A Democrat tells the truth about how he feels.

From The Washington Post:

‘I’m glad he got shot’: Nebraska Democrat caught on tape criticizing Rep. Steve Scalise

By Herman Wong | June 23 at 5:48 PM

A Nebraska Democratic official has been removed from his chairman post after recordings emerged in which he said he was glad that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot and that he wished he had died.

In the recording, Phil Montag, who was the volunteer co-chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party’s technology committee, criticized Scalise by saying “his whole job is to … convince Republicans to (expletive) kick people off (expletive) health care.”

“I’m glad he got shot. … I wish he was (expletive) dead.”

The recording was posted on YouTube and other sites. .  .  .  .

Montag could not be immediately reached for comment, but he told the Omaha World-Herald that his statements were taken out of context from a 30-minute to hour-long conversation. 

“I do not and did not wish for his death,” Montag said by email to the World-Herald.

“I am hopeful that the entirety of the original, unedited recording will emerge so we can get to the truth of the matter.”

There’s more at the original.

Of course, Mr Montag is trying to save his political neck now, but he shouldn’t: he told the truth about how he feels, and any apology from him won’t be genuine. He might as well have the balls to stick with the statement he made, since no one will believe anything else from him.

Tainting the jury pool After Judge Steven O’Neill’s ruling, how can an impartial jury ever be found?

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Report: 10 of 12 Cosby jurors wanted to convict

by Laura McCrystal & Jeremy Roebuck | Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writers | Updated: June 21, 2017 — 9:52 PM EDT

Acting on a petition from media organizations, a Montgomery County judge on Wednesday unsealed the names of the jurors at Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault trial, but ordered that the jurors not publicly discuss the deliberations that led to last weekend’s mistrial.

Within hours, though, that order appeared to have been broken. ABC News reported Wednesday night that one juror, whom it did not identify, told it that 10 of the 12 wanted to convict Cosby but were blocked by two intractable holdouts.

Further down:

But while the judge agreed to release the names — and said any could talk about their own opinions — he barred them from publicly discussing the group deliberations, which he said could unfairly shape the jury of the next trial. “Future jurors will be reluctant to speak up or say what they think when deliberating if they fear that what they say during deliberations will not be kept secret,” he wrote.

There’s more at the original, including the fact that both the District Attorney, Kevin Steele, and Mr Cosby’s lead defense lawyer, Brian McMonagle, opposed the judges order releasing the names of the jurors, claiming that such could impact any retrial.

And they’re right: if Mr Cosby is to be retried, not only will the court have to find eighteen people — 12 jurors and about six alternates — who are impartial when it comes to the case, those eighteen people must also be willing to be sequestered for the case,1 and now, thanks to Judge Steven O’Neill’s ruling, be willing to have themselves identified in the media.

Within minutes of the release of the names, reporters were casting out across Allegheny County, flocking to jurors’ homes or trying them by phone, email, and even Twitter.

“I can’t see how it benefits me,” one of the few who answered his phone told the Inquirer and Daily News2 in explaining why he wouldn’t discuss the case. At a home owned by another juror, a woman behind a closed door shouted “Go away!” as a reporter approached.

For doing their civic duty, the eighteen jurors and alternates were quickly searched out and harassed by the media, whether they wished it or not. The next group of jurors and alternates will have to be willing to endure such.

Of course, “be willing to endure such” really means: be publicity hounds! The next eighteen people selected will all know that not only will their decisions be scrutinized, but that their lives will be disrupted beyond the end of any retrial. Why would any truly impartial juror want that, unless he thought he could get a book deal out of it?

The Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, from a hand-written copy of the proposed Bill of Rights, 1789. (National Archives) Click to enlarge.

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, from a hand-written copy of the proposed Bill of Rights, 1789. (National Archives) Click to enlarge.

How, it has to be asked, can Bill Cosby be guaranteed “an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed” when the potential jury pool have been reduced to publicity hounds? The original jury was not “of the . . . district” in which Mr Cosby’s alleged crime was committed; due to massive pretrial publicity, jurors for the trial in Norristown — a community near Philadelphia — were drawn from Pittsburgh, at the other end of the Commonwealth.

