Hillary’s War on the Bill of Rights

To the surprise of exactly no one, Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech was mainly the same old plodding boilerplate that she has been droning on about for decades. But it’s worth going through, because underneath it all lies a collection of truly awful ideas. Not least among them is an assault on the Bill of Rights.

 

Let’s begin by using the transcript of the speech published by the NY Times.

 

“My primary mission as President” said Mrs. Clinton, “will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States. From my first day in office to my last!”

 

This would come as quite a surprise to the Founders because among other things, they had more important things to do than dream up mission statements with the help of focus groups. Instead, they cut right to the chase. Here, for example, is what the Presidential oath of office actually says:

 

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

 

This is no small point inasmuch as the Democratic Convention delegates decided to wrap themselves in faux fealty to the Constitution. For example, the NY Times correctly describes Khizr Khan as the most powerful speaker at the convention. Mr. Khan, a Muslim American who lost his son, an Army Captain, in the Iraq war, issued a strong rebuttal to Donald Trump when he pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his pocket and said “Mr. Trump have you even read the Constitution?”

 

The same question may be asked of Hillary Clinton, graduate of Yale Law school.

 

Nowhere for instance does the U.S. Constitution refer to creating “good jobs with rising wages”. But it does refer to freedom of speech, religion and assembly. Specifically the First Amendment reads:

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

That simply will not do in Hillary Clinton’s America. She promises to change the First Amendment to overturn Citizens United so that incumbents can regulate the political speech of their adversaries. Actually she hasn’t even bothered to wait for a Constitutional amendment. She (like Donald Trump) has already begun to use government power to silence adversaries.

 

As Judge Andrew Napolitano has pointed out, the prohibition against using government power to silence free speech is universally understood to refer to all agencies and branches of government, not just the Congress. And yet, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump used the Secret Service illegally during their respective conventions to harass and silence dissenters.

 

Here is an excerpt from Judge Napolitano describing the situation:

“…When the Republican leadership wanted to quell a “Never Trump” boomlet on the convention floor, it had the Secret Service remove all reporters and producers — including some of my Fox News colleagues — from the floor. And when the Democratic leadership wanted to silence a pro-Bernie Sanders onslaught on the convention floor, it had the Secret Service confiscate Sanders placards from delegates on the floor.”

 

So both the Republican and Democratic nominees used the Secret Service as a private security force to quash dissent under the pretext of maintaining security for nominees who were not being threatened.

 

The 1st amendment, which Justice Brennan described as foundational, is not the only one to which Hillary Clinton is hostile.

 

She has no intention of defending the 2nd amendment, which guarantees the right of a citizen to bear arms. Neither is she a fan of the 4th amendment, which guarantees the right of people to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. For example, Time magazine reports that she has called for more surveillance of social media and those who travel “to countries with a terrorist presence.” That encompasses roughly every country in the world.

 

It is also difficult to imagine Hillary Clinton coming to the defense of the takings clause of the 5th amendment. That clause reads:
“…[No person] shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

 

When asked about the use of eminent domain, Clinton’s campaign responded as follows: “… she will pull together all agencies with project permitting and eminent domain authority to pursue a comprehensive strategy for modernizing America’s energy that creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves safety and powers a 21st century economy. This whole-of-government strategy will streamline an inefficient and patchwork permitting process while respecting landowners’ property rights and improving transparency and public participation.” (Emphasis added).

 

Let’s translate this into English. Government, in the name of efficiency, (Seriously?), will grab private property while “respecting” landowners’ property rights. Nowhere does she say that landowners will be justly compensated as the law demands. And there is a good reason why she doesn’t. Regulatory takings made without any compensation, much less just compensation, are an integral part of the Administrative state because they disguise the cost of a whole host of policies that depend on these takings, especially environmental policies.

 

Nor has Mrs. Clinton voiced any disapproval over the summary execution of U.S. citizens who find themselves on the Presidential “kill list” that authorizes drone strikes around the world. And yes, there is a “kill list” that has been implemented and reported in the NY Times, the New Yorker, and the Huffington Post, among others.

 

So it goes for the 5th amendment.

 

Then there is the 6th amendment, which guarantees, “…The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…” So that amendment goes out the window with the 5th unless you believe that being placed on a Presidential “kill list” constitutes a speedy and fair public trial. As progressives apparently do.

