Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category.

Democrats Pounce

Republicans, not completely without justification, frequently argue that papers like the New York Times and Washington Post often frame mis-steps by Democrats in terms of the Republican response.  So instead of "Biden makes racist gaffe" the headline might read "Republicans pounce on Biden over his latest statements."  I will confess that I don't really notice this so much but Conservatives in my feed are often posting examples.

For balance, I thought it would be useful to demonstrate that Conservatives are perfectly willing to do the exact same thing.  Take this story by Rick Moran.  The headline is "Trump Has Democrats Acting Like Pavlov's Dogs."  After a couple of grafs describing Pavlov's famous work, he writes:

Donald Trump gets Democrats hysterical with just about anything he tweets. It's a classic Pavlovian response and Trump plays his opponents like a well-tuned fiddle. He doesn't even have to say anything necessarily controversial. Whatever he tweets, his opponents see 1) racism, 2) fascism, 3) white supremacy, or 4) his enabling one or more of the previous. Trump tweets, Dems salivate. It's classic.  He knows exactly which buttons to push, which subjects are liable to turn liberals into sputtering, spitting, stammering piles of gelatinous goo.

It's not until like the 13th paragraph that we find out what the article is actually about, which is this:

Trump shared a tweet and video from  conservative comedian Terrence Williams that claimed without evidence that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- Trump's 2016 presidential election rival -- were responsible for Epstein's death. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General Bill Barr said Epstein died in an "apparent suicide" while in federal custody.

I consider myself to be one of the last people in America who can evaluate Trump's actions on a case-by-case basis without resorting to a default tribal position.  And I will say that this is ...  pretty f*cking egregious.  On a number of dimensions.  First and and foremost, the DOJ has already announced an investigation into this matter, so Trump is effectively commenting on an active Federal investigation in its very early stage.  I encourage you to check Mr. Google and search for times where Conservatives criticized Obama for commenting on an active investigation.  I remember a number of such occasions, e.g. here.

Second, not only is he commenting on an active investigation, he is suggesting a suspect.  Yes, I know the comic is having fun with the Clintons-knocking-off-their-opponents meme.  That is fine for a comic, but it is unacceptable for the person at the top of the federal law enforcement establishment.  This is how people like Richard Jewell had their lives ruined.  The fact that the suspected targets here are a former US President and Mr. Trump's opponent in the last election just make this all the worse.

This behavior of Trump is indefensible, which I suppose is why Mr. Moran chose to play the "Democrats pounce" card.

On Tribalism and Discourse -- The Best Paragraph I Have Read For Quite A While

Today on Twitter I sought to give our Senator Krysten Sinema some support for her opposition to tariffs (kudos for Donald Trump for working to turn Democrats into free traders, though to be fair Sinema herself has come a long way from her radical roots).  I got this response:

I wanted to write about what a non-sequitur this response appears to be, as it is completely unresponsive to the issues at hand.  All the commenter is really saying is, "I notice you are not of my tribe."

But a detailed response on my part is unnecessary, given this awesome paragraph from Kevin Williamson:

Which brings us to the problem of trying to have a productive conversation with people who are caught up in the vast sprawling electronic apparatus of self-moronization. It does not matter what anybody actually has said or written. The rage-monkeys have an idea about what it is they want you to have said, or what people like you are supposed to think about or y. I cannot count how many times I have had some person respond to something critical I’ve written about some lefty fruitcake with “What about Trump, huh?” When I point out that, among other things, I wrote a little book called The Case against Trump, the response is: “Well, Republicans . . .” And then when I point out that I am not one of those, either, the retreat into ever-vaguer generality continues incrementally. The fundamental problem is that what’s going on in “conversations” such as these is not conversation at all but a juvenile status-adjustment ritual. These people do not care about ideas — they care about who sits at which cafeteria table in the vast junior high school of American popular culture.

Gad, I wish I had written that last sentence.

Politicians Should Not Have Access to ANYONE's Tax Returns

Since Richard Nixon weaponized the IRS against his enemies, by mining their tax returns for information he could use against them and calling down onerous audits on them, I thought it was an established principle of liberal democracy in this country that tax returns could not be used politically.  The only people who are supposed to have access to them are people who have legitimate enforcement responsibilities for tax collection.  That means the President and his staff can't rifle through them, and I thought those rules applied to Congress as well.

However, the Democrats in the House of Representatives, who mostly grew up excoriating Nixon's excesses, are now arguing the House should have access to any tax return they wish for any reason.  Of course, this is all playing out vis a vis Donald Trump.  From the WSJ:

The House’s tax-writing committee sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday for access to President Trump’s tax returns, hoping federal judges will pry loose records that the administration has refused to hand over.

The lawsuit from the House Ways and Means Committee puts the clash over Mr. Trump’s tax returns and audit records in the courts, exactly where Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D., Mass.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchinhave predicted for months that it would land.

Mr. Neal is asking the courts to enforce a subpoena that Mr. Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig have defied and produce the records immediately. The chairman also wants the courts to validate his authority under a tax code section that says he can get any taxpayer’s returns upon request.

Trump's lawyers are likely to argue Presidential privilege, but I hope the defense goes beyond this.  We all should be protected against individuals in Congress conducting fishing expeditions of their political opponents' tax returns.  And this is a fishing expedition, pure and simple.   There is no probably cause or any investigation that credibly needs to inspect some part of the returns.  Congress just wants them so they can fish for ammunition they can use in their political battles against Trump.

Trump is a pain in the *ss as President not just for his irritating demeanor and counter-productive economic nationalism, but also because liberals can't stop themselves from setting illiberal precedents in their desire to bring him down.

 

 

Trump Acts Crazy; Democrats Respond by Saying "Hold My Beer"

Six months into the Trump Administration, I was committed to voting for whomever the Democrats fielded in the next election -- I was even going to eschew my usual quixotic Libertarian vote.

Since then my views on Trump are mixed at best.   I still think his demeanor is appalling.  His trade policy is even worse than I had feared.  His demagoguery on immigration has only resulted in a gridlock that has left a total mess at the border.  His use of national emergencies to end-run democratic processes is a terrible precedent.  To be fair, there have been some good things.  I have been encouraged by some of the regulatory efforts in some of his departments -- in particular I would happily follow Sonny Perdue's lead and ship much of the Federal headcount out of DC and into flyover country.  And I think the tax cuts passed were largely structured in a sensible manner.  None of this silver lining, though, is enough to offset the bad things for me.