The Philadelphia Media Network have, in their eagerness to sell newspapers, destroyed the ability of the Commonwealth to guarantee a fair trial to Mr Cosby. They, along with the local television stations, so tainted the original jury pool that one had to be drawn from 300 miles away. And now, they have made selecting a retrial jury even harder, almost impossible. Whether Mr Cosby is factually guilty or innocent, the media have created a situation in which his legal guilt or innocence may never be able to be determined.3
___________________________

  1. The jurors in the first case, drawn from Allegheny County, around Pittsburgh, in the western part of Pennsylvania, were sequestered.
  2. The petition to release the names came from Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com.
  3. I have seen only partial, not complete, information on the crimes of which Mr Cosby is accused, and I have not heard much about his defense; I take no position whatsoever as to whether Mr Cosby is guilty or innocent.

Laughing my #Ossoff Another loss, and once again, the Democrats are trying to figure out where they went wrong

From The New York Times:

Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump’

By Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin | Emily Cochrane contributed reporting. | June 21, 2017

Democrats scrambled to regroup on Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with lawmakers, activists and labor leaders speaking out in public and private to demand a more forceful economic message heading into the 2018 elections.

Among Democrats in Washington, the setback in Georgia revived or deepened a host of existing grievances about the party, accentuating tensions between moderate lawmakers and liberal activists and prompting some Democrats to question the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.

But the overarching theme among Democrats was a sense of sharp urgency about crafting a positive agenda around kitchen-table issues. Congressional Democrats have already been meeting in private to shape a core list of economic policies, but their work did not reach any conclusive point during a long season of special elections.

“The Democratic caucus is united in our view that our message, heading into 2018, should be aggressively focused on job creation and economic growth,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the Democratic leadership team, said on Wednesday morning.

Well, that’s just it: “aggressively focus(ing) on job creation and economic growth” is President Trump’s, specifically, and the Republican Party’s in general, bailiwick.  The Democrats have been trying to say that they are the party of the working class, but, in reality, they have transformed themselves into the party of the non-working class, the party of food stamps and welfare.  The policies of the Democratic Party are for more government spending and higher taxes, and everybody knows it. The Democrats want more involvement of the government in the economy and in people’s personal lives, and that is not what the voters like.

The final numbers are still out, but the special election in the sixth congressional district in Georgia was the most expensive House of Representatives race in history, and Jon Ossoff outspent Karen Handel, supposedly by a considerable amount.  It didn’t do the Democrats any good, and I’d note here that Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by a roughly two-to-one margin, and she’s still trying to find other people to blame for her loss.

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become “toxic” in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as “not being able to connect with the issues they care about.”

“Our brand is worse than Trump,” he said.

That’s because they just don’t get it! To the Democrats, President Trump is practically the Devil Incarnate, and they really don’t understand why he got so much support, and why they received so little. Remember when Mrs Clinton was surprised that she wasn’t fifty points ahead?

In some respects, the sniping over the Democrats’ campaign message mirrors a larger divide in the Democratic Party, dating back to the 2016 presidential primaries and earlier. Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters have pressed Democrats to embrace a more bluntly populist message, assailing wealthy special interests and endorsing the expansion of social-welfare programs, while more moderate Democrats in the party leadership have favored an approach closer to Mr. Ossoff’s.

But in four contested special elections in Republican districts — including two, in Kansas and Montana, featuring Sanders-style insurgents — neither method provided the party with a breakthrough victory.

Remember that: neither approach has worked for the Democrats!

Part of the problem in the ‘left-versus-center’ debate among the Democrats is that they cannot go much further left on many issues. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez stated that abortion was a litmus test, that no Democratic candidate, ever, could be pro-life. The Democrats have embraced same-sex ‘marriage,’ homosexual rights, and gone to bat for people claiming to be a different sex than what they were born, over the privacy rights of the vast majority of Americans. Those things aren’t winning positions in most districts, and the Democrats can’t get much further to the left on those issues than they are right now.1

In economics and job creation, their policies have not helped, and the strong support of the Democrats for illegal immigrants is support for the very group holding down the wages of lower-skilled American workers. The Democrats and the left will not admit that, but the working class voters of America have accepted that as true, and they voted in support of that belief.

