Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Inexcusable self-delusion and ignorance in Texas' public school history curriculum

As a retired educator, this kind of stuff makes my blood boil.

"Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.
And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.
Slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War,” said Pat Hardy, a Republican board member, when the board adopted the standards in 2010. “There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”  .

In one sense, he's correct it was the right of states to authorize one human being to own another human being. Now that's something of which to be proud!  Where did Gov. Perry find these people?
At a KKK rally?  I bet the Klan is mad about being left out of the books.  They're actually proud of their arsons, assaults, murders and lynching.

There's more: "Students in Texas are required to read the speech Jefferson Davis gave when he was inaugurated president of the Confederate States of America, an address that does not mention slavery. But students are not required to read a famous speech by Alexander Stephens, Davis’s vice president, in which he explained that the South’s desire to preserve slavery was the cornerstone of its new government and “the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

"Historians acknowledge that disagreements over states’ rights played a role in the Civil War. But the states’ rights issue was inseparable from slavery, they say: The right that states in the South were seeking to protect, after all, was the right to buy and sell people.
Southern states made that clear in their declarations of independence from the union, said James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association. Slavery’s primary role in driving the Civil War is a matter of scholarly consensus, he said.
“The War happened only because of the determination of the leadership of eleven states to defend the right of their residents to own other human beings,” Grossman wrote in an e-mail. “The Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery.”
Hardy, the Texas state board member who said the war was not about slavery, did not respond to requests for comment. The board’s chair, Donna Bahorich, also did not respond to a request for comment."
See the full article here.

From another article on the same topic: "Historians have soundly rejected the “states’ rights” argument as historical revisionism promoted by Confederate heroes and apologists after the war."

I suspect that in Iran the curriculum maintains that the Holocaust never happened. 

Amazing story of human hope and determination during the Civil War

Free black man, avoids being enslaved.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

$200 million dollar public education program fails.

If you are interested in America's children, their and our future, economic inequality and related topics, there are few topics more frustrating than the failures of America's education system, from K-12 to the university level.  The problems are most acute in big cities with large minority populations (e.g., Dallas, TX, Newark, NJ)  $200 million was donated to try to improve Newark N.J. public schools.  Although there are some bright spots, the effort largely failed.  Why?  This book suggests a number of reasons including politics, egos, and a failure to involve parents and teachers.  I suggest another, the failure to understand the families and environments of poor, black urban children.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Remember the agreement with N. Korea re nuclear weaons

It's amazing that no one in the media appears to want to talk about our last major venture into an agreement with a country to keep them from getting nuclear weapons.  Remember N. Korea.  There is some blame on both sides, but didn't we learn anything from this.  Assuming the Iran agreement is ultimately approved by both sides, will Republican opposition once Obama leaves office sabotage the deal?  Will the whole thing then fall apart and the Iranians will emerge (as did the
My take on this is that the whole show is a sham.  (a post on this later). The Iranians have no intent of giving up their quest for the bomb.  The Obama administration is  desperate for a foreign policy 'victory' and naively hope that the Israelis will go along with the charade. The administration naively hopes  that the next generation of Iranians and Iranian leadership will give up Muslim extremism and the problem will somehow disappear.  They also hope that even if Iran gets the bomb, the MAD  (mutual assured destruction) principle will keep them from using it.  Keep  your fingers crossed!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Racial Discrimination in Jury selection.

The issue of racial discrimination in criminal trials is again getting attention.  Having been both a defense attorney and prosecutor I can tell you that neither side uses its peremptory challenges directly to insure an unbiased jury.  Challenges are used to  get rid of anyone who might be biased in favor of the other side. Prosecutor's often fear that black jurors are more likely to identify with the defendant or have had bad experiences with the police. The theory is that the net result is an unbiased jury.  This doesn't always work.  
According to the Dallas Morning News:

"Racial discrimination during jury selection plagued the Dallas County district attorney’s office for years, The Dallas Morning News reported during a series of stories in March 1986. The U.S. Supreme Court cited The News’ work in a 1986 decision, Batson vs. Kentucky.
The News reported that a 1963 treatise by a Dallas County prosecutor recommended against permitting “Jews, Negroes, Dagos and Mexicans or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or how well educated.”

Racial discrimination during jury selection plagued the Dallas County district attorney’s office for years, The Dallas Morning News reported during a series of stories in March 1986. The U.S. Supreme Court cited The News’ work in a 1986 decision, Batson vs. Kentucky.
The News reported that a 1963 treatise by a Dallas County prosecutor recommended against permitting “Jews, Negroes, Dagos and Mexicans or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or how well educated.”

Remember, however, not every strike of a black juror is motivated by prejudice.  There are often neutral reasons (e.g., is a neighbor of the defendant). 

