Archive for March, 2016


Never say never?

March 13, 2016

I don’t consider myself a Republican, so I haven’t written much about how Donald Trump has managed to piss all over the Republican primary process this year. (That is, aside from mentioning how he torpedoed Rand Paul’s chances. That was reason #1 for me to say #NeverTrump.)

Although Trump’s campaign is the scariest, simplest-minded nonsense I’ve ever heard from a presidential candidate, I didn’t think I had a dog in that fight. And in that vein, it will be interesting to see how the smaller political parties do if Trump is the Republican nominee. He could make it awfully easy for people to vote Libertarian this year.

But I can see the attraction of the There-Ain’t-No-Way-In-Hell movement. Since I sometimes vote Republican when there’s no good Libertarian alternative, my opinion of any Republicans who endorse this bozo suffers. (Lookin’ at you, Gov. Christie.) There’s reason #2.

Finally, I consider Trump to be too much concerned with his personal benefit and too little concerned with the details of how our divided government works (or is supposed to work). Reason #3.

Erick Erickson wrote this at The Resurgent a couple of weeks ago.

The Importance of Disclosing This Immediately #NeverTrump

I will not vote for Donald Trump for President of the United States even if he is the Republican nominee.

He is an authoritarian blending nationalist and tribal impulses, which historically has never worked out well for the nation that goes in that direction or the people in that nation.

He will not win in November. He will not win because he turns off a large number of Republicans; he turns off women; he turns off hispanic voters; he turns off black voters; and the blue collar voters who support him are not a sufficient base of support to carry him over the finish line. […]

Trump is a liberal who has supported big government, interventionist policies. He defends Planned Parenthood, says he can cut deals in Washington, and believes in a socialist government run healthcare scheme.

At a time when so much is on the line for people of faith and conservatives, Donald Trump believes judges sign bills. He said so himself in the Houston, TX debate, while lying about the jurisprudence of Justice Samuel Alito.

Trump is also a con-artist and the media, which has built his campaign is going to destroy his campaign. After he secures the Republican nomination, the media will trot out every victim and perceived victim of Trump’s actions. All the people hurt by repeated strategic bankruptcies, all the people swindled by Trump University, and anyone who got food poisoning from Trump steaks will be in a 24/7 cavalcade on national television.

By the time the media and Democrats, but I repeat myself, are done with Trump, he will be radioactive.

Donald Trump will not win in November. Period. End of story.

But, on the off chance Satan pulls a grand slam out of hell and Trump were to do it, he would be an authoritarian despot, deeply destructive to the ideals of this nation and the constitutional principles of the republic, and he would destroy the remains of the Republican Party and much of the conservative movement as conservatives whore themselves out to be close to power. […]

Today I ran across this interview with Sen. Rubio and I thought he made his case pretty well. Unfortunately, he didn’t come right out and say that people with hopes for the presidency have a responsibility to speak in a way that demonstrates leadership (i.e., rationally & inclusively rather than divisively). But Rubio did say that candidates can’t "say anything they like," which I took to mean the same thing.

It’s a real pity that Sen. Rubio didn’t declare that he’d never support Trump as the party nominee. It sure looked like he wanted to say that.

Based on an article that Sen. Claire McCaskill wrote last August, it occurred to me late last year that perhaps Ms. Clinton was doing something similar with Donald Trump: that is, she’s scheming to set up a Republican nominee whom she knows she can beat.

The idea made me wonder whether my tinfoil hat was a little too tight, frankly. I usually don’t have much patience for conspiracy theories. But what Sen. McCaskill claims she did for a Senate seat might not be beyond what Ms. Clinton would do for the White House, eh?

Not long after that I came across this post by Mona Charen at National Review. (Maybe her hat was also too tight?)

Is Trump Working for Hillary?

