The whole affair was a series of major fouls. The best outcome is a speedy acquittal.
Kimberley A. Strassel writes: The impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is coming down to one big question: Will Democrats, by crying wolf, drown out the more legitimate Republican cry of foul?
“Foul” has served as the GOP’s most powerful and honest argument from the first days of these impeachment maneuverings. Democrats broke every standard of due process, transparency and fairness in their House investigation, making a mockery of their constitutional duty.
They hid the identity of the original accuser, denying Republicans and the country the ability to judge his motives. They held secret depositions, barring more than three-quarters of House members, as well as the press and the American public. They called 18 witnesses, but blocked the president from calling any in his defense. The White House legal team was excluded from the proceedings—prohibited from cross-examining witnesses, denied the ability to introduce any evidence that spoke to the central question of the president’s focus on Ukrainian corruption.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff secretly obtained and published the communications records of the president’s private attorney, a member of Congress and a reporter. Democrats withdrew their court challenge to compel a key witness, depriving the White House of the ability to defend its executive-privilege claim in court. And the legitimacy of the first portion of the House inquiry—including numerous subpoenas—is in doubt, since it was conducted before the House voted to open it.
Democrats approved two articles of impeachment that failed to identify a crime. Senators are instead asked to render verdicts on a vague “abuse of power” claim and on a “obstruction of Congress” charge that is the result of the House’s own decision not to litigate its demand for testimony. Those articles were passed by a partisan vote with no serious expectation of conviction, simply to make a statement: “He is impeached forever,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this month. Read the rest of this entry »
At least 100 flights were canceled and subway service widely disrupted in Hong Kong on Monday as a pro-democracy movement called for a general strike.
Cathay Pacific and other domestic carriers such as Hong Kong Airlines were the most affected by the flight cancellations, public broadcaster RTHK said. Airport express train service was also suspended.
A citywide strike and demonstrations in seven districts in Hong Kong have been called for Monday afternoon. They follow a weekend of clashes with police on the streets. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S.—Democratic leaders consoled themselves from their failure to stop Brett Kavanaugh from assuming a seat on the Supreme Court Monday by reminding the nation that although they lost the SCOTUS seat, they were able to keep their dignity.
As liberal protesters banged on the doors of the Supreme Court and attempted to claw them open, Senate Democrats calmed their constituents by pointing out that they were able to be the bigger person in all this. Read the rest of this entry »
For the last 45 years, no writer has taken a bigger blowtorch to the sacred cows of American life than libertarian humorist P.J. O’Rourke.
As a writer at National Lampoon in the 1970s, he co-authored best-selling parodies of high school yearbooks and Sunday newspapers. For Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, and other publications, O’Rourke traveled to war zones and other disaster areas, chronicling the folly of military and economic intervention. In 1991, he came out with Parliament of Whores, which explained why politicians should be the last people to have any power. Subtitled “A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government,” this international bestseller probably minted more libertarians than any book since Free to Choose or Atlas Shrugged. More recently, O’Rourke published a critical history of his own Baby Boomer generation and How The Hell Did This Happen?, a richly reported account of Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 presidential victory.
O’Rourke’s new book, None of My Business, explains “why he’s not rich and neither are you.” It’s partly the result of hanging out with wealthy money managers and businessmen and what they’ve taught him over the years about creating meaning and value in an ever richer and crazier world. It covers everything from social media to learning how to drink in war zones to why the Chinese may be more American than U.S. citizens. He also explains why even though he doesn’t understand or like a lot of things about modern technology, he doesn’t fear Amazon or Google, especially compared to people who are calling for Socialism 2.0. Read the rest of this entry »
They need more evidence
… Reporters from The Daily Caller News Foundation asked students at George Washington University what they thought of the Supreme Court nominee, the allegations he’s facing and what they would tell him or his accuser.
Almost everyone said if Kavanaugh is guilty, he should not serve on the bench, “even if it was 35 years ago.” But most found it a difficult situation Read the rest of this entry »
The Mental State of M. Todd Henderson
by Elaine Ash
As the purge of conservative and libertarian pundits roils You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and anywhere speech is supposedly free, M. Todd Henderson and his political thriller Mental State fight an uphill battle to release in October.
