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Glenn Reynolds writes that Trump should bust the big tech monopolies and I certainly agree.

Roosevelt built a strong reputation by going after the trusts, huge combinations that placed control of entire industries in the hands of one or a few men. He broke up John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil, the Google of its day. He shut down J.P. Morgan's Northern Securities Co., which would have monopolized rail transportation in much of the United States. And he pursued numerous other cases (45 in all) that broke up monopolies and returned competition to markets.

Roosevelt operated against a Gilded Age background in which a few companies had, by means both fair and foul, eliminated virtually all competition. This was bad for consumers, as it drove prices up. It was also, surprisingly, bad for shareholders: Wu notes that Standard Oil's value actually increased post-breakup, as it went from inefficient monopoly to a collection of competitive companies. Most of all, it was bad for American society.

Big monopolies aren't just an economic threat: They're a political threat. Because they're largely free of market constraints, they don't have to put all their energy into making a better product for less money. Instead, they put a lot of their energy into political manipulation to protect their monopoly.

Even though these tech companies tend to lean far to the political left, both leftists and rightists should be able to agree that we'd all be better off if these behemoths were broken up. Given the populist surge in America right now it's hard to imagine our next President, whether from the left or right, will be an elitist technocrat in the mold of Obama or Bush. These monopolies are living on borrowed time.


Being loyal to your friends, family, God, and country is a generally seen as an admirable trait, in stark contrast to the traitor who turns against people who put their trust in him. But Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker isn't appropriately loyal to the president who appointed him, he's a no-good Trump loyalist!

The main complaint lodged against the acting attorney general is that Whitaker is a Trump loyalist: During his tenure as Sessions' chief of staff, Whitaker reportedly served as a "balm" between the Justice Department and the president, acting as the president's "eyes and ears" within what Trump viewed "an enemy institution."

Consider former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch -- were they loyal, or loyalists? It's hard to imagine either of them allowing a special counsel to investigate Obama or Hillary under any circumstances. Would we prefer unelected, nearly unaccountable appointees to govern us according to their own will, rather than the Will of the People as embodied in their elected President? President Trump has already had to waste two years bending the bureaucracy to the will of the electorate, and the DOJ has been among the most intransigent.

The proof came early: Within two weeks of Trump's inauguration, acting attorney general and Obama administration holdover Sally Yates directed Justice attorneys not to defend the president's travel ban, forcing Trump to fire her. Since then, congressional investigations, Freedom of Information Act requests and dedicated work by Sessions have exposed additional efforts by Justice and FBI career employees to undermine the president. And yet even after nearly two years of cleaning house, just two months ago a supposedly senior official in the Trump administration claimed anonymously in the New York Times that "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda."

While Trump's opponents may cheer such insubordination, our country suffers when unelected and unknown bureaucrats seek to thwart the agenda of the man freely chosen by voters to serve as our president. Whitaker's fidelity to Trump may be striking in contrast to the status quo in the D.C. swamp, but it is most assuredly not a stain on the acting attorney general's credentials or character.

It's not too much to expect loyalty from your subordinates; if you can't be loyal in good conscience, then you should resign. You'll have another chance to make your case to the American people in the next election.


Monica Showalter argues that Obama's campaigning was ineffective because many of the candidates he worked for lost, but I think that's the wrong way to look at it.

That said, the big loser who stands out here is hard-campaigning President Obama, the guy who thought he was the star of the Democratic Party and who, throwing the tradition of former presidents staying aloof from politics out the window, campaigned hard, long, and loud, for Democrats in this midterm. Turns out the ones he fought the hardest for lost.

Now he stands exposed as politically irrelevant, powerless, an embarrassment. Sorry 'bout that legacy thing, Barry-O.

Some of the Democrats campaigned for were in very tough races. If Obama wanted to maximize his "win rate", he would have stuck to the easy races.

But then there were the midterm campaigns that weren't gimmes, some very high profile, and high media-exposure ones: Joe Donnelly of Indiana for Senate. Bill Nelson of Florida for Senate. Andrew Gillum of Florida for governor. Stacey Abrams of Georgia for governor.

Those were the ones Obama went hoarse campaigning for, yelling and waving his arms, voice cracking, speeches described as fiery, telling voters to vote for these guys or die. With Gillum in particular, racial appeals were a factor and Obama's presence was supposed to help. Gillum had a big media buildup about being a first black governor of Florida as an argument to draw votes, and he later cried racism to fend off corruption allegations. Adding Obama to campaign was obviously part of the appeal. This time, the race-politics identity card simply failed.

