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He’s Baaa-aaaaaack

After Milo’s trouble in February, I knew he’d be back. He has a lot to say, he needs the attention, he’s fun and the camera loves him.

Via Breitbart.com, it’s MILO’S FREE SPEECH WEEK. (I think the all-caps are part of the shtick?)

In light of recent controversies, I am planning a huge multi-day event called MILO’S FREE SPEECH WEEK in Berkeley later this year. We will hold talks and rallies and throw massive parties, all in the name of free expression and the First Amendment. All will be welcome, regardless of political affiliation.

[…]
During MILO’S FREE SPEECH WEEK, we will give out a new free speech prize — the Mario Savio Award — to the person we believe has done most to protect free expression at UC Berkeley and its surrounding area. Each day will be dedicated to a different enemy of free speech, including feminism, Black Lives Matter and Islam.

If UC Berkeley does not actively assist us in the planning and execution of this event, we will extend festivities to an entire month. We will establish a tent city on Sproul Plaza protesting the university’s total dereliction of its duty and encourage students at other universities to follow suit.
I intend to return Berkeley to its rightful place as the home of free speech — whether university administrators and violent far-left antifa thugs like it or not.
– MILO

Mario Savio was, per Wiki, “a key member in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. He is most famous for his passionate speeches, especially the ‘put your bodies upon the gears’ address given at Sproul Hall…on December 2, 1964.”

P.S. I respect and admire Ann Coulter, but do you want to know the difference between her and Milo? A penis and $20,000. (My understanding is that she charges 20K to speak to College Republicans, while he charges them zero. If that’s incorrect, I would be happy to hear it in the comments.)

CIA vs. WikiLeaks: It’s Awn

Of course the fight between them was already on; I’ll get to that in a moment.

President Trump’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first speech since taking over the agency, lambasted WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange — calling the group a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that is often abetted by “state actors like Russia.”

Speaking Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Pompeo called Assange a “fraud,” someone with no “moral compass” and a “narcissist who has created nothing of value.”

He asserted that Assange and former National Security Agency staffer and famed leaker Edward Snowden “seek to use that information to make a name for themselves” and they “care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.”

Asked why he would focus on WikiLeaks rather than other issues, Pompeo said he felt it was vital to inform the American people about the threat they pose.

There’s more. RTWT.

Some of Pompeo’s claims are absurd, and others are all too real. First, the absurd: That Snowden did it to make a name for himself.

The guy is almost a prisoner – in Russia, of all places. If he comes back to the U.S., he faces trial. Snowden agrees that he should face trial, and says that he will do so – when he is allowed to mount a public-interest defense (presenting his side of it, that he acted in the public interest when he revealed masses of NSA classified info). But I digress. The point is: Snowden has given up so much to reveal what he revealed, that saying he did it for the fame is ridiculous.

Similar thoughts would apply to Assange, who is almost a prisoner in Ecuador’s embassy in London. While no one is ever perfect, both of these men have acted from their ideals. In denying that so crudely, Pompeo counts on his audience to be stupid.

As to what’s real in Pompeo’s speech: There is no question that both Snowden’s revelations and WikiLeaks make the job of U.S. intelligence agencies much harder. That has to be a bad thing, in many respects. The question is whether, in some other respects, it might also be a good thing?

What has been revealed, first by Snowden and more recently by WikiLeaks Vault 7, is: massive surveillance programs whereby U.S. intelligence agencies spy not only on enemies, but on allies and on ordinary Americans. Really unconstitutional programs and capabilities. So unconstitutional and invasive that they destroy U.S. moral authority and make us understandably hated by the rest of the world.

Until recently, Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, was pro-WikiLeaks (see here – Trump literally said “I love WikiLeaks!”). And against excessive surveillance, such as the Obama administration’s surveillance on Trump before, during and after the 2016 election. Likewise with Pompeo himself. But their love for WikiLeaks was before the Vault 7 revelations and more to come, which could be ugly enough to destroy the CIA as an institution.

In the past, I’ve blogged on my ambivalence about Snowden (example, see here). But, in the last year, I’ve come more to his side; glad that he and Assange did what they do. The more so because of news headlines in the last 5 months: I believe that some leaders of the U.S. intelligence community have tried to damage (if not overthrow) a duly elected President, with a campaign of “intelligence leaks” that are so empty and misleading as to be lies-in-effect. That would be a separate issue. But one that proves the said leaders’ bad faith and anti-constitutional intentions.

In short, we’re at a sad juncture where several issues point to the same conclusion: the U.S. intelligence community is way out of control and in great need of investigation and cleanup.

