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Currently Browsing: Government

“I’m From the Government, and I’m here to Kill You”

Dave Hardy’s latest book, “I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Kill you” is now available for preorder on Amazon. I’m told it should ship in a few weeks. I’d strongly recommend the introduction:

The proposition that a king, a government, can do wrong is central to the Declaration, America’s foundational document. So how did America get to a situation where government employees, “public servants,” can kill by sheer sloppiness and walk away? Where an agency can level a town and kill six hundred citizens and escape all responsibility? Where a federal agency can run guns to Mexican drug cartels, causing hundreds of deaths on both sides of the border, and wash its hands of the matter? Where veterans can die awaiting doctors’ appointments, and the hospital administrators can collect their bonuses and walk away?

Answering these questions requires a brief look at legal history. English common law developed the concept of “sovereign immunity,” commonly expressed as “the King can do no wrong.” But common-law sovereign immunity was actually a narrow concept. A subject could not sue or pros- ecute the king, but could take legal action against anyone carrying out the king’s orders. Americans could better hold their government accountable when they were ruled by George III than they can today!

Read the whole thing.

Can We Please Start Seeking Congressional Authorization to Fight Wars as Our Constitution Demands?

It doesn’t get any more right when it’s “our” side that does it:

All of this is true, but it’s also true that the President launched the attack without approval from Congress and no clear and present danger to the United States or our allies.

The precedent for going to war under these conditions was set by the previous Administration, but that doesn’t mean that the current Administration should necessarily follow it.

It was wrong for Obama to intervene in the Syrian Civil War without even so much as consulting Congress when Obama did it, and likewise Trump should seek approval from Congress if he’s going to continue it. If he can’t get approval from Congress, that should say something.

I do think the President can act without Congress in the face of clear, immediate threats, and Assad might be a butcher, but we ought to demand our elected leaders follow the law.

UPDATE: For the comments: how many of your lefty friends on social media are acting like Obama hasn’t been bombing targets in Syria for several years now?

Gorsuch Vote Goes Nuclear

The GOP pushed the button on the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, clearing the way for Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed. Personally, I think they ought to nuke the filibuster for everything. Well, not completely nuke, just go back to the old rule that a Senator has to hold the floor to filibuster. The way some people have been talking you’d think the filibuster rule was carried down from Mount Horeb on stone tablets. In reality the filibuster rule that does not require the Senator to hold the floor only dates to 1975. Before that, it’s use prior to the 20th century was almost unheard of. In the 20th century, before the 1975 rule, it was mostly used to hold up civil rights legislation. So this idea that it’s a longstanding, revered institution is mostly nonsense.

The Gorsuch Shoe Will Drop This Week

Sounds like we’ll find out whether McConnell has to go to the nuclear option to get Gorsuch confirmed by Thursday. I think from a strategic perspective, Schumer would be making an awful mistake to force a nuclear strike over Gorsuch. It makes a lot more sense for the Dems to save that fire when the time comes to fight for one of their seats. Rumor has it that Kennedy might retire this summer, which would be more consequential than replacing Scalia with Gorsuch. This really doesn’t change anything on the Court.

Chuck Schumer is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. He’s probably one of the most coy politicians I can think of. If he’s not intent on blowing up his munitions stockpile to appease the angry base, he’ll arrange things so that enough red state Democrats and a few non-vulnerable blue ones vote for cloture to let Gorsuch eke by.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty also notes Dems might want to hold off until later:

But imagine that Trump picks someone else. We can skip past the nominations of Judge Judy, Pirro, Dredd and Reinhold, but let’s assume Andrew Napolitano is right when he boasts that Trump is considering nominating him for the Supreme Court. Or Trump nominates his sister, or he nominates any figure who leaves conservative legal minds unnerved from a thin record or other flaws.

In other words, imagine Trump nominating his own version of Harriet Miers.

In that scenario, not only would Democrats be likely to have the votes to filibuster the nominee, but they might have some Republicans willing to join as well. Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans will nuke the filibuster without a second thought when it’s being used to block a sterling judge like Gorsuch.

That’s another good reason. Don’t believe it couldn’t get far worse.

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.

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.

Trump’s Pick to Replace Scalia

It’s Neil Gorsuch. You can check out his profile on SCOTUSBlog here. As John Richardson noted earlier today, he’s not written any opinions on the Second Amendment, but he’s in the same mold as Scalia, except for not being very fond of Chevron Deference, which is fine by me. We don’t know exactly where he stands on the Second Amendment, but given his overall judicial philosophy, I’d find it doubtful he’d be against us. That will need to come out in the hearings.

Speaking of the hearings, I fully expect this to go nuclear, meaning the Republicans will have to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees the same as they were eliminated for lower court nominees by the Dems. I think they should do it, because they can be absolutely assured the Dems will do it if they control the Senate again in the future. They pretty much said they would. Don’t give GOP lawmakers room to be fools and unilaterally disarm.

It’s important to remember, Scalia was the strongest justice on the Court for the Second Amendment. Replacing him with someone just as solid is just not going backwards. I would have preferred someone with a record on the Second Amendment. We never had records on Roberts or Alito, but they both voted with us when it counted. Alito and Thomas are strong on this issue. Either Roberts or Kennedy, or both, are softer supporters. We need to get one more vote on there before we’ll be moving ahead.

UPDATE: NRA is endorsing the choice out of the gate. My guess is they have talked to him, and the speed of the release means they knew about it before it was announced.

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