In late 2015, I was hired as a freelance editor by Mr. Henderson, a law professor at the University of Chicago. His book, Mental State, is based on the real-life partially unsolved murder of Florida law professor Dan Markel. In the book, the murder is pinned on the wrong perp.
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How White House press briefings sound in Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ head… Follow on Instagram and Twitter: @badlipreading and Facebook
On Sunday, the Unite the Right II rally of white supremacists fizzled out. Antifa demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., who gathered to mark the anniversary of the first Unite the Right rally, threw eggs at Secret Service, were arrested for assaulting a man wearing a Make America Great Again hat, launched fireworks and smoke bombs at police and assaulted NBC reporter Cal Perry. Perry had his camera knocked out of his hands while the protester screamed profanities at him.
The story appears on various media sites, and several reporters tweeted about the attack, but the outrage was muted. Instead, nearly every outlet went out of their way to gently describe the Antifa mob. The headlines at CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post made sure to call the group “anti-hate protesters.”
After two years of constant self-applause, and furrowed-brow concern about President Trump sowing mistrust in the media as well as possibly instigating violence against its members, where is the outrage when a reporter is physically assaulted?
Had it been an alt-right member doing the attacking, is there any doubt the story would lead all news shows and make the front page of all the major newspapers?
Also on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio sat down with Brian Stelter at CNN to continue his crybaby “News Corp is mean to me so I wish they’d disappear” tour. Read the rest of this entry »
The West Coast is a growing target of foreign espionage. And it’s not ready to fight back.
Jack Shafer writes: Russian intelligence has had an intensive interest in San Francisco stretching back to the beginning of the Cold War. In those days, the Russians were primarily gathering information on local military installations, said former officials, including the Presidio, the strategically located former military base set on a wind-swept northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
Since then, Russian operations have become bolder, with one notable exception: the immediate post-Cold War period. “The only time there was a collective sigh regarding Russia, like maybe things have changed, was under Gorbachev,” said LaRae Quy, who worked on Russian and Chinese counterintelligence in the Bay Area from 1985 to 2002. “We even put in a big ‘Going Out Of Business’ sign in the Palo Alto squad room.”
But this optimism quickly faded when Putin was elected in 2000, recalled Quy, who retired in 2006. “Russia has been steadily escalating since then.”
As the Bay Area transformed itself into a tech hub, Russia adapted its efforts accordingly, with Russian spies increasingly focused on obtaining information on valuable, sensitive or potentially dual-use technologies—those with both civilian and military applications—being developed or financed by companies or venture-capital firms based in the region. Russia’s espionage activities have traditionally been centered on its San Francisco Consulate, which was forcibly closed by the Trump administration in early September 2017.
But even with the consulate shuttered, there are alternative vehicles for Russian intelligence-gathering in Silicon Valley. One potential mechanism, said three former intelligence officials, is Rusnano USA, the sole U.S. subsidiary of Rusnano, a Russian government-owned venture capital firm primarily focused on nanotechnology. Rusnano USA, which was founded in 2011, is located in Menlo Park, near Stanford University. Read the rest of this entry »
FBI agent Peter Strzok ‘escorted’ from FBI building, lawyer confirms
Peter Strzok, the FBI agent under fire over a series of anti-Trump text messages, was “escorted” from the FBI building, his lawyer confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday.
Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan Goelman, argued that even though his client has “played by the rules,” he has been targeted by “unfounded personal attacks, political games and inappropriate information leaks.”
“All of this seriously calls into question the impartiality of the disciplinary process, which now appears tainted by political influence,” a statement from Goelman said.
He said that Strzok “has complied with every FBI procedure, including being escorted from the building as part of the ongoing internal proceedings.” The attorney did not say exactly when Strzok was escorted out.
