Fear of Barr (Strassel)

HUGH HEWITT reads Kimberly Strassel’s column, earlier today:

A little POWRLINE intro please: The Democrats’ hysteria over Attorney General William Barr is directly proportional to their fear of the damage they fear he might do, Kim Strassel explains in her Wall Street Journal Potomac Watch column HERE:

The only thing uglier than an angry Washington is a fearful Washington. And fear is what’s driving this week’s blitzkrieg of Attorney General William Barr.

Mr. Barr tolerantly sat through hours of Democratic insults at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. His reward for his patience was to be labeled, in the space of a news cycle, a lawbreaking, dishonest, obstructing hack. Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly accused Mr. Barr of lying to Congress, which, she added, is “considered a crime.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will move to hold Mr. Barr in contempt unless the attorney general acquiesces to the unprecedented demand that he submit to cross-examination by committee staff attorneys. James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lamented that Donald Trump had “eaten” Mr. Barr’s “soul.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren demands the attorney general resign. California Rep. Eric Swalwell wants him impeached.

These attacks aren’t about special counsel Robert Mueller, his report or even the surreal debate over Mr. Barr’s first letter describing the report. The attorney general delivered the transparency Democrats demanded: He quickly released a lightly redacted report, which portrayed the president in a negative light. What do Democrats have to object to?

Some of this is frustration. Democrats foolishly invested two years of political capital in the idea that Mr. Mueller would prove President Trump had colluded with Russia, and Mr. Mueller left them empty-handed. Some of it is personal. Democrats resent that Mr. Barr won’t cower or apologize for doing his job. Some is bitterness that Mr. Barr is performing like a real attorney general, making the call against obstruction-of-justice charges rather than sitting back and letting Democrats have their fun with Mr. Mueller’s obstruction innuendo.

But most of it is likely fear. Mr. Barr made real news in that Senate hearing, and while the press didn’t notice, Democrats did. The attorney general said he’d already assigned people at the Justice Department to assist his investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He said his review would be far-reaching—that he was obtaining details from congressional investigations, from the ongoing probe by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and even from Mr. Mueller’s work. Mr. Barr said the investigation wouldn’t focus only on the fall 2016 justifications for secret surveillance warrants against Trump team members but would go back months earlier.

He also said he’d focus on the infamous “dossier” concocted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and British former spy Christopher Steele, on which the FBI relied so heavily in its probe. Mr. Barr acknowledged his concern that the dossier itself could be Russian disinformation, a possibility he described as not “entirely speculative.” He also revealed that the department has “multiple criminal leak investigations under way” into the disclosure of classified details about the Trump-Russia investigation.

Do not underestimate how many powerful people in Washington have something to lose from Mr. Barr’s probe. Among them: Former and current leaders of the law-enforcement and intelligence communities. The Democratic Party pooh-bahs who paid a foreign national (Mr. Steele) to collect information from Russians and deliver it to the FBI. The government officials who misused their positions to target a presidential campaign. The leakers. The media. More than reputations are at risk. Revelations could lead to lawsuits, formal disciplinary actions, lost jobs, even criminal prosecution.

The attacks on Mr. Barr are first and foremost an effort to force him out, to prevent this information from coming to light until Democrats can retake the White House in 2020. As a fallback, the coordinated campaign works as a pre-emptive smear, diminishing the credibility of his ultimate findings by priming the public to view him as a partisan.

That’s why Mr. Barr isn’t alone in getting slimed. Natasha Bertrand at Politico last month penned a hit piece on the respected Mr. Horowitz. It’s clear the inspector general is asking the right questions. The Politico article acknowledges he’s homing in on Mr. Steele’s “credibility” and the dossier’s “veracity”—then goes on to provide a defense of Mr. Steele and his dossier, while quoting unnamed sources who deride the “quality” of the Horowitz probe, and (hilariously) claim the long-tenured inspector general is not “well-versed” in core Justice Department functions.

“We have to stop using the criminal-justice process as a political weapon,” Mr. Barr said Wednesday. The line didn’t get much notice, but that worthy goal increasingly looks to be a reason Mr. Barr accepted this unpleasant job. Stopping this abuse requires understanding how it started. The liberal establishment, including journalists friendly with it, doesn’t want that to happen, and so has made it a mission to destroy Mr. Barr. The attorney general seems to know what he’s up against, and remains undeterred. That’s the sort of steely will necessary to right the ship at the Justice Department and the FBI.

The Best is the Enemy of the Better (Repealing Obamacare)

 ~I want Full Repeal, NO replacement, free markets! ~

The above is a statement from a FB friend… and is the main thrust of this post.

Dennis Prager quickly mentions a Kimberly Strassel article via the WALL STREET JOURNAL. in this short clip Prager also prefaces Trump’s horrible statement about McCain’s being captured with what McCain said about half of America. And principle is thrown to the wayside in people like this not voting to repeal in part Obama-care.

Here is the article:

…What do Rand Paul, Susan Collins and John McCain have in common? Very little.

The press corps is busy quizzing the president, the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader on their plans for tax reform. The question is why they aren’t chasing after the three people who actually hold all the power.

