Let us strive to be worthy of them.
Archives for: May 2016
Well … at least one party didn’t completely shit the bed:
Libertarians on Sunday selected a presidential ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who lit into presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on immigration and a range of other issues.
At the party convention in Orlando, Florida, Johnson got his preferred running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, in a weekend gathering that drew sharp contrasts with the major party candidates — Trump and Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.
As a matter of politics, this is the strongest ticket the Libertarian Party has ever run. In fact, it’s a massively superior ticket to either of the two major parties. In the past, I’ve voted Libertarian knowing it was a protest vote; that it was probably good that the Libertarian candidate didn’t have a real chance. But Johnson-Weld would actually do a good job in the White House. If they were the GOP ticket, I’d vote for them without hesitation. They have way more experience, way more accomplishment and way less baggage than Trump and Clinton combined. After years of watching the Libertarian Party shoot itself in the face, I’m pleased they finally did something right.
Current polling shows Johnson at about 10% but I expect a more realistic goal is something like 1-5%. Johnson is benefiting both from disaffected Republicans and a media that wouldn’t mind seeing Johnson hurt Trump. In the end, however, the repulsive thought of President Clinton II will make most Republicans vote for Trump. And the repulsive thought of President Trump will make most Democrats vote for Clinton. I would say the ultimate limit would be taking New Mexico with a thin plurality, but that’s very unlikely. But a few percent is enough to potentially tip an election and certainly enough to put a scare into the two major parties. As a practical matter, it might unfold like the Virginia Governor’s race — the Libertarian pulls enough support so that the Republicans can blame them for a Democratic victory, rather than blame their awful nominee. The Virginia governor’s race has another eerie parallel — the Democrat winner, McAuliffe, is now under investigation by the FBI for being a corrupt clown.
Of course, I can already hear the clarion call that a vote for the Libertarian Party is a vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s only true if you assume Libertarians would vote for Trump and that the GOP is somehow entitled to Libertarian votes. I don’t agree with either assertion. Libertarians spent a lot of elections holding their noses and voting Republican because while they disagreed on cultural issues, they agreed on economic ones. But Trump is not an economic conservative in any sense of the word. He is one of the most anti-liberty candidates I’ve ever seen on a ballot. He has inveighed against every part of the Bill of Rights and advocated for a far bigger, far more powerful government. The GOP, I think, is hoping that he’ll get bored and just do whatever they want him to. That was the gambit behind his list of SCOTUS nominees, which was basically cut-and-pasted from prominent conservatives. It’s tempting but it’s also dangerous. Front-man or not, Donald Trump would still have the power of the Presidency at his command. And the last time we had a President who was disinterested in the nuts and bolts of policy, we wound up hip deep in two wars with an economy in flames and a $1 trillion deficit. And Bush surrounded himself with reasonably smart people; Trump is surrounding himself with crackpots.
A vote for Trump is not a vote against the establishment. Trump is the establishment, someone so embedded with politicians that the Clintons literally attended his wedding. He’s out there right now raising money from the typical monied interests, hobnobbing with the typical Washington insiders and advocating for typical expansions of government power. A vote for a third party would sting the establishment way more than a vote for Trump.
Still. It’s five months until the election. I am not absolutely committed to a candidate yet. There are positions Johnson holds that I don’t like. But from where I set at the edge of May, he’s the least bad option.
Update: I mainly wrote this from a perspective of Republicans vs. Libertarians, since that’s my background. But that’s only half the story here. If the Libertarians are smart (not guaranteed) they will try very hard to go for disaffected Democrats as well. In fact, they should push hardest to pull Democrats away from Clinton, including Sanders voters. Hillary Clinton is a crony capitalist, an anti-civil libertarian and a war hawk who will stomp on about 70% of what Democrats claim they stand for. If you’re any flavor of Democrat — liberal, moderate or conservative — the Libertarian ticket is massively superior to the Democratic one. And it’s time the Libertarians made that point as loudly as possible.
