Saturday, July 23, 2016

LATEST ON THE BATHROOM WARS--REVISED THOUGHTS

The Fort Worth ISD has backed off on its bathroom policies after objections from parents and politicos.  "Transgender students in Fort Worth schools will now need their parents' input on how best to navigate schools — including which bathrooms to use, according to an updated policy announced by district officials Wednesday."
The revised policy says parents must be aware that their children are dealing with gender identity issues if special accommodations are needed for the child. This would mean children who wish to use the bathroom of their gender identity will have to inform their parents.
The updated guidelines are an attempt to be "more clear, concise and place trust in those most involved to find the right answers for each child," said a district news release."

Some idiots have foolishly opposed this policy on the basis that the child will have to share information with parents and relatedly, the school will have to inform the parents if their child has trangender-related issues.  How awful, requiring students with concerns to discuss them with parents and getting parental approval, and schools sharing information about a minor with that minor's parents?


  Although I am in favor of equal protection of the law for all LGBT's, after reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the Obama administration regulation re this were too much of a knee-jerk reaction without adequate concern for local, educational and parental input. (Perhaps I failed to heed my own claim to avoid knee-jerk reponses. Too often if people is strongly disagree  (e.g. TX's Dan Patrick) with criticize something I automatically decide it has to be a good idea.)
 I basically agree with the guidelines, but we need to back off 'my-way-or the highway' approaches and get input from stakeholders, esp. parents and school personnel before making sweeping changes.  Let's try to get away from zero-sum, in-your-face, confrontational culture wars approaches and try to work out some informed compromises that take into account realities on the front lines.

MENTALLY ILL RAPE VICTIM VICITMIZED BY HARRIS COUNTY, TX?

Look for the county to settle this case by offering a bundle of money so the facts don't come out. If this is all true, it is outrageous!

EXCESSIVE FORCE AND RACIST REMARKS BY POLICE?

Another disturbing incident  and video involving a petite black female 2nd grade school teacher and white officers in Austin, TX--a city with a reputation is being one of the most liberal in Texas.  The woman's head was almost slammed into the door of a nearby car.  Those injuries could have been horrendous.  The police chief later apologize to the woman.  The video would have remained unrevealed but for the efforts of the efforts of an Austin newspaper and TV station. Did the woman complain to officials?  Were the videos reviewed? Were these officers disciplined?  These questions need to be investigated.

OUTRAGEOUS SHOOTING OF BLACK MAN ON BACK WITH HANDS UP


See the video and analysis of this shooting of an unarmed black man, Charles Kinsey lying on his back with his hands up.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-post-asked-experts-to-examine-5-viral-videos-of-police-shootings-heres-their-analysis/2016/07/22/47a0a446-4df2-11e6-a422-83ab49ed5e6a_story.html

Most cops are honest, decent people who try to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, there are too many who don't.  This appears to be an example. These types don't need to get hired and don't need to be retained.  There needs to be some way to weed out and/or change these types before they kill or seriously injury someone. There needs to be some radical changes in police culture and police-community relations (See some recommendations in post below). The officer who shot this man  was suspended as per policy with pay.  He needs to to be criminally prosecuted.

UPDATE (emphasis supplied)
"Authorities in North Miami, Florida, said Friday that they had placed a second police officer on leave as part of the investigation into a police shooting there this week in which an officer shot and wounded an unarmed man.
The second officer was placed on unpaid administrative leave because of “conflicting statements given to the investigators” looking into the shooting, Larry Spring Jr., the North Miami city manager, said at a news conference."

EXPERTS LOOK AT POLICE SHOOTING VIDEOS, RECOMMENDATIONS

Excerpts from an outstanding article from the Washington Post which is beginning to rival, IMHO, the NYT in quality.
"Some recent shootings of black men indeed seemed avoidable, according to some members of a panel of experts assembled by The Washington Post to analyze the shootings captured on video. One common mistake, the panel said: Police failed to employ standard tactics intended to de-escalate the encounters and take suspects safely into custody.
However, the experts also identified instances in which the officers were potentially seconds away from injury, although they may have appeared safe to the untrained eye. Understanding these nuances, the experts said, could help guide society to appropriate reforms and improve relations between police and the communities they serve."

[Here's the experts' analysis of 5 controversial shootings. Police trainers and educators might want to use this as a resource.]

