Category: Civil Liberties

Quick Hit: SCOTUS Defends the First

I have a big post coming up tonight or tomorrow on empathy, partisanship and politics. In the meantime, I wanted to cheer the SCOTUS today, who delivered a series of good decisions today. In Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, the Court decided that, no, trial lawyers can not randomly shop around for the friendliest court to sue in. It was an 8-1 decision. In McWilliams v. Dunn, they narrowly held that defendants in trials are, in fact, entitled to metal health experts who are available to the defense and independent. This was 5-4, with Gorsuch dissenting, so a lot of the trial protections we have still hang by a thread.

But there were two big First Amendment wins today:

In Packingham v. North Carolina, they ruled 8-0 that North Carolina could not make it a felony for sex offenders to access social media. This is a bit more controversial, but the Court argued that a blanket restriction was too broad and the states could easily enact more narrow laws that protect children on the internet without burning First Amendment rights. What’s more important though was the thought process behind the decision: the Court showed a deference to internet communication as free speech. This could be critical in the coming decades as politicians of both parties would love to restrict internet speech.

More importantly, in Matal v. Tam, the Court ruled that copyright protections can not be rescinded because the name of something (in the case, an Asian-American rock band called the Slants) offends people, with clear implications for lawsuits involving the Washington Redskins. What was encouraging was that the court decided — unanimously — against the idea that there is a hate speech exception to the First Amendment.

These two decisions are encouraging. Not only did they defend the right to Free Speech — our most critical right. But they did so unanimously and in circumstances — one involving a sex offender and one involving an offensive band name — where pundits and wags will blither endlessly about the supposed limits of free speech.

Collectivism at work: After we run out of other people’s money edition

Well, a few years back every collectivist out there trying to peddle that failed ideology was lecturing those of us that see the inherent nature and end state of any collectivist experiment, on how Chavez’s revolutionary experiment had made Venezuela not just a more just and better place, but validated their faith in collectivism. The media and the usual big nanny state selling types could not stop talking about how great Venezuela was doing, and how it validated their beliefs and ideology. Chavez was visited by a host of virtue signaling douchebags, while the news cycle took every opportunity it could to tell people how collectivism in Venezuela was saving the poor. Those of us that pointed out that the natural course of events had not happened yet, and that eventually this experiment being lauded, when it reached its end state, would end in misery and failure, were basically mocked and called out as delusional wreckers and kulaks. That the historical president existed to actually validate the case of people pointing out that over time every previous big collectivist experiments the left praised and presented as proof of their ideological superiority, had imploded given enough time to run out of other people’s money, leading to the usual tropes about it not being true collectivism, the wrong people being in charge (a flip from them being the right people at first), the capitalist wreckers undermining the whole fairy tale, or a combination of all these things. It was never the fact that collectivism is a dumb idea because it goes both against human nature and practically every law of nature, physics, and economics.

Well, fast forward to today, and this is Venezuela. The place has been wrecked by the socialists, the corruption inherent in socialism, the attempts to force reality to bend to the will of an insane ideology, and of course, the fact that the saviors of the revolution really did the revolution so they could replace the oligarchy that existed with one of their own. I could be ironic and wonder why now that the place is falling apart the dnc operatives with bylines no longer have Venezuela constantly in the news, and on the rare occasion the do talk about the misery and horrible situation, they never find it in them to actually blame the cause for the current condition: collectivism.

there is a lesson here, but I doubt the people that should learn it will ever do so. Envy of what others have and the need to virtue signal are powerful things for the usual idiots that purposefully remain oblivious to the destruction, misery and death toll of their ideology. Queue the people that will now complain about me because there is no defense for the evils of collectivism outside the family unit.

All the President’s Tweets

It’s odd that I’m finding myself defending the Administration even as they spiral down, but .. there we are.

There’s a lawsuit right now alleging that Trump’s occasional use of Twitter’s block function is a violation of the First Amendment. According to the lawsuit, people have a Constitutional right to see his tweets and respond to them on the Twitter platform.

I am very dubious of this argument for a number of reasons. First, as Eugene Volokh points out, Trump’s RealDonaldTrump account could be considered a personal account, not a government one. Second, even a blocked user can see Trump’s tweets by logging out of Twitter and going to the page. And even if that option didn’t exist, it’s not like the media never cover Trump’s tweets. Third, Twitter is a private forum, not a public one.