Katie Couric has new documentary out called “Under the Gun”. Ostensibly a look at gun violence, it would appear to be very heavy on the pro-gun control side, with gun control supporters massively outnumbering gun control opponents among the interviews. And from what I’ve been reading, it looks like she’s trying to fill the rather sizable in deceptive left-wing propaganda left by Michael Moore.
The worst mistakes here rise to the level of factual error, and they undermine the film as a whole. There is no law, for example, “making it illegal to sue gun manufacturers”; rather, the law lays out the specific circumstances in which such lawsuits are allowed. These include cases stemming from illegal sales and design defects. The law was enacted amidst a wave of lawsuits against companies whose legally sold guns had eventually been used in crimes.
Further, despite what was claimed in an al-Qaeda video featured here without correction, one cannot “go to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and most likely without having to show an identification card.” Fully automatic weapons, which fire continuously when the trigger is held down, are heavily regulated. Gun owners have been harping on the media’s failure to grasp this automatic/semiautomatic distinction for decades.
And even when the film gets its facts right, it often makes little attempt to explore both sides of an issue. While everyday gun owners and activists make numerous appearances—some flattering and some definitely not—pro-gun experts are sorely lacking. Gun-control advocates are well-represented by folks like Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Robyn Thomas of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Mark Follman of Mother Jones. Viewers are left believing that there are no similarly well-informed researchers and journalists on the right.
She also repeats a bunch of candards such as the false claim that a mass shooting has never been stopped by a legal gun owner.
But the Free Beacon recently discovered that she goes even beyond that:
A conservative news site posted what it said was audio proof that filmmakers behind a documentary about the gun control debate deliberately edited video to portray gun-rights activists as unable to answer questions about background checks.
The audio, posted by The Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday, seemed to differ from the video shown in the documentary, “Under the Gun,” in which a group of activists appear to fall silent during an interview with the news anchor Katie Couric.
“If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” Ms. Couric asks. The next shot in the film is of the activists looking on with blank stares instead of answering the question.
In the audio clip of the interview posted by The Free Beacon, Ms. Couric prefaces her question with a remark — “I know how you all are going to answer this but I’m asking anyway” — before she asks about background checks.
“One, if you’re not in jail you should still have your basic rights,” someone answers about one second later.
You can click through to get the entire audio. The gun owners don’t hesitate at all. They answer her questions immediately and directly, showing an understanding of the issues that Couric lacks and an appreciation of the subtleties. The difference between that and the video couldn’t be more blatant.
Couric and her producers are defending this as an “editing choice”. They say they just wanted people to think about the issue. I find this excuse to be garbage. You can make the audience think about a question without portraying your political opponents as bumbling idiots. And it’s not like the Left is unfamiliar with this complaint. The Planned Parenthood and ACORN videos came under fire for this kind of deceptive editing. But, apparently, all’s fair when it comes to riding our society of the dread evil firearm.
Kudos to the interviewees in this video. Not only did they effectively answer questions from a hostile interviewer, they had the wisdom to record the interview to make sure they were not misquoted. It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. And the gun grabbers are really out to get us.
Sit yourself down. You will be shocked to hear this. It turns out that the Clintons were not completely 100% honest about her e-mail server:
The State Department’s inspector general has sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had.
In a report delivered to members of Congress on Wednesday, the inspector general said that Mrs. Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with officials responsible for handling records and security but that inspectors “found no evidence” that she had requested or received approval from anyone at the department to conduct her state business on a personal email.
The report also said that department officials “did not — and would not — approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business.”
It also added new detail about Mrs. Clinton’s motivation for using the private server, which she has said was set up for convenience. In November 2010, her deputy chief of staff for operations prodded her about “putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.” Mrs. Clinton, however, replied that she would consider a separate address or device “but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
The report contradicts Clinton on several critics points. It puts the lie to her statement that their e-mail preservation methods had approval. It puts the lie to her statement that other Secretaries had done this (none had their own servers). And it shows that she used a private e-mail server mainly to shield her privacy, not for convenience.
