Thursday, April 26, 2018

7 Forces Driving America Toward Civil War

7 Forces Driving America Toward Civil War
by John Hawkins 

I was interviewed by a mainstream media reporter yesterday. I thought he wanted to talk tech issues, but we actually spent almost the entire conversation discussing the feeling that many conservatives have that America has gone off the tracks and is headed toward dissolution or alternately, a civil war one day. Obviously, this would be a terrible thing and ironically, twenty years ago, it would have been laughable. Today, the joke isn’t so funny because we are a deeply unhealthy society with a dysfunctional government and for all our money, success and storied history, we seem to be on an increasingly dangerous trajectory. 

1) A Post-Constitutional Era: Liberals don’t believe in the Constitution. Typically they deny this, but that’s exactly what a “living” Constitution means. You make it up as you go along. The Founders foresaw the instability and danger that would be created by this approach, which is why they wanted us to be a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Unfortunately, America has in many ways already become a post-constitutional democracy and we’re one liberal judge away from abandoning the Constitution altogether. Once we get to that point, America just becomes the representation of that old saying, “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner.” Of course people are not lambs and when large numbers of them believe they aren’t being treated fairly, they do have the option of getting away from the wolves. 


2) Tribalism: The “you only have to listen to people you already agree with” nature of social media has dramatically ramped up the level of tribalism in the United States. The Right has gotten much more tribal since Donald Trump rose to prominence and the Left has taken tribalism into hyper-drive. Increasingly, liberals treat a range of opinion between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton as legitimate while everyone else is viewed as a white supremacist Nazi primitive that must be driven down into the gutter for society to move forward. This makes any sort of dialogue or cooperation nearly impossible. When every issue is a zero sum war where one tribe must win or lose, a lot of people quite understandably ask, “What do we gain by staying allied to this other tribe?” 

3) Federal Government Too Powerful: Federalism is a safety valve on the American pressure cooker. As long as people in San Francisco can, for the most part, live the way they want to live while the people in rural North Carolina can, for the most part, live the way they want to live, it’s much easier for everyone to get along. When people are unnecessarily forced to live under rules they find abhorrent because the federal government has become an octopus that has inserted its tentacles into every minute crevice of American life, it creates discontent on a wide scale. If most Americans wanted to live like people in San Francisco, they’d live in San Francisco. 


4) Moral Decline: As Samuel Adams once noted, “A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”

A large number of Americans HAVE LOST their principles, manners and virtue and it shows through from the sort of politicians they elect, to their rudeness online, to the sort of shallow hedonism and fame whoring they find appealing. Americans are increasingly becoming a soft and decadent people which is problematic because the challenges may change, but we can be certain that Americans will face future challenges every bit as difficult as the ones past generations had to tackle. This is frightening because if you look at the “principles, manners and virtue” of Americans today, they don’t seem capable of dealing with monumental events like the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Depression or World War II. Most people in their twenties probably couldn’t tell you why all those events were such challenges in the first place. When America faces a challenge bigger than we can handle because of ineffective politicians and our “amusing ourselves to death” population, there are no guarantees our republic will survive.  


5) The Debt: America is a freight train heading toward a cliff, but because we’re not moving toward the edge at lightning speed, no one seems all that concerned. However, the fact of the matter is that a reckoning is coming. At some point, probably within the next decade or two, we will face a debt-driven economic collapse; borrowed money will stop flowing into the United States and Medicare/Social Security as we know it will fall apart because we will not have the money to pay it. If and when we get to that point, all bets are off because if regions of the country see an advantage to splitting off from the United States at that point, they will do it. 

6) Lack Of A Shared Culture: There has never been a time when American culture was more fragmented than it is today. By that, I mean that there are legions of people with millions of fans or followers on the Internet that the vast majority of Americans have never heard of in their lives. We don’t have that shared love of anybody or for that matter, anything. Conservatives and liberals disagree on economics (capitalist/socialist), religion (friendly to Christianity/hostile to Christianity), the Constitution (support/believe in a living Constitution i.e. no Constitution), etc., on and on. The average conservative and the average liberal disagree on 95% of the issues and in the few limited cases where they do look at things the same, they won’t support a proposal by the other out of sheer tribalism. Over the long haul, there has be something more to hold a country together than, “We wear Nikes, like pop music and play golf.” 


