Barr Weighs in

Barr finds no fraud.

“Trump and Barr” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

Via the AP: Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud

Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

First, this news has not gone over well in certain circles. For example, note this Gateway pundit headline from last night: “AG Barr Destroys His Name for All Eternity – His Actions Today Confirm He Is Just Another Card-Carrying Swamp Rat.” Also, see several other off the wall examples at Lawyers, Guns & Money (although their headline swipe of Ben Wittes strikes me as unfair).

MAGA, it seems, cannot fail, it can only be failed.

Second, Barr’s statement is maddening insofar as it implies that the DOJ did, in fact, find some fraud, just not enough that matters. To me, this seems like a doctor saying “we have not seen wounds on a scale that would lead to the patient dying” when the wounds in question are a tiny, tiny paper cut on the patient’s left pinky (indeed, that wound would be more serious relative to the patient than the amount of fraud that exists in the United States is to the integrity of the election outcome).

I do not have time to Google the intertubes to confirm, but to my recollection, the only example of documented voter fraud thus far was some guy caught trying to fraudulently use a relative’s absentee ballot.

You know, the stuff of legends.

Indeed, when I look at the Heritage Foundation’s database of electoral fraud, which looks very, very dramatic, I am struck by how little they have found. Keep in mind that the database shows 1,302 cases of fraud, but that the cases in the database go back to the early 1980s. See, to me, knowing the hundred of millions of votes that have been cast in almost 40 years, I come to the conclusion that this database proves that we don’t have an electoral fraud problem in the US. This is amplified by the fact that a huge number of these cases are for things like attempted registration fraud and fraud linked to petitions. Three data points are from the same case as a group trying to bribe homeless persons with money and cigarettes to vote.

This is the weakest of weak tea.

All of this is to say that if Barr had found any evidence of fraud, we would have heard about it and so his intimation that he did find some, just none that was serious, means he found nothing.

Meanwhile, to see an example of someone who truly did their job, see Chris Kreb’s column in WaPo: Trump fired me for saying this, but I’ll say it again: The election wasn’t rigged.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    All of this is to say that if Barr had found any evidence of fraud, we would have heard about it and so his intimation that he did find some, just none that was serious, means he found nothing.

    Either that or what little fraud he found was committed by Republicans.

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  2. CSK says:

    Hey, a truck driver says he conveyed “between 130,000 to 280,000 completed ballots” (for Biden) from Bethpage, NY to Lancaster, PA.

    Of course, he didn’t see these ballots, much less count them.

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  3. CSK says:

    Trump’s signature reminds me of a seismograph reading. Or the electrocardiogram of someone with really bad AFib.

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  4. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Either that or what little fraud he found was committed by Republicans.

    If you follow Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman you’ll see he has identified two clear cases of voter fraud in his state–both of whom were attempting to cast illegal votes for Trump.

    He attempted to hold his Texas counterpart Dan Patrick to a pledge Patrick made to pay anyone who found proof of fraud a million dollars. Fetterman asked for this money to be provided in the form of Sheetz gift cards, and ended his Tweet with “oh and the Cowboys blow.”

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: “oh and the Cowboys blow.”

    I love it.

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  6. MarkedMan says:

    Republicans often “speak candidly off the record”, explaining to reporters in serious voices that this or that appointee is actually “highly respected”. Just remember that is what they said about this detestable flunky who betrayed his office and the US at every opportunity. The fact that this rat is now leaving the ship should not garner him any credit, since he is only leaving because the ship is sinking.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    That the USAG has to say this…3 weeks after the election and Trump having lost something like 35 court cases over it…and still a huge number of Americans do not believe it, says all that needs be said.

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  8. Joe says:

    @Mikey:

    If you follow Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman you’ll see he has identified two clear cases of voter fraud in his state–both of whom were attempting to cast illegal votes for Trump.

    He attempted to hold his Texas counterpart Dan Patrick to a pledge Patrick made to pay anyone who found proof of fraud a million dollars.

    While I understand Dr. Taylor’s outrage about no widespread fraud (or anything else Barr says or does), I am quite certain that Barr or any other official who says flatly no fraud is going to be strung up this same way. It’s a bit of a no win.

