Reading over at PJ Media I ran across this by Robert Wargas:
As Baltimore burned, the rest of us tweeted.
The riots followed a weekend in which GoFundMe shut down a fundraising page for a Christian-owned bakery that was hit with a huge fine for refusing to serve a gay wedding. GoFundMe has said its policy precludes raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The key word here is “hateful”: if you can expand or contract that word at will—which many people in this country can and do—you can accomplish anything.
Every week this country is consumed in a new distended orgy of polarized, mutual hatred, set against the backdrop of outrage mobs, race riots, shuttered businesses, scandals, Twitter-induced career ruination, gleeful smear parties, and partisan hackery.
Admit it: You’ve asked yourself where America is going, and how long it can survive the trip. Admit it.
I admit it. In fact, we’ve been talking about it for years here. The fact that it is accelerating comes as no real surprise here. Nor does it come as a surprise that we have the “leadership”, or lack thereof, in Washington DC from which we currently suffer.
In fact, Wargas points out something that Ace at Ace of Spades was wondering the other day:
[T]he New Normal has prompted Ace of Spades to ask: “Is it time to formally separate America into two or more sovereign nations?”
“No one actually seems happy in this national marriage,” writes Ace. That is sadly true.
Indeed it is. And it seems, at least to the side that loves liberty, that the anti-liberty faction in winning.
Of course, our own Dale Franks has been suggesting this may happen for years. It sort of puts you in the same shoes as generations of Christians who’ve looked at what was happening all around them and asked “are we in the “end times” as foretold in the Bible?”
Are we at the edge of seeing this 200 plus year experiment go careening off a cliff?
Who knows? In my experience, something like this has to get a lot worse than it is for that to happen. And we have to remember that we’re bombarded daily with, well, what bleeds leads.
Certainly though, bombardment or not, it is clear that we’re not “doing better” as a country in just about any category you can point too.
The question is, as in our last civil war, are there irreconcilable differences? There certainly were then and it appears there are now. How does one paper over such differences when neither side seems willing to give?
I’m not so sure “getting better” is possible anymore, or at least not possible before some major rupture once again makes it possible. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I look back at this post in 2020 and laugh at myself. But who honestly thinks they’ll be laughing in 2020?
I’m not so sure either. However, here’s a little bit of a test to see if there’s even a chance. From Elizabeth Price Foley over at Insty’s:
LORETTA LYNCH’S FIRST TEST: She’s sending two DOJ officials to Baltimore to meet with community leaders. That’s good. But the real question is: What will they do and say, once they arrive? Will they mimic Erick Holder’s DOJ, and prioritize lectures about white privilege and racism? Or will they provide a voice of calm and reason, and unequivocally condemn the random violence?
Lynch has a chance to break with the embarrassingly biased Holder past and start rebuilding trust in DOJ as a department interested in actual justice (for all). Will she take it?
A couple of charts to keep in mind as the political season gets into second gear:
The top one, of course, shows who does and who doesn’t pay the bulk of the taxes. The “who does” is the top 1%. So we have Ms. 1% promising to go after the “rich” as one of the promises of her campaign. That after saying the Clinton Foundation plans to continue to take donations from foreign countries and that her campaign will indeed continue to accept corporate donations. I mean, she’s gotten away with the email scam so why not this too? Accountability – ha! They’re Clintons and accountability is for the “little people”.
The second shows the basic problem we suffer – our government spends more than it takes in. Seems to me that should be a pretty easy problem to solve. But obviously it’s not.
Alternate solution? Well Jeb Bush thinks its a great idea to raise the Social Security retirement age, because, you know, they haven’t screwed retirees enough when it comes to Social Security, so lets see if we can out wait them. He’s not alone. Chris Christie thinks 69 is about right.
Talk of real reform and cutting spending, all redundant programs, the size of the bureaucracy and unneeded departments? Yeah, these are big government guys no matter what lie they tell you. Much easier to kick the SS can down the road by raising the retirement age and having a good portion of those who paid into it for 40 to 50 years die before they receive a penny. Voila – savings! Thank you “suckers”.
Here’s what the Social Justice Warriors don’t understand. Discrimination is a part of individual freedom. And with that freedom to discriminate come consequences. It is like the right to free speech – you get to say what you want (other than incitement) and you get to pay the social and cultural consequences for doing so. What others don’t get to do, however, is force you to adopt their values and therefore coerce you to conform. That’s totalitarianism, not freedom.
