Sunday, February 18, 2018

Russia's Plan is Working to Perfection

With the indictment of 13 Russian trolls, it is now obvious that the goal of the Russia meddling during the 2016 election or any election is to try to create as much chaos as possible. They do not care so much as to who wins, what they want to accomplish is hysteria, chaos, and unrest. And their plan is working and Americans and the media are playing right into their narrative. This is what we have learned thus far:

1. The Democratic National Committee (DNC), Hillary Clinton, and Christopher Steele were played. The bought phony information that was made up by Steele contacts within Russia to give the appearance of collusion by the Trump campaign or worse yet, criminal activity to change the outcome of the election. Clinton, the DNC, and Steele most likely agreed with the information in the Trump dossier without corroborating it and then leaked it to law enforcement (FBI and DOJ) as well as the media. Since Steele had a good reputation the FBI, DOJ, and media also thought the information was factual. Most of the information was corroborated by a Yahoo article, but Steele was the source for that article. So, the Trump dossier was never corroborated. Russia was merely trying to create chaos, hysteria, and unrest and they succeeded. Americans and the media are more polarized than ever before. The DOJ and FBI broke the law to obtain FISA warrants to monitor Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page, to gain access to the campaign. The Obama administration also unmasked Trump campaign workers without any good reason. Over half of the country is in a panic, and not because of Russian meddling, but because Trump in President.

2. Why have there not been any indictments for the breach of DNC emails released by Assange during the election? The DNC claims Russians did this, yet there have been no indictments. The best the Muller council can do is indict 13 low level Russians who spend maybe a million dollars to play both sides. This low-level activity is not going to affect too many votes.

3. Russia bought ads on Facebook and social media for the same goal: create chaos in the American election system. Once again, the amount spend seems to be low but like most Americans, social media was played.

4. Russia meddling plays both sides (Republicans and Democrats) to generate unrest.

5. There is no link to the Manafort and Flynn indictments to election meddling.

6. There is no Trump collusion or obstruction at this time, but there appears to be plenty of Democrat, DNC, FBI, and DOJ collusion and obstruction in the election process.

The bottom line is that Russia is laughing about how gullible and how easy it was to manipulate Clinton, the DNC, the media, the DOJ, and the FBI. I do not believe they thought in their wildest dreams that folks would dislike Trump so much that they would do anything to end his presidency including breaking the law and publishing dozens of fake news stories. Russia may not have changed the outcome of an election, but they were very successful in creating unrest, chaos, and hysteria. What is even more troubling is that tens of millions of Americans are too dumb to realize when media propaganda and false narratives are brainwashing them. This polarizing of the electorate will work to the Russians advantage during the next election since it will be easier to manipulate how Americans vote. So far, the Muller investigation has not turned over too much Russian interference, but it obvious it has created a lot of hysteria and chaos. One can come to this conclusion just by watching 5 minutes of CNN and MSBC or spending 5 minutes on Social Media. The country has gone simply insane.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Proof of Politics on the Court: The Second Amendment (Part II)

In McDonald, the Court held a Chicago statute banning handguns from most private citizens was unconstitutional. The main difference between McDonald and Heller was that Heller was applied to a federal jurisdiction (DC) and McDonald was applied to the States. In this case, Justice Alito applied the Second Amendment to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment using the Due Process Clause. This is similar to how almost all Bill of Rights clauses and provisions were applied to the states back in 1960s. Alito gave a historical analysis of “gun rights” around the time of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment (Freedman’s Act of 1866, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866) to show that the Right to “keep and bear arms” for self-defense was fundamental because it was “deep-rooted in American history and tradition” (Glucksberg, 1997).

