Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Latest on 2nd Amend. victory in D.C.

As covered in a post below, the Second Amendment triumphed over a set of draconian and unique law regarding carrying firearms in  a recent U.S. District Court decision.  As expected, the court gave the District 90 days to come up with a constitutional licensing scheme or appeal and get another stay.  The District has not yet announced its response.  I suspect there will be an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District. Hopefully this will eventually get to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Based on precedent, I expect the District to lose if it appeals.  However, even if it loses, do not expect it to seriously attempt to comply with the rule of law.  As they did after the Supreme invalidated some of their prior laws, and as Chicago after the Supreme Court's decision against it in McDonald, officials will thumb their nose and create a sham system that does not meet constitutional minimums.  Further court battles will be necessary.  It reminds me of southern segregationist reactions to Brown v. Bd. of Education.  It's a sad situation when elected officials, who take an oath to support and defend the Constitution put their ideology above the supreme law of the land.  This is a problem that infect public officials on both the Left and Right.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Glocks win latest round in Docs v. Glocks case


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld Florida's law prohibiting doctors from asking patients about guns when they had no relevance to the patient's medical or safety concerns.  Docs won at the District Court level. I have mixed feelings on this.  It infringes on speech, but the medical profession, esp. pediatricians, is dominated by anti-gun ideologues.  Some docs had apparently gone overboard. According to the article:

"The act had been passed by the Florida legislature following a series of complaints from patients that medical personnel were asking unwelcome questions on firearms ownership during interviews. In one case mentioned in the complaint, a health care provider falsely told a patient that disclosing firearm ownership was a Medicaid requirement. In another, a mother was separated from her children while medical staff asked the children whether the mother owned firearms."

Shame on N.H. Republicans

Shame on N.H. Republicans for trying to enact a law to disarm welfare recipients.  Looks like some folks in the state really don't buy into "Live Free or Die."

New book on the constitution and limited federal powers

This book by  Richard Epstein argues that the constitution requires a federal government of limited powers.  Haven't read it, but it looks like a good read for anyone interested in these issues and constitutional interpretation.  I'm putting it on my list for the future.

Epstein is a widely published and respected Prof. of Law at the Univ. of Chicago.  If you follow the legal literature you know the liberal/progressive/socialist view dominates among that professorate.  It amazes  we how so many intelligent and insightful legal scholars blindly mouth the liberal line with no serious analysis and critique.  Very few seem to think for themselves.  Most law schools are like most universities, indoctrination in liberal jibberish takes precedence over education and creating critical thinkers.  Epstein, like Alan Dershowitz is a welcome relief from the typical drivel one gets from most of these folks.

Another Western foreign powers SNAFU emerging in Libya.

According to the New York Times:

"American officials said the evacuation [of the U.S. embassy, in Libya, under protective  American air-cover] was a temporary measure after fighting drew too close to the embassy. But, coming so soon after the withdrawal of other diplomatic missions, including the United Nations, the moment appeared to signal a defeat — for Libyans who had convinced themselves that the country would band together to save the revolution, and for the country’s Western allies, who sometimes acted as if Libya’s stability would take care of itself. ...
 
Three years ago, the United States and its NATO allies used air power to propel the Libyan rebels to a sweeping victory over Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, bombing government troops so that rebels could advance on cities, and even the colonel himself, when he tried to flee.
But after the revolt, as Libya’s government struggled and violence spread, the Obama administration and its allies failed in their efforts to help Libyans achieve either democracy or security. Now, with diplomats escaping and neighborhoods becoming battlefields, Libyans have been left to wonder whether there is anyone left to broker the endless fights.
The country is coming undone."

Didn't anyone in the U.S. or NATO learn anything from Vietnam Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, ISIS, etc., etc. etc., that a Western power or powers cannot just intervene and then stable democracies will just somehow magically appear.  The promise of "Arab Spring" has largely disappeared and chaos and death haunt much of the Middle East.  I'm not saying that anyone can "fix" any of these national and regional problems, I'm just saying at least, let's try not to do things which make things worse.  Yes, Qadaffi was a brutal dictator who squelched any attempts at bureaucracy, but at least he kept the chaos at a minimum.  The same can be said for Assad in Syria and Hussein in Iraq. (Afghanistan has always been, and will always be, no matter who is in charge, a basket case).  Idealists and ideologues often live in a dream world.  Unfortunately, for two many leaders and Western nations, when you have a big hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  Who were the idiots who gave Obama the Nobel Peace Prize even before he took office?  Yes, Bush's invasion of Iraq was inexcusable, and Obama seems to suffer from the same "affliction of the powerful."  We need to adopt more of the libertarian skepticism about military intervention. Sometimes it is necessary, but someone has to make sure the situation doesn't become worse for the people the government says it is trying to help.  Although he still has two more years to go, right now, I give him an "F" on foreign policy (e.g. threatening to use missiles against Syria and then backing down).  Like I said, many of the problems are unfixable, but at least let's not make things worse.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A productive approach to income inequality.

