Tuesday, October 21, 2014

S.Ct. to hear Fourth Amendment case on hotel registers

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to review a Los Angeles ordinance authorizing police to examine hotel registers without a warrant.  Should be an interesting decision.  I would say that the case law leans in favor of LA. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Federal incompetence helps fuel Libertarianism and the Tea Party

A according to Joe Nocera at the NYT:

"When you think about it, many of the Obama administration’s “scandals” have been failures of competence. The Secret Service let a man leap over the White House fence and get into the White House. The Veterans Health Administration covered up unconscionable delays in treating veterans. The error-ridden rollout of the Obamacare website was a nightmare for people trying to sign up for health insurance. The Republican right takes it as an article of faith that the national government can’t do anything right. Problems like these only help promote that idea.
And now comes the C.D.C. — the most trusted agency in government — thrust in a role for which it was designed: advising us and protecting us from a potential contagion. With every new mistake, it becomes, in the public eye, just another federal agency that can’t get it right."
When you throw in Obama's disastrous middle-east "policies" it's no wonder that the Tea Party and Libertarian movements are getting attention from citizens who are fed up. 

Town to mark 1862 hangings.

Seems like civil war posts get the most responses.  Here's another.  This one  about the 1862 "Great Hangings."  Here's how it started:

In 1861, Cooke County was one of 18 Texas counties to vote against secession. Fewer than 10 percent of area residents owned slaves. So the presence of Northern sympathizers in the area was no surprise.
When the Confederacy started a military draft a year later, 30 local men protested the exemption clause for large slaveholders — fanning fears among Confederates about rising resistance.
The formation of a “Peace Party” and rumors of plans to assault militia armories prompted the local provost marshal to order the arrest of all able-bodied men who did not report for duty.
On Oct. 1, more than 150 men were rounded up and a “citizens’ court” was convened to hear their cases. More than half the 12 jurors were slaveholders. Verdicts required a simple majority vote."

Defendants who were later acquitted were  lynched. That was not the end of it.

A disturbingly similar situation involving even less pretense of legality was the Nueces Massacre of  1862    .

Facebook v. the Feds

Social media are widely used by law enforcement to find and convict various types of offenders.  The material, is of course, false (e.g. pretending to be sexually frustrated teenage girl, porn consumer, etc.)  A woman has sued the DEA claiming they used her name and photo in drug case.  Facebook want the feds to follow Facebook guidelines and not use false profiles.  This, of course, would practically hog-tie the feds on Facebook. Stay tuned.

Officer's account of Ferguson shooting made public

The officer's side of the story of the Ferguson, MO shooting has been made public for the first time.  Why did it take them so long?  Cynics will say it is a self-serving statement.  If true, it would seem to be a lawful killing  under the Fourth Amendment.  Stay tuned.

Friday, October 17, 2014

2nd amend progress in D.C.

How serious D.C. is about allowing licensed concealed carry remains to be seen.  However, they are moving ahead after losing a Second Amendment lawsuit.

Another 2nd amend Victory!

This civil rights revolution marches on.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The mystery of the missing Iraqi cash (really U.S. cash)

Secret bunker in Lebanon with $ 1.6 billion?  No problem, it was just taxpayers money (LOL!) To paraphrase a statement made long ago, "a billion here, a billion there, and soon you're talking about real money"

Time for female college applicants to boycott schools that don't take sexual assaults seriously and don't treat victims fairly

One of our current national scandals and reform efforts involve how colleges and universities treat complaints about sexual assault (see article below).  Parents and female applicants need to start a nationwide boycott of places that do not  properly deal with this problem.  Given that females make up a majority of college students, it could have a beneficial effect. 

FSU and the cops dealing with FSU football players

The unbelievable handling of the rape accusations against  FSU star quarterback Jameis Winston has spawned a detailed NYT analysis of how FSU players are treated by their university and the local police. It is worth reading.  I'm not saying anyone is guilty or not or that they don't' deserve the presumption of innocence, I'm just saying these suspects should get no special treatment.

