Barr at Hillsdale College

October 4, 2020 at 9:56 pm

The attorney general of the United States, William Barr, has given, at Hillsdale College, a wonderful speech on politics and the Justice Department. It builds on Robert Jackson's classic speech of 1940 that we mentioned here back in 2017 in Preet Bharara and Robert Jackson.

Barr made the essential point that political control of prosecutors helps to protect liberty. This aligns with the argument we made here in "Politicize the State Department and FDA, Please. It Beats the Alternative." Here is how Barr put it at Hillsdale:

The most basic check on prosecutorial power is politics. ... political accountability—politics—is what ultimately ensures our system does its work fairly and with proper recognition of the many interests and values at stake. Government power completely divorced from politics is tyranny.

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Biden Presses Warren-Sanders Hard-Leftism

October 1, 2020 at 9:19 am

Vice President Biden is really pushing the Wall Street-bashing.

Here is a passage from his remarks as prepared for delivery September 30 in Johnstown, Pa., as provided by his campaign:

Donald Trump can only see the world from Park Avenue.

He only cares what the super-rich and connected think.

He only sees value in stock portfolios. His only metric for how the economy is doing is the Dow Jones.

He doesn't care if communities like Johnstown are still hurting.

He doesn't have a plan to help you get back on your feet or deliver relief to the people who most need the help.

He's too busy planning his next big tax give away to the 100 richest folks in the country. ...

Look, I've dealt with guys like Trump my whole life.

Guys who look down on you because they've got a lot of money.

Guys who think they're better than you.

Guys who might let you park their car at the country club. But would never let you in.

Guys who inherited everything they ever got in life. And then squandered it.

I see the world from where I grew up — in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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John Mackey on Covid-19, Profits

September 27, 2020 at 9:16 am

The New York Times has an interview with Whole Foods founder John Mackey that includes a couple of interesting passages. On the coronavirus:

there's a very high correlation between obesity and Covid deaths. And one of the reasons the United States has had more of a problem with Covid is simply that the comorbidities like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, they're just higher in the U.S.

This is an interesting interpretation to find in the New York Times, which elsewhere in its news columns has been busily insisting, along with the Biden presidential campaign, that the reason the United States has had more of a problem with Covid is, as one recent New York Times news article put it, "Mr. Trump's vast failures on the coronavirus pandemic."

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Noah Feldman on Amy Coney Barrett

September 27, 2020 at 12:23 am

Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, who was a star witness in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, writes that Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is "a brilliant lawyer, a genuine and good person...when she is confirmed, I am going to accept it as the consequence of the constitutional rules we have and the choices we collectively and individually have made. And I'm going to be confident that Barrett is going to be a good justice, maybe even a great one—even if I disagree with her all the way."

Feldman is taking flak from the left for that piece—Stanford law professor Michele Dauber let lose some particularly nasty tweets in response—but it strikes me as a brave move, a welcome departure from the usual partisan pattern in these situations of desperately trying everything to block whomever the other side puts up.

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Honoring Ginsburg

September 27, 2020 at 12:03 am

Many people are honoring the memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by making political contributions to the campaigns of Democrats running for Senate. This is ironic, because Ginsburg herself was a consistent vote in the Supreme Court to restrict the ability of people to make such political expenditures, notwithstanding the First Amendment preventing Congress from abridging the rights of speech, assembly, and petition. In virtually every campaign finance case that came before her— Citizens United, McConnell v. FEC, McCutcheon v. FEC, Davis v. FEC, Nixon v. Shrink, Randall v. Sorrell—Ginsburg deferred to the legislators who enacted restrictive campaign finance laws, ostensibly to prevent the corrupting influence of campaign contributions. She declined to use the First Amendment to strike down the laws as unconstitutional.

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Biden Fundraised on Park Avenue Before Attacking It

September 26, 2020 at 11:15 pm

Joe Biden, who has lately been attacking Park Avenue on the campaign trail, held an 80-person fundraiser there in January of this year, I report in my column this week. Please check out the full column at the New Boston Post ("Joe Biden Runs Against Park Avenue, Where He Raised Money"), Newsmax ("Biden Runs Against Park Avenue Revealing He's Anti-Growth"), and the New York Sun ("Biden Attacks Park Avenue While Raising Money There").

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ACLU Campaigns Against Trump

September 20, 2020 at 11:14 pm

A direct mail letter from the executive director of the ACLU, Anthony D. Romero, claims, "Fueled by racial animosity and political desperation, Trump won't stop at anything to keep people from the polls this November." The partisan turn by the non-profit American Civil Liberties Union was the topic of my column last week. Please check out the full column at the New Boston Post ("ACLU Campaigns for Biden"), Newsmax ("ACLU Campaigns for Biden"), and the New York Sun ("ACLU Turns Political, Backing Biden Campaign"). It was also picked up in the New York Post.

