Monday, April 30, 2012

More on Voter Fraud and ID's

Democrats tend to pooh-pooh the problems of voter fraud.  This is because their ox is not being gored.  An example of this naive head-in-the- sand attitude is the following.
“Despite many instances of electoral fraud internationally, in the U.S. a major study by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 showed of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud – and of those few cases, most involved persons who were simply unaware of their ineligibility. This rarity of electoral fraud in the U.S. follows from its inherent illegality. Harsh penalties aimed at deterring voter fraud make it likely that individuals who might perpetrate the fraud correctly fear that they will be discovered by election officials carefully examining voter identification.”

This excerpt from Wikipedia is typical of the na├»ve, sloppy thinking about voter fraud.  The rarity of prosecutions says more about prosecutor policies and connections and reports of the crime than about the actual occurrence of the crime.  Federal prosecutors are political appointees and probably have bigger fish to fry than voter fraud.  Local politicians also serve political interests and it is unlikely that a state or local prosecutor from Party X who is beholden to  the X political machine is going to rock the boat.  The paucity of prosecutions arguably weakens any deterrent effect.  Many poll watchers are politically-connected volunteers.  Election officials are politicians.  I have been voting for 40 years, and I have never seen any people at the polls “carefully examining voter identification.” Until states got serious about domestic violence, rape and DWI, most of the crimes were not reported or never made it to the point where they could be counted.  Finally, deterrence tends to be overrated.  Overall, the effect of most laws on behavior is over-rated.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion Cty Elec. Bd., 128 S.Ct. 1610 (2008).  As the Court notes, all the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly voted for voter ID.  All the Dems who voted voted against it.

Although not involving voter ID, the Court added this footnote:
13 See Pabey v. Pastrick, 816 N.E.2d 1138, 1151 (Ind. 2004) (holding that a special election was required because one candidate engaged in "a deliberate series of actions . . . making it impossible to determine the candidate who received the highest number of legal votes cast in the election"). According to the uncontested factual findings of the trial court, one of the candidates paid supporters to stand near polling places and encourage voters—especially those who were poor, infirm, or spoke little English—to vote absentee. The supporters asked the voters to contact them when they received their ballots; the supporters then "assisted" the voter in filling out the ballot.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zimmerman case and propaganda

The Geo. Zimmerman case has roused such passions and media distortion because it implicates a number of hot-button American culture wars issues.  Among these are concealed carry laws, self-defense, gun control and the Second Amendment.  The case was used in the U.S. Senate to put a hold on the national concealed carry reciprocity bill by none other than gun control fanatic Sen. Diane Feinstein.  There’s no need to allege conspiracies, ideologues of all stripes are always looking for a new item that they can manipulate for propaganda purposes. There's nothing wrong with examining and raising the issues of face.  However, the Left played the race card in an emotional, propagandistic fashion not only to demonize others but to attempt to gain advantage on these hot-button issues.  One of the purposes of propaganda is to foster emotion to overcome rational thought and discussion of issues.  Once the race card is played, it’s all over for sensible, intelligent, rational treatment of a case or issue.  Even if race played a factor, that’s no excuse to abandon fair and rational discussion and media coverage.  Why do so many people find it so difficult to rationally discuss our racial problems? 
See also this perceptive article by Thomas Sowell.

Commentary on the Commentator

I wanted to take this opportunity to openly respond to an e-mail I received. I know a few observers think I am a rabid conservative and conservative or libertarian ideologue the way I go after the Obama administration. The reason why I’m going after them is because they were (and still are) in charge of the White House when I started the blog. Democrats dominated Congress until the most recent elections.  If a Repub. was in the White House, and/or they were in control of Congress, I’d be hammering them.  I take the U.S. Constitution seriously--it is not a convenient tool to be manipulated by either the Liberals or Conservatives.   I am a cautious libertarian second.  The threats to constitutional government and constitutional rights come from both liberals and conservatives.  I opposed Rick Santorum because I saw him as a threat to constitutional rights.  I opposed Newt Gingrich because I saw him as an unethical, constitutional loose cannon.  I oppose Obama  because I personally see him  is a threat to constitutional government and the Bill of Rights (esp. Second and First Amendments).  As Lord Acton said, “power corrupts.”  It corrupts both the Left and the Right.  People of both parties  get in the White House and they become control freaks.  As I have said on a number of occasions, the Supreme Court should have let the recounts continue and finish before ruling in  Bush v. Gore.  The Bush administration deceived the American public on the existence of WMD’s in Iraq.   I praised Scalia for his opinion in Heller.  I hate what he is trying to do to the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule. I generally agree with the liberals on the Court on these issues.  On the other hand, the liberals were dead-wrong hypocrites in the Citizen's United case.   I praised Alito for his opinion in McDonald, but believe he was dead wrong in the Westboro Baptist Church case (Snyder v. Phelps). I believe in all constitutional rights, not just those favored by the Left or Right.  If I am an “ideologue” my ideology is “Constitutionalism.”  The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.  On policy matters, my view is that such policies, must first be constitutional.  Second, they must be rational,  and show a concern for human life and dignity.   After that, I generally subscribe to a cautiously libertarian ideology.  Libertarianism is not always going to provide a sensible or reasonable answer (e.g. legalizing cocaine and heroin). If we don’t feel comfortable as an  overall "land of the free and the home of the brave", we need to change our national anthem.

