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To many people it seems far-fetched that the right to bear arms that is enshrined in the Second Amendment is intended to empower citizens to protect themselves from tyranny -- but it is. And America has a sad history with tyranny. We're not immune, and we citizens need guns to protect our liberties.
"Do you really think that it could happen here?" remains a favorite refrain of the modern gun-control movement. Alas, the answer should be a resounding "Yes." For most of America's story, an entire class of people was, as a matter of course, enslaved, beaten, lynched, subjected to the most egregious miscarriages of justice, and excluded either explicitly or practically from the body politic. We prefer today to reserve the word "tyranny" for its original target, King George III, or to apply it to foreign despots. But what other characterization can be reasonably applied to the governments that, ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence, enacted and enforced the Fugitive Slave Act? How else can we see the men who crushed Reconstruction? How might we view the recalcitrant American South in the early 20th century? "It" did "happen here." And "it" was achieved -- in part, at least -- because its victims were denied the very right to self-protection that during the Revolution had been recognized as the unalienable prerogative of "all men."
When, in 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney buttoned his Dred Scott v. Sandford opinion with the panicked warning that if free blacks were permitted to become American citizens they might begin "to keep and carry arms wherever they went," he was signaling his support for a disgraceful status quo within which suppression of the right to bear arms was depressingly quotidian. Indeed, until the late 1970s, the history of American gun control was largely inextricable from the history of American racism. Long before Louisiana was a glint in Thomas Jefferson's eye, the French "Black Codes" mandated that any black person found with a "potential weapon" be not only deprived of that weapon but also beaten for his audacity. British colonies, both slaveholding and free, tended to restrict gun ownership to whites, with even the settlements at Massachusetts and Plymouth prohibiting Indians from purchasing or owning firearms. Throughout the South, blacks were denied weapons. The intention of these rules was clear: to remove the means by which undesirables might rebel or resist, and to ensure that the majority maintained its prerogatives. In 1834, alarmed by Nat Turner's rebellion in Virginia, Tennessee amended its state constitution to make this purpose unambiguous, clarifying that the "right to keep and to bear arms" applied not to "the freemen of this State" -- as the 1794 version of the document had allowed -- but to "the free white men of this State."
So says Speaker Paul Ryan, explicitly ruling himself out as an option for the Republicans. However, don't miss the subtext: the Democrats are stuck with Hillary and Bernie.
"I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee -- to be the president -- you should actually run for it," said Mr. Ryan, who will be the convention chairman. "I chose not to. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period. I just think it would be wrong to go any other way."
Ryan is proficient at political brinksmanship, and perhaps he has concluded that the country (and party) is most likely to prosper if both Republicans and Democrats are saddled with their current candidates. If he accepted the nomination -- or even flirted with it seriously -- he would open the door for Joe Biden or another Democrat to swoop in and save the Democrats from Hillary or Bernie.
So writes David Lightman about the rubes in St. Louis.
Clinton was paid $675,000 for three Goldman Sachs speeches behind closed doors in the years after she left her job as secretary of state in 2013. She demanded transcripts be kept, and so far refuses to release them publicly.
Andrew Williams, Goldman Sachs spokesman, explained, "Clinton spoke at conferences that we hosted for clients. We host literally hundreds of conferences around the world and continually search for fascinating speakers." Such speeches are commonplace, he said, and singling out Clinton's talk is "misleading."
I think most people can "fathom" why the Clintons get paid more than the value of an average American house for a 30-minute speech: it's a bribe. It's buying the favor of some of the most powerful people in the world. That isn't hard to understand.
(HT: Ed Driscoll.)
It's hard to think of a stronger endorsement for Trump than the numerous Wall Streeters who don't like him.
"I can't find connective tissue between the financial sector and Trump," said one senior industry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being seen publicly questioning Trump. ...
"Wall Street works in close collaboration between policymakers and markets, and Trump is a disrupter," said Peter Kenny, a 20-year Wall Street veteran. "Just because he's a billionaire does not mean that he is part of the team."
