Author Archives: Jay Currie

SCOTUS is filled with lawyers, who knew?

After the absurdities of the lower divisions of the Federal Courts inventing new and better ways to ignore the law to thwart Trump, the Supreme Court rightly went back to, er, the law and the Constitution.

The merits of the case will be argued in the Fall but today’s decision suggests that the Justices take an expansive view of the President’s powers to make Executive Orders for national security purposes and a very dim view of claims to First Amendment protection advanced on behalf of unidentified foreign nationals.

The Court was, correctly in my view, silent on the question of what legal weight to give Trump’s campaign statements or tweets. I would hate to be the lawyer who has to argue before the SCOTUS that they need to be taken as determining the basis upon which the law and the Constitution should be applied.

Score another win for Trump and, hey, the rule of law.

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Corbyn = Trump

jeremy-corbynDonald-Trump

As I write the British election is in the balance. What can be said pretty conclusively is that this election is not at all going as expected. Corbyn and Labour were supposed to lose. Bigly.

But they are not losing, er, right now they are winning. By 17 seats and 6% of the popular vote. Still early but this was not supposed to happen. The polling suggested a Conservative majority. The British MSM were pretty much either pro-Tory or deeply skeptical of Corbyn. But he’s winning.

Why? I suspect for many of the same reasons Trump won. Because people are fed up with business as usual. They don’t want to elect someone who will continue on in the same way. They want to shake up “the system”. In America the way to do that was to vote Trump and leave the “most qualified candidate in history” sitting in the weeds.

In the UK that same sentiment recognized that whatever else Corbyn is he is not “business as usual”. Exactly the opposite.

In the US the election of Trump horrified the political establishment and, as we saw in Comey’s testimony today, that establishment feels entitled to fight back. Comey felt entirely justified leaking his conversations with the United States President. In fact, he was willing to testify that he leaked them to forward the idea of the appointment of a special counsel to look into the nefarious Mr. Trump.

Corbyn’s people and Trump’s basket of deplorables are rather obviously different. The indications are that Corbyn had a very successful night with the young people: promising to end university tuition will do that for a man. Trump had virtually no support in colleges except for the boys who liked taunting SJWs with MAGA hats. No SJW voted for Trump except by mistake, every SJW in the UK – including many former Green supporters – lined up behind Corbyn. We’ll have to see how the rest of the tabs went but the argument that each man came from a radically, and oppositely, polarized base is likely to win out. People who like Corbyn really like him and he’s hated in the same measure. Rather like Trump.

If, by some chance, Corbyn wins we will see much the same sort of reaction from the British political establishment. Including the Parliamentary caucus of the Labour Party. He is not supposed to win and getting rid of him will become Job #1 for Westminster and Whitehall. The Blairites and the permanent secretaries will be on the job.

Like Trump, Corbyn has shown a rhinoceros hide to his detractors. He has survived the non-confidence of virtually his entire Parliamentary wing. He has the support of the militant left of the Labour Party and, so far as he seems to be concerned, that is more than enough.

[As I wrote this May closed within 15 seats and 1.5% of the popular vote…I’ll post this as a hostage to fortune because I think the same anger with the establishment which propelled Trump and Brexit is turning this election on its head.)

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Political Junkie 2fer

I’ll write a bit about Comey below but, realistically, the only major stories seem to me to be a) that Comey leaked to the NYT, b) that Loretta Lynch directly interfered in an ongoing FBI investigation for political purposes. The Russia Trump collusion story is dead and the “hope” = order view of obstruction of justice is on life support and failing fast.

Meanwhile, the exits from the UK from Order-Order.com (the comments range from hilarious to hysterical.)

Tories – 314 (-17)

Labour – 266 (+34)

SNP – 34 (-22)

Lib Dems 14 (+6)

Plaid – 3

Green – 1

UKIP – 0

If those hold May does not have a majority. A Lab/SNP/Lib Dem coalition could govern with periodic support from the tiny parties.

Early days but this was not what the polls or the betting markets were predicting.

Update: I suspect this is going to be a long night for the Brits. Having an eight hour time advantage means I can go to bed knowing who won. If any one won.