And Obama? What did he get? Zilch. Zip. Zero. Nada. The voters rather noticibly rejected the ex-president's appeal for votes. Been there, done that.

The listed candidates faced an uphill battle, and many of the races were very close. I'd say that the Republican victories reflect voter preference for Republican policies, not a failure on the part of Barack Obama.


It's natural to expect big results when "your team" controls the levers of power in Washington D.C., but as Republicans have noticed over the past two years you're likely to be disappointed. President Trump has had some major victories in the first half of his first term, but few legislative accomplishments. But maybe Congressional inaction is the best that Americans can hope for these days, and that's exactly what last night's election results are set to deliver.

The idea that gridlock is good is based on the notion that most of what Congress does is probably bad, and that when Congress can't do much we're better off. As Bill Kort wrote in 2017, "Gridlock is good because when Congress is tied up in knots they can't do anything to hurt us. This idea has been verified by the market many times over the past 25 years."

It would be nice for our government to return to "normal", with both parties finding a sliver of common ground to make positive change (haha), but I find it hard to imagine that the Democrats are going to want to work with Trump, and Trump is going to bang them like a drum as he campaigns for re-election over the next two years. If there's another Supreme Court vacancy, the Democrats will be apoplectic.

So my prediction is that nothing much gets done, and that's probably just fine.


Whenever a confrontation goes in Trump's favor everyone talks about how lucky he is. But... what if he's just better at politics than his opponents?

One can only assume that in the Kavanaugh home, there's a horseshoe over every door, a rabbit's foot in every pocket and a lawn entirely planted with four-leaf clover. There were half a dozen times during Brett M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination battle when most experts were certain he'd have to be withdrawn. Republicans already faced a likely Democratic wave in the midterms, and standing by Kavanaugh would all but concede not only the House but also possibly the Senate.

Yet somehow he was confirmed. And his party's luck is even more astonishing. Far from turning the Blue Wave into an Indigo Tsunami, the Kavanaugh fight seems to have produced a Red Undertow. As of this writing, that backwash looks strong enough to check Democratic advances in the Senate and maybe even gain a couple of seats. If Republicans are very lucky, they might even retain control of the House.

A few months ago Dov Fischer wrote "Everyone is Smart Except Trump". Trump's opponents would do themselves a favor if they took Trump more seriously.

It really is quite simple. Everyone is smart except Donald J. Trump. That's why they all are billionaires and all got elected President. Only Trump does not know what he is doing. Only Trump does not know how to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. Anderson Cooper knows how to stand up to Putin. The whole crowd at MSNBC does. All the journalists do.

They could not stand up to Matt Lauer at NBC. They could not stand up to Charlie Rose at CBS. They could not stand up to Mark Halperin at NBC. Nor up to Leon Wieseltier at the New Republic, nor Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, nor Michael Oreskes at NPR, at the New York Times, or at the Associated Press. But -- oh, wow! -- can they ever stand up to Putin! Only Trump is incapable of negotiating with the Russian tyrant.

Remember the four years when Anderson Cooper was President of the United States? And before that -- when the entire Washington Post editorial staff jointly were elected to be President? Remember? Neither do I.


Project Veritas is performing a public service by giving politicians and their staffers an opportunity to reveal their true political beliefs. Veritas is a rightist group that is targeting leftist politicians, and what they've uncovered about Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Tennessee Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is enlightening.

Here's McCaskill speaking with the undercover journalist:

Senator McCaskill revealed her intention to vote on various gun control measures in undercover footage:
MCCASKILL: "Well if we elect enough Democrats we'll get some gun safety stuff done. They won't let us vote on it, we've got 60 votes for a number of measures that would help with gun safety, but McConnell won't let 'em come to the floor."

JOURNALIST: "Like bump stocks, ARs and high capacity mags...?"

MCCASKILL: "Universal background checks, all of that... But if we have the kind of year I think we might have I think we could actually be in a position to get votes on this stuff on the floor and we'd get 60 [votes]..."

JOURNALIST: "So you would be on board with the bump stocks and... high capacity mags."

MCCASKILL: "Of course! Of course!"

