Chipping at ICE

As horror stories from America’s southern border continue to proliferate (an example: some young children who have been reunited with their mothers no longer recognize them) calls to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) have gotten louder.

Libertarian Lucy Steigerwald, in The Week, makes the strongest #AbolishICE case I’ve read:

…It is an expensive, abusive, and unnecessary agency. We should get rid of it.

ICE has only existed for 15 years, during which time America’s spending on immigration enforcement, tracking, and surveillance has swelled like a tumor. The U.S. spent $187 billion on immigration enforcement between 1990 and 2013, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Deportations increased more than tenfold between 1990 and 2011. And ICE spends $2 billion every year to hold immigrants in private detention centers known for human rights abusesOne report found that, over seven years, ICE workers were accused of roughly 600 instances of sexual and physical abuse in detention centers. This is made worse when you realize that private contractors have been benefiting from the detention centers.

We now have a tangled monster of a system that incentivizes indefinitely holding people who have committed a civil infraction by crossing the border. We are spending a lot of money to punish families for nonviolent offenses — for doing a perfectly rational thing like trying to find more work, or trying to get their children out of violent, cartel, civil war-ridden countries.

Why do we even need ICE? The agency’s main job is to find and apprehend illegal immigrants who are already in the country. In theory, this is different from Border Patrol, which is meant to patrol, well, the border, but technically can operate anywhere within 100 miles of the border. As the American Civil Liberties Union has frequently pointed out, two-thirds of Americans live within 100 miles of the border, which means two-thirds of Americans are already under the jurisdiction of both ICE andBorder Patrol. This essentially makes ICE, and its $3.8 billion annual budget, redundant. I can’t think of anything ICE does that brings added value to the country, but I can point to numerous instances of the agency unnecessarily harassing Americans.

[…]

People often claim the left loves big government. But right now, those lefties are saying the government should be a little bit smaller, and a bit less cruel. We should listen.

The problem is, many Americans read “Abolish ICE” and see “abolish borders.”  That’s the argument pushed by immigration restrictionist Mark Kirkorian and echoed by many Republicans, who are already trying to capitalize on it for the November midterm elections.

The point of abolishing ICE is to end all non-criminal deportations of illegal aliens. That would mean that every foreigner who manages to slip past the Border Patrol or who overstays a visa would be permitted to stay forever, so long as he isn’t convicted of an especially heinous crime.

That would render our entire body of immigration law meaningless. The numerical caps on various categories and the requirements to qualify would be irrelevant because there would be no agency to enforce them. #AbolishICE means nothing if not unlimited immigration and open borders.

Unlimited immigration is a defensible, if misguided, goal. But its proponents are not arguing for it honestly, explaining to voters why they should open America’s borders to the world’s poor. Instead, they’re trying to fool voters by hiding behind a hashtag.

ICE, like all tools now being wielded by this venal and incompetent administration, is doing tremendous damage, and if the midterm elections are a referendum on Trump, Democrats will win big.  But if the midterms are a referendum on whether the border should be enforced at all, they will lose.

“A really futile and stupid gesture”

It’s Bret Stephens, whose very presence in the New York Times is an affront to Democrats, so they won’t listen to him.  But he argues that rabidly opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Bret Stephens is likely doomed to fail and will probably hurt some Democratic Senators’ re-election chances:

Kavanaugh will almost certainly be confirmed. Democrats who had pinned their hopes on flipping Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski probably aren’t going to get their wish, since both Republican moderates voted to confirm Kavanaugh to his current judgeship in 2006 and have since spoken approvingly of his nomination. Rand Paul can also be counted on to feign political independence, but he usually falls into line.

Of course it’s possible Kavanaugh will make a bad public impression, like Robert Bork. Or maybe there will be a #MeToo revelation, like with Clarence Thomas. Or maybe Democrats will figure out a way to kick a vote past the midterms. In which case, Democrats can seize their chances. For now, however, the first question Democrats ought to ask themselves is whether they really have political capital to waste on a losing battle.

[…]

A plurality of Americans already want Kavanaugh confirmed, according to a Rasmussen poll. The numbers will likely improve once Americans get a closer look at this temperate, intelligent, decidedly non-scary nominee. And Democrats will again play to type as mindless obstructionists and one-note alarmists — the same overheated opposition that, as the Times’s Jeremy Peters reported last month, only hardens support for Trump.

