Category Archives: Advice

Never give up. Never surrender. #NeverTrump

 

Better the GOP do battle with a know-nothing bigot (and lose the presidency) than become the party of know-nothing bigots (and still lose the presidency).”

“A lot of us come from modest backgrounds. Are working-class people now exempt from debate just because they harbor legitimate gripes about the economic realities of America? Or are we saying that Americans in a lower economic strata are uniquely susceptible to populist demagoguery? If you believe Trump can force Apple to build its phones in the United States, as the man claimed yesterday, you deserve derision. Not because you’re working-class, but because you’ll believe anything…Now, a major political party is about to succumb to illiberalism so it can emotionally satisfy this faction of irrational voters. America already has a party of protectionism, class warfare, and top-down economics. It doesn’t need two. It’d be better to burn down this iteration of Republican Party than leave it for the enemy to use in an arms race of government growth. It has nothing to do with securing the future of Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, and everything to do with principles about free markets and limited government…Just as Trump and his infuriated fans could sink the aspirations of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, traditional conservatives have the power to destroy the billionaire’s presidential future, as well. They can run a third-party candidate. It would be negligent if they didn’t.”

Donald Trump would be a worse president than Hillary Clinton…He’s surrounded himself in his campaign with low-intellect chuckleheads who have been selected for no reason other than their willingness to say literally anything on his behalf. He’s been endlessly fixated on polls since day one, which is a sure-fire indicator that he will govern based on what he polls tell him. And he has shown absolutely no ideological compass, except to the extent that it points left (which is why he repeatedly comes back to 9/11 trutherism, universal government run healthcare, and repeated praise of Planned Parenthood). He would, as the chief of state, destabilize the entire world with his insane rhetoric. He furthermore believes that as President, he would assume dictatorial control over United States trade policy, which he would use to disastrous effect…All things being equal, as a man with a family and children, I would probably prefer the slow decline of America under Hillary to the rapid collapse under Trump.
And make no mistake, Trump would lose to Hillary in truly epic fashion. While the media – who is heavily invested in Trump winning the GOP nomination – treats him as an amusing shock object right now, the second he passes the 1,237th delegate count, they are going to suddenly discover an interest in the ocean-sized well of scandal in Trump’s past. Scandal so deep and pervasive that the manifestly corrupt and fake Trump University is going to look like a charity. General election voters have still not really tuned in to Trump’s schtick, but once they are exposed to it, and to what a terrible and corrupt businessman Trump really is, they are going to run screaming in horror.
Which is exactly why the GOP had better hope that someone comes along and gives conservative voters a reason to go to the polls in November. Because if Trump takes a dive (which he definitely will), he’s going to take an absolutely massive chunk of the House and Senate with him, unless there’s a guy at the top of the ticket that conservatives want to show up and vote for. That still probably won’t save the Senate, but it will prevent the disaster from being as bad as it otherwise could have been.”

“I still hope, and pray, that Republicans won’t fall for this Democratic demagogue. But if Trump were to win the nomination, it would prove that the Party of Lincoln and Reagan was dead…The GOP has been a flawed vehicle to promote individual liberty, a sound national defense, and a dynamic economy. I had to swallow hard to vote for moderates like Romney and McCain. But voting for a big-government liberal is a bridge too far. If the keys are handed to a would-be strongman, I have no choice but to step out of the car and walk my own way. Unlike many in the GOP establishment, for me principle is always more important than power. My conscience can have it no other way. I joined the Party of Lincoln and the Party of Reagan. I will leave the Party of Trump. If that makes me a bad Republican, so be it. I seek to be a good American.”

“Our nation can survive lost elections, but over the long term it cannot survive a decayed culture. And by God I won’t vote for a man who takes a wrecking ball to the core values I hold dear. Those of us in the #NeverTrump camp are saying all this now — in the heat of the primary — not because we’re taking our ball and going home, but because we’re laying down a marker. We will fight Trump through every state, to the convention, and beyond. #NeverTrump isn’t a sign of surrender but rather a rallying cry. The battle, after all, is far from over.”

“The worst election result is not a Clinton or Sanders presidency, but a Trump presidency, where we have lost the credibility of opposition. It will fail to persuade others that limited government works, that liberty matters, that rights exist, and government is best when constrained. Trump’s election by the only party that even hints at these principles destroys credibility and undermines the long-term benefits of party principles.

No doubt there are those who will vote Trump no matter what, but what is not yet determined is whether he wins or loses, or whether he receives the approval of a majority of the country. Low voter turnout sends a clear message: We care about our principles and won’t endorse an authoritarian con-man. This about as organized-protest as I get, but a clear message is necessary: We do not endorse Trump…If conservatives seek to persuade others that small government is the way to go, it starts by rejecting Trump as forcefully as possible.”

“A vote for Trump is a vote against the principles that Republicanism and conservatism are built on. But I believe the case against Trump should go even further. I believe no American, conservative or liberal, should support Trump. He doesn’t simply violate conservative principles. He violates American principles. Donald Trump is a danger to self-government, civil liberties, the culture of democracy, and the ideals of a free and open society.

