Good Friday Morning! Democrats decided this week that since the Mueller report failed to meet their expectations, they were going to move on to questioning AG Barr. That was equally pointless, as I get into below. Links follow.
What isn’t pointless is the topic of abortion — Democrats are increasingly asserting more and more extreme things on this topic. Alexandra Desanctis of National Review covered an Alabama lawmaker this week talking about the need to abort the poor and unneeded — which is straight out of the eugenics playbook:
“Some kids are unwanted,” he went on. “So you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or kill them later.”
I don’t plan on digging into this topic this week, but I do want to highlight this particular story because 1) It’s insane, and 2) Democratic extremism on abortion is something that could become an important topic in the 2020 election. I’d file stories like this away for now and watch for them to grow over the next year.
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.
Bernie Sanders came out at a town hall for the voting rights of people in prison. Kamala Harris followed along during the town hall before backpedaling the next day quickly. The primary point in this back and forth: should the Boston Marathon bomber be given voting rights? If this is a tough question — you might be running for President in the Democratic Party.
The New York Times printed a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon in their international edition. And when I say it was anti-Semitic, it took visual cues from the things you’d find out of Nazi Germany — literally, I shared a link in this piece to the cartoons you could compare. The NYT apologized, but they printed another anti-Semitic picture from the same artist. Like Ilhan Omar, they know what they’re doing.
Apple Earnings Report proves my economic thesis
Last week, I wrote about how the next recession will be worse than the previous because we’ve fundamentally failed to deal with the underlying structural problems in the economy.
Further, the two growing areas, corporate and student loan debt, will be the major flashpoints. Corporations are incentivized to use cheap debt, since interest rates are artificially low, to buy back stocks. Apple’s earnings report this past week was instructive, via the WSJ: “Apple’s iPhone Revenue Drops 17%: Overall revenue and profit decline, though results exceed expectations; shares climb in after-hours trading.”
Keep that in mind: Apple showed a loss of 17% in revenues — but its shares climbed in after-hours trading. Why? Let’s see:
Apple also blunted the damage from its iPhone business by extending the robust growth of services like app sales and streaming-music subscriptions, which collectively jumped 16%. It also said it would add $75 billion to its continuing share-buyback program. …
Apple’s share-repurchase plan is down slightly from last year’s $100 billion commitment, which was the largest ever announced by a U.S. company, according to data from research firm Birinyi Associates. Apple has bought back $71.6 billion since announcing that prior commitment, bringing total repurchases since 2012 to nearly $275 billion. Apple didn’t give a timetable for when it will fulfill the new commitment.
The company’s board also approved a 5% increase in its quarterly dividend to 77 cents a share, building on last year’s 16% increase.
In other words: a major US company, which is a significant portion of US markets, is struggling to keep revenue growth up but investors are shrugging off those fundamentals because of stock buybacks.
This situation isn’t a sign of proper economic health long term. Apple isn’t alone in taking these types of actions, as I noted last week. What we’re witnessing here is widespread behavior.
The Barr testimony is a waste of time
Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony regarding the Mueller report is one of the most useless exercises of Congressional testimony we’ve had for some time. Democrats in Congress aren’t interested in collusion, obstruction, or anything else relating to the Mueller report — they’re focused in on whether or not Barr was truthful in his summary memo before releasing the full Mueller report. When I say the goalposts have gotten moved — they’ve been moved to another country.
Barr didn’t commit perjury. He doesn’t need to resign. He won’t get impeached. I didn’t think his testimony was all that effective — but that’s because I see it as a waste of time to focus in on summary memos and leaked letters from Mueller on that summary when WE HAVE THE ACTUAL REPORT.
And I’ll prove to you that this is a waste of time by quoting the other side of this debate. Lawfare blog is one of the better Center-Left legal commentary sites out there. They regularly publish well-known legal thinkers on the right (Josh Blackman is one of my favorites). Lawfare is primarily run and funded by the Brookings Institution, a left-wing think tank. The point is, these aren’t liberal firebrands talking for the most part (I’ll get to one of the firebrands).
So while Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, and others are calling for perjury, Lawfare went the other way: “Pelosi’s accusation is serious, and it adds fuel to the fire stoked by congressional Democrats demanding that Barr step down. There’s just one problem: The legal standard for perjury is a high one, and it’s highly unlikely that the attorney general’s comments clear that bar.”
The authors of that piece complain that Barr engaged in thoroughly technical and “masterful” hairsplitting in asking and answering questions. But there’s no evidence of lying.
Let’s go with another Lawfare contributor, Benjamin Wittes. He wrote a piece in The Atlantic that was far more bombastic, calling Barr a catastrophe, “Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general—whoever he or she is—is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president.”
Sounds serious, right?
Before he lists off all his reasons for disliking Barr’s testimony he writes these bizarre paragraphs:
The core of the problem is not that Barr moved, as many people worried he would, to suppress the report; it is what he has said about it. I have spent a great deal of time with the Mueller report, about which Barr’s public statements are simply indefensible. The mischaracterizations began in his first letter. They got worse during his press conference the morning he released the document. And they grew worse still yesterday in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Barr did not lie in any of these statements. He did not, as some people insist, commit perjury. I haven’t found a sentence he has written or said that cannot be defended as truthful on its own terms, if only in some literal sense. But it is possible to mislead without lying. One can be dishonest before Congress without perjury. And one can convey sweeping untruths without substantial factual misstatement. This is what Barr has been doing since that first letter. And it is utterly beneath the United States Department of Justice.
