You Want To Give The FBI The Right To Kill You AND Crack Your iPhone?

When I was growing up, the FBI was personified by Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and the Highway Patrol by Broderick Crawford.

The G Men and the State Troopers were there to keep us safe from bank robbers and people who would commit carnage on our nation’s highways.

And no little boy in the 50s and 60s would ever think anything different.

We trusted them, and we believed they were the good guys because, for the most part, they were.

They have lost that luster in many cases, and much of what has happened is reflected in the FBI’s ongoing attempt to force Apple to write an entirely new piece of software to hack one of its iPhones, ostensibly to “help” them in the investigation of a now dead terrorist.

It all gets down to who you trust, and frankly, it is an interesting juxtaposition to see Donald Trump complaining about Apple’s actions in this case when his candidacy has been boosted and supported by many of the people who no longer trust the Federal Government to do the right thing. And, as smart as I believe Trump is, he’s being badly misinformed in this case.

Back when I was growing up, it took some research if you wanted to commit a federal crime. There were maybe a few thousand violations of the law which would possibly qualify for the FBI’s attention. Robbing a federally insured bank was a mainstay. So was kidnapping across state lines.

Today, because some clown in Congress is always crying, “There ought to be a law!” there are nearly 5,000 acts for which the FBI can investigate and arrest you. If you mistakenly import wood from a country on Barack Obama’s list, as did the Gibson Guitar Company, you can be a target as they were.

So, before we get all high and mighty about Apple’s “duty” to assist the FBI, let’s put this question in a different form.

Sure, we want to make the world safe from terrorism.

But what if the FBI was—two years after the fact—investigating Cliven Bundy and his guests who made the Bureau of Land Management stand down in 2014? And what if they wanted to hack THEIR iPhones to get evidence against them? (Was the FBI carrying Harry Reid’s water there?)

Or…what if you told your bank a fib on your last Mastercard application and that application only existed and was encrypted in YOUR iPhone? (Yes, you can go to prison for that.)

In point of fact, the FBI can lie to you all day long with no legal consequence; but if you lie to them, you can go to prison. That’s the law. Ask Scooter Libby.

Now do you see the problem?

And that’s only one of a number of problems.

The second problem here is that what this little Federal Magistrate in California has ordered Apple to do is to write a piece of software which doesn’t exist.

Writing software is like writing this column. Could that Magistrate order me to write a column? I think not.

The third problem is that once that software is written, the genie is out of the bottle.

Which returns us to the issue of who do you trust.

This is, after all, the same FBI which orchestrated the killing of one Lavoy Finicum recently in Oregon by the Oregon Highway Patrol. He was killed because he did not comply with the “commands” of law enforcement.

These folks are not Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Broderick Crawford. Do you really want to give them the right to shoot you dead for not obeying their “commands” AND the right to peer into your most private information which you carry with you every day?

Truth be told, I carry an aging iPhone 5, and I had not password-protected it.

Until I discovered that the FBI couldn’t crack Apple’s encryption software.

Now, I’m much more impressed with my iPhone than I used to be..

But, if Apple caves, I’ll find a new phone which is manufactured by a company which won’t.

Will GOP Senate Fold Like A Cheap Suit On Court Appointment?

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last week sets up an interesting look at why many people who self-identify as Republicans have no trust whatsoever in the party they self-identify with.

Scalia was, without a doubt, the most prominent conservative on the Court.

The Democrat Party, in their wettest of dreams, would like him to be replaced with a doctrinaire liberal who would vote to uphold things like affirmative action, EPA regulations that kill coal-fired power plants, abortion on demand, open borders and the rest of the left’s laundry list.

But Supreme Court appointments are only nominated by the President.

They must be confirmed by the Senate. And, unlike earlier in President Obama’s terms, the Senate is under the control of the Republican Party. Sort of. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)

You see, the very same people who nominally “control” the Senate are also the reason why Donald Trump holds a large lead in the polls. The average voter trusts a used car dealer more than their Senator—of either party.