Imagine the joy of these words: Prime Minister Corbyn…Oh shit.

Meanwhile the pound is down against the dollar and euro but not by a lot, a couple of cents.

Update #2: About the only thing obvious in the UK election is that UKIP appears to be collapsing. Which makes a lot of sense with Brexit in train. It will be a while before any other trend will be detected.

Thinking about Comey I get the sense that Trump, while not out of the woods, had a good day. While Comey called him a liar a few times – mainly about opinions rather than facts – he also said that he did indeed tell Trump he was not the subject of an investigation three times.

For the anti-Trumpists the collapse of the “Russians and Trump collaborated to defeat the sainted Hilly” story is going to be sad. They will keep hope alive with the “Trump fired Comey because Comey would not back off Flynn” story alive for a while but that is pretty thin gruel for an impeachment story, especially as Trump apparently encouraged Comey to look into the activities of his “satellites”.

Politically the loonier Democrats will try to keep the story and the investigations alive; but the danger to the Democrats lies in the fact those investigations are slowly turning to the behaviour of the Obama White House. Unmasking for political purposes is an actual, serious, crime. Telling the Director of the FBI to refer to the “Clinton matter” rather than the “Clinton investigation” is not obstruction in itself, but it illustrates how far Lynch was prepared to go to protect Hilly. I suspect even the loonier wing of the Congressional Democrats will be happy to let the entire thing die when summer recess rolls around.

Update #3: Time for a G&T. The constituencies reporting are all pretty safe Labour or Tory enclaves and 22 to 10 is not unexpected given the seats reporting. The collapse of the UKIP vote puts a lot of Northern and Midlands Leave ridings into play. right now it looks like Labour has a slight edge in picking up that vote. We’ll see.

I have to bet that absent a majority May is gone in a week. But the really interesting question is whether Corbyn will be able to hold on given that the Parliamentary Labour Party thinks he’s a loonie.

Update #4: Again, it is fairly early but Labour seems to be holding a 4-5% margin in the popular vote. Over at Guido’s the comments are even nastier than usual about May’s failings. Apparently, she simply did not connect with the British electorate. Which I can believe given how Boris Johnston was trotted out in the dying days of the campaign having been under wraps for the first month and a half. Now it could all switch over in the next couple of hours; but this election was called when May had a 20-25% advantage in the polls. It is a rare politician who can turn that sort of a lead into a squeaker. And it is not as if Corbyn suddenly became any saner. Nope, if the Conservatives lose or lose their majority Mrs. May needs to be gone by the weekend.

Update #5: Votes are coming in from the South and while Labour holds a 15 seat edge its lead in the popular vote has dropped to 2%.  In other news, odds on Boris Johnston becoming leader of the Tory party which had been 60:1 this morning are now at 5:1. Still 400 seats to go and a lot of those are in the south and the rural bits of England. But now Labout is 20 seats ahead.

Update #6: 492 seats declared. Lab 218, Cons 219, popular vote tied.  This is going to take a while. What is evident though is that Labour is picking up seats and May isn’t. (Although there are Tories in Scotland for the first time in years.) Regardless of how the night turns out I can’t imagine May retaining the leadership.

Update #7: 303 for the Conservatives, 42 to 40 in the popular vote. Does not look as though May will get a majority. She says she’ll stay.

The night was very reminiscent of Brexit where it took several hours for the Leave vote to roll in. The home counties came through. But what Parliament looks like when the dust clears is complicated. Annoyingly, the Lib Dems increased their seat count, though the awful Nick Clegg managed to lose to my great delight. This may have been a “change” election in disguise.

Corbyn looks safer in his seat than May does in hers. He ran his campaign his way and picked up 28 seats. He will have a rather good argument to take back to his caucus. He increased Labour’s share of the popular vote by 9%. The Parliamentary party may not like him but I can’t see him going anywhere soon.

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Minimum Damage

In the cold aftermath of a terror attack, it is very easy to want to round up all the Muslims and….

And there is the crunch. Send them back? Not really a viable option. There are several million Muslims in the UK most of whom are entirely blameless, many of whom were born in the UK. “Sending them back” is not any sort of solution. Nor is “rounding them up”. What would you do with millions of pretty ordinary, non-terrorists?