Many of the dissent’s arguments in these two cases are easily refuted. First, the dissent suggests gun rights have two faces: both legal and criminal uses (“liberty is on both sides of the equation”). However, the First Amendment has the same two faces (obscenity, inciting words, fighting words, and defamation are crimes outside of First Amendment protections). In fact, many ugly and hateful free speech words and actions are still legal (burning crosses, burning flags, military funeral protests, and Nazi parades so long as protests are peaceful and actions do not incite violence). Many Supreme Court cases have liberty at issue on both sides of the lawsuit. This is not uncommon for example, the Slaughter House Cases in 1873. In that case, the Court faced a challenge to a discriminatory statute but the Court held it had a compelling government interest to protect the safety and well-being of the citizens in New Orleans. Secondly, the dissent argues that slavery and discrimination against women and transgender persons are “deep-rooted” in American history. However, the Fourteenth Amendment also has an anti-discrimination clause: the equal protection clause so discriminatory laws are found unconstitutional. Thirdly, the dissent tries to change the subject from “liberty” in the Fourteenth Amendment to protecting “liberty interests” which requires a lower level of judicial scrutiny. Fourth, the dissent points to stricter gun laws in other modern countries around the globe. That may be true, but we have higher crime rates and guns are needed to fight crime (kind of a “chicken and egg” scenario). Besides, no fundamental right is free from regulation and each of the 50 states can still regulate guns so long as the law has a compelling government interest to do so. The burden of proof would be on the government and they would face a strict scrutiny of judgment, but regulation is possible and that is why all 50 states have vastly different gun laws (see experimentation below). Fifth, the dissent argues the Second Amendment is “a federalism provision directed at preserving the autonomy of the sovereign states.” This is similar to saying the Second Amendment is similar to the Tenth Amendment. This issue was discussed above, that is why the difference between the conservative and liberal definition of “states” and “the people” in the Amendment are critical. Sixth, the dissent argues that states and cities should be able to “experiment” with laws that suit them since, for example, crime in urban areas is higher than rural areas. Hence, there is no need for one uniform gun law across the nation. This is where the liberals are really hypocritical. By elevating abortion as a fundamental right, the Court struck down hundreds of state laws that are highly differentiated mostly due to the vast difference between political and religious philosophies. In fact, the dissent quotes the majority opinion in United States v. Lopez (1995) claiming experimentation is needed “where the best solution is far from clear”. But Justices Stevens and Breyer both dissented in that case and did not agree that experimentation should be allowed (in that case). As pointed out above, all 50 states have different gun laws (experimentation is still possible, but it will face strict scrutiny).

I would go a step further and say people have the right to protect themselves and their families in the “privacy” of their homes. Remember, liberals used the fundamental right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965) to elevate other rights such as sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003), gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015), and abortion (Roe v. Wade, 1973). Conservatives are merely using judicial precedent put forth by liberals to protect the use of guns for self-defense. What comes around goes around. I do not think anyone would deny that self-defense is a fundamental right which is no different than Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” for all species. Furthermore, I do not think anyone would deny any means possible for any living species to defend themselves.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The GOP is Crapping on the Constitution

The GOP and Democrats agreed on a two-year spending resolution. In that agreement, that GOP would get a much needed extra 135 billion in spending for the military. On the flip side, the Democrats received about 120 billion in extra discretionary spending across the board to be shared by all other department and agencies. This is a terrible deal because it adds 250 billion dollars of spending, per year, to the budget without reducing spending anywhere. We know Democrats are big spenders, but so too are Republicans and this is proof. Sure, they want to rebuild our military, but they cannot hold the country hostage with tons of debt in doing so. It is not worth it if the result is a larger and bigger federal government which will ultimately take away from individual and state sovereignty. This compromise is not worth it. The United States is over 20 trillion dollars in debt and any agreement to increase that debt is a bad deal for the future health of our economic system. But that is just it, politicians are so used to kicking the can down the road, it is just a matter of time before our debt and unfunded liabilities ruin this country.