As always, feel free to disagree or state your view, in the comments. (As always, I’m looking for “agreeable disagreement” and exchange; don’t expect me to come instantly to your viewpoint.)

A Constitutional Conservative Case for Backing Trump in November

Although I’ve only been a lurker and occasional commenter at GayPatriot over the past two and a half years (between working full-time, earning another degree, and making a move, I haven’t felt like I had much time for blogging), I still check in regularly to see what’s going on and what people are talking about.  From comments V the K, ColoradoPatriot and the other contributors have made here, I gather I’m in the minority among the blog contributors–but in sync with many readers and commenters–in my willingness to support Trump in this election.

Trump was definitely not my first choice:  I would have originally put him somewhere near the middle of the pack of 17 declared candidates, and, among the final four candidates, I would definitely have preferred Cruz.  As someone who considers himself a constitutional conservative, I would have preferred a nominee with a clear record of supporting such principles, but now that Trump is the Republican nominee, I am willing to back him.

My willingness does not come from blind party loyalty, but instead, from a clear understanding of my priorities and what is at stake in this election.  While I am more than conversant with Trump’s faults, as I will explain below, even some of his faults provide good reasons for backing him rather than voting in a way that would–directly or indirectly–lead to a victory for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Although I could begin by outlining my points of agreement with Trump and then detailing and responding to various points of concern, others have done so already elsewhere, and for the sake of my particular argument, at this point, it is more useful to say a few words about my philosophy of voting.  While many people hew to an idealistic vision of voting whereby you are supposed to vote for the person who shares most of your views or principles, anyone who has been voting very long quickly realizes that such a vision rarely squares with reality.  So what to do?  One can vote, as the saying usually goes, for “the lesser of two evils,” which is how many of the people I know think about voting in presidential races, or one can approach it in some other way.  Some people say they vote for issues rather than parties or candidates, others say they vote for the person and not the party, and still others have other approaches.

Many people’s views on voting evolve over their lifetimes.  During Bill Clinton’s first term, it became evident to me that voting on character was in many respects more important than voting on issues because I’d rather vote for a person of character who will try to do what he says he will do, than for a slippery, dishonest snake who will lie and “triangulate” and poll-test all of his positions just for the sake of holding on to power.  I reasoned that even when I disagree with the person of character, I can act on that disagreement to oppose policies or proposals that I disagree with.

But what happens when all of the candidates seem to have objectionable characters in some respect or another, and no candidate adequately represents your views on the issues?  One response is to throw up your hands and say you won’t be part of the process, and many say they are going to do that this year.  My response is to say that in such a situation, one has to vote strategically in order to best achieve one’s objectives.

Anyone who has ever taken a class in strategy or game theory will have come across topics such as decision trees, Nash equilibriums, and games such as the prisoner’s dilemma.  Without going into too much detail, what one learns from studying such matters is that often the best strategic choice is not necessarily the choice that appears to be in one’s best interest at first glance.  Sometimes the best strategic choice involves taking risks that one wouldn’t ordinarily decide to choose.

In this election, as a constitutional conservative, I believe that in a contest between Trump, Clinton, and a variety of third-party candidates, voting for Trump offers the best strategic choice for advancing constitutional conservative principles.  I say that while fully recognizing that Trump is more of an opportunist than he is a conservative.

But let’s examine the situation.  We know that Hillary Clinton is no constitutional conservative.  We also know that Hillary Clinton is no Bill Clinton, an opportunist willing to “triangulate” for the sake of power.  Hillary is a committed leftist who is proud to think of Republicans as “enemies.”  That’s not hyperbole, but Hillary’s own words from one of the debates.  She views herself as a “progressive…who can get things done.”

During her time in the Senate, Hillary had tried to craft an image as a somewhat “moderate” Democrat, but that didn’t help her against the leftist Obama in 2008, who not only appealed more to their party’s leftist base, but, as a relative unknown, had none of Hillary’s baggage and the added bonus of more melanin.  When she became Secretary of State, however, she quickly reverted to the kinds of behaviors that had earned her so much distrust during her husband’s time as president.  And with the Clinton Foundation, she and her husband had found a new way to enrich themselves through their so-called “public service.”

So what would a Hillary Clinton presidency look like?  This excellent piece written a few months back by the always worthwhile Daniel Greenfield offers a persuasive preview:

The national debt will go up. So will your taxes. Hillary Clinton is promising a trillion dollar tax hike. And that’s during her campaign. Imagine how much she will really raise taxes once she’s actually in office.

