Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Palpable, Existential Danger Among Us

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process has exposed the Democrats for the threat to the American constitutional republic they are.
On Monday, Brett Kavanaugh, the distinguished federal appeals court judge nominated by President Trump to fill the open Supreme Court judgeship the confirmation of which has become perhaps the ugliest, most nakedly political horror show in American history, went with his wife to an interview with Fox News’ Martha McCallum.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh had said following a weekend in which one allegation against him, that he sexually assaulted a woman named Christine Blasey Ford, fell apart when all four of the witnesses she named to corroborate her accusations rebutted her claim. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats against my family will not drive me out. The character assassination will not succeed.”

Kavanaugh was right, at least he should have been. But when the Ford allegations died, up came a New Yorker piece outlining another fish story, in which a woman named Deborah Ramirez alleged that Kavanaugh, as a freshman at Yale, had dropped his pants and displayed his 19-year-old manhood to her during a drunken debauch of a drinking party at the school’s dormitory. The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer offered the story almost apologetically; after the requisite clickbait headlines and lede, it spent the second half of its text largely admitting Ramirez’ story lacked any corroboration to speak of and even went so far as to recognize that Ramirez herself wasn’t sure Kavanaugh was the expositionist in question.

And no sooner did the Ramirez gambit meet with a tepid response even from the partisan Democrat legacy media than the “creepy porn lawyer” Michael Avenatti resurfaced. No sooner than his 15 minutes of fame coming from his rather chaotic and not-quite-dignified performance as Stormy Daniels’ ineffective legal counsel were mercifully over, Avenatti conjured himself back into the headlines with a new client who now alleges Kavanaugh was a gang-rape specialist in his youth.

Bear in mind this is a distinguished jurist who had endured no less than SIX background investigations by the FBI which uncovered none of these scurrilous allegations; if there was a pattern of sexual misbehavior by Brett Kavanaugh our premier investigative agency would surely have uncovered it. No red flags turned up — not until a bunch of partisan Democrat political operatives desperate to prevent a doctrinaire constitutionalist judge from taking Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote seat on the Supreme Court decided to pull out all the stops in pursuit of that agenda. In the face of these merciless smears Kavanaugh is forced to confess the kind of sexual truths which, in our current society, are socially disqualifying more than just embarrassing, just to discredit a characterization as a sexual predator concocted purely out of partisan political avarice.

What these people have done to Kavanaugh isn’t the usual Washington political antics — and that says much. After all, it’s still very much in the national memory what Democrats in the Senate tried to do to Clarence Thomas, and what they did to Robert Bork. In the case of Bork the Democrats, led by the serial sexual abuser Ted Kennedy, whose drunken extramarital antics included an actual body count, focused on Bork’s recognized opposition to infanticide as a primary justification for defeating his nomination — and had the numbers to do so. Lacking such numbers a few years later, the Democrats went deeper on Thomas, finding a middling university professor named Anita Hill who had worked with the judge in the federal bureaucracy to spin yarns about his supposed ribald behavior in the workplace. Thomas’s response was forceful and convincing, enough to put him on the Court and banish the Anita Hill imbroglio to partisan quarters of discussion for the next 25 years.

Which is what Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview was aimed at doing. But in the interview Kavanaugh lacked the fire of Thomas, who scalded his tormentors for the “high-tech lynching of uppity blacks” they had planned. Instead, he refuted the allegations of his sexual misdeeds by claiming he spent his high school and early college years as a virgin, a contention which was by turns believable, and tragic.

I don’t want to know Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual history. And if you do, there is something egregiously wrong with you. It’s quite obvious Kavanaugh himself is no more comfortable with the discussion of that information than any of us are, but he’s forced to bear his soul to achieve the pinnacle of his life’s work.

And this is disgusting on a scale we may never have experienced in modern American history — for which one side in our politics is responsible.

What consequences do we impose on the Democrat Party for stooping to this level? Let’s understand that this isn’t just about Brett Kavanaugh — though if it’s restricted to him the events of the past week are destructive and outrageous enough. Who will consent to running for office now? Who will stand for a federal appointment confirmable by the Senate?

Who will be willing to crawl through the mile of rancid sewer-pipe that is the American political process just to achieve a government job?

The answer is the one the Democrats want it to be. Namely, that no conservative will tolerate what Kavanaugh is fighting through. In the future, as National Review’s Andrew McCarthy said, our options will be restricted to polite progressives or the Democrats’ pet RINO’s, if not the hard-core socialists and cultural Marxists the Left would like to impose on us. There is a stark choice — either to go gently into this good night of American dissolution, or fight. Hard. Now.

