Tuesday afternoon round-up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesThis is one of those days where my day totally didn’t go as planned . . . but for good reasons.  How often can one say that?  Plans or no plans, though, the news marches on and there’s so much interesting stuff I want to share with you.

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When Rep. Louis Gohmert (R.) pointed out to Eric Holder that Holder seemed remarkably unfazed by the fact that Congress had held him in contempt, Holder, showing remarkable contempt for Congress, snapped ““You don’t want to go there, buddy! You don’t want to go there, okay.”

If it were me, I’d hold Holder in contempt just for that — that is, for the gross disrespect with which he spoke to a Congressman while actually appearing before Congress.  Certainly, if this had been a courtroom and Holder had  spoken that way to a judge, Holder would instantly have been cooling his heels in a jail cell.  Holder also seems to have forgotten that Holder’s an appointee (a mere employee), while Gohmert is a representative of the people.

Aside from the obvious crude, vulgar conduct, what’s noteworthy is that Holder insists that, while he’s personally pained that he was held in contempt for refusing to turn over Fast and Furious documents, he still has no intention of turning over the documents.  Holder’s arrogance tells you a lot about the state of Washington, D.C. today.  Holder knows that, because he and his boss are black, Congress will do precisely nothing to force him to abide by Congress’s demands and his constitutional obligations.

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May I speak frankly? John Kerry is a brainless, cowardly, dishonest, antisemitic cancer infecting the American body politic. To the extent he’s also Secretary of State, I’d say that his particular disease is widespread in American politics and comes from the top. Just sayin’.

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I already heard from a reliably Leftist friend why we shouldn’t believe data showing that health insurance premiums have skyrocketed since Obamacare went into effect: Because insurance brokers are facing competition from Obamacare, the sampling of 148 insurance brokers must be discounted on the presumption that those queried were lying when they provided insurance pricing information. The friend implied that a larger sampling would have made a difference, but that’s a sop to the stupid.  If he thinks brokers are inherently dishonest because they don’t like Obamacare, then it’s irrelevant how many one surveys.

I see things a little differently. I’m pretty damn sure that, if you force everybody to buy over-the-top insurance that exceeds what most people want, and make half of the purchasers pay for the other half, premiums are going to go up quickly and frequently.

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Still on the healthcare front, this is exciting news: four men with severely damaged spinal cords are able to move their legs again thanks to electrical stimulation that may be retraining both brain and spinal cord. That’s just totally freakin’ amazing and I hope it’s something real and not just anomalous.

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I had a whole bunch of links and arguments lined up to discuss the ironic news that the CEO of OKCupid, the company that started the witch hunt against Brendan Eich, is on record as having donated to a pro-traditional marriage politician (more than one, in fact, if you count his 2008 donation to Barack Obama). Then I read Ace and realized I didn’t have anything to add to the subject.

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Dennis Prager explains why the Mozilla boycott is important and, more than that, necessary to preserve American liberties (emphasis mine):

As Princeton professor Robert George warned on my radio show, today the Left fires employees for opposition to same-sex marriage. Tomorrow it will fire employees who are pro-life (“anti-woman”). Then it will be employees who support Israel (an “apartheid state”).

The reason to boycott Firefox is not that it is run by leftists. Nor is the reason to support the man-woman definition of marriage. It is solely in order to preserve liberty in the land of liberty.
If Mozilla doesn’t recant and rehire Eich as CEO, McCarthyism will have returned far more pervasively and perniciously than in its first incarnation. The message the gay Left (such as the Orwellian-named Human Rights Campaign) and the Left in general wish to send is that Americans who are in positions of power at any company should be forced to resign if they hold a position that the Left strongly opposes.

And right now that position is opposition to same-sex marriage.

Think about that. In the United States of America today, the belief that marriage should remain defined as the union of a man and woman is portrayed as so vile by the Left that anyone who holds it is unfit for employment.

[snip]

The battle over Firefox is the most important battle in America at this particular moment. If you use Firefox, uninstall it, and use Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, or Safari. For Windows, try Pale Moon, which is based on the Firefox engine and will import all of your bookmarks; for mobile devices, you can try Puffin.

America can have liberty or it can have Firefox. Right now, it cannot have both.

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Victor Davis Hanson details how, in just five years, Obama has destroyed the world order as it existed since 1942, one that saw America use a variety of strategies to encourage countries that support individual freedom and to isolate, weaken, and perhaps destroy those that don’t. Obama has not retreated to the isolation America embraced after WWI, when it left the world alone and asked the world to leave it alone. Instead, Obama is very deliberately cultivating or encouraging freedom’s enemies, while manifestly abandoning freedom’s (and America’s) allies.

Funnily enough, Obama’s official foreign policy on behalf of the United States of America precisely tracks the legal definition of treason (18 U.S. Code § 2381):

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Allow me to channel Elmer Fudd: “Be afwaid. Be vewy, vewy afwaid.” And as Fudd wouldn’t have said, the Pax American is officially over; let Armageddon begin.