Two Supreme Court justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy will likely leave office on her watch. That’s in addition to Scalia’s empty seat which she will fill resulting in an ideological switch for the court. Additionally, Kennedy, for all his flaws, was a swing vote. Hillary’s appointee won’t be swinging anywhere. The Supreme Court will once again become a reliable left-wing bastion.

Even if the Democrats never manage to retake Congress, they will control two out of three branches of government. And with an activist Supreme Court and the White House, the left will have near absolute power to redefine every aspect of society on their own terms without facing any real challenges.

And they will use it. Your life changed fundamentally under Obama. The process will only accelerate.

You will have less free speech. You will pay more for everything. Your children and grandchildren will be taught to hate you twice as hard. Local democracy will continue being eroded. Your community, your school, your town, your city and your state will be run out of D.C. You will live under the shadow of being arrested for violating some regulation that you never even heard of before.

Every day you will notice basic aspects of life that you took for granted just vanishing while a carefully selected multicultural audience cheers on television.

Hillary Clinton had a man sent to jail for uploading a video about Mohammed. What do you think she’ll do to even more vocal critics of Islam? How long will it be until a new Supreme Court decides that a Mohammed cartoon is “shouting fire in a crowded theater” and not protected by the Constitution?

I wish I could say Greenfield is exaggerating, but I know that he is not.   As Glenn Reynolds always says, read the whole thing.

And I haven’t even touched on the reckless dishonesty and unquestionable corruption of the Clintons.    As Fred Barnes noted in a recent piece, “Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to get this close to becoming president of the United States.”  Barnes notes:

Is there any public figure who lies as routinely as Clinton? Not in my lifetime in Washington. Not Richard Nixon. Not LBJ. Not Donald Trump. Not even Bill Clinton. She skillfully, though probably unconsciously, spreads out her lies to lessen the impact. But when you pack them together, as Rep. Trey Gowdy did while questioning FBI director James Comey at a House hearing, they’re shocking.

And in that case, he is just talking about the e-mail scandal.  The Clinton Foundation is another story completely, and an even more appalling one on its face.

The Clintons are so unscrupulous in their quest to gain and hold on to power while enriching themselves that they could teach a graduate-level course on political corruption and political machines that might shock the denizens of Tammany Hall.

For those reasons and many more, my political position this year has always been one of “Never Hillary.”  Hillary Clinton must not become president.  If she does at this point in time, the damage she will be able to do to the country will be irreversible.

So then, why Donald Trump?  Honestly the main reason, the most basic reason, is that Hillary is a guaranteed disaster, and Trump is admittedly a gamble, but in a desperate situation a gamble is the best choice.

I’m more than sufficiently aware of the case people make against Trump: he’s a narcissist, he’s dishonest, he’s impetuous, he’s unscrupulous, he’s not a “true conservative,” and, last but not least, he displays authoritarian tendencies in many of the things he says.

Of those, the most significant complaint is that he may have authoritarian tendencies, and that may appear to be the most challenging concern to reconcile with my claim that I consider myself a constitutional conservative.  How can one vote for a candidate who may be tempted to act like an authoritarian after taking office?

For me, the answer to that question is one of faith, not in Trump, but in the genius of our constitutional system.  Ever since it became evident that Trump would be the nominee, my thinking about this issue has remained the same:  Trump may try for unconstitutional power grabs, but Congress and the courts can and will block him along the way.

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On Gravity

As Kurt mentions below this is a dark day for America and specifically those who cherish its founding documents and principles and who held out hope that we could one day return to an embrace of these ideals.

Tonight’s GOP debate surely will carry special gravity as perhaps finally we can begin to take the choice the Republicans now have more seriously.

If anything good can come of this tragedy, perhaps it will be an awakening within the party that they alone hold the one chance our Nation has at returning to one of Laws rather than men. This truly is the moment I hope the Republican voters will begin to see the gravity of the choice they will make, and the severe consequences it will have on the future trajectory of our beloved America.

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Taxes: Direct, Indirect, Apportioned

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 1:46 am - October 26, 2015.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues,History

Have you ever tried to read the U.S. Constitution, straight up? I bet your eyes glazed over as soon as you got to Article 1, section 2, clause 3 (which is pretty early in):

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Reinforcing the same idea is Article 1, section 9, clause 4:

No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

What the heck does that mean? I’m re-reading a book which happens to explain it. For historical interest only, I shall explain to you.

A “direct tax” is money that you, the citizen, pay to the government directly. Contrast to an “indirect tax” which is a tax on some product (like alcohol) being manufactured, bought, shipped etc. You pay the tax in the end; but indirectly – because some other party is there as an intermediary: they collect from you, and then the government collects from them.