There’s a fourth part, too. The more substantial part of their case is that a block prevents people from addressing the President. While that’s true, I don’t believe our right to free speech and petition require politicians to stand there and listen to us. That goes double when we’re tweeting cat memes at them. More importantly, there’s nothing Twitter does that stops you from addressing the President even if you are blocked. You can tweet, “Hey, Mr. Trump, your budget sucks” until the cows come home. You just can’t tweet at the President.

Here’s a real life example: I was blocked by Howard Dean for a fairly anodyne snark. I can’t tweet at him. But I can tweet about him just fine. See:

So no I don’t think this suit has merit. Let me be clear: I would prefer that the President not block people on Twitter. I don’t think politicians should block people at all since they’re in the public sphere. And Trump’s use of the block features seems rather random than arbitrary. But there is no Constitutional right to make the President listen to you.

Gianforte Attacks Reporter

I have a few long-form posts cooking. But a quick hit tonight: Montana Republican candidate Greg Gianforte reportedly attacked a reporter tonight. Grabbed him by the neck and body-slammed him after being a question about the CBOs score of the GOP healthcare plan. The local Fox News affiliate has confirmed the account and audio tape released sure sounds consistent with the reporter’s account (and not the candidate’s statement).

Gianforte is an unexpectedly close race and the Democrats are hoping to pick this up on the way to a 2018 landslide. We’ll see (their fundraising has been poor of late). Gianforte could still win since most ballots have been cast and it may take a while for this to sink in. But we can’t have politicians literally assaulting reporters for asking routine questions. If Gianforte wins and is later charged for his actions tonight, he should resign.

Update: Gianforte has been charge with misdemeanor assault.

Coulter Cancelled

By now you’ve probably heard to the Ann Coulter Berkeley controversy. To sum up, college Republicans invited Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley, which has been a hotbed of anti-Trump protests (notably a riot when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke back in February). Berkeley cancelled the speech, citing security concerns over threatened violence. They reversed after an outcry but the effort to get her to speak broke down amidst recriminations and threats of violence.

Our blog has a long history of slamming Ann Coulter (Lee used to call her “Mann Coulter”). But this is revolting. Coulter is not a Nazi. She’s not advocating violence or making true threats. She’s simply saying things that people disagree with. I disagree with her, too, but … she has a right to say them. She definitely has a right to say them at a public university. And I would argue that while she has no “right” to say them at a private university, she should be allowed to in our effort to maintain a culture that respects free speech and open dialogue.

The editors at National Review say it better than I ever could:

For those at Berkeley celebrating what they believe to be a moral victory, consider this: As much as you may detest Ann Coulter, she has never used violence or the threat of violence to keep someone from speaking. She is a better citizen than you are, with a deeper commitment to genuinely liberal and humane values. You may call yourselves the anti-fascists, but your black-shirt routine — along with your glorification of political violence and your rejection of liberal and democratic norms — suggest that the “anti” part of that formulation is not entirely appropriate. Perhaps you are only young and ignorant, but if you had any power of introspection at all, you would see that you are the thing you believe yourselves to be fighting. You are the oppressors, the censors, the violent, the hateful, the narrow-minded, the reactionary.

I’ll give credit where it’s due. There are a number of liberals — Glenn Greenwald, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Bill Maher, Christ Mathews — who have lept to Coulter’s defense. They have made it clear that while they consider her ideas repulsive, the use of violence to shut down speakers is even more repulsive. Challenge, debate, protest — these are all good. But shutting down smacks of censorship.

It’s also worthing noting, as many have, how fast we’ve gotten to the point where threatening violence against Ann Coulter is now acceptable. The anti-free-speech sentiment has, of course, been building for years with campus activists claiming that speech can constitute violence and therefore violence in response is justified. We’ve seen hints of thuggish censorship in such things as the Missouri incident and the UCSB professor who seized and tore up anti-abortion signs. But the Trump presidency seems to have accelerated this awful trend, with speech suppression and violence supposedly justified by Trump’s awfulness and a tiny but particularly loathsome subset of his supporters.