The case against Trump, then, is that he is an autocrat in democrat’s clothing, a tyrant in the wings, a bully who admires the ‘strength’ of tyrants and butchers, who finds a free press to be an inconvenience that he intends to tame with legal force once elected, a man who demonizes opponents and romanticizes violence, especially against minorities, who pines for the day when government could have its way with people without the trouble of constitutional law getting in the way.”

If it bleeds, we can kill it. March 15 is D-Day. #NeverTrump

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo via GOLDENRETRIEVERBAILEY Instagram

Happy Thanksgiving, guys! I’m the luckiest jackass in the world. So thankful for my wonderful life. Hope everyone enjoys their family and friends today. May your hearts and your bellies be full. Eat, drink, and be merry! (And Go Bears!)

Ben Domenech: “Thanksgiving serves as a reminder that for us today, compared to the history of our country and the planet, all the problems of modern America are rich people problems…Tomorrow blue collar working stiffs across the country are going to eat feasts that would put all but a handful of emperors in history to shame. The United States in 2015 is still the envy not only of every country in the world but every country in history. Our controversies are the controversies of a nation that has prospered to an unbelievable degree…America is not without her faults. But it has within its people a stoic spirit that for all the weaknesses of an era of soft heads and hearts is still firm as iron. When the world is at its worst, we are at our best. So let us be thankful for this: that we are incredibly fortunate to be Americans…We have the blessing and the privilege, whether born to deep roots or newly arrived from strange lands, of being the greatest people in the history of the man. The world is dark. But there is a light in the darkness, and it is us.”

Kevin Williamson: “Thanksgiving even more than Independence Day puts me in mind of the American idea; July 4 is about the American mode of government and political liberty, but Thanksgiving is about the much older American nation, which precedes the Declaration of Independence. Thanksgiving is about the weird ancient America, the religious fanatics and explorers and utopians and opportunists who came to what were then savage shores to freeze and starve and fight…What we built here wasn’t only good — it was better, better than anything the world had seen, and we shouldn’t give a second’s hearing to those who say otherwise…If we look back on the 18th century and sometimes wince, it is because what we built here inspired us (and the rest of the world) to dream of better things, and a better kind of life, than had seemed imaginable…Lots of places have good farmland, natural wealth, and navigable bodies of water: If that’s all it took, we could have all stayed in England or Bavaria or wherever. But we have something more: We’re crazy. Our forefathers crossed freezing oceans on little rickety boats because they had some odd ideas about how things should be done. We still do, which is why half of all the good things of our time were cooked up in garages in California.”

Charles C.W. Cooke: “We gather together because…we are the heirs to an extraordinary tradition and we have a great deal for which to be thankful…For a few short hours, we might reflect upon our remarkable fortune. And what fortune it is! To live in the United States in 2015 is to live better than almost every human being who has ever existed.”

Michael Tanner: “We should not allow the daily parade of grim headlines to obscure the progress that we have made. Think about it. Is there any other place or time you would really rather be living? We don’t need to make America great again. America is great. And this is a great time to be alive. So, as we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, we should turn off the TV news and keep in mind that we really do have a great deal to be thankful for.”

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A word on the refugee situation

Yes, America should accept refugees. We must remain, in my opinion, the “shining city on a hill,” the beacon of hope and freedom for persecuted and suffering people all over the world. That is not the question, as much as the Left is trying to make this out to be a xenophobia thing. The question is do we accept these refugees at this time under these circumstances.

Most important thing to remember: The duty of the government of the United States is to serve the best interests of American citizens, not Syrian citizens, not Libyan citizens, not anyone else’s citizens. So you must ask yourself: Is it in the best interest of the American people at this time to bring tens of thousands of military-age Muslim males into the country? I use that number because I’ve heard Democrat politicians float numbers between 65,000 and 100,000, regarding how many Syrian refugees we should accept (at least, this year). According to the UN, roughly 70 percent of the refugees coming out of Syria are young men. So, unless the administration’s policy changed (it won’t) to allow only women and children to come, we’re going to end up with an awful lot of military-age Muslim men.

This would probably make the American people less nervous if A) We weren’t currently letting terror groups like ISIS basically romp around unhindered; B) There was an end to the Syria conflict in sight; and C) We saw Muslim populations assimilating smoothly into Western societies. But, since ISIS is pulling off a mass casualty attack somewhere in the world on pretty much a weekly basis now, Americans do not feel that ISIS is “contained,” no matter how many times President SmartPower™ goes out there and lies to our faces about it. The war in Syria has been going on for four years and counting now and letting Iran and Russia run the show there insures conflict will continue for god knows how long. And, as we were reminded again this week, European countries like France and Belgium tried the “just be nice and let everyone in, it’ll be fine” approach and they now have large, unassimilated, often troublesome, Muslim populations (see: Minnesota Somali population for an example on a smaller scale at home).