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  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    Barr weighs in, indeed. Given that he has a tent maker for a tailor the weight must be substantial.

    Have empathy for Fat Bill, he was between a rock and trumps belly, the rock being the hundreds of JD attorneys who would have shouted in unison BULL Sh!t if he had said there is fraud.

    While in the real world, the Times has an article this AM about Trump voters shaking off the loss and getting on with life. One referred to him a s ‘sore loser.”

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  10. Pylon says:

    It amuses me no end to see Barr attacked by Michael Flynn.

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  11. CSK says:

    @Pylon:
    They may all turn on each other eventually.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Have empathy for Fat Bill, he was between a rock and trumps belly,

    Why? He put himself there.

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  13. dmichael says:

    It was not an “unfair” headline swipe at Ben Wittes. To be kind, this Wittes article about Barr before he was confirmed hasn’t aged well: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/12/ben-wittes-william-barr-attorney-general-better-alternatives/577699/
    Simply another example of a member (or wannabe member) of a club calling for the benefit of the doubt about another club member who was supposed to be a “traditionalist.”
    Even Wittes has backtracked from that column.

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  14. Kathy says:

    I wouldn’t call it fraud, but I’m sure there’s no election anywhere in the world where a few people don’t try to cheat or game the system. By trying to vote twice, say, or registering in multiple states, or registering in a state you don’t reside in just to vote in one election, stealing a few absentee ballots, and so on.

    This never amounts to much, because it isn’t much. A few thousand people spread over a country doing such things is literally noise in most elections where votes range from tens of thousands to millions.

    Add the fact elections are very fragmented, as I understand with each county using its own ballot. Massive fraud would be very hard to accomplish, and would involve far too many people to be feasible.

    Pessimus is getting traction for what George Orwell warned us about: Ignorance is Strength.

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  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Once again, the failure of the internet to convey sarcasm and irony. Sigh.

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  16. @dmichael:

    Even Wittes has backtracked from that column.

    That’s why I think it is unfair. Wittes has repeatedly stated that he was wrong about Barr.

    People who are willing to publicly admit that they are wrong ought not to be continually hammered about the initial mistake.

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  17. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy:

    Add the fact elections are very fragmented, as I understand with each county using its own ballot.

    Ballots. The county where I voted had 22 distinct ballots to accommodate all the combinations of Congressional district, state house and senate districts, multiple cities, and special districts. I understand there are some counties in California that have to deal with over a hundred different ballots. And then there’s the requirement for some counties to provide ballots in multiple languages. IIRC, LA County has to support 13 languages.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I have middlin’ bad Afib. I wish my electrocardiogram looked like Trump’s signature. Sorry.

    On a more serious note, though, his signature does look a little like tachycardia. Maybe that’s what you were thinking of. 😉

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  19. al Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That’s why I think it is unfair. Wittes has repeatedly stated that he was wrong about Barr.
    People who are willing to publicly admit that they are wrong ought not to be continually hammered about the initial mistake.

    I too, think that the well-after-the-fact criticism of Ben Wittes is unfair, not only because he has since admitted that he was wrong, but also because I think a LOT of people (people who are experienced observers of the DC-DOJ scene) were wrong abut Barr. They thought he’d be a traditional AG type, with conservative tendencies. They had no idea Barr would transform DOJ into retained counsel for the president.

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  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Have some empathy for the man for Pete’s sake. He’s only 70 and Celebrity Net Worth has him at a mere $50 million. How’s he supposed to get by without another job to go to? (Some people are so cruel! 🙁 )

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  21. Scott F. says:

    @al Ameda:

    They had no idea Barr would transform DOJ into retained counsel for the president.

    I would say they should have had some idea what Barr would do for the president. Barr has always been a champion for fewer checks on the Executive branch. You could say they had no idea how poorly the Unitary Executive Theory would marry up with a narcissistic monarch-wannabe as POTUS.

    I’m not surprised by Barr’s move here as I don’t think he’s ever been in the tank for Donald himself. Trump was a means to an end for Barr – a test for his theories on executive power. Now that his pilot case for maximal discretion for the executive without checks and balances from the legislative and judiciary has failed miserably, we should expect Barr to rather quickly conclude the theory didn’t fail as much as Trump spoiled the result.

