Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More on NDAA indefinite detention

This article may help clarify the issues.The issue is not who will or might be detained or how the offense is defined.  The issue is the government's power to detain.  This power includes the power to detain/arrest U.S. Citizens on U.S. soil.  How can a person defend themselves if they are never charged and tried?  Although this might seem like something that is not likely to happen to a truly innocent person, that is not the issue. The government must not even be granted this power.  How will this person who is wrongly detained be able to clear themselves?.  The Pres. has promised never to abuse the law. Do you trust him? How much goes on that the Pres. doesn't even know about, or pretends not to know about.  This is too important to take the risk.  If you are arrested or detained in the U.S. by government, you have certain rights. PERIOD.  

Latest on NDAA lawsuit

The District Court's injunction against the "indefinite detention"  provision was stayed pending further Court of Appeals review. See the first comment below the article. This is another issue crying out for Supreme Court review.  Thanks to Bennett Jones for the link.

Univ. of Cal to pay nearly $1million to settle pepper spray suit.

The cash-strapped Univ. of Calif. has settled a lawsuit against its campus police for nearly $1 million.  I suspect they have a better use for the $, but too many public officials and police executives just view this as a part of the normal cost of doing business. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good Article on Domestic Drones & 4th Amend.

This article is a good start.  However, we will proably have to wait for a U.S. Supreme Court decision to finally  settle this.

TIH: 1789, 1981

The first United States Congress adopted 12 amendments to the Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. (Ten of the amendments became the Bill of Rights.)
Sandra Day O'Connor was sworn in as the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, we have 3 females on the Court--all liberals.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Obamacare exemptions for AARP

In an earlier post I suggested that we need to look at who gets exemptions from Obamacare.  Haven't found much on this, but it appears that AARP got some.  Given the amount of insurance they sell, this is a significant gap.  If anyone else has anything on this, please post.  I bet you'll find lots of Obama "sympathizers" got exemptions.

Myths About Libertarianism

Although I find Lew Rockwell over the top sometimes, this article on conservative myths about libertarianism is enlightening and is perhaps at least part of what I label "cautious" libertarianism.

More Bad News for Higher Ed

This Walter Williams column suggests that not only have things been watered down,  and students know little, but, academia has become extremely politicized. The National Association of Scholars report on Calif. is here.  The lean to the left was accelerated in the '60's, and when us baby-boomers got into academia it was allover.  The politicization is nothing new to anyone who has been in higher ed as long as I have. Note that I personally abandoned the far left when it became clear that it was hypocritical, authoritarian, deceptive, manipulative and had no real interest in "liberating" people.  It was more interested in manipulating, controlling and buying the votes of  those it was pretending to advocate for.  I put Obama in this category as well as a lot of well-meaning, nurturing and naive people on the left.

TIH: 1755, 1789

John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the United States, was born in Germantown, Virginia.
Congress passed the First Judiciary Act, which provided for an attorney general and a Supreme Court.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New High Tech and the 4th Amend. decision

Fourth Amendment law is in its relative infancy when it come to high-tech matters.  This summary is  from FLETC., (a good source for anyone interested in law and policing).  While this decision, although it seems sensible, could always be overruled, it is at least a starting point.

"U.S. v. Skinner, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 16920, August 14, 2012
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents suspected that Skinner was driving cross-country in a motorhome with a load of marijuana. The agents obtained a court order that authorized the phone company to release subscriber information, cell site information, GPS real-time location and “ping” data for a pay-as-you-go cell phone owned by Skinner. By continuously “pinging” his phone, the agents learned that Skinner had stopped somewhere near Abilene, Texas where they eventually found his motorhome parked at a truck stop. After Skinner denied the agents request to search the vehicle, an officer walked his drug-dog around the perimeter of the motorhome. The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics and the agents searched the motorhome where they discovered over 1,100 pounds of marijuana.
Skinner argued that the use of the GPS location information emitted from his cell phone was a warrantless search that violated the Fourth Amendment.