None of these means she will be indicted. It’s not clear if she broke classification rules by accident or on purpose, which makes a difference in whether she’s charged or not (Petraeus, to cite one example, deliberately exposed information he knew was classified). The FBI should conclude their investigation before the election. But indictment or no, that shows once again a fundamental aspect of the Clintons: the lie, frequently, fluently and flagrantly. They lie when they don’t need to. They lie when they need to. They will lie whenever they think they can get away with it. Because they usually can.
It also shows something else: left wingers will defend the Clintons no matter what they do or who they screw over or whether that screwing was consensual. Over the last few days, Trump has been dragging out a lot of old Clinton scandals, some real (Whitewater, Juanita Broaddrick), some phony (Vince Foster). The response of the Clinton defenders, however, never changes: Whitewater was a fake scandal (that, uh, resulted in 40 felony convictions); the Travel Office Controversy was phony (because apparently it’s OK to wreck someone’s life with false embezzlement charges); the Lewinsky scandal was about a blow job (not obstructing justice or committing perjury to avoid embarrassment).
This is why I’ve dreaded this election for the last four years. Whether Clinton wins or loses, we’re going to be rehashing the battles of the 90’s. This is what the Clintons do. This is who they are. This is what 2016 has brought us to.
Update: Reading more on this, it looks worse for Clinton than I thought. The violations appear to be quite deliberate and knowing. As Charles Cooke put it, Clinton wanted to avoid FOIA and thought the rules did not apply to her.
As this goes on, we are rapidly progressing through the known stages of a Clinton scandal, which I will illustrate from the Lewinsky scandal:
Stage 1: Denial. “I never had sex with that woman!”
Stage 2: Misdirection. “This is about Republicans being angry they lost an election! Newt Gingrich cheated on his wife!”
Stage 3: Quibbling. “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is”.
Stage 4: Brazenness. “OK, but the economy is doing great! Who cares about a blow job!”
Stage 5: Dismissal. “Why are we still talking about this? It happened so long ago.”
State’s report basically destroys Stage 3. So now we’re transitioning to Stage 4: “But … Trump!” I expect by July, Democrats will be saying that since this happened four years ago, what possible difference could it make?
While the DNC controlled media has done its damned best to help the crooks in charge look decent, occasionally the truth slips out:
John Crane, 60, who spent 25 years in government before he was fired as an assistant Defense Department inspector general in 2013, went public with a series of accusations that key officials in the watchdog’s office retaliated against whistleblowers, destroyed permanent records and altered audits under political pressure.
He has filed those charges with the Office of Special Counsel, which so far has referred one to the Justice Department for detailed investigation, though others may soon follow.
Crane’s name and case appear in a new book, Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden (Hot Books, 2016), by Mark Hertsgaard, excerpted in the British newspaper The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel.
In an interview with Government Executive on Sunday, Crane challenged the criticism by many top U.S. officials who say Edward Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton employee who worked as a National Security Agency contractor, could have taken his complaint through official channels. In 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong, leaked classified documents exposing U.S. surveillance programs and ultimately took refuge in Russia.
“Edward Snowden and his decision not to go through the whistleblower process indicate a larger failure within DoD IG,” Crane said. “Snowden did not go through the IG because he saw what had happened to Thomas Drake,” he added.
This reality has permeated this administration across the board: anyone that pointed out how fucked up things had gotten was hammered for doing so. From the VA whistle blowers to those that spoke out about the crap the Obama controlled agencies were doing either in operation “Fast & Furious” or at the IRS, where they targeted enemies of the administration for political reasons, the Obama admin has set new records in punishing those that dared point out that things were real bad for us all.
I remember the BDS infected fuckwads making me defend Boosh when they levied these idiotic accusations against him, and yet today, when we really have a tyrannical government punishing dissent, these fuckers – like the anti-war pinkos – are nowhere to be found.