TIH: Aug 17, 1915--Leo Frank lynched in Atlanta

See this article from Wikipedia

Review of top US Supreme Court cases 2014-15

From the NYT.

Comic strip says it better than I ever could.

Although the author of this strip leans left, he sometimes actually hits the nail on the head.  They say  a picture is worth a thousand words. A comic strip should be worth a book. This strip mocks the Texas Education department's official curriculum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rookie Cop fired for killing unarmed black male

This officer, who was on patrol with his training officer, was fired for shooting and killing an unarmed, black male college student.  Criminal charges are possible.

New CA law helps promote transparency in police killing cases

CA Governor “Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday a measure that prohibits grand juries (which meet in secret and have secret proceedings) to decide whether to charge officers in cases involving excessive or deadly force by law enforcement, and another affirming the public’s right to take audio or video recordings of police officers.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) offered the grand juries measure in response to high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, where grand juries declined to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.

Mitchell said her bill, SB 227, would help make judicial proceedings more transparent and accountable. Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties already have opted not to use grand juries when an officer's actions may have caused someone's death.”  The decision to charge the officer would be made by the prosecutor

Both these measures should help insure more transparency and public confidence.

Final Report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing

The Final Report (May, 2105) of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing is available.  There is surprisingly little on the use of deadly force.  Transparency, policy and training are stressed.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

LAPD cleaned up

LAPD had a reputation of being one of the nation's worst.  This book, Blue, by Joe Domanick claims the PD has straightened up.  He gives much of the credit to former NYPD Chief  William Bratton (who left LAPD in 2009).  There are a number interesting points.  One regards the O.J. Simpson trial.
"Domanick gets everything right. His brief portrait of the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, for example, is a valuable corrective. O.J.’s lawyer Johnnie Cochran was no racial show boater, though the national media treated him like some sort of West Coast Al Sharpton. Cochran was a brilliant and highly respected local attorney who made his reputation trying police-abuse cases. “He knew what black jurors knew deep in their bones,” Domanick writes, “that racism, planting evidence, shading the truth and lying in court had been part of the Los Angeles Police Department’s modus operandi throughout its history.” The trial was always about the dysfunctional L.A.P.D., never O.J."

Bratton cleaned house, got serious about 'community policing,' disciplined, trained and provided positive leadership.Somewhat surprisingly,  Bratton did this without abandoning aggressive stop and frisk and broken windows policing.  He just made sure that it was done fairly and without bias.  There's a saying that "it all starts at the top."   Personally, I thought LAPD was too big and too corrupt to ever clean itself up.  I'm glad I was wrong.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Huge city payouts for police misconduct

The increased availability of video evidence in police misconduct cases led led to huge increases in city pay-outs for claims against police. Payouts are largest, as you might expect, when someone dies.  Video, whether it's by smart phones or police cams, is changing the legal environment, public attitudes, etc.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Police officer slain, suspect arrested

With all the attention given to police killing of suspects, let's not forget about the danger officers face and the officers who are killed by suspects.  This officer was from Memphis. RIP

Saturday, August 01, 2015

College Cops Getting Scrutiny

College/University PD's get little attention--until something goes radically wrong, such as an off-campus fatal shooting of an unarmed black male during a traffic stop.  What is this campus cop doing off-campus doing traffic stops?

Friday, July 31, 2015

University Police Officer indicted for murder

A university of Cincinnati police officer has been indicted, arrested and released on bail for the alleged murder in the death of an apparently unarmed black male during a traffic stop.  This appears to the first recent case involving an alleged murder by a university  police officer.

Video and the police excessive force issue

Video has been a game changer in the debate over excessive police violence, indictments, public opinion and pressure, etc.  See examples at this NYT site.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Failing Background Check system for gun sales

Another incident (Lafayette LA theater murders) where a person who apparently should not have gotten approval to buy a gun. There are lots of problems, many at the state level.  Let's focus on fixing this before we start on new systems which probably will not work either and will probably not  significantly diminish gun crime.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Correctional Officer Beaten to Death by Inmate

 We are all well aware of the dangers to police officers.  Corrections and correctional officers get much  less media attention.  However the dangers are real.
"A corrections officer escorting an inmate to his cell was beaten to death Wednesday at a far northeast Texas prison, Department of Criminal Justice officials said.
The officer was escorting the inmate from a dayroom at the Telford Unit when he was attacked with an object, prison agency spokesman Jason Clark said. Officials did not immediately identify the weapon.
"It's still under investigation," Clark said.
The officer, Timothy Davison, 47, was taken to a hospital in Texarkana, about 20 miles east of the prison, where he died, Clark said. Davison, who lived near the prison, had been with the agency since December."  RIP

