Again With the Statues

If the folks who are defending the statues could just stick to a defense that would be great.

 Hey, I thought the next blog was supposed to be the open letter to the Nick Sawark?

It was, but this is just a brief interlude. Now back in the box.

What? No mrrrghh…

<Ahem>

When we last left the defenders of the Confederate Monument Hill, their argument was the statues of Bobby Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, etc. were necessary because without them, how could we possibly remember the Civil War?

After all, in 1945 this sort of thing happened all over Germany and now no one knows anything about Nazis or Swastikas …

g5g18t5sv38z[1].png

It’s a weak argument to justify keeping the monuments: That in order to be reminded of the evil and treasonous actions of the Confederacy, we need to have monuments dedicated to them. By that logic, in order to recall the evil that led to the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, we should have statues erected of their killers.

Yeah haven’t seen anyone prepare to make that argument….

Now, could statues be important as warnings of great evil and dangers associated with the figure? Let’s call it Statue-ology. Maybe we can look to see an example of it using a non-Confederate Image. Hmm…  someplace in the US that has a statue of say…. I dunno…. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Someplace like Seattle, Washington.

Statue_of_Lenin_Seattle[1]

Lenin you may recall from such events as the Anti-Kulak Campaigns, the Red Terror, and the New Economic Policy. A man whose policies killed millions and oversaw complete government control over an economy. One of the 20th Century’s true monsters. (Lenin is, of course, overshadowed by his successor Joseph Stalin, in any list of the Worst Rulers of the 20th Century). So Seattle, having a statute warning of the evil of Leninism, would be a peaceful place, tolerant of everyone and would have no groups seeking to divide…

DontDateAWhite

..and would also be a City fully aware of the dangers of  government trying to control the economy…

Awkward.png

Well, that’s awkward….Maybe that’s why the mayor of Seattle this afternoon, is asking for Lenin’s statue to come down.

Statue-ology does not appear to be an effective deterrent to repeating the mistakes of history. This would of course, explain any number of racial and economic policies in New York City. The Big Apple, I have learned in the last 24 hours has monuments/ commemorations to:

  1. Robert E. Lee
  2. Stonewall Jackson
  3. Che Guevara
  4. Philippe Petain

Kinda explains a lot about the way the New York is run. As Thomas Sowell has noted, “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

But let’s look at the argument coming from the redoubt on Confederate Monument Hill from another angle. Maybe, like the arguments in defense of the utter collapse of Venezuela because of socialism, it is because we haven’t really tried Statue-ology.  Maybe the fault lies in the location of the statues. That could be the problem.  People might be mis-learning the history. The statues do tend to be situated in ways create a mistaken impression those whom the statues personify are meant to be idolized.

So we should change the location of the statues to give make sure people understand these statues are meant as warnings. I think this is where Radley Balko was going with his piece today about how Moscow and Budapest handled their surfeit of Leninist/Stalinist statues:

In Moscow’s Gorky Park, right next to the state art museum, there’s a stretch of green space called Fallen Monument Park. It’s populated with monuments to Stalinism and Leninism erected during the Soviet era. It’s pretty striking…

Each monument includes a plaque explaining when it was erected, how it was funded and that it has been preserved and installed in the park not to celebrate Stalin or Lenin or their ideas but because of its historical significance.

One statute of Stalin stands — minus its nose — in front of a harrowing sculpture depicting dozens of human heads stacked behind barbed wire. It’s a monument to the victims of totalitarianism. It isn’t difficult to imagine a similar park where a statute of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or Nathan Bedford Forrest might stand in front of a monument to victims of lynching.

It seems like a great idea. The statues are preserved and the history of the evils of the civil war and its aftermath can be learned. It seems to be a win-win, So surely the folks up on Confederate Monument Hill will back this compromise? Let’s go live to social media and comments to Balko’s piece:

This is more left wing, politically correct b.s. The Confederate statues have been in their prominent positions in public places throughout the South for decades with nary a word of complaint or protest until the Far Left decided to try and make an issue out of them beginning in the 1990s and accelerating lately.

The Left and the globalists have a false narrative that basically blames all problems everywhere on the planet on the White race. This is their mantra and is shown not just by the Confederate memorials manufactured controversy but by their blatant attempt to overrun Western nations with millions of Third World proles so that Whites will be not only a worldwide minority but a minority in their own homelands.