Even those Republicans who did not vote in favor of the spending bill have misguided views. Several of these folks have been on TV talking about how Republicans could eliminate Senate procedures requiring 60-votes for cloture on spending bills. Once Republicans eliminate the 60-vote threshold then they can push their will on Democrats. There are several issues with this type of thinking. First, it is short sighted. When Democrats have majorities in Congress, they will return the favor by cutting military spending while increasing discretionary spending. What comes around goes around and Republicans should not forget this. Secondly, and most importantly, Republicans wanting to do away with the 60-vote threshold are forgetting about the history of America. Our Constitution does not implement a simple democracy, the Constitution outlines the government of a Republic. Our founders abhorred democracy and that can best be outlined by James Madison in his Federalist Paper 10 essay. To protect Americans from majority factions wanting to infringe on the rights of minority groups the Constitution put in place many checks and balances to ensure that majority groups will not get their way and impose their will on minority groups.

How is America a Republic but not a democracy? The Constitution supports Federalism to share government functions between the States and federal government. All States have two senators regardless of population. The Electoral College is not population based. Both the Executive and the Supreme Court can void legislation passed by Congress who support the people. And many laws or treaties require more than a simple majority to pass. Impeachment, amendments, and treaties, for instance, require super majorities to pass. This structure of the Constitution was put in place for reason: to protect citizens from government encroachment. The same can be said of a 60-vote majority in the Senate for spending bills. This Republican form of government helps protect citizens from government encroachment (like hijacking the future of our grandkids). For this reason, Republicans should not destroy this Constitutional structure. If our Founders wanted a simple democracy then they would have created that.

In one case the Supreme Court held that Nevada could allow for a simple majority to pass a budget instead of a supermajority required in the State’s Constitution. This is wrong. It infringes on protections built into the Nevada Constitution to protect its citizens. People have less freedom not more. There is nothing wrong with gridlock. This is how things are supposed to work in politics so one side does not push its agenda on another. A Republican form of government should be respected instead of being taken down brick by brick by the Court and impatient politicians. The Sixteenth Amendment (income tax) and Seventeenth Amendment (elect Senators through popular vote) are excellent examples of amendments that work to support democracy at the expense of Republican principles. We need to stop crapping on the Constitution.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Finally, Proof of Russian Collusion

It has been over a year, but investigations have finally shown proof of Russian collusion to influence the 2016 presidential election. The sad reality is that much of the media is refusing to cover the story because the outcome is not what they expected. No, the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians. The guilty party was the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and the Obama administration. What transpired is exponentially worse than Watergate because it involves corruption at the highest levels of the State Department, law enforcement (FBI), and the Department of Justice. All three of these departments colluded with a former British Agent, Richard Steele, who in turn bought information from Russia to construct a phony dossier of President Trump. The Trump dossier was then used to obtain dozens of Freedom of Information Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy of a Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page. The spying of Page continued from the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, and the Trump presidency. Page has never been charged with a crime and while there has been no collusion or crimes committed by the Trump campaign with Russia, there has been plenty of collusion with Democrats. There was a “never Trump” movement within the highest circles of government and they did whatever they could to affect or change the outcome of an election. This is a Constitutional crisis with huge implications. Government is to protect the rights of citizens and our Republican elections. When government interferes with the outcome of an election by violating the rights of citizens and candidates this is essentially a coup d’├ętat. The checks and balances of our government is to prevent these types of things from happening. That is why congressional oversight of our law enforcement and government agencies is so important. While Democrats and agencies try to protect themselves from disclosure of information, it is apparent they are guilty of not only obstructing justice, but of treasonous crimes against the State. When agencies fight transparency and they criticize those investigating them as being un-American, then the investigators are on the right track. People need to go to prison. This is bad. What is even more disturbing: had Hillary Clinton won the election we would have never learned the lengths at which people violated the law to circumvent an election result. That is scary. That is why consequences need to be long and lasting. The thing I cannot figure out is how incompetent Democrats really are. Why push for investigations into crimes that only you are guilty of committing? Why push for Russian collusion crimes when only you are guilty of committing? Sure, Democrats tried to frame it to look like it was Republicans that were guilty of the crime of Colluding with Russians to change the outcome of an election, but when the incriminating evidence planted by the Democrats was phony, the scheme was going to be uncovered. Is this arrogance? Maybe. The Democrats essentially led investigators to their doorstep. But Trump hysteria has caused many people to act in such irrational ways. They have become desperate to change the outcome of an election they would do anything even it meant getting sloppy (texting incriminating information, falsifying documents and reports). It is as the old saying goes “who ever smelt it, dealt it”. The stench of a phony dossier and fake news only shows those dishing out the lies are the ones guilty of crime. It is quite common for persons guilty of crimes to blame and frame others. This is no different. Again, I am starting to like what I call “Trump Chaos”. I am not a fan of chaos, but “Trump Chaos” is controlled in the sense the markets and economy are doing well. But the chaos surrounding Trump is showing the true colors of the media and Democrats. When those investigating the “never Trump” conspiracy are labelled as “Russian” spies and media outlets continually transmit false stories then we know all we need to know about Democrats and their objectives. That is why no one should be surprise that Democrats are behind the Russian Collusion to fix the 2016 election.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Proof of Politics on the Court: The Second Amendment (Part I)