Grenades "walked" in BATF's Operation Fast and Furious

It may be  even worse that originally thought. According to CBS News,  hand grenades were allowed to walk into Mexico

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freedom of speech Canadian style

Wish the U.S. could be more like Canada? Many threatened to move there after the Supreme Court handed the presidency to Bush in 2000.  Like their health care plan? You shouldn't want this  if you  seriously believe in freedom of speech and press.  Is there a correlation between a country having socialistic programs and a lack of serious commitment to civil liberties?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

AZ's controversial law re police and illegal immigrants before Supreme Court

Oral argument heard today in D.C.  If the Obama administration was serious about controlling illegal immigration from Mexico, wouldn't it welcome, rather than challenge, the AZ law?.  The AZ law does not interfere with federal law or federal law enforcement. It's purpose is to assist these.  The fact is there are many on the political Left and Right who really don't want effective control of illegal immigrants. One of the many "let's pretend" (e.g. gun control, improving public education) games played by politicians Why doesn't the administration challenge cities that promise to offer help and "sanctuary" to illegal immigrants?

Latest on NBC's falsely edited tape in the Zimmerman case

NBC Pres. admits false editing of tape in Zimmerman case. Media ethics aren't much help if they don't kick in until after the story is run.

Thomas Sowell on racism and the Zimmerman case

Good perspective from Sowell on racism and the Geo. Zimmerman case.  Media coverage has been an embarrassment, to say the least.  Journalistic ethics is becoming an oxymoron.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Voter ID law upheld by 9th Circuit

Following U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Ninth Circuit upheld AZ's voter ID law. From the soapbox: let's first understand that most political and public policy rhetoric is just that--rhetoric. Opposition or support is more likely to be based on the principle of "who benefits?" or "whose ox is being gored?" Self-interest is always cloaked in the mantle of the public interest. Let's take a look at what really underlies the controversy over voter ID laws. Democrats oppose them because they hinder Democratic political machines from turning out the folks who will pull the straight Dem. party lever even though they know nothing about the issues or candidates. In spite of the Dems pooh-pooing the charges of election fraud, there are criminal prosecutions on this, and it is largely under-reported, and un-discovered. Dems disproportionately benefit from voter fraud. In any case, Dems are afraid it will hurt the vote for Dems. Republicans hope that, one way or the other, voter ID laws will lessen the Democratic vote. Neither side really cares about voter fraud.

Ted Nugent: Harrassed for First Amendment exercise?

Outspoken Gun rights advocate Ted Nugent was interviewed by the Secret Service for remarks that could hardly be taken as a threat to the President. Did his advocacy in favor of gun rights lead to the investigation? On the bright side, it's always good to see the Secret Service involved in something that doesn't involve prostitutes (LOL).

Today in History

1971 The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of involuntary busing to achieve racial desegregation in schools Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971). Resistance to desegregating public schools reminds me of resistance by Chicago and D.C., and some federal courts to Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment in Heller and McDonald

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Today in history: U.S. Revolution begins, 1775

The American Revolution began in earnest at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. What prompted the battle? "On April 14, 1775, Gage received instructions from Secretary of State William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, to disarm the rebels, who were known to have hidden weapons in Concord, among other locations, and to imprison the rebellion's leaders, especially Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Dartmouth gave Gage considerable discretion in his commands." See Wikipedia article linked above.

Colonists learned that British forces were coming north out of Boston to attempt to capture stores of arms and ammunition kept by local minutemen. An early warning came from Paul Revers on his famous "midnight ride." The colonists were ready and the British were ultimately forced to retreat.
This was the "short heard 'round the world."

Who leaked the crucial info. to the colonists? Could have been Gen Gage's New Jersey-born wife, Margaret Kemble Gage.
Source and recommended

For more on British efforts to disarm the colonists see Halbrook's book "The Founders' Second Amendment." This book is a must for anyone interested in the historical background on the Second Amendment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Latest on D.C. gun laws

Although the changes in D.C. law are significant, they still reflect an opposition to home ownership of handguns for defensive purposes which is protected by the Second Amendment. Both D.C. and Chicago continue to bob and weave and alter their laws to stay one step ahead of litigation. How foolish of us to think that the Bill of Rights is part of the supreme law of the land, that public officials honor their oaths to support and defend the constitution, and that they recognize the long-established authority of the Supreme Court to strike down state and federal laws.

