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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).

Well, This is Certainly a Fun Development

I have to give the 2016 cycle one thing, it’s probably nearly as entertaining as it is depressing, and to that end we find out that one of Hillary’s staffers has been offered immunity by the Justice Department, and it’s the guy who set up her infamous e-mail server. Popehat noted on Twitter:


Grab the popcorn folks. this show is probably about to get even more riveting. I think Obama was happy to sit back and let Bernie take down Hillary for him, but it would seem after his lackluster Super Tuesday showing, the Administration has decided Bernie might need a little assistance.

Rubio Takes One State

Gun news is thin because of Trump Mania. I was hoping Rubio would have a better day than he did on super yesterday. But he did win Minnesota. Seen on the Facebooks, I had a friend who will remain nameless (you know who you are) say this following Internet winning quote:

Minnesota got it right. Looks like they got their “we’re mad as hell, not gonna take it anymore and electing a loudmouthed, unqualified hack because fuck you” out of their system a couple decades ahead of the rest of the country.

I wonder who he could be talking about? Oh yeah:

GovVentura

It’s been a long progression. First I thought maybe Scott Walker would be a good candidate, but I wasn’t pleased with his response to Obergefell (calling for a constitutional amendment), and then Trump basically sucked all the oxygen out of the room and ran Walker’s campaign clean out of money. With Walker out of money, I gravitated toward Carly Fiorina, but she surged then fizzled. She also had the weakness of the Dems already having an effective opposition book written for her. OK, that leaves Rubio, who is a bit to happy with the surveillance state for my tastes, but most of these losers are. It’s always been my belief that Cruz was just kind of fundamentally unlikable and would not do much to bring needed voters into the GOP tent to win. Maybe I should start liking Trump. That seems to be a surefire way to doom someone’s campaign.

Jim Geraghty thinks it needs to stay a three man race, since the goal now will be to deny Trump the votes needed to clinch, and force a brokered convention. This makes sense to me, since if Cruz drops out one can expect that some percentage of his support goes to Trump rather than Rubio, and vice versa if Rubio drops out.

Reid Won’t Retaliate over Scalia Replacement

Harry Reid is saying the Democratic Minority won’t retaliate against the GOP for refusing to consider Obama’s replacement for Justice Scalia:

Neither side expects the political chasm over the issue to significantly affect legislative business for the rest of the year. Bills to overhaul prison sentencing, combat heroin abuse, and reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration still have a chance of passage, as does a patent bill.

That’s partly because Democrats have announced they will not engage in reprisal obstruction.

That’s because both side are using the issue to rally the base. Politically, it’s a bet, and as Trump is looking to lock in the nomination, the Dems are probably liking their odds. No sense in blowing everything up if you think you have a winning hand. If you look at things from the Dem perspective, Trump will crash and burn, and the Republicans could either outright lose or be weaker in the Senate. The best they could do right now is a compromise candidate. From the Republican side, the idea that a Democratic President and possibly Democrat Senate raises the stakes in this election substantially.

It’s good news for the Second Amendment that Reid won’t try to force a replacement now. Given GOP turnout numbers in the primary vs. Dem turnout numbers, I’m comfortable with the bet.

Is Donald Trump a Nazi? Second Hitler?

This article over at Instapundit talks about the accusation. I don’t think so, anymore than I thought Obama was a communists. I think Trump is a populist authoritarian in the Jacksonian tradition. He’s also arguably an attractive candidate to “national greatness” conservatives. I don’t like Trump because I don’t like authoritarian populists, and I think national greatness is achieved through liberty rather than a strong man. But I don’t think Trump is a fascist in the European tradition. I don’t notice his brownshirts roughing up left-wing activists on the streets. He doesn’t even have brownshirts. Trump seems to be to fit into American traditions, it’s just he fits into ones I don’t like.

As I’ve said, I don’t think Trump will govern from the far right. I think he’ll govern as a haphazard centrist. I don’t believe Trump is an ideologue (that’s Ted Cruz). I think Trump will go in whatever direction sufficiently strokes his massive ego. It can certainly be successfully argued that Trump is a narcissist, but to be honest with you, you won’t rise much above state senator these days without having at least some narcissistic tendencies.

I’m bringing this up now because Trump is close to having a lock on the nomination. His victory in Nevada yesterday was decisive. I may be sitting out this primary for the lack of any acceptable candidate by the time Pennsylvania’s primary rolls around in April. Or hell, maybe I’ll switch parties and vote for Bernie.

But damn it all, just when you think we’ll have an election that’s slightly less depressing than normal, I’m proved disastrously wrong.

New Jersey Drops Charges Against Corrections Officer

Be careful when you leave America, as the old Uncleism says. A Pennsylvania corrections officer got nicked on a gun charge in New Jersey after being a victim in a DUI accident on the way back from Atlantic City. I was worried about this guy, since he got in trouble after Chris Christie suspended his campaign. Fortunately, it’s now being reported that the charges against the corrections officer have been dropped by the Gloucester County prosecutor.

This is how lasting cultural change begins. I know a lot of people were skeptical about Chris Christie’s candidacy, and I don’t honestly blame them. But it would seem that the powers that be in New Jersey are seeing real pressure about being outside the borders of the American norm. I have little doubt had this guy not been a corrections officer, but instead been ordinary Pennsylvania LTC possessing Joe Sixpack, the result would be different, but it is at least progress to see a New Jersey prosecutor do the right thing without needing a pardon from the Governor.