What's more, the short snippet about Trump's relationship with Deutsche Bank strikes me as complimentary.
Trump had personally guaranteed $40 million of Deutsche's $640 million construction loan for the project. When a payment came due in November 2008, the billionaire asked for an extension. Deutsche refused, and Trump sued for $3 billion, condemning the bank's "predatory lending practices."
Deutsche countersued and did not hold back in asking that Trump's suit be thrown out. "Trump is no stranger to an overdue debt," the company said in one filing. "This suit is classic Trump."
Trump and Deutsche Bank, which declined to comment for this article, finally reached an agreement in August 2010 that extended the loan for five years. It has since been paid off.
Eventually both sides patched things up. Trump and his daughter Ivanka are building a $200 million luxury hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion in the District. Trump has said he is investing $42 million of his own money into the project.
There is just one loan: $170 million from Deutsche Bank.
I wonder if Trump will be able to mend fences with the Republican elites and general voters who don't like him now?
I agree with law professor Glenn Reynolds: it's bad that American is entirely dominated by lawyers. Put some non-lawyers on the Supreme Court.
But law is supposed to govern everyone's actions, and everyone is supposed to understand it. ("Ignorance of the law," as we are often told, "is no excuse.") But when the Supreme Court is composed of narrowly specialized former judges from elite schools, the likelihood that the law will be comprehensible to ordinary people and non-lawyers seems pretty small. (In addition, a recent book by my University of Tennessee colleague Ben Barton makes a pretty strong case that lawyer-judges systematically favor the sort of legal complexity that, shockingly, makes lawyers rich. He, too, recommends non-lawyer judges, which, as he notes, are common in other nations and were common in colonial America.)
The Supreme Court is one-third of the federal government, and the other two branches, Congress and the presidency, are already dominated by lawyers. But there are hundreds of millions of Americans who aren't lawyers, and surely some of them are smart enough to decide important questions, given that the Constitution and laws are aimed at all of us. Shouldn't we open the court up to a little diversity?
Michael Barone continues, "I suspected that Southern blacks tend to be more socially connected, especially through churches, than Northern blacks."
I thought of all these things, too! And so many more things. Smart things. So many smart things that I don't have time to write them all down! But when I see someone else come along behind me and write down something that I've already thought of, it prompts me to point out to everyone that I had that thought first. Just for the sake of historical accuracy.
The Republican elites are making plans to prevent the nomination of Donald Trump. Unfortunately, they completely misdiagnose the illness in the party.
Other governors voiced exasperation not only at the prospect of a Trump nomination but also at the political culture that gave rise to his candidacy.
"We've got this Enquirer magazine mentality," Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah said in an interview. "We are subject to this reality-TV voyeurism that is taking place. Fast-food headlines, no substance, all flash. The Twitter atmosphere out there, snarky comments on email, Snapchat. Everything is superficial. . . . We've got to wake up, America."
To these governors, the problem is the voters, the media, the culture... never themselves. It's impossible for them to recognize that Trump's rise was fueled by the persistent refusal of the Republican elite to listen to the will of the members of their party. This willful blindness is why Trump is running so strong.
Kurt Schlichter writes that Republican elites have no one but themselves to blame for Trump's rise.
Think of this as, in large part, the struggle between the haves and have nots of globalization. Amnesty was a great idea for bubble people who think illegal immigration satisfies some sort of libertarian ideal, or who only experience its impact by being able to hire a cheaper nanny. It's a pretty great idea for the illegals too. But leave your nice neighborhood and go where a high school grad who was born here can't get a job as a roofer since any general contractor who doesn't hire illegals is going to go broke because his competition will. Tell somebody whose daughter is shot dead in front of him by an illegal who got arrested five times but never got deported that it's an act of love.
If we had built the damn wall we promised our base back then, we probably wouldn't have that damn Trump now.
