Sunday, April 09, 2017

FAKE NEWS COMES FROM BOTH THE LEFT AND RIGHT

Don't forget, fake news also comes from the left (not just the political rights (e.g. Breitbart)
This from
http://www.factcheck.org/2017/04/april-8-marijuana-scotus-fracking-fluids/

"Q: Did all eight Supreme Court justices write a letter opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to fill a court vacancy?
A: No. That false claim was made on a liberal website that misrepresented a court ruling regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act."

I despair for the future of our country.  Die-hards on both the left and right are locked into their echo chambers and both live in opposing  delusional worlds.  You think political polarization is bad now? You ain't see nothin' yet.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

SESSIONS SHOULD BE ASHAMED RE COURT SUPERVISON OF PD'S

I agree with this editorial by the New York Times (which the President has called 'fake news')
"There is no need to reopen the Obama Justice Department’s painstaking investigations of nearly two dozen police departments accused of widespread abuse, or the court-enforced agreements the department reached requiring cities like Cleveland, Seattle and Ferguson, Mo., to enact reforms. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that he might back away from those agreements, he was playing to police officers who have bristled at calls to root out racist and unconstitutional practices that have been well documented by the Justice Department."

If you look back at American history, the local and state police were the main enforcement arm of white supremacy and Jim Crow.  It is naive to think that white supremacy is dead in the U.S.  Sessions' and the adminstration's approach appeal to white supremacists and others who think that police brutality helps keep the poor and blacks in their places.  Perhaps this is the Trump version of Nixon's 'southern strategy.'

The court orders in the 'pattern and practice' lawsuits are one of the few reform mechanisms that have a chance to clean up the police.  Research shows that these settlements can be effective although there tends to be backsliding once court supervision ends and the agency returns to its prior approaches.
http://samuelwalker.net/issues/federal-pattern-or-practice-litigation/
http://samuelwalker.net/2017/04/ag-sessions-review-doj-investigations-police-walker-comments/

GORSUCH AND BS ABOUT THE CHEVRON DOCTRINE

Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as a Supreme  Court Justice.  He was very well qualified.  He will probably not be a decisive force on the Court as it is one conservative (Gorsuch) replacing another conservative, the late Anonin Scalia.  Justice Kennedy will be the swing vote in most close cases, as he has been for decades.  Kennedy can choose to join the 4 conservatives, or the 4 liberals, to get a majority.  Justices have been know to disappoint the Presidents who appointed them by switching their approach.  More conservative justices have moved left than liberal justices have moved to the political right.

About the only thing that seems clear about Gorsuch's generally conservative philosophy is his opposition to the "Chevron deference."
"Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s jurisprudence is his opposition to “Chevron deference”: the doctrine (first imposed by a 1984 Supreme Court decision) that requires judges to defer to administrative agencies’ interpretations of federal law in most cases where the law may be “ambiguous” and the agency’s position seems “reasonable.” In what is probably his best-known opinion, Judge Gorsuch denounced Chevron deference as “a judge-made doctrine for the abdication of the judicial duty.”  It is also argued that the doctrine impinges on the legislative power.  "Chevron deference allows the executive (an administrative agency in the executive branch) to usurp the power of Congress as well as that of the judiciary. Only the legislature is supposed to have the power to make law under our constitutional system."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/03/25/gorsuch-is-right-about-chevron-deference/?utm_term=.467af07cc793

 It's not quite that simple.  If Congress disagrees with an agency policy it can pass legislation to supersede the agency policy.  Congress retains ultimate control. Legislation supersedes regulations.  If the President vetoes the bill, Congress can override it.  With regard to judicial power, the courts maintain the power to strike down administrative regulations which go beyond the powers of Congress or otherwise violate the Constitution.   Interpreting statutes to determine whether an agency is complying with legislative mandates if ultimately a judicial function.  However, the courts have the final say no matter what. A clever judge can always beat the doctrine by asserting that the statute is not ambiguous (by interpreting legislative history to support the judges assertion) and that the agency position appears unreasonable.  "Reasonableness" and '"ambiguous" are very slippery concepts.  Judges who like the agency policy, love the doctrine.  In general, when agency policies move to the left the conservative judges howl and hate the Chevron doctrine. Conservatives tend to hate the doctrine more than liberals when agencies create liberals policies.   Liberal policies were pushed by Obama and his agency heads. Thus conservatives are on the warpath.  When they (either liberals or conservatives) don't like the policy, they hate the doctrine.  It all depends on whose ox is being gored.  IMHO, these criticisms of the Chevron doctrine are making a mountain out of a molehill and border on the naive if not the disingenuous.