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  22. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Ah, I’m sorry to learn this about you. AFib is no joke.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    AFib is no joke.

    Sometimes when a doctor tells you they have AFib, it’s just a fib.

    Yeah, it’s just a pun, not a joke.

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  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    According to the internet my wife’s net worth a year ago was over 100 million. Now it shows her as worth just 1 million. (Helluva spending spree on Amazon.) It has me at 20 million, though IIRC I was only valued at 5 million a year ago. (Been working the Schwab account hard.)

    Needless to say, none the numbers is even remotely connected to reality. In fact 20 million is my fantasy number, my ‘fuck it, that’s plenty’ number. At 20m I give everything else away and split my time between the Algarve, San Sebastian and Tahiti. But I can’t help noticing that I’m still sitting here in LA working.

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  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    “He that would make a pun would pick a pocket.”

    Stephen Maturin. (Patrick O’Brian.)

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  26. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Old writers never quit.

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  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Well, Tahiti is nice and all, but I think you’d get bored after a while and need something to do. Mind you, that might not be what you are doing now.

    People do better when they have some purpose in life.

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  28. Jay L Gischer says:

    Re: Jeff Bezos’ collecting Saturn V engines: Wasn’t there a character in Cryptonomicon who collected airplanes – things like 727’s and larger in size – and who lived in Seattle?

    Something vague is stirring in my head about this, but I can’t find mention of it.

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  29. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer: He was a retired tech billionaire. I can’t remember more than that. probably based on Paul Allen.

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  30. Teve says:

    He had an Enigma machine too.

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  31. Slugger says:

    Let me confess to election fraud. Many years ago when I first became eligible to vote, I was living in a university town. I lived there about ten months a year, but the local rules insisted on my parents’ address as my address for purposes of voting. I wanted to vote for certain city councilmen who were running on a promise of a more rational set of parking regulations. I really cared about the parking regulations since parking fines were extracted from us students by complex rules that disadvantaged students. I got a university lab job over the summer (I have great rat-cage cleaning skills), and I used my paycheck stub to get registered which was not legal at the time. I was never caught. Sadly, my votes didn’t break the Big Traffic Fine Cartel.

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  32. Blue Galangal says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I just developed a fib this year (episodes since March). Finally on medication to control it – getting in to see a cardiologist was a little dicey. All of which is to agree, yes, it is no fun.

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  33. dmichael says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Not if the initial “mistake” required ignoring Barr’s history of as a right-wing hack. See George H.W. Bush and Iran-Contra pardons.

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  34. @dmichael: I guess you are right. Once wrong, always wrong! No compassion, no allowance for reassessment!

    It is the way of the internet, after all.

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  35. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Damn right it’s the way of the Internet. And Bill Barr was just fine with that for the past year or so when he was Trump’s rhymes-with-stitch. Now that Trump’s clown car is falling apart in front of the entire world, he’s trying to put some distance between them. Not sure why I should feel compassionate about that.

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  36. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: From what I can tell, nobody’s saying you should feel sorry for Barr. The disagreement, as far as I can see, is about what sort of attitude one should have for Ben Wittes.

    And, as terrible as Barr has been, it’s clear he has limits, and that he’s hit those limits. Furthermore, I do wonder if, in fact, he isn’t the best we could expect from the Trump Administration. Terrible, but the best we could expect from Trump.

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  37. flat earth luddite says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    People who are willing to publicly admit that they are wrong ought not to be continually hammered about the initial mistake.

    Indeed. Grandma used to say,

    “Remember what happened to the last man who walked on water. ”
    If she was in a real mood, she’d add,

    “AND they had to cross his ankles because they were short a spike.”

    OTOH, Barr just proves that you can’t buy ethics. Well, you can, but you get a really bad, inept, minion.

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  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Blue Galangal: I’ve had it for 15 years now. You’ll get used to in as time goes on. Just like asthma or any other chronic condition that’s not catastrophically disabling.

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  39. @Not the IT Dept.: To be 100% clear, I am not defending Barr in the least.

    Barr has been in many ways worse than Trump, because he knew exactly what he was doing.

    I was talking about dogging Wittes.