And while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately said that the Senate would not consider a new appointment during an election year, the question reverberating amongst the party base is: do you really believe him?

Frankly, the only thing that will keep McConnell honest is the fact that should he and his fellow establishment Republicans break ranks and confirm an Obama nomination, it will be the last thing they ever do as a Senator.

If the party’s long-suffering base is willing to nominate Trump—and it clearly is—then it is not a very big stretch to assume that very same base will destroy the careers of any Senator responsible for replacing Scalia with a liberal and changing the balance of the court.

Essentially, it is time for the Republicans to learn to play by Harry Reid’s rules. Which is to say that when Reid was the Majority Leader and he wanted something, there WEREN’T any rules. Harry was only too happy to cram Obamacare through the Senate on a budget reconciliation act and bypass the filibuster. Harry was only too happy to change the rules so a cloture vote on lower level nominations would only require a simple majority.

So, given the playing field that Reid, a mean, nasty and not very smart smash-mouth political player, invented, it should be a fairly simple maneuver to hold up a vote on Scalia’s replacement until after an election.

But that assumes that McConnell is smarter than Reid and more reliable.

And that’s why the base is more than a little worried. When Trump talks about America being run by stupid people, he’s not only talking about Obama and his ilk.

It’s not like Republicans have covered themselves with glory. Especially in the Senate.

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie so eloquently put it before he dropped out of the race for President—“when you’re a governor of a state… they expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state.”

On the other hand, when you’re a Senator, you talk. And talk is cheap. It’s the best job most Senators could ever get, and frankly, most Senators could not hold a job in the private sector with the salary and perks they have.  So, they will do almost anything to keep the job.

The public is not stupid.

They know this, and many simply do not trust anyone in the Senate with good reason.

So, despite what McConnell said, the jury is out on what the GOP Senate will actually do.

If they stay the course, great. People will gain some faith in the GOP Senate, and it might reflect itself in the election results.

If they fold like a cheap suit—as they have in the recent past—then the result could and should destroy the Republican Party.

San Francisco Federal Judge Who Rules For Government Censorship Should Be Impeached

If you wonder how much damage a Presidential putz like Barack Obama can do to the nation, you have only to look at the case of Federal District Judge William H. Orrick III of the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Orrick III was a 2013 Obama appointee.

This is also the clown who ruled against investigative reporting in the case of The National Abortion Federation versus the Center for Medical Progress by issuing a preliminary injunction barring the anti-abortion group from releasing undercover videos taken at annual conferences of the National Abortion Federation.

Orrick III ruled the Center’s First Amendment interest in releasing the videos was outweighed by the National Abortion Federation’s right to privacy, security and association.

Apparently, Federal Judges appointed by Obama are now allowed to reinterpret the First Amendment to the Constitution when hallowed causes are involved.

If the Center had been, say, the New York Times publishing, say, the Pentagon Papers, then presumably Orrick III would have been more lenient in his interpretation, given the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in that case.

Fortunately for most of us, Orrick is swinging the barn door shut after most of the thoroughbreds have escaped and many of the videos are all over the internet, which leaves us with a case of ‘who do you believe? The baby killers’ trade association or your lying eyes?’

Orrick said representatives for the Center for Medical Progress had used false identification and set up a phony corporation to gain access to meetings of the National Abortion Federation. Surreptitious videos taken at the meetings violated confidentiality agreements the officials had signed to gain access to the meetings, Orrick said. Those confidentiality agreements provided for injunctive relief in the event of a breach.

Of course, selling body parts of dead babies which were custom aborted to preserve the parts do NOT qualify for injunctive relief.

Orrick also disagreed that the Center had used widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques. The group’s projects “thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions (at least with respect to the NAF materials) of criminal misconduct.”

The problem here is that CBS News just used the same techniques to look at lawyers who would set up money laundering operations, and nobody even went to the courthouse.

