Gun Control: Politics instead of Solutions

The tragic mass murder in Las Vegas has brought forth so many “common sense” solutions and criticisms intended to prevent repetition of this sort of thing that we need to take note.   Hillary Clinton suggested the shooter might have done even more damage if he used a “silencer”, an accessory who’s legality was being debated by Congress at the time. The military may never have thought of that and will no doubt want to consider its use in combat situations to increase the lethality of our troops.

 

Predictably, after news reports of gun violence, new gun laws are demanded. However, serious questions remain about the efficacy of passing new laws to prevent gun violence. It’s hard to imagine a law that a mass murderer would be reluctant to break. Simply criminalizing use, sale or possession of a product, for example to make it unavailable doesn’t seem to work. The drug problem in this country has increased many-fold since criminalization, as did alcohol consumption after prohibition. Both sets of laws gave birth to a new industry, i.e. criminal distribution of the banned product. Since the Las Vegas shooter was not deterred by the criminal statutes in force, the thought apparently is that there will be some combination of new laws that will work.   It’s possible the best minds of the Democrat party believe they know how to control guns to make them unavailable to criminals but either haven’t considered applying the “common sense” solution to control drugs or they just know that such measures don’t really work.

 

In fact, we have many years experience with common sense control of narcotics, illegal drugs and opioids. If there is one drug ban that worked, shouldn’t we look to that solution instead of rehashing the feel-good gun control proposals that do nothing? To the best of my knowledge, no law has ever successfully controlled availability of alcohol, drugs or guns to keep them out of the hands of criminals. Gun control advocates are certain about the effectiveness of “control” but have never provided evidence of what controls have worked and why.

 

Senator Gillibrand thinks Congress won’t pass those common sense measures because it won’t stand up to the NRA. Increased background checks are suggested as a necessary common sense solution to be able to predict potential problems. It has never been shown that any proposed increased background check would have stopped a mass shooting. But, if it really works why hasn’t Congress saved countless lives by requiring background checks before allowing people to drive cars, buy hammers or baseball bats or anything else that has been used to inflict injury to people, none of which the NRA opposes. Death by these other means outnumber felony gun deaths. Taking Sen. Gillibrand at face value, that would be low hanging fruit for Congress and our representatives could immediately start saving the thousands of lives lost each year from these terrible causes. Why are the gun control folks fixated on a constitutionally protected right and ignore deaths of many more when they have such an easy, and apparently definitive solution? I believe the answer is that the senator from New York knows such actions do nothing and are burdensome. That same standard should be applied to firearms control.

 

Having a proxy for social security is claimed to be a good predictor of mental instability but yet we still allow people with such proxies to drive. Progressives place great faith in the “no fly list” even in the absence of due process or real standards to get on the list. Yet there are thousands of the people on that list driving vehicles through our streets. This is especially troubling at a time when terrorists have discovered driving a vehicle into a crowd is an effective way to commit mass murder. Driving isn’t even a constitutionally protected right.   One would think that it would be easy to pass bans on activities that don’t get the push back from the NRA.  One needs to ask why these “common sense” measures aren’t being employed. A cynic could say it’s only politics with Sen. Gillibrand and others in her party as they continue their incremental assault on the Constitution.

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A Time to Heal, Not to Kneel

The issue of kneeling during the National Anthem may have greater significance in our cultural war than is immediately obvious. We have been engaged in a war between patriotism, nationalism vs. open borders and globalism. And the slide toward globalism has been steady at least since the 1960s. It wasn’t always that way. WWII marked a period of heightened nationalism in the U.S.   Americans were proud of the country and made sacrifices without complaint. This attitude continued during the cold war. Once again it was the U.S. facing evil and the world depended on us. America faced a threat from an ideological enemy that wanted to destroy our way of life.

 

Then, beginning in the 1950s things began to change. In 1958 came the Ugly American and it became fashionable to openly criticize the foreign policy of the country. Along with that came Vietnam and its unpopularity led to further criticism and protest. But the protests started showing signs of outward hatred for the country that had meant so much for individual freedom and the security of the world. The U.S. flag was routinely burned. These changes in attitude came on slowly and were mostly just greeted with disgust. When Jane Fonda gave comfort to our enemy while we were at war, it was viewed as a betrayal but not much was done about it. It was just a protest by a small fringe group. Some lawsuits were brought against flag burning but it was ruled protected speech under the First Amendment. Over the years more and more anti-U.S. signs appeared. Once again, people who loved the country remained mostly silent. How many watched Colin Kaepernick take a knee and felt disgusted but did little else. The end point of all this self-hate of America by Americans was fast approaching. Slogans like “America First” are being viewed as code for Nazism. Love of country has become a euphemistic way to proclaim racial superiority. Nationalism is synonymous with prejudice and bigotry on a massive scale. The progressives have so maneuvered the emotions relating to pride in country that up has become down and good, evil.