The big alarm bell was a couple of months ago. Richard Spencer — a white supremacist and Trump supporter — got sucker-punched during an interview. Many liberals cheered for this. People like me — while finding Spencer and his views repulsive — objected to the use of violence against a non-violent speaker. And that’s when the Nazi argument was unfurled. We were told, “Hey, he’s a Nazi! He doesn’t respect our right to free speech!” Ken White absolutely demolishes that argument:

First, the argument relies on a false premise: that we don’t, or shouldn’t, extend rights to people who wouldn’t extend those rights to us. This is childish nonsense, and a common argument for tyranny. We criminal defense lawyers know it very well: why should this guy get a trial? He didn’t give his victim a trial. Why should she be shown any mercy? She didn’t show her victims mercy. Why does he get due process? He didn’t give his victims due process. The argument is particularly popular since 9/11. You hear it a lot whenever anyone suggests that maybe people accused of being terrorists — or of being someone who might plausibly grow up to be a terrorist, or might take up terrorism as soon as this wedding is over — perhaps should be treated as having some sort of right not to be killed or tortured or indefinitely detained. Nonsense, is the response. They wouldn’t give you any rights. The constitution isn’t a suicide pact! It’s also popular in matters of modern religious liberty. How can you argue that Muslims should have the freedom to worship here when Muslim countries deny Christians and Jews that right? In this manner, the student Left represented by the quotes below shares an ethos with the authoritarian and racist wings of the Right. A common taste for authoritarianism makes strange bedfellows.1

In fact, we extend rights to everyone, regardless of whether they support those rights or not. That’s the deal, it’s the way rights work. Rights arise from our status as humans, not from our adherence to ideology. If they didn’t, I could very plausibly say this: Pomona College, Wellesley College, and Berkeley should expel the students quoted above, because people actively advocating to limit free speech rights can’t expect any free speech rights themselves.

White’s equally salient point is that once you’ve said it’s OK to silence Nazis with violence, it’s a slippery slope to silencing everybody with violence. When this argument was raised after the Spencer punch, liberals said we were being hysterical. But the Coulter mess — along with a dozen other incidents — has proven our concerns ominously justified. In just a few months, we’ve gone from “it’s OK to punch a Nazi” to “it’s OK to beat up someone who invited Charles Murray to speak” to “it’s OK to silence Heather McDonald” to “it’s OK to threaten violence if mainstream Republicans march in non-political parade”.

(The Murray one is especially interesting because Murray was planning to talk about the growing disconnect between coastal elites and rural voters. Academics who read the speech, not knowing the identity of the author, thought it was very reasonable. But Murray once wrote a book about race and intelligence so, apparently, everything he does is contaminated).

To be fair, I suspect these thought-suppressers are a vocal minority. CNN interviewed many Berkeley students who support Coulter’s right to speak. But … that’s kind of the problem. Students who support free speech have been cowed by a vocal, violent minority into compliance. And worse, we have college professors and administrators defending these actions, establishing a campus norm that censorship is acceptable, even admirable.

I don’t want to give the impression that censorship is a one-sided affair. We’ve certainly seen the Right erupt over “unacceptable speech”, including a thoroughly misguided effort to punish campus protesters. But there is little doubt that the censorship efforts on campuses — which should be more free and more open to debate — are being led by the Left.

What’s especially ironic is that these protests are taking place in the University of California system. We’ve recently found out that the UC system is burning money like no one’s business.

The University of California hid a stash of $175 million in secret funds while its leaders requested more money from the state, an audit released on Tuesday said.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the audit found that the secret fund ballooned due to UC Office of the President overestimating how much is needed to run the school system that includes 10 campuses in the state. Janet Napolitano, the former Department of Homeland Security chief, is in charge of the school system.

Napolitano denied the audit’s claim. She reportedly said the money was held for any unexpected expenses. Her office also denied the amount in the fund.

Elaine Howle, the state auditor who came up with the report, found that from 2012 to 2016 the office looked to raise more funding by inflating estimates. Howle also said that a top staff member in Napolitano’s office improperly screened confidential surveys that were sent to each campus. Howle said answers that were critical of Napolitano’s office were deleted or changed before being sent to auditors.

At the time they were doing this, they were paying their top ten executives a combined $3.7 million. Napolitano said the fund is “only” $38 million and is there for contingencies in a $28 billion state budget. But her office consumes over half a billion a year to educate no one and do no research. They just administrate.

And this is just the tip of iceberg. Just this year, we started learning the truth about Linda Katehi, the infamous chancellor of UC Davis who was partially responsible for the point-blank pepper spraying of student protesters. The graft is breathtaking.