And here are some Bredesen staffers who claim to know the candidate's true position on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Maria Amalla and Will Stewart, staffers in Bredesen's campaign, both say on hidden camera that if he were in the Senate, Bredesen would not actually have voted to confirm then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh. They explained that the statement Bredesen issued in support of Kavanaugh was a political ploy to gain the support of moderate voters in Tennessee.
JOURNALIST: "Like he wouldn't really vote yes [for Kavanaugh,] would he?

AMALLA: "No, it's a political move... He thinks that like we're down like half a point right now. It's like really close and we're losing by a point or two. So he thinks that if like by saying this he's appealing to more moderate republicans and he'll get more of them to vote for us."

JOURNALIST: "I was so confused because I just can't believe he would actually vote [for Kavanaugh.]

STEWART: "He wouldn't. But he's saying he would... Which I don't know if it makes it worse or better. No, it makes it better... "

[snip]

JOURNALIST: "So he'll lose voters if he says yes [to not confirming Kavanaugh?]"

STEWART: "Oh, straight up, yeah."

JOURNALIST: "Are the people of Tennessee that ignorant?"

STEWART: "Yeah."

This is all valuable information for voters, especially with public trust in our politicians at a record high!

Unfortunately Project Veritas only targets leftist politicians. It would be valuable if a similar group were to stage undercover interviews with rightist politicians.


Dahlia Lithwick's angst-ridden lament for the Kavanaugh-confirmed Supreme Court is a fantastic illustration of how Leftists view themselves as neutral centrists.

Constitutional law professors have been wondering aloud how they can neutrally teach case law after signing a letter opposing Kavanaugh's elevation (over 2,400 professors nationwide did so). Some say they believe the court has now been irredeemably politicised.

As if the professors could have taught in a non-political manner if they had kept their anti-Kavanaugh bias secret? The court hasn't just now been politicised, it has been politicised at least since Bork was Borked by Ted Kennedy.

Whether Roberts proves to be a fifth vote to strike down protections for abortion, affirmative action, and to curb voting rights with the stroke of a pen, or merely to check these rights in small but certain steps, those rights will be limited. He will be the fifth vote to shrink the authority of regulatory agencies; the fifth vote to protect business over workers' rights; the fifth vote to chip away at gun regulations; and, the fifth vote to allow religious dissenters to opt out of civil rights and public accommodation laws. We don't know how or when this will happen, but happen it will.

Lithwick casts these issues in a way that portrays the Leftist preference as "neutral" and the shift she predicts as an aberration. A conservative can play the same game.

  • "strike down protections for abortion" becomes "uphold protections for the unborn"
  • "strike down protections for affirmative action" becomes "enforce equal laws equally without regard for race"
  • "curb voting rights" becomes "prevent voter fraud"
  • "shrink the authority of regulatory agencies" becomes "limit the federal government to its Constitutionally defined role"
  • "chip away at gun regulations" becomes "protect Americans' natural right to self-defense, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment"
  • "allow religious dissenters to opt out of civil rights and public accommodation laws" becomes "protect Americans' natural right to religious freedom, as guaranteed by the First Amendment"

The Leftist preference isn't the natural, "neutral", "centrist" order of the world.

This president--who lost the popular vote--has now seated two Supreme Court justices. Four sitting justices have been confirmed by Republican senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against confirming them. A minority-majority president and a minority-majority Senate have remade the court in their own image, and completed that process by installing a singularly divisive nominee.

In August (before the Kavanaugh agony) Michael Barone encouraged Democrats to play by the rules rather than denouncing them, and his stats undermine Lithwick's complaint.

The Democrats argue that they've been winning more votes but don't control the federal government. They've won a plurality of the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, but have elected presidents in only four of them. That darned Electoral College-- "land," as one liberal commentator puts it -- gave the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.

Of course, the Gore and Clinton campaigns knew that the winner is determined by electoral votes, not popular votes. But that hasn't stopped many Democrats from calling for changing the rules to election by popular vote.

Or from complaining about the composition of the Senate. A majority of senators, writes ace election analyst David Wasserman, represent only 18 percent of the nation's population. That's because under the Constitution, each state elects two senators, and a majority of Americans today live in just nine states.

It's suggested that the framers didn't expect population to be so heavily concentrated in a few states. Actually, it was similarly concentrated in big states 50, 100, 150 and 200 years ago. And when the framers met in 1787, small states demanded equal Senate representation precisely from fear that the big states would dominate them.

