Trump is the man of the people

I spotted this the other day:

Trump yard sign

Nobody would have done this for Hillary Clinton.

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John Oliver whines about Guantanamo

I was wondering how I was going to respond to John Oliver’s ignorant Guantanamo diatribe. It’s longer than it should be, but I went through it, taking notes.

Frankly, I might not have watched this at all. But the first report I’ve seen on it mentioned an “innocent” detainee without naming him. I knew he wasn’t really innocent, of course, but my curiosity got the best of me. So, I watched it all.

Still, I thought there’s simply too much there, and too much wrong, for me to write a quick post. Fortunately, Mike Brown of Inverse selected a few key items to cry about, and I can focus on those. He started with the notable ex-Gitmo detainee:

Shaker Aamer read Harry Potter during his 13 years in Guantanamo Bay, where he was held without charge. The idea of Azkaban, a wizard prison where all the world’s happiness is sucked away by monsters, felt very similar to his situation. It’s a bleak description, but despite efforts to close the facility, Guantanamo has remained open and could soon get a whole lot worse. John Oliver gave a sharp reminder on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight episode that power over the facility may soon transfer to Donald Trump.

There are several points of contention right here in this paragraph.

Let’s start with the “held without charge” nonsense. I covered that deception before. In a nutshell, it wasn’t a crime for a non-American to fight for the Taliban or Al Qaeda. We locked up thousands of German soldiers in WWII even though it wasn’t a crime for them to be members of the German army. That’s the way things work in wars. That’s why the Supreme Court says Guantanamo is legal.

So, any time someone says a Gitmo detainee is “held without charge” or “never charged with a crime,” you should know you’re being tossed an irrelevancy.

Much of Brown’s article repeats Oliver’s confusion over this, referring to detainees “who the U.S. believes have committed crimes, but there is not enough evidence to bring them to trial.” Well, not exactly. That’s only technically true in a few cases, and not relevant because it’s not the reason we’re holding them. (The above linked blog post goes into this further.) The fact is, if it was really only a matter of crimes and trials, the Supreme Court would probably have closed Guantanamo a decade ago.

On Shaker Aamer’s “13 years in Guantanamo Bay”: There are three things wrong here. First, he had a tribunal, annual reviews, and then a habeas review by a federal judge. It was legal to hold him. Second, he had been approved for conditional release years ago. The critics will often repeat this part, pretending they don’t understand this, as if it was an evil glitch in the bureaucracy. And to be fair, most of the critics are simply ignorant on this matter, having been deliberately kept so by the upper tier of the far left. Oliver and Brown had been misled, just like everyone else.

Third: The reason he wasn’t released is because he didn’t want to go home. You see, “home” for Shaker Aamer wasn’t in England. He was only approved for release to his real home, Saudi Arabia, and their jihadi rehabilitation program. (Here’s a clue, folks: Shaker Aamer doesn’t want to be rehabilitated!) And unlike the John Olivers of this world, the Saudis weren’t stupid enough to fall for this stuff. They wanted him back. It may not seem like it sometimes but al Qaeda is an enemy of the Saudi government. I would have preferred Guantanamo, too.

Then there’s “the idea of Azkaban.” This is also plainly stupid, although it is clever the way Aamer plays lefties like the violin. I can imagine him laughing at them after he leaves the interview. An actual feeling of hopelessness would require Gitmo detainees being held unjustly. I already said they’re being held legally. It would only be unjust if the detainees really opposed al Qaeda and their jihad. Shaker Aamer does not.

He opposes ISIS, of course. They’ll all say that, and a lot of these reporters will lap it up. But it’s another irrelevancy. ISIS is an enemy of Al Qaeda. It means nothing for Gitmo detainees to say they oppose it.

Aamer will go a step further. He’ll say he opposes attacks in the U.K., and on civilians in general. Attacks on American or British forces overseas are another matter. He won’t say he opposes those, and the reporters aren’t going to ask him.