“Apportioned” means that Congress had to do two things, when it came to the direct tax.

  • Declare the exact amount of money that it wanted to raise (say, $20 million).
  • Declare the amount to come from each State, based on certain rules.

The rules were the “apportionment” part. The amount of money would be apportioned by State population, which would be calculated as: the number of free persons, plus 3/5 the number of slaves (if any).

What was the point of the 3/5 requirement? To make the slave states pay more. Here is a fictitious example. Trigger warning: Maths! and slavery!

Suppose the U.S. had exactly 2 States, Free and Slave. And it needed to raise $180 for the next budget cycle. First, Congress would declare “We need to raise exactly $180. And whiskey taxes aren’t good enough; we want to do a direct tax.”

Now suppose that Free state had 60 citizens (all free of course), and Slave state had 30. So, Free had twice as many. At first blush, Free would have a tax on its citizens where they cough up 2/3 of the money for the feds (which is $120), while Slave state would cough up 1/3 (which is $60).

But let’s say Slave state didn’t only have 30 free citizens; it also had 50 slaves. The 3/5 rule said that Slave state should cough up more.

Applying the 3/5 rule, Slave state had 30 + (3/5 * 50) = (30 + 30) = 60 people for apportionment purposes. So both States had 60 people, for apportionment purposes. So the tax would be apportioned half-and-half. Free state would be designated to cough up $90, and Slave state also $90.

Both states would probably tax their free citizens. So, Slave state would have a higher tax *rate* on its 30 free citizens, to get them coughing up $90. Free state would have a lower rate on its 60 citizens, to get them coughing up $90.

Weird and antiquated, but now you know!

Irwin Schiff, R.I.P.

This past week, we had news that Irwin Schiff passed away on October 16. Schiff was a U.S. veteran, author, heroic income-tax protestor and, sadly, a U.S. political prisoner.

photo of Irwin Schiff
Irwin Schiff, 1928-2015

Big Government advocates will sometimes claim that the U.S. tax system is voluntary. They say it because they want to deny the obvious: that government is force (by its nature, it operates by forcing people against their will) – and that, as advocates of Big Government, they do basically want a dictatorial, regimented society.

I’ve seen lefties making the “voluntary” claim in GP comments. But as a stronger example, here is Democrat leader Harry Reid saying, “Our system of government is a voluntary tax system…We have a voluntary system.” Because, says Reid, if you don’t pay taxes in the U.S., “You don’t go to jail.”

That “voluntary” claim is nonsense, in practice. Some people, such as Eric Garner in 2014, are hounded by the police for selling untaxed cigarettes and then fatally assaulted by the police. Others like Gilbert Hyatt may be hounded by State authorities for decades, although they paid all taxes in full. Others like perceived Tea Party groups may be blocked (silenced) by the IRS for their political beliefs, before they could even have a chance to file tax reports.

And those who refuse to pay income taxes due to their outspoken moral and constitutional principles, such as Irwin Schiff, are jailed – and then forced to die in jail from untreated cancer. So much for the U.S. system being “voluntary”. You can be a conscientious objector to the draft! But not to the federal income tax.

I could try to tell more of Irwin Schiff’s story, but Peter Schiff does it best in his article, Death of a Patriot. Read the whole thing.

And consider downloading and reading Irwin Schiff’s last book, The Federal Mafia: How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes. It’s free.

It’s free because, during Schiff’s lifetime, the government enjoined him from selling it. That makes it a banned book; indeed, it’s supposed to be the only book banned in the U.S. in the last 50 years (other than libel cases).

The book also claims that the U.S. income tax system is voluntary. I must suggest that Mr. Schiff’s own experience shows that, as a practical matter, he was mistaken about that. But he covers the history of the income tax in the U.S. and the IRS’ own use of the word “voluntary”. As such, Schiff may well have been right about the underlying Constitutional principle, or what *should theoretically* be true under the U.S. Constitution (which today’s U.S. government flouts in many ways).

Anyway, the book’s unusual ban, and Schiff’s cruel death in federal prison, should tell you something about our government’s true priorities. Hint: It’s much more to do with protecting the government’s power and jobs, than protecting or serving you.

#Milennials4Fascism

Posted by V the K at 7:55 pm - July 1, 2015.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues

Well, this is depressing.

A new survey conducted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage last Friday found that 19 percent — or one in five Americans — believe that “religious institutions or clergy should be required to perform same-sex marriages.”

More specifically, 26 percent of Americans under the age of 40 believe that churches and clergy should be forced to preside over gay nuptials.