"In less than two weeks, the justices will take up a Missouri church's claim that the state is stepping on its religious freedom. It's a case about Missouri's ban on public money going to religious institutions and it carries with it potential implications for vouchers to attend private, religious schools.
Other cases the court could soon decide to hear involve gun rights, voting rights and a Colorado baker's refusal to design a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding. Some of those cases may come up April 13, which could be Gorsuch's first private conference — where justices decide whether to hear a case. It takes four votes to do so, though the court does not generally announce each justice's decision"
https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/04/07/us/politics/ap-us-supreme-court-gorsuch-immediate-effect.html.
The same-sex wedding cake case should be extremely interesting and a much needed precedent to help settle these types of very controversial cases.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

CONSTIUTIONAL CARRY IN TEXAS

The Texas legislature is considering a supposed 'constitutional carry' change to current gun laws.  Currently one must obtain a license, which includes a training component requirement.  This license permits both open and concealed carry.  The new proposal would allow anyone who is not in the prohibited classes (e.g. convicted felons) to carry without any license or any firearms training. 
How many  people who don't want to spend the time or money to get a license, or fear they may be denied a license are going to take advantage of this.  How many of them will be able to find and read the statute specifying who is not eligible?  How many people who shouldn't be carrying for a variety of reasons, will start carrying?  This may work, but I think it deserves more study, a thorough unbiased review of the research and carefully thinking out all the details.  The Texas legislature generally does not have a good reputation in this regard.  The problems and complexity for both law enforcement and carriers have not bee adequately analyzed.
http://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article141353158.html

If you have followed this blog you know I am a very strong advocate of gun owner/carrier rights.  I am a strong advocate for all constitutional rights and generally expanding freedom of choice in most areas of life.  I am a gun owner and have a carry permit.  I think the current system is working very well.  Let's think about this new proposal a little longer.   I am familiar with the research on carrying, etc. and there are still too many unanswered questions.v Remember, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. .  Pushing gun rights radically beyond constitutional requirements without a good understanding of the dynamics and a few high publicity incidents could turn the public against gun rights.

What the constitutional carry folks seem to be missing  is the fact that no constitutional right is absolute.  They need to study the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald re the scope of Second Amendment rights.

This problem is analogous to the Left's push to legalize marijuana.  It is moving too fast and there is not enough good research yet on the possible negative effects of such legalization.  Further, there is no fundamental constitutional right to grow, possess or use marijuana. 

Freedom is a good thing, but we need to remember that there needs to be limits to protect the public, esp. children, and that no rights are absolute.  Anarchy is not the solution.

ATTITUDES TOWARD ANTI-POVERTY LEGISLATION


The kind of legislation we end up with regard to the problems of poverty, including lack of health care, largely depend on the attitudes of politicians and the public. Below are excerpts from an excellent essay [parentheticals by blogger].

We are a nation deeply divided on how best to address poverty  .On one side are folks, like me [usually liberals], who feel that a civil, caring society has a moral responsibility to fund anti-poverty programs. On the other side [usually hard-core conservatives and pro-business libertarians] are people who argue that it’s unfair that a share of their income — through taxation — subsidizes various federal and state entitlement programs that help people who became poor because they made irresponsible decisions.”  [Taxation is a form of theft].

The author shared some of the negative responses to her position.  Some of these are below [parentheticals by blogger].

●“Life is about choices. One does not ‘fall into poverty.’ One walks into it with open arms.” [People choose to be poor? People who make bad decisions get what they deserve?]

●“It is hard to determine exactly what type of economic obligation you believe people should be subject to with regards to the poor. Do you believe we are obligated to be ‘financial slaves’ of the poor? Success from hard work is the reward God gives us for our hard work and our personal responsibility. It is not a privilege. Poverty caused by irresponsibility is the reward from God for a life foolishly lived. There is nothing wrong with having mercy and being charitable to irresponsible persons. But we have no obligation to reward another person’s negligence by turning our assets over to that person.”  [Paying taxes to support anti-poverty programs is a form of financial slavery? Poverty is God’s punishment, affluence is God’s reward for being responsible? Hard-working, responsible people are God’s favorites, he rewards them?]

●“Unfortunately, what we have today is no longer charity. It is a government that forcefully takes money from one (productive) person and gives it to another (unproductive) person.”