This WSJ piece says it best:

It would be nice, and we would prefer, if Americans accepted Syrians the way they have so many war refugees over the decades—from the Jews of Europe, to the Hmong and Vietnamese, to Cubans and Afghans. The West needs loyal Muslims of moderate beliefs to help defeat the radicals; we shouldn’t want to alienate them. But refugees from those earlier foreign conflicts didn’t include agents who would continue the war on U.S. shores. As France is learning, Islamic State is only too happy to use the Syrian diaspora to plant its agents to kill the French. At least one of the killers on Friday is believed to have migrated from Syria through Greece and into Paris. Nearly all of the other migrants, Muslim and Christian, have no such bloody intent. But can you blame the average American for refusing to volunteer as a next door neighbor?

If Mr. Obama fought Islamic State with half the vigor with which he delivers moral lectures, he’d find that a much less fearful America would welcome far more refugees.

As for the “vetting” process, there’s no reason to believe, at this point, that this administration is capable of competently doing anything. So no, I don’t trust them to carefully vet these refugees.

My position from the beginning has been to make Syria a livable place again so the Syrian people can stay home. The Left’s solution is apparently to just move everyone to Europe and America.

I’m also sympathetic to this argument:

Many, if not most, of the refugees are men of military age. How about we take in women and children and the men put down their selfie-sticks and join our little ‘moderate Syrian’ army? If they aren’t willing to fight for their homeland, their freedom and their families, then we have zero responsibility to care for them.

The laudable desire to help refugees escape from ISIS and Assad does not justify completely suspending consideration of practical reality. As Ben Domenech wrote:

It is possible to believe two things: 1. That the United States should, out of compassion and humanitarianism, welcome as many Syrian refugees as we can prudently take in. And 2. That the number we can prudently take in is zero. There will be voices of rational and prudent concern on this issue, from the right of course and from vulnerable Democrats, but they will be drowned out by the easily anticipated media frame of the issue: that these Republicans are racist and xenophobic, that their backwards supporters have no basis whatsoever for believing these refugees contain people who may want to kill and terrorize, and that they are terrible Christians for being so obtuse. It is an obvious frame, but it will also run into a problem: polls will indicate that what these governors are doing is absolutely supported by their constituents.

Remember something as you watch the refugee coverage coming in the next few days, highlighting the xenophobia and underlying bigotry of Americans and particularly Republicans: the other side of this argument will not actually engage in a debate. They refuse to admit any possibility of cynicism or skepticism about the virtue of this approach. They jump right past the point of admitting that yes, some terrorists could be among this migrant population, and that yes, this could potentially lead to the deaths of hundreds or thousands of innocent American civilians. And in doing so, they skip right past the argument they would need to make – that those risks are worth it. They won’t even admit there are any risks. And that’s why their position – noble, pious, and insulated – will find little truck with Americans who have more practical concerns, such as: will any of these people try to kill me? The media’s response to that question may be: That’s racist or bigoted or backward. But that is not an answer that will satisfy.

So, Lefties, stop acting like everyone who believes maybe we should pause and think twice about this is racist.

It’s complicated and it’s serious. By the way, the moral preening about refugees from the same people who’ve been cheerleading the SmartPower™ which created this refugee crisis in the first place is nauseating. Dial it down. You have an opportunity to attack Republicans, so now you suddenly care about the children after being silent through four years of Assad barrel bombing and gassing them. Give me a fucking break.

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Hey, let’s all calm the fuck down

I understand why we’re upset about the lion. I’m upset about the lion. Luring an animal – and in this particular case, a glorified pet – off of a wildlife preserve, shooting it with a bow and arrow and then tracking it as it dies a slow, miserable death is horrible. This Walter Palmer guy is an asshole. But I don’t understand why we’re more upset about the lion than we are about things like late-term abortions or the atrocities Mugabe, Assad, ISIS, etc. commit every day or all the deaths we see on the streets of Chicago every weekend. What happened to the lion is awful, but with everything that’s currently going on in the world, this is what you have a mental breakdown on live TV over? Really? ISIS is throwing gay people off roofs every day. Assad is barrel bombing children every day. Poachers killed five elephants – who are much more endangered than lions – in Kenya on Monday. Toddlers are getting killed in gun crossfire in Chicago every other weekend. This man lost his life over a front license plate. Planned Parenthood is harvesting the organs of babies born alive. Why the national mental breakdown over a lion, for fuck’s sake?

Our brilliant media has spent more time on the lion in one day than they have on the Planned Parenthood videos in two weeks. Syrians should call themselves Cecil the Lion to get talk show hosts to cry whenever they’re slaughtered. Maybe if illegal immigrants started killing lions instead of people we could get some sanctuary city legislation passed. Maybe if a VA employee killed a lion they could be fired. But until then veterans will die and no one will care. I think it’s outrageous that a dentist signed a deal to give a lion billions of dollars in sanctions relief that won’t even prevent the lion from getting nukes. How awful. People should really do something about that.