Stephens also argues that Kavanaugh – like Roberts and Gorsuch, and Ginsburg and Breyer – is undeniably qualified for the job.  Really, aside from Harriet Miers, I can’t remember a SCOTUS nominee who wasn’t qualified.  (Mind you, some Trump nominees for lower federal courts almost make Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro look good.)

Incidentially, the late arch-conservative Antonin Scalia was confirmed 98-0 for his Supreme Court seat by the U.S. Senate, and only three Senators voted against confirming The Notorious RBG.   Imagine that happening with anyone in 2018 America.

After Kennedy

Because of the two defining features of modern American politics – Republican ruthlessness and Democratic strategic blunders – President Trump will almost certainly get to choose a more conservative replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

There is one way the Democrats’ minority in the Senate would prevent a new Justice from being confirmed before the midterm elections, by taking the risky and unprecedented step of simply refusing to show up for work:

Currently, Democrats control 49 Senate seats — two short of the simple majority they would need to filibuster a Trump nominee. So how could they “technically” block the president’s pick? And even with all the outrage on the left, why are they still unlikely to do it?

Earlier this month, University of Miami political scientist Gregory Koger, a specialist in filibustering and legislative obstructionism, explained on Vox.com that, according to Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, “a majority … shall constitute a quorum to do business” in the Senate — meaning that Democrats can basically shut the place down by refusing to vote on anything.

With only the barest 51-vote majority — and one of their own, Arizona Sen. John McCain, on extended leave in Arizona as he grapples with what is likely to be terminal brain cancer — Republicans would have difficultly mustering a quorum without at least some Democratic help. “In the month of June, there have been an average of 1.8 Republican absences across 18 roll call votes,” Koger wrote, “so even if McCain returned to the Senate, the majority would struggle to consistently provide a floor majority.” If McCain doesn’t return, and all 49 Democrats refuse to participate, the 50 Republican senators left in Washington would fall one short of a quorum. (The Senate precedents on quorums do not mention whether Vice President Mike Pence could contribute a 51st vote.)

In that case, “the Senate can do nothing,” Koger concluded. “No bill can pass, no amendment can be decided on, no nominations can get approved.” The Senate would screech to a halt for lack of a quorum — and Democrats could conceivably delay a confirmation vote until a new Senate, perhaps with a narrow Democratic majority, is seated next January.

[…]

The fact that Democrats can shut down the Senate, however, doesn’t mean they will. “This would be a confrontational tactic,” Koger explained. “Confrontational” is probably too gentle a word for it. Obstructing a president’s Supreme Court pick by completely shutting down the Senate would require political winds that were blowing strongly in Senate Democrats’ favor. It’s not clear they are.

For one thing, 10 Democratic senators are running for reelection in states that Trump won in 2016, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana all voted to confirm Gorsuch. Would every one of these at-risk senators be willing to imperil their reelection chances by striking over Trump’s next nominee? Democrats can’t afford a single defection.

Politico has a short list from whom Kennedy’s likely replacement will be appointed – most of whom certainly appear qualified, though we all know this has much more to do with partisan politics than it does with legal qualifications.

One further point for despairing liberals, from conservative Marc Thiessen: it is by no means guaranteed that a Republican appointee will be as doctrinaire as they think.

…Trump will have to break the mold of his Republican predecessors. Over the past three decades, presidents from his party have picked seven justices, and several have turned out to be disappointments to conservatives. President Ronald Reagan picked three justices (Sandra Day O’Connor, Scalia and Kennedy), but only one, Scalia, was a consistent conservative. President George H.W. Bush picked one solid conservative (Clarence Thomas) and one (David Souter) who was not. George W. Bush did better, appointing two conservatives, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr. But even Roberts disappointed conservatives when he cast the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act in a stroke of judicial activism. If Trump picks not one, but two reliable conservative justices, he will secure the best record of Supreme Court appointments by any modern Republican president.

The new guy, like Gorsuch, likely will not be a Souter.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if Roberts provides Republicans with some unpleasant surprises in the coming years.

Trump chose border chaos

True to form, the President insists that it wasn’t his idea to separate parents from their young children trying to cross the US-Mexico border.  His little hands are tied by a law put in place by his Democratic predecessor, so he has no choice.

Even here in Canada, Trump has apologists who raise this point in the comment section of almost every Facebook post about it.  Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy – hardly a Democrat-friendly blog – says it’s nonsense:

…There is no law requiring family separation at the border. And even if there was, that still would not be enough to justify the administration’s cruel policy.