 

The 10th amendment, part of the architecture of federalism, reserves to the States or the people powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution. Hillary Clinton’s plan for “free college” for students in families making under $125,000 turns state university systems into wholly owned subsidiaries of the federal government. In fact her desire for an expansion of the cradle-to-grave welfare state is nothing less than an attempt to further centralize policy and power in the hands of Washington, and is an affront to federalism. So out goes the 10th amendment.

 

And we haven’t even had a chance to consider the merits of her policy proposals.

 

That will have to come later.

JFB

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Donald Trump: Comedian

Donald Trump now says he was only joking when he invited Russian intelligence agencies to find and release Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing e-mails.

Sure he was. Watch his delivery in the video below and see what a thigh slapper his joke is.

But the hilarity doesn’t end there.

There is that great joke he told about about defaulting on the national debt. Or was it abandoning NATO, or the bit about deporting 11 million people, or that great riff about Ted Cruz’s father and the Kennedy assassination that was so hysterical. Then there is the whole birther routine.

And Trump says that he is the only one who can solve the nation’s problems. Now there’s a joke for you.

JFB

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Quick Hits July 25, 2016

More Hacks
Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook charged that leaked DNC e-mails were leaked by Russian intelligence agencies for the purpose of helping Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign also argues, rather implausibly, that the candidate’s home brew server was not hacked.

For his part, Donald Trump has suggested that he might not back NATO countries in the Baltics were they to be attacked by Russia.

Democratic Dismay
Democrats feigned dismay at the chants of “lock her up” at the Republican convention. Bernie Sanders supporters took to the streets of Philadelphia on Sunday chanting, ”lock her up” and carrying “Hillary for Prison” signs. Now they are really dismayed.

 

Waserman Schulz Tossed Overboard
Debbie Wasserman Schulz will resign as head of the DNC. Her position became untenable after Wikileaks published about 20,000 hacked e-mails showing that the supposedly neutral DNC actively worked to derail the Sanders campaign for the benefit of Hillary Clinton.

 

Trump Appears to Get a Post Convention Bounce
In a four-way matchup Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton 44% to 39%, with Gary Johnson (Libertarian) getting 9% and Jill Stein (Greens) getting 4%. Clinton also got her worst-ever rating in trustworthiness with 68% saying she is not honest and trustworthy. Meanwhile, in the wake of his defiant speech at the Republican convention Ted Cruz’s favorable ratings have plummeted among Republicans. Only 33% have a positive impression of him versus 60% before the speech.

 

Bryan Pagliano: The Missing Man in the Clinton e-Mail Scandal
The Daily Beast takes a behind-the-scenes look at the case of Bryan Pagliano, the tech who set-up Hillary’s Clinton’s private server. Pagliano was on the State Department payroll as a political appointee while also being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign on the side. Pagliano, who was given use immunity by the FBI, still asserts his Fifth Amendment rights. The Daily Beast investigates.

JFB

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Vote Your Conscience

“I am your voice,” bellowed Trump from the podium. “I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order”. The audience went wild, bursting into applause.

 

Hail Caesar! Hail Trump!

 

The day before Ted Cruz, calling on the spirit of Lincoln, implored voters to go out and “…vote your conscience….” That was, in the minds of Trump supporters, the ultimate tergiversation. So they booed him offstage. Perhaps by now it has finally dawned on Trump supporters that if people actually did go out to vote their consciences, candidate Trump would lose in a landslide. And rightly so.

 

 

Consider: The morning after his acceptance speech, Trump was back to implying that Ted Cruz’s father was vaguely connected to the Kennedy assassination. He did so by citing a story in the National Enquirer—yep—the very same National Enquirer that you see in the grocery store at the checkout counter.

 

According to Slate, Trump apparently referenced a story that had appeared in the National Enquirer with the headline: “Ted Cruz’s Father Now Linked to JFK Assassination”. About the Enquirer Trump went on to say “This was a magazine that, in many respects, should be well-respected”.

 

The man is simply unhinged. As are his supporters. After all, they are apparently willing to take seriously a man who cites lurid headlines from the National Enquirer as a legitimate source of information. Such is the mindset of Trump’s cult-of-personality following.

