Saturday, July 19, 2014

Prof. Gary Kelck on large capacity magazines, mass shootings, etc.

FSU Criminology Prof. Gary Kleck is probably the nation's leading expert on guns and crime gun control.  He summarizes his interests in this relatively brief video (scroll down).  For results of Kleck's latest research on large capacity magazines, mass shootings, etc. see this court document.

Friday, July 18, 2014

U.S. House of Rep. goes after D.C.'s draconian gun laws

A bill passed by the U.S. House prohibits the District of Columbia from spending to enforce D.C.'s gun laws.  It is not clear if the bill blocks enforcement of all D.C. gun laws or just the stricter ones.  If it bans enforcement of all laws, it goes too far.  Even with its gun-hating liberal democratic, and often corrupt, leadership, certainly D.C. has some necessary and constitutional gun laws.  The bill will face tough-sledding in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

For a look into the anti-self defense, anti-gun mentality of D.C.'s powers that be, see Emily Miller's wonderful book, "Emily gets her Gun."

Gun control by executive order

As part of the "sanctions" against Russia, the Pres. has banned importation of Russian-made AK-47's and Saiga rifles and shotguns.  Perhaps this move is really motivated by a perceived need for sanctions and not Obama's gun control ideas.  We probably will never know.  The  use of sanctions, and esp. the use of sanctions relevant to constitutional rights, need more congressional control.

Another Texas Lower Valley (ex) Sheriff bites the dust.

Another South Texas (lower valley) ex-Sheriff bites the dust.  This time for 5 years  As you might imagine, drug trafficking was involved.  As the article notes:

"South Texas sheriffs have gotten into trouble before.  Former Starr County Sheriff Rey Guerra was sentenced to federal prison in 2009 for his role in a drug-smuggling conspiracy. Former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu was sentenced to federal prison in 2005 for running a criminal enterprise. And former Hidalgo County Sheriff Brig Marmolejo was sentenced to prison for taking bribes in 1994." When a pattern like this appears, we need to start looking for answers.  Just too much $ for most to resist?  Subculture of corruption? Too many political hacks and questionable characters getting elected?  What role are political parties playing?

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/07/17/5975925/ex-sheriff-to-be-sentenced-for.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Time to clean up the federal bureaucracy

The VA, military hospital, BATF, CDC and IRS scandals have recently re-confirmed the need for some get-tough changes in the federal bureaucracy.  Of course, this is nothing new.  There are too  many political hacks in high positions,   too many subcultures of secrecy and cover-ups, too many politicians courting the votes of federal workers, etc.  However, we should not lose sight of the fact that there are many honest, hard-working dedicated employees in the federal system. We need to get serious about this.  Congress needs to authorize an independent committee of people with integrity to study the problem and make recommendations. I emphasize the "people with integrity" requirement. 

Two case studies: What's wrong with higher education in the U.S.

University of Texas at Austin, City College of San Francisco.  A lack of integrity among leadership and accrediting agencies is a big part of the problem.  I have been a consumer or provider of higher ed for most of my life.   One of the dimensions of the problem is the conflict between the dumb-it-downers and bean counters on one side and the educators on the other.  The former are those who only care about recruiting, retaining and graduating.  They find that dumbing all  3 down is an easy to improve the numbers.  These are "let's pretenders."  Let's pretend we are providing a real dose of higher education.  Of course, the end result is educational fraud. On the other side are the "educators,"  who care about integrity,  learning, student growth and serious career preparation.

For a fantastic and  very insightful article on student and faculty participating in the fraud, see the "Faculty-Student Low-Low Contract." If you are in either of these two categories, you must read this article.

Open Carry Victory

Open gun carry wins a victory in Alabama.  The ruling is a relatively straightforward application of the doctrine of legislative pre-emption. 

I applaud those who exercise their gun-carrying rights.  When the blood bath doesn't appear, perhaps the opposition will have one less argument to make. What the anti-gun owner authoritarians and paranoids need to realize is that the way to legally damp down open carry is to ignore it.  Many carriers are looking to rattle cages.  If the anti's would cool it and the media would generally ignore it, many carriers would get no cage-rattling satisfaction and would quit.  Many open carriers will stop once the novelty wears off.  Eventually this will become, except for the rights issue, "much ado about nothing."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another crooked mayor bites the dust