There is just so much to unpack in these comments. But there’s one assumption running through them all that is incorrect: Empathy does not equal endorsement.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/get-there/what-do-we-as-a-society-owe-the-poor/2017/04/04/90556f0e-196d-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?utm_term=.8edb2f6df57b

First, poverty sometimes is the result of bad choices and irresponsibility.  Sometimes it is not.  Poor teens having an illegitimate child at an early age is one of the strongest predictors of poverty for her and her children.  Here’s a hypothetical. A 14-year old girl who has not been taught the facts of life gets pregnant.  She has no support from her family or lover and drops out of school to care for her child.  At 16 she is seduced by an older, handsome man who promises to marry her, and becomes pregnant again.  He abandons her.  She and her children live a life of poverty.  She has religious objections to abortion.  Did God intend to punish her and the children?  The mother cannot afford medical care, and the legislature has cut back on medical assistance.  The children are chronically sick and regularly miss school.  The most successful role models in the neighborhood are drug dealers, pimps, and sharp-dressed, attractive prostitutes.  Her children grow up in a high-crime ghetto and attend abysmal public schools.  Refusal to join a gang will result in serious injury and death  They are psychologically abused by their mother.  Some kids in this situation will make it, most will not.  Did God intent to punish these children?

Although there are many generous private citizens and private foundations, they cannot really make a big dent in the problem of poverty.  Government programs are the only solution, if one has empathy or sympathy for the poor.  However, empathy and sympathy sometimes encourage us to make personal sacrifices for others.  We have many selfish, narcissistic and or racist people who look for excuses not to sacrifice for others less fortunate than they are.  You’ve seen some of these excuses above.  What we are really seeing is a form of ‘class supremacy,’ which is analogous to ‘racial supremacy’.  The poor are inferior, they are being punished by God, etc.  When you add class supremacy to white (Western European origin) supremacy, it is a powerful force.

How many politicians and poverty program opponents send their kids to failing inner-city schools.?  How many politicians and poverty program opponents live in gang-dominated neighborhoods where gun shots are common?  Do you get the picture?  Greed, selfishness, bias and prejudice and worship of Mammon rule too many people’s lives, but the put up smoke screens to hide this.  Supporters of slavery came up with many ‘justifications.’  The dark side to human nature marches on.

 

 

HUXLEY, ORWELL, AND TRUMP

Huxley "began “Brave New World” as a parody of H.G. Wells, whose writing he detested, and it remained a book that means to be as playful as it is prophetic. And yet his novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell’s more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea.                 

Or it did until Donald Trump was inaugurated. All of a sudden, as many commentators have pointed out, there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news, and “1984” began shooting up the Amazon best-seller list. The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president’s repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway’s explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, “alternative facts.” As any reader of “1984” knows, this is exactly Big Brother’s standard of truth: The facts are whatever the leader says they are. If you’re a rereader, thumbing through your old Penguin paperback, those endless wars in “1984,” during which the enemy keeps changing — now Eurasia, now Eastasia — no longer seem as far-fetched as they once did, and neither do the book’s organized hate rallies, in which the citizenry works itself into a frenzy against nameless foreigners. Even President Trump’s weirdly impoverished, 12-year-old’s vocabulary has an analogue in “1984,” in which Newspeak isn’t just the medium of double talk; it’s a language busily trying to shed itself of as many words (and as much complexity) as possible." (emphasis supplied)
 
See both essays at
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/books/review/which-dystopian-novel-got-it-right-orwells-1984-or-huxleys-brave-new-world.html?_r=0

THERE'S A NEW SHERIFF IN PHOENIX

Maricopa County's colorful and controversial Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, lost the last election and has  been replaced.  His 'tent city' for inmates is coming down.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/arizona-tent-city-closing-sheriff-paul-penzone-joe-arpaio/

Friday, March 24, 2017

TRUMP'S TOADY NUNES, PRESIDENTIAL POWERS, SEPARATION OF POWERS.

 http://blogs.findlaw.com/decided/2017/03/supreme-court-limits-presidents-power-to-make-temporary-appointments.html?DCMP=NWL-pro_top

No matter who is in the White House, we need to be vigilant to curb presidential powers and strengthen separation of powers.  Trump's toady Nunes is an example of the weakening of separation of powers.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/24/rep-nunes-had-duty-and-obligation-to-tell-trump-surveillance-intel.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/opinion/rep-nunes-is-a-lapdog-in-a-watchdog-role.html?_r=0

Nunes has now changed his tune, and apologize to his committee.
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nunes-backs-down-assertion-trump-was-monitored-n738151

Will someone please tutor this guy on separation of powers, conflicts of interest, etc.

Nunes is an embarrassment to Congress.  Where do they find these people?

Related item on S.Ct. cutting back on Pres. power re temporary appointments.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/opinion/rep-nunes-is-a-lapdog-in-a-watchdog-role.html?_r=0

 Over the last century-and-half we have seen a dangerous strengthening of the President's powers.  It doesn't matter who is in the White House.

Some of the Republicans in Congress need to decide whether their loyalty is to Trump or the Constitution and ethical standards.