“Sometimes everything you need to know is in the video, like the incident in South Carolina last year, where the officer shot [Walter Scott] in the back,” said David Klinger, a criminologist with the University of Missouri at St. Louis.
“That was heinous. But a lot of times, there is a backstory we don’t know about. And the public doesn’t have the training that an officer has. There are cues and aspects to the encounter [the public] may have missed, even if there is a video. . .
Since January 2015, The Washington Post has been tracking fatal police shootings. So far this year, police across the nation have shot and killed 534 people — a rate that is on track to match the 990 people fatally shot by police last year, according to The Post’s analysis. Video-recording of such incidents is on the rise. So far this year, 116 of the shootings have been captured on video, compared with 85 at this point last year. . .
While activists are calling for better and more extensive training, the experts said quick changes on the ground are unlikely. For nearly a century — since the Wickersham Commission of 1929 — allegations of abusive police tactics have been quelled by forming task forces or blue-ribbon committees to study the issue.
Those panels have produced dozens of reports, spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and produced near-identical recommendations. Six show up repeatedly in the most high-profile reports, including “Who Is Guarding the Guardians?” which was issued in 1981 by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and last year’s report from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
The six recurring recommendations are:
● Adopt a community policing program. Officers should spend less time in patrol cars and more time on horse or foot patrols to increase interactions and improve communications with the communities they serve.
● Train and retrain all officers in de-escalation skills, such as taking cover and negotiating rather than rushing in with force.
● Use mock scenario or role-play exercises to teach officers when they must shoot and when to withhold fire and use less-than-lethal tactics.
● Increase diversity so that police departments more closely mirror the communities they serve.
● Communicate more effectively with the news media and the public.
● Improve the psychological screening of recruits.
“We know what needs to happen next,” said Alpert, a policing expert who has written or co-authored half a dozen of these reports. “But we keep studying the question instead of doing something about the answers we’ve arrived at.”
The lack of follow-through stems in part from the fragmented nature of American policing, Alpert and others said. The nation has 18,000 police departments. Effective reform would require state and local politicians and the many police chiefs to choose a reform plan and stick with it; that would include providing a continuous stream of funding.
But change takes time, and half of U.S. mayors are in office for two years or less. Police chiefs serve for an average of three years. When new leadership moves in, the plans of the old guard are often tossed out."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

NEW YORK TIMES CREDIBILITY DAMAGED

Although they have an obvious liberal and anti-gun bias, I have always trusted the integrity of the NY Times.  According to the NRA:

The write-up of an interview Ginsburg gave to the New York Times contained the following:
[Ginsburg] mulled whether the court could revisit its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which effectively struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act. She said she did not see how that could be done.

The court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, establishing an individual right to own guns, may be another matter, she said.

“I thought Heller was “a very bad decision,” she said, adding that a chance to reconsider it could arise whenever the court considers a challenge to a gun control law.
Curiously, the New York Times later significantly altered the part of their story pertaining to Ginsburg’s remarks on Heller, as pointed out by Jonathan Adler of the Volokh Conspiracy. The altered version removed the portion regarding Ginsburg’s contention that “a chance to reconsider [Heller] could arise whenever the court considers a challenge to a gun control law.” The Times eventually restored the missing portion of the story, but did not provide a satisfactory reason for the alteration."

This appears to be accurate.  See this article from the Washington Post.
"She also said Heller was a “very bad decision.” As originally posted, the story reported that Justice Ginsburg added “that a chance to reconsider it could arise whenever the court considers a challenge to a gun control law.” For whatever reason, that line was removed and no longer appears in the online version of the article. [UPDATE: The missing language on Heller has now been restored to the article.]


To look at the changes between the 1st and 2nd version see
http://newsdiffs.org/diff/1202023/1202035/www.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/us/politics/ruth-bader-ginsburg-no-fan-of-donald-trump-critiques-latest-term.html

Perhaps it was an innocent mistake.  Perhaps it was an attempt to protect Ginsburg.  Perhaps it was an attempt to downplay the precarious state of the Heller precedent.What is your take on this?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CLINTON E-MAIL SCANDAL LIES?

See this video on Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal. It's from usually-reliable factcheck.org.  It suggest Clinton lied to Congress.  Congress investigating this would be clearly justified and not a witch-hunt.  However, she is entitled to the presumption of innocence. See also
http://www.factcheck.org/2016/07/revisiting-clinton-and-classified-information/

MORE ANTI-GUN NONSENSE FROM OBAMA

I admire Obama for showing respect for slain police officers and trying to build inter-racial solidarity, but his comments on guns are sometimes out of line, if not ludicrous (see link).
It is illegal under federal law and most, if not all state laws, for anyone under 18 to purchase a handgun.  Background checks already take care of much of this problem.  No one has come up with a workable solution to stop the black market or gun-lending for crime.  These are already crimes

TWO D.C. BIGWIGS IN ETHICS BINDS,


Two Washington bigwigs forgot to put their brain in gear before engaging  their mouths.  Is there anyone left in government or politics with any sense of ethics or integrity?  One severely ethically challenged former public official is likely to be the next Pres. of the U.S.