A big part of the problem is that the Democrats are a heavily urbanized party: they have structured their appeal to groups heavily concentrated in too-few districts, in too small geographical areas. The Democrats will scream gerrymandering, but The New York Times reported that in 91 of the city’s 5,286 precincts,  in 2012, President Obama won 100 percent of the vote. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Mitt Romney didn’t receive even a single vote in 59 city precincts. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that in nine precincts, Mr Romney received no votes at all. That Democrats do best in urban areas is common knowledge, but in a nation which bases representation on geographical districts, there’s no realistic way to account for precincts which give 100% of their votes to one party’s candidate.

The Democrats can dump Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as House Minority Leader, as some want to do, but that’s simply dumping a face; they need to change their policies to have a chance to regain the House of Representatives. Democrats have to come up with policies which will appeal to just those people they have abandoned, if they hope to start picking up seats in red-suburban and rural districts.

However, the policies of today’s Democratic Party are simply those of obstruction, of voting against President Trump. They want to have investigations ad infinitum against the President, but being in the minority in both Houses of Congress, that actually accomplishes nothing. Even if they could unseat President Trump, then Vice President Mike Pence steps up. There is no way that they can somehow undo the 2016 election and make Mrs Clinton President.

If the Democrats want to regain control of the House, dumping Mrs Pelosi would be a good place to start, but that would still be only symbolic; they need to dump the policies Mrs Pelosi, and Tom Perez, and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders represent. Their guess that they could corner the market onm the fringe voting demographics has paid off, but what they didn’t count on was losing so much of the rest of America.
__________________________

  1. It didn’t help that Mr Ossoff was shacked up with a woman who had been his girlfriend for twelve years, and finally proposed to her only after it became a political problem. I’ve got to wonder: is his proposal null and void, now that he lost the election?

A good reason to move to Kentucky!

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Pennsylvania badly needs new revenue, top Senate Dem says

by Karen Langley | Harrisburg Bureau |Updated: June 19, 2017 — 6:45 PM EDT

HARRISBURG — Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa painted a bleak picture of state finances Monday, predicting lawmakers and the governor will put band-aids on the next two budgets instead of fixing problems by enacting steady revenue increases.

Though the June 30 deadline for next the next fiscal year’s budget is less than two weeks away, the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Wolf have made little visible progress in negotiations.

“A year from now, someone will be standing here and probably repeating the same thing: We’re a billion-and-a-half dollars short, and there’s no willingness to be able to address the problems that we have going forward,” Costa said, speaking at a luncheon of the Pennsylvania Press Club. “We’ll make up ways to figure it out, to get through it, and then June 30th will pass and we’ll have some discussions about whether the revenue stream is appropriate or not.”

The state Independent Fiscal Office projected last week that the current year’s revenue will fall more than $1 billion below the Wolf administration’s estimate at the beginning of the fiscal year, putting budget makers in a hole as they plot the 2017-18 spending plan.

There’s more at the link.

That Democrats want to raise taxes is hardly surprising: it’s simply what they do. Pennsylvania’s income tax is relatively low, 3.07%, but we have the highest gasoline tax in the nation, 50.3¢ per gallon, exclusive of the 18.4¢ per gallon federal excise tax, 5.8¢ per gallon higher than the state of Washington, which is second on the list. In the Bluegrass State, gasoline taxes are 26.0¢ per gallon, and the roads are in better shape. Pennsylvania also has numerous toll roads, and tolls here are high.

In addition, we suffer through a 6% sales tax, and property taxes are high. Let’s put it this way: in 2017, my estimated property taxes will be $2,873.07; the property taxes on my farm in Kentucky were $782.00 last year. We bought the farm for what was really a bargain price, lower than what we paid for our house in Pennsylvania, but only $12,000 lower.

Our retirement house, photo taken from the back of the property. The house is on the far end of the property, and the hill in the background, which is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is not part of our land. Click to enlarge.