Why force someone who disapproves of your actions to bake you a cake? Lots of other bakers would love the business. This debate has moved from inclusion to demanding that everyone adopt your values.
In a free country, bigots should have the right to be bigots. Americans should also have freedom of association.
American lawyers talk about special protection for religious freedom, and in the Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court said you could escape onerous parts of Obamacare by paying lawyers a fortune and convincing judges that you are a closely-held corporation with religious objections. But why must you be religious to practice what you believe? This should be about individual freedom.
Of course, government must not discriminate. The worst of American racism and homophobia—slavery, segregation enforced by Jim Crow laws, bans on interracial marriage, anti-sodomy laws, etc.—was government-enforced discrimination. That was wrong, and it was right for the federal government to intervene.
But private actions are different. If I start a business with my own money, I ought to be allowed to serve only libertarians, people who wear blue shirts, whatever. It’s my business!
My customers have choices. If I am racist or anti-gay, the free market will punish me. Enough people would boycott my business that I would probably lose money quickly.
Many important points.
“In a free country, bigots have the right to be bigots.” And they’ll pay the consequences of being bigots. How? See Stossel’s last paragraph. If an owner of a business is stupid enough to exclude a portion of his customer base out of plain bigotry (“no Irish allowed”) there are likely going to be enough of his “acceptable” customers offended by him that they’ll take their business elsewhere. The consequences of his bigotry will be a loss of business, loss of profit and likely a loss of social prestige. That’s how it works in a free country.
Also in a free country, what everyone should demand is “government must not discriminate …“. The onus of non-discrimination shouldn’t be on the individual forced by government, but on government as forced by the citizens of the land.
How these got flipped is a testament to the perseverance of those who would control your life (under the false guise of freedom) and the neglect of those who thought individual freedom would last forever. Just as free speech can sometimes be ugly, so can discrimination. Social and cultural change usually take care of those who are “ugly” by making them suffer the consequences of their ugliness. We’ve seen that proven any number of times.
What we’re now seeing is a back lash against the SJWs who would use the force of government to make the unwilling comply with their values.
We simply don’t need that if we’re willing to be patient:
Even in the difficult days of Reconstruction, after the Civil War, business began to bring together whites and blacks who might not always have liked each other but who wanted the best deals. It took several years for racists to get Jim Crow passed so they could put a stop to that erosion of the old racist ways. Government helped keep racism going for several more decades.
That last sentence is the key. Jim Crow laws were a product of government! What the civil rights laws did was essentially repeal government mandated discrimination. What we don’t need is a new series of laws that mandate behavior as they did then, even if the new laws are formed with teh best of intentions, they still require the force of government to enforce. And they’ll not be enforced fairly and, as they usually do, will be used to to absurd things to people.
Elizabeth Taylor married nine times. Had she married again, should the EEOC have ordered her to marry someone from an ethnic minority?
A homophobic baker shouldn’t stop a same-sex couple from getting married. Likewise, a gay couple shouldn’t force a baker to make them a wedding cake. No one should ever force anyone to bake them a cake.
Exactly. Here’s the bottom line:
Individuals should be allowed to discriminate. I discriminate all the time. I favor people over others when I choose my friends, jobs, hobbies, clubs, religion, etc. So do you.
Correct. And in a free country that is your inherent right, consequences included.
If you’re talking “regulatory law” it may very well be … or so Insty argues in his USA Today column:
Ignorance of the law, we are often told, is no excuse. “Every man is presumed to know the law,” says a long-established legal aphorism. And if you are charged with a crime, you would be well advised to rely on some other defense than “I had no idea that was illegal.”
But not everybody favors this state of affairs. While a century or two ago nearly all crime was traditional common-law crime — rape, murder, theft and other things that pretty much everyone should know are bad — nowadays we face all sorts of “regulatory crimes” in which intuitions of right and wrong play no role, but for which the penalties are high.
If you walk down the sidewalk, pick up a pretty feather, and take it home, you could be a felon — if it happens to be a bald eagle feather. Bald eagles are plentiful now, and were taken off the endangered species list years ago, but the federal law making possession of them a crime for most people is still on the books, and federal agents are even infiltrating some Native-American powwows in order to find and arrest people. (And feathers from lesser-known birds, like the red-tailed hawk are also covered). Other examples abound, from getting lost in a storm and snowmobiling on the wrong bit of federal land, to diverting storm sewer water around a building.