Moreover, small states today aren't uniformly Republican. Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware and Hawaii currently send two Democrats to the Senate. Maine, North Dakota, and Montana each send one. The 12 smallest states are represented by 13 Democratic senators and 11 Republicans.

The real problem for Leftists is that their current ideology doesn't have broad appeal, unlike in the days of President #MeToo Clinton.

A party which wants to win more elections might take note of that and look to broaden its support base, rather than plead for impossible constitutional changes and fiddle with fixes that might produce unanticipated negative consequences.

Once upon a time, Bill Clinton showed Democrats how. He won the presidency, from which his party had been shut out for 20 of 24 years, by adapting its platform to appeal to additional voters. In 1996, he won 174 electoral votes in states that his wife was to lose 20 years later.

Bill Clinton carried California twice by the solid margin of 13 points. In 2016 she carried it by 30. But she built up that margin by taking stands that antagonized "deplorables" in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, and the rest is history.

Back to Lithwick, who completely fails to notice judicial gaslighting by the Left. The Left works itself up into a tizzy, and then uses that tizzy to claim that the Right's preferences aren't legitimate.

But the court will not have so long to recover its standing as a neutral oracle: cases testing the boundaries of Trump's executive authority, his treatment of immigrants and refugees, and possibly, someday even the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling will soon pile up on its doorstep. There cannot, for long, be any hiding from the front pages, or from making highly-charged calls.

Attention spans can be short. After the Kavanaugh debacle, however, the Court could find more citizens than ever suspect its practice is directed by partisan convenience, not by law.

Translation: when the SCOTUS rules in favor of the Left, it is "neutral"; when it rules in favor of the Right, it is "partisan".

As Glenn Reynolds has pointed out, the Left should be thankful that the Right doesn't advocate for a "living Constitution" approach to the judiciary.


I guess everyone thinks that the sexual assault allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are bogus, which is why we're talking about his "judicial temperament" and alcohol consumption. Writes Orrin Hatch:

That Judge Kavanaugh had the temerity to defend himself vigorously is now being counted as a strike against him. Over and over we hear him described as "angry," "belligerent" or "partisan," followed by the claim that his conduct at the hearing shows that he lacks a judicial temperament. Even "Saturday Night Live" got in on the action.

You've got to be kidding me. Do the people making this argument really expect a man who until five seconds ago had an unblemished reputation to sit passively while his reputation is viciously and permanently destroyed? While he is accused of the most horrific and obscene acts imaginable? Judge Kavanaugh's critics seem to be aghast that he is a human being who is unwilling to take slander lying down.

But he drinks alcohol?

Countless articles have been written about how Judge Kavanaugh "lied" about his high-school and college drinking at the hearing, thereby calling into question his honesty. These articles claim the judge portrayed himself as a "choirboy" who, in the words of the New York Times, enjoyed "a beer or two as a high school and college student." Then they hit back with quotes from college acquaintances who say they saw the judge drink quite a lot.

This is known in the business as a straw man. Judge Kavanaugh never claimed he always drank in moderation. To the contrary, he admitted, "Sometimes I had too many beers."

It's weird to me that the Left is going all-in on teetotaling and the Mike Pence / Billy Graham rule. I think this is quite sensible, but I'm surprised that the Puritans have somehow managed to win the culture war.


Andrew McCarthy is obviously right about what Senate Republicans should have done to advance Kavanaugh, but the simple fact is that they didn't have the majority required to do it.

So, finally, we get to a committee vote over two weeks after it should have happened; after reopening a hearing that involved 31 hours of testimony from the nominee; after 65 meetings with senators and followed by over 1,200 answers to post-hearing questions, more than the combined number of post-hearing questions in the history of Supreme Court nominations. We finally get Kavanaugh's nomination voted out of committee. And then, as a final floor vote is about to be scheduled and debated, Republicans -- taking their lead from the ineffable Jeff Flake -- agree to accede to one more Democratic request (really, just one more, cross-our-hearts . . .). And what would that be?

What else? Another week of delay.

The rationale for this delay is priceless: We need an FBI investigation. It is understandable that the public does not realize how specious this demand is. But who would have thought Senate Republicans were in need of a civics lesson?

Unfortunately for the Republicans, they've only got 51 Senators. I'm sure Senate leadership was aware of and would have preferred McCarthy's approach, but that approach wasn't possible without unanimous approval from the Republicans' marginal senators, like Flake. If Republicans had a stronger majority, Kavanaugh would be seated already.