But the largest change that has occured since my original vow has been the behavior of the Democrats.  Seeing the craziness in the White House, their response has been "You think that's crazy?  Hold my beer!"  The competition among mainstream Democratic candidates to one up each other with trillion dollar giveaways and absurd socialist programs is simply astounding.  Even my wife the New England Democrat -- who I am pretty sure has never checked an R box in the voting booth except maybe for Jeff Flake -- is horrified at the choices.

I am exceedingly close to joining the Ostrich party and, after years of political engagement, just ignoring it all.

The New Totalitarianism: Will It Escape Campuses Into the Broader World?

In an authoritarian regime, those in power demand obedience but not necessarily agreement from their subjects.  Even if many of their subjects might oppose the regime, the rulers are largely content as long as everyone obeys, no matter how grudgingly.

Totalitarians are different.  They demand not only obedience but lockstep belief.  In some sense they combine authoritarian government with a sort of secular church where attendance every Sunday is required and no heresy of any sort is permitted.  Everything is political and there is no space where the regime does not watch and listen.   Even the smallest private dissent from the ruling orthodoxy is not permitted.  Terror from the state keeps everyone in line.

I have tried out a lot of words in my head that are less inflammatory than "totalitarian" to describe the more radical social justice elements on modern college campuses, but I can't find a word that is a better fit.  The attempts to drive out dissenting voices through modern forms of social-media-fueled mob terror are both scary and extremely disheartening.

I was thinking about all this in reading an article about Camille Paglia and the students and faculty of her own university who are trying to get her thrown out.  I find Paglia to be consistently fascinating, for the very reason that the way her mind works, the topics she chooses to focus on, and sometimes the conclusions she draws are very different from my own experience.  The best way to describe her, I think, is that we have traditional axes of thought and she is somewhere off-axis.

Anyway, after horrifying Conservatives for many decades, Paglia has over the last few years run afoul of the totalitarian Left.  One example: (emphasis added)

Camille Paglia, the controversial literary and social critic who identifies both as queer and trans, is drawing fire yet again. Students at her own institution, the University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia, are calling for her to be fired. An online petition, currently with over 1,300 signatures, reads in part:

Camille Paglia should be removed from UArts faculty and replaced by a queer person of color. If, due to tenure, it is absolutely illegal to remove her, then the University must at least offer alternate sections of the classes she teaches, instead taught by professors who respect transgender students and survivors of sexual assault.

Another demand in the petition is that, if she can't be canned, the university will stop selling Paglia's books on campus and permanently disallow her from speaking on campus outside of her own classes. Although it's mostly non-faculty speakers who get deplatformed, Paglia is merely the latest target being attacked by students from her own institution. Students at Sarah Lawrence, for instance, are calling for political scientist Samuel Abrams to be fired for writing an op-ed in The New York Times calling for ideological diversity among administrators.

Paglia's critics claim that, despite her own alternative sexual identity, she is so hostile and bigoted towards trans people that her mere presence on campus constitutes an insult or threat. There's no question that she has been dismissive of some claims made by trans people and, even more so, dismissive of students who claim that being subjected to speech with which they disagree is a form of trauma.

What I got to thinking about is this:  How far away are we from "her mere presence on campus" constituting a threat to being threatened by "her mere presence in the same country?"  I fear it may not be very long.

Postscripts:  I wanted to add a couple of postscripts to this story

  1. I find that the "mere presence is a threat" argument being deployed by LGBT activists is extremely ironic.  In the camping business I run we have always had a disproportionate number of gay couples managing individual campgrounds.   Fifteen years ago I remember twice getting push back from people in the surrounding community (both times in southern, more traditionally religious areas) that the very presence of gay men around young children constituted a threat.  I thought this argument was complete nonsense and basically told the protesters to pound sand.  But it is ironic for me to now hear LGBT activists deploying the "mere presences is a threat" argument that has been used against them so often in history
  2. We have clearly dumbed down what constitutes a threat when speech is equated with violence.  But have we also dumbed down the concept of terror?  People -- particularly university administrators but you see it all over -- constantly fold under the pressure of negative comments on twitter.  This sure seems a long way from the SS showing up at your door at 4AM, but amazingly social media terror seems to be nearly as effective an instrument of control.  Years ago my dad ran a major oil company and he did it with a real sense of mission, that they were doing great things to keep the world running.  But he endured endless bombing threats, kidnapping threats, existential threats from Congress, screaming protests at his doorstep, etc.  After being personally listed on the Unibomber's target list, I wonder what he would think about the "threat" of social media mobbing.

A Modest Proposal For US Slavery Reparations

Since most of the Democratic Presidential aspirants have come out in favor of at least studying reparations for slavery, I wanted to offer a common sense proposal.  I propose that slavery reparation be paid for by the single organization that had the most to do with the existence and protection of slavery in this country:  the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party was unquestionably the party of slavery.  It defended the legality, even the morality, of slavery; it fought for the extension of slavery; and it passed laws like the fugitive slave act to keep slaves in bondage.  Every slaveholder or prominent defender of slavery you can name was a Democrat.  After slavery was banned over the opposition of Democrats, it was Democrats that crafted and ran the Jim Crow system.  As late as the 1960s it was Democrats who blocked the schoolhouse doors to blacks and who filibustered the Civil Rights Act and accounted for most of the no votes on that act.  And since Democrats are proposing these reparations, it is entirely within their control to make this happen without even an act of Congress.

Some might say that the Democratic Party and its members are different today and should not be punished for the past actions of previous generations of Democrats.  I used to naively think something similar -- that it was madness to even discuss reparations for people who are not even grandchildren of slaves paid for by people who are not even grandchildren of slave-holders.  I am certain my proposal makes may more sense than, say, taking the money from someone whose ancestors all lived in Germany until the late 19th century.

 

The One Video That Shows Exactly What We Have Lost With Our Political Tribalism

Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf (looking suspiciously the same as Wile E Coyote) pound each other from 9 to 5 but can still be good friends in their personal lives.  Its just 2 minutes long but watch it and think about the polls showing a shrinking number of people are willing to be friends with someone who disagrees with them politically.

I Thought the Media's Horserace Approach of Covering Elections Couldn't Get Any Worse Until...

... we somehow decided that the first 24 hour fundraising amounts had any meaning whatsoever.  All this means now will be that campaigns now will queue up a slew of "pre-commitments" for donations ahead of the official announcement date.  Bundlers will be operating months ahead of time like advanced scouts, further making a mockery of, uh, whatever reason we have for formal campaign announcements in the first place.