Congresspeople are calling for the feds to investigate this dentist who, it appears, thought he had all the proper hunting permits and both Zimbabwe and the Justice Department are having a hard time figuring out if he actually broke any laws. “People on the internet are mad so let’s bring the full force and power of the federal government down on this guy’s head even though it’s not clear he broke any laws” seems like a bad way for a free society to operate. What a ridiculous society we’ve become. A dentist in Minnesota has lost his business, gone into hiding, and has to fear for his life because he killed a fucking lion no one had ever heard of three days ago. Insane. The media is looking into his political donations (because that’s how you find out if he’s really EVIL). Celebrities (like Sharon Osbourne, whose husband is known for biting the heads off animals and shooting his ex-wife’s cats) are tweeting about how this dentist is the worst person on earth and it will be so great when he loses his business and even his life. Leftists are suddenly concerned about infanticide, for once in their lives…

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The Progressive Mind:
Lion infanticide: Bad
Human infanticide: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Dear progressives,
Picture baby lions being killed, cut up and sold off as parts and then you’ll understand why many people are upset about what Planned Parenthood is doing.

And now, of course, progressives have to make this about politics and social issues and deeper meanings: “It’s more than a story about a man who killed a lion; it’s about gender roles, gun culture (or bow culture), values, America’s place in the world.” Oh shut up. It’s about a nation of children – who don’t possess the maturity to take on real, complex problems – being sad about Simba. Don’t overcomplicate this.

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NO. STOP.

Meanwhile, starving, unemployed Zimbabweans are like, “Hey Americans, take your dead lion concern and fuck off. We have real problems here.” This is such a First World Problem. Americans look at a lion and see a cartoon character. Zimbabweans look at a lion and see either what ate their family or what could feed their family. Your average Zimbabwean doesn’t care about Cecil the Lion. You average Zimbabwean cares that they’re unemployed, starving, and dying of preventable diseases thanks to a vicious dictator. And Americans look like privileged little assholes when the only moral outrage we ever muster about Zimbabwe is over a fucking cat. 

It’s funny that the crowd that gets heartbroken when our justice system gives sadistic murderers death sentences wants to have a corrupt, foreign dictatorship execute an American citizen for the legally disputed killing of a non-human. All because murdering any living thing is bad, bad, bad. Obviously, there’s a severe lack of reason going on in this hysteria, which probably explains why there’s so much hypocrisy here.

We can see the hypocrisy in the fact that the land where Cecil lived is one of the worst places to be a human on Earth — yet no attention seems to be paid Zimbabwe’s people in all the fuss surrounding a lion. It’d be akin to America going nuts over a slain crocodile in Cambodia while Pol Pot is committing genocide — and we completely overlook the genocide part. Zimbabwe is ruled by arguably the most vicious and corrupt despot living today, Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has managed to accumulate an extensive record of human rights abuses that would make past tyrants jealous…The nation is also home to one of the most corrupt judicial systems on the planet. That’s the same judicial system that’s now being called upon to try, convict and execute Walter Palmer.

While Mugabe’s shameful human rights record and the necklacing of Zimbabweans in South Africa both qualify as justifiable outrages, neither inhumanity elicits much attention from Americans or prominent left-wing groups. Maybe it’s because many young Americans have come to associate lions with cherished moments of their childhood, thanks to “The Lion King” and the prevalence of Beanie Babies. As we all know, there’s no popular children’s film about a white family having to flee their farm because of their skin color or toys of necklaced Zimbabweans. We as a nation look downright stupid when we go nuts over a dead animal while ignoring the crimes committed against humans in the same land. It’s time American liberals put down the stuffed animals and look at the world as it really is.

Take comfort, Lion Justice Warriors, in the fact that Cecil the Lion had a much better life than the average Zimbabwean.

P.S. You want to blame someone for lion deaths? Blame Mugabe.

It is no accident that one of the two men who accompanied the dentist on the safari, and who have now been arrested, was a farmer (the other was a professional hunter hired by Palmer as a guide). State wildlife officials claim that Honest Trymore Ndlovu helped lured the lion off the wildlife reserve and onto his property, Antoinette Farm, where the beast was killed. Why would he do such a thing? Perhaps because he is a farmer in a country where agriculture is an industry of destitution. Zimbabwe was once celebrated as the “breadbasket of Africa,” whose fertile earth supplied the world with abundant tobacco, corn and wheat. Today, 76% of its rural population lives in abject poverty, dependent on foreign food aid and desperate measures — like the poaching of the wildlife that inhabits its otherwise barren lands, or rendering assistance to those who want to hunt or poach.

In 2000, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe enacted a disastrous land-reform policy. Farms were divided up and nationalized and many plots were handed out to generals and ministers. Thousands of white landowners were violently evicted from their farms, which were then parceled into smallholdings and given to black Zimbabweans. The destruction of property rights led to a disintegrating economy and widespread poverty. Poaching — to feed the insatiable demand for rhino horn and ivory in China and other parts of Asia — became rife and much of the wildlife in Zimbabwe was simply wiped out.

Until 2000 Zimbabwe had a successful wildlife-management program, with many big-game animals flourishing. But by 2003, a staggering 80% of the animals that had lived on Zimbabwean safari camps (which employed firm quotas to regulate animal population sizes) had died. By 2007, there were only 14 private game farms in the country, compared with 620 prior to the land seizures of 2000, according to a National Geographic report. With the protection of private game reserves nearly nonexistent, once abundant wildlife began dying off, hunted by desperate farmers with no other options for sustenance. Despite the passing of harsher laws for poachers in 2011 illegal hunting in Zimbabwe is still big business…Many conservationists believe allowing the community to reap the benefits of wildlife management — by, ironically, running the sorts of safaris on which Palmer shot his lion — will help curb illegal poaching. But it is impossible to have that debate while the world brays for the ruin of a lone Minnesotan dentist, and fails to criticize a regime whose policies were responsible for the almost complete extinction of Zimbabwean wildlife in the first place.