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Obama and his minions are gloating about Obamacare’s 7.1 million enrollments. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that forcing people into a government program is entirely separate from the government program’s actually functioning. Michael Ramirez hasn’t forgotten that little detail.

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Maybe none of this is surprising considering that the mayor’s name is “Outlaw”:

One-thousand “brothers in blue” came to pay their respects this afternoon to Officer Alexander Thalmann, 22, killed in the line of duty in New Bern, N.C., last week.

Thalmann’s partner, Officer Justin Wester, 23, is recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg from the shootout that left convicted felon, Bryan Stallings, 35, dead.

The incident happened March 28, in the housing projects known as Craven Terrace.

The town’s grief was made even more painful by the local administration’s handling of events following the young officer’s death.

For unknown reasons, newly elected, Mayor Dana Outlaw chose to attend Thursday’s funeral of the career criminal.

Adding insult to injury, last night’s planned memorial for local citizens to say “goodbye” to Alexander Thalmann was cancelled by the mayor’s office.

It was alleged that two of the city’s aldermen had invited relatives of the killer to attend the vigil. Rather than rescind the invitation, the city chose to cancel the event.

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You actually don’t have to go any further than the title to Daniel Greenfield’s post to know that he’s written something good and important: Islam Is What Happens When Civilization Loses.

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I’ve mentioned before the main reason an Ivy League liberal I know refused even to consider Sarah Palin as a vice-presidential candidate, despite reluctantly conceding that (a) she had more governing experience than Barack Obama in 2008 and (b) she would have been an apprentice, if she won, not the main player. That was all irrelevant. What matter was that Palin, unlike prep school, Ivy League communist Obama, “is not one of us.” I thought of that liberal when I read about Kathleen Parker’s unconscionable snobbery.

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Have you registered yet for American CurrentSee, a free online magazine that seeks to give a voice to conservative American blacks? I hasten to add here that the magazine is not limited to black writers or black issues. In other words, it’s a magazine that’s truly diverse, rather than a monolithic magazine that simply pays lip-service to some abstract “diversity.” The magazine examines politics and social issues that affect blacks, but that also affect all of us who want a strong, unified, freedom-loving country. So far, I’m pleased that I signed up.

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And finally, I continue to be completely impressed by Amy Purdy’s turn on Dancing With The Stars (this time with a new partner for the week):

Thursday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFor reasons that make no sense to me, in the past week my daily readership has almost trebled. I suspect a bot has targeted my site but, when I allow myself to pretend that it’s actual people checking out my site, I feel really quite good. And now let’s see if I can make all of my real and robotic readers feel good with some interesting links:

It turns out that I’m not the only one who has noticed that the only thing exciting the Left right now, from Obama on down to the most insignificant Facebook user, is gay marriage. Syria? Sad, but boring. Ukraine? A little scary, so best ignored. North Korea? Really scary, so best ignored. Economy? We have a Democrat president, so we pretend it’s good. But gay marriage? Wow! That’s a hot issue, so hot that it should be the administration’s most pressing issue, the states’ most pressing issue, and social media’s most pressing issue.

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Putting gay marriage aside, what sensible people should be excited about is the fact that the current administration has deliberately chosen to subvert the law and to use supposedly non-partisan administrative agencies (most notably the IRS) to destroy the current administration’s political opponents. Bradley A. Smith spells it out, and there are smoking guns everywhere. Unfortunately, true believers on the Left are just going to look at that evidence and say, “Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” They’d do that even if Lois Lerner got her immunity and spilled the beans.

Few on the Left have Democrat Prof. Jonathan Turley’s insight or integrity:

And what we’ve been seeing is the shift of gravity within that system in a very dangerous way that makes it unstable, and I think that’s what the president is doing. I think that we’ve become a nation of enablers. We are turning a blind eye to a fundamental change in our system. I think many people will come to loathe that they remained silent during this period.

Incidentally, I wonder if Mr. Smith has been reading my blog. To conclude his masterful summary demonstrating administration complicity with the IRS, he wrote this:

In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights then murdered the archbishop. Many in the U.S. media still willfully refuse to see anything connecting the murder of the archbishop to any actions or abuse of power by the king.

If that seems familiar to some of you, I wrote the same thing (although at greater length) back in May 2013.

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Hillary Clinton spoke in Florida yesterday to defend Obamacare. For a good analysis, go here. The short version is that she’s adopting the Democrat party line, which is that Obamacare is slightly flawed, but should be fixed, not undone. I’ll just chime in quickly with a little extra info that may explain why many people will be inclined to save, not jettison it: the venue at which she spoke was a massive annual medical technology convention. The wealth concentrated there — wealth created because Obamacare has mandated computerizing all medical records — probably equals the wealth of several small and mid-sized countries. Exhibitors weren’t just giving away pens and mouse pads. They were giving away Kindle Fires and other fancy swag. Follow the money….

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I love it when my politics and my dieting efforts converge: No Girl Scout cookies for me this year. The Girl Scouts are absolutely free to continue their leftward drift. I just don’t have to help fund it. If I had my own personal Marine Sergeant Major monitoring my diet, none of this would be an issue.