Case number #1

“Housing Secretary Julian Castro violated the federal Hatch Act restricting partisan political activity by federal employees when he praised Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during an interview conducted from his government office, government investigators found Monday.

Castro is among several potential vice-presidential choices for Clinton, who will formally claim the Democratic presidential nomination next week. The telegenic young Cabinet secretary has been mentioned for months as a prospect to be Clinton’s running mate. He was among the first candidates to go through the formal process of vetting by the campaign.

A report from the Office of Special Counsel delivered a mild rebuke to Castro for his handling of the April interview with Yahoo News. The seal of the Housing and Urban Development department was visible behind Castro as he answered questions from host Katie Couric about his support for Clinton, including his chances as running mate. (He said he did not think he would be chosen.)

“In the end, the American people understand that she has a positive vision for the country that includes opportunity for everybody, and she can actually get it done,” Castro said at one point during the interview. He also criticized Republicans.

The report found that Castro did not separate his role as HUD secretary well enough from his role as a Clinton supporter and referred the findings to President Obama. There was no immediate word on whether Obama planned to act on the findings."

Castro has apologized, but this is not enough. If Obama has any integrity, he will fire Castro.  Don’t hold your breath.

Case #2

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly criticized Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.  This caused an uproar among many on both the left and right who felt it was unethical.  Unfortunately the provision in the federal Judicial Code of Ethics that prohibits such conduct does not apply to the Supreme Court.   Ginsburg subsequently apologized, but  Congress needs to fix this.
From,

 
 

"Commentary:

With Ginsburg apology, Congress should look at the real problem


They also have been accused of expressing political opinions. Alito was legitimately criticized in 2010 for expressing his disagreement with statements that President Obama made in a State of the Union address. Alito's shaking of his head and mouthing "not true" was viewed by many as highly inappropriate and a violation of the long-standing tradition of justices attending addresses. Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor shocked many when she reportedly exclaimed, "This is terrible" when CBS called Florida for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. She later voted to effectively give the state (and the election) to George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore. Yet Alito was responding to a criticism of the Supreme Court for its decision in Citizens United and O'Connor's comment came in a private dinner party.
 

Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University, where he teaches a course on the Constitution and the Supreme Court.

LATEST FLAP AT TEXAS' DISGRACEFUL STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.

There is no such thing as perfect government in any state.  Each has its problems, sometimes they are unique, sometimes they are common.  One of the biggest embarRassments and disgraces in Texas is the State Board of Education.  The legislature has cut its powers and now it's time to get rid of it.  Here's the latest craziness which is symptomatic of the underlying ideological and political problems that dog the state.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/07/18/scholars-and-activists-lambast-proposed-mexican-am/

Sunday, July 17, 2016

RESEARCH ON POLICE USE OF FORCE

Use of force by police is one or our crucial national issues.  See the link for a summary of, and access to, some of the research on this topic funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).  Short summaries are available and this would be a great place to start if you want to dig in to this issue.  For the widest and most recent  results click on 'access a complete list,' then 'all publications' and sort by date.

THE DUALITY OF RELIGION, ONE PROPOSED SOLUTION

I like to throw in some thought-provoking issues once in awhile. 
Religion is in some sense like any other institution or even object (e.g. gun).  It can be use for good or evil.  They can display the best of our virtues or the worst of our dark side.  The problem is not all religions and all religious people. However, the Catholic Church has a very checkered history, and many Americans justify white Supremacy and denial of constitutional rights on a religious basis.  Religion has been and still is used by many to justify wars, honor killings of women, and of course, the horrendous violence of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.  Is there an approach to religion than can deal with this duality? A Rabbi writes about Judaism, but his approach to can apply to all religions.  See This review of "Putting God Second." for one author's suggestions on how to reconcile this duality.

