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Dems Want Deal on Gorsuch

The Dems are looking for a deal that would allow Neil Gorsuch through without a filibuster, but would preserve the filibuster for further appointments. The dumbest thing the Stupid Party could do is take this deal. Force the Dems to filibuster Gorsuch, and use the “nuclear option” if they do. The GOP already know the Dems would have done this to them if they had taken the Senate and White House and we were looking at Hillary’s nominee to replace Scalia. They know because when they thought victory was a lock they said as much.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind compromising on a more liberal originalist like Randy Barnett if one of the Dem appointees on the Court kicks it or retires. But for political reasons, that probably isn’t happening. Neither side wants a justice who will limit government too much.

I’ve thought for a while that they should return to the old filibuster rule that requires the filibustering Senator to actually hold the floor. You’d think Senators would love opportunities to grand stand on issues that are important to voters, especially in this social media driven world.

Administrative Power

I’m often conflicted, because while I fundamentally believe popular sovereignty, I don’t view the concept as particularly good at preserving individual rights. So we have a republican government with lots of checks on its power. At least in theory. In practice it’s never really lived up to the ideal, but it probably worked better than many alternatives. But one thing I’ve always loathed is the Administrative State. Some people are now calling it the “Deep State” while others argue such a concept is a figment of right-wing nut jobs imaginations. The Administrative State is very real, and this strikes me as an excellent critique of it:

My scholarship (past and forthcoming) argues that administrative power undermines equal voting rights by shifting much lawmaking power out of Congress into the hands of unelected administrators. My work shows, moreover, that this shift occurred when the knowledge class regretted the boisterous sort of politics that came with equal voting rights. Woodrow Wilson candidly explained that “the reformer is bewildered” by the need to persuade “a voting majority of several million heads”—especially when the reformer needed to influence “the mind, not of Americans of the older stocks only, but also of Irishmen, of Germans, of Negroes.” One could go on at length with such quotes, and certainly administrative power has been dominated by whites of a certain class, but the point is not narrowly about racism. Instead, it is about how a class that expected deference to its knowledge was disappointed with the results of equal suffrage in a diverse society. It therefore welcomed a transfer of lawmaking power out of the elected legislature and into the hands of the right sort of people.

The argument, in other words, is not against an elite, but against the administrative dilution of representative government and equal voting rights. There will always be elites, and this is part of the valuable differentiation that can occur within a free society. Rather than oppose such differentiation, my scholarship suggests that all Americans, even elites, should confine themselves to working through the Constitution’s representative framework of government.

Hat tip Instapundit.

Conspiracy Theories

A few years ago, if you had said “The CIA is using my TV to spy on me,” you probably would have been sent to the loony bin for observation. But thanks to Wikileaks, we know it’s true! The Internet loves a good conspiracy theory, so I’ll throw one out there:

Also because of Wikileaks, we now know the intelligence community has the ability to hack systems and leave a Russian or Chinese “signature” on an attack. I’m thinking this probably just involves leaving some Russian or Chinese language root kit laying around, but maybe it’s more sophisticated than that. I haven’t read the documents first hand yet.

It was always in Barack Obama’s personal best interests for Hillary Clinton to not be the next President of the United States. Had Hillary won, Obama would have been forced to take a back seat, and the Clintons would then be firmly at the helm of the party. If Obama was to retain control of the Democratic Party, Hillary had to lose. But Obama couldn’t be seen to be deliberately sabotaging her campaign. So what’s the conspiracy theory? The whole “Russians! Under My Bed!” scare is a cover. Obama used Weeping Angel to sabotage Hillary’s campaign and had the intel community leave evidence to ensure it would get blamed on the Russians. Now his plants in the intel community are using the cover to sabotage Trump, and hopefully draw attention away from the hit on Hillary. Crazy? Absolutely! But so was the idea that the CIA would use people’s TVs to spy on them a decade ago.

I’m just messing around here, but at this point it wouldn’t surprise me. How long before people are putting on tin foil hats because it really does keep the CIA from reading your thoughts?

UPDATE: Along the same lines, this is the beginning of the end for encryption as we currently know it.

Russian Agent Hypothesis

There’s not much gun news, so I’ll give you a topic. One thing that doesn’t make sense to me about the Russian Agent theory of Trump is that the greatest geopolitical threat to Russia faces is cheap oil and gas. Oil and gas revenues represent 60% Russian exports, and 30% of its entire Gross Domestic Product. About 50% of the budget for the Russian government comes from state-owned oil and gas revenues. American Frackers are arguably a greater threat to Putin than the US military.

So if Putin were going to put a Manchurian Candidate in the White House, why would his man be generally supportive of American energy? Russia has put a lot of effort into anti-fracking propaganda in the United States. It would seem to me a top priority of a Russian stooge in the White House would be to halt pipeline construction and to use the EPA as a weapon to make hydraulic fracturing as expensive and unprofitable as possible.

Gun Control Has Never Worked for Democrats

Really, for most Dem politicians, gun control is preening virtue signaling meant to make sure the right people know they support right kind of people values. For Dems in safe urban districts, this doesn’t come at much of a cost. But what the Democratic Party faces today is that it’s been reduced to those safe urban districts. In order to come back, it’s going to have to appeal to people in the suburbs and exurbs. This is how the Dems came back strong in 2006.

Salena Zito argues that women with guns are the next threat to the Democratic Party.

A very important nugget from the poll: Like every woman interviewed at the outdoor show, an overwhelming 80 percent of them support the goals and objectives of the NRA.