Combined with the Supreme Court’s discovery last week that 4 wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner is valid Constitutional law and our country is ruled by Obama’s intentions and not the plain language of a law, I think we can pretty much stick a fork in the United States as a Constitutional Republic.

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Constitutional This and That

Posted by V the K at 7:51 am - May 20, 2015.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues

Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the leftist Supreme Court Justice who thinks abortion is terrific because it keeps down “populations we don’t want to have too many of” (Gee, what could she mean by that?) – presided over a fancy-schmancy gay wedding between a couple of very, very elite leftist gays, and apparently made it a big deal to invoke the Constitution.

On Sunday afternoon, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, used the occasion of presiding over a same-sex wedding ceremony to cite the Constitution as the source of her power to wed the two men.

The guests, thrilled that Ginsburg invoked the Constitution, clapped with great gusto.

Of course they did. Leftists are nothing if not trained seals conditioned to applaud when their leftist pieties are invoked; John Stewart, David Letterman, Ed Schultz, and Bill Maher make a good living throwing rhetorical fish to the left’s trained seals.

If only Justice Ginsburg had as much concern over gay people’s Constitutional Right to bear arms in self-defense as she does to the imaginary right to get married. But in her view, gays have no right to bear arms, and neither does anyone else.

The word “marriage” appears nowhere in the Constitution. The right to bear arms is right up there at Number 2, and stated most explicitly. But using the magic leftist ability to find things in the Constitution that aren’t there, and deny the existence of things that are there quite explicitly (the 2nd and 10th Amendments, for example), she finds a ‘right’ to gay marriage while denying the right to self-defense.

Personally, I’d be delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons. – Glenn Reynolds.

On a positive note, a Federal Judge has struck down Washington DC’s “You can only exercise your 2nd Amendment Rights if the State decides you have a good reason to” gun control law. These “may issue” laws are set up so that only the politically connected can have access to firearms in self-defense.

Washington DC is the jurisdiction where a man was prosecuted for the possession of a spent and useless shotgun shell; which is what the left calls a “Common Sense Gun Law.”

Snowden watch

As I’ve blogged before, I have mixed feelings about Edward Snowden and his revelations about U.S. government spying on everybody. I understand why some consider him a traitor – because yes, we do need to fight Islamic terrorism.

And I understand why some consider him a hero – because we need to fight Islamic terrorism with appropriate tools; not tools that expand government power to the point where it could easily be used (and perhaps already gets used?) for purposes of tyranny. With that in mind, here are a couple of news items:

  • China drops Apple, Cisco, Intel and other U.S. tech leaders from its “approved state purchase lists”. China’s action may have several motives; but fear of the expansive NSA spying (that Snowden revealed) is surely among them.
  • Snowden gets libertarian, arguing for limited government and the right of the governed (us) to reject excessive government control.

    There must always be a balance of power between the governing and the governed…

    Our rights are not granted by governments…They are inherent to our nature. But it’s entirely the opposite for governments: their privileges are precisely equal to only those which we suffer them to enjoy.

    A viewpoint which all Americans ought to support, considering our origins.

Your thoughts?

While we’re at it: According to The Guardian (a left-wing British paper), Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Police are running their own black site for secret interrogations – and not just for anti-terrorism. True? Exaggerated? From the comments: A Chicago cop says it’s BS.

1000 Words:

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 9:48 pm - December 4, 2014.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues,Obama Arrogance

For your consideration:

Barak Obama-United States-Politics

– Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from The Casa)

Aftermath of Emperor Barack’s immigration move?

First off, we here at GayPatriot are in favor of legal immigrants and controlled, legal immigration from other countries. We simply oppose *illegal* immigration because of the importance of border security in the age of terrorism; and because it’s illegal. The people who have done it began their American journey by consciously breaking America’s laws.

As President Obama unilaterally suspended deportations of certain illegal aliens in 2012, and then last week expanded it to millions more, he has made clear what his priorities are not:

  • Enforcing the law, as passed by previous Congresses and signed by previous Presidents: Not a priority.
  • Defending U.S. borders: Not a priority. (Has Obama seriously tried to improve border security? Of course not.)
  • Following the Constitution: Not a priority.
  • Saving taxpayer money: Not a priority.
  • Being true to his own previous statements and promises: Not a priority. Per link above, “In a Telemundo interview in September 2013, for example, Obama said that if he were to broaden the exception he made in 2012…’then essentially, I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally.'”
  • Racial and/or human sensitivity: Not a priority. Obama publicly reduced the people affected by his order to their supposed roles as people “who pick our fruit and make our beds.” (Guess he never makes his own bed, or cleans his own home? I do.)