Free trade is great, in a macro sense. It sure helps enrich the donor class. But go tell the guy who lost his $25 an hour job because NAFTA let Carrier move its air conditioning plant to Mexico about Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose." What's he free to choose? Long-term unemployment? Making a fake Social Security disability claim? Or taking a job greeting at Wal-Mart for $8 an hour?
Immigration and free trade are generally good, but they impose real costs and our base is getting handed the bill. These folks have been asking us for help, and what was our response? Shut up, stupid racists. Well, they finally found someone who is taking their side. His name is Donald Trump, and we made him possible. Hell, we made him inevitable.
Seems right to me.
Allahpundit writes that thanks to early voting, Cruz has no chance to win Florida, making it a likely win for Trump no matter what Rubio does.
You can see what sort of dynamic is shaping up here and why Trump stands to benefit most from it. A private poll taken yesterday of Florida had the race Trump 35, Rubio 30, Cruz 16. It seems safe to assume, after last night's results, that some Rubio voters will conclude that Cruz is the only game in town now if you want to beat Trump. Their votes will shift -- but others will stay put due to Rubio's stronger-than-usual support in his own backyard. And don't forget: Thanks to early voting, many votes in Florida have already been banked for Rubio (and for Trump, of course). Even if his fans choose to desert him and vote strategically for Cruz, there may be five or six percent already on the books that are committed to Rubio and can't be changed. What's shaping up here, in other words, is a dynamic where Cruz wins a bigger share of the vote in Florida than everyone expects but not so much that he manages to consolidate all of Rubio's support, especially once you factor early voting in, thus producing ... a narrow Trump victory, possibly along the lines of Trump 37, Rubio 29, Cruz 25. In a state that awards its delegates proportionally, that would be no big deal. Trump would finish with an extra 10 delegates or whatever. But Florida is winner-take-all; if the vote goes the way I'm imagining, with conservatives stalemated between Cruz and Rubio, Trump gets 99 delegates for his trouble. That alone is eight percent of the total he needs to clinch the nomination. It'd be a disaster for anti-Trumpers.
Scott Adams makes a strong point: if you're losing, you need to take chances if you want to win. You can afford to play it safe when you're in the lead.
Do you want more risk?
Generally speaking, you want to avoid risk when things are going well and accept risk when things are totally broken. If you think the country is doing well, and will continue to do so, Hillary Clinton is an excellent choice on the left, as is Marco Rubio on the right. They will keep things mostly the same.
But if you think government is rigged against your interests, and unlikely to improve on its own, you want a bloodless revolution. And the candidate you hire for the revolution is likely to have rough edges.
Still, I think I prefer Tex Cruz, the less erratic antiestablishmentarian. I disavow all of Trump's racist, xenophobic, crazy remarks.
Barring indictment for Hillary or shenanigans at the Republican convention, it looks like 2016 will be Trump vs. Hillary.
Trump isn't my favorite, but I'm not panicking about his nomination. I'm pretty tired of the Republican elites who have squandered the past 16 years. Let's shake things up! Trump: safer than a civil war or Constitutional convention.
Said Donald Trump as he concluded his victory speech last night in Nevada. That's exactly the sentiment that many voters want to hear. Trump isn't my first choice for the nomination, but I have to admit, his nationalism gets my blood pumping. I don't think he's really conservative -- most recently I've condemned his lack of support for strong encryption -- and I'm anxious about the policies he'll actually enact when he's president.
Wait, did I just write "when"? I guess I did. Yeah, I think it's pretty likely at this point. Of course, I didn't think America could possibly re-elect Obama after his disastrous first term, so my record of predictions is pretty bad. It's more a gut thing than a prediction: Trump will destroy Hillary, just like he dominated the Republican nomination process.
Even though I am skeptical about Trump's conservatism, this is the best kind of civil war for America to have: a political war. With the level of discontent and disconnect between the elites and the average citizen, the election of Donald Trump might cause enough institutional destruction to force our government to come back into alignment with us. Much preferable to a shooting war.