Corruption in Chicago investigations of Pd use of force reviews

In Chicago, one of America's most corrupt cities, an "investigator with seven years on Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority — who previously served 23 years as a cop, detective and commander — was fired because he refused to reverse his conclusions into several police shootings of civilians, reports WBEZ after a review of agency records." It's  no wonder that many supposed remedies do not work.  You can't let the foxes and their sympathizers control the hen house.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Supreme Court criticism & reform and Ox-Goring

Almost all critique of the Supreme Court and calls for 'reform' come from someone who just took a major hit in America's culture wars.  The left-leaning New York Times is one of the worst examples.  Disappointament in the result is cloaked in meritless 'legalistic' arguments.  The Left screamed bloody murder when the Court held that individuals not connected to a militia had a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  The Right has a major melt-down when the Court upheld Obamacare twice and supported legal gay marriage.  Personally,  I don't go apoplectic when I disagree on the big cases.  Yes, the Court oversteps when it makes policy decisions in the guise of judging.  But let's apply that critique even when we win.  Whether it's politics or jurisprudence, every side takes its lumps occasionally.   I try to avoid the sour grapes and get over it.  The Court changes and you can't win them all.  Hang in there to fight another day!  As Jonathan Zimmerman wrote:

"So let’s suppose that the Supreme Court had struck down Obamacare and same-sex marriage last month instead of upholding both. Would Texas Sen. and presidential aspirant Ted Cruz be demanding a constitutional amendment requiring the Court’s justices to stand for election in order to keep their jobs? And would liberals be rallying to the defense of the Court, and condemning any effort to alter its supposedly august traditions?
Of course not. Throughout our political history, the team that loses in the Supreme Court has tried to alter the court’s power and influence. This battle isn’t about deep judicial principles or timeless heritage; it’s about whose ox gets gored."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Grand juror bias in Waco biker killings case

The grand jury for the Waco mass-murder biker shoot-out includes an active-duty Waco detective with 26 years experience.  The "judge" doesn't see any problems  The judge thinks stated ''Who is better qualified in criminal law than someone who practices it all the time." Where to they find these judges? In murder cases, even the appearance of impropriety is unacceptable.

More public corruption in South Texas

Corruption is rampant in South Texas.   In this incident, a judge and prosecutor were convicted of helping a convicted murderer flee.  The defendant was later recaptured.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ex-Deputy faces trial in OK shooting

"A former Oklahoma volunteer sheriff's deputy who fatally shot an unarmed man faces arraigned on a second-degree manslaughter charge.
Former Tulsa County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy Robert Bates is scheduled to appear Monday in Tulsa district court.
Bates has pleaded not guilty in the April 2 shooting death of Eric Harris, saying he confused his stun gun and handgun.
After the shooting and a leaked memo from 2009 that raised concerns about Bates' training, a judge ordered a grand jury to investigate whether reserve deputies who gave donations to the sheriff have been given special treatment. Thousands of residents signed a petition to empanel the grand jury, which convenes July 20.
Bates donated thousands of dollars in cash and equipment to the agency and was the sheriff's campaign manager."
Two promising developments which will hopefully illuminate the truth regarding this travesty.

More on the Roof gun purchase fiasco

"A jail clerk made a mistake when entering information about the location of a drug arrest for church shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof, the first in a series of missteps that allowed Roof to purchase a gun he shouldn’t have been able to buy two months before the attack, authorities said." See also post on this topic below.

Pres. Obama commutes 46 non-violent drug offenders

Pres. Obama "on Monday commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders, more than double the number of commutations he granted earlier this year, as part of his effort to reform the criminal justice system."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gun Sale to Roof Should Not have been approved

" The gunman charged in the Charleston, S.C., church massacre should not have been allowed to purchase the weapon used in the attack, FBI Director James Comey said Friday as he outlined a series of "heartbreaking" missed opportunities and background check flaws that allowed the transaction to take place. . . .Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, condemned the errors.
"It's disastrous that this bureaucratic mistake prevented existing laws from working and blocking an illegal gun sale," Grassley said. "The facts undercut attempts to use the tragedy to enact unnecessary gun laws." . . .
Loopholes have been discovered before in the FBI’s background check system, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. One allowed thousands of prohibited buyers to legally purchase firearms over the past decade — and some of those weapons were ultimately used in crimes, according to court records and government documents.
After a 2007 shooting in which 33 people died at Virginia Tech University, investigators discovered that the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, also should not have been able to buy a gun because a court had declared him to be a danger to himself. The shooting led to legislation aimed at improving the system."

