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Treason?

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James Taranto at the WSJ has this column listing some of the reaction to Donald Trump's email comments yesterday.  "Reaction was swift and, we will argue, overwrought."  My take is in this post.  Part of the disagreement is on how you interpret what he said, and there is some room for reasonable disagreement there.  What is most certainly out-of-bounds, though, is the hysterical claim that his comment is treason.

Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution.  The Framers put the definition there and made it exceedingly narrow to preclude the kind of creative definitions of treason that were instruments of tyranny in England at least as far back as the notorious King Henry VIII.  Here is the American definition:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
Are we at war with Russia?  Nope.  The treason talk can stop right there.  QED.
Ed O'Keefe, Jose A. DelReal and John Wagner have this article in the WaPo, with a lead paragraph that is typical of what is all over the net:

Democrats prepared to use their convention Wednesday night to raise fresh doubts about Donald Trump's fitness to serve as commander in chief, as the Republican presidential candidate called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's email server to find "missing" messages and release them to the public.
But did he really say that?  His actual statement is in the next two paragraphs:

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said during a news conference at his South Florida resort on Wednesday.

"They probably have them. I'd like to have them released. It gives me no pause, if they have them, they have them," Trump added later when asked if his comments were inappropriate. "If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I'd love to see them."
As I read that, he is expressing a belief that they already have the emails, having hacked Mrs. Clinton's home-brewed server a long time ago, and he is saying he hopes they release them.  That is a very different thing.

How could he possibly call on Russia to hack into a server that was taken off line and wiped a long time ago?  That doesn't make any sense.
Following up on my post yesterday, here is how not to do it.
Wow.  You can't make this stuff up.

The DNC chair got the ax when hacked emails definitively proved what just about everyone paying attention pretty much knew -- that she was using the party apparatus to favor one primary candidate over the other.  We didn't think it warranted mention on this blog.

But who is the substitute convention opener?  It is none other than the notorious Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the one who said as her city was burning:

It's a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.
She quickly blamed others for supposedly mischaracterizing her words, saying she did not mean what she plainly said.

One foolish statement would not have been so bad if she had followed up by doing everything right after that, but the City of Baltimore has not.  Closer to the opposite, and it has the crime to prove it.

If the Democratic Party wanted to make this election all about who is on the criminals' side and who is on the law-abiding people's side, with themselves being the wrong side, it could hardly have chosen a more effective face to put forward to open its convention.

And just to be very, very clear, there is no balance to be struck with free speech when a full-blown riot is in progress.   Government can constitutionally put "time, place, and manner" limits on speech to serve important interests, and peaceful protests can be postponed until peace is restored.

Hillary Falls Behind

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Donald Trump got significant help from the Convention.  This has not happened in the CNN poll since the 2000 elections.  The lead of CNN's story follows the break.


The Law and Order Candidate

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When was the last time a presidential candidate made law and order the lead theme of his acceptance speech?  I can't remember.  The reason it has been so long is that we were so successful in bringing down crime rates that the issue dropped off of voters' radar screens.  It's back.

The Trump campaign has released a helpfully annotated text of the speech.  The facts on crime are substantially correct, regardless of what the WaPo fact checkers say.  I may have more to say on that later.  Here are some key lines.

The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.
Yup, I've been saying that for some time.
Station WOIO reports from Cleveland:

Hundreds of protesters and police took over Public Square in downtown Tuesday afternoon.
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Activists from Black Lives Matter, Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK were in the square and, at one time, were said to be throwing urine at each other.
We probably shouldn't laugh, but I will anyway.  And I will take the Mercutio position on that dispute.

Other interesting nuggets:

Actor Billy Baldwin marched down Euclid Avenue with some protesters. He said he supports police and Black Lives Matter.
Huh?  How do you support one group of people and at the same time support a second group that openly calls for the murder of the first?

The Stand Together Against Trump group was expected to parade Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. A total of 0 protesters showed up. There were 15 media members, 17 preachers and several police instead. The group had a parade permit for up to 5,000 people.