Range Owner Sued for Refusing Muslims

Filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also under Oklahoma’s anti-discrimination laws. Personally, I don’t think incidents like this reflects well on the shooting community. I think there are debates to be had over the definition off public accommodation, and whether current civil rights law successfully balances property rights and a right to free association with a functional, pluralistic society. There are fair points own both sides, but that’s not the issue I’m speaking about here.

I don’t defend radical jihadists. If you follow an interpretation of Islam that believes in spreading the faith through conquest, beheading unbelievers, razing villages and raping women, I don’t have any issue labeling you a barbarian and treating you as such. All the abrahamic religions are violent and barbaric if you want to dig through and find passages in the scriptures that support that kind of thing.

But if you follow a mellow interpretation of the faith, as the Kurds do, and as a lot of other muslims around the world do, I don’t have a problem with you. I’m not willing to paint every Muslim with the same broad brush any more than I would make Christians own Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, or gun owners own mass shooters. I care more about what you do, rather than what you profess to believe. If a couple of guys come onto a shooting range and start shouting “Death to America” as they shoot, I wouldn’t blame any range owner for booting them and tipping off the FBI.

I think people are right to be concerned about the spread in popularity if violent, fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. I don’t think that makes one bigoted. But to me, you take people as they come, as individuals first, and members of whatever group you may or may not like second.

Tie Cases Will Be Reargued

So notes SCOTUSBlog. Typically when the Supreme Court is even numbered, splits uphold whatever the lower court ruling was. This indicates cases that split will be reheard when the next justice is confirmed. We have no Second Amendment cases before the Court currently, but the stakes in this election keep getting higher and higher, and yet the three ring circus carries on.

We’re going to need more than hope to hold the Senate firm on not voting on Obama’s nominee. It’ll take a lot of letters, e-mails and phone calls to keep Senators in line.

This may be all I have for today. The news cycle is not thrilling. Maybe a news post tomorrow.

Concern for the Future

I like to think of myself as a happy warrior when it comes to advocacy on this issue and others, and I’m generally optimistic things will work out for us in the end. I like following the old (and probably fake) Bismarck quote that God had special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America.

But for the first time I’m feeling real concern that the doomsayers are right, and we’re essentially screwed. It’s not just Scalia dying, though that puts the Second Amendment and limits on the federal government in jeopardy. I’m worried we’re about to get into a major war with this damned fool thing. Meanwhile, who do the voters like? A one man clown show and a kooky old socialist from Vermont. Donald Trump has accomplished one thing: making me think that maybe that Ted Cruz guy isn’t so bad after all. I think voters are sorely mistaken about Donald Trump. I believe if he were elected, he’d govern as a centrist, but as a haphazard centrist. I don’t think Donald Trump believes in conservatism. I don’t think Donald Trump believes in libertarianism, liberalism, or progressivism. I think Donald Trump believes in Donald Trump. How would he govern if elected? I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else can credibly claim too know either.

With everything going on in the world and in our country, this sorry lot is the best we can do? I didn’t really like George H.W. Bush, or Clinton, or George W. Bush, but I never had quite so impending a feeling that we’re just totally f**ked that I have right now.

The Fight Over Scalia’s Seat

Mitch McConnell came out pretty quickly and said that the Senate would not confirm a replacement for Scalia until after the election. The left is, naturally, in full outrage mode. I don’t really care. The Senate has to hold firm, because the very existence of the Second Amendment as any kind of meaningful right is at stake. I really enjoyed this bit of snark from Jim Geraghty this morning:

 

 

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell should just give this speech:

We should not confirm any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances. They must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not . . .

This is just a prologue considering the constitutional harm and dramatic departures that are in store if those few are joined by one more ideological ally. We have to, in my judgment, stick by the precepts that I’ve elaborated. I will do everything in my power to prevent one more ideological ally from joining Sotomayor and Kagan on the court.

That, of course, is a speech from Chuck Schumer from June 2007, with “Bush” replaced with “Obama” and “Roberts and Alito” changed to “Sotomayor and Kagan.” Watch the video; the audience at the American Constitutional Society gave it roaring applause at the end.

Read the whole thing. The Dems would never be so stupid as to confirm a justice that would fundamentally alter the makeup of the Court in the last year of a Republican Administration. Kennedy was confirmed in Reagan’s last year, but the vacancy occurred in 1986. The Senate rejected Robert Bork, then Douglas Ginsburg withdrew after it came out he once smoked a doob. Kennedy was a compromise candidate the Dems were relatively pleased with.

I tend to agree with Charles Cooke that the GOP should probably have remained open to acceptable candidates. If Obama decided to float Prof. Randy Barnett or Prof. Akhil Amar as compromise candidates, I would argue the Senate should take them pretty seriously. Neither Profs. Barnett or Amar fit nicely on the left-right spectrum, but neither are likely to greatly offend either side.

On the other hand, it would seem likely that President Obama has until February 22nd to make a recess appointment, since the Stupid Party decided to afford him that opportunity. Of course, let’s not give him any ideas either.

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