Good Friday Morning! Raise your hand if you’ve been cuddled, nuzzled, groped, nose-kissed, or hugged closely by Joe Biden! The former Vice President is in hot water over his antics going back… well… forever. I’ll get more into that below. It’s a grab-bag of quick-hit this week, I’ll cover my thoughts on Biden and other topics that popped up throughout the week — no overly lengthy writeups this week. Links follow, and I’m also sharing some great law review articles this week.
I’ve been doing some research on a project that’s required me to jump into reading law review articles to learn a lot on a topic in a fast manner. That made me think about law review articles that have impacted me and that I’ve shared with others. Two jumped out to me in that process:
The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion – Michael W. McConnell, 103 Harvard Law Review 1409 (1989).
Embodied Equality: Debunking Equal Protection Arguments for Abortion Rights – Erika Bachiochi, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 34, No. 3 (2011).
McConnell’s article is a classic on the history of the free exercise clauses of the First Amendment. The two provisions are in the first sentence of the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” McConnell’s arguments got ultimately rejected by Antonin Scalia in the case Employment Division vs. Smith, and the free exercise of religion has been hampered ever since. I wrote my college honors thesis on McConnell’s jurisprudence as a judge and sided with him over Scalia on the free exercise debate — this article shaped all my thoughts in this area of law.
Bachiochi’s article is a tour de force debunking and wrecking every single pro-choice argument out there. Bachiochi is a pro-life feminist who grapples with the arguments put forward by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and all the underlying scholarship RBG cites in her pro-abortion opinions. Bachiochi dismantles those arguments and in a highly persuasive manner, describes how modern feminism has abandoned its roots of supporting women and instead has adopted a male-centric view of the world that is destructive to feminism.
If you enjoy that kind of reading, I hope you enjoy those two pieces.
Where you can find me this week
Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter. You can also go to their Facebook page. You can join Ricochet here. And I do recommend their ever-growing network of podcasts, which you can find on all popular podcast platforms. They have a show for every topic you can imagine, and the list continues to grow.
Israel has had to start defending itself recently from Hamas firing rockets into Gaza. That brings the usual chorus of anti-Israeli boos from the media gallery. But did you know the story before this latest round of Hamas rockets? Palestinians were protesting Hamas in the streets, leading to brutal put-downs by the terrorist organization. Hamas launched the attacks to distract from their failures.
A relatively new concept has entered the legal lexicon in the last couple of decades: super-precedence. This concept applies to case law that is so important the court should only overturn it or reign it in with extreme caution. Also interestingly, the policy only applies to cases that liberals believe are extra important.
Joe Biden’s bad week
Joe Biden has had multiple women complain about him getting too close. This news was surprising to precisely zero people. I mean, all you have to do is go to Google Images and search “Joe Biden” and something about being close to women and you’ll get decades of creepy old uncle Joe.
Joe Biden’s creepy old uncle depiction is well known The Onion has years of satirical stories of Diamond Joe Biden, all of which are hilarious. They had one in 2010 named, “Biden Invites Nation’s Women To Tax Code Discussion At Private Mountain Chalet.” Some of their other hits:
- Shirtless Biden Washes Trans Am In White House Driveway
- Biden Making Plans To Go Completely Legit After Vice Presidency
- Biden Lines Up Sweet Summer Gig Installing Above-Ground Swimming Pools
- Biden To Cool His Heels In Mexico For A While
In other words, this isn’t new. And it’s not shocking. The Onion’s satirical take on Biden goes back to 2009 at least.
Peggy Noonan had a pretty solid point on this on Meet the Press; she said that Biden came from the more “fleshy” 1960s and 1970s, where people were trying to get past the stodgy past. Biden was part of the political effort that tried to get closer to people. That’s his background for sure, though sniffing women’s hair, as is alleged, is a bit beyond that. And that has allowed Trump the natural opening of sharing viral meme videos of Biden on twitter (never forget: Presidential historians will have to catalog and explain Trump’s tweets and memes to future generations).
The Biden moment and the attacks rolling out against him aren’t valuable as a cultural point. I know some people are trying to write and make it about the need for privacy, but this story doesn’t fit that bill well. The Biden story is only interesting insofar that it tells us: 1) the progressive left doesn’t want Biden, and 2) Biden is struggling to get a campaign off the ground, despite high name recognition — he fears to be Jeb! 2.0.
