July 2016 Archives

Who is better on the Bill of Rights, Trump or Clinton?

The First Amendment is about religion, speech, the press, and association. On religion, both favors punishing people for their religious beliefs (Clinton in terms of health care, Trump in terms of restricting/surveilling Muslims). They both act against the ability of the press to do its proper job (Clinton lies and doesn't give much access, whereas Trump actively bans them if they don't do their job well, in his eyes). Clinton is worse on the freedom of association (she opposes Citizens United, and favors many labor laws that restrict employers and employees), and she is worse on speech itself (favoring, in some cases, so-called "hate speech" laws). So I give the First Amendment, very narrowly, to Trump.

The Second Amendment: unless Trump is lying, he is clearly better than Clinton, though it is far from clear how strong a protector of the Second Amendment he'll actually be. Like Obama, Clinton rarely gives specifics on what she would do to curb gun violence, handwaving at literally useless ideas like "universal background checks" that will not make anyone safer. Most of her problems with guns, other than silly rhetoric and useless proposals, currently center around her dismisal of due process in removing the right to have a gun, although Trump has similar problems (more on that under the Fifth Amendment). Narrow win for Trump.

The Third Amendment: no direct evidence, but I can envision Trump forcing us to quarter troops, and I cannot envision Clinton doing it. Maybe it's just my imagingion, but I can see it. So, Clinton wins.

The Fourth Amendment: Clinton has a big problem here. Even though I cannot think of a time when she has encouraged violating Fourth Amendment rights, she herself has obstructed investigations that were under proper legal warrant, which tells me that whatever respect she has for the role of proper legal warrants is conditional. On the other hand, as with the Third Amendment, I can see Trump not caring about proper legal warrants, either getting them, or obeying them. But since neither has a history I can think of for encouraging violations of the Fourth Amendment, I'll call it a draw.

The Fifth Amendment: we have Trump encouraging action against unconvicted Muslims and illegal immigrants and businesses who send operations out of the country, and encouraging unlawful takings of private property for his own personal use. We have Clinton who thinks there is a "right to be believed" if you're an alleged victim of sexual abuse, and who -- as with the Fourth Amendment -- blocks attempts to apply due process to herself. And we have both of them encouraging the use of a list that does not adhere to due process requirements, as a means for taking away rights protected by the Second Amendment. Both of them, however, are strong advocates of the right against self-incrimination. We're all losers here.

The Sixth Amendment and Seventh Amendment: I can't think of Clinton or Trump favoring violations of our right to a fair trial. Draw.

The Eighth Amendment: Clinton and Trump both seem to be in favor of what I would call excessive fines for civil violations. Trump is also in favor, in some cases, of using what most people would call "cruel and unusual punishment"; e.g., torture. Technically, torture isn't punishment, but a means of extracting information; but I think it's still safe to give that point to Clinton.

The Ninth Amendment: it seems clear to me that both Clinton and Trump are completely uninterested in recognizing the rights of the people that aren't explicitly enumerated in the law. A very unfortunate draw.

The Tenth Amendment: I have seen a lot of evidence that Clinton simply disregards the Tenth Amendment. Indeed, this is one of the biggest divides between Democrats and Republicans: Democrats believe that there are literally no limits on what the federal government may do, as long as "the people" (meaning, the elected officials) support it, and the Constitution does not specifically prohibit it. Republicans believe -- as the Constitution clearly says -- that the federal government is significantly limited, allowed to do only what the Constitution says it can do. The Republicans are correct, obviously, and we see this play out often -- though imperfectly -- in areas like ObamaCare and entitlements/welfare and taxes and labor laws and guns and drug laws and gay marriage and a plethora of other issues.

In fairness to Hillary, Trump has no serious record of supporting the Tenth Amendment's principles, except when it aligns with his view. But his record of proposals that violate those principles is much smaller. Point, Trump.

So if we tally it all up, I get 3-2 in favor of Trump. Of course, you can't quantify things like this; and even if we could, the First Amendment would count a lot more than the Third, and maybe Trump would only win the First 60-40 and it's worth ten times as much as the Third. So tallying this up really isn't useful.

