Strong words rooted in history

But meaningless unless backed by equally strong action:

The morning after the Trump administration sued California over its immigration policies, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday appeared in downtown Sacramento to say states cannot defy the federal government when it comes to immigration

“A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open borders system,” Sessions declared. “Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.

“There is no nullification. There is no secession,” Sessions said. “Federal law is ‘the supreme law of the land.’ I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.”

The invocation of John C. Calhoun and nullification is particularly appropriate.  Calhoun’s South Carolina in 1832 claimed the power to “nullify” a hated Federal tariff by simply refusing to collect it within the State’s borders.  The president at the time, Andrew Jackson, was emphatic about Federal supremacy within its Constitutional sphere.  At his behest, Congress passed the Force Act, essentially giving Jackson the power to use military force if necessary to compel compliance and collection of duties.  It never reached that point, in no small part because of Henry Clay’s gifted statesmanship in Congress.  But the situation emphasized the power struggle over Federal versus State prerogatives nearly two decades before Southerners fired on Ft. Sumter.

One interesting aspect of the “Nullification Crisis” was that it pitted a sitting president (Jackson) against his own vice-president (Calhoun).  Two years prior to the crisis this conflict had been made apparent at the 1830 Jefferson Day dinner.  The president, aiming a barb at Calhoun and signaling his waning support for Southern arguments about States’ rights, toasted “Our Union; it must be preserved.”

Calhoun shot back: “The Union, next to our liberty most dear.  May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union.”

What, you thought today’s political divisions were unprecedented?  Hardly.

Here’s the point of the history brief: the immigration confrontation flips the usual situation where “conservatives” advocate the 10th Amendment’s reservation of power to the States while “liberals” seek to use Federal supremacy in everything — the better to force change they likely could not through the electoral process.  As recently as the Obama administration Arizona attempted to strengthen border security, only to be sued by the Feds for stepping into an area of Federal supremacy.

Now the shoe’s on the other foot, with the parties in power reversed.  Arizona allegedly couldn’t strengthen its border security beyond the Federal level of enforcement, but California can loosen it?  While both sides are guilty of putting power over principle, it’s both more obvious and dangerous with the sudden liberal embrace of claiming exceptions to Federal power.  The same leftist groups who argued before Federal judges in 2016 that North Carolina couldn’t ban confused men from women’s restrooms is now arguing California can have its own foreign policy in the area of immigration.  Okay…

Here’s what California and Calhoun have in common (besides both being Democrats, but I digress…): both were/are Constitutionally wrong.  Some readers may be surprised to see me write that, because Constitutionally I am a strict constructionist who interprets (in keeping with the 10th Amendment) the document as a constraint on Federal power, and am generally sympathetic to defending States’ rights.  That said, if the document expressly gives the Feds a particular power, there’s no arguing it.  In the case of Calhoun’s fight against tariffs, Article 1, Section 8 (*) of the Constitution clearly grants Congress the power to levy taxes, duties, imposts and excises, provided they are uniform throughout all States.

The Constitution does not contain the word “immigration,” but in the same section cited above grants Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.  This means States and cities have no authority to establish “sanctuaries” where illegal immigrants are given the same privileges as citizens.  Those local authorities who do so are in defiance of the Constitution, and have abrogated any oath they took to support and uphold it.  They should be held appropriately accountable for that.

Because the “sanctuary” concept has become so trendy in Leftist circles, the Trump administration now faces widespread defiance of Federal authority.  Trump is sometimes compared to Jackson (faulty personality and all).  One wonders whether he will rely solely on the courts, where your mileage varies considerably concerning Constitutional interpretation, or whether he will follow Jackson’s more direct approach.  Or, for that matter, President Lincoln’s:

WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law. (emphasis added)

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed…

It’s a simple thing to substitute  California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont for the list of States in the first quoted paragraph above, and have the declaration apply to the issue of whether or not the United States can control its borders without local interference.

Given how divided we are as a nation, I have no doubt such a declaration would precede the same kind of national tragedy that Lincoln’s did.  It’s not the outcome I’d want, but reality has a way of disregarding our personal desires.   More than at any time since 1865, Americans need to rediscover how easy it is to read their own Constitution, and understand what policies are and are not acceptable under it.  That document used to be a unifying force in our national fabric.  Our current collective ignorance of it is a significant contributor to the political climate in which we find ourselves.

The tinder is very dry, and matches abound.  Pray for the best but prepare accordingly.


(*) on a lighter note, I should point out I’ve long thought it funny that Article 1, Section 8 spells out the powers of Congress, while fans of the TV show M*A*S*H will recall the Army’s version of “section 8” refers to discharges due to mental unfitness.  Make of that what you will.