I think lions are cool and I think anyone who can gleefully kill one for fun is a jerk, but Palmer and his children shouldn’t have to live in fear for their lives over killing a cat. It’s ridiculous. While I’m not personally a fan of trophy hunting and this kill seems especially cruel, hunters like Palmer actually do more for conservation than all of the whiny Twitter users bellowing from their basements combined. America’s now-biweekly sport of “let’s find a jackass doing something nasty somewhere on earth and ruin his life to make ourselves feel moral,” will end badly at some point. One of these people will actually get killed at some point because they had the bad luck to be the random choice of the Outrage Mob this week.

And I find the current moral preening by people who have given zero fucks as Mugabe has absolutely destroyed Zimbabwe, its people and its wildlife extremely irritating. I don’t remember any of these Lion SuperFans being upset a few months ago when Mugabe slaughtered and ate baby elephants and lions at his birthday party. I haven’t seen any of these people get upset over the elephants killed on Monday that I mentioned above. Spare me the hypocrisy, leather-wearing burger-eaters. i don’t mind people being upset about the death of a beautiful, majestic creature, carried out in a cruel way. I’m bothered that these same people are not bothered by so many other cruelties, and have just latched onto this one as a form of social signaling more than anything else. And that’s because this is easy.

The last few days undoubtedly have shown that the moral priorities of a great many Americans are woefully inverted…It’s not difficult to see that our inclination to mobbishness is, at least in part, a reaction to being psychically overwhelmed by issues that are too complex, and too many, to sort through. Instead, we retreat, aiming to seize upon occasions for easy moral outrage. In the midst of so many troubles about which Sharon Osbourne, let alone the average Yelp reviewer, can do so little, social media is the perfect medium for theatrical, self-affirming expressions of moral superiority. The shrinking of the world has, in fact, shown us just how big it is. What can you do? Well, you can get mad.

There are no solutions to this problem, but it might be mitigated. In an earlier time, the excesses of a Walter Palmer would have been the interest of Zimbabwean authorities, perhaps a few American policemen, and whatever private sporting organizations he belonged to. The “daily business” of London lawyers, Dutch cat owners, and electronica producers in Dubai — all of whom have demanded that Palmer himself be hunted down — would have been considerably more provincial. Without neglecting crucial matters of national or international concern, an effort to refocus on the provincial could do much good. What does it matter to a citizen of Buffalo, N.Y., or Plainview, Tex., that a Minnesota man killed a lion halfway around the world? Nothing. But it matters a great deal if your Buffalo neighborhood is succumbing to blight, or if your child’s Plainview public school is lousy. And, of course, about those problems a person can do something. This is “daily business” to which one can actually attend. The problem, of course, is that you cannot credibly posture on Twitter about a dangerous intersection nearby. Rage is easy; responsibility isn’t. Most people would rather roar about lions.

Amy Otto expands on why this has become the perfect story for our dumb media:

Cecil the Lion is the perfect media story because it requires zero resolution. It simply creates a space for folks to morally preen about how sad they are about this. It’s a nationwide pity party. The media loves it because the story requires no deep discussion, no real inquiry, and no real thought. In other words, the media is stupid. Really, they aren’t clever at all. They are soaked in their own biases and have lost the capacity for critical thinking. Society loves a great story that we can all be against and say “that’s bad” and have to do absolutely nothing about. It’s the perfect zero-responsibility outragepalooza fit for the news entertainment business.

The media, the nation, and our government have become a nation of punters. We simply want to feel like we are right, not ever figure out what is right. So any story that needs no resolution but can create outrage plus be used as a tool to reconfirm biases will be huge. That’s why Cecil the Lion is still the biggest story this week.

Uh oh. Shit’s getting real now…

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(All praise Ben Howe for that meme).

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Reminder: The SOTU is un-American garbage and you shouldn’t watch it.

Kevin Williamson said it best last year:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live. It’s the most nauseating display in American public life.

Amen, brother! Charles C.W. Cooke got the honors of writing the “SOTU sucks!” piece this year at NRO. From his piece:

As a matter of basic constitutional propriety, there is something unutterably rotten about the State of the Union. The essential principle of the American settlement, Thomas Jefferson confirmed in a 1797 letter, “is that of a separation of legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions.” And as far as possible, he added, it is incumbent upon “every friend of free government” to keep it that way. Why, then, each and every January are we happy to watch the head of the executive branch walk slap bang into the middle of the legislature and deliver an unchallenged, immoderate, and entirely self-serving lecture about himself and his desires? Why do we permit one branch to issue a campaign speech in the heart of enemy territory? How do we imagine we are serving the interests of fractured government by assembling all of its moving parts in one place?