Saturday, March 18, 2017

THE NEW JUSTICE DEPT AND A.G. SESSIONS


"If he is confirmed, Mr. Sessions, who is considered one of the most conservative members of the Senate, will most likely push for wholesale changes and hard-line stances on immigration, terrorism, crime, drugs and guns. Democrats fear he could wipe away progress in civil rights, changes in sentencing and police accountability."
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/us/politics/jeff-sessions-donald-trump-attorney-general.html

This is the same man who lied to Congress about any meetings with Russians. http://www.factcheck.org/2017/03/did-sessions-lie/

If you are female, black, LGBT, and pro-choice on abortion, watch out.
Reforms that help reduce police use of force, corruption, etc. imposed by federal judges under "Pattern and Practice"  lawsuits may disappear.   The primary beneficiaries of these decrees were  blacks.

Sessions later announced that he would cut back on litigation designed to lessen excessive force and other forms of abuse.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sessions-doj-pull-back-civil-rights-suits-cops-article-1.2985012
I
t's sad the conservatives would rather defend corruption than endure change, esp. when the beneficiaries of change didn't vote for you. Another example of 'reward your supporters and punish you enemies.

TRUMP'S CLAIMS OF WIRETAPPING, THE BRITISH, ETC.



Here's the first of the tweets that started the current controversy.
‘‘How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”-President Trump, tweet, March 4, 2017

There were later tweets dealing with the same claims.

There are a number of disturbing things about this tweet.
1.  I doubt any prior President has gone public with such a negative message about his predecessor.  He could have made his point without the bad or sick references.  This show a lack of respect and a lack of class and commitment to civil discourse in a democracy.  Trump has refused to apologize.  Does this sound a little paranoid?

2.  The information apparently came from Breitbart news and/or some conservative talk-show.  No one of reasonable caution would rely on those kinds of source to make these accusations.  Trump and his spokespeople have refused to make public the source of their information.  It does not appear to have come from the NSA, CIA or FBI.  This is immature, class and irresponsible.  He easily could have checked with those agencies.
Thus far no source  or confirming evidence have been found by the Senate Judiciary committee. Some Republicans in Congress have been critical of the President.


3.  Now Trump is claiming, without any supporting evidence, that British Intelligence carried out the wiretapping.
"WASHINGTON — President Trump provoked a rare public dispute with America’s closest ally on Friday after his White House aired an explosive and unsubstantiated claim that Britain’s spy agency had secretly eavesdropped on him at the behest of President Barack Obama during last year’s campaign.
Livid British officials adamantly denied the allegation and secured promises from senior White House officials never to repeat it. But a defiant Mr. Trump refused to back down, making clear that the White House had nothing to retract or apologize for because his spokesman had simply repeated an assertion made by a Fox News commentator. Fox itself later disavowed the report."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/world/europe/trump-britain-obama-wiretap-gchq.html?_r=0

4.  The source for the claim against the British came for a Trump supporter at Fox and was later disavowed by Fox
"The saga began on Tuesday on “Fox & Friends,” the chummy morning show, where Mr. Napolitano made a bizarre and unsupported accusation: Citing three unnamed sources, he said that Britain’s top spy agency had wiretapped Mr. Trump on behalf of President Barack Obama during last year’s campaign.
Cable news blather, especially at that hour, usually vanishes at the commercial break. But on Thursday, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the claim from the White House podium, infuriating British officials.
On Friday, Fox News was forced to disavow Mr. Napolitano’s remarks. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” the anchor Shepard Smith said on-air. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/business/media/fox-andrew-napolitano-trump.html

Friday, March 17, 2017

TRUMP AND THE TWO STATE SOLUTION


THE settlement of Beit El . . . sits on a lonely hilltop deep inside the West Bank, between the river Jordan and the Green Line that divided Israel from its Arab foes after a ceasefire in 1949. Built on private land seized by the Israeli army in the name of security in 1970 but soon made available for settlement by Israeli civilians, it has grown into a community of 6,500 people, including 350 students at its yeshiva (Jewish religious academy). What is left of an old perimeter fence stands rusting; a new one, drawn much wider, surrounds a larger and still growing Beit El. . . .
Donald Trump has called peace between Israel and Palestine the “ultimate deal”. He has asked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to work on it. But as Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, prepares to fly to Washington to meet the president on February 15th, peace seems farther off than ever. Since Mr Trump’s inauguration, Mr Netanyahu’s government has approved 6,000 new homes in existing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On February 6th, the Knesset passed a law legalising in some cases settlers’ homes illegally built on private Palestinian property.  . .
Mr Trump, so the builders reckon, looks unlikely to put much pressure on Israel to hold back. Indeed, he gave $10,000 to Beit El in 2003. His proposed new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is president of the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva association. Israel’s settlers could not wish for a more sympathetic envoy, or a more sympathetic president. The occupation of the West Bank is 50 years old in June, and shows no sign of ending.  . .
 