Deirdre McCloskey has an outstanding article in the WSJ this weekend asking how America and other countries got rich. I hate to quote as the whole thing is worth your time, but here’s a few choice selections:
Nothing like the Great Enrichment of the past two centuries had ever happened before. Doublings of income—mere 100% betterments in the human condition—had happened often, during the glory of Greece and the grandeur of Rome, in Song China and Mughal India. But people soon fell back to the miserable routine of Afghanistan’s income nowadays, $3 or worse. A revolutionary betterment of 10,000%, taking into account everything from canned goods to antidepressants, was out of the question. Until it happened.
McCloskey asks how this happened, dispenses with the usual explanations and focus on this:
What enriched the modern world wasn’t capital stolen from workers or capital virtuously saved, nor was it institutions for routinely accumulating it. Capital and the rule of law were necessary, of course, but so was a labor force and liquid water and the arrow of time.
The capital became productive because of ideas for betterment—ideas enacted by a country carpenter or a boy telegrapher or a teenage Seattle computer whiz. As Matt Ridley put it in his book “The Rational Optimist” (2010), what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” The idea of a railroad was a coupling of high-pressure steam engines with cars running on coal-mining rails. The idea for a lawn mower coupled a miniature gasoline engine with a miniature mechanical reaper. And so on, through every imaginable sort of invention. The coupling of ideas in the heads of the common people yielded an explosion of betterments.
OK. But then why did that happen? Why did human ideas, which had been basically celibate for a hundred millennia, suddenly start “having sex”? Well, something we’ve been on about in these very pages:
The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not. By certain accidents of European politics, having nothing to do with deep European virtue, more and more Europeans were liberated. From Luther’s reformation through the Dutch revolt against Spain after 1568 and England’s turmoil in the Civil War of the 1640s, down to the American and French revolutions, Europeans came to believe that common people should be liberated to have a go. You might call it: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
To use another big concept, what came—slowly, imperfectly—was equality. It was not an equality of outcome, which might be labeled “French” in honor of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Piketty. It was, so to speak, “Scottish,” in honor of David Hume and Adam Smith: equality before the law and equality of social dignity. It made people bold to pursue betterments on their own account. It was, as Smith put it, “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.”
I would particularly focus on freedom of speech and property rights. Freedom of speech allowed ideas to be communicated, now at literally the speed of light. And property rights removed the fear that communicating your ideas would deprive you of their benefits.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth rehashing: my dad did the War College in the 1980’s. He argued that classifying military technology to protect us from Soviet spies was actually a bad idea. Ideas flourish under communication; progress flourishes when ideas “have sex”. The freedom of the United States meant that we could publish our military tech secrets on the front page of Pravda and the Soviet Union would still not be able to keep up. We would always be steps ahead of them technologically because our people were free to develop and exploit those ideas while the Soviets were not. And since the Cold War ended, we’ve seen our technological progress only speed up.
Anyway, the article is worth your time. It’s inspiring. And it suggests that the way to get of our two-decade long economic doldrum is more freedom, not more regulation and redistribution.
Post-Scriptum: McCloskey, incidentally, is a trans woman. She had some great thoughts on the whole bathroom kerfuffle:
The bathroom “issue” is entirely phony. It has never been a problem. Anyway, if men wanted to sneak in (they don’t), they could always have done so, with or without North Carolina’s law. How is it to be enforced? DNA testing by the TSA at every bathroom door? Anyway, your house has a unisex bathroom, I presume, and in Europe they are not entirely uncommon—after all, the stalls have doors. Etc, etc. On both sides it is just a club to beat up the other side in the silly Cultural Wars, and to make people hate and disdain each other. Adam Smith would not have approved.
Again, the link is worth a clickthrough. Anything McCloskey writes, including grocery lists, is usually worth your time.
Texas v. United States is the lawsuit over Obama’s executive amnesty in which he tried to implement immigration reform around Congress. Obama lost in court, lost in the fifth Circuit and the case is now before SCOTUS. A ruling has yet to be issued. But today, the judge in the Texas case issued a scathing rebuke of the Obama DOJ:
A federal district judge on Thursday excoriated U.S. Department of Justice lawyers who are defending the Obama administration’s immigration plan, issuing an extraordinary order that questioned the department’s policing of attorney ethics and ordered certain government lawyers to take an annual ethics class.