Feds still undecided about proecution in Eric Garner killing

 "Two years after the chokehold death of Eric Garner made "I can't breathe" a rallying cry for protests over police killings of black men, federal authorities are still grappling with whether to prosecute the white officer seen on a widely watched video wrapping his arm around Garner's neck.
The legal limbo is playing out on the watch of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has come under persistent pressure in the city and elsewhere to bring Officer Daniel Pantaleo to justice. The New York City case turned out to be a forerunner to a series of videotaped police killings across the country that have fueled outrage and protests.
Before becoming attorney general, Lynch ran the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which initiated the review of Garner's case after a state grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo in 2014, and she personally met with Garner's family in that role. Questioned by Congress last week, she said the Garner investigation remains open but gave no indication of how or when a decision will be made.
Last year, the city agreed to pay $5.9 million to settle the family's wrongful death claim, but the push for a federal case has persisted."

Although there are worse cases, the Garner case is one of the most egregious.  He was unarmed and police should have backed-off temporarily when her repeated his claim that he couldn't breather.  Two years is long enough to reach a decision.  Putting a presumed-innocent defendant to a criminal trial for a homicide is a serious matter.  IMHO, although the officer is entitled to the presumption of innocence at trial, a trial is warranted to get all the facts out and give us some feeling that justice has been done, no matter what the verdict.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

UT PROFS FILE RIDICULOUS ANTI-GUN RIGHTS LAWSUIT

There are lots of frivolous lawsuits filed, this is one of the worst.  This case is a sure loser.   There is no law supporting their specific contentions and much to the contrary.
"Three University of Texas at Austin professors sued their university and the state on Wednesday, claiming Texas' new campus carry law is forcing the school to impose "overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies" that violate the First and Second Amendments.
The professors — Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter — are asking a federal judge to grant an injunction that would block the law before the first day of class. In the suit, professors say they teach courses that touch emotional issues like gay rights and abortion. The possibility of guns on campus could stifle class discussion, which is a violation of the First Amendment, the suit says.
"Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom," the lawsuit says. 
The suit also cites the Second Amendment, which is usually cited by gun-rights supporters to bolster ideas like campus carry. 

"The Second Amendment is not a one-way street," the suit says. "It starts with the proposition that a 'well-regulated militia,' (emphasis added), is necessary to the security of a free state. The Supreme Court has explained that 'well-regulated' means 'imposition of proper discipline and training.'"
The suit adds: "If the state is to force them to admit guns into their classrooms, then the officials responsible for the compulsory policy must establish that there is a substantial reason for the policy and that their regulation of the concealed carrying of handguns on college campuses is 'well-regulated.' Current facts indicate that they cannot do so."
The professors also claim that the law violates the 14th Amendment, which promises equal protection under the law. 
The lawsuit is likely to be a long shot. Numerous states across the country have passed similar campus carry laws that haven't been overturned. 
The state's campus carry law was approved last year. Starting Aug. 1, public universities will be required to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons inside most buildings and classrooms, though some limited restrictions apply. 
A UT-Austin spokesman said the university has received a copy of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, but has no immediate comment. The university's campus carry policies haven't been finalized. In the coming days, the UT System Board of Regents is expected to consider changes to the rules proposed by university President Greg Fenves. 
Fenves is named in the lawsuit, but for his part opposed the rule. As the suit notes, he has publicly stated that he does not believe "that handguns belong on a university campus." 
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is also named in the suit, declined to comment, saying Paxton's office hasn't yet been served.
The group Students for Concealed Carry declined to comment on what it called the "absurd" constitutional arguments raised in the suit. But Antonia Okafor, southwest regional director for the group, said in a statement that the claim that the law is "dangerously experimental" is "on its face, laughable." Campus carry has been allowed on more than 100 college campuses across the country, she said.
"To put it in terms these professors should understand, the clinical trials are over, and campus carry has been shown to pose little risk to public safety," she said.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here."

Texas and other states sue to block feds transgender bathroom rules

Texas and 10 other states sued to block federal regulations regarding transgender bathroom rules.  blogger comments in [ ].

"The officials, in states from Arizona to Georgia to Texas to Wisconsin, brought the case in Federal District Court in Wichita Falls, Tex., and said that the Obama administration had “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over common-sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

[The regulations were not issued directly by the President, but by the U.S. Dept. of Education and Justice.  What role, if any, the President played is unclear although his approval is not formally required.  Congress has power under the 14th Amendment to legislate to protect constitutional rights and has delegate some of that power to agencies such as DOJ and DOE.  Further, states that take federal money for public education agree to abide by federal regulations.  Everyone is eager for the money, but not the rules.  This is not to say, however, that agreeing to take the money waives objections to legal remedies for unlawful federal action]

[Similar hysterical fears, etc. were utilized to oppose racial desegregation and the ill-fated equal rights for women constitutional amendment.  It was argued that black use of public and school restrooms would spread venereal disease.  The it was argued that the equal rights amendment would allow men to use women's restrooms.  Both assertions, were, of course, false.