That suits the cautious Mr Netanyahu well. His strategy for the past eight years has been to do nothing: to go on paying a degree of lip-service to the idea of the “two-state solution” agreed in outline by Israelis and Palestinians at Oslo in 1993 (with the difficult details left for later), but not to make any actual progress towards it."

Many are beginning to see the two state solution as a fantasy which ignores Israels grabbing Palestinian land, and the refusal of  Netanyahu to get seious about it.  Israeli settlers/builders will slowly continue to gobble of Palestinian land.  When Israeli's are a majority in the occupied territory they may permit a 2nd state to be created.  However, it will not be a true two state solution.  They may also decide to annex the occupied territory.

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21716650-chances-peace-were-thin-even-donald-trumps-election-they-now-look

WHITE SUPREMACIST CONGRESSMAN? "OTHER PEOPLE'S BABIES"



"Rep. Steve King doubled down Monday on comments he made over the weekend in which he appeared to criticize foreigners and immigrants, drawing complaints of insensitivity on social media and from some of his Hill colleagues.
King, a prominent Iowa Republican and a vocal advocate against illegal immigration, tweeted Sunday, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” to clarify his comments, King said he “meant exactly what I said.”
“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values,” King said, paraphrasing remarks he said he’s delivered to audiences in Europe. “In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
King said he’d like to see less of an emphasis on race in the future.
“If you go down the road a few generations, or maybe centuries, with the inter-marriage, I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” he said.
King, who was expressing support in his original tweet for far-right Dutch candidate Geert Wilders, predicted that “Europe will be entirely transformed within a half-century.”  This is from Fox, not MSNBC.
http://myfox8.com/2017/03/13/us-congressman-we-cant-restore-our-civilization-with-somebody-elses-babies/

See more at
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/steve-king-stirs-controversy-d-c-still-popular-iowa-n734071

Where have we seen these types of attitudes in history.  Anyone remember

APPEALS COURT RULES THAT ASSAULT RIFLES ARE NOT PROTECTED BY 2ND AMEND.




A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Maryland's ban on assault rifles, ruling gun owners are not protected under the U.S. Constitution to possess "weapons of war," court documents showed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided 10-4 that the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a law in response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman with an assault rifle, does not violate the right to bear arms within the Second Amendment.

"Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war," Judge Robert King wrote, referring to the "military-style rifles" that were also used during mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, Florida.

These are "places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there," he wrote, noting that the Supreme Court's decision in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case excluded coverage of assault weapons."

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-maryland-guns-idUSKBN1610JY
"Judge William Traxler issued a dissent. By concluding the Second Amendment doesn't even apply, Traxler wrote, the majority "has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms." He also wrote that the court did not apply a strict enough review on the constitutionality of the law.
"For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland's law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand," Traxler wrote.
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, "It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected `arm' under the Second Amendment." She added that the majority opinion "clearly ignores the Supreme Court's guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are `in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense."'
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/21/us-appeals-court-upholds-maryland-assault-weapons-ban.html


Trexler and the NRA are right. There are millions of 'assault rifles" in the U.S.  Go to a large shooting rangle and you will probably see lots of people suing these weapons. Large capacity magazines in semi-automatic pistols are used by much of the world's military.  Will such pistols be next to lose 2nd Amend. protection?


 



http://www.reuters.com/article/us-maryland-guns-idUSKBN1610JY

TRUMP AND FAMILY USING PRESIDENCY TO LINE THEIR POCKETS?



"The president’s son Eric probably said it best: “I think our brand is the hottest it has ever been.” No surprise there — nothing like a presidency to boost business. It is nevertheless shocking to see the brazenness of the ethical conflicts and watch the first family celebrate its good fortune."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/opinion/sue-while-the-conflicts-are-hot.html

CHAFETZ REVEALS HIS ATTITUDES

U.S. Rep. Jason Chafetz , R Utah, reveals his attitude.

"Well, we're getting rid of the individual mandate [in Obamacare]. We're getting rid of those things that people said that they don't want," Chafetz replied. "Americans have choices, and they've got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care."

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/politics/jason-chaffetz-health-care-iphones/

See this commentary on the statements.
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2017/03/07/telling-poor-americans-choose-iphones-health-care-solution

Conservatives are especially likely to justify cutbacks in programs for the poor because poverty is their own fault.  They are poor because they are lazy, reckless, etc.  This applies to some, but not all of the poor.  It is well documented that the children of the poor start off behind their more affluent peers, and have a tougher time making it.  The claim is that successful and wealthy are superior people and that's why they have made it.  I call this the theory of affluent supremacy.

CANADIAN JUDGE RESIGNS OVER REMARKS ABOUT RAPE VICTIM


"OTTAWA — A judge who asked a sexual assault complainant in a trial why she couldn't keep her knees together quit Thursday after a scathing rebuke from the body that oversees the Canadian judiciary."
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/03/09/knees-together-judge-_n_15266804.html

Looks like we aren't the only North American nation where male supremacy rules.  Where do they find these people?