The federal law criminalizing “improper entry” by aliens does not require family separation. The law also provides for the use of civil penalties, as well as criminal ones. While it states that the application of civil penalties does not preclude application of criminal ones, it also does not compel federal prosecutors to pursue both. Until the administration’s recent policy change, civil proceedings were in fact the usual approach in case of families with minor children, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The use of civil proceedings generally does not require pretrial detention, and therefore obviates the need to detain either parents or children; some civil defendants were detained, nonetheless, but in facilities where families can stay together. The Trump administration, by contrast, has sometimes even forcibly separated children from migrants who have not violated any law, but instead have legally crossed the border to petition for asylum in the United States.

The Trump administration claims that their policy is required by the 1997 Flores court settlement. But that settlement in no way mandates family separation and detention of children away from their parents. To the contrary, it instructs federal officials to “place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate” and to release them to the custody of family or guardians “without unnecessary delay.” The settlement also mandates that federal immigration officials must “treat all minors in its custody with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.” Detaining children under harsh conditions, separated from their parents, is pretty obviously not “the least restrictive setting” possible, and it most definitely doesn’t qualify as treating children with “dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability.”

Even if the law did clearly direct criminal prosecution combined with automatic family separation in pretrial detention, it does not follow that the administration had a legal duty to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy that prioritizes prosecution of this particular type of offense. In a world where the vast majority of adult Americans have violated federal criminal law at some point in their lives, and there are so many laws and offenders that prosecutors can only target a small fraction of them, federal officials inevitably have vast discretion in determining which offenses to pursue and to what degree. First-time illegal entry into the United States is a mere misdemeanor carrying a penalty (up to 6 months imprisonment or a small fine) lower than the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana (1 year). The relative penalties suggest that federal law considers the latter a more serious offense than the former. Yet not even hard-core drug warriors like Sessions urge the federal government to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy under which we routinely prosecute all small-time marijuana users. In practice, the feds only target a tiny fraction of them. And when they do, they don’t separate their children from them, and detain the children under harsh conditions.

Trump and Sessions are not obligated to do this.  It is a choice.  And while most Americans are appalled by what is being done in their name, his base remains on board:

American voters oppose by 66 percent to 27 percent Team Trump’s policy of separating children and parents when families illegally cross the border into the US, a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday said.

But Republicans overwhelmingly support the policy by 55 percent to 35 percent, the only group to back it.

Why Kim K. went to the White House

Never change, New York Post:

Capture

It’s the kind of story that could only exist in the crazy year of 2018, but Kardashian’s visit was actually in the service of a noble cause:

The mother-of-three requested the White House meeting after hearing about the plight of Alice Marie Johnson on social media late last year.

“This is so unfair,” Kardashian tweeted in October 2017, along with a link to an interview Johnson, 63, did on Mic.com.

Sources told The Post that Kardashian argued that Johnson — a Memphis great-grandmother convicted of a drug conspiracy — had paid her debt to society after 21 years behind bars and deserves clemency.

The meeting went “well,” sources said, and now the decision is in Trump’s hands.

After the meeting, Kardashian headed to Ivanka and Jared’s DC home for a private dinner.

It was to be a continuation of the White House meeting, since Kushner is a passionate advocate for criminal justice reform after living through his father’s imprisonment.

Usually, liberals say they’re concerned about the United States having the highest incarceration rate in the world, but on Twitter their top priority is laughing at and mocking a much-maligned, vapid celebrity.  And also Kim Kardashian.

Actually, not just on Twitter.  Also CNN:

…one particular CNN reporter didn’t take this prison reform summit seriously.

During a panel discussion on both Trump and the White House’s reaction to the Roseanne Barr controversy, Acosta slammed the “lack of seriousness” coming from the president.

“Forget about the fact that Kim Kardashian is here at the White House today and what planet that is anything resembling normal because it’s not. She shouldn’t be here talking about prison reform. It’s very nice that she is here but that’s not a serious thing to have happen here at the White House.”

[…]

Besides the fact that Acosta never took issue with the countless celebrities that had visited the White House under President Obamaincluding Beyoncé and Jay ZGeorge ClooneyOprah WinfreyLin-Manuel MirandaBradley CooperRihanna, and Zach Galifianakis, Acosta seems to have forgotten about his own 2015 interview with singer John Legend.

Acosta sat down with the Grammy-winning artist and discussed his music, Black Lives Matter, and yes, prison reform, something Legend at the time was planning on meeting with Obama about. And Acosta was genuinely engaged with Legend during the interview and took him seriously not only as an entertainer but as a political thinker.