The Proposed Emergency Decree to Build The Wall is An Awful Precedent

Dear Republicans:

The last thing we need now is even more expansion of executive power.  I remember when, gosh it was like only two or three years ago, you Republicans were (rightly) bemoaning Obama's executive actions as unconstitutional expansions of Presidential power.  You argued, again rightly, that just because Congress did not pass the President's cherished agenda items, that did not give the President some sort of right to do an end-around Congress.

But now, I hear many Republicans making exactly the same arguments on the wall that Obama made during his Presidency, with the added distasteful element of a proposed declaration of emergency to allow the army to go build the wall.

I personally think the wall is stupid, will solve nothing, and will be a moral blight on this country -- its ugly to think of use having our very own Berlin Wall.  But forget all that, for now I am not arguing against the wall, but against the proposed process.

I can pretty much guarantee you that if Trump uses this emergency declaration dodge (and maybe even if he doesn't now that Republicans have helped to normalize the idea), the next Democratic President is going to use the same dodge.  I can just see President Warren declaring a state of emergency to have the army build windmills or worse.  In fact, if Trump declares a state of emergency on a hot-button Republican issue, Democratics partisans are going to DEMAND that their President do the same, if for no reason other than tribal tit for tat.

Postscript:  Now that I am handing out political advice to Republicans, what is the deal with your Ocasio-Cortez fixation?  I hear many folks on both sides of the aisle who attribute some of Trump's electoral success to the media fixation on him that kept him in the news constantly.  I am reminded of the old Pepsi challenge, where Pepsi showed people choosing their product over Coke.  But the thing was, while Pepsi's sales increased, so did Coke's because the commercials kept Coke's name prominent in people's minds and established it as the product to which everyone else compares themselves.  Do you really want to do the same thing with Ocasio-Cortez?

Does Mounting Famous Heads over Society's Mantle Really Make Us More Ethical?

I thought this was a reasonable question to be asked about the mob action to remove Kevin Hart from hosting the Oscars:

This brings us back to the question that’s been bothering me. What was accomplished by keeping him off the Oscars stage? Because Hart no longer stood by the jokes in question, the Academy’s decision to stick with him could not reasonably be seen as an endorsement of those jokes, or as a sign the Academy accepted them. So how does anybody benefit by keeping Hart from hosting the ceremony? Is the immense pressure supposed to function as a deterrent?

The notion that people must be purged from a given platform for past mistakes (often unearthed at key moments in their lives) seems to be quickly growing into a reflex and becoming our conventional wisdom, and that goes for both sides of the ideological divide. Is it the only reasonable consequence for these perceived transgressions? Is it reasonable at all when, in Hart’s case, a person’s views have changed?

I wrote this on Twitter in response to a different online mob action:

Dear World:

I was an immature idiot in college. When I was there, part of the appeal was providing a safe space to say or do stupid things so that one can test them out and find them wanting. All those who didn't do, say, or believe stupid sh*t at age 20 may cast the first stone.

I don't think I ever used force on someone or stole any of their stuff. I treated a girlfriend somewhat callously and apologized to her years later. Other than that, I am not sure I would even bother to apologize today for anything I said or wrote 35 years ago in college.

If you pointed it out to me I would likely say, "Yeah, that was stupid. I said and believed a lot of stuff then I don't now. So what? It used to be we didn't treat stuff coming out of the mouths of 20-year-olds very seriously for a good reason.

 

On Losing the Thread -- Update on What Actually Remains of the Russia Collusion Tale

I want to thank everyone for all the comments on my thread asking for someone to give me the current, most damning case for Russia collusion.  I am going to try to pull together a best-of version to post here.

However, I wanted to post a few excerpts from TA Frank at Vanity Fair, in an article titled "IS THIS IT?: A TRUMP-HATER’S GUIDE TO MUELLER SKEPTICISM" that seems to almost perfectly capture my current take on the whole affair:

Certainly, Trump’s ethical standards are low, but if sleaziness were a crime then many more people from our ruling class would be in jail. It is sleazy, but not criminal, to try to find out in advance what WikiLeaks has on Hillary Clinton. It is sleazy, but not criminal, to take a meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising a dossier of dirt on Clinton. (Just as, it should be mentioned, it is sleazy, but not criminal, to pay a guy to go to Russia to put together a dossier of dirt on Trump. This is one reason why the Clinton campaign lied about its connection to the Steele dossier, albeit without the disadvantage of being under oath.) It is sleazy, but not criminal, to pursue a business deal while you’re running for president. Mueller has nailed people for trying to prevaricate about their sleaze, so we already have a couple of guilty pleas over perjury, with more believed to be on the way. But the purpose of the investigation was to address suspicions of underlying conspiracy—that is, a plan by Trump staffers to get Russian help on a criminal effort. Despite countless man-hours of digging, this conspiracy theory, the one that’s been paying the bills at Maddow for a couple of years now, has come no closer to being borne out. (Or, as the true believers would say, at least not yet.)...

Let’s take a moment to consider Mueller himself. The cut of his jib is likable, and the trad Brooks Brothers vibe of his wardrobe is a perfect complement to his job title. But it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that he’s playing a political game at this point. To be fair, I’m vulnerable to confirmation bias of my own in this assessment, since about a year ago I suggested that Mueller was going to drag out his investigation until 2019, when Democrats were likely to be back in charge of the House, and seeing a prediction play out can lead to unwarranted certitude. But the reports we’re starting to see suggest a man who’s fallen prey to the same state of mind that warped Ken Starr—namely disgust over the people you’re investigating and a desire to justify the sunk capital.

He includes this warning, which oddly enough is nearly identical to what I used to tell my Republican friends as they were giddy about a Ken Starr investigation into investment wrongdoing resulting in ... charges of perjury about lying about an extra-marital affair

Partisanship is hostile to introspection, but at some point maybe we’ll look back and think again about what was unleashed in the panic over Russian influence. Trump’s White House has pursued what is arguably the harshest set of policies toward Russia since the fall of Communism—hardly something to celebrate—yet nearly all the pressure, from the center-left as much as the right, is toward making it even tougher. As for those tapping along to S.N.L. songs in praise of Mueller and his indictments, they might want to remember that Trump won’t always be in office. The weapons you create for your side today will be used by the other side against you tomorrow. Do we really want the special-counsel investigation to become a staple of presidential life? It’s a creation with few boundaries on scope and a setup that encourages the selection of a suspect followed by a search for the crime, rather than the other way around. This caused calamities in the era of Bill Clinton, and it doesn’t get any better just because the partisan dynamics are reversed.

