Eliminating political careerism

A columnist from Massachusetts points out that Elizabeth Warren’s failed run for the presidency resulted in a loss of representation for the State:

According to ProPublica, Warren has missed 53.5% of her votes during this session of Congress. This makes her the third-most absent member of the Senate. (Remember: We lowly taxpayers pay Warren $175,000 for this job.)

She clearly decided that running for president was a valid excuse to neglect and ignore her Senate duties. Yes, this despite the fact that she pretty much promised Massachusetts voters in 2018 that if they reelected her, she would not run for president. Then, of course, she changed her mind just a few months later and decided to run and skip out on her current office to do so.

This is a slap in the face to the people of Massachusetts, who elected her to a six-year term just in 2018, undoubtedly with her promise to actually serve this term in mind. Turns out, serving in the Senate was just a backup option for Warren in case her presidential aspirations didn’t work out.

In other words, it’s all about serving her interests, not those of her constituents, whom she failed to represent in Washington more than half the time.  This is a bipartisan problem, and I’ve written about it before.  Elected officials should never take their current office as a given, even while reaching for more influence. 

Aside from term limits, the best way to end political careerism is to require people to serve out the full elective term of office (barring debilitating illness, injury or misconduct), and to ban the practice of running for more than one office at once (i.e. president and senate).  It’s bad enough how much running for reelection shapes an officeholder’s term.  Trying to grab the next rung of the ladder while keeping one hand on the current one “just in case” is the opposite of public-mindedness.  Too many special elections (which cost taxpayer $$) occur because John Q. Politician was elected to two different offices simultaneously, or else was picked as a political appointee while serving in an elected office.  In a country of nearly 330 million people, nobody is that indispensable.  If someone believes they are called to greater responsibility, they should demonstrate a commitment to it by fulfilling any current public obligations, then focusing on convincing the public or an executive to give them such an opportunity.  Such an expectation by the people would mean candidates would be out of political work from time to time.  And that’s not a bad thing, considering that also happens from time to time to the citizens they allegedly represent.  Let our would-be representatives live like the rest of us occasionally.

Government by gangsterism

Senator Chuck Schumer personifies the authoritarian nature of the Left: “our way, or else.”

In front of the Supreme Court Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined pro-choice protesters on the day justices debated the constitutionality of [legislation in Louisiana] titled “Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.”

During his speech, Schumer made threatening remarks aimed at Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

“I want to tell you Neil Gorusch, and you Brett Kavanaugh, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said. “You won’t know what hit you, if you go forward with these awful decisions.” (emphasis added)

How inappropriate were these remarks?  His spokesman strained credulity to the limit trying to walk them back:

Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision,” Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said in a statement.

A plain reading of Schumer’s remarks reveals no reference to the GOP’s political fortunes, only two Supreme Court justices being called out by name.  Nor is this the first time Schumer has engaged in marginally veiled personal threats:

The new leader of Democrats in the Senate says Donald Trump is being “really dumb” for picking a fight with intelligence officials, suggesting they have ways to strike back, after the president-elect speculated Tuesday that his “so-called” briefing about Russian cyberattacks had been delayed in order to build a case.

New Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities.

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Former Justice Antonin Scalia, often considered one of the most influential conservative jurors in the history of the Supreme Court, died in 2016 under circumstances that offered plenty of opportunity for so-called ‘conspiracy theory.’  When such public threats as Schumer’s are being issued by a ranking member of Congress, and FBI agents are revealed to have sent texts during the last presidential election worrying about a Trump victory and saying “we’ll stop it,” and a reputed pedophile with links to prominent people “commits suicide” in his jail cell despite being a high-profile prisoner, is it any wonder the public increasingly agrees there is a “Deep State” at work that ensures its own purposes regardless the expressed wishes of the American people?

For the record, the Senate should call for Schumer to resign.  His remarks are wholly inappropriate for a person in his position.  Don’t worry, though — I’m not holding my breath.