But a few years later, the Sacramento Bee reported that Katehi “contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings” on the pepper-spraying and “to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.” UC Davis signed one 6-month contract with a PR company at a rate of $15,000 per month. An objective described in the company’s proposal was the “eradication of references to the pepper spray incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor.” Scott Shackford called it “another example of colleges no longer fulfilling their roles as defenders of speech and openness, combined with abusive police behavior, with an added dash of the administrative bloat that’s driving up higher education costs.” He added, “in the years since Katehi took over in 2009, the budget for the communications office has grown from $2.93 million to $5.47 million.”

Alas, the squandering of the UC system’s money was far from complete. Embattled since the pepper-spraying incident, Katehi came under additional fire for accepting lucrative positions on the boards of firms that seemed to pose clear conflicts of interest, including a major publisher of college-level textbooks, where she earned more than $400,000 moonlighting over the course of three years, and a for-profit university.

UC Davis finally did get rid of Katehi — after spending over a million dollars investigating the matter (including $400k to Katehi to take a year off while the investigation proceeded). Some of this money came from donations and endowments, true. But money in fungible. And money the UC system spent trying to defend Katehi’s name, trying to scrub her image and then trying to fire her is money they weren’t spending on other more worthy things.

To be fair to the students, they did protest against Katehi and demanded her ouster. But to be really fair, there is a lot of this going on in university systems all over the country. State spending on universities has gone down (after sharp rises in the early part of the century). But federal and private funding is up, as are tuitions. And that sea of money is not going to professors and researchers. If you look at public data for salaries at universities, you’ll find the top money is going to administrators, doctors and sports coaches. Oh, and the consultants the six-figure-salaried administrators call in whenever they have a decision to make.

Tuitions are thousands of dollars higher and debt even bigger so that a host of admins can collect big salaries. That’s money that could be funding scholarships or hiring more professors or simply being put back into the students’ pockets. That’s something that impacts students directly and does greater damage to them than anything Ann Coulter has ever said or ever will.

Free Speech and Stochastic Terrorrism

Howard Dean has been saying some remarkably dumb things about free speech this week. I can’t embed his tweets (his Twitter staff blocked me for some very low-grade C-level snark) but it essentially amounts to there being no right to “hate speech”.

You can read Mataconis above and the link therein to Volokh who are experts in the legal history. They point out chapter and verse where Dean has it wrong.

The idea that so-called ‘hate speech,” a term which is incapable of being adequately defined objectively and seems to depend entirely on the subjective reactions of listeners, is not protected by the First Amendment goes against the entire history of the First Amendment itself as well as numerous landmark Court decisions that have put the definition of ‘freedom of speech’ to the test. One of the most famous of those, or course, was National Socialist Party Of America v. Village of Skokie, a 1972 case that involved an effort by a predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb’s efforts to block a group of Nazis from staging a march through the town. In that case, the Illinois Supreme Court, acting after a reversal of an injunction against the march issued by the United States Supreme Court, ruled that the use of a swastika in the march was precisely the kind of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment and that the government could not enact a prior restraint against such speech just based on the fear that it could provoke a violent response from on-lookers. More recently, in Snyder v. Phelps, the Supreme Court set aside a civil judgment issued by a jury in Maryland against the Westboro Baptist Church in favor of the father of a fallen Marine whose funeral was protested by Westboro with its all-too-familiar signs and rhetoric. In its ruling, the Court held that the fact that Westboro’s rhetoric was highly offensive and hateful was not, in and of itself sufficient reason to exempt it from the protection of the First Amendment. In these and other cases, the Supreme Court has made clear that the mere fact that speech is offensive is not, in and of itself, sufficient justification for banning it or punishing those who might utter it in either criminal or civil Court.