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Just a reminder that if you want a bird’s eye view of probable election results, check out Scott Elliott’s Election Projection. Working on a state-by-state basis, he has amassed a vast and highly accurate database of predicted election outcomes.

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North Korea is one seriously scary place. It’s scary inside, because it is a vast, brutal concentration camp. I mean, think about it: It’s so bad that the UN has actually taken time off from persecuting Israel to castigate North Korea for a few days.

It’s also scary outside because it’s got a vast armory of conventional weapons aimed at South Korea, and a probable armory of nuclear weapons aimed at God knows where. Andrew Keller recommends actually enforcing sanctions against it, so that the West is no longer complicit in propping up this government. (Our excuse for propping it up, starting with Madeleine Albright, is always that we’re preventing mass starvation. We haven’t done anything of the sort.  The NoKo government just takes the money, buys caviar, and lets the people starve anyway.) My only worry with Keller’s recommendation is that North Korea is not the kind of country that will go down easy. It seems to me that one of its last gasp efforts will be to take large parts of the world, or Asia, down with it.

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I don’t understand why people are so fussed about reliably Left-leaning Ronan Farrow winning a journalism award after only two days on air at MSNBC. After all, Barack Obama won the once-prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, not because he actually did anything on the job, but simply because he got hired. Eric Wemple illustrates that in the modern journalism world, everyone is good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it, entitled to endless accolades and awards.

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Eric Holder was briefly hospitalized for chest pains, but seems to be okay. I wonder if he had a panic attack, which can mimic a heart attack. He’s got a lot of balls in the air now, and it must be nerve-wracking to keep them spinning. You know what I mean: Urging state Attorney General’s to refuse to enforce their own state laws regarding gay marriage; arranging for gun-running into Mexico, and then having to cover it all up; hiding administration documents about everything from the IRS to Benghazi; working to turn felons and illegal aliens into registered voters; and so on. I’d be stressed too with all of that on my plate.

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In a typically thoughtful, detailed post, Daniel Greenfield examines Obama’s decision to put America into a forced retreat from the world stage. His last paragraph reads like the final epitaph for a once great nation:

Post-American America exists to destroy itself. Until that changes, it has nothing to offer the world except membership in a suicide pact.

Obama’s despicable role in the Ukraine (or, rather, his absence of any role, other than some meaningless Kabuki theater) perfectly illustrates how he’s got America crawling away on her hands and knees, with her national butt nicely poised in the air for some final kicking.

The Left assured us in 2008 that the world would be a better place without all that nasty American influence. The world’s citizens are discovering what you and I already knew: The world is a much less nice, stable, safe place without an American influence. Moreover, the Left’s talk of compassion was a fake.  For example, even as apocalyptic scenes play out in Syria, the Left manifestly doesn’t care.

Wednesday afternoon quick hits (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s raining!!!  In California, that’s cause for celebration.  Rain in Marin doesn’t mean it’s raining elsewhere, but it certainly matters to use Marin-ites — we have our own reservoir system, so we’re wholly dependent on local rainfall.  Ironically, the rain is slowing down our major yard renovation, and we have to get that renovation down before April 1, when rationing kicks in (and rationing will happen unless we get enormous amounts of rain).  Sigh.  To ever silver lining, there seems to be a cloud.

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Since I’m on the subject of weather, here’s a two-fer about the grand hoax that is climate change. The first, from American Thinker, provides compelling evidence that every single carbon centered computer model about the climate has proven to be wrong. Not just sort of wrong, mind you, but absolutely, completely, super-duper wrong. Climate theorists are now blaming volcanoes for the warming failure, but they’ll blame anything, won’t they? If you have a non-falsifiable doctrine, you can always blame external forces for your doctrine’s inevitable failure.

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I’ve also got three great articles about Israel. The first looks as all the wonderful things going on in Israel despite the world’s efforts to squash that tiny, brilliant nation. The second looks at the grotesque hypocrisy that sees gay rights advocates champion Palestinians at the expense of Israel. The third looks as the fact that Israel stands poised to save Syrians, the rest of the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, from the unfathomable danger of a nuclear Syria.

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Traditionally in America, a state attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the state. After all, if the AG doesn’t do that, what’s his purpose? He’s there to represent and ensure the stability, reliability, and credibility of the law.  If he doesn’t carry out that task, he just becomes another functionary in a banana republic. And that banana republic status is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dreams of, for he has instructed state AG’s to ignore any law that supports traditional marriage.

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I’ve written here frequently about the lunacy that is the modern American college or university. This is a subject that exercises me a great deal because I have two children heading towards college in the next few years. As many Americans do, I’m deeply offended by the cost of college, especially the cost of the once prestigious liberal arts colleges back East. It’s insane to spend or borrow $250,000 so that your child can move into your basement and become a barista. In a changing world, colleges have actually changed in the wrong direction.  They’ve turned away entirely from educating young people to become useful and productive citizens.