 I am struck at the level of intellectual dishonesty that compares Lenin and Stalin to Lee and Davis. The latter are tied to a practice that is mostly extinct, the former to an ideology that draws followers even today.

Huh. They don’t seem pleased by it. They seem rather angry. Why, it’s almost as if they really don’t mean it when they say we can only learn from history by keeping the statues. It’s as if they want to honor the Leaders of the Confederacy. (Would also explain the anger many had at Balko for daring to put Lee and Lenin in the same paragraph)

Men who betrayed their own country.

Men who betrayed their own country and lost.

Who knew a vast  tiny (handed) segment of this country needed participation trophies to validate the actions of their forebears?

And speaking of forebears, for the folks around Brunswick, Maine, the sound you are hearing is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg and former governor of Maine, spinning like a lathe in his grave following this gem from the current governor, Paul LePage:

What

There are of course, much better ways to learn about history. As Jamil Smith noted

Nailed it

I also find it easier to learn history from books. You tend to be able to get a lot of information in a book. Plus, they’re much easy to carry around with you.

 

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What is Wrong With People? Part II: Q&A on Progressive Failures

So why are we doing this?

Yesterday we discussed the failure of Trump Conservatives to stand up forcefully and denounce the violence by White Supremacists. Now it is time to discuss the failures of liberals that led up to this past weekend’s violence.

But why a Q&A?

Because I’m trying something different to keep my sanity.

Ok. So now what?

Ask a question.

Right. How is discussing the failures of Liberals not “whataboutism”?

Good question. It is not whataboutism because we are not attempting to equate or justify our response to Charlottesville based on what someone else has or hasn’t done.

So why do Progressives deserve blame for Saturday?

Let’s be clear:

The Only Person Deserving Blame for the Death of Heather Heyer is James Field

The conditions which allowed Saturday to occur grew in the fertile fields of progressive/leftist hypocrisy.

Why are they hypocritical?

Who-boy, let’s count the ways. Let’s start with one of the refrains after Charlottesville was why weren’t there the police presences in Virginia that there was in Ferguson and elsewhere.

And what was the problem with that?

It implied there was some form of racism at work. And on a subtler level, that this was the fault of Donald Trump.

And that’s not true?

No. Let’s start with the implication that this was somehow Trump’s fault. Under the concept of Federalism which underpins governance in the United States, the Federal government’s involvement in local law enforcement is very limited and generally only comes about after there has been some form of insurrection or break down in civil order. Until that point, it is the duty and obligation of the local government and depending on the situation, the state government to ensure the peace. So, if you want answers, the people who should be held accountable are the Mayor of Charlottesville, Singer and the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.

Ok, but isn’t there some form of racism involved?

If there is, then the Democratic Party needs to resolve this internally.

Huh?

McAuliffe and Singers are both Democratic officials. They had the authority and duty to ensure public safety and if they decided not to use force to against KKK and neo-Nazis, then they need to justify why. Democrats trying to slough this off on Trump is wrong. Trump, as I noted yesterday and other times (such as here ) has done wrong, but this one cannot be laid at his feet.

The implications that but for Donald Trump, there would have been enough cops on the street to stop this is complete BS. If you think there is a double standard as to why there was a massive police presence in Ferguson with a majority black population and there was not one in Charlottesville where a large number of white people were protesting, then the question must be directed to those elected Democratic Officials who are responsible and not open ended questions that allow people to presume this is the fault of Donald Trump or some other amorphous group of people who aren’t Democrats elected by and large by the people asking these questions.

So these politicians are not being held accountable?

Not really. McAuliffe tried to justify the lack of police presence as the result of militias being at the protest and counter-protest being more heavily armed than the state’s National Guard.

That’s not true?

Not unless somehow the militias have managed to successfully evade the National Firearms Act of 1968 and have also been able to purchase MRAPs through the Pentagon’s 1033 Program.

Wait. What’s the 1033 Program?

It is a program where the Pentagon sell surplus military equipment including heavy duty hardware to local police agencies.

Got it. You were saying?

McAuliffe’s claim the National Guard and police were outgunned is complete B.S. And think about this, how many police shootings have there been when the justification used was “the officer feared for his life”?

Quite a lot.

And yet, despite law enforcement in Charlottesville supposedly being out-gunned, there have been zero stories of cops opening fire or any indication any one of them feared for his/her life. In fact, one of the most shared photographs has been this one:

598f8b9b140000381aed0668[1].jpg

That officer looks like many things: pissed, annoyed, wishing he was somewhere else. But he doesn’t look scared that he is outgunned.