 

Behind every political personality cult lurks an authoritarian, and the followers, a mob. Putin or Peron, Mussolini or Mao—take your pick. It makes little difference. Switch the Mao jacket for an Armani suit and you still have an authoritarian. The only question: how far he will go? The answer: as far as he can. That is why we should be grateful the Founders created the separation of powers. And why we should vigorously resist the efforts of Republican central planners (Trump) as well as Democratic ones (Obama, Clinton et. al.).

 

Republicans used to argue that government was too big and too powerful; that the separation of powers was needed to prevent the concentration of government power in one place; that the market, which relied on voluntary transactions, was the best way to serve the needs of consumers and allocate resources. Most of all they argued that freedom depended on property rights, the sanctity of contract, the rule of law, a robust civil society and a culture of individual responsibility and accountability. That went out the window in Cleveland.

 

Vote your conscience.

 

JFB

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Hillary Clinton Tries Again to Crush Free Speech

Hillary Clinton, one of the most corrupt politicians in U.S. history, and certainly the most corrupt to become the presumptive nominee of a major party, has promised to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and thus gut the first amendment. This she promises to do within her first 30 days in office, should she win the Presidency. She also announced that she intends to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. And she will promote SEC rulemaking that would require publicly traded companies to disclose all political spending to their shareholders.

 

The professed reason for all this is to “…protect against influence of billionaires and special interests and to restore the role of average voters in elections”. Mind you this is coming from a woman who, along with her husband, garnered some $229 million giving speeches to organizations between 2001 and 2014 that had business before the U.S. government. That loot, which is what it is, included foreign entities that had business and other dealings with the U.S. government, including the time that Clinton served as a U.S. Senator and later as Secretary of State.

 

The conduit for much of the cash was the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton family slush fund that that finances the Clinton’s travel and living expenses. By using the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees as the preferred instruments for collecting cash, the Clintons managed to side step laws that prohibit foreign entities from making campaign donations and creating super-PACS.

 

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard reports that Bill Clinton’s speaking fees exploded when Hillary became Secretary of State. For example, according to Barnes,
“[Bill Clinton] gave two speeches in Nigeria at $700,000 apiece. He was paid $750,000 by Ericsson, the Swedish telecom company, for a speech in Hong Kong. He gave 13 speeches for more than $500,000 a pop from the time he stepped down as president in 2001 to the day his wife left as secretary of state in 2013. Eleven of them occurred while she was in office, Schweizer found. PolitiFact confirmed his numbers and speech dates.”

 

And then there was Laureate International Universities, parent company of a diploma mill that received $55 million in State Department grants. Bill Clinton served as honorary chancellor of that operation for 5 years and got paid $16.5 million for doing so. George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley took a look at the operation and raised serious questions about it on his blog.

 

So the Clinton’s are corrupt as the day is long. But as they like to say: “That’s old news”. More problematic is Hillary Clinton’s renewed frontal assault on the First Amendment. The point of her “common sense rules” and disclosure requirements for political speech is hardly to reduce corruption. After all, the Clintons are as corrupt as they come, and the proposed rules would not materially affect their behavior one bit.

 

The point of the Clinton proposal is to make it easy for left-wing groups to use disclosure requirements to intimidate donors. Once it is revealed that a corporation or an individual has donated to a cause or point of view that is out of favor, the attack begins. Remember the case of Brendan Eich, founder of Mozilla? When it was revealed that he personally donated all of $1,000 in favor of Prop 8 that would ban same sex marriage, he was hounded out of his job as CEO. Lefties remain unapologetic and continue to defend his ouster. Incidentally, Eich was on the majority side. Prop 8 passed 52% to 48%.

 

Then there were the cases of the Tea Party Organizations that had the IRS turned loose on them by the Obama Administration, as recounted by Kimberly Strassel. Government agencies in those cases demanded Tea Party donor lists. For the same purpose—intimidation—lefty activists want access to the political spending of corporations. Hillary is volunteering to help them out by seeking SEC rules that would require disclosure. So activists can go out and buy a small amount of stock and, pretending to be real investors, demand disclosure as a prelude to a public attack.

 

Note that the proposed SEC rule and other disclosure requirements would leave labor unions unaffected.

 

Now, before turning to the merits of the case, let’s dispense with two of the oft-repeated myths about the Citizens United decision that have its opponents so riled up.