Developing and enhancing the human capital of America's less fortunate is the best way to deal with the problem of income inequality.  Some excerpts from this insightful article by Victoria Stilwell.
What is human capital? An individual’s labor power, skills, training and abilities."  Low income families and children have less access to the opportunities that develop human capital.  Differences in cognitive development begin emerging early in life. 
'Equalizing the distribution of human capital through improving literacy and developing math and cognitive skills offers a more immediate way to chip away at, though not solve, wealth inequality, Robert Solow, a 1987 Nobel laureate and a professor emeritus in economics at [MIT]. said in an interview.
“It would be a good thing, but a very difficult thing, to make the distribution of wealth and capital more equal,” Solow also said at a panel . . . in April that included Piketty. Conversely, smoothing the distribution of human capital is “a very valuable thing, and it is definitely worth doing. Thomas, God help him, doesn’t talk much about human capital. The book would not be carry-able if he did,” Solow said, referring to Piketty’s 700-page tome."

We do some of this already, but we need to do more.  The nation will become more prosperous and inequality will decline.  It will not be eliminated and never will be.

What is missing from the discussion is the politically incorrect analysis of effect of subcultural factors in various groups that interfere with the development of human capital.  Examples are, in general, illegitimacy,  single-parent families, and too many children.  One controversial theory about an alleged  problem in the black community involves  the pejorative "Acting White."

More on the late Hugo Chavez

For many, socialist Hugo Chavez was a saint.  More likely, he was an ideologue, authoritarian and a threat to his own nation's economy.  The Economist writes:
"IN 2003 Venezuela’s then president, Hugo Chávez, fired more than 18,000 employees, almost half the workforce, of the state-run oil corporation, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Their offence was to have taken part in a strike (pictured) called in protest at the politicisation of the company. Their punishment was to be barred from jobs not only in PDVSA itself but also in any company doing business with the oil firm. The axe fell heavily on managers and technicians: around 80% of the staff at Intevep, PDVSA’s research arm, are thought to have joined the strike. At the stroke of a pen, Venezuela lost its oil intelligentsia.
It was a blow from which PDVSA has never recovered."  Don't let anyone tell you there is no such thing as a left-wing authoritarian.

Geat quote about communism and capitalism

Great quote from "The Economist."
“Under capitalism”, ran the old Soviet-era joke, “man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.”

A social and economic utopia is a pipe dream.  The real question is how do we structure economic and political systems to minimize all kinds of exploitation?  Overall, the American system of regulated capitalism, constitutional government, and an independent judiciary to enforce the constitution,  and a certain amount of "welfare state" is the best way to go.  Yes, we have lots of faults, but for a large, populous country, I think we are the best model.

OT: Little known interesting fact about the Middle-East's Kurds

The Kurds have been involved in many middle-eastern crises, including the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria.  This article in "The Week" provides some history and perspective on this oft-persecuted group.  Will an new nation of Kurdistan emerge from the carnage?  One thing few know: "When the Ottoman Empire was dismantled at the end of World War I, a victorious Britain and France promised the Kurds an independent homeland, but in the face of Turkish opposition failed to keep their word. Instead, the Kurds — who today number around 30 million — were split between different nations."  European colonialist nations created serious problems and divisions in the Middle East and then walked away.  They must share at least part of the blame.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Left-wing media bias against lawful self-defense; some data


Our friends in the left-leaning media are eager to run stories about people who abused and tried to hide behind self-defense rights but were ultimately convicted of homicide.  The latest is ABC's 20/20 and the Vilkin trial. (ABC= Anything But Class). Of course, lawful, justifiable successful self-defense incidents will be ignored.  An analysis by the Wall Street Journal concluded that justifiable homicides have increased markedly in recent years and that there were 326 justifiable homicides in 2010.  It is unclear whether increased legal carrying, stand-your ground laws or something else is responsible for the increase.  The NRA's "Armed Citizen" column reports what appear to be justifiable homicides from media reports.  FBI Uniform Crime Reports data is likely to suffer from under-reporting.  Of course, this data does not reflect use of firearms (with or without firing) that stops crimes but does not result in death of an offender. Even the usually anti-gun federal CDC  has weighed in. “Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,”says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of course, this is not going to be reported by our friends at ABC.  For more on this topic see Wikipedia.

Annother 2nd Amend. VICTORY!

Another part of D.C.'s draconian laws (no mechanism for licensed carry outside the home)  is shot down by the U.S. District Court:

"In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District."

Congrats again to Alan Gura!  Another victory over left-wing authoritarianism.  Of course, this will only motivate them more to get an anti-gun Justice on the Supreme Court to overrule Heller and McDonald.  "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

This is a major victory as it recognizes that the word "bear" is not limited to within one's home.  Many courts have been to ideologically indoctrinated and reject this common-sense and Amendment-required result.  The opinion is here.  D.C. will undoubtedly appeal land a decision on this issue from the Supreme Court is long overdue.

A prior decision recognizing Second Amendment rights outside the home is another Gura victory in Moore v. Madigan (7th Cir., 2012).  I'm adding Alan Gura to my "Hall of  Fame."

Changing tactics for police officers in schools

The recent outburst of school shootings has cause a re-thinking of tactics that police in schools should use.  Lock-downs and waiting-for-the-SWAT-team are no longer good enough.

Re-evaluating broken-windows policing in New York City

The recent death of a man arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes has caused some to re-think New York City's broken windows style of policing.  The pros and cons are discussed

Another death penalty fiasco; Firing squad the alternative?

An Arizona prisoner took 2 hours to die after being injected with drugs. This latest fiasco is another nail in the coffin of the death penalty.  The abolitionist approach of going after the drug supply is causing problems for the states.  Some are starting to recommend the firing squad (available in Utah) as the best alternative. This source  is also a good Q &A column.

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.