Proponents of hate speech bans argue that such speech is, in fact, a form of violence. But this argument has gotten very far since most people, rightly, regard it as obscene to equate speech with violence. They have also tried to argue that hate speech constitutes “incitement”. But Volokh gets into this:

The same is true of the other narrow exceptions, such as for true threats of illegal conduct or incitement intended to and likely to produce imminent illegal conduct — i.e., illegal conduct in the next few hours or maybe days, as opposed to some illegal conduct some time in the future. But these are very narrow exceptions. Dean’s post came in response to a Steven Greenhouse tweet saying, “Free Speech Defenders Don’t Forget: Ann Coulter once said: My only regret w/ Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building”; but if Dean meant that such speech by Coulter is constitutionally unprotected, he’s wrong. Indeed, even if Coulter was speaking seriously (which I doubt), such speech isn’t unprotected incitement, because it isn’t intended to promote imminent illegal conduct. Compare, e.g., Rankin v. McPherson (1987), which upheld the right to say, after President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt, “If they go for him again, I hope they get him” — and that was in a case involving a government employee being fired for her speech; the First Amendment offers even stronger protection to ordinary citizens whose speech is more directly restricted by the government.

Returning to bigoted speech, which is what most people use “hate speech” to mean, threatening to kill someone because he’s black (or white), or intentionally inciting someone to a likely and immediate attack on someone because he’s Muslim (or Christian or Jewish), can be made a crime. But this isn’t because it’s “hate speech”; it’s because it’s illegal to make true threats and incite imminent crimes against anyone and for any reason, for instance because they are police officers or capitalists or just someone who is sleeping with the speaker’s ex-girlfriend.

There is one twist on this concept of incitement that I wanted to get into, however. One idea that has gained some credence on the Left in recent years is that even if “hate speech” doesn’t directly incite immediate violence, it can constitute stochastic terrorism. The idea of stochastic terrorism is that Right Wing politicians (and only Right Wing politicians) don’t actually incite violence directly but use charged rhetoric hoping that, in a nation of three hundred million people, this will motivate someone to engage in violence. It is most often applied to abortion foes, with critics claiming their cries of “murder” are deliberately designed to make people run out an shoot abortion clinicians (because, apparently, no one could honestly believe in their heart that abortion is murder). But we’ve seen it in other contexts as well: the Murrah Bombing being blamed on talk radio; the Giffords shooting being blamed on Sarah Palin; a census worker’s suicide being falsely attributed as homicide and blamed on census opponents. Hell, there were people who blamed the Kennedy assassination on his right-wing critics.

This theory of stochastic terrorism is, to put it mildly, manure. It is a theory designed but with one purpose: to tar the speech of people the theorists disagree with and, hopefully, silence them. And it is very easily proven.

Many years ago, talk show host Neal Boortz had a quiz on his website asking readers to figure out if passages about the environment were from Algore’s Earth in the Balance or the Unabomber’s manifesto. It was actually kind of difficult. They used the same language, the same extreme rhetoric, the same dire claims that the Earth was doomed. Yet no one would accuse Algore of “stochastic terrorism” because of the Unabomber (or any other eco-terrorist).

For the last two years, a large fraction of the Left has been calling Trump a fascist and comparing him to Hitler. If someone were to try, God forbid, to assassinate Trump, would they all be guilty of stochastic terrorism?

“Ah”, you might say, “But the difference is that this Left Wing rhetoric is right. The Earth is in danger. Trump is a fascist.”. Well, Islamic terrorism is a danger. Millions of potential human lives have been extinguished by abortion. Why is the danger you fear real and the danger others fear fake?

It is antithetical to the very concept of this nation for people to be afraid to using strong language when they fear that something very wrong is being done. I may not agree with them. And I will frequently think they are being needlessly hysterical. But if you think abortion is murder, you should be able to say so. If you think Trump is a fascist, you should be able to say so. Yes, there is always a risk that someone will take your words to heart and do something awful. But we can not let our political dialogue be set by a fear of maniacs. We can not allow a “gunman’s veto” on free speech. This is why the Courts have taken a precise view of what constitutes incitement. And it’s why they should continue to do so.

It’s strange for me to say this because I think that extreme rhetoric is a problem in American politics and that people do not need to back off and listen to each other. Debates about healthcare, taxes, terrorism, war and spending would be a lot better if they weren’t conducted in apocalyptic terms. But good manners, a sense of perspective and respectful dialogue can not be enforced with moral threats. And good dialogue does not begin with restrictions on free speech.

A Little Consistency Would Be Nice

The California State Attorney General has now brought charges against the two activists who secretly recorded Planned Parenthood and edited the videos in a deceptive fashion. 14 counts of recording someone without consent and 1 of conspiracy. Now they did break the law — California is a two-party state.