 

Certainly, no one in any position of authority made an issue of people’s patriotism, so the march toward globalism has essentially gone unchecked. That is, until Donald Trump. President Trump has confronted the issue and it’s long overdue. For decades divisions within the country have festered and become worse — to the delight of anarchists and Soros acolytes.   Previously untouched by these divisions were events like professional football. At any football game you would find fans of every color, race, ideology unite together against the common enemy – the other team. But now even that Sunday unity is politicized, and another wedge is driven between people. Progressives suggest respect for our National Anthem, and consequently the rights we enjoy as Americans, i.e. patriotism, cannot be reconciled with everything that is wrong with America. Every time we give up a bit more of our patriotism we become a more divided country. Forcing people to choose between defending the country and acknowledging prejudice doesn’t encourage healing, and doesn’t help achieve justice. America is not the culprit. We have a president who is proud of America and its exceptionalism and it is contagious. It’s about time. The mainstream media and progressives are looking for a fight, arguing why America is not deserving of anyone’s respect. If there is a loser in this battle I suggest it won’t be patriotism.

From Russia to Racism

The Meltdown Continues

We live in a strange time.   Liberals are outraged over the defense of unpopular speech! They are fuming about criticism of violent and illegal activity of protesters.   They seem to argue that as long as unpopular thought is expressed, violence against it is justified. And worse, if one criticizes these lawbreakers or defends the right to say disagreeable things, then that person has committed a grievous act. Over the years the left has violently protested speech it didn’t like. But it was considered an anomaly when we saw the demonstrations on campuses against the likes of Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos.   No longer. Mainstream media and corporate leaders have now openly joined the campus hysteria. The irony is that these groups are employing the very same tactics that they are protesting. Neo Nazis who endorse burning books and silencing opposition are being attacked by those advocating destroying offensive material and silencing opposing voices.

 

At a rally in Charlottesville VA, the dregs of society were attacked by anti Fascists and other miscreants. It was a battle of the losers, but with innocent bystanders. The answer to unpopular speech is to not listen. Until now it was never acceptable to prevent it. In 1978 neo-Nazis intended to march through the streets of Skokie, IL, a suburb where many Holocaust survivors lived. The ACLU defended the First Amendment right of these mischief-makers.

 

‘If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate.’
— JUSTICE OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

 

When President Trump denounced the hateful neo-Nazis and KKK he rightfully defended their First Amendment right. He also correctly criticized the unlawful actions of the trouble makers who came for a fight. The usual critics were quick to jump all over the president. However, some titans of industry joined the chorus. Do these corporate leaders really believe illegal action to stop unpopular speech should be the new norm? Or has Trump so unnerved people that they blindly join the group-think that proclaims up is down and evil is good?

 

About the only lesson to be learned is the confirmation that otherwise seemingly intelligent people can be led like sheep to join a mass hysteria induced movement. Trump may wittingly or unwittingly be creating an opposition that makes your average 3 year old seem exceptionally rational.

Another Trump in the Crosshairs

DC once again is consumed with debating whether President Trump should be executed for treason, impeached or just be allowed to resign in disgrace. Standard stuff by now but joining the chorus is columnist Charles Krauthammer. Dr. Krauthammer’s analysis of the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer is uncharacteristically leftist nonsense. His unfavorable attitude toward all things Trump is no excuse for falling into the mindset that any contact with a Russian is evil. Krauthammer indicated that Donald Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer is not illegal but is evidence that undermines the White House narrative.   The narrative was never about not speaking with Russians or not being receptive to “opposition research”. The White House has consistently denied doing anything illegal in their dealings with the Russians. That’s the narrative. But Krauthammer says the emails and the meeting prove some sort of collusion. There was a “collusion”, if you would like to call it that, between an informant and a candidate’s son to get information to defeat an opponent, not to do anything illegal, something with which Krauthammer and constitutional scholars agree. Until Donald Trump became President, getting dirt from any legal source on an opponent was always the way campaigns were run. But it’s claimed to be different in this case because the informant is a foreign national. Since when is information acquired from a foreign source unlawful? It’s not, but this source was Russian, and therefore it had to be a violation of “The Russian Source Exclusionary Act”. Except there is no such act. But wait even without a violation of a specific law, everyone knows Russia is guilty of something, so talking with a Russian is obviously an unlawful collusion. Wrong.   As has been pointed out by numerous legal scholars, there is no such thing as illegal collusion except with respect to antitrust laws. I repeat, the White House narrative is simply that accusations of illegality are without merit, or in the words of the president, “a witch hunt.” That narrative is still valid notwithstanding any meeting held by Donald Jr. It is surprising that Krauthammer has fallen into the trap of building an imaginary case based on unproven violations of non-existing laws. One would expect that of left-wing ideologues and the “never Trump” gang, not a respected columnist.