And this is where this fall’s midterm elections come in.

Here is my interpretation of what’s happening, and my expectation of what’s coming in the next few days — this entire Kavanaugh business comes down to two numbers: 11 and 51.

It takes 11 members of the 21-member Senate Judiciary Committee to move the Kavanaugh nomination to the Senate floor, and there are 11 Republicans on the committee. Only one of those 11 — Arizona’s Jeff Flake, who has embraced the NeverTrump conceit as his personal approval ratings have descended to hellish levels — appears to be problematic for Kavanaugh’s nomination. And only three Republicans on the Senate floor are questionable Kavanaugh votes.

But Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley has to insure he has Flake’s vote before he can move forward, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has to insure he has the Flakes, Susan Collinses, and Lisa Murkowskis before he can hold a floor vote. It’s not yet time to declare the Republican establishment weak and ineffectual on the Kavanaugh confirmation; this isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be.

However, time is running out — and this is the Republicans’ Super Bowl. They sold their voters the idea that if we gave them the House, Senate, and White House, things would finally be made right from the frightening abuses of the Obama years, and we delivered. Republican voters tolerated the poor performances of Senators like Bob Corker, John McCain, Collins, and Murkowski on the assurance that where it came to judicial appointments they would be a marked positive difference from the Democrat alternatives, and in Trump’s case we were told that whether his history was that of a conservative or not, he’d clearly present America with better judges than Hillary Clinton would.

Well, so far Trump, who couldn’t run on what a demonstrated conservative he is, has been immaculate in nominating conservatives to the federal bench. And if the Republican Senate, populated by a gaggle of swamp creatures who for decades have feasted at the expense and adulation of Republican and conservative organizations, can’t confirm Kavanaugh, well…

Let’s remember that Kavanaugh, as sterling as his reputation as a jurist might be, is the very epitome of an establishment Republican. In fact, we can say that he might be the single most salutary example of an establishment Republican in Washington — someone who, on balance, Trump conservatives can appreciate alongside the old Bush guard, and even the more sober-minded liberal (note, liberal, rather than progressive, because increasingly there’s a difference which can’t be ignored) Democrats can concede is qualified for the Supreme Court. If the GOP establishment can’t see Kavanaugh’s nomination as a hill to die on, then may everlasting shame — and electoral apocalypse — fall upon their heads.

It won’t come to that, because it can’t. This week will see Kavanaugh dragged through the Senate into the Supreme Court, whether his dignity survives intact or no. And when it happens, it will be gut-check time for the Republican voter base six weeks from the 2018 midterm elections.

It’s been said, and of course it’s true, that should Kavanaugh’s nomination fail there is zero justification for Republican voters to bother showing up to head off the much-ballyhooed “blue wave” the media is so hard at work trying to gin up in November. Those voters put Trump in the White House as a signal that the corrupt Hillary Clinton-led Washington in-crowd was unacceptable, and if the soft coup signaled by the Mueller investigation hasn’t been enough to infuriate them into reprising their 2016 efforts the Kavanaugh confirmation process should certainly do the job.

Because what the current circus — complete with Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife being assaulted in a Washington restaurant over the Kavanaugh nomination — shows is that today’s Democrats will stop at nothing to achieve political power. There is no limiting principle to those people, just as there was no limiting principle to the Left’s aims in Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, or Grenada. If Kavanaugh isn’t a wake-up call dictating to America that they must be rebuked at the ballot box, we don’t want to see the next iteration and what might be necessary to preserve our society against the threat it presents.

That might not even be an electoral question. It might be something we do not wish to contemplate. It’s clear, by the actions of the other side, that they’re more than willing to transcend normal politics to have power over us — and that means every single one of our votes must be counted in November.



Philadelphia Will Dismantle Its Asset Forfeiture Program and Pay $3 Million to Victims

Four years after Philadelphia police seized the home of Markela and Chris Sourovelis for a minor drug crime committed by their son, the city has agreed to almost completely dismantle its controversial civil asset forfeiture program and pay $3 million to its victims.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, announced today that the city had agreed to a settlement in a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit challenging its forfeiture program.

"For too long, Philadelphia treated its citizens like ATMs, ensnaring thousands of people in a system designed to strip people of their property and their rights," Darpana Sheth, a senior attorney at the institute, said in a press release. "No more. Today's groundbreaking agreement will end years of abuse and create a fund to compensate innocent owners."

