This disgusting oily foreigner uses his obscene undeserved wealth to further corrupt the greedy dt family into looking the other way while he commits crimes against humanity. He is a regular ‘cut up’ when it comes to freedom of the press and journalists. 

Travelling the World running a shadow State Department this criminal has been making deals to benefit himself and dt. The bonehead claims he works Pro Bono while this Nosefratu look alike is sucking the blood out of Democracy. 

Whether hiding in the shadows of mommy’s apron strings or firmly up the rear of his boss this smiling hypocrite claims to be more religious than Jesus. 

Not able to get his way and start a nuclear war anywhere this mustachioed moronic miscreant hopes to make millions off a book deal that reveals what the world already knows about the idiot in the White House.

As long as you are upper class
Commit any crime, get a pass
But talk of his treason
Will give him a reason
To drive his bus over your ass!

Monday, November 11, 2019

BIG BIZ OVERCHARGES YOU $5,000 A YEAR

Consolidation is great for corporations; bad for almost everyone else. By David Leonhardt  Opinion Columnist 11 10 19

When Thomas Philippon moved to Boston from his native France 20 years ago, he was a graduate student on a budget, and he was happy to discover how cheap American telephone use was. In those days of dial-up internet connections, going online involved long local phone calls that could cost more than $10 apiece in France. In the United States, they were virtually free.
Philippon eventually got a Ph.D. in economics at M.I.T. and decided to stay here. He’s now a professor at New York University. And over the years, he has noticed something surprising about his adopted country: Internet usage is no longer a good deal.
Today, his parents pay about 90 euros (or $100) a month in the Paris suburbs for a combination of broadband access, cable television and two mobile phones. A similar package in the United States usually costs more than twice as much.
Figuring out why has become a core part of Philippon’s academic research, and he offers his answer in a fascinating new book, “The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets.” In one industry after another, he writes, a few companies have grown so large that they have the power to keep prices high and wages low. It’s great for those corporations — and bad for almost everyone else.
Many Americans have a choice between only two internet providers. The airline industry is dominated by four large carriers. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are growing ever larger. One or two hospital systems control many local markets. Home Depot and Lowe’s have displaced local hardware stores. Regional pharmacy chains like Eckerd and Happy Harry’s have been swallowed by national giants.
Other researchers have also documented rising corporate concentration. Philippon’s biggest contribution is to explain that it isn’t some natural result of globalization and technological innovation. If it were, the trends would be similar around the world. But they’re not. Big companies have become only slightly larger in Europe this century — rather than much larger, as in the United States.


 
What explains the difference?
Politics.


The European economy certainly has its problems, but antitrust policy isn’t one of them. The European Union has kept competition alive by blocking mergers and insisting that established companies make room for new entrants. In telecommunications, smaller companies often have the right to use infrastructure built by the giants. That’s why Philippon’s parents can choose among five internet providers, including a low-cost company that brought down prices for everyone.
In air travel, European discount carriers like easyJet have received better access to the gate slots they need to operate. The largest four European airlines control only about 40 percent of the market. In the United States, that share is 80 percent, and, as you’d expect, airfares are higher. Even Southwest Airlines has begun to behave less like a low-fare carrier.



The irony is that Europe is implementing market-based ideas — like telecommunications deregulation and low-cost airlines — that Americans helped pioneer. “E.U. consumers are better off than American consumers today,” Philippon writes, “because the E.U. has adopted the U.S. playbook, which the U.S. itself has abandoned.”
The European Union has created an impressively independent competition agency that’s willing to block mergers, like General Electric-Honeywell and Siemens-Alstom. In the United States, the process is more political, and companies spend vastly more money on campaign donations and lobbying. Lobbyists — and, by extension, regulators — justify mergers with dubious theories about money-saving efficiencies. Somehow, though, the efficiencies usually end up raising profits rather than lowering prices.
Whirlpool’s 2006 purchase of Maytag is a good example. The Justice Department rationalized the deal partly by predicting that foreign appliance makers would keep the combined company from raising prices. But Whirlpool later successfully lobbied for tariffs to keep out foreign rivals. Washers, dryers and dishwashers have all become more expensive.
The consolidation of corporate America has become severe enough to have macroeconomic effects. Profits have surged, and wages have stagnated. Investment in new factories and products has also stagnated, because many companies don’t need to innovate to keep profits high. Philippon estimates that the new era of oligopoly costs the typical American household more than $5,000 a year.