In the immortal words of Chief Justice John Roberts—with whom we occasionally disagree—the job of a Judge is to call “balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”

Judge Orrick III is definitely in there pitching—from far left field—and that, more than anything, is why he’s wrong.

Constitutional Law 101 teaches a 1971 case called New York Times Co. v. United States, a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the First Amendment. The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censorship or punishment.

Ironically, the New York Times had been enjoined by a federal judge pitching for the right from publishing further excerpts of the Pentagon Papers.

The Supremes—which tilted a little left back then—said that the First Amendment means exactly what it says.

Why Orrick III is choosing to re-litigate this issue while pitching for the left is beyond me.

If Roe v. Wade is settled law, surely the First Amendment and freedom of the press is also settled law.

Yet we still have a Judge on the bench who tilts so far to the left that he is willing to simply serve as the handmaiden to the baby-killing industry.

He can rail against the anti-abortion groups all he wants, but government censorship—of anything that happens to be true or even arguable—is going so far that it should put a Federal jurist in line for impeachment.

Penalty For Disobeying Federal ‘Commands’ Should NOT Be Death

There he stood at a press conference. Big man. Federal employee. FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing looked into the camera and said, “Actions have consequences.” As if that justified the killing of LaVoy Finicum at the hands of the Oregon State Police in a confrontation which the FBI orchestrated and could reasonably foresee would end the way it did.

If LaVoy Finicum had been a black teen in a hoodie, the media would be all over it.

Instead, he was a mature white Arizona rancher who—like many of us in the West—was tired of federal hegemony over our land and was willing to risk his life, his treasure and his sacred honor to do something about it.

You know, like those 56 angry white guys in 1776.

Maybe he was misguided. Maybe he wasn’t.

But, apparently, white rancher lives matter a lot less to the FBI and the Department of Justice than do black lives belonging to looters—or the Al Sharptons of the world.

Agent Bretzing appears to have no idea of the consequences the actions of his little band of shooters will have.

Causes need martyrs.

LaVoy Finicum just became one. In fact, he may well have become the perfect martyr. He told NBC on video before it happened that he had a good life and was unafraid to die for his cause.

He also was the father of 11, a foster father over the years to 50 troubled boys…in general not what you think of when you think of an “armed militia member.” Or, for that matter, someone who came to Ferguson, Missouri, to riot and loot.

He was just a tough old coot who believed that the Federal Government had vastly overreached in the West and needed to have its pervasive influence reduced. And, unlike Cliven Bundy—who was not a media poster boy for land rights—he had the appeal of someone with the ability to charm the media.

The truth about law enforcement is that much of it sees things in black and white.

If a person is violating a law—any law—then they are subject to the wrath of government-sanctioned guns at the complete discretion—or lack of it—of those wielding those guns.

Now, to some extent, law enforcement is important. Within reason, it is one of the few things we all agree that government is and actually should be responsible for.

We expect it to be there when mobsters are stealing us blind in New York and Chicago. We expect it to be there when gang-bangers are shooting up the streets of East Los Angeles or the Strip in Las Vegas.

We also expect there to be a proportionate response to, say, a traffic stop. Or an act of civil disobedience. We sort of learned proportionate response in Birmingham, Al., in the 60s from black and white films of Sheriff Bull Connor’s dogs attacking demonstrators.

Unfortunately, many times we get neither—but we do get a lot of rage from some quarters in law enforcement when they are criticized.

I’ll grant you that it is a difficult job, made more so by an “us vs. them” attitude cultivated by much of law enforcement over the years.

Actions do indeed have consequences. So do attitudes.

This nation does not—and cannot—depend solely on law enforcement to keep us safe. You cannot put a cop on every corner—or every Federal wildlife preserve. It takes voluntary compliance from a citizenry which has a basic respect for the law.

And, the occasional burst of civil disobedience to help put a bad law away.