What colleges have done, instead, is train youngsters to become lunatics, which is my second reason for being upset about modern American higher education. Last week, Bruce Bawer warned about a lunatic Leftist at Harvard. This week, Chicks on the Right warns about a whole cadre of potentially violent lunatic Leftists as Dartmouth. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this collection of young people expensively unmoored from reality comes from deep within the fever swamps of the gay rights movement.

I’ll say here what I always say: I believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I believe that gay people should be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, etc. I believe that the heart loves where it will. But let’s get real here: These loony-toonz aren’t about gay rights.  They are about using the gay agenda as a wedge issue to destroy America as a free-market, individual-centered society, and to replace it with a hard-core centralized government and a socialized economy. I wonder if these “idealists” have any inkling that, when/if they’ve finally achieved their agenda they’ll meet the same fate that leading-edge revolutionaries always experience, whether in 18th Century France, or Russia, or China:  The new statist government identifies them as troublemakers and kills them first.

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My sister lives in Oregon, a state that has as its primary goal the creation of happiness. We’ve talked before about the fact that a state can impose “happiness” only if it first has the right to define “happiness.”  The reality, is that there’s only a slender likelihood that the state bureaucrat’s idea of what constitutes “happiness” is the same as your idea.  Moreover, if not everyone is happy — and no one can ever be — the situation is ripe for constant revolution. Still, Oregon tries. The libertarians on the Eastern side are constantly besieged by the statists on the Western, coastal side, who have turned Oregon into one of the most heavily regulated, and least economically successful, states in America. (For more on happiness, at a deep, philosophical level, rather than at a pop-culture, “everything is free” level, check out Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.)

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And finally, knowledge that I gleaned in my youth catches up with the present. I’ve written before about my years at Berkeley, when I socialized with ultra-Leftist professors who lived in lavish houses in the Berkeley hillside, all of which seemed to be tended by Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners. These effete, armchair revolutionaries enjoyed their Marxism because they lived on the straining back of the servant class.

That was a long time ago, but one modern-day Leftist has finally admitted that, yes, needing servants is precisely why the Leftist idle rich are so gung-ho about illegal immigrants:

As a friend of mine said after watching that, “If a conservative of any stripe were to insinuate undocumented workers were all gardeners, landscapers, and hotel workers the race card would have been played before he could even finish the sentence.”

Government agents must avert their eyes from potential Islamic terrorists

The-9.11-terrorists

The surprisingly Muslim 9/11 terrorists.

If America survives long enough for historians to write books about this period in her history, surely Eric Holder’s recent directive (issued in response to pressure from Democrats), holding that federal agents may not consider Islam as a factor in terrorism or Latinos as the most likely illegal immigrants will surely rank as Exhibit A in the decline of a once great nation:

The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations, a government official said Wednesday.

The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.

I agree completely that not all Muslims are terrorists, just as only an idiot would claim that the only illegal immigrants are Hispanics.  To focus only on those two groups, without reference to any other potential terrorists or illegal immigrants is foolhardy.  (Although I’m unclear about the whole illegal immigrant thing anyway, considering that Obama is already violating the law — without Republican push-back — by refusing to enforce immigration laws.)  Still, one would have to be equally idiotic to pretend that the vast majority of terrorist attacks don’t involve Muslims and that the greatest number of illegal immigrants don’t come from South of the Border.

How about a different approach to Holder’s demand that schools stop disciplinining minorities?

out-of-control-classroom-300x225It’s already old news now that Eric Holder has announced that schools must stop disciplining minority students because he feels they are disproportionately the subject of school discipline.  Many who read his edict thought, first, that a ukase against discipline based upon skin color, rather than conduct, was just about the most racist thing they’d ever seen; second, that this will be a disaster for minority children who are seeking some structure in their lives; and, third, that it marks the end of any discipline at all in schools, as each school drops to the lowest common denominator of possible behavior.

Robert Arvanitis has suggested that there is a different way to achieve racial parity — a way that would also expose how appalling Holder’s ideas are without turning schools into out-of-control war zones:

Holder now complains that valid, objective standards for school discipline are nonetheless racist if the results fall disproportionately on minorities.

Forget the rational rebuttals — it is unfair to all the other kids who are deprived of education; it ignores the root causes such as fatherless homes, causes engendered in turn by failed left policies.

Time to fight back in a smarter way. Let’s frustrate the left’s feedback mechanisms just as they themselves try to hijack and distort the real metrics of society.

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For every “favored-minority” student disciplined for real cause, we report the required multiple of non-favored kids on comparable status. I don’t mean lie, I mean we actually do things like “in-school suspension.” No harm to records, which are all sealed for college applications and recorded in aggregate anyway.

Now if Holder catches on and seeks separate categories like in and out of school suspension, then we refine it a bit. Everyone is on “in-school” suspension,” and held in separate classrooms. We spend some extra for dedicated tutors for such separate classrooms. And when the real troublemakers fail to show up, then hey, they’re marked delinquent as well.