The same can’t be said about his treatment of Kim Kardashian.

So why the drastic attitude change?

If your argument is that Legend is some intellect singer-songwriter and Kardashian is some air-headed reality star, that misses the point. Look at what they have in common; they’re A-list celebrities with huge followings who have sincere passions that involve politics and in this case, both are using their celebrity status on prison reform. And despite her husband’s recent outspoken support for Trump, Kardashian and Legend backed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Which begs the question why Acosta would take one seriously and not the other.

You know my feelings about Trump.  But if he can be President, why can’t Kim Kardashian help nudge the United States toward criminal justice reform?  It wouldn’t be crazier than everything else that’s happened these past few years.

The conservative case against capital punishment

As the President talks about expanding capital punishment to drug dealers, and Oklahoma resorts to increasingly desperate measures to carry out the ultimate punishment, Sarah Quinlan of RedState.com makes the unimpeachable case that anyone who supports limiting the power of the state should oppose giving the state the power to take a life:

On March 14, the Daily Beast published the story of Carlton Michael Gary, who in 1986 was sentenced to die for rape and murder (and who investigators say was linked to a 1975 New York murder, though no charges were ever filed). Police claim they discovered his fingerprints at three (of seven) victims’ homes, and the sole survivor identified him. However, DNA tests determined semen at the survivor’s home does not belong to Gary; the survivor mistakenly identified another man first; and footprints did not match Gary’s shoe size. Yet Gary was executed on March 15.

Last year, Arkansas executed Ledel Lee, a man with significant intellectual deficits, despite discrepancies between the crime scene and the eye witness’ version of accounts, and forensic evidence did not match Lee.

In 2004, Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham after he was convicted and sentenced for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three daughters. The New Yorker covered his story in 2009, and it is still well worth the time to read it today: Even during his life, there was controversy regarding the arson investigation and evidence used to convict him, and subsequent reports after his execution have since found even more inconsistencies and problems. Willingham maintained his innocence until his death.

One innocent person wrongfully executed is one too many. One person taken off of death row after being exonerated demonstrates the government cannot be trusted with this power. How can the same people who rightfully view the state with suspicion now put faith and trust in the government to get this right every single time, when the stakes are so high? The cost of being wrong is truly unbearable.

Smoot-Hawley-Trump

A history lesson, courtesy of The Economist:

…few economists think the Smoot-Hawley tariff (as it is most often known) was one of the principal causes of the Depression. Worse mistakes were made, largely out of a misplaced faith in the gold standard and balanced budgets. America’s tariffs were already high, and some other countries were already increasing their own.

Nevertheless, the act added poison to the emptying well of global trade (see chart). The worldwide protection of the 1930s took decades to dismantle. And bad monetary and fiscal policies were at least based on the economic orthodoxy of the day: economists would tear each other apart over the heresies of John Maynard Keynes. On protection, there was no such division. More than a thousand economists petitioned Hoover not to sign the Smoot-Hawley bill. Bankers like [J.P. Morgan partner Thomas Lamont, who begged President Hoover to veto the bill] sided with them; so did editorialists by the score.

[…]

Smoot-Hawley did most harm by souring trade relations with other countries. The League of Nations, of which America was not a member, had talked of a “tariff truce”; the Tariff Act helped to undermine that idea. By September 1929 the Hoover administration had already noted protests from 23 trading partners at the prospect of higher tariffs. But the threat of retaliation was ignored: America’s tariffs were America’s business. The Congressional Record, notes Mr Irwin, contains 20 pages of debate on the duty on tomatoes but very little on the reaction from abroad.

A study by Judith McDonald, Anthony Patrick O’Brien and Colleen Callahan* examines the response of Canada, America’s biggest trading partner. When Hoover was elected president, the Canadian prime minister, Mackenzie King, wrote in his diary that his victory would lead to “border warfare”. King, who had cut tariffs in the early 1920s, warned the Americans that retaliation might follow. In May 1930, with higher American tariffs all but certain, he imposed extra duties on some American goods—and cut tariffs on imports from the rest of the British empire.

He promptly called a general election, believing he had done enough to satisfy Canadians’ resentment. America, wrote the New York Times, was “consciously giving Canada inducements to turn to England for the goods which she has been buying from the United States.” Canadians agreed. King’s Liberals were crushed by the Conservatives, who favoured and enacted even higher tariffs.

All this, of course, is history. There are plenty of reasons to think that the terrible lesson of the 1930s will not have to be learnt again. …

That article was published in 2008.  Welcome to 2016.