So Barr didn’t suppress the report, he didn’t go overboard with redactions, he didn’t lie, he didn’t write or say a single sentence that “cannot be defended as truthful on its own terms.” But yet Barr is still a disgrace for “conveying untruths.”
The night before his testimony, the Washington Post dropped a “bombshell” report saying that Mueller wrote to Barr about that summary. The bombshell that the Washington Post plastered at the top of their story: “Mueller complained that Barr’s letter did not capture ‘context’ of Trump probe” and they went on to effectively accuse Barr of lying about the Mueller report in that summary. What they bury in that story is a reported phone call conversation:
A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials.
In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction probe was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously that he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction.
When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.
Note who Mueller says is getting things wrong here: the media. Mueller is slated to testify later this month, and I suspect we’ll learn more about all of these letters and phone calls. The full letter Mueller sent is here, and it has none of the “bombshell” nature everyone ascribed to it in the news.
So to recap: we have the Mueller report and all its conclusions and evidence. Congressional leadership has no intention to impeach Trump over that evidence. No one in Congress can point to where Barr is lying. And we’re arguing over where or not a 4-page summary of the nearly 450 page Mueller report is an accurate paraphrase. We’re also arguing over whether or not Barr or Mueller was right on whether the Mueller report should have gotten released piecemeal or all at once (Barr was right).
Like I said — a complete waste of time. All the real action is in the Mueller report. We may learn some new things during Mueller’s testimony. Everything about Barr’s testimony was about both parties posturing.
Links of the week
Victims of Communism Day 2019: Why May 1 should be a day to honor the victims of the ideology that took more innocent lives than any other. – Ilya Somin, The Volokh Conspiracy
If Democratic men really want a woman president, why not drop out? – Karol Markowicz, The New York Post
MSNBC Report on Venezuela Makes Case for Second Amendment: ‘In Venezuela, gun ownership is not something that’s open to everybody. So if the military have the guns, they have the power’ – Andrew Kugle, The Washington Free Beacon
Black Lives Matter on Campus Also: Civil rights for women shouldn’t come at the cost of civil liberties for black men. – David French, National Review
Understanding the Inescapable Reality of Masculinity – David French, National Review
Chicago Impounds Innocent People’s Cars and Soaks Them in Fines. Now It’s Getting Sued: Following a Reason investigation into Chicago’s punitive vehicle impound program, a new lawsuit alleges the practice violates Chicagoans constitutional rights. – C.J. Ciaramella, Reason Magazine
Camille Paglia Can’t Say That: Art students are trying to get the social critic fired from a job she has held for three decades. – Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic
No One Is Allowed to Leave This Scientology Cruise Ship Because of Measles – Alex Lubben, Vice
Reversing the Baby Bust: Twenty-first century stresses are driving down birthrates and weakening families. Can policy provide a way out? – Charles Fain Lehman, The American Conservative
Former CIA Officer Pleads Guilty to Chinese Espionage Conspiracy: Jerry Chun Shing Lee linked to large-scale loss of CIA agents in China – Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon
Buspirone Shortage In Healthcaristan SSR (Thoughts on the drug shortage problem and how government exacerbates the issue) – Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex
Playing Politics with Pregnancy in South Bend – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review
Falling for My Booty Call: Sarah Kasbeer reflects on a history of hookups — and why they left her cold. – Sarah Kasbeer, Longreads.com
Twitter and social media purges are latest steps for prospects in NFL draft process – Lorenzo Reyes, USA Today
Let’s Watch Netflix: Three Words Guaranteed to Kill a Romantic Mood: Is streaming video responsible for America’s falling fertility rate? ‘One of us usually ends up falling asleep.’ – Shalini Ramachandran, The Wall Street Journal
Why Democrats’ Most Liberal Wing Is Struggling To Gain Power – Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight
Democrats Are Stifling Their Liberal Wing’s Biggest Ideas – Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight
Why are so many people getting rare cancers in this small Georgia town? – Joshua Sharpe, Atlanta Magazine
Hand dryers v paper towels: the surprisingly dirty fight for the right to dry your hands – Samanth Subramanian, The Guardian
Satire piece of the week
New App Helps You Find Token Friend Of Color – The Babylon Bee
SUNNYVALE, CA—There’s a hot new app in Silicon Valley: Diversafriend. The app allows you to choose from thousands of different friends of color, so you can make racist jokes while assuring people it’s OK because you have a non-white friend.
The app features a searchable database of friends for hire, sorted by race. When you select a friend and pay the fee, they’ll come hang out with you for a designated amount of time. You can take selfies with them, tag them in photos on Facebook, and make racist jokes while they’re around. Then you’ll always have proof that you’re a very diverse, inclusive, loving person.
“Want a black friend so you can tell black jokes? Want an Asian friend so you can make a reference to how Asians are bad drivers? Diversafriend has got you covered,” said Diversafriend CEO Will Meyers, a savvy, white entrepreneur in his 20s. “Just the other day I used the app myself so I could be seen in public with a POC. It’s really good PR.”
Thanks for reading!