 

Got it in one.

 

We’ve talked about the hypocrisy, what was the other reason Progressives have responsibility for what’s happened?

Progressives have spent the better part of the last quarter century playing up identity politics.

Identity Politics? What’s that?

Identity Politics is the collectivization of society. Instead of being treated as an individual, you are lumped together with everyone who shares certain traits or characteristics.

Such As?

Such as race or gender or now, gender identity.

And this is bad because…?

Because the entire point of the United States is the protection of the individual. Equal protection under the law, free speech, self-incrimination, you name it. The person, the individual is the lynchpin of our society. By saying to a segment of the population that they are somehow more deserving of rights and freedoms than other groups is bastardizing the fundamentals of society.

You’re not suggesting this has never happened before?

Goodness no. It has happened any number of times. But up until the end of the 20th Century, we had made considerable progress in trying to remedy those wrongs. We still had a long way to go, but we were making progress.

So what happened?

Progressives realized if they pitted groups against one another, they could position themselves as the standard bearers for those groups. You must bake the cake! People in Appalachia are beneficiaries of white privilege and that is why they are so better off than people living in Watts.

Is that true?

Not even remotely.

But how does that get us to where we are today?

Two ways: First is the ever-increasing cult of victimhood. If you are not part of a particular group, you have no right to comment or object to their claims of injury.

Every sign of success is seen as a sign of failure. It is no longer enough to ensure people could marry who they want, now the refusal to date someone who is transgender is a sign of oppression.

Beyond that, it ignored a fundamental law of the universe.

What Law is that?

Newton’s Third Law.

Huh?

Newton’s Third Law states For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

You’ve lost me. That’s a law of physics.

It can apply to politics as well. If you tell Group A that folks in Group B are preventing them from being successful, Group A is going to agitate against Group B. Do it enough and Group B is going to push back. They will start claiming victimhood. And here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter whether either statement is true. It may not be Group B’s fault. Group A’s lack of success may the result of prior laws enacted to remedy past discrimination. Group B as a group may be the unintended beneficiary. But if politician vying for Group A’s votes blame the results and not cause, not only will Group A grow resentful of Group B, but Group B will start to think it is being blamed for things for which it has no control.

Is there a real world example of this?

U.S. Federal Housing Law is a prime example. Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America details how Federal policy created, not out of malice or intent, the red lining of neighborhoods and created many of the housing issues we face today. I don’t necessarily agree with all of his proposed solutions, but it is a good book on how the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What’s the solution, then?

Ayn Rand once observed the smallest minority is the individual. And whatever you might think of Objectivism, she had point with that statement. We need to reorient ourselves along the trajectory that won the Cold War: focus on ensuring the rights of the individual, not just particular groups.

Seems easy. Too easy

It’s not easy. It will be difficult if it is done properly.

You’ve lost me again.

The easy way, the wrong way, is what we normally get. That’s the call for Peace. If everyone just calms down and is peaceful towards one another, everything will be as right as rain.

That’s not the solution?

No, peace only works when everyone believes things will get better through the normal channels. What is needed is a focus on justice. And the status quo doesn’t do justice. The status quo has convinced people they have one of two options. And if you don’t like either, than you simply must choose the lesser of the two evils. In 2016 Americans were told they had to choose between the congenital liar and the pathological liar. That was how Donald Trump won. He was deemed to be the lesser of two evils.

And that’s a problem because…?

Because as William F. Buckley, Jr. Buckley warned:

[T]he argument that one must vote for the lesser of two evils is very persuasive and within limits conclusive. The trouble is the dynamics of politics do not in fact allow us to go that far and no further. Before we know it, the lesser of two evils is transmuted into a positive good—and from that moment on, we are morally and philosophically adrift.

So you’re saying we’re screwed and should pull a Sylvia Plath?

No. There is still hope. But it requires breaking out of the duopoly.

How?

That’s another blog for another time.

Next Time: The Open Letter to Nick Sarwark.

What is Wrong With People? Part I: Conservatives and Trumpalos

The protest and counter-protest this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer shows some disturbing trends in this country. To wit, it shows folks across the political spectrum have spent too much time with their heads up their rectums.

(**Warning** While I normally try to make this a clean blog, i.e. no swear words, this will not be the case this time).