My point is that there is no rigid rule system the statists can impose, that we cannot game. I have long experience with such things as tax, accounting, and regulatory frameworks. They all fall because of the algebra — it’s called “over-determined equations.” When there are more constraints than free variables, there will necessarily be contradictions and inconsistencies in the system for us to exploit.

So rule away Eric; check, and mate.

Holder is not the cancer in the administration; he’s merely a symptom

Peter Wehner, who writes at Commentary Magazine’s blog, is usually very mild mannered in his critiques. I would call him a Romney Republican.  He’s a moderate conservative who worked the White House under Reagan and both Bush’s.  He therefore tends to be a little forgiving of bad political decisions.  That’s why it was amazing to see his post about Eric Holder’s resignation, which Wehner believes was a necessity, end with this harsh paragraph:

But whether Holder stays or goes is, if not exactly beside the point, not the central issue involved here.

What matters is that we have an administration that had contempt for the rule of law and believes it is right and proper to use the power of the federal government to target, intimidate, and silence its political opponents. That has been happening since nearly the beginning of the Obama Era. Eric Holder is not the generator of this culture of intimidation and corruption; he is merely one of its executioners. The real problem with the Obama administration begins at the top. Getting rid of Eric Holder may be a good idea. But it won’t solve the deeper pathologies of this presidency.

Eric Holder’s newly discovered sense of remorse

Rhett and Scarlett

One of the best lines in Gone With The Wind isn’t “I’ll think about it tomorrow” or “Frankly, my dear. I don’t give a damn.” Instead, it’s “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”  Rhett offers the immortal gem to Scarlett when she’s weeping over the fact that her un-womanly role running her second husband’s business led to her husband’s getting killed when he took part in a KKK raid against some men who tried to assault her.

I love Rhett’s line because it goes to the heart of true remorse and repentance.  If your only concern is that you got caught, you don’t care about the crime, you worry only about your punishment.

What brought that classic line into my head is a line that appears in a Daily Beast article about the beleaguered Holder, whose finger has been caught in way too many cookie jars and, if you’ll excuse a flying leap into another metaphor, whose chickens are now coming home to roost:

But for Attorney General Eric Holder, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully sink in until Monday morning when he read the Post’s front-page story, sitting at his kitchen table. Quoting from the affidavit, the story detailed how agents had tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, perused his private emails, and traced the timing of his calls to the State Department security adviser suspected of leaking to him. Then the story, quoting the stark, clinical language of the affidavit, described Rosen as “at the very least … an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the crime. Holder knew that Justice would be besieged by the twin leak probes; but, according to aides, he was also beginning to feel a creeping sense of personal remorse.  (Emphasis mine.)

Yup, a “creeping sense of personal remorse.”  Remorse that he committed so many acts of wrong doing?  I doubt it.  I think Holder’s just “terribly, terribly sorry” that his sins have finally caught up with him.

The media’s approach to Rand Paul’s filibuster: pretend it never happened *UPDATED*

Yesterday, Rand Paul embarked upon a nearly 12-hour-long standing filibuster.  The filibuster’s ostensible purpose and practical effect was to delay a vote on John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA.  It’s real purpose, though, was to force Attorney General Eric Holder to answer a straightforward question:  “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?”

Paul posed this question because, on Monday, in a letter responding to questions Paul had about the drone program on American soil, Eric Holder had written that the President could order a drone strike on American citizens in America, if there was a 9/11 situation.  Thus, Holder confined his answer to the President’s power in the event of actual combat on American soil.  Eric refused to respond to Paul’s follow-up question about a non-combat scenario.

So Paul filibustered, and filibustered, and filibustered.

During his epic speech, in the course of which he even quoted Alice in Wonderland, Paul came up with some liberty-oriented bon mots that will forever enter the conservative playbook:

“They shouldn’t just drop a Hellfire missile on your cafe experience.”

“If you give up your rights now, don’t expect to get them back.”

[A hypothetical question to President Obama:]  “So you can murder anyone you want, anywhere, any time?”

Paul not only managed to derail the scheduled vote for John Brennan, he forced Eric Holder to answer his question.  Today, Eric Holder issued what is probably the world’s shortest letter ever written by a lawyer:

Rand Paul won -- Holder gave him his answer

During his filibuster odyssey, Paul demonstrated that he is a lucid speaker, who still managed to make sense after almost twelve hours on his feet.  No wonder the Young Gun Republicans in the Senate soon rallied to his cause.  (And no wonder the Old Gun Republicans went off to enjoy an expensive dinner with Barack Obama.)

In one staggering feat, Rand Paul demonstrated he is contender material for the 2016 presidential election.  Those who have been paying attention know that he has been angling in that direction for some months now, both by speaking up for Tea Party interests and by trying to convince both conservative and Progressive Jews alike that he does not share the disdain his father, Ron Paul, seems to feel for Israel.

These plays, however, were inside baseball stuff, with only political junkies paying attention to Paul’s Tea Party and Jewish outreach.  The general public, including the conservative-leaning general public, was not paying much attention.