I Have Totally Lost the Thread Here -- Based on What We Know Now, Someone Please Make the Case for Me on Trump-Russia Election Collusion

Readers know that as far as the Trump-Russia collusion story goes, my position generally has been:

  • I am skeptical there is anything there (aside from a really stupid Trump tweet in the campaign inviting Russia to send him Hillary's emails).  At this point, I don't even know what "collusion"means in this context.  Was it sourcing oppo research (perhaps via Wikileaks) from Russia?  Is that illegal, or just really sleazy and unsavory?
  • I don't understand why Clinton's funding of the Trump dossier which was filled with material from Russia wasn't a similar level of Clinton-Russia collusion (though more intelligently done, through multiple cutouts of law firms and consulting firms)
  • Trump's other business and personal dealings seem to be far more fertile ground for seeking out damning facts about him -- in other words, I am pretty sure there is dirt and sleaze here but if I were in charge of finding it, I sure wouldn't start at Russia

However, intelligent people who I respect and who are more in touch with all things inside-the-beltway still take the Trump-Russia collusion story seriously seriously.  So, in the comments or in an email, I invite someone to change my mind.  As a minimum, your response must define what you mean, exactly, by collusion -- what form it took and collusion to do what exactly.

I Think I Have Lost the Plot -- When Did AG Jeff Sessions Become a Liberal Icon?

I simply cannot believe that the same folks on the Left who loathed Jeff Sessions a few months ago are now protesting in the street because Trump has fired him.  This is just bizarre beyond words.  I celebrate his firing.  Sessions has been as illiberal an AG as I can remember.  He has been hostile to the fourth amendment, particularly on asset seizures, and is an old-school drug warrior even on marijuana.  The Left has become incredibly near-sighted in defending this guy solely because they fear his firing might slow down a generally useless investigation on Russia.  There are probably 20 fertile areas in which to investigate Trump and the Left wants to focus on the one area where there is probably nothing (in fact the one area I suspect Ms. Clinton may well be at least or more guilty than Trump).

How I Am Getting Driven Towards Being A Single Issue Voter

I confess that historically, I have always had a bit of disdain for folks who say they are single issue voters.  "Really?" I would ask, "You are going to ignore everything else going on and only vote based on X?"  I thought it was a narrow-minded and shallow way to vote.

My apologies.  I may have become a single issue voter myself.  Here is why:

Two years ago, when the Republicans manage to elect Trump, I was sure I was going to vote straight-ticket Democrat in reaction.  I find Trump's entire style distasteful in the extreme.  And while I think there has been some good news on the regulatory front in various Departments under him, on his signature issues of immigration and trade I am 100% opposed to his goals and his approach.  And while I have always believed Trump is probably a social liberal himself, he has a lot of advisors and cabinet members who are pretty hard-core opposed to a variety of freedoms, from gay marriage to marijuana use.

But that was two years ago, before the Democrats decided that their future was in a hard left turn into Marxism.   I am not sure how a serious person can really entertain socialism  given its pathetic history, but it seems to be a product of several cardinal sins of the modern generation (e.g. ignorance of history, evaluating policy based on its intentions rather than its logical consequences, and categorizing all perceived problems as resulting from white male European hetereosexual priviledge).  At first I thought perhaps people were just using "democratic socialism" as a synonym for more redistributive taxes and greater welfare spending within an otherwise capitalist society.  But over time I see proposals like one in Congress with fully 100+ Democratic sponsors calling for banning health care companies of all sorts from making a profit.  This is straight-on socialism and ignorant in the extreme of any consequences beyond good intentions.  By the way, I actually don't think we will end up with socialism under the Democrats but a form of European-style corporatism.  This will mean that large companies like Google and Amazon with political influence will be ok, maybe even better.  But small companies like mine with no hope of political access will get hammered.

So here is my voting problem.  Republicans suck on many issues -- gay rights, drug law liberalization, immigration, trade -- that I am extremely passionate about (I briefly ran an Arizona initiative to legalize gay marriage) but that don't directly affect me.  Yes, they affect many of my friends -- I have friends with potential immigration issues, I have friends with businesses getting hammered by tariffs, I have friends who are gay and married, I have friends that smoke rope and would rather not go to jail for it -- but not me directly.  On the other hand, Democrats suck on most business regulatory issues, trying in the near term to turn the US into California and in the long-term into Venezuela.  These are issues that DO affect me directly and greatly as a business owner.   Already I have had to red line states such as California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Rhode Island where I formerly did business but backed out because the business climate was impossible.  If this spreads to more states, I will be wiped out.

All of this is being made worse as both parties have started to get worse in the areas where they were traditionally more sensible.  Republicans have abandoned whatever free market credentials they had by pursuing trade protectionism and increased restrictions on companies trying to hire foreign workers.  Democrats are in the process of turning against free speech and have started sticking their nose in the bedroom (for example, by shifting the discussion of sex work to "trafficking," Republicans have successfully gotten Democrats to turn against a number of sorts of sexual freedom).

For years I have voted against my personal interests in elections, because my interests did not seem as weighty as other issues in play.  Folks are being denied basic civil rights, so am I really going to vote for the folks enabling that just to avoid (admittedly costly and loony) California meal break laws to be applied in Arizona? Now, though, I am starting to rethink this position.  In part because threats to businesses like me are more existential, and part because I am exhausted spending time defending other people's rights who in turn actively work to take away mine.  For certain offices like sheriff, that don't affect my business, I will still be voting as I always have -- which person is least likely to harass the sh*t out of certain marginalized groups.  But for others, and particularly the national offices, I am thinking about voting a straight "it's all about me" ticket (I am reminded, ironically, of the old "Me, Al Franken" SNL news bit he used to do.)

By the way, you might ask, "Coyote, you are a libertarian, why not just vote for the Libertarian candidate."  Good question.  Well, it turns out that the Arizona state legislature changed the rules for third parties explicitly to get the libertarian party off the ballot and prevent libertarians from "taking" votes from Republicans.  Seriously, they were not even subtle about it.  Instead of having to get a certain percentage of libertarians to sign a petition to get on the ballot, libertarian candidates now have to get a certain percentage of all independents to sign a petitions to get on the ballot.  This is an very high bar and one that most libertarians could not clear this year (cynically, somehow the rules allowed green candidates to get on easier as Republicans want them on the ballot to "steal" votes from Democrats.)  This is the #1 reason I may not vote tomorrow at all -- I cannot vote for our Marxist Democratic candidate for Senator, but I refuse to be forced to vote for the Republican.  Ugh.