The reaction by conservatives to the protests & counter-protests in Charlottesville are instructive. Prior to the murder of Heyer, most conservatives were united in their view the Nazis had the right to protest, but were generally mocking in reaction to the photos of the white supremacists. Such as this:

A duck

Post murder is when things went in very opposite direction. A large group of conservatives, from the folks at National Review Washington Examiner to the Speaker of the House and countless Representatives and Senators properly and strongly condemned the white supremacists who had perpetrated this violence and urged the President to do the same.

Trump and his supporters reaction to the incident at Charlottesville were, muted at best. Trump gave what can be charitably described as an anodyne condemnation, deploring violence on both sides. The President, as the Examiner’s Sonny Bunch noted, was presented his Sister Souljah moment and blew it.

Trump, since becoming President, has shown more vitriol towards Jeff Sessions, Bob Mueller, Mitch McConnell, Vladimir Putin, and the little shit running North Korea than he did to the Charlottesville. He was angrier this morning about Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, leaving the President’s Manufacturing Council, than he was about a neo-Nazi killing an American citizen.

And the White House claim that he didn’t take a more forceful tone because he didn’t want to give strength to the white supremacist cause is completely at odds with his (correct) forceful denunciation of the Radical Islamists responsible for the bombing of the Grande concert in Manchester, England. If he could call those terrorists losers, he could have found the time to apply the same label to the domestic version on display in Virginia

And the President’s statement was the launching point for a thousand “whataboutisms” by his supporters, the Trumpalos. You know the kind of statements I mean,

  • “Yeah, the mowing down of someone is bad, but what about the rocks thrown by the Antifa?”
  • “Why should the President denounce White Supremacists when the Obama [/Schumer/Pelosi] wouldn’t denounce BLM?”
  • “Well the KKK was originally founded by Democrats, so why should Republicans be the ones having to denounce White Supremacists?”
  • “Well what about the 39 people killed in Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago over the same period of time?”
  • “Well, how do we know the media isn’t lying to us?”
  • “Well we really shouldn’t rush to judgment.”

Are you effing kidding me? All of this simply because James Field is one “your side” of keeping statues of traitors to the Republic in the town square? That’s why we shouldn’t “rush to judgment”?

(We’ll just pass over the media lies commentary. Apparently having contemporary confirmation of the events in Charlottesville by people there on social media is insufficient when it is inconvenient)

These are, mind you, the same people who were quite gleeful when it was discovered the domestic terrorist who attacked the Republican Congressional Baseball practice was a Bernie Bro and couldn’t wait to spread the news. When Isaaiyl Brinsely murdered NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, these same conservatives were quick to connect Brinsley to Black Lives Matters. But somehow, now that the person who perpetrated this atrocity was part of a neo-Nazi protest, we shouldn’t be too quick to pass judgment.

I have made it clear before, I do not grasp this need by a sizable segment of conservatives, especially those whose undying loyalty to Trump, to die on the political hills in defense of the Confederacy.

Even this morning, Ben Domenech, editor of the Federalist.org, is still trying to peddle the idea that removing the statues of people who fought against the United States and in support of slavery is somehow “eradicating history”.

I have great respect for Domenech and the Federalist, even when I disagree with them. But this view is just wrong. It’s not eradicating history. It’s eradicating a mythology that glorifies racists. We don’t need a Stonewall Jackson standing in the middle of a town to remind us there was once a time people took up arms to fight for the right to enslave other human beings.

As one wag on Twitter noted Sunday, Confederate Statues were the original participation trophies.

If this is really about preventing history from being eradicated, than those conservatives who are arguing that should be the ones loudest in their condemnation of not just Fields, but of Richard Spenser, the neo-Nazis and White Supremacists who are “hijacking” history. If the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery and racism, these conservatives should be doing everything they can to denounce the bigots walking down the streets of Charlottesville, carrying Nazi flags, not carping about where’s the denunciation on the left about people waving the Hammer & Sickle flag of the USSR

But they are not. They have instead decided to make common cause.

Michael Goodwin, he of Goodwin’s Law has made it clear that those who have made common cause are no better than Nazis

Goodwin Speaks

Of course, the great irony of all this is the process of removing the statues will probably increase after this weekend. Just like in response to the shootings in South Carolina saw a dramatic uptick in the de-Confederazation of the South, expect to see the number of places with monuments to the losers of the Civil War decrease.

I had hoped the nine-people killed in Charleston, South Carolina in 2014 would be known as the last casualties of the Civil War.

Here’s hoping Heather Heyer death in the Battle of Charlottesville 2017 is the last.