Any of the first three points above – and certainly, all of the first three together – are violations of the President’s oath of office and grounds for impeachment. But let’s face it: as V has suggested, impeachment will never happen.

I blame the media because this is what you get, when a biased media covers for an egotistical President relentlessly: Hubris. Lawlessness. Government that is willfully, impeachably unconstitutional. With no accountability.

But speaking of the media, I must give some credit where it’s due. In the past, I’ve often noted that Jay Carney was Obama’s paid liar, and he probably still is, on some level. But even he admits that Obama is “literally” doing what he promised not to do. Also, credit the Washington Post for noticing how Obama’s pretense of innocence happens to be a lie.

So, what do you think Congressional Republicans will do with the illegal-immigration issue, from here? Up to now, GOP leaders have been soft on the issue of border security.

They’ve also been eager to be perceived (in the media, etc.) as pro-Latino. But I’m thinking that Obama just took all of that ground away from them: there is no possible way, now, that GOP leaders can ever be perceived as more pro-illegal immigrant or pro-Latino than Obama.

In that sense, Obama just took away any incentive that GOP leaders would have for compromising with him. I think that will blow up in Obama’s face. And I think he has just proven to the voters that Democrats truly don’t give a hoot about border security.(*)

NB: The first version of this post misquoted Obama slightly; the quote has been corrected.
(*) Again, because of its glaring absence from the Democrats’ real set of concerns.

Something that just occurred to me:

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 8:27 pm - November 15, 2014.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues

Consider that, when needed, the purpose of hiring an excellent trial lawyer isn’t so much to ensure that justice is done as much as it is to ensure that a judge or jury sees things your way and grants you remedy. After all, what you want at the end of the effort is your legal hired gun to know the ins-and-outs of the litigatory milieu and have the moxy and chops to use that knowledge to bring about the desired end (which is to say, your legal victory, not necessarily a smile from Iustitia). You want justice done … as you see it. That’s why you hire a guy who knows how to work the system (the definition of a competent trial lawyer).

Brings us to electing a Constitutional professor and lawyer as president of the United States. What we’re seeing, all these years hence is that a Constitutional scholar and educator isn’t so much the lover of the Constitution itself as he is the smooth operator who knows just how to manipulate it to his (and his constituents’) ends.

Just like a trial lawyer who knows the law enough to make it work for his purposes, but not because he’s a law-ophile, this Constitutional expert knows plenty about his subject… the better to bend it to his wants.

– Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from The Casa)

Views of Edward Snowden

Hillary thinks he’s a traitor. She recently said:

When he emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled because we have all these protections for whistle-blowers. If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been…It’s sort of odd that he would flee…I don’t understand why he couldn’t have been part of the debate here at home. He could have quit, he could have taken whistleblower protection…

But to high school kids, he’s a hero:

[GWU admissions officer] Freitag skimmed the extracurriculars, read the first essay, rated it good. GW also asks students to list a role model and two words to describe themselves. As for herself, Freitag said, she would list “Martha Stewart/Tina Fey” and “sassy/classy.” This year, she’s seeing a lot of Edward Snowden citations.

So whose view is right? Hillary’s, or the schoolkids’?

I must say this much: I don’t believe Hillary for one second when she talks about “whistleblower protections”, like she always honors them. I think that Snowden may have been right to fear for his life (not only his freedom), if should stay in the U.S. and try to play that game. And after seeing the U.S. government grow hideously out-of-control in the last 6-8 years, I would rather know about the NSA spying, than not.

So, on present information, I think it’s possible for Snowden to be both traitor (on foreign payroll?) and hero.

UPDATE: Meant to blog on these items sooner. They speak to the losses of liberty and privacy that we have suffered, in the last few years.

Does Anyone Have a Problem with This?

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Yup.

Tax Day homily

Although this story focuses on California’s abuses, it shows how government gets its revenue in general: arbitrarily and with the power and willingness to ruin people’s lives.

In 1970, a young Southern California electrical engineer and inventor named Gilbert Hyatt filed a patent application for an innovative microprocessor chip…

Twenty years later…the U.S. patent office awarded Hyatt the patent…a multimillion-dollar windfall. He moved to Las Vegas, where he said he was a full-time resident before he received the earnings.

California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB)…decided to seek $7.4 million in back taxes, claiming that he was still a resident of California when the money came in. That sounds like a simple enough dispute that could quickly be resolved, but what followed has been an ordeal that has consumed a good bit of Hyatt’s adult life.