 

Myth # 1: Citizens United made corporations persons under law. Not so. That determination was made in the 19th century, beginning with Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1818). The Court affirmed that corporations were entitled to the 14th amendment’s equal protection provision in Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co v. Pennsylvania in 1888.

 

Myth # 2: Citizens United allows corporations and wealthy individuals to contribute “unlimited money” for their election campaigns, thereby controlling those politicians. Not even close. Donations to politicians are still tightly regulated and limited. Citizens United removed restrictions on issue advocacy. Citizens can spend all the money they want advocating for a cause provided that they do not coordinate their advocacy with a campaign.

 

It is clear, or ought to be, that the Supreme Court correctly decided Citizens United. U.S. citizens do not lose their speech rights if they assert those rights and advocate either individually or through an organization like the Sierra Club or the National Rifle Association.

 

The idea that regulating money in politics will eliminate or significantly reduce corruption is simply laughable on its face. Bill and Hillary Clinton, two of the most corrupt politicians in the history of the United States, are ardent campaign finance reformers. That ought to tell us something right off the bat.

 

The corruption of the Clinton’s aside, why would anyone over 21 actually believe it’s a good idea to have some bureaucrat decide what a citizen may or may not advocate for? Not to mention when and how. Regulations on money in politics do not regulate money. They regulate people. And the regulations are designed to stifle the free expression of ideas that politicians find most dangerous to their re-election campaigns. If you want to stifle progress, suppressing free speech is a good way to start.

 

Progressives and good-government types regularly argue that too much money is spent on election campaigns. Well, with the constant din about how awful election spending is many people would be surprised to know that in 2014 U.S. citizens spent twice as much on Halloween candy as they did on the midterm elections. All told about $3.7 billion was spent on the midterms while $7.4 billion got shelled out for Halloween candy. That is fairly trivial when compared to $11 billion for movies, $11.7 billion for dry cleaning, $73.9 billion for soda and $78 billion for lottery tickets.

 

So let’s understand what is going on here. Hillary Clinton is perfectly willing to trample on the most fundamental right in the American political system—the right to free speech—in order to secure a political advantage. All the while she claims that she wants to get “dark money” out of politics. But even were she to succeed in neutering the First Amendment, it would make no difference with respect to political corruption. Hillary Clinton would still be as corrupt as ever, but the right to effectively illuminate and protest that fact would be gone.

 

JFB

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Review: The Intimidation Game by Kimberly Strassel

Scientists ask questions. They form hypotheses around those questions and then collect and analyze data to see if and how well their hypotheses hold up when subjected to testing. They report the results of their work (often in peer reviewed journals) and other scientists see if they can replicate the results. To the extent the results are replicable (or not) by other scientists, the research gains (or loses) credence, and the knowledge base expands.

 

So science is always tentative. Its advancement crucially depends on hypothesis testing, methodological challenges, data collection, replication, and review. At its core, science is a search for truth. And without free and open discussion about all its aspects—from data, to methods, to results and conclusions—science, as we know it, cannot exist. Neither can a free society.

 

Which is why we should be alarmed by the ongoing progressive campaign to stifle progress by using the power of the State to crush even a hint of dissent from orthodoxy. Even as this is being written, 19 Democratic Senators have taken to the Senate floor to quash the voices not only of those who disagree with the received wisdom about climate change—but incredibly, also those who agree there is a problem, but are insufficiently hysterical about it, including the libertarian Reason Foundation.

 

So we should be grateful to the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, who recently authored “The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech”. Ms. Strassel has ripped the façade away from progressive calls for disclosure of funding sources in public policy debates. The real aim, she shows, is to get access to donor lists of conservative and libertarian organizations so that the donors can be intimidated into silence. And the Koch Brothers are Public Enemy # 1.

 

Ms. Strassel does an artful job of telling the story, which begins on January 21, 2010, the day the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case. In that case the Supremes, by a 5-4 majority, ruled that the First Amendment means exactly what it says. Issue advocacy is protected speech under the First Amendment, and effective speech takes money. While Congress can restrict the amount of money a citizen can donate to a politician running for office, it has no right to restrict the amount of money a person may spend to advocate for an idea, provided that advocacy is not coordinated with a campaign.