The seeds for this ongoing debacle were planted years ago when Republican Senate candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, Ken Buck, and Sharron Angle failed to win races that were well within Republican grasp.


Dianne Feinstein doesn't believe Ford's accusations against Kavanaugh.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California conceded Tuesday that she can't attest to the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

"[Ford] is a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted. On this . . . I can't say that everything is truthful. I don't know," Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked if she believed the allegation.

That's fair -- no one seems to know what actually happened 35 years ago, including Ford.

Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University biostatistician and professor of psychology, is a Democrat -- a Bernie Sanders contributor and an anti-Trump activist. Some 36 years ago, when she was 15, she says the 17-year-old Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her, clumsily trying to get her clothes off. A friend of Kavanaugh's, Mark Judge, who had been watching, jumped on the two of them, allowing Ms. Ford to wriggle away and lock herself in a bathroom until the boys left.

There is no way to prove that this happened. That's not just because Kavanaugh and Judge, the only witnesses besides Ms. Ford, vehemently deny it. Ford cannot even place it: She doesn't recall in whose Maryland home it supposedly happened, what she did afterwards, how she got to or from the place. She never breathed a word of it at the time. When she finally told a therapist about it three decades later, notes indicate that there were four assailants -- a discrepancy she blames on the therapist.

When and where seem like important elements of an accusation.

Dr. Blasey has been uncertain about some details of the episode, including when it happened and whose house they were at.

At this point it seems impossible to discover the truth.


What to make of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford about Bret Kavanaugh?

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend -- both "stumbling drunk," Ford alleges -- corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh's friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

Kavanaugh and Judge categorically deny that any such event ever happened.

So what do we do with this claim? First off, it's worth pointing out that there's zero likelihood of prosecuting Kavanaugh for this alleged offense. Whatever happened happened over 35 years ago. There's no way to prove anything, and we're way beyond the statute of limitations. So the real question is, how should this accusation affect the confirmation process?

1. Kavanaugh has no right to join the Supreme Court. He suffers no injustice if his confirmation is derailed. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" isn't (and can't be) the standard for rejecting a political candidate -- and that's exactly what a Supreme Court nominee is. We The People have the right to reject aspiring politicians for any and all reasons, both high and low. Each of us is free to weigh the credibility of Kavanaugh and Ford and reach whatever decision seems best to us. It would be unjust (at this point) to demand a criminal prosecution, but it's perfectly reasonable to demand that he not be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

2. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is too high to be the standard for rejecting a political candidate, but what should the standard be? Must a person be so guiltless that no accusation of wrongdoing is brought against him? Or no "reasonable" accusation (whatever "reasonable" means)? Or no accusation of a certain category or severity? We're each free to have our own standards, but it might be helpful to make them explicit in our own minds.

3. It's also useful to think systemically -- beyond any specific case. Do we want a system whereby opponents can derail a political candidate with a single uncorroborated accusation? What about two independent accusations, or three? There's probably some number of independent, uncorroborated accusations that would convince each person to withdraw political support from a preferred candidate. For example, Bill Cobsy had 60 accusers, which is quite convincing even though only three counts were proven at trial. I, personally, am quite comfortable shunning a person who has been accused of sexual assault by 60 people -- and I bet my real number is much lower than 60.

4. Does it matter than the alleged event occurred when Kavanaugh (then 17) and Ford (then 15) were both children? It could matter in at least two ways. A) You may consider the alleged behavior less offensive because Kavanaugh was young. B) You may consider that adult-Kavanaugh shouldn't be judged for what young-Kavanaugh did so long ago. In this specific case, 17-years-old isn't particularly young, so (A) may be less relevant than in the general case.

5. None of the blog posts or news reports that I've seen have mentioned it, but neither Kavanaugh nor Ford would be in this mess if they had followed the Pence rule (a.k.a., the Billy Graham rule. Aspiring politicians take note.

Update:

What the heck? Brett Kavanaugh's mother was the judge in in a 1996 home-foreclosure case in which the defendants were the parents of Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Here's the docket.


The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conclude that paper ballots are the most secure method for conducting elections.

The report, released on 6 September, calls for all US elections to be conducted using such ballots by the 2020 presidential election. It comes after US intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government backed attempts to infiltrate the United States's election infrastructure during the 2016 presidential election. The report's recommendations were developed by a committee whose members had experience ranging from computer science to officiating elections.

