Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: June 29, 2010

Dale’s Observations For 2010-06-29

Listening to Alex Jones on Opie & Anthony. Wow! EVERYTHING is a conspiracy to this guy! #

Kagan vows to keep politics, judging separate. And you can believe as much of that as you please. http://usat.me?39067172 #

Apparently, "Ur doin it wrong" fails as an excuse for iPhone4 antenna problems, so lawsuits begin brewing. http://bit.ly/bbjoTz #

If China negotiates a trade deal with Taiwan, is that a de facto recognition of Taiwan as an independent state? http://bit.ly/cHg4tK #

Kagan quickly backpedaled from her past call for nominees to speak more openly about their constitutional views. Haha! http://bit.ly/aMbhsH #

Kagan affirms her belief in a "living constitution", i.e., one that means whatever she wishes at a given time. http://bit.ly/cTtJWP #

Democrats seek "macaca" moments on Republicans. They're not even pretending to have plausible policies any more. http://bit.ly/9MRgTb #

Mayors Daley & Bloomberg read Supreme Court's 2nd Amendment ruling, shrug, and say "So what?" http://bit.ly/9KQuSm #

Meat-flavored vodkas? I thought fruit flavors were bad enough. http://bit.ly/cXTb7f #

Consumer confidence plunges in June, as Biden's "summer of recovery" begins. http://bit.ly/azyuxJ #

Uninformed, ignorant and living 30 years in the past

That’s about the nicest thing I can say about Courtland Milloy’s screed in the Washington Post. Entitled "Tolerance of white militias exemplifies the racial double standard", Milloy tries his best – which is none to impressive – to whip up a little racial hatred and divisiveness.

His two tools to lend credibility to his poorly constructed argument are the Southern Poverty Law Center, which sees a right wing conspiracy and racial hatred behind every corner, and a special Chris Matthews did – Chris Matthews – on Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia.

Matthews special was entitled "The rise of the new right", but there’s nothing especially new about the SMVM. It has been around since at least 2002 and their website openly announces ("On line since 02/02/02").

Apparently the SMVM also saw some potential problems in perhaps, oh I don’t know, 9/11?  And it existed through most of the Bush presidency which, one would guess, would mean race has nothing to do with their existence or they’re wildly colorblind and just didn’t know that George Bush was a cracker.

Milloy claims:

Maybe Obama is just being savvy by not coming down hard on the militia. As Potok said, "There’s a huge amount of anger, and what we are really lacking at this moment is a kind of spark." In an apparent attempt to defuse the tension, Obama does such things as supporting a U.S. Supreme Court decision crippling D.C.’s gun control law and then signs a bill that allows visitors to national parks to carry guns.

Potok, of course, is with the SPLC and while he certainly is correct in pointing out there is a “huge amount of anger”, the implication that it is racially based and found solely on the right is simply unsupportable.  MIlloy is also obviously one of those who believes that only government should have guns.

And speaking of double standards, Milloy somehow forgot to mention the Obama DoJ’s decision not to prosecute a well-known black militia, the New Black Panthers, for obvious (it’s on film) voter intimidation in Philadelphia during the last presidential election.

He finishes with this:

Still, gun advocates keep him in their sights. They show up outside presidential town hall meetings brandishing firearms. When a young black man, identified only as Chris, showed up at one such event with a rifle strapped to his back, white protesters cited him as proof that race had nothing to do with their contempt for Obama.

But they missed the point.

Had the black rifleman showed for, say, Ronald Reagan’s "states’ rights" speech in Philadelphia, Miss., back in 1980, they might still be dredging the Pearl River for his remains.

Really?  From Philadelphia, MS to Philadelphia, PA – we’ve come a long way haven’t we Mr. Milloy.  If this is the best you can muster to keep the fires of racial hatred stoked, it’s going to be a long, cold winter for you, isn’t it?

~McQ

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Second Amendment Decision Cheered By … Democrats?

The follow-up Supreme Court decision to Heller that was handed down yesterday marked a significant point in Second Amendment history. And that has not just gun-rights advocates jumping for joy, but also Democrats:

For them, the court’s groundbreaking decision couldn’t have been more beneficial to the cause in November. Now, Democratic candidates across the map figure they have one less issue to worry about on the campaign trail. And they won’t have to defend against Republican attacks over gun rights and an angry, energized base of gun owners.

“It removes guns as a political issue because everyone now agrees that the Second Amendment is an individual right and everybody agrees that it’s subject to regulation,” said Lanae Erickson, deputy director of the culture program at the centrist think tank Third Way.

A House Democratic aide agreed that the court’s decision removed a potentially combustible element from the mix.

“The Supreme Court ruled here that you have a fundamental right to own and bear arms, and that means at the national level it’s harder – whether it’s Republicans or whether it’s the [National Rifle Association] – to throw that claim out: if Democrats are in charge they’re going to come get your guns,” said the aide. “It pretty much took that off the table.”

Despite the fact that there are a fair number of pro-gun Democrats in Congress, members of the Donkey Party are typically slammed as “gun-grabbers” in close elections. With the decision in McDonald, that issue is basically moot for Democrats running red or purple districts.

The likely removal—or at least neutralization—of the gun issue this fall is of no small matter in the battle for the House and Senate. The Democratic majorities in both chambers were built, in part, on victories in pro-gun states and districts that had until recently been difficult terrain for Democratic candidates as a result of the national party’s position on gun control.

[…]

For congressional Democrats—especially those in seats outside major metropolitan areas where support for gun rights runs high—the ruling offered a chance to assert their pro-gun bona fides.