Oliver and Brown talk about “the beliefs the country was founded on” and “standing up for our highest ideals, even when it requires accepting a certain amount of risk.” They seem utterly clueless that the men who founded this country designed the system exactly this way: to hold enemy combatants until the end of a war. The media may not be aware of this, but the Supreme Court is.

And yes, I know, somebody’s going to whine about POW status. Don’t. That’s only for enemy combatants who qualify. The men who designed that system did so with the understanding that not every prisoner qualified.

That leaves the “sharp reminder” that Trump may (if we’re lucky) get the keys to Guantanamo next January, as if there’s some threat in that. I’ll have to leave that for another time. John Oliver is truly clueless.

More anti-Trump nonsense on Gitmo

I came across this piece by Sean Colarossi, of PoliticsUSA.com, whining about how Donald Trump may want to try American citizens in Guantanamo.

What Trump is saying, Colarossi reminds us, isn’t legal. That’s technically true. The military commissions (trials for terrorists) are not for U.S. citizens — even if they’re jihadis caught fighting overseas.

The writer seems to be thinking that this is a violation of some ancient principle. It’s not. He may have forgotten that these military commissions were set up by Congress only ten years ago. They’re not for American citizens because they designed it that way at the time.

It’s as though Trump’s critics keep looking for things they can point to as stupid, ignorant and unconstitutional. This is none of those things.

The military commissions were originally set up by the Bush administration. They used the post-WWII Nuremberg trials as a model. What could be wrong with that? Most people would think that’s fine. Even lefties like to say they’d have been tough on Nazis. (I could argue that depends, but that’s an argument for another time.)

The Supreme Court decided (Hamdan v Rumsfeld, 2006) that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies, and that meant they could only be tried in “a regularly constituted court.” The Court further decided that meant it needed to be set up by Congress. Note that this was the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which came after the Nuremberg trials.

But most of that was just details to the left. Of what I’d just written in that last paragraph, the lefties mostly just heard that the military commissions were illegal, and had violated the Geneva Conventions. The lefties didn’t seem to understand that all the Bush administration needed to do was ask Congress to pass a law authorizing the trials, which is what happened.

And that’s basically where Trump would be if he decided it was important to try jihadis who were U.S. citizens in Guantanamo military commissions. He would have to ask Congress to pass a law similar to the one they passed before, with one minor change. Would Congress do it? They will if it becomes important.


August 15, 2016

A number of critics point out that it would violate the Bill of Rights to try U.S. citizens in a military commission. The Sixth Amendment says:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

Elura Nanos at LawNewz.com writes: “In Ex Parte Milligan, an 1866 case that is still good law today, the Supreme Court specifically held that trying civilian citizens in military courts is unconstitutional when civilian courts are still operating.”

Nanos raises some good points, but neglects to mention Ex Parte Quirin (1942), where eight German saboteurs were convicted in a military commission. Two of those Germans were legally U.S. citizens, and yet the Supreme Court ruled that the military commission was legal under the Constitution, despite their citizenship.

While people can argue with the differences between WWII’s Quirin and the Civil War’s Milligan cases, I’m just going to leave it at this. Trump isn’t really likely to want to do this anyway unless the war takes a hard turn for the worse.

Ace of Spades on Political Honesty, and the Pro-Amnesty Wing of the Republican Party

Like many of us, Ace of Spades is fed up with the #NeverTrumpies and the GOP’s basic dishonesty.

But first, let’s start off with Peggy Noonan at the pay­walled WSJ, who recognizes that the elites are, well, elite:

From what I’ve seen of those in power throughout business and politics now, the people of your country are not your countrymen, they’re aliens whose bizarre emotions you must attempt occasionally to anticipate and manage.

In Manhattan, my little island off the continent, I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai. They send their children to the same schools and are alert to all class markers. And those elites, of Mumbai and Manhattan, do not often identify with, or see a connection to or an obligation toward, the rough, struggling people who live at the bottom in their countries. In fact, they fear them, and often devise ways, when home, of not having their wealth and worldly success fully noticed.