This is The Resistance's Real Failure (Assuming They Want to Make Progress on Their Issues, and Not Just Score Political Points)

From even before day 1 of the Trump Administration, the "resistance" has proclaimed that Trump is an illegitimate President and anyone who even has civil discourse with him will be othered and humiliated.

Readers know that I find Trump and his style to be distasteful, and believe he is dead wrong on immigration and trade, but the irony of the Resistance's position is:

  1. I am not sure there ever has been a President more open to a deal (at least on issues outside of his hot buttons like immigration and trade).  If one approaches him to bargain, he will bargain.  If one instead challenges his manhood, he is going to dig in his heels and likely childishly harden his position against whatever you support.
  2. There are very few things that Trump seems to have a hard-and-fast ideological position on, which tells me he is likely to act pragmatically (or in the case where he is resisted, vindictively).
  3. There is zero evidence that he is anything but a liberal on social issues  (OK, yes, he has been crass and offensive with women, but many other prominent social liberals have done the same thing).  I have gay friends who were horrified at his election, but I still don't see any evidence Trump has a problem with gay people. Prominent gay rights groups should go to the White House and could make some real progress (and then maybe create a Kickstarter campaign to help beef up Trump's Secret Service protection because Pence could be a real problem on gay rights issues if President).

I have said all this for a while but am reminded of it from this story by Jacob Sullum entitled, "Kanye’s real success: Trump now backs criminal justice reform"

Kanye West’s literal embrace of President Trump was all over the news last week. The president’s rhetorical embrace of criminal justice reform got considerably less attention, but may prove more consequential.

In an interview with Fox News on the morning of his meeting with the rap impresario, Trump signaled that he was ready to go beyond “back-end” reform, which focuses on rehabilitation of inmates, and support “front-end” reform, which focuses on reducing sentences and sending fewer people to prison.

The key to understanding Trump’s remarks is Alice Marie Johnson, whose sentence the president commuted in June at the behest of West’s wife, Kim Kardashian.

Partisans on Both Sides Fervently Believe the Other Side Is More Devious and Less Constrained by Ethics

I try to read an equal number of blogs from the Left and Right.  Now, I am not a masochist so I try to choose the more intelligent folks on both sides (if true dedication to avoiding an echo chamber were to rely on reading both Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maxine Waters each day, then I just can't do it).

So let me tell all you partisans out there from both the Coke and the Pepsi team something I see every day:  Both your sides believe and say the exact same things about the other side.  Seriously, almost word for word, I could write a book where we just show side by side quotes.   In particular, every partisan fervently believes that their party is too nice and milquetoast and well-behaved to win all the battles it should against the other party, which is devious and bare-knuckles and unconstrained by any ethics.

In the past, the majority of each party seemed willing to accept this lamentable state of affairs and claim the high ground, even when that might amount to a Pyrrhic victory (e.g. Michelle Obama:  "The go low, we go high" or many of the Republican never-Trumpers).

The problem is that when this desire for the high ground breaks down, then all that is left is an ugly realpolitik arms race to the bottom.  It has taken me a long time to really digest the surprising (at least for me) Trump victory.  I have friends that are hard-core partisans for both parties (yes, I know this dates me as failing to pre-screen my friends for political orthodoxy seems a sin nowadays).  I see the same attitude in my Republican friends -- yes we find Trump distasteful in a number of ways, but he is the first national Republican we have seen who will fight down and dirty with Democrats and win political victories.  You see this same attitude on Twitter with Republicans metaphorically carrying Lindsey Graham (!!) around on their shoulders in celebration this week.

Politics are like the NFL -- people emulate what seems to be winning.  Bill Walsh won with the West Coast Offense, and soon there were 30 teams running the West Coast Offense.  The Democrats are going to be looking for the Trumps as well.  I don't know how it doesn't get ugly.

The Democrats' Complaints About the Senate Being Undemocratic Are Pure Whining and Excuse-Making: Here's Why

The Democrats' issue du jour seems to be that the Senate is undemocratic and needs to be abolished.  The argument is that it is not fair that states get two seats each in the Senate regardless of their population, so that the tiny population of Wyoming has the same number of Senate votes as the huge population of California.  These concerns are related to Democrats' frustration with the electoral college, whose votes do not strictly match population because each state gets delegates equal to their number of representatives plus their number of Senators. These are small state protections that evolved as part of a compromise between the 13 states in the original Republic.  A few thoughts on this:

  1. This is an oddly-new concern from Democrats.  They controlled as many as 60 Senate seats as recently as a decade ago.
  2. The non-democratic nature of the Senate is in its very DNA.  Until the late 19th century Senators were not even elected by popular vote, but by a selection process in the state legislature.
  3. For those who treat politics as the be-all-end-all of their lives, this provides an outstanding arbitrage opportunity -- move from California to Wyoming and immediately greatly increase the power of your vote.  I lived in Wyoming for a bit on a ranch south of Glenrock (30 minutes by dirt road from a town of 2000).  Hipsters are warned that they might find it difficult to locate a starbucks or good sushi there.
  4. I am not sure one would design a Senate today the way it was designed 200+ years ago.  But, it has mostly worked.  I am not a Burkean Conservative, but I do think that there needs to be a little more reason than a lost Presidential election and one loss on a Supreme Court confirmation to modify a system that has worked for a long time.
  5. It would be an interesting discussion as to whether the structure of the Senate were positive or negative in the runup to the Civil War.  The obvious answer is that it was bad, in that it forced odious compromises with slavery since the South controlled half the Senate despite its much lower population.  On the flip side, though, one might argue that things could have even been worse had the North not been forced to engage the South for so long to make any legislative progress.  What if the South had left the union 20 years earlier, would the North have had the strength or will to defeat them in 1840?

But here is the real reason that the allocation method of Senators (and Electoral College delegates) is absolutely NOT going to change so that this whole discussion is pointless:  Changing these rules in any way requires a Constitutional amendment.  Such an amendment, to become law, must be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures or 38 as things stand now.  But at least half (and probably a bit more since a few states are so damn big) of states will see their power decrease under such rule changes.  Is Wyoming going to vote yes?  Montana?  I am pretty sure there are at least 13 no votes on this.

So stop whining and deal with it Democrats -- you had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate just over 10 years ago, win some elections and get it back.