Within the English system of government — in which the executive and the legislature are fused — such an arrangement would make perfect sense. Within the Madisonian system, however, it is little short of preposterous — especially when one considers that the legislature is accorded no opportunity whatsoever to push back. Explaining his decision to abolish the practice in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson contended that the new country should not tolerate a pageant so similar in nature to the British Speech from the Throne, and announced instead that he would be fulfilling his constitutional duties in writing.

Since the practical consequences of his 2010 electoral “shellacking” became clear to him, the president has spent a good amount of his time mocking the legislature’s claims to power — and, in such instances as it has had the audacity to disagree with him, promising to ignore it completely. “If Congress won’t act,” Obama has threatened over and over again, “I will.” And yet, in spite of these provocations, large swaths of that same legislature are at present preparing to smile and to holler and to applaud their great leader — even, it can be guaranteed, when he is explaining to them how he intends to usurp their prerogatives…It can certainly not be hoped that this chief executive will limit himself in the name of abstract, Jeffersonian principle — nor, for that matter, is it likely that his successor will, either. But why, one has to wonder, does Congress continue to applaud the charade?

As I’ve stated previously, I don’t think Boehner and McConnell should have even invited him this year. He has zero respect for the legislative branch. Why on earth invite him to come into your place of work and lecture and scold you? Masochists. Anyway, go play with your kids for an extra hour tonight or read a book or play Reason‘s Cards Against Humanity SOTU game. Do not indulge this desperate egomaniac and his tired, failed third-grade level ideas.

Gross. Get over yourself.

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Some thoughts on Eric Garner

I haven’t seen Left and Right this united over something in quite awhile. The evidence supports outrage in the Garner case. It did not in the Brown case. (But, unsurprisingly, the Left can’t look past their race narrative to see the distinction.) As you probably heard last night, there will be no indictment of the cop who caused Eric Garner’s death by putting him in a chokehold (which is not illegal, but is against the NYPD’s rules after they found it was causing people’s deaths) after he mildly resisted arrest over untaxed cigarettes. Now, we don’t know what the Grand Jury saw, but it’s difficult to imagine what they could have seen that would have trumped the obvious probable cause provided by the video evidence and the coroner’s report (his death was ruled a homicide). This looks like fairly obvious second degree manslaughter and how this didn’t at least go to trial is beyond me. Remember, the standard for an indictment is probable cause. Like I said, maybe the Grand Jury saw other evidence (it would be nice if they would release all the evidence to the public a la Ferguson, but the little bit they did release tells us nothing) or maybe the prosecutor is corrupt. Here’s the best analysis I’ve seen of the case from tough-on-crime, former federal prosecutor from New York, Andrew McCarthy who concludes: “I thus cannot in good conscience say there was insufficient probable cause to indict Officer Pantaleo for involuntary manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.”

The media and the protestors have finally picked a case that actually warrants getting upset about, but the irony is the protestors are Leftists who are protesting Leftist policies imposed by the Leftist politicians they consistently vote for…but they don’t realize it. You can keep protesting, protestors, but nothing will change as long as you keep voting the way you do. Government = force, coercion, no accountability, etc….and you keep voting for the party of more government. As Jon Gabriel wrote yesterday:

I find it odd that the New York’s Mayor is demanding that the public protest against the NYPD, an organization that he ostensibly runs. The Mayor seems to be protesting himself. This is a continuing problem we see with many elected leftists. The romantic view of the protestor speaking Truth to Power maintains a steel grip on the progressive imagination. It is hard for De Blasio, Holder and Obama to shed the language and tactics of protest even though they run the establishment, top to bottom. Not only does the Left run the federal, state and local governments of New York, they run the media, the academy, the world of entertainment, and much of big business.

When a CEO is disappointed with his company’s performance in Q3, he changes policy and personnel to improve in Q4. He doesn’t carry a sign through the parking lot shouting “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Joe in Accounting’s Got to Go!” He just makes the changes; that’s his job. If De Blasio wants to change the culture or procedures of the NYPD, meet with the police chief and get it done. You can’t keep fighting The Man when The Man is you.

De Blasio is responsible for reimplementing the flawed “broken windows” policing tactics, by the way, which lead to incidents like this one. These tactics encourage police to crack down on minor offenses (such as selling untaxed cigarettes, aka “loosies”). So instead of getting handed a ticket, Eric Garner gets put in a chokehold that results in his death over some “loosies.”

Here’s why Eric Garner is no longer with us: Nanny state Lefties think they know what’s best for you and therefore should impose it on you by force, so they tax cigarettes at 1000% because cigarettes are bad for you and they think by making them unaffordable they’re forcing you into making the correct life choice (quitting smoking). Their taxes don’t affect the rich, of course, they just make it impossible for the poor (who can’t possibly make their own decisions, duh, silly plebs) to afford cigarettes. So a black market for cigarettes is created because here’s the thing: unless you live under a fucking rock, you know cigarettes are bad for you. You’re not smoking them because you think they’re good for you. You’re smoking them because you’re addicted and you can’t stop and/or you just enjoy it. Smokers know it’s bad for them just like I know junk food is bad for me. But guess what? I eat it anyway, because I want to. I’m a consenting adult in a free society who doesn’t need Gaius Julius Bloomberg or Comrade de Blasio to make that decision for me. As anyone who has any knowledge of human nature or history or even a fucking modicum of common sense knows, the elites telling the plebs they should stop doing something doesn’t mean it stops being done. People will find a way to get what they want anyway, but now you’ve just made it illegal. And now that it’s illegal, the state is allowed to use force, which will sometimes be deadly force. And so here we are.

