Friday Edition


1. Say Something Nice About Trump

Bubba’s Two Cents: Donald Trump is seen as a political wrecking ball and a loudmouth. But one advantage to his style is he’s more willing than other GOP politicians to risk alienating factions from his own coalition. Because he clearly doesn’t give a damn about convention (whether it’s media, liberal or conservative convention), he's broken with traditional Republican thinking in several areas. It’s led him to stake out some surprisingly savvy positions, like on abortion, where he’s closer to the American public than many on his side.

When it comes to selecting his 2024 running mate, abortion is reportedly high on the list of Trump’s concerns. (NBC News)

NBC News reporter Dasha Burns: “According to two sources close to Trump, … Trump has been laser-focused on the abortion issue, especially when it comes to his vice presidential pick. He sees it as the one major advantage for Democrats and a vulnerability for Republicans.”

The New York Times reported last month Trump has privately signaled he’s leaning toward a 16-week abortion ban as a middle-ground position that might pacify social conservatives in his coalition. But it’s not like Trump has made a big secret of his willingness to moderate on abortion and related issues, like in vitro fertilization.

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. Since the Dobbs ruling, a record-high 69% of the public say abortions in the first trimester should be legal.

2. Kamala’s Pro-Weed Makeover

Bubba’s Two Cents: From Joe Biden pushing a tough on crime bill to Barack Obama sounding like an anti-immigrant Republican, there’s a storied tradition of politicians once having held positions that might get them canceled in today’s parties. Kamala Harris’ flip-flop on marijuana is quite high profile given her history as a district attorney. It’s a reminder of how, in a relatively short span of time, the mainstream Democratic Party has shifted left on a number of issues.

Today, the vice president will join rapper Fat Joe and people pardoned by the Biden administration for marijuana-related crimes for a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform. (The Hill)

In February, Harris said “nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed.” In 2022, President Biden pardoned everyone federally convicted of simple marijuana possession.

The vice president’s current stance on weed contrasts sharply with her past as a tough on crime prosecutor. In eight years as a district attorney for San Francisco, Harris oversaw 1,956 convictions for pot offenses.

Progressivism’s growing influence on the left has led to Democrats getting way more liberal on many topics, but especially immigration, race and health care.

3. Free Speech Is Back on Campus

Bubba’s Two Cents: The mantle of free speech defender seems to shift somewhat regularly. For a long time, free speech was an issue linked to the activist left (for instance, the ACLU defending flag burning in the 80s and 90s). Then, debates over political correctness and “wokeness” on college campuses led to free speech being broadly associated with the right. Now, the pendulum has swung back a little bit as leftists claim freedom of speech to defend pro-Palestine rallies on campuses and protest Republican laws against “wokeness” in schools.

A new Axios poll finds 68% of college students believe in protecting free speech on campuses, even if the speech in question consists of physical threats or incites violence. (Axios)

Free speech is a major concern for 32% of students, just behind tuition (50%) and safety (46%).

  • 77% of students feel campus speech should be protected even if it upsets some people.

  • Both Democratic and Republican students agree on free speech, but a gender gap exists: 74% of men vs. 61% of women support expanded speech rights.

  • 55% of students feel their universities favor endowments and donors over free speech, and 57% say their schools are biased towards Israel or pro-Israel issues.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, colleges have been trying to balance free speech rights with fears of rising campus antisemitism. A number of wealthy alumni have pulled funding over concerns that universities aren’t doing enough to combat antisemitism from pro-Palestinian protesters. One study found 73% of Jewish students had been victimized or witnessed antisemitism since the start of the fall semester.

During testimony before Congress in December, Ivy League university presidents defended the free speech rights of pro-Palestinian protesters accused of advocating for genocide.

This is kind of ironic. In the last ten years, universities (especially elite colleges) have become way less tolerant of conservative views and other non-mainstream speech, according to free speech advocacy groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

4. This Sounds Really Bad for McKinsey

Bubba’s Two Cents: McKinsey, a bigtime management consulting firm, is alleged to have been involved in a slew of scandals — from the Enron collapse to the 2008 financial crisis and now an opioid sale controversy with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Even the biggest advocates of capitalism and the free market have reservations about companies like these.

House lawmakers sent a letter to the VA this week seeking answers about a potential conflict of interest involving McKinsey and opioid prescriptions. (

The company has been advising the VA since at least 2009, earning north of $117 million for its services. At the same time, McKinsey also advised major opioid producers like Purdue Pharma and Endo International on increasing their opioid sales to the VA. Documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal last year revealed McKinsey recommended strategies for these companies to target the VA for opioid sales.

In 2021, McKinsey settled opioid-related lawsuits for $642 million without admitting wrongdoing, and the documents from the settlement show the firm was involved in pushing opioid sales to the VA.

  • Over 600,000 people have died from opioid abuse in the U.S. since 1999, with veterans heavily impacted in the 2010s.

  • A 2020 study linked deployments to increased opioid abuse among veterans.

The implications here are super disturbing: Was McKinsey pushing opioids to the VA to make money for its Big Pharma clients?

5. One For the Road

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