Editor’s note: Thank you so much for your thoughts and feedback on our special edition yesterday! (and for bearing with our glitches and errors… )
Some highlights from the dozens of emails we received:
“This edition, concept and content, is next level.”
“I disagreed with a couple points made, with the thought that I could argue the points, and only sub-vocalized, ‘BS!’ once (while thinking of a source for contradictory evidence). That is an amazing record of effective treatment of complex issues.”
“Keep up the good work and keep showing both sides that the other side is also smart, caring, and thoughtful.”
In case you missed it, here we are answering over twenty anonymous questions posed to liberals and conservatives. Give it a read if you have a few, and please share far and wide!
On Tuesday, Attorney General nominee William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The left is divided on whether Barr can be an impartial Attorney General.
“On June 8, 2018, while a private citizen, Barr had delivered a 19-page memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein… It starts out with an acknowledgment that Barr has no idea what facts Mueller has uncovered… He goes on to make assumption after assumption about the evidence Mueller does or does not have. He then proceeds to offer his admittedly uninformed opinions based on those assumptions… Barr is plainly setting up straw men just to knock them down.”
During the hearing, he “criticized former FBI Director James Comey for his decision, mere weeks before the 2016 election, to publicly criticize Hillary Clinton when announcing the decision to not prosecute her over her email security while secretary of state. ‘If you’re not going to indict somebody, you don’t stand up there and unload negative information,’ he explained. That raises questions about how much information he’ll disclose about the Russia investigation if it’s not used to bring criminal charges.”
He also “[claimed] not to know what [the emoluments clause] is… but the emoluments clause — and litigation around it — has become a key flashpoint in the larger debate over Trump’s financial conflicts of interest and lack of disclosure about his finances… Under the circumstances, the safest path for Barr was probably to say nothing — which is what he did.”
“Trump has eschewed job candidates with Bush ties. As a result, Trump’s most important appointments have been mostly inexperienced… [But Barr is] someone who is proudly and in a highly traditional way presenting himself as a mainstream, experienced, Republican official… Expect Barr to defend the president’s legal prerogatives aggressively… But also expect that, if Mueller can show Barr definitively that Trump colluded with Russia to subvert [the] 2016 election, committed crimes or engaged in an unlawful cover-up, Barr will listen — and act accordingly.”
Barr stated, “‘In the current environment, the American people have to know that there are places in the government where the rule of law, not politics, holds sway’…That was an important and reassuring message… [Barr] is a conservative Republican with views that not every American will embrace. But he came across as highly qualified and committed to the traditions, procedures and mores of the Justice Department.”
Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg
“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week
The right supports Barr and is optimistic about his confirmation chances following the hearing.
The right supports Barr and is optimistic about his confirmation chances following the hearing.
Many are highlighting Barr’s statement that, “I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences, in the sense that I can truly be independent… President Trump has sought no assurances, promises, or commitments from me of any kind, either expressed or implied, and I have not given him any, other than that I would run the department with professionalism and integrity.”
“Barr emphasized that the conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation required as much transparency as the law allows. That may not be great news for the White House, depending on what Mueller includes in his report… Barr’s even-handedness and straight-arrow approach will give Senate Democrats few opportunities to launch any effective attacks that will paint Barr as a Trump toady.”
“Credit to Mr. Barr for defending his memo [last year] as entirely appropriate, and for refusing to say he’d recuse himself from the Mueller probe…
“The Constitution’s guardrails are especially important when passions are high and political mobs want heads on pikes. As Mr. Barr’s memo put it: If a Justice investigation ‘is going to take down a democratically-elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one.’”
Wall Street Journal
Barr “not only survived his eight-hour Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday but left it with a strong chance of picking up Democratic votes… The smooth confirmation of a new attorney general seemed unimaginable last year, when Democrats warned that Trump's decision to fire Jeff Sessions had sparked a ‘constitutional crisis’ amid fears that Trump was looking to take control of the ongoing investigation into whether he colluded with Russia to win the election in 2016.”
“If the Democrats oppose someone like William Barr, there is no one that they would support… Barr is the right man to clean up the political gamesmanship that corrupted the upper echelons of the Justice Department and FBI under the previous administration and should be confirmed without delay.”
“Trump should be overjoyed. Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans on the things Americans buy. The only way China can be paying any of them is if something else, something extra, then happens — like the yuan dropping. This makes all imports into China more expensive for Chinese citizens. That's China paying for Trump's tariffs when the yuan falls. Without this happening, only Americans pay. With the yuan dropping, China pays as well. This is the claim Trump has been making all along, that China's really paying those trade taxes — now they are… Imposing significant export tariffs on a country should mean the value of that currency falls. This is what is happening. Why is Trump complaining about it?”
Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner
“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News
“President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner
A libertarian's take
“Outside Hong Kong, the silence Is deafening… Some protesters in Hong Kong today are adopting the British Union Jack flag, the American flag and the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as symbols, yet that doesn’t seem to have stirred our collective imaginations… Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world…
“It’s 2019, and the land of the American Revolution, a country whose presidents gave stirring speeches about liberty and freedom in Berlin during the Cold War, remains in a complacent slumber. It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg
World's 'loneliest' frog gets a date.