However, the case now underway has  issues that make it more problematic.  Although I support accommodation of transgender people and laws to protect them against discrimination, my concerns are as follows:
1. The regulations were issued hastily without much thought on how they would be implement and paid for in the real world.  It was unclear how safety and security problems could be handled.
2.  There should have been an opportunity for input from the states, schools, parents, students and other stakeholders.
3.  Parents have a right to be leery about school safety issues.
4.  Perhaps some compromise could have been worked out that would have satisfied all parties.
This smacks of the heavy-handedness of the feds that offends many on both the left and right. On the other hand, the situation involves individual rights of a constitutional basis which the federal government has constitutional authority to regulate.  I just think things were done too hastily. 
What will be the final results?  Perhaps the feds will back off and try to find a compromise solution.  This would be a good approach.  However, if the case gets to the Supreme Court, I predict the states will lose.

Here's one group's defense of the rules.  I don't know if I buy all of it, but there it is.  Here's a good article from Time looking at the debate.

Friday, July 08, 2016

REVIEWS OF 2 VERY DIFFERENT BOOKS ON POLICING AND VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACKS

Review of two books-0ne written from the right, one from the left.  The right wing book, IMHO is a prime example of something that should the embarrass the writers who don't appear to have much of a clue.  The left-wing writer is equally polemical, but at least has some good evidence to present.

EXCELLENT PAPER ON THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE SECOND AMENDMENT

Believe it or not, a few conservatives, such as George Will and Charles Krauthammmer, have betrayed the constitutional part of their philosophy and called for the repeal of the Second Amendment.
New paper on Second Amendment, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2805105

Abstract below,

The Right to Arms and the American Philosophy of Freedom


Nelson Lund


George Mason University School of Law

July 5, 2016

Heritage Foundation, First Principles [Forthcoming]
George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 16-29

Abstract:     

The right to keep and bear arms is a vital element of our liberal order, but its philosophic basis is no longer appreciated by American elites. The left rejects the understanding of politics on which our nation was founded, and conservative intellectuals have been remarkably uncomfortable with the right to arms. George Will and Charles Krauthammer, for example, have advocated repeal of the Second Amendment, and conservative pundits have generally stayed silent in the face of such attacks on the Constitution.

People who do not understand why they should defend the right to arms are not likely to be its most effective defenders, and ignorance about the philosophy underlying our free institutions is among the least excusable failings of public intellectuals. Conservative pundits constantly complain about the erosion of individual liberty by bureaucratic government, about the enervating effects of the nanny state, and about the suffocating atmosphere of euphemisms and repressed resentment imposed by the political correctness police. If they had a better understanding of John Locke, William Blackstone, Cesare Beccaria, Alexis de Tocqueville, and every one of our founding fathers, these opinion leaders would not display an effete abhorrence of what Krauthammer calls “America’s frontier infatuation with guns.” Our nation’s founding philosophy was not infected with some silly romanticism about guns or an outmoded frontier mentality. It was based on the reality of human nature and on reason, neither of which has changed since the eighteenth century.
  Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: Bill of Rights, Constitution, federalism, firearms, Heller, militia, political theory, right to bear arms, Second Amendment, self-defense

LATEST ON MURDERS OF POLICE IN DALLAS

Following controversial killing of  black men by white officers on two consecutive days, protests were held across the nation.  Things turned very ugly at the Dallas protest.  Here's the updated news.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/dallas-ambush-shooting-planned-thought-suspects-police-learned/story?id=40422456

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

SHOULD CONSENSUAL PROSTITUTION BE LEGALIZED?