Eric Garner died because he was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes to people who just want a smoke but now can’t afford to buy a pack thanks to the nanny state. The nanny state will now probably raise cigarette taxes to pay for the civil wrongful death suit that is likely – rightly – coming their way from Garner’s family, because the government is broke as it continues to spend money it doesn’t have. It resolves this problem, not by exercising some actual fiscal responsibility and balancing the books, but by mining its citizens for money. As Radley Balko reported in St. Louis, and now we see it here, the state-to-citizen relationship starts to break down when people constantly feel they are being shaken down and scolded and bothered and fined for every little goddamn thing. Eric Garner’s last words are not the words of an aggressive man who wants to physically fight the police. They are the words of an exhausted man who is tired of being hassled for trying to make some money to feed his family by selling a legal product in a way that has now been made illegal by a bunch of arrogant, capricious bureaucrats:

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And so, while the Left is going to continue with its race narrative because that’s what they do, hopefully some will wake up and realize that big government kills blacks, whites, adults, children, dogs, etc. every day over stupid little petty laws. I post many examples of this in my links from time to time. Race may be a factor in some cases, but I think it’s mainly about the powerful vs. the weak. I think it’s less about hating someone because of the pigmentation of their skin, and more about recognizing that some people are weaker in our society (poorer, can’t afford a lawyer, etc.) and therefore can be more easily taken advantage of. We’ve sadly reached a point as a society where the state is much, much more powerful than the citizen. That’s not what we were supposed to be. Whether the state is assaulting you or your property, the sad fact is, they usually get away with it. The IRS doesn’t give a fuck for the same reason the police don’t give a fuck (not all, but some). Because what are you going to do about it? Nothing. It’s the powerful (police, unions, politicians, anything backed by the state) vs. the weak (us, the average citizens). Here’s another example that will make your blood boil:

Wally Kowalski, an engineer living in a farmhouse in rural southwest Michigan, came home one day last September to find his property swarming with cops. They told him that they had spotted his marijuana plants from a helicopter. Kowalski has a license to grow and distribute medical pot to several low-income people who depend on the drug. He grows the plants in a garden area enclosed by a barbed wire fence.

But whether or not Kowalski had a legal right to grow mattered little to the state police, who seized his power generator—even though it had nothing to do with his marijuana plants—and some expensive equipment. They also destroyed the plants. Kowalski told the Mackinac Center for Public Policy that they grabbed anything likely to be sold at a police auction. He said they were positively giddy after searching his house and finding his financial papers…The police froze his accounts, rendering him unable to make payments on his student loans or other bills. And he could no longer complete the immigration process for his wife, a resident of Africa.

The authorities haven’t charged Kowalski with a crime. They didn’t even confiscate his marijuana license—probably because it has no auction value. He wishes they would—at least then he could defend himself in court, in front of a judge or jury. As things stand, he’s unsure what he’s supposed to do to convince the police to give him back his property.

Thomas Williams, another southwest Michigan resident, suffered a similar ordeal. His medical marijuana activities prompted police to ransack his property while they left him handcuffed for 10 hours. The cops took his car, phone, TV, and cash. Afterward, he had no means of getting to the grocery store or even contacting another human being for days. Like Kowalski, he hasn’t been charged with a crime. That was over a year ago. The police still have his stuff.

Government/the state is force. It is violence. It is not “just the name for things we do together” or whatever fluffy bunny bullshit way the Left wants to describe it. This is why there should be few laws and why that force should be used in few circumstances.

This is why I can’t stand the “do something!” crowd that rates Congress based on how many laws it passes. We have way too many laws as it is. People need to understand that when a law is passed the state is duty bound to enforce it and may end up killing a guy who resists arrest for it.

As George Washington (might have) said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Robert Tracinski has a masterful piece on all of this. Here’s an excerpt, but go read the whole thing:

The thing that strikes me as most important about the Garner case is how stupid the reason was for arresting this guy: he was being busted for selling single, “loose” cigarettes in order to evade heavy taxes on tobacco products. Basically, he was arrested for doing something that, in a previous era, thousands of people would have been doing in New York on any given day: selling goods on the streets of the city without any particular permission. It’s a low-grade form of entrepreneurialism. But not in the nanny-state New York of today. In a city where everything is taxed and regulated and you can’t put trans-fats in your food or buy a soda that’s too large, it makes perfect sense that they would harass a guy for selling cigarettes on the streets without permission. After all, they’re bad for people. Somebody might die.

This case is a reminder that, as Twitter user Bill Hobbs put it, government is force, and more government equals more force. Government is not a benevolent authority working bloodlessly behind the scenes to ensure seamless social harmony. Government is a guy giving you orders about what you can’t do—with a gun on his hip, handcuffs at the ready, and a muscular arm to wrap around your neck if you resist.