He couldn’t help the Democrats more if he were trying. Wait, maybe he is…

The dictionary defines “bogeyman” as “an imaginary evil spirit, referred to typically to frighten children.” Hello, Donald Trump. It’s not clear whether he set out intentionally to elect Hillary Clinton, but there is little question that he could not be fulfilling the role of Republican bogeyman to greater effect. […]

From Obamacare to terrorism, from the economy to climate change, and from guns to free speech, progressive policies have proven deeply disappointing when not downright obtuse and dangerous. Clinton promises more of the same while trailing an oil slick of corruption in her wake. And yet swinging into the frame, week in and week out, the orange-maned billionaire bogeyman dominates the discussion.

Hell yes, Republicans are anti-Hispanic bigots, Trump (a lifelong Democrat) is supposed to confirm. Just look at the way he talked about Mexican “rapists” and vowed to build a wall that Mexico will fund.

Hell yes, Republicans want to fight a war on women. Did you hear what Trump said about Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina?

Hell yes, Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-handicapped, anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim. Line ‘em up and Trump will offend. Not cleverly, mind you, but crudely. Donald Trump is fond of saying that our political leaders are stupid, constantly outmaneuvered at the bargaining table by shrewder Chinese, Mexicans, and Japanese. No one can accuse him of stupidity, provided his goal is to elect Hillary Clinton.[…]

It couldn’t be working out better if Hillary had planned it.

As Mr. Mencken said, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

Here’s Randy Barnett talking briefly about Trump and Ted Cruz in the course of a lengthy interview with Nick Gillespie.

Prof. Barnett says exactly what I’ve been thinking: basically, why does anyone trust Trump? As the professor said, "Just listen to what the man says." Because he’ll say anything.


It’s no surprise at all

March 11, 2016

Last week I read Barr Eisler’s novel The God’s Eye View. It was a pretty good novel but I thought one of the best parts was Eisler’s closing notes where he talks about how there is, effectively, no longer much Congressional oversight over security agencies like the NSA.

The representatives and senators who oversee those agencies are often bound by secrecy agreements with those agencies to not discuss what they hear or learn even with other congressmen. In other words, the agencies demand secrecy in the name of national security even from those who should be controlling the agencies’ policies and procedures.

So when Paul sent a link to this column by Radley Balko, it really wasn’t much of a surprise. But, surprised or not, we should all be shocked at what’s happening.

Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism

A while back, we noted a report showing that the “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy. The ACLU of Massachusetts blog Privacy SOS explains why this is important:

What does this rule change mean for you? In short, domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. FBI agents don’t need to have any “national security” related reason to plug your name, email address, phone number, or other “selector” into the NSA’s gargantuan data trove. They can simply poke around in your private information in the course of totally routine investigations. And if they find something that suggests, say, involvement in illegal drug activity, they can send that information to local or state police. That means information the NSA collects for purposes of so-called “national security” will be used by police to lock up ordinary Americans for routine crimes. And we don’t have to guess who’s going to suffer this unconstitutional indignity the most brutally. It’ll be Black, Brown, poor, immigrant, Muslim, and dissident Americans: the same people who are always targeted by law enforcement for extra “special” attention.

This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn’t be alone. And it certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information — see the Stingray debacle. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy. We’re now learning that the feds had these agreements with police agencies all over the country, affecting thousands of cases.

Somewhere I have a picture that I took in Amsterdam a long while back (late 80s or early 90s). It was a pic of a large sign on a canal bridge, reading: Abuse of power comes as no surprise.

So don’t be surprised. Be vigilant in defense of your rights instead.

Here’s Edward Snowden talking about the secrecy surrounding surveillance programs during a recent interview. Give it a listen from the 16:30 mark until the 19:05 mark.

How can the people have any voice in a process with the deck stacked like that? I have to conclude that we no longer have a voice in those decisions. It’s the Omniscient State, citizen: love it or leave it.


Plain & simple

March 6, 2016

Here’s a good cartoon about minimum wage laws from Redpanels.


Via Carpe Diem

As an interesting side light, here’s a chart from Pew Research that appeared at BusinessInsider recently.

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