Running the numbers

Too many people today still have the idea that those who have a “prepper” mindset are on the looney fringe of society.  In truth, those who make prudent preparations for hard times are merely acknowledging that hard times are a recurring part of the human experience:

We don’t buy houses in the floodplain if we can help it, because we are risk averse, even though the chance of it flooding in any given year is only 1%. Why? We will live in the house longer than one year. Over the 30-year life of a mortgage, the chance of the house flooding at least once vastly exceeds 1%, because every year is another roll of the dice…

There’s a common misconception in the media about the eventuality for which the preppers are exactly prepping. That’s because they’re a diverse group, and prep for many different things. No, they aren’t planning for a revolution to overthrow the government. (Most of them, anyway.) Mostly they’re planning to keep themselves and their families safe while someone else tries to overthrow the government. That, or zombies. (More on zombies below.)

While we don’t have any good sources of data on how often zombies take over the world, we definitely have good sources of data on when the group of people on the piece of dirt we currently call the USA attempt to overthrow the ruling government. It’s happened twice since colonization. The first one, the American Revolution, succeeded. The second one, the Civil War, failed.

Stepping through this, the average year for colony establishment is 1678, which is 340 years ago. Two qualifying events in 340 years is a 0.5882% annual chance of nationwide violent revolution against the ruling government. Do the same math as we did above with the floodplains, in precisely the same way, and we see a 37% chance that any American of average life expectancy will experience at least one nationwide violent revolution.

This is a bigger chance than your floodplain-bound home flooding during your mortgage.  It’s noticeably bigger…

Two instances in 340 years is not a great data pool to work with, I will grant, but if you take a grab sample of other countries around the world you’ll see this could be much worse. Since our 1678 benchmark, Russia has had a two world wars, a civil war, a revolution, and at least half a dozen uprisings, depending on how you want to count them. Depending on when you start the clock, France had a 30-year war, a seven-year war, a particularly nasty revolution, a counter-revolution, that Napoleon thing, and a couple of world wars tacked on the end. China, North Korea, Vietnam, and basically most of the Pacific Rim has had some flavor of violent revolution in the last 100 years, sometimes more than one. With Africa, it’s hard to even conceive where to start and end the data points.

The entire piece is worth your time and consideration.  As the author noted, not every “prepper” is necessarily thinking about the complete collapse of society into civil war or anarchy (although these are not completely unreasonable considerations lately).  Hurricanes, floods, riots and funky new viruses each contain within them the seeds to upset the existing order, however temporarily.

We’re a highly integrated society, dependent on others for many basic things.  How long could you sustain yourself and your family if left solely to your own resources at hand?  The question can be overwhelming.  Start small.  Think of your daily necessities: food, water, shelter, personal care items, etc.  Put some of those aside for the proverbial “rainy day.”  Rotate your perishables (“eat what you store, store what you eat”).  Increase your “rainy day” supply over time as you are able to fund and/or store it.  Build a community, whether based on your extended family or well-known, like-minded people.  There are no “perfect” preparations, but investing the time it takes to binge watch a series on Netflix to think these sorts of issues through can lead to some obvious courses of action you can begin to take for your particular situation.

Because sooner or later, things will change.  Things will happen.  And that’s not the time to start thinking about what to do.  That’s the time to do.

Slandering America

An estimated 22,000 people, many of them armed, descended on Richmond Monday to demonstrate their support of the Second Amendment in the face of efforts by Virginia Democrats to curtail constitutional rights.  Only one arrest was made (most likely Antifa-related), and the peaceful, if loud, crowds were even seen picking up their trash, reminescent of the Tea Party rallies of a few years ago.

Many on the left and in the media (but I repeat myself) are visibly disappointed that their hype of a violent “white nationalist” threat was dashed against the reality of a gathering of responsible Americans from all walks of life.  They certainly had tried to fan the flames.

Here’s one of those “white nationalists” speaking for himself today (click here for video):

2A

The powers that be will do anything, say anything, to undermine America and all it stands for. Ignore the mainstream media. Dig for the ground truth.

Lifting the veil?