See http://substativecriminallawissues.blogspot.com/2016/07/should-prostitution-be-decriminalized.html

SMALL GROUP OF 'BLOODTHIRSTY' PROSECUTORS

"One kept a paperweight model of an electric chair on his desk. Another boasted about being named the “deadliest prosecutor in America” by the Guinness Book of World Records and mocked defendants with intellectual disabilities. A third was dragged from the courtroom when jurors who acquitted six defendants he had charged with shooting police officers said he approached them and reached for his gun.
These men are members of a very small club: five prosecutors who together are responsible for about one of every seven death-row inmates nationwide.
Even as most states have moved away from capital punishment, the practice continues to be used in a tiny fraction of counties, and under the leadership of specific prosecutors, according to a new report by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School.
The prosecutors are Joe Freeman Britt in North Carolina, Robert Macy in Oklahoma, Donnie Myers in South Carolina, Lynne Abraham in Philadelphia and Johnny Holmes in Texas. Of these five, only Mr. Myers remains in office. But during their tenures, each either secured dozens of death sentences personally or led offices that won hundreds. And each, in his or her way, embodies the vindictive, idiosyncratic nature of state-sanctioned killing.
The five prosecutors also share a disturbing tendency to break the rules to win. Mr. Macy — the one who pulled a gun on the jury — won 54 death sentences during two decades as Oklahoma County’s district attorney. But courts overturned almost half of them, and they found him guilty of misconduct in one-third of them. Three people he sent to death row were later exonerated.
In 2002, a federal appeals court said that Mr. Macy’s persistent misconduct “without doubt harmed the reputation of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.”

For more on the reports see http://fairpunishment.org/author/admin/

RESEARCH ON LIBERAL ACADEMIC BIAS AND EFFECT ON STUDENTS

An empirical study confirms the left-wing bias of most of academia  (see post below) but shows, perhaps surprisingly, that it seems to have  little effecitiveness is changing student attitudes.  Does this bias carry over into research on hot-button issues such as gun control, death penalty, etc.  Are we passing laws based on biased research results. 

A LIBERAL CONFESSES TO INTOLERANCE & ARROGANCE

Nicholas Kristof leans strongly to the left, but he is willing to critique his own thinking and that of his liberal colleagues.  I commend him for his reflexivity, open-mindedness and refreshing lack of self-righteousness.
"Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.
O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.
“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”
I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.
“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.
“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.
“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”
Continue reading the main story
To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.
The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.
Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent."
Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).
In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican."
 
Liberal arrogance threatens First Amendment values of freedom of speech, press and religion and Second Amendment values.  This arrognce and intolerance is clearly on display in their outbursts against gun owners and those who are politically incorrect.  It is matched only by the arrogance of the xenophobes on the right who threaten other constitutional rights.

FBI CONCLUDES NO CRIMINAL CHARGES WARRANTED AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON

According to Time, The FBI found no basis for federalcriminal charges against Hillary Clinton.  The Department of Justice will make the final decision.  The situation has been clouded by the Attorney General's unscheduled meeting with Bill Clinton.  Given the politics involved, the decision is not surprising.  The whole situation reeks of conflicts of interest.  Obama will campaign with Clinton. An independent counsel should have been appointed.  We have too many ethical morons running this country.Whether or not the decision is justified by the facts and the law remains to see.  More later.

Monday, July 04, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

Have you ever really read our Declaration of Indpepence?  Is government necessary?  What is the function of government?  What is the relationship between the people and the government? What is the basis of the governments power?  Given this model/template/paradigm was secession of the southern states justified.  I think if you look at the issues, it was not.  The main point was that the Confederate states and their voters were part of a functioning, democracy, with a right to vote.  Colonists were not.  There were no peaceful, lawful remedies for the colonists.  There were for the slave states.

NEW GUN LAWS IN CALIFORNIA

New gun control laws in California.  Do they have a real chance of having a significant impact on crime without violating the Second Amendment, or are the just another example the culture wars, magical thinking and/or left-wing authoritarianism.  You be the judge. 

SOUTHERN SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES LOSING CULTURE WARS IN THE COURTS, LEGISLATURES, AND PRIVATE SECTOR

For almost 4 centuries, many (but not all) white southern cultural conservatives have been fighting to discriminate against, stigmatize and punish those who do not meet their criteria.  (Many do not actively pursue this, they just go with the flow and lack the courage to speak out.) If you are not white of northern or western European origin,  conservative Christian, heterosexual, anti abortion, anti-LGBT and dislike the Confederate Battle Flag, you will be scorned and viewed as somewhat less worthy as a person deserving respect for their rights.   For instance although slavery is gone, the white supremacist ideology that supported it lives on.   Male supremacists have a tough time giving women control of their pregnancies, etc. The way they see it, there are 2 kinds of people, us and them.  They are perverts, sinners, racially inferior, immoral scum, etc.  Xenophobia reigns. Metathesiophobia reigns.