“Instead of publicly calling for a long-serving FBI agent to be summarily fired, politicians should allow the disciplinary process to play out free from political pressure,” Goelman said. “Our leaders and the public should be very concerned with how readily such influence has been allowed to undermine due process and the legal protections owed to someone who has served his country for so long. Pete Strzok and the American people deserve better.”
The FBI had no comment when contacted by Fox News.
News of Strzok’s removal came after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed during a Congressional hearing earlier Tuesday that his office was looking into whether Strzok’s anti-Trump bias played a role in the launch of the bureau’s Russia probe.
Horowitz’s report on the Clinton email investigation, which was released last week, revealed a text sent by Strzok to his then-colleague and lover Lisa Page. Read the rest of this entry »
D. O’Connor writes: A little over 40 years ago, Richard Nixon went from a landslide re-election winner to a president forced to resign in disgrace. Nixon’s downfall was the direct result of his unsuccessful attempts to politicize through patronage of an independent, straight-arrow FBI. The commonsense, ethical lesson from this for all government officials would be to avoid attempts to use our nation’s independent fact-finder as a partisan force.
There is as well, of course, a more perverse lesson to be learned from Nixon’s downfall at the hands of an independent FBI, to wit: there is much power to gain by politicizing the Bureau, but only if its upper-leadership team is all on partisan board. Emerging evidence increasingly suggests, sadly, that this was former FBI Director James Comey’s leadership strategy in our country’s most sensitive investigations.
In the years running up to the 1972 election, Deputy Associate FBI Director Mark Felt, serving under feisty bulldog J. Edgar Hoover, staunchly refused the entreaties of Nixon lieutenants to act politically, e.g., to whitewash an ITT/Republican bribery scheme and to lock up innocent war protestors. Felt, the natural successor to Hoover, fell out of White House favor as a result.
Following the death of Hoover in May 1972, Nixon appointed in place of Felt the decent but politically malleable L. Patrick Gray. When six weeks later five burglars were arrested in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, Nixon’s Justice Department tried to limit, through Gray, the scope of the FBI’s investigation. Unfortunately for Nixon, regular Bureau agents, led quietly but spectacularly by Felt, fought these attempts, with a far worse result for Nixon than if the Bureau had been left alone to do its job. Read the rest of this entry »
John Sexton writes: There’s a certain view of Ben Rhodes which arose in the aftermath of the Iran deal and specifically after the publication of that infamous NY Times profile in which Rhodes talked about creating an “echo chamber” of know-nothing journalists to push the deal. After that story, it was easy to see him as a kind of Machiavellian character manipulating people from behind the scenes.
There a good reason Rhodes does his best work behind the scenes. He’s just a really bad actor. I mean ‘bad actor’ in the theatrical sense, i.e. someone who is playing a part in our national story with such overwrought pathos that it becomes unintentionally funny …
“I came outside just to process all this,” Rhodes says to the camera. “I can’t even….ah…uh…I can’t…I mean I, I, I, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t put it into words, I don’t know what the words are.”
… Rhodes has a book coming out about his experience in the White House. The NY Times profile of it suggests Obama’s reaction to Hillary’s loss wasn’t much better:
Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory.
“What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.
He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
‘It’s Not Syping Spying, it’s Investigating Spying’.
The revelation, stemming from recent reports in which FBI sources admitted sending an agent to snoop on the Trump camp, heightens suspicions that the FBI was seeking to entrap Trump campaign aides. Papodopoulous has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.
“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” President Trump tweeted Saturday, calling for the FBI to release additional documents to Congress.
The Halper revelation also shows the Obama administration’s FBI began prying into the opposing party’s presidential nominee earlier than it previously admitted. Read the rest of this entry »
These members of the ‘government within the government,’ as The New York Times‘ John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight.
Veronique de Rugy writes: The tyranny of the administrative state is real and hard to tame. Americans would be horrified if they knew how much power thousands of unelected bureaucrats employed by federal agencies wield. These members of the “government within the government,” as The New York Times‘ John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight. These rules take many forms, and few even realize they’re in the making — until, that is, they hit you square in the face.