Selective Mourning

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We're often admonished by the Left not to draw conclusions until all the facts are in. That's sound advice, in the abstract.  The problem is how it gets applied.  When a Jihadist engages in mass murder shouting "Allahu Akbar," we are told not to "jump to conclusions" about his motives.  But when a white policeman shoots an African American, it is assumed on the spot that the motive is racism.  This itchy eagerness to smear the cops was nowhere better illustrated  --  and its injustice nowhere more evident  -- than with Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO.  It is being repeated full bore with the shooting episodes in Baton Rouge and in Minneapolis, even though in each of those cities, as was the case early on in Ferguson, the full facts are not yet known.

The Washington Times reports that Hillary Clinton has nonetheless met with the family of the man shot in Minnesota, Philando Castile, as part of a campaign swing.

Question:  Has Ms. Clinton met with the families of any of the eight policemen assassinated in Baton Rouge and Dallas?

Answer:  Not that I've heard about.  I will stand to be corrected if I'm wrong.

Question:  Why not?

Answer:  Partly because, facts or no facts, she's goosing the BLM vote, but has (understandably) given up on the police vote.  Mostly  --  and let's just say  it out loud  -- because she could care less.

The Sentencing Reform Movement, Distilled

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Atlantic magazine features an article in which David Frum interviews Steve Teles, a liberal but thoughtful professor of political science at Johns Hopkins.  The article encapsulates Teles's new book (with co-author David Dagan) Prison Break, in which Prof. Teles describes "why conservatives have turned against mass incarceration."

It's not mass incarceration (zero point seven percent of the population is imprisoned), and conservatives haven't turned against it (although some prominent and/or libertarian-leaning and/or Beltway-centered conservatives do support sentencing "reform"). Still,the article is worth your time for its delicious insights about how the sentencing reform movement is organized and financed.  But the most revealing paragraph, I thought, is this one:

The openness of conservatives to rethinking criminal justice is, to a significant degree, a function of the declining salience of the issue. Voters since the late 1990s simply haven't cared about it as much, as the great crime decline started to register. Voters will still tell you in polls that they think that our criminal laws aren't severe enough, but they also don't care about it as much. And that lack of strong concern creates space for politicians to move without fear of reprisal, and to be more entrepreneurial in their framing of the issue.

That has a bit of academic lingo, so let me try to distill it:  "Now that policies of increased incarceration have helped us succeed in reducing crime, we can relax and go back to failure."

As Bill noted earlier today, the theme of the opening day of the Republican National Convention is Make America Safe Again.  Is America unsafe?  Is a change of direction needed?  Consider two graphs (click on them for larger views):

ViolentCrime1960_2014.jpgMCCA1Q2015_2016.JPG










Biased fact-checkers have assailed Donald Trump's emphasis on law and order, quoting experts citing the data in the first graph, as noted in this post.  Yes, crime has fallen since 1993.  It is half what it was at the peak, although still far above the golden years of the Ozzie and Harriet era.  You don't see an uptick at the end of the graph, do you? 

But look at the scale.  The official numbers are notoriously slow in coming out.  The scale ends at 2014.  What about the last year and a half?

The graph on the right represents crime in the first quarters of 2015 and 2016.  It shows violent crime up in every category and a nearly seven percent jump in a single year.  These numbers are from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a recent entrant in the crime statistics business.  Their only prior numbers are for 2014 v. 2015, which also showed an increase in all categories except robbery.  The major cities included cannot be assumed to be representative of the country, but they include the places where a large portion of our people live and work.

Seven percent in one year is a dramatic jump, and combined with a broad increase, although smaller, in 2015, it is likely not a fluke.  The major increase in California, noted here, a state that gone full bore in softening its approach to crime, further supports the idea that a general softening is a significant contributing cause.

While I might quibble with the wording of the theme, the renewed attention to law and order is appropriate and welcome.  We must not forget and repeat the errors of the past.




Hillary Fans the Number One BLM Hoax

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The Black Lives Matter movement took root principally in the shooting death of a an 18 year-old African American, Michael Brown, by white Ferguson, MO, Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was tried in the press and convicted of racist murder:  The narrative was, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot": Wilson gunned him down in cold blood while Brown had his hands up in surrender.

It was a pack of lies.  Brown, who had just committed a small-time robbery of a convenience store and shoved the clerk (half his size) on the way out, did not have his hands up and was not trying to surrender. (The tape of the robbery is here; the shoving episode is at 0:27 to 0:33).  To the contrary, moments before the shooting, Brown had tried to wrestle Wilson's gun away, and was on his way back to the patrol car.  This is not the finding of Fox News; it's the finding of a grand jury convened by Barack Obama's Justice Department.