If the past eight months have proved anything, it is that all the 24/7 news coverage of Donald Trump’s antics, all the millions of words devoted to Paul Ryan’s and Mitch McConnell’s plans, have been a complete waste of space and time. In the end, control of the entire policy agenda in Washington comes down to three senators. Three senators whom most Americans have never had a chance to vote for or against. Three senators who comprise 8% of their party conference. Arizona’s John McCain, Maine’s Susan Collins and Kentucky’s Rand Paul. Forget Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. Meet the Never-Trump Triumvirate.

At least the House Freedom Caucus scuttles GOP legislation based on shared principles. Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have also led revolts against bills, again based on shared criticisms. But what do the Arizona maverick, the Maine moderate and the Kentucky libertarian have in common? Very little.

Well, very little save motivations that go beyond policy. And that is the crucial point that is missing from the endless analyses of the McCain-Collins-Paul defections on health care. The media has treated the trio’s excuses for killing their party’s top priority as legit, despite the obvious holes in their objections over policy and process. What in fact binds the three is their crafting of identities based primarily on opposition to their party or Mr. Trump. This matters, because it bodes very ill for tax reform in the Senate. Overcoming policy objections is one thing. Overcoming egos is another.

Mr. McCain, who is gravely ill with brain cancer, has decided his final legacy will be a return to the contrarian “straight talk” persona of old, which wins him liberal media plaudits. The Arizonan has never gotten over losing the presidency, and it clearly irks him that Mr. Trump succeeded where he failed. His personal disdain for the president is obvious, and his implausible excuses for opposing the Graham-Cassidy health-care reform are proof that this is personal.

Ms. Collins is reportedly days awa y from deciding whether she’ll ditch the Senate gig and run for governor. That potential campaign has guided her every move for at least a year now—perhaps her entire career—and was clearly among her reasons last summer to abandon her party’s nominee and publicly excoriate Mr. Trump. It is a basic precept in Washington that Sen. Collins votes in whatever way best serves Sen. Collins. Right now that means being Never Trump.

Mr. Paul worked hard during his first Senate campaign to reassure Kentuckians that he was not his father, and it turns out that’s very true. Because even Ron Paul was to be found with his party’s House majority on issues that truly mattered, and largely saved his defections for the lost causes that produced 434-1 votes. Sen. Paul’s standards for “conservative” policy are as varying as the wind, and lately they blow toward whatever position can earn him the title of purest man in Washington.

The press was fixated this week on Mr. McConnell’s bad week, which is an easy piece to write. But it ignores the obvious reality that the Triumvirate seems to have never had any intention of letting its party succeed. After all, a senator who intended to stand firm on “regular order,” as Mr. McCain said, would have informed his colleagues of that demand at the beginning, rather than allow his colleagues to set up for another vote and then dramatically tank it (again) at the last minute. A senator who voted for “skinny” ObamaCare repeal in the summer on the grounds that anything was “better than no repeal,” in the words of Mr. Paul, would not suddenly engineer an unreachable set of demands for his vote on an even better repeal.

The Senate has no lack of lime-lighters. Nor is it low on Trump critics. Think Nebraska’s Ben Sasse and Arizona’s Jeff Flake. The difference is that the clear majority of the critics aren’t allowing ambition or disdain get in the way of votes for better policy.

But this raises the question of whether the White House understands that the Triumvirate is also the prize on tax reform. Mr. Trump took a shot at Mr. McConnell this week, but the president needs to shift his focus to those who hold the actual power. Those dinner invites to Chuck and Nancy would be better reserved for Ms. Collins. Its internal conversations need to focus on what forms of flattery or policy or misery might appeal to the political motivations of Messrs. McCain and Paul, and get them on side.

Because the Triumvirate made very clear during the health-care debate how it operates. Pretending it won’t do it again is to ignore reality.

I had one gent tell me that all the repeals (or bills changing Obama-care) were keeping up to 90% of the bill. But what was proffered would have killed the rest of the ACA. Here is a helpful visual of what the Republicans proposed:

I found this end to an article at THE FEDERALIST helpful… the part about “incrementalism.” Something the right doesn’t get:

….Donald Trump, who promised throughout his campaign to overturn Obamacare, could immediately put a deadline on the unconstitutional subsidy payments that the Obama administration concocted to keep the bill from imploding. Yes, liberals will continue to claim that conservatives are “sabotaging” the law, but there is no moral, policy, or political reason for the GOP to continue the illegal pay-off of insurance companies.  No matter how many welfare dollars Congress ends up pouring into fabricated markets or how much price-fixing they engage in, the “exchanges” are unsustainable. Why would conservatives want to take ownership of those failures?

As the Senate stands now, it’s improbable that Republicans will ever be able to cobble together a bill that will placate both the Susan Collins-John McCain wing and the Mike Lee-Rand Paul wing — in fact, I doubt Collins would vote for a single-payer bill if too many Republicans supported it. Even with more conservatives, I’m highly skeptical that repeal will ever pass. Yet it is not out of the question that help is on the way. Perhaps the GOP’s positioning on health-care reform will lead to midterm disaster. But we’ve heard this one before — sometimes right before a GOP wave election. Fact is, the 2018 Senate map is still not favorable to Dems.

Liberals like to argue that allowing Obamacare to fail would bring a single-payer closer to reality. Well, it is just as likely that prolonging Obamacare’s lifespan would help single-payer, as the next Democratic administration will surely continue to expand the reach of the law. (Unlike the GOP, Democrats don’t shy away from incrementalism.) If Republicans truly believe Obamacare has harmed America, there is no upside in fake bipartisanship. Not for the GOP. And not for the America people.