We were chatting about this over dinner. Rather than impossible and extreme solutions, what can the Brits actually do? And, because I run a political philosophy/legal/political science seminar most nights over dinner (my sainted Susan is owed far more than I can ever repay), how can they do it with minimal destruction of civil rights?

At this point, the security services in the UK have a list of around 23,000 people who are “at risk” of terrorism and another list of 3000 people who are suspected of terrorist activity. Inclusion on either list is, I suspect, a fairly hit and miss enterprise. There are, of course, no-fly lists as well. What might a determined government do with this sort of information?

At the outer range of what could be done, every person on the longer list could be detained, questioned and sorted. It would be a massive operation and a massive invasion of the civil rights of the people on the list. 22 dead children and 7 dead Londoners might be enough to trigger the roundup. I don’t know.

What I do know is that such an intervention could accomplish a number of useful things. First off it would likely reduce the size of the list. People wrongfully on the list would, after some fairly light questioning, be removed. It would also give the authorities the opportunity to get the fingerprints, biometric data, internet usage patterns, associates and such like of people already identified as potentially dangerous.

I suspect, after an initial vetting, most of the people on “the list” would be removed from the list and sent on their way. The people who are left would be subject to further, more detailed interrogation and, again, the majority would be deemed not to pose a threat and be sent on their way.

Now for the rest. The Katie Hopkins faction wants to see internment. I don’t. I think internment of people who are legally presumed innocent is wrong and an unacceptable violation of civil rights. But we do not have to intern people to keep an eye on them.

The security services in the UK are stretched to the breaking point. It takes 20 people to keep one guy under 24-hour surveillance.

A reasonable alternative is to seek Court orders for tracking ankle bracelets for the people identified as most likely to be actual terrorists. This might require legislation but it is minimally invasive and avoids the horrors of mass internment. (It would also, in all likelihood, be a treasure trove of useful information. Who sees who when and where.)

Between ankle bracelets and a thorough search of the suspected terrorist’s computers and mobile devices, the security services could gain a picture of what the tiny minority of terrorist Muslims in the UK actually do.

Draconian? Somewhat. Though there could easily be constructed a means for the Court Orders to be challenged by way of bringing evidence of bona fides. The orders could run for a year or two and only be renewable upon application by the Crown.

It is not a perfect system but it would address the need for Britian to protect itself at a minimum cost in terms of civil rights. Compared to internment it is a measured and reasonable response. Compared to doing nothing? The body count may not be high enough for the doing nothing option to stop making sense; but that count is likely to continue going up and as it does the demands on the UK government to “do something” will become deafening.

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London

23817924-no-teddy-bear-sign-illustration And here we go again.

I keep thinking the light will go on and the great and the good will say, “Hey, we have a bit of a jihadi problem and, well, near as we can tell, most jihadis are Muslims so we may have a Muslim problem and, perhaps, we might take a look at actually doing something about that Muslim problem.” They might think about taking a break from Muslim immigration. And they might look at rounding up the 23,000 Muslims deemed to be radicalized and have a bit of a chat. And they might take a look at closing some of the mosques these radicalized people have been known to attend.

But, most of all, I keep hoping they ban teddy bears, tea lights and flowers.

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Clive James on the failure of the Global Warming story

This article has been mentioned all over the conservative and climate sceptic blogosphere. Most of the links had it behind a paywall, this link is open.

James makes the point that even with Trump walking away from Paris and the science becoming less alarming by the minute, the climate change scam will take a while to fade into well-deserved obscurity. Too many scientists, policy wonks, journalists and politicians have nailed their reputations to the eternal truths of CO2 driven global warming. Too many huge companies stand to make too much money from “solving” this non-problem with all manner of pointless, but gratifyingly expensive, solutions – wind, solar…biomass. Wonderfully corrupt Third World governments and their enablers at the UN are not about to jump off the guilt driven gravy train.

By walking away from Paris and the unicorn fart economics of the “Green Fund”, Trump has killed climate change hysteria and its funding stone dead; but like a headless chicken, there may be a few circuits of the barnyard left in the beast.