In my previous article “Proof of Politics on the Court: The Establishment Clause”, I pointed out how, in general, the liberal sect of the Court wants to expand the meaning of the Constitution whereas, the conservative sect of the Court wants to limit the meaning of the Constitution to its original intent. The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” For most of history, the Second Amendment applied strictly to militias and the federal government, not the states. That changed with the landmark cases of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), and McDonald v. Chicago (2010).

In Heller, the Court held that a DC statute which prohibited the possession of handguns was unconstitutional. In this case, it was the conservative sect of the Court which used Substantive Due Process to elevate the fundamental right for each individual “the right of the people to keep and bear arms for self-defense” in particular in one’s home (in the modern era, it’s usually liberals who do this). Justice Scalia’s majority opinion goes to great lengths to show via a historical analysis around the founding era what the words used in the Second Amendment meant. Scalia theorized that the first and second parts of the Second Amendment are mutually exclusive. In other words, the Second Amendment can be read in two parts: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” stands alone as does “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. In the first part, Scalia believes that meaning of “State” is “nation” and the dissent believes it means each state in the Union. State is used in both contexts in the Constitution, but state meaning states in the union is most the popular context. In the second part of the Amendment, Scalia believes that meaning of “the people” means individual rights and not “collective rights”. The most popular use of “the people” in the constitution follows Scalia’s trend of though. The dissent, of course, disagrees. And of course, the dissent believes the two parts of the Second Amendment are implicit and belong together. One can argue that the liberal dissent is using more of a textual reading of the constitution than the conservative sect.

In Troxel v. Granville (2000), Justice Scalia dissents. The majority held that it was a fundamental right for parents to make important decisions regarding the “upbringing of their children” (similar to those rights found in Meyer v. Nebraska - 1923). Although Scalia believes this fundamental right declared by the Court to be factual, but he also believes judges should not be identifying what rights are fundamental and which are not. Scalia discusses cases such as Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), and West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1935) which elevated fundamental rights, stating “I would not overrule those earlier cases, neither would I extend the theory upon which they rested to this new context.” So can Scalia’s views in Heller be reconciled with Troxel? Sort of, since the founder’s intention in the second part of the Second Amendment is in the Constitution, it is not a reach to elevate it as a fundamental right. Scalia, clearly did not want to elevate rights not alluded to in the Constitution. Obviously, Scalia’s fundamental right of using handguns for self-defense is not as far a stretch as abortion being a fundamental right.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Proof of Politics on the Court: the Establishment Clause (Part II)

Examining the history between government and religion during the Founding era is at best mixed. Many colonial states had government sponsored religions, presidents gave religious oaths at their inaugurations and for Thanksgiving Day, and Congress paid chaplains to deliver prayers to open sessions in both the House and Senate. However, two of our greatest Founding Fathers (Jefferson and Madison), although they participated in some of the ceremonies previously outlined as president, they had strong feelings about keeping “a wall between church and state” (Jefferson). Madison wrote about the constitutionality of chaplains administering prayers in Congress (House and Senate) “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.” Madison was also concerned about the prayer tradition because it is “paid out of national taxes” and he worries that chaplains represent the most popular religions and not minority ones. Madison also said religion and government will “both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed.”