 

Libertarians celebrated the decision, as did most conservatives. But progressives were apoplectic. After all, progressives had used campaign finance laws for years to hamstring funding efforts of conservative election campaigns. Progressives had labor union manpower they could rely on, and outside of talk radio, most of the mainstream media was in their back pocket. And truth be told, Republicans didn’t exactly have clean hands. They have used election laws to try and restrict left-leaning groups. And George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold after initially indicating his opposition.

 

But Democrats were in a bind after Citizens United. They were facing particularly rough mid-terms with the unpopularity of Obamacare, and they feared a wipeout. So, as Strassel shows, they decided to bottle up conservatives by using the government to deny them funding, thereby blunting their political firepower. The genesis of the plan actually came about in 2008, during the Democratic Presidential primary contest compliments of a political operative named Bob Bauer.

 

Bob Bauer, an expert in campaign finance law, was working for the Obama campaign. His tactic of choice was to deny funding to his opponent. So in 2008 Bauer selected an outfit named the American Leadership Project (ALP) as his test case. ALP was actually a pro-Clinton 527 group that ran issue ads. Bauer wanted those ads to go away so he charged that the ALP’s issue ads were the functional equivalent of an endorsement of Clinton and therefore illegal.

 

Bauer of course knew that this was nonsense. But he combined his claim that ALP’s behavior was illegal with a demand for a Justice Department criminal inquiry into ALP and its donors. “Whether at the [Federal Elections Commission] or in a broader criminal inquiry, those donors will be asked questions” he reportedly said. The inquiry never got off the ground, but the mission was accomplished. The donors panicked and ALP’s funding began to dry up.

 

Fast forward to 2010. With the midterms threatening a wipeout and Obama’s re-election prospects for 2012 looking increasingly dim, a variation of the Bauer plan was launched. Lois Lerner, formerly a Democratic Party operative and then an IRS employee, would begin to target and delay applications of Tea Party organizations for non-profit status. And over time the scandal would include a multitude of government agencies including, the FEC, the SEC, Justice, state prosecutors, and various progressive interest groups.

 

Every time the demand was for donor information in the name of getting “secretive dark money” out of politics under the guise of fighting corruption. So various agencies of government would present conservative organizations with demands for financial information as well as their donor lists. Not surprisingly it was only a question of time before names on the lists were leaked, the IRS and other agency audits began, and left-wing shakedown artists began their vilification campaigns.

 

And of course, for opposition groups seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights, funding dried up.

 

 

Strassel goes through case after case showing how the Obama Administration and its allies used government power to harass and intimidate political opponents, including small local organizations, in order to shut them down or otherwise render them ineffectual. She does a masterful job of connecting the dots between what might otherwise look like a series of random examples of the usual bureaucratic incompetence instead of the concerted effort it was—and still is.

 

She recounts Lois Lerner’s past disgraceful behavior at the FEC; the mystery of how all those IRS disk drives all managed to crash right around the time the outline of the scandal began to come to light. She shows how the SEC under Mary Jo White was muscled; that the lead investigator into the Lois Lerner case was an Obama donor. She tells how Dick Durbin (D, IL) used his office to try to shut down the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC). She quotes Mary Boyle of Common Cause, a Durbin ally in the fight against ALEC, as saying that the killing of Trayvon Martin was “a gift” in that it would help their cause.

 

The examples of routine cynicism are almost never ending. What is important is that these are not isolated events. They were (and are) part of a much larger coordinated campaign designed to intimidate citizens and deny them their rights. And it is certainly reasonable to infer that the campaign was and still is indirectly orchestrated by the White House.

 

Intriguingly, Strassel tells the story of how the Obama Administration announced a criminal inquiry into the Lois Lerner / IRS affair which gave them a pretext for refusing to hand over documents to Congress lest it interfere with their investigation. Despite Congressional inquiries the Director of the FBI refused to give Congress any information about the progress of the investigation, or to brief Congress. The FBI Director: Jim Comey.

 

In 2015, the FBI announced that the IRS “mishandled” Tea Party applications but did not break any law, clearing both the IRS and Lois Lerner in the process. Sound familiar? It ought to. It is essentially the same playbook they used for Hillary Clinton in the e-mail case.

 

Strassel’s book makes it clear that this is not simply bureaucratic ineptitude. The permanent government took its cue from the top and acted in the political interest of its masters, unconstrained by either the letter or the spirit of the law.   It is especially disturbing that this should happen now. Neither of the presumed Presidential nominees has shown the slightest interest in self-restraint when it comes to the exercise of power—lawful or otherwise. All indications are that we should expect to see more exercise of unbridled executive power over the next four years with little pushback from a supine Congress.