 

To understand the hypocrisy of what is now claimed as proof of the Trump campaign’s violation of the Constitution, campaign laws, criminal statutes and perhaps laws against humanity, we need to step back and apply some basic logic. Suppose a candidate for public office is approached by a former operative for a foreign government, for example, England. And that operative claims to have some damaging information on the candidate’s opponent. If the candidate agrees to a discussion with the British operative, is that treason?   Illegal collusion? Of course not. England is a friend. But should the fact that the operative was from England, as opposed to Russia be relevant? Russia is only important because of the claims about Russian meddling being the reason Clinton lost the election. None of which have turned out to be true. If Russia did meddle, nothing happened. They have been meddling for decades and Congress people, presidents, just about everyone in government talked to Russians and met with Russians without being suspect. The U.S. is not at war with Russia nor is there any legal impediment to talking to or doing business with a Russian. Incidentally, the Clinton campaign not only discussed “opposition research” with a former British MI6 agent they in fact paid for a now discredited dossier critical of Donald Trump. Treason?   Illegal collusion? Was England meddling? Undoubtedly Krauthammer knows of the dossier and its origins but saw no treason or even a smoking gun, or at least he didn’t write a column about Clinton “collusion”. The assumption therefore is that he either didn’t mind a foreign entity, England, meddling in our election or he didn’t think it was meddling. In either case, Krauthammer should use the same standard concerning Donald Jr.’s meeting. To reach a conclusion about a meeting to obtain opposition research from a former Russian state prosecutor, with “ties” to the Kremlin, that is different than the conclusion about a meeting to obtain opposition research from a former British intelligence officer, with ties to the British intelligence community represents a lapse in journalistic integrity.

 

The Democrats’ Losing Strategy

There have now been five congressional special elections, which the Democrats intended to use to test the popularity of the president. The strategy and that of the media was to throw as much mud at Trump as possible and hope it would rub off on Republican candidates. Trump is at times claimed to be a puppet of Moscow, a person under investigation for illegal activities and someone in imminent danger of impeachment. They can’t help but think back to their glory days of Richard Nixon. When the opposition has all that working for it, they believe there should be no need to advance an agenda that the voters can embrace.   The results of the special elections demonstrate the fallacy of the strategy.  The latest election gave the Republican, Karen Handel a decisive victory in spite of liberals spending more than $20 million on their candidate.

 

How does Trump, an unlikely president, manage to survive the onslaught?

  • First, he is so verbally abused by the Democrats and the media that he actually becomes a sympathetic figure. Even though Trump conducts himself in an unconventional manner, he is given the benefit of the doubt because the attacks are often over-the-top and laughable.   He happens to also be the president whose office usually demands a bit of respect. Public mock executions of a sitting president do not play well in the heartland.  Americans love an underdog.   We all root for the underdog and Trump is the David against the establishment Goliath.  The armies of the media, Hollywood, academia and establishment Washington are all amassed against Trump and his Twitter account.   When tiny Israel beat back the Arab armies surrounding the outnumbered and out-gunned Jewish state, they became the Goliath and lost the public support that they enjoyed since their founding in 1948.
  • Second, the conspiracy theories used to attack the president are all consuming inside the Beltway but not so much elsewhere.  Jobs, security and the image of the U.S. have more importance outside of DC than the possibility that someone in the administration may have talked to a Russian.   Besides, the evil of such conversations is not very clear when one considers the fact that prior administrations have often made such conversations a cornerstone of their foreign policy.
  • Third, what proposals do the opposition suggest?  Is there an agenda that contrasts with the Trump agenda that is seen as good for America?   So far, no! The only agenda is to expose conversations with Russians.
  • Fourth, with the entire focus by the media on Russia, the administration is moving ahead on many fronts with hardly any opposition. This works in the administration’s favor since they have almost a free hand, at least to undo all the damaging regulations put in place over the last eight years.
  • Fifth, although progress on the big-ticket items on Trump’s agenda has been slowed, it doesn’t help the opposition to be able to claim “we’ve stopped Trump from fixing a broken health care system, we’ve allowed wasteful spending to continue, we’ve stopped people from keeping more of their income through high taxes.”   These are not winning positions for the Democrats.