Yesterday’s release of Inspector General Horowitz’s report on the origin of the investigations into the Trump campaign brought to official light a pattern of misconduct on the part of the FBI and confirmed aspects that had been publicly discussed for some time.  The report outlines 17 specific ‘inaccuracies and omissions’ just in the requests the FBI made to the FISA Court for warrants regarding Carter Page, one of several Trump campaign officials targeted by the agency.  Inexplicably, the IG concluded there was no ‘bias’ in the origin or conduct of the investigation — thus clearly disregarding already publicized text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that strongly indicate the opposite.  As others have said online, when established procedures are violated 17 times, all in the same direction (to the disadvantage of the target), that’s not a coincidence or innocent mistake — that’s deliberate enemy action.  The Attorney General, Bill Barr, was more blunt:

The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source. …[T]he malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.

In addition, U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is known to be conducting a criminal investigation into this and related matters, strongly hinted more information is to come:

I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff.  However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department.  Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.  Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened(emphasis added)

Durham has broader power to investigate than did Horowitz, so his public disagreement with aspects of the OIG report is significant.  What all this seems to tell us is that we’ve only seen a peek at corruption involved.  Fully lifting the veil — and crucially, holding people accountable — is yet to come.  Continue to pray for our nation.

Request: A weekend of prayer

The next couple of days may prove to be “the deep breath before the plunge.”  Not to be melodramatic, but as Gandalf told Pippin, “the board is set, the pieces are moving.”  I believe the weeks ahead, between now and the 2020 election, are some of the most critical our country has faced.  As many of our past leaders have noted, our greatest dangers come not from external enemies, but rather from within.

So how is the board set, and what pieces are in play?  First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a public statement today, finally publicly directed her party’s committee chairs to begin drafting formal articles of impeachment against President Trump, despite the fact any fair observer of the “inquiry” thus far would note it has hurt, rather than helped, their case.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced the committee will hold hearings toward that end, beginning Monday morningBut that’s not the only piece moving on Monday.  That same day, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is scheduled to finally release the report on his investigation into possibly serious improprieties by the previous administration to justify spying on the Trump campaign in 2016.  These are suspected to include, according to many sources, FBI personnel tampering with interview documentation and concealing potentially exculpatory evidence from their requests to the FISA Court for warrants on various Trump allies.  The IG’s semiannual report to Congress at the end of September noted it had 48 open cases regarding official misconduct by Department of Justice employees.  It’s not unreasonable to think that might be related.  The new report due Monday is rumored to be around 1,000 pages.  As some commentators have noted, it doesn’t take 1,000 pages to say there was no wrongdoing.  But if one is making a detailed case… or in fact has already referred charges to U.S. Attorney John Durham for prosecution, such a lengthy report would be expected.

The release of the report will be followed by an appearance by IG Horowitz before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, two days after the report’s release.  These two dates — December 9th and 11th — have been public for a while.  So it’s likely not a coincidence Speaker Pelosi told her House to get moving with impeachment today.  The Democrats’ own day of reckoning may be imminent, and it’s been clear this week they’ve been counter-programming the public narrative against any potential negative revelations.

What I can’t understand is why the Democrats would formally impeach the president, forcing a trial before the GOP-controlled Senate.  The Democrats have been patently unethical in their conduct of the “inquiry” to date, refusing to allow the GOP to call their own witnesses (with one exception), limiting GOP members’ access to interviews and documentation, and generally riding roughshod over any notions of fairness to the accused.  This, of course, is now standard procedure for the Left (see: Brett Kavanaugh).  Pelosi’s partisans deliberately have presented a warped, one-sided perspective of the issues at hand (much as they’re alleged to have done with the FISA Court), and their allies in the press have been their megaphone.  Representative Nadler’s opening assertion that “the facts are not in dispute” is about as true as “the science is settled” when it comes to global warming climate change climate crisis.

The Senate, as the Founders intended, tends to be more sober and dignified about such things, so there’s not likely to be a “payback is a b–ch” approach to their own proceedings when the ball lands in their court.  But I strongly suspect there’ll be a concerted effort to make sure America gets, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.”  That possibility alone should make the Democrats think twice about handing off the baton to the Senate.  There’s already enough evidence that’s been made public that puts the lie to the narrative they’re selling.  But as Glenn Reynolds has said repeatedly about the odds of a Trump reelection, “all the Democrats have to do is not act crazy… and they can’t even do that.”  So here’s hoping they try to hand the Senate a lit stick of dynamite, only to have it blow up in their own face, like Wile E. Coyote.