Check out what method your state uses, and if there's no "paper trail" call your legislator. Eliminating "Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems" entirely would seem to be prudent.


Trump's support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents remains remarkably high -- higher than Obama's support among Democrats was at this time in his presidency.

The media has focused on the strong support that Trump voters have for their president and Pew verified it.

Over Trump's time in the White House, Pew said that he has received the support of 84 percent of Republicans. That is more than Obama had or former President George W. Bush had and the last president to reach that level was John F. Kennedy. What's more, their numbers fluctuates but Trump's has held steady no matter what.

It's really interesting to consider how immense negativity from the media has affected the public's view of Trump. I'd guess that Trump's media opponents intend for their negativity to drive down his approval among everyone, but Trump gets a lot of mileage from the feud among his base. The feud (which both Trump and the media are responsible for, natch) is strengthening feelings on both sides but not actually changing anyone's mind at this point.


Byron York has a good analysis of why President Trump seems so resistant to acknowledging Russian meddling with our political system. He could have simply agreed with the widespread consensus that Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 election, but instead he refused to give a straightforward answer.

The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part -- if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election -- his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That's consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn't admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more.

But Trump's approach doesn't work for the Trump-Russia probe. There's no reason he could not accept the verdicts of the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Intelligence Community, and, yes, Mueller, that Russia tried to interfere in the election. There would be no political loss, and, in fact, great political gain, for Trump to endorse that finding.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong with Trump fighting back hard against the get-Trump part of the investigation. Voters know that Democrats, Resistance, and NeverTrump activists have accused Trump of collusion for two years and never proven their case. Mueller has charged lots of people with crimes, but none has involved collusion. That could still change -- no one should claim to know what is coming next from Mueller -- but Trump, as a matter of his own defense, is justified in repeating the "no collusion" and "witch hunt" mantras.

York wrote, "Trump's approach doesn't work for the Trump-Russia probe", but for several years now we've been hearing about how "Trump's approach doesn't work" for hundreds of challenges -- and yet it seems to be working better and more consistently than previous, more conventional approaches. Trump's approach doesn't work every time, but neither does conventional thinking. Trump has had incredible success with his approach so far, so one can understand why he sticks with it.


I'll resist the urge to make a Strzok/"struck" pun, but here are three takes on the man's Congressional testimony.

First, Andrew C. McCarthy says that his testimony illustrates that the Congressional investigations are a farce.

The principal question before the joint investigation of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees is whether the Democratic administration's law-enforcement and intelligence arms strained to manufacture an espionage case against the Republican candidate, having buried an eminently prosecutable criminal case against the Democratic presidential nominee.

It should be straightforward to answer this question, provided that the investigative process has the one attribute central to any credible probe: the capacity to compel the production of evidence and testimony, with the corollary power to hold witnesses in contempt for defiance.

The House investigation has devolved into farce because it lacks this feature.

Second, Mark Penn highlights the flat-out lies by "deep state" actors.

I've seen President Clinton deny he had a relationship with "that woman, Miss Lewinsky." I've seen President Obama assure people they will get to keep their doctor under ObamaCare. And I've seen former press secretary Sean Spicer declare that President Trump's inaugural crowd was larger than Obama's.

But these falsehoods pale in comparison to the performances of a series of "deep state" witnesses who have combined chutzpah with balderdash, culminating so far in the testimony of FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Let's review just some of the highlights.

Third, Michael Goodwin says that while the whole FBI isn't rotten, the head sure was.

Then there is Comey's successor, Wray. He looks as if he wandered into the wrong movie theater and can't find the exit.

He defined himself as unwilling to tackle the mess he inherited by downplaying the devastating inspector general report on the handling of the Clinton investigation. While conceding the findings made it "clear we've got some work to do," he minimized them by saying, "It's focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events. Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution."

Baloney. While it's true only a fraction of the total employees were singled out, they were the director of the FBI, his top deputy, the deputy's top lawyer and Strzok, the head of counterintelligence.

Others were also faulted, but not named, including an agent who tried to get his son a job on Clinton's campaign while sending campaign boss John Podesta "heads up" emails.


I've been advocating the repeal of the 17th Amendment for a long time -- the direct election of Senators has weakened States and Congress, and strengthened the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Glenn Reynold's tongue-in-cheek (?) proposal to expand SCOTUS to 59 justices sounds like a promising way to re-empower the States and (continue to) bypass the dysfunctional Congress.