 

If the attacks continue through the mid-term election campaigns, the likelihood of the Republicans picking up seats is increased.

Another Explanation for Robert Mueller’s Seemingly Poor Hiring Choices for Staff

The following occurred on May 3, 2017 in Senate testimony:

GRASSLEY: And thank you for your opening statement. I’m going to start out probably with a couple subjects you wish I didn’t bring up, and then a third one that I think everybody needs to hear your opinion on on a policy issue. It is frustrating when the FBI refuses to answer this committee’s questions, but leaks relevant information to the media. In other words, they don’t talk to us, but somebody talks to the media.

Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?

COMEY: Never

 

Robert Mueller is taking a lot of heat for hiring four prominent lawyers who have substantial ties to the Democrat Party. Is it possible that the Mueller investigation is taking a turn that may bite the Democrats? If Mueller were to start looking into his good friend Jim Comey, and perhaps some Obama holdovers in the executive branch for leaking, he would want to avoid the appearance that he is just a Republican hack. Especially since his firm has done work for the Trump family. Mueller is no doubt aware that the Comey spectacle before the senate revealed that: (1) the Democrats and the media, with Comey’s tacit acquiescence, have been lying to the American people about Trump being under investigation as a Russian puppet; (2) Comey’s anger and vindictiveness brings discredit to the FBI; (3) Comey’s prejudice against Trump from his first meeting, most likely because Comey is not comfortable with someone who is not a typical politician, is unprofessional and potentially disruptive of the smooth operation of federal law enforcement; and (4) most importantly, Comey may have committed several crimes.

 

During Comey’s questioning, it was clear that Comey didn’t go to the Deputy Attorney General, Dana Boente, or to the congressional oversight committees after he felt he was improperly approached by the president, as he was required to do under 18 U.S. Code § 4 – misprision of felony.   Also, why did Comey and other FBI and intelligence officials all testify before Congress that no pressure was applied?   Furthermore, Comey may have committed perjury by stating he leaked his memo after the Trump Tweet about possible tapes of their conversation. However, a NY Times article containing quotes from the memo appeared the day before the Tweet. Of course, Comey can claim the Times makes up stuff and they just guessed at the quotes.

 

Mueller would also be mindful of the sentiment captured by Jonathan Turley’s comment that the Comey memos could be viewed as government material and potential evidence. Leaking to a friend for disclosure can raise serious questions. Or Alan Dershowitz’ statement “I think it is important to put to rest the notion that there was anything criminal about the president exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and to request – “hope” – that he let go the investigation of General Flynn. Just as the president would have had the constitutional power to pardon Flynn and thus end the criminal investigation of him, he certainly had the authority to request the director of the FBI to end his investigation of Flynn”.   Both legal scholars raise concerns that demand investigation. If Mueller’s sterling reputation is deserved, his actions now are consistent with a possible criminal investigation aimed primarily at Democrats.   In the bizarre world of the DC swamp, one can only hope.

A recent column by law professor, Stephen Presser, who knows Mueller’s firm, confirms that Mueller is someone to be trusted to restore the rule of law and allow the president to emerge from the investigation stronger because of the work by Mueller and his team.

 

The Comey Smokescreen

The Comey statement concerning his conversations with the president has been released. It may contain a little for both critics and supporters of Trump, but overall does very little to damage the president, and may in fact, aid him. If one is tempted to draw the conclusion that Trump acted improperly by demanding loyalty and by pressuring the FBI to drop an ongoing investigation, the facts say otherwise. If Comey believed there was anything improper about conversations with the president, he certainly didn’t act like that happened at the time. Had he felt he was being asked to do something wrong, he had several choices to make: Report it up the chain of command and if nothing was done, report to the appropriate congressional oversight committees and if he was still not satisfied with the response, then he had to resign. Since none of the above steps were taken, we can rightfully assume the conversation may have been awkward but not seriously believed to be improper, unethical or illegal.   Further, he shared his contemporaneous notes with colleagues who testified, as did he, that there was never any pressure to do anything improper. Contemporaneous notes can be useful but contemporaneous actions are determinative. Actions speak louder than words.

 

Certainly asking for “honest loyalty” can’t be considered a bad thing when there were so many illegal disclosures coming out of the intelligence community. There were enough people surrounding the president who were disloyal to the US and its elected leader.

 

It’s understandable that Comey is upset about being fired. It’s understandable that he would want to cast Trump in as bad light as possible. But regardless of the memo details, which were well-crafted to add to the “smoke” that the Democrats have been sniffing for months, they have not kindled a fire. At this point their smoke is more like smoke and mirrors.