…(snip)…

I close with a story that I haven’t seen in the mainstream press. This week the Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson reported that recent Syrian refugees being resettled in Virginia, were sent to the state’s poorest communities. Data from the State Department showed that almost all Virginia’s refugees since October “have been placed in towns with lower incomes and higher poverty rates, hours away from the wealthy suburbs outside of Washington, D.C.” Of 121 refugees, 112 were placed in communities at least 100 miles from the nation’s capital. The suburban counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington—among the wealthiest in the nation, and home to high concentrations of those who create, and populate, government and the media—have received only nine refugees.

Some of the detachment isn’t unconscious. Some of it is sheer and clever self-protection. At least on some level they can take care of their own.

Noonan is talking about the elites. It was probably Democrat-elites making those particular decisions, but it still relates to the larger issue of immigration, which was the straw that broke the GOP elephant’s back.

Again, as she says, the elites see the rest of us as “aliens whose bizarre emotions you must attempt occasionally to anticipate and manage.”

Isn’t that #NeverTrump? Yes, of course it is.

They nominated amnesty-pusher John McCain in 2008, and then told us we had to bite the bullet for them even though he was often against us in the Senate. But now, when Donald Trump is nominated — based on the one issue that they’ve continually betrayed us on — those same elites refuse to bite the bullet for us.

That brings me to Ace’s piece. It’s long, but it’s well worth the read. Here are a few choice pieces:

If you’re not going to admit, for example, that you disagree with the Tea Party on ideological grounds, and yet you still wish to undermine them, you have no choice left but to simply attack them on a personal level.

And this is even more biased than simply — honestly, forthrightly — stating your ideological position on a matter!

What, to you, is more offensive and ugly — that the media disagrees ideologically with the Tea Party’s commitment to reducing spending and government, or that, refusing to express their ideological objection honestly, they seek to paint every Tea Partier as racist and violent by carefully suggesting only the misspelled and ugly signs from a Tea Party rally? Strongly implying “Only ignorant, stupid racists could support this nonsense”?

…(snip)…

Thus, John McCain, rather than honestly objecting to the parts of the Tea Party movement he disagrees with, or honestly expressing his opinion that we need a bigger government than Tea Partiers think we need, resorts to personal attacks: They’re Wacko-Birds. They’re Hobbits.

Ace then shows us the “Complete the Danged Fence” campaign ad that McCain ran, back when he wanted us to believe that he believed in a border wall. Naturally, he wasn’t willing to call people “racist” for it then.

So here we are, with 20% of the party refusing to support the Republican nominee, largely because he holds a “racist” position that that same 20% was too cowardly to announce to be racist previously.

It is stunning how many #NeverTrumpies are willing to jump on these fake accusations of racism. It is as though they’ve COMPLETELY forgotten that we’ve had to deal with this sort of thing when Democrats accused the Tea Party of it. They were easy to bat down back then because claims made to sell to low-level Democrats are no match for a serious debate.

But how did the #NeverTrumpies miss that? Well, some of them didn’t believe in the Tea Party other than as a means to manage the voters. They just weren’t paying that close attention. For the rest, it’s even more simple: The #NeverTrumpies have been reduced to defending their own line. With only a few exceptions, many are not trying to persuade actual Trump supporters.

FBI Source: Clinton Foundation can bring down the entire government

From Tom Fernandez’s blog, with a hat-tip to Peppermint blog:

The Clinton Foundation is a “massive spider web of connections and money laundering implicating hundreds of high-level people,” according to an anonymous insider who revealed why the FBI stopped short of indicting Hillary Clinton.

*
Before FBI Director James Comey announced the FBI wouldn’t recommend pressing charges against Clinton, an insider with “intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Clinton case” hosted an little-publicized AMA session on 4Chan, and the statements he made on July 2 corroborate with later developments of the scandal.