That all changed yesterday, with Paul’s filibuster.  He really did channel Jimmy Stewart, in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington:  He was boyish look, deeply committed to the cause of truth and liberty, and still making sense after hours of talking.  Moreover, unlike Stewart, who was merely acting, Paul was really doing this.  The conservative side of the internet went wild.  This was Paul’s moment.  This was when he catapulted himself into being a national player.  Now the world — or, if not the world, America — will know that there is someone with political substance aiming to challenge Hillary’s almost inevitable 2016 run.

Except that’s not what happened.

Instead, of reporting honestly about one man’s impressive performance in the United States Senate, the mainstream, drive-by media did what it does best:  it pretended Paul’s epic filibuster never happened.  In some of the nation’s main newspapers, his dramatic stand for individual liberty didn’t even make the front page or, if it did, it was buried within another story about Senate business or was the subject of an attack about his being a dangerous loose cannon.

I hereby give you exhibits A, B, C, and D.  The print is small in all of these front page captures, but it’s still large enough for you to see what’s missing — any mention, especially approving mention, of Paul’s epic stand:

New York Times buries Rand Paul filibuster
Washington Post buries Rand Paul filibuster
Los Angeles Times buries Rand Paul filibuster
San Francisco Chronicle buries Rand Paul filibuster

The above front pages from some of the dominant newspapers in America provide a textbook example of mainstream media control over political dialogue in America. The media’s playbook is simple: For Democrats, elevate good stories and bury bad ones. For Republicans, elevate bad stories and bury good ones.

Because the drive-by media is no longer interested in reporting news, but only cares about obtaining outcomes, it is up to us — the Citizen Information Army, a CIA we hope John Brennan will never control — to offset the media hegemony.  We do this by elevating good stories about the Republicans and reporting on bad stories about the Democrats. We have our orders now. Let’s march!

UPDATE:  Don Quixote, who’s more aware of television than I am, told me that the Today Show this morning did do a fairly superficial segment on the filibuster.  Let’s hope it was better than CNN’s coverage.  Ed Driscoll caught the fact that, while CNN did provide some reporting the filibuster, including commentary from Reason’s Mike Rig, it still let its bias shine through.  Check out the chyron CNN applied to the tape of Paul talking:

Media Bias

Although subtle, Ed notes that these things matter: “[T]he Chyron is likely the only thing the now-proverbial low-information voter will take from Paul’s historic filibuster.”

Rand Paul Defends Constitution – Mounts Filibuster Against Drone Use *UPDATED*

RandFilibuster

It’s an iconic moment in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: a young, earnest Jimmy Stewart filibusters for hours, to the point of physical collapse, in order to prevent the Senate from passing an utterly corrupt piece of legislation.  Rand Paul took a page from this classic piece of Hollywood Americana and made it real.  As the Washington Times reported:

After years in the shadows, the administration’s secret drone program burst into very public view Wednesday with lawmakers grilling the attorney general over legal justification for targeted killings and Sen. Rand Paul launching an old-style one-man filibuster to demand answers from President Obama.

The Kentucky Republican held the floor for hours, effectively blocking a vote on the nomination of John O. Brennan, whom Mr. Obama has tapped to be CIA director. He said he would relent only if the administration publicly vowed not to target Americans on U.S. soil.

As Paul’s filibuster picked up speed, private emails, tweets, and Facebook posts flooded Mr. Conservative’s airways.  By the end of Paul’s epic 12 hour and 50 minute filibuster, which included reading from Alice in Wonderland, the verdict was in:

“History is being made.  Are you watching?” — private email

“I stand with Rand. What a country!” — Facebook post

“Rand Paul is starting to look like an important figure in history.” — Facebook post

“Thank you, SenRandPaul for literally standing up for liberty!” — tweet from John Maniscalco ‏@JohnRManiscalco

“Rand Paul. Stud. #StandWithRand” — tweet from Kurt Schlichter ‏@KurtSchlichter

“Rand Paul schooled the Senate and the country tonight.” Laura Ingraham ‏@IngrahamAngle

That sampling of just six highly approving statements comes from a pool of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of tweets and Facebook posts generated by delighted conservatives.

When Paul began his marathon run on the Senate floor, jaded politicians were unimpressed by what even Republicans viewed as a bit of political showboating.  After three hours, though, Republicans realized that they’d better get on the train or get out of the way.  One after another, they pledged their support to Paul as they made their way to the Senate floor.

Rand Paul

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was the first to get on board.  “Americans have every reason to be concerned any time the government wants to intrude on life, liberty or prosperity.  We’re talking here about the sanctity of human life.”

Lee was soon joined by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).  to his credit, Democrat Ron Wyden (Ore.) added his stamp of approval to Paul’s efforts, saying he “appreciated” that Paul was attempting to draw attention to the issue.

The issue in question is the fact that the Obama administration has given itself permission to use drones on American soil, in situations both real and hypothetical.  In response to a letter Paul sent him asking about drone use on American soil, Attorney General Eric Holder had conceded that there were hypothetical situations in which the executive office would have the right and the power to use a drone attack against an American citizen on American soil:

As members of this Administration have previously indicated, the U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. . . .