However, starting in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court has steadily pushed back against these ideologies.  These folks are losing elsewhere. Some Southern legislatures and the Southern Baptists have come out against the Confederate Battle Flag.  Some southern cities have passed anti-discrimination regulations protecting LGBT's.   The private sector is also joining in.  However, it's far from over.  In Texas, Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton, and much off he legislature keep fighting.  In my classes, when someone took a obviously southern racist position, I merely stated that treating black people like second citizens was not going to make up for losing the civil war.  That always ended the conversation.

  Here's most of a  great article by Richard Parker:


"AUSTIN - Here is a news flash to right-wing politicians across Texas and the rest of the American South: The culture wars are over. And you lost.

The Supreme Court did not just affirm the constitutionally-protected right to abortion by striking down a draconian Texas law. It also added the judiciary to the political and economic roadblocks to discrimination. The sum total equals trouble for an unraveling Republican Party for whom discrimination has been a perverse, last stand.

The end of the Texas law proved a fittingly delicious irony. The handiwork of a spiteful and sexist legislature, signed by Rick Perry and defended in the courts by Greg Abbott, the law was thinly veiled as protecting women's health when all it did was restrict abortion, a right protected by the Constitution. But all along, Texas never provided evidence that women's health was in danger.

While the politicians in Austin regulated women's bodies in 2015, their colleagues in the rest of the South got busy discriminating against other people. Like Texas, North Carolina had outlawed gay marriage and lost that one at the Supreme Court that same year. Having lost at the altar, the governor there decided to extend the culture war into the bathroom in 2016.

Once in there, he ran into not just popular outrage but also the opposition of companies like American Airlines, the Bank of America, Paypal, Google and the National Basketball Association. Not wanting the meet the same fate, the conservative, Republican governor of Georgia wisely vetoed his own state's bill, shoved it in a drawer and took the heat. Arkansas watered down its attempted restrictions on gay marriage and Mississippi found itself in court on the same matter.

Now, North Carolina is headed to the federal court system to defend its own clever-by-half discrimination, even though it already seems to breach a previous ruling striking down discrimination, Romer v. Evans, decided 20 years ago. That's not even to mention three subsequent cases, including a Texas one, all of which upheld gay rights.

Back in Texas, the bumbling Legislature is eager to challenge Texas cities on laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, and Abbott has signed on to North Carolina's lawsuit over school bathroom policies. (Bad news for North Carolina: Abbott lost most of his decided lawsuits against the federal government.) As the writer Parker Molloy quipped on Twitter, "Ah, the toilet: the hill the Texas executive branch has chosen to die on."

The political reality for the last 20 years is that social conservatism relied heavily, and particularly in the South, on new forms of discrimination: against women, gay people, ethnic minorities -- somebody, anybody. But now that discrimination is running against the current of history not just in federal courts but in the South itself. Urban Texas, for example, is not just diverse in every meaning of the word; it is fueled by diversity. Its cities have already moved to protect that diversity.

In this political and economic reality, big business is now the swing vote and discrimination is not a path to market share. American Airlines warned North Carolina that discrimination was "against our fundamental belief." In a not-so-veiled warning over its Charlotte hub, the airline noted that such laws are "bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted."

So, what exactly do Texas politicians think American Airlines is going to say about the next bathroom bill here, when the company calls Fort Worth home? The exact same thing. Just like Google. And so on. Besides, it's already happened. When the legislature was on the verge of denying in-state tuition to college students who arrived as undocumented children, the Texas Association of Business stepped in and said no. 

All wars end. That includes culture wars. No one fights the battle of women in combat or gays in the military anymore. So, the end of the culture wars in the South reminds me of the end of the Confederacy. Yes, some people will use words like safety or local overreach instead of hate and discrimination, just like states' rights became code for slavery and Jim Crow. But increasingly, it's all just history."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON THE DEMS GUN CONTROL 'SIT-IN.'


A different perspective.  My comments in [ ].

"Once upon a time, Democrats would sit in to press for civil rights. Today, they sit in to take civil rights away. [How sad is our all-too-frequent hypocrisy, on both the left and right, on what rights and who is worth protecting.  Apparently gun owners, black or white, deserve little according to the sitters.  The other set of issues have to do with the  fiasco called the no-fly list. For more on the list see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Fly_List]

How else to describe the goal of this week’s 24-hour sit-in by House Democrats? They took to the floor Wednesday demanding a vote on gun control legislation in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Gun ownership is a right. Due process of law is a right. The government needs to meet a very high threshold before denying citizens either one.

Rep. John Lewis led the protest, which devolved into screaming matches early Thursday. The Georgia Democrat is an undisputed hero of the civil rights movement. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and suffered a fractured skull on “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. “It took us three times to make it all the way from Selma to Montgomery,” Lewis told reporters Thursday. “We have other bridges to cross.”

