Category: Politics

The Holdout Soldiers

Speaking of tribalism …

Daou has become a reliable holdout soldier for Clinton, constantly insisting that she’s really awesome, trying to tie every story back to her and demanding that the world embrace her. But this tweet (and the sentiment behind it) is illustrative of something deeply stupid in American politics and in the Democratic Party in particular.

I was recently chatting with a British friend about the snap election. He predicted that Theresa May would be out of power by Christmas at the latest, July at the earliest. The reason, he said, is that the Conservatives tend to be fairly ruthless about leadership. When a politician leads them to disaster — as May has — that politician does not tend to last very long.

I agree with the prediction but I wouldn’t use the word “ruthless”. I would use the word “smart”. Parties have limited political capital. When a politician starts becoming a liability, the party should not expend one ounce of that capital propping that wounded duck up. Dump them and invest that energy in someone new. It doesn’t matter if the damage to the politician is “fair” or not. What matters is that you are wasting time and energy complaining to the refs instead of trying to move the ball downfield.

Maybe the criticism of Clinton and Pelosi is unfair (I happen to think it’s very fair). But that doesn’t matter a wit. Neither of them is a young once-in-a-generation political talent. Or a political talent at all. Defending them isn’t about fairness or political wisdom. It’s about tribalism. It’s about defending “their side” from the awful awful Republicans. It’s about not letting the Republicans “win” by not letting them dictate who runs your party.

But here’s the thing … denying the Republicans a “win” on Pelosi and the Democratic leadership has given the Republicans win after win at the ballot box. The Democratic leadership is old and out of touch. The most popular Presidential candidates right now — Warren, Pelosi, Clinton, Biden, Sanders — are all on the wrong side of 70 and have big political liabilities. This leadership, which the base seems to love so much, has led the Democrats to one of the lowest political ebbs in history — Republicans in both houses, Trump in the White House, most state legislatures and governorships controlled by Republicans, a party confined almost entirely to big cities and the coasts. For Pete’s sake, why are you wasting energy defending these people? The batting coach of the Tampa Bay Rays is held more accountable than these jack-a-napes.

Granted, some of the young Democrats — Preening Preet Bharara, Fascist Kamela Harris, Dumbell Andrew Cuomo — aren’t exactly inspiring. But there have got to be young political talents out there who can rebuild the Democratic brand. Take Jon Ossoff. He was wet-behind-the-ears but he moderated a bit and could get elected (maybe in the district he lives in). In my own state, Tom Wolf just worked with Republicans to pass what was once unthinkable: a massive reform of state employee pensions that will cap our future liabilities and keep us from becoming Illinois with mountains. There are thousands of Democratic politicians out there and 60 million people who voted for them. There’s got to be someone better than these old farts.

If there were any accountability in the Democratic Party, Pelosi would have been forced out after 2010 and the entirety of the leadership would have been forced out after 2016’s disaster. But the Democrats don’t seem to want to face reality.

One of the reasons the Republican Party has been successful is that they’ve been better at holding their leadership accountable for what happens in the polls. Newt, for example, was forced out in 1998 after a poor mid-term performance. They’re not perfect — there’s far too many former whatevers running around Fox News. But they are better. And they have been way better at promoting the young wave of conservatives like Rubio, Haley, Martinez and Jindal.

Look, I’ve been following politics for a long time and I know how the Cult of Personality works. But the Cult of Personality afflicting the Democrats right now is deeply deranged. It’s one thing to have a Cult of Personality around successful politicians like Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. But building one around losers like Pelosi, Hillary and Schumer? What the hell is that even about?

Around the country, Democrats are lamenting their losses, wondering why they can’t win. They’ve resorted to blaming Republicans and voters for being awful people. They’ve been throwing up their hands and saying, “How can you appeal to racist sexist bigots?” That’s comforting, I guess. But the country isn’t really that awful. Your leadership is.

First Blue model state to Greece it..

Looks like I lose a bet with a buddy, because Illinois beat California to the punch. Well maybe Connecticut can go right after California, so I win that bet. From the letter of the comptroller of the now bankrupt state of Illinois:

See attached letter sent to elected officials from across the state this morning.

As Illinois’ Chief Fiscal and Accountability Officer, my Office is responsible for managing the state’s financial accounts as well as providing the public and the state’s elected leadership with objective and timely data concerning the state’s difficult fiscal condition. As you are quite aware, I have been very vocal regarding these issues and the budgetary impasse since assuming office six months ago; however we are now reaching a new phase of crisis.

Accordingly, I must communicate to you at this time the full extent of our dire fiscal straits and the potential disruptions that we face in addressing even our most critical core responsibilities going forward into the new fiscal year. My Office has very serious concerns that, in the coming weeks, the State of Illinois will no longer be able to guarantee timely and predictable payments in a number of areas that we have to date managed (albeit with extreme difficulty) despite an unpaid bill backlog in excess of $15 billion and growing rapidly.

We are effectively hemorrhaging money as the state’s spending obligations have exceeded receipts by an average of over $600 million per month over the past year.

My cause for alarm is rooted in the increasing deficit spending combined with new and ongoing cash management demands stemming from decisions from state and federal courts, the latest being the class action lawsuit filed by advocates representing the Medicaid service population served by the state’s Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). As of June 15, the MCOs, and their provider networks, are owed a total of more than $2.8 billion in overdue bills at the Comptroller’s Office. There is no question that these obligations should be paid in a more timely manner and that the payment delays caused by the state’s financial condition negatively impact the state’s healthcare infrastructure. We are currently in court directed discussions to reach a workable and responsive payment schedule going forward, but any acceleration of the timing of those payments under the current circumstances will almost certainly affect the scheduling of other payments, regardless of other competing court orders and Illinois statutory mandates.