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront. it is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstances in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.

Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on his scope and authority.

Paul was not appeased by Holder’s statement that the president would use drones to executive people on American soil only in the event of a 9/11 type attack — that is, if the war was brought to America, rather than America heading overseas to a war.  Instead, Paul insisted that said he would only stop his filibuster when the president or Attorney General Eric Holder “put that in words” that they “will not kill non-enemy combatants” inside the United States.

Cliff notes version of drone debate

Although Paul did not get such a statement from either the president or Holder, he did manage to derail Sen. Leader Harry Reid’s plan to go forward with the vote on John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA. After five hours, Reid gave up and terminated proceedings for the day. He expressed the hope that a vote on Brennan could go forward on Thursday.

Conservatives are very dubious about Brennan’s nomination. During hearings, he showed himself to be both more intelligent and more capable than either John Kerry, who is now Secretary of State, or Chuck Hagel, who is now Secretary of Defense.

Brennan’s loyalties, however, are suspect. He spent many years in Saudi Arabia and seems to be almost too comfortable with that country, to the point that a rumors circulated claiming that he is a convert to Islam. To the extent that conservatives side with Israel, which is a free, and democratic society that strongly supports America, while Brennan’s allegiance seems to be to a series of Middle Eastern tyrannies that are extremely hostile to America, as well as to women, gays, Bahais, Christians, Jews, atheists, etc., having Brennan serve as head of the CIA is suboptimal.

Rand Paul filibusters Nobel Prize winners drone policy

The last time the Senate saw this type of “speaking” filibuster was in 2010 when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Ver.) held the floor for eight hours protesting legislation aimed at extending the Bush-era tax cuts. In defense of the fact that he lasted almost five hours less than Paul, Sanders is (and was then) a much older man.

It remains to be seen whether Paul’s heroics will have any effect on Brennan’s ultimate nomination (which most Republicans concede will happen whether they like it or not) or on the administration’s putative right to use drones on American soil. What is certain is that he has greatly raised his profile with American conservatives, libertarians and, possibly, undecideds.

Although he hasn’t said so explicitly, Paul has made no secret of the fact that he is eying a presidential run in 2016. He’s tried to position himself as the main Washington D.C. spokesman for Tea Party interests (small government conservativism) and has worked hard to allay conservative Jews’ fears that he shares his father’s (Ron Paul’s) apparent dislike for Israel — a dislike that attracted an unnerving number of neo-Nazi types to Ron Paul’s failed presidential bid.  If Paul is looking to bolster himself in conservative eyes, today’s performance, which challenged an administration that is greedy for executive power and generally expanded government, was a very good start.

It's right for the government to kill American citizens

(Written by Bookworm; originally posted at Mr. Conservative.)

UPDATE: Power Line suggests that there may be more than a little (extreme) libertarian opportunism in Paul’s filibuster. Having read what they have to say. Paul made wonderful points about liberty and small government, but he made those points in the service of the wrong cause.

Asserting executive privilege shows desperation in the Obama White House

Wow!

Wow!

From a lawyer’s point of view, it’s hard to imagine anything more stupid than for the Obama White House to assert executive privilege as to the Fast and Furious documents.  The subpoenaed documents must have some pretty damning information for the White House to make this move.

More than that, by having asserted the privilege, the lawyer-led White House showed either a profound misunderstanding of the nature of privilege or is conceding that the Fast and Furious scandal — which saw the Justice Department pour thousands of guns into criminal hands in Mexico, resulting in the murders of two American law enforcement officers and untold numbers of Mexican and American civilians — goes all the way up to the White House.

Wow!

If you’re wondering why those two conclusions (either the White House is dumb as a collective post or guilty as sin), here’s a little information about legal “privileges.”  Once a case is in the legal system, the law imposes upon each party a duty to reveal information, provided that the opposing party properly requests that information.  When I’m advising people who are contemplating litigation, I always warn them that filing suit means giving up lots of their privacy.  They’ll be required to turn over vast numbers of documents and to answer intrusive questions, provided that the other side can credibly show that the information sought is reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

A typical (and appropriate) discovery request might read “Please produce all communications between you and any realtors other than the defendant regarding the sale of your home at 123 Any Road in Nowhere Town.”  Those “communications” would cover writings, emails, phone messages, etc.  I’ve worked on cases that have involved the production of hundreds of thousands of pages, answers to hundreds of questions, and innumerable live depositions.

There are relationships, however, that the law considers so important it insulates from discovery or testimony any original communications between the parties to those relationships.  The law will not involve itself in trying to ferret out communications between a priest and a penitent, nor will it interfere with the bond between husband and wife.  Likewise, recognizing that an attorney cannot give counsel to a client without full and free communications between the two, the law protects any direct communications between an attorney and his client.

In my years as an attorney, I would have to say that “attorney client privilege” is the privilege I see asserted with the greatest frequency.  What I also see is lawyers who assert it in the hope that no one notices that a lawyer isn’t actually involved in the communication at issue — or, at least, wasn’t involved initially.