 

(Hey liberals, what are you smiling about? We’ll discuss your issues tomorrow).

Trump Derangement Syndrome

DJ Trump is definitely his father’s son. He has managed, like dear old dad,  to once again make seemingly normal people to take amazingly stupid positions. What Trump the Younger did in meeting with someone claiming to work with the Russian government was not treasonous. Nor was it a brilliant move. And his decision to disclose the emails hours before the New York Times disclosed is as much proof of a “transparent administration” as dumping illegal drugs down the toilet with DEA sledgehammering down the door is proof of someone being anti-drug.

People, including yours truly, have marveled at Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Much like it’s early incarnation, Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), it has caused folks on the left to become completely unhinged, finding conspiracies everywhere. What makes TDS worse is that it has metastasize and caused folks on the right to become equally unhinged.

Beyond the issue with DJ Trump and his journey to gain dirt on Clinton from the Russians is the reaction from both pro and anti Trump forces. On the pro-Trump side, the defenses of young Mister Trump boil down to Kennedy did it and if it’s not illegal, it’s no biggie.

The first argument, if you are not aware of it, concerns a report found in the KGB archives that indicates Ted Kennedy sought the assistance of the Soviet Union to defeat Ronald Reagan’s campaign. Republicans and conservatives have wielded this accusation in the past as proof of the perfidy of the Democratic Party.

So why the eff would you know use it to justify what DJ Trump did? Just because someone on the opposing side did something horrible does not justify your side doing something similar. If it was wrong for them to do it, it is wrong for you to do it.

Since Glen Beck started his own brand, The Blaze, I have gotten the impression he has been selling his old blackboard to right wing crazies. You know the blackboard that he used to show linkages between various left wing causes as proof of an attempt to overthrow the US government and impose Sharia law and install Obama as Imperator. I mean I assume Alex Jones wandered down to Wal-Mart and picked one up and uses it to warn of the dangers of Pig/Human Hybrids and NASA’s Martian Slave Colonies.

(This by the way shows Jones’s disconnect. I’m supposed to believe a government agency is actually running a program efficiently and secretly? Please)

Showing some sort of connection between Ted Kennedy and Yuri Andropov does not justify a DJ Trump-Vlad Putin connection. Whataboutism is not a valid counterpoint to claims of DJ Trump’s inappropriate behavior.

This segues nicely to point two: just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s ok. There are any number of things that are perfectly legal, but still douchey. Jacking up the price on epi-pens after the government gives you a de facto monopoly isn’t criminal, just evidence of your ass-hattery. The fact that the FBI determined that Hillary Clinton broke no laws by storing classified materials on an unsecured server didn’t make it right. Indeed, if you look at Comey’s news conference, he bent over backwards to point out what Clinton did was wrong while not being illegal.

As I noted yesterday, the approach used by DJ Trump & co was mind-bogglingly stupid. But that in and of itself is not evidence of criminal activity or intent. It is perfectly acceptable to note what DJ Trump did wasn’t treason or criminal while still noting what an idiot he was for doing it.

The biggest danger the right has in its knee-jerk defense of Trump is going to be that moment in the future when he does something that is completely inexcusable and indefensible you will be forced to either excuse and justify it or explain why this one thing was what pushed you over the edge. You will go from being political supporters to cult members.

And that is not where you want to be going into the midterm elections or in 2020.

Meanwhile the left continues its inexorable slog towards Tinfoil Hat-landia. Apparently Glen Beck has decided to market his conspiracy blackboards and sell them at Target (pronounced by the left as Tar-Jay). There is not a single accusation against Trump that doesn’t go up on the board with a piece of string connecting it to something else. And it doesn’t matter if it is connected to something that has been disproven. Because to the left, anything anti-Trump is true. Even when it isn’t.

What constantly surprises me about the left (though it shouldn’t) is how historically illiterate they are. I understand Karl Marx is out of favor (he is after all, just another dead white male), so perhaps they forget his comment  “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Now see if they had bothered to learn that, they would realize they already made the same mistake with Trump that they did with George W Bush: you cannot be an evil genius while simultaneously having such a low IQ you can’t bend over to tie your shoes. And yet the left insists that he is an idiot while at the same time the center of a vast conspiracy on three continents to overthrow the US government and install Vladimir Putin as Supreme Leader.