Take the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule that effectively banned car dealers from giving auto loan discounts to customers on the claim that they might lead to racial discrimination (a dubious conclusion reached using flawed statistical models). Dodd-Frank, the legislation that created the CFPB, prohibited it from regulating auto dealers — so the CFPB quietly put out a “guidance” document to circumvent due process and congressional oversight.
Thankfully, this time around, someone noticed. In recent weeks, the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act — a streamlined procedure for Congress to repeal regulations issued by various federal government agencies. The House is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president’s desk, if it hasn’t already by the time you read this. Read the rest of this entry »
About That FBI ‘Source’
Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.
House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”
This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.
The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign. Read the rest of this entry »
A Higher Priority: The Investigation of James Comey Raises Serious Questions Over His Leaking Of FBI MaterialPosted: April 24, 2018
Jonathan Turley writes:
… The release of the memos already contradicts critical aspects of Comey’s explanation for his leaking of the information. What is troubling is that many have worked mightily to avoid the clearly unprofessional aspects of Comey’s conduct. Comey could well be accurate in his account of Trump and justified in his concerns over Trump’s conduct but that does not excuse the actions that he has exhibited in both the leaking of the memos and the timing of his book. Comey’s best-selling book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, could prove tragically ironic if Comey showed a higher loyalty to himself in responding to his own firing rather than the investigation that he once headed. In the very least, there remains a serious question of Comey’s priorities in these matters.
Here is the column:
One day after the disclosure that the Justice Department inspector general has recommended criminal charges against former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, it has been confirmed that fired FBI director James Comey is under investigation by the same office for leaking information to the media. This disclosure followed the release of the Comey memos, which seriously undermined both Comey and his cadre of defenders. Four claims by Comey are now clearly refuted, and the memos reaffirm earlier allegations of serious misconduct.
James Comey was a leaker
For more than a year, various media experts have advanced dubious defenses for Comey, including the obvious problem that the man charged with investigating leaks became a leaker himself when as it suited him. Clearly, Comey removed the memos and did not allow for a predisclosure review of the material. Moreover, the memos were withheld by Comey’s surrogate, a Columbia University law professor, who reportedly read the information to the media.
If taking and disclosing memos were perfectly proper, why the surrogate and subterfuge? More importantly, Comey did not disclose the memos to Congress or hold copies for investigators. If Comey was not a leaker, then any fired FBI agent could do the same with nonpublic investigatory material. If the inspector general agreed with that position, then federal laws governing FBI material would become entirely discretionary and meaningless.
The memos were FBI material
Various media experts and journalists also defended Comey by portraying the memos as essentially diary entries. When I argued that the memos clearly were FBI material subject to limits on removal and disclosure, the response was disbelief. Legal expert and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa said that these constituted “personal recollections,” and CNN legal expert and Brookings Institution fellow Susan Hennessey wrote, “It’s hard to even understand the argument for how Jim Comey’s memory about his conversation with the president qualifies as a record, even if he jotted it down while in his office.”
The plain fact, then and now, is that it’s hard to understand that it would be anything other than a record under federal rules. These were memos prepared on an FBI computer, in the course of an FBI investigation. All FBI agents sign a statement affirming that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.” Read the rest of this entry »
Maureen Callahan writes: Nearly 50 years after Senator Ted Kennedy left a young woman to die in a shallow pond — and America went on to reward him with a lifelong career in the US Senate — we are finally beginning to reckon with the Kennedy myth.
But only just.
The new film “Chappaquiddick” is, to date, the most brutal and honest account of what happened that night. But it’s also something else: an indictment of our collective hero worship at the altar of Brand Kennedy, which bred so much corrosive entitlement that surviving brother Ted, the family beta male, went home to sleep it off after leaving a loyal young staffer to die alone.
“Chappaquiddick” is a much-needed counterweight to two current hagiographies: CNN’s docuseries “The Kennedys,” airing to high ratings on Sunday nights, and Netflix’s forthcoming documentary “Bobby Kennedy for President.”
JFK and RFK remain, of course, the family lodestars. But in 1969 Ted was next in line, and he had a lot of public sympathy.
