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Ouch

From David French at National Review:

In April 2014, America was transfixed by an armed standoff in the Nevada desert. On one side was a collection of dangerous, out-of-control armed men who were deliberately provocative, prone to saying unhinged things in a single-minded quest to destroy their enemies, and who lied time and again to cover their misdeeds.

On the other side was Cliven Bundy.

How bad did the feds get that National Review is dismissing armed resistance to the government? Pretty bad, if you read any of the whistleblower documents.

Dismissed with Prejudice

What does it say that the Bundys case was not only dismissed, but dismissed with prejudice, which means the government can’t reopen it. What does it say that it was an Obama appointed judge who did it? How bad was the government’s misconduct in the case, and if it was that bad, maybe the protesters had some justification for shaking their guns in the tyrant’s face?

“The government’s irresponsible and, at times, false proffers to this Court as well as its dismissiveness toward the defense inspires no confidence in the prospect of fairness,” they wrote. “A dismissal is necessary to remedy the constitutional violations, to preserve the integrity of this court’s processes, and to deter future misconduct. Anything short of a dismissal is tantamount to condoning the government’s behavior in this case.”

People can balk at an armed population being a check on bad behavior from the government all they want, but based on what I’ve read from this case, there were agents in the Bureau of Land Management who were itching for a fight, and when it looked like they might actually get one, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and backed down.

Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

– Thomas Jefferson

“Consent of the governed” doesn’t really have a whole lot of meaning if harsh language is your best defense. An armed society may be more messy, and more uncomfortable for some than one where everyone is at the mercy of government bureaucrats, but I much prefer a world where people have to think, and think hard, about whether or not to trample a minority interest under the public boot.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Some would probably be more comfortable if we were more like Germany or Sweden, but that’s not who we are, and like Jefferson, I hope we will never be.

Netflix Binge Watching: The Crown

We’ve been watching The Crown, the tales of the latest monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Windsor. It’s surprisingly good. The actress who plays Elizabeth II starts out kind of awkward, but after a few episodes starts to wear the role very well. The actor who plays Prince Philip really looks the part, and does very well in the role.

I don’t know how I’d feel about the Constitutional Monarchy if I were raised in the UK. I’m a bit of an insufferable republican. Monarchy is a really awful thing to do to people; especially the monarchs. It is interesting human drama to put people into that kind of position for no other reason than accident of birth. Probably why those of us in the US have such a fascination with British royalty. At least our leaders have to want it. But if they really want it, are they fit to have it?

Why All These Bundy Cases Ended up Jury Nullified

As Dave Hardy pointed out, this is a doozy. BLM agent accuses his superiors of numerous illegal abuses and misbehaviors in the Bundy Ranch case:

The investigation also indicated that on multiple occasions, former BLM Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) Love specifically and purposely ignored U.S. Attorney’s Office and BLM civilian management direction and intent as well as Nevada State Official recommendations in order to command the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale, and militaristic trespass cattle impound possible. Additionally, this investigation also indicated excessive use of force, civil rights and policy violations. The investigation indicated that there was little doubt there was an improper cover-up in virtually every matter that a particular BLM SAC participated in, or oversaw and that the BLM SAC was immune from discipline and the consequences of his actions.

If BLM regularly deals with ranchers in this manner, it would explain why the Bundys were jury nullified even though they were guilty as hell.

All in all, it is my assessment, and the investigation showed that the 2014 Gold Butte Trespass Cattle Impound was in part a punitive and ego-driven expedition by Senior BLM Law Enforcement Supervisor (former BLM Special Agent-in-Charge Dan Love) that was only in part focused on the intent of the associated Federal Court Orders and the mission of our agency (to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the multiple use and enjoyment of present and future generations).

Retaliation against dissidents and whistleblowers is endemic in the “civil service.” The fact that everyone so up in arms over Trump doing the kinds of things that has been routinely done in the federal bureaucracy for years has been, for me, a source of laughter and frustration. How often do you find yourself thinking about something a friend, colleague, or family member wrote: “You didn’t give a shit about X until biased news site Y just told you that Trump did X and now it’s the worst. thing. ever. Even though Obama and everyone that came before him did X all the time.”

We have some real serious issues about how the federal government runs, but we all need to be operating in the same reality to do something about it. We all increasingly don’t operate in the same reality. I’ve heard concerns for the “deep state” being dismissed as right-wing paranoia. I don’t care what you call it, this is the truth: the federal bureaucracy is a branch of government onto itself, which has very little accountability to the elected officials that under our system are supposed to lead it.

“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.

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