Should Republicans Thank Michael Avenatti For Kavenaugh's Confirmation?

Ten days ago, I told my wife that if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, he can probably thank Michael Avenatti and his client.  Julie Swetnick's accusations of mass gang rapes held week after week after week were so batsh*t crazy -- and completely unconfirmed by any witnesses when the behavior she described was so public and affected so many people that confirmation should have been easy -- that the Democrats' argument that women never lie and always should be believed was shown to be false to all reasonable observers.  It became too easy for Republicans to convince themselves that all of the women accusing Kavanaugh, not just Swetnick and the other last-minute copycats, were a put-up job by Democrats (a conclusion that was more easy to reach given DiFi's hamfisted attempt to be "tricky" and withhold the Ford accusations to the last minute).  In a well-reasoned world, the veracity of the Swetnick accusations should have had no bearing on the evaluation of Ford's believably, but in the real world of politics it had a huge effect.

I honestly believe that an earlier reveal of the Ford accusations early in the process, without all the nutty copycat allegations, could easily have resulted in Kavanaugh being withdrawn. First, it would have allowed Republicans and Kavanaugh himself to escape early in the process before so many chips were on the table.  Further, if we take Collins's speech at face value, her yes vote really resulted from the Swetnick accusations and I think she might easily have voted the other way with a different process.

A lot of people have come around to this point of view.  One is Robby Soave of Reason:

Democrats, the left, and various other anti-Kavanaugh persons can thank attorney Michael Avenatti for this outcome, at least in part.

The spotlight-stealing lawyer, who also represented Stormy Daniels, is responsible for drawing the media's attention to Julie Swetnick, an alleged victim of Kavanaugh who told an inconsistent and unpersuasive story. Swetnick's wild accusation provided cover for fence-sitting senators to overlook the more plausible allegation leveled by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, and to declare that Kavanaugh was being subjected to false smears.

Update:  Michael Avenatti has responded to such criticism on Twitter by saying, essentially, "what was I supposed to do, just ignore the needs of my client?"  No.  What he should have done is honestly thought about the needs of his client rather than just his need for self-promotion ahead of the Democratic primaries.  It is very much a part of a lawyer's job to confirm his client's story and evaluate whether he thinks they have a good case, and then to counsel them on whether or not it makes sense for them given the cost in dollars and public harassment to try to bring the case.  I have had a batsh*t crazy woman who was an ex-employee (who I have never met face to face) decide that I was doing all sorts of crazy things like running an Al Quaeda training camp, organizing a narcotics ring, and stalking her across every Indian casino in the state.  The poor woman has mental health issues and imagines all kinds of weird stuff, and I can be sympathetic now that she is no longer actively threatening me and I don't have to maintain protective orders against her.  At the time she took her crazed stories to any number of lawyers trying to mount a case against me on all kinds of odd bases, and you know what - no lawyer took the case, because pursuing this sort of madness in the legal system would not have done anyone, especially this woman, any good at all.

Join Me In the Ostrich Party, Working To Ignore Politics and Escape Mental Health Issues

This came across my desk from one of my campground managers via our internal incident reporting system.  I swear we in this country are having a collective mental health breakdown.  Names obscured to protect privacy:

LadyA was walking by a campsite that was occupied by an unrelated group that was having a discussion and President Trump was mentioned in the conversation. At that point LadyA inserted herself into the conversation and began to curse at them. LadyA then proceeded to her campsite and passed by another camper and began to curse her and her dog. At this point I was driving by when a camper stopped me and informed me of the situation. I proceeded to LadyA's campsite where I found her sitting in a chair and screaming and cursing loudly. I tried to calm her and she was upset to the point where I could not calm her down. She was also on the phone with her friend who had called and was trying to calm her down also. She then began to curse me and when I asked her to stop or I would have to call the County Sheriff's Office, she became combative and I removed myself from the situation and contacted the sheriff's office.  When the Officer arrived we found she had been consuming numerous beers and she was combative to him and he was forced to arrest her and remove her from the campground.  At this point I refunded the last three nights of her reservation. LadyA's friend came in later and removed her belongings.

I will add that I get political emails from both major parties and from their increasingly shrill and over-the-top tone, I wonder if this isn't exactly the kind of citizen both parties are trying to create (as long as they vote the right way).

Either Way It Goes, The World Is A Way Worse Place Today: Schrodinger's Nightmare

Via attorney Michael Avenatti, Julie Swetnick has accused Brent Kavanaugh of running a suburban high school rape ring -- over the course of at least 10 parties the punch was doctored and boys lined up outside of bedrooms to gang rape drunk and drugged girls.  According to the accuser, Kavanaugh and his friends raped their way through the Washington suburbs like the Russian Army did throughout the suburbs of Berlin.  All without one single person raising the hue and cry for over 35 years.

It is not even necessary to opine on the veracity of this accusation, because it almost does not matter.  Because the fact of its being made has, no matter what the outcome, proved America to be a far worse place than we woke up believing this morning.  If the accuser is being truthful, then gang rape is a fact of life in our high schools, and everyone is powerless or no one cares to lift a hand to prevent it or stop it -- made all the worse by the leadership of boys who would become future leaders of this country.  And if she is lying, then we see someone shamelessly lying to destroy a man in the name of politics, aided and abetted and enabled by many of the top politicians in this country and perhaps a third of its citizenry.  We are either living in a brutal post-apocalyptic misogynist free-for-all or in a political system corrupted to its very foundation.

Actually, from what I read on Twitter, we are actually living in a superposition of these two, a Schrodinger's nightmare where both are considered true simultaneously by half the population.

Libertarians Are Terrible At Persuasion in the Social Justice Language of Power and Privilege, and We Should Be Better At It. There is Definitely Common Ground to Be Explored

Why use the language of Power and Privilege at all?

One of my favorite political books is Arnold Kling's Three Languages of Politics (free download here).  It is a great reference for understanding why so much of politics devolves into talking past one another, and is a great guide for those who want to be persuasive outside of one's own tribe.

As background, I am a life-in-the-real-world (LIRW) libertarian who is most comfortable arguing on the freedom-coercion axis and based on economic efficiency.  LIRW libertarian means that I don't answer every policy question with a knee-jerk anarcho-capitalist get-the-government-out-of-the-way policy prescription.  I accept that government coercion is not going away and I can accept some state coercion in support of certain policy goals.   However, in doing so I assign something I call the Cost of Coercion to policy proposals in balancing out the costs and benefits and the coercion cost I assign will be high.  As such, then, I tend to discuss policy in terms of meeting goals with maximum economic efficiency and minimum levels of coercion.