His brother Robert had been assassinated while campaigning for president the year before. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Ted himself barely survived a plane crash in 1964, dragged to safety by Senator Birch Bayh (the irony) and hospitalized for five months. It was assumed, within the family and without, that Ted would run for president in 1972. He had three small children and, the July weekend he went partying in Chappaquiddick, a pregnant wife at home confined to bed rest.
As portrayed by Jason Clarke, the young senator is a venal, self-pitying coward, thoughtless and remorseless, ambition his only care. He treats loyalists and groupies with equal contempt, and as the weekend begins, he toasts them all for “wanting to prove yourselves worthy of . . . the Kennedy name.” Read the rest of this entry »
Amber Athey reports: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a simple solution for most of the problems presented to him by Congress: “more AI tools.”
Zuckerberg repeatedly stressed Facebook’s growing focus on artificial intelligence during his testimony Read the rest of this entry »
Well, that piece caused a healthy amount of speculation from readers on why Strzok and Page are still FBI’ing. Read the rest of this entry »
During Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before two Congressional committees, it was unclear whether the Facebook CEO knew the answer to ANYTHING. Don’t worry though, his ‘team’ will be sure to follow-up.
Williamson came to The Atlantic from the conservative National Review, and his hiring sparked an uproar on the left. After combing through over a decade of his writings, detractors found a tweet where he called for death, by hanging, for abortion. When Goldberg learned Williamson also had referenced the tweet on a podcast, he gave in.
Surely Williamson’s quip was mere hyperbole, meant to provoke. After all, he never wrote an actual column making that argument, despite having written extensively, including about abortion. And his first tweet simply argued that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.”
Only when he was asked what kind of punishment he had in mind did he tweet back: “hanging.” He was “absolutely willing to see abortion treated like regular homicide under the criminal code.”
You don’t have to agree with that; I don’t. But Williamson’s position (not all pro-lifers’) is that abortion is murder (literally, the killing of a baby), that it should be made illegal and carry a punishment equal to that of similar crimes.
Is this more radical than Ruth Marcus’ view in The Washington Post? “I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted,” she wrote about how she would have aborted her child if the baby was found to have had Down Syndrome. Her view is disgusting to conservatives, yet there was no move to get her fired. Read the rest of this entry »
‘When are you all gonna start standing up for the majority? … I’m the majority!’
Ryan Saavedra On Tuesday, while speaking during a city council meeting on curtailing gun violence, an African-American gun owner in North Carolina blasted government officials who want to restrict gun rights of law-abiding citizens.
“When are you all gonna start standing up for the majority? … I’m the majority! I’m a law-abiding citizen who’s never shot anybody,” Mark Robinson said. Read the rest of this entry »
The movie isn’t a hit piece, but the history it tells is infuriating.
Kyle Smith writes: Chappaquiddick must be counted one of the great untold stories in American political history: The average citizen may be vaguely aware of what happened but probably has little notion of just how contemptible was the behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy. Mainstream book publishers and Hollywood have mostly steered clear of the subject for 48 years.
“If Chappaquiddick had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career.”
Chappaquiddick the movie fills in an important gap, and if it had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career. (It was only a few weeks ago that a sitting senator resigned over far less disturbing behavior than Kennedy’s.) Yet this potent and penetrating film is not merely an attack piece. It’s more than fair to Kennedy in its hesitance to depict him as drunk on the night in question, and it also pictures him repeatedly diving into the pond on Chappaquiddick Island, trying to rescue his brother Bobby’s former aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). He may or may not have made such rescue attempts. Moreover, as directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), the film is suffused with lament that a man in Kennedy’s position could have been so much more than he was. Yet Ted, the last and least of four brothers, was shoved into a role for which he simply lacked the character. That the other three were dynamic leaders who died violently while he alone lived on to become the Senate’s Jabba the Hutt is perhaps the most dizzying chapter of the century-long Kennedy epic. Read the rest of this entry »
In the Weeds: Kehinde Wiley’s Obama Portrait
.As the United States clips along at the speed of Trump, the news cycle races by in a dizzying blur. Events rapidly recede without any time for real analysis. Such was the case for the big reveal of the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Although it just happened on February 12, it already feels like ancient history. Yet this regrettable image is going to be cluttering up the National Portrait Gallery forever, so it’s worth understanding just what the tax payers had to subsidize.