…[for] a sum that now tops $55 million as interest and penalties have accrued…The tax authorities have been pursuing him through its administrative process. Tired of the endless investigations, Hyatt filed suit in Nevada court in 1998. California officials said they weren’t subject to an out-of-state tort lawsuit. California lost that argument in the Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court and the high court decision sent the case back to a Nevada district court, which awarded Hyatt nearly $400 million in damages after finding that the California authorities abused their power and invaded his privacy. That case is on appeal.

Hyatt believes that California officials are purposefully delaying. “Specifically, because of the 20 year delay Hyatt can no longer obtain a fair and full adjudication of whether he owes state taxes to California,” according to his lawsuit. “During this time, material witnesses have passed away, memories of witnesses have faded, and documents relevant and important to Hyatt are no longer available.” The board keeps assessing penalties…He suspects the tax board is waiting for him to die so that it can go after his estate.

Under California law, the Franchise Tax Board has the “presumption of correctness,” meaning that the onus always is on Hyatt to disprove what the tax officials say. And, he argues, they keep changing their stories and their allegations, thus resulting in more years of legal expenses and disputes…

To sum up – When dealing with the tax man in America today, you have:

  • No “innocent until proven guilty”.
  • No real “right to a speedy trial”.
  • Kafka-esque complexity and situations rigged for you to lose.

To anyone who wants to claim that our tax system is “voluntary”, or that government somehow isn’t a gun, or that taxation somehow isn’t a use of force on people (many conscientious tax-objectors are given long jail sentences): You’re just lying.

Meanwhile, Back at the DIABLO/Tea Party Wars

Posted by V the K at 4:01 pm - January 6, 2014.
Filed under: Constitutional Issues

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is suing the Obama Regime for extra-legally exempting Congress and selected Cronies from Obamacare. He has this quaint, outdated idea that everyone should be equal under the law. Which naturally makes him a crazy-eyed extremist according to accusations hurled last September when some ‘Whackobird’ GOP senators tried to get the exemptions removed.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is suing the NSA over their massive collection of metadata from everybody, calling it a violation of Americans Constitutional Protection against unlawful search and seizure. Speaking on behalf of the GOP Establishment, New York DIABLO Congressman of New York responded by saying that Rand Paul was not fit to hold his office.

I suggest Pete King put his money where his mouth is and release all of his cell phone records back to the passage of the Patriot Act to the public; if collection of such data is really completely benign.

The connecting thread of these lawsuits is pushback against the Obama Regime abusing power in a way that would have led to outrage had George W. Bush been found collecting everyone’s cell phone records or exempting Congress and selected cronies from legislation. It’s also striking how comfortable the Rockefeller-Rove wing of the GOP is with this power-grabbing.

Name that theme

Sometimes you’ll be scanning headlines at your favorite locations, and a common element will jump out at you. Consider:

The common element is, of course, the Left’s penchant for dictatorship and thuggery.

Help Brian Aitken

This story has been around for years, but I’m just catching up. Perhaps some of you are, too. It’s a horrifying example of modern-day tyranny. (And, not to plug Chris Christie who is not perfect, but Christie is helpful in it.)

Brian Aitken is a law-abiding citizen who legally bought guns in Colorado, legally transported them to New Jersey when he moved there to be near his young son, never did anything wrong or harmful with them; and was nonetheless arrested on highly questionable grounds, charged with felony possession (an initial charge was non-existent under New Jersey law), convicted under highly questionable jury instructions, and imprisoned under a seven-year sentence.

After he served four months in prison, Gov. Christie commuted his sentence, achieving his release. And the charges have been partially overturned.

But the damage doesn’t stop there. As if to compound the tyranny, a family judge denied Aitken practical access to his son – partly on the convictions, and partly on the supposed grounds that a father who owns firearms (or who might; Aitken actually doesn’t own anymore) is an automatic danger to his family. Never mind that gun ownership is in the Constitution.

This man’s constitutional rights have been severely violated. And when you hear Aitken tell his story, you understand that such things could happen to any responsible parents or gun owners – like, say, gay parents, or gay gun owners.

If you’re inclined, a donation can still help Mr. Aitken to publish his book and continue his legal battle to clear his name. The remaining charge/conviction on him is that he transported ammunition; as Aitken points out, a law that lets you keep a type of ammunition in your home, but not move it when you move your home, is arguably nuts.

Conservatives, gay politics, and lost opportunities

At the time of the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage this summer, it seemed to me that by ruling as it did, the Supreme Court had involuntarily handed many conservatives a great opportunity to move beyond the issue of gay marriage in ways that they hadn’t in the past.  Instead of making it a social or cultural issue, many conservatives could have sidestepped the issue entirely by talking more about economic issues and questions of taxation and state-sponsored benefits instead.