I'm disappointed (but not surprised) to learn that Donald Trump has condemned Apple for refusing to cripple its encryption system for the benefit of law enforcement.
Donald Trump slammed Apple on Wednesday for its refusal to cooperate with federal authorities in the investigation of one of the iPhones of the San Bernardino shooters.
"I agree 100 percent with the courts. In that case, we should open it up," the Republican presidential candidate told "Fox & Friends," referring to a court order demanding the California-based tech company create a way for federal investigators to break into the iPhone of one of the perpetrators of the Dec. 2 terrorist attack. "I think security, overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense," Trump continued, echoing his recent common refrain. "Somebody the other day called me a common-sense conservative. We have to use common sense."
It's hard to imagine what can be learned from the iPhone in question that can't be otherwise discovered. The perpetrators are known, and dead. Their family, friends, and associates can be tracked down by a variety of methods. It feels to me that the terrible attack in San Bernadino is being used as a convenient "crisis" to justify a power grab by the government. It's difficult to balance freedom and security, but in this specific case it doesn't look to me like a difficult decision at all.
It's not good when Democrats don't trust their "inevitable" nominee.
That point is driven home hard in the exit poll following Clinton's 22-point drubbing at the hands of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. More than one in three (34 percent) of all New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said that honesty was the most important trait in their decision on which candidate to support. Of that bloc, Sanders won 92 percent of their votes as compared to just 6 percent for Clinton.
Maybe the other 6% didn't understand the question.
People don't trust Hillary because she lies a lot. Sure, Republicans have amplified the issue, but the root of the mistrust is Hillary herself.
But politics isn't about dealing with the world as you would like it to be. It's about dealing with the world as it is. And as New Hampshire made clear, there is a strain of concern/distrust within the Democratic base when it comes to Hillary Clinton. She needs to first acknowledge that it's a real feeling as opposed to simply a Republican talking point. Then she has to figure out a way to begin changing that perception -- A major speech directly taking the idea on? A series of ads that show her being as good as her word? -- in the minds of Democratic primary and caucus voters.
How could Hillary possibly reverse a decades-old perception that she's dishonest? I don't see how a speech or some ads would do it. In real life, as opposed to politics, the way you rebuild trust is to first come clean: admit that you lied. Then you can clean the slate by individually confessing to all the deceptions, apologizing, and promising not to lie anymore. But of course that's impossible for a politician. Hillary can't take the first step and admit she lied, or her career would be over.
Megan McArdle, who I really like, says that Trump voters (and other angry Americans) should face reality: nothing in Washington can be changed. Very cynical of her, or as she says, "realistic". Yes, the federal bureaucracy has a huge amount of inertia, but McArdle neglects to mention a few things that a President has significant control over.
Washingtonians, unlike the people making the demands, actually have to analyze the feasibility of these various sorts of requests. When they do, they quickly see that they are impossible, and set about finding innovative ways to ignore them. The insiders who need to get elected nonetheless say, "Yup, I'll get right on that," and then ignore them.
This makes people think that Washingtonians don't care about them. This is false. Washingtonians do care. It's just that they seem to have misplaced their magic wand.
The second problem has to do with Item No. 4: Everything you do in Washington is a compromise. There are a lot of people in the country, and most of them don't care about what you want. To get money spent or unspent, taxes raised or lowered, you have to give those people something they do want. The result is an ugly mess with little resemblance to the original plan.
Don't like it? Welcome to representative democracy. If you have a plan to deal with this problem that doesn't involve fantasizing about the sudden (but nonviolent) disappearance of more than half your fellow citizens, we're all ears. Otherwise, this is what we're stuck with.
But the next president will be able to do lots of things that will have a huge effects:
- Appoint judges
- Appoint various commissioners
- Negotiate treaties and trade agreements
- Direct the military
- Issue (and negate) executive orders
- Set law enforcement priorities for the Department of Justice
- Use federal funding to pull strings on state and local governments
- Sign and veto laws
Iowa caucus results make the Republican primary a three-man race.