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  40. @Jay L Gischer:

    From what I can tell, nobody’s saying you should feel sorry for Barr. The disagreement, as far as I can see, is about what sort of attitude one should have for Ben Wittes.

    Exatly.

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  41. JohnSF says:

    Barr’s statement rather makes me think of the Nazi generals in the fuhrerbunker in “Downfall”:

    Krebs: My Führer, Steiner…..
    Jodl: Steiner couldn’t mobilize enough men. He wasn’t able to carry out his assault.

    You don’t feel much in the way of sympathy or respect for them.
    Because, well: Nazi generals in the fuhrerbunker
    But at least they are still on nodding terms with reality.

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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Stephen Maturin. (Patrick O’Brian.)

    “Why, surely, because they are cur-tailed.”

    I had been meaning to ask you some day whether you had read all of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, and what you thought of them. I may have just received my answer preemptively.

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  43. dmichael says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Nope. You missed my point. Wittes wrote in support of deferring to the selection of Barr as AG in spite of a clear record of his view of the “unitary executive” (see al Ameda) who would serve a dictator wannabe and his past record as a right wing shill serving as the AG!! to a previous Republican president. That shows a remarkable lack of judgment and a naiveté. By the way, your sarcasm does not serve well as an argument.

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  44. @dmichael:

    By the way, your sarcasm does not serve well as an argument.

    Oh, I wasn’t making an argument, I was being snarky. I acknowledge that.

    I think you are being too harsh, but you think I am being too forgiving, so this is ultimately a difference of judgment. I was more skeptical of Barr than was Wittes at the time but did not find his position to be unreasonable at the time. Barr could have been an advocate for the unitary executive position and still have acted like a real AG. He did not. It was not unreasonable for Wittes to have the position he had when Barr was nominated, IMO.

    There is just so much to criticize, and so many very real problems in our politics (and in our commentariat) such that I find it unnecessary to needless harp on someone who is a pretty reasonable person and who had a reasonable if mistaken, opinion about Barr’s appointment given that he has more than one publically stated that he was wrong (if not very wrong).

    It seems good and reasonable to acknowledge people who admit to their mistakes, not to continually bludgeon them with them.

    I found the LGM slam unnecessary and I find your position unnecessarily harsh, hence my snark.

    Perhaps I should have refrained from said snark. It is easy to succumb on occasion (maybe even more than on occasion).

    I certainly agree his original column hasn’t aged well at all (as would Wittes himself). So it just seemed a bit unnecessary for LGM to engage in the original snark in their title.

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  45. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Barr could have been an advocate for the unitary executive position and still have acted like a real AG. He did not. It was not unreasonable for Wittes to have the position he had when Barr was nominated, IMO.

    If this was extent of Barr’s problematic positions prior to his nomination, then maybe, just maybe you and Wittes might have an argument. But it wasn’t, you and Wittes seem to have conveniently forgotten in his previous stint as AG the part he played in the Iran–Contra affair.

    Attorney General William P. Barr advised the President on these pardons, especially that of Caspar Weinberger.[105]

    In response to these Bush pardons, Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, who headed the investigation of Reagan Administration officials’ criminal conduct in the Iran–Contra scandal, stated that “the Iran–Contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.” Walsh noted that in issuing the pardons Bush appears to have been preempting being implicated himself in the crimes of Iran–Contra by evidence that was to come to light during the Weinberger trial, and noted that there was a pattern of “deception and obstruction” by Bush, Weinberger and other senior Reagan administration officials.

    You and Wittes have also seem to have forgotten his Unsolicited Memo to Trump About Obstruction of Justice.

    The memo on obstruction of justice by Bill Barr, the once and future attorney general, is a bizarre document—particularly so for a man who would supervise the investigation it criticizes.

    So a man with a history of cover-ups writes an unsolicited memo to the President saying that their should have never been a Mueller Investigation. He also writes that there can not be Obstruction of Justice if the president does it, which was the thing that concerned Trump the most about the investigation. This information was all out there prior to Wittes comments, yet he still supported Barr’s nomination. And now because he “apologized” you seem to think oopsie, mistakes were made, lets just move on. Nahh, life doesn’t work like that. Ask any black man.