Laws are proliferating like fleas and those are the ones that are actually passed by legislatures. Regulatory law, on the other hand, is law created
“Regulatory crimes” of this sort are incredibly numerous and a category that is growing quickly. They are the ones likely to trap unwary individuals into being felons without knowing it. That is why Michael Cottone, in a just-published Tennessee Law Review article, suggests that maybe the old presumption that individuals know the law is outdated, unfair and maybe even unconstitutional. “Tellingly,” he writes, “no exact count of the number of federal statutes that impose criminal sanctions has ever been given, but estimates from the last 15 years range from 3,600 to approximately 4,500.” Meanwhile, according to recent congressional testimony, the number of federal regulations (enacted by administrative agencies under loose authority from Congress) carrying criminal penalties may be as many as 300,000.
And it gets worse. While the old-fashioned common law crimes typically required a culpable mental state — you had to realize you were doing something wrong — the regulatory crimes generally don’t require any knowledge that you’re breaking the law. This seems quite unfair. As Cottone asks, “How can people be expected to know all the laws governing their conduct when no one even knows exactly how many criminal laws exist?”
Or bothers to acquaint the public with these laws and their penalties?
Most of these laws, as Reynolds points out, are “(enacted by administrative agencies under loose authority from Congress) carrying criminal penalties” that even Congress dosen’t know about. Imagine a body of law and penalties that are simply made up by regulatory agencies numbering 300,000. That’s absurd!
Don’t expect to be saved by “prosecutorial discretion” if someone in government is out to get you either.
Of course, we may hope that prosecutorial discretion will save us: Just explain to the nice prosecutor that we meant no harm, and violated the law by accident, and he or she will drop the charges and tell us to be more careful next time. And sometimes things work that way. But other times, the prosecutors are out to get you for your politics, your ethnicity, or just in order to fulfill a quota, in which case you will hear that the law is the law, and that ignorance is no excuse. (Amusingly, government officials who break the law do get to plead ignorance and good intentions, under the doctrine of good faith “qualified immunity.” Just not us proles.)
It’s “us proles” who need to be worried about this. We’re the ones who will feel the full weight of these laws when they’re enforced. We aren’t politically important enough for prosecutorial discretion to be exercised. And that’s the way it always is.
This is the absurdity of our government (or any government) fundamentally ignoring the fairly strict guidelines of the Constitution and changing its mission from one of the protection of rights (and the few laws that requires) to that of governing our every move for the “common good” (as defined by … itself).
Dr. Thomas Sowell says in reality it is a very simple question and it is questions like this one that completely undo Hillary Clinton supporters.
Question: What has Ms. Clinton ever accomplished?
<crickets> <subject change>
It is indeed a simple question. And the answer:
For someone who has spent her entire adult life in politics, including being a Senator and then a Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has nothing to show for all those years — no significant legislation of hers that she got passed in the Senate, and only an unbroken series of international setbacks for the United States during her time as Secretary of State.
Or said another way, nothing. Nothing of note, nothing of substance. The fact that she’s been in the public eye longer than Barack Obama doesn’t change the fact that she’s essentially the female version of him.
Before Barack Obama entered the White House and appointed Mrs. Clinton Secretary of State, Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq had notified their higher ups, stationed in Pakistan, that their cause was lost in Iraq and that there was no point sending more men there.
Hosni Mubarak was in charge in Egypt. He posed no threat to American or Western interests in the Middle East or to Christians within Egypt or to Israel. But the Obama administration threw its weight behind the Muslim Brotherhood, which took over and began terrorizing Christians in Egypt and promoting hostility to Israel.
In Libya next door, the Qaddafi regime had already given up its weapons of mass destruction, after they saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. But President Obama’s foreign policy, carried out by Secretary of State Clinton, got Qaddafi removed, after which Libya became a terrorist haven where an American ambassador was killed, for the first time in decades.
The rationale for getting rid of Middle East leaders who posed no threat to American interests was that they were undemocratic and their people were restless. But there are no democracies in the Middle East, except for Israel. Moreover, the people were restless in Iran and Syria, and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy did nothing to support those who were trying to overthrow these regimes.
I guess, in a way, these are “accomplishments”, but certainly not the type any presidential candidate would want to highlight. Between she and that bumbling fool in the White House, they’ve managed to wipe out anything that remotely resembled stability in the region. Each and every time the dynamic duo made the wrong call. Every. Single. Time.
It would be only fair to balance this picture with foreign policy triumphs of the Obama-Clinton team. But there are none. Not in the Middle East, not in Europe, where the Russians have invaded the Crimea, and not in Asia, where both China and North Korea are building up threatening military forces, while the Obama administration has been cutting back on American military forces.