The real point is that both of them are pretty awful. G+
I wish Trump had picked Herman Cain as his running mate. Cain v Kaine would've been awesome. G+
How am I expected to pick between two New Yorkers for President? It's like ... the Giants, or the Jets? I vote Patriots. Condi Rice for NFL Commissioner! Make the NFL Great Again! G+
I bet if some guy tried to kill a Republican President, Obama would release him from jail. G+
I thought it was dumb calling McCain a "third Bush term," and I think it's dumb calling Clinton a "third Obama term." Also, "third Reagan term," and "third Clinton term" were dumb, even though Bush and Gore were the VPs. G+
President Barack Obama said Wednesday America is already great and does not need some "self declared savior" to fix it.

In other words, Obama is saying that America shouldn't let Trump pull the same trick Obama did eight years ago. G+
There's serious policy differences between Republicans and Democrats.

But watching both conventions, you'd never know it. Well, OK, you'd know about differences on guns and abortion. But that's about it. G+
The day after the DNC focused, in part, on Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood, both the remaining cops charged in the death of Freddie Gray, and the filmmakers charged in an undercover exposé of Planned Parenthood, had their criminal charges dropped. G+
Hillary Clinton did have a big hand in smashing this "glass ceiling," but she didn't do it this week, or this year, or last year. She did it in 2007 when almost everyone thought she was going to be the Democratic nominee for President, and virtually no one opposed her because of her sex. G+
Everyone seems to have forgotten what Citizens United v. FEC is. It only made it so that people could pool their money together and use it for election speech. It said that government cannot restrict speech because of who is saying it.

Indeed, no government act I can think of in recent memory has been more democratizing than the Citizens United decision. It means that if there's some rich guy out there dumping his own money into a campaign for someone who is opposed to bubble gum -- totally legal before Citizens United -- you and I can form a group called "Geeks for Gumballs" and spend our pooled money on electing someone who is in favor of bubble gum. That's all this is. It gives people more voice, not less.

Yes, it applies to ExxonMobil, but it also applies to independent filmmakers, unions, and public-interest groups like the Sierra Club and the NRA. Before Citizens United, only individuals -- not nonprofit corporations -- could spend unlimited money on campaigns (well, and news media, which for some reason got an exemption, even though independent filmmakers didn't). Overturning Citizens United would give more power to billionaires in the political process, by criminalizing the speech of the rest of us who need to pool our resources together to get heard.

Citizens United did not say that corporations are people, nor did it rely on that principle. Citizens United did not increase spending limits. Citizens United did not allow anonymous donations or change reporting requirements. Citizens United did not create or enable Super PACs. Citizens United did not do any of the things that the Democrats say it did.

All Citizens United said is that you don't lose your right to spend money on political speech just because you are joining your voice with other voices. That's it.

And to be against that is ... baffling, frankly. G+
These instructions are literally impossible to comply with. G+
Far be it from me to defend Hillary Clinton -- and even less so, Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- let alone link to a New Republic article, but I keep waiting for evidence that the DNC "rigged" anything, and I don't see it. At the end of the day, all the evidence I've seen shows that the elections were held fairly and according to the rules, and that a lot more people voted for Clinton than for Bernie Sanders. Even if the DNC acted on the pro-Clinton suggestions in the e-mails, helping promote one candidate is not actually "rigging" anything.

On the other hand, I also don't see how saying that these were Russian hackers somehow puts the DNC in a better light. To me, that makes it much worse for the Democrats, because they allowed themselves to be infiltrated by one of our greatest geopolitical adversaries. G+
It's creepy to have one of the two major American political parties united by the idea that it should be illegal to advertise an independent film that criticized their nominee. G+
Wait: so the Democratic National Committee favored the Democratic candidate over the Socialist candidate?! G+
An oldie, but a goodie: "Superdelegate," a love song I wrote 8 years ago. G+
Stop announcing your VP picks. It just causes terrorist attacks. G+
If a vote not for Trump is for Hillary, then a vote not for Hillary is for Trump, so a vote that for neither is for ... both? G+
After years, I am still bothered by the fact that Reince Priebus has EI in his first name, and IE in his last. G+
Condoleeza Rice needs to be our next leader. The current administration is awful in every way. They hate the rule of law, and are about factions and demonization instead of bringing people together. #NeverGoodell   G+

My new game, PokeMongo.

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My new game, PokeMongo. G+
Lynch refuses to answer why the relevant law was not considered in the decision on whether to prosecute Clinton. G+
It's funny when a representative is out of time and they say "I yield back." No, you don't. G+
I love the new Clinton defense of her actions for illegally mishandling classified information: "... professionals, many with years of handling sensitive, classified material, they did not believe that it was; I did not have a basis for second-guessing their conclusion."