OK, 1,001 justices might be too many, but perhaps we should substantially expand the Supreme Court. After all, if the country can be thrown into a swivet by the retirement of a single 81-year-old man, it suggests that the Supreme Court has become too important, and too sensitive to small changes, to play its role constructively as it's currently made up.

Increasing the number of justices would reduce the importance of any single retirement or appointment. And it would also reduce the mystique of the court, which I see as a feature, not a bug. Nine justices could seem like a special priesthood; two or three times that number looks more like a legislature, and those get less respect. Which would be fair. ...

So forget 15 justices. Let's keep the nine we have who are appointed by the president, and add one from each state, to be appointed by governors, and then confirmed by the Senate. Fifty-nine justices is enough to ensure (I hope) that they aren't all from Harvard and Yale as is the case now, and enough to limit the mystique of any particular justice. If the Supreme Court is going to function, as it does, like a super-legislature, it might as well be legislature-sized.

I love this idea, and it doesn't require a Constitutional amendment.


And now they're reaping the whirlwind. Remember this from 2013?

reid filibuster 2.jpg

Weakening the filibuster weakened the institution of the Senate and strengthened the Presidency, regardless of which party holds the majority in the chamber. It was a short-sighted decision by Harry Reid and the Democrats, taken for partisan advantage, and the Republicans doubled-down in 2017. De-escalation would would require the parties to trust each other, but that's impossible in the present political climate.

I personally think America would be better off with a stronger, more active, less risk-adverse Congress. The omnibus spending bills, partisan oversight committees, and delegation of lawmaking powers to the executive bureaucracy are all dangerous, and can generally traced back to the 17th Amendment which established the popular election of Senators. There's no panacea, but repealing the 17th Amendment would be a good start at fixing the current mess in the Senate.


This table from Open Secrets showing union contributions pretty much explains why liberals and Democrats are mad about Janus v. AFSCME.

public sector union contributions.jpg

As President F.D.R. warned us, public sector unions are "unthinkable and intolerable".


In another 5-4 decision, SCOTUS ruled this morning that members of public employee unions can't be forced to pay for political speech. These kinds of decisions are exactly why many people voted for Trump instead of Hillary.

In 1977, when public sector unions were getting established, the high court said teachers and other public employees may not be forced to pay full union dues if some of the money went for political contributions. But the justices upheld the lesser fair share fees on the theory that all of the employees benefited from a union contract and its grievance procedures.

But today's more conservative court disagreed and said employees have a right not to give any support to a union. These payments were described as a form of "compelled speech" which violates the 1st Amendment.

The anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, which funded the challenge, predicted the ruling would free more than 5 million public employees from supporting their unions.

For the unions, which traditionally support Democrats, the ruling will mean an immediate loss of some funding and a gradual erosion in their membership. Union officials fear that an unknown number of employees will quit paying dues if doing so is entirely optional.

An organization that takes your money by force as a condition of employment is inherently unjust. Voluntary associations of all kinds -- unions, governments, churches, corporations, clubs -- should be protected, but no one should be forced to join or fund something against their will. This is liberty 101.


How stupid do they think we are? Just like Jim Comey's "exoneration" of Hillary Clinton, the FBI Inspector General's report overflows with findings of criminality and then proclaims that there's nothing to see here. What's the deal? Why bother documenting over 500 pages of damning evidence just to withhold judgement?

"[W]e did not have confidence that Strzok's decision was free from bias." Delicately put. After reading some of the violently anti-Trump effusions the two exchanged, you might find your confidence that their behavior was "free from bias" shaken as well. Try this:
Page: "[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!"

Strzok: "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."

This shocking exchange has rightly been front and center in the cataract of commentary that has been disgorged about the IG report over the last few days. It is just one of the scores of examples of what Andrew McCarthy crisply described as the "ceaseless stream of anti-Trump bile" adduced in the report--adduced, and then half swept under the rug in a forest of anodyne verbiage.

"We'll stop it."

Who is "we"? Not Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as individuals. It's the collective or institutional "we": "We, that is the FBI, will stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States."

Even more egregious, that damning exchange was redacted from earlier transcripts provided to Congress. Why? Because revealing it endangers national security? Um, no. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots here.

Listen up government employees: the American people respect your service to our country, but you're not our masters. You work for us. You're free to vote for anyone you want, but you must not use your public offices to undermine democracy.

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