    ——
    Forgiveness is to be earned, not given. Unearned forgiveness when given freely does not engender appreciation of the harm caused.

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  46. @Loviatar: Sigh.

    I am not asking for any forgiveness of Barr whatsoever.

    Quite the contrary.

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  47. @Loviatar: Serious question: what makes you think (from the post or these comments) that I am defending Barr in any way?

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  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:
    I think I’ve read the entire series, cover to cover, at least three times. Patrick O’Brian is one of my personal writing gods. The depth of research is astonishing, his prose is top notch, and I like the way he ends books, which often seems to be, ‘Well, that’s enough for now, the end.’ No swelling music, no foreshadowed pay-off, just, ‘Bye for now, more later.’

    I paid a lot of attention to how he writes action scenes and it’s very much in keeping with my instincts, which are to essentially point the camera, see what happens. No melodrama, no manipulative tricks. In fact if you were to compare violent scenes in ANIMORPHS and later, GONE, you could guess that between the two I’d read O’Brian. When Barret Bonden dies the moment is almost thrown away, you skim, then you back up and, what? What? Bonden? And then you cry. Whenever I killed off a character in GONE I did it O’Brian style, because if you’ve written a character well no melodrama is required or welcome. Someone the reader loves just died and there’s no softening that blow. It’s brutally effective.

    Unfortunately there won’t be any more later. We won’t know how Aubrey fares as an admiral. We won’t know if Maturin ever figures out germ theory. I was mad at him for dying. I still am.

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  49. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Its not that you’re defending Barr, its that you’re willing to quickly forgive Wittes for his extremely poor decision to support Barr’s nomination to Attorney General. What has Wittes done to earn forgiveness?

    Sometimes, I wish we held our elites to the same forgiveness standards that Florida holds its former felons attempting to vote.

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  50. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Until we return to holding our political, financial and media elite to account for their decisions, things are not going to change, there won’t be any return to normal. Even if accountability is nothing more than being mocked on the internet.

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  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think I’ve read the entire series, cover to cover, at least three times.

    Likewise. People Who Love Me Very Much gave me the boxed set for Christmas a long while back. I attended an all-day Smithsonian Associates fan-wank that featured (among other speakers) Ken Ringle, for whom the eponymous clipper was named, and the authors of Lobscouse and Spotted Dick, the Aubrey/Maturin cookbook.

    If you haven’t already, you might want to dip into the matchless audiobook edition by the late Patrick Tull of Recorded Books. Audiobooks are tricky, especially with lots of dialogue from beloved characters, but IMHO Tull nails it cold.

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  52. @Loviatar:

    Its not that you’re defending Barr, its that you’re willing to quickly forgive Wittes for his extremely poor decision to support Barr’s nomination to Attorney General. What has Wittes done to earn forgiveness?

    He has repeatedly stated that he was wrong about Barr. If he hadn’t, I would see no reason to forgive.

    @Loviatar:

    Until we return to holding our political, financial and media elite to account for their decisions, things are not going to change, there won’t be any return to normal. Even if accountability is nothing more than being mocked on the internet.

    I sincerely do not see the efficacy is mocking someone who has admitted they were wrong.

    But if you think that is efficacious, you are entitled to do so.

    Wittes has been a rather strident critic of the Trump administration as well as of Barr’s stint as AG, but if you think it furthers some cause to mock him for his original position or to harangue me for saying that he deserves to have his reversal of views respected, then that is your prerogative.

    I honestly do not understand what is productive about it.

    Also, above you note:

    You and Wittes have also seem to have forgotten his Unsolicited Memo to Trump About Obstruction of Justice.

    First, I certainly haven’t forgotten about it. It was one of the reasons I was skeptical of Barr from the beginning.

    Second, Wittes should have taken that more into consideration before he gave Barr the benefit of the doubt. But again, I am not sure what that has to do with Wittes’ current position on Barr.

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  53. @Loviatar:

    Forgiveness is to be earned, not given. Unearned forgiveness when given freely does not engender appreciation of the harm caused.

    Sincere question: if a public intellectual publically admitting they are wrong is not a way to earn forgiveness, what is?

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  54. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    A DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor and Deadpool in the back seat?