And then there is Iran … and Israel. Yemen, the crown-jewel of validation for our “counter-terrorism” plan has imploded. And the last great hope in the region for any progress rests with … France?
This is what Ms. Clinton, et. al. have left the American people. And sane and reasoning people know that.
However it isn’t inclusive of all of who will be picking President 45, is it?
Hillary Clinton became an iconic figure by feeding the media and the left the kind of rhetoric they love. Barack Obama did the same and became president. Neither had any concrete accomplishments besides rhetoric beforehand, and both have had the opposite of accomplishments after taking office.
They have something else in common. They attract the votes of those people who vote for demographic symbolism — “the first black president” to be followed by “the first woman president” — and neither to be criticized, lest you be denounced for racism or sexism.
It is staggering that there are sane adults who can vote for someone to be President of the United States as if they are in school, just voting for “most popular boy” or “most popular girl” — or, worse yet, voting for someone who will give them free stuff.
Suck it up you racist and sexist neanderthals. It is no longer about competence and accomplishment. It is about gender, race and free stuff. Your “free” stuff.
Executive and regulatory over reach, aka trashing the Constitution? Even Lawrence Tribe has problems with the Obama agenda:
As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.
In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.
Mr. Tribe’s testimony — with which other legal scholars strongly disagreed during Tuesday’s hearing — comes about a month before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case that challenges EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which would limit pollution from both new and existing power plants and is designed to reduce coal use across the country.
“EPA’s proposal raises grave constitutional questions, exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and violates the Clean Air Act,” said Mr. Tribe, who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times and represented Al Gore in the case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election.
“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta — usurping the prerogatives of the states, the Congress and the federal courts all at once,” he continued. “Burning the Constitution of the United States … cannot be a part of our national energy policy.”
On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.
“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election. As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” Simas said.
Hillary Clinton continues to be a dominant force heading into the 2016 presidential election, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The former secretary of state maintains a broad lead over the field of potential Democratic challengers she could face in a nomination contest and sizable advantages over the leading contenders from the Republican side in general election match-ups.
Hopefully, given Hillary’s latest scandal, Al Gore will be the only thing left standing on the Democratic side when the election rolls around. Because, well, because the Democrats deserve him. And Ezra Klein is all for him filling in for the “inevitable one.”
But that’s not my main subject today. Two notes of interest that are likely to get the short shrift in the press with all the usual nonsense flying around.
Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide did not rise last year for the first time in 40 years without the presence of an economic crisis. “This is a real surprise. We have never seen this before,” said IEA chief economist, Fatih Birol, named recently as the agency’s next executive director.
So here is what is likely to happen. With this bit of news, you can expect to see a huge push by the Chicken Little contingent to claim credit and victory. Why see what they’ve done! Never mind the fact that the temperature hasn’t risen in over 10 years and forget about that brutal winter you’ve just survived. We’re winning against “global warming”.
Trust me … you’ll see it soon. Of course there will be no science to support their claims, but then that’s nothing new, is it?
Meanwhile, in the face of all that, Japan is increasing its use of coal as it continues to replace nuclear energy and we’re in the midst of an oil glut that doesn’t appear ready to tail off anytime soon.
“Yet US supply so far shows precious little sign of slowing down. Quite to the contrary, it continues to defy expectations,” said the IEA in its monthly Oil Market Report, which sharply revised up its output estimates for the end of last year and forecasts for the begging of 2015.
With US crude stocks striking all-time records, it noted storage capacity limits may soon be tested.
So cheap gas? Oh, yes, much cheaper than the Obama Administration and the Greenies would like.
The question then is with an abundance of cheap gas and other petro products, no warming in over 10 years and evidence that we’re not increasing the CO2 emissions, how inclined to you think the average joe is going to be to change his habits?
Yeah, not very. In fact, my guess is he’ll be quite resistant to the idea as he tools around in his SUV.
So, please, bring on the Goracle.
We need the entertainment.
A “told you so” follow up on that $15 minimum wage hike in Seattle (and coming to San Francisco soon):
Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law goes into effect on April 1, 2015. As that date approaches, restaurant across the city are making the financial decision to close shop. The Washington Policy Center writes that “closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.”
Of course, restaurants close for a variety of reasons. But, according to Seattle Magazine, the “impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour” is playing a “major factor.” That’s not surprising, considering “about 36% of restaurant earnings go to paying labor costs.” Seattle Magazine,
“Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”
“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.