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The Turn

With the announcement that he was pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement President Trump did three things: he enraged the great and the good all over the world by refusing to play along with a largely useless agreement, he deeply satisfied his base who see the science and economics of climate change as highly suspect, and he drove the media/Hollywood complex into full meltdown.

Now Trump could not have anticipated Kathy Griffin’s vile “art” piece. Nor could he have anticipated Hillary coming up with yet more reasons why other people were responsible for her losing to the human Cheeto. Those were simply random bits of luck.

What Trump could do, and did, was to take advantage of the bully pulpit his Paris announcement gave him, to tote up the accomplishments of his administration to date. Gorsuch, increased economic activity, a steep reduction in the number of illegals trying to enter, rollbacks of all manner of regulations: it is a relatively decent list. Not great, but also not wildly incompetent.

Killing the Paris Agreement sets up the next wave of the Trump Presidency. In the next six months, Trump has a better than even chance of getting both tax reform and a repeal of ObamaCare through Congress. His immigration moratorium has been referred to the Supreme Court which is unlikely to make the same partisan mistakes as the lower courts have. Which means Trump will get his halts.

Internationally, after the Europeans have had their climate hissy fit – “no renegotiation” says Macron walking right into the not very subtle trap Trump set in his speech – their essential reliance on the US in defence matters and international diplomacy will tend to restrain them. (That and the fact that most of the European countries are beginning to realize that they cannot afford to meet the targets they set for themselves in the Paris Agreement.) China, Japan, India and the Sunni Arab world might not like Trump very much but they will appreciate his realist understanding of international politics. And they will understand his willingness to be blunt rather than prevaricating when it comes to international matters. (Have we seen the Syrian regime use chemical weapons since Trump’s cruise missiles hit?)

Assuming for the moment that the “covfefe” tweets and the internal intrigues of the White House can be dampened down, Trump seems to have gained control of the narrative. To a degree, it is a negative control, but acting decisively is always a good move for a President. The media continues the “Russians” bleat and that might be damaging if there is any substance to the charge of collusion. However, to date there does not seem to be any actual evidence of collusion and, as the final days of the Obama Administration come under scrutiny, the actual fact of wholesale “unmasking” of American citizens for political purposes seems to be attracting attention.  Demands for investigation and impeachment, while they continue, are gradually being pushed to the margins.

Above all things, Trump is a showman. He has a showman’s sense of timing and plot. The chaos and confusion of his first hundred days had to be turned around. The constant leaks needed to be plugged. Most of all, Trump understood that his role as President had to be affirmed. By killing the Paris Agreement – and the withdrawal of the US kills it dead – Trump made it very clear he is the President. Now he needs to start racking up the successes he laid the foundations for in the first few months of his Presidency. It should be something to watch.

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Trump and Paris

Should be starting now: Trump can either dump Paris and stick with serious science and economics or he can fudge. I am hoping he’ll dump but I expect a fudge.

Update: Either way Trump is keeping us waiting…12:09.  According to You-tube there are 51,418 people watching this stream. 12:20, 62k and change. Trump is keeping us on the edge of our seats.  !2:27…on a different feed Steve Bannon looks very happy.

Update #2: Pence let the cat out of the bag but what colour is the cat? LOL, Trump is trolling hard. You want to hear about Paris? You have to listen to the commercial messages about how great Trump’s administration has been. “Fair and reciprocal trade.”

Update #3: Keeping my campaign promises. The United States will withdraw!!!

Update #4: But we’ll renegotiate a new deal….getting out but start to negotiate.

So Trump is basically treating Paris as a trade deal that the US was screwed on. He is not going after the science. Just the trade and economics. Kills “Green Climate Fund”. Could cost 2.7 million lost jobs.

Update #5: Goes after the Green Fund. Points out the rest of the world is not contributing. Blames Obama for taking money from anti-terror for Green Fund. Says no one knows where the money is going. Points to US debt.

Update #6: Reassertion of America’s sovereignty.

Update the Last:  And he is done. If Trump accomplishes nothing other than the Gorsuch appointment and pulling out of Paris he will be a grand President.