Just because two events occurred near one another does not a conspiracy make.Remember Correlation Is Not Causation. A spike in internet traffic on a Russian bank server days after DJ Trump’s meeting with an alleged member of the Russian government does not show evidence of collusion anymore than you can blame people who eat cheese of being at fault for dying while tangled in their bed sheets.

chart
This chart has no relevance to the blog. Much like many of the connections the left is trying to make between Trump and Russia.

Not everything that happens around Trump is proof that Putin is Fearless Leader and the end of the Republic is nigh or evidence of Trump Treason. (Though if it was Trump Treason, it would be the richest, most luxurious treason ever. But I digress) The constant pearl clutching isn’t going to help you win the midterms or the 2020 campaign.

When DJ Trump first released his emails, Twitter’s own Iowahawk tweeted:

self inflicted

Right now, I have the media leading on points.

DJ Trump and the Search For Russian Dirt

Here’s a radical idea: It is entirely possible to believe what DJ Trump did was stupid while not treasonous.

Was it illegal? Possibly. As Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law at UCLA and overseer of the Volokh Conspiracy Blog, notes it appears Courts would find it illegal:

Foreigners who aren’t U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents, the argument goes, are barred from providing candidates any “thing of value” in connection with any American election campaign. Campaign staff are barred from soliciting any “thing of value” from such foreigners. And, the argument goes, valuable political information about an opponent’s misdeeds is a “thing of value.”

That would also include if a foreign national, living in the US notified a campaign about irregularities.

But, Volokh thinks the law might violate the 1st Amendment.

Yet that, it seems to me, can’t be right. It would raise obvious First Amendment problems: First, noncitizens, and likely even non-permanent-residents, in the United States have broad First Amendment rights. See Bridges v. Wixon, 326 U.S. 135 (1945) (“freedom of speech and of press is accorded aliens residing in this country”); Underwager v. Channel 9 Australia, 69 F.3d 361 (9th Cir. 1995) (“We conclude that the speech protections of the First Amendment at a minimum apply to all persons legally within our borders,” including ones who are not permanent residents).

Second, Americans have the right to receive information even from speakers who are entirely abroad. See Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301 (1965). Can Americans — whether political candidates or anyone else — really be barred from asking questions of foreigners, just because the answers might be especially important to voters?

He also noted people are claiming Trump the Younger actually received anything of value. (Indeed it is not even clear what evidence of dirt on Hillary was proffered). DJ Trump’s met with supposed members of a foreign government and it is probably a stretch to equate information given by a government to work performed by a citizen of a foreign government.  You can read the whole post here

I happen to agree with Volokh. If the law was as broad as some are asserting it is, the law would be unconstitutional for being overly broad.

I can’t imagine not wanting to know what the Russians claimed they had. Depending on what was presented as evidence, I may also want to  let the FBI know about the situation. We are, after all, talking about someone who was in the very inner circles of power. If the Russians disclose a major bombshell about what Clinton did while in government, it may suggest there is at least one Russian agent inside the White House or State Department. I would think people would want to know.

(And if the Russians were prepared to give up something that juicy, it would also mean they had access to far worse evidence of wrong doing).

And as Volokh notes, why should Americans not be told of something just because the source is not American, but Russian? If the information is relevant, it should not matter where it came from.

(It also possible the supposed dirt was something already known and reported on in the press. During the Cold War, KGB agents in the United States were known to take stories they read in the New York Times and Washington Post and send reports based on those stories, taking credit for the ‘intelligence’.)

The problem with the way DJ Trump and the other folks running the campaign handled it, was the seeming complete lack of awareness regarding who was offering this information. Since 2012, Republicans had been hammering the Obama Administration over their coddling of Putin. How many times did Republicans post videos of Mitt Romney warning about the Russians in 2012 and Obama’s snide comment about the 1980s?

On some level, you would have to wonder why this was being offered to you. Why are the Russians being so nice? What do they want in return? Are they trying to blackmail me?

(The great irony of course is if this was some sort of blackmail attempt by the FSB, they probably picked the one person who is probably blackmail proof. Based on the response to every accusation made against Trump since the beginning of his campaign, one gets the feeling he would simply dismiss it as “fake news” and move on. Blackmail only works if you can embarrass the target. And Trump seems incapable of that emotion).