Ray Nagin, New Orleans mayor during the Katrina crisis, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Unfortunately, crooked major urban mayors seem to be plentiful. Behind every major urban financial crisis or bankruptcy there is a history of corruption and incompetence.  Detroit is the current poster boy.  Yes, the auto industry crash hit the city hard, but that didn't stop convicted former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from engaging in massive corruption.  It seems that in many large cities, corrupt white mayors are being succeeded by corrupt black mayors. The political culture thrives no matter who is the mayor.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Attacks on the individual non-militia right to keep and bear arms

As we start gearing up for our next Presidential election, we must be sure to be very conscious of the fact that the President nominates U.S. Supreme Court Justices.  Two current Justices (Breyer and Ginsburg) and at least one prior Justice (Stevens) want to overrule Heller and McDonald and limit the right to keep and bear arms to members of an active, official militia.  Authoritarians on the Left are already working on strategies to do this. See this plan, published in a law journal.   Heller and McDonald were 5-4 decisions.  They hang by one vote.  "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Error in the "official" transcript of the Declaration of Independence?


On the 4th of July, many Americans sit down and read our Declaration of Independence.  However, one researcher suggests that the National Archives transcript of the document contains a significant error.  That error, allegedly, is a period which was not intended to be there.  According to the NYT (at link)
Continue reading the main story

"Pursuit of Punctuation

An excerpt from the National Archives’ official transcript of the Declaration of Independence. A scholar is arguing that the period after “the pursuit of happiness” — shown in an 1823 engraving — does not appear on the 1776 parchment original.

A clipping of the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”


  This may be much ado about nothing.  Whether the period is there or not, rights are fundamental, and the purpose of government is to secure the rights.  Government is merely a tool to serve the protection of the rights ("to secure these rights, Governments are instituted . . ."  Government is arguably not fundamental.  Logically, if rights could be secured without government, we could abolish government.  However, the later words suggest that some form of government is necessary to preserve rights.  Government needs to protect citizens from other citizens who would interfere with these rights. As stated in the "Federalist" # 51: "If men were angles, no government would be necessary." However, government itself is not authorized to violate these rights(See the rest of # 51). "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. ([1788] n.d., 337)"  This sounds like classical libertarian theory.  If the current "tool" (government) is destructive of rights, the people have right to abolish it and start a new one. This is, of course, also a plain statement of natural law/rights theory which is also reflected in the Ninth Amendment.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Supreme Court CJ Roberts sometimes disappoints conservatives

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is not as solidly conservative as his 3 conservative colleagues (Alito, Scalia and Thomas), disappointing them and conservative court-watchers.  Roberts joined with the conservatives in the Court's last 2 hot-button decisions and in Citizen's United.  However, his vote in favor of Obamacare shocked and surprised many.  One theory is that he is trying to move more toward the ideological center to become a more effective leader and  keep the institution from becoming too one-sided.  See this excellent article from the WSJ.

46 people die each day in the U.S. from prescription painkiller overdoses

Our illegal drug problem get lots of attention.  Our legal drug problem is ignored.  According to this "CDC says 46 people in the United States die from prescription painkiller overdoses each day."  However, the experience in some states suggests that legal changes and aggressive enforcement can reduce the problem.  The pharmaceutical industry and doctors are among those who need to engage in some serious self-scrutiny. Parents need to keep this stuff locked up or hidden. 

Check out FLETC's "Informer" e-mail publication and other resources.


Another great resource for those interested in the law regarding policing is the Federal Law Enforcement Center Legal Division.  Their "Informer" publication and others are available free.  Check it out.

http://www.fletc.gov/training/programs/legal-division/the-informer/

Sign up for e-mail alerts from Americans for Effective Law Enforcement--highly recommended



If you are interested in legal issues relevant to law enforcement and the rights of suspects, etc, I strongly encourage you  to sign up for periodic mailings from AELE at http://www.aele.org/e-signup.html  They don't insert commercial messages or sell your e-addresses.  It's free!They have a wealth of information and some good research tools.  I check it frequently. 

New Congressional Research Service article on body armor for law enforcement available.


Congressional Research Service 2014 article on body armor for law enforcement available here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

When government controls health care. The VA and military hospital examples.