At a guess, after the media has gone crazy, the effect of today’s announcement will be to collapse the crazier end of the Greenie cult. Other countries will walk away from the agreement. The science will be scruitinized. The 97% consensus lie will be exposed and, with luck, “climate change” will be looked at carefully, with a mind to the inherent uncertainties of the science and the cost/benefits of action in the face of those uncertainties.

A great day for America and the beginning of the end for the hysterical, expensive, group think which climate change has occasioned.

 

 

 

 

 

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Damn

I suppose the Conservative Party of Canada is where libertarian dreams go to die.

Scheer is respectable. Nothing wrong with him.

But he is not going to change much.

Too bad. Bernier would have actually represented an alternative to the endless middle of the roadedness of Canadian politics.

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Manchester

Blowing up teenaged girls and their parents is despicable. So are the predictable vigils, flowers, little stuffed bears, politicians vowing to stand together and all the other ritual manifestations of impotence we’ll see in the next few days.

At this point, the suicide bomber’s name is known, Salman Abedi.  Yes, he was a Muslim. It appears that the bomb was fairly sophisticated and there are suggestions it was made by someone who knew what they were doing. But we’ll have to wait on the outcome of the investigation to find out if Abedi acted alone.

After this sort of attack there is a natural tendency to look at what can be done to prevent further attacks. Hardening the perimeters of public spaces and such like. The Israelis pretty much defeated the waves of suicide bombings which plagued the country a couple of decades ago by creating and enforcing very strict security in every public space in the country. Certainly, something to be looked at in England and, sadly, in Canada.

Is there an argument for more aggressive policing in Muslim majority areas? Probably. And more surveillance and more human intelligence. But I would be surprised if this had much effect. There is already a lot of surveillance and intelligence gathering in these communities and terror plots are broken up regularly.

The political classes are keen to say that “This will not break us, we will not give into hate. Islam is a religion of Peace.” They utter these banalities because they have no other solutions. Decades ago the political class decided that Muslim immigrants and refugees were exactly the same as any other sort of immigrant or refugee and that, in a matter of a generation or two, would assimilate to English or German or French society. This has not turned out to be the case. No doubt some of the blame for that rests on the native populations’ failure to really welcome Muslim immigrants. But the bulk of the problem arises from the fact that as a matter of religious and cultural practice, Muslims tend to self-ghettoize.

So long as Muslim numbers are small there is very little choice for arriving Muslim immigrants but to work hard to join the mainstream societies they have arrived in. However, once Muslim numbers increase, parallel societies grow and assimilation becomes optional.

Non-assimilation does not automatically produce terrorism. And partial assimilation, Abedi was, apparently, a Manchester United fan, does not automatically prevent terrorism. The problem is that a relatively isolated community can contain and conceal a radical fringe and that fringe can produce terrorists.

There are no easy fixes for the errors made decades ago. Yes, it would make sense to avoid making the problem worse by letting in thousands of unvetted, military aged, male Muslims as “refugees”. And it would make sense for every European nation to regain complete control over any “no go” areas in its territory. (Which may be more than a little difficult but needs to be done quickly.)

Beyond that, programs to voluntarily repatriate recent Muslim arrivals could make sense for some countries. Setting a goal and a budget to entice Muslims to leave places where they may not feel welcome is a step in the right direction. Implementing a general rule that where an immigrant or refugee breaks the law in a relatively serious way, expulsion is automatic might also be effective.

None of those measures does much damage to a rights-based, liberal, society. Whether they would do much to reduce terror remains to be seen. However, if they do not then more intrusive measures are likely to be demanded. Shutting down mosques where there are indications of radicalization, aggressive searches where weapons or explosives are suspected, repatriation of immigrants and refugees who are unemployed after a fixed period are all things which might improve security but at the cost of some of the rights of the Muslim community.

None of this is going to happen quickly. It has taken years for the West’s Muslim problem to develop and it will take years to improve the situation. Mouthing the platitudes does essentially nothing; but it will take real political courage to admit the West, in particular Western Europe, has a Muslim problem and to suggest ways of fixing it.

I am not holding my breath.

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