While I could be wrong, I only see two possible outcomes at this point.  One is that the president is removed from office.  Such a result will, I believe, only convince many (including me) who love this country that it no longer represents them and will not tolerate them interfering with the agenda of their self-declared betters.  The Democrats underestimated the anger that helped propel Trump into office.  I don’t think they have any notion of the anger that would result from his removal, either.

The second outcome is for the administration to successfully pull the covers off the Deep State shenanigans that began even before Trump took office, and to do so in a way the public and press cannot ignore.  There is every reason to believe that if a full public accounting took place, the outcry for justice would be deafening.

Either way, the result will occur in a nation that is armed to the teeth.  I generally see that as a good thing.  But given the chasm that has opened among us, it’s also a sobering thing to remember.  Sure, the “side” I identify with likes to joke that we have most of the guns since the Left finds them icky.  I enjoy ribbing the other side as much as the next guy.  But as a historian I also know in 1860 both the Union and Confederates held each other in martial as well as social contempt, convinced the war would be quick and easy over their “deranged” opponents.  How’d that work out for them?  Most wars start with such ill-considered bravado.

The day may come when ballots fail and bullets are required, if we are to remain free.  Americans have faced such situations before, and must be prepared to face such again.  But let no one kid themselves about what that may mean for all we hold dear.

So I ask that this weekend be one of prayer — a deep breath before the plunge of next week.  Prayer for the truth to be fully revealed, no matter where it leads.  Prayer that our country will once again value truth over shading information for partisan or personal advantage.  Prayer for our leaders — on both sides of the aisle — that they will be honest with us, sober, and careful with the governance of our nation.  Prayer that our disputes will be resolved peacefully, rather than in the streets (*).  Prayer that for each of us, God may guide our words and our actions, balancing the requirements of justice and mercy, passion and restraint.  And most importantly, prayer that the Spirit may bring revival in this land, restoring the fellowship and discipleship of repentant believers that was so vital to its founding.  For everything, we are told, there is a season.  May God show us what this season is, and what is required of us in response.

God bless you, and God bless America.

(*) I believe many in our nation fail to realize how the peaceful resolution of the disputed election in 2000 was a historical anomaly for the world, and a testament to the strength of our society.  We should never take such for granted.  

Accessories to murder

I’m really tired of reading stories like this:

Jose Bryan Guzman, an 18-year-old illegal alien from El Salvador, is accused of murdering 19-year-old Marlene Yamileth Portillo-Posada — who he was apparently dating at the time — on August 24 by strangling her to death because Guzman believed Portillo-Posada was cheating on him…

In December 2018, Guzman was arrested by the Durham Police Department after allegedly robbing two victims at gunpoint in separate incidents. The same month as the armed robberies, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead announced that he was ending all cooperation with ICE, turning the region into a sanctuary jurisdiction.

Subsequently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency requested that the sanctuary county of Durham County hold Guzman until he could be properly turned over to agents.  Instead, Durham County officials ignored ICE’s request and released him into the general public in March — six months before he allegedly murdered his girlfriend…

In Fiscal Year 2019, North Carolina sanctuary jurisdictions freed about 563 illegal aliens from custody instead of turning them over to ICE agents. Of those illegal aliens released, more than 500 have been convicted of crimes, including 28 convicted of assault, 192 convicted on traffic violations, 84 convicted of drunk driving, 46 convicted of possession of drugs, and 35 convicted of larceny.

State and local officials who want to play the “sanctuary game” are showing utter contempt for the rule of law and the safety of those they are supposed to serve.  I don’t see any reason not to charge them as accessories to these sorts of crimes, since by ignoring the ICE holding request they facilitated the commission of the crimes.  In addition, any jurisdiction that refuses to cooperate with ICE should lose all Federal funding of any kind.  Even the uber-Left 9th Circuit had to admit the administration has such discretion, though in practice this penalty is far from being tightly applied.

The only way to deter these local virtue-signaling scofflaws is to put their skin in the game.  It’s long past time we do just that.