By now, everyone is familiar with the horrible VA medical scandal.  However, military hospitals may be just as bad, if not worse.  Both are examples of government "let's pretend facades" (see post below).  Anyone who thinks that Obamacare doesn't go far enough and that the government should control the entire medical care system is nuts.  While private sector medical care is way too expensive and far from perfect, it beats the leftist alternatives.  I once though that if we could reduce or eliminate the profit motive from many endeavors, many of the problems would disappear.  Yes, I was a starry-eyed idealist once.  The problem is that even government programs have budgets and the quality of  manypeople running the programs is not  encouraging. Human nature being what it is, the same problems will occur in the government programs.  The same personal, interpersonal and bureaucratic dysfunctions that happen at GM happen in governments. However, without the competition of private sector ventures, and the ability of government to coverup, the state-run alternative is even worse.  At least in the private sector consumers have some choices.  Hopefully the bad choices will go out of business as consumers go where the best services are available.  If you're fed up with GM go to another company, it doesn't even have to be an American company.  When government takes over, there is no other place for most people to go.  Only the wealthy can avoid the government system.  Polticians and their cronies, will, of course, get first class treatment from the government program while the average citizen will just become another number. Government programs usually get bigger and bigger.  Groups and individuals (contractors, sub-contractors, professionals, unions, etc.) learn to work the government system to their advantage and want more, not less.  Lots of doctors who are getting rich on Medicare, etc. support the Democrats and expansion of government programs. Government programs don't die because too many powerful people and interests are getting fat on the government $. Another example of public sector catastrophes is Dallas' county-run Parkland Hospital.

Cuba: Another leftist debacle


Cuba was supposed to be a communist/socialist paradise.  As in The Soviet Union, China and Venezuela, the dream never came true.  Giving leaders the power necessary to enforce equality only resulted in them grabbing many times their fair share and suppressing the human rights of the people.  As on observer wrote.
"Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would be appalled by the misery endured by Cuba’s ordinary citizens and shocked by the relatively luxurious lifestyles of those who keep the poor down by force." When is the far-Left going to wake up and see what they are really going to do to the people they pretend to care about.  Left-wing authoritarianism at its worst.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Another victory for First Amendment in spite of opposition from liberal justices.

As with the Hobby Lobby case (see below) the conservatives applied the First Amendment and gave the politically incorrect Plaintiffs a victory.  The liberal justices, following their hypocritical and ideologically-drive ways held that these plaintiffs, who had politically incorrect views, should not get First Amendment protection.  Contrary to the liberals, civil liberties protects even those with whom we disagree. 

Hobby Lobby wins hot-button Religious Freedom case

On its last day this term, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Obamacare case.  The closely-held for-profit corporation prevailed.  The Court split along the usual ideological lines.  The liberals continued their hypocritical position that civil liberties rights may only be relied on by those whose interests support liberal causes.  Personally, I don't care what the results are from an ideological perspective.  I only care what the law requires and that civil liberties by interpreted broadly both in scope and plaintiff coverage.  I agree with the decision.   Let the Left howl. It only exposes their hypocrisy and authoritarianism. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Supreme Court limits warrantless searches of cell phones of arrestees.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that police may not automatically search the cell phone of a person subject to a lawful arrest without a warrant.  However, they did not rule out warrantless searches of such phones based on other exceptions to the warrant requirement.  It was good to see the conservatives and Kennedy strengthening 4th Amendment protection in this high tech situation. Cell phones contain so much personal information unrelated to crime that the decision makes a lot of sense.  Certainly the phone presents no threat to the officers.  There may be something of evidentiary value on the phone, but there is such a potential for invasion of privacy unrelated to  criminal activity that such warrantless searches are not reasonable. There was some prior law that could have been stretched to allow such searches as an incident to a lawful arrest.    There are still lots of high-tech search and seizure issues the Court needs to get to.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Do Violent video games stoke violence?

Many people fear that the violence among young people is stimulated in part by first-person violent video games.  A number of recent young mass murderers (e.g. Adam Lanza) were heavy consumers.  The research results are mixed, but new research suggests that heavy exposure can result in slow moral growth and the erosion of the capacity for empathy.  President Obama has suggested that Congress make funds available for more research on the issue. I agree with him for once.

youth curfews coming back?

Youth curfews appear to making a comeback.  Some cities have them on the books but stopped enforcing them.  Others, such as Baltime, are enacting new ones.  As with any increase in police discretion, everyone will need to be on alert for constitutional violations.  However it may help and give parents some more influence. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

bizarre not guilty verdict. Ironically the defendant enjoyed his freedom only a few hours

One of the most bizarre mistaken not guilty verdicts ever. The prosecution should have asked the judge to "poll" the jury and this outrage might have been prevented. 

CA judge tenatively strikes down unreasonable publc school teacher tenure and due process laws.