But here’s my question: when are charges going to be brought against animal rights activists who secretly record damning footage (and, in the case of PETA at least, sometimes deceptively edited it)? Were charges ever brought against the people who secretly recorded Mitch McConnell discussing campaign strategy? Kentucky’s not a two-party state but it’s not a no-party state. Nor is Florida, where someone secretly recorded Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment (and if your memory is long enough, someone spied on Newt Gingrich’s phone calls). When are we going to see police raids of their homes and multiple felony charges brought against them? The answer, of course, is never.

Jacob Sullum, hardly a Right Wing Culture Warrior, ask the same question. He notes that public conversations (which these were) and investigations (which the activists claim this was) are generally exempted from California’s wire-tapping laws.

Would California’s attorney general have pursued felony charges against pro-choice activists who used hidden cameras to record meetings with the operators of “crisis pregnancy centers” that steer women away from abortion? If not, Becerra’s concern about “the right to privacy” is nothing more than a pious-sounding cover for a political vendetta.

The problem here is that the Left does not see pro-Life activism as legitimate activism. It’s why they propose and support things like buffer zones and bans on signs showing fetal remains — restrictions on speech that would decry as fascism if they were applied to, say, striking factory workers. I’m pro-choice. But I will defend to the last full measure the right of pro-lifers to express their views.

Keving Drum:

I continue to have zero sympathy for these two. They edited their videos deceptively and basically lied about everything they did. Nevertheless, I don’t like the idea of prosecuting them. This was a legitimate investigation, and no level of government should be in the business of chilling it. The First Amendment doesn’t say anything one way or the other about how honest one’s speech has to be.

This also strikes me as political grandstanding. I imagine that if this were a couple of liberal activists secretly recording meetings with anti-immigration groups, Attorney General Xavier Becerra wouldn’t so eager to go after them.

This was started by former AG, now Senator, Kamala Harris, who had a history of bringing high profile bullshit prosecutions while ignoring things like cops passing around an underage prostitute like she’s a job perk. In the wake of the Planned Parenthood videos, she proposed extra laws to protect … Planned Parenthood. She was a very political AG and her successor seems equally political.

I hate defending these guys. I agree with Drum that the videos were deceptive. But the more I think about it and the more I read about it, the more this prosecution crosses me as garbage. This is not about deceptively-edited videos or violations of privacy. This is about political grandstanding by two Attorneys General. This is about protecting a liberal interest from any kind of scrutiny. It’s about, as Clark at Popehat once brilliantly said, walking around the field of the Culture War battle and shooting the survivors of the losing side.

What’s obviously missing in this story: again?

Well, a few weeks ago it was some Hillary Clinton voters expressing their anger at the election of Trump to the office of the POTUS, by torturing a mentally challenged white teenager and live streaming it on Facebook. The horrific attack caused furor because it came at a time that the DNC operatives with bylines were desperate to create the illusion that America was under attack from the racists, misogynists, and other assorted evil people that the left want you to believe is the only reason Trump could beat crooked Hillary. They danced around what happened for a while, and we then spent days after with people actually telling us why 4 black teenagers brutally abusing a handicapped white kid while screaming “Fuck White People” and “Fuck Trump” didn’t amount to a hate crime or racism. The story disappeared from the news soon after that, obviously because it wasn’t the narrative these douchebags wanted to tell.

It looks like we have more of the same. Facebook was again used to stream the live rape of a Swedish woman bu three men for whom we never get a description. Trained like I am to pick up on these queues after decades of our DNC operatives with bylines doing the same when reporting on criminal or bad behaviors by the left, it became immediately obvious that the lack of details about the perps could only mean that there was another concerted effort to hide misbehavior by a group the left knows is trouble but would like to prevent us from knowing so. My first guess was that the lack of detail probably comes from pressure from the authorities not to divulge details that would embarrass the leadership cast or fear of retribution from the authorities. After all, in Europe, saying things that are not permitted, even when they are true, can and has landed people not just in trouble with the authorities, but behind bars. I did some digging, and in the comment section of this article dealing with the issue, it looks like someone has confirmed my suspicions. I expect them to end up paying for revealing information that the elites in Brussels have told the powers that be is taboo. All because the truth reflects horribly on them and what they are doing to the annoying and ungrateful serfs they are caring so hard for.

Keep it up you people. The more of this we see the more people will realize that the credentialed elite class should no longer be allowed near the leavers of power. Anyone willing to put their citizens in definite harm’s way in the name of an ideological vision and ideal, deserves the boot. I hope the Swedes go all Viking on the people doing this to their country.