On this Day in 2007: U.S. Supreme Court upholds federal ban on partial-birth abortions

Justice Kennedy provided the swing vote and wrote the majority opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Today in History: Virginia Tech Massacre, Emancipation in D.C.

Virginia Tech (2007) Massacre: Virginia later closed the legal loopholes that had previously allowed Cho, an individual adjudicated as mentally unsound, to purchase handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It also led to passage of the first major federal gun control measure in more than 13 years. The law strengthening the NICS were adopted in early 2008.
Bloggers take: Laws can't work if they aren't enforced.

1862: Emancipation Day in D.C.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Latest on Obama v. Supreme Court

Latest on Obama v. Supreme Court. Hard to believe that the Pres. taught a course on constitutional law. Actually, there have been lots of federal statutes invalidated by the Supreme Court. Most of these decisions coming in the last 50 or 60 years. I can't recall a President in the last 30 years who was so outspoken in his lack of respect for the Supreme Court. Obama apparently views the Constitution and the Supreme Court as dangerous obstacles in the way of his goal to use federal power to create a left-wing paradise.

Today in History: U.S. President held in contempt for "intentionally lying"

A new feature that will appear occasionally on this blog is "Today in History." Two items for today
1. Another example of the pathetic quality of people we put in the White House. According to Wikipedia, on this day in 1999, U.S. federal district Judge Susan Weber "Wright found {Pres. Bill]Clinton in contempt of court for "intentionally false" testimony in Jones v. Clinton, fined him $90,000, and referred the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court's Committee on Professional Conduct, as Clinton still possessed a law license in Arkansas.[1]

The Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Clinton's Arkansas law license in April 2000. On January 19, 2001, Clinton agreed to a five-year suspension and a $25,000 fine in order to avoid disbarment and to end the investigation of Independent Counsel Robert Ray (Starr's successor). On October 1, 2001, Clinton's U.S. Supreme Court law license was suspended, with 40 days to contest his disbarment. On November 9, 2001, the last day for Clinton to contest the disbarment, he opted to resign from the Supreme Court Bar, surrendering his license, rather than facing penalties related to disbarment." Clinton later defeated an attempt to impeach and remove him from the Presidency

2. The Civil War arguably began on this day in 1861, when Confederate forces fired on Union Forces at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More economic chaos and Eurpopean-style socialism

As others and I have noted before, the EEU with its Democratic Socialism is clearly where Obama and liberal Democrats want to take the country, in spite of little or no constitutional justification. They, and most of the media ignore the lesson of where European-style socialism has taken much of western Europe (e.g. Greece, Portugal, Ireland). Huge deficits which can only be remedied by austerity cuts which bring out riots, destruction, etc. The philosophy seems to be "full speed ahead, damn the economic realities and the European experience." Spain may be the next casualty. However, the stakes are even higher for Spain.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Democrats on federal powers

Disturbing set of quotes from Dems in Congress who seem to know little about the Constitution they swear to support and defend. Of course there are politicians on both sides of the aisle who are equally unbothered by the Bill of Rights (e.g. freedom of speech and religion, establishment clause, Fourth Amendment, takings clause, Second Amendment)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Are voice-stress tests admissible at trial?

Many police agencies are now using voice stress tests. It has been reported that it was used on George Zimmerman. Are these tests admissible at trial? The answer is, probably not.

Zimmerman-Martin Coverage a Disgrace.

I've stayed away from the Zimmerman-Martin issue as I'm sure most people have had their fill. However, the coverage of this issue has been so biased that someone has to speak out. It's so sad that journalistic ethics has become an oxymoron for many in the business. Too many journalists, on both the Left and Right have become cultural warriors. NBC fired a producer for editing Geo. Zimmerman's 911 call, apparently to make it look more like a racially motivated incident. If you have been following the coverage it is also disturbing to see so many TV and other journalists acting more like prosecutor's in this case than reporters. One segment I saw on a national network involved a newsman cross-examining Zimmerman's attorney just like a prosecutor. With the Pres. having added his two cents, Zimmerman's right to fair trial may be in jeopardy. It's time for the media to back off some, take a course in ethics and journalism, and let the system do it's work.

Friday, April 06, 2012

More propaganda and inaccurate data on SYG and justifiable homicide.