There is no evidence that they did not believe the information was not classified. It seems far more likely that they knew it was classified, but did not know that Clinton's private server was insecure ... because why would the Secretary of State's only e-mail account be insecure? That's stupid, right?

But even if they didn't think it was classified, why would she second-guess them? Because she's the Secretary of State, and she knows what the rules on classified information are, and she told them to send e-mail to her private server, and she knows that server is insecure and that she's responsible for it. That's why. And that she didn't, over and over again, means she's grossly negligent.

In addition, there's the idiotic "they were not marked, or were marked inaccurately." It doesn't matter. The law doesn't care about the marking. She is the Secretary of State and she knows what subjects are classified, and if she has any questions, she must make sure. If she doesn't have any questions -- over and over again -- then she's grossly negligent. G+
What would Hillary and Donald be like in Star Trek's Mirror Universe? Would they be even more dishonest, corrupt, and nasty, or would they be ... less? And would either one have a goatee? G+
We are better off than we have ever been.

Nothing is perfect. In this life, nothing ever will be perfect. Joblessness is a problem. Our economy needs a lot of improvement. We don't have enough freedom to make our own choices. And violence -- while on a very long downward trend -- still takes too many lives and causes too much pain.

But we have more wealth than ever before. Less violence than ever before. Longer lives than ever before. More knowledge than ever before. And more freedom than we've had in any of our lifetimes.

Try to change what's bad ... but don't believe that things aren't great. They are. G+
When people are lying, I am not shy about saying so. Hillary lied, over and over, in many ways, about her e-mail server.

But Comey is right to not say that she lied. He is the FBI Director. For him to say she lied is to say that he has evidence that she knew, at the time she made these false statements, that they were false. He has no such evidence.

As private citizens we have the luxury of saying what we want. I try to make only very small leaps, and I think it is a very small one to say that Clinton lied here. But Comey, as the FBI Director, should not do that. He should stick to what the evidence demonstrates clearly of the case. G+
This is important: Comey said he didn't evaluate whether Clinton committed a crime under the statute. He only evaluated whether she committed a crime under one part of the statute, the part that requires intent. He said he did not evaluate whether she committed a crime under the "gross negligence" part of the statute.

So everyone who says she didn't commit a crime under this statute ... the FBI made no such claim. They didn't even consider whether she committed this crime. G+
Here's the question for people who think the FBI was right to not recommend an indictment for Hillary Clinton:

We know she mishandled classified information in storing it on her server, we just don't know that she intended to do so. The statute makes it a felony to do so with that intent, or to do so via gross negligence.

So, what would Clinton have had to do to reach the bar for "gross negligence"? If this wasn't gross negligence, it's hard to see what would be. So what does that bar actually look like? G+
FBI Director James Comey laid out a case that is nearly an airtight proof that Clinton committed a felony.

I don't see how he can conclude there's no case against Clinton. He said, "our investigation looked at whether there is evidence that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on [Clinton's] personal system in violation of a federal statute that makes it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities."

Comey concluded:
* information classified at the time (including "top secret" information) was improperly transmitted on Clinton's personal systems
* information classified at the time was improperly stored on Clinton's personal systems
* Clinton did mishandle classified information
* No clear evidence that Clinton "intended" to mishandle the information, but there is evidence Clinton was "extremely careless", including that the subject matter of e-mails she sent was clearly classified
* either "extremely careless" does not amount to "grossly negligent", or we don't care that it does (he never explains this at all, and therefore never makes the case that charges shouldn't be brought)

Comey said that past cases like this involved intent. But even if that is true, so what? The statute draws no distinction between intent and gross negligence.

The DOJ should ignore the FBI's recommendation to not prosecute, and should prosecute based on the clear evidence of gross negligence. G+
"What in the hell are you going to do with freedom?" -- Colonist to a slave, in The Patriot
I hear on the news that the mastermind of the Turkey terror attack is nicknamed "Ahkmed One-Arm."

Soon after, I turn on Punisher: War Zone, and Microchip says to Punisher: "You ever hear of jihadiblogger.com? I'm posing as a one-armed Wahabi warrior who took a crap in a cave next to Bin Laden. I think I can score you a couple of rocket launchers."

My brain conflates the two a little bit, and for a moment I think that "Ahkmed One-Arm" was a reference from earlier in the movie, instead of from the real news. G+
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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