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Feb 24, 2017

Voters Revolt as Governments Make Decisions For Them




The discontent in Western democracies is due to their becoming less and less democratic.  The problem is increasingly arbitrary decisions governments are making supposedly to take care of their people.  Progressives world-wide seem to believe that large segments of the population are too ignorant and stupid to make their own decisions.  This runs counter to John Locke’s basic principle that government requires the consent of the governed.
 
In the US, consent of the governed is the basic principle the country was built on.  John Locke first coined the phrase as part of his “Two Treatises on Government,” published in 1690 to justify replacing King James II of England with William and Mary in 1688.  So it’s important in Britain as well.  Consent of the governed is what allowed Parliament to legislate the Act of Settlement in 1701, which set the rule of Succession for the British Monarchy that’s still in force today.
 
Locke thought that government exists to preserve the life, liberty and property of each person it governs.  This phrase, edited to make it more user friendly, was used in the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  The chief purpose of government in Western democracies today is to regulate life, constrict liberty and redistribute property, usually without the consent of the governed.
 
Current US government practice is that almost all new laws that pass Congress are passed as shells, which are filled in later by regulatory agencies, executive orders and court rulings.  The problem with regulations, executive orders and court decisions is that none of the processes used to make these things is designed to get the consent of the governed.  Conversely, the voters can’t hold the regulatory agencies, executive departments and judges responsible for their actions.  In the US, regulatory boards are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, to fixed terms of office.  Judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for life terms.
 
While I’m not quite as clear about how things work in Europe, it appears to me that the European Union does business the same way.  Most of their important policies seem to be the result of regulatory agencies or court decisions.  Voters don’t get to hold the decision makers accountable.
 
Bypassing legislatures makes the flow of new regulations arbitrary and largely unpredictable.  What are, in effect, laws come out of murky processes in back rooms at regulatory agencies or government executive departments.  Then they are subject to review in the courts where the decisions are also hard to predict.  The process is like a ping pong match, and the ball bounces around with almost no attempt to gain the consent of the people who will bear the burden of the new rules.  The chaotic nature of regulatory processes inhibits long term private sector investment.  You’re not going to invest in something which takes 5 or 10 years to pay off if it could be regulated out of existence in 3 to 6 months.
 
In the US, we have an especially virulent form of this chaos called the “Living Constitution.”  Most people probably think that the Constitution is like a contract.  The meaning of a contract is fixed when the contract is signed.  So logically, the meaning of the Constitution or a Constitutional Amendment should be fixed at the time it’s ratified.  The “Living Constitution” doctrine says that the meaning of the Constitution changes over time, based on changing modern conditions.  This works out as an excuse to alter the Constitution in the Supreme Court by finding new meaning in the Constitution to suit progressive fashion.  In the past, Justices had to decide based on what the law or the Constitution said, whether they like it or not.  Now Justices can decide cases based on what they would like the law to be.
 
The president wields almost all of the power of the modern regulatory state in the US.  He or she issues executive orders, in effect controls all regulatory agencies and appoints all judges, including Supreme Court Justices.  The appointment of “Living Constitution” Justices was extremely important to the left.  Because of Antonin Scalia’s death and the age and ill health of 2 or 3 other Justices, whoever won 2016 was going to be decisive in deciding whether the “Living Constitution” doctrine prevailed or not.  The normal ways to change the Constitution require 3/4ths of the States to ratify an amendment.  Since Republicans control both legislative chambers in 32 states, that isn’t going to happen for progressives.  Their only shot at big changes was cheating with a “Living Constitution” in the Supreme Court.  That’s why Trump published a list of 21 judges he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court.  All of them were original meaning judges, not “Living Constitution” judges.  This list gave conservative Republicans, like me, the confidence to vote for Trump no matter how bad his manners were.  Voting for Hillary would have erased the Constitution by allowing it to be completely redefined.

 
President Obama was especially energetic in concentrating as much power as possible into the Oval Office.  Obama used his pen and phone without restraint in his second term to avoid having to deal with Republicans in Congress.  He created precedents that were safe only if Hillary Clinton succeeded him.  The Democrats went all in, betting that Hillary Clinton would win in 2016 and secure Obama’s legacy.
 
What happened was a Trump victory.  All of the pen and phone power Obama concentrated in the Oval Office will be used to undo the entire hope and change of the last 8 years.  Trump will make at least two Supreme Court appointments.  The Justices Trump appoints will be deciding cases for about 20 years.
 
This sudden disastrous outcome has completely unhinged the American left, and even some of the Republican establishment.  Instead of permanently remaking the country, the left lost everything to a loud mouthed reality TV star with a lower class accent and abrasive manners, who insults the press constantly with tweets at 3 AM.  The Us mainstream media dreams of ways to bring down Trump because they have no other way to fundamentally remake America the way they planned.  They have even gotten as far as speculating about a CIA mutiny or a military coup in the US.  The Pravda Press is in complete denial, looking for any way to roll the dice again for even a small chance to undo the damage..  The left's desperation measures the magnitude of their reversal.