The #MeToo style opposition hits on Biden are coming straight from the far-left. The belief, both in the Biden camp and in conventional-wisdom land, is that Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris supporters are running most of the hits against Biden. The democratic-socialist left doesn’t want Biden, and he’s too moderate for them. The irony here is that Biden was long one of the most liberal members of the Senate.
And yes — these are hits — Biden’s behavior got tolerated for decades. But now that he’s running for President and he’s less useful for them now, the opposition hits are coming fast.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect to all of the Biden issues — Barack and Michelle Obama’s complete silence.
If anyone could clear the air around Biden, it would be the Obama’s, and their decision not to help Biden is telling. The only person to defend Biden from the Obama world is former aide Valarie Jarrett, who is in the middle of a book release media blitz.
Biden could credibly run as the third term of the Obama administration, and yet no one from that segment of the party is helping him make that pitch. And as these opposition hits are coming in faster, and it’s almost a lockdown guarantee they’ll continue, no one from the Obama world is telling people to call off the attack dogs.
I’ve said in the past that Joe Biden’s best day in the race would be the day he entered, and it’d be all downhill from there. Odds are he still runs, but the Democratic field is stacking the odds against him. And since the media has happily joined the democratic-socialist left, they’ll stack themselves against Biden too.
Media goes into attack-mode on Barr summary
Two news stories dropped Wednesday evening that caused a stir among the #Resistance set and the chattering classes. Both the New York Times and Washington Post dropped stories alleging that AG Barr’s summary of the Mueller report was friendlier to Trump than the Mueller investigation and report.
It’s possible that both are true. I’m taking both with a massive grain of salt because the sourcing is the same. The New York Times story said:
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
The officials and others interviewed declined to flesh out why some of the special counsel’s investigators viewed their findings as potentially more damaging for the president than Mr. Barr explained, although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation. It was unclear how much discussion Mr. Mueller and his investigators had with senior Justice Department officials about how their findings would be made public. It was also unclear how widespread the vexation is among the special counsel team, which included 19 lawyers, about 40 F.B.I. agents and other personnel.
Notice how they’re phrasing their sources on this story, “Some of Mueller’s investigators have told associates…” It’s the same thing in the next paragraph, people close to the investigators on Mueller’s team. This phrasing isn’t direct sourcing — it’s hearsay within hearsay.
The Washington Post has almost identical phrasing:
Members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team have told associates they are frustrated with the limited information Attorney General William P. Barr has provided about their nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the matter.
But members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.
The reports are claiming those people are close to those on the investigation. So we’re a couple of layers removed. Again, hearsay within hearsay.
We’re getting a journalist’s summary of what one person says that another person said. It’s a game of telephone where paraphrasing is encouraged.
I have no doubt the final Mueller report will be damaging to Trump. We already know many of the public facts to some of those stories, and they aren’t flattering to anyone in the Trump administration.
But topline conclusions are topline conclusions. We know Mueller punted on the obstruction question — so no matter what the evidence says, he refused to make a prosecutorial decision on it. And Mueller definitively cleared Trump on the collusion front.
A point I keep coming back to is the media doesn’t have a single source on the Mueller team. Stories like this prove it. The press is claiming sources close to those on the investigation, but no one direct.
These stories, true or not, have the credibility of tabloids. It reeks more of desperation to hang on to the pre-Barr summary drumbeat of collusion than it does an honest fact-finding mission.
As I kept saying pre-Barr summary: wait for the Mueller report. All of the news stories that drop before it comes out are meaningless. The media has no sources directly on the investigation team, and they’ve got multiple accounts wrong. Wait for the redacted Mueller report; it’ll tell you everything.
And I’d bet money that when Barr and Mueller testify before Congress, they won’t contradict each other. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mueller cleared that Barr summary.
But again, until the actual report gets released, everything else from the media is conjecture.
Debt ceiling debate
It was one of the smaller stories of the week, but it’ll be the biggest story towards the end of the summer. Congress will have to tackle a lack of government funding and the need for a debt ceiling increase at the end of September. Marketwatch has the report:
The U.S. government will run out of cash to pay its bills around the end of the fiscal year if Congress doesn’t raise the nation’s debt limit before then, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday.
The debt limit is suspended through Friday, and was among the subjects lawmakers questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday.
The Fed chief said the idea that the U.S. wouldn’t pay its obligations when they’re due is “not something we can consider.”
The CBO said the Treasury can after Friday take what are known as extraordinary measures to keep borrowing without breaching the debt ceiling. In the past those steps have included suspending investments in civil-service retirement and federal employee funds.
“If the debt limit remains unchanged,” CBO said, “the ability to borrow using those measures will ultimately be exhausted, and the Treasury will probably run out of cash near the end of this fiscal year or early in the next one.” Read the CBO’s report.
The current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
So go ahead and mark the end of September down on your calendar. If Trump wants another wall showdown over the budget, or on healthcare has he’s increasingly signaled, September is when everything starts getting real.
Links of the week
[Video] The future of Brexit — interview with Daniel Hannan and Jonah Goldberg | VIEWPOINT, The American Enterprise Institute
Joe Biden Created the Culture He Is a Target Of: As vice president, Biden sought to remake the rules of sexual culture on college campuses and beyond. He succeeded—and now is suffering for it. – Emily Yoffe, Politico
The Real Joe Biden Decision: It’s not whether to run, but whether to run against the emerging consensus of his party. – Ross Douthat, The New York Times
‘The Wise Are Running for Their Lives’: Venezuela Simmers With Violence as Putin Sends in Russian Troops: Putin saved Assad in Syria. Can he save Maduro in Venezuela? It’s starting to look that way. – Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, The Daily Beast
The Underexamined Factor in Too Many Police Shootings – David French, National Review
Nationalism and Nationism – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
The Democratic Party Is Radicalizing: Extremism isn’t just affecting the GOP. – Peter Wehner, The Atlantic
Abortion will be considered unthinkable 50 years from now: The moral case against abortion. – Karen Swallow Prior, Vox
House Democrat declares herself ‘proud capitalist’ and rejects AOC vision: ‘I am offended by this whole conversation about socialism’ – Anna Giaritelli, The Washington Examiner
Republicans Learning to Play Identity Politics: Party leaders are recruiting a diverse roster of candidates for Congress in 2020. Will GOP voters get behind their choices? – Josh Kraushaar, National Journal
The Democratic Party Is Being Corbynized – Ziva Dahl, The Daily Wire
Paging Newsweek, Clean Up on Aisle One – Jonah Goldberg, National Review
#Heckled – Joshua Blackman
Is It Uncivil to Argue That Abortion Kills a Baby? – David French, National Review
Corbyn aide Laura Murray halted ban on ‘anti-semite’ Patricia Sheerin: Leaked emails reveal how Labour member’s suspension was blocked – Gabriel Pogrund and Richard Kerbaj, The Times UK
What Was the Washington Post Afraid Of? The Paper spiked a #MeToo Story. Why? – Irin Carmon, NYMagazine
Death by a Thousand Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong: The U.S. government claimed that turning American medical charts into electronic records would make health care better, safer, and cheaper. Ten years and $36 billion later, the system is an unholy mess: Inside a digital revolution gone wrong. A joint investigation by Fortune and Kaiser Health News. – Erika Fry and Fred Schulte, Fortune Magazine
Satire piece of the week
FORT RUCKER, Ala. — The U.S. Army will honor Elizabeth Warren and her Native American ancestry with the latest addition to its helicopter fleet, the AH-68 Warren, sources confirmed today.
The Warren will join the Black Hawk, Kiowa, Apache, and Lakota in the Army’s impressive legacy of combat aircraft named after Native American tribes.
The Warren conquered its two chief competitors, the AH-67 Redskin and V-23 Columbus, to win the Army contract.
“The Redskin just offended too many white people, and frankly, I’m not even sure Redskin is a real tribe,” said Army Acquisition Corps Spokesman Maj. Darren Snyder. “And the Columbus, well that death trap killed people every time it landed.”
Snyder dismissed concerns regarding Warren’s Native American ancestry.
“Do you really think Harvard hired her just to brag about having a Native American law professor?” he asked.
Thanks for reading!