In The News

A few stories I’m following right now:

  • I’ve been critical of some of Trump’s cabinet choices. But my first impression of Mattis, the proposed Secretary of Defense, is positive. He opposes torture, supports a two-state solution for Israel, recognizes that the Iran deal is flawed but that tearing it up would be a mistake. His approach to Iraq was a big reason the surge worked and his musings show an active and sharp mind. He has been willing to praise or criticize politicians from both sides. Moreover, Trump said that one thing that impressed him was that Mattis opposes torture, which Trump ostensibly favors, and made a good argument against it. One of the big concerns with a President is that he will surround himself with Yes Men. Mattis is definitely not a Yes Man. He’s a good choice. But the thought process behind the pick is also encouraging.
  • Of course, he’s still thinking about Bolton for State, so it’s not all roses.
  • Trump sent out a tweet the other day saying that flag burning should be banned and come with a loss of citizenship. You can pretty much guess my response to this: I’m with Scalia.
  • Of course, Hillary Clinton her own damned self once co-sponsored an anti-flag burning bill. No matter what Trump does, let’s not lose sight of what the alternative was like.
  • Neither Obama nor Biden will attend Castro’s funeral. Good.
  • Trump’s deal to keep Carrier from shipping jobs to Mexico (actually, Pence’s deal) does not impress me. It’s a $7 million tax break specifically for Carrier to keep 1000 jobs in Indiana. It’s crony capitalism and an example of what we shouldn’t be doing. We have an entire economy run on backdoor tax breaks, regulatory holidays, subsidies and special dispensations. What we need to do is make America a better place for all businesses through comprehensive and universal regulatory and tax reform.
  • However, I suspect the Carrier deal is a preview of Trump’s Presidency. He’ll make a huge fuss about little things he does like saving a thousand jobs, to give the impression that he’s doing good (which, to be fair, all Presidents do). The real good will have to come from Congress, who have the power to unshackle our economy.

Crime Sheet

2 rather important murder trials are now under way, both involve race, and with both, the outcomes are fairly certain. Dylan Roof gunning down 9 church goers, and Michael Slager, a Charleston police officer who shot a fleeing man in the back 8 times, both shooters are white and all victims are black.

The easy one first. Dylan seems like a troubled youth with a bucket load of mental problems, but the judge not only found him competent to stand trial but allowed Dylan to represent himself during the trial. What bothers me is that Dylan offered to plead guilty to murder and accept life without the possibility of parole in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. A reasonable offer and one that the prosecution should have embraced. But here’s the rub, with white shooter/black victims, the racial component must take center stage, so countless millions (the cost from trial, through appeals, up to the actual injection, if it ever happens)will be wasted for what will be little more than a show trial. Getting back to my disgust for the very concept of hate crimes, where one person’s hide is more valuable and must exact a higher price than anothers, a sentence consistent with justice must now jump over another hurdle, artificially placed based on nothing more than the color of skin. If roles were reversed any prosecutor worth dick would take the life deal in a second, then go out for pizza.

Now on to Slager. There is both dash cam footage and private party cell phone video of the actual shooting. First off, why do rookie cops (5 years on the job, he should have known better) feel compelled to give foot chase on something as low level as a fix ticket infraction? We aren’t talking about a mass murder fleeing the scene who will most likely continue his killing ways, or even a bank robber fleeing with a sack full money, Slager knew who this guy was, he had his ID, knew he was unarmed, knew he had done nothing except drive with a busted taillight, knew he would pose no danger to any passerby’s, yet, he still felt it necessary to give chase on foot, lamebrain. A better course of action, impound the car (while inventorying the contents for any illegal contraband), then send him his ticket in the mail and go get them donuts while they are hot.

As far as the charge, yes, Slager needs to do prison time. There is no excuse, none, zilch, nada for shooting anybody in the back. Slager testified that he was afraid of Scott, how so? Scott was running away from him, had nothing in his hands, no history of violence against cops, no justification whatsoever existed for the application of lethal force. There probably was a scuffle (another reason you don’t foot pursue unless you absolutely have to) but the scuffle was over, Slager was in no danger and what we see is Scott retreating. I’m OK with manslaughter as long as he gets a serious sentence. Oh, and 8 shots? no marksmanship badge for you.