Talk of Donald Trump's unstoppable momentum is over. As the race for the Republican nomination speeds into New Hampshire today, the campaign has morphed into a three-man contest.
Ted Cruz won Iowa in such a decisive manner that the Republican National Committeewoman for New Hampshire went so far as to call Trump the "underdog now" while another GOP operative said more donors are suddenly eager to fund an ad campaign against the New York billionaire.
I like Rubio, but I'm apprehensive of his lack of executive experience (see: Obama). I don't much like Trump, but I admire his executive experience. I like a lot of what Cruz says, but could he run the country?
Ezra Klein analyzes the interview styles of Trump and Rubio and concludes:
One reason Trump is ahead in the polls is that he's simply better at this than his opponents are -- he talks directly to the electorates' id, while his establishment-lane challengers keep trying to win over Washington's superego.
(HT: Scott Adams, who should get royalties from Vox.)
Ann Althouse (with Glenn Loury) wonder whether there's an imminent preference cascade in favor of Donald Trump among "smart, educated people".
"It troubles me that there can't be a serious discussion about immigration issues because people are afraid of being called racist. People are afraid of being called a bigot. And I think one of the things that people like about Donald Trump -- those who like him -- is that he's going ahead and saying it, and it's creating a kind of inoculation against something people have feared so much, which is being called a bigot. It's just too effective to call people bigots, and a lot of people are very intimidated and silenced and don't even want to talk about certain issues because they don't want to be called that. So I think part of his popularity is: He goes there, he says it, he takes the hit, and it still works for him. So that's a kind of a liberating change in the discourse."
If there's a preference cascade, don't forget that Scott Adams predicted it in August!
Marco Rubio is questioned by an atheist on the influence his faith will have on his potential presidency. I'm super-impressed.
WaPo has posted detailed "will this matter?" article about the numerous allegations of sexual abuse that have been made against Bill Clinton, and how the allegations might derail Hillary's campaign. The article covers several of his accusers:
- Broaddrick had accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978, when she was working on his Arkansas gubernatorial campaign.
- Willey, a former White House volunteer, said he had attempted to kiss and grope her in a private hallway leading to the Oval Office.
- Jones, a onetime Arkansas state employee, sued Clinton in 1994 for sexual harassment, saying he had three years earlier exposed his erect penis to her and asked her to kiss it.
And, of course, the biggest of all was the scandal over Clinton's extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky, who was a White House intern at the time. Diane Blair, a close friend of Hillary Clinton, wrote in her journal unearthed in 2014 that the then-first lady had privately called Lewinsky a "narcissistic loony toon."
But the authors neglect to mention what might be the most damaging scandal: Bill Clinton's close friendship with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
A new lawsuit has revealed the extent of former President Clinton's friendship with a fundraiser who was later jailed for having sex with an underage prostitute.
Bill Clinton's relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who served time in 2008 for his illegal sexual partners, included up multiple trips to the onetime billionaire's private island in the Caribbean where underage girls were allegedly kept as sex slaves. ...
Tales of orgies and young girls being shipped to the island, called Little St. James, have been revealed as part of an ongoing lawsuit between Epstein and his former lawyers Scott Rothstein and Bradley Edwards.
It is unclear what the basis of the suit is, but they go on to call witness testimony from some of the frequent guests at Epstein's island to talk about the wild parties that were held there in the early 2000s.
Flight logs pinpoint Clinton's trips on Epstein's jet between the years 2002 and 2005, while he was working on his philanthropic post-presidential career and while his wife Hillary was a Senator for their adopted state of New York.
'I remember asking Jeffrey what's Bill Clinton doing here kind [of] thing, and he laughed it off and said well he owes me a favor,' one unidentified woman said in the lawsuit, which was filed in Palm Beach Circuit Court.
The woman went on to say how orgies were a regular occurrence and she recalled two young girls from New York who were always seen around the five-house compound but their personal backstories were never revealed.
I'm sure there are more details waiting to be revealed.