Laying out the timeline

UPDATE: (Feb 8, 2018) – It seems Forbes took down the timeline after a couple of days.  No explanation I’m aware of as to why.  Nevertheless, the Internet is forever, and a copy of it remains available here.


ORIGINAL POST:  One of the challenges for the American public right now is keeping up with the drip, drip, drip of scandalous information coming out of Washington.  The pieces of the puzzles are being slowly dribbled out, and thus it’s difficult for the average citizen to piece together a picture of just how bad the malfeasance of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is.

So Forbes has done the nation a great service by assembling the known pieces at this point.  The Epoch Times produced a visual summary in January, but Forbes’ product brings the chronology up to date and provides disturbing clarity.  Keep in mind while reading it there is considerable information that remains redacted or unreleased, and the parties involved will clearly go to great lengths to keep it that way.  The magazine rightly concludes (emphasis added):

It is right to say that this episode is the worst abuse of political power in American history related to elections. Watergate is nothing by comparison. That involved people not employed by the government.  Later it involved a cover-up in which Nixon participated.

Watergate did not involve the DOJ and the FBI – two institutions which must be non-partisans for this Republic of ours.

This case does involve the FBI and DOJ.  It also is foolish not to assume that Loretta Lynch and President Obama were ignorant of the goings on – if not involved in them.

Finally, the dishonest investigation of Hillary who committed actual crimes should not be acceptable. Nor should FBI or DOJ officials be allowed to alter events and Court proceedings for political purposes.

If we let this go, and people are not brought to justice, we will have forever damaged our Republic and the World’s view of us as a nation of laws.

Not to mention that in the eyes of those of us paying close attention, the credibility of our government has taken a body blow from which it may never recover.  Only seeing the key figures in this melodrama in handcuffs and behind bars will suffice to start the process of restoration.  Nothing short of that will matter.

“You may say I’m a Dreamer…”

“…but I’m not the only one.”


I tuned in for the State of the Union speech last night and I’m glad I did, for several reasons.  First, watching the Democrats win the “Worst Performance by a Minority Party at a State of the Union Address” award was priceless.  You could see it on their faces: they expected at this point in history to be watching Her Hillariness make permanent the hard left agenda inflicted by Obama.  Instead, they’re watching the country back away from the cliff, for however long the reprieve lasts.

More pleasantly, Trump struck the right tones in his address, maintaining discipline in his comments and rarely seeming to wander from the script as he often does.  Sure, he’ll never be as polished a speaker as Ronald Reagan, but that doesn’t matter: he communicates effectively in his own way.  Reagan may have started the trend of inviting “showcase” guests to the SOTU address, but Trump took it to a whole new level last night.  He put faces to the issues of border security, economic reform, courageous service and American patriotism.  I’ve become as cynical as most when it comes to such stage shows, but it was hard not to feel something when the president introduced Ji Seong-Ho, who escaped the brutality of North Korea and now fights that regime as a broadcaster and aid to fellow defectors.  To all the Lefties who’ve preened they’re some kind of underground “#resistance” to Trump’s allegedly “fascist” administration, the president was saying “THIS is what real resistance to real tyranny looks like:”


The line that most struck me, however, was this:

My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.  Because Americans are dreamers too.

In one swift moment, Trump yanked the term “Dreamers” away from the open borders advocates, reminding them there are people already in this country whose dreams are threatened by unchecked immigration, both legal and illegal.  It highlighted the many ways in which the Democratic party has put the interests of foreigners above those of the people they are elected to serve.  It was a masterful rhetorical stroke.

I came away from the speech optimistic.  Not necessarily because I think the administration will achieve everything they’ve set out to do.  Not because I think Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  But because this unlikely president is doing something that’s needed doing for a long time:

He’s teaching the Republicans how to fight.  In doing so, he’s giving the country its best — and perhaps final — shot for recovering from its leftward drift toward becoming California writ large.


Civil war underway?

This is today’s must-read speech.  It puts into words something I’ve been feeling since the election results in 2016.  The losers of that election have gone far beyond sour grapes.  It feels as if there is a jockeying for position toward a final confrontation.  Given the Left’s utter denial of the 2016 results, there is every possibility that if the housecleaning I’m hoping for gets underway, the struggle could go from backrooms to bullets.

This is not something I write lightly.  Read the entire piece for yourself, because it’s important to understand the nature of the current struggle.  Lengthy excerpt:

Guns are how a civil war ends. Politics is how it begins.

How do civil wars happen?

Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge.

That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war…

The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here.