“With the minimum wage spike, however, he says that if restaurant owners made no changes, the labor cost in quick service restaurants would rise to 42 percent and in full service restaurants to 47 percent.”
Key quote: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.” Of course it is a “political problem” because it is clueless politics that pushed this. However, for the owners, it is indeed a “math problem”. And the math for staying open doesn’t add up.
Are there alternatives to closing. Sure. But they’re the same ones we’ve talked about for years:
Restaurant owners, expecting to operate on thinner margins, have tried to adapt in several ways including “higher menu prices, cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, reduced opening times, and cutting work hours and firing workers,” according to The Seattle Times and Seattle Eater magazine. As the Washington Policy Center points out, when these strategies are not enough, businesses close, “workers lose their jobs and the neighborhood loses a prized amenity.”
Welcome to the land of $17 dollar cheeseburger. And, as you can figure out fairly quickly, everything else will be more expensive too … which, of course, erodes the purchasing power of that $15 wage. More importantly, if you work for one of those establishments that is closing, your wage is $15 times zero hours, isn’t it?
Or so the most recent Gallup poll says:
Yes, that’s right – climate change.
Notice the top “problem”, and apparently increasingly seen as such by more and more Americans.
Notice also that every other problem listed is one in which government has at least a finger in if not stuck in it up to the elbow.
Our public education system is not good – it’s run by the government. Our federal budget is a disaster – government ill-discipline. Foreign policy doesn’t exist – government malfeasance. Terrorism is increasing – government ineptitude. National security at risk – government incompetence. Race relations – government partisan bias. Poverty – government enabling. And healthcare – don’t even get me started. Etc. etc.
Every “problem” under the top problem have become more of a problem because of government meddling, incompetence, over-reach, bumbling, malfeasance or partisan bias.
And yet one of Obama’s stated goals as president was to again make big government “cool”.
Well, heck of a job there, Barack.
You know, anymore you have to wait a couple of days for the hysteria to settle before you can figure out what may or may not have happened. And unfortunately, our “National Enquirer” media is usually the leaders of the hysteria.
This supposed “treasonous” letter, for instance. Finally, Jennifer Rubin lends a little sanity to what have been the equivalent of click bait headlines these past few days.
[T]he letter was “open” — that is, akin to an op-ed, not dropped in the mail with a Tehran address. This is not a private negotiation or even a message primarily to the Iranians; it was a statement concerning the president’s powers, in contravention of prior promises, to make an critically important deal without Congress. It was unfortunate that it was not instead a letter to the editor or the president; the content would have been the same and Democrats would have been deprived of a silly but unifying talking point. But let’s get to the reason it had to be sent in the first place. As Jeb Bush noted in a statement, “The Senators are reacting to reports of a bad deal that will likely enable Iran to become a nuclear state over time. They would not have been put in this position had the Administration consulted regularly with them rather than ignoring their input.”
Can’t begin to see how that measures up to “treason”. I can see how the subversion of the Constitution could lead in that direction though.
Second it is a warning to Iran to deal straight with the President:
Republicans are saying to the mullahs they’d better not sucker the president into a sweetheart deal because ultimately that deal will have to pass muster with Congress. Any savvy negotiator would use that to say to the mullahs they need to deliver more, not less, because of the ornery lawmakers. But Obama is so determined to give the mullahs whatever they demand he cannot recognize bargaining leverage when it is staring him in the face. It is only when you are trying to give away the store that you consider a letter warning the mullahs the bar will be high for a deal to be “sabotage.”
So instead, it’s backing this
idiot’s sucker’s President’s play. They’ve actually managed to give Obama some leverage and Obama is rejecting it for heaven sake.
The letter was meant to highlight a point about which critics have not quarreled: The president can have a binding treaty with Senate approval, or he can have an executive agreement that may be null and void when he leaves office. (If he has told the Iranians otherwise, either he is confused or he is selling snake oil.)
Got that? Deal straight and make the sort of deal we will approve in the Senate.
But, as Rubin points out, there’s a bigger question:
What does the president think he is negotiating if he intends to keep Congress in the dark and present a fait accompli?
Does he understand that if he thinks its a “treaty” and it doesn’t go before (and get passed by) the Senate, it isn’t worth a war bucket of spit? I mean, he may have a pen and a phone, but he can’t agree to a treaty without Congress’s okay no matter how hard he tries to pretend he can.
Which may necessitate some more “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” reasoning from Democrats.
There’s the story.
So, in terms of the letter, another partisan tempest in a teapot.
Meanwhile, the big Constitutional question mostly gets ignored.