Screenshot from 2018-03-01 14-54-50

POTUS allegedly was advised by his protectionist advisors to impose steel tariffs of 24 percent but chose 25 because he likes round numbers.

 

Proving Trump right

When he’s not boasting about how he’d totally run into a mass shooting situation unarmed and generally being a national embarrassment, the President occasionally stumbles into making a good point.

After Charlottesville, Trump took to twitter (of course) to defend statues of Confederate generals, and wondered if activists will move on to demanding the removal of monuments to people who didn’t take up arms against their country:

…in a burst of tweets on Thursday he renewed his criticism of efforts to remove memorials and tributes to the Civil War Confederacy.

“Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish,” Mr Trump tweeted.

“Challenge accepted,” declared some activists in California:

After two days, reaction to Wednesday’s Arcata City Council decision to remove the statue of President William McKinley from the Arcata Plaza features both celebration and dissent. The council had the choice to authorize the statue’s removal or to let Arcata voters make the call. At the urging of Councilmember Paul Pitino and dozens of speakers that night, the council gave McKinley his marching papers.

Statue opponents have since taken rhetorical victory laps on social media, while statue supporters are claiming that pro-statue opinion wasn’t given a chance to be heard, and that this resulted in the council making a decision that had widely been expected to be put before the voting public.

The Arcata City Council voted 4–1 to delete McKinley, along with the plaque designating the Jacoby Building as a historic landmark, after lengthy public testimony condemning the statue as a symbol of racism, repression, genocide, imperialism and of being an ongoing, government-sponsored insult to indigenous people. Speakers offered a mix of history, humor and caustic criticism in support of statue removal.

City Councilmember Michael Winkler, the sole elected official to support a ballot measure instead of a council decision on the matter, claims Mayor Sofia Pereira allowed a “disruptive, intolerant” mob to dominate the public process (see below). Winkler further likens the anti-McKinley forces’ comportment to that of the Tea Party and President Donald Trump.

[…]

…McKinley served in the Union Army during the Civil War, gaining a field promotion for battling the Confederacy. He later became America’s 25th commander in chief.

Sterling attended Wednesday’s meeting, and shared the view that the council’s decision was taken without benefit of democratic process. He objected to the sole pro-statue speaker, citizen Owen Moore, being repeatedly interrupted and jeered into silence by the crowd.

Sterling said one of the anti-statue activists made a “racist” remark about Moore, objectifying him as a “white guy.” When Sterling objected, the activist tried to physically fight him in Council Chamber. At that, Sterling decided not to speak. Other McKinley statue supporters in attendance apparently made the same decision, leaving without incurring the wrath of the crowd by offering an unpopular view.

If you think the United States’ very existence is an unredeemable sin, I guess it stands to reason that you’d draw no distinction between someone who fought to break up the country and someone who fought to preserve it.

Here in Halifax, while I’m sympathetic to calls for the Cornwallis statue’s removal (I support moving it to the Citadel), I am under no illusions about it ending with him.  My money’s on the next target being the Churchill statue in front of the old library.

How Jose Ines Garcia Zarate avoided a murder conviction

Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant who had already been deported several times, was acquitted of murdering 32 year-old Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier, and the President of the United States is responding with his usual restraint:

 

Mind you, some anger is understandable considering that Garcia Zarate wasn’t legally in the country to begin with, and was arguably on the streets because of San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policies:

The judge in the trial did prohibit discussion of Garcia Zarate’s immigration status and the mention that he was deported to Mexico, but returned to the U.S. five times. Instead, jurors were told to focus on the events surrounding Steinle’s death.

[…]

Garcia Zarate, who also used the name Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had been deported five times before the deadly encounter. He had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and was transferred in March 2015 to San Francisco’s jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.

But three months before the deadly encounter on the pier, Garcia Zarate was released after the district attorney dropped the marijuana charge — despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for yet another deportation.

His immigration status, however, has nothing to do with whether he is guilty of murder.  Writing for the conservative site RedState, Sarah Rumpf explains why he was likely acquitted:

…The main issue is that the defense was able to present a credible case that the shooting was an accident, and the prosecution aggressively overplayed their hand. Add in a misguided police interrogation strategy and you have reasonable doubt…

[…]

…we have a defendant with zero connection to Steinle. He had a history of drug crimes but no known violent crimes. The bullet that killed Steinle hit the ground and then ricocheted upwards. There was a video possibly showing another group of people disposing of the gun where Garcia Zarate said he found it.