 

And so Strassel’s book is a must read in this hyper political year. Because it shows how the bureaucracy really works; how political power is exercised over supposedly independent agencies; how deep and pervasive the bureaucratic lawlessness is, and how unaccountable the government really is. It is an especially sobering read considering that Citizen’s United was decided 5-4, and that Hillary Clinton has promised, if elected, to appoint a justice to the Court who will vote to overturn the decision. Most of all it should be read by anyone who cares about the First Amendment and the preservation of liberty in American society. Unfortunately, at the moment that seems to be a dwindling number.

 

JFB

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Crunch Time for #NeverTrump

The Rules Committee for the Republican Convention meets this Thursday July 14, 2016. Gordon Humphrey and Kendal Unruh are cofounders of an organization called Delegates Unbound. In prior years (1979 – 1990) Gordon Humphrey, a delegate to the convention, served two terms as a Republican Senator from New Hampshire. Kendal Unruh, also a convention delegate, serves on the Rules Committee. It is the Rules Committee that will vote on whether convention delegates will be required to vote on the first ballot for a nominee based on the results of that State’s primary or caucus, or whether they will be permitted to “vote their conscience”.

 

Humphrey and Unruh contend that the delegates are already permitted to vote for the person they consider to be the Party’s best nominee. They are already unbound; the delegates are not, and should not be a rubber stamp. They want that reality to be formally reflected in the convention rules.

 

The law seems to be on their side. David French, an attorney and staff writer at National Review, argues that laws regulating how delegates to a convention must vote are an impermissible intrusion by the state on the business of a private organization. The idea that the state can compel members to vote in certain ways is a violation of both freedom of speech and association.

 

To buttress his argument French cites the case of Cousins v. Wigoda. The dispute centered around two delegations competing to be seated as the Illinois state delegation at the Democratic Convention in 1972. One delegation argued that it was seated in accordance with Illinois State law. But the other delegation was actually seated at the convention. In deciding the matter the Supreme Court held that National Party Rules should be accorded primacy over state law in determining the qualifications and eligibility of delegates to the party’s National Convention, and the rival slate was seated. In short, the Court held it was none of the State’s business.

 

So it seems that Delegates Unbound has a pretty convincing case on the legalities. What about the merits?

 

Gordon Humphrey does not mince words. He describes Trump as “…a sick sociopath… [who] has severe personality disorders and is not fit to be president”. A quick trip to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders suggests that Humphrey is not simply engaging in hyperbole. A summary of the essential elements of sociopathy can be found (where else) in Wikipedia at this link.

 

But let’s leave aside the armchair psychoanalysis. If nominated, Donald Trump would easily qualify as the most ignorant and least qualified person ever to have secured a major party nomination for President. It is also without question the case that Donald Trump embodies virtually everything that self-declared Republicans claimed to abhor prior to 2016.

 

His attack on free-trade turns 50 years of economic policy upside down, not to mention 140 years of economics. He similarly tossed aside 50 years of well thought out foreign policy when he encouraged nuclear proliferation in Asia and the Middle East, and suggested abandoning NATO. His appeals have had more than a tinge of race baiting; he has encouraged violence at his rallies; he has attacked the independence of the judiciary and he appears to be utterly clueless about the separation of powers. And up until he was 69 years old, Trump was a fan of abortion on demand.

 

Unruh says they have the votes of the 28 delegates on the Rules Committee needed to send the resolution to unbind the delegates to the convention floor (as a minority report). Then it’s up for a vote by all the delegates. That will be the test. The Republican Party will have to decide to either find a spine or abandon even the pretense of principle.

 

If Donald Trump becomes the nominee, the Republican Party, as we know it, will cease to exist. There will no longer be an organized party to argue for limited government and individual freedom. Where the party of Lincoln once stood there will be a hollow vessel devoid of principle waiting to be captured by the next demagogue. We already have one of those. We don’t need two.

 

JFB

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FBI Director Comey Goes to the Hill

FBI Director James Comey went up to the Hill to answer Congressional inquiries about his stunning decision to lambaste Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of highly sensitive classified data, but then to refrain from recommending that she be criminally charged. And he did not back down on his assertion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would charge her, because there was a lack of evidence that Clinton showed criminal intent.

 

Let’s put this in perspective. To begin with, Comey made his public statement before giving his recommendation to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. That effectively precluded Lynch from prosecuting even if she wanted to. And just to ice the cake he torpedoed any possibility of a criminal charge by gratuitously asserting that “no reasonable prosecutor” would take the case, making it impossible for any prosecutor to present the case to a jury. Lynch took the cue and within hours announced that neither Clinton nor anyone on her senior staff would be prosecuted over the mishandling of classified data.

 

So Comey boxed in his boss who was supposed to be responsible for making the decision after listening to his recommendation. He then proceeded to trash the case, making it impossible to prosecute. And he used his office to upbraid Clinton for what he called her “extremely careless” behavior even though he insisted she was not guilty of a crime. It begs the question: Since when is it proper for the FBI Director to use the platform provided by his office to castigate a citizen he himself insists is innocent of a crime?

 

Comey’s argument hinges on his contention that a lack of evidence of criminal intent on Clinton’s part precluded a criminal charge. This despite the fact that the statute does not require proving intent to sustain a criminal charge; gross negligence is sufficient. Moreover, it is pretty difficult to find intent if you aren’t looking for it, and don’t want to find it.

 

Consider the elaborate cover-up of the server scheme Clinton set up, complete with the deleted e-mails; the lies about the e-mails she didn’t turn over; the lies about how the e-mails were vetted, and the lies about never having sent or received classified data over her non-secure system. These are evidence of intent to conceal what she knew or should have known, namely that her exclusive use of a private server outside the government system was prohibited. Referencing this type of behavior is typically how a prosecutor would go about demonstrating that the defendant had the requisite guilty mind needed to sustain a criminal conviction. Comey and Co. just ignored it.

 

For this Congressman Trey Gowdy (R, SC) a former prosecutor, took him to school. He ripped the cover off the fiction being sold by Comey, that intent was required and that there was no evidence of it. Gowdy’s questioning of Comey is on display on the You Tube below, and should be watched.

 

 

JFB

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Politics and the Law

After making an ironclad case for Hillary Clinton to be criminally charged for mishandling classified information, FBI Director James Comey announced he would not recommend that the Justice Department move to prosecute her. Comey offered the rationale that the FBI found no evidence that Clinton intended to violate laws relating to the handling of classified materials, even though the statute does not require intent. As a consequence, he asserted, “no reasonable prosecutor” would charge her. It turns out that one of those unreasonable prosecutors is none other than Rudy Giuliani. He can be seen on Morning Joe  discussing this at some length. Please see the video below.

 

After Comey announced he would not recommend prosecution, he proceeded to describe in excruciating detail the long list of actions Hillary Clinton took and the lies she told to cover up her malfeasance. The New York Times weighed in and  editorialized that Comey was right both on the legal issue and on his public rebuke of Hillary Clinton’s behavior. That counts as the surest sign that Comey got it wrong on both counts.

 

Let’s take the second part first.

Comey’s editorializing was flat-out improper. The FBI is an investigative agency. It does not make prosecutorial decisions. His job is to make a recommendation to the Attorney General (AG). His recommendation should be based on the evidence. If, in the FBI director’s opinion, there is insufficient evidence to seek an indictment, the matter should end there. Since a person is presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise, the FBI Director has no business going before the Washington press corps to present a a slew of accusations against that person unless those accusations are contained in an indictment. When he did so, the FBI director abused his office.

 

And he did it for a reason. He knows she is guilty as sin. This was his way of trying to protect what is left of his tattered reputation after caving in to political pressure.

 

Past Cases

 

Now let’s take a quick look at a past case. In spite of the fact that the statute only requires “gross negligence” and not criminal intent to establish criminal liability, Comey insisted that intent was an important, if not crucial factor. So he has a lot of explaining to do. Particularly with respect to the case of Bryan Nishimura.

 

The case of Nishimura is right on point. In 2007 and 2008 Nishimura, a reservist and an engineer in the U.S. military, was deployed to Afghanistan. There he placed copies of classified information on his laptop. Prosecutors say he took the materials with him off base in Afghanistan, and then took them home with him after his deployment ended. The FBI searched his home in 2012 where they found classified and unclassified military records in both hard and soft form. According to the FBI’s own website, the FBI found no evidence that Nishimura intended to distribute classified information to unauthorized personnel.

