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Twilight of a Republic?

Sebastian expressed his amusement over the news that a Clinton staffer was offered an immunity deal as part of the email brouhaha. I can’t say I didn’t feel some schadenfreude when I heard the news, but I’ve had time to think it over since. And now I’m actually a little worried. This ups the ante for Ms. Clinton. Someone on her team believes not only that a crime occurred (Pagliano has already invoked his 5th amendment rights in testimony before Congress), but that there is a substantial risk the FBI can prove he himself was involved. The thing is, though, the FBI would only offer immunity if they believed he can tee up someone bigger. There aren’t a whole lot of bigger frogs in the pond, though. Ms. Clinton is very close to a scenario where she either becomes president or suffers a catastrophic disgrace when the whole mishandling of classified information scandal crashes down on her inner circle, and herself.

That worries me, if there is no graceful exit option for her. The underlings now have one – negotiate a deal with the FBI (while they still can, anyway). But that’s not available to the head of the organization. Neither is resigning to avoid prosecution. Accepting a pardon from this or a future non-Clinton administration is barely an option, I suppose, but it still leaves her “brand” badly tarnished. I don’t really want to see what Ms. Clinton might do on deadly ground (to quote Sun Tzu).

One of the Heller Five Gone

Word is just breaking that Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead this morning in Texas. Thoughts and prayers go to his family.

Politically speaking, this really shakes up the Supreme Court on the issue of the right to keep and bear arms. In 2012, Sebastian blogged about this potential in terms of the odds that all Heller Five make it to the end of 2016. The numbers weren’t good, and they proved to be accurate.

Oregon Situation Developing

It’s not clear yet all the details, and there’s a lot of conflicting stories, but it would appear the feds have arrested the leaders of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, killing one in the process, after the man charged police, or was peacefully surrendering, with his hands up, depending on whose story you believe. I hope there is dash cam footage so the truth can be ascertained. The feds need to be very careful about the remaining protesters.

OregonLive has pretty timely coverage of what’s going on. Glenn Reynolds spoke about this issue a few days ago, noting “I believe that Baker v. Carr was incorrectly decided.” Of course, this is a federal problem, where we do still have geographic representation in the higher house.

The Snowpacalypse is Upon Us

The panic really started at the beginning of the week, when my weekly trip to Wegman’s for the groceries saw she shelves cleared of many items. That’s telling, because Wegman’s is usually on top of that shit. It was worse than the week before Christmas. As soon as Pennsylvanians hear the word “snow” in the forecast, people head to the grocery store to stock up as if the Russians just launched all the ICBMs out of their silos and we only have 30 minutes to grab all the canned goods we can get our hands on. I’ve never understood this. We have plows, we have salt. Unless it’s piled up over the roads, you’re stuck inside for a day, at best.

I notice the fogey quotient was up pretty high this week, so I think a lot of it is old people. Old people seem to be more prone to panic. Either way, I’m trying to figure out whether to go to work tomorrow. It’s forecast not to start until later in the evening, but my commute is 45 miles one-way and that’s a long way to go if it’s heavy snow because they were wrong. Unlike DC, we know how to drive in snow, but the correct technique is slow and deliberate, and I’m not eager to do 45 miles of that.

Some Damned Foolish Thing

It was Bismarck who said “Europe today is a powder keg and the leaders are like men smoking in an arsenal … A single spark will set off an explosion that will consume us all … I cannot tell you when that explosion will occur, but I can tell you where … Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans will set it off.”

And with that we have Ammon Bundy and a few other folks taking over what would seem to be a bird watching outpost in a National Wildlife Refuge. The local ranchers don’t seem to be too happy about this, which hopefully will allow for a peaceful resolution.

Ordinarily, we’re told when groups that have the left’s sympathy act out, that we have to understand their grievances. In this case, they are calling them terrorists and demanding severe action from the federal government.

I’ve posted this debate between Prof. Robert Churchill and Josh Horwitz of CSGV before, but it’s worth linking to again. The Bundy’s aside, there are a lot of people out there for whom there has been no economic recovery, and they are angry. In the west, a lot of these folks have serious and not-unwarranted grievances against the federal government for their heavy handed management of federal land. Bitter’s family are among those who are facing having land seized by BLM along the Red River. They are mad as hell, and well armed. So are their neighbors in the same situation, on both sides of the border.

The left either has no idea what a powder keg this kind of situation potentially is, or they are happy to start seeing their political opponents start getting shot to death. I can understand the former, but the down the latter path there be demons. This situation has to be carefully defused, and then the land issues addressed. Most of the federal land in the west should probably be turned over to state management.

Other people’s political capital

From an LA Times piece, we get the following quote on why President Obama is looking into unilateral executive action on gun control:

“If this succeeds, it will save lives. If it fails legally, the cost is only political,” [Senator Christopher] Murphy [D-Conn] said. “When you’re talking about weighing lives saved versus political capital lost, it’s a no-brainer.”

What Senator Murphy says about political capital is true – the cost of this effort will be counted in political capital. What he’s not saying is that it’s not the President’s political capital that will pay; it’s the political capital of the Democratic party. The President has spent a lot of political capital over the past 7 years, but very little of it has been his own. It’s been the capital of the Democratic party. And by gambling with the Democratic political capital, he’s been able to force the Republicans to match, raise, or fold. If he wins, he gets the credit (and the capital). If he loses, well, it’s all someone else’s fault. Which is a neat trick. I’m still a little surprised that the congressional Dems are willing to let him draw on their capital to put his name on successes, but leave Congress the failures. The last few years, sticking Congress with the failures means sticking the Republicans with it, admittedly, but still.

This is another one of his Heads I win, tails You lose gambits. He’s going to try, and if it doesn’t work, then it’s the work of The Enemy, who wants Dead Babies.Which makes sense for his future aspirations (global talking head), but is yet another drip of corrosive in the mechanism of politics. Après moi le déluge, indeed.

Ecumenical Clock Scares

This one evidently caused by an Israeli student. And ending with yet another Police Praise PSH. (Hey, maybe we need another tag, Sebastian?) This should be interesting to watch unfold. That had to have annoyed a lot of commuters, too; US 9 is a major artery for the area, as is NJ 18.

No pictures yet – if I come across one I’ll update. Wonder if he’ll be invited to the White House?

Things We Seem to Know About San Bernardino

The following things appear to be facts at this point. I stress appear.

I feel like I’m way too young to start talking like my grandparents about how this country is going to hell in a hand basket, but it is. We have become an unserious people. We have the left on one hand who can’t name something for what it is, and then on the right you have the clown show that’s the GOP primary.

Mass Shooting in San Bernardino, California

The LA Times says possible multiple shooters, which wouldn’t seem to be a lone crazy, if true. Of course, almost everything you will hear in the first 24 hours will be complete bullshit, so take news reports with a huge grain of salt.

I don’t tend to cover these stories as they unfold. Naturally there will be a lot of people with agendas exploiting this for political purposes. We know the drill by now.

PA Police Promote PSH

I don’t see how this “case of mistaken identity” had a positive outcome, other than no-one was harmed by the police responding to a bogus “Man With Gun” call. And then the cops double down and encourage people to make bogus calls. Topped off by the Lancaster Safety Coalition “review[ing] footage” and “see[ing] how the tripod could be mistaken for a gun at first glance.” Mrs Grundy in the 21st Century?

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