Brown was 6'4" and weighed 292 pounds.  That is bigger than the average NFL player.

Showing the extent of her embrace of the venomous BLM movement, Hillary has now invited Brown's mother to the Democratic National Convention.  The story is here

If there is a reason any police officer in the country would trust Hillary with the Presidency, I hope some reader will tell me what it is.


Make America Safe Again

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The title of this post is the theme of opening night of the Republican National Convention. Although I have not been shy about criticizing Donald Trump on any number of fronts, I have to give him credit for insight, if not clairvoyance, in choosing tonight's theme.

Yesterday, we saw, for the second time in recent days, the ambush murder of policemen by a killer fueled the the kerosene that Black Lives Matter has been pouring over the country for months.  President Obama seems alternately to show fascination and muted regret that he holds the match.

I have seen media criticism that tonight's Republican theme is incendiary and opportunistic, e.g., this NYT article. It's not impossible to imagine that a friendlier source would see the subject as "timely" and "contributing to a needed national conversation." Don't hold your breath on that one.

As ever, though, my main concern is not tone but substance.  The truth is that America is indeed in need of being made safe again.  As both Kent and I have noted, violent crime is surging in a way not seen in more than a generation. Murder in our most populous cities is up by the largest amount in decades.  Murder of police officers is up 44% just this year (not counting yesterday).  We are giving back years of hard-won gains.

Among the speakers tonight will be four of the best, Sheriff David Clarke, Tom Cotton, Rudy Giuliani, and Jeff Sessions.  I look forward to their remarks.
Many readers will already have heard about the episode today in which a "protester's" response to the police "murder" of Alton Sterling became, ummm, overly enthusiastic, resulting in an unfortunate situation that we could have avoided if the cops would finally own up to their years of racist oppression.

That, at least, is my first draft of the forthcoming Black Lives Matter press release.

What actually happened, obviously, is that several police were lured to an ambush murder.  Thus far the number dead is three.  Three others lay wounded.

I should perhaps be more circumspect so soon after this incident, but I've found that "circumspection" has become liberal code for "keep your mouth shut until we figure out the spin this time."  Today, I'm not biting.

BLM and its allies and enablers, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and a goodly chunk of (almost all Republican) libertarian politicians have spent years putting out sulfuric condemnation of the police.  Sometimes the hatred just underneath is decently well concealed; other times, not so much. Criticism, of course, is fine.  Skepticism is fine. But when it's hatred  --  and more and more, that's what we're seeing, no matter its skimpy disguise  --  there will be an outcropping. We saw the outcropping in Dallas. We see it today in Baton Rouge.  We'll see plenty more of it.

We have free speech in this country, for the moment.  Obama, Clinton, BLM and libertarian stump speakers can say whatever they want, as long as it's not direct solicitation. But it's time that they get called on the violence they encourage and abet. And that they take, rather than indignantly deny, their share of responsibility for it.

Pence Confirmed as Veep Choice

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After stumbling around a bit, Donald Trump has confirmed that Indiana Governor Mike Pence is his choice for running mate.  AP has this report.

As noted in yesterday's post, Pence is a solid guy and may be just what this ticket needs.

And, importantly, he has not quaffed the soft-on-crime Kool-Aid, something than cannot be said for everyone who was on the "short list."
Andrew Downs has this op-ed at the WaPo with the above title.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign has been unconventional, but naming Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Trump's running mate would be a quite conventional move. Pence would balance the ticket in almost every way.

First, their personalities. Trump is unpredictable, forceful and, at times, impolite. Pence is predictable, some might say to a fault. Pence does not shy from a fight, but "forceful" is not a word that is used often to describe him. Pence is Midwestern polite.

Both of them have a knack for dealing with the media, but in different ways. Trump has honed his skills through decades of media exposure, as a business executive and as a reality television star. Trump is spontaneous and delivers an embarrassment of sound-bite riches. Pence has honed his skills as a talk radio show host, frequent guest on news and opinion shows, and as a speaker at political gatherings. Pence gets on message and stays there.

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