Our retirement house, photo taken from the back of the property. The house is on the far end of the property, and the hill in the background, which is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is not part of our land. Click to enlarge.

Our house in Pennsylvania is a nice one, a Victorian, but with modern technology updates; I have done a lot of work on it. But living in town, with neighbors — good and not-so-good — is very much inferior to living on our own farm.

If you’ve wondered why posting has been a bit sparse of late, well I’m doing the work to get the house in top condition for sale. Bear with me; the move to the Bluegrass State happens next month!

The death of #OttoWarmbier

It isn’t often that Salon gets something right, but this time, they did:

This might be America’s biggest idiot frat boy: Meet the UVa student who thought he could pull a prank in North Korea

Coerced into an international crime, perhaps as a secret-society prank. Great move, Otto Frederick Warmbier

By Brendan Gauthier | Wednesday, March 2, 2016 11:37 AM EDT

“Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore last night dissected the case of Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who’s been held in North Korea since January on charges of “acts of hostility against the state.”

Warmbier was arrested at the Pyongyang airport on January 2 for allegedly stealing a propaganda piece from his hotel with the intent to sell it as a “trophy” back in the states.

“What were you expecting? Some Spring Break spot with a bunch of strip clubs?” Wilmore said. “Because North Korea’s version of ‘Girls Gone Wild’ is just middle-age women eating full rations of oatmeal.”

“North Korea isn’t a playground for college pranks, Kim Jong-un isn’t a fictional character from a Seth Rogen movie, and Pyongyang isn’t some game you play with Coors Light and Solo cups,” Wilmore continued. “It’s just tough for me to have much sympathy for this guy and his crocodile tears.”

Let me be clear about this: Brendan Gauthier and Salon are scum, and Mr Gauthier’s article is repugnant. He has taken the assumption that Mr Warmbier was somehow ‘coerced’ into his ‘prank’ as some sort of initiation test for the University of Virginia’s secretive Z Society. But in his laying Mr Warmbier’s fate at Mr Warmbier’s feet, he told the cold, hard truth.

The bigger problem wasn’t that Mr Warmbier may or may not have stolen a propaganda poster; the biggest problem was that he was stupid enough to go to North Korea in the first place.

Mr Warmbier was not the first American to be held as a hostage, and a bargaining chip, by North Korea; this has been something they’ve been doing for a lot longer than Kim Jong-un has been the ‘Supreme Leader.’ And every American ought to know that going to North Korea is not only risking himself as a potential hostage, but is putting the security of the United States at risk, by giving the Norks a weapon to use against the United States.

Nina Bookout of The Victory Girls wrote:

Many people are going to want to blame somebody…ANYBODY…for Otto’s death. But the plain truth of it is, the North Korean government is the one to blame. They didn’t have to make an example of that young man the way that they did. They could’ve and should’ve just made him leave the country. Instead they chose to thumb their noses at the United States and ‘make an example’ out of this young man.

What did the Obama Administration do? Nothing. And they ALSO told the Warmbier family to keep their mouths shut because doing otherwise would make the Norks mad.

Cameron Blount, ΠΚΑ at Indiana State University, tweeted:

Regular readers know that I am no fan of President Obama, but if the Obama Administration did nothing to get Mr Warmbier released, then they did the right thing. If the Obama Administration did not get Mr Warmbier released, then it means that they didn’t give up anything to North Korea to get him released, and that was wise, if nevertheless cold-hearted, policy.

The Trump Administration needs to announce that any American stupid enough to go to North Korea (or Iran, for that matter) is on his own! The North Koreans can use Americans as hostages and bargaining chips only if we are willing to bargain with them for those hostages. Americans who go willingly to North Korea are setting themselves us as possible weapons to be used against American policy.

Am I being hard-hearted with this? Yup, sure am! But I’m also telling you the truth.

I’ve seen this before

From The New York Times:

The Democratic Party Is in Worse Shape Than You Thought

Thomas B. Edsall | Contributing Op-Ed Writer | June 8, 2017

Sifting through the wreckage of the 2016 election, Democratic pollsters, strategists and sympathetic academics have reached some unnerving conclusions.