7) Gun Grabbing:  Liberals have fallen in love with the idea of ignoring the 2nd Amendment and confiscating all firearms. The logistics of doing this in a nation with hundreds of millions of guns (many of which are off the books) when many police departments and tens of millions of Americans would not cooperate is seldom discussed. Another thing that seldom seems brought up is that large numbers of conservatives would see this as a prelude to the government’s use of force against the citizenry. When it is discussed on the Left, there seems to be an assumption that lone resisters might get into firefights with dozens of police or soldiers, as opposed to ganging up with other formerly law-abiding Americans to waylay gun confiscators, politicians and anti-gun activists at THEIR HOMES in guerrilla actions that would be silently applauded and supported by hundreds of millions of Americans concerned about their freedom. Confiscating guns is a dangerous and stupid idea that could in and of itself end our republic if a serious attempt were ever made to implement it. 

https://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2018/04/21/draft-n2473193

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

AN ANNIVERSARY OBSERVED

AN ANNIVERSARY OBSERVED

Today is the 40th anniversary of when Bill Clinton, then the Attorney General of Arkansas, allegedly raped Juanita Broaddrick. Ms. Broaddrick noted the anniversary with a series of tweets that comprise a timeline of that day’s events. It starts innocuously:
Things went South rather quickly:
Of course, Horndog Bill wasn’t interested in the info she had brought:
It gets worse from there. Ms. Broaddrick has told this story consistently and unwaveringly for decades. She concluded her Twitter series with this:
There were no witnesses. We can all draw our own conclusions. But I have always thought that she is telling the truth. Ms. Broaddrick spent the rest of the day responding to vicious personal attacks by Democrats (as she was when she allegedly was raped by Bill Clinton) on Twitter. The “#MeToo” movement has not been heard from.
Bill Clinton has moved on. As the Democrats’ hero and most effective spokesman, he served two terms as President. In retirement, he has been a frequent guest on the Lolita Express. In the Democratic Party, it is no longer a liability to be named in newspaper headlines along with “Under Age Sex Slaves.” Had Clinton’s wife not been a uniquely inept presidential candidate, Bill Clinton would be living (occasionally, anyway) in the White House. The corruption of the Democratic Party continues apace.

10 NOTES ON THE COMEY MEMOS

10 NOTES ON THE COMEY MEMOS

Former FBI Director James Comey documented his conversations with President Trump in seven memos (15 pages in all) produced in redacted form by the Department of Justice to Congress last week. I am embedding them below. I want to offer a few, mostly obvious notes and queries on the memos. I think they warrant your attention. Except as part of the perpetual Trump hatefest on CNN and MSNBC, insufficient attention has been paid to the memos. I urge you to take a look and draw your own conclusions.
1. These memos were requested by Congress last year and should have been released long ago. Why were they kept under wraps for so long? I haven’t seen a good explanation.
2. I think that President Trump has fairly observed the Comey memos demonstrate “NO COLLUSION” and “NO OBSTRUCTION.” The New York Times’s Michael Schmidt mostly overlooks this aspect of the memos, for example, in his six takeaways. By contrast, Politifact argues expressly to the contrary while giving Trump a Pants on Fire rating. I rate Politifact Pants Full of It.
3. One of the headings of Schmidt’s six takeaways asserts that the Steele Dossier’s allegations were corroborated. That is not quite right. Comey makes the assertion in the context of his justification for briefing Trump on the dossier’s most lurid story. Comey asserts: “I explained that the analysts from all three agencies agreed it was relevant and that portions of the material were corroborated by other intelligence.” Portions of the material were corroborated — that’s it. What portions? Comey hasn’t said and we don’t know, although he has testified under oath that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.” (Politifact argueswith this point as well.) I think the “corroboration” to which Comey was referring is the intelligence assessment that Russia sought to interfere with the presidential election. Big whoop.
4. Comey’s reference to “corroboration” reflects Comey papering the record to justify himself. It is the weasel defending his weaselly actions. Mollie Hemingway establishes this point to my satisfaction in “Comey dossier memos indicate briefing of Trump was a setup.” Incidentally, did Comey know that the dossier was procured and paid for by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign? We know that he didn’t tell Trump that it was.
5. The memos convict Comey in his own words. He quotes himself telling Trump: “I don’t do sneaky things, I don’t leak, I don’t do weasel moves.” Yet Comey turned over four of the memos to his Columbia Law School friend Daniel Richman to be leaked to the New York Times. He is sneaky, he leaks, he does weasel moves.
6. Comey characterizes the memos as his personal property. Yet they were prepared on the clock in his capacity as FBI Director to memorialize conversations held with the president in his official capacity. If those memos are his personal property, I’ll eat my hat.
7. Four of the memos are marked classified. Comey may have turned over classified information to Richman. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Justice Inspector General is probing Comey’s conduct on this point. Neither the facts nor the law is clear to me on this point. See the excellent columns by Jonathan Turley (the column needs some editing) and Eric Felten.
8. When he testified before Congress under oath, Comey failed to name Richman. He simply described him as his friend on the faculty at Columbia Law School — the friend to whom he had given a memo to be leaked to the Times and arouse a furor that would lead to the appointment of a Special Counsel. I infer that Richman was not representing Comey at the time that Comey gave him the memos to be leaked to the Times. Why didn’t Comey leak the memo(s) himself? We still don’t know.
9. Richman has since turned up as one of the attorney’s representing Comey in his dealings with the Special Counsel. Hillary Clinton taught the old dog some new tricks. Nobody here but us chickens!
10. Is the president entitled to the confidentiality of conversations with the senior officers of his administration? I think he is. Comey does not. Comey is unconstrained by the rules that govern mere mortals.
Comey Memos by Scott Johnson on Scribd