[…]

John Anzalone, a prominent Alabama-based pollster with a roster of Southern Democratic clients, called it a “win, win, win, win” situation for everyone—and above all, “for conservative Democrats who will be able to use it as a credential that they’re conservative. This is a tough political environment; you’re going to see Southern, Western Democrats use it and stand up for gun rights.”

Unfortunately for the Democrats, gun rights issues weren’t likely to be very high on the list of grievances redressed at the ballot box this Fall. Mired in the middle of the Great Recession, economic issues will be paramount in November, especially on jobs and tax policy.

In fact, although Democrats are cheering the absence of Second Amendment posturing thanks to McDonald, to the extent such issue would have been raised, it would have served as a distraction from the core concerns of voters. Now, with that issue off the table, the Democratic spending policies are cast in stark relief. While out on the hustings, they will be forced to answer for their support of ObamaCare, Stimulus, Cap and Trade, Finreg and the rest of the Democratic agenda that’s done nothing to help the economy, and sure looks like it may have done much to hinder it.

In political time, November 2nd is an eternity away. There is really no telling what might happen between now and then that might influence various elections, whether on a national or local level. Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats were wishing they had the distraction of gun-rights issues this Fall instead of being forced to face the economic policy music. It will be a baleful tune.

Russia is not our friend – part XVII

Russian spies?

Really?

Apparently so, or at least the FBI is convinced that 11 people it has arrested were indeed spies and they were spying for Russia.  Apparently the KGB’s successor, the SVR, just couldn’t help itself and places at least 5 couples in the US in deep cover.

The arrests were made after President Obama had a seemingly warm, back-slapping, hamburger eating meeting with Russian President Medvedev.  We’re told that Obama was not happy with the timing of the arrests (is there ever a good time?), but that the FBI feared their spies were about to bolt.

The arrests came after years of surveillance.  And, according to what has been released, if they weren’t spies, they certainly acted like them:

Criminal complaints filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday read like an old-fashioned cold war thriller: Spies swapping identical orange bags as they brushed past one another in a train station stairway. An identity borrowed from a dead Canadian, forged passports, messages sent by shortwave burst transmission or in invisible ink. A money cache buried for years in a field in upstate New York.

But the network of so-called illegals — spies operating under false names outside of diplomatic cover — also used cyber-age technology, according to the charges. They embedded coded texts in ordinary-looking images posted on the Internet, and they communicated by having two agents with laptops containing special software pass casually as messages flashed between them.

Their mission, according to the FBI, was to “penetrate American policy making circles”, something ordinary Americans have been trying to do for years.

Specifically they were to, “gather information on nuclear weapons, American policy toward Iran, C.I.A. leadership, Congressional politics and many other topics.”

One old KGB general was a little shocked at the size of the operation:

“The magnitude, and the fact that so many illegals were involved, was a shock to me,” said Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who was a Soviet spy in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s under “legal” cover as a diplomat and Radio Moscow correspondent. “It’s a return to the old days, but even in the worst years of the cold war, I think there were no more than 10 illegals in the U.S., probably fewer.”

I’m not particularly shocked – this isn’t anything particularly surprising at all.  We’re talking about Russia here – a country that still resents the US and isn’t a friend, despite all the smiles, visits and hamburgers shared.

It’ll be interesting to watch how the administration reacts to this.  True, these folks were put in place when Bush was enamored with Pootie Poot, but supposedly the relationship is much closer and has been ‘reset’.

Apparently no one told the Russians that “reset” is supposed to work both ways?

~McQ

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Is Financial Regulation imperiled with Byrd’s death?

In a word, ‘yes’.  Byrd was a yea vote.  And Senator Russ Feingold has just announced he’s a nay vote.  It also appears Sen. Scott Brown is heading toward the nay side of things.  And Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, has been against the bill for some time.

This has all left Kevin Drum unamused:

But seriously: WTF? This is the final report of a conference committee. There’s no more negotiation. It’s an up-or-down vote and there isn’t going to be a second chance at this. You either vote for this bill, which has plenty of good provisions even if doesn’t break up all the big banks, or else you vote for the status quo. That’s it. That’s the choice. It’s not a game. It’s not a time for Feingold to worry about his reputation for independence. It’s a time to make a decision between actively supporting something good and actively supporting something bad. And Feingold has decided to actively support something bad.

What’s more, his reasons for doing this don’t even make sense. This bill won’t prevent another crisis? No it won’t, but voting for the status quo does even less. It doesn’t break up the big banks? The status quo does even less. It suffers from too much lobbyist influence? Well, Wall Street lobbyists are far more enthusiastic about the status quo than they are about this bill. There are only two choices available here, and on virtually every level Feingold is voting in favor of the alternative that does less of what he says he wants.

The old “principle vs. pragmatism” argument.  When Feingold does this when a GOP bill is on the floor, it’s principle.  But when something left is wanting is imperiled by Feingold’s principled stand (whether you agree with his principles or not), they argue for pragmatism, the old “something is better than nothing” bit.

Well, most of the time something isn’t better than nothing.  That’s one of the reasons we’re in the legal hell we suffer under now.  Because bad law has been championed – by both sides – as something which is better than nothing.  Me?  I’ve always been in favor of the “get it right the first time or don’t do it” argument.

That’s not to say I’m in favor of this bill or any of the other attempts to regulate the financial end of things (I’d much rather see the government get its house in order first – probably an impossible task).  But it is instructive to watch the legislative sausage making process proceed and to understand that within that process, “principle” is more of an excuse than a guiding light.

~McQ

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