Heh, they ran out of other people’s money! Now if Hillary was president, the productive tax payers would just be told to grab their ankles and bail out these yokels, but with Trump-Putin, that is unlikely to happen. No wonder so many blue staters are losing their fucking minds and hoping to reverse the election results. They had banked on their girl saving them from their own ineptness, and now they are stuck with that debt they ran up figuring someone else would end up paying it anyway

I eagerly await your response as to next steps for furthering this discussion.

How about cut your nanny state fucking spending?

Must be why Obama chose to not return home and stayed in D.C…..

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.

Bernie-bro does what the left has been fantasizing about: dnc lackeys cry out for gun control

So after several months of the insane leftist bullshit peddled by the dnc operatives with bylines and all the enlightened usual progressive virtue signalers showing their creds with such things as decapitated Trump heads or assassinated Trump Ceasar, we get a Bernie-bro that <a href=’http://heavy.com/news/2017/06/james-hodgkinson-alexandria-gop-baseball-shooter-shooting-gunman-identified-illinois/” target=”_new”>that takes matters into his own hand. As soon as I heard this happened I was willing to be a kidney it would be a proggy or a member of the religion of peace, and that the media would cover that fact and immediately switch to the usual gun control pap. My favorite was the moron on tweeted the following:

No matter what his political beliefs were, the moment he used violence he became a right wing domestic terrorist.

Leftist ideology and insanity begets violence, and that makes you right wing. On the other hand, this explains why lefties want you to so desperately believe Hitler was right wing and not a socialist like them.

Here is some advice to the people claiming the problem is white men and guns: practically everyone of these nut jobs has been a progressive or a member of the religion of peace (and when they have told us otherwise it has usually been dnc operatives with bylines desperately trying to white washed those facts). Maybe instead of calling for gun or white men bans, we should ban that those two ideologies that seem to disproportionately produce these fucking nutjobs and violence?

Comey Day

James Comey testified to the Senate committee yesterday. I watched part of it and listened to part of it. A few thoughts:

  • Overall, I found Comey to be credible. I’m no fan of either Comey or the FBI, but he crossed me as straight-forward and truthful. Certainly more believable than the deranged yam he used to work for.
  • This wasn’t the slam dunk Trump opponents were hoping for (or claiming). Comey’s testimony — which I’ll get into in a moment — was damning but not conclusive. As I’ve said, his allegations are elements of obstruction of justice but not obstruction itself. We’re still a long way from that. But the things he described were, at best, wildly inappropriate.
  • Trump and the Trumpistas are claiming vindication. This is mostly because Comey confirmed that Trump himself was not under investigation for collusion with Russia (yet). But that’s not really relevant here. Nixon didn’t actually burgle the Whitewater hotel. When it comes to obstruction, the obstruction itself is the crime, regardless of whether an actual crime was being covered up or who committed said crime. And the failure of that obstruction does not obviate the obstruction. See Libby, Scooter.
  • It is telling that the one thing Trump wanted thoroughly investigated was the pee tape. Everything else, including Russian interference with the election, was of disinterest to him.
  • The most damning testimony was that, at one point, Trump sent everyone out of the Oval Office, sat down alone with Comey and said he hoped that Comey would see his way to clearing Mike Flynn and later said he wanted the Russia investigation to go away. Republicans are weaseling, claiming this was just Trump expressing interest in the investigation. But if my boss tells me he “hopes” I’ll do something and then fires me when I fail to do it, I will take that as more than just “hope”. That solo meeting is probably the most telling. As Comey testified, Trump never asked about any other investigation. If you were bothered by Bill Clinton meeting on the tarmac with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac, you should be bothered by Trump meeting alone with Comey. And vice versa.
  • One line of defense that emerged was that Trump is new to this and didn’t know these conversations with Comey were inappropriate. I’m finding this explanation wanting. I know they were inappropriate and I’m just an internet rando. Trump has been a candidate for two years. That he cleared out the room before talking to Comey indicates that he knew it was wrong. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse for us. It shouldn’t be for, you know, the President.
  • Comey’s testimony did not do Loretta Lynch any favors. While she was not engaged in obstruction, she was certainly trying to give political cover to Clinton. That is, to say the least, not the Attorney General’s job.

So, overall, a bad day for Trump, but just one more piece of the emerging drama.

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.

Political News Round-Up

So many stories, so little time.

  • My criticisms of Trump are only reasonable if I praise him when he does something right. Privatizing air traffic control is something right. Many countries have already gone that route, including Canada. This is something conservatives and libertarians have wanted for 20 years. I’m glad to see it proposed and I hope they can get it done.
  • The FBI has already arrested the person who leaked secret NSA documents to the Intercept indicating Russia tried to hack election officials and databases in 2016. People are jumping and down but this is absolutely normal. Obama prosecuted leakers; Bush prosecuted leakers and this leaker left an easy trail to herself.
  • Trump went on a Twitter tirade the other day about the travel ban, undermining the DOJ’s case before SCOTUS as the Courts have used Trump’s speeches to justify striking down the ban. I’ll be honest: I’m very dubious about using Trump’s speeches and tweets to divine his “real” motivation for the ban. That’s creeping into some very dangerous territory where the Courts essentially try to mind-read the politicians’ intentions rather than read the words written on the page. I would prefer executive orders be evaluated based on, you know, the actual executive order. While I oppose the travel ban, I’ve been persuaded that it’s constitutional. As Scalia used to say, “Stupid but Constitutional”. Trump can tweet until the cows come home and that won’t change what’s in the EO.

More to come.