It’s a problem that should inspire bipartisan action. Some solutions feel conservative: reducing licensing requirements and other bureaucratic rules that hamper start-ups. Others feel progressive: blocking mergers, splitting up monopolies and forcing big business to share infrastructure.
There are signs that the politics of antitrust are shifting. Several Republicans, like Senator Josh Hawley, now talk about the issue, and many Democrats — not just Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but also Amy Klobuchar — do too.
But we have a long way to go. Too often, both parties are still confusing the interests of big business with the national interest. And American families are paying the price.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

DUMP THE MIDDLE MAN!

There's a commercial on TV where a cute young girl asks the question, "So what does the dishwasher do?" I ask a similar question, What do health insurance companies do? Oh, I know they repay some, key word 'some' of the money we lay out for our most expensive healthcare in the World but what do they actually do? For one thing they make fortunes for themselves and that's clear. Another thing they do is funnel a small amount of their ill-gained fortunes back to legislators who promise to continue the practice of allowing them to rape consumers. But unless and until our lawmakers change the entire system there is nothing we the people can do to stop the money drain on our savings. Without going back to the beginnings of the fraudulent laden healthcare insurance industry and pointing fingers at such evil uncaring creatures as Ronnie Reagan & friends we need to look at where we are now and see if there is a path back to sanity. One big question should start the ball rolling so that it trickles down to an end to the American frustration with our healthcare, How can we get rid of the useless middle man, aka the health insurance company? Not in any order here are a few areas we need to concentrate on: 1 - Government MUST negotiate drug pricing with WAY too big Big Pharma for our Medicare programs 2 - Congress should look into hospital pricing on all things from surgical and emergency services to billing for items such as aspirin. (In some cases they charge over $50 per pill plus extra added for the time an aide takes to administer it!) 3 - Aside from Medicare Congress must decide if it wants to allow the drug industry the luxury of charging Americans 40 times more than they do other countries such as Canada. 4 - Understanding the Research and Development costs are high Congress must allow the pharmaceutical industry some leeway on profits. That does not mean allowing them to gouge especially when a drug has been on the market for decades at a certain price and now it's being tripled or worse! 5 - Doctors should not be immune to the cost audits as some of them charge incredibly unreasonable rates for routine procedures. Those are the ones that currently appear on the "EOBs" (explanation of benefits) consumers receive from their health insurance companies. (When the initial charge submitted by the doctor is $2,760 but negotiated and agreed upon cost is noted as $175 and $20 is deducted for the original paid 'co-pay' then $100 is covered by the insurance plan and the balance of $55 going toward the year's deductible. And don't forget to pay your premiums on time or you may be liable for the entire $2,760 next time!) 6 - Stop allowing drug companies to flood the airways with commercials touting drugs whose benefits take up 15 seconds and the sped up reading of the warnings take the remaining 40 seconds. We banned cigarette ads as misleading and harmful - These should fall under the same heading! And what's up with, "Tell your doctor if you have …" SHOULDN'T HE/SHE KNOW? 7 - How about cutting back on expenditures for what Eisenhower called "The Vast Industrial Military Complex" and using those wasted billions on covering some of the costs consumers are hit with for their healthcare? 8 - Finally ban any member of Congress who has a say in our healthcare from benefitting from a personal or financial relationship WITH corporations in the healthcare industry! While this last point should be a 'no-brainer' it currently seems as though the opposite is a requirement!! (Do we really need to spend billions on more B-52 like bombers etc. for our armed forces when even the Pentagon says we don't?) 8a - END CITIZEN'S UNTED AND ALL CAMPAIGN DONATIONS FROM THE ENTIRE HEALTHCARE IDUSTRY! Getting the money out of campaigns and elections would go a long way toward fixing many of our problems in America! And because I realize none of the above will ever come to fruition or even be debated as long as the culprits have total control of Congress (one political party in particular) I ask that we at least tax the profits of the large corporations and remove their 'unfair to the rest of us' loopholes they get away with using to hide their illicit gains! Those of us at the bottom pay our fair share, why shouldn't they? Medicare medicare for all Americans health insurance

Monday, October 28, 2019

NY TIMES OPINION - FRIEDMAN ON dt

Al-Baghdadi Is Dead. The Story Doesn’t End Here.