Putting stiff taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking may sound great, and shouldn’t we do it for the children? But what it means in actual, concrete practice, is this: Every confrontation between police and citizens has the potential to go wrong and accidentally kill someone. This is actually why I have some sympathy for the police. Their job is to be the instrument of all the laws we pass. So when the law descends from the clouds of benevolent abstraction and becomes a diktat telling specific, actual human beings what to do, the cop’s job is to make good on that diktat by using force against citizens.

We should remember that whenever the police use force, there is the danger that they will kill someone, whether through malice, poor judgment, poor training, or sheer accident. From time to time, they’re going to shoot the wrong person or wrestle a guy to the ground without knowing that he has serious health problems and can’t survive this kind of rough handling. That is one good reason (among many) to make sure that police are only authorized to interfere with someone whose actions are a threat to the lives and property of others, and not just to enforce some dumb, petty regulation.

The contradiction of the left is that they want to inject government into every little aspect of our lives and mandate that the police confront us all the time over everything—and then they scream when some of those confrontations go wrong. In this way, they are not only hoping for a new series of contentious, racially charged killings. By extending the reach of government and the omnipresence of police power in our lives, they are creating the conditions that make those cases inevitable.

But go ahead Lefties, continue to make the Garner case all about race if you must and we can continue to not solve the problem.

Some additional links:

None of the 4 EMS workers or 8 (!) cops on the scene lifted a finger to administer any aid to Garner as he was lying on the ground dying. What the hell is wrong with people?

David Harsanyi on how stupid laws can kill people.

Here are Radley Balko’s thoughts. He also points out that the cop had previously been sued twice for violating citizen’s constitutional rights.Abusive cops are notoriously difficult to fire (like abusive teachers) because of unions, of course. Another issue that needs to be dealt with that the Left refuses to deal with.

Ross Douthat hones in on another key problem that needs to be resolved: cops seem much too eager to use aggressive force these days, as I’ve written previously.

Ace offers a very reasonable dissent, though I disagree.

I’ll close with Charles C.W. Cooke’s great piece on all of this, in which he flushes out why progressives and conservatives are both outraged, but for different reasons. Here’s an excerpt:

Was Garner killed deliberately? No, of course he was not. Whatever the protesters might be chanting today, intent matters a great deal, and we are quite obviously not dealing here with a premeditated murder. Nevertheless, we should all be willing to acknowledge that Garner would never have been so much as approached had the city not wanted its pound of flesh in the first instance. Because there are consequences to all laws — however minor — it is incumbent upon us to ask if those laws are worth the risks that they yield. What, I wonder, would the anti-tax rebels who threw off the British Empire make of the news that a man had lost his life for peacefully selling a “loosie”? Is this why governments are instituted among men?

Evidently, this question occurred to others, too, for as soon as the decision had been announced, conservatives began to quote Cicero’s maxim — “the more laws, the less justice” — and to propose that by contriving fewer instances in which government force is deemed to be appropriate, we will limit the number of accidents and injustices perpetrated in the name of the state. Generally speaking, those on the right took a number of positions simultaneously: They were outraged by the behavior of both the cop and the Grand Jury, but they were also keen to note that the case was egregious and that it was newsworthy precisely because it was rare. There are hundreds of thousands of arrests made in New York every year, they observed, and this sort of thing rarely happens. Nevertheless, those who want to make sure it happens even less, they proposed, might stop calling for government that intrudes in every nook and cranny of our lives.

From what I can see, the Left found this reaction utterly perplexing — at best a distraction from the issues; at worst the cynical hijacking of a tragedy…On the face of it, then, we have a paradox: To wit, that those who believe these incidents to be rare are the ones making a strong case against the sort of laws that bring cops into contact with minor criminals; while those who believe that these things happen as a matter of routine reject such talk out of hand. On closer inspection, however, this is not quite as peculiar as it seems. Rather, it goes back to the fundamental philosophical cleavages that animate and undergird American life. As a rule, progressives believe that human nature can be changed over time, that abuses of power can be rooted out with better education and the selection of more angelic enforcers, and that by playing with societal variables in precisely the right way we will be able to turn the state into a benevolent and loving force. In consequence, the only real villains in this case are the cop and his prejudices, and to allow those to deprive us of laws designed to raise revenue, to protect community businesses, and to improve public health would be irresponsible and unfair.

Conservatives, by contrast, tend to be more convinced by the Hayekian asseveration that human nature is essentially fixed and that any consolidation of power serves eventually to attract to public service those who are least capable of bearing the responsibility. These people not only regard the Left’s refusal to connect the ideas of “government” and “force” as being illustrative of a more general unwillingness to acknowledge the consequences of its philosophy, but they believe that anybody who wishes to diminish the abuse of power without also diminishing the scope of that power is irredeemably naïve — and possibly even dangerous. To start any reform by proposing that the state must improve the human condition and eliminate the vicissitudes of daily life is, in this way of thinking, to admit that you don’t have a plan at all.

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I love this man.

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