As I mentioned yesterday, the people running Trump 2016 are not Mensa Candidates. DJ Trump, Manafort, and Roger Stone remind me of characters from a Tim Dorsey novel, specifically Elroy, Slow, and Slower from Coconut Cowboy (though not necessarily in that order).  I mean look at this from the emails DJ Trump published yesterday:

Whut

It was 100 years ago this year the Tsar was deposed and the Russian monarchy abolished. The end of the Soviet Union did not restore Royal Authority. So why in the name of all that is holy didn’t someone wonder about the Russian Crown Prosecutor?

Plus it apparently never occurred to them to ask why a British music promoter had such pull with the Russian government. Music promoters can barely get meetings with record labels, why would you think they could get you access to dirt held by the <ahem> Russian Crown Prosecutor?

Ultimately, the “professionals” running political campaigns need to treat emails from Russians claiming they wish to share dirt on an opponent the same way every sane person treats emails from Nigerian Princes claiming they have a vast fortune they wish to share:

Mark it as Spam and move on.

Life Moves Fast

One of the many amazing things about the Trump Presidency (besides learning that comedians holding up fake severed heads of the President is not violent rhetoric, put posting gifs of with the President’s head and the CNN logo superimposed on wrestlers is a core-shaking threat to the Republic) is how fast the news cycle is.

Less than twenty fours ago, there were stories about how Donald Trump Jr  (hereinafter DJ Trump) may or may not have met with Russians who may or may not have had incriminating evidence against Hillary Clinton. The hot takes on social media were at about a 9 responding to it.

I was in the midst of my take when DJ Trump decided to turn it up to 11.

I posted this H L Mencken quote before the election. I think it is fitting to post it again in light of DJ Trump’s actions:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

And it is equally important to remind everyone, Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and the mainstream media still couldn’t beat the man being advised by the likes of Manafort, Stone, and DJ Trump.

The Buffalo Bills of the Political World

Special Elections are odd ducks in American politics. A lot of pundits try to use them as Roman Seers did the entrails of chickens. And both groups had probably the same rate of success. The elections can serve as insights into how parts of the Country view the then political status quo. The US government is still, regrettably, a duopoly. So no matter how much candidates try to make it all about them, special elections are tied to the parties. A vote for a Republican in the special election is a vote for the Trump agenda. A vote for a Democrat is a vote against the Trump agenda. This why pundits like to see them as massive bellwethers.

Going against that concept is a special election allows the parties and their various political surrogates to concentrate their firepower (i.e. money) on a single election in a manner they cannot replicate during a general Congressional election. Yesterday’s Georgia 6 special election cost the parties approximately Fifty Million Dollars ($50,000,000.00). To replicate that in 2018, across 435 Congressional Seats would require spending Twenty-One Billion Seven Hundred Fifty Million Dollars ($21,750,000,000.00). While that might be the most honest “shovel ready” jobs politicians could create, it just ain’t happening.

While they might not be bellwethers, special elections can serve as a canary in the coal mine for political parties. If the party out of power racks up surprise victories, the party in power needs to take notice. If the party out of power keeps losing, they need to reassess their strategy.

For example, the January 2010 win by Scott Brown’s the vacant Massachusetts Senate seat (along with the Republican victories of the governorship of Virginia and New Jersey in November 2009) should have been a wake-up call for Democrats that the American public was very uneasy with the Democrat’s agenda. They should have stopped with Obamacare. They opted not to do so. And the result was the 2010 wave election.

The Republican victory in GA-6 does not qualify as a bellwether. While this would be an Ossoff victory would have been an upset (the first Democrat to represent the District since ’78), the closeness of the race would have mitigated against it. The intense focus of the democrats on that election would have been something they would not have been able to replicate 18 months from now. But, take Handel’s 3.8 point victory and the 3.1 point victory by Ralph Norman in the under-reported election in South Carolina and the GOP should pause for a moment. While they have won all of the special elections this year, the margin of victory has been incredibly small, especially in traditional Republican districts (the last poll for SC-5 had Norman up 53-37. Given his 52-48 victory, all of the undecideds apparently broke for the Democrat). And these districts have been in various parts of the Country, giving a better snap shot of America’s views. The people may not like the Democrats, but they are clearly not enamored with the Trump Agenda.

The Republican party is going to be battling some strong headwinds in 2018. Historically, midterm elections are referendums on the party in power. The lower the popularity of the President, the worse his party does. Having a President with a popularity rating in the low 40s is never been a good sign for his party. If the GOP wants to insulate itself from any chance of losing the House, they will need to come up with a legislative agenda they can pass. And given the short-attention span of the President (Last week was announced as infrastructure week and very little in the way of policy was set forth) and the risk aversion of the Senate to initiate anything (see the one infrastructure policy Trump did announce), and Paul Ryan needs to put together a group of high profile bills he knows he can pass to show the American People Congress is doing something.