Reviewing the SIG Sauer website shows [the handgun used in this case, which had been stolen from a federal officer a few days before] cost $1,000 or more. You can see how defense counsel could easily argue that a homeless illegal immigrant would be unfamiliar with one.

All of this adds up to the defense presenting a plausible explanation for how Garcia Zarate could have fired the gun and killed Steinle by accident. That’s reasonable doubt. 

The prosecutors were under tremendous political pressure. People wanted Kate Steinle’s killer’s head on a platter, even before Donald Trump ever tweeted her name.

So it’s not that surprising that “San Francisco prosecutors told the jury that Garcia Zarate intentionally brought the gun to the pier that day with the intent of doing harm, aimed the gun toward Steinle and pulled the trigger,” as the Chronicle reported, adding that the Assistant District Attorney also “spent much of the trial seeking to prove the gun that killed Steinle couldn’t have fired without a firm pull of the trigger.”

This seems to be a classic example of prosecutorial overreach.They pushed hard for a first degree murder verdict, which requires not only proving that the defendant killed the victim, but that he did it intentionally, and that it was premeditated (planned or thought out beforehand). [emphasis in original]

For the record, Garcia Zarate was convicted of a firearms offence, and it will likely head to his deportation.  Again.

One quick but important note: Garcia Zarate is not going free. The jury did convict him of a lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, and he now awaits sentencing, which will be 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison. He has already served two years and will get credit for that time, but even if he is not given the maximum sentence, there is an outstanding U.S. Marshals Service warrant against him, and despite the sanctuary cities policy, San Francisco apparently does turn over undocumented immigrants to the feds when they have a warrant. So he is either getting deported, or spending more time in prison first, and then getting deported.

This case does raise real concerns about American immigration and border policies – the very concerns that arguably got Trump to the White House.  It should not be an excuse for the President to call into question the integrity of his own country’s justice system.  But then again, look who we’re dealing with.

I’ll give federal prosecutor (and veteran blogger) writing under the name “Patterico” the last word:

…My gut tells me that prosecutors were handed a flawed case with a bad interview. Once the defendant has a lawyer appointed, deficiencies in the interview will never be clarified. I’m reluctant to play armchair quarterback from the comfort of my living room.

There’s plenty to be angry about here. San Francisco’s self-righteous sanctuary city policy clearly cost Kate Steinle her life. The man who handled the gun that shot her had no business being on the streets of San Francisco. He should have been deported, yet again. But thanks to leftist lawmakers, he wasn’t, and a beautiful young woman died as a result.

But that fact alone does not make this verdict wrong. Once you understand the law, it’s easy to see that the verdict may well have been correct.

The only undeniable crime here was committed by San Francisco leftist policymakers. If anyone needs to be held accountable now, it’s them.

 

Should they stay or should they go?

I’ve gone back and forth on the question of whether Trump’s top officials and cabinet members should resign in protest, or stay and try to keep him as under control as possible.

Jamie Kirchick makes a strong argument for the latter:

…now that Trump is president, and barring his unlikely impeachment or resignation, it is essential that he be joined in the cockpit by competent, experienced, patriotic individuals, who, unlike their Commander-in-Chief, put the best interests of the country before their selfish and venal desires. To the extent they can, they need to wrestle Trump from the controls—perhaps by convincing him to be a largely ceremonial president. At the very least, they can lessen the damage Trump can do. Ultimately, it is better to have them there than to have Trump flying alone. Which is why it’s unfortunate to see commentators urging high-ranking administration staffers to resign.

[…]

…Unlike newspaper columnists and Twitter denizens, people working for the President of the United States do not have the luxury of sniping at him from the safety of the sidelines. Joe Scarborough, who transformed himself from one of Trump’s loudest media cheerleaders to moralizing scold without expressing even a scintilla of atonement in between, is calling for mass resignations.

Who does these pundits think will fill the positions of White House Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary were Kelly and Mattis to go? Very likely the kinds of conspiracy theorists and nationalists whom McMaster has been tirelessly cleaning out of the National Security Council, and who would have thrived were his predecessor Mike Flynn still around. Indeed, for all the administration backstabbing and high drama that has filled headlines over the past several months, such palace intrigue is far better than the alternative: an administration purged of reasonable individuals and replaced by Bannonites.

It is precisely when things get so bad that we want trustworthy individuals to serve. With any hope, they will be able to land this administration to safety.

If we make it through this alive, the tell-all books about the Trump Administration will be amazing.