Feb 14, 2017

The Internet is Killing the Mainstream Media

  • I think the train wreck of the 2016 election is the result of a shift in medium from broadcast TV to internet.  Other medium shifts in history were shifts from manuscripts to printing, from printing to broadcast radio and from broadcast radio to broadcast TV.  The shift to the internet from broadcast TV has removed all of the barriers to entry in news and commentary.  This website is an example of how anybody can be a pundit now.  The broadcast networks and, to a lesser extent, the big national daily newspapers, have lost their gate keeper oligopoly.   They used to be able to control what was "news" and what wasn't.  With the onset of the internet, circulation or broadcast audience no longer is fixed by location or logistics.   Your writing is available to anybody on the net, world wide.

    The reaction of the former gate keepers to their loss of power has been pretty poor.  It could be characterized as "more cowbell," from the Saturday Night Live Christopher Walken skit.  They have tried to bend the news even further than they used to, so they can prove to themselves that they still have the power, and so that they can push political outcomes in the direction they prefer.  It didn't work in 2016.

    After the election, when their scam was known to have failed, the TV networks and big daily newspapers started talking about the unreliability of "fake news" in order to reclaim some of their lost market share and lost political influence.  It backfired when they all started reporting on a dossier that contained demonstrably false "facts."  My favorite was that the dossier said Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, had met Russian agents in Prague.  That fell apart when Michael Cohen showed he had never been to Prague in his life.

    The traditional mainstream media, or what I call the Pravda Press, is struggling with a loss of influence and a failing business model at the same time.  I think the two are interrelated.  There's only one network, FOX and only one national daily newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, that take a more or less Republican editorial position on news.  Everyone else is competing for the progressive half of the country.  It's really crowded on the left, and there just aren't enough chairs over there when the music stops for all of the Pravda Press to take a seat.

    The internet is providing free news on demand.  The expense of offering an internet news article or editorial is very low.  Services like Al Monitor that use local people to report foreign news are beating out competitors that have to pay for foreign news bureaus or traveling reporters.  Competition from low overhead internet sites is killing the high overhead broadcast TV and radio networks and the national daily newspapers.  Their behavior is likely to get more erratic as their death throes continue.

9th Circut Says They Need Proof of Terrorism



The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided not to take any judicial notice of terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The court insists that these nations must be presumed to have no terrorists until the Trump administration proves otherwise. I believe this presumption of innocence for countries is a judicial first, but it makes sense for the most liberal appeals court in the US. The lack of proof of terrorist activity in these 7 countries is the basis of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the injunction against Trump's immigration ban.  Like the Red Queen in "Through the Looking Glass," sentence first, trial afterwards. They decided on the outcome, then worked backwards to find a justification. Permit me to demoralize these judges by saying that ignoring terrorist presence in these countries destroys their credibility and authority. You really need blinders to come to this conclusion. I would call it a willful suspension of reality.



The facts of the case are that Trump banned entry for citizens of 7 countries.  The countries are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.  The countries are not named in the executive order itself.  Instead they are incorporated in the order by reference to a law, "countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12)."  These nations were all singled out as exceptional security risks in the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015 and its 2016 extension.   The list came from President Obama's Homeland Security Department.  The order applied to all citizens of these countries.  It did not mention religion. 




The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction by saying that the Trump Administration had not presented any evidence that these counties had terrorists in them.  Given that the list of countries was taken from two laws passed by Congress, there should not have been any requirement to prove to the 9th Circuit that these countries harbor dangerous terrorists.  Congress and the President have both made that finding.  The original judge that issued the injunction did not present any legal reasoning at all to justify his decision in his 7 page opinion.



The law, the Immigration Act of 1924, as amended in 1952, says, "Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."



As far as religion being a qualification for entry, it has been used that way in the past.  It's part of having a well founded fear of persecution.  I know a lot of former Soviet Jews who were granted visas to the US because of their religion, which made it hard for them to live in the Soviet Union.  Nobody thought that was unlawful discrimination. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted in November 1989, lowered the burden of proof of persecution for Soviet Jews, Evangelical Christians, and members of the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church to obtain refugee status to the United States.6 These groups would have "strong likelihood of qualifying for admission to the United States as refugees because their groups have a history of persecution." It required immigration officers to consider whether "historical circumstances" might give refugees a "credible basis for concern," rather than the "well-founded fear" they had been required to prove. Some believed the amendment made every Soviet Jewish emigre a potential refugee.






The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has found that foreigners, who have never ever been to the US, have a right to enter, which the President of the US can't take away even though he is authorized by law to do so when he believes they may be a threat to national security.


Perhaps any federal judge in a lower court who has been reversed on three cases (3 strikes) in the final case outcome, whether in the Appellate Courts or the Supreme Court, should be subject to removal by a majority of both Houses of Congress.  This would take a Convention of the States, but it would be a way to check judges who repeatedly ruled on what they would like the law to be, rather than what the law is. I think if the rule were in place today, the 9th Circuit would have very different judges.