In this article I want to talk about my (and other libertarians') attempts to engage (or failures to engage) Progressives on their preferred Oppressor-Oppressed axis.  While I think everyone benefits from learning to engage with folks who speak different political languages, doing so is particularly important for libertarians in the United States because we are the odd man out in the current two-party system.  Half our issues (e.g. free markets, limited government) require common cause with Conservatives while the other half (e.g., open immigration, drug legalization, gay marriage) require making common cause with Progressives.  In this article I want to talk about my (and other libertarians') attempts to engage Progressives on the Oppressor-Oppressed axis.

To start, I feel like I am pretty good at understanding the Progressive point of view on many issues (e.g. my intellectual Turing test here on Progressive arguments for the minimum wage).

However, on the airplane yesterday I was looking back at my proposed trans-partisan plan on climate action and found I did little in it to excite Progressives.  I still think that this is a very fair plan that could appeal to both Progressives and Conservatives, but I realize in retrospect that it does almost nothing to sell the plan to Progressives.  The article is mostly economic efficiency arguments that can sway Conservatives (at times) but seldom have a lot of power with Progressives.  Sure, the plan gives Progressives what they are asking for (a carbon tax) but I acknowledge in the article that there is evidence from the Washington State carbon tax vote that Progressives don't actually understand the benefits of a carbon tax very well.  Here, for example, is how I discussed the shift from a myriad of scattershot government interventions to the carbon tax:

Point 1: Impose a Federal carbon tax on fuel....So what is the best way to reduce CO2 -- by substituting gas for coal?   By more conservation?  By solar, or wind?  With biofuels?  With a carbon tax, we don't have to figure it out or have politicians picking winners.  This is why a Pigovian tax on carbon in fuels is going to be the most efficient possible way to reduce CO2 production.   Different approaches will be tested in the marketplace....

Point 3:  Eliminate all the stupid stuff...[in turn] I propose that we eliminate all the current Federal subsidies, mandates, and prohibitions that have been justified by climate change. Ethanol rules and mandates, solar subsidies, wind subsidies, EV subsidies, targeted technology investments, coal plant bans, pipeline bans, drilling bans -- it all should go.  The carbon tax does the work.

Picture the social justice warriors at some college today -- are they going to be excited by this?  I doubt it.  But what if I said this instead:

We should shift climate efforts from all the disparate, scattershot efforts today to a neutral carbon tax that is impossible for the powerful and privileged to game to their advantage. Current climate programs are all more likely to benefit Wall Street bankers and crony political interests than they are to help the climate.  For example, the Koch brothers have publicly admitted that their company is one of the largest beneficiaries of the current ethanol program, which was meant to benefit the climate but instead just pumps profits into a few well-connected multi-billion dollar corporations, while taking food from the poor and feeding it into people's gas tanks.

This second version, while it needs some polish, is clearly more compelling to a Progressive, and all of it is something I believe -- It's just not the first way I naturally defend the plan.  I need to get better on this.

Power and Privilege are a Useful Framework (among others) for Analyzing History and Public Policy

I have studied a lot of history in my life, mostly as a hobby.  When I first started studying history in secondary school in the 1980's, it was almost all presented as "great man" history -- i.e. history can be described as driven primarily by the actions of prominent individuals.  Julius Caesar did this and Henry the VIII did this other thing, etc.   Really, this approach to history was being overtaken even 100 years earlier than this, but I didn't really get exposed to other approaches until college.  There, I began to learn that Marxist historians in the 20th century brought a different view, that most of history was driven by big social and economic and demographic changes rather than individuals -- think Hari Seldon if you know that reference.

But the Marxists had a familiar problem (other than the obvious one where they explain every event in history as a class struggle and proto-Marxist revolution): They brought a great new tool to the analysis of history but then declared that it was the ONLY correct tool.  But there are plenty of historical turns where individuals mattered.  The revolution in Rome from the Republic to the Empire was probably inevitable from the large forces at work, but was the end of the civil wars in favor of decades of peace inevitable without the acumen of Augustus?

Other groups have contributed yet more lenses for looking at history.  I remember when it became de rigueur that history courses include lectures on life of the common person, the experience of women, and on other groups that don't have a big presence in the traditional historic record.  I initially rolled my eyes thinking that this all was a politically correct placeholder, but I eventually found it fascinating -- to the extent that I have since taken whole courses solely on the experience of common people in the Middle Ages and the Roman Empire.

To this same end, power and privilege is yet another useful framework for analyzing history.  The problem in my mind comes in the fact that so many students go through college, even graduate from college in history, looking at the world ONLY through this one lens.  To me this is madness.  It is like trying to play golf with just a 2-iron or to do math with just cosines.

Libertarians and the Power & Privilege Language

As demonstrated in my climate example earlier, there is no reason libertarians cannot engage progressives on the power and privilege or oppressor/oppressed axis.  Libertarians care a lot about the ability of the individual to be able to make decisions and live their life without coercion.  Many of the same things that upset progressives -- racism, sexism, various sorts of sexual prohibition, narcotics prohibition, fraud, migration restrictions, military interventionism -- also upset libertarians.  Libertarians and progressives both talk a lot about power and abuse of power, though granted they fear different sorts of power: libertarians tend to have more fear of government power, while progressives tend to fear any sort of economic power.  But even getting that far is at least a basis for meaningful discussion.  If you want to have an interesting discussion with a progressive, do what I did with one of my progressive in-laws and watch Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story together.  The progressive will gladly watch it with you because they will think you are about to get schooled.  But watch as the movie unfolds -- failure after failure that Moore wants to describe to capitalism are in fact mostly due to crony government interventions to which libertarians are strongly opposed.  There is a surprising amount of common libertarian-progressive ground in the movie if you look past Moore's interpretation of these failures and pay attention to their actual causes.

This is what I had in mind when I wrote my recent article in Regulation Magazine, "How Labor Regulation Harms Unskilled Workers", to try to write something about labor regulation that was pitched more to progressives than to libertarians and conservatives.  Too often articles on the minimum wage focus solely on economic efficiency, or worse, on how labor market interventions negatively impact businesses.  When progressives see that something negatively impacts businesses, their first reaction is "awesome, let's do more of it!"  Not a great sales approach.   In my article, I was never going to convince progressives to give up on regulation of the terms and conditions of labor altogether -- it is simply too deeply ingrained in their philosophy that workers are powerless in the face of employers and need external protection.  But it might be possible to show progressives why something like the minimum wage can be a bad anti-poverty program that it actually tends to hurt the poorest and most vulnerable and least skilled.