JACK GOLDSMITH ON THE DEEP STATE

JACK GOLDSMITH ON THE DEEP STATE

Jack Goldsmith, writing in the Guardian, tells us that the “deep state” is real and dangerous. His assertions carry weight for two reasons.
First, Goldsmith should know. He was a high ranking Justice Department official — head the Office of Legal Counsel — during part of the George W. Bush administration. This placed him in the middle of issues regarding national security, electronic surveillance, and the like. He also worked closely with James Comey, including during the famous incident at Attorney General Ashcroft’s hospital bed that made Comey famous (or at least a legend in his own mind).
Goldsmith is also author of Power and Constraint, a book I reviewed for the Federalist Society. Goldsmith’s research kept him very much in touch with the deep state and issues relating to its power.
Second, Goldsmith is a strong critic of President Trump. Thus I view his agreement with Trump about the “deep state” as more significant than the concurrence of Trump’s defenders, from whom we normally here such assertions.
It’s also noteworthy that Goldsmith’s column on the deep state appears in The Guardian, a left-wing organ. Remember, though, that the left, at times in the past, has been more inclined than the right to worry about the dangers posed by agencies like the CIA and the FBI.
At any rate, Goldsmith has this to say about the deep state and Donald Trump:
America doesn’t have coups or tanks in the street. But a deep state of sorts exists here and it includes national security bureaucrats who use secretly collected information to shape or curb the actions of elected officials. . . .
The deep state has been blamed for many things since Donald Trump became president, including by the president himself. Trump defenders have used the term promiscuously to include not just intelligence bureaucrats but a broader array of connected players in other administrative bureaucracies, in private industry, and in the media.
But even if we focus narrowly on the intelligence bureaucracies that conduct and use information collected secretly in the homeland, including the FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), and National Security Council, there is significant evidence that the deep state has used secretly collected information opportunistically and illegally to sabotage the president and his senior officials – either as part of a concerted movement or via individuals acting more or less independently. . . .
Since Trump was elected, unusually sensitive leaks of intelligence information designed to discredit him and his senior leadership have poured forth from current and former intelligence officials in the deep state.
(Emphasis added)
Goldsmith provides several examples. He then writes:
These leaks probably mark the first time ever that the content of foreign intelligence intercepts aimed at foreign agents that swept up US-person information was leaked. They clearly aimed to damage US persons – ones who happen to also be senior US government officials.
They were unlawful and, beyond that, they violated two until-now strict taboos about leaks – first on revealing the content of foreign intelligence information collected through electronic surveillance, and second on revealing the content of incidentally collected information about American citizens.
Many people, including many who are not in the Trump camp, have interpreted these leaks to violate a third taboo by marking a return to the Hoover-era FBI’s use of secretly collected information to sabotage elected officials with adverse political interests.
In fact, the deep state’s conduct towards the Trump administration goes beyond the realm of J. Edgar Hoover:
[W]hile Hoover did many awful things in quiet, neither during his reign nor at any other time in American history have we seen such a profusion of sensitive leaks from the deep state with such an overtly political aim to bring down senior leadership.
Remember, this isn’t Sean Hannity. It’s Jack Goldsmith.
Goldsmith has no doubt that the consequences of the deep state’s abuses towards the Trump administration are grave:
[T]he whole ordeal has already done great damage to both the presidency and the national security bureaucracy.
As deep state officials get a taste for the power that inheres in the selective revelation of such information, and if the leaks are not responded to with severe punishments, it is easy to imagine the tools that brought down Flynn being used in other contexts by national security bureaucrats with different commitments and interests.
Even the most severe critics of Trump should worry about this subtle form of anti-democratic abuse. The big loser in all this will probably be the national security bureaucracy itself and, to the extent it is weakened, the security of the American people.
Exactly.
All of this notwithstanding, Goldsmith lamely suggests that special circumstances might have justified the deep state’s assault on the Trump presidency. What special circumstances? Sally Yates (an anti-Trumper temporarily in charge of the Justice Department) thought that Michael Flynn might become a Russian agent, or something. Plus, there were hints of collusion between Russia and Trump, a matter already being investigated (by anti-Trumpers in the deep state).
Goldsmith makes no attempt to show that these circumstances did, in fact, justify the deep state’s assault on the president. He simply allows it as a possibility.
But the deep state will always be able to cite, or gin up, “special circumstances” to justify its interference in our politics — just as, to return to the analogy with which Goldsmith begins his article — South American military leaders were always able to some up with special circumstances to justify military coups.
I think Goldsmith understands this. Maybe that’s why the alarmist portions of his discussion of the deep state’s conduct are so ringing while his suggestions that the deep state acted with justification seem so perfunctory.