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Wall Street Journal Falls for Cuban Propaganda

September 20, 2020 at 10:59 pm

The Wall Street Journal magazine falls for Communist Cuban propaganda about how it's better in Havana than Florida. Under the headline "Cuba Is Staying Strong," the Journal reports:

As world travel began to close down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Collin Laverty had to make a snap decision: Miami or Havana? For an American who divides his time between the two cities as he runs Cuba Educational Travel, an agency that in less restricted times counted U.S. senators and tech-world luminaries among its clientele, the choice was obvious. "I felt the Cubans were going to do a better job," he explained by phone from Havana. "It would be safer here."

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Biden Fundraises for the Transition

September 20, 2020 at 10:38 pm

Joe Biden is trying to raise at least $7 million before Election Day for his presidential transition, Politico reports. "Two people involved in fundraising for a Biden transition said it has already brought in at least $2 million, and one person said the transition has already raised $3 million...Raising money for the transition is a discreet enterprise, as donors said they want to avoid the appearance of presumptuousness during the election."

The Politico article doesn't explain whether the donors get a refund if Biden loses and there is no "transition."

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Fake N95 Masks from Hong Kong

September 20, 2020 at 10:28 pm

A press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports on the seizure of 20,000 counterfeit N95 masks at the Port of Boston, arriving from Hong Kong. A brief report in the Saturday New York Times described it as "the latest example of scammers attempting to profiteer from fake personal protective equipment."

It's certainly possible that profits are the motive of those trying to sell this stuff, but in the long run, you can probably make more profit selling equipment that works. Left unexplored are possible other possible motives, such as a desire by a hostile foreign government to harm or damage the United States.

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Judge Alison Nathan on Misconduct by FBI and Federal Prosecutors

September 18, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Anyone who mistakenly thought the departure of Preet Bharara would be the end of shenanigans by federal prosecutors and FBI agents in New York—actually, anyone interested in justice—will want to read carefully the scathing opinion and order issued this week by Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in the case of United States of America v. Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad. Judge Nathan is concerned after it emerged that federal prosecutors failed to meet their disclosure obligations. "When the Court pressed for more information about one of these failures, the Government made a misrepresentation to the Court. This serious dereliction requires a serious response," she wrote.

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Biden Versus Park Avenue

September 18, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Biden the Divider is at it again. Last night in a CNN Town hall, Joe Biden said, "I view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue...All Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. All he thinks about is the stock market."

The Democratic presidential candidate amplified it in a tweet: "This election is Scranton vs. Park Avenue."

Leave it to Soledad O'Brien to respond brilliantly with a pushback against Biden's zero-sum approach of pitting one part of America against another: "Or... both. NYC's Park Avenue is amazing. No need to knock it. Would be nice to have a President who sees every American as worth fighting for. Thank you."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

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The Ruling-Class Consensus

September 15, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Jacob Siegel writes in Tablet Magazine:

Over the past four years, the big names in journalism have shared a single overriding preoccupation: consolidating an emergent ruling-class social consensus that justifies itself in large part by the claim that Donald Trump's presidency is an existential threat that makes every action by the White House a national emergency. The media both demonstrates and justifies its role in opposing this extraordinary threat by hyping one crisis of American democracy after another. Fascism is upon us! The Russians are taking over! The Russians are behind the white nationalists who are taking over! Kavanaugh! Ukraine! Impeachment! The Post Office!

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Two Undecided Voters: Gary Cohn, Stephen Ross

September 14, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Polls indicate there are fewer undecided voters in the presidential election this time around than there were in 2016.

At least a few among them, though, have made themselves publicly known. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president who served as director of Trump's National Economic Council until April 2018, told CNBC on Monday, "I honestly haven't made up my mind." And Stephen Ross, "the billionaire real estate developer who founded Related Companies, owns the Miami Dolphins and has an interest in brands including SoulCycle and Equinox," and who hosted a fundraiser for Trump in 2019, told the New York Times last month, "I haven't really made a decision who I'm voting for."

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Milton Friedman on the Social Responsibility of Business

September 14, 2020 at 9:16 am

The enduring relevance of Milton Friedman has been a recurring theme around here. Please see, for example, 2018's "The Hottest Midterm Race Is Milton Friedman Versus Marc Benioff" and 2020's "Biden Runs Against Milton Friedman."

Sunday's New York Times devoted a full special print section to the 50th anniversary of a Friedman New York Times Magazine essay headlined "The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits."

As part of the project, the Times solicited pieces reflecting on the essay.

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