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More importantly, in Matal v. Tam, the Court ruled that copyright protections can not be rescinded because the name of something (in the case, an Asian-American rock band called the Slants) offends people, with clear implications for lawsuits involving the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?

Searching for Sexism, Finding Extremism

A couple of weeks ago, the Wonder Woman movie hit the theaters. The movie opened to good reviews and, having seen it opening day, I can attest that it’s quite good. It’s well-directed. Gal Gadot is very good and she has a great chemistry with Chris Pine. The characters are likable, it has a much-needed sprinkling of humor and the action scenes are thrilling. The third act does descend into the CGI destruction that seems to be a requirement these days. But it does it well with the hinge of the plot being not whether Diana can do something but whether she should. I’d rank it in the upper tier of superhero movies, a solid 8/10.

As far as feminism goes, I would compare it to Fury Road, another excellent movie. If you want some feminism in your movie, it’s there. But it doesn’t have to be. You can just watch it as an entertaining action flick without any problem.

Of course, it’s been a focal point of a lot of SJW discussion, given that it’s the first female-led superhero movie in a long time (and the first really good one) and was directed by a woman. I don’t mind this chatter. It’s always good to have superheroes you can identify with and my own little girl loved it. But what’s been funny is that the people who are obsessed with the sort of thing have been desperately scrounging around for a sexist take on the movie. And from what I can tell, they haven’t really found any. Reviews have made oblique vague references to “men not getting it” even though every man I know likes the movie and the worst take I’ve heard is that the movie was just OK. But I have not found the kidn of “OMG! FEMINISM!” takes everyone wants to find. The dumbest Right Wing take was a Fox News segment complaining that Wonder Woman wasn’t American enough. Oh, and there was some minor and overblown kerfuffle over Alamo Drafthouse having a woman-only screening.

What I have found, on the other hand, is idiot leftist takes. And not in some obscure corner of the internet, but in mainstream liberal publications. So here’s Slate, missing the point as always, claiming the movie isn’t feminist enough. Here’s Ms. Magazine, complaining that the movie isn’t PC enough (and falsely claiming it wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test after the first 15 minutes, because Etta Candy was apparently removed from their cut). You can even expand that view to dumb takes assuming boys don’t like the movie. Or dumb takes from people who should know better accusing the movie of racism based on early publicity stills.

But that’s peanuts. The real idiot take on this is about Gal Gadot herself. Gadot is a former IDF soldier, an Israeli citizen and a patriot. This does not sit well with many on the Left who see Israel as the quintessence of evil. The movie has been banned in a couple of Arab countries and celebrities praising the movie have been criticized. Criticism has particularly focused on this facebook post where Gadot posted a picture of herself and her daughter celebrating the Sabbath and praised the IDF for defending Israel against Hamas. This was during the Gaza War, which started when Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers. Israel drew a lot of criticism for a bombing campaign that killed thousands.

Look, I’ve criticized Israel for their settlements in the West Bank and for some of their actions. But there’s little doubt in my mind that between Israel and Hamas, Israel are the good guys. Muslims can practice their religion in Israel. They have holy sites all over some of Judaism’s most sacred areas and those sites are respected. Hamas, by contrast, is dedicated to destroying Israel and, presumably, all six million Jews therein. This is not even close. And while one could criticize Israel’s actions in the Gaza War, expecting Gal Gadot — an Israeli and a veteran — to do so is insane.

And frankly, this is not a can of worms the SJWs want opened. Because if we start judging celebrities by their politics, it’s the liberal celebrities who will suffer the most. We’ve seen Hollywood celebrities voice support for brutal dictatorships in Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. They spent decades worshipping horrific Communist dictators like Stalin, Khrushchev and Mao. They’ve devoted enormous effort to trying to free murderers like Mumia Abu-Jamal. Right now, they’re up in Minnesota, wondering if female genital mutilation should be outlawed.

So spare me the gasps of horror over Gadot supporting her country when they were in the middle of a damned war.

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.

UK Votes

Two months ago, Theresa May called for a snap election to strengthen her position going into Brexit. It looked like a great decision — the conservatives were leading massively in the polls. But she promptly blew all that and, tonight, it looks like the conservatives will lose their majority and have a hung parliament. Labour — lead by Marxist terrorist-loving twat Jeremy Corbyn — picked up a lot of seats but not enough to take the parliament. May is likely to step down tomorrow.

May pulled a Clinton on the UK — managed to lose an unlosable election. Crazy times.

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.