Notable Quotes [with quips for this blogger]

From the Dallas Morning News:

“We’re politicians. We don’t have to answer your questions.” — Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, to a debate moderator who wanted to squeeze in more questions (The Dallas Morning News, Wednesday) [Don’t you just love politicians?]


 “Well, you know, President Obama, it’s been hard to figure out exactly what his policy is. It changes from time to time.” — Former President Jimmy Carter, on the president’s responses to Middle East jihadist fighters (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“I think he’s beginning to see that we have to take a strong stand on terrorism.” — Former CIA and Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, on Obama’s foreign policy (Fox News, Tuesday)

[Two takes on Pres. Obama’s middle-east policies that are right on]


“It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass.” — Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, introducing Obama at a Hollywood fundraiser for Democratic candidates (Politico, Thursday)

[Don’t you just love authoritarian, Hollywood airheads?]


Should physician-assisted suicide be a crime?

Physician-assisted suicide is a crime in most states. However, many argue that in carefully controlled situations it shouldn't be.  See the debate at this NYT article

Defining consent/lack of consent in rape cases

A number of states and experts are considering changes to the definition of lack of consent/consent in sexual assault cases.  A good discussion of this and related issues is at this NYT article. According to the NYT:

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  • "LAST month it was California, this month New York. States across the country are trying to figure out how to address the problem of sexual assault more effectively, and more often than not, they are looking to redefine the scope of sexual misconduct.
    California’s new law requires universities receiving state funding to switch from a “no means no” approach to a “yes means yes” standard, requiring partners to make an “affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” before having sex, and making clear that silence or a lack of resistance cannot be interpreted as consent."

    Friday, October 03, 2014

    TX State Board of Education and the Civil War

    Texans must be sick of the constant fighting by the State Board of Education over the content of texts for public schools.  If only they spent this much energy on trying to improve education.  Given that we are in the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and in an effort to get some comments going, I offer the following. One the many controversial issues in texts involves the causes of the civil war.   According to the Dallas Morning News, SMU historian Edward Countryman concluded:
    “The combination of incoherence, poor construction and attempted indoctrination is clear” in several of the books, Countryman said.
    For example, he said, some of the history books closely follow the state board’s curriculum requirement that the causes of the Civil War be taught in this order: sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery. 
    “Any serious historian knows that slavery was the fundamental driving issue of the war,” Countryman said."
    What's your take on the Civil War?  What factor should be #1?

    TIH: OJ acquited

    After a long and widely televised/publicized trial OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder.  The verdict was both praised and criticized.  Some argued that the verdict represented disgust with LAPD.  Of course, OJ is now in prison on new charges

    U.S. Supreme Court to hear 4th Amend traffic stop case

    My guess is that the Court will rule that a mistake of law does not spoil reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop as long as it is "objectively reasonable."  This result is consistent with prior law

    Interesting freedom of religion lawsuit/establishment clause lawsuit.

    Interesting freedom of religion lawsuit.  Toll-taker ordered not to say "God Bless You" to toll-payers.
    For better or worse, public employee on-the-job behavior does not usually get full First Amendment protection. 

    2nd Amend victory for a vet

    Glad to see our vets getting the respect they deserve.

    2nd Amend case against U.S.P.S.

    I don't see this as an especially strong case for plaintiffs, but I wish them luck.

    Thursday, October 02, 2014

    Ethical outrage in Texas

    Audit reveals how millions of dollars given to those who never filed an application. Totally outrageous.  The good ol' boy system at its worst.  At least for Texas, it doesn't look like the Repubs are any more reliable than the Dems.  I suspect this is the case nationwide as the parties give so much money to their candidates that the parties, in effect, own them.  We need more good independent candidates. We also need to carefully consider 3rd party candidates, e.g., Libertarian and Tea Party.  Let's hope these parties don't become the self-serving and dysfunctional like the two major parties.

    Has the libertarian moment finally arrived?

    See the NYT take on this issue.