Public School Teachers Unions were once trying to be part of the solution to our educational woes.  Now they are part of the problem many places.  Politicians bought teacher and union support by making generous pension offers and making it too quick and easy for teachers to get tenured status and much too difficult to dismiss incompetent teachers.  Similar dynamics and results for other employees  have bankrupted, or nearly bankrupted, a number of American jurisdictions and resulted in deteriorating public services.  Now a state court judge in CA has had the courage to expose this travesty.  He ruled that excessive teacher tenure and due process rights have resulted in too many bad teachers ending up in poor and minority dominated schools.   Low-income and minority students are disproportionately stuck with `grossly’ ineffective teachers because of these laws. He concluded that the challenged laws violate the students’ fundamental right to equality of education and/or a quality education.  This is a right under many state constitutions and could also raise 14th Amendment equal protection issues..  There will be appeals and the ruling may not stand, but it has finally brought the issue to public attention. 

Left-wing political correctness a left-wing form of "McCarthyism"

It's always a  little disconcerting when a public figure whom one dislikes and disagrees with confirms your pre-existing, independent observations.  Former NY mayor, gun control and nanny state advocate Michael Bloomberg correctly likens the left-wing political correctness that dominates most college campuses to the right-wing McCarthyism of the 1950's.  As you may recall  "McCarthyism" was the right-wing rabid anti-communism that dominated American discourse until it collapsed under its and McCarthy's excessiveness and disrespect for First Amendment rights.  What Bloomberg was referring to was how leftist faculty and students fought to block commencement speakers with whom they disagreed.  When ideology (of any type) and authoritarianism merge, rights are in serious jeopardy  This source, a full page article from the NYT, is worth perusing in full as it has some interesting excerpts from commencement speeches.

Black gun owners

Good, and unusually balanced (for the NYT), article about black gun owners in the U.S.  The NORC figures quoted on gun ownership for both blacks and whites are, IMHO, too low to be accurate.  Many gun owners deny ownership because it is "politically incorrect," and/or they don't trust government and/or they are not sure if their ownership is legal (e.g. have a felony conviction, live in a housing development, etc.  The black political and religious establishment slavishly follow the white liberal anti-gun rhetoric.  Yet, law-abiding blacks have more need for defensive weapons than law-abiding whites.  Police protection is often second-class in many black neighborhoods.  Further, as one speaker noted correctly (quoted in NYT aticle):
 
Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wis. — a speaker at the N.R.A. convention who has encouraged his constituents, regardless of their race, to arm themselves for protection — said many blacks were not aware of their history with guns in America.
“The reality is self-defense, and the firearm played a key role in the freeing of the slaves,” Sheriff Clarke said. “So what I’ve seen as my role is just to re-engage the black community with their history and let them figure it out for themselves. But right now they are being fed a lot of propaganda.”

Let's hope that author and law professor Nicholas Johnson is correct as per this quote from the NYT article:

"Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University and author of the book “Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms,” said blacks today were less influenced by the anti-gun views of many black leaders. “We are out of that stage where people look to the black political class as their savior,” Mr. Johnson said.' 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Left-wing authoritarianism at work: Amend 1st Amend to give Congress more power

Unfortunately this country is plagued by authoritarians of both the left and right.  The left-dominated media ignores the sins of the left.  The Second Amendment has been a frequent target of the left.  Now freedom of political speech is the target of a proposed constitutional amendment.  The hearings involve the usual left-wing crap.  Outrageous!

Saturday, June 07, 2014

FBI underreports justifiable homicides

Many have long concluded that the FBI's data underreports justifiable homicide. This article shows an example.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Judge and Public Defender Duke it out!

Where to they find these people?  The actual dustup took place off-camera.  Predictably, the judge has volunteered for anger-management classes. 

Our law-breaking President.

In the swap of 5 Taliban detainees for a U.S. Pow/"deserter?"he President failed to abide by a statute that requires 30 days notice of releases from Guantanamo.  The White House argued a number of legal and practical points, none of which justify this failure to follow the rule of law.  Lame excuses are embarrassments.  For instance, the fact that former Pres. Bush did it is irrelevant.  IMHO Bush was a failure.  Repeating an offense committed by other  people previously doesn't justify ignoring the law.  Just because others ignored the law and got away  with it, is no justification.  Although it is a long shot with Dems still in control of the Senate, I think we need to start talking about an impeachment resolution.  Where is the incentive to follow the law if there are no negative consequences for violating in?  People with power tend to forget that the rule also applies to them.  Leaders who won't follow the law, or think they are above it, pose a serious danger to democracy and individual rights. Some in his own party are criticizing the way he handled it. I would hope by now that everyone would agree that the only "change" all we got was more left-wing policies.  We didn't get more honesty, integrity and transparency.