It’s not so much that the Clintons have their tentacles everywhere, which they probably do. It’s that whatever hurts the Clintons is bound to hurt those they’re connected to. They protect each other because they need to.

This is a useful reminder that the story isn’t really over yet. They will all have to be watching each others’ backs for a long, long time.

This election is too important not to have a second choice

This is a difficult election.

First off, I’m a Trump supporter.

I set aside a ton of baggage to remain a Trump supporter. It’s another nuisance when a few other Trump supporters add to my difficulties, but that’s just the way things are.

Now Roger Stone of the DailyCaller, adding to my grief, says GOP-establishment money is going to Mark Levin, Glenn Beck and RedState.com’s Erick Erickson. Citing ad revenue, Stone says, “Don’t fool yourself. They’re doing it for the money.”

The article is here, but I give you the link only out of general principle.

The American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord, also a Trump supporter, states the obvious: Stone and his source are off their rockers:

In addition to being a Trump supporter, I am also a friend of Mark Levin, having known him since we both worked for Ronald Reagan. Precisely because of this I know with certitude that my friend Mark has been an outspoken conservative since he was, yes indeed, a teenager. He is the real deal. Those best-selling books are best sellers not because of the Senate Conservatives Fund but because Mark is a serious thinker who works long and hard at writing these books. As someone who knows him and has read and reviewed his books, I know exactly why they have so much appeal to conservatives all over America. Take a look at this Levin book signing from seven years ago in Tysons Corner, Virginia. See that long… long, long, long… line of Americans waiting to see Mark and get a signed copy of Liberty and Tyranny? You can’t manufacture something like that.

As Jeffrey Lord said, Mark Levin is the real deal. I understand his position regarding Trump. I just disagree on how bad things are. We shouldn’t be tearing each other apart over this.

As for Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson, they were both solidly anti-Trump long before #NeverTrump became a thing. There’s nothing odd that Trump’s opponents would choose these venues for advertising. They are where the conservative listeners and readers are.

We’re in trouble, folks. Benjamin Franklin is attributed to have once said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” I hope we can all bear that in mind.

Jeffrey Lord is a Trump supporter who still likes Ted Cruz, who remains my second choice as well.

This election is too important not to have a second choice. Support your candidate. But don’t sink your #2 if your #1 doesn’t get the nomination.

Trump?

I’ve spent a lot of time defending Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean I don’t share some of the concerns about his campaign.

I was already pretty disturbed when Trump disparaged John McCain for being captured. I had to put it aside as just a stupid thing to say that most people don’t understand the wrongness of it.

Let me point out that McCain was shot down. That can happen when someone’s in combat, particularly if they’re close. No amount of skill will protect you from a well-placed shot. The elder George Bush was shot down, too. The Red Baron was shot down twice. Getting shot down doesn’t mean they erred. It means they fought hard, were willing to risk their lives, and came within an inch of losing them. What Trump said was wrong.

But a flippant comment can be excused. That’s part of this game. Speaking off the cuff risks going overboard, and so these things should be expected. And he did try to walk that back.

What Trump said in the debate before last is far worse. PJ Media’s Scott Ott, Steven Green and Bill Whittle show their anger over his B.S. notion that “Bush lied” about WMDs:

I can see the anger and disgust in everyone’s eyes in the video. I share them.

No, Bush didn’t lie about WMDs. Saddam Hussein looked like he had a working WMD program because he intended to make his enemies think that he did.

Trump’s comments weren’t merely wrong factually. They feed into the anti-American mythology that the left and the Islamists keep running.

The trouble is, I agree with Trump on the immigration issue. It really is a serious problem, more serious than most people realize. The GOP screwed up on a lot of issues, but they’re downright ignorant on how far off course they’ve gone on this one. Even now, they see it as a political problem to be overcome. It’s not.

There are many valid fears about electing Donald Trump. Some of his promises, if kept, will not work out the way that people wish. But he will do something about illegal immigration and most of his opponents have shown they will not. (I don’t even care if Mexico pays for a wall.) The GOP has been plainly dishonest about it.