The decisions delivered by divided Courts over the Establishment Clause are not surprisingly mixed. In Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) the Court held that both Pennsylvania and Rhode Island laws using taxpayer money to subsidize teacher pay and school supplies (books) in all schools (including private parochial schools) were unconstitutional. The Court held that although the government’s interest to improve education in their states was compelling, still the statutes did not pass the newly established Lemon Test to determine the constitutionality of Establishment Clause cases: “First, the Clause must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances or inhabits religion; finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.” The statutes in Lemon failed the “entanglement” provision. In Marsh v. Chambers (1983), the Court held that the century long practice of opening the Nebraska legislature with a prayer by a chaplain was constitutional. Chief Justice Berger did not apply the “Lemon Test” he developed 12 years earlier. However, in Lee v. Weisman (1992) the Court held that a Rhode Island practice of having a chaplain deliver an invocation and benediction prayers (although generic in nature) were unconstitutional. This decision disregarded over a century of national tradition. The Liberal sect distinguished Lee from the Conservative decision in Marsh by saying Lee was coercive and mandatory and Marsh was not (this is not 100% factual). The majority also argues that just because government routinely conducts religious activities it does not make it legal. The Alien and Seditions Act (1798) passed by the Adam’s administration is a good example of a law that would not be ruled unconstitutional today. Justice Scalia in his dissent called this decision “the bulldozer of its social engineering” saying the Court invents a theory of “psychological coercion”. Scalia points out that people at the graduation had no issue participating in the “Pledge of Allegiance”. Scalia also points out the purpose of the Establishment Clause is to stop the coercive power of money between government and religion.

In McCreary County Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005) the Court held that a display of the Ten Commandants among other historical documents was unconstitutional. Kentucky failed three times in the Court’s view to portray the Ten Commandants as not just religious, but as an important document in the development of government civil law. The majority held that the display’s intention to be religious was obvious in the first two displays and the third display could not overcome that obstacle. In other words, the third display, no matter how successfully the display showed the connection between civil law, it would never have been found constitutional based on previous intent. That same year, in Van Orden v. Perry (2005), the Court held a Ten Commandments monument outside the Texas Capital was constitutional. In his majority decision Chief Justice Rehnquist dismissed the Lemmon Test. Since the monument was among 20 other monuments displaying other aspects of government, even Justice Breyer joined the majority. Breyer said that it was apparent that the Ten Commandments in this setting is more than just religious in nature.

I brought up the Recess Appointment Case (NRLB v. Canning Noel, 2014) on purpose. In his concurring opinion, but dissenting on methodology, Justice Scalia quotes Marbury v. Madison saying it is the duty of the Court to “say what the law is.” He also quotes Zivotofsky v. Clinton (2012) by saying the role of the Court is not “lessoned” because “two political branches are adjusting their own powers between themselves.” Also Scalia quotes Free Enterprise v. Public Accounting Oversight (2010) about the separation of powers: “its vitality does not depend on whether the encroached-upon branch approves the encroachment.” In the majority opinion Justice Breyer provides a modern historical recital of Recess Appointments made by presidents. Since the FDR era president’s had been encroaching on Senate powers but as Scalia points out it is the duty of the Court to correct the balance of powers between branches of government. Why is this important? Even if history has shown an “entanglement” of traditions between the government and religion, does that make it constitutional? Just as it was the duty of the Court to determine the correct balance of the separation of powers in federal government (for recess appointments), it is the duty of the Court to determine the correct balance between separation of church and state for governments and religion (Establishment Clause). Is it fair for Scalia to take a historical interpretation for the Establishment Clause but a different textual approach for the Recess Appointment Clause (ignoring history), and the Liberal sect to do the opposite (although the liberal sect explores Jefferson’s and Madison’s views on the Establishment Clause)? In other words, the Court is highly inconsistent in its application of the Establishment Clause.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Proof of Politics on the Court: The Establishment Clause (Part I)