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  55. @Kathy: Fair.

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  56. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    if a public intellectual publically admitting they are wrong is not a way to earn forgiveness, what is?

    Elie Mystal wrote an article in 2018 about DC’s legal elites, specifically naming Wittes in the article. It explains my position much better than I ever could.

    Have You Ex-Kavanaugh Defenders Learned Anything?

    People make mistakes, cabals make mistakes, but for society to move forward, people must be able to learn from their mistakes. There’s nothing in Wittes’s piece that suggests he’s learned a goddamn thing.

    Within a few months of the articles publication, Wittes supported Bill Barr’s nomination for Attorney General. He really didn’t learn a damm thing. What makes you think he learned anything this time?

    —–

    I honestly do not understand what is productive about it.

    As a Professor of Political Science, you can probably list many bad political actors who are still feted within Washington’s salons. These elites, even though they caused great harm and their policies suggestions have been disproved are still called upon for advise (Henry Kissinger). Why? Part of the reason I believe is we’re too quick to forgive and once forgiven we then quickly memory hole the actions of these elites. This is my small way of saying, lets remember the harm done and not be so quick to forgive.

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  57. @Loviatar: Look, you are entitled to your position on Wittes. But, this is, of course, getting a bit silly given that the Wittes aspect of this post was a sidenote at best.

    Part of the reason I have even engaged as much as have on this is that I think it is important to recognize when people are willing to admit they were wrong.

    I also think that in an era in which large droves of people are rejecting the notion that evidence matters that we should be grateful for people who are willing to reassess their positions when new information comes to light.

    If we are going to demand that only people are “right” (as in “correct”) from the get go and then never deviate from that position, then we are asking for dogmatists, not analysts.

    And if we are going to only glom on the errors of people we disagree with, even when they correct themselves later, then we are encouraging them to be dogmatists as well.

    After all, if all one is going to get is crap if one is mistaken even after one has corrected that mistake then some people will decide to stay in their bubble where people won’t continually yell at them.

    There is a broader discussion of recycling elites like Kissinger. But I don’t think it is forwarded by deciding that all that matter from Wittes on Barr is his original position.

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  58. A note on Barr’s nomination and why someone might have tried to find the positive in all of it at the time, let’s not forget that we had a President at the time that it was not out of the realm of possibility that he could have tried to appoint someone like Rudy Giuliani or even Jeannine Pirro. After all, the guy who had been appointed the acting AG had a resume that included working on the advisory board of a company making a “masculine toilet” for well-endowed gentlemen.

    In that context one could be forgiven, I think, for thinking a previous AG might not be so bad.

    Again: I was skeptical of Barr at the time, but I will also say he has been far, far worse than I thought he would be.

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  59. Loviatar says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In that context one could be forgiven, I think, for thinking a previous AG might not be so bad.

    This quote gets to the heart of my argument.

    We’ve forgotten how bad Barr was as Bush’s AG, maybe because so many have “forgiven” him. Barr has been unapologetic for 30+ years in defending his policy decisions as Bush’s AG; he defended the actions he took on the political stage (Iran-Contra cover-up), he defended his day-to-day justice policies (drug war, death penalty, etc.). It was known that Barr’s policy positions as Trump’s AG would be no different than they were 30 years ago when he was Bush’s AG, it was all there to be seen prior to his confirmation. But because he was “forgiven” it was assumed he could not be so bad when he was nominated this time.

    Forgiveness if not earned has no value. It becomes nothing more than an after-the-fact excuse for wrongdoing.

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  60. @Loviatar:

    But because he was “forgiven” it was assumed he could not be so bad when he was nominated this time.

    Forgiveness if not earned has no value. It becomes nothing more than an after-the-fact excuse for wrongdoing.

    You keep conflating “forgiving” Barr (which has never been on the table) and forgiving Wittes, which is a whole other issue.

    I don’t even understand why you can’t step back and acknowledge what I am trying to say. I have made multiple attempts at explaining my position and you keep defaulting back to “Barr is horrible!” (which I am not disputing).

    And while this will likely make things worse, I will say it anyway: if we had gotten 90s Barr for all his faults, that would have been a vast improvement over 21st Century Barr.

    But, time to move on.

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