The claim that Florida's SYG law led to a massive increase in justifiable homicides in that state is probably not true/accurate. Of course, those who are anti-gun, anti-self defense and anti-Second Amendment have latched on to this and the Trayvon Martin killing and created a propaganda cottage industry. As the nation's leading expert on gun crimes etc. FSU Prof. Gary Kleck states in the linked article, such rapid increases are much more likely to be the result in changes in statistical and reporting rules/formats than a change in human behavior. Rapid, huge changes in human behavior are usually statistical/reporting quirks. Further, the law rarely causes such large, rapid changes. Most citizens and criminals don't know the law. Sometimes I don't know if it is a lack of sophistication about law/statistics/reporting/human behavior or just plain ideological bias. Suffice it to say that there is a massive propaganda attack underway on the Second Amendment, concealed carry and self-defense.

2nd Amendment Takes Another Hit

Anyone who thinks that the federal courts are generally enthusiastic about protecting people's rights, needs to look at recent Second Amendment caselaw. The most recent travesty is reported here. This is not rocket science. The Second Amendment specifically mentions a right to "bear" arms. A total ban cannot possibly be constitutional. The author of the article is a UCLA law professor.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

More delay and shenanigans in Second Amendment case

The Nordyke case from Calif. was expected to be a potential Second Amendment case for the Supreme Court. The generally anti-gun Ninth Circuit has pulled an unusual move by ordering the case to mediation, even though an opinion in the case was in the process of being written.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Thoughts on parts of Lincoln's Second Inaugural speech. OT (off-topic)

At the risk of identifying myself as a "Yankee," and demonstrating that I am a "scatter brain," I must confess that Lincoln is, IMHO, our greatest President and greatest presidential orator. (Notice, I said greatest, not perfect). I occasionally like to turn to other topics than CL&J. I have been re-reading some of his addresses and have begun to focus on some new parts of these. Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural address (Mar. 1864) is one of his greatest. I am always trying to see things the way contemporaries of events saw them. I am not a conventionally religious person, and my interest in the Bible is primarily academic. Back then, most people and Presidents were much more seriously religious than today, and were more into the Old Testament than most of today's Christians. In the Old Testament God's wrath and vengeance are common themes along with horrible plagues, massacres, bloody wars and other tragedies. I see this reflected in the following dark but lyrical segment of that speech. Is Lincoln saying that the Civil War a reflection of God's anger at American for it's slavery?
"Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." How do you interpret this? Is this "as ye reap, so shall ye sow?"

Suggested Reading about the Civil War.

If you are like me, you are constantly looking for good non-fiction reading. I'd like to occasionally share some suggestions. As you know, we are currently in the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Few events have had such an impact on our political and legal institutions. I have been doing some reading to try to get a better understanding of this horrendous tragedy.
If you would like a short, readable paperback on the war try Batty and Parish's The Divided Union: A Concise History of the American Civil War. A few of the things I was not aware of were (1) that the timidity of the Union's early Generals may have been in part, a reaction to wildly exaggerated "intelligence" reports on Confederate strength. (2)One key figure who has not gotten his historical due is Union Adm. David G. Farragut who, defying long odds, captured the largest city in the Confederacy--New Orleans, and then later took the key Gulf port of Mobile, Alabama.
As you probably know, James Buchanan was President before Lincoln. He is consistently rated by historians and political scientists as being among the worst of U.S. Presidents. Being curious about why Buchanan couldn't or wouldn't do more to prevent war, I decided to read up on him. I'd recommend Jean H. Baker's, short and very readable paperback "James Buchanan." (Part of the American Presidents Series of books). I was also interested in why the British stayed out of the war. Their involvement could have changed the course of history. On this topic I'd recommend Amanda Foreman's "A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the Civil War." This is a long book and not easy reading, but worth it. For better or worse it spends a lot of time on the personalities involved and highlights problems in Lincoln's cabinet. Finally, there are oodles of books on Lincoln, who seems to be the consensus #1 President in numerous surveys of historians and political scientists. If you are interested in more on Lincoln and delving into the ideology, political, philosophical, constitutional and religious dimensions of slavery, the Union, secession etc., a long and sometimes difficult read is Jaffa's "A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War."
I learned a lot. If you are a Lincoln-hater, this is not a book for you. If anyone out there would like to recommend a book on any of these topics, please share it with us.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Fourth Amendment rights take another hit!

Going against what seemed to be the direction of the precedents and the holdings of most lower courts, the Supreme Court increased government power to conduct strip searches of anyone placed in the general jail population, even if the placement is temporary. There is no requirement of any reasonable suspicion or that the person be arrested for a drug, weapons or violent crime. Justice Kennedy voted with the conservatives to allow the search. The liberals dissented. I go with them on this one. Kennedy and the conservatives have consistently, but not always, voted against Fourth Amendment rights and the exclusionary rule. As on wag put it: "Civil liberties are so pre-9-11."

Monday, April 02, 2012

Another 911 Problem: Swatting

The disturbing and illegal practice of "swatting" has gotten so frequent is has even earned a page on Wikpedia. See this case for a recent example.

Disturbing case involving 911 call

False information conveyed by crime victim may have contributed to the death of an unarmed suspect.