Liberal Justices will always try to find a way to expand the meaning of the Constitution. As the famous progressive Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted: “The Constitution is a living document.” In other words, the meaning of the Constitution changes with the times. Liberals employed many techniques over the years to expand the meaning of the Constitution such as “presumption” and “judicial restraint”. These two techniques allow liberal justices to uphold state or federal laws because laws were “presumed” constitutional unless it could be proven otherwise. The burden of proof was not on the government to show the laws they passed were constitutional, but on those opposing the laws. Justices also practiced “judicial restraint”: upholding government laws even if they thought they may be unconstitutional. For example, in Williamson v. Lee Optical (1955), the Court upheld an Oklahoma law that prohibited Lee Optical from practicing what Lens Crafters is doing today. In this case, the Warren Court held: “The law need not be in every respect logically consistent with its aims to be constitutional. It is enough that there is an evil at hand for correction, and that it might be thought that the particular legislative measure was a rational way to correct it.” This is a very broad way to interpret government laws, considering the “evil” in this case performed by Lee Optical has become the present day business plan for Lens Crafters. Lee Optical is still valid law today.

Liberals have expanded the meaning of nearly every provision in the Constitution. The Necessary and Proper Clause was expanded immediately in our history (McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819) where the Court held a National Bank was constitutional. The Interstate Commerce Clause has gone from regulating trade between the states to controlling anything that is economic (interstate or intrastate) with Wickard v. Filburn (1941) being the absolute edge of federal government regulation. The Court has even used the Commerce Clause to uphold the 1964 Civil Rights Act in Katzenbach v. McClung (1964) and Heart of Atlanta Hotel v. United States (1964).

Consider a couple of examples: The Recess Appointment Clause and Qualifications Clause. In NLRB v. Canning Noel (2014), The Court held recess appointments made by President Obama were unconstitutional. However, in doing so, the entire Recess Appointment Clause was rewritten to construct a more modern interpretation. The new definition of the Recess Appointment Clause provides any President to make recess appointments during any short 10 day adjournments of Congress as well as fill vacancies not opened during the current Congressional recess. By doing so, the Court yielded much more power to the Executive branch at the expense of the Senate and the American people by diluting the separation of powers between the branches of government. In United States Term Limits v. Thornton (1995) the Court held that an Arkansas referendum placing term limits on United States Representatives and Senators was unconstitutional. The Qualification Clauses provide age requirements, state residence, and citizenship requirements for Congressional candidates. This decision, however, made another requirement not found in the Constitution: that States cannot place any requirements on its federal representatives and senators such as term limits or reasonable things such as mental acuity or criminal record. This decision, once again, provided more power to the Federal government at the expense of the States and more importantly the people.

The Liberal sect of the Court has also elevated fundamental rights not found in the Constitution using a technique called Substantive Due Process: abortion (Roe v. Wade, 1973), sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003), and gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015). All of those fundamental rights were the result of the Courts ambiguous and broad fundamental right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). True, conservatives did the same thing during the Lochner Era Court: freedom of contract (Lochner v. New York, 1905), various rights including marriage, occupation, acquire knowledge, and raising children (Meyer v. Nebraska, 1923), and the freedom to make decisions in the upbringing of children (Pierce v. Society Sisters, 1925). I will not defend any of these elevated rights, but it is much easier to defend the conservative rights than the liberal rights.

The First Amendment’s religious Establishment Clause is very much different than everything we discussed earlier in this article because it is role reversal. It is the Liberal sect of the Court providing a narrow reading of the Clause whereas the Conservative sect of the Court wants a broader reading of the Clause. This flip flop over positions demonstrates that the Court is highly political and justices are not always neutral. The Establishment Clause states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”