The Michelle Obama portrait is just sad. A tentative, pallid non-likeness. The apparatchiks at the museum assure us that it is so popular it had to be moved to a larger display space. Perhaps a pilgrimage to it gives the same solace that some progressives get from the plastic Obama…
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The Great Equalizer
Charles C. W. Cooke writes: In her harrowing 1892 treatise on the horrors of lynching in the post-bellum American South, the journalist, suffragist, and civil-rights champion Ida B. Wells established for her readers the value of bearing arms. “Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year,” Wells recorded, “the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves.” She went on to proffer some advice: “The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense. The lesson this teaches, and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”
“Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year, the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves.”
Conservatives are fond of employing foreign examples of the cruelty and terror that governments may inflict on a people that has been systematically deprived of its weaponry. Among them are the Third Reich’s exclusion of Jews from the ranks of the armed, Joseph Stalin’s anti-gun edicts of 1929, and the prohibitive firearms rules that the Communist party introduced into China between 1933 and 1949.
To varying degrees, these do help to make the case. And yet, ugly as all of these developments were, there is in fact no need for our augurs of oppression to roam so far afield for their illustrations of tyranny. Instead, they might look to their own history.
“The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense. The lesson this teaches, and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”
— Journalist, suffragist, and civil-rights champion Ida B. Wells
“Do you really think that it could happen here?” remains a favorite refrain of the modern gun-control movement. Alas, the answer should be a resounding “Yes.” For most of America’s story, an entire class of people was, as a matter of course, enslaved, beaten, lynched, subjected to the most egregious miscarriages of justice, and excluded either explicitly or practically from the body politic.
We prefer today to reserve the word “tyranny” for its original target, King George III, or to apply it to foreign despots. But what other characterization can be reasonably applied to the governments that, ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence, enacted and enforced the Fugitive Slave Act? How else can we see the men who crushed Reconstruction? How might we view the recalcitrant American South in the early 20th century? “It” did “happen here.” And “it” was achieved — in part, at least — because its victims were denied the very right to self-protection that during the Revolution had been recognized as the unalienable prerogative of “all men.”
Yes. https://t.co/RaMxteRZeU. The history of gun control until around 1970 (note carefully: I’m not saying now) was the history of racism.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) March 25, 2018
When, in 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney buttoned his Dred Scott v. Sandford opinion with the panicked warning that if free blacks were permitted to become American citizens they might begin “to keep and carry arms wherever they went,” he was signaling his support for a disgraceful status quo within which suppression of the right to bear arms was depressingly quotidian. Indeed, until the late 1970s, the history of American gun control was largely inextricable from the history of American racism. Long before Louisiana was a glint in Thomas Jefferson’s eye, the French “Black Codes” mandated that any black person found with a “potential weapon” be not only deprived of that weapon but also beaten for his audacity.
British colonies, both slaveholding and free, tended to restrict gun ownership to whites, with even the settlements at Massachusetts and Plymouth prohibiting Indians from purchasing or owning firearms. Throughout the South, blacks were denied weapons. The intention of these rules was clear: to remove the means by which undesirables might rebel or resist, and to ensure that the majority maintained its prerogatives. In 1834, alarmed by Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia, Tennessee amended its state constitution to make this purpose unambiguous, clarifying that the “right to keep and to bear arms” applied not to “the freemen of this State” — as the 1794 version of the document had allowed — but to “the free white men of this State.”
In much of America, this principle would hold for another century, emancipation notwithstanding. As Adam Winkler of UCLA’s law school has noted, a movement comprising the Ku Klux Klan and those Democrats who sought to thwart the gains of the Civil War “began with gun control at the very top of its agenda.” Read the rest of this entry »