If you don’t understand why people are still going to Trump, imagine that the entire world is on fire. The old political equations can’t work in such a situation. If the world was vastly different, I might have been happy with Jeb Bush. But it’s not.

But there are other issues, you might say. Like Iran? The Congressional Republicans played games with that, too. President Obama took the blame, but, as Andrew McCarthy wrote, they had their own reasons to allow it to happen. In the Senate, only Senator Tom Cotton voted against it. (Ted Cruz said he thought it was a bad bill, but voted for it after his own bill failed, saying it was better than nothing.)

Ultimately, immigration isn’t the main issue so much as it will affect every issue. It means bringing in people who will one day vote with priorities different from our own.

Can Trump win? Yes. As I said, Trump will need to bring in an “establishment” GOP VP candidate to smooth things over. It’s not a perfect solution — to some, losing is a demonstration of principle — but it will help bring back many of his critics.

That being said, Ted Cruz is an alternative. I don’t see him being quite as viable, but it is tempting to support him simply because he’s better than the next alternatives. We need Cruz to stay in the race if Trump can’t close the deal. That’s a good reason to vote for him even if you prefer Trump.

Trump, waterboarding and illegal orders

It’s interesting that Bill Maher found nothing wrong when General Michael Hayden said that, should Trump become President, the U.S. military would refuse to follow any orders to waterboard detainees.

As I pointed out last week, waterboarding is now illegal, having been made so in last November’s defense bill. It restricts any arm or agent of the U.S. government from using any techniques not in the U.S. Army interrogation manual.

This isn’t about whether or not the CIA’s method of waterboarding is torture. It’s not in the manual, and that alone now makes it illegal. Everyone in the military knows that you cannot follow illegal orders. There’s nothing new here.

But it doesn’t matter all that much. The next Congress can pass another law to make it possible. They won’t do that easily. It will require the right circumstances, but, sadly, such things are inevitable when the world is as it is.

ISIS is already using chemical weapons. They’ll have biological weapons sooner than we wish, and that’s just the start.

Democrats were driven by politics to oppose waterboarding, and to make it sound a lot worse than it is. They will flip the other way the moment it makes sense to them, but continue to insist that the new techniques aren’t as bad as the old ones. Whatever sells.

Once the law changes, someone in (or working for) the government will do it knowing that it is legal. It just takes a President who has their back.

Does that mean I think it’ll happen that quickly? Not really. The enhanced interrogation techniques came about because we knew relatively little about Al-Qaeda. They weren’t needed as much toward the end of the Bush administration, and even less after we let other countries keep and interrogate more of the prisoners. I can imagine Trump letting that continue.

On the other hand…

Trump also said he’d “take out the family members.” It’s doubtful he meant it, and impossible to believe the threat could be bad enough that intentionally killing civilians becomes legal. But could they be detained temporarily? Sure. We’ve already detained family members during both the Bush and Obama administrations.


It is interesting that this story also popped up that one of the “alleged” terrorists is claiming mistreatment at the hands of the Guantanamo guard force. Noise and vibrations are supposedly keeping him from sleeping and praying.

There’s a part of me that would like to think such things happen, but who seriously believes President Obama could allow such a thing that’s almost certainly against the law? It’s clearly absurd.

And yet the same people who applaud General Hayden’s statement that the military would (quite naturally) refuse an illegal order, will then take this “alleged” terrorist’s claims seriously.


Later [03/05/16]: As I thought, Trump needed to backtrack:

Trump told The Wall Street Journal he would “use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters.”

I’ve got other problems with Trump, but I never saw this as a big deal. He made his fortune through his willingness to navigate New York City’s convoluted property laws and union regulations. I never thought he’d be a Mussolini.

Bluster has its place. Enhanced interrogation was mostly bluster (just as the criticism it received was mostly a sham). Even our current interrogation methods will work better if the terrorists know that a man like Trump is running things.