By Thomas L. Friedman Opinion Columnist Oct. 27, 2019


President Trump boasts of defeating the Islamic State.
He's only showing how ignorant he is.

The killing of the founder and leader of the Islamic State by United States commandos operating in Syria should certainly further weaken the most vile and deadly Islamist movement to emerge in the Middle East in the modern era.

The world is certainly a better place with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead and a measure of justice meted out on behalf of all the women ISIS raped, all the journalists ISIS beheaded and the tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis it abused. Good for President Trump for ordering it, for the intelligence agents who set it up, for the allies who aided in it and for the Special Forces who executed it.

But this story is far from over, and it could have many unexpected implications. Let’s start at home.

President Trump was effusive in his praise for the U.S. intelligence agencies who found and tracked al-Baghdadi to the lair in Syria where he blew himself up to avoid being captured. In his news conference, Trump went on and on about just how good the men and women in our intelligence agencies are.

Well, Mr. President, those are the same intelligence agencies who told you that Russia intervened in our last election in an effort to tip the vote to you and against Hillary Clinton (and are still intervening). When our intel agencies exposed that reality, you impugned their integrity and quality.

And the same intelligence agencies who tracked down al-Baghdadi are the same ones who produced two whistle-blowers high up in your White House — who complained that you, Mr. Trump, abused the power of your office to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, touching off this impeachment inquiry.

And those same intelligence agencies whom you hailed as heroes for tracking down al-Baghdadi, Mr. Trump, are the same “deep state,” the same agencies and whistle-blowers whom your White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, just smeared as “radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.’’

So thank you, Mr. Trump, for clearing up this confusion. We now know that the same intelligence services who have been heroic in protecting us from those who want to attack our constitutional democracy from abroad are the same heroes who have stepped up to protect our constitutional democracy from within. Unlike you, Mr. Trump, they took seriously their oath to do both.

As for the future of the Middle East, let’s not forget that ISIS was the Sunni Muslim jihadist organization that emerged after President Barack Obama’s administration eliminated the previous holder of the worst-person-in-the-world title, Osama bin Laden. But al-Baghdadi’s death — a very good thing in and of itself — is not the end of our troubles in and from the Middle East. 

Trump’s effort to play down the significance of President Obama’s killing of bin Laden — while playing up his killing of al-Baghdadi as the key to creating the peace to end all peace — only shows how ignorant he is about the region.

ISIS emerged in 2014 as the product of three loose factions or movements, as I pointed out in a column back in 2015.

One faction comprised the foreign volunteers. Some were hardened jihadists, but many were losers, misfits, adventure seekers and young men who had never held power, a job or a girl’s hand and they joined ISIS to get all three. ISIS offered a paycheck, power and sexual release to men and women coming from closed societies or cultures where none of that was available.

ISIS’s second faction — its brains and military backbone — was composed of former Sunni Baathist army officers and local Iraqi Sunnis and tribes, who gave ISIS passive support. Iraqi Sunnis constitute about a third of Iraq’s population. They had ruled Iraq for generations, and many Sunnis in the Iraqi military were enraged, humiliated and frustrated by how the U.S. invasion of Iraq had overturned that order and put the Iraqi Shiite majority in charge.

ISIS also derived a lot of passive support from just average Iraqi Sunnis after Iran and pro-Iranian Shiites in power in Baghdad, led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — whom the Bush administration tragically installed — used their power to further abuse Iraqi Sunnis and keep them from jobs and out of the military.

For many Iraqi Sunni villagers under ISIS control, ISIS was just less bad than the brutality and discrimination they experienced under Iraq’s pro-Iranian Shiite-led government back then. Google “Iraqi Shiite militias and power drills” and you’ll see that ISIS didn’t invent torture in Iraq.

Fortunately, we and the Iraqis finally figured that out, and Iraq has a much better government today. But the U.S. keeps repeating the same mistake in the Middle East: overestimating the power of religious ideology and underappreciating the impact of bad governance.

As Sarah Chayes, who long worked in Afghanistan and has written an important book — “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security” — puts it: “Nothing feeds extremism more than the in-your-face corruption and injustice” that some of America’s closest Middle East allies administer daily to their people.

The third ISIS faction was composed of the true religious ideologues, led by al-Baghdadi. They have their own apocalyptic version of Islam. But it would not have resonated so far and wide were it not for the first two factors listed above.