What the autopsy reveals is that Democratic losses among working class voters were not limited to whites; that crucial constituencies within the party see its leaders as alien; and that unity over economic populism may not be able to turn back the conservative tide.

Equally disturbing, winning back former party loyalists who switched to Trump will be tough: these white voters’ views on immigration and race are in direct conflict with fundamental Democratic tenets.

I have said it before: the Democrats cannot be both the party of the working person and the party of the non-working person.

Some of these post-mortem conclusions are based on polling and focus groups conducted by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA; others are drawn from a collection of 13 essays published by The American Prospect.

A consistent theme is that the focus on white defections from the Democratic Party masks an even more threatening trend: declining turnout among key elements of the so-called Rising American Electorate — minority, young and single voters. Turnout among African-Americans, for example, fell by 7 points, from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016.

I suppose that it’s wholly politically incorrect to say it, but is it any particular surprise that black voter turnout, which increased dramatically with Barack Obama on the ticket,1 decreased when neither the presidential nor vice-presidential nominee was black?

That Hillary Clinton was white may be only part of the reason black voter turnout decreased, to close to what it was in 2004; Mrs Clinton was both a duller-than-dishwater candidate, who actually inspired few people, but she was also projected, by virtually, everybody, to win handily. In 2016, well, Mrs Clinton just didn’t need people to go to the polls, right? And when they didn’t, she wound up somewhat disappointed with the election results.

Skipping much further down:

Democratic pessimism today stands in contrast to the optimism that followed the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2012.

At that time, the consensus was that Democrats had found the key to sustained victory. The party saw its future in ascendant constituencies: empowered minorities, singles, social liberals and the well-educated.

Democratic activists saw the Republican Party as doomed to defeat without a radical change of course because it was tied to overlapping constituencies that they viewed as of waning significance — for example, older, non-college, evangelical white Christians.

Today, in a world of angry, fearful voters, it is liberal optimism that is at a low ebb — buffeted by a drumroll of terrorist incidents, rising levels of hostility toward immigrants and a broad animus toward difference, the unknown and the other.

Yet it was the Republicans who were optimistic, not just after 2016, but 2010 and 2014.

I’ve seen this so many times in the past few election cycles: there are all sorts of stories about how the losing party is going to be stuck in permanently losing status. The Republicans were pronounced dead following the 2008 elections, yet came back to take the House of Representatives in 2010.  After 2012, it was conceded that the GOP wasn’t quite dead, but probably locked out of the White House for the foreseeable future.  Somehow, some way, the predictions of the ‘experts’ don’t seem to yield expert results.

There’s a lot more at the original, much of it concerning the statistics of 2016, and how the Democrats face doom-and-gloom.  As much as I’d like to see the Democrats truly facing political death, ’tis better to (mis)quote Samuel Clemens: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

__________________________

  1. In 2012, black voter turnout of 66.2% exceeded that of white voters, at 61.4%. In 2008, black voter turnout was 64.7%, up from 60.0% in 2004.

Is Bernie Sanders responsible for James Hodgkinson? Using his own, stated standards, he must be!

By my standards, no: James Hodgkinson was simply loony tunes, a man who had trouble controlling his temper, coupled with the sore loser attitude among today’s American left. He had some ‘encounters’ with law enforcement due to his temper, but was never convicted of any crimes over them.

But what about by Senator Sanders’ standards? Jason Hopkins, writing in The Resurgent, noted Mr Sanders’ response to the shooting of then-Representative Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) in 2011, pointing out that the Distinguished Gentleman from Vermont actually sent out a find-raising letter over the shooting of Mrs Giffords:

Sen. Sanders Sends Out Fundraising Email Citing Arizona Tragedy

January 11, 2011 | By ABCNEWS.COM | Matthew Jaffe

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, today sent out a fundraising email to supporters in which he includes his analysis of the Arizona shootings that ties the tragedy to “right-wing reactionaries.”

“This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate,” Sanders said in his letter. “Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.”

The Vermont senator, who caucuses with Democrats, cited past Arizona incidents such as vandalism at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district office after the health care reform vote and Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” map, as well as other outbreaks of violence like when a bullet was shot into Rep. Raul Grijalva’s office.