2 NEW BOOKS ON POLICING

See the reviews here.  One is on police use of deadly force and the other on surveillance.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/books/review/when-police-kill-frank-zimring.html?_r=0
FEDERAL

1. Fact checking Trump's latest press conference.  Multiple lies as usual.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/feb/16/fact-checking-donald-trumps-press-conference/

2.  Final fact check on Obama.  Very disappointing!
http://www.factcheck.org/person/president-obama/

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ex-Sheriff convicted of obstruction

The former Sheriff of L.A. county, one of the nation's largest law enforcement agencies, was convicted of obstructing the FBI's investigation of corrupt and violent guards at the huge county jail.

http://time.com/4703076/lee-baca-obstructing-fbi-investigation-conviction/

Saturday, February 18, 2017

FEDERAL

1.  After being called on by the President, a reporter from an obscure Jewish publication asked a long two-part question and Trump took offense.  For reporters, this is not unusual and the reporter was not offensive or critical. After Trump answered the first part of his question, the reporter asked a follow up.  This was not unusual and the question was not critical or offensive. Trump then delivered a lecture and told the reporter to "sit down"   I've been watching new conferences for decades and have never seen a President be so rude to a reporter.  This wasn't even a reporter for the New York Times or Washington Post. This is classic Trump.  Whenever he's asked a question that challenges or irks him, rather than address the issue, he sidetracks to irrelevancies like criticizing the press and falsely accusing  them of lying.  One of his advisors told the press to "shut up.
 Where did they find this President-- an anger management class?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/us/politics/trump-press-conference-jake-turx.html?_r=0

2.  Trump's cabinet appointments and first preliminary budget reveals a well know principle of politics.  Reward your friends, punish your enemies.  Environmentalists, teachers unions, consumer protection, public housing, civil rights groups and others found their cabinet posts filled by people with clear records opposing those who were 'enemies' during the campaign.  For instance, the Education secretary had never been to public shoot and didn't send her children to one.  She was a strong supporter of charter schools which are opposed by public education unions and lobby groups.  Civil rights groups opposed the attorney general nominee.  I can't think of a single cabined appointee who knew much about their agencies or cared about its traditional mission.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/01/19/donald-trump-has-assembled-the-worst-cabinet-in-american-history/?utm_term=.dc98ad528e71

The budget was not totally about rewarding and punishing, but the trend was clear.

3.  The Trump administration is considering use of the National Guard to help with mass roundups and deportations.  Makes sense given the millions of people  Trump wants to roundup and deport. When he sees even this is inadequate will he call out the troops?  Use if the military for civilian law enforcement is probably illegal, and we have had a long tradition of keeping the military out of civil affairs except in cases of dire emergency.  The administration denied it--it's usual response to leaks, no matter how apparently reliable. (Remember, for instance, the Flint-lying case?)
http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-national-guard-immigration-20170217-story.html

4.  The Russian contacts/National Security Advisor Flynn scandal

For a detailed and accurate account see
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2017/02/15/trumps-russia-problem-now-americas-problem-going-away

CRIME

1.  Almost Dylan Roof deja vu'.  "
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A white supremacist with felony convictions in South Carolina bought a gun from an undercover FBI agent, telling the agent he planned an attack in "the spirit of Dylann Roof," authorities said Thursday.
Benjamin McDowell, 29, was arrested in Myrtle Beach shortly after buying the .40-caliber Glock and ammunition for $109 from the agent who picked him up at his mother's house, then took him to his grandfather's house to get the money, FBI agent Grant Lowe wrote in an affidavit.
McDowell didn't have a specific target in mind, once telling the undercover agent he might just shoot at a party of black people, Lowe wrote." . .

See some of the suspect's Facebook posts at the article., which also mentions Jews. These folks may also be Christian supremacists.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3fee430a663d4bdb8596ac8c66107e3d/fbi-white-felon-bought-gun-dylan-roof-style-attack

 The suspect mentions Yahweh which is a term used by some Jews and some Christians.
And some people say the Southern Poverty Law Center makes up all this stuff about violent white supremacists.

COURTS (Two Very Hot Issues)

1.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld on of California's most restrictive  gun control provisions. California, D.C., New York and Chicago have perhaps the nation's most draconian gun laws. ) The law gave Calif. officials almost unlimited discretion to deny permits to otherwise qualified applicant who wanted a concealed carry permit.  Such carrying is allowed only with such permits.

"Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block California's limits on concealed carry permit holders in a brief filed with eight other governors.
"The question presented is whether the State of California can single out one group of disfavored citizens--namely, gun owners--and impose unique burdens on their fundamental rights," the brief reads. "Indeed, no other group of private citizens has to prove--to the satisfaction of a government official vested with unreviewable and boundless discretion--that they really need to exercise their fundamental constitutional freedoms."
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-politics/2017/02/17/gov-greg-abbott-wants-supreme-court-block-california-gun-limits

all parts except section IV, by Judge Bea, and by Judge

N.R. Smith as to all parts except section II.B, stated that in

the context of present-day California law, the defendant

counties’ limited licensing of the right to carry concealed

firearms is tantamount to a total ban on the right of an

ordinary citizen to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

Thus, plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights have been

violated." 

See opinions at
https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2016/06/09/10-56971.pdf


I agree with Abbott.  This in unconstitutional under a number of precedents.
The Supreme Court really needs to take this case and some others on the Second Amendment to provide guidance for lower courts and public officials.

2.  - "The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding broke the state's antidiscrimination law, even though she claimed doing so would violate her religious beliefs."  Although some things about the decision trouble me, I agree with it.  Freedom of religion is not an absolute bar on government action, and should not be used to stymie civil rights and other legislantion."  The ruling is consistent with a majority of the court rulings on this and similar issues.

From a Fox News station,
http://www.fox34.com/story/34523147/washington-court-rules-against-florist-in-gay-wedding-case

See opinion here.
http://www.adfmedia.org/files/ArlenesFlowersWSCopinion.pdf

"The case is one of several involving Christian wedding vendors that have emerged in recent years amid a dramatic expansion of gay rights. Social conservatives have argued that the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the proliferation of state and local laws barring discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, have led to a trampling of religious liberties. They contend that the government should not be forcing these vendors to contribute their artistic talents to same-sex ceremonies, which they oppose on religious grounds, and that the vendors might end up having to abandon their profession to avoid violating their religious beliefs.
But as in Washington, courts have largely sided with the couples and government officials who have called their actions unlawful discrimination"

STATE, CITY AND LOCAL


1.  If you've followed politics in very large cities it doesn't take long to realize who City Hall REALLY listens to.  Big real estate, financing, and construction.  There are job and tax benefits, but too often serious needs go wanting (e.g. crime, pensions,water, animal control, homeless, etc.)  Here in Dallas, the primary effort regarding the homeless is to chase them out of their tent cities to new tent cities in some other parts of the city.  Many places, the road are awful.  The city only got serious about the dog problem after a woman was killed by roaming dogs.  The list of 'let's pretends' goes on.

Here's an example, in 2016, $26.5 million of tax exempt municipal bonds were sold for devlopemnent of two privately owned large buildings.  The feds are now investigating the deals.

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/downtown-dallas/2017/02/16/irs-eyes-whether-hotel-deal-aided-developer-public-experts-say

2.   "Systemic racism" going back decades is at the core of problems that caused a lead-contaminated water crisis in the majority black city of Flint, according to a Michigan Civil Rights Commission report issued Friday.
The report says the commission did not unearth any civil rights law violations and that nobody "intended to poison Flint." But the 130-page report based on the testimony of more than 100 residents, experts and government and community leaders at public hearings and other meetings last year concludes that decisions would have been different had they concerned the state's wealthier, predominantly white communities." . .
The lack of political clout left the residents with nowhere to turn, no way to have their voices heard."
The lack of political clout left the residents with nowhere to turn, no way to have their voices heard." 
http://www.thestate.com/news/nation-world/national/article133403234.html

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/nation-world/national/article133403234.html#storylink=cpy


This is a problem in many states.  If you are poor, you have little political clout,  Vested interests and the wealthy get most of the legislative attention and programs.  This appears to be much more prevalent in Republican- dominate areas.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/nation-world/national/article133403234.html#storylink=cpy






Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/nation-world/national/article133403234.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, February 11, 2017

4 BILLION Dollar bail set

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the amount needed to make bail.  $4Billion! This is a U.S. record.
http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/record-breaking-4-billion-bond-set-for-killeen-murder-suspect/406433155
Yes, that's billion with a B.  What is this guy a billionaire or a millionaire?  Not even close.  This is ridiculous and the  judge should be embarrassed. I'm not saying he should be released.  This amount is not  a violation of the Eight Amendment provision banning 'excessive bail."  Why? That provision only applies against the federal government.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excessive_Bail_Clause




GORUSCH REBUKES TRUMP, TRUMP RESPONDS

Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court called Trump's remarks about the federal courts that halted his immigration orders "disheartening" and "demoralizing".  Gorsuch made the comment to a Democratic Senator.
"President Donald Trump falsely claimed a Democratic senator “misrepresents” a conversation that the senator had with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. In fact, Gorsuch’s spokesman confirmed the senator’s account."
http://www.factcheck.org/2017/02/trumps-baffling-tweet-on-gorsuch/
Will Gorsuch's nomination be pulled?  Stay tuned.