And that leads us back to Trump and his foreign policy. Trump has never met a dictator he did not like. He is blind to the fact that the next al-Baghdadi is being incubated today in some prison in Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, whom Trump once actually called “my favorite dictator,’’ is not only rounding up violent Jihadists but liberal nonviolent journalists, activists and politicians. Their only crime is that they want to have a say in their country’s future and help to create an environment where they can realize their full potential — so they will not have to look for dignity, power, a job or a girl’s hand from extremist groups like ISIS.

When Trump praises Baghdadi as his favorite victim and el-Sisi as his favorite dictator, all he is doing is walking in place. We’re actually getting nowhere.

And that brings me back to Syria. Syrian Sunnis supported ISIS for the same reason Iraqi Sunnis did. Iran, the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia, the Shiite-Alawite Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and Russia have all collaborated to create a pro-Iranian Shiite minority government in Damascus. Of course they gave Trump a free pass to kill Baghdadi! His death just makes it that much easier for them to rule Syria without sharing power with the Sunnis. As long as that’s the case, there will be no stability there.

Finally, Trump kept going on and on in his news conference about how he, in his infinite wisdom, was keeping U.S. troops in Syria to protect the oil fields there so maybe U.S. oil companies could exploit them. He even boasted that while he was against the Iraq war, we should have taken over all of Iraq’s oil fields to pay for it.

This is disgusting talk, and again, a prescription for trouble in the future. If America has any role in the Middle East today, it is not to protect the oil wells, but to protect and enhance what I call the “islands of decency.”

These are places like Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan, Jordan, the U.A.E., Oman, Lebanon and the frail democracies in Tunisia and Baghdad. None of these are developed democracies; Oman, Jordan and the U.A.E. are monarchies. But perfect is not on the menu in the Middle East right now. And these countries do promote more moderate versions of Islam and religious tolerance, they do empower their women and they do encourage modern education.

These are the necessary but not sufficient antidotes to ISIS. They are worth preserving and enhancing in hopes that they can develop one day into something better for all their peoples. Just look at the democracy protests in Lebanon. You can see where the young people want to go.

Only Trump would boast of defeating ISIS and thinking that all that needs to be done now is to protect the Middle East’s oil wells and America’s favorite dictators — and not its wells of decency.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Who Is Bill Barr?

THIS IS TOO IMPORTANT NOT TO READ!