“In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process?” asks Sanders. “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?”

“My colleague, Senator John McCain, issued a very strong statement after the shooting in which he condemned the perpetrator of the attack. I commend him for that. But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more,” Sanders said. “As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.”

There’s a little more at the original.

Senator Sanders asked, in his fund-raising appeal, “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?” It’s six years later, and that question ought to be reversed, as we consider how many conservatives have been shouted down or had their planned presentations canceled, primarily around university campuses, due to left-wing protests, objections and “fears for safety?” Have left-wing radicals, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?

Remember when neo-Nazi Richard Spencer was assaulted on Inauguration by a masked “J20” protester, and the left-wing magazine The Nation called it a thing of “kinetic beauty?”

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc

A dispatch from inside the J20 protests.

By Natasha Lennard | January 22, 2017

The transcendental experience of watching Roger Federer play tennis, David Foster Wallace wrote, was one of “kinetic beauty.” Federer’s balletic precision and mastering of time, on the very edge of what seems possible for a body to achieve, was a form of bodily genius. What Foster Wallace saw in a Federer Moment, I see in a video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the face.

You may have seen it, it’s a meme now, set to backing tracks of Bruce Springsteen, New Order, even a song from Hamilton. The punch, landed by a masked protester on Inauguration Day, lends itself perfectly to a beat. Spencer, who states that America belongs to white men, was in the midst of telling an Australian TV crew in DC that he was not a neo-Nazi, while pointing to his neo-Nazi Pepe the Frog lapel pin. A black-clad figure then jumps into frame, deus ex machina, with a perfectly placed right hook to Spencer’s face. The alt-right poster boy stumbles away, and his anonymous attacker bounds out of sight in an instant. I don’t know who threw the punch, but I know by his unofficial uniform that this was a member of our black bloc that day. And anyone enjoying the Nazi-bashing clip (and many are) should know that they’re watching anti-fascist bloc tactics par excellence—pure kinetic beauty. If you want to thank Spencer’s puncher, thank the black bloc.

The black bloc is not a group but an anarchist tactic—marching as a confrontational united force, uniformed in black and anonymized for security. Once deployed, the tactic has an alchemic quality, turning into a temporary object—the black bloc. On Friday, the bloc I joined in DC numbered well over 500, the largest of its kind since the antiwar protests over a decade prior. As I wrote in advance of the inauguration, if we recognize fascism in Trump’s ascendance, our response must be anti-fascist in nature. The history of anti-fascist action is not one of polite protest, nor failed appeals to reasoned debate with racists, but direct, aggressive confrontation. While perhaps best associated in the United States with the anti-globalization movement’s major summit protests nearly two decades ago, the black bloc is part of the longstanding visual language of international anti-fascism, or antifa. For example, bloc tactics have been used by European anti-fascists marching against neo-Nazis since the 1990s in Germany. The symbolic value of a large black-bloc presence at Trump’s inauguration resided in drawing a connection between anti-Trumpism and anti-fascism.

The “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist bloc,” Friday’s black-bloc march, was just one among a number of direct actions called by organizers of the Disrupt J20 Inauguration Day protests. Unlike Saturday’s vast Women’s March, Disrupt J20 aimed to directly impede, delay, and confront the inaugural proceedings. This message was delivered with human blockades, smashed corporate windows, trash-can fires, a burning limousine, “Make America Great Again” caps reduced to ashes, and a blow for Richard Spencer. The police responded with fountains of pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, and the mass arrest of over 200 people, most of whom now face felony riot charges. Along with the Women’s March’s joyful scenes of togetherness, the disruptions of J20 should be celebrated as an opening salvo of resistance in the era of Trump.

Emphases mine; there’s more at the original.