Trump didn’t really win the election. Bush didn’t really win the election. Every time a Republican president won an election this century, the Democrats insist he didn’t really win…

It means they don’t believe that transfers of power in this country are determined by elections.

That’s a civil war.

There’s no shooting. At least not unless you count the attempt to kill a bunch of Republicans at a charity baseball game practice. But the Democrats have rejected our system of government.

This isn’t dissent. It’s not disagreement.

You can hate the other party. You can think they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the country. But then you work harder to win the next election. When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.

Your very own dictatorship…

Professional government is a guild. Like medieval guilds. You can’t serve if you’re not a member. If you haven’t been indoctrinated into its arcane rituals. If you aren’t in the club.

And Trump isn’t in the club. He brought in a bunch of people who aren’t in the club with him.

Now we’re seeing what the pros do when amateurs try to walk in on them. They spy on them, they investigate them and they send them to jail. They use the tools of power to bring them down.

That’s not a free country.

We’re in a civil war between conservative volunteer government and leftist professional government.

The pros have made it clear that they’re not going to accept election results anymore. They’re just going to make us do whatever they want. They’re in charge and we better do what they say.

That’s the war we’re in. And it’s important that we understand that.

Because this isn’t a shooting war yet. And I don’t want to see it become one.

Again, read the entire piece here (video of speech at the link).


Losing things

First, it was the Infernal Internal Revenue Service destroying files related to the investigation of partisan bias against conservative advocacy groups.

Then it was the loss of thousands of deleted emails and the industrial-strength wiping of a hard drive during the investigation into Her Hillariness’ unauthorized homebrew email server during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State.

Now, after intense Congressional scrutiny, the FBI “lost” thousands of text messages between two key agents who were both having an affair and talking about their mutual opposition to Donald Trump during the end of the election and the beginning of the transition period in 2016.

As they say: once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three or more times is a pattern.  Fortunately some grownups at the Justice Department stepped in after yesterday’s declaration by the FBI of “we can’t find the texts.”  Seems DOJ’s technical support is a bit more adept motivated to actually retrieve the information in question.  Maybe now the taxpayers can find out what it is the FBI would rather not be publicized (you don’t really believe they just couldn’t retrieve the data themselves, do you?).

The biggest loss, however, has nothing to do with emails, electronic files or text messages.  Rather, it’s the loss of both respect and trust in our Federal agencies.  No objective person can fail to note the many ways in which our government has acted in recent years to shield itself from criticism or potential prosecution.  We clearly have a two-tiered legal system in this nation now: one for the well-connected Beltway insiders (including Presidents), and one for everyone else.  Don’t believe me?  Try telling the IRS you “lost” your W-2 or other standard tax paperwork.  I bet you don’t get the mulligan our “public servants” get on such things.

Every American should be outraged at the brazen chicanery of our legal institutions.  What we’re seeing is more appropriate to a banana republic than to the would-be leader of the “free world.”  I have never thought the charges of collusion between Trump and Russia had any merit (one typically does not sell weapons to the enemies of the one you collude with).  There’s plenty of evidence, however, of collusion between Federal agencies to cover their own tracks.  A lot of housecleaning and swamp draining needs to be done.  It has to include robust punishment of the guilty, too, lest our self-professed bureaucratic betters continue to believe they can do whatever they want with impunity.


Playing fiscal chicken

The big discussion in the world of punditry today is whether Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the government, or whether budgetary authority will expire tonight, forcing a shutdown of “non-essential government functions.”

I’ve noted several times before that this annual dance shows just how disfunctional our government has become.   Passing an annual budget on time should be Job #1 for Congress.  Instead, we get year after year of sloppy half-measures and patchwork spending:

Far from being a new symptom of present-day Washington dysfunction, Congress’ chronic inability to follow its own appropriations process goes back decades. In fact, in the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997.

While the House passed a Continuing Resolution Thursday, there’s speculation the Democrats will torpedo a Senate concurrence over displeasure with not getting a DACA amnesty.  Fine.  If they want to burn the house down in a tantrum over not legalizing the presence of millions who came to this country illegally and uninvited, I say bring it on.

Then the President ought to permanently shut down all agencies that were deemed “non-essential” during the break in funding authorizations.  He can blame the opposition for highlighting again that much of what the Federal government does can be deemed “non-essential” when push comes to shove.  Having worked for Uncle Sam, I can verify there is indeed much nonessential nonsense the taxpayers fund year after year.  So let’s get rid of it.

If we’re going to play chicken with the budget every year, let’s play for keeps.


Quote of the day – history edition

“First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same…

Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset… Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia…

In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think… The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.”

— Senator Ted Kennedy, defending the Immigration Act of 1965