    Interesting upcoming Supreme Court case

    The Supreme Court is getting ready to start up a new term.  Thus far, it has only decided to hear a few cases.  More will be added.  One of the more interesting new cases thus far is Warger v. Schauers involving a civil suit.  According to the NYT (see link): " The question for the Supreme Court in the South Dakota case, Warger v. Schauers, No. 13-517, is in a way quite modest. It is not whether Mr. Warger deserves a new trial but only whether he can rely on evidence from inside the jury room to try to get one. Courts have generally refused to allow such evidence on appeal. 

    Second Amendment challenge to D.C.'s new gun laws

    As expected, D.C.'s newest gun laws have been challenged.  It looks like D.C. really doesn't want to seriously respect the Second Amendment.  "Federal judges have upheld similar “may-issue” discretionary laws in Maryland and New Jersey, but an appeals court recently struck down a California law."  This one could go either way.

    Libertarianism: A Primer

    There is much I like about libertarianism.  However, I have doubts about some things, and thus label myself a "cautious libertarian." (See the link to "My philosophy" under "Additional Info." on the right side of the front page.) If you are interested in libertarian theory I strongly recommend "Libertarianism: A Primer" by David Boaz on the Cato Institute.  It's relatively short paperback (314 pp.)  with an index, suggestions for further reading and a test to determine if you are a "libertarian."
    As with all primers, differences among theorists are sometimes ignored and complexities are glossed over.  But it's a great starting spot.  Not all "libertarians" may agree. If you don't, recommend a basic book for beginners.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Most illegal immigrants released in U.S. skip hearings

    Surprise, surprise.  This has been going on for years. Immigrant-rights leaders say it's a "communication problem."  The feds refuse to release the figures.  No wonder so many people are fed up with the way we handle illegal immigration. Another example of the "let's pretend" game.

    FBI criticizes Google and Apple for phone encryption

    The moves by Google and Apple to protect the communications of their users have been widely criticized by law enforcement.   I say good for Apple and Google!

    Colleges abandon academic rigor for amenities to bring in students.

    Some excerpts from the full article are below:

    “No film more deftly portrays college-age ennui than Mike Nichols’s classic 1967 movie, “The Graduate.”

    “What are you doing?” Benjamin Braddock’s father demands of his son, who’s been spending his time since school lying on an air mattress in the backyard pool. “Well,” Benjamin replies, “I would say that I’m just drifting, here in the pool.” “Why?” Dad insists. “Well,” says Ben, “it’s very comfortable — just to drift

    And so it is. Since 1967, all that’s changed about drifting endlessly in a pool is that now you can do it on campus while you’re still a student.”
    "It’s all part of the trend toward competing for enrollment based on student “amenities,” whether lazy rivers or elaborate dining facilities. As of late 2012, 92 schools had embarked on 157 recreational capital projects, at a total cost of $1.7 billion, according to Simon Bravo, a spokesman for NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation (formerly the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association).
    Just one question: Is this the best use of scarce resources, given that these facilities are ultimately underwritten by tuition and by federal and state taxpayer funding — and that colleges are supposed to be, you know, educational institutions?"

    "What Arum and Roksa did not find  [in their research titled "Academically adrift"] was a lot of learning. Their first results, published in 2011, showed that students improved hardly at all in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing during their first two years of college. This was not surprising, given that 36 percent of students spent just five hours a week on solo study yet received a B-plus average for this modest effort."

    Wall Street top execs remain legally untouchable

    Anyone who thought that the de facto immunity from criminal prosecution for fraud, and other white collar violations of Wall Street big-wigs would disappear with the Obama administration has to be sorely disappointed.  With Holder stepping down, his record on this needs to be re-examined.  One would have thought the revelations that came out of the recent economic disaster might have spurred action. 

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    More left-wing mania from Venzuela: "Our Chavez who art in heaven"

    Perhaps the next step is a Crusade to stamp out capitalism.  Who are these people?  Neither the left nor right needs to get this far into la-la land.

    Cato Institute's 2013-14 Supreme Court Review

    The Cato Institute's writers takes on the recent U.S. Supreme Court's term is here.  As many of you know, the Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank.  Check out their website and materials if you haven't already done so.