After all, the plaintiff in the case which challenged the Defense of Marriage Act was moved to file suit largely because of the estate taxes she incurred when her partner passed away.  So instead of viewing  it as a social or cultural issue, they could have taken up the cause of greatly reducing estate taxes for all regardless of marital status.

While I’m obviously biased on the issue, it seems to me that running on an anti-gay agenda is not a winning issue for conservatives.  I recognize that social conservatives played a very big role in the Reagan revolution, and I acknowledge that social conservatives are still an important part of the base that the Republican Party needs to keep winning elections.  But I believe that there are ways to accommodate social conservatives without alienating other potential voters.  Talking about court appointments is one way of doing this, because one needn’t be a social conservative to believe that the court should focus more on applying and interpreting the actual intent of the Constitution rather than legislating from the bench.  Likewise, one can have an honest debate about tax policy and whether or not it is in the state’s interest to carve out special exceptions for marriage or whether the state should get out of the marriage business all together and just simplify the tax code instead.

There are some signs that more and more Republican are getting this message.  On September 11 of this year, Politico reported on a survey that showed that more and more Republicans are embracing libertarian views about government.  (Hat Tip: The Blaze.)

FreedomWorks commissioned a national survey of registered voters last month, shared first with POLITICO, that finds 78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

It’s not that Republicans are suddenly self-identifying as “libertarians” and devouring Ayn Rand novels, but more that they seem to be embracing underlying libertarian priorities and views about the role of government.

The Politico piece goes on to quote the Republican pollster who ran the poll saying that more and more voters are disturbed by both the size and the intrusiveness of government in the Obama era:

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who ran the poll, said she’s seeing a spike in voters who feel the government is too expensive, invasive and expansive.

“The perfect storm is being created between the NSA, the IRS, the implementation of Obamacare and now Syria,” she said. “People are looking at the government more suspiciously. They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion.”

It all sounds great so far from my perspective.  I think this is a direction that Republicans need to embrace to be able to win significantly in the future.
And then, there’s the sad case of Virginia.  I first heard of Ken Cuccinelli when he was elected Attorney General of Virginia in 2009, in an election that many viewed as a sign of trouble ahead for the Democrats in 2010.  I knew he had played a large role in fighting Obamacare and in bringing the fight to the Supreme Court, and so it seemed to me that he would have a good chance of being elected Governor of Virginia this year, especially since he is running against corrupt Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe.  Over the summer, though, I kept hearing that Cuccinelli was not doing well against McAuliffe in the polls, and I wondered why that might be.

Congress shouldn’t let Obama Pass the Buck On Syria

When I first heard that President Obama was asking Congress to vote on a resolution authorizing him to act against Syria, I thought he was doing the right thing, but then the more I considered the issue, the weaker I realized the move was. And the more political.

My gut sense is that Obama really doesn’t want to take action against the Syrian regime.

And perhaps he is hoping that this move will further divide Republicans. And a Republican Party at war with itself can’t do a good job taking the fight during in the 2014 election cycle.

And should a coalition of libertarian Republicans, partisans who put bucking Obama ahead of the national interest and dovish Democrats opposed to any flexing of American muscle manage to defeat the (unnecessary) legislative authorization, Obama will blame not his fellow Democratic, but the opposition Republicans for denying him the ability to act.

My advice to Speaker Boehner would be to ask all House Republicans to make statements similar to this one: “I don’t think the president needs our approval to act. (President Bill Clinton didn’t ask for congressional authorization before initiating airstrikes against Yugoslavia on behalf of Kosovo.) But, the president has asked for our permission. We are voting for the resolution to show we recognize his responsibility in the matter; we hope he will act in the best interest of the country.”

This at least would make it more challenging for Obama to blame Republicans. And the explanation would help prevent this from becoming a precedent, potentially hamstringing future presidents.

Obama could have delivered a speech similar to that Secretary Kerry gave.  And with that, authorized our armed forces to attack Syrian airbases.  Or he could have explained why it was not in our national interest to act.  Instead, he has advertised his indecision on the matter.  Never a good strategy for a leader.

ADDENDUM:  A test of Obama’s sincerity on the matter will be how aggressively he lobbies Congress on behalf of this resolution.  If he doesn’t actively lobby legislators to pass the bill, then he shouldn’t blame them for its failure.  (Bear in mind my word choice; “shouldn’t” doesn’t mean “won’t.”)

RELATED:  Shortly after posting this piece, I caught a related editorial in the Washington Times: (more…)