The Nation is an old, old political journal, one which has some respect — though not from me — which makes it somewhat surprising that they’d publish an article celebrating political violence from the left. The e-zine Salon is far newer, and generally more odious; cover editor Jeremy Binckes wrote, “Maybe the question shouldn’t be, ‘Is it OK to punch a Nazi?’ but, ‘If you don’t want to be punched in the face, maybe you shouldn’t preach Nazi values to the public?'” Salon writer Matthew Sheffield claimed that ‘neo-Nazis’ and the ‘alt-right’ are trying to bait ‘antifa’ activists into violence and thus radicalize ‘white people,’ to try to start a race war.

It’s simple: the left are celebrating violence, and still trying to make excuses to blame the right for left-wing violence.

The complete text of Senator Sanders fund-raising letter, along with a few more comments, are below the fold: Continue reading ‘Is Bernie Sanders responsible for James Hodgkinson? Using his own, stated standards, he must be!’ »

The New York Times is shocked that conservatives don’t react like liberals The left simply can't believe that conservative congressmen actually believe what they say they believe

From The New York Times:

Their Own Targeted, Republicans Want Looser Gun Laws, Not Stricter Ones

By Jonathan Martin | June 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — Shaken and angry, Republican members of Congress seized on the brazen daytime shooting of their colleagues on Wednesday to demand that existing restrictions on gun access be loosened so that people facing similar attacks are able to defend themselves.

Past shootings have brought calls for more gun control, especially for restrictions on the kind of rifle used in Wednesday’s attack. But the ardent supporters of gun rights who came under fire this time were not about to change their views.

As Representative Steve Scalise, the third-ranking House Republican, had surgery for a gunshot wound to the hip, his colleagues complained that Washington’s restrictive gun laws had barred him and other lawmakers who live in the capital from bringing weapons to the baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.

“Had there not been a member of House leadership present, there would have been no police present, and it would have become the largest act of political terrorism in years, if not ever,” Representative Tom Garrett of Virginia said, pointing to legislation he has introduced to make it easier for people to carry a gun in Washington. That bill “would allow the most law-abiding among us to defend themselves,” he said.

Further down:

The emboldened response on the right illustrated how much the center of gravity has shifted in the gun debate. As Republican lawmakers grow more uniformly conservative and centered outside urban areas, few prominent voices in the party are willing to support gun control measures.

This is a striking departure from recent political history, when clashes over gun rights often fell along regional rather than partisan lines. The Republican majorities on Capitol Hill have blocked every attempt to enact significant gun control legislation, most recently after the massacre of 49 people in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub last June. Measures to block people on the federal terrorism watch list from buying weapons and to close background-check loopholes failed in the Senate.

Here is where the Times writer, Jonathan Martin, fouled up: the divide is still regional, but the regions are between the heavily urbanized Democrats and the more suburban and rural Republicans. The attack against Mr Scalise and his colleagues, practicing for the annual congressional baseball game, might have been a deliberate attack on Republicans — and the ‘alleged’ perpetrator was a volunteer for socialist Bernie Sanders, who expressed hatred for Republicans in general and President Trump in particular on social media — but it was an attack in a densely populated area, a primarily Democratic area of government bureaucrats.

Reading Mr Martin’s article, I found an undercurrent of surprise, surprise that Republican congressmen are reacting as Republicans, and not Democrats. But, as you would expect, the author let us know that, why, it’s their National Rifle Association ratings that concern them, not what they actually believe:

(Representative Steve) Cohen (D-TN) said part of the difficulty was that many Republicans in right-leaning districts are more afraid of conservative primary challengers than of Democrats in general elections. And few interest groups have as much clout among Republican primary voters as the N.R.A.

The idea, expressed by a Democrat, that Republicans might react as conservatives rather than liberals just couldn’t have come from their own beliefs!

With no appetite in Congress or the White House for restrictions on gun access, Democrats have become all but resigned to inaction. And with one of their colleagues in critical condition, many were muted on Wednesday.

“The problem is that nobody looks for a middle ground,” said Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee.1

Just where is the ‘middle ground’ in “(T)he right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” To find some ‘middle ground’ between what the left would like, a complete ban on private ownership of firearms, and “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” has to mean that some of the rights of the people to keep and bear arms must be infringed.

That, of course, is just what the Democrats want, the foot in the door to infringe upon some of the rights of the people, after which the government, once Democrats regain control — and it will happen eventually — to steadily increase upon that infringement.