The deal is that you cannot shield otherwise unprivileged information by lodging it with your attorney.  For example, if your corporate client has a memo on file that says “I’ve got a great idea for defrauding our competitor,” your client cannot prevent the other side from discovering that document by mailing it to you, the lawyer, with a cover letter saying, “You need to know about this document.”  However, to the extent your client writes you a long letter explaining everything he knows about the case, good and bad, that letter to you is privileged.  In the same way, your response explaining the legal consequences of the events described in the letter is also privileged.

More simply put:  in order to assert any legal privilege, both of the parties covered under the privilege must have participated in the communication and must have exchanged original information that does not exist independent of the privilege.

Because of the way privilege operates, we can understand Obama’s assertion of executive privilege in only three ways.  (1) Obama’s White House was either involved in Fast and Furious, which is bad; (2) or it means that Obama’s White House doesn’t understand the nature of a privilege, which is embarrassing, especially with a lawyer at the helm; (3) or it means that the documents Holder is hiding are so dreadful that Obama’s White House would rather risk looking criminal or stupid than take the risk of allowing Congress and the public to see those documents.

No matter how you look at it, by inserting itself into this struggle between Holder’s Justice Department, on the one hand, and Congress, on the other hand, the White House made an already bad situation look much, much worse.

Who knew Eric Holder was a punster

Although the MSM has been ignoring it assiduously, people who do not limit their information consumption to the MSM know that Eric Holder, amongst his many sins, presided over Operation Fast and Furious, which shipped untraceable guns into Mexico.  These guns were subsequently responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, including, possibly, American border guards.  It was either a botched effort to catch drug runners, or an intentional effort to inflame American sensibilities about guns, in order to make it easier for the Obama administration to chip away at the Second Amendment.  Either way, it Operation Fast and Furious reflects very, very badly on Mr. Holder.

I therefore found it incredibly amusing when Holder defended himself recently to a Senate Judiciary Committee:

Embattled Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he has “stuck by my guns” during his time in office.

“I’ve enjoyed my time as attorney general,” he told the panel. “It’s been a tough job. It is one that takes a lot out of you. Some raised concerns as to whether I was tough enough for this job. I think that people will hopefully see that I’ve done this job in a way that is consistent with our values.”

He was responding to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) who asked Holder if he would consider serving a second term as attorney general if Obama is reelected.

“I stuck by my guns,” Holder continued. “I’ve been criticized a lot for the positions that I’ve taken. I’ve lost some. I’ve won more than I’ve lost. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done. More important, I’m proud of the 116,000 people in this United States Department of Justice. This has been the highlight of my career to have been the attorney general of the United States, to work with you all and to serve this president. What my future holds, frankly, I’m just not sure.”

The CNS column from which I quoted ended by pointing to Operation Fast and Furious, so I’m not the only one who found Holder’s language amusing.  The column, though, is more subtle than I, implying the same point that I am making front and center.

I’m sure a Freudian analyst would have a field day with Holder’s “stuck by my guns” statement.  As it is, I’ll just settle for expressing surprise at Holder’s puckish, pun-ish wit.

Except for the semantic giveaway indicating comfort with “brainwashing”, there’s nothing wrong with Holder’s 1995 speech about guns

Here’s the video in which Eric Holder ends by saying that we have to “brainwash” young people into new attitudes about guns:

I am no Eric Holder fan.  I think he’s very busy now trying to destroy both the Justice Department and the abstract notion of justice within the United States.  I would love to have caught him in a “gotcha” moment.  But the above video is not that moment.

Holder’s point is a good one, which is that our youth culture, especially our black youth culture, has long been inundated with images of guns, not as tools for food and safety, but as symbols of power.  Yes, guns do make one powerful.  That’s why women should look to guns for self-defense, because they do level the playing field.  But for many, many years, with ultra-liberal Hollywood accelerating the process in the last couple of decades, guns aren’t being sold to the youth of America as an integral part of the rights of free people, enabling them to feed themselves and stave off the attacks of the more powerful.  Instead, they’re about glamor and death, in a culture that has little value for human life.

Even Holder’s use of the word “brainwash,” which is not a high-use word in the conservative vocabulary, makes some sense in the context of his speech.  Hollywood is now and has been “brainwashing” America’s youth for decades, insofar as it has created an overwhelmingly pervasive and powerful paradigm about the glamor of guns, a paradigm that relies on emotional pressure to override all other considerations.  Reclaiming those damaged youthful brains is an effort.

So no, nothing Holder said is wrong.  Of course, what Holder’s done since that speech, especially in the form of Operation Fast and Furious is wrong, both morally and legally.  And you and I both know that Holder, given the chance would cheerfully do away with the Second Amendment without a moment of hesitation. To him, changing the gun culture means doing away with guns entirely, which is an impossible task because totalitarian governments and individual evil actors will always have guns.  To us, changing the gun culture means teaching people to revere their freedoms and to recognize that guns are an integral part of maintaining those freedoms — provided that our citizens understand that guns are tools, not deadly fashion accessories.