 

Nishimura pleaded guilty to unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials. A judge fined him $7,500 and ordered him to surrender his security credentials. He was placed on probation for 2 years and told never to seek a security clearance again. His attorney, William Portanova, said the violation was technical and unintentional, but the DOJ thought it needed to punish him “to make its point”. A point apparently lost on James Comey and Hillary Clinton.

 

Loretta Lynch: How I Got My Job Through the New York Times

 

Let’s put the whole “tarmac summit” in context. We now know that Bill Clinton took extraordinary measures to “accidentally” bump into Lynch. (See the story at this link for details.) And he clearly did so because he had a lot more to talk about than golf and grandkids. Like tying up loose ends. Perhaps he asked her if she liked being Attorney General.

 

And lo and behold, in a July 3 New York Times story, Patrick Healy reports, “…Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be Attorney General, who took office in April 2015”. That ought to make sure that Lynch keeps the career prosecutors at the Justice Department in line. Let’s not forget that, Comey notwithstanding, it still remains the AG’s call on whether or not to prosecute.

 

 

So let’s recount how we got here. As far back as April of 2016 President Obama was already opining that while Hillary Clinton had been “careless” she had not endangered national security. This, while the investigation was ongoing, allowing him to  signal his preferred outcome. Then AG Lynch meets alone with Bill Clinton, whose wife is the target of the investigation. Shortly thereafter, the FBI conducts its final interview with the Hillary Clinton, the subject of the investigation. Then the Director of the FBI publicly makes the case that Hillary Clinton committed all the acts needed for an indictment, but declines to recommend one because she was merely “careless”. But it is AG Lynch, who still has responsibility for making the ultimate decision. To make sure she stays on the team, she has re-appointment in a future Clinton Administration dangled before her through a New York Times story that quotes anonymous senior Democrats.

 

Thus far there has been little objection to this coming from progressive quarters. They pretend to believe that no criminal law was violated. The house organs of progressive politics have gone further. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have applauded the refusal to recommend indictment; the Times also cheered the Comey scolding. Why bother with the rule of law when a little theatre will do instead? That progressives have fallen in line is not in the least bit surprising. At the end of the day, progressive ideology necessarily leads back to a variation of Louis the XIV’s famous “L’Etats, c’est moi”.

 

JFB

 

 

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Hillary Clinton Dodges Another Bullet, Comey Takes One

FBI Director James Comey presented a strong case for Hillary Clinton’s prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 793 (f) which creates criminal liability for gross negligence in the mishandling of certain classified information related to the defense of the U.S. And then, inexplicably, Comey proceeded to announce that he would decline to recommend prosecution.

 

Comey’s investigation found that both Clinton and her staff mishandled classified information. They also determined that any reasonable person in Clinton’s position would have known that the information should not have been outside secure government servers. Finally, they determined that Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of the information. And then, even after noting that the statute does not require intent, seemingly by way of justification Comey went on to say that he would not recommend prosecution because the FBI found no evidence that Clinton intended to harm the U.S.

 

Which is to say that Comey singlehandedly rewrote the statute, a practice that seems to be habit forming in the Obama Administration. That is, unless there is a difference between “extreme carelessness” and “gross negligence”. Except there isn’t. It is a textbook example of a distinction without a difference. The logical conclusion to draw is that Comey buckled under the political pressure.

 

Consider that within a week’s time, the AG recused herself in the case after meeting with the target’s husband; the FBI conducted its final interview and declined to recommend prosecution despite its own damning fact-finding. Within hours of the FBI announcement, the President, who had already endorsed the target, hit the campaign trail with said former target. That is how banana republics work.

 

Democrats may be sorry they got what they hoped for. It is a truly unfortunate twist that aside from Hillary Clinton, the biggest beneficiary of this episode is none other than Donald Trump, a man who is by far the worst qualified person to ever secure the Presidential nomination of a major party. By effectively pronouncing Hillary Clinton guilty on all counts but refusing to recommend prosecution, Comey has saddled the Democrats with a severely, and possibly mortally wounded Hillary Clinton as their standard bearer. She is the only candidate that Donald Trump can conceivably beat in what would otherwise be a Democratic landslide both up and down the ballot.

 

JFB

 

 

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