This is indicative of the real split between conservatives and the left: Republicans represent, primarily, more suburban and rural districts, districts in which the people are more conservative. The left appear to believe that the conservatives who represent those districts, the conservatives who come from those districts, really can’t believe the same things as their constituents, but are probably just faking it to win their elections. This is simply another manifestation of the last election, where the left simply could not believe that voters from conservative areas voted so heavily for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.2

The Democrats would never attempt to do something really radical, such as doing things the right way: if they believe that gun control is just so important, then they ought to try to repeal the Second Amendment. That process would be very difficult, requiring a 2/3 majority in both Houses of Congress, followed by ratification by 38 state legislatures, but it is the only honest way to do things.
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  1. In the Times original, the two paragraphs quoted here immediately preceded the paragraph in the previous quotation.
  2. I have previously stated that I voted for neither Mr Trump nor Mrs Clinton; I cast my ballot for Gary Johnson.

Lying to ourselves: the debt limit

From CNNMoney:

Mnuchin cites September as possible debt ceiling crunch

by Jeanne Sahadi | June 12, 2017: 7:53 PM ET

For the first time, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday offered a specific month for when the government might come dangerously close to breaching its legal debt limit.

“I am comfortable saying we can fund the government through the beginning of September. I would prefer not to give a range at this time,” Mnuchin said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Since mid-March, Treasury has been using special accounting measures to keep the government from defaulting on its obligations.

For the first time, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday offered a specific month for when the government might come dangerously close to breaching its legal debt limit.

“I am comfortable saying we can fund the government through the beginning of September. I would prefer not to give a range at this time,” Mnuchin said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Since mid-March, Treasury has been using special accounting measures to keep the government from defaulting on its obligations.

There’s more at the original.

But the sad truth is that we are already over the debt limit. According to the Treasury, the national debt stood at $19,947,304,555,212.49 on January 20, 2017, the day President Trump was inaugurated; it has actually dropped a bit, to $19,846,130,655,338.92, as of June 9, 2017. The drop is, of course, the result of more accounting gimmicks, but even with those gimmicks being used, we are still above the statutory debt limit of $19.81 trillion. Why are we talking about raising a debt ceiling that has been honored in the breach?

If we have to use accounting gimmicks, to make it seem like we are obeying the law, then we are doing nothing more than lying to ourselves.

Eric Posner, writing in The New Republic in 2013, argued that President Obama could, and should, simply ignore the debt limit if a hostile Congress refused to raise the debt limit. In the end, just before resigning from Congress, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) hammered out a budget deal which suspended the debt ceiling until March of this year. It’s somewhat doubtful that the Democrats would be so blithe about the solidity of the debt ceiling to help President Trump, certainly not in the way Mr Boehner helped President Obama.

The best way to deal with the debt ceiling is not to exceed it. President Trump has called for some significant spending cuts; those cuts, and more, should be enacted. And while I believe we are taxed too highly, I would rather forego the proposed tax cut, and reduce, and finally eliminate deficit spending.

Democrisy! Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) attends the opening of a coal mine after criticizing President Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate agreement Yet another reason Donald Trump is President

From Fox News:

First New Coal Mine of Trump Era Opens in Pennsylvania

June 10, 2017 | 1:09 PM EDT

President Trump lauded the opening of the nation’s first new coal mine in recent memory. Corsa Coal Company will operate the mine in Somerset County, Pa. – outside of Pittsburgh. Corsa CEO George Dethlefsen said the mine will be a boon to the struggling local economy. He praised Trump’s easing of regulations and encouragement for fossil fuel exploration.

Dethlefsen told Leland Vittert that for the 70 positions available in the mine, 400 people applied.

“It’s a hard day’s work every day, but it’s worth it,” one miner said.

Vittert said the news contrasts with Hillary Clinton’s message that she would “put a lot of coal miners out of work.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who endorsed Clinton, joined the mine company in watching a video message from Trump commemorating the occasion.

There’s more at the original. The video is below the fold, to keep the autoplay feature off of the main page.

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