The court held that there was no Fourth Amendment violation because Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off by his voluntarily procured pay-as-you-go cell phone as he traveled on public roadways. If a tool used to transport contraband gives off a signal that can be tracked for location, the police may track the signal. The law cannot be that a criminal is entitled to rely on the expected untrackability of his tools. In addition, although not necessary to a finding that there was no Fourth Amendment violation, the government’s case was strengthened by the fact that the agents sought court orders to obtain information on Skinner’s location because of the GPS capabilities of his cell phone.
Click HERE for the court’s opinion."

Police Corruption in D.C.

Article hot off the presses re the police corruption problem in D.C. Police.
"Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska who specializes in police accountability, said he was astonished by the sheer numbers of D.C. police officers arrested and the level of criminality.

The arrests raise questions about the recruiting, the screening, and the disciplinary process, Walker said. Bad conduct appears when there's an absence of accountability and there's a sense that the officers can get away with it, he said.
He found the news particular alarming in light of the fact that the Metropolitan Police Department had enacted a number of reforms after the U.S. Department of Justice investigated allegations police shootings and of excessive use of force.
"That should have taken care of a lot of these things. You have to ask, what has happened?," Walker said.
Lanier said the comparison of the D.C. police department to New Orleans was "ridiculous."
"I am confident that there is not wide-spread corruption across the police department," {P.D. Chief  Cathy] Lanier said. 

It all starts at the top, Cathy. And D.C. thought handguns in people's homes were the problem.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good Decision Striking Down TX's Voter ID Law

Texas’ new voter ID law was struck down by a 3-judge U.S.District Court panel. Having read the opinion I agree.  Although voter fraud and irregularity are real problems (see “Acorn” and “New Black Panther” cases) and political machines are often notorious for voter fraud, Texas’ law goes too far and is more stringent than laws previously upheld and empirically found to have no effect on voter turn out. See “Pravda’s” article here.  Basically, win-at-any-cost Republican legislatures are trying to overcome “win-at-any-cost” Democratic voter fraud by enacting over-the-top voter ID laws.  The Supreme Court, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board,553 U.S. 181(2008), and other courts have upheld some voter ID laws, but, IMHO this one goes too far.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.

My reasoning:
1.  I trust the Republican-dominated Texas legislature on this issue about as much as I trust Chicago and D.C. City Councils--at least when it comes to fair play.  The Repubs have a strong interest in depressing the low-income and minority votes (these folks tend to vote Democrat)
2. Associated costs are too high, esp relative to other states.(See opinion pp. 4-5, 26-7) Has this become a “poll tax?”  It strikes me that increasing voting participation is a good thing.  There should be minimal  costs, if any to vote.  The government should at least provide the required documents at minimal costs.
3.  Some applicants must go to a Texas DPS Office: As the opinion notes (p. 27):
“The United States submitted unrebutted evidence showing that "81 Texas counties have no [DPS] office, and 34 additional counties have [DPS] offices open two days per week or less." Proposed Findings of Fact by Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. ("U.S. Proposed Findings") Doc. 223 at 6, see also Am. Compl., ECF No. 25 Ex. 7 at 4. This means that in at least one-third of Texas's counties, would-be voters will have to travel out-of-county merely to apply for an EIC. Georgia and Indiana voters face no such burdens. Indeed, Georgia law requires each county to "provide at least one place in the county at which it shall accept applications for and issue [free] Georgia voter identification cards." Ga. Code Ann. ? 21-2-417.1(a). Similarly, every Indiana county has a BMV office that is required by law to disperse "free" photo IDs. See Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Branch Locations and Hours, available online at (last visited August 28, 2012)."
4.  The state of Texas has the legal burden of proof.  In light of the conflicting “empirical” evidence, they have not met that burden. The myth of "social social objectivity” is clearly demonstrated by the inconsistent research results.  Research where the investigator made a good faith effort to conduct unbiased research on hot-button topics is extremely hard to find.

Latest on BATF's "Fast and Furious"

FWIW: Latest government report on BATF's Operation Fast and Furious.  Haven't had a chance to look at it in detail, but it appears to conclude that AG Holder had no prior knowledge.  Hate to sound so cynical, but I am always wary of a government agency that investigates itself and about redacted reports.  I realize there are legitimate reasons for redactions (e.g. protecting informants), but in a highly politicized administration facing a tough re-election campaign, I find it hard to be trusting. Further, as noted on p. 4 of the report, a number of  key witnessess could not be located, refused to cooperate, etc. Perhaps this is an OIG with integrity, I don't know.  Thanks to Henry Schaeffer for the link.  If anyone has time to go through it, please share your impressions, conclusions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Latest on NDAA

Sorry I haven't had time to dig into the NDAA issue and report thereon.  My apologies to 44.   The start of the semester is always hectic and now I'm working on my Constitution Day Presentation.  Check out this legal decision. FWIW: Note this is a Ron Paul-type libertarian website.  To be on the safe side, if you have time, read the actual opinion.

The American Housing and Economic Collapse

Great article on the causes of the housing collapse in the U.S. which led to the even bigger collapse and our current malaise. Government trying to control things with disastrous consequences. Sometimes ideology blinds politicians and people to the likely consequences of their acts.  Sometimes right- or left-wing political correctness trumps reality and the consequences can be devastating.  Stalin's, Hitler's and Mao's obsession with ideology over reality cost millions of lives.  We need leaders who make some attempt to live in and understand the real word.  Not la-la landers.

The reality of gas and energy prices

The further we get into the campaign, the more disappointed I am in Romney.  Rather than trying to capture the political center, he seems to be more interested in placating the Tea Party.  The Obama campaign plays the race and class and other cards and draws the party further to the Left. He has alienated many Jewish voters who usually vote Democratic.  Many American and Israel leaders and journalists label Obama the most anti-Israel Pres.ever. Like most politicians both mouth too many platitudes and oversimplifies complex issues.  An example is Mitt's comments on high gas prices.  For a rich guy, he doesn't seem to understand much about economics and energy markets.  This article explains the economic reality of gas prices. If you want to understand the economic and political reality of the international energy situation, I strongly recommend Daniel Yergin's book "The Quest."  In a the highly competitive and unstable international market, we are largely at the mercy of many others and national events.  Yes, we can increase domestic production but that is only a partial answer.  Further, even if we increase domestic production, what if the Chinese and Indians offer to pay more?  Will we pass a law outlawing domestic export of oil? I don't think we want to start down that road with all the potential reprisals.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Intellectually shabby" Supreme Court Opinion

Have finally had some time to dig into the Supreme Court's Obamacare (NFIB v. Sebelius) decision.  Robert's argues that the penalty for not signing up for health care is really a "tax."  I've seem a lot of really weak and ridiculous things in Supreme Court opinions, but his is one of the recent worst.  As this article notes: " Here the key statement that he makes is this:  “it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.” With all respect, the point is little short of absurd. The earlier portion of the Chief Justice’s opinion noted the huge expansion in federal power that could arise if the government were permitted to regulate various forms of inactivity.  What possible argument then could be put forward to say that the same risks do not apply to the expansion of the taxing authority to those same forms of inactivity, in ways that it has never been exercised before. The two examples that the Chief Justice gives are the tax on buying gasoline or earning income. Both of those are obvious activities that have long been regarded as acceptable bases for taxation. But not buying health insurance is not an activity.  I am not aware of any tax imposed on individuals for not buying gasoline and not earning income, or not taking a bath or not working in a home office. To allow this to stand as a tax is to accept the same kind of absurdity that was rejected in connection with the commerce power.  Intellectually shabby, to say the least."


'nuff said.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Good Website on CyberCrime and CyberSnooping

Check out this website if you are interested in CyberCrime and CyberSnooping. These are areas that are going to keep expanding rapidly.

Big 2nd Amend Case in Process

A number of states have argued (rightly so) that under the Second Amendment, applicants for concealed carry permits who meet all the requirements do not have to make a showing of specific need. The excellent opinion by the District Court is here.  This case is also important because the lower court held that the Second Amendment is not limited to the home. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this case and clarify the scope and standard of review for the Second Amendment.

Drew Peterson Guilty

Drew Peterson (of "Drew's law," see  below) was found guilty of murder he faces up to 60 years in prison. Innocent or guilty, his case is beginning to look a little Kafkaesque. Does the media attention cause judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and jurors to go a little wacko?  Looks like lots of appealable issues, but who knows how it will turn out.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

9-year old boy charged with murder.

Believe it or not, he is not the youngest.  This case will go to juvenile court.

U.N. Arms Treaty collapses, U.N. Presses on with new initiative

Talks on he U.N. Arms treaty that could have led to new gun controls in the U.S. if ratified and D.C. v. Heller was over-ruled (see earlier post), petered out. However, the busy beavers at the U.N. and gun controllers are staying busy.

Article on "government-imposed racial labels"

Good article on "government-imposed racial labels" and the Fisher case from the Supreme Court's next term on affirmative action. Pardon my "political incorrectness," and "racism", but  IMHO, if they ever were, racial preferences are no longer justified.  "Equal Protection" means "equal protection."    As Justice  Harlan wrote (dissenting in Plessy v. Ferguson): "Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law."   While racial preferences may have been motivated originally by good intentions, they have become a form of patronage and vote-buying. Preferences only add to the division of a badly-divided country.  Further, even if justified, such programs should be authorized only by a politically accountable source (governor, legislator).  Higher ed faculty and administrators generally lean far left and have no political (and rarely any other kind of serious accountability) accountability for rights violations.  Lawsuits are the only real remedy.  Of course, the taxpayer pays the costs for the legal defense of these policies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

FIRE'S 7 Best Colleges for Free Speech

FIRE is an organization that presses and litigates for free speech on college campuses. It has released it list of the 7 top colleges respecting freedom of speech.

(Drew's Law) Evidence Law Changed to Help Prosecution with Case

Former police officer Drew Peterson is charged with murdering his wife.  The issue here is hearsay testimony from friends of the victim that implicate Peterson.  The investigation was botched and the prosecutor specifically asked for a change in the law to help him with a botched case. Unlike many laws that are named after victims, this one is named after the defendant-- "Drew's law." This may have happened before, but it's the first time I've seen an evidence rule changed specifically to help a particular prosecutor get a specific conviction.  Yes, once passed the rule of evidence applies to all cases, but this troubles me.  Does this comport with due process which requires "fundamental fairness?"  Secondly, it may be unconstitutional under the Sixth Amendment confrontation clause.  Even if guilty, Peterson is entitled to due process and Sixth Amendment rights. The case will go to the jury today after the challenged hearsay was admitted. If convicted, this case may get to the U.S. Supreme Court. I wonder if changes will be requested in Florida law to help the prosecution in the George Zimmerman case?

P.S. Internet searches are so great.  They  allow everyone the opportunity to become a e-investigative reporter.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Dem Party Platform on 2nd Amend & Gun Control

The 2012 Republican Platform was discussed in prior post.The 2012 Democratic National Platform provides:

“Firearms.  We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American
tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We
believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible
consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and
precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms. We can focus on effective
enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work
together to enact commonsense improvements – like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole – so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”

Not nearly as strong as the Republican platform reviewed earlier. First it states that firearms are subject to “reasonable regulation.”  This sounds like the minimal judicial scrutiny under which almost all regulation is upheld. “Reasonable” is a very vague standard.  No mention of self-defense or the thousands of incidents of lawful self-defense that occurs with firearms every year. They call for an “honest, national conversation about firearms.”  This has never happened before and probably never will    As indicated in a prior post, the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment (D.C. v. Heller)hangs by one vote on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Anyone who thinks that Obama will put a pro-Heller Justice on the Court is living in a dream world.  His first appointee, Sotomayor voted against making the Second Amendment applicable against the states. Notice the call for reinstatement of the “assault weapons” ban.  It didn’t have any effect on crime when it was in force.  Yes, life is fragile and we need more effective enforcement of existing laws (no more BATF “fast and furious” fiascos). More hot air.  On this issue, Dems speak with forked-tongue.  On the other hand, party platforms are often ignored once the election is over. Perhaps the Democratic left (which dominates the party) will get off this hobby-horse.  I doubt it.  This issue has too strong an ideological hold on the Left.