So they represent a large chunk of white, suburban, conservative, pro-Second Amendment women who didn’t particularly like Trump but couldn’t vote for Clinton. They kept their opinions to themselves at dinner parties and pulled the lever for Trump in the voting booth.

Croney said that definitely described her.

Remember the Hillary Clinton that ran ads against Barack Obama in Pennsylvania for being too anti-gun? Yeah, if that Hillary Clinton had run for President, maybe she’d be in the White House.

I keep telling Dem friends, “Look, Hillary was a uniquely awful candidate. How bad is Hillary Clinton? She lost to Donald Trump.” It’s often a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true. Hillary did literally nothing to have broad appeal. Her girl power campaign was alienating to men. That’s bad news when you need Black and Hispanic men to turn out for you in numbers that rival Barack Obama’s if you’re going to win.

Making gun control the centerpiece of her campaign only scared off voters who might have been open to her in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. That virtue signaling works for Dems in safe districts. It’s bad news in a nationwide race. Barack Obama ran both times downplaying his support for gun control. It was only after he didn’t have to face voters any longer that we saw his true colors on the issue.

Trolling Brilliance

I have to hand it to whoever thought this up. Seriously, this was brilliant. In this, the Era of Trump, this is the smartest bit of opposition activism I think I’ve seen so far. My hat is truly off to you.

For the people who fell for this: shame on you. Educate yourselves. They weren’t passing these flags off to ordinary people on the streets: they were passing them off to what are considered “core conservative activists.” And hey, you waved them with all the red white and blue passion we’d expect from people who only give a fuck about cheering their own team and not a damned thing beyond that.

The stakes are going up folks. If conservatives wants to be taken seriously, it’s time to start acting like that’s the case. Educate yourselves. If you took half the time and resources you spent cheerleading and tried to actually learn something, you might get somewhere.

Does Cruz Know Something?

Ted Cruz is predicting there will be a Supreme Court vacancy this summer. A lot of people are getting very optimistic about Second Amendment cases because we get to replace Scalia with Gorsuch. Even if Gorsuch turns out to be as solid on the Second Amendment as Scalia, that doesn’t get us anywhere. Recall that before Scalia stepped down, the Supreme Court still wasn’t taking gun cases, even when the lower courts were just as if not more blatant than the 4th Circuit Court of appeals was. We need to replace Ginsburg or Breyer if we’re going to get anywhere.

Interestingly, however, not too soon after Cruz made his prediction, Ginsburg told the BBC she’s not so sure how much steam she’s got left:

Asked how much longer she would stay in post, she said: “At my age you have to take it year by year. I know I’m OK. What will be next year?”

She added: “I’m hopeful however, because my most senior colleague the one who most recently retired, Justice John Paul Stevens, stepped down at age 90. So I have a way to go.”

I wouldn’t read too much into that, but that doesn’t sound like someone who’s intent on staying on the High Court until the bitter end.

Crowninshield Gets Three Years for Manufacturing Without a License

For those of you who remember, Daniel Crowninshield set up a scheme whereby a person would purchase an 80% lower, then would pay him to use his CNC mills to finish it. The government argued that this amounting to manufacturing without a license. A novel theory, to be sure, but because they picked the right guy they never had to test out this novel theory in court.

Now, if you help people machine AR-15 lower receivers for profit, you can probably expect to spend some time in prison. Just a bit of general advice for people who might be tempted to try to walk the razors edge on violating or not violating the Gun Control Act: it probably will not look very good to a jury if you go by the alias “Dr. Death.” I mean, it’s a free country and all, but just sayin’. I’d also not advise not walking the razor on GCA while being a domestic violent misdemeanant, allegedly in possession of an unregistered machine gun. I’m sure that probably played into the decision to take the plea deal. Now the feds get to claim a scalp without having to test their novel theory of manufacturing without a license in court.

UPDATE: Along the same vein, attending open carry protests and making sure everyone knows who you are, and knows that you’er armed, when you have two felony raps is also not going to make things easy on your lawyer.

“Guns in America” Forum

Tomorrow at Central Penn College in Summerdale, PA there will be a forum featuring David Keene, former NRA President, and Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFire PA. It runs from 7-8PM.

Keene has generally been a great spokesman for the issue. If anyone in the area wishes to attend, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s a bit of a hike for me.

Important Ruling From PA Superior Court

The en banc Superior Court, in Commonwealth v. Goslin, has ruled in favor of the defendant without dissent:

We disagree with the trial court’s conclusion that the language of Section 912(c) is vague.

Rather, we conclude that, in order to ascertain the meaning of Section 912(c), we need not look beyond its plain language. The plain meaning of Section 912(c) provides two separate defenses: possessing and using a weapon on school property “in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity” as well as possessing “for other lawful purpose.” (emphasis added, as Chief Counsel Prince specifically argued this exact construction and noted the different verbs utilized related to the different provisions)

The Court concludes:

Although we are concerned about individuals possessing weapons on school property, we are bound by the broad defense that the legislature has provided defendants in such cases.

Josh Prince is raising money for legal defenses, as the case is headed back to lower court for a re-trial. I wouldn’t exactly go carrying firearms on school grounds because of this ruling, but it seems pretty clear the legislature intended to supply a broad defense for people engaged in legal activity. We now have the second-highest court in the Commonwealth recognizing that.

UPDATE: More discussion here. It looks like the DA is dropping the charges rather than going through with a re-trial. Josh Prince also points out that this only creates an affirmative defense. The DA can still charge you.

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