But the Democrats’ gun control efforts aren’t about justice. It’s a campaign to build a bigger, stronger, less accountable police state in the name of “safety” and “common sense.”

ADVERTISING

The Senate on Monday voted down four bills – two Democratic, two Republican – to expand background checks and prevent anyone on the government’s dozen or so terror watch lists from purchasing a gun. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California argued her bill would have prevented the Orlando shooter from buying his weapons because he had been on the FBI’s list not once but twice.

Trouble is, Omar Mateen wasn’t on the list when he bought his guns. The FBI dropped him in 2014 when it decided he was more of a wannabe than a real risk. Unless Feinstein wants to pass legislation to prevent anyone who ever appeared on a watch list from buying a gun, her bill wouldn’t have made a difference.

But the bigger problem is the federal watch lists are an opaque mess. By some estimates, more than 1 million people appear on the lists. The government supposedly uses a “reasonable suspicion” standard for adding possible terror suspects. Because the lists are classified, however, official assurances about their reliability are impossible to verify.

But the American Civil Liberties Union – not ordinarily an ally of the National Rifle Association – describes the secret watch list system as “error-prone and unreliable,” using “vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence” or sometimes no evidence at all.

If you happen to be on one of the lists by mistake, it’s next to impossible to clear your name. A federal judge in 2014 ruled the government’s process for hearing challenges “falls far short of satisfying the requirements of due process” and is “wholly ineffective.”

Oh, and get this: you don’t have to be a suspected terrorist to end up on the feds’ blacklist. The Guardian reports that the National Counterterrorism Center “permits relatives, including children, of watch-listed persons to be included.”

This is the system Democrats want to use to stop bad guys from buying guns?

Sen. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who led a 15-hour filibuster last week to shame Republicans into allowing an up-or-down vote on Feinstein’s bill, said: “Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.”

No, Republicans have decided to make sure people are not denied the right to keep and bear arms without due process of law.
So what would have stopped the Orlando terrorist attack? One Florida gun shop owner could tell something wasn’t
 right with Mateen. He refused to sell the killer a gun and called the FBI. The FBI did nothing. [The F.B.I. denies this]

Maybe instead of sitting around and chanting “no bill, no break,” Democrats could work with Republicans to give federal law enforcement the resources it needs to follow up next time


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/ben-boychuk/article85572547.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

NEW SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON ABORTION RIGHTS, GUN CONTROL AND POLITICAL CORRUPTION

See posts  at http://substativecriminallawissues.blogspot.com/
"Substantive Criminal Law Issues."

MISS. CLERK ORDERED TO ISSUE MARRIAGE LICENSES TO SAME-SEX COUPLES; RELIGIOUS BELIEF NO DEFENSE

"JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi clerks cannot cite their own religious beliefs to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, under a ruling a federal judge handed down Monday.
The effect of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is that the state can't enforce part of a religious objections bill that was supposed to become law Friday.
Reeves is extending his previous order that overturned Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage. He says circuit clerks are required to provide equal treatment for all couples, gay or straight. He also said that all 82 circuit clerks must be given formal notice of that requirement.

Mississippi's religious objections measure, House Bill 1523 , was filed in response to last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide. That ruling is called the Obergefell case, after the man who filed it.
"Mississippi's elected officials may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example," Reeves wrote Monday. "But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session."
Attorneys were still waiting on rulings from Reeves in two other lawsuits that seek to block all of the religious objections law, including provisions that could affect schools' bathroom policies for transgender students.
Roberta Kaplan, a New York-based attorney, represents Campaign for Southern Equality in two lawsuits challenging House Bill 1523, including the one on which Reeves ruled Monday. She issued a statement praising his decision.
"A year after the Supreme Court guaranteed marriage equality in the Obergefell decision, we are delighted that Judge Reeves reaffirmed the power of federal courts to definitively say what the United States Constitution means," Kaplan said.
Attorneys for Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood have defended House Bill 1523 in court.
"Our attorneys received the order late this afternoon and are reviewing it," Bryant spokesman Clay Chandler said Monday.
Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves criticized the decision of Judge Reeves, who is no relation.
"If this opinion by the federal court denies even one Mississippian of their fundamental right to practice their religion, then all Mississippians are denied their 1st Amendment rights," Tate Reeves said in a statement. "I hope the state's attorneys will quickly appeal this decision to the 5th Circuit to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of all Mississippians."