Not many other Republicans are standing up to Trump for his many false and/or disrespectful tweets and comments.  John McLain and Mitch McConnel are an exception.  See this on equating Russian and the U.S. "killing." http://www.cbsnews.com/news/congress-republicans-trump-comments-putin-us-killers/

Saturday, February 04, 2017

VICTIM ROBBED OF $400,000 IN JEWELRY IN HOTEL ROOM

Guess who was the victim.  An unfortunate heiress, a jewelry executive?  Nope! An NFL Player who invited a woman back to his room and then drank a drink she made for him.  Read the story below.  As in politics, where do they find these people?  As P.T. Barnum said, "There's a .  .  ."
http://www.complex.com/sports/2013/03/an-nfl-player-was-robbed-of-400000-worth-of-jewelry-on-sunday-night-after-bringing-a-woman-back-to-his-hotel-room-in-miami

IMHO: BAYLOR SACRIFICED ITS FEMALE STUDENTS AT THE ALTAR OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM

Baylor claims to be a conservative Christian school. If so, why, IMHO, were so many female students sacrificed at the altar of the football team?   The human capacity of denial and hypocrisy (e.g. the defense of slavery)is nothing short of amazing for a species that claims to be capable of rationality.  Although Baylor is a private school, freedom of religion claims will not save it.  Fortunately, there will be a federal investigation for violations of federal law.  Think you've seen all the dirt by now?  Just wait.
See this article below written by sport writer.
http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/baylorbears/2017/02/03/ncaa-death-penalty-hurt-mostly-innocent-baylor-deserves-punishment

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

TRUmp AND TRUth


Here's the best short analysis of what is, our first post-truth President.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/opinion/sunday/can-donald-trump-handle-the-truth.html

Some  quotes therefrom. [by blogger]:
"Consider his response to ABC’s David Muir, who challenged him to back up his repeated, and repeatedly debunked, claim that millions of people voted illegally — which he insists is the reason he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes. Rather than admitting he had no evidence, Mr. Trump said: “You know what’s important? Millions of people agree with me when I say that.” In other words, facts aren’t important; blind trust in a leader is."

Mr. Trump’s allergy to empirical facts leads naturally to his attacks on the media, whose job it is to report accurately and to hold politicians to account for the things they say and do — goals that are anathema to a huckster. On Thursday, one of Mr. Trump’s top advisers, Stephen Bannon, told The New York Times that the “elite media” is “the opposition party” and should “keep its mouth shut.” Congressional Republicans are getting on board, too: Last week, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said it was “better to get your news directly from the president. In fact it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”. . . [You can always rely on Texas Republicans to fall in line with whatever conservative propaganda is going around]

"This attitude is, of course, all too familiar to the citizens of authoritarian regimes around the world — from China to Russia to Turkey to Egypt — where leaders survive by intimidating or imprisoning journalists, writers and artists, or anyone who dares to challenge the “truth” and “information” generated by the regime. Mr. Trump can engage in intimidation through his Twitter and Facebook accounts alone, where he has a direct line to tens of millions of Americans.
A closed disinformation loop may not seem like a big deal when the dispute is over crowd size, but the stakes will soon be far higher. Mr. Trump’s foremost biographer, the investigative journalist Wayne Barrett, who died this month, said in December that “there’s no check on his power except reality.” The nation, and the world, are about to find out if that’s right."
 
Fortunately, no President can control the press in American as long as there is serious faithfulness to the First Amendment.  Trump cannot seduce all to enter his alternative facts world.  He can probably get by with seducing his "true believer" hero worshippers who put him in office.

GORSUCH A GREAT GRAB, THE REST ARE GREAT GAFFES

Neil Gorsuch is extremely well qualified to be on the Supreme Court.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gorsuch

He is clearly much more qualified than one of Obama's appointments,
Elena Kagan, who had no prior judicial experience at all.

Unless some dirt is dug up, the opposition will only have ideological grounds to object.  This is how the game is played.  Republican Presidents nominate Republicans, and Democratic Presidents nominate Democrats for the Court.  It's clearly been that way for decades.

This is the only high level appointment by Trump I can feel comfortable about.  A former military general like James Mattis would seem to be a good fit for Secretary of Defense.  However, appointing former military officers may threaten civilian control of the military.  Both Houses of Congress had to waive the traditional ban on ex-military officers serving as Secy. of Defense.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/james-mattis-defense-secretary-waiver-233611

The  rest of his appointees haven't got a clue about the office they will hold or agency they will be heading.  The Washington posts names this crew the "worst ever."  See why at
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/01/19/donald-trump-has-assembled-the-worst-cabinet-in-american-history/?utm_term=.f1538bcd8fcf