William Barr had returned to private life after his first stint as attorney general when he sat down to write an article for The Catholic Lawyer. It was 1995, and Mr. Barr saw an urgent threat to religion generally and to Catholicism, his faith, specifically. The danger came from the rise of “moral relativism,” in Mr. Barr’s view. “There are no objective standards of right and wrong,” he wrote. “Everyone writes their own rule book.”
And so, at first, it seemed surprising that Mr. Barr, now 69, would return after 26 years to the job of attorney general, to serve Donald Trump, the moral relativist in chief, who writes and rewrites the rule book at whim.
But a close reading of his speeches and writings shows that, for decades, he has taken a maximalist, Trumpian view of presidential power that critics have called the “imperial executive.” He was a match, all along, for a president under siege. “He alone is the executive branch,” Mr. Barr wrote of whoever occupies the Oval Office, in a memo to the Justice Department in 2018, before he returned.
Now, with news reports that his review into the origins of the Russian investigation that so enraged Mr. Trump has turned into a full-blown criminal investigation, Mr. Barr is arousing fears that he is using the enormous power of the Justice Department to help the president politically, subverting the independence of the nation’s top law enforcement agency in the process.
Why is he giving the benefit of his reputation, earned over many years in Washington, to this president? His Catholic Lawyer article suggests an answer to that question. The threat of moral relativism he saw then came when “secularists used law as a weapon.” Mr. Barr cited rules that compel landlords to rent to unmarried couples or require universities to treat “homosexual activist groups like any other student group.” He reprised the theme in a speech at Notre Dame this month.
In 1995 and now, Mr. Barr has voiced the fears and aspirations of the conservative legal movement. By helping Mr. Trump, he’s protecting a president who has succeeded in confirming more than 150 judges to create a newly conservative judiciary. The federal bench now seems more prepared to lower barriers between church and state and reduce access to abortion — a procedure that Mr. Barr, in his 1995 article, included on a list of societal ills that also included drug addiction, venereal diseases and psychiatric disorders.
In his unruffled and lawyerly way, Mr. Barr emerged as the president’s most effective protector in the spring, when he limited damage from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by shaping the public narrative of the Mueller report before he released any of it.
In his pursuit of investigating the investigators, he even traveled to Britain and Italy to meet with intelligence officials there to persuade them to help it along. Now it is possible the Justice Department could bring charges against its own officials and agents for decisions they made to investigate Trump campaign advisers in the fraught months around the 2016 election, when the Russian government was mounting what the Mueller report called “a sweeping and systematic” effort to interfere.
This criminal investigation seems ominous in the context of Mr. Barr’s other moves.
His Justice Department recently declined to investigate a whistle-blower’s complaint that the president was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election” and advised the acting director of national intelligence not to send the complaint to Congress. Last week, dozens of government inspectors general warned in a letter to the Justice Department that its position “could seriously undermine the critical role whistle blowers play in coming forward to report waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct across the federal government.”
So while Rudolph Giuliani is freelancing American diplomacy as the president’s personal lawyer, often leaving bedlam in his wake, and Mick Mulvaney flails as acting chief of staff, Mr. Barr has used the Justice Department, with precision, on the president’s behalf. The New York City Bar Association complained a few days ago that Mr. Barr “appears to view his primary obligation as loyalty to the president individually rather than to the nation.”
William Barr (Billy, when he was young) grew up in an apartment on Riverside Drive in Manhattan with a framed Barry Goldwater presidential campaign poster in the foyer, according to Vanity Fair. His mother, who was of Irish descent, taught at Columbia University. His father, a Jew who converted to Catholicism, taught at Columbia, too, and then became the headmaster of the elite Dalton School, leaving after 10 years amid criticism over his authoritarian approach to student discipline.
He went to high school at the equally elite Horace Mann and to college at Columbia, where he majored in government and then got a master’s degree in government and Chinese studies. Mr. Barr went to work for the C.I.A. in Washington in 1973 and attended George Washington University Law School at night.
He joined the Reagan White House in 1982, where he sought to curb regulation. After George H.W. Bush was elected president in 1988, he became director of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, which provides legal advice to the president and all executive agencies.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Barr to express his views on executive power. He warned in one of his early opinions, in July 1989, of congressional “encroachments” on presidential authority. “Only by consistently and forcefully resisting such congressional incursions can executive branch prerogatives be preserved,” he wrote. Some of his Republican colleagues remember being taken aback.
“Bill’s view on the separation of powers was not overlapping authority keeping all branches in check, but keeping the other branches neutralized, leaving a robust executive power to rule. George III would have loved it,” said Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine who preceded Mr. Barr as head of the Office of Legal Counsel.
Mr. Barr also argued that the president had the “inherent authority” to order the F.B.I. to abduct people abroad, in violation of an international treaty principally written by the United States. This view reversed the position that the Office of Legal Counsel had taken nine years earlier. When Congress asked to see Mr. Barr’s opinion, he refused, even as the government defended the abduction of a man in Mexico accused of participating in the killing of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The charges against the man were dismissed. It took four years for his opinion to come to light.
“You have a secret opinion that violated the internal rules of the Justice Department” and “diminished America’s reputation as a country that operates by the rule of law,” said Harold Hongju Koh, a Yale law professor who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel and advised the State Department. “At the time, we thought that was as bad as it was going to get.”