As for the Democrats, they also need to keep in mind that these elections are not bellwethers. But they also have to overcome the fact that when it comes to picking up Republican seats, they are 0-4 in special elections this year, despite backing truckloads of money into each of the races. And in each case they came tantalizingly close to winning, only to lose in the end. Between 1990 and 1994, the Buffalo Bills were the AFC Champions and played in Super bowls XXV through XXVIII. They lost each one. Almost all were heartbreakingly close games.

The Democrats are the now the Buffalo Bills of Politics.

#sad
The epitome of #sad

The Democrats need some serious introspection. It is said that armies are always preparing to win the last war. The special elections show the Democrats are always prepared to lose the last election. The idea that they could run a campaign solely built on a hashtag (#Resistance) and blind opposition to the President has to be considered a failure. The idea they could bring someone into Georgia Six who didn’t live there and was funded by major donors from outside of Georgia was a hell of a gamble that failed spectacularly. (And Ossoff whining this morning that despite his campaign spending $40 million that somehow a lack of campaign finance is the reason he lost shows a stunning lack of awareness). I would commend you to read this long twitter rant by someone who lives in the District to understand how badly the Democrats handled this.

And the blame has to start at the top with Nancy Pelosi. She has been the leader of the House Democrats since 2006. With Hillary wandering the back woods of Chappaqua like some sort of pant-suited Bigfoot, Pelosi is the “Face of the Party”. The minority leader is the poster child for costal liberal elitism. The day she retires (or is ousted from Leadership) will be a sad day for GOP fundraisers. And her policy agenda s shows a complete lack of awareness of the reality that allowed Trump to win the presidency.

But even party members have to get a grip. During Ossoff’s concession speech, there were reportedly cries of “Not our Congressman”. This continual refusal to acknowledge the other party’s victory as legitimate is doing it no favors with those people who don’t live breathe and eat politics. National Review’s Kevin Williamson summed it up best:

So, the election didn’t go your way. That means America is finished, defeated, corrupted beyond redemption? Grow up. Nobody said being free would be easy. We, all of us, have work to do — childish fantasies and childish temper tantrums aren’t getting it done.

The Democrats have to stop treating anyone who opposes them as being some sort of racist, misogynistic xenophobe. This strategy failed in 2016. And it has failed five times in 2017. A new strategy is required.

The biggest problem with the Democrats is they love the pomp and circumstance of being the opposition. But they don’t like the details. In contrast, the Tea Party was founded in not in opposition to President Obama, but to his policies. The Tea Party had a very clear agenda: they were for cutting spending, reducing taxes and reigning in government. They had very clear goals. And the Tea Party was equally clear they were ready, willing, and able to work with President Obama. It was Obama who decided to ignore the Tea Party and opted instead to become President Phone & Pen.

Democrats keep trying to replicate the 209-2014 Tea Party movement and failing. Sure, the Occupy Wall Street protests had all the visual hallmarks of the 1960s protest movements. But they never had a solid agenda of what they wanted to have happen. It was always this vague re-hashed of discredited Marxist-Leninist ideas. The #Resistance is the same thing. The main agenda item for them is the impeachment of Trump. That idea precludes any idea of them working with the President. Which means, from a practical standpoint, whatever policy ideas they get around to promoting have no shot of being implemented. Trump is nowhere unpopular enough for people to realistically believe he would be convicted by Senate. And while the #Resistance makes noises about also impeaching Pence and installing Pelosi as President, they have failed to produce a single item about the Vice President to even remotely suggest he has done anything that could be considered a misdemeanor, never mind a high crime. A vote for the #Resistance is a vote for a futile gesture.

The Democrats can be the party of No. But they have to have solid agenda. If you oppose Trumpcare, then have a basic plan for how to fix Obamacare. Opposing tax reform? Then what’s the bullet point ideas you have? Show the American people there is something more than just a foot-stomping, holding your breath until you get your way from the party.

The one good thing about this is neither party will actually undertake any introspection. They will continue doing what they normally do. And so the 2018 election will be decided, as every election since the fall of Berlin Wall, by the words of the Apocryphal Harold Macmillan:

“Events dear boy, events.”

And since the duopoly is content to let events controlled their fortunes, it gives opportunities to third parties to step into the breach.