Finding that Justice Department lawyers repeatedly misled the court about when the government would begin implementing new immigration directives, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ordered any Washington-based Justice Department lawyer who wants to appear in any state or federal court in the 26 states that sued the administration to attend an annual legal ethics course.
“The United States Department of Justice … has now admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts. It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements,” Hanen wrote. “This court would be remiss if it left such unseemly and unprofessional conduct unaddressed.”
Those of you familiar with Obama’s euphemisms will be interested in the latest. In their filings, the DOJ claimed that their lawyers “lost focus” and “the facts receded from memory”.
The lawyers in my twitter feed indicate this order and the angry language around it, is highly unusual. He literally said that the only reason he hasn’t disbarred them is because he legally can’t. This indicates lying and deception on an unprecedented scale.
Lots of stuff in the news of late but I’m too lazy to put up posts on each so if any of these grabs you, weigh in;
1) Should the Trumpster make his tax returns public? Should Hillary make her Goldman speeches public? Hillary won’t, it would be political suicide, so lets focus on Trump. I would like to see these returns for the obvious reason that it would shed more light (more transparency, wooh-hooh) as to who this man is. The tax loopholes are irrelevant, they all do it, but stuff like charities, what losses he had in business endeavors, what income he gained off shore, what salaries he received (paying himself) for his multiple businesses, all this stuff speaks to the man.
2) The IOC is looking into Russian athletes doping (I know, that whole bear/woods similarity). Does anyone really have any confidence at all that the IOC a) can conduct a thorough transparent investigation on it’s own, and b) have the stones to go where the evidence takes them and ban the whole rusky lot of them if culpability is found?
3) What about that Canadian dufus in Yellowstone that stuck a Bison calf in his SUV because he thought the little guy was cold? What an ignoramus. Turns out they had to euthanize the calf after obtaining human scent and being ostracized from the herd. I guess they don’t have wild animals in Canada. Shit for brains did not read the literature given to him at the park entrance where it warns tourists to leave the animals alone. He got a $100 fine, big deal, I think a $10,000 fine would be more appropriate.
4)Lastly, there is this;
Couple things; I am really sick and tired of people doing bad things and not being held accountable for their actions. That piece of shit preacher did not pull his lawsuit or apologize because he had a Come to Jesus moment, he got caught lying so no mea culpas for him and no sympathy. How fortunate that WF had a video of the cake, what if they didn’t? The suit would have continued and this so called preacher would have extorted serious bank from the company. I want him criminally charged, jail time. And I think WF wimped out in pulling their counter suit. Hoaxes like this happen all the time. They only way to fight it is to make the hoaxers suffer. And on a side note, we know what the Bible says about false prophets, oh to be a fly on the wall when clown preacher has to explain his actions to The Big Guy.
In case you think government spending is out of control and the GOP RINOs and sellouts have given spendthrift Obama everything he wants, here’s some more data to chew on: over the last five years, we have spent $2.5 trillion less than Obama was projecting in 2009, including $697 billion less in 2015 alone. That’s the equivalent of having cancelled Medicaid. And, of course, those savings become baked into future projections, which means unfunded liabilities are down by trillions as well.
Is it perfect? No. It is a huge improvement? Absolutely. If the GOP had shown this kind of spending restraint while Bush was President, we would currently be running a $400-800 billion dollar surplus right now and the national debt would be about $8 trillion smaller. And that’s with the Obama stimulus included. Without, the numbers would be even further in the black.
Spending restraint. It works.
Sometimes, you really can’t make this stuff up.
Over the last few weeks, dissatisfaction with TSA has been bubbling over as airport lines have reached insane lengths, causing hours-long delays. TSA says it is because they are “understaffed”. But given that they blame understaffing for everything, including the murder of Jon Snow, I’m disinclined to take that seriously. McArdle breaks down what’s really going on: they’re making security more of an ordeal because there is no cost to them in doing so.
Still … the TSA now has a response: clowns. Seriously.