We do not need new gun control laws.  They will not reduce crime and will only interfere with legitimate users Second Amendment and self-defense rights.  We need competent, conscientious enforcement of existing laws to see if they work before we even start thinking about new ones.
Politicians like to appear to have answers and solutions.  They pass laws and then do not make sure they are administered competently.  Rather than adequately funding enforcement of old laws or taking steps to see that they work, new laws are touted. Of course  authoritarian gun control advocates don't care about anything other than new gun laws.   "Experimentation" cannot be justified when fundamental constitutional and natural law rights are threatened.

Friday, July 10, 2015

S.C. and Rand Paul approve banning Confederate Battle flag.

As most everyone knows now, the state of SC has approved removal of the Confederate Battle flag from state capital grounds to a museum.  The folks at the cradle of the Confederacy were finally able to overcome the white supremacist delusions which had afflicted much of the white leadership for over 150 years. 

Most of the announced candidates, including many Republicans. agreed that the flag should be banned.  For instance
"Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, weighed in on the issue for the first time Tuesday morning, announcing his support for removing the flag in an interview with ABC radio affiliate WRKO.

“For every African American in the country it’s a symbol of slavery for them and now it’s a symbol of murder -- it’s time to put it in a museum," Paul said."

"Many declared and potential 2016 candidates wouldn’t give a clear answer on whether the flag should be removed. Republican candidates including Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum have argued the decision should be made by the people of South Carolina." Yes, the decision should be made by South Carolinians but that should not preclude someone running for President from being honest and not dancing around the issue.  Shame on these four.


Rand just reinforced my faith in libertarians.

I would add that the flag is a symbol or secession and the war which was started by S. Carolinians who fired on the ship "Star of the West' and Fort Sumter.  The primary motive for secession was fear of abolition and legal equality for blacks (obviously threatened white supremacy). The 'rights' involved were the right of whites to own blacks and right of states to authorize and enforce whites owning blacks.  Some also hoped to be able to reopen the slave trade prohibited by the Constitution and federal law.These are the rights secessionists fought for.  This is a heritage to be 'proud' of?   Over the years thousands of blacks were murdered, massacred and lynched.  Dissenters were often murdered or forced to leave.  Jim Crow laws flourished and denied blacks their basic rights.  When the Supreme Court ordered public schools desegregated, a few places closed down their public schools and many openly defied the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  It was during this time that the Confederate Battle flag became a symbol of resistance to challenges to white supremacy.  Gov. George Wallace declared 'segregation' forever.  There is much to be proud of, but too much negative historical baggage. Although many open and closet white segregationists still spout their delusions, the south has made much progress on all fronts and has much to be proud of.  Let's find a symbol of something of which to be proud.

Most of Europe and much of South and Central America had already abolished slavery.  Even the hated Mexicans beat us to abolition.

If you are unsure or disagree, do some serious research of  original sources and credible historians and you will also come to this conclusion.  DiLorenzo  is not a credible source.  See the reviews of many of his books.  Reviews written by more respected historians. Let me suggest the short paperback 'Apostles of Disunion' by historian Charles B. Dew.  This book won the 2001 Fletcher Pratt award from the Civil War Roundtable of NY.  Check out his  background, he is a self-described 'son of the south' who was taught that secession and the war were really not about slavery and white supremacy.'  He changed his mind after consulting original sources. Check out the original documents reproduced in the book.

One of these reviewers is a TCU Prof.


It's time to forgive, forget and move on.

Monday, June 29, 2015

More on the Confederate Flag Flap

Banning the Confederate flag and battle flag battle continues to heat up.  Some argue that secession and the Civil War were about state’s rights and individual liberty.  , “’Most mainstream historians now agree that slavery was the leading reason driving the conflict. From, among other sites, the Christian Science Monitor:
First; “Slavery is the major cause of the Civil War,” said James I. Robertson, a Civil War historian at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg. “There are people ... who will argue to the sky that slavery was just a byproduct, but without slavery, there was no cause for the North and the South to start killing each other.’” Robertson was born, raised and educated in the South.

See also Confederate VP Alexander Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech.”

What was the ‘state right’ involved?  The right of states to authorize and protect slavery.  White supremacy and the Bible were the the main theories used to justify the practice. What was the individual liberty involved?  The right of white people to own black people. 

Supreme Court to rehear university uses of race in admissions

From scout.blog;
"Raising new doubts about state universities and colleges’ use of race in choosing their entering classes, the Supreme Court on Monday assigned itself once more the task of judging the constitutionality of the admissions plan at Texas’s flagship university.  The grant of review of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — the Court’s second look at that case — signaled uncertainty and maybe discontent with the way a federal appeals court had carried out a new review of that plan.
At this point, the Fisher case does not appear to pose a direct threat to the Court’s most recent ruling allowing some use of race in higher education admissions — the 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.  But that precedent may be at least reinterpreted, and possibly narrowed."