That respect for the system has to be earned BY the system.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing may well have set that respect back 30 years with his flip recital of what we all know to be true, which was clearly intended to minimize the consequences resulting from a complete mishandling of peaceful civil disobedience.

The idea that a government employee can shoot you dead because you do not follow his “commands” doesn’t sit well with us in the West, where we, also, carry guns.

It’s not like Finicum was knocking over a liquor store in East LA with a gun, or selling drugs in Chicago for the Sinaloa cartel.

He was protesting Federal hegemony over Western land.

And the sentence for that should probably not be death.

Despite Iowa, Trump Could Easily Be Next Reagan

If any one thing has become obvious in this past week, it is that Donald Trump most certainly can get elected president. He lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa by only a scant number of votes, and got seven delegates to Cruz’s eight. While the media is making huge hay, this should be a wake-up call to a giant. Let’s see what happens in New Hampshire.

Most certainly, he would do a better job representing the interests of the average guy (and gal) than anybody who has been there since Ronald Reagan.

Now the first thing that some of those establishment “conservatives” will howl is: how can you invoke the name Reagan in the same breath with the name Trump?

Apparently, those faux conservatives (National Review, Rich Lowry, I’m talking about you and your fellow clowns) don’t know or can’t read much history.

They like to think of Reagan coming out of his mother’s womb in Tampico, Illinois, as the perfect conservative.

It is doubtful that he thought those great thoughts when he was the President of the Screen Actors Guild and a Democrat. Which he was, for a great portion of his life.

So why can that transition happen to Reagan but not Trump?

Frankly, I think that the Republican establishment is much more interested in being important and being paid well for their “wisdom” than actually solving the problems created by eight years of liberals being enabled by establishment Republicans like themselves.

Let’s do this:

Instead of talking about the downside of a Donald Trump presidency, let’s imagine what he might do.

He can’t be bought, and he doesn’t need the job.

That means he is immune to the Wall Street lobby which convinced the establishment that they were too big and important to fail. My guess? If Goldman Sachs gets into the same situation they were in back during 2008, they will be in Chapter 11 and deservedly so. I could not imagine any truly independent businessman like Trump bailing out an insurer (AIG) which wrote bad insurance policies which were knowingly bought by investment banks to cover bets against an economy they created.

The Bush and Obama administrations never really understood what happened.

I can guarantee you that Trump did.

A lot of problems in government are created by bad hiring. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretaries of State come to mind. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. Have I made my point yet? If you are Barack Obama and you hire someone for an important job for whatever the reason, and it doesn’t work out, the taxpayers get Or Lois Lerner at the IRS. Or a dead Ambassador to Libya. Or the crazy ayatollahs in Iran with a nuclear weapon.

You don’t get to be worth $10 billion (with a B) by hiring stiffs like the ones I mentioned above. And Trump didn’t.

He understands how to hire top talent. And, as President, he would have his pick of the best.

You probably cannot run government—which is not supposed to make money—exactly like a business. But you can run it by using business-like principals. The way things are now, government doesn’t have any incentive to serve its customers well unless there is someone in charge who is not afraid to say, “You’re fired.” Trump has done that. Both on and off TV.

I’ve always said about Barack Obama that his politics were not the worst part of his administration.

It is his level of incompetence.

Competence is much more important in a leader than a particular political persuasion.

That said, it would be nice to have a leader who is not only competent but understands how the real world works.

Trump has been tested time and again in the real world and has passed those tests with flying colors. With very few exceptions, the rest of the people on the stage seeking the job are professionals at telling you what you want to hear and then doing as they please when they get elected.

The first time they fool us, shame on them. In most cases, that’s already happened.

But we now know what they will do. Why give them another chance to do it to us? At least at a time when we have a better choice?

It’s highly unlikely that Trump could do any worse than the professional politicians, and there is a pretty good chance he could be the next Ronald Reagan.

Given the situation our country is in, we need to hire the best guy for the job–and that would appear to be Trump.