After becoming deputy attorney general in 1990, he continued to push the limits on questions of presidential power. He told the first President Bush that he didn’t need congressional approval to invade Iraq. Mr. Bush asked for it anyway.
Mr. Barr, who took over the department in the fall of 1991, also urged Mr. Bush to pardon all six of the Reagan administration officials who faced criminal charges in an arms-for-hostages deal at the heart of the Iran-contra scandal. The president took his advice.
When Mr. Bush lost his bid for re-election, Mr. Barr went back into private practice before taking jobs as the general counsel first for GTE and then Verizon. He served on the boards of several religious groups, including the Catholic Information Center, a self-described “intellectual hub,” affiliated with the ultraconservative order Opus Dei.
Those groups include other conservative Washington insiders, such as Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society. Mr. Leo has also served on the board of the Catholic Information Center and he came out strongly in favor of Mr. Trump’s nomination of Mr. Barr for attorney general.
In a sense, both Mr. Barr and Mr. Leo have found parallel ways to use the Trump administration as a vehicle for their causes. Mr. Leo has enormous influence from outside the government on the selection of judicial nominees. And from the inside, Mr. Barr plays a role in federal judicial appointments and has supported a Justice Department task force set up to look for cases of religious discrimination.
When Mr. Barr undercut the Mueller report, he lost some supporters. While delaying its release, he presented the conclusions as far less damning for President Trump than Mr. Mueller found them to be. (For example, Mr. Barr said that the special counsel did not find sufficient evidence of a crime when in fact Mr. Mueller had not exonerated Mr. Trump of wrongdoing.)
“Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject,” wrote Benjamin Wittes, the editor in chief of Lawfare.
Despite criticism, Mr. Barr has continued to champion the presidency — and this president. But on Friday, a federal judge in Washington ruled against the Justice Department’s effort to block Congress from getting grand jury evidence obtained in the Mueller investigation. The department has also asked a federal judge to block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney for eight years of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns.
“From my perspective,” Mr. Barr told Jan Crawford of CBS News in May, “the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and, you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that ‘we have to stop this president,’ that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.”
In other words, amazingly, it wasn’t President Trump, or Attorney General Barr, who was violating the norms of American governance. It was their critics.
Since Watergate, a crucial norm of Justice Department independence has prevented presidents from ordering or meddling in investigations for partisan reasons.
In 2001, Mr. Barr praised the first President Bush for leaving the Justice Department alone. Mr. Bush’s White House “appreciated the independence of Justice,” Mr. Barr said. “We didn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s a difference between being a government lawyer and representing an individual in his personal capacity in a criminal case.”
Now, Mr. Barr seems hard-pressed to maintain a semblance of those boundaries. The criminal investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation that he ordered is official government business. It’s headed by an experienced prosecutor, John H. Durham, the United States attorney for Connecticut, and it’s supposed to be on the up and up.
But when Mr. Barr told Congress in April that he thought “spying” on the Trump campaign by American intelligence agencies occurred — the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, told Congress that “spying” was “not the term I would use” — he echoed President Trump’s conspiracy theory of being a victim of the “deep state.” And in the last month, Mr. Barr has found his review mixed up with the machinations of Mr. Giuliani, who was directed by Mr. Trump to investigate the 2016 election and the Biden family in Ukraine.
Mr. Trump made the overlap explicit when he lumped Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Barr together in his July phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. “I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelensky, according to notes released by the White House. Mr. Barr was reportedly “surprised and angry” by the president’s reference, and a Justice Department representative has denied he had any contacts with Mr. Zelensky.
Then, Mr. Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, brought up Mr. Barr’s review of the Russia investigation at his news conference on Oct. 17 in defense of Mr. Trump’s request to Mr. Zelensky for “a favor” and information. (“So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing?” Mr. Mulvaney asked.)
The White House’s use of the Justice Department as a shield in the Ukraine scandal risks leaving Mr. Barr’s review “hopelessly compromised,” tweeted the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith, an alumnus of the Office of Legal Counsel who has defended Mr. Barr.
And in blockbuster testimony before Congress last Tuesday, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, said that he and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who was conveying Mr. Trump’s orders concerning Ukraine, discussed the possibility that Ukraine’s prosecutor would make a public statement about “investigations, potentially in coordination with Attorney General Barr’s probe.” Either people in the president’s circle are using Mr. Barr as a pawn, or he’s in deeper than he has said.
Either way, maybe the lesson is the same one that applies throughout the administration: The fallout from the president’s maneuvering taints the people around him. The longer Mr. Barr stays in office, the more that Mr. Trump will look for the attorney general to do for him.
When Mr. Mueller closed up shop, he left several cases pending with the Justice Department,including charges against the Trump operative Roger Stone, which could end with disclosures at trial that damage the president (Mr. Stone has pleaded not guilty). What if Mr. Trump would rather make cases like these go away, with pardons or other inducements? Will Mr. Barr go along?
During the Bush administration, in a more moderate time, Mr. Barr worked for a buttoned-down president who called for a “kinder” and “gentler” strain of Republicanism. Now he has a boss who calls the impeachment process “a lynching,” Republican critics “human scum” and the news media “the enemy of the American people.”
As the buttons fly off, Mr. Barr still seems unperturbed. He’s the perfect attorney general for President Trump. Not so much, it seems, for the country.