The absolute best example I can think of how libertarian attempts to engage progressives have been terrible is the book by Nancy MacLean called Democracy in Chains.   The book makes the weird and not very well substantiated claim that James Buchanan, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in public choice theory, was heavily influenced by southern slavery supporters like John Calhoun, and thus, uh, public choice is racist or evil or something.  The book tends to get lauded by people who mostly like its thesis but did not read it and torn apart by academics who are hugely skeptical about its logic and factual basis.  The most amazing thing about the book is just how incurious Ms. MacLean is about public choice theory itself -- the head of the national organization of public choice economists is a professor on her own campus, with an office just a short walk away, yet she never consulted anyone in the field.

Here is why I highlight it, and not to beat up on a progressive who in turn beat up on a libertarian icon.  Public choice theory -- as I and most people who have studied it understand it -- should be tremendously interesting to progressives, so much so I think it could be a core text they study.  Not because I want to make them not-progressives (I will send them to Hayek for that) but because public choice theory says so much about how power and privilege are created and sustained.  Want to understand why Wall Street makes so much money and is so seemingly immune to accountability, check out public choice theory.  Want to know why you and I spend billions to subsidize profitable corporations like Boeing or Koch Industries, check out public choice theory.  Want to understand why public interventions often fail so you can make better interventions in the future, check out public choice theory.

The reason progressives don't look at public choice theory this way is in large part because libertarians have adopted public choice theory as their own and use it most often to push back on nearly every government intervention.  In particular, the Koch Brothers and Cato love public choice theory and use it to argue for small government, so in the tribal politics of the day, this means that progressives have to hate it.  I would argue that the best description of Nancy MacLean's approach to James Buchanan and public choice theory in her book (and her  more-than-apparent lack of desire to learn anything about it) is the fact that public choice theory is associated with the Koch Brothers and thus she wanted to bring it down to help bring down the Koch siblings who have become a progressive bete noire (despite their actually supporting a lot of progressive causes like gay marriage).  Ironically, from my limited reading, James Buchanan appears to have treated public choice more as a guide to good government than a trump card to be played against any government intervention.

This is why the book I would most like to write, if I had the academic chops and time to write it, would be "Public Choice for Progressives:  What James Buchanan can teach good government and equalizing power and privilege."  There are a lot of things libertarians and progressives are never going to agree on, but there are enough that we can agree on to make it worthwhile to learn their language.

Well, I Was Wrong about Super Delegates

A couple of years ago, in response to suggestions that the Democratic Party should get rid of super-delegates in their Presidential nominating process, I argued that the Trump election was going to lead to just the opposite response from party officials:  not only would the Dems not eliminate the practice, but I thought the Republicans would want to add super-delegates to give party insiders a way to combat populist candidates like Trump.  Well, I was at least half wrong, as the Dems have apparently substantially reduced the power of super delegates.

The Good Intentions Generation

This seems to be a generation in which good intentions are enough.  Actually, I am not sure this is exactly right, let me try again.  This seems to be a generation in which the signaling of good intentions is enough.


Socialism will work because we have good intentions for it.  Trade wars will work because we have good intentions.  Tesla is valuable because it has good intentions.

Democratic socialism supporters don't even know what socialism is.  Trump supporters don't understand squat about economics but just feel that Trump genuinely wants to help them.  Tesla bulls don't even try to look at a balance sheet but just really, really love the idea of Elon Musk being a real-life but progressive Tony Stark.  Not sure where I am going with this, but just frustrated this morning trying to talk policy in a world of virtue-signalling.  In the last few elections I have been presented with discouraging but predictable choices.  Now I am presented with a choice between two parties that have both lost their minds.

CNN, Buzzfeed, NYT, WaPo, AP, NBC, And Politico Attempting to Doxx Manafort Jurors

Just one day after their coordinated virtue signaling about their important role in maintaining a civil society**, a coalition of media companies have filed a motion (pdf) seeking the names and addresses of the jurors in the Manafort trial.  I am a huge supporter of sunlight and disclosure in  government, and perhaps there is a precedent for this, but it seems like a terrible idea.  I have served on two criminal juries in my lifetime and I can guarantee you I would have resisted participation had I known that my name and home address would be released to the public in association with the trial verdict.

CNN in particular has some history in misusing doxxing.  A year or so ago they threatened a Reddit user with doxxing if he didn't stop posting a meme critical of CNN.  Given that probably 95% of the employees of this media coalition probably want to see Manafort convicted, there is real reason for concern how this information might be used.

In FOIA rules, the decisions to release a particular piece of information to one petitioner is a decision to release it to everyone,  I am not sure if similar rules would apply here.  Kind of hoping that Ken White at Popehat chimes in on this.

 

** A conclusion I am sympathetic to, though I think the media undercuts their argument a bit by acting as thin-skinned and as childish at times as President Trump does.

Update:  Judge denies motion.  Good.

The Partisan Gap

It is always entertaining reading blogs from both sides of the political aisle.  Here are articles from the last day or so after the Saturday FBI document dump of the redacted FISA application

Scott Johnson at Powerline:  "DEVIN NUNES VINDICATED"

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: "Now We Know For Sure: Devin Nunes Lied About Everything"

The hilarious part is that the vast majority of articles from both sides have a tone of, "well, this should put the question to rest."  LOL.

I really don't have an opinion about the Nunes memo, nor do I really care.  A few random thoughts

  • I have not read the FISA application, nor will I ever, but the Saturday evening drop time is not usually a marker of something an agency is proud of
  • I don't think the Carter Page surveillance likely did much harm, but it strikes me that the bar for starting a secret national security spying effort against members of an active Presidential campaign should be  a little higher. In fact, I have always felt the FISA bar should be higher for everyone.
  • Almost no matter the details, the handling by the Obama Administration of Russian spying allegations seems weirdly passive-aggressive -- both overly aggressive against minor figures like Carter Page and strangely silent and passive on the broader details.  It is strange to me that so many Obama administration officials can be so vocally worried about Russian spying after November 2016 and so silent and ineffective on it before that date, when they actually had power to do something about it.  I know Republican partisans will explain this with "because bias," and this may be the case, but without any direct knowledge I always prefer to default to incompetence.  Certainly screaming about it now on every cable talk show seems to have diverted attention from the question of what the f*ck they were dong when it was actually their job to tackle this kind of thing.