The Institute for Justice filed the suit in 2014 on behalf of the Sourovelises, a couple whose house was seized without warning after their son was caught selling $40 worth of drugs outside. The same day the Sourovelises dropped their son off for court-ordered rehab treatment, they returned to find police had locked them out of their own home, even though there was no evidence they were aware of the drug activity.

The lawsuit alleged that the city was seizing 300 to 500 homes a year, violating residents' constitutional rights and creating an illegal profit incentive, since forfeiture revenue directly funds police and district attorney budgets.

Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property—cash, cars, and even houses—suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is not charged with a crime.

Law enforcement groups say such laws are a vital tool because they let them disrupt organized crime by cutting off the flow of illicit proceeds. Civil liberties groups reply that the practice has far too little due process for innocent property owners and far too many perverse profit incentives for the police. Those incentives often lead law enforcement to target everyday people rather than cartel bosses.

As I wrote in 2014, reporting on the daily happenings inside Philadelphia's asset forfeiture court:

Philadelphia hauled in $64 million in seized property over the last decade, according to an investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer. That's more than Brooklyn and Los Angeles combined. Not only does Philadelphia take in more than other cities, but the average seizure is significantly more petty. A City Paper review of 100 cases from 2011 and 2012 found the median amount of cash seized by the District Attorney was only $178.

A 2015 report by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that almost a third of cash forfeiture cases in Philadelphia involved money owned by people who had not been found guilty of a crime. In one of the worst examples, police seized $2,000 from an 87-year-old pensioner after finding two joints (her husband, a retired dock worker, smoked marijuana to relieve his chronic arthritis) in their apartment.

Residents caught in the asset forfeiture machine had to repeatedly appear for hearings in Room 478, a small "courtroom" in the upper floors of Philadelphia City Hall. The hearings were run by prosecutors. No judge was present, and defendants were not afforded court-appointed lawyers. If a defendant missed a hearing, their property could be summarily taken.

Philadelphia dropped its forfeiture case against the Sourevelises after their plight drew national media attention, but last year a federal judge allowed the Institute for Justice's suit to proceed as a class action. The city also put stricter rules into place for when houses could be seized and voluntarily stopped using forfeiture funds to pay the salary of police and prosecutors.

Under the terms of the settlement, codified in two binding consent decrees, Philadelphia will no longer seek property forfeitures for simple drug possession and will stop seizing petty amounts of cash without accompanying arrests or evidence in a criminal case. It will also put judges in charge of forfeiture hearings, will streamline the hearing process, and will ban the Philadelphia district attorney and Philadelphia Police Department from using forfeiture revenue to fund their payroll.

The city will disburse the $3 million settlement fund to qualifying members of the class action based on the circumstances of their case. A Philadelphia resident whose property was forfeited but was never convicted of a related crime, for example, will receive 100 percent of the value of the property.

Last June, the Pennsylvania legislature passed modest reforms of state asset forfeiture laws. The reforms increased the reporting requirements for asset forfeiture, raised the burden of proof necessary to seize property, and codified Philadelphia's new procedures for seizing homes into law. More than half of all U.S. states have passed some form of asset forfeiture reform in recent years, and in July a federal judge declared Albuquerque's asset forfeiture program unconstitutional.

"I'm glad that there is finally a measure of justice for people like me who did nothing wrong but still found themselves fighting to keep what was rightly theirs," Chris Sourovelis said in a press release. "No one in Philadelphia should ever have to go through the nightmare my family faced."



The key point in Trump's U.N. speech

The actual point of his speech was encapsulated in his use of one key word — “globalism”.

The term “globalist” can be traced back to the 1940s, but has gradually seeped back into the public discourse over the last couple of years.

It was a favourite of the alt-right — Steve Bannon, for example, is a big fan — and is now apparently part of the president’s vocabulary.

“America will always choose independence and co-operation over global governance, control and domination,” he said.

“We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism. And we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.”

In his 2016 inauguration speech, Mr Trump famously declared his foreign policy would put “America first”. He doubled down on that message in front of the General Assembly.

“The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid. But few give anything to us,” he said.

“We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart.

“Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. And we expect other countries to pay their fair share.”

The United Nations is full of people who believe in countries working together for the common good. Mr Trump thinks each country is better off focusing on itself.

That’s a perfectly reasonable and coherent worldview, but it marks a radical departure from the words of other American presidents, who generally embraced America’s responsibility, as the world’s richest and most powerful nation, to lift up its neighbours.

Mr Obama’s collegial approach to foreign policy failed miserably when Syria descended into a horrifying civil war on his watch. And we all know what Mr Bush’s enthusiasm for international intervention led to.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: