Monday, June 30, 2014

Another victory for First Amendment in spite of opposition from liberal justices.

As with the Hobby Lobby case (see below) the conservatives applied the First Amendment and gave the politically incorrect Plaintiffs a victory.  The liberal justices, following their hypocritical and ideologically-drive ways held that these plaintiffs, who had politically incorrect views, should not get First Amendment protection.  Contrary to the liberals, civil liberties protects even those with whom we disagree. 

Hobby Lobby wins hot-button Religious Freedom case

On its last day this term, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Obamacare case.  The closely-held for-profit corporation prevailed.  The Court split along the usual ideological lines.  The liberals continued their hypocritical position that civil liberties rights may only be relied on by those whose interests support liberal causes.  Personally, I don't care what the results are from an ideological perspective.  I only care what the law requires and that civil liberties by interpreted broadly both in scope and plaintiff coverage.  I agree with the decision.   Let the Left howl. It only exposes their hypocrisy and authoritarianism. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Supreme Court limits warrantless searches of cell phones of arrestees.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that police may not automatically search the cell phone of a person subject to a lawful arrest without a warrant.  However, they did not rule out warrantless searches of such phones based on other exceptions to the warrant requirement.  It was good to see the conservatives and Kennedy strengthening 4th Amendment protection in this high tech situation. Cell phones contain so much personal information unrelated to crime that the decision makes a lot of sense.  Certainly the phone presents no threat to the officers.  There may be something of evidentiary value on the phone, but there is such a potential for invasion of privacy unrelated to  criminal activity that such warrantless searches are not reasonable. There was some prior law that could have been stretched to allow such searches as an incident to a lawful arrest.    There are still lots of high-tech search and seizure issues the Court needs to get to.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Do Violent video games stoke violence?

Many people fear that the violence among young people is stimulated in part by first-person violent video games.  A number of recent young mass murderers (e.g. Adam Lanza) were heavy consumers.  The research results are mixed, but new research suggests that heavy exposure can result in slow moral growth and the erosion of the capacity for empathy.  President Obama has suggested that Congress make funds available for more research on the issue. I agree with him for once.

youth curfews coming back?

Youth curfews appear to making a comeback.  Some cities have them on the books but stopped enforcing them.  Others, such as Baltime, are enacting new ones.  As with any increase in police discretion, everyone will need to be on alert for constitutional violations.  However it may help and give parents some more influence. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

bizarre not guilty verdict. Ironically the defendant enjoyed his freedom only a few hours

One of the most bizarre mistaken not guilty verdicts ever. The prosecution should have asked the judge to "poll" the jury and this outrage might have been prevented. 

CA judge tenatively strikes down unreasonable publc school teacher tenure and due process laws.

Public School Teachers Unions were once trying to be part of the solution to our educational woes.  Now they are part of the problem many places.  Politicians bought teacher and union support by making generous pension offers and making it too quick and easy for teachers to get tenured status and much too difficult to dismiss incompetent teachers.  Similar dynamics and results for other employees  have bankrupted, or nearly bankrupted, a number of American jurisdictions and resulted in deteriorating public services.  Now a state court judge in CA has had the courage to expose this travesty.  He ruled that excessive teacher tenure and due process rights have resulted in too many bad teachers ending up in poor and minority dominated schools.   Low-income and minority students are disproportionately stuck with `grossly’ ineffective teachers because of these laws. He concluded that the challenged laws violate the students’ fundamental right to equality of education and/or a quality education.  This is a right under many state constitutions and could also raise 14th Amendment equal protection issues..  There will be appeals and the ruling may not stand, but it has finally brought the issue to public attention. 

Left-wing political correctness a left-wing form of "McCarthyism"

It's always a  little disconcerting when a public figure whom one dislikes and disagrees with confirms your pre-existing, independent observations.  Former NY mayor, gun control and nanny state advocate Michael Bloomberg correctly likens the left-wing political correctness that dominates most college campuses to the right-wing McCarthyism of the 1950's.  As you may recall  "McCarthyism" was the right-wing rabid anti-communism that dominated American discourse until it collapsed under its and McCarthy's excessiveness and disrespect for First Amendment rights.  What Bloomberg was referring to was how leftist faculty and students fought to block commencement speakers with whom they disagreed.  When ideology (of any type) and authoritarianism merge, rights are in serious jeopardy  This source, a full page article from the NYT, is worth perusing in full as it has some interesting excerpts from commencement speeches.

Black gun owners

Good, and unusually balanced (for the NYT), article about black gun owners in the U.S.  The NORC figures quoted on gun ownership for both blacks and whites are, IMHO, too low to be accurate.  Many gun owners deny ownership because it is "politically incorrect," and/or they don't trust government and/or they are not sure if their ownership is legal (e.g. have a felony conviction, live in a housing development, etc.  The black political and religious establishment slavishly follow the white liberal anti-gun rhetoric.  Yet, law-abiding blacks have more need for defensive weapons than law-abiding whites.  Police protection is often second-class in many black neighborhoods.  Further, as one speaker noted correctly (quoted in NYT aticle):
Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wis. — a speaker at the N.R.A. convention who has encouraged his constituents, regardless of their race, to arm themselves for protection — said many blacks were not aware of their history with guns in America.
“The reality is self-defense, and the firearm played a key role in the freeing of the slaves,” Sheriff Clarke said. “So what I’ve seen as my role is just to re-engage the black community with their history and let them figure it out for themselves. But right now they are being fed a lot of propaganda.”

Let's hope that author and law professor Nicholas Johnson is correct as per this quote from the NYT article:

"Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University and author of the book “Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms,” said blacks today were less influenced by the anti-gun views of many black leaders. “We are out of that stage where people look to the black political class as their savior,” Mr. Johnson said.' 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Left-wing authoritarianism at work: Amend 1st Amend to give Congress more power

Unfortunately this country is plagued by authoritarians of both the left and right.  The left-dominated media ignores the sins of the left.  The Second Amendment has been a frequent target of the left.  Now freedom of political speech is the target of a proposed constitutional amendment.  The hearings involve the usual left-wing crap.  Outrageous!

Saturday, June 07, 2014

FBI underreports justifiable homicides

Many have long concluded that the FBI's data underreports justifiable homicide. This article shows an example.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Judge and Public Defender Duke it out!

Where to they find these people?  The actual dustup took place off-camera.  Predictably, the judge has volunteered for anger-management classes. 

Our law-breaking President.

In the swap of 5 Taliban detainees for a U.S. Pow/"deserter?"he President failed to abide by a statute that requires 30 days notice of releases from Guantanamo.  The White House argued a number of legal and practical points, none of which justify this failure to follow the rule of law.  Lame excuses are embarrassments.  For instance, the fact that former Pres. Bush did it is irrelevant.  IMHO Bush was a failure.  Repeating an offense committed by other  people previously doesn't justify ignoring the law.  Just because others ignored the law and got away  with it, is no justification.  Although it is a long shot with Dems still in control of the Senate, I think we need to start talking about an impeachment resolution.  Where is the incentive to follow the law if there are no negative consequences for violating in?  People with power tend to forget that the rule also applies to them.  Leaders who won't follow the law, or think they are above it, pose a serious danger to democracy and individual rights. Some in his own party are criticizing the way he handled it. I would hope by now that everyone would agree that the only "change" all we got was more left-wing policies.  We didn't get more honesty, integrity and transparency.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Book argues that rates of violence have declined over human history

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker, Viking, 832 pp., $40  Pinker's data has convinced many reviewers that rates of violence in our species have declined over time. One reviewer wrote (see link) "Pinker demonstrates that long-term data trumps anecdotes. The idea that we live in an exceptionally violent time is an illusion created by the media’s relentless coverage of violence, coupled with our brain’s evolved propensity to notice and remember recent and emotionally salient events. Pinker’s thesis is that violence of all kinds—from murder, rape, and genocide to the spanking of children to the mistreatment of blacks, women, gays, and animals—has been in decline for centuries as a result of the civilizing process.... Picking up Pinker’s 832-page opus feels daunting, but it’s a page-turner from the start." I have not read the book but my impression is that Pinker is correct.

All of this in spite of all the guns in the world.  More guns means less crime? 

Monday, June 02, 2014

New 2nd Amendment book

There's a new 2nd Amendment book out. I cannot comment on the book as I haven't read it. It's
"This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible." by Charles E. Cobb, Jr.   This American Civil rights scholar chronicles the crucial role armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities.   This is an often ignored part of the black civil rights movement in this country.  My own research and that of others confirms this thesis.  If you've read it, please post a brief review in a comment.                           

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Good article on the media

Great article on one of the main problems with the media in this country from the NYT Sunday by Frank Bruni (at link).  He writes: "Something happens, and before the facts are even settled, the morals are deduced and the lessons drawn. The story is absorbed into agendas. Everyone has a preferred take on it, a particular use for it. And as one person after another posits its real significance, the discussion travels so far from what set it in motion that the truth — the knowable, verifiable truth — is left in the dust." My favorite example is the George Zimmerman case which was turned into a pseudo-civil liberties,  white racism  issue.  The facts of the case were ignored. Also ignored were the facts that the prosecution's case was very weak and Zimmerman was acquitted.

The VA fiasco and the "let's pretend facade."

Turns out that the VA scheduling problems and long waits were reported numerous time in the past.  Presidents and Congresses did little or nothing while pretending to care about medical care for veterans.  This is an example of what I call the pernicious but widespread "let's pretend façade."  Let's pretend we really care about X."" Let's pretend we  really know how to fix X and will do so." Politicans need to pretend to get elected/re-elected.  Public officials need to look good.  The problem is related to the difficulty of measuring the quality of human services. How do we measure and evaluate rates of successful medical treatment?  Without a good, "reasonably priced," measure, or fear of using a real measure which will make politicians and public figures look bad, faulty proxy measures are used. For example, how many vets are seen within so many days of asking for an appointment? This is no doubt, an important measure, but not really what we are interested in.  The next problem is that in order to get raises, bonuses and promotions, people will cook the books as the VA did.  An additional problem is that concern about quality care disappears as officials become obsessed with the appointment date figures.  A similar problem occurs in higher education.  How do we measure the quality of education?  Complex measures are expensive and cut into budgets, esp. budgets for administrators' perks, salaries, bonuses, etc.  So we look for an easy to measure and one that is easy to manipulate.  We go with retention and graduation rates.  If these figures are "too low" programs and courses will be dumbed down to bring rates up. Ultimately, quality education suffers but the numbers look good. Politicians and officials pretend they really care. The "victims" are taxpayers, veterans, clients, students and employers.  The public obsession with having government fix everything and create a heaven on earth exacerbate the problems.  Other examples are "let's pretend that more gun laws will reduce violence," and "let's pretend that public prayer in public school will make us a more decent and honest country."  Of course, politicians and officials are the only ones who use this